Thursday, October 15, 2015

How About Some Fiction?

So I opened up The Last Stand and started reading. And kept reading. Then started thinking, "How can I get rid of all this?" Like in PB+J there are great moments that I think are well written but I won't be using in the new 1 P.O.V. novella (maybe) length Last Stand. I think they should be read by someone other than me, after all I wrote a whole new world and characters, it's not their fault that I can't sustain a novel.

Then, today while looking for some blog fodder, I found I have a bunch of flash fiction type pieces and short stories I'd forgotten about, and realized that I have this amazing publishing platform where I can put it all. Then I was like "Duh, duumy!" You're suppose to be building you author platform (wait, should I be saying that?) and I'm not doing a great job with my sparkling wit and incredible blog writing (let's face it, these things are mostly rambles and I barely know what I'm talking about in the first place, when I even post them). I have to share my fiction to gather an audience,y'all need something to read to be readers. So, here, read something. Enjoy! :D

An excerpt from The Last Stand (at Springfield Mall)
    This is mostly a first draft, barely edited, definitely not revised, and sort of near the end of the action. Most of these characters don't exist outside of this chapter or are only mentioned in passing and this section will definitely be deleted and never appear anywhere else again. But it's all still mine, so don't steal it, ;P, but also don't judge it too harshly.

The new America*

Dodge and Junior sat in the sand, reenergizing with snacks and water. The scout bikes were standing against the kick stands on the shoulder of the road. On either side of them rested their bike helmets and gloves, getting full of sand, or more full of sand than they already were. Dodge was use to the constant grit between the gloves and his skin, beneath his fingernails, and working it’s way beneath his shemagh into his hair, but Junior found it increasingly obnoxious, she was more use to machine grease and engine grime than the dusty, gritty feeling of sand. They both had their head scarves half down in order to eat but they kept their iSuns on, a modified lite version of the iSpecs it kept the sun from glaring in their eyes while also increasing their vision distance, but without the full info display and analysis of the original iSpecs.

Looks like Dodge, only lose the cap*

Both kids were jumpy, excited and anxious. How was the battle going? Would they get to fight when they got home? Had they already won the battle? And more quietly in the background of that: Are their parents and friends ok?

“Puma, you think we can get back in time for a piece of the fighting?” Dodge’s question was quiet, like he didn’t really want to fight even though the wording indicated he did. But Dodge was kind of a quiet, soft spoken guy anyway. There were really only two types of scavs, the verbose ones like Thames and the quiet, river deep ones like Dodge.

“Hard to say,” Junior replied. Puma was her chosen name but most people older than her called her Junior, short for Jerry Rigged Junior, because she regularly followed in her father’s footsteps, working with her hands and fixing up trucks, guns, and anything else she could put a wrench to. But her friends and classmates called her Puma or Puma Dolce, her chosen name. Only her father called her her real name, Swan or Swan Ebonee Akinabe, if she was in trouble. On any other day she would be just as jovial and boisterous as her father but the current state of affairs made her more tight-lipped. She kept looking all around her, furtively, while eating her manu’d rations.

She had never actually left the colony before and although she’d been repeatedly told that bots haven’t been spotted this far out in years, she was still nervous. After all, a bot hadn’t been past the perimeter of the colony in years either and yet that had happened just last night.

It had been a few years since Dodge had been on the back of scout bike and only a day since he’d been on this road driving away from the F'burg guard shack rather than toward it. Yet, it was still difficult to adjust to the actions he’d known all his life. He was intimate with the endless silence of the desert under the usual circumstances but now it seemed too silent and too still. He wanted to make conversation to fill it up but he didn’t know what to say. He thought of Thames' usual conversation, how he kept the silence at bay with debates and jokes, and Seine was always scolding him. He didn’t know if that’s why they did it but maybe it helped. Thames' favorite topics, war with the bots, the uselessness of bots, and what they should do with the bots once the war they should be fighting was done, all seemed like inappropriate topics today. And mundane topics seemed equally inappropriate given that everything they had known previously had changed in less than 12 hours. But he thought that at any moment he might actually go insane from all the quiet, so he gave it ago anyway.

