Flash Fiction Friday Story: Stowaway Annie

Connie the Kid - School Photo

Connie the Kid – School Photo

Crewman Sharif Vega put his duffle on the carry cart with care. Then he piled a case of Centauri Blood wine, a crate of fresh binga fruit and a box of cleaning detergent around it. He rolled it through the crowded spaceport and onto the monorail that carried passengers and crew to their desired gates. He got off at Gate D32 and rolled the cart to the desk.

“Hey, Lyn,” he greeted his shipmate at the desk as he maneuvered the cart around the desk. “I have some last minute buys for the ship.”

Lyn checked her electronic pad and nodded briefly as she scanned the items on the cart. “Great. I love binga fruit. I’ve checked you in, Sharif, go on in.”

Sharif wiped his hands on his ship suit and gripped the cart handle. He had been sure Lyn would ask about the duffle. He sped down the access way and into the ship’s entryway. The fruit and wine went to the galley, the detergent in the cleaning locker and he hurried along the corridor to crew quarters.

He lifted the duffel and carried it into his cabin. Sharif put it on the bed and unzipped it halfway. “Are you comfortable enough?” He peeked into the bag.

“I’m fine,” a small female voice came from inside the duffel.

“Stay here. I’ve got work to do but I’ll be back in awhile.” He pulled the zipper nearly closed and left the cabin.

It wasn’t long before the ship lifted off and jumped into hyper space. When they came out the Captain said over breakfast, “There’s a forty kilo discrepancy in the mass of the ship. Sharif, after you take over the freight console from Hawk, check the records of the freight we on-boarded on Centauri. Either the canisters were mislabeled or one of the readers made an error.”

Sharif nodded, eyes downcast. He couldn’t look the Captain in the eye. “Yes, sir.”

“I know it’s a small error,” the Captain told the crew around the table. “But I don’t want it becoming a big error. Find out the problem.”

The whole crew nodded. Sharif choked down his coffee and hurried from the galley. An hour later, he excused himself from the bridge and knocked on the Captain’s cabin door.

“Enter.”

The Captain was in his sleeping robe at the small desk. Sharif could see the manifest on the Captain’s pad. “Sir, I need to talk to you.”

Captain Teigen looked up. “You found the discrepancy?”

Sharif shuffled his feet. “In a way, Sir. Yes.”

An eyebrow rose. “Spit it out, Sharif.”

“Well, Sir,” Sharif began to twist his hands together. “You know how on Centauri the vids were full of reports of a search for a criminal’s grand-daughter?”

The Captain sat up. “I remember.” His tone of voice went level.

“The girl found me. Asked for help.” He stuck his hands in his pockets, thought better of it and pulled them out again. “I didn’t know who she was, at first. Just another beggar kid, you know. They’re all over the place.”

Captain Teigen’s eyebrows drew together.

Sharif licked his lips, then pulled himself up, squaring his shoulders. He blurted out. “I smuggled her onto the ship.”

“You did what?” The Captain’s voice went hard. His eyes bored into Sharif.

“They were going to kill her, Captain. You know that. All for some minor infraction her grand-father made. They kill the three generations, over some law that would just get a fine on Earth.” He twisted his hands again.

“Bring the girl here.”

Sharif nodded and dashed out of the door. When he got back, the girl in tow, the Captain was dressed.

“Captain, this is Annie, ten years old. Annie, this is Captain Teigen.”

The blue-eyed, blond girl stared up at the Captain. She stuck out her hand. “Nice to meet you, Sir.”

The Captain’s eyebrow twitched but he shook her hand. “Nice to meet you, Annie. You present me with a problem.”

“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry.”

A glare was shot at Sharif. “You have put me and the ship in a very difficult situation, Crewman Vega. We could be banned from Centauri, a very lucrative freight run for us. I could lose my ship for kidnapping a child from another planet. We could all be sent to prison.”

“But, Sir. I had to help. It’s not right that they were going to kill her for something she didn’t do. They don’t care about her, why should they care that she came with us. I didn’t kidnap her, Sir, she came willingly, to escape a death sentence. There must be a regulation for that?”

Teigen’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t go space lawyer on me, Vega. You’re in enough trouble. Get the girl a cabin and fed. Then you’re on report. You do your job during your duty hours, eat, and go to your cabin. That’s it. No rec time. Only the minimum gym time.” He turned Annie. “You may go to the galley to eat, work out in the gym, participate in any appropriate recreational activities. You are not allowed in any working spaces, the bridge, engine rooms, any other location that a passenger has no business being in. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir. I understand.”

