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No Helpmeet – Flash Fiction from Charles Bernard

S A L T C I T Y S H I V E R S

“You’re awake,” says the serpent. “That’s good. I was starting to worry – it’s almost moonrise.”

Lily opens her eyes. The pale glow from the streetlights barely reaches the room. What little light there is traces the mountainous terrain of the bed; the tangled sheets, the hunched shadow of Anton’s back rising and falling slowly. Clad only in shadow, she slips from the bed and pads from the room. Her steps are careful and quiet.

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Lesser Things

It began as a scientific oddity, bordering on urban legend. Our species – always so eager to grub around in the dirt with our plump pink digits – noted with amusement that ants were beginning to behave oddly.

For one thing, they started to take things home with them. The taking itself was quite mundane; we’ve all seen neatly ordered lines of ants carrying crumbs or fleshy shreds of fruit home to the colony. It was what they started to take. Strange things. Plastic and broken glass, scraps of cloth and twists of wire. We figured that the ants detected minute scraps of edible matter on the debris, or that this behavior was some novel but harmless quirk, the arthropological equivalent of magpies hoarding their dubious treasure.

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