Little Red Button
I regained consciousness choking on a thick, salty liquid pooling in my open mouth. I sputtered and spat, gasping for air…..it wasn’t my blood. I gagged. My right hand hurt.
I was pinned under a dozen heavy corpses, amid heaps of dismembered limbs and chunks of steaming flesh, saturated in a rising sludge of dark, viscous fluid as it oozed from them. It smelled of piss and sweat and…even I shat myself when the combat droids opened fire on our peaceful protest. Memories were coming back, but I couldn’t recall why my right hand ached.
In a sobbing panic I pushed and wriggled and twisted free, but as I met the open air, I was horrified at the sight of a combat droid a few feet away. I ducked back down for cover. It was staring at me with a flame thrower aimed at my head…..it had smoke billowing from under it’s helmet…dead. I rose up again to see the whole ragged line of them, frozen in place as they were, rolling over piles of the fallen, executing survivors.
Nothing moved now. Everything was silent but the rush of intense flames and the sizzle and pop of meat and bones on the fringes of Union Square. There were no lights, no cars, no subways rumbling…as if someone had detonated an electromagnetic pulse, frying everything electronic within it’s blast radius. It was a strange thought to have at that moment, along with the nagging pain in my right hand. Well, an E.M. pulse would have been too little too late considering the carnage surrounding me…tens of thousands lay dead.
I suddenly remembered that…we had won. We had all the evidence and finally convinced their police
to stand down and stay out of the way. Now there was a dead cop ten feet from me. He had no head, but at least he finally looked human.
We brought no weapons, we had no desire to kill, or even to fight them, and we expected them – the rich and powerful – to pull something desperate as we marched downtown to arrest them. But we had the numbers and a trick or two up our own sleeves…we had inside information on their worldwide data centers, where the core of their wealth was…and we had a pile of stolen government E.M. devices in position…
I lifted my throbbing right hand to find it clenched in a hard, painful fist. When the military combat droids rolled out, surrounding us, I was terrified. I froze. And when they opened fire without warning, bodies were ripped and shredded, throwing them backward in pieces, burying me alive, unconscious, but, wasn’t I the one holding the trigger?
I opened my searing right fist to find the radio detonator, my thumb still pressing the little red button on the end. I didn’t realize…I never actually intended to…I bent and vomited. Many more would die now, but as I looked around again, well…we were already doing that. end.
***This is a new short story for an old illustration…soon to be published in our fourth book, “A Short Burst” a collection of flash science fiction – with illustrations. With only a few exceptions, the illustrations were all previously published in Analog and Asimov’s sci-fi Magazines and used as writing prompts for new stories Find our books at www.sallemander.com. -Marsha