The Rescue Mission

Download and listen to the Audio version of The Rescue Mission And enjoy the new sound effects.

Special thanks to Kevin Cummings for the mention of Great Hites on his podcast
Short Cummings

Prompt From Creative Writing Prompts at http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/ Prompt # 261

Create a Story inspired by a line in the Margaret Atwood Poem. “We are learning to make fire.”


The Rescue Mission

“When you sign up for the rescue corps you do if for a reason. You do it because you, have a drive to help people. You do it because you have a need to see new places. You could even do it because you need that thrill of going into an unknown environment. But most people do it to get away. Or at least that is why I did it. To get away from all but a small group of humans. We have very large ships, large enough to accommodate large portions of a colony if need be, but for most of the time when we get there, there are so few survivors that they can live in their own section of the ship without ever really seeing us, or worse their are no survivors and we pick up a few pieces of their lives to take back to the central planets for them to analyze and figure out what went wrong and if it is safe to send a new group of colonists out there to start over again.”
“Don’t get me wrong I like people. I can’t imagine being without other humans for longer than a couple of months, but the inner planets are so crowded, and the outer ones are so rough, I needed to find an in between, where I could find time to be alone with the modern amenities, and just enough human contact to not get lonely. Besides I like the work I do.”
Joseph shut off the recording he had made almost a year ago when they left dock for the third outer most planet. The settlement had sent a desperate message and being nearly half a light year away from the inner system, the fastest of the three rescue ships, the aptly named Pegasus, had been dispatched. Nine months later they arrived to find only a crater where the colony had been.
At first it had not been clear what had happened, but as the Pegasus hung in low orbit around the planet, it became painfully obvious. The planets slow moving moon was raining down on her mother.
The Pegasus was a fast ship, or at least she was fast in open space. But, with her great size she was not fast in getting out of orbit. When the moon rounded the far side of the planet, they had been in orbit for two days and most of the crew was beginning to come down off the high of getting to a new world and the possibility of a real rescue mission. Before they realized what was happening the collision alarms began to sound as first fist sized, then whole body sized and then mountain sized chunks of the moon slammed into them. The Pegasus’s hull didn’t have a chance, and with the damage the engines were quickly overwhelmed. The captain had even attempted to fire the star drive, which was strickly forbidden in close proximity to a planet because it would suck up a good portion of the atmosphere, in place of the stellar gases it would normally use.
“When you sign up for the rescue corps you…” he paused the recording and deleted the rest of the message, then hit the record button again. “Don’t expect to need to be rescued.” He paused it again and looked out at the ruin that was the ship. “Three days ago, thirty-two of us crash landed on this forsaken planet, nineteen of us are left. Most of the ones that were lost mercifully died almost immediately in the crash. The few that hung on wished they had not, as most of the medical supplies had been lost, scattered uselessly across the jungle a thousand miles away. Pause recording.”
“Joseph?”
“Yes.”
“Did you get the dish aligned?” The com officer was one of the people that Joseph had wished to get away from.
“Yes, sir. just the way you instructed. But without exact coordinates we could be beaming the message off into deep space.”
“I am painfully aware of that. You know you should probably not be using the ships power to record a message, we might need that.” He said closeing the gap between them. “Or at least not when other people are around. I personally don’t care but others might say you are wasting our resources.”
“Right sir,” He said in what he hoped was a respectful manner.
“Look I know you don’t care for me, but we did just crash land on a planet, and well we don’t have a lot of supplies, and power is one of those supplies. I am keeping a message journal too, but I am not doing it when other people are around and can see me using one of our precious supplies.”
“Understood.”
“Good.” He walked off and rejoined the main group.
*******
“Thirty three days ago we crash landed. I waited until now because I wanted to give one day for each of the people on the ship. They are not all dead, but I think everyone deserves a little respect. Our supplies are holding out well, but our sister ship the Mercury was on the other side of the system when they got our message, and she is not nearly as fast as the Pegasus. We will have a very long wait here. Two more people have died, one from eating a poisonous fruit, and one from a bite of some cute looking but obviously venomous creature. We are still doing alright, although not living in the comfort we are used to.”
*******
“Day forty-five. This might be my last recording as, yesterday after a particularly large chunk of the moon crashed down on the planet, the remains of the ship was deemed unsafe for living. We have begun the construction of huts. Our supplies are holding out well but we are starting to run low on cooking fuel. We might have to resort to fires from the local flora soon.”
*******
“I am back. And I have managed to get away from the group for a while and sneaked into the ship. It has been seventy-five days since we crash landed here. The com officer says that he picked up a faint message from the mercury telling us to keep our spirits up. I think he is lying but no matter. We are finding food, to mix with our supplies, but most of it has an odd metalic taste. And we have nearly exhausted the cooking fuel.”
*******
“Day One hundred and forty-five. A week ago the hull of the ship collapsed with another quake. The captain believes that the moon is still collapsing and falling on the planet. I was able to pull this out of the wreckage and find a small power supply for it. This will be my last message, as I want the memory of this to last until the Mercury gets here, even if we don’t. Our food supply was lost in the quake and we have resorted to local vegetation and the few animals we know to be edible. We also ran out of cooking fuel, but we are learning to make fire. It is almost like we were the cavemen of Earth those many thousands of years ago.”

