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For this month's writing prompt write a scene using the following sentence to start;

The streets were deserted. Where was everyone? Where had they all gone?

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Our monthly writing tips are written by our very own TerishD. You can read more in Terish's Blog located in "The Abstractions" area of the forum.

Look Back

When not able to write ahead, it helps to look back. In my case I had written a paragraph ahead of the story. What I needed to do was add a section of exposition (talking) presenting some facts. In going back, I realized that I could insert a section where a 'tour' of the surroundings could be done. This allowed for character interaction, story development, and other things that enabled me to present the facts in an entertaining manner.

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 - No Answer

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TerishD


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PostSubject: Outside - No Answer   November 16th 2010, 8:02 am

Outside - Story Twenty-Two
No Answer

Part One

Yes, this report is from Unborn. For those that do not know, I am the communications supervisor of Outside Control. My career started decades ago when mankind was first venturing into space. I considered myself the luckiest person in the world in finding that my branch of service put me in position to be one of the first space policemen. That first year however caused me to see things that I don’t want to ever see again, and many have noticed that I leave the room quickly when conversations turn to certain topics. I have been told today that even if somebody does not know my history, they still believe that the name Unborn applies to me.

My log name comes from a man I rescued from a slavery operation. My older and experienced partner took off to assure the perimeter was secure while I began processing those rescued. They were a small group, no more than eight. I wanted to start some medications, hand out some foods, simply wrap them in blankets, something. To this day I don’t know how I found the strength to talk to them. When I finally broke the ice, they began to tell me their stories. My log name came from a man who after describing the brainwashing techniques that had been used on him, he said that he felt like his life had been taken from him – that he had been unborn.

I did not come back from that mission the same. I did not falter in my work, but the energy had left. My associates seemed to feel the lack of enthusiasm, and kept relegating me to desk jobs. While I did go on to get my pilot’s license, I quickly ended up with an administration job. By the time I had done my years of service, I had a strong resume for heading a communication position. Somehow, even years later, the aura of that first job haunts me.

Supervising Outside Control is not a hard job. It is actually fun, as almost all who head out into space are doing it with a positive attitude. There are no sob stories in space, as the horrible dangers of the environment kills those that lose faith. I found Outside Control to fit my personality well, as coming back from being Unborn I tend to only see things positively.

My philosophy on life was however tested the day that an electronic voice suddenly filled the corridors of Outside Control. “MENLO PARK, WHERE ARE YOU? We see! Oh, WE SEE! MENLO PARK, YOU MUST TALK TO US! We need guidance! We are not going to tell! We promise, we will not tell, but you need to speak to us! We came to join with you. We came to be a part of your journey. TELL US WHERE YOU ARE!”

I was in the hallway handling the flow of business through Outside Control. Being the contact for numerous personalities who were too far away to handle some business themselves, a number of particulars are often being managed beyond the range of the usual communication room. As the standard flow of conversation was usually entertaining, the door to the room did stay open. We could have closed the door and simply had the feed come over the speakers, but those out in space liked a feeling of being part of a group, so having noise from the hallway – if not actually having a few of us passing actually drop in to chat – was the preferred method of operation. Anyway, with the door open, I easily saw Natchez step away from his seat with a shocked and confused expression on his face.

I clearly recognized the situation as being unusual, but my experience enabled me to easily move up to the microphone to say, “Zephyr, this is Unborn. We have not heard from the Menlo Park in a number of days. We however have picked up a faint tachy signal from where I believe you to be. Could you help us identify the location and the source of the transmission?”

“MENLO PARK, GUIDE US!”

Natchez moved up to whisper to me, “What in Hell is going on out there?”

I fiddled with some instruments as I answered, “I don’t know. What gets me is that I cannot lock their position. They are moving.”

The voice of Red Dove came over the speaker. “I am registering the same, Unborn. That tachy signal is moving, but the signal from the saucer is erratic.”

No Nope, who had the next shift after Natchez, came in and hit some buttons on a monitor before saying, “What gets me is that these signals are nowhere near where the Menlo Park went unexpectedly quiet on their last mission.”

I only glanced at the star map before replying, “It can’t be alien. Surely there would be a major rush to make a claim if it was that.”

“What else could it be?”

