Our special first anniversary issue!

Issue 25 July 01, 2007

Table of Contents

Ray Gun Revival
Overlords (Founders / Editors): Johne Cook, L. S. King, Paul Christian Glenn Venerable Staff: A.M. Stickel - Managing Copyeditor Shannon McNear - Lord High Advisor, grammar consultant, listening ear/sanity saver for Overlord Lee Paul Christian Glenn - PR, sounding board, strong right hand L. S. King - Lord High Editor, proofreader, beloved nag, muse, webmistress Johne Cook - art wrangler, desktop publishing, chief cook and bottle washer Slushmasters (Submissions Editors): Scott M. Sandridge John M. Whalen David Wilhelms Shari L. Armstrong Jack Willard Serial Authors: Sean T. M. Stiennon John M. Whalen Lee S. King Paul Christian Glenn Johne Cook Cover Art: “Proelium” by Eduardo Lopez Mustaros Without Whom... Bill Snodgrass, site host, Web-Net Solutions, admin, webmaster, database admin, mentor, confidante, liaison – Double-edged Publishing Special Thanks: Ray Gun Revival logo design by Hatchbox Creative Visit us online at http://raygunrevival.com All content copyright 2007 by Double-edged Publishing, a Memphis, Tennessee-based non-profit publisher.

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Ray Gun Revival - Table of Contents Overlords’ Lair Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’ Featured Artist Eduardo Lopez Mustaros Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston Deuces Wild - Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King The RGR Space Monkey Flash Fiction Challenge

Rev: 20070701b

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

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Overlords’ Lair
to was turn the key. down the road, elcome to our I thought it too I thought there remains open. magazine! It’s been wonderful, our virtual WRevivalamazingfirst anniversarya atI Ray Gun somewherespaceship always the virtual door of we had waydosoundedwork.easy. But I was afraid. was no it could terrifying, first year, and wonder where the time went. Another oddity was the art. Looking back after our first year, our quality cover art has been the And the thing was, I knew exactly what I wanted. There were many times when I wondered if greatest hallmark of RGR, but it almost didn’t I’d spent a lot of time dreaming and surfing over at deviantART.com, and had found the perfect we’d make it to the starting line, much less the happen. space opera cover. You know the one first anniversary. I’m referring to, Grand Space Opera The stories I could tell about everything Entry, by Sidharth Chaturvedi. that has happened in the lives of the This image was the prototype for the Overlords and staff behind the scenes. cover—this was the one we dreamed of We’ve had the weirdest run of, well, life. using from very early on. I didn’t figure Lost loved-ones, lost jobs, lost computers, we could get it, but it was the yardstick lost opportunities, lost sleep. that all other covers were measured For instance, did you know we had against. a fourth Overlord? When Overlord I’m a goof. I put off the inevitable X came onboard in the early going, rejection until the 11th hour. The hour (their) inclusion in the staff gave us the was getting late and we were without a shot in the arm that we needed at a cover, and I was entirely at fault. It was critical time. Overlord X was absolutely shaping up to be an a disaster of my indispensable to the early development own making. I noticed the artist had of RGR and brought so much to the some instant messenger accounts, so I table, from brainstorming, to creative finally worked up the courage to send energy, to site elements that we still use. him an IM. However, life infringed on our friend and Overlord X stepped back into the No one was more shadows as suddenly as (they) appeared, We were less than a week away from our debut me when the artist replied astonished than and—wonder of but not without leaving behind an indelible on July 1st, 2006, and we still didn’t have art. wonders—seemed open to the idea. impression that continues to shape RGR use A fellow editor and friend, Jeremy Whitted to this day. You know who you are. We can’t of Deep Magic, had given us the keys to the I confess, I don’t remember much of the next thank you enough, and if circumstances permit kingdom, the secret of finding great art, and all day or two, but the overriding impression was

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Overlords' Lair
that Sidharth was not only a great digital artist, he was very cool and played along even if he had nothing to go on other than my rambling fanboy descriptions. I have no idea what he thought about everything, but he cheerfully went along with it, and is probably as responsible for the ultimate success of the magazine as any one person. The impact of his professional cover for our debut cannot be overstated. And how about this year’s anniversary cover? Eduardo Lopez Mustaros provided a new instant classic. I love it, and it seems to capture the quality and wonder of our debut cover a year ago. I could go on and on. We nearly didn’t make our deadline at least half a dozen times. But each time, Paul and Lee and yours truly would get back together online and ask ourselves if we really believed in this venture, and we always did. And we still do. And you, the readers, have believed, as well. You were always here, more and more of you each issue, and we appreciate it. So that’s the beginning. What about the end? How long will Ray Gun Revival magazine stick around? Part of me hopes we’ll be here forever—or four years, whichever comes first, heh. Honestly, much depends on how the finances shake out this coming year. Our hosting partnership is with Double-edged Publishing, and they are looking for donations for fiscal 2008. Frankly, the incoming donations aren’t keeping up with our collective ambitions. Ray Gun Revival magazine We’ve added two new publications to the DEP family, and all of the publications want to pay more. It’s a dilemma. Here at RGR, we’ve tossed around the idea of targeted advertising, and we’re open to see where that might go. If you know of somebody in the biz, let’s hook up and talk it over. We believe strongly in the digital

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that we keep you in mind as we think about the best way to keep running this runaway rocketship. The idea of putting together a best-of retrospective for our first year is simmering and we may have something on that soon. We’re also strongly committed to putting out POD issues of the various RGR serial novels as they wrap up—although I have no specific idea when that will be exactly. Oh, yeah, about the different orientation. I thought it would be fun to try something different this year. Instead of fighting with legacy print holdovers, I’m jumping feet-first into a new way of developing the magazine. My reasoning was simple—this is an e-zine, and monitors are landscape, and most of our artwork is in the landscape orientation. And the cool thing is that you can still print it as 8 1/2 by 11. publishing revolution. And we’re trendy, too. We’re an entirely green publication. No trees were harmed in the making of this magazine! Some electrons may be have been excited, but I have reason to suspect that they rather like it. They say the only constant is change. There is a decent chance that we may have to consider making a change of some unspecified sort at our next anniversary. If we do, rest assured And this decision rests fully with me. The other Overlords have their respective cups more than full with the normal stuff of life. I prefer to think of this as “a bold design move” on behalf of the magazine and our readers. However, if you prefer to interpret it as Captain ADD here needing something new to experiment with, well, you could make a strong case for that, too. ; ) Speaking of our staff, RGR exists because of the tireless labor of a crack volunteer staff. The slushmasters have the thankless job of Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Overlords' Lair wading through the slushpile. Our Managing Copyeditor, Anne M. Stickel, is one of the best in the business, and if the magazine has nits or errors, it’s my fault, not hers. And the Overlords themselves have been the picture of ‘over and above the call of duty.’ Paul has been deluged with so much life, it’s a wonder he’s still alive, much less contributing, and yet he does on a daily basis. If it seems he’s not around much, Lee and I depend on his insight and his candor and his creativity. Paul, buddy, you’re the best, and I hope you can one day relax a little and relish what you’ve helped build here. And then there’s Lee. I’ve never met a person who has done so much and feels so guilty about what she’s not doing. She has continued to lift icky jobs from me, performing them with grace and panache. She is the unsung hero of the magazine, from stem to stern, doing whatever it takes to get the magazine published. When I need a graphic, she comes up with one. When we need a blurb or modified code on the site or a sanity check on text, she’s our gal. She writes, she edits, she creates art, and she codes. And above it all, she’s smart and funny and self-deprecating. Lee, you make RGR go. So what is the state of space opera? One of our goals was to ‘reinvigorate space opera.’ Ironically, I recently picked up a copy of The New Space Opera edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan. In the preface editorial, they suggest we are in the midst of a new golden age of space opera. My mail tells me otherwise—’space opera sounds like opera in space’—but a resurgence of space opera is certainly welcome. The book quotes Brian Aldiss from 1974: “Science fiction is for real, space opera is for fun.” Here we are, July 1, 2007, and that’s just as true today as it was thirty years ago. Perhaps what we do here today will help make that sentiment just as true thirty years from now. Johne Cook Breezeway, WI July 1st, 2007

Pg. 5 Traveling with the Archetypes by Calie Voorhis Bob presents his biggest show ever. But what  happens when his characters rebel?
Bob was distracted by a tap on his shoulder in the real world. He blinked out. “Tracy,” he said. “I’m so glad to see you.” He rubbed his hands on his pants and held out his hand. Tracy didn’t respond to his gesture. “I’m only doing this because I owe you one,” she said. “One night. What play are you going to do?” “Oh, you know,” Bob said. “Something to keep the audience entertained.” “You’re going to do that play, aren’t you?” Bob shrugged and hoped she wouldn’t press the issue further. He didn’t really have a choice. He’d purchased the archetypes long before the play had been banned. “If an imperialist catches you, you’ll be banished further than the slums,” she said. “You know Emperor Constantin has forbidden that play. You’ll be lucky to keep your head.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Overlords' Lair The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’ Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston Deuces Wild: “Full Circle” by L. S. King

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Exile.  It  means  you  are  no  longer  a  part  of  Roger Madock is a typical newspaper reporter, Slap, Tristan, and Carter escape the planet the human race, rejected and cast out— until he discovers his published words can alter Eridani, but can Slap escape the nightmare of  plummeting through space at some unthinkable reality. his captivity? speed alone with yourself. Or are you?
“You can die slow,” Bonner, the med tech, had told me, with his thin-lipped grimace of a smile. “A lifetime if you want it. Or you can die faster. The sentence is the same, you know.” He seemed to be having a good time. I told him what he could do with his sentence. I elaborated some on his own personal habits and those of his immediate ancestors. Later, he forgot to provide pain medication for my shoulder. Things were rough those first few days. So, I sat. And the food quit coming out of the servounit. It didn’t matter. I had a fever at the time, and my shoulder hurt, and I wasn’t hungry. Besides, I didn’t really believe they would kill me. Then, the water stopped too. When the air got musty—or was it my imagination?—and I had a headache and found myself yawning when I wasn’t sleepy, I gave in. So I’m spineless. Everybody has some really heavy thing they fear, and this was mine. “Something weird is happening. The boss asked me to check on the cop who had been shot, but I could’ve sworn...” Roger looked up, into her eyes. “You don’t remember?” “Remember what?” Dorothy asked. “We saw it on the TV at the coffee shop,” Roger said. “The cop, he died at the hospital.” Dorothy screwed her face up. “I remember seeing the story on the TV, but I thought they said he was still alive.” Roger called the hospital again. “How may I help you, Mr. Madock?” the doctor asked. “Hello, Doctor,” Roger said, trying to sound polite and not frazzled. “I’m calling to check on Officer Brown. He’s still in your care, isn’t he? “Oh yes,” the doctor said. “He’s coming along quite fine, really. It’s something of a miracle. We didn’t expect him to make it through the night.” Tristan sighed and checked the instruments one last time. He hit the comm. “Are you in the cargo bay, Slap?”

“Yeah,” came the cowboy’s voice after a moment. “We’re ready. Take it easy. He’s flighty.” By all means, I must consider the sensibilities of a horse. Tristan took a deep breath and lifted off. Blips appeared on his screen. “Carter, we have company.” “What are they? Shuttles?” “Interceptors. Looks like Boomerangs.” “Whoops. How close are we to the core?” “Close.” “Then go for it. If they’re carrying torpedoes, our turrets should take care of them.” “I know that. But if they have missiles loaded instead?” “Uh....then we might have trouble.” “You have a propensity for understatement.” Giselle’s armor was in tatters from that re-entry. One missile and they would be merely more scattered debris around Eridani.

L. S. King

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis

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Travelling With The Archetypes
by Calie Voorhis
ob pulled the last road case across warped floorboards. With a grunt he pushed it into position and flipped open the lid. The hologenerator motor whirred and the dark praying-mantis-shaped projector rose from inside. Once he’d had roadies to do this, swarms of people who set up his equipment, but now it was just him, alone in this decrepit theatre. Thank goodness Tracy had found him this space. He stopped for a moment to wipe sweat from his face. This place was old, but it had a certain grandeur, even faded. Hints of gilt roses lined the proscenium arch. Hemp ropes and the pulley system of an old pin rail rose to his left; the steel support grid arched far above his head, bounded by the velvet charcoal curtains and backstage weatheredbrick wall. Best of all, it was on the outskirts of the imperial city, in the slums, far beyond the emperor’s notice. He hoped. Bob activated the hologenerator, praying it would last this one performance. A large military starship materialized with a roar of engines. The dark gray triangle filled the stage, swooped down over his head, and vanished into the back wall. The fortress grew out of the stage, a planetary orb structure that would provide the basis for the finale. Well, at least the generator was working right now. Like the rest of his equipment, it was cheap and outdated.

