Crash Landing

D3146A6EF4

Jekker’s was a small time night club with sticky floors, 1940s’ bathrooms, and polystyrene ceiling tiles that were stained a manky yellow before Eddie had even been born. In another thirty years it would be a retro-funk cafe, frequented by those in their late teens and early twenties, not yet ready to tackle to adult world, but convinced they would do a better job of running it than the people before. Another ten years and it would become an underground venue for anti-establishment rock bands, the windows would still be blacked out and Eddie would be twenty-four years old, stood on the stage with his mates ready to show the world what they were made of. A fix foot six he wasn’t overly tall, but the lime green hair that he’d gelled to stand on end added added a few more inches.

Of course Eddie and his band hadn’t counted on a terrorist attack three streets away, and a military base two streets closer conducting time vortex manipulation research just as they started up with the first ear splitting chord.  As a result, Eddie was now lying on his back, jacket seemingly glued to the floor and feet in the air, wondering why the ceiling was the colour it was. He blinked repeatedly but it didn’t help.

She was watching him of course. Halfway down the stairs, lipstick smeared, mascara running and blood on her hands.

Eddie peeled himself off the floor and sat up straight. He looked at her and she stared back, mouth slightly open, hands definitely covered in blood. It coated her fingers, her palms and even went some of the way past her wrists before turning to a splatter near the elbow. Whoever she’d done in, she’d gone for it.

‘Hi,’ Eddie croaked, his voice was hoarse and he struggled to put together his surroundings. He carefully kept his hands from touching the ground. ‘Could you tell me where I am please?’ he asked.

She continued to stare at him, mouth open, no words coming out. She wasn’t wearing much, a tight skirt, fish net tights, chunky heels and a low cropped top that threatened to spill more than it covered.

‘Um…’ Eddie chewed on his bottom lip and scanned the dingy little room. The mirrored walls behind the bar was tarnished and the white leather settees that ran along the sides of the room behind a series of low tables were worn and cracked. The sign above the door stated Jitters’ in fizzing neon light, spluttering in and out of existence sporadically.

Somewhere upstairs a door banged open. Eddie heard it hit a wall and ricochet back before thudding open again. The girl on the stairs moved, she took the railing between her hands and flipped herself over, landing on her heels with a slight wobble.

‘Effin’ civilians,’ she spat. She righted herself and crossed the room in quick, long strides. She grabbed Eddie by the arm and hauled him to his feet before manhandling him towards the bar and the exit situated next to it. Emergency Exit Only stood out in bright red letters but her hand shot past him and slammed the lever, opening the door. She hurried Eddie through it.

‘Move, move, move!’ She punctuated each word with a shove. ‘Do you want to get shot?’

Eddie was now aware that the blood on her hands was fresh and it was leaving prints across his jacket.There was a lump in his throat now and he could feel something rising in his stomach, something dark and twisty.

‘Um,’ he stumbled on his words, ‘I didn’t see anything, I promise. You can just leave me here if you want, I want mention that I saw you.’  The girl scowled and gave him another, firmer shove. They spilled out of the club and into the street outside, sunlight bursting onto Eddie’s retinas as he stumbled down the steps.

He froze and blinked rapidly, green splodges quickly taking up position in a kaleidoscope of confusion as he tried to adjust. There was another bang and then a yell and then she was back and they were running.

She kept her fingers locked around his wrist as they dived for side streets and cut-throughs, loosing themselves in the city.

It looked, Eddie decided, a lot like his own home city. In fact he kept picking out buildings he recognised, but then there were others he didn’t recognise.

‘Where am I?’ he asked again, his breath coming in ragged pants and he struggled to keep up.

‘What?’ She didn’t glance back but he could hear the disbelief in her voice. ‘What do you mean? Now really isn’t the time for sightseeing, unless you didn’t notice we’ve got people trying to kill us.’

Eddie wasn’t sure people were actually trying to kill them, all he had heard was a couple of bangs and someone shouting.

‘I- I just wanted to know what city this we,’ he spluttered. ‘And if you know how I got here?’

He saw her shake her head but she didn’t slow up.

They hit a road and she  hailed a taxi, bundled him into the back of it and leant forward to bark a series of short, harsh instructions at the driver. He grumbled back but punched the button for the light and pulled off from the curb.

