Miscellany

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9
Today's the Day

More flash fiction from FB: They’d been planning this for a while. Working for it. Waiting for it.


They started it off from the spot they’d always been in, which was a little lake community in the middle of nowhere because that had been the best place to hide the little lab with its big, big project. They’d even made a little bit of a show out of being lake people, making sure they dressed the part and were seen fishing off the dock or having coffee on the lake house’s weathered front porch or painting ein plein air or reading a book.

Today, though, was the day. The day they’d been working for, waiting for, planning for. The. Day.

The rocket which would carry their payload wasn’t much larger than the kind hobbyists usually shoot off, mainly because a hobby shop was where they’d gotten it from. The propulsion mechanism, however, would have made an amateur hobbyist drool with jealousy and an experienced one call the police in terror. Nobody else was out there but them, though, so neither issue was going to come up. They double- and triple-checked the payload, checked the rocket and the timer and then checked the payload one more time. And then they set the timer and got in their little dinghy.

Quickly, but not all that quickly – not quickly enough to make anyone suspicious – they rowed back across the lake. Setting a timer for not enough time to clear the area would have been both stupid and silly and they were neither, so they had plenty of time to reach the part of the shore where the ‘public’ dock jutted out into the water, unpack the dinghy, and get set up on the verge so they could watch the show. While doing a little fishing and a little painting, because the play-acting had really started to become hobby rather than chore after all this time.

The explosion which propelled the rocket up into the stratosphere shook the air and produced billows of white where the lakeside cabin had been, and the rocket itself trailed a fat finger of doom-cloud up into the low ceiling of natural clouds overhead. The proprietor of the bait shop came running out just in time to see the bright burst of yellow-orange light that was the rocket detonating just on the other side of that ceiling, spreading its payload where the high winds of the coming storm would pick it up and the rain and hail would seed it across the land both near and far.

He didn’t know about that last part, though. All he saw was the rocket-finger pointing up, the explosion-clouds, the bright light. And the couple from across the lake sitting down on the verge doing their thing. “Hey!” he called out. “What the hell was that?!”

“Probably the end of the world!” the fishing man called back. “I should still have time to catch a few, though!”

The bait-seller rolled his eyes, took one more hard look, then went back inside to check the news and maybe call the sheriff, hoping he could find out what was going on. If he’d just gone the rest of the way down to the unbothered couple, though, he’d have already had at least some idea.

After all, it’s not many people who paint rising, ravening zombies into their otherwise accurate ein plein air depiction of the local landscape.

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