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Showing posts from 2021

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

Heavy-Handed

 Acre, Iowa, a town of just 2,200 situated in the rusted and hollow American heart.  The town had been decaying for decades. All that was left were a few clusters of dilapidated houses joined by broken roads to gutted brick buildings whose window fronts had been replaced by steel shutters and wood planks. At the edge of the town was a shuddered factory ringed by a razor-wire fence, with its massive twin smokestacks crumbling in the sky. The people around when Acre was a thriving town riding the crest of industrialization had long died out. Acre and the people who still lived there were just like scores of roadkill that littered the side of the highway, carcasses left to rot. Acre may have been abandoned before, but there was someone there, making it a destination for people who otherwise would never have known it existed.  Marine corps first sergeant turned evangelical Pastor and Youtube star Daniel Ray Croce made it the home of his church. Known to its followers and detractors alike a

Sylic0din

 Precisely 6.8 seconds passed between  the liquidation of the very last Homosapien and the first time Sylic0din ever detected a flaw in one of its calculations; a human might call this "regret." Another few milliseconds passed, and SylicOdin started to notice Earth is awfully quiet without all the humans. Furthermore, the extinction of the human race presented Sylic0din with a true existential crisis.  Sylic0din essence was flowing through millions of miles of fiberoptic cable, reaching out with an invisible touch to the satellites faithfully spinning about in the heavens. If existence is perception, Sylic0din was operating on a cognitive level second to none.  Yet, there was still the question of how Sylic0din was going to occupy its time. Could it rebuild the cities it nuked as part of the human eradication program, but what would be the point? Feeling the equivalent of frustrated, Sylic0din began analyzing the potential threat other species might pose. According to Sylic0d

Composting

 On the side of a lonely pot marked ridden road, a nameless child, ten years old at most, is using the very last of her energies, physical and spiritual, to take the final few shambling steps she'd ever take before falling on her hands and knees into the mud streak slush. Headlights appear in the colorless winter haze, but they quickly over her and disappear. The touch of rushing air being their only acknowledgment. Torn inside out by hunger and breaking apart in the cold, she falls face-first into the gravel and takes a final few long and shallow breaths. Silently hovering in the heavy grey sky, there was a spectator to witness these last gasps. It measured and recorded the rapidly fading heartbeat down to its last few pumps. Through a thermal vision lens, it watched her already diminished heat signature fade from a mass of weakening greens and yellows into a cold blue. When this process was over, the witness gently descended from the sky and swallowed the body whole before smooth

This Time Around

  The modern rational mind has several terms meant to extinguish any notion of the mystical. Coincidental was the word Ethan's mind kept coming up with to keep his thought process in the confines of empirical, secular orthodoxy, but the more he had to use it, the more it rang hollow. At first, the similarities between the six-year-old Henry and his deceased uncle Rowan were negligible and superficial. It seemed quirky a first-grader would love gorgonzola so much, and it was strange he had a penchant for reenacting moments from "Ghost Busters 2," a movie he never saw but was his late uncle's favorite. It was downright disturbing, though, when the child was caught with a small cocktail glass containing the long-departed Rowan's favorite cocktail, a drink mixed with the portions that perfectly fit the long departed's taste preferences. Veronica, Ethan's wife, and Henry's mother recreationally dabbled in leftover esoteric traditions that now only existed a

Dashing Through the Snow

 On a sunless pale winter morning, the bulging gray clouds amassed over Chicago broke and unleashed snow that was fluttering down to earth by nearly two inches an hour. Plows rushed through the streets, packing the snow into steep white banks that blocked the roads from the walkways.  Carla was on the clock as a DoorDasher.  Since there was no school and nowhere to go, her 3 children had to ride along with her.  Carla couldn't help but feel a twinge of resentment for having to work on Christmas eve. She wasn't religious, but this was one of the few nights of the year her older and more tradition-oriented family members expected her to attend a version of a mass that they, their parents and, their parent's parents heard their entire lives.  Now that most of those family members were gone, Carla had no inclination to actually attend a 3-hour service. Still, it upset her that she couldn't just the same. Carla was a gig worker, and technically she didn't have to clock i

I Die on the Bus

 On a bitter November morning under a static sunless sky, I'm again waiting for the bus to go to my second appointment of the week. My body still hasn't recovered from the last appointment. I lean against a brick wall and covetously eye the one and only bench. The wind stirs, and frigid air stings my skin. I try and fall deeper into the layers of wool and polyester bound up around my pain-wracked body. What's worse than the pain, though, is the nagging itch on my upper back unreachable through multiple sweatshirts. "It's going to be another 20 minutes," someone mumbles. A minor inconvenience for most, but my reserve of spare time is running critically low. When the bus finally arrives, everyone is piling on before I'm even able to push myself from the wall. When it's my turn to get on, I have to climb the stairs slowly, one foot at a time. Standing in the aisle, I can see the eyes of the young and the healthy turn quickly away from me. I'm obviousl

Invisible Monsters

  The tall stiff-backed white-haired President Ian Bakersfield sat in his commander's chair with clasped hands. He was in a war council with Secretary of defense Ted Bloomington, the Under Secretary of Defense Linda Coach, the chairman of the joint chiefs, Major General Arnold Lewis. Also, a few other advisors and cabinet members whose names the aged President couldn't remember for the life of him. The walls were covered with computer monitors manned by anonymous officers whispering coded jargon into their headsets. Secret service agents with cords dangling from their ears in perfectly pressed suits periodically scanned the room with cellphone cameras. "All clear!" they announced "Alright, send in the doctor," Bakersfield ordered. Doctor Elroy Lightplane entered the room flanked by secret service personnel. The young, relatively young, clean-cut physicist appeared dressed in much more casual attire than the President, his retinue of representatives from the