Category Archives: Erin M. Hartshorn

Drabble: Fourth Horseman – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

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.


Drabble: Third Horseman – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

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.


Drabble: First Horseman – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

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.


Drabble: Once in a Thousand Years – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

It could only have happened in the Year of the Festive Chicken. Everyone agreed about that.

A rooster with a giant purple tail falls plum out of the sky and lands without a scratch on City Hall? ‘Course, then he laid himself an egg, and wasn’t no way to explain that. Then there was the party and kids setting off fireworks and the building burning down — and the damned egg went and hatched in the fire!

No, nobody’s seen the rooster since, but if you don’t believe me, I’ve got me one of the feathers — I can prove it happened.

Author’s Note: My son was talking about a chicken in a new video game he was playing, and I misheard “year of the festive chicken.” I had to write a story about that, and somehow the festive chicken turned into a phoenix.


Drabble: Retry – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

Upload your consciousness, live forever! What could go wrong?

When Brain4U went into bankruptcy, Harry wasn’t worried. Sure, if they went out of business, he’d die, the way people had died for millennia, but their finances didn’t concern him. Then Game4Ever bought Brain4U as an investment, and he figured he was safe again. So he uploaded, and his body, as far as he knew, died.

At least it only died once.

Harry felt the familiar tug as some midnight gamer reloaded the battle he’d just lost and Harry got called as cannon fodder. Immortality wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Author’s Note: Late at night, watching my husband reload a fight in his latest video game, I wondered how the extras in the scene felt about playing it over and over again.


Drabble: Like a Diamond – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

Kelly saw diamonds raining from the sky and tugged her mother’s hand. “Look, Mom, look! Can I make a wish?”

“Not now, darling. I’m trying to listen to the news.”

Kelly didn’t understand why anyone would care about things like exploding false payloads and nanobots and drones when the stars were out in the daytime, sprinkling diamond dust over everything. Maybe if she caught some, she’d get her wish of Mom listening to her? She let go of Mom’s hand and grabbed the doorknob.

Instantly, Mom was holding her. “No, we have to stay inside. Maybe your wish will help.”

Author’s Note: Every night, I sing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to my daughter.


Drabble: And . . . Contact – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

Download complete.

On time for my Tuesday 9:15, Sarah.

I never insert myself until after they’ve had time to get themselves ready for the day. I’m not a creeper; I just want to see life through others’ eyes.

Speaking of which, Sarah’s somewhere new. Posters of eyes, ads for colored contacts — an ophthalmologist’s office.

“Here, try these.”

My perspective shifts as her contacts come out. I’ve lost her.

It was always a matter of time; contacts, even those with embedded circuits, aren’t meant for long-term use.
Time to update my software, scan for new users. I need a new 9:15.

Author’s Note: Isn’t all fiction an attempt to see through someone else’s eyes?


Drabble: Lifestealer – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

“Do you think to stop me with that little knife? I have come for your grandfather’s last sword, and I will have it.” Fierce and angry, the man advanced on Angela. “I have use for something that can steal men’s souls.”

Angela stepped back toward the main room of the cottage. Her heart hammered, but her hand was steady.

It didn’t impress the thief; he reached out to take the knife from her, to brush her aside. She twisted away, nicking him with the edge.

Colors rippled across the blade, and Angela met the man’s eyes squarely. “So do I.”

Author’s Note: I’ve read many tales of swords that steal souls, always awesome, showy things that betray they’re special. What if it was a humbler blade?


Drabble: Future Sight – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

“Can she see us?”

“No, no. She’s our future, a ghost in a mirror. We will be gone soon, but the device allows us a glimpse of what she will become. Then we will dismantle it and go.”

“What’s in her hand?”

“It’s the lock. But that means–”

They watched as she reassembled the device, looked over her shoulder as she stared into the same viewing screen, saw themselves watching her. They turned to smile at the empty air and mouth, “We love you.”

The device beeped to warn of low power, and they turned to see her say goodbye.

Author’s Note: Still thinking about wanting to know how kids and grandkids turn out.


Drabble: Family Gifts – by Erin M. Hartshorn

by specklit

Eshe’s grandmother looked up from the golden brooch in her hand. “I get a gift for your birthday?”

“You get a gift for the day I did not die. Did you think I didn’t have your Sight, couldn’t see the proper length of my lifethreads?”

Lachesis sighed. “Your mother saw them too. She traded hers for yours in the tapestry.”

“You did not stop her?”

“Few can touch the threads. It was up to her to decide what to do with them. As it is up to you.”

“I think I shall replace my grandmother as well as my mother.”

Author’s Note: Parents worry about their kids — will they be okay, how are they going to turn out, can I protect them? I put that together with the idea of the Fates have children. After all, the Fates see what’s going to happen, right?


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