Faustian Return Policy

“Listen, this isn’t working out.”

It hadn’t been that long; I remembered his raspy voice. I picked up another crate and put it onto the stack. It hadn’t even been a year; he was early. “Not sure what you mean.”

“Most people, they ask for things for themselves. When you…” he trailed off, shrugged. “I guess I thought I just didn’t get your angle. But there wasn’t an angle. Was there?”

“Still not sure—”

“You’re just helping people. Selflessly. This hasn’t ever happened before.” He nervously stuck a cigarette in his mouth, flipped open a jet-black zippo and lit it. He took a long drag, holding in the smoke, savoring it, before speaking again. “It’s a problem, Ernest. Conceptually.”

“You gave me what I asked for, I’m prepared to give you what you asked for. When it’s time. It’s not time yet.” I hoisted another crate onto the pallet, and reached for the hand jack.

“You don’t get it. The deal is supposed to bring out corruption that’s already there. You make the deal, it means you deserve it. But this is… I can’t have your soul down there.” He flicked his cigarette at the ground. “Stinking up the place.”

That Magic Moment


Waning hours of daylight, last day there, we held hands and walked down to the lake; one more time amongst the frogs and crickets and fireflies, one more time with the creaky planks of the dock under our bare feet, one more time waiting for perfect darkness to fold over us, holding us immobile until our pupils adjusted.

“I love you so much more than when we got here.” She said it into the crook of my neck, muffled, content. “This has been perfect. Let’s come back next year. All right? Please?”

She doesn’t know I’ve bought the place, yet.

Zombie Drabble #440 “Human Resources”


“Sit down.”

He could hear the groaning, the scratching,  from somewhere in the darkness. “Listen—”

“You’re going to sit down, and you’re going to answer some questions. If we like your answers, we let you in, and you get to live. If we don’t like the answers, we don’t let you in, and you go back to taking your chances on the outside.”

“The zombies, what are—”

“If we think you’re lying,” there was a pause, a rattling of chains, the clink of a metal key being tapped on metal bars, “Even once, even a little, we open these cages.”

Flurry Of Blows

The ghost was in the doorway, again, staring at him, again. “Go away.”

She floated in, along the wall with the bookcases, a spectral fingertip stretched out to pass through the book-spines like a stick clattering down a row of fence-posts. She turned the corner, kept following the wall. She kept her eyes on him, always.

“There’s nothing for you here. Perhaps the kitchen.” If she were to find the hammer that killed her, she would find she could touch it, lift it, and then she would come for him. “Or, perhaps the stables.”

She was behind him.

“Or, try—”

SF Drabble #478 “Now Hiring”

She was sitting outside the Post on Bologomo, counting scrip while some yokel and his hired help loaded crates onto a sliplifter. She looked like she knew her way around; I asked where there was a pilot’s bar.

“You a pilot?”

“I’m a pilot’s bar aficionado. Love the ambience. Never flown so much as a kite.”

She didn’t bother asking if I was kidding; professionals can smell professionals. “I’m headed that way. You looking for work or just liquor? Or maybe tail?”

“Do I have to decide now?”

Been working for her three years now. We only banged the once.

SF Drabble #477 “Rent Controlled”

She ran as fast as she could in bare feet, having left her heels somewhere around tenth street, between the deli and the laundromat. Further back, the world was ending.

She never watched monster movies as a child; too easily scared. Her brother, her older brother, he would watch them, and mother would say, ‘look for the zipper!’ to remind him that it was just pretend. But she could never find the zipper, not peering around from behind the laz-y-boy. She could never find the zipper, so it stayed real.

The monster was dropping buildings all over downtown. Real enough.

SF Drabble #476 “Multiplicity”

“How many of you are there now?”

Another one had just shown up: short hair, no beard, one of the tattoos but not both, scar on the hand but not the face. “Eight. Well, plus me, the original me. Nine.” George touched the voltmeter to a terminal, scowled. “Dammit.”

“Any luck?”

“Nope. Thing’s shorted all to hell.”

“So they’re just going to keep showing up?”

“It sent the ‘open’ request, but then crapped out before it could send the ‘closed’. Every me in the multiverse will eventually end up—” George Ten burst into existence on the platform. He sighed. “—here.”