Archive for December, 2012

26th December
2012
written by amber

The Search

The woman walked out of a cloud of dust that had circled her body in a clandestine shroud.

She stopped, closed her eyes, and dusted herself off, allowing as much of the remnants of the dust cloud to fall from her hair and clothing.

“Where am I?” she whispered to herself as she looked around, taking in all that she saw.

“Or,” she added unconsciously, “When?”

The landscape was that of a million time spans, a billion worlds…a trillion possibilities…

A lone creature of some sort soared overhead, circling in the intense heat, riding the rising air that included traces of the dust from her arrival.

From a satchel by her side, she removed three small metal tubes, each identical to the other, and set them down on the ground beside her left foot. Removing a wider, longer tube, she than retrieved one of the tubes from the ground and inserted it in one end of the larger tube. Holding it up, she waved it in the air back and forth, and then removed the small cylinder. She than placed another one in and stabbed it into the ground, removed it and picked up the third small metal tube. Looking around her, she noticed a small plant and, removing a small instrument from the satchel, removed a small part of the plant, and placed it into the last tube. Then, removing a rectangular silvery box from the satchel, she slid all three tubes inside, and, pushing a black button on the side, held it in her hand as she studied the area directly around her.

She had landed in a small depression in a largely flat, unassuming terrain. Surrounding her was small, scrubby plants, the drifting creature, which by now was only a small dot up in the azure sky, and a lot of stone and sand. She looked towards a small, cylindrical pod that rested on the ground, its exterior scarred, dented and blackened, with faded, almost indistinguishable numbers and letters flanking two of its sides.

It had been thirty three years since she had left.

Thirty three years ago, Terran time, since they sent her off on a mission to find a habitable place for what was left of human kind. Thirty three years of been transported through the cosmos in a dire search to aid in the survival of her species. She had lost contact with Main Control just over two years after she had first left, but continued on her search; the pod itself would return back to Earth when the mission was over. If a planet was immediately deadly to human life, the pod would not open, but continue on its journey, only stopping to allow measurements in places that could sustain human life even for a short time period. She hadn’t even looked at the instruments that told her her position when she had landed; she hadn’t paid attention for a while. She didn’t even know which planet she had landed on.

The rectangular box chirped twice. She looked at the box.

“LIFE NOT SUITABLE FOR HUMAN SURVIVAL.”

She clicked another button, and the machine scrolled through a series of data. Her face went pale as the last screen appeared and gave her current position.

“VIRGO SUPERCLUSTER-LOCAL GROUP-ORION ARM OF MILKY WAY…”

Tears slid freely down her cheeks, leaving sooty rivulets behind them.

“THIRD PLANET FROM THE SUN.”

The pod had brought her home.

23rd December
2012
written by amber

Spoken Words

“I don’t deserve this,” Andrea thought.

She sat on her bed, back against her bedroom wall, looking out her window. Jack Frost had visited last night, and the window panes were adorned in ice tinged masterpieces.

A gentle ‘rap-rap’ sounded on her door, followed by a quiet voice.  “Andrea?” her Father called from outside her door, his voice gentle and quiet.

“Leave me alone!” she screamed, viper like, venom dripping from her very words.

Silence.

“Sweetheart?” the word drifted through the door, again delivered in a gentle and quiet tone.

“Go away!” she screamed again, more venom injected, more poison delivered.

“I love you, Andrea,” her Father said, gently, “I ju-“.

“Shut up!” she screamed, louder than ever, halting her Father’s attempt at communication. She added four words that she regretted just as quickly as she said them. “I don’t love you!”

The silence was momentarily absolute. All she heard was a loud squeak in the hallway as her Dad stepped on the loosened floorboards at the top of the stairs; he was walking away.

A minute or so later, she heard his truck start. She stood up and walked to the window, and looked out through the Jack Frost window. She watched as her Dad backed down the driveway and stop just before he pulled out onto the street. His face appeared as he turned on the interior lights in his truck. He lifted his hand in a wave, a peace offering offered across the snow and through the frosty dawn air.

She turned her head away and sat on her bed, and heard him drive away.

