Plugs

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

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

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

Decisions

by Jen Larsen

“Come home immediately,” her husband said. “Jennette?” The speaker crackled and spit like frying bacon, and she flinched involuntarily. She imagined his voice landing like bright sparks on her skin, raising welts.

She pressed her thumb down hard on the microphone’s trigger, and leaned forward, raising her voice. She cleared her throat. “It was an accident,” she said. “Nobody meant for this to happen.” The head of research and development had assured her it was perfectly safe—and wouldn’t she like to tell her children someday she had participated in groundbreaking research? Time travel was just a matter of plucking the chords of the musical universe and setting sail on the vibration, picking at the tapestry of space and time with a sharp needle and threading yourself through its eye, like merging with the infinite. The head of research went on like that when he was drunk. He was difficult to deal with in the best of circumstances, unbearable at these launch parties. But that was her job, and she always did her job.

Jennette said, “Enough, enough.” She wobbled forward and slid into the seat—it was like an armored dune buggy, greasy with the fingerprints of the team. They never ate in the cafeteria, and she had sent so many memos. Her life was memos and notes and messages left behind—a hair on her pillow case, a lipstick smudge on his briefs. It could have been her own. She tried not to be suspicious. How childish would that be? She had almost done it, though. She stood in her scientists’ genetic lab, and wanted to hand over that long, blonde hair. She almost wanted to know. But then it wouldn’t have been an accident. Then the end of her whole life would have been her own fault.

Champagne buzzed in her head, and she leaned forward to look at the dials. She punched a button, and then another and another. The head of research lurched forward, but the door slammed shut, and the whole world burned away. She was lost in black space. She had merged with the infinite. She closed her eyes and felt a sense of—yes, it was relief. Until the microphone switched on. “Immediately,” he said, his voice all around her. She cleared her throat. “It was an accident,” she said. “Nobody meant for this to happen.” She closed her eyes. “No,” she said.

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