Excerpt

from "Two Heads on a Platter" by Rick Rosenkranz

That’s odd. Leefield had checked the schedule in the morning and no shipments had been on it. To re-verify, he asked Melba to bring it up again. When the calendar materialized in front of him it confirmed that fact: nothing was due to arrive.

“What’s in the shipment, Ms…. Ms….” He paused, trying to remember her name. She was relatively new to the job, hired within the last nine months sight-unseen based upon the recommendation of the Twin Lions.

from "Ghost Story" by Brad Cole

“Hey, Chirp, reference Alfredo here and show me where its code is being stored,” she told her agent. A few seconds later, a laser-brilliant line of light extended from the virtual dog to a server concealed in the base of a nearby street lamp. Nina relaxed her mind, and began to navigate the various connections with her own neural circuitry and the small but powerful computer she carried on her person. She found Alfredo’s program, and opened it up to view the various ownership rights...

from "Playing with Dolls" by D. M. Dore

Feel. Want. Take. The song seduces me, and I seduce those who watch.

I push onto the tips of my toes and hold for a few seconds, enjoying the stretch of calf muscles. When I return to flat feet, my hands go to my waist. I’m about to start a slow grind to the floor when the music hiccups.

“You have a message,” G says. “Urgent.”

I freeze, heart seizing in my chest as the song’s crescendo reaches its peak. Breathe. Relax.

I should open it. Tagged as urgent can only mean one thing, but I hesitate instead.

from "The Heart of a Doctor" by G. Dean Manuel

««Mei-mei, I have noticed a significant increase in your core temperature. Are you feeling unwell or is this because you are embarrassed?»»

“Not now, Hiratsu!” she subvocalized. Mainly to distract herself, she asked aloud, “Where are we going today, Doctor? You haven’t told me yet.”

The smile fell from Dr. Greymane’s face. She looked directly into Mei’s eyes for a moment, almost as if she was looking for something. “Bosing”—her eyes never left Mei’s face—“and don’t call me Doctor. Call me Linda from here on out.”

from "Dork Knights of Harohbakh" by S L Koch

Rhett glared back at Meeps, a wash of betrayal across his lips. "You live stream our sessions?"

Meeps shrugged. “People like our sessions. Lazy people who pay me to watch this. The most popu—”

Rhett examined the chat stream that scrolled by over Meeps’ head. The last reply read: the laziest.

"Perverts. Ugh." Rowan groaned as she flagged some of the sleazier comments in the chat.

from "Real Life Action Hero" by T Reynolds

Isaac’s camdrone perched upon a nearby rent-a-charger and zoomed in on the two men as they walked into the RemoleCafé, trying to appear calm. The decor in the cafe was dominated by two huge waterfall walls pulling from the tower’s recycler system. Sitting on coffee-colored cerament floors, the bar took up the back of the room. Assorted seating was scattered about. They punched in their orders and waited silently.

from "Rebel, Rebel" by Tod Davies

“Sssshhhh,” Dea hissed. I hit my shin on a malfunctioning DreamRec™ someone had left sticking out in the middle of the passageway. I swore, then I giggled, and Dea’s hand clamped down over my mouth.

from "To Summon Mountains" by DeAnna Knippling

I isolated the part of the strand that I thought controlled the loss of telomeres, and created an incident at the company that made it look like we were being hacked by one of our competitors. During the supposed hacking, all our test subjects were injected with samples of the DNA. I thought, “Well, that will certainly make my name when it turns out that none of the brats can ever get cancer.”

But there it is. My name has never been made.

from "Rat Queen to Black King" by S L Koch

Skyscraper windows showered outward from a force grenade. A thousand strands of reflective safety glass vomited out the side of the Calibration Logistics building, showers of pain erupting in arcs across filtered rays of light, reflections dancing on a thousand glimmering walls.

There was a moment of gut-hunch panic before K8T enacted C-15 and tossed the grenade, before she ever saw the cracking elevator door.

from "Feed the Hand that Bites You" by Tod Foley

“Okay Ben,” says Jojo, putting too much emphasis on the name. His sleeveless black pullover bears the logo of the Abnation: a capital N in a circle, horizontal line through the center. The designer of the graphic has represented the N as a red lightning bolt, extending beyond the circle's perimeter and tapering off into wicked points above and below.

Mikal blinks. He's suddenly afraid, and he's not sure why.

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