“Papa,” the little girl asked him, “why is the ocean sideways?”
Unusual Times, by Gail Ann Gibbs
Good morning! Rise and Shine! Good morning! Welcome the new day, my most enthusiastic students! Good morning, Belinda. Yes, I know that is a phrase Mr. Collins says in the mornings. Enthusiastic means you are excited about learning. He is not here this morning, so I thought I would say it for him. Gather up your sleeping mat and get dressed, please. Thank you.
The Year of Rebellious Stars, by Tanvir Ahmed
These strange and wondrous events took place in ancient times, long ago, when the stars went rogue and the Caliphate was almost torn apart from the Oxus to the Nile.
Still Life With Slain God and Lemon, by Anne Leonard
Francisco paints. Delicate strokes, the soft bristles gliding across the canvas. He is working in the genre of still lifes featuring dead deer, killed grouse, glistening fatty hams with the bone in the center. His god lies across a table, trussed at wrists and ankles, chest cut open to reveal the heart. The god’s face is masklike, not human, antlers sprouting from his head, eyes large and golden like an owl’s, teeth sharp and fanged. Above him, the branches of a lemon tree hang down incongruously, the leaves thick and glossy, the lemons vivid yellow. One can almost smell them.
Alternate, by Kristen Koopman
The first time I start a life with my act together—and there were a lot of lives before this one; I just didn’t keep track because of all the existential panic—I’m in a coffeeshop. The details are, as always, exquisite: the earthy undertones of espresso-smell mellow out the warm-sour steamed milk, and the sticky film left by old sanitizer collects a layer of dust and fuzz over the wooden table’s varnish. The latest fully-realized magical universe of just, like, a buttload of romantic comedy worlds created by accident and coincidentally calibrated to torture me personally.
An Aging Military Vehicle Comes Out of Retirement, by K.S. Walker
Military Intergalactic Recon and Response Ship, or MIRRS for short, was getting anxious. Or rather, as anxious as a retired military warship could be. This largely manifested as running propulsion system scans every 8.2 seconds as opposed to every 15 seconds, as she typically would in alert standby mode. She also ran a series of probability outcomes; not that she was asked to. They weren’t even the type of computations her system was designed to excel at. At 22 solar cycles, her processors were nearly obsolete. Certainly a newer AI could have run the numbers faster. But she never let pride get in the way of duty.
Lunar Drifter, by Eliane Boey
“They’re ready for you, Captain,” says the voice interface of the Orbiting Transfer Station. The glass in front of me is opaque, and I can’t see into the holding room. My heart sprouts wings and beats them wildly in my chest, but I steady my hand, and tap to open the door. The floor under my feet creaks as the station lists from the force of the invisible matter outside. I feel the change in a surge of queasiness. The station finds itself and is still, but the swell stays in my stomach.
The Willingness to See Things Through, by Mob
The last Historian slips from between the pages of reality—a professional smile on their lips, one limb outstretched in welcome. “Hi,” they say, “I’m the Visiting Historian, here for the acquisition of the offered narrative. Could you please confirm your ticket…?”
The Diamond Twenty Thousand Times Bigger Than the Ritz, by Rose Biggin
Some advice I’ve never heeded: whatever you do, whatever you do, avoid your mysterious neighbour and his glamorous parties. Here’s a better suggestion: he’s had all the advantages you didn’t, so go for it. See how the other 0.0000005% of the other half live.
The Omniscient Codex to the Perfect Relationship, by Uchechukwu Nwaka
It doesn’t exist. Not the Codex; of course it exists. Why else would I be floating over your head? I mean the perfect relationship. Even a perfect relationship is inherently flawed. You ask me why? Because humans are just that way. Give them everything on a platter and they begin to… well, abuse its value.