Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

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

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

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Archive for the ‘Children of the Waste’ Category

Secret Pocket

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Warning: this story contains explicit violence towards a child. If the subject matter disturbs you, or if you just don’t feel like reading this kind of thing now, you should probably move on. Check out our archives: there’s lots of stories in there that you might like.

Limp crept into camp. He hoped to get good night’s sleep before having to face Chief. He thought of the nano in his secret pocket, enough to buy a house, and leaned on the branch he carried for balance. He’d been away for three days and he’d lost the crutch. His mother wouldn’t be happy.

“Patrice, is that you? Where have you been, you idiot boy?” Only his mother called him Patrice.

He tried to look as tired and bruised as he felt, but she came at him at full speed and slapped him before he could talk.

“You better have something for Chief, boy. He’s been looking for you everywhere and he’s not happy. What are you hiding? Where is it?”

Limp produced a couple of computer chips, a vial of penicillin and some nano. Finally, his mother was satisfied and stopped hitting him.

The boy got up and hopped to his tent, but was intercepted by Chief himself. Limp was prepared. He threw the rest of the nano at Chief’s feet. Chief looked doubtful. It was more than could be expected from three days of scavenging, but he kicked Limp a couple of times for good measure. Limp sighed and took the wad of compressed nano out of his secret pocket.

“That’ll teach you to keep things from me!” Chief threw Limp a worthless chit.

Limp washed the blood off his face and examined his body for broken bones. The lead residue under his skin protected him from the worst of the sun’s radiation, but it also gave him a molted color that kept most of the bruises from showing. He blessed the missionaries for geneering his ancestors to survive in the Waste.

He thought of the skid he’d stolen from one of them. It was worth more than all the nano in Chief’s coffers and he didn’t plan on handing it over to him. It had taken two days of digging, but Limp had made sure it was buried deep.

This story is part of the Children of the Waste series. You can check out a longer story set in the same world at

Listen To The Hum

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Limp scratched at a fleabite and watched the skid approach. New Brain Malaria had given him his name and left him with little control over his facial muscles so that, even in the noon heat, he drooled precious moisture.

For a second, he hoped the skid wasn’t in-city and that he could kill the driver and keep the spoils for himself, but the glint of nanobots told him otherwise. Chief would be angry if he wasn’t offered this prize.

Yet, Limp hesitated. The Hum threatened against harming this stranger. He was caught between angering the Hum, the voice of the Gods, and Chief.

“They live under the orb that protects them from UV radiation,” he told the Hum. “Their crops have water, their children have medicine. Why should I risk my life for one of them?”

The Hum responded by dumping a barrage of information into Limp’s brain. They tabulated the geopolitical importance of the stranger and showed Limp decision algorithms, courses of action, predictions of market response and civil unrest. Limp didn’t understand any of it. That’s the way it was with the Hum, too little information or too much and no sense to any of it. He was the only person he knew who heard the Hum, but at times like this, listening to a jumbled mess, he wished the mysterious Hum would learn to use some grammar.

“They have everything and we have nothing,” he thought.

He swung from side to side, the signal to the Chief, and he felt the skin of his back tickle as the men took their positions, sitting discreetly at the only cafe of the shantytown, gambling with lamb bones on the dirt, peeing against the lone tree.

The Hum told him exactly where every one of them was. He felt his skin react to each one of the men in a different way. The trap was sprung, the visitor was as good as dead.

As the skid approached, he saw the driver’s pink eyes and wished he could undo his betrayal. The Hum would never forgive him for killing their protege.

But what was done, was done. He stayed in the same spot, muttering to himself, playing the part of malaria victim. If he did his job well, maybe Chief would let him keep some of the nano, something that would help Limp understand the Hum a little better.


For another story set in the same future, check out “Godtouched”