MASH Magazine Issue 2 - Page 14

The Appointment Siege A 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 his mouth. “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. Shortlisted Story A 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 ring. 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 Susan Bianculli 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 14 Shortlisted Story Sean Fagan 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