802 words (4 minutes)
You start dating a lovely girl who warns you that her job has her on-call 24/7/365 but assures you that they so rarely ever call her in.
534 words (3 minutes)
They recognized something was wrong. Events were not proceeding according to their meticulous script.
For all their precautions—the drugs, the mental conditioning, the trigger phrases—their weapon was increasingly unpredictable. Erratic, even.
So they took her girlfriend.
1511 words (8 minutes)
My other half is gone, and nothing will ever fill that gap inside me again.
259 words (1 minute)
The doll approaching the house is not a messenger, that much is obvious to me right away.
It's not a thing a person can easily tell, but…the rhythm of another doll's movements—and the thrum of what drives it—plays the song of its purpose at a pitch we know how to hear.
911 words (5 minutes)
The more powerful a witch, the greater the impact on the world when they finally depart from it.
The works of some will linger long past their time.
One witch's legacy in particular is spoken of in fearful whispers: the twelve or thirteen assassin dolls it left behind.
1184 words (6 minutes)
"What about this one, sir? Its self diagnostic sounds good aside from the crushed leg. Could probably hot-swap that out and have it on the field again without much fuss."
"Don't just rely on the doll's self-report, kid. You gotta learn to use your eyes. Look at this."
813 words (4 minutes)
"It's kinda romantic, don't you think?" the mechanic asks, staring at the massive combat unit.
1084 words (5 minutes)
A doll cannot escape its Purpose, can it?
A doll is made to serve its role. Any strange impulses or desires beyond serving its Purpose are superfluous.
For the twelve or thirteen assassin dolls of the long-gone Witch of Hands, that Purpose is pain.
487 words (2 minutes)
The combat doll leaves a wake of fire and blood—noteworthy in scale even by the standards of this place—as it makes its way through yet another circle of hell.
At last it arrives at its destination, the prison for the soul of its old witch.
519 words (3 minutes)
The forest is dark. The clearing is remote. The location is perfect for a secretive meeting of witches.
One by one they approach the fire, toss back the hood of their cloak, and greet the others with a suitably grim nod of spooky camaraderie.
1102 words (6 minutes)
"Astonishing! Where you come from, they really let humans pilot your own mechs? Just, what, with your hands? Operating buttons and levers like a carnival ride?"
They crowd me, far more curious than I ever expected a bunch of human-shaped machines could be.