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.

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

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

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.

Archive for the ‘Geofiction’ Category

Speaker

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Carla backed up so she could see the reef better. A tessellation of almost-identical shells, each occupied by something vaguely resembling an octopus, individually as intelligent as a cat, and about half the size of a cryopod. As in a coral, the “animals” were connected, forming one colonial organism. It sounded like the cell right in front of her was the one that had spoken. Last time, the colony had been much smaller, and it had not understood her next question.

“Which one of you spoke?”

I am only one. There is no one else but you.

That was interesting. The first few visits, she had not been sure it recognized her as an independent entity. And the language lessons she’d broadcast from the buoy seemed to have been assimilated. Was it gaining intelligence as it grew? She went through the rest of the questions, recording the answers.

“I’ll be back next year. Your health and prosperity.”

As on her previous visits, it only responded to direct questions.

You have returned. Why?

The reef was huge, extending several meters above sea level and for kilometers along the sand ridge. The base was lost in darkness. She hovered above the waves on the seaward side. As always, it seemed that the polyp directly in front of her was the speaker, though she never could see an organ moving or vibrating. She set up a slow leftward drift of the skimmer, to see if the conversation stayed with the original polyp or moved with her.

“You are my research project,” she said. “I study you, to find out how you grow, how you think, what you do.” The reef was silent for a bit.

Again, why? Small organisms that I eat don’t visit me. Only you visit me, and you are not like anything else I know.

The voice moved with her, transferring seamlessly from one polyp to the next.

“I visit you because my people want to learn about others. Because we are not alone.”

Another pause.

Do you know others like me?

“I don’t,” she said. She and her Thesis Committee had agreed to say nothing about the fossil reefs stranded 100 meters above sea level. The reef spoke again.

I will create a motile form. It will transport my essence as you do for your “people.” There will be more like me. They will speak with you.

Your health and prosperity.

end

Hotel Antarctica

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Jake jerked his head up. He’d been drooling. He wiped his face on his sleeve, looked around, then saw the message flashing on the screen. The scanning electron microscope had finally finished pumping down. They really needed that new machine.

He groggily clicked thru the startup procedure, finally got an image of the sample. One am. He had 6 hours left till anyone else had the machine scheduled.

Zoom in, focus, zoom in, focus, Jake was reading license plates before it registered that he’d imaged a city on an antarctic meteorite. One of those meteorites that, mineralogically, seemed to have come from Mars.

Jake excitedly scanned the rock surface. The city covered a good part of it. This was incredible! Forget the thesis. Nature, Science, a Nobel prize!

Jake feverishly scanned and photographed streets full of dwellings, temples, public buildings, focusing in on smaller and smaller details. Fountains, park benches, things that could be statues or streetlights, even people. Hundreds of people, all froxen in place, the monochromatic SEM display reminding him of the ash people of Pompeii.

“This stupid machine,” Jake grumbled. No matter how he focused or adjusted the stigmation he could not resolve facial features. He became obsessed with getting the perfect shot. Backscatter electrons didn’t help. He tried an alternative view and suddenly, one of the faces swam into focus. It had a pair of wide-spaced oblong eyes, a thin, sharp nose, and a wide mouth. The martian looked up at Jake, beckoned with a finger.

Jake began to doubt, for the first time, that he was awake.

“I don’t know,” Sara said. “Jake was supposed to be on overnight. I unlocked the door, and the place was a mess.”

“Ew. His clothes are here.” Jili poked her foot at the crumpled jeans and T-shirt that lay on the floor between the chair and the SEM. The worksurface was littered with empty Mountain Dew cans, candy wrappers, and a spiral notebook, open to a blank page. “He doesn’t use a laptop?”

“No, and it doesn’t even look like he was working last night. He didn’t take any photographs. Do you suppose he ran out of here naked?”

Jili woke up the screen. “He’s got a sample in there, but at such a high power and so out of focus you can’t see a thing. Well, let’s clean up and get to work.”

end

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