This is a FridayFlashFiction for Chuck Wendig’s terribleminds.com site. The challenge was to f**k with your characters… to build up a story one cruelty at a time. limit 1000 words; my story has 991. shortlink http://wp.me/p1BAlV-11
The Wait Louise Sorensen August7, 2011
Another explosion rocked the ship.
“Damage report!” The Captain braced his forelegs; coolant hissed from ruptured conduits.
“The ova carrier was breached, Captain,” his First Officer said. “Life signs have ceased.”
“Abandon ship,” the Captain‘s Cortical Enhancer whispered.
“I‘m sorry,” it replied.
“Abandon ship,” the Captain ordered.
“Aren‘t you coming with us, Sir?”
“I‘ll be along, First. Go.” They touched claws, then the First scrabbled along the bleeding walls of the ship to the life pods.
The Captain sang the Song of Sorrow.
“Abandon ship,” his C.E. screamed. Before he got to the third verse, the ship exploded. Safe in his skull, protected by a heat resistant helmet, the C.E. saved the Captain‘s memory.
“Where are we?” the Captain asked it.
“On a planet. Dug in. We must report.”
“And the crew? The cargo?”
“Gone… all gone.”
“Did the young survive?”
The C.E. hesitated. “Captain, we must report the analysis of the enemy systems to… to… “
“C.E., we were the last. Surely you remember that.” The Captain would not communicate again. His last cells winked out.
The C.E. powered itself down. Dormant for millennia, it formed a mouse and scurried onto a forest floor to collect data. Trembling at spring thunder, scenting the tang of autumn leaves, it felt terror and pain at death by sharp talons. Sleep. It woke when men felled the forest, then went back to sleep.
“Could you cut down on your smoking a little while you’re here please, Mom?” Lisa said, as her mother exhaled. Lisa’s newborn squirmed and screamed, red faced.
Her mother fixed her with a stare, ”I’ll smoke where I want, when I want, any time I want.”
Lisa didn’t mention the smoking again; kept the windows open and fan on, despite the heat wave. After her mother went home, she didn’t phone her daughter for fifteen years.
“Hi Mom. It‘s Lisa. I just phoned to wish you Happy Mother‘s Day.”
“That‘s nice, Sweetheart. No, I can‘t visit… very busy. You‘re welcome to come here of course.”
“Hi Mom. It‘s Lisa… Merry Christmas.”
“Thanks Sweetheart. No, I can‘t come to visit. Dad and I are going on a cruise.”
“Hello Lisa. It’s Mom. Your Father has died.”
“Mrs. Williams? I’m Hal Witherspoon, your mother’s lawyer. I regret to inform you that your Mother has passed away. I‘m very sorry for your loss. Uh… she left her entire estate to your cousin. I‘ll send you the papers to sign.”
“What did you do that made her so mad?” her husband Jake said, staring at bills on the kitchen table. Their dog Seth, chin on paws, looked up at Jake.
“I asked her to cut down on her smoking a little while she was here with the baby.”
When their son David was seventeen, Jake took him out in the family car to teach him to drive. They were broadsided by a drunk running a red light.
Lisa didn’t cry at their funeral. She took on more hours at the restaurant and a job cleaning offices at night to pay the bills.
“How’re ya doing Seth old boy?” She dished out a can of dog food and filled his water bowl, rubbed him behind his ears, set her alarm clock for four hours, and collapsed on the couch. Seth ate, nosed her hand, and went to sleep.
She woke up one night to the smell of smoke. Seth guided her through the murky rooms and out of the house.
“Never seen a place go up so fast,” the Fireman said. He took care of Seth until Lisa was released from questioning.
Nowhere to turn, Lisa walked east until she reached The Donut Palace.
“Sure, I’d be glad to help you out,” said Bob, the owner. “Jake was a good friend. You can stay here… eat all the donuts you want… just serve during the day, and swab the deck after hours.”
“Can‘t you talk?” Bob would ask her, but after her initial plea for help, she never said a word.
“Can‘t you smile?” She never smiled.
One evening she looked up from her mopping. Seth, lying in his usual place, wasn‘t breathing. He had laid his snowy muzzle on his paws and passed away.
She knelt down beside him, howling as tears streamed down her cheeks. Finally, she put her arm around him and went to sleep.
Bob found them curled up together the next morning; carried Lisa to her cot; wrapped Seth in a tarp and put him outside.
When Lisa looked around for her dog, Bob pointed to the back. She lifted the tarp away from his face and petted him on the neck.
“Goodbye, Sweetheart…such a good boy.”
Walking up the road, she didn‘t stop until late that night. She followed a long driveway in the dark, bumped into a tree trunk and sat down.
Three days later she was still sitting there, watching the sun and the moon and the stars go by.
She awoke to tents, bleachers and food vendors; the annual Sheep Dog Trials. Spectators and their dogs crowded the park.
Even in the shade, it was hot. There were doggie pools all over for the performing dogs.
A Border Collie named Loyal finished his run. He staggered to the tree where Lisa was sitting, collapsed and stopped breathing.
Below, the C.E. sensed the two life forms. It sent a tendril into the body of the dog and stimulated vital systems. The dog‘s heart started beating again. It gasped, got up and wandered off to a doggie pool.
Where it had lain, the earth swelled up and formed an exact replica of the dog. It crept to her on its belly and licked her hand.
“It‘s not much, but it‘s a beginning,” said the C.E./Captain/dog.
Lisa’s eyes opened wide; she reached her hand out and petted the dog on the head.
It nuzzled her hand. “I am Loyal.”