Fringe – An Introduction

This short story was created in a new universe that I’m excited to be launching this year. I hope you enjoy!

 


The crew of the city ship caught many of the new borders off guard. Many were greeted with hugs, instead of the usual ‘hello’ and ‘welcome aboard’. Some got smooched on the cheek, or ‘goosed’ as older earthlings might call it. That last one didn’t typically go over well. To an on looker, it was truly amusing. Random reactions were just the start of things.

A young woman with soft purple eyes snickered when one of the welcoming committee leaned in a little too close to a gentleman and got shoved on their bottom for it. The Doesi were as affected as the humans. Who knew …silly thought really because naturally, she knew they would all be.

A simple gas changed the way each of them behaved. It was resourceful, simple, and paved the way for her to do the things she wanted to do. City ships were shopping centers and rarely visited the fringe. Elaborate hotel style rooms, shopping hall after shopping hall offered the best Earth and Menlos had to offer. The plethora of options made things easy for the resourceful type of person. She planned to take advantage of it, and the small explosions she set about the ship and station. The city ship would be docked for several days. Might even stay a week on the medical station, once they learn about the gas being dispersed throughout their ventilation systems.

She placed a small mask over her nose and mouth. Activating the stealth feature allowed her to blend into the crowd stepping into the ship. Someone grabbed her arm and she spun, smiled, winked, and moved on.

The bag over her shoulder felt heavy and it was time to begin to empty it. The Doesi hybrid walked among the crowd, following the group going to the entertainment center of the ship. It was a smooth transition from elaborate entrance to over-the-top decorated event halls.

Lights flashed. Each sound tried to be louder than the last. The carpet in this section was thick, cushioned, deep red. A high energy color for a high energy place. She knew the entire design of the area was dedicated to the stalls, gambling halls, and event stages. Everything was intended to draw people in and encourage them to spend money. Granted, it didn’t work for every species in the galaxy, but this city ship catered to specific species who were easily drawn in with these designs. Thankfully, that meant the whole area would be distracted.

Distracted was good.

A man walked up behind her, much too close. “You look nice from behind.”

She laughed. The gas was working fast for the new comers. “Thanks.”

He shifted positions to be able to take her hand and she pulled back. He smiled. “Awaa, come on. We’ll have fun!”

He was so enthusiastic she almost had to remind herself it was the gas talking. “I have to take care of a few little things first. Tell me how to reach you and I’ll follow up when I’m done.”

“Promise?”

“Sure could.” She laughed.

He pulled up contact information and sent it right to her. He moved off with high energy in his step. Within a few minutes, she noticed he was already talking to another pretty face.

The woman made her way through one of the larger venues to the far end. There would be another ventilation system for this area. Once she was hidden away a small ball was lifted from her bag. She placed it in the ventilation shaft and stepped back out to the large room. A few minutes later a small explosion spread the amorous gas throughout the room.

She continued to breathe normally through her mask.

A soft buzz in her ear told her she needed to get somewhere private. She moved out of the main event venue, into the hallways filled with people. She was confident this was not going to be heard with this crowd. Tapping her earpiece once she began, “Oh, hi. Long time no hear from. So sorry it’s loud. So many people are here for the city ship. Are you?” She spoke with a smile on her face.

The voice in her ear responded. “If you prefer to listen that will be fine. We have acquired several of the items you ventured to obtain. I will provide the data to you directly.”

“Great. Did you have any requests?”

“No, I do not.”

“Always so formal about things. You should relax. Let things go sometimes.” Her partner was always even-toned, rarely emotional, even more rarely did she get excited about anything. “Should we look into that boat we were talking about?”

“That would be advisable. The more established boat could use several.”

“That’s fantastic. I should let you get back to the programming and things. Touch base later?”

“Understood.” A brief pause was punctuated by, “Luz, watch yourself.”

“Don’t worry about me. Cover your end and yourself. We’ll be good.” Luz tapped her earpiece again and continued down the hall. As she moved she did her best to avoid jostling the small gaseous bombs in her bag. There were intended destinations. A crowded hallway, while entertaining, was not the right location for maximum disbursement.

