May 2013

Yard Work I lie on my stomach in the yard, trying to catch the sun’s rays and the way they stream through the trees. Blades of grass tickle my chin and arms, but I force myself to stay still. I’ve been trying to get this shot for over an hour, and the light is finally where I want it. I hold down the shutter release and smile at the whirs and clicks the camera emits into the otherwise silent air. Mom sent me out here to mow the lawn, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a few pictures. If I tell her I got a lot of work done, she’ll never know the difference. Interrogation “Mom, I’m going to Oregon for the weekend,” I say at dinner. “Noah, can’t you take pictures …

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It was a dream from many centuries ago, and he stood after the night ascent at the mountain’s apex with the horizon ahead of him a twinkling mass. Even then the cities’ squalor was visible, but he did not care for he was elevated, elated above the clouds and now finally where his soul would not feel gravity’s woe. There, in this child’s triumph, he felt he could reach for the night stars and roll them between his fingers like playthings, and then as that vivid recollection faded he viewed a golden orb coming to grant everything seemingly unattainable, before everything slipped out of focus. Despite incubating for what felt like years, he awoke from the dream in his cramped cellar without as much as a yawn. His abode was …

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The hardened earth crackled in the early afternoon heat, that faint crackle signalling the splitting of the soil into a web of hardened discs.  Karm sat in the shade of a solitary carob tree at the edge of his field.  He was seated on a rickety makeshift bench, a plank of wood balanced on a few concrete blocks, positioned in such a way, that when he leaned back he could rest against the carob tree in a variety of different positions.  His weather beaten and leathered skin revealed the deep furrows of age, and endless days spent toiling under the Mediterranean sun. Karm packed some tobacco into his wooden pipe, pressing it in with his index finger, teasing the rim of the wooden bowl, then he stooped down and picked …

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I knew this was the place for me. The gorgeous mountain valleys, the exotic meadows laden with the summer flowers called out to me and I felt myself drawn so strongly towards the nature that I couldn’t help standing there for hours together, staring everywhere around, absorbing the scenery around me, printing the picture in my heart and filling my lungs with the scent of the nature. All along my life I had heard that Kashmir has some of the most exotic natural, gorgeous landscapes in the world. I had always wanted to see the truth of that myself. So, while everyone were devising plans for coping up with the hot summers of Phoenix, I headed to my motherland, India, to Kashmir, to spend my summer in the frost covered …

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I took a long swig from the vodka flask. I knew it tasted horrible, but its effects were too great. I felt my body warming up, reacting to the strong alcohol. As I looked around me I realized how wonderful it was to be drunk, especially in such conditions. Siberia in minus degrees was painful; beautiful, but painful and lonely. No one was around, and all I could hear was the distant noise of the Trans-Siberian Train. I smiled, for it brought back good memories of drunken nights and new friendships long forgotten. It had been my one way ticket to the life I now know. Of course, something had attracted me to stay put. The blonde girl with shy eyes had caught my attention, and I had to marry …

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Abbie stood over the pile of hair in her sink, somewhat wishing she could cry about it, but not really feeling anything. This had been the hardest year of her life, and she needed something to be easy. She couldn’t quit her job, she couldn’t escape from the responsibilities of her home, and she couldn’t stop being a mother. Cutting off all her hair had seemed a logical choice. Dismissively running a hand over her head, she shrugged and got back to work. The view from Abbie’s back porch would have been an astounding panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains, except that it took a particularly well-trained eye to focus on it. In addition to her yard being overgrown with weeds was the trash pile behind her house, and no blinders existed that could make her …

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It’s such a waste of space, these railway tracks. Toys and models can be aboveground but the real ones should be underground. Of course, I’m not sure how much difference that would make to me right now. The trains are often late anyway. If it isn’t an ‘accident’ at some crossing, then it’s ‘defective doors’ on one of the carriages. If it isn’t the heat causing power outages, then it’s the rain. I hate these trains. It’s bucketing today, of all days. I glance at my watch: 13:11… no, 13:12. And the trains are worse than usual today, of all days. I’m gonna be late today, of all days. Calm down. You’ll get there. And she’ll be there. Well, that’s what I tell myself as rails splitting in all directions, …

