The old man nodded without looking up from his lemonade. By sending his son rather than either daughter, the family was sending a message. “I’m not ready,” he muttered.
The son sat at the other end of the small rectangular diner table. Condiments were arranged at that end as if the son were about to have a meal of ketchup, salt, and pepper. “Time to come home,” he said.
“I just ordered dinner.”
“We’ll do carry-out.”
“I’ll never sign.” The old man looked up. “Never.”
“No documents tonight, Dad. But we need you home.”
Phase shifting is like dynamite — helpful when used properly, deadly if misused.
Misjudgments are frequent among newbies. Passing through an object in front of you without also passing through the ground underneath takes concentration. Even the best-trained shifters make mistakes once they begin practicing in the field.
Like this guy. Late on his courier run, he phased through a concrete barricade with ease. But when he saw the worker in his path he phased again, panicking the worker. The courier phased in too soon, bike tripping over a cable.
The residual energy in the bike hurled it into the building.
“Didn’t know they made motorcycles in 1914,” Henrietta said, hoping to get the gaunt man’s attention in front of the exhibit.
“Oh yes,” he replied. “Owned one myself.”
“You collect antiques?” He was becoming more interesting than Henrietta had hoped.
“No. I was a boy at the time. I remember my first ride, down a dirt trail near my family’s lakeside cabin. I thought if man could build such a wonderful machine, there was no limit to what we could achieve.”
“That’s… impossible.” He looked no older than thirty.
“Not at all,” he replied, turning to Henrietta with red eyes.
Friday Fictioneers is a weekly flash fiction contest.
“Lateral stabilizers.” Detective Jenkins squatted in front of the discarded parts. “Definitely from a K-47. I can call in the serial numbers, but if they aren’t from the Altarax droid I’ll eat them for lunch.”
Her rookie partner bit his lip. “But the AI in K-47s is too advanced to be this careless. If the droid knows we’re after it, why leave such a large breadcrumb?”
“Because it wanted us to know it had been here.” Jenkins stood and brushed hair from her face. “It wants us to follow its trail. We’re being led.”
Thirty years ago the field had been a dense forest of poplar, birch, pine, and fir. A wealthy industrialist bought the land and had it clear-cut to build a summer home, yet as the last remaining trees were being uprooted he lost the property in a bitter divorce.
Two stumps were left among the acre of wildgrass. Their tops were smooth from the saw’s blade, the bark on their sides cracking and peeling off like scabs from a wound.
The tallest objects remaining in the abandoned field, the two lifeless remnants served as tombstones to a petrified ambition.