Glass Half Empty

Mays stared up at a tiny dot of reflected light moving across the night sky far overhead, before losing it against the face of the looming gas giant. "It's funny, you know?"

"I do not see how."

"Oh, come on."

"The ship is back in orbit without us. ELLE can no more pilot the ship back down to retrieve us than it—"


"—could have overrode the automatic emergency takeoff triggered by the quake. We have limited oxygen in our tanks and will soon suffocate, assuming another quake does not first cause us to be swallowed or crushed by shifting rock."

"You're a real downer, Rebbo."

Rebbo looked down at him, an alien face wearing an alien expression that nevertheless somehow showed disapproval. "We are about to die on an unnamed moon. Forgive me my poor companionship."

"ELLE can call for help. She will call for help, because it's standard company procedure. Someone will come."

"You assume someone is within range to receive an emergency signal; that they both can and will respond; and further, are capable of reaching us on the surface before our tanks are empty."

"I have faith."

"You have two hours, fifteen minutes, twenty-eight seconds of breathable air."

"And faith."

"As you like." Rebbo turned and walked off.

Rebbo was ten feet tall, and his legs (and arms) were longer, relative to his height, than a human's. Between footfalls he sailed through the air in a way that seemed graceful, effortless. He had adapted to the moon's low gravity quickly.

He's been in space a lot longer than I have. "Where are you going?"

"We are conversing via suit radio, it is not necessary to raise your voice to be heard simply because I am further—"

"Sorry. Where?"

"I left behind the drill and its power pack, and several core samples, when I fled for the ship during the quake. I should retrieve them."

"If no one's going to rescue us, why bother?"

"If you are correct, and our chance of rescue is nonzero, I should retrieve them now so that doing so later does not further delay us."

"Okay. But by moving around and carrying heavy objects you're just using up your O faster."

"A few minutes, perhaps. But if I am to die here I would rather not die in the midst of unnecessary disorder."

After a moment, Mays asked, "Do you need help?"

"I am already returning." Rebbo came back into view a moment later, drill slung across his back, toolbox in one hand and sample case in the other.

"Anything damaged?"

"Not that I can tell from visual inspection alone. We should test the drill."

"It can wait. Sit down, rest a minute."


"Oh, just enjoy the view." Mays gestured at the gas giant above them. "Look at that thing. Why do you suppose it's pink?"

"It is not uniformly 'pink'. And I am not a planetologist."

Mays could hear the impatience in his voice. "Seriously, you're no fun at all."

SF Drabble #407 "Analysis"

"So," he said, wreathed in smoke, "I am told you think you are a time traveler, yes?"

"That's right."

"From the future?"

"The future, yes." I affected an expression of discomfort. "Do you think you could have the orderlies loosen these straps a bit? I'm starting to ache."

"I am afraid not." I didn't expect that to work: I've already tried to escape twice, and the last time I punched a nurse. Male, but, still.

"All right." My discomfort may not be physical, but it's real. The Device won't wait. The timer will send it back with or without me.

Fantasy Drabble #321 "The Tourist"

Charleston rattles up out of the grave on a cool summer night, curious to see how changed is the world. He grasps at cool clumps of grass with slender phalanges, he pulls himself up to his patellas, he stands to wobble on his calcinea.

The neighborhood is different: dirtier, shabbier. A car lies at the curb stripped to its frame; Charleston knows the feeling.

He rings doorbells, knocks on doors, but there is no answer. There's no one left here who wants to know him. He turns and clatters back to his headstone. He has no skin in the game.

They Call Me Fleet

Panix escaped from Ultramax again, and D1 sent us after her, also again. B Team gets all the tough assignments while A Team gets the parades. Maybe if there were five of us we'd make it look easy, too.

I had to stand up Mandy, who was already seated at the restaurant waiting for me. We're trying the whole 'let's go back to dating' thing. We'll see if it works. At least this time I called; I think she took that as a step in the right direction.

Panix and I have history. She's the one who gave me my Cape name in the first place. My, but you're fleet of foot, aren't you? Well, it won't save you! She'd regretted those words later, in solitary confinement.

Rapture took to the air immediately. The Central Bank has a roof with a helicopter pad, and she figured to strike from above while I launched the frontal assault.

The good thing about Panix: she doesn't have lackeys. She doesn't use robots or mutated animals or escaped mental patients. She's arrogant enough to think she can knock over a bank alone. The bad thing about Panix is, it's possible on any given day that she might be right.

I walked up to the front door, peered through the glass. Panix was standing in the middle of the ornate marble lobby with something that looked like a net-gun. I grokked her plan: tie me down, literally, while she deals with Rapture.

Rapture, who was floating down the unobstructed center of some nearby stairwell, due to arrive momentarily.

It's not a bad plan. What she didn't know was: I've gotten faster in the two years since we last met. I was through the door and halfway across the lobby at her before she even realized I was inside. By the time she got the gun up and trained, I was behind her, tapping her on the shoulder.

Panix doesn't understand. Rapture takes to the air; I can fly.

Fantasy Drabble #320 "Traditionalist"

I like 'em in a nightie. One of those white gossamer numbers, frilly, not too long or too short. Sometimes they wear men's pajamas or a long t-shirt, and it's just not the same. It's not like I'm asking for a candelabra or anything; I've changed with the times. But the long nightie that flutters when I kick up an unnerving cold draft, that becomes just a little transparent when the full moon is behind it… there's just nothing like it.

Mind you, if they're in the altogether when I scare 'em right out of their beds, I won't complain.