Wednesday, February 16, 2011

River: 10thDOM February Challenge, Muse 4: En Plein Air

Where the hell have you been, Leah? I've been worried like some newborn baby's mother. You HAVE to contact me. Every day. Or I'm pulling you. Got it?”
I'm sorry, Ian. I know. Believe me. It's just that...”
You were drinking?”
It's complicated.”
Of course it's complicated if you're drinking again!”
Ok, fine. I was drinking. But you told me to become “one of the guys” and it was a dare, and...”
Do you know how many times I've heard this story?”
Yes. OK! I do! But this time it was different.”
Ok, so shall we go into how many times I've heard that follow-up? Leah. I was there once. I know. I KNOW. But there comes a time when you have to admit that you can't beat it alone. That you need people. Help. Help from people who love you.”
Yeah well, you know my entire history, how many people who “loved” me actually helped?”

Lon did. He was helping you. And I do know that you're in a pressure cooker, and I do know that it's been a long time in it, but do you really want to risk it all now? For a buzz?”
She really didn't have a snappy come-back now that the conversation had steered off a tad of its all too-familiar path.
They origami'd me.” That ought to distract him away from her “problem”.
Are you KIDDING me? They're already out there?”
Yup. Folded itself up. I had to fish it out of the toilet bowl full of vomit.”
That's not how it's supposed to be retrieved! It's supposed to stay in the victim indefinitely, or at least until they've got what they needed it to get.”
Yeah well, they probably hadn't counted on this victim's gag reflex.”
Is that what you call it these days?”
She ignored that. One of the problems of having your contact also be your best friend is that Ian knows too much. But it's almost unavoidable when your life's mission means that you have to sever contact with all previous relationships for the safety of all involved. Who else then can understand what she's going through without being put in extreme danger? Who else can she really talk to? She didn't mean for it to happen. It just did. Maybe one of these days they'll actually meet face to face. Although she has a pretty vivid mental image of him, maybe breaking the spell would ruin it all. Think kid finding out Santa isn't real. Maybe there isn't a man who understands her, listens well, and cares deeply. Maybe he's just doing it for the mission.
I gotta go, Ian. Gotta check if the chip is still in play, and then try to fish what I can out of the origami and see what damage has been done to my cover.”
Good. I expect an update tomorrow morning.”
Ok, yes, sheesh.”
Don't scare me again, you hear?”
Yea yea. Quit nagging, grandma.”

Leah heads straight for the vodka, dumps a good couple ounces in a cup, adds the banana extract and water. She usually downs her poison straight, but she's had way too much throat trauma the last 24 hours. If it's coming back up, now it won't be quite as bad. She learned about the bananas from a fellow...patient. Even Ian doesn't know about that chapter.   If he had any inkling, he wouldn't let her continue.
Having set the stage for max productivity, she hits the zone as usual. When she has something to chew on and plan, it's her habit to call up old movies from the late 19th century, go on autopilot as far as the movie is concerned, and let it free her brain to free-style. All that damn ADHD crap from earlier society was such a joke. The ones who couldn't “concentrate” were the ones who were light years smarter than the others. Of course they couldn't prove it at the time...but hell. Wouldn't be the first time that later science shed more light. Leeches for example. Just because those affected could do ten things at once didn't make them any less capable of living in society. Hell, it made them better. And more employable. Who would you rather hire? The kid who can only follow steps in a row, or the kid who can do ten things at once and well, but he might be late. “Got distracted.”

How does John McClane's “wife beater” tank go from white with blood stains to all over puke green with blood stains? She tries to spot the change every time she watches. They probably lost that piece of continuity in the editing room, but it bugs her. Yeah, bugs. That's where she was. She'd been bugged. By whom? Maybe it's just the Feds. Testing their newest toy. Or maybe it's actually the manufacturer, still performing clandestine field testing. Or, maybe they found her. That she can barely tolerate considering.

As the retired ballet dancer pokes at the duct work where John is hiding, Leah construct what she can of a time-line for her last week. No telling how long she'd been bugged, but it's somewhere to start.
It's rather an eye-opener to see all the hours she puts into her work. And how little into herself. When was the last time she got to do what she really wanted? She's been on this station two years. Though the simulators are state of the art, you really can't substitute a computer program for the real deal. They try, but the programmers can't capture the scent of a forest or an open, windswept meadow. She's taken all the hikes available. What she really wants is real air. Fresh air. Air that tickles the tendrils of her hair escaping her pony tail and caresses her with familiar scents. But she can't leave the station until next year. Well, unless she gets sent to Olympia. At least the air there is real, even though not much else is.

Muse 0 here
Muse 1  here
Muse 2 here
Muse 3  here

To read the other entries in this challenge, go here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

River: 10thDOM February Challenge, Muse 3

Parental Advisory:  Rated R for language and sexual references.  Gotta go with what they gave me.  Muse 3  is "Fuck Origami".