‘London,’ she said. ‘You’re in London.’

‘Oh.’ Eddie focused on the little red numbers ticking upwards on the meter. ‘Erm? What year exactly?’

She let out a long groan.

‘No, no, no.’ She dragged her hand down her face and slumped back into her seat. ‘You’re one of them.’ She shook her head and started to laugh. ‘I should have bloody well known you would be.’

She let out another sigh and kicked off her shoes. Eddie watched as she worked a nail under a small flap in the sole of the left one and eased open a tiny compartment which held a tiny sphere no bigger than the tip of his little finger. She  pressed this into her ear and began jiggling it around until she was apparently happy with the positioning.

‘Unit six reporting it,’ she said, not looking at Eddie. ‘Unit six reporting to Control, Control can you hear me?’

There was  slight hum and then the brittle crackle of someone speaking back to her through the bud in her ear.

‘We’ve had something of a hiccup but I’ll tell you when I get home. Put the kettle on would you?’

The ear bud crackled again and then went quiet. She turned to Eddie.

‘You feeling okay? Any sickness? I’m told getting thrown through time can knock you through a loop when you’re not expecting it.’

‘Urm…’

‘Articulate one aren’t we,’ she smiled. ‘Oh well, medical will check you out.’ She put the bud back into her shoe and closed the compartment. Once the straps were buckled back up she knocked on the window between them and the driver and issued a new set of instructions. The man swore but charged course as asked.

‘Better take the long way,’ she explained. ‘Don’t want any of those guys following us back to the base.’

Eddie nodded, but he wasn’t quite sure what he was nodding out.

‘Yeah, I suppose.’ He’d time travelled, he turned the information over in his head, surprised that it wasn’t having more of an impact. He turned his head and found her trying to wipe the blood from her hands. The taxi driver didn’t seem particularly disturbed.

‘You some sort of performance artists?’ he asked from the front seat. He was watching them in the rear view mirror and Eddie had to admit that they looked like an odd couple.

The girl’s face broke into a dangerous grin and she leant forward.

‘No mate, just a hooker. Don’t ask though, I’m far more than you could afford.’

The driver’s face soured and he sank into silence. He cornered sharply and the girl fell back into her seat laughing.

When they pulled up next to a short, grey building next to the docklands she pulled Eddie from the taxi and fished a roll of twenties from her top which she threw into the passenger seat.’Keep the change.’

She nudged Eddie forward and ushered him through a set of glass doors and into an open foyer with marble floors and harsh florescent lighting.

‘Are you really a-‘ Eddie broke off as she levelled a glare at him.

‘Used to be,’ she said. ‘Not any more. It can be a useful part to play though.’

‘Useful how?’

‘People tend to believe in what they first see. For example today, the gentleman I was sent to see thought I was a hooker he’d hired for a bit a fun. When I turned up he expected me to exactly that, just a hooker, pretty and pliable, without much between my ears.’

‘Did you kill him?’ Eddie asked, he glanced at the blood on her hands.

‘No, I killed the bodyguard, the old bastard got away before I’d finished dealing with Butch McButch but there’s always next time. We don’t let the bad guys stay on the run for too long around here.’

They passed a reception desk and moved into the elevator. She hit the button for level three and the doors slid closed in front of them.

‘How about you?’ she asked. ‘What do you do apart from time travel?’

‘I-‘ Eddie scratched the back of his neck. ‘I’m in a band.’

She nodded. ‘Of course you are. You any good?

Eddie thought about the groups of fans crowding into Jekkers, the posters with his fast plastered across the city and his manager listing the performers that wanted the band on their next album.

‘No bad,’ he said.

‘So, what made you want to come to this delightful point in time?’

‘I didn’t,’ said Eddie, he felt warm now and his skin seemed to tight. ‘I don’t know how I got here?’

She frowned.

‘If you don’t know how you got here, how do you intend to get home?’ she asked.

The tight feeling increased and for a moment Eddie thought he might be about to explode out of his own skin. The elevator pinged and the doors swung open onto level three and a long, grey corridor.

‘You do know how to get home don’t you?’ she pressed.

‘No,’ said Eddie. He couldn’t breath, he was drowning and he couldn’t breath.

