The Summer 2006 issue of On Spec is available now at better magazine stores (and Chapters) everywhere in Canada, and I'm not sure where else, featuring my story "Outside Chance," my second story in On Spec, as well as many other very fine stories. Here's the first page of "Outside Chance."
Jacob watched the future fade from view as he triggered the relay. He was not sad to see it go; it was a bad one, like a Beckett play come to life. It wasn't hard to imagine Vladimir and Estragon bickering in this wasteland, or Hamm and Clov playing tug-of-war at the end of the world.
Outlines were like that, often as not. It was his job to find out how they got that way, what chain of events had led to the particular doom each future embodied, and to bring back anything that might help ensure the survival of the present. He did not, as much as possible, talk to the people. They didn't really exist, after all; that is to say, they wouldn't.
The cool white of the forecasting room opened up in front of him as the cage finished reeling him in. There was a momentary sense of dislocation and he stood still for a moment, trying not to let the chaos of the room pull him off balance. Displays were holocast onto every wall, giving reports from the forecasters; the line men who tried to pull it all together were running from display to display, synthesizing the data into a recommended path of action, to be whispered into the ears that could make things happen; the dispatchers were deciding to which lines the next wave of forecasters would be sent. Jacob glanced at the display in front of him:
*** -342/3h/+7 POLAR COOLING OPERATION LEADS TO MASSIVE TSUNAMI IN PACIFIC -- APPX 13M RIP *** +479/8l/+2 ENERGY SHORTAGE DUE TO INTERRUPTED GROWING SEASON IN MIDWEST NA -- APPX 2M RIP ***
None of that would be felt down here, of course, even if it was allowed to happen; the forecasting facility was insulated, both by its location and its routines, from the chaos that had made life outside so unpredictable. Jacob unhooked his datapad from his belt and coded it to send his data, expecting out of habit to see it come up on the display. The displays, though, showed only the Probables, lines weeks or days away. A Probable that looked good was nurtured, steered to carefully; Outlines existed only to be looted. Ten or more years in the future, Outlines were so far away on the probability curve they were always shifting, as insubstantial as soap bubbles. You could go into the cage a hundred times and not reach the same Outline twice.