Signed, Amy

They said to start at the beginning.

Colton found the book. He was doing odd jobs then, and one of them was cleaning out an old church basement full of junk. Most of the stuff got thrown away or sold at a flea market, but the book he squirreled away for himself. He liked the cover image: he said it looked like one of the demons he used to draw on his notebook covers in middle school, only it was good enough that whoever etched it in the leather should be working at Marvel or DC or something.

We did the summoning thinking it would be a fun party game and nothing would actually happen. That's when Colton got scratched. Gouged. Whatever… hurt.  After Colton shot the demon, we put it in the van and buried it out by Monthall. I can show you the exact spot on Google Maps if you want. I won't go out there again, though. You can drag me in handcuffs if you really want to but I'll fight you the whole way and I'll just lead you in the wrong direction when we get there. I'm not going anywhere near that thing.

We dug the pit, and pushed the demon in, and then Colton shot himself  before we could stop him. I understand that that this is when I should have called the authorities.

Instead we buried them both, the demon and Colton. We also buried the book and the gun. We were scared, we were half crazy from that thing being in our heads giving orders. We thought burying it all and keeping the secret would give us time before whatever came next.

Morris and Jen left town. They didn't tell me where they were going. I really don't know what happened between them. When they left, they were in love, they just wanted to start a new life.

People were looking for Colton, his parents had filed a missing persons report. The local police didn't give me much of a hard time. I'd packed a case with some of his clothes and his laptop and used his debit card to empty his bank account, then tossed all of it including the money into a dumpster, the one behind Morry's on Third, if that helps you find it.

I assume forensics will confirm that Colton shot himself. Powder burns or residue or whatever. I admit to burying Colton's body and then trying to make it look like he got freaked out that I was pregnant and ran off. I don't know what to tell you about Morris and Jen. I didn't track them down and stab them to death in some motel and try to make it look like a murder-suicide.

The baby is a separate question, but you know that by now. The fire was about the baby. I'm telling you, the baby is part of it. I don't know how, or why. I should have done something earlier. You still can.

SF Drabble #414 "Negotiation"

"How much for the girl?"

"What?" Jimm looked up, around.

The voice came from a human, overweight, dressed well, wearing an ID on a lanyard around his neck that said he was class 'B'; he was looking at Kie. "The blond. How much?"

"She's not for sale."

"I have Association credits. Not scrip." He held up a silvery, translucent square with symbols etched into the face. "The real thing. Name your price."

"She's really not for sale. No disrespect: we're married."

"Hang on," Kie interjected, and that sweet smile spread across her face. "I'm expensive. How much do you have?"

SF Drabble #413 "Van Gogh In The Furnace"

They're painting the floor again.

It's the Chairman. He thinks the right set of symbols, the right shapes, maybe the right artist, who knows, will put a stop to the Events. The last guy painted a fractal pattern, the guy before him an abstract sea of color. I wonder how they felt knowing their final work would be immediately painted over?

So far, nothing has worked, though the Board keeps affirming that he's doing the right thing: it's a brilliant plan, and they're satisfied with his leadership. What else would they say?

It's his world, we're just living in it.

Zombie Drabble #411 "Meet Me At The Statue On Wednesday"

There was a science to it, figuring out where they'd congregate in numbers. They tended to walk towards the rising sun in the morning and the setting sun in the evening. They'd walk into the wind, if there was a scent on it. She could tell where they'd end up the next day, usually, and plan around them. She only had to do it once a week.

He hadn't shown up that first Wednesday — it had been a madhouse of soldiers and refugees and panic — but it was only a matter of time. He'd come. He'd said so.


It was a litany for the pair of them, Bobby Christopher and his brother, whose name I don't remember: Fenwick and that gas mask, man. Don't he know this shit ain't airborne? Hasn't he seen the movies? And what the fuck kind of gay-ass name is Fenwick?

Fenwick just ignored them. He'd seen a lot of people turn that first weekend without having gotten bit and come to his own conclusions. He only took the mask off to eat, and he did that away from the group.

The brothers would taunt him, sometimes. We'd be clearing a house, everybody with shotgun or crossbow or whatever at the ready: "Hey, Fenwick, go ahead and go first. You're the one with the gas mask." And he'd do it. He never sassed back. I don't know if it was because he didn't want to risk it or what. After a while, Fenwick going first was just the way we did things.

Of course, he got lots of kills that way, and first dibs on the scavenge too; that didn't sit well with Bobby Christopher. Why the fuck does fucking Fenwick get the only solar iPhone charger? Man, I want to listen to some music too. It never occurred to him to simply ask to borrow it.

Things got tense. It'd happened before. Usually somebody would just be gone one morning: taken whatever they'd brought in and climbed down off of whatever roof we were on and walked away. But Fenwick wasn't going anywhere, and neither was Bobby Christopher or his brother.

It was the used bookstore that ended it. Fenwick wanted something new to read; nobody really cared enough to talk him out of it, much less go in with him. People are expected to use their own judgment.

He came out, he'd been bit. Nobody really said anything. Bobby Christopher managed, "That sucks, bro."

Fenwick gave him the charger and the mask, and then went back inside the bookstore and locked the door behind him.


The sorcerer's only excuse was that he'd been sleeping when they'd appeared out of the rolling fog at full sail, slid alongside starboard with pitch-dipped arrows trained, and signaled for Mellesdane to surrender. He awoke to the clamor of shouting and the thunder of heavy boots against the deck overhead.

A steward came to fetch him, young and terrified. "You must come now, My Lord. We are taken by Raiegan pirates."

"Not to worry, friend." He took the time to dress in his best finery as the steward trembled in the doorway. "All will be well."

Once he was dressed, they made their way to the ladder and up into the sun. The Captain and crew of Mellesdane had been lined up on the weather deck, guarded by sword-wielding pirates whose Captain stood on the forecastle.

"Good morning," the sorcerer said, pleasantly.

"And who are you?" The pirate Captain snarled.

Mellesdane's Captain called out, in a valiant attempt to cover what he imagined must be the obvious. "A nobleman from the Southern Coast, and my passenger. He has done nothing to—" a Raiegan gave him a blow to the stomach for his trouble.

"A nobleman, are you? Would there be those willing to pay a ransom for your safe return to shore, then? From the looks of you, I'd wager aye."

"Perhaps, if you knew who to ask, which of course you don't. In any event you'd never live to spend it."

"Do not invoke my wrath."

The sorcerer smiled. "We're far out over a deep sea, Captain. There are worse things hereabouts than you and your men for one to fear; yet I do not fear them. What do you glean from that?"

"That you're a fool in need of a—" The pirate Captain froze in place, eyes fixed and widening.

The deep ocean contains very old horrors, things of immense bulk and appetite. Such a creature — easily as big as either ship — was approaching from astern, driving ahead of its massive head a great white churning bow-wave.

"You have suffered a misfortune, Captain. You have raided the wrong ship. It is an easy mistake to correct: leave your spoils where they are and go."

Some of the pirates turned to follow their Captain's gaze, spied the approaching creature, and a murmur of panic rose from within their ranks. They began inching towards the planks that joined their deck to Mellesdane's. When the creature let sound a terrifying noise, that motion exploded into a frenzied scramble.

The pirate Captain was not far behind. Soon their planks were withdrawn and their sails set and they were pulling away. They picked up speed as the monster approached, barely staying ahead of it as they headed for the horizon.

"Was it real?" Mellesdane's Captain asked, at the sorcerer's elbow.


"The beast! I have seen you conjure illusions to delight an audience and I have seen you call down sparrows to carry a message, My Lord. Which!?"

The sorcerer grinned.