Watching the Rain: Friday Flash Fiction Story

I wiped the fog from the kitchen window with the towel I’d been using to dry the dishes. Rain. What a surprise.

When they’d told us on Earth that the planet was rainy, it never really registered with me. I was from Seattle after all. I was used to rain. Anyway, that’s what I thought. I sighed and turned back to the kitchen. The psychologists made sure our prefabs were bright and cheery. All of the lights, in every building, were full spectrum so that we wouldn’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder. SAD they called it back on Earth. Here it wasn’t something just the occasional person got. Apparently quite a few of the original colonizing scientists went mad and killed each other. Can’t have that with the permanent colonists.

I finger-combed my son’s fine hair, same as his father’s, and gave him a smile. “Finish your breakfast, Eddie.” He nodded, mouth full of scrambled egg, as he kept his eyes on the cartoon on the monitor.

“Breakfast, Ed!”

“Right there!”

I dropped sliced bread into the toaster and poured a coffee for Ed. I was still amazed at how well the agriculturists could mimic real coffee from the yeast vats. There was some squawking about when we’d get real coffee, real dairy, so on and so on. You’d think they were deprived or something. All we ate on Earth was yeast food. Just because the scientists said we’d get real food someday. I rolled my eyes. Takes time to raise animals after all, and plants. Nothing Earth derived could survive the climate here. Time, I thought. Need lots of time.

Ed came into the kitchen. He kissed Eddie on the top of his head and gave me a kiss on the cheek as the toast popped up.

Eddie finished his egg by pushing it onto his spoon with a slice of toast. Then ate the toast.

Ed buttered his toast and slurped his coffee. “Great bread, honey. I love that you make it from scratch.”

I smiled. As a botanist, I had a part of a greenhouse. I was developing a strain of wheat that might work here.

Ed finished his toast. “Come on, buddy. Time for me to walk you to school.”

They both put on their rain gear and walked out the door with a wave to me. I watched from the cleaned window. They got halfway to the next pre-fab and collapsed. I pulled the curtain and cleaned up the kitchen. The bread went into the disposall.

I was at my computer when the knock came. I answered, letting the colony leader and the security officer into the foyer. “James, Alex, what’s going on?”

James looked uncomfortable.

“Uh, Anna.” Alex pulled his hood down. “There’s been a problem.”

I looked at each in turn. “Problem?”

“Yeah.” James took a deep breath. “Your husband and son were found out on the walk. Dead.”

I blinked at them. “Dead?”

“Yes.” Alex pulled his pad from an inside pocket. “Something about poisoning. The local plant alkaloids. Was Ed experimenting with anything here at home?”

“No. No. He kept everything in the labs. Some of the local plant life is toxic even to touch.”

The two men nodded. “Sorry for your loss, Anna.” James took my hand and patted it. They pulled up their hoods. “We’ll send Mary by.”

“Mary.” I nodded. “That would be good.”

“Sure.” They left.

I went back to the computer. That would be good. I was sick of Mary, too.

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Gulliver Station Box Set, Brown Rain Series, Slave Elf: Daily Blog Post

 

Hey!

So I put the Gulliver Station Box set up on Amazon Kindle and it went live, Monday morning. Of course, in my efforts to reformat the set for Smashwords, I found some errors. So, I’m going to finish reformatting for Smashwords then copy the file over to the Amazon Kindle site, to correct that file. That means you can buy it now on Amazon Kindle if you don’t mind hyphenated words not being hyphenated and other esoteric errors like that, or wait. I’ll have that file corrected by the end of the week. Then I’ll be working on the paperback version, should you be interested in that.

Then, it’ll be time for the reformatting of the first 3 Brown Rain books. I did interesting formatting in book 4, Tested, that I’d not done before and I want to bring the first 3 books up to that standard. Plus add the new covers. So there’s that.

In the meantime, I’m doing my 1st pass edits on Slave Elf. Since I have a cover, I’m thinking of putting that book up on pre-sale. To decide, I need to estimate when the edits will be done and allow time for the interior formatting. There’s the Northern Gila County Fair in September for me to consider as that’s a week-long time commitment. Lot’s to think about there.

That’s it for today!

Tested released January 31st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Monsters in the Woods, Gulliver Station Box Set: Daily Blog Post

Hey!

I mentioned that my husband took a group of hikers out on a hike yesterday. When he got home he told me they’d heard a very weird, horrifying noise out in the woods. Here’s a video of what he recorded.  https://youtu.be/trJNvR_R-RY  What would you have done if you’d heard that noise?

 

On to other news. I’m just about done formatting the new Gulliver Station ebook box set. It’s been very tedious but you all may enjoy getting the entire series in one book, right? So it will be out soon. Above is the cover for it.

That’s it for today!

