[Estimated reading time: 7 minutes]
[Author's note: this story is set in December 2020.]
I hop the train before texting, sure of the outcome already. Kevin will see the text, will debate himself, will lose, and we'll have a fun night in. It's that simple. I know the exact train, so this is a photo finish as I'm the last one aboard.
In the train, I find a seat behind a yuppie couple. They are heading back from their "First Time in the Big City", it's written on their faces. They smile those idiot grins, but only for the first couple of days, then they pick up the "local look", and panhandlers know to avoid them.
I set the sting on them, leave it running in my backpack. On my phone I watch their internet traffic and wonder who these two are.
[Estimated reading time: 19 minutes]
Author’s note: this is a work in progress.
"I don't normally do unpacking videos," I speak from behind the camera, "but this is like something out of sci-fi, so let's do it!
"OK, the box is out. Not too big, see. Not exactly what I was expecting, but no matter. Here's the collar, charging brick, cable. Hmm. And a cute little informational pamphlet. Let's forget about that for now.
"Thor, come here buddy! Yeah, who's a good girl? You are! Gosh, you just know when the camera's rolling, don't you? Of course you do! You're gonna be a star soon, gonna need to get you an agent..."
[Estimated reading time: 5 minutes]
[Editor's note: this is a work in progress, there will be part 2.]
Princess Salina walked out onto her balcony and shuddered as the cold night air bit at her ankles, forearms, and face. She was clothed in dark-blue dress, a lamb-skin jacket on top of this. A pair of boots and an eared hat, made from the same material, completed her ensemble. On her back was a black leather satchel.
She walked across the spacious balcony to its edge, where a thigh-high barrier separated her from a drop of several hundred feet down to the river and the falls below. A nearby fire illuminated her face. Tears sparkled in the darkness for a moment, before she wiped them away.
A locket hung around Salina's neck, a silver and gold beetle adorned with a few small rubies. She opened the locket and looked at the half-dozen small rough pebbles inside it. She picked up two pebbles and dropped them into the fire. In moments the small stones began to sputter and emitted a pungent and very purple smoke. Salina watched as the column of it rose in the night's quiet air.
A soft, familiar clatter of keratin-on-rock came as Kim the royal pet sauntered over.
"Hey old girl," the princess welcomed her old friend and ran a hand through the leopard's mane. "Not long now. We're going our separate ways, and where I go, you cannot follow."
"I'll miss you," purred Kim.
[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]
My work is about a two mile walk from our house, so most non-rainy days I enjoy a brisk walk back home and ponder on the day's events.
Some days, like today, we have happy hour at work and I get a bit tipsy. You know how it is: get a couple of sampler-size portions in you, a beer or two - or three high-alcohol stouts - and suddenly I'm very social and happy and smiling and patting every "buddy" on the back.
I'm walking back through the nearly dark streets when my phone rings. It's Lauren!
[Estimated reading time: 7 minutes]
[Editor's note: this is fiction.]
The sky is the color of steel, the cold gray of the coffin. She would have loved it. The sun of the south was too violent, and the Pacific Northwest cloudy weather matched her soul. She would have loved attending her own funeral. A light drizzle came and went right in the middle. The flowers fell on damp earth. None of us brought umbrellas, she would think it's sacrilegious. We cried and mourned. I left early.
I went to the south, down to my pier, got in my boat and set off. It was early afternoon. The sky grew cloudier and darker by the minute, the wind sang louder.
It was cold, the drizzle a persistent beat on every surface of the world, but the sea was calm, and I pushed out into the sound.