Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 27, 2009

Friday Fiction is being hosted this week by Josh on his blog, Just Joshing. Head on over to find Mr. Linky and the other great submissions for Friday Fiction.

“Precocious by Consent” is now up to over 7200 words, and I’m in the middle of Chapter 4. I thought about posting an excerpt from it this week, but wasn’t sure which portion would work well for Friday Fiction. Additionally, I felt like something a bit more upbeat, and so far, PbC has been fairly heavy on the drama.

I decided, instead, to post another excerpt from “The Eridanus Dream”, which gives a bit more insight into the two main characters, Y’La and Sean, along with the contrast between the spiritual views of the two cultures. The scene takes place aboard the lander vessel, Pisces, the first night after Y’La has found Sean. Y’La is in the bunk compartment with some of the women of the crew, and has surprised them with her ability to access Sean’s memories (including language) from a distance.

The Same God
From Chapter 4 of “The Eridanus Dream”

Y’La turned her attention to Amanda, who was starting to regain her composure. “You… are… aloof… one?”

Her expression turned serious. “Is that what Sean thinks of me?”

“No… not… Sean. Your… eyes… tell… me.”

Amanda sputtered. “Why?” She stammered for a moment, before blurting out, “I’m from an Executive Family. We’re supposed to be aloof!”


Y’La stood, assuming the pose and the expression of authority. “I am a priestess,” she said confidently and without hesitation, holding the strongest connection she could to Sean’s mind. “As were my mother, and my grandmother, and all their grandmothers before them. We are the leaders, and the teachers, and the judges of our people, but any priestess who does not love her people is nothing.”

“It’s different with money,” Amanda said.

Y’La found the key she was looking for in Sean’s memory, though the strain of the heightened connection with his mind weighed on her. “You lost this wealth?”

“How did you know that?”

“Then you have no more than these others?”


Amanda blanched under the intense gaze of the priestess. Only once had she ever needed to appear before a municipal council, and this felt very much the same way; something within her feared terrible reprisal if she attempted to lie. “No. I have no more than my crewmates.”

“Then you are the same?”

The question was rhetorical, yet Amanda resisted the implied answer. Her social pride screamed inside her. No! We’re not the same! I am from wealth and power, not some middle-class development! I have been raised to be respected, admired, and attended to! The words threatened to spill past her lips when she heard her sister’s voice from before they left. They never respected us, Mandy; they respected the money, and now that the money is gone, so is the respect. It was why she had applied for the mission; the potential million credit bonus offered the way back to the life she preferred. She bit her lower lip, holding the gaze of the priestess.

“Then you are the same?” Y’La repeated the question.

Amanda averted her gaze. “I guess so,” she admitted quietly. At the end of the mission, they would all either be wealthy, or just adequately compensated for their time, but all would have the same payout.

Y’La sat back down.

“You must be a pretty good priestess if you can get her to soften up,” Becky said. “What does a priestess do here, anyway?”

The hesitation was back in her speech, and her words sounded tired. “We… teach… about… God… and… Her… ways. We… rule… on… Her… laws. We… must… be… God’s… hands… here.”

“A woman God,” Lorraine said. “What a concept. Won’t that set off the traditionalists back home? The men will stick to the male God, and the women will flock to this God.”

“They… are… the… same… God.”

“How?” Lorraine objected. “If they’re the same, why did women get such a lousy deal for so many thousands of years on Earth?”

“Your… world; father… is… strong. You… identify… God… as… ‘Father’. My… world… mother… is… strong. We… identify… God… as… ‘Mother’.”

“But what gender is God really?” Amanda asked.

“Does… God… need… gender… to… create… life? No. Gender… is… for… flesh… not… spirit.”

“But how do you know it’s the same God over both worlds?” Lorraine pressed.

“Sean’s… memory… of… your… scriptures. God’s… name… ‘I Am’. Our… scriptures… God’s… name… ‘I Am’. Chance? No… I… think… not.”

“If you say so,” Lorraine commented dryly. “If you don’t mind, though, I’m still going to prefer the woman God.”

