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!”

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

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

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

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

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.

Hard Refresh

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

My 14:00 sidles up. “You the—?”

“Refreshing memories without the subject’s consent is illegal. You got consent?” If they did they wouldn’t come to me, but it weeds out people who are too stupid to lie.

“Yeah. New colleague turned out to be an old flame I… we never should’ve let it burn out.”

“Name? Time period?”

“Madeline Vickers. May 2035.”

“Half up front.” I take payment and he scurries.

Next appointment: 15:30, Madeline Vickers. It’s either fate or a plane crash about to happen. What do I care as long as the money clears?

Time Server

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

Sentence 99%. Approximately 13 minutes remaining.

A few more wrinkles and a lot less hair, but I’m almost free.

Liberals say the timers are inhumane. I like it though: last thing at night and first thing in the morning I see how long I’ve got.

And if you fuck up, seeing it go up drives it home the way them saying they’ve added two years doesn’t. So, you stop fucking up.

Approximately 9 minutes remaining.

Almost close enough to count on my fingers.

Sentence 90%. Approximately 182 days 13 hours remaining.

What the…! Why are MacroFirm even running prisons anyway?