Speculative Fiction Prompt

The Appointment – TMM5

Yet another take on Diana’s Speculative Fantasy Prompt for May, at “Myths of the Mirror.

Andrew Millbourne is now at the planet Technos, have been told about the Technosian’s history, why they wear metal implants, and the importance of that.
Now there is something he has to do.


The Mechanical Man 5 – The appointment

Early the next morning, Andrew Millbourne rushes through a heavy breakfast and then calls for an Uber. He gives the driver the presentation card with the unpronounceable address and asks him to take him there as quick as possible. He has an appointment at 8 AM. The driver reads the card and then give Andrew a huge smile.
”So! It’s time to get fringed now?” he says. ”Welcome to the family!”
Andrew mutters a ’Thank you’.
”Nervous?”
The driver doesn’t seem to have any implants at all, but when Andrew looks a bit closer at him, he realises the driver is not human at all. He is 100 % robot.
”Yes. I’m lucky, ain’t I?” The driver says a bit toneless. ”Not even one piece of human flesh here. Nopidopi. Never get a cold that way.”
He leans towards Andrew and winks with his right eye.
”I’ll tell you a secret,” he says in a small voice. ” There are other viruses and there is such a virus going on right now, that causes us to suddenly just shut down.”
Andrew takes a deep breath and grasps the armrests tightly.
”Oh, don’t you worry,” the driver says. ”I feel fine! Haven’t had a virus in my entire life.”
Andrew swallows and grasps even harder around the armrests.
”How old are you?” he asks.
”Oh, I’ll be three months on Friday. My forerunner suddenly shut down, so they had to put me together in a hurry.”
”Y…you wouldn’t mind stop here and let me off….”
”Oh, we are at your destination in just a few seconds. All in one piece.”
’That’s just what I’m afraid of… ” Andrew thought.

At that moment the car stops, and three seconds later Andrew stands at the sidewalk on shaky legs.

”You have eaten breakfast?”
An enormous woman with bright golden metal plates all over her face stares intensely at Andrew over the counter. Her voice timbres all over the clinic and the awaiting people lift there heads in curiosity.
“Don’t you know you mustn’t eat before surgery?”
”I’m sorry! I didn’t know!”
”The most common excuse ever,” the woman says. Her eyes narrow. ”Suit yourself. If you puke – it’s your problem and you deal with it.”
There is a vast quietness for a long time while the woman takes down notes on the screen. So long, that in fact it seems she is writing a novel. Andrew is drenched with sweat.
”So! What kind of implants are we talking about?” she finally says.
”I don’t know! What do you recommend?”
”Hm,” she mutters while she inspects him over her fancy eyeglasses. ”I would suggest an eye-implant first of all. That will enhance your eyesight immensely. Works as a camera in fact, and you can instantly send images and also short videos directly to your computer system.”
She continuous to inspect him.
“You appear to be bit hollow.” She pokes him in the chest with her index finger. Her nails are painted green, Andrew notices when he unwillingly burps.
The woman opens her eyes wide.
”Hmm… breakfast it was…”
Without stop looking at Andrew, she fumbles in a drawer beneath her and then presents a couple of brochures to him. Finally, she let her eyes go off Andrew and instead points at the pictures in front of them.
”I would recommend that ribcage for your chest. It’s really a lady magnet. Add to that this beautiful arm extension. You can test one of each, to begin with, and later add them to the other side as well. Right-handed?”
Andrew nods. He has absolutely no idea what to say. His throat is desert dry anyway.
”On the right side then! And I promise you will find that arm extension remarkable. It has so many practical tools. You will be a real Mr Gadget! Here you have the manual…” – she puts a huge pile of leaflets in his hand – ”… and now let’s go! The surgeon is waiting!”

Eight hours later Andrew is helped into his hotel room by the same driver who had taken him to the clinic.
”Oh, looking good!” he says. ”Have you got the eyes too?”
Andrew has only strength for a tiny nod. He is aching all over, can’t really see anything, is totally exhausted, and just wants to be left alone. The driver gently pats him on his left shoulder and says: ”Oh, you’ll soon be just fine.” Then he leaves.

