Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Flash Fiction: Patty-Cake

By Mary Findley



Magazine Cover by Sarah Alten

"Patty-Cake, Patty-Cake, Baker's man ..." Dr. Isabel Regis sat on the floor in a black evening gown, her golden hair in diamond combs. Julie, the baby sitter, folded into place.

"Bake me a cake as fast as you can ... " Julie kept up the rhythm. Emily squealed as her mother joined her dress-uniform-clad father in the doorway.

“So beautiful,” Captain Lincoln Regis murmured into her ear.

“We haven’t had a night alone in three years.”

“My coma, Baby Emily, or Baby Sentinels, nonstop. God gave us people who made us come out of our den and be civilized for one night.”

“It was nice getting all dressed up, fussing over me instead of diapers and wipes.”

“Or plexiglass housings or fiberoptic cable or …” Linc opened the car door for her. “Hey, could we skip the reception and ... ?”

“The marines would come looking. What if they found us?” Izzy giggled. “How can they honor us for our work in cheap clean energy, anti-gravity and robotics if we don’t come to our own reception? The Lord brought us here, and expects us to do everything decently and in order.”

The Sentinel on the sidewalk waved its tentacles as if saying good-bye. It floated five feet off the ground, egg-shaped, bronze-colored plexiglass glowing with Izzite gas power: light and buoyancy. Its red forward sensor panel followed the car out of sight.

***************

Two black figures flitted behind the house. The Sentinel moved. A soundless flash filled the night air. The Sentinel lay on the ground, tentacles twitching and groping, energy core pulsing and sizzling. The saboteurs continued.

A second Sentinel met them at the rear of the single-story quadrangle of buildings housing apartments and the research team laboratories. Another silent explosion knocked the Sentinel against the wall shattered its globe and rocked the whole building.

Julie had put Emily to bed and gone to the bathroom. Terrified, she discovered the door was jammed. She pounded on the door, screaming for help. She could hear Emily begin to cry in the nursery.

Two saboteurs rounded the front of the Regis house. A third Sentinel appeared in the open garage. This one had perfectly round housing, almost clear, faintly golden. It hovered almost six feet above the ground and its tentacles were longer and thicker. It had no visible sensory devices.

One intruder tossed a bomb, signaling the other to run. The Sentinel seemed to drift. The brilliant flash obscured it for a moment. When the light faded the front of the Regis home was blown away. The Sentinel, however, continued moving toward the saboteurs. One threw another explosive. The Sentinel's tentacles reached for the two saboteurs and drew them toward itself. Both screamed.

***************

“Now, now, Captain, Doctor, I know it looks bad, but everything’s okay,” the marine guarding the ruined front of the Regis house assured them. “We’re getting the babysitter out of the bathroom. You need to get your little girl.”

Linc and Izzy tore down the hall. Just inside the nursery door they skidded to a halt.

“Well, we prayed that the new design would be an improvement,” Linc whispered.

“More durable, more adaptable.” Izzy nodded. “Just like God helped us plan it.”

“Did we – um – did you –”

“I did not plan that.”

Emily sat up in her crib, reaching her chubby hands toward the waving tentacles of the Ultra Sentinel as it hovered over her. She patted the tentacles which seemed to be patting back. “Pa-Cake!”

*****


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1 comment:

precariousyates said...

Great story! Can't wait to see more from Mary Findley!

 
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