Once she entered a room filled with on-board pools, she grinned. It was one of those places she’d love to relax if she didn’t have something else to accomplish. She walked right into the room for maintaining this section of the ship and settled one of her little bombs in a strategic location.

Luz took in the visitor room as she moved out of the pool closet. So many people clad in tiny clothing playing in the water enticed her almost to distraction. The small explosion brought her back to her senses. Two more needed placed and she had extras if needed.

Luz found a group touring the functional parts of the ship. She joined the tour and followed the crowd. It didn’t take much to identify which members of the crew were already being affected by her gas. Some were giddy despite sharing historical details about the ship. When they moved the group around a corner, a tour guide ran into the wall. He laughed so hard there was no way to tell he hit a wall.

The tour continued to walk past the medical center, which had a large glass wall. They watched the nurses and staff unload supplies. The guide spoke about something they should know if they were going to be on the ship. She was fascinated by the items they were loading. Few were the ones she marked on the station though. There were many who could benefit from the supplies. Unfortunately, they were not her target.

She followed the tour along the hallway, through the ship, and into the food area. The tour would linger here long enough for her to step away and return, unnoticed. She did. As they left the area an hour later a small explosion could be heard. Luz smiled.

The group followed through the halls to the nerve center of the ship. There the typical manner of management for the large ship was explained. They were introduced to members of the senior ship staff. Luz was impressed with the smooth nature of their organization. The captain almost made her regret having to gas the crew.

A short while later, as they left the bridge, a small explosion was heard. A few moments later laughter seemed to roll off the bridge as the door slid shut. Luz continued along with the tour as they moved towards the engineering section. An hour after she was confident the crew was fully compromised, Luz began working. Her first stop was to the shuttle stores. Nothing they had there would be what she needed, but she found one that would be a good base. She set up several pattern enhancers.

These enhancers provide a method of identifying the molecular design of any person or item. It could then send that information elsewhere to be constituted. From energy to physical form was no small feat. It wasn’t something she or her partner used often because of the demands on resources. Today the process was needed.

Once the enhancers had been set up, Luz took a walk. She identified small items first in the ship she was using as a base, then in the store as a whole. She could not find parts in the store. Instead, she began selecting parts she knew they required and placed them in the enhancer. She tapped her earpiece and continued to lift parts they needed. When she felt as though there were plenty in the location, she contacted her partner again. “I am moving onto our next resource gathering. These should both be helpful for the distraction and the ship.”

“Understood. Are we on schedule?” “We are. I will be in contact once I have acquired the target.” Luz disconnected the conversation and left the small ship. She walked through the city ship to the engineering section. Thanks to the tour, it was an easy walk.

She pocketed a few items before getting information from one of the crewmen. He shared various expectations of the crew with her that helped her determine what the next distraction should be. She slipped into a small hidden closet when the opportunity presented itself. There she reprogramed a small flat device to project an electrical overcharge. After leaving it flat against the panel, she walked away.

The next stop was the brig, she waited by the front. It was a waiting area likely for family members to pick up drunk associates. A few minutes later the power dropped then shifted to backup in the brig. “Oh, no!” Luz looked at the guard. “My brother was going to meet me here. Is it still safe?”

The guard smiled at her and nodded. “Of course it is.” He pinched his brows. “Why was he going to meet you down here?”

“He said he was bringing an unwanted guest from our ship here so they could return to the main worlds for trial.” She shrugged. “Do you want the transfer files?”

“Yes, please. We can get that done before he gets here.” The low red light was enough for her to watch his hands move across the tablet.

She leaned forward and placed a hand on the surface. The surface resulted in the name, ‘Pollyanna Ura Tinx’. She smiled.

“Well, Miss Pollyanna. This has you listed as a bounty partnership with your brother Pho Tinx. I assume you’ve got all the paperwork in order?”

“I do, Mister…” She smiled then bit her lower lip as she trailed off. “I’m sorry, what is your name?”

“You can call me Phil.” His grin grew and he leaned closer to her.

