“I’m telling you – the guy was a complete stranger, just walked up and gave me the bag.”
First prompt from the NaNoWrimo Writer’s Night tonight:
The police shoot an innocent person. Write about what the victim was doing when the police came across her/him. Write the police officer’s explanation, then write the reaction of the daughter (or mother) of the victim.
Another prompt from Writer’s Digest. The prompt was:
You wake up one morning to find that you are your three year old self, with your parents again, with all of the memories and experiences of your current life. Write this scene and express the emotion and frustration your character undergoes as you internally try to sort this out.
I had an idea, but it didn’t quite come together. It might have been to much to try and fit in the 500 word limit, which I already ignored last week & didn’t want to do again. So I tried not to go over 500 words & failed miserably. Which means that I spent too much time in the setup, skipped the middle, and rushed the ending. The flow is all off, and the execution isn’t quite there. I didn’t post it on WD, because of the length mostly, but also because it isn’t really a finished piece. But below the fold is what I ended up writing, in case anyone wants to read it. Maybe some day I’ll go back & flesh out the middle and end & make it into a real short story. Maybe not.
Prompt I found on Writer’s Digest:
“When you return to school for a conference, you bump into one of your old professors, who is rambling on excitedly about a new discovery. He asks you to follow him to his office—he has something he wants to show you. What is the new discovery? Why is your professor so excited? Write this scene.”
45 Minutes, 1156 words.
The walls hummed. Or something did. It was the same in every government building Alsania Olivander had ever been in. There had been a fuss about is a few years ago, she remembered. Too many citizens and denizens complained. There was a statistic that said most people living under the sphere of influence of a Zone spent about a quarter of their lives inside a government complex. Alsania could believe it. This particular time, she’d gotten lucky; her ticket to enter the queue had popped on a Wednesday. Wednesdays were slower, so she’d only been in line for about six hours, and already she’d moved about a third of the way through the queue. She desperately wanted to call Max, or text him, but she knew that use of a mobile device, even an implant, could cause one of the Proctor Drones to issue her a Formal Request to Leave. An FRL would re-set her progress back to waiting for a ticket to enter the queue. She didn’t have months to wait; she only had six weeks until her trial.
So Alsania stuck it out. She arched her back as much as she could without disturbing the gentleman behind her. He was engrossed in a book. Alsania could never get the hang of reading standing up; she liked to read–she just needed to be sitting in a recliner, preferably with a hologram of a beach playing. But that was a daydream; she’d never be able to afford an H-Player. Not on the government dole. Which was why she was here. She desperatley needed to get off the dole. And access to a trust fund would do nicely.
She really wanted to call Max. Partly because she genuinely liked talking to him, and could really use the conversation. This line was *boring*. But also because part of her wanted to gloat, to taunt. To rub it in that she was nearly a third of the way through the queue. Granted, when they closed in two hours, she’d have to leave for the night. But she had gotten in on a Wednesday, a slow day. They’d reset the queue tomorrow, but she was already in–she’d earned her place in line, and as long as she was outside the roll-up door of Zone Process & Procedures Department # 5633-b by 0730 hours, she’d retain her place when the queue re-set. Alsania smiled; she’d be at the head of the queue & talking to a Clerk by closing time Thursday, and then it would all be over; she was confident that the new appeal would work. And then she’d be off the government dole. Maybe she could even afford to read on a real beach. She heard that radiation levels on South Beach had dissipated enough to allow 15-minute visits. With the proper paperwork, of course.
She really wanted to call Max.
By Thursday at 4:15, Alsania had moved up to Next in Line. Being the NIL brought glares of jealousy, of course, but nobody ever dared make a scene. Nobody wanted to get a FRL from the Proctor Drones. There were rumors of a woman who’d queued up on a particularly slow Monday & spend three days In Line, only to make a rude comment when she was Second, because the NIL had bumped her. The NIL had responded & the nearest Proctor Drone issued them both FRLs. The NIL complied, but the unruly woman Refused, and had been banned from all government complexes for six months. Her trial for Refusing a Request from a Proctor Drone Without A Completed Form 346-Z commenced while she was in line for appeal. She was summarily executed by the Proctor Drones while she was still in line. Nobody else in line commented.
