EP090: How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas


By James Trimarco.
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard and Hooting Yard on the Air).
First appeared in Afterburn SF.

After the first week of practice, I knew how to anticipate Mickey’s
every move. I knew how to sense weariness in the jogging of his spine
and would inject increased levels of oxygen into his airflow when I
did. I knew that his heartbeat grew irregular when the platoon crossed
a rope bridge high over the practice-room floor, and for that exercise
I would work a calming agent into his stream. I liked to chant
patriotic slogans in his ear as we practiced. “Oh the children of
empire are marching,” I sang, “to crush the rebel threat.”

Although my programmers intended these songs to stimulate high levels
of patriotism, Mickey didn’t like them. Perhaps that’s when the first
droplets of doubt moistened the soil where the pendulous flowers of my
confusion would one day bud. . . .

I’m sorry, your honor, if my poetry offends you. That’s when I first
questioned his loyalty, I should have said.

Rated PG. Contains battle scenes, Imperial propaganda, overenthusiastic chemistry, and bad poetry.

Referenced Sites:
Befuddled by Cormorants by Frank Key
EP Flash Fiction Contest