Great Hites Prompt number 48


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This weeks prompt comes from Peter S. and is:

“And where shall we have our honeymoon”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday April 7th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Great Hites # 46

This week hear stories by:
Anima Zabaleta
Ashley Redden
Norval Joe
and
Scott Roche


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THE RAINMAKER
By:
Anima Zabaleta

I store my feelings and memories in the clouds. There, my ideas are free to float around in the atmosphere, allowing me to deal with more mundane tasks. Like what to fix for dinner. For most of my life, this system has worked fine. My happy thoughts were cumulus clouds, tall and billowing, filled with light and air, frolicking like sheep in cerulean pastures. Daydreams drifted high in the atmosphere, settling in as cirrus clouds, wispy and far away.

And morning… morning was my favorite time. My thoughts swirled like ground fog, obscuring the hard edges of day, until I slowly got organized over a cup of tea and the early news.

Then things took a turn for the worse. I lost my job, and dark nimbostratus loomed overhead for weeks. I started to drink and distance myself from my family. I drank more, and the summer I spent in Florida was unusually cold and overcast. That was noted in all the papers. It occurred to me that I might be influencing the weather patterns, so I started checking channel 13. They were blaming El Nino, but I knew the truth. Hurricane Katrina? Hmm, I was in New Orleans when I heard my parents died in the car accident.

It’s been hard, trying to shake the depression. I shouldn’t feel so lonely, being orphaned at age 36. I’m afraid of whom else I might hurt, with my dark weather disposition.

I am testing the theory that cloud memory storage works both ways… If I go to a place where there are no clouds, I should be happy, right? And be able to dissipate this ominous thunderhead that has lingered since 2005. So I am headed to the Atacama in Chile, where the annual rainfall averages a millimeter a year. If that doesn’t work, it can still be a win/win situation, I think. If my mood doesn’t lift, I will market my talents as a rainmaker. Got to look for that silver lining somewhere…

