What Was Before Now

There is the beach, and there is the ocean, and there is the sky. Shards of broken boat litter the beach and the ocean, but there are none in the sky, none that she can see. Presumably it was her boat, the boat that deposited her here, but she doesn’t remember anything about it.

The future, that she can see. She sees the float plane that is to come, the yet-unfired signal flare, she sees the pilot and the wave of his gloved hand. She knows what she will say and how much of it he will believe. There is a gun under the seat, but she won’t discover that until later, sometime tomorrow, long after she realizes she can fly the plane without him.

It will be a three hundred and seven mile trip — most of it alone — to the weather station, where the radio is, where civilization can be reached. The radio operator will have been the pilot’s wife, and she will feel a momentary pang of guilt and regret in the face of the woman’s panic.

This will all be prelude.

The next part, the important part, she won’t be allowed to see until it’s much closer.

The Next New Amsterdam Vampires

It’s me, and Rocky, sometimes, and Willa. Still no Coral, still no Wen. Rocky would leave if Coral came back, probably, not that he’s said that explicitly. Willa’s young, or was young. Rocky made her. She approached him, wooed him, pitched herself as a candidate. She practically opened her own veins and pulled him by the hair to drink.

She’s fine. I don’t mind Willa. Terrible taste in music, but who gives a shit. She drags us to clubs and goes after blondes, always blondes: Rocky is her sugar daddy and they’re looking for a three-way. It’s a strong play, and usually pays off for them. I do what I’ve always done.

We have a house, this time, bought with pooled money as a fixer-upper. It’s comfortable now, though by design still non-descript. Rocky’s converted the basement into a bachelor pad and Willa’s room is a pink-and-white daydream festooned with LED string lights. Late mornings, I check on both of them, the way Coral used to.

Rocky is still asleep, and alone. Willa is up, earbuds in, dancing around in her skivvies, folding laundry. There’s a girl in her bed. “She going to be a problem?” I am channeling Coral, who was probably channeling her own maker, whoever that had been.

Willa pulls one earbud, squints, asks, “Huh?”

“The girl. Problem?”

“Nope. No problem. She’s for me.”

“Sure, but…” I pull the door shut behind me, take a step in. Willa nonchalantly stays between me and the bed. “Are you… is she alive?

Willa grins. I know this grin from other situations. It’s puckish. “She’s Schrodinger’s co-ed.”

“She’s a college student?”

“Not anymore.”


“I told you. She’s mine.” She takes out the other earbud, crosses her arms. “I’m sick of just having two old dudes to talk to. I like her. She’s staying.”

Meaning Willa has made her. Meaning she’s turning, even now, lying in the bed. “I wish you’d consulted—”

“Did Rocky ask you for permission before turning me?”

“No, and that was a problem, just like this is.”

“I am not a problem.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“O.K., dad.” Behind her, a momentary stirring: a weak groan, a form contracting into a fetal position, a heavy sigh.

“Does she have a name?” Do you know her name? How much consideration did you give this?


“You realize she’s your responsibility.”

An eyeroll. “Yeah.”

“You have to teach her. You have to… you barely know what you’re doing yourself.”

“Rocky will help.”

Speaking of Rocky; he’s behind me. “Hey, somebody’s at the front door.”

Willa glances out the window, sees a beat-up Toyota at the curb. “Oh, that’s her boyfriend.”

“Her b—”

Willa grabs a pair of pants. “I’ll get rid of him.”

Emma sits up with a start. “What… ” We all turn to look at her. “What’s going on? Will?”

Willa starts to answer, but realizes my hand is around her throat.

“Listen up, everybody.” I never understood Coral. Not really. “Here’s some new rules.”

Zombie Drabble #438 “Crow’s Nest”

“See anything?”

“Lights,” Mabel said, calling down in a stage whisper, “to the Northwest, maybe two miles. Looks like a school.” She had the binoculars, and was small and limber enough to climb up cell repeaters and water towers and utility poles to get a view of the way ahead. At dusk, she looked for lights.

“Come down.”

When she was back on the ground, she said, “Doesn’t look like a solar roof. Maybe they’ve got a generator? Lots of cars in the parking lot to syphon gas. Couldn’t see how many people…”

“We’ll go around. Too dangerous.”

She nodded.

SF Drabble #475 “Bullet Time”

“Twelve minutes.” He’d been obsessively checking his watch all day. Somewhere, over the horizon, and then some distance further out into space, was a rock the size of Key West, tumbling towards Earth.

“Okay, but twelve minutes until it hits the atmosphere, or twelve minutes until it hits? The guy on t.v. didn’t really give a straight—”

“Atmosphere. But I don’t think it’ll be long after that.” He looked at his watch again. Then, suddenly, compulsively, he stripped it from his wrist and threw it as hard as he could, off into the grass.

“Feel better?”

He sighed. “Not really.”

SF Drabble #474 “Pathogen”

“How far did we go this time?”

He tapped the readout, and the spinning dial came to rest. “2203. March 7th, 2203.”

Most of the buildings were the same as in 2160, at least the ones they could see through the window. But where there’d been swarms of personal air traffic there was only empty sky. “Maybe they went back to ground transpo…” The streets were likewise empty. “Weird.”

Down at street level they found the posters. “REPORT TO DISTRICT CLEARING STATION FOR INOCULATION OR FACE ARREST.” It took almost an hour of walking around before they started finding bones.

SF Drabble #473 “Formula ∞”

It’s a race. No… it’s the race. You want to be a rockstar, out here, where music is a curiosity? You gotta win the race. Or at least, be in the running until the end, or almost the end. I’m the first human to enter, the first ever. My ship is of Yourian make, but nobody cares about that. It’s assumed that the pilots have made extensive personal modifications, and I have.

I think I’ll come at least third. In the money, as they say. Polixaci credits, a fortune by human standards. Richer than old Gates, for twelve minutes’ work.

SF Drabble #472 “Negotiations”

Carl, we need you to turn the fuel generators back on. The packet ship is only three weeks away, and you’re already into shortfall territory. Turn ‘em on, do it now. It’s important. It’s why you’re there.”

He pushed the ‘send’ button. “I was supposed to be relieved eight months ago. I have a contract. You guys can’t give me a pickup date? No generators.” He released the button.

One hour and seventeen minutes later: “Carl, you’ll be relieved at the next possible opportunity. We’re working on it. Now… please. Turn ‘em on.”

He mashed the button down angrily. “Nuts.”