Tested released January 31st and I’m pretty excited about it. You can buy it and my other books at: Apple, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords, today! You can also see all my books on http://conniesrandomthoughts.com/my-books-and-other-published-work/. If you’ve read any of my books, please drop a short, honest, review on the site where you bought it or on Goodreads. It’s critical to help me promote the books to other readers. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reading my blog. Like all of the other work I do as an author, it takes time and money. If you enjoy this Monday blog and the Friday free story and the recipe I put up on the 25th of every month, consider donating to https://www.paypal.me/ConniesRandomThought. I appreciate any donation to help support this blog.

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Haunted: Flash Fiction Friday Post

screamer-by_eurai at https://www.deviantart.com/art/Screamer-29923535

https://www.deviantart.com/art/Screamer-29923535

“Where’d you get the parts?” Lieutenant Wong studied the inventory on his crystal.

“From a salvage company. They recovered the Del Rio from Hippolita Four.” MaintTech Dora Soledad checked her crystal. “Shame about the Del Rio.”

Wong nodded and clicked off his crystal. “Yeah. Three hundred and twenty-seven colonists and the whole crew, dead.” He sighed. “Okay. We’ll go with these. Start with the engine. That capacitor is way over due for replacement.”

Dora nodded. Wouldn’t be if the company cared about anything but the bottom line, she thought. Wong turned and left the maintenance shop. Dora went over to the shelf where the capacitors were stored. She looked over the parts. They all looked pretty good, so she picked one, grabbed her took kit, and headed for the engine room.

The Chief Engineer, Sue Goode, was sitting watch at her boards and greeted Dora when she arrived. “No kidding, there are parts?”

“Yeah.” Dora grinned. “I grabbed a whole list of parts as soon as I saw them come up on the sales boards. Used but in good condition.”

“Fantastic.” Sue grinned back. “About time.”

Dora put the part in, tested it, and was done in an hour. She gave Sue a wave as she left.

The next day she was at the noon mess with the third engineer, Dave Bookman. “It was creepy down in engineering last night.” He sighed. “I kept hearing things.”

“What kind of things?” Dora took a sip of her soup.

Dave shrugged. “It sounded like screaming.”

Dora’s eyebrow rose. “Screaming.”

“Yeah! I checked over that whole engine. Everything in the room. Couldn’t find anything wrong.” Dave shuddered. “Creepy.”

Dora nodded. “Sure.”

Two days later, she was walking along a passageway when she caught sight of something from the corner of her eye. When she turned to see it, it drifted away, like smoke, through the bulkhead. She shook her head. That wasn’t possible. Seeing things, she thought, and went on her way.

At the evening mess, it was all the talk. Just about everyone had seen or heard something. Just inside hearing range, or just about in sight, it was scaring everyone. “What could it be?” Dave asked her. “Are we all going nuts?”

“Everyone? All at once?” Dora shook her head. “I’m not buying it.”

“Well, something is happening.” He crossed his arms. “What’s the Captain going to do about it?”

Dora shrugged. “He can’t stop people from seeing things, Dave.”

Dave stood and picked up his tray. “I guess. But something is going on.”

Dora finished her meal after Dave left. Thinking about it. Finished, she went to see the Lieutenant. “Sir. Have you heard about the ghosts?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I’ve been hearing stuff myself.” He studied her. “You?”

“I’ve seen something, not sure what.”

“Okay. What do you have?”

“It seems to me the sightings started after I began using the parts from the Del Rio”

He rubbed his chin. “How do you figure?”

The sighting I had was in the hall where I’d replaced a fan blade the day before in the air handling system. Dave Bookman heard screaming the night I replaced the capacitor in the engine room. I’ve been listening to people talk about where they were when they had a sighting. It’s all places I’ve worked over the last three days.” She took a breath. “Where were you when you heard stuff?”

He thought a moment. “Outside the bridge, for one.”

“I replaced the switch plate to the door.”

“Let’s talk to the Captain.”

They met in the Captain’s ready room and explained Dora’s theory. “And how did it happen?” he asked.

“I heard the Del Rio crashed hard, Sir. Quite a psychic shock. Drove their, souls, I guess, right into the nearest thing.”

The Captain nodded. “Sounds like a lot of hooey to me.”

“What can we do about it?” Wong asked.

“Nothing. It’s a figment of people’s imaginations.”

“But Sir,” Dora started to speak. He cut her off.

“No. I’m not buying it. Dismissed.”

Dora spent the next week doing her best not to use any parts from the Del Rio but often, they were the only parts available. Apparitions hung clearly beside the shelves and racks in the Maintenance Office. She tried to talk to them, reassure them, but it didn’t seem they could hear her.

People were starting to look haggard, especially the people who were hearing screaming. Dave Bookman collapsed and had to be taken to the clinic where they sedated him.

The Captain showed up in the Maintenance Office, stopping short just inside the doorway. His eyes grew bigger as he looked around the crowded room. “How long?” He gestured at the ghosts.

“Four days.” Dora looked around. “I try to talk to them. But no response.”

He rubbed his cheek. “I’ll check with the doctor.”

Dora nodded as he left and went back to work.

The doc started in the Maintenance Office. “Captain said you’ve been talking to them.”