Creative Commons License
The Rescue Mission by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

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Ten Reasons

We had a 50/50 split on the votes for this one and the challenge story. Thank you Joseph.

Download and listen to the Audio version of Ten Reasons

Prompt from http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/ prompt # 301

Come up with 10 good reasons why you should not write your life story.

Bad Things
By: Joseph Santos

There is man reasons that I should not write my life story. I cannot think of anyone who would want to read something as depressing as my life. But foremost, in knowing my life, you may come to know the end of yours. In saying that, you may not want to read further.

Since you’re here despite my warning, let’s not be strangers, you should know the name of the man who might bring him to your door. My name is Dillon Stevens, I have spent a long, hard 20 years in this world. I came into this world like most anyone, with some exceptions. My mother raised me on her own for as long as she could, eventually I ran away at 16. I am sure you have already began to pass judgment on me. If I were in your shoes I would too… what I would give to be in your shoes, I am tired of mine, they hurt.

My mother did the best she could for me. At times working many jobs just to make sure we had a place to live and food to eat, we even had enough to get a radio so I could catch my favorite shows. She always told me that I was special, as good mothers do. When she was around she gave me the love that all children in this world deserve. For that, I love my mother dearly. Not a day goes by where I am not lost in the thoughts of what could have been if things were normal.

My life began to change when I was 10 years old. I was going to school, like any other day. My mother was getting ready to leave for her shift at the dinner 4 miles down the road. She would walk, we couldn’t afford a car. As she was leaving she did as she always did. She stopped and said, “You be a good boy Dilly and do as you’re told. I won’t be home when you get home from school. Mary is sick today so Johnny is letting me pickup her shift.”

“Ok Mama. Have a good day.”

She kissed me and started walking down the road.

Twenty minutes later the bus arrived. There was a new bus driver, a kind-faced young woman of about 25 driving the bus. There was about 5 or 6 kids on the bus already. She pulled to a stop and opened the door. I walked to the door of the bus and stopped. She then asked, “Yuh comin to school son?”

I stopped, something wasn’t right, something wouldn’t let my feet go any further.

She said, “Well, you comin or ain’t ya? We gotta get a move on.”

That is when I saw him, for the first time I can remember. Sitting against the window in the back of the bus. It seemed as if time stopped, the color and happiness of the morning had been sucked away. Everything seemed dark, like the sun had taken a break and the moon stepped in while it was away. Then everything faded to complete darkness.

The next thing I remember is sitting on the front porch again, my mother hugging me tightly weaping. I pushed back and asked, “What’s wrong Mama? Get off me!”

Through the tears and hesitating breath she said, “I can’t believe your alive! I thought I lost you. Why didn’t you get on the school bus? They told me what happened just as I was gettin’ to the dinner. Johnny drove me straight to the river, we got there as they were pulling the…” her voice broke, I could feel her tears rain down on me as she held me tight. “They were pulling them out from the river one at a time. We waited, I couldn’t watch. Johnny told me you weren’t there. That they pulled everyone out and you weren’t there. Johnny drove me home an’ you where right where I left ya.”

She gripped me tight, as if she would lose me if she let go. Still not understanding what she told me, I pushed back and said, “Mama, get off me, I don’t know what you’re saying. Why are you crying, what’s wrong?”

She said, “I don’ know how to tell you this son, a boy your age shouldn’t have to hear such things. The bus driver musta made a bad turn and the bus rolled into the river. Everybody…” her voice struggled, “Everybody on the bus has gone to be with God now son.”

“There…there dead?” I replied.

“Yes Dilly, I…” she broke again.

It was like being in a bad dream. What happened? Why didn’t I get on the bus? Who was that in the back, no grownups besides the driver were ever on the bus. It looked like he was smiling at me.

From that day forward everything was different. We never once again mentioned the bus or what happened. Any time I would ask about that day my mother would be visibly disturbed and would rapidly tell me to give them my respect by not mentioning them and letting them be in peace.

In thinking that I had perished with the rest of the children on my bus, my mother lost a bit of herself. No longer was she the brightness that greeted each day. Now she was paranoid of everything. She decided it would best that I be kept home and not send me off to school. She would say, “When I was lil’ we never went to no school, Ma an’ Pa taught us everything we needed to know to get by in life an’ to get us ready for the next.”

