The security bot acknowledges the traveler: “Welcome, Master Xyay.” After scanning him for weapons, he asks about the traveler’s satchel.
“It’s exactly what Rzay sent me out to get,” he answers.
The robot offers no challenge and does not inspect the satchel.
It’s obvious by his copper skin tone the traveler is a hybrid. Native Dhahabi have gold-colored skin, four arms, and shape-shifting abilities. Hybrids, like the traveler, have different skin tones, may have two or four arms, and some shape-shifting abilities.
Hybrids are still uncommon. Children stop to look at him when he enters the biggest tent in the settlement.
“Good to see you back,” says Rzay.
“Good to see you, Uncle.”
While the ending is not a surprise, I liked this little story. It engages the reader right from the start. Who is the traveler? Readers are presented with a mystery and, although they know little about the traveler, they can sympathize with him when he asks Rzay to hold up his end of the bargain.
The civilization has been colonized by humans, and the native Dhahabi population is marginalized. A crime syndicate peddles an addictive drug that affects only humans—maybe hybrids to varying degrees.
This is unusual and entertaining.
According to her blurb, author Maura Yzmore is a scientist and writer based in the American Midwest. Her flash fiction can be found in The Arcanist, Kanstellation, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. Website: https://maurayzmore.com/ Twitter: @MauraYzmore
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Serpents of Kthyb Seven”
Author: Maura Yzmore
First published: October 30, 2020, Theme of Absence