Archive for September, 2011

26th September
2011
written by amber

Crashing

That was where I discovered I could be a different person. I walked into the conference room, still thinking I was at the Associated Pharmacists’ Association Annual General Meeting, I went up to the registration table, gave them my name and was given a name tag. Granted, Jeff Wallace is a common enough name, and perhaps I was negligent not to look at the logo on the name tag. APW. Not APA.

The woman behind the table told me, “We’ve run out of copies of the agenda. We’re making more, but why don’t you duck into the Versailles Room and listen to the first guest speaker, and by the time that’s over, we’ll have a copy for you.”

“This guy is great,” said the fellow I sat down next to. The lecture was about a study on the psychological effects of cell size. I soon realized they weren’t talking about skin cells or stem cells or any other type of cell to do with the human body, except as a place in which to incarcerate a human body. But the talk was fascinating, much more interesting than the droning on about side effects and up-selling and aisle-end displays that I’d been expecting to snore through for four days.

And the Associated Penal Workers conventioneers were much more lively than my fellow pharmacists, who – you have to admit – are a lot like accountants except for being even more boring and staid. These guys and gals had high pressure jobs and they relished a chance to get away, let loose, share war stories. So I hung out with them and had a blast and I made up war stories. And discovered that I’m a pretty good liar, given the chance.

I made up a prison and I made up the prisoners and no one seemed the wiser. I loosened my tie and rolled up my sleeves and showed off the scar I got from falling off my bike when I was ten, except I told people it was from a knife whittled from a toothbrush handle, and my accent slid into the southern drawl of my maternal grandfather.

I never had more fun in my life.

Next year I think I’ll crash the Mortician’s convention. I bet they have some good stories.

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.

25th September
2011
written by amber

Ship Cat VI

Ever since Colleen had her kittens, she’s done nothing but cry, although Cutie isn’t sure the crying has much to do with the kittens. The woman barely seems aware of her litter of pink ghostlike babies who flit around the ship with Cutie’s kittens who are smaller, but otherwise identical. As she cries, Colleen carries on a conversation with her ship-mate, Brad.

But Brad isn’t on the ship any longer. The day Colleen gave birth, he’d grabbed her by the arm in a threatening manner. The kittens had descended on him, then he wasn’t there any more. Cutie doesn’t miss him. He used to kick her when he got annoyed, and he rarely had anything nice to say to Colleen but, still, it seems that Colleen misses him.

“Brad, come back. Who will I talk to if you’re not here?” she mutters through her tears.

Cutie paces back and forth in the corridor. An alarm has been beeping in the command room for several hours but Colleen stays in her cubicle and ignores it. If something goes wrong with the ship, what will happen to Cutie and the happy flock of floating babies that she and Colleen have produced?

“Meow,” Cutie says, meaning – you have to help her.

The kittens whirl around each other and suddenly are no longer there. Instead, Brad stands in the doorway. “Wow, that was weird,” he says.

Colleen’s face swivels up from her pillow to stare at Brad. “Where did you go?”

“I don’t know. I was in the kitchen and now I’m here. And I feel…good.”

“You were drunk,” she tells him.

“I guess I was. I guess I’ve been acting like a jerk.” He reaches down and pets Cutie, who is still looking around for the kittens. “Things will be different around here from now on, I promise.”

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.

24th September
2011
written by amber

Variation II

My daughter went missing on her high school geology trip. Apparently the transport broke down and solar activity was so high that they were unable to radio for help. The teacher decided they should walk out and try to reach a nearby settlement before their oxygen ran out.

And most of them made it. One boy succumbed before they got there and two others had to be dragged into the settlement after passing out just outside the airlock. But my daughter wasn’t with them.

The teacher hadn’t noticed she’d gone missing. Trent, her boyfriend, said she’d argued with him for the first kilometre, saying they should be headed for the much nearer penal colony instead of the settlement. When he pointed out that no one was allowed inside the penal colony other than the prisoners and that it would be dangerous to go there, she claimed that she’d been there a few times and met some very nice people.

And that sounds so much like my Corey. She’s a strong-headed girl, and – it’s true – I have taken her there to meet some selected patients of mine. But there’s many there I would never allow within two metres of my daughter. She met Ollie Ringold, Mars’ first prime minister, charged with embezzling and influence peddling. And she met John Donald Craft, Earth’s biggest Ponzi artist, who would have been lynched a hundred times over if they hadn’t got him off-planet.

She didn’t meet Alvin Buchanan, a.k.a. the Woodcutter, charged with raping and murdering four girls and suspected of a dozen more. He claims he’s innocent. I was inclined to consider considering this claim – he told me the name of the man who framed him and Alvin sure didn’t seem like the type.

The solar activity has died down now and Alvin’s pod read-out reveals he has unauthorized company. I haven’t triggered the alarm yet, so I’ll be there before anyone else.

If he has my Corey, I swear I’ll kill him.

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.

Tags:
23rd September
2011
written by amber

Variation I

The body was in the yard, just outside the cabin. I lifted the sheet and took a brief look. Shotgun wounds aren’t pretty.

“Who called it in?” I asked my men.

“Anonymous,” they said. “Pay phone at the gas station out on the highway.”

“Tracks in the yard that don’t match Bud’s truck?” I asked. Young Bud, either simple-minded or drug-addled, had lived in this cabin for over two years. He’d never given us any trouble. And now his troubles had been ended in the most brutal manner.

“Yeah. We took impressions.”

“Good,” I said, and stepped inside the cabin. Two cups on the table and the pot of coffee still warm on the wood stove. The bed heaped with a tangle of quilts and animal pelts, and a neatly folded pallet of old grey army blankets on the floor. A galvanized wash pail beside the stove, damp rags and old towels draped over the edge. A pair of hiking boots drying by the fire, too small for Bud’s large feet and too new for the woodsy recluse’s limited budget.

I went back outside.

“Call Jerry Whyte,” I told my men.

“The man over in Edville whose daughter is missing?”

I nodded. “I don’t think she’s missing any more.”

“You think Bud took her?” They looked around as if they’d overlooked some clue to the missing girl.

“I think he found her, and was fixing to take her home, after she got warmed up a bit. And I think Jerry mistook his intentions.”

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.

Tags:
22nd September
2011
written by amber

After He Died

After he died, she was never the same. My auntie’s life had been illuminated by love and hope. Before he died, she sang constantly as she moved through her days of drudgery. She mopped the halls of the old folks’ home, singing. She emptied the waxed-cardboard spittoons, humming. She wiped bums, smiling through her involuntary tears.

He waited for her at home. His picture on the wall, his recorded voice at the tips of her fingers. She saved her money so that once a year she could visit him in person. Those brief encounters would sustain her for the coming 364 lonely days.

She was at work when she heard the news, and it was a good thing a doctor happened to be there at the time. She keeled right over, a huge event considering how large she was.

She took a week off work to mourn, but they wouldn’t give her any longer. Really, it was a kindness that they gave her that much.  She never sang again. Music had been the expression of her love, and that love had been a foolish love. She wasn’t simple-minded, she knew her fantasies could never come true. Every time she looked in the mirror, the impossibility of any man finding her beautiful was made obvious to her.

Why shouldn’t she have had her Elvis?

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.

Previous
Next