Sci Fi

Escape

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By Jamie Burns

She walked along the damp tunnel, her bare feet moving swiftly against the cold cement. The wind blew through the tunnel and right through the thin night gown she had been given. She knew that if not for all the adrenaline running through her she would feel frozen, but right now all she could feel was her heart pounding through her whole body.

She had nothing; no coat, no shoes, no means to tell how much time had passed. It felt like hours but really it was less than ten minutes. Less than ten minutes for her to change her life, less than ten minutes to either get her life back or end it for good.

The tunnel went on and on. She was finally nearing the end when in the distance she heard the dogs barking inside the tunnel behind her. She quickened her pace. Then she could hear men’s voices in the tunnel, yelling out indecipherable commands and information to each other. She ran through puddles and sludge praying that her feet wouldn’t find any glass. Then, a burst of fresh clean air blew across her face,  she had made it out of the tunnel. But it was of little relief since she was still a mile from the fence line. She sprinted toward it even though her lungs were already on fire. Dawn was on the horizon and if she could at least make it to the fence she might have a chance.

She had been locked in that room so long that running felt freeing mentally but excruciating physically. Once able to run for hours without feeling tired, now she was spent after  fifteen minutes. She was a shadow of what she once was and they had done that to her. They had taken all her detail away, all of her dimension and complexity. She hated them for that, she ran even harder.

The loud, clear barking of dogs filled the field telling her they had made it out of the tunnel. Their men would be behind them shortly. She ran and tried miserably not to wonder if the dogs would tear her apart before the men could shoot her.

She had covered the expanse of the clearing and reached the wooded area that came before the fence line. She was only a short way in when she ran straight through a patch of thorn bushes. She could push through a few scrapes on her legs but it was the ones that buried themselves deep into the bottom of her feet that made her fall to the ground. Rolling a few times before hitting a tree. She scrambled up next to the trunk and frantically pulled the thorns from her feet.

The low growl of a dog reverberated through the forest. They had caught up, and the first was now stopped just ten yards away. It’s head low to the ground and the fur on  its back standing on end, the snarling dog’s two companions fell in line behind it. After making it this far, coming so close, to die with nothing but a tiny hope. It was all she had left. Even with so little of it, she had to try. Maybe she was close enough. She clapped her hands together, interlaced her fingers and closed her eyes to concentrate, but nothing happened.

She opened her eyes. The dogs were now starting their slow approach. With her last shred of hope fading, she looked in the direction of the fence line and there as the first light of morning brightened the sky was a gleaming silver fence post. Without a second thought, she pushed herself away from the tree and sprinted for the post. Overjoyed to find the fence line had no fence to speak of. If she could just cross that line…

From the moment she started running the dogs closed the distance quickly.  She was sure she could feel their hot breath on the back of her legs. She extended her stride and pushed her body to its breaking point. As she did her best to jump over the brambles at the fence line,  one of the dogs knocked her to the ground. They both tumbled and rolled but by the time she stopped the beast was over the top of her, teeth bared and snarling. Terror overtook her for the split second before she realized they were over the line.   

She slammed her hands together in front of her in the space between her and the beast looming above. The blue surge of energy that shot from her hands manifested itself as a double-edged sword that glided smoothly up through the beast. Its snarl faded to confusion, then it was gone. She tossed it aside and popped up to her feet. The other two dogs split apart trying to encircle her. She pulled her hands apart but the energy stayed, the sword splitting in two so she wielded one in each hand. She felt her energy returning, the burn in her lungs and legs dissipating. Her energy filled her with more rage. Her natural state only reminded her of all they had taken from her.

The remaining dogs jumped at her almost simultaneously, the one behind her moving only seconds after the one in front. She stepped sideways and raised her hand over her head then swiftly back down, slicing off the heads of both beasts in one fluid motion.

It sounded like the men were now closing the distance. All she wanted was to get out, to get free. Now standing at the edge of her own hell, her prison over the last five years with the men that tortured her approaching a place where she was the one with the power her feelings shifted. Did she want freedom? Or did she really want revenge? Inside the scared girl that had spent years there told her to leave then. But with the energy that coursed through her, the rage filled warrior she was supposed to become told her to stay. So she stayed, broken and angry she was intoxicated with her own power and intoxication leads to bad judgement.

She moved farther away from the fence line but still within view to lure them to her. The four men stopped when they saw the dogs, dead on the ground and exchanged looks with one another. They spotted her, no blue energy coming from her hands just a slight, barefoot girl in a dirty, thin nightgown.  Like the dogs they were, they too spread out to surround her.

The man in front of her held out a hand. “27, why don’t you come back now and save us the trouble of dragging you back.”

“That’s not my name.” She said under her breath.

“You don’t have a name.” His voice dripping with disdain.

The men closed in around her, and she tried to track them all in her peripheral vision but  lost one behind her. That was the first moment she wished she had listen to the scared little girl that said leave. It was too late now. She steeled herself and looked up and meet the gaze of the man in front.  

“I might not have a name, but in a moment, you won’t have a head.”

His smug look faltered for a moment and she focused the energy back to her hands, the blue light illuminating the forest around them. All the men took a step back as the dual swords formed. The leader tried to keep his composure but every tiny waver in his confidence made her giddy with pleasure.

“You really think you can win you worthless piece of garbage?” He spat at her.

At the words, she jumped high into the air toward him, twice as high as she had been able to jump within the fence line. Calling her garbage was the last thing he ever did. She landed in a crouch on the ground in front of him and his blood ran down the edge of her blue blade. The gasps from the other men were like music to her. She stood to her full height which was still half as tall as the man she had just decapitated. Turning to the next man she ran at him, closing the gap quickly. When a pain like nothing she had known coursed through her body radiating from her chest. She started to fall toward the man and her blades flickered out, once again defenseless. She stumbled forward and to her surprise, the man caught her. Her legs went limp and he lowered her slowly in his arms. She felt a warmth spreading over her as her energy diminished. The man held her as her warm blood covered both of them before staining the earth below. The man across from them still had his gun raised and a smile on his face. She looked to the face of the man holding her and thought how she might have hated him the least. But he was still one of them. Through the blood that filled her mouth she choked out. “Do...don’t touch me.”

He lay her on the ground and stood over her. “You should have just come back with us.” He looked surprisingly sad.  The other two men joined him looking over her.

Hatred consumed her heart giving her a last surge of energy. “Death first,” she spat and a blue pulse coursed out of her body. The ripple filled the forest and she was finally free.

 

The Dark Dragon (Nathaniel)

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The Dark Dragon Accounts

(Mary)

(Isaac)

(Lucas)

The Dark Dragon

Nathaniel

By Jamie Burns

My father told me stories of the Dark Dragon my whole life. It was tradition, of course  I told them to my Children. My wife Rose and our two girls would curl up under a blanket while I repeated and added to the stories. When the stories got to scary our girls would bury their faces against Rose’s shoulders wait for the moment to pass then join back in the adventure. Those were my favorite memories of my wife.

Rose passed away shortly after giving birth to our son Isaac. For years I thought I would never tell those stories again. The memory of my girls all huddled together under a blanket listening were so perfect it hurt to think about. Until one day when Isaac was 7, he had been sick for several days, and I sat by his bed trying to comfort him. When one of my girls pointed out Isaac had never been told the tales of the Dark Dragon. Both girls agreed that mom would never have stood for that. They made themselves comfortable, Rachel at the foot of the bed and Mary along side Isaac, pulling a blanket over them both. Once again I told the tales of the Dark Dragon. Isaac loved the stories, the girls cared more for the nostalgia of the it, less about the stories themselves, but I suppose that’s part of growing up.

...

After the second tremor the merchant I worked for let us all go for the day. People were gathering in the square and it was clear no one was getting any more work done that day. I just wanted to get home to my kids. I though the tremors would be small, nothing to get worked up over and maybe we could have a nice family dinner for once.

That hope for a nice night was dashed by the fact that I got home to find no one. They were smart kids, even if they had been out they knew to come home when they felt the tremors. I double checked the rooms but it’s not like our home is big enough to have missed anyone. I paced and with every pace the room felt smaller and smaller. I couldn’t just wait here and hope they were on their way back. I left and headed toward the square.

“Rachel!” I called out when I spotted her.

“Dad!” She ran over and greeted me with a hug. “Do you know what's going on?” she asked.

“I’m sure it’s just earthquakes. But where are your brother and sister?” I tried not to sound irritated, not sure it was working. She looked at the ground.

“Rachel? Where?”  

“I saw Isaac on the path, the one that leads toward the cave.”

“On the cliff side?”

“I was going to go get him dad I swear. But it’s ok because Lucas is getting him.”

“Lucas? Who’s Lucas?”

“Um, he’s a boy I know.”

It was just getting better and better. I decided to handle one problem at a time. Find my kids first, punish them later.

“So where are Isaac and Lucas now?”

“I don’t know they haven’t come back yet.” Rachel bit her bottom lip. Something her mother use to do when she was worried as well.

“And Mary?” I asked

She shrugged her shoulders. “She wasn't with Isaac when I saw him.”

“Ok, come on. We’re sticking together.” I pulled her by the hand out of the crowd and toward the mountain. Then another tremor shook the ground.

Rachel and I were halfway to the mountain when it emerged. Every story my father had told, every story I had told and there it was. The Dark Dragon had come out of it’s cave after over 100 years.

The mountain was still a ways off but it sat like a dark shadow looking down over the village. Even from where we were it was easy to see the torrent of fire that was now pouring from the creature that stood at the cave's mouth. I ran toward the mountain,  praying Isaac had l left that cave long before.

When I realized Rachel was running behind me I turned to her. “No, go home. Run home and take cover. If your sister is there don’t let her leave.” I wished I could soothe the frightened look on her face but I was pretty sure I had the same look.

