“Time Bomb Time” originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Lightspeed Magazine. It was reprinted in Rich Horton’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016 and translated into Chinese by Geng Hui (耿辉) for ZUI Found (文艺风赏) in June 2015.
The sharp scent of ozone–sudden like heartbreak, raw as a panic attack–filled Hannah’s dorm room, from the paper-swamped desk across her rumpled bed to the window overlooking the quad. The lights flickered. Her heart skipped a beat.
“God damn it.” She prodded Nolon’s foot with the toe of her shoe. She wanted to kick him. “Tell me what you just did.”
“Nothing.” He was leaning over the weird device from his lab, tapping a code on the keypad.
“What are you doing now?” Anger pushed at the edges of her voice, but she held it in check. She wanted him to leave, but she didn’t want to upset him.
“Don’t worry so much–nobody’s going to get hurt.” He pressed his shoulder against her, didn’t even have to push–she flinched and bumped into the wall. He laughed at her, like it was a joke. “It’s not a time bomb.” (Continue Reading…)
Caliban cycles the captain out the airlock again. The man pounds his fists against the sealed door, mouth working in a torrent of curses and commands. The seals keep the blessed silence contained in the ship.
Once the captain is adrift, Caliban returns to the cockpit and plugs itself into the console.
::Command confirmed,:: says the ship.
“Diagnostic,” Caliban says. Its central processor does not have the capacity for multi-dimensional calculations about an unknown space-time anomaly. Besides, the ship—a Huxley-class freighter dubbed Leigh Possum—likes to assist.
::Reset in three minutes and fifteen seconds.::
Caliban sighs. It’s one of the little pleasures left to it: it is a salvage cyborg, named after a monster, enchained in a spaceship with a useless captain. It has one artificial lung, one organic lung, and a voice-box wired up its throat. It is supposed to look human, and humans sigh, and Caliban likes the feel of air pushed out through its esophagus.
“I’ve called you here, tonight, to consider a hypothesis.”
Four faces looked up from the conference table below. Arvin and Kim sat on Jerry’s right hand. Facing them were Chris Lister and Marjorie Cheong, two computer scientists who handled the hardware setup and modeling software. Jerry waited to see how they’d respond.
They didn’t. The conference room was a scene of utter silence. As Jerry had expected.
“I want to run through this together,” Jerry said. “Now, be candid. Don’t hold back. If I’m right, we might have an answer to the problems we’ve been seeing. Questions?”
Arvin raised a hand.
“I have a question, Doctor Emery. Um–what happened to you?”
Jerry was taken aback. “Pardon?”
The young man dropped his hand. “You must have gotten engaged or something, right? Or you got a dog? Something’s changed.”
Jerry hesitated. After driving to the compound, this latest time through the loop, he’d grabbed Arvin’s hand and effectively dragged him to the institute. Jerry had done the same with Kim, then gone on to collect Chris and Marjorie, the only other colleagues who were still in the office. Upon recruiting these followers, Jerry had made sure to keep them in sight. No one was going to disappear on him tonight.
News release and academic paper about Zelomorpha effugia – the parasitic wasp species discovered in Costa Rica and named in honor of Escape Pod in July 2019.
(Effugia – plural of effugium: 1: an escape, flight; 2: a means or way of escape)
Lab B-15 (Part 1 of 2)
By Nick Wolven
The young man was sitting outside the parking garage, and right away Jerry thought that was weird. This was the Arizona desert, middle of summer. People didn’t sit outside. They especially didn’t sit outside ugly parking garages, on strips of hot concrete, with no grass in sight.
The boy was Arvin Taylor, one of the lab techs from the day shift. Not a person Jerry saw often, though technically one of his employees. He ought to be working, not lazing around outdoors.
“Arvin.” Jerry pulled up, rolled down the window. “What are you–?”
But Arvin was already hurrying toward the car.
“Doctor Emery.” All the techs addressed Jerry as “doctor.” It was something he insisted on. None of this Joe-John-Jane stuff, everyone on a first-name basis, like they were Mouseketeers or flight attendants. With the work they were doing, they couldn’t afford to be casual.
Arvin bent down, peering in the window, squinting in the sun. He was dressed professionally, but cheaply: Dockers, button shirt.
The boy must have been sitting outside for hours. His shirt was soaked with sweat. He looked woozy, sunstruck.
“I’m glad I caught you, Doctor Emery.”
“How long have you been out here, Arvin?”
“It’s really important.” The young man’s eyes slid sideways, feverish. Jerry worried he might pass out. “I have to tell you …”
And that was it. Arvin’s mouth hung open, tongue moving vaguely.
Jerry put a hand on the gearshift, a gentle reminder. He had work to do, places to be. “I’m due in the office. If I’m not mistaken, you’re supposed to be there, too. Doesn’t your shift go till six?”
Arvin wasn’t listening. His eyes had assumed a peculiar cast, half daft, half frantic, like a circuit inside him had failed to connect. “It’s about … Lab B-15.” (Continue Reading…)