Archive for the ‘Writing Science Fiction’ Tag

The Surreal Life   Leave a comment

sleep

I’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. Dali’s picture best describes how I’ve been feeling as of late: melted, propped up, in a barren landscape far from any civilization save for a remote outpost of questionable value.

Life isn’t always fair. It splays out an awful lot of unwanted changes, blitzkrieg-style. For the past year, I’ve been caught in that proverbial rock-in-a-hard-place spot that makes it hard to go forward. Seems like I’m forever exhausted. Depressed. Unmotivated and uninspired.

Last autumn, I shared these sentiments with a fellow writer friend. He’d been thrown a horrible loss – his father was killed – and said that writing was the best therapy to work through his grief.

Took me a long while to sink in, but yes, he’s right. Absolutely right. I have to force myself to lose myself in dreams, not to sleep, but to write.

It’s been so long that I’ve created anything meaningful that I nearly lost faith in my abilities. What if my words amount to drivel? Shapeless streams of verbiage? Worse, an over reliance of adverbs?

I sat down with my second manuscript, still uncompleted, and gave it a good, hard look. It’d been months since I added anything to it, plus I have about two-thirds more to write before it’s finished. Sure, there’s a lot of changes I need to make, stuff needs to be tightened up and fleshed out. But you know what? It’s not bad. It’s not even a real first draft yet.

As I read through it, I gathered the plot’s flow in my brain. The characters arose from their long rest and seemed refreshed to resume their roles in my imagination. They even gave me a few clues as to how they’d like to beef up their storylines and get that action rolling once more. After going through it a few times, misty sketches became solid outlines. And here’s something positive: once I got that manuscript back inside me, the holes in the plot that dogged me so much are now filling in. No more potholes, but real patches to sketchy patches that vexed me.

My sister Gwen’s been egging me on, too. Said I need to get on with it. Claim my talent back from the dead and stop crying zombie. Get on with it already. Of course, she’s right.

Perhaps the best words of wisdom I found was from a friend on Facebook, yet another writer. He posted this link from Cracked.com – “How To Be a Better Person.” It’s REALLY hard to admit to the truths in it, but the short of it is that if you want to be a success, you’re going to have to work your ass off, accept failure as a learning opportunity, and expect to keep working until you either give up or shrug off frustration, obstacles, naysayers, pests, pessimists, and your own laziness and limitations in order to succeed. See, the longer you work at something – and it doesn’t have to be writing – the better you become. That, and all the losers quit, therefore opening your field a little wider. And that, my friends, is where an opportunity might show up.

Now, I need to take my own advice. I’ve been out of the writing loop so long that it’s a little scary sticking my feet back in the icy pool. It’s going to take a few dips before I get used to the numbness, but after a while I’ll get used to it again. And I’ll swim.

Here’s to 2017. My year of literary triumph, and yours too.

 

 

Writer’s Blah   Leave a comment

img_1303

I think we can all agree that life sucks on occasion.

Right now, I’m feeling about as grey as the picture above, my inspiration gone out with the tide. For reasons I won’t go into, once again, I find myself in a situation I hadn’t expected. As Nora Ephram’s mother famously told her, “Everything is copy,” That only works if you can turn that situation into a script.

So far, no dice. I can’t seem to wrest any collection of words from my brain.

Is it writer’s block? Absolutely not. I’d say it’s more like writer’s blah. I just can’t get excited about writing these days. And it’s killing me.

But hey, I’m coming up with some words for this now, aren’t I?

The other day, a writer pal I hadn’t heard from in quite some time dropped me a line. Asked what’s up and all that. Without going into all the boring details, I recited a washed-over summary of the dreariness invading my mental turf.  Gave the Gloomy Gus routine. Then I was set straight. That pal’s father had been killed recently and attached a newspaper article regarding his death.

Words failed me, but this time it was out of shock, sadness for my friend…and perspective.