Magic and the Sword Do Not Mix
By: Ashley Redden

Gianni stumbled again, but managed to catch a bush before she fell. How many times she had stumbled and fallen, she no longer knew. She stood silent for a moment and closed her eyes. A wave of fatigue mixed with anguish washed over her. Gianni was very tired, but the emotional ache was almost too much to bear. She wasn’t sure which was worse.
After a moments rest, she opened her eyes and stole a glance down the glade, back the way she’d just come. He was still coming. A slight gasp escaped at the thought. She could not see nor hear him, but knew that he was still coming none the less. Nor was it necessary for her to elicit a finding spell. She simply knew. That flight or fight response that was so deeply embedded to be beyond conscious understanding, but there nonetheless, told her every nerve that something harmful was steadily approaching.
After a deep breath, Gianni turned and resumed her retreat up the pass. She had been moving in and out of sparse clearings in various stages of growth for the better part of the morning. There were few mature trees scattered here and there, but saplings and brush were aplenty. Gianni knew that the upper passes of the mountains, really misnamed huge hillocks that bordered her home lands, were prone to huge and destructive lightning storms. The resulting fires were ignited enough to keep the land here burned shaping the local flora.
As she continued her retreat through bramble and bush, she couldn’t help but wonder how things had come to this. Oh, her parents would cluck their tongues and say for the thousandth time that magic and the sword do not mix. But she was determined to prove them wrong. After all, Laven had been so different in the beginning. But things had changed after he and Gianni were officially joined. He had steadily become more and more violent and less interested in her as a person, but more as an object, lately it seemed more often than not, an object of scorn. Gianni had some small talent at magical healing, so she was always able to heal herself and hide the evidence from prying eyes.
The last fight had been the worst yet. Laven had worked himself to such a rage, all the while smashing their house and cursing Gianni that she had retreated to the corner and hid her face in fear. All the while Laven had blamed everything he could think of on magic folk. It seemed to go on and on.
Finally the screaming and destruction stopped and Laven seemed to regain his composure. He had turned on her then and calmly drawn his short sword. She knew that he most preferred this sword for close personal battle. Gianni shuddered. Her husband hissed between clenched teeth, “You and your kind are an evil pox upon the world. The disease must be removed. I shall begin with you”
He had smiled a killer’s smile then and crouching into a loose fighting stance advanced upon his cowering wife. He wore an almost euphoric look upon his face, but determination and death danced in his eyes. Gianni had thrown up her hands and clapping them together speaking by wrote a defensive version of the elder spell. A blinding white light had flowed from her clapped hands and engulfed the advancing Laven. She then fled as his curses followed her out of the house and beyond.
The worst part of the fight was that Gianni was still unsure as to what she had done wrong.
Magic and the sword do not mix.
Gianni remembered those fateful words as she bypassed a particularly thick swath of bramble. After she had introduced Laven to her family, her father had pulled her aside and spoken sternly, “swordsmen don’t have to think. They don’t need a brain to hack each other up, so it’s been my experience that they generally act as if they don’t have one. A lifetime of behavior as such can leave a person mentally deficient.”
He had sighed and looked at her stricken with worry, taken a deep breath and continued, “Mages, on the other hand, have to use their brains at all times. I tell you Gianni this will not work.”
She had snatched her hand away and stormed out of her parent’s home, her father’s words chasing her out the door, “magic and the sword do not mix.” Later, she was mortified that she could act like such a petulant child. Apparently love could do that to a person. Love. Who would invent such a despicable thing?
But she had been in love. She still was. That’s what made the hurt so intense, the wounds go so deep. All hurts sting, but let the one you love inflict the pain and it goes straight to the bone.
Gianni came to an open area and skirting the edge made her way to the small immature wood beyond. Though really not wood at all, but overambitious shrubs, the thicket would be sufficient for the coming conflict.
Scanning the sky, Gianni found the thunderhead almost directly above. She had become aware that she was tracking the cloud without thinking. Apparently her subconscious had gone to a place that she hadn’t allowed her thinking self to go, self preservation catalyzing a subconscious plan for survival. She knew that such clouds could build up and store tremendous electric energy under the right conditions.
Gianni fell to her knees; both hands in front upon the ground palm-up. She sighed. She just wanted to sit here and weep. Though wracked with anguish, she found that she could not cry. Gianni wanted to live.
Again she closed her eyes and wished upon any distant star that things would not be so. But after a moment, she opened them again only to see that nothing had changed.
A rugged sigh filled the thicket as Gianni concentrated and began chanting aeromancy.
As she had been taught from her earliest memory, she compartmentalized the emotions and thoughts foreign to her current task. She focused on the words, thinking of nothing but the chant. Soon, the rhythmic words were her world. Her conscious thought and will became one with the great cloud.
Within the great Gianni/thunderhead, winds began to rush downward from above and upward from below hastening the creation of the desired conditions. The air within also began to cool condensing water vapor to ice. Soon, the great Gianni/thunderhead began to bristle with restless static energy. She carefully caressed the energy, feeling and shaping the charge, harnessing and controlling the maelstrom.
With the thunderhead in check, Gianni allowed her consciousness to settle back into her corporeal body. She sat waiting patiently, eyes fixed on the far side of the small clearing. She did not have long to wait. Emerging from the brush quietly like a wraith, Laven stepped out. He stooped looking left and right casting for her spoor. Laven had always been a superior woodsman.
“Laven,” she called out. His head snapped up and their eyes locked. Both stares carried fierce determination.
“I shall run no more. Come my husband. Here, in this open place, let our haranguing be forever silenced,” spoke Gianni clearly from across the clearing not moving except for a slight quiver of her lower lip.
Laven cast a lecherous grin and answered, “Oh yes wife let us again embrace. I too would wish an end to our troubles.” Laven gazed out at the clearing as if looking upon a field of play.
“Here in this place, let us make things again right.” And saying this he swung his sword in a powerful figure eight before him and laughed aloud.
Gianni belatedly realized that he had probably not resheathed the sword, but had carried it in anticipation all the morning during his dogged pursuit. Unsolicited, a single tear left the corner of her eye and began its lonely journey down her cheek. As with most tears, this one would soon be followed by many.
Laven took a step. Time seemed to slow; Gianni reached out and touched the ambient energy within the ground and plants surrounding the clearing.
Laven took another step, then another his eyes fixed on his target. Gianni began to sort and coalesce the ambient energy with an opposite charge of that surging within the thunderhead.
Laven took another step. He was now in the center of the clearing. Gianni pushed the ambient energy she had been gathering into the advancing man with a desperate cry of force.
Laven paused and cocked his head slightly, a quizzical look upon his face. He stood stock still for just a moment, his long mane of hair rising like a wisp from his shoulders and head. Laven was battered down as a great white bolt of lightning slammed into and through his body.
Gianni screamed, “No, no, no, no, noooooo.” Still on her knees, one hand open and beckoning outstretched as the other sank into the cold dirt. She screamed and screamed as she watched her husband be beaten down by one pulsing lightning strike after the other. The assault went on for what seemed like an eternity.
Eventually the lightning barrage stopped. Amid great shuddering sobs, Gianni wept herself to sleep. The thunderhead, now depleted of magic and energy quietly drifted away.
Later, she awoke and made her way around the clearing to where she first entered. The center of the clearing now had a sizable crater that the lightning had blasted there. Gianni looked one more time upon the killing field where her doomed marriage had ended. No more tears came.
She reached a hand out and said, “goodbye my love.”
A great tired sigh escaped her as she turned and began her journey home. She idly wondered if she would ever love again. Probably she thought mechanically placing one foot in front of the other.
But one thing was for certain she vowed to herself. Forever more would she heed the words of her father.
Magic and the sword do not mix. This was a mistake she would not make again.

