Plugs

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

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

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

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

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The End

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

He carried her all the way to the end of the universe, and showed her where it all dropped off. Stars streamed down the long black wall, leaving streaks of silver behind.

From the crook of his arm, she asked, “Where does it all go?” She was five, and she asked a lot of questions.

He juggled her a bit in his arms, and pointed. “Down there,” he said. His eyes were bright, reflecting the shine of the stars and the spaces around them. He was not what she expected at all. For one, he was far too prosaic. Her mother said that platypuses proved he had a sense of humor. Her father said physics was serious stuff—no dice games. Both of them were at home asleep, and either of them would have felt all their questions sucked away down into the streaming black of the end of the universe. Either of them would have felt like they were falling and falling and falling. Either of them would have woken up immediately, relieved.

She asked, “Where’s that?” and he frowned at her. He was used to being questioned. He was used to ignoring the questions he wasn’t interested in, which was most of them. His frown seemed to take up all the rest of the end of the universe, and echo back to the beginning. Streaming stars trembled, and swept around him.

She sighed, and struggled down out of his arms. He let her go, spreading out his hands, watching her make her way to the edge. It was not behavior he was particular familiar with. She thrust out her chin, assessed the drop, the lines of incandescent light shivering down into points, away and away forever. She turned and smiled at him, and he could not help but smile at her, wrapped in the luminous vapor of the stars. She smiled at him again, and turned, and she leapt past the edge of the universe, beyond the end.

The Interview

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The time traveler pulled up a chair, placed her holorecorder on the table and pressed a button just in time for her ghost to appear.

Across the table, her ghost was apparently sitting on air.

“We need to talk,” said the ghost, “about some things you need to do. And not do.”

The time traveler nodded. “Go ahead,” she said.

The ghost laid out times, dates, places, people to watch out for, objects to be sure not to misplace or to avoid if they were falling from a great height.

The time traveler nodded, checking that the recorder’s green LED still glowed. She could have sworn that, under the otherworldly blur, the ghost was looking older already. That had to be a good thing.

The ghost must have talked ten minutes before she paused. “Actually,” she said, “I made it all up. I’m not your ghost exactly.”

“What?” said the time traveler. “Then who are you?”

“I’m the ghost of your clone.”

“I have a clone?”

“You will,” said the ghost, “The Rosenkrantz institute has a secret cloning project. That’s what all the samples were for. They had nothing to do with your fitness for time travel.”

The traveler held her head. The organization that had invented the time machine and recruited her to use it apparently had a deeper, perhaps more sinister agenda. “What should I do?”

“I have no idea,” said the ghost. “To be completely honest, the clone wasn’t exactly your clone, but a clone of your twin sister.”

“I don’t have a twin sister.”

“Not in this universe, you don’t…”

“Wait a minute!” The time traveler jumped up, bumping the table.

The ghost shuddered in the air; perhaps that’s what ghosts did when they were surprised.

“You’re the ghost of the clone of my twin sister from another dimension?”

“Exactly!” said the ghost. “Well, no. I made that up too.”

“Then who are you?”

“You.”

“Me?”

“You have a multiple personality disorder, and recorded this whole mad spiel as a joke on my most boring self.”

“That can’t be,” said the time traveler. “I got the recorder right before I left, in factory packaging.”

The ghost pointed to the depressed button on the recorder’s top–“PLAY” not “RECORD.”

“But how? I haven’t had time. And how would you… I… know what I was going to say?”

The ghost/hologram grinned, “Isn’t time travel great?”

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