Saturday, November 11, 2017

Manhattan

South of central park, all of Manhattan is enclosed in glass, a carefully maintained habitable environment, spring 365 days a year. A glass roof is supported by the tops of smaller buildings and fills the gaps between taller ones. Cars are forbidden with the enclosure, as air pollution has nowhere to go, and much of the subway system is flooded. There is an electric bus service, bicycling is encouraged, and many streets have been converted to pedestrian only walkways and "open-air" markets.

Outside of the enclosure, things are dicier. The giant squatter cities of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Survivors focused on getting through the day, and preparing for increasingly difficult winters. Although they hate it, much of their economy is based on the Manhattan Enclosure, either in service positions or making hand-crafted goods to sell there on weekends.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

London

An airtanker arrives, every day, to dump white powder over the city. The drops focus on Hyde Park, ground zero for the infection. 25 tons of powder per day adds up, blowing about the city and piling into drifts. When it rains the mixture foams and bubbles, and bleaches the stone as it drains towards the Thames. The river is as dead as the city, but with the population of Great Britain dead or evacuated, no one complains. Nature has grown strong enough and weird enough to look after itself anyway.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Footsteps

Based on a prompt

“Did you hear that?”

“Something in cargo fell over maybe. Get back to work man, we’re almost done.”

“No, it sounded like it came from the hull.”

“So maybe we got winged by a micrometeorite. We’re almost done man, I want to get back to my pod.”

“…Okay, that time it definitely came from outside!”

“Yeah, I heard it, lets…”

“…”

“…”

“Are those…”

“…footsteps?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

Wendigo

Based on a prompt

We all wanted to serve so desperately. We were unfit, but given an option. This unit only takes volunteers, and your lame leg or poor vision won’t matter.

A wendigo has no body of its own. It needs a vessel. It needs a host.

The first host had been Smith. He’d been nervous, but eager. I think he was curious about how the officers would live up to their promise to make him strong. The next time I saw him was D-Day. He had his own landing craft, slightly ahead of the others. When the ramp dropped a long-limbed thing burst out, rushing up the beach, impossibly fast. It wrenched itself into a bunker and then there were screams and an explosion.

The second in line had been Martin. One of the officers showed him into the bunker. There was a lot of shouting, and we were all pulled away by the rest of the officers. I didn’t seem him again until Caen.

We were pinned down by machine guns, and the officers had brought forward an armored truck. Martin scrambled out as soon as they opened it, and this time I got a close look. Every part of him was emaciated except his belly. The skin on his limbs and head was drawn tight, outlining his bones, but his belly bulged. He appeared to have been gnawing on his wrists.

Then he rushed forward, leaping from the ground through a third story window. It sounded like he was bursting through the walls of the old houses, and we saw him pounce on one of the machine gun teams from behind. He killed at least thirty before a lucky hit from a Pak 38 cored him like an apple.

After that was Taylor, who tore the head from a tank commander, dove through the hatch headfirst and tore apart the crew inside. A Sherman had hit the tank seconds later, making mincemeat of him. Treblawny sprinted through a trench, killing as he ran, killing several dozen men before falling to sheer blood loss. Smith had dodged sniper fire until he got close enough to leap and knock the sniper from his tree, falling on top of him and burrowing into his chest with his fingernails. Smith had killed only two of the snipers who had ambushed us when he stepped on a landmine and lost his legs.

Now it was my turn. The officers took me to the chunks of bone and gristle that had been Smith. They reminded me, you wanted this, you volunteered for this.

I tore out a piece of his leg and began to chew.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Great War

Once there had been Kings. Men with shining armor, riding griffons and winged horses into battle. Birth right and divine right had been the sources of power.

Now magic is the source of power, and is power. Rule by those who can because they can and no one can stop them. Apprentices at the front lines, journeymen casting from the back, and masters ruling far from battle.

The wind shifts, there is movement along the enemy line, and they wait for the diviners to make the call.

“MEN!” and they grab their firearms and spring up to the parapet of their trench, firing on the shapes they see slogging through the mud. Thirty seconds of shooting, black silhouettes in gray fog coming closer, before fireballs begin to fall and the enemy withdraws.

“BEASTS!” and they grab their pikes and spring up to the parapet of their trench, thrusting the points forward to become a wall of spikes. Once beasts had meant manticores, hydras, and wyverns. Now they were the products of magically quickened breeding, hybrids of every predator that could be found, confused amalgamations which rage and charge and shake themselves to pieces when they die.

“FIRE!” and they rush to their designated bunkers, keep their heads down and try not to look at the second suns falling from the sky.

Worst of all is when no call comes, when the diviners begin to babble and all unburied corpses join them. Someone has become desperate, a breakthrough is needed, a curse is on the wind. Hold your sacred trinkets tight and pray.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Scavenger

Based on a prompt

“Thank you Remy, good job.” Mrs. Templeton adjusted her glasses and looked out at the class. “Would anyone like to volunteer to go next? No? In that case… Jerry, your turn.”

Jerry looked up in surprise at hearing his name, and after taking a breath began dragging his presentation to the front of the class. He lifted it up onto the table and they could see it was a rectangular piece of wood, with a large rusty square attached to a tight spring.

“My dad dug this out of the yard, it doesn’t look like much, cause its all rusty, but the book says they used to use these things to kill ‘vermin’, but it didn’t say what those were.”

Mrs. White narrowed her eyes and looked like she was about to speak, but at that moment the strange old device sprung to life, the metal square slamming from one side of the board to the other, narrowly missing Jerry’s paw.

Once the class had calmed down and stopped chittering, Mrs. White turned to Jerry, who was now nervously holding his tail with both paws.

“Jerry... I’m going to need to have another meeting with your parents.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Oops

Based on a prompt

“We’re doing this for a reason.” the young man said, strapping a helmet of wires and magnets to my head.

“It’s for your own good. I can promise you that.” the old man agreed, still looking at the monitor.

The metal of the helmet was cold and sharp against my scalp. I’d started shaving my head last month, but had that been my idea, or was that something they’d arranged for their own convenience?

I sought eye-contact with the young man. “I’ve already figured out how to prevent myself from retroactively preventing my own existence, my anti-paradox algorithm is air-tight. Besides, there are worse ways to go then not having ever existed, right?” I forced a laugh.

They made eye-contact. The old man suddenly seemed very, very old, and the young man seemed scared. The young man held a pleading look for a moment, but dropped his eyes, and the old man looked back to his monitor with grim determination.

The young man looked apologetic. “It’s not about what you will erase. It’s about what you will create.”

“Us.” said the old man.

“Us.” said the young man “There are, indeed, much worse things than to never exist. That is why we choose our own erasure, despite the cost. I’m sorry.”

The old man put one finger on the ENTER key. “Don’t worry” he said, “You won’t feel a thing.”

He started the program.