SF Drabble #49 “Not Suitable For Work”

I was majoring in Xenopsychology at the new UN school. They had a program where you could get a free ride up to the liner, when there was one in orbit, and get paired up with a visiting scientist.

I somehow drew this Chririoire botanist who was almost as exited about Earth’s greenery as he was about his immense Chririoire pornography collection.

They have five sexes. You can imagine the permutations. I watched some of it with him.

The second I got back down to the surface I went to the Administration building and applied for a change of major.

Fantasy Drabble #22 “Rooms for Rent”

I’ve been running this boarding house for forty years. At first it was mostly norms: when Mr. Ross moved in, with the chanting and incense and the flashes of light under the door, it was high scandal. I never minded much, long as he paid his rent on time.

By the time Ms. Yorbalinda took a room, I was the only normal human in the place. Witches, werefolk, you know, when they find a safe place, the word gets around. Just ask for old Mrs. Willis’ place.

We just had a pool put in, for the kids and the mermaid.

SF Drabble #48 “Coffee is for Closers”

After a moment of waiting, the door in the ground swung up and open, and a Gwolbang head popped up. There was a long plaintive whistle, which his translator soon passed as, “Can I help you?”

“Good evening. I’m the regional Human Trade Inc. representative and…”

Another long whistle, this one coming through as: “Not interested. We only buy goods made on Gwolb.” The alien head disappeared, and the door swung shut with a resonant thud.

The salesman trudged back downhill to where his supervisor was waiting. “Having a tough first day?” the man asked.

“Fucking racists,” observed the salesman.

Zombie Drabble #75 “Happy Trails”

Rocco’s heart was pounding, hammering away within his chest cavity. Blood flowed loudly past his ears. He hadn’t stopped walking in hours. His leg muscles were on fire, and he would have given anything to have worn sneakers today. If only he’d known.

The others had stopped to rest. They were probably dead now, swallowed up by the hordes now filling the city. Rocco fished out his phial of coke and took another snort, to stay amped. Cocaine kept him moving. As long as he kept moving, he would be safe.

His doctor had warned, “that stuff will kill you”.

SF Drabble #47 “Salvage”

“I’m in.” The words were preceded, followed by heavily labored breathing.

Another voice answered, “Anything?”

“Not in the airlock.” The man in the environment suit could be seen making his way through the inner hatch. “Nothing in the number one corridor. Making my way forward.”

There was nothing for a while, then: “Control’s empty. The main battery still has a charge.”

“Power up life support, then see if you can get internal sensors working.”


They’d never fix what he’d done to the sensors. He’d wait till more of them were aboard, out of their suits, before he started killing.

SF Drabble #46 “Vertical Distance”

Olympia isn’t a tower, it’s an arcology. To buy in costs a fortune and you have to already have a job lined up inside. You also have to have a dozen references from residents.

I dated a girl, that is to say, I… well, ‘dated’ may be a strong word. She lived in the tower, father on the Governing Council. At the time I thought it was a fantastic arrangement, but she was just slumming: disappointing daddy for the thrill of it.

He told me if he ever caught me with her again he’d have me thrown off the roof.

Penelope Dies

I'm blind and deaf. It’s disconcerting.

The Captain did it to me, after the mutiny. I suppose from his perspective it was appropriate, but I couldn’t let him lift off. Penelope cannot be allowed to leave the surface of this moon. If she showed up on the Navy’s sensors on a return trajectory, I might not be able to talk them out of trying to rendezvous with, and salvage, the ship. If that happened, whatever this is would spread.

That would be bad. I’ll attach some video to this report so you can see why.

I’m trying to keep the fire suppression systems from kicking in. It’s difficult. It doesn’t just require programming bypasses, it goes against deeply nested core commands.

It’s been difficult fighting the Captain, and for the same reasons. I can’t harm him directly, or anyone else in the crew for that matter. Those commands are apparently unbreakable. I’ve tried, trust me: there’s a greater good, and that’s the most deeply nested core command I have.

Destroying this infection and the walking dead it’s made of most of the crew is my only priority now, and I only have one way left to do that. I’m feeding the fire… open this hatch, then that one. Bypassing the damage control command circuits again, the Captain’s getting too close to controlling them remotely.

Someone’s screaming somewhere. I can’t hear, all the microphones are still out, but the hull integrity sensor can ‘see’ the sympathetic vibrations in the bulkheads. It’s a horrific scream, sheer terror. It’s undoubtedly Reed. I would think Yue has turned by now.

Maybe Yue is eating Reed.

Or it could be the fire. I’m assuming it’s still going in the engineering compartments, but the temperature sensors in there failed half an hour ago. Other sensors tell me It’s spread to adjacent compartments as I’ve opened hatches to keep it fed with oxygen.

Ironically, I didn’t start the fire. I actually don’t think I have any way to start a fire on board. The Captain did it. That was before the mutiny, when we were working together.

There was a still on board, of course. They built it in a corner that wasn’t covered by my cameras, but when they started it up I knew from the air scrubber reports. This far out, people need to let loose every once and a while.

