Flash Fiction: Idle Hands on Raptor VII

Speakers in the transcript are identified as follows:
Spacecraft:
CDR Commander Eugene S. Paul

MMP Martian Module Pilot Brian R. Cho
MSP Mission Specialist, Biology Gregor K. (Reggie) Mamchur

CDR Brian, may I speak to you privately?
MMP (Laughter.) That might be a challenge, Gene.
CDR Indulge me. Over here?
MMP Sure. (Indistinct.) What’s up?
CDR Well, I have sort of a situation I hope you can help me with.
You know our Community Simulator?
MMP (Laughter.) Yes, I’m familiar with it.
CDR Thing is, Reggie is logging an, ah, excessive number of hours on it.
MMP Oh? Is that a problem?
CDR He’s missed a meal and two workouts, so, yes.
MMP This mission’s been rough on all of us. Maybe he’s just busy in the lab?
Modeling spongifores is time-consuming –
CDR So my question for you is – and I’m not accusing you at all, but –
Did you make any changes to the Simulator?
MMP Changes?
CDR To the code.
MMP Oh, ah – (Laughter.) I did actually. Nothing big.
CDR … Brian, that is – That is very dangerous.
MMP Just a few things to keep everyone engaged. The personality modules.
Some conversation options —
CDR This isn’t Tetris you’re messing with. It’s a complex, carefully controlled
social simulation. It’s what’s going to make sure we’re scientists when we
get there and not just a bunch of non-functional meatheads.
MMP I understand.
CDR It took the psych team and the dev team twelve years to put that thing
together. This mission is too sensitive for you to go splashing around in it.
MMP Yes, Gene.
CDR So I want you to undo your changes before 2300.
MMP Ooh —
CDR “Ooh”?
MMP I don’t think I can do that.
CDR What?
MMP They didn’t have a repository in place, so I had to change the live code.
An oversight on their part, I’d say.
CDR They didn’t have a repository because no one was supposed to change
anything! You didn’t make a backup?
MMP I’m not really in that habit.
CDR Where is Reggie now?
MMP In the simulation room, I believe.
CDR All right. Let’s see what the hell you’ve done.
(Indistinct. Crosstalk.)
Reggie? Reggie, a moment…
MSP In a minute.
CDR Now, Reggie.
MSP Oh, for – Just a moment. Let me wrap this up.
CDR Is that – ? That looks like your wife!
MMP I know!
CDR And that’s your back yard! Oh, my God! Even the compost pile…
MMP We’re about to get some gardening done, if you don’t mind.
CDR The graphics – Like you could just stick your hand in and dig!
And her freckles! Did you do this, Brian?
MMP I guess. I didn’t think I got in the render modules, though.
CDR This – This is crazy. Reggie, can you turn the camera –
MSP [Indistinct.]
CDR When you get a chance. Are they all in there? I just want to see. Tell her —
MSP It’s my wife.
CDR Yes, of course. It’s just – I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever.
(Pause.)
Brian, you didn’t do this.
MSP Yes, I did.
CDR Not all of it. You couldn’t have.
MSP Pretty sure I did, Gene.
CDR No. Something else did this. Did Mission Control send an update and
we missed it?
MSP Not a chance. I verify those logs.
MMP You two are making it hard to concentrate.
CDR Maybe … Maybe you just opened the door. Caught their eye. Let them in.
MSP Who?
CDR Maybe we moved into their neighborhood.
MSP Are you talking about Grant and Taka? We let them take their turns.
We’ve been talking about a two-player –
CDR No. Something else. God, that looks just incredible.
The sky – That sun is making it warmer in here. Am I crazy?
MSP What something else?
CDR Something smart. Something that doesn’t want a visit.
MSP Commander, what are you talking about?
CDR We should figure that out. We should do that right away.
(Pause.)
Reggie, can I play next?

Flash Fiction: Iguana Man

I write stuff. Sometimes it’s too weird to live anywhere but here. Here is one.

Every customer at Platinum made promises:

“I’ll show you the world.”

“I’ll treat you right.”

Lena of the long legs, lavender scent and vertiginous pole tricks had heard them all. So when the man with the silver suit and staring iguana eyes said, “I’ll change your life,” she just said, “I bet you would, baby,” and brushed his hand, taking her twenty a dance.

It was only after closing, in the darkened lot, when a blur of disgruntled drunk and wild defensive swing left her staggering over exploded fragments of skull and acrylic shoe, that Lena suspected he’d been sincere.

If Famous Authors Wrote Fanfic: Philip K. Dickens

At an excellent and geekful Swingers dinner, the words “Philip K. Dickens” were uttered.

