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Star Trek Into Darkness
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This Week in SHOWCASE
by Bruce Bethke
Editor, Stupefying Stories
Welcome to Issue #1 of SHOWCASE, the free weekly webzine companion to STUPEFYING STORIES magazine and the STUPEFYING STORIES PRESENTS anthology series. Each week in SHOWCASE we’ll be offering up previews of coming attractions, samples of what we’re doing, reviews and comments, and of course, all-new stories by some of our favorite—and we hope, soon to become some of your favorite—authors.
Don’t pay too much attention to appearances today. We’ve been spending most of our time this past week on getting the contents of this first issue ready, and the workmen didn’t quite finish clearing away all the tools and tarps before we opened the doors to the public. Mind the scaffolding, watch out for the odd drywall screw on the floor, and we’re going to have to do something about that banner. But not right now.
Because right now, it’s time for the fun part. For this issue we’ve lined up four never-before-published short stories by three of our regular contributors, and one delightfully tasty tale from a newcomer to our pages. We hope you’ll enjoy—
Marta was working late again. She got up from her desk for a break, walked down the corridor, and habit made her turn aside into an alcove where she stopped, confronted by The Vending Machine.
The gentle white–noise whirr surrounded her, soothing. Easing the stresses of the office, making it all fade into the background. Marta stared into the shrine–like interior. Lit by a soft glow, displaying the rows of snacks wrapped shiny red and gold and silver like Christmas. She put her fingertips on the glass.
Food is not your friend, her therapist said. But it sure felt like it sometimes.
Harold Lewis entered the liquor store, a decrepit old space that was as dusty and unkempt as it was gaudy. Seasonal decorations lined the scuffed and holed walls and ceiling, along with advertisements featuring alcohol and scantily clad girls in semi–erotic poses. Far from an oddity, it was indicative of the kind of slum the Mars colony had become over the past fifty years.
He stopped briefly by the counter and said to the tattooed and heavily pierced girl behind it, “Where’s your whiskey?”
The girl didn’t look up.
The machine on the table hummed softly, accompanied by the gentle ticking of a clock. “Imagine,” Thomas said, “if one could wind and rewind time like a spool of tape.” He smoothed his upper lip with slender fingers in a bad attempt to hide his excitement.
Abigail frowned slightly and moved her queen. “Check.” Sunlight crept across the carpet, broken into shards by the summer leaves outside the window, and warmed the air in the study.
Thomas moved his king. “Well?”
“It sounds dangerous to me,” she said mildly.
“Sam, maybe we should head back to the main highway.” Marian’s small voice hardly registered over the noise of the SUV’s massive tires pounding over the rocky scree that covered the approach to the butte rising in front of them.
“C’mon, Marian,” Sam said. “This is what it’s all about. Life on the edge. You can’t hardly buy this kind of experience.”
“What if we get stuck out here?” Marian said.
Sam chortled. “You can’t get ‘stuck’ anywhere on the planet anymore. If we do get in trouble, we only need to—