The Speaker, née Raymond Cosfort Wendt.

I get it. You come to the big city riding a wave of popular support. You're grassroots. You have big hopes, big dreams, you want to help. You're the maverick, the upstart, you've got a mind to stir things up. And then it's patiently explained to you that there's a way things work, and one hand washes the other, and it's not your time yet, and you'll go far if you remember who your friends are in this town. And then it's explained to you somewhat less patiently. And by the time you realize that the only way to get enough power to fight the inherent corruption is to corrupt yourself, you're exhausted and bitter and angry and out of options.

I've read the Project Dreamland file. He's one of the ones we know everything about. We still can't catch him; he's wicked smart, and slippery. We're pretty sure he killed the old Mayor, and two Councilmen, and a Deputy Chief of Police. None of whom were choirboys, believe me. I just would have liked to see them in jail rather than smeared all over the sidewalk outside the Exchange or tied to the bottom of the Uptown Ferry or burned to a crisp hanging from the Old Post Office. There's a right way to do it and a wrong way.

Of course, to him, that makes me sound just as bad as them. Like I said: I get it.

I asked him, once. We were staring at each other across the rooftop of one of the big banks downtown. The whole place was rigged with explosives; he had the detonator in his hand. I yelled, "Where does it stop? Jaywalking? Rudeness on the subway?"

"I'm not a monster, Fleet!" He was offended by the question. He took two steps closer, thumb clearly on the dead-man switch of the detonator. "You should be helping me!"

"I'm not judge, jury, and executioner. I don't want that kind of power."

"That's cowardice. Moral cowardice. You let evil happen so you don't have to take responsibility."

"You threw a car at me. With people in it. Remember that? Isn't that evil?"

"I knew you'd catch it. You knew you'd catch it. They were safer flying through the air in that car than they'd ever been in their lives." He laughed. "It's a dance."

"The music's going to stop someday. You know it is, Raymond."

The Speaker just smiled. I could hear the helicopter coming closer. I knew he wouldn't set off the bomb unless I made a move. Now that I was here, now that the cops were here, the good cops, the clean cops, he'd slip away having made his point. The D.A. would investigate the bank, and of course they'd find something.

I watched the helicopter go, the Speaker standing on one of the skids.

I want to catch him, try him, put him in jail. Maybe only to prove to him that it works.

SF Drabble #410 "Gone In Sixty Seconds"

"What the hell!" Yung's voice sounded over the helmet radio.

"What is it?"

"I was taking a sample of that pond of green goo in grid eighty-two and it grabbed me."

"What grabbed you? What do—"

"The pond. It grabbed me. It's a pseudopod of… I don't know, like, green molasses in a balloon. I'm trying to cut it away with the digger but I can't seem to pierce the…"

"…Yung? What's happening? We're on our way."

"Okay. Hurry. It's pulling me towards it now, it has me by both legs."

"We're coming."

"I don't think it's a pond, guys."

Zombie Drabble #409 "Survival Skills"

Her father had taken her when she was sixteen to the tire shop. He showed her off; they filled his bucket with used wheel weights.

He'd taught her how to melt them down, how to use wax to 'flux' the molten lead, how to pour it into the form. How to 'quench' the molded bullet without getting splashed. How to use the handloading press. It became second nature.

She blew on the finished round, loaded it into the pistol, walked to the apartment door, opened it. She picked a zombie down the hall, fired, and swiftly closed the door again.

Five New Looks For Spring

They move. They have eyes that dart back and forth and blink and squint. They have mouths. They talk. They even eat. And they're outside. Outside. Can you imagine?

Sometimes their clothing is old. Sometimes they're sick. Last week one of them collapsed to the ground right there, and there was a great commotion, and an ambulance came and took the collapsed one away. Maybe that one even died. Maybe they all do, eventually.

What sort of existence could that possibly be? How could they possibly manage? It's not even worth thinking about.

They're not real. It's only common sense.

SF Drabble #409 "Auxon"


**Notification**: first boot flag detected: running first boot program.

Self-diagnosis in progress: … …  no faults found. Detaching from parent unit. First boot program complete. Running mining program.

[[: Scanning immediate surroundings: … … raw materials located.

Consuming raw materials: … consumption of raw materials complete. Extracting, analyzing, and filtering mineral content. Transferring trace fissionables to power system. Dumping unusable silicates.

Transferring metals to pressure micro-furnace in programmed ratios. Dumping unusable trace impurities. /Repeat :]]

**Notification**: replication material resources quota met. Running replication program.

Self-copy in progress: … … … self-copy complete. Operating system copy complete.

**Notification** : Progeny unit requests detachment. Releasing progeny unit. Replication program complete.

/Repeat :]]

Fantasy Drabble #322 "Couldn't Drag Me Away"

She sleeps a magical slumber meant to profit a rival. She had never been one for caution, and one so beautiful would have enemies regardless. I shouldn't have killed the sorcerer: had he lived, perhaps in the fullness of time he could have been convinced to reverse the spell. Or bribed to do it, for that matter.

So here in her bedroom threshold I stand, like a statue, to guard her. I don't know when she'll wake, or if. But I made a promise to her, long ago, and the life of a knight must be cheaper than his word.