Sitting ducks

Day 04: Duck
No Novel November 2020

“Look at me, marine! Eyes front!”

I grab Ellis by her shoulder guards and haul her to me so our plexiglass visors contact. Her eyes are huge, almost all pupil, the leftover whites streaked red from stims. Sweat streams down her dark skin. I can feel her shaking through the armor.

She tries to push past me to the ship. “No chance, Sargent!” I lock the powergrip on my glove. “You move, we’re both dead.” Empathy’s a risky play, but she stops.

I glance up. It’s still coming—fast.

Bile in my throat, I lock eyes with Ellis. “Listen up, marine! You don’t do anything before I say. You do only what I say. Copy?”

“Sir, yes, sir!”

I mark time. Every readout on my headsup is red. But I don’t need it. I can already see the teeth. The scales. Whatever the hell it’s using for eyes.




We slam flat to the ground. Endocrine sensors flood me with stims, giving me the boost I need to barrel roll our half-ton weight into the nearest crater.

The noise of the thing plowing into the surface is nothing compared to the explosion when it hits our ship’s plasma core. A firework of shrapnel and meat bursts overhead.

And then it’s over.

Ellis and I lay there a long time, coated in guts and not saying a word. Just sucking pure oxygen and trying not to puke.

Then I radio Command. We’re going to need a ride home.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here. 

Throw away the key

Day 17: Keyhole
No Novel November 2019

He’ll be furious when he finds out. But the cocktail of drugs she mixed into his coffee that morning will ensure that won’t be until she’s long gone.

She dangles her toes into the freezing lake water, relishing the change from the stifling house. The floating dock sways gently beneath her. The motion is smooth and calming—so unlike the way she’s been handled these past three years. She feels as if she could fall asleep here. Not that she will. It’s going to be a long time before she’s safe enough to rest anywhere.

The key beeps again, a warning that it’s too far from its biometrically-bonded owner. From him. She pulls the thing out of her pocket, admiring its unique cross-section, watching the blue lights flicker. Such a small thing. So fragile. So cruel.

Without allowing herself a chance to change her mind, she launches the key in a high arc that ends neatly in the center of the lake.

As it sinks, the hole in her chest starts to burn. The device inside is overheating, melting the microfilaments and nanochips that bind her to him. Perfect fingernails snap on the wooden dock as she silently endures the pain. A distant part of her wonders why they’d program that in; a different part has no such questions.

And then it’s over. It’s done.

She breathes in shakily as a smile twitches on her lips. Never again can anyone else have control over her heart—she’s free.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.