“As… you… wish. Forgive… me… I… tire… of… all… this… searching.” She lay back on the bunk and closed her eyes, quickly drifting off into a peaceful slumber.


Sean stood in the darkness a short distance away from Pisces, staring at the stars overhead. It was the first quiet moment he’d had since Y’La had found him, and he thought over the events of the day.

“You okay, kid?” Bob asked, laying a hand on his shoulder and giving him a gentle squeeze.

“She’s asleep, Bob, and right now she’s dreaming that she’s standing out here, looking at the stars, and talking to you,” he said, ignoring the question.

“You sound pretty sure of that.”

He rubbed his forehead and then brushed his hair back. “Now that I know it’s happening, I have an awareness of it. Just like she knew when I was dreaming, and would do things to help me prepare for the meeting, I was supposed to be doing things when she was dreaming to help her identify where I was. I think it wouldn’t have mattered what the weather was like for our descent, we’d have still ended up in this valley.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right about that. Are you okay, though? You’re going to spearhead the meeting of two worlds, without much training in Xeno-anthropology. I know I’m scared, and I don’t have nearly the role you have to play in this.”

“I’m a bit scared right now, but whenever I’m touching her, all I can feel is the confidence she has that this is exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. She has no doubt in her mind whatsoever that she and I were intended for each other and that this is all part of some Divine Plan. Why me, though?”

“Do you believe in God, Sean?”

“I was raised to; I was taught from a young age that nothing happens by accident and that everything fits into God’s will.”

“I didn’t ask how you were raised; I asked if you believe. Do you?”

“Three weeks ago, I told Alice I wasn’t sure if I did. Tonight, though, I’d have to say I do believe in God.”

“Maybe you just answered your own question, Sean. Maybe it had to be you because you were the one willing to believe. Maybe all that stuff you were taught from a young age was just to prepare you for this day.”

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 20, 2009

Friday Fiction this week is hosted by Dee over at My Heart’s Dee-Light. Look for some great stuff this week, during the Faithwriter’s Challenge break between quarters.

I’ve wanted to write some new stories for Bobby Malach/Daedalus, and this scene occurred to me as a possible new chapter to “The Daedalus Child”. This scene takes place a while after an attack has sent Bobby to a trauma center, and I wanted to bring a bit more of Rev. Jamison into the narrative. This one is a bit long, but I hope it holds your interest.

Incidentally, Daedalus is one of the only characters I’ve written that I’ve actually had dreams of being. The ability to fly like he does is something I have dreamed of and imagined for as long as I can remember. Would I trade normal arms for functional wings? I don’t know; and I offer that question within the story. Bobby struggles with it, because he was never given a choice, but I imagine many people would choose flight if they could.

Feeling Alive

Bobby Malach stood from the exam table and allowed the long cloak to fall back into place around him. He shook just a bit to get the gap in front to close, ignoring the soreness in his wings from the stretching and probing the doctor had inflicted on them.

“Everything appears to be healing nicely,” the surgeon said. “How is the physical therapy going?”

“It’s kind of hard for me to tell,” Bobby replied. “My therapist seems to work more on the theory of pushing rather than encouraging. He never really says whether he’s happy with my progress or not.”

“Well, your strength and mobility are returning well, and as much as I can compare you to someone with normal limbs, you seem to be right on track. Do you have any questions?”

He shook his head. “The only question is the same one I’ve asked before, and you’ve already said the answer to that one will depend more on me than anything else.” He thought a moment. “Didn’t you say you wanted to get some x-rays today?”

The surgeon gave him a sly smile. “Doctors often get accused of not listening to their patients. I remember you saying you were a bit disappointed that the Park arranged for your physical therapy to take place in the employee health center. I figured x-rays were a good justification to have the exam here, rather than inside the Park.”

“Thank you. I still have security escorts, but at least I can get out of the Park for a little while, even if it is just to come to a hospital.”

