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Encounters 13 coverMarch 12, 2015
Issue #13 is now available for download. Just right click on the image to the left and select the save-link-as option to download the PDF file.

by M. B. Vujacic
    “Hold on,” Slade said, “you might feel a little bump.” He began releasing the clutch and laying on the gas, and just like that they were pushing eighty, the force of the acceleration pressing them into their seats. Pedestrians scattered every which way and horns blared from all sides as the treasonous bastards in the other cars tried to warn the criminal. Your time will come, assholes, Slade thought, and pressed the big red button next to the wheel.
    There was a clatter like a hundred swords being drawn simultaneously. Then the seventy-five saws, blades, and grinders that comprised the reel cutter at the front of the vehicle sprung to life, spinning and stabbing and slicing fast enough to turn the entire contraption into a silvery blur.

by Chuck Augello
    “I’m feeding his snake until he comes home.  I hate that damn thing—it’s why we don’t live together.  He told me he’d find it a new home before the wedding, but it’s hard because those things live for forty years.  But I still feed it because, you know, I love him.”
     Lindsay started crying, and they ducked under an awning while she blew her nose and rubbed away the mascara trails.  Maggie looked up at the sky, wondering if Darren was up there with the rest of the dead.  They were too far away for her to see faces but she could make out body shapes and clothing: the sharp business suits, the kitchen whites, the heavy protective gear of the first responders.  Lindsay shared a photograph on her cell and Maggie studied Darren’s face.  At home she had a telescope with 300X magnification, a present from her grandfather on their family trip to Yellowstone.  With the scope she could make out individual faces; she would search for Darren in the morning with the sky at its brightest.

by Jacob Lambert
    She reached forward, gripping the two top flaps, and pulled with such force that the clear tape running horizontally across its surface immediately ripped, sending Becky backward. After gaining her balance, she inched forward—looking for some defining human aspect, but there was nothing, not that she could see from four feet away.
    “Max—scan,” Becky said, keeping her distance.
    Max spoke in her ear, tone once again amenable. “I have already executed two more, Congresswoman, and they have both returned negative.”
    She stopped.
    Lying in the center of the box, swaddled in, what Becky assumed was some antique fabric (and not the modern, organic placenta simulator), was a baby—she checked—girl. The child’s gaze fixed on Becky, and the screaming abated. How didn’t I recognize that scream sooner, she thought, staring down at the child’s face. Her little green eyes, with folds of semi-translucent flesh partially swollen around the lids, looked like glass marbles, both of her chubby, reddened cheeks still slick with tears. Becky was speechless, and if Max hadn’t spoken, she might have stayed that way.
    “I’m running another scan, and I should have—” 
    “Wait,” Becky interrupted, “there’s no need.”

by Sean McLachlan
    The house aged and Samuel aged with it. In their middle years came another war. The southern colonies rebelled against the northern. Samuel knew it would happen. The Americans, as the rebel Englishmen liked to call themselves, had always been a quarrelsome lot. It was a good time to disappear, though. Samuel proclaimed he was off to fight for the Union. He went no farther than New York, where he paid another to go in his place, a young Irishman he met in the Bowery. The youth got killed in the Battle of Bull Run on his first day of fighting.
    Three years later Samuel returned, brandishing papers signed by three Federal judges stating Samuel fell in battle, and that he was his nephew, and heir to the house and lands. Money and a family name could do much then.
    So Samuel continued to live. Few knew the man in the old Dutch house, and fewer spoke to him.

by Robert Steele
    George Pickler took a knee at the wreckage site and examined what he saw: two dead bodies, one man, one woman, both slightly burned, a Grayden Mark II skybike partially melted on one side, smashed on the other, shoved deep into a ditch on top of the bodies. He pressed two fingers to feel if the woman had a pulse—nothing. He checked the man—nothing.
    The life meter would tell him everything he needed to know. He took the disc-shaped meter, and with the sharp tip, punctured a small hole into the woman’s torso, and waited ten seconds until it beeped. He looked at the screen at the top of the disc: Jen Kottke. Age 31. Female. Cause of death: blunt force trauma causing heart failure. Time of death: 1800 hours, 23 minutes, and 12.016 seconds.
    He marked the meter, and reset it before puncturing the man’s torso. Alan Sipp. Age 32. Male. Cause of death: smoke inhalation causing suffocation. Time of death: 1800 hours, 23 minutes, and 12.027 seconds.
    “Dead heat,” said George as he looked up at a young officer with a smirk.
    “How close, detective?”
    “Less than a half-second.”

by Anna Sykora
    A breeze stirred the large, five-pointed leaves, and they made a low, hissing sound.  Eva shivered in her snug, grey uniform, hugging herself though the sun felt warm.   Already she missed the din of crowds on Tantalus, the ceaseless swirl of 3-D traffic... 
    All of a sudden she thought she felt hidden eyes watching her, hungry eyes.  How ridiculous--Gaia's only inhabitants were the small band of surveyors at the station.
    “Excuse me,” a syn voice droned and Eva wheeled, reaching for her blaster.  “You must be Surveyor Rosario.”   The helper had steel hydraulic arms, no face (to save on costs).  “I’m sorry I frightened you."   
    “I’m alright.  It’s just so quiet I can hear my heart beating.” 
    “Humans get used to Gaia, or they leave...  I have a message from the clerk you are replacing, Paolo Ganter.”  Nodding, Eva slipped the offered disk into her hip pocket.
    “May I carry your suitcase?  It scans heavy for a clone of your sub-standard height.”
    She snorted.  “I am standard for Tantalus, where heights are strictly enforced.  You may carry my case, but don't expect a tip.”

by John Buentello and Lawrence Buentello
    On a whim, Oren pulled on the reins and quietly stopped the horses. He glanced back at the sleeping boy, who hadn’t stirred, then stared ahead into the darkness. While the insects chattered inquisitively, he reached into his pocket and, with a heavy breath, pulled out the glass eye and held it up to the moonlight. He gazed at the crystal at arm’s length, waiting for some doom to befall him. But no doom came.
    The moonlight shone brightly on the eye’s curvature, reflecting the light coolly. No, this wasn’t an artifact of evil, merely a one-eyed man’s ornament and nothing more. He closed his hand around the crystal, relieved, and also feeling a little foolish. But then, he’d been hearing tales of the supernatural all afternoon, why shouldn’t he have felt uneasy?



Issue #13


Download the two previous issues here:

Issue #12
Encounters 11 cover

Issue #11
Encounters 10 cover