Thursday, May 13, 2010

Friday Fiction for May 14, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Catrina Bradley on her blog, A Work in Progress. Visit Catrina’s blog to read all the submissions this week, and to add a link to your own.

Maelstrom’s Eye continues this week, with some work in the front yard.

Maelstrom’s Eye

Part 5

For when they shall say, “Peace and safety;” then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:3

One of the strengths of Maelstrom is that it embodies the ultimate in stealth attack. It does not reflect the sunlight, making it impossible to see even a glimmer of it crossing the sky at dusk. Its radar cross section is smaller than that of a pigeon, and it is capable of modifying its orbit at any time. Even if an enemy would know when it last passed overhead, they have no guarantee it will continue on the same vector for the next pass. Unlike a conventional airstrike, then, the target will have no way of knowing that Maelstrom is approaching. If, by chance, they do manage to detect the approach of the weapon Maelstrom has launched against them, it will be with so little time that they will not be able to react and save themselves. In most cases, they will never know what hit them. ~ Western Coalition General Executive Mark des Loupes


Carl tended to the trees in the front yard, making a point of not looking in the direction of the Santos home. Guillermo was sitting on his front porch, and he didn’t want to meet the condemning gaze of the older man again.

The two orange trees and the lemon tree were doing well, and he used the hoe to remove the persistent weeds from the wells at their bases. It was about time for a fresh layer of mulch, and he would have to see how much he had left in the garden shed. If necessary, a call to his favorite nursery would schedule a delivery of several bags on Monday.

Other neighbors worked around their yards, or tackled projects in their garages, while children ran about playing. It reminded him of the Saturdays of his youth, back when he could still run. He hacked at a particularly stubborn weed to distract his mind from the fact that Saturdays were pointless now. One day was little different than another, living on the annuity settlement from the accident. His days were defined by the tasks that needed to be done, and not by an employment or school schedule.

He moved to the avocado trees. They were still young and small, and it would be a few years before he could expect much fruit from them. He examined a branch, pleased at the new growth in recent weeks.

“You should plant roses,” Celia said, walking up behind him.

He gave her a glance over one shoulder and shrugged. From the corner of his eye, he spotted Guillermo watching. “Roses are pretty, but you can’t make guacamole from them.”

“True, but Mama always said flowers help make a house a home.” She touched his arm gently. “I brought you a rosebush to plant.”

Carl turned around, and she held the potted plant out to him. The leaves were vibrant green, and the flowers a delicate pink.

“I think it would look good at the corner of your porch,” she said, and then tilted it so that one of the buds was close to his face. “Sniff – I picked this one because the flowers have a nice fragrance. So many of the hybrid roses have big, colorful flowers, but no smell. What good are roses if they don’t smell like roses?”

He put his nose over the bloom and inhaled deeply. The scent made him think of his grandmother, and he smiled.

“Do you like it?” she asked.

He nodded. “It’s nice, but you really didn’t need to bring me anything.”

“If I needed to, it wouldn’t be much of a gift, would it?” She walked over and placed it on the ground by the porch, and then stepped back with her hands on her hips. “Here, I think – close enough to the walkway to be appreciated, but not so close that you have to keep it constantly pruned back so that your visitors don’t get caught on the thorns.”

“What visitors?” he said, catching up with her. “You’re the only person who ever comes over here.”

“Maybe you’ll decide sometime you want to throw a dinner party.” She poked him playfully in the chest with one finger. “After I’ve taught you how to cook sauces with your tomatoes.”

“I’m still not sure I want to learn to cook or can.”

“I was hired to help you, and the best way I can help you is to teach you how to do things on your own. Maybe you think those frozen meals are okay, but you can’t live the rest of your life eating that stuff. You need to learn to cook some real food.”

“I thought I was the boss here. Are you usually this demanding in all your jobs?”

“When it is important, yes.” She gave him a raised eyebrow look. “Now, would you like to plant your rosebush while I take care of cleaning the bathroom and making your bed? The instructions are on the tag, and when you’re done, you can meet me in the kitchen for your first cooking lesson.”

“It’s going to be pointless to argue with you, isn’t it? Your father warned me you were much like your mother in that regard.”

She just waved her fingers at him in response as she walked into his house.

He looked across the street at Guillermo, whose expression conveyed that he was both confused and not happy with what he had seen. For all your carping about Maelstrom, old man, you’re doing a pretty good imitation of a watchful eye ready to strike.

The shovel was in the garden shed, and he headed towards the gate for the backyard. Like you have anything to worry about anyway. Celia knows I’m not going to try anything, and if she was going to make the first move on someone, it sure wouldn’t be on a broken cripple.

to be continued...


Sara Harricharan said...

Awww! Poor Carl! I think he and Celia would make a cute couple--at least, the way their characters seem to compliment each other. ^_^

This was a good installment, lots of thoughts in his head and a little more about him. I liked that last jab about Malestrom at the end--in comparison to Celia's father. That made me laugh--good job! can't wait for next week! ^_^

Catrina Bradley said...

Bravo! You brought out a lot in your characters this week, even silent Papa on his porch. Even tho there was no action per se, the story was so interesting I gpt all caught up in it. Now that's good writing!

Bear said...

Bear enjoyed the comparison between Malestrom and the father at the ending also. She also especially admires your use of adjectives and well-chosen words. You don't overdo it, and pick out really descriptive words that add much to your story.

Shelley Ledfors said...

This is the first I've read of this series...but I like it! I hope to get a chance to read the previous posts.

Mari said...

This is my forst reading, too, but it was easy to jump right in and get a feel for what was going on. Well done. I enjoyed it.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I like Celia's take-charge approach to the things that "matter." You have developed your characters well this week.