The town is a dusty shell of a wreck. Sand has piled up in the nooks, the crannies have long since blown away. Sun pours from an eye stabbingly bright sky. Every single inch of the brassy, cloudless expanse screams hot.
I crouch inside one of the wrecks in a speck of shade smaller than most government documents. Sunlight burns through gaps in the roof, holes in the walls. Sweat runs down my cheek, along my neck. They are out there. They are looking for me.
A rough scrape outside. I risk a glance. A rural shorthand sweeps. His face is concealed behind a regulation mask, a regulation rifle in his hands, but his ragged uniform gives him away. A short timer. Probably conscripted. His head pivots, searching. He looks nervous, and for good reason. They sent him out in front. I get a glimpse of a lifer further down the block before I duck out of sight. Longhand, long haul, committed to the cause. Why stick your neck out when you have a disposable one to test the waters -- sand in this case -- for you.
My gut burns. I clench my fists.
Conscript or not he's getting closer, and he'll shoot me just the same. I have to move.
Crab like I shuffle from my hiding spot and dash across the room. My twisting head makes the conscripts look positively statuesque. I check every corner, every shadow, every gaping used to be a window. Nothing.
I slink out the back, into the full skin baking, hair cindering sunlight. Force myself to move silent along the remains of a low wall. I'm horribly exposed on one side and blind on the other. Shimmering desert stretches out behind me.
I hear a voice from the other side of the wall, and hit the ground. Don't move, even as a rock, hot as an ember, burns into my hip.
The accent is thick, the words mangled. Must be another conscript.
"A void infant sneaks the military."
A scoff from a second voice. The pair move off with shuffling steps.
They don't hire them -- as if they get paid -- for their grasp of our language. As long as they can point and squeeze they're considered fit for duty.
He's not wrong though, only clumsy with his words. "Void child" that's me. One of those born from the darkness. The other side. And I'm sure as hell sneaking past the army. I'm not going back. Not ever.
Crouched again, running. The wall suddenly ends ahead. A ten foot gap to the next building. The next hole in the wall of a hole in the wall town. I slow, peer around the corner. Check nice and careful. Nothing.
I dash out. A glint. High in a window to my left across a courtyard.
Instincts keep my head attached to my shoulders. I throw myself forward. Sand spurts from the ground an inch past my skull. The sound soft enough to be from a child's toy if it could burn through armor like hot piss through a snowbank.
I scramble forward on elbows and knees through the hole in the building.
Pfft, pfft pfft. Inch wide holes magically appear through the wall to my left. Chunks of vaporized plaster spray across my shaved head. I huddle low against the wall, more stone rains down.
Silence, then pounding feet.
Snipers with radios, and friends, with guns.
The feet are getting closer. No time.
I rip the metal collar from around my throat. Stinging pain, blood seeps from invisible holes in the the veins in my neck. I ignore it. The drug lurks without the separator. I can feel it calling now. Pumping, already throbbing toward my skull. Filling my mind. I gasp at the sensation. My lips peel back in a feral grin. No more hiding.
Pain's coming, but this is going to hurt them a hell of alot more than it does me.
There's another hole above me. I stand up. That same glimmer from the same window. I sneer and snap my fingers.
The gleam is consumed in a sun bright flash. No holes appear from anywhere. Not any more. I squint and the darkness in that room peels back. Around the eyesight smokes the intended viewer. The gun's blackened and its shooter with it.
Pain cranks up in my skull. Moan to a roar. Three moving toward five. It rattles my teeth. I can take it, I've felt worse.
Shouts in the square. More thick accents. They're rushing the building. Numerous but not well trained.
Too bad for them.
Snap snap. Left and right hands in unison. The wall in front of me blows outward. A hundred crumbling bricks crumble the men. More rush after them, long and short timers alike. They see their companions fall and dash lateral for a burned out bakery.
I want this to be over. I grit my teeth. Clap my hands.
Dust puffs out the door the men just ran into. Like someone dropped a bag of dirty flour.
I drop a building on them instead.
The roar follows. The tumbling, cascading, heavy things falling roar until sound itself reaches the breaking point and gives up. It joins the organ exploding cacophony in my skull. It's an eleven this time.
I grasp my head, fall to my knees. I probably scream, but there's no one in the town to hear me now. I can't even hear myself.
Somehow I find the metal collar, snap it back around my neck. The sharp pinch is lost in the pain but I sigh when the cool rush washes through my neck. Turns the volume back down.
When my brain has stopped trying to jackhammer out through my skull, I stand and walk outside.
The sand is already burying the bodies.
The town is a dusty shell of a wreck, and so am I. But I'm leaving. I'm not going back. Not ever.
YOU ARE READING
Mindnado ExpressShort Story
These sci-fi, fantasy, and horror flash fiction stories bounced around in my head long enough to survive brainstorming and wound up scribbled down out here in the wild. Enjoy.