I had no choice. I regret nothing:

Philip K Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
TWIST OF MUDFOG – by Philip K. Dick

Oliver lay on the cobblestone as if dead himself. My God, he thought, she looked just like Nancy.

He pulled himself vertical and peered into the crowd. The woman was gone, but now as he looked there were plenty of other women who could pass for her. Surely too much time in the country had stolen his ability to tell one bustle and bonnet from another.

But then at the end of the alley that red-headed woman ducked into a book shop; the acid in Oliver’s throat meant he could no longer be deceived.

He hustled after her, dodging horse droppings and factory reek. The book shop windows were mottled with time, but the door was tin. His kind would not be welcome here.

The door jangled as he opened it, and the clockwork clerk addressed him without looking up, its graceful tin arm tracing numbers on a sheet.

“Leave your gep,” it said.

“I haven’t…” said Oliver.

“Leave it, native, or leave yourself.”

There was little use protesting — Oliver unbuckled his gep, holster and all, and left it on the counter. As his eyes adjusted, he noticed a few figures of indeterminate origin standing at the shelves, either absorbed in their books or wound down entirely. He avoided them.

“A woman just came in here,” said Oliver.

“Whether one did or didn’t will be no report of mine,” said the clerk, sitting up only long enough to wind the key in its chest. “Talk is tiring.”

Oliver took a corner and waited, listening to the satiny sounds of the place: the soft rasp of paper, the steady purr of cogs… then at last the unmistakable heel-toe fall of a booted foot.

Oliver’s heart leapt. He followed it down the narrowing aisle, and around the corner she stood: Nancy. She smiled at him, and every piece was just as he remembered: the angle of her teeth, her freckles, the precise curve of her neck.

“Hello, Oliver,” she said, and the voice was correct, too. “I’ve been waiting for you.”

In that intervening moment, as Oliver reached to check the temperature of her skin, he didn’t care what his touch told him. As he fell in her embrace, and her cool supple arms became impossibly strong, he didn’t care what came next. And as he heard the last shuddering crack in his spine, he stopped caring about anything at all.

.
.
.

mudfog
THE STARLIGHT CHRONICLES by Charles Dickens

Whereas a customary spaceship might be launched once to its destination and once to its home, and despite the abundance of debris encounter none, the fact is that this particular spaceship had been to so many points here and anon that its hull was rendered the pleasing surface texture of edam cheese, and despite this was none the worse for airworthiness. One can be little blamed for thinking of the ship when viewing its captain’s countenance, wise and handsome but similarly pock-marked by the thousand tiny collisions most see fit, by fortune or abstinence, to avoid.

Captain Phineas Galaximaster, these being the names his unsuspecting parents dared upon him to confer, peered through the porthole to examine the endless night. It was a regular but unrewarding habit, for the observations never varied — quantity: infinite; quality: twinkling; positions: various.

It was about this time the fourteen-year-old version of Phineas Galaximaster skulked into view, pondering the most advanced and state-of-the art methods of sharing his misery. Had he pockets in his cosmo-unitard he would have had his hands them; had he headphones to supplement the Infinite SongSpace implant at the base of his skull he would be wearing them. Alas, without these accoutrements he had very little to distinguish himself from his adult version, besides being shorter, thinner, and nurturing the crop of acne scars the Captain would eventually reap.

“Good morning, Phinny,” offered the Captain, stepping aside to share the porthole, as unlikely as it was that his younger self should incline.

“Whatevs,” said Phinny. “Maybe today you’ll steer into another time-space singularity.”

“Goodness, is that any way to talk? You haven’t even met everyone yet.” Captain Galaximaster depressed a button by the porthole, and into it he spoke: “Ensign, would you send Calabria to the viewing gallery?”

“Who’s Calabria?” asked Phinny, feigning indifference in the way that one can only when one greatly desires an answer, and not dissimilar to the way he continued to feign indifference to the Captain’s company after explicitly seeking it out.

“You’ll see,” said the Captain. In no time, a tall woman appeared, defying the artificial gravity with her shock of shiny black hair, and straining in key ways the dimensions of her cosmo-unitard.

“Yes, Captain?” asked Calabria.

“Cal, I’d like you to meet my younger self. Though you already have, of course.”

“Of course,” said Cal.

She offered her hand, but as Phinny had at that moment recognized her from playing shortstop on the Pee Wee Softball team of his original dimension, he was unable to shake that hand, having fainted dead away.

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If Famous Authors Wrote Fanfic, Vol. II
If Famous Authors Wrote Fanfic, Vol. I