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2 December 2009 When I came in to the small town of Arviat on the northwest coast of Hudson Bay I was disappointed at the lack of majesty I had been expecting. Instead the landscape was flat and full of grey ice. The town was a series of wooden cabins, expertly made to keep out the constant chill that tried to invade my bones with every gust of arctic air. The driver of my snow mobile was excited that Arviat would once again be hosting an anthropologist. I was deposited with barely restrained enthusiasm at the front door of my temporary home. I was adopted as the daughter of Jim Nirolopok. Jeremy, Jim’s son, had just turned seventeen and was navigating the new responsibilities that came with growing into an adult man. …

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Shallow sinuous channels lace the marsh on their way to the sea. Somewhere in the evening gloom, my brother ferries his cargo of contraband swiftly along the reed-fringed waterways, his nimble flat-bottomed boat evading the excise men with ease. Further inland, the salt marsh gives way reluctantly to fresh water. Here among painstakingly crafted dikes and drainage channels, my father pulls catch crops from the perpetually sodden silt. Spring floods are his biggest enemy, threatening to submerge the emerging crops. Without the beans and potatoes he grows, our diet of fish and eels would be monotonous indeed. In the heart of the marsh, magnificent trees reach skywards blocking all but a little sunlight and hindering our puny human efforts to scrape a living. Ah, but when they fall, we use …

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Things begin in the morning before we wake up. The sky has already turned, and by the time we open our eyes the flowers have already opened to the sun. And every morning before school I have an existential crisis. You see, it’s a hassle pushing off the covers. It’s a hassle sitting up. It’s a hassle going to school where I get hassled every fucking day by the idiots who sit in the back of the classroom and throw random shit at the back of my head. So, I lay in bed a few minutes longer every morning, pushing back the whole day, further and further. Eventually, I have to get up. I know I do. But I can count down from 240 and revel in the sunlight coming …

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  The FULL DRONE Award represented our largest short list to date. At eleven submissions  we might have to start calling it the long list, and all that in just one week! Despite the strong field the winner was pretty clear cut, taking out a majority of the peer vote and enticing the judges  as well.   Congratulations go to Jason Fink.   Jason’s strong entry beat out a good field. Special mention to Bobby Moreno, Amber McGlothlin and Vannessa Ho, who all scored highly. It was great to see so many new authors this time round. Don’t forget to check out our latest award, the FERDINAND HODLER, on the front page.      

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Who are you, what awesome things do you do? My name is Shoshana Kessock. I’m a game designer at the NYU Game Center studying to get my MFA degree. I’m also the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions, an independent game company focused on tabletop and live action roleplaying games. I’m the author of an upcoming tabletop RPG called Wanderlust, co-creator of the upcoming independent video game Octavia and contributor to a number of live-action roleplaying and tabletop games from companies like Eschaton Media and Evil Hat Productions. When I’m not doing all that, I’m a freelance blogger for Tor.com covering comics, geek culture, gaming and television. I’m also a writer, mainly working on short stories these days, including one that will be published shortly in a charity anthology by Galileo …

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  The drone was omnipresent. Like a large shadow it hovered above her home, coving her house in darkness when it should have been daylight. At night it was loud, striking her friends and family with screams of its fire and anger. Her mother tried to explain to her why such a placid grey cloud should become so mad at times, but it was useless. For a child of five cannot be told why someone can hate when she had only experienced love. When dark cloud cover disappeared the drone from sight, she was joyous. She didn’t understand the subconscious pressure the drone caused upon her parents, but she knew the relaxing feeling when it was no longer there. She had first seen the drone when she was young. She …

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It happened again. Aara woke up shrieking and crying inconsolably in the midnight. Her mother Zara took her into her arms and spoke soothing words, consoling her and rocked her to sleep once more. After Aara’s eyelids dropped, Zara covered her up with her quilts and sank back into the chair next to the bed. “Zara, she will be fine,” Abdul put his hand on his wife’s shoulder and promised her. Zara looked pathetically around herself at the hospital ward where they had been staying for over a week and shook her head in denial. Aara had been a normal twelve year old girl, typically traditional, prankster and a thoughtful kid, always having a good time with her twin brother Aarif. Aarif was a mischief maker but an absolutely adorable …

