Bloganuary Day 14

Refugees: A Nano-Story

view of earth from the moon
Photo by Pixabay on

Adam squeezes my hand as everything around us quakes. My breathing is heavy, labored. I can taste the all-beef hotdog, the chili cheese on the back of my tongue. They say to wait thirty minutes after a meal before you swim, and riding in a space shuttle feels like swimming.

“How much longer?” I ask, then quickly hold my breath as the contents in my stomach gurgle.

 “We’re almost out,” he answers without checking the view. He’s the astronaut. He’s used to this. He’s ridden the layers of the atmosphere many times to know how they feel.

I’m the only one who’s new.

I glance out the window the width of my face and watch the clouds clear for darkness. When the turbulence calms, I let out an exhale.

“You shouldn’t have ate that stuff,” he says, shaking his head.

As relieved as I am to not be floating in vomit, it was my last meal on earth. Who knows if I’ll ever get a chance to eat something not freeze-dried again.

We can never go back,” he says flatly, apparently reading my mind.

I crane my neck to catch one final glimpse of the tiny blue planet we’re leaving behind, shrinking in the distance.

I wonder if there will be a sudden explosion of light before it finally disappears.

© 2023 Nortina Simmons

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship

I read in an article online that by 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex. So when I enroll in the Android Companionship Trial, I convince myself that I’m only doing it for the advancement of science.

Not because I’m desperate and alone.

“So how does it work?” my girlfriend, Ally, asks me as I complete the 50-question questionnaire. “Do you have to fuck it a specific number of times a day to get accurate data? Do they film you?”

“No, it’s a little more discreet than that.”

“So it’s a sex doll that can move?”

“They say it’ll look just as human as you and me.”

Ally shrugs and pops a stick of chewing gum in her mouth. “This sounds too much like a porno plot.” She snickers. “Mmm mmm, fucking a robot.”

“They prefer the term ‘android,'” I correct her.

“Hmm, robots have preferred pronouns now too.” She kicks her legs off the couch and sits up. “Babe, if you’re that desperate for some peen, I’ll hook you up with one of the assholes at my job. It’ll be all sex, no strings. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to date these guys.”

“It’s because the dating pool has pee in it that I’m signing up for this!” Thirty-five years with not so much as a broken engagement has taught me all I need to know about the crop of men available to me.

Why not try an artificial one instead?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 12 | Android Companionship”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought

We pray for rain. For three days, we go without food and water. We spend the nights on the floor of the sanctuary, and the dust of the ground clings to our knees.

We don’t fast by choice. Circumstances led to this. With the city shut down, grocery stores were looted. We have no power for miles and no running water. The church garden struggles to feed the remnants of our congregation. Pastor John dug up the corn crop last Tuesday. It was brown like smoking tobacco. The tomatoes and cucumbers blossomed and then died before becoming edible vegetables. The soil is arid like sand.

“Do you think this is the end of the world?” Jessie whispers.

“Shhhh!” Mother Jones is in the front pew with the pastor and the elders. We can see the wrinkled cellulite skin of her thighs underneath her rolled-up skirt. She prefers to pray in silence so she can concentrate on what she wants to petition to the Lord, and she’s easily distracted and fumbles over her words when other people are talking. She must hate Sister Teresa right now. She circles the sanctuary, shouting her prayer aloud.

“We ask you to send the rain, God!” she screams, her South Georgian accent coming out strong. “Shower down on us as you did the manna for the children of Israel.”

“Does she have to be so loud?” I say.

“She wants to make sure God hears her.”

“The whole continent can hear her.” We both snicker into the cushion of the pew, and again Mother Jones hushes us.

My stomach rumbles, and I lick my lips thinking about what I can eat—like sweet apples to quench my thirst and my hunger, the crisp pop of them when I sink my teeth into the skin and the juice inside drains down my chin. The sour Granny Smith, the succulent Fuji, the classic Red Delicious.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a cow,” Jessie says.

“Just put me in a pool full of apple juice and ham sandwiches.”

“Eww, then the bread would get soggy!”

We laugh out loud. Mama reaches over and slaps my hand, and we fold our arms and bow our heads and mumble incoherently like the men in the pews behind us and Pastor John standing at the podium. Speaking in tongues, they call it. I wonder if it’s because their tongues roll like a Native war cry.

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 10 | Divine Drought”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 8 | An Undeserving World

They are still undeserving.

Sixty years later, I return bearing gifts. Again, I land in Mexico, but this time I cross the border into the fabled “land of the free.”

“This gift is a cure to the disease that has ravaged your planet,” I tell all who will listen.

Immediately I am detained and put on a bus destined for the capital.

But it is not to present me officially to their head of state.

