Thursday, September 22, 2011

Friday Fiction for September 23, 2011

Welcome to Friday Fiction, hosted right here at Pod Tales and Ponderings this week. Look at the end of this post for the Linky Widget, and feel free to post your Fiction Link, and then read the other submissions on this beautiful autumn weekend. Yep. Summer is over, at least by the calendar.

The First Quarter of 2009 was an International Theme on the Faithwriters Weekly Challenge, and I decided to just have a little fun when the topic of Canada came up. I loved the show, “Home Improvement,” and this vignette just seemed to fit the topic. I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Wilson the Metaphor

Topic: Canada

Challenge Entry, week of January 29, 2009

Highly Commended, Masters Level; #9 in Editor’s Choice

Bob was always interesting to watch television with. He always saw allegories and metaphors in the oddest places, and loved sharing them. I suspect he was the kid the English teachers loved, and the rest of us hated. While we were scratching our heads wondering what on Earth the author was trying to say in a book, Bob was spouting off fantastic ideas as though they should have been completely obvious to all of us.

We were sitting in the dayroom, watching old reruns of “Home Improvement” when Bob had one of his epiphanies. “Bravo,” he said at the commercial break. “A brilliant play on international politics!”

“I thought we were watching silly old comedy shows to forget about politics,” I said.

“That’s the beauty of it! This is so masterfully done, most people would never catch on that they’re getting political commentary!”

“Political commentary? Um, the Tool Man just asked his neighbor for advice, misunderstood most of what he was told, and did more grunting than conversing. I didn’t see anything political.”

“Oh, come on; you don’t get it? Seriously? Think about it; Wilson is Canada. It’s so obvious!”

I knew I was going to regret asking. “Wilson, the nut-job neighbor, is Canada? How did you reach that conclusion?”

“You’re kidding, right? Look; throughout the show, Wilson is only perceived as a nut-job. In almost every show, though, he’s up to something that looks completely weird to his neighbor, but that he’s always doing well. He’s smart, competent, wise, a good neighbor, doesn’t cause trouble, and yet, is never really seen in the show. Not once, in all the episodes that they aired, did they show the actor’s full face until the final bow of the finale.”

“That half-hidden face thing was just a running gag in the show.”

“It was genius, I tell you! Just as Tim Taylor never really sees Wilson’s face, so also most Americans never really look at Canada. We know our neighbor is there, but we don’t take the time to see him.”

“So Tim Taylor is America, then?”

“More like the American Government, I’d say. Supremely confident, marginally competent, and just as likely to mess things up as to fix them. If it wasn’t for Al, who is kind of like the average American worker, Tim would never accomplish anything. Wilson, on the other hand, is always there in his back yard, quietly going about his own business, and is only really thought about when he’s needed. You know, like Canada.”

I was glad we weren’t watching “Two and a Half Men”; I didn’t want to even think about what kind of political metaphors Bob would find in the innuendo and scatological humor of that show. Innuendo? Scatological? Yikes; now I’m starting to use college words like Bob does. Maybe I should see if the Three Stooges are on.

“Canada isn’t the star of the show,” Bob continued. “It just borders on our back yard, comporting itself with quiet dignity and staying out of trouble, while we bumble about and think ourselves superior. Yet, no matter what, Canada is always there at the fence, with that friendly greeting of ‘Hi-dee-ho, good neighbor!”

“Well, except for maybe Quebec, which is more likely to say, ‘bonjour mes amis.”

He didn’t miss a beat. “It makes you wonder what Wilson ever got out of the deal.”

“They did have that assurance that, if the Soviet Union ever came across Alaska to North America, we’d have to deal with them first.”

“Hmm…” he said. “I’ll have to watch the show some more and see if any Cold War metaphors show up. You may be on to something.”

I was on to something, all right. I was on to a rerun of Mythbusters on another channel. I’d like to see Bob come up with political metaphors for two guys blowing stuff up just to test urban legends.

