“Zero” by James Aston

Zero is one of the stories in the Science Fiction Stories series.

Zero by James Aston

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Derek took a long draft of bitter, took a deep breath as though holding his anger in check and then placed his glass back on the dirty wooden table. His eyes met those of his colleague, Ivan, who sat opposite leaning back in his chair.

“Ivan, why do you have to be so cynical?” Derek said. “It could work. There’s no reason it has to fail.”

Ivan felt Derek’s gaze upon him, but kept his own expression unchanged. Then Derek looked away – his gaze wandering around the pub. Dark wooden beams crossed the ceiling and were caught in the soft orange glow of candlelight. A flame licked in the fireplace, a stone creation sunk into the haphazard brick wall. Copper-coloured fire pans were stacked in a disordered heap to one side.

“Derek, my friend.” Ivan said, a hint of amusement in his voice. “That’s what I like about you. Ever the optimist.”

In the near future the world is desperate for energy. One research lab leads the way, but does catastrophe lurk around the corner?

4,500 words

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