“Well, Phil, where should I submit the data?” She walked her fingers up his arm. “Or should I just fill you in on all the details?”

“I am happy to take the information either way.” He winked. “I’ll let you pick.”

Luz sat on the desk, slid a hand into her pocket, then touched his face softly. “I think we should do the paperwork and plan to have a special conversation once we’re done.”

Phil nodded, pulled up the data port, yawned, sat, then began snoring.

Luz shook her head. “That was far too easy.” She grabbed his credentials, including a copy of his palm print, and made her way into the brig. As she walked, lit by the red light and soft hum, she identified a strange cell at the end. “Of course they’d put her in there. I bet they have the environmental controls wrong too.”

Luz stood outside the cell, made a clicking sound, and waited for a response. When it came, she took a few moments to identify a way to get the room opened. It was not the same as the others, even in the closure. She studied the lock, used the palm print she obtained, and input a few coded details. The door opened with the sound of gas rushing into the room. Luz’s stomach tightened. The door slid open.

On the other side stood a tall, slender woman with thin and white skin. Her large dark eyes encompassed her face, but the skin was recessed against her skeleton. Luz clicked twice and the woman’s head gestured towards her gently.

She exhaled. “I’m glad you’re as okay as you can be. Now, let’s get you home.” The woman’s head lowered again and returned upright. Luz unzipped a pocket and pulled out a large cloak. “This will keep you warm and covered while we move to our vessel.” The woman put on the cloak. Luz also handed her a small packet. “This has sustenance to help you make it through. Something fitting for you instead of a human or a doesi.”

The woman’s hands reached out and grabbed the small packet with great care in her six fingers. After several minutes the colors in the brig began to shift. Luz started out of the detainment center and moved back among the crowd. She knew, as long as they stuck together, things would be fine. The pair pushed through the halls at a much slower pace than Luz could have gone on her own. The people were still distracted, laughing, and she had at least one more explosion planned far from where they were going.

They would be fine.

The gas would not affect her friend, nor would she be affected thanks to her mask. Several members of the bridge crew were in the gambling hall as they walked by. Luz knew they would get through this without problem. Another ship might be more prepared, but one that visited the fringe didn’t expect anything like this.

They should have.

Luz knew they had no idea what she was capable of. They didn’t even know she was there. The crew knew people she allowed them to see. Among the tour, she was a timid mother and a flirty university student. In engineering, she was one of them. In the brig, she was a bounty hunter. Here, among the crowd, she was just one of the visitors who were finding their inhibition’s gone, their amorous emotions amplified, and ability to be easily swayed ready for a sober mind to take advantage of.

They pushed through the throngs of people. Once they reached the shuttle bay of the ship, she found a unique exit. She turned and looked at the much taller woman. “We’ve got one more loud noise and then we will be out of here.” The woman nodded again, in her exaggerated manner.

Luz knew she was understood, but also knew the woman didn’t speak their language well.

A noise resonated along the hull of the large city ship. The vibration shook the floors. A rush of people raced from the cargo hold. Luz indicated a small door on the outer edge of the room. Her associate followed and they stepped off that ship, onto the station. Within minutes they were in another vessel on their way to her home world and from there Luz’s ship. Luz tapped her ear piece. “Target acquired.”

“Distraction successful,” crackled over the line. “I will prepare your arrival.”

“See you soon.”

Abstract scientific background – planets in space, nebula and stars. Elements of this image furnished by NASA nasa.gov

#30ShortStoriesin30Days Challenge Story

Inspirational motivation quote Every moment is a story

“I have learned that many people have their own approach to many things.” She spun around with her skirt flaring a bit. Her warm expression met the students’ gaze. “That includes for gathering information.” One of the students nodded. The young woman smiled and walked to the whiteboard. “Let’s demonstrate this.”

She wrote out several lines of information on the board. They were not connected or structured. “Here is your exercise. All of the information you need is on the board. Your job is to get into a group of three and connect that data yourselves in a way that answers the question: What are we working on next?”

One of the screens in front of her indicated they had a question. “How can I help you, Matty?”