I ran at a sprint toward the mountain, and I heard it. It was a sound I had described many times over while telling the stories but never really heard till that moment. I’ll be the first to tell you that the description in the stories did not do justice to the roar of a Dragon.

It was said in the stories that the Dark Dragon’s roar was like thunder from on high. Now having heard it I would say it was a thunder that enveloped you so completely the thunder might have come from your very own bones. A sound that instantly drained the warmth from your body leaving you cold and frightened.

I ran faster half watching my path half watching the Dragon. The as the light from it’s fire dimmed the black Dragon took the the sky. It seemed to take little to no effort for the massive creature to lift off the ground. The flap of its great wings disturbing the trees and land around it with a powerful flurry of wind. The dragon shot straight into the sky. It made it’s way up out of the shadow of the mountain and what was left of the sun light hit it. I had never imagined it properly. I had been far from it and the Dragon still seemed to massive to comprehend. The Dark Dragon was indeed a black dragon just as the stories said. What the stories never got right was well the color. Yes it was a black dragon, but once the light hit it the black had a incredible undertone that glinted in the sun light. Like when lamp oil is mixed with water. A rainbow effect that mesmerizes any on looker.

I reached the start of the cliffs path and the dragon was still soaring upwards. It must have been terribly high because it was finally starting to look smaller. I thought I could see it turning slightly toward the village. I told myself again one problem at a time, first find your family. The crash of relief came with a crash of Isaac and Mary’s hugs. They had made their way back down the path and seemed to be unscathered.

“Thank God you’re alright!” I said as I looked them over to be certain.

“We’re ok Dad.” Said Marry.

“Ok we need to get back home and get Rachel.” I turn back down the path, but a hand pulled my arm stopping me. I turned to Isaac. “What is it?”

“I...I think there was another boy… in the cave.” He said.

What had Rachel called him? Lucas?

“Ok, I want you to stay right here! Do you understand me? Only move if that Dragon comes back and you need to take cover. You got that?” I instructed Mary.

They both nodded their heads in a compliant yes. I headed up the path, once I was almost to the cave opening I could see over the village and I spotted the Dark Dragon high in the air and it looked like it was flying in high wide circles around the village. I thought for Rachel in our house, I wanted to go to her right away but I hoped it wouldn’t be with bad news about her “Friend”.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Protector of the Night

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Inspired by an illustration you might have seen…

Protector of the Night

By Jamie Burns

 

I was born of no Father and no Mother. However, I am one of many brothers. Forged and created in the hellfire of oppression, sent across the sea to serve. I have served my current Master for eight long years, and his father before him. I was hand chosen by my Master’s great-grandfather to serve their family with unwavering loyalty and courage.

It falls to me, to protect the Master in his most vulnerable state. In the long nights when the sun falls and darkness is the ever present threat. I patrol the realm for all atrocities that might attempt to befall my young Master. I alone, in the hours before the sun returns its protective light to our world, am solely responsible for his life.

My Master’s predecessor had all manner of threat come to him in the night. Years I spent sleeplessly watching over him. It wasn’t uncommon for a threat to show its horrible face. They would look out from their hiding places hoping it get a clear shot at the Master, instead they would find me. The rage and fire of feverish protection glinting from my eyes. I protected my first master with every stitch I had. Threats arriving once a month, sometimes more, attempting to disturb him.

When he passed my services on to his only son I promised that I would serve my new Master with the same ferocity and love that I had him. I had no idea that my job would become so much more treacherous.

As I grew to know my new Master he showed me even more kindness and thankfulness than his father before him. He was a generous Master beyond what I could have imagined. I grew to love him like a king and would willingly lay down my life for him if the situation were to arrive.

The young Master had more foes than his father. Some weeks I would face a threat every night. Enemies would silently slink into his quarters in a haze of mist, Monsters would quake the ground as they approached hoping to get close enough to swallow the Master up. Every one of them seeing my grizzly face between them and the Master.

When threats from without weren't present threats from within often haunted him. His own inner consciousness often playing cruel tricks, sending nightmarish scenes to his mind's eye.  He would wake in a cold sweat screaming for relief. When he woke I was always there. There to reassure him that those things were unreal or had not come to pass. His family was safe; no evil had befallen them. No nightshade was present. I was there to protect him and he could rest assured.

Years passed and my watches were always busy. My Master grew, and together we forged a bond like steel. Over time the legend of the protected Master grew and threats diminished. His mind eased, becoming less likely to turn on him. But when his mind betrayed him I was there. He would find me on watch, constantly vigilant.  

I am proud to serve the house of my master. I look forward to my days in service of his son as I have served him and his father before. For I am the protector of the night, the guardian of slumber, vanquisher of monsters, and dispeller of fear. For I am a Teddy Bear.

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I wish I knew who to credit for this illustration alas I do not. Sorry.

Disappearing Act

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By Jamie Burns

 

          “Close your eyes.” she whispered into his ear softly. She stood behind him with her hands gently placed on his shoulders.

           Standing as still as a statue he did as instructed. His heart beat fast against his chest, racing at a pace he didn’t think possible.

           “Just relax.” She said as she started pacing in a circle around him. “Deep breaths, let your mind clear, let all that is within it dissolve. All that exists right now is you and the sound of my voice.”

           He relaxed his shoulders and took a long deep breath, then another. With every breath that grew deeper his heartbeat slowed. He soon forgot his discomfort. In a room so large and grand he heard nothing. Nothing but the sound of her voice and the step of her boot on the floor as she paced him.

          “Leave nothing in your mind, let every thought sink down to the souls of your shoes.” The circle she had been walking around him was getting smaller and he could feel the hem of her dress brush past him.

          Another deep breath in and just like he forgot his discomfort, he forgot what he had done with his day before that moment. The Magician circled him now so close he could smell the scent of her hair as she passed in front of him. Her voice, her scent and the steps of her boots was all that existed to him. With every breath and every step of those boots he forgot.

          Step. The color of the suit he was wearing.

          Step. The things that upset him.

          Step. Who he had come there with.

          Step. Where he worked.

          Step. The crowd of people watching him.

          Step. And eventually his own name.

 

          The audience waited in anticipation. Unsure what would happen next. The show so far had been a stupendous spectacle of illusions and trickery. The beautiful Magician had a gift for performing. Her act was done so flawlessly that even the most skeptical of her audience could not explain how she performed some of her tricks.  Now with the stage cleared of any prop or device none of the onlookers knew what to expect. The thick dark red curtain hung along the back of the stage and all there was to see was the man, eyes closed, body slightly swaying and the Magician. This trick felt different from the others and the audience wasn't sure they liked it yet.

 

           The Magician stopped and faced the man on stage, just a small step from him. The scent of her hair filled his head, a rich creamy scent of black currant. He tried to push the thought of it away like everything else.  Keeping his mind clear as he had been told to, but passively wondering what his name was again. His head tried to tell him he should be more worried about a thing like that. At the moment he couldn’t manage to care. He was too relaxed and the Magician’s voice was too soft, her smell too intoxicating.

           “You have nothing to fear. Let everything in you sink down. Let it settle as far from your mind as possible.” Her dulcet tone told him.  He already felt heavy but now his feet felt weighted to the floor. The Magician spoke again but this time it sounded muffled and far away.

 

           The Magician had turned back toward the audience.

          “As you can see our handsome volunteer is now in a deep state of relaxation.”

          “Hypnotized.”  A young woman called out from the front row.

          “No, not hypnotized. Not technically. He had done most of it by himself. I mostly just guided him in the right direction.” The Magician gave a sly smile and turned back to the man.

 

          He had been waiting, swaying in fields of black currant, listening to the low distant hum of indiscernible words she spoke. Then the sweet voice was once again clear.

          “Henry.” She said.

          The name that had been missing from him was given back. His own name filled his head and made him slightly less comfortable than he had been the second before. But it settled in him and he once again accepted it. As if she had been waiting on this process the moment Henry was Henry again she spoke.

          “Henry.”

         “Yes?” He replied, his own voice sounding harsh and raspy compared to the silkiness of the Magician’s.

         “Do you feel relaxed?” She asked.

         “More than I thought possible.” He said with a smile spreading across his face.

         “Good, is your mind clear?”

         “Yes.” He lied. For his mind was still full of her scent and the sound of her voice saying his name.

         “Good.” She said again and turned away.

 

          Facing the audience, the Magician pulled a handkerchief from a pocket specially sewn into the folds of her dress. She held the white handkerchief over her head and waved it back and forth in a long wide arch. As it reached each far side of the arch it doubled in size. Until it was as long as a bed sheet. She swirled it in the air effortlessly as if it had no weight at all. She spun back away from the audience.

          Grasping the edge of the cloth and holding it up between herself and Henry. Making it so only herself and the cloth where visible to the audience. She held it high over her own head and took a deep breath.

         “Henry, relax for me and please take a deep breath.” She said, and then shut her own eyes. She listened to his intake of breath and once the exhale came she too exhaled.

She released the cloth from her grasp and it fluttered to the floor.

 

           There was silence in the theater. The Magician still had her eyes closed and she grimaced. This was usually the time when the applause would fill the air but no sound came. She opened her eyes and to her own shock there he was. Still standing there was Henry.

           His eyes still shut and a small happiness settled on the corners of his mouth. What had she done wrong? This had never happened during a live performance before. Now she would have to turn around and come up with something to say to her audience. The Magician looked at Henry feeling perplexed. She turned to the audience and was meet with a second shock.

           Where was the audience? The theater she and Henry now stood in was empty, completely devoid of another soul. The candles were still lit and the curtains had not drawn. All was just as it was before only without the people. Was it even possible? She wondered as she examined the desolate theater.

           “Henry?”

          “Yes?” He answered swaying slightly.

          “Who are you?” She asked in a gentle way.

          His swaying stopped and the smile faded a bit. “I’m not sure at the moment.”

