Mr. White came into Davy’s room yawning and nursing a steaming styrofoam cup in the hand that didn’t hold his clipboard.
“Morning, Mr. White,” Davy said, not looking up from his coloring book. They’d awoken Davy an hour earlier and given him mild stimulants, and it was still black outside through the windows at the end of the room. He’d had his breakfast at the big table, and the nurse had left him there to color while he waited for Mr. White.
“Morning Davy. Sorry we had to be so early — time zone differences.”
Mr. White put his clipboard down and slurped from his cup. He looked at Davy. He looked around the room — a colorful collage, the universe of an eight-year-old boy done up in constellations of dinosaurs and soccer balls and rugged toys of all kinds. Mr. White smiled at a radio-operated big-wheeled monster truck, and plinked its whiplash aerial idly with a finger. “Some new toys here, Davy.”
Mr. Dance came in then, nursing a white cup in the hand that didn’t hold his big, brown envelope. He had dark circles under his eyes, and brought the smell of cigarettes and burnt coffee with him into the child’s room. “Tina says it’s a go,” he said.
“How is she?” White.
“Irritable; vast; difficult. And infallible. We go in twenty, better hurry.” Dance.
Davy looked at the adults, wrinkling his nose. He knew Tina well, but had only met her once. She lived upstairs and when he was taken to her room he had stood as far away from her wheelchair as he could. She was one of those people that said they loved children, and you wondered if she meant to eat. She could see better than anyone in the world, though, and Davy knew it.
“Are we getting the toy box out?” said Davy, a kernel of excitement stirring in his torso.
Mr. Dance said, “Damn straight,” and Mr. White said, “Yes, Davy. Patience.”
Nurses arrived, wheeling in equipment on carts. They checked and prodded Davy, doing the squeeze-cuff thing, the light in the eyes thing, the “say ahhh, Davy” thing. Ears, eyes, nose, mouth. Davy squirmed, thinking all the while about his toy box. “Quickly, please,” Dance said through his teeth a couple of times.
At last they brought it and sat it at the end of the big table. Big as Davy, steel all over, cold as window glass at night. The toy box. Mr. White typed the code on the lock and it clacked open.
Mr. White sighed. “Not this time, Davy. Sit tight please.”
Mr. Dance emptied his envelope and mumbled over his maps. Davy had seen them before, and they never looked like the sort of maps in books. Mr. Dance said they were pictures taken from cameras in space. Davy colored a while, while the nurses hooked up his looker. He squirmed some more, wanting the toys in the box.
“Ow,” he said as the nurse adjusted the looker over his head, tugging his hair. “Can’t I play without the looker, Mr. White?”
But Mr. White ignored him, as he always did. He and Mr. Dance were setting up the table for playtime. It didn’t look real great so far. Sometimes they pulled out the best army men, and arranged them all over, and let Davy smash them with a hammer or burn them or cut them with nippers. And tanks and trucks and planes and tank-things called APCs. And buildings and bridges and, one time, a big boat. Davy liked the boat, they had played with it in the bathtub and he’d sunk it.
This time though, it was just one guy. A little plastic guy in a suit like Mr. White and Mr. Dance wore beneath their white coats. The little guy was in a building, with a lot of other buildings around it. Mr. Dance was very fussy about how everything was set up — that much was always the same.
“Okay, Davy. You know what to do. Make sure you wait for Tina to guide you to the target — the, uh, the guy — before you do anything.” Mr. Dance said, checking his watch. “And hurry a bit, kid.” He put a pair of pliers on the table next to Davy.
Davy looked from Dance to White. “Just one guy, Mr. White?”
“Yes, Davy.” A note of impatience had crept into Mr. White’s voice. “Just one. You know what to do.”
“Jeez, Mr. White, can’t we do some trucks and stuff, too?”
“No!” Mr. White said. “Davy, I’m not going to tell you again. Eliminate the target.”
Davy didn’t like that. He thought of all those army men and tanks and things, thought of smashing them. Thought of how good that felt with Tina there. Not like anything in the room, his other toys and things. The looker, the toy box — those made really real feelings.
Tina was there now, in his head like a piece of hair tickling him behind the eyes, wanting to take him halfway around the world. He went. He could see the building and the room. It was daytime. A man in a pale suit sat and read a newspaper in words that were all squiggles and dots. He was the plastic man.
“Come on please, Davy. The target.” White.
“We’re down to three minutes.” Dance.
“How should I do it?” Davy said.
“Davy! Just kill him, use the pliers, pull him apart, it doesn’t matter.” Mr. White said, very angry now. Davy didn’t like at all what he was feeling from Mr. White.
He reached his child-small hand through the window and picked up the plastic guy. He looked hard at Mr. White. Davy was completely in the moment, hardly noticing Tina’s protest somewhere in the back of his mind, when he put the plastic guy in his mouth.
Davy bit down.
They never did find Mr. White’s head.
Bill Ward is a freelance writer out of Baltimore, Maryland. He has sold fiction to Murky Depths, Darwin’s Evolutions, Kaleidotrope and the anthologies Northern Haunts, Return of the Sword, Dead Souls, and Desolate Places. In addition Bill has written background material and serial fiction for fantasy and science fiction games, has done editing for small press ventures, and is co-editor of the Magic & Mechanica Anthology from Ricasso Press. To read his fiction or check out his weekly book reviews please visit www.billwardwriter.com.