The Shaman
By: Norval Joe

The old man was as grey and immobile as the granite on which he sat. His eyes were a shocking blue that matched the sky on clear winter days; clear and piercing like the icy crystal pools in high mountain streams. His skin hung loosely on him, as a robe many sizes too large.
Ancient. The oldest man’s grandfather spoke of him as old. So old now, that he could not speak. Too old to raise his own hand to feed himself. Young men and women were sent from the villages to feed and care for him, and to hold his arms for him.
Every day, from spring equinox to that in the autumn, two young men came for the villages to place the staff in his weak and gnarled hands, and raise the old mans hands above his head, and hold them there.
Proud parents raised their boys to be strong and patient and prepared to raise the old mans hands. Boys and young men of all ages could be found as they walked from place to place, with their hands above their heads, holding a staff, increasing in strength and endurance, hoping to one day be selected to raise the old man’s hands.
He sat on the granite ridge one thousand feet above the villages of the fertile plain. As he sat, hands folded neatly in his lap, he scanned the summer sky. As always, it remained clear and blue and still.
Young women, pure and chaste, fed him each morning, he didn’t require much to sit and watch the sky. They brought him water and washed and trimmed his hair. They brought blankets for him when it was cold, and shaded him from the heat of the summer.
And each day, two young men; young, though physically mature; knelt at each side. Supporting elbow and wrist, they raised the old mans hands and staff over his head.
And held them there. Sometimes, they needed only hold them mans arms for a short period, but more often the task reached an hour or more.
As the arms were raised, the wind would rise in concert. The young men would lean into the wind to maintain their hold on the old man and his staff. With the wind, as it crossed the broad plain below, came clouds, boiling up to block out the sun and cast the earth into darkness; and rain.
The deluge was sudden and complete, creeks and rivers swelling and overflowing their banks. The old man with his attendants holding fast, chilled by the sudden downpour, searched the distant horizon, for the sign. Finding a break in the clouds, the afternoon sun peaked though, and the old man sighed; the cue to his young assistants that the days task was complete and they may relax.
Lowering arms and staff, the young men got to their feet, the clouds thinning suddenly and blowing away, leaving in its wake as sodden stillness, pristine and new. The young women came out to assist the young men. They worked together to dry the old man and help him into a clean robe.

Magic Quadrant Part II
By: Scott Roche

Lisor gripped the arms of the captain’s chair tightly. While not as strong as Vulcans, his people did possess more strength and agility than humans. He was able to keep his seat in spite of the pitching and yawing. His emotions ran high, but he reined them in.

“Status report Mr. Singh.” He had put the ship on red alert as soon as the odd readings were picked up by the sensor package, so their shields were up and all weapons were online. Unfortunately almost as soon as he did so, they temporarily lost helm control.

The helmsman regained her seat quickly and rain one fine boned hand through her blue-black hair. “Control has been restored. All systems are within normal parameters. What was that sir?”

The small readout on the arm of the chair wasn’t as good as the viewfinder at his station, but until he felt sure that there would be no more unusual movement he elected to stay put. He consulted it closely. “That’s not clear yet. Mr. Travis what do you have to tell me?”

Travis checked the navigation console. “Readings are… odd sir.” There was a slight twang in his voice, accentuated by tension. “The star field doesn’t conform to our last known position. Trying to get a fix on where we are.” His fingers flew over the buttons.

There had been no word from the captain since the incident. Lisor triggered a button near his hand. It brought up a status report echoing what Singh had to say. The hull was intact. Medical reported no current injuries, though they were still waiting on certain non-critical areas to report in. All duty stations were manned and functional. Life support was online. Satisfied that nothing was going to blow up in the next minute, he got up and walked over to the science station. “Lieutenant Banks, contact the captain. Pipe all reports to the readout in his quarters.”

The communications officer nodded. “Yes sir.”

Bluish-white light from his viewfinder played over Lisor’s skin. Data streams confirmed that they weren’t in the same sector that they had been in only moments before. There was still no clear information on where they were exactly. He played back the sensor readings from just before the incident. All of the input from hundreds of sensitive instruments flowed into the holographic memory banks at the core of the ship. Far superior to the “cloud storage” used hundreds of years ago, these databanks could take that and feed it back to him massaged to his liking in what might as well have been real time. The computing power at his command dwarfed that of what was available to some star systems. Still nothing in front of him could tell him what happened. There was so much they didn’t know.

He banged his fist on the console in frustration. With a huff, he stood and looked over at Banks. “Any word from the captain?”

The big human shook his head, short blond dreadlocks dancing. “No sir. I’ve sent a security team to check on him. Sir?”

Lisor ran his hand over his smooth scalp, relishing the sensation and using that pleasure to calm himself. “Yes lieutenant?”

“I’ve been trying to reach the nearest subspace relay to help Mr. Travis in getting a fix on our location and I’m not getting anything back.” Concern etched his features. “We’re lost, aren’t we sir?”

The science officer couldn’t help but feel the eyes of the entire bridge crew on him. Most of these men and women hadn’t been in service more than a standard year. They were understandably nervous. He stood and exuded warmth and confidence. “I won’t lie to you. We are lost, but I have confidence that we will find out where we are. This is a good crew and we have a great captain. Now let’s get to work making that happen.” His words and the affect that his race had on most sentient species worked together and in moments everyone returned to their work with renewed vigor.

GreatHites Prompt # 47


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This weeks prompt comes from Peter S.:

“none of the potential answers is very savory”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday April 2nd. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or podcast pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about great hites and what you think of it.