Pal said the best therapy lies in the ability to wash out the living world and replace it with the fresh canvas a writer creates. It’s a place one easily loses oneself, especially when life’s events spin out of control. Those words are who we choose to be. There’s good company in the characters, even if you’re spinning their plot. They do appreciate it and will reward you with a story, if you stick around long enough.

And it’s not like I haven’t tried. I entered two short stories in a flash fiction contest. I thought they were brilliant. The editors believed otherwise. I didn’t win. But as every writer knows, rejections are a badge of honor. No one’s legit unless they pile up a a moving van’s worth. Receiving those cheered me up some. Now I had something to talk about…but not write.

So this weekend my sister and I planned to sell boxes of ungifted gifts my late mother never seemed to give. That, and the millions of other doodads she felt too compelled to keep over the span of her eighty-four years. We’d do Saturday and Sunday at the busy flea market nearby. Went to bed early and rose to a nasty storm with gale-force winds. The prospect of expecting to sell anything, including the idea of getting dressed and hawking in that misery, evaporated.

My computer often accompanies me, though I don’t always use it. It’s like a security blanket, ready, willing and able to help me get on with my writing, should I be up for the mission. My sister knew those typing fingers of mine seemed stuck in neutral, unable to rev up to speed. Over breakfast, as she dug into her oatmeal, she said between munches, “Why don’t you write today? Can’t do much of anything else. Too miserable.”

Oh, sounds so pleasing, so simple, so…so…oh, what’s the word again?

I opened the laptop and scanned the pages of my second novel that’s well in the works. Been so long, though, since I mustered up the strength to write I pretty much forgot half the plot. Once I got into it, though, the characters shook off their dust, revived their motives and jumped back into action. Pretty soon, I changed a word here, tightened up a sentence there, and before you know it, I ended up at the end…of where I left off. The wind lashed at the window and howled like crazy, but none of that distracted me. I managed to squeeze out at least four good pages before dinner.

At the crack of black undawn, my sister and I threw ourselves into the car and headed out to the flea market. The storm passed, so we headed out. Managed to wrestle two splintered grey tables (just like my moods of late) and set up shop. A parade of plot lines passed by, any one of them the makings for good stories. Even the guy next to us told good copy. If nothing else, flea markets are fodder for inspiration. Literally one of everything strolls down the lanes. Between 7:30 – 8:30 am, a Native American chatted to the person’s table across from us, a corpulent sixty-ish woman with stringy long auburn hair and stars tattooed to her browline remarked over a crucifix we had for sale, a Jimi Hendrix lookalike wandered over with his entourage of equally interesting partners, several dogs in baby strollers pushed by “parents,” and a persistent Chinese woman insisting on paying $1 for a lead crystal vase selling for $10 (she didn’t get it). And more, of course, but you get the idea.

When I came home, I sat and opened my computer, intending to pick up where I left off. For some odd reason, none of the four pages I wrote saved. I dropped my head in my hands, cursing. I sighed, shook my head and laughed. Typical.

Once more, I began to write. And this time, it was good.

Gone – Flash Sci-Fi   Leave a comment

 

photo-10

I struggle to find the words as my chilled body shakes.

Alone.

Hardly a whisper filters through these naked trees, unless one counts the soft murmur of the rill snaking along the rocks. Yet I find myself beaten and stabbed, alone here, but not without reason or purpose.

If only I hadn’t.

Funny, now, how a small attempt at pleasure erupted into violence. She neither presented no indication nor imparted any suspicion of her true nature. Yet I submitted myself to her attentions. A flirt, a taste, a wisp was all it took.

And now, look at me.

Of course, I’m less than innocent. I knew what I wanted. How to get it. Didn’t take much. All I needed was the will. All else’d follow. I heard the siren call, the claim of fulfillment, no judgment, only satisfaction.

Promising.

I’d never known such happiness. Beauty. The world and all its charms. I had it all solved, all squared, done up in a bow and sealed with a kiss. Power and glory, all mine for real.

Until.

Until it wasn’t, and by that I mean there’s a price for all that goodness. Gets steeper by the week, day, minute. Doesn’t take long to discover the beauty you had’s now the the demon you dread.

