Abyss: Stories of Depth, Time and Infinity

The paperback of Abyss: Stories of Depth, Time and Infinity is now available for pre-order on our shop and the ebook from Amazon. I’m so excited to finally see this come to fruition!

With contributions from:

William F. Aicher

Jasmine Arch

Mark Bolsover

R. A. Busby

Merl Fluin

Robert Guffey

Ayd Instone

Thomas Kendall

Tomas Marcantonio

David McAllister

Ross McCleary

L. P. Melling

Soumya Sundar Mukherjee

Kurt Newton

Stephen Oram

Nadia Steven Rysing

Vaughan Stanger

Antonia Rachel Ward

Flash Showcase: Bullseye by CB Droege

“Are you hustling me, Harrison?”

Adaqaros turned away from the dartboard, his hand still on the final dart, which rested just to the right of center in the tiny treble twenty crescent. He stared at Jimmy through narrowed eyes, and accessed Harrison’s memories for the meaning of the term. It took several moments. Harrison had not put money on games of skill very often.

“No,” Adaqaros said. “My sudden increase in skill is a natural artifact. This is my second venture at darts only.”

“Wait,” Jimmy said. “That last game was the first time you’ve ever played darts?”

This made Adaqaros pause. He studied Harrison’s memories again, thoroughly. He had played a skill game similar to this at a fair when he was twelve years old, not nearly enough to have developed any muscle memory which Adaqaros could rely on. Several years earlier, Harrison had played with something called lawn-darts, which he had found in the garage of his paternal grandfather, but it was not truly a comparable activity. Adaqaros himself had never played this specific game of skill, and had had little opportunity to test the dexterity and depth perception of Harrison’s body. He decided that the statement was true enough to be spoken, and required no retraction. “Yes,” he said simply, and removed the final dart from the board.

Continue reading “Flash Showcase: Bullseye by CB Droege”

Flash Showcase: The Beast by Stephen Oram

Like a continuous line of ants, they come and they go. Squeezing through the gap in the protective covering created by the bio-build bots. Dashing across the tarmac track. Scrambling up the slope of the grass mound in the centre of the dome to find a patch they can call their own. Breathing in deeply. Sucking down the thick air. Waiting to catch a glimpse. The girl and her grandmother are no exceptions. Rubbing shoulders on the crowded slope they chortle in anticipation. They tingle with the thrill.

Four shiny diamond-like eyes pierce the smog that clings to the floor of the bubble. Pinpricks that gradually grow. A silver mesh stretches between the two largest eyes like a mouth guard for the most ferociously dangerous animal. They both feel a rush of excitement through their veins. A smaller daintier eye sits either side of the larger eyes, one on either side. A rumbling noise with an undercurrent of a steady beating thump increases in intensity.

Glints of sunlight that pierce the skin of the dome reflect off the approaching beast, shooting beams upwards to delight the crowd with the cross of a kiss above them.

The roar is immense as it rushes past them, spewing its internal gases into the air and into their lungs. The girl shrieks with delight and her grandmother chuckles with the incredible joy of reliving her memories. Memories of the bygone age of petrol fuelled automobiles. The power that is barely contained within its shell is exhilarating.

“To feel alive, you must taste the poison of death,” whispers the grandmother to her transfixed granddaughter.

The girl licks her lips and swallows.

“I taste it,” she says and lies back on the grass to savour the sensation.


Stephen Oram’s near-future fiction has been praised by publications as diverse as The Morning Star and The Financial Times. He is published in several anthologies, has two published novels and two collections of sci-fi shorts. www.stephenoram.net


For detail of how to submit your own flash piece. To our Showcase, please visit the Submissions page. We also now accept short stories for online publication.

Flash Showcase: Houseplants (Love Spores) by Eric Farrell

Kathy Harrison bursts through the Green Lovelies entrance. Cocobolo beads rattle against the glass door. The steely-eyed clerk is dressed head to toe in selvedge denim. She stares Kathy down, inhaling imperceptibly. She knows what’s coming. The woman’s going to start yelling.

“Everyone just stop!” Kathy hollers once fully inside the plant shop’s showroom floor. A few Green Lovelies shoppers freeze in their tracks. The clerk eyes her from beyond the small forest of hanging macramé plants in the middle of the retail space. She’s got everyone’s attention. Part one of her mission successful. Now for part two…

“Citizens of Long Beach, I am warning you as a fellow neighbor, not to buy any of these plants! None of the succulents! None of the pathos! No tropical dwarfs at all! Because you know why?!”

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Flash Showcase: Earthbound Nebula by Ava Kelly

Image Credit: Ava Kelly


When it approached, it was slow. Passive enough to get close, unencumbered by human worry, graceful enough that its scarlet brilliance had exalted awe instead of fear.

I remember Pops, sitting on the back porch in that old squeaky chair, scratching his forehead, saying, “It’s gotta be something else. Aurora my ass, look at it.”

I remember Kiddo blinking at me, a couple of decades later, asking, “Why’s it so pretty, Daddy?” and, “Do you think we can touch it someday?”

I’d answer the same—nothing at all—because any words tasted like ash on my tongue. There had been one action to take, and one action only; even my twelve-year-old self knew. Study the earthbound nebula, comprehend it at all costs.