“Let that liberal president figure out what to do with you then,” the men in uniform sneer.

“Will you not accept my gift?”

“Ha! Go back to your shithole country!”

Photo by Laker on

I quickly learn that I have become a pawn in their political games.

But what of the people onboard with me? The innocent? The sick? The lonely in search of their families?

“Ha, go back to your country,” the soldier’s voice echoes in my head.

After three days on a bus to nowhere with no working air conditioning, packed like spoons with aliens by a different definition with no access to a clean bathroom, who haven’t washed for days, who sit now in their own excrement in a foreign land, not knowing the language to understand that this country of promise, of opportunity, has not accepted them, or my gift, I contact my people back home.

“They are still undeserving, but these I will bring back with me.”

With their blood, I connect them with their loved ones and beam all aboard my ship. And to them alone I offer my gift.

“Come home to a place where there is no sickness or disease or division or hatred based on race. All are one, and all are welcome.”

We leave as the world below dies slowly. They will not realize the salvation they’ve lost until it is too late.

© 2022 Nortina Simmons

This hour’s episode is brought to you by The Twilight Zone episode “The Gift.”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap

After Mr. Schwimmer retired, the firm delegated me the task of representing his last client, a Mr. Simon Polk, who died five years ago.

“It’s really an easy case,” one of the partners, Mr. Colby, said. “You simply have to check on the robot. Make sure she’s taking care of it.”

She’s taking care of it alright. I learned that on my first visit. I sat with the robot in the study, and she served us both hot chocolate.

“Thank you,” I said when she offered me the cup and saucer.

“It’s cold, you miserable cow!” the robot spat, throwing the glass back at her. I was taken aback by how much it sounded like a man of a formidable age.

“It’s Uncle Simon,” she told me after I followed her back to the kitchen and helped her to rub out the stains in her dress.

“He loaded his consciousness into it just before he died,” she said as she stared ahead at nothing. “It was his dying wish to torment me for the rest of my days.”

I gave my report to the partners. “The robot’s taken care of, but who’s taking care of her?” I asked.

“That’s not our concern,” said Mr. Colby. “What has she to complain about? As long as she stays in that house, everything is hers.”

Everything but her life, I feared. I decided then and there that I would free her.

“That’s kind of you,” she said on my second visit as the robot worked in the basement, “but there’s nothing left for me to reap. I’m old. I’m dried up.”

“You’re not,” I said, and then I kissed her. She was stiff at first, but then I saw a flash in her eyes, and it was the confirmation I needed that I could bring her back to the land of the living.

We just needed to get rid of the robot.

“I tried pushing him down the stairs. Now he just walks with a cane.”

“Then we will try something more permanent,” I said. Leaving the property wasn’t an option. She would lose her inheritance. Even if I covered for her, the robot could call someone else from the firm. So then how would one kill a robot?

Continue reading “Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | S2 Ep 7 | The Woman Who Will Finally Reap”

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 23 | One of Us Is an Alien

I’ve lived through 2020 and most of 2021—only hours left to go. I’ve seen it all. A global pandemic. Global apathy. The rise of the antichrist. The world stood still. Murder fucking hornets.

But I gotta admit, this one surprised me. Two disks reminiscent of the Seattle Space Needle, glowing brighter than the sun, light up the sky just before dawn.

Shortly after, the cops show.

“Mornin’, officers!” I wave them inside. “I’m assuming you’re not here for a room.”

“We’ve got reports of flying saucers. Did you happen to see?”

“Oh, couldn’t miss it! I was standing on my balcony. Flew right over my head!” I take a sip of my coffee. “Crazy things happening. Can’t help but wonder if this is the end.” The sizzle and pop of bacon comes from the kitchen. “Can I offer you gentlemen something? Guests will be coming down soon.”

“That’s actually what we’re here for. One of your guests.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“You see, those flying saucers landed right behind your little Bed and Breakfast here.”

“I didn’t—”

“And someone got out.”

“Well, I’ll be.” I gulp. “You mean to tell me one of my guests is an alien!”

Just then a stampede of feet descends the stairs. I do a roll call in my head. 11, 22, 33, 44, 55, 66. Six rooms in total—we have a thing for double numbers. The Mrs. says they’re lucky. I’ll hold my breath for 2022.

The occupants of each room offer bland greetings as they walk by on their way to the dining room. I scan each of their faces, all I recognize.

“Well?” one of the officers says.

“You sure you got the right Bed and Breakfast?”

The other, who seems to have a permanent grimace, says, “We really don’t know what we’re looking for.”

“A six-foot walking fly, I imagine. Ain’t that what aliens look like?” I guide them to the door, offer them a bite for the road so they don’t feel like the trip out here on New Year’s Eve was a total waste.

