Yesterday’s News – The Metablades

Hey there, I missed posting yesterday so today there will be two to make up for it.

For THIS post, I thought I’d share the bit of flash fiction that I wrote at this year’s Balticon during the “Iron Writer” competition. Basically, each writer was given a randomized premise generated by this website. I had the great honor of participating alongside Mur Lafferty, Scott Sigler, and Paolo Bacigalupi. (Incidentally, I just read Paolo’s book “The Windup Girl” recently, and it was very good. I may do a longer review at some point.)

Here was my prompt:

“Title: The Metablades

In a shrill Outer Rim world, a young collector of oddities stumbles across an otherworldly portal which spurs him into conflict with forces that encourage conformity, with the help of a leather-clad female in shades and her and her condescending tone, culminating in the land restored to health.”

And here was my story:

The Metablades

The wind was worse than usual today, whistling through the canyon with unusual ferocity.
Evan pulled the collar of his jacket up to protect his face against the stinging alkali sand.
Despite his discomfort, sandstorms were the best day for artifact hunting. The wind could
uncover the ancient ruins that otherwise remained buried beneath the desert sands. With the
Traveling Dunes of this colony planet, the human settlements were forced to be nomadic, lest
they be buried beneath the desert like the alien cities of another age.

The wind though, sometimes revealed trinkets, sometimes treasures, so Evan spent his
downtime hunting for them.

He slowed his speeder to a crawl. His scanner had detected something, not only metal, but
with a power signature. Could he have found something still functional? He dared not hope,
but went to investigate.

He found the tip of the artifact that had triggered his sensors, and was shocked to discover
that with only a little bit of sand cleared away, a noticeable glow began to shine through
the remaining sand. He dug into his pack for the compressed air gun to blow the remaining
obstructions. After a few minutes, he had uncovered what looked like a doorway, but with a
glowing blue field where the door would be.

He started toward the device, but before he could take more than a single step, a man
emerged from the field. The man wore strange clothing, alost all in black, but with a white
under layer, and a long thin of dark fabric around his neck, tied in a complex knot. His hair
was neatly combed, and he wore a serene expression.

"Who- who are you?" asked Evan.

The man didn't answer right away, instead, simply looking him up and down with a concerned
expression.

Finally the man spoke.

"No. No, this will not do at all. Your hair is mussed, your clothing is entirely too individualized.
You are too short, and your teeth need straightening. I am afraid that we will have to issue
you a citation."

"A what?"

"This is a citation for failure to adopt mandatory aesthetic standards." The man handed him a
piece of paper. "You must pay the sum below within the next seven cycles or be subjected to
summary judgment and death by badgers."

"What are you talking about?"

"My guess is that you are not the only one failing to conform. Where are the rest of your
cellmates? I must issue their citations as well. I do have a quota to reach, and I'm only..."

His voice trailed off, and Evan noticed a trickle of blood from the side of the man's mouth.
Then he collapsed to the ground. A blade that seemed oddly unreal and representative of
knife-making more than actual knives stuck out of his back.

A woman wearing dark leather riding gear and dark sunglasses passed through the portal as
well, and said. "No problem, kid. I'm sure you had it under control, but just thought I'd save
your world for you. Don't sweat it, you can get the next one." Then she dragged the man's
body back through the portal.

The End.

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