To Dream Teaser

To Dream is almost ready to go to the editor. Again. The damn thing just kept growing, as it always has, and it was decreed to large (at 163K+). So I had to cut it down (to 110K). Now I am going through it to make sure there are no dangling plot threads.

But this is one of my favorite scenes. Call me a tease. I’m fine with that.

“Did you break it?”

I looked up at the sound of HER voice. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t do anything.

“She did not. She has this need to take something apart in order to understand how it functions. Fortunately, she has not felt the need to do the same to me as of yet.” Mona came into the room while Cass leaned against the door frame.

“What is it? Or was it?”

She had this southern accent, soft, not overly twangy. Her words rolled off her tongue, across the room, and into my ears where my brain savored them like a well-aged liquor.

“It is a bio-bed. Karen, are you feeling ill again?” Mona got the scanner and it was its beep that pulled me out of my cask of Cass bourbon.

“No, I’m fine. I see you finally made it.”

She laughed. If her accent were expensive bourbon, her laughter was a rich dessert, chocolate something served with coffee the color of her skin. “I swear, that’s what everyone says to me. Not ‘hello’ or ‘hey how are you’ but ‘I see you finally made it’. I ought to leave and come back just to get a proper greeting!”

I put the two bio-bed gut pieces down and jumped to my feet. I carefully stepped over the parts I had strewn over the floor and made my way to her. Taking her hand, I raised it to my lips and kissed the back of it. “Cassandra, it is good to see you again. How was your overly long journey?”

Spring mornings and squirrels

A scene that came to me this morning. It is rough, there’s some grammar bits that need fixing.

Ellen is a character in Nikki’s not yet named Butch Girl book. Nikki is a character from BGCFA. Spam is her dog, a big Rottweiler.

***

Ellen stepped out into the chilly late-spring morning. She could see the steam from her coffee as she raised it to her lips. She leaned her hip against the porch railing and watched Mother Nature in Her natural element. She could see fog down toward the river (no, creek as Nikki keeps reminding her). Wet dew glistened off the tall wheat-like grass in the field beyond the yard’s fence. As she sipped her coffee, she watched the sun’s rays slowly crawl across the yard, causing first the yellow iris then the purple ones to bask in the spot light.

Despite the house being fairly far off the road and in a rural environment, it was quite noisy outside. Dozens of birds flitted about from feeder to feeder. It seemed to her they spent more time chasing each other off than actually eating. The birds hadn’t noticed her standing there or perhaps they didn’t care. Mourning doves and bright yellow finches fought for positions on the thistle feeders. Big blue jays and several grackles hopped around each other as they ate the cracked corn from the flat stones Nikki used for ground feeders. A red and black little bird (something towhee?) scratched at the grass where the sunflower hearts had fallen from one of the feeders. A bright red cardinal perched on another feeder where he pulled out a big sunflower and cracked it open on the edge of the tray.

Ellen heard a low growl and turned to see Spam staring out in the back yard. She followed his gaze and saw a squirrel on a branch. It seemed to be weighing its options as to which bird feeder to feast from first. Ellen grinned. “Must be new to the neighborhood”, she said to herself. The squirrel ran up the branch then came down the tree trunk. It clung to the bark, upside down, about a foot from the ground. Last minute perimeter check.

Spam waited, his big head getting lower and his rump got higher as he slowly rose to stand. Ellen was fascinated with this. She’d seen him chasing the squirrels away before but had not seen him preparing for the event.

The squirrel reached the ground and in leaps and bounds, made its way across the yard toward the closest ground feeding station. Just as it was about three feet or so away from it, Spam let out a deep “woof!”.

For a brief half second, nobody moved. Then the backyard exploded in feathers and fur as the birds and the squirrel frantically tried to disappear. The birds flew away but the squirrel didn’t seem to know where to go. It ran in a circle, still looking for the source of that bark. By then Spam had charged off the porch and was across the yard. The squirrel seemed to realize the errors of its ways and headed back where it came. Ellen laughed as it looked like a gray, blurred line straight back to the tree and back up the trunk.

Spam stopped where the squirrel had been and he sat down. His mouth opened in a wide grin. His duty for the morning was done.

Current Project

I am working on the sequel to To Sleep which is called The Awakening. The main document is almost 44K but the second document where I tried out a plot line, is 14.5K. Doing the maths means it is about 58K, more than halfway to the goal. I like the direction the plot line is going so I’m going back over the main one to fit it in at some point.

The good news is it is going well. Very well. The even gooder news is this book will have sex scenes in it. To Sleep had none because it wasn’t needed. But this book will need it because it is part of the plot line. The book starts about two years after To Sleep ends. It will still be in first person. I considered using another person for it but I kinda got attached to Karen. She has such a sarcastic mind, it was fun to write using it.

