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Friday, September 2, 2016, 6:15 p.m.

Stupid old woman! Why didn’t she use the elixir on herself? She was damn near a hundred. She’d have died of old age soon if I hadn’t killed her.

I don’t understand. Ever since I first heard the rumors, investigated, tracked down obscure sources, and finally found her, she continually refused to share any of it, even when I offered her the most obscene amounts of money. I could have made her rich. I’d have given her half my wealth for the stuff.

She kept saying, “It’s too dangerous” and “It’s a curse, not a blessing,” and nonsense like that.

Well instead of getting rich, she got dead, and I’ve got the cure for everything. I’d better. I have stage four liver cancer and I’m eighty-one. Not much time left.

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The Man Who Walked On Venus


Artist’s concept of Venus’s forbidding surface. (ESA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

“How’s the weather down there?” Jeremy Howard heard Amy Jefferson’s voice in his ears accompanied by just a hint of static.

“Hot.” He chuckled. “472 degrees Celsius. Atmospheric pressure equivalent to being 900 meters under the surface of the ocean. The wind speed is 710 kilometers per hour with gusts up to 750.”

“Sounds like a wonderful vacation spot.”

“You’re welcome to come down and join me, Jefferson.”

“Not a chance, Howard. This one’s all yours.”

So far it was light banter, but Jefferson was monitoring Howard’s telemetry and she was starting to get worried.

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A Sky Filled With Hope

israel from space

Photo credit: NASA/Barry Wilmore – Israel from space

Each of the 1,038 nanosatellites that launched from the Satish Dhawan space port in India was hardly larger than a milk carton, but these small, inexpensive spacecraft, originally designed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, were the hope of mankind.

Avi Salomon and Havah Tobias stood in Mission Control and watched the monitors as the nanosats reached their initial orbits. The “father” of the project, Professor Dan Blumberg, received a remote feed at Ben-Gurion in Beer-Sheva.

“It’s looking very good, Professor.” Tobias spoke into her microphone. “I think we will be successful.”

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World Under Glass

biosphere 2

© Sascha Darlington

The history of Biosphere 2, supposedly the world’s first self-contained biosphere, was always surrounded by scandal. The first mission couldn’t scrub the CO2 out of the air and illicitly vented it. The second ended with a horrific battle in upper-management. Biosphere 2 entered the 21st century under the guidance of Columbia University, using it for climate change research. The project had been sold to new owners, owners with the correct vision, ethics, and science. Now they declared that after five years of exquisitely correct execution, they had created permanently self-sustaining environments.

Tourism at the Oracle, Arizona site was booming as the Luna and Ares domes were being prepared to be removed and taken by wide-load flatbeds to the Virgin Galactic launch site near Mammoth. Then they were to be mounted on massive Helena V rocket boosters. The Moon’s first colony dome will arrive within days, with its human and animal population arriving the following year. The Mars colony dome will become fully operational five years later.

I’ve always been fascinated by the Biosphere 2 project, and was disappointed by the continued failures and scandals that followed it in the 1990s. It looks like the technology has improved drastically since then, but I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to create a 100% self-contained sustainable artificial biosphere. If we could and if that environment could produce everything it needed to support a population with no external inputs for an indefinite future, then colonizing the Moon and Mars would only be the beginning of a new era of human space exploration.

I wrote this story for the Sunday Photo Fiction – February 12th 2017 challenge. The goal is to use the photo prompt above to create a flash fiction story of no more than 200 words. Mine comes in at a mere 166.

To read more stories based on this prompt, go to

The Mystery of the Fifteen Scrolls


The Temple scroll is the thinnest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Discovered in 1956, it contains God’s instructions on how to run the Temple. Credit: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

“This exciting excavation is the closest we’ve come to discovering new Dead Sea scrolls in 60 years. Until now, it was accepted that Dead Sea scrolls were found only in 11 caves at Qumran, but now there is no doubt that this is the 12th cave,” said Dr. Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology and director of the excavation.