Great Hites # 45


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This week we have stories from:
Scott Roche
Guy David
Norval Joe
and
Jeff Hite

Magic Quadrant
By Scott Roche

The first officer spoke in hushed tones “We are now in the Magic Quadrant, Captain.”

Captain Sean Thornton nodded sharply to his Deltan science officer. “Thanks Lisor.” The knowledge both amused and terrified the young captain. It was amusing because this area in space was neither magic, nor a quadrant. It was frightening because much like the Bermuda Triangle back on Earth, it was a place where many a ship disappeared without a trace. Of course much like the Triangle a good number of those disappearances where overstated, misattributed, or otherwise explainable. Still, he had been fed horror stories since his first day in the Academy.

He stood and tugged at his uniform tunic, noting not for the first time that it was amazing, given how far technology had come since humans first breached the troposphere, that military clothing still never seemed to fit quite right. He walked up to the con and stood behind his helmsmen. “Mr. Singh, be sure to let me know the second your readouts show any anomalies.”

“Aye, Captain.” The young lady nodded.

“Take us ahead one quarter impulse.” He imagined that he experienced the sensation of the NCC-1710 Kongo slowing down. The Constitution class starship was in tip top shape though, having just left space dock after an extensive overhaul and the addition of some unusual sensor packages. So there was no way that the inertial dampers would be out of whack enough for that to be the case. They were to be the first ship in Starfleet to really give this area a good going over.

Thornton suspected that someone in the upper ranks wanted them to fail. Why else send such a green crew out into this god-forsaken piece of space with bleeding edge technology and so close to the Neutral Zone? Well he wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction.

He made a fist, without realizing it and turned to face the strikingly handsome bald man at the science station. “Anything to report Lisor?”

Lisor smiled, but not too much. “No, Captain. Everything is within normal parameters. Mr. Trangh reported some fluctuation in the warp core, but it too is not unusual.” He bent to his viewfinder again.

Thornton was tempted to be annoyed at the Engineer for not reporting to him, but then he realized he was micro-managing. That was a sign that he needed to talk a walk, maybe get some grub. “Lisor, you have the con. I’ll be in my quarters for a bit.”

“Aye, Captain.” He nodded and slaved his read outs to the captain’s chair. It would alert him of anything needing his attention.

The elevator doors whooshed open at his approach. He grabbed the handrail and called for the deck that held officer’s country, such as it was. Once the door was closed, he ran one hand shakily through tightly curled auburn hair. Off the bridge he acknowledged that he wasn’t only hungry, but indeed famished. He hadn’t eaten since, what had he even taken breakfast? A strong cup of tea with a splash of milk had been it, or as near as the fabricators could come.

The doors opened and he stalked to his cabin, the temper turned on himself for not attending to his bodily needs. Too little food or sleep, even with the intense training and discipline that Starship captains underwent, could lead to disaster. For want of a nail and all that. Once in the cool dark of his room, he was able to fully relax and sprawl on his bed. His rangy form nearly took up the whole thing. It was good that he didn’t have occasion to entertain female visitors as some did, since there simply wouldn’t be room for anyone else.

“Computer, fix me a roast beef sandwich and a side of home fries.” A series of beeps sounded from the console and a small door opened. The odor of the synthesized food was tremendous, even knowing it hadn’t come near a real cow in light years. With great difficulty he moved off of the bed and towards his lunch.

The tray was in his hand and he was walking to the table when the deck dipped forty-five degrees, sending food, captain, and anything not nailed down into the deck plates. Red alerts flashed and sirens screamed all over the ship.

When the Mages Came
By Guy David

Someone once said that when technology is advanced enough, it might seem like magic to those who don’t have it yet. The Mages knew this, as they have been studying us for centuries, so when we got to their quadrant, they appeared as magical beings to us. They had the ability to shape-shift. We also had this ability to a limited degree, but they where obviously more technologically advanced. They had space-time travel when we only had space travel. We could learn from them, but they didn’t trust us. They have seen the possible future. They had no idea they created it.

They told us the future can be shaped. The universe is magical and modular in a way. You can travel to alternate universes and you can even create them. The key is time travel. You travel to the past, then you change something and suddenly the universe itself is changed, split into two separate universes. The Mages have learned how to harness this ability, to choose their universal destination and to travel through all of alternity.

They told us that throughout the universe, there where only three species capable of doing that. We where one of them, and the scientist that invented our own version of time travel existed on our time. They where there to destroy him, but they only succeeded in splitting the universe again. In one alternate universe, the scientist was destroyed, while in another he was successful in inventing time travel. Now, alternity is shared. That was why they came and told us. They hope they can prevent a possible future, where we have achieved mastery of the universe. They didn’t tell us that. We just knew. We are wondering what the third species is. We think we can use them to help us rule over the universe. We will find out. We have time on our side.

