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So that’s how I spent my days. I’d spend - Page 13 - Public Member Blogs - Posted: 16th May, 2016 - 8:52am

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The Writer - Fifty-two Stories Project - Short Stories
Post Date: 9th May, 2016 - 8:10am / Post ID: #

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Today's offering brings us back to the dusty red plains of the Martian outback.

By Ken Green
The prisoner had escaped. Sheriff Law had entered his office, stopping to wipe the red Martian dust from his boots, fire up the crimeputer, and start some coffee. Yawning, he walked back to check the cells.
Christine’s cell was empty.
Snapping to full wakefulness, he grabbed his phone and told it to call his deputy.
It rang once.
“Hey, Sheriff, what’s up?” Deputy Rosa Law sing-songed at him, sounding like she was in an awfully good mood.
“I need you to come in,” he said.
“But it’s my day off!” she protested.
“I know that,” he said, “But we have a situation. Christine has escaped.”
Rosa laughed.
“No, she didn’t, she’s right here with me.”
“What? Wait. Where are you?” He sat down on his desk.
“We’re halfway to Barsoom City. I’m teaching her to drive. She’s doing really well.”
“What? You can’t just take her out…Why are you going to Barsoom?”
“It’s my day off. I wanted to go shopping.”
“But why is Christine with you?”
“It’s a three-hour drive. I get lonely.”
Sheriff put his hand to his eyes. “Christine is a prisoner, not a pet. You can’t just take her shopping with you.”
“She needs to get out. It’s cruel to keep her penned up in that cell all the time.”
“She needs to be penned up. That’s the whole point of jail.”
“Well,” Rosa said, “That’s just stupid. How is she supposed to rehabilitate if she’s not allowed to…”
“I don’t know!” Sheriff shouted into the phone, “That’s not our decision to make! She was sentenced to a year in jail, and our job is to keep her there! So you are going to…”
“Sheriff, if you’re just going to bark at me, I’ll hang up on you.”
“No. Do not hang up on me. If you hang up on me, I swear, I’ll…”
“That’s it, this conversation is over. You do not get to threaten me, Dad.”
The phone clicked. He stared at it in disbelief. She had called him ‘Dad’. She hadn’t done that in years.
“What the hell does that mean?” he asked the empty room. He realized he could smell the coffee, so he got up and poured himself a cup. He poured a few drops of syncream in, and watched it disperse. He lifted the phone and told it to redial.
It rang four times.
“She doesn’t want to talk to you,” Christine said.
“Hand her the phone, Christine,” Sheriff ordered, keeping his voice calm.
There was a pause.
“She’s refusing to take the phone,” Christine said, “And she’s really pissed off at you.”
“Give. Her. The phone. Christine,” he said, struggling to sound calm.
There was a pause.
“Nope, she’s not going to talk to you,” Christine said.
“Fine. Put it on speaker…”
“Can’t. She’s already said she’d throw it out the window if I did that.”
“Then hold the phone up to her face…”
“I can’t do that. I’m driving,” Christine said, “And I’m afraid she’ll hit me.”
“Christine, listen to me. I want you to turn the truck around…”
“I’m not going to do that. She has a gun. Are you really her dad? Your relationship seems highly dysfunctional.”
“I…I don’t want to talk about that…”
“Well, neither do I. We were having a great time before you called.”
“Christine, please let me talk to my daughter.”
There was a pause.
“No, she still doesn’t want to talk to you. And she said if I don’t stop asking, this is going to escalate to a hostage situation. I don’t think any of us wants that to happen. So what happened between you two?”
“That is none of your business, convict.”
“Do you want me to hang up?” Christine asked.
“No. Do not hang up.”
“Then stop calling me ‘convict’. I know I’m a convict. I don’t need you reminding me. That’s just mean.”
“I’ll call you anything I want, convict…”
The phone clicked. She had hung up.
Enraged, he threw the phone at the far wall. It shattered. Deputy Hayes walked into the station.
“Sorry I’m late.” He said, “Overslept. Hey, where’s Christine?”
“Oh, that’s right. The shopping furlough. They got off to an early start.”
“You knew about this?” Sheriff asked, incredulous.
“Sure. Rosa said she cleared it with you…”
“Of course she did.”
Hayes went to get some coffee.
“What happened to your phone?” he asked, looking at destroyed device.
“Shut up.” Sheriff dialed his desk phone. It rang twice.
“Why are you calling from a different number?” Christine asked, “Did you throw your mobile?”
“That doesn’t matter,” Sheriff said.
“Hey Rosa, you were right, he smashed his mobile. I owe you a drink.”
“Wait. She’s taking you drinking? She can’t…”
“Not a drink drink, I’m a child, for God’s sake. Rosa is more responsible than that. Give her some credit. You raised a good kid.”
“It sounds like you two are really bonding.”
“Well, we’re not lezzing out on each other, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“I wasn’t…”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Christine said, “I mean, if I was going to go that way, I’d like it to be with someone like Rosa. She seems really gentle. It could be nice.”
“Christine, please…”
“And she’s so pretty. Your wife must have been beautiful, because she sure didn’t get any of that from you. Do you ever tell your daughter how pretty she is? Do you even look at her?”
“Could we talk about something else?”
“Yeah, I didn’t think so. She’s just an employee to you, isn’t she? How can you treat her like that? She’s so smart, she’s funny, and she’s really nice, once you get to know her. She’s a daughter you should be proud of.
And so it goes. I keep wanting to write SciFi, and I keep getting caught up in interpersonal dynamics. See you in 24.

