art by Billy Sagulo
The Decent Thing
by Dex Fernandez
Squirrel died in the snow.
I heard the shot and came running. I found him gurgling and clutching his throat. He'd been hit right in the throat, right above the breastplate of his armor. He was looking at me, pawing the dirty snow with his free hand, and I knew right then he was trying to scream. All that came out of his mouth was blood, bright red, gushing over his hand and his ridiculous bush mustache, what he called his 'flavor saver.' Spraying the dirty gray snow around him.
I saw all this in the space of a second. It was too long. I could've died right then and there, because there was a woman there, too. Civilian. Skinny and wild-eyed and wearing rags, holding the hand of a little blond-haired girl. In her other hand she had a revolver.
"Gun!" I yelled. Once upon a time I would have told her to put down the gun and get on the ground, but those days were gone. We'd learned. Now I brought up my rifle, centered the targeting laser on her chest, and double-tapped her. Blood and bits of flesh exploded out of her back. The kid jumped at the sound and suddenly was alone.