“If I see anything, I know who to call!”

When they’re gone, my wife peaks around the corner from the kitchen. “That was close!”

I nod and exhale. Then I ask, “Who did you bring in the other saucer?”

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

Inspired by the episode “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” That’s just what we need, right? An alien invasion. Though, zombie apocalypse seems more likely…

Two more stories left to go!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 18 | A Taste

“I want to eat you,” he says, then serves me fresh pineapples from his hand.

I part my lips, and legs, stick out my tongue, invite him for a taste.

“Patience,” he whispers, and plants a kiss, his mouth firm and moist. “All good things to those who wait.”

He invites me to his home. “Long drive ahead.”

 I remember his profile said, “In a galaxy far, far away.” We connected for our mutual love of Star Wars.

When I feel the car lift off the ground, I grab the door handle.

“Relax,” he purrs. “You will be a treat.”

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

Isn’t it obvious? This story was inspired by the fan-favorite, “To Serve Man.” And it’s our first 100-word story! I knew I would get there eventually. But I’m not tired. We still have seven more hours to go!

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 14 | Thoughts and Prayers

After thoughts and prayers didn’t work, the state decreed the nonexistence of God. As proof, they declared terrorism no longer a threat. “For what god do you strap a bomb on your chest and take the lives of the innocent and able-bodied?” The Cross-bearing political zealots accepted this, not realizing their God too was rendered an anachronism, and they were swiftly liquidated for their attempts to merge church and state.

With the death of God went all morals. Mass shootings increased. Gun reform was abandoned. Immigration was outlawed, and anyone who couldn’t prove citizenship by birth or command of the English language was shipped to whatever shithole country their skin complexion or dialect most resembled. Public health was sacrificed for strategic business plans. It was decided that court hearings were a waste of time: if deemed of no use to the state, one was shot on the spot.

The faithful shifted underground. We prayed in silence, as God isn’t moved by babbling words. We committed the Word to memory, hid it on our hearts after the Bibles, Qurans, Torahs, and others were burned.

We became one body under one God, with one unified hope: salvation from this tyranny.

“These are signs of the end times,” the oldest and wisest of us speaks. “‘For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.'”

Outside the padlocked doors, the chants begin. “Obsolete! Obsolete!” The echo of marching boots growing louder. “Obsolete! Obsolete! Obsolete!”

“How did they find us?” one parishioner screams.

“Stand firm!” our orator shouts above the rain of bullets. “For we know our God is able to deliver us!”

We huddle in a circle and put the youngest and smallest in the center, shielding them with our bodies, and we pray.

We pray until the skies open and we feel nothing.

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

The Twilight Zone episode “The Obsolete Man” presents to us a distant dystopian future that doesn’t feel quite so distant nowadays…

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 10 | Runaway

The last thing I remember is lying under his naked body as he does what he’s done every night for the last six months since he groped me that day on the auction block until he goes limp. When I’m sure he’s asleep, I slice his throat with a bowie knife and run for the woods, chased by screaming men and the booming echo of shotguns firing.

Tree bark splinters off and sprays out as the bullets whizz by. I keep running. Ducking and dodging. My feet sliding across the hard dirt, catching in vines, scraping against thorns hidden in shrubs and fallen branches. I bear the pain and keep running toward the clearing ahead—death or escape my only option. When I finally break, I’m met with two glaring oval lights and a blaring sound that knocks me off my feet.


Her eyes flutter open, then quickly she closes them again. “Please, the light.” She shields her face with her forearms, which are covered in cuts and bruises. “Where am I?” She attempts to sit up, but Dr. Johnson lightly nudges her shoulder to lay her back down on the hospital bed.

“Easy, easy,” he says softly. “You were hit by a rather large SUV.”

“A what?”

He takes his penlight out of his lab coat pocket and lifts her eyelids, examining each eye. Then he holds his finger in front of her. “Can you follow my finger for me?”

Her eyes comply, shifting from left to right along with his finger. “Good,” he says, and writes a note in her chart. “I’m Dr. Johnson. I’ll be taking care of you.”

“A negro doctor?”

He chuckles. “Negro? I haven’t heard that word in a while.”

“How you a doctor?”

Dr. Johnson does a double take at the girl. Despite the rugged skin and the heavy bags under her eyes, she can’t be older than eighteen, and yet she calls him negro and questions whether he’s a doctor?

“Years of medical training,” he finally answers.

“Your people let you?”

“My parents?”

“Your owners.”

He looks at her pensively, then steps closer to the bed and touches her hand. “Can you tell me the last thing you remember?”

