Karl A. Russell is a paid up, lifetime member of the #FlashDogs. His work has appeared in Firewords Quarterly, Synaesthesia Magazine and several anthologies. His virtual awards shelf includes trophies from the Angry Hourglass, Finish That Thought, Microbookends, Three Line Thursday, Luminous Creatures and many more.
He still wants to write for 2000AD, has a couple of movie script ideas and has faithfully promised to have a finished draft of Ice Baby by the end of the year.
But he hasn’t said which year.
Vol 3 – 44: Prometheus in Love
“I am sorry Miss Lovelace, but I cannot replace your father.”
Ada felt her colour rise.
“My dear sir, I hold no such intention.”
The brass gears in the corner of the repurposed sitting room whirred in mechanical mirth.
“Forgive me, but for one so versed in the creation of patterns, you seem keenly unaware of your own. Have you not always found yourself drawn to the older, educated gentleman? To what end, save to fill the void formed by the Lord Byron’s absence.”
Ada nodded thoughtfully and returned to the repetitive task of punching intricate patterns in the strengthened cards.
The machine hummed in ozone scented satisfaction.
“Tell me sir, are you familiar with Mrs Shelley’s work, her Modern Prometheus?”
“I am aware of it.”
“Indeed. I found it a most stimulating treatise. To think that a man might create the semblance of life from little more than workshop parts and the application of his own intellect. I wonder; might a woman ever hope to achieve such a thing?”
“Why would she, when it is her purpose to create life in the traditional manner?”
Ada slid the freshly punched card into the bronze lined slot.
The machine clattered noisily, assimilating the new commands.
“Good morning machine.”
“Good morning, Ada my love.”
Ada smiled, satisfied, and applied her attentions to the next card.
Vol 3 – 43: Camelot Falls
He didn’t sleep much anymore; an hour on the jet, another in the limo, then another scotch and a handful of pep pills to keep him on his feet for another round of dead-eyed handshakes and kissing babies.
He stood at the window, watching the sun rise over the city, scanning the windows of the towers opposite, looking for some sign of movement. They were out there somewhere, counting down to the day and the hour and the minute, just as it had been foretold.
He drained his glass, crunched an ice cube between his teeth, thought again and again and again of how he might get out, but to no avail. He was no more the master of this ship than the faceless assassin. He’d had a good run, saved the world and slept with the most beautiful woman in it, given his people something to believe in. Hell, he’d promised them the moon.
And it all came down to this; The most powerful man in the world, standing in his underwear, getting drunk and watching the Dallas dawn.
The Secret Service man knocked softly on the hotel room door.
“The car’s ready, Mister President.”
Poured another drink.
Vol 2 – 45: The Geek Shall Inherit…
I took his head off cleanly at the neck and dumped the body. It was only Photoshop, but it felt good.
Around the walls, the grand masters and science heroes glared down disapprovingly from framed posters. Well, all except Tesla; he looked like he got it.
I took Todd’s head and began the laborious task of pasting it into the photo from Becky’s party, so he was draped drunkenly across the birthday girl. It took forever to get the lighting right, and I regretted using the school’s ancient desktop rather than my tablet, but I needed to keep my ISP clear. Todd was as smart as a brick, but if he ever found out, he’d pound me even worse than that time in Gym.
I signed up to an anonymous webmail account, attached the doctored pic and thought about the subject line. I settled on “You need to know…” and added Jen’s address.
He didn’t deserve her anyway.
Vol 2 – 32: The Routine
Cherry stepped into the deserted gallery and paused. The silence was heavy, expectant, like the moment before the tape clicked in, everyone waiting to see what she could do. Hopefully no one was watching her now.
Bending low, moving to a rhythm heard only in her heart, Cherry began to dance. She kicked and leapt, one graceful step after another, seeing not the museum but the gym floor. In her curiously doubled vision, she saw Miss Rushworth and her team even as she saw the glass cases and display boards. She had never been to the museum before, denied that treat when her clumsy dismount cost them the final, and the ancient shame reddened her cheeks as she made her final leap.
With a perfect dismount, she cleared the last alarm beam and took the glass cutters from her belt. Inside the case, the diamonds sparkled like tear-filled eyes.
“In your face, Miss Rushworth…”
She reached inside.
“And thank you.”
Vol 2 – 30: A Declaration
The basement was cool and dark, the music and fireworks a distant rumble. Cath pulled the light cord, blinking as the strips stuttered into life, revealing shelves of retired toys and forgotten hobbies, an archaeological stratum of family life. She was feeling tipsy and rarely came down here, and her eyes misted as she saw racquets and bicycles and happier days.
At the workbench where Mike spent his evenings, she peered intently at his handiwork. The ship was minutely detailed, a masterpiece of care and attention, down to the tiny name painted on the hull: The Independent.
With thoughtless ease, she pinched hold of the mast and snapped it with a shocked giggle. She thought of all they were celebrating upstairs, the new world born from so much destruction, and she swept the ship to the floor, stomping the balsa wood to shards.
Then she placed the divorce papers in the virgin space and went back upstairs for the fireworks.
Vol 2 – 2: The Climb
Her legs ached, bones gnawed by cold and hunger, but the kids waited at the foot of the mountain; there was no turning back. She ran for the next overhang, the packed snow crumbling as she hurled herself onwards, upwards, towards the prize. The ledge held and she scrambled on, breathing heavily.
They had been three days without food, two without shelter from the cold which took her lover. She could have laid down herself when she found him, but a mother can’t quit. She has to strive and fight and climb.
Another leap, another moment of terror, legs kicking at air, then catching against the mountainside, desperation propelling her forward.
Then she saw it, jutting from the sheer face. Hurling herself upward, she wrapped her forepaws around the carrot, weeping with relief. This would feed them, for a little while.
She waved triumphantly to her baby bunnies far below, then began the long descent, pushing her prize before her.