Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Excerpt for 24 September, 2017

For this week's excerpt, I decided to skip Episode 1, Scene 2, as Scene 3 carries on the explanation started in Scene 1. Scene 2 introduces a recurring Antagonist in the story, with the timing coinciding with the events of Scenes 1 and 3, but doesn't add anything necessary for continuity between the two scenes.

Imagining a character of this nature, and how he would view our world, was part of the fun in writing this story. As the story and the character developed, the exercise of seeing our world through his eyes was enlightening in its own way, and I hope that perspective carries through to the reader.

An added bonus to this story, is that the concepts explained here offer me venues for other stories with other characters, and the possibilities are developing in my imagination already. 

The Daedalus Episodes
by Rick Higginson

Episode 1, Scene 3

            Adedeles digested the information before speaking. “Where are we, Nancy? If this is not the world that I knew, then what is it?”

            The van, as Nancy called it, was moving again. It seemed strange to have the sensation of motion, without the awareness of wind moving over his skin. For that matter, to be inside something that was moving was just one more alien facet of his situation.

            “The world you saw in the storm. What you experienced is called a ‘Coincidence Event.’ We knew of them in my world, and had developed a system to predict when a Coincidence Event would occur. We could not predict if it would result in a storm, or if so, where the storm would center. We would send teams to many places around the world, waiting to see if a storm resulted so that we could study it. I was part of one of those teams, and unfortunately was caught by the storm, just as you were.”

            “If there was another world close enough for this to happen, why did we never see it before?”

            “Because, until the Coincidence, it’s not there.”

            “I don’t understand.”

            “I will try to explain it as simply as I can. According to the scientists on my world, at one time there was only one Earth. Something happened that caused a split, leaving the original Earth in one plane of existence, while the new Earth existed in a parallel plane. The scientists call this a ‘Deviation Event.’ At some point, the second Earth also experienced a Deviation Event, resulting in a third Earth on a third plane of existence.”

            “How can you know this?”

            “We have found other individuals, such as you and me, being dropped on our world by Coincidence Storms. When we have them recount as much of the history of their world as they can remember, we find that when they get far enough back, it becomes common with another Earth.”

            “How many of these ‘Earths’ are there?”

            “Before I was cast here, our scientists knew of seventeen. Meeting you, there must be at least eighteen, because we have never seen someone like you from any other Coincidence Events.”

            “Someone like me?”

            “We are not crippled, Adedeles. We have arms and hands instead of wings.” She held up her limb to show him. “On the seventeen other Earths that we know of, this is normal for humans.”

            “Then how do you fly?”

            “With machines on many of the worlds, though in some, they have not yet developed the technology of flight.”

            “If that is the case, then I feel my statement is accurate. You are crippled. You cannot fly.”

            “How do you feed yourself? For that matter, how did your people make the garment you wear, and how did you manage to put it on?”

            “That is a strange question. How would your people do such things?”

            “With our hands, of course, and with fingers that can grasp and hold. Indulge my ignorance, please, and tell me how you do such things.”

            “The same way I pushed you away when you first tried to put the thing in my ear.”

            “You pushed me away?”

            “You must have felt it.”

            “Yes, now that you mention it, I did, but I still don’t know how you did it.”

            “I focused on you, and made you move away.”

            “You can move things with your mind?”

            “Can you not do this?”

            “No, we cannot.” She placed something on the ledge in front of her. “Can you move that from the dashboard?”

            He reached out with his thoughts, taking a moment to explore the item, trying to understand it. “What is this thing? It is very complex for something so small.”

            “It’s a device called a smartphone. We use it to communicate and access information across large distances.”

            He lifted it and brought it close to his face. As he did, one surface of the item suddenly glowed with colorful light. “It produces light. How does it do this?”

            “Electronics. I know what they are, but I can’t explain them, other than they use electricity to make them work.”


            “You have lightning on your world, I assume?”


            “Lightning is electricity. LOTS of electricity.”

            “You capture lightning and make it work for you?”

            “Not the way you’re thinking, but yes, we make electricity work for us.”

