Checking out Flash Fiction Online today, partly because it's shorter and that's the way the week is going so far and partly because it's a regular stop for me (as readers of the Monthly Round are likely aware).
"Cliona's Coat" by Leslianne Wilder (911 words)
A story about a woman who I assume is also a Selkie. At least, that's how I read the story. She's from the sea and a man stole her coat/skin and now she is trapped as a human. And after leaving him and traveling, fighting in WWII, she resides in a bar and drinks and finds some small comfort with the owner of the bar. It's a sad, melancholy sort of story, like the Blues that it evokes. There is loss, and trying to find some way to fill the hole that the lack of skin has made. And nothing quite works, none of the furs that she tries to cover herself in. Only some human contact, some compassion and passion, seem enough to soothe the grief, at least for a little while. A nicely moody story.
"Death Comes for the Microbot" by Aimee Picchi (993 words)
Another story tinged with sadness, as outdated microbots contemplate death. Really it's almost unfair using cute microbots just to kill them, because they are cute and small and seem so helpless, so left behind. That they are sentient and that their sentience is ignored because they are expensive is just depressing. I'm not sure how to feel about some aspects of the story, though. If they are sentient, then I'm guessing the new tech isn't. Otherwise this would be too much of a "progress is bad" story instead of a "progress shouldn't lose sight of the human" kind of story. The loss of the microbots is tragic, but not even a blip to the human doctor who created them. Does this mean that she is now too wrapped up in the new technology, or that she has let a part of herself die in order to survive, in order to keep working. That's the more interesting angle to me, but it's not really explored her. This is more of a sad story about a small robot bee who just wanted to be useful.
"Star Box" by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks (995 words)
Okay, so my first thought was that this could be a pun on Star Fox with a spaceship-flying box battling against an evil cat. I was not disappointed to find that instead is another story about loss and getting through grief. About a man who keeps the stars in a box and lets them out at night, and also about a phoenix and a little girl who are dealing with losing a loved one, the story is short and sweet. It thrives with the novelty of the idea, that there is a man with the stars all in a box, that he repairs them, that this little girl manages to find him. And the realization that sometimes rules can be broken, or bent, for the sake of helping someone, is a neat message. Not that I would have minded a story about a box space-outlaw, but this was good too.