Plugs

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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.

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.

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

Archive for the ‘Jason Fischer’ Category

Shore Birth

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

It was a still sea that spat him forth, the surface as flat as a pond, the waters rank with dead sea-grass and the bloated bodies of fish. There was no sun to herald his arrival, nothing but a faint spot somewhere above the slate-grey clouds.

A jagged rock snagged his bobbing vessel, and the skin around him tore. As he uncurled from his foetal position he found twin horns on his head, sharp and mean. They made short work of the amniotic sac, and in moments he’d freed himself.

Awareness. Movement.

He saw his body for the first time, drank in the enormity of his limbs, his height, touched his long snout and horns. He was. The newborn knelt in the motionless brine, sluicing the wreckage of skin and slime away from his matted fur.

He cupped a handful of water in his broad hands, and lifting it above the murk he saw his own face reflected. He was a bull-man, a hybrid of man and beast. A minotaur. While there were many blanks in his mind, these terms of reference came instantly to him.

The child stood for a long moment in the shallows, pondered the desolate stretch of shore, the endless cliffs. The beach was loose stone, here and there covered in thick drifts of dead sea-grass, white and crumbling to dust. There’d been no high tide in months, if not years. In moments he realised the concepts of tidal patterns, lunar cycles, the works.

With some panic he realised that he was the only living thing on that desolate shore. The world he’d just been born into had an ocean but no tides, death but no new life to make way for.

‘I’m alone?’ he asked, voice a thick rumble. It was a strong and deep sound. He cried out in fear, an animal bleat, the sound echoing against the cliff-face.

As the sound faded, the beach was once again silent and still.

Drawing a deep breath through the fat pipes of his nostrils, the bull-man found control. He clambered ashore, the rocks doing little against the thick leather of his feet. This shale shifted beneath his weight, but he kept his balance, shuffled forward.

AMOS-312

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

AMOS-312 came online, and pinged the depot overseer, indicating that the recharge was complete. Rusting arms lifted it out of the great empty rack, and AMOS-312 found the following issues during start-up diagnostics:

Item #57: Outer carapace, dented and scratched – beyond allowable parameters

Item #7: Wheels, bald

Item #321: Tracker Camera K32 reporting 0.007 seconds delay – beyond allowable parameters

Item #99: MONTHLY QUOTA NOT BEING MET – Please try harder for those targets, AMOS-312!

AMOS-312 wound its way through the depot, past the repair bays. It pinged AMOS-267, who was patiently waiting for a mechanic to attend to its fouled drive-train. It mournfully reported that this was the 2,513th day it had spent in the bay. The appropriate messages had been sent at regular intervals, insisting that the service be completed, and automated responses assured AMOS-267 that the problem would be rectified, and that it should
remain in the bay until the mechanic arrived.

AMOS-312 rolled across the sea of litter that had blown in through the main egress, noting that the door was still jammed half-way open. It allowed 320mm of clearance either side, which was acceptable. Crunching over a huddle of human skeletons, the beetle-shaped robot climbed the access ramp until it was rolling alongside the highway.

This was unacceptable. The roads were still log-jammed with rusting vehicles, none of which were moving. Extending its instrument array, AMOS-312 scanned the traffic in all directions, watching for various traffic violations. It normally picked up 3.12 violations per hour along the M1.

Other locations were visited, with the same results. Occasionally AMOS-312 would have a Second Law violation, which was distressing for the robot. The constant failures were beginning to cause the machine the equivalent of depression. It sulked beside the highways, shuffled past the school safety zones (usually a great money earner for the county) and wondered where all the traffic violators had gone.

There! AMOS-312 picked up activity near the CBD, a pair of vehicles travelling at great speeds. They were operating with complete disregard for the road rules, and as the robot reached a good observation point, it issued several expiation notices, including:

Item #13: Operate vehicle at excess speed (132 km/hr in 60 km/hr zone)

Item #27: Strike parked vehicle.

Item #56: Leave the scene of an accident

Item #78: Destruction of municipal property (fire-hydrant)

Item #83: Destruction of municipal property (bus-shelter)

Item #102: Discharge of firearms from moving vehicle

AMOS-312’s instrument array went offline for a moment when it was struck by gunfire. Still, it was able to photograph the number-plates of the offending vehicles as they roared past. The driver of the second vehicle had obscured the last digit, several human skulls being mounted on the bumper. Still, a cross-reference matched the vehicle type and colour, and two further fines were sent to the DMV computer.

AMOS-312 finished the job with a quick analysis of their billowing exhaust spectra, and got them both with a #43 (Exceed allowable carbon monoxide emissions). 

Central data confirmed that AMOS-312 had just achieved a personal best, and noted that it should be considered for Operator of the Month.


The Cabal’s third anniversary is approaching, and we’re looking for help figuring out how to celebrate, so we’re holding a contest. Click here to read the details and give us your ideas!

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