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Wyldblood Magazine #5 is out now! Packed with stories about the future, the past and all things in between. Order now from Amazon or from us at www.wyldblood.com/magazine

Wyldblood Magazine # 5

Nine brand new science fiction and fantasy stories about treacherous technology, time travel, television terrors and much, much more.

Stories by Richard Webb, David Matthews, Darren Latta, Francis Walsh, James Royce, Holly Barrett, Sam Muller, Mark Silcox and Darren Hall.

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City of Lights


MM Schreier

Rose folded her hands on her lap, the skin spotted and papery thin. Her knuckles were swollen and fingers stiff.

I won’t miss all these aches and pains.

Her foot twitched and the blanket covering her legs slipped. One of the nursebots zoomed over to tuck it back in but she waived it away. “Let me feel the cold one last time.” 

The machine whirred and tilted. Rose chuckled. It looked like a golden retriever trying to make sense of her words. 

A knock came at the door and the nursebot flitted back to its docking bay as the Technician entered the room. He glanced at a handheld screen. “Miss Rose Austin?”

Rose gave him a shaky smile. “It’s time then?” Her voice sounded reedy in her ears, but she remembered when it had been a rich contralto.

The Technician crossed the room and straightened the blanket over her legs. “I can give you a few more minutes if you like, but we’re in the optimal transfer window.”

You’ve done this before. It’s not a big deal.

“No, I’m fine. Best to get it over with.”

Tapping on his screen, the Technician pursed his lips. “It looks like this is your seventeenth Transfer?” He looked up and let out a low whistle. “You must be a pro then.” 

Rose tried not to roll her eyes.

Do they all have to make that joke? 

She watched as he bustled around the bed, checking wires and documenting her vitals. 

“So, I know you’ve been through this all before, but just a few reminders. While it will feel real, everything you experience during Transfer is a vision, nothing more.” He glanced at the screen and his eyes widened. “It looks like you’ve ordered a Premier Organic BioPrinted vessel over a recycled model. Excellent choice. I’ll just have you sign off here, giving Transfigure Today full possession of your discarded vessel and any residual memories that do not complete Transfer.” 

He pointed to the screen and for a moment Rose hesitated. 

After so many Transfers, how much have I lost?

Her breath wheezed in her chest and her toes felt numb. Her current vessel was failing; she had no choice but to sign. Reaching out a shaky hand, she dropped it palm-down on the screen. A tiny jolt rippled through her fingers.

The Technician examined the thermal print of her hand, then nodded. “Looks like everything is in order. Now just settle back and I’ll get you connected for the Transfer.”

He dropped the screen on a table and fiddled around, attaching probes to her skin– temples, collarbones, wrists. She grimaced. The adhesive would tear when they removed it. 

Not that it matters. It’s their vessel now.

Satisfied, the Technician twisted a dial and punched a few buttons on the Consciousness Transfer 2100. It clicked on with a faint hum. The newer models were so different from the early versions with their clicks and vibrations and constant beeping.

“Lie back now and close your eyes.” He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. “This will be over before you know it.”

Rose settled back on the overstuffed pillow. The probes warmed against her skin and her breathing slowed. Something tugged at her mind, a wave of static. It washed over her in a gentle rhythm, pulling her along with it as it retreated. Like the sense of sand being washed away from beneath her feet, except everywhere at once.

Bit by bit, she felt herself separating from the old vessel. She floated like stardust. Below, she could see her synapses firing, bright lights in a sea of darkness, connected by a highway of threads. It looked like a cityscape—a metropolis that refused to sleep. As she drifted farther away, she smiled. 

How can I smile when I no longer have lips?

A shadow materialized on the horizon. The mind-form that had once been Rose hovered. The shape seemed hauntingly familiar. A small girl holding a glow-in-the-dark yoyo. She wavered as if seen through rain-spotted glass.

The youngster tossed her messy locks and waved. Her mouth moved, gushing words in a waterfall—the tirade of an excited child showing off a new skill. The void devoured the words.

I can’t hear you, Aimee. Speak a little louder.

Aimee. The mind-form rippled. Who was Aimee? 

The synapse city pulsed rose-red. Untransfered memories floated like ghosts. 

A child lost too soon. Before Transfer technology had gone mainstream.

The mind-form reached for her daughter, but the sand sucking wave pulled at her again.

No!

One by one, the lights flickered out and the ghosts retreated to the darkened city.

