Spaced Out

Copyright 2010 by Carl Garrett

Xerathol. Fourth-generation neuroperformance enhancer. Heavy stuff, sir. But you know that.

Increases the activity of the left brain. Complex calculations. Numbers. Formulas. Makes the subject detail-oriented. Pragmatic. But you know that.

Two point one five billion rivets, eighty-three point three six thousand miles of light-op cable in this Leviathan-class starship. Twenty-one point three days behind schedule. Two hundred milligrams per day. Fifty point two percent higher than the recommended daily dose for a man of my height and weight. But you know that.

Fifteen seconds a human being can be exposed, unprotected, in space, before losing consciousness. One point one two five minutes more before paralysis, convulsions, circulatory shutdown, vaporization of the water in the cells and the bursting of the tissues. Two point two six minutes - a calculated average, you understand - before death.

Eleven seconds before your airlock door opens, sir.

But you know that.


Late to Rise

Copyright 2010 by Carl Garrett

When Patience Randolph awoke to find herself back in the oak four-poster from which she had disappeared a hundred years before, she did not shout or dance or weep with joy, for she had learned, over time, the value of restraint. She sat up, breathed deeply the air of liberty, and looked with pity upon the ancient wedding portrait that hung on the wall to the left. The groom cast a black-eyed smile. The bride’s expression was blank, but Patience knew to look in the eyes, saw the blazing terror and confusion that shone in them.

“He will be very cruel to you” she explained to her deliverer, “But as you can see, some day he will find another who strikes his fancy more, and you will be free. Do your best to take comfort from that.” And Patience went out to see how the world had changed.


Company Policy

Copyright 2010 by Carl Garrett

Gerald Beckwith's scowl was legendary among his underlings at HealthChoice, but the scruffy, sorrowful man on his computer screen could not see it, and was therefore immune. "I see you've logged on, Mister Beckwith," the man said, his voice a dreary whisper. "I guess we can start, now."

"If this is a joke," Beckwith snarled to his trembling VP of Operations, "I swear to God I'll personally sign your final check. Who is this piece of shit?"

"M-Martin Westover, sir. He was employed by Techflow. A m-minor client. Fifty employees. Lost his daughter to cancer last year. After we canceled Techflow's contract. Due to her expenses." The wispy wreck that was Martin Westover backed away from the camera, but the concrete-walled room he occupied revealed nothing. "Again, I'm sorry to disturb you, sir, but h-he's tied up our entire network with this, said he wouldn't stop until you logged on. We can't shut him down. He's... very good."

Westover pressed a button, and the image began to pan left. "I know you don't understand, Mister Beckwith. I know you can't. You don't know what it's like to see your child die..." Beckwith boiled. This hacker, this dirtbag, had no idea what he was in for. "You've got no idea... to see her die, little by little, bit by bit..." And when the camera finished panning, when Gerald Beckwith saw the table, saw the small, terrified form strapped to it, saw the gleaming, sinister implements in the tray beside it, his scowl fell to pieces, and the rest of him with it.

"Madeline," he stammered. "Maddy. MADDY!"

"You don't know," Westover said, tears pouring out of his mad eyes as he reached for the tray, "But you will."


Life Sentence

Copyright 2010 by Carl Garrett

Ed was not sentimental; he'd married Emily for her money and murdered her for the same. He produced his well-prepared alibi, smirked behind the backs of the departing officers. But when Emily's brother, Rick, stormed in, his voice a-tremble with rage as he hissed, You won't see a penny of her money. You'll spend the rest of your life in prison, Ed laughed the silly bore out of the house and into the night. He chuckled to himself about the incident until the attack came in the dark, the well-aimed blow to his spine just above the shoulder blades, the sickening crack, and then nothing.

Later, as he lay in his specially-designed bed, gazed upon his now-useless limbs, felt the hissing/muttering clamor of machinery and caregivers that would surely consume every cent of Emily's money, he realized that Rick had kept his word.


Nothing Left to Give

Copyright 2010 By Carl Garrett

Sandra tried to hide her distaste at her latest case. The teenage girl sitting across from her was skeletal except for the round bulge of pregnancy, a drug-ravaged wreck of humanity. Sandra had long ago discarded the idealism that first led her to take this job, now was glad for the barrier that her desk created between herself and the girl’s dirt and despair.

“So,” continued the girl in a blank monotone, “This new baby can’t get me no more help.”

Sandra couldn't help the stab of satisfaction she felt as she replied, “I’m sorry, that’s correct. Your assistance qualifications don’t cover a sixth child.”

“Well, then,” the girl replied, a darkness in her voice that Sandra should have recognized, “I guess there ain’t no point.”

Sandra’s reflexes were quick, but the girl’s were too as she raised the blade above her belly, and the desk was between them.


Mother's day

Copyright 2009 by Carl Garrett

“I know I owe you a great debt, Mother,” said Lewis, unmindful of the chaos around him. “Most parents would have left it at putting headphones on their belly and playing Mozart. Not you. Special drugs for advanced musculo-skeletal growth. Electrode implants to speed the development of the neural cortex. I am what I am today because of you. I hope you don't think me ungrateful.”

Mother smiled in reply.

Lewis blinked in the brightness of a new world, shivered in the sterile hospital chill. He gazed at the bloody, ravaged body that he had so recently torn his way out of. He smiled back at her, but for different reasons.