Tag Archives: Days Until Home

Scandalous Contradiction

This is a continuation of Permanence, but if you missed it, you can still read this. Both parts are still not an official part of Days Until Home. But, and you have to imagine me leaning in close and whispering conspiratorially, there could be an announcement this summer about that… Anyway, these 1,487 words are from the following prompts: Terrible Minds, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader, Sunday Scribblings 2, #3WW, & #SoCS.

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Adelaide was eager to disembark the Juniper Jumper. Even with no advance notice, information brokers found their way into tickets for the short hop from Earth to Luna Station. Some were able to purchase their passage on the atmospheric jumper by purchasing their tickets on the exchange. Those that were tardy ended up paying a premium on the secondary market. At least one information broker stood with her equipment at the boarding gate and simply offered each patron before they boarded triple and quadruple the going rate for tickets. To the young couple who intended to vacation on Luna, a delay of only twelve hours was worth is for the exorbitant profit they would make reselling. Even after paying the taxes on their windfall, they still would have enough to upgrade their accommodations and tuck a little away for the next tax season. She wondered how many ticket holders were re-accommodated to later flights. Adelaide frowned at the euphemism often employed by the corporations. It was an offense to language that they would hide their true actions behind innocent words like that. The flagrant disregard for, and the lengths to which they go to violate an individual’s rights was almost an anticlimax when she saw it in person.

Adelaide did her best to keep out of the digital eye of the brokers. Paparazzi, she remembered the archaic term for the ambush journalists. They were like bitches in heat, their tongues wagging and doing everything to catch her eye. They knew that with Adelaide and Erika traveling together, something was going on. Even a year after their return to Earth and six months after the Kerwood Nine stood trial for the destruction of the mining ship they were still newsworthy. Those that cared about such things knew that there were at lease two other Kerwood survivors living on Luna Station, plus both Jeremy and Old Vicky found their way on board regularly.

Erika complained constantly about the intrusion into their privacy. Adelaide shrugged and shared a knowing and sympathetic smile with the flight crew. At least they kept themselves professional, she thought. The same couldn’t be said for the information brokers.

Adelaide’s years of spacefaring allowed her to know the exact moment that they switched from the fractional gravity aboard the Juniper Jumper to the full-G of Luna Station. Most people knew that something was up when their stomachs lurched from aft to “down” as the jumper aligned itself with the station’s rotation.

As an engineer, Adelaide appreciated the complex mechanism that allowed the station to rotate around the space elevator that tethered the monstrosity of steel and Lexan to Luna. Adelaide would never admit it to anyone, but she felt the pull of Luna. It was as if she was coming home after a particularly long contract.

Adelaide saw one of the flight crew poke her head into the first class cabin and lock gazes with her. Her reaction was slight, and the crewmember nodded and retreated to the cockpit.

“Hey,” Erika pouted when Adelaide grabbed her by the elbow and moved down the narrow aisle.

“We don’t have time for a show,” Adelaide hissed to her companion.
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Permanence

This story isn’t part of official Days Until Home canon or anything. I just wanted to write something today, and felt like writing more in the DUH universe. There are minor spoilers if you haven’t read the entire web serial, so you’ve been warned. Chuck’s doing a one-word title flash fiction challenge, so here’s “Permanence” at 1190 words:

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“I’m worried about her.”

Adelaide closed her eyes for a moment. She breathed in through her nose and out through her mouth. When she opened them, she locked her gaze with Old Vicky’s. “Viktor,” she began, but Helena appeared on screen and smiled at Adelaide.

“Adel,” Helena pleaded, “Viktor would check on her himself, but you’re so much closer.”

Adelaide rolled her eyes. Viktor and Helena were still on Luna Station. The notoriety of surviving the destruction of the Kerwood made Viktor a minor celebrity. Adelaide was counted among the Kerwood Nine as the media dubbed them all. She hadn’t talked to her any more or less than she talked to the Kerwood Chief Engineer, or the rest of the survivors. Since returning to Earth, Jeremy regularly sent recorded messages to them all, and personal messages to Adelaide. He wanted her to help him on conglomerate jobs he performed “in system.”