“Well, before all this , , , um, last night. . . Were you having fun at the homecoming?” he asked.

Junior had a similar eerie feeling regarding the quiet and decided to pay along with the conversation, even though last night's dance was the furthest thing from her mind. Anyway, it wouldn’t be much longer before they’d finished theirrehydrated sandwiches and all she would have for conversation then would be the roar of a motorbike and whipping of then wind around her helmet.

“You know how it goes, I spent most of the night running drinks either to Daimler or the High Command. The night was just starting to get good, dancing and the like, when the stupid bots ruined it  at all.”

“Heh, yeah fucking bots.” That wasn’t exactly the kind of thing he would say. It was something Thames would say but he liked how it sounded now, like Thames was there. And he’d hoped it would have a slightly shocking affect on Puma since he wasn't much for swearing normally. “Was just about to ask you to dance too.”
“No shitting.”

Junior  blushed slightly or that’s how it appeared to Dodge, without the filters of the iSuns it was probably a full on flush. It was partially true, at least. He had planned to ask her to dance sometime that night but he was working up to it.. He thought Puma was cute and a very skilled mechanic. Other kids their age were starting courtships now, and he thought he should at least try to throw his hat in the ring. Thames had always told him that when it came to making a positive impression on a woman, there was no harm in fudging the truth. The important thing is to win her heart first, he’d say, then the actual truth won’t matter as much. But never lie 100 percent. Lyin is what an auto-pot does. Even the worst of us is better than that, he’d said.  In the end though, he didn't get a chance to dance at all

Junior, all grown up*

And just like that, the conversation was over, lunch was over, and it was time to continue their trip. Under normal circumstances pushing the scout bikes to the top speeds was exhilarating. And truthfully, it still was to an extent. Dodge hadn’t realized he’d missed flying down 95 south like that until he mounted the bike and pealed out of the colony that morning. Junior was exhilarated and more than just a little bit scared. She had test driven the bikes around the colony since before she was tall enough to even mount one on her own. Her father use to pick her up, hold the bike steady while she rev’ed the engine, and let the kickstand go once there was enough momentum to stand on its own. But those little jaunts were nothing compared to the speeds she was doing now. She’d also had her share of wipeouts and did not look forward to having one going over 75 on sandy asphalt.

For Sergeants Red Bull and Visa Platinum the day was like any other. They woke at five am for breakfast and exercises, by seven they were in the guard booth, relieving 1st Lieutenant Danube and Corporal Cadillac Rims, and they expected to spend the next twelve hours shooting the shit, trying not to overheat or lose their minds in the never ending boredom of watching guard over a border that hadn’t seen a conflict in at least 15 years, if not more. Beside the booth was a transport van that ferried guards back and forth when their tours were over or their CO when he traveled for training updates. The Springfield South iSemi sat gathering dust across the street from the booth. This far out minimal communications was possible, so they knew the last of the delayed scav unit to finally return today. Loa, Kea, and Hollywood, had already returned crowding the guards' already small bunks, OnStar was the last to return  and they expected her before noon. The only excitement they could hope to get was if Hollywood spent some hours with them trading jokes or dirty stories, or maybe Loa and Kea telling stories about General Chan.

What they didn’t expect was the roar of scout bikes nearing the booth around 1030 am. Hollywood was with them just then and they were playing a game of dice they had just made up and were continuing to make up as they were playing. It had been Red Bull’s idea but he was some how losing the game of his own invention; so the arrival of Dodge and Puma was a welcomed if unnerving event. Redbull and Visa didn’t recogonize her at first, even after she removed her helmet and shemagh, they hadn’t seen her in a couple of years since they’d last been at the colony, it wasn’t until she greeted them that they recognized her at all. Puma’s gravelly voice hadn’t changed a bit.

“Hey Red, Visa,” she said jovially, casually at first before switching to something more formal and urgent, a tone that more befit the situation. “We bring an important message for 2nd Lieutenant Sehgal. Where is he?”
“His in his bunk,” Red Bull replied.
All three guys just stared at her. Nothing like this had happened before. They’d never had a runner, they’d never received a message at all unless it was from a scheduled scav unit.
“This is urgent, sargeant. Go get him,” Dodge commanded, though he was a lower rank, but someone needed to do something asap.
The order snapped the three from their shock. “Yessir,” Red Bull responded, then rushed in the direction of the gaurd bunk.