The Subway.
By Norval Joe

This was their station. Anyone that wanted to do business here; hookers, drug dealers, pickpockets; would first need to check in with the street gang’s representative. There was at least one around the platform, anytime of day or night, and usually there were more. You probably didn’t know that they were there, unless you needed to know it. They kept a close eye on all the action, and were quick to rally enough of a presence if some unknown player tried to leave the platform without paying the ‘tax’. You could do business here, but running a business always had expenses.
The weekly meeting was about to begin as the 12:05 was pulling away. An unusual number of ‘inconspicuous’ men had gotten off the subway car just as it pulled away. One of them shouted, “Get your hands in the air!” as they all drew their guns. The new chief of police had declared that he would make the subways ‘safe and family friendly’ again, but no one expected that the crackdown on gang activities would begin this soon.
The invasion was a surprise, but the gang was not unprepared. Whenever they gathered for official business, and a number of the group would be together and thus at risk, they held an open phone line to one of the boys a few blocks away at a power relay station. He was standing ready to cut the power to the lights, in the event of an emergency, such as this one.
The cop had barely barked his command and the lights were out.
There was a large enough wave of gang members surging up the stairway to the street that the few officers at the top were bowled over, unwilling to shoot into the suddenly dark platform below, the youth and young adults melted into the crowd on the street.
Blocked from escape up the stairway, a group of youth jumped down to the tracks and ran along the rails hoping to find a ladder to the street or some other alcove or utility room where they could hide. Small blue lights placed along one wall every twenty yards generated a faint silver light that gleamed on the steel rails to guide them. The tunnel filled with the shrill whine of an electric rail car that they could not yet see. The four boys raced forward in a desperate effort to find safety from the rapidly approaching inevitable death.
A burst of wind lifted them from the ground and hurtled them forward ahead of the subway car, battering the young men against the walls of the tunnel and rolling them across the ground. The rail car was upon them. They should be torn apart, their bodies mangled between the rail car and the walls of the tunnel, their limbs and torsos severed by the heavy steel wheels as they were drawn beneath the train.
But they weren’t.
They got to their feet, dusted themselves off, and looked around. They could hear the subway car fading into the distant tunnel. The blue lights were gone and someone was missing, but they couldn’t figure out who it was. They limped along through the dark, following the fading sound of the train.
The sound of the train didn’t fade completely away, but stopped suddenly and left only the a ringing silence in their ears. They stood panting not knowing which way to go, with out light or sound to guide them. Very far off, and very faint, came the sound of a single hammer on a bell. But not a bell, and not a hammer, only similar. They stumbled forward in the direction of that single sound, stumbling over unseen rubble, bumping into unexpected turns in the walls. Then the sound again, still distant, and still faint, but not quite as much, so. They increased their pace for a time, but finding their route impeded more frequently with blocks of stone, and twisted pieces of metal, they slowed, and proceeded with a sliding shuffling gait, hands gripping one another’s shirts or belts.
They inched along slowly, the temperature increasing in the tunnel with every step. Eventually, in the distance they could make out a dim light, glowing faintly as if from around a corner. Creeping forward they began to make out the objects they had been stumbling over; blocks of stone and broken and rusting rails. The increasing light allowed them to move forward much faster. The sound came again, much louder this time, not nearby, but much closer than before. The sound came again and again in rapid succession; like a tap, tap, tapping, on a metal pipe; and then stopped.
Red light glowed far down the tunnel and they moved toward it with determination, their path increasingly more visible as they traveled. The ringing sounds came more often and were joined by similar sounds, some distant, some close.
They reached the opening in the side of the tunnel where brilliant red light lit up the tunnel. Carefully they peered into the opening, shading their eyes from the intense light. The walls of the room were covered with rubies, each facet reflecting and multiplying the lanterns of the men that worked in the room. The hairy men were short, but wide and had massively muscled arms and shoulders. They were shirtless and wore either leather breaches, or knee length tartan kilts. They hammered metal spikes into the wall of rubies with heavy sledge hammers.
The men stopped to look at the three interlopers, who stood, dumbfounded. The leader of the miners grinned, “You three there!” He boomed with at deep broagh, “You’ve a choice to make. The dragon will be coming down that tunnel where you stand, in just a few moments. She’ll eat you before you’ve felt her rotten breath on your scrawny necks.” It was true, they could hear the pounding of great footfalls echoing down the tunnel, increasing in volume as the creature rapidly approached.
Calmly the squat giant continued, “You can remain where you are and die soon, or enter, here and help us mine fresh rubies for the dragons bed; at which time she will most likely eat you. Quickly boys, you’re in the magic quadrant now, and decisions must be made with out delay.”
The youth were baffled, the situation was too far outside their understanding and experience; their confusion made their choice for them.
The speaker turned back to his mates, “Well, men, that wont hold her for very long. Let’s get back to work and see if we can get enough rubies to satisfy her.”

The End
By Jeff Hite

With a spectacular blast that would have made any story teller proud the mountain sized piece of hydrogen ignited as it passed through the super hot jets, of oxygenated fuel from the admirals ship. And in that instant, the war was over.