Before I could respond, Natchez moved up to point to another monitor. I stared at the readout. It was a private message sent to Natchez from a Dan Namath. I spoke aloud to tell others to hush. Usually when the speaker went quiet, others in space would begin talking. I however wanted them to wait as I checked something. Verifying that the message was from Neptune, I told Natchez to play it. He moved to sit back down as he asked for verification.

I replied, “Yes. I could be wrong, but I am quite certain that this will be our answer. This message is from Indigo’s father. Play it, Natchez. I am going back to my office.”

No Nope grabbed a seat as Natchez checked some things before speaking to those Outside. “This is a full video message. Those of you listening in that might be interested, you will need to broaden your reception channels. You heard Unborn give me the authorization, so it will be coming unchecked. No telling what this thing actually is.”

I made it to my desk before the message began to play. I knew that phone calls would be coming. It was my job to keep Outside Control running, and that meant handling the business that might try to make our broadcasts difficult. I thus sat and waited to do my job.

The professionalism of the presentation surprised me, but I then remembered that the Menlo Park had a legendary photographer aboard. The way the crew was positioned about the bridge of the ship displayed a command of vision and theatrics. The way Thor spoke clearly indicated that he read from a prepared script.

The sight of this large strange spaceship caught me by surprise. I let Thor ramble on about the merits of his crew, but I froze the picture to simply study the alien vessel. I tried to determine if the image was computer generated. I enlarged certain parts of the vessel looking for clues of its being a model. I finally concluded that it was real, and my mind moved on to other problems.

I thought of those that I expected to call me. Understanding my place as being the one in charge of the communication network for our movement into space, I wondered why I was having to watch this video with everyone else. It did not take me long to form a conclusion and make a call of my own.

“Red Dove, you are responsible for transmitting that message from the Menlo Park.”

“Yes, Unborn, I am.”

“Why?”

I expected some evasion of my question, but she answered directly and completely. “Because the information is important. Inside considers it important that the information is timely. They then check and examine and verify. It comes down to the fact that timeliness is not important. It is only important in operating the stock market. Outsiders see the only reason Inside demands timely responses is to get a jump on financial activity. That is not what is important to getting one’s name in the annals of history. Outsiders that do consider the money are not going to let those Inside, those not doing anything but playing politics, have any advantages.”

Attempting to get a handle on the extent of her words, I asked, “So, you are going to be the new Outside Control?”

“You do a good job, Unborn. You can be the Outside Control that everyone knows about. I will just be another one that is not so popular. Try and silence me, and there are other stations that will be used.”

“Is this a revolution?”

“Most of us out here are good tax paying citizens. We are not criminals. We however are doing the work, so we want the reward. Those that sit on their butts Inside deserve no advantages.”

Working for Outside Control, I heard that argument daily. Not wanting to be ostracized by the very people that I served, I considered how to reply. Finally, I decided to give Red Dove the truth just as she gave it to me.

“I don’t know why the phone has not been ringing.”

“They are watching the video, Unborn. This is a history making moment. The calls will be coming however. I wish you well.”

I thanked the lady, then closed the connection. I sat and watched the end of the video. Hearing Thor also mention the need to make certain moves before others could benefit from his discovery forced me to consider who might call and what they would be wanting to discuss. Wondering if I guessed correctly, I opened the connection as a signal indicated that I had a call.

“This is Doctor Hui of the Hubble Space Array. Just asking if you have any knowledge of where these messages are coming from.”

I wondered about the future of my job as I realized that I was being out-maneuvered by both of the major groups. The Menlo Park dealt with Red Dove. Those Inside had made their initial phone calls to their own set of deep space sensors. I made my reply with the understanding that I was now a competitor.

“Nothing definite to get a good vector.”

“A vector? We are trying to focus on a location.”

Doctor Hui always looked intelligent when he spoke on a documentary, but I realized that he needed a lesson on facts relating to his own field of study. “Nothing stays still in space. All mapped locations have a specific vector assigned to them. Whatever this is, it seems to be moving at a velocity greater than light.”

“That’s impossible.”

“We have been picking up that faint signal for over a week now. That is the only explanation we have come up with to explain certain facts about it.”

“It is still impossible. Thor’s presentation did not mention anything about it traveling at greater than light speed.”

Deciding that I really did not like Doctor Hui, I replied, “Then why didn’t he board the vessel?”

“He said that he did not have enough fuel to match its velocity.”

“Yes, well, if it would secure my claim to being the person to discover intelligent alien life, I would have used the fuel. There is a reason that he did not use the fuel, and a reason why we could not lock onto the location of the Zephyr.”

