Plugs

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.

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

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

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

Escape from the Goldilocks Planet

by Rudi Dornemann

She lost her name on Stiltskin 9, another casualty when the reputation economy crashed. She made it offworld with a few credit cubes and a broken-down matter fabricator.

From the first, though, her new planet turned out to be just wrong. The fabricator’s nanotech assembly was stuck, would only convert straw to gold. And she couldn’t find any straw, just calderas of steaming, congealed, or lukewarm porridge. The last of her cubes bought her way into a domed city, but it was nearly hibernation season, and the super-intelligent bears shunned her, in spite of her fur coat and matching gloves.

The bears favored semi-communal open-plan architecture, so wandering the city felt to her like wandering a single immense home. Soon enough, she was completely alone, the bears having all retreated to the privacy of their winter dens. She made herself at home, helping herself to the leftovers in the bears’ kitchens, snoozing warily in their summer beds, and whiling away hours in their virtual reality entertainment chairs–at least, whenever she could find one with a neural helmet neither too large nor too small.

One day, she met an insomniac. His was the only brightly-lit living area. Where she’d heard white noise forest-sound lullabies coming from the dens of other bears, he had a frantic electro-fiddle hoedown screeching from his speakers. He was sitting at a bark-covered kitchen table with a mug of coffee as big as her head.

“I get nightmares,” he grumbled.

She hadn’t asked.

“Humans in my house while I sleep. Touching my stuff.”

She folded her hands in her lap.

“Never seen a human.” He shuddered. “I hear they’re mostly hairless.”

She’d noticed the VR entertainments were redacted so that all other sentient species appeared as bears.

She tugged her fur-lined hood forward. “I can’t sleep either. Just moved from the other hemisphere. Biological clock still off.” The quick-spun tale surprised her. “I could keep a lookout for you. Let you rest.”

There was gratitude in the bear’s bloodshot eyes. “I couldn’t pay you, except in trade.” He motioned toward stacks of crates. “I’m in import. High-end porridge bowls.”

She shrugged, “Sure.” It was safer than serial housebreaking.

“Didn’t catch your name,” said the bear.

She saw an open crate, a bit of packing material spilled out. Straw.

“Call me Goldy,” she said. The fabricator was a restless weight in her pocket. “I’m in export.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.