Adelaide was a pretty hot commodity. Everest and Matsue both tried to recruit her. The offers started with the same position she had on the Kerwood: Main Propulsion Assistant. She spent too many years aboard the Kerwood as an MPA, and she didn’t want a lateral transfer… she wanted to reach for the stars. Eventually some of the smaller corporations started offering her the position of Chief Engineer.

It wasn’t that she was unqualified; she just had a new lease on life, and wanted to weigh her options before accepting permanence. The sound of Old Vicky clearing his throat brought her out of her reverie. She sighed. “ChEng is closer, you know.”

Viktor’s eyes narrowed. “That may be the case, but you know why it should be you to see her.” His eyes softened. “Jeremy has tried…”

Adelaide waved her hand at the crotchety retired miner. “I’ll go see her,” she finally relented. “I guess I could use a holiday.”

Viktor nodded, leaned forward, and the image winked out. Adelaide leaned back in her utilitarian chair and fingered a pendant of schorl tourmaline around her neck. It was a gift from Jessica, and when Erika saw it, she broke off all contact with Adelaide. Adelaide was at first offended that Erika would act in such a manner. It wasn’t as if accepting the black gem meant that Adelaide had chosen one over the other. She walked to the Lexan portal and stared at the sidereal landscape. Her gaze was blank until a piece of debris flared past her view.

Adelaide turned from the portal and consulted her panel. It was bizarre that she had to perform so many supernumerary steps to get anything done. She was used to having her way with the Kerwood computer systems. She located a fast jumper with the annoyingly alliterative name of “Juniper Jumper.” If she hurried, she would make it to landing pad Charlie before the Juniper Jumper left. She wished she had time to visit with Matt Siebert who lived in the same section as her, but he was on Earth practicing his bushcraft searching for a lost ossuary in Austria. Adelaide smiled remembering the rotund Siebert brandishing his chemical welder so long ago in the Kerwood’s escape trunk. She saw a photo of him on the cover of an e-magazine specializing in outdoor life. Siebert had toned up since his stint on the ill-fated Kerwood.

Adelaide stepped out of her quarters and into the undulating flow of foot traffic toward landing pad Charlie. She was not looking forward to seeing her.
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Days Until Home Paperback

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Hey Days Until Home fans! For those of you who would like a dead tree version of the web serial, head over here:
http://daysuntilhome.article94.com
If you use the following code: E4EUKEVT we’ll knock the price down to our cost ($6.95.) We’re working on getting this ready for a proper release in 2017. When that happens, this special edition will no longer be available.

Days Until Home, a retrospective

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Twenty-one weeks, twenty-one chapters. Three authors in three different time zones. The Days Until Home collaborative web serial ended last week. I asked David and Greg to jot down a few thoughts on the project and I added my own two cents. You know, the standard stuff: what we enjoyed, what vexed us, and how the collaborative process was different than our normal writing process. Since the chapters went David, Greg, Mark, I’ve ordered our responses in the same way.

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I’ve worked on collaborative projects before. Danny McAleese and I started the hit new Choose Your Own Adventure-style series Ultimate Ending, where readers make decisions for the character throughout the book and reach endings based on their decisions. However, the [Ultimate Ending] collaboration is more strategic than tactical: Danny writes a book, then I write a book, alternating back and forth and giving each other feedback and ideas. Aside from beta reading and general criticism, each book is either his or mine.

The collaboration on Days Until Home was an entirely different experience. Alternating chapters is simple enough in concept but adds a new dimension to the writing in a lot of different ways.

First, there was very little outlining. Mark, Greg and I wrote down a super rough idea of things at the start, but it was just a guideline to estimate how long the project would be, as opposed to an outline to follow. I’m normally a big outliner, creating outlines that are dozens of pages long, so this was a new (and fun!) experience for me. Each chapter was written mostly on the fly, seeing where it would take me. Near the end of the project the three of us ran some ideas by one-another a bit more, which was necessary since we were hitting the climax, but most of the book was written more-or-less blind.

Second, the goal of each chapter was slightly different. On normal projects I’m always thinking about what’s next: what’s going to happen next paragraph? Next page? Next chapter? Days Until Home always had a big blank space just ahead, since Mark and Greg would be writing the next two chapters before I had my turn again. So instead of setting up my own plots, I felt like I was playing a game of volleyball, constantly setting the ball so one of them could spike it. I really enjoyed this part of the project because it allowed me to “let things go” that I would otherwise obsess over. Normally I’d be focusing on every little detail to make sure everything is consistent and makes sense, or is perfectly explained. This project allowed me to let go of some of those details, “setting” the ball for Mark or Greg instead.

