Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
“You’re dead.” She said. Her voice was ice. Her eyes held no emotion.
“So you say.” I lit a cigarette, exhaling blue smoke towards the ceiling.
“That’s illegal you know.”
I snapped the antique lighter shut. “What are they going to do? Kill me?” I barked a laugh, which startled her back to reality.
“I don’t understand,” she choked back a sob. “Why do you do this to me? I loved you, I’ve always loved you, and you only keep coming back to hurt me.”
Poor kid. I really should never have done that to her. She never deserved it. She was too good for me. But hey, I’m a prick.
Or used to be. I’m dead now. Or at least the part that used to be me is dead; the essence, the being, the divine spark, the soul if you will. Whatever you may call it, the ghost in the machine fled, and all that is left is this unfeeling automaton. The memories of Gerry Carter are still here, that’s a certainty, but I….he has moved on, leaving only a morbid, morose creature behind.
“Why are you doing this? You were my world. I gave you everything, our children, my very life to save you.”
She was beautiful. Forty five and three children later, she was still beautiful. Long dark red hair and longer legs. She always kept dinner for me. Always greeted me at the door. Whenever she discovered my indiscretions she forgave me, and asked what she did to make me stray.
She turned on me with sudden venom. “You’re dead Gerald. Why do you keep rising again to torment me? What have I done to deserve this?”
“Nothing… I don’t know…,” my voice cracked. I violate the very laws of Death just for a few minutes with her. Just to see those clear blue eyes, those auburn tresses.
“I love you I guess,” I said, shrugging like an embarrassed little school boy.
“Love me? You love me? You fucking bastard. Don’t you dare use that word with me. A corpse can’t love.” She spat in my face.
“Look, can’t I just…,”
“What you can do is end this farce. Leave me alone. No more resurrections, please. I can’t take it anymore.” Her shoulders slumped. Her voice, shrill only moments ago, was now empty and without hope.
“Is that what you really want?”
“That’s what I want,” she said, her voice flat.
She didn’t say a word as I raised the pistol and pointed it at her forehead. She stood before me defiantly, proudly. Her shoulders thrown back and her head held high.
The .45 slug made a neat round hole in her skull. I was amazed every time that there was so little blood from the wound. She crumpled straight to the floor, as if she was standing supported, and then instantly those supports had been ripped away.
As always, I stood over her wondering what I could have done differently. What I should have done to begin with. What led me to kill the only women I had ever loved. Or thought I had at any rate.
I shed not one tear as I bent to pick her up, her fragile body almost weightless in my arms. I placed her body in the Jesus tank. The rejuvenating fluids glowed ivory around her. She would be ready for resurrection in another year. The anniversary of her death. She had taken her own life rather than embarrass me with a divorce.
She was right; is right, I am a heartless, soulless individual, a ghoul.
I am dead.
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
President James Jonathon Mathews spent the first evening of his administration alone staring out the window of the Oval Office. He contemplated the events that had led him to this moment. He considered the countless intertwined series of decisions and strategies, the deception and intrigue that had delivered him to this, the final pinnacle, the end of the game.
He turned and sat at his desk. Slowly, with great deliberation he reached out and pressed the intercom.
“Mrs. Rigby, please get me the joint chiefs.”
“Oh, and is Whitcomb out there,” he added.
“Yes Mr. President, of course,” came a matronly voice.
“When they arrive, send him in as well.”
The president leaned back in his overstuffed leather chair and carelessly exhaled a blue cloud of cigar smoke towards the ceiling. He took a deep swallow of bourbon, and pondered the outcome of the moves he would soon make.
Within fifteen minutes the office was filled with military uniforms and, aside from the president, a civilian in a neat blue suit and close cropped hair, handcuffed to a briefcase.
“Whitcomb, the football if you please,” the president said in a low even voice.
The assembled Generals and Admiral winced as Whitcomb emotionlessly uncuffed the briefcase, spun a pair of combination locks, opened the lid and deposited it on the desk before the president.
Inside the briefcase were a ten digit keypad, a palm print scanner and a single ominous black button. The assembled men had all assumed it would be red.
