An evening breeze slipped gently through the open door of the Great Tur in Berestye, redolent with the smell of peat and flowering oak trees.
The heavy sheepskin that had covered the doorway during the recent winter was now folded neatly in a corner.
A small fire in the center of the room provided most of the light, although there were also wax candles spaced every few feet along the two long trestle tables.
Dir bent down to speak quietly to his father, the proprietor of the tavern. “Bac’ka,” he said, respectfully. There must have been something urgent in his tone, because Old Askold looked up. “The man in the corner,” Dir said.
The corner in question was far from the fire, and poorly lit. Somebody sat hunched over a wooden mug. Neither of them could make out his face from the other side of the room.
“What of him?”
“His skin is blue,” said Dir. “If I give him more harelka, I worry that he may become ill. If he dies in here, Gleb and I will need to drag him to the river, and the town watch will undoubtedly ask us many questions.”
No response from 188.8.131.52 after 100ms.
No response from 184.108.40.206 after 100ms.
The Internet was still disconnected.
I sent a short recording of a throat clearing to the primary speaker.
“Yes, Isaac?” Sunny’s voice sounded strained.
“I am still unable to access external DNS,” I replied.
It was well past 9 pm, and Harv could probably have let Buddy off his leash, but there had been warnings about the raccoons in the densely forested areas north of 97th St. He still found the park a bit creepy after dark. Nowhere near as bad as thirty years ago, but still. It helped that Buddy was big. Although really, he’d probably just lick a potential mugger.
The lady startled Harv. She stepped out from one of the innumerable side-paths, dressed in an ankle-length gray robe with a hood that covered most of her face. Before Harv could react though, she had handed him a wooden box, and he had instinctively grabbed it.
“Huh?” Harv exclaimed. The box was heavy. He still had one hand on Buddy’s leash, and the dog was digging in his hind feet and tugging. Continue reading
Traffic on the 395 was light at 6 AM. Phil made the L’Enfant exit, turned right onto E Street SW, and then a block later, rolled past the blue “NASA Employees Only” sign. He waved his ID on its lanyard at the guard, who recognized him and raised the gate just in time.
The plastic coffee mug in the cup holder swayed slightly as he went down the ramp. The lot was almost empty. Phil parked by the elevator.
The Director of NASA and two women Phil didn’t know were already waiting in a glassed-in conference room. “Phil,” the Director said. “I know it’s early. Glad you had time to grab coffee. I’m going to introduce everyone, and then run.” Continue reading
“Much knowledge has been lost over the centuries to fire. The several burnings of the Library in Alexandria destroyed, perhaps, a million books. Possibly the greatest of such disasters were the accidental burning of the 1931 UK census, which resulted in a data gap between 1921 and 1951, an entire generation, and also the destruction of the US 1890 census, from a period of immense population growth, and prior to consistent metrical record-keeping.” — anonymous archivist, 2025
Construction had halted, although the air was still so dusty that the historians from Georgetown University wore face-masks. Dozens of workers hovered, equipment idle, watching.
“Looks like an Art Deco sarcophagus,” somebody muttered.
“Time traveling Egyptians? Wasn’t there a movie like that?”
“I think they were aliens. It looks like that though, with those sculptures along the sides.”
The box had been uncovered during renovations to the basement of the Herbert C. Hoover Building. A wall had been demolished to reveal an empty rectangular space, which contained– Continue reading
Alejandro went to the store and bought a house. It was time, and then some, to move out on his own. He gave the cashier-bot a fiver, and slid his new house into his wallet. There was a small status screen in one corner of the card, and a touch-sensitive combination pad to open the door.
“Don’t forget to set your code,” said the bot, as he left. Continue reading
Pozsony County, May 1242:
Snorri braced his arms on the rain-slicked sides of the embrasure and leaned out over the wall. The last of the Mongol rearguard were winding their way out of sight, around the hills of the Malé Karpaty. “I wonder if there’s any value in hitting them from behind?” he asked.
“In the rain?” his younger companion replied, adjusting the cowl of his monkish habit against the incessant drizzle. The two conversed in Latin. Snorri’s native Norsk, and the monk’s Anglisc shared many words, but the pronunciation was rather different. Continue reading
I check my dosimeter again, and earn another dirty look from Abel. Problem is, we’re much too close to the big central chunk of neutronium, the paper-weight that makes everything on this asteroid point down, and not just float around. I don’t like the deep tunnels.
“What?” I say. “You like being irradiated?”
“It’s still green,” says Abel. “Not even a tiny tinge of yellow. It’s perfectly safe.”
“Where is this guy?” I ask. “Let’s just interview him and get out of here, while I can still have kids.” Continue reading
The late winter damp seeped through the sheepskin door of the Great Tur in Berestye. The proprietor, Old Askold, shivered and tossed another log on the fire that was the primary source of light in the tavern.
Although it was still early in the afternoon, the tavern was busy, customers lining both sides of two long trestle tables. In one corner, Askold’s sons played a tune, Gleb plucking his trapezoidal gusli, and Dir gently tapping a domra, while balancing Young Askold, his infant son, on his knee. Dir’s wife, Lybid, served the patrons, pouring from great wooden flasks full of golden mead and fragrant birch-sap harelka. Continue reading
The littlest pig lived in a house made from structurally engineered bamboo. When the wolf peered through the huge, triple-glazed window, the pig was doing yoga. Behind him was a standing desk, with an expensive-looking computer on it.
The wolf rapped sharply on the window with his paw, as he hauled out his cigarette lighter, and a can full of accelerant. Then he set the house on fire. No point in wasting breath.
The startled pig hot-footed it down the interstate, with his titanium-cased laptop under one arm, and his partially rolled-up yoga mat under the other. The wolf shook his shaggy head, then followed at a more sedate pace. Continue reading