This week they want us to draw inspiration from a picture… Well, I looked at that photo and thought, Aha…
Which is good. I like ‘Aha’ prompts. As opposed to ‘Hmmm’ prompts, or, worst of all, ‘Huh? Help!’ ones. So, here goes…
“Dude, I’m not sure about this.”
“It’ll be fine,” the more experienced teleporter assured him. “Just keep clearly in mind where you want to go… And think it. In and out. Fool-proof!”
This week’s Trifecta challenge is the third definition of the word ‘appear’. I thought I could use this prompt to continue a story I began a few weeks ago. You can read the beginning here
Harry had been quite right about Mrs Munro. She was everything Lord Clifton hated in a woman. Garrulous, simpering, and gushing with an artificial tinkling laugh that grated on him. She dropped names at every opportunity and tried to patronize his lordship while doing her level best to ignore his younger brother. No doubt she assumed that this was flattering to the man for whom her daughter was destined, but in truth she could not have done more to damage his opinion of her. Lord Clifton had always been much attached to his brother. All through their childhood, Marcus had been the only person who was allowed to tease Harry. Anyone else who attempted to do so would get short shrift from a small boy who had always been able to transform into an icily regal young lord in the blink of an eye. Harry, watching with some trepidation, could see that same mask of ice descending on his brother’s face now. He hoped there would not be bloodshed. Miss Emilia Munro, on the other hand, did not appear to be made from the same cast as her objectionable parent. She seemed a quiet, unaffected girl, although it was true that most people would seem quiet and unaffected when compared with Mrs Munro. While her mamma was prattling on about something profoundly uninteresting, Miss Emilia was apparently watching his lordship rather closely. Harry, suppressing a grin, thought that this situation had the potential to be very interesting indeed.
Last time on Star Trek: …
Oh. No. Sorry. Wrong tape.
Ok. Sorted. This should be the right one.
Last time in The Virus Fleet, we discussed (with the doubtful aid of the official records) the Second Greatest Take-Over Plan in all of time and space. But even the best-laid plans of mice and Lartans can go horribly wrong….
Everything was going well. The Virus Fleet were doing exactly what their predecessors (do excuse me. Those official records appear to have got lodged in my brain and keep leaking out. I will try not to let it happen again.) had done hundreds of times before. Each Virus Soldier was squashed comfortably into a tiny spacefaring capsule whooshing its way to the sparkly blue planet. (No, before you ask, I don’t know if they did whoosh; I do know that apparently things don’t make noises in space. But since when has that principle stopped the noises from being made in science fiction? Physics can be so boring sometimes. Anyway, I’m telling this story, and if I say they whooshed, they whooshed. If you don’t like it you can go elsewhere. See if I care.)
As I said, everything was going like clockwork, only better.
And then one Lartan scientist, whose name has gone down forever in the annals of Lartan history, but we’ve lost the bit of paper it was written on, realized that this time things were not going to go swimmingly. He discovered that the Virus Soldiers were no longer resistant to the virus they were carrying. Panicking – you can imagine the effect 20,000 muddled alien soldiers would have on Earth! – he contacted the President of Larta and told her what was possibly, probably, almost certainly happening out there. Panicking – you can imagine the effect 20,000 muddled alien soldiers would have on the take-over plan! – she contacted the Strategic Officer of Defence and Attack (SODA for short) and ordered him to recall the Fleet at once. So that’s what he did.
It wasn’t until some hours later that they realized there were only 19,999 soldiers back on Larta.
One lone soldier, carrying the virus, was still on his way to Earth.
To be continued…
Deny me once, and I will make you pay
You thought to save your lover’s life today
Hear, before I die, ere you forgive
I’ll confess, I never would have let him live…
They said she was a freak. They had no idea.
When she was a baby, the doctors had shaken their heads and told her distraught mother that the tiny, unresponsive bundle she called Zoe would never be ‘normal’.
And all through her childhood, it became more and more apparent that they were right. Other children laughed and played; Zoe never smiled, and spent her playtime organizing and arranging things into order – alphabetical, colour, size… People looked at her oddly. Zoe was always going to be the weirdo.
But there was one good thing. She was insanely good at anything she put her mind to. By the age of two, she could read and write. By the age of five, she knew that you should not split infinitives unless not splitting them made the sentence clunky. By the age of seven, she was reading Jane Austen and Tennyson, and found it quietly amusing that people called her ‘precocious’ without realizing that she knew what it meant.
By the age of twelve, she was completing frequency graphs and solving equations in her head.
She was sixteen when she finally smiled. That was when she discovered the exquisite irony of the fact that people called her ‘pedantic’ when in reality, the word applied just as much to themselves. Because they were. Pedantic, ordinary, trapped inside their tiny, mediocre worlds. They could not see the beauty of order and the mathematical spectrum of the world, every bit as breathtaking as the rainbow of colour. They could not hear sequences, see patterns, solve problems with the spark of a synapse. It was really quite sad.
But she laughed anyway.
His nerve almost failed him, but his thoughts on what he was looking for in a pilot had undergone a paradigm shift. She had, literally, knocked him for a loop.
“Paris, you’re hired.”
Further to the detective story… I left it on a cliffhanger, sorry about that! The prime suspect, who also happens to be the hero, had just incriminated himself pretty thoroughly, and now has some serious explaining to do…
He looked at her very blankly. She had never known quite so blank an expression to make its way onto his mobile face. “What?” She sighed. “You’ve admitted you went there to kill him-” “Metaphorically! He agreed to be the basis for a character in my latest novel… It’s unfortunate that that character happens to die, but it doesn’t mean anything!”
“That’s as may be, but you just admitted to having a huge motive. For you, criticism (or plagiarism) of your work is possibly the biggest motive for murder anyone could want. Apart from anything happening to your daughter,” she added.
“I’m glad you think I’m at least vaguely human,” he said, injured. “For your information, Denny did me a big favour by rejecting that manuscript. He made me work hard to better myself. You know I keep that rejection slip framed on my wall. It’s a symbol of betterment and a reminder to me that complacency kills writers. Metaphorically again, in case you’re wondering.”
“I wasn’t,” she snapped, realized she had overreacted, and took a very deliberate sip of coffee. It wasn’t comforting, or even very hot anymore, and it still tasted disgusting, but the time it took enabled her to think what to say next. “Look, I think we got off to a bad start just now. I will admit to paying you out a bit. A little bit. And I didn’t mean to imply that you are self-centred. I know your family means a lot to you. But can’t you see how it looks? You were in Denny’s apartment. You have means, opportunity, and to an outsider it looks very much like motive, too.”
“But you know I didn’t do it, right?”
She really wanted to pause long enough to make him squirm, but his eyes made her say, “I know,” immediately. And that was the other thing she hated – that he could so easily push her buttons and be a complete pain one minute, and the next, look at her so disarmingly that she didn’t have the heart to retaliate. She slapped the coffee cup back down on the flat white table. It slopped over the edge, forming an ugly brown splash on the sterile surface. For some reason this annoyed her beyond belief. She stood up, practically snarling. “Ok, I’ve had enough of this. Get out of here. Go home.”
“I’m free to go, then?”
She didn’t know if he was mocking or not, and she no longer cared. “Do I have to write it down? Go home. And don’t come in tomorrow. You’re too close to this one.”
“Do you mean that, or do you mean you can’t work with me on it?”
“I don’t have to answer that. Go home.”
And he did. But the look he gave her as he left made her wonder if he would ever come back.