science fiction

Millie’s Brush with Reality

Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 684
Rating: All
Summary: Millie isn’t all that smart. That doesn’t stop her from seeing what she isn’t supposed to see.

It was a Tuesday, Millie remembered that much.

Categories: AugNaWriMo, fiction, science fiction, very short stories | Leave a comment

Burgess Gulch (6)

Genre:Sci-fi/Western
Word Count:5,350
Rating:10+
Summary: Things around Burgess Gulch continue to get more and more perplexing.
Author’s Note: This began as my 2006 Nanowrimo Novel.

Previous Parts (1) (2) (3) (4) (5).

6

“Come on Sheriff- it’s the Armageddon for sure!” Little Jack Miller shouted into Cody’s office door. His round face, flushed with panic, popped inside for a moment, “Well, are you coming?” he asked and he popped back outside just as quickly.

Cody looked over at Prentice and scowled. “Don’t that boy have a lick of sense?” But, he got up and headed out the door anyways because round there, you just never did know.

As Cody stepped outside into the relative cool of the street- it had been uncomfortably hot for days, but a storm seemed to be coming in- as Cody left the stifling heat of his office, his ears were battered by a low thrumming hum pulsing up and down from loud to louder and back again. Cody paused there in the doorway- the sound like a wall he was pushing against. Jitters came to the door behind him- sort of bumbled into Cody’s back, which served to pop Cody through the sound-wall and into the dusty street.

In the street he could see more than a few of the fine citizens of Burgess Gulch running in a right proper panic. Little Jack Miller was trying to get his father’s mule- which was loaded down with far too large a pack for the scrawny little thing- to heed and come on with him. Mrs. Carmichael and her brood were rushing round gathering up what looked like several bushels of potatoes that were rolling across the ground and hopping in time with the thrumming- near everything was hoping in time with the thrumming, come to think on it. Thompson Smith, the blacksmith, was chasing a spooked and half unshod mare that had got away from him.

And, there weren’t no way that that there horse was giving way for sweet Lisel Carmichael, who was all of three, and chasing after one of them wayward tubers. Cody snapped into action on seeing the little girl in the path of the runaway mare, breaking into a run, hoping to get there before the hooves came down on that pretty but unaware head of golden curls. Weaving in and out between the rubbish that was jumping around in his path, Cody reached out and scooped the girl up as he stumbled on something or other that he couldn’t quite avoid. He did his best to roll himself over the girl as they hit the dirt hopeful that the hooves would somehow miss his most tender and vulnerable parts and miss the girl entirely as the horse trampled him.

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Burgess Gulch (5)

Genre:Sci-fi/Western
Word Count:2,115
Rating:10+
Summary: Cody investigates the Mayoress’ disappearance and things get a might tricky.
Author’s Note: This began as my 2006 Nanowrimo Novel.

Previous Parts (1) (2) (3) (4).

5

Cody went round to see Mandy the next morning, hoping for some different answers to the same questions, which was of no use, Cody knew, but it didn’t stop him trying. Doc Smith had sent her home, so Cody had to saddle up the horse he never called Clara and ride out to the big house she had outside of town.

The house had used to belong to Cody’s granddaddy, who, not coincidentally, had been Mandy’s father. It had been a bone of some contention betwixt her and Cody’s daddy before the old man had passed, him being the son, he figured on getting that house, but Mandy was the old man’s pride and joy. After that, Cody’s father hadn’t ever spoken to his little sister, ’til the day he died. Wasn’t but a few days after his daddy’s passing that Mandy came round to Cody banking on a new start, which Cody gladly agreed to. Four years on, they had a grudging friendliness and a certain respect- kin was kin after all, so Cody was glad to be on friendly terms with all that was left of his.

His knocking at the great door was answered promptly by Mandy’s girl Carlotta. As she gave him a nod and led him into the parlor, where his Auntie was sitting up next to the fire, a carpet over her legs, Cody was struck with wondering why it was that Carlotta hadn’t come to him about Mandy going missing. She should have noted it far sooner than Cody, what with living in the same house with her boss-lady.

