Plugs

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.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

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

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

Looking Up

by Jon

I miss hearing my name, but not Dr. Helfinger’s elbow in my ribs. “Astrid! Get up!” he hisses in my ear.  I stand and smile and shuffle across the stage to the podium.  Without looking I pull my index cards from my lab coat pocket and launch into the speech.  One of Turner’s, some rousing claptrap about our eternal quest to push back the frontiers of science.  Even as I give it, I hear not a word.  I am too busy waiting for him.

They say every great thinker does his best work when he’s young and unrestricted by experience. And then in the next breath they say I am the exception that proves the rule.  Sixty-five years of steady work has brought me much: twenty-odd doctoral degrees in as many disciplines. Five noble prizes. Enough research funding to buy me a medium-sized country (say, France), not to mention an army of graduate students eager to run it for me.  They all look up to me.  Well, all but one.

As I finish, a sonic boom overwhelms the applause and a sudden whiff of ozone fills my nose.  I turn my head.  There he is, striding towards me, the applause changing to thunderous cheers.  A smile automatically comes to my face and our arms reach for each other.  Professor Astrid and Captain Formidable.  As of last year, Eugene Eng, my former student.  My greatest gift to the world, my greatest failure.

We hug, and every hair on my body stands up.

He was one of a hundred faceless students I had on the Project.  We had calculated the way to break into the Sidereal Plane, the proper procedure to infuse its energies into a human body, and the experiment eighteen years in the making to test it.  And then Eugene, distracted by a text, had stepped where he should not have when he shouldn’t have. The universe changed and he was remade.

Him.

The Dean awards him his honorary degree, the Ph.D. he had left incomplete.  He shakes my hand and thanks me, as he has every time he sees me, and then he is gone with a flash, into the sky.  And I am left like the rest.

Looking up.

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