Deluge

Edna peered at her desk through her fingers, and sighed. It’s not that she didn’t like the rain, under normal circumstances. It was, in her opinion,a sign of progress. She hadn’t even minded when it was two full days of the stuff. It was, after all good for the crops and the ornamental gardens. Very good for public morale. The occasional shower gave everyone a sense of normalcy. It was on day three, when she had already gotten suspicious, that the report came in from Carlson in Engineering.

Now, on day seven, with no sign of it letting up, stood before her the very nervous, and all too familiar face of a particular ensign. She smoothed back her greying hair and stood, pulling at the bottom edge of her uniform jacket to tighten the fit. She walked over to the window and watched the deluge for a few moments.

“It’s Davis, correct?” She knew his name. She knew nearly everyone under her command.

“Ma’am?, Yes ma’am.” The young man had a slight shake to his voice.

“I thought so. Ensign Davis, I seem to recall that we first met about a year ago.” Edna turned to face him and walked back towards her desk. “Remind me what was the occasion of that visit?”

Weather anomaly ma’am. Regulator malfunctioned and rolled the seasonal climate back to winter.”

“Winter is quite the understatement.” She remembered the blizzard well, and the havoc it played with their growing cycle.

“Yes ma’am.”

“And since that, well let’s just call it an event shall we”

“Ma’am”

She smiled at this lack of answer. She always fancied noncommittal remarks as a good sign of a junior officer’s survival instincts. “And, since that particular event, how many times have you been sent to report to my office Ensign Davis?”

“This would be the fifth time since that event, ma’am” Davis kept his gaze fixed on a point somewhere beyond, and to the left of the commander’s ear.

“Six, times? I suppose that makes us practically friends ensign.”

“Not my place to say, ma’am.”

“Relax Davis, I’m not looking to take it out on you.” Edna came around to the front of the desk and stood a few inches away from the youth. “Six times in a year. Each time due to some abnormal weather event. Each time Carlson has sent you to report to me on behalf of his ineptitude?”

“Ma’am the lieutenant thinks it is the colony’s best interest if he remains in engineering and works on the problem.”

“Very diplomatic of you ensign.”

“Thank you, ma’am.”

“You have a shit job, Davis.”

“Lieutenant Carlson say that the moisture reclamation system’s cpu is running the condensation cycle in an infinite loop. Taking the evaporation collectors off the grid should starve the precipitation system of water and have the rain stopped very soon.”

“So we go from monsoon to drought?”

“It should only take the software teams a day or two to recode the system. We’re not expecting any crop loss.”

“You mean, any further crop loss. Agriculture reports several beds have already been drowned out.”

“Ma’am.” Davis motioned to the window behind her.

Edna turned around. The rain had stopped pelting the window, through the water still poured down the sides of the arcology inner buildings.

For the first time in days the colony’s ersatz sun could be seen to rise from where it hides for the night. It’s intense heat burning through the wetness in the air, light reflecting off the slick surface of the roads and walkways as it inched upward along its track across the dome. The haze if steam around it providing a spectacular corona.

“Well, that is dramatically beautiful. Do give the lieutenant my compliments on his timing. Though do you suppose it was necessary to turn the heat intensity up so high?”

“Ma’am, he said it would speed the clean-up of the water. The plan is to leave the sun at its apex an extra hour a day until we can reclaim as much of it as we can.”

“He’ll do no such thing. Things in Environmental Engineering are delicate enough without him cocking up the diurnal cycle.” Edna glanced over her shoulder at Davis, “You are dismissed ensign, I do so look forward to our next visit.”

The young man left. She rather liked him, a little too nervous, but bright enough. She turned once again to look out the window, making a note to journey to Engineering to make a point of dressing down Carlson in front of the ensign. The man had it coming due to accumulation,

Still, it was a nice sunrise.

 

This scene was written in response to a prompt, from Today’s Author.
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Beer Cans

In the wilderness of insobriety, the landscape was dotted with beer cans. Scattered about a small existence. Standing in miserable chaotic rows. Stacked in columns of twos and threes. A sad, and dark forest. With aluminium foliage of whites, reds, and silver. Here and there a few standing in clearings. Lonely by themselves. Some partially crushed, teetering on edges of tables and desks at odd angles like some Suessian topiary. I would usually be found hiding amid the copse in the corner of the stoop.I would perch there, in the cool shade of numb inebriation, bitterly caw at the world.

 

Prompt

A Guy Named Sleeve

I knew a guy named Sleeve, once. For a short while. Not long enough to say we were ever friends. There are times when companionship is close enough to settle on. When the journey has your the soles worn thin.