            “Does this thing we are in use electricity?”

            “For some things, though the actual motion is from an engine that works on burning gas.”

            “They will not believe any of this when I return home and tell them.”

            “I’m sorry, Adedeles, but you won’t have to worry about that.”

            “You will not allow me to return to my world? You have wonders here, but I just want to go home.”

            “I know. I want to go home, too. The trouble is, Coincidence Events are not that common, and even less so between two particular worlds. It will be many lifetimes before this Earth and your Earth coincide again, and we cannot predict if the coincidence will be close enough to produce a storm. Even then, if we knew that such a coincidence was going to occur sometime soon, we cannot predict where on this world the storm would center, nor do we know how to be sure you would be pulled by it back to your world. We’re stuck here.”

            He returned the device to the dashboard, as Nancy had called it. “I have a family waiting for me. I was soon to take a mate and start a new family. I came here. I must be able to return.”

            “I had a family, too. I had a mate and two small children. I had parents, and siblings. I had friends. Their only consolation is in knowing that the storm itself isn’t fatal, but they have no way of knowing that I have survived here. They had to accept, though, that I was the same as dead for them. I will never see them again. They mourned for me, even as your loved ones will eventually accept they must do for you.”

            “I will find a way to get home.”

            “I hope you do, I honestly do, and I hope when you do, that what you find will work for me as well, but in all the years that the scientists on my world have studied this, they have never found a way to cross at will. This Earth does not even realize the other Earths exist yet, and have not even started to study the phenomenon.”

            “You are crippled. You cannot fly, and you cannot move things without touching them. I will find a way.”

            “Well, until then, you need to know how to get along in this world. There’s a place to stop for the night up ahead, and while I don’t anticipate any trouble, if something happens and we are separated, try to stay away from other humans for now. There is another town a few miles ahead. What we are on is a road, and you should be able to see it from above. Keep it in sight until you see more buildings, and then look for this van. I’ll put the blanket on top of it to make it easier to spot from above. Stay out of sight if you can, and watch. When you see me, come down and we can head out again.”

            She stopped the vehicle. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

            While he waited, he reached out with his mind and examined the van. He could sense many different parts, but had no idea what function they all served. Nancy had pulled on something to open the side, and he gently probed about to find the workings. A small stub was recessed into the side, and he wrapped his focus around it. With only the slightest force at first, he found that it was loose at one end and flexed away from the side at the other. With a bit more force, it pivoted out with a click, and a section of the side moved backwards. He shifted his focus to the section, and felt it slide smoothly back a short distance before he stopped it. Satisfied that he now understood how he could escape the van if needed, he reversed his push and slid it back to its original position.

            I can escape this thing if I choose. I will learn how to escape this world as well.

            Nancy returned and moved the van to a different side of the building. “Our room is right here. No one is around at the moment, so let’s get inside before anyone notices and starts asking too many questions.” Once they were inside, she seemed to relax a bit. “Did they give you anything to eat?”


            “What kind of food did you have on your world?”

            “We would get fruit and nuts from the trees, sometimes birds and eggs, and if they were shallow in the high streams, we would pull fish from the water.”

            “You didn’t eat grains or vegetables?”

            “Where do you get those?”

            “They grow in or on the ground.”

            “We avoid the ground. There are creatures on the ground in my world that are dangerous to us. This is the longest I have ever been on the ground.”

            “There is a place nearby where I can get some food for you. I want you to stay here, and if anyone comes to the door, don’t try to answer them – they won’t understand you because they don’t have one of the earpieces. Don’t try to open the door, and don’t look outside. I suspect it won’t be long until the world learns of you anyway, but if you’re lucky, you’ll have a little time to adjust first.”

            When she was gone, he started to explore the room the same way he had explored the van, studying things to try and understand how he might use them if needed. How does one live as the only uncrippled person in a world?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Excerpt for September 17th, 2017

It has been far too long since I posted any excerpts here on my blog. Part of the reason was that Friday Fiction dwindled away, though I would love to see it return with many of my writer friends from Faithwriters and beyond.

