The Girl in 4E

Booley shuffled down the dusty steps to his apartment building's security door, and once there quietly and slowly pulled open the curtain just enough to see outside. The street was littered with abandoned cars and taxis, but it was passable. More importantly, there were none of the walking dead in evidence. There had been a couple of them milling around the day before, but they had meandered off down towards the river after a change of wind and so far had not returned.

He pushed the door open and hurried up the street, hunched over against the cold. When he reached her building, he wasted no time on the long-dead call buttons: the key to the security door was already in his hand, and he let himself in without delay.

Booley didn’t give the quiescent elevator a second’s thought. Hanging his hat and coat on the banister, he proceeded up the stairs to the fourth floor. As he tiptoed down the hall, he listened carefully for any noises that would betray her mood, but heard nothing. Once he reached her door, he knocked quickly and quietly.

No answer came. But, since there was always the chance she was asleep, or even listening to music with her ear-buds in, he knocked again, as loudly as he dared. He was reasonably sure her building was safe, but while there had been none in view on the street there were many places a zombie might be hidden from view in a city.

Finally he heard her moving inside: a rustle of blankets, bare feet padding lightly on carpeted floor. There was a long moment of silence that she must have used to peer at him through the peephole. Eventually the door slowly swung open, and Camille stared blankly at him, dressed in flannel pajamas and holding the .45 pistol he had often insisted was much too large for her to wield safely. As far as he knew she had never once fired it.

"Batteries," he blurted awkwardly. "I found some." He fished in his pockets, eventually producing a pack of 8 double-A's, unopened, pristine. "Batteries."

She looked at them, and then up at Booley. "I guess you can come in if you want." She stepped back enough for him to pass into the apartment, which he did at once, then pushed the door shut behind him. She said, as if to excuse herself from being more welcoming, "I have sort of a headache."

"You look thin. Have you been eating enough?" He winced at the sound of his own voice: parental, at best avuncular.

She shrugged. Of course she hadn't; he didn’t need to search her kitchen to know the pantry was all but bare. She never went out scavenging on her own, not outside her building anyway.

He put the battery package on the coffee table. Her blinds were down, and the apartment was relatively dark. "Were you sleeping? Did I wake you?"

"No. I was reading. Well, sort of. I'm looking for something to read." Camille gestured at the bookshelves: three tall edifices packed with hardcovers, the leftover spaces filled in with paperbacks. "I keep starting things and realizing I just read them. I don't get it. I couldn't have just read them all, could I?" She looked at him, head cocked to one side, as if she were actually asking a reasonable question and expecting a considered answer.

Booley said, "I don't know. How fast do you read?"

"Pretty fast, I guess. Mom had me take a speed-reading class when I was in school. She wanted me to be a lawyer or something. Something that would make me a lot of money, you know."

"Mothers are like that." Camille's mother had survived the plague and the horde to die three months later of a heart attack. Booley had carried her body up to the roof and burned it on a makeshift pyre. Camille hadn't come with. It had been windy that day, and the smoke had been carried away quickly: he'd only had to stay in her building for two days before it was safe enough on the street to go out again. "I'm going to bring you some food next time I—"

"I'm leaving." She sat down on the sofa and wrapped a fleece blanket around herself for warmth.

"What? When?"

She shrugged. "Maybe tomorrow."

"Where are you going to go?"

"Out of the city. My Uncle Reese has a place upstate. He's a survivalist type, you know? Basement full of powdered milk and shotguns. Mom didn’t want to make a try for it, but now that she’s gone…"

Booley was filled with panic. Camille was the only one left within blocks, the only one he knew, who he could trust. There had been others at first, a few in a building here, a few there, but one by one they had disappeared or turned on each other or been bitten. Now there was only Camille.  "How are you going to make it all the way upstate?"

"I'm going to take my bike while I'm still strong enough to ride it. And then I've got Dad's gun." It was resting on the couch beside her, and she patted it. “And some ammo in a box.”

He was formulating what to say in response, but after a moment she added, "You don't want to come with." It wasn't a question: she was telling him he couldn't tag along. "Reese doesn't know you, and I don't know how much he's still got. If he's there at all."

"Right." Booley nodded, trying to seem like he was taking the news well. "You're probably right."

She didn't say anything for a minute. He backed up and sat heavily in the armchair, the old green one her mother used curl up in. Camille picked up the batteries. "Double A?"


"Do you have any nine-volts?"

"I might…" He had a drawer full. Batteries were on his 'always pick up' list for when he went scavenging.

"I have a little transistor radio. I know it works from last summer when the power went off for two days, but the batteries in it are dead now—"

"I'll bring one over tomorrow. Maybe two."

"I appreciate it." She got up, and walked over to hand him the battery package. "I don't need any double A's, though. You can keep these."

He stuffed them back into his pocket. "I'll bring you the nine-volts in the morning."


He made his way to the door, but turned to caution her, as seriously as he could manage, "Don't leave before I come by. Promise?"


He stepped out into the dark, musty hall with little relish, and she closed the door behind him without ceremony. The brass-painted "4E" briefly swung back and forth from the single nail holding it in place. Booley made his way forlornly back down the stairs to where he had left his hat and coat. There, leaning against the mail boxes, was Camille's bicycle. Booley briefly fantasized about taking it, hiding it, preventing her from leaving, but of course there are no undead bicycle thieves; she would have known him to be the culprit.

Putting his coat and hat back on, he pulled open the door and hurried back out onto the street, to scurry between the abandoned cars back to his own building. As before the security door key was already in had before he needed it, and he was inside never having stood still.

In his apartment there was little room to move around amidst all his scavenged possessions, but he sidled slowly through the box-filled living room and into the kitchen. Pulling open a drawer, he tossed in the package of batteries; it came to rest with dozen of packages just like it.

SF Drabble #251 “Tension and Release”

Nav called out, “Two minutes.”

The jump clock was counting down; the crew was on-edge but keeping busy. The Captain answered absent-mindedly, “Two minutes, aye.”

The enemy home planet would appear in front of them, and they would either be caught unprepared and defenseless or they would be ready, waiting to pounce as soon as the fleet appeared.

“Board is green.” It was the third time Weps had said it, so the Captain ignored him.

The seconds ticked away, and the tension mounted “All right, people. Let’s get this nonsense over with and get home; I’ve got things to do.”

SF Drabble #250 “Counting Coup”

“Here they come again.”

The Ambassador looked skyward: the Eileiocca swooped down as a group, wings outstretched, passing mere meters above the assembled humans. His hair and clothes were buffeted by the displaced air, and he covered his ears to protect his eardrums against the loud scree of their war-cry.

“It’s quite impressive, isn’t it?” Doctor Reese opined as soon as he put his own hands down.

“Yes, very much so,” agreed the Ambassador, allowing only the slightest tinge of annoyance to creep into his voice. “But are they ever going to land and talk? We’re on a schedule here.”

Fantasy Drabble #181 “Appointment”

The doorbell was an unwelcome event, and Calvert took his time rising, shuffling to the door, unlatching the chain, and pulling the door open. He said, curtly: “What.”

She was young and pretty. Girls like her did not come to his door ordinarily. He immediately distrusted her. She smiled sweetly and said, “Mister Willis?”

“Who wants to know?”

“I’m Jillea?”

“What the hell kind of name is that? And what do you want?”

“I’m your angel, Mister Willis. You need to come with me—”

He slammed the door in her face. After a long, terrifying moment, the doorbell rang again.

Zombie Drabble #283 “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”

They’d disconnected the warning beeps: the mobile crane’s engine noise was bad enough to draw zombies from a couple miles in any direction. Fortunately after their sweeps there weren’t many of the walking dead still around, at least for now. Still, just in case, they kept pickets and lookouts posted.

The next timber was lowered slowly into place, sliding into the slit trench with ease. The ground crew unhooked the chains and began to lash it in place. In a week they’d have a fortress no horde could batter their way into: old school, frontier-style. Assuming they had a week.

Zombie Drabble #282 “Public Service Announcement”

By mid-afternoon they were cutting into shows on TV so whatever newscaster on their payroll with the most gravitas could read the press releases. They were playing hastily recorded phone interviews. They were offering tips on various survival strategies, listing supplies in order of importance as bullet points. They were offering various origin theories both medical and supernatural. They were declaring martial law. They were declaring the apocalypse. They were pausing oddly, awkwardly running their hands through their hair and trying to keep their shit together.

We didn’t fucking need to be told what to do. We’ve seen the movie.

Chuck’s New Frank

Patrick stepped into the air-conditioned comfort, already a relief after just a few moments between the car and the truck stop diner front door.

Mercifully, he found the place only sparsely populated, and thus all that much easier to pick out Chuck from a description so recently committed to memory: young, average height and build, dirty blond hair shaggy but off the collar, department store clothes and shoes. He was in a booth, appreciatively studying the menu. Patrick slid into the seat opposite him. "Good afternoon."

"Afternoon," Chuck said, and continued studying the menu, as if having a stranger join him for lunch was a common occurrence.

Patrick waited a moment, to see if he would say anything else. When it was clear he was more interested in the menu, Patrick continued, "I'm Frank."

Chuck glanced up and then back down to the menu. "What happened to the old Frank?"

"Re-assigned. Moved on to other things."

"I liked the old Frank."

Patrick shrugged. "I don't know him. But I'll pass along your regards through channels—"

"It's fine."

"You don't have to call me 'Frank' if you don't want to. It's not really my name—"

"I know. I don't mind calling you Frank, it's fine. It's not as if my name is actually 'Chuck'."


"None of this was my idea, you know."

"I understand. I've been fully briefed."

"I imagine that took all of ten minutes. Local minutes even."

Patrick laughed. "Slightly longer. But most of what they told me was preceded by 'we think' rather than 'we know'."

Chuck chuckled quietly to himself. "And what was your reaction?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well, I'm always fascinated on how new people process that kind of information."

Patrick thought about it for a minute. "Well… I mean, I was pretty freaked out at first, I have to admit. But I guess you just have to find a way to shoehorn it into your mental picture of the universe, don't you? "

"I suppose so."

"So, that's what I did. I mean, you don't get into that briefing in the first place if you haven't met all sorts of psych-evaluation standards. And here I am… "

"The new Frank."

"The new Frank."

Before he could continue, Chuck asked, "You eating?" The waitress was approaching; he held out the menu.

Patrick awkwardly took it. "Uh… Maybe."

Chuck smiled at the waitress, and spoke before she could. "Hi; I'll have the Reuben. And a milk."

She wrote it down, and looked at Patrick. "And for you?"

"Cheeseburger and fries. Medium well. And a regular coffee."

"Coming right up," she said with a smile, and after retrieving the menu, sashayed off towards the kitchen.

"She seems nice," Chuck offered.