B

He checked the lighting next, pushing the button on his watch that activated the pre-show warm-up sequence. Rows of electrics above his head beamed on, rolling through gel changes of purple, blue, red, nocolor-pink, and bastard amber. They swiveled up and down under Bob’s command, shining waves out over the audience area. Then the gobos flickered in and shone their patterns down; leaves, stars, cloud formations. Spotlights turned on and focused on him, reducing his world to dots of light. Bob knew he shouldn’t look directly at them but he still did, a moth drawn to the flame. The spots danced in front of his eyes and his stomach turned. Low-tech, all of it, he knew. With a sigh, he brought his own internal morph cells online and began the final pre-show check, hoping it would last the evening as well. His body warped into alien shape with tentacles for hair, then grew a set of extra arms as he became one of the extras. The sensation still bothered him, this sprouting into another. It made his armpits itch when the cells expanded and contracted. He ran through the rest of the cast. If only he could use the morph cells to escape-become someone else, but they could only hold a form temporarily. His stomach ached at the thought of the roles he would have to do himself tonight. He’d had to sell off so many of his assets after his exile from the emperor’s court--his voice synthesizer, all of his hologenerators except

for one, more than a few of his personas. Of them all, he missed his synthesizer the most. He hated doing mime. Bob wiped sweaty hands on his baggy black trousers and checked his watch--time to go see how the personas were doing. He steeled himself for the transition to the virtual green room that existed only as a virtual recreation in his mind. The first shift of the night was always a bit jarring. With a blink of his eyes and a twitch, he vaulted, leaving his physical body and a small part of his mind on the side of the stage. The green room was recreated from Bob’s memory of Thaliana Hall, where he’d started his career. The yellow carpet was threadbare and stained with spilled coffee. The room smelled of greasepaint, cold cream, and hairspray. At least it didn’t have rats, like the real analog backstage. The cast, his personas, were already activated and waited for him. Maiden sat dressed in her white robes, Wizard sprawled on the opposite corner of the couch from Shadow. Hero sat in front of the mirror, as usual, and Farm Boy paced around the room. “Half-hour to the top of Act One. This is your half-hour call,” Bob said. Wizard’s grey beard dipped in acknowledgement, and Maiden thanked Bob. “Hero, did you hear me?” Bob asked.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis
Shadow poked Hero in the ribs. “Oh, sorry. Yes, thanks, half-hour.” Hero winked at his reflection. Bob breathed in the familiar scents to calm himself. “I don’t need to remind us all how important this show could be. It’s our only chance to earn enough money to get away from Emperor Constantin and we might be doing something for the resistance as well.” tender smiles, while Maiden rubbed Wizard’s callused feet. Farm Boy sat by himself on the ratty brown couch and ran his hands through his sandy hair over and over again. “How are you doing?” Bob asked. “Take deep breaths.” Red freckles stood out sharp against Farm Boy’s pale skin. “Don’t think about the audience,” Maiden said.

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“Tracy,” he said. “I’m so glad to see you.” He rubbed his hands on his pants and held out his hand. Tracy didn’t respond to his gesture. “I’m only doing this because I owe you one,” she said. “One night. What play are you going to do?” “Oh, you know,” Bob said. “Something to keep the audience entertained.” “You’re going to do that play, aren’t you?”

“I can’t believe we’re reduced to this,” “Pretend they’re all willing women,” Hero Wizard said. said.

Bob shrugged and hoped she wouldn’t Maiden looked at Shadow. “It’s his fault,” Shadow tilted his head up and smirked. press the issue further. He didn’t really have she said. “Just don’t screw up your cues.” a choice. He’d purchased the archetypes long before the play had been banned. Shadow pointed at Bob. “If he’d bothered Farm Boy leapt to his feet and ran for the to integrate us properly, like a Jungian actor bathroom. “If an imperialist catches you, you’ll be is supposed to do with archetypes, then I banished further than the slums,” she said. “You Bob sighed. “You had to,” he said to Shadow. know the Emperor Constantin has forbidden wouldn’t have been able to make the joke “You just had to.” about the Emperor’s wife.” that play. You’ll be lucky to keep your head.” Shadow shrugged. “Like it’s been fun Hero finished, “And we wouldn’t be here in “But it’s one of the Jungian classics,” Bob having him in our head. He’s all pimples and said, hearing the whine in his own voice. the slums performing for the dregs of society.” nerves.” “Enough,” Bob said. “I’ve heard enough.” “It’s your head,” Tracy said. She stalked off Maiden scowled at him. “You could try to the double doors leading out to the lobby. He glared at them all and blinked to exit the green room of his mind to the real stage. He being nice just once in your life.” Bob watched her hips sway as she left. wanted to check if there was an audience yet. “He came cheap,” Bob reminded Shadow. He blinked back to his green room. From backstage he could see the ripped red “I’m sorry he’s not as integrated as the rest of “Fifteen minutes, fifteen minutes until seats of the empty house. Bob hoped someone you, but I just haven’t had the time and I can’t places for the start of the show.” would get here soon. He caught himself do this show without him.” stooping and forced his shoulders back. “We’re none of us properly integrated,” # Shadow muttered, “bloody crutches is all we He checked his watch again, twenty-five minutes to go. Bob blinked again and went are.” Just after Bob called two minutes, he back to the green room, the transition less peeked out and saw the house filled with silent, Bob started to answer, but was distracted jarring this time. by a tap on his shoulder in the real world. He watchful faces. Dirty faces, yes. Bodies missing limbs, veterans from the Emperor’s ongoing Hero still stared in the mirror, practicing blinked out.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis
conquests, refugees, orphans, the detritus of society, but an audience all the same. His socks slid in his shoes as his feet began to sweat. Bob’s watch vibrated against his wrist and he flicked to the green room. “Places, everyone! Looks like we’ve got a full house after all.” Maiden whooped with delight, and even Shadow perked up. “Break a leg, folks!” Bob exited the green room and made his way onstage in the dark, waiting for Maiden to assume his physical body. Breasts sprouted and his hips swelled as the morphing system turned him into Maiden. Bob became the stage manager, relegated to running the show. He stood in the doorway of the green room and watched the action on stage. Shadow laughed, sprawled in his black robe on the couch, his helmet beside him. “How much did he cost you again?” “Shut up,” Bob said. He straightened his shoulders. “Well, we’ll just have to go in there after him. Again.” Wizard nodded. “I’ll help.” It was as bad as Bob expected when they burst into the small bathroom. Farm Boy knelt in front of the porcelain, clutching the toilet seat with tight hands, retching. Bob got him to his feet while Wizard wet a cloth and held it to Farm Boy’s head. “Get it together,” Bob said.

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Bob wiped his forehead now that the moment had eased. “They’re awfully quiet out there,” Maiden said. “Too quiet,” Wizard agreed. Shadow snorted. “Perhaps Farm Boy killed them with his acting.” A pulse began to pound in Bob’s temple. # The rest of Act I flowed smoothly, although Farm Boy had to be tossed out pale and sweaty for each of his entrances.

Farm Boy groaned. “I can’t. I can’t do this. In rapid succession, Farm Boy took Maiden’s What if I forget my pantomime? What if they message to Wizard and they went off to rescue The hologenerator flickered on, and the laugh at me?” her. lights powered up on cue, and the opening “What if they don’t even notice you?” Then came the bar scene. Bob forced his scene of an ovoid house surrounded by white Shadow said from the green room. morphing cells into manual mode, using the sand materialized. “Shut up,” said at the same stock extras of the system. The spirit of these On stage, Maiden bent down. She begged time. One on Bob and Wizardhustled Farm Boy characters he would have to provide. If only each side, an unseen figure for rescue from her kidnap- to the green room door. they hurled Farm Boy he had more money, a proper cast. If only his They pers. It took a delicate touch for the personas on just in time to make his cue and then stood palms would stop sweating. to morph from one to another while keeping watching the stage from the doorway. Morphing tentacles and a saxophone, he the flow going, but Bob didn’t worry about it. started immediately off on a wrong note. The Bob waited for him to move, to act. He Bob headed to the green room to check on knew what Farm Boy felt--anticipation, adren- sound of a bleating sax, almost the noise of Farm Boy—he was up next. He took aline, and nausea. He prayed he wouldn’t have a goat, rang through the audience. and tried a deep breath to steady himself to take over--he’d become a Jungian actor to again. He reminded himself not to look at the # avoid acting himself. audience and kept on playing. His hands shook, “What do you mean, he won’t come out?” Seconds ticked away as the audience stared but he hit the notes. Bob mentally ran his hands over his balding back at the youth with disheveled blond hair. His by the he head. Finally Farm Boy stepped forward and started offstagestomach roiledas green timeFarmcame and he felt as Boy. to perform, pantomiming the beauty of the Thank goodness that for the rest of the show “He says he can’t do it,” Wizard said. Maiden he’d just seen and his urge to help her.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis
he could use the personas and not himself. Hero swaggered into the scene, taking the Farm Boy under his wing, rebuilding Bob’s lost momentum. Hero helped Wizard and Farm Boy escape in his ship, off to rescue Maiden from the evil fortress. With a final cue from Bob, the ship faded into intermission. Act I ended with a thud of silence from the audience. # “What the hell is going on with these people?” Hero asked. The rest of the cast stayed silent, glum in their chairs. “I gave them my best strut and wink and still didn’t get a damn morsel back from them. Not a single sigh from anyone.” “Maybe they just don’t get it,” Maiden said. “Maybe you’ve lost your touch.” “Never,” Hero said, and blew her a kiss. Sounds of retching came from the bathroom, followed by a moan. “Maybe they just don’t like you,” Shadow said, his voice dry. “You won’t do any better in the second act,” Hero said. “They’re an energy sink.” Bob joined him on the couch. He didn’t know what to say. They were an energy sink, the most unresponsive audience he’d ever played to. Only the occasional rustle had assured him they were even alive out there. “If we had a voice this wouldn’t be happening. I hate miming.” Wizard said and glared at Shadow. “I thought it was funny. I still think it’s funny,” Shadow said.

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“Perhaps they don’t want to draw attention to themselves,” Tracy said, her back to Bob. Or perhaps they’re enjoying the show, Bob thought, but are too afraid to react.

Bob hurried after Tracy. He grabbed her Maiden frowned at him. “Pity the emperor shoulder. didn’t.” She fussed over her hair for a second, “Let go of me.” She tried to shake him off. patting her two braided buns to verify they were still in place. “I’ve got to keep going. It’s my only chance.” A hand smacked his shoulder in the real world. “Excuse me,” he told the archetypes “I don’t care,” she said. “I really don’t.” She and blinked out of the green room. pulled away. “I’ll give you a few minutes to run. It’s the best I can do.” Her voice sounded sad, “Yes?” he said to Tracy. but determined. She glared at him with brown eyes and Bob felt his hand curl into a fist. The show clouted him again. “There’s an agent here,” had to go on. she said. Her thin mouth tightened further. “Look!” He socked her in the jaw as gently as he could and caught her as she collapsed. Bob Bob peered out into the audience from the edge of the stage. He could see a dim form in lowered her to the floor and propped her up an imperial gray suit amid a ring of empty seats. against the stage wall. Her head lolled to one The man was taking notes on a hand-held side. He checked her pulse—she would be fine. He regretted doing it, but. . . recorder. The show would go on. He would finish this “Crap,” he said, as his stomach sank. one last piece, even if he did go to jail. “I’m calling the show,” Tracy said. “I’m not He blinked to the green room as the watch going to jail for sedition for you.” on his wrist vibrated. The cast stared at him. “Please don’t,” Bob said. “If you call the “What have you done?” Maiden asked. She show I won’t get paid.” He tried to swallow, grabbed Bob’s hand. “Did you hit someone?” his mouth dry. Bob ignored her, ignored the looks of “Tough.” Tracy turned away. disbelief from all of the cast. “Places for the “Why isn’t the audience leaving?” he start of Act Two.” asked. Wizard got to his feet. “We’re doomed.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis
# Act II commenced with the starship captured by the orbital fortress world. Bob was glad to see the personas were taking their jobs seriously. going to jail and he’s taking us all with him. We’re screwed.” The green room shivered and twisted. It blinked in and out, the stage superimposed. “Bob!” Maiden said. No.