Wilson equals Canada, yeah…

…then again, he might just be on to something, too.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Friday Fiction for September 9, 2011

Welcome to Friday Fiction. I’ve been a bit out of the loop the last couple of weeks, between a death in the family, and being swamped at work. This week, however, I’m hosting, so I figured I’d better pick something good to post.

For NaNoWriMo 2010, I wrote “The Erickson Exigency,” which was the “prequel” to the rather light-hearted story “Hogs of the Heavens” (the first part of which posted for Friday Fiction almost exactly 2 years ago). Anyone who read that story would already know the basic ending of “The Erickson Exigency,” so I don’t feel too bad posting the Epilogue here. I need to do a lot of revision work to the story, but the Epilogue isn’t going to change much. I still like how it worked out. When you’re done, please follow the Linky tool to the other terrific submissions this week.



The Colony was growing. The fields extended farther than they had a year ago, and new buildings had been constructed a short distance away from the modules. Violet could see it all on the orbital surveillance cameras, and yet, it had been over a standard year since that final communication from Georgia.

The solitude was getting to her. The previous day, she had thought she’d seen Brunfeld in their old duty berth. He’d made one of his typical cutting remarks to her, before she’d blinked and banished the imagined ghost.

“System,” she said, feeling foolish before even making the request. “Status of ‘com link.”

“All attempts to restore ‘com link have failed. It has been three hundred and eighty two standard days since the last active ‘com link.”

“Terminate attempts,” she said, resigning herself to the fact that whatever problems prevented the communication, were not likely to be fixed so long after the fact. “Respond if interrogated, but end all planet-based communication attempts.”

“Confirm instructions: Terminate drop-probe data reception?”

“Confirmed. Data is now redundant and unnecessary.”

“Communications terminated.”

“Continue broadcasting distress message into space for thirty minutes, once every twenty four hours.”

“Duration of instruction?”



She left the observatory, and went first to the centrifuge. She took the weapons that she had kept close at hand for months, and packed them away in one of the exercise center lockers. She made her bed, and shut down the terminal on her workstation. Back at the transfer shuttle door, she turned and took one last look at the makeshift berth. “System, extinguish main exercise center lighting.”

The centrifuge went mostly dark, with just a few scattered auxiliary lights to keep it from becoming dangerous for crew to navigate through. She boarded the transfer shuttle, and rode it back to weightlessness.

With fluid grace, she floated down corridors and flipped around corners, arriving first on Deck Six. Once there, she moved purposefully towards the SusAn compartment. Chamber six dash kilo forty two was hers, and she’d lost track of the number of times she had made this trip in the past year.

She floated over the chamber, thinking for perhaps the thousandth time how much it looked like a coffin, and how surrendering to the idea was just one step shy of suicide. In her training, her instructors had told her a human could survive for centuries in SusAn, though no one had ever tried to prove it.

If no one ever came, she would sleep in the chamber until her body could no longer sustain itself. She would die in her sleep, never knowing just how long she had waited in vain.

If she continued as she was, madness would eventually take her, and she would likely kill herself by making a stupid mistake during some delusional moment, or kill herself intentionally because she couldn’t take the loneliness any longer.

SusAn beckoned, because the loneliness was already unbearable.

She removed her clothing, and placed it in the storage drawer at the foot end of the chamber. “System, open chamber six dash kilo forty two.”

The cover slid away, and a warm light filled the interior. “Chamber diagnostics normal,” the system reported.

She dropped into the chamber, facing up towards the lid. With a feeling of calm surrender, she folded her arms across her chest. “System, induce SusAn.”

“Wake-up criteria?” the system asked.

“Wake upon external request.”

“Confirmed,” the system said, and the lid slid closed.

She had prayed many prayers in the past year; some eloquent, some ordinary, and some anguished cries. As the light in the chamber changed to pale blue, and the field started to build, she recited one final prayer.

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord…”

Before she finished, SusAn held her.