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I suppose the number seems mysterious, but it’s born out of curiosity. I’ve written and submitted eleven short stories between December 2021 and today (February 11, 2022). One was already rejected, so I didn’t count it, but ten stories are still “in play,” still submitted and being considered.
Of those ten stories, the word count total is 69,415 words. A small novel basically.
So I thought I’d share a little bit of each of them. There’s no guarantee that any of them will be accepted for publication. But it’ll still be fun to share the first paragraph of each one in no particular order.
The Mahli war cruiser attacked the starship Raeb from below the system’s ecliptic plane, accelerating from behind a ring of asteroids where it was hiding to mask its waste heat. It took less than three seconds for their weapon to form a transitory miniature singularity. It distorted and then shredded major portions of the Raeb’s hull, exposing over half of the ship’s interior to space. But that would be the only shot they’d get.
Chance McLaury woke up with his butt parked on an unforgiving wooden chair, a skull-splitting hangover, and a one-eyed chihuahua asleep on his bursting bladder. The chairback was leaning against the saloon’s southern wall and his booted feet were still propped up on a tabletop. That’s where he managed to lose over $700.00 last night in a poker game with a bunch of outer space aliens. Naturally, the robot had cleaned them all out.
It all began when the colony transport ship Nostradamus entered orbit around planet TOI-700-d. It had traveled over one hundred light-years from the mother planet Earth, taking nearly eight-hundred years from launch to arrival. Light from the red dwarf sun shone dully across its discolored and pitted hull. Once achieving a stable, geosynchronous orbit around the fourth planet’s equator, it dispatched two additional satellites so that it could monitor and communicate with the majority of the world’s surface in real time. Not that there was anyone to communicate with yet.
“Fucking cheap ass mech, I told you to dial it down more!” Lynq Heltmer yelled and dug her nails into her palms but refused to flinch just because some clutzy medmech didn’t know how much current to cut at the pain receptors in her upper spine. She was nude, half-sitting on the cold, metal plating, leaning on her right arm to keep from falling over.
“I’m a lonely Looney Toon blowing up the moon.”
I used to be a gentleman thief, unique in my trade. In fact, I was one of a kind, or I thought so before I met her.
“Still no response from the Tiamat, Captain.” Belisama co-pilot Margarita Avila was a civilian, but aboard ship, she addressed mission commander Elisha Rush by his IU Marine rank. “We’ve been at this for six hours, Avila. So far, besides radio silence, the only unusual thing was finding that one of the SSV’s is missing. Damn peculiar since there was no place for a short-range cargo and recon craft to go once they left the inner solar system.”
She was young, beyond merely beautiful, a literal goddess, and only moments away from a violent kidnapping.
My name is Remmie McNeal and I woke up late. Hundreds of years ago, I was ten years old when I went into hibernation aboard our sleeper ship orbiting Earth. I was ten years old and still asleep when we got to the new planet. The robots installed 6,000 sleeper cradles, including mine, underground at the Satu Colony on Acaris 851-D.
Twelve-year-old Taci Robinson huddled behind the closed hatch of the space station’s coolant control alcove and she was scared to death. Panels illuminated like ghosts throwing eerie shadows. Her legs were cramping. The space was just large enough to hold her, but she couldn’t leave. Outside, klaxons blared and yellow lights spun, like the end of the world or an airlock rupture.
Add up all the numbers and it comes to a word count of 69415. Re-reading some of their beginnings now feels different than it did when I was writing and editing. Some I like more than others. Some don’t start out as well as I thought they did. I can only hope that someone else out there likes at least some of them, too.
Oh, to find a graphic for this blog post, I “Googled” the number and didn’t come up with much. I settled on what you see above, “69415 in Words.”
Of all the beginning above, do you have a favorite? If so, tell me about it.