In October I submitted to Apex Magazine’s “Steal the Spotlight Microfiction Contest”. Because I am a loser who loses, I can now share the stories. I imagine they both take place in the same strange cyberpunk/supernatural universe as “The Scarecrow and the Wolf.” If you enjoy them, let me know on Twitter or in the comments. Thanks!
Mara leaned on a spot of chain link, vaporing in the light of charged helium. Her eCig was a green blot of hope in an otherwise dreary night. Across the street, framed by neon signs and dead windows, men and women turned cheap tricks for a melting pot of strange and desperate. Proud deck jockeys, broken street samurai, and ties hiding tats under crisp polyester button downs. Everyone needed a fix.
The girl who’d come for Mara was six pounds shy of a stick and wearing broken tech where her right arm should have been; cybernetic fingers danced to an erratic beat. An eagle, globe, and anchor tat played peekaboo from behind the cuff of her sweater.
“Do you know what I am, Sarah?” Mara asked.
“I know the pain never stops,” the girl answered.
Fingers nimble and talented, Mara firmly grasped the ginger’s head, tousling her hair and senses. Sarah resisted. Locking eyes with the girl, Mara hushed her like a baby. With an easy sigh, Sarah let herself be pulled into a passionate kiss.
In a nearby alley, a drunk hooted approval. When Mara pulled back, a soul like charged argon trailing from her lips, bystanders went silent. She breathed deep. Sarah dropped–discarded and broken, but at peace.
Mara stepped over the body. Leaning against a wall more paint than brick, she set her eCig aglow and waited. There would be more.
Hannah rocked, melancholy and alone, on the edge of a four poster bed in a room she couldn’t afford. Outside the door that separated the bedroom from the living area, her dog, Horus, scratched and howled. The suite smelled of lilac and sweat; and tasted like tears. Hannah tried to stop crying, but Horus howled just as her cheeks began to dry. Baying, hollow and determined like a funeral dirge in Autumn, dead notes scattering on the wind at the crossroads.
She’d found him on the moor. Sweet summer air blew up her skirt and Connor winked suggestively with a chuckle while she clung to the thin cotton of her modesty. The sun felt like new sheets. Horus, plump and soft, had been tangled in a long patch of weeds, chewing on a severed arm.
Police combed the countryside for weeks to no avail. No body was ever found. Horus, too, was a mystery–a motherless pup with shaggy black fur, wet eyes, and a quickly maturing howl.
Sometimes, when the light was dying, Hannah swore Horus’s eyes glowed a fierce amber. Others, when the heavy pitter-patter of paws followed her out at night, she imagined him stalker her, though Hannah knew he snored peacefully at Connor’s feet.
That’s how she’d found them; Horus resting on his paws, blood drying on his muzzle.
More terrifying than the mist of anxieties was Hannah couldn’t remember taking Horus home.