Grandmama’s First Human, Part 3

Noticing the glazed eyes on her tiny audience, she sighed. So much she needed to tell them and they were still so little. They were far too young to understand the toll on her health her pregnancy, escape and acclimatization to this strange little wet rock of a planet had taken. Normally, a Cy-et her age could easily expect to live more than long enough to see her 350th of this planet’s years. But would she even see these two become adults? Who could say?

No matter. She couldn’t rush them so for tonight, she skipped all the boring details of hibernation and how many times she’d awakened to perform various necessary functions – all important things for a variety of reasons far more important than 1W-7’s insistence on getting the details right.  For now, they just wanted a funny story from their grandmama. So be it.

“Well, I finally came out of hibernation to see a much changed view – and an open pod hatch. The air was strange – so many things I’d never scented before. And the trees that had been barren and snowy were vibrant with greenery. Much improved, I must say.”

“I climbed out of the pod and spent a few hours getting used to the rock’s gravity and convincing my legs to once again bear my weight. 1W-7 will tell you I stumbled about for three point six hours but never you mind, I got my planet legs back quickly enough. It had been five years since I’d last stood up on a planet – not so easy a transition as you might think.”

Grandmama’s First Human, Part 2

“Mind you, once we came to rest, 1W-7 was absolutely beside herself, prattling on about the pod condition, my condition and any other condition she could think of. We were both in one piece which was enough for me right then. We argued a bit, but she finally admitted it was a solid landing, we weren’t in immediate danger and it was too bloody dark outside to do anything about it even if we were.”

She paused, smiling, “I got a very good night’s sleep, once all the excitement was over. It was light out once my sleep cycle was over. I could see well enough to tell what I already knew – we were in a hole in the ground. I couldn’t see and 1W-7 couldn’t find any apparent artificial habitations. What I could see were miles of frozen water vapor covering absolutely everything. I did have to admit she was right about this planet being a wet rock.”

“We did some more bandying about but 1W-7 had already completed all her EVA assessments – we’d landed in the planet’s northernmost hemisphere during its coldest phase. There was nothing for it really but for us both to go into hibernation mode for then time 1W-7 estimated it would take for the phase to end. The temperature was within my survival range, but her blasted escape hatch was frozen shut.”

Grandmama sighed, “My lovely landing had super heated the frozen water vapor which had immediately cooled to water, splashed all over the pod and promptly froze solid. Tiny little one seater – should have taken the big one, I suppose.”

Grandmama’s First Human

“So, what story shall Grandmama tell her poppets tonight?” the voice on the other end of the video call asked pleasantly.

The boy turned shyly away but spoke loudly, “The funny one!”

“Ah, a wise choice indeed, my little Tom. Now, where shall I begin?” The prim English didn’t match the slight Russian accent anymore than the youthful face fit the title grandmother, but neither child would have cared even if they could have noticed. “Best to start at the beginning…”

The girl shook her head, “We know that part!”

“Oh, do you now? Well, do tell.”

“You ran away from the evil queen and came here. ‘The big, sopping wet rock flinging around a dinky little star hiding in the outer spiral arm so no one would notice it’.”

“My, my, Tammy, you were paying attention. Alright then…” she cleared her throat slightly then picked up the story. “The pod’s AI, 1W-7, was a bit of what you would call ‘snarky’, but it was correct. I’d been to many worlds, but none like this one. So full of life and resources yet so far from civilization. 1W-7 hated it, but to me, it was perfect.”

“Tonight, I shan’t bore you with the trivial details of successfully landing a pod never intended to go dirt side – a fair bit of piloting and only a tiny crater if I do say so myself – stop wrinkling you nose, Tom…”

The children dutifully lay on their tummies, pillows under their chins and tucked in their little blankets. Tom smiled shyly and their grandmother continued.

The Dogman Chronicles: Dogboy and Rover, Part Five

Morning at the office, I’m on time and I don’t look anything like I feel. I’m certain, because when Sonya brought in my coffee, she didn’t fuss about my health. An hour later, she hadn’t sent anyone in to check on me so I’d clearly passed the morning inspection.

