The Ring. Flash Fiction.

Jenny held the ring in a beam of sunlight, watching as the afternoon light glinted across the diamonds. It really was a breath-taking ring and she wasn’t surprised she’d never seen her grandmother wearing it. Her grandmother seemed to favour subtle jewellery, nothing more than a pair of small, diamond stud earrings and little else. Jenny slid the ring onto her finger, marvelling at how perfectly it fit. She, unlike her grandmother, loved wearing jewellery the more it sparkled the better as far as she was concerned. She moved her hand about in the light, this ring would definitely be added to her rotation, only for special occasions of course, she didn’t want to lose something so beautiful and so precious. She considered the ring on her finger for a moment, it wasn’t a special day, not really, but the ring was just too perfect to take off.

Jenny reached for her coffee, ring shining in the harsh lights of the coffee shop. A man nearby smiled, Jenny didn’t notice as she doctored her coffee, adding a splash of milk and a dash of sugar. Without looking she left the coffee shop, the man stood and followed, hardly able to believe his luck. He had been searching for that ring for years, decades and here it was, in some unremarkable coffee shop worn by an unremarkable girl. Sure, she was pretty enough if one noticed those kinds of things but as the years went on the man found himself noticing them less and less.

The man followed her through the day as Jenny wound her way through her errands. He was finding it frustrating how she never seemed to find herself alone, not even in the aisles of the grocery store. He just needed a moment that was all, just long enough to snatch it from her finger. Jenny exited the store, arms laden with shopping bags. She walked through the car park, she reached her car and put the bags down, seeing his chance the man lunged. He pulled her down and kept her close to the ground, “Don’t scream, don’t make a sound and I won’t hurt you.” His breath was hot against her face and carried with it a fetid stench that reminded her of spoiling meat. His hands scrabbled at hers as he stripped the ring from her finger. She realised what was happening and snatched her hand away, but the ring was already gone. She moved to hit him, before she could he struck her hard across the face, an open handed slap that disorientated her. “it isn’t worth your life. To you it’s just a thing.” With that his crushing weight left her body and he was gone. Shakily Jenny stood and looked around the car park, people were milling around but there was no sign of the man. Her hands were shaking and her heart was beating heavily in her chest as she scrabbled to open her car, once inside she locked the doors. After a moment she burst into tears, once she had calmed herself she turned on the engine and pulled out of the spot, not remembering the bags of groceries she left on the ground.

The man looked at the ring in front of him, he had actually found it after all these years. He slipped the ring on and felt a rush of anger through him. The man glanced down at the ring, “I’ve missed you too sweetheart.” with a small smile he stared at the ring, it was almost as beautiful as the soul of the woman he had made it from.

Settlers. Short Story.