It wasn’t what I wanted, but at that age it wasn’t going to be about what I wanted, Mama’s words were law.

Mom took up doing laundry for folks out of the house so we could still have a place to live. I would help her to make the time pass. It paid some bills, but it wasn’t enough to keep the electricity running or to pay for much food.

The next winter was brutally cold. The kind of cold that pierces through to the very marrow of your bones. No walls nor roof nor clothing was going to deny this cold entry. I was stricken with a fever, my mother tried for two days to break it with no luck. Fearing that my body could not take much more, she finally gave in and had to bring me to the hospital in town. She had to walk down to the dinner to get Johnny to drive us. I was admitted and within a day thanks to the wonders of modern medicine my fever broke.

The next morning I was released from the hospital. We were in the lobby, my mother was talking to the doctor, thanking him for all he did. As we turned to leave, I noticed someone standing in the corner. I looked over, it was him, the man that I had seen two years earlier sitting in the back of the school bus, standing there, smiling at me. No darkness this time. He had a look of intent, but smiling at me. It was a look my Mama told me I get when I was thinking of something bad to do. Startled and alarmed I turned toward my mother and almost in a shouting voice said, “Mama! I saw that man on the school bus the day it crashed! I thought everyone on the bus died!”

I turned back to point and there was only an empty corner. Concerned my mother got down to eye level with me and said, “Who did you see Dilly? What did he look like? You never said nothin’ bout no man Dillon.”

My mother rarely called me Dillon. It was reserved for two occasions, when I was either in trouble or if she really wanted my attention.

I said, “There was a man sitting in the back of the bus, I think he smiled at me. I don’t know why he was on there.”

“He was on the bus? Did anyone else see him?”

“I guess so, I don’t know, he was on there before my stop.”

“What did he look like? Did he say anything?”

“No, he was just there, smiling. He had dark hair and light eyes. He looked like he could have been family.”

What happened next was then frightening to me. She had a sudden look of panic. Frantically she grabbed me by the wrist and we ran to the front desk. My mother began pleading with the nurse to get every one out of the hospital, that people were going to die. She kept saying, “He’s here, ya have to leave now! Get them all out, please!”

The nurse said, “Ma’am, if you don’t leave now we will call the police. Please, we don’t want any trouble, there are sick people here, you have to leave.”

After this my mother grabbed me again and we hurried from the hospital. She would not look at me or answer any of my questions. Looking up I saw that she had tears streaming from her face, though in this cold they seemed to freeze instantly.

No sooner than we reached the sidewalk by the hospital that there was a thunderous explosion. Brick and glass seemed to be coming from everywhere. From inside what was remaining of the hospital came a sound that still haunts my dreams to this day. The cries of dozens of people pleading for help.

Though I could see no faces through the dust smoke and flame, it was all too obvious what was happening. They came to be healed only to be leaving there, but not on their feet.

My mother was sitting on the frozen ground with her head in her hands, she was bleeding from her face where a shard of glass grazed her, she was repeating herself over and over, “I tried to tell her, why didn’ she listen to me?”

The fire truck showed up, but only to be greeted by the sounds of collapsing ruble and crackling fire. The cries of those who were in torment within the ruins were all in silence now.

Later a fire fighter told me that it looked as if one of the boilers exploded setting off a chain reaction of other explosions nearly leveling the entire structure.

After that day, my mother never spoke again. The rescue worker told me this can happen when people witness something as traumatic as what we saw that cold day. He asked if there was anyone that I could call to stay with us a couple of days while my mother came to. I lied.

They took us home, after that day, it was my job to take care of things. My mother never spoke much less make eye contact with me. I miss what she used to be. Now it was almost like living with a stranger.

For two years I was now responsible for keeping a roof over our head. I took in clothes and cleaned them. I fed and cared for myself and my mother. No parent would ever ask that of their child, but she didn’t have to. When she was herself, she showed me a love that I now have in myself. I love her so I had to do what she would have done for me.

The spring of my twelfth year I awoke to a knock on the door. Answering in my pajamas I was now face to face with him. He stood there, calm, a slight smile. Hair slicked back, looking as if a new coat of Dapper Dan had just been applied. He reached out a hand as if to shake mine.

I pulled back, but unable to move my feet, unable to breath. I could not utter a word. Standing there, not wavered by my lack of courtesy, still bearing a smile. He spoke in a voice that did not belong with someone that looked like him. It was raspy and low, he said, “I am here for what is mine.”

He put his hand on my shoulder. I felt as if my life left me. I blacked out, awaking in a field of green. There was a soft breeze, I felt warm and happy, carefree.