General of the Army Paul Bellows spoke up. “Mr. President, certainly there are other avenues to explore before…,” He was silenced with a slight wave of the president’s hand.
He picked up the handset of his telephone. “Mrs. Rigby? Get Dmitri on the line please.”
“Mr. President, please reconsider. At the very least, think of how history will remember you. Think of your legacy,” pleaded Admiral Kearney, desperation evident in his eyes. His pleas were ignored.
It was five in the morning Moscow time, the pink tint of false dawn was just beginning to outline St. Basil’s Cathedral, when Dmitri Ilyanov Sakharov, President of the Russian Federation picked up the phone. “Hello Ivan, I’ve been expecting your call.”
“Dmitri old friend, it’s finally over. It has been a long time.”
Over the president’s phone an audible sigh was heard, followed by a long pause. “Yes old friend, it has been a very long time.”
“Checkmate Dmitri. Das vidanya,” the president returned the phone to its cradle. He entered a series of numbers on the keypad, placed his hand on the scanner and crushed the button beneath his palm.
Across both of those two vast countries, indeed, across the world as a whole, people were told that this was not a test. They were told where to tune for further instruction. Many fell to their knees and prayed. Others turned weapons on themselves, hastening the inevitable. Most just hung their heads and wept.
Brilliant balls of orange fire rode columns of billowing white smoke across the skies of two great countries.
Those same skies suddenly turned a brilliant searing white.
Two creatures, men possibly, sat alone in a room. A room so vast there were no discernible boundaries. Perhaps there were none. On a table between the two, a chessboard sat. One pushed over his king.
“Good game Dmitri,” one said, as he reassembled the board. He turned it so that the white pieces faced his opponent, “this time… you go first.”
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
The drop from orbit was as uneventful as they ever are, and if they’re not you usually don’t live long enough for it to bother you. Grounding was pretty hard though.
After I gathered my senses I saw that somebody’s leg had snapped off and was lying right in front of me. That’s gonna suck for somebody I thought to myself, then I noticed the bright green and blue ident tags. It was mine. Shit.
The rear door of the troop boat fell, and I managed to hustle out and form up with as much agility as I could muster. I wondered if I’d get any down time to re-grow it. Yeah right. My attention was diverted when our CO called us to attention.
“Listen up maggots, you are the sorriest bunch of pupae that I have ever seen, but I guess I’m stuck with you.” We beamed with reflected pride. This was the best outfit in the entire division and she knew it. It had been since before I hatched. This was the CO’s way of showing us her respect.
“It isn’t going to be easy. The enemy is well trained, and skilled in all forms of combat. But they are extremely vulnerable. A carapace blast we would hardly feel boils away their bodies in an instant. You have your orders, fall out.”
It was nest to nest combat. Why couldn’t the aliens live underground like normal people. My friend “Stench”, she had a thing for fermented dung, disgusting, was my battle buddy. She was a good three segments longer than I, so I had no fears, no matter what we went up against.
For the most part it was a routine mop up. I lost another foreleg, but nothing major happened until we came upon that one dwelling.
In the more civilized space below the above ground construction, we came across one of the creatures with a brood of it’s young clustered about. Instantly Stench and I laid waste to the young while it yanked at it’s head growth, and hurled unintelligible noise at us. Within seconds they were all dead, little more than bubbling puddles of tasty looking goo. The adult creature, apparently a female, lay in a heap shuddering violently yet silently.
Stench flipped it over and deftly slashed open it’s thorax with her pincer. Her midsection bloomed like a moist red flower. In the centre of the blossom was an incomplete version of the adult form.
My mind ran to my own hatchlings. How would I feel if a thousand or so were brutally murdered?
“Hey,” I asked Stench, “do you really think what we are doing here is right? I mean, what have they ever…,”
“Don’t worry about it buddy,” Stench interrupted, stroking my antennae with hers releasing calming pheromones, “God is on Our side.”
Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
Purple waves gently lap at an azure beach. Our footprints quickly wash away in the encroaching tide. The setting twin suns of Rijos, the red giant aptly named Rojo, and her blue companion Danube cast an eerily beautiful violet light on the endless expanse of beach.