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Bob stepped forward. The duel, that was it! They had to be at the duel scene. Oh God, he had to do the hardest scene by himself.

He forced the morph cells back online and straightened. Another step and he began the Hero kept his shoulders back and his chest “I knew it would get worse,” Shadow said. labored breathing of Shadow. He flicked on out, radiating confidence and bravado through “You can count on it every time.” the light sword at his side. his cocky walk. He flirted with the Maiden, by teasing and insulting her. With a last strobe of light, the green room With action, each moment became more vanished. and more possible. Maiden returned gibe for gibe. And then Shadow entered. He took a few minutes to let the menace of his presence wash over the crowd. He glided over the stage in his black helmet and flipped his cape with grace. # “Seven hells!” Shadow said when he popped back into the green room. “There really is an imperial agent.” Bob groaned. He watched Shadow pace around the room, avoiding the Wizard’s out-flung sandaled feet. “Well, there’s nothing to be done about it now,” Maiden said as she interrupted Shadow’s path. She turned him around and massaged his shoulders with narrow white fingers. “Don’t say it,” Hero said. “Do not say it.” “The show must go on,” she continued as she rubbed Shadow’s shoulders. Hero slumped in his chair. “We’re going to jail,” Shadow said. “Bob’s # Bob stared at the house and the audience stared back. Of all the times for the system to go wrong, it had to pick now. Of course, he thought. He swallowed a giggle. The spotlight beat down on his face and he could feel his body morphing back to norm. His hair receded and his shoulders slumped as the system reset. The audience waited. Bob waited. He blinked, but nothing happened. The green room system was still down. He darted forward as Shadow. The sword arched through the air. Hoarse rasping breath rolled across the audience. He forced the cells to switch to Wizard and began a series of classical defense moves. For a moment he was Shadow, then Wizard, then Shadow again, as he played both roles, both sides of the duel. The morph cells shifted back and forth from the old man to his former student. Shadow darted forward. Bob morphed back into Wizard and blocked the sword thrust.

His jaw ached from gritting his teeth. Think, He Bob ignored the sweat dripping into his eyes. danced around the stage. Parry, riposte. he admonished himself. What happens next? Wizard’s brown robes flapped. Shadow’s black He had to do something. cape snapped. Bob lost himself in the moment, in the Zen of the part, and forgot about the He had to act. He knew this play, forwards and backwards. He knew every light cue, faces staring him down, forgot about the every set movement. But he’d never done it imperial agent, forgot about everything other himself. Not without the help of the personas, than the joy of the moment and the rush of who weren’t here. He was alone in the white adrenaline. spotlight. # He blinked again, hoping that maybe . . .

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis
When the system came back online, Bob finish this.” relinquished control to Farm Boy and headed “And then go to jail,” Maiden said. for the green room. The duel was complete, the Wizard dead, but his spirit continued on. # The Maiden was saved. All that remained was the destruction of the dark fortress and the vanquishing of Shadow by the Farm Boy. The audience sat still and silent and the ring of empty seats around the imperial agent had His cheeks ached with an unfamiliar grown. Bob let each person assume control feeling. for their bow. As himself, he took a quick bow, back. The show was complete. “Wheee!” he said and spun about the and stepped best he’d done, but it was by no It wasn’t the room. means the worst either. Wizard stepped forward and shook Bob’s lights hand. “I’m proud of you. After all this time, the He waited, still under the bright arrest for agent to move forward, for the he you’re starting to truly integrate us instead of knew was coming. just using us.” The man stood up and made his Bob grabbed Maiden and kissed her. “I did aisle. The crowd got out of his way. way to the it!” Bob stayed in the “You did,” she said, wiping her mouth. “But He’d never get his voicecenter of the spotlight. synthesizer don’t do that again. It’s just too weird to be perform again. He heard footsteps back, never and looked kissing a part of yourself.” to the sides of the stage. Guards in white armor “I don’t give a damn.” Bob danced over to filled the wings. Shadow and kissed him too. When released, The imperial agent stopped when he Shadow sat on the couch and started giggling. reached the lip of the stage and pulled a sheaf After a few seconds, Bob and the rest joined of papers from a jacket pocket. He tilted his in. The laughter spread from persona to person head up and met Bob’s eyes. and back again, growing to a roar. When Farm “I arrest you, Bob Boy came back at the end, they pulled him into sedition, performing a Knight, on charges of banned piece, inciting a group hug. a crowd . . .” “Time for the curtain call,” Bob said as he recollected himself. “Oh, why bother,” Shadow said. “We could try to sneak out the back.” “It’s the form of the thing,” Bob said. “We’ll It was worse than Bob had thought it would be. With these multiple charges there was no chance he’d ever get out. And the agent was still reading. He was ruined, destroyed.

Pg. 12
Then one woman stood up in the audience. She looked up at Bob and started clapping. Clap, clap. A few rows away another person joined her. Then another. Bob stood there, still under the bright lights as the audience came to life. The clapping swelled. The noise drowned out the imperial agent. He felt his cheeks stretch wider and wider, and his face felt wet, though he didn’t know why. The crowd surged forward. “BOB!” They cheered him, these remnants of humanity, the losers, misfits, and outcasts. The mob pressed closer and closer to the agent. They trapped him between the edge of the stage and their bodies. The guards ran from the stage wings. They reached down to pull the agent up, but the crowd kept hold. Bob could see the white fear in the agent’s taut angular face. Bob looked out at the audience again, still cheering and shouting his name. He filled himself with the sight, drank in the sound to store away. And then he turned and ran for the backstage door. As he ran, he could hear the archetypes inside his head, encouraging him. Shadow, Hero, Maiden, Wizard, Farm Boy—all those parts of himself, integrated at last. Perhaps he could contact the rebel underground. With agents looking for him there was no way for him to get off planet now. And he wanted to keep on acting. Perhaps he could stage the show again . . . Perhaps . . .

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Travelling With The Archetypes by Calie Voorhis

Pg. 13

Calie Voorhis
Calie  Voorhis  is  a  life-long  fan  of  the  fantastic,  a  self-proclaimed  geek,  Odyssey workshop survivor, and current Seton Hill student.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’

Pg. 14

The Exile of Joseph Reed
by Colleen Drippe’
hen I woke in the pseudo-morning, sore of muscle and bleary-eyed, Vincent was leaning against the grainy, green front of a storage cabinet. The back of his head was all pulped and blackened, and a big, tight, toothy grin was plastered on his yellowed face. I didn’t know if that grin meant rigor mortis or good morning. It was always hard to tell. His eyes were dull and sunken, but far in the back some spark let me know he saw me. I rolled over, groping for a government issue Nikstik. As I lit the thing, I heard the air filter kick on with a self-righteous hum and, when I turned back, Vincent was gone. Almost unconsciously I relaxed, easing my back against the padded bed-wall while smoke drifted in clouds against the pale curve of the ceiling. The shoulder burn I got when they took me was almost healed, though it still itched a bit, and I was in pretty good shape physically, for what that was worth— It was not, of course, as though anyone gave a damn, I thought ruefully. I had my duties—most of them meaningless—and, sick or well, I knew now that if I didn’t do as I was told, I wouldn’t live long. The first thing I had tried after I woke up here was a good old-fashioned sit-down strike. They had read me the rules before they put me under that final time and things were pretty

Mild language

W

definite: cooperate, do the experiments, work out with the machines, report the results. “You can die slow,” Bonner, the med tech had told me, with his thin-lipped grimace of a smile. “A lifetime if you want it. Or you can die faster. The sentence is the same, you know.” He seemed to be having a good time. I told him what he could do with his sentence. I elaborated some on his own personal habits and those of his immediate ancestors. Later, he forgot to provide pain medication for my shoulder. Things were rough those first few days. So, I sat. And the food quit coming out of the servo-unit. It didn’t matter. I had a fever at the time, and my shoulder hurt, and I wasn’t hungry. Besides, I didn’t really believe they would kill me. Then, the water stopped too. When the air got musty—or was it my imagination?—and I had a headache and found myself yawning when I wasn’t sleepy, I gave in. So I’m spineless. Everybody has some really heavy thing they fear, and this was mine. I went to work setting up an array of meaningless experiments according to the instructions provided. But I knew full well I was the prime guinea pig. I did my exercises, measured my heart rate, took blood samples, and then did the mental stuff. It looked like I’d be the

best-educated corpse this side of the next galaxy. Man in hyperspace—that’s me. At least I think so. I’d heard all that about the speed of light and being all twisted up and flattened out or living backwards—and none of it seemed to be happening. Of course, how would I know? I was observing myself, and I and me were both barreling along at some unthinkable speed together. There was no place for an objective observer to stand. The radio seemed to only work one way if at all. When I read off information into a grey, metal grille, a light would come on. That was supposed to be an acknowledgment. But when I said something like, “Hey there, you jerks. How’s things in the good old solar system?” the light would go out. I guess they picked it up, but no one was letting on. To tell the truth, I hadn’t heard a human voice other than my own in two weeks. Vincent was silent, and so, for the most part, was I. I was afraid to start talking to myself—and talking to Vincent was a waste of time. After my second amber-papered smoke, I hauled myself out of bed and shoved the sleep unit into the wall. Vincent was back, grinning his mindless grin and blocking the doorway with his shambling form. I regarded him critically, noting how he seemed to have deteriorated in the last couple of weeks. Still, it was not as much I told myself as—not like he’d been in his grave for two weeks.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’
But he had. I slid my own eyes away from his muddy ones and wondered if they had shot him full of formaldehyde back on Earth. Somehow, I could almost smell him, and I wondered morbidly what was going on beneath his greyyellow skin. “And now,” I told myself, “Joseph Reed is going space happy.” My voice seemed to rasp out like an old rusty gate, startling me and causing my heart to hammer wildly for a moment. Then I stretched my lips into a grin of my own. “Good going, Vincent,” I told him. “You make a great zombie.” And then I walked through him and into the workroom. # The stuff I did kept me busy. When I finished a session of body and brain work, I was ready to sleep again. That was a good thing, really, because they hadn’t left me much else to do. No games, no entertainment, no books. Only the Nikstiks, which tasted worse each day. Oh, I did some reading, but it was all on a screen—and it was followed by endless tests to see if I’d taken it in. It was mostly useless stuff like how to tan hides or build a log cabin. A cabin in space, would you believe? The only thing I liked was the math. So after a session, muscles aching and head spinning, I would sit down and eat the tasteless crap that came from the serv-unit, shoveling in some kind of hi-protein oatmeal while I kept an eye out for Vincent. Vincent never bothered me when I was busy, but he had a way of turning up at mealtimes and staring at me as though he knew he would never eat again. Just staring, you know. And I would look up at his cheesychunky face and down at my cheesy-chunky meal and try not to throw up. And I would eat. I’m a survival type. God knows what I have to live for, but I just go on. Sometimes, after I finished, I would slip my grey plastic tray back in the slot and return to the math machine. I wanted to be good and tired before I hit that bed, and I didn’t want to dream if I could help it. The dreaming part, you see, was the worst. Worse than looking at Vincent even. It wouldn’t surprise me if they put something in the water to help things along. Or maybe they put it in the smokes. Oh sure, I knew old Vincent was a holo. He was just a little added touch of spite in case solitude and hopelessness weren’t enough to drive me mad. I didn’t know his first name before my trial. Vincent was just a guy on the wrong side— someone we held in the basement apartment until we were sure they were not going to meet our demands. And then, somehow, I was the one who got to do it. Over and over in my dreams, I would watch the others leave—Bosk (Good luck, Joey), Tony (See ya, man), and Dr. Ellis. I would close the door behind them and activate the lock. And I would go over to the table and pick up the little Torman special. Not

