ndromeda paused in her work to sit up straight
for a moment. Her lower back ached because the
Ambassador of the planet Felicity’s democracy had
been in the dentist’s chair for the last half hour getting
a careful cleaning of his teeth and fillings.
busy. So we thought we’d try you here.” Helan’s eyes
sought hers, and he grimaced as he saw her being
restrained. She absurdly felt grateful to the man who
held her. It made her feel less guilty.
“Ooh, oo ant oo awk?” Helan said.
Helan opened one purple-irised eye.
The Feliciter smiled grimly. “Yes. Is now a bad time?”
“Aw hu aww ight?” he asked.
The Ambassador clicked his tongue behind his teeth.
A laser burst out of one of his fillings, killing the man
who stood over him. Having the advantage of surprise,
Helan shot all the Democratists in a matter of split
seconds. Andromeda screamed as the man holding her
dropped to the floor.
She smiled sadly under her facemask. He’d seemed so
nice when she’d been doing his intake information; it
was a shame about what going to happen to him.
“Yes, I am, thanks for asking,” she replied, wriggling on
the stool to find a more comfortable position without
letting go of the instruments in his mouth.
The Ambassador removed the dental equipment from
“En ill uh eniss um?”
“Actually, yes. This is a bad time,” he said, rising.
“The dentist is working on a root canal in the other
room,” she said. “It won’t be long now. And I’m not quite
finished yet, anyway.”
Helan looked at her. “Andromeda, cancel the rest of
my appointment, please. I would like to come back
tomorrow to finish up, and get this filling repaired as
well. Can you fit me in?”
Satisfied, he closed his eyes again.
In truth, she was finished, but returned to poking
around in his mouth. She was just delaying. She knew
Dentist Macomber was not going to come, because
others were coming instead. The Democratists, a new
political party on Felicity, had come earlier to the office
and bribed Macomber to allow them to take Helan
hostage so their demands could be met back home. As
the hygienist, she’d been told that if she wanted to keep
her job she had better keep her mouth shut and allow
it to happen.
Andromeda could only nod dumbly as the Ambassador
stepped with unconcern over the bodies on his way out.
small layer of faded, pink paint falls gently from
tired walls in a room cast in a patina of grey
dust. He approaches the window and wearily kneels
down. He slowly looks through frayed curtains.
smoke lingers from the rifle barrel. The man in the
room rises – not before checking for movement on
the street one more time. The sun finally sinks into
the hushed void of night.
Outside, the sun against cerulean brilliance,
illuminates the fractured street. He dare not look
at the immovable body prostrate on the bed behind
him. Upon one of her silent ivory fingers is a gold
Now he would sleep like huddled animal, in corner,
existing, struggling to find clean breath, but not here.
He never releases his grip on his rifle even in the
troubled depths of his sleep. During the night a feral
cat, wild-eyed and ragged, pours itself into the house
through a broken window. It quickly leaves, not first
without waking him. Even predatory animals know,
instinctually, if a place will eat them.
A lone dog, emaciated but determined, its ribs
in bold relief, scavenges the street - the only
pedestrian. He loads his gun with sharp bullets,
when finished he sits motionless, like a forgotten
statue. Beneath, amongst concrete shards - blood
stains old and new mock the plain grey hues
of splintered pavement. Democracy has long
abandoned this place.
Without thinking he rises to check for food from a
fridge that was empty a long time ago. Some habits
are hard to change. Upon the fridge is a picture
painted with childish hands. Bright red crayon
depicts the outlines of a man, a woman, a child and
a cat. In the background the sun beams – happier
times. He looks away, out onto the derelict garden,
where the turgid, round moon suffuses the unkempt
lawn with a delicate silver wash. Hard to believe he
was once a content family man, was once a dentist.
As the moon further ascends, the cat silently returns,
slinking across the luminous garden. He recognises
the cat – it Andromeda, his own cat. However,
Andromeda doesn’t recognise him and quickly leaves
to forage into the darkness of night. Before settling
down again to sleep, he goes upstairs to check there
is no movement on the street. He loads his rifle,
puts on the safety, and then falls asleep.
And there he sits, immovable. The sun, beginning its
slow, protracted fall - casts elongated shadows that
slowly claw across the narrow street.
The clocks in the house are dead so time passes
to its own slow beat. In the distance a man in
uniform appears. Like a persistent apparition he
slowly moves, closer. The soldier stays close to the
shadows, moving precisely, cautiously.
A thunderous crack reverberates – then the thud of
body falling, like cow slaughtered. The job done. Blue
As she was remembering, a hand covered her mouth
as different hands took over her tools. She inhaled
sharply, and then realized the Democratists were here.
“Hello, Ambassador,” said a Felicity man beside him.
Susan Bianculli, a happily married mother of two
living in Georgia, has loved to read all her life. As a
graduate of Emerson College with a Minor in Writing,
she is finally making a foray to the other side of the
book cover. She hopes, through her stories, to share
and inspire in young readers the same love of reading
that she had at their age, and still has now.
Helan’s eyes snapped open. He tried to get up, but
hands held him down as the speaker pressed the
instruments into the Ambassador’s mouth. He winced.
So did she.
“We’ve been trying to get an appointment to see you
for a while now, but your secretary always says you’re
Sean is a biologist who is also passionate about writing. Poems and articles form the
bulk of his writings. As an incorrigible lover of nature, Sean’s idea