Alsania gasped when she head the *ding* from the tiny H-Player that announced that Clerk 72 would now assist petitioner # 5327. Hesitantly, she stepped out of the coveted Next In Line box that was painted on the floor, and began the Long Walk down the row of Plexiglass windows behind which stood the lauded Clerks. She wondered what Max was doing right then.
As she approached window # 72, the light she’d been following turned from blue to yellow, indicating that this was her desination. She turned to face the heavyset middle-aged woman on the other side of the thick plastic window. The woman on the other side wore the disinterested look of all the Clerks who spent countless hours gathering, processing, and filing paperwork, and then entering data and handing more paperwork back to the petitioners.
“Your Ident has been scanned and confirmed,” the woman said mechanically, “how may I be of assistance today?” Alsania inhaled. This was it.
“I here to file an Appeal of Application Denial, form 69B-12C,” she said, in what she hoped was a professional manner.
“Paperwork,” droned the Clerk.
Alsania set the small drive in the tray in front of her. The tray mechanically whisked under the Plexiglass to the Clerk’s side of the window. Seven terabytes of data were on that small device; such a small amount of paperwork for such an impactful consequence. If successful, Alsania would be off the government dole forever and living the good life. But this was her final appeal. If lost, she would be found guilty of attempted murder at her trial in six weeks, and summarily executed. She held her breath & wished she could call Max.
The Clerk walked away with the drive.
Two minuted later, the Clerk returned. “Your Appeal has been granted.” she said. And that was it. After all the waiting, two minutes was all it took. This was the moment.
The Clerk continued to look disinterested. “The Review process is now complete. The denial of your previously filed Application For Authorization of Homicide is hereby reversed. Your data drive now contains one permit for homicide, valid for thirty days from date of receipt. Do not undertake the murder after the expiration date, do not murder anyone other than the identified target,” the clerk paused & glanced at her terminal, “…one Maximillian Olivander. Certification of Completion must be filed within six weeks of the Act, or you will be fined. Failure to complete the Act will also result in a fine. Your trial for attempted homicide is cancelled based on completion of this paperwork. You have seventy-two hours to email a cop of this report to the Zone Court Clerk.”
The little drawer whisked back to Alsania’s side, and she retrieved the drive witht he new set of paperwork on it. She let out her breath, and wondered if she’d been holding it the entire time. The yellow light turned to green again and directed her out of Deoprtment # 5633-b. As she walked, she daydreamed about how she would spend her inherited wealth after she murdered her uncle.
Alsania could barely wait to get outside so she could call Max.
1252 words, 1 hour.
Sif ran through the coridor, dodging the random government peons who went about their business. Despite the black-clad female runing through the corridor and the deafening claxon sounding throughout the building, the handful of low-level civil servants seemed to be taking things in stride. Some detatched part of Sif’s mind wondered if they were simply too worn down by the drudgery of their jobs to notice her, or if global security breaches were so commonplace that there just wasn’t any point in getting excited. Maybe some combination of both?
She didn’t stop to pnder, though, because of the obvious: the detachment of elite security forces chasing her throughout the complex. And as she rounded yet another corner (at a running speed clearly prohibited by workplace policy), she found a reason to not ponder the security forces behind her.
That reason was the completely unexpected squad of elite security forces directly in front of her. As it turned out, this new group of soldiers wasn’t expecting her to run into them either. They were in formation, but it was clear they were there to serve as a checkpoint, assessing staff that passed, rather than as a track-and-engage squad. So, rather fortunately for Sif, their weapons weren’t drawn.
And in the split second it took for them to register Sif as a threat, specifically the threat the alarms were clanging for, and then begin to react, Sif had already reacted. She had slammed her foot down and thrown back her torso, twisting around at the same time. Her traaining, more than her experience, also had her unclip a grenade with the hand that wasnt being used as a counterbalance.
Which was also fortunate for her, because as she turned back around the corner she had just come from, she was met by the first contingent of troops. This was definitely not the way this mission was supposed to have gone.
