“Passengers had a water leak an hour ago.” The air suddenly seemed to sharpen.
Water had been critical to interstellar travel from the beginning. Reclamation tech had never lived up to its promise, and building craft with large enough water supply tanks proved too expensive for most. So, ships like the Pinoche carried less water, relying on carefully planned stops along the route to collect ice.

A Recent Writing Exercise: Beach Prompt

Some time ago I pulled this prompt from Writer’s Digest University’s “Showing Character Emotion“. As an exercise I recently wrote a snippet in response.  It resonates with me because of the beach experiences of my childhood. The snippet is in draft form; I’ll be returning at some point to polish it by convey more emotion, directly and indirectly.

“Create a character who’s favorite place is the beach. Describe her thoughts as she stands on the sand and looks out at the ocean; use specific, imaginative, and active verbs.”

My response:
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Although incredibly clean, like the rest of the ship, the floor in the corridor showed its age with scuff marks and scratches, the kind paint doesn’t hide.  As she strode along, the worn metal grating beneath her feet rattled occasionally.  Kaylah tipped her head back to examine the conduits running overhead behind a series of grates.  Several were taped together with what looked like duct tape.

“A budget ride is a budget ride,” a family friend had warned as they said their last goodbyes back on Earth.  He had added earnestly, “but it will get you there in one piece.  The captain’s a good man.”

“Whatever that means,” Kaylah thought.  She pulled her coat tighter.  The air smelled musty but better than in the passenger rec area.   On any given day, when too many of the unwashed crammed into the converted cargo hold… Her nose crinkled in disgust.  She understood the need for limited water rationing, but she didn’t have to like it.

The arguments people in Christian circles propose for not pledging allegiance to our flag and our country are specious.

Some talk of divided loyalties – how pledging allegiance to the flag and country has us impossibly serving two masters.

Others talk about allegiance being contrary to our faith in Christ, defining it as acting out one’s duties to his lord, as loyalty and faithfulness, as constant commitment to further its object’s good name and cause.

Still others object as meaningless the phrase “Under God” or pledging to an inanimate object (the flag).

All three arguments are all somewhat plausible – but wrong.

A road dead-ended quietly into a drab yellow stone plaza.  Several structures of the same dusty dingy yellow stone, hundreds of years old, surrounded the plaza.  Footfalls raised stale puffs of dust with each step.

To the east in the gloom stood doors to an old frayed church huddled against its larger looming neighbor.  It was also made of the stone, but the thick, tall doors rose in dark wood gleaming despite the dust in the growing dark.

The air around lay dry and still.  No wind blew, no breeze teased the dust.

The entrance reached over their heads.  At a glance, the dark doors were at least nine feet.  A pediment of sorts crawled and curled and curved its way up and over the doors in a half-moon arc.  Inside the pediment’s half-moon shined defiantly two quarters of stained glass, like slitted eyes of a baleful being staring out from the church.

I wasn’t standing in the Oval Office when it happened.  Those upper echelons don’t know I exist.  Didn’t, I mean.

I bet it was quite a shock, though – a hologram appearing out of nowhere just to the right of the Resolute desk?  I would have loved to have seen the expressions on their faces.  Did they think it a prank?  Did they disbelieve their eyes for a split second?

You know bureaucrats.  It took them way too long to figure out it was real – the message and the alien.

If the figure hadn’t been dressed in high fashion – as in Milan – would it have been so incongruous?

She didn’t seem like the girl he remembered from college.  She hesitated just a little, an almost indiscernible pause, each time before she spoke.  Her only unguarded moment came when she met his wife for the first time.  Her face lit up, and she smiled in delight.

She calmed slightly as she greeted T.

They all sat back down at the bar, H. standing between the two women.

He gestured at the bartender to order his wife a drink, and picked up his own glass, idly twisting it as he watched the others.

Her face expressed a calm warmth, and she was back to the slight hesitation before she spoke.  She spoke clearly, in a low voice, unhurried.

The girl he remembered could babble on for hours.