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Post Date: 10th May, 2016 - 9:26am / Post ID: #

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By Ken Green

Christine dropped the plate, and it shattered on the floor of her cell.
“Dammit, Convict…” Deputy Tom Bowie said, walking back into the cell.
“What happened?” Deputy Rosa Law asked, walking back from the office.
“Nothing. The dumb bitch just dropped her dinner…”
“Shut up, Tom,” Rosa ordered, “Get out of there.”
“You can’t tell me what to do, I have seniority…”
“Get out of the cell, Tom. Now. I’m not kidding.”
He backed out of the cell.
“What were you thinking? You don’t go into the cell wearing a gun. Have you even read the regulations? Why are you even wearing it in the station? Stand over there.” She pointed to a corner.
You can cover me if you want to. No, don’t. You’ll probably just shoot me in the ass. Just watch the girl, and don’t do anything. I’m going in.” She entered the cell.
Christine ignored them. She had backed herself into a corner and was staring at the plate as if it were a portal to hell. Her eyes were wide with terror, and her breaths were shallow.
“It’s okay, Kid,” Rosa said, smiling, “It’s just a plate. You just stay there, and we’ll get this cleaned up.”
Keeping her eyes on the convict, Rosa bent her knees and hunched down to gather the shards of the plate.
Christine pressed herself against the wall, as if trying to push herself through it. She was crying.
“It’s okay, kid, we’re not going to punish you,” Rosa said, laying out the pieces of the plate as if she were reconstructing it, “Okay, it looks like all the pieces are there, but I need to be sure. So show me your hands. Show me your hands, Christine.”
The girl held her hands up and opened them. They were empty.
“Okay,” Rosa said, “That’s good. You’re doing great, kid.” She gathered the shards and backed out of the cell. She elbowed the cell door closed and turned to see Tom.
He had his gun out and was pointing it at her.
“Put that away, you idiot. You’re going to kill somebody.”
She dropped the plate bits in a trash can and went to the supply closet, grabbed a broom and a dust pan, and returned to the cell. The convict hadn’t moved or calmed down.
“What’s wrong with her?” Rosa whispered to Tom.
“Maybe she’s having a drug flashback?” he offered.
Rosa shrugged. Christine was in for prostitution and possession of controlled substances. Who knew what traumas she was carrying around?
“Okay, Christine, I’m coming back in,” Rosa said, slowly and clearly, “Go sit on your cot.”
The girl complied. She sat on her cot and shook. Rosa unlocked the cell and went back in, taking a good long look at the girl. Little Christine McKenzie, with her stringy blond hair, too-skinny body, and haunted, sunken eyes, looked like a poster child for addiction. At least she seemed to be calming down, finally.
“You’re doing great, girl. You just sit there, and we’ll get this all cleaned up. Then we’ll get you another dinner…”
“The hell we will,” Tom chimed in.
“Shut up, Tom.” Rosa put down the dustpan and swept the ruined dinner into it.
“Where did it come from?” Christine asked.
“Where did what come from, Honey?”
“The food. The plate. Where did it come from?”