Andrew manages to enter the bathroom. He opens his eye as widely as he can. Everything around him is razor blade sharp and glittering.
There and then he finally pukes.

 


To the other parts in order, can also be found in the menu.

Planned part:

  • 9.) (If the end isn’t good, it isn’t the end…)

 

 

Andrew Millbourne’s big secret -TMM2

The inspiration image

Obviously I got a bit carried away the other day, when I wrote “Being another you”. Andrew Millbourne keeps on knocking on my mind, and wants his story to be told. So here is the continuing – or rather the “Pre-story”. And of course it’s still inspired by Diana’s Speculative Fiction Prompt at “The Myths of the Mirror”


The Mechanical Man 2 – Andrew Millbourne’s big secret

Andrew Millbourne has a secret. He isn’t quite as human as he seems to be and claims he is. Oh, he was born human 35 years earlier on the planet Earth, all right. And in his heart and soul, he is still totally human. It’s just that his body has undergone some changes during the last decade.

Already as a child, he was not only intelligent but also very technically skilled. So it didn’t come as a surprise, that he after finishing University chose to study to be a Technical Engineer. He also took extra classes in Mathematics, Astrophysics, IT and Computer programming.

Andrew had hardly got around to finish his education and get his diplomas, when this huge establishment had been noticed about his achievements and wanted to hire him. He was offered a huge salary, and a lot of various benefits, but he had to move away from home.

He said yes without hesitating even a second. For one thing, he was thrilled about the job offer and could hardly wait for the day he was about to begin. He had also for a long time wanted to move away from his parent’s house, but so far he hadn’t been able to do so.
He couldn’t stand their insolent remarks any longer. Especially his father was abasing him. ’Andrew has become so posh and haughty,’ he snarled at him. And ’now he would only look down on his struggling parents’, the father continued, and kept on coming with demeaning remarks as often as he had the opportunity.

Andrew was sick and tired of all that. Was it really that bad to get a good education? Yes! Due to his father, it was. Due to his father, a son should follow in his father’s footprints and thus honour him. In this case, Andrew should therefore rather stay on the small family farm, marry, raise a family of his own, and then take care of his parents at their old age; rather than ’go around with a stiff-upper-lip because he considers himself superior to us’.
That’s what his father thought, but Andrew had a totally different opinion of what to do with his life.
So he left!

If he had thought he only had to move to one of the bigger cities on Earth, he soon realised – so was not the case. He had fancied London or New York, or somewhere in Asia. Tokyo or Hongkong, maybe. But soon enough he realised he was about to move much further away.

The journey took him to a small but highly, technologically developed planet called Technos in the Suntarian system.
He had never before heard of neither that planet nor that system.

”Technos? That’s only four lightyears away,” said a prudent space ship hostess while the company’s representatives kept on talking and laughing behind Andrew.
”Four years?”
”Oh! You’ll be sleeping all the time. Don’t worry about that.”
”FOUR YEARS?”
”I said four lightyears AWAY. The travel won’t take that long.”
”Four… Years…”
”Try a year. The Ultra-Ultra-ship is unfortunately unavailable now. Otherwise, it would only had taken a month. Some trouble with the fuel-system or something… sorry! You don’t have to be asleep all the time, though. You can read books and watch movies. But I would recommend you to take the sleeping pill. It will make this whole thing so much easier for you.”
F o u r …… y e a r s ……. …….
”Hey! Mister! Can I get you a glass of water or something?”

That was ten years ago, and he had landed right on time after watching an endless amount of movies and TV-series, reading hundreds of books, eating thousands of dreadful meals and with thousands of hours behind him with one single thought: ”What have I gotten myself into?”

All the representatives had chosen the sleep, and not until the day before landing, Andrew began to meet them in the corridors. They looked weary as if they all had a severe hangover. The next day though, they all seemed to have recovered, but Andrew heard no laughter and they were not even talking to each other, other than some occasional remarks.


