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Look Back

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One should not face a writer's block with the mentality of bursting through it. I have found in my own experience that a writer's block is usually due to my mind indicating that it has a problem in 'channeling' the story. One reason might be a re-imagining of certain story points. Another reason however is that there is a problem in where you are at in the story, so you need to look back and find out the problem with the 'journey' that prevents the tale from advancing.

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 Outside - Distressing Communications

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TerishD


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PostSubject: Outside - Distressing Communications   October 2nd 2010, 7:47 am

Outside - Story Eighteen
Distressing Communications

Part One

What the hell. Might as well start with me on the rag. It should all explain itself as the story moves along, but I am not going to start at the complete beginning. That would be too heart-breaking. I am going to start here.

Oh, I am Harley. I am assuming that everyone knows to skip the Susan Mae part and only use my last name. Don’t think calling me Susan will have me think of you as family. Yeah, they call me Susan, but I really don’t like it and I seldom talk to them. So, if you call me Susan, don’t expect me to talk to you either.

My boyfriend – ex-boyfriend, doesn’t call me Susan. He could. I would let him, but he likes to have me in a good mood. He thus calls me Harley as well.

Oh, in case you are wondering about me pacing back-and-forth in the hallway before the door to my room, that is where this story starts. The phone call where my boyfriend broke up with me is private, and I am not going to release that video. Do I generally pace out in the hallway? I am glad to state that I never had a reason to find out previously, and I hope to never make it a common sight.

Yes, I was angry. I really wanted to get back at the guy. Being a number of light-years from Heisenberg Point made that rather unlikely, which was probably good since I might have done something illegal. No, I don’t get crazy, but destruction of property does tend to be treated as a crime. That is why I moved out into the hallway, as there was nothing to break out there.

The voice of Naomi can now be heard to ask, “Harley, are you all right?”

My room is not that far from that of Clover and Naomi. Truthfully, our rooms were right across from each other, but were opposite and not just mirror images of each other. That put my door on one end and their door on the other. It increased the impression that we were in different parts of the ship and not packed tightly together. I thus usually encountered the couple moving to and from my room, so did not reply as if they were intruding into my space.

“Theo broke up with me.”

Clover said, “I thought he promised ‘never again’ the last time he did it.”

I stopped to make a retort, then realized that he could talk. Naomi was a new member of our crew, but Clover was present on our last mission. He was not married then, and we were all younger. I won’t say that we made wrong decisions, but we did do things that enabled us to relate to each other in more than just a professional manner. Realizing that I could talk to Clover, instead of pointing a finger at him I had it move to signal him to come to me.

“Naomi, I am stealing your husband for a time.”

She appeared shocked as she replied, “It cannot be long, Harley, as both of you have duty in about an hour.”

“Are you making breakfast?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Go do that. Clover will be coming.”

Naomi did look at us as I pulled her husband into my room, but she did not say anything. Truthfully, that itself told me a lot. I however had to ask Clover the question just to hear his answer.

“Are you and Naomi really getting along well?”

“Yes, we are.”

I did not want to start any ugly rumors with Clover, so went ahead and asked the important question. “How about the sex?”

“We had some good times, Harley, but you always seemed to know when to take me. Naomi gets me in a number of moods, so at times it goes well and sometimes it don’t.”

I boiled those words down to him saying that Naomi does not get him drunk every time. When I grabbed Clover on the last mission, I was mad at my boyfriend and did not want to drink alone. I pitied him, as I expected to get drunk again.

As I said, I wanted to get back at my ex-boyfriend, so assured a certain fact before speaking to Clover further. “You have stock in Avondale, don’t you?”

“Well, YES! If it wasn’t for being a major stockholder in that company, I would never have gotten into space to discover Neosalem.”

“Fire Theo.”

“What? Theo is not a big enough fish for me to bother firing. I gave him the opportunities that you asked for, but he never bit at them. He still works in the network center around Heisenberg handling ship traffic. If I fired him, it would make the media, so I would have to deal with bad publicity as well as pay to send that guy back home. He is doomed right where he is, so I am not going to bother with him.”

Clover was right, and his words calmed me. I suddenly realized that Theo was a loser. The problem was that I had known him almost all my life, so I considered him a safe person to deal with. Also, with him being the loser and me going to become a major winner that would put me in control of the relationship. Opening up to another scared me, especially one who might be more my equal, which is why I wanted to speak to Clover. He had opened himself up to someone that he had barely known that had as strong of a personality as his own. Dealing with a new person in one’s life was however not what Clover asked about.

