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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In the Dark

“Are you sure it’s down here?”

“Yes damn it, now be quiet.”

He walked silently behind them through the cold murk, as they argued in whispers.  Walking in circles for hours. Blinding each other with flashlights. Pointing guns at the shadows as they rounded corners. Following every odd noise, spray of blood’ or smear of slime glistening along the wall. Given their haphazard, second-hand knowledge of these forgotten tunnels, they should feel lucky they made it this far. You had to admire professionals.

“You”re sure it’s down here?”

Yes, he thought as he unfurled his claws. Yes, I am here.

This drabble (which by the may now be one of my new favorite words) was written in response to a flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds. So you should check that out too.

Making Connections

The rain was coming down hard as he ran from the cab to the awning over the bar, he tried shielding himself with a folded newspaper. It always seemed so much more effective when he saw it done in the movies. In real life not only did you still ended up with wet hair, only now your newspaper was ruined too. He paused at the door and tried to shake some of the water off his coat. He didn’t feel quite as certain about his plans as he did this morning but, this was his chance. If  he didn’t have this meeting now it might take weeks to set up a new one. He took a deep breath and chucked his sodden newspaper into a trash can, it was time to commit and hope for the best.

The inside of the bar was comfortable and familiar, in a generic tavern for the business man sort of way. Warm earth tones and wood veneer accented with brass surrounded a quiet clientele. He took off his coat and neatly folded it over one arm. Using in the mirror behind the bar he straightened his tie, and smoothed his damp black hair; he hadn’t noticed how long it was getting, or how grey. For a moment he met the gaze of his own reflection and felt as if he were lost.

He shook the cobwebs from his head and walked around the bar and took a seat next to a weary and hollow looking young man. He flagged the barman and ordered a beer. He couldn’t help but notice that the man next to him wore nearly the same suit as he did. The exception being that the younger man’s seemed to have seen more use and had begun to fade from repeated dry cleanings, and his neck tie was loosened and a different pattern.

“Can I help you with something pal?” his neighbor asked, noticing the brief scrutiny.

“Just think I found the only guy that the world’s working over harder than me. You look like you had a rough day.”

“They’re all rough,” the man said lighting a cigarette. “Don’t see why today’d be any different.” He shrugged and returned his gaze to the television.

“You’re a hockey fan I take it.”

The young man shrugged. “It’s what’s on.”

“My dad used to take me to the Devils games back when they played in The Meadowlands. God they sucked back then but, they were ours.” He took a long sip off his beer.

“Jersey huh, you’re a ways from home.”

“Came out here a few years ago for a job, wich never amounted to much more than an ulcer. Now the company’s gone tit’s up. I’m out of a job, supposed to be meeting a buddy of mine with a line on a new one,” He pulled out his phone and checked the screen. “He’s late and not answering my texts, guess I got stood up.” He finished his beer and set the glass on the bar, pushing it forward so the barman would notice it. “Story of my life. How about you?”

“I help manage my family’s business, imports mostly.”

“What kind of imports?”

“Whatever. I just make sure the paperwork gets done. I can’t talk details, client confidentiality stuff.” The younger man blew out a long stream of smoke and put his own glass next to the empty beer mug. He waved to fingers over both glasses to signal for another round.

“Yeah I know how that confidentiality stuff is I work, well worked in financials. Hedge funds and such. Thanks for the drink.”

“No problem, anything for an out of work hockey enthusiast. Name’s Pete Maslow,” the haggard man said smiling slightly. “Pleased to meet you, Mr.?”

“Standish, Jerome Standish,” he replied shaking the offered hand. “Everyone calls me Jerry.”

This it the Scene 11 of an on going serial. The rest of the story is indexed here.