Pg. 15
a fancy laser or anything like that, the Torman was just good for a silent burst of close range energy. With one shaking hand, I would pick up the Torman and cross the frayed brown carpet, feeling the cold hardness of the cement beneath even through my shoes. And there would be the bedroom door, fake wood veneer peeling from a plastic frame. It was just a door, but somehow, it was so very meaningful. It was as though that door would open into something more than a dingy little room in a moldering old house. And I guess it did at least for me. I would pull off the lock field cube and step inside, gun in hand. That’s how it was, that part, in real life. Vincent would look at me, and I would know that he knew his time had run out. His eyes would widen slightly. “Turn around, man,” I told him, my voice tight but not mean. “It’s easier that way.” I didn’t tell him I had never done this before. He got this look then like, Yeah, I’m scared but who are you to tell me to turn around so you can shoot me? What right do you have? But all he said was, “Easier for who?” I grabbed him and turned him and—it was over just like that, before either of us knew I was going to do it. So that’s how it was in my memory. It was at the point when the others left that the dream would deviate from what really happened. I would go over and pull off the locking cube and swing back the door on its

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’
fake brass hinges and there he would be with his back to me. His grey and white clothing would be rumpled and he would be twisting his hands nervously behind his back. But when he turned around, it was always the wrong guy. Sometimes it was Tony or Bosk or a girl I used to know. Sometimes it would be a lot of people in succession. Sometimes it would seem like the whole human race was there, and afterwards, I would be alone on a ghost world. But sometimes—and this was the worst—it would be me I saw, looking scared and sick and waiting like that, until I pressed the firing stud. I always woke up in a cold sweat after one of the dreams, and reached out blindly for someone who wasn’t there. Irene. She was this woman once—only she liked someone else better. Well, not really better, but we didn’t agree about some stuff. Anyway, she wasn’t there. Only Vincent hung around, and he was no treat to wake up to when you’d just been dreaming you killed the wrong guy. No, I didn’t want to dream if I could help it—and sometimes I didn’t. And so the days—if that’s what they were—went by. I had been out about four weeks when I found the book. I still didn’t know where I was. Are you, in fact, anywhere when you exceed the speed of light? So as I say, it had probably been four weeks my time with just Vincent and me and the work assignments, when I found this book lying on the floor half under one of the consoles. It was the old kind of book, and it had pages and a cover. I picked it up gingerly from the floor wondering, what the hell—?

Pg. 16
essential cool guy. And then, when I found out what they were going to do to me, I managed to keep my fear—my panic—hidden. I had to, you see. That’s the kind of guy I am.

The cover was green cloth—the color of hope, some idiot’s voice burbled in my brain— But now, I was alone. I couldn’t even be and there in black letters was the title: The Life  sure my tormentors heard my curses. I was a of Robert Vincent. trillion miles from Earth and going nowhere in a metal-plastic coffin. I was just as dead as I stood frozen, turning the thing over in my Vincent, only I hadn’t started to rot yet. hands, my skin shrinking up like I had grabbed something dead. After a moment, I flung the And now this. book as hard as I could against one pearl-plasIt was like one last kick from society. A tic wall. sort of good-bye present. Have fun, Reed, you “Damn you!” I yelled. “Damn you all! Damn scum. Sweet dreams. the whole human race!” I had a sudden vision of my own coming But no one heard me, or if they did, there death. I would surely croak one day, right here was no answer. I thought of my lawyer, court and alone. Probably I would be scared and in appointed, who had taken my case with the pain, and no one would even know. Later, the same shrinking revulsion I had felt when I ventilator would have to run harder for a while picked up the book. He was light years away and after that—well, only the dust would pile by now. up. Centuries of dust, maybe. Millennia. “I hope you enjoy your goddamn joke,” I told my hypothetical listeners. I felt like a fool, but I couldn’t stop. “I hope your sun goes nova! I hope it burns up the whole solar system!” My voice didn’t echo, exactly—the walls were too resilient for that. The words just rang flat in my ears, helpless sounding and a little bit shrill. My eyes were drawn back to the book. It lay now in a tangle of pages, the cover open and leaning against one wall. That, at least, was no holo. I had held it and felt its weight. I guess it was then everything hit me at once. Through the trial, I had been the quintIt occurred to me, as well, that maybe my prison wasn’t designed to last forever. Maybe it would fall apart before I did. That one did it. I remember the walls tilted up at some crazy angle and me yelling monster movie stuff about being walled up alive. And maybe Vincent came back then, and maybe he didn’t. And maybe he gibbered at me with his rigor mortis mouth, and maybe he didn’t do that either. All I know is it was a long time later, and I was laying on the bed with a tender swelling above one eye. My hands were sore too, like I had been beating them on the walls—which I probably had—and there was no sign of

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’
Vincent. I dug out another smoke with shaking hands, wondering if I had knocked myself out and if that was so, who had put me on the bed? I coughed on the smoke and put it out. Maybe in the end, I would be reduced to sucking my thumb. I started to chuckle at that and stopped myself. None of that, thank you. My mind skittered away from the immediate past, which was fine with me. I didn’t know what time it was or how long I had been out of things. Was I supposed to be on duty now? And were they going to cut off the air? This last thought propelled me to my feet and there, just by the wall where I had thrown it, lay the Life of Robert Vincent. I just stood there, one hand gripping the edge of the bed unit and the other extended in mid-air, groping, I guess, for the Nikstik I had thrown away. I’ve said before, I’m a survivor type. With the life I’ve had, both before and after I met Dr. Ellis and Bosk and the others, I’ve had to be a survivor. I bend. I bend a lot sometimes. But I do not break. Now it scared me maybe a little that I could have come unstuck the way I had. But only a little. I knew I would snap back the way I always had. So I picked up  the  Life  of  Robert  Vincent and riffled through it, wondering if they really were watching me back on Earth. Were they laughing or turning away in disappointment? Or just saying things like, “Ah,” and “Very interesting.” I decided to check out the contents as I made my way into the workroom. In a way, I was bored—and then, too, there is still this morbid streak in me. It was like when I wondered if the worms had got into Vincent yet. I held in my hand some kind of photo album with minimal text. And, I decided, it didn’t look too interesting. Baby pictures, first birthday, first day of school, first communion— so Vincent was a kid once. Well, so was I, only nobody bothered with pictures. I skipped ahead a bit and saw him graduate from college. College, I thought sourly. This guy got a degree so he could become a two-bit civil servant and work his way up in the hierarchy. And all that so I could make hash out of his head. He had brown eyes, same as me. I hadn’t noticed that when I shot him. We liked the same kind of music. Funny how I knew that. I could almost hear it. He met this girl once and she— Same as me. Angrily I flipped on back. I wanted to see him older, you know. I wanted to see him when his cold-hearted self-interest had jelled. When he quit caring about anything but his career. When he had no more time for music and stuff like that. Instead, I saw him coaching a kids’ baseball team. I saw his kids growing up. Then on about page forty-six, the pictures ended and that page was all torn up and blackened and it oozed under my hand until I felt the blood and brains pulping up between my fingers.

Pg. 17

With a muffled cry, I threw down the book and saw it make a red splat-smear there at my feet. I raised bloody hands to cover my eyes because I knew the walls were going all funny again. “I am utterly crazy,” I said aloud. It seemed like I was talking about someone else. “Okay,” I told the empty room. “So you shook it all loose this time. So you’ve driven me stark, raving—” But I wasn’t raving. Not really. I went into the lav and washed the blood off my hands. Real or not, that made me feel better. When I came out, the book was still a mess on the floor and I stepped over it, not looking down. Yeah, I figured, it was time to get back to work. And that is what I did. You see? I’m a survivor. I knew there was an explanation for what had happened. So science was a bit more advanced than I had thought—and society a lot more vindictive. But me, I was a little bit tougher than they’d thought. I did look back once, and saw Vincent watching me from the doorway with his dead pebble eyes and grinning his flaky grin. He was definitely going downhill, four and a half weeks dead now, and he looked smaller than he had been. Maybe instead of falling apart, he was just going to shrivel up. I shrugged. Whatever those sadists back on Earth had done, it wasn’t his fault—brown eyes and freckles, and he got a bike once for his 

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’
birthday—wasn’t his fault, I say. Not his fault he was dead and disgusting— I’ve never been one much for sentiment and that stuff. Oh, I once cared about “humanity.” Why else had I been there in that basement with Dr. Ellis and the others? But humanity is not the same thing as people. Ellis had told me a lot about history and making a better world. I still thought President Groff was a jerk. He had a private shuttle and his own place on the moon, and he got around all over the solar system. He’d seen it all first class, spurning the worn out soil of Earth with his well-made boots, leaving the rest of us behind to fight over the scraps his kind left. What did Groff know about rats and stopped up toilets and waiting in line for commodities? What did he know about fear and loneliness and hunger? And yet, an uncomfortable but fairly honest part of me observed, Dr. Ellis wore tailored suits, and though he paid the rent on that basement apartment he never slept there. Vincent had a bike once and brown eyes. Just like me only my bike was second hand and probably stolen. And he went to college just like me only I had a scholarship and quit when I met Dr. Ellis and Bosk and the others. And he was a man once, just like me. Only now he was dead and coming apart and he wasn’t really out to get me. I knew that. He just grinned that way because he was dead. It wasn’t his fault. It was mine. “I’m sorry I shot you, Vincent,” I told him and I meant it. “You poor stiff—” After that I found myself shaking with sobs like I hadn’t done since—since never, I guess. I wept for Vincent and his kids and me and Earth and the screwed up way things had of turning out. And when I finally raised my head from the console, I was alone again. After that, there were no more tricks. Things mellowed out, and I settled into my routine in a funny kind of half despair. I had nothing to live for, but I lived. Vincent had had a lot to live for, and I mourned for him. It was a new feeling caring about someone else—and not too pleasant. I almost missed the holo, weird as it was, because at least it was company. But Vincent did not return. The book was still there, though, and so I knew that it, at least, was real. In the end, I cleaned up the mess and shoved it all in the recept. I was sorry, sure, but not that sorry. I didn’t want to look at the pictures and blood anymore. And then, about a week after Vincent stopped coming, another strange thing happened. One of the blank screens in the workroom came to life and some guy—not Vincent or anyone I recognized—a regular person with dark hair and a bent-up nose looked out at me. “Welcome to Garrett’s world,” he said. “We’re bringing you in.” “What the hell?” I croaked. “Is this another of your sick jokes?” I had to restrain myself from actually putting a fist through the screen. Hadn’t they done enough to mess up my mind?

Pg. 18
They made me care about stuff when it was too late, and now this. The guy looked at me funny, and then smiled a little, like he knew a joke, but he would share it with me. “Procyon IV,” he said. “Penal colony. Didn’t they tell you?” “No, man,” I said, only half taking it in. “I’m dead, see. And you’re not real. I’ve seen Vincent.” I was uncomfortably aware that my voice was rising out of control. “I’ve seen Vincent and the book and all that blood!” I nearly screamed. “But I never killed you, and you’ve got no business busting in on my life!” His gaze became speculative. When he smiled again it wasn’t a nice smile at all. “I think I understand,” he said. “Those creeps didn’t tell you a thing. We’ve had a few others come in that way.” I only stared at him. “My name’s Nelson,” he said now, “and I came here in a pod—the same way you did. Only I knew where I was going.” “Are you trying to say,” I asked him carefully, holding onto my sanity with both hands, “that this whole thing was a put on? That all this— holograms and that book—that this—” “I don’t know about holos,” Nelson said, “or that other stuff. We all have our thing—” For a moment his eyes clouded and slid away from mine. “Funny things happen on the way,” he finished lamely. “What do you mean?” I snarled. He managed a shrug. “You’re Joseph Reed, pod number 4693,” he said. “Right?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

