SF Drabble #183 “Beachcomber”

I went on sabbatical from the University, used most of my savings and bought a ticket on the Polixaci Liner: from here to Shchinwhay and back.

Apparently diamonds are a lot more common on Shchinwhay than on Earth. Something to do with planet formation. Don’t ask me details, I’m a Literature professor.

When I got back, I had to declare them of course, and the duties were outrageous, but even so: I made about a hundred-to one profit. They passed a law afterwards, but of course it’s not retroactive.

I’ve retired from teaching now; thinking of working on that novel…

Zombie Drabble #193 “Passive Defense”

Dewayne looked across to the roof opposite, waiting for the patrol to return. This was their way in: The lower floors of the buildings from here down to the corner were blocked off. The only way into ‘town’ was up through 1005 East Main.

A zombie had made it onto the roof, and Dewayne watched as it followed its nose to the connecting bridge. “Come on, asshole. Come get me.”

Eventually it stepped out, fell, got tangled, struggled, and then dropped the ten stories to the pavement below. The zombie didn’t exist that could successfully negotiate a plank-less rope bridge.

Fantasy Drabble #129 “Nursery Crime”

The doll’s eyelids bounced when she was jostled, but it was only the ordinary mechanical imitation of a blink; she was otherwise unerringly inanimate in the presence of adults. It was only when mother left and closed the door that the lids blinked on their own, the mouth changed from the artificial smile to a menacing scowl, the plastic hands searched for something to tear apart. She wouldn’t have had far to go to reach my sleeping head.

If not for plush Elephant, resolutely patrolling at the foot of the bed, she would have killed me. I know that now.

SF Drabble #182 “Rookie”

Ron stood on the Roof, protected from the elements by only his clothes and a hard hat. He was aware that the others were keeping an eye on him, the new guy, and he understood it; some people can’t take it up here. One new hire a few years ago got so panicky and out of control that he ran right off the edge.

Olympia is two miles tall, reckoned at the roof deck where they were. A hundred years ago, when the arcology was new, that was considered big.

This was Ron’s first time outside. He could handle it.

Fantasy Drabble #128 “A La Carte”

Do I love you? Do I love you? I will tell you, but only because later I will make you forget.

You are no equal to me; you are an infant. I was already older than you when Martin Luther nailed his letter to the door of the Schlosskirche. I watched him do it. You barely need to shave.

You bore me insensible with your childish cares, your outbursts, your desperation. I keep you to drink from and to warm my bed. You are a pretty distraction, nothing more. I could never love you.

I’m just playing with my food.

Zombie Drabble #192 “Under Glass”

Father points, and she looks. There, in the gully, is the ancient hulk of a truck. It has been generations since it skidded to a halt, but shielded from the sun and rain by the trees it is mostly intact; only the tires are rotted away.

At first she does not see it, but as she creeps closer she recognizes the ghastly outline through the clouded windshield. It opens its blackened maw in a noiseless moan, angry at having to watch its food walk by unmolested. 

“Why not kill it?” she asks.

Her father shrugs. “Why bother? Let it rot.”

Fantasy Drabble #127 “Familiar”

He knew the spell the instant he felt the power draining from him; it was a favorite of his enemies, of the kind of magic they practiced. He should have been prepared, seen it coming. He would be defenseless for a time: hours, perhaps even days if the caster was strong enough.

They wouldn’t give him a chance to recover, of course. Somewhere, somewhere close, there was a swordsman or a knife-wielding assassin preparing to deliver a coup de grace his sorcerer master was too afraid to execute himself.

But whoever he was, he was in for a toothsome surprise.

SF Drabble #181 “Cold Call”

Sunrise came every 45 minutes. He used to revel in it, but this time it held no magic. The light revealed open ocean; when he could see land again, he turned the radio back on.

“This is STS-138 calling anyone within the sound of my voice. This is Endeavor. Please respond, over.”

The others were sleeping. He had volunteered to man the radio, so there was less chance of their missing a call from below.

Endeavor to anyone on the ground, please respond, over.”

Earth rolled slowly, majestically below him as he listened for an answer that did not come.

Zombie Drabble #191 “Eyeball”

He pushed the stick over, and the Cessna obliged, banking gently left. When he had a clearer view, he toggled the microphone on.

“Beekeper, Eyeball; looks like another group coming up from the Southwest.”

How many, Eyeball?” came the crackling reply.

“Probably a thousand. Maybe more, hard to tell with the trees. Advise you try to break out to the North.”

Negative, Eyeball, we can’t move the wounded any faster, over.”

The few hundred survivors, mostly troopers and guardsmen and their families, were now surrounded on three sides by the hordes. Soon they would have the river at their backs.

SF Drabble #180 “Social Development Unit”

Morris Watkins walked quickly down the prefab building’s hallway, comparing door numbers to those on a slip of paper in his hand, looking for 17-4B. In a colony of fewer than a thousand people, marriages could not be left to chance; matches had to be made with an eye towards optimizing the the community’s genetic health. So says the Colony Computer, and one doesn’t question such things.

In one of these apartments lived Emmaline Rae Wilkins, and she held a similar paper in her hand. Morris could only hope she was looking at his name with excitement rather than dread.

Fantasy Drabble #126 “I Am Spartacus”

As the gate is winched noisily upward he stands in the shadow, waiting for the crowd’s roar to reach the properly fevered pitch; only then will he step forward into the light. The guards do not prod him anymore, as they know his hunger for victory is all the motivation he requires.

The creature lies in the center. Its chains will be released by mechanism, after the gate is closed behind him. But that too, will wait for his traditional salute — sword raised high in the air — to the crowd, to the King, and to the dragon, bound and doomed.

SF Drabble #179 “Employee #79104b”

No one asked for Rodney’s ident card when he entered the building: the return signal from his subcutaneous chip told security all they needed to know. They knew his name, age, address, who his corporate masters were, who his creditors were. Everything important.

He always got motion sickness in the lifts. If it weren’t so many floors down to his office, he would take the stairs. He supposed that from the managers’ perspective, there were simply too many people to move for a gentle ride to be a consideration. It always felt like he was dropping uncontrollably into hell itself.

Zombie Drabble #190 “Prognosis”

She came out of it slowly. The light still hurt her eyes, but there wasn’t much coming through between the plank walls of the barn. It might have been before dawn: the air was cool.

It had been early morning when she had lain down to nurse her wound. She couldn’t even look under her hastily-applied ersatz bandage for fear of how it might appear now. At least it didn’t hurt as much.

Had she beat it? It hadn’t been much of a bite, though the infection had been spectacular. Had she fought it off? Was she going to live?

Fantasy Drabble #125 “Ark”

It rained constantly. It rained so hard — and often horizontally enough — that he had to bail out the boat every few hours. There were others, drifting by, in boats of their own. He saw ships under sail, moving fast on the horizon. They probably couldn’t stop for fear of being swamped by refugees seeking rescue.

They were well inland, he guessed. The mountains looked closer than they had seemed when he was a child on that trip to Makestown. But the moutains also seemed shorter. How deep was the water getting now? Would the mountains disappear as the towns had?