“Yeah. It doesn’t help, though.”

“Supportive counseling, it’s called.” He watched the ghosts as they drifted around the room. Better is what you’ve already done, in vivo exposure. They’ve been put back on a space ship. Eventually they’ll see that nothing bad is happening and they’ll get better. Probably disappear.” He turned to her. “They don’t bother you, interfere in any way, anything?”

“Nope. They just drift around. I walk around them, though. It seems rude to walk through them.”

The doc nodded. “Yeah. I can see that. Just keep talking to them. It’s about the best we can do.”

He gave the people who could hear screaming drugs to keep them calm and set others to talking to the parts that had been installed around the ship.

It took three months for the first of the ghosts to disappear. Last to go were the screamers, the shock of their death more acute with them. Dora was a little sad to see her ghosts go. They were good company.

Words: 1000

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The Drink: Friday Flash Fiction Post

Scarf

I originally wrote this story at the start of February, 2014! I know, right? I searched the blog and cannot find where I posted it, if I did. Anyway, I was searching for the recipe I have in the story, a specialty bar drink that I created for a Chuck Wendig prompt. So I thought it would be cool that I make the drink an actual recipe card to hand out at my Phoenix ComiCon appearance in May. www.PhoenixComiCon.com. I’m not sure the title fits. What do you think? What would be a better title?

The Drink

Paula Vance held up the heavily embroidered scarf with intricate metallic blue and silver swirls and stars. “Look at this, Rob! I’ve never seen anything like it.”

He stepped to his wife. “Beautiful.”

The stall keeper sensed a sale to the tourists. “I know the artist. She does fantastic work but as you can imagine, it takes a long time to hand embroider. I don’t get many like that.”

“We’re on our 10th anniversary trip,” Paula shared with the stall keeper. “We heard about the Gulliver Station BioDome and since it was on the way to Pica, we decided to stop here. I’m glad we did.” She tried on the scarf and looked at herself in the mirror standing on the counter. “I have to have it.”

Rob laughed. “Why not? It’s our anniversary after all.” He handed the stall keeper his ID.

“Shall I wrap it for you, Miss?”

Paula took a couple of steps backward to get a different perspective in the mirror. “No, I think…”

She shrieked as she was struck by a speeding methane breather transport pod. Paula slid over the bubble protecting the alien and rolled off of the back onto the floor.

“Paula!” Rob shouted.

The pod stopped. The stall keeper called Station Security. Passersby gathered around the fallen woman and the transport. In a few minutes, Station Security Officer, Helene Guzman, arrived on the scene.

“Are you alright, Ma’am?” Officer Guzman took a swift glance at the transport. There was no smell of methane so the bubble wasn’t cracked. The exterior speaker hissed and sputtered. She read the display.

“Fright. Female. Broken!”

Guzman sighed. She hated dealing with the V’Heeme. It was hard to figure out what their messages meant. Was it scared and broken or was it asking about the woman?

Rob helped his wife to her feet. “I think she’s fine.” He dusted off her dress.

“Stay right there, the medics are coming.” Guzman turned to the transport’s speaker. “May I ask your name, Honored V’Heeme?”

The screen printed, “Zmugn.”

“Honored Zmugn, are you injured?” She tapped her pocket pad with the V’Heeme’s name and the number of the transport pod. The message went straight to Security.

“No. Human?”

“I will inquire, Honored Zmugn.” She turned to the couple. “May I ask your names?”

Paula straightened the scarf, then her hair. “I’m Paula Vance, this is my husband Ron. We were just buying this scarf when the pod hit me.” She straightened her dress. “I never expected to see a Methane breather.” They peered into the bubble.

“So you didn’t see the pod travelling along the market aisle?”

Paula glanced around her, the crowd, smaller now that there was no apparent injury, hung onto every word. “Well, I stepped back a bit, to see the scarf in the mirror.”

“That’s true, Officer,” the stall keeper called out. “She was just admirin’ the scarf.”

Guzman nodded. This was an accident but with the V’Heeme involved it could turn ugly. “I can do a couple of things here. I can take both of you and the V’Heeme to the office where everyone can file complaints.

“Or, I can call it no harm, no foul, since no one is injured and you can go about your business.”

“Oh, no,” Ron said in a hurry. “We were just about to go to dinner.”

Guzman nodded. “Let me ask the V’Heeme.”

“Honored Zmugn, do you wish to go about your business or come to Station Security to file a complaint?”

The speaker hissed and crackled and the screen finally printed, “No. Business now.”

“Thank you for your courtesy, Honored Zmugn.” Guzman tapped the answer into her pad. She turned to the couple.

“Your lucky day, the V’Heeme is eager to get on about his business, too.”

They watched the pod speed away. “It goes kind of fast, doesn’t it?” Rob said as he watched it take the corner.

Guzman held out her pad. “Could you sign at the bottom of the screen, please? To confirm you are not filing a complaint.”