Now.

Got to conquer the beast. Can’t let it get into my head. But wait. No, I said now. Can’t. Oh yes you can. You will. And if you can’t, then get gone.

Over.

So I watched, bided my time. Dove in the cold water, expecting to swim. Discovered it’s easier to drown. Over my head in a flash. Two counted my days until they ran out.

And done.

That short journey took forever. Still, my hopeful self denied it’d ever happen. If the flesh didn’t do it, then certainly the steel’s finishing the job. My time is over, folks. The chilled air’s getting thin, and the light of day’s faded.

Gone.

Owen McQueen – Flash Sci-Fi   Leave a comment

rembrandt_a-beggar-leaning-on-a-stick

 

My name is Owen McQueen, and I have the vast fortune to be poor. Dreadfully poor.

You see, it is my fate to have been born with an affliction that renders me useless in most forms of employ. Some call me idiot, insane. My shape is round, my eyes appear half-awake, my speech childlike, at best.

But my mind! Thoughts so rich and rewarding, trapped in a doomed cell from which escape is hopeless. Yet its optimism never eases. Even as I gaze at the mother who pulls her child to her breast as she passes before me, I smile. For my hope is not lost, merely tucked in a safe place, for that time when I dare retrieve it.

I hear the auctioneer speak my name. Folks gather around me, curious. One reaches over the chain to touch my vest as if to examine the fabric’s wear. Another notices several holes in my stockings and frowns. Two men stare at my face. “The devil surely rejected this one,” I hear. To this I laugh, causing the pair to recoil in surprise.

How did I come to be in such a position at this station of my life? For as long as God had placed me upon this Earth, I’ve been the ward of the Overseer. His duties of office require him to auction not only myself, but others who find themselves in this wretched state. Though fault of soul or circumstance, we chosen few are placed in his control.

Every April, paupers such as us are required to report to the Overseer, who then assesses our condition. He makes note of our general health, the condition of what few articles of clothing we possess, and anything else of note, such as lameness. A scribe carefully records these observations, as well as the value of our upkeep. We are then told to clean ourselves as though we were to attend Sunday services. If we present well, two slices of black bread and a slab of cheese are given us as a reward.

“Owen McQueen is a loyal soul, hardworking and docile. His clothing is in good repair. He’ll give you no trouble and the cost of his keep is merely four pounds per year,” said the auctioneer. “Who’ll take him?”

At first, no one answers his call. I show the crowd a hopeful face.

“Certainly someone treasures a bargain. There are none today cheaper,” offers the auctioneer.

“I’ll take him,” says a man with a grey beard. “He’s bound to be of use to an old man.”

The Overseer takes the money from grey-bearded man and I’m given a push towards him. I expect nothing. After 50 years of Aprils, each one spent at auction, my life has never been my own, and as a pauper, it never will.

 

 

 

 

The Stone Wall – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story   1 comment

dry-stone-wall

It was generally considered good form by the people of the village to engage in proper manners, especially in public. Therefore, when Mrs. Cottilard accidentally trod upon Mrs. Heflig’s front garden lavender, she made it a point to walk the winding slate path to her front door, knock twice, and apologize.

“I’m quite sorry,” Mrs. Cottilard said to Mrs. Heflig, “but it seems I lost my footing on the way to the grocer’s and stepped on the lavender blooms. They appear quite crushed, but this happened without malice. I merely tripped and could not catch myself in time to stop. If I could erase the harm I caused to your garden, I will.” Her humble glance underscored her sincerity in the matter.

“Of course I forgive you,” said Mrs. Heflig. “After all, it was me who neglected to wish you a happy birthday last October.”

“True,” said Mrs. Cottilard. “And we are dear, dear friends.”

For this transgression, however innocent, her gesture was considered, duly noted…and forgiven.

On those occasions upon which a person committed an act that might cause offense, and did not offer either an apology or restitution, one was compelled to find a stone proportionate with the size of the offense. The offender would then inscribe the act on it and place upon the Great Girthing Wall, a long stone wall that ran the perimeter of the village. No name was required, but this offered a venue for admission without guilt.

