Aphelion Issue 251, Volume 24
June 2020
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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by William Joseph Roberts

“You two better run! I’m going to get you! rarr!” Both babies laughed and giggled as I chased them through the tall, uncut front lawn. For a change, I had the weekend off from work. No emails, no computer-glare, no pounding stress headache. For the first time in months, I could relax and enjoy my little family.

“You can’t catch me, you can’t catch me,” Ilene’s tiny voice sang. She laughed and teased and let out an ear-piercing little girl squeal.

“Now I’ve got you. You can’t escape the claw! rarr!”

“Ha ha, Dada! Hehehe,” Dillon chuckled. “Stop Dada, stop it!” I tickled his belly and he thrashed about. “Stop it Dada,” he laughed, then fell to the ground as a ball of giggly two year old.

“I’ll save you Bubby,” Ilene shouted and laughed. She jumped onto my back and clamped her arms around my neck. Almost at once, I began to choke.

“Lunch will be ready in a few minutes,” my wife announced from the front door.

“Okay Mommy,” the children chimed.

“We’ll be right in honey.” I coughed, then peeled Ilene off of my back and sat her on the ground next to her brother.

“For a scrawny little princess you sure have a grip. Do you two want to play dinosaurs next? Roar, Roar, Roar!”

“No,” Ilene replied with a wave of her hand. “Let’s have a tea party.”

“A tea Party? Bubby, do you want to have a tea party with Sissy,” I asked.

“No,” he said with a nod of his head.

“Oh Daddy, look, look, look! Daddy, look at that big bird in the sky,” Ilene squealed.

“Yup, I see it honey,” I replied without a glance. I gave Dillon a raspberry on his belly and tickled him again.

“Daddy,” Ilene questioned. The tone of her voice had changed to something that sounded like uncertain fear. Both babies began to cry. Their faces contorted with the look of horrific, instinctual fear.

I was shoved toward the ground by something. I felt a sudden warm crunch, then nearly nothing. With the same abruptness, the something jerked me away in the opposite direction. I watched my beautiful children and the ground race away from me at rapid speed. Something had me, but I couldn’t move. Only my eyes would obey. I felt a vise-like grip around my neck, but nothing below. I could not see what had snatched me, what had ripped me away from my babies. I could not see that thing that left them alone. That thing, that left them scared and unprotected. I could see nothing but my limp body as it dangled in the wind below. Trees, houses, streets, and cars shrank away. The edges of my vision began to blur. I blinked to clear my vision, but darkness encroached. I blinked again, the darkness grew. I blinked and felt a trickle of tears across my face. I blinked…the wind buffeted my ears. I blinked…I felt nothing but cold tears. I blinked…but only the darkness remained.

2019 William Joseph Roberts

In a previous life, William Joseph Roberts was an F-15 mechanic and Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He has traveled the world and experienced many things in his few years. During his tenure in this life, hewas  called a Jack of all trades, a Renaissance man and an insane squirrel wrangler by his peers. Since his enlistment ended, he has perused careers as an industrial and architectural designer, design engineer, and now, eclectic writer. He currently resides in the quaint southern town of Chickamauga, Georgia with his loving wife, three freaky smart nerd children, and small pack of fur babies.

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