Author : Roi R. Cechvala, Alumnus
Graham Banyon was enjoying a television retrospective, “2012: The Mayans Were Right and Other Crackpot Beliefs”, when a tremendous explosion rocked the house. “Damn kids,” he muttered. With a weary sigh he rose from his chair and walked to the back door. He looked up at the moon hanging low in the sky. The last orange rays of the sun waned lazily in the west.
“What the hell are you kids doing out there,” he half heartedly bellowed at a scarred and slightly smoking tool shed. The shed had a slightly guilty look he thought.
“Just a little experiment in cold fusion, Pop,” said the shed amidst a flurry of childish giggles.
“Cold fusion does not go “BOOM”. What are you kids up to?” Graham noticed that several shrubs and a small tree were also smouldering slightly. The tree did not appear to be happy about it’s current state of thermal affairs.
“Nothing, Pop,” the shed replied, as it shuddered from what appeared to be a smaller secondary explosion, “Um… would you get us some more uranium?”
“Ha,” cried Graham, “I knew it wasn’t cold fusion. What happened to the uranium I bought you last week?”
“That’s yellow cake. We need something fissionable,” the shed said as it’s battered roof settled an inch lower with a groan.
“Absolutely not. I haven’t forgotten what you did to Mrs. McNutt’s dog last month. By the way, did you manage to get it back?”
The shed paused a reflective moment before replying. “Not all of it.” A gale of laughter followed.
“Well… um… play nice,” Graham said, remonstrating himself for a somewhat lacklustre admonishment.
Graham turned and entered his pleasant Cape Cod style home and settled back in his recliner, un-pausing his documentary and took a sip of sweet green iced tea.
He must have dozed off, for when he woke his wall screen was set to a pastoral image of the Jovian system. Europa waned a crescent. Graham knew instinctively that something was wrong. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something was definitely not right. He bolted for the airlock of his habitation unit.
The small geodesic dome situated among a bed of Venusian squorn worm plants had erupted in raucous laughter. “I close my eyelids for two seconds and you kids have cooked up another mess. What is it this time?”
“Nothing, Pop. Isn’t everything okay?” The dome failed to stifle a string of titters.
“Yes, everything is quite okay. That’s how I know something is wrong.” Graham’s current round of logic momentarily baffled him. “Wait a minute. Have you two been messing around with temporal/spatial flux again?”
“What makes you think that, Pop,” the dome answered. Gales of laughter poured through the dome’s slightly irised portal. “How could we…” Before the dome could finish it’s sentence, it quickly blinked out of existence with a nearly inaudible “pop”.
Graham could only imagine that the dome and his two sons within, had been destroyed by a miniature black hole of their own creation. Crushed to death by the tidal forces of the most powerful gravitational field in the universe.
His beloved sons. Gone.
“Well,” he mused to himself as he stared into the twilit sky of Mars, “at least it will be quiet around here.”
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Alumnus
Only bits remained. Three stars, a bit of blue and two stripes, one red, one white. They left it to fly in mockery of the country they had defeated. Theirs was a country that valued pride above all. To lose face was worse than death. To them, the abused flag represented the decadence, weakness of the defeated. To fly such a rag was meant as a slap in the face. From the other side of the black, wrought iron fence, MSG Ray Coulter saw it as a sign of hope.
As he descended the steps to what had been an underground parking garage, thirty two men came to attention. “At ease. I’m not a fucking officer.”
“No, but you’ll do in a pinch,” someone joked. A ripple of laughter washed over the men.
“Knock it off.” He removed a set of greasy Carhartts, revealing a chameleon skin uniform beneath. He settled a tan Ranger’s beret on his head and paused the uniform’s camouflage. “They’re getting lax, now is the time. We go tonight.”
The men jockeyed for position around a battered banquet table as he pulled an Army issued computer from his pocket and smoothed it out on the pitted surface. It sprang to life showing an aerial view of the Asiatic Command compound. Red x’s marked their intended firing positions. “I want the MK19s placed here and here. Johnson, did you get that 203 fixed?”
“Yeah Sarge. Good as new.”
