Done Playing Nice

“If you had nothing to hide, why did you fire off all the escape pods and try to scuttle the ship?”

The lanky captain looked like a wax manikin who’d spent a little time in an oven, his features drawn and sullen. His bottom lip quivered uncontrollably and his pink, swollen eyes sat atop gaunt, wet cheeks.

He finally blubbered, “I don’t know,” between pitiful sniffles.

“Your gutlessness makes me impatient,” the woman said. Turning to her guards, she added, “Hold him down.”

The captain’s eyes bulged like overfilled balloons, comical to her dark sensibilities. There was a brief, obligatory-yet-futile struggle, and then the four bulky guards had him pinned to the table. If they had been rougher than was strictly necessary, she didn’t notice.

“Where is the boy?” she asked.

“I don’t…I don’t…”

“Where is the boy?”


“Where is the boy?”


She plucked a writing stylus from the captain’s shirt pocket and drilled it in his thigh like she was expecting to find oil, only stopping when she hit bone. He screamed in anguish and bucked uselessly against the guards. She waited impatiently for him to shut up.

“Three chances, I gave you. I would have preferred to avoid this unpleasantness, but you’ve proved insistent.” She slapped at the end of the stylus protruding from his bloodied pantleg and he howled again.

“The femoral artery,” she said, “is smaller than your little finger. But with an open puncture wound, you’ll bleed out faster than you can apply a tourniquet. Would you like to see a demonstration?”

He shook his head with the panicked frenzy of a frightened animal. “No! Please no.”

“Tell me where to find the boy.” She clutched the stylus between her forefinger and thumb, ready to unleash the blood geyser it kept corked.

His mouth moved but nothing escaped but drool, his wasted cries lodged high in his throat.

She lifted her arm high in the air as if removing sword from stone, her hand firmly clenched. As the captain’s face turned a sickly chalky color, the woman uncurled her gloved fingers like the blossoming of a flower that only grows in nightterrors. Her hand was empty. The styles remained, for now, lodged in the captain’s leg. She smiled and winked, and the captain let out a long whiney breath as if he were deflating.

“Space him,” she ordered, and she turned her back as the guards hauled the captain to the airlock down the hall.

What a disappointment. Oh well; it was what it was.

She’d find the boy, she was sure of that much. But it was time to change tactics. She was done playing nice.

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