To the other parts in order, can also be found in the menu.

Planned part:

  • 9.) (If the end isn’t good, it isn’t the end…)

Being another you – TMM1

It’s May, finally, and lovely Diana at “Myths of the Mirror” has launched a new Speculative Fiction Prompt – #writingprompt – and this is my take!


The Mechanical Man 1 – Being another you!

The inspiration image – from Pixabay, image by Brigitte Werner

Over the years he had lived here, he had always struggled with love and intimacy. No wonder. Every woman he met either shrugged of disgust or treated him like dirt. He had got used to that! He knew he wasn’t much to look at, he was the meek, silent type, and he wasn’t rich. The fact that he was a kind, honest and reliable young man, didn’t seem to be enough.

After the last disappointing blind date, he decided to give up. Furthermore, he also decided to travel back home. Here, in this city, on this planet, he finally had to admit – he didn’t belong. He was too different.

With a deep sigh, he actually didn’t like changes very much, he went to the spaceport to buy a no return ticket home. Earlier that day he had resigned from his job. His boss had seemed relieved, he had noticed. He had also sold his apartment and most of his belongings. His decision was final, and he wanted to travel light.

On his way through the terminal, he suddenly senses that someone is watching him. He tries to pretend like nothing and keeps on walking towards the ticket counter. He gets a bit uneasy, though, and stumbles slightly.
”Can I help you?” a soft female voice says.
He turns around and sees the most gorgeous woman he has ever seen.
”I beg your pardon,” he says.
”I’m sorry if I intrude, but I saw you stumbled over there.”
’Pity, this time’, he thinks and a flicker of sorrow dances tango in his heart. Out loud he says: ”Oh, it was nothing. Just the shoe-lace.”
The woman looks down at his loafers and smiles. But it is a kind smile, he notices.
”I’ve seen you before,” she says.
”Everyone has seen me before,” he mutters.
”Probably,” she smiles. ”I’m Kaila, by the way. What’s your name?”

He can’t even imagine why she would bother to be interested in his name or in anything of his. But polite and well brought up as he is, he answers shortly, ”Millbourne, Andrew Millbourne, nice to meet you.”
He doesn’t know whether he actually thinks it is nice or not, but old habits are old habits, and it seems to be something nice about this after all. He tries to shake that good feeling off his chest but doesn’t succeed.

”So hello, ‘Millbourne, Andrew Millbourne’. Nice to meet you too! Can I call you Andy?” Her smile is big, warm and generous, and Andy – he accepts Andy with a nod – experiences some kind of warmth inside. The small thought that she might had been mocking him, melts away as quickly as butter on a sun-flooded plate.
”What are you doing here?” she continues. ”Going somewhere?”
”I’m going home.” Dark clouds enter his mind.
”Where is that, your home?”
”On Earth.”
”Ah! Earth! I know about Earth, I’ve been there!”

During this little chat, she has managed to move him away from the ticket counter to the spaceport cafeteria, and without any further ado, she orders two big coffees in glasses, Toffee-Taste with whipped cream on the top, and two long straws in each.
”That’s my favorite,” she says. ”How about you?”
”How about me, what?”
”Toffee-tasting coffee?”
”Oh, that! That’s okay.”
She laughs, and in Andy’s ears, it sounds like ocean waves at the beach, seagulls and warm cuddly sand. He sighs deeply and his shoulders slack off.
”So Andy! Where are you going, and why?”
Her voice reminds him of the rippling brook in the wood back home. He closes his eyes for a couple of seconds, sighs, this time even deeper, and then opens them again.
”I’m going home to my parents since I don’t fit in here.”
”You don’t fit in here, you say. Do you fit in at your parents?”

He looks down at the table. He can’t understand this. Why is she bothering him with all these personal questions, and why is it so impossible for him to say ’Thank you’ and ’Good Bye’ and then leave? But he can’t deny he feels more relaxed now, here, at this coffee table, with her, this strange woman, than he has been in a very long time.
”No,” he admits. ”I don’t. But in another way. Not like this.” He stretches out his arms and looks at the people around them.
”The appearance, you mean. You don’t look like them.”
He shakes his head. No, obviously not.

