Rated PG. Contains battle scenes, Imperial propaganda, overenthusiastic chemistry, and bad poetry.
How Lonesome a Life Without Nerve Gas
by James Trimarco
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.
About the Author
Despite numerous late-night attempts to discover the fourth-dimensional reptilian lurking within him, James Trimarco has no choice but to call himself a fully human anthropologist and writer from New York City. He is a member of the Altered Fluid writers’ group. His work appears in The Selling of 9/11: How a National Tragedy Became a Commodity, Talking Back: Epistolary Fantasies, and Strange Horizons.
About the Narrator
Frank Key was a British writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his self-published short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which was broadcast weekly on Resonance FM from April 2004 to September 2019, when he passed away. Frank co-founded the Malice Aforethought Press with Max Décharné and published the fiction of Ellis Sharp.