The latest forum short story competition was Squaxx cinema – a mash-up of a 2000AD character with a film. The winner was Mark Howard with his Blade Runner – The 2000th Cut story. Thanks to Mark for permission to reprint it here. Watch out in the general part of the forum for a new competition soon.
Deckard crashed onto the rotten timbers of the roof. Rain and splinters stung his aching body, his hand spasmed with grinding cramp. This was it, for sure. The replicant would be on him soon, with the strength to tear him apart.
He scrambled across the slimy surface, searching for a weapon – a piece of metal, a length of wire, a discarded length of wood – something, anything. But there was nothing.
Nothing. Not even the expected attack. Where the Hell was it? Why had the replicant not killed him already?
Deckard rolled onto his back, determined to at least die facing his attacker. He swiped the rain and grit from his eyes. Batty stood over him, head cocked like a curious dog. Deckard, his desperate feet slipping and scraping, pushed himself away until he collided with something and could go no further.
The replicant didn’t follow. What was it doing? Was that a dove in its hand? Deckard’s jaw tightened. It was playing with him, stretching out the kill.
Its white hair and skin slick with rain, the replicant grimaced as if against a migraine and then forced itself to gaze into Deckard’s eyes. It licked rain from its lips. “I’ve seen things…”
Roy Batty’s head exploded, its replicant brains darker and thicker than human tissue.
“Sorry I’m late.”
Deckard looked around. “Slade! Am I glad to see you!”
Sam Slade nudged the replicant’s corpse with the toe of his boot. “You shouldn’t be,” he said.
Deckard frowned. “Hell do you mean, Sam?”
Slade almost flinched, obviously uncomfortable. “Bryant sent me.”
Deckard began to pull himself off his back. “Bryant? What do you mean?”
Slade raised his gun. “Sorry, Deckard, truly I am.”
The single gunshot echoed across the rooftops as the rain eased and stopped. Slade, his face betraying guilt, stepped over the Deckard replicant’s corpse to meet the incoming police flyer.
Just one more to go. Then that was it. He couldn’t do this any more – replicants were too human – so he’d turn in his badge. Stick it up Bryant’s fat ass. Employing replicants to catch replicants was too much.
But what else could he do? Slade nodded as Gaff brought the flyer in to land. There were lots of ordinary robots going rogue these days – maybe he could go private; hunting them instead…
Over on the 2000AD forums the bimonthly 500 word short story contest continues. the most recent theme was for a mash up of two different Prog series. The winner was Mark the Legendary Shark with his story “Old Dreads, New Hopes” and he has given us permission to post it up here.
The new theme is 2000AD at the movies so if you are feeling creative head over there and write away.
Congratulations to the Shark for the following winning entry.
Old Dreads, New Hopes
Johnny ran, tears stinging his eyes, welts across his back hot and sore.
‘Come back here, you snecking little mutie freak!’ The voice came from behind, the speaker hidden by trees. Johnny knew there were six of them, older boys. Normal boys. With sticks and knives.
Tears in Johnny’s weird white eyes made the forest shimmer and blur. He wiped a sleeve across his face, kept running; ignoring the slashes and snags of brambles and branches.
‘Johnny Weird Eyes! Gonna cut those eyes right outta your head!’ The voice was still behind Johnny but further away and to his left. He followed his instinct and turned right.
‘Here! He’s over here!’
Johnny glanced back and his stomach lurched. One of the teenagers, armed with a scatterpult, crashed out of the undergrowth. The calls of the other boys echoed out of the forest – from his left and his right. Small steel ball-bearings from the scatterpult slapped into his back like supersonic wasp stings. Johnny yelped and ran faster until, suddenly, he was out of the woods and into a clearing. In the middle stood a log cabin with a wisp of smoke trickling from its chimney. Johnny ran towards the cabin, shouting for help.
The teenagers, all six of them, achieved the clearing before Johnny got to the door. Ball-bearings slapped into his back and buttocks and rattled against the cabin.
‘Got you now, freakshow!’
The door flew open even as Johnny got close.
‘Incendiary,’ a grizzled voice said. A gunshot smashed through Johnny’s ears and a section of the forest erupted in flames. The teenagers ran, uninjured but terrified, back into the trees.