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Burgess Gulch (4)

Genre:Sci-fi/Western
Word Count:2,001
Rating:10+
Summary: A resident of Burgess Gulch goes missing and Cody is about the onliest person to notice, until it happens again.
Author’s Note: This began as my 2006 Nanowrimo Novel.

Previous Parts (1) (2) (3).

4

Whitey McGee wasn’t a body one normally missed. Now that you come to it, his was a body one was usually pleased to miss, what with the smell. That said, a few days after Cody’d seen the strange woman riding up to the high pasture, he came to notice that he hadn’t had to step past Whitey- who could be reliably found at the mouth of the alley between Miss Nannette Corbet’s and the saloon, reclining with his back against the broken hitching post there- Cody hadn’t had to step past him in more than a day, maybe two. Cody stopped in on Jeb, the undertaker, to make certain that he hadn’t planted him in the potter’s field (he hadn’t) before putting Prentice on the case. Jitters was alternately pleased to have Cody showing trust in him and disappointed at the person he was meant to find. Seemed that looking under haystacks for the town drunk wasn’t the kind of work he’d been hoping for.

Two days later, Whitey came stumbling back into town with a wild-eyed story about beams of bright light and green skinned strangers poking at him while he screamed and thrashed about. Jitters was bit twice by Whitey’s reappearance, firstly because it meant that he would again have to endure the stench of Whitey on a long hot August afternoon when the wind blew easterly, wafting it gently into the door of the Sheriff’s Office, and secondly, it meant that Jitters had failed to solve the first case Cody had given him on account of not being able to find a drunkard on a three day bender. Thing was, Cody had watched Prentice going about looking for Whitey and he hadn’t done a half-bad job of it. The fact that Jitters didn’t come up with Whitey didn’t go against the truth of it that he’d done just the same as Cody would have- looked under the same rocks and behind the same outhouses. By what he did, Prentice should have found Whitey, only he just didn’t.

Less than a day later, it was the Mayoress that Cody came to notice he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of in a day or so, which was just unheard of, so he decided to take on the mystery of the disappearances himself, her being kin and all.

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Underground Society (3)

Genre: Sci-fi
Word Count:1,774
Rating:10+
Summary: Maya learns that injustice isn’t confined to the surface dwellers.

Previous Parts (1) (2)

Part 3

Along with the diplomatic work of finalizing dozens of treaties, preparations for the wedding continued over the next weeks. The fact that Maya had long had serious doubts about the idea of marriage meant that she had never really delved into what planning a wedding entailed- especially one of this great size. (Even as a child, she was not the type to fantasize about her perfect wedding day the way some other little girls did. In fact, she found the way some of those girls went on about pink and purple, doves and rainbows pretty annoying.) And, certainly Selen did much work in arraigning the wedding, but he was more in demand for the political meetings than Maya was- everyone wanted to meet the Lizard King. So, overseeing the wedding plans- making certain that her mother and grandmother, along with the many underlings of Selen’s who were assigned to help, didn’t go too far over the top was Maya’s job. Strangely, it was not without benefits. . .

Until the beginning of the second week in December, the only person from the Interior Tribes that Maya had met was Selen. She had, of course, see pictures, both photographic and artwork (she was trying to learn as much about the Interior cultures as she could as quickly as she could- hence artwork), but images, even video footage didn’t really tell the way that being in the same room with ten or twelve really tall people with greenish-brown skin did. After the first day of listening to them tell her about the myriad wedding traditions that the differing Interior Tribes had in their sibilant accented English, she went home to her grandparents house with nary a clue as to which traditions were required and which could be left out.

