Inigo struggled against the duct tape, trying to work his hands loose. John Kennedy backhanded him.
â€œI told you to knock that off. You sit still till weâ€™re done.â€
Inigo felt fluid running down from his nose over the silver tape on his lips. Blood ran into his throat and Inigo tried not to choke. He concentrated on breathing though his one good nostril, determined not to let himself pass out
Three men wearing electronic hologram masks were loading trash bags into Inigos house. The masks were all of former presidents. Washington and the post sex-change Clinton were doing the heavy lifting while Kennedy stood next to Inigo, holding a laser pistol in his right hand. Inigo watched them carry a broken couch up the stairs in horror. A full couch would cost thousands of dollars to dispose of, even on the black market.
Kennedy ruffled Inigos long hair. â€œYouâ€™ve got lots of space, donâ€™t you? Youâ€™re not gonna mind our little gifts.â€ Inigo felt like he was on fire, like his eyes were about to burst from his head. The waste, the broken electronics, the clothes, all this stuff would cost a fortune to get rid of. Trash didnâ€™t go cheap, and each year the government charged more to take it away. He had inherited this house from his father, and had worked hard to keep it free from garbage. His garden and compost pile allowed him to keep waste to a minimum. These men were destroying years of hard conservation. Inigo silently vowed to rip them to shreds.
â€œLook at how mad he looks? Shit boys, heâ€™s turned red heâ€™s so mad.â€ Kennedy laughed. Washington and Clinton ignored them and kept moving bags into the house.
If he hadnâ€™t been sleeping when they entered the house, this would have never happened. Ingio cursed his deep sleep. As a child, he had slept though earthquakes and hurricanes and now he had slept though a Clutter Mob breaking into his house. If he had been awake, he could have taken all three of them, even if Kennedy did have a laser pistol.
Ingio tried to calm his heartbeat. He didnâ€™t want Eugene coming home, not now. The heart sensor had seemed so romantic when they bought it in Second Paris but now it felt like a liability. If Eugene felt Inigos racing heartbeat through the sensor, he might come home to see what was wrong. Eugene, the chemistry student, would faint in front of men like this. If Eugene knew that Inigo was in danger, his heart would be beating wildly. Even a mouse made Eugene startle. Inigo closed his dark eyes and concentrated. Distantly, he could feel Eugeneâ€™s calm, steady heartbeat. Eugene was safe, probably studying in a quiet library somewhere. Inigo said a silent prayer of thanks to whatever deity was watching over them.
â€œHey, you asleep?â€ Kennedy smacked Inigos face.
A crack broke in the air and all the presidents jumped. There was a loud whirring sound and then all the lights went out. Inigo recognized the strange sound. It was an EMP pulse. Eugene had made a handheld EMP in one of his graduate classes, and had taken great joy in showing it off. Inigo blinked, and saw that the hologram masks had disappeared.
â€œOh, thatâ€™s too bad.â€ Said Kennedy, now a strange older man. â€œYou saw our faces. Now youâ€™ve gotta die.â€ The Ex-president pressed the laser pistol into Inigos forehead. Inigo resolved to die with his eyes open. Kennedy pulled the trigger.
â€œYou morons.â€ Eugene stood, the outline of his long coat silhouetted in the doorway. â€œYour guns use electricity. Theyâ€™re dead.â€ Eugene held his sword in front of him, the edge flashing in the low light. â€œThis, however, is still plenty sharp.â€
Kennedy launched himself at Eugene, holding the dead pistol like a club. Eugene sidestepped him and brought the sword down on the back of his knee. Kennedy roared as he fell. Clinton, now a burly blond, squealed and ran past Inigo out the back door.
Washington charged at Eugene, shoulders low, trying to knock him over like a linebacker. Eugene swiped his blade and Inigo saw the man fall forward choking. Inigo heard a car start. Kennedy limped towards the front door but Eugene was behind him, following like a vengeful spirit. Eugene punched the hilt of his sword into the back of Kennedyâ€™s head. He fell forward against the door handle and hit the floor with a thud.
Eugene ran to Inigo and slowly pulled the duct tape from his lovers face. â€œThe police are on their way. I called them as soon as I felt your heart go wild.â€ Eugene swept his hands over Inigos body. â€œDid they hurt you?â€
â€œIâ€™ll kill them. Iâ€™ll have vengeance.â€
Eugene unwrapped the tape from Inigoâ€™s wrists. â€œInigo, donâ€™t worry, theyâ€™ll pay. Legally. If we have to, weâ€™ll find a way to get rid of this stuff together. Itâ€™s just a new challenge.â€
Inigo wiped the blood from his lip with the back of his hand. â€œI worked so hard.â€
Inigo looked over at Eugene, one eyebrow arched. â€œCan I ask you something?â€
â€œI thought I knew everything about you, but here you somehow know how to swordfight like a master.â€
â€œThatâ€™s not a question.â€
â€œEugene, how can you be a master swordsman, but be afraid of the food that gets caught in the kitchen sink?â€
â€œIâ€™m not really that great at sword fighting. Iâ€™m very rusty.â€ Eugene took a handkerchief out of his coat and handed it to Inigo. â€œI used to spar with the finest swordfighter in the world. But that was a long time ago.â€
Ingio let Eugene help him to his feet. He leaned against his lover, his legs numb from being taped to the chair legs. â€œIt was very sexy Eugene. It was a side of you I would very much like to get to know better.â€
Eugene blushed. â€œThank you.â€
â€œI canâ€™t feel your heartbeat anymore.â€ Inigo rubbed his hands on his chest. â€œIt feels empty.â€
â€œThe EMP pulse must have knocked the transmitter out.â€ Eugene pressed Inigos hands over his heart. â€œBut itâ€™s here, and will always be here for you.â€ They kissed, hand overlapping their hearts.
365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.
The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.
"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."
We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.
Voices of Tomorrow
Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.
If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org