Paula reached out and pressed her thumb to the screen.  When the medics arrived, Officer Guzman stayed so she could complete her report. It only took a moment for them to do a scan and pronounce Paula fit. She thumb-printed her release on their pad.

“Have a good evening.” Guzman tucked her pad into her pocket.

“Wait,” Rob said. “Can you recommend a good place to eat? Some place you would go to have dinner?”

Guzman stopped. “Are you looking for fancy or for good local food?”

“We can get fancy food on the ship. Local food,” Rob said.

“Go to the Eastenders on this Level. Best Irish stew on the station.”

They thanked her and wound their way through the market to the maglev. It took them to the other end of the market. The Eastender’s was in full swing but they found seats at the bar. The stew and fresh bread was delivered promptly and they ate with gusto. “We should have an anniversary drink,” Paula said.

“Good idea,” Rob said. “Jake,” he called to the bartender. “Do you have a signature drink for the Eastenders?”

Jake, a long time bartender on the station, scratched his head. “No. None on Gulliver Station, as far as I know.”

“Good.” Rob rubbed his hands together. “Is there a particular favorite drink?”

Jake grinned. “That would be whisky. It’s made right here.”

The two men put their heads together. In a few minutes, the three of them had a squat glass filled with ice cubes and a light chocolate colored drink. “Cheers,” Rob toasted. They each tasted.

“What’s in it?” Paula asked.

“One and a half shots of whisky, half a shot of chocolate liquor, half a shot of Irish cream whisky, and a shot of coffee. We’ve decided to call it The Gulliver.”

“It tastes like dessert!” She sipped again. “Thank you, Jake.” She raised her glass. “To Gulliver Station.”

“To Gulliver Station,” they toasted.

The End

1000 Words

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

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Spring is Coming: Flash Fiction Friday Post

Lake Thaw, Sacandaga Lake, Fulton County, NY by Randy Cockrell

Free from my nurse and my Lord mother’s demand to learn needle work, I hurried to my room and changed into riding gear. In the stables, I saddled Dawn, my uhlans, as the stable master eyed me.

“And where are you going?”

“Hunting.”

His eyebrow rose. “Spring is coming. Who are you going with?”

“No one. I want to get out of the castle and breathe the cold air.”

He watched as I fastened my bow to the saddle and my spear. “A lot of gear for a ride.”

I wagged my eyebrows back at him. “You never know what you’ll run into.”

“Hmm,” was his response. “I’ll send Ben with you.”

Ben was his son. He was a good companion. “Sure. Where is he?”

The stable master whistled and Ben hurried through the stable door. “Papa?”

“Saddle up and go with Lady Zung.”

Ben gave me a quick wink as he hurried to saddle his mount. I noticed he packed weapons as well. The same age, fourteen, we learned to hunt together and I was glad to have him along.

We rode out. His father called out behind us. “Be careful. The ice is melting.”

I waved and kicked Dawn into a cantor as we reached the gate.

Two hours later we were at the lake. I knew that the wisent herded on the other side. I guided Dawn down the bank.

“Don’t, Yunki. We don’t know if the ice will hold.”

I sniffed. “It’s too early for the lake to melt.” I kept moving down the bank.

“Lady Zung!” His tone was sharp and he only called me Lady Zung when the adults were around or I was being particularly dense.

I sighed and turned in the saddle. “The melt has only just started, Ben. The ice is going to be four feet thick.”

“Do you know where they cut last?”

I had to stop and think. Where was the last place the men had cut ice? I shrugged. “Don’t know. It’ll be obvious.”

Ben shook his head. “Better not. I know you’re after a wisent. But let’s just hunt for a gulate instead. There are bound to be beds around here. Look,” he pointed at the lake edge. “You can see a thin line of water.”

He was right but I really wanted a wisent before their thick winter pelt started to shed. “Then you hunt for gulate. Summer will last three years. I’m going for a wisent.” I kicked Dawn in the ribs and dashed down the bank and onto the lake. I ignored the faint cracking of ice as I guided her straight across. I could hear Ben behind me and I grinned.

Dawn’s large feet were secure on the ice but I didn’t push her. No sense risking a slip and having her break a leg. I eyed the lake in front of us. It looked completely safe. As we neared the center, Ben four lengths behind me, I heard the ice crack. A loud snap that made Dawn’s head toss.

“Stop, Yunki!”

I tried to get Dawn to back up but more cracking made her dance. Then we were both in the water, the uhlans thrashing all six legs and shoving me into the sharp ice as she tried to climb out.

“Hold on!” Ben was off of his mount and pulling rope from his pack.

“Get Dawn first.”

“Don’t be stupid! She’s made for the cold.”

“So am I.” I argued with him but he was right. Even as cold-adapted as we were, the icy water was having an effect.

He tossed a loop to me and despite Dawn’s struggles, she had her two front legs up on thick ice now, I could grab the rope and pull it over my head and arms. “Ready,” I called.

Ben finished fastening the other end to his saddle and began to back up his uhlans. “Hang on.”