I got the chores all done – email, correspondence, decisions – all the stuff that Sonya needs me to actually do. It took two hours – this probably means I’m not nearly as necessary for my own company as I think I am.

Regardless, I had Sonya make lunch reservations and call Bartlett for the invite. I’d be paying for top sirloin at a suitably well enough starred restaurant for both of us, partially to make up for the last two weeks and partially to butter him up for the favor I’d need to ask.

I’m glad John isn’t a woman – he knows me so danged well that Sonya would be trying to get us hitched if he were – I’m not sure the fact that he’s already married would stop her. half way through a really good steak, he had already figured out what I was up to. Well, it does save time but it’s also annoying.

Neither of us smoke but John used to, long before he married. He still has that push back, getting ready to light up after a meal habit only now he fulfills his need by twirling silverware. Idly twirling a knife through his fingers, he gave me a wry glance, “So, what is it this time?”

I took a sip of the red wine I hadn’t yet finished and pushed my plate away. “Do you remember the Henderson case about a year ago?”

He nodded, not missing a beat with his twirling act, “Sure, would be terrorist who’s only accomplishment was to scare the heck out of some kids, right?”

“That’s the one.” I nodded, easing back in my chair, “I took it as a favor to a friend. he made some threats on social media, did what, six months? And then decided to make some more.”

“Sure, I remember. He got three years in the Federal pen. Should be out next year if he… What?”

I was shaking my head, “He’s dead. Killed by another inmate about a month ago. Some idiot sent him to a max.”

John stopped the twirling. I could see he did recall not only the case, but Henderson. That butterball wannabe had no business in a prison population filled with killers and worse. Neither of us would have said he didn’t deserve the time – he did, especially after some of the threats he made. But he didn’t deserve death for being a jackass.

“Hadn’t heard.”

“Me neither until last night. Someone is very interested in that case – interested enough to try to break into my computer files. I need to know why.”

John resumed twirling, “I’ll take that to mean you already have a who. No connection?”

I shook my head, “None I can find.”

Bartlett nodded absently, “Give me what you’ve got and I’ll see what I can do. Davidson worked that case, as I recall. ”

I finished my wine, “Yeah, which is why I need you. We weren’t friends so I haven’t heard from him since his retirement.”

“He’s still investigating – you wouldn’t believe me if I told you what – but I still hear from him. I’ll give him a call and see what he remembers.”

True Slayers: Heroes, Part Two

The man crossed the street to Crystal’s side of the block. His foot hit the curb and he wheeled immediately toward Chambers, making a beeline for him. My brain conceded to my gut – this was it.

Nothing else moved. Chambers pretended not to notice. As he closed the distance I had a vague sense of an approaching slayer but I couldn’t be sure if that was my senses or just what I expected. It wasn’t strong – not like it should be for an unconcealed slayer. But this guy had layer upon layer of subtly – I didn’t believe he wasn’t concealed, that wouldn’t make any sense.

I had the same vague sense of the other slayers around me and the creatures as well, although only Chambers was unconcealed. Expectation, not reality, I concluded and forgot about it. My job was at hand.

He stopped in the middle of the street. he glanced around, not particularly interested in the scenery that I could tell. It was the causal glance of habit, not the studied searching of paranoia.

No, he wasn’t that cocky – he knew we were here. Had to – it was an obvious trap, after all. So it was ego that brought him here – that and a bit of desperation, I suspected.

He stared briefly at Chambers and shook his head dismissively as if to say, no, that’s not why I’m here. Fine by me, I thought, I’d much rather you tried that. But you’re making the first move, not me.

Ten seconds became an eternity. If my senses had been heightened before, they were in the stratosphere now. Reality played out frame by frame, all in high definition. I knew he was moving before he moved. The thing I thought least likely – typical. This guy didn’t like to be predicted.

Size makes no difference to Nyota, as long as it’s a spear. She’d had dozens of them in her arsenal – the one she used now wasn’t as big as a dagger but it found its mark before his hand cleared his coat. He dropped the gun, unable to hold it with her spear in his wrist. He didn’t even spare her a look.

He glanced up toward me. He wasn’t so much challenging me as re-assessing his options. He did not fluster easily – but I’d expected that. Nyota slipped back into the shadows. Chambers just sat. We waited.