“How are we going to group up, Ms. Mason?”

“You’ll pair up through the secondary room assortment. It’s an option built into the virtual conference room we’re using. It’s like having mini-rooms. You have five minutes to take down the notes on the board. While you’re doing that, I’ll get the rooms arranged.” She smiled and settled behind her computer. She set a timer because the situation often challenged her measurement of time in a way things never did before. She began mentally sorting the rooms, trying to remember who had been friends. Once she sorted things the way she expected to, she initiated but didn’t activate the first room. As the timer went off, she stood again and walked in front of the camera and whiteboard. “All set?”

Much like it would normally have been, she heard the class all start speaking at once. The patient teacher allowed them to yammer on about one thing or another for a few minutes before she clapped loudly. “Come, come. I’m going to separate the rooms. You’ll work out the problem and in twenty five minutes I’ll rejoin all of us to discuss the next plan.”

The groans almost made everything sound normal. She settled down, activated the rooms as she recalled the intention to do so. While they worked on their projects, she began creating a quick survey to assess how well they worked together. She then worked to grade their prior assignments.

It didn’t take long before that timer expired. She popped into each of the groups to check on them. By the time she had spent time in each of the smaller groups, she brought them back together for a moment before moving onto their next class. She updated the virtual classroom for each of them to leave their group’s name and guess. They closed the virtual classroom, Cynthia Mason pulled up her mask and took this moment to make her way to the cafeteria for lunch.

It was an hour earlier than her usual time, but with the current limitations, she didn’t want to complicate things. After paying for her meal through a quick touchless method, she took it back to her classroom. There she tied into another teacher who was also on a break and they discussed the changes at length. So much would stay the same, but other parts had changed.

Daily students would come into the school. Some students in some classes attend live. Some students would always attend virtually. Now, she had finished the first virtual class. This was going to take some getting used to. The friend she was speaking with felt the same. As the next class began, she smiled to see a few students actually enter the classroom. She encouraged them to sit at the color seats that fit their assigned group.

Despite the masks, she still enjoyed conversation with the students. They spoke at length about the new situation, the adjustments, and the school year going forward. As the class period came to an end, she shared the class’s online home with the students. “When you get home tonight, please log in and tell me what you remember from our class today.”

The group funneled out with the occasional, “Remember social distancing,” reminder as they go out the door. Once the room is quiet again, Ms. Mason returned to her desk to assess what she has left for the day. With only one more class period, she examined the roster and one or two students meandered in. She stopped them briefly while she whipped down three desks. Once she felt satisfied, they sat down and she began the camera again. As the bell started the class, she created the meeting room that automatically emailed all of the students assigned to the class.

“Please, take out your Chromebooks, and let’s connect with your new classmates.” She smiled and waited for the students to begin logging in. Once her board indicated the whole class was logged in, she began discussing the new year ahead. She was better about going over the instructions and information than at the start of the day. She felt confident about the adjustment to work going forward.

She sent her last class off with a greeting and encouragement for the remote learning period for the next day or two.

The next hour was spent wiping down doors, pencils, boxes, tables, and the like. Everything her students could have touched, breathed on, or encountered got sanitized. She reflected on the differences again. Cleaning was always a part of the day. It wasn’t stepped up by much this year, but she could look forward to knowing they were going to run an additional army of sanitizing janitors cleaning every part of every classroom every night for the remainder of the school year.

They would be healthier, better prepared, and resilient. She knew this class of students would be the most resilient students she ever taught because, like she and her peers, they will have adapted to unique challenges throughout the year. This year, no matter what faced them, it was going to be a good year.

Everyone worked diligently to make that happen. After her first day with her students, she knew they would be too.

She prepared the next morning’s online class, then closed her classroom door for the night.

Lessons Learned after a week in the 30 Short Stories in 30 Days Challenge

Challenge Accepted background

It’s been a fun full week (okay 6 days) in my 30 short stories in 30 day’s challenge. I’ve learned a lot so far and I’m sure I’ll learn even more throughout the month. A few things I’m really happy to share are discussed below.

