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Flash Fiction Contest Winner #14 – “New Guy”
Please note: Flash fiction stories are submitted by members of our Discord server. Many contain adult themes and may be objectionable to some readers.
Me and Pauly and the new guy were sitting at the table, playing cards and waiting. It was one of those sunshiny days when you think, no one’s going to do it today, it’s too nice. But then the beeper went off.
We piled into the cab of old E.T. and checked the screen. There was one in midtown, right in Times Square. When we got there, the bluebots had it all closed off with plastiwalls so people couldn’t see, and boy were there people watching. The bots let us right in, same as they always do.
“Woah,” I said. “Get a load of this, Pauly. Worst splat I’ve seen since the Oathmakers.” And it was. The guy was red mud on the concrete with some bones poking out. The radius had to be twenty feet.
“Hey, new guy,” Pauly said, “you’re looking a little, uh, green.”
The new guy wasn’t just green, he was about to spew.
“I’m fine,” he said. “And my name is Tim.”
“Sure thing, new guy,” I said. “Now open up the bags and let’s get this cleaned up. I’m workin’ on a straight flush back at the office.”
He unzipped the black duffels and we got to work. It was rough, but it was work, and not everyone had it anymore, especially not in the city. The only reason we did was that people didn’t like the bluebots touching dead folks. Had to be real humans cause otherwise it reminded them too much of what the bots were doing to us in everything else.
“I don’t get it,” the new guy said. “How did he jump this far out?”
Pauly wrung out his mop into the sanitizer. “Whatdya mean?”
“There’s no buildings close enough. No way.”
We looked up. He was right. This guy had splatted right in the middle of the Square.
“Parachute or a glider or something,” I said. But we didn’t find one.
That bothered me, it bothered me until we finished and the bluebots shut down the plastiwalls and we got back in E.T.
But the screen in E.T. was a freakshow.
“Twenty-six new splats?” Pauly said. “That’s—that’s a month’s work in a day.”
“Another cult,” I said. “Gonna be a long night, new guy.”
The new guy took a drink from his coffee. “Fine. But if I make it through this, you call me Tim.”
I glanced at Pauly. “Deal.”
The next one was like the first, a smear of guts and bones and clothes and crap. Then another, and another. Finally we got to one that wasn’t. She’d crash-landed in Central Park, torn up the lawn like a plane and hit a rock wall.
“This is freakin’ me out,” Pauly said. “Look at this doll. No glider, no nothin’.”
We started the cleanup, with the new guy working the autoseeder to fix the grass. Pauly and I grabbed the girl and hauled her into the bag and I saw a little blue bottle peeking out of her pocket.
I pulled it out. “Look. It just says ‘get high’ on the side. No prescription.”
Pauly glanced around, then took the bottle and opened the top. “Jus’ pills. Yo, new guy.”
Pauly tossed him the bottle. “You ever seen pills like this?”
“Cause you look like the type—”
He shook his head. “Not anymore.”
“Just look it up for me, eh? I seen your blackbox.”
He sighed and scanned the pill bottle. “Get high on life. It’ll really make you—”
“Make you what?”
“No way,” I said. “No fuckin’ way.”
“Says it only lasts ten minutes though. Antigrav, but for your body. Brand new.”
“Give it here,” I said. “It goes in the bag with the rest of it.”
The new guy looked at the pills, then looked at me.
“Alright, you can keep one. One!”
“Me too,” Pauly said.
The new guy split the pills three ways and tossed the empty bottle in the body bag.
We got relief from the mayor at five A.M. the next day. They were gonna have the bluebots take over, which was good cause we had over eight hundred calls left.
I said goodbye to Tim and Pauly and walked to the subway entrance, barely able to stand. When I reached for my pass I felt the lump of pills in my pocket.
It was going to be a long ride back to the island. A long ride.
Or a short flight.