Once, there lived a girl who dreamed of wings. Every night she soared up to the highest clouds and gave each one of them a hundred kisses. She danced alone on the wind, higher than the entire world, where she tried to catch every falling star. But these were only her dreams.
The girl would still wake each morning – her face tickled by long strands of her hair – and she would pat her empty shoulder blades in utter disappointment. She began to grow weary of these dreams of hers only being dreams.
On the hottest day of the summer, the girl walked into the shade of the forest near her home, where she came across a very tall tree. Sh
She screams as her face changes. I don’t understand why – I’m fixing it for her. I remember her face as clear as day, after all; the velvet-soft wrinkled skin, the silver bangs framing her face, the eyes like windows to the sky itself, crystal clear and uplifting as daylight. I know what I’m doing.
But something isn’t right. Who is this woman? My wife hates white blouses, and her voice is all wrong. I lift my hands away, and the person beneath my fingertips staggers back and collapses, amidst a chorus of screams and the sound of someone throwing up. Doctors are everywhere. Good, I think, They can help that poor
The fox had been hungering for quite some time: its fur was growing thin, a dull blanket over starving ribs, and it walked with the careful steps of one who has but little strength to spare. It limped as it walked, for its left forepaw had been hurt some time before by the trap of a hunter. It had escaped the trap with its life intact: but now it hungered, and could no longer hunt.
Today it had caught a carrion scent on the breeze, sweetish, cloying: the smell of rot. It was a hope, and the fox was limping towards it as quickly as its meager strength would allow. Surely it could find something to scavenge from a kill so old.
But as it follo
Once, there was an old man who never left his library.
He spent hours and hours just reading and drinking his tea and occasionally sleeping.
One day, a little sparrow landed on the edge of a windowsill – the man had neglected to close the window that morning – and then it chirped loud enough to cause him to look up from the page he was engrossed in.
“Hey you,” said the talking bird. “There is a huge exciting world out there, and I’ve seen you cooped up in here, day after day. You should maybe visit it sometime.”
The man, who did not seem at all surprised by the appearance of a talking bird –
It would be easy enough to flee. The only bond that ties Margarethe to the blind old woman is her love for her brother. But he is all she has left, now, and she will not leave him.
Johannes sits in a cage of bones, eating canned mandarins and jars of sour cherries, awaiting his death. Margarethe visits him there when the old woman is out. “I’ll save you,” she says. “I’ll find a way – somewhere we can flee to, somewhere she can’t follow. I’ll steal the key from her.” The cage is held together with steel cables and padlocks and barbed wire. There is no escaping from it.
“You know wha
It's funny how things change.
I distinctly remember being impressed by teletext—being able to conjure news and weather information onto my big, chunky CRT TV at the press of a button—not realising that within a few years nearly everyone in the country would carry a device in their pocket that gave them access to the combined knowledge of nearly everyone in the world. And when I worked that job, selling these marvellous devices second hand—typically for less than the cost of a ticket to somewhere with better job prospects—little did I realise what would come next.
VR was a big deal at the time. AR would have
In days before the dawn of time, two gods struggled for control over all that was. One was named Order, who strove above all for stillness and perfection. The other was named Chaos, who strove above all for motion and change. When Order set the spheres upon their paths, Chaos sent out comets to knock them astray. When Order called land out from the water, Chaos tore it asunder. These gods fought ceaselessly, yet they had formed from the void as twins and each was as strong as the other.
“This battle is futile,” said Order one day, after countless aeons of struggle. “We must settle our differences by some other means.
“Captain, I’m getting a reading from the device with the blinky lights.”
“The one that goes ‘Voort-voort BING’?”
“Voort-voort BING!” pinged the device.
“The very same.”
“Great Scott...” The Captain stared around at the alien landscape. It seemed the least likely planetoid in the universe to be capable of sustaining life, but the device with the blinky lights was never wrong. “What are we dealing with here?” he demanded. “Is it carbon-based? Silicon-based?”
