Empathy Bomb

The fog rose up around five o’clock. Old man Rudy Jeffers made a note as he checked his watch and leaned deep into his rocking chair, surveying the rooftops of his little town, feeling connected to the silhouettes of pointed roofs, thinking each a soul he almost knew to the moment. When lights bubbled up and died out. Each took a representation of souls.

He folded the newspaper over his dry, thick fingers and lurched forward peeking his head close to the wooden screened door.  “Did you want to read the paper, Maryanne?

He stayed parked for only a moment before he settled back into the incline of the chair.

The window jerked open behind him, wooded splinters scraping in their dull motion. A weathered voice yelled. “I don’t  want to read anything about until that Gibson boy is found.”

“Lord, I’m sittin right in front of ya’, Anne. I can keep that page if ya want.”

“Fugget about it”

“Suits me.”

The plane cleared the mountain far above the town, it’s decals long wiped and concealed for a cheery call sign. A computer hummed on top of a mass of whizzing wires and diodes. A man in a long coat of buckled leather ruffling his thick eyebrows to peer through his goggles at a scrambled display of a tablet, as he tapped away at the screen and leaned forward to turn a thick dial. The door at the rear of the play opened, letting cold night winds whip around everything and grab at loose straps and chattering carabiners.

The man raised his hand and waved over two waiting soldiers. Who lumbered toward him in reply. They approached the large hunk of metal and lights and braced themselves against it, nodding to each other and then to the man in leather. The large of lump whirled to life and they all breathed in before pushing into a smooth motion. The man in leather patted the tablet impatiently and the hunk cleared the back of the plane, stopping in air just as it cleared the lowered ramp.

The men looked at each other and then at the man in leather, who was slamming his fingers on the tablet. After a moment it moved away from the door and started a slow descent. They all settled into chairs on the sides of the bay. Staring at the yellow and red lights as it came back into their view, slowly sinking into the vagueness of the fog.


Deputy Mauve Gibson clicked his high beams on and off. He looked into the churning grayness and watched his lights burn paths of closed domes in front of him. Only a few yellow and green reflectors cut through the gray air. He adjusted his hat and leaned into his cruiser, turning the knob on his center panel bring the radio pitch to a loud buzz. His back cracked as he leaned back over and opened the door.

“Sector 8d, clear.” A serious voice announced to the empty car.

He stood in freshly dewed sod, leather belts stretched and rubbed against balanced pouches. He dropped his head to his shoulder and rotated his arms before reaching into his chest pocket, behind his badge to recover a cigarette and a lighter. He took a few steps onto the pavement and lit the thin white paper held by his lips. He looked past the road into the deep fog held between the dark shadow of the surrounding forest. The forest only rescinded from the impression of the road and stood imposing in its darkness. There was a red streak and whiz overhead but he shrugged it off seeing the red glow of the end of his cigarette in his glasses.

After a minute his let the cigarette fall and kicked it with his heel on his way back to his cruiser.

the north ridge bridge moaned under its own weight in the darling wind that got caught in the creekbed. Underneath it’s blue-painted bolts, Bruce sat holding a tin can between his thighs Two walls of scrap stood between him, his modest fire and the wind. The fire cracked and licked at the air. His eyebrows flared with thought as he swayed gently. Music exploded in his mind as he hummed disjointedly, failing to match the vast notes of trumpets and drums. His joints ached but his mind oversaw the whole orchestra from his hunched position. His bones ground into each other from years of use but he settled into his corner anyway. The crept babbled and the wind whistled but Bruce cooed indifferently as he took a long pull from his thick bottomed bottle. He took out a long knotted string that was anchored by a chipped pocket watch. The minute hand laid limp to gravity. He studied the minute hand and said Nine, thirty-three. Time to eat.

The explosion sent shock waves throughout valley. There were no compulsions only a motion to bend ahead to the knees as blood and viscera were caught up.


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