By the third day, she was ready to call the whole thing off- see if Selen would run away to Vegas with her (or the Interior equivalent, which seemed to be hiding together in an out of the way cave for three days, which seemed to be the longest the Interiors seemed to think that any couple could resist consummating a relationship if they were left alone- hence three days later, you were married or you were breaking some sort of chastity taboo). Selen was touring in Russia and the Baltics, signing preliminary treaties that would go into effect when he signed the one that was, officially speaking, with the United Nations on Christmas Day. His absence was likely part of Maya’s frustration because he was the only Interior to whom she could pose questions without worrying that she might phrase her inquiry too bluntly and offend. Even those who were assigned to work closely with her seemed to hold themselves very formally with her and Maya suspected that they were not all completely convinced that the wedding should happen.

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Time in Jelly Jars (3)

Genre: Sci-fi
Word Count:1,750
Rating:10+
Summary:Lindy continues the strange tale she began in parts 1 and 2.

Previous Parts: (1) (2).

Lindy’s Tale Continues

“One afternoon, as Henry and I were hiding (in the small rough space under the wooden front porch of my father’s house) from Heather, pretending that we were fierce and bloodthirsty pirates and she was a privateer captain working under the command of the East India Trading Company, who was looking for us to reclaim the treasure we had plundered (some gingerbread we had taken from the kitchen), we heard a certain rough voice in the street. ‘The old woman in the market said she saw a strange African man in the lane behind this street less than a fortnight ago. He could still be close.’ I shushed Henry and strained to hear more, but aside from telling someone to search back behind the houses, the rough voice did not tell me anything more.

“‘That is Clement Monprix, the slave hunter come from the Carolinas,’ Henry whispered to me. ‘Father called him a worse savage than any of those he hunts.’ A wicked glint came into his eyes and he added, ‘We should see what they are doing.’ Then he was out from under the porch before I could reply, the gingerbread pirate game forgotten completely. Crawling out from under, I just saw Henry’s back running past the hedges and into his back garden. I followed as swiftly as I could. I found Henry leaning against the side wall of the stable, listening for the men in the lane behind the gardens. He put a finger to his lips to tell me to keep quiet and I saw that he thought that this was just another game to play (like gingerbread pirates and the East India Trading Company and Knights of the Round Table). I found myself wishing that I would told Henry about Jonah hidden in the cellar so that he would know that this was a matter of true worry for me. Perhaps he might be able to help me lure the slave hunters away from where Jonah was hidden, if he knew. But, now if I tell him I have runaway slave hid away in the cellar, he will take it for a part of a game.

“We hear the men coming closer in the lane, beating on the hedgerows and poking at the fences to look for gaps and hidey holes. I remembered the little nest of hay in the stable where Jonah had been harboring from the cold before I brought him into the cellar. We had left the stump of his candle and some scraps of fabric there. What if the men found it? They would know that he had been here for certain. They would look much closer around here in case he was still near. I had to keep them from searching in the Wrights’ stable.

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Broken

Genre: Sci-fi
Word Count: 257
Rating: 10+
Summary: Another way out? There is no other way out.
Author’s Note: In honor of the serial I was intending to post today being overly coy, I’m posting this little slice of a story that I will likely never develop into anything else. There will be two serials next week.

Broken

Broken- it is broken- and Meriafta doesn’t think there will be time to fix it, let alone set the dials, align the templates.

“Is it optimized?” Brilltan asks in a huffing breath thrown over her shoulder between volleys. The sounds of the battle sluice through the air from beyond her.

“No. It’s shot,” Meriafta hollers back at her, “We need another way out.”

Next to Meriafta, her junior- Kellin- is panicking. “Another way out? There is no other way out!” she screams and tries to pull the unit from Meriafta’s hands. It falls from both their grasps and hits the stone floor with a sickening crack. Pieces of the housing skitter across the room and the power source hisses and fizzles out. “Oh! Dibrit save us!” Kellin wails and stoops to pick up the pieces.

