• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - The Planet Corps Zoos

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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“The Planet Corps bought all the zoos,” the tiger rumbled. “Why’s that, Private Devy?”

“So we can re-create Earth somewhere else,” I replied. Damn it. Them was the boss’s words, and they itched me. “Back up planets help. Don’t like it, but I was near the frontlines in last year’s Clash. Most original planets die out in the Clashes. It preserves culture and nature.”

Thick, stripy fur coated the nameless beast that padded back and forth inside the cell. Her shadow deepened and fuzzed along the floor as she crossed the wall-mounted LEDs. Her chin and throat were the only computerized parts on her. The speaker built dead-center under her jaw made her voice sound like reverb from a subwoofer. “You eat lies like I eat prey. Think again, simian. This is a flagship. Why would an inter-system military buy all of a planet’s fauna and keep us here? And why are all the cells on this block empty?”

I bit down on my uniform glove and tugged it off, the shipboard camo blending with the mass-produced metallic walls. Even the name patch blended in.

Holding up a finger, I counted down, my shadow counting down with me. “One-we take a planet, we rebuild it as Earth. I’d quit if the Clashes destroyed too much, but it equals out I think. Two-safety. Could you imagine putting a tiger in a cage full of cats? Or hamsters? If you eat our original’s species—”

“Private Devy,” she roared, pouncing at the bars. “Your bosses use us.”

I sprang back, reflexes kicking in on their own.

Rifle to shoulder. Finger on trigger.

Claws scraped on metal bars and the floor shook from her amplified growls. “We’re your frontline weapons. No names. No attachment. Every inter-system race fears predators. How they move. What they’re capable of. We’re brutal to the flesh and the psyche.”

Teeth gritted, I gulped down the fear and aimed my rifle at the cell’s lock. “No more Clashes for us, Nameless.”

“You can help us escape,” she purred, jamming her paws over her ears. “But you are not allowed to make up any more nicknames. Call me Varen.”

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