Fiction: “Marching Order”


All the pretty colors...

Bright colors ruled the day. Primary colors screamed from the surroundings; guests and workers alike wore colors never intended by nature. Positioned near orange comets with trailing blue fire were big, yellow stars. Purple and green tubes ran in frenetic lines overhead, carrying flags of every nation. Red was splashed liberally about in awnings and signs and notices. Everywhere there were balloons.

A Martian wearing a boot scrape on his bulbous head stood near the entrance, waving and waving his puffy white hands. From where he stood some little distance away, Lyle watched the Martian swap from one hand to the other, trying to stay ahead of muscle exhaustion. He tucked himself further back against the fence. With one T-shirted shoulder against the wall, he was just another park-guest taking advantage of the relative cool of the shade. He could hear the tinny sounds of the approaching parade. She’d be with them, he knew. He imagined her sweating inside her giant duck costume and shivered.

They will have to turn here, right here. Her handler would go first, to clear the way and open the door. She had to rest often in the Texas heat. Black costume and broken fans said so. And they would have to turn right here. He waited, listening to the Sousa get louder. His pocketed hand tightened around the knife. Right here, he reminded himself.

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