“This is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries, and the most important in the last 60 years, in the caves of Qumran.”

-Dov Smith, February 8, 2017
“Hebrew University archaeologists find 12th Dead Sea Scrolls cave”
Arutz Sheva

Martin Fields wasn’t at the press conference, but he did read this and other news reports about the remarkable discovery.

Actually, he wasn’t all that impressed, but Isis was.

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On Monday the Time Traveler Took Off


Found at Avro 691 Lancastrian Wikiwand

Martin Fields knew time travel was dangerous, but not necessarily annoying. Their take off from the Negombo RAF Station, Colombo had been delayed two hours because of some problem with the Avro 691 Lancastrian One’s radio equipment. Finally, they’d gotten the problem worked out and the five crew, five passenger converted bomber was in the air again.

They were all going to die.

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On Sunday the Time Traveler Stayed Home

allaway 1976

Edward C. Allaway (c.), alleged killer of seven people at California State University two days earlier, is led into Orange County courthouse July 14, 1976. (TMS/Ap)

Martin Fields, time traveler in training, was finally given his first solo assignment.

Normally on Sundays, he stayed in his apartment, forgot about showering, dressed in his most grubby clothes, and tried out a new recipe for dinner.

Martin loved to cook and he loved to try out new foods. He was in his “Middle-Eastern food” stage now. But this Sunday, he figured the stove and the oven would go neglected. He had a solo time travel assignment, and Isis wouldn’t be around to bug him.

Of course, she wouldn’t be around to save his ass either, and this was a potentially dangerous mission. Interestingly enough, he wouldn’t be going anywhere at all…geographically. He would however, be going backward in time nearly 41 years in his own apartment. Of course it wasn’t his back then. He hadn’t even been born yet and the apartment building was brand new.

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On Saturday the Time Traveler Went Hungry

Stalin is an asshole. I couldn’t believe it when Isis told me about this. It never came up in my High School World History class.

It’s March 1933 on a farm, or what’s left of one, in the Ukraine. Her parents, her baby brother are dead. They starved.

That sadistic bastard Josef Stalin wanted to convert large areas of land into collective farms, but he reasoned to do that, he’d have to kill off all of the existing farms run by the peasants. Not only did he destroy existing crops, but he slaughtered all the livestock, any stores of already harvested food, and even seeds kept in sheds for later planting.

Isis said that in 1932 and 33, up to 10 million people in the USSR would starve to death.

I’ve been here for just three days and I haven’t eaten a thing, but the hunger I feel is nothing compared to the suffering this eleven year old girl is going through.

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On Friday the Time Traveler Slept Late

time travel

© Virtual Museum of Canada

Martin’s eyes snapped open the second his alarm clock announced itself with nerve-jarring buzzing.

“Yah! What time is it? Oh shit, I’m late for…”

Then he remembered that he didn’t have to be at the office by 8 a.m. today or ever again. He didn’t work in publishing anymore. He was a time traveler in training.

“But then why…?”

Martin Fields hadn’t had to “punch a clock” in months. Why did he set his alarm?

“In case you were wondering Martin, I set your alarm.”

Martin hastily rubbed his eyes and sat up in bed. “What are you doing here, Isis? Don’t I get a day off?”

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On Thursday the Time Traveler Walked Out

driving drunk


“I quit. I don’t care about the money. I don’t care about anything. You’re going to get me killed.”

Martin Fields removed the Temporal Jump Suit and threw each piece on the floor of his bedroom rather than packing it in its customized carrying case.

“That idiot in Las Vegas almost shot me.”

Isis stood passively listening to Martin as he started removing his clothing, which was appropriate in New Mexico of 1879 but would look like a foolish costume in the present day.

“That idiot was John Henry Holliday, also known as Doc Holliday, and perhaps he would have been less inclined to threaten you if you hadn’t been staring at his common-law wife’s nose.”

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