‘Well bollocks.’ The girl punched another number on the elevator and it started moving again. ‘I suppose we best go see the Captain. It looks like you might be staying with us for a while.’

The elevator climbed again, taking them to the top of the building. This time it spat them out into a great glass office with a view of the city.

‘Eryn.’ A tall man in a crisp suit stood from behind the desk on the far side of the room. Apart from two armchairs and a small coffee table, it was the only furniture in the office. The man who Eddie assumed was the Captain moved towards them, he grasped Eryn by her shoulders and yanked her forwards, dragging her into a hug that she didn’t seem all that keen to participate in. ‘I heard there was trouble. You got out safe?’

‘Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.’ She batted him away from her and pushed past towards the armchairs where she dropped herself into one and kicked her feet up onto the table. A memory stick appeared between her fingers and she tossed it to the Capitan.

‘I was going to take it straight to tech but since we’ve had to divert here, you can take it instead.’

The Captain looked at the memory stick and the looked at Eddie who was still standing by the elevator.

‘Bollocks,’ he said quietly. ‘Another one?’

‘Third one this year,’ said Eryn, almost sounding chirpy. ‘They just keep popping up, no idea how they got here, no idea how to get back.’

‘You would think that by now someone would have worked out that messing with time is not worth the hassle,’ the Captain sighed. ‘What shall we do with this one?’

‘Wait!’ Eddie’s mouth moved before he could stop it. ‘There are other time travellers? I’m not the only one here that’s not from this time?’

‘You’re the only one at this moment,’ said Erin. ‘All the others are dead.’

Eddie’s heart sank.

‘Oh,’ he said. ‘How?’

‘Murdered,’ she shrugged. ‘We’ve been trying to work out why.’

The Captain marched back over the his desk and scooped the phone up off the desk. ‘I’ve got work that needs seeing to. I’m going to suggest that we don’t mention this to anyone and both of us get on with our days.’

‘What about him?’ Erin asked.

‘Take him with you. Tell them he’s your new partner, that way you can keep an eye on him and maybe you might find a hint as to why all the others turned up dead. Make sure you have him checked out in medical first though, ensure he is who he says he is.’

‘Do I get a say in this?’ asked Eddie.

‘No,’ said the Captain, he began punching numbers into his phone. ‘Not if you want to stay alive.’ The phone began ringing out. ‘Off you go now if you don’t mind, the people here have a country to save.’

The person on the other end of the phone picked up and the Captain began talking. Erin rolled her eyes and pulled herself to her feet.’Time to go.’

They climbed back into the elevator and she hit the number for floor three again.

‘Do you like scones?’ she asked.

‘As in the baked good?’

‘Yeah, those one.’ She examined the ceiling as the doors shut and they started moving. ‘I thought I might make some.’

‘Okay… Why?’

‘In case you were hungry.’

Eddie’s stomach growled at the comment.

‘I guess I am a bit.’ His stomach gurgled again.

‘Scones it is then.’ They lulled into silence.

‘Just one thing.’ She turned her body to face him. ‘Do you have cream first and then the jam or the other way around?’

‘Erm… Jam first?’

Erin tutted. ‘Poor baby. I have so much to teach you.’ The elevator dinged. ‘So, very much to teach you.’


 

Flash Fiction Friday and Chuck Wendig’s Challenge: They Fight Crime. The word limit for this was 1,500 but I seem to have gone a bit over and I could have kept as well. I tried to treat this like a free write so I wasn’t worrying to much about length.

For the prompt we had to go to theyfightcrime.net and find a prompt that we liked. I got:

He’s a time-travelling rock star fleeing from a satanic cult. She’s a bloodthirsty troubled escort with a backpack full of scones. Together they fight crime.’

Do not ask me what is going on in this piece. I think I might have lost my mind.

Captain’s Log – Planet Zero-Six-Alpha-Nine -Entry One

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Was Here.”

The planet we were meant to land on is three thousand light years to the west, but I suppose that’s what I get for letting Jeremy pilot the ship. In all honesty, he did warn me that he had no sense of direction and that finding his own nose was a challenge most days, but really?

