Pandemic By Roger Ley

I realised something unusual had happened as soon as I entered the lab: dead cotton rats littered the floors of many of the cages. I hadn’t expected fatalities so early. The team had only given them the flu virus the day before and we thought it would be a few days before they developed symptoms. The powers that be had told us the virus came from South East Asia but that could mean a lot of things. It might be a natural mutation, or it might be of Chinese Government manufacture. It made little difference to us, our job was to assess it not trace it, and epidemiologists use cotton rats because they’re a good model for studying human influenza.

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This God is Going to Happen by Leila Allison

Once per year, Vicar meets her child at Altar. The event is a scheduled appointment, and means as much to both participants as an annual dental cleaning had meant to a First Form human being. For whatever reason, Awesome insists on yearly Vicar-class “mother-daughter” contact, which will terminate the year the color of the child’s skin changes from topaz to jet, thus signifying spiritual maturity.  At that point onward, they will neither see nor think about each other again. Vicars are happily solitary beings, in keeping with Awesome’s self-image.

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A Particular Kind of Scumbag by David Henson

Harold Marold was confident his new discovery was going to be big. Really big. Sure, his previous inventions hadn’t all turned out as he hoped. The periscoping contact lenses caused vertigo and motion sickness. His electro-socks to eliminate foot sweat were “shocking” — as he’d found out the hard way. And his chainsaw-equipped drone for trimming high tree limbs had its drawbacks. But his current project couldn’t miss. It was going to bring about world peace.

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