Lyda's signature.  It's a bmp, so I'm sorry if you can't see it.  I've tried to reformat it to no avail.  So, you IMAC people, try to imagine something very stylish and nifty, you know, like an artist would sign their name.




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Maternal Leave
by Lyda Morehouse
Art by Stephen Craig Hasbrouck, Jr.

Horizons:SF Autumn/Winter inside art

You never thought it would happen this way. As he casually unsnaps the quick release on the holster holding the standard issue blaster, you know it's over. You're caught. If you can't convince him you're reg, you're dead. Still, you made it much farther than you expected. You're almost to the edge of megapolis. Staring over the CorpCop's shoulder past the grid gate, you can see the edges of a pale gree expanse. The history books call it the Great Plains. Marcus calls it "Great Plans" because that's what he has for them. For you too, you hope wistfully. This is if this ass of a CorpGrunt will let you get there.

Though you'd rather sneer, you force yourself to smile pleasantly as the Cop approaches. If only you could have gotten past this last sentry. Still, they were bound to notice eventually. Your trench coat disguise was wearing thin. Five months pregnant makes it hard to run from the long arm of the law.

Still against all hope, you put on your most innocent smile and say, "Is there a problem, Officer?" Your tone is sweet, but inside your mind screams that it's not fair. All you wanted was a happy child free from the prying tentacles of the EnCon Corporation. The law says that if you can afford a child you can have a child, that is, provided it's free from any genetically transmitted diseases or deformities. Monty isn't the issue. At least, it hadn't been. Before being declared non-reg you had a fairly decent paying job. (Of course, itsn't it funny how that slipped away from you, too, as soon as your genetic deformity became public record?)

If only the new CEO hand't instituted the gene-scan policy. It was the hot new technology, and it was fast becoming as popular as the Drug-Test craze of the late 1980s. That had been banned since 2035, when the corporations took over the drug trade and legalized it. You hoped the gene-scan would suffer the same fate soon. Corporations were already moving to patent certain gene-combinations. Of course, it was a moot point. It was already too late for you. You were one of its first victims.

"Papers, please," the Cops says, gesturing stiffly towards your swelled stomach. You would if, under all that cyberware, he had some second sense that told him you were non-reg. After all, it couldn't be experience that told him, because he looks so young. The half of his face not marred with the cyberware is smooth. You can even see a few pimples on the otherwise fresh face. He's probably no more than twenty-five, you figure. Your disdain grows, as you wonder how he managed to score such a coveted check-point as such a tender age.

You remember the days before the gene-scan when you were a fresh-faced cadet like him. You'd had big dreams in those days. The Corporation seemed to hold a bright future for and Marcus. Marcus was your commanding officer, but you fell in love with him anyway. His Romanesque features looked so handsome in that black uniform and his laughter was infectious. Those were the days. You can't help but smile as you imagine the sunlight against his black curly hair and the way his hand felt in yours. The gene-scan had gotten him too. And for what? He was slightly myopic. Still he was considered genetically deformed. For that they'd stripped him of his honor and position. You remember the day he left clearly, when they came and took his uniform away. You felt his hurt deeply that day. It was the only time you ever saw him cry. As you think of it, the anger starts to grow in you.

When the Cop clears his throat, you realize your mind's been wandering. You quickly reassess the situation at hand. Why did this have to happen now that freedom was within sight? You can almost small the sweet grass through the gate. Cursing him silently, you try to look nonplussed as you fish through your purse. "Hmmmmmmmm," you say, hoping to convince him, "I had them here a moment ago." Your fingers brust the cold steel of the stun-jack. Suddenly, you wonder if you could take him. Like everything you own, the stun-stick is non-reg-jerry-buildt to sent 8,250 volts crashing into whatever the tip contacts. It's your only weapon, but it packs one hell of a whallop.

While continuing your search for the non-existent papers, you attempt to assess the situation. Under the veil of your long lashes, you scan his body armor: shock absorbing flack jacket over his vitals, hardward and riot helmet protecting his head. The material of his pants look like leather, but they could be reinforced, too. The knees are. You can tell that from the squarish bulge around them. But, you wonder, watching his hands hover towards the blaster, if the legs aren't your best shot. Now all you need to do is distract him.

"Aw, shit," you murmur. With your fist around the stun-jack you feign a fumble of the purse. As the contents spill on to the ground, you carefully watch his eyes. Just as you'd hoped, they follow the motion. It's the oldest trick in the book, but he falls for it. He even begins to bend to help you retrieve your things. Not only is he distracted, but also off balance. You strike. The jack emits a short buzze as you jam the tip into his thigh. With your free hand, you reach for the blaster. Sometimes, you smile as you flick off the safety with your thumb, it pays to be ambidextrous. Just in case the volts didn't fry him, you swing the pistol around, tracking his fall. He twists as he falls, trying to kick you with his good leg. It's a vain effort, and besides, you're ready for it. Stepping effortlessly out of the way, you point the barrel right between his eyes and say, "You're fucked."

If you want to read how the story ends, write to the address below!

Horizons:SF is a Canadian magazine published by the University of British Columbia's Science Fiction Society. Direct mail copies are available for $4.00 Canadian, including postage. Write to: Horizons SF, Box 75, Student Union Building, 6138 SUB Boulevard, University of British Columbia, Vancover, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z1. Or by e-mail: