It hadn’t always been this way, a time and place of reduction, of vanishing, of things slipping away. No, not things, he corrected himself. People. Individual men, women, and children, those were what he was dealing with, what he was in search of. For some reason, they had started to disappear, as simple and quick as turning a page, and just as quietly. No warnings, no gasps, no dropped phone calls, no doors slammed, and no cars speeding into the night. It wasn’t as if they were trying to get away from him, he was sure of that. Nor was...

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“Professor Steinmetz? Professor Henry Steinmetz?” asked a man in a dark suit and sunglasses approaching him as students filed out from his afternoon lecture on particle physics. He nodded. “Yes. Can I help you?” The man looked official; he could see a gun holstered on his belt beneath his suit jacket. Although never employed by the DoD, he’d acted as an advisor to certain projects conducted under the aegis of DARPA and had co-authored briefing papers for both the Pentagon and the White House, so was used to the occasional official approaching him like this. The man flashed a badge...

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It was a surreal combination of the thrill of victory and lead shot in my stomach when the head of the review board said, “Congratulations Dr. Danque, the board has decided to offer you a slot in the Settler program.” It was the culmination of what I’d spent my adult life trying to accomplish, but the moment had a bittersweet tang to it. Ella would be devastated. I was devastated. It was so unfair, she was just as strong a candidate as I was. Why did they offer me a slot and not her? “Thank you, ma’am, it’s an incredible...

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Q It used to be considered as a disease. Parents told about abnormalities in the amniotic fluid would weep inconsolably, and consider the option of a late termination, fully supported by the medical world. Those who believed the presence of life outweighed the ability to endure it bore children into a world they could never truly understand, other than through pain and confusion. As science, and society grew in strength, and illnesses vanished, and the scope of normal was stretched beyond the narrow confines of the 19th century, which itself was wholly permissive by the standards of the 16th, several...

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Certainly, if ever a man found a guinea when he was looking for a pin it is my good friend Professor Gibberne. I have heard before of investigators overshooting the mark, but never quite to the extent that he has done. He has really, this time at any rate, without any touch of exaggeration in the phrase, found something to revolutionise human life. And that when he was simply seeking an all-round nervous stimulant to bring languid people up to the stresses of these pushful days. I have tasted the stuff now several times, and I cannot do better than

Through the tinted glass of the office window, the clouds above the sea seemed to Joseph like enormous swollen bursts of orange dust. He sighed. He looked from the flat plane of glass to the bowed screen of his computer monitor. He tapped weakly at the keyboard. Symbols flickered back at him, tiny and meaningless. Joseph glanced at the clock on the wall above the photocopier. 12.40pm. He darted his eyes over to where his Team Leader was sitting. She hadn’t noticed his attention shift away from his desk. She hated it when people clock-watched. Joseph felt his stomach contract...

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The blood pooled in the foreigner’s beige shirt, just over his belt. Some of it spilled over the side, filling up a red lake beneath him. Littlebig listened for the foreigner’s shallow breathing, and waited for the dark. Dark brought cover and a chance of rescue for the boy and the foreigner. “We know there are two rebels there behind the wall,” came the sniper’s voice. “And we are going to come for you. Do you think we are afraid somehow to come down there? I assure you we are not. We are waiting for you to come out.” Littlebig...

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The portable classroom was larger than Joan Ellen had expected. Lit from overhead with fluorescent lights and busy with seventh-grade artwork, it smelled of chalk dust, old books, and refrigerated air. It reminded Joan Ellen of home. These days, most everything reminded Joan Ellen of home – or at least how far she was from it. She tried to pay attention, but now Joan felt the yawning chasm of distance, the thousands upon thousands of miles between Tunis and DC. “I’ll put this as simply as I can,” Mrs. Thornton said. “Patrick is a brilliant boy.” Liz Thornton was Patrick’s...

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“Wait for the next transporter to go by, then force the door,” Jenkins said. I liked Jenkins; he looked after me. Others wouldn’t, most wouldn’t even talk to me. I liked his Welsh accent, the way he smiled and treated me like a younger brother. I was nearly a foot taller and 10 kilos heavier but he still looked out for me. I waited behind the rear door to Med7 and surveyed the camp; dozens of soldiers moving with purpose over the desert sand, shifting crates to piles next to where the planes were loading. Despite the late hour, the...

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Originally published in Esquire, issue #3151, March 23rd, 2064. While waiting in the Austin terminal for my mono to Ottawa, I began to think. Ten years ago, this trip would’ve taken two hours. Now, it’s a brisk thirty-five minutes. Barely enough time for my coffee to cool down. I’m thankful for it, too. I hate the crowds. Constant shoving, the noise and chatter, the smells, the pick-pockets and wide-eyed gypsy kids. On the train, I buy breakfast from a peddler. Pancake cubes are my favourite but the girl only has fry-up cubes left. Another problem with the crowds. If they...

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