We've an interesting threesome of stories for you now covering such diverse topics as frogs, rockets (ahem!) with premature ignition, drones and the fine art of falconry in the 21st century. Our writers are Robin White, Larry Hinkle and Xavid Pretzing.
by Robin White
I hate the way frogs look at you, and I hate the way they talk. In three-piece suits and absurd little hats, they stroll around like they own the Earth, beating you out for taxis and leaping over condos.
I’m the last human executive at Conde Nast, and the board meetings are special. I sit in a room of amphibians, ignoring their smirking, trying not to inhale their smell. They eat bowls of flies on fancy spoons, and taste the air to tell you the time. I get my work done, and leave, quiet.
As I’m heading out I bump into Terry from marketing, a big, buff, bullfrog. He spreads his mouth slowly and grins at me with wide eyes.
‘You coming to the club tonight?’
‘Class? It’s frogs only.’
I try to push past him, but he snatches my briefcase and won’t let go.
'Come on man,’ he says, ‘I could get you in. A friend of a frog, you know?’
I shake my head, tug my case out of his hand. ‘No thanks. Have a good time.’
When I get home there’s a note on the door. My wife’s gone, taken the kids. Moved in with our therapist, a bubble frog named Jerry. My neighbours, frogs on all sides, creep up behind me to read the note. They scan it over my shoulder and each begins to laugh. It’s a chorus of throaty rubbbbits and it echoes in the night. I can’t see a thing through a haze of frog legs. Can’t hear a bird for their chorus.
* Robin White's fiction has appeared in over a dozen publications, both in print and online. He hopes one day to be the Writer in Residence for the American Museum of Natural History, which is his third favourite place in New York City. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Manhattan with his wife, Wesley. He credits her for much of his success.
by Larry Hinkle
Five seconds to ignition.
The full moon shines through the window above my head, illuminating my hands as I grip the controls in a desperate attempt to abort the countdown.
Four seconds to ignition.
I scan my memories, trying to think of something, anything, to stop the process.
With one sad, final glance at the night sky above, I close my eyes...
…whisper an apology…
…and accept my fate.
The world convulses, and then disappears.
Slowly, I push myself up and roll over onto my side of the bed. "Don't feel bad," she says, her voice already light years away. "It happens to everyone."
* Larry Hinkle says "I'm a copywriter living in San Antonio with my wife and three pets. During the day, I write ads. At night, I write other things."
by Xavid Pretzing
It requires a lot of patience.
You have to put your hawk, and it's training, above yourself. When there's not enough food, and there often isn't, you have to put your bird first, keep it healthy. For if your bird gets weak, or if your bond breaks, then you'll both of you starve. And maybe them's back at the refuge, too.
Your hawk works with you, but it's hard for it, because it's fighting instincts. Its genes expect smaller prey, prey of flesh and blood. And it can get hurt in the takedown. The nicer ones have defense systems, now.
Still, it's not like you have any choice. They've got their towers, their neon lights, their walls. Their metal sentries, their gardens under glass. You just have a corner of the wasteland they devoured and abandoned, a scavenged metal overhang to shield you from the rain, and your bird. It's all you can do to survive.
But you survive.
Taking down one delivery drone at a time.
* Xavid Pretzing says "This is my first paid fiction publication." His Twitter is @xavid and his website is http://xavid.us/