I don’t know how long I was out for, but I awoke to find the sheriff there and an ambulance. There was a medic rolling a gurney with what looked someone sleeping with the sheet pulled over their face. The sheriff sat next to me and said, “Son, are you alright? What are you doing out here?” Shouting to the medic, “Hey, the boy is over here! He’s alive, but he don’t look so swell!”

I was about 20 feet from the front door of my house leaning against a tree. I could feel something warm rolling over my face, I touched it, it was bright red. I had never seen so much of my own blood before. I felt dizzy and nauseous, I vomited on the sheriff’s shoes.

He said, “Come on son, we need to get you looked at.”

“Where’s mama at?”

“I don’t know how to tell ya this son, but we don’t know where your Mama is. What happened here?”

“You don’t know where she is!? She was in the back room like always! Where is she!?”

“She isn’t there now, we don’t know where she went, from the looks of things she left.”

“How could she leave!? She couldn’t have left! And if she did, why didn’t she take me?”

“I’m sorry, but she ain’t here and it looks like she packed her bags and left right quick. You’re gonna have to calm down.”

“What happened? Who’s that the medic has?”

“Enough questions for right now. We will find out what happened, for now lets get that head of yours looked at.”

The medic sat me on the bumper of the wagon, checking my eyes and the cut on my head. He said, “You took one hell of a shot boy, but you’re ok.” He bandaged my head and cleaned the blood from my face.

I looked over my shoulder, the sheet had slipped away from the face of the person laying on it, it was him. I jumped to my feet and had ended up about 10 feet from the wagon, I shouted, “Thats him! Thats the man! What did he do to my Mama!?!”

The sheriff grabbed me as I went into a sobbing fit. He said, “Come on son, lets get you out of here while we sort this out.”

He put me in his car and we left as other deputies were showing up. Riding away I fell asleep laying on the back seat.

I awoke to a smell that had not passed my nostrils in what felt like an eternity. Breakfast. I was in a warm bed with soft sheets. The room was bright, it had to be about ten in the morning. The sun coming in fully through my window. My head was throbbing where the cut was.

Thoughts of the night previous coursed my head, adding to the throbbing sensation. Was my mother hurt? Why would she just leave me there on the ground bleeding? How could she leave, she couldn’t even dress herself? What am I going to do? I don’t have anyone.

I look around, to my right sitting in a chair, the sheriff. He said, “Didn’t think you were gonna wake up any time soon. My name is Emmit Hardy, I am the town sheriff. How are you feeling son?”

“My head hurts sir. Do you know what happened my Mama?”

“We haven’t found her yet, but my boys are still looking.”

“What happened to that man? Did he hurt my Mama?”

“It don’t look that way. We found him layed out in the front door way. Don’t look like anything happened to him, he just up and died. Enough about this right now, Mrs. Hardy made you some breakfast, we can talk more later.”

I ate like a animal who hadn’t seen food in a week. Mrs. Hardy sat there and smiled at me, giving an occasional look of concern over at Sheriff Hardy.

After I ate enough to fill a small army, we left and went to the sheriff’s office in the middle of town.

After sitting behind his desk and motioning for me to sit he said, “It looks like your Mama was running from someone. It looked like she packed all her clothes and left out the back quick like. Did your Mama have a automobile?”

“No sir, we couldn’t afford a car.”

“Do you know the man that we found at your house?”

“No sir, I don’t know him.” I didn’t want to tell him about seeing him before on the bus and at the hospital. I had a feeling that I would some how get in trouble for not telling anyone before.

“Hmm, well, did you see if that man had a car?”

“No sir, I didn’t see if he had a car.” How do you explain someone that just shows up when things are going to go horribly wrong?

“Well, I want you to be close till we figure out what happened. You are gonna stay with Mrs. Hardy and I for a few days. We still have our boys clothes from when they were your age.”

“Why can’t I go get my clothes?”

“My deputies are still looking your house over with a fine tooth comb, we better let them do their work and we can think about going back there later.”

I don’t know if he knew I would never be going back there, but it wouldn’t be until after I ran away that I would step foot into that house again.