“Good. Take care of it Sharif. Get out.”

The Captain and the Exec spent the next four hours going over System Law. They finally found a clause that would allow Annie to escape Centuri without bankrupting the ship. They turned her over to Child Protection on Minataur. Sharif hugged her at the access way, the assigned mentor watching. “Good luck, Annie.”

“Thank you, Sharif. I’m sorry about the trouble I got you in.”

“No worries, girl. Good luck on your new planet.”

“I knew you were the right spacer to approach.” She shook his hand. “Call me when you come back.”

“I’ll do that.”

He watched as the mentor took her hand and left for her new life.

 

 

The End

990 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here: http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Last Monday in November

Thanksgiving Day, Mom, Turkey

My mom checking out the Thanksgiving Day turkey. Photo by Randy Cockrell

Are you wondering, as I am, where 2014 went? Zoom! It’s gone. Thanksgiving is upon us already. My hubby and I are going to a friend’s house for the big meal. We’re bringing coleslaw. In my family we called it Cabbage Salad and cabbage was grated on an old fashioned box grater along with a carrot and an onion. Miracle Whip was the dressing. Now, since I’m celiac, Miracle Whip is out of the question. But I still make a pretty mean ‘cabbage salad’ and it reminds me of my childhood. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it.

I’m definitely on tap to sign books at the Swiss Village Small Business Saturday Christmas kickoff.  http://conniesrandomthoughts.wordpress.com/where-will-i-be/. On Saturday the 29th, the biggest day of the three day event, I’ll have a tent set up to sell and sign my books. I have invites out to a few other authors, so I’m hoping there will be four of us there to say hi and sign books. The event starts at 10am and runs until after Santa leaves, probably 9pm. Hope to see you there.

I’m still doing well on my National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’ve passed the 40K  point and to be honest, I’m enjoying the story more and more. Estimated release date? Maybe March. I’ll see how the revisions and editing go.

My book, The Downtrodden, book two of the Brown Rain series is up on Smashwords and I’m working to get it up on Amazon. I’m having a bit of a cover snafu but it will be resolved soon. As usual, I’d love to have some reviews. Sign up for my newsletter and tell me you’d like to do a review and I’ll send you a free ebook. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here. Use Control, Click to access the link.

I’ve been working on cleaning up my garden from the summer excesses. The compost bin has been cleaned out and two garden beds (I do raised bed gardens here in central Arizona) have been cleaned of dead or dying vegetation and readied for winter. We’ve had several frosts and even the Swiss Chard is lying limp and sad in the garden bed. The sage, however seems to be as healthy as ever. I’ll use fresh sage for as long as it lasts. Then I have an awesome supply of dried to get me through the winter.

I mentioned that I’m getting ready for my mom to come and live with me. I’ve ordered a new bed for her and curtains that have already arrived. We still need to clean the room, paint and put up the curtains and new furniture. We are going to have so much fun.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

The Downtrodden: a Brown Rain Story released November 22nd! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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Merry Go Round Tour: August – Protagonists

Heros by agusiak620 via www.deviantart.com

Heros by agusiak620 via www.deviantart.com

Protagonist: The story’s main character. The protagonist can be anything, think of Steven King’s Christine, for example. But we generally think of the protagonist as a person, one that you, the reader, can relate to. A character that you’re willing to spend some time with and makes you want to read the book or story you’ve just picked up.

Most of my protagonists have been women. It makes sense. I’m a woman and not surprisingly, I’m kind of familiar with being a woman. I have a feel for what motivates or can motivate a female main character. But as an author, I don’t feel that I should just write female main characters. How limiting that would be. So I try my hand at male main characters, hoping I get their behaviors and motivations correct. I often use my husband for that research, asking him how a man would think in a particular situation. Even asking once, what alcoholic beverage a man would choose in a bar.

I’d like to try my hand at other main characters, perhaps gay, trans or lesbian folk. Maybe persons of color or people of different cultures and religions. After all, they’re people. They love, fear, give birth, have crappy jobs, just like me. The difference is how their situation, their skin color, their religion, colors their perceptions. That would be a good thing to explore, don’t you think? As a writer or a reader, I should be exposed to those different thought processes. If or when creatures from different planets come to visit or we visit them, shouldn’t we be prepared to think outside our own comfort zone? Those different thought processes, customs, courtesies, whether we’re talking to aliens or to people from different parts of this planet, could bring some clarity and understanding about life to us.

So how about you? What do you look for in a protagonist? Are you eager to read about a swashbuckling hero? A super woman? A main character just trying to get through the day? Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below.

The Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour is sponsored by the website Forward Motion (http://www.fmwriters.com). The tour is you, the reader, travelling the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. There are all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s always something new and different to enjoy. If you want to get to know the nearly twenty other writers check out the rest of the tour at http://merrygoroundtour.blogspot.com! Up next: Jean Schara!

Revolution: A Gulliver Station Story released August 1st! I’m pretty excited about it. Apple (iTunes) and Barnes and Noble now have it up on their sites. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

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St. Patrick’s Day

Living Irish by incognitoWolfe  via www.deviantart.com

Living Irish by incognitoWolfe
via www.deviantart.com

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This is the day that in popular parlance, we’re all Irish. On the other hand, my family is actually part Irish. We never made much of it, because, well, many of the people on the East Coast are part Irish. In my hometown, it wasn’t much to think about. A good number of people were of Italian and Polish descent too.

But even in school, on March 17th we all wore something green. Shamrocks were prevalent, and even the Italian grandmas made corned beef and cabbage. Yeah, I know. It’s not really a traditional Irish dish. But it was in my house.

A corned beef brisket was purchased. One was needed big enough to feed 6 kids and my parents. After we grew up and brought our wives and husbands and our own kids to dinner, it had to get even bigger. Then there was the adding of potatoes, carrots and finally the cabbage. A boiled dinner to be sure. Then at the table after every plate held some of the repast, vinegar was passed to sprinkle over the cabbage.

Dad insisted on green beer. He didn’t just add food coloring though. He put crème de menthe in the beer. Well, it didn’t take long for us to be singing the Irish blues.

Family is the most precious thing we have. Each of those little family customs; Christmas Cards taped on the front door, Crème de Menthe put in our St. Patrick’s Day beer, ribs always on the menu of the 4th of July Barbeque, is special. No matter what your family’s tradition is, celebrate it with joy.

My second book in the Gulliver Station series, The Challenge, is the last line edit phase. The cover is done. The book will be out the end of March. Sign up for my newsletter because promotions will happen there first. See the link below.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

Go ahead and sign up for my newsletter where you’ll get first dibs on any promotions, book announcements, and other information. Go to the button on the right side of the blog or go to my Newsletter tab to sign up. Or sign up here.  Use Control, Click to access the link.

I have an in depth interview on my Smashwords Author page. You can read it here.  Don’t see information about me you’d like to know? Leave me your question in my comments and I’ll try to answer it.

A New Start: A Gulliver Station story released January 31st! I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords today!

Kobo: Not Available Yet.

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Flash Fiction Friday: We Are The Villians

Garbage by Atlantis Forester via Deviant Art

Garbage by Atlantis Forester via Deviant Art

A few months ago I saw a documentary on one man’s efforts to live without plastic. The documentary also covered plastic and how it degrades. Or more accurately, doesn’t degrade. It was a shocking expose and I tried to do without plastic in my own household. It’s close to impossible. A couple of weeks ago I came across a writing prompt that was to be used as the last line of a story: A man realizes to himself that we are the villains. Several possible stories came to mind for me but this one worked it’s way to the top of my brain.

We Are The Villains

Joel unscrewed the top of a small plastic water bottle for his four year-old daughter Cindy. “I tell you, Rich, I can’t believe the garbage men are going to strike on Monday morning.” He handed the bottle to the girl. “They already get the best salaries in the city.”

Rich, one of Joel’s friends, sipped at his glass bottle of beer. “I hear ya, buddy. I should be so lucky to get paid like that.”

“I don’t know guys.” Greg said. “I mean, they take care of garbage for a living. I’d want to get paid for doing such a nasty job.” He leaned over to unwrap the plastic from a lollipop his 5 year-old, Tanner, handed to him.

The three old high school friends were at Joel’s house for a Saturday afternoon barbeque with wives and kids.

“Ann, honey,” Joel called to his wife sitting on the patio on her extruded plastic Adirondack chairs.  “The kids are running out of water. Can you bring half a case out to put in the cooler?”

“Sure. Need anything else?” She put down her red plastic cup on the table where Rich’s wife, Piper and Greg’s wife, Lexi were sitting under the plastisized table umbrella.

Joel removed the plastic wrap from the hamburgers his wife had prepped yesterday. They sizzled as they hit the hot propane fired grill. The three men stepped back as the smoke from the grill rose into the air. Joel put the top down on the grill. “The garbage companies don’t do a good job if you ask me.” He took a long pull from his can of lite beer. “I saw a show on TV last night about these miles wide floating garbage islands in the oceans. Sheesh.” He crumpled up his can and tossed it in the plastic lined, plastic garbage can next to the grill where he had thrown the plastic wrap. “They said it’s just garbage, all kinds of plastic garbage floating there. The sea animals eat that stuff and die, cause, you know. It’s not food.”

