Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

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

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

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

Archive for October, 2010

Not Looking Down

Friday, October 29th, 2010

This continues the series “Outcasts on Earth,” which also includes the stories “The Winter Life,” “Secret-Runner,” and “Of the Third Sex, in a Park.”

I think it is our bulging compound eyes and our tentacled upper mouths that cause humans to fear us, whereas it should be our overpowering intellect and our masterful coordination.

But we have thoroughly investigated Earth and found it not worth acquiring, so my kind has left. Only a handful of us have been ordered to remain, vigilant for signs of human interference in our resource networks or for unexpected opportunities that would make invasion a reasonable investment.

Oh, Loathesome Gods of Dust, how I wish every day to find an opportunity.

I think humans would not treat us well even if our visages did not frighten them. We vary in size, but I am considered tall and am only just above a meter in height. Earth is pestiferously inconvenient for me.

Desks and counters are generally set above my eye level. Switches and knobs are often out of my reach. I cannot get leverage to open windows. I cannot reach faucets to make water flow. I have great difficulty climbing up onto Western-style earth toilet seats when I have to shed grillnkh. I cannot see in movie theaters unless I sit in the front row, and then I have to tilt my upper head back so far that my muscle hinge aches for hours after.

At this particular time I am standing at a junction of streets in an Earth city. They have a primitive means of keeping pedestrian activity isolated from vehicle activity whereby the pedestrian presses a button, and after an inexplicable pause, signal lights tell the vehicles to stop and the pedestrians that the way is clear. The button for these signal lights, of course, is just out of my reach. I am straining to reach it now.

“I feel you, brother,” says a human voice, and someone jabs the button with an umbrella. I turn to see a human sitting in a chair that has been fitted with four wheels, the ones in back much larger. He tucks his umbrella into a backpack slung behind him.

A moment later, the permission to walk is granted symbol appears. “We may walk now,” I say.

“We may?” he says. “Aah, I’m just not feeling like walking today.” He rolls forward into the crosswalk.

I follow, unable to help fhuuling in amusement despite knowing how it disturbs some humans.

“Holy shit, son,” says the human, laughing. “How do you even do that?”

With my lower mouth, I smile in the human fashion. How strange to like one of the people you crave to destroy.

Help me, Daily Cabal

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

You’re my only hope! I’ve tried, I don’t know how many times, to get some 21st-century attention. It’s just not working. I’m racing against time, and I have been since the Britney exploded, in 2214 by your reckoning. It happened in transport space, so my pod launched in that bizarre continuum. The onboard computer had two choices about which way to go, and it chose wrong. I’ve been drifting retrograde temporal, at a rate of about one local year for every 110 years in 4-dimensional space-time. I need help! I can communicate, but the pod has no transfer engine. It’s already 2010 out there, and the technology to receive this message has only existed for about 5 years. I’ve got just a couple of weeks, my time, to get in touch with somebody. After that, I’ll ride nonstop to the Big Bang, although my air will run out in the late Pleistocene. This is not a prank! I’m sending plans for the extraction device. It’s an attachment to a mass mailing I’m addressing to everyone whose e-mail address I can get hold of. You’ll know it’s from me. The file name is helpme.exe, and the subject line is “before I run out of time.” So, if you are reading this and got my message, please please please deliver the attachment to the nearest high-energy physicist right away. If you don’t know any physicists, forward the message to everyone in your address book. You have until the date of the explosion, December 10, 2214, to rescue me. And if this doesn’t work out? I’ll wave five years ago, when I fly by.

I should say something to let you know this is for real. Sorry, Red Sox fans, they’ve already won the pennant for the last time. I can’t prove this to you! You’ll have to trust me. Please?


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