The old man stared out at the night sky. He had not slept since the previous rains; he knew his next sleep would be his last sleep. He sat and watched, but no rain came. Did his watchfulness keep it away, though he hoped for its coming? Rain dances had not helped, prayers had not helped, even silver nitrate had not helped.
His grandson’s family would leave in the morning, seeking new land with water, hope, and opportunity — leaving the home of their family for generations. Tears welled in the old man’s eyes. Outside, drops fell.
Sleep came at last.
“Whatcha doing?” Gena bounced to a stop next to her dad’s desk.
He didn’t look up from his laptop. “Writing.”
He sighed but still didn’t look up. “I’m working on a novel.”
Her eyes widened. “Are you going to write it all today?”
“No, but I’ll get a good start this month — 50,000 words. It’s NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month.”
“Is that a lot?”
“Enough to start, although I’ll have to keep going. I promise we’ll do something together when November’s over.”
“You say that every year.”
He didn’t answer; he’d gone back to his writing.
In other words, I do apologize for not posting on Monday, but I’ve signed up for the madness yet again (eighth year in a row). I will try to be better about posting.
In 2015, prototype neural enhancers, built to interface “better than Bluetooth” opened to beta testing. By 2020, they were commonplace. In 2015, hackers figured out how to use them to mimic telepathy.
Some of us adjusted better than others. My older brother, Tim, wound up as an inpatient in a psych ward twice before he decided to learn the enhancers’ programming code. “Desperate times call for desperate measures. No one will have time to respond before I release the worm.”
I stabbed him. He didn’t see it coming; the worm was in his system already. Desperate times, as he said.
The fire didn’t burn. It never had. It sat on her hand, an extension of her, mesmerizing with its color. Her father tried to keep her away. She was not allowed in the kitchen or near the tribe fire or even near a torch. She had to sneak her moments.
No longer. Lightning had started this fire, and no one stood nearby to naysay. Lakeisha stepped into the flames, letting them wash over and through her. She heard her daughter’s cry, but she didn’t look back. Her mother, grandmother, and all the ages past welcomed her to the fire’s dance.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Action expresses priority.” That was always one of my favorite quotes. If you wanted something enough, you did something about it. I hustled through school, working two jobs in high school to save up money for college — first kid in the family to go, scraped up an internship at Canaveral to get my name known, got a biophysics doctorate, and flew into space.
Now, as bits of shrapnel from the broken space station fall into Earth’s atmosphere, burning on entry, I close my eyes. The only priority left is to not agonize over my approaching death.
I’m experimenting with writing drabbles — short-short stories consisting of exactly 100 words — and I’ll be posting one each Monday, at least as long as I keep the experiment up. Here’s the first.
Stepping into his thirteenth haunted house, Herb felt a frisson. He wasn’t superstitious, or he wouldn’t be in this line of work, debunking supernatural claptrap. His assistant’s continual words about his outings — “Third time’s the charm” and “Lucky seven!” — were driving Herb batty. He had finally told Ian to find a new job.
Inside, Ian stood on the second-floor landing. Herb strode up. “What are you doing here?”
“I don’t want another job. This one’s pretty cushy.” He shoved Herb over the railing. “The beauty is, the house gets the blame — the one time you were wrong.”