For this new entry, I’ve posted the opening scene from last year’s NaNoWriMo project, “The Daedalus Episodes.” One of the stories in the Pod series is “The Daedalus Child,” about a young man born with his arms engineered as wings, who ends up as the living model for an animated superhero character, Daedalus. I had thought for a while about writing some of the stories about the superhero version of the character, and so made that my NaNo project last year. This story is still in the original draft stage, and I expect to begin revising it sometime soon, but for your reading pleasure, here is the introduction of the character who will become Daedalus.

The Daedalus Episodes

 by Rick Higginson

Episode 1 Scene 1

            She walked between two deputies without pausing, earning her condemning looks and a staccato challenge. In response, she flashed her ID over her shoulder and continued without looking behind her. Once inside, she went straight to the small office in back and entered without knocking. “Are you in charge here?”

            The sergeant stood up. “I’m going to assume, ma’am, from your demeanor that you’re with the Feds.”

            “Nancy Rich.” She opened her ID again. “Domestic Security. I’m told you have a ‘specimen’ that is of interest to us.”

            “I’m Sergeant Jeremiah, and I’m the ranking deputy on site.” He took a closer look at her ID. “Yeah, we got a ‘specimen,’ though that’s an interesting way to describe it.”

            “Take me to it, please.”

            He squeezed by her in the tight confines of the office. “This way, ma’am.” Gesturing to two other deputies standing beside a security door, he waited until one unlocked it and held it open for them. “None of us has ever seen the likes of this – thing – before, so I hope you understand the additional security.”

            “Understood. How was it captured?”

            “Two of my deputies were on patrol and found themselves in a weird storm yesterday. They pulled off to the side to wait it out, when they said it just dropped into the bushes a short ways in front of them. It was unconscious when they got to it, so they bundled it up and brought it here.”

            “I see. Has it regained consciousness?”

            “Yes, ma’am, about two hours ago.”

            “Has it given you any difficulties?”

            “No, ma’am. It’s just huddled in the back corner of the holding cell. We tried talking to it, but it never responded to anything we said.”

            They stepped in front of the cell. At the rear wall, a human-like head poked just above a wrinkled flesh-colored membrane.

            “What’s it hiding behind?”

            “Best I can describe it, ma’am, is that the thing has wings, kind of like a bat.”

            She considered the information, and slowly exhaled a deep breath. “Are there cameras monitoring this area?”

            “Of course.”

            “I want them shut off. No video or audio recording, and I want all your people out of this area before I approach the specimen.”

            “With all due respect, ma’am, I’d strongly advise against that. We don’t have any idea what it’s liable to do if approached.”

            “Look at the face, sergeant. I’d say it’s about the equivalent of mid to late teens in age, and it’s terrified. It woke up locked in a cell, held by people it didn’t know.” She raised her eyes to meet the sergeant’s, and smiled. “The reason I’m here is that I am very good at what I do, and I don’t anticipate having any trouble with the specimen.” She pulled a folded piece of paper from her purse. “If you need any more convincing, this is the order giving me custody and authority over the specimen and the situation. Unlock the cell, and leave me to do my job.”

            He read over the document before giving her a skeptical look. “I’d feel a whole lot better if you’d at least allow me and another of my deputies to remain here and keep an eye on you, just in case.”

            “Go, and turn off all the monitoring equipment.” Her expression turned stern. “And close the door behind you.”

            When he had complied, she opened the cell door slowly. Before entering, she removed a small device from her purse, pressed a switch, and then placed it on the flat cross bar midway up the cell wall. The specimen watched her as she approached, but made no move either towards her, or to try and keep as much distance between them as it could in the small confines.

            Crouching in front of him, she pulled a tiny earpiece from a container in her purse. She held it where the specimen could see it, before she slowly reached to put it in his ear.

            Her hand moved involuntarily away from its head, so she held her other hand where it could see, and then made a show of removing an identical earpiece from her own ear. She placed the first one into her other ear, and then again reached to place her own in its ear. This time, she was able to insert it, and then leaned back. “Can you understand me now? Nod your head if you can.”

