• Nitojec

Nightmare

The sunlight coming in through the window behind her paled in comparison – her skin was golden, luminescent in a way most couldn’t put words to. Soulless metal panels faded into the glow, made to spec and forgotten: the station spun silently through the void of space.

“I want to be brighter than the sun.” She said.

“Yeh. I hear ye. But I can’ be helpin you, now can I?”

She smiled, with a face devoid of features, at the rotund man. His bald head shone under thin wisps of hair. “Regulations–“

“Aren’t shit in a place like this.”

He sighed.

“I know you have what I want – you’re just refusing to sell it to me – and that’s mighty unkind.”

“It’s nothin’ personal lady. I sell to you, I set a standard, a standard I can’ keep.”

“I can make it worth your time.”

“As you’ve been sayin’. But tell me somethin, have you been considerin what you want actually means?”

She ran a hand through her unkempt golden hair. Flecks caught the light, glittering brighter than the starfield behind her. An empty holster sat on her hip. “I have. And I don’t care about any bigger implication you might be trying to make. All I care is that you have what I want, and I’ve offered to pay for it – more than what it’s worth, mind you – yet you still refuse.” She leaned forward, planting a hand on the battered desk between them. “That’s not good business.”


“Somthin like it gets into the wrong hands–“ He scowled. “–lets just be sayin the fuzz is the last thing I need be worrin about.”


“Yeah, yeah. My hands are the right hands though.”


“All I have is your word.”


“And that should be enough!” She threw her arms wide, fingers outstretched. “What more do you need? A personalized, engraved character reference?”


“That’d be a start, lady.”


“You test my patience.”


The man scratched at his scraggly beard. “Yeah, and you be wastin my time.”


Her shoulders rose and fell as she took a deep breath. “Have you ever had a daydream leak into your day?”


“Scuse me?”


“Even a sorry excuse for a fleshbag like you must have had a daydream at some point. Something you think of right before drifting off into sleep, something that gets you out of bed in the morning.”


“Yeh. And it none of your business.”


“Mine is to–“


“Be brighter than the sun.” He shook his head. “You already said.”


“Not only that. But be able to go where I want, to do whatever my heart desires and–”


“–Smellin the roses. You’re a damn idealist, lady. I would welcome you to real life, but I be doubting you have any money.”


She scowled, licking her teeth with the poise of a tiger. “Let me put it to you this way: I have somewhere to be, and I need what you have. No isn’t an answer I’m willing to take.”


“It’s one you’re gonna be havin to take. Cause there aint no way–“ He jabbed a thick finger at her. “–I’m giving you what you want.”


“I’m not going to beg.” Her voice dropped a pitch.


“Good, there’s the door. Feel free to be using it.”


She let out a long breath and turned to look out the window. For a moment he would have sworn sunlight filtered through her, for the shimmer under her skin. “Have you ever had a nightmare bigger than everybody?”


“Keep talkin nonsense, see where it be gettin you.”


She chuckled. “That sounds like a threat, fleshbag.”


“You best be leavin.” He stood, drawing a shotgun from under the desk and cradling it in his arms.


“Have you ever had a thought–“ She whirled, faster than he could see, brandishing a smile like a banshee. Her voice dropped another pitch, barely audible above the thrumming station around them. “–that you know won’t go away?”


He leveled the shotgun on her and pulled back the hammers. Sweat glistened on his brow. “Last chance, lady.”


She cocked her head to the side, teeth flashing.

Both barrels exploded into flame, burning gunpowder driving hunks of lead down the barrels and into her head. He squinted through the smoke, sunlight filtering through from the window beyond. A shadow gathered itself from the chaos.


“Have you ever had a nightmare?” She whispered, golden miasma leaking from gaping wounds in her neck and jaw. Her aura flared, but he felt no heat. Around him, his desk, his gun, his flesh, was caressed with the care of a lover. And with each, the corruption spread. Wood warped with age, metal turned to ash, and his flesh melted away into sand. He screamed, falling back, but she caught him with a careless gesture. She leaned in close, nipping his ear with her reforming teeth. “That you know won’t go away?”

Straining for breath, he suffocated in her essence. She licked her lips slowly, and with the grace of a predator, watched him die. With his last breath, she dropped him. His body shattered into sand – golden sand belonging on a beach far away.


She kicked through the sand and dug through his desk. Grinning, she laid hands on her prize, holding it high. A revolver, ornately carved and polished to brilliance, sparkled in the sunlight. She caressed the carved wooden handle.


“It’s been too long, old friend.” A shiver passed through her. Memories from a time long past came to the surface – a time from when the stars were younger and the inhabitants deadly: fearsome battles of an intensity unimaginable to the fleshbags of today. Entire systems lain bare and species wiped out without a second thought.


She holstered the revolver. “It’ll be like that again someday. That–” She chuckled. “–I promise.”

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Science Fiction and the pursuit of escapism, 2020.