After many years, the stone wall grew long and high. Activity varied. Of course, it depended upon workplace issues, marital happiness, friendships, good grades in school, heath, security and general welfare. During times of strife, the wall tended to grow at a rapid pace. When all went well, fewer stones contributed to the wall’s girth. It seemed a fine solution for those experiencing difficulties speaking their mind and clearing the air. At least one could come clean with his or her troubles and sins, and no one would be the wiser.

Of course, many were able to determine by the size of the rock and the freshness of the paint who did what to whom. Yet no one ever accused anybody of anything. Better to carry the pain than to make a clean breast of it.

So it came to be that on a Wednesday morning, well before dawn, Mr. West strolled out of his house and selected a rock. Round, grey, with a touch of lichen, he squatted down to lift it from its resting place near the swamp.

“This will suit me,” he said. “I upset someone close to me, but not sure exactly how I did it. I can tell they’re not happy. Perhaps they’ll see this rock. They’ll see it’s become a weight on my soul. Apart from that, what can I do?”

So he picked up the rock to tote it to the Great Girthing Wall surrounding the village. His arms grew weary. His fingers grew numb. Still, he traveled a good distance but noticed no wall.

“Surely I’ve been walking in the right direction,” he said, dropping the stone to rest his weary limbs. “Where did it go? Perhaps in the darkness I’ve lost my way. I’ll wait until the first rays break the darkness. Then I’ll see it.”

Before long, several rosy beams reached above the horizon, illuminating the sky. Mr. West smiled, relieved. “That wall ought to be very close,” he said.

It wasn’t.

Without warning, Mr. West felt his legs give way beneath him. The earth had disappeared and it was only at the last moment he caught himself from tumbling into the long, circular crevasse that replaced the spot where the Great Girthing Wall had formerly stood.

Several minutes passed as he caught his breath and collected his senses. His legs dangled over the edges as a few bits of earth crumbled into it. “My God,” he said, “Where did it disappear to? How can it simply vanish?”

An old crone bearing a rock soon came close and inspected the place where the Great Girthing Wall once ringed the village. “I see it finally happened,” said she.

“What?” said Mr. West

“Somebody admitted the truth.”

“What do you mean? People do that every day,” said Mr. West.

The old crone let out a crooked laugh. “How do you think the Great Girthing Wall came to be? Those rocks – all here to take away the guilt, shame or even intention of offenses. All lies and excuses, growing heavier with each passing day.”

“Yes, but that’s the wall’s intention,” Mr. West said.

“That wall held us prisoner,” said the old crone. “Now at last, we’ve been set free.”

Posted September 9, 2016 by seleneymoon in Sci-Fi, Short Story, Writing

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The Prediction – A Short Attention Span Sci-Fi Story   Leave a comment

Cloud 2

 

I gazed at the mirror and saw only clouds.

That morning, a late August Monday, seemed perfect from the start. A light fog grazed the valley, but soon dissipated after the the sun’s rays reached over the low hills. As usual, I threw on my robe and went outside, plucking the newspaper from the edge of the driveway. As was my custom, I opened it to its centerfold, usually the section where the comics and the horoscopes could be found.

For some, placing the horoscopes next to Calvin and Hobbes made perfect sense. Hobbes came to life because Calvin believed in him. My horoscope might have come true, if I put enough faith in it. Since I trust logic over lunacy, I never believed in those predictions, nor understood how anyone could. Aren’t we supposed to be the leaders of our own destiny? We, as humans, have choices. And while we can become victims of circumstance, our decisions, not the random words of a stranger, should govern our lives.

Still, the temptation to read Aquarius that morning was strong. My gaze shifted to the one-star rating it listed for that Monday. Ah well, it’s the start of a new workweek…why should it be glowing and cheerful? I thought. It said,

Elusive illusions obscure your ability to remonstrate. Proceed with circumspection.