#

Rose swallowed, her mouth dry. Her eyes fluttered open.

“Slowly now.” A Technician in a white lab coat looked down at her. “How do you feel?”

Empty. Like something’s missing.

She didn’t vocalize the thought. “A little shaky, but not too bad.” She stretched her new arms and looked at the smooth skin of her hands. Strong and young.

The Technician grinned. “Congratulations. Your Transfer went without a hitch. Enjoy your new vessel. You should rest here for about an hour, then we’ll get you processed out.” He gestured toward the window, where bright sunshine streamed through the curtains. “It’s a beautiful day for a run!”

Rose nodded. 

Maybe she’d get a hovercycle. She’d crashed the last one she had, three or four vessels ago. She didn’t want to wait until she was old to Transfer again. 

I need to go back to the city of lights.

She shook her head. What an odd thought.


Author Bio: MM Schreier is a classically trained vocalist who took up writing as therapy for a mid-life crisis. Whether contemporary or speculative fiction, favorite stories are rich in sensory details and weird twists. A firm believer that people are not always exclusively right- or left-brained, in addition to creative pursuits Schreier manages a robotics company and tutors maths and science to at-risk youth. Recent publications can be found in All Worlds Wayfarer, Dream of Shadows, and Curiosities. Additional listings can be found at: mmschreier.com/publications


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Head Games

 Trey Dowell

The tall man trotted through the hospital corridors, searching for the secure wing.  Droplets of water sluiced off the folds of his raincoat, leaving what looked like a trail of tears in his wake.  He didn’t bother asking for directions—once the two cops with pulse rifles came into view, he knew where to go.

One officer raised a palm as he approached.

“Gotta have a badge to be in this wing, man.”

“Golladay.  Federal Psy-Ops,” he said, toggling his holo-ident.  “Captain Briggs is expecting me.”

The cop ushered Golladay forward, barely examining the hologram.  “Room 3260.  Hurry.”

In 3260, a female uniformed cop and a guy in a suit waited.  The uniform wore a psionic-resistant helmet.  Most cops did.  Golladay could sense the low-power alpha waves flashing along the inside surface of her psi-blocker—only effective at blocking Level One telepaths—and fought back a smile.

The suit stepped forward. “Golladay?  I’m Briggs.”

Golladay flashed the ID again.  At least Briggs read it.

“Jesus.  Level Five telepath?  I didn’t know there was such a thi—”    

“This is him?” Golladay asked, brushing past to a handcuffed man on a gurney.  A breathing tube, hoses, and wires extended from him to an array of beeping, flashing machines behind.  Bandages covered his chest and arms.

“Conrad Virgil,” Briggs said.  “We raided his house on a tip.  The Hamil—”

“Hamilton kidnapping case,” Golladay finished, then noticed Briggs’ frown.  “Sorry. I hear the thoughts before you say them.”

The telepath looked at Virgil’s chart, then the blood seeping through his bandages.  “Your entry team shot him seven times?”

The uniform piped up.  “Six wasn’t enough.”

Golladay ignored her.  “We’re on a clock, yes?”

The captain nodded.  “The Hamilton boy.  Billy.  Virgil sedated him in a locked bio-tank, booby-trapped the damn thing with mercury switches.  Bomb squad can’t move or disarm it fast enough.  We need the unlock code.”

“What’s the rush?”

“Virgil initiated a degrade-cycle on the tank before we got there.  It’s lowering the temperature inside—”

The uniform’s radio barked.  “Thermometer’s at minus 3.”

Briggs looked at Golladay, pleading.  “Drops one degree every minute,” he whispered.  “Kid’ll be dead in less than ten.  I need that goddamn code.  Four digits.  The D.A. already signed off on a cerebral breach.  We can wire the psionic-bridge right now.”

Golladay bent to touch Virgil’s forehead.  “A Level Five doesn’t need wires.”

#

Bright light.  White room. 

Golladay’s mental projection materialized in the center of the space, raincoat and all.  A plain black desk sat in front of him.  Conrad Virgil sat behind it.  Dressed in a sweater vest and khakis, the mind-generated avatar could have passed for a Sunday School teacher.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Virgil said.

“I get that a lot.”

“A citizen’s mind is restricted space.  Cerebral breaches are illegal.”

“Like kidnapping and attempted murder,” Golladay responded.  “Look, Billy doesn’t have time for this bullshit.  The code.  Now.”

“Or?”

