Thursday, May 20, 2010

Friday Fiction for May 21, 2010

Christina Banks is graciously hosting Friday Fiction this week, over at “With Pen in Hand.” Don’t miss all the good reading that the Linky Tool will take you to from there!

“Maelstrom’s Eye” continues this week, with a little glimpse into Carl’s past. Incidentally, while this story employs a bit of speculative fiction, much of the capabilities of Maelstrom that I’ve listed are within the reach of current technology. I find it a rather sobering thought that we – or another nation – could put a weapon platform similar to this in space.

Maelstrom’s Eye

Part 6

And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, and fire, and brimstone. ~ Ezekiel 38:22

The Brimstone Weapon System was designed by Starfire specifically for installation on Maelstrom. The unique Brimstone missile, barely larger than a bottle of soda, is designed to withstand the rigors of atmospheric reentry. Once in the upper atmosphere, the Brimstone guidance system insures target accuracy of less than one meter from the designation point. The Brimstone launcher holds thousands of these missiles, and any number may be launched simultaneously at individual targets anywhere within a thousand kilometer plus radius. ~ Isabel Hawkins, CEO, Starfire Integrated Technologies Corporation

***

It was the basics all over again, and he remembered far more about cooking than he decided to admit. Celia maintained a running monologue on everything she was showing him, but his mind drifted elsewhere.

Freida – Freddie, as you preferred to be called – you were easily the most tomboyish girl in school. Rubenesque in figure, many of our classmates dubbed you “Fat Freddy,” though they rarely said it to your face more than once. Your six older brothers were all coveted by the football team for their muscular bulk, and if your rough-and-tumble interaction with them didn’t equip you to adequately stand up for yourself, all it took was for one of them to catch wind that someone – anyone – had hurt their baby sister. Your mother made sure they weren’t bullies, but that didn’t mean they let anyone mess with you.

There were a lot of pretty girls in school, but there were none more fun to hang around with than you, Freddie. By our junior year in High School, we were a couple, and I thought we’d spend the rest of our lives together - provided, of course, I managed to survive the annual family football game. As your boyfriend, I somehow always ended up carrying the ball, meaning that every large relative on the other team was racing to tackle me.

You loved cooking, almost as much as you loved me, and I spent many hours with you in the kitchen, both at your home, and at your parents’ restaurant. I still remember how thrilled you were to be accepted to the culinary institute after we graduated. While I was learning construction skills, you were learning gourmet cooking. It always seemed so funny when we’d chat on the network at night, and compare what we’d learned that day.

You’d be arguing with Celia over techniques right now, wouldn’t you, Freddie? You were always rather particular about how certain things should be done. ‘Rock the knife, don’t jackhammer it,’ you’d tell me. ‘Good pepper doesn’t come pre-ground,’ and, ‘People these days don’t know what food really tastes like.’

You also taught me to never trust a skinny chef. Why do I suspect you’d think Celia is too thin to be a good cook?

I said I’d come find you when my job in space was done, but I didn’t – you came and found me in the hospital. You told me to come see you when I got released, but I never did. Your eyes told me what your lips wouldn’t, Freddie. I wasn’t going to be able to skip down the aisle after our wedding. I wasn’t going to be able to play in the annual football game with your family any more. There weren’t going to be long hikes in the woods, or chasing playfully between the trees. You needed a guy who could keep up with you, but you loved me too much to tell me so.

I saw on the network last year that you found him. I wondered what it might have been like to have been the one to stand next to you in front of the minister, and say the words I always imagined saying to you. Would we have made it that far, Freddie, with how much I’ve changed? How long could you have tolerated my new limitations, before your kindness finally ran out? Would you have ended up sad, or completely resentful, that your children had a daddy who couldn’t play football with them, like your father played with his children?

I know he’ll treat you well, Freddie. Your brothers will make sure of that. I hope he loves you even more than I did, because one of us, at least, deserves to be happy.

Celia gave him a gentle poke with the handle of a spoon. “Are you paying attention?” she asked.

“Huh?”

“You looked like you were drifting out on me, Mr. Anders. Do you find me boring?”

“Oh, no, that’s not it at all. I was just thinking about someone I used to know.”

“Well, just be sure you keep your mind here when you have a sharp knife in your hand. You wouldn’t want to add electric fingers to go with your legs now, would you?”

“No – you’re right. I sure wouldn’t want that.” Freddie told me things like that more than once, too.

Signing up for the program to build Maelstrom was the dumbest decision I ever made, Freddie, because – in the end – it was the decision that forced me to leave you behind. I thought at the time I’d make enough that we could get married and live happily, but I never dreamed then what it would end up costing me.

Maybe it would have been better if the accident had killed me. Then, you would still have been able to meet your husband, and I wouldn’t have been left to lie awake at night, wondering ‘what if?’

to be continued...

6 comments:

Rita's Random Ramblings said...

Enjoying the way the characters are developing. I need to go back and read last weeks, I was on vacation. Love the way you paint a story! ~Rita

Catrina Bradley... said...

What a sobering chapter! I love the way your characters are coming to life.

Joanne Sher said...

This is the first chapter of this that I've read, but I'm already hooked. Great characterization and plot development.

Mari said...

So easy to read...so easy to catch up even if someone hasn't read previous chapters. I love it when chapters in a story can stand alone as a short story and let the reader to fill in things with their own creativity. Well done.

Shelley Ledfors said...

I just started reading this series last week, but am enjoying it. Another great installment...with some poignant and intriguing backstory.

BethL said...

Wow, poignant doesn't even begin to describe this. This masterful chapter left me wanting more of the story, too. Masterful work, friend!