"You Are Here" by Darcy Isla
Kasim jiggles at the curb, waiting for traffic to clear, then runs across and into the department store. I brace myself against the still chill of this grey country, hands in pockets and head in hood. I clutch a glossy plastic bag of new trinkets to my side. I was paid today. It is late for Christmas shoppers; I am here at the end of the rush with those who couldn't make time for such trivial things because their days were filled with more aspirational decisions. Decisions that affect whole catchment areas, whole countries.
I keep company with my reflection in the puddle. I am a middle-aged shape with the face of a child awaiting the first day back at school, in the yard listening to the cacophony of yells and laughter and a season's worth of questions - where did you get that bag, Shadi? Did you have to see your uncle, the one with the big face and hands?
I picture our flat on the nation's special day next week and watch the reflection of the sky turn mischievously bright blue, like a kid sneaking a volume dial back up when they've been told to keep it down. I think about all the things I came here to do. Think about the first days, weeks. How the months have passed. What 'long-term' looks like now. The meaning of 'comfortable'. I learn of a hole in my shoe where the puddle has crept in to remind me - you are here.
"Matagi" by Irene May Pearce
A solitary ghost from nine generations laid the bear with its head to the west and made three cuts to the liver, loins and heart. A grotesque life mount in the massage chair gestured towards bottles of ancient plum wine. Carved-up bear cousin parts lay inside the walk-in freezer. And there were boxes. Walking past the gun rack in the shower cubicle, the room known as Little China embodied a crammed street market. Strangers ventured inside, inspecting the vacant inn and what was left of an old man and his gods. Everything the forest taught him was now for sale.
"Pseudo-Science-Fiction" by Scott Steensma
In a pseudo-science-fiction universe, great pyramidal ships cross solar systems on pulsing tails of ancient Egyptian energy, leaping the void from star to star with the space-bending forces of Uri Geller drives.
On-board, advanced astrology scanners predict enemy movements, directing weaponized crystal vibrations that tear
fleets to molecules and carve gouges into worlds. When the crystal cannons fall silent, brave warriors in foil helmets teleport to battle, rooting out experts, empiricists and other deviants while distributing relief supplies of goji berries and magnetic bracelets.
As the galaxy shakes with war, brave, freethinking pseudo- scientists beat back terrifying alien plagues with spinal
realignments, robotic Reiki-docs and last-ditch intravenous flower essences. The great thinkers of the era know that there is no problem in this bright future that cannot be solved with the skilled application of hard opinion.
The triumphant forces of pseudo-science-fiction pity lesser universes, marveling at their inability to harness the exponential energies of homeopathic fuel and their refusal to acknowledge the autism-nanotech link. The mighty empires of pseudoscience plan expeditions to these other realities, hoping to bring light to worlds suffering under the tyranny of logic and evidence, sad places where only the possible, is possible.