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

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

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

Electronic Sunlight Through Electronic Birch Leaves

by Luc Reid

The voluptuous, blue woman sat down across the table from me in the restaurant that floated through an endless, Van Gogh-style starry night.  I found myself staring at her eyes, which were as green as sunlight through birch leaves. “I don’t date if you’re not interesting,” she said. “Are you interesting?”

“Do I know you?” I said.

She transformed into a black-haired, skinny girl wearing a dress that made out of dark cobwebs. Still those same eyes. “Your profile autolinked to my profile in the matcher. Don’t you check?”

“Not constantly.”

She transformed again, into a short, fit, heart-faced redhead, maybe 35. Same eyes.

“Some night,” I said. “I’ve only been logged in for 5 minutes, and already I’ve been with three women.”

“Ha, funny,” she said flatly. “I like guys with a sense of humor. Are you into sports?”

“Sure. I play full-contact, extreme checkers.”

“You already did the funny thing. Too much is too much. Maybe you should say something intriguing, to keep me interested.”

“Since when am I desperate for your attention?” I said.

“You know the stats. Men don’t get picked up by women: women get picked up by men. Two different guys have messaged me since I sat down. I’m holding them off, but it takes effort. Give me a reason.” She leaned forward, offering a good view down her sweater, maybe accidentally.

“I’ve got nothing but integrity and gobs and gobs of money.”

“Still just funny–and not very funny. You’re losing me.”

“I think you’re actually a little fascinated.”

She shook her head. “Well, thanks for playing,” she said, getting up. “Maybe the next girl will be into goofy dorks.”

“Don’t make me do it,” I said.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m going to go talk to that guy.” She pointed to a tall, bald man with enormous pecs–actually, he kind of looked like Mr. Clean. “We’re messaging. His name is Raoul, from Brazil. See you.”

She started walking away. I pulled off my VR glasses, reached over, and unplugged Meghan’s set.

“Hey!” she said.

 I kissed her. “You suck at virtual reality,” she murmured against my lips.

 “Yeah, well, good thing that’s not the reality that counts.”

 I tugged her away from the computers and into the bedroom. Somewhere inside the machines, our avatars slumped down where they stood and eventually went to sleep.

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