Edition 18: Ears Prick Up By Laird Barron
Rex is the pinnacle of the war dog breed. No other can match the powerful snap of his jaws or the destruction he wreaks on a battlefield. The lifelong journey of a loyal friend and his commander, and where their path takes them. A sci-fi with a delightful Roman Empire flavour. SY
My kind is swift to chase, swift to battle. My imperfect memory is long with longing for the fight. Gray and arthritic in the twilight of retirement from valorous service to the Empire, my hackles still bunch at the clink of metal on metal. My yawn is an expression of doom sublimated. I dream of chasing elk across the plains of my ancient ancestors. I dream of blizzards and ice fields that merge with the bitter stars. In my dreams, I always die.
I traveled far from home in my youth. Dad and I slugged it out with a whole platoon of black hats one night as we strolled across the tundra of the Utter North. Military commandos hired to assassinate us; every man and dog marked with the mark of a secret gang, scents masked in case of failure. Poor, stupid fools. Probably sent by General Aniochles who figured Dad was gunning for his job. Bet my bottom chew toy the sonofabitch made the call. He gave Dad dagger eyes whenever they chatted at court. Bastard smelled guilty to me and that’s what I knew. Well, I knew right.
I wasn’t a pup then. I wasn’t approaching my warranty date, either. My eyes glowed red with atomic radiation. My fangs gleamed in a grin that would have made a T. rex flinch, appropriately enough, because they named me, my whole series, after the terrible king extinct these many eons but unforgotten. Dad papered the walls of my kennel with color photos of dinos and wolves and exploding missiles to give me the right idea about how I should behave when he cried, “Sic ’em, Rex!”
Edition 2: A Propensity For Violence by Michael Saad
Lieutenant Kellington is on tour in a far away galaxy, trapped in between the two indigenous races and their bitter blood feud. But Kellington has a secret. Will his past compromise his mission or will he lose it all? SY
2284 AD—Occupied Territories, Planet Adrella, Andromeda Galaxy
The red sky glimmered against the rolling hills of the Adrellan landscape. Planet Adrella was under the protection of the United Nations of Earth, or UNE. The planet’s population consisted of a humanoid race with a small skeletal structure, wrinkled foreheads, and narrow, sunken-in faces. Their physical bodies possessed less musculature than “Earthens,” making them physically weaker. Yet one area where Adrellans equaled human beings was the propensity to commit violence, and the headless torso that lay smoldering in the dirt was a definite example of that.
“Middle aged, Adrellan male,” Lieutenant Ryan Kellington confirmed, kneeling over the body. “The deceased appears to belong to the Tredder race. We can’t confirm that right now because there’s no way to piece together what’s left of the head.”
“That’s the sixth attack this year where the head has been disintegrated,” Arung, the Tredder official, cursed in broken but understandable English. He was an Adrellan belonging to the Tredder caste, a people who lived in the urban areas of the planet. He thrust his finger at the Sekena diplomat, who looked over Kellington’s shoulder. “The Sekena continue to act like barbarians, setting back any hope of peace between our people and yours!”
“Once again you blame Sekena for disrupting the peace,” Kestin B’urac, the Sekena diplomat, shot back. The Sekena people were concentrated in the rural areas of Adrella, and practiced a pastoral lifestyle. “How quickly you forget that it is the Tredder oppression of Sekena civilians that escalates our conflict. It is you who drive our people to these measures!”
“That’s enough! Neither of you are helping this situation.” Colonel Grey Norgale stepped in as he glanced over the body. The UNE commanding officer wiped his brow and let out a slow, defeated sigh. “What the hell is this planet coming to?”
Edition 9: Cattails by A. P. Sessler
The speculative fiction market, including SQ Mag, doesn’t publish enough pieces that have humorous bents, or are light but twisted. Not easy to execute well in my estimation. A P Sessler’s ‘Cattails’ fits the bill perfectly. We have a story that opens almost like a Stephen King meets Brothers Grimm, but read on, and it becomes something so much more… GH
The stiff, wide-eyed opossum traversed the rugged rows of severed wheat stalks that remained of the early September harvest. With flashing teeth and swiping claws frozen in time, the critter’s gray body glided across the harsh grooves of furrowed earth much like a snake would, only one without a limber bone in its body.