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1 . A Meteor Will Kill You in Five Minutes
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 6 pages
The story starts with the main character's fortune from a Chinese fortune cookie saying, "A meteor will kill you in five minutes." It's possibly the only talking meteor story ever written.
2 . They Laughed at Me in Vienna, and Again in Prague, and Then in Belfast, and Don't Forget Hanoi! But I'll Show Them! I'll Show Them All, I Tell You!
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 18 pages
What's a mad scientist to do when the fools continue to laugh -- laugh, I tell you! -- at his brilliant work, at conference after conference? There's only one answer: he must show them all!
3 . Pastry Run
by Nancy Fulda
Science Fiction, 9 pages
In the not-so-distant future, relativity is the plaything of humanity and ridiculously wealthy old ladies have their afternoon pastries shipped to the moon daily.
4 . Teachers' Lounge
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 14 pages
What's an English as a Second Language teacher to do? Program cuts mean finding enough work to qualify for benefits is iffy at best. Students are pushed out the door as soon as they have enough English to get menial jobs. And now these new students -- the aliens -- are apparently on a mission to conquer Earth and eat our brains.
5 . Why the Aliens Did What They Did to that Suburb of Madison, Wisconsin
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 3 pages
Mark and Mary were just a couple running out of ideas for how to spice up their sex life, when a strange craft landed in the field nearby...
6 . Lancelot Nova and the Hidden Peril
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 12 pages
Space Ranger Lancelot Nova thinks he has his hands full, dealing with the galaxy's most dastardly villains; little does the intrepid ranger know that the greatest threat is waiting for him at home!
7 . The Best Path
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 24 pages
Spant is in training for the adventure of a lifetime -- a trip to the stars! Her whole life has been focused on this goal, and she's even been genetically modified to deal with zero-G. But Spant doesn't want to go.
8 . Le Morte de Volkswagyn
by Tim McDaniel
Fantasy, 3 pages
Sir Gawain and his brothers of the Round Table face an uncanny enemy, all in sorta Middle English...
9 . Dei Ex Machina
by Tim McDaniel
Fantasy, 11 pages
Theo calls God on the telephone. He gets His answering machine. Who will he call next?
10 . Domestic Arrangements
by Tim McDaniel
Fantasy, 26 pages
Bub the demon's boss is a real witch. But she's got a big date coming up, and Bub realizes that if he can get his crew to make the date go perfectly, domestic bliss -- well, fewer flayings, at least -- will ensue...
11 . The Carrion Monster
by Tim McDaniel
Fantasy, 29 pages
What's a zombie to do, with no friends,no plans, and no craving for human flesh? Mike decides to go back home, and hope his wife and kids never think to look under the house.
12 . Zero Hour
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 39 pages
Mike Mace is all set to graduate from high school. Oh, but first he has to save the world. Fortunately, he has an assortment of aliens and experts -- and a nerdy little brother -- to help him.
13 . An Ounce of Prevention
by Tim McDaniel
Horror, 16 pages
A plate of bad nachos brings death to Ben -- except he can't die, because he hasn't accomplished anything yet! But how long can he keep his death secret from his wife?
14 . Signatures
by Tim McDaniel
Science Fiction, 10 pages
Not everyone can be a talented artist, but there is always a way to leave your mark.
15 . Through the Obsidian Gates
by Aliette de Bodard
Fantasy, 24 pages
When Sahague's husband enters Xibalba, the Mayan land of the dead, she plays a game with the gods to win back his soul. But can one truly cheat the lords of the underworld? (Honourable Mention, 20th Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, edited by Datlow, Link & Grant)
16 . Beans and Marbles
by Floris M. Kleijne
Science Fiction, 21 pages
Two astronauts manning a cargo ship full of frozen colonists and their falling-out over a cup of espresso brewed in the most unlikely location on the ship.
17 . A Buffalito of Mars
by Lawrence M. Schoen
Science Fiction, 18 pages
In the midst of a terraforming effort, the Amazing Conroy travels to Mars to bring his Buffalo Dogs to the aid of an archeological dig that has uncovered an ancient alien artifact.
18 . Ping-Pong Ambition
by Larry Hodges
Humor, 4 pages
A table tennis player gets stuck in a ping-pong ball for 10,000 years, where he studies to be a genie - only to discover a surprising truth.
19 . Horizontal Rain
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Fantasy, 12 pages
"Horizontal Rain is a reasonably short short-story, fewer than 2700 words, but Mary Robinette Kowal packs a good deal of story into those 2700 words. Confusion, fear, fairy tales, trolls, death, driving, construction, meetings, phone calls, and a general sense of unease as the harsh Icelandic wind blows the rain sideways." --Joe Sherry, Adventures in Reading
20 . First Cat
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 14 pages
What happens when Earth is attacked by interdimensional beings, and the only one who can save the planet is the befuddled U.S. president's temporarily super-intelligent cat?
