Category Archives: Fiction

Virtual Perfection

Fish

The children were fitted with Virtual Sight contacts at an early age. Everyone had perfect eye sight and everything in the world was in perfect high-definition. The Controllers questioned why anyone should view imperfection. So any flaws were quickly removed from view and everything looked perfect. Poverty,human suffering, or the elderly need not be seen. To prevent the population from tripping over unseen bodies in the street, the poor and sick were swept into hidden compounds. When people reached the age of 55 they simply disappeared. This arrangement was deemed sensible. No one should have to see the messy, imperfection of ageing. People sometimes felt uneasy though. A sensation of people walking beside or around, a whisper, a movement in the air, a shadow.

The disruption in the Virtual System occurred during a solar flare in the middle of the Summer Solstice celebration. People were disoriented as their brains fought to adjust to their natural vision. They froze in place as the creatures came into view. There were strange, imperfect beings standing among them. The older ones who had disappeared were still alive. They just had been unable to see them.


Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner is hosted by Roger Shipp. Click on link to learn more about this writing group.

Icy Surprise

bike

“Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have spotted thick deposits of ice in the planet’s mid-latitudes that extend hundreds of feet deep.” – Amina Khan LA Times Science File “Icy surprise is exposed on Mars”

*********************

The Mars outpost was ordered to remove all traces of their colony. Tomir’s parents told him to gather up all his belongings to be shipped on the first transport. He had sorted through most of it when his eyes fell upon one last thing, a gift from his Uncle Domir brought back from the Earth Expedition. It was too embarrassing to show to any of his friends back home. All his friends had their own hover boards. What was he to do with this thing? That’s when he remembered that crevasse in the ice field.

“What do you mean you don’t remember where you put it?” his mother asked.

*********************

Mars Deep Explorer Mission announced that excavation of the scarps in the Milankovic Crater has resulted in an amazing discovery. Scientists have no explanation.

 


Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner is hosted by Roger Shipp. Click on the link if you would like to know more about this writing group.

Packing Up A Life

Cup

I finished for the day and was taking a break in front of a cozy fire with a well-earned cup of coffee. My mother didn’t like earthen ware coffee mugs and all her cups were china. She had a particular affinity for English china cups. Definitely not my taste for a coffee cup but I did not have a choice in her house. It had been an exhausting day sorting through all of Mom’s possessions. My daughter had offered to help but she would not be arriving for another 2 days. My mother was nothing like a hoarder and had downsized once already when she moved into the cottage after Dad died. It was just that many of the things had memories attached to them. It is taking me a long time to go through them because a memory or feeling would be triggered and I’d get lost in a reverie. The photos were the worst. Like the one of me in Tuscany when I was away with a study abroad class. Mom said the photos were almost unreal, like a movie set. She did not know how real it was. This was where the love of my life died.


This post is for Flash Fiction For The Purposeful Practitioner Week # 2 hosted by Roger Shipp. You can learn more about the rules by clicking on the link.

Redwood

Rachel Baum was looking forward to another opportunity to get out in the forest. Her job as a biologist at UC Berkeley was the study of the effect of climate change on Redwood trees. In recent years there was a growing alarm at the rapid changes in the California climate and how it was stressing the trees. Many felt it could be reaching a tipping point with how long the trees could adapt and survive. Her work sometimes required her to climb to the top of a 300 foot tree to check instruments that monitored the weather up in the canopy.
Rachel loved the spectacular views from the canopy and listening to the wind in the leaves. She came to the grove with another biologist who remained on the ground. Josh would send up any needed supplies with a pulley. There had been reports of a storm front moving in but Rachel and Josh thought they would have enough time. As she reached the top of the tree she heard a loud rumbling and looked up to see dark clouds rolling in.
“We better make this quick, Rachel,” Josh called over the two-way radio.
“I just want to check the fog monitor and then I will head down.”
Rachel was reaching over to the monitor when she saw the little Spotted Owl on a lower branch.

