Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.



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 artistic endeavors.

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 calling!”

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 Addison’s face.

“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.

It was love.

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, “Your:aunt:wishes:me:to:inform:you:that:there:is:a:gentleman:

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 thing.”

“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!”




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