”Look at me!” she says.
He raises his head and before his very eyes, she begins to change. In like a smooth blur, her appearance turns into his. Not into him precisely, but into a female of his sort, with his kind of appearance! Then she turns back again, back to look like – them.
”What you just saw, is the real me.”
”Di… d..d..d..did…”
”Yes, I changed, but they didn’t see it. Only you.”
”M…m..m…m….mag…”
”Yes, magic. I know magic. I know a lot of different things. And I can help you to look the same as – them.” She nods toward the ever-growing crowd. ”If you want to, or….” .
”Or what?” He is so tempted to look like all the others that he actually believes her.
”Or! We can go somewhere together, and be ourselves…”
”But….”
”Shush. I’ll ask you something. But before you answer, consider deeply what to choose. Do you, deep inside you, really want to look like – them?”

She looks deep into his eyes, and calmly awaits his answer, while he doesn’t need to look around or think even for a second.
”Where are we going?” he says eagerly.
”I know a very nice place. The planet is a bit rough, mostly hot, some deserts, two suns – and I have friends there. By the way! Among others, there is this special girl I want you to meet. She is called Jaycee…

In peaceful silence, they finish their coffee, then rise and leave the spaceport. Behind them resonates the murmur of mechanical voices, and the metallic clinks, clanks, and jingles from metal against metal.

”Cybernetics!” Kaila scornfully snorts while they are pacing towards her vehicle. ”Sometimes these Cyborg civilizations really go too far.”


To the other parts in order, can also be found in the menu.

Planned part:

  • 9.) (If the end isn’t good, it isn’t the end…)

It’s almost silly

Ninny Rhino – the Mini WriMo – day 26

I’m still organizing those files, between the “must do’s”. Not much left now. Only the worst ones are still waiting for me to take care of them. The novels with the most files and folders are lying there grinning at me.

I dread starting to go through that massive slave-work.

Also, all of my files with saved blog posts are left. Couldn’t upload them to Scrivener. Probably due to all images. At that time, I just copied the posts as they were and pasted them into word documents.

So I’ll have to:
1). Throw away all copies!
2). Delete all images.
3). Turn all the posts into chronological orders.

Must be at least 1000-1500 posts in those files, if that’s enough, and not counting the copies. And then all the copies of the files… and copies of copies…

But I let my old health-and-food-blog go down the drain!

Goodness, gracious! How much I must have written during those years between 2006 and 2012! … or something.
(There are a few texts of later dates.)

It was fun checking out my work, though. Found myself reading here and reading there. Found idéas, notes, short drafts et cetera, which I had almost forgotten about.

Besides “The Solar Eclipse”, I have other Fantasy drafts, and after mixing some of those shorter texts (idéas, notes) with already existing drafts, I might have some kind of openings for at least two novels. Maybe three.
(Maybe more? My first novel started with a sentence I overheard one day. A sentence with three words only… and a “triptych” I wrote – three short stories that go together – began with a surname I once saw in an elevator…)

Do I have material for these? And imagination and inspiration enough to continue writing? Well! Let’s see! I’ve better go inside and ask my Muse.

“Do you think…
“Yes!” she immediately interrupts me. (Or if it is a he… or an androgyne… or my guardian angel… or my higher self… whoever…)

Apropos! I also found a short story I wrote fairly recently, in 2015 I think, with a Muse as the main character. It’s a funny story. A funny Muse. A male Muse. My Muse. (Okay! So it is a he, after all.)

There is, without doubt, more work to do with all these files, but I sense I ‘d rather want to start writing again now! Can continue sorting intermittently. There’s just one big question – which of those drafts, beginnings, whatever, should I focus on first? Or is perhaps the newest one, The solar eclipse, the one I now foremost need – actually need –  to keep on wakening me up from the not-writing-fiction-coma?

I must confess, though!

