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2013 The Aftermath

By:Shane McKenzie

2013 The Aftermath
Author:Shane McKenzie

     
Edited by Shane McKenzie & Jessy Marie Roberts


Hometown

by Ellie Garratt


Identity accepted. Thank you. Please step into the pod, and listen carefully to the following informational.



Welcome to the Hometown facility. This will be your home for the next phase of your life. Please note: phase is defined as an unknown and indeterminable period of Earth time that will be no less than one day and no greater than the natural duration of your life expectancy.



Hometown is a biometrically controlled, Earth-like replacement habitat, designed to meet your entire needs. Using nanotechnology, a reasonable facsimile of your hometown before planetary realignment-its people, wildlife, manmade and biological structures, and weather systems-has been created. Please note: whilst the biological human facsimiles contained within Hometown will look, feel, and act as those stored in yours, and other natural-born inhabitant memories, their pre-programmed characteristics and behaviors are based solely upon those memories, and as such, are subjective reproductions. We are not responsible for any errors caused by lapses, gaps, or imaginary substitutions in your memory files.



Although procreation is strongly encouraged, sexual activity of any nature with facsimiles is prohibited. Facsimiles are incapable of human reproduction, and as such, any reproductive activity is wasted energy. To identify a facsimile, please look for a red cross on the top of their left hand. Please note: any breach of these rules will result in immediate ejection from the Hometown facility. Should you find it difficult to control yourself around facsimiles of persons with which you were intimate with prior to planetary realignment, please request their immediate termination via one of the facility's control pods.



Though facsimiles of natural-born inhabitants over the age of 45 have been provided, no natural-born inhabitant over this age, or those under the age of 45 and infertile, will be permitted entrance to a Hometown facility. Testing during your screening process has indicated that you are still capable of reproduction.



Due to various cultural and religious differences, there are numerous Hometowns within this facility. No two Hometowns are the same, and it is expressly forbidden for natural-born inhabitants to leave their own Hometown, enter into, or attempt to communicate with another Hometown. By entering into this Hometown you are indicating acceptance of its rules, cultural and religious practices, and surrendering freedom of geographical movement for this phase of your life.



To ensure that the historical, cultural, and religious practices of natural-born inhabitants are not exposed to, or influenced by, an alien presence, no direct contact between the facilities keepers and natural-born inhabitants is permitted. Should you wish to bring to our attention any matter pertaining to life within your Hometown, please use a pod auditory communication channel.



Every endeavour will be made to keep this facility on Earth, your indigenous planet, whilst our teams complete planetary stabilization, and work to restore a safe ecosystem. However, should this endeavour prove too costly, or this facility come under threat from other natural-born inhabitants, or an as yet unknown force, this facility will be relocated to another suitable planetary body of our choosing. Please note: there is no limit to the number of times this facility may be moved during your natural life expectancy, and should ejection from this facility prove impossible due to external environmental factors, termination of a natural-born inhabitant will be considered. A choice of termination methods will be offered.



Should you expire from natural causes before a safe ecosystem has been established, or found, your remains will be disposed of via your indicated religious and cultural practices. However, for reasons of space and sanitation, this will be done outside of the Hometown facility. Should you expire en route to another planetary body, your remains will be disposed of in space.



Thank you for listening to this informational, and for choosing this facility. The yellow door to the right of you will open in 30 seconds, and will remain open for 30 minutes. Should you choose not to enter the Hometown facility; survival rations for 30 Earth days will be provided.



Make the right choice; become part of the 2013 program to repopulate your species.





About the author:



Ellie Garratt lives in the UK. She enjoys writing speculative fiction, and has been published in several anthologies, including Static Movement's Flash!, Pill Hill Press's Haunted, and Six Sentence's The Mysterious Dr. Ramsey. She blogs at www.elliegarratt.blogspot.com.





Native Son



by C. Douglas Birkhead





"What day is it?" Sam Breaux wiped the sticky sweat from his forehead with the sleeve of his flight suit. The sun was finally setting but the muggy Louisiana evening still felt oppressive.



"It's Friday, Major Breaux." The female voice of the ship's computer, orbiting miles above, echoed in his head.



"Tell you what, Eve, why don't you start calling me Sam." The astronaut bent over and put his hands on his knees trying to fight through the misery of the heat. Even though Sam grew up in New Orleans, he had become accustomed to a pleasant climate controlled environment after spending the last six months aboard the Discovery.



"I've always addressed you by your military rank."



"I don't think there's a military left to care what you call me. It's a pretty safe bet that I'm a civilian now."



Sam stared down Bourbon Street and shook his head. Before he left, he could have never imagined it being deserted on a Friday night. Most weekends, it was packed with boisterous tourists and quirky locals all reveling in the festive ambience of the city's unique culture. On this day, however, the street was quiet. Every bar, restaurant, and trinket shop was abandoned. He walked to the dusty window of a favorite tavern, known for its authentic jazz music, and peered inside. Wooden chairs were turned upside down and resting on tabletops. On the empty stage sat a quartette of instruments waiting to be played. The bar at the far end of the building was clean, the stools neatly arranged along the front.



He stepped back onto the dirty street and whispered, "Where the hell did everyone go?"



"I don't know, Sam. It's very strange."



"Of all places, I was sure someone would be here."



"I'm sorry, Sam, I don't have an answer for you."



As unique as the historic district was, it was the people that made the city special to him. For as long as he could remember, the French Quarter had been a place for him to go to forget his troubles and lose himself with his friends. As an undergraduate at Tulane, before he met Charlotte, it was the bars and women that motivated him. In later years, before she died, the couple enjoyed strolling down the musty streets watching the tourists and odd locals. Some evenings they would park themselves in one of the many jazz clubs and lose themselves in the music. The French Quarter had always hummed with unique energy that fueled enigmatic locals who were just as much a part of the city's flavor as the distinctive architecture and culture.



Sam sighed as he realized that all of it was gone forever. What stood around him was as far removed from what had been as a museum display recreating a scene from some ancient civilization.



Sam sat down and leaned against a weathered black and white street sign. He had been walking all day and his body ached from the effort. He closed his eyes and reflected on how much his life had changed in three years. Not long after Charlotte was killed in the accident, he accepted the offer to join the Discovery project. With no family, he was an ideal candidate to test the new propulsion system. Sam would pilot a Discovery prototype into space at near relativistic speeds and return six months later. Of course, almost two years would pass back on Earth, but that didn't matter to Sam. He didn't really have anything left to come back to except the city that had been such a big part of his life.
     
 

     



Before he left, Sam took comfort in the fact that things never seemed to change much in New Orleans. He knew that no matter how much the world evolved in his absence, the city would always feel like home.



Sam felt a wave of grief wash over him as he began to consider what he suspected the moment they entered Earth's orbit. On their first pass around the dark side of the planet, he saw only darkness. The familiar twinkling of pinpoint lights and bright splotches of luminescence around the cities were missing.



Sam ordered Eve to make contact with Houston, but after a day of listening to static it had become clear that the worst had probably come to pass. She insisted they return to Houston, but Sam told her the plan was pointless. He explained that the only thing left to do was go home. He manually programmed the reentry vehicle to splashdown in Lake Pontchartrain, just outside of the city. In the back of his mind he had considered that it might not be safe for him to go back, but he knew that putting it off would only hasten his inevitable return. More importantly, he needed more than ever to see New Orleans again.



"Two years. It doesn't make sense."



"A lot can change in two years. Even though we were only away for six months, the ship's extreme velocity made time pass slowly relative to Earth. It may feel like 2011 to you, but it's actually 2013."

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