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Clickety-clack. I can barely hear it over the squealing in my ears. Clickety-clack-clack. But I can see it: a twisted metal snail lurching into the station. It heaves and gives out in front of me, and as the train’s doors open there’s a brief reprieve. I’m clicking my fingers to occupy the silence. Click. Click. Clic- SCHREAWWL. It came from behind, and before I know it I’m jumping and yelping. Saeed suddenly grabs my shoulder and tries to whisper me calm. ‘It was just a jeep motor.’ But I’m already dizzy, already spinning and something is already twisting in my chest and I’m trying desperately to unknot it. I’m shaking hard and I need to find a way out of this train station. I need to escape but Saeed is …

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Johanna was indulging in a lovely memory of a warm summer’s day when her thoughts were interrupted by a drawing being thrust in her face. “Mama, look,” said Shelly, wiping a bubble of snot onto her sleeve.  Her mother scowled and pulled a worn tissue from her pocket, wetting it with spit and scrubbing at the dirt streaked face before looking at the picture.  Drawn on gray construction paper, the child’s tree looked stark and uninspired.  This is what Johanna thought, at least, until encountering the real thing on the walk home.  No, that’s pretty accurate. Not wanting to break curfew, they’d abandoned the long line at the grocery store empty handed once again.  Johanna wasn’t sure what she was going to feed Shelly for dinner, but would rather scrounge …

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For some people, rain is refreshing. For others it’s annoying, or cold, or wet, or fun. For him, rain was refreshing if he wanted a quick exit from this world. It was annoying when it dropped on his fields. It was inhumanly cold when it doused a school. It was wet with blood. It was never fun. Rain was never fun in his village. Rain was the bombs dropped in the middle of the night. It was the missiles that struck their homes, their cattle, their friends. Rain was death. This rain didn’t come from clouds, at least not traditional watery ones. No fluffy white air sheep, no blustery gray oceans shed those drops of mechanized ruination. The cloud that loosed man-made thunder was electronic, and it was a cloud …

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The jeep shuddered and bounced over rocks and sand, filling the air with choking red dust. The cars ahead of her shimmered in the hot sun, sweat beading across her brow and her shirt cling closely to her skin. Sharon knew every dent and scratch in those cars, knew the way they moved along the unpaved roads better than the way she walked. She knew that old man Greg’s car behind her was moody when it picked up speed, howling as if it were living its last days. Sharon was one of two people in her town who could fix these cars, who kept them working long after their expiration date. She looked over at her cousin Josef. The premature wrinkles crevassing his face seemed even deeper set after the …

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‘They deserve what they get.’ 54 Likes -Like – Comment ‘Why do we care about foreign casualties when we have our own problems at home.’ 132 Likes- Like – Comment ‘They are just animals anyway’ 73 Likes – Like – Comment We live in a culture where hatred and degradation are delivered freely and frequently with no accountability. The punishment for these words are neglectful silence, an expletive filled argument, or more hatred and degradation. Under-read and hateful people will regard this as freedom; sensible people will regard this as irresponsible. My name is Ghafoor. I live in Pakistan’s Northwest, not far from the Waziristan Mountains where a war is being fought between the TTP and a kind of ethereal villain that kills my friends, my schoolteacher and soon, my …

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I saw my first Angel when I was little, about a year ago. I was six. There were fireworks in the clouds one night, far, far away. I only got to see fireworks once before then, when my Da’ took me to a party. But they were heaps bigger this time, and heaps far away, and made really loud bangs. Everyone stayed inside this time. I saw my first Angel the next day. It was a funny shape, not like us. But they were white, and they did fly. They had big, flat heads, and long bodies that were behind them, and big flat arms that they held out wide. They had little black snouts too, on their heads. “Is that an Angel, Da’?” Da’ looked down to me, ‘cause …

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