Friday, August 11, 2017


 Reduction In Force

I didn't see any practical difference when they replaced the bus drivers with chimpanzees. When the grim ladies in the benefits office vanished and octopi took their places I thought it was an improvement. And so it went. In the end, zero human employment wasn't such a bad thing. The factories ran smoothly staffed by giant spiders and genetically modified prairie dogs. Sylvia and I had our museums, parks, sidewalk cafés, and all the pleasures of a leisured life. I had my games and she had her tableau photography. We loved gallery openings, plays, espresso by the square. We had TIME. All that's gone now, and I'm a hunted man.

One night I returned to our apartment after spending a couple of pleasant hours playing baseball in the park. I anticipated that Sylvia had prepared a delicious meal – gourmet cooking was a passion of hers. We would settle in at the entertainment portal and launch a beautiful milieu in which to eat our dinner. Maybe Venice before the Melting. I palmed the security pad, slipped inside, and stopped still. I sniffed the air. There was no sound; an acrid scent tickled my nose, and something else. The lights were off.

"Hi honey, I'm home?" My only answer was a faint rustling from the portal area. I flicked on the light.

"Is this a prank?" I think I already knew that it wasn't. Something a lot like a mantis sat in Sylvia's favorite chair. Its color matched her skin tone. Its mandibles clacked and a semblance of human speech emanated from its voder.

"This one regrets to inform that the female human has been downsized. This one will function as spouse at greatly reduced expense."

I was already swinging the bat when the mantis lunged, jaws wide. Dense plastic met chitin-clad protoplasm, and ungodly amounts of green goo mixed with flesh-colored shards splattered everywhere. The mantis's body jack-knifed across the room, legs thrashing. I dropped the bat and leaped to the chair. Most of Sylvia lay on the floor behind it, in front of the faux bookcase. The carpet surrounded her, wet and brown. I didn't see her head.

The next thing I remember I was running down the street, bat in hand. I was sticky and I smelled. Everyone else was running too, perhaps for the same reason I was. I heard screams. I'm almost sure they weren't mine.

Publ. Daily Cabal 2010

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