Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friday Fiction for April 23, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Julie Arduini at The Surrendered Scribe. Visit Julie’s blog for her story, and the Linky Tools for more fiction reading to fill your weekend.

This week is Part 2 of Maelstrom’s Eye. If you need to, you can click back to read Part 1. I’m really enjoying recreating this story.

Maelstrom’s Eye

Part 2

Maelstrom – The ultimate security tool in the Western Coalition’s arsenal. Maelstrom’s eye is capable of scanning every square meter of Earth, with the discrimination to differentiate between a golf ball and a ping-pong ball from orbit. When a threat is detected, Maelstrom is ready to deliver the necessary response to neutralize the threat with surgical precision. Maelstrom is capable of destroying a single automobile in the midst of a traffic jam, and just as quickly reduce an entire country to rubble.

Maelstrom: Unseen, untouchable, and unstoppable. It’s just one more way our Security Forces are keeping the Western Coalition safe from the Eastern threat.

***

Guillermo Santos sat on the porch, enjoying the breeze the came across the nearby alfalfa fields. After so many years of climbing the corporate management ladder, he appreciated the natural, earthy smells of agriculture.

His daughter, Celia, came out of the house two lots over and across the street. He smiled, watching her walk home. She looked up and saw him, and smiled back at him. Do you see her, Mama? She has your eyes and your smile, and she is doing so well in school. Are you proud of our daughter?

She climbed the steps to the porch, and bent down to kiss the bald extension of his forehead. “Buenas tardes, Papa,” she said.

He squeezed her hand. “How was your day, mi’ja?”

“Dr. Clemens was sick, so my afternoon class was canceled. I got to Mr. Ander’s house early, just to find him stuck in his garden again.”

“Are you sure he doesn’t do that purposely, just so you have to rescue him? Some men will do almost anything to get the attention of a pretty girl.”

“I don’t think so, Papa. He wouldn’t have expected me until an hour later, and I think if he were going to set something like that up, he would have waited until closer to my normal arrival time.” She shifted her schoolbag to her other hand. “You could ask him tonight, though. I invited him to have dinner with us.”

“I wish you had asked me first. I’m not sure about that man – he always gives me strange looks when I see him in his front yard.”

She leaned back and placed her free hand on her hip, fingers turned out and knuckles against her jeans. “Now, Papa,” she said.

She looks and sounds just like you when she does that, Mama. Will she wrap a husband around her little finger with that pose, just like you did me?

“Didn’t Mama always remind us to be nice to strangers, because they might be angels in disguise?” she continued.

“He is not exactly a stranger, and I don’t think angels would have mechanical legs,” he countered.

“Maybe those legs are just to keep us from noticing his wings, Papa. Maybe God put an angel in our neighborhood, just to see if we would extend His love to him.”

“All right, mi’ja. Mr. Anders will be welcome in our home and at our table.”

Gracias, Papa.” She kissed his forehead again.

“Catalina is making dinner tonight, so you’d best let her know that we’ll have a guest.”

“I will. Are you coming inside to help?”

“No, I think I will stay here and wait for our guest.”

“Okay, Papa.” She went through the door, and the evening grew quiet on his porch.

Perhaps God did send an angel to our street – it would be like you, Mama, to ask Him to do so, just to keep us on our toes. Still, I think an angel would show up at church, at least once in a while.

He closed his eyes, and dozed until being startled awake by a sudden weight in his lap.

Abueliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiito,” the preschooler sang, patting his chest. “Mama says that dinner is almost ready.”

Already? He glanced at his watch. I nodded off for longer than I thought. “Thank you, Jimmy. Tell your Mama that I will be right in.”

The boy placed a quick kiss on his cheek, and then sprinted back into the house, yelling the whole way. “Maaaaaaamaaaaa!”

Guillermo chuckled, and stood up from his chair to stretch. Celia’s guest was approaching along the sidewalk in front of the neighbor’s house, and he leaned against the porch rail to watch the man.

The gait was a tell-tale sign of the prosthetics Anders wore. While still a very effective, normal paced walk, there was a distinctly mechanical quality to the steps. His movements lacked the fluid grace of a typical pedestrian, as though he needed to concentrate on precisely placing each foot on a pre-determined path.

He’d heard that with the best prosthetics, you couldn’t tell the difference between the movements of the natural limb and the artificial. Of course, anyone who could afford the best wouldn’t be living in such a run-of-the-mill housing tract, either.

Anders turned up the walk towards the house. He carried a box with both arms, held close to his chest. “Mr. Santos,” he said, when he’d reached the bottom porch steps.

“Guillermo, please. Won’t you come in, Mr. Anders?”

“I don’t think Celia will let me get away with not coming in. She was rather insistent that I come over for dinner tonight. She said you would like these, though. I just picked them a few minutes ago.”

“Celia is much like her mother in that way. I learned quickly it was foolish to argue with Mama.” He took the box and looked inside. “These are beautiful tomatoes; I have not seen such size and color in a long time.”

“She said you would like them.” He placed one foot on the first stair, stepping up almost like a toy robot. “You just don’t find produce in the stores that can compare with home-grown.”

“How did you learn to grow them so well?”

“While I was in physical therapy, I was living with my grandmother. She made me earn my keep by helping her in the garden, and I just decided I liked growing my own food.”

“Catalina and Celia should have dinner just about ready, Mr. Anders.”

“You can call me Carl, if you like.”

Guillermo balanced the box of tomatoes in one arm, while opening the screen door with the other. “Come in, Carl. Come in.”

to be continued...

5 comments:

Catrina Bradley... said...

I have a feeling something important is going to happen at dinner. I can't wait to find out what! (And I have a strong motivation to go to the nursery and buy some tomato plants, too.)

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Heehee! Jimmy is adorable! I could see that sing-songy bit of everything in him and I loved it! I'm also glad that they're going to have dinner together! Good!

Bear said...

Really excellent characterization. Bear also loves the way a heart was bought with tomatoes. It would work on Bear, for sure! Looking forward to the next installment :-)

Julie Arduini.com: The Surrendered Scribe said...

I love these characters and the slow suspense build you have going in the chapters. I'm with Cat, something is up for dinner! My favorite line is about how his legs might be hiding his wings.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I like the atmosphere you've created, and the characters are emerging charmingly.