Tag Archives: science fiction

They’re Coming

Another writing club session has come and gone. Here’s my unedited response to yesterday’s writing prompt: Describe a thunder or lightning storm from your front porch or window.

The thunder rumbled in the distance, and Mary’s heart quickened.

“It’s getting closer,” Joe remarked. He opened the screen door, although there was really no need. They had removed the screen some years ago to use for filtering the bugs from their rainwater. All that remained was an empty frame that could be walked through. Joe insisted on opening it though.

“Mommy, they’re getting closer.” Megan toddled over to Mary’s lap, a half-eaten piece of toast in her hand. Mary scooped up the child and held her close.

“I know, baby. It’s just the storm. It will be over soon.” Mary brushed the crumbs from the front of Megan’s over-sized t-shirt, the only thing protecting her from the elements. It had belonged to Frank, before he disappeared two years ago.

“No, Mommy, they’re coming. They’re getting closer.” Megan wrapped her sticky fingers in Mary’s hair. How long had it been since they’d even had access to soap? It was time to make another trip to the spring. After they weathered the storm.

“No, honey, it’s just thunder.” Mary hated lying to Megan. She was hoping and praying that the storm would change direction.

Red Lightning“But, Mommy, the colors are red…” Megan whispered.

Mary’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest. “How do you know?” She forced herself to ask. She wanted to throw up.

“See, Mommy?” Megan pointed as another flash of lightning lit the sky.

“No, baby, only Joe can see that.” Joe and…Frank had been able to see the color shift too. But had they ever talked about the colors in front of Megan? They had always done everything they could to protect her from the truth.

Another crash sounded, closer this time, disrupting Mary’s thoughts.

Joe appeared behind her suddenly. He must have stepped through the door frame. Something about that bothered Mary more than anything. He was finally ready to leave his fantasy world of normalcy and security. He raised his rifle and stared into the horizon as a tear escaped from Mary’s eye.

Another streak of lightning burned into Mary’s vision. She closed her eyes, but could still see the image. It was accompanied by the dreaded crash.

In unison, Megan and Joe murmered, “They’re here.”

 

Okay, so these are my thoughts: First of all, I would go back and change Megan’s name. I didn’t think of it at the time, but I don’t like having two female characters whose names both begin with the same letter. I’m afraid the reader might get the two of them mixed up. Secondly, I might have Mary refer to Megan as “the baby,” just as though they never bothered naming her. Life is too tough to worry about such trivial matters. But I think this would only work in a longer piece where I have time to make Mary feel guilty that they never named her. Third, I wouldn’t have Mary refer to the red lightning as “the colors.” That’s fine for Megan, since she doesn’t have a developed vocabulary, but Mary wouldn’t think of them that way. She might say aura, or they would probably actually have a name for these entities that are on their way. Or I might choose, “But had they ever talked about the color differences in front of Megan?” Fourth, in the beginning, when Joe opens the screen door, I forgot to mention that he was going into the house. Fifth, instead of making a trip to the spring, I’d say stream or river. When I read it aloud, all I could think of was the season of spring, not the body of water. Sixth, instead of red, I might choose yellow. Then Mary could say “all lightning is yellow,” while she worried about whether Megan had the ability to see the color shift. Seventh, when Mary says, “only Joe can see that,” I need to have her arguing internally with herself too. There’s no way Megan can see the difference. This can’t be happening. She’s just imagining. She’s overheard us talking at night – we weren’t quiet enough, etc. If the Council finds out she can see the color shift, they’ll need her at headquarters. They’ll come and take her away… Last, I might take away Joe’s abilities completely, even though he is nervous about the storm. I might imply that Megan is Frank’s daughter and has inherited his “gift.”

What do you all think? Would you make other changes? Would my editing ideas make the story better or worse?

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/73003003@N07/6721566553″>lightning</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Prologue to Reluctant Liaison

The following is the prologue for my work in progress, Reluctant Liaison. How I wound up writing science fiction, I’ll never know. I’ve always been more attracted to fantasy myself. The premise of the story just landed on me one day, and with NaNo looming, I couldn’t not write it. I still have a very long way to go, but I hope this whets your appetite! Enjoy!

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends.