Female Spotted Owl

She was about to catch a quick photo when she felt the hair rise on the back of her neck. The lightning hit a nearby tree sending chunks of wood exploding through the air. A large piece hit Rachel.
Rachel was traveling through a tunnel. She felt the tunnel closing in on her body, squeezing. She thought she heard a young woman cry out and then she forgot about her life on Earth as she came into a new world. The midwife smiled as she welcomed this new life. Her parents named her Alexandria.

Alexandria Mata was one of the first babies born in the Mars colony. Her parents were part of the first colonists to live on Mars. They were both botanists working on plant cultivation. Growing up Alex liked exploring the gardens and small nature areas that were part of the biosphere. Her parents often found her reading her books under one of the few trees. Alex loved stories about trees. She grew up to be a botanist like her parents and her affinity for trees continued. Many of her contemporaries considered her a bit odd for her interest in Forest Biology because, as they told her, the forests are gone on Earth and there would be no forests on Mars. There was one friend who shared her interest in trees, Jeff Kimura. His focus was paleobotany, the study of fossil plants.

776px-Concept_Mars_colony NASA

Artist concept Mars Colony via NASA

Alex was working the day a small package arrived in a shipment from Earth. The contents of the box were not revealed by the label which said it had come from the University of California, Berkeley. As she opened it she found a note from a biologist. I hope you can find a home for this specimen of Sequoia Sempervirens and help this majestic spirit survive in the universe. Most of theses trees had been lost on Earth during the Great Drought of  2030-2045 when there were years of little rain with many months of wild fires. Global warming had denied the moisture giving fog to the giant trees and the drought dried out the soil and the surrounding undergrowth. The fires did the rest. Alex wanted to show the seedling to Jeff but he was at a dig site on Olympus Mons.

Olympus Mons was an old shield volcano and one of the tallest mountains in the solar system. Jeff’s team hoped that the volcano had some buried secrets in its slopes. They were looking for signs of earlier plant life on the planet.  Jeff knew Alex would be very interested in what they discovered, part of a fossilized forest.

“Jeff, this is fantastic, proof of ancient forests on Mars! When will you get some specimens back here?”

“We have them here now if you want to come over to my lab.”

” Right away!”

Word spread fast among the scientists and Alex found a large group in the Botany lab. The lead paleobotanist, Dr. Albero, was speaking. ” The microscopic evaluation of the fossils suggest these trees were ancestors of Sequoia Sempervirens, or Coast Redwoods.”

“How could Mars and Earth have the same trees? “ Alex thought, incredulous.

After the announcement people broke up into smaller groups to talk about the discovery. Jeff signaled to Alex. She walked over to a corner of the room where he was standing.

“Can you believe it, Coast Redwoods on Mars?

“We found a body.”

“What! Where?”

“We found a body buried near the trees.”

“What kind of body? What did it look like?”

“Like this.” Jeff showed Alex a photo he had stored on his communicator.

“Oh my God! This proves there were humanoids here on Mars.”

“Well there was one anyway.”

“Why wasn’t the discovery of this body announced?”

“Dr. Albero wants to discuss it with some higher-ups at NASA. He thinks this discovery might cause some panic in the colony.”

The colony leaders called for a community meeting the following week. Dr. Albero was asked to speak about the discovery.

“I know there have been rumors about the other discovery made on Olympus Mons. We found the body of a humanoid buried near the petrified forest. Further testing on the remains indicates that this humanoid is genetically related to us.”

******

The expedition found two planets in the solar system with environments compatible to their home world. They decided to introduce some of their flora prior to colonization to see if it could survive. They planted some seedlings from one of their most revered and beloved trees.

 

Ancient Coast Redwoods tower above hikers at Simpson Reed Grove Trail

“The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.” – John Steinbeck


More information about climate change and the Redwoods. And 100 Practical Ways to Reverse Climate Change: Drawdown.

Featured Image ‘Growth, plant’ by Antranias on Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Female Spotted Owl’ by Emily Brauwer of the US National Park Service via wikimedia. Image of ‘Petrified Wood,  Petrified Forest National Park, USA’ via Pixabay.com. Image of ‘Mummy’ from British Museum Collection by Klafubra on wikimedia. Image of Coast Redwoods in Redwood National Park via US National Park Service.