Finally, the biggest part of this project was not knowing where my writing comrades would take things. I would be brainstorming one thing, and then Mark or Greg would drop a big fat (and awesome) new plot that I’d need to work with. As a writer, this was a fun new challenge. There were times when something they wrote screwed with one of my ideas, and I’m sure there were parts I wrote that messed them up, but that forced us to be more creative and work together.

I had a blast working on this project. Writing once every three weeks helped me avoid writing fatigue, so I was always excited to work on the project when one of my chapters was due. Mark and Greg are great guys who I’d be honored to work with in the future. Check out their other published work if you haven’t already!

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Days Until Home – Finale

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Days Until Home: 6

“A lot of COMs traffic now,” Jeremy said looking at a display. His eyes followed the bundle of cables that snaked around equipment and covered most of the deck. They were getting more and more communication from outside the ship as the Kerwood thundered toward Earth orbit. There was increasing concern that the Kerwood was still at maximum cruising speed. The decision was made a few days after the trial to burn hot and hard and request assistance once they reached the Earth.

That was the plan until our COMs array was struck by space junk, Jeremy thought bitterly. They were only a few days away, and their rescuers should’ve been days into preparation, but with no way to ask for help, humanity was left to watch the crippled silent ship head straight for them.

It didn’t help that the Matsue broadcast stories of mutiny, treachery, sabotage, piracy, and kidnapping. The Matsue captain and crew set the narrative and without Captain Hayes and the rest of the Kerwood crew to set the record straight, public opinion was solidly against them.

“It won’t help us, so we ignore it,” Adelaide declared from under a console.

She was trying to create a communications array by linking a series of forearm clusters together and trying to patch the signal through the telemetry array or some other such nonsense. Adelaide seemed to have one crazy plan after another. In the last two weeks, Captain Hayes was seen less and less. He appeared to throw himself into the work required, and it fell to Adelaide and Jeremy to get them home. Even with the trial uncovering the saboteurs, the captain seemed resigned to the fate that awaited him if they made it home. Each new problem with his ship led to him being more and more focused on their salvation. He and Femke holed up together. He became a living ghost wandering around the ship fixing this and that. He spoke to no one and had decreed that his portion of the dwindling foodstuffs be split among the rest of the crew. Femke, Marisol, and Gauge followed his lead and did the same. They were thinning now, and the captain was now a skeleton of a man. But then again, they all were. Jeremy ate his last piece of food the previous morning.

“Can you get this working?” Jeremy asked of his Main Propulsion Assistant.

“I’ll get it working, or die trying,” Adelaide’s voice sounded out from under the console.

“Not slagging funny, Bähr,” Jeremy retorted, the ire he felt evident in his voice.

“Look, ChEng,” Adelaide said with a heavy sigh, “you hovering and interrogating me won’t get this done any sooner.” She pushed her way out from under the console and locked her eyes on his. “In fact,” she continued, “It might even make me screw something up.”

Their eyes were locked for a moment. “I read you five by five,” Jeremy hissed.

Adelaide shrugged and scooted back under the console. Jeremy knew that he had been summarily dismissed. As he walked through the airlock to Main Engineering, he didn’t even have the energy to be offended by the behavior of his subordinate. He stumbled over a piece of equipment, made brief contact with the bulkhead, and staggered down the passageway. It could very well be the last opportunity he’ll ever have to see the engineering marvel that was the Kerwood.
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Days Until Home – Chapter 20

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Days Until Home: 18

When a fourth slug did not come through, Viktor chanced a look down the hall. He could make out the figure of Telly attempting to reload, and he threw all caution to the wind. Bracing his feet against the edges of the hatch, he used his good arm to heave the wrench. It moved with a velocity that he did not expect, and slammed into his attacker with tremendous effect.

Pausing only momentarily to marvel at what he had done, he pushed off towards the unconscious man and snatched the gun out of the air. Time, we just need time, he kept thinking to himself, as he struggled to bring Telly back towards the cargo bay.

“Leave him out there, Vicky, he’ll only be trouble,” said a wincing Seibert from the open hatch.

“We need him as a hostage, to make Hayes back off,” Viktor said.