Patrick was uninterested in the waitress. "So do you have anything you'd like to talk about?"

"Like what?"

Patrick shrugged. "Like, anything."

"Not really."

"Have you—" The waitress was approaching with their drinks. "Have you spoken to your friends?"

"My friends? All the time. We're always in contact."

"Right, but: have there been any changes of plan that you think we should know about? Or," Patrick leaned in a bit, "any messages you'd like to pass along?" The waitress was placing the coffee very carefully in front of him, depositing tiny containers of creamer onto the saucer rim.

To Patrick, Chuck responded, "Not really. I can ask, but I doubt it." To the waitress he smiled and said, "Thank you."

"Any time. Your food will be out in a few minutes."

"Thank you." Patrick added. "Do you think… that is to say: do you have any specific information about their arrival time that you'd like to pass along?"

"Not really."

"But they're still coming?"


"It's been quite a while, you understand. Not that anyone is impatient. It's simply the anticipation of it, you know."


"But you can't say when—"

"Oh, they'll be along." He took a deep draught of his milk. "In good time."

Patrick said nothing, took a moment to mix his creamer into his coffee, add some sugar. He lifted and blew away a wisp of steam from over the cup; he didn't attempt to drink it yet.

"You seem disappointed," Chuck observed.

"Not at all."

"Come on, Frank." Chuck said, wiping away a milk mustache. "Look at me. Imagine the information my friends had to gather to construct such a convincing replica. And to reproduce believable behavior. You don't think they would also give me all of that information in a form I could use to read people?"

"Okay, I'm disappointed. Happy?"

"Not at all. But if you're going to be the new Frank, you have to be honest with me: that's the deal. That's the deal, Frank."

"I understand the—"

"Of course you're disappointed: a week ago you were called into an office and told that the little green men were coming and they already had a guy here and how would you like the job and congratulations and I know you won't let us down. You probably walked out of that meeting not knowing your own name, Frank. But you had a few days to think it through, and now you're excited. You want it all to happen, and happen now."

"Well, why wouldn't I?"

"Why indeed. But here's what you need to know…"


"You know you're not the first Frank. But you're not the second, either. You're not even the eighth or the twentieth. There've been a lot of Franks, Frank. And there'll probably be more Franks after you. Get your head around that right now. Think of yourself as a caretaker, Frank. That way, if it does happen while you're Frank, it'll be a nice surprise."

For a long moment, Patrick stared out the window. Waves of heat were rising from the pavement, to accompany the steam rising from his coffee.

The waitress arrived with their food. As she laid down the plate with his burger, Patrick asked, "Could I get a glass of milk also?"

SF Drabble #249 “Twilight Years”

I can’t explain it, not so you would really understand. First you’re swimming, treading water, and then they come up to get you. You feel like you’re about to drown, you’re drowning. It’s not until your lungs are full of water that the thing really starts, I don’t know why, But that’s when they’re suddenly around you, down your throat, inside.

It’s not sexual, regardless of what  people say: it’s communication. You go from panicky thrashing to a pleasant conversation in a couple seconds. Mort went back up to the liner right after, shaken, but I want to go again.

SF Drabble #248 “Ricky’s Retirement”

Ricky isn’t his name, it’s just what we call him. I think he picked it at random out of a guestbook, probably from the one in New York they all stay at after arriving.

Anyway, Ricky had some money, and they’d just passed the Interstellar Commerce Act, so selling him the land was perfectly legal. We didn’t even think too much about it when he had the original house torn down. The one he’s building now, well: I guess it has a charm all its own. I gather the materials are all basically secretions. I hope it’s up to code.

Fantasy Drabble #180 ”T Intersection”

He must have fallen asleep while waiting for a left turn arrow and rolled forward; he awoke already in motion and braked in a panic halfway down a street that hadn’t been there when he had stopped.

The old-timey constable — right out of central casting, handlebar moustache and all — stepped up to his window and asked, “Having some trouble, sir?”

“I guess… I fell asleep.”

“How far do you have to go?”

“Maybe twenty miles?”

“Well, Mrs. Bea’s Inn is right there, better to go the rest of the way in the morning.”

It seemed reasonable enough at the time.

Zombie Drabble #281 “All Out Of Love”

We were married in a little gazebo by the shore. After the reception we spent two weeks on Fiji. We didn’t leave that bungalow on the water for three straight days. So being stuck in the shelter for months at a time with the love of my life when the zombie apocalypse happened didn’t seem like a bad deal.

Now? Toenail clippings. He leaves them all over the floor, under his chair, by the bed, everywhere. I even found one in my breakfast cereal the other morning. I won’t even get into the flatulence. I’m planning ways to kill him.

SF Drabble #247 “Elvis is Alive”

They’ll tell you it’s not real, but they’re lying. They’re lying to protect themselves, to protect their stranglehold on power. They know Q-space is real. They know it can be done, they’ve seen the test films, they’ve read the data. Vega is ten hours away. Vega.

But they’ll never let it get out. They’ll never let it get built, because they know: it’s wealth thrown away, it’s never coming back. You might as well drop it all into the sun. Nobody with legs that long is gonna stay in a shithole like Earth, and the establishment can’t bear the idea.

Zombie Drabble #280 “Inside Baseball”

Coach wanted to get another practice in before Monday’s game against Hudson, but only half the boys showed; by noon it was apparent why. Some of them wanted to get home right away, just left, but the ones who stayed, whose parents never came, who couldn’t get them on the phone…

The school’s 15-passenger van was gassed up, a stroke of luck. He loaded them in and headed for Herb Orley’s sporting goods. There’d be rifles and ammo there, and maybe Herb too. Getting through the zombies would be no trouble: they already had bats and his boys hit hard.

Fantasy Drabble #179 “Chug-a-lug and Shout”

The rotten hand pushed up through the loamy soil to grasp only cool, damp air. Richmond’s progress up out of his grave was slow but relentless.

“Welcome, old Richmond, welcome back,” she cried, before returning to her incantations: too long a pause and the spell would break apart, scattering to the wind with the smoke from her torch. When they were done, he stood motionless before her in his fetid Sunday best. “Old Richmond, you know the way to your brother’s house, as it used to be yours. You know the way to your brother’s throat as well. Go then!”

Fantasy Drabble #178 “The Weather Outside Is Frightful”

She has stayed up by virtue of adrenaline and sheer force of will. Her parents have warned her, but she is heedless. The house is dark and foreboding, but she is fearless.

Flashlight in pudgy hand, she steals from corner to corner, padding on stocking feet through the house and down the stairs. The sofa will provide cover, and it is behind it she settles in to wait in secret.

Will it be Santa coming down the chimney to leave presents and devour the milk and cookies, or some nameless horror, intent on devouring her? She will not be caught unawares.

Fantasy Drabble #177 “Command Performance”

The lights have gone down and the seats are filled. The curtain opens and there she stands: serene, comfortable, at home on the stage. She has won over the audience simply by showing up on the appointed day and time. They are hers to do with as she pleases.

It is entertainment they expect — and entertainment they will receive — but in exchange It is their life she takes. Not all of it from any one, but only a little from each, only just enough, while they are entranced. So little in fact that they will never notice it is gone.

Fantasy Drabble #176 “Into The Woods”

The smiling face on the television had been talking about the weather or the news or how effective they’d made the new and improved toothpaste; but now it wasn’t, it was speaking directly to her.

Go, it said. Go outside, into the darkness. She did no such thing, of course — because she was afraid, or simply because she was sensible — but It kept chiding her, challenging her, persuading her.

Eventually she stood and went to the window. The trees swayed and shivered in the wind, only dimly lit by the porch light. “Not tonight,” she said. “Maybe tomorrow. Maybe then.”

Fantasy Drabble #175 “Delve"

The sword glowed brighter as he inched forward through the darkness, but still he could not see very far: only the stale air and the echoes of water droplets falling into stagnant pools reminded him he was deep within the cave.

The creatures were here, he could feel their eyes bore into him. They had not struck out at him yet, but they would when he crept near enough. Even now only their fear of his weapon held them from howling and leaping onto him. When they did, they would find his blade as impressively sharp as it was bright.

Zombie Drabble #279 “Farming for Dummies”

“The library’s on fire.”


“The library. Look.” She pointed into the darkness, at details barely visible. A fire at night is a pillar of smoke lit from beneath by a writhing orange glow.

“How do you know it’s the library?”

“Well, see the black flat roof there? That’s the strip mall where Subway is. Then across the street is the park with all the trees. Next to it is the library.”

“Isn’t that where Cooper and the others were holed up?”

“Like I give a shit about Arleigh Cooper, Bobby. The books, Bobby. We’re gonna need books to rebuild.”

Zombie Drabble #278 “Memory Foam”

His arms felt like he’d been lifting weights all day. The zombie skulls he had pounded to get here from across town were beyond number. Still he was no safer than before.

The hardware store roof wasn’t a particularly comfortable place to lie down for the night, but he needed the rest. Just across the street was a Redman’s with its selection of dozens of beds lined up waiting for customers who would never come; briefly he wondered if there was a way to get at least a mattress up here. In the end, he just hoped it wouldn’t rain.

Fantasy Drabble #174 “Mutual Assured Destruction”

She’s standing in the doorway, that look on her face: she wants to devour me. For reasons I don’t care to explain — because you’d never understand — I’m happy about this.

I’m perfectly safe. She’ll control herself, she always does; I’ll be left weak and gasping, but alive. After two hundred years of practice, she knows what she’s doing. I’m fairly sure I trust her.

But there’s still a wooden stake hidden under the pillows, where I can reach it just in case. If she knows it’s there, she’s never said anything. I guess she’s fairly sure she trusts me, too.

SF Drabble #246 “Resistance”

“I don’t see them.” Weeze ducked back under cover behind the ruined McDonalds.

Rocker peeked his head around the corner to stare up the road. There were burnt-out cars, some chunks of asphalt kicked up by previous fights, but no Pinkos. He said, “We wait.”

“Hopper said they were almost here, moving fast. Where are they? Maybe they saw him.”

“We’d be hearing weapons fire,” Rocker observed. “Anyway, he’s well-insulated, they won’t see him.” He leaned back out to look again, and then his body fell over, head missing. Only then did Weeze hear the crack of Pinko blaster fire.

Zombie Drabble #277 “Stalingrad”

The children were asleep, all three jammed onto one dingy mattress on the floor. There had been a time when they wouldn’t have fit, but they had lost all their baby fat over the past few months.

“They’re asleep finally.”


“We have to talk about the food situation.”

He shook his head. “Nothing to talk about.”

“We’re almost out.”

“I know that. So why talk about it?”

“What are we going to do?”

“Nothing. Nothing to do.”

“We have to try… maybe we can fight our way through them, get away from here—”

“And go where, exactly, Judy? Where?”

