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In Even Paris & Rome

I was listening to “Home” on the radio last night – turns out it’s originally Michael Bublé but I listen to country – and, not for the first time, it struck me that the narrator sounded a little cursed. 

So here we have this. 

🛬 ✈️ 🛫

The taxi smelled strongly of mould and smoke and seemed to hit every bump on the way from the airport to  the hotel. Blake tipped the driver $20 anyway. It was probably not the lady’s fault, after all.

The hotel was a nice one — they always were — but the building next door was undergoing demolition.   The banging followed Blake up the stairs — he’d learned, about elevators — to the tenth floor and into his room.

His next plane tickets and hotel reservations were waiting for him.  Only once in all his time had they not been there, and that time didn’t bear thinking about. 

He shook out his clothes from his carry-on — after losing checked luggage three times, he’d given up — and hung them in the bathroom, put a laundry bag put for Housekeeping, and sat down at the rickety table.

He picked up the room phone and dialed.  555-908-7857. He’d dialed that number so often he called it in his sleep.

In his dreams, someone picked up.  In the good dreams, she picked up.

“The number you have dialed is unavailable.   Please hang up.”

Blake hung up.  He pulled a tiny bourbon from the hotel minibar — legit Kentucky bourbon,  here in… he checked the hotel stationery — Rome. He drank it straight straight from the bottle, finishing it in two swallows, before he considered the hotel stationery again. 

He pulled the curtains open to look at the demolition,  opened the window, and let the dusty air wash over him.

The hotel-branded ballpoint pen worked.  He pulled over a clean sheet of paper and began.

Aug 12, 2011

Rome looks like dust today,  but the sky is bright blue, like the river down past Johnson’s where we used to fish.  

I want to come home.

I slept well on the plane, despite the crying baby.  I feel bad for the kid. It wasn’t her fault.

I want to come home.

All in all, it’s a good day.  I hope yours is going well, too.

I miss you,

Why won’t they let me go home?

Blake. 

 

He folded up the letter carefully, smoothing each crease.  He dug the box out of the bottom of his carry-on, a cookie tin he’d bought, sharing the cookies with the pigeons in — he thought it had been Paris, it might have been Versailles — until he had the perfect size for his rubber-banded stack of letters. 

He had to push the lid shut over the letters now.  It would be time for a second tin, soon. 

Just let me come home

“I want to travel the world.”  He tested the words. They sounded dirty, dusty now, now like they had when he was twenty and full of himself.  Forget this stupid town.

Who knew the elders of his hometown were quite so temperamental — or quite so magical?

According to his tickets — and they were never wrong — he’d be here for almost three whole days.  Blake changed his shirt and headed out for a drink, giving the tin of letters one last pat on the way out. 

 

Post-Scar City – continued

So … let me know what you think about this one?

The Earthers that greeted them as they disembarked were nothing like Adeline had expected. 

They were wearing clean, smooth skirted jumpsuits that were clearly some sort of uniform, little booties with flat heels, and masks covering their noses and mouths.  They immediately handed Adeline and the other Habitaters with her the same sort of masks. 

“It can take up to three weeks for the immune system boosters to completely kick-in,” one of the Eathers explained.  “Until then, you want to avoid as much fluid-to-fluid contact with new people as possible.”

Adeline shared a look with Geordi.  As if they didn’t know basic health protocols! Continue reading

Post-Scarcity Mystery

This story started after a binge-listen of Isaac Arthur’s Science & Futurism videos. With Post-Scar City, it’s one of those I-might-continue sorts of things.

~*~

The coffee shop was Teri’s favorite part of the arcology, and that was saying something. 

It had a prime location, by some ways of looking at things – it overlooked one of the farm quadrants, so it had sunlight for most of the day through its broad windows.  Looking that way, you could almost forget you were hundreds of feet above ground. You could almost forget that out the front door was a hallway and a slidewalk that would take you where you wanted to go, instead of a road. 

That wasn’t really why Teri liked it, nor that the barista who worked there most weekdays had stunningly blue eyes and a generous smile, nor the adorable foam art that always seemed inspired by something “outside” in the fields. 

There was this corner table that looked out over the field but was half-hidden by the cream-and-sugar station, and, sitting there, Teri could decide how much people was a good amount for the day.  And, sitting there, tablet and stylus and coffee and scone, Teri could spend hours floating, drawing whatever came to mind, and go back to Residential Ring Three with something done that sparked that amazing feeling of I did something good today

The bright smile and the way the blue-eyed barista would sometimes wink helped, too.  Continue reading

Post-Scar City – a beginning

So: I had something on my fiction list titled post-scarcity, and LilFluff, in his… Fluffiness, called for Post-Scar City. 

Technically, it’s a Post-Scar University, with some influence from The 100 and AM Harte’s Above Ground.