I kicked hard, trying to generate some lift but my fur boots and leggings were already soggy. The edge jabbed into my chest. I could feel the force break a rib and I cried out in pain.

“What?” Ben called.

“Nothing. Keep pulling.” I gasped and did my best to slide up the edge with a wave Dawn caused as she got a third leg up onto the ice.

Dripping, I slid up just as Dawn crawled out of the water. The air caused icicles to form as the water dripped from her. She shook, sending a spray of water over me and Ben as he hurried to me.

“Let’s get you back to shore.” He helped me to my feet. As I grabbed my rib cage he brought Dawn over. “I should build a fire.”

“I’m fine. Let’s just head home.”

“In wet furs?” He looked at me as though the top of my head had just fallen off.

I started to shiver. The water had gotten to my skin. Ice was forming on my coat. My boots were already solid ice. “It’s only two hours.”

“You’ll be dead and then your Lord father will kill me. Don’t be stupid.”

In the end, I gave in and probably as well. Ben left me at a huge fire, Dawn standing as close to it as she could, and rode home for dry clothes. My oldest brother came back with him. He laughed as he dismounted. “So, little sister. Spring is coming.”

I just rolled my eyes.

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

909 Words

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

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Mars Wings Part 6 and Final: Flash Fiction Friday Post

A view from the “Kimberly” formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity Rover

Part 6 of 6

You can find Part 1 here:

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/images/index.html

 

I woke up a few minutes later, all kinds of people were milling around the room. Mom had a medtech kneeling next to her.

“Welcome back.”

I turned to my right, a medtech was kneeling next to me. “We gassed the room. You’re fine, you’re mom’s fine.”

“Amber?”

“They’ve been taken into custody.”

That’s when Dad knelt on my left. “Hey, pumpkin? How you doing?”

I coughed. “Okay. What’s going to happen to Amber and Tayln?”

“They were with the group that bombed the Security office. There will be an investigation. We’ll have to wait and see.”

I sat up. Dad held his hand on my back to steady me. “It’s so sad.”

“Yes it is, Pumpkin. Yes it is.”

The investigation didn’t take long. I guess Amber and Tayln told the authorities everything. They were charged with terrorism and sentenced to labor in the mines.

We were in the concourse when the verdict and sentencing were read. All of us clustered around a bench, watching the monitors. Kayla and I had our arms wrapped around each other and cried when the camera focused on Amber and Tayln. Both of them wept as the security officers took them away.

“How awful,” Elise said as we sat, stunned on the bench.

“How awful for Dary,” Albert snarled. “He died in the bombing.”

I nodded. “And Angus is still in the hospital.”

Tommie and Hope were besties and had their arms around each other as Kayla and I were. Both of them had tears running down their faces. “I don’t understand,” Hope said, sniffling. “What good did the bombing do?”

“It got attention, I guess.” The vids for the last few days had been full of the names of the separatist group. All of them arrested. “Maybe they thought no one was listening to them.”

“Maybe they were self-centered jerks,” Albert snapped. “Killing and maiming over a hundred people. That’s not how you get attention—get things done.”

I wiped my eyes and stood up. “True. We need to do better about keeping people informed.”

“Informed?” Kayla looked up at me. “How?”

“Well, Amber was angry that we’re eating soy meat. She really believed we eat that because we ship all of the food we grow to Earth.”

“That’s a load of crap.” Albert pointed at me. “People on Earth have rationing too.”

“I know. So maybe if we all knew how much of what we produce gets shipped to Earth, and why, it may make people more understanding.” I put my hand on Albert’s arm. He was trembling with anger.

“Maybe.” He shook my hand off of his arm. “But I’m going to be listening. Anyone who starts talking like a separatist is going to get my fist in their face.” He stalked off.

I just felt tired. “See you all later.” I waved and headed home. I was only twelve. I’d think about it all another day.

 

Thank You!

487 Words

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Mars Wings Part 3: Flash Fiction Friday Post

pia21206

You can find Part 1 here: http://wp.me/p6LAko-Om

Part 3 of 5

Photo by https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/images/index.html

We changed the subject. None of us had the answers. It bothered me that people wanted to separate from Earth. I mean, that’s where we’re from, right? I was alone reading my homework assignment on a public terminal, when my comm chimed. It was the Korian’s. I glanced at the time. They’d taken three hours. Good for them. “Hi, David.”

“Hi, Helga. We’re ready for some questions.”

“I’ll be right there.” I closed my book and hustled off. The door opened as soon as I pushed the announcer button. Ali was in the doorway. She must have been standing right there.

“Come in.” She grinned and waved me in.

“Yes, Helga. Tea?” Idai was in the kitchen.

“Thank you.” They’d found the cupboards and their starter supply of groceries.

We sat around the kitchen table and the questions started. David wanted to know about the lab schedules, Idai was concerned with water rations and the cost of air. Zane wanted to know about sports groups. Seems he was into basketball. Ali’s only question was, “Does Mars celebrate Christmas?”

