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Story Excerpts

Burning the Ladder

by Adam-Troy Castro

Illustrated by Kurt Huggins 

Ambassador Porleth Heng considered herself a blessed woman.

Unlike most members of the Confederate Diplomatic Corps, who had indentured themselves to that service out of economic hardship or an ache to escape the terrible conditions on their respective home worlds, she’d been born into wealth on a paradise planet and had no pressing reason to seek advancement for its own sake. She’d just wanted the leadership position she was entitled to, one where she could control people and show how superior she was to them.

With the support of powerful friends, she had built her rise in the Confederate Diplomatic Corps on a series of unchallenging but high-prestige appointments to alien worlds where the local politics were peaceful, the local weather pleasant, and the local stance toward humanity kind and indulgent. READ MORE


Simple Pleasures

by Bud Sparhawk

The sharp ozone scent of a coming storm was in the air as Jake opened the door of the shed to let Chessie, his retriever, run free. That done, he used the remaining water from the pail at the side of the sink for his morning ablutions; mostly scrapping a razor across the sparse stubble on his cheek and rubbing a toothbrush around his mouth for a bit. “Better hair on my back than my chin nowadays,” he mused as he ran the razor a second time along his jawline.

“Come on, boy,” he shouted as he picked up the now empty pail and started untying Mariah, his poor excuse for a punt. Chessie trotted up and gingerly stepped onto the craft, tipping the boat’s bare three inches of freeboard dangerously close to the waterline. READ MORE

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