“Good. That gives us six. Twenty rounds each. With an automatic grenade launcher front and back; three hundred rounds each and three men with 203s on each flank, here, here and here,” he said, tapping the computer with a grimy finger. “We’ll have the place levelled before they know what hit them. The rest will provide covering fire for a hasty withdrawal. Don’t fire unless you have to. Conserve rifle ammo. When the shit hits the fan, the slopes will be on us like white on rice and we don’t have ammo to spare. Make those shots count. Questions?”
Most shook their heads or grunted in the negative. A tentative voice spoke up. “Hey Sarge, I know the place is filled with chinks, but it still doesn’t seem right to dest… OOOF.” He was silenced by a jab to the gut amidst muttered requests to “Shut the fuck up.”
“Any other questions?” Master Sergeant Coulter asked through gritted teeth.
“Uh… no Sarge. Sorry Sarge,” the duly chastened soldier gasped.
“Right. Let’s move out.”
MSG Coulter, crouched behind the MK19 crew on the compounds south side. He clicked his teeth, opening the company freq and subvoked, “This is Blue One. Cardinal positions report by the numbers, over.”
“Blue Two east. Patrol. Two men and a dog. Machine gun nest thirty metres forward and left my position. Over.”
“Blue Three north. Machine gun nest thirty metres my twelve. One Tank. It’s hover skirts are deflated and is grounded. It appears to be idling. Minimal threat. Over”
“Blue Four west. One nest. Two man one dog patrol passing my right. Coming your way. Over.”
“All right. Grenadiers. Take those nests out first. We don’t need to be lit from the rear during withdrawal. One round each. White One north. Frag tank first, nest second. On my command.” Coulter choked up uttering one single word. “FIRE.”
A Ranger, a decorated combat soldier of the Army of the former United States, a man used to divesting others of their birthdays, Master Sergeant Raymond R. Coulter, wept openly as the delicately rounded portico of the White House crumbled under a barrage of high explosive grenades.
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Alumnus
I stood over him. His blood made a growing pool as it exited the wound in his back. The ounce slug of lead had gone all the way through. He looked up at me with crazed eyes. He raised his hands to me. He tried to speak, but choked on pink, foamy slime, evidence that his lungs were shredded. For one brief moment he achieved clarity. His eyes steadied. I think he smiled before he died.
When he woke up that morning, he didn’t know he was going to die. He probably had plans for the day. Perhaps a dinner date. Maybe he still had a father somewhere that used to take him fishing. A father that would mourn him. Someone who loved him.
I guess I should have felt something. Something at the death of a fellow human being. I felt nothing but revulsion. He knew the law. He knew the penalty for his actions. For his disgusting behaviour. For his loathsome ways. There were no innocent parties. I slipped the Mossberg back into the sheath strapped to my thigh and climbed back in the growler.
As we left the scene I called for a meat wagon to pick up what was left of the human flotsam. Before I closed the door, I took one last look down at the black and white caricature of a human being below me. The tragic figure seemed to spin slowly as we spiraled up into the traffic pattern. I must have been looking down longer than I thought. My partner, Sergeant Ray Chavez, tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at his throat mike. I tapped my temple and activated my earwig. His voice came through loud and strong despite the rush of air from the open door.
“Hey buddy, what’s up? You seem a little quiet today.”
I had to put all my weight against the door to pull it down and shut. I sat for a moment thinking about his seemingly innocuous question. “Just thinking,” I said.
“Yeah? What about?”
I considered his question. I thought of the body lying there on the pavement a thousand feet below. The curled lips caught in the gruesome rictus of death. The twisted body. The face and features contorted, resembling a bizarre, nightmarish image caught in the black and white photograph of a bygone era.
“I was just thinking,” I said when I finally spoke, “how much I fucking hate mimes.”
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Alumnus
The sky was dark. So dark the streetlights came on at noon. A storm was on the rise. He paid the weather scant attention. The sudden cold gust barely reached him. He merely rolled his shoulders deeper into his battered leather duster and plodded on.
The rain began to fall. Slowly at first. Large pregnant drops exploded on the pavement. By the time he reached his destination it had transformed into a driving rain that stung the skin and limited vision to a few feet. If not for the collision avoidance systems in every car and controls slaved to the commuting grid, automobiles would have been plunging from the sky like polycarbonate hailstones.