“I don’t see why Theo would leave you however, because I thought you had told him.”

“What? No. If I would have told, I would have had to explain. I don’t know any of us that can really explain it.”

“No, that is the truth. Okay, so I believe Theo will ever regret what he did. What more could you ask for?”

Truthfully, Clover’s words put me in a good mood, so I asked, “Nothing. Do you want to have sex?”

“Naomi and I did it not that long ago. I need some food. I however believe that Castle would not turn you down.”

I moved to the door to see Clover out as I said, “No, but he takes too long trying to set the mood. I will go to him only if I decide to skip the start of day shift.”

“You can skip the start, but I need you on duty.”

“Oh?”

“If you don’t know then I won’t tell you, but I want you at your desk about five hours into the shift.”

Suddenly I wished that I had been following other developments than my own. “Important?”

“Yeah. Be there.”

I found myself suddenly more curious than angry, so I prepared for my time on duty. Truthfully, I have my own clock. While I am needed at the start of each shift to handle the movement of point pilots, the rest of the time is basically mine if I choose. Of course, if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. I thus tend to be active during day shift. Malcolm does not watch communications that closely. He will listen in to the major frequencies, but does not play around with subtle variations in signals, especially weak ones. That is what I do, and what tends to earn my bonuses. Wondering what Clover thought would occur during the shift, I began my usual routine of starting my day.

As I activated my boards on my desk, Rachel had a message for me saying that she would speak with me if I needed someone. I appreciated Clover for contacting her and not telling Naomi to do the job. Nothing against our medic, but she is the new member of our crew. Rachel would actually know about Theo.

Clover and Castle were usually an interesting, although boring, combination of pilots. Those two were good friends with their own separate interests, so would chat with each other about what they were doing. Clover was generally computer code and Castle was some space engine design problem. Neither were my interests, but at least they kept up a chatter that prevented me from feeling like I needed to sleep.

Strangely, once I had the pilots doing their job, Felix began to speak with Clover about the AI to some wargame. The men got into a couple of those games on the last mission, and it seemed that they were planning to restart the activity. Felix was not the programmer as was Clover, but wargame scripts were their own language that both were about equally proficient at. Castle mumbled comments, although would interject his own questions about methods of increasing the integrity of certain internal parts in a Kert Field engine. It was only a couple of hours into the shift, so a couple of hours from whatever Clover expected to happen, when I received a call from another point pilot.

“Menlo Park, Menlo Park, this is the Tornado.”

Yes, the voice was electronically modified, but I answered with a hope that he would have a topic that I gave a damn about. “This is Harley, Tornado.”

“Yes, Harley, thanks. I am picking up a strange faint tachy signal. I was hoping that you could verify.”

I became worried, but kept my voice even as I took the specifications from whoever was the pilot of the Tornado. While I had some relief that the signal was not in a certain direction, it still bothered me that somebody else, especially one of those damn saucer people, would gain the credit for making the first contact with an alien race. Seeing Thor enter the common room and head to my desk let me know that he was worried as well. I knew my job however, and set my instruments to make the verification.

I listened to weak signal. It did have a strange unearthly piece of static running through it, but the actual speech I could make out. I smiled at Thor as I reported what I heard.

“Tornado, they are speaking Hindi.”

There was a pause, then the electronic voice returned, “Uh, Harley, it is coming from a totally uncharted section of space.”

“Not unusual, as God speaks Hindi. Probably some of his minions, although why they would be speaking about using some long cooled underground lava chamber as a pond for growing fish that they could then catch on a rod and reel is beyond my understanding.”

“I thought God spoke Hawaiian.”

“No. They say that because they believe that they live in Paradise. They don’t, as Heaven does not give people sunburn.”

I expected to hear electronic laughter. That was an eerie sound when the electronics did not simply have it register as static. Instead there was just a period of silence before the voice spoke again.

“So, I did not find anything?”

“No. You found something. That signal is definitely from an unknown source, so you report it. Note that is step two. The first step is to gain verification, which you did by contacting me.”