          “Open your eyes.”

          When he did his relaxation slowly started to ebb away. But the sight of the empty theater didn't shock him the way the Magician expected it too. He looked at her and a long silence passed between them before she said.

           “Your mind wasn't as clear as you said. Was it?”

           “Not exactly.” Henry said and he felt his face flush with heat.

           The Magician took a last look around from ceiling to floor and wondered at the feat that had just occurred.

           “Well Henry, you’re incredibly powerful and wonderfully intriguing. But we need to fix this now.”

           “We? Didn’t you do this?” He asked

           “It’s difficult to explain, but let’s just say I draw from my subject’s mind and power. Whatever was in your mind when this happened holds an unprecedented amount of power.” She explained, and Henry’s blush grew deeper. The Magician didn’t notice.

           “So how do we fix it?” Henry asked.

           “Um, it should be fairly simple. Just do that same thing in reverse.” She looked at him and saw the confusion. “You know what, don’t worry. You just do the same thing as before.”

            “Are you sure?” He asked, nervous it wouldn’t work or more importantly nervous she would somehow read his mind.  

             “I’m sure. Stand on the spot and close your eyes.”

            Henry did, and the Magician guided him back to the empty space that she had hoped for. Just like before that place for Henry became a field of black currant filled with the voice of a goddess. Together they took a deep breath and the Magician dropped the cloth again. Nothing.

 

           Twice more they tried and twice more nothing. It became harder and harder for Henry to relax. The fourth time came and before they took their last deep breath Henry asked. “What’s your name?”

           The Magician paused, she was most often known simply as The Magician. She had performed under many different pseudonyms and briefly thought of telling him one of them. Something within her said no. So she told the truth, which was a rarity for her.

           “Abigail.” It came out in a whisper.

           The name floated over the fields in his mind, her scent became stronger and enveloped him. Together they took a deep breath and once again Abigail released the cloth that fluttered to the floor.

 

           The audience erupted in applause and whistles. They stood to their feet and the roar filled the theater. The Magician stepped aside to stand next to Henry. He looked at her and gave a smile. She motioned for him to bow and he did. He in turn gestured to her and she gave a curtsy. The applause getting louder as she did.  Henry made his way off the stage and back to his seat.

            The Magician picked up the cloth and with a few short flicks of her wrist it was back to the size of a handkerchief, and she stuffed it in her pocket. The rest of the show went smoothly and the audience gave her another standing ovation at the end.

 

           During her career, that performance was one of the most talked about, becoming known as her best. There was never a mention of the disappearing audience only her magnificent showmanship and the feeling of electricity or magic that was in the air. For the Magician she remembered it as the only night she was ever unable to make a man disappear.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy- The Conclusion

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Start from the beginning Part 1

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 10

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 11

The Conclusion.

By Jamie Burns

 

The years spent traveling through space were my best years. It was when I finally found who I was and where I was meant to be. The answers: April Norian and in the sky, out seeing the Universe. A nomadic life of new adventures, it was my perfect fit. Now I was feeling like the whole of the Galaxy was pulling me in as it’s own. I saw an innumerable amount of stars fill every bit of my vision. I was ready to accept the fate that I had been given by the cold hand of death, also known as Tom.

I was ready but I guess the galaxy didn’t want me like I thought.

 

Feeling returned to my limbs and I sensed cold metal under me. I opened my eyes to a dimly lit room that I had been in before. It was the galley of the Lamplight, and I could see Nathan fiddling with something in one hand at the counter. His other arm was in a messy bandage and sling, his shirt underneath still covered in his blood.   

“Hey bro…” My voice cut out. Pushing the words out felt excruciating.

Nathan flinched at hearing my voice. “Oh thank God. You’re awake” He said as he dropped whatever he had been holding and walked to the table beside me.

“Wha… happen..” I managed to force out.

“You should try not to talk.” Nathan instructed me as he brought me a cup of water in his good hand.

“You were passed out cold when I got to you but still breathing. The sounds of the gunshots must have drawn some attention because some of Cryton's men started to head back our way. When the Lamplight showed up without Clara I was sceptical but I didn’t have a lot of options.”  

“After we broke orbit and I wrapped up my arm, Lucinda told me who she was and about your plan. She said it didn’t go exactly right, but we’re all alive so I’ll take it. We aren’t sure what happened on Clara’s end. We are on our way to the rendezvous point to meet her and the Thestrious.” Nathan sat down and gently adjusted his poorly made sling.

We were on our way to the Thestrious. The thought made all the pain I was feeling in my body ebb. I took as deep a breath as I could muster and slowly exhaled it though my nose. I let my body relax and rest till I felt like I could sit up without passing out. Then I rested again.

 

Slowly with rests between most moves I was back up and moving freely. I worked on replacing Nathan’s hastily done bandages. Luckily the bullet had gone all the way through. I fixed him up with a clean shirt, clean bandage and a much more effective sling. I didn’t want Clara seeing him all covered in his own dried blood. As we finished up Lucina called over the intercom.  

“We have a visual of Clara and your ship, we’ll be docking in about 20 minutes.” She said.

Nathan and I made our way to the bridge. Nathan moved slower but I would have run if I could have managed.  I wanted to see her, The Thestrious. Was she still in the shape she had been in when we were forced to part? Had they cannibalized her? What kind of repairs would she need?  I wouldn’t feel totally at ease till I saw the damage.

I stumbled onto the bridge and Lucinda gave me a sideways glance. Like her sister, Lucinda was sometimes hard to read.

There in the distance was my Thestrious. Looking none too worse for the wear. Yes it looking like a few things were missing but I had prepared myself for much worse.

 

The Lamplight was docked and the air lock between the two ships opened. Clara was waiting on the other side for us. At the sight of Nathan you could see Clara’s body relax. She ran to him and then slowed and gently hugged him over his sling. Nathan pulled her in for a kiss and the contentment on their faces said all they needed to say.

After Clara and Nathan parted she walked over to me and threw her arms around me, I returned in kind.

“Thank God ya’ll are alright.” Clara said.

I smiled and wanted to say something similar but my throat still felt like I swallowed a bag of nails. I was using my words sparingly but I made a note in my head to tell her later how grateful I was. I made for the corridor, eager to walk the ship and see the state of things. Just before I stepped out of the room I heard Lucinda.

“Well Clara Bug, this is where we part again.” she said.

I turned and Lucinda was holding out her hand to shake Clara’s

“Come wait in the galley with us.” I rasped out.

“She’s not waiting for a ride April.”  Said Clara

“Your men aren't coming?” I asked.

“No need my ride’s right here.” Lucinda said and pointed a thumb over her shoulder toward the Lamplight.

My heart sank. The private conversation Lucinda and Clara had, the one where Clara convinced her to help us. She hadn't convinced her at all, she had payed her. Clara had traded her ship for my ship and Nathan’s life.  I knew that for the rest of our lives I would always feel indebted to her.

Clara pushed past Lucinda’s outstretched hand and hugged her. It was brief but fitting. Lucinda headed back toward the Lamplight and tossed a few sacks that had been laying by the door into the Thestrious.

“Here’s your things… and Clara never come back to this planet again.” Lucinda said and she closed the Lamplight’s air lock.

I closed the Thestriouse’s air lock and the light on the control panel switched to green. We felt a slight jar as the Lamplight broke free. I watched out the small window as the Lamplight grew smaller. I was sure Clara was devastated, but when I turned to look at her she was walking with Nathan back toward the corridor. Unconcerned about the arrangement and seemingly fully content with it’s outcome.

 

Over the next few days we made our way back from Exodus, making plans for the future. I asked Clara if she would be willing to stay on the Thestrious and act as my second in command. Technically I owed her a fortune, between the money I had promised at the start of the journey and her losing the Lamplight because of it, I would never be able to repay her. Clara didn’t seem to care much about my outstanding debt and happily accepted my offer.

Nathan asked if I would mind if he stayed as well, which I saw coming. I agreed, as long as we set ground rules about his gambling and that he would be required to start paying off all the debt he had laying around the galaxy. By the time we made it back to a civilized planet life on the Thestrious was starting to feel like the new normal.

I sat on the bridge alone in my large, soft cushioned pilot's chair. The sound of the engines whirring down and an electric hum in the air coming to a close. With a deep breath I could smell hints of oil and the leather of my chair, smells that remind me of my dad. Once again it was clear to me who I am and where I’m meant to be.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 10

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 9

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 10

By Jamie Burns

 

The scene in the shipyard changed dramatically. Some of the men running away from the explosion, others running towards it. Panic and chaos took over like a flash flood. My ears still had a ring in them from the sound of the explosion. As it dissipated I could hear the air was filled with yelling, the sound of a blazing fire, falling debris crashing back to earth and in the farther distance screaming.

The men that moments before had me surrounded at gunpoint were gone. Infact, almost all of Cryton’s men had gone, swept up by the commotion. Which lead me to think that the explosion must have been close to their base of operations. The thought of Clara being there when it happened was scary but more over the though she might have been the one to cause it was no more comforting.

All who remained in our standoff now was myself, Cryton, (his gun now trained on me) and two of his men who had been standing slightly behind him to his right and left, suggesting they must have been his most loyal, and his right hand. The last soul left in the clearing was Nathan still laying on the ground, thankfully yelling in pain. I wasn’t happy he was in pain but I was happy to see he was still alive.

“What did you do!” Cryton yelled, and I could see the spit fly from his mouth as he raged at me.

“That wasn't us!” I wasn't totally lying because I really wasn't sure if it was Clara who was responsible for it or not.

I stepped closer to them and Cryton shot a round near my feet, causing me to freeze instantly on the spot.

“So you’re saying this is all a coincidence?” Cryton waved his gun toting hand around at the scene.