Sandra pulled the door open, she ignored the squawking voice of the secretary to her left as she barged into the office, President Grayson was sitting behind his large desk, framed by a larger window that looked out over the valley, the green lie framing him perfectly. He looked up from his work, startled from thought, his pen freezing mid-stroke. “Sandra, what’s-” before he could finish his question she slammed down the basket of vegetables, the top of it was covered by strands of wheat, their golden colour was spotted with dark red and black spots. “It’s spreading. It’s still spreading and you’re doing nothing about it.”
His receptionist was standing near the door, “I’m so sorry President Grayson, I tried to tell Minister Williams that you were busy.”
“That’s OK Amanda, I have some time to meet with her, thank you.”
Amanda left the room, closing the door quietly behind herself.
She grabbed the wheat and slammed it onto the table, then she started pulling fruits from the basket, apples, pears, carrots one after the other and each had those same red black spots. “We’ve been trying everything to keep this stuff under control and nothing works.”
Grayson sighed and put the pen down, “I know. We’re looking into it and working as fast as we can but we’re not set up for this kind of research or development, not yet. There will be an announcement about it today. I am well aware of how bad the problem is, look.”
He gestured at the window behind him, they were standing at the highest point in the valley, Sandra stepped around the desk and looked out, she felt her stomach drop, first at the height then at what she saw. She put her hand to her mouth, she could see the infection from up here, the dark stains against the green of the trees and the gold of the wheat.
“It isn’t just you and your farm, it’s the whole valley. Hell, probably the whole planet.”
She turned to him, face pale, “How? I thought this kind of thing was tested for”
he shrugged, “The planet was seeded about twenty years ago, since then everything has been growing without problem. All the tests showed it as perfect. We don’t know what this is or why it’s spreading. It isn’t like any fungal or bacterial infection we know of on Earth. They may have similar colourings but they act in a completely alien manner, its spreading pattern is unlike anything we’ve seen before, it spreads against prevailing winds, it spreads to fields miles away. Tonight we are introducing a new measure, any crops found to be infected will need to be destroyed, it’s the only chance we have for stopping its spread, conventional methods just aren’t working.”
Sandra stumbled from the window and sat down heavily, “How fast does it spread? It only started appearing in the last week or so.”
President Grayson shook his head,, “It was first discovered two and a half weeks ago, Elena Jacobson found it in her strawberries and it has spread like wildfire since.”
“What if we can’t stop this?”
“Well, we’ll still have the animals so that should keep us going until we can get to the bottom of this. I’ve sent a distress call to Earth, it should arrive in a year. We just need to survive two years and we’ll have a solution.”
“I don’t know if we’ve got that long. I’ve heard rumours that Jensen’s cattle showed some signs of the infection. I went to go check but he denied it, I just thought it was rumours but what if it isn’t?”
“Jesus.”
“If this has spread to the animals then we don’t have two years.”
President Grayson shook his head, “Tonight I’ll announce the introduction of rationing. I’m also calling for people to can and store any fruit, vegetables or meat they can. The more we can stockpile before the rot gets to it the better.”
Sandra looked at him for a moment, “Do you think we can survive this?”
“What choice do we have?”
“How did something like this happen? Why didn’t it show up on any tests?”
The President laughed, “Do you know how expensive this mission was? Sending humans to a habitable planet? They sent out machines to test the atmosphere, to test the ground, they planted seeds and once they confirmed they were growing and growing well that was all they needed to know. Everything else would be learned on the fly. Those tests looked for anything that might immediately endanger human life, that was all. Hell, on the other side of this world there’s a species that look similar to wolves, only they’re the size of elephants. This was simply the safest spot for humans to build up a community and build up our defences. We weren’t given the supplies or equipment to deal with this kind of threat.”
“Well why not? Shouldn’t that be the first thing to be sent with us?”
“The more advanced equipment is to come with the second wave in ten years, once we’ve tamed this place a little, we’re just here to clean the house and turn the heating on.”
“How could they have missed this?”
“It could be a long life cycle, like the Cicada’s back home. Sure it’s poisonous to us, but maybe it isn’t poisonous to the local inhabitants. I’ve already been sending out foraging missions, we’re still testing to see if they’re edible but that’s a slow process, it wasn’t to start until the next wave and we won’t fully know if it’s safe or not until someone eats it. Even then what kind of problems could it bring down the road? Disease? Cancer?”
Sandra sat back in her chair, “What will we do? What the hell can we do?”
The president shook his head, “We can hope, we can try to survive. Nature has a way of balancing itself on earth, perhaps the same is true for here. Maybe the infection will stop on its own or we’ll stumble on a solution. We’re not out of options yet. I’ve already sent for help, it will take a while to arrive, but it will arrive. We have safe drinking water, we still have food supplies, there are still plenty of earth native plants in the area that are uninfected. We do have a fighting chance, no matter how hopeless it might seem.”
The buzz of the intercom startled them both, “President Grayson, you’re three o’clock has arrived.”
“Thank you Amanda, I’m just finishing up here.” he released the button, “I’m sorry Sandra, but I can’t miss this meeting, I should be done around four if you would like to wait. I’m going to announce this to the Ministers at five, then to the rest of the settlers at seven tonight.”
“No, I have some things I need to check on now. I’m going to go see where else it has spread to.”
President Grayson nodded, not bothering to point out he already had people do that. Sandra was stressed and when she was stressed she needed to keep herself busy.
Sandra stood, as did President Grayson, as she reached toward his hand her eyes moved past him to the valley below. It had only been a short while she had last looked out but it seemed as if the rot had spread even further. She felt a wave of nausea building at the back of her throat.
She left the office, already planning where she would go next. President Grayson glanced out the window, he tried to put a brave face on it for Sandra as he would for everyone else, but from what he’d been told so far it wasn’t looking good for anyone. He pulled his eyes from the large spots of blight in the green of the valley, he could feel the tightness in his chest and a small squirming snake of anxiety constantly moving inside his stomach. His next appointment walked in, “please for the love of God tell me you’ve good news.”
The man glanced down at the ground, “nothing particularly promising yet but we’re exploring some new avenues that we think could be effective in-” it would all be in the report later, he knew Kevin, knew by him that they had nothing. He nodded at all the right places, pretending that Kevin’s fake jocularity was working, that he truly believed they would be saved and still that snake writhed in his stomach.