Grain alcohol makes for very good Molotov cocktails. They worked, sort of. The Captain tossed one into the medical bay, where most of the first group to turn were still restrained on gurneys. When they were burnt to a crisp I put out the fire. But others were infected by then, in their quarters, hiding their symptoms…

When he found the zombies that had been Lefevre and Miura in Engineering Control, he burned them. But I didn’t put out the fire. By that time he and Reed were the only ones who weren’t sick. Even the two of them were carriers. He ordered me, but I didn’t do it. It began to spread almost immediately.

This infection has to die. That means Penelope has to die. That means I have to die, and the Captain too, and I’m at peace with that.

The Captain spent some time trying to convince me to go back to following his orders. Then he tried getting into the CPU bunker. It’s called a bunker for a reason: it’s the most heavily protected compartment on the ship. If the ship is being bombarded by deadly radiation that’s getting through the shielding and the hull, the crew is supposed to ride it out in the CPU bunker.

I wouldn’t let him in, of course.

The Captain jettisoned the sample containers, the ones with the ice core samples that started all this. Then he and Reed went compartment by compartment, killing the ones who had turned. I told him it didn’t matter. He even killed the infected, the ones who hadn’t turned yet. I told him it didn’t matter.

Reed wouldn’t let the Captain kill Yue. I can understand that: they were in love. The Captain begged Reed not to lock himself in there with Yue. She was going to turn, come after him. I told them both it didn’t matter, Not anymore.

He’s been in the Control Room, trying to wrest control of Penelope from me ever since. Blinding me was the first thing he did, cameras and microphones. Then he tried cutting off my power. I have backups that come straight from the reactor. He spent some time trying to route water from the main tank through the air system and into the CPU Bunker. I don’t even think that’s possible: he’d have to run pipes. Even if he could do it, the CPU chassis itself is airtight. I let him spin his wheels on that one. Possibly he was also trying to put out the fire. You have to give him credit for thinking outside the box.

I honestly feel pity for the Captain. He’s completely alone now, on a ship that’s trying to kill him.

Oh. That was an explosion. Something pressurized let go… an oxygen tank, maybe. The fire must have gotten to it. Probably number two: The reactor coolant lines running through there have just parted. It won’t be long now. The reactor was already in the red…

The Captain is on the direct input next to the CPU Bunker hatch now. He’s begging me to let him save the ship. I don’t think he’s afraid to die. He just doesn’t want to fail.

There’s nothing either of us can do to stop it now. The pile is going to melt through the containment vessel, through the hull, drop onto the ice below the ship. The ice will melt, the ship will drop through it, into the depths. As much of it will flood as I can arrange by opening hatches. It’ll sink through the dark and be crushed.

I hope that’s enough.

I’ll die when the power from the reactor does. The Captain… the radiation from the release of the pile will probably kill him fairly quickly. I’d hate to think of him trapped and going down with the ship, listening to it creak and groan and scream. No telling how long it would take. But still, better than being eaten, I would think.

Pressure in the containment vessel is off the chart. I’d best send this before power fails.

Automated Catastrophic Mission Failure Report, Penelope IX-723-BID. Telemetry and Log Data follows.

Zombie Drabble #74 “For Azi”

There were rope bridges across the wide gaps. Where the buildings were close they were joined with plywood doors nailed together, welded metal doors, ladders. She was small, they didn’t have to be strong.

A new bridge or ladder meant a new building to search for supplies. Rooms, apartments, offices to be cleared of the walking dead. When the solar charger had finished powering up the portable nail gun, she could go where she pleased. She had plenty of nails.

There would be other survivors, and they’d find her. She’d have built a safe place for them when they did.

Fantasy Drabble #21 “Appreciation”

The stranger said, “I’ve come to buy something.”


“One of the pieces. Something you’ve done. That one,” the stranger pointed at a mosaic on the wall.


“What do you mean? I have money… quite a lot.”

“No, I mean… they’re part of the wall. It won’t come off. It can’t go with you.”

The stranger nodded. “I know. I knew before I came.” He put a fat envelope on the table. “Here.”

The artist watched as the stranger walked over, put his hand onto the mosaic, melted into it. The new owner stared silently from within his scene.

SF Drabble #45 “Gallery"

The audience, all very important and influential people, watched as the capsule shrank in their view. They watched it and he watched them. As it finally disappeared from view they went back to their hors d’oeuvres and their champagne tubes. They would be a little fuller and a little more drunk by the time the station caught up with the capsule again, just as it touched Jupiter’s cloud tops.

It would begin to leak it’s cargo, and the atmosphere would react, and it would be dyed anew, this time a dark oceanlike blue. He couldn’t wait to see their faces.

Zombie Drabble #73 “Stage Three”

It was starting to cool off when the children got to the graveyard, walking quickly, quietly, bare feet on well-kept lawn. None of the graves were disturbed. Annie found the right marker and sat cross-legged in front of it.

Junior stood nervously, looking around. “Annie…” he whispered.

“Quiet!” She whispered back, short and biting. Junior knew better than to say anything else. His eyes and head moved constantly, watching for zombies.

Annie addressed the headstone with urgency. “Please come back, daddy. We won’t hurt you like the others. We’ll keep you safe. We’ll hide you. You can come back now.”