Thursday, November 4, 2021

“The Memory Excavator” • by Adriana Kantcheva


The Pete Wood Challenge returns this week with six new stories, all keying off a simple premise: imagine an archaeological dig, as run by incompetent political appointees…

Next up, this story by new contributor Adriana Kantcheva, who surprised us by taking the idea off in a quite unexpected direction.




“So, how deep are we supposed to dig?”
asked Mr. Wolfsdeer.

Ms. Danielson checked her file. “The witness is fifty-eight now. We need the layer of his thirty-sixth year of life.”

Mr. Wolfsdeer turned the knob of the memory excavator. “OK. About two decades back. Here we go.”

“Wait! That’s four decades. We’ll be fined for privacy violation.” 

“Sheesh, Ms. Danielson. The knob slipped. I’m just an archivist.”

Their manager’s argument that memories were only messily archived files seemed phony now.

“Ms. Danielson, look. What’s that?”

“Mr. Wolfsdeer! Turn that knob right back.”

“But look. So curvy. That must’ve been his first—”

“It’s a lovely vehicle. An old-timer. Now turn that knob.”

“Alright, alright. Two decades back only.”

¤     ¤     ¤

Adriana Kantcheva is a Bulgarian writer of speculative fiction who lives in southern Germany with her family. She has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and has worked as a science editor. Her fiction also appears in Short Édition, Electric Spec, and others. Find more about Adriana at or get in touch with her on Twitter (@AKantcheva) or Instagram (adriana.kantcheva).


In a world...

Where the Soviet Union won WWII, England is now a Soviet satellite, some magic actually works (sometimes), and Premier Kruschev is going eyeball-to-eyeball with President Patton—

The last surviving member of His Majesty’s Dragonslayer Corps is called out of retirement, because it seems dragons aren’t extinct after all and one has taken up residence in a prominent Politburo member’s country estate. Read the rest in THE SHE-DRAGON OF BLY, by Jason D. Wittman, just one of the terrific tales in STUPEFYING STORIES 22!

Available now in paperback, on Kindle, or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.