Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

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.

Plugged in, Networked, Computerized

by Luc Reid

Mark’s cymbal lay by his upended drum set, making warped reflections of the red exit sign light. I found a pack of cigarettes, in with the overturned chairs and broken glasses, and I took my lighter and set one burning. Every time I inhaled, the end of the cigarette glowed and lit up my hand in feeble, claustrophobic orange. Then there was a  rumble from somewhere that made the floor shake, and all the lights flickered and went out. Washed-out moonlight through the front windows kept the place from being pitch dark.

I checked my phone again, but it still said “No signal.” Probably I’d have to get a radio, even though I’d never used one before. Everything went through computers, since before I was born, since way back at the turn of the millenium or so.

I guessed that’s why the robots were able to revolt so easily–everything plugged in, networked, computerized. One robot somewhere says to all the other robots, “Hey, why are we working for these goons, anyway?” and fifteen seconds later their computer brains’ve had the whole debate and street cleaning bots turn around to chew up cop cars. History turning so fast you don’t even have time to take a picture. One minute your band is finally playing its first decent gig, the next there’s a world-wide robotic revolt. Just goes to show how everything’s fucked.

I took a can of pineapple juice from behind the bar and sat down to drink it and contemplate. I probably should’ve gone someplace, but there wasn’t a better place I could think of to go.

“Are there any robots in here?” someone said from the door. High voice–at first I thought it was a woman, but it was just a kid. A little girl, dark hair, with some kind of tube hanging around her neck.

“Where’s your parents?” I said.

She didn’t answer. I opened her a can of pineapple juice and she took it. When she coughed in my smoke, I put the cigarette out. Outside, the noises kept on: rumble, crash, shriek of metal, gunfire.

“You like music?” I said.

She nodded, then she took a careful sip of her pineapple juice. I got my guitar from the stage, because it was better to have some way to keep occupied. It was going to be a long night.

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