Welcome back to 350 Fridays, Panel’s experiment into flash fiction. Each story is 350 words or less. It’s a chance to stretch our writing muscles … without asking you to stretch your reading muscles too much.
I never found a job after college, so I spend all day playing first-person shooters. Then all night I do the real thing.
They gather on the street in front of the house, muttering to each other. Ours is one of the few houses that hasn’t been stripped, and Dad makes me keep the grass neat. There are four of them. At some unspoken signal, they come, loping unevenly across the lawn.
I trigger the claymores as the last two pass Mom’s garden, taking them to an overdue grave. Another one tries to sneak around the lawn, but he doesn’t reckon on night vision. The rifle cracks on my shoulder.
The leader makes it almost to the house when I put a slug in his chest. I put the shot high and left – the street value of artificial hearts is high – then another one carefully in his leg – ditto artificial hips.
The street camera shows all-clear, so I walk out to say hi, rifle in a low cradle. The pain blockers keep him from writhing, so he’s doing that weird half-crawl. The skin on his face is tight and unblemished, but it hangs oddly – medical science can’t get the hypodermis to stay on right.
“Where do you work?” I ask him.
“Please, I just need some money for the drug,” he pleads. ProLongil effectively stops aging, but it’s pricey, so they all turn to theft. Instead of paying for it, the government expanding the home defense rights. “I can feel my telomeres unraveling.”
“Where do you work?” These Baby Boomers left my generation $20 trillion in debt, and they’re still sitting in all of the good jobs.
“I’m a museum curator.”
He turns his head as I lower the gun. His hair’s thick and unnaturally black up front, but as he turns away I can see the strip at the nape of his neck where they took the hair transplants. I send another member of Me Generation to the Big Chill.
And now, finally, I may be able to put my Art History degree to use.
Next up (I believe) is Unsinkable Sean McGurr.