What the Darkness Is – Simon Kewin

The howls of the gore-hounds filled the night air. Vanda stopped to catch her breath. Sounds echoed off the trees, throwing noises at her from odd angles. Her pursuers were close. When they caught her it would be the end. She peeped at the precious cargo she carried, strapped across her chest in the sling she’d fashioned from an old shawl. The night was dark – of course – but there was just enough starlight…

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Renewal – Michael Gardner

John waited for Holly, continually clenching and then unclenching clammy hands. He sat on the edge of the bed, his stomach roiling, his feet tapping the floor incessantly. It never got easier. He always dreaded the confirmation. It was inevitable and yet most of him wanted to delay. Another month, he thought, just one more. I’ll be better prepared then. There was a soft click from the ensuite door, and then it was opening. John…

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The Lost Languages of Exiles – Laura E. Price

The shoes they gave her don’t fit. She notices in the waiting area of the IWT counseling office and holds one foot out in front of her. Wiggles her toes and feels them rubbing against the inside front seam of the shoe. It’s felt like this since she put it on, but she’s just now stopped long enough to really feel it. The shoe is canvas and rubber, a basic sneaker, and probably half a…

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A Conversion of Crows – B. Morris Allen

It moved forward in a crawl, jagged angles flowing over soil and stone alike, dawn shaping shadow and sun into beaks and talons that moved relentless toward her boot and over it. With a touch of her finger, the fern curled in on itself, withdrawing crags and fangs into a soft ribbon of green and grey whose silhouette curled round her foot like a friendly snake. “Sawtooth, my ass,” she murmured. “You could cut something…

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An Aftertaste of Earth – Pauline Yates

The arrival of delegates from the Planetary Migration Program raised false hope in my district. Not only has the maximum age for entry to the off-world colony been lowered, we were given less than a week to prepare a concept to prove worth of passage. But with the demise of earth a certainty, hope is all I have left. This event is my last chance to secure a future for my family. With my eligibility…

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Oven Game – Paul A. Hamilton

The oven door creaks open, revealing the grimy, sweat-tracked face of a girl just past her seventh birthday. Opening an oven from the inside is difficult for a child, but Drea Kane has had practice. She crawls into the unfamiliar house and dusts off her black knit dress. Her grease-caked tights are living up to their name, squeezing her calves. She rubs the underside of her nose with a wrist; the streak of wetness finds…

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