Red Bull*

The small bunk building was maybe 100 yards from road. The building wasn’t visible as it was on the other side of a dune and the same color of the sand. Generally, they walked around the side of the building to the front door but in the emergency and excitement of Junior and Dodge’s arrival Red Bull ran across the shifting sand, slid across the roof, and grabbed the edge with his hand twisting and landing hard in front of the door, an exuberant maneuver they sometimes did when him and Visa would race to their bunk after a shift, just for entertainment.

Their accommodations were modest, improvised from an old weigh station building. There was a shower/bathroom/locker room area, a small mess with two hot plates, one room with with three bunk beds and a separate room that doubled as a bunk and office for their commanding officer, 2nd Lieutenant Danube Seghal. The front door opened right into the mess hall where Kea, Loa, and Cadillac were finishing a meal and having conversation.

Kea and Loa were twins and almost no one could tell them apart and as they spent most of their time away from the colony on scavenge missions, no one even tried. The trio were talking about the upcoming refreshers, if they will have another homecoming when their unit returned even though it was short on the heels of the other Springfield South scav's return, and what will Cadillac do when her guard tour ended. Though for her part Cadillac’s participation was minimal as she was struggling to stay awake after her shift. She didn’t know what she would do when she got back home because she couldn’t think much past her extreme desire to be in bed. Red Bull slamming the door wide open and rushing in snapped her out of the semi-consciousness.

“Where’s LT?” He asked to no one in particular. The difference in lighting from inside to outside was too great he literally couldn’t see who was sitting there much less how many.

“In his office. Why?” she asked to no reply as Red Bull had already run down the hall and was knocking loud and fast on the closed door.

Lieutenant Danube Sehgal was at his desk making the day’s log when interrupted by Redbull’s knocking. He was looking forward to sleep, as he did every morning and did not appreciate the interruption. What it could be, other than a delaying factor did not occur to him. “What the hell do you want?”

“There’s  message for you. An urgent message. From the colony. Sir.” They were usually very casual so far away from the military command but the entire incident was impressing formality upon Red Bull and his halting speech was attempting to relay that to everyone, though he had a feeling it was just coming off as over-excited, fair enough as he he was that as well.

Back in the mess hall they could easily here the exchange, there was no such thing as privacy on a guard posting. They all rushed out to the guard hut by the time Red Bull and Danube made their way out to the door. Danube had taken an extra minute to put his fatigue jacket back on and button it up. He didn’t know what the message was or who was delivering it but he knew it was a serious event, unprecedented during his station there. He’d only heard of it happening one time, when General Cahn fell in battle.

Awkward silence fell while they waited for  Red Bull and Danube. No one looked at each other. They were shortly joined by Hollywood, Kea, Loa, and Cadillac. After brief greetings, it was quiet again. They looked in different directions but since there was nothing but sand dunes for miles they didn’t really look at anything, which just heightened the tension as they all knew that each of them were looking at nothing and they all knew that they knew. They were all relieved when Danube and Red Bull appeared.

Dodge and Junior stood at atention and saluted. “Lieutenant Sehgl,” Dodge said. “Lieutenant General Fedorov sends news.”
“Continue, um, Corproal Dodge,” he wasn’t use to seeing the young teen as rank and file. Only yesterday he was just young another scav passthing through and an extra body cramping up their living quarters.

Dodge read the formal message from a tablet he had tucked inside his cycle jacket. “At 0200 hours Auto-Pot Franklin sent a messenger-bot to issue a declaration of war. Either the colony surrendered within 24 hours or the population would be taken by force and destroyed.”

The small gathering in the middle of the ancient highway looked at each other with incredulity, although the majority of them were young, none of them thought such a thing would or could happen in their lifetime. No matter what strategy they had wanted to take before, either direct attack or relocation, they were all use to the current regime, the action of no action, the stasis of detente. They could barely imagine an actual war.

