February 2013

“Are you sure you want to do that?” Michael blurted out to himself. It wasn’t a question but he knew it was always wise to word complaints and protests in the form of questions, especially to one’s manager. “It’s no problem, don’t worry,” he replayed in a whiny voice. “There hasn’t been any trouble. And no one can prove it anyway. Idiots.” Michael’s eyes flashed. “Are You Sure?” He shook his head and murmured “Couldn’t answer my question, could you?!” As he drove towards home, he had to squint his eyes due to the glare of the neon signs which lined the rain-drenched street. Some of those reminded him that he was trying to quit. This weather also brought out more police droids. Michael thought about how the quality control …

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It’s an interesting experience, riding in one of the old combustion engine automobiles, the kind that were all over the place back in the days before the Celerity Rails got so cheap and easy to use, back when petroleum was king.  This one isn’t an antique, though. It’s a reproduction.  And I’m in the driver’s seat, but I’m not driving.  The guy driving is what’s known as an operator. It was toward the end of the 21st century that a new breakthrough in life extension technology was made.  Cryogenics?  Laughable.  This was all about mind transfer.  Now you could just upload a person’s entire consciousness into a machine at the push of a button, to be stored indefinitely.  Well, I suppose it’s not as simple as all that, but that’s …

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The office was silent, still, and dark except for the shaft of light from the open door that fell across the corpse. I blew out cigar smoke and stared down at High Senator Gunnar Hagrim’s body. His eyes were wide, but rolled back in his head so just the whites showed. There were five tiny holes in a star pattern in his forehead, each of which had leaked a little trail of blood that ran back toward the top of his head where it lay fallen against the low back of his chair. The same as the others. I figured it was some kind of nanite weapon. It probably fired several small groupings of the microscopic robots that self-guided themselves to the victim, pierced the head, and set off tiny …

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When men rushed to mine the asteroids, the corporation built a network of space stations to process the ore and to provide respite for the miners. But the miners proved unruly, needing a guiding mind to keep the peace and ensure that the ore continued to flow in… Backlit by the harsh neon that edged into this desolate spot, grimy flakes of snow danced in the air before settling on the rapidly cooling corpse. The body sprawled against the newly-built fence that blocked the alley. The only sign of violence was a thin trickle of blood congealing at the base of one nostril and the fingers still desperately clutching through the wire loops of the fence. He had come so close to freedom and yet succumbed. That really sucked. I …

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Some mornin’s you wake up on top. Some mornin’s… well, you just don’t. She could smell it in the damp air before she’d even opened her pounding eyes. That burnt, chalky tang stuck in the back of her dry throat. Stupid bastard’s been on the pipe again. The stench of acrid, long ingrained sweat hung lank upon her itchy skin. Her head felt like one o’ them bruisers from the pit fights was trying to beat his way outta her skull. She was used to that, though. Well used to it. It’s the pipe I can’t abide by. Not when I need his wits on him. Big dumb bastard’s the only thing keepin’ me breathin’. She opened her eyes. Light stung them like red-hot needles as shadows swirled in front …

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After much collaboration and consternation amongst our judges, a winner has emerged. Congratulations to Amber McGlothlin. Amber just edged out the victory in a tightly contested award. If you read both submissions this week you would know there wasn’t much between them. Two talented writers giving it their best. We’re keeping a close eye on both Amber and Ashleigh. Ashleigh backed up her winning entry to the PRELUDE with another excellent submission and if you peruse this week’s short list, you’ll see Amber is at it again. Thanks to everyone who entered. Don’t forget to check out our new award and the short list for the GRAMOPHONE ELECTRIC. There are some great pieces there to read. Peace out!

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“Here’s your room-card, sir. I trust you will enjoy your night.  If there are any problems at all, do not hesitate to call us here in the office. Oh, and one last thing,” The proprietor smiled, a little too widely for my liking, his beady green eyes twinkling beneath a pair of anachronistic bifocals.  Tufts of white hair bobbled on his skull as he made his way around the counter and approached me. He leaned closer and whispered in my ear conspiratorially. “Since you’re a first timer, make sure you go easy on the extras. Too much stimulation isn’t good for anybody, if you get my meaning,” He grinned again.  Again I felt slightly disturbed. “Just stick to the program and you’ll be just fine. Or more than fine,” He …

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This week’s short list sees two high quality submissions go head to head for the CROMULENT Award. Newcomer Amber McGlothlin takes on last week’s prize winner, Ashleigh Mounser. We sat down with both authors for a chat… …Ok we emailed them. Enjoy! NITH: How long have you each been writing? Amber: I’ve been taking it seriously for about three years.  Before that, I didn’t have the confidence. Ashleigh: Since birth, with varying degrees of legibility. NITH: Where do you see yourselves in the future? Ashleigh: Writing, with varying degrees of legibility. Amber: I’d love to still be writing because it makes me happy, and I will always have a strong emphasis on family.  I’m really excited about what’s ahead. NITH: Any tips for others trying to get involved or improve …

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I suppose you want to hear a story. Everyone always does. I’m very busy, you know. I have things to do. You wouldn’t understand. When you’re as old as I am doing laundry and making yourself a bowl of high-fiber cereal can take all day. So you see I really don’t have time. I suppose I could tell you one story, if you insist. Tea? Coffee? No? Well then, what kind of story would you like to hear? I’ve done many things in my life worth a story. Some of it I wouldn’t recommend. There was the time I jumped a train track and lost an arm. I didn’t enjoy that much at all. Another time I milked a cow and ended up with a bucket of Diet Coca-Cola. I never quite figured that one out. People always like …

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For the past fifteen years, I have been in love with a man named Avery St. Clair.  There are some men who are good looking, smart, and charming, but Avery has it all.  In fact, in all the time I’ve known him, I have only found in him one major flaw…the man is a womanizing bastard. I met Avery when he was working as an outside consultant for my previous employer. From the moment he walked into the office, I knew he was going to be a major castrib in my life, and I was right.  It wasn’t so much anything he did that caused the problems, but the fact that I couldn’t seem to get a grip in his presence.  I tripped over imaginary wires and spilled very unimaginary …

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