I’ll be introducing some new characters. Some are cool, like Denise and Cass who I made main characters (MCs). Others I thought would be more MCs but I didn’t like them that much.

She leaned into me and hugged my side. “You made the right decision, you know.”

“Did I? I gave her an ultimatum, one or the other I said.”

“And she chose the path she was the most comfortable with.”

“Or less frightened by.”

“Same thing. Stop worrying about it or you’ll get an ulcer.”

No, I wouldn’t. The nanites would take care of it at my yearly checkup. “You know we advanced Denise’s genetics, right?”

“Yes, and she’s still working through her new skills.”

“You can do the same thing. We’ll be offering it to all the descendants.”

“Become one of you? With telepathy and stuff?”

I almost told her she had to, else in fifty years I would lose her to old age while I never aged a bit. But that was for later, after she made her decision. “With telepathy and stuff.”

“And orgies?”

I had to laugh. “And orgies, if that’s what you want.”

(…)

After we had put them on, I hugged her close. “This is going to feel funny. It kinda tickles sometimes.” I then pictured the beach front property in New Zealand we had bought. I pictured the little cottage and the stone patio. Then we were there.

“What the hell?” She looked around in awe. It had been fall in Pennsylvania but it was spring here. The air was a little nippy but not too bad.

“You are in New Zealand.” I held her hand and we walked toward the water.

“How did we…without a teleport pad?”

“One of my skills is teleportation.”

She briefly looked like she was going to run screaming into the morning sunrise. Then she slowly smiled. “That’s a cool skill.”

“Frankie’s a little better at it.”

“You always do that. Say that someone is better. But I know, just from listening in, that you are the best in every skill you have.”

“Not electrokinesis. Julie’s by far better than me.” We sat on a bench near the water’s edge. “And certainly not empathy.”

“And I disagree. I think you purposely don’t train or exercise or whatever you do to make a skill stronger. I think you do it on purpose so that they are stronger than you are.”

“Your skill will be lie detection.”

She laughed then stopped. “Please tell me that’s not one of them.”

Writing Freely

No, not freewriting. I gave up on that for the most part. Spent more time analyzing than writing.

No, I mean writing freely, just starting with a plot thought and running with it. Like I used to. No going back over it and editing, just….moving along the conveyor belt that is the story.

To that end, I wrote over 3000 words today. Go ahead, say wow. Feel free to toss an ‘amazing’ or two.

What story did I start? Would you believe a brand spankin’ new one? Mostly. Consider it backstory for one of my SFs I got burbling on the back burner. I like it much.

The craft, as it had been for a long time as a scout Class IX Zenith, was on auto pilot. Eventually it and its tortured crew passed beyond the signal wave. It had dedicated most of its power and capabilities to various scientific studies during this time as it had been instructed to do. As power was automatically diverted back to various systems, the medical emergency protocols were engaged as the medical computer detected the intense mental and physical stress of everyone on board. Medical emergency protocols typically were engaged by a member of the crew, not by the ship itself but there were a sub-set of protocols that had been made for such an event where the entire crew were incapacitated. This sub-routine was engaged.

The First Medical Officer was located by the mobile bio-medic. A quick scan indicated the presence of physical pain and a medication was administered followed by the turning on of her internal nanites. Naddoc groaned and rolled over. The first thing she saw was the small bio-medic. It’s presence told her several things before the small robot spoke. It gave her, in a quiet, quick speech, the essentials of the crew as a whole.

“Engage Medical Emergency Protocol. Name: Chaos. Level:…” she paused and looked around. Two crewmembers near her were beginning to move but did not seem capable of much else. “Level: 8. Repeat.”

“Engage Medical Emergency Protocol. Chaos Level 8.” The bio-medic repeated back to her.

“Accepted. Begin.”

By the time she felt well enough to stand, every crewmember except her and the captain had been put into bio-tubes. The tubes would have been connected to the nearest terminals and the basic medical needs of the crew were being met. If any of them were experiencing life-threatening conditions or were beyond the capabilities of the non-medical terminals they were attached to, the pod would be taken to the infirmary and connected to terminals there. The Captain, if she had complied and followed the protocol, would be on a bio-bed in the infirmary. The pods containing the other First Officers would have been moved to the infirmary for her to check immediately, after any life threatening patients were seen to.

Naddoc slowly made her way across the room and into the hallway. Along the way, she glanced at the bio-pods and was pleased to see so many still in place. There were enough terminals in the infirmary for every crewmember if necessary but the more that were in the hallways, the less work it meant for her.

“Doc, about time you got your feathers in here.” The Captain, laying down on the bio-bed, grunted without opening her eyes.

