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

Planet-Hop from Trappist-1e!

“Jerry, how’s this one look?”

I glanced over at the poster held in the receptionist’s hands, trying to smooth out the frowning creases in my face that threatened to become permanent. “Actually, that one’s not so bad,” I said after a minute’s reflection. “Very retro.”

The receptionist nodded, biting her lip as she looked down at it. “Our windows aren’t that big, though,” she pointed out.

I didn’t need a mirror to know that the twitch was back in my jaw. “Maybe they’re kids looking out the window, so they’re smaller. Whatever. It’s just an ad, Sherry.” Continue reading

The Forbidden Pages, Part II

Continued from Part I, here.

I stared at the faint, gauzy, illusory face floating in the air in front of me. I should have been scared, but astonishment pushed all other emotions aside for the moment.

“No way,” I gasped out, my words barely a whisper.

The face grew, sliding right out of the wall, moving through it as if it was no more solid than smoke. It grew into a small figure, with glowing strands of long brown hair cascading down over her shoulders, spilling over the short sleeves of a white dress, with a thick red ribbon tied around her waist. She floated out, a foot or two above the ground, out until her bare feet finally drifted clear of the wall. Continue reading

The Forbidden Pages, Part I

I crept down the stairs of the old house, wincing every time the old boards creaked beneath my tread. My uncle was fast asleep, but I knew that he didn’t sleep heavily. What if he heard the noise and woke up?

Finally, after what felt like ages of moving with excruciating slowness, I reached the bottom of the stairs. I slipped a hand into the pocket of my pajama bottoms, curled my fingers around the brass key that lay inside.

The door to the library, seven feet tall, loomed in front of me. I looked up at it with trepidation, wondering how much trouble I risked getting myself into. After all, my uncle never failed to remind me, on each visit to his house, that the library was off limits. He kept it locked for a reason, he insisted, even if he never divulged that reason to me. Continue reading

Out of my league…

With apologies to Terry Pratchett.

I slammed down the empty beer glass, staring morosely at the suds sliding down its sides. “It’s no use,” I said aloud. “I love her, mate. For strewth.”

“Strewth,” echoed Davey, off to my side. “Trev, it can’t work, though. She’s in a whole other league, you know? She cheers for Dolly Sisters, an’ we’re born Dimwell fans. Hell, you know what they’d do to her if they saw someone like ‘er in our place, wearing those colors?”

“‘Course I do,” I snapped back at him. “But what am I supposed to do ’bout it? I love her, Davey. You don’t know what it’s like!” Continue reading