This post is part of the Write…Edit…Publish #WEP#ff December Challenge, The End is the Beginning hosted by Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

Word Count:  990 (excluding quote)

Full Critique

WEP CHALLENGE FOR DECEMBER ............THE END IS THE BEGINNINGS

The Prophesy

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Frank Lloyd Wright

The scientists called their experiment Juvenis. It was to prolong youth and delay aging by altering the genes with help of a virus. It resulted in damage to the germ line that was passed on to future generations and doomed their people to a shortened lifespan. All efforts to reverse the Juvenis Effect had failed. The Olders had been brought through the portal from Earth because they were believed to be genetic descendants.  The scientists were hopeful that the short life span of 30 years could be extended with gene splicing using the Erde DNA. They did not realize there could be more natural ways for the DNA to combine.

“How could I be pregnant at my age?” Sarah asked Nephele, the Council leader. “I was 55 and I had already gone through menopause when I came through the portal from Earth.”

“A plant blooms every Spring on Ortus called the Torrach. It releases a chemical into the air that promotes fertility.  Many women become pregnant during the Spring Festival,” Nephele answered.

“I would never have casual sex with a stranger but the ceremonial wine had a powerful effect. It has clouded much of my memory of that night,” Sarah added as she remembered the face of the young Ortusun male.

“The wine contained a herb that we use during our Spring Festival celebration to heighten our senses. We did not realize it is would affect you in this way. It caused you to become intoxicated and to lose control. You had already mated before we realized what happened.”

Will my child be affected by the damaged genes?” asked Sarah.

“Our tests show that your fetuses do not have the defective gene, ” Nephele replied.

“Fetuses, you said fetuses.”

“You are carrying twins, Sarah.”

Sarah sat in stunned silence. Twins?

Sarah had never had children and never thought she wanted any. She noticed she did feel differently since finding herself pregnant. She felt curious about the unborn child. She had started creating sculptures of children. Sarah knew this was her way of imagining what her child would look like. But now it was not one child, but two. Twins.

“These children are very special to us. Their birth was prophesied in our legends and they show us that your DNA can reverse the Juvenis Effect.”

“What is the prophesy ?” Sarah asked.

“There is an ancient prophecy that foretold of an Erde woman who would give birth, in her later years, to twins who would become great leaders. These twins would have unusual powers. Their arrival would be heralded by the appearance of a twin nebula in our night sky. As you know the twin nebula has recently been sighted.”

“What kind of powers?” Sarah asked.

“That information has been lost in the long ago times,” Nephele replied.

The news of the twins conception was not welcomed by everyone. There were those who denounced the blending of Ortusun and Erde DNA. They did not believe that the Olders could be genetically related to Ortusuns as the rulers claimed.

Sarah went into labor on the night of the full moon of Coerulus Magnus, the larger of the two moons of Ortus.  Sarah knew what she wanted to name the twins. She would call them Alexander and Merial.

planet-fantasy-2 public doman.net

Nephele was one of Sarah’s first visitors. “I am happy to see you and the twins doing well, Sarah. I want you to know that you and the children will be protected. We have taken the precaution of implanting security chips in both of them in case of any attempts are made to abduct them”.

“You think they could be in danger?”

“We want to diminish any risk of militia aggression.”

“What militia?” Sarah asked, her anxiety building.

“The militia call themselves The Praesidium. They claim to be defenders of our racial purity. We have been aware of them for some time. Do not be alarmed. You and the twins will be closely guarded until we are able to eliminate the threat,” Nephele reassured Sarah.

“We must destroy these half-breeds before their seed has a chance to pollute our world. What information do you have for me?” Marcen said to the group that had gathered at the compound.

“We have been watching the Erde woman and she is guarded commander. We have found some guards who are willing to cooperate under threat to their families. We will kill the half-breeds tomorrow night.” Ferox replied.

