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 Every day, more of the mall's parking lot fragmented into smaller pieces. The painted lines that marked the boundaries of dozens of parking spots faded away, and yellow heads of hundreds of dandelions were breaking through fissures growing across the asphalt plane.  I worked at a donut stand, the only remaining restaurant in the food court. We had one customer a day. The manager of the last store up on the second floor. He was the first and only person I'd see. I leaned on the counter the rest of the day and stared at the empty tables.  I shuffle down a hall where the light flickers and the heating pipes clatter and hiss. The bathroom was around the corner. My footsteps on the tile echoed between the shuttered stores where lonely mannequins watched from empty glass displays. All the stall doors, save one, are closed and locked. I sit in the stall, unconcerned that anyone else will knock, untroubled by worries about missing any customers at the counter. There are places just li
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Air Brushed

 "The United Peoples Headquarters, formerly known as the Grand Imperial Palace by its previous owners, was at the center of a dense urban maze sprawled out from the ancient citadel. The centuries-old walls and turret towers were occupied by guards equipped with modern submachine guns. The archway and iron gate were replaced by a steel one that slid on an electric rail.  In the south-facing wing of the palace was a former servants' kitchen that had been converted into a photo lab and office for the Supreme Executive's official photographer, Doctor Krutzov. Krutzov had been in the Supreme Executive's service long before the great leader had even thought the title up.  Krutzov had been in that photo lab for nearly 22 years. He had followed the godfathers of the national revolution into the temple of power. They fortified their position taking care not to repeat the mistakes of the regime they overthrew.  Krutzov had passed into old age inside the walls of the headquarters

A Few Final Moments

The artillery barrage came on like a storm. One shell exploding in the dirt was followed by a few more. Barely a moment had passed before the steel rain became a torrential downpour. Plumes of pulverized earth burst all around, accompanied by a ceaseless thunder. Once the air was saturated with smoke and dirt, the guns petered out. That's when the Corporal turned to us and shouted, "Go! Now!" I shook off the fear-born paralysis in my legs. The crowd of bearded old men and some boys who looked younger than me, pretending to be a unit, ran headlong into the thick shroud of smoke blanketing the field.  We were herded into a pit where men adorned with the grinning face of death wearing blood and dirt splattered uniforms were shouting at us to "be ready!" We jumped into the mass grave, and one of the black-clad troopers loomed over me.  "He's small," he said to his comrades as if I weren't there.  Finally, he acknowledged me directly. "You!&quo

Concubine

 Himari lay in bed on her side, staring at the barren wall with dry scarlet stained eyes resting her head on her small delicate hands. Her spent, and tired body was still as a statue. The royal child left her womb, and everyone followed it to the home of her masters, and he would be raised as one of them, and she would be nothing more than just another subject. This wasn't the only child Himari had given to her imperial lord, but the first boy hadn't lasted a week before dashing his father's hopes for a worthy progeny.  When she was with child, a stupid part of her started to forget how it would inevitably end. Once the golden boy left her womb, what happened to her wouldn't matter much after.  Even after enduring the pain of childbirth, she wouldn't be given the catharsis of cradling the fruits of her labor in her arms. That had been the hardest part the first time. Watching her baby get carried away was just the first shock, though. The little prince had clawed ou

The end is nigh!

The air raid sirens wail, but the tv says everything is fine. No one may be left to tell the entire story of how it all went down, but fragments of armageddon are here. A benefit concert is held at Soldier Field in Chicago as refugees surge against the city's blast walls as the starts debate about handing out guns or birth control. On the west coast, a sustainable city must covert its solar-powered food delivery drones into flying bombs. In DC, the company that developed an AI that launched a military coup via Twitter wants the Pentagon to pay up before fleeing the country. These stories and more about what you might expect when the clock strikes midnight...  Click here to get the Kindle edition!   

In the Blink of an Eye

 Until now, the gears of history had ground at such a slow pace our perception of it was like a puzzle. The constantly shifting pieces created an eternally changing picture inhabited and shaped by generations. Progress made it possible for the change to arrive in the form of a flash just a millionth of a second long with a blinding light and the pain of flesh-searing fire that burned away the world I knew as if it were covered in lighter fluid. For us, there were no blue skies. Daytime was just when the sun was shining bright enough to penetrate through the acrid black clouds that had consumed the sky and mingled with the distant glow of the burning horizon, painting the atmosphere with blood. For an indeterminate number of hours, maybe as long as a day, it was the only thing I saw. The constant screams became white noise; as I spiraled into death, my perceptions continued to dim until there was nothing left but fear and pain. Every hour the world became dimmer, and I saw everything t

Lemniscate

The convoy of 18 wheelers racing along the road were nestled between armored humvees. Painted across the black metallic doors in bold font colored a steel blue was the name Hawkwood. Gunners stood half emerged from their steel-plated, watching ahead with vigilant eyes tightly gripping the handles of their mounted .50 Cals. UAVs hovered silently overhead, stalking the ground below for any prey that might scurry into its panoramic field of vision. Every now and again, they passed an abandoned gas station or burnt-out house. LT Col Levinson, formerly of the marines, was the commanding officer of the convoy. His extensive military career was spent on the receding boundaries of a crumbling empire. Once retired from the military, he went to work for Hawkwood. It was similar work, with more than three times the pay and the added perk of being closer to home. His eyes were covered by a translucent visor attached to his helmet. He could view, in real-time, the flow of intelligence flowed int

Morbid Curiosity

 Muluk stared into shiny glass eyes in the four sockets of the two faced-wolf. The taxidermied beast stood on an altar. At nearly eye level with the mighty warlord, the lifeless animal's dual faces were perpetually contorted in a perpetual and silent growl brandishing rows of cerated teeth. Muluk's heart froze in his chest. Did it just growl? One can only speculate what Muluk Maratha's life might have been like had the world held itself together. However, the decay and devastation that had culled the world's human population so drastically had fostered an environment where Muluk absolutely flourished.  Intelligent, attractive, open-minded, and above all ruthless, Muluk had an intellect that matched his capacity for violence. It was why at just 24 years of age, he came to master the hearts of a growing multitude of people lost in the wreckage of a world that had died slowly and gruesomely.  Muluk was, by nature, a nomad and a conqueror. He was in perpetual motion. His ar