He causally pulled the blade from his arm, as if he were dealing with a kid’s bubble gum. The blood dripped slower now, the sure sign of a slayer. Not that I’d had any doubts.

I felt the change and made my own. Now it was a battle of wills – which one of us would Chambers obey. A few weeks earlier, there would have been no contest but that was his mistake. If he wanted to take me out, he should have done it when I was weak. I wasn’t weak now.

Chambers grunted, almost groaned, from the conflict taking place in his spirit. He might want to obey me, but Vinnie wasn’t going to let that happen, if he could stop it.

Time stopped. Nothing moved, nothing seemed to breathe, but the battle raged. Chambers got up but just stood, not yet able to resolve the conflicting orders. I should have wondered how that was affecting him but instinctively knew that I had only one priority or I’d lose. And I wasn’t going to lose.

I don’t know how long it went on – a lot longer than it seemed. My focus was on the battle as was Vinnie’s. I’m sure he didn’t notice, either, because he just kept fighting me. Cocky didn’t begin to describe this guy’s ego. Did he think if he beat me he could handle two freaking ancients that serve the Mistress directly? Heck, maybe the idiot did. I’ll never know, I don’t suppose.

Things were happening but neither of us were aware. It ticked me off – he was so danged strong. That didn’t make me fear losing – it made me mad and more determined. the harder we fought, the more determined I became.

That should have scared me – did much later – because this was nothing like me. Sure, I’d been in fights, won and lost them, but I was the one that cut them off before they began, mare than wanting to fight them. This wasn’t like me – in a way, it was like someone else had replaced me and I was just watching on the sidelines – but at the same time it was very much me myself in the fight. Determined, angrier than I’d ever been, steely nerves, coldly dispassionate, and not giving an inch – a warrior with a battle to win.

I didn’t know who was ahead, where the battle stood – it seemed too early to tell so that didn’t bother me. Then, something happened that demanded my attention – Chambers was moving toward the building but not at my direction.

What? How the heck had that happened?

Vinnie lost his concentration first – that was some consolation later. It gave me a chance to look at Chambers. What I saw I didn’t believe. Three of the folks from his building were pulling him inside, away from Vinnie.

Vinnie and I both started looking around the street, he was probably more shocked than I was but not by a lot. The empty street was full now – even Mrs. Elmore in her wheelchair was out. All the neighbors – everyone who lived on that block and parts of the next two, were standing in the street. People were moving, getting between Vinnie and Chambers.

The gun was gone. I had enough sense to look and saw Nyota walking back to her station with it. Good, someone had some brains – I wasn’t counting myself at the moment. At the moment, I was too busy breaking into a cold sweat. A slayer isn’t someone you trifle with and there were way too many innocents – normal people – way too close to him. That gun couldn’t be his only weapon – it was probably a show of contempt. Vinnie was dangerous and surrounded by the people I cared about.

I was halfway down the left side fire escape before I knew I’d moved. I could hear Crystal above me, to the right, also at a dead run heading down. Mertyn and Tresmayne had dropped most of their concealment – enough that Vinnie couldn’t not know they were there but without scaring the pants off everyone else. Slayers were following suit, it felt like little explosions going off as every slayer made sure Vinnie knew he had a lot more than normal humans to deal with if he started anything.

I was on the ground, and completely unwilling to trust Vinnie’s sanity when Mr. Myers caught my arm. “Wait,” he hissed, “listen to them. Don’t rush in!”

Crystal skidded to a stop beside us and we listened.

Leave the Thing Alone

Okay, Star Trek kinda got me thinking about this one as well.

Last night I dreamed about a boy and his pet stork. At one point they are stranded and the stork saves the boy by fishing for them both. It was a beautiful, realistic dream. The stork was a real bird that was inseparable from the boy. Visually, it was very cinematic.

The trouble starts near the end of the dream when my writer brain butted in. Storks aren’t long lived. The end of summer and the end of the dream should also coincide with the end of the stork. So I wrote in a poignant death for the pet stork.