Heh? I’d have to break out a dictionary before I’d be able to figure that one out. No wonder these things aren’t worth the newspaper they’re printed on. I closed up the paper and went in my house, dropping the paper on the kitchen table.

I jumped in the shower, steamy and hot. As the soapy water slithered down my flesh, my thoughts drifted to the ridiculous horoscope. Isn’t an illusion obscure and elusive by nature? How do you argue with something that’s not there? Be wary of proceeding…with what?

That’s when I pulled open the shower door and noticed the bathroom mirror clouded over. Sure, steam’ll do that. I glanced out the window but it, too, had fogged over. I wiped the window with my damp towel and noticed the odd curls the clouds formed in the sky, sort of like my hair on a humid day. By now, the fog had cleared in the bathroom and I saw my face in the mirror.

As much as I wanted to believe I’d never age, the grey at the temples, the crow’s feet near my eyes, the little sag under the chin – I never much noticed them. Until now.

And then it hit me.

The horoscope was completely accurate.

I’m aging, I can’t argue that, and if life mattered to me, I’d better look out.

Because if I don’t, I’m going to lose it in the fog. And like the curled cloud, I’ll fade.

A Ticket To Heartbreak and Heaven   Leave a comment

2016 NY ComicCon

I got excited when the yearly reminder to sign up for October’s NY Comic Con appeared in my inbox. For years, I swore I’d love to attend but life always interfered somehow: had to work and couldn’t get off, or something was up with the kid, or after all the bills got paid, the till’s empty and so were my pockets.

This year, however, was different. The stars aligned in my favor. For once.

Upon receiving the notice I needed to fill in my fan verification form, a method of preregistration, I counted the days until the site opened. As one can imagine, in years past, tickets to this event were hotter than asphalt in Florida on an August afternoon, and acquiring them often required a Ferengi’s ability to pilfer, smuggle and trade. So who can blame the folks at NYCC to try a new method of ticket selling so that anyone who wanted to attend actually could…legitimately?

Once the Fan Verification site went live, I filled in my name, my husband’s name and my son’s. It asked for email addresses. Since I was treating the family for tickets, I put my own email in all three. I’ve purchased tickets for various and sundry trade shows in the same manner, so why should this be any different?

Several days later, I received a notice that tickets were now open for sale for verified fans. After waiting in an electronic queue for well over an hour (lucky I hit the button right as it came live!), I purchased three tickets and was instructed that I’d need to go to another site to complete the sale. I got excited. Not only was my family going, I planned to surprise my son with his ticket, since the event takes place right before his birthday.

As I opened the site’s page to complete the sale, I noticed my email address went in on my designated field, but not on my husband’s or son’s. Strange, I thought, and went to read up on what I might be doing wrong. As it turned out, each person needs his or her own email address. What? Aren’t I buying the tickets? How come? From NYCC’s twitter feed, I quickly learned that many boyfriends, girlfriends, uncles, aunts and cosplay girls and boys believed as I did.

Suddenly, we were all shut out of living our dream. No 2016 NY ComicCon for us.

I called. The helpful and polite person on the other end verified what in my heart I realized was true: every ticket needs its own email address. If not, we’re very sorry, but we have to refund your money.

First, I wanted to cry.

Then scream.

Then kick myself for not following directions the way I should.

Enthusiasm and past Javitz Center purchasing experiences clouded my decision-making for this event. I hated myself for not following the directions carefully, but then again, why shouldn’t one person be able to buy a couple of tickets? It comes down to a factor more than just hoping to surprise someone with a nice treat: fraud. This convention is so rife with people elbowing out the legit crowd with overpriced scalped tickets, the powers that be decided to try another way.

Unfortunately, there were an awful lot of people like me, and all of us, including me, let NY ComicCon folks know how devastated we all were. All we wanted was a good time, fanning it up with our ilk, grabbing autographs and a pile of merch to take home and savor.

Yet, inside of me, a gut feeling told me to hang on. Just wait, it said, there’s going to be good new yet…

And there was.