That was an easy question. Culverton was a small town. It only had one restaurant.
“Jack’s café. If you don’t like the food, you’ll just have to get used to it. We don’t have a lot of options here.”
“You need to get over there,” Christine said, “There’s going to be a murder.”
Rosa stood slowly, keeping her eyes on the girl.
“Murder? What are you talking about? There’s not going to be a murder, this is Culverton. Nobody gets murdered here.”
Christine let out a long breath and sagged against the wall.
“Whoever made that dinner,” she said, “Was angry. Crazy angry. He’s going to kill somebody.”
Rosa backed away from the girl.
“Okay, that’s just crazy talk. Nobody is going to get murdered. I’m going to get you another dinner. So you just need to sit there and calm down.”
“I am calm,” the girl said, and she was, “But your hands are shaking. You know I’m right.”
Rosa backed out of the cell, and slammed the door shut. The phone rang. Tom went to answer it.
“Hey, Rosa!” He yelled from the front, “We need to get to Jack’s Café! There’s been a murder!”
“This can’t be happening,” Rosa muttered to herself.
Tina Burke, Jack’s wife and former homecoming queen, lay dead in a pool of blood. Jack knelt over her, crying. The dinner crowd stood around him, at a distance and stared.
“Where’s the sheriff?” somebody asked.
“He’s on his way,” Rosa said. Pick up your damned phone, Dad. How many messages do I need to leave you?
Trying not to look at Tina, she walked to Jack.
“Jack, I need to cuff you,” she said, trying to keep the waver out of her voice.
“What have I done?” he asked.
“We need to sort all that out.” She bent down to cuff him. She glanced at Tom. He had drawn his gun again. She rolled her eyes. She cuffed Jack. He didn’t resist. They stood.
“Tom,” she said, under her breath, “Do me a favor. Put your gun in your holster and walk Jack to the station. I’ll process the crime scene and get statements.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, “You seem pretty upset.”
Of course I’m upset. My best friend is dead, and my other best friend did it. How am I supposed to feel?
“Yeah, I’m sure. Just get Jack logged in. I’ll do the report.”
She had to borrow the chalk from the memo board, because she had forgotten to bring the tape to outline the body with. For the same reason, she used her phone to take the crime scene photos. Dad’s going to love this. My first crime scene, and I’m doing everything wrong. Where the hell is he?
She took statements, took notes, took photos, did everything she could think of to avoid thinking about how she felt. Eventually, she ran out of things to do. She told all the witnesses they were free to go, and they all left, leaving the café empty except for her, Estelle the waitress, and the body.
Estelle locked the front door.
“I’m going to go check the back entrance,” Rosa said.
“For what?” Estelle asked.
“Evidence.” She headed for the back door.
She stepped out to the cold night air, looked to make sure nobody could see her, and threw up into a trashcan. She held onto the rim and finally allowed herself to cry. Heaving, racking sobs and tears poured out of her for what felt like an eternity. When she could cry no more, she went back into the café. Estelle was waiting for her.
“The medical examiner is here,” she said, “I let him in.”.