As if simply saying something made it true, Doctor Hui again said, “I still say that it is impossible for that craft to be going past the speed of light.”

The connection terminated, and I activated another to ask a simple question. “Natchez, has there been any further word from the Zephyr.”

“No, Unborn. There is a lot of chatter from others about heading in that direction. Something is there, and a number are being curious.”

A new voice suddenly came over the speaker. “This is Captain Saing of the Chavez. Outsiders, stay back. We will handle it.”

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PostSubject: Part Two   November 21st 2010, 8:12 am

Outside - Story Twenty-Two
No Answer

Part Two

I launched myself from my desk and rushed through the corridors of Outside Control to arrive back at the communications room. I heard Natchez directly confronting the supposed captain of the military vessel named the Chavez. It was a rumored vessel with some rather strong evidence for its existence, but one of those ships that those in government and the military would deny it had ever built. I could not sit back and let this communication go unchallenged. Natchez was doing his best, but I was the one with the position of authority.

No Nope rose to let me have his chair. I adjusted my position expecting to be present for a time, then rolled over to the main microphone. Natchez got out of his chair and pulled it away allowing me to have complete control.

“Come back, Captain Saing. This is Unborn. I don’t believe this is a military matter.”

“It most definitely is not a civilian matter.”

A number of voices came over the speaker declaring the matter to definitely be a civilian matter. Most tried to sound reasonable by explaining that science provided a common topic for conversation, that diplomacy should be the method of initiating communications, and other logical lines of thoughts, although a number simply felt that by speaking loudly their opinions could rule the day. The captain of the military vessel quietly allowed the others to speak, then simply let others know what he would be doing.

“I have been assigned to take charge of this situation. While this ship has been a covert agent to keep the peace, this cause is felt to be important enough to become unclassified.”

A voice from the cosmos asked, “Are you going to fire upon us?”

“My purpose is to protect those of our civilization and species.”

“Are you going to fire upon us?”

I felt that all of space went silent for a moment before the captain replied, “It is my duty, and the duty of all in the military, to protect those of the United Inhabited Worlds from all threats. I am not to initiate conflict with those of my own civilization and specie unless they initiate conflict with me.”

The voice of the one Outsider now asked, “So, you will fire upon the aliens?”

“It seems that the Menlo Park has worked to assure it gets there first. We will fire upon the aliens should such be necessary to protect those of the Menlo Park.”

Another voice from the cosmos said, “The Menlo Park and you won’t be alone, Chavez. We are not going to trust the military in this matter. There will be multiple records of this contact.”

“That would be unwise.”

Suddenly the speakers erupted with a multitude of voices lambasting and ridiculing the military and the government. Those Outside usually tolerate the military, but their hatred against the policies of Inside revealed itself. As the common pathway for the flow of voices through space, I felt that I needed to see that peace again prevailed. I thus sought to find the proper words that would quiet the multitude.

“Listen, this is Unborn. The truth is that only one message needs to be delivered. While we all want to meet aliens, there is no money in it for those following. Think, all of you, there is no money in the journey.”

I paused to hear silence over the speaker. That was good. That was what I wanted. I knew however that I needed to keep it that way. I identified a certain voice, and spoke to it.

“Fierce Lion, are you really going? I do have your location eight light years from the source of the tachy signal.”

“And it is coming to me. I thus should reach it soon enough. I reckon four to five weeks.”

A number of voices now filled the speakers, but these were much more rational. Vectors were discussed along with starting locations. I waited for the Chavez to re-enter the conversation, but they stayed quiet. I however reviewed their earlier transmission, and found the information to hopefully keep the flow of voices rational.

“The Chavez should be about six weeks out.”

Fierce Lion replied, “I pray that I don’t send back pictures of devastation.”

Captain Saing returned, “Those are not our intentions.”

Doctor Hui said, “We want our first meeting with aliens to be peaceful.”

Fierce Lion returned, “So you send the military? I am altering my course now. I believe that I will do better at assuring peace than the Chavez.”

I then said, “Menlo Park, I know that you are listening. I know that you are doing what you are doing for the money, but you are already working at a profit. Don’t be thinking about your bottom line, but the beginning balance for a whole new column. We don’t need war, Menlo Park. Please, we don’t need war.”

