Friday, April 19, 2024

Flash Fiction Friday! With a Ghostly SFF

cave in an alin world

Image by MATJAZ SLANIC via

The Promise 

The ship’s captain was gone. It was Captain Marrow now. Macy was no longer head of the kitchen staff. With her hand on the zoom finder, she watched her creation, Matadon, scrape along the edge of the rock. Its hydrogen center could ignite in an instant. The infrared screen showed the five-kilometer valley filling with layers of methane; the ship docked too close. Planet Xo53’s spectral rings of turquoise and cobalt wrapped an impenetrable field that had barricaded the ship. But she’d been promised a passage through. She’d seen Earth. It was the dream’s message. 
Matadon had to survive long enough to retrieve the quartz inside the cave and return to the ship before the first star set. The quartz guaranteed a lift out of here. It was a race against the methane seeping across the surface, a race they might not win.

A luminescent orb passed Matadon and returned to the ship. Her ship. Queen of the castle. The luciferin orbs were a precaution, proving there was still oxygen inside the cave. She caught her reflection, the slip of a human, breathing recycled air since her team’s journey began a decade ago. Unable to sleep, the hours and days had blurred. Eleven crew members were gone.

 The dreams had started before that, and ever since traveling through this system, she’d been able to dream awake. It wasn’t only dreams that came to her and kept her company. Ideas materialized: maps, blueprints for creating the reconnaissance orbs, and Matadon, what she named the fuel wrapped in silica. Just like cooking, the silica fibers she’d ripped from the barren galley, implicitly following the instructions, soldered with cobalt and nickel, an amorphous shape took form. Standing over twelve feet tall, once animated, Matadon could take commands. Hydrogen shifted through its sinuous reeds, erecting the branch of a neck she’d circled in lenses so that nothing snuck up on her. Having Matadon around kept her from giving up.

Her curiosity and the awake dreams held her hypnotized, punching code, traveling the direction presented, which was here. The promise. Having run out of supplies days ago, an echo drifting by had boarded and tried to kill her. She and Matadon captured the distortion into a magnetic cylinder before it settled into the carbon walls. Without a protective seal to cover the ship, the unseen world often passed through and tried to stick around. Or take crew members one by one.

Matadon stopped. Captain Marrow pushed up to the screen. “What’s happening down there?” All she could see were crystalized rocks. She dialed closer. Matadon lifted an appendage, a positive sign confirming quartz inside the fissure. Another dream that had proven accurate. Enough to jump-start the ship and return home, she hoped.

Light streaked across the screen. Matadon smashed against the rock and disappeared into the fissure. She slammed her hand on the console, eyes tracking back and forth. Now, she had to go down there. Storming out of the control room, she marched down the narrow passage and into the antechamber, a dozen bio-orbs circling, and stepped into the circle. The suit rose and sealed around her body. She picked up the Torc, a spike with a two-meter hook at one end, and strode to the platform, an orb at each shoulder, descended to the first level, and passed through the light frequency that would camouflage her from the spooks, a frequency that should last as long as it took to bring Matadon back.

The elevator grated to a stop and Captain Marrow departed. She crossed the metal platform scattering the phantasms proliferating weightlessness, capped the headgear, and extended the bridge. Ninty meters below, cobalt waves circled. She crossed the bridge, legs apart, distancing the rivets careful not to create friction, and met the rock’s edge. Crouching over, she peered inside. No sign of Matadon. Not even a blip on her palm tracker. She turned to the orbs. “You’re with me.” She still had to gather enough quartz to take her home.

 As she entered the cave, a magnetic field tugged at her suit dragging her inside. Her eyes, obscured by the gray shield, traced the walls glistening with quartz. “Matadon!” she called before turning to a ripple of her reflection. Hand out, she moved forward, the ripples enveloping her fingers and arm, and she stepped through, orbs at her side. She called out again for Matadon. An image of reedy grass flickered ahead. Then she heard water and turned to a rushing creek, budding cherry trees, magnolias, and oaks in the distance. There was a familiar school. She’d seen this all before, in a dream. It was her life on Earth. So far removed from her memories, it had become a dream.

 Her crew members had said they knew the way home, but she knew another way. She saw the promise. Stuck in the galley without a voice, her future and future’s future stripped away; the ship drifted. 

 Captain Marrow staggered forward. “Matadon!” She stopped. Matadon’s sheath was at her boots. She lifted the cobalt-infused silica and gazed at the cave opening. Was this the promise? Only the mirage of Earth? She wasn’t a specter in a make-believe world. She was human, flesh and blood. Dreams weren’t real.

 But she needed the quartz. Wrenching around toward the cave's wall, she recalled the ghost ship, the spirits, the thoughts seeping into hers and Matadon’s. She dropped the sheath and raced for the opening, carelessly rubbing the rivets together, and the valley ignited beneath her feet, below the ship, and everywhere all at once. She entered the ship. Untethered the spacesuit and returned to her position behind the controls.

 She’d forgotten the quartz! Before there was time to settle over her advancing loneliness, a familiar revenant sat beside her, then another in the seat to the rear. Each seat filled with all eleven crew members circling the cockpit, including Captain Warton.

 “Marrow,” he said, slipping over her transparent body. “Get to your position. We’re going home.”

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Monthly Posts?

 Who has time for much more?  

I'm sure your plate is full with reading obligations, reading for pleasure needs, and reading to learn a new system or appliance. I will blog as much as I'm capable of while running a busy jazz club with my husband and being the in-house floral designer--and making sure to prepare the fresh guacamole Thursday through Sunday. But I NEED to write. 

Ever since COVID, my life has taken a drastic hit in writing time and for the last couple of years I was up before heading to the club to write write write, and yes, I did burn out. I took the month of March off to pause my early morning writing sessions, (first time in ten years!) to have a little space for the family business and family mental health issues. 

What I've discovered as I return to writing--not every morning, is that I have more support for me. More energy, and air to breathe because I'm making sure I'm doing what I love. I've always had to adjust my craft to fit into my family life in other artistic pursuits. Writing is flexible. I have that. And I can set my own hours. However, I must stay disciplined to get it all done and hopefully, I'll remain healthy enough to do so along with my various obligations.  

Turns out, I'm tenacious AF. Haha. I'll keep at this writing game. Adjust as needed. Try multiple genres and short stories. Anywhere my imagination leads. That's what I find joyful, creating out of a dreamscape and making it appear real. Writing fiction is a dream. 

But I may only blog once a month. 

Check back now and again for free short stories in the tab above!

flower bouquet in glass bowl in front of window at ZINC BAR
Today at Zinc Bar
flower bouquet
Bouquet behind the Zinc Bar

Photo pf Billy Holiday on mantel with white flowers.