He rapped a seemingly random tattoo on a battered plastic door set into a dingy alcove of a particularly dingy building. Instantly the door irised open. Though the man was big, close to two metres and 126 kilograms, the beast who opened the door dwarfed him. The muscles in his neck appeared to have trouble getting out of the way of one another. Slight scars showed wherever his skin was exposed to view. Evidence of cheap muscle grafts. This was clearly done for pragmatic reasons, aesthetics be damned.
“Preacher. Nice to see you again. It’s been a while.” The voice was reminiscent of house sized boulders crushing a serene Swiss village during an avalanche. The tone suggested that there would be no survivors.
The man grunted an unintelligible greeting, removed his respirator and made his way down a dimly lit hallway. He stopped before an ornate oaken door, out of place in the crumbling brick wall. With a black gloved hand, he turned the polished brass ring. Locked. With a sigh, he placed both hands against the door and pushed. The massive door exploded from its hinges and sailed across the room, splintering against a wall covered in rich tapestries.
“I knew they’d send you.”
The Preacher said nothing. He pulled an archaic weapon from beneath his coat and levelled it at a slightly built and rather effeminate man. The report from the Smith & Wesson .500 shook dust free from the bookcases and shelves that lined the room. The half inch diameter lead slug made a small, neat hole in the faerie’s chest. It made a ragged, fist sized hole exiting his back before it came to a stop three inches into the thick panelled wall.
The Preacher flipped the weapons cylinder open, retrieved the empty brass casing, placed it delicately in his pocket and replaced it with a fresh cartridge. He returned the ancient revolver to a shoulder rig opposite its twin and made his way back down the hall. The mobile pile of rock hard flesh blocked the door.
“Guess I’m unemployed.”
The Preacher said nothing.
“You didn’t do me any favours you know. Gonna be hard to get a job after this. My fault I guess, should have picked my employer more carefully. Well, nice seeing you again.” The bodyguard affixed his own respirator, ducked beneath the door frame and disappeared into the rain.
In the brief time he had been out of the elements, the rain had transformed the empty street into a violent river that threatened to wash over the broken sidewalk. In the dim glow from the hovering street lamps he could see the oily sheen on the waters surface. The rain was always oily. “How can rain be oily”, he wondered, as he made his way down the deserted street.
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
“Thank you for calling BIOMEK customer support. My name is Tammy, how may I help you today?”
“Hi Tammy, I’m having a little problem with my domestic. I am a little frustrated here. I hope you can help me.”
“I am sorry to hear that. I’ll do my best to help you. Before we begin I’ll need the registration number of your BIOMEK domestic.”
“I have the number around here somewhere, oh yes, here it is. It’s T11H38X.”
“Thank you Ma’am. Let me just enter that and take a look at your account… Hmm… I see you had a prior issue with this product.”
“Yes, we had a poodle and one of the options we purchased with the domestic was the pet grooming download.”
“Yes Ma’am, and what was the problem?”
“There was… unpleasantness.”
“Well, we didn’t find all of Precious.”
“I am so sorry to hear that. I know how you must feel. I’m a dog lover too. I was so sad when we had to put little Tinkerbell down when the new line of Dachshunds were released. What is the issue you are currently having with your BIOMEK home domestic unit?”
“Well, the domestic answered the door when the letter carrier arrived this morning.”
“The front porch is quite a mess.”
“Oh dear. And the mailman?”
“Pieces I’m afraid. It’s the Precious incident all over again.”
“Have you informed the authorities Ma’am?”
“No. Do you really think I should?”
“Yes Ma’am, I rather think you should. After all, there are others waiting for their mail.”
“I hadn’t though of that. Yes, I wouldn’t want my neighbours inconvenienced. There would be talk at the next neighbourhood association meeting. It’s a gated community you know.”
“Well, we wouldn’t want that. Okay Ma’am, I see your product is still under warranty. I will issue a repair order. I just need a little information first to update your account. Would you please verify?”
“Oh Dear. Oh No. I’m sorry, I will have to call you back. I have to go. I’ll be calling you right back.”
“The children just arrived home from school.”