In the Woods. Short Story.

Josh reached a large outcrop of rocks, feeling a little hungry and tired he sat on one and took his lunch from his bag. It was nothing fancy, just a sandwich, a thermos full of tea and a bag of crisps. He ate slowly, enjoying the view and the warm sun on his back. The trail he was walking was easy enough but he was still struggling a little, he wasn’t used to much exercise these days. He looked at the mountains and forest that stretched out before him, he snapped a quick photo with his phone maybe if he could show Melissa how beautiful it was out here she’d be more inclined to join him. Once he finished he tidied away his things and started walking again, the trail should take him another two or three hours depending on how often he had to stop for breaks.

He never realised how loud the city was until he was out here, it was so peaceful without the constant rumble of traffic, the screaming and shouting, the thick smell of car exhaust. Out here he could hear birds chirping to one another, the rustle of the wind through the trees. It really was beautiful, even though he was feeling a little tired he felt strangely invigorated. There was something about being out here, alone with nature, it felt, good, right.

Josh pulled his phone from his pocket, he opened the text from Melissa, “Looks beautiful! Hope you’re having fun xxx” he typed out a quick response and started to put his phone back into his pocket, it slipped from his fingers, landed on the ground then bounced into the bushes. Fuck. He chased after his phone, which had slid down a small hill. He could just see it’s screen glinting in the sunlight. Cursing to himself he made his way down the hill, it was steeper than he expected and he almost slipped twice. Finally he picked up his phone and started wiping it off. Somehow the screen wasn’t cracked and it seemed mostly unharmed with only a few scratches and dents. He looked up the hill, it really was much steeper than it looked coming down, he was lucky he didn’t fall and break his neck. He started to climb it, but a few feet up the soil became loose beneath his feet sending him sliding backwards, he wasn’t going to be able to climb the hill. He looked around for a moment, he knew where the trail was, he just had to walk parallel to it until the hill dipped a little and he could climb back up. He started walking, as he went he kept his head down to watch where he was going, the last thing he needed was a root or branch to snag his ankle. He was almost in the bushes when he noticed that they weren’t just bushes, they were thick brambles with sharp thorns. The hill was still too steep and he couldn’t see where the brambles stopped but they couldn’t last forever. He could go around them easily enough and circle back.

Josh wiped some sweat from his forehead, the brambles were blocking off more and more the further he went, they were growing up the small hill and blocking any path back to the trail. He knew he just had to keep going but he was starting to get frustrated. It had been such a nice day out until he dropped his damn phone and since then things were just getting worse and worse. He stood for a moment, debating his options, he could continue trying to skirt these brambles, or he could go deeper into the woods and have a clearer path. He turned and moved into the woods, it was the fastest way to get back to the path.

Josh paused, had he heard something? It sounded like something large falling into a bush. After a few seconds he started to walk again, it was probably just some animals looking for food. He moved back towards the direction of the path, he’d been walking through the woods for a good twenty minutes now, there was no way the brambles would extend this far. He was starting to feel a little better, after all this was just a short detour and the view, though limited, was still nice. A breeze blew through the trees bringing with it the scent of sweetness, Josh breathed deeply and smiled.

Had he gotten turned around? Josh spun slowly in a circle, he thought he was walking back to the path but he’d been walking for almost ten minutes and he should have come across the brambles or the path by now. He turned and started retracing his steps, it was this way, right? He stopped. No, it was the other way. “Fuck!” why had he spun around like that? He’d gotten himself all mixed up. Josh spotted a tree and smiled triumphantly, he recognised that tree, he’d seen it only a few minutes ago, it had a reddish moss growing on it. OK, good, great, that was the way he came, he could just go back that way and it would bring him to the path. He felt a faint thread of unease in his stomach as he started to walk.