“Of course. You’ll see on the Main Concourse. It’s decorated, you can buy gifts at the stores. There’s an increase in the sugar rations for the holiday so stock up now.” I could see everyone visibly relax.

Then David asked. “Is it safe? The video talked about a separatist group.” Idai stopped smiling.

I shrugged. “There’s some discussion. Why?”

“No attacks on new arrivals? On government offices?” David stared hard at me.

“Nothing. It’s safe. You can go anywhere that’s not restricted. No one will bother you.”

I watched Idai take David’s hand. “It’s just,” she paused, “a little unnerving to get here and find out there are people who don’t like Earth. Maybe they don’t like new colonists.”

“No way. We’re growing. We like to have new people come.” I finished my tea and stood up. They didn’t look totally convinced. “Shall I walk you to the Main concourse?”

Ali leapt from her seat. “Yes. Can we, Mom? Dad? I want to see it.”

Idai and David exchanged glances. “Yes.” David stood. Idai and Zane did too. “Let’s look at our new home.”

I made them open and close the few closed doors. Most stood open all the time except during drills or emergencies. I had to spend a whole day last year in the garden when the pressure dropped in my tunnel. All the doors slammed shut while I was working the compost pile. I was the only one in there. I’ll admit I was afraid with only the periodic announcements to keep me company. The garden was in the best shape ever by the time the doors were opened.

Ali was delighted. She danced up and down pointing out the different shops and the holiday decorations.

I pointed out the public terminals. “I was doing my homework here while I waited for you.”

Zane looked interested in that. “You can log in from anywhere?”

I nodded. He nodded back. I finally impressed him.

We walked the length of the concourse and back again. “You ready to be on your own?”

David nodded. “I think so. Appreciate the tour. We’ll stay a little while. Idai wants to do some shopping.”

“Sure. Keep your rations in mind as you buy. Use your comms to keep check.”

Idai smiled. “The same as Earth, really. Rations there too.”

“Have fun.” I waved and left. Mom would be making supper and I was hungry.

At dinner dad asked how my sponsoring went.

“Good. They were a little prickly at first but they seemed good when I left them in the Main Concourse.”

“Scared, Helga. They had all the training and briefings but still, they’re on a different planet, in a hole in the ground.” Mom passed me the potato mash.

“Sure. I was nice. They have a daughter my age, Ari.” I took my share of the potatoes, Mom had made gravy to go with it, my favorite.

“What’s the father do?” Dad took the potatoes from me while mom passed the green beans.

“Biologist. The mom, Idai didn’t say what she does.”

“We’re expecting a couple more computer techs in this wave. Maybe I’ll meet her.” Mom said.

We were nearly done with dinner when the separatist conversation came to my mind. “Do you know anything about the separatist movement, Dad?”

He stopped mopping his plate with his roll and looked at me. “Why?”

I shrugged. “I heard some of the kids talking about it. That Earth is taking stuff from us. It was in the video’s the Korian’s watched and David asked if there was any danger.” I ate the last of my soy-beef while dad composed his answer. As a security officer, he’d know the truth.

He took a deep breath. “There is a sentiment running through the colony that Mars should be more autonomous.”

“What’s autonomous?”

“Independent, dear,” mom answered.

Dad nodded. “Right. There’s no organized group, per se. But there are members of the council who have broached the topic. They believe we’re strong enough to govern our own affairs.”

It sounded dull to me. “Oh. So Earth government doesn’t take our research and inventions from us for nothing?”

Dad scowled. “They pay for a lot, it’s only fair they get a return on their investments.”

Finance. That sounded more boring that government. “Sounds fair, I guess.” I picked up my plate and headed for the dishwasher. “I’ve got homework to finish. Great dinner, Mom.”

“Thank you, Helga.” She stood up and grabbed empty bowls. “I’m glad you liked it.”

Dad laughed. “You made potato mash and gravy. She thinks it’s great every time.”

“I do!”

Later in my room I finished my homework and started a game. As I shot alien ships from the screen I thought about what Amber and Tayln said in the concourse. They seemed pretty upset about Earth. I wondered if maybe Dad was holding back information. Maybe I’d ask around in the morning.

 

 

Thank You!

1000 Words

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

 

 

 

 

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Mars Wings 2: Flash Fiction Friday Post

mars-sunset-msl-curiosity-martian-sky-pia194001

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7189 Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M Univ.

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover recorded this view of the sun setting at the close of the mission’s 956th Martian day, or sol (April 15, 2015), from the rover’s location in Gale Crater.

Here’s the thing. I couldn’t stop thinking about this story last week. http://wp.me/p6LAko-Om.  I knew it was just a partial story and it kept nagging at me. So here we are. I’m going to make this a short serial and give you both a Christmas and a New Year’s story out of it. I’m totally pantsing this thing so you get it rough and only lightly edited. Hope you enjoy.

