sci fi

Hands are not easy to remove, but with a Swiss army knife, a hammer and a pair of electric wire clippers, it can be done. They were all I had anyway.

The woman didn’t need her hand anymore. As nearly as I could figure, she hadn’t been dead for long. The tell-tale greenish cast to the skin just about the ears and the nape of the neck contrasted with her bloodless pallor, but the moist heat of the Gulf coast seeps in quickly. Dead bodies seed fast. This one wasn’t crawling  but would be soon enough.

I didn’t need the hand though I’d used fingers for the odd biometric scans that were still in use in some communities. I needed her ID braclet in tact, cutting the chain deactivates them. My own tag was worthless. I’d been issued it before the war ended and now it marked me as a transient refugee and I wasn’t going back to the camps. It was chipped as well, so I’d tossed it as soon as I could even though it was rare to run across SS outside the metropolitan areas and they are the only ones with functional scanners these days. If a person needed to cross a border however, which I did, chipless IDs were desirable. It said two things about the wearer. The first assured the border patrol the person had status prior to The Dissolution, and the second that he or she had never been detained. Detainees, who could be anyone from a simple refugee to a war crimes fugitive, were not allowed to travel freely between zones without papers. Visas were hard to get. Costly and nearly always attention attracting, I’d never bothered to try and obtain one even though I probably had connections enough still to do it.

The most important aspect of the bracelet was that, judging from its size and shape, it conferred citizenship on the wearer. I hadn’t seen one of the new IDs issued by the North American Alliance of States and Provinces, but it was similar enough to the old one that I was confident enough to sit in a ditch for two hours hacking skin and pounding bones to obtain it.

She appeared to have been thrown from a bike which I found a few meters off from her twisted corpse. I keep to the ditches when I travel the old major highways despite the paucity of traffic. It’s only marginally safer at any rate, but I exercise as much caution as I can now that I am alone.

I toyed with the idea of taking the bike too, but it would have made me a theft target and, being female I am temptation enough, so I left it with regrets. In the end I emptied her pack, keeping the useful or edible and then transferring my possession from the tattered Lululemon bag I’d liberated from a deserted store along with a few clothing items I’d always coveted but could never afford.

In the pack I found an old Canadian passport. Her name was Claire. I ripped the photo out and a couple of pages for good measure and stuffed them into a pocket of my light jacket. No one would question a beat up passport from before the war. Just having one at all was a coup.

I’d been heading west but now it was time to go north. I wasn’t sure exactly where the new border lay. The last I’d heard the NAASP extended only as far south as Missouri and just to the Mississippi, but the Confederacy had been in retreat all year and with luck I might hit the border sooner than that.

The heat settled around me like Lady Godiva’s golden tresses but in a sticky stringy way I’d come to loathe. It was not like the dry winds of the Emirate where I’d left my child in the care of friends when war broke out, trapping my husband in a disintegrating land.

The last word I had from him indicated that he was being relocated north. New Ontario maybe but more likely in the Nations. I was a long way from there.

Bracelet jangling loosely on my wrist, I climbed up the grassy hill to the road. Dusk darkened the horizon and dimmed the air all around.  I hadn’t seen or heard a motorized vehicle for almost a week. The rough pavement made for faster travel and, with my new identity, I decided to risk the scant patrols.

I wasn’t allowed to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind when it was first out. I was going on 14 and had cleverly bypassed my Dad’s edict against sci-fi and fantasy movies for me with Star Wars the summer before by getting my cousin to take me while we were visiting. I had no such foil for Spielberg’s first alien movie. The first time I saw the whole thing, however, I was struck by the feeling I had seen it before. Chris Carter is so lucky that Spielberg didn’t sue his arse.

The reason I was forbidden to go to movies like this was because my parents felt I had an unhealthy interest in all things they considered to be weird and likely to make it hard for me to ever meet someone who might consider marrying me (they didn’t have to add -” because you are already unattractive so try not to be odd too” but it was there).

I loved Dr. Who.

Believed in ESP and ET’s. Read everything I could about both subjects.

Watched every lame sci-fi television show that made it to the airwaves back in the 70’s like Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Six Million Dollar Man, Logan’s Run, The Tomorrow People, Kochak: The Night Stalker, Night Gallery.

Remember V? Awesome. Simply awesome idea though the movies themselves are beyond awful when viewed retrospectively.

Or Aeon Flux?

I devoured Frank Herbert and Tolkien.  Anne McCaffery’s Pern books line my shelves along with Stephen King and David Eddings.

I don’t know why the real world doesn’t interest me more. Perhaps it is too real? Or more likely I am a person who prefers being outside of the bounds that most people are most comfortable focusing on.

I finally finished my Kumari revision and my loving husband patiently read and re-read with his red pen in hand. He loves the red pen part. There is irony in being the red pen wielding beta reader of a former English teacher.

The short is still short. I doubt I added more than 100 words, but it has reached that stage where any more revision will likely ruin it. I need to find somewhere to submit it. I had thought Apex. Am still kinda toying with them but I don’t think the story is dark enough. I have mentioned that they like story dark? Dark to the point of sick. According to my writing group, the main character of Kumari is reprehensible and unlikable but still manages to garner understanding if not sympathy. And of course, I didn’t “go there” in terms of sex or gore. Could have I guess, but just didn’t feel it with this piece. 

I actually have another story that I started writing on the drive back from the States in July. There is nothing like listening to POTUS candidates on the 4th of July to bring on visions of a dark, foreboding future of Stephen King proportions. I outlined my idea aloud to Rob who wondered how I could find such sick images in my mind. 

Yes, he wondered this out loud.

So, Kumari needs to go somewhere else. To a small magazine, I think.

I googled “Canadian sci fi magazines” and found nothing really. Just the magazine that asked for the second look at 2.0, and since they don’t take multiple submissions, I have to wait until I hear back from them on the current story under consideration.

No multiple submissions. NO simultaneous submissions.

The whole “getting published” game is stacked decidedly in the favor of publishers and publications. Not very free market if you ask me.

In the meantime, aside from the novel that is begging for my attention, I have started three more short stories on top of the three that need finishing and the memoir outline that is tapping on my skull.

Oh, and I need to totally rework my three month “plan” because I have changed direction.

But Kumari is done and that is something.