SF Drabble #270 “Vivarium”

There’s nothing real about him. He comes, he does what needs to be done, and he leaves. Unfailingly polite, perfectly mannered, unquestionably competent. When he leaves, the television is repaired, back to streaming a jumbled mix of 50’s and 60’s sitcoms and talk shows and movies. His builders never come into the apartments. I’m not even certain what they even look like. The windows are one-way: to me they just show an unchanging landscape.

I wonder: if I live long enough, will the television start showing programs that Earth leaked into space in the 70’s, when I was a kid?

SF Drabble #269 “I For One Welcome Our New Aquatic Overlords”

I knew he was talking even before the translation started: I could hear the Viceroy’s voice as it sympathetically vibrated the glass walls of the tank. It was a low, modulated, powerful rumble.

“You have been recommended by most trusted advisors.”

“I’m honored,” I answered, with a bow which was probably meaningless to him.

“There will be many responsibilities. The territory is a large area with many indigenous inhabitants.”

Indigenous inhabitants: that’s us. “I understand.”

“Success will be rewarded. Failure will result in the most final punishments being applied to your entire genotype.”

Not mincing words, are we? “I understand.”

SF Drabble #268 “Ramship #22”

The launch from Jupiter went off without a hitch: we emerged from the end of the accelerator rails with exactly the right course and speed, no degaussing necessary. The boosters lit and extinguished right on schedule. In a week we’ll be passing the sun, using its gravitational pull to add even more speed before finally heading into interstellar space.

The passengers were in cold-sleep before we launched, and the rest of the crew went down after the burn: only Peaches and I are needed for the Solar approach. We’ve been playing poker in the meantime. She already owes me $250.

SF Drabble #267 “Product Placement”

I subscribed to Reynolds Obbey’s lifestream. You know the actor, the one who played President Webber in that period piece about 20’s post-exceptionalist American politics? He was so good in that, made even that gasbag likeable, in an Andrew Shepherd sort of way. So earlier today, he was thinking about getting some Italian, kept imagining big steaming plates of fettuccini and soft, warm breadsticks; I started jonesing for some myself.

But then I remembered: Obbey’s lifestream is sponsored by Olive Garden. It wasn’t his real thoughts, they were just adding it in. You’ve gotta be real careful about those things.

SF Drabble #266 “Anomaly”

He had to rest, catch his breath. He touched the intercom button on the side of his helmet. “Hard to dig in this fine dust: it’s like shoveling water.”

“Yeah.” The response from his partner came after a moment. “The suit doesn’t help.”

“I bet it’s not even worth it. I bet the goddamn aliens didn’t leave—”

“Hey! Listen, you’re new, so I’ll let it slide this time, but you’re not supposed to even mention the ‘A’-word on comms. One-way ticket into a holding tank for God knows how long…”

“All right. Jeez—”

“I’m just lookin’ out for you, buddy.”

SF Drabble #265 “Sartorial”

The fabric was unbelievable. He didn’t want to ask what it was, that would make him sound provincial. He’d get back: “Sir has never worn Arcturian angel-worm silk before, I take it?”

The cut was a little looser than he’d like, but he could have it taken in. And of course two of the four sleeves would have to be removed. He turned and asked hopefully, “Do you have it in canary?”

“We can special order in any shade, of course; but we may have that in stock. What,” asked the clerk helpfully, opening the color book, “is a canary?”