Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Issue 7
Stories
Silent As Dust
by James Maxey
Lost Soul
by Marie Brennan
The Price of Love
by Alan Schoolcraft
The Braiding
by Pat Esden
After This Life
by Janna Silverstein
The Smell of the Earth
by Joan L. Savage
From the Ender Saga
Ender's Homecoming
by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
The Talk
by David Lubar
Split Decision
by David Lubar
Comics
A Plague of Butterflies
by Orson Scott Card
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Writing Fantasy

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After This Life
    by Janna Silverstein
After This Life
Artwork by Tomislav Tikulin

The woman next to Warden Chapelle was the first female Jake Drogan had seen in person in years. She sat on one side of a circle of folding chairs set up in the blue room. That was where they held group therapy sessions for other inmates: touchy-feely stuff, pastel colors, a little too much lemon-scented air freshener and waxy floor cleaner. The wire-embedded windows looked out onto chain link fences and razor wire, putting a lie to the illusion of normalcy. The four guards didn't help, either.

He was surprised the conference wasn't being held in a non-contact room, but he wasn't going to ask about it. It was time out of his cell, cushy and colorful; that was what mattered. But he was still cold from the strip search.

This woman -- as Drogan took a chair in the circle, he couldn't stop looking at her. His mouth was dry and he licked his lips, rubbing them with one hand at the same time to hide it.

She seemed to be in her thirties. Nice figure, he guessed, but he couldn't be completely sure because of the dark suit jacket she wore. The jacket hid her hips, too. Slim legs in tailored pants. Smart not to show her legs here, but damn! Straight hair cut short and falling around her cheeks like parentheses. Dark-rimmed glasses perched on her forehead. Egghead chic.

A woman. A pretty one.

Drogan squeezed the half-dollar in his left hand, feeling the edges cutting into the calluses in his palm. Weird to feel again, to feel anything again, here.

He took a seat along with the three other prisoners escorted to the room -- Mitchell, Villanova, Pasco, he knew all these guys -- leaned his elbows on his knees, looked at the woman and waited.

"All right now," Chapelle drawled. "This is Dr. Louisa Ferrara. She's got a proposition for you boys, approved by the governor. You be good now. You listen to what she's got to say."

"Gentlemen," she said.

Villanova -- 24, scarred across one brown cheek, stick thin, tattooed and unrepentant -- snickered. "Who she think she talkin' to?"

"Hey!" Chapelle snapped. The woman started. Villanova shut up. "Go on, Dr. Ferrara."

"I'm from TransLumina Transports, with the R&D group," she went on. "We're developing something new, and we need people to work with us."

Drogan knew the name TransLumina. Twelve years ago, they were the first company to market commercial teleportation services. They'd revolutionized business, put a bunch of shipping companies into the crapper and created a new economy. At least, that's what Drogan had gotten from the newspapers. To a guy like him, a gardener -- well, a death row convict -- it was pretty remote.

Ferrara opened a leather briefcase and pulled out a handful of booklets, handed them to Mitchell on her left. "Please pass these around," she asked.

Drogan put away his half dollar, took the batch, kept one and passed the rest to Villanova. Beneath a cover page sporting the slick TransLumina logo and the word "Confidential" were thirty pages of information and technical-looking diagrams. Drogan flipped through it, suppressed a smile. Who'd they put these things together for? He had an associate's degree, but most of the guys in here hadn't finished high school.

"Until now," Ferrara said, "TransLumina transport technology has been used only to ship construction materials, manufactured goods and so forth. We've spent the last five years working on something new. Would you please open your booklets to page five?"

Drogan flipped over the table of contents and confidentiality statements. There the heading said, "Light transmission of living subjects."

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