Michael Best

Michael T. Best is the author of science fiction, fantasy and his writing has appeared in KZine, Boys' Life Magazine and the Elks Magazine. He lives with his wife, two sons and a dog named Scully.

Michael T. Best is the author of science fiction, fantasy and his writing has appeared in KZine, Boys' Life Magazine and the Elks Magazine. He lives with his wife, two sons and a dog named Scully.

The Jade Star

A bright moon glistens in a velvet black sky. An unseen dog barks bloody murder as a Clean-Bot 2100 purrs its way through a wide and spotless street.

Around the street there are no cars, no signs of life except for a lone woman. She frantically runs ahead of the Clean-Bot as if she fears it will suck her up like trash.

The woman, her ginger hair swinging from side to side, reaches the end of the street where there is a tall water tower, at least fifty feet high. Painted on the tower’s side, in vibrant red and blue, is a big “Milton Brothers Studios.”

Frantically the woman climbs the first rung of the tower’s ladder then the second and the third.

At the top of the water tower there are no eyes on the ginger haired starlet, no studio cameras, no klieg lights, no adoring fans. There is only a clear view of the back lot with its twenty-three cavernous soundstages, dozens of cranes, trucks, fake palm trees, sword and sandal set backdrops, even a water tank that could hold the Titanic.

The Milton Brothers Studios, maker of the latest and greatest in filmed entertainment, is at rest for a few hours. Perhaps a security camera has caught her exit from her dressing room. More likely the guards are asleep on the job.

At the top, along a small guardrail, the ginger haired woman does not look out at the whole of Bollywood West, does not admire the view.

Instead, she fights, kicks, flails.

Someone, or something, a shape of shimmering light is next to her, pushing her, grabbing at her, tearing into her leg.

She loses her balance, falls over the guardrail. Her hands go out to her side, as if she is Esther Williams diving into a pool, ready to synchronize with a bevy of bathing beauties.

Only it’s not water below; it’s a concrete jungle.

By her ginger haired head, spilling over the black pavement, a pool of crimson blood forms like a seahorse drifting toward a distant ocean.

With an efficient silence the Clean-Bot 2100 rolls back and sucks up the blood around her head.