Ten Reasons
By Jeff Hite

“Peter, you have got to be crazy,” Michael slammed his hand down on the table so hard the coffee cups shook. “The very idea scares me.”
“Michael, relax it was just an idea, and besides why not.” He picked up his cup and wiped the bottom off with his napkin, he repeated the operation with Michael’s cup and hailed the waitress to bring them more. “You have lead an interesting life, people might enjoy reading about it.”
“An interesting life, is that what you call it?”
“Yes, it has been,” and here he hesitated too long from Michael’s comfort, “Interesting.” He said finally. The waitress left more coffee and creamer on the table, but made it clear that there would be little more that she would do without them ordering something else. Fifteen percent of two seventy-five cent cups of coffee, was not worth the work she had already put in to them. “Ok so you don’t want to do that, lets see what we can come up with.”
“I can give you ten good reasons why I should not write my life story” he said stirring four packets of sugar into his coffee.
“Michael, You don’t have to…” But Michael interrupted him.
“Jane, Shara, Julie, the other Jane, Martha, Tina, Tamara, Heather, Veronica, and Sue.” As he said the names of the women he had dated, he ticked them off on his fingers.
“That is it? Your ten reasons are nine ex-girl friends and one current one? That is nothing Peter, lots of people have a string of ex’s epically in this day in age.” His twang was starting to bug Michael. It always did, ever since he had moved to the south he pretended that he talked like them.
“No, that is only reason number one.”
“Ok so tell me more. I bet you ain’t got nine more.”
“You’re on. Looser buys,” He said hailing the waitress and pointing to the Steak and Eggs on the menu.
“I’ll have one of those too,” Peter said with a smile. They waited in silence until she was gone.
“You know her brother,” Peter nodded, “he is in jail, and I put him there.”
“What? how, you ain’t no sheriff.”
“You don’t have to be. Three years ago, I caught him and a couple of his buddies holding up the seven eleven in Jamestown. They were pretty stupid about it. They didn’t even clear the store out before for they did it. There I was sitting behind the coffee machine using their WiFi, and in walk these two characters. So I turned on the web cam and turned it so it could see them, then ducked behind the counter. You remember that time I said I had jury duty?” Peter nodded and sipped his coffee, “Well I was actually a secret witness. What I didn’t know was
that her brother, is part of a huge gang that tends to bump off informants. That’s two.” He said with a smile across his face.
“Yeah two, you said you had ten. So cough up the other eight.” Their food came and they ate in silence for a couple of minutes.
“Right,” He said around a mouth full of steak. “Martha.”
“Now you can’t go using her twice.” Peter interrupted.
“Fine take her off the list. There are still eight other Ex girlfriends on it. Besides she is not really an Ex, she is dead.”
“What? I suppose after those last two you told me, you are going to tell me you killed her.”
“No,” He took a long drink from his coffee and then continued.
“She worked for the FBI or the DEA or ATF or one of those, she would never really be straight with me. She was the one who was assigned to protect me while I was testifying, they killed her three days after the trial was over.”
“I didn’t know I’m sorry,” Peter said, not looking up at him.
“Thanks, but It was a while ago. I still miss her and all, but… Anyway that is three.”
“Look we don’t have to keep doing this. You have some good reasons.” His fake accent had gone away and he was back to normal
mid-western muddle.
“No I promised you ten you get seven more. They are not all so bad.”
“Are you sure?” Peter asked.
“Yeah, you know mom’s favorite silk blouse?”
“The one she wore every chance she got?” Michael nodded, “Yeah I remember it.”
“You know why it was her favorite?”
“Probably because it was the only one she ever had. What ever happened to it?”
“I did.”
“You did?”
“Yup. I tried to wash it for her, and shredded the thing. It was an accident, but I could not tell her. It was from Aunt Margret Mallory.”
“The witch?”
“That is the one. She had cast a spell on it and when it got shredded it released mom from the spell. But if anyone ever found out that mom was not still under the spell, Aunt Margret Mallory would cast a much worse one on her.”
“What kind of spell was it?”
“You don’t want to know. Mom and Margret Mallory are still both alive. I want to keep it that way. That is four.”
“You don’t really believe all that stuff about her being a witch do you?”
“If I do or don’t it does not matter, She does and so does mom, and that is still number four.”
“You gents be having anything else?” The waitress spoke to them the first time since they had come in.
“Yes,” Peter Said, “my brother and I have a bet going on here. loser buys so since I don’t think he is going to win, I will be having a slice of that apple pie.” The twang was back.
“Same here.” Michael echoed this time imitating his brothers voice.
Peter shot him a look but only said, “You better get going brother. You owe me six more.”
“The Twilight Zone. Five. Six is…”
“Now wait a minute,” Peter broke in, “What about The twilight Zone.”
“Come on, I would not want to ever come to the end for the fear that it would be. I would just keep writing on this forever.”
“You are weird.”
“that can be number six.”
“What?” Now it it was Peters turn to get upset. “What do you mean?”
“I’m weird, that can be number six.”
“I Think that hardly counts, because you are different is why people would want to read about you. You have things that other people don’t. They don’t want to read about people just like themselves.”
“Yeah I head what you are saying but I am not different, I am weird, and people want to read about weird people only in stories, this would not be a story, it would be real life.”
“Alright I will give that one to you but no more freebies, from now on.”
“Fair,” and they shook hands over the table. “Alright then, number seven,” he said drawing out the last word and rubbing his chin.
“Your wallet is going to be lighter, Michael, I can tell.”
“I am just trying to decide which one to tell you first. I have it now. I hate the NASA Original seven.”
“What? Why?”
“They had those space suits that look like sliver duct tape stuck to them. With the hoses and their refrigeration units, and their perfect hair cuts. They were too perfect, hell John Glen is still too perfect, they remind the rest of us that we can never be like them. The are real life Super heroes and we can never be like them. I hate that.” He paused and took a bite of his pie.
“So why would you not want to write a book because of that?”
“Because as soon as people find out about that, they would hate me. Everyone loves those guys. It would be like killing Mickey Mouse or something, and they would never read another book from me. So now number eight, the kids.”
“And why not talk about the kids? You have you great kids, people would like to know about them.”
“Yes, my kids are wonderful if I do say so myself, but I don’t want the world to know about them, there are too many weirdos out there.”
“Ok Privacy is a good one. But you would not have to include them.”
“But then that would be like writing fiction, that would not be my life story, and if I was going to skip over that I might as well skip over everything else, and then I would be telling someone else’s story.”
“Alright, alright. Nine?” Peter said pushing his plate to the center of the table and leaned as far back in the booth as he could.
“Number nine is easy. I don’t want people a hundred years from now reading it and thinking they know who I am because they read a book about me. Or English teachers, with their high and mighty attitudes telling people I meant this or I meant that when really I meant nothing of the sort. They are always doing that. They always think they know so damn much.”
“Yeah why is that? They are always telling us what Shakespeare meant or, some other dead person, when there is no way that they could have known it.” Peter Signaled the waitress. “I think we are about done here if you would not mind bringing us the check, we should know who is going pay by the time you get back.” They waited until she was gone. “So it is down to the last one. And I am willing to bet you are out of reasons.”
“No, I have one more.” Michael smiled.
“So, don’t keep me waiting.” He said leaning up against the table.
“Peter, how old are you?”
“You know exactly how old I am, one year younger than you.”
“Yeah but how old is that.” The smile on his face grew broader.
“Well lets see I was born in thirty two, and it is two thousand and eight now, that makes me one thousand nine hundred and seventy six.” his face fell and he reached for his wallet.