The Exile of Joseph Reed by Colleen Drippe’
I nodded cautiously. “That’s my name anyway.” “Okay. You’re ours now. You live here. First they sent robo ships, and now, they send us. But no one else has the guts to follow. The whole place is ours—” I only gaped at him. It was still too much. “Ultralight drive,” he said now. “It’s still in the experimental stages, you know.” I lit a smoke and put it out immediately. Habit. “I was really going somewhere all the time,” I whispered wonderingly. But the words didn’t mean anything. “It’s our world here, I tell you,” he said. “Ours! And—” Here the smile came back a little warmer. “It’s not such a bad life. This isn’t a real prison, you know. It’s a colony with women and now a few children.” He signed off then and left me to think about everything. I sat down before the math console and leaned my head on the cool grey plastic. So they wanted me to think I was reprieved. And I did believe it. Silently cursing my folly, I still believed. Somehow, I must have fallen asleep there in the chair—or else they knocked me out. Anyway, when I woke, the sun was shining. Oh, it was the wrong color, of course, and the sky was greenish. But it was morning outside, and my pod had come open. Nelson helped me to my feet, and we staggered outside. I let my gaze travel from his face to the woods—some kind of conifers—and then to the green-blue arch of cloudless sky. “Remember, you’re not the first, Reed,” he told me quietly. “The nightmare is over. And whatever the reason you came here—” He stumbled a bit over this part. “Well, I think you’ll do okay. Everyone does.” “They said—” I began and stopped. I was still a step behind, and I couldn’t seem to catch up with what was happening. I knew just enough to keep quiet about Vincent, but I had to ask him again about the holos. I had to! “No,” he told me. “They don’t have that kind of technology. It was the light drive, is all. It does funny things to—to the way we see things.” “They should have said something,” I protested, squinting against the light. “Warned me.” “Yes,” he agreed. “They usually do at least tell about the colony. They must,” he said slowly, not looking at me, “have been a real hard-ass crew.” I didn’t say anything, but it occurred to me that maybe I had been a real hard-ass murderer. Maybe that’s why I got special treatment. And then, we paused while I gazed my fill at the woods and fields and cabins, knowing I would never see things quite this way again. This was a good place, fresh and new. It was better than Earth as it was now—at least for me. I found I was picking up on all sorts of things I had never seen before. It was as though some kind of meaning—something larger than life

Pg. 19
and full of promise hid just an eye blink behind the scene before me. But of course, the real difference wasn’t in the scenery. It was in me. I had shed a whole load of hate somewhere between here and Earth, and it felt pretty good. If I had only known! Ultralight drive, I thought as I walked beside Nelson over the fields. Yeah, it was weird, all right. I reached in my pocket and let my fingers slide over the ragged edges of the photo I had torn from the  Life  of  Robert  Vincent. I didn’t have to look. I knew it showed a kid with brown eyes. A kid with a new bike— I don’t think I’ll show it to anyone. But I’m still sorry, Vincent. I don’t believe that crap about the effects of ultralight, though And I don’t think Nelson does either.

Colleen Drippe’
Colleen  Drippe’  is  author  of  many  science fiction, fantasy, and even horror  stories. She is also editor of HEREDITAS  MAGAZINE, sponsored by Regina Coeli Online Academy.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Featured Artist: Euka

Pg. 20

Featured Artist

Eduardo Lopez Mustaros

Name: Eduardo Lopez Mustaros Age: 37 Hobbies: Digital Art Favorite Book / Author: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez When did you start creating art? I have always tried in one form or another. What media do you work in? I have worked in traditional media, not exclusively in digital.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Featured Artist: Eduardo Lopez Mustaros

Pg. 21

Where your work has been featured? Only inside deviantART Where should someone go if they wanted to view / buy some of your works? My deviantART prints page How did you become an artist? I have been a photographer all my life. From there, the natural flow of things, from film to digital. Digital equals computer digital manipulation, so here we are. What were your early influences? Nature has always inspired me. Besides that, Roger Dean and Dylan Cole What are your current influences? Good friends at DA. What inspired the art for the cover? Proelium was done for an art pack in a group called Terraspace on deviantART. I wanted to depict more than a war—an invasion, the first stages of our elimination. How would you describe your work? My vision Where do you get your inspiration / what inspires you? Everything Have you had any notable failures, and how has failure affected your work? No, I don’t think failure on a big scale has affected me.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Featured Artist: Eduardo Lopez Mustaros

Pg. 22

What have been your greatest successes? How has success impacted you / your work? My success has been my family and my work, and it’s what gives me free time and peace of mind to enjoy my digital art. What are your favorite tools / equipment for producing your art? A fast computer, a big screen, a trackball, and a Wacom tablet. What tool / equipment do you wish you had? An eight core 3GHz Mac Pro and a thirty inch screen. What do you hope to accomplish with your art? Inspiring images.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston

Pg. 23

Hot Off the Press
by Ty Johnston

R

oger Madock newspaper.

screamed

into

the

Dorothy looked over from her desk. “What’d they get wrong this time?” she asked, cup of coffee halfway to her lips. “Copy editors!” Roger yelled. “They changed a guy’s name again. It’s supposed to be Mark Rawlins, not Tim Rawlins!” Dorothy sipped her coffee and leaned back in her chair. “You better tell the managing editor about it,” she said with a smirk. “If you don’t let them know, then...” “Yeah, yeah,” Roger said, wadding the newspaper into a ball and dropping it into the trash can beneath his desk. He loosened the tie around his neck and bent over, elbows on his knees. “It just steams me, you know? We go to all this trouble to get the facts right, and then they butcher our copy.” “Know what you mean,” Dorothy said. “Last week they changed the sex of a source in one of my stories. The Republican party chairman didn’t like being called a ‘she’ one bit. Not my fault his name is—” Roger’s phone rang. He picked up the receiver and said, “Roger Madock, Monitor newsroom.” “Hey, Roger, this is Sheriff Gable,” the voice on the line said.

“Oh, hey, Don. I was about to call you,” Roger said, glancing at Dorothy with a hereI-go-having-to-apologize-for-someone-else’smistake look. “You were about to call me?” the sheriff

his desk. “Okay, who walked?” The sheriff made a choking sound. “That punk Taylor is out,” he said with distaste, “and Tim Rawlins is out, too.” Roger wrote down the names, then, “Hey, you mean Mark Rawlins.” “Nope, I mean Tim Rawlins,” the sheriff said. “Look, I gotta go now. There’s a mess of paper work still to be finished on this one. Call me tomorrow morning if you got any more questions, okay?” “Sure, sure,” Roger said as he hung up the phone and put down the pen and notebook. He felt dazed for a moment. He was sure the guy arrested had been named Mark Rawlins. It wasn’t like him to make a mistake like that. He’d been a reporter for eight years. “You okay?” Dorothy asked, seeing the weird look in Roger’s eyes.

He found them filed in the  bottom  left  drawer.  Roger  yanked  out  the  folder  the  papers were in and began scanning them. The third page was a copy  of  a  warrant  for  the  arrest of Tim Rawlins.
asked. “What for? You got some more questions?” “Not yet,” Roger said, “Did you see today’s story?” “Nope,” the sheriff said. “Listen, I’ve got to go quick. I just was calling to let you know that a couple of the guys walked. Their attorneys got them out on bail.” Roger instantly reverted back to being a reporter and grabbed a pen and notebook off

“Yeah, sure,” he said, looking up with a smile. “Just a long day, I suppose.” Dorothy stood and patted him on the back. “Go home and get yourself a beer,” she said as she turned to leave for the night. “You bet,” Roger said. When Dorothy was gone, Roger reached for several of the notebooks that were on his desk. He flipped through several of them looking for

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston
the name of the arrested man. Failing there, he looked inside his desk for a copy of the police reports he’d picked up earlier in the day. He found them filed in the bottom left drawer. Roger yanked out the folder the papers were in and began scanning them. The third page was a copy of a warrant for the arrest of Tim Rawlins. “Aw, crap,” Roger said. He must have made a mistake, and the copy desk caught it. Things would be cool tonight because it was late, but tomorrow he was sure he would catch grief from the managing editor. “Call it a night,” Roger said to himself as he stood and took his jacket off the coat rack. “You can’t win them all.” # Entering his apartment, Roger stopped in the entrance hall long enough to scan over the day’s mail. Most of it was junk mail or bills, but there was one interesting-looking envelope from Nouveau Fantasy magazine. Roger dropped his coat on the floor, set his keys on the coffee table and fell back in his reclining chair. He had sent a short story off to the magazine several months back. The tale hadn’t been anything great, a piece of science fiction he had titled “Attackers from Mars,” but it had been fun to write. Roger had hoped the piece would also be fun to read, especially since it poked fun at the low-grade B movies from the fifties. He tore open the envelope expecting another rejection slip. He had been writing short fiction for several years and had yet to sell a story to a magazine. He was surprised to find inside the envelope a letter asking permission to publish the story. “Well, I’ll be,” Roger said to himself. He would have laughed if he could have seen the silly grin on his face. He wasted no time getting out his typewriter and writing a letter giving the editors of Nouveau Fantasy permission to run the tale. The magazine didn’t pay anything, but Roger was just glad he was going to have a short story in print. “Maybe all those years are going to pay off,” he said as he pulled the typed letter out of the machine and put it in a new envelope. After that, he wandered off to bed, wondering how long it would be before “Attackers from Mars” was published. # The managing editor stuck his head out his office door. “Roger!” Roger looked up from his desk where he was busy typing in the police log. “We got a code 187 at 2112 Pliath Avenue,” the managing editor said. Roger grabbed two notebooks and a handful of pens and headed for the exit. Code 187 was a murder. When he started his car he also turned on

Pg. 24
the one-way radio the newspaper had supplied him. “We got an officer down. Repeat, officer down,” the radio squawked. Roger sped out of the parking lot. When he got to the scene, there were four police cruisers surrounding the front of an apartment building. “You missed all the action,” Sheriff Gable said as Roger walked up to him, notebook and pen already in hand. “What happened?” Roger asked. “Aw, some junkie lost it and started shooting up the place,” the sheriff said. “He killed one guy and wounded an officer. The idiot tried to hole up in his apartment, but he ran out of bullets while trying to get inside. His wife had locked him out. A couple of the boys tackled him down and ‘cuffed him. “Look, you can get all the information back at the station. I should be getting to the hospital. The guy isn’t doing too good. He might not make it.” “Yeah, sure,” Roger said, still writing, “but which officer got shot?” “It was one of the city boys,” the sheriff said. “I think his name is Leon Brown.” # Five minutes after midnight. Roger typed faster and faster. Deadline was less than a half hour away.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston
The officer shot, Leon Brown, was still alive, according to the last person Roger had talked with at the hospital. Brown was doing well; he was expected to survive the night, at least. “You got that story?” the managing editor said with a testy voice over Roger’s shoulder. “Hold on, hold on,” Roger said, typing in two more lines. Then, “There. It’s yours.” The managing editor turned toward one of the copy editors. “Get it ready, we’re on the clock,” he said gruffly, then went to his office. Roger eased back in his seat and smiled. It was a good story. He knew that. The quotes from the shooter’s wife were some of the best he had gotten in a while. “So, how’s it going, sport?” Dorothy said from her desk as she closed her computer down for the night. Roger glanced over at her. “Not bad at all,” he said, still smiling. “I’ve got a great story for tomorrow.” “The shooting on Pliath?” she said. “Yeah, that’s the one,” he said, leaning back in the chair and putting his feet on the desk. “Hey, did I tell you I sold one of my short stories?” Dorothy looked up, almost laughing. “It’s about time. I knew you had the knack. Somebody had to publish you sooner or later.” “Yeah, it finally happened. I sent them a return letter today,” Roger said, closing his eyes. “Hey, you want to go for a coffee to celebrate?” Dorothy asked. “I know a great place on Sixth. They’re open all night and have the best java around.” Roger thought it over for a moment. Today had been a good day for him, at least as good as a day can get when you’re a crime reporter. He deserved a little relaxation, and Dorothy was a nice lady. “Sure. I’m up for it.” # During the hustle and bustle of the day, Roger had forgotten about the mistake with the name in yesterday’s story. Over coffee, Dorothy asked him about it. “You know, now that I think about it, none of the editors said a thing,” Roger said. “That’s weird,” Dorothy said, taking a sip of espresso, “usually they’re all over us about stuff like that.” From the booth they were sitting in, Roger could see an old television sitting on the coffee shop’s counter. The sound was turned down, but Roger still recognized the apartment building on Pliath Avenue. “Hey, hold on a second,” Roger said, standing and walking toward the television. “Do you mind if I turn it up?” he asked the waitress behind the counter. She nodded and he twisted the volume knob. “Officer Brown died less than ten minutes ago, according to sources at Wayne County