“How would I have done that?” I pointed to the smoked out area behind him. Cryton had no response. He looked down at Nathan then back to me and finally up to the Lamplight that was far in the distance behind me. Much too far away to be responsible for the explosion.  He was at a loss, the plan might not have been going exactly like I had thought but the main principle was still holding. He thought it was just the three of us Nathan, Clara and I.

Nathan still writhed on the ground but had managed to stop yelling.  Over the radio that was attached to Cryton’s belt a voice called out, “Boss, boss we need help over here! This place is going up like a candle!” The radio cut out and Cryton looked more annoyed than concerned. He pulled the radio off his belt and tossed it to the man on his right. “Go tell those idiots what to do.” He barked. The man was off towards the blaze and then there were two. Only two men stood between me, my brother and freedom.

“Come here little sister.” Cryton said, motioning with his gun to stand in front of him. I cautiously approached but stopped just out of his reach. He pointed the gun back down to Nathan. “Now tell Blondie to LAND!” He screamed the last word at me.

“As soon as you let him go.”

Nathan was now weakly pulling himself to a sitting position.

Cryton just looked at me, once again sizing me up. Without taking his eyes off me he called over his shoulder. “Tom, go get Sheila.” Cryton pointed his gun at me. The man hesitated for only a half a second then headed into the open dock of the ship they had pulled Nathan from.

“Who is Sheila?” I asked.

Cryton only smiled.

It took only a moment for Tom to return. My surprise that he returned alone was brief before the despair set it. He might not have returned with a person but he had brought what I was assuming was Sheila. An over-sized portable ground to air missile launcher. Then right there on the right side in large messy white paint I saw her name Sheila. Tom hosted Sheila up onto his shoulder and waited for instruction.

Nathan and I looked at each other. He had now made it onto his knees. He held his sagging blood soaked shoulder, and I saw his eyes twitch toward Cryton then back to me then to where Tom stood. The smallest of actions that told me all his thoughts. It wasn't the plan I had come up with but desperate times called for desperate measures. I casually straitened my index finger of the hand at my side telling him to wait for my signal.

Cryton pulled his shoulders back and looked up to the Lamplight. “Now shoot Blondie out of the sky.” He said.

“Wait!” I took a step toward Tom.

Cryton held up his hand to keep Tom from firing. “Are you ready to tell her to land now?”

Then I saw it, a shadow moving in the smoke filled sky over the explosion. My plan had mostly come together, maybe even better than I had hoped.

“No, I have to tell you something.”  I said to Cryton.

“And what’s that little sister?” He mocked.

“Taking my ship was a mistake.” Then I let the slight grin I had been holding back spread over my face.

The loud rumble and rush of air from my low flying ship tore over our heads from behind Cryton. Clara was definitely not in the explosion. The air pulled Cryton and Tom unexpectedly off balance along with the shock of seeing The Thestrious in the air. I clenched my hand into a fist. In unison Nathan and I acted. Nathan threw himself to grab at Cryton’s gun and I sprinted with all I had toward Tom.

I was sure the man had more than a hundred pound on me, but I was sure as hell not going to stand there and let him shoot mine or Clara’s ships from the sky. I aimed all of my weight at his torso and knocked him and Sheila to the ground. I heard the metal hit the ground a few yards away and had a small sense of relief.  No Shelia, no missiles. The victory was short lived. Tom had easily thrown me off and was then over the top of me. I kicked with my legs trying to keep him at a distance but it was useless. I held my arms over my face as a shield but that too was useless. I felt his hand grasp my throat like a vise.  I wasn't even sure he was using both hands.

I looked up into Tom’s face and found no anger or emotion, just a stone expression that made me think he had been doing Cryton's dirty work a long time. I started to feel a burning in my chest and a pressure behind my eyes. Tom’s face grew black around the edges. With whatever I had left I tried to dig my nails into his hand. Then I felt the feeling leaving them and thought about the fact that Tom’s hand seems very soft for a strangler. I let my head roll back and I caught a glimpse of the sky and a large gray object passed overhead.

The last thing I heard was the sound like a gunshot. The pressure around my neck was released and replaced by what seemed like a 200 pound man laying on top of me. This pressure was quickly removed as well.

I saw the world through a pinhole. My small and tiny world. My brother, the sky, the Thestrious, darkness, then stars and the universe.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Things I’m Doing When I Should be Writing!

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Things I’m doing when I should be Writing!

  • Napping
  • Watching Battlestar Galactica
  • Reading books (Written by people much more talented than me.)
  • Pinning tattoos I’ll never get on Pinterest.
  • Pinning EVERYTHING on Pinterest.
  • Forcing my dog to cuddle me. (Love me!)
  • Fantasizing about my dream job.
  • Napping
  • Working over time at my real job. (Gross)
  • Staring at my computer screen blankly.
  • Looking up random greek mythology.
  • Daydreaming myself into adventures instead of my characters.
  • Wondering how my brain got so disorganized (Who's in charge here?!)
  • Napping  

                 So it looks like I need to try harder to schedule my writing time. I should also start going to bed sooner apparently. With my new work schedule it’s safe to say I have been a bit thrown off my writing game. Not to worry I’ll be making a comeback, just need to focus more. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but so are a lot of things I have done. Fiction Friday will be a day late. I know, Friday is right there in the title, sorry. Sometimes life is exhausting.

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 9

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 8

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 9

By Jamie Burns

It was early Christmas morning, I woke up feeling awful and promptly ran to the bathroom to throw up. I felt a hand rub my back and then put a wet washcloth on the back of my neck. I expected to look back and see my mom but it was Nathan. I was only seven years old but then again so was he. When I was feeling ok to move he helped me to the living room, he put me on the couch, gave me a blanket, turned on the Christmas tree lights and made me a cup of tea. We sat there looking at the twinkle lights of the tree, some blinking slowly on and off, others steady. I drifted in and out of sleep. Nathan all the while sitting beside me making sure I didn’t need more tea or a bucket if I had another bout of sickness. Two hours later when my parents woke up they asked why we hadn't woken them and I remember saying “Nathan took care of me.” That’s all I can remember from that particular Christmas.

I hadn't thought of that in over sixteen years. As we sped in the Lamplight toward the rendezvous point the words stuck in my head. “Nathan took care of me.” Throughout primary school, high school and well into flight school Nathan took care of me. I helped him with homework, studying and even would cover for him with mom and dad on occasion. It was what we did. We took care of each other and I was determined to keep the tradition alive.

I landed the Lamplight a few miles from the rendezvous point. Clara and Lu both walked on to the bridge. Lu was dressed in some of Clara’s clothes and they had pumped up the volume on Lu’s blond hair. “Alright, this is the best spot.” I said to Clara and headed to the back of the ship expecting her to follow. When I realized she hadn't I turned back around. Clara and Lu faced each other awkwardly. Clara held out a hand, “Thank you for your help.”

Lu took Clara’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “You’re sure it’s worth all this?” She asked.

Clara said nothing just gave her head one firm nod.

Clara and I walked to the back of the ship, she opened the hatch to the cold air outside. We both looked out then at each other. “Remember watch your back at all times. She’s going to be a lot heavier than the Lamplight so don’t be timid. Don’t be afraid to push her around, just get her in the air and head to the place Lu setup.” I told her.

“It’s gonna work.” Clara said it as if she was trying to convince both of us.

I dropped the hard tone in my voice, allowing myself to be genuine and vulnerable for a moment. “Please just be careful Clara, I don’t want to have to come save you too, but I will if I have to.” I gave her a weak smile but it was all I could muster. Clara pulled me in for a hug. “We’ll get him back.” With that she turned and set off.

I closed the hatch and the moment it was sealed the Lamplight rose back into the air.  On the bridge I found Lu at the helm, looking confident and at ease.

“No wonder they could never catch you.” I said as I sat in the co-pilots seat. Lu just smiled and pulled back on the helm sending us higher into the gray clouds.

We arrived at the rendezvous ten minutes ahead of the dead line. How we managed that  seemed like an act of God or a lot of happy accidents all in a row. Either way I was grateful. Instead of landing the Lamplight in the spot that had been clearly left open for us it dipped low and I tossed the rope over the edge of the hatch and slid down to the ground. Once my feet had touched I raised my hands showing I was unarmed and the Lamplight quickly gained in altitude again. I walked to toward the crowd.

Turned out the rendezvous was yet another shipyard, but this one had far more security and was much busier than the one we had been in earlier that day. The ships in this yard didn’t look like the junk that was in the other shipyards.  Here they were larger, well built, with weapons, no rust and some I would even call shinny. It felt more like a showroom than a shipyard. I recognized the ship the crowd was gathered around. The last time I saw her she was flying away from the planet Cierra with the Thestrious flying away beside her as I could only watch from the ground.

Hands still up I kept walking toward the crowed. Some of the men had their guns raised while others looked on relaxed, in the middle of them was Cryton. He was wide in the shoulders and seemed fit for a man that looked like he was in his late forties.  All the others seemed to look to him for cues on what to do next. It made me wonder how bad a man you have to be to have others fear you on a planet like Exodus. I pushed the thought down because it made me more nervous than I liked. Cryton on the video had seemed charismatic and likeable for a kidnapper. That's what made me so nervous about him. He was a kind of bad man made worse by his good lies. Not that I didn’t have a lie or two up my sleeve.

“Well there she is boys, the little sister.” Cryton called out. With a flick of his finger the men with guns advanced towards me.

I watched as they encircled me. “Yep that’s me… where’s my brother?”

“Oh he’s close by.” Cryton said, him and his men chuckling at that. I instinctively took a step back.  Cryton eyes narrowed in on me, “What’s your little gal pal doing up there? Tell her to land.”

I had to laugh at this one. “So you can kill all three of us and keep the ship. I don’t think so.”

“You know I could just shoot that match box out of the sky if I wanted to.” He was getting more frustrated.

“I’m sure you could, but you don’t want to.”

