The Grand Universal Singularity Resort

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Digital painting. A black hole and surrounding space. At center, a black orb almost half surrounded by a pool of glowing white and yellow seen at a bias, angled from top left to bottom right. This pool is surrounded by a hazy ring of bright orange on the same plane. Fainter and thinner rings enclose the bright orange. Small bright spots are scattered among the rings. Darkness surrounds all. A wispy beam of light bursts out from the edge of the black orb, perpendicular to the plane of the rings. At bottom left, at the farthest ring, there is a small bubble.

“Uh…my—my last job?  I used to work at the, the Outer Spiral Roadhouse.”  Rekha pulled her gaze away from the mural of the butterfly nebula that arced over the vaulted ceiling of the main concourse, and looked down at her shift partner.

“No kidding?” Lianne said. “How long did it take you come all the way here from there?”

“Oh, uh, not long.  Not long.  Took a wormhole.”

Lianne glanced over at her.  “Well, look at you, Miss Moneybags.”

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A Proximite and a Human

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Digital drawing. At middle, a human man sitting on the ground, facing forward, turned slightly to right of frame, wearing jacket, pants, and boots. His left leg is draw up and his hand rests on his knee. His right leg is extended but partially bent. A bandage is wrapped around his right thigh. His right palm is pressed to the ground beside him, supporting his weight. His face is looking down. Two characters hover beside him at the level of his head. At left, a sphere. Near the bottom of the sphere are two recesses with domed tops and flat bottoms. Within the recesses are smaller spheres, giving the effect of eyes. Next to one eye, from a circular recess, a jointed appendage made of rods and nodes extends down. Liquid leaks from two of the recesses. At right, a face divided into three parts with one eye, one nose, and a mouth on each part. Each part is elongated. Eyebrows appear both above and below each eye. Straight wrinkles appear at the forehead and on each nose.

“We’ve chosen you because you’re just a couple of ordinary transport technicians,” the unfamiliar transport chief said.  “And for one other reason.  Proximites and humans are both relatively fragile species—no offense—when it comes to space travel.  But here on solid earth…well, you’re still fragile, but you have certain qualities that come in handy should there be any problems with this particular prisoner.”

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Car Wash to the Cosmos

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Digital drawing. View inside the cabin of a car from the front passenger window. Foreground, a girl and a terrier sit in the front passenger seat, both facing forward and seen in three-quarters view. The girl, seen from shoulders up holds her left hand up to her lips. Her eyes are raised in a thoughtful expression. A braid falls over her right shoulder and over her seatbelt. She has a star sticker on her right cheek. She wears a headband with two antennae ending in balls with rings around them. Her right hand, just visible is held against the chest of the terrier who has front paws propped against the window edge, and mouth open with tongue lolling out. A man sits in the driver’s seat, both hands resting on the steering wheel. His face is seen in profile. He’s glancing over at the girl and dog with a worried expression. Moon roof is open and displays a starry view of outer space. The driver’s side window shows darkness with streaks of slight. The middle panel between the front seats shows glowing lights where the gear shift would be.

“Captain’s log…we are passing through the waterfalls of Zarqlok.”  Meena placed a finger on an empty space on the dashboard console, pretending to press a button.  A cascade of soapy water passed over the front hood of our car.

“Of what-lock?” I asked.

She glanced over at me, then faced forward again.  “D.A.D. unit appears to be malfunctioning.”

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Encounter With Ship 47

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Digital drawing. Five silhouettes against a window, all face a luminous spiraling phenomenon beyond. At top left, a human in a chair that’s hovering over the heads of the others, in partial right profile, with left hand raised to the window. Below, from right to left. A caterpillar-shaped being sitting on the window ledge, with two antennae raised to the window, tail dangling from the ledge. A being with a squid head, with five tentacles held up against the window, standing on what appears to be three knobby or segmented legs. A human standing with both hands pressed against the glass at head level. A being shaped like a central stalk with fuzzy hair at the top, two pairs of loops protruding from the sides, and knobby plumes rising from the loops. A wall to the left displays some glowing lights and panels.

“It’s my favorite chief mechanic,” the captain said.  I looked to my left and saw her smiling as she glided toward me.

“I bet you say that to all the chief mechanics,” I said, feeling the tablet tucked under my hand slide a little as sweat suddenly appeared on my fingertips.

“I do, but I only mean it when I say it to you.”