Meriafta leaves her to it, knowing that there is no hope of ever making it work again now. “Brilltan! We need that other way,” she yells, pulling her weapon and coming up close to their rear defender. “Brill!” Meriafta barks at her.

Brilltan ducks down behind the wall she has been using for cover and looks over at Meriafta, her face a hard smirk. “Ria, I’m on it. Their numbers are great, but I’m on it.” Brilltan reloads, steadies herself and spins back around the corner firing away.

Meriafta watches as enemies go down in rapid succession. She hefts her weapon and follows in Brill’s wake, taking out a few of them, but her contribution is nothing compared to the rear defender’s.

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Burgess Gulch (3)

Genre:Sci-fi/Western
Word Count:2,166
Rating:10+
Summary: Cody Burgess, continues to investigate the disappearance of the missing cattle, but seems to find more questions than answers.
Author’s Note: This began as my 2006 Nanowrimo Novel.

Previous Parts (1) (2).

3

On the slim chance that Prentice might just be right and Princess Cloudfeather had been pulling their legs, Cody figured on stopping in at Prowess Copse and shaking Deadeye Brody until Cody was good and sure he and his weren’t a party to the missing cattle. The numbers the irate ranchers had given were likely bloated up a bit- they always did get to blowing hard at each other when they got together, bragging about headcounts, but even figuring that in, it were too many for Cody to leave it be.

Deadeye Brody, much as you might expect, couldn’t shoot worth a darn, which had been a complication when it came to his former trade- that of being Cody’s deputy. His situation hadn’t been helped by his general laziness and greed. Cody himself wasn’t one to quarrel with a man who enjoyed life at slow pace, having made pursuing the snail’s particular brand of existence one of his own ambitions, but he just couldn’t brook a lawman with no regard for law, or at the very least fair-mindedness. So, when it came down to choosing, Dillon Brody chose cheating and Cody choose to cut him loose. Cody was expecting to have to put Brody down when next they crossed each other. Be an interesting time of it with Jitters along, if he had to do it today.

Prowess Copse wasn’t much of one- just a few scraggly bunches of scrub brush out near the edge of town with some falling down buildings that once were a homestead and some craggy caves that marked the entrance of the goldmine. Whatever Blackhats were lingering round Burgess Gulch could be found there.

Cody rode up to the copse with Prentice lagging behind and complaining loudly about his horse’s gait.

While they were still a few hundred feet off from the buildings, Deadeye’s voice called out, “‘Less you got a writ, I’d just turn your ass back round, Sheriff.”

“Now, Dilly, you know I can’t get this nag to heed if she ain’t got a mind to,” Cody drawled back lazily. It didn’t put a body in a better position to rile Deadeye. It was true that he couldn’t shoot to save his life, but his little hired gun Gater was a crack shot, and he’d gladly take a poke at anyone Deadeye looked sideways at.

“No further, Sheriff, or my replacement gets it between the peepers,” Deadeye warned.

“Uh- Sheriff, what does he mean- his replacement?” Prentice muttered from behind Cody.

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Time in Jelly Jars (2)

Genre: Sci-fi
Word Count:2,067
Rating:10+
Summary:Lindy continues the strange tale she began in part 1.

Find part 1 here.

The Key (And Lindi’s Tale Begins)

A long time later (a good fifteen minutes of play-explore-bicker-with-their-cousins time) Rosalind started talking again (in that same strange, sure voice) and this time, they could not make her stop. Oddly, it did not worry them quite so much as it did the first time- children changed all the time- they just figured that she had maybe been holding in this story for a while and now she was ready to tell it. Also, it was kind of a good story, so they let her tell it, each of them still playing at sorting the crazy assortment of stuffs that were in the shed.

“Might be best if I started from the true beginning of the tale- who I am and where I am. My name if Katherine Dalton. Katie-girl to my mother, although she is gone now, gone to see Jesus and the Angels. She died before- when we still lived in the country house and my father still grew wheat. Now, we live in Elizabethtown in the newly reformed Royal English Colony of New Jersey and Father is a merchant. He owns great ships with his business partners and they bring all kind of good things from England to sell in the shop they run in town. I am his only daughter and nearing my seventh year.

