Church of the Mech (fourth down)

Martin found the encompassing feeling of the abandoned mech hanger remarkable. The lofty girders above and the open bay doors along the perimeter reminded him of a church he attended as a boy before he stopped praying.

“Thanks.” The occasional single-syllable acknowledgement was all that remained of Martin’s belief.

:Roger that, Commander.: Lieutenant Abilene Guerrera’s voice spoke in Martin’s earpiece. She drove the mech guarding above him. He smiled and pretended it was Goddess responding instead. He then tried to think of what he’d say to the Lieutenant’s inevitable query. :…uh, ‘Thanks’ for what, sir?:

:[something profound and direct]:

:Of course, sir,: Guerrera replied after a delay. Her brief protocol made Martin smile and almost laugh. He imagined her turning wide-eyed and questioning to her ensign co-pilot and him, cringing, unable to offer an explanation for their boss’s sudden melancholy. They’d chew on that shit for days, he thought.

xxx words on day 788

A Small Circle

God climbed the hill to our village. Then he stayed.

My grandfather taught me this.

Xander Farmer sketched out a circle in pencil on a sheet of paper—it was near perfect. “Johanna, look. Any…three…points,” he dotted pips along the circumference of that circle with each syllable, “can be used to define a circle. But that could be random. Easily. Now that we’ve discovered—uncovered really—a fourth mechanical it’s no longer random.” Farmer drew in the fourth pip and repeatedly circled the circle. “Can’t be.”

Xander suddenly called to mind the undergraduates he taught math to during his Masters. These were high school students who entered university under probation until they passed Xander’s class. Except Johanna Sherman-Meyer wasn’t dumb or one of his students. She was his ex—mostly ex.

Johanna stacked folders on top of folders and papers on top of those; she pulled open her desk’s top drawer then, not finding what she hunted, shut it again. “Listen, Xander. I can’t do this anymore. I agree with you. They are facinating historical objects and, as such, V-CIM is happy to continue to fund the research and preservation of the three we know about…”

Xander inhaled to speak. She shifted to her credenza and squated to open the cabinet door. She spoke into the furniture, “…four we know about, but we aren’t going to fund your little adventure mission to circumnavigate the globe looking for more.”

“Technically it’s a Small Circle, not circum…”

She stood again. “Spare me the Geometry lesson, huh? You’ve got your money for the three mechanicals. Spend it on the fourth if you like. You’re not getting more than you’ve got. V-CIM’s making no money off this and the goodwill accounting just isn’t there anymore.”

298 words on day 550

See Spot Run

Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Armburster paused to sip water from a fountain then grasped a doorknob at 07:59:58 allowing two seconds to breach that threshold and enter the hanger bay. A mixture of civilian contractors in blue button-downs and khakis and Marines awaited him politely or at attention.

Lieutenant Colonel Denise Armburster, test pilot, dropped her chin to her chest to sip the last of the water from a tube. Today or tomorrow would bring her death; she wanted to be hydrated for the coming fight.

Doctor Calvert’s near final words to her continued repeating in her head. They chanted like monks on a hilltop: incessant and oblivious. At times those words were as unnoticeable as her breathing at others as unignorable as her panting. Always involuntary. For several hours yesterday or the day before—sleep loss made her unsure—she intoned the words aloud just to hear someone speak. Even though she mouthed the words, Armburster heard Calvert’s voice in them. He had said, “Arm, I know what you’re thinking. It’s what I thought too. Suit up and be wrong for the first time.” But two words burst out of that string like a police siren in a crowd simultaneously drawing her attention yet warning her away: be wrong. Be wrong. Be Wrong. BE WRONG.

The progression of this story over the past few days evolved more than I wold have expected at the onset. This is good because at the end of this week I finally have a place ot start and a place to end. I just need to firm up the vaporous middle.

What I find most interesting is how parts I added to resolve initial problems ended up neutralizing those problems and requiring me to insert new ones to better meet the challenge. I’m not pleased that the none of the motivating scene I wrote back in December—the one that got me writing this story first of all the ones I selected—will be used in the final draft, but I am happy I’ve got something writable.

One funny thing I’d like to capture here if no where else is that my initial thinking put this at a much longer story than I was prepared to write. Explaining and setting up the motivations of the antagonist bloated the plot. Mostly, I think, because I wanted to be classier than, “Hey Reader! Here’s a bone. Go get it Boy.” I realized keeping the story short nessecitated motivation simplicity. So, still a bone to chase, but hopefully I’ll be able to include a zig if not a zag along the way.

Day 413