Outside Control could not pick up the signal. Red Dove could not either. There was a station relatively under us by a couple of dozen lightyears that however did register the signal. While the grand Inside Hubble Array could not pick up the transmission, they were the ones that collected our data, and gave the official recognition.

“Okay, Menlo Park, you are registered as making the…”

“WHOA!” It was not just my voice that spoke, but a number of others also sounded, although I was the one that explained the problem. “I did not make the identification. I just verified.”

The Inside official explained his dilemma, “The problem with the Tornado is that it is not registered.”

Another voice in space spoke before I could, “Amateurs can make reports and gain credit.”

“Okay,” said the official, “then I will need the name of the reporting individual.”

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Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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PostSubject: Part Two   October 7th 2010, 8:05 am

Outside - Story Eighteen
Distressing Communications

Part Two

Space went quiet for a moment, then the electronic voice said, “Can I not simply be identified as the point pilot of the Zephyr. The Zephyr is registered.”

“Not for where you are at. In any event, I don’t have any confirmation from your vessel.”

“Uh… We are flying our own software and instruments, and I am not certain about being able to send what you need.”

I spoke up to say, “Tornado, who is your other point pilot? They would not happen to be flying Old Tommy?”

Even electronically modified, the voice lifted in tone as it said, “Yes.”

“I don’t know what you have done with that boat, but it was an authorized vessel, so should be able to transmit the proper information.”

“Uh, we haven’t done anything to the boat, as we have not purchased it yet.”

I saw Thor nod as I walked the other pilot through the commands to have his boat send the proper set of information to the Inside official. I might not be a pilot, so not really familiar with their boards, but I knew enough about communications that I could tell the guy what to look for. Others in space however did know the computer and software, so other voices quickly provided what details I could not. The Inside official verified that he received the data, although then did the very thing that I suspected he would do.

“Okay, now, I need a name to put in the database.”

Again there was a moment of silence, then the electronic voice said, “Lawyer, my logname is Lawyer.”

I was surprised to hear the Inside official say in return, “While your pilot license came from one of the schools with a disputed accreditations, your license is in the database, Andrew Sherwood. The claim is thus yours.”

The Inside official did not have to state the guy’s name. I mean, it was no big deal, as any search through the database of pilots would have revealed it. Still, to say it the way the Inside official did only proved to any Outsider listening that the guy was not to be trusted.

I smiled as another voice from space declared, “So you’re the guy that took that logname. I wanted it. You better be a lawyer.”

It turned out that Andrew gained his diploma in contract law from a computer course, and had taken his bar exam over a computer as well. Those tests were recorded on video, but as it revealed information about the exam the file was not open to public viewing and probably had been deleted after everything had been approved. Still, it made the electronic voice more human knowing that somebody, although probably only an Insider, had seen his face.

“Harley, and others out there, thanks for the help. I did want some record of me being out here.”

I replied, “You mean other than being one of those saucer people?”

“Yes, other than being one of those saucer people.”

“How about dropping the electronics.”

“No can do. We have our reasons.”

The conversation broke down to some basic chatter with Lawyer. I saw Thor sitting in the common area drinking coffee. I began to wonder why he was present, but noticed that it was less than an hour away from the time Clover had mentioned. I then saw Rachel come it and sit with her husband. Wondering what was to occur, I lost track of the conversation with the pilot of one of the saucers.

Things had begun to settle down when I heard a tone from my board. I looked to see the clock keeping Clover’s time go to zero and begin to flash. I knew the reason, although had completely forgotten that it applied to anyone on the crew. Voyages in space lasted years, but personality conflicts could erupt at any time. For most, relationship problems simply needed to be worked out. Pilots however had their own craft, so could leave. While most boats were not actually designed for long distances, anger and crafty planning had a number jump ship. Captains would thus gain a stipulation in the hiring contract that a pilot would be responsible for so many thousands of hours with failure to perform to be counted against the pilot financially. Since this was the second voyage, I had assumed that all of the pilots had met the conditions of their contract. My board however let me know that Clover had only now met that condition in his contract.

My captains came up to my desk, then Thor hit the button to speak to Clover before saying, “You are a free man. Now, how much money do I owe you?”

The voice of the young man replied, “Only about twelve thousand, Thor. It could be more, but I consider it a loan among friends. Get me mad, and I might decide to charge the interest.”

