The first symptom of the virus isn’t the sore throat or the vomiting — it’s denial.
Thirteen-year old Amelie was working at her mom’s video rental store in Avalon, an Outer Banks town with a great view of Earth’s rings. A strange customer arrived, telling tales of an alternate Earth where America won the Cold War and the Soviets never nuked the moon. Despite that, life in his alt-Earth wasn’t so great. He said, if she wanted life on her Earth to be good, she must respect the Octopus and listen to its song.
Yeah, he was a nut, but he was more entertaining than the usual tourist.
Then the pandemic came, a ‘Mommuck’ virus that combined the worst of the Spanish flu and rabies. Most of the people who got it died fast, but others turned into raging monsters who had a talent for eating faces.
Eighteen year-old Amelie, armed with a fast bike, her father’s guns and her mother’s determination, is the sole human survivor in Avalon. Everything is hers, from Dirty Dick’s Crab Shop to Miz Daisy’s mushroom patch.
But something is smashing her octopus traps. It’s fast, smart and it’s coming for her. She figures there’s only one former person it could be — the nutty tourist from the alt-Earth.
[This story was inspired by a somewhat disinterested tourist I saw in Venice]
Life used to be good. On a regular day, I’d get up around noon. Maggie was at work, Angie was in school, I could shower my meaty self and smoke in peace. Then, comb my thick black hair, pray the first novena, put on a pair of sunglasses to cover my bloodshot eyes and go to the cafe. Bang down some high-test espressos. Watch the skirts go by, shoot the shit with Uncle Stanz and the guys.
Before the tourists got in, I’d pack the underside of the seats with bootleg smokes and JoySticks, cover them with a cushion before the cops cruise by. Then wait for our marks, umm … chumps … umm … tourists to show.
On a scale from one to ten, farm girls from Tuscany in town for a bachelorette party were the best tourists, definite nines. Silicon Dendrites from one moon over were my least favorite. They were great trading partners – who else would buy tons of brine waste from our desalinization plants – but they talked in farts and ooze. Not great conversationalists.
Second from the worst were Deepwater Blavoks from two moons over. Educated and urbane, they saw us the way we saw the dendrites; lower creatures. With them it was a short exchange of sharp-toothed pleasantries, swipe the credit card and slither into the water, on their way to a methane spa.
The best, the absolute tens were our lost cousins, the Earthmen.
“Miss Patel’s Holiday” is part of the awesome, futuristic, Visions VI, Galaxies anthology, edited by Carrol Fix.
At the individual level, the rules guiding this are relatively simple. When your neighbor moves, so do you. Depending on the flock’s size, speed and individual flight physiologies, the large-scale pattern changes. But we don’t know yet what physiological mechanisms allow this to happen almost simultaneously with two birds separated by hundreds of feet and hundreds of other birds.
The implications extend beyond birds. Starlings may be the most visible and beautiful example of a biological transition that operates in proteins and neurons, hinting at universal principles yet to be understood.
Groueff: After the discussion with Lawrence. Was that [Mark] Oliphant?
Oppenheimer: You will have to provide the name because I will not.
Oppenheimer: And after that, I got interested. Lawrence had this fantastic electromagnetic method that I went into some ways in increasing its effectiveness by a very large factor, which did work but it was just a question of how to design magnetic fields, really. And after Pearl Harbor, there was a meeting setting up the Metallurgical Laboratory and I attended that.
Groueff: That was in Chicago.
Oppenheimer: That was in Chicago, probably the second of January or the 26th of December—it was just after either Christmas or New Year. You can find that out. And during the spring, I did have a communication from [Gregory] Breit asking me if I would like to work with him. But for reasons which are known but not clearly to me, Compton felt that he should have at the Metallurgical Laboratory some group looking into the actual problems of the bomb and not the reactor. And I think he wanted Carl Anderson, a cosmic ray physicist from CalTech, to be in charge of that but Anderson refused. The Project was in bad order, it was thought that it was badly run, they would never get anywhere, and that there were more useful things to do for the war.
Dawn was naked and sweating, trying to hold an Amazon warrior pose. I was sketching her, my pencil like a wisp of wind following the curls of her hair, the gold light dancing on her round belly, the curve of her toes. This was all I’d ever need, a beauty that blocked out the rude noises of the real world.
“Peter!” she shouted.
I jumped. My eraser bounced across my lap, followed by my pencils. I tried to grab them but instead smeared the drawing. Ruined.
“You really don’t hear a thing I say!”
I was about to get mad, but then my bones started to ache. I could feel when she was going to cry the way an old mariner senses rain. If I said anything contrary, the tears would pour down.
“I just told you I quit my job!”
“Oh, heck.” I said, gathering up my pencils “Why’d you do that?” If it wasn’t for her job slinging Kombucha at Cafe Bliss, we’d never make the rent…
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This is a professional magazine that began publishing in 1949 which makes it the second oldest continually publishing science fiction magazines in the country. They have one up on the oldest however, popularity. The publication is tremendously popular. It is the most widely read science fiction magazine in the country. It is consistently outstanding and publishing outstanding authors like (from their site) “Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, and Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.” This magazine is the cream of the alien crop.” Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines represents all of what’s best in science fiction today. The publication has an Alexa rating of about 135,000.
2. Analog Science Fiction and Fact http://www.analogsf.co.m/0906/issue_06.shtml
This is a professional magazine that began publishing started publishing 1930 and is as they say “often considered the magazine where science fiction grew up.” They do it very well and have published many outstanding science fiction authors including “Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Spider Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael F. Flynn.” The publication is the oldest science fiction magazine in the country, and they are consistently nominated for award after award. This publication has done an unequivocal job over the last 80 years of keeping great science fiction writing alive in print. They have an Alexa rating of about 691,000.
This is a professional magazine that began publishing began publishing in 1977 and is simply a high quality science fiction magazine that showcases some of the best in science fiction today. They publish great authors and the publication is one of the best science fiction magazines ever published, hands down. They have an Alexa rating of about 304,000,
Began publishing in 2000. They are a very popular online science fiction magazine. In 2007 they were nominated for a Hugo award. Works from their issues are consistently chosen for inclusion in many national anthologies. They are a science fiction magazine of the best kind. Strange Horizons represents where science fiction magazines are going in the future. The publication has an Alexa rating of about 200,000.
The Director gathered herself into human form and used her freshly sculpted hands to open up the Meditation room. She wobbled as she walked. It was hard to stay balanced while encased in a temporary body with limited sensation. But, since she was leading this meeting of Recovering Earthlings: The Formerly Famous, it was required.
The chill wind on her movie-star quality breasts reminded her of the problem that vexed her to no end when she’d been alive. What to wear?
The butler, Chor, had hung two robes up for her. One was translucent, flowing with every color in the spectrum. The other was an early-twentieth century peignoir, silky blue. The translucent one signified the future and the past, their existence beyond. The blue was comforting, a reminder of the home they left behind, earth, sky and sea. A comfort color would be best. She chose the blue.
Chor entered the room and greeted her with a chirrup of his forewings. Chor had worn human and other mamalian skins before, but his happiest earth-life was as a bumblebee. The Director hoped the New Arrival wouldn’t be put off by a six-foot tall bee in a bowler and spats. Since he was famous on earth for being somewhat of a “space oddity”, she guessed he wouldn’t be.
“The Meditation Center at the Corner of the Dark Dao Universe” will be part of “47-16 Short Fiction and Poetry Inspired by David Bowie”. Volume I is available for sale at Amazon.