Post Date: 11th May, 2016 - 8:53am / Post ID: #

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If I ever got to be a famous writer, and somebody asked me for advice on writing, I would offer them the following gem: The [trick] to writing is to write everyday, even when you don't feel like it.

Brave words.

But, the thing is, there are days when you really, really, don't want to write.

What do you do then?

Write anyway.

By Ken Green
Sheriff Potter read the telegram again. The words hadn’t changed.
Bart Black escaped prison stop. Watch out stop.
Sheriff stood in the doorway of the jail, wearing his best suit and a brand new bowler hat. The morning breeze stole the thin onion paper note from his grip. The wind whipped it along the dusty main street of Culver City, past weathered saloons and general stores. Its freedom was short-lived: Snagtooth Annie caught it in her gloved hand. Sauntering up the boardwalk, she read the notice, sounding out the words.
“You shouldn’t read other people’s mail, Annie,” Sheriff said, “It’s not polite.”
“Neither am I,” she said, and spit on the rough boards, “What are we gonna do?”
“We aren’t going to do anything. He’s an escaped convict. I aim to arrest him, if he even heads this way. For all we know, he’s halfway to Mexico by now.”
“You know better than that. There’s three things Bart can’t do: spell his own name, forgive, and forget. I’d bet you anything he’s on the 10:10 train.”
“Well, I hope he isn’t. That would be inconvenient for me.”
“Yeah, I’d say it was…” her jaw dropped and her eyes grew wide with realization.
“She’s coming today?” she gasped.
“On the 10:10 train.”
“So that’s why you’re all gussied up. I can’t wait to meet your bride. I could give her some hints. Tell her the things you like.”
“Stay out of it, Annie.” He walked away from her, heading toward the train station.
If there’s one thing Snagtooth Annie can’t do, its take a hint. She followed.
“Wait up,” she said, as they passed her horse by the hitching post.
He didn’t wait up. He just kept on walking.
She drew her Henry rifle from the saddle scabbard, and ran to catch up with him.
“Hey,” she said, as she caught up, “Are you even packing?”
He opened his jacket to reveal his navy revolver in a new hip holster.

And that is some of what I was able to pound out yesterday. Some days are better than others, and some days are not. See you in 24.

Post Date: 12th May, 2016 - 7:58am / Post ID: #

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Today's offering is the result of a writing challenge. I saw a Facebook post in which somebody photoshopped Cookie Monster from Sesame Street into a Renoir painting of women drinking tea.. The caption read, "Write me a flash story about this." So I did.