It was a great relief to learn that her missing hours earned her only a slap on the wrist. Next mission involving Olympia, she has to take it. Of all the colonies the Titans patrol, Olympia has got to be the shittiest shit hole of them all. Think Las Vegas of Earth, early 20th century. All glitzy and enticing on the outside. Corruption, greed, hedonism on the inside. And none of the newly created “Agencies of Protection” have been able to break the age old cycle of payola, looking the other way, and if no one gets hurt why the hell do you care. Then add the new wave of personalized drugs, enhanced virtual reality, and the trafficking in not just human flesh, but artificially  intelligent almost human flesh for sordid purposes and you've got a hell of a, well, shit hole.  With technology crimes on the front burner, the 20st century crimes that still plague Olympia aren't usually worth their depleted staff's efforts. Fine. She'll go.

She'd been expecting stiffer consequences, actually. Jenkins thinks she's unaware, but Leah knows that every test, every simulation, every mind-numbing interview he has put her through, has been getting her further under cover. Shit, by now she really could use a playbook cataloguing who knows what and how and for how long. At least Jenkins doesn't have one either. Good thing.  She started this assignment with him as an enemy to keep close, but he's earned her grudging respect.  He really is caught between agencies just trying to wield his own brand of justice. When did it all become so fucking complicated?

Caffeine. She needs caffeine. Not to mention a shower. She's used to men checking her out. She's not used to them checking her out and getting off the glide while holding their breath. It's with quite a sigh of relief that she enters her private quarters at last. “Lights 50%.” Hastily she pulls off her high heeled boots and tosses her soiled jacket on the tile floor of the entry way. Heading for the kitchen area she contemplates caffeine choices. The patch would of course be the quickest. But what she really wants is to sit down. Think. Plan. Sip. Ok, shower sit think plan sip.

As a senior officer, her living area is equipped with more luxuries than most of this station's soldiers'. She slides the MorningJoe cartridge into the brew unit and gives up pretending she's going to be good. Grabbing the bottle of all-purpose cleaning fluid from under the sink, she dumps what's actually vodka into her coffee.

Feeling that first sip of caffeine-enhanced alcohol (not to be confused with alcohol-enhanced caffeine) all the way to her carefully manicured toenails, she heads for the shower. Even she can't stand the smell of herself anymore, and that's saying something. After all, she's the one who endured the olfactory-testing assignment at Ridel IV the longest. Just the thought of that hideous sense-assaulting endurance test sends her heaving into the commode. And that's when she finds it. Ha. They do float. She's heard about this new technology, but to see the Whisper Class recording device exit her person? A bit alarming. Funny though, it does fold up like some fucking origami creation when exiting it's host. Just like they said.

Leah's not sure when she's appreciated a shower more than this one. Fishing that tiny recorder from her own vomit was just the last straw. She never cries. Never. But stepping into the cubicle, under those forceful jets, she lets herself. She cries for her lost brother, she cries for her lost innocence at much too young an age, and she cries from the unrelenting strain of what she's been trying to accomplish.

As the sobs die down, she begins to plan. Determine if the chip is still hidden. Figure out how to play recording from origami bug. Contact Ian. Shit, that should be first. Where the hell is her drink?
Continued at Muse 4 

Muse 0 here
Muse 1  here
Muse 2 here

To read the other entries in this challenge, go here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

River: 10thDOM February Challenge, Muse 2 "Reluctant Titans"

Report to my office immediately. This conversation will not take place in public.”

Yes, sir.

Leah reluctantly follows him down the long hallways, past the guards, through the retinal scan security stations, and finally to his office's outer area. Death Row is what the enlisted call it. It's not a place a soldier wants to spend any time. Leah finds the name appropriate, considering that not only does she feel like she'd rather die, but also because if her cover's been compromised, she probably will actually die.

Report your whereabouts for the last 48 hours.”

Admiral Jenkins, sir, I wish I could. I may have been drugged. I have no recollection of any events following the completion of my assignment. I do have the suspect interview chip secured.”
She hopes it is secure. No sense in alerting him to the probability that it may have been...taken. She hasn't had time to check.

I expect more from my senior officers. You're the first Titan Class operative I've ever had the need to trace. And the first one who appears to have spent her last few days in disgraceful debauchery.”

Leah almost cracks a smile on that one. If only he knew her true identity. But that sobering thought is also enough to stifle the smile. She's worked tirelessly to keep up with the men in her profession. Some societal mores don't change no matter how advanced the technology. There will always be the good ole' boys in her organization. Not to mention in the elite corps that she'd been steadily infiltrating for the last few years. Covers this deep take time to develop. It was for the sake of her cover that she'd taken her “shore” leave with some of those good ol' boys to the rec area and started drinking. She knows better. Ian has been drilling that into her daily.

Leah, you can't drink. You know that. If you don't have the neutralizers with you, either spill that drink or taunt one of the others into taking it. Your mission is too important to risk anything. Promise?”

