Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 43
The Wellmachine Robot
by Lon Prater
The Pining
by Sarina Dorie
Meat and Greet
by Jamie Todd Rubin
The Ghastly Thing
by Kevin McNeil
IGMS Audio
At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
On the origin of...
by Chris Bellamy

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The Man in the Pillbox Hat
    by Mjke Wood

The Man in the Pillbox Hat
Artwork by Nick Greenwood

Owen laid the mobile phone back onto the smooth, yellow tree stump that served as his table. It had a full charge and three bars of signal. The only reason it wasn't ringing was because nobody was calling him. He didn't want it to ring, but until it did that knotted rope of anxiety that coiled in the pit of his stomach would only grow.

He was being stupid. He should have gone to meet Carol. He should be standing to attention, now, on the pitching deck of the USS John F Kennedy, the token male amongst the dutiful and obedient Astronaut Wives Club. He had chosen, instead, the company of his sheep and his goats on his hill farm overlooking Coniston Water. He had chosen to stay in a place where there was no TV and where the only mobile phone reception was up here, on top of the small hill behind his farmhouse.

He loved this exposed position and soon the rain would come, Owen could smell it in the breeze. He had no shelter and he didn't care. He had the rough bench that he had fashioned as a boy with his own hands; he had the tree stump table his father had crafted; he had mobile phone reception, of sorts; and he had the finest view in all England. What more could he ask?

Well, he could ask for the safe return of Carol, his wife. Carol Dawson, the first woman -- the first person -- ever to set a footprint on Mars.

He could ask. Part of him wondered, though. It was a nasty, selfish dark side that Owen hated and that he tried to lock away and subdue. But the creature was there, cajoling, asking the question: Do you really want her back? Really?

Because she had changed. How could it be otherwise? She had been to Mars.

And these thoughts had nothing to do with choice. A safe return was not a foregone conclusion, it never had been. But now? Well there were problems. The heat shield: the press were giving the crew fifty-fifty. Hell, fifty-fifty had been good odds at one time, in the space game.

Two things could happen: Carol Dawson and her fellow astronauts might soon be home, safe.

Or they might be ash.

And one way or the other the phone would ring.

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