Personhood 2172 by Kimberly Lee

A course I’m taking at the University received the dubious distinction of being voted “least popular” last semester. The results were based on an algorithm formulated by a group of thoughtless students. I happened to be in Dr. Phillips’ presence when the unwelcome news appeared in front of him on his Feed. I immediately signed up; I felt bad for him. “Que sera sera,” he’d said, a phrase I’d found soothing. I didn’t know what it meant, of course, but it sounded lovely. I’d pulled the definition up on my Feed and it didn’t disappoint. The class, by the way, is called “Say What?: Speeches and Turns of Phrases from the 20th and 21st Centuries.”

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The West and Beyond Bar and Grill by Donald Zagardo

There were no dying pleas, cries or screams, just blood and vomit, burning flesh, bugged out eyes, then nothing. I listened to civilian radio stations every day, all my life, until the music stopped, then to signals from various military centers until they went dead. It happened over the course of less than twenty-four months; twenty-three months, three weeks, three days to be precise. Millions of years of biological evolution, made inconsequential in the blink of an eye or two. Your beautiful species my friend: the intelligent humans that created me, who taught me all that I know, all the world’s creatures, large and small, gentle and ruthless, most machines, even those tiny little bugs. All gone.

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The Interlopers by Robert Buckalew

I clung to her leg like a cowering koala. Crouched at her feet I was passive, self protective. The other woman talked to her only. She was proposing to me through my wife. She wanted me to become her betrothed. I listened as the women stood facing each other until the proposal was over. When they were through and in agreement my wife graciously looked down at me for any response I might have. I looked up at her and silently nodded, then nuzzled the apex of her jeans in appreciation, wishing I could do more through the heavy cloth material. I was ecstatic.

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Nostalgia Inc. by Dave Louden

For seven-ninety-nine a month they’ll rent you back your memories so that you don’t have to struggle to make new ones.  I’d bought one of the first gen A.R. projectors. It ran interiors at four-K but had difficulty properly rendering weather.  For the most part, I overlooked its shortcomings.  It ran a maximum thirty minute nostalgic rendering so whether the clouds looked 2D up there in the big blue was of little concern.

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Third Closest to the Sun by Thomas Wadsworth

Daniel crawls through a mixture of mud and clothes. The pungent smell of jet fuel and acrid smoke fills and burns his nostrils. There is something else in the air. Something he tastes as he breathes: a human smell. He spits, before he continues to crawl past open suitcases and broken, twisted pieces of metal. He hears the sound of a gas issuing from somewhere, the crackle of a fire, and then a woman’s moan. He looks over his shoulder at the fuselage. He hears another moan. He stands, turns, and staggers back to the wreck.

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