The Pursuit Issue
Quick as a Flash - Week 11
Fact and Fiction
Hey readers! First of all, thank you for your participation in the previous poll! Not only did you come through, but there was a tie for first place! As a reminder, I was going to use the top two prompts anyway, so a tie has no big impact here. I will post the full prompt and link to the survey results at the end of the story, though I hid all but this week's label to keep the next issue's prompt a surprise. You'll see the full results next week!
In the meantime, please hit the button below and cast your votes for issue 13's prompt! As mentioned, I will try to keep these interesting, so the questions will vary somewhat each time. I look forward to seeing the results!
Also, please read to the end of the issue for a free giveaway! Until then, let’s talk about this issue.
If you try and chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
Luckily, the six rabbits I have for you will wait until you're ready to catch them individually.
There's just something about a good chase scene in fiction. When executed well, the audience can't help but feel at least an ounce of the adrenalin pumping through our protagonist's veins.
So hopefully, you’ll experience a little of that while reading the Pursuit issue!
Her face follows me everywhere. In my dreams, she looks at me, tears dribbling down her chin, asking what went wrong. In the mirror, she’s behind me, watching and judging my every move. At home, it’s the worst. Her eyes hold only love and admiration—two things I don’t deserve.
I stood on the middle of the podium—first place! All got to see where hours of hard work, bellyaches, and heartburn got you. The head chef handed me my trophy: #1 Best Eater. That’s me!
So I did what was traditional: I lifted the trophy over my mouth and swallowed it whole.
No Nice Guys™ Here
“Okay, Teddy, Djamila may have friendzoned you, but it’s not over! Only difference between a girl friend and girlfriend is the space.”
“Space you had better give her instead of pursuing her like some prize,” said his dad from the bathroom door jamb. “No son of mine is a douche!”
Horror Movie Victim #4
She grabbed a chair and slammed it against the wall, letting loose a storm of splinters. A leg gave way, and she hid in the closet.
Stomp stomp. Pause.
She tightened the grip on her weapon. It was in the room. And she could practically feel it breathing on her neck…
“Excuse me, miss! You dropped your wallet.”
“That’s not mine.”
“It isn’t? Hm, that might explain the man that chased me for three blocks screaming, ‘hey, that’s my wallet. Give it back, you bastard.’”
“‘I swear when I catch you, you’re goin—augh!’ Then he got hit by a car.”
Hira held the ore under the scanner with bated breath. The LCD screen flashed green and confirmed her hopes: sperrylite. There was platinum in this asteroid crag, and she had first dibs among the contracted miners. She inhaled a deep gulp of the oxygen Space Orz pumped into the atmosphere and gave a silent cheer.
An alarm wailed to her left. Alois, her sentry bot, was blaring and flashing an unmistakable red and yellow light. He hovered a few feet above her, projecting a green light onto the ground.
Approximately twenty meters away, at the light’s edge, stood the very reason the hazard pay was so good: a decaying humanoid in a raggedy space suit sans helmet. The light, combined with the siren and the pheromones pumping out of Alois, kept the creature from coming any closer.
One problem, though. Hira looked to the unused blasters she had welded onto Alois. She thought about the hours of circuit work and programming to get it working. The tests were successful. Alois could shoot a rations packet from way farther than the safe zone’s radius. So why wasn’t he firing?
She took out her own blaster and shot a bolt into the thing's hollowed eye. It fell over with no fanfare beyond the continued sirens.
Seconds later, Alois stopped blaring and went back to producing strictly white light. “The danger has passed. You may continue your task.”
That was another thing. These hover droids were designed to be chatty and keep user morale high in hostile environments. But Alois only did his job, nothing more or less.
She pressed her chapped lips together and glared at the companion bot. “What’s your deal?”
“I have no deal, Ms. Hira.”
“You too good to shoot?”
“Of course not. I misunderstood what the weapons were for.”
Bull. Everyone knew a blaster’s purpose. Alois had tried to use them to mine some of the more stubborn ores, but she already had better tools for those tasks. Alois knew that.
“Tell the truth, you little tin can.”
“There is nothing to tell.”
She leaned in, eyes narrowed. “Don’t give me that.” She reached out and prodded at him. “Too heavy for you? Recoil too strong? Pretty sure I checked it against your specs.”
“There is nothing to tell.”
Anger bubbling, she raised her fist at the bot, but then its sirens went off again.
“Shut up! I wasn’t actually going to hit you!” she lied.
The lights flashed, and she groaned. Another zombie. She turned and saw it was a whole gaggle this time, and they were never human. These were bug-eyed, big-headed grays similar to the ones from Area 51 looking to eat her.
“Hira,” Alois said. She barely heard him over his siren.
“What now? Are you finally going to shoot to kill?”
“It’s not working.”
“The blasters work great, you idiot!”
She looked again and saw that her assailants had crossed into the safe zone.
“Trying other frequencies and sounds. Doubling pheromone production.”
Goose honks and baby cries filled the air, followed by a mosquito sound that made her want to weld her ears shut.
"It's not working! Shoot to kill!" she aimed her blaster at one of the aliens and fired. It took three shots to the head but kept going.
“Their physiologies are not in my database. I could not guarantee a fatality even—”
And Alois did fire. Relentlessly. Hira had outdone herself.
Unfortunately, that did nothing to assuage the mob. They kept coming, ignoring the number of holes that had been drilled into them.
“Fly us out of here!” she said, grabbing onto the outer rim of Alois’s chassis.
“I cannot guarantee that I can carry both you and the weaponry.”
Alois pushed off at an entirely too slow rate. Her feet were just out of reach as they hovered above the horde.
“Over the cliff,” she said, taking out her plasma cutter.
“My thrusters were not designed—”
“You were designed to keep me safe, now do it!”
Several lights flickered, and Alois's head camera rotated. "Roger." He sailed over the cliff's edge, and they descended all too quickly toward the ground.
Hira slashed across the steel holding the blasters in place, cutting them off one by one. Their descent slowed. She got the last blaster off, only to cry when something slammed into her. She kicked at it as Alois spun out midair. It wasn't until she sent it falling that she realized one of the zombies had tried to follow their escape.
Alois barely regained control in time for them to slam into the ground below. Hira's body jolted against the surface, and a burning surged up her right leg. Panting, she looked down and winced. A jagged rock had pierced her suit and dug well into her calf.
Her suit started administrating opiates.
“I have called for help. I scanned the area for movement and found no threats. Are you all right?”
"Thanks to you," she said. Her injury was definitely going to cut her contract short. "What made you finally do it?"
“You mean use the installed weapons?”
Alois’s lights lit up in a slow sequence. “You were in danger.”
She snorted. “Have you looked around? We’re always—”
“—and they were not humans.”
“My last user… he was human.”
Was. Past tense. Her mind went back to all the human zombs on this asteroid. Thanks to all the decay, they were practically faceless to her. And far more numerous than the rare alien.
“So when you see one of those monsters….”
"I can only wonder if it's him. There's no programming that could—I can’t be asked to—”
“Shh, it’s okay. I get it now.”
She’d make sure to note that any future assignees to Alois shouldn’t expect him to physically deal with the zombs.
“I think I’m going to enter sleep mode now. You know my wake word, yes?”
“Yeah. Get some rest, buddy.”
Generated prompt: An asteroid miner wants to end a conflict with an evil-repelling drone, but they will suffer an injury that does not heal.
Unlabeled vote results can be viewed here. Full results will be posted next week!
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