Magazine: Compelling Science Fiction #3

compelling 3Compelling Science Fiction

Love ’em or hate ’em, the Four Apes are back for tonight’s intro story:

We pieced together that the bad guys were going to steal the gold from Fort Knox, and we wanted to throw a monkey wrench in their plans.  The problem was, we didn’t know how or when they planned to steal the gold.  Fu said that our best bet, under the circumstances, was to steal the gold ourselves before the bad guys got there.

Government protocols dictate three levels of security:  level one to keep out the curious or crazy, level two for the run-of-the-mill smash-and-grab criminals, and level three for teams like ours.  We took out the level one guards without doing them any permanent damage, and without setting off any alarms.  Bobo took over their control center, watching their camera screens while Fu, Herman, and I moved towards the vault.

In one hand, Herman holds a terrified security guard by his collar.  In the other, he carries an industrial-strength pulverizing machine.  Fu lugs coils of flexible tubing.  I take point, armed with one of our tranquilizer-dart rifles.  I whisper into my all-purpose communicator, “Bobo, you’ve got to get us a location on the level two responders, and find out what the heck they’re using for level three.”

Bobo’s always been a fast texter, and his response begins before I finish talking.  “No lvl 2.  No lvl 3.  Nothing.  Nothing.”

The circular vault door looks impenetrable, but I spray the hinge and bolt locations with breaching goo and wait for it to silently eat through the metal.  Herman sets up the pulverizer while Fu uncoils his tubing down the hallway.  Everyone knows the government flushes billions down the toilet every day, but we’ll be the first to do it literally.  The sewer system will carry our loot away, and a sluice-box will collect it downstream.

After twenty minutes, and four more goo applications, Herman shoves the vault door inward.  The door hitting the floor should alert every level of security they’ve got, but Bobo still signals “nothing.”  I snap four light-sticks and throw them into the unlit vault.  By their greenish glow, we see the gold-bar racks, all empty.  No gold in sight.

Herman lifts the guard to his level and roars in his face.  It’s an interrogation technique that has never failed us.

I slap the man to get his attention.  “Where’s the gold?”

He doesn’t hesitate before answering.  “Gone.  Gone.  It’s all gone.  Government’s trillions in debt.  Had to prop up the last bond auction.”

Later, we’d find out where the world’s gold supplies were ending up, and the dastardly use they were being put to.  But, that is another story.

Short Stories

The Undertow Jackpot by Karl El-Koura.  This sci-fi story has a bit of a twist at the end, but it seems to wander around rather than staying on topic.

Trashure Island by Rich Larson.  An augmented-reality program makes trash look like treasure, so players will go around picking up garbage to score points.  Unfortunately, there’s no real story to go along with the tech idea.

Also, the author may not know a lot of gamers, because about five minutes after this game’s release, players would be dumping trash everywhere, so they could then pick it up and score points.

The Law of Diminishing Returns by Dominic Teague.  A man kills his wife’s lover.  One kill isn’t enough, so he keeps time traveling to earlier and earlier times to kill the guy again.  Then, he learns he’s been killing the wrong man, so he has to go back and un-do all his kills.

Intent to Occupy by Ronald Ferguson.  This story has a blue-collar sci-fi feel to it.  A couple flees Luna and occupies Ceres.  There was too much talk of legal contracts for me.  It made up part of the worldbuilding, but it’s just not my thing.


  1. Your aside on the Trash story made me laugh because it is so true.

    1. That could make the story more interesting, too. Game is released to reduce trash on the streets, so gamers make a mess. Game patch only gives points for trash which has been in place for 24 hours, so gamers attack anyone who tries to pick up “their” trash. Gangs of gamers fight turf wars over trash-covered streets.

      1. That would actually make for a hell of crazy dystopian novel. Complete with Chinese trash farmers that wealthy yuppies and NEETs pay to pick up garbage for them and score points. It would bring up a lot of really interesting class questions! One character could be a garbage man who is is playing the game on the job and becomes one of the top ranked player by cheating the system to count each of his pickups as a score.

        1. Trash farmers vs. garbagemen. Too bad the author didn’t think of that.

      2. YES!!!! Gangs, love it!
        and you know, that is pretty much how I would expect it to go down 😀

        1. Well, the author didn’t take the idea very far, but we’re sure having fun with it!

          1. and I’m not even a gamer. I can only imagine what a serious gamer could do to break the game.

  2. I love the four apes and am glad to see them on an adventure.

    1. They’ll get one or two more episodes of their own, and some guest appearances.

      1. Wonderful. I really like them.

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