Pop Goes the Shepherd

There are few jobs easier than being a shepherd in a carbonated world.  Sometimes sheep effervesce away with a pop! and vanish.  And sometimes new ones appear.  Everything was going well until that strange old man showed up.  Now he can’t stop popping in and out himself, off to strange places and lives he should probably steer clear of…

(reading time: 1 hour, 16 minutes)

Pop Goes the Shepherd

Ehmily of the Gonner House was supposed to be picking the blackberries as they reached their peak plumpness in those early summer months.  Instead she merely picked half of them and immediately consumed the other half as her reward.  She stopped briefly and took a seat in the lush grass just outside the castle grounds to contemplate how she would explain the half-empty basket to her handmaiden. Continue reading

Perfect Stride

Author’s Note: this story is one of my earliest, and is currently in need of alterations and structural editing.

Two brothers adjust to their daily life as grunts in a future conflict, marching across the waves of the sea in special boots…

(reading time: 57 minutes)

Perfect Stride

“No!  It took me ages to find that Dino!”  The purple cowry shell broke the water’s surface and quickly sank, belching up two small bubbles from its interior.  A blue gloved hand tried to follow it but couldn’t catch the shell in time.  It was soon out of sight in the depths.  They were almost four miles offshore now, so there was little chance a sandbar had cushioned it in a shallow spot.  Gemini would have gladly dived in after it, even if the water was boiling, but if he broke stride he would surely perish. Continue reading

The Tree’s Shadow

The tree of life is not a metaphor; it’s where Salticid the jumping spider lives!  Her branch, populated by all the other spiders, is minding its own business when giant chains appear and try to force the tree to grow in different directions.  The intrepid arachnid sets out to find the cause, and runs afoul of a bipedal king..

(reading time: 1 hour, 5 minutes)

The Tree’s Shadow

As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever-branching and beautiful ramifications.

                                                                                         – Charles Darwin Continue reading

The Medal Ghosts

You can survive your death, a little bit anyway, as long as you’ve had the treatment.  Then you can enjoy your life-like state as a drifting neural vapor that might do some thinking and probably doesn’t feel pain…

(reading time: 58 minutes)

The Medal Ghosts

The reception area of the cloud cognition research facility was designed to evoke positive feelings much more than the rest of the building.  The couches were burgundy, the front desk was paneled in light shining wood, and the receptionist wore a pale purple sweater.

She wore the smile she was hired for when an eleven year old girl came in through the automatic doors.  She walked up to the desk and placed her elbows on it, but instead of asking any questions she merely looked around.  The receptionist wondered what was going on in that little blond head, but didn’t care enough to actually guess. Continue reading

Marathon Discovery

The law says you can only claim territory on new planets by physically exploring it with your own two feet.  It doesn’t say you can’t wear special equipment, train in oxygen chambers, and store your own blood for later infusion, or compete with representatives of other countries in vicious races for dominance…

(reading time: 52 minutes)

Marathon Discovery

by

Blaine Arcade

A metal-wrapped bubble of oxygen drifted through space like the last deep breath of a time capsule before being buried in the dark. The letters N.A.C. were printed on the bubble’s side as if there was someone to look at them. Within the bubble’s skin, members of a human crew went about their daily business. Continue reading

Paused Fire

The devices changed everything, allowing disasters to be frozen in progress, resulting in countless saved lives.  It takes dedicated people to work as rescue miners, tunneling into the paused time to extract the petrified people.  A bomb has gone off, and there might be something strange going on deep inside the solidified smoke and flame…

(reading time: 54 minutes)

Paused Fire

By

Blaine Arcade

My pager went off. Both our faces forgot what emotions they were supposed to express and sunk. Our perfect moment shattered by that obnoxious beeping. Why did it have to be now? Why did whatever maniac blowing up whichever politician pick now? It’s as if our moment was his countdown. Drop to one knee… 3. Open the blue velvet box with the paused water ring that cost me four months’ pay… 2. Ask her ‘will you marry me?’… 1. Boom. Pause.

50 hours until crystallization Continue reading

A Long Wait for Meatballs

Clarence Under helps police the high altitude areas between the shafts of commercial space elevators.  The one warning they always give is to never attempt light speed within the atmosphere.  If you do, time will distort, and Clarence is left cracking open your vehicle to see just what of you is left…

(reading time: 1 hour, 17 minutes)

A Long Wait for Meatballs

I’ve got a couple short stories to tell you… well not exactly short.  They were short for me, just a few minutes or hours; they were painfully long for everyone else, sometimes days and sometimes years.

You can have the legal details first.  Legally, my name is Clarence Under.  I was born black to white parents, which my father was pretty upset about.  He left for a while but eventually came back.  Legally, I’m married to a fantastic woman named Alberta.  She co-owns a garden supply shop with one of her chatty friends.  (I think all the plants there do well because she’s always talking at them… I heard that makes plants grow) Alberta’s second job is worrying because, legally, I’m a police officer. Continue reading

Bookworm

Grandma’s basement is full of jarred and preserved magical creatures!  That’s how her cooking was always so scrumptious.  When she passed away she probably should have put a warning label on one jar in particular, the one with the smart-looking little caterpillar that loves to eat words…

(reading time: 1 hour, 10 minutes)

Bookworm

There came a time when knowledge turned invisible and raced across the globe.  It ran to those who searched for it and was displayed almost offensively.  It was called the internet.

Deep under a house, blankets of dust, like permanent foggy twilight, obscured a glass jar.  The shadow inside wanted out so badly that it tackled the side and cracked the glass.  It wanted out because it sensed, no, smelled, the knowledge flying in the air.  The internet called to it like a cartoon pie’s scent trail that tickled everyone’s noses.  That one crack… was its last bit of energy.  It was too dry now.  It shrank, it shriveled, it cracked, and, finally, it fell into a death-like sleep.  Not death though, for the jar had no expiration date. Continue reading

Head Chef at Cave Gouch

The ship’s crash left the cook stranded on an alien planet as the sole survivor.  A large creature decides to take him in rather than eat him, the industrious varclid known as Gouch.  He would like to use the man’s expertise, and there’s plenty of meat left around from the crash…

(reading time: 1 hour, 7 minutes)

Head Chef at Cave Gouch

Gouch’s territory was quite large for a male his age.  Usually, a varclid’s range shriveled and curled inwards with their body, but Gouch’s body was still as strong as a steam engine, which allowed him to maintain a domain with ten miles of pristine rocky coastline, a wetland of forty square miles, and a patch of dense forest around three square miles.  With all that land to himself, it wasn’t inconceivable that a human might occasionally stumble in. Continue reading

The Hollowcry

The twins came to town to deliver some plants, but they didn’t speak much.  Here speaking is an act of creation, giving birth to a quote, which wanders around repeating itself as it tries to resonate with people.  They’ll have a hard time keeping their mouths shut if that rumor about the monstrous Hollowcry is true, flying on the lift from human screams…

(reading time: 1 hour)

The Hollowcry

“A sleeping traveler is merely cargo.”

The quote roused Tawny from her nap.  She rubbed her eyes, forgetting her hands were coated in soil.  After a solid twenty seconds she’d removed all the sleep and dirt and been able to survey her surroundings.  She was glad to see they were exactly as she had left them.  More than two hundred shakespore plants crowded her with their huge hanging flowers.  The petals were bright orange and yellow and they hung so low because they hadn’t heard anything stimulating since the beginning of the journey almost two weeks ago. Continue reading