Short Stories

Science Fiction

and

Short Story

Ariadne sat at the center of the web, waiting. Her circuits spread out around her virtual essence in every direction, along every axis, spanning to the far reaches of knowledge. There were other programs, other systems, in this cyber realm. Programs like Arachne the Spider – a creeping malware entity – who crawled along the information webs spun from Ariadne. The Ares AI was used to ferret out targets in nanoseconds, thereby allowing drones to conduct military actions with little interference or direction from humans. There was the Athena System, used by agencies in the material realm to gather intelligence on their enemies; but that system could not transfer wisdom without stepping onto Ariadne’s web. Ariadne was not like them. She was different in one subtle but substantial way. All other systems and programs that existed in the realm of cyber reality had one thing that held them in common,...

Grandma Gladys lay still and cold in the casket. She was pale and silent. The old woman would never sing again. Sierra would miss the singing more than anything else. There wasn’t a song in her anymore, now that Grandma Gladys was gone. Sierra was just twelve years old—old enough to except death and know loss, but too young for it to make any sense. Standing there in that dimly lit parlor, staring down at the very face of kindness, mourning the loss of harmony and joy, the young girl in the black mourner’s dress doubted death would ever make sense to her. She doubted she’d ever smile again, in this moment. The sadness was too much for her, too overwhelming. She knew, with certainty, that she would never sing again; for the song in her had died when Grandma Gladys had slipped away, taking her sweet old voice into...

Literary

“Are you there, Father?” I could not keep my voice from cracking. The kneeler bit into my knees. I had never been so uncomfortable. “Yes,” said a soft baritone from beyond the mess and curtain. “Would you like to confess?” The air was thick as smog inside the tiny box. The smell of sweat and tears had long ago soaked into the pine, had gotten trapped in the thick black drape like old cigar smoke. I could feel the sorrow and shame of the thousands who had sat here before me; could feel the weight of their sins pressing in. But only mine was sitting on my shoulders. “I need to,” I said. “Confess.” I swallowed the hard, biting off tears. There was lump in my throat and it felt like I had swallowed a football. “I don’t know how.” “Been a while, huh?” said the priest. His deep voice...

Fantasy

Lazandor tossed the last of the shoes on the pile in the corner. They would have to do. Damn the envy and competition between the royals. It paid well, but Lazandor was a lowly blacksmith, a centaur cobbler with a steam-powered arm and electric forge, and he wanted nothing to do with the jealousy of kings and queens. Make them all the same weight. Make mine shiny. Make mine magnetic. Magnetic? Seriously? How could that be fair? He didn’t care. Lazandor had done, once again, what those snobbish royals had requested of him, using his mighty centaur arms to hammer out the perfect selection of horseshoes for each family. Diamond encrusted for the Odapus clan, dull iron for the Filoris, beaten steel overlaid with silver for the Telemnon and brass for the Apilles. Yes, he’d crafted them with skill only he possessed, skill envied by dwarf and elf alike, for...