We met while taking brief respite from our respective paths down the road. It was the early fall, the forest somewhere in southern Illinois. A time and place where no one used their real name. Usually they called themselves things like Blue Tick, and Wildfire. There was a half Chinese man that insisted on being called Chink Bob Lee. About a dozen or so scrawny tattooed rednecks all going by Ace. They all wanted to sell you a zippo lighter, or throw in on a keg.

I was Saint at the time. Still am, sometimes, I’d guess. Depends on who you ask. I was running away from my life to figure it all out. This wasn’t the first time. I wasn’t the only one. I never asked where anyone was from. It was just something you didn’t do. So I never knew what happened in Sleeve’s past to drive him out. I did know he missed home. I heard him say, more than once, he could never go back.

We both settled into a temporary routine. Working makeshift kitchens in a transient town. Full of temporary people. I guess that’s everywhere, when it’s all said and done.We wound up talking a lot. Scrubbing pots after servings. Smoking pot before. Long conversations on short subjects.

His high pitch gravelly voice stood every nerve on end. Especially when he laughed.Truth is, I found most things about him annoying. His twitchy mannerisms. A second hand, jam band sense of style. Patchwork corduroy jeans, an old Jesus jumper, and a beard trimmed into a neat, thin ring around his face starting and ending in a grown out bowl cut. The whole package put me in mind of a Henson creation on a meth binge at a Phish concert.

We really didn’t have all that much in common.

Not much but tired feet, a few months of bad nutrition. Awkward conversations over near tasteless boiled coffee. A few hours wasted on micro dots, chasing nothing through quiet nature in the middle of the night. A few more with a loud handle of whiskey.

The rest of the time spent gathering firewood. Cooking meals for layabouts and bliss cases. The time came to move on. I headed south east. He headed, somewhere else. Never asked where he was headed. Never really cared. We weren’t really friends after all.

It was nice to have the companionship for a while though.

I suppose.

 

Pingback

Clean

Sometimes I just sit there, huddled at the bottom. Leaning forward, my chest pressed against my knees.  Listening to the soothing white noise of the droplets crashing against the vinyl curtain. Rubbing the warmth into my head and neck. Trying to massage some semblance of ambition into my body.

If I can just scrub hard enough I might wash away the doubt and fear. I might rinse away the filth of the worry, and shame, and guilt.

I look up and let the water run across my closed eyes.

If I just stay here long enough I might come clean.2047183582_3503e149ab_z.jpg

Image Credit: Shower by Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Well Wishes

I woke up this morning without noticing the change. I knew it happened, but it didn’t click.

I arrived in my confident lateness. I went about my routine as if nothing had happened. A cup of coffee, a bit of straightening up.  Barely noticing empty spaces on shelves, or the absence of the small red box where her possessions were kept.

When I opened the journal where, as formality dictates, we forecast our days.

There, in the margin, neatly written was a final message to me.

The weight settled as I read it.

“Good luck, I am happy for you.”

Laundromat

Always thought the laundromat would be good for writing. In a dark poetry, seedy underbelly, Tom Waits kind of way.

But, there is scant sad beauty to be had in that one sock left behind at the bottom of the machine.

The dryers aren’t hot enough to burn away your sins. Not at six minutes for a quarter anyway.

It’s been weeks and I have yet to hear any secret, sobering wisdom from the mouths of crazed junkies, if I’m lucky enough to find one.

Shame how life won’t imitate art.

Guess I should be used to disappointment by now.

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Spring is Here | Happy Monday, March 20, 2017

Today is the first day of spring here in the northern hemisphere. That is of course a matter of the relative angle of The Earth to The Sun, your individual weather experience may vary. Traditionally it’s a time for clearing out the cobwebs and looking forward to new beginings.

I’ve not been well lately, either physically or mentally. One most assuredly has to do with the other, though it is hard sometimes to tell which is the chicken, and which the egg. The details of this are not interesting to me in the least, so I won’t go into it I have been finding glorious unproductive solace in playing video games, which have long been a favorite on the escapism front. Now, by some small coincidence of time, I’ve decided to poke my head out of my den, examine what I am looking forward to and maybe shake out the clutter a bit.

I recently found it in my budget to finally replace the computer that died some months ago, which has facilitated my recent foray into Sunless Sea, and Long War 2. This also means that I am able to pursue my sideline interest in game development. I have been making a small hobby of learning a bit of C# programming and using the Unity engine for a while now, which got benched when the old computer crashed. Now I have in mind a long but, manageable project that I am quite excited about working on in the coming months.