It was not the voice of Thor, but that of Captain Saing that spoke next. “That ship on the video does not appear to be a research vessel. Also, it seems that the crew was dead. Something killed them. The Menlo Park could be heading into a war.”

It was Red Dove that responded. “You said yourself that you had the duty to protect us, Chavez. You will not be protecting the human race if you involve us in that war. You need to assure that we stay neutral.”

“I believe our actions will be dictated by the situation that we find the Menlo Park in.”

I then said, “Menlo Park, I pray to God that you are listening. The fate of humanity rests in your hands.”

No response came. I hoped that Thor would have broken his silence for a brief acknowledgement. A signal from those in the saucers would have also been appreciated. No message from either however was received. Out of frustration I had to utter the words that began this report.

“Menlo Park, where are you?”

==============================
Just for completion, I want it known that I did write the report from the Menlo Park. The intent was to include the message in the story as it progressed, but it really did not fit. Just because maybe somebody is interested, I am including the report.
===============================


This is Thor Hawkins, captain of the exploratory vessel Menlo Park. I want everyone to see something. This is something we found on our last voyage. I cannot explain it, so I am just going to show it to you.

We cannot provide you with a static clear shot, because we were unable to get one. I know, I can imagine that most of you are saying that such is impossible. Well, I wish it was impossible. The truth is that I did not have enough fuel to enable us to match its velocity.

On the last voyage our health was not the best. Me, my wife, and our entire crew however found this ship and tried to claim it for ourselves. We spent a number of days tracking it attempting to make contact. All things failed. Well, almost everything failed, but I will come back to that.

Right now, let me congratulate my communications officer, Susan Mae Harley, and my nighttime helm, Darlene Veronne. Those are the two that enabled us to find this thing. Harley made the initial discovery, but without the help of Darlene we would not have been able to lock onto it. I got the best crew of any captain, and these two ladies deserve their honor.

Felix and Diamond were the points to initially spot this vessel. You should have heard those two holler, but they quickly hushed as they realized at what they were looking. I was here on the bridge, and their shouts of joy quickly became serious chatter as they verified things with Darlene at helm along with Clover and Watson checking the data in their own manner. As the other members of the crew showed up, they found those already on the bridge seriously involved in checking instruments unable to accept what we had found.

When you think that you are in a dream, the accepted action is to pinch yourself. Well, we all pinched ourselves, but what we needed to do was pinch what we were seeing. We wanted to touch it. My oldest pilot, Diamond, came up with the idea to use a parachute. Sandra and Castle designed the device to have it spread without any atmosphere. Diamond flew the mission, and what you are about to see is our record of that event.

As you can see, we have touched it. It is real. With tears in our eyes, we had to leave it that day, but we all made promises to return.

It is now a few years later. We kept all of you in the dark, but most of you suspected something. I doubt however that any of you suspected this. You probably imagined some stray meeting of my exploratory vessel and some alien explorer. No shaking of hands occurred. No contact, except for a parachute happened. We however spent our time planning.

Clover has worked on his software. There was a message from the ship, but we had no idea what it was saying. While Clover bragged on his better computer system, he was secretly working to assure that his computer could speak with any other signal that might be received in a hope that he could translate the alien message. I was worried when he worked on the computer hard drive for the ancient boat we found, as I feared some of you would suspect just how easily he decoded the archaic message. Luckily, you didn’t. Clover might still be working on the alien signal, but he is already ahead of most of you.

My other pilots worked on another problem. They have found it. I believe Watson gets credit, but they were all looking in the right direction and Felix actually discovered the vector. More about that later.

Terry is the man. He made a promise to us long ago. We have given that young man all the discredit that anyone could bear, and Terry has held up. I have another video to show you. While Diamond flew this mission, the actual credit goes to Terry.

That tachy signal that you should be receiving is due to Terry. Clover and Castle designed the device, but Terry made it. We have another device designed by Felix, and one more designed by Sandra. Terry managed those as well. Some of you had been thinking that Terry was an asterisk to my statements about having the best crew. Oh, no, Terry ranks right up there with the rest of us.

The ship is still here. Now that you have a tachy signal, you should be able to find it as well. Give us our credit, but we are not staying to accept any honors. We have a vector that we believe will rush us to the fame we desire.

I hate this, but we are leaving. You see, this ship is not what we are looking for. It is a clue that it exists however, and we believe that we have the best answer to making the contact we desire. Bye.

_________________
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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