When the Last Friend is Gone – Tris Matthews

Butler found Pebbles dead in the morning. Each day, the moment Butler became active at 6 a.m. sharp, the little old dog’s stumpy legs would carry her over to seat herself royally in front of the enormous and rusty Cadillac-themed refrigerator to watch. Butler would ruffle the flops and folds of skin on the top of her head before serving up her breakfast and then turning to other chores. Today, Pebbles didn’t come. Butler washed …

A House on the Volga – Filip Wiltgren

The kalanchoes are blooming, a dusting of tiny pink flowers on dark jade leaves. “Please, grandmama, hurry up,” says Darius, voice tiny, his heart carried on the radio from the ship. He is a good boy, caring for his grandmother. His heart was in his house, but he is grown, a young man, and the house is no more. It is good that he leave. The kalanchoe spins in my hands, as I cover it …

The Astronaut Tier – Jonathan Laidlow

Farren opened the door to the bailiffs and let them in. They pushed into the apartment wordlessly, and began to itemise her former life, ticking boxes on clipboards while they opened drawers and rifled shelves. The last to enter was a wiry middle-aged woman who, with a kind smile, invited Farren to sign, thus demonstrating her understanding that her possessions were now the property of Ares II’s creditors. She asked if the coffee in the …

Twins – Gregory Kane

Our twins visit once a month. They arrive one at a time, passing one another as they move up and down the path dividing the manicured campus. Years ago, we’d gather to watch from the laboratory’s third floor as they ran free on the grass below, dancing and jumping and tumbling, swinging in their parents’ arms like tiny trapeze artists. We rose to our tiptoes and pressed our palms and noses against the cold glass, …

Reproduction in a Closed Loop – Andrew M LeBlanc

The first iteration of General’s life ends with the extinction of the human race. The third, fourth, and fifth iterations fare better, but even knowledge of its past iterations is not enough for General (Gen for short) to change the course of the war. The invaders arrive in endless viral flocks; while Gen can improve its strategies over unlimited iterations, it is not enough to stop the alien tide. By the end of iteration five …

Graven Image – B. Morris Allen

It’s about impressions. First impressions, last impressions, the creased and corrugated impressions that life leaves on our skin as it wears us down to our essentials, and eventually to nothing. I know about impressions; I’m in sales now. Back then I was a lonely xenoarchaeologist, chasing down one more faded rumour, one more mystery worn flat by repetition and examination. Study, publish, repeat, as postgrads say, until there’s nothing left to say, no iota of …