Friday, August 19, 2011


Conspiracy theories have a way of coming true. Antony knows you must eliminate them before they become flies on a Maine beach in summer, suffocating. But every agent owes his family the sloughing of his identity, every country rots if it asks too much. Home. Time to leave his anxieties in the Lincoln Continental.

Bills and letters scatter around Lisa like satellites. Antony pecks her cheek.

Lisa lifts a manila envelope. "Addressed to Agent Splotch."

"Must be one of the guys." You work hard, you bond, you get nicknames. They called him Splotch for the burn scar on his cheek.

Inside, Lisa finds a taped and bubble-wrapped cylinder. No note. She unwraps it, and two green toy soldiers scatter to the table.

Antony pales. He remembers the lifeless eyes of their suspect. In his files, he'd claimed toy soldiers killed his parents. Antony wants to throw them out, irrationally afraid, conspiracies croaking in summer evening.

"What's wrong?"

Devon, their five-year-old perpetual motion machine, twirls into the room, grasping a soldier in each hand. "Toys!"

Antony uses his good cop smile. "Nothing."

"Work?" She doesn't like all the hours he works.

"Just one of the guys having fun." He needs to believe that, keep the conspiracies from coming true.

She stares, eyes toying with the lie. Dimples appear as she lets it pass.

She helps him make dinner. They eat steak with a porcini mushroom glaze except for Devon's share. On the fireplace's mantle, Antony thinks he sees something move, but the living room's too dark and perhaps it's just shadows. They give Devon his bath, read him a story, put him to bed. His neck prickles during all of this, but nothings there. He holds Lisa's hand while they play chess until she retires to her book in bed.

He has time for little work before bed. The green plastic of the soldier's bayonet drips black where it stands on the edge of his briefcase. Antony retreats. The soldier leaps into the air, as if snowboarding down the leather case. Darkness smothers the room.

Lisa screams and is soon echoed by Devon. The darkness is shattered by burning flames, soldiers everywhere. There'd only been two in the envelope. Antony flings the lampshade away and uses the body of the lamp to brush away the soldiers. They swarm towards him. He struggles to the bedrooms, throws Devon over his shoulder, and pulls Lisa's ash-slick arm out of the house as the flames consume it, green plastic melting onto the cement driveway.


  1. I was SO NOT expecting this...and I loved it. Very well done, mister Creepy:)

  2. Very cool story! Toy Story if it were horror instead of family-friendly. Well done!

  3. @Sonia, yes. I'd written a short from the suspect's point of view and wanted to find some of the other characters in the story.

    @Anne, thanks. I'm always worried about pushing things too unexpectedly and glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    @Eric, unfortunately, I believe horror toy story is more likely than the family-friendly one we all know about.

  4. Yep very dark and creepy, the idea of the toy soldiers out to get him brings a shudder to one's spine!

    Very well done Aidan!

  5. Really great development of the creepy factor, Aidan. I had to read it again to check that I'd gotten it all. I love the malevolence of the little green army men (I always find them creepy anyway!)

  6. There's something inherently strange about toys at the best of times but toy soldiers in particular are creepy as all hell, and you perfectly captured that.

  7. Fear can be found in the most mundane or unexpected places and objects. The concept of being attacked by little plastic soldiers is enough to scare me. Good short Aidan.

  8. I second the creepiness and am now never going to approach those little toys without a butane lighter in hand.

  9. I like the conflict between rationality and instinct which amped up the terror in the end. Great job.

  10. Hi there Aidan -- liked the onrush of those soldiers; made them particularly disturbing. Some really good details of the family life that reminded me (positively) of the film AI. Little plastic-wielding critters... St.

  11. I was NOT expecting that to happen! Very good story! I'm going to look at my son's plastic soldiers a little differently now.

  12. Wow, this is cool. I think a flash from the solider POV would be interesting too. I liked how Agent Splotch tried to maintain his demeanor throughout the piece. One typo I think in "throws Devon over her" I think its supposed to me his?

  13. @Helen, thanks!

    @Jen, I never had army men when I was little, but I did have lots of little legos. I imagine they'd get too interested in the engineering that they'd never take anyone out.