“Lieutenant General Fedorov responded in the following speech.”

Daimler selected the audio file and a recording of Lieutenant General Fedorov’s speech that morning played over the iPad’s speaker. He resumed with his message when the recording was over.

“Currently your orders remain, to stand guard at the furthest edges of our territory in case of secondary or sneak attack from the bots.  The official orders are on the encrypted memstick.”

Junior handed Sehgal the High Command memstick.

“If the Springfield South scav unit should return from their scavenge they are ordered to return directly to the colony.”

Junior handed another memstick to either Loa or Kea.

“We are to remain here for 30 minutes while you confirm your orders and compose a return message.”

“That will be fine, Corporal,” Danube’s statement and tone gave absolutely no indication of the anxiety that shot through his body. He turned and went back to the bunker, relieved to have his own room for just a place where he could be alone. Muana Kea, who was slightly older, by a full three minutes, and usually took command when the two brothers were really the same rank, took the memstick and went to the iSemi cab to confirm their own orders and Loa .
That left the youngsters to their own devices, which at this moment was mostly being surprised. For once in their young lives, Dodge and Junior were the ones who had the most experience, at least in this matter because they had been there, at the colony, when the bot actually showed up, though admittedly they hadn’t seen the bot, the rest of them didn’t have to know that. but they hadd seen Federov’s speech in person, AND they’d been given an important mission that involved racing at top speeds on motorbikes up and down the highway. They recounted their versions of the story playing up the parts they knew first hand and glossing over the parts the didn’t while Red, Visa, Cadillac, and Hollywood interjected things like “Just let those stinkin’ bots try to come out this way!” and “Can’t wait to get back to the colony and get my fist in that fight!”

An Early Soldier Drone, the newest version, the one they will fighting is even tougher, better armed, and relentless* 

Lieutenant Sehgal barely looked at the orders on his tablet screen. It was only a formality after all. He scanned them to make sure there wasn’t a secret or classified order, then his eyes stopped paying attention while his mind ran wild. He had fought at barely 18 under General Chan a decade ago and never really recovered. He had joined the military wanting to be a soldier in the regular army. Maybe a sniper like Colonel Balewa or an interloper like Colonel Kimura, something full of action , danger, and fighting. He had never faced combat before the last attack, not even the scrimmages they had back then. The Last Attack was his first action and it was bloodier than anyone had faced before, much less a rookie on his first battlefield. Once the colony was back on it’s feet again, he put in immediately for a guard position. Someplace where he didn’t have to see the Auto-pound or be remind of violence just by looking at Lieutenant General Fedorov’s face everyday. He did not relish going back on the battlefield again. The orders to stand guard in the small shack that'd become his home was a relief, the lack of additional orders, was a double relief.

Loa and Kea, in a rare occurrence, were of two minds about the whole situation. They had both also fought with General Chan but they’d fought more battles than Sehgal and the Lsat Attack hadn’t been so jarring to them. Kea liked the idea of going to war again, having a chance to distinguish himself from his brother. On the other hand, Loa had become a type of pacifist after the Last Attack. He didn’t believe in making peace with the Bots necessarily but he’d prefer a relocation or negotion solution to war. But he would fight, because he knew Kea ready to rush the trenches headlong at the soldier-drones, and he wasn't about to let him go alone.

By the time the battle was getting started back at the colony, Dodge and Junior were getting back on the road, pushing their bikes further than before to make sure they got a piece of the action, Onstar, Hollywood, and the twins were loading the last of the supplies onto the iSemi, also anxious to get back to the colony and help defend their home, both Danube and Cadillac were finally in bed but neither found sleep easy to achieve, and Red Bull and Visa were back in their booth, playing at dice again and sharing every story they’d ever heard about the Last Attack.

Leave a comment,  or follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and let me know what you think! ;)

 *All these pictures were found on Pinterest. The links to their sources and original websites can be found here, but most of the time they link back to a tumbler, beyond that I do not know the original creator. But it wasn't me and I don't claim to own any of the rights or authorship. I'm just borrwing them to break up blocks of text.