SF Drabble #245 “Greasing the Wheels”

Forsythe looked up at the underside of the massive alien. “What did he say?”

“She,” the Yoru interpreted corrected. “Her excellency said that she hopes that formal relations can be established between the Seltek and the Earthers soon. She believes as a show of good faith and respect, a gift is in order.”

“A gift? What kind of gift?”

“I believe that would be up to the Earthers to determine. The more valuable her excellency finds the gift, the more positively it will influence relations.”

Forsythe nodded, turned to Rossman, and whispered, “Are you wearing a watch? Give it here…”

Zombie Drabble #276 “The Talk”

Don’t go makin’ the mistake of thinking just ‘cause they’re slow, they ain’t dangerous. If they grab you, or grab your clothes or something, they ain’t letting go. People, when they’re alive, they don’t use all their strength hardly ever, ‘cause they’re thinking they don’t really wanna hurt nobody, they’re holding back, they’re afraid, whatever. Zombies ain’t afraid and they got no conscience. They’ll grab you with whatever strength they got left in their rotten muscles and they’ll keep a hold on you until they eat their fill. So keep moving. And don’t go wearing no long flow-ey dresses, neither.

Fantasy Drabble #173 “Alvör”


I mean human males, mostly. Though males of my own kind can be just as bad; they all talk sweetly and want to commune with the spirits and be one with the Blessed Mother, but ultimately they’re certain the path to Salvation lies through my underthings.

Human men don’t even bother with the trappings of courtship. Loutish, handsy boors, the lot of them. Being strong, they can be useful in a fight. But I swear to you if one more adventuresome brute paws me looking for a bit of strange, I think I will surely slice him in half.

SF Drabble #244 “Going Native”

The sign said, “Humans only!” It was spelled correctly for a change. Out in the sticks it’s even money. I walked in, sat down at a booth. I don’t like sitting at the bar, especially with my back to the door: not on a planet like this.

The waitress was right out of central casting: cute, but weathered and insincere. “What’ll ya have, sweetie?”

“A number three. And black coffee, if you have some fresh.”

“I’ll start a new pot.” She smiled, winked, and went on her way. I always fool them. They never know; they just think they do.

Zombie Drabble #275 “Diversionary Tactics”

I had to get away. But, we were surrounded in that little house, just me and Iris. And I never liked Iris: too whiny. So, killing her was no big deal.

The hard part was dragging her body upstairs and getting it through the window. I had to break it, it was one of those that doesn’t open. The noise just attracted more of them to that side of the house, so that was helpful. The horde surrounded the body and began to feast, and I just went downstairs and walked out the front door and down the street unmolested.

SF Drabble #243 “Extended Visa”

His Ident disc got him onto the lander, down to the spaceport, and out onto the street. One of the Polixaci attendants at the final gates studied the details of his rights-of-passage codes with extreme care, but found no reasons to deny him. The attendant chittered, and the disc translated it into: “Enjoy your stay on Lignol.”

The Yourian had been specific about where to go and who to see. The specialist had him stand in an enclosed scanner for a moment, and then studied the results intently. “I can give you fifty, sixty extra years, tops. Cash up front.”

Zombie Drabble #274 “Conservation”

They sat waiting. After a minute, Holberg said, “Turn the engine off, you’re wasting gas.”

“I want to be able to go in a hurry.”

“If we run out of gas—”

“We’re not going to run out of gas, Holberg, we’ve got like half a tank. And there’s a hundred cars up on the interstate we haven’t syphoned yet.”


“And I’d more worried about the car not starting again.”

“I said fine. Watch this guy coming up…”

The approaching zombie was a rotund office worker missing an arm. “So shoot him, Holberg, Jesus, do I have to do everything?”

Fantasy Drabble #172 “Rod of Lightning”

The selection of the tree is possibly the most important choice you will make of the entire process. If you choose a troubled tree — one that has been starved of water, or burned, or one that has been offended by those with no respect for nature — your staff or wand will be troubled as well.

Take only the wood you need, and honor the tree for its sacrifice; if you do not, your staff or wand will actively work against you. And believe me, you don’t want that. Later I will introduce you to Lefty, and then you will understand.

SF Drabble #242 “Governess”

“Ready? Ok. Once upon a time, long ago, human beings lived on a little blue planet called Earth. It was a beautiful little planet, way out on one of the spiral arms, and we were all alone. Or we thought we were! But then—”


“That’s right. The Wimmibol came to Earth, and wanted to be friends, because they thought they were all alone too!”


“And so then humans and Wimmibol explored together! And together they went and found… the Golgrai!”

“Gry scary!”

“No, the Golgrai are perfectly nice. Now listen, because we’re just coming to the good part…”

Zombie Drabble #273 “Canned Goods”

“Are you crazy? Now they’ll all come!” Randolph watched the zombie drop, the top of its head newly missing.

“We’ll be long gone. Check his pockets.”


“Check his fuckin’ pockets, man, don’t you see his uniform?”

The zombie was wearing the uniform of a delivery man, specifically, one who worked for the local chain of grocery stores; and one of their trucks was only fifty yards back. “Oh.”

“Yeah, ‘oh’. And be quick, if that truck’s outta gas we still need time to get in the trailer and take what we can carry. God, I hope there’s a dolly.”

SF Drabble #241 “Just Messing With You”

“Will it work?”

“Your design seems to imply it will. We have found no flaws in the mathematics.”

“Yes, but you know, right? You already have faster-than-light drives; you could tell us what we’re doing wrong…”

“Our drives operate on a wholly different principle, as I have explained. You have followed a path of inquiry we never seriously investigated  because of what may have been false assumptions.”

“Which were?”

“Our theories implied that the warping of the universe would be non-local and irreversible.”

“Non-local and irr—”

“But if your world is not destroyed, we may wish to license your design.”

Fantasy Drabble #171 “Just Like Candy”

With her coat on, standing in the hallway, she could have been his wife or girlfriend or administrative assistant. Inside, the red dress showed just enough skin here and was just tight enough there to reveal her true vocation.

“Any bad habits I should know about?” She smiled disarmingly as he handed her the envelope.

“Is that a joke?”

“Not at all. I’m not worried about being bitten.”

“Why not?”

She laughed, and the dress slid off. “You may be a vampire, but you’re also a regular. You won’t risk your good standing with the agency just for one drink.”

Zombie Drabble #272 “Traditional Family Values”

She heard the shots before the sound of the engine. Funny how sound propagates; she’d never noticed that before, what with all the background noise of civilization, but now that that was gone…

She held the shotgun over her head and waved so they would know she was alive. When the armored bus with no windshield pulled up next to her, she was still waving. The door cranked open.

“All right, all right; you’re alive, got it. Where you headed?”


“Come with us, you’ll do a lot more babysittin’ than fighting…”

“Fine by me.”

“Well, then, hop on in.”

Zombie Drabble #271 “Over The Side”

The boat rocked gently back and forth. She kept her eye on the horizon, on the thin strip of land just barely visible there, but it didn’t seem to help at all. Eventually she couldn’t help it, she leaned over the railing and threw up.

“Not feeling any better?”

“I told you: I don’t like boats.”

“That all it is?”

The guy from the gas station said, “She’s fine. She’s not sick. Look at her, man.”

“All right, all right, I’m just asking.”

“I appreciate your concern that I’m turning into a zombie, but could somebody hold my hair? Please.”

Zombie Drabble #270 “Wishful Thinking”

How many could there be at this point? I mean, the government nuked the big cities, right? And people been fighting up this whole time, since it started. Especially here in the states where people got guns… that’s gotta have made a difference, don’t it?

I say we bust out and take a look. I know we’re safe down here and all, but we can’t stay locked up in no shelter forever, there ain’t enough food and water. It’s fine for shelterin’, but what if there worst’s over? What if it’s time to rebuild again? What if we miss it?

SF Drabble #240 “Liberty, Indiana, 2037”

“How’s he doing?” Al stuck his head in, but Daisy waved him off.

“He’s doin’ fine, Al, get on back to the grill.”

Mede, standing on the crate, his fur sopping with soapy water, thought nothing of the exchange; he was quite content to continue washing the plates. Yesterday he told stories for his dinner, a day’s walk East of here. Tomorrow: who knows?

Daisy asked, “You’re getting’ awful wet there, honey, want a towel?”

“No ma’am,” Mede answered politely, “On my planet it rains quite a lot. Getting wet doesn’t bother me much. You’re a peach to offer, though.”

Fantasy Drabble #170 “Oak”

The tree grows old, as trees do: old and brittle. Branches crack and fall, and with them thousands plummet to their deaths. When there is no rain we bring water to the roots to keep the tree healthy as long as possible, but we know we fight a losing battle; soon we will need a new home.

There are other trees. Some are not yet occupied, but all are claimed. Any move will mean war. We have few soldiers but many flyers, so if the issue is decided in the air we may have a chance. We have no choice.

SF Drabble #239 “Traveling Shoes”

The furthest I got? Twelve years out, on the far side of the Polixaci home worlds. This is eight years ago. I don’t remember the name of the planet, but it was on a not-particularly-profitable side-circuit, one that only got a ship every twenty years or so. If I’d been a week later for the transfer I’d have missed it.

They were so excited to see us. Everywhere I went I was asked what I was. They hadn’t heard of Earth yet. Not like we’re big news, anyhow. Spent a month telling stories all day. Most fun I ever had.

Fantasy Drabble #169 “Ex”

I want to say that I love you. I’ll always love you, even now that you’re gone. Especially now. Nothing can ever change what we mean to each other, no one can take that away from us.

But I really need you to stop scaring the shit out of my new girlfriend. She doesn’t deserve that. She’s a nice girl. You know that, you were friends. Remember when my mother was haunting you? All that nonsense with the bloody walls and the flies? Remember how that made you feel? Is that really the kind of ghost you want to be?

Zombie Drabble #269 “Dawn Of The Dead”

She was shivering as she stood on the roof looking out over the mall’s mostly empty parking lot. She heard his breathing before he slipped his arms around her. “Morning.”

“Morning. How’s it look?”

“Not many today.” She leaned over the edge a bit, to look down. Five zombies stared back up at her.

“Fewer every day.”

“That girl’s in a bikini. How far is the beach from here?”

He looked down for himself. “Hundred and fifty miles. Maybe she was trying it on?”


You’d look pretty good in that.”

Dawn laughed, and turned and kissed him. “Too cold!”

Zombie Drabble #268 “Marriage Is Hard Work”

She glared at him from across the room, months of festering resentment coming to a boil.

Eventually he noticed. “What?”

“Don’t play dumb.”

“Hey, remember when we promised we’d never play those stupid games? ‘You know what you did’ and the rest of that crap? Remember that?”

“Remember when you said we should board up the house and wait for the army? That we had plenty of canned food? Remember that? Hey, have you noticed that this is the last fucking can of beans? And have you noticed the complete and utter absence of the army? And take a bath.”