“Speak softly, please.” Naddoc leaned against the bed and pulled the screen toward her. “Condition?”

I know, I know, VERY rough but that’s okay. I like that. I like that raw feeling of just simply writing freely. Letting the words form on the screen.

I call this story Watchers as that is what they are doing.

And I hate coming up with alien names. Because, you know, they aren’t going to be named Margaret and Liz or even Emily. And I won’t do the alien names full of apostrophes either. Like E’that or M’that. So I got Flex and Naddoc and Cam and Beft and Maht. And a lot of red lines in the document since I’ve not started a WIP specific dictionary yet.

Speaking of Tease…

Here ya go. Let me know what you think.

****

Several hours and most of a case of beer later, Sam had reached a conclusion. “Let’s move.”

“Move? Where?”

“I dunno. Somewhere that’s not a city. Not too hot, not too cold.”

“Juuuust right?”

“There’s nothing to keep me here. Nor you, for that matter. You’ll keep bumping into Ruth and I’ll never bump into whatshername.” Sam opened another beer bottle.

“You still hurting from her? It was a one-night stand, Sam. Get over it.”

“I don’t do one-night stands. And she said she didn’t either. Yet, well, don’t get me started. I’ve almost purged myself of her.”

“Must’ve been fantastic sex.” Ellen nudged Sam.

Sam sobered up for a moment. “The best I have ever had. But it wasn’t just the sex, although that alone was enough. It was the talking, the sharing, the laughing. You know?”

“Yeah, I know.” They were silent, each lost in their own thoughts. “So, we’re moving? Where to?”

“You got a map of the U.S. around here? A big one?”

“Nope, but we can make one.” Ellen weaved her way to her computer and opened her web browser. “Wikipedia is our friend.” Soon the printer was spitting out pages that they laid out on the floor to form the map.

“How many of these dead men are yours?” Sam pointed her unsteady hand toward the various empty bottles on the table and floor.

“Shit if I know.” Ellen giggled.

“Find the caps. We’ll toss them one by one onto the map.”

“Then we play connect the dots?”

“Nope. We see where they land and we choose where t’ move.”

“Oh! I get it now.” Ellen gathered the bottle caps within her reach while Sam did the same on her side of the floor. They began tossing them onto the map. Of course, it took a while since far too many of them missed the map altogether.

When they were done, they lay on the floor side-by-side and surveyed their choices. “I say take out all the Florida and Alabama ones. Too dang hot.” Ellen took off the Alabama ones and Sam removed Florida’s markers.

“And Washington. Nice state but I wouldn’t want to live there.”

“Texas?”

“Isn’t that where one of those companies is? Are? Whatever?” It was Sam’s turn to have a giggle fit.

“Yep. Too hot.” Ellen flipped the cap to the side. “Louisiana?”

“Hurricanes.”

“Missouri?”

“Tornadoes.” At each of Sam’s responses, Ellen picked up the appropriate caps. “That leaves Virginia, North Carolina, Wyoming and both Dakotas.”

“Take off the Dakotas and Wyoming. Too cold.” Sam held out her hand for the caps.

“Two in North Carolina, and one in Virginia.”

“Then I’d say North Carolina wins.”

Teaser

I’m writing again. Started working on Harri and Liz’s story, aka BG3, aka “Butch Girls and Stereotypes”. Yes, another damn romance. Here’s the beginning:

Liz Marsh refused to cry. Closing and taping shut the last box would make her cry. She could feel it. Her cheeks hurt. Her eyes burned. No words were capable of coming out of her mouth. Not happening. Unless she cried. That wasn’t happening either. She’d not cried when he’d died. She’d not cried at the funeral service or at the graveside. She’d heard whispers of how brave she was and others saying she just was a cold bitch.

She sat on the edge of the desk and picked up the picture frame closest to her. The photograph was of a small girl—herself–holding a cane fishing pole in one hand and the line with the six pound catfish in the other. She put the photo down and picked up the next one. It was of herself and an older man sitting at a table outdoors. It was at one of the church homecomings or something. Her grandfather was laughing and pointing at the pile of chicken bones next to Liz’s plate.

God how she missed him.

She clutched the photo to her chest and squeezed her eyes shut.

It’s not like he died suddenly. The cancer had been draining Tobias Marsh dry for a while, the last six months being the hardest. He had died at last, his body a ravaged husk, just two weeks ago. With him had died a huge chunk of Liz’s reason for living. She clutched the photograph in a half-hearted attempt to hold what was left of her together.

“Told you it was too soon to be dealing with this mess.” Someone spoke from the doorway.

Now she could cry.