Half an hour later Josh stopped walking, he had to admit it now, he was lost. He had managed to get himself turned around somewhere, feeling a pit of dread in his stomach he pulled out his phone. It was going to be so mortifying to call for a rescue, but at this point he didn’t see what his options were, he couldn’t just traipse around the forest and hope to run across someone after all. He unlocked his phone, well that was just great. He’d no signal, of course he didn’t have any god damned signal. He took a slow breath, he just had to think this through. He had been going downhill, there were trees and mountains around it had to be blocking his signal, he just had to get higher, that was all. To his left the land sloped gently upwards, Josh started walking.

Three hours later and he still had no signal, he had tried yelling for help about two hours back but all that got him was a hoarse and dry throat. He didn’t want to drink his water too quickly, he had brought two litres of it and some tea but he didn’t know how long he’d be out here. He had to start thinking properly, he couldn’t afford to make any mistakes again. To his right he heard a branch snap, Josh turned and saw a man standing in the trees. “Oh thank god. Hi, can you help me? I’ve gotten a bit lost out here.” The man nodded, Josh started walking towards him. “I’m so lucky I ran into you, god only knows how long I’d have been stuck out here, I’m not getting any signal on my phone. If you could just direct me back to the path that would be great.” Josh stopped, the man hadn’t moved at all since that first nod and now that Josh was looking at him properly something was off. He wasn’t dressed for hiking or exercise, he wore a pair of suit trousers and a grey shirt. He looked younger than Josh had first though too, he looked to be in his mid-twenties, with a round, wide face. The man smiled at Josh, “Don’t worry, I can help.” his voice sounded strange, like it was coming from far away. Josh smiled and started walking towards the man again, he was just being silly, besides he needed help and it wasn’t like he was going to run into anyone else out here. When Josh reached him he stuck out his hand, “I’m Josh.”
“Fred.” His grip was firm and warm, Josh noticed he wasn’t wearing any shoes.
“What trail were you on?”
“I was on the green one, starting in the west car park, it’s supposed to loop around.”
“Wow, you really have gotten yourself turned around, you’re practically on the other side of the park, how long have you been out here?”
“about three or four hours since I left the trail.”
Fred shook his head, “Rule number one man, don’t leave the trail.”
“I know, I know. I dropped my phone down a hill and went after it, then I couldn’t get back up because the soil was too loose. I tried to get back but brambles were blocking me then I managed to get myself turned around.”
“It happens, easy to do out here if you’re not used to it. You’re lucky you ran into me, there’s nothing in the direction your going for miles. Assuming you kept a straight line and didn’t end up going in circles you’d have been out here for five or six days before you reached another trail.”
“Wow yeah.”
“C’mon lets get going, we should reach the trail and get you home before dark.”

Josh took a swig from his water bottle, “can we take a break for a second, just so I can get my breath back?”
“Sure, no problem, we’re almost there.”
Josh drank another mouthful of water, Fred leaned against a nearby tree and pulled out a pack of cigarettes, “You want one?”
“No thanks.”
“Yeah I don’t blame you. I don’t smoke all that often though, hard to get them out here.”
“Do you live in the woods?”
Fred chuckled, “No, not quite. I don’t make trips into the city all that often though, try to avoid buying them when I do. I mostly go in for shopping, get some food.” he smiled at Josh, “sometimes I get lucky though and the food brings itself to me.” he lunged at Josh, Josh yelped and dropped his water bottle, before he could do anything else Fred slammed into him, dragging him to the ground. Josh felt something hot splash across his legs, there was a deep heat coming from his stomach a second later the pain came and he started screaming. Fred stood and tucked the knife back into the back of his trousers, “Scream all you like.” He bent over and grabbed Josh by the legs then he began to drag him through the woods.

From Above. Flash Fiction.

Woo! Friday! Hope everyone has had a good week. Still not feeling the best, but definitely better than I was, still feeling pretty wrecked. Had a good week though despite that, my sister, brother in law and niece were over to visit for a few days so was great seeing them.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

________________________________________________________

Roberta watched in silence, the camera panned around the large metal cube. It had appeared just hours before, slowly descending from the heavens. Scientists and military were already cordoning off the area and running tests. An announcement had been made confirming that it was of extraterrestrial origin but that there were no life signs on the ship. The news had been playing that same few statements on a loop as they circled around the cube. Roberta felt the breath catch in her throat as she watched a long, thin panel open in the side of the cube, the reporters were squawking about something happening, but they weren’t sure what yet. As she watched the people in the vicinity of the cube started to fall, they writhed and clutched at their throats, then they lay still. The screen switched back to a pale and frightened looking anchor, “We are getting reports that people within close vicinity to the cube have collapsed and unconfirmed reports that those in the vicinity have died. Again at this point we do not know-” the screen went black, “Our ship is badly damaged, we are on a direct course with your planet, we do not have the resources to repair our ship. You do not have the resources to repair our ship. Our atmosphere is poison to you, your atmosphere is poison to us. If we do not terraform your planet our species will die, terraforming will be complete in twenty four hours. We are sorry.”

