…is called The War to End All Wars. It was just published a week ago at the website Ripples in Space, as part of their belated Fall 2020 issue. Read it here.
“We are unfashioned creatures, but half made up,
if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves—
such a friend ought to be—do not lend his aid to
perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.”
The candlelight shadows shivered at the sudden opening of the door behind her.
She caught her breath and readjusted herself—but didn’t get up from the chair. Two heartbeats later, she recognized who it was by the faint smell of rotting flesh beneath the perfume and alcohol and decided to stay still. If he was going to kill her there would be no stopping him, anyway.
Without preamble: “Who is Fritz?” the monstrous visitor demanded.
She had to sigh at that: “Who, indeed?”
The daemon circled into view, towering over her with the grave air of a parent about to tuck their child in for bed. Beneath his overcoat and breaches, he was wrapped from head to toe in soaked bandages of methanol and gin. And where bandages failed, so, too, had his yellow flesh—rather the sinews and blood-soaked innards underneath were quite visible.
But she did not avert her eyes. She did not scream.Continue reading “Friederike”
The Unholy Choice
“No. I won’t do it.”
Yes you will, I thought mechanically. None can resist God’s plan.
I countered, “Please. Church policy, school rules and common sense say otherwise. You’re just dragging this out…making this more difficult…”Continue reading “The Unholy Choice”
Checking It Twice
“Not in some distant Brave New World, but in the here and now, the government is assembling dossiers on American citizens, and then assigning them each their own Threat Assessment Color — red, yellow or green…”
–Matt Bivens, The Nation Magazine, March 11, 2003
6am XMAS 2045
Nathanial waited all morning for his mother to wake up. Most mornings he fed himself and dressed himself and went out alone to catch the bus; but this morning was different. It was his birthday. And it was Christmas. So he wanted to see if he’d gotten any presents. He could go after lunch and stay at school through 7pm in order to avoid demerits.
He brought his mother some coffee. He liked running the coffee machine. It made him feel older than five. He was always very careful to not put too much water in just like his mother had showed him. He put his winter gloves on so that his hands wouldn’t get burned when he poured and carried the cup.
Setting the cup down on the faux wood nightstand, he then climbed into bed next to her. He burrowed into her long black hair and joined her under the covers.
Each blanket had some holes, but between them all, she was well wrapped. Slipping his hand out from its glove, he reached over and felt the cold skin of her cheek. Even wrapped in blankets, her skin was always cool. She needed him for that. He was her little furnace. That’s what she called him. He loved to snuggle. When she was asleep he remembered every nice thing she had ever said to him. Continue reading “Checking It Twice”