One Christmas Eve

“Hey, Tommy, you seen my mitt?” I ask as I poke my head into the little room we’ve been sharing.

“Yeah, it’s in the garage, but I don’t want to play right now.”

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly to steady myself for the news I’m about to give.

“You might as well know, I’m leaving tonight.”

“What?” Tommy tosses his book on the floor and leaps to his feet.

“Yeah, I heard your mom and dad talking about me in the kitchen. They said they didn’t know the best way to tell me.”

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Attack on Sector Four


That damn intercom always interrupts me just as I’m about to fall asleep.

“This better be important.” I say double checking that I pressed audio only.

“Sir, sensors have picked up a large aircraft approaching sector four at high speed. The silhouette does not match any known craft.”

“I assume they haven’t responded to any requests to identify themselves.”

“No response, sir. Ready-One-Interceptors are online and ready for deployment.”

“Launch drones, surveillance only. I’m on my way.”

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I drag my feet as much as possible on my way back to the town hall. It doesn’t matter that the situation is beyond my control, no matter what I do, the elders are going to blame me for the bridge’s deterioration. I’ve staved off the inevitable as long as I can; I might as well get it over with.

The guard gives me one of those “Good luck, bro” looks before unlocking the hall doors. I don’t know what the council expects of me. It’s not like I can stop mother nature. I enter the hall and address three of the most annoying men I’ve ever met.

“Well, nice of you to finally join us, engineer, I presume you are ready to make your report to the council,” said the High Elder. Thirty years ago we all called him Carl.

“The bridge situation remains the same as last week I’m afraid.”

The second elder grunts with the effort of leaning forward. “Unacceptable!”

I really have no idea how to respond so I keep my mouth shut.

The high elder puts his hand up as if to appear sympathetic. “We need the bridge, engineer. We are counting on you to fix it.”

“As I’ve said for years, without paint or heavy equipment we can’t stop the bridge from corroding. At this point my best guess is we have less than a year before it washes away.”

“And what are we to do?”

“We do what I, and just about everyone else has suggested for about twenty years, get the hell off this island and look for a new place to settle.”

The third elder starts to fan himself in a melodramatic fashion. Apparently the mere mention of my suggestion is enough to make him almost pass out. The second elder, now completely enraged, is red-faced and grunting furiously from his many failed attempts to stand.

“How dare you speak to the council in such a fashion?”

“How dare I? Jesus, Carl, we went to the same high school for crying out loud. You were a bully then and you’re a bully now. Just look at Frank, he’s so damn fat he can’t even stand up and Stanly, you can’t even comprehend the thought of leaving without needing first aid.”

“Well, perhaps I should call the guard. Maybe a few days uncarserated will help you remember how we run our society.”

“You mean incarcerated?”

“That’s it! Your insulin has gone on long enough.”

“Insulin is for diabetics you imbecile. And what are you gonna do call the guard? Bernie’s been my best friend since the second grade. Face it; it’s over, done, at-an-end, caputski. You’re all nothing but glorified town selectmen. Your job before the war was to manage the town’s money, but since money doesn’t exist anymore you went ahead and appointed yourselves leaders. And we let you, I guess because at the time we needed some sort of leadership what with the government’s collapse. We all held out hope that someone would cross the bridge and bring help. We were weak and vulnerable then but now we are strong, and we did it despite all your attempts to keep us isolated here on this island.”

“You’re a fool, engineer. You think it is easy, ruling over the masses; listening to their whining day in and day out. There are important decisions we have to make every day; Choices that decide whether we all live or die.”

“Oh, for the love of God, stop it. You’re not that important, Carl. You’re just a dickhead bully who’s basically given the town a giant wedgie for years.”

I have to admit, the stunned looks I’m getting feel pretty great.

“Tomorrow I’m crossing that bridge and anyone who wants to come with me is welcome, including the three of you. It’s time for us to leave this island, while we still can. Maybe there are others out there, maybe there aren’t, but at least we’ll know.”

I leave them to mull it over. Bernie is standing outside waiting for me.

“How’d it go?”

“Better than I thought. You and Sarah packed?”

“Yeah, us and just about everyone else in town. You sure about this, Bill? Should we wait and see if others want to come with us?”

“No, we need to strike while the iron is hot. We’ll let them know which way we’re going and let them catch up if they choose.”

Bernie nods his head in understanding. “You think they’ll come?”

“I don’t know, I hope so. As much as they annoy me, I don’t want to see them dead. As far as we know we’re all that’s left.”

“I’ll walk you home, I still don’t trust the council or their supporters. I wouldn’t put it past them to try something.”

I’m touched by the gesture then a thought occurs to me.

“I hope no one expects me to be the leader. That’s not what this is about.”

“Tough crap, Bill. I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone when I say we’re following you over the bridge. Like it or not, you’re the one we’re all looking to, to save our bacon.”

Once again I have no idea what to say so I keep my mouth shut. The walk back to my cabin is punctuated by many nods and smiles from my fellow townsfolk. I stand in front of my cabin for probably the last time.

