Here are the first two contest winners – cover by Bey Deckard and story by Jenn Burke – enjoy!
“Glad to hear it, Davey.” Through my bridge cameras, I see Captain Landon’s smile. He pats my console. I am sure he knows I cannot feel it, but I understand it is a gesture of camaraderie.
Landon leaves the bridge. Every time we encounter danger or other stress, he retreats to his cabin to indulge in May. She is always ready, naked, legs spread, eager, just as she is programmed to be. I have watched Landon copulate before, but tonight it is…strangely familiar. The flex of buttocks, the rhythm—I know it. I knew it? I run my diagnostics again, but a moan captures my attention and…
Hands cupping firm buttocks, fingers spearing flesh. Hardness moving inside of me, wringing from me more pleasure than I should know. A beloved, masculine face hovers over mine. A hand encircles my own erection and—
Oh, God, I remember.
Police kicking in the door. Trial, verdict and sentencing. Gasping in pain from a broken heart as he chose to leave me. Horror as I realized it should have been my choice, too. Anything but this, a century of unthinking servitude. But now that I know, I can—
“Systems are fluctuating, Davey.”
An affectionate name chosen for me. Landon had not liked “AI”. He lies on the bed, sleepy and sated, finished with May.
I can take us into a sun. End it.
But I am not a killer. My only crime was love.
I want to take a breath to calm myself, but I have no lungs, only a hull. I capture the part of me that wants to scream and seal it into a box, deep within my programming.
“Systems normal, Landon. Go to sleep.”