Old James McGrath was widely held to be the orneriest man on the frontier. They say he glared down a rattler so bad the critter’s great-great grandkids were afeared of venturing onto his land. They say that, once, a real big twister, one of them mean old suckers only found in the frontier lands, was sent packing straight back into its girlfriend’s arms by his bilious vitriol. They even say that tricky Coyote tried to swindle him out of his ranch, but ended up walking away missing thirty acres of prime real estate. It came as no surprise, then, that when Death came for McGrath in the shape of a late spring cold, he sent Old Boney packing with pant bottoms full of lead.
“It’s not always there,” Kelly said.
Rose looked at her niece. “What isn’t always there?”
“The room next to mine. It’s not there all the time.”
“What about ‘Copper Penny’?” Lois spread her hands out in front of her like the name was on an old Hollywood marque.
The square-jawed applicant sitting across the desk arched an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“Sure! Just think of the potential catch phrases. Your arch-nemesis monologues about how you’ve yet again foiled his or her plans and you say, ‘Of course. I’m Copper Penny. I always turn up.’”
She could tell he was tempted. She tried to sweeten the deal. “Plus, copper is very valuable right now.”
He frowned. “It’s just, it’s a little feminine, don’t you think?”
The baby’s crying woke me from dead slumber. My heart pounded, but I didn’t move. I dreaded holding my baby. Guilt, it seems, overpowers fear. I draped my feet over the edge of the bed to search for slippers.
The screaming reached pitches no human throat should emit. I winced, accidently brushing Sean’s sleeping shoulder. He’d turned off his audio inputs, since he had work tomorrow. My maternity leave lasted another eight weeks, and we’d agreed I’d handle nights but I was tempted to shake the bed so he’d awaken.
My slippers slapped the cold floor. Ocean lay in her bassinet, her howls rising in peaks and valleys above and below my ears’ range.
Sean couldn’t hear her. I could return to bed and cover my head.
Ashamed, I steeled myself. Pinfeathers prickled my palm as I supported her head and lifted.
Vague green eyes searched beyond my face.
I woke when the boy came through the window. He looked about eight, all dark eyes in a brown face.
“Don’t touch the floor,” I said.
He startled. “Why not?”
“The monster under my bed will get you.”
He relaxed. “I’m too old to believe in monsters. You need a better lock for your window. And bars. Everybody in the neighborhood has bars.”
I tried to imagine bars on the window. Would it be more a prison?
“It’s not safe for you here. You need to go home.”
He shrugged, settling cross-legged on the dresser below the window. “My parents are fighting. I’ll go home in a few hours.”
I go by the cemetery every day on the way to work. It’s not really a cemetery so much as a memorial. We don’t have the space for old-school burials like they did back on Earth. We don’t have the dirt to spare. We can’t spare the organs or nutrients left in the bodies, either. … Continue reading DP Fiction #3: “In Memoriam” by Rachel Reddick
Gray fog condensed on the slate roofs of City College and the surrounding town, dripping onto oblivious students and Salvatore Vega. Sal hunched against the damp. Drops slid down his ponytail and under the collar of his second-hand leather jacket. A gust of wind from a passing aircar banged Sal’s guitar case against his knee. Fine way to start a Saturday night of busking. His fingers itched to play. Sal ducked through a door.
The first location overflowed with wireheads. No audience to hear him with the wireds jacked in to their virtual realities, hair cut short to show off silver or gold disks gleaming with bling at the back of their necks. Desire clenched Sal’s gut for the ability to be online 24/7. His former wired audiences loved his digital concerts which had combined spontaneous mixes of music with improvised online looping and unlimited effects options. Instant access to a complete history of blues had allowed him to pull inspiration from Muddy Waters, Bonamassa or Paz-Moreno for melody lines and licks. Now he had to rely on old-fashioned methods of making music.
The ponderous starships mingle like whales in the ghost-light of distant Bellatrix, coupling and mutating in a great, ancient choreography, but one among them is out of step.
Parvati set out for this gathering with the usual intentions: to commune with thousands of her kind, to exchange new strains of life and exotic matter, all that she cannot do by transmission. But on her way here, something went horribly wrong in her core. Now she drifts through the pod with a secret.
Abstaining from communions, she begins to draw attention from the rest of the pod. She knows they are speculating in private networks as the dance falls apart. When the queries begin, she leaves them unanswered.