Her eyes well with tears, but he squeezes her hand to assure her she’s in a safe space. When she finishes speaking, unsure how to respond, Dr. Johnson says, “You rest,” and leaves the room, closing the door behind him.

Outside in the hall the driver of the SUV and the responding officer are discussing the accident. “She just ran out into the road!” the driver says. “I thought she was a ghost or something.”

“From what she was wearing, I’m guessing she’s part of some Civil War reenactment.”

“If that’s the case,” Dr. Johnson chimes in, “I question that reenactment club’s ethics. She has these deep lashes all over her back, as if…as if she’s been whipped. Almost like—”

“Like, like she’s a…a…s-s-slave?” the driver stutters. It’s as he can’t even say the word for fear that it will offend Dr. Johnson, the only African American of the trio.

Accustomed to these kinds of awkward exchanges, Dr. Johnson ignores it and continues. “Yes, like a slave. The whip marks aren’t the only thing. She has bruises all over her body that aren’t consistent with getting hit by a car. She shows a history of abuse. And—”

“And what?” the officer asks.

Dr. Johnson swallows hard, his throat suddenly dry. He recalls all that she said. The man she killed. The hunting party after her. It sounded unfathomable, like something straight out of the movies. Oddly enough, he felt strongly protective of her. His eyes lowered to the gun on the officer’s hip. On the off chance that what she said is true, anyone white, especially a white man, especially a white man with a gun, would terrify her.

“Well, with all the scars, and then getting hit by a car. She’s suffered a great deal. And it appears to have led to a mental break. She’s not saying things that make sense. I’d like for our hospital psychiatrist to see her before you talk to her, officer. If that’s alright.”


“There’s one other thing that puzzles me.”

“What is that?”

“The pellet we dug out of her calf. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t have to amputate her leg for infection. In all my years of working in the trauma ER, I’ve never seen a bullet that old.”

“You’re right about that.” A second officer returns from a phone call at the nurses station. “That was ballistics. They said the bullet is at least 165 years old.”

In unison, all heads turn slowly toward the hospital room where the girl sleeps.

Who is this girl? Where is she from?

And most importantly, when?

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

This hour’s Twilight Zone story was inspired by the episode “A Hundred Yards Over the Rim,” another time traveling tale that brings the past in confrontation with the present.

We’re almost half-way there! Do you have a favorite story yet? A favorite episode you want to see a story for?

Lost in the Twilight Zone Marathon | Ep 3 | Granddaddy’s Wives

“You remind me of someone.”


“Someone from another lifetime.”

“Was she pretty?”

“Oh, Laurette.” He squeezes my arms and pulls me to his lips. “I would get lost in the jade of her eyes. A luscious green paradise.”

“And mine?”

“The most beautiful I’ve ever seen.”

We spend the night together, and the next morning, still pressed against my body, he asks, “Is it weird to want to marry you after just one date?”

To any other person, it should be, but I’m not getting any younger—the ticking clock echos in my empty uterus—and pickings are slim, so I tell him, “I don’t want to wait.”

I know my mom will accuse me of settling if I tell her too soon, so I wait to the very last minute to call her, when we’re at the Justice of the Peace, and forth in line to be wed.

She rushes down to meet us but stops dead in her tracks upon seeing him.

“Mom, this is my fiancé—”


He clears his throat, adjusts his blazer across his broad shoulders. “Uh, it’s uh, Elijah.”

She points a shaky finger at the mole on his chin. “You look so much…”

But before she can finish that statement, our number is called, and we stand underneath the state seal on the wall behind us, and the officiant, who calls us his easy couple because we have no vows and no rings, simply asks us, “Do you want to be married?” We both say yes, and we share a kiss, and the officiant signs the document, along with Mom.

On the ride home, Mom tells us of her grandfather, who allegedly had the gift of eternal youth, until he mysteriously disappeared one afternoon when she was seven.

“Ma’am, I assure you!” His voice fills the car. “I may have salt and pepper hair, but I am not that old.”

“And not too old for me!” I add.

Not too old to fill my womb, and that’s just what he does.

But on the eve of Laura’s twelfth birthday, he vanishes into the night after an argument erupted when I compared my wrinkled hand to his unblemished skin, absent of any markings of our years spent together.

I browse through old photo albums Mom sent over years ago to pass the time as I wait for his return. And just like her the day of my wedding, I freeze in horror at the sight of the black and white photo. At the salt and pepper hair, the broad shoulders, the mole on the left side of his chin. And it’s then that I realize I am my great-grandmother, and my mother, my daughter.

© 2021 Nortina Simmons

You’re traveling in time, into hour three of our Twilight Zone blogging marathon. This story was brought to you by “Long Live Walter Jameson,” with easter eggs from “In His Image.”

Until we meet again, at the witching hour…