Pg. 25
Hospital,” a woman’s voice said on the television, while pictures of police officers surrounding the apartment building moved across the screen. “He was shot today in a gun battle on Pliath—” “What’s going on?” Dorothy asked, stepping up behind Roger. “I’ve got to get back to the paper,” he said, setting the paper coffee cup on the counter. “The shot cop just died, and my story says he’s still alive.” Before returning to the newspaper, Roger stopped at a pay phone to call Wayne County Hospital. “Officer Brown died shortly after midnight,” Dr. Margaret Clancy said to him over the phone. # “No!” the managing editor yelled at Roger. “I can have it typed in five minutes,” Roger said to his red-faced boss. “No, no, no,” the managing editor said. “It’s already past two in the morning. The last edition is on the presses now. We can run a correction tomorrow.” “We’re going to look like idiots,” Roger said. “The radio and television have got this story already, a full twenty-four hours ahead of us. At least let me write up two inches to throw in someplace.” The managing editor huffed. “We’re past deadline. Way past deadline.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston
Roger stood there frustrated. His boss turned and walked away. # The next day Roger stormed into the office, nearly knocking over a trashcan and bumping into the publisher on his way. He was still furious. He would look like a fool to the other reporters and to his sources, not to mention what some of the management would think. Also, it was part of the business. Journalism ran in Roger Madock’s veins. He, like any other reporter, didn’t like the idea of being the last one to get a story. The rush of getting the scoop on the competition was enough to keep a reporter high for days, or at least until the next major story erupted. Roger grew even angrier when his boss stuck his head out his office door and said, “Roger, you gonna give me an update on the shot cop?” It was almost more than Roger could stand. Pictures of violence went through his head, but he gritted his teeth and said, “What do you want? He’s still dead.” The managing editor stood there with a confused look on his face. “What do you mean, ‘he’s still dead?’ Your story in today’s paper says he’s still alive.” Roger’s teeth ground together even harder. He was sure he tasted blood. “Of course my story says that,” he said, wanting to add you stupid idiot, “that’s because you wouldn’t let me stop the presses last night.” The managing editor looked even more confused. “What are you talking about?” “Last night,” Roger said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the boss said. “I don’t remember anything about anyone wanting to stop the presses.” Roger’s anger died, replaced with his own confusion. “What do you mean you don’t remember?” he said loudly. “We were right here in the office arguing about it. You said the late edition was already on the presses and you weren’t stopping.” The managing editor tilted his head and squinted one eye. “You sure you feel all right, Madock?” Roger stood there with a blank look, and his arms hanging at his side. “Maybe you should take the rest of the day off,” the boss suggested. Roger shook his head. “No, I’ll be okay,” he said, wondering what was going on. When Dorothy entered the office, Roger cornered her at her desk. “Do you remember anything odd about last night?” he asked bluntly. Dorothy dropped her purse in the bottom drawer of her desk and sat in her chair, flicking the switch on her computer while doing so. “No, not really,” she said, smiling, but with a concerned look in her eyes. “Did something happen?” “Do you remember me leaving you at the

Pg. 26
coffee shop to come back to the paper?” Roger asked. Dorothy stared off into space for a few moments, as if she were trying to remember something with difficulty. Finally, “No,” she said, “you walked me home after we left the shop.” Roger shook his head and backed toward his own seat at his desk. “What’s wrong, Roger?” Dorothy said, the concerned look spreading from her eyes to the rest of her face. “You’re acting funny.” “I don’t know,” Roger said. “Something weird is happening. The boss asked me to check on the cop who had been shot, but I could’ve sworn...” “Have you checked?” Dorothy asked. Roger looked up, into her eyes. “You don’t remember?” he asked. “Remember what?” “We saw it on the TV at the coffee shop,” Roger said. “The cop, he died at the hospital.” Dorothy screwed her face up. “I remember seeing the story on the TV, but I thought they said he was still alive.” Roger called the hospital again. “Can I speak with a Dr. Margaret Clancy, please?” he asked the receptionist. Seconds later the doctor was on the line. “How may I help you, Mr. Madock?” she asked.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston
“Hello, Doctor,” Roger said, trying to sound polite and not frazzled. “I’m calling to check on Officer Brown. He’s still in your care, isn’t he? “Oh yes,” the doctor said. “He’s coming along quite fine, really. It’s something of a miracle. We didn’t expect him to make it through the night.” Later that night, after leaving work, Roger poured himself a triple shot of whiskey and plopped into his reclining chair. For the second day in a row a story of his had been published with an error. Later, Roger had found out there wasn’t an error, that what he had written had been true. How was that? How did it happen? He had been so sure the man arrested two days ago had been Mark Rawlins, not Tim. Then the story had come out saying Tim Rawlins had been arrested. Roger had checked his facts and found out that, yes, the man was named Tim Rawlins. Then there was the deal with the shot policeman. Roger knew the man had been dead, or at least the doctor had told him the man was dead and the television crew had reported the man was dead. Roger’s story had come out saying the man was alive, and Mother of Us All, the man was still alive, doing quite well, in fact. The liquor slowly coursed its way through Roger’s blood and into his skull. A little of the whiskey would help him to keep his mind clear, he thought, but a lot would make things messier. He took another drink anyway. Something was going on. Either there was some complicated plot to discredit him, or he was going crazy. It was almost as if he were making up the future, writing something that could change what actually did happen. Roger thought that one over for a minute. It couldn’t be, could it? He took another drink of whiskey, a long one. There’s only one way to find out, he thought before falling asleep in the chair. # It worked. Sheriff Gable called Roger to ask if he wanted to come along on a drug bust. Roger went along. The bust happened at 71 West Main Street. In his story, Roger intentionally changed the address to 992 Rosewell Street. The next day Roger drove by 992 Rosewell Street. The place was covered with yellow police tape. To be sure, Roger called the sheriff. Gable told Roger the bust had happened at 992 Rosewell Street. Roger didn’t know how it was happening, but he was actually changing events after they occurred. It seemed that whatever he wrote and got published was coming true. He had done some quick checking with the drug bust story and figured out that events

Pg. 27
weren’t changing until his story was actually published. He could write all he wanted and nothing would change, but the moment that story was published, bam! Roger decided to try another experiment. This was too interesting an opportunity to pass by. He wrote a short story, only a few paragraphs, about his co-worker Dorothy. In the story Dorothy was head-over-heals in love with him. Roger thought it was possible he might have gone insane, but he knew he wasn’t stupid. There was no way he would be able to get this little story past the editors and into the paper. Late that night, after most of the reporters and many of the editors had gone home, Roger snuck into the composing room, where the actual newspaper was put together. The composing crew was on their lunch break and wouldn’t be back for another fifteen minutes. Roger ran the small piece of paper through the wax machine, which used the wax to hold the stories and photos on the unprinted page, then placed the story at the bottom of an inside page in the D section. Now all he had to do was wait. # “Are you doing anything tonight?” Dorothy asked. Roger looked up from his desk. His grin was

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Hot Off the Press by Ty Johnston
so wide it looked as if it would split his face in two. “No, I’m not busy,” he said. “You have anything special in mind?” “Well, I was thinking we could go to that coffee shop again,” Dorothy said, acting bashful for the first time in Roger’s knowledge. “Sure, that’s swell,” Roger said, thinking he would have to slip in a story that said he had won the lottery, which it seemed he had. They sat at the same booth they had sat at before, each with a warm mug in hand. “You’ve been pretty chipper the last day or so,” Dorothy said, smiling over her espresso. Roger leaned back in the seat, trying to appear aloof and macho at the same time. “I’ve been doing okay,” he said, “things are finally starting to go my way.” “Oh, did you get another story published?” Dorothy asked. “What?” “Did you published?” get another short story burst into his apartment. “Where’s that letter?” he asked frantically as he pulled out drawer after drawer, seeking. Papers went flying, drawers clattered to the ground. A box of staples fell and burst open. “Where? screamed. Where? Where?” Roger “Yeah, sure,” the voice said.

Pg. 28

“I’m Roger Madock. You bought a story of mine. Has it been published yet?” There was silence on the other end as Roger thought he heard a humming noise coming from outside. “Uh, yeah, it came out yesterday,” the voice said. “You okay, mister? You sound kinda messed up.” The humming sound was growing louder and louder. Roger looked out his kitchen windows. “Sure,” Roger said softly. “I’m fine.” He hung up the phone as he watched the giant flying saucer hovering in front of his window, the barrel of some sort of ray gun pointed directly at him.

It wasn’t in the front room. The kitchen. Maybe he had put it in the kitchen. Roger opened more drawers and cupboards, anxiously seeking the letter that had the phone number he needed. Finally, he found it. The letter was sitting where he had last left it, in the middle of the kitchen table. Roger hurriedly dialed the number printed on the letter. “Somebody be there,” he said, “please, anybody.” The phone rang nine times before the line was picked up. “Um, yeah, can I help you?” a young male voice said. “Is this Nouveau Fantasy magazine?” Roger blurted into the phone. “Man, it’s awful late to be calling me,” the voice said. “Forget that!” Roger yelled. “Is this Nouveau Fantasy?”

Ty Johnston
After  twenty  years  of  fiddling  around  with a short story here, a short story there, Ty Johnston decided it was time to  get  serious  about  his  fiction.  He  is  currently  finishing  a  trilogy  of  fantasy  novels, sometimes working on a screenplay or two, pumping out more short stories  and  working  on  a  serial  fiction  blog at swordofbayne.blogspot.com.

Roger sprang out of the booth. “I’m sorry, Dorothy,” he said, backing toward the shop’s door. “I’ve really got to get home. I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?” Dorothy looked hurt and confused, but all she could say was, “Okay, sure.” On the street, Roger walked faster and faster, almost running. He didn’t bother to shut the door when he

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King

Deuces Wild
by L. S. King

Pg. 29

Chapter 13: “Full Circle”

The  Confeds  have  been  defeated  and  are  “Among other things.” Carter grinned beginning their retreat from Eridani Prime. Slap  and looked over at Slap. The cowboy smiled and Tristan are aboard their ship, along with absently, but his preoccupied frown quickly the engineer Carter and Slap’s horse, Príncipe, returned. and are ready to leave the planet. “And you know this core is still intact?” ríncipe is settled in,” Slap said from “Yes, Sir. Er, well, most likely. I mean, it should the doorway of the bridge. Tristan have survived because they’re hardwired to nodded without looking up as he checked eject. The beacon is working anyway.” systems for take-off. Tristan eyed the displays, his mind calculatSlap greeted Carter, then asked, “Do you ing the thought of the several million stellars really think Príncipe will be safe?” the core was worth against the chance of “Our cargo bay isn’t meant to hold horses,” getting it out of a debris field and escaping Tristan said, “but as long as we have artificial intact. gravity and inertial dampers, he should be fine. “With their communications screwed,” You have him tied up?” Carter said, “they can’t pick up the core’s “Tethered, yeah.” beacon. We could slip in and grab it and get out.” After a silence, Carter cleared his throat. “Sir, I know we’re going to need repairs, and “While ducking fire from how many they’re going to be expensive. If you don’t ships?” mind a detour, I know a way you could pick up “I’m...not certain. There are ships still in a little money on the black market.” orbit to escort the carrier.” Tristan’s eyebrows rose. “Oh?” “And where is this core in relation to the “That first carrier that blew up? Its surviving carrier?” computer core is out there. I, uh, disrupted Carter pulled up a display and pointed. “The efforts to salvage it, and to my knowledge it’s carrier is here. The core is over on the other still floating around up there.” side of the planet, with probably only shuttles “Disrupted efforts, hein?” Tristan turned to near it, if any of them are still trying to salvage regard Carter. “Communications again?” the core—which they’d be doing blind.”