“Or I take it.”

Virgil clapped.  “Ooooo, so scary!”  The featureless white walls shimmered, and dozens of gun ports appeared.  “Here’s the thing, telepath.  This is my mind.  I know how to defend it.”  Long-barreled weapons extended through the ports.  When Golladay looked back to Virgil, the kidnapper now wore a gleaming suit of ceramic-composite armor.  Each hand spun a wicked blade with a serrated edge.

Minus 5, Briggs’ voice resonated from outside of the mental bridge.  Hurry.

Golladay stepped forward and pointed one fist at Virgil.  The ceramic knight raised swords and leapt over the desk.

And stopped.  Frozen in mid-air.

The machine guns melted, molten slag dripping from the ports.

The telepath flared his fingers and the armor exploded off Virgil’s form, swords and ceramic burning to dust.  Another gesture, and Virgil’s avatar disintegrated as well.  Golladay focused beyond the mental constructs, directly to the whisper-stream of Virgil’s consciousness.

Three…seven…

There we go.

Four….

One more.

Nine.

Gotcha.

Deep in Virgil’s thought-stream, swimming in it, Golladay felt something…wrong.

Can’t pull back.  Can’t sever the connection.

The white room surrounded him once more.  Virgil stood, hands clasped behind his back.

“Did you think we were done?”

“You’re a telepath too,” Golladay said.  “A strong one.”

“As are you.  What a happy coincidence they sent someone so powerful to pry information out of me.  You’re at least a Level 4.”

“You wanted me here?”

Virgil paced the room.  “I needed a telepath.  Feds don’t just send one if you ask nicely.”

“Why?”

“Brain tumor.  Inoperable.  Four months, maximum.  And the seven bullets didn’t help.”

Golladay’s eyes widened.  “You want a new body.”

Virgil’s sparkled.  “And the only bridge strong enough to support a full psionic transfer is between two telepaths.”

Golladay straightened.  “I’m not going anywhere.  But you are.”

“So scary!” Virgil cackled.  “I love your enthus—”

The kidnapper’s form exploded.

Minus 7.  Briggs’ voice. Like a beacon.

Virgil reappeared.  Not just one Virgil.  Dozens—hundreds—of avatars, filled the space, all smiling. 

SO SCARY,” they howled in unison, flooding in.

Golladay threw up both hands, generating explosions throughout the ranks of charging avatars.  No matter how fast he destroyed the attackers, more came.  An undulating wave of hatred.

Collapsing on him.

Yearning.

Desperate.

Minus ten degrees.  Goddamit, Golladay.  C’mon!

The telepath used all his remaining energy to lock onto Briggs’ voice, and let the wave come.

#

Golladay jerked back, sprawling across the floor.

“3-7-4-9!” he yelled.  “It’s 3-7-4-9!”

Briggs radioed the code before helping him up. “You alright?”

The telepath nodded, breathing hard.  “A trap,” he said.  “The boy was bait.  Virgil’s a goddamn telepath.  Wanted to transfer his consciousness before he died.”

“What the hell?  Is that even a thing?” 

 Golladay winced.  “Yeah, but the transfer requires another telepath.”

Virgil’s body jerked and alarms sounded.  Before the medical staff even responded, the alarms stopped.

“Telepath won’t help the asshole now,” Briggs said. 

The radio chirped.  “Kid’s okay, boss.”

Briggs exhaled, then smiled at Golladay.  “Jesus.  Thank you.  That was closer than I’d like.”

“Scary,” the telepath said, nodding. “So scary.”


Author Bio: Trey Dowell is an award-winning author of both short and novel-length fiction. His short stories have been published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Intrinsick, and Abyss & Apex, as well as several anthologies. His debut sci-fi novel The Protectors was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.  Learn more at www.treydowell.com.


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Wyldblood Magazine Issue 5 is out now!

We’ve just launched Wyldblood Magazine #5 on Amazon and on the website, available in print and in all electronic formats. What’s in it? Stories, lots of stories, about ghosts, dragons and cunningly evil computers. Here’s the run-down: Nine outstanding new science fiction and fantasy stories: A Stranger, Passing Through, by Holly Barratt. A woman, strandedContinue reading “Wyldblood Magazine Issue 5 is out now!”

Wyld Flash 60 – Head Game

Twisty turny head spinning science fiction in this week’s Wyld Flash – Head Game, by award-winning author Trey Dowell – free fiction, live now on the website.

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