CCTV

“I don’t believe you.”

“Fuck you. You have to. Please.”

“I know what I saw, I didn’t see that.”

“You weren’t looking for it! Look again.”

Garrett peered into the screen again, squinting through the salt and pepper blizzard of pixels. Jim hovered over him, sweating.

Through the snow they could make out two figures, hovering over a small TV screen.

A dark figure appeared behind them.

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Home

“This is the place my family used to call home,” she said.

They padded through the still living room. The wood floor groaned under their tentative steps. The air swirled with dust as they passed through the scattered beams of sunlight strewn across the carpet.

“Where did they all go?” Evan whispered.

Aura slipped ahead, her linen dress waving him farewell as she released his hand.

“They’re still here."

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Bled

Edgar’s nose had been bleeding for six days.

At first he stuffed tissue after tissue up his left nostril to try and stem the tide. When that didn’t work, he carried a small maroon washcloth around to mask the intense amount of blood pouring forth from his face. By the fifth day, he gave up, awakening to crimson-drenched pillows and sheets, his left cheek dripping with his own gut juice.

By the seventh day, it was over.

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Leap Year

Andy drew a line in the dewy window with his pinky. A cascade of water bled out like a meaty cut.

“This is how far we’ve gone. In just one year.”

He swabbed another line, diverging down from the end of the first line.

“This is where we’re going. Where you’re going, anyway.”

Edie stares at the new line. Two lines. Two directions. Each on their own.

She reached up and scrubbed out the lines with her palm, creating a fan-shaped view of the emptiness just outside.

“We jump again," she said. "Together.”

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Visionary

“He will see you now.”

The android assistant led me to the massive onyx doors of Kobyashi-san’s office. They swung wide, drawing me into the vast bronze lair overlooking Ginza.

Kobayashi was at the end of the room, seated at a massive wooden desk with his back to the flickering city lights. As I approached, he raised a withered hand to his head and pressed his left temple. His closed eyelids illuminated.

Fifteen

Fifteen.

I have fifteen seconds to impact.

My brain and heart cook in unison to burn through options.

Fourteen.

If I shoot, the child dies. If I don’t we crash.

Thirteen.

The last time it felt like this, like a vice grip on my conscience, it was that flash job in Topeka that went pear.

Twelve.

I think about the kid. My kid. This kid. This one life.

Eleven.

What do I need to be around for anyway? What have I got left to deal with, to make better? To make worse?

Ten.

But it’s not just me. It’s them. They’re asleep. They’ll die well. But they shouldn’t. They don’t have a choice. Nobody does.

Nine.

My finger hugs the trigger. My shoulder hugs my ear.

Eight.

The kid is crying. My kid is probably crying.

Seven.

I hope they’re dreaming.

Six.

I hope I’m dreaming.

Five. It’s slowing down.

Four.

I’m hungry.

Three.

It’s Jane’s birthday tomorrow.

Two.

Breathe.

One.

Out With Ed

“You left before I could.”

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see me.

“I was already gone,” I said. “Leaving was a formality.”

She was silent for longer than I could stand. My words echoed off the silence hovering between us across the ether.

“Where are you now?” she finally said.

“Not sure,” I said. It was true. I knew I was on the side of the road somewhere between Tacoma and Portland, though there were plenty of places in between where I could be. From my perspective I was at the end of the road.

“Put Ed back on the phone,” she said.

I looked up from the gravel, straining my eyes and neck to signal him. Ed shifted his foot from my between my shoulder blades.

“She wants you.”