zero hour

Competition Eight Shortlisted: Zero Hour: Slash and Burn by

Alone, I posed no threat. Then I birthed a NewGen, and the countdown began.

T-MINUS ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN MINUTES

On my sixth attempt, the communicator crackles. I stare at the shimmering screen, watch numbers scroll interminably until finally they shiver to a still. Four digits sparkle against the basalt-black background: SOS received.

Above the mirror, the Li-Fi lamp flickers, scattering spider-like shadows. Slowly, I peel my lips back to reveal the latest mutation: incisors whetted scalpel-sharp, canines sabre-arcing: soon they’ll be hard to hide.

The spare room rustles.

Outside: bootsteps. I switch off the light.

T-MINUS SIXTY-THREE MINUTES

There’s barely time for gloves in the pause between buzzer and battering ram. Finger-scales catch on miniscule threads. Sparks fly. I curse.

Incredibly, she sleeps.

The AntiMutation officers don’t bother to introduce themselves before sweeping into the spare room. Goons stand guard. One catches my eye. I smile, lips tight over teeth.

I hover at the doorway as scanner-probes scuttle over her tiny frame, awaiting the inevitable alarm. Nothing. Relief swills in my stomach as they leave: a transitory respite. They’ll be back.

T-MINUS THIRTY-FOUR MINUTES

I rock the baby, stroke her cheek with soft-scaled fingers. Her eyes open. I feel their heat. My skin prickles as I listen to the clock ticking towards evolution.

T-MINUS TWENTY-ONE MINUTES

Beneath my fingertips, her skin bubbles.

T-MINUS THIRTEEN MINUTES

I feel them before I see them, the Uses, shivering through space. My fear ebbs. We are no longer alone.

T-MINUS FOUR SECONDS

Buzzing lacerates the hush.

As the door shatters, I hold my baby high as hope, her eyes embers smouldering in the dark.

From everywhere at once, I hear a war-cry: an anguished outpouring – silence given sound.

ZERO HOUR

She is incandescent. Finally, the tables have turned.

 

 


 

Abi lives in Brighton. She spends her time teaching, writing mini stories and losing gracefully at complicated board games. Her words pop up here and there, recently in Splonk, Molotov, The Prompt Mag and Ellipsis zine. She tweets @abihennig

Visit thinkingtwentythingsatonce for links to more work by Abi Hennig

 

 

Photo by Maxim Tajer on Unsplash

 

 

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