Doors Closing

Lumb blinked in, looked around, blinked out. Arnauld would be seconds behind him, less if it was young Arnauld, with young Arnauld’s reflexes and adrenaline production. Two blinks ago he’d seen a forest, daytime, probably morning from the dewy sheen on the leaves. Then a concrete corridor, lit by bare incandescent bulbs spaced too far apart. This last time, a beach at dusk, the sun low on the horizon, a low tide teasing the sand. Then…

A busy subway platform, just behind a pillar, just as the train arrived. Bingo. Lumb slipped into the throng and then the train, traded his hat for one lifted from an exiting passenger’s coat pocket, reversed his jacket from exterior-blue to liner-red.

Arnauld would know within seconds that he hadn’t blinked again, but by then Lumb would be one face in ten thousand, somewhere on the train or on the platform or hurrying up the steps onto the city street. He’d have to—


Arnauld sat behind him, holding a newspaper. Under the paper, there’d be a gun, and Arnauld’s Blinky, and a Bracelet slaved to the Blinky. “I’ve disabled yours, so don’t bother.” He handed the Bracelet forward.

“…I almost got away.”



“We do it here.”

He stared at her, waiting for something to occur to him, something to say, a way to convince her to change her mind; nothing came. Eventually, he answered, “We can go on a little ways, maybe to—”

“No.” She already had her backpack off her shoulders and resting on the crumbled brick. “We do it here. You want all the forty-five ammo, right?”

He watched her dig out two boxes of bullets; he hadn’t taken his pack off yet. “Kit…”

“I should have all the nine millimeter,” she continued, placing the ammunition boxes on a brick and ignoring his lack of answer, “and the smaller knife. All the food we can divide equally.”

He shrugged off his backpack and sat down, waited.

“Howard, we’re doing this. I’m sorry.” Kit shook her head, sighed. “No, I’m not sorry. We’re doing this here, now, while there’s still enough light left for us to get some distance between us before the sun goes down. And you’re not going to track me, you’re not going to play out some sort of fantasy where you follow me to keep me safe and leap out just in time to save the day. I don’t need that. I don’t want that. We’re done.”

He stared at the floor.

“We’re done. Do you understand? We’re—”


“Do you?”

“Yeah.” He wished away the panicky feeling roiling his stomach, the flush of heat around his ears, but they didn’t go. He breathed as normally as he could, an act of will. He fished a half-empty box of nine millimeter out of a side pocket. He managed, “You’re getting the short end on the ammo.”

“I don’t care. I’ll find more.” They exchanged boxes without their eyes meeting. “And the food? Matches?”

“You’ve already got half the matches. There were only the two books. And the food…” He peered into his backpack. “… I dunno. Take what you want.” He zipped it up, pushed it towards her with a shaky hand and then a foot.

“I won’t cheat you.” She said, as she started rummaging through his pack, as if he needed convincing.

“I trust you.”

She shook her head, made a sound of disgust that was a knife to the back of neck. “You shouldn’t trust anyone. There are terrible people out there—”

“That’s why you should stay with... why we should stay together. Just as partners, that’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that.”

“It’s done, Howard. I want you to walk away. I want you to walk away and not look back, because that’s what I’m going to do.” Kit finished stuffing cans into her bag, zipped it up, tossed it over her shoulder. “I really mean it. I don’t want to have to shoot you, Howard. I don’t want to; but I will.” She stepped through the breach in the wall and was gone.

She’ll do it, too. He waited, a long time, and then set out in the other direction.

Coming This Summer To A Theater Near You


The Producer blinked. “You have one minute.”

Bernie grinned. “Right. We install projectors in high-traffic areas, foot and vehicle both. You walk through a scene from the movie, you drive through. Or maybe something simpler, like the poster image. Wouldn’t be that hard for the boys to—”

“Liability issues?”

“How do you mean?”

The Producer scoffed. “You haven’t run it by the lawyers yet? Come on, Bernie. Some Flyover Queen in a Honda gets distracted, runs over two orphan kids and a nun? And their dog? We end up getting shellacked.”

Bernie nodded, let a beat pass. “But if the lawyers can shield us from that sort of liability? Wrap it all in a shell corporation or some sh—”

“Bernie, if nobody can sue us, I love it. If they can, and they do, and we have to settle, or if we lose? It’s coming out of your retirement.”

Manchester United

It was a filthy city, squalid and cramped, too thoroughly caked with soot to ever be washed clean by only the rain; but if the downpour ever did last long enough to do the job, the buildings would likely fall apart as the grime was all that held them together. This was the town into which I was birthed.

She was, on the other hand, to the manor most definitely born. The closest she likely came to hardship was waiting a bit too long for a servant to appear after the bell was rung.

And yet here we are, together.