I’m scared.
Happy! Thrilled! But also scared.
It lures me – to start writing again, properly, after so many years with and after the burn-out.
But it also frightens me immensely. Especially if I chose to continue working on The Solar Eclipse
And feel that I should share some results with you. Like a continuing story…

What if I fail???
What if I drop out???

Or is sharing with you, just what I need?
A little pressure to achieve… at least something?

My mistake!

And I started to think. (Better late than never…)

This is a solar eclipse, not a lunar eclipse!

Wrongly I wrote The Lunar Eclipse in a previous post. I guess the sentence “Overhead is a huge moon eclipsing the sun” made me think in the wrong direction. I, who usually think way too much, maybe didn’t even think at all this time. Probably also in combination with the fact that English isn’t my first language.
Ergo! I misinterpreted “moon eclipsing the sun”.

However! I must confess, I liked the "feeling" of "lunar eclipse" better. 
But I can change all that in the draft later... 
I can do anything I want in the draft later... :D

I DO make mistakes! I know. Hopefully, I discover at least most of my mistakes before publishing anything on the blog, and at least the worst ones. But I can’t be sure. Unless anyone tells me. (Please do!)

For example, I often make mistakes when choosing a preposition, but at least with that, Grammarly corrects me. Anyway, I hope so, I don’t always agree with its suggestions. (Especially not when it’s about commas. And it’s always nagging me about semicolons.)
Like this sentence in my previous post: “The first story written in this recent upgrade of Scrivener, and a story never written before.” Grammarly wanted me to add a “is” before the word written, and remove the comma after “Scrivener”.  And then, it wanted me to add a “was” before the second “written”. To me – that would change the entire meaning of the sentence into something else.
I didn’t agree. I think these suggestions make the sentence really ugly! Am I right or am I right? What do you think?
“The first story is written in this recent upgrade of Scrivener and a story never was written before.”
No! I would never, ever, even consider publishing a sentence as clumsy and wrong as this one!

THIS is a Lunar Eclipse! A full one.

Grammarly, however, can’t discover the wrongness in writing Lunar instead of Solar, since it isn’t wrong per see. Grammatically speaking. It could have been either or! But Grammarly is a machine, and can’t see images and draw conclusions from that.

So now I have to correct my mistakes, both in the previous post and in the draft I have in Scrivener. If I ever succeed in writing a novel or short story solely in English, I surely would need some alive person, to read the manuscript in search of mistakes in grammar, spelling and bad choices of words. Well, spelling is probably the least problem. Spelling has always been a strong side of mine, both in Swedish and in English.
But, who knows?

And this is, as said before, a full Solar eclipse.

The Solar Eclipse

Ninny Rhino – the Mini WriMo – day 16

Lovely Diana Wallace Peach at Myths of the Mirror, has these Speculative Fiction Prompts once a month. I got tempted to join, and here is my contribution for March!

This is the first time ever, I write a story in a language other than my native one. I aimed for a short, short story, but got caught. It rather seems like a beginning of something!
– So, now let’s see how it goes! 

The Solar Eclipse

I wake up shivering immensely. Still with my eyes closed, I lay my hand over my hearts. They are both beating. A bit vague and uneven, but enough to ensure me I’m still alive. I take a deep breath. The air is cold but clean and pleasant.

I open my eyes. Above me linger stars on a black background, and a faint light dwells from somewhere beyond. Around me are huge buildings, and I realize I am lying on sand. Icy cold sand. Slowly I rise to my feet. My head is pounding.

Scattered around me lies the transporting device. In thousands of pieces as it seems. No wonder I feel like a huge bruise, but a couple more than usual don’t seem like a big issue. After all, being here, where-ever this ”here” is, is a lot better than…
I don’t let that thought go further.

Where am I? How far have I been journeying? My head fills with thousands of questions. It’s obvious, this isn’t my intended destination. I gaze at the stars but can’t recognize any of the constellations. A wave of dizziness passes through me.

A bit feebly, I walk along the street and soon reach the corner. I turn and once again lift my eyes to the sky. A full solar eclipse, the most fascinating I’ve ever seen, and I can see an entire universe behind. I stay in a maze for a long time.