1 – Yes, you can write 30 short stories in 30 days. I’ve done 6 in 6 days so far.

That being said, I’m finding some of my short stories could be sections of one of my other series or books. So, it’s possible they’ll be adjusted and absorbed. It caught me off guard that I was doing that. I’ve shared sections of the longer stories that will likely be sucked into the other books and I’ve shared one so far that’s a complete short written in a style that’s not my typical.

2 – Experimenting is fun.  Experimenting in genre, style, and voice has been a challenge in itself, but it is a fun one.

It has been a whole lot of fun to explore different tones and voices. With a novel, you are creating a long piece of work. This could potentially be hundreds of thousands of words. With a short story, you’re only in that tone, voice, setting, story format for up to tens of thousands of words. Once you’re done, you can pivot to something else completely.

3 – Being prolific is a matter of practice.

Years ago I created numerous short stories amid my epic-length Scifi stories. These stories were produced in the same two years or so. That’s not counting anything else I was creating and writing. When you create more often the stories get longer and more involved and are finished faster. When you take a long break you find your skills are there but your production isn’t. Sitting down every day for this challenge has fed so many new ideas both in universes already created and for new tales not started. It is worth the fun involved! Keep at it, you’ll see things come together.

4 – Video write-ins are fun.

Video write-ins are fun and enjoyable despite whatever may happen. I haven’t been as consistent as I would like to be with it so far. That has a lot to do with situations in my home that limit my ability to get on the camera. Do you find Write-Ins enjoyable?

Okay, so that’s my current take away with my 30 short stories in 30 days challenge. Do you have any challenges you’re working for this year?

30 Short Stories in 30 days

Today I started my 30 day challenge.

I’m quite excited. It’s a given that stories can be in a single day. It is an incredible feeling when you reach the end of a tale, ready to weave another. Today, I finished the first of thirty for this month.

All stories will be 1000 words or more.

All stories will be finished in a given day.

All stories will be released in some fashion.

Depending on the length, all of part of the story will be released on the blog. Today, I’m sharing the whole story I wrote. It is 1,375 words. It has not be properly edited, but it was fun to me as it started with a real version of this story.


Today was one of those days. I can’t even believe it started out how it did. Initially, it was pretty easy. I am happy with that much, at least. I got up, did my workout, did a bible reading, and reviewed my work plans for the day. Simple enough right?

Once the coffee was made, I sat down at the table with an avocado. Avocados are one of my favorite fruits and it’s a good go to right after a solid workout. I wasn’t able to find my little avocado cutting knife. No biggie. I just grabbed a different knife. It was a bit bigger but still good.

I sliced open the lovely fruit, ate the first half, then started to take the pit out of the second half. If you’ve had avocados you know that one half always holds the pit. It can be a bear to get out if you don’t cut it correctly. Thankfully, that wasn’t my problem today. Today, the issue was that the pit jumped out of the avocado quickly and bounced under the table.

At this junction, I feel like it might be important to explain my table operates as a desk sometimes. That in mind, it can be quite cluttered. Today is cleaning day, but still early enough that it’s cluttered. The knife was put down on the table, as was the spoon I was actively eating with. Leave it to me, when I bent down to pick up the pit that had rolled beneath the table, something slid off and hit me in the back. Ouch!

I’m the mom of two teens. One happened to be up and came out to find me pulling that knife out of my back because of course it flipped off the table and landed in my back. I think I’m the only person who can stab myself. My son looked at the shirt and was confident it was done for. When the bleeding started he commented that it might be deeper than we thought. He grabbed the first aid kit while I looked for a new shirt.

It only took us a few minutes, but he patched me up pretty well. My daughter then came out and looked at it. She suggested I visit with the doctor to make sure it wasn’t worse than it appeared to be. It was sound advice and I make it a habit to take sound advice. Unfortunately, my doctor was out of the office. I went into the local convenient care instead. My kiddos stayed home. There was no way this would take that long, right? Oh, boy was I wrong!

