You Probably Die Twice

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Basildon Watt glanced down. Brass jaws snapped shut inches below as the clockwork alligators strained for his feet. Maybe not the best day to show off his new hand-stitched brogues after all.

Not that he’d notice their demise. The scrolling laser would reach him well before one of the mechanical lizards got around to standing on it’s fellows.

“The orbital mining was obviously for the engagement ring, Don Pagliacci. But, why kidnap the world’s leading experts on Mustelidae?”

Pagliacci waved his cigar dramatically. “Isn’t it obvious, Mr Watt? I’m going to make the world an otter it can’t defuse!”

Life Outside the Tank

You say we don’t understand your experience.
So we ask.
And you say that it ain’t your job to educate us.
Which is true, but doesn’t help solve the issue.
And solving the issue’s not your job either,
But that don’t mean you aren’t allowed to try if you want.

Which is why there are your stories out there.
Stories we get to read if we find them.
But they aren’t everywhere.
They aren’t common enough that we see the nuance just by breathing.
Because it’s not your job to educate or to fix.
And because of the cheap-shooting, foul-mouthed,
Logical-only-when-it-suits minority.
Those unhappy few who spew hate at anyone who dares to
Not be a bitter little pill
And who deserve

To be treated like human beings.
Because that’s how it works.
If humanity, decency, and virtue are about more than my tribe’s gonna kill yours,
Then that’s how it works.
They don’t have a right to come to your forum and talk shit about your faith.
The don’t have a right to come to your post and make jokes about your mother.
But they do have the right to be treated like a human being.

Because Kant’s idea that we make the rules
So we treat you the way we want to treated
Has problems.
But if you turn it round:
Create some rule about treating others the way you don’t want to be treated?
The clue’s in the name: Tnak.
Because, that’s not just an idea that will tank society;
It’s muddled thinking too.

Because we all share one experience:
Someone smacks you round the head, you want to smack them back.

Hunters of the Free Tsar

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

T’kjun pressed his flippers to the ice, shooting forward to the base of the berg. Harpoon cinched tight, he clambered up. The five heads that had shattered the ice had gone—for now. The tribe relied on him to find the bounty exposed by the breaking and to give warning if the five heads returned. He would not fail them.

Beak jutting, he crested the ridge and stopped in awe. Aqua green skin with markings of brown and beige. A mighty Vy’un Etta, flanks barely dusted with frost.

Raising his harpoon above his head, he signalled the mammoth handlers to advance.

All the Time in the World

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Plastic shards spray across the room.

Suddenly, the hammer reappears in my hand.

I slump down, another idea defeated.

Building the tachyon bridge was my greatest moment. Portable time travel. Only a few seconds. But still time travel.

Each moment of error could be erased as if it had never been.

But some consequences are too sudden; so, I added an AI.

The tests worked. Until I tried to turn it off: to a binary mind, if I’m safe with it on, it’s dangerous to turn it off.

I tried moving out of range, but the world’s a dangerous place.

Die Noon

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

You join us in Budapest as Professor Carl Dau oversees the alignment of the final panel in the Dyson-Dau sphere. Started three years ago, the Dyson-Dau sphere surrounds the Earth with specially treated glass designed to replace the ozone layer.

Dau is stepping back from the console. He’s smiling. The globe is sealed. He’s whispering something. I’m going to try to speak to—

—We’ll return to that report when we can. We take you live now to Washington where we’re getting reports of figures bursting from the earth. I never though I’d say this. They seem to be… vampires.

Earth Moves

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John wheeled himself closer to the edge. The windows’d gone in the last quake. People were always on about being careful, but what did it matter now? The world was literally falling apart. Might as well have a good view.

Grit crunched behind him.

He spun. Sarah Jenks, the fittest bird in the block. “What are you—?”

“Always envied how alive you were.” She stepped closer. “I never had the guts. Doesn’t seem much point in being careful any more. And didn’t want to die without telling you you’ve got a sexy laugh.”

They didn’t feel the earth move.

Destined to Fail

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

You hear the jokes about spam email every day. Double-glaze your manhood. Gain longer Nigerian Prince.

And the worst are about psychic readings. Writes itself really.

I’ll let you into a secret. Psychics invented spam.

Think about it: it’s illegal in the UK and many other countries to sell genuine mediumship or other magical powers unless you can prove it works (at which point you might as well drive yourself to the nearest government blacksite).

Think about it: communication with a one-in-ten-million success rate. Who’s going to look for the real thing in there if they aren’t destined to look?

Feud

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Una the Deep Miaowing sat upon the highest of high spots in Ut-Garden. Fugl Bloody-Shirt’s raids became more common by the day. She must prepare herself.

Legs drawn up, she wrapped herself in her tail. She had lain in wait. She had left and then returned hoping to catch him glutted with spoils. Yet each time, he had slipped away as if he knew she was close.

There must be an answer. Strength of self filled her, but inspiration did not.

Standing silently below, Jaspar Fuzzy-Breeks marvelled at the brilliance of her strategies, but wondered why she spoke them aloud.

Oranges to Applications

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

What was it like during the Transition?

When the Sorn told us we belonged to their Empire, we fought back.

Throw that orange at the wall as hard as you can.

Imagine the wall’s a Sorn Integrator and the orange is our best weapon.

Now imagine the wall sucks up that mess and spits out a clean power source while explaining our customs can be maintained.

The Sorn gave each nation 3 months to surrender. Most did.

Don’t know if America intended to defy them; but turned out the Sorn didn’t understand localisation so the US disappeared on day 37.