Tristan scratched his head, smoothed his hair, and then rubbed his temple. “We could force shield the cargo bay into sections and open the fore hatch...” “My thought exactly!” Carter’s eyes glinted. “I could rig up some of the cargo nets and straps into a catcher net. We’d open the fore cargo hatch, carefully fly over the core, giving the impression that Giselle is ‘eating’ it. The net catches and pads the core while the hatch closes. We recompress the cargo bay and take off.” “Now, wait, Príncipe is in the cargo bay,” Slap said, leaning closer. “Put him aft,” Tristan said. “He is aft.” “Then what’s the problem?” “If something goes wrong—” “If that force shield fails, it’ll decompress the whole ship.” “Except the bridge and crew quarters,” Carter put in. “And galley, and—” Tristan glared at the engineer who squeaked to a halt. “The point is,” Tristan said, looking Slap in the eye, “that force shield is safe. Your horse will be fine unless the ship is blown up. In

“P

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
which case you won’t be worrying about him anyway.” Slap frowned but didn’t say anything more. “How long will it take to rig a net?” Tristan asked. Carter pursed his lips. “Not long. If Slap helps, it won’t take any time at all.” Tristan shrugged. gazed at Slap. The cowboy “Yeah,” came the cowboy’s voice after a moment. “We’re ready. Take it easy. He’s flighty.” By all means, I must consider the sensibilities of a horse. Tristan took a deep breath and lifted off. With Carter’s help, he had a map of where the Confeds were. Hopefully, they could get into orbit and near the core without intercepting any ships. The salvage shuttles had limited weapons and range and were no match for Giselle. The beacon was still active. Tristan set a course for it, frowning at Giselle’s sluggish response. Maneuvering in the debris field was going to be difficult, not to mention lining up to retrieve the core. His expectations weren’t off. But fortunately, the core wasn’t in too difficult a position. But before he could align with the core, blips appeared on his screen. “Carter, we have company.” “What are they? Shuttles?” “Interceptors. Looks like Boomerangs.” “Whoops. Four?” “Yes.” “Wedge formation?” “Got it in one.” “Then they don’t know what you are. They’d use a starburst attack or claw strike formation if they had any idea of your armament. How close are we to the core?” “Close.”

Pg. 30

“Then go for it. If they’re carrying torpedoes, our turrets should take care of them.” “I know that. But if they have missiles loaded instead?” “Uh....then we might have trouble.” “You have a propensity for understatement.” Giselle’s armor was in tatters from that re-entry. One missile and they would be merely more scattered debris around Eridani. “Don’t forget about Príncipe,” Slap’s voice interrupted. “He’s—” “Keep quiet—this will likely get sticky,” Tristan snapped. He slowed more, using both instruments and sight to align to the core. “Carter, you’re secured?” “Affirmative, Sir.” “Force shield is in place,” Tristan said for the cowboy’s sake. “Decompressing...” He watched the read-out, waiting, then said, “Opening fore hatch door.” Tristan nudged Giselle ahead with a tap on the thrusters. The core disappeared under the ship. It was all instruments now. Several chooms echoed through the hull—another sign of Giselle’s damage; they wouldn’t normally hear anything—and the subsequent whine from the capacitors told Tristan the turrets were firing at the same time he saw it on the panel. “We’re under attack.” “Almost got it, Captain.” “Get a move on, Carter.”

“Go to it, then. Let me know when you’re ready.” # Slap leaned over Tristan’s shoulder as they prepared to take off. “Strap in.” The cowboy shook his head. “I’m going to stay with Príncipe and try to keep him calm.” Tristan hesitated. “There’s no place to strap in down there.” “If it’s safe enough for him, it’s safe enough for me.” Slap strode out. Tristan sighed and checked the instruments one last time. He hit the comm. “Ready, Carter?” The engineer was suited up and secured to a strap-down point in the fore cargo bay. “Yes, Sir.” “Are you in the cargo bay, Slap?”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
“Almost there...” The ships were spiraling around Giselle like vultures. A new blip appeared on his screen. Tristan looked out to see another interceptor approaching, arcing to a position in front of the cargo ship. It began to maneuver to face the cargo ship for a nose-to-nose confrontation. Its pilot was no fool; he was in the ship’s centerline—the one small dead spot for the turrets. Tristan could see the pilot grin malevolently through the clear canopy of the cockpit. Intimidation? Some sort of psychological warfare? These interceptors carried their weapons externally—this one was not carrying mere torpedoes! Tristan’s insides turned to jelly. The pilot lifted a gloved, splayed hand and pulled in his thumb... What was he doing? First finger... Counting down! Tristan activated the controls for the newly installed particle beams and his breath caught as a red light blinked—disabled. Why are the particle beams offline?  Second finger. —No time! Tristan hit the switches to raise a force shield across the open bay access and close the hatch at the same time. Third finger.... Six seconds to close the door! “Carter—we’re leaving now!” Fourth finger. Ignoring Carter’s questioning voice, he activated the jump drive. As the jump whirled in his brain and body, Tristan closed his eyes in horror. Had the force shield held against the negative energy field of the jump, or did he just kill Slap and Carter? Jump completed, Tristan checked status of the cargo bay. Intact—hatch and all. He lowered the force shields and bolted out of the bridge like hell’s fury. He grabbed the side rail of the ladder and slid down it like a pole, surprising Slap who stood at the horse’s head, talking to the stupid creature. Tristan’s leg throbbed from the landing, but he was too enraged to care. He stormed forward, teeth clenched, and grabbed Carter by the neck. “Why aren’t the particle beams working?” “I had to use the power taps on the jump capacitor chargers,” the engineer squeaked. “It was the only way to get one working.” “One?” “We’ve only got the one capacitor right now.” “You should have told me. I nearly killed us trying to face off an interceptor carrying missiles!” Carter’s face blanched. “That’s why you jumped with the door barely shut! I—I’m sorry.” Tristan released Carter with a shove and walked away. # Slap murmured to Príncipe to reassure him as Tristan climbed the ladder. When the stallion’s ears quit flicking back, he ambled over to Carter. “Don’t let his bark bother you.” Carter gave him a small, edged smile.

Pg. 31
“I screwed up.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the computer core. “Maybe I can make it up to him with this. I better get to work.” Slap nodded and returned to Príncipe. He couldn’t just keep him tethered; he had to corral him somehow. He didn’t think Tristan would like it if the horse decided to walk all over his exercise equipment, or worse, leave a present. He thought a moment—the cargo nets and straps; they could serve as fencing. But he’d also need something to use as a trough. And to put the feed in. He scratched his head.

# Tristan closed the access panel and sighed. What a mess. Was there one system on the ship not affected by his insane rescue flight? He rubbed his forehead. What he needed was a drink. A hot tisane would be perfect. And, surely, if any place on the ship was intact, it was the galley. He started across the cargo bay and stopped dead. That horse was drinking water out of—a piece of protective casing for one of the particle beam cannons! With a growl, he scrambled up the ladder. He hit the chime on Slap’s door and heard a muffled, “Yeah?” He entered and halted as he heard Slap mumbling in a drone. The cowboy was reading something from his console, but Tristan could only make out bits and pieces of it. The slump of Slap’s shoulders drained his ire over the casing. Whatever happened to Slap on Eridani

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
had defeated him. He was withdrawn, barely talking, and then, mostly to the horse. Tristan had failed him. He should have gotten there sooner, found him sooner... He took a breath to chase away his guilt and stepped closer to listen. “...livestock cannot enter Three Systems without a Permit to Import....Guild & Merchant Ordinance #453A requires...health standards necessitate....vaccinations and veterinary certification...subject to quarantine for a minimum of...valid certificates issued by the exporting planet’s government declaring...” Slap dropped his head into his hands and groaned. “What is it?” Tristan asked. “I’m trying to make sure Príncipe is safe to take to Zenos, for his sake, and the planet’s.” Tristan nodded. The Separatists were sticklers for environmental safety. He should have realized Slap wouldn’t just take the horse home without going through the precautions necessary. Diseases, parasites—who knew what pathogens the horse might bring to the planet, or what on Zenos might affect the stallion either. “I take it the bureaucracy is overwhelming?” “Even normally it’s hard. The Guilds’n’Merchants try to make it hard on us. Several of us went in together to import a bull. I paid half, and two others paid a fourth each of the costs. I got to keep him, but they had rights to him every year. Plus we made money hiring him out.” Slap grinned briefly. “Petty was a busy bull.” The cowboy leaned back in the chair and shook his head. “But I don’t have the proper documentation from the ‘exporting planet.’ I’m roped and tied tighter’n a calf at brandin’ time.” Tristan sat on the edge of the desk. “Do you have any options?” “Nope. I don’t have a bill of sale, even.” Slap spun and looked up at Tristan plaintively. “I didn’t steal him! The priests who were supposed to take care of him couldn’t get close. They’d moved him once to a safer place, but he’d gotten so riled by the noise and fighting nearby they couldn’t catch him to move him again. Things were getting so dangerous, and they asked me to take him. The one said, the emperor is dead, a god should have him. I didn’t argue.” Tristan nodded. “We’ll find a way to get him home for you. But—” he glared at Slap. “You cannot use the protective casing of the particle beam cannons for the horse’s food and water.” Slap’s mouth fell open. “Er, oh. Is that what that is?” Tristan had the urge to slap his forehead. “Just find something else. Ask Carter or me if you aren’t sure.” He let the door close and crossed to the galley. Tisane—he’d had a small supply left. Hopefully Carter didn’t like herbal infusions. He set the kettle on the induction hob and hit the switch. Tisane must be made the oldfashioned way. He measured the herbs into a pot and glanced at the hob. Frowning, he gingerly touched the kettle. Cold. What—?

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A quick examination found the problem. Carter had purloined power taps again. This was the end—if a man couldn’t even have a hot drink! He strode out of the galley in search of the engineer, but slowed. No, Carter was only doing what was necessary; several nonessential systems or equipment were out of commission for now. He would find out from Carter what power taps could be borrowed temporarily. He would have his tisane! # Slap kicked the covers off, draped an arm across his eyes, and tried again to fall asleep. Eridani was past; Nadi was dead. He was safely back on ol’ Bertha, and he had Príncipe. He was going home soon. So why couldn’t he sleep? Yeah, he’d had a bad time, but not as bad as losing Shallah and Evan and Ol’ Pa. Except... memories flooded his mind, and shame rose. He fought down the bile, but it won. He made it to the head just in time, and despite the facilities not being created to handle vomit as such, they did an adequate job. When his stomach finally stopped heaving, he stayed still for a long time, shivering. He longed for a wet cloth to wipe his face. He stumbled to the galley, thankfully not running into either Tristan or Carter, and washed his face with cool water. Slap then descended to the cargo bay and made sure Príncipe was all right. He rubbed between the stallion’s eyes with his knuckles. “We’re going home soon, boy,” he murmured. “You’ll like it. We’ll be better then.”

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
He leaned into Príncipe, pressing his face into the horse’s neck, and inhaling deeply. The smell of horse. The smell of home. # Tristan brought his steaming cup into the lounge and sat with Slap and Carter. Slap’s eyes still seemed haunted. He wasn’t eating, just pushing the food around the plate with his fork. Tristan fought down his sense of guilt and asked, “So, Carter, where do you suggest we go for repairs?” The engineer tapped a finger on the table absently. “The Aries Station is a good one. It’s not far from Three Systems, and it’s out of bounds of both the Xanthus Commonwealth and the Eridani Sovereign Union.” He stopped and grinned. “Think they’ll change the name again, now that they no longer have an emperor?” Tristan snorted. “Oh, they’ll soon have a new emperor, if he hasn’t proclaimed himself to be one yet. Or a god directly. That priest Kebba knows what he’s doing.” Slap scratched his ear. “But I don’t get why the people wouldn’t understand what the priests are up to. They know now their emperor was no god. Why would they just accept another man who says he’s a god? Don’t they want the truth?” “But that system of belief is all they know,” Carter said, shaking his head. “Most of them are very ignorant.” “That wouldn’t matter anyway. Most people aren’t interested in truth.” Tristan paused and sipped his tisane, then added, “Unless it’s convenient or advantageous.” Carter opened his mouth but stopped and closed it again, looking pensive. Slap shook his head. “I’d think folks would want the truth.” Tristan set his cup down into a retaining slot and flipped the cap shut. Drink bulbs would be easier; he’d have to pick up some. He met Slap’s eyes. “Pardon me for repeating a famous—or infamous—quote, but ‘what is truth?’” The cowboy stared at Tristan. Finally, he said, “What do you believe?” “What do I believe about what?” “About...about God, I guess.” Carter sat back, the weathered skin around his eyes crinkling slightly, but he didn’t deign to smile. Tristan felt his spine straighten and his mouth tighten but reminded himself Slap was really only a kid. Tread lightly. “Belief doesn’t validate a claim of truth. However, in my experience, whatever the truth is, men have twisted it until it’s unrecognizable.” Tristan thought of the competing religions within his childhood subculture. What is truth? He swallowed. Other  than  the  fact  I  have  a  black,  damned  soul, I don’t know. “So you don’t believe there’s a God?” Tristan inhaled sharply. “I believe we need to get this ship to a facility for repairs.” He turned his attention to Carter, dismissing Slap and his topic. “Aries, you said?”

