Sharp Stunt

“….and stay in your homes.” The voice on the radio repeated the warning as Mike pulled the heavy iron door shut. After pushing three thick bolts into place he turned to face his family. He offered them the most reassuring smile he could muster.

“You all did a great job,” he said. He was proud of how well their practice paid off. He stepped forward to pet Rupert, their retriever pup; Eddie’s one responsibility for emergency bugging out. “It looks like everyone did their job, and is accounted for.” He rustled Eddie’s brown hair, then took a moment to reassure his daughter before wrapping his arms around his wife.

Becky was 12, four years older than Eddie. She was at that age where parental affection was slightly off-putting. She was trying to be cool and brave, but Mike could tell how scared she was. He patted her briefly on the shoulder then hugged his wife, Sarah, close.

“Well, I hoped we’d never have to end up here, but I’m glad we’re prepared,” Mike said. He felt like he should try to give a speech or something to raise their spirits; but, the truth was he was as shaken as the rest of them. He considered and planned for several different scenarios but this was completely unexpected. He almost couldn’t believe it was happening. He tried to act brave, like Becky. “We can live down here three, four years comfortably But, I don’t think we’ll have to stay down here that long.”

“How long do you think it takes zombies to starve to death?” Becky asked. Mike could tell it was a sincere question. He was used to Becky’s seemingly default sarcastic tone.

“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Dana Sharp,” a woman’s voice came through the radio. It was different from the recorded warning they’d been hearing for the past 15 minutes. “On behalf of my company, Sharp Development, I apologize for the recent infectious outbreak. I currently have several task forces rounding up the zombies that have managed to escape, and we are saving those that we can still save. If you’ve been bitten by a zombie, please find a Sharp representative at your nearest hospital.” Mike and his family exchanged looks of confusion as they listened. They hadn’t even really entered the shelter, they were still at the entrance. Dana Sharp continued.

“I understand that simply cleaning up the mess is not nearly enough reparations for the trouble caused by my company. It may have been an accident, but I still feel a heavy responsibility. All residents are now eligible to receive a free node from Sharp Development.” Mike noticed Becky’s face light up in a way he hadn’t seen for at least two Christmases.

“Is that good?” Mike whispered as if somehow afraid of talking over the radio. Becky nodded frantically while Dana Sharp continued speaking.

“And finally, in order to facilitate transparency, I will be opening a Sharp community center in town. It may sound boring by title alone, but I assure you it’ll be quite a boon to your growing city. It’s a large facility that will bring jobs and tourists. It provides entertainment and access to the broad services provided by Sharp Development. I do encourage residents to stay indoors tonight. My company will work throughout the night to get rid of the zombie problem, so rest easy. Thank you for your time.”

“Whoa.. what a day it’s been!” the local D.J. came on-air as soon as Dana finished speaking. Mike stepped towards the radio and lowered it. Then, he turned to his family and laughed.

“I think zombies showing up is the best thing that’s ever happened to this town,” he said while chuckling.

“Seems kind of fast, though,” Sarah said.

“I know. That company took responsibility really fast, you never see that these days,” Mike smiled. “So, what do you guys think? Wanna camp out in here anyway or sleep in your own beds tonight?”

“HEEEEREE!” Eddie ran into the shelter carrying Rupert.

“Here’s fine,” Becky said after a quick glance at the three bolts on the door. Then, she followed Eddie.

“Don’t you think it was.. suspiciously fast?” Sarah asked.

“Suspiciously?” Mike asked. “How so?”

“I don’t know,” Sarah shrugged. “Company makes a huge, public, mistake. But not only do they catch it right away, they know exactly how to fix it. They take responsibility and give away free merchandise, and promise to help improve the local economy.” Sarah sighed. “It just feels like an amazing advertisement.” Mike hugged his wife close.

“I know it’s been a stressful.. hell, hour,” he chuckled. “But,.. people died, babe. She’s obviously a talented businesswoman with incredible standards, but even if she.. or anyone, anywhere.. could somehow stage a stunt with real zombies…” Mike shrugged while still holding Sarah. “…no one’s that soul-less.”

Sharpened Crown

“My God,” Herod fell to his knees before the woman in white. He swore to himself he’d never kneel for any man. But, she proved to be a God. 

“You’re a king, act like it,” Dana Sharp replied. She glared down at him until he realized what she meant. He stood and straightened his back.

‘Yes, my God,” he said. Dana sighed. 

“If this meeting is going to continue, address me as Ms. Sharp,” she said.

“Yes, My- Ms. Sharp.” Herod said. He did not know why she chose him to be there, but he did not want to be sent away from her presence. Not before he could learn more about her miraculous magic. Herod knew some magic himself; it’s what helped him achieve his status. 

He wasn’t born into a royal family, he was lucky he was born into a human family at all. Though it was not common knowledge, Herod was a banshee. His wail could strike ice-cold fear into anyone, and that was only one of his tricks. Over the years he learned how to use  his wail as a form of song magic. After that it was easy to enthrall his way to a kingdom. He briefly considered trying his magic on God, before she proved who she was. Then, he reconsidered. 

“I don’t like the direction your kingdom is taking,” Ms. Sharp said. She gestured at a seat for Herod, then walked around her disk to sit in front of him. Herod tilted his head in confusion as he sat down.

“But, it was all for you, Ms. Sharp,” he said. “To find you in the heavens.” Once Herod took his throne, he immediately put a heavy emphasis on education and heavenly exploration. 15 year into his reign his royal scientists had developed a machine that could fly. Herod’s determination and magic drove innovation faster than normal human progression. He had a yearning in his soul to find what was out there. 

“I didn’t ask you to look for me. But, I am asking you to stop,” Ms. Sharp said. She gave him a faint, playful smirk. “Out there, at least,” she pointed upward at the white ceiling. 

“I don’t understand,” Herod said. It was difficult to admit, but he knew God, Ms. Sharp, would know whether he understood or not. If he admitted it, at least he’d get answers. 

“This Earth is one of an infinite number of Earths. There is nothing out there worth finding; it’s big and empty and dark. Better to look at your neighboring Earths and learn from, or teach them something.” 

“There are other Earths!?” Herod’s eyes shot wide. 

“There are,” Ms. Sharp nodded. “I can teach you how to reach them, so long as you change course. I don’t mean just you, your kingdom as well. Further explorations of the heavens are to be outlawed; infractions punished by death.” Herod chuckled with a shake of his head.

“The more the public sees me trying to prevent it, the more curious they’ll be.” 

“You are the ruler of this particular Earth, they’ll listen to you,” Ms. Sharp said. 

“My kingdom is vast,…” Herod shook his head with humility. “But it’s not the whole planet.” 

“Not yet. Aside from changing your direction, there is one more reason for our meeting.”

“Yes, Ms. Sharp?” Herod asked, ready to serve. He had a lot to process, but that could wait. He stood before good here and now. 

“I’m rewarding your faith with a boost to your powers,” she said. Herod blanched, but, after taking a moment to close his eyes, he remembered she knew everything. Including what he was. And, he was excited to get a reward. He managed to recover quickly and opened his eyes again. 

“I’m honored!” he said. Dana handed him a sheet of paper. There was a simple golden crown drawn on the sheet. A red scissor logo decorated the center of the crown, and the number ’47’ was drawn on the scissors in white. 

“Where do you want your tattoo?” she asked.