The beer stood on the dining room table—far removed from the living room couch—but Earl tried to reach for it anyway.
“Come on…” he said, straining his psyche, leaning on his walker for support.
The beer can didn’t move.
“I’m gettin’ too old for this crap,” Earl muttered, returning to reruns of Fringe.
For seventy years, Earl had been trying. On pizza boxes, hamburgers, phones.
It just wasn’t going to happen.
Dryness tickled his throat again, and he turned back beerward, reaching.
Aluminum hurtled through the air toward his hand.
The coroner said it was a heart attack.
Author’s Note: Come on. Admit it. You’ve tried it. We all have. But what if it suddenly worked?
The star was born far enough away that there was no chance it would ever be seen by human eyes. A slowly coalescing ball of gas at the heart of a distant nebula. It was just a baby, in star terms, when the girl in Birmingham reached out to it with her mind and captured its celestial affections. A flash like a sunburst. Bonding. All the aching, burning love that ignites the great lights of the universe. But she was gone in a twinkle of star-time and the newborn star cooled, dimmed, grieving. Inconsolable, it wept for a billion years.
Author’s Note: I have a thing for impossible, timeless and unrequited love.
Jeremiah holds the cat while Ethan pries her gently from its jaws. He shakes his head as he notes the extent of the damage. Her wings are badly shredded and her neck is swollen where she’s been bit.
When finally her eyes open, Ethan is nearly overcome with relief. Even injured, live fey catch a far greater price than dead.
“So close.” Her voice is the growl of a cornered beast. “You were almost the Fey King’s slave.”
“Almost.” He lowers her into a cage. “Get the cart, Jeremiah. We’re going to market.”
He scratches the cat’s chin. “Good kitty.”
Author’s Note: Is Ethan terrible for wanting to sell the fey or is the fey terrible for wanting to turn Ethan into a slave? Who’s in the right in this case? My money’s on the cat.
Under the streetlight the pale hand glittered as the man held it out to the girl. She gave a wide eyed gasp and asked, “Are you a vampire?”
“I am,” he said. “And I’ve been looking for someone like you.”
“But what about…”
“She couldn’t satisfy me like I know you can. Will you help me?”
“Oh! Yes!” and the girl threw herself at the stranger.
As he walked off with the girl in tow, the vampire smirked at the others lurking in the shadows. He might look ridiculous covered in glitter paint, but it certainly paid off with dinner.
Author’s Note: I just wondered how vampires would react to the Twilight craze. If they were smart, they’d take advantage of it.
“Claire, I’m afraid you’re being pre-victed.”
“How? I still have four months left!”
“Your housing with us is contingent on painting. You haven’t produced since your interview.”
“I’ve told you! I’ve just got canvas block! It’ll clear up in no time—promise!”
“Not so much as a still life, Claire. Not even a celebrity collage.”
“But I want to make something meaningful.”
“Before you make something meaningful, Claire—you have to actually make something.”
“No. No buts. You have to leave. The Patron Project was not designed for artists who aren’t going to art.”
Author’s Note: I often dream of a magical world where art is government funded. And so long as artists actually art, they’re granted food and shelter.
She passes what used to be two beloved homes, now reduced to piles of hay and twigs. Outside a third house, still standing, everyone has gathered for a barbeque. The creature has been carved up and half-devoured by the time she arrives. Two children with greasy chins pass out warm gingerbread cookies.
Her host waves her over to the table. “Dig in!”
She pulls back her hood and hands him a basket of goodies.
What a satisfying end after all the trouble that beast had given her back at her grandmother’s. She grabs a plate.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
Author’s Note: Would the Three Little Pigs keep the contents of their cook pot all to themselves, or would they use the occasion to throw a party for the rest of the folkloric world? This story settles that debate once and for all.
The accident in the harbor should have been preventable. Meteorologists had been tracking the storm’s approach; everyone knew it would be bad. No one should have been heading out of the harbor at the last minute, especially in a Hobie Cat.
That was the problem with humans — there would always be thrill-seekers who thought warnings to be careful were meant as encouragement to be daring instead. DTH-04 looked at the corpses before it. Could it bring them back with chips to bridge the portions of the brain that had suffered hypoxia? Maybe that would fix the problem.
It would try.
Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of four (obviously) – see the drabble First Horseman for Erin’s Author’s Note.
Every prediction model yielded the same result: rainfall in the next year would be almost nonexistent, and crops would be poor.
Already, though, the colonists had settled in for a happy winter, with all their usual pursuits, which meant more mouths to feed with next year’s harvest — which meant malnutrition for all. The numbers did not lie.
If, however, there were fewer women to give birth, the colony would survive another year. Decision made, protocol FMN-03 adjusted the nutritional parameters for the kitchen in the women’s dorm. They could eat, drink, and be merry; there would be no children.
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of four (obviously) – see the drabble First Horseman for Erin’s Author’s Note.
The drone, a holdover from another time, decades past, zipped through the falling debris. Unlike humans, drones and robots didn’t move slower with age, one of their many advantages. Another was their remote memory backups; drones did not forget. Humans had forgotten the war, but for the drone, it was as real as the dust in the air.
Broken buildings meant enemy attack; it was time to engage.
The drone’s cameras created a panorama, marking targets. First to go would be the mech with the large black ball swinging from it, the one that had attacked the building. WAR-02 aimed.
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of four (obviously) – see the drabble First Horseman for Erin’s Author’s Note.
Lieutenant Bird and Commander Matheson had been exposed separately on Earth; coincidence and stray radiation had allowed the viruses to recombine into something new. The mutated virus spread rapidly on the space station; no one was immune. The med bot analyzed the outbreak, who had first shown symptoms, how quickly it passed from person to person.
PLG-01 cross-checked the antibody titers of the crew, but the disease had yet to run its course. The bot sealed access to the docking ports for the shuttles. It could not allow anyone to leave the station for help and risk infecting the Earth.
Author’s Note: I’ve been playing with the idea of Four Robots of the Apocalypse for a while, and I finally decided how to make them work. Robots and computer subroutines wouldn’t be malicious, just practical and literal. That’s pretty scary.