the screen switched back to the anchor, she was staring wide eyed at the camera. She looked off screen for a moment, a thin sheen of sweat appearing across her face, “We have confirmed that the message just played was from an extraterrestrial source. We have also confirmed that those close to the cube have died.” outside there was a screech of tires, then a loud crash. Roberta ran to the window and looked out on the street, she could see the wreckage of a car, people were collapsing on the ground, writhing and struggling to breath. She felt a faint tickle at the back of her throat. Roberta coughed, then started wheezing, her head started to spin, she stumbled from the window and collapsed onto the ground.

Black Rain. Flash Fiction

The black rains were coming, Tommy looked at the dark clouds that were rolling towards the town. He’d be stuck indoors for the next week, everyone would be. Once a year the black rain came and with it were the whisperers. They would scratch at the windows and doors, whispering promises and secrets. Tommy didn’t know what they looked like, no one did, the black rain obscured the windows and anyone who went outside during the rains was never seen again. The first raindrops began to patter against his window. Tommy watched for a few minutes until he could no longer see outside. The lamps provided some light in the rapidly growing darkness but as always they seemed dimmed somehow.

Tommy was pouring himself a drink when the first scratching started. Soft, gentle and persistent, he ignored it, it was followed a minute later by the whispers. It was too low to make out any proper words, he felt the urge to move closer to the window, to press his ear against it and listen. He turned from the window, leaving his drink behind.

It was day three and the whispering was getting worse, it was an almost constant noise in the background, when he ate, as he slept. It was relentless. The scratching and tapping were no better, at night he would scream back at them, beg and plead for them to stop, they never did.

It was the fifth day when they stopped tapping and started banging, heavy thuds against the doors and windows. They whispers were louder than ever but still he could make nothing out. It was maddening the words were there but just out of reach. He stood in front of the door, they promised him eternal life and everything else he could want, he knew it, if only he could understand what they were saying. He reached out and gripped the doorknob, it turned easily in his grip though he knew he had locked it days ago. He pulled the door open, a gust of window blew in carrying the black rain with it, it splattered over Tommy and the floor. He finally saw them. They looked like humans, dead and starving for years, their skin was grey and gaunt, their eyes were bright and feverish. They stumbled in, the whispering growing louder. They grabbed his hands, their skin cold, damp and somehow papery and with surprising strength they pulled him from his house and into the rain. The rain was cold, he felt it washing over him, coating his skin. He stumbled further into the rain, basking in it. He felt himself being pulled towards a house nearby, there was something inside, something he needed, something warm. He started scratching at the window and began to whisper with the others, begging to be let inside, promising everything they could ever want, if only they opened the door.

Dead or Alive. Flash Fiction.

“Are you sure he’s down there?”
“We tracked his ship to this planet, it would have landed about three days ago, it’s still showing on our scanners. Should we send a team down there?”
Meredith looked at the screen in front of her, “It says here this planet is off limits, fundamentally incompatible with human life forms.”
“We can do a global scan, see if we can detect any life signs that match a human.”
“How long will that take?”
“Planet of this size? Seventeen hours max, that’s with the settings only looking for something vaguely human. If you want to get more in depth it’d be weeks.”
“Well, start scanning for now.”
“Right away Captain.”

She looked through the file, it really did seem like everything on this planet was fundamentally incompatible with humans, the air was just about breathable but it would do damage to the lungs resulting in death within a week. Most of the life on the planet was poisonous to humans and the atmosphere was too thin meaning without the right protective gear skin cancer would develop in as little as three months. Chances were good the fugitive was already dead or well on his way to dying but he was a slippery one and smugglers and criminals had been known to use off limit planets for their base of operations. He could have had a base set up there already, few air filters and a well stocked cupboard could see him in hiding for months. She couldn’t in good conscious send people down there. She opened his file again, Frederick Boland, wanted for pretty much any crime you could think of, born and raised on one of the so called independent frontier planets, wild places were law was just a myth. Meredith shook her head, personally she believed everyone would be better off if they just nuked all those planets from space, nothing good ever came of them, they were just breeding grounds for scum. An alert appeared on the screen, she opened it and quickly scanned the message, “Frederick Boland is to be captured or killed at all costs. He cannot remain at large. Do whatever is necessary.”