We walk hand in hand, her flowing red hair reflecting a dazzling colour for which I have no name.
“It’s so beautiful,” she whispers, almost too low to hear, “I wish we could stay here forever.”
“We can,” I replied, stroking her cheek, casually pushing back a loose strand of hair, “we will.”
We sit down to watch Danube make his death plunge into the smooth waters of the sea. We lay down to sleep
In a shabby, cramped yet somehow immaculate room the bodies of two elderly people lay on a cold, brushed stainless steel table. A technician in a coffee stained lab coat watches as his colleague removes the electrodes from their shaven pates and wipes away the conductive saline gel.
The bodies are those of a man and woman well into their centenary years, ravaged by time, hands locked tightly to one another, inseparable even in death.
As the technician carefully cleans and replaces the electrodes in their foam lined drawer and prepares the bodies for further processing, his companion stares intently at the flickering glow of the readouts on his iPadd.
“Marbling good, protein quality high, lipids fine…,” he mumbles as he checks off a box on his list.
“Hey Arnie,” he calls to his friend wheeling the bodies through battered double doors, “I’ll bet Edward G. Robinson would get one hell of a laugh out of this.”
Author : Roi R, Czechvala, Staff Writer
Charred bodies littered the streets. The blackened faces frozen in the horrible rictus of death. They had been men and women once. Children. Families who had laughed, lived and loved together, reduced to carbonized grotesques of human beings.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Stouffer laid down his collider rifle and for the first time since he was a child ,he wept. His tears formed neat craters on the ash covered pavement. Pulling himself together, and in a voice perhaps too harsh to cover his shame, he barked his orders.
“Awright Marines, saddle up. This is our house, and we have some cleaning to do. We have a gift for the slopes that did this.” He picked up his rifle and held it aloft. He was answered with a deafening “OOORAHHH” as the men scrambled to the lifters and strapped in.
Seven drop ships lifted into the dim twilight of Europa’s sky and merged with the carrier in geosynch orbit above. Within minutes the ship held position over Chien Kai, the outer most settlement of the Asiatic Alliance.
The population of the outpost consisted primarily of scientists and their families, with a small military contingent mainly for internal security. Aside from the Tesla Field containing the colony’s atmosphere and providing protection from the lethal Jovian radiation, the complex was defenceless.
Seven sleek flat black drop ships descended like avenging angels around the dome of the T-field. The complex had been built years before the war began. For safety’s sake the field generator was outside the field. Directly beside the spot where the lead ship had grounded.
The entire population spilled out of the warren of buildings and bunkers. They watched as the ships disgorged 210 Marines. Collider rifles in hand, singularity grenades hanging from their web gear. Their small arms were incapable of harming the near impregnable T-field.
They didn’t have to.
The men and women watched in confusion at first, then in horror as the realization of the unfolding events became clear. The marines, clad in black armoured battle suits formed a semi-circle around the generator. Inside the protective shimmering barrier the inhabitants watched.
Stouffer swaggered up, barely a yard separating him from the citizens of Chien Kai. Citizens no more but prisoners awaiting execution. They watched him, a wide grin splitting his face. Some sobbed openly, pulling at their hair. The small group of soldiers screamed and waved their weapons in impotent rage, but most wept silently, clinging to loved ones, stoically awaiting their fate.
A marine broke ranks and grabbed Stouffer’s shoulder. Tears streaming down his face. “Gunny, do we really have to do this? So many have already died. We’re the only ones out here. What good will it do?”
Gunny Stouffer’s grin widened, then quickly broke and fell as he thought back to the discovery of his own family less than an hour before. “You’re right,” he keyed his helmet mike to the company freq, “Everybody back to your ships.” As one the men snapped to and beat a hasty retreat to their lifters. “Not you corporal, you stay here.”
Before he vaporized the generator and watched as the faintly glowing womb of the Tesla field failed; before he gloated as five hundred people suffocated, their eyes bulging from their sockets; he raised his rifle and burned down the young corporal where he stood.