maleo

Avid reader of all sorts and sometime writer of short stories. Main account @[email protected] This blog hosts microfiction based on Fediverse prompts; longer reads over at https://www.wattpad.com/user/maleodk

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Once we’d learned how to collect energy from people's emotions, it was extraordinarily easy to become carbon zero. We just told people controversial things and let their anger power the world.
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#SciFiPrompt: Reactor by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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It’s funny, y’ know. As a writer, I used to say to people that I kept certain things in my work bag because if I ever found my muse on the way to the fill-in-day-job, they’d be right there. Chargers for everything, a stationary collection, MacBook Pro, Kindle, AirPods; if it's useful for doing shit on the move, you name it, it’s in there. Everything except work, as that either on my desk or in the cloud.
So, when I woke up from a nap on the Tube to Baker Street and found I was in 1972, it was very handy that I had all that. Just so I could look at photos of family that hadn’t been born yet and so I could write stories nobody believed about technology they didn’t think could exist yet.
They won’t believe this story either.
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#SciFiPrompt: Time Travel by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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“Get back! Go on, fuck back off to Beepee!”
“I’m not from Beepee, dick’ed, I’m from Tecksaco!”
“Well, this is Shell Island; you ain’t welcome! Get back in your boat and sail away.”
“For fuck’s sake, I only want water!”
“Ain’t got any non-brine. Only got gas and seaweed. Wanna trade?”
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#SciFiPrompt: Shell by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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“So, what attracted you to this role?”
“Well…” Nervousness sweated from his every pore, leaving him soaked and psychologically spiralling. He swallowed a mote of dust, coughed gently, and began. “I’d seen the job advertised, but I hadn’t realised quite how much I wanted to settle down. Y’see, I’m a traveller. I’ve been passing through places for… a long time. I’ve had other roles, of course, but nothing which tied me to one place. I’d just like, for once, to land somewhere comfortable in a job I can get my teeth into. This just seemed right – right place, right job, right time.”
“It’s great to hear that you think we’re right for you. Please, if you’d like to come with us now; we’d like to give you a tour of the facility.”
They stepped out into the light beyond the room; the breeze fanned the air over his moist skin whilst they walked into the desert outside. Minute, in the distance, was an obsidian, ovoid marble. Contrasting the flowing sand and the rippling air, it stood resolute, like a bruise on the body of a banana.
“What is that?” He asked, pointing at it.
“It is the facility,” they replied, “where we complete the job you have committed to undertaking.”
He started sweating again. “I didn’t realise you’d offered me the job yet.”
“Oh, you had been successful the moment you were called to interview. We needed to know that what you were saying was accurate. Now that we’re sure, you can get to work.”
“That’s great. The salary was undisclosed – could I ask…?”
“Of course. The initial salary is average – you will earn 32,000 credits per annum. However, you’ll also be paid in time. For every day you work for us, you will gain five on your lifespan. The facility will take care of that. You will have weekends to live some of your life, but you must otherwise remain at the facility; we will provide you with sustenance and recuperation. This salary and the conditions therein are non-negotiable.”
“What will I have to do for this? The ad said ‘admin’.”
“Do not allow the star to go out.”
“What?”
“You must carefully check the star these planets orbit. You must not allow it to go nova. Others care for other stars; this one is yours. The day it goes nova is the day your employment with us ceases. We will take care of the star on your weekends and during your holidays. Should the star go nova in your absence, we will assign you another star.”
“How do I stop a star from going nova? That sounds impossible.”
“It’s just a case of monitoring and making some adjustments on the equipment we’re going to link you to. You’re from Sol 3 originally, right?”
“Yeah?”
“Bob down in ‘verse C has kept your star going for three billion years so far. He has two billion years left to go before he can retire on full annual salary for the rest of his accrued life. He will, effectively, be immortal and incomprehensibly rich – and, in the meantime, has cultivated at least four sentient species in your solar system, purely by co-ordinating the star your system orbits. You do this job well, and you could be solely responsible for the birth of dozens of civilisations.”
“Wow – um…”
“You have a question?”
“Yeah. Where do I sign?”
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#SciFiPrompt: Solar Panel by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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The tear had grown to the size of Jupiter. Initially, it had been a warptunnel entrance, the faster-than-light channels through which we’d been able to discover the rest of our little corner of the galaxy. It had all changed when, unexpectedly, a ship carrying a million tonnes of a new radioactive element discovered on the edge of our explorations had exploded entering the warptunnel; the entrance collapsed, taking the entire warptunnel network with it; we’d been stranded wherever we were, doomed to ion pulse speeds, centuries from homes like spiders delivered across continents in fruit boxes.
All the other entrances had closed, their opening technologies rendered redundant satellites orbiting now excommunicated planets. This one, the point of the explosion, had – instead – folded in upon itself, then expanded dramatically outwards.
Beyond the tear was… chaos. Purple energy pulsated between the legs of cosmic creatures prevented from entering our space purely because of their size; we stationed all legions in this sector by what we’d come to call the Mouth of Hell, to prevent anything coming through.
It was only a matter of time, though, before it reached a size that those leviathans could step through and consume us.
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#SciFiPrompt: FTL by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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Ł4. That’s all they wanted for it. Seemed a great deal, at the time; all that information for less than a couple of month’s pay. I figured I could pick up a job or two on the side to make up the difference. I figured that, surely, it would be worth four or five times that in a few years time. Shit, the duplication value alone was more than a handful of Lite.
So, obviously, I took a punt. Checked the provenance, threw down the Ł and pulled down the tar. Decrypted it using the password the agent had given me, the files falling, like bright raindrops one by one, into the folder I set up for them.
That’s when I noticed something wasn’t fucking right.
The filenames were… odd. I was expecting the usual fare – “AiAdrian21030519.dna”, you know – but these were appended with .edna. I opened one in a visualiser and it couldn’t read it, its error message violently screaming at the screen.
Even more confusing was when I tried opening it in a text editor instead, to be confronted by a config line which called for a visualiser which could read a ‘triple helix’.
What the fuck had I been sold?
Blue lights flashed from the peaks of obsidian SUVs, casting the shadows of the slats of my bedroom blinds across the grey wall, mere minutes later.
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#SciFiPrompt: Data by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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“We got that DNA file you sent us and we’ve run one through the printer; it’s come out looking a little janky.”
“What do you mean ‘janky’, Bob? I know you coders are fucking left-field, but that could mean anything – I just need to know what the fuck is wrong and will it stop us from printing living shit.”
“You’ll have to tell me, dude. Like… it’s not normal. It looks like a mouse, it moves like a mouse – but it ain’t quite a mouse. Dunno if you’re gonna be able to flog these to labs.”
“What – and, let me be perfectly clear, I need specifics here – makes it ‘not quite a mouse’?”
“Well, for a start, it’s got four fucking eyes, Frank.”
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#SciFiPrompt: DNA by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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We sent the good ones first. They were, entirely predictably, the perfect choice; trained before launch, they reliably went out for long walks (twice daily), were broadly content as long as the AI remembered to pitch out a treat, and always responded happily to the voice of Earth Control. Once we’d ascertained that they were able to survive – and, thankfully, had been able to prove the atmosphere for continued breathability – we put together a human mission.
By the time we arrived, however, they’d had two litters, making them the moon’s most prolific species.
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#SciFiPrompt 67: Moon Rover by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0


