A Close-Run Thing

The Sorcerer limped from the mouth of the cave, tearing fabric from his robe to wrap around his wounded arm. “Minthray! Minthray!”

“Here, my Lord.”

“Bring the horses. And water.”

“The beast, is it—”

“Finished. Go.” He sat down in the dust, sighed, coughed, and was thinking seriously about laying down when he heard a noise behind him. He twisted, hands at the ready, and saw her: a little girl, hair tied up in colorful ribbon, dressed as if for Temple. “You’re dead.”

“I am. You’ve won. But I have a question.”

The hair stood up on the back of his neck, and his shaking hands held their place, but he answered conversationally: “Ask away.”

“You could have taken my offer, and had great wealth, and even more power than you already possess. Which is clearly substantial. Instead you fought.” Her head cocked to one side with a sickening cracking and grinding of bone. “Why?”

“You would have killed everyone in the town.”

“What do you care? You’re more like me than them.”

“You’re dead; I’m not.”

“True.” She slumped, and her body was already bleached bones when it hit the ground.

Minthray returned to find him vomiting and laughing.

Zombie Drabble #436: “The Socials”

“Remember Twitter?”

“What? Yeah.” He ran a hand over his eyes, his mouth, through his hair. He rolled over to face her, squinting at the firelight. “Waste of time.”

“You were following the wrong people. I told you that, like, three times. You followed people who were good at other things. You should have followed people who were good at Twitter.”

“What on Earth does it matter now?”

She sighed. “It doesn’t, I guess. I just…”

“What?”

“I almost broke up with you over that. I thought, ‘he can’t figure Twitter out, really?’. I figured we didn’t have a future.”

SF Drabble #469: “Don’t Wait Up”

He stood at the end of the metal grate walkway, facing the Arc. “Testing.”

“Coming through loud and clear. Radiation acceptable. Getting some ionization, but nothing we didn’t predict.”

I’m going closer in now.” With each step he felt slightly heavier. “Getting some gravitational effects.”

“Your mass is increasing. Shouldn’t get too much worse closer in: inverse-square law.”

The Arc spun so fast he couldn’t see it; the space-time tear created by the spinning Arc filled his visor. He reached out his hand, fingertips almost touching the anomaly. “I’m going to try going through.”

“I love you.”

“Love you too.”

The Burning Men

“You’ve gotta wonder—”

“Yeah.”

“I mean, you’ve gotta wonder if—”

“I’m saying yeah.” The old man killed his drink, looked around, shook his head. “One of these ‘capes’, just one, drop ‘em in the middle of a city, tell ‘em to kill as many as they can, boy, that’s it.”

“But what can you do? I mean, they—”

“There’s things.”

“Like what?”

Things.”

“Yeah, fine, but what if… things turns out to be worse? What if things gets out of control? We trade fireman for fire…”

The old man turned, grinned, a toothy awful horror of a smile. “We burn.”

Zombie Drabble #435: “The New Guy In Town”

crack.

One of the distant figures went limp, mid-stride, and fell hard to the ground. He didn’t look up from the scope. “What’s my count?”

“Twenty-two.”

Someone whistled. “Two more and you’re tied with Hank.”

He chambered another round. “Who the fuck is Hank?”

“Old deputy Mayor. Lost him on a run two years ago. Good guy, always—”

crack.

Another figure spun in place, dropped to lie motionless. “Twenty-three”

“Anyway, Hank: he was always making sure the kids had sweets. You know, candy, stuff the other guys wouldn’t bother with.”

“Kids? What kids?”

A long silence followed.

crack.

“Twenty-four. Tied.”

The Umbrella Man

He’s in the crowd somewhere, beside the lady with the grocery bags, behind the two middle-school girls sharing a pair of earbuds, a few steps ahead of George from down the street walking his dog. He ducks around lampposts and between parked cars where the sidewalk is blocked, never motionless, never breaking his stride. His progress through the city is relentless.

You ignore him, because deep down, you know he’s going to someone else’s office, or home, or table at the coffee shop. He’s coming for them, not you. You wouldn’t see him coming, if he was coming for you.

SF Drabble 468 “Incomplete Pass”

The capsule tumbled away in excruciating slow-motion, engine bell over nosecone, shrinking against the blue and green and white and brown of the planet below.

“Ross?

“Copy.”

She sighed. “I missed.”

What?” A pause stretched out into a lull, into a quietly hissing eternity. Then: “Okay… Okay: FERN says not to panic. We can intercept in less than an hour, if we don’t wait for the window.”

“How much fuel does that leave you?”

Another long pause followed. “FERN says not to worry about it.”

“Patch her into comms.”

She says not to worry. And she’s a computer. So relax.”

Zombie Drabble #434 “Never Goes Out Of Fashion”

“Somebody help!”

Someone was in the hall, the hall outside the apartment, running back and forth, knocking on doors, yelling: a girl, young, panicked, desperate. He listened from the floor of his front closet between ski boots and suitcase-with-wheels.

“Please somebody! Help me!”

There was the old wooden bat, the one with A-Rod’s signature burned into it by a machine, the one his dad had given him when he turned ten, a million years ago in a world that still made sense. He grabbed it, clutched it in both hands.

He white-knuckled it as he listened to her being eaten.