“Excellent! Victory to The Praesidium! ” Marcen shouted.

“Victory!” shouted the men.

The twins were very fussy. Sarah and Alexia, her android, struggled to settle them.

“I don’t know what could be bothering them, Alexia. They are usually very relaxed after their evening bath.”

Sarah decided to let the twins settle down in their bed by themselves for a while. They often found their own company entertaining enough. “Be calm my darlings. I will come back and check on you in a few minutes,” Sarah cooed to them as she lay them down. She sensed that they understood every word.

The twins were playing with the lighted orbs of the mobile that was suspended over their crib when suddenly they both became still as they listened to the sounds outside. They had been able to read each others thoughts since birth.

“The killer men are here, Merial.”

Ferox and his partner Quint quickly climbed through the nursery window. Quint had the hypospray that contained the deadly toxin.  Ferox held down Alexander.

“Give it to this one first,” Ferox told Quint.

Quint held the injector over Alexander and was ready to follow orders when he heard Merial make a strange sound and looked over at the little girl twin. As he looked into her eyes his body was no longer under his control. Quint looked on in horror as his hand holding the hypospray moved toward his accomplice. Ferox was frozen in place, his eyes wide with terror.

Sarah could hear the twins giggling as she entered the nursery. “What are you two up to in here?” The answer was laying on the floor, their mouths oozing green foam.

 

 

 

 


Happy Halloween!

Word Count: 1025

Critique: Full

#WEPFF October 2017  

Quote about ageing via Senior Planet. 🙂 Skull image via publicdomainpictures.net was altered by me. Featured image of Twin Nebula via NASA altered with insertion of Twins image (altered) from Pixabay.com

Something extra:

As for “Write what you know,” I was regularly told this as a beginner. I think it’s a very good rule and have always obeyed it. I write about imaginary countries, alien societies on other planets, dragons, wizards, the Napa Valley in 22002. I know these things. I know them better than anybody else possibly could, so it’s my duty to testify about them. I got my knowledge of them, as I got whatever knowledge I have of the hearts and minds of human beings, through imagination working on observation. Like any other novelist. All this rule needs is a good definition of “know.”-Ursela Le Guin


 

Realm of Dreams by publicdomainpictures.net

The Homecoming

Sarah regained consciousness on the other side of the portal. She was lying on the ground. It took a few minutes for the buzzing in her ears to stop and her vision to clear. She looked up to see the woman stranger looking down at her.

“Welcome to your new home,” the woman said smiling. “Let me help you up,” she said as she reached for Sarah’s hand.

Sarah held the offered hand and stood up shakily. Several other Olders stood around in groups looking dazed. Sarah noticed they were standing on an open plain. As she gazed up to the sky she saw it was azure blue and there were two moons. The sun was as bright as Earths and felt just as hot on her skin.

“What do you call this place?”, she asked.

“This is Ortus.”

“What is your name?”

” I am Nephele. We need to get you all moving. It is will be a long walk to get our city.”

“Why did we land here out in this barren land?”

” We found it was too disruptive for our citizens when Outworlders arrived in the city.”

Sarah and the other Olders walked along with their Ortusun guides. Sarah noticed she did not feel tired. It is probably all the adrenalin pulsing through my system she thought.

After what seemed like an hour she saw some tall structures in the distance. As they came closer she noticed the sleek outline of a towering building.

“This is the Central Ministry. You will be processed here,” said Nephele.

The Olders were led into the main entrance. They stood in a large hall looking up at the interior of this vast structure. Circular balconies reached up as far as they could see with several doors on each level. In the center was a large chamber with clear walls. Their guides took them to it and, after they were all inside, it began to rise rapidly up several levels. They exited onto a balcony high inside the building and were taken into a spacious hall.

“This is the intake center where you will receive your identification chips and have your health scan.  Once we have determined you are all healthy you will be assigned to your reorientation families.”

“What if some of us aren’t healthy?” a man asked.

“Our medical care can cure Earth illnesses and will have some rejuvenating effects as well.”