This ship as an automated steering system. I’d already typed in co-ordinates in, we were all set, all Jeremy had to do was press go and woosh! He could sit back and watch the stars burn by one by one. He wasn’t supposed to ignore the system and try flying for himself.

Do you know what he told me? He told me that he had a hunch. A bloody hunch that contradicted the computer with an IQ three hundred times his own. I should have put his bloody head through the control panel, but that would have left us stuck here.

Then again we are stuck here until the next re-fuelling vessel can detour our way and stock up the tanks.

Until then we’re parked up in a bog and I’m pretty sure the ground stabilizer aren’t working all that well. Sammy’s convinced we’re three inches lower today than we were yesterday. She keeps checking the landing struts with that marker of hers. muttering on about something and nothing instead of actually trying to fix the problem.

I tell you, the Guild lumped me with a right set of idiots this time.

Geniuses the lot of them, but idiots all the same. They’ll be lucky if I don’t toss them all to the marshes and be done with it. I could say it was an accident if that re-fuelling vessel ever arrives.

Capitan’s Comments On The Terrain: Even more of a shit-hole that the last forsaken place we landed on, and that’s saying something.

Star Ship N2P7649

Port three was busted again, but instead of looking into the problem Sanuth was examining the hairy wart perched rather precariously on the very tip of the nose of a very generic ambassador from yet another trade federation who thought their backwater solar system entitled them to some sort of reverence.

‘Umhum,’ Sanuth nodded, eyes still fixed on the wart. It twitched any time the ambassador said a word beginning with s.

‘I really don’t understand the problem here,’ grumbled the envoy. He was tall and thin, except for his stomach which splurged out suddenly at the waist. That was as much as Sanuth had noticed before the wart. The wart was green and blotchy with three yellow hairs which curled into exactly four loops each. It looked a little like Sanuth’s Aunt Barbara.

‘I mean really,’ said the envoy, ‘anyone would think that Hemrath wished to shun our offer to open trade routes with them? You did explain to them who we were did you not?’

There was a pause and Sanuth realised he was supposed to be responding.

‘Uh?’ he hesitated and broke his staring contest with the ambassador’s wart. ‘Pardon?’

The Ambassador flushed orange around his gills and flared his nostrils.

‘The Councilers of Hemrath,’ he said. ‘You did tell them who you had been sent to represent did you not?’

‘Of course, of course,’ said Sanuth. He vaguely remembered ordering Captain Tust to Hemrath a month back on some sort of trade alliance thing, but that might have been with the Ramborn Alliance. Come to think of it, the nose-wart ambassador might have even been a member of the Ramborn alliance, he’d already forgotten the guy’s name.

‘Well you know the Hemrath,’ shrugged Sanuth. ‘They can be a prickly bunch at the best of times.’ He tapped at the hologram on his desktop and tried to flick aside a document on new steel infrastructures for endangered marshlands. The screen fizzed for a moment and then went black. Swearing, Sanuth punched it which made it flash green and then yellow, before going back to black. He looked up at the ambassador sitting on the opposite side of the desk.

‘You promised to convince them,’ gritted out the ambassador. ‘You gave us your word.’

‘I gave you my word to do all I could,’ corrected Sanuth. ‘In this case, all that I can do might not be enough. The last trade alliance that approached the Hemrath Council did attempt to threaten them with total extermination if their demands were not met.’

‘I am aware,’ said the ambassador. ‘But that alliance was not this alliance, and I really do think you could have tried a little harder to argue our case to them.’

Sanuth shook his head. The lighting in the office was low and according to the clock projecting onto the wall behind the ambassador’s head, his secretary would be there to start work any minute. He hadn’t even noticed the night arriving, never-mind dawn creep in. Not that dawn really has much impact on a intergalactic super-sub swimming around somewhere in the centre of the known universe.

He groaned and rubbed his knuckles into his eye sockets.

‘What would you like me to do?’ he asked, looking for a way to get the ambassador out of his office as quickly as possible.

‘Something more!’ replied the ambassador. ‘Order them, tax them, demand they meet with us and sign the treaty.’

‘I can’t,’ said Sanuth. ‘Hemrath is technically an independent planet and out of my jurisdiction. Any act of force on my part would be considered an act of war against all independent planets.’

