An essay by Eleanor Bradley, as provided by Annika Sundberg
Art by Leigh Legler

My name is Eleanor Bradley and I am the reason you are alive.

How do I know this, you ask? Anyone could be reading this. But here’s the deal. I saved all of you. You’re welcome. Too bad I didn’t make it to be celebrated. Oh well.

I know, I know. I doubt you even remember impending doom. That’s a good thing. That’s how my team wanted it. Although I also have this drive to have people remember me, so that’s why I’m writing this. Just kinda thumb my nose at my own rule of secrecy. Bet the rest of my team (who made it back, thank heaven) is still silent, resting on their laurels with the knowledge of a job well-done. Good for them. I’m just not that kind of girl.

Ok, sorry. By now you’re pulling your hair out to know what it was I saved all of you from. It was–wait for it–tardigrades. Giant, sentient tardigrades. Turns out the little ones we all thought were so cute, water bears, they were just nanobots from the big guys sent out to find a new place to live. Survive anything you throw at them? Yeah. By design. The big guys aren’t so cute. They’ve got crazy technology we don’t even have the beginnings of understanding for.

Art accompanying "Sacrifice"

It was–wait for it–tardigrades. Giant, sentient tardigrades.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Winter 2019 collection.

Eleanor Bradley worked her way up through the ranks of the Marines until reaching Chief Petty Officer in 2361. She lived in Florida with a roommate until the time of the time of her last mission, detailed within.

Annika Sundberg lives in Pennsylvania with her herd of rabbits. She has her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill. Official Secret Keeper.

Leigh’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at

“Sacrifice” is © 2018 Annika Sundberg
Art accompanying story is © 2018 Leigh Legler

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