Zombie Drabble #443 “Grounded”

“Mom.” She knocked again, softly, tried the knob again. Her voice was raspy, weak. “Let me out, Mom.”

Her mother leaned against the wall outside, eyes closed, exhausted. “I can’t, honey. Not yet. Just… not yet.”

LET ME OUT!” The knocking turned to banging, the pleading to yelling, then  screaming, then muffled sobbing.

“I love you. I can’t let you out.” Her mother sat, back to the wall, head in hands. “Not yet. Not until we’re sure you’re ok. I’ll make it up to you, I swear. I swear.”

The next morning, the knocking resumed, but slowly, accompanied by moaning.

Zombie Drabble #442 “Gauntlet”

At the other end of the hallway was the entrance to Shankton, a town entirely enclosed in an old brick factory complex. At his end, Frankie’s end, there was Frankie. In between about twenty-five zombies hung by the neck, feet just off the floor, beginning to sway back and forth from their weight shifting as they grasped in vain at him.

“I’ve gotta get through?”

“If you want in, yeah. We don’t want nobody who can’t deal,” a hidden voice called out. “Sorry, that’s the rules.”

People were getting worse; it hadn’t taken long. “Is there, like, a time limit?”

SF Drabble #480 “Not Just A Heist”

“And then what?”

The old man glanced at Candace, who shook her head and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose before speaking. “And then? And then you pick up the artifact, and you press the button again.”

“And that’s going to work?”

“Of course.”

“How do you know?”

“Because it’s worked every other time.” She exclaimed, exasperated. “Well, except for twice.”


“You’ve done this before.” The old man said, calmly. “Twenty-seven times, by my count. I told you before, the artifact has temporal attributes. It’s the next part we haven’t gotten to work yet. Destroying it.”

SF Drabble #479 “Not Staying”

Six checkpoints, not including the gatehouse coming in from the road. Biometric scanners at most, retina, thumbprint, show the chipped badge, what’s the code word for today. At all of them, two men with guns.

Past all that, the tall, disturbingly thin alien was playing checkers with one of the interns; most of the scientists have gotten sick of losing, and the army officers can’t be bothered. “Hello, Greg.”

“How are you today, Kathlogroh?”

“Healing. Not so sick now.”


“Want to start working on ship. Any news?”

They’re not going to let you out of here, buddy. “Not yet.”

Zombie Drabble #441 “Smol Bean”

There were three of them, hissing and moaning and scratching at the windows of one particular car out of a Monday morning traffic jam’s worth of cars. “Somebody in there.”

Ritchie pushed back his cap. “Yep.”

They picked the zombies off, then — slowly, carefully — approached the car.

“C’mon out.” There was no response, no movement. Ritchie motioned him to go around the other side. “C’mon out of the car, it’s safe now.”

A head appeared, a little boy, maybe five. He peered at them, then knocked on the car window.

Ritchie shook his head, “I ain’t takin’ no fuckin’ kid.”

Indistinguishable From Magic

There were dozens of them clustered around Rebbo, none taller than midway up the massive engineer’s shinbone. Shinbones? Mays had the camera zoomed in and focused so he could at least try to read Rebbo’s body language; out the actual window he could see more of the tiny aliens coming from the mostly mud-brick village downslope near the river.

“He making any headway? You’re listening in, right?”

ELLE’s voice came from either side of the flight control panels, and from his dangling earpiece, and from speakers set into the shoulders of his Captain’s chair. “I am listening. I can’t tell if he’s making any headway.”

He pressed the comms button. “You making any headway?”

Mixed in with a chorus of alien chatter: “What is ‘headway’?

“Do you understand what they’re saying?”

Rebbo gestured to the aliens to quiet down, and when that failed, he put his helmet back on. “They are speaking a pidgin version of an archaic Wholmet trade koine. That suggests it has been a considerable time since a ship has landed here.”

“Maybe pre-Company?”

Almost certainly.

“Do they want to sell the ore?”

“I am having a difficult time describing what it is we want to buy. The Boolbul do no mining; all their metal is recycled. There is a machine that melts down broken or worn-out tools and reforms them to whatever specifications they—”

“A machine? A Wholmet machine?”

I would assume so. I have asked to see it. They have agreed on the condition that in return we allow them to tour the ship.”

“What, all of them?”

ELLE interjected. “A working Wholmet machine of any kind would be on an order more valuable than either our current cargo or the ore we were sent to trade—”

“Well no shit.”

“—for. Any reasonable offer on credit, made by us as their agents, would be honored by the Company.”

Mays threw up his hands in exasperation. “But they’d take the machine, ELLE, the Company. We wouldn’t get the profits.”

“There would be a sizable reward bounty.”


Stand by.” Rebbo clicked off to converse with the Boolbul crowd. Suddenly, mid-gesture, they began backing away: some rushed to pick up spears they had earlier dropped on the ground; others continued towards the village, waving their arms as they went. Rebbo was already sprinting back towards the ship. “Their opening position is that it is not for sale.”