Zombie Drabble #408 "Climb"

"We can't stay up here forever."

The horde clamored beneath them, surrounding the building, the fire truck, filling the parking lot, the street.

"Maybe they'll go away. The wind'll change, they'll smell something—"

"There's too many. Some of them will, maybe. Not enough."

"So what do we do? We'll starve. We'll die of dehydration or exposure or something."

"Someone will come. The cops, the army—"

"Half of those zombies are army. No one's coming."

They sat silent for a long time, holding hands.

"Still. Nice view. I always wanted to climb up here when I was a kid."

"Me too."


He was a mouse, quiet and small, hurrying from shadow to shadow. She followed behind with her hand in his, his grip as sure as his timing.

A whisper: "There'll be a service robot coming through, one minute, maybe two. I can already hear it. After that we go."


"Across to the catwalk. Down the ladder."

"Lower? Even lower?"


The robot's whirr was growing louder, and she watched its shadow spread and distort along the wall before it came into view, sliding past them unawares. She covered her own mouth with her hand.

After the robot passed, he stuck out his head just far enough to glance back in the direction from which it had come, before turning back to her with a nod and a wink. They were moving again. Her bare feet lifted off rubber tile and landed on metal grate.

"There." He pointed: a service ladder, surrounded by safety rings, led down and away from the catwalk into darkness. There were no windows, not down this low.

She looked down nervously into the blackness. "Aren't we near the ground yet?"

"We're still twenty stories up."

"What's a 'story'?"

"Level. Come on."

"How many levels… how many 'stories' is Olympia?"

"You don't know, do you? You're not supposed to. The Governing Council keeps it secret. It's at least two hundred, maybe more, and I'm pretty sure they're still adding to it. The upper levels, the rich people levels, they're taller than the ones for people like us. Higher ceilings."

"That doesn't seem fair. My sister and her husband had to wait two years for an apartment. They're in an efficiency on eighty-three—"

"Come on. Just don't look down."

The ladder rungs were cold against the soles of her feet. She couldn't help looking down to keep from stepping on his hands; she didn't stop shaking until she could see the concrete floor below them.

He was already examining a door control panel when she stepped off the ladder and exhaled in relief. There was a level placard on the wall beside the door, inscribed with a neat, bold '1'; she had never seen one in single digits before. "What now?"

"Almost." He tapped three buttons, and then three more, but nothing happened.

"You have done this before?"

"Twice." He tapped in a slightly different sequence.

"Who'd you bring?"

He laughed, turned to look at her. "Nobody. Only you. Now let me concentrate, they change these codes once a week." He tapped another series of buttons. The door buzzed, slid open.

They were bathed in a brilliant light. He was through the door immediately, and she lost him in the glare. "Wait! I can't see!"

"You're used to windows, they're filtered. Your eyes will adjust. Just don't look directly at the sun."

With eyes squinting under a shielding hand, she stepped out onto gravel, wincing at the discomfort. "I should have brought shoes." Ahead of her, he grinned, beckoned her to follow. She stepped onto the grass.

Guess What's Coming To Dinner

"Hang on just a minute, young lady."

"He's waiting for me outside."

"I don't know where you think you're going, but—"

"You said I could go, we talked about this."

"That was before I knew who you would be going with. And now, looking out the window, I can plainly see why you didn't tell me."

"Oh, I knew you were going to do this. But I'm eighteen years old and I can associate with whomever—"

"As long as you're living under my roof, you'll live by my rules."

"Is that really what you want? You want me to move out? You want me to leave?"

"You know that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying… I'm saying that you're not going anywhere with him. If that's even…"

"What? If that's even what?"

"Never mind. You—"

"'If that's even a him'? Is that what you were going to say? I can't believe you."

"I didn't say that."

"You were thinking it. You know you were."

"Leonard, aren't you going to say anything?"

"Oh, don't try to drag Dad into this; this is all you."

"Fine. It's me. I don't want you going. I don't want you seeing him, I don't want you hanging around with him. I don't trust him. I don't want you ending up like him. That's not how we raised you."

"I'm not going to Upgrade, mom. First of all, I couldn't afford it even if I wanted to. Second of all, I'm happy the way I am. You don't have to worry about that."

"I just don't understand why you'd want to socialize with those people."

"Who, Upgrades? He's an Upgrade, Mom. You can say it. He's post-human. He wanted more out of his life, and had the money to do it. But he's still a person."

"Not the way I look at it."

"Oh please, you've had your tits done and your face done and lipo twice."

"That's different. I'm still me."

"He's still him."

"You didn't know him before he did it."

"Whatever. You've been listening to those—"

"What if you fell in love? What if you wanted to get married? Have children? What would they look like? What would they be?"

"They'd be Upgrades too, at least partially. The genetic stuff would get passed along, it's dominant, they designed it that way. They'd get the implants when they were old enough. If they wanted them, anyway. Maybe they wouldn't, who knows. It'd be their choice."

"And you think that would be all right with you? As a mother?"


"…I just don't think you've given this a lot of thought."

"Well, of course not. We're not even boyfriend and girlfriend. We're just going on a date."

"I wish you wouldn't."

"Well, it's not up to you."

"Fine. Have it your way. You'll learn."

"Learn what? No seriously, learn what? I've been around Upgrades my whole life. They go to my school. They go to the same parties I go to, the same dance clubs. They're everywhere. You just don't see them because they don't go to your church and they don't go to your spinning class. So you don't get it. You think they're monsters because you've never seen one up close."

"And I'm sure I don't want to."

"Guess what? You win. I'm not going out. I'm staying in. And so's he. He's eating with us. And you can ask him anything you want. Put out two more plates. No, don't look at Dad, this is happening."

"Oh, God."

"And he doesn't eat meat, so do your veggie casserole."

"Oh, God."

Fantasy Drabble #319 "Adept"

The first time he tried, nothing. The second time, he produced a snap, a puff, and a fizzle, but no fire. The third time, he burned down the Inn and was run out of town. He styled himself 'sorcerer', even then.

Fire magic is supposed to be easy: consider all of creation as composed of tiny particles, all of which burn when hot enough. Hold them in your mind, make them vibrate like the flare of a well-rung temple bell.

There must be some way to contain it, to focus it; and he'd find it. Back to the drawing board.