Creative Commons License
Ten Reasons by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Little mistake

I am sorry, I made a little mistake. If you were using the feed yesterday and got the “new” story, you will notice that it was the same one as last week. I was copy and pasting and didn’t check my work carefully enough and you got last weeks audio. My Fault. It has since been corrected, and you can now click on either link on the page to get this week’s audio. Again I am sorry!

– Jeff

Last Thursday

Download and listen to the Audio version of Last Thursday and when you do, hear the promo for Variant Frequencies

This prompt Comes from
The News From Poughkeepsie From Mur Lafferty


Scenes Thursdays:

(Some of this is true.)

I never take into account how much that can go wrong in the block I walk to pick up my child from the bus stop. I always try to remember to take with me: my dog, a weapon, a camera, and my phone. When I forget these things, I often see things like vultures fighting over the territory that surrounds a roadkill squirrel, feral, puffy, white dogs that got free after they killed their owners, or glimpses of the black bears that wander our area.

I’m just glad the school buses still run after the apocalypse. Cause protecting my kid on the walk home is about all I can handle.

“Last Thursday”

“What do you mean it happened last Thursday? I have a meeting this afternoon, and now you are telling me it is not going to happen?” Justin asked. He had rephrased the question three times now and had gotten the same response. It was obvious that Ruth was getting annoyed with him, but she was telling him was impossible.

“Justin, you are not listening to me. Last Thursday, the day that all the lights went out, that was pretty much the end of all the meetings” Ruth said putting her hands on his desk. “Look, the fact that this building is in tact is a fluke. The fact that you are still dressed for work is because you bumped your head when it happened and you have been sleeping for the last five days. You don’t have any meeting this afternoon, you don’t need to wait for IT to fix your computer, you don’t even need to check your phone for messages. It is over. The bombs went off all over the world. The best estimates are that fifty percent of the worlds population is dead already and another fifty percent of them will die in six months from radiation, disease and hunger. Justin, it is over.”

“Wait Bombs? You mean like the WMD’s?”

“Yes, now you are getting it.”

For the first time that he had real noticed her appearance. She was dirty, something that Ruth never would have been at the office. He looked around the office now, and saw that the few people that were there, were not doing the things that they normally did. Instead they were huddled in a corner talking, looking over strange bits of things that were scattered on someones desk.

“We survived a nuclear attack, that is what you are telling me?” He said finally.

“Yes. We are far enough out here that we were not hit, and there is not direct fallout coming to us. We even have power, but we don’t know how long that will last.”