Meredith closed out of the message, she’d received orders like this in the past but usually they were for people who dabbled in things like arms or drug trading, she could see nothing that would elevate Frederick above your average scumbag from the frontiers. Still, orders were orders. She glanced through the planet profile, no intelligent life and the probability of it evolving was slim, she’d be well within her right to just destroy everything down there, once they had confirmation of course.

“We found him. He’s sheltering in some caves not too far from the ship, the scanners had a little difficulty picking him up, if they hadn’t been updated in Sig we’d have never found him.”
“Can we destroy that cave system without doing too much damage to the surrounding area?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“Prepare the cannons and fire when ready, once the cave system is destroyed spray the area with blasters.”
“And firing in three, two, one.”
Chances were good that destroying the cave system would kill him, but if not the blasters would get him. If anything triggered them they’d explode releasing a toxic gas.
“Direct hit. Cave system has been destroyed. Sending blasters to area now.”
Meredith opened up Fredericks profile, she made a quick note of what happened then marked him as deceased, whatever he’d done didn’t matter now, she’d done her duty and there was one less scumbag in the universe.

The Orb. Flash Fiction.

Janet carefully plucked a petal from the rose, then she watched as Patient 192 started to scream. A patch of skin along his forearm was peeling itself back, blood ran freely from the wound, the flesh worked itself free then fell to the ground. Fascinating. She plucked another petal, this time the patch of skin was on his shin. She kept plucking the petals, one by one and marking off the corresponding patches of skin on a clipboard. There was one petal left, a patch of skin in the middle of his chest, blood flowed freely from his exposed muscles, but he did not die. Janet had expected him to die of blood loss long before this, but still he screamed. She plucked the last petal and the last piece of skin fell from his body, joining the others on the ground, she had no doubt that each patch of skin would correspond to the relative size of the rose petal. She held the stem for a moment, the patient was moaning, how was he even still alive? After a seconds hesitation she broke the stem in two, the patient screamed as his hips ripped free of his torso, his legs fell to the ground, he stayed chained to the upright table. Deciding that she had learned all she could from this experiment she cut the stem into smaller pieces until finally there was nothing left and the patient was a pile of bloody meat on the floor.

Janet picked up the small glowing orb, it was about the size of a marble, she wore heavy duty gloves to protect herself from its influence. She held out the orb to Patient 193, “Please place the ball in that glass vase.”
“Is it safe to touch?”
“Completely. I am wearing gloves only to ensure that I don’t interfere with the experiment.”
The patient took the orb, “huh, I thought it would feel warm. Is it supposed to be cold?”
“Yes, it is, please place the orb into the glass vase.”
The patient, a 25 year old woman with long black hair and pale skin placed the orb into the vase, “Is that it?”
“We will do further testing in a few moments, for now you can just relax.”
“Ok. Will this take much longer? The woman said it would only take like an hour.”
“No, you won’t be too much longer.”
Janet picked up the vase and left the room, this one was going to be messy and they had yet to test the range, would it continue to work through a wall?

Janet placed the orb back into its container, a small lead lined box and gently closed the lid. On the other side of the two way mirror the patient had started pacing around the room. Beside Janet was a large metal box with spikes at the base of it, Janet held the vase above the box then threw it inside. The vase shattered and as she watched the patient exploded into chunks, she had no doubt that they would correspond to the size of the shards in the box. They already knew from previous tests that if the item remained intact the patient would begin to twist and collapse in on themselves over the course of twelve hours until they physically matched the object they had been linked to. If they could only figure out how to replicate the orbs they could do anything. It would be the perfect weapon. Rain them down upon a city and let things play themselves out. The people would be killed and all that would be left to do was tidy up the remains and remove and stragglers. Two people entered the room, both were wearing full biohazard suits, she watched as they began to pick up the pieces, which would be brought for further testing. She looked at the small lead lined box, the orb would be was active again, it was time to bring it to the next patient.

Life of the Party. Flash Fiction.

