Good grief... it's almost March! Did anybody else see where January and most of February went?
Book stuff updates are: Warrior moved into pricing and promotion planning, An'ji is going through final edits, Scholar jumped into layout, and I *think* I have the book endings to aim for in three of the novels still in the writing process (two of the first for a new Steampunk series, and another little side project to put on Etsy). Me stuff updates are: I had a personal victory over my anxiety yesterday, somehow my youngest got old enough that we registered her for pre-school starting this September, and I found second-hand boots that are utterly perfect for the Jedi cosplay costume I'm making for Calgary's comicon this summer. (For the costume, if anyone wants to know, my character is the stand-in for Jedi Academy Movie Extra #27.)
That said, let's skip over the rest and – tah-dah! – here's the first of four parts of that sci-fi short story that I wanted to share. Hope you have a good weekend!
1. At Least it's Catered
Abby sat in the dark and listened. She knew she should be sleeping, that it would be easier to fall asleep if she could just stop listening, but she couldn’t turn off the audio and drift away. She could close her eyes and not see them huddling around their makeshift table and plotting, but she couldn’t turn off the whispered and rushed audio.
After a while she just rolled over to face the wall and pulled the thin blanket up so that she could cover her open ear with her hand without being obvious about it. Obvious just made them all angry with her. Well, angrier. The six of them were already so scared even though nothing bad had happened. Sure, they had been abducted off the street and were being kept in a large cell by strange, birdlike creature-people, but they still had indoor plumbing, three meals a day with snacks in between, and showers and clean clothes every other day. There wasn’t much to be scared of here, Abby thought. Well, except for the other six she had to share the sleeping quarters with.
Mostly, Abby thought, it was like an adventure; the kind that happened to interesting people in books with a strange solar system or a space ship on the cover. It was exciting, in a way.
The small meeting ended and her cellmates shuffled off to their bunks. Charlie stopped and poked her with his foot as he was passing by, not hard enough to be a kick, just a poke, but Abby didn’t move. That was the best way to deal with him when he acted like that. He waited for a minute, then huffed and tromped away when she didn’t react. She had learned how to deal with him when they had been married, and it was over five years ago now since he’d gotten out of jail. When they’d been married, she had learned how to avoid him as best she could. Once he was in lockup, she’d counted her lucky stars every day up to now that he’d been in jail when she went through with the divorce.
Actually, she could thank Charlie for really making it possible for this abduction to turn into an adventure for her. Even with the restraining order, she’d still had to avoid him so much. He was always a few days or a week behind her that first year he’d been out, hunting after her. She learned to stay ahead of him by learning how to simply be not seen, and then – as she got better at it – the time had started getting longer and longer between when he would catch up. (She could even get jobs that didn’t pay cash at the end of each day during his second year out, and had had a salary job for the past few months before getting nabbed and brought here.) Now all that sneaking about was coming in handy: she’d been able to look out of every window she’d found whenever they were allowed out of the sleeping quarters, and none of them that she shared this cell with had even noticed when she was gone. The birdlike people didn’t seem to mind that she wandered as long as she went back where she was supposed to be when they found her. They were very gentle about taking her back, too.
Of course, she didn’t tell Charlie and his little five-person mob about looking out the windows. Then they would want to know what she had seen. Abby didn’t want to tell them anything about that because it would just make them more scared. If she’d learned anything about people over her life, it was that scared or angry was better than scared and angry.
Slowly her cellmates started drifting off to sleep, some of them starting to snore. Once everyone else was asleep, Abby finally dropped off.
* * *
It was a shower day. The water was the perfect temperature, Abby thought, but the other woman complained bitterly. As Abby dried herself off she noticed that her hair was touching her ears. Her adorably perfect pixie cut – Rosy, her last hair dresser, called it that anyway – was long overdue for a clean-up trim. Abby tried to think back and remember how long she’d been here and guessed it at about two and a half, or maybe three, months.
Opposite to the other six abductees, she was enjoying herself. They got exercise days now, actually had been getting them for nearly two months, and she loved being able to jog the track or try the solo stuff she could remember from that kickboxing class she’d taken for about a year as a teenager. Her cellmates had mostly stopped trying to talk to her, except Charlie, and even he was leaving her alone for longer stretches of time. That probably had more to do with one of the... she couldn’t pronounce it yet. Anyway, one of them had grabbed Charlie when they had seen him grab her and Charlie hadn’t liked it too much. She’d seen the bruises on his arm that night from those vise-like fingers. His bruises had been darker than the ones he’d left on her arm.
That had scared the gang freshly, that the... geesh she wished she could pronounce it. Their language was so hard to mimic. Throaty and whistley and warbly all at the same time, like a canary crossed with a crow. Their name sounded like a whistle with the hick-ups. Not like you were trying to whistle when you had the hick-ups, but that the whistle itself had the hick-ups. For now she was just thinking of them as ‘Others’.
A weekly blog updating on Saturdays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!