“You a thief like your friend?” called a voice from the back room.
The tips of my fingers left prints on a dusty soap wrapper.
“You have any tissues?” I shouted through a rack of comic books.
“Never mind him,” said the old lady at the counter. “Third rack mid-shelf.”
“Thanks,” I said lining my items at the register, eyeing the old crust through an open door (sitting in a rocker, mumbling at the TV).
“Guess its blood for oil this time!” he frothed.
I could see a shadow case at the edge of the shelf next to the tube. White stars offset a triangle of blue tucked tight. A soldier walked across a pane of glass on the door angled at the screen.
“The buildup is in full swing,” the tinny voice of a correspondent informed. A brigade from the 82nd Airborne were first boots in the theater, combat forces were being deployed in waves, and support arrived daily in the Arabian Peninsula.
“My dad’s at Fort Eustis,” I heard myself say.
“Navy keeps a ghost fleet there,” pops piped, raising his chin.
“I’m not worried,” I said to the lady, ignoring him. “He just does transport.”
“God keep him safe,” she said as I left, “and come back soon.”
“You think Mom’s ok?” my brother Danny asked as we sat in the kitchen doing homework.
“Stop hogging the whole table!” I said, pushing back his books.
Mom was in her room: MIA.
“This is so cool!” Danny distracted himself with homework. “Look!” he said, turning the book toward me, the page chock full of diagrams and photos, “it’s like that Blob from the movies, but slower, and on fire!”
Mindless, it fed and filled… (A chicken coop, half a village, a whole cemetery)…it filled and fed…
It was true. Danny said, “You can see it coming a mile away, but there’s nothing you can do.”
Robert Libbey lives in East Northport, NY surrounded by children and animals. His work has appeared previously, or is forthcoming, in Drunk Monkeys, The New York Quarterly, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and Blue Lake Review.