‘You’re worried about a few bureaucrats?’ huffed the ambassador. ‘What will they do? Tell us off from their mighty government chambers on the other side of the universe.’

Sanuth didn’t mention the last commander who’d trod too close to independent soil and tried to swallow past the lump in his throat as he thought about the poor man’s head rolling down the steps of those same mighty, government chambers. The rules were clear, kicking off wars was not okay.

‘I’ll extend an invite for them to treat with you here,’ he suggested. ‘They might be more receptive to meet with you on neutral ground.’

The ambassador open his mouth and then paused, thinking about it. His mouth closed and he nodded.

‘As you suggest then, a meeting on neutral ground.’

Sanuth smiled stood from his chair and held out a hand for the ambassador to shake. He saw the wart twitch as the ambassador stood, shook his hand and then quickly wiped his fingers against the fabric of his robe.

‘I’ll wait to hear the time and exact location of this meeting from you,’ said the ambassador before turning to leave. ‘Make sure it is not too long of a wait. I have important matters back home to attend to.’

‘Of course,’ smiled Sanuth, his cheeks aching as he held it and watched the doors of his office snap shut behind the ambassador.

Looking down at the dead screen on his desk he yanked open the top drawer and pulled out a walkie-talkie with EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION DEVICE stamped on the side. Practically prehistoric but still functioning at least.

‘Tris?’ he called, holding down the little button and praying.

‘Yeah?’ crackled back a familiar voice. ‘Did you break your desk again?’

‘Maybe, I’ll talk to you about that later. I need you to do something for me. It’s that ambassador here about Hemrath.’

‘The one with the wart?’

‘That’s the one! Could you make it look like an accident?’

He heard her sigh rattle through the device.

‘Really, again?’

‘Well you’re the one always telling me that I should do more to prevent war and strife in our little corner of the universe.’

‘I meant donate to a charity or something. Not orchestrate assassinations.’

‘I don’t think he’s important enough for an assassination,’ shrugged Sanuth. ‘Tell you what, I’ll even make a donation to a wart based charity if it makes you happy.’

The walkie-talkie remained silent.

‘Tris?’

Sanuth shrugged again and chucked the thing back into his drawer.

‘Bloody ambassadors,’ he sighed. ‘Always drumming up trouble.’

An Unusual Formation

‘So tell me what we’re looking at?’ Amelia sighed, rattling her pen against the plastic clipboard. Her one day off all month and something finally happens! She shook her head; it was typical, bloody typical.

Next to the cordoned area Grace crouched with the tails of her lab coat tucked up behind her hips, lips pursed into a small crinkle of dark red gloss as she worried the giga counter between her hands.

‘I’m not sure,” she admitted with a small shrug. ‘It looks…’ she paused, perfect white teeth tugging at her bottom lip.

Amelia shivered and turned her gaze back to her forms.

‘Well it doesn’t look man-made,’ Grace finished, pushing off with the balls of her feet and rising gracefully. Turning away from the mess of molten crystal embedded in the far corner of St. Gregory’s car park she frowned at the gaggle of hospital night staff still meandering around just behind Amelia.

‘Do you want me to tell them to move the cordon back?” asked Amelia, glancing in the same direction and scowling at the sudden flash of a camera phone. She hated having her picture taken. Grace had to drag her into photos at parties and events, pinning her in place with a glossy manicured hand around her waist and she attempted to smile and not grimace at the photographer.

‘Maybe,’ murmured Grace. ‘It’s not radioactive, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe.’

‘I’ll get one of the guys to shift them,” Amelia nodded and raised her hand to wave in the direction of one of the hazmat crew.’

The tap of Grace’s heels announced her presence at Amelia’s side.

‘It should be fine,” she shrugged. ‘No indication of organic matter inside whatever it is, and the guys haven’t found anything to suggest that it might be toxic,’

‘But still better to be safe than sorry,’ Amelia finished for her. ‘I know hun, you don’t need to explain yourself to me.’

Grace smiled at her softly.

‘There are days where I can’t believe I actually found you.’

Amelia found herself grinning back.

‘Well you did insist on trawling through the mental hospitals.’ She chuckled as Grace’s fist connected with her arm.

‘I’ve told you before,” said Grace. ‘It’s only you who thinks you’re insane.’