By Ken Green
“M’Lady,” Penelope said, peering at the calling card, “You have a gentleman caller.” She was accustomed to seeing cards that were engraved, or at very least printed, but this one appeared to be scrawled in blue crayon.
“Well, show him in, Penelope!” Lady Veronica urged.
“M’Lady, I have some misgivings about…”
“Miss Farthing!” Veronica scolded, “At this point, we cannot afford to be picky. As you know, House Davenport has fallen on hard times, since Papa gambled away the family fortune. If I don’t marry soon, and marry well, I fear I shall be forced to put you out on a street corner to earn our keep. So show our caller in, without delay!”
“Very well, M’Lady,” she glanced at the card again, “A Mister Cookie Monster is here to see you.”
“Mister,” Veronica said, without enthusiasm, “An American, I presume?”
“I fear he is, M’Lady.”
“Well, at least he’ll have money. They all seem to, these days.”
Penelope showed him in. He was…resplendent in his blue fur coat.
“Mister Monster,” Veronica smiled graciously, “I am ever so pleased to meet you.”
“Me am so happy to meet you,” he said, and nodded vigorously, as if agreeing with himself.
“Please have a seat,” she gestured to the couch. They sat.
“So, Mister Monster…”
“You can call me Cookie. Everybody else does.”
“How delightful. Tell me, Cookie, what brings you to England all the way from the Americas?”
“A boat,” Cookie said, “A very big one.” He nodded.
“Of course,” she smiled, “Did you enjoy your voyage?”
“Me like it very much, until boat ran out of cookies. Then, Cookie very sad.”
“Yes, well, deprivation can be a very hard pill to swallow,” Veronica observed.
“Not swallow pills.” Cookie admonished, “Swallow cookies instead. Drugs bad.”
“Words to live by, indeed. Many of the Americans I’ve met made their fortunes in either oil, or the railroads. If I may ask, where are your interests?”
“Cookies,” Cookie said, nodding solemnly, “Me very interested in cookies.”
“Ah. So you own a chain of bakeries, then?”
“No. Me want cookies. Could we have cookies now?”
“Heavens,” Veronica glanced out the window. It was scarcely past noon. “Well, it’s not quite four o’clock yet, but I imagine we could have an early tea. Penelope, if you could dash off to the kitchen and whip something up…”
“Yes M’Lady.”
Penelope dashed off to the kitchen. In scarce more than the blink of an eye, she came back with a tray. On it were a teapot, cups, and a plate of lovely cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off She poured him a cup of tea. He regarded the sandwiches with his very large, very round eyes.
“Those not cookies,” he said, puzzled. Gingerly, he took one, sniffed it, shrugged, and ate it. Then he descended on the plate and ate the rest of the sandwiches with less delicacy than the Vandals visited upon Rome. When he was done with them, he ate the plate.
Veronica witnessed the spectacle in silent horror.
“Cookies?” he asked.
The maid again ran to the kitchen and came back with a plate of ladyfingers.
“Cookies!” the monster exulted, grabbing double handfuls and cramming them into his mouth.
“Nom, nom, nom,” he said, “So good! More cookies?”
Penelope grinned nervously.
Veronica leaned forward. “Surely we have more cookies than that in the kitchen. Either that, or we’ll need to get you some very comfortable shoes. Something suitable for walking the streets.”
“I’ll take another look,” Penelope pledged. Soon she was back with a tin of Jammy Dodgers.
“Cookies!” Cookie cried out with ecstatic glee, “Nom, nom, nom,” he said, “So good! Such good cookies! Need more cookies!”
“I’m sorry, Mister Monster,” Penelope was close to tears, “But those were our last cookies. We’re all out of cookies now.”
“Why?” Cookie threw his head back in angst, as if his very soul were in torment, “Why is world so cruel? How can Cookie Monster live in world that runs out of cookies? Life without cookies is agony! How long must Cookie Monster endure the pain of having no cookies?”
“There, there,” Penelope patted him on the arm.
“There’s an easy remedy,” she said, “If you can be patient, I can go into the kitchen and bake some more cookies.” She stopped patting his fur, and began stroking it instead.
Cookie stopped gazing heavenward and peered into her eyes.
“You can make cookies?” he asked, “You would make cookies for me?”
“Mister Monster,” she said, digging her fingers deep into his fur, her voice pitched low and throaty, “I’ll bake all the cookies you want.”
“Marry me!” he demanded.
Veronica perked up, “What? Hey, wait! He’s supposed to marry me!”
“Of course I’ll marry you, my cerulean stallion. You may think you know hunger, but I have needs too. I can’t live another moment without tasting your synthetic fibers.”
She kissed him long, she kissed him hard, and it got kind of gross, because he really didn’t have proper lips.
“Give…me…cookies,” he said, dazed, and out of breath.
“I’ll give you nothing,” she said, “If you want cookies, you’re going to work for them.”
She took his hand, and they ran to the kitchen.

Yeah, I know it's not very good. I'll try to do better. See you in 24.

