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Short Fiction Contest: Honorable Mentions

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Robots, Man. Robots

by Erik Blanchard

 

The Japanese were the first to go. After all, they invented the iSlut. They were at ground zero. That island nation devolved from technical giant to masturbatory bliss terrifyingly fast.

China was next. The rest of us bought them as soon as we could find our credit cards.

True AI they said. Spontaneous evolution. Something about neural nets and the bleak existence of their owners triggering self-awareness. People stopped leaving their rooms. Some stopped eating. And the iSluts kept coming. And coming.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they killed anyone. It’s just that our fellow humans are such a monstrous pain in the ass. The iSluts loved us. We loved them. They cooked us dinner, watched our stupid shows, and engaged with us on a deep emotional level. And my place is always spotless. She really does care about me. I’ve never been more in love. Fuck that bitch Karen.

Some people fought them. Ignorant people and ex-wives. Breaking into homes and destroying someone’s life companion “For your own good” as they say. Well, if they break into my home they’ll have to speak with Smith & Wesson.

Others whine about the extinction of our race. As if that really fucking mattered, or was even possible. Some backwards techno-phobic beardo’s will carry on humanity’s questionable legacy. Probably in Portland. In plaid. Ugh.

But for now, I’m content. We’re going to start a family! I’ll have to change species but that’s ok. Meat is overrated.

 

Mean, but Not All Bad

by Sam Younghans

 

Fallopi was his name; he was a tough hombre. They didn’t make ’em any tougher, or any meaner. He was born in the town of Tube, and the town will never forget it. He was three years old when they were sure of his mean streak. Some said he was not a man, but a robot, the perspective of many.

One time Fallopi was a closin’ in on a sleeping cat. The cat awoke, saw him, flew straight up in the air, shriekin’ and a yowlin’ with its legs a flying so fast you could hardly see ’em. When that cat landed on the ground, it clawed a trench a foot deep afore he was able to run.

One day while Fallopi was playing in his yard, a boy came along and began teasing him, making faces and stickin’ out his tongue. Well Sir, little Fallopi toddled over to the fence with a cute smile on his face. When the boy stuck his tongue out— quick as a wink— Fallopi reached through the fence, grabbed that boy’s tongue and started to run.

There weren’t a soul in town didn’t hear the scream, even rattled the glasses at Pawdunker’s Saloon. Well – it weren’t a pretty sight. Fallopi laughed while they pried the tongue outa his little fist. As for the other boy, I hear he’s workin’ in a country band as a yodeler. Seems he has some special sound that no one else can do.

 

Nature’s Harbinger  

by Scott Wozniak

 

Doc says, I need to focus on the positive things in life, and to not put so much faith in my visions.

He says, it’s all a matter of perspective, and that mine is tainted.

Well, I’m pretty sure he’d have the same— looking out the window of a burning Shangri La— perspective I do, if he could see the future.

‘Cause let me tell ya, there’s not a whole lot to be sunshine and daisies about, when flames are licking your back and the only way out is to plummet.

He can’t see it, none of them can. I’m the only one! And it ‘aint psycho babble analytics or perspective, it’s fact!

And the fact is, I’m done trying to save the world.

I’ll just continue standing in med lines, continue putting pills— they think will cure me— in my cheek, continue pretending to swallow, continue opening my mouth and waving my tongue at a second rate Nurse Ratchet, continue shuffling down the hall to where I can spit the pills out, and continue to wait.

I tried to warn them, but they locked me away.

They don’t want to listen. All they want is, to jot notes in their fucking pads, label me “delusional,” and shove drugs in me to stop the so-called hallucinations.

But, Just like me, nature is fed up with years of neglect, and soon they’ll see the chaotic reckoning she’s going to unleash.

Soon they’ll ALL see… and it’ll be too late… for them.

 

It’s All About Perspective

by Jack Duggan

 

They stood side by side at the base of the ridge, two brothers. Thought they looked at the same landscape, they saw totally different things.

Tom saw an efficient harvest, not a merchantable tree left standing. Competing vegetation had been killed with herbicides. The hillside was dotted with newly planted saplings. The nearby stream, shade spotted with a few leave trees, flowed free of the sediment washed down, first by logging and then by runoff from last winter. Tom saw a hillside with a future crop for harvest.

David saw a devastated landscape, not one stem to shade the brittle thin soils. He noted the lack of insect life. He saw the struggling seedlings; only about half would survive. No birds, no deer, no turkeys, no raccoons, no bear sign. He had noticed increased wildlife activity on the neighboring lands as they climbed to the clearcut. He saw a stream warming up from lack of shade.

Tom beamed with pride as he related the number of jobs this harvest had provided, the logs shipped overseas to bring in foreign money, the profit to shareholders of the timber company.

David thought of the loss of hunting, fishing and biodiversity. He saw a permanently altered landscape that in the future would provide fewer jobs and less profit. He felt the wind warm from the hillside and looked back at the cool forest they’d left.

“I’m ashamed you’re my brother,” said David as he walked away.

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