Zombie Drabble #267 “Grizzly”

I finally realized, why the fuck am I shaving? Who do I need to be clean-cut for now? Everybody that ever hated my whiskers is dead; so I let them come in.

Lot more gray than I was really prepared for.

It’s a year’s growth now. I don’t even trim it with scissors. I look like a real mountain man, survival type, which I suppose is appropriate considering the way I live. Considering that I’m alive at all. Hell, I am a survival type. What does it matter that I used to manage a video rental store? I’m a badass.

Zombie Drabble #266 “A Spent Force”

Rick Flores was the first to give up. Sometimes it’s hard to tell complete surrender from the thousand-yard stare, but with Rick it was obvious: when it was time to bug out he just didn’t seem in much of a hurry to get away anymore. At least twice I had to pull him along to safety.

At the bridge we didn’t notice he wasn’t with us until he was fifty yards behind and surrounded. I keep telling myself we couldn’t have rescued him, not really. He would have found another way out, tomorrow, the next day. It was just time.

Zombie Drabble #265 “Restraint”

We keep Elsie tied up all the time now. Some days are better than others. We only have to tape over her mouth on the worst days, when she does nothing but scream and try to bite us. On the good days you can talk to her, small talk, nothing major. Say anything about zombies and a good day quickly becomes a bad day.

I can see how watching your dead father eat your mother alive could drive a teenager out of her mind. I don’t blame her. It’s amazing we’re not all like she is after what we’ve seen.

Zombie Drabble #264 “Long Term”

I was too upset to get my head around it. I was in shock. I had been sick myself, and had only just recovered. Jenny and the kids probably got it from me.

When they died there was already no police, coroner, anything. Everyone too was busy heading for the hills or dying or both. I used the backhoe to dig the graves and cover them, and then started walking.

I didn’t consider them eventually waking up again as zombies. I didn’t think about them trapped under all that dirt, starving and immortal. Now it’s all I can think about.

Zombie Drabble #263 “Character Study”

James Vivian Reed, of Juniper Falls. Five foot seven, maybe five eight when he’s feeling tall. Ran the auto-body shop catty-corner to the firehouse. Grew up tough on account of the middle name, you know how it is. Some days he doesn’t go out at all, other days he goes out even if he doesn’t have anything in particular he’s looking for. Has taken to collecting skin magazines when he finds them, and frequents the library and the little bookstore; after all, reading passes time. Doesn’t really bother with the deaders anymore, though he’s lost weight from all the fast-walking.

Zombie Drabble #262 “Overpressure”

Coughing, he stopped to try to figure out which way to go. Everything was on fire. His ears were still ringing, but he could make out the sound of far-off screaming.

“How bad do you think the radiation is?” Sharon asked, grasping his sleeve desperately, insistently, hands shaking.

He didn’t answer. From out of the office building across the street emerged a human form, fully aflame from the knees up. It staggered a few steps, spun slowly around off-balance, and fell motionless, continuing to burn.

“Do you think that was a zombie?” He asked. “I hope that was a zombie.”

Zombie Drabble #261 “You Can’t Go Home Again”

He stood and stared.

The sliding door was open, but the glass was still intact. It was open wide enough that the snow had drifted in and was nearly a foot deep well into the family room. Somewhere underneath was the carpet where he had once lain watching cartoons.

The others told him not to come, that he would find nothing good, that he was stupid to leave the safety of the walls. It had taken a year just to get here from New Mexico.

There were no bodies there, or answers. He sat down on the couch and cried.

Zombie Drabble #260 “A Moment’s Peace”

“Where are we?”

They had walked out of the trees and were by the side of a two-lane road. He looked both ways, straining his eyes. “I don’t know. Maybe state road 42? It doesn’t look like the interstate…”

She knelt on the verge and pulled out their map. “Get out the binoculars and see if you can see a mile marker.”

“There’s no mile markers. And have you noticed?”

“No cars. It must have been blocked off.”

It was strangely serene: an empty stretch of road, a clear day, no zombies anywhere.

“Well. Follow the road?”

“Sure. Which way?”

Zombie Drabble #259 “Off Her Diet”

I don’t know what to say to sis about Mom and Dad. We waited as long as we could. By the time we left they were eight hours overdue. If that was the whole story, I would just tell her; but then we saw them the next day while we were walking Route 3.

We saw Mom first. She was covered in blood from her mouth all down her front. At first we though she was alone. Finally we found their car, and Dad was still in it. Most of his right arm was missing, and part of his thigh.

Zombie Drabble #258 “At The Wall”

There were two guys on a platform that overlooked the wall, rifles on their hips. “You can just turn right around and keep moving.”

“Listen, we have three guns, a bunch of ammo—”

“Got plenty of both. What we don’t have a lot of is food. You got any food?”

“Not really.”

“Then we’ve got no use for you. The girls can stay, though.”

Cass and Margie were waiting in the shadows behind the treeline. The dude must have had great eyesight.

“No thanks.”

“Good luck then. I’d avoid Ridgeville.”


He just shrugged and they disappeared from the platform.

SF Drabble #238 “Salesperson of the Year, 2246”

We’re having our convention on Drolix III. We needed a new site, after last year’s conference: they’re still searching the jungles of New Regula for a couple people and the local government has asked us not to come back. We told them we would pay the damages if they could come up with a reasonable figure but they just get all red and apoplectic and start going on about ‘priceless cultural treasures’ and whatnot. Some people just don’t understand the need to unwind a little, let loose, blow off steam. There’s bound to be some collateral damage, no big deal.

Fantasy Drabble #168 “Market Forces”

There’s a god, one of the older, minor ones. I don’t remember his name, no one does. If they did he’d still be around, because that’s how it works. Anyway, he used to demand a blood sacrifice from his adherents. It had to be daily, and it had to be their blood. It couldn’t be the blood of a doe or a lamb or a captured warrior or anything else; it had to be from them.

So, you do the math. They all died of anemia. The smart gods, they don’t make it fatal to worship them. That’s just stupid.

Zombie Drabble #257 “Party Platter”

Frank stared at the sunrise from atop the semi. He’d never really stopped to watch a sunrise before, seen all the colors, measured the progress of the brightening glow until the first sliver of sun appeared on the horizon. It was gorgeous, and in some weird way, calming.

The zombies surrounding the truck didn’t seem to care. They were focused on Frank, single-minded in their ravenous hunger. He wondered if they understood that there wasn’t enough of him to go around, that if they somehow got up to him, most of the thousands there assembled wouldn’t get even a scrap.

SF Drabble #237 “Coming Soon”

It’s 1958, St. Louis. The device is in the storage room in the back of a vacant storefront I rent. I figure it’s fairly safe there; it’s not like it looks like a time machine. I tell people I’m eventually going to open a record store. I may even do it, with the 60’s on their way.

I go to a lot of baseball games. Playing the market affords me a comfortable living, so I can travel as much as I want. I just missed seeing Jackie Robinson play, but I’ve shaken Mickey Mantle’s hand a couple times. Nice guy.

SF Drabble #236 “His Honor”

I’m the Mayor. I ran on a platform of major reforms in most sectors of colony management, and I was elected by a two-to-one margin. Though I got the impression that most people were voting against the incumbent rather than voting for me.

At the swearing-in, I mentioned my plans, and the former Mayor laughed and said, “Good luck with that.” I remembered that he had been elected talking reform as well.

Now I know the joke: the Colony Computer runs everything, and the robots, the ‘waldoes’, are it’s enforcers. I’m a figurehead. I wish the Mayor had warned me.

Zombie Drabble #256 “Action News Team”



“The guy on Channel 7 is crying.”

“He cried some yesterday too. When the ‘Friends’ marathon was over, but before the movie. I think he’s losing it.”

“I can’t just sit here and watch him cry. It feels awkward.”

“Well, what else are you going to watch? Channel 9’s been blank since Wednesday, and there were three people there.”

“I’m not surprised. That cameraman didn’t seem stable. I wonder if he killed the other two.”

“Maybe he killed the other guy to have whatserface all to himself. The weather girl.”

“Um, or maybe the zombies got them, hello?”

Zombie Drabble #255 “Rule of Thirds”

Maria didn’t really know why she was still taking photographs of everything. Who was going to see them? She didn’t even have a computer to dump all the pictures to; she’d left it behind when she had to climb out the window to escape the zombies overrunning her house. She did grab the camera, though, and the extra batteries. Anyhow, you never know.

Maria framed the zombie carefully, so its body occluded the setting sun. It was random chance that she snapped the picture just as the cop’s bullet exploded the zombie’s head. The backlit cloud blood mist cloud looked fantastic.

Zombie Drabble #254 “Human Again”

“Look.” She slightly ahead of him on the road, and she was pointing down the hill at a small lake.

“What? What am I looking at?”

“Don’t you want to wash?”

He looked down at his clothes and found them covered in stains, dried blood and worse. And then there was his own body odor. He had gotten so used to it, he didn’t even notice anymore.

“I guess. You go first, I’ll stand watch.”

“Are you going to peek?” she asked, sounding like she was half-joking.

“Of course.” he grinned.

“Good.” She said, more seriously. “Means you’re still alive.”

SF Drabble #235 “Getting To Know You”

There was one of those aliens in the hallway. “Mister George R. Lincoln?”


“You are the Mister George R. Lincoln who resides at this address?”

“Yes. Of course. What’s this about?”

“Mister Lincoln, as part of the community outreach program our public relations firm has advised us to sponsor, we are offering randomly selected citizens a tour of our Embassy in New York.”

“New York?”

“Yes, Mister Lincoln. All expenses paid.”

“I’ve never been to New York. But… this isn’t some kind of trick where I end up getting probed, is it?”

“Not that I’m aware of, Mister Lincoln.”

Fantasy Drabble #167 “I Want You To Want Me”

Millie helped me pick the flowers: roses from my grandmother’s garden. Gran never even goes out there anymore, so she’ll never notice. Cloves we got at the health food store but the mustard seeds we had to go to the Chinese grocery. The shells I had from the beach trip when I was twelve, and I got a few of her long, flaxen hairs from her brush when I slept over Friday night.

We dressed up, lit candles. It had to be perfect. We held hands and recited the words together. I told Millie it was all for a boy.

SF Drabble #234 “Aware”

I sat next to an alien on the subway today.

He didn’t know I knew; they never do. They think their cloaks work perfectly. They’re so fucking arrogant. He even kept pretending to read after everyone else got off.

When he followed me off at my stop, I knew he’d selected me for experimentation. So when we were out of sight of the bus, I turned around and killed him. He looked so surprised.

The body didn’t change right away. Later, it was on the news, but they were broadcasting some cover story about a human being murdered. So typical.