He paused and let out a breath. “No, I don’t but if you’re up to something fishy I might just change my mind.”

“Where is Nathan?” I asked again.

He looked back toward his ship and waved to the men waiting there. A moment later two men dragged Nathan down the dock and dropped him next to Cryton. Nathan slowly stood to his feet, I was sure he couldn't see much with his face swollen to it’s current size.  I called to him. “Nathan it’s ok I’m here.” I walk a bit closer to get a better look at him. The sound of my voice didn’t put him at easy. If anything it seemed to make him angry.

“April? Why? I told you guys to leave.” He was scared and angry and I didn’t really blame him. He forced his eyes open and looked right to where I was standing. “Why can’t you ever listen to me?”

“Alright now little sis you tell blondie to put her ass on the ground now.” Cryton demanded.

“Give me Nathan, then she’ll land in the distance. You’ll let us go while you head to your new ship.” I called out sounding as confident and forceful as possible.

Cryton stared at me for a moment in shock, I guess at my demands. Then a slow smile spread across his face and he looked around. His men nervously looking back at him. He started to laugh, the men looked at each other, and started to laugh as well. Though it was clear they weren't sure why.

“I don’t think you understand little sis, this is not a negotiation.” He said then he pulled his gun from his holster and turned Nathan toward him. I knew I was to far away but I still lunged forward, Cryton pressed the barrel against Nathan’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.

I could have sworn that I felt that bullet. I felt the shockwave flow through my body and weaken my knees. At least that’s what I thought at first. Then I realized everyone was looking up. In the distance behind Cryton’s ship was a plume of black smoke. The massive explosion had socked all of us. I saw Nathan lying motionless on the ground my heart sank and I looked  back to the plume of smoke now lit by the fire that burn beneath it. My face must have been white as a sheet as I wondered where Clara was.

May's Marvelous Manuscript Monday

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May Progress Report

 

May is over in just a few days and my current word count is just south of 35,000 words! That means I am almost to my 40,000 word halfway point. When I say it that way I feel kinda like a badass. I’m also FINALLY done with my first person to third person point of view conversion which I should have finished doing around a month ago. So when I say it like that I feel, not so accomplished, but I’m not gonna let it get me down.

I’m also on track with my book reading goals. Man am I crushing it! So far 2016 might end up being my most gratifying year to date, when it comes to personal growth and accomplishment. We still have half the year to go but I’m confident it’s only going to get better. You might have noticed my good mood and that’s probably heavily influenced by the fact I don’t have to go back to my day job for another week. Yippy! The rest of my week will be filled with reading, writing, and the less enjoyable yard work. (It’ll be worth it, I repeat to myself over and over.)  I’m hoping to get another 5,000 words on my manuscript to get me to that 40,000 word halfway point. The only thing that keeps distracting me… my own ideas.

It’s hard to focus on just one story when your brain is constantly coming up with new ones. Other than my current manuscript, which will be the first in a three book series, I have three other unrelated story concept I am itching to put on paper. One post apocalyptic adventure of rescue, one science fiction and fantasy fusion tale and one romance turned grim murder mystery. If only I could write them as fast as I come up with them. My brain is starting to feel a little overheated just thinking about it all.

One goal at a time is what I’ll be sticking to. Finish my current work in progress by November 1st. If I can finish early then I can start working on another story. In fact maybe that will act as more motivation. Or maybe Bilbo said it best and I’ll end up feeling thin, stretched, like butter scraped over to much bread. We shall see, as it stands I’m feeling good about the coming June.

 

Also if you're interested in what I'm reading now or have been reading and how I feel about it, the best way to find out is to check out my Instagram account. @jamie_scifiohmy It's also a good place to see the most beautiful, sweetest, and smartest black lab that ever existed.  You've been warned.

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 8

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 7

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 8

By Jamie Burns

 

In a universe that seems vast and infinite, every once and awhile the stars align. When they do it fills you with a sense that maybe, just maybe, the galaxy isn't totally out to screw you. That’s how I felt when Clara and I found Lucinda.

Right up till the moment that Lucinda punched her little sister Clara in the face.

The people in the crowded bar looked at the commotion for a moment before quickly looking away. Almost like they didn’t want to be caught looking. No one made a move to stop the tussle. After Clara landed a backhanded slap across Lucinda’s face the fight digressed into that of school girls pushing each other and pulling hair. The three large men that had been surrounding Lucinda moved the crowd back. I was going to try and put a stop to it but one of the men's overwhelmingly large hands pulled me back from the two swinging blondes.

“Clara!” I yelled.

My voice seemed to bring her back from the edge she had gone over. Clara pulled herself back from Lucinda. They both huffed with heavy breaths. “Damn Lu.What in creation was that for?” Clara asked, rubbing her bruised jaw.

Lu’s voice was so similar to Clara’s they were almost interchangeable. The deep draw of each word pulling on the air. “Six years, you don’t contact me. You don’t want nothin’ to do with me? Then, I hear someone's looking for me, because they need a favor. That someone turns out to be you. How you think that makes me feel Clara Bell?” Lu said with a conviction that made even me feel bad.

“Don’t you lie to me Lu. You knew I was the one looking for you.” Clara retorted.

The large man, had released my shoulder and moved back toward Lu. I realized now the three men were obviously Lu’s bodyguards.  I watched as the two sisters stared each other down. I had never imagined Clara with siblings. She had never mentioned a sister even though she had told me several stories of her parents and when she was younger. To find out now there was another Bell family member present in those tales changed the way I saw Clara. We were both the younger sister. But somehow Clara had cut Lu from her stories. It felt strange, I couldn’t think of a single memory from my childhood that didn’t involve Nathan in some way shape or form. He had always been there, my ever present big brother. Even if he was only a few minutes older than me. Was Lu that way for Clara in the beginning? Her best friend, her co-conspirator, her backup?

The women stayed a fair distance from each other. “I’m sorry it turned out like this.” Clara said and she really sounded like she meant it.

“So am I Clara bug.” The comment brought a hint of a smile into both the Bell women's faces. “Yes, I knew it was you. I have eyes and ears all over this rock. I knew you were here the second you stepped off that wind-up toy you call a ship.”

“What do you mean eyes and ears everywhere?” It was the first time I had spoken since breaking up the fight and I realized that Lucinda had no reason to know who I was. That fact didn’t faze her.

Lu smiled “Oh sister, you think I would come to a place like Exodus and I wouldn’t naturally take over?”

“Take over what?” Asked Clara.

“I’m the ‘Queen of Chems in six different quadrants.” Lu twisted her wrist in the air with a flourish.

“You’re a drug lord?!” Clara exclaimed.

“Oh Honey, don’t say it like that. But yes.”

I wasn't sure what Clara had expected to find when we went looking for her sister but I was sure a drug lord was not it. Clara was speechless with her mouth agape. I hated to interrupt the thought process that must have been running through Clara’s head but I needed to.

“Clara, we’re running out of time.” I said to her.

She composed herself again. “We need help Lu."

“And we need it in the next 3 and a half hours.” I added.

I wasn't sure what Clara said to Lu while they sat in Lu’s privet both in the back corner of the bar. The conversation took less than five minutes and I was elated. Clara and Lu returned, with Lu’s agreement to help us get Nathan back, as well as get the three of us back off Exodus. Now with Lu’s help and her unexpected resources my plan was looking more like a plan and less like a suicide mission.

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 7

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 6

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 7

By Jamie Burns

 

The white letters burned bright in the dimly lit bridge of the Lamplight. “9 O’clock ladies.” Clara and I stayed glued to the screen till it once again went black. Clara turned in her chair to face me, her normally rosy cheeks were as white as paper. I could see a rising panic in her eyes despite the fact she tried to fight it back. “We can’t leave him.” Clara said in a determined, this is set in stone kind of way.

“Well of course we can’t.”

Clara’s face softened and her shoulders relaxed.

“You didn’t really think I was going to suggest we leave my brother here?” I asked.

“Well no… I just.” Clara’s voice dropped off.

I put my hand on her shoulder and mustered up a small smile. “It’s ok, we will get him back… somehow.”

“9 O’ clock is less than six hours away.” Clara said. “What do we do? Just hand over the Lamplight?”

“No, we can’t do that, all three of us will die on this planet if we do.” I started pacing the floor of the bridge, trying to inspire my brain into some kind of brilliant idea.  Clara leaned back in the chair trying to do the same.

“Could we buy the guy off?” Clara suggested

“We don’t have enough for him to even consider it. Plus all my money is on my ship, the ship he has. For all I know he has already found it, either way we don’t have it.” I spoke as I rubbed my temples and paced.

I tried to think of a plan but nothing came, what did come to me was guilt and anger. The guilt, why had I said yes to splitting up? When had I ever let Nathan come up with the plans? It’s always been up to me to look out for him and I just let him go off alone. Then the anger, he managed to get himself caught, and ruin another one of my plans. This was all his fault to begin with. I stopped pacing, this was a poor waste of the short time we had.

Five minutes had passed when I finally dropped down into one of the seats. “This is impossible, every idea I have needs at least three people to attempt.” I complained.

“We need help.”

“Yes, we need help. In a place we know no one, and no one we do know would come. Even if they would, there’s no time.” The word hopeless came to mind.

In the softest tone her deep southern voice could manage I heard Clara say. “I might know someone.”

My head snapped to look at her. “Who? Are they trustworthy?”

Clara hesitated to speak, “No, she’s not trustworthy, and I’m not totally sure where she is, but it sounds like it might be our only option.”

“Clara,” I said slowly “Who is it?”

“My sister.”

 

Despite Clara’s obvious hesitation and concern, I was overjoyed. I jumped out of my seat and rushed over to Clara. Quickly pulling her by the arms out of the pilot's seat and took her place. Firing up the engines of the Lamplight.

“Good gracious, April what are you doing?” Clara asked.