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“Yes, Sir. For the necessary repairs, anyway. A refit would take too long with Príncipe to consider. He’s going to get restless in such a confined space.” Tristan sipped the tisane and said nothing— back to the horse and its sensibilities again. “But you could get the hull and armor done, plus that landing strut, and uh,” Carter cleared his throat with a nervous glance at Tristan’s cup, “get the parts to get the power grid working.” “By all means, let’s get the grid up to one hundred percent,” Tristan said dryly. “However, she doesn’t need a complete refit.” “Pretty close to it, Sir. But, for what you need right now, Aries fits the bill.” “Fine. Their black market is excellent. I should be able to pick up a good price for that core.” “Aries also has veterinarian quarantine,” Slap put in. “That’s usually where Three Systems’ livestock comes through.” “Granted,” Carter said, gazing at Slap with a frown, “you want to be careful—that’s your upbringing, and I respect that. But aren’t animals illegally brought to Zenos all the time? I mean, what stops a ship from landing just anywhere?” “The patrol tries to stop any illegal landings, like anywhere else, but it’s done.” Slap scowled, tapping his fork on the plate. “And we’ve had some plagues from it. But that’s why I want to be careful. It’s not just for Príncipe’s sake.” “Then, Aries it is.” Tristan peered at Carter.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
“Now, what about you? With your engineer skills, why are you worried about that tag?” Carter smiled. “Well, I’m no doctor. But I can find one to remove the tag now that I’m off Dulesh.” “And change your identity again, no doubt. What if Kane puts out a legal screamer on you?” “I already have to avoid any identity scans—my retina, DNA, everything is on file and might still be screamered by the Confeds, despite my ‘death.’” “The real reason you couldn’t just leave.” Tristan nodded as Carter’s smile grew. “Well, I’m going to contact Kane, once we sell the core, and pay him off. If he doesn’t want to legally release you, I’ll remind him that Confederation agents aren’t smiled upon in the Xanthus Commonwealth.” “He’s not an agent, but he does pass them information.” “Only for a price, I’m sure.” Tristan replied dryly. “But do you think the Xanthian government cares for semantics?” Carter’s lopsided grin widened. “Captain, remind me to never get on your bad side. But thank you for your help.” “Without yours, I don’t know if I could have gotten onto Eridani Prime—at least, not in anything near a timely manner.” Tristan cut his eyes to Slap, who seemed preoccupied. “Although still not timely enough.” Tristan stood. “I will need a list of parts from you, Carter, and one from you, Slap, for supplies. As well as any information I might need to facilitate getting your horse back to Zenos in good health. Get to work, gentlemen.” # Aries Station was, as usual, lucrative. His cargo from Dulesh—both hidden and official— had sold, as had the core. However, the space station, as usual, gave him the feeling he needed to watch his back. And Slap was getting more and more agitated. He knew they had to depart soon. By ship’s time, his two companions should be in bed, but as he suspected, they were in the lounge. Carter was eating, but Slap merely stared into space. “How go the repairs?” Tristan asked from the doorway. “Good,” Carter replied, smiling. “The crews should be finished with armor repairs by tomorrow. And I should be done in a day or two.” “Good,” Tristan echoed. “We’ll be leaving as soon as everything is completed.” With a flourish, he tossed a chit at Carter, who managed to make a clumsy catch—hand against chest, and set the other one on the table in front of Slap. “I sold the core. This is the cut for each of you. I took out the costs of repairs first, so it’s not as much as it could have been.” Carter slid his through the reader of the console on a nearby table and whistled. “Captain, this is too much!”

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“A pirate captain shares equally with his crew or there will be mutiny,” Tristan replied, eyeing Slap. He hadn’t picked up the chit. Carter grinned. “You consider us freebooters?” “Not really. We don’t raid ships—or commit any of the subsequent atrocities. But we’re on the dark side of legal.” “So are some of the galactic governments. But back to this,” Carter held up the chit. “The sharing equally is a crock.” He paused and grinned. “Sir.” “Depends on the captain. This is my way of doing things.” Carter shrugged. Tristan cut his eyes to Slap. “And I have to disagree. The galactic governments are all strictly legal—from their own standpoint.” “Well, then, their morality is questionable.” Slap snorted. Tristan and Carter both looked at him and exchanged glances. Tristan changed the subject. “I also have the veterinary certificates you need, Slap. Apparently, the priests did a good job keeping that beast of yours as healthy as possible. He passed the health examination, so he’s safe to be taken to Zenos, and he’s had all his inoculations, so Zenos is safe for him.” Slap perked up a bit. The cowboy had all but wrung his hands when the veterinarian had come aboard to examine the animal, and hung over the man incessantly until Tristan dragged

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
him away. “Of course, he won’t pass the legal requirements for importation,” Tristan continued, “but I can land you wherever you want.” “The patrol will be on your tail, but I know you and Bertha can handle it. Thanks.” The cowboy actually essayed a small smile. Tristan pushed the chit at him. “And don’t forget this. It’s yours—and no argument!” He finished as Slap opened his mouth. He turned back to Carter. “Are you going with us to Zenos?” Carter hesitated. “Do you foresee you’ll need me?” Tristan narrowed his eyes. “That sounds like a tactful way of intimating you are saying good-bye.” Carter chuckled. “Yeah, I guess it is. I enjoy traveling with you, and maybe we’ll meet again one day, but this is the closest I’ve been to really being free in many years. I’d like to try it out. So I’ll be staying here on Aries. I can catch a ship, or”—he held up the chit—“buy one.” Tristan nodded. # Slap patted Príncipe’s neck, murmuring to him, telling him—again—about his new home. “Soon, boy, you’ll get to see it. Wide open skies, and ground with grass on it. You’ll like that. Not sand everywhere you look. Real soon, now...” Carter sauntered over, wiping his hands on a cloth. “Hey, Slap. I officially just got the last of the repairs done. We need to celebrate. Let’s all go to a restaurant. Be a change from the packaged rations we’ve been eating. There are a few good restaurants on Aries.” “I dunno.” Slap dropped his gaze, while his fingers played through the hair of the stallion’s mane. “I think I druther stay here.” “You’ve been cooped up here since we arrived. Come on.” Slap shook his head. Carter stared at him for a few moments before saying, “I know you had some rough times on Eridani, and you’ve wanted to be left alone to sort through things. But sometimes being alone ends up being in a rut, and you sink into it, rather than work your way out of it. Just one hour.” “But—” “As a good-bye meal, since you’ll be leaving tomorrow. I’m packed and have a hostel room already. This is the last you’ll see of my homely face.” Slap smiled at Carter’s attempt at humor. “All right.” # Slap took in the sight of Aries Station with wide eyes. In design, it looked like Perseus Station, that first space station where Tristan had tried to dump Slap. But this place bore little resemblance once in the civilian ring, other than the crush of people—human and alien.

Pg. 35
Perseus had been pristine, like it was brand new, although Slap knew all the stations had been around between half to a standard century. Aries seemed seedy by comparison. The structure appeared sound, but it lacked the attention to detail. Perseus had fancy wall tiles and bright paints. Aries was a dull metal, almost unfinished-looking. Kiosks littered the concourse in a hodgepodge fashion, and the inner wall that had contained neat shops, restaurants, and hostels on Perseus was filled with bars and—Slap blushed—brothels with girls in windows, displaying their...wares. The restaurant Tristan took them to was on an upper level with one curved, clear wall displaying the space kept safely at bay. Slap was glad Tristan wasn’t one to chatter on, and— although Carter usually was, he made surprisingly little small talk. Slap managed to eat and did admit—to himself—that Carter was right. Getting out had helped. A little. The three left the restaurant, and Carter said good-bye, wishing them both well. With a nod, he sauntered off. Slap sighed and followed Tristan. Once back on the main concourse, they encountered the crowds of passengers, tourists, and hawkers. Slap wove with Tristan through the press. A girl barely more dressed than those in the brothel windows bumped into him. She looked up and smiled—a feral smile reminding him of Nadi. His stomach turned, and he shuddered and broke out in a cold sweat. With a convulsive gulp, he pushed her away and rushed ahead. I won’t throw up! I won’t throw up! He broke into a run, his stomach still

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Deuces Wild, Chapter 13: “Full Circle” by L. S. King
threatening to upheave, and didn’t stop until he was aboard Bertha. He hurried to Príncipe, taking deep breaths, and buried his face in the horse’s neck. To catch up on previous episodes of the adventures of Slap and Tristan, visit:

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She began martial arts training over thirty  years ago, and owned a karate school for  http://loriendil.com/DW.php a  decade.  When  on  the  planet,  she  lives  in Delaware with her husband, Steve, and He heard his friend come up behind him. Deuces Wild is dedicated to the memory of their  youngest  child.  She  enjoys  gardenWithout turning, he said, “Take me home, my best friend; my inspiration for an enduring ing,  soap  making,  and  reading.  She  also  Tristan. Please!” friendship... likes Looney Tunes, the color purple, and # http://loriendil.com/Starsky/ is a Zorro aficionado, which might explain  her love for swords and cloaks. Tristan watched the forlorn-looking figure
holding the stallion’s mane and waving as he took off. The cowboy was back at the mouth of the valley where his home had been. He wished he could have done more, but what else was there to do?

L. S. King
A science fiction fan since childhood, L.S.  King  has  been  writing  stories  since  her  youth. Now, with all but one of her children  grown,  she  is  writing  full-time.  She  has developed a sword-and-planet series tentatively called The Ancients. The first  book  is  finished,  and  she  has  completed  rough  drafts  of  several  more  novels  as  well.  She serves on the editorial staff of The Sword Review, is also their Columns Editor, and writes a column for that magazine entitled  “Writer’s Cramps” as well. She is also one  of the Overlords, a founding editor, here at  Ray Gun Revival.

Giselle rose and banked west, and he set course for Zanti City where he and Slap first met. He’d refuel and see if he could get cargo. And find out what was left of the Mordas; perhaps he could give them another punch in the stomach before he left. And then—he would head into space and be by himself again. That was, after all, what he had wanted.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007

Jolly RGR

The RGR Space Monkey Flash Fiction Challenge

Pg. 37

A

s a special treat, we’re rolling out something special, the Ray Gun Revival Space Monkey Flash Fiction Challenge.

Good Eatin’ by Johne Cook
Baxter made a good meal. He and Jill ate well on the remote space station, but he always made too much food. By now, they were the only two remaining. Kumquats, tube sirloin, and real hydro tomatoes; the guys in Houston said they didn’t eat so well. That was before their signal went dead. Now it was just him, and her, and the kumquats.

They were kind of funny. As Baxter got closer, he found what remained of Jill. It looked like Baxter had made too much yet again. One of them saw Baxter and brandished a cheesy plastic raygun in an awkward simian paw. Its aim was not effective, pointing the weapon at Baxter’s head, but melting the “You are here” display in middle of the corridor instead.

The rules are simple: craft a flash fiction story of between 250 - 500 words and submit them through the Submissions queue—the Author - Artist Tools link on the forums page when you are logged in with “Space Monkey Flash Fiction” in the Subtitles field.

“That was rude,” muttered Baxter. He You have one month to get them in, No one knows where the space darted forward and wrested the weapon and then 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place will be awarded in the August 15th issue. Each monkeys came from, with their lumi- from its hairy grasp, and stepped back. of the top three will receive the same nescent fur and swirling eyes. Their “Take this, you damned dirty monkey,” $5 award, however, we will provide saucer docked and they gained entrance he said, and started to pull the trigger. distinguished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place without an authorization code. That Turns out, their teeth were more RGR badges that you can put on your was the first of many mysteries. website or blog. Jill went to investigate, but Baxter effective than their aim. They leapt forward and ate the gun right out of his

I have to give Taylor Kent props for this idea—he was the one who got me started thinking about this some months ago, and I took a swing at it then. I wrote this little bit of doggerel in about 45 minutes, and I’m only a little offended at how awful it turned out.

stayed behind to mind his cooking.

Jill hadn’t returned by lunchtime, so Baxter rinsed his favorite ladle and went looking for her. He turned a corner and saw a crowd of the creatures fighting over something on the floor. They seemed glad to be able to stretch all their many limbs.

hand. Startled, Baxter turned to run. Baxter made a good meal.

Ray Gun Revival magazine

Issue 25, July 01, 2007