Out of the blue, I received a nice, polite email from NY ComicCon. Apparently, they heard us. Chose to do the right thing. Gave us a second chance.

We had a brief window to verify the fans we wanted to purchase tickets for, only 24 hours, but that was more than enough time. I scrambled online and fan verified both my husband and kid. Twenty-four hours after that, I purchased tickets for all three of us.

My heartbreak turned out to be a ticket to heaven. Now we’re all going!

Hope to see you there.

Snap Sci-Fi: Camera   1 comment

All-seeing camera

“Watch me,” said the violator, “as I slip past that thing. No one’d suspect I’d get away with anything, and yet here I am, alone, off to do what I do best.”

“Watch out,” said the partner. “No one gets by the camera. It’s going to capture you in ways you’ll never imagine.”

“How?” said the violator. “What harm can it do? It’s a piece of machinery, nothing more. It only has power if someone actually uses it. And who’ll see me if I do?”

“Someone may,” said the partner. “It might as well be on you. Nothing else to watch ‘cept you.”

“No machine has power over me. None. Let it snap and shoot away. It might as well be blind,” said the violator, and off he went to do the job he did best.

* * *

People still talk about that afternoon as if it were yesterday. Or might be tomorrow.

It started innocently enough. Pick up the girlfriend and the girl, maybe grab a bite to eat and get home before too late. Kid needed sleep and the couple needed each other. Man’s hands held the wheel with a casual grasp, the way one does heading down familiar paths.

Out of the corner of his eye, the quick dance of red and blue flashes bounced off of his rearview. They seemed to be closing in on Man’s car. Next he heard the wail and the growl of a V8 turbo. He shrugged. Wasn’t speeding. Wasn’t texting. Wasn’t doing much of anything except heading in a straight line and stopping for the occasional traffic light. Still, he pulled over just in case he was expected to. Nothing to worry about, right?

Not that day. Not that afternoon.

Nothing Man ever could say ever could matter. Asked what was the matter. Yes, sir, I’ll hand you the ID and yes, I have permission.

Then he became blind, absorbed into the ages, barely fathoming the shattering explosion, the screaming, the surrealistic senselessness of it all.

* * *

Violator begged his innocence. He swore Man’s mere presence posed a threat. That no mistake was made. All his actions were for the safety of his position and his survival of the afternoon shift. Besides, he had no business being here, did he now? Worse, he was carrying. Didn’t matter if he was allowed. How many deaths occurred with permission to use those things, eh?

He didn’t count on the camera actually working. Against him.

That woman clutched it and kept it going. She’d make sure he’d never get past. He’d never get away with it. With the world as her witness, she brandished it as her weapon, more powerful than any instrument on Earth. While the violator kept on doing the job he did best, Woman allowed her camera to do the job it did best.

It captured the Violator in ways he never imagined.

It was anything but blind.

Its power released the outrage of everyone throughout the world.

Snap Sci-Fi – Time to Go   Leave a comment

Assembled robot

“I’m telling’ ya, you’d better’d kick in a little more palm grease before I pull this duty again,” said Rathwalson, a bare-boned bot jerry-rigged from spare parts. “The way you sold this gig to me, I’d thought I’d wind up on the shores of Celestrasia, oiling my joints with some babe. Instead, I’ll be floating toward that rock there, crunching breccia and nothing else.”

“Oh, quit moaning,” said Biff Chesthair. “I’m maneuvering this bucket so close it’ll only be a leap and a step. Else, they’re gonna catch us and switch out your parts. Turn you into something you’re gonna regret. We both know why.”

“How can I not? My repeat circuit keeps showing Chrome and Pewter pissed because I mistook them for Dead Betas. What bot rests? Only boosted their Slether so I can sell it to buy more appendage junk. Hey, they’d do the same to me! And yes, I’m an idiot ’cause I didn’t think they’d have the sense to bury a tracker inside the Slether pack. So, I’m taking it…there,” Rathwalston said, pointing out the porthole to a grim, scarlets-shadowed planet.

