Swapsies – Gerald Cole

For an Underground station Putney Bridge is peculiarly ill-placed. For a start it’s around thirty feet up in the air. The District Line, of which it’s part, only becomes subterranean ten minutes or so up the track to Earl’s Court. Between there and here it’s an aerial ride through the rooftops, roof terraces and loft conversions of trendy Fulham. A moment or two southward and it even leaves the tiles and slates behind and sails over the grey waters of the Thames, past flickering bridge struts and glimpses of the river’s broad sweep towards Wandsworth.

No wonder the platform was so bloody cold.

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Languishing – Russ Bickerstaff

I don’t think that there’s any reason to panic. I mean the whole thing is kind of strange quite honestly and I don’t know what time to expect to happen. It’s all very strange. Of course there seems to be more things going on. I get the feeling that the sun is coming up soon. The shadows seem to be traveling in strange directions at strange angles with a very peculiar sense of velocity. I don’t doubt that there’s some kind of strange behavior about the light here. That kind of ends up being the state of things. It feels like I’m off planet even though I know I’m not, but the whole thing ends up being more than a little strange.

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The Late Dawn of a Solar Knight – Jeff Dosser

John Gage stepped through the double doors of the Seaside Vista Motel and into the glare of a cloudless dawn. With a deep breath came the realization that a strong rain could wash away just about anything. Even the lingering aroma of the cannery and sour stink of the fishing fleet anchored at road’s end had been replaced with the crisp tang of damp earth and new beginnings.

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No Pressure – Gustavo Bondoni

“It’s too far away to go by myself.  I’m begging you.”

Aida Firenze stood before him, and even in Europa’s tiny gravity, slightly less than that of the Earth’s moon, there was no question of pushing her aside.  Her expression gave a good clue as to how the quiet-looking ESA exobiologist had gotten herself a ticket on the first ship to explore the Jovian system at a cost of some several billion dollars, despite the fact that it wasn’t a European mission.  Speculation was rife among the crew as to who had actually absorbed the cost of schlepping her added mass – and that of her lab equipment – all the way out here. 

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Election Day – Greg Fiddament

CHAPTER 1: SARDINES

Gordon’s eyebrows are far too big for his face, for any face in fact – big bushy things that leer out over the hollows of his beady eyes and tax-collector spectacles. She’d always thought so, you can tell, but now they’re close, far too close, almost touching her, as he tries to squeeze his way into a corner of the already overcrowded lift that she is trying to occupy herself. She shudders at the thought of how they’d tickle against her skin.

‘Up, yes, all the way, thank you.’ he declares to no one in particular – he means he’s going to the top – before nodding a lascivious, ‘Miss Reid’ with a grim snaggle-toothed smile.

She shrinks away instinctively, trying to conceal her physical repulsion and disgust.

‘Gordon’ she splutters, then resumes holding her breath.

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Whyte City – Samuel Clark

I

Jordan Vesper toyed with the olive in her martini glass, gazing solemnly into the clear liquid feeling its coolness against her fingertip. Soft piano music played in the background of the café/bar, known as The Violet Hour. Picking up the toothpick laid next to her drink she sensed something and glanced behind her, searching through the smoky hue of the café and its dim light. Nothing out of the ordinary, just the usual sneering looks of disapproval from the patrons at her very presence. Jilted lovers and one-night stands all wanting more and frustrated in not getting any. Jordan pierced the olive with the toothpick slowly, then placed it on her tongue and closed her red lips around it, then sensually pulled out the toothpick between her teeth and chewed the olive. Letting out a heavy sigh, she threw back the drink, the cool sting slipped down her throat.

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The Siege – David Arnold

Rain crashed down onto the muddy field, swimming downhill through ranks of men. Ove looked up, iron helm heavy on his skull. He scratched his neck under a thick auburn beard and ducked his head down, trying to keep the rain out of his eyes.

A thick heat swelled deep in his stomach, when he finally saw the approaching castle. Four long beams towered in misty clouds with a square keep standing strong in the center.

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The Bio-Kam Technique – Sam Hall

They say your life flashes in front of your eyes before you die. I had been suffering with a chest infection for a few weeks and had been feeling very peculiar. Antiobiotics hadn’t shifted it. Lying in bed one night I found my memories cycling before my closed eyes. I sat bolt upright, my heart beating fast; 00:59 glowed softly on our alarm clock. My husband was snoring next to me. My cat, sleeping at the bottom of the bed, awoke, stared at me and mirruped.

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The Hike – Paul Weil

Erik has sewn a thousand tabs of LSD into the seam of the strap in his backpack. A sheet of Purple Ohms neatly cut into long strips of fifty-by-two and carefully wrapped in clear cellophane. He has kept fifty for the journey and has them stowed under the tight skin of his African drum.

“We’re going to walk to Glasto, mate,” he announces one morning, wide eyes above a face cracking grin as if he’s had the idea of the century. He is referring to The Glastonbury Music Festival in Somerset that starts in two weeks. I gape at him and experience that free-fall sensation I often feel when Erik has that look. I know I’m going to get talked into something outrageously stupid and dangerous.

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