21 . An Earlier Inconvenient Truth
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 4 pages
A satire on global warming and spoof of the documentaries "An Inconvenient Truth," "Super Size Me," "Sicko," "Bowling for Columbine," and "Fahrenheit 9/11," all told from a dinosaur's point of view, 65 million years ago.
22 . Blade of the Bunny
by Jim C. Hines
Fantasy, 24 pages
A feisty thief, feuding wizards, and a dagger with a very special enchantment...
23 . A Tale of Two Wizards
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 27 pages
It's the story of the two greatest wizards of the ancient world, Zuku and Death himself. The two face off along with their vast armies in a final, desperate struggle, but due to betrayal (Death offers Zuku's troops immortality, life insurance and other benefits), Zuku loses and is trapped in a bottle at the bottom of the ocean for 5000 years. En route to freedom, he battles a coke bottle recycling plant, a great white shark, and a jumbo jet, and finally meets up with Death in his new offices in the Trump World Tower in modern day New York City. He also finds his mom, her spirit trapped in a sword, and his dad, transformed into a sea turtle. They battle Death and his army - tottering old men after 5000 years, but still very much alive - in a battle that ends in the space shuttle.
24 . Rude Awakening
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 2 pages
After you die, if you want to be frozen and revived by future generations, better think things through!
25 . Defeating Death
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 17 pages
This is the story of Paulie, a sorcerer's owl, a species of owl that lives out its life in the robes of mostly unwilling sorcerers. Paulie makes his home in the robes of the most powerful sorcerer in the world, where they battle each other, the postal service, and Death himself, all while trying to figure out why the rooms in their house keep disappearing. Oh, and there's a zombie in the guest room.
26 . Dragon Cuisine
by Larry Hodges
Dark Fantasy, 22 pages
A young dragon prince rebels against an arranged marriage, as there is another he wishes to marry. He leaves home, and starts up his own kingdom in the far north. He battles spiders, bears and food (humans, the cuisine in the title) with no problem, but falls victim to a wizard's spell that slowly turns the giant dragon into a giant frog. He faces many tribulations trying to find a suitable human princess to kiss so as to turn himself back, all while hopping about and smacking warriors with his tongue instead of the flame he's used to using.
27 . Eternity and the Devil
by Larry Hodges
Dark Fantasy, 20 pages
Basically a twist on the "Deal with the Devil" story. A physicist sells his soul so he can make discoveries that will benefit mankind. When the Devil shows up and takes him to Hell, the scientist escapes into the future in a time machine - and with numerous stops, goes a trillion years into the future, pursued by the Devil. At each stop, he is surrounded by billions of systematically tortured souls in Hell - including his long-suffering girlfriend, who he is determined to save.
28 . Gremlin Gambits
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 10 pages
The life of a writer when his computer is infected with practical-joking gremlins. (Hint: You'll need peanut butter.) "Don't we all wish the writer's life was this easy! But this chap had his own troubles, even with a magical word processor - jkjkjkjkjkjkjkjkjk." -Marion Zimmer Bradley in table of contents
29 . Pens and Pain
by Larry Hodges
Horror, 2 pages
What happens when an alien gourmet came to Earth to live off our pain, with the aid of a rather sophisticated pen?
30 . Reality Pills
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 1 pages
What if that psychedelic vision - say, of a charging Tyrannosaur - isn't a vision?
31 . Counting Sheep
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 10 pages
An autistic man constantly counts sheep and never sleeps--but is he more than he seems?
32 . Omen of the Oven
by Larry Hodges
Horror, 3 pages
A psychic immortal witch, in a wedding dress she took from her lunch that day, cooks a child for her upcoming dinner date, with full details on the temperature and time needed, and herbs, spices and veggies that go with it. The front of the oven is caked with grime, but she keeps seeing images through the oven's window. Since she often sees the future, she keeps cleaning the window, trying to get a better look. And when she finally sees what's inside, she gasps in shock and horror. Then a hand from behind clutches her shoulder, she screams, and....
33 . Out Came Death in an Explosion of Saliva and Curses
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 5 pages
A giant snake swallows a little boy, attracting Death, who turns out can be rather careless.
34 . Bonesy
by Larry Hodges
Dark Fantasy, 21 pages
Bonesy is the story of a man whose skeleton came alive when he was a boy. At first they are great friends. Problems arise when the skeleton goes crazy . . . and wants out.
35 . Dead Mass
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 8 pages
When your ship is out of power, and you absolutely have to get going in a hurry or everyone's going to die, what do you do? Ma to the rescue!!!