“Cotton-based,” said Science Officer Bunsen, wavin
The chambermaids cleaned and disinfected the tank with lye again, and Spencer took a moment to collect himself before squeezing the magnifying monocle back into his right eye. He had gone over the machine a dozen times, but he would go over it a dozen-and-one if that’s what it took. Every little brass bolt was properly tightened, and every hose was sealed exactly as it needed to be, connected to a variety of vials and beakers. The electrical coils were fully charged from the previous night’s thunderstorm, and all of his thermometers and barometers assured him that the steam pump was properly simulating the temperature and pres
“You know,” I said, “Of all the ways to die… I actually think this is one of the best I can imagine.”
He didn’t respond. That was so like me – I don’t think I wanted a response, either, and we both knew that. I glanced down. His hand was there beside me, and when I slipped my palm into his, all the rough callouses and creases in his skin matched mine as only mirrors used to do.
“We really fucked up, didn’t we,” he murmured. I nodded, and laid my head on his shoulder.
“Neither of us knew what we were doing,” I offered, though it was far too late to do anything but
I had arrived fashionably late, as per usual. Stepping out of the carriage, I let my dress fall to the ground, being careful not to dirty its hem. As I meandered up the stairs the door let out a soft creak. It was ajar. I would have frowned if I cared to deepen the already delicate wrinkles forming on my otherwise smooth face. Although usually in some sort of rush, Mr. Black was not the sort to carelessly leave doors open.
Pushing the door open revealed an empty entry way. Strange, I thought to myself. I could have sworn that everyone else had arrived already. I pulled my jade cigarette holder, an expensive pack of smokes, and a genu
The humanoid mechanism leading the tour had a nasal, grating voice. "If you look to your left, we are approaching Planet 32X7Y, known to its inhabitants as Earth," it regurgitated, reciting from a scripted code input into its hardware soon after coming off the factory line. As the craft hurtled through space, the passengers crowded to the window, ooh-ing and aah-ing in their respective languages at the planet that came into view.
If the guide had emotions it would be feeling a mixture of boredom and disgust. Only the richest of each species could afford to go on this particular space cruise. Though the android had to admit that this job was
Lucy is never more alive than when she’s watching a movie. After the grey drudgery of her life at the office, it is a refuge, a respite.
Telesynthenics is a revelation. The stories are so much more real than real, when you can feel what the characters do.
They’ve been remastering all the old favourites, the classics, and the cult hits: The Breakfast Club, The Shawshank Redemption, Casablanca. Injecting emotions so you know exactly when you should cry, or laugh, or feel pain. Though all the R rated stuff is heavily regulated and filtered, of course. If she wants she can change the settings on her module and tune in to one specifi
Cold, damp air seeps through skin to bone. Soil stained soles pound along a winding, barely-there path among the trees. Trees. A laughable word for behemoths that, at the smallest, is four times as wide around as she is. Swaths of leaves shape a dark green expanse, blocking out nearly all of the sky. The light that does find a way down is weak, pinpricks suffocating in the umbrage. This is a true weald, dark and deep.
She wishes she could deviate from the path; delve into the endless shadow and hide. A ruinous wish. Thin strings threaded with countless trinkets crisscross all empty spaces.
“Come on, Squat Runt!”
“Can we rethink my nickname, Doctor James? I feel as though it crosses the line from affectionately disparaging to actually hurtful.”
“There’s no time! We have to reach the Sistine Chapel before that albino monk gets—”
A hooded figure stepped out from the doorframe. “My ears are burning,” said the monk.
“Well, I’m not surprised,” said California James. “It is an exceptionally sunny day.”
The monk made an annoyed little noise. “That’s not what I meant!”
“Yeah,” agreed Squa
I touch the soil with my palms and fingertips, roll it between my hands, draw its essence into my nose. Earthen scents of decay and bone whisper promises in a language few understand. The year will be fertile – soil speaks openly to those who stop and listen. I draw its strength into me, the firm foundation upon which I build my house, my farm, my family. This is what I have always done. This is what I will always do.
