Needs of the Few

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Barry angled the mirror around. Satisfied no-one lurked near the door, he slipped into the supermarket.

His gut roiled at the stench. They always said, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach; who knew piles of corpses would be even more effective. Mirror preceding him, he crept toward the tinned aisle.

A woman in a bloodstained lab-coat staggered into view. “Hello? Are you… human?”

He lowered his weapon. “You worked at Gunderson Labs? Do you know what those things are?”

“Military robots. Designed to infiltrate. Programmed to protect the country, but we didn’t realise… overpopulation was such a threat.”

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Be Mindful of the Present

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

I’ll die at 8:23 am next Tuesday.

Rather precise but true nevertheless.

Teenage dreams had given way to boring adulthood. Then I saw this advert “Scared to live? We offer seven days without worry about possible futures.” It was free and I literally had nothing interesting that evening, so I went.

Woke up with this watch and a note saying the bomb inside me would explode in seven days. Doctors agree something’s lodged in my brain but it’s too risky to operate.

Anyway, best get on.

Put the fucking money in the bag or I’ll blow your shitting head off!

Death of a Drone

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Karl connected the repeater and stepped back. Fifteen seconds later, the window exploded. His breathing spiked as tiny drones swarmed through the hole. Pushing down images of neat holes in foreheads, he sent a message to all his contacts calling the President ugly.

The swarm drifted randomly as his contacts responded. He was right: no matter how good the machine learning was, social media tracking was useless if your desired targets only used strong encryption.

Which meant that only ordinary people, people like his mother just wanting to ask if he was caught up in that “robot thing”, got hit.

Beating the Pain

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

The steel felt good beneath his hands, each blow echoing like a confirmation of existence.

Knowledge had built the world around him, and given him the tools to understand what he felt and why. But knowledge wasn’t a tap in the barrel of his chest to drain away the adrenaline poisoning his taste and spasming his muscles.

Fight or flight. One can neither run from problems of words and thoughts, nor defeat them with a weapon.

He knew when the pain from others faded, the pain in his knuckles would seem failure; but the steel felt good beneath his hands.

Twelve Hours to Midnight

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Andrea glanced at the email. The Doomsday Clock had gone back yet another hour. Barely news. Maybe before the weather. How did it go…?

DC station recorded street interviews on Christmas wishes. Cue cute Asian girl saying all she wanted was her daddy not to get ‘sploded. Sheer coincidence the next show was a documentary on armistices.

Then someone hijacked North Korean television and broadcast faked footage of Kim announcing the DPRK was too powerful to need nukes. Of course, they couldn’t admit they’d been hacked.

File said the interviewer was S K Cantini. Strange it hadn’t made their career.

Impersonating Oneself

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Aurelius strode gracefully. Halloween was the perfect time of the year; men almost stood out more if they didn’t wear make-up or ape horrors. A time to hunt without the fear his appearance might reveal him. And even a few days after costume parties let him hide in sight.

Tonight it ended though. Tomorrow the fireworks with their searing lights and deafening sounds would mark another year of lurking.

Ahead his prey staggered and stopped almost perfectly for the alley he’d selected.

He lunged… pavement blurred…

Too easily.

Smudged pallor exposed skin paler still.

Two fanged maws gaped in dismay.

Eternity in a Plain of Sand

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Samhain, All Hallows Eve, Halloween. Names change, but the image of the dead dancing endured.

And we did. Not a macabre dance but dance nevertheless. Because the gates opened for those who’d fulfilled their final task, accepted loved ones would survive without them, realised they deserved release.

But the key was always the living. We need you to help, to warn, to watch.

Bombs fell and kept falling, turning you into us. Your bunker is all that remains. You do not know it yet, but your filter has failed. You will not stay the year.

But we will remain. Forever.

Seeing All the Angles

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

For years, I’ve fallen asleep to the evolution of dimensions: a dot, then a line, then a square, then a cube, then a tesseract. Not necessarily the last thoughts before sleep but a constant marker of the liminal space between duvet and dream.

And at some point, I realised not only are there several three-dimensional projections of a tesseract but the one I pictured predicted how the next day would go.

Last night I got as far as a cube and couldn’t go on.

Some people will say it’s just superstition, but I’m staying in bed until the screaming stops.

Circling the Square

100 Words of Speculation written over a background of fountain pen and printed text

Jace picked the office door lock. It’d seemed a simple idea: identify everyone attending meetings, then run stats to prove Masonry wasn’t the path to power. He’d felt vindicated when the numbers showed on average Masons were slightly more successful.

Until he noticed the distribution was off. Which was the start of the rabbit hole. But those records marked the end of the journey. Pick the lock, membership file at random, and—

Natal chart showing poor financial sense, list of rituals… this one too…

The Masons had real magic but they used it to make likely failures into passable businessmen.

One Nation Under The Law

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John cowered behind the remains of his cousin’s pick-up as the shooting range burnt. How’d it all gone to shit so fast?

Everything’d seemed on the right track. He’d thought nothing would top seeing Reverend Newton, a real Christian, being sworn in as President. Until the angels came.

Perfect beings descending to affirm the Constitution. Within twenty-four hours, all the leftards were gone and it really was one nation under God.

But angels were creatures of the Word, not lawyering with meaning. The Second Amendment said keep and bear, not keep, bear, and use, so that was what they enforced.