“We need to find her right now. On the way you can tell me what went down with you two and I’ll tell you the plan.”

“I don’t know where she is.” Clara said

“Well we have a little over five hours to find her, convince her to help up, and hope she doesn’t screw us over.” I  lifted the Lamplight into the sky and headed in the direction of the nearest populated area. Looked like we would be getting to know Exodus better than we had planned.  

...

Clara hadn't spoken to her sister in six years. Her sister Lucinda Bell had been convicted for murdering her husband, who, according to Clara was no winner himself. While he was alive Clara’s sister and her husband had led a life of regular criminal activity. Traveling around robbing people and evading the authorities. Eventually something went wrong between the two of them, and Lucinda’s husband was found dead. She was caught and convicted of the murder but before she was taken to prison she had escaped the authorities once again.  After two years without word Clara received a video message from Lucinda telling her she was alive and on  Exodus. Six years had passed and Clara had hoped to never contact her again. But today was a very special circumstance.

The only thing Clara knew about the location of her sister was the quadrant of the planet the message was sent from and that was a six-year-old message. Since it was all we had to go on that’s where we started. Thankfully Exodus was a small plant, Clara and I both watched every minute tick by, it took us forty of them to get to the area. I started formulating a plan B, for if we couldn't find Lucinda. Plan B was not looking so good.

Once on the streets we started asking around about Lucinda. Most of the people in this area seemed to be on some kind of drug that made them a starry eyes mess, seeming incapable of understand words. Another twenty minutes passed and the tightness pulled at my chest.  I was about to suggest we move to the next quadrant when out of the mess of starry eyed dope heads a man started walked towards us. I pulled out my gun, not sure what to expect. When he saw it he stopped his approach. I saw then he was a young boy probably in his mid-teens, he looked strung out and wiry, he was on something different.

“I just want to talk.” the boy said as he coward a few yards away from us.

“About what?” I asked.

The boy looked around. “Who you’re looking for.”

I looked back at Clara, and she returned a ‘might as well’ look to me. I nodded my head toward an open ally off the side of the street. The boy made his way in and we followed, once inside I raised my guy in case of ambush.

“You, you don’t need that.” He stammered.

“Well I feel pretty when I hold so I’m just gonna keep it, kay.” I masked my nerves with sarcasm as always. “What do you know?”

“Well I want to tell you but…”

“But what?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you for free.” He said as his nervous form looked around the ally.

“Really? You’re going to try and give us the shake down? I have you at gunpoint.” I was already sick of Exodus.

“I, I don’t think you know how to use, use that.” He stammered.

Without warning I shot an empty can that sat next to his left foot, causing it and him to jump into the air. “Is that so?” I asked.

He hunched himself over even more.

“Look kid, we are in a time crunch and if you really know anything you better say it right freakin’ now!” I was losing all sense of patience. My watch said we only had another four and half hours, and it would take 40 minutes to get to the location we were to meet Cryton.

“Ok, ok.” He backed up to the ally wall and slid down to a seated position.

“Well?” Clara said.

“You’re, you’re looking for Lu, right?” he asked.

I looked back at Clara. “Yes.” She said, her eyes growing bigger.

“She’s in the Brice quadrant.” He said as he dropped his head into a slump, realizing his sad attempt to make some money had failed.  My heart leapt, the Brice quadrant was not far and it was even the direction we need to be going. We might still have a bit of hope left, if I didn’t think about the fact we only had four hours and fifteen minutes to save my brothers life and get the Thestrious back.  

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Post Frequency Update!

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Post Frequency Update! I am proud to say that since I started Sci Fi, Oh My in February I have posted every Monday and Friday as promised. Hip Hip Hooray! It’s not always easy but it is rewarding. The only problem is, it’s getting trick to keep up with my goal to finishing the first draft of my book. So I’ll be changing up my scheduled a bit.

For the time being Manuscript Mondays will be a once a month post, (Monthly Manuscript Monday) most likely at the end of the month.  That way I can dedicate more time to the manuscript itself. I also believe it will help me bring better insight and quality to the updates and tips I’m passing on to you.

Fiction Friday will remain the same! It’s my favorite segment. It’s a great way for me to stretch my legs as a writer and try new things. I already feel like it’s helping me grow and become a more entertaining writer.  No changes there, look forward to new and continuing stories every Friday here at Sci Fi, Oh My.

Thanks for coming by and I’ll see you Friday!  

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 5

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 1                                                                                                                                                       How to get by in the Galaxy Part 2                                                                                                                                                       How to get by in the Galaxy Part 3                                                                                                                                               How to get by in the Galaxy Part 4

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 5

By Jamie Burns

 

The amount of empty space that stretches between the mainstream planets and Exodus scares a lot of people. I remember one instructor in particular while I was at flight academy that would always  manage to list at least one of the dangers of Exodus and its surrounding space quadrant in every lesson.

“It’s a place without law.”

“Disease is everywhere.”

“No one will stop to help if you need it.”

and my favorite “If you go there you will probably never come back.”

I was fairly certain that instructor had never been remotely near Exodus. I thought he was just trying to scare the new class of students. Once I started traveling on my own I heard more stories. Not all of them as ominous and dire as the ones from my professor but none of them painted a very nice picture of our galaxy's outermost planet.   

It was a long trip to get to Exodus, you needed to prep for before setting off. Once you started the journey you just hope nothing happens between point A and point B, because none of the repair services would come close to Exodus to get you.

There were 2 small black holes on the way to Exodus that needed to be closely monitored as you passed them to make sure they didn’t expand and suck you into their field. There were scavenger ships that would try and overtake whoever they passed so they could piece out and sell parts from the ships they took. Past that was a field of space junk that was mostly comprised of government cruisers.  

Exodus was known as the Outlaw’s planet. Originally terraformed as a prison planet, it was picked for its isolation from the other planets and set up to sustain itself with little supervision. I know, stupid idea right. The years passed by and eventually the prisoners outnumbered the guards and took over. Once the government realized what was happening they sent an armada to try and regain control. It was a futile effort, Exodus had been designed to withstand incoming attacks and ships that would potentially add in escape attempts. With the prisoners in control of the planet’s weapons defense system, the armada didn’t stand a chance. Hence the field of government cruiser space junk that surrounded the planet. Basically the government handed the bad guys the perfect fortress.

Fifty years later the planet wasn’t just for prisoners anymore. It was the planet of misfit outlaws, drug lords, runaways, space ruffians, thieves, and all manner of corrupt individuals. Exodus had it’s own system of government that was anything but just. Control of the planet would change hands often and sporadically as whoever the current ruler was would be assassinated so another more corrupt person would step into the role, making it a place of chaos and disorder. No law needed to be followed or enforced, except one. Exodus had only one rule universally followed by all who lived there. If  any outside government or law enforcement shows up kill them, or report it so someone else could.

I was never officially part of the government, once I graduated flight academy and my Ex had publicly humiliated me, I decided I didn’t want to stick around and take orders from some uptight brass. It was a good call that I still stand by. I was still nervous the closer we got to Exodus, given my almost affiliation with law enforcement. The crazy tales my old professor told our class ran through my head as we gently glided through the field of demolished cruisers. I decidedly hadn’t shared any of these stories with Clara or Nathan. No need to add to the already tense and nervous atmosphere on the ship.

Not one of us had even mentioned a doubt about going to Exodus. It had been almost three months since Nathan and I were left on Ciera, stuck watching my ship The Thestrious fly off into the sunset without me. Clara agreed to help us, for a price of course. Since then getting to Exodus had been our only goal. Why go to the scum bag capitol of the galaxy? Well where else would they set up the Universe's black market.?

Exodus’ black market was as under the table as your local grocery store. No need to hide your deals when there is no one around who cares. The market took up almost a quarter of the planet, one could easily find anything they wanted from government grade weapons, every kind of designer and back alley drug you can think of, to all manner of stolen goods, and for those with enough money there was even an area for those looking to buy people. What a sick notion.

We would be looking for the shipyard. Without a doubt that was where I would find the Thestrious. We entered the atmosphere and it seemed to strengthen my resolve. I was going to get her back no matter what. I wouldn’t leave her here to be bought and used by some dirtbag. The Thestrious was everything I had poured my life into and I wouldn’t just give up on my life because it had brought me to the worst part of the galaxy.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Getting to know a Character

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Getting to Know a Character

Anyone that has even read a book or watched a movie can not deny one thing. We all like characters. We might not all like the same characters but we are all there for the same reason, we are interested in the characters. Whether you’re a villain loving hero hater (i.e. Siths, Death Eaters, Hydra members) or you’re the kind of person that roots for the home team (i.e. Avengers, Jedi Order, Justice League, or any protagonist hero really) .  We all want to know more about characters and how things turn out for them. We can all agree this is true, if you don’t, Well you’re lying mister.

We want to know the characters, then once we do they can often become like old friends to us. It’s the reason we always buy the next book in the series, reread old favorites, re-watch movies and binge watch season after season on netflix, it’s the characters. Getting to know characters is the best, when reading and writing.

If you love a character in a book you are totally invested in them by the end of that book. You get to know them as if they were a living breathing person. In fact sometimes we know them  better that we know real people.  Gasp! Because we have spent the time getting to know them because some awesome author spent the time to make that character.

As a writer knowing your character makes it easier to write in “their voice”.

“Their voice” meaning how or what they might say. It doesn't have to be words it can be just a reaction or a look. Knowing your character means knowing their personality and how they handle situations. Making it easy to believe that they are the ones reacting or speaking, not you as the writer. That’s the goal right? I know it’s my goal.

Loving your character can really help you when you’re writing. I always get excited when I know I’ll be writing a scene where one of them gets to be cheeky, clever or funny. It’s what drives me. The parts of the book that come along and tell you who the character is, these are pretty much the best parts. With every reaction and statement the writer is helping determine who that character is to the reader. That’s a lot of power as a writer. 