A coworker purchased a large number of role playing game books, with the intention of getting into the hobby. He has, however, found it hard to find a jumping off point. I have been convinced/ magnanimously offered to run a short campaign for him to get his feet wet. So I can add that to the list of projects for the coming month. It has been a some years since have sat around a table menacing people with a set of dice, so it seems like it should be quite enjoyable. The group I’ve tentatively assembled is fairly in experienced in gaming so it should also be educational, as well as very geeky.

There are a scant few weeks left of the school year and, my daughter will start summer vacation relatively soon. My work schedule is opposite her school day and I don’t get to see her much most of the year. I’m thinking about a couple  of passes to the community pools and some ice cream dates to catch up with each other. Maybe we’ll get around to building some slingshots in the back yard too.

Lastly I am just glad to see the back of the cold, erratic, and sunless weather of winter. It will be nice to enjoy my late morning coffee and journaling from the comfort of my front porch enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes, watching the flowers bloom.

That’s what I’m looking forward to anyway. I am sure that I have plenty of upcoming things to dread, but it’s nice not to focus on those for a bit… For a change.

How about you?

Happy Monday.

P.S. As a bonus, because I’m in such a good mood I’ll leave you with one of my favorite spring time tunes.

 

 

Dream of Her

He dreamt of her last night. Her death, and then attending her funeral. Waking in tears.

He didn’t cry when it happened. Not when his father could see.

The sadness had belonged to the old man then, more than himself. It had been his turn to be strong. To soldier on. For his father. For the other mourners. Maybe a little bit for himself, just to see if he could.

For years after, he had forgotten to grieve. Never really learned how. Never took the time.

This morning he wept, the memory of her face lost except, in that dream.

A Little Less Feeling

Xalthus looked down perturbedly from the branch he perched on. He stared at the smoking crater, and tried to figure out if his situation could be worse. When this got too depressing he instead considered ways his life could be improved. Maybe if he were some other animal?

He had put some thought into this before and, on the whole he enjoyed being an owl. He had sometimes thought about what his existence might be like as some other creature Maybe a cat, they had the advantages of stealth and grace. Perhaps a bear, good hardy creatures, strong, intimidating. Bears, like owls were also seen as fonts of wisdom, in certain cultures anyway.

He often had reason to review a long list of other things he could have been. In the end he was usually grateful that he was not Guillaume.

Guillaume was the young man lying in the crater, looking slightly bewildered, heavily singed and smelling mostly of ozone. He was nice enough fellow, Xalthus supposed, hard working, friendly, eager. Just perhaps a bit too timid and nervous in ways that spoke to something in Xalthus’s owlishness and reminded of a mouse. At times Xalthus found himself fighting the urge to swoop down on the boy and snare him in his talons. All in all though, he was a decent sort, if you were into the whole consorting with mortals thing. He could take it or leave it himself, except having been forced to take it and forbidden to leave. Guillaume’s major fault was that he was a bit too uncertain of himself. Yes, that was it, under confidence. Also he lacked sufficient concentration for his given profession.

Given was the operative word, Xalthus conceded. Guillaume was not offered a real choice in the matter. Rupert needed an apprentice and Guillaume’s parents needed one less mouth to feed so a bargain had been struck. The boy was too honest to run away. Not Rupert that was cruel master, he was just easily frustrated. Rupert wasn’t a particularly patient teacher either. Eventually their combined shortcomings made the the boy’s training untenable.So, the old wizard summoned Xalthus, and bound him him to the form of an owl, which again was not overall an unpleasant experience, and essentially said, “You there. Show him the ropes and, make sure he doesn’t get in too much trouble.”

Xalthus sighed, he supposed neither one of them really wanted to be here. Still neither had much of a choice. He let himself ponder this for a bit longer, then stretched his wings.

“Alright lad, “ he tried with an encouraging tone, “let’s try it again. Once more, from the top. This time with, perhaps, a little less feeling.”

This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction Challenge issued by Chuck Wendig at his blog Terrible Minds. You can check out the other entries in the comments there.
The random photo I received as a prompt for the challenge can be viewed here, and I hope I did it some justice.

Useless Update about a Plant

Henry, my desk plant, was repotted today as it was getting a bit root bound in the small terracotta I had initially used. The blue-grey plastic one Henry now resides is nice but I feel it may not match the rest of my desk decor. My wife has advised that Henry will definitely outgrow the desk plant status eventually anyway.

Such is life I suppose.

On the issue of Henry versus Henrietta, other than the fact that it is an asinine question in the first place,  it turns out that Henry is a plural noun.

With two smaller plants becoming evident now that Henry has had a chance to stretch out a bit.

This is very important information because I am amazed I am actually able to keep the damned thing alive and, I thought I’d share it with you all while I wait for the child to get out of her chorus practice.