“Why?”
“Because, there is no one to bring the fuel to the power station, when the coal they have is gone that is it. So they have been rationing it.”

Justin, instinctively reached for his cell phone and looked at it. There was signal to his surprise.

“That won’t work unless you are going to call someone right near here. Our tower was damaged but Josesph and Micheal were able to repair it, not that it has done us much good, without the whole system, and the satelite links all you can call is local.” John from IT said.

“Look Justin, we are all really happy that you are awake. We understand that you are confused but, we are trying to plan our next move, where to start getting food when the power goes out for good that sort of thing. So unless you have some pretty good ideas, your questions are going to have to wait” Ruth said.

“So you lied to me” Justin said with a smile.

“Huh?”

“You told me there was no meeting this afternoon.”

“Yeah, I guess I did.”
“So who is in charge, what is the topic, who is attending? Did any one bring doughnuts I am starved.”

“Justin!”

“What?”

“Listen, this isn’t like the old meetings.”

“Oh relax Ruth, without some normalcy we will all go nuts. Does anyone have a working PC? We can put some slides together” He said walking toward he group in the corner. No one replied. “Ok then, lets just get a chart so that we can draw things, I have lost most of my presenting skills with the advent of powerpoint, but I will do my best.”

They all stared at him as if he where crazy. And maybe he was, but he didn’t care. Without something to hang onto he was going to go totally over the edge, and that the moment this was the only thing he could think of.

“Joe, where is the meeting?”
“Right here.”

“Oh this will never do. Did you say the whole building was standing and safe?” He said turning to Ruth again. She nodded dumbly. “Good, tell everyone that we are going down to conference room two.”

“You can’t!” Susan from accounting said
“What? why?”

“The Children are sleeping in there.” She said.

“Oh alright, I had not thought about that being single myself. Alright, what room is available?”

“I think conference room four will work.” Said Peter. “Three has broken glass and one all the lights are out.”

“Ok four it is then. Ruth, go tell everyone who is going to be in the meeting we are going to meet in conference room four.”

“But…” she protested

“But nothing, just do it. Are there going to be any visitors?”

“Yeah we have some of the people from the town council, the ones that lived further out.”

“Ok then, we will need name tags. The last thing people want is for someone not to remember their names.” He stopped his derish of activity for a moment and thought.
“John, what is the meeting going to cover?”

“Supplies and things like that, who has what, and how many people there are, and what we should do about it.” He replied

“Good, then what we need are some lists.” He thought for another second, “Ok John, I want you and Joe to get a list of everything we have here that might be useful, don’t leave anything out, you never know what we might need. right Down to mops and brooms.”

‘We going to be sweeping the radiation up Justin,” Joe asked?

“No, but you never know what we might need.”

It turned out Justin was right. The meeting was very much like every other meeting they had all been to. there were those people that were there just to be some where, and those that had things to contribute, there were even those, who it seemed came just to be a disruption, and for them it was good that Justin had taken charge. When it was over they had lists of things to do, and people knew what they were going to be doing.

Within a week things seemed almost normal again, power was only used to keep the refrigerators running at the grocery stores, the lights on at the clinic and the gas stations running. People went to work every morning, albeit for most of them, not doing what they were used to. Things were starting to look at bit better. The supplies that we did have were being rationed and for the time being things looked ok. You had to carry more with you than you used to, just to walk to the school bus with your kids, but things were really getting back to normal.

That was before they started to go out on recon missions, and discovered that we were really alone.

Creative Commons License
Last Htursday by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Stone’s Cold

Stone’s cold

The prompt for this comes from Moderoom Press:

Imagine a Castle in Scotland
With a terrible disease
the smell of saffron fills the air
a spinster is playing a Wagner
While the Insomniac holds a candle in the dark


Download and listen to Audio for Stone’s Cold.

Hear the Promo for Short Cummings Audio

“Carol, you have got to come see this.” I said staring at the screen in disbelief. I had been on this site for over an hour, and was still in shock about the whole thing.
“Did you find us a vacation rental?” She asked as she came in the room still in her bathrobe.
“Well.”
“Steven, you said you would find something for us so that we could do this trip with the kids and not be searching e-bay for, for whatever it is you search e-bay for.”
“I know but you have got to see this.”
“What…” Her voice told me I had only seconds.
“Look, I was looking for vacation rentals. some times people list them here. Not very often, but I thought I would include it.”
“Fine, what have you found. Was about to take a shower.”
“A castle, for sale! And look at the price.” She moved in closer so she could see.
“That has got to be some sort of a joke. There is no way that is real. It has got to be like some model in Scotland, Iowa or something.”
“I don’t think so. I have e-mailed the seller and, got the GPS coordinates, it is in Scotland, and I have done some research. It is a real castle, built in 1753,” I said gesturing to the new windows I brought up. “This place appears to be real.”
“But that can’t be the selling price.”
“That is what I asked the guy. He said that if we brought the check that he would have the dead of sale. Carol at that price if we brought it only as a vacation home then we would would still be making out.”
“I still can’t believe it. There has to be some sort of a catch.”
“The only thing that he said that I don’t get is that it was a cold castle, but he said it weird, he said, and I quote,” bringing up my e-mail, “You must be warned that the castle has a cold.”
“That is a little odd. Listen I am going to take my shower. Why don’t you call the bank and find out just what it would take to buy a home in Scotland. I am with you that at that price we would be fools to pass it up.”
“That is what I said.”