“I suppose I can understand their caution; it’s not just the danger of another attack, but when you consider the scandals a few of their other prodigy stars have gotten into, I’m sure they want to make sure you don’t end up as tabloid fodder as well.” He patted Bobby on the back. “I’ll want to see you again in three months. You can either make the appointment today, or have those Park people call and make it later.”

“I’ll let them do it; they’re very good at making sure it ends up on the calendar so it doesn’t get forgotten.”

“That makes sense. Now, I hate to run off on you, but I’m scheduled in surgery this afternoon, and I need to go get changed and scrubbed.” He ushered Bobby out the door, said good-bye, and headed off down the corridor.

Bobby rolled his shoulders, and then headed for the lobby where the security detail waited. Turning a corner, he almost ran into the hospital chaplain.

“Bobby,” Rev. Jamison greeted him. “It’s good to see you. How’re you doing?”

“The doctor says everything is healing like it should, though I don’t feel quite as good as I did before he twisted and turned me every which way.”

“You’re looking good. You’re definitely looking a lot better than you did the first time I saw you.”

“That wouldn’t take much.”

Rev. Jamison laughed. “Hey, could I ask you a favor?”

“What favor?”

“There are some kids here that I think would really benefit from a Daedalus visit. Can you do that, or is it something I’d need to clear with your publicity people?”

“The Park management would probably want to review the proposal and send along handlers, but sometimes I get real tired of having handlers watching over my shoulder. Can we get to these kids without going through the lobby where the security people are waiting for me?”

“That’s where I was heading. Come on; I’ll show you.”

They walked down a different corridor to a staff elevator, and rode it up to the fifth floor. From there, it was a couple of turns to a brightly lit recreation room where a bunch of kids sat playing with toys, coloring in books, or just enjoying the sunlight shining through the big windows.

Bobby stopped in the doorway and stared. Several of the kids were missing their hair, while others had different external signs of illness.

“Hey, kids,” Rev. Jamison said in his usual cheery voice. From their enthusiastic response, he was a frequent and popular visitor. “Look who I found downstairs. Do you know who this is?”

“Who?” the kids asked, not in much unison.

He gestured back towards Bobby. “You don’t recognize him? This is Daedalus.”

“Nuh unh,” one girl said.

“No way,” another said.

One small boy in a pale blue robe walked up and looked at him. “Are you really Daedalus?”

“Yeah, I’m really Daedalus,” Bobby said. He slipped his thumbs through the split at the front, and bringing his wings slightly forward and then back, flipped the cloak out of the way. Spreading the wings just enough to demonstrate there was no costume trick behind them, he forced himself to smile for the children.

The kids clamored around him, and he spent the next ten minutes wrapping each one in turn in an embrace. He spent another fifteen minutes answering questions, during which time a few more kids and several nurses joined the group.

It didn’t take much coaxing to convince him to pose for a photograph. Standing in front of the long wall in the room, he spread his wings out sufficiently for everyone to gather in front of them, and everyone grinned big while Rev. Jamison took the pictures.

“Well, kids,” Bobby said when the photo session was finished. “I’m going to have to get going.”

There was a chorus of disappointed noises, before the boy in the blue robe turned to him. “Daedalus, are you gonna fly again?”

This kid will be lucky if he reaches ten years old, Bobby thought. Yet, he’s worried about whether I’ll be able to fly again. “The doctors aren’t sure yet, but I’m going to do everything I can to get airborne again.”

It took another five minutes to finish the good-byes, before he walked with Rev. Jamison back towards the elevator. “How do you do it?” he asked. “How do you handle things like that every day?”

“You mean, smiling and staying upbeat for sick kids? It’s one of those things that I have to rely on God for. This isn’t an easy ministry, but God’s given me a real heart for it.” He punched the elevator call button. “Some of these families have never been in any church before. They have no spiritual support network to call on, and when the doctor tells them that their precious son or daughter has cancer, is when they suddenly realize they either need or want spiritual support. I’m not a doctor; I don’t discuss the prognosis with them, or treatment options, or survival odds. I give them a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, and I pray with them. Sometimes, I’m the first person who ever does, and I get to share God’s love with people when they need it most, but expect it least.”

