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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
'57 Chevy
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By Gary Moshimer
A Visit to India From America...
_ By Shubha Venugopal
Calista Flockhart and the MySpace Hoax
_ By Michael Frissore
Recollections and Revelations
_ By Elizabeth Harbaugh
Springtime Visits
_ By Phyllis Link
Stupendous Stew
_ By Malerie Yolen-Cohen
The Genius
_ By Ray Templeton
The Stranger Below
_ By Sam Vargo
Truant
_ By Louise Norlie
Vacation
_ By Dan Devine
Vegetarian Rage
_ By John A. Ward
What Might Pass Between Them
_ By Alexandra Leake

Poetry
A Glutton For Truth
_ By Richard Fein
A Question of Proper Form
_ By Richard Fein
Boiler Man
_ By Leland Jamieson
Horizons
_ By Davide Trame
Lioness In Miniature
_ By Grace M. Murray
Outdone
_ By Pete Lee
Real Life Elocution
_ By Richard Fein
Rewriting An Ending
_ By Rumit Pancholi
September
_ By Tim Shell
Seven Ways of Looking at a Full Moon
_ By Naiya Wright
Shalom
_ By Jeanne Hugoe-Matthews
Sideways
_ By Kristine Ong Muslim
Spirit
_ By Patrick Frank
The Empty Spaces After You
_ By Rumit Pancholi
Thesaurus
_ By Ed Higgins
Uncle Zebulon
_ By J.R. Salling

Art & Photography
Dora Calo
Robert Carter
Noah Erkes
Andrew Patsalou
Saulius
Filip Wierzbicki

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Vacation
By Dan Devine


"So, how does this thing work?"

The attendant at the desk looked up from his podium, donning his best friendly customer-service smile. His dark hair was cropped very short beneath the cap that was part of his uniform. He looked like he'd been kicked out of the Marines for being too nice. I pegged him at about a fourth of my age.

"Ma'am?"

"The technology involved. How does it work?"

I noticed his bright, cheery eyes roaming over my shoulder to the long line waiting behind me as he tried to gauge to what extent I was going to ruin his day.

"It's all perfectly safe, ma'am." His voice took on the measured tones of someone reciting an oft-practiced speech. "Off-World Travel is the most popular recreation company on the planet. We have literally millions of customers each year. Our health and safety record is unblemished."

"That's nice." I gave him an unwavering stare. "Humor me, though. How does it work?"

The man directly behind me in line cleared his throat and began jingling his keys. The attendant mustered his professionalism and fought off an expression of exasperation.

"Cities today are a jumble of overcrowding, noise, and pollution. People yearn for simpler times when we still had something called a 'countryside.' Sure, there are a few nature refuges out there, but they're always too crowded with tourists to really feel like an escape. Space stations feel too artificial. Vacationing on other planets is the obvious solution, but due to the boundary imposed by the speed of light, traveling to them is a waste of your lifetime. And who really has five hundred years of vacation time saved up, anyways?"

His lips quirked into a plastic smile.

"Off-World Travel has solved that problem with their revolutionary technology that transfers the spirit rather than the body. We provide a whole new body on a whole new planet! Experience the wonder of an untamed wilderness or a not quite so tamed civilization if you're a little less adventurous - and at the same time relive the miracle of youth."

I raised an eyebrow.

"What's more, our process allows us to direct your spirit through time as well as space. That means you can sign up for vacation packages ranging from short stays to decades, and you'll still get home the instant you left! Talk about taking a break! The only limit is your budget."

"Isn't it always?" I replied sardonically. The attendant remained unruffled. I perused the offered catalog. Their prices were actually amazingly affordable. I noted the seventy-year package was the most popular, but decided upon the cheaper fifty-year option instead.

I gave the attendant a resigned nod. He had sold me.

"Very well, what've I got to sign?"

I skimmed over the paperwork as I filled it out. I'd signed my name on fewer lines the last time I bought a house.

"What's this bottom one about?" I asked, alarmed that it appeared to be a page discussing some sort of medical condition, which seemed to contradict the attendant's earlier claims.

I heard the man behind me sigh quite audibly.

"Oh, that's just a waiver explaining that people sometimes experience temporary memory loss during the vacation. Not once in our billions of customers served has there been anyone who retained any memory loss upon returning from the excursion. However, you may find some of your memories are inaccessible to you while away on the trip. Most people actually comment that this adds to their enjoyment. That's the goal of a good vacation after all! Experience new things, forget all your worries, ha ha."

I didn't return the laugh; instead I gave him a scalding look while I completed the last form. Everybody I knew had been on one of these things, and they were all pushing me to try it, so I guessed it couldn't be too bad. I finished my documents and moved on.

For once in his life, the attendant greeted the next customer with heartfelt enthusiasm.

***

My mouth was filled with fluid; I couldn't breathe. I coughed wretchedly, using the blessed air that poured into my lungs to call for help. Someone slapped me on the back, hard. I blinked, confused. I couldn't really recall who I was, or how I had gotten here.

I raised my eyes and recoiled in horror when I realized I must be within the grasp of a giant. There were still flecks of liquid in my eyes, so he was too blurry to make out clearly. Just a mixture of bright white, drab green, and shiny silver. There was a painful tug at my stomach, but my head seemed to be lolling uselessly and I couldn't angle it in the right direction to figure out what had happened.

I felt myself passed off to another pair of giant hands. This set toweled me off and wrapped me in some kind of cloth. Feeling dry and warm, I calmed sufficiently to better observe my surroundings. I had just enough time to discover that the white clad giant carrying me was a woman, when I was handed off to a second female lying on a bed nearby.

"You've got a daughter!" exclaimed the first, beaming.

"Hello, Emily!" said the second warmly, hugging me close to her. "Welcome to Detroit!"

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DAN DEVINE is an inaccurate scientist by day and an aspiring author by night. He served for a time as the editor of Fools Motley magazine, but has recently decided to focus on improving his own writing. Since then he has published stories in Dark Fire, Afterburn SF, and Flash Tales magazines.

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