The Tale of Ellie Westcott

outlaw

Mugshot and wanted poster for the outlaw Laura Bullion – found at owlcation.com

Ellie was working on her third glass of Cactus Wine when the stranger walked into Billy Bob’s Saloon. His six-shooter and holster hung low on his left hip as he swaggered up to the bar, but his spurs had lost their jingle. Through the haze in her brain, she figured he was the sort of outlaw or gunslinger who thought he’d tamed the frontier west.

Sam was serving hooch that afternoon and he bustled up to the newcomer next to Ellie.

“What’ll ya have?”

“Whiskey. You got any vittles in this joint?” His attitude was churlish, like the sneer on his lips.

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For Queen and Country

feast

Scene from the 2017 film “Victoria & Abdul

The wedding loomed closer and all Tay could do was think of storm clouds. She did love Silas, after a fashion, but while their marriage would join their two Kingdoms into a formidable and wealthy Empire, Udristan to the east and Mutriuka and Kozanar to the south would likely become fearful. Previously, neither her beloved Sasmen or Silas’s nation of Crenia to the west were considered a threat, but this wedding and all of its implications could be interpreted as a prelude to war.

“A penny, Tay.”

She had been staring out her private tower’s western window at the city skyline and the farm lands beyond, and hadn’t noticed that her mother had come in.

Turning, she walked over to her, knelt, and kissed her hand in greeting. Then she rose and faced the Queen. “You would be short-changed, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, that again.” Her friendly demeanor instantly soured, and she adopted an expression of displeasure. “I’m only thinking of our people. This alliance will strengthen both of our nations. You know that.”

“And quite possibly plunge us into a bloody war, Mother.” She spun and walked to the window, and then turned back to her progenitor and the most powerful woman in their nation. “I’ve explained the dynamics of it again and again…”

“Yet you fail to convince me, little one.”

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Growing Back

overgrown city

Found at playstationlifestyle.net – no image credit available

“I’ll be out front taking care of the weeds, Diane.” Rudy Harper was yelling as he held the door open between the laundry room and the garage.

“Okay.” He could hear her well enough, though she was in the kitchen.

He shut the door. The garage was already open to the driveway so he had plenty of light to see. He wasn’t in a good mood, and was muttering to himself as he opened one of the utility cabinets. “Freaking summer. Everybody loves freaking summer. Gonna be another scorcher today, freaking hundred degrees at least. There. Gotcha.” He pulled the bottle of weed killer and a pair of gloves out and closed the cabinet.

Putting on the gloves, he wielded his weapon, preparing to vanquish one of his sworn enemies. “Freaking weeds, always growing up through the cracks in the concrete. Got the lawn mowed and edged early enough, but I’ll end up sweating like a pig over the damn weeds.”

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Going Up

swing

Image credit Gamze Bozkaya via Unsplash

“Get back here, Deric! Do it now!”

The minute Enoch Fischer noticed the boy was missing, he knew there’d be trouble, but he didn’t suspect that not only had some fool strung up a swing at the edge of the cliff, but that the fifteen-year-old would use it.

“Relax. I’m fine. Can’t I have some fun once in a while?” The boy turned his head around as far as he could, but Enoch still could hardly hear him.

“That’s not fun, it’s suicide. Get off this instant.”

“Poor choice of words on your part, Dad.” He was laughing, taunting his adoptive father the way he had since he was able to walk. At the apex of the arc out into empty air, Deric pulled himself up by the ropes, twisted, and then falling, grabbed the seat with both hands. On the return swing, his legs were low enough to drag on the dirt and grass pulling him to a stop.

“You should have seen the look on your face.” He stood and swatted dust off of his pant legs, still laughing at the effect his stunt had on the older man.

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The Haunted Detective

san francisco 1947

San Francisco Chronicle Archives – From the back of the photo: “F Car goes through – The two months long blockade of the Fourth and Market intersection ended completely yesterday morning as F cars moved from Fourth Street across Market into Stockton. While police officers experimented with the new traffic pattern at the complex five-way intersection, workmen rolled down the last of the fill in the project. City officials hope the revised schedule will end one or more downtown bottlenecks.” September 9, 1947.

“I keep telling you this, Marguerite, but you never listen. You are just as breakable as the next person, maybe more so given your line of work.”

Private Investigator Margurite Carter was getting sick and tired of Cohen’s lectures. “Do I tell you how to stitch a cut, Sawbones? Just do your job. I haven’t got all night for you to fix up my broken wing. And what’s that crack about me being more breakable? I’m as tough as any guy in the business.”

“Tell that to your broken arm. It’s a good thing you’re left-handed. From the way you described the thug who jumped you, he must have had a hundred pounds on you. By the way, the name’s Dr. Cohen or Joel, not Sawbones.” The fatherly doctor tightened the binding a little too much on his thirty-year-old mouthy patient just to make his point.

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The Industry

abortion industry

Image found at the European Centre for Law and Justice – ACLI Site Banner – Credit unavailable

Dr. Edna Thomas had drawn the proverbial short straw this month, and was assigned to the “Disposal Unit,” a slight euphemism for the plant that provided for the orderly disposal of what was left of the aborted “material” once the stem cells and other useful biological components had been removed.

