My short story, “Starfire”, about Eve Arnold, a disabled but determined farmer/aerospace engineer taking on the challenges of warfare in 2030, was a finalist in the US Army’s MadScientist speculative fiction contest. It was just published here by the Modern War Institute at West Point.
The task : “Write about the following scenario – On March 17th, 2030, the country of Donovia, after months of strained relations and covert hostilities, invades neighboring country Otso. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer competitor to the United States. Like the United States, Donovia has invested heavily in disruptive technologies such as robotics, AI, autonomy, quantum information sciences, bio enhancements and gene editing, space-based weapons and communications, drones, nanotechnology, and directed energy weapons. The United States is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. The United States is about to engage Donovia in its first battle with a near-peer competitor in over 80 years…”
A short clip from the story:
January 10, 2030
It was a slow day at the Sunnyside Diner so they turned on the news, which was far from sunny. Eve Arnold slouched as she listened, and when she did, the thin edges of her exoskeletal support brace pressed against her ribs. The AI embedded in the brace sent an auto-nag to her phone. “Stop slouching.” She ignored it and finished the dregs of her coffee as Oklahoma Today discussed America’s slow march towards war.
So happy to be a part of such a creative project !
Image credit: WILL POWER
The first symptom of the virus wasn’t a sore throat or vomiting. It was denial.
Way back in the year 2018, Amelie was thirteen, and viruses were the last thing on her mind. She was all about school, working at her mom’s video store and riding her bike. Gliding along the shores of the Outer Banks in the glow of Earth’s rings, she dreamed of riding the Tour de France one day. But things got a little strange when she delivered “Paper Moon” to the nutty professor. He claimed to be from an alternate Earth where America won the Cold War — and no one nuked the moon.
She laughed. But he wasn’t joking. He said “Respect the Octopus. Listen to its song.”
A couple of years later, there was another war. Nobody knew who started it, but a bioweapon that combined the worst of the Spanish flu and rabies ended it. The islanders called it ‘Mommuck’, an old outer banks term meaning ‘bad craziness’.
Most of the people who got Mommucked died fast. Others turned into raging monsters who had a talent for eating faces.
Five years later, Amelie is still the fastest person on the Island. She’s the only person in Avalon, the last girl standing. Armed with her father’s guns and her mother’s determination, she managed to outrun and defeat every Mommuck in Avalon. Now, everything is hers, from Dirty Dick’s Crab Shop to Miz Daisy’s mushroom patch.
But something — or someone — is out there, sabotaging her octopus traps. Whatever or whoever it is, they’re fast, smart and out to get her. There’s only one former person she knew like that — the nutty Professor from alt-Earth.
Read this story and more in the limitless Visions VII: Universe anthology:
[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.
You should have been here an hour ago. All of MamaSan’s friends in Pirate’s Cove were there for her funeral. We were all cleaned up, for once, in proper black. Palm trees were swaying over her freshly-dug grave. The suns were shining. I’d done a new tattoo for the occasion, drawn from a photo of her hammering the shelf over the bar. She was in her overalls, her short-cropped hair sticking out at all angles, cigar clenched between her teeth. I’d put the tattoo on my left shoulder, the last patch of my skin that was bare. It had sensors that could feel the mood in the air. I didn’t need it to tell me, the mood was sad.
I was at the podium, giving a eulogy for her when the thin, leathery Police Chief Ponseca, (a.k.a. ‘Loco Pete,’ a.k.a. the former Vice President of Charon), stormed in with his battered robocops. He got behind the podium, cuffed me and declared that I, Elizabeth Aguilar (a.k.a. ‘Lady Inked’) was a suspect in the murder of my guardian, Nicole Santos (a.k.a. ‘MamaSan’, proprietor of the High Dive Bar). I was also a ‘person of interest’ in the murders of twenty people who had been crushed to death by a serial killer appropriately known as ‘The Crusher.’
“Who is accusing me?” I cried as he twisted my arms behind my back.
“I am” Ami Watanabe, our head waitress, shouted. She peeked out from behind the robocops, black hair streaming in the wind, her slender frame hidden behind their rusty, dented bodies.
“You jerk!” I said. “I saved your life.” I don’t know why Ami was out to get me. Maybe it was the bad tattoo I gave her. Or the pink shirt I borrowed and never returned.
Read more of “Sari Sari” and many other futuristic tales in Visions IV: Space Between Stars.