Bria Burton

Bria Burton writes in St. Petersburg while her pets try to distract her. They are the stars of her family-friendly short story collection, Lance & Ringo Tails. Her fiction has appeared in eFantasy (now New Realm), FICTION on the WEB, and the Journey Into... podcast. Upcoming publications will appear in Page & Spine and The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. An English Major, she graduated from Flagler College in 2003. As a member of FWA, she leads a critique group.

Bria Burton writes in St. Petersburg while her pets try to distract her. They are the stars of her family-friendly short story collection, Lance & Ringo Tails. Her fiction has appeared in eFantasy (now New Realm), FICTION on the WEB, and the Journey Into... podcast. Upcoming publications will appear in Page & Spine and The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. An English Major, she graduated from Flagler College in 2003. As a member of FWA, she leads a critique group.

The Darkness Below

Three lasers streamed into the blackness ahead. Captain Erin Waite aimed her executer and led her squad deeper into the cave. They were more than a mile in. Her unit moved in formation behind her surrounding a scientist, Sandra Moore, and a waste-of-space journalist, Thyme Bransford.

“It’s coming,” Thyme whispered, her voice trembling.

“Where?” Erin kept moving, scanning the narrowing rock walls with the executer tight to her shoulder.

Thyme didn’t respond.

The semi-automatic weapon, a rare commodity, fired tiny proton explosives encased in a bullet that reduced objects to dust while leaving the surrounding matter untouched. Ford Reams, the Southerner to Erin’s right, claimed he blasted a Russian terra-tank the size of a house to ashes back when the Army could afford to supply executers to a small portion of infantry. The bullet waiting to be fired held the laser. A dimmer red light fanned out from the barrel, penetrating the dark, showing a narrow, empty cave. Erin was losing patience with this girl.

“Thyme, answer me.”

“I don’t know. But it’s coming!” she screeched.

“What is that condiment saying?” Brody Halverson left his position at the rear to approach Erin. He wasn’t the type to coddle anyone.

Probably why Erin loved him. And why she would never tell him. He would’ve broken her heart after one night together. She met him years ago, but only worked directly with him once before. “Anything?”

“Nothing. I’ll keep walking backward to make sure.” He returned to his position.

“Tom?” Erin glanced over her left shoulder at Tom Eagle, her second-in-command.

“Clear,” he replied.

She groaned, tempted to order a spit-shine to clean the goggles. “Only report a sighting if you actually see something, got it?”

The group, including Thyme, echoed understanding.

They pressed on, and Erin determined to ignore Thyme. If she cracked up, Erin could send her back to base.

“Here I thought alien-huntin’ bored a woman like you, Thyme,” Ford said. “Back in the canyon, we’re saddlin’ up and you yawn like this is some cake walk.”

She said nothing.

Ford sniggered. “Not so confident now, huh, twig?”