***

When it hugged the Earth, we didn’t notice, too preoccupied with measurements and suppositions and models. Too close to see. Kiddo used to tell me, when he got tall and broad-shouldered and voice-thick, that it governed my life. It had dragged me through school, through the long hours in the lab, through loss and pain, through stolen tenderness. I sigh, even now, at the memory of his angry frustration.

“We must understand,” I used to say. “Maybe it’s sentient. Maybe it also wants to understand.”

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Flash Showcase: The Memory Within by Aaron E. Lee

“What happened?” Yun asked the two scientists standing in front of her.

“The Memory War was almost fifty years ago now, I think.” Dr. Reyes raised her eyebrow, but Dr. O’Quin neither confirmed nor denied.

Instead, Dr. O’Quin said, “Genetic testing revealed the true form of memory in biology, and while the processing of those memories indeed took place in the brain, they were stored throughout the body in our DNA.” Yun nodded. It was a theory she had heard, but it seemed a confirmation of this would be pretty big news.

“Once we figured out how the body stored and processed this information, people started to get creative with that knowledge. Medication came out to improve memory, restore lost memories, and even to help people forget.” Dr. Reyes started unbuckling the clasps that held Yun down on the table.

Dr. O’Quin proceeded, “The medication was only half of the delivery system. After eight hours the patients had to be exposed to a low dosage of radiation, which triggered the Mnemonic Molecules. The medication was cheap to make. We didn’t go to war over the profits of the Memory industry. We went to war over the memories themselves.”

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Flash Showcase: Acid to the Bone by A.J. Van Belle

Kell wiped red paint from her hand onto a boor-tree-fiber towel and studied her creation. The crimson streaks glowed in the diffuse light from her bedroom window. All one color, an entire tube of alizarin used on one small paint board. The paint’s thickness determined the darkness or lightness. No recognizable figure graced the image, but the strokes suggested movement. An arm flung wide. A tapered back arched in dance. Transition from standing to leaping.

She frowned at her work. It wasn’t good enough.

She went to the window, wishing it were safe to go outside. Beyond the glass, rain dripped from curling fronds. Acidic slime, an oocyte that lived everywhere on this planet, dropped in sloppy masses from the branches of the treelike organisms in Kell’s neighborhood. She let her faint reflection fill her field of view and disappear as she pressed her nose to the cold glass. Her breath made a misty circle. Stories of going outside to play filled her head, tales she’d heard since infancy. All the classic stories came from Earth, the broken place that could only support a few thousand souls now, in cities that shielded their residents from the weather extremes wrought by global warming.

Here, on Kell’s home planet, children didn’t play outside. The oocytes would melt your dermis. The warnings echoed like a hiss, first as the voices of the adults around you and then from the mire of your own brain, never to be erased: The oocytes’ll burn your skin. They’ll eat you to the bone.

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Flash Showcase: The Past and the Future by Abhijatya Singh

Father is setting up the Time Fleeting Belt. After years of effort, he has finally figured out a medium for us to move through in time. He says that I will be able to see everything that has occurred or will occur like a spectator. He is telling me to not test its limit. I should just go back a few days and come back. He is pressing the button to activate the Belt.

I am moving back in time. I can see my father instructing me to not test the belt’s limit. I am going back. I see him celebrating after he realizes what he has made. I am floating through time. I see myself making out with my girlfriend for the first time. I see me, ten years old, trying to look through the door to see what my father does in his lab. I see my mother taking her last breath after giving birth to me. I should return now. I just need to turn the dial from past to present. But my curiosity is getting the better of me.

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Flash Showcase: Suckers by Gavin Jefferson

“If you can sign here, and here,” he said, pointing, “and here, here and here, you’re good to go.”

He perused the contract slowly, reading the words over and over in his mind. “I don’t know.”

“What are you worried about?”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

“Well ….” He shrugged his lips. “You’ll be dead.”

“That’s what I’m worried about,” he sighed.

“If you’d rather not, then I understand. It’s experimental, but revolutionary technology. I admit, we haven’t figured out how to revive the dead yet, but we will.”

“Are you sure? I mean; how close are you to cracking it?”

“Close,” he nodded frantically, “very close.”

“Within weeks, years, what is it?”

The man smiled and pulled the contract from the table. “I can see that this is not for you,” he said, folding the paperwork.

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Flash Showcase: Best Friends Forever by Michelle Ann King

Suelita and I are friends. This is a fact. She tells me so, and I agree with her.

Suelita’s mother is called Ana. ‘That’s nice, dear,’ Ana says, when Suelita tells her we are friends.

‘And I got arrested for murder, and the house is on fire,’ Suelita continues.

Ana carries on tapping at her phone and says, ‘Mm-hmm. That’s nice, dear.’

I am also supposed to agree with Ana, but it is sometimes difficult. Those things, were they to have happened, would not be nice.

Suelita’s father is called Mr Jordan. ‘Don’t be silly,’ he says, when Suelita tells him we are friends. ‘It’s a robot, Sula. A machine. You can’t be friends with a machine.’

Continue reading “Flash Showcase: Best Friends Forever by Michelle Ann King”

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