Stuffed Head

Stuffed Head

The Vrekli had charged him a small fortune for the gene-tailored symbiotes, and it had taken weeks for him to get used to the squirming feeling in his nasal passages, but it was worth it to be at long last rid of the allergies that had made his life a misery since childhood. The tiny slime worms reliably devoured every speck of pollen, every fragment of dust-mite, every molecule of each airborne allergen that had plagued him in the past, before they could cause the vestige of a reaction.

What he shouldn’t have done was to spring for the recreational-hallucinogen nanobot inhaler on Chur’r. There seemed to be a struggle for supremacy going on inside his sinuses—some kind of hierarchical dispute—and even though he was zoned to the gills, he had now been sneezing nonstop for at least two hours. The spasms were simultaneously a delightful metaphor for a pervasive sense of oneness with the universe, and absolutely unbearable.

from the notebooks of F. J. Bergmann

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A Layer Thin As Breath – Thea Boodhoo

July 2019

“Valley. Can you still hear me?”

Julian’s voice filtered through her dying radio. The Prince of Cats was a speck of light, dimming through the gold-grey film that, atom by atom, was devouring her helmet.

Valley tried to say something, anything. Failed.

Julian was sobbing on the other end. “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so kzzzzzzchchchcffft—” and that was it. Her radio was gone.

“Oh god,” she breathed to herself, to no one. “Oh god,” I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. She sobbed once, twice, and then, with tears pooling in her eyes and the Prince of Cats invisible through the liquid, she found a pocket of calm, like stepping from a noisy bar onto a cool, quiet street.

Something brushed against her hand, and she cried out, startled. Her vision was still blurred by tears, and the thing dissolving her space suit was like an iridescent veil across the glass of her helmet, but through it all she could see the outline of her hand.

Not her glove.

Her hand.

The veil, delicate as a cobweb when it had floated innocuously through space, was finally at the layer of her skin. It felt like cool air at first, then like nothing. Then her fingernails tickled.

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