Centric Shorts, Part Seven

Part Seven – Chapter Haven’t-A-Clue – in which we get political

By morning, the scale of what had happened become known. Of the five battery arrays, three were drained beyond repair. The other two perhaps could be recharged but it would take years. Now, instead of having another two hundred years at the least, they now had less than fifty. And, the ultimate betrayal for everyone, the batteries had been sabotaged.

The President sat in her office, looking over the list of possible groups that could be responsible. “Torado Ports? You can’t be serious.”

“We are, Ms. President. We have been watching them for years now.”

“If you publish this list with that company’s name on it, you’ll cause another uproar. Don’t you watch the news?” She reached for her pen to mark the name off the list.

“That is perhaps the biggest reason. Some of us feel it is too convenient that Torado Ports just happen to have so many businesses that are off the grid.”

“It is called good business. We all knew it was a matter of time, we just didn’t think this would happen.” Her pen ran through the list, marking off many of the names. “This list may be published, with my corrections. The uncorrected list may be kept on hand for reference only. If this list, intact, reaches the press, I will know who is responsible. Now, gentlemen, if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to attend.” The President got up and left the small outer meeting room to go inside her office.

Mr. Wallan and his associates stood as she did, but waited before leaving. He was not happy at all with this outcome.

#

Zenith opted to walk to the lodging since the traffic was so insane. Her luggage, all but the case in her hand, would either be there waiting or would arrive later. She was wearing shoes and clothing appropriate for walking anyway so she took advantage of it.

Capitol City was the largest metropolis on the planet. Located where the First had landed, the government buildings were all built out of the material from the transport ships, making them the only metal buildings on the planet. The roads, made of other material from the ship, were glossy and the reflection tended to be more than annoying.

But Zenith wasn’t using the road, she walked along the sidewalk, taking her time and watching people go by. It was dusk by the time she arrived at the lodging, glad that the setting sun would stop the glare from the streets.

But sitting on a bench, looking very distraught, was Maratha. Zenith didn’t know what was wrong. She smiled though, as she thought up a plan. She jogged down the street to a small cafeteria she had seen.

“Greetings. I happen to have a leftover belara and hoped you could eat it for me.” She held out a cellulose bag that held a wonderfully smelling open-ended sandwich.

“Oh Zenith!” Maratha dropped all her bags and jumped up into Zenith’s arms.

“Greetings again then.” She hugged her back then joined her on the bench. “Here, I really do have a belara for you. Eat. Then you can tell me what is wrong.”

“It’s just so….”

“Eat I said.”

Later, after watching her eat then hearing the story, she patted Maratha on the hand. “Stay here, Mar, and I’ll go see what I can do.”

In the lobby she could see why Maratha had been so overwhelmed. She was overwhelmed herself! She looked around the room, trying to find just the right person to approach.

“Mr. Smych, so glad to see you. May I speak with you a moment?”

“By all means, Ms. Torado. How may I help you?”

“I have a friend, an ethologist, who is outside and is unable to come in. She has been out in the field for several years and is quite panicked about the large number of people.” Zenith grinned to herself, glad she had found the right person.

“An ethologist you say? There’s only two that was called, and only one a woman. Ms. Verdan? Oh, bless her! Now let me think.” Mr. Smych, a man who knew everyone, almost literally, tapped his chin as he thought. “I have it. I’ll be right back.” He went to the front desk and spoke with the manager, who, after just a moment of conversation, left in a hurry. “I told him that there had been no refreshment area made available for everyone and that I had heard complaints. This room will be cleared in just a few moments.” He grinned a big one, pleased with himself. “Now, I would love to meet this Ms. Verdan, if I may?”

“She is right outside. Follow me.” Zenith took him through the lobby and outside where Maratha still sat. “Mar, this is an old friend, Mr. Smych. Mr. Smych, this is Maratha Verdan, ethologist.”

“Nice to meet you young lady! Tell me, how are your Gobals?”

“They are doing fine, sir. And yes, one does get used to the smell eventually.”

“I guess you get asked that a lot. Now, what about Family Three? Last I read there seemed to be a problem with the little one.”

As the two of them chatted, Maratha’s face getting more animated as she forgot her fears and talked about her Gobals. Zenith kept an eye on the crowd inside. She saw most of them go toward the long hall, the manager waving them along. “Sir, the lobby is clearing now. Mar, we are going to take you right in, to the desk and get you checked in. Okay? Ready?”

“Oh! Yes, I suppose, um….”

“Here, take my arm, young lady, and I will escort you through. This arm, you see, isn’t real, it is a prosthetic. You can squeeze it as hard as you like and I won’t feel a thing!”

#

And with that, my dear invisible readers, I leave you. I’ll be home soon and I can’t wait to find out if you liked it or not. I do hope you kept in mind two simple words as you read the snips: ROUGH DRAFT.