Greg sat his beer bottle down on the grill shelf and ran over to break up a fight for the extruded plastic toy car that his three year-old, Becca, wanted from his five year-old son, Tanner.

Joel turned the burgers and called over to his wife. “Honey, burgers are nearly done.”

“OK,” she said as she put the plastic wrapped cardboard from the water bottle case in the trash can. The three women got up and went into the kitchen. They came out with a stack of plastic foam plates and plastic ware and plastic tubs of potato salad and fruit salad. They put them on the plastic tablecloth over the plastic picnic table. Hamburger buns were pulled out of plastic bags and put on another plastic foam plate.

After they ate, the tablecloth, plates and plastic ware went into the trash can along with the beer cans and bottles and red plastic cups. That night it took Joel tthree plastic bags to hold all the trash from the day’s festivities.

On Monday he put out the trash, three plastic trash cans full and drove into the city to work. By Tuesday, the garbage men’s strike was evident. The streets were lined with piles of plastic trash bags so high he couldn’t see the pedestrians on the sidewalk. He looked away in disgust as huge rats roamed freely over the piles. Trash fell out of the holes in the bags the rats had chewed and blew all over the streets.  “Unbelievable,” he muttered to himself over the radio in his one year old car. He wiped the dust from the plastic dashboard as he waited at a traffic light. “Where does all of the trash come from?”

That evening he saw on the news that the landfills were leaking toxins from the trash into the local water supply. State and Federal investigators were involved. Joel resolved to get water delivered as soon as he could call them in the morning. Getting ready for bed that night he told his wife about the water delivery idea and about the trash he saw every day on the way into work.

“Maybe we should make less trash,” she said as she applied night cream to her face with a disposable wipe.

He stopped dead in the middle of the bedroom to stare at her. He remembered the bags of trash from the party, his cardboard take out container from the burger joint around the corner from his office, the plastic water bottles, and bread wrappers. Joel felt sick to his stomach. We are the villains, he thought.

The End

777 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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Special Encore

I don’t know if you know this but I spent 20 years in the United States Air Force. Many people have asked how I could do that. Here is one of the ways.

http://videos.komando.com/watch/4592/kims-christmas-music-usaf-band-christmas-flash-mob

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Layers

I’ve been thinking about layers lately.

I’m learning to use an editing/production software program called GIMP.  It’s a Photoshop type program that I’m using to design a book cover for my upcoming release of Recall.  It uses layers to make a picture. One layer on top of another until the final picture is revealed.

But that’s not what’s captured my attention. The layers I’m envisioning are of people.

We see people, generally, in a certain milieu. For example: if you know someone from work, say he or she is a project manager.  We tend to see that person only in that light. They organize meetings, they gather data on whether the project is proceeding on time, they facilitate meetings among a diverse range of technologically oriented people.  You see, of course, the penultimate project manager.

What you don’t see is the other layers. The person who gardens. A garden large enough to feed his whole family for a year. You don’t see the person who makes soap. She sells it at the local farmer’s market every Saturday. Then there’s the gourmet  chef person who haunts the farmer’s markets and grows her own food to make the most wonderous dinners imaginable.

Sometimes all of those people are one person. I personally know how to do all of those things, and more. But no one asks. Each person in your circle of project managers, soap makers, gardeners think you belong to just one group.

Here’s a hint for my writer (and yes, you others too!) friends. People aren’t one dimensional. They have other interests and hobbies. They have a life outside of the one you know. Take advantage of that! They have knowledge you need. Take a leap and cross that informational divide. You’ll be richer for it.

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It’s Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas to everyone.

A short blog today as anyone who celebrates Christmas is busy putting the final touches on their holiday festivities.

I’m wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! May your health be tip top, your finances solid and your family close.  May your wishes all come true.

Happy writing and reading.

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Flash Fiction Friday: Freedom To Eat

Anna started at the pounding on her door.  She brushed the flour off of her hands and as she walked to the door, she wiped them on her apron.  Tucking a stray wisp of long blond hair back into her kerchief, she tried to smooth the thin linsey-woolsey of her ankle length skirt.

She opened the plank door to find the Bailiff standing there.  Behind him she could see some of her neighbors, the mostly female crowd whispering to each other and pointing toward her from the safety of the lane outside of her fence.

“Bailiff  Martin, Good Morning to you.”