Since inadvertent contact with the remains was always a possibility in so massive an operation, she had donned the required smock and gloves, though she wouldn’t use the mask and protective lenses unless the needed to personally examine the “leftovers” on the “production” floor.

“Reynolds, have you go the latest audit info uploaded to the database yet?” She turned to the IT tech sitting next to her at the control console in the glassed-in observation room.

“Just now, Doctor. Nationally, we’ve extracted and processed 108,773 units this month alone. That should keep the bosses happy.” Glenn Reynolds seemed to authentically enjoy his work here, and was totally unphased by all of the blood and tiny body parts passing by in buckets on six parallel conveyor belts.

“What about our plant?”

“Statewide? Wait one. Yes, here it is. Just over 2,100.”

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The Other Side of the Fence

fence

Image credit: Mattias Milos via Unsplash

Gabriel peered though the tear in the chain link fence that separated Lucia from the foothills. The foothills used to be part of a State Park before the west coast cities separated from the rest of California. They kept enough land to go on hikes or walk their dogs, but except for a few community gardens, they had all their food flown in.

He was only sixteen and had been born after “The Schism,” the separation of what his Grandpa called “The Left Coast” from the more rural and conservative parts of the state. He said that other big cities had done the same thing, not just in the U.S., but in Canada and Europe, too. The state capitol had been moved from Sacramento to Los Angeles, and people in the “rightist” coastal areas, like Orange County, had chosen to sell their houses at a premium, and move to mid-sized cities here or in other states such as Idaho, which was a pretty popular destination.

“What makes you so special?”

In spite of his Grandpa, his parents, and most other people he knew, including the kids he’d grown up with, he was curious. What did the coast cities have that the rest of California didn’t? They had video games, but so did he, though not from the same manufacturers, and “coastie” products were deliberately overpriced for what they called “hicks” and “deplorables”or just plain not sold outside the cities.

Same thing with movies, music, and most of the other stuff produced in the big population centers. Yeah, the central part of the state had their own tech and entertainment products, but not the same ones. He’d never see the latest superhero movies or TV shows made by Marvel or DC unless they were pirated, and he suspected that what he and the other kids saw, listened to, and played weren’t quite as good.

“Hello.”

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Cri De Coeur

bruja

Found at multiple locations including imagekays.pw, alkeemia.delfi.ee, taringa.net, and Wicca España – Image credit unknown.

Brittany concocted the nostrum with the finesse of a lover, both in response to Neil’s desperate cri de coeur to save his son’s life, but also for the obscene amount of money he offered. She practiced her witch’s craft with masterful illusion, knowing the potions she created, the billionaire could not find in some pharmacology catalogue.

“So this will shatter the parasitic crystalline growth surrounding his organs and cause them to dissolve into harmless waste?”

Medical science had failed Neil Barrett and he had been forced to turn to the ways of his ancient ancestors, the bruja of the Antillies mountain region on his home planet Slora. Oliver was eight years old and his only child and heir. A mysterious curse had rendered Neil sterile, and if his child died, the Barrett empire would die with him.

“I practice brevity if not empathy, benefactor. The child will live.”

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The Amazing Adventures of Clayton and Julia

hanger

Empty aircraft hangar in Algiers, Algeria – Photo credit unavailable.

“The hangar lacks any conventional aircraft, but then, we didn’t come here for conventional aircraft, did we?”

“Clayton, you’re out of your mind. You don’t even know if it will fly.”

“My dearest Julia, it’s been sitting in this rust trap for over half a century, but I’ll bet my right family jewel this thing will take us to the stars.”

“Don’t call me dearest. I’m your co-pilot, not your girlfriend.”

“Figure of speech, love. Figure of speech.

He liked the way she complained when he teased her, but then his manners with women had always been lax.

“How did you find this again?”

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Bobbie Jo’s Comeuppance

fake prada

Found at vogue-element.cn

Bobbie Jo wouldn’t know class if it crawled into her knockoff Prada and went home with her. Of course, along with adopting ersatz haute couture, she made everyone call her Roberta after graduating from Einstein University in Sagan City. But a deal was a deal, and since her home colony world Drake had paid for her free ride tuition to Einstein, including passage to and from Epsilon Eridani, she was obligated to return to what she now called “a provincial backwater wasteland.”

“Welcome back, Bobbie Jo.” Omer Thorpe was the President and CEO of Biosynth, the world’s one and only bioengineering company, and they desperately needed skilled medical engineers. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.”

“I can’t say it’s good to be back Omer, but for the next ten years, I’m yours. Oh, and please call me Roberta.” They shook hands, and although the Grandfatherly man was impeccably clean, she still felt like she was touching something that came out of the rear end of a rat.

“Oh, you’re just spoiled by all that high life on Campbell. I hear Sagan City is quite a gem compared to any of our local communities.” He continued smiling and winked at her. He’d been teasing with Bobbie Jo ever since she was in pre-school. Everyone in Tysonville knew each other and always had since it was founded three generations ago.

“You have no idea.” She looked around the lobby, which was as bright and modern as the lobbies of any corporation she’d visited on Campbell, but after six years on the premier colony planet, coming back home was a major let down, coloring her every perception of life on the fourth planet orbiting Tau Ceti.

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