Zombie Drabble #253 “Find the Funny”

You never really know someone until you’ve gone through an apocalypse with them. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s true.

I always thought Ricky Boyd was, well, sort of a pussy. I mean, he’s kind of effeminate, and I just assumed. But man, he’s great: saved me a couple times. Hell, saved everybody a couple times.

Jay Harlan I thought was perfectly normal. Turns out he was psycho. Couldn’t stop laughing. Laughed the whole time. He laughed while we were running, and while we fought. He laughed when he fell. He positively cackled while the zombies were eating him.

SF Drabble #233 “On S’Shiths”

We’re not the first to settle here. There are a few thousand Grong, and there used to be a lot more. We call the planet what the Grong call it, which according to them is what the Shu called it. There aren’t any Shu anymore, though the Grong use some of their big stone buildings.

Before the Shu were the Whicks. The story is that they all died of a disease, shortly after the first Shu arrived. The Grong don’t know much detail. The kids sometimes find Whick bones when they dig, long, thin, light avian bones that break easily.

Zombie Drabble #252 “Reading Is Fundamental”

In the early days, we were just one settlement, with hastily-erected fortifications and nothing to eat. I don’t know for sure why we survived to prosper while the others were overrun; but it might have had something to do with the Library.

It was old man Rizzo’s personal book collection. It’s as if he knew. There are books on everything from farming to leather-craft to traditional blacksmithing. How to distill water or alcohol, how the Romans built with stone, how to make gunpowder. How to build a coal-fired power plant. We haven’t gotten to that one yet; but we will.

Fantasy Drabble #166 “The Devil’s Due”

He was standing at the rim of a seemingly bottomless glowing pit, still wearing the space suit, which was was charred all over and ripped in several places. The helmet had a huge hole right through the faceplate.

“What happened?”

“You tried to escape your deal with the Boss by leaving Earth. One of the booster rockets exploded; hardly ever happens anymore. I got lucky,” the demon explained.

“Listen, I…”

“Explain it to him.” The demon grinned and pointed a gnarled claw at the glowing pit. “Oh, and he really likes begging. And crying. Be sure to cry a lot.”

SF Drabble #232 “Flightless”

Day 76. They’ve finally accepted me as one of their own. They’re aware that I’m different… two males dug a separate trough down the other side of the hill for me to use as a latrine, and the hunting party has been bringing back those yellow gourds they’ve seen me eating. And the little ones, the children, no longer avoid me. I have one in my lap now, cooing quietly and flapping it’s little wings.

I have yet to see them build a fire, though there is evidence they’ve used fire previously. Probably they’re at the ‘nurturing found fire’ stage.

Zombie Drabble #251 “Orville P. Redburn”

Orville’s hardcore. Always has been, even before the end of the world. He hit a deer once out on route three, got out of the truck, finished the poor stricken animal off with his .32, tossed the carcass in the bed and then continued on to church.

So, when the little five-year-old zombie came stumbling down the road, I wasn’t surprised when Orville didn’t think twice about putting it down. Marion was pretty upset, though, bless her. “How can you do that so easy? That was somebody’s baby.”

“This ain’t fishing,” Orville said. “We don’t throw the little ones back.”

Fantasy Drabble #165 “Houseguests”

We don’t go that far into the woods, normally, but we had a bottle of wine and I was pretty sure Jenny was gonna let me get some under-the-sweater action for once, so I didn’t want any interruptions.

I didn’t even know that house was there. There’s no roads back in there, no power lines. It was all boarded up, too. But I thought there might be a bed, so I pried a board loose…

All I saw were eyes, at least five pair of them, all blood red. And the growls… we didn’t stop running until we hit road.

Zombie Drabble #250 “Dead On Their Feet”

“Shit yeah, Franklin,” Bobby exclaimed.

“Money,” added Andy Jr.

The zombie teetered for a moment, and then finally dropped. They don’t go down like ragdolls, it takes a second for the body to realize the brain — and the virus controlling it — has been destroyed. The boys came up with this game within hours of this whole thing starting: you try to shoot them so they’ll stay up as long as possible, balanced on legs stiffened by rigor mortis.

“It’s all about timing,” Franklin explained. He once killed one who stayed up permanently, never fell. Or so he claims.

Zombie Drabble #249 “Growing Up”

A week ago, breaking up with my high school boyfriend was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Especially since he’d pressured me for sex and I kind of gave in a couple times and then got pregnant and had to have a secret abortion which he paid for with his summer job savings.

As of today, though, I’ve shot eight zombies in the head, burned about a dozen, smashed three storefronts to loot supplies, stolen a van, and left my ex behind because I knew he’d been bitten and was lying about it. So what I’m saying is, everything’s relative.

Zombie Drabble #248 “Let Us Pray”

We had just gotten out of church, kids in the back of the van, on the way to IHOP like always. Sunday, like any other Sunday. The guy came out of nowhere. I slammed on the brakes but it was too late: he bounced off the front, slid and then rolled maybe twenty feet.

Nancy’s a nurse, so she got out to help. She got over to him and knelt down, but then looked back at me with the weirdest expression on her face, said “Jim, this guy looks like he’s been dead for days!”

That’s when he bit her.

SF Drabble #231 “I’m You, Just Older”

“Who’s on the phone?”


“No, I mean, who are you talking to?”

“Me. It’s me from the future.”

“Very funny.”

“I’m serious. Apparently I’m calling to warn myself about something. Hold on, I’m still talking.”

“You know, I don’t find this amusing. I’m trying to talk to y—.”

“Okay, apparently there’s a plane that’s going to crash in a few minutes and it’s going to take the whole front of the house off. So you should probably stay back here in the bedroom with me.”

“You’re a pig.”

“It’s for your own safety. Both of me agree it’s best.”

Fantasy Drabble #164 “Deliver Us From Evil”

“Come, Yahgon; up the hill.”

His half-giant porter ambled behind him as they wound their way towards the top, where the temple waited. Eventually he asked, “Why go to temple?”

“Well, Yahgon, we must pay our homage to Pē. Otherwise our journey might not be pleasant and easy.”

“Your god help us on long trip?”

“Yes, Yahgon. Pē will help us. He husbands travelers like us.”

“That good. Help good for long trip. Your god can do anything?”

“He wouldn’t be much of a god if he couldn’t!”

“Ask for many bandits for Yahgon to smash. More fun for Yahgon.”

Zombie Drabble #247 “Decisions”

Rocky stood, shotgun cradled in his arms, next to the stop sign at the bottom of the hill. He should probably get going soon, but he couldn’t decide which way to go.

Going left would be towards Cassie’s house, and going left would be towards Jen’s work. He couldn’t rescue both of them, take them both with him into the hills. That just wouldn’t fly. They’d tear each other’s hair out, zombies or no.

Which one? He had more of a connection with Jen, but Cassie was a firecracker in the sack. Cassie hated camping, though. Probably, Jen, then. Yeah.

SF Drabble #230 “Undetectable Microbes”

Dr. Shimoda was an excellent biologist. He ran all the right tests, and he ran then competently. We have all his notes and the labeled specimens and the cultures and everything.

When he cleared the Vegan Bluepig for human consumption, we all got together for a roast, you know: get everyone together, blow off some steam. It was three days before people started dying. We’ve lost a third of the colony, looks like it’ll end up being half.

It wasn’t his fault, but there was no talking to Shimoda; he hung himself from the roof supports in the Temp Lab.

SF Drabble #229 “Interrogation”


“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“You have one chance here, and that’s to tell us everything that happened. The truth. We can’t help you if you don’t talk to us.”


“Start with the dead girl. Who is she?”

“It doesn’t start with the dead girl. It starts with the aliens.”

“The… listen, asshole, I’m not fucking around here. You’re looking at a charge of Premeditated Murder here. This is serious.”

“I understand you perfectly. I’m going to tell you the truth, and it starts with the aliens. And you’re not going to like it.”

Zombie Drabble #246 “Evidence of Things Not Seen”

The priest’s voice was hoarse but unrelenting. “This scourge of the dead is the Almighty God’s punishment for mankind’s unrepentant wickedness. It is only through our faith that we shall be delivered. Come, all those who love and fear God, let us pray for salvation.”

Reggie’s mother’s eyes were squeezed tight as she whispered the lords prayer to herself, over and over. She hadn’t let go of his hand in hours. Reggie mouthed the words, but his attention was on the boarded-over doors as they creaked and bulged from the weight of the hungry dead pushing on it from outside.

Zombie Drabble #245 “Richard and Alice”

She was sitting on the wall, watching the road for him, when he appeared. He was alone, which was disappointing, but not unexpected; but he was cleaner than he should be, given the time he had been gone.

She called out, “Found someone?”

“A village, three days north. Maybe a hundred people. Larry Pell is there.”

Moments later, she met him at the gate. “Larry, from your work?”


“Is he still fat?”

He laughed. “Thinner than me. And more serious than before.”

She kissed him, and held tight as if to keep from falling over. “I know the feeling.”

SF Drabble #228 “Settlers”

Kreolk wakes not often: only when the Sister Moons align, and the tide hushes, and the quiet becomes an invitation. His burrow will have filled with mud while he slept, and he will have to dig himself out.

Once, on reaching the beach, he found many strange creatures there, living in odd structures that had no smell. The creatures were clearly intelligent, like Kreolk was, but they would not communicate: instead they attacked him with hundreds of tiny pin-prick wounds. He had no choice but to crush them and their tiny buildings.

He wonders what he will find this time.

SF Drabble #227 “Edit”

Doctor Kind found himself in 1986, before all the changes, before the machine had even started working. He knew where to go, where to look. It was the Reagan years, so buying a gun was easy.

The grad student Kind used to like to go to this particular coffee house; Emily worked there then. This was before he had gotten up the nerve to ask her out. That’s where he found the his younger self, and that’s where he now pulled out the gun and shot him in the head.

This way, the timeline was safe, and Emily was protected.

Zombie Drabble #244 “The Mother of Invention”

Lamar O’Neil is a genius.

He invented this thing, it’s basically a giant pair of hedge-clippers. Heavy as shit: use it alone you get tired out real quick, so mostly we work in teams of two. One guy gets the zombie’s attention, second guy comes up behind, rests the blades on the zombie’s shoulders, and then squeezes. Cuts right through bone no problem. The head comes off, and no more zombie. Then you switch so the first cutter can rest his arms.

We put the heads on poles outside of town. It don’t scare the zombies off, but it’s funny.

Zombie Drabble #243 “Harry Homeowner”

The lawn was starting to get to him. The ground floor was boarded up, of course, but he could see out the upstairs windows. The tall fescue had gotten to waist-height, and had gone to seed. The ride-on mower was parked right where he’d left it idling three weeks ago: having long ago run out of gas, sputtered, and died.