“Look, R,” said Thurston Chiseljaw as he strapped a hefty transport box to the back of the unwilling robot. “We got to get rid of that Slether,” he said, referring to the blitz-quick addictive drug, known to bring down bots, babies and everything in between. “We can’t have both the cops and bots chasing us. Already they’re on to us. I’d do it myself if you didn’t play hide-and-seek with my helmet.”

“You lost it in that poker game last night. Now I’m wearing it,” he said, glancing at the lower part of his mechanical torso.

“Yeah, it’s your ass,” said Thurston, “and there’s no way I’m putting that back on my head.”

Meanwhile, Biff struggled with the primitive controls on their stolen ship, a hacked-together collection of gear shifting rods, a metal pegboard box passing as a control panel and a window with a target drawn on it. A few dials sporting unrecognizable symbols proved to be a complete waste of time, signifying nothing useful, to him anyway. He might as well fly blind. After much jiggering, he figured out the correct joystick to turn it towards the unnamed planet only meters away.

“If either of you loose screws wants to pay attention, we’re here. We got an hour, tops. Time to go,” said Biff to Rathwalson.

“I’m already gone. Catch you in five,” Rathwalson said as he slipped through the portal.

Biff and Thurston watched him stream towards the planet’s surface, leaving a faint trail of propulsion fuel in his wake.

An hour passed by. “Come in, Rathwalson. Come in,” Thurston hailed through the barely-functioning radio. “Come in, now, can’t hear you. Where you at?”

Nothing but a sizzle crack of dead air.

“Don’t like this,” said Biff. “Either he’s gone off someplace, or they’ve found us. I’m going down there.”

“I’ll keep watch. Not that we’re a tempting target or anything, but even if Pewter and Chrome are in a good mood, they’ll pick us off just for laughs. I mean, look at this ship,” he said, slapping the metal pegboard box that held the control panel.

Biff tugged on his spacesuit as Thurston readied the propulsion kit. “There’s not much fuel here. Might not be enough to bring back the bot anyway.”

Moments later, he disappeared into the dark abyss, floating towards his destiny.

 Headless Robot

Nothing works like it’s supposed to, thought Biff as he scrambled along the rough surface of the unnamed planet. The tracker’s sending me here, but I’m not picking up signs. 

Without warning, the sky erased it stars, replaced by a great gust of wind, then darkness. After a few foggy minutes, he regained his senses and glanced at his biometer. Oxygen…that’s good. He slipped off his helmet and breathed fresh air. A clink, followed by a ka-terrk, ka-terrk, ga-wheee sound caught his attention.

No…

Leaving his helmet, he raced towards the noise. There stood Pewter and Chrome, disassembling a sizable assembly of bots. Among them was Rathwalson, his various pieces carefully arranged in categories: appendages, intelligence, camera, receptor, and others. That packet of Slether joined others in a bin.

“What took you so long?” said Pewter, as he turned toward Biff, pulling the head off of another bot while Chrome dissected its innards.

“That wasn’t our agreement. You know all the trouble I went through to get this stuff?” said Biff.

“Doesn’t matter,” said Pewter. “You’ve pirated more Slether than anyone this side of the sector. Our profits have vanished.”

“Time to go,” said Chrome, as he rose up from the ground.

“But…but…” Biff whimpered, until he felt the cold metal finger touch his cheeks.

Chrome unscrewed the cap that once served as Biff’s head, placed it on a shelf, and dug within his interior, scooping out the piles of packets of Slether that Biff held captive for far too long. It was time for him to go.

Snap Sci-Fi – “A Close Shave”   Leave a comment

thunder-robots

A Close Shave

Damn them, thought Ranger Radsusky. Didn’t I tell them to go away?

It all started innocently enough. After tinkering around with an old electric shaver she found in the bathroom cabinet, inspiration struck fierce, sizzling her brain with concepts and plans.

“Hmm, let’s see,” she said as she held up the graphene synthesizer in her sunny, garden-girded laboratory. “I’ll put this shaver here on the 3D model conceptualizer, plug in an aerodynamics structure, maybe even a thruster or two. Then I’ll hit the send and blend button.”