Part 2 of 5

It would take at least two hours for them to get settled and view the first video. Longer if they decided to be thorough and view all the associated vids. I decided to hustle over to the main tunnel. It was the original tunnel, that the first landers found and developed into the first habitat. Now it’s the Main Street, as they say on Earth. A large concourse, the old berths now shops. It’s beautiful, all the walls covered in spider plants and such that take CO2 and turn it into oxy. Planters with flowers in the walkway the ceiling had a light net that made it seem like stars twinkling. My favorite part of the habitat.

My crew was in front of Benji’s, the ice cream shop. As old as the habitat, one of the original landers, Benji, retired and decided to grow soy beans. He figured out how to make it into ice cream. No dairy needed. He always said that’s what he missed most. Now his son, Dayrn, runs the place, or did. He’s gotten old, too, and people get old slowly on Mars. Grandson, Isha, is the new manager, learning from his dad. I like that. Mars business belongs to Mars.

I skidded into the group, knocking Kayla to the side. She punched me in the arm. “Earther!”

“Waiter.” I punched her back. We both laughed.

“How’d it go?” Tayln lounged against a planter of Christmas cactus. It was far from blooming.

I sank, cross-legged to the tile floor. “As you’d expect. Lots of questions. A little resentment.” I rolled my eyes. It was the same every ship. They thought they knew it all. Coming to rescue the hicks. “I liked the girl. My age. Gads, she’s so small!”

Everyone laughed. I was the last in the group to get sponsor duty. They’d all been through it.

“Who do you think will buy it?” Dary asked, all hyped. He made me nervous, to be honest. There was something wrong with him.

“No one, I hope. If I’m a good enough sponsor.”

Dary giggled. A sound all wrong in more than one way.

“Maybe so. But I’ll do my best.”

“I don’t know why they keep allowing them to come.” Tayln shook his head. “We don’t need them. They keep us back. All this talk about Earth. We’re Mars. We don’t need them.”

“Too much listening to Sirius, Tayln.” Amber stretched her whole body. It was like watching liquid in motion.

“What do you mean?” I wanted to know.

Amber was a year younger than Tayln but, I thought, twice as smart. She was working in the astro-physics lab when she wasn’t with us. Tayln was in the Engineering section, and it was just clean-up, to be honest. Work that had to be done but still, not as smart as Amber.

She drew a breath. “I agree, Tayln, that we shouldn’t be tied so much to Earth. I mean, really. They’re marking winter’s onset and we’re coming into spring. It’s ludicrous. And all these Earth holidays. Bastille Day, what’s that mean to us. We should have a Lander’s Day.”

“We do have Lander’s Day.” I didn’t understand. What was wrong with Bastille Day?

Amber smiled at me. “True, little one.” She looked around the group. “But what holiday is coming?”

“Christmas.” I and all the rest shouted.

“I love Christmas.” I had to admit. The wall tree, the presents, the extra colored lights. It made everything happier.

“And what does Christmas mean to us?” Amber looked around the circle.

“An extra sugar ration!” Angus Holloran called out. We all laughed.

“Yes,” Amber grinned. “Extra sugar ration. Candy, chocolate, it’s all a party, isn’t it?” She grew serious. “But what does it mean?”

We all shook our heads.

“It’s a religious holiday.” She looked around the group as people walked by us, toddlers in tow, shopping bags filled with the week’s groceries. “It’s a yoke, to tie us to Earth.”

I had to take a minute to process that. What was she saying? “What religion?” I finally asked.

Tayln snorted. “The one that keeps us tied to Earth.”

“And why is that bad?” I wanted to know. All of our time was dual, Mars and Earth time. Mars rotated at a different rate, of course our days differed but still, we all knew what time it was in Greenwich. Our most important shifts of scientists and government worked to Greenwich time.

Amber looked at me with a sad smile. I felt like an idiot and began to blush. “Sweet child. It’s a trick to keep us tied.” She looked to Tayln, who nodded. “We’re nothing but a cash cow to Earth. We discover new materials, new insight into the cosmos, new medicines and they take it all. As though they’re our masters!”

I didn’t like the word masters. It made me feel small and ignorant. I’m not small or ignorant. “Why?”

Amber stood. I knew the audience was over. “To keep us down, Sweet one. To keep us down.”

She swept away, Tayln trailing. The rest of us huddled together. “What’s she mean by that?” I asked.

Elise, Tommie, Hope, Dary, Kayla and Albert shook their heads. They were older than me but younger than Amber and Tayln. “I think they’re radicals.” Tommie finally said. “My pop said there’s a group in the habitat that are trying to get us to break away from Earth.

“Break away? That’s stupid. Where would we go?” I was annoyed. We were in orbit around the same sun. How could we break away?

“The governments,” Elise said. “We don’t answer to the Earth government. We don’t take their colonists unless we say so. We don’t send all of our work to them for nothing.”

“Are you a radical?” I asked. I mean what else were we supposed to do? “We owe Earth. That’s in all the histories.

Elise shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. Do you?”