“Doesn’t it get to you after a while, though?”

They stepped onto the elevator. “Does having arms that are only useful for jumping off buildings ever get to you?”

“Sometimes, but it’s not like I can do anything about that.”

“Just as you were given the ability to do what you do, so also God gave me the ability to do what I do, and despite how it looks, I don’t have any more choice about it than you do. Paul said, ‘Woe be unto me if I preach not the Gospel.’ It’s the same for me; I do this because it’s my calling, and nothing in the world will replace the contentment that comes from fulfilling my calling.”

“Sometimes, when I’m flying is the only time I really feel like I’m alive.”

The elevator door opened on the ground floor. “Then you have a good idea how I do this. When I let God work through me, I am more alive than at any other time.”

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t ever fly again,” he said, taking a step into the corridor.

“You still have a lot of people praying for you, Bobby. Somehow, I think if God doesn’t have it in His plan for you to fly again, you’re going to find He has something better waiting for you.”

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 13, 2009

Friday Fiction is being hosted this week by Rhonda, on her blog, Beach Reads. Head down to the beach and let Mr. Linky bring you some wonderful stories.

I’ve joked before that my characters don’t leave me alone for long, and the characters from Precocious by Design are no exception. My co-worker Jan has been asking when I was going to write a sequel to that story ever since he finished reading it, and when he learned this week that I’d started on one, he hoped I would ignore work and spend extra time writing on it.

Tempting; very tempting. I’d much rather write than do pretty much any of the tasks on my queue at work. Then again, there are a lot of things I’d rather do than work, not the least of which is sleeping-in later than the crack of dawn.

Precocious by Consent will be book # 10 for me. So far, I have the prologue and about half of chapter 1 written. For Friday Fiction this week, I’m posting the Prologue, and it gives a pretty good hint at the general direction the story is going to take. As a reminder, Lloyd Timmons has a quirk of carrying on imaginary conversations with the victims whose murders he investigates. Ilsa was the victim from the first story, and she has become something of a persistence voice in these internal dialogues.

Precocious by Consent
Tuesday afternoon

“Who called it in?” Lt. Lloyd Timmons asked, approaching the group of law enforcement personnel.

“The lady over there,” the patrol officer answered. “She came out to get in her car, and found the body here next to it.”

“What do we know already?” his partner, Lt. Paula Hanson, asked.

“Whoever did this wanted her found,” the officer replied, and pointed down at the body. “Take a look, detectives.”

The victim was stretched out in the space between the car and the parking structure wall, face down. Her hands and feet were tied with clothing, and the head turned to the side revealed the makeshift gag stuffed in her mouth. Words were written across her back, and Lloyd kneeled down to look.

“Is that what I think it is?” Paula asked.

He nodded, feeling a wave of disgust run through him, followed by a touch of nausea. “The writing is carved into her back.”

She swore, with a barely audible comment about what she would like to do to the perpetrator of the atrocity. “Can you read what it says?”

“It says, ‘Tough luck, Powell. Your mistake cost two deaths.’”

“Who’s Powell?”

“I don’t know, and I’m wondering if there’s another body close by.” He looked around. “Is the ME here yet?”

“They’re on the way,” the officer said.

Lloyd looked around at the ceiling. “Does this structure have security cameras?”

“We’ve got a guy tracking down the security office already. If they’ve got video, we should have it whenever you’re ready to look at, lieutenant.”

“Good; what about an area search?”

“It’s already started. We have officers checking out the rest of the structure and the surrounding area for anything that might be of interest.”

An unmarked car pulled up with the flashing strobes in the grill. Two men in dark suits got out, and approached them. “Where’s the body?” one of them asked.

“Over here, but before I let you near it, can I ask who you are?” Lloyd said.

They pulled out their ID’s. “Agent Powell and Agent Weiderman, FBI. We’re on the Facenet Killer task force.”