Post Date: 13th May, 2016 - 8:31am / Post ID: #

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I think I've hit my wall, after doing so well for so long. I was really impressed with myself, sticking with this project for five months so far, but I have to confess, I'm feeling drained. I don't know that I have anything left in me. The last two weeks have been rough, because my work schedule has been weird, but yesterday I had a day off, and I squandered it. An entire day to myself, with no distractions, and an I wanted to do was sleep. I managed to hammer out less than five hundred words, I read other peoples work, did some lawn work, and took naps. So, I'm feeling pretty lousy about myself today. Maybe I deserve this. I had this inflated image of myself, thinking I was a big deal because I was published. Maybe I needed to be taken down a peg. Then again, today is a brand new day, and feeling sorry for myself isn't going to help anybody. So here is what I did yesterday:

By Ken Green
“Hey!” Larson yelled, “I think I found something!”
Vasquez clipped her multiscanner to her utility belt and headed over to him. Whatever he had was bound to be more interesting than recording the local vegetation. That’s why she hated surface excursions: all she ever got to do was record vegetation. And this planet had tons of it: they had landed the ship near a tropical rain forest. She had wanted to go to the beach, but stupid Larson had spotted an anomalous energy reading, and they had to check it out.
“What have you got?” she asked as she drew closer.
Larson stepped aside to reveal his find: a huge tree with a hollow in its trunk.
“Big deal,” she said, “You found a tree. In a forest. This planet is lousy with trees.” To be fair, it was a pretty weird tree: a big trunk, easily two meters in diameter, with stunted branches that looked more like an afterthought than anything else, kind of like baobab trees on Earth. Its surface resembled leather more than tree bark, but, even weirder than that, it seemed to be hollow.
“Take closer look,” he said, pointing to the hollow.
Vasquez unclipped her multiscanner and keyed the flashlight app. The hollow was full of junk: broken walnut shells, bits of rock, and a blanket.
“Holy crap,” Vasquez said, “It looks like somebody lives in there. Has this planet ever been settled?”
Girl made her way home. It had been a good day of hunting. She had caught two fat squirrels, and found enough nuts to fill her bag. Time to go home, fill her belly, and take a nice nap.
Her happiness turned to horror as she reached the clearing. Strange creatures had found her hollow and were digging through it!
Before they could see her, she hid behind a tree. They were so big, she knew she couldn’t fight them, or scare them off. Maybe if she waited they would go away.
“This might not be what it looks like,” Vasquez said, as she pulled items out of the hollow, “Some terrestrial birds collect shiny items. This might just be an animal’s nest.”
“Maybe,” Larson said, “But almost all these objects came from the New Hope. It seems like an unlikely coincidence.”
“You might be right,” she said, pulling a soft object out. It was a teddy bear, filthy a worn out.
“My God,” Vasquez said, “This belonged to a kid.”
As girl watched, the creature dug further into the nest. It paused, and pulled out Bearbear.
“No!” Girl screamed and ran at the creature, “Leave Bearbear alone!”

Okay, new day, new start. I just need to do it. See you in 24. Thanks for putting up with me, even if I don't deserve it.

Post Date: 14th May, 2016 - 11:57am / Post ID: #

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Today, I'm taking a look at the first thing I wrote after deciding to try writing. It's fan fiction, and it's really, really bad. It's also too long to post in a single go. So I'm breaking it down into chunks.