“That is how the story ends right. The Battle is over, the evil over lord is dead, the universe is saved right?”
“Mark, that’s how stories end. this is real life. Yes, the battle is over. Yes, Admiral Weston is dead, or at least we think he is. And, yes the war is pretty much over. But, the story does not end. I mean it does not end there for us. We are still on the outskirts of the Kuiper belt. I would like to get home some time, There are millions dead, the rover colonies are in tatters. There are years of work left to do.”
“Wow you are a kill joy.”
“Mark.”
“I guess this is what happens when you don’t really expect to make it out of some place so you through everything into it.”
“You mean you don’t have a plan?”
“No, I really don’t.”
“Guys,” Lee leaned our of the control seat so he could look at them. “I hate to interrupt this stimulating conversation, but um we do have a couple of problems here.”
“Alright lets have it.”
“Well you know all those incredible maneuvers we did to draw Weston’s ships in here?”
“Yeah.”
“Well they were very expensive, fuel wise. We don’t have a lot of fuel left, and we have a very long trip home.”
“How expensive?”
“We are all going to be in stasis for a long time.”
“How long a few months?”
“More like a few years, unless they send some one out to get us.”
“They who? Earth never acknowledged our claims from the beginning, and crazy or not, Weston was the commander of the Martian fleet. So who exactly do you think they are?”
“Mark.”
“He has a point Lee. But, jeez you called me a kill joy.”
“Well if we are going to face reality, lets face it. Lee, give us a full ships status.”
“Right give me a minute or so.” He turned to the console in front of him and flipped through several screens. “Right, if we can believe everything here, and we all know that we will have to make a visual inspection of more than a few systems, we have enough fuel, for one good long burn. It should get us going fast enough that we can reach he inner solar system with in five years, the power for the stasis tubes should have no problem, as there appears to have been little or no damage to the solar array or the reactor. Again we need to check those things. If we can use the solar sail even a little, we might be able to cut as much as 6 months of that time. The problem comes in that, that gets us into the inner solar system, not by anything, like a planet.”
“I can’t believe that we made it all the way out here, and” he trailed off.
“There is more,” Sharron had moved back to her station.
“More?”
“Yeah, let’s say we do this burn that Lee suggests. What planet, or object do we head to. As you pointed out, no one is really going to be happy to see us, and most of the rover colonies were destroyed, it maybe that even if we aimed at one of them, it four and a half or five years there might not be a colony there for us to come home to, they might have abandoned it depending on how badly it was damaged.”
“So, do either of you have a plan?”
“I thought you were the brilliant leader,” Lee shot back.
“I know strategy, I dreamed up this wild idea on how to draw Weston out here to the magic quadrant. But it was, as I said, supposed to be a suicide run, that is why there were only three of us.”
“So we win but we lose? That is sad.”
“Wait, a minute, you just said that we had enough fuel and power to make it back to the inner solar system, it will take us a long time, but we can send out a beacon when we get closer and someone will pick it up.”
“But like you said, who is going to want to pick us up?”
“Yeah, we will be like the trash that no one wants to take out. They will have plenty of time to see us coming, they could either blow us out of the sky or, just more likely, just let us coast on by, become a long period comet or something.”
“We don’t have enough water on board to be a comet. We might have a tale for about three or four hours and then we would be like every other dark body in the solar system.”
“Alright you too, enough gloom and doom. There has to be a good side to this. I mean we won the war, or at least we ended it. Someone would want to take us in. Even if it is to lock us up for killing their commander.”
“I don’t know about you, but I would rather take my chances with becoming a short lived comet that be locked up for the rest of whatever.”
“I have to agree with Lee on that one Mark.”
“So how long can we wait until we have to make a decision?”
“I would say we have three days until we all need to be in hibernation.”
“Ok then here is the plan, we start making some calls, we call some of the rover colonies, and the moons of Jupiter, and Earth and see who would be willing to take us in. We see who gets back to us and make a decision based on what sounds like the best answer.”
“That is going to be cutting it close. Round trip messages from the inner solar system and then we have to agree on a decision.”
“I know but do you have a better suggestion. If we just shoot for the middle, we will be trusting to luck that some one will pick us up, but if we plan to go somewhere.”
“We are trusting to luck that whoever answers us is telling us the truth.”
“It is better than your comet idea.”
“Alright I can accept that.”
“So much for the happy endings.”

Great HItes Prompt # 46


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This weeks prompt comes from my Laurence Simon:

“Cloud storage”

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday March 24 th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or podcast pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about great hites and what you think of it.

Great Hites # 44


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Hear Promos From:
Weather Child
Personal Effects Dark Arts