I saw a smile pass between my two captains, then Thor asked, “Okay, how about that other matter between us?”

“I haven’t been so protective about that. A number have looked at those plans, and most have approved.”

“Even your wife?”

“We shouldn’t raise our children alone. It should be a good vessel for youngsters to run and play.” There was a pause, then Clover spoke to assure that he had answered the question. “Yes, Naomi approves.”

“Well, there is no rush at the moment, but let us go ahead and announce that we are planning for a Menlo Park two. The crew positions should be same, but there will be more research stations for spouses to have a reason to have something to do.”

“Rachel, I am going to do a few things more, check it with Naomi, then I will send the plans to you.”

The female captain replied, “Sounds good, Clover. If I get impatient, I will come to you.”

A few more things were said, then the captains left. I knew about Clover designing another space ship, but had not really concerned myself with it. I figured after this mission that I would retire with Theo. Now that he dumped me, I really had no plans, so actually thought about signing on for a third mission with Thor and Rachel.

I suddenly saw a transmission for Clover. I knew the source, and just for fun ran it to him without any privacy codes. He could have added the privacy filters back on, but he seemed to know what the person wanted to discuss, so kept the conversation public.

“Ronnie,” Clover’s sister said, “I want to work on the Menlo Park two.”

“I don’t know what job you would be qualified for.”

With an indignant tone, she answered, “Communications. I graduate next year.”

“With a bachelors. Harley came to us with a Phd, and she had some years of actual experience.”

“I am attending a better school.”

“Thor only hires the best, Diane. A doctorate still ranks above a bachelor, and someone who actually has knowledge in the job ranks even higher than someone who spends their free time shopping.”

I expected her to ask about Clover’s rank aboard the next ship, but she instead simply retorted, “I am not going to work in that slave pen.”

“Listen, I have been many years in space. There is no shopping. There is little but work… day in, day out. You need to prove yourself able to handle it out here. That slave pen will give you the reference for being dependable, trustworthy, and able to handle a daily routine.”

“Then pay me better.”

“Hey, it’s not my problem that you sold most of your stock, then spent the money. Still, you are not without a good stipend. If you want to be considered for my next mission, money is not your problem, but your resume is. Get a good education, and get some good work experience.” When no response came back immediately, Clover added, “Oh, and find a husband.”

“I can find one of those, but you want me to be a good wife to someone who is also worthy of being hired upon a ship.”

“Yes, as I am designing a family vessel.”

Again there was a pause before Diane softly replied, “I don’t hang out with that crowd.”

“Then why would you want to work with me?”

“You’re famous, Ronnie. A lot more famous than I am.”

“I did not get that fame by shopping.”

“No, you got it by being lucky.”

That statement came strong as if Diane thought she knew a weakness in her brother, but his reply clearly stated that she had not affected him. “Then you need to work at getting lucky as well. It starts by getting to work. I am out here working, Diane. If you come out here, you will be expected to work as well.”

“I can do communications, Ronnie.”

“Oh, yeah? Harley just had a situation come to her, and she handled it by doing the right thing, contacting the right people, and knowing how to respond to certain problems. Could you have done that?”

The transmission was silent for a time, then the lady said, “Okay, Ronnie, I will take that job in the slave pen.”

“And you continue with your education, Diane. If you keep it up, when I return you might be able to be considered for the job.” The young lady terminated her transmission, but Clover showed that he knew that I had been listening as he said, “That is, Harley, if you do not want the job.”

“I heard the husband part, Clover. That is a problem for me at the moment.”

“I doubt it. I bet that your mail becomes filled with men wanting you. All you have to do is actually open the messages and read them.”

My voice displayed some displeasure as I said, “And reply.”

“Well, surely someone will be able to convince you that they are worth replying to. Maybe even Theo.”

“No. Not him.”

“Well, Naomi and I are just across the hall. Next time you decide to pace, walk on over to our door instead.”

I promised him that I would. Of course I also received messages from the other ladies aboard the ship that I could go to them as well. I might have been dating a loser back home, but I worked among a group of winners. I continued my work while promising myself that I would one day marry a winner worthy of being a member of this crew.

_________________
Fantasy puts more requirements on the writer than any other fiction, because the world must be made as real before anything else can be real.
Adult Christian fiction quite different than all the usual lame stuff in that market.  "Dilemma of Dreams" now in hard back.
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