SF Drabble #203 “Officer Country”

“Nothing they’re throwing at us is getting through the shields. But it’s pretty nasty out there. Radiation is in the redline across a fairly wide spectrum, and some of that metal is moving at orbital speeds.”

The Captain smiled. “So, you’re saying we’d better make sure to keep the shields up.”

“Aye, most definitely, sir.”

“Sounds good to me.” The old man turned to an attractive aide and said, “Yeoman, would you freshen up my coffee?”

“Right away, sir.”

“And maybe a scone.”

“I’ll see what I can do.” She smiled sweetly, the way they teach them at the Academy.

Zombie Drabble #209 “Flammenwerfer”

I remember watching the black-and-white film of the guys on Iwo Jima, on Okinawa. Bulky tanks on their backs, pouring it on while exposed to enemy fire; it must have been tough. Likewise Vietnam.

For me it’s more like being an exterminator, only the bugs are real big. And they used to be people. I just walk up, light ‘em, and walk away. The zombies usually go down after about a minute afire. I guess the infection can’t take the heat. Plus, I’d imagine it’s burning the tendons away. Guy behind me douses the fire, we go burn some more.

SF Drabble #202 “And You're Working For No One But Me.”

The dust cloud rising in the distance told them a wagon approached and — as only Vylid would be found in a land vehicle — the humans began ducking into their huts, to prepare for possible searches.

The wagon’s steam engine hissed and belched as the vehicle neared, and it slowed gradually, rolling to a stop in the center of the village. The Vylid aboard her made no move to dismount, but waited for the village headman to approach and ask after their needs.

It would be taxes. If it had been for a fugitive, they would have been holding pressure rifles.

Fantasy Drabble #145 “Obeisance”

He walked down the beach and waded into the surf, fighting the waves until he was armpit-deep. It was dusk, just enough light for him to see, but not enough to keep his visitors away.

He began to feel the tendrils around his ankles. While they made their way up his body he spoke a greeting and blessing in the old language. After a moment they gripped him solidly, and he felt them in his mind.

Much had changed. In the old days, this would have been a sacrifice; now it was a conversation. He hoped they would be satisfied.

Zombie Drabble #208 “Sucker Bet”

Paul said, “Don’t make me laugh.”

Ricky insisted, “I’m serious. I bet I can get down to the corner, into the drug store, fill a shopping basket full of batteries, and get back here without a zombie so much as laying a hand on me.”

“Bet what?”

Ricky thought about it. “Three cans.”

“That’s a lot of food.”

“Take it or leave it.”

“Fine. Go on.”

Ricky climbed down the fire escape ladder and was off.

Anne asked Paul, “Think he can make it?”

“Who cares? If he makes it, we get batteries. If he doesn’t, more food for us.”

SF Drabble #201 “Most Foul”

The Detective stood silent while the robot studied the crime scene, watched as it used various attachments to take samples, photos, measurements. After a while, it backed away from the body and stood motionless in the doorway.

the Detective asked, “What are you doing now?”

“I find it helpful to visualize the entire scene as I conduct my analysis.”

“Any idea who our killer might be?”

“There is as yet insufficient data. Of course, my working hypothesis is that the murderer is a human.”

The detective laughed. “Oh, really? A human?”

The robot almost sounded haughty. “Who else? You’re animals.”

Fantasy Drabble #144 “Inheritors”

The cavern was vast and deep, and they found it in the center of the wasteland, just as he had been told. No one had even set eyes on this mountain in a generation, and now they were deep within its bowels.

“Down there.” Yowgron said, pointing. He dropped his torch into the void, and while lighting another, said, “The Seer said we’d find it down there.”

“Find what? Why have you brought us here, thief?”

“You will find the bones of a dragon. You will also find more gold than you could carry to the surface in a lifetime.”

Zombie Drabble #207 “Let There Be Light”

As soon as he saw it, he put on the gloves. Then he told the others to fan out, take up positions, protect him. He’d have to climb up carefully, and back down even more carefully. When he was done, they’d have to head back to town immediately: best not to take any chances.

The fixture hung by the wires from a free-standing wall, where once a building had been. Maybe a home, maybe something else. It didn’t matter now. An intact incandescent bulb would have been precious find enough; a compact fluorescent was worth extra rations for a month.

Fantasy Drabble #143 “Rotary”

Anything can be enchanted. It’s not just swords and amulets and icons. More prosaic items can hold magical properties just as easily: an electric lamp; a glass jar, with or without jam; an automobile. This should come as no surprise.

The telephone belonged to a tenant who moved out without paying their last month’s rent. It was kitschy, and I like that, so I kept it. The first time I used it, I got my grandfather. He’s been dead since ‘75. Then I got Aunt Emeline, who died in ‘92, breast cancer. You actually can’t call the living, I’ve tried.

SF Drabble #200 “Triton”

I claim this moon in the name of mankind. It has been a long and difficult journey. Those who were killed in the accident died in the name of discovery, and I salute them.

I have decided to detach the lander and proceed to the surface, even though due to the leak there is not enough fuel for a return to orbit, much less a return of the service module to Earth. I will conduct as much of the original survey and science mission as is practical alone. Data will be transmitted via main antenna as normal.

Wish me luck.

Zombie Drabble #206 “Self-Medicating”

Herb was drunk again, earlier than usual. She didn’t say anything, because it really didn’t matter.

Outside, the yard and the road down as far as the school teemed with the shambling figures of the dead. She couldn’t bear to look. Somewhere out there were her children, possibly alive, possibly not. It was all she could do not to throw the door open and run outside, going from gray face to gray face searching for her babies.

She knew Herb felt the same, maybe even more so. When he finally ran out of alcohol, there would be a serious problem.

SF Drabble #199 “Thawed”

Maye woke naked on a slab. At first she assumed she was dead after all, that it hadn’t worked. It took them days to convince her she was alive, a task made harder by the changes to the language.

There were classes: history to learn, and lots of it. New customs, language, science. She recognized some of the other students as clients of Second Chances, Inc.

It was the food that took the most getting used to. Bland, nondescript. An odd contrast to the colorful, vital city around them. It was a small price to pay for her new life.