Francine lifted the fork full of raw meat to her mouth, slowly, almost sensuously she put the fork into her mouth and closed it, slowly drawing the tines between her lips. She savoured the taste for a second, then she started chewing. She swallowed, then sighed in satisfaction, “Perfection. Sheer perfection.” there was a polite round of applause, she gestured at the table and the guests picked up their own cutlery and started to eat.
“Oh, Francine this is just delicious, so vibrant, so full of life.”
“Thank you Damien, it was just slaughtered this afternoon, you couldn’t get any fresher unless you ate it right off the bone.”
“How do you manage to always have the best meat?”
Francine smiled “I’m afraid that’s a secret dear, my source wouldn’t take kindly if they found out that I had been telling people about them.” She took a sip of her wine and smiled. The five other people at the table focused on eating, three of them closed their eyes with each bite, focusing entirely on the food.

They ate their way through three courses until finally they sat chatting over coffee, the candles giving off a soft, gentle light, the guests would stay until the candles had extinguished themselves and no longer, as was tradition. Though the dinner party was a success, as usual, Francine found herself distracted and wishing the night was over, she had saved a special cut of meat for herself and she was dying to have a bite or two. She had restrained herself during dinner, taking only the smallest portions all in preparation for what was waiting for her on the kitchen counter. Finally one of the candles went out and everyone began to gather their things.
“Are you still OK for hosting the next dinner Mary?”
“Oh of course, I’ve already started making preparations for it.”
Francine showed them to the door, graciously accepting their compliments as they went until the front door closed and she was alone. Francine walked down the hall, ignoring the dining room and the dirty plates, those would keep until the morning. She went into the kitchen and went straight to the counter, slices of brain lay on a white porcelain plate, the meat glistened in the soft light. She opened the drawer and pulled out a knife and a fork.

When she was done she took three slow breaths, already she was feeling stronger, not that that was any surprise, the lovely donor of the meat had been a fifteen year old girl, full of life and fun. Francine didn’t know where her supplier found them, she didn’t want to know, it was none of her business really. All she cared about was the quality of the meat and it was always top quality. She left the kitchen and went upstairs, a glass of wine held in one hand. She stripped out of her dress and took off her jewellery, then she cleaned the make up off her face, pausing only to take sips of her wine. When she was done she climbed into bed, she needed her beauty rest after all and there was nothing like an infusion of vitality to help smooth away the wrinkles. She closed her eyes and with a small content smile on her lips she drifted off into a pleasant sleep.

From the Skies Above. Flash Fiction.

Nick sneezed, he pulled his hands away from his face and froze. Hundreds of little black dots covered the palms of his hands, he was infected. He had three days left, four if he was unlucky. He stood for a moment, just staring at his hands before a loud crash from outside startled him, he went to the downstairs bathroom and turned on the taps, there he washed his hands again and again, scrubbing at them with a nail brush until they were bright red and stinging underneath the spray of the warm water. He knew it wouldn’t make a difference, it was already inside him, but he couldn’t stand the thought of that black stuff on his skin. He left the bathroom and went to the kitchen, stumbling one or twice on the way. He sat down at the small wooden table and stared into the distance. Was this really how it was going to end for him? Alone in his house, unable to breath, to move. He got up from the table and filled the kettle, he needed something to calm his nerves, first he’d have a cup of tea, then he’d figure out a game plan. He still had the same food supplies as before, but well, now at least they wouldn’t have to be stretched as far.

Nick sipped his coffee, it was black, the milk had gone off the day before. The shops had been closed shortly after the first signs of sickness appeared and Nick hadn’t been outside since, not with the mandatory quarantine. No one was allowed outside their property and anyone seen doing so would be arrested or shot on sight if they appeared sick in any way. Nick had been lucky, he’d gone shopping only the day before it all started, he’d seen plenty of stories on the news of people going outside looking for food only to find a military patrol instead.

It had all started innocuously enough a week before, when there was a meteor shower, everyone had been outside watching, it had been billed as a once in a lifetime event and they weren’t wrong. What looked like millions of stars shooting across sky, visible despite the light pollution of the city. They had all stood outside, staring upwards completely unaware of what was raining down on them. Nick coughed, more black specks were on his hands, as he looked at them he felt tired, drained. The frantic urge to wash it away was gone as were all thoughts of a plan, there was nothing to do now but wait and hope that he’d be the first to survive.