“I do not like the town house (so close to the next nearest house that I can see into the Henry Wright’s bed chamber from my own, and so loud with the passing of people and horses on the street) nearly as much as I loved the country house (wide and quiet- smelling of honeysuckle in the spring and ripe golden wheat at the harvest, smelling of mother). Father used to come in from a long day in the fields working with the servants and kiss mother’s cheek, tousle my hair and call us his ‘darling girls’. Now Heather, an old Scotswoman has charge of me. She is indentured to my father, who bought her contract from a man who treated her ill. She is kind and speaks with a lilt soft and strange, but she is deaf in one ear from having had them boxed by her old master too many times and she is not in any way like my mother. She also has charge of the kitchen and the other serving maid, so she has little time to spend on games and sweetness with me the way mother always did.

“Father has said that next spring, he will get me a tutor so that I may learn the ways of society and be a proper little woman instead of always running out with young Henry Wright (who is a year younger than me, but already has a tutor because he is a boy) and getting all covered in filth in the gardens. But, I do not wish to be a proper little woman (sewing and dancing and playing the pianoforte). I wish I could stay as I am (playing and singing and frolicking about the house and the nearby streets) or return to the country house. Still, I do think it may please me to have someone other than Heather pay some mind to me. Father has stopped noticing me, even when I come to the dinner table unwashed and smelling of the horses I sometimes brush in Henry’s father’s stables.

“Maybe how I wish for Father to pay some mind to me is why I felt so pleased when Jonah came around. I first saw him as a quick as a wink flash rushing past the Wrights’ stable and into the brush that lines their back gardens. I was certain that his intention was not to be seen at all, but perhaps (like all the other adults, save Heather when she remembered) he did not see me, so small as I am. Perhaps he thought he had made his mad dash without being seen. Still, he did not seem to be doing harm to a soul or even Henry’s family’s property, so I did not alert Henry to what I had seen. I just turned back to the nervous mare I was next to and kept brushing her.

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Underground Society (2)

Genre: Sci-fi
Word Count:2,271
Rating:10+
Summary: Maya tries to figure out just what she’s gotten herself into.

Find the first part here.

Maya’s grandparents and parents, who were staying the whole weekend for the Thanksgiving holiday, had gone to church. Maya hadn’t gone for years- it wasn’t that she didn’t believe exactly, it was more that she couldn’t focus on worship when all she saw around her was the way humanity’s faults over-shadowed the purer messages of love and forgiveness. She decided that it was better to fix the whole man’s inhumanity to man issue first and then, once that was settled, she’d go to church- that way she would be able to concentrate on it. So Maya stayed home, despite her father’s scowling at her at breakfast. She had been treated to a great number of his scowls as the weekend wore on- he seemed to be getting more and more angry about the upcoming wedding. Maya was torn between being pleased that he wanted to defend her right to choose her own relationships and being really mad at him for not seeing the bigger picture- what she was going to get to be a part of in becoming the first Ambassador to the Interior Tribes. She had hopes that her dad would come to understand why she chose to go along with it all on his own. Stranger things had happened- look at her life.

“Maya, do you have a moment?” Selen spoke from behind her. It was a wet November morning and Maya had cozied herself in the corner of an overstuffed loveseat in her grandparent’s library. She raised her head from rereading Silent Spring for the fifteenth time (a classic was a classic because it stood the test of time).

“Selen. I thought you had left.” She closed her book. “Is something wrong?”

“No, everything is well. I was merely hoping to speak to you about a small matter.” He looked down at the book she was still holding. “It will keep, if I am interrupting.”

“Oh- no. This will keep.” Maya put the book aside and smiled up at him. “Sit down. Tell me what’s on your mind.” She made room for him next to her on the small sofa.

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