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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In The Same Place – Matt Hobbs

‘Pull yourself together,’ Messalina said to Henri Delacourt, as they sat in the Limehouse Water Bar. The ancient poet in the tatty blue corduroy jacket stared down into his vodka club soda. She could only see bushy grey brows where eyes should be. So irritating, she thought; if you’re going to ask my opinion at least have the courtesy to look at me. He looks like an elderly dog catching its reflection in a puddle and trying to solve the never-ending mystery of the mirror image.

‘I only said that we don’t need human artists now that computers can produce all the content we need.’ She absently clicked her long fuchsia nails. Henri flinched. Messalina shrugged. ‘I repost artificially created motivational phrases all the time on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr – you know? People give me bundles of likes. There’s this great artificial poet called Ibid and…’

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Leave Them Be – Thomas Wood

A clock hung as guardian above the locked steel door. Each ticking second was a sledgehammer, shattering the darkened silence, slamming against the concrete slabs of the enclosure. He rolled in his bunk toward the wall, away from the contraption at the far end of the room. The metal frame groaned; each sight and sound a reminder of his plight.

21-306 slept furthest from the door, in the bottom bunk. An honor he earned through longevity and nothing more. As more experienced men lost their way, he moved away from the cold steel, and the clock, one bunk at a time.

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Pilgrimage of the Black Shepherd – Jack Barry

The dew had settled on the grass. Fog, dense, is the pressed cheek of the sky flush against the earth. The heavy water in the air fills the lungs. There are shapes in the mist, the great swelling figures cast shadows as they are born from the water, traverse the dewdrop grass, and dissolve again into the primordial mass. Lying still for a long time, lakes form on the skin, a film that thins and deepens over the rolling dips and hills of the body. The water presses down heavy, it becomes harder to lift yourself.

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Laborotics – Degen Hill

Electricity coursed through the concrete bunker that housed Unit 11, bringing the 30 androids to life. Green lights atop each mechanical worker flickered on while their gears clicked, unlocking them from their charge stations. 

C-17 clenched his black mechanical hand into a fist and then slowly flexed each of his five, tri-jointed metal fingers until they were fully extended, repeating the process twice on each hand. He stepped out from his charging station and turned to see the other bots going through their own morning ritual, understanding that it was moments like these that helped them maintain their sanity.

What day is it today? More importantly, what year is it? Does it even matter?

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The Junkyard King – John Tarrant

A shimmering red bubble surrounded The Junkyard King, a foot-tall midget in a diaper. He stood on a tower of smashed cars and space cruisers. Black hair covered his chest. A small flask lay at his feet and he clutched a fat cigar and blew clouds of smoke. In the other hand he held a bright red wand. His head snapped toward the timer two minutes away from zero.

I squeezed the cell’s metal bars, trying to stop my naked body from shaking. I glared at the announcers—two small figures enclosed in protective glass high above the battlefield. I hated them for how lightly they took this.

“Looks like the King is getting impatient,” Paul Dice, one of the announcers, said. His voice boomed through loudspeakers set up around the arena.

“He is ready for the Battle to begin,” the other announcer, a woldrak named Dobarh, said in a deep and guttural voice.

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