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The Zombie-maker

“Come on, angel, don’t make me bust your gourd open. I just want your purse!” The green, slimy, shuffling assailant had a death-grip on an elderly woman’s handbag. “Go to hell, you vile old bastard!” The silver-haired granny had an equally tight grip on her Louis Vuitton. “Been there, done that. And I ain’t so…

Ancient Sunday

The exploit was crude, but effective. Molten Hail—aptly named—melted through firewalls before freezing servers. The only survivors were hardened servers specifically designed to test every byte passing through their ports. It was one of these computers that Jeremy was analyzing when Bertha walked into the lab. “Hi, Jer. What do we have?” “Hell if I…

The Cracked Mirror

Detective Ragbone shook a small amount of graphite onto the frame, while marveling at the unnaturally uniform craquelure of the forged Venus in the Mirror. Having momentarily forgotten the gravity of the current scene, he quipped, “Even Rubens knew better than to daub a perfect crack.” “Ragbone! Decorum, please.” Inspector Wiggins coughed into his hand.…

Swampland

“Class, today is set aside for our recent graduates. Before embarking on his or her individual quest, each of them must complete the Sophist’s Emancipation Course. “Successful completion of the SEC requires a demonstration of virtue, vigilance and vigor. Intelligence without purposeful action is as wasteful as an upended jug of water. Our graduates will…

Bad Poetry

“The assignment, class, is to deconstruct this computer-generated poem.” Moans greeted this announcement, of course, because Lytton 3000 was as horrible at sonnets as its namesake was at prose. Still, Professor Fenwick could find nothing better to challenge his genetically enhanced students. With all the theatrical flair of Quentin Tarrantino, the Professor lowered the lights…

Bandicoot Terror

Spoiled by the erstwhile sublime environment of the New Guinean rain forest from whence they were “harvested”, the half-dozen bandicoots huddled miserably in a filthy cage. Their captor, himself a ratty-looking specimen of a human, arranged for the illicit transport of the marsupials to the Mercer Laboratory in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. His part in this…

Bee Cause Célèbre

“Catastrophic Colony Collapse Threatens America’s Economy” was the screaming headline that greeted the early morning readers taking tea and scones at Boulangerie on the Boulevard. Ignored by the bourgeoisie and misunderstood by the proletariat, the Wall Street Journal’s front page story nevertheless signaled a shrugging of Atlas unlike anything foreseen by Ayn Rand and her…

Grave Error

She couldn’t place the accent; it was thick, yet, undefined. Tasting the noxious brew again, Tilde Tittle decided the tonic had all the flavor of an undercooked umlaut and realized that she could never present such an inferior libation to her cavillous husband, Mark. Perhaps the shaken concoction of raspberry vodka, Sprite soda and DeKupyer…

Social Touchstone

Petri was giving a lecture at a university somewhere in the future: “Good morning, class. Today, I am going to teach you about the interconnectedness of all things. In the space of thirty seconds, one person can reach into the Resplendent Receptacle of the Universe, touch 100,000 other people, and leave an unremarkable stamp on…

Pandora’s Pillbox

Gerrie Shamba, Keeper of The Pandora Pillbox, shimmered into Siberia on June 29th, 1908. She removed the time-traveling hat from her head, reached into it and withdrew a handful of infected ticks. She sprinkled them onto the ground before returning the hat to her head. In twelve hours, an asteroid would explode over the region…