Railroad Switch

The screeching noise of the train’s brakes pierced my ears as the locomotive pulled into the station. I stood up from the platform bench, slung my messenger bag around a shoulder and pulled the handle up from my rolling luggage.

The line of passenger cars collectively rolled to a stop. A throng of waiting passengers stepped forward, always forgetting to let arrivals off first. Suddenly, the train started again and inched forward. Continue reading

Broken Promises

I’m sick of going to weddings. They’re all the same. White gowns, ugly bridesmaids dresses, and cheesy songs. Everyone just wants to get to the part where we eat cake.

But this was my best friend from college. I had to make an exception. Especially since I was the bride. Continue reading

Close Call

Shit.

This hasn’t happened in twenty years. For some reason, when I reached puberty, I stopped sleepwalking. But now, here I am in my Wonder Woman nightgown, standing in a parking lot in some kind of national or state forest, holding my phone which was dialed in to a 703 area code number.

“Ma’am, I’m going to ask you one more time. How did you get this number?” said a tough voice on the other end of the signal.

“I’m sorry, I just woke up. Who is this?” Continue reading

Access Control

The Internet has been down for a month now. Not fully down, but not fully free either.

It started with a few sites getting hacked here and there, every once in awhile. There were warnings by the usual conspiracy theorists, the extremity of such warnings took attention away from real threats to Internet security.

Besides, the hacks could be useful. Sometimes hacking was the only way to expose government and corporate secrets.
Of course, just like government and business, hacking in the wrong hands could send us back a few decades. This is that time. Continue reading

Countermeasures

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, which is good since I was being forced into it. The federal government offered me a plea deal for a heist in which I was an accomplice. The feds offered me placement into an experimental eye surgery program at the National Institutes of Health.

If I wasn’t upfront about my perfect sight, the plea deal would blow up in my face later. I told them I had 20/20 vision. They reminded me that I had developed floaters and had a family history of glaucoma. So much for medical privacy. The possible complications from the surgery were many, but they were still better than the absolute complications from federal prison. The surgery was scheduled for the following Monday.

As I awoke from the surgery, I heard a nurse assuring me that the surgery went fine. I could see right through her, but not because she was lying. I had X-ray vision. Continue reading

The Last Concert

“Oh, no. Thank you, but I’m driving.”

I must be getting old.

I just saw my favorite band in concert and had a horrible time. Between drunk people spilling their beer all over me and the inability to see the concert for the forest of smartphones, what was the point? I could just buy the concert DVD in six months and watch it on my big screen HDTV instead of the big screens at the amphitheater.

Then again watching concerts at home doesn’t generally lead to after-partying at a hole-in-the-wall Irish pub. And that doesn’t generally lead to being offered a free drink by the lead singer of your favorite band. Continue reading

Alien Approach

When they stepped out of their space vehicle, they looked exactly like human beings.

Five years earlier, NASA had detected a space vehicle on Mars. The vehicle, unclaimed by any agency or company on Earth, orbited the red planet for one year before taking a new route. World governments didn’t want to take any chances. They began preparing for an encounter. Continue reading

Two Gold Bars

I hate reading newspapers. The physical kind, I mean. With computers, who even needs them anymore? I’d just gotten off work, and this morning’s newspaper was already ancient history.

But there was just something about this kid selling papers on the corner of Main and Mangum. Maybe it was his youthful, perhaps naive, sense of entrepreneurship. Maybe it was the nostalgic sense that I wouldn’t get too many opportunities to buy newspapers in the future. I don’t know.

What I did know was that it was a rare day that I had spare change in my pocket, and why not make an enterprising young boy smile? I grabbed two quarters out of my pocket and handed them to the kid. No words were exchanged, just understanding. Continue reading

Duly Noted

Mary lost the promotion again. This time she lost to Jessica, who won the promotion by sleeping with their boss Jerry, and with Jerry’s boss Rob just for good measure. Last time, she lost the promotion to John, not a year out of college but whose dad was Vice President of Operations. The time before that, she had lost it to Zach, who had spread rumors around the fourth floor and gonorrhea around the fifth.

Mary had always done things the right way, and that’s how she approached her career. She wanted a promotion based on skill and loyalty. When Jessica’s promotion was announced, she walked briskly to the bathroom because that’s where she goes when she has a panic attack. She locked the stall door behind her before noticing the unflushed tampon floating in the toilet.

“No one gives a shit!” Continue reading

The Unseens

Most people think of them as coincidences, miracles, fate, or good luck. It’s none of those. Every single one of those situations is fixed by a group of heroes called The Unseens.

We helped you swerve around that car that slowed down suddenly because the driver just got a text message she just has to read right now. We helped your kid know the answer to a multiple choice question, so he gets a a instead of an B, the difference between a full and partial college scholarship. Continue reading