Lloyd checked the ID’s and nodded. “If you’re Powell, then this is definitely your case. Check the writing on the victim’s back.”

The two agents knelt by the body and read the message. Powell swore and made a frustrated gesture, while Weiderman started examining the scene from different angles.

“Is there another body we should be looking for, Agent Powell?” Lloyd asked.

“Somewhere, but it’s not going to be easy to find. We received a note this morning hinting this was coming; when the call went out to your department, we headed up here as well.” He stood up and pulled a photo from his pocket. Two girls stared at the camera with terrified expressions. “The girl on the right is this victim, Celia Moore. The girl on the left is Lara Schumacher.” There was a mixture of anger and regret in his voice. "Celia was thirteen; Lara was twelve."

Lloyd looked from the photo to the body. “He tied up this victim with the other girl’s clothing.” He drew a deep breath. “What mistake is he referring to, Agent?”

“This guy gets his victims from the internet, particularly from social sites like Facenet. We had an agent posing as a girl on Facenet, hoping to catch him or any other predator that might be prowling the site. Somehow or another, he caught on to her.”

“What makes you think he figured her out?” Paula asked.

“Her alias on Facenet was Lara Moore. He chose these two girls to show us that he knew who she was.” He shook his head. “We don’t know how he does it, but he manages to figure out who’s really a kid and who isn’t.”

“I’m betting he’s thorough,” Lloyd said. “He’s checking for other sources to confirm the identity of who he’s stalking.”

“That pretty much sums it up. We thought we had a rock solid cover for our agent, but obviously, he found the hole in it. It’s been suggested we use an actual child to lure him out, but I wouldn’t dangle my daughter as bait in front of this guy, and I can’t imagine any decent parent that would.”

Can I help you, detective?

This isn’t a good time, Ilsa.

Oh, I think it’s the perfect time. I’m here with Celia, and we have an idea for you.

This isn’t my case anymore. The Feds have it.

In that case, it won’t hurt to hear us out, then.

Okay, I’ll bite; what’s your idea?

You need a child to catch this monster, but you cannot use a child. Can you use someone, though, who is very good at pretending to be a child?

No; I couldn’t ask her to do that.

Could you, if that were your daughter lying there?

That’s not fair, Ilsa.

Celia says to ask her mother if it’s fair. Go ahead, lieutenant; tell Celia and Lara’s parents that you cannot ask for the help you need, and see what they say.

Fine; I’ll bring up the idea, and if the Feds like it, I’ll ask her. I don’t expect her to agree, though.

She’ll agree. I know she will.

How do you know that?

Because she is just as much a performer as I was, and I would have taken the role – even without meeting Celia here.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Friday Fiction for March 6, 2009

Friday Fiction this week is being hosted by Shirley over on her blog, Sunny Glade. Don’t miss Mr. Linky and the great fiction submissions this week.

One piece of feedback I received from the early drafts of Precocious by Design was a bit more development of some of the characters. Katy/Katya, particularly, turned into a more prominent character than I’d originally intended, and it seemed the reader needed more insight into her.

I’ve written three additional chapters to the story so far, two of which are from Katya’s POV, and one from Faye Timmons’ POV as she converses with Katya towards the end of the book. Her first appearance in the narrative is as Katy, a girl from the Agency sent to fulfill a performance contract with Gary. Part of her awakening in the story is as she reaches an understanding of the difference between being Katy and being Katya.

In the Friday Fiction entry from
November 14, 2008, Gary Duddeck mentions having gone on a date with Katya, rather than carrying through with a date with Katy. I decided I needed to show that date from Katya’s POV.

Chapter 25
Saturday evening

Katya sat on the blanket, enjoying the concert from the grassy area behind the concrete benches. The final song before the intermission was Vivaldi Concerto Rv 93, and as the closing measures of the Allegro movement echoed from the bandshell, she closed her eyes and pressed closer to Gary.

He removed his arm from around her shoulder to applaud, and she sat up straight. Wiping her face with her hands before joining in the applause, she sniffled and cleared her throat.

“Are you okay?” Gary asked.