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Nanna used to take my little brother and I to the starport every month. We weren’t going on holiday anywhere – that was reserved for a cheap, terrestrial flight to a nice, hot country with a golden, sandy beach – but we loved to watch the ionwings taking off.
We used to take a little picnic basket – sandwiches with the crusts cut off, mork pie, carrot and celery sticks, little bottles of colourful soft drinks from the local corner shop – and we’d sit on her favourite woven blanket, brought with us for the occasion, multicolour scraps of other fabrics tied together into something useful, in the thistle-bordered glade by the perimeter fence, and watch as those lucky (or rich) enough to head to other planets departed, on trails of pulsing blue light, to Mars or Centauri or Vega or any number of other geoformed worlds.
She would pass a plate of provisions over, then conjure stories of those on the ships: “The businesswomen on that one are off to Mars; they all work for Iroco, mining for water and iron,” or “There’s a secret agent on that ship, a spy trying to find a lady who has stolen the designs for a new ion engine,” or “A little boy on that ship is off to find his long lost family on Aurora; they went before him but then went bankrupt and he has had to stowaway to get there.”
We, my little brother and I, would sit, chewing, and playfully add to the fantasy. “One of the businesswomen is going to find green jewels in the mine and become so rich she can buy the company and live in a huge mansion on Io.” These dreams, of people we wished we were, came and went like the ships leaving and returning, until the light faded and, reluctantly, the woven blanket was folded away for the journey home.
Eventually, inevitably, inexorably, the time came for the blanket to be folded and stored for the final time. Older, my brother (who is no longer so little as much as still younger) and I returned to the glade and dreamed once more. “Perhaps she’s on that ship, a stowaway, going to Europa for a long swim in the topaz sea.”
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#SciFiPrompt 62: Terminal by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

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“Let’s just get the ferry.”
“No, that costs a fortune. We’ll just take the kayaks.”
“That’ll take ages and we’ll be knackered by the time we get there.”
“We can stop off at the services, though, get a tea and some honeywafers.”
“Still, it’ll be at least four hours of hard rowing before we get to the services; the ferry will have us all the way to the city centre in two.”
“Babe, we don’t have the money for the ferry. Have you seen what they’ve put the prices up to? ‘Unprecedented inflation’ they’re calling it on the news, a ‘cost of living crisis’.”
“I know, I saw it myself. Something about the Warming, and the cost of energy going up again.”
“That’s what I’m saying, the ferries have doubled in price.”
“Yeah, but… can we at least take the solar packs and use the electric drivers? We can rope the kayaks together then, it’ll be half the work.”
“Fine. But you’ll have to take fewer bags.”
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#SciFiPrompt 56: Aquatic by Dav Kelly is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0