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

994 Words

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

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Mars Wings: Friday Flash Fiction Post

mars-mro-orbiter-fresh-crater-sirenum-fossae-br2

http://mars.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7731  Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

I’ve been watching the Smithsonian channel show, Mars. A mix of television show and documentary. It’s really getting me as excited about the space program again as I was when I was a kid, racing home from school to watch space launches. The following story is just a brief foray into space once again. And yes, there are echoes of Heinlein in there.

 

I waited at the gate. The first families with children were arriving from Earth. Would they look different somehow? In class, we’d been told about how different it would be for them. They wouldn’t be able to go outside without a suit. They wouldn’t automatically know all the safety rules. They may become claustrophobic living inside the tunnels. They’d be stronger, having grown up in a heavier gravity.

All in all, I wondered if their parents had a clue. What were they thinking?

The alarm sounded, the light over the door began to flash, and the pressure lock opened. They came down the ramp in family groups their duffels banging against their legs. Parents and children looked around, wide-eyed. Their faces showed fear, then after they realized they could breathe, curiosity, at the tunnel, plants lining the walls, the crowd waiting for them.

I waited as each family’s sponsor was called as they hit the bottom of the ramp. My name was called when the eighth family appeared. I moved through the crowd of Martians and stopped at the registration table. The guy at the table was taking their names. The Korian family, Dad, David, Mom, Idai, Daughter, Ali, Son, Zane, I overheard. The registrar looked up. “Hey, Helga. The Korian family is going to berth 23, tunnel 4.” He handed David a set of key cards. “Your keys. One for each of you. Lose a card, it will be fifty credits to buy a new one.” David nodded while Idai, Ali and Zane stared at me. “Helga will guide you to your new quarters. She’s your sponsor. You need to ask questions, call her. She’ll give you her comm.”

“Thank you.” David told the registrar. He turned to me. “Lead on, Miss.”

“Later, Pavel.” I waved to the registrar. He was a neighbor in my family’s tunnel.

He gave me a wave and looked at the next family.

“This way.” I turned and left, moving through the thinning crowd. The Korian’s followed. David moved up beside me. “How old are you?”

I knew that was coming. We’d been briefed on the culture. “I’m twelve. I’m tall for my age compared to Earth normal. The lower gravity allows us to grow taller.”

Idai nodded. “I’d read that. You’re the same age as Ali.”

I took a quick look at Ali. She had to be a head shorter than me. “Nice to meet you.”

“Um, not to be rude, but you’re our sponsor? Not your parents?” David asked, a look of disbelief on his face.

“Yep. I’m your sponsor. I know everything you need to know. I was born here. It’s all automatic for me. My parents have their own people to sponsor.”

“I see.”

His tone of voice said he didn’t.

“You’ll find that kids here have a lot of responsibility. There aren’t a lot of us. So, everyone, even kids, have duties to perform. This is one of mine. I’m also the garden supervisor in my tunnel.”

“Garden supervisor?” Ali looked curious.

“Yes. I’m responsible for collecting any compostables from each berth, getting it to the garden compost pile, and setting up the work schedules.”

Zane spoke. “Will we get jobs?”

“Eventually. Not when you’re newbs. You don’t know enough yet.”

David was having a bit of trouble with the plan. “I don’t mean to criticize but you’re only twelve. I’m a research biologist. Why would I take orders from a twelve-year-old?”

I sighed as I guided them left into tunnel two. “Because I know how things work here and you don’t. I don’t mean to be rude but you just got off the boat. You don’t know the emergency procedures. You don’t know where anything is. You need to become acclimated.”

“We took all the classes,” Ali said.

“That’s good. You’ll need that information.” I turned to look at her. “First thing you do when you get to your berth is watch the newcomer vid. That’s critical. It will tell you your assembly point in case of a problem. It will give you your passwords and set up your accounts. You can’t do anything or go anywhere until that is done because none of the pressure doors will open for you.”

“I know that,” Zane said. His voice reflected his father’s. Probably thought a fifteen-year-old boy shouldn’t have to listen to a twelve-year-old girl.

“Good.” We turned right into tunnel 3. “School is on your own vid. There’s a vid in every room so there won’t be any problems getting your classwork.” I looked at the parents. “Or your work assignments. David. I know you’ll be working in the labs. You can download the maps to the warren and the locations of where you want to go, from there.”

I turned right again into tunnel 4. “This tunnel is new, made to accommodate the new colonists from your ship. I stopped halfway down the tunnel in front of the door with a big, red, 23 stenciled on it. “Your new home.

David stepped forward and pressed the card to the lock. The door opened.

“It’s a pressure lock.” Idai studied the door with some surprise.

“Nearly every door is.” I motioned them to go in. “My comm code is on your introductory vid. Comm units for each of you are on the kitchen table. I’ll let you get settled.” I backed away from the door.

Idai raised her hand. “Wait! What about…?”

“Watch the vid then call me. I’ll come back and you can ask your questions.” I left. They had to learn how to think for themselves. Odds were one of the four of them would make a fatal mistake in the first seven days. I hoped it wasn’t Ari. She seemed nice.

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

956 Words

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

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