By Iron Horse

I have decided to return to the country estate for my convalescence, dearest Mathilda, and should arrive there close behind this letter. I expect you to have a heaping plate of your famous lavender cookies ready for me when I arrive (get Harriet to help you if needed) and a pile of books picked out as I will immediately dragoon you into reading to me in the garden.

Do not tell mother I am coming as I would rather like to be a surprise (unless she was there when Carlton gave you this letter, in which case the jig is up.)

You will be proud to learn that I have been mentioned in dispatches, though I am only just hearing of it now as I was quite insensible while in hospital in France. There may even be a decoration to be had, perhaps even a VC, though of course one affects not to care about such things. The lads caught the worst of it as one might expect, but their morale is high, and should I be returned to the fighting I believe we may be done with this ugly business by winter.

See you soon, dearest sister.

Love,

Harold

Disillusionment

I'd been born in a big hospital in downtown New York, just a few blocks from where my father worked in a building with a statue of a bull outside, but by the time I was eight he'd had his fill and we'd moved way the hell out into the country.

I hated it. The kids didn't know anything, there was nothing to do but wander, and I couldn't sleep at night for the quiet. I kept a shrine to city life on my nightstand: a subway token, arcade tickets, a copy of the Times comic section, and a candle.

I fantasized constantly that one day soon dad's work would call: there was some sort of finance emergency and they needed him to come back to put things right. But of course it never happened. That's how, eventually, I came to realize that my father wasn't really all that important.

Zombie Drabble #430 "Timberline"

It's been three… no, four days since I've seen a zombie, not even a hint of a whiff of a shadow of one. Not many people out here to turn in the first place, I suppose, and the ones that did probably followed their noses south months ago.

They don't do well in the cold, that much I know; it's why I'm headed North, up into where the grass gives way to snow and ice and even the pines shrink to nothing. I know how to fish, I can hunt, I can survive. I don't know if the world will.

Basilisk

You're a collector, isn't that what you said? I collect girls, pretty girls, I put them in a box, just to look at. You said there were dozens that you'd snatched over the years; I wondered why there weren't any screams or whimpers or panicked whispers, but having seen the statues, now I know.

They had to be pretty, right? They had to be pretty for you, that's why the mirror. You had to have them doll themselves up. Did any of them try this trick before me? How many got close?

Well now you're part of your collection. Enjoy.

Three Line Thursday: "Ejection Seat"

Ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do no more.
Worked my ass off three solid months for that car.
I’m free. You all hear me, goddammit? I’m finally free.

Nereid

"Where's Andie?"

"At the high school. She's got swimming."

"Swimming again? Is that every week?"

"Three times a week. Plus she goes on her own after school sometimes, sometimes even on the weekends. It's as if all she wants to do is spend time in the water. Can't keep her out of it." She sighed. "Girl has twenty-three swimsuits, Carla. Twenty-three. Can you imagine?"

"Maybe there's a boy."

"It's a girls' team."

"Well, they hang around, you know how they are. Like Bob used to hang around for you after band."

"Maybe. I mean she's certainly at an age where she should be dating."

"Or… Jeanie, maybe there's a girl."

There was a pause, and then a shrug. "Maybe. That'd be all right too."

"You're so modern."

"Well, really, Carla, I just want her to be happy; I only wish I could get her to be happy on dry land."

SF Drabble #462 "Collaborator"

"I'm trying to help you."

"You work for them."

"We all work for them. That's the way it is. Maybe it could have gone another way, but they're here now, and they're in charge, and if you want to earn work credits for food, you'll follow the rules."

"And if I don't?"

"I'll report you."

"Of course you will."

"If I don't, I lose my position, and my work credits, and I starve to death. I'm a couple years from making Class C, and if you think I'm letting you fuck that up for me, you're out of your mind."

SF Drabble #461 "Engineer"

Twenty years, then ding: you wake from hibernation, stretch, yawn, dispense yourself a cup of coffee and then start going through the graphs and charts and readouts and error dumps and false-color images the computer has accumulated while you've been asleep.

Everybody else is behind you, between the crew module and the drive section, still asleep, cargo. They'll stay that way until you get to Epsilon Eridani.

It's days or weeks getting through all the data, and then you're back into hibernation again. I'd tell you you're not awake long enough to feel lonely, but it'd be a goddamn lie.

Genealogy

She was called Mary Margaret, and she was your grandmother. You look like her, do you see, around the eyes and above the lips. You smile like she did, sometimes.

When she died I was given some of her things. The big painted platter that comes out at Christmas was hers, and the piano. There is some jewelry, but not much: a ring, a silver necklace, a few earrings.

And the housecoat. That housecoat. I remember curling up in her lap and falling asleep amidst the folds of it. It's hanging in my closet; it still smells of the sea.

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