Day One “Who is your Original?” asks the doctor, shining a bright light in your eyes. You blink, glancing left and right. Either side of you are others, blank, damp and hairless like you. Doctors take their temperatures, their blood, their heart-rates. “…I — ” Your tongue feels thick and clumsy in your mouth, like you’ve never used it before. “Who is your Original?” he asks again, lowering his flashlight and peering intensely into your face instead. You feel ashamed for some reason, aware of your paper gown and scrawny forearms. You avert your eyes and shake your head, taking...

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Stravinsky’s Les Augures printaniers wasn’t as mad as he came off. It was more disappointment that made him protest to Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major BWV 1047 (First Movement) that they should scrub the whole meeting and head for home. Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major BWV 1047 (First Movement) insisted however they give Earth a chance to make up for its disappointing first impression, a motion she was backed up on by “Der Hölle Rache” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute and “Chanson du Toréador” from Bizet’s Carmen. These weren’t actually the names of The Diplomats from...

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Damon Waltz stood in the field across from his mother’s one-bedroom apartment. He stared at his small, brown dog as it paced back and forth through the sopping-wet grass. It was raining, and Damon’s clothes were soaked down to his skin. He shook his hand free from the clenches of his sleeve and adjusted his hood so he could still see without being blasted in the face by raindrops. He adjusted his headphones under his hood and looked down to the shaking dog. “Would you poop already?” Damon shouted at the little brown dog. The dog didn’t care, turned away...

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Stella preferred the mornings on Melanos when most visitors would be nursing their hangovers or trying to eat breakfast in time to hit the beach and then collapse under the Mediterranean sun. Her flat was at the less-fashionable end of Helicia beach away from the larger clubs. It was also a decent walk to the golden sandy beach so beloved of the more casual visitors. She’d been on Melanos for just about six weeks and felt justified in regarding herself as part of the island. As ever, the weather was fabulous. It was already in the low 20s and she...

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The first thing I noticed about the new girl was that she wasn’t wearing the school colours on her face. I had never seen a pupil of McAllister Girls’ Academy, a major or a minor, without the school badge on her skin. Then I noticed that her hair was kind of frizzy and that it looked real. “She must be an anti-synth,” said Alicia incredulously. “Wow. I’ve read about them, but I never thought I’d meet one. What a freak.” “Why would anybody be anti-synth?” asked Jeddy. “They’d have to deal with all kind of killer diseases. I just can’t...

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She swept into the chamber more snowflake on the breeze than Empress of all. The swanlike feathers of her ballgown alighted in a mound of purest white, as she paused in exquisite repose. Standing at the top of the staircase, a sovereign amongst her vagabond horde, even the orchestra lingered on a note to admire her. The occasion demanded such excellence, and she delivered. The Empress of all who remained in our frozen world surveyed the ballroom’s dance floor with eyes of chill beauty. She took in each and every reveller with a single elegant sweep of her head. Seeing...

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Originally published in Esquire, #3151, March 23rd, 2064. I’ve never liked the Islamic world. For no reason other than I can’t relate to the lifestyle. I enjoy alcohol, recreational drug use, a hearty political debate and gawking at beautiful women. Here, in the somehow-still-ancient Muslim city of Marrakech, these simple pleasures are out of the question. Liquor is not sold anywhere. Drug dealers are perfectly camouflaged. Freedom of speech is a myth, and women, gorgeous or ghastly, are covered up like statutes in museum basements. It’s simply impossible for a self-indulgent, mid-21st-century journalist to feel at home here. It’s a...

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One lazy Sunday morning, my brother Meli’s legs were crushed in the town sluice gate. We had no idea how lucky we all were. He’d claimed he would break his 50m butterfly record, but the gate broke him. The iron bars ground through his fourteen year-old femurs, pulverised the bone without pause. My friends and I dragged him to the surface. We were still in Primary, barely seven, but it was easier than you’d imagine; the township’s best young swimmer was only a panting, bloody upper body, two of his long limbs lost to the desalination plant. Our water was...

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Shrouded in darkness, I wait for the Egg to release me. After what seems like an eternity, a coin of creamy light appears before my eyes. A familiar voice whispers in my ear, urging me onwards. I focus on the disk; try to grasp it with my mind. It flows towards me, expanding all the while, until I am enveloped in a panorama of black, white and grey. At first the wrap-around image fails to keep pace with my movements, but within seconds the drugs fed to me by the Egg begin to mitigate the effects of irreducible distance. Prediction...

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Yes, I will be thy priest, and build new fane In some untrodden region of my mind, Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain, Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind. John Keats: Ode to Psyche i) Why had she changed? It made no sense, and after all this time he still didn’t know. Paul Loueve felt the anger rising in his mind and silenced his thoughts before his emotions overwhelmed him, breathing deeply and closing his eyes against the sight of her standing at the podium preparing to speak. He’d refused to sit in the audience, her...

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