Memory Catcher by Cadeem Lalor

She couldn’t remember how she got here, but she wasn’t supposed to. Her name, her place of birth, her family, were all lost to her. Sometimes she came close to remembering, seeing slivers of her past life cut through the memories forced on her. Those slivers, whether good or bad, were hers and she cherished them for seconds at a time. There were other memories drowning her real ones, parasites controlling their host.

The parasites were injected by people whose faces remained hidden. There were no windows, no night and day. The lights in her room always shut off at some point during the day, announcing her bedtime. Yet days still lost their meaning without dates or the seasons. She measured time with her memories, counting the moments between a new one being added.

The Programmer by Fred McGavran

“Larry, your computer hacked into the Math department last night,” Dr. Spivey said. Everyone turned to the computer science doctoral student, the only one not wearing a white lab coat. “What’s going on?”

Larry Newcomb was too shocked to reply. He had been talking with his computer about mathematical expressions of human personality and had jokingly suggested the Baklanov Equations might help. His computer, however, did not get jokes.

Camera Head by Katie Nickas

It’s noon, and Amelia and Herb are standing outside their favorite coffee shop on Cherry Street. A few months ago, they would have been inside, peering with excitement across a cloisonné tablecloth through a clear, glass vase at the refracted other—two more urban youth taking a quick break from achieving their wild, hybrid goals. Amelia would return to the office to find her co-worker, Tiffany, standing next to her desk chewing ice from a large tumbler and admiring her motivational posters.

But things have changed.

Measuring Time by Craig Lamont

11.30 pm.

Tonight, I won’t sleep. Dead relatives stand still in my dreams these past few nights.

I put the lamp on, breathe out. I think of the lights going off in other houses as I decide if I’m up for reading. Across the shadow line of this hemisphere a wall of dreams is taking shape, like clouds on the edge of the weather report, dispersing as the day wheels round.

It is in these moments that you often notice your breathing and you realise you’ve been taking it for granted. Sleeping and breathing, breathing in spite of it all. Even before you were born, the collective breathing dating back. That great grandmother who immigrated, poor and disowned, armed only with the wrong religion and a strong will. These twists of fate in the roots of your family tree somehow led to your being. Somewhere it began, in spite of the hard wind and the rain. You arrived.

Stasis by Ellie Roy

Dust floated in aimless specks in and out of the golden light flooding in through the attic’s sole window.  It was really more of a crawlspace, with a growing number of cardboard boxes among other miscellany crowding the floorboards and only a couple of square feet where one could stand up without craning the head to the side.  The slightest movement between the boxes sent up another small gust of disturbed cobwebs and dust-bunnies.  Leighton sneezed and stacked the newly filled box she was holding on top of another to her right, weaving her way through the growing cardboard towers.

People say that moving house is one of the most stressful things a human can do.  Leighton, meanwhile, felt nothing save a numb sort of relief.  You pick up everything you own, gather all the material pieces of your life, and pack them away to be used another day—if not abandoned altogether.  The temptation to do so was certainly there, and it was unavoidable.  The opportunity to recreate herself.  Destroy the past.  Rebuild from scratch.  She was moving somewhere nobody knew her story or her name.  Hell, she could even choose new ones if she wanted.

Chalkboard of Consciousness by Yash Seyedbagheri     

They know only that you smoke pot. Terms like “addict,” “troubled,” and “stoner” are bandied about. Counselors are recommended. But you’re eighteen. Counselors are for fucked up, abandoned thirteen-year olds. Middle-aged lechers.

They cannot know what it means to smoke pot. They claimed they dabbled back in the day but had to grow up. Put childish things behind.

When you smoke, labels are wiped away by a feeling you call a chalkboard of consciousness. It’s like the idea of John Locke’s tabula rasa, but with a chalkboard hovering in your consciousness, wiped clear of waste and labels. It’s ready to be filled with something else, something of your own choosing.