The look on Lao Lao’s face was an image Kallan hasn’t seen in a long time. She remembers Lao Lao looking this way when a being asks about the future. Lao Lao’s face becomes devoid of all emotion. And the being that is in front of Kallan is no longer her Lao Lao. Instead, it is an entity that has existed before time and will continue to exist after everything is gone. To say Kallan wasn’t tempted was a lie. She wanted to know or at least know enough to know for sure if the explosion had been an accident or something more sinister. She swallows.
Kallan straightens her back and hears her spine crack and pop. Her muscles are both numb and achy for sitting in one position for so long. But at least she’s at home. Her desk is covered in files and her laptop looks as tired as she does. She finishes the last bit of her high-caffeine tea and gets up to walk to the kitchen to fix another cup.
Shirley had given birth to a daughter, so she didn’t get to hold her right away. The team of doctors scooped the baby up and took her into the Implantation Room. As she already knew, her daughter had to get her Protection Chip. All females had to. It was for the greater good, they told them. This way, you’ll be safe, they told them. Shirley tried to feel comforted by that thought, but could simultaneously feel her own Protection Chip throbbing, deep within the pit of her stomach.
Her husband noticed her frowning and squeezed her hand. “It’ll be ok. Just standard procedure. We knew this would happen.”
“I know,” Shirley sighed and looked up at her husband, swallowing her tears.
“It’s better this way. Now she’ll be safe.”
First chapter: Fire & Rain
Previous chapter: Arthur
Kelsey adored the 1980s. People nowadays were too focused on things of the present and future. But she was obsessed with the past, even though it had been many decades since the 1980s had lived and died.
Kelsey understood why people back in the 2010’s used to be nostalgic for the 1980s. Kids growing up in the 1980s had a wild, distinct flavour about them that never really compared with any other decade before or since. Cell phones were nonexistent, and you just saw people when you saw them. Unless you called them up at home.
Mobile phones were practically obsolete nowadays. Only those with deep nostalgia still took pains to acquire them. It didn’t matter if you had a phone or a Network implant. You could connect to people either way. But if you had a Network implant, you could multitask at a higher volume. It connected the user with any of the technology inside their home, or any nearby that wasn’t password protected. Mobile phones, app walls, iris functions, neural communications, vocal cues. All of these and more were accessible with a Network implant. Obviously, the more personal something was, the more likely it would be password-protected. These passwords included characters from Greek and Mandarin languages, numbers, and symbols, and were difficult to hack. Only the user knew them and was in control of them. The passwords would be changed every week. They could be altered more often if requested by the user.
Technology moved fast. But people didn’t always care to keep up with it. Even with fancy application walls which showed movies, games, and social media, many were still content with mostly using them for films. Some of Kelsey’s friends didn’t even have any app walls. They only had computer panels and Network implants. And they were perfectly content.
By Rosie Gonce
“Are you serious? I thought that it was on sale!” The old woman yelled, her wrinkled tattoos covered in dry skin. She wore a gray shirt that was as faded as the tattoos that covered her arms. The shirt said “Misfits” on it, with a sloppily painted skull.
“Well, it ain’t! So either buy it or get outta here!” The young man said, his dark stubble sprouting sporadically all over his face, along with his acne.
The old woman shook her head, rummaged through her backpack for a crumpled up thousand dollar bill. She smoothed it out, hiding her smile as she noticed the devil horns she had drawn on President Trump, with a Sharpie marker. She picked up the bill and then slammed it down on the counter with unexpected vigor and glared at the young man. He rolled his eyes.
“How many bags do you want?” He asked as he put the money in the register, and then put the bottle in a plastic bag. “Double? Triple? What?”
“None!” the old woman yelled. “There shouldn’t even be any bags! In my day there was a law banning bags! Do you know what they’ve done to our environment—”
The house sits on top of a cliff. It is a creation of wood and glass, made to view the sea. Stairs and a deck are carved into the cliff side. They lead to a modest beach that surrounds one side of the cliff. It then stretches on for a bit before being surrounded by the same cliff.
First chapter: Fire & Rain
Previous chapter: Dark Bath
The stench was unimaginable, and Kelsey had to fight to keep her dinner down. She couldn’t suppress a yawn, however. At its completion, the smell didn’t seem as bad anymore. Maybe she was getting used to the ghastly stuff in the tub. There seemed to be one simple solution to the mess at hand. And it could be executed much quicker than the plumber would arrive.
“R2!” she called downstairs, with Hannah still fussing over the tub. “Can you please bring your beautiful metallic ass in here?”
His name wasn’t actually R2. Kelsey preferred to call their android, Arthur, that name because she knew how much it annoyed him. She knew that he didn’t resemble the little beeping droid from the ancient Star Wars films. She also knew that Arthur wasn’t supposed to argue with his Keeper. He was online for one main reason: to make his Keeper’s life easier. That was any proper android’s goal during their existence.
Dreams That We Dare To Dream
By Rosie Gonce
Scott had wanted to go to the other bar that was downtown so he sat in the backseat sulking. He was being dragged along to go “drinking and find some girls,” which always lead to a night of a lot of drinking and getting rejected in subtle, polite ways by every single girl at the bar. He wasn’t in the mood to pretend that wasn’t going to happen. He had wanted to go to the bar downtown where there was a pool table and a jukebox with some of his favorite bands in it, U2 and Radiohead, in particular. Where the music wasn’t so loud that you couldn’t even think. He looked down at his baggy clothes, which he had barely tried to color-coordinate. Brown pants, plaid button-up, dark brown jacket, with one missing button. He used his fingers to brush his stringy, straw-colored hair back behind his ears. He was wishing he had gotten a haircut.
“Dude! Scott! Get that stick outta your ass! We’re not going to that shitty bar! All the chicks there are old and haggard!” Jerry yelled into the rearview mirror back at Scott, gripping the steering wheel tighter. Jerry had blond, curly hair that brushed the tops of his shoulders. He had a five o’clock shadow that made him look older than he was, and his clothes were slightly too tight on him, partially because he always struggled to find clothes that fit. He was built like a football player but was never interested in sports.
“Seriously, Scott!” Danny chimed in turning around from the front passenger seat to make sure Scott could see his annoyed look. “If we go to The Moon Room then we have a way higher probability of getting laid! Who cares if the music sucks! The chicks that go there are down to fuck!” Danny had gelled his hair special for tonight. His dark brown hair was always neatly buzzed on the sides and a little longer on the top to mold, what many referred to as a faux-hawk. He wore his usual “going-out gear,” which was a gray button up shirt with black slacks and shiny black shoes. His friends often teased him and said it looked like he was going for a job interview. “In a way, I am!” Danny would sometimes rebut.
“Yeah, they’re nasty girls,” Nathan said quietly as he sat next to Scott, looking out the window. Nathan was the smallest of the four friends and he often made it more noticeable with his body language. He slouched in his seat with his shoulders curved in and his face peeking out the window, like a curious animal. He had scruffy, light brown hair that he didn’t brush, that was just long enough the cover half his ears. He had a black hoodie on with some jeans and some all-black converse. This was dressing up for him.
Scott rolled his eyes and sighed loud enough so everyone could hear him. Jerry turned up a Green Day song and pushed on the gas more than was necessary. Danny lit a cigarette and started rolling down the window, catching Nathan’s attention who yelled over the music, “Danny, can I bum one of those?”