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Flash Fiction: The War

Rachel Lulich has loved sci-fi ever since she hid on the stairs while Darth Vader electrocuted Luke in her living room. Now she writes it.

Author's Note

I really enjoyed writing this 500-word story. I hope you enjoy reading it!


The War

Cyril scanned the letter again, an official notice from the draft board. Conscientious Objector status was no longer a valid exemption, as everyone was needed in the war against the cyborgs. Translation: the humans were losing. Conscientious objectors would be assigned roles as non-combatants, but they still had to take a physical to determine what jobs they could do. Cyril’s appointment details were typed at the bottom of the page, after the Quadrant Commander’s signature block.

Cyril inhaled, exhaled, and opened the door.

His mother was making dinner. She looked over her shoulder when he entered.

“Was there any mail?”

Cyril handed her the letter. She read the contents, and judging by how long it took, she read them twice.

“I was afraid of this,” she said, her voice soft with the confession of suspicions she had withheld, worries she had concealed from him.

Cyril nodded. He had seen the worry lines growing on her face; had noted the ever-lengthening looks she gave him when she thought he couldn’t see; the sadness in her eyes.

“What do I do?” he asked.

“You’ll have to leave. Get past the cyborg’s blockade where they won’t find you.”

It took Cyril a moment to process what she’d said. He tilted his head. “We don’t have a starship.”

“Yes, we do.”

Again, it took a moment for her words to compute.

“I’ve been saving up,” she explained. “Last week, I bought one. It’s in the canyon.”


“Go, Cy. Don’t wait.”

“Come with me.”

She shook her head. “I’d never make it past the blockade.”

He clenched his fists against the cyborgs and the war they had started. He hated them.

His mother embraced him. “Go.”

Cyril kissed her cheek, unable to speak, and left. He ran mechanically to the canyon, scanning the landscape for the hidden ship. It was cloaked—she must have saved for it since he was a child. He located the security terminal and hacked the door.

Hacking had always been easy for him.

Flying was another matter, or should have been, but his mother had thought of that, too. A quick scan revealed an input chip on the primary console, labeled “Practical Spaceflight.” Cyril held it between his thumb and index finger. It was new.

It was hard enough to find used chips poached from fallen cyborgs on the black market, but a fresh one? How had she managed that?

Cyril’s throat tightened, but he pushed the emotion to the side. She was right. The sooner he left, the better his chances of escape. He’d still be a fugitive, but the cyborgs wouldn’t fear him.

His heart beat faster at the thought. They should. They should fear him. He wouldn’t just run away. He would destroy the cyborgs, the way they wanted to destroy the humans. They’d never see it coming. It would be easy.

Cyril tapped his left forearm to reveal the access port hidden beneath his skin and inserted the chip. Thirty seconds later, he was airborne.


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