Here's something a little different.
I have very
occasionally posted my original fiction on this site. Part of that is typical I'm not very good, am I?
writer jitters and part of it is the hope that I will someday get my fiction published so I shouldn't jeopardize a sale by posting it here for free.
But I was recently reading Terrible Minds
and Chuck Wendig put forth a writing challenge
that actually spurred me into action. His challenge was to combine two genres (choices were Dystopian Sci-Fi, Cozy Mysteries, Serial Killer, Lost World, Spy Fiction or Bodice Ripper) into one 1000-word or less story. I'm not entirely sure why, but an idea for a Sci-Fi Bodice Ripper came to mind. I wrote this in about six hours and it comes in exactly at the 1000 word mark, less the title. Enjoy.
Miss Addison Middleton-Fletcher receives a guest.
Miss Addison Middleton-Fletcher lived with her dowager aunt
at a volt-farm named “Arcadia.” While Miss Addison thought the hot,
cantankerous work of harvesting the wane rays of the sun and converting them to
steam better suited to ruffians and mutagenics, she reluctantly agreed that the
farm had provide her with a fine enough lifestyle and the freedom to pursue her
She was engaged in one such practice when her aunt entered
the sitting room.
“Oh, my Addison!” She exclaimed. “What wondrous craft are
you undertaking now?”
Miss Addison beamed and held up an unevenly knotted hemp
cord for her aunt’s perusal.
“Dottie!” Miss Addison exclaimed, for this was how she
addressed her aunt, “do you truly like it? I had some trouble some of the knots,
but I find it is still pleasing to the eye, is it not?”
“Well enough, little duck,” Dottie replied. “And it will
make a fine welcoming gift when that handsome Mr. Deeringhouse next comes
A shadow flickered across Miss Addison’s face. How long had
it been since Arcadia had last hosted Mr. Deeringhouse? A month? Two?
Dottie’s brow knitted as she realized how she had misspoke.
“My dear, my dear,” she cooed, “I am quite certain that Mr. Deeringhouse has
found himself away from our home due to circumstances of business! It is his
travels in the North that keep him away, for that is such a wild and
unpredictable land! I hear tell it is peopled with the absolute worst sort!
Sand herders and soot merchants!
Nihilists and cannibals! Why, I should not be surprised to hear that Mr.
Deeringhouse risks his very life with every journey!”
At this Miss Addison put a fist to her mouth, tears
dribbling down her cheeks at the thought of her beloved in jeopardy. Dottie
produced a stained lace handkerchief from her bodice and dabbed at Miss
“Now, now, my sweet,” she soothed. “Stop these tears. Look,
you’re smearing your concealer.”
Dottie lifted the kerchief to show a greasy white smudge.
Her ministrations had revealed a raw, blistered patch under the left eye, heretofore
hidden with an artful application of make-up.
Miss Addison leapt up and fled the sitting room, stopping
only once she was ensconced in the sanctuary of her dressing room. She
collected herself quickly and surveyed the landscape of her face.
At nineteen she was still of the age and appearance that men
fancied. True, outside of the city limits where she and her aunt dwelled was
rife with radiation that aged the skin and turned fertile young girls into
barren spinsters in a brace of decades… but she was not there yet. Not yet!
Miss Addison knew that her remote location precluded the
possibility of her catching the eye of a Magistrate or Nobleman who would
select her to be their reproduction-mate. However, the wealth of her Aunt allowed
Miss Addison admission to some of the grander soirees in the City. It was at
one such function that she first met Mr. Deeringhouse.
He was handsome and dashing; his skin baring hardly any
boils or scars. She begged an associate of Dottie’s to introduce her at once.
And once so introduced, she was stricken. As was, it seemed,
Mr. Deeringhouse. He called upon Miss Addison every single day for a week. They
spoke cordially enough, but his eyes stared into her with such intensity that
she had to look away.
At the end of the week, with great regret, Mr. Deeringhouse
had to depart for travels in the north.
She had not heard from him since then.
Ah, but the hopeful heart is light! She fantasized of the
day that they would enter the High Chamber as rep-mates, he carrying a scarlet
canister marked with a black triangle that contained the sum total of his
genetic code; and she doing likewise, her canister marked with a circle. Their
genomes would be combined to produce a child, strong and fine featured.
She was wrenched from her reverie by the hissing clunk that
heralded the approach of their automaton servant, Higgs.
“Excuse:the:interruption:miss,” Higgs intoned in its hollow voice,
Happy day! Miss Addison’s heart fluttered and took flight as
she hurried with all due haste to the east end of the residence.
There she encountered not Mr. Archer Deeringhouse, but a
different man altogether. He was dressed in the dull silver coveralls of an
outside laborer, his face obscured by a scarf wrapped tightly around his mouth
and nose. Over his eyes were black goggles with only a thin horizontal sliver
for sight. He wore heavy leather gloves and carried a well-worn satchel. He was
covered in yellow dust that cascaded off him, forming small mounds around his
heavy boots. Dottie would be most displeased.
“Addison Fletcher?” the man growled in a thick voice.
Miss Addison’s nose wrinkled at his abruptness. “Miss
Middleton-Fletcher, if you please,” she
said curtly. “And you are…?”
The man put down his satchel and pulled the goggles up and
away from his face, revealing ghostly white skin beneath. He blinked rapidly,
then wiped some grit out of one eye. Kneeling down he opened the satchel and
rummage inside. Without raising his head, he said, “He right… you a pretty
“Whom d-do you mean?” Miss Addison stammered. “Do you mean…
are you an… associate of Mr. Deeringhouse?”
The man spoke. “Mr. Deeringhouse… he dead. But he wants you
have this thing.” Without further explanation, he rose and strode out, leaving
only a haze of yellow dust.
Only when she heard the the airlock re-seal did her gaze fall
to the floor. There, on the threadbare carpet stood a faded red canister marked
with a black triangle.
She fell to her knees and cradled the container, tears
streaming down her ruined cheeks. “Oh,
Archer!” She sobbed. “You do love me, you do!”