Genre: near-future suspense
She’s a hacker with a disabled son, living in a martial state. The future looks dark, with no promise of relief from the tyranny, and when her son’s life is threatened, the mother must fight back using whatever means necessary.
Where You Can Find It
As have many Americans, I’ve been frustrated lately. As a culture, we seem to have lost our way, our humanity, and our decency. This short story is my way of expressing and venting that frustration, as well as an effort to remember the good in people. Written in 2018.
I rest a hand on Gio’s shoulder, and he looks up from the half-naked pop star writhing on his computer monitor, a smile lingering on his face. That’s my hormonal eighteen-year-old. My heart aches on its next beat.
“Hi, Mom,” he says, head loose on his neck. He wrangles it under control and pushes his headphones off one ear.
“Hi.” I sit on the bed, within reach of him in his electric wheelchair, and I pet its vinyl-covered armrest. Gio doesn’t need it all the time. His Muscular Dystrophy hasn’t progressed that far. On his good days, he shuffles around with a walker.
I ask, “Whatcha doin’?”
“Soaking up as much Internet as I can,” Gio says, his tongue thick, words carefully pronounced. “Before they take it all away. What are…you doing?” He sets his hand on mine. His fingers are cold, soft, and awkward. I hold them, warm them, love them.
“Just taking a break from the computer.”
He leans toward me, eyes bright with interest. “Hacking?”
“Shhh.” I look over my shoulder, then feel ridiculous—and yet…
He whispers, “You think they’re listening?”
I shrug. “I’m baking cookies. Got it?”
Gio tips his head back and chortles. “Got it!” I feel the weak squeeze of his hand in mine. “I love your cookies.”
“No. When’s Dad going to call?”
“I don’t know.” It’s been nine months since Antonio was drafted, and forty-five days since we last talked to him. A portion of his paycheck appears every month, so I know he’s alive. Last time I spoke to him, he said something about being transferred to the Templar brigade. He said they might send him to fight in Jordan.
I release Gio’s hand and pretend to watch the video with him, following his cues to laugh, hiding the worries that are surging over me. What if I get caught in the deep underground? How will we pay for Gio’s care? What if Antonio is killed in Babylon?
They’re calling the war “The Final Crusade.” The American attack on Israel and Palestine surprised everyone. They surrendered without a whimper, and U.S. forces installed a provisionary government. The evangelists proclaimed a victory for Jesus.
Year written: 2018
Year first published: 2019