“I wish he would never come back!” her words sliced the air like a switchblade, cutting deep and quick. She wished their phone worked, it had been down since yesterday afternoon, and her parents did not believe in cell phones, she would phone her Mom at work and tell her what her Dad had done.

Ever since her Mom had started working at night on the weekends, driving a forklift at the grocery warehouse, the same place where her Dad worked weekdays, her Dad and she had come to a point of total disagreement, regardless of the situation. She knew her Mom would be home soon; as her Dad and Mom switched vehicles on Monday mornings. His shift started when hers ended, and they would share the vehicle; her Dad caught the bus home after work. If her Mom had been here, her punishment wouldn’t have been so severe. Now, because she had come in two hours after her curfew last night, she had been grounded for two weeks. It wasn’t her fault she had lost track of time, it wasn’t her fault she had been having fun at her friend, Melissa’s house, and forgotten to check the time. Andrea realized that this was not the first time she had missed her curfew, but thought it unfair to receive such a harsh punishment.

An hour later, Andrea sat at the kitchen table eating a slice of toast smothered in a huge dollop of homemade strawberry jam. She thought it strange that her Mom hadn’t come home yet, she was usually here a half hour ago. As she put the last of her toast into her mouth, headlights gleamed into the living room. Her Mom was home; she would be able to complain to her about her Father’s unjust sentence.

As she put her plate on the counter by the sink, and tightened her housecoat against the morning chill, she heard the back door open. “Good morning, Mom!” she called out cheerfully, forgetting the anger she now felt towards her Dad, as she stepped around the corner to welcome her Mom.

Her Dad stood there, his eyes red and swollen. Andrea felt the colour and warmth leave her face.

“Where’s Mom?” Andrea pleaded, more than asked the question.

Her Dad just stood there, tears tracing a path down his tired and pale face.

“Where’s Mom!” Andrea’s pleading turned to a demand.

Her Dad shrugged and began to sob. “Thi…this morning,” his voice trailed off, than haltingly started again, “The forklift…the forklift fell off…”

Andrea, caught a sob in her throat, threw herself at her Father, and held him tight.

23rd December
2012
written by amber

Here is a line to inspire you for this week’s short story -

“I don’t deserve this,” Andrea thought.

16th December
2012
written by amber

Here is a line to inspire you to write a story this week.  Around 600 words – if it’s a little over, don’t worry.

Please feel free to make comments on the stories already posted. New writers are welcome to join in this online writing workshop any time.

The line – “The woman walked out of a cloud of dust.”

14th December
2012
written by amber

The canyon was dark and not at all appealing. But I had to go in there.

To emphasize this fact, a tinny voice spoke into my ear. “Enter the canyon.”

So I shrugged the heavy backpack into a marginally more comfortable spot on my shoulders, and began to trudge through the freezing water. Before long the creek was above my knees, but I carried on. The kidnappers wouldn’t have sent me into life-threatening danger, at least until they got their ransom.

The sun was setting and the high walls of the canyon cast black shadows across the water and the huge boulders crowded beside and within the water course. I turned on my headlamp and continued to scramble toward I knew not what.

I hoped it would be Jennine and I wondered how she was feeling about at last entering my world, the world of stone and obstacle and unforgiving challenge. Her world was the world of malls and theatre and endless swiping of her credit cards. She was probably afraid that I wasn’t going to come, that I’d be happier without her, happier with some other woman who enjoyed what I enjoyed. And there were many women like that, one in particular now and many in the past.

But I could never abandon the mother of my children to the criminals’ promised revenge. I’d pay anything to get her back, then we both could resume the life we’d forged into an acceptable mutual compromise.

The roar of a waterfall came from around the next bend. As I pushed up the canyon against the creek’s increased flow, a sudden light from above startled me. Looking up, I saw Jennine, dangling from a rope. I had a moment of black panic until I saw that she was wearing a harness.

“Jennine!” I yelled.

“Just give him the money!” she called down to me, her eyes wide with fear.

A man stepped from behind a large stone, reaching for my backpack. I struggled out of it as quickly as I could. He clipped it to a carabineer at his waist, then tugged at a rope above his head. As he rose upwards, I shouted, “Give me my wife! Give me Jennine!”

But she was rising too, smiling at me. She didn’t look afraid any longer.

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