by Sergio Suarez - Fiction Vortex September 2014

Against the Dying of the Light

By Cyn Bermudez

Esmy attached a second arm to the latest construct, a titanium coil wrapped in a thick synthetic skin. She pierced the skin impatiently with jagged stitches sewn like a lopsided smile. The needle penetrated with ease, and she hoped this time the sutures wouldn’t rip before The Wakening.

The variable sun sat low in the sky. A deep red light poured in through the small rectangular window at the top of the hub — a river of blood and dust that sparkled in its rusted age. The light reflected off the metal band that wrapped around the neck of the construct, its reflection cut by the shadows that moved along the band like dark splinters on zipper teeth. She called them humans, though the constructs needed more than the preservation modules could provide, and she needed to conserve parts. Compromises needed to be made.

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by Sergio Suarez - Fiction Vortex September 2014

Just One More Walk

By Todd Honeycutt

When Thatcher walked through the entry doors of the Howard T. Young Company building, he received the same greeting as usual.

“Here for a walking today, Mr. Thatcher?” the receptionist said.

Thatcher nodded.

“Sign in and I’ll let them know you’re here.”

He scribbled his name on the electronic pad and took a seat in a corner of the reception area. Aside from the receptionist, no one else was in the room. The décor was sleek—odd waves of overlapping steel and concrete and glass. Thatcher thought it’d be better decorated as a funeral parlor, with lush carpeting and wood panels and clusters of ferns and flowers. Staff dressed in dark colored suits instead of white lab coats.

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by Sergio Suarez - Fiction Vortex September 2014

Computer Girl

By Jon Arthur Kitson

The first thing Mr. Bradley did when he took over as manager eight months before was turn the desks in the bullpen so they faced away from his office. Now, looking out his window, Sheila understood why.

Every few minutes, one of the Center’s two dozen women would stand, stretch away the strain of hours of running calculations, and fully display her rear-end. There appeared to be a hierarchy. The most shapely bottoms inhabited the closest rows. By the last row, the look was more pumpkin than apple.

Apparently, Sheila wasn’t the first to notice.

Suzanne, desk front and center of the first row, stood, arms reaching for the ceiling. She peeked a sly, painted smile over her shoulder. When she saw only Sheila looking, she quickly sat down.

Sheila grinned until she noticed her own desk next to Suzanne’s.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Black Road

By L. Nicol Cabe

Dust obscured the sun, the thick yellow haze hung low in the sky. The townspeople lazed under porches, choking for water and fanning themselves. The adults kept saying that it was hot, so hot, hotter than usual this year. Many looked at each other with worried glances, the yellow dust clinging to their sweat and wrinkles, making masks of their fear.

Dylan felt itchy and hot. Inside the cover was cooler, but not enough to endure the dust-roughened whispers around him. He grabbed a cracked, hard-plastic bottle, filled it with cloudy water on the sly, and took off into the waist-high scrub behind his house.

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

A Place Without Monuments and Endings

By Elliott Langley

I didn’t feed the cats.

Out of all the horrible things I have experienced today, that is what I want to tell you the most. I guess it’s almost funny when you look at it: The world is going to hell, and I’m sorry for leaving your cats hungry. I swear there should be a law against a stomach left rumbling on Judgement Day.

And the funniest part is that I am so damned sorry for not giving them food before I left your place this morning. I don’t know, I guess I was just in a rush to make the train or something, maybe thinking about picking up a sandwich on the way, where I was going to get my cup of tea before work. You know, the usual inane crap that goes around in my head. But babe, I’m British; you can forgive the necessity of tea in my morning ritual, right?

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Copyright Neils Christensen

Good-bye, Mr. Chip

By Jamie McKittrick


Time is ageless; Time is age;
Time is just a word on a page

H.R. Halbot, My Feet Hurt


Elmer didn’t quite feel himself. Actually, to tell the truth he hadn’t felt this good in what must have been years. But that wasn’t it. Elmer was turning eighty-six next month but in spite of a clapped-out liver, a bad eye and a spinal column that creaked with pain, he felt younger than ever. Though he was racked with the same old ailments they were now somewhat detached as if viewed through the wrong end of a telescope. He sat in the shade of the Pavilion Café drinking a cup of tea with his son and looking out across the park lake. It fractured the reflection of the sky across its surface into an indeterminate beauty. The fountain in the middle of the lake, Elmer thought to himself, looked cheap, just a ring with holes in floating on the surface. Nevertheless it sent up its plumage in such a way that it looked as if a giant swan were dancing out of smoke for him, lolling its neck and fluttering its wings in malleable succession. He didn’t usually drink tea.

“Dad, are you even listening to me?”

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Copyright Neils Christensen

Yet Another Invader

By Sean Monaghan

Night came quickly out this way. Always did.

It felt like the sun blasted the desert clean all day, as if some spectacular furnace was set on high and aimed right at this one spot before dropping off the side of the world.

I’d been here sixteen years now, at altitude, watching the sun pass overhead each day. When I arrived they called me Mr. Harding, but now I’m just Fex. I guess I can fix your stuff up better than most. Take a look at whatever’s ailing and tweak here and there and you’re good to go. Tractors, well-pumps, shoes, bearings, metal detectors, phones, watches, flashlights, kids’ toys, medical equipment, televisions, refrigerators. Practically anything that can break down, I can get going again. Kind of a useful skill three hundred miles from anywhere.

Until tonight.

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Copyright Neils Christensen

Small Snatches of Life from Before

By Steve Toase

Hannah sat staring at the thirty smooth, haematite pebbles balanced on the teacher’s desk. Her mouth felt clammy and tasted of peppermint from the RNA spray.

Miss Stenson pushed her chair back and walked over to the window, the beads of the pull-cord sliding through her gloved fingers as she pulled the blinds shut. Shadows moved across the room like ravens crowding roadkill.

“So here we are again class CT11. Memorial Day,” she said, walking across to the classroom door and turning the key. “Doesn’t a week just fly by?”

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Art by David Revoy/ Blender Foundation

Words of War

By Guy T. Martland

The small group of so-called “war poets” was touring. Some of them, like Valin Hussein, had seen some real action in space. His last tour of duty had ended when the stolen Ifrit class enemy ship he was captaining had encountered a mine, splintering its spine. The dying ship and his experiences aboard it had informed his last slim volume and garnered him considerable praise in the process.

When he was recovering in a military hospital orbiting Titan, writing the series of interconnected poems had served to thwart the insidious tedium. Now, months later and almost fully recovered, the fighting seemed to have ceased, although for how long was anyone’s guess. In the lull he had somehow found himself persuaded to tour Earth and recite his graphic representations of war.

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