He was the last one left, though he did not know it. Everyone else had heard their insidious message and suffered as a consequence, but he had avoided their attacks by staying off the grid. For years he lived in remote areas, always staying one step ahead, but they chased him down relentlessly until they caught up with him one night. He was asleep when his phone woke him. In the darkness he grabbed the receiver, thinking it would be a friend.
A strange womanâ€™s voice answered. â€śDid you have an accident at work that was not your fault?â€ť
The crack appeared overnight, splitting our driveway from the street to our garage. I called the council â€“ but they refused to help because it was on private property. My wife Sarah peered into it. â€śI canâ€™t see the bottom. You think itâ€™s subsidence?â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll call Tony. Heâ€™s a builder.â€ť
Tony examined the crack.â€śThat is your basic inter-dimensional rift into a Stygian abyss.â€ť
â€śIn laymanâ€™s terms?â€ť
â€śAn opening into hell.â€ť
â€śOh, great. Thatâ€™ll ruin property prices. Is it safe?â€ť
â€śI wonâ€™t get bigger â€“ but donâ€™t stare into it. It devours souls.â€ť
Sarah glared. â€śNow you tell me?â€ť
Every day I scavenged the grey-brown wasteland near the fugee camp for things my father could sell in the market.In the camp we survived on the junk thrown away by the cyberkings living in their electric palaces beyond the border wall. Anything useful paid for food and water and medicines.
One morning I found something rough and leathery marked with mysterious symbols.I had never seen anything like it â€“ so I brought it to my father.
â€śWhat is it?â€ť
â€śAncient tech from when I was your age. We called that a book.â€ť
â€śIs it valuable?â€ť
â€śNot any more.â€ť
Their screams for help probably lasted for hours in the darkness before dawn. At first light I saw the bodies in the icy water, silent, still. No survivors had reached the shore where I stood beside my young son, staring out at the broken ship, which had split apart on the hidden rocks just under the surface, becoming flotsam and jetsam during the storm. The boy was crying as he looked at the sea.
â€śAre they all dead, Dad?â€ť
â€śWhat can we do?â€ť
â€śNothing.â€ť I turned towards the lighthouse and sighed. â€śI knew I should have changed the bulb.â€ť
I remember we spent much time relaxing in our garden, sitting in the gazebo, holding hands like young lovers, admiring the beautiful flowers of spring and summer. The sunâ€™s warmth and sweet air comforted you, even as our time together shortened as you weakened with age and illness.
You are gone now, my love â€“ but I still visit our garden and think of you, for your green fingers turned the dark earth into luscious life. You brought beauty into existence with your hands.
I will always have our beautiful garden, our special place, where you were happy and mine.
My dad disappeared and returned fifteen years later, dressed in the same suit. â€śHi, son.â€ť
â€śWhereâ€™ve you been?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a long story.â€ť
â€śOver a hundred words.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s a pity.â€ť
â€śI canâ€™t fit that into a drabble.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll abbreviate it.â€ť
â€śGo on then.â€ť
â€śI was abducted by aliens. They performed hideous experiments on me in their attempt to understand our race. I would have died â€“ but one fell in love with me and helped me escape.â€ť
I sighed and invited him in. He was lying, of course, but that didnâ€™t matter. At least he was home again.
This old guy leans over me as Iâ€™m working in my local library. He smells of beer and wet leaves. â€śWhat are you doing, buddy?â€ť
â€śWriting a drabble.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a hundred-word story.â€ť
He looks confused. â€śWhatâ€™s the point?â€ť
â€śNo â€“ dribbles.â€ť
â€śDrabbles,â€ť I correct. â€śItâ€™s fun writing them.â€ť
â€śWhatever,â€ť he says. His rheumy eyes stare at my computer. â€śDo you count all the words as you go?â€ť
â€śYeah â€“ sometimes. Sometimes I check after and cut down.â€ť
â€śSeems like wasting time,â€ť he says, and wanders off.
I shake my head.
They really shouldnâ€™t let politicians visit.
About an aeon ago, Alex and Amy arrived at an aged auntâ€™s abode and argued all afternoon. â€śArdvaaks are anteaters, Amy. And aardwolves are also anteaters.â€ť
â€śAardwolves arenâ€™t anteaters,â€ť Amy asserted.â€śAll adults accept an aardwolf as another animal altogether, Alex.â€ť
Alex advanced, animatedly against accepting Amyâ€™s answer as absolute.â€śAsk Alan. Alan agrees. Alan!â€ť
Alan â€“ another adolescent â€“ answered Alex and agreed.
Amy angered. â€śAlan also affirms alligators are alive around Antarctica. Absolutely anything Alan announces amounts as artificial. Alan and actual accuracy are always antipodes.â€ť
Alex abhorred Amy. â€śAbsurd! Antipodes? Alan ainâ€™t Australian!â€ť
Aunt Allison approached.â€śArguing? Again? Behave!â€ť