This is why short stories are hard for me, because it gives you so little time to get to know everyone. That’s probably why I have yet to write a Fiction Friday that I didn’t plan a continuation to in my head. Sorry it’s just too difficult.

Whether you're writing your hero or your villain make them their own person, everyone reacts differently to different situations. A book that is full of people with the same personality sounds really boring. I love my cast of character and I hope readers will too.

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 4

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 3 

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 4

By Jamie Burns

 

The “Security” around Michael's cruiser ship was laughable. I guess he thought no one on the outer rim would be crazy enough to steal from a major company that’s backed by the Universal Government. I usually wouldn’t be that crazy either but, I couldn’t resist crippling Michael’s ship and ego.

The two men he left to century the ship seemed to be pretty comfortable as they drank and sat around outside of the ship’s hull. The large ramp that lead into the cargo bay of the cruiser ship sat open. The men had used some of the cargo crates for a makeshift card table and chairs.

Clara, Nathan and I peered from around the edge of a nearby ship parked in the same hanger. “So, how do we get past them? Knock them out?” Nathan asked.

“We could,” I said with hesitation. “Or…” I looked to Clara and raised my eyebrows at her. Clara was confused for a moment. I looked her up and down, then nodded my head toward the men.

“You want me to…” Clara dropped her hands at her sides in a way that made me a little sorry I even asked.

“Fine it was just that it’s our best option.” I said. I looked back around the edge of the ship to start thinking of a plan B. Then I hear Clara take a deep breath and sigh.

“No, you’re right. It’s the fastest and easiest way. It shouldn't even be that hard by the looks of those two.” Clara said in surrender.

“Great! Maybe you should undo some of these buttons.” Nathan said as he moved his hand towards her chest. The sound of Clara slapping it away echoed in the hanger. I quickly looked to see if the men had noticed. Thankfully they hadn't and they still sat playing cards, laughing, and drinking.

Clara shook out her bouncy blond hair and gave it a tussle before she walked out into view of the guards. Nathan and I made our way in the opposite direction to circle around the ship. We moved toward the cruiser hidden from the view of the men. As we moved I could hear Clara’s footsteps as she shuffeled toward the men.

“Oh My, well look what I found.” Clara said, she made her voice higher than it usually was and much more playful. “You gentlemen wouldn't happen to know were a girl can find another drink would ya?” She finished with a soft hiccup. Playing drunk was easy for a woman that owned her own bar. The men quickly invited Clara to have a seat with them and poured her a drink. Nathan and I could have simply walked right inside the cruiser. No stealth necessary with Clara around them. But we still needed to move quickly, no telling what kind of men my slimball Ex employed. So best not to leave Clara for too long.

Michael might have been the all star, golden boy at flight academy but he was never very good at following common procedures. The ship was totally devoid of any crew. Any captain worth their salt would know, you never leave a ship this big with zero crew abord. Alway have men that patrol the corridors. There’s too many places to hide, you end up with stowaways, assassins, or like us thieves. I guess I should just be greatful Michael was a bad student. We made our way to the engine room and I pulled out the list of things I needed to scavenge. Nathan was mostly there to hold things and be my lookout. I yanked the last part we needed from it’s home and tossed it in the sack we brought.

“Ok, let’s get out of here.” I said.

“Wait, what do you mean? We can’t leave yet.” Nathan looked at me in shock.

“What are you talking about we have to go?”

“If you think we are leaving before we pay a little visit to the captain's quarters you’re crazy.” Nathan said with a wild grin on his face. He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the engine room. Moments later we were standing in Michael’s quarters. Nathan handed me something from his pocket. It was a plastic bag with some kind of white powder in it.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I got it from a herbalist in town this morning. It’s supposed to make you breakout in this crazy itchy, scaly rash anywhere it touches, so be careful when you pour it.” He said.

“Pour it?” I wasn't totally following my twins line of thought here.

“In his sheets.” Nathan said and threw the blankets off the bed.

“Nathan! That’s childish. I can’t do that.”  I said it to myself as much as I did to him.

“April, it’s not like it’ll kill him or anything, it’ll just knock him off his high horse for a couple weeks.”

I stared at the bag of powder. All of a sudden I felt like we were 9 year old again, when Nathan convinced me to eat a piece of my cousin’s birthday cake before the party even started. Mom was not happy. I wrestled back and forth with my conscience. As much as I loved the thought of Michael covered head to toe in a hideous rash it was a little too crazy Ex-girlfriend for my style. But a smaller scale would be nice.

“No, not the sheets, it’s too much.” I tossed the blankets back on the bed.  Nathan sighed in disapintment, only to have the widest grim spread across his face a moment later, when I opened the compartment to the captains privet restroom. I left a nice thin line of the misterious poweder around the rim of the toilet seat, and with the grease left on my hands from the stolen parts I left a message on his mirror.

"Thanks for all the memories.

                                 Love- AN"

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

How to get by the the Galaxy Part 3

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How to get by in the Galaxy Part 2

How to get by in the Galaxy

Part 3

By Jamie Burns

“That’s it! The gravity field is working!” Clara told me as she check the ship’s display. “We’re losing them now.”

“Oh thank goodness.” Nathan said, clutching his hands into fists, the prospect of losing his fingers getting farther and farther away.

That was one problem down. Now I just needed to navigate us back through the outrageous amount of space garbage and hope that Clara’s ship the Lamplight doesn't take too much damage before we make it out! For a ship that was much smaller than mine it didn’t maneuver as well.

My ship “The Thestrious” was quite a bit bigger than The Lamplight, but still only half the size of the ship we were leaving in the gravity field at the moment. The Thestrious was our father’s ship, when he retired he gave it to me. At that time it was a simple cargo ship that ran from our home planet to the neighboring planets three times a day for 13 years. But once my father handed it over I poured every penny I had ever earned into it. I turned it into a top of the line transport ship with every mechanical and technical upgrade I could get my hands on. Albeit with a dated outer shell, it flew like a dream. I flew her all over this great galaxy, and I missed her.

“We’re almost out.” I told Clara once I saw where the garbage started to look more scattered and open space lie beyond. I pushed the thrust to it’s maximum so there would be no chance that the backup gravity field would grab us on the way out. We were so close to home free I should have seen it coming. A hunk of garbage the size of a car floated right into our path. I yanked the helm to the right as Nathan yelled. “April lookout!”

I missed the better half of the hunk of metal, but its overly rounded sides still scraped along the side of the Lamplight and then nicked the tail of the ship. We burst through the last bits of the garbage, the gravity field no longer pulling us back toward the dump.

With the damage sustained, The Lamplight barely made it to the nearest planet but it was rough going. Our landing was just shy of having the word crash in front of it. Once Clara and I looked at the damage it was pretty clear we needed some repairs and upgrades before we set off again. Two days in the ship port and we found that even with Clara’s “enhanced” negotiation skills it was still going to cost us almost 900 credits.

The third night, the three of us were sitting in a local tavern discussing our options when Nathan’s face turned white as he looked over my shoulder. I was about to turn around to see what he was looking at when he reached across the table to push me down, as he said. “April, duck.” My heart thumped rapidly, as I lie with my face against the gross bench of our booth. Turning my head to see Clara and him, still sitting up right. Clara with a look of confusion and Nathan with a look of overly forced casualness.  Nathan’s eyes darted around the ceiling of the room, then back to the area he has first been looking. “Crap, sorry April, I tried.” He shrugged and motioned for me to sit back up.

When I did, I understood. Nathan knew how I felt about my Ex. The mere mention of him could ruin my day, and the last thing I wanted was to have a run-in with him. In the whole galaxy, the odds of running into someone you know are next to zero. But there he was, walking towards our booth with a stupid grin on his stupid face.

“April, Nathan! It that you? The Norien siblings in the flesh!” He spoke loud so most of the tavern would hear him. It seemed his thirst for attention still hadn't been quenched since we last saw each other. “What in the universe? I haven’t seen you guys since…”

“You cheated off my exam and then dumped me during your speech at graduation?” I made sure I spoke at the same volume he had. He looked around the room then sat uninvited at our booth.

“Michael get out of here.” Nathan told him.

“I just want to catch up. See how you’re doing.”

“Apologize maybe?” Nathan suggested.

“For what? April overreacted. Come on you know how it is Nathan.”

“I really don’t. You need to leave.”

“You can’t prove I stole your test April. You’re just mad I’m a better pilot than you.”

“ No, I’m mad because you know you’re not, but you keep saying it anyway. Oh and the whole public humiliation part doesn't sit too well with me either.” I crossed my arms and waited for him to get the hint.

“Fine whatever, but you,” Michael said addressing Clara now as he handed her a card, “If you need anything you come find me.” He flashed his big slimeball smile at her as she grimaced. I really did like Clara. Michael averted his eyes so he didn’t have to look at me again. He started to walk away but stopped when I asked, “Michael, are you still flying that 271 cruiser around?”  He hesitated to answer “Yeah, why?”

“Just wondering. You can go now.” I made a dismissal motion with my hand.

“He seemed downright awful.” Clara said as she started to hold the card Michael had given her to the candle sitting on the table. I quickly grabbed her wrist to pull it back from the flame. “I think he seemed like the answer to all our problems.” I said, taking the card from her and reading the address printed on it. “In fact, it looks to me like I just found a place we can get all our parts.”

“You mean steal them from Michael?” Nathan asked.

“Well he did tell Clara if she needed anything to come find him. Him. His ship. What's the difference? Is that a problem?” I said to both Nathan and Clara.

“No just making sure I understand. I’m in.” said Nathan.

I looked over to Clara to see if she agreed.

“No problem, I love the idea. Free parts and we get to mess with your Ex. That’s a win win.” Clara beemed.