Throwing herself to the ground using the momentum from her turn to drop onto her shoulder in a roll, Sif removed the pin from the grenade and threw it towards the side of the corridor: not towards the guards, because their high-tech body armor would easily absorb the blast, but rather towards the window. The low-tech safety window would stop casual attempts at shattering, and even some fairly high-caliber ammuntion. But it wouldn’t withstand a high-energy grenade.
Sif forced herself to lay on the ground for a full two seconds. Shw knew the other set of guards would run after her, which they did. She hoped that one or the other set of security forces would instinctively register their opposite as a threat associated with Sif and start firing at each other. Which they also did. She prayed that either they would recognize the other group and disengage from friendly fire, or that they would slaughter each other and save Sif a lot of trouble. The guard’s training was first-rate, and rather than kill each other, they disengaged. Sif watched them raise their weapons slightly as they stopped shooting, but they only hesitated a brief moment before both groups aimed their weapons at Sif.
Then the grenade exploded.
Which Sif had expected, but that the security forces hadn’t. Sif sprang up, praying for the second time that day. This time she prayed that the guards would be distracted just long enough for her to make the newly formed hole in the wall.
The guards were not quite distracted that long; these were the well-trained group. But recovering quickly and aiming quickly are not the same thing. Only three of thr rounds hit Sif before she jumped into oblivion. She took one round in her left thigh and two in her right shoulder.
As she plunged into the open seventy five stories above ground, a lorry driver with remarkable reaction timing for a civilian swerved up just enough to avoid hitting her. He managed to perform this feat while simultaneously sounding his horn and beginning a stream of epithets aimed at Sif.
Sif ignored the lorry, ignored the bitter cold, and ignored the ground coming at her exceedingly fast. Instead of focusing on these things, Sif focused on a special comm-link. that brought her own vehicle towards her at remarkable speed and triggered a pre-programmed path for after what she hoped would be an interception.
While gravity accelerated herever closer towards terminal velovity, the car raised rapidly towards her — and this was no small feat, rapid vertical acceleration while the vehicle remained more-or-less horizontal was a non-trivial engineering accomplishment.
The effect of this was that she impacted the roof of the car at very near the same rate as she would have hit the ground.
Just befor the impact, Sif had three thoughts. First, that this was going to hurt very much. Second, that when her car’s path took her to the less-than-legitimate medical facilities she frequented, the bill was going to hurt more, but that the money wouldn’t matter very soon. And third, that this was not the way the mission should have gone.
Two days later, when she woke in a less than sanitary med bay fully healed, she idly wondered if one of her contacts she had used to set up the operation had betrayed her.
One week and one day later, Sif casually strode down a winding path in a nature preserve not quite in the center of the city. Sif had always loved nature, rare though it was. Which was why she had chosen the “park” as the mmeeting point. She sat down on a bench in a secluded part of the path. Her contact, a representative of the Chatari, materialized next to her a moment later. The effect was still creepy to Sif.
“We monitored your little escapade,” the vaguely insect-looking agent said, “we weren’t sure you would be able to meet us today. Long fall from window. Many bones to break, and no exoskeleton like Chitari.” He laughed, an unrecognizable series of noiseless convulsions running through his carapice. “But now to business. You have package?”
Sif glared at him.
“Yeah,” she said after a moment, “I have it.” She extended her arm, and torned over her fist, opening up her palm to reveal a tiny data chip.
The Chitarian quickly snatched it from her.
“So,” he said, with an expression that was almost a smile. “You betray your race, and for price of contract, you get to live and Chitari give you interstellar craft.”
“Yeah,” Sif said again. Another glare at him. “That was the deal. You get Earth’s security codes & protocols so you can wipe out the species with your little war. I get to avoid shuffling off the mortal coil.” The Chitari’s translation matrix had trouble with the last part. Idioms were always tough.
“No.” Said the creature. “We change deal. We have data, no need to keep you. Maybe you betray us and humans change defense codes? No take chance.”
A pistol had materialized in his pincer-like hand.
As Sif lay on the ground dying, though she couldn’t feel the wound from the blast, her last thought was of her final betrayal. She’d had a friend alter the codes on the chip. In the end, she just couldnt do it. The Chitari fleet would be flying into a fully-defended solar system. They would still be a match for the humans, and would decimate both the Sol Defense Forces and the human population, but at least the humans had a fighting chance now.