This is an introductory chapter.  Don’t know what I’ll do with it after this, but it does seem to, well, introduce things.

🏫

Adeline pressed up close to the screen that showed their descent, wedging between two taller people that she didn’t know while still trying not to lose her hold on Geordi’s hand.  “It looks… green.  Really green.”

“I’ve never seen so much green,” one of the tall people agreed.  She peeked up, but she didn’t recognize their faces, either.  They were tall, and blue-eyed, with dark hair, and both of them looked the same.  They must have either come from one of the other Habitats, or from the other side of Lazarus Habitat. “It doesn’t —  It can’t– where are the scars?”

“There ought to be scars.”  Geordi’s right hand moved in the signs he used to talk most of the time.  “There ought to be — black, grey.”

She twitched her free hand in the same method.  “It looks like a hydro suite.  Or the sort of things that they show on vids of Before Times.”

Geordi had implants, had since he was ten, but they’d met in the creche, and when it came down to it, he’d always be more comfortable with sign than with spoken language. Continue reading

The Tuesday House

The house was only there sometimes.

Pau had first noticed it on a hunting run on a rainy day and had, when the rain became too intense, hidden under its very broad overhangs.

The next time up the mountain, Pau tried to find the house — but nothing was there.

Pau didn’t go up the mountain every day, only when food was needed and the weather was supposed to be good (or when food was really needed and the weather wasn’t supposed to be horrible ), and not on any particular schedule, since sometimes the hunting came down the mountain on its own and sometimes a trader passed through their little settlement and then they had things like cheese and sausage and, sometimes, spices. Continue reading

Putting Out Fires (and Lighting Others)

This one is just sort of silly.  Maybe an intro to something?

🚒

Perfect is the enemy of Good

That’s engraved on the lintel of our headquarters.

Well, it would be, but what’s really there is Firehouse 14.

It’s a good building, and the fire company has since moved somewhere else, bigger place, I think, more poles.

We moved in the way we do most things – quickly, efficiently, with a minimum of excess energy.

Which means, of course (of course) that I’m sleeping in an old firemen’s dormitory and so are the other seven of us.

We put out fires, after all.  Sort of. Sometimes we light them.

We’re the Cleaning Team, which is kind of a funny name for us, but it’s what we came up with while drinking vodka one night.  We get things done.

We don’t get them done cheaply.  We don’t get them done elegantly.  We get them done on time and well. (You know: on time, in budget, in scope, pick two.)

And we get them done – if not cleanly, then “cleanly.”

That is.  If it is illegal or questionably moral, It will never come back to us.  It will never come back to you.

If it is shining and bright and just needs to be done quickly, you will get all the lauds and we will be invisible.

Just don’t ask questions.

That, we actually have a sign for, on the front desk, next to the “Quick And Dirty, Done” sign that our secretary came up with.

(We do actually have a “don’t kill the client” clause in our (unwritten) contracts, but that one has its own escape clause (Our contracts are the one thing we didn’t do quick nor dirty).)

Perfect is the enemy of Good.

And let me tell you, you want it done, we can get it done Quick and really, really Good.

 


Written to May 16th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt.

Want more?

Thimbleful Thursday: Here and There

“But who are you?” The woman at the gate was staring at the interloper. “What is your name and what are you doing here?”

“What I am doing here, I have already told you.” The woman popped up her umbrella as an unseasonable and unexpected rain began. “I am here to speak to Madam Thare Oliphant.”

“The current mistress of the house is not Thare Oliphant, and hasn’t been in two hundred and seventy-two years.”

“You’re remarkably well-informed for a gate guard.” Continue reading

Thimbleful Thursday: Envelope

“What…. what is it?”

Esuyp had been locked up in the old building for months on end, emerging only to do her required part of the settlement’s labor and fix the things that needed fixing, sometimes to eat and even more rarely to sleep.  Qiameth had been running back and forth between Esuyp’s workshop — so they all assumed it was — and the old school buildings, muttering to herself.

Now the thing — the result of every minute of leisure time for two people for over half a year in a settlement where everyone was working steadily — was out in the middle of the Green and the whole settlement was staring at it.

“What is it?” repeated the Eldest.   Continue reading

Reformed?

Okay, this was supposed to be short.  It is not short.  It is a riff off of a comment from a request for dark fic prompts from like 2 months ago. 

It took a while.

Superhero on Twitter Twemoji 12.0

Damon Rudd had not meant to reform. He had been living a perfectly happy life destroying anything at that pissed him off, thwarting people who got his way (heroes with overdeveloped moral senses usually, Golden Hawk and Wise Ibis and the like), being amazingly rich and getting richer, and more or less doing whatever he wanted to do. This had been working fine, until, walking behind one of his businesses, he found a woman and two children digging for food in his dumpster.  This, Damon found, pissed him off.  But because he was not an idiot, he was able to see that what pissed him off was not the woman.  Continue reading