I sat in the waiting room after registration for just a few minutes. Once I was in the room, they quickly approved of the good patch job my son did. The nice nurse assessed the actual wound as a pretty deep paper cut. She thought it wouldn’t hurt to have a doctor look at it. I waited. Explaining that I stabbed myself in the back to one person was bad enough, but then the doctor came in.

As I was trying to explain myself again, my kiddos text me. I sent a message back and then continued my story. I was so embarrassed to have to say ‘Yep, I stabbed myself in the back’ again.

The doctor looked at my back. She was impressed it was such a clean cut. So, maybe not so much of a stab as it was a landed on my back right on the blade with limited force? I don’t know. She did seem to hesitate about fixing it. Not that it needed a lot of fixing, as it was a clean impact cut on my back. I still don’t know what part of me knocked it over so effectively.

I sent another message to the kids to see how they were doing and explain that the doctor was now looking at me.

She excused herself for a few minutes, then came back in with a stack of paper. She took a deep breath and asked me a few questions. “Who all live in the home with you?”

I shrugged. “It’s just me and my kids.”

“Okay.” She looked at the stack of paper. “And where were the kids when the knife hit you in the back?”

“Ah…asleep. My son might have woken about the same time because he came out when I said ouch. It didn’t hurt too badly, but the amount of blood made us concerned. It was actually my son who patched me up and my daughter who suggested I come in.”

“You are sure you were alone when you were cut by the knife?”

“My cats might have been in the room. They were the reason I was so urgent to pick up the pit. They tend to treat pits like toys and all of their small toys get lost.” I looked down at the message from the kids and frowned. “I’m not a fan of finding toys everywhere.”

“I can imagine.” The doctor settled on a stool and faced me directly. “You know, Ms. Barten, it’s okay if you weren’t alone when this happened.”

“No. If I wasn’t alone, then I would have been with some stranger. Strangers in my home are rare, unacceptable, and typically not tolerated.” I looked at her and felt my brow pinch. “I know where my kiddos were.”

“I’m glad that you didn’t have to be concerned about the unknown.” The doctor rolled up the paper she was holding a little tighter.

“Is there something you want to ask me directly doctor?”

“Are you familiar with what a mandated reporter is?”

“Someone who has to convey a concern about a home if they see one.” I nodded. “Yep. I’m familiar. Served on the PTO, surrounded by mandated reporters for a long while.”

“You’re aware that there are cases where children get out of hand, right?” The doctor tried to sound concerned, but to me, she sounded like she was telling me how my home was run.

“Like I said, I stabbed myself. It was an accident. This really shouldn’t be a thing.”

“Well, unfortunately, we find it difficult to see how you could have cut your own back.”

“Unfortunately, I’ll be your once in a lifetime person to have found a weird way of doing that.” I shrugged again. “I don’t know what to tell you. Time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all.”

“An injury of this nature typically comes from outside the person. It’s not easy to work with someone who doesn’t want to help themselves.”

“What are you talking about? I’ve already told you, there’s nothing to help. I’m a klutz. It happens.” I paused. “Okay, so things happen might be better? I’m sure there really aren’t many people who are going to cut their own backs with a kitchen knife.”

The well meaning woman unrolled the documents she was holding and looked at the top page. “We are restricted as to what we can do right now and mandated to report anything of concern.”

While she spoke, I text the kids not to answer the door if someone, anyone, knocked. When they responded, I gave them a short explanation. “Doctor, I appreciate your concern. I appreciate your position is challenging, but I am in no danger at home. My family is safe. We are fine.” I forced a smile, despite the rise in anxiety. “Thank you for your help. If there is nothing else, I’d like to go home now.”

She nodded. “Okay.” She handed me the stack of papers. “There are resources in this packet. Many deal with family abuse. I’m confident when you’re ready, you’ll be able to find the help you need in the packet.”

I took the packet of paper, mostly to soothe the woman. A short while later I was discharged and on my way home. My children worked on a few projects before helping me clean up. The day ended far better than it began.

Leave it to me to be the one person in life that has figured out how to cut themselves in the back. I think next time, assuming there is a next time, I might avoid going in.