No Choice, But Chosen By Ayalla Buchanan

No Choice but ChosenMy name is Annabell. Like my mother, and her mother before that. Generations of Annabells, stretching behind me. The year is 2125, and the outside world is in ruins. Next week will mark my sixteenth year, and so tomorrow I will report for genetic placement. They say it is designed to ensure happiness, but all it really seems to ensure is limitations.

My door slides open. The hydraulics no longer squeal. It reminds me to wonder what will happen to my room after I’m gone. It reminds me to think of the brother I lost, who was transferred to the Maintenance Sector, and whose features I share. My mother stands in the doorway in her purple Domestic Sector dress. She is holding the gown I must wear to be placed. Its rainbow of colours is supposed to represent possibility, but all I see is empty promises.

“I wore this when I was tested,” she says. And I know it’s coming. The speech. I roll my eyes. “There used to be disharmony. The people were in disarray, before The Authority created this haven from the outside. The Authority is always present. They know what is best—“

“Do they?”

“Don’t interrupt me. Tomorrow you are to go to Corridor Delta Nine in the Authority Sector, and from there you will be tested. Do you have any questions?”

I take my chance. It might be the last time I see my mother. “What’s outside?”

“You know what’s outside.”

“I know what they’ve told us is outside. What do you think is outside?”

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Fragment of a love story, recovered By Kevin Connelly

FragmentNo more than the following fragments were ever found, as if a tiny piece of pottery must needs reveal to us the whole.

…so they would be safe. However, as we think it will be is not always how it transpires. More was expected of him, being older. Strange then that such foolishness came from him, not from her.

She could see all the dangers, the perils behind them illuminated for her the dangers in the ways forward. The whirlpool of passionate love swallowed her in deep. Such reason as she at first tried to apply was soon swept away. Together they would go wherever, do whatever, escape however. Together they would be, forever.

In their time of troubles, in the making of them, she was not entirely innocent. Jealous gossips later said it was pride in her own great beauty drove her to such extremes. No woman they said, could be so unaware of her own beauty as to be senseless of it’s effects on others, no woman…

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CROCODILES by Matt Harris

CrocodilesOnce there was a very happy little girl who lived in a village between a jungle and a river. The little girl was so happy that she smiled all day long. She smiled when she woke up in the morning, smiled when she saw there were noodles for breakfast, smiled on her way to her school lessons, smiled when she came home for lunch, smiled as she spent the afternoon helping her mother with the laundry and cleaning, smiled and laughed while she played with the other children in the evening and went to bed smiling and looking forward to happy dreams. Life was good for the happy little girl.

But not everyone liked to see the girl smiling so much. In fact almost everyone in the village disliked seeing her smile all the time. This was because life in the village was very hard. The reason it was hard was that they lived between the river and the jungle. The river was full of crocodiles and the jungle was full of tigers, so the villagers had to scrape a living from their thin strip of land. At night they stayed indoors, fearful of the rustling sounds from the jungle where the tigers crept, and the sloshing sounds from the river where the crocodiles surged slowly through the brown waters.

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I Eat People By Will Davis

I Eat PeopleI eat people. It’s what I do. I don’t care what they look like, if they’re fat like seal puppies, or mouthwateringly beautiful as Nereids. I don’t discriminate. The only thing that matters is that they have flesh I can suck on and bones I can chew. I wait near the shore until they get close to the water and then I rise and wrap my coils around them and eat them right up.

‘You’ve become trapped in your own destructive cycle.’

That’s what my therapist said, blowing bubbles out of his pipe while I floated on his couch amidst the decorative seaweed of his office.

‘You need to develop a normal healthy relationship.’

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Take A Number Please By Tamara Jones

Take A Number PleaseHarry and Oliver sat on the bench at the bottom of the stairwell and stared morosely at the lino floor beneath their feet.

‘Getting a bit boring this,’ said Harry, scuffing his boots on a large patch of worn lino and grimacing.

‘Got boring ages ago,’ said Oliver, shuffling on the bench and looking around vainly, but not for the first time, for a clock. ‘Must be getting on for lunchtime, don’t you reckon?’ Silence. ‘How much longer before our numbers come up do you think?’

Harry shrugged dismissively, but before he could say anything the doorway from outside opened and a man entered the waiting room. Harry and Oliver stared at the newcomer and watched curiously as he stood looking around the room, at the benches against the walls and at the stairway leading up to the blue sky filled doorway above.

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Edward’s First Love By Jay Moussa-Mann

Edward's First LoveTomorrow the world changes. A new dawn, bringing with it new times, new foundations, new concepts. Tomorrow the blood and sweat poured into the tracks that will now carry people from one town to the next will not be in vain. The passion I have borne for the past years will finally see fruit. Tomorrow all our efforts shall be rewarded. The Stockton-to-Darlington railroad is born.

I turn from the window (I don’t know why I am stood here, it is the dead of night and outside is pitch black). His breathing in the corner of the room has become more laboured, as if the body is craving, heaving, fighting for the air all around it yet unable to take enough in. Rapid breathing, now quieter. Easier. I feel my body relax again. I didn’t even realize I was tensing with every inhalation. Subconsciously breathing each breath with him.

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