Archive for August, 2011

25th August
2011
written by amber

Pigmalion

Dr. Drayer took me out for dinner tonight with some very important investors in his research. At least, he hopes they will be. But he was very disappointed with the way I behaved.

“Charlotte, how could you say that the wine tasted like poison?” he scolded me as he drove me back to the lab.

“Well, it did,” I said. “You told me I shouldn’t ever lie, don’t you remember?”

“If I ask you if you understand something, you shouldn’t lie. But if someone buys you something nice, then say good things about it even if you don’t like it. That is politeness.”

“I’ll try, but it’s confusing. Just like all those forks at the restaurant.”

“You used the dessert fork for your dinner,” he pointed out, “despite what I taught you.”

He should be happy that I used a fork at all. Mastering that has been hard for me. I still remember eating out of a bowl on the ground without any silverware. Dr. Drayer doesn’t know that I still visit my brothers and sisters, watch them in their unimproved state and wonder why he picked me.

They can’t talk, or understand, or use a computer, even hitting one key at a time like I do.

They can’t read.

I read very well and so I know that Dr. Drayer made a mistake when he named me Charlotte. Charlotte was the spider.

Wilbur was the pig.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story is based on a challenge from my mother, Mary Bond, who suggested using ‘wine’ and ‘poison’ in the same sentence.

24th August
2011
written by amber

Red Tights

When I walked into the room, I couldn’t take my eyes off her, her red tights, her legs straddled wide and cuffed to the bed posts, her arms hand-cuffed to the headboard.

“The body’s in here,” I was told and they lead me to the bathroom. The man had been brutally bludgeoned to death.

There was no sign of the cuff keys. While we waited for someone to bring a hack saw, the girl told me what had happened. “I was already restrained when a man came into the room and took Fred into the bathroom. Is he dead?”

“Yes, ma’am, he is,” I told her, “and it isn’t pretty. There must have been quite a commotion. I’m surprised the guy didn’t do anything to you, you being a witness and all.”

“Oh, I was blind-folded. I didn’t see anything.”

The police who’d been first at the scene nodded and showed me the mask they’d removed from her face.

“Well, anything you can tell us would be helpful. When we cut you loose, we’ll drive you down to the station, get your statement and you’ll be free to go as long as you don’t leave town.”

I drove her down to the station myself. She was quiet and cooperative, leaving me time to think about the lack of a murder weapon and the missing cuff keys.

I had a hunch.

“Let’s take you to the hospital first, get you checked out. They said you were screaming for a while in there, before anyone came.”

“I’m fine,” she claimed, but I insisted and when we got there, I convinced an ER doc I know to xray her.

The cuff keys were in her stomach but the real surprise was her artificial leg, all battered and bent, the red stains hidden beneath those red tights.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story was inspired by a discussion among my fellow hikers about using an artificial leg to beat someone.

24th August
2011
written by amber

A Flaxen Tale

Astrid was born larger than most, stronger than most and different. Over the years, she watched her younger sisters, soft pretty little things, marry and drop children year after year – sweet flaxen-haired daughters and stalwart flaxen-haired sons.

Astrid watched her younger brother sail away in a war boat and return year after year with chests of Catholic gold and bales of oriental silks and casks of Anglish mead. She envied him. In their younger years, when his skill with axe and broad sword had surpassed that of the servant assigned to spar with him, she had become his secret partner. Not only did she hide her warrior skills from their parents, but also she reined in her strength and strategy with her brother, knowing that it would be to her peril to defeat him.

She’d had no excitement since he left home. She’d been relegated to act as nursemaid to her aged parents, the common lot of ugly unmarriageable daughters. But now they were both dead and when next her brother returned from his warring, he’d find no trace of her at home.

But soon he might hear of the mighty feats of a new warrior, Astoth the Magnificent.

Dear readers – this story is posted a day late. I’ve been away on a horse-assisted back-packing trip in the Wilmore Wilderness and out of touch with the Internet. I left some stories to be posted on this website daily, but I was one story short.

I wrote a story every day in the backcountry, and read it to my fellow hikers (we were 9 in all) around the campfire every night. So now you can be treated to several campfire stories.

This story was inspired by a notice about a missing horse with a flaxen ‘tale.’

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

22nd August
2011
written by amber

Shoes

I would not five finger shoes. I know what it takes to make them, and I don’t want to cheat the man or woman who made them.

Yes, I know that the labourer who sewed the leather into such pleasing shapes receives very little for his or her hard work. I know I would be taking far more from the pockets of the exploiter who owns the factory and smokes his fat cigars while the poor people toil with burning hands from the bright carcinogenic dyes and their backs bent endlessly over their machines. Taking from the importer who seeks the world for the country willing to treat its people the worst in all the globe. Taking from the shop keeper who sits in her office at the back of the store and counts her money while the clerks work for commission and lie and lie to make their pittance. “Oh, yes, madam, those look wonderful on your feet. They do make you look taller. Really, they are slimming to your ankles.”

I would not five finger shoes.

My mother worked in a shoe factory. She earned the money for me to come to this country, where I must five finger many things to survive, to send money home to her.

But I would not five finger shoes.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This story owes its inspiration to a very strange line in a piece of spam sent to me.

21st August
2011
written by amber

The Message

When Leah and I arrived at Ryman orbital, there was a surprise waiting for Leah: a message. This was a shock to her, as no one knew we’d end up there, not even ourselves. If the Stallworthy Drive hadn’t failed, we would have made it all the way to the Green Galaxy, as we’d planned.

Her second shock was the identity of the sender of the message. The message came from herself.

I know what you’re thinking – how could she know that the message was really from herself? And your second thought probably is – how ironic that the discoverer of the impermeable nature of the membrane between the multiverses should receive a message from herself. And you would be right to think such thoughts.

The first line of the message, an infoburst of mathematical formulae, was an exact duplication of Leah’s proof of the barrier named after her, the Hamakawa membrane, without the small error she had inserted into her published work to test the mettle of those attempting to replicate her work. And that’s how she knew the message was from herself.

The message went on to describe the life that the alternate Leah Hamakawa enjoyed in a parallel universe, a universe almost exactly like our own, in which Leah is also the foremost scientist of her generation but in which she suffers from a fatal illness. Leah2 informed my Leah that the Ryman orbital was the location of the thinnest separation between their universes and our drive problem had been caused to divert us to that place.

Leah2 went on to say that life force in her universe is equivalent to monetary worth in our universe, and that if my Leah were to deposit 4.5 million credits into an account on the Ryman orbital, the thinness of the separation would enable her to transfer the credits into her universe and thus cure her illness via the renewed life force.

Naturally, Leah did this.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story posted every day on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line suggestions in the Comment section.

This is the final story written from the first lines of stories in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, September 2010. This line is from Geoffrey A. Landis’ story, The Sultan of the Clouds.

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