Flash Fiction Online #22, July 2015

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Flash Fiction Online #22, July 2015

The Disposition Matrix” by Brent Baldwin
Portrait of My Wife as a Boat” by Samantha Murray

Reviewed by Kris Rudin

“Your Past Life Interferes With My Very Important Studies” by C. L. Holland is an epistolary story, consisting only of notes from Kay to her roommate, Mike. Apparently, it has become possible for one’s past life to be brought to the present, and Mike’s is sorely interfering with Kay’s own studies. It is light-hearted, with a satisfying ending.

“The Disposition Matrix” by Brent Baldwin is set in a Russian drone-pilot computer center. The only thing that might make it science fiction is the weapons officer, a trained (and possibly enhanced) dog, to keep the technicians away from the console once weapons have been locked (which is done from another location.) The protagonist is Evgeny, a computer technician, whose grandfather pulled some strings to get him posted to such a relatively safe assignment. Even so, he is clearly not happy with the assignment anymore – he is tired of watching people die, via computer. Once again, Evgeny watches the drone track a suspected terrorist. The man makes his way into a churchyard full of children, and then the weapons system is targeted and armed. Evgeny must make a life or death decision. Baldwin captures the emotions of Evgeny quite well, as he struggles with the consequences of his assignment. It is a story that hits close to home, with the number of drone strikes carried out by the US.

“Portrait of My Wife as a Boat” by Samantha Murray is a somewhat wistful story of love and loss. The narrator’s wife keeps returning home late in the evening, damp and smelling of saltwater. She is distant, and uninterested in food or talking with the narrator. So he* decides to follow her one evening, and discovers her secret – which is obvious from the title.

*It is never clear if the narrator is a woman or a man, and it’s not really important which it is.