Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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Issue 19
by Orson Scott Card
by Michelle Scott
by Pete Aldin
Bonus OSC Story Serialization
Eye for Eye Part Three
by Orson Scott Card
IGMS Audio
Expendables by Orson Scott Card
Read by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
Growing Pains
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

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    by Michelle Scott

Artwork by Scott Altmann

From the moment Chad pressed the big, red button that set his latest machine into motion, his audience was laughing. They cheered as the helium balloons rose to lift levers which released marbles that triggered switches. Every cockeyed operation was met with greater and greater applause. Yet while his Rube-Goldberg fly-swatter seemed to be a hit, Chad knew the entire thing was doomed to failure unless he managed to make the big finale work.

His heart pounding, he tracked the progression, ready to step in at the right moment. Timing was everything. Then, a split second before a spring-loaded boxing glove punched its target - an enormous plastic fly stuck on the wall - he moved into place so that the glove struck him right between the eyes.

The impact brought no pain, but it knocked him backwards onto his butt. Disoriented, he staggered to his feet. He reeled drunkenly about the stage as bright bursts of light cartwheeled before his eyes, and blood gushed warmly down his upper lip. Sounds receded; he could no longer hear his audience. But they were applauding. He was certain of it.

As the curtain came down, Chad staggered offstage. Al, his manager, helped him into a chair, then gently pressed on his head to get him to lean over the bucket.

Finally his hearing cleared, allowing him to appreciate the audience's frenzied applause. "They really loved it," Al said. He handed Chad a clean towel.

Chad could only nod. The pain might be gone, but he was still in distress, his body a bewildered animal desperate for relief. He felt weak. Dizzy. Sick.

"You're doing an encore?"

It wasn't really a question. In this business, you were only as good as your last performance. But they both knew that the act was taking its toll on Chad's body. Even with the latest generation of nanobots, his body didn't heal as quickly as it used to.

Still, the show must go on. After a moment, Chad handed back the bloodied towel and stood. Immediately the floor under his feet pitched upward and he staggered, clinging to Al for support. His stomach lurched. Bots could repair damage and block pain, but they could not compensate for blood loss as quickly as he needed them to.

"Get a grip, already, and get out there," Al said. "They're waiting for you." His tone was sharp, like the bracing sting of smelling salts. Chad struggled to obey. He took the water bottle Al pushed into his hands, rinsed his mouth, and spit into the bucket. He could do this. He must do this. Al helped him change from his bloody lab coat into a spotless white one and gave him a new pair of thick-framed glasses to replace the pair that had been broken by the punch. He wiped Chad's face a final time to get rid of the blood, and motioned the makeup girl forward so she could touch up Chad's eyes. Then Chad, pasting on a smile, went back onstage.

The encore involved a three-hundred pound weight and a rolling grand piano, a broken collar bone and a dislocated elbow. But it was worth it; like the pain bots, the audience's laughter would keep him going.

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