Johnny saw little of the old man in the gloomy doorway. He was tall, wore a very old, patched sleather one-piece and a wild, grey beard. The rest of his face was in shadow but his eyes flickered in the darkness. The telltale sign, Johnny knew, of a failing bionics system.
‘Th… thank you, sir.’
‘Welcome. Now git gone, kid. Ain’t safe around me. Never was, never will be.’
Johnny paused, pains in his back stinging hotter. ‘Sir, will you teach me to shoot like that?’
‘How old are you, kid?’
‘Hmph. Well, you’re the right age but no, I ain’t got time.’ The old man pushed the door.
‘Please, sir! There’s six of them!’
The old man grunted. ‘So?’
Johnny dropped his eyes, trying not to cry. ‘I’m afraid, sir. They want to kill me.’
‘Hmph.’ The old man paused. ‘You want teachin’? Okay, here’s all I got, kid. Six of ’em come after you; go back at ’em like there’s seven of you. Never give up, never give in, never back down an’ never – ever – take no for an answer. Now get lost, kid, I ain’t got all day.’
The door slammed shut. Johnny stood watching the fire burn out, pondering the old man’s words. He rubbed his palms into his eyes, sniffed deeply and spat.
Ignoring his pain, the young mutant straightened up, set his jaw and marched back into the forest.
Winner of the last 2000AD forum short story competition, Tales from the Clara Pandy, and printed VERY late (my fault, sorry) with the author’s permission, we give you…..
“You ratted me out?”
“You dirty rat!”
“Enough,” squeaked Weil to his brothers before tightening his tail tighter into the knot for reassurance. “Look, it doesn’t matter if they never have a good word to say about us. Right now, we need their help. I am dying.” Weil lifted his chin briefly from the cushion. “And if I die before we get help”—he coughed blood—“our knot will undo and you’ll all become like Algernon.”
“How dare you,” squeaked one of Weil’s brothers, though Weil’s mind was clouding and he could not place the squeak. “Algernon was a mouse; I am no mouse!”
Weil let his tail go limp and held his breath and lay still, and his brothers all gasped and gnashed their teeth and clawed at the cushion.
“See—you’re all frightened of losing Our mind,” squeaked Weil. “There is nothing to fear from humans; they’ve always been helpful. They build sewers.”
His brothers warmed to that.
“And grain silos.”
“And garden sheds.”
“And garbage bags.”
“And alley ways.”
“And the Hoop.”
“And nail technician boutiques!”
“Err, no—that’s just you, Hanta.”
“I do find dealing with humans distasteful,” squeaked Weil. “They travel the stars as they once traveled the seas, always thinking that everything is about them, never bothering to learn anything else’s language, never thinking that they have to share with the rest of us.” He spat more blood. “Such ignorance. You have to squeak at Johnny Primate slower and louder until he finally realises that you’re squeaking to him—and even then, Johnny Primate won’t listen or even try to listen: he’ll just scream and run off and call pest control and bring poison and death.” Weil rolled his eyes. “Pest control, indeed.”
His brothers tittered.
“It’s almost like they don’t realise that they’re the pests,” went on Weil. “Pollution, war, extinction, Gaiacide—all uniquely human to life on Earth.” Weil paused, struggling for breath. “The Cetaceans are taking us to Pototoplec for a reason: pest control, to cull the humans before they steal and ruin and destroy and, well, humanise the place.” Another pause, then, “My legs feel cold,” then, “I feel so cold,” then, “Hanta has bio-engineered a virus so potent that humans will flee the place—”
Hanta clacked his manicured claws, as if to prove the point.
“Assuming they survive long enough to flee,” squeaked Weil. “Then the Cetaceans will quarantine the planet for the humans’ safety.”
“We’ll get the blame,” squeaked one of his brothers. “We always do.”
“Listen: there’s a human coming,” squeaked another brother. “Let’s squeak for help. Remember: squeak louder and slower to get its attention.”
Weil’s head lay tired and heavy on the cushion. He watched as the human came into the Rat King’s cabin. He didn’t notice her shocked face. He saw only that she had a tail. He dipped her a nod and closed his eyes for the last time.