She always promised. But some vices are hard to give up. What could be the harm in just one Victorian? She used to down them by the six pack back on Earth.

Admiral Jenkins is actually worried under all the pissed off, and that's an emotion he rarely allows himself to feel. He's never seen one of his senior officers fall this far from grace. And so quickly. She has been doing well and passing all of the disguised training tests that even she herself hasn't been aware she's taking. Jenkins is grooming her to be his off-planet liaison for when the colony on Valdeen is ready for habitation. With her classic looks and smooth social manner, no one will suspect her Titan training, weapons techniques, or her brilliant scientific mind. She'll make an excellent operative.

Leah, on the other hand, isn't so sure about anything anymore. Is all of this worth it? At first she'd thought her motivation would give her the fortitude to persevere. But after five years, she doesn't feel like she's truly any closer to avenging his death.

Continued at Muse 3


This is part 3 of a 10 piece story written for the River of Mnemosyne competition over at 10th Daughter of Memory.  Button in side bar.  I know you're questioning my math, but part 1 was anything we wanted, and then part 2 was muse 1 (a prompt provided by another participant, but more of a motivation rather than a line to be used intact) so this is muse 2, otherwise known as part 3.  Confused?  Yes, me too.  But it sure is fun!  And I got provide muse 8!   (Which will be part 9, are you catching on yet?) I should give you some links for the first two parts...but I'm too tired from trying to understand the rules.  Just look at my previous posts over there on the side.  I haven't written anything besides this since it started...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

River: 10thDOM February Challenge, Muse 1: Deep Sleep, Deep Space, Deep Shit

No time to freak out about that though. She has to get back to quarters, report to Ian( as she has been doing every single day of the last four years) and then report to duty. If it's not too late already. Seems her wrist unit got more abuse than just a spray of these most recent chunks. It says five am, which is not the problem. It says five am THURSDAY. Isn't it Wednesday? It should be. She left for the recreation area on Tuesday. Didn't she? Now she's getting more and more worried. If she's been unconscious for more than 36 hours, she's truly in deep shit.

Surveying the perfectly manicured lawn, well perfect until you take into account the fact that she has just violated it with what appears to be the dregs of quite the variety of appetizers that she'd had no time to digest. That's some cause for alarm as well. Despite the epic hangover, she's still a scientist and a damn good one. But it's not like it takes a certification in the multi-sciences lane to figure out that she must have eaten those apps fairly recently. It does mean that although she doesn't remember the last 36 hours, she apparently didn't pass out until less than an hour ago. It also means she had to have been functioning well enough at that time to sit at a table and consume food without raising the suspicion of the serving staff. Damn. A longer black-out just spells bigger trouble.

She is relieved to find that she at least has tokens in her pocket. Entering the glide bound for base, she counts her remaining currency. Good. Whatever else may have happened to her, at least she hasn't been robbed.

So much for small victories. Her commanding officer is waiting for her as she exits the glide.

Continued at Muse 2

What I wrote to start this challenge is what they call Muse 0.  It could be whatever we wanted, but it had to be something that we could add chapters to as the muses rolled in.  We now are progressing towards Muse 9.  I'm totally behind, what with this being Muse 1, but swimming as fast as I can.  Use this link to find the info you need.  And if I've read the rules correctly, it's not too late to join.
P.S For those of you who missed my first part it's here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

River: 10thDOM February Challenge, Muse 0

Wow. That hurts. Slowly rolling over and trying to orient herself, Leah grabs her head to keep it from exploding. Doesn't work. She sprays a wide beam of chunks all over someone's lawn as the wreckage of last night's activities announce their claim on her body. In a projectile fashion...Fuck. What's his name? The previous night is sketchy. Ok, more than sketchy. Most nights are garden variety sketchy but damn, what the hell happened? A seasoned varsity drinker, she is a bit freaked out about this amount of black-out. And black-out on an important night. A chilling thought crosses her (admittedly befuddled) mind. Have they found her? After all these years?

Continued at Muse 1


Ok, this is me jumping off a huge cliff, without a parachute, but jumping none the less.  Head on over to 10th Daughter of Memory (button in sidebar).  The rules for this month long challenge are so complicated that I'm not even going to try to explain.  Ok, I'll say this.  Basically, we're writing an extended story, where the muse for each subsequent chapter is provided by another participant.  Wish me luck!  I'm swimming with the big fishes this month.  Real, published writers are in this contest.  I'm grateful they let me play.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Blogging A-Z Challenge!

I'm really excited about this writing event that I found which challenges us to post every single day of April. In alphabetical order. (See the button on the side bar or click here) We'll all be encouraging each other and cheering each other on to the finish! I'm looking forward to meeting new writers and to have a group I'm accountable to when I feel like writer's block is sagging me down...which a blogger I respect immensely says does not exist...sign up if you'd like to join. They're heading for 500 and are on 155! You know I can't resist a challenge... ;-)