‘I’m also the only one, who can see the inside of my mind,’ Amelia shrugged. ‘I’d say I’m pretty qualified to judge.’

Shaking her head Grace turned back to the cordoned area and stared at the unidentified object again.

‘How are the boys doing with getting this thing out of the ground?’ she asked.

‘They’re getting there,” Amelia told her. ‘It’s wedged in pretty well so it’s taking a bit of time. They said they will have it in your lab by this lunch.’

‘Lunch?’ Grace checked her watch and swore. ‘We missed the play!’

‘Not just the play,’ Amelia muttered.

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘Not your fault,’ Amelia shrugged. ‘Unless you’ve suddenly developed the ability to command weird, unidentifiable objects and force them to fall from the sky on our anniversary just so you can get out of Shakespeare.’

‘I like Shakespeare!’

‘No, you like Kenneth what’s-his-name,’ Amelia corrected. ‘You tolerate Shakespeare.’

‘Meh,’ said Grace, ‘I suppose it doesn’t really matter now, you can’t see a play you’re three hours late for. We’ll just have to try again next year.’

‘We said that last year, and the year before,’ Amelia reminded her. ‘So far you owe me a Much Ado About Nothing, and two Midsummer Night’s Dreams.’

‘Well,’ Grace smirked, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream is something I can do all by myself.’

‘Oh no you-’ The rest of Amelia’s sentence disappeared as Grace’s mouth descended,  dark red lips cutting off the rest of her protest.

‘That’s cheating,’ she whispered when Grace finally pulled away. ‘And very unprofessional.’’

‘Who cares, I’m the boss around here.’

‘Yeah, you are. So perhaps you should think about doing your job,’ Amelia hinted.

‘Fine,’ sighed Grace. ‘If you insist!’

Stalking back over to the mangled thing she tugged a pen out of her top pocket and held it carefully between her thumb and forefinger.

‘You might want to stand back,’ she suggested, speaking to the hazmat crew still hovering around. She waited until they had all stepped back and then she lent in closer. ‘Ready?’ she asked.

Confused, Amelia glanced down at her form.

‘I suppose,’ she replied. ‘What are you about to do exactly?’

‘This!’ Grace grinned, and jabbed the pen directly towards the joint where two spikes of the crystal thing met.

The pen made a thud and stopped.

‘See,’ said Grace straightening up. ‘Harmless.’

‘Uhuh,’ said Amelia. ‘I’ll have to take your word for that. Exactly what was that supposed to prove?’

‘The pen thing?’ Grace asked. ‘Oh, well nothing really. I just couldn’t think of anything else that we hadn’t already checked.’

‘So you decided to mess around?’ Amelia clarified.

‘Basically, I can’t do much more until it’s back in the lab and you said yourself that won’t be until lunch.’

‘So you’re finished?’

‘I thought that was what I just said.’

The tip of Amelia’s nose began to itch.

‘So we can go home?’ she said.

‘If you’re finished then yeah,’ Grace answered. ‘I thought you still had paperwork though?’

‘No!’ Amelia yelped, hurled the clipboard towards the nearest Hazmat. ‘I’ve been staring at the same form for the last two hours. All the location stuff was done and I was waiting for you to finish your poking and prodding.’

‘Oh,’ said Grace sheepishly, ‘I was done ages ago.’

‘Bloody hell, now you tell me!’

‘Sorry.’

Amelia glanced around at the men and women in yellow suits still busying themselves with whatever it was they were doing and trying to avoid the arguing couple.

‘Let’s go home,’ she sighed. ‘I’m tired.’

‘If you want,’ Grace agreed. ‘I’m pretty sure this thing isn’t about to kill anyone. It’s just rather pretty and rather in the way.’

‘So a bit like you whenever we’re cooking,’ Amelia quipped, retrieving her clipboard with an apologetic smile from the bemused hazmat member she’d hurled it at.

‘Hey!’ called Grace. ‘I’ll have you know I’m a fantastic cook!’

‘Of course sweetie,’ replied Amelia. ‘Everyone else is just a fussy eater.’

PHOTO PROMPT – © Copyright Marie Gail Stratford
PHOTO PROMPT – © Copyright Marie Gail Stratford