He had to do something about the situation. If he only had a reel mower he could go out even now and cut the grass: there weren’t any zombies around, no loud noise to attract them. He’d be perfectly safe.

Fantasy Drabble #163 “Area of Effect”

The demon was waiting for him in the shuttle bus. “Yeah, can’t let you go up, sorry.”

“What? Astronaut. That was the deal—”

“You’ve gotten to be an astronaut. You’ve trained, done the simulator, had the press conference and everything. But we can’t let you go up.”

“Why not?”

“The Boss can only operate on Earth. You get up there,” it pointed at the sky with a gnarled claw, “the contract is invalidated. He gets nothing.”

“I’m going.”

“If you go up, and you end up in Hell anyway, the torment—”

“Guess I’ll have to be a good boy, then.”

SF Drabble #226 “On Delivery”

I had detailed instructions from my employer, one mister Orville Stringer who I met in Paris. I disembarked from the liner when it put in to Gneh. I took the shuttle down to the Eastern Rim Spaceport, and then hired a skimboat to take me to the Crescent Islands, specifically Kowanginge.

Willis Rentz, my contact, was waiting in the bar of the Kowanginge Hilton. He gave me an envelope containing the credit slip, I gave him the data wafer. I thanked him and headed back for the dock. That brings me up to the point where you boys arrested me.

Zombie Drabble #242 “New Pitcairn”

“It’s small.” Prince watched the island through the binoculars.

“At least four miles square, big enough. If we’re lucky there’s fruit-bearing trees. Looks like there might be. Coconuts, maybe.”

“Fantastic.” He didn’t sound enthused.

“Plus we have seeds to plant. And with the boats rigged for sail…”

“…we’ll get by. Sure.”


“I dunno. I’m just not thrilled with the lack of available women. Twenty-seven of us, eight of them… and Mrs. Reed is old.”


“There’ll be fights. You wait.”

“We’ll deal with that when it happens. Right now, I just want to get us back on dry land.”

Zombie Drabble #241 “History”

They came to this place where the rivers meet and the land is protected on three sides with water, and they settled. We don’t know how many there were, at first, but we know almost half died in the first winter. Some from bites, some from starvation; there was no one left who was still susceptible to the disease itself.

The first real count we have is in a diary entry from the third year: One hundred and seven, counting three newborns. From these few we are all descended. It is their hard work and noble sacrifice we honor today.

SF Drabble #225 “The Grind”

“Jump complete.”

“Anybody else’s head hurt?” The Doctor asked, and half the bridge nodded. “Any worse than last time?”

“No, not worse. It doesn’t seem to be cumulative,” the Captain observed.

“I’m going to want to do a few CAT scans to be sure.”

“Very well. Speaking of scans…”

“Aye, we’re getting results now, sir. We seem to be about five light-years further in the same general direction. There’s a red dwarf star about half an astronomical unit to starboard. We’re in orbit.”

“…Of the star? No planets?”

“Not so far.”

“Keep looking. Eventually there’ll be something interesting. I hope.”

SF Drabble #224 “Redman”

We treat Redman like any other member of the crew. When he first came aboard, we didn’t know what do do with him. No one could speak his language. We were lucky he could eat our food.

Now, it’s hard to remember when he wasn’t aboard. He makes jokes — in English — that are usually funny only because they don’t make sense. He cleans the wardroom every day. Not to mention, Jerry left him alone in the engine room for an hour and he managed to increase fuel efficiency by three percent. Still trying to figure out how he did it.

Zombie Drabble #240 “Jealousy”

In the front yard: One zombie, a man — well, what once was a man — wearing only bedroom slippers and tighty-whitey underwear.

Marcus snickered. “Would you look at this guy?”

“Yeah,” Carla said. “Hey, I think that’s that guy, you know, always coming into the grocery store. The one that’s always hitting on me.”

“What? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I think. Yeah, that’s him.”

“Oh,” Marcus grabbed the baseball bat, “fuck this guy. He’s mine.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! He’s already dead! Anyway, it’s not like he’s my type.” She peered out at the half-naked corpse, tottering across the grass. “Especially now.”

Fantasy Drabble #162 “Little Voice”

Come out, talk to me.

She tried to ignore the voice, and concentrated on drying the dishes. But she could see the well through the kitchen window.

Come on; you’re perfectly safe. You know I would never hurt you.

She knew she shouldn’t, but something inside her caused her to push open the back door and step out into the warm, sticky night, and walk through the dandelions to the well. From deep down, the voice spoke again, quietly.

Good… Now, I remember, last time we were talking about the children, and how it’d be better if they weren’t around…

SF Drabble #223 “Fell in Love With A Girl”

She came back with me from Rostov IX. It wasn’t hard getting her through customs: she took suitcase form, and I put all my things inside and checked her. She rode the shuttle down in the cargo compartment.

Now that we’re here, I just tell people we met on holiday, fell in love, and married before coming back. They’re so happy for me. The hard part was getting her to choose one form and face to use with the people I — we — know. I mean, I can’t keep showing up to parties with a different girl. Nobody would buy that.

SF Drabble #222 “Loop”

Ramsey runs down the corridor, towards the engine room. I’m right behind her. We know what’s about to happen; we knew it the first time.

We both turn on a dime to sprint through the open engine room door, and we both immediately trip over Dr. Englund’s body. Ramsey is immediately back up, lunging for the the Reemer-Englund Drive control panel, but I am frozen, staring at the horror of Englund’s face contorted in death.

Ramsey won’t make it. She never does. She’ll get to the console just as the Drive activates, and then we’ll do it all over again.

Zombie Drabble #239 “Diet”

I hired a company, Weston Survival Inc., to build and stock my civil defense shelter. Very reputable firm, did all the digging themselves. I remember sitting in a lawn chair with an iced tea and watching the delivery men carry in bottle after bottle of distilled water, numbered crate after numbered crate of canned food.

If I’d only thought to ask.

When the zombies chased me in here, I felt smug, proud of myself. It was halfway through my second meal that I realized all the crates contained the same thing: canned beans. For every meal, canned beans. Possibly forever.

Zombie Drabble #238 “Where The Heart Is”

The heads on stakes by the side of the road were the first indication that we were approaching a settlement. Some of them had clearly been there for years; they were little more than skulls.

We sent Ricks on ahead, as we always do. He’s about as threatening as a possum. When he came back, he had their terms for entry: give up any guns and ammo, pool all food supplies. The usual.

We won’t oblige, of course. We’ve been to towns like this before. If they don’t like you, they kick you out with nothing. Better to keep looking.

Fantasy Drabble #161 “On The Half Shell”

The sea was like glass, and the sails hung slack and empty. Prosperia sat like a toy boat in a long-forgotten bath.

Mr. RIchmond climbed up to the wheel. “Captain, I’ve made my count, sir; we lost two more last night.”

“Damned singing was louder.”

“Yes, sir. What do we do?”

The Captain pulled at his beard nervously. “Tonight, if we still haven’t caught the damned breeze, we chain the men to the guns. The officers will sleep in the wardroom, all together, to watch each other.”

“I’ll see to it.”

“Damned Sirens are taking their dinner piecemeal.”

“Aye, sir.”

SF Drabble #221 “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?”

Rane eased the Chariot to a stop. “I’m at the base of the lander. He’s right behind me, maybe ten meters. Ran the whole way. What now?”

“Not sure. Stand by.”

“Sure, fine, I’ll just hang around out here with the alien in the giant alien mecha-suit.”

“Has he made any threatening moves? Anything at all?”

“No. Perfect gentleman. My mother would have approved.”

“Okay, Control signaled: they want better video. Cooley is coming out with the camera.”

“The High-Def camera?”

“Yes, Rane.”

“…that looks like a pistol?”

There was a pause before the response came. “I see your point.”

Zombie Drabble #237 “kthxbye”

…so she tweets ‘eaten by zombies’, and I’m all like, ‘not funny, my brother was eaten by a zombie in our front yard this morning and we’re all really upset here’. But then she tweets, ‘OMG, zombies really here, help’. But I’m still mad at her and I don’t believe her so I’m like, ‘STFU bitch I hope you do get eaten.’ Then she calls and I don’t pick up. But she leaves a message, which I listen to, and it’s all screaming and then smacking and eating sounds.

So now I’m not sure whether to believe her or not.

Zombie Drabble #236 “Go You Huskies”

There had to have been about three hundred of them. I can run pretty fast, so it’s no problem for me avoiding zombies, but they were starting to annoy me.

So I speed-walked through the horde, just slow enough to get them all following me; led them right into the school gym. I went out the other side and chained the back doors behind me. Then ran around and chained the front ones.

I feel bad, it being the school and all, but I should probably torch it. Coach Rossi would understand if he weren’t already one of the zombies.

Fantasy Drabble #160 “Gowee”

Gowee has tried. Gowee has tried ever so many times. When the males go into season, she finds the strongest and smartest one and couples with him before devouring him; but still she goes barren.

Gowee quiets the ache another way. Baby is human, born to a human mother. Baby’s parents didn’t want to let it go, but Gowee killed them. They should have just let her take Baby, then made another for themselves. They could have done it anytime; humans are always in season.

Gowee is happy. All she must do now is resist the urge to eat Baby.

SF Drabble #220 “Dealer”

“And here is the crown jewel: the PR-72X.” He held it out in front of him like a knight offering his sword. “Weighs less than three kilos, only seventy-eight centimeters long. Capable of firing a hundred and twenty times automatic, and a full sixty seconds in beam mode.”

“Not bad.”

“The best part is, in either mode, it’ll drill through Grung armor in less than three seconds.”

The general snorted. “I’ve heard that claimed before. I suppose you know what happens to my boys if it’s not true?”


“Good. Because I’ll make sure it happens to you as well.”

Fantasy Drabble #159 “Clean Slate”

His sword was in his hand, and he didn’t know why. He remembered being angry, excited; he could still feel the adrenaline coursing through his veins.

“You were saying?” she asked, sounding amused.

“I was… sorceress, have you bewitched me? As you did the others? Is my will turned to your own?”

“Lets just say I’ve given you a chance to get to know me; to decide for yourself if I am the evil temptress they say I am.”

“Who? Oh, the town. Why did they send me?”

“Oh, some blood libel. It doesn’t matter. Come, sit with me, talk.”

SF Drabble #219 “Deep Black”

I’ve never liked being outside. The others can’t seem to wait to get out here, but not me.

I trust my suit: it’s the best money can buy and I do my checklist without fail. It’s not like I’m in any danger out here, there’s nothing to hurt me. There’s nothing at all.

Maybe that’s the problem. Inside, within the confines of the station, with the others, I feel like I’m somewhere. But outside…

There’s no place to it, outside. There’s just nothingness. I can’t stand it. I wish they wouldn’t send me out here. Anybody can do this maintenance.