That woke me up. I left the boy grieving at the grave of his pet. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I finally realized why – I had ruined the story. It should have ended with the boy and the stork daily reuniting after school. Time passing and new hurdles but life going on.

I rewrote it in my head and went back to sleep.

Lesson: leave the thing alone. It is okay to let the story end where it should. It is okay to end in the happy place in the middle rather than force it to the logical end. Happy endings aren’t unrealistic unless written badly. If all endiings were sad or depressing humanity would have committed mass suicide long since.

Good is just as realistic as bad. Dark and gritty are just more depressing, not more realistic.

True Slayers: Reckoning, Part Thirty

It’s a good thing I love that guy – I’m supposed to be telling this part!

It also helps when he’s telling me to do things that make no sense at all. I climbed up on the roof and was coming over the edge as Tresmayne came out of the attic. I nodded and headed for the front of the building.

Some things just look fake. Roland is not the kind of guy that yells at anyone – let alone in the middle of the street. Mrs. Schmidt doesn’t yell – I’d never heard her raise her voice before. But there they were, screaming at each other with the entire neighborhood watching. It looked as contrived as it was.

But watching the show was not my job – finding out who else might be watching was. Tresmayne transformed and once my heart stopped pounding, I followed him to the roof of Roland’s building.

Yes, I’ve seen werewolves transform before – but never a traditional. Yikes! Slayer or not, that is just frightening! Anyway, we went around the whole block then the adjacent block. We hit every roof for three blocks either side of ours – both sides of the street. If Vinnie was around, he wasn’t on a roof top.

He’d have to be concealed – otherwise we’d have sensed him. Or at least Tresmayne would have. He had to be either in an alley looking out, blended into the crowd or in one of the buildings. Tresmayne and I had eliminated rooftops.

James and Mr. Myers had eliminated alleyways in the same fashion Tresmayne and I had eliminated rooftops. Ayami and Mr. Schmidt went through the crowd with the same result. If Vinnie was here, he was watching from a window. But whose?

 

Me – a Poem

Loser.
Trash.
Worthless.
Discarded.
Unwanted.
Stupid.
If you would only.
Why don’t you just.
What’s wrong with you.
The voices – some aloud, some silent – accuse.
Abuse.
Misuse.
Dismiss.
Deny.
Walk away.
Too hard to help.
Too much trouble.
Not worth the effort.
The voices – some outside, some inside – retire.
Leave.
Go.
Quit.
Stop bothering.
Stop caring.

Enough.

Picked up.
Dusted off.
Tears dried.
Hugged.
Loved.
Fixed.
The still small voice – His voice – silences all others.
His love is greater than all my flaws.
His love remains when all others leave.
His love isn’t conditional on my perfection, but my acceptance.
His love doesn’t fail.
His love doesn’t quit.
No one is too hard, too broken, too anything for Him to love.

In turn,
Following.
Stumbling.
Growing.
Changing.
Becoming.
Loving.
Loving even the voices that made me once feel worthless.
For I am loved.

-PLM

 

Originally posted on Theology Web and Larilee’s blog.

Posted here because I meant to post it here first… I miss my brain, really, I do.

 

Me

(Note: posting this here and my other blog. Originally posted on Theology Web)

 

 

Loser.
Trash.
Worthless.
Discarded.
Unwanted.
Stupid.
If you would only.
Why don’t you just.
What’s wrong with you.
The voices – some aloud, some silent – accuse.
Abuse.
Misuse.
Dismiss.
Deny.
Walk away.
Too hard to help.
Too much trouble.
Not worth the effort.
The voices – some outside, some inside – retire.
Leave.
Go.
Quit.
Stop bothering.
Stop caring.

Enough.

Picked up.
Dusted off.
Tears dried.
Hugged.
Loved.
Fixed.
The still small voice – His voice – silences all others.
His love is greater than all my flaws.
His love remains when all others leave.
His love isn’t conditional on my perfection, but my acceptance.
His love doesn’t fail.
His love doesn’t quit.
No one is too hard, too broken, too anything for Him to love.

In turn,
Following.
Stumbling.
Growing.
Changing.
Becoming.
Loving.
Loving even the voices that made me once feel worthless.
For I am loved.

-PLM