The noises that, at first, filled every pocket of air, immediately and harmoniously silenced. The overcast sky of smog and gas cracked open like chick which has been waiting weeks to hatch, the yellow feathers shined through. And all was quiet. The men did not speak, they dropped their arms, but their guns' falls were muted by this minute of peace. Even the men dared not to speak. Enemies were no longer so, there was no definition between men, just as there are no barriers between the birds which were the first to make a sound. A song which awoke...

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Two rows of terrified youth, each plastered, clingingly, to the fences on opposite sides of the tennis court. 16 bouncing 4-square balls. 16 times times 20 opponents per side: the numbers were staggering. The odds of being struck by lightning paled in comparison. You could win lotto 35 goddamn times before you'd escape a barrage like this.

And someone said "GO!"

They raced to the balls, grabbing all the resources they could muster for their side, hoarding the ammunition. When one side has only 3 balls, it's much easier to keep track of who's hunting you.

Her side had 11...

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My discovery took the world by storm.

The university had sent me to South America to carry out research into unfound species in the Amazon forest. The remit was wide, almost too wide, in fact, as wide as the forest itself. After all, where do you start? And, what was I looking for?

The going was hard. Dense foliage, humidity, bugs, leeches, snakes, ants and a million other species that wanted me...for lunch. Then I saw it...nestling in the thick vegetation, it looked out at me with eyes that seemed to be on the end of sticks. I approached it...

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Rose wished she'd never agreed to that picture.

The look, the provocative stare, running her hands through her hair like that? That wasn't her. How did she expect to be taken seriously as an author when her picture looked like an ad for those 1-800 numbers, the ones they put on late at night with the skimpily clad women.

Maybe she could play it off. "I write humor; it was a joke!" she'd claim. The truth was, authors got paid almost nothing to bare their souls to their readers. It didn't matter if it was humor, scifi, or even detective...

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The sky was blue, the grass was green and the little clouds were as fluffy as the picture in a child's reading book. All was well with the world. And on her swing, she could see above the park, above the neat hedges and the flowering bushes. She could, as she swung higher still, see over the row of terraced houses and into the street beyond. Over the flowering cherry trees and the neat gardens with their blossoming plants, over the heads of the middle class and middle aged gardeners and housewives and shoppers and busy bodies of the suburban...

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Walking briskly through the grey tainted forest, beads of sweat gathered on his forehead, gaining momentum before they trickled down his sullen face. The pale moon was high in the sky, befriending twinkling stars that seemed to swirl around whenever he tried to find consolation in their presence. From far away, an owl hooted into the night.

He didn't have a hand to hold. Lost, yet not lost, he was confused. Knowing who he was, what year it was, and where he was were all facts that he had down. But he wasn't sure of his exact location. Then again,...

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Her eyes were green.
No, not just green.
Emeralds, yet infinitely more precious.
Like the sea, though far more deep and turbulent.
Greener than freshly blossoming thyme or the scent of mown lawns in summer.
More intoxicating than the green of absynthe.
Greener than jealousy.
Greener than the grass on the other side.

They stared into the grey of me.

And I knew those eyes would never be mine.

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It comes from fearing science.

In America of 2025, the faithful had won. No one believed in evolution. No one believed in vaccination. No one believed in soap.

The foreign countries had taken to calling them "Potatoes" because they were white under the thick film of dirt that comes from refusing to wash.

The potatoes were in a panic. Some potato, venturing beyond his or her front door, with a long lost telescope discovered in a storage room, had pointed it at the sky and seen something move. Watching further, the potato did a bit of empirical deduction and derived...

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The bird landed. A thunder clapped. A dog barked and the bird opened a pocket on its vest.

Peering through a telescope, the yellow bird surveyed 360 degrees of the town square.

All along the square doors slammed and windows shuttered.

All but the doors of the saloon, which are more like shutters, really. Do saloons even have doors?

The bird shook its feathers. Focus.

From beneath the saloon shutters rolled a woman in pantaloons and suspenders and a blousy black turtleneck. She held in her hands two baskets, their covers carefully latched.

Kneeling in the street Liza double and...

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The children were not at school. Not today with a masked gunman roaming the streets. Everyone was indoors with the doors bolted, probably hiding in closets, attics or basements.

Jess was outside in the sunshine, on the swing. Whooshing high in the air and back down, laughing aloud, breaking the silence, wondering where the helicopters were, the swat cars, armed police.

She felt as though she was the only person left on earth.

Perhaps she was.

That's what the gunman thought when he spotted her long dark hair through the gap in the fence.

He was tired by now, wanted...

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