By Ken Green

(Set in the period between Enterprise and TOS- early days of Starfleet)
“Ensign Ellen Carter, reporting for duty, Sir!” I snapped to a salute, and gave the commandant my best smile. A lot of people tell me that I try too hard, isn’t that what Starfleet is all about? Trying to be the best person you can?
The commandant returned my salute. “At ease, Carter. I have called you here to tell you, you’ve been assigned to the Ni’Var.”
My heart jumped. Getting assigned to a ship so soon after graduation was an honor. I wondered what I had done to deserve it.
“Yes, Sir! But, the Ni’Var is a Vulcan ship…”
He crossed his arms. “Is that a problem, Ensign?” He asked.
“No, Sir, of course not, Sir.” But it was a little intimidating. So little was known about Vulcans. I had heard rumors that they didn’t like humans very much, but that just meant I would have to win them over. Nothing a perky redhead like me couldn’t handle. I’d make them love me. How could they resist? With my crazy Irish curls and freckles, I was adorable.
“I’m glad to hear that. I don’t need to tell you how important it is to build a good relationship between us and the Vulcans. This personnel exchange program is an important first step. It took a lot of work to even get the Vulcans to agree to it.”
“Yes, Sir!” I tried to sound confident, but, I have to confess, it sounded like a pretty big responsibility. I wondered why they chose me. I wasn’t at the top of my class. “I won’t let you down, sir!”
“See that you don’t. The Ni’Var docks thirty days from now. Dismissed.”
So the first thing I did was track down the only Vulcan I knew, Salak. We were in the same astrogation class. I found him in the study hall. “Hey, Salak. Can ask you a question?
He thought about for a while. “I will permit it.” He said.
“Great. I just found out I’ve been posted to the Ni’Var, and I was wondering if there was anything I could do to fit in.”
“Fit in?” He asked.
“Yeah. I don’t know much about Vulcan customs, and I don’t want to just barge in there and do something stupid.”
He sighed. “I do not wish to be cruel. Perhaps…”
“It’s okay,” I said, touching his hand to reassure him, “I can take criticism. I need to know.”
“Very well.” He said pointing to my hand. “Don’t do that.”
“Don’t do what?” I asked, puzzled.
“You just reached out and touched me. Humans are always doing that. Vulcans don’t, and we don’t like it.”
“Okay, good to know.”
“And you’re loud. We Vulcans are a subtle and perceptive people. We can hear you perfectly. But you humans tend to shout.”
“Yeah, I can tone that down, I guess…”
“And that’s another thing. Every time I take a breath, you jump in to fill the space with words. Sometimes, I think your species has a collective phobia of silence.”
“Well, maybe…” I stopped myself. Point made.
“My best advice is to just be yourself. Only not so much.”
I nodded.
“Oh. And nodding.” He said.
“You don’t like nodding?” I asked.
“It’s very distracting.”
“Anything else?” I asked, dreading the answer.
“Again, I do not wish to be cruel…”
“Go ahead…” I was cringing on the insides.
“You need to change your diet.”
“My diet? Why?
“Vulcans are vegetarians. When you eat meat, it permeates you, and we can smell it. To us, you smell like death.”
Oh. “Well, that’s easy. I can eat vegetarian. I love Indian food.”
“Well, we don’t. All those spices. It’s very offensive to us. I’ll make a list of things you can eat.”
It wasn’t a very long list.

Poor pretty ensign Carter. So earnest, so eager to please. What troubles await her on the Vulcan ship? I kind of want to rework this, take out the fanfic elements, and make a proper story out of it. If anything good comes of it, you'll see it here. If anything bad comes of it, you'll still see it here. It's a brand new day. Get out and make it awesome. I'll see you in 24.

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Post Date: 15th May, 2016 - 10:11am / Post ID: #