*****

Two weeks later the four of us sat in the back seat of a cab, on our way to the castle. Carol and I had worked around the clock. The owner wanted to sell immediately and we had not planned to go on vacation until summer. We had to deal with banks and the Scottish government and three of the minor officials of the local government. But, the kids schools had given us the hardest time, and in the end we told them that we were going to home-school. Then there was my job, but I convinced that my boss to let me have a month off and that when I came back I could edit from anywhere.
Despite it all we were all just about giddy with the idea of seeing this place for the first time. As we neared the place, all the brochure images of Scotland filled my head, the moors, the stone fences, the sheep, the tiny little farm roads, and cottages. It took me a moment to realize that I was not imagining it. there it all was right outside the window, and not for the first time I was glad that I didn’t rent a car. There was too much to see, and I didn’t want to miss any of it.
“If you look out out the window to the right you will get a view of Stone manor through these trees in a moment,” the cabie said, “We have to weave around a bit more, so couple more minutes till we get there.”
We all plastered our faces to the window and watched. It was like a dream. The trees broke and we saw the castle. It was just like the pictures had shown. There were two towers and a low wall all the way around it. The castle proper stood in the middle and looked like something out of a story book. I could not take my eyes off it.

*****

“Welcome to Stone Manner, I thank you for coming all the way out here,” The owner was a older man, with slightly thinning hair that was grey with some flecks of brown.
“It was our pleasure,” I said.
“Well let me show you around and then we can go down to the pub, I have arranged for the Mayor to be there to over see the sale.”
“Good we are dieing to see it.”
“This way.” He lead the way into the main hall. The first the we noticed was a powerful smell of saffron that permeated the whole place. It was a pleasant smell even if a bit over powering. “We have to keep the kettle boiling with saffron so keep the cold away,” he said as if reading my mind. “Otherwise you have to break out the chicken soup.” We all laughed but he shot us a dark look.”
“What do you mean,” I asked getting the first sinking feeling since the whole process had started.
“I told you, the castle has a cold. It has for over a hundred years, and we can’t seem to cure it.”
“You mean like it has a bad draft, have you replaced windows and things like that,” Carol ask?
“No, not it is cold, it has a cold. As in it is sick. Put your ears to the stone and you can hear the wheezing, and you don’t want to be around when it it gets bad.”
I put my ear to the nearby wall not knowing what I would hear, and sure enough it sounded like some one with a cold. “How does a castle get a cold?” I asked moving away for the wall.
“Don’t worry, you can’t catch it,” He said noticing the kids and Carol with the hand sanitizer. “Stone Manner was given this cold by a nasty old woman. She was my great aunt. She and my grandmother had vied for the love of my grandfather. She lost out,” he said with a little smile. “But not to be out done, she found a magic way to give their home a cold. It took most of her life, but right after she died the castle got sick.
“You mean she cursed the place,” Carol asked?
“You could say that. But it was not like you see in the movies. She was so jealous that she spend her whole life, brewing it up. The old spinster had to sit in her room night after night listening to Wagner on her Victrola and cooking of the odd herbs. Then day after day she would bring the foul smelling stuff in a tea pot and offer tea to my grandmother. She would refuse of course and it would get dumped in the the garden right out back. The old woman would sit up all night not able to sleep, candle in hand, staring out at the manor house. It was a slow process. But now It has a cold.”
“What do you do for it,” I asked and eying Carol. I was afraid she would want out, and I was still in love with the place.
“We don’t rightly know how to cure it. That is why we are selling it. I have not live here for a few years now. I live down in village, I just have come up here during the day to build the fire up and keep the kettles on. it too much of a pain on an old man, and I have no children of my own to take care of it.”
“Can you live here,” I asked?
“Sure you can. If you don’t mind the smell of the saffron and the wheezing sound when it gets cold. Some times you can hear it through the fireplaces. But enough about this let me show the rest of the place.” He said with a smile and walked out of the main hall.

Creative Commons License
Stone’s Cold by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at GreatHites.blogspot.com.