I chuckled.  We joined up and started down the main concourse, both on the way to our duties as the first shift of the day started.

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The Surgeon’s Secretary

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Digital Drawing. A woman seen from waist up, facing forward, tilted to the right, holding an open book before herself. Her right hand is visible poised over the book loosely holding a fountain pen. She’s wearing a shirt, tie, aviator’s coat, and glasses with round lenses that each completely obscure her eyes and reflect the silhouette of a woman in profile with her face and arms thrown back, her hair and clothing streaming backwards. A rainbow overlay of that same silhouette lies over the image.

“Here, you see?” the surgeon said, as he pointed with his scalpel.  “At the nexus of the heart and the brain?  Between the eyes and the throat, right at the back of the mouth, where the voice is on the verge of emerging?”

The secretary peered past the gleaming scalpel and tilted her head.  There was nothing to see at the moment, other than the expected anatomy inside the mouth.  The corpse that lay on the dissection table had been long vacated.  But the surgeon claimed that he had cut through at just the right time, the fleeting moment right after certain death. 

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Transdimensional Top Hat

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Digital drawing. A young woman at center seen from knees up, dressed in top hat, ruffled shirt, and a jacket with coattails. She stands facing forward, turned slightly to the right, arms raised and bent, hands flourished. From her right shoulder, a flock of a butterflies fly up to upper left corner, one of them perched on her right index finger. Bottom right corner, waist-high to the young woman, stands a classic style robot made out of blocks and circles, with right arm raised, see from mid-section up.

“Maybe this is my destiny,” Ro said, as she swept the top hat off the table and perched it on her head. 

She spun around to show her cousin who laughed, gave her a thumbs up, and continued browsing the crates full of old magazines.

The two were at an estate sale that had intrigued Ro because it was for the former belongings of a magician. 

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Flight of the Stegosaur

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Digital drawing. Hovering in the sky, left side view of a stegosaur-like dinosaur with a bulky body, claw-like toes, bony spikes on its tail, a long neck, protruding snout and bony plates along its back. The dinosaur’s mouth is open in what appears to be a smile, eye looking at the viewer. From within the middle of the bony plates there emerge pairs of delicate veined wings like those of a fly or beetle

The stegosaur watched the beetle flick open its hard outer wings and extend the flight wings underneath.  She watched the beetle launch himself into the air and hover, floating to and fro before he droned away.  She watched in study of the beetle’s ability.  And she watched in envy of the beetle’s ability.

She heard pebbles shifting behind her, but she did not turn.

“You’re looking in the wrong direction,” a voice said.

The stegosaur smiled and swung her head around. 

“If you want to fly, there’s the way,” said the little limusaurus.  She tossed her head back as she strode over to the stegosaur.

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The Lunarian

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Digital drawing. Center, a woman seen from back, stands with hands clasped behind her back. Her face is turned so her right profile is visible. She has long hair, curled at the ends, and she wears a hooded dress coat. Her entire form appears silvery. Before her is a neon pink cloud. A glittering streak of light shoots directly up from the cloud, appearing from the top of the woman’s head. Dark hazy clouds rise from the background, and above, the hints of a starry sky.

Pike tilted his head up slightly, so he could see more clearly through his helmet.  He raised his arm and glanced at the detector in his gloved hand.  With his other hand, he pointed straight ahead. 

“That way,” he said.

Captain Tai drifted past him, holding her own arm up, so that the light beam panel on the forearm of her suit could illuminate their way.

The dark side of the moon was not just regular dark.  It was pitch dark.  If not for the trackers, and the back-up trackers, and the emergency back-up trackers, in their suits and their equipment, Pike would have at least hesitated wandering any farther into the unmapped region from which the anomalous signal seemed to be originating.  More likely, he would have talked his captain out of venturing ahead altogether.  Even more likely, she wouldn’t have needed to be convinced.

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A Moth In The Nebula

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Digital drawing. A spaceship shaped like a moth, seen from its starboard flank, flies along the border of a nebula. The colorful streaming gases of the nebula and the spaceship are both oriented at forty-five degrees from horizontal from left to right. Scattered stars twinkle in the distance.

“Status!”

“Countermeasures depleted,” the ship said.  “Shields holding…for now.” 

The ship hurtled toward the hourglass-shaped nebula.  The ship and the two crew members aboard all knew what that meant.  Already, it was getting icy in the cabin.

A missile sliced past their port side.  The ship veered just as the missile burst apart. 

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