(excerpt from) the rift cell

The garage door stood open with everything inside shoved against one wall. A red toolbox on casters, a floor jack, a mismatched set of ramps and an engine hoist. Someone had swept greasy rags, trash and dirt out onto the driveway. No car.

“Nikki took it when she left.” Rafe stepped out of the shadow of the entryway to the house. He wore a dingy oil-stained tee and ripped jeans. Nice ensemble for a reunion.

“I ran after her,” Rafe continued. “Was about to cut across the park and head her off—but that’s when the ground opened up.”

“Then part of you didn’t want to catch her.”

“I wanted my car back.”

Bingo. Cavanaugh nodded and gazed into the garage. “Why are you ready to cross your rift now? Is it still about your car?”

“No. I’m surrounded by rifts. I can’t go more than two blocks from my house. There’s a 7-Eleven at the end of the street and the diner’s a block over. But if I get real groceries, it’s from charity. I’m trapped.”

“We call it a rift cell.”

“You mean it’s like I’m in jail?”

Cavanaugh shook his head. “It’s just the space between people’s rifts. And you’re lucky. This isn’t the worst rift cell I’ve seen.”

Rafe rolled his eyes. “I bet.”

“It happened to me in the desert outside Phoenix. My rift and two others intersected right there. I had a wedge of sand just big enough to lie down inside. No food or water, and no one knew I was out there.”

Rafe’s brow furrowed. “So that’s why you learned to cross other people’s rifts.”

“My life depended on it.”


The short story on Daily Science Fiction dot com. Here.

kid quotes

I turned the key in the ignition. Click.

My four-year-old son looked up at me. “What’s wrong?”

“We have to jump it, Aeric.”

Popping the hood seemed like a teachable moment. I waved Aeric over and he climbed up onto the bumper.

“That’s the motor,” I said. “It’s what makes the truck go.”

He hopped back down and sauntered off, mumbling, “But not today.”