SF Drabble #380 “The Usual Suspects”

I never really understood it.

They rounded up the Drugborn precogs — the ones who’d gotten the talent from a massive dose of K-459 — in days, mostly because they had no place to hide: you could tell them on sight from the skin discoloration, and from the eyes.

But with the second-generation precogs, the inheritors, there aren’t any physical tells. They could blend in, hide among the genpop, hide in plain sight. But they found ‘em.

Then I realized: they’ve got Drugborn talent-sniffers. They’ve got some formula that lets you feel or smell or see or hear the talent.

SF Drabble #379 “Recognition”

“What is that?”

Forsythe glanced up from his Pad long enough to follow the driver’s outstretched finger. “That is a Yourian female. Don’t point.”


“The little ones are her kids? Her… young?”

“No, in fact the smaller Yourians are males. One is probably her husband and the others are in her husband’s employ. Or hers, for that matter, though given the sexism in Yourian society that’s less likely.”

“Oh.” The driver ruminated. “How do you know all this stuff?”

“One learns on the job. I’ve been at it quite some time.” Forsythe laughed. “So long it almost seems normal.”

SF Drabble #378 “Airlock”

“What’s through there? My disc won’t open this door…”

The Polixaci crewman glanced at the hatch, and answered through his translator, “Your Ident Disc is functioning correctly: the hatch you indicate leads to a section of compartments optimized for methane-breathers. Do you have some business within?”

“No, no. Just exploring the ship. You know, playing tourist.”

“If you entered that area, your lungs would be destroyed and you would die.”


The crewman moved to leave, but paused and added, “Additionally, Some hatches lead to the vacuum of space. If your disc restricts access, it is for safety reasons.”


SF Drabble #377 “Adrift”

We find them all the time: cryo-stasis escape pods from late in the war, floating out in the cometary belt. Our metal detectors will go nuts, we’ll think we’ve struck pay dirt, and there they’ll be.

Half the time they’re amazed they’re alive. After this long, I’m not surprised. Last week we found a guy from the same ship as a guy I picked up on my first job out, twenty years ago.

We don’t make much on the salvage, after fuel costs: you have to run them back to Earth, by law.

Sometimes we don’t bother picking them up.

SF Drabble #376 “I Hate My Ex”

She was like a fish already, back on Earth. Where other people jogged or went to the gym, or Pilates, she swam. Had a lifetime membership at the neighborhood pool.

When the opening at the embassy on Isle came up, she was first to apply; she was chosen immediately.

Isle is ninety-six percent water. The one land mass, where the embassy is, is in the tropical zone. The temperature never gets above ninety-five or below seventy Fahrenheit. The locals are all ocean-dwellers as friendly as your average trained dolphin and she hasn’t worn more than a bikini in five months.

SF Drabble #375 “Academic Probation”

The boy sat, sullen, staring at his shoes, waiting for the yelling to begin. Only when he finally realized none was forthcoming, and raised his head, did the headmaster speak.

“Peter, why are you here? On Mars, I mean?”

The boy only shrugged, but again the headmaster waited. “My parents came. I don’t have any choice.”

“Now, that’s not true: you could have filed for emancipation, you were old enough.”

Another shrug.

“I guess what I’m trying to ask is, you could have been a lazy, good-for-nothing wastrel on Earth; why come all the way out here to do it?”

SF Drabble #374 “Apprentice”

The Vylid boatman waved him on board, and he found a spot on the bench between to other, older, humans.

“First time out?” asked one, amusement obvious in his tone.

“Yes, sir—”

“I’m no ‘sir’. Vylids are ‘sir’. I’m Ray.”

The boy nodded acknowledgement. “I’m Wynn.”

The steam-runner pulled away from the dock and immediately began putting on speed seaward. The upper domes of the Buol cities were already visible, rising out of the fog.

“What do you think they’re like?”

"The man laughed. “Does it matter? You’ll never meet one. You’d drown trying. Just work hard, don’t get noticed.”