“What about the reorientation families?” asked Sarah.

“You will be sent to live with some of our citizens who have volunteered to help you adjust to our society. We see it as a learning opportunity for both the Olders and the Ortusuns. After the reorientation period you will be assigned to your permanent living spaces. You will be matched with a young citizen who shares your talents and you will mentor them. There will be a welcoming ceremony once you complete the reorientation and are ready to be matched. We call it The Homecoming. It will coincide with our Spring Festival.”

Time passed quickly for Sarah as she adjusted to this new world and culture. The Ortusuns did not work as Earth people did. All the work needed to keep the society functioning was performed by machines. They devoted their time to pursuing individual interests, travel, exploration, science, and the arts. It sounded like an ideal life but for the short lifespan of 30 years.

Sarah made friends with another Older that lived near her orientation home. James was an artist that lived in the same section of the city as Sarah. They discovered that they both enjoyed being out in nature and meeting other artists in the community. Sarah found it very easy to talk to James and their friendship developed quickly.

It was time for Spring Festival and The Homecoming. The Olders gathered on the plain where they had first arrived. The ceremony was to take place on the night of the first Full Moon of Coerulus, the largest moon.

A circle of statues enclosed the ceremonial site. They were crowned by flaming urns, and carved with strange animal faces whose eyes seem to glow from an internal fire.

In the center was an ornately decorated dais. The night sky was full of stars. Music was playing with a steady beat that Sarah felt pulsating through her core like the beat of a human heart. Nephele stood to address them.

Mozart_magic_flute painting of stage set by Karl Friedrick Schinkel via Wikimedia

“This is the night of our ancient Spring Festival when we celebrate fertility on our world. This year we are welcoming the Olders back to their place of origin. They bring us the promise of long life.”

Nephele addressed the Olders,” You are welcomed back to the home world of your ancestors, the place of your origin. You are bringing the gift of our genetic seed back to us.”

Some Ortusuns entered the circle and offered each of the Olders a goblet of ceremonial wine. Sarah found the drink pleasant tasting but soon felt the ground swaying, like a boat riding a swell. She looked around and to see James walking off with a young Ortusun woman. Sarah turned her gaze back to the young man who was standing in front of her.  She took his hand and they went out into the night.

It had been four months since The Homecoming and Sarah’s memory of that night was still clouded. As she entered her studio she felt an odd flutter in her belly. There was a knock on the door.

“Your student is here,” announced Alexia her android.

Sarah remembered she had scheduled a meeting with the young sculptor she had agreed to mentor. “Have the student come in here,” she replied.

Sarah could hear Alexia directing the student to the studio. She looked up as he entered the room. She realized she had seen this young man before. It was on the night of the Spring Festival. ” It’s you!” she said as the heat rose in her body.


This post is my contribution to the WEP August Challenge Reunions 

The WEP challenge is hosted by Denise Covey, Yolanda Renee, Nilanjana Bose, and Olga Godim.

WEP CHALLENGE FOR AUGUST, REUNIONS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Featured image ‘Realm of Dreams’ via publicdomainpictures.net, Ministry building is via Foundry on Pixabay.com, Statue is a Cham pedestal from Museum of Cham sculpture( image altered) via wikimedia, Image of ceremony is Painting of stage set for The Magic Flute by artist Karl Friedrich Schinkel (image cropped).

Word Count: 991

Full Critique

 

 

 

A Writing Journey

We are thrilled to have Deborah Drucker, the winner of the WEP June Challenge – BRIDGES – here to discuss her writing journey. Her winning piece is titledTHE FINAL TRANSITION.Congratulations, Deborah! Have I become a writer?I definitely did not always aspire to be or think of myself as a writer. I have spent most of my…

via #WEPFF WRITE…EDIT…PUBLISH… BRIDGES WINNER DEBORAH DRUCKER ON BECOMING A WRITER — Write…Edit…Publish — Monthly Blog Hop

 


Featured image ‘Jeune femme lisant dans un jardin’ by Henri Lebasque via Wikimedia