Glimpses: The Best Short Stories of Rick Hautala

Free Glimpses: The Best Short Stories of Rick Hautala by Rick Hautala

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Authors: Rick Hautala
refrigerator. The humming noise rose to a sudden, piercing squeal, and then the vibration shook the ground like a distant earthquake.
    “ Beth! ” he called out, watching as fragments of the moon broke off and slowly drifted down from the sky. They fluttered and hissed like falling snow as they rushed through the trees behind him. And then he saw something overhead that was impossible to believe. The peeling paint had exposed a vast complex of spinning gears and cogs with a huge network of circuits and switches that glowed as they overheated. The humming sound rose even higher until it was unbearable as more and more pieces of the night sky chipped away and fell, revealing the machinery behind the night sky.
    At last, Dave realized—as impossible as it was—what was happening.
    “Beth!” he yelled, as loud as he could so his wife could hear him above the steadily rising rumble. “Come out here! Quick! You’ve got to see this! The sky is falling!”

    The city was on fire.
    For the last six weeks, once the sun was down, Martin Gordon wouldn’t leave his house.
    He didn’t dare.
    He hadn’t seen any news reports since the television and radio stations had gone off the air last week. He didn’t have the Internet, and it had been even longer since he’d read a current newspaper or magazine.
    But he didn’t need anyone to tell him that being out after dark was dangerous. From his second floor bedroom window, he could see marauding bands of young people, their dark silhouettes outlined like hot metal against the dancing flames of the burning city as they roved the streets.
    The millennial celebrations had started in early December. At first they had been nothing more than sporadic nightly celebrations; but for the last few weeks, they had continued from dusk until dawn as throngs of people moved from city block to city block. What had started as a spontaneous celebration quickly turned into wanton destruction as people’s frustrations and insecurities took over. It wasn’t long before the burning and looting began.
    Martin had quit his job last week, on Monday morning. He thought “quit” might be too strong a word. There was no superior left at the bank for him to give his notice to, so he simply stopped showing up.
    He didn’t mind being out of work all that much. He’d never liked his job at the bank in the first place, and now he had plenty of time to do the things he enjoyed doing, such as working on his model railroads. Of course, with no electricity, he couldn’t run the trains. In the gathering darkness, all he could do was admire the work he’d done during daylight hours and hope that eventually, once the electricity was restored, he could run them again.
    For the last several days, however, he’d spent most of the daylight hours reinforcing the barricades around his house. He’d sacrificed nearly all of the heavy oak doors from inside the house to cover the downstairs windows. He picked up some heavy-duty screws at the hardware store—literally picked them up because there was no one there to pay—and, after cutting the doors in half, screwed them—by hand because there was no electricity—into the window frames. Someone would have to be pretty damned determined to break into his house.
    Getting food was becoming an increasing problem. Martin had run out of ready cash a while ago. All of the city’s banks had closed their doors by the second week of December, so his paltry savings were locked up where he couldn’t get at them.
    Ultimately, it didn’t matter because all of the grocery stores within walking distance of his house—like the hardware store—had been looted, anyway. Without electricity, all of the frozen food and perishables had gone bad, but Martin had enough dried and canned food squirreled away to last a month, maybe longer if he was careful. As it was, his meals were uninspired—usually nothing more than cold beans or vegetables eaten straight from the can. All

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