Radsusky heard a tinny, unamplified series of musical notes in the distance. “Who’s calling me now?” she said, and turned to leave the room.

Big eyed cat

Mr. Widdles, Radsusky’s inquisitive cat, slunk into the lab through a slightly ajar French window. His feeding implementor Stood in the next room, talking into a small, flat slab of glass and metal. He sniffed around in the meantime.  A flat tray under some kind of big box held a few items of interest. Say, what’s this? Food? Inching closer, he pressed his paws against a tab. Quicker than a flash, the box lit up and weird, strange buzzing noises rattled his eardrums. He ran off, seeking a quieter spot on top of the kitchen counter.

Without warning, the entire laboratory building shook, its foundations cracking. Radsusky threw down her phone and ran into her lab, only to notice four ginormous robotish razors rose from the 3D model conceptualizer. While their bodies resembled electric razors, the cord morphed into some kind of segmented legs. The on-off-clean now lights turned into eyeballs. The bits and pieces of an aerodynamic structure wound up as a kind of wing. Thrusters became fire-shooting appendages. She let out a sigh.

Rough Woman

“Jeez, I can’t even leave for five to talk to my mother? By the look of things, it’s going to be rough from now on,” she said. “These guys aren’t going to play fair. Sheesh, I didn’t have a chance to insert the morals chip. Who’d even believe this? Can’t even think who to call to stop ’em. I’d better get out of here. This roof’s about to crash.”

Sure enough, as soon as Radsusky left the lab, immense bodies rose up from the tray and continued to grow in size and strength. As they did, the lab collapsed around them.

“Go away! Shoo! Beat it!” she yelled, “Go pick on someone your own size!”

One eyed her, raised its arm, set fire to the bushes, and headed towards her. Razor-Bot meant business, and she was its first order of destruction.

“KNOCK IT OFF,” she yelled back, and grabbed a piece of rubble. She flung it hard and fast, sending it directly into Razor-Bot’s eye.

“I’m fed up! Do you hear me–FED UP! I created you! How dare you treat me with such disrespect! Get out of here – NOW!”

Fed Up Woman

One more fling of her lab’s foundation smacked into Razor-Bot’s face. It sent a stream of fire in response. Fortunately, its siblings took off for the field next door, seeing newer venues to destruct. And they were heading right for her friend’s anti-battalion defenses!

“Oh, god…I better’d tell Susie! She’s going to be really pissed if they mess with her nuclear rockets. She just finished putting a new hood on the silo, too.”

She picked through the rubble of her lab and managed to locate her phone. Thank goodness it remained close to the surface. Pressing the speed dial number, Radsusky reached Susie quickly and explained the situation.

“When are you gonna learn?” Susie said, sounding as if she’d had enough of her shenanigans. “I’m really sick of having to chase after your experiments.”

“This’ll be the last time,” Radsusky promised.”

“Liar,” said Susie, and hung up the phone. In her living room stood her munitions cabinet. She glanced at the most suitable tactical anti-bot devices and selected the perfect destroyer.

Not a moment too soon.

Her floor rumbled and wavered. China clinked in the closets. The swag light swayed. “Guess that’s my signal to clean up this mess,” she said, and headed out the door.

Razor-Bots lumbered at a quick clip across her field, heading directly for her nuclear armaments.

“Not today,” Susie said as aimed right for the intruders. She gave the Bot Blaster’s trigger a tight squeeze and shot four times.

Shooting woman

The earth shook as their bot-bodies tumbled and fell, leaving welts in the field where they lay. For a moment, whirring noises could be heard from their insides, until a tall column of steam spewed forth.

“Guess it’s over with,” Susie mumbled as she headed towards them. She kicked the sides of each one of them, hearing only the echo of an empty body of graphene and the ruined promise of an ill-conceived accident gone awry.

Copyright Gretchen Weerheim June 15, 2016

 

 

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