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 …
‘Tell me something.’ Olivia’s eyebrows furrowed together as she stared at the computer screen. ‘How, am I meant to work on this?’ She flicked the centre of the computer screen, sat back in her chair and scowled at the library. Ferris didn’t look up from his book but she saw his fingers curl inwards. ‘Just hurry up,’ he hissed. ‘I can’t. This piece of junk won’t move any faster.’ Olivia flicked the screen again and the machine emitted two high pitched bleeps before the screen flashed blue. Ferris’ head shot up, his face panicked. ‘Now that’s much better,’ Olivia grinned.
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. ‘Murderer,’ he read. ‘Yeah. Aren’t we all.’
‘Smooth moves baby,’ he hummed, nose pressed against her ear. She smirked and glanced at the tally board, her row of perfect strikes lined up above his row of not-so-perfect spares. ‘You’re turn,’ she said and handed him the purple ball from the rack. He took it and kissed her on the nose. ‘Just you watch,’ he said. ‘One of these days I’m going to whoop your ass at this and there won’t be anythin’ you can do about it.’ Still grinning he turned and let loose, shooting wide. Four skittles she counted. Yeah, he wasn’t winning any time soon.
‘Even at his own fucking funeral.’ Milo shook his head and tried to smile as Eddie looked over at him, pint glass raised in a sort of salute. ‘Do you think he’s noticed?’ Milo asked. George shrugged. ‘That hooker’s hand passed through him, that might have given him a clue.’
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 …
It was rained the morning of Clarrise’s three-hundred-and-sixty-first birthday. It wasn’t the most important factor of the day, or the most obscure event that took place, but it was the first thing that Clarrise noticed when she woke up and it was, she decided after some thought, a sign that things were about to go wrong. She was right, and sitting in her lounge at three o’clock she congratulated herself on just how right she had been. The gunman who was waving his pistol far too close to her face failed to see how this was amusing, but after three hundred and sixty one years you had to see the funny side of these things. She found the sound his wrist made especially humorous when she snapped it backwards and sent the gun clattering to the ground. The accomplice screamed more loudly, more shrilling, the sound rattling against her ear drums in a annoying fashion that had her ending him quicker than she would have liked. She called Fred. ‘Do try harder darling,’ she sighed.
‘He was never a man of great passion,’ her aunt sighed. Shoulder to shoulder they stood at the old kitchen table and worked through the stacks of photo frames, wrapping and sticking, piling them up one on top of the other into cardboard boxes. ‘But those trains,’ said her aunt. She passed the frame across and Anna looked at the stained silver square with its black and white occupant . ‘He loved those trains.’ Anna nodded, examining the steam train dutifully. She placed the frame down next to the box and picked up the next one. Afterwards she put it up on the mantelpiece at home. ‘I remember that day,’ her father grinned. ‘First time I’d ever seen one.’ He pointed at the train and started talking, Anna stopped listening. To the left, almost forgotten by the photographer, stood a woman. ‘My mother never did like cameras,’ said her father. He shook his head. ‘Then when she died he burnt the ones we’d managed to take. I suppose this one must have meant too much.’ …
Excommunicated. Their words, her faith, his demons.
Your Grandmother lived in this blocked of flats with no elevator, and when she turned sixty your mum tried to make her move out. She stood there, biscuit tin in hand, holding a photo of your Granddad as if your mum was a demon and he was the bible. ‘This is my home!’ she said, and in the end your mother gave up. We cheered. Back then it was easy to side with the little old lady who told us stories and fed us cake. We didn’t see the grizzly side of getting old. That bit sneaks up on you.