The coffee was cold, and the machine broken. Gabriel checked the plug, tried wiggling it in the socket and swore as the thing zapped him. ‘Smooth brother.’ Raphael stood with his head still bent over the control panel across the room. ‘If you’re done playing around, I need you to check these stability levels.’ He waved at a series of flashing lights. ‘Why call them that?’ Gabriel sucked the burn on his finger and edged towards the controls. ‘There’s nothing stable about this realm. Why bother keeping things ticking over. Why not fix it all, or simply hit the kill switch?’ Raphael’s brow tightened. ‘I prefer keeping in mind, even the possibility, that existence has its own reason for being. We’re here to keep the others from tampering.’ ‘Makes more sense to let them.’ ‘No brother, there is no sense in endings at all.’
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.
Wisława Szymborska, ‘Possibilities‘
Tonight’s line for the prosery prompt was chosen by Merril, and is perhaps one of my favourite, ever, prompts. 144 words doesn’t feel like quite enough for this wonderful line, so I might have to come back to it later on and work this into a longer piece because ideas have been sparked, and it would be a shame to let them fizzle out.
Captain Martin Renke did not like strangers aboard his ship. He didn’t trust strangers, and being stuck with someone you don’t trust twenty thousand feet above the ground in something that for all intensive purposes should not be flying was a dangerous thing.
Dr Grass was a dangerous thing.
The scientist was escorted aboard the ship an hour before dawn by a retinue of armed guards, most of whom were only one twitch away from unloading their clips into the back of the man’s head.
‘He’s… odd,’ their commanded had explained. ‘Really odd.’ Then he’d thrown the papers stamped with the royal seal into Renke’s hands and left.
Grass had been smiling.
Three hours later Grass had stopped smiling and was puking over the side of the ship.
Tucked away in his cabin, Renke ran his thumb over the seal and examined the papers.
“One does not simply kill their nemesis,” announced Edward as his daughter walked through the sitting room door with her morning coffee. “One must be more creative!”
Sarah stared at her father and then down at her miniaturized tutor scampering across the coffee table.
“Okay…” she said, ignoring Edward as he collapsed into the sofa sniggering.”You do realise Miss Trunt is not my nemesis right?”
“Anyone who seek to dominate us is a nemesis!” Edward shot up off the sofa and scooped Miss Trunt up in one hand. The woman screamed as he swung her across to face Sarah. “See her now! See how fragile she is to us!”
Sarah heard Miss Trunt whimper.
“Put her down Dad,” she sighed. “I really don’t have time for this again.”
“This! This!” spluttered her father. “This is important!”
“No, it’s not.”
“Re-size her Dad!”
“I can’t,” he whined. “I lost the instructions.”
A science fantasy with a touch of romance.
A utopian world with a touch of slavery.
Kaley Blackburn is sent to Femme in her final year of Future Tech studies. The world is a socialist utopia of low crime, great health and advancements in technology that leave other worlds envious.
It is a fantastic place to visit if you’re a woman. Men, on the other hand, are the slaves that tend to all feminine desires. Kaley knew about the world’s culture of slavery but never had to face it until she is assigned a slave, Mecca, for the duration of her stay.
Mecca is handsome, intelligent and obedient, but every answer he gives to Kaley’s questions only feed her growing concerns. Does Femme hide an ugly truth beneath its beautiful surface and can she trust her feelings for a man whose sole duty is to make her feel special?
I will admit that ‘Femme’ would not normally be the sort of book that I’d pick up when wandering around a bookshop or perusing Amazon. However, once I got into reading I found myself really enjoying what Delia Strange has created. Despite being set in a not-too-distant future, there is little about the world she creates that comes across as too unbelievable. I wasn’t sure how I felt about aspects such as ‘tourist worlds’ and worlds entirely dedicated to one aspect of life (such as study), but they manage to work within the context of the book.
The characters have to be my favorite part of the whole book however. Despite playing the main role, Kaley Blackburn is in no way extraordinary. Something that I found incredibly refreshing. Delia Strange has created a character is is utterly realistic, a true representation of a twenty something year old student and despite being a romance novel Delia does not expect the reader to believe in true love at first sight or any other literary cliche. The relationships in the book grow slowly, and in each and every one you are left to question motivations, feelings and overall perceptions. Just as in real life, first impressions are often called into serious question.
‘Femme’ is a beautifully written book. The chapters, characters and plot are all carefully crafted, subtly leading you deeper and deeper into the world of ‘Femme’, something that is wonderful to see in an era when the quality of the word is sometimes lost beneath other aspects. ‘Femme’ is a reminder that often little is as it seems and looking deeper can “taint” that perfect picture we are presented with, leaving us unsure of everything else we have been told and more than a little confused. Perfect doesn’t necessarily meant happy and ‘Femme’ shows this with a startling clarity.