Ellie drove while I fiddled with the radio. Neither of us spoke. It had been that way for an hour now. I wasn’t angry like before and I was hoping she’d apologize so I could say it was okay. But then she’d sigh in that petulant way and my anger would resurface. There was no way I’d be the first to give in again.
The silence stretched on as the highway grew flatter and the forests were replaced by farmland. She’d better apologize before we reached my parents’. They’d probably side with her like they’ve done with all my exes.
The fever spread through the village so quickly, everyone was sick before the first child died. The wise one said they’d been forsaken by the gods. No one listened. They were too busy dying.
In an earlier age, the epidemic, though tragic, would have passed quietly. The village would have been swallowed by the forest and forgotten. But these days, the village sat next to a gold mine, and many of the workers had come to the village for sex, then carried the fever back to the city. Soon the entire world was infected. Sin can no longer be contained.
Shadows stretch through yellow light, grabbing at her moving outline on the sidewalk. Quickly now, quickly. In her pocket, she slips her middle finger through the ring of her keychain, the metal spines porcupine out from between the knuckles of her tightening fist. Quickly now, quickly. The time between the taps of her heels on the pavement shortens with her breath. Quickly now, quickly. Her ears swim in an ocean of rushing blood. Quickly now, quickly. Behind her, footsteps. Quickly now, quickly. She is almost there. Quickly, now, quickly. She stumbles, falls. Quickly, now, quickly. It is too late.
From Guest Contributor, Laura Fitch
Laura is a writer and a reader of a whole bunch of things. Her fiction and non-fiction has been published in print and online, but she’s not about to tell you where. She likes fat cats and wine.
We milled about the tunnel, waiting for instruction. Our day always began this way. No one seemed to have the initiative to do something on his own.
I’m not sure about the others, but my inaction wasn’t for lack of impetus. I knew I should be outside gathering food and fighting off invaders. And every day was identical, so our tasks weren’t that complicated. It was just that for whatever reason I never felt very motivated. Based on their apathy, my brethren were similarly predisposed.
This was probably the reason why our colony was consistently named the world’s worst anthill.
He studied the statement in his hand, trying to focus only on the words, not on their meaning. He couldn’t think about anything but the words.
He’d been the Emperor for as long as he could remember, since childhood. He’d never been just Glenn. He’d never heard that name spoken, and he’d rarely ever thought about it.
But after he read that statement out loud, Glenn was who he would be from now on.
The Emperor put down the statement and took off his glasses. He wondered how long it would be before the new emperor decided to execute Glenn.
The figure appeared out of the fog covered in blood and carrying a large stone tablet. He made it only a few steps towards us, then collapsed.
He was dead before he could be taken to the hospital and he would never be identified. The tablet was remanded into our possession.
At first, we thought it was just a blank piece of stone, but when examined under a microscope, a lengthy manifesto was discovered. It had been recorded in several languages in succession. After careful translation, the meaning became clear.
Boiled down, it read, “Stop being assholes to each other.”
The whispers tickled her ears as if carried on the wind. She’d turn around, looking for the source, but everyone would be facing lockers or huddled in small groups. Whoever it was, he wanted her to suffer.
She started faking illnesses in order to stay home for school, hoping he would forget her. Yet every time she returned, he was waiting to torment her. The worst part was that he never revealed himself, so she couldn’t confide in a teacher or counselor, lest they think she were crazy.
It is this kind of insidious behavior that makes ghosts so frightening.
When Jackie found the caterpillar crawling in her front lawn, it precipitated a world war. The war began with nuclear warheads dropped on several strategic locations, including Jackie’s house. She and her parents were killed instantly, without understanding her role in the sudden collapse of human civilization.
Jackie’s family lived near a top-secret military installation that was critical to the nation’s defense. That caterpillar was a nanobot from an enemy state. When Jackie picked it up, thinking it was an actual bug, the remote handlers panicked.
That did not stop the world for cursing Jackie as it slipped into oblivion.
The margin between her final breath and eternity was shorter than she’d been led to believe, barely enough time to comprehend what was happening. She felt herself suffocated by regret and panic and an overwhelming sense of injustice..
There had been one moment when she’d been truly happy.
As her body twisted inside its metal chariot that would drive her forcefully into the afterlife, the airbag slammed away her breath, swallowed up her regrets, bludgeoned her consciousness, until all that was left was that moment.
She wanted to call out to him.
Before she could say goodbye it was over.
Paul steps to the line and takes a deep breath. Were he to sink the next two shots, he will be celebrated globally for the rest of his life. Women will worship him. Children will be named after him. Movies will be made and he’ll be the star. His legacy will be forever secure.
If he misses, however, not only will his own life be ruined, but those of an entire city.
The shots miss badly. Death, when it finally comes, will be a mercy for Paul.
And to think there was a time when basketball was just a game.