We've Reached Epsilon!Every blood cell told Paul that he was a freak. Rainbow scales shivered up his torso and breathed grotesquely, sucking in atmospheric moisture in the dank underground complex. Paul felt that if he found a mirror, he would smash it and cut his own throat.We've Reached Epsilon! by tamaranorbust
Tal'Shen was deliciously rupturing the opaque turquoise fleshy bulbs on his back. Suicide? She stopped.
Lysanna's twin, Linfjen, froze Maya rigid. She bombarded Lysanna with telepathic spears. She must protect Paul's Rejection of the progeny.
From afar, Lysanna grew alarmed. Humans were uniquely physically vulnerable to Fonae spawn. Unfortunately, among the galaxy's sentient races, humans were also alone in their infinite capacity for self-hatred. Mental illnesses poisoned their brainfields. Lysanna's fledgling screeched for help. But Lysanna was wounded. Tal'Shen must face Rejection alone.
Tears washed the meaty, translucent eyes growing out of Paul's face. Rage. Defeat. All I wanted was a job. Now I am a freak! Outcast!
Immaculate TransmissionPaul awoke to Maya's terrifying strangled gargle: "Scry as you like, Lysanna! They deserve mmmmm their own gods, even when prone to us. Mmmmm you hope they sanctify immaculate transmission mmhyahyahya! If your progeny survives –" Paul yelped as Maya's jab stabbed the hard, pulsating, possessed part of his groin – "mmy Proxitol, then they mmay worship this host as the virgin bearer of your divine mmmabomination –"Immaculate Transmission by tamaranorbust
"Maya! Whom are you addressing?" A man looked in from the hallway.
"Meade! S-sorry. J-Just. Talking to myself." Maya sounded tinny.
"Exercise caution, please. You know the spore's capabilities, even at this stage."
Maya bit her lip. "'Scuse me, love, be right back." She hurried out, calling after Meade.
The instant she left, Paul felt better. His mind floated on warm salt water. His nausea eased. Maya had left the computer in the corner of the lab on. Check the computer.
He stumbled across the room. The desk chair felt wrong. His hands seemed disconnected. His eyes bl
Backstage AudienceConvulsion! His brain became a backstage audience, while his head and body thrashed. The thing inside made him heave to expel the chemical. Maya propped a bowl as he vomited. "Sorry, love, that's the Proxitol again. It'll keep you human for a bit."Backstage Audience by tamaranorbust
Terrified, he looked around blurrily. They were in a medical lab. Its walls, sink, the grate on the floor, even the table he was on, were made from polished copper.
The shield above the door was worse. Turquoise wings over a diamond. A week ago, another hacker, Greenwing, had showed him this symbol. The girl insisted they meet IRL. He thought he was finally going to get some, but lost hope of that when he saw her. She was petrified. She drew the logo on a bar napkin. "You see this in a matrix, you get the fuck out of the system. These people're dangerous."
"Who are they, Gwen?"
"Texxon found them last month. He was hacking a bank server. The bank's security provider had another client mercenaries " She picked a
Leopards Have RosesJesus. He fingered the spreading patch on his thigh. Pain and panic flashed, hot and cold. Somehow, he heard his phone vibrating from the bedroom. He could hear his keys tinkling against the buzzing cell, like icicles falling from eaves to icy pavements.Leopards Have Roses by tamaranorbust
He was dry. Dressed. In the bedroom. "Hello?" His brain wondered: How the fuck did I leave the shower?
"Hello, Paul? It's Jacob. I'm at Leicester Square. Where are you? Did you get in OK? Did you forget our meeting?"
Raspberry fork-tongued starfish danced with turquoise hexagonal doorways. "Jake? Oh God! I'm sorry. I'll be there in ten minutes."
"OK. I'm outside the Empire. Hurry up. It's starting to rain."
Paul tried to focus: I can't screw this up. This is my last chance.
He ran out onto Sherwood Street, shaking his head to stop the kaleidoscopic discotheque effect. By Coventry Street, the burn spread from his groin, down his leg, and up his torso. Jake waved, advanced to greet him
"Paul." Jacob squinted inquiring
CharlatansThere was that unexpected duality to it, something ofCharlatans by EmmaSloane
a pan, flashing in salt marshes, broken up like old bones,
a war dream served with warmed nuts and Dewars,
drawled civility over upgraded seat assignments and
that Friday afternoon sense of having dodged the bullet.
Peopled canyons receded beyond lozenges of pitted glass
in that vertiginous sacrament we sometimes mocked,
mere hours since a proud dog-and-pony apparatus
went missing, sucked up barking into granite-clad commerce
and a sky gone gray in January's stolid transaction queue.
As long as they were talking in those soft syllables, those
Scotch-soaked whispers in clouds, those mournful echoed
dead voices--as long as nothing changed too much in other
words--you could vacation against a reclined seatback, take
your rest in plantations of pride and confederate aggravation.
Yes, the south would rise again, on that bullet-dodged Friday
afternoon--something like a flash in the pan, in salt marshes.