Zombie Drabble #235 “Extreme Measures”

They were shooting through the broken windows, making a last stand, when the world lit white-hot and the ceiling fell in.

Some time later, Joely woke in pain. He dug himself out from under the plaster and pieces of furniture, and started looking for the others. He found Chuy sitting on a lawn chair in the parking lot, surrounded by charred zombie remains.

“They nuked us, Joely. They fuckin’ nuked us, man.”


“Are we gonna get cancer now? Leukemia? Something like that?”

I laughed. “You’re worried about your life expectancy? Really?”

“I’m just saying, man, goddamn, this is Ohio!”

Zombie Drabble #234 “Bouncer”

“Every man for himself,” he’d said. Big guy, tough guy, the kind who must have been used to intimidating his way through life. “What’s mine is mine, and I ain’t sharin’.”

We all agreed. Later, when he got grabbed — and screamed for help — nobody was particularly disposed to move very fast. He was bitten, of course.

“It’s nothing,” he claimed, “leave me alone.”  But we knew better. Mr. Carey from the hardware store shot him in the head, and we divvied up his things. I got the cowboy boots and ten .45 caliber rounds. The boots are a little big.

SF Drabble #218 “A New Lease, Part 2”

Free. I had a new suit, an ident card with credit on it to spend, and absolutely no obligations to any creature living.

I don’t think I’ll stay in town. It’s mostly Oblogo guards from the prison and their families. I’ll always be a prisoner to them. The crawler leaves in an hour. I’ll head down the coast.

Eventually I’ll end up in the city. There’s a spaceport there, but where would I go? Earth? With the government always collapsing, it’s not very safe. And there’s no money to be made. Only local UN scrip on Earth, not Association credits.

Fantasy Drabble #158 “Last Line of Defense”

The King sat calmly on the throne, even as the commotion outside grew louder and nearer. Eventually he glanced towards Yink, who nodded and began chanting.

When the raiders burst into the throne room they were laughing and cheering, their swords and axes red with fresh blood, but the sight of the king refusing to flee in panic incensed them. Yink — an unarmed courtier seemingly praying for his life — they ignored.

Stupidity can be fatal. As the raiders reached the middle of the room they were already turning to dust, their armor falling to clatter empty upon the stone floor.

SF Drabble #217 “A New Lease”

At the end of a hot day under a sun far bluer than Sol, the work party was finally called in. One of the guards pulled me aside and rumbled, “You, human Brooks, go Warden.”

The Warden was waiting for me. “Your period of servitude is over. Time off for leading work party and general good behavior has been applied. Your debt is paid, and you have five thousand credits of savings from bonuses. Crawler will take you to town in twenty shorts.”

I started crying. I don’t know what the Warden thought was wrong with me. He looked uncomfortable.

Zombie Drabble #233 “Personal Habits”

I’ve gotten used to bathing in the river. They can’t get down to the bank on this side because of the retaining walls, and of course zombies won’t go in the water so I’m safe from the ones on the other side.

The fish population has exploded. Maybe the water has cleared of pollution, or maybe it’s just that hardly anyone is left to fish anymore. Either way, they dart past my legs, brushing my ankles and knees as I wash. Some of them are pretty big now.

I need to make a spear. The canned stuff is running out.

Wrote this “Found Note” last year for

lost zombies submission

SF Drabble #216 “Xenophobia”

Everybody’s head over heels for the aliens.

They say all the right things. They’ve given us all this awesome technology: medical advances, cheap power, that sort of thing. They’re even pretty, in a weird, ethereal sort of way.

Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of the Twilight Zone, but I know they’re up to something. Something bad. Somebody’s got to stop them. If nobody else can do it, I will.

The Anarchist’s cookbook came in real handy. Wasn’t too hard to get the materials. Come the press conference tomorrow, I’m going to send them a message on behalf of mankind.

Zombie Drabble #232 “65dBA Day, 55dBA Night, Residential.”

“It’s driving me crazy.”

She had just come in. Roger looked up from his book and asked, “What’s driving you crazy?”

“The quiet: no cars, no trains, not even dogs barking. It’s eerie.”

“I don’t mind it, personally. It was way too noisy before. Especially next door.” The neighbors had been the type to hang out in the backyard with a stereo playing. As soon as the weather was warm enough, out they would come; but Roger hadn’t heard a peep out of them since the zombie thing started. They had either run or died. “Some people are so inconsiderate.”

Fantasy Drabble #157 “Big Shoes”

“Your Majesty, allow me to present Aelegron the Long.”

The King rose, stepped down from the throne platform as he only did for the most important of audiences. He took the visitor’s hand and clasped it warmly, happily. “I welcome you to my Realm, Aelegron. I understand your visit has been the subject of much excitement at court.”

“I thank your Majesty for his most kind welcome.”

“Tell me, friend, why do they call you ‘Aelegron the Long’?”

The visitor smiled and glanced at the King’s three daughters, who tittered in a corner. “Oh, just a childhood nickname that stuck.”

Zombie Drabble #231 “Time Is On Your Side”

“Grab him.”

Ritchie threw his arms around the zombie, pinning its hands to its sides. “Hurry up, man, this thing is strong.”

Pops knelt down in front of the struggling pair and started working the clasp on the zombie’s watch. “Keep him still for Christ’s sake!”

“You wanna fuckin’ do it?”

“Just keep him still!”

Ritchie held the putrefying corpse as tight as he could. He could feel its skin sloughing off under the suit coat. “Jesus, this had better be worth it.”

Pops had it off. “It’s a Rolex. And it’s still going. Okay, let go and book it.”

SF Drabble #215 “Ceres Complaint Box”

To whom it may concern,

Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you people that I’m all alone up here. It’s not like I can while away the time in conversation. It’s not like I can just call up my friends and invite them over for pizza. I have to entertain myself.

So if I don’t get the weekly download, I don’t get my subscriptions. I just have to sit here. And I know I’m still getting charged for the stuff I picked whether I get it or not.

Sort the goddamn antenna out. And remember: I can shut down the auto-miners.

SF Drabble #214 “Cross Examination”

“What do you remember?”

“I was driving, and there was this bright light, and suddenly I was strapped to this table on a spaceship and—”

“How do you know it was a spaceship?”

“Well, there was this hum, you know?”

“Fine. Go on.”

“Well, then I was surrounded by aliens, and they were pokin’ at me—”

“What did the aliens look like?”

“Well, they were short and had grey skin, and these big black eyes, and long fingers—”

“So, not at all like my client, then.” The lawyer pointed at the defense table, where a squat, black-carapaced insectoid alien sat.

Fantasy Drabble #156 “Normalcy”

It’s just a wardrobe. It’s not a door. I mean, there’s a door on it, but it doesn’t lead to anywhere. Understand? Just hang your clothes in there. There’s no reason for anyone to be stepping into it. You can reach all your things just fine from outside.

I don’t want to hear anything about anyone getting lost in any parallel dimensions or fantastic worlds, or befriending any mythical creatures, or getting enchanted by any magical spells of any kind. Is that clear? I’m quite serious about this. There’s been quite enough of that sort of thing around here already.

Zombie Drabble #230 “Cancer And You”

I had a doctor’s appointment that Friday. Got one of those diagnoses where they give you a pamphlet and a pitying look they’re trying desperately to hide, and regardless of their success you’re a zombie the rest of the day.

Ironic, huh?

I wonder if they’ll even eat me. I wonder if they can smell the death on me. Or, in me. I wonder if I walked out into my front yard and threw my head back and stood there with the sun on my face, whether they would think of me as food or as one of their own.

Fantasy Drabble #155 “Territory”

Half the town was gone by the time they tried fire, but even that didn’t work: the roots and branches wouldn’t burn. If you cut them from the trees with an axe, then they would light, but another would have just grown in their place. It was a losing battle.

I was only seven. I remember my father talking to the mayor, faces serious. I remember being told to gather my things now. Mother helped me, but still we left a great deal behind. By the next morning the forest had retaken the town, and we were on the road.

Zombie Drabble #229 “For A Good Time Call”

Okay. Stay calm.

That’s Mrs. Rondelay in the yard, and she’s eating the paperboy. Never really liked that kid anyway. Pretty sure he was the one who knocked over our mailbox last year.

There’s nobody near the car, but I’m pretty sure the tank is nearly empty: didn’t refill it on the way home from the bar last night. And where would I go anyway?

Probably best to stay put. Someone will come and rescue me. I’ve got a lot of friends, we all go out clubbing together. I mean, surely one of them will think of me. Won’t they?

SF Drabble #213 “Nothing That Works Is Ever Over”

A screw tightened here, a wire wrapped and taped there, and Doctor Rynkist was done. He closed the chestplate and climbed carefully down the ladder.

The firebox was already lit and working. Dr. Rynkist waved for his assistant to shovel in some more coal. Most roboticists these days worked with printed circuits, molded plastic, tiny microchips animated by Lithium-ion batteries; but not him. When the pressure was great enough, his creation would rumble wheezing and belching to life. Then, they would see. They would all understand that he wasn’t irrelevant. Hiram Rynkist’s steam was a force to be reckoned with.

Fantasy Drabble #154 “Take Me To The River”

He had seen the water sprite before, years ago, so when she once again rose out of the current he was not quite as terribly frightened as he would have expected.

“You remember me, human?”

“Yes, miss.” He even looked directly at her, which he had not done the last time.

“You are older.”

“Eight years since you wrecked Roddy’s Town, miss.”

“They were poisoning my waters.”

“They were.”

“Did you have family there? A mate? Did I wrong you?”

“No, no one.”

“Do you have a mate now?”

“No miss, I… why?”

“Dive in,” she said, “and find out.”

Zombie Drabble #228 “Last Day on Earth”

Mr. Rinkman got up slowly, careful not to drop cigarette ash onto the carpet. The stereo was old, from the fifties, an enormous piece of furniture cabinetry with the speakers built in. He carefully picked up the vinyl record and turned it over to side ‘B’, before taking the needle and gingerly placing it at the beginning of the record. While he was there, he edged the volume knob a little louder; there was more banging downstairs now, and his hearing wasn’t so good anymore. He settled back into his easy chair and took another long drag on his cigarette.

SF Drabble #212 “Justice”

Interstellar travel writing. What a great racket that is. I think I’ll get into that.


I’m not even sure what law it is I’ve broken; all I know is I’ve spent four days in this cage so far, and all they’ll tell me is that I will be punished fairly. That is, if I live long enough to get to the punishment, considering all that comes out of the food dispenser is brick after brick of what looks like fruitcake but smells like fish and rotten eggs.

There isn’t even a human embassy on this planet. I’m so fucked.

Fantasy Drabble #153 “Last In Line”

The ritual worked and He appeared. I almost didn’t believe at first, but in the presence of a Dark One, the stark and beautiful horror of the situation becomes quickly apparent.