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On the shuttle ride, the pilot wouldn’t talk to me. But that didn’t dampen my excitement. I had spent countless hours in simulators, but this was the real thing! I stepped off the shuttle onto the deck of an actual starship! The first thing I noticed was the smell. The air smelled sort of clinical, with undertones of electricity and machine oil. And just a hint of hydrogen sulfide. (That’s right, Vulcans. You think humans stink? Well, you fart. It’s because of all those vegetables you eat.)
Of course, when I got to the Ni’Var, everybody there hated me. Could I still smell like meat, even after a month of eating nothing but salad? I don’t know, but from the moment I stepped aboard, I felt like I had a repulsion field on me. I couldn’t walk down a corridor without creating a bow wave of Vulcans trying to get out of my way.
As I was settling into my quarters, (They had given me a guest suite, so I was isolated from the rest of the crew.), the chief of services came by to ask about my food preferences.
“We don’t have any dead animals to feed you, but I can requisition some synthomeat.” He said.
“That won’t be necessary, Chief, I’ll eat what the rest of the crew eats.”
“Perhaps you would prefer to kill the animals yourself? I might able to acquire some animals and a sharp stick.”
“That will be enough, Chief! I will eat what the rest of the crew eats, and you are dismissed!” I don’t have to take crap like that from a noncom. I could have put him on report, but I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize the exchange program.
On my first full day, I reported for duty. Executive Officer Sla’Vek personally escorted me to a partitioned corner of the cargo hold. There, waiting for me, was a large pile of colored blocks. They had letters of the Vulcan alphabet on them. He was watching my face for a reaction. I didn’t give him one.
“This,” he said, gesturing towards the blocks, “Is your task. You will sort these blocks by color for the entirety of your eight hour shift, minus your lunch break. Any questions?”
“Is this a joke?” I asked.
“No.” He said. “But if you feel this task is beneath you, you are free to take it up with Commander S’Dar.” Yeah, like I’d do that. If I went running and crying to S’Dar, I’d get labeled as a troublemaker, transferred to a ground station, and spend the rest of my term sweeping sidewalks. No thanks.
“How long will I be doing this?” I knew it was a stupid question, but I couldn’t stop myself.
“For the rest of your tour, I imagine. Unless you wish to resign. You do have that right.”
Yeah, good idea. I should throw away my future because you don’t like the looks of my little round ears.
“That’s a lot of blocks, sir. I’d better get started.”.

Post Date: 16th May, 2016 - 8:52am / Post ID: #

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So that’s how I spent my days. I’d spend the day sorting and stacking blocks into neat piles, and sometime later somebody came and kicked the piles apart so I could sort them the next day. As the days went by, I started stacking the blocks into more elaborate structures. This went on for three weeks, when Commander Sorn noticed. I nearly jumped out of my skin, because he startled me.
“What are you doing, Ensign?” He asked.
“Stacking blocks, sir. It’s my duty assignment.”
He picked up one the blocks, they were soft, with rounded edges. “Did Sla’Vek give you a reason why you should be doing this?”
“No, sir. He just ordered me to do it.”
“I see. Do you have any theories about why Sla’Vek gave you this order?”
“I do, sir.”
“Tell me your theories, Ensign.”
“Sir, I do not wish to appear insubordinate.”
He dropped the block and turned to me. “Ensign, I have asked you a question, and I expect an answer. I will not punish you for expressing an opinion.”
I felt like I was standing in a minefield, and anything I said would blow up my career. But I’m a Starfleet officer, so I told the truth. “Sir, it is my opinion that Mister Sla’Vek gave me this assignment hoping that I would throw a tantrum and disqualify myself from the program.”
“And why would Sla’Vek do this?”
‘Sir, I believe that Mister Sla’Vek wants me off this ship, and further, that he wants the exchange program to fail, because he wishes the segregation of human and Vulcan crews to continue.”
“Do you realize that you are making a serious accusation of a superior officer?” He asked.
“I do, sir.”

He considered this. “Very well. You are off duty for the rest of the day. I’ll have a word with Sla’Vek. You will have a new duty assignment tomorrow.”
And I did. The next day he sent me to Waste Reclamation. So I was fixing toilets. Literally, the shittiest job on the ship. But it was actually something that needed to be done, so it was a billion times better than stacking blocks. And I was on the same duty rotation as everybody else, so, even though I had to do crappy jobs, I was afforded a rich variety of crappy jobs.
And I attacked each one with all the passion I could muster. When I was fixing toilets, I plunged them with a vengeance. When I was on electrical duty, I checked the specs and ran the wires with scientific precision. When I aligned photonic relays, I aligned them to four decimal places.
And I changed the way I spoke. When giving reports, I adopted the clipped, precise speech that Vulcans use. I even cut my hair and dyed it black.
Yeah. That did not go over well at all.
Still, nobody wanted to talk to me, or work with me, or, God forbid, eat with me.
Until T’Hann came aboard. I was eating alone in the mess hall. Like I had eaten every meal for the previous two hundred and ninety days.
“Is this seat taken?” she asked.

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