“Perfect, tomorrow night we go shopping.” I said as we clinked our glasses together.

 

How to get by in the Galaxy Part 4

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

THE MOVIES

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The Movies

Let’s do this thing!

I first learned to love a good story through the magical silver screen of films. Hold on! Before you go grabbing your pitchforks and torches. Yes the book is always better. Don’t go thinking I’m the kind of girl that will skip a book and just sees the movie.

I’m just trying to be honest with you, reading was not my first love. As a kid I was a horrible reader, (probably because I never practiced). So reading was something I learned to love later in life. Yes I do love it. But for me, my first love will always be the silver screen. I’m what you might call a cinephile.  Cinephile: A devoted moviegoer, especially one knowledgable about the cinema.

I think the experience of going to the movie is different for everyone. Let me tell you what it’s like for me.

I arrive 15-30 minutes early. Why? First, because no one in their right mind wants to get a seat so far in front or off to the side you get a kink in your neck. Second, it gives me time to settle in, maybe even get a snack. (Depends on the movie, Drama = No snacks, Comedy or Action Adventure = Popcorn and Candy!)

 I am a super firm believe that if you so much as light up your phone to see what time it is you should be asked to leave! Yes, that might sound extreme to some but this blog is my world and my world has rules! Going to the movies should be a relaxing and exciting experience. That’s all ruined when I see a phone shining like a damn lightsaber in my eyes! They might think they are being sneaky but they aren't Everyone sees you!

So I’ve got a great seat, a snack, and I’m all settled in. The time comes and the lights dim slightly, this is the travel portion. They play trailers for upcoming movies while the world outside falls farther and farther away. Then the lights go completely dark. You have arrived at your destination. The world and worries you had before are left behind for the next 90-160 minutes. You can escape to someone else's story, someone else's problems, someone else’s love life. (Not that I need it). Let the things that troubled you before grow smaller in your mind. Just watch the movie, and DON’T TALK!

When I went to see The Battle of Five Armies, you know the last Hobbit movie, well, I basically equate my feelings that day to that of  a 6 year old girl seeing frozen for the first time. When they re-released Toy Story, I REALLY felt like I was 6 again. It doesn't always need to be those big blockbuster, high budget, crazy special effects numbers. I’m an avid lover of a wide range of movies from the the 80’s classics, (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Princess Bride) martial arts action, a.k.a my Jackie Chan obsession, (Operation Condor, Legend of the Drunken Master, New Police Story) comedy adventure, (Tremors, Mystery Men, Back to the Future) chick flicks, (While you were Sleeping, Never Been Kissed, You’ve Got Mail) science fiction, (Terminator, Serenity, The Fifth Element) and the genre that makes up 85-90% of my DVD collection action adventure, covering everything, comic book heroes, pirates, space travelers, government agencies, and everything in between. I love it all!  

The hopefully obvious point I’m making is that movies are a way to transport ourselves to another place and time. It’s probably the closest I’ll ever be to traveling through time and space… Maybe that’s why I love it so much.

Movies are the amazing product that comes from a massive collaboration. Screenwriters, directors, producers, actors, costumers, makeup artists, set designers, the list goes on and on. All these people working toward one goal, the director's goal that is. That’s a lot of people and things to manage but man is it worth it! Don’t get me wrong, not every movie is a winner. But we aren’t really talking about any one movie today. It’s all about the Cinema! Them Moving Pictures! And boy do I love them! That’s right what can I say,  I’m a FAN ;D

Originals and Prompts

Hello and welcome back to Fiction Friday! If it’s your first time thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy Sci Fi, Oh My! I wanted to take a quick moment to explain how some Fiction Fridays are going to be coming into existence. Coming up with a new and interesting story every week is very difficult. My hat goes off to anyone that can do that for a long period of time without the help of writing prompts. The amount of time it's been taking me to come up with new short stories has been so much, I’m falling behind schedule on my manuscript. (Gasp!) So now along with my original short stories I will also be using writing prompts. I’ll make sure to distinguish when a prompt is used for a story. Where are my prompts coming from? Well, my super amazing friend got me this cool book. “Complete The Story”

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At the beginning of each page is a writing prompt to work from. My challenge, within the challenge will be seeing how I can work the sci-fi and fantasy angle. I feel it’s important to be able to work crazy technology and mythology into everyday life, don’t you? Yep, I thought so. 

Have a great weekend!

The POV Conundrum

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The POV Conundrum

When I started my manuscript it was in a usual First Person Perspective. I found it easy to capture my main character's voice, and the way she perceived situations. My favorite part was how easy it was to show her sense of humor. I have read countless articles and blog posts all about the different kinds of writing perspectives or types of POV which stands for Point of View. There are many different styles but let's really just talk about the major two. First person, (the main character tells you the story) and Third person (an omnipresent narrator tells the story).

A lot of articles said that many writers find the first person POV easiest to write and I can see why. You just pretend you're telling a story that once happened to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not saying writing in first person is easy. All writing has its rough patches, I’m just telling you what I’ve experienced. Doesn't mean that it’s always that way or that it won't be different for you.  (Little disclaimer for ya there.) It’s said that a common problem with the first person POV is you might, accidentally, end up writing yourself instead of your character. Although I feel like every character you write will have a bit of yourself in them, I never really felt my character was me. My heroine is much more extroverted, educated and far more clever.

I was loving the first person writing style. Then the dark cloud of reality settled in over my writing desk.  

As my story progressed and I discovered where I was taking my character and her companions things got complicated. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to give the reader all the information I wanted them to have by only telling the tale through my main character's eyes. That's when I started the POV research. After the information had it’s say it was clear to me I needed to change my manuscripts POV. Third person it is! That rain cloud over my desk started to pour!

In fact, I’m almost done with the conversion and I still don’t see that cloud letting up. I’m getting the results I want in some areas and falling short in others. I miss how easy it was to let my character do all my leg work. She who was much funnier and smarter than I, had been doing a fine job and now that I had taken over, it was all feeling a bit forced. I’m sure all writers second guess themselves, but I wish I would stop. I have to force myself to look at my outline and repeat how it would never work in first person, or more accurately, it just won't be as good. I need that omnipresent voice to pull my story to where I need it to go, instead of only where my heroine is going.  I have many moments I think about switching back to first person then I mentally slap myself across the face and say “No Jamie! Don’t you dare!”  Then I whine something like, “How will they know how funny she is if I can’t put in every little thought that runs through her head?” Oh boy. I guess you’ll just have to work for it, Jamie. Work on your dialog. Make her say it out loud, sing for your supper!  And the whiney writer in me says, “Fine!”, puts her head down and goes back to her laptop. Get back to work!

The Meeting in the Garden

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The Meeting in the Garden

By Jamie Burns

“Who are you?” Her voice was steady and her tone didn’t really seem to be asking a question.

They stood facing each other several yards apart in the open space of the garden. Cherry blossoms surrounding them, and the light of the sunrise filling the garden.

“You know.” The tall man said back to her. His eyes were soft and kind, they seemed to be filled with sympathy. He only looks a few years older than her and his short, slightly messy, sandy brown hair brought a boyish quality to his face. He wore a light brown sweater that reminded her of her grandfather. He had a relaxed posture that put her at ease. The hairs that had been standing on the back of her neck lay back down.

“You’re not as scary as I would have expected.” She told him.

He smiled at her.

“I get that pretty often.”

“I’m glad you’re not, scary.” She had wrapped her arms around herself and looked around the garden. Almost like she was looking for someone else, or maybe even an exit. Then her eyes were back on him, waiting. He took a step towards her and she instinctively stepped back. He stopped, and for a split second he looked hurt, then the kindness returned.

“I’m sorry.” She said.

“You don’t have to be sorry. It’s a natural tendency for people to want to keep their distance.”

“Why are you here?” She said.

“You know the answer to that too.”

“I mean, what happened?”

“It was a blood clot.” He looked down at his hands that were laced together.

A long silence stretched between them. Her face now blank, she held herself more tightly.

“We don’t have to leave right now. I mean you can have a few minutes, if you want.” He offered.

She slowly walked over to a nearby bench, sat down and folded her hands in her lap. After a moment, once he thought she seemed settled he walked over and sat beside her. She was a very slight girl. Her smallness accentuated by her oversize gray knit sweater. Even with her thick brown hair swept into it’s high bun it only hit him at the shoulder.

“Why do you look familiar?” She asked without looking at him.

“Because, you’ve seen me once before. Right before your great grandmother passed away.”

She looked over now, trying to recall the distant memory, but it was far out of reach.

“Are you always… not scary?”

He smiled again “No, I’m not always, not scary.”

“But to me?”

“You don’t deserve scary. I’m only scary to those who I feel deserve it. Really I’m usually not.”

“I’m not sure if that makes me relieved, or terrified.” Now even a tiny hint of a smile peeked at her lips. “Is there any way you would let me stay?”

“I don’t really choose the who and when. I’m more like a messenger.”

“Is there someone else I can talk to?” She asked timidly.

This made him chuckle. “You want to talk to my boss?”

“Do people not do that? They don’t ask for, more time?”

He slowly reached out and placed his hand on top of hers. As he did, something that felt like acceptance came over her. “The decision has been made.” he said.

She was feeling more and more accepting of this fact as they sat in silence. Till she was feeling almost like herself again.

“How long have you been doing this?” She asked.

He was surprised she was still asking about him. Most people by this point, or way before were reduced to a sad, blubbering heap of sorrow.

“I have only ever done this. Thousands of years.”

“How? I mean… it must be awful. Is it lonely? Do you have anyone?” Her questions tumbled out. And she looked over at him wondering if he would answer. He wouldn’t.

“We should go. Are you ready?” He asked as he stood.

She looked around the garden one last time. “I suppose.” She stood. Then she surprised him by taking his hand and lacing her fingers with his. And she and Death departed the world of man together.

 

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