Plugs

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Reduction In Force

by David

I didn’t see any practical difference when they replaced the bus drivers with chimpanzees. When the grim ladies in the benefits office vanished and octopi took their places I thought it was an improvement. And so it went. In the end, zero human employment wasn’t such a bad thing. The factories ran smoothly staffed by giant spiders and genetically modified prairie dogs. Sylvia and I had our museums, parks, sidewalk cafés, and all the pleasures of a leisured life. I had my games and she had her tableau photography. We loved gallery openings, plays, espresso by the square. We had TIME. All that’s gone now, and I’m a hunted man.

One night I returned to our apartment after spending a couple of pleasant hours playing baseball in the park. I anticipated that Sylvia had prepared a delicious meal – gourmet cooking was a passion of hers. We would settle in at the entertainment portal and launch a beautiful milieu in which to eat our dinner. Maybe Venice before the Melting. I palmed the security pad, slipped inside, and stopped still. I sniffed the air. There was no sound; an acrid scent tickled my nose, and something else. The lights were off.

“Hi honey, I’m home?” My only answer was a faint rustling from the portal area. I flicked on the light.

“Is this a prank?” I think I already knew that it wasn’t. Something a lot like a mantis sat in Sylvia’s favorite chair. Its color matched her skin tone. Its mandibles clacked and a semblance of human speech emanated from its voder.

“This one regrets to inform that the female human has been downsized. This one will function as spouse at greatly reduced expense.”

I was already swinging the bat when the mantis lunged, jaws wide. Dense plastic met chitin-clad protoplasm, and ungodly amounts of green goo mixed with flesh-colored shards splattered everywhere. The mantis’s body jack-knifed across the room, legs thrashing. I dropped the bat and leaped to the chair. Most of Sylvia lay on the floor behind it, in front of the faux bookcase. The carpet surrounded her, wet and brown. I didn’t see her head.

The next thing I remember I was running down the street, bat in hand. I was sticky and I smelled. Everyone else was running too, perhaps for the same reason I was. I heard screams. I’m almost sure they weren’t mine.

end

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “Reduction In Force”

  1. Jaleta Clegg Says:

    June 28th, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Ack! What a vision. Loved the story.

  2. David Says:

    June 28th, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Thank you. It did turn out rather dark, didn’t it.