            Its expression turned to puzzlement, but it nodded.

            “Good. What I just gave you is a translator device. Do you have a name?”

            “I am called Adedeles.”

            “I am called Nancy. Are you hurt, Adedeles?”

            “I am bruised from the fall, but nothing serious. What is this place? Why is everyone I see crippled?”

            “That will take some explaining, but for the moment, you are safe. Can you stand and walk?”

            “Yes.” With a little effort, it rose to its feet, holding its wings folded in front of it.

            “May I look you over, to see if you have any injuries you are not aware of?”

            It held its wings out slightly, revealing a sling-type garment that wrapped over both shoulders and then through the crotch. He turned about, allowing her to examine his lean frame and fleshy wings.

            “You have a few scrapes back here, too, but nothing that looks worrisome. I need to get you away from here. Will you come with me?”

            “Will you answer my questions if I do?”

            “Yes, I promise, I will answer all of them to the best of my ability.” She took the blanket from the bunk. “Let me drape this over you for now.” She wrapped the blanket over his shoulders, bringing it around for him to grip with his thumbs, which were the only digit he had that resembled a human finger. “For now, don’t speak until we are away from this place. It will be safer for you if the people here see you as quiet and passive.”

            “I have been quiet and passive since I woke up here.”

            She smiled, and placed her hand lightly on his back through the blanket. She took her jamming device from the crossbar and placed it back in her purse as they walked through the cell door. The outer door opened to her knock, and she led Adedeles out into the main room of the substation.

            Most of the deputies backed away, some with their hands moving towards their holstered weapons as they formed a loose circle around her.

            Nancy waved her hand. “Your fears are unfounded. He presents no threat to any of you.”

            One of the deputies kept his hand near his sidearm. “Where are you taking it?”

            “Your sergeant has my authorization to take him into Domestic Security custody. You didn’t really think you were going to keep him here indefinitely, did you?”

            “There should be more than just you.”

            She strode over in front of the deputy, with Adedeles staying just behind her. She was a good eight inches shorter than the muscular deputy, and he gazed at her with unmasked doubt. “You think I can’t take care of myself, deputy?”

            “Let’s just say I think this warrants more than just one middle-aged, overweight woman.” He cut his eyes between her and Adedeles, keeping his hand poised over his pistol.

            “You’re an idiot.” With a swift motion, she snatched the pistol from his holster, ejected the magazine and cleared the chamber. Before the pistol hit the floor, she seized his hand and swept his legs from beneath him. As the pistol clattered on the tile, she pinned him down and looked about the room. “Anyone else want to doubt my ability to take care of myself?”

            Sergeant Jeremiah raised his voice. “All right, people. That’s enough. Stand down and allow Agent Rich to do her job.”

            She released the deputy. “Thank you sergeant.” Everyone continued to stare at her, some fearfully. She laughed gently to help ease some of the tension. “If you’re worried I’m going to pull out some flashy device and erase your memories, I can assure you that technology has not been invented yet, that I’m aware of, and you’re all going to be talking about this tomorrow. You might want to keep the talk amongst yourselves for now, just in case the Government decides to classify this, but I have no way to make you forget what you’ve seen.”

She ushered Adedeles out the door and to her van. Every deputy followed them out and watched as she settled her charge in the vehicle. Without another word to the assembled officers, she got into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and pulled back onto the highway.

            Once she was a few miles up the road and confident none of the deputies were following, she adjusted the mirror to look at Adedeles. “All right. This should be private enough for your questions. As to your first question, you are still on Earth, just not the Earth you are familiar with.”

            “I do not understand.”

            “You were caught in a storm. Describe the storm to me.”

            “I had never seen a storm like it before. I was trying to get to shelter, but I could not seem to fly against it.” He hesitated a moment. “I thought I must have injured my head, because I thought I saw…” He looked out the side window of the van. “It was not possible, though.”

            “You saw another world.”

            “How did you know?”

            She stopped the van in a roadside turnout, and then twisted in the seat to face him. “Because I saw one in the storm that brought me here from my Earth, many years ago.”