I need to leave. To find water most of all. But also to find friendly people. This is a huge city, but it’s dead. I realize that. No sounds. No lights. No nothing. The streets are covered with sand and I see dunes that indicate rather fierce storms. I listen and I sniff the air, but nothing tells me a storm is near now. The only thing my senses tell me, is that the city has been dead for a very long time.
Then I turn around and start walking.

After what feels like ages, though my wristwatch tells me it has been just half an hour, I reach the outskirts of the city. In front of my eyes, a desert stretches out in the dusk, like the shadow of a hawk over its prey. Occasional bushes are spotted over the landscape, and I hope some of them hide a water supply. In the faraway horizon a mountain ridge is stretched out like a dead dinosaur. I throw a quick glance back on the city and the awkward solar eclipse. I just can’t understand! Something is wrong, but what?

I’ve lost most of my belongings. In one of my pockets I find a small pen knife carved with my initials. JC. In the other a small box with safety matches. In my backpack there is a carton with biscuits and an empty water bottle, but that’s all. I recall having drunk that water sometime during the flight and never refilled the bottle. Stupid me. There are also a lot of holes in the backpack. Due to the crash, I guess. Not worth the while to be upset over what is. After all, I’m alive and walking.
The odd thing is, the solar eclipse is still there! Exactly the same!

I find a small, almost round and fairly smooth stone, rinse it as thoroughly I can with my t-shirt, and then put it in my mouth. I suck it for a while and my throat doesn’t feel as dry any longer, and I manage to keep on walking. I aim for the largest bush I can see that isn’t too far away. I pray quietly for drinkable water.
Only about ten minutes later I reach the bush, and explore the closest possibilities to find some water. And I’m in luck! After digging away the sand like a dog at a couple of spots, I find moist earth and with the help of my penknife, I dig further down. Sweat is pouring down my forehead, and I can hardly see what I’m doing but I keep on struggling. I just got to get some water.

”What are you doing?”
The harsh voice startles me like nearby lightning in broad daylight.
”Do you think you’re a rabbit or something? You won’t find water there. Not enough anyway.”
In less than a second I’ve been dragged up in the open, and am standing on my own feet, panting and frightened. In front of me stands an old man with wild hair and a bushy beard. He grins at me, and hands over a bottle.
”Drink!” he says hoarsely.
I hesitate for just a few seconds before I drink, and may God forgive me, but this is the fucking best water I’ve ever had.

”You’re a tiny little one”, he says. ”Got a name?”
”JC”, I say reluctantly.”
”Jaycee? Is that supposed to be a name?”
”Well… kind of…”
”Okay, Jaycee. I’m Bill! Just Bill!”
He looks straight into my eyes while grabbing my right hand with both his, and holds it tight for a moment. They are huge, warm and rough.

”SO!” he grunts. ”Who are you, besides a Jaycee. Where do you come from and where are you heading?”
”I… I don’t know.”
”You don’t know who you are?” His eyes burn into mine.
”No no… I know who I am! But I don’t know where I came from… not exactly… there was some kind of accident, and somehow I landed over there. In the city.”
I turn and point backward. The city is no more than a silhouette in the dusk.
”Aha. An accident you say. Maybe it was that explosion I heard earlier today. You’re lucky to be alive then, I must say.”
He pauses for a while, then continuous.
”And you’re heading?”
”I… I don’t know. Just to find…something! Someone!”
I start to cry and I hate myself for it. It’s so girly. I don’t want to be a girl.

He looks at me and then he points at the city.
”It’s dead.”
”I know.”
”I reckon you do… but do you also know that the time is dead?”
I just stare at him. Is he crazy?
”Yes, also the time is dead. It’s that eclipse! It has taken over the city. It’s like a disease that finally kills. And it’s spreading. Did you stay there long?”
”No, I don’t think so.”
”Hope you’re right. Now let’s go.”
”Where?”
”As far away as possible from that city and the Solar Eclipse.”