Fire and shrieks rip through the harvest; I cannot tell the screams of my horses from those of my children. I run desperately, thoughts swirling as I crest the hill. Glass shatters as the screaming stops, and something in
There was no time in the cave at the root of the world. No weeks, no days, no hours, or minutes. The Weaver sat at her loom, watching as mortal men grew and died, and their children rose to take their place. But time did not move for her, and she remained unchanged.
She was not one of the Fates, she did not decide the course of history. The Norns would send her messages through the red threads of fate; a tug here, a severing there, and the Weaver adjusted her work accordingly. But sometimes she wondered what it would be like to truly hold the fate of someone’s life in the palm of her hand.
Time did not pass for her in the typical sens
Living in the city never prepares someone for how dark the night is. And it's nothing like the movies, where pitch black just means everything seems to have a grey filter on it.
No. In the middle of the night, kilometres from the city, in the middle of a forest, at the bottom of an old well, it is dark.
The amount of water I stand in varies throughout the day, but it never drops low enough for my shoes to dry out. I refuse to take them off even though my toes are well past the prune stage. The fetid stench of the thick slick that sits on the water's surface makes me adamant about that. Also, when I first woke up down here I disturbed a pile
“A heated rock in every home!”
The crowd gave a few uncertain claps.
“Free locusts for every school!”
Confused muttering. An aide took this opportunity to step up and whisper something in the Prime Minister’s ear.
The Prime Minister gave a quick nod in response. “Something something hardworking families!”
Doug squinted at the TV. “I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something odd about this guy...”
“Seriously?” Eugene put down his copy of UFO Afficionado. “You’ve only just noticed? HeR
We were blind except for the last cigarette. We sat there, or maybe she stood and I sat, watching the little ember burn down. The cigarette kept the darkness back but it wouldn’t save us from the weight of our moldering unspoken thoughts.
Someone had to speak but not me, not me.
Ash fell from the cigarette — in our silence, we heard it hit the ground.
The glow got weak. I put the filter to my lips and drew in a short, hot breath of smoke.
The light flared back to life.
Not much of a smoker, I coughed and broke the silence.
“I’m sorry,” we both said. Our voices echoed and a pause followed, the silence threatening
A patter of wings followed me over my shoulder as I stepped onto the empty vehicle; it coughed, shuddered, and then slowly followed its autonomous course away from the dig site. I groaned and cracked my back, mind spinning and arms sore from the hours of careful scraping and brushing away in the dirt. Tea, meanwhile, flew over to my locker, keying in the combination with one of her tentacle-tails and sliding the artifact in with the others. I watched the diminutive robot perform her task, enthralled by the dusty, cracked sheets of stained fibers we’d recovered. A book, she’d called it. Unrestricted information.
To take her freedom, she must first forget herself. She begins with her hair.
Each snip of the scissors cuts away a piece of her past. Here a childhood summer, the glow of poppies under the sun. There the meekness they bred in her, the timidity they trained her to. There again the wedding, the kiss, the night that followed.
Her life flies away on the breeze. The birds will be glad of it, she thinks: all the things that brought her pain will line their nests with comfort.
Comfort is a thing she’ll learn to do without: one of many. She lays out her silks and furs and velvets where the fire will burn hottest. Her purpose is twofold:
The morning sun poked its way through the mesh at the top of his tent; 92 million miles away, and it still managed to land itself right in the middle of his face. Danny blinked groggily as the sunbeam passed over his eyes, yawning and sitting up in his sleeping bag. He fumbled around at the top of his tent for his phone, pulling it from its solar charger and trying to make sense of the numbers on the front. 6 AM… damn. The sun rose way too early for his liking this far North. The young man with the silver hair stood up slowly and groaned, dusting off his deep blue jeans and slipping his feet into a pair of well-worn teal sneakers. He le