36 . Falling Apart
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 13 pages
A sorcerer's apprentice goes where he's not supposed to go, and literally falls apart. How will he put himself back together again?
37 . Forever Underfoot
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 13 pages
For billions of years, two tiny gnome-like creatures have run the devices that keep the universe running - time, gravity, light, entropy, etc. However, a terrible accident and a clumsy human cop lead to disaster. Can the one surviving gnome save the universe from eternal limbo while learning the truth about himself and the universe?
38 . Ghosts of Cretaceous Park
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 13 pages
Possibly the world's first dinosaur ghost story. Billionaire brothers fight for control of a ghostly dinosaur park, the scene of murder mysteries in the present and 70 million years ago.
39 . Happily and Righteously
by Larry Hodges
Humor, 4 pages
If you believed assassins and deadly green aliens were trying to kill you, and you were right, wouldn't you die happily and righteously?
40 . Jackpot World
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 17 pages
What happens if, on one hundred million identical universes, an interdimensional traveling alien is mugged by Wayne, an armed and unhappy criminal, and all of these aliens in all of these universes transport the attacking Wayne to the same Earth in one universe - ours? Yes, it's the dreaded Multi Accedo Scenario!
41 . Memory of a Minefield
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 4 pages
A woman tries to save her child. To do so, she not only has to live and relive her life, but the entire life of the universe over and over to do so!
42 . Raiders of the Ballot Box
by Larry Hodges
Science Fiction, 21 pages
A satire on the fixing of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election using self-aware computer viruses. About one-third of the story is from the point of view of one of the viruses.
43 . The Haunts of Albert Einstein
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 6 pages
Poor Albert Einstein is destined to haunt his old offices in Princeton for eternity, surrounded by the ghosts of bickering physicists who simply will not shut up. What can he do to save himself from this fate?
44 . Time to Diet
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 7 pages
A dieting story about a flying carpet pilot with an impossible problem.
45 . Mummy at the Bat
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 8 pages
A tongue in cheek yet poignant tale of a non-speaking, baseball-loving mummy with supernatural skills, and the difficulties he faces in trying to make it to the major leagues.
46 . Pruning for Gold
by Larry Hodges
Dark Fantasy, 16 pages
What happens if a greedy person can cut off parts of himself and the parts turn to gold? How far will he go?
47 . At the Snake Show
by Larry Hodges
Young Adult, 4 pages
A boy and his giant snake at the snake show. Will they win?
48 . Microsorce
by Larry Hodges
Fantasy, 28 pages
When the world's computers are run by sorcery, and the corporations are run by sorcerers, a hostile takeover takes on a new meaning.
49 . The Capacity To Appear Mindless
by Mike Shultz
Fantasy, 21 pages
A math teacher in a school of goblins struggles against his dismemberment-prone principal over the issue of how to treat the strange new "humans" in his class. “ 'Mindless' made me laugh aloud...demonstrating that you can write about intolerance without being intolerant." -- Elizabeth Allen, Tangent Online
50 . In Memory
by Eric James Stone
Science Fiction, 13 pages
After uploading his mind into a computer, Kenneth Granley had a perfect memory. Or did he? From the Publishers Weekly review of Writers of the Future, Vol. XX: "Standouts include Eric James Stone’s eerie 'In Memory,' whose hero, a brilliant mad physicist, exists as a disembodied computer image..."
51 . Upgrade
by Eric James Stone
Science Fiction, 5 pages
Why did "Mr. Smith" need his digestive system upgraded?
52 . Blood & Water
by Alethea Kontis
Dark Fantasy, 26 pages
A dark retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid." Only she's a vampire. And there are pirates.
53 . Resonance
by Eric James Stone
Science Fiction, 42 pages
Grant Sullivan has bet his company on winning the race to build the first space elevator. But sometimes engineering problems aren't the toughest ones to solve. From the Tangent Online review: "The author creates a clever plot and characters worth rooting for, all leading to an exciting climax. This story may particularly appeal to fans of hard SF, given its emphasis on physics concepts."
54 . Dragon Time
by Ruth Nestvold
Fantasy, 34 pages
I collect time. My grandfather always said that because I'm a girl, I have no business fixing it, but there's no harm in me collecting. Squirrels collect, girls can too....
55 . Meeting the Sculptor
by Floris M. Kleijne
Science Fiction, 39 pages
If a Sculptor, a time-travelling artist from the far future, offered you a chance to turn your miserable life around, should you take it?
56 . The Box Of Beautiful Things
by Brian Dolton
Fantasy, 9 pages
Like hundreds of other people, Yi Qin has come to see Weng Hao's Grand Carnival of Curiosities. But her reason for visiting is very different from everybody else's... Nominated for StorySouth Million Writers award 2007