The High Priestess welcomed Him, offered her complete obeisance to His smallest whim. She looked honored when He began to devour her. We stood, trembling, until He asked, “What has become of the world?”

The others were mute, so I answered. He finished the Priestess and began to eat another and another as I talked. If I can satisfy his curiosity, I may not have to satisfy his hunger.

Zombie Drabble #227 “Week Two”

I was in my bathrobe on the couch that Sunday morning — watching I don’t even remember what — when the news broke in. Spent the rest of the day watching everything go to shit. I half thought it was some sort of Orson Welles put-on, that it was a farce. At least for the first few hours.

By early afternoon I finally realized it was real, but it was already too late to get out of the building; the parking lot and the street were full of zombies. There’s eight of us in all, hoping to God the security door holds.

SF Drabble #211 “Fact Finding”

The Polixaci Ambassador stopped in his tracks. He chittered, and the translator disc said, “What are those?” He was pointing across the driveway of the country house, at the cows standing just beyond the pasture fence.

I let the farmer answer. “Those are cows. Mostly for milk and meat, but we use ‘em for all sorts of things.”

Bos primigenius taurus,” I clarified.

“And they are native to this planet?” the Ambassador asked.

The farmer laughed, said, “Yeah.”

“Odd that they should so closely resemble the Ogwondi,” the Ambassador said, relieved. Later, he clarified: “It was such a costly war.”

Fantasy Drabble #152 “Campground”

The sun began to rise, which meant we had survived. Rollo, exhausted, limped over to where I was standing and said, “I’ll send the guards out to search for survivors.”

He did not address me as ‘your Highness’, but I ignored it: Rollo had proved ready to step between me and danger all night. “They will find none,” I observed, “but it must be done. Where is Yink?”

“In the back of the second wagon. Drinking.” Rollo sounded disgusted.

“But for his magic, we would not have survived,” I said, surveying the multitude of charred monster corpses. “Let him drink.”

SF Drabble #210 “Observance”

Jo runs, she weaves in and out of crowds, knows which alleys and pedways are shortcuts and which are dead ends. The satchel the usual kind, thrown over her shoulder as if she were any other courier.

The satchel contains nothing of any consequence: some food, a generously dog-eared GovPsyInf pamphlet, a child’s toy, a data slip containing innocuous pop music. The parcel is not inside.

What she hurries to deliver this Sunday — every Sunday — is woven into the ink of her back piece: salvation itself, inscribed microscopically and masked with meaningless tribal patterns. No raid will ever find it.

Zombie Drabble #226 “Orderly”

There were no zombies anywhere to be found, hadn’t been since the third day or so. They had just started walking West out of town and had never come back; that was fine with Harvey.

He spent much of his time clearing the streets. Some of the cars still had keys in them and were easy to move. Others he had to use the tow truck; those he usually put in the high school parking lot, unless he knew in which driveways they belonged.

The town looked almost normal, now. When the cars were done, he’d start on the bones.

Fantasy Drabble #151 “Clarifications”

I’m no wizard. A wizard is just a man that learns to bend magic to his will, to one extent or another. Most of them don’t even really understand the forces they manipulate. They repeat memorized phrases and mimic gestures and then observe the results. They don’t know why it works.

I don’t use magic: I am magic. I’m made of the stuff. Using magic to affect things around me is as easy as picking something up with your fingers is to you. It’s as natural as a spider spinning a web, and if I want, every bit as deadly.

SF Drabble #209 “Tactical Entry”

“Sir?” The cop knocked again. “We know you’re in there, sir. You’re not in any trouble. Could you please come to the door so we can talk to you, sir?”

“Ray, you are one polite motherfucker.”

“No sense in agitating the guy any further than he already is. Sir? Metro Police, sir. Can you come to the door please?”

“He ain’t coming.”

“All right, all right. You download the warrant and I’ll set the transporter coordinates. You want to materialize in the kitchen this time?”

“Yeah, fine; but put me in the doorway, in case he’s got a carving knife.”

Fantasy Drabble #150 “Primordial”

It’s hard to say what came first: the lake or her. She didn’t remember a time when she didn’t swim in these waters. The locals — whose lifetimes of memories she ingested along with the rest  — believed she was created along with the lake, by Ju himself, but she remembered no such incipient event. She wasn’t even certain this ‘Ju’   really even existed, as she couldn’t remember ever encountering him or observing his influence.

Perhaps he was myth. It would explain why he did not protect his servants from her hunger when they came to the shore to wash or drink.

SF Drabble #208 “Homo Autonomicus”

He’d been saving up for nearly a year for the upgrade, and now that it was within his grasp, the anticipation had given way to unease. What if he couldn’t handle it? What if his system rejected it? These sorts of things happened; not often, but enough that there were releases to sign. The ‘Doctor’ said not to worry, that this sort of thing was routine, that they only brought up the risk because they were programmed to.

I’m sure he’s right. But the danger just seems more immediate when it’s you that might end up melted down for scrap.

Fantasy Drabble #149 “No One Home”

Blood and bile and brain, on his hands, under his knees, spread over the tile floor, dripping from his chops and his fur. He had lost himself in his meal, let his guard down. He cocked his misshapen head to listen.

For the most part, silence: a lazy evening. Laughter in a house down the street. A small dog barking three blocks down and one block over. Televisions tuned to several different shows. A teenager’s ipod dock blaring behind a locked door.

No sirens, no frightened voices. Gropk went back to eating; he would be safe for some time yet.

SF Drabble #207 “Chariot”

After a time, the mind coalesced; it imagined the ship was heavier,  by just enough to drop it into normal space. The forces at work were complicated, involving immense energy expenditures, but it had been doing this so long and so well that it was second nature. It knew where in the universe the enormous vessel would emerge, but the hundreds of tiny ships that were at the locus already were a surprise. The mind reached out to pleasantly greet them, but found only fear and anger. It was annoyed, and they began to flare and die, one by one.

Zombie Drabble #225 “Narcissus”

His alarm beeped, but he reached over without looking and turned it off. A couple hours later, his cell vibrated momentarily, letting him know he had a text message, but he ignored it. Two more came but he had fallen back asleep.

By the time he got up and had finished his lengthy morning shower and mirror regiment, it was after noon. He had not turned on the television or radio, being for the most part unconcerned with the outside world, and so was completely unprepared when upon opening his apartment door he was immediately grabbed and eaten by zombies.

Zombie Drabble #224 “Honey, Don’t You Want A Man Like Me”

He’d lost some weight, dropped some of that baby fat, and built up some muscle to replace it. That wasn’t the only thing, but it helped. Probably seeing how capable he was was the main thing, and it had come as something of a surprise. Before, she’d never really thought of him in ‘that way’; he’d been securely in the ‘friend zone’.

Funny how the end of civilization can completely change your priorities. Now — with a baby on the way and endless hordes of zombies to kill — was not the time for the brooding loners she’d been attracted to before.

Zombie Drabble #223 “Nature’s Course”

The axe swung, and another zombie messily dropped. He looked around, but that was it. “Anybody hurt?”

There was no reply for a minute, and then Larry said, “Glen got bit.”

They walked over to where he was sitting. “Glen?”

“Yeah. On the arm. Fuck me.”

“Don’t panic, all right? We’ll take you back, tie you up, wait and see, all right? I heard there are people who’ve beat it.”

“Fucking name one, man. Who?”

“Trust me, all right?” He couldn’t shoot him, not now. Not Glen. Not until after he’d turned.

“Naw, fuck it. Just let me sit here.”

Zombie Drabble #222 “Vanity”

“Why us?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if nine out of ten people just got whatever this is and turned into zombies, why were we immune? What’s the commonality? Blood type?”

“Naw, I’m AB negative and Chuck is O pos. What are you?”

“A positive, I think. I’d have to check my driver’s license.”

“You’re still carrying that around? Why?”

“Well, so I can be identified if I die.”

“Identified by who? Ain’t no coroner coming. Ain’t no funeral home gonna send the hearse. You gonna lie there and rot.”

“All right, I just like the picture, okay? Satisfied?”

Zombie Drabble #221 “A Gut Feeling”



“Someone’s at the front door.”

“It’s three in the morning. Go back to sleep.”

“They’ve been knocking for five minutes now. Go tell them to go away.”

John strained to hear, and instead of a fast series of sharp knocks, he heard a dull thud, followed by a pause, followed by another, followed by another pause, and so on.

“Go tell them to go away.”

He got out of bed and, instead of heading for the door, went to the closet for the shotgun. He saw concern on her face, so he shrugged and said, “Just in case.”

Zombie Drabble #220 “Trümmerfrauen”

The building was mostly collapsed, had lost its roof and any identifying signage in the blast, but it was clearly a grocery store. There would be no zombies around — probably not for miles due to the radiation — but a few kept watch nevertheless.

The rest of them, grey and exhausted, sifted through the ruin looking for intact cans of food. They found little that remained edible. Like always, most of what they would carry back to where they were building the walls they hoped would shelter them from the inevitable return of the masses of living dead would be bricks.

Zombie Drabble #219 “Close To You”

They sat on the edge of the roof, legs dangling over the side. From up there, you could see the whole town, watch what was happening. The police tried to stage a breakout from the station about an hour before, but hadn’t gotten far. That was when he had reached out and taken her hand.

They still had a few cigarettes left, and Sara lit one for both of them. After a long drag, she said, “I don’t wanna die a virgin, Jose.”

He looked worried for a minute, and then said, “I don’t have any protection.”

Sara just laughed.

Zombie Drabble #218 “Mr. Saturday Night”

“Fuck, man, what a night.” Chad leaned against the van and sighed.

Billy Starlight laughed, “Ain’t over, dude. Those girls are waiting ‘round the corner. Fuck, help me with this amp.”

“You said there’d be roadies, man, how is this my fuckin’ job now?”

“Roadies. This guy wants roadies. Genius, we got paid seventy-five bucks for this gig.”

“That’s because nobody was here man: everybody’s home sick. Even those girls are hurtin’, dude. I’ll pass.”

“You will not pass. You will come to the party, and you will be a wingman, man. I am getting laid if it kills me.”

Zombie Drabble #217 “Between Floors”

“How long has it been, anyway?”

“Not sure. Three, four hours.”

“Man, this fuckin’ sucks. Shouldn’t security have come by now? Or the fire department? Hey! Hey!” He pounded on the doors hard enough to make the entire elevator rock.

“Listen, can you… I don’t feel so well, could you not…”

“Yeah, hey, sorry man. Yeah you’re looking pretty pale.”

“I think,” the businessman managed to say, “I’m going to… lie down for a while. Wake me if we get rescued.”

“Yeah, okay. It’s Sunday, though, man, it might be a while.”

“Yeah.” It was the businessman’s last intelligible response.