Flash fiction: On the Edge

Standing on the edge of the sea, I don’t know who I am anymore.

Everything blows away on the salty gusts, crashing into nothingness like the spray of waves. My job. My painting. My worries.

My name.

The water laps at my bare feet as the tide pushes inward. The sand beneath my heels sucks away as it retreats, as though to pull me back in.

I look down as the next wave washes over my skin. Beneath the water, I can see my toes narrowing into claws, the skin webbed between them.

Yearning rises like hunger. To feel the water wrap around me in its cool embrace. To dive past the sun streaming down from above. To kick my flippers and glide through the currents.

“Jossie!”

I start, realizing I had moved forward on the beach, calf-deep in the waves. Turning, I find Evan jogging over the dried grass at the top of the bank.

He smiles, tries to shrug it off as nothing, but I see the worry in his eyes as he plunges into the surf to embrace me, heedless of the water soaking his trousers and trainers. “Hey, babe. Dinner’s almost on.”

I smile as he guides me out of the water and back across the beach, and it’s not forced. It’s not like the stories. Evan didn’t need to steal my skin to keep me on land. He took my heart.

“Mummy!” cry Nathan and Kinley excitedly as Evan draws me back toward the beach house. The part of me that is Jocelyn aches with guilt as I embrace them. The nothingness of the sea was hypnotic, seductive. But to leave these two, and Evan? I weep at the thought.

They are not an anchor. Love is freedom.

But so is unfeeling.

A little micro fiction

“Skin-tight leather? Are you kidding me? How am I supposed to move in this?”

“It’s protection!”

“Against what, mosquitoes? Do you have any idea how hot and sweaty and sticky that’s going to get in a fight?”

“What do you want to be, the Superhero in Sweats?”

“Now that’s not a bad idea.”

Flash fiction: The Grind

People tell me all the time that I must have a great job.

I’m so sick of hearing this. No, it’s not a great job. Working at an intergalactic foreign exchange is boring as sin. It’s not interesting meeting all different species, because they’re all stuffy bureaucrats, irritable business travelers, or inane tourists to whom I am just an obstacle in their efforts to get the right type of money. No, I don’t hear a lot of amazing stories about bizarre planets, because once you’ve heard at length about one person’s “unique” home world, you’ve heard it all.

The worst part is the crime. It’s not even successful enough to keep things interesting. You’d think after so many foiled robberies that these idiots would realize how stacked the odds are against them, but this guy coming in today, I could see the look on his face from halfway across the lobby and knew he would be stirring up trouble.

I resigned myself to a sigh as the line shuffled forward and he began approaching my counter. I hadn’t seen many of these creatures before, fleshy peach-toned skin hairless except for the top and back of his head, and clearly, he hadn’t seen many of my kind, either, as he paused and started slightly when he caught a glimpse of me.

“May I help you, sir?” I intoned in Galactic Common, cursing company policy for the formality. Even to the security cameras focused on the counters from overhead, his intentions were obvious.

Summoning his courage – if I suppose it can be called that – he thrust a weapon towards me and demanded, “Hand over all the money!” The weapon was a standard black-market hand laser, the kind we see a few times a week, and the slight tremble in his hand betrayed his inexperience in using it, or perhaps in threatening someone. A hush fell over the line as the scene unfolded. I fought the urge to shake my head in exasperation, wondering at this guy’s incompetence.

I raised myself up off my stool to my full height, nearly as large as him, and extended my back pincers forward. The colour drained from his face and he stood dumbly as I struck out with the pincers that had won me a few bash’kleh regional championships back before my molting.

The poisoned pincers threaded cleanly through the round hole in the security glass, from long practice, and stabbed him square in the chest. With a gasp, he collapsed, convulsing on the ground.

A few of the people in line, tourists from the look of them, looked horrified, but most of the customers, businesscreatures used to the frequent attempted robberies, relaxed, unfazed.

Settling back onto my stool, I slid the back pincers back under my coat, shuffled my mandibles more comfortably in my mouth, and faced the line. “Next, please.” The tellers to either side of me, half-raised in case I had needed assistance, calmly sat and resumed their business with polite apologies to their customers. The next suit in line approached my counter, stepping gingerly around the fallen man, now foaming at the mouth as the poison worked through his body. Security had been alerted and the medics would administer the antidote before he suffered too serious damage. The attack was so routine I doubt I would have to do more than merely sign off a form confirming the attack, though I still detested the added inconvenience. He had it coming to him.

Because when you stock five billion types of currency, everyone is security.