She nodded. “It’s just – so beautiful. The music; the park – no one has ever treated me like this before.”

He kissed her, placing one hand gently towards the back of her head. This is different, she thought. This is tender, instead of greedy or forceful, the way most men kiss me. Is this what it’s like when two people are together because they choose to be, instead of because it’s a business contract?

“Did you like that last arrangement?”

“Very much so; did you?”

“I have a special appreciation for that Concerto; I’ve played it on guitar before.”

“My mother was a musician,” she said, barely able to speak as the emotions flooded to the surface.

“What did she play?”

“Oboe; she told me once that she had been accepted to the Mannheim University in Germany.”

“Mannheim is an exceptional school. Did she finish?”

“She never went. She – had me, and was unable to pursue a career in music.”

“Well, I suppose there are worse reasons to forego an education.”

She let that comment go unanswered. “My mother taught me to appreciate classical music; to listen for the subtleties and nuances of the different instruments, and how the compositions were written and arranged to make the most of the blended sounds.”

“My instructor always told me if I could play classical guitar, I could play anything on the guitar.”

“Do you still play?”

“Not as well as I used to, but it’s one of the few joys in life I have.”

“Would you play for me, later, after the concert?”

“I’d love to.”

She stood and stretched, adjusting the long skirt Gary had bought for her from the mall. It felt strange to not only be dressed as an adult, but to act like one as well. The skirt and blouse almost felt decadent; the cost of getting adult fashions in a child’s size hadn’t bothered Gary a bit, and while she’d originally resisted the idea, she was glad he’d persisted. All of the clothes she owned, and most of the clothes readily available in her size, looked like little girl clothes. I don’t want to go out with the girl Katy tonight, Gary had said when encouraging her to try on the outfit. I want to go out with Katya, the woman.

Excusing herself for a trip to the bathroom, she returned just as the conductor bowed to the audience and ascended to his platform. She sat down and snuggled back under Gary’s arm, surprised that – despite her previous performance with him – the hand never strayed from a polite contact.

Only three compositions were slated for the second half of the concert, but the three pieces with their various movements, filled most of another hour. The audience stood for a thundering ovation, the musicians bowed, and people began to meander away from the amphitheater.

They held hands as they walked towards the parking lot, and there was again a marked difference in the way it felt versus all the previous times she’d held hands with a client. Maybe it was just her imagination, but always before it had seemed the hand holding hers imparted a sense of control; this had more the sense of cooperation. She didn’t have the feeling that he would grip tighter if she tried to slip her hand away, and just for an experiment did so. He made no comment when her hand withdrew, and when she’d finished brushing her hair back with both hands, his resumed the contact with no greater pressure than before.

“I saw you kissing that child,” a woman’s voice scolded from behind them. “I should call the police on you.”

They stopped and turned around. “Excuse me?” Gary said.

The woman ignored him. “You don’t have to be afraid, sweetheart. You can tell me if he’s done anything to you. I won’t let him hurt you.” She reached for Katya’s hand.

Katya twisted her free hand away from the woman. “Look, lady; I know you mean well, but I’m not a child. I’m twenty-four, and you’re interrupting one of the nicest dates I’ve ever been on.”

“You don’t have to cover for him. There are laws to deal with men like him.”

She pulled a cell phone from her purse. “There are laws to deal with women like you, too. You either leave us alone, or I’ll call the police myself.”


“Listen; I know I look like a child, but I’m not. The cosmetics industry may think the idea of looking eternally young is great, but I can tell you from experience it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you’re really insistent on butting into my life, I can give you the phone number of a police lieutenant to call, but he’ll tell you the same thing I just did. You can waste your time making phone calls if you want, but I’m going back to enjoying my night out.”

The woman stared at her, with mouth slightly open.

“Is that offer to play your guitar for me still good?” she asked Gary.

He smiled and turned back towards the car, leaving the concerned woman behind. “Anytime you’d like,” he said.

She wrapped both arms around him, walking almost sideways to maintain the embrace. I could get used to this, she thought.