“Take the office job. Nothing exciting there.”

With my attention focused on the main screens, my eyes glued to the free plasma levels, I barely heard the door to the command deck slide open. Indeed, I might not have heard it, even if I hadn’t been distracted. Chief Engineer Hansen had just been through last week with a can of atomized graphite, complaining about “the infernal squeaking every time it opens.”

Instead, I kept every bit of attention focused on the screens, watching the readouts. All I had to do was make sure I didn’t miss seeing- Continue reading

The Kiddie Pool

Standing there, the too-tight floaties nearly cutting off circulation around my upper arms, I had only one thought running through my head.

Parenthood makes you do crazy, ridiculous things.

I glanced back over my shoulder, turning to look at Brandon. The flippers on my feet meant that I had to do a stupid, ridiculous little penguin-shuffle to rotate, and I knew that, if any of my office buddies could see me right now, they’d be laughing their asses off. I’d be the butt of all the water cooler jokes for weeks.

“Now, you’re still convinced that the pool’s too deep and scary,” I said again to Brandon, hoping that maybe the six-year-old’s mercurial mind had changed since the last time I asked him, five minutes earlier. Continue reading

A Moment’s Glance…

Vivienne

And of course the rain hadn’t let up, Vivi groaned as she peeked out through the window of the taxi. If anything, it had become heavier, sheets of water dropping out of the sky. The whole world looked cloaked in blue, dripping like a whirling dervish got loose in a paint factory.

The taxi driver, perhaps sensing his client’s hesitance, turned to drape one hand back over the passenger seat. He frowned at her over his shoulder, his bushy black mustache twitching irritably on his face.

“Is the Metro Bank, yes?” he huffed. “Problem?” Continue reading

Regulate

Author’s note: Dark America will return with the next update! ┬áThis is a brief one-shot inspired by a late-night idea.

Walking past the tavern, I caught sight of a familiar shape inside. Frowning, I pushed open the door, blinking as I tried to adjust to the interior’s dimness.

“Wrynn?” I asked, moving over towards the grizzled man sitting heavily at the bar, scarred knuckles wrapped around his flagon. “What are you doing in here?”

He turned a single eye to fix me, and I felt my spine snap towards attention without any conscious input. Wrynn was the oldest man in the village, and the oldest Gifted that I’d ever met. Others were older, of course – ones like Glass Alice had their own legends built up – but Wrynn was the oldest that I’d actually met.

“What d’you think I’m doing in here?” the old man grunted at me, tightening his shoulders slightly. “Drinking. Trying to get some damn peace and quiet.” Continue reading

Dark America, Part II

Continued from Part I, here.

I frowned at Corinne. Somehow, I’d expected her to be more bothered by the idea of practically committing treason by stealing a boat and going against direct orders.

“But there aren’t any direct orders,” she pointed out, in far too logical of a tone for me. “If anything, you’re just taking initiative to discover what’s going on.”

“By stealing a boat,” I repeated slowly, in case she’d missed that part. Continue reading

Dark America, Part I

“What do you mean, it’s empty?”

I winced at the tone that Jaspers used as he rounded on the poor technician, rising up on his tiptoes to intimidate with every one of his sixty-four inches of height. A guy that short shouldn’t be able to loom so well, but Jaspers managed it, bearing down on the bespectacled nerd.

“I mean, it’s empty,” the nerd repeated, one hand creeping up to adjust the glasses. I noticed that they now had a few specks of mist on them – Jaspers’ spittle, most likely. “We sent in drones, did a sweep of everything, and we didn’t see a single person.”

“But how?” I interjected, stepping forward. I tried to keep my tone calmer, defuse some of the tension hanging in the air. “New York had what, a million people in it?” Continue reading

Four Out of Five Dentists Agree…

I looked in mounting horror around the room as, over cooling cups of coffee and slightly stale donuts, my colleagues seemed poised on the brink of chaos.

“Come on, doctors, we can’t be serious about this,” I said, still trying to cling to the faint belief that it was all just a joke, some sort of elaborate prank show attempting to pull the wool over my eyes. “There’s no way that we can recommend this.”

The guy sitting closest to me, a short, balding, pudgy fellow whose name I couldn’t quite recall, turned to me and rolled his eyes. “Dr. Stanley, let’s just get this over with so we can all go home,” he sighed. “We’ve got other things that we want to do with the rest of our day, you know.” Continue reading

The Cheating Network, Part II

Continued from here.

Twelve hours later, I sat in some greasy little no-name diner, my mouth full of hash browns as I stared, transfixed, at the screen of my phone in front of me.

With Derek passed out in the living room, it hadn’t been hard to figure out how to invite myself to join the closed forum. Just for good measure, I went ahead after confirming that the invite worked and deleted Derek’s own membership. The thought still brought a savage little grin to my face. Let’s see how well he survives without his cheating network.

Asshole. Continue reading

The Cheating Network, Part I

He was drunk; I knew that immediately, from the moment he walked through the front door of our apartment. His footsteps were uneven; he slammed the door too hard, cursed a little too loudly as it rebounded off the frame.

“Honey! I’m back!” he called out, as if I couldn’t hear him.

I stepped out from the kitchen, eyed him up and down. It wasn’t the right time for me to tell him how I really felt, about the half-packed suitcase stowed away at the back of my closet where he’d never find it. Instead, I settled for just raising one eyebrow.

“Fun party?” I asked. Continue reading

The Black Riders

Honcho trotted along beneath me, the tap of his hooves echoing off the walls of the buildings on either side of me. The sound echoed, alone, in the still air of late afternoon.

I frowned, turning in my saddle to peer first left, then right. Where were all the people? Dry Creek was never going to be anything more than a small town, a stop for soldiers headed out towards the Southwest border, but it still felt alive and bustling compared to my home out on the ranch.

I thought back to the last time I’d visited, several months ago. There’d been some big fuss about a big-name bandit being caught, about to go up on the gallows. I wouldn’t have minded seeing that, but I had to get back to the farm, soon as I picked up the supplies for my da. Continue reading