I talk about:
Wagwire
and Jeff’s Random Thoughts

I was there the night the wall fell
By Ashley Redden

Deep into the night of November 9, 1989, he once again found himself amid political and social upheaval. He stood high upon the wall that divided East and West Berlin amongst throngs of Germans, East and West alike, celebrating and rekindling long lost family ties. The situation he found himself in was most unusual. Apparently earlier that day the East German minister of propaganda announced that the gates of the wall would be open for pedestrian travel for the first time since 1961. The massive surges of people thereafter overwhelmed the unprepared East German guards. The people then began to clamber over the wall en masse thus producing the situation that currently existed. Apparently the East German government had not realized that a small loosening of control would snowball so.
He was not surprised. He had seen it so many times before across a sundry of seas in a myriad of cultures and lands.
The current situation had been building for some time. The dark man remembered the American president Ronald Reagan’s speech delivered several years earlier challenging Gorbachev to tear down the very wall upon which he now stood. Many were the people who thought the American president was crazy, but the dark man knew guile when he saw it and quietly appreciated the speech more for that reason.
No, it was not the current political upheaval that he found strange. It was the simple fact that he was standing, comfortably so among a huge number of people. Such a thing happened so rarely that he had simply stood most of the night, stock still upon the wall lost in the balm of memory.
Lost were the days when his kind could travel as they wished and feed on a whim. Gone was the time when occupants of whole villages could simply disappear and few would ever know or even care. As humanity became more connected, especially with the internet and nearly instant global communication, his kind had to be more thoughtful in their nightly forays. This was neither unexpected nor unwelcome. For beings that are timeless, challenges are a necessity for continued interest in survival. So many times, he mused, he had slipped over the great wall into East Berlin to hunt. He was always very careful and the communist government installed there kept information for the masses at a strictly controlled minimum.
Though humanity knew of his kind, thanks to very subtle assistance from his brethren, as well as, himself, they had passed into the misty realm of legend. Long had humanity associated them with the wolf, driven by an unconscious and deep abiding fear. The comparison with which he felt more appropriate was that of the great striped cat, the tiger. As with the feline predator, his kind wore the night as a cloak. Quietly stalking the victim to suddenly take and rend with such viciousness to be unknown to humanity. Then stealthily disappear back into the shade of night.
As his senses returned to the present, he realized that his hunger was becoming aroused. The dark man looked down at his hands and smiled. Again, as with the great tiger, his claws had unsheathed. Still smiling, he retracted all ten and quietly looked about him. The revelry was still going strong.
Though people were jostling for position on the wall, none were within an arms length of the dark man. He noticed none of the humans near him appeared to be entirely comfortable, scrupulously avoiding looks in his direction. The people standing near were also not the same as when he arrived. He smiled as he casually wondered how often individuals had abandoned their hard won spot upon the wall just to be away from this strange man who stood emotionless and still gazing out at the horizon.
Again he felt his hunger rise, but squelched it. He would not feed tonight or probably on this continent again for perhaps ages. The time of change was past. Next would follow transition. The dark man had never liked transitionary periods. People tended to look at details during transitions. Details were one thing that he avoided with great impunity. It was time to go. New haunts must be found, time to see the sights and taste new local flavors if you will.
The dark man looked to the east and sensed more than saw a ghost of aura there. Though the sun had not yet begun to rise, he could sense it’s coming much like the intuition of animals before a deadly storm arrives.
Utilizing the inhuman quickness that was the trait of his kind, he hopped from the wall and in seconds disappeared into the West Berlin crowd below. Those on the wall blinked in apparent unknowing relief and surged to fill the now vacant spot. All over East and West Berlin people cried for joy. The following year, the wall was systematically demolished.

Ganymede, Part II
By Norval Joe

Julie was angry. Her father was away, off moon, on another business trip, her mother had gone off to do her community service, and Julie was left at home to watch her new slave do chores. The allure of having a personal servant had worn off in just a few days, and became a shackle around her own leg. This girl couldn’t understand her language, so any instruction to her required complex pantomime that nearly wore her out; she might as well do the work herself.
Besides, the little thing was ugly; virtually hairless with light blue eyes and skin to match; skin that was soft and squishy, like over ripe fruit. She wasn’t beautiful and dark with a tough, thick, hide, like Julie was. She rubbed at the thick carpet of short hair that covered the top and back of her head, down her neck and over most of her back. Julie badly wanted to go down to the ground level to explore, but her slave couldn’t endure the radiation like her own people; had these creatures lived underground on their moon?
She went to her desk and spinning the top half of the smooth orb, she turned on her music player. Static. The magnetic waves between the planet and its moons sometimes interrupted the broadcasting device. She got her anti static cloth and began to buff the player, hoping to reduce any magnetic charge. The cloth snapped and popped as she lifted if from the device, but didn’t hear the music that she expected. After a loud burst of static came a clear voice, [“Mr. Gorbachev…..”] Encouraged, she rubbed harder and more vigorously with the clothe, more static, then, [“I have a dream…..”]
Frustrated by the incomprehensible babble, she turned the music player off, and sat down with a huff.
Magnetic waves that resonated between the planet and its moons, held the recorded broadcasts from Julies ancestors, 500 million years in the past. Her people, originally earth colonists, had survived countless near extinctions, population booms, dark ages and enlightenments, and thereby, evolved to live in the high radiation environment of Jupiter’s moon, Ganymede. In the recent past they had discovered the physics that allowed them to travel through space, to the planet and its other moons. They had the all the luxuries and benefits of an advanced civilization.
Julie was angry. Her slave was performing again, her puffy lips turning down at the sides and water coming from her eyes. Julie was so angry and frustrated that she just wanted to hit the slave; but she felt, somehow, doing that wouldn’t be right.

