Joy (Unplugged) – B.C. van Tol

A reddish moon clung to the horizon like a faded blood stain that wouldn’t wash out. Joy shivered, looking at the moon’s human-like face from her attic window, wishing she could pull him to her. Together, they could agonize in this lonely house atop the hill. From afar, his mouth hung agape, as though wailing in silent operatic sorrow. The silence pervaded the dark, motionless town nestled in the valley below. From Joy’s vantage point, …

All That Remains – Michael Gardner

The boy doesn’t have a name, but Father calls him Progeny. He was born underground, and grew up in near darkness. In the tunnels. Walking the spaces between compact earthen walls, buttressed intermittently with wooden beams, glow worms the only luminescence. His eyes are good. He sees shapes where Father sees shadows. He sees shadows where Father sees nothing. He walks now, very quietly. Now is the quiet time. It is a rule. He hunches …

Devilish Calliope and the Ungrooviest Apocalypse – Evan Marcroft

I’d just worked the handcuffs loose when my phone started vibrating in my pocket. Even hanging by my ankles above impending doom, I knew I’d be in real shit if I didn’t pick up. I made a sort of cup out of my hand and pressed the phone to my ear. “This is Devilish urgently speaking.” “Devilish. It’s me. Are you free to talk?” I glanced up, or rather down, into the flame-rimmed iris over …

Calling Me Home – Spencer Nitkey

The entanglement circuit burns as it lights a fire right behind my eyes. I hear my daughter crying in the moments before the circuit switches. An imagined voice, I’m sure. Then the pain spreads like blood through my chest, and the stars outside the transport ship window slow, stop, and disappear. I come to in my bed back home. The baby monitor plays a low whine that crescendos into a full-scale cry. It is the …

The Chorley – Rachel Ayers

Little Annamarie wore a mournful expression. “Mama,” she said, “I can’t find my Chorley.” Chorley was a ragged stuffed elephant that the girl had had since she was two. “Where did you leave it?” the Mama asked, the air of distraction hardened on her features. She had taken off the VR glasses that she customarily wore throughout the long hours of the day, and even the child could see that she was irritated by the …

A Picture of Home, in Silence – Alexandra Seidel

The soles on Sam’s first pair of shoes are worn and cracked, and she is tired. She craves rest, because the way home is long. Light reflects off tall stained glass windows, and because there were none of those in the research colony, Sam is curious, stops, walks away from the road, and enters the building. Years and miles ago, when Sam first came to the research colony, she was useful, and being useful helped …