Plugs

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Hotel Antarctica

by David

Jake jerked his head up. He’d been drooling. He wiped his face on his sleeve, looked around, then saw the message flashing on the screen. The scanning electron microscope had finally finished pumping down. They really needed that new machine.

He groggily clicked thru the startup procedure, finally got an image of the sample. One am. He had 6 hours left till anyone else had the machine scheduled.

Zoom in, focus, zoom in, focus, Jake was reading license plates before it registered that he’d imaged a city on an antarctic meteorite. One of those meteorites that, mineralogically, seemed to have come from Mars.

Jake excitedly scanned the rock surface. The city covered a good part of it. This was incredible! Forget the thesis. Nature, Science, a Nobel prize!

Jake feverishly scanned and photographed streets full of dwellings, temples, public buildings, focusing in on smaller and smaller details. Fountains, park benches, things that could be statues or streetlights, even people. Hundreds of people, all froxen in place, the monochromatic SEM display reminding him of the ash people of Pompeii.

“This stupid machine,” Jake grumbled. No matter how he focused or adjusted the stigmation he could not resolve facial features. He became obsessed with getting the perfect shot. Backscatter electrons didn’t help. He tried an alternative view and suddenly, one of the faces swam into focus. It had a pair of wide-spaced oblong eyes, a thin, sharp nose, and a wide mouth. The martian looked up at Jake, beckoned with a finger.

Jake began to doubt, for the first time, that he was awake.

“I don’t know,” Sara said. “Jake was supposed to be on overnight. I unlocked the door, and the place was a mess.”

“Ew. His clothes are here.” Jili poked her foot at the crumpled jeans and T-shirt that lay on the floor between the chair and the SEM. The worksurface was littered with empty Mountain Dew cans, candy wrappers, and a spiral notebook, open to a blank page. “He doesn’t use a laptop?”

“No, and it doesn’t even look like he was working last night. He didn’t take any photographs. Do you suppose he ran out of here naked?”

Jili woke up the screen. “He’s got a sample in there, but at such a high power and so out of focus you can’t see a thing. Well, let’s clean up and get to work.”

end

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