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends.

Zao Janeg stood on the waiting platform, checking his tie one more time and looking at the sky. It was evening, and the first star had appeared on the horizon. Its given name was Noree, but only the scientists called it that. No, to him it always was, and always would be, the Twilight Star. He checked his watch once again. 7:52. Never had the minutes ticked by so slowly. Someone in the crowd cleared his throat. Probably one of the other Ambassadors. Funny, he never expected to act as Ambassador in his hometown, or for that matter, in any town surrounded by water. He flipped his wrist over again. 7:52. Hmph. They were supposed to make Primary Contact at 7:54 and 38 seconds. Two minutes to go.

He pulled his sportscoat closer as the first chill swept through the air. Winter. It was coming. Oh, God, let me live through this Winter. I promise to make you the Center. Of all. Of me. My life to Thee. He recited the ancient mantra without thinking about it. It had always given him hope as a boy, even though he didn’t understand a couple of the words. It was coming. But would they even live to see Winter 2699? If only the Visitors could be friendly. Or weak. But how could they be weak? They had obviously mastered interplanetary travel, maybe more. They probably had weapons of mass destruction. Maybe they were even the ones who had leveled the Inner Land, hundreds of years ago. But perhaps they were peaceful. One could only hope. Maybe they held the cure for cancer, AIDS, or Yearms. Maybe even Winter. But that was too much to hope for. No one had ever mastered the weather.

Zao felt moisture trickle down his fingertips. Annoyed, he glanced at his wrist, then shook his head. Why do things like this always happen to him at the worst possible time? This could well be the defining moment of his career – of his life. And his watch was leaking. He delved into his pocket and found a plastic bag. (At least he had finally learned not to leave home without one.) In what he hoped was a discreet manner, he swept the watch off his wrist and into the bag. In a matter of seconds, the bag was back in his pocket, heavy with its fresh content. Zao just hoped that the reporters were too focused on the sky to have noticed.

7:54. Tie: straight. Smile: plastered. Knees: ready to buckle, but what could he do about that?

Grrrhhh! His hands flew to his ears as he responded to the sudden eardrum-numbing noise, but it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t shut out the piercing scream. It was a sound he had never heard before. Nor had anyone on this planet. The shrieking reverberation of lightspeed engines slowing suddenly to a halt. Then, as quickly as the noise began, it ceased. But the throbbing pain in his head continued to remind him of the Visitors’ attention-grabbing entrance. Was that really necessary, or was it a just a tactic to put us off our guard?

The ship was not as large as he had been expecting. Maybe it was just a scout ship, and they would come swarming in later in larger numbers. If he had to die this way, at least he wouldn’t have to struggle through another Winter. Death would mean respite, and with the impending doom of Winter on its way, the prospect of an easy death was looking better by the day. The ship had settled. Any minute now the door would open, and the monsters would reveal themselves. No! Mustn’t think of them that way. That would just create negative vibes, and heaven knows, there were enough of those in the group to make up for any that he may lack. Soon the Visitors would reveal themselves. Soon the door would open. They would come face to face. Any minute now. What was taking them so long? Were they preparing weapons?

Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. He tugged at the knot in his tie. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Why was he here? Standing here on this platform, right at this moment? I should never have taken that call. She told me not to take the call. Could he sneak away without been seen? Without being stopped by security? He’d never work again, but would it really be all that bad? Moving to the Inner Land, away from society? They said that the Inner-Landers had to scavenge for food. It is said that they take their food in solid form. Now, he had been known to indulge a tomato every now and again himself. Nobody’s perfect. But all solid foods? Unthinkable! They were even rumored to hunt, whatever that means. He had never asked; the word was always spoken with extreme distaste, and he wanted nothing to do with hunting. So I guess I’m seeing this thing through.

The door! It’s open! A silhouette slowly emerged in the doorway. The head was perfectly spherical, reminding him of the old space comics he had read as a young teen. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Make peace. Give gifts. Offer hope. Make friends. Zao took a step forward. Then another. Make peace. Give gi…

“Greetings!” The Visitor called to Zao with an ancient salutation. An ancient English salutation.

What could this mean? Zao panicked. I have to get away! Why am I here! How did I get here!