I squeezed into the circle to peer at the open box in Neb’s hand. It contained white tissue paper and a flat brown square. Its sweet smell was unfamiliar to me.
I gasped as I realized what the square must be. “Is that—”
“Chocolate!” Neb squealed. “Saros got it from some guy at school!”
Chocolate was contraband, of course. It had been illegal on Calyptra ever since scientists learned of its toxic effect on the local flora. Medicinal plants were Calyptra’s principal exports, and our government wasn’t about to jeopardize that cash cow. Its effects on the native fauna were not well studied, but apparently there had been some disturbing results there, too.
Rose traced a finger around the rim of her wine glass. In a town like Dunk, there was little to do but entertain her thoughts about the Man in the Hood. He was an outsider. Nobody had seen his face or even knew his name. For the past two nights, Rose had shadowed his every move, only to discover that he rarely left his private chambers at the Cockalorum Inn. That's why she was stuck at the bar, drinking away her youth with a bottle of red.
"I'll tell you about the Man in the Hood," said Alfred, the town’s oldest barfly. “He’s plotting to kill Mayor Dadi.”
“And you know this, how?” said Rose.
“Because he wears the hood. Don’t you know? The warmer the head, the darker the scheme.” Alfred swigged his beer, then added, “It’s the perfect day for it too."
Witches rub me in the Magic Pool. My muscles fight each other—some yearn for the touch and some recoil. A witch about my age, thirty-one, rushes her hands back and forth over my chest and back. A stout-bearded warlock kneads my shoulders. A crone does something like reiki over my forehead.
The witches have lived at this hallowed mountain grotto since the 1950s, the days of Aldous Huxley and Robert Graves. Now I have come to this place from between worlds, to put myself back together and decide what to do with the rest of my life.
When insufferable quisling Allie Kingston, 27 Earth years, of Spring, Texas, learned she was expecting a child with Despot Governor Hlotll Uedaaly, approx. 400 Earth years, of the Spica solar system, she finally admitted some misgivings.
"I mean, who knew that was possible? But the Spican doctors said these pregnancies usually work out, and so far, so good. Looks like I won the genetic jackpot!"
"To them, Hlotll was just the overlord of Earth," Ms. Kingston said, from her parent's new spacious home built on the ruins of Magnolia. "Luckily they came around pretty quickly, especially after they met Hlotll and saw that being friends with a Spican allowed them some benefits. Now Mom's super excited to be a grandma."
This thing came from Russia, like Tetris, vodka and cynical humour. They say you hit the singularity when you’re on it: full interface between man and machine.
It’s a drug, right? And what a drug, what a drug. Here's what you do. Lock the front door, then pop the pill. You’ll need a headset with biometric sensors on your temples and forehead. Get one from a military hardware site. Or get it from your uncle – I really don’t care. Once you drop, you got five minutes 'til you come up. While you’re waiting, hit the DarkNet. OnionWare is what you want. Then search for “Goznym: Leyla” and download.
By the time you’ve installed, you should be coming up. Feel every atom in your mind splitting.