“Viktor, don’t be crazy, he was just trying to kill us,” Jessica said, now looking out past Seibert.

“Okay, you might be right,” Viktor said reluctantly, then stopped for a minute to catch his breath.

“I’m getting a call,” Jessica said suddenly, “it’s from Vega on the bridge, what do you think I should do?”

“Hold on,” Viktor said, and pulled himself back inside. He secured the lock before turning to face them, the loaded gun now by his side. “Go ahead and answer it. I wonder what sorts of threats they have for us now.”

“Go ahead, Marisol,” Jessica said, and the other three leaned in close to listen.

“Things have gotten out of hand and the captain is livid. Is there any way that I can convince you all to turn yourselves in?” Marisol whispered.

“We did not do this thing!” Viktor yelled into the comm.

“Even if you didn’t, Viktor,” Marisol said, “we will need to continue the discussion before, but without you men trying to kill one another. The Captain isn’t aware that I’m making this call. He’s convinced that you all had something to do with the explosion, but I don’t want anybody innocent to get hurt. Who’ve you got there, Jess, can you at least tell me that?”

“Why should we trust you, Marisol? You did nothing to stop that lunatic from trying to murder all of us. Seibert is wounded, do you know that? We were unarmed and you all decided to execute us on the spot!”

“That wasn’t me, Jessica, it was Telly and Adelaide. Gauge, Femke and I want justice but we want it done right. We can talk to our captain, make him see things the way we do, but we can’t do it if he feels that you are out there hiding and possibly organizing a mutiny of some sort.”

Jessica studied the face of Seibert and Viktor, they both seemed tired and willing to comply. “What should I say to her? She says she wants to help.”

“Marisol has always been there for us, she’s always stood up to Hayes’ slag,” Seibert said. “Even if they think we did it, she would not let them get away with murder. She’s the only one on the bridge that I trust, but I’m not sure if they will hear anything that she says.”

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Days Until Home – Chapter 19

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Days Until Home: 18

“A mutiny is not what I am suggesting,” Viktor said.

“Then what are you saying?”

Viktor took a sip of coffee to give himself a moment to think. It tasted like water scooped up from the bottom of a muddy hill. The five miners arrayed around him–well, four miners and Rebecca–weren’t getting it.

“I am saying tensions are high right now, and people are becoming suspicious of one another. It is dangerous. We all need to carry protection, just in case.” He hefted the heavy wrench to give the others an idea.

Jessica frowned, the skin on her forehead moving the white bandages of her head. “Won’t carrying weapons escalate the issue?”

Viktor nodded. “Which is why we need a simultaneous show of good faith. To help everyone relax.”

“Like, backrubs or somethin’?” Jimmy said. Nobody laughed. Viktor let the silence stretch a moment before continuing.

“I am going to surrender my personal encryption key to the Captain. I have nothing to hide. Let him see the communication logs with my wife on Luna, all personal computer activity, everything. It’s the only way to set their minds at ease. I think all of you should do the same.”

“Like slag I’m doin’ that,” Jimmy said. “I don’t need Hayes creepin’ through my net logs. A man’s search history is between him and God.”

Viktor ignored him and focused on the others. Siebert, ever the follower, nodded immediately. It might make him uncomfortable, but he’d do it if everyone else did. Jessica took longer. She stared off at nothing for a long thirty seconds. For a while Viktor considered saying something, to make sure she wasn’t still showing symptoms of her concussion.

“Yeah,” she finally said, closing her eyes. “I don’t have a better idea, and I’d prefer Hayes probing my history instead of my physical body.”

Viktor gave her a thank you smile, then used a wall handle to spin himself around in the microgravity to face Jimmy.

“Aww, hell, if I’m the only one who doesn’t do it I’ll look guilty by default,” he said.

“Perhaps.”

“Perhaps you’d throw me to Hayes to save the rest of your skins? After all we’ve been through, Vicky?”

Viktor spread his hands in as reasonable a gesture as he knew. “Hayes is already losing his mind. We’re trying to do whatever we can to defuse it.”

Jimmy looked around the room for support. Jessica and Siebert stared back expectantly. Knowing that Jimmy was the kind of kid to react unpredictably when backed against the wall, Viktor said to the others, “Give us a minute. I’ll meet you in the galley.”
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