Scientists
By: Norval Joe

Her long silver hair was held behind her head with a golden clip in the shape of a dragon fly; the craftsmanship so intricate and detailed that a person would want to approach slowly to get a close look at the golden creature before it startled and flew away.
She sat as still as a pearl white marble statue, bent over the microscope on the antique golden oak desk; her gossamer lab coat, an iridescent waterfall, cascading from her shoulders.
Her lab assistant stepped into the room; he was older than her, though not grey at all; his hair and eyebrows, jet black, in contrast to his milk white skin. “Jenesse,” he interrupted, “I have the spectography reports.” But she silenced him, slowly raising a single long index finger into the air and holding it immobile next to her petite, pointed, right ear.
She sat up from the microscope and took the report from her lab assistant, Farland. Glancing over it briefly, recognition and understanding clear on her beautiful and youthful face.
“You have identified the substance,” it was a statement, not a question.
“Yes,” Jenesse replied, “It’s lint. Belly button lint. The human scientists believe that they have found the reason that it accumulates there; there are fine, task specific, hairs that direct the lint to the belly button.”
Farland smile wryly, and said,” Can you imagine having that much body hair?”
Jenesse nodded and replied, “Can you imagine having a belly button?”
They both turned to look at the bell jar on the desktop next to the microscope; the toxic wad of fuzz, inconspicuous and inert in the vacuum.
They shuddered.

The Forced March
By Jeff Hite

Phillip felt the pain flow through him with every step he took . Two days ago all he had wanted was to see the end of this journey and be able to see his family again, but right now all he could think about an was ending to the pain. The pain had build so gradually that he had not even noticed it until they stopped last night for dinner. When he tried to get up his whole body throbbed with pain. It was not the kind of dully achy feeling you get when your sick, or the more harsh ache from the day after a hard work out. Not this was red hot burning that lay right near his pain threshold. It started somewhere behind his eyes and and ended some place about three feet under the soles of his boots.
Try as he might he could not ignore it. He tried to push through it. He had tried the relaxation exercises they had taught his wife to help her with labor, he had taken the pills that were in his rations and emptied his canteen, and there for his bladder, three times. None of it was helping. He knew the march was coming to an end but he was not sure he was going to make it, as beads of sweat from just staying on his feet popped up all over his body.
Finally the march did end, and they stood in the dusty little village, that would serve as their home until the airlift unit could come get them. Phillip dropped to his knees and nearly cried out as the waves of pain washed over him.
“Captain, I think Phillip needs to see the medic.” Alex, his constant companion on this journey, said. The Captain rushed over, his gasp was audible even though he had tried to stifle it.
“Get two people over here with a litter right away,” He barked. “Everything is going to be alright Phillip, we will get you to the medic right away.”
The pain caused by them moving his body from the ground to the litter was beyond anything he could have imagined, and he felt the world getting fuzzy around the edges as they finally walked through the door to the medic’s office.
“He was complaining about pain right after dinner, said it hurt to move any part of him.” Alex’s voice came to his ears as if from far away.
“Alright. I will see what I can do for him but it does not look good.” The doctors voice was deep and warm even though his predictions were dire.
For a little while the doctor examined him without moving him and the pain lessened slightly as he lay there perfectly still.
“I know this is going to cause you pain, but I need you to undress so I can take a closer look at you. I think it will be less painful for you to do it then to have me help you and touch you.”
Phillip nodded his head slowly in agreement. He sat up and started to take off his coat as new waves of pain shot through him.
“Stop. Hold everything.” the doctor said as soon as his coat was off. “What are you wearing?”
“Huh?”
“That shirt what is it made of?”
“I don’t know.” even the movement of his jaw caused him pain.
The doctor, came over to him at that point and lifted the front of his shirt. “Yup, just as I thought.” He reached down and touched his stomach, and the pain was gone as if it had never been there. “Medical science has come a long way in the last few years, but when they finally found that this little bit of belly button lint, can cause the body some incredible pain that was a miracle. I am surprised that you made it this far on your own two feet.”

Great Hites Prompt # 45


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This weeks prompt comes from my companies quarterly update meeting, and is:

“We are now in the Magic Quadrant.”

If you were following me on twitter you got this one a bit early, since when I heard it I could not resist.

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday March 17 th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

Don’t forget to go out to iTunes or podcast pickle or both and leave a review. It is a great way to let people know about great hites and what you think of it.

Great Hites Prompt # 44

This week’s prompt comes from SlashDot and is: “Science Unlocks The Mystery Of Belly Button Lint.”


I have pasted a link to the article below.

All Stories for this prompt are due by Midnight Tuesday March 10th. Email the text of the story and a recording if you would like me to include it in the podcast to jeffrey dot hite at gmail dot com.

good luck. And don’t forget to come out to the site and vote for your Favorite stories this week.

http://idle.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/02/1742219

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Outtage

Well, I had system outage. Normally this would not effect any one but me, but since I host all my own files, it messed with this site. I didn’t have a chance to put a notice up before things went down, and it has taken me the better part of a day to get everything back up and working.

I apologize if you had any problems with this. The web server is back up and all the files are available again.