Fiction

Cast Not a Shadow

In the darkness, the Buddha is a light. Cast not a shadow, and align your soul with what is right. Such was the verse inscribed above the entrance to the Chamber of Light, hidden a mile within the Kitala Mountains. Alaria knew that those words were a fleck of eternity, cast upon the ever-changing canvas of the world. Yet the verse was not just a remote, noble truth, but a command. Although the gilded bronze in which it was written was like garish face-paint over the enduring stone, it helped train Alaria’s mind on her task as she followed the four monks into the chamber. The thin brown cloak over her naked body provided little warmth in the … [continue]

Fiction

So Be It

Allocation Day had arrived. Like everyone else, Amen put on his threadbare robes. He ate his meagre food, and, like everyone else, he had some free time to finalise his preparations. Amen went over the rules again: You have one reset button. You have three lives. Direct contact is not possible. Simple rules, but he knew from his lessons how important they were if one of the class was going to make a breakthrough. When everyone was ready, they filed into the pod arena where the grid matrix map of the universe hung suspended before them. Once all twenty-seven of them had taken their standing positions, the doors were sealed shut behind them. A tiny orange identification cube glowed off-centre. This little cube was their first sight of their new worlds. The suspended matrix of the universe map zoomed in … [continue]

Fiction

The Adjoiners

Finally Colin was out the door. Andrea watched from the window to make sure he didn’t return, blaming a missing book or the need for a warmer coat. He’d been counting on a snow day, that’s why he’d been so difficult. It was a normal reaction, not “school refusal,” or whatever they’d called it last time. She’d have been equally disappointed this morning if the roads up to the Ogee National Park Visitor Center had confounded all predictions and remained passable. Colin had dwindled to a mote in a blinding field of snow by the time the whistling kettle forced her retreat to the kitchen. She set about making breakfast, all the while struggling to tamp down a rising joy. She could tell herself it was because she’d achieved this tiny triumph with Colin, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t the hours and hours of free time the snowfall had … [continue]

Fiction

Morality Tale

The 22nd Century was the Age of Time Travel. The 23rd, the Age of FTL Drive. Mankind conquered time and space. In the 24th Century, travel to possible worlds opened. In the 26th, physically—then logically—impossible worlds became accessible. Unscrupulous banks and companies relocated ‘offshore’, to worlds where 1=0, for tax purposes. Modal derivatives markets, intended to stabilize markets by spreading risk over all possible worlds, triggered an intergalactic financial meltdown when the pool was expanded to include tranches of sub-possible ‘junk realities’, bundled together with AAA-rated worlds. But we survived. By this point, dear reader, the human race had changed in its essentials, past the point of recognition by the likes of you. But, for purposes of the story, go right on imagining I am talking about strong-jawed men in ships like long, silver cigars. By the 27th Century, thanatonauts reported back from the afterlife … [continue]

Fiction

Pioneers

The Earth Explorer Ship Magellan pondered its precious cargo, the 795 robotic planetary probes nestled in the upper two-thirds of its depths, and its other passengers, the two biological life forms comatose in the cryo-sleep … [continue]

Fiction

The Glitch

Gliding, gliding, gliding into a mystery. At least I think we’re gliding. This thing is moving so slowly and steadily we could very well be still—-just hanging motionless in space, like an ornament on a … [continue]

Fiction

Pilot of Varying Lights

Coffee in hand, Sam Knightlinger walked from station to station, listening to conversations between controllers and astronauts from sources as distant as Mars, the moon and Earth Island—the planet’s first permanent orbiting space colony. This … [continue]