“I’ll stand guard while you get some rest, old friend.”

“Thanks Bernie, you’ve always looked out for me.” I clap him on the back before opening my door. I’m not thrilled about being in charge of the town’s exodus but at least we are finally doing something proactive. I turn around and see Bernie standing arrow straight and looking serious as a heart attack. It makes me uncomfortable knowing he thinks of me as a leader.

“I think I’ll just sit out the next apocalypse, Bernie, It’s all just too much work”.

Of Panties and Pirates

I’m over thinking it. I’m sure she has a perfectly good reason for hiding a gun in her room. I can’t ask her because she’ll want to know what I was doing pawing around in her underwear drawer. Oh hell. I swallow my courage and go for broke.

“Jessie, can I ask you something and you not get upset?”

“I’m sure you could ask me many things and I wouldn’t get upset.”

She’s kind of sexy when she pulls that crap.

“You know what I mean.”

“It’s a loaded question isn’t it?” she asks and shoots me a flirty smile. “If I say yes and the question genuinely pisses me off, I’m screwed.” She puts her hands on her hip and juts it out to the side as if to say go ahead and ask, if you dare.

“What are you doing with a gun?”

“What gun?”

I pull the snub-nose from the small of my back and show it to her. She looks miffed.

“I’m pretty sure that one was in my underwear drawer.”

“Yeah, I found it while stealing a pair of your panties.” I pull a black and purple thong from my back pocket and hold it up next to the gun. She reaches out and snatches the tiny garment from my grasp. I’m kind of shocked at her speed.

“I assure you these are much deadlier than that little pea shooter.” She lets the silky fabric slide down her long outstretched finger. “You can keep that if you like, not nearly as fun to sniff but handier in a fight.”

She chuckles a bit as she seductively twirls her underwear for a second then slowly unzips her shirt. She leans in for a kiss. Everything about her turns me on. She has the softest lips.

Captain Onus,” The damn pilot picks the worst possible time to interrupt. “Sensors have picked up a ship on intercept course.” Damn.

“Duty calls,” she says. She reaches over and hits the door button then steps aside so I can leave first. She makes a show of zipping up her shirt as I walk past. She smacks me on the ass as she passes me in the hall on the way to the bridge. Actually it’s more of a cockpit than bridge. It’s really no more than a bunch of controls and a couple seats in the front of her ship. I watch her climb into her chair. Her pants cling to her like second skin.

“What do we have?”

The ship to ship com answers her question. “Attention trader vessel. You are targeted. Power down and prepare to be boarded.

My stomach flips as visions of a gruesome death form in my head.

“Power down and lets get to the air lock,” says Jessie. “We don’t want to give them any reasons to attack. If we do what they want it will be over quick and no one gets hurt.”

“Are you serious?” I ask. “We’re just going to roll over and let them pirate us?”

“These are Gordon’s men. I’ve dealt with them before. They’re kind of like a big dog humping your leg. Annoying, but it’s best to let them finish.”

I don’t like it but it’s her ship. The three of us leave the bridge and head to the cargo area to await the boarding party. It takes about five minutes for the pirates to maneuver and dock and another two before the airlocks pressurize. The door swings open and two men spill onto the ship, guns ready.

“Hello lovelies. You know how this works. I stand here with this big gun pointed at your heads while Carl here, helps improve your fuel economy by lightening your load.”

“Good one, Earl,” Carl laughs. He’s probably heard that joke a hundred times before. He shoves his gun in his pants and gets to work stealing Jessie’s cargo. It’s slow going. My legs are getting tired from standing so I lean against the wall. The little snub-nose pokes me in my back. I mindlessly stuffed it in my pants after the intercom put an end to my extracurricular activities. If I screw this up we’re all dead. Maybe I should just forget it and-.

Halfway through my thought the lummox Carl drops a shipping container on his foot causing Earl to turn around and see what’s going on. I have the gun out before any semblance of rational thought can stop me. I fire a shot and hit Carl in the back of the head. Adrenaline gets in the way of my second shot which merely grazes Earl’s cheek.

Jessie seizes the opportunity to attack Earl. They’re locked in a deadly embrace. I don’t have clear shot. The melee ends and it’s an old fashioned stand off. I have my gun pointed at Earl and he has his arm around Jessie’s neck with his gun against her temple.

“God damn it, you killed Carl!” His eyes are wild and blood is streaming from the newly formed trench in his cheek, courtesy of my duffed shot. “Drop it or your girlfriend dies.”

I’m stuck. There’s no way out of it. I start to lower my gun knowing full well I’m a dead man. It’s been a good life; I only hope I buy Jessie enough time to do something once he takes his shot.

Jessie doesn’t like that plan. Instead she throws her head backward. Her skull collides with his nose. It’s a terrible sound. She spins around him and somehow manages to wrap something around his neck. It doesn’t take long for Earl to run out of air. She pushes him away as he slumps to the floor.

She looks over at me and shakes her head. She holds up her purple and black thong and shoots me another one of those flirty smiles.

“Told ya these are deadly.”