Black Petals Issue #88, Summer, 2019

This Isn't You

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Place of His Own-Fiction by Dorian Sinnott
Blood on the Riviera-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 13-Fiction by A.M.Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 14-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Chapter 15-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Next Stop: Napper's Holler-Conclusion-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Red Dress-Fiction byTrisha McKee
The Dead Are Not Lonely-Fiction by A. L. Hodges
The Taxidermist is Hatching-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
This Isn't You-Fiction by J. David Thayer
Love River Forever-Poem by Hicham El Qendouci
Fire Rages from Her Fingertips-4 Poems by T. B. Kelley
Sheepsquatch-3 poems by Richard Stevenson


This Isn’t You


By J. David Thayer

Or is it?




This isn’t you.

You wouldn’t do this.

What is this? You’re shooting at people! Some kind of gun where your left hand should be. What even is that?! That can’t be real. Some sort of laser?  What?! No. Can’t be. Wake up! People are dying. They feel familiar. Mute screaming. Theirs and yours.

[Fire. Kill.]

Body at your feet. Did you know him? Nike hoodie. Baseball bat. All he had was a bat. More like him scattered around. Pockets of rebels. A last stand. Brave but hopeless. You are sweeping the streets for them. You and others like you. Stop! This isn’t you. Stop firing! Why are you firing?

You know this street. Played stickball here. Fourth grade. Joey Something was pitching. Red rubber ball. Broom handle. It was in the fall. Here comes the pitch. Slow motion.

[New data]

It’s gone now.

[Rapid fire. Red beams]

[Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.]

[March. Fire. Kill. March.]

You are the enemy. These are your neighbors. Hate and panic. Desperation and rage. They use whatever they can scrounge. Whatever was in their garages and attics and basements and sheds and under their beds. Pointless. Swords against tanks. Stop! Why can’t you stop?

[Looks down]

Some of that is still your arm. Tattoo of a tuna. But metal also. What is this? How do you even know what to do? You’ve never shot a gun in your life! But you never miss. You don’t waste a single bolt. Every blast is another kill. See all without seeing. 360 degrees. One tenth of one second.

[Fire. Kill. Fire. Kill. Fire. Kill.]

You want to scream, but you can’t. They scream but you can’t hear them. Why can’t you? Dreaming. Comatose. Hallucination. Psychosis. No. This is something else.

Rubble and crumbling concrete. Craters. Chunks of buildings. Collapsed roofs. Bricks and rebar. Splintered glass. Overturned cars on fire. People hiding. You shoot without aiming. Without thinking. Your weapons track them perfectly, shelter or no shelter. Infrared. Heat signatures. Smart bombs. They fight with their eyes and their guts. They have no chance.

This isn’t you. Who is this? Who are you? Who are you right now? You were someone else once.

Rock hits you. You fire and kill him who threw it. You didn’t want to, but you had no say.

Watching a movie. You must be watching a movie. You used to love movies. Heroes won; villains lost. All in two hours. Only details differed. In movies heroes were easy to spot. So were villains. The worse the odds, the better the film. This film must be fantastic. Good guys are losing so far. Badly. You root for them, yet you shoot them. The turn must be coming. Big climax. Find our weakness and bring us down! Where is our hero? We need a hero! Which we are you?

Molotov cocktail hits you. Flesh burns. Should hurt but does not. You wish it would hurt.

[Fire. Kill.]

Others march with you. Thousands. They fan out and search house to house. Are they watching this same movie? Do they remember this street? Can they not scream? Can they not stop? Am I alone, or are we alone together?

Floating in darkness. Real but not real. Not a movie; a video game. You must be playing a video game.

[Fire. Kill. Fire. Kill.]

[Level up]

[New skin]

Enough. You will stop. But you can’t. Yes, you can! Yes. Here is your chance. They made a mistake sending you down this street. Too familiar. Regained your bearings.

A gutted storefront. Was a pizzeria here...right here? You ate here after baseball games. Mom, Dad, and teammates. Hoisted participation trophies like champions. Played Q*Bert. A girl laughed. Extra-large, all cheese. Right here. It all happened here. Here. Take your stand here. Here and no further. Let them snap you if they can.

[Fire. Miss.]

Stop! Fight! But not these people. These are your people. Return to your people. Help them! Be their hero. Lead! Fight against them that took you! Your people from outside; you from inside. Remember. Concentrate. Fight! Before the next signal comes. Reach for it! Base of skull.

[Raises gun. Fires into the sky.]

Fight! Your soul bubbling near the surface. The hive mind has lost track of you. They’ll be back. Your right hand is not a gun. Metal from elbow to wrist, but those are your fingers. You twitch them. You reach for the implant without being told. The implant! You remember the implant!

You remember when they hoisted you like a trophy. Impaled you with that foreign body. Left it there. Base of skull. Switch flipped and you were gone. Then came the saws and your new parts. Quick work and very skilled. Pressure but no pain. Did the same to thousands of people. Piles of discarded limbs and trunks. All sizes. Indiscriminate. You were in a stadium. A baseball stadium. Instant army. Made you ready. Set you loose. You are the first wave. They wait in safety until they have their beachhead. What follows will be worse.

Base of skull.

Now is your window! Now! Thoughts are clear. Pull it! Pull it before they find you! May kill you. So be it! Death is better. They can’t have you! Pull it! PULL IT! You are not a traitor! This is you! Pull it!

This is me.

I can’t reach it.

[New data]



[New data]

[Fire. Kill.]

This isn't you.

You wouldn’t do this.

What is this?


The End



J. David Thayer,, who wrote BP #88’s tale, “This Isn’t You,” is an educator living in Texas. His works have appeared in The First Line, The Last Line, Dizzy Emu Publishing, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bewildering Stories, 101 Word Stories, and Pilcrow & Dagger.

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