“Goodwife Fielding, you are being called before the Magistrate.  Come with me.”  He reached out and took her elbow.  He was firm but gentle.  He looked into the room before he closed the door, the beginning of the bread making on her table.  He raised his left eyebrow but said nothing to her in front of the neighbors, now thick on the lane.

The crowd parted as they came out the gate, following them to the center of the village and into the Court Building.

The room was divided in half; the half nearest the door empty space, a place for any on-lookers to stand while proceedings were underway.  Separating the empty space from the Magistrates desk and the few chairs facing it was a banister.  The bailiff escorted her though the small gate in the center of the banister and sat her in a chair facing the magistrate to the right of the table.

Anna refused to turn around but she could hear the murmuring of her neighbors.  To the left and facing the Magistrate’s table, were four men.  She knew who they were.  The chandler, who made all of the candles in the area, the baker, the weaver and the cheese maker were all seated there.

The Magistrate came into the room by a door behind the table.  The Bailiff called, “All rise.”

Anna and the tradesmen stood as the Magistrate sat down.

“Be seated,” the bailiff called out.

The Magistrate, Howard Witherspoon, picked up his gavel, rapping it once on the table, calling the court to order.

“What is today’s complaint?”  He glanced at Anna, then turned his attention to the men.

Each man urged the others to stand and speak.  Eventually, the Weaver, John Pettigrew, stood up to speak for them all.

“Your Honor, we want to file a complaint against Anna Fielding.  She goes against all custom; making her own bread, candles, and cheese and weaving her own rugs.”  He sat down quickly, his comrades slapping him on the back and muttering “Well done.”

The Magistrate turned to Anna, “Do you deny these complaints, Goodwife Fielding?”

Anna gave the men a withering glance then stood up, folding her hands in front of her to stop their shaking.  “I do not, Magistrate Witherspoon.”  She could hear the crowd behind her gasp and mutter like a flock of chickens.  She remained standing, keeping her chin high.

The Magistrate banged the gavel once on the desk, “Quiet!”

The crowd settled down and he turned to the tradesmen, looking self-righteous.  “Stand up gentlemen.”

They shot smug looks at Anna as they eased up out of their chairs.

“Gentlemen, why do you bring this complaint?”

John Pettigrew tried to push another forward but it was three against one so he stopped resisting, his hat twisting in his hands.

“Magistrate, it is against all custom for a person to work in another person’s guild without the proper apprenticeship.  It takes the bread right out of our children’s mouths when that happens.”

Witherspoon turned to Anne, “Goodwife Fielding, you’ve already admitted that these men’s complaints are true.  Why have you done this?”

Anna could feel the pressure of the eyes behind her.  “I do it, Magistrate, because I don’t have any money.  If I want bread to eat or clothes to wear, I must needs make them myself.”

The crowd buzzed and the Magistrate had to pound his gavel again.  “There will be quiet,” he boomed over the noise.

“Please continue.”

“Magistrate, I was as all of the Goodwives behind me, I purchased my goods as they do.  However, after my husband died, and his guild price was paid back to me and spent, I had to do something.”

The Magistrate raised an eyebrow at the men, and Thomas Longfellow, the Baker, spoke up.  “Charity is always offered the widow, Goodwife Fielding.”  The crowd picked up his words, agreeing with him.

Anna snorted, “Grudgingly, baker, very grudgingly.”  Thomas went red from collar to hairline.  “It is the same with all of you and the rest that are not here today.  I have a daughter to feed and a house to keep and in each shop, it’s the same.  ‘Not much left over today.  Maybe tomorrow.’ ”

All of the men went red and the crowd couldn’t be heard at all.  “I am not ashamed to say that I don’t want charity, especially when it’s so grudgingly given.  My late husband taught me to bake bread and I’m glad for it, guild rules or not.”

“Magistrate!”  Ronald Highgate, the Cheese maker spoke up.  “There are trade secrets involved.  A person outside the guild should not know those secrets.”  His chest puffed, daring her to respond.

“I have only the common knowledge my granny taught me when I was a child.  I have a right to keep body and soul together and if I can do it by making my own bread, or by turning rags into rugs to sell and make a little money, who are you to say I cannot!”

The fickle crowd began agreeing with her.

The Magistrate slammed the gavel again, bringing silence to the room.

“No laws have been broken, complaint denied.”  He smacked the gavel again and disappeared into the back room.

Anna’s neighbors swarmed her, hugging and pulling her out of the court while the guildsmen glared after her.

The End

993 Words

Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:http://www.fmwriters.com/flash.html

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