Suspense 2019, Short Stories - Lyons McBean



Kingdom Come

By Lyons McBean


Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot….


“Do you think she can hear us?” I whispered to Zack, not moving my lips, that same smile plastered eerily on my face.


“Yes, I can hear you,” came an assertive non-whispered reply from a familiar female voice.


‘Fuck! She heard me!’ I thought.


“Yes, I heard you, you worm,” she practically sang in that unsettling, happy voice she always used. I knew I was in for it tonight when she hooked up the diodes for Daily Conditioning Treatment.


“The thing is,” she continued, “I don’t have to hear you. I can read your mind. I know just what you’re thinking.”


‘Could that be true?’ I mused silently.


“Why, yes, it is true,” she replied to my thought--to my chagrin--“and yes, you are in for it tonight.”


“But…” I let my voice trail off.


“In fact,” she went on, “I don’t even have to read your mind.”


Okay, that was weird. I became conscious of the sound of our steps--my steps--once again: Right foot, left foot, right foot…. But what did she mean? Was she waiting for me to ask?


“No, you don’t have to ask,” she replied casually, as if I had been vocalizing every thought. “You see, it’s really quite simple. I don’t just read your thoughts. I make you think them.”


“Now that’s--”


“--‘that’s absurd’ you were going to say? ‘She’s full of herself, nobody can control someone’s thoughts’ you were going to say?”


I marched in stunned silence. She had predicted everything right, word for word. Right foot, left foot, right foot….


“I also know you think I’m being creepy,” she added.


Of course. Right foot, left foot, right foot….


"But if she knew what I was thinking, then she knew about our plans for escape?” she finished for me. Facing forward I couldn't’t see her face, but her voice intoned nothing but mirth. “Oh yes, I know all about that.”


“You do?!”


“Oh yes. After all, I know everything you’re thinking. In fact, your friend Zack has been hatching quite the elaborate plan to escape. And take down the whole facility in a fiery maelstrom at the same time.”


“He… WHAT?!” I stumbled for a second and almost stopped marching. But years of conditioning made my feet keep going, one foot after the next, that same artificial smile frozen on my face.


“It’s true. He was using you, Milo. You were going to blow us all to Kingdom Come, if your good pal Zack had his way. Well, all but Zack. He was conveniently going to be at a safe distance when you went boom.” Oddly, her voice was still mirthful.


Boom? Right foot….


“How was he going to make me do that?” I asked. Left foot…


“Why, you’re carrying a bomb, my dear Milo, in that green backpack of yours.” Right foot…


How was I still marching? “But you caught him, right? And turned off the bomb?”


“Oh, we caught him all right,” came her sinister response. “The Grey Llama of Death Puppet came up out of the ground and dragged him into its lair to feast on him for a thousand years.”


Ohhh-kay. Things had seemed weird, but that was just over the top. It was if she were trying to distract me from something. Or maybe to trigger me? “And the bomb?” I asked.

Right foot, left foot, left foot….


“Oh, don’t worry about the bomb. As soon as we get back to the lab, we’ll--hey wait, that’s not right. What are you--”


But she realized it too late, as I had already turned, found the rip cord hanging from the backpack, and pulled it.



A native of Baltimore, Lyons McBean has lived all over the country and now resides in the Philadelphia area. Lyons writes fiction, and different genres and subjects, from novels to poetry and from humor to sci-fi. His portfolio now contains one completed novel, two full-length scripts, and over 100 short stories and poems, as well as several other novels in various stages of completion. He participates in the Tristate Writers Workshop (based out of West Chester, PA) twice a month, and the local poetry reading group. One of his favourite go-to genres is science fiction. This flash piece of pure suspense was inspired by an ekphrastic exercise in a workshop, using the advertising photo for a briefly popular animated series. Although the series was intended for children, the characters in the advertisement smiled so broadly as to be creepy instead of happy--thus forming the basis for a writing reaction.


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