Saturday, April 11, 2009

Great Hites # 48

Krista won this week's voting by a landslide with 7 total votes.

This week Hear Great Stories by:
Krista Heiser
Norval Joe
Scott Roche
Ashley Redden

Hear a Promo for:
The Jesus Geeks podcast
Weather Child
Short Cummings Audio

And the new Intro By Kevin Cummings


The Volunteer Bride
By Krista Heiser

She stood in the back of the room and, for what seemed the millionth time that night, prayed to a God she had once mocked as ineffectual and inattentive. Remembered phrases learned in a back pew of the small town church, the same church she had eventually denounced as being lost in antiquity, found their way into the babbling litany inside her skull. Heavenly Father, Most High, Almighty. She would have knelt if she thought the supplication would have brought a miracle, but she had no faith in miracles, not even small ones. No, moving would only draw their unwanted attention, so she prayed silently with her eyes wide open and her head held high.
As she glanced about the well-lit room, one of dozens inside the interstellar spacecraft, she saw her fear and revulsion mirrored in the eyes of the other women. Their expressions, the way they stiffened whenever one of the males approached, told her they hadn’t understood, either. There had been no hint or warning that their prospective grooms would be anything but human.
She should have asked. Should have known something wasn’t quite right. After all, she had found the brochure in the shelter’s soup line. Blue-green waters, white sands, palm trees and an array of exotic flowers decorated the cover. Layered over the picture were the simple words, “Become a bride. Pick your honeymoon location now.”
She hadn’t thought to question why anyone would leave such inappropriate literature in a soup kitchen – no one in the weakly lit room could afford such luxuries, not when watered-down soup and near-moldy bread were welcome treats – instead, she had picked up a copy because fantasies were free and one of the few things left to her. Captivated by the pictures, she had nearly finished her soup before the words on the page made any sense.
Without any friends or family to notify, she had set out for the Intergalactic Public Relations satellite office. Every established city had one. The one in this city – the name of which she had forgotten or never learned – stood next to a military recruitment office. Behind the two towering structures she had glimpsed the Space Platform and the shuttles that would carry her and her new husband off-world.
Eager to escape the poverty and illness plaguing the multitude on Earth, she had entered the cold, polished interior of the Public Relations building. Showing the brochure to the smiling receptionist, who she thought now may have been smiling just a little too much and for a little too long, she had been escorted to a small conference room.
Gripping the brochure like her next hot meal, she had sat through a brief presentation of the various locations she could pick. Beautiful alien worlds had flashed before her eyes to the sway and tempo of light-hearted, jazzy music.
She had picked one of the planets. She couldn’t remember now why she had picked that one, what had drawn her to that particular landscape or location. But she had picked one and that had set everything into motion. It had put her name on the contract and her signature on the consent form. With the paperwork out of the way, she had been fed, clothed, bathed. She had peed in a cup, given blood, and let them mess with her teeth. It had taken her a few days to realize the toothache she had suffered for the last few months, the one that had caused so much swelling and discoloration, was gone. For the first time in months, she had felt healthy and hopeful. Not even the nausea from the injections had diminished her sense of good fortune.
Until now.
One of the indigo-skinned males bumped her as he moved past. His weight threw her off-balance, forcing her to move when she had wished only to blend into the dull whitewashed walls. As she threw out her hands to steady herself, his three-digit hand closed about her wrist, preventing her from falling or knocking into the next couple. Silvery eyes with no hint of black pupil focused on her with shark-like precision. “Pardon me.”
She didn’t speak his language, yet she understood him, immediately and without fear of misunderstanding. One of the injections, one of the more painful ones, had inserted a translation device into her bloodstream. As she had been warned, the microscopic chip had traveled through her circulatory system until it had found its home in the parietal lobe and inserted itself into the left hemisphere of her brain. Or was it the right hemisphere. The details were a bit fuzzy still.
As they stared at each other, she wondered what other differences set their races apart. Manners, taught to her in an age she had nearly forgotten, an age that had preceded the diseases and plagues, the wars and the skirmishes, reasserted themselves. “That’s quite alright.”
She even managed to smile. Somehow.
She realized then that he had not let her go, that he still held her wrist. Instinct told her to pull away, to put distance between them, but then his voice was in her head. “As you chose my planet, I Choose you.”

Hot Dogs in the Park
By Norval Joe

It was a pleasant day in the city park, and though it was the lunch hour, they were the only two there.
He smiled a toothy grin at her, winked his eye, and licked his lips. She looked his way and sniffed the air; It wasn't as if she needed to, she could smell him without even trying. He didn't smell bad, just not very interesting.
He walked over and sat down next to her, as she lay, sunning herself. "Your big head is casting a shadow on me," she said and looked away. Now that he was close enough for her to really see him, she realized that he wasn't bad looking at all.
He stood and walked around to her other side and sat again. She found herself looking directly at his chest; full, nicely shaped and muscular.
She snorted; an awkward, accidental, sound, and she was aghast. She turned to look away from him, again, trying to hide her embarrassment.
He leaned over, his mouth close to her ear. "What do I have to do to keep your attention", he whined, then he laughed.
'Oh, you have it!', she thought. She was getting used to his smell and there was something attractive about it.
"I don't know," she said eventually, "Tell me something interesting."
He thought for a moment. "I'm pure," he said, hopefully.
She rolled her eyes. "That's what they all say. And that's not very interesting, anyway."
"OK," he said, "You have the most alluring, deepest brown eyes that I have ever seen. They draw me and suck me into them, and hold me there; they tell me that I am your pet, that I must be obedient to your every command."
She grinned, and said, "That's close. And very flattering, I might add. But I want to hear something that says, 'This guy is something special!' I want to hear something that Wows me."
He thought for a moment more, and with a gleam in his eye, he said, "I'm a super hero. I can fly."
She couldn't help it; she laughed out loud. "That's one I haven't heard before," she said and laughed again. Her laugh was a magical song that lifted him to his feet. She stood as well and he leaned his chest into her and her scent was an intoxicating perfume.
She playfully pushed her shoulder into his chest, and said, "You are kind of cute, maybe we could meet for dinner some time."
He was overcome by her nearness and nuzzled his nose behind her ear. He licked her neck. The sensation that rippled from her head to her toes was thrilling, but it was sudden and unexpected. She turned her head to look directly in his eyes and said, "Hold on, Turbo. You're moving a bit fast. I mean, shall we choose where to have the honeymoon, first, or just start naming the children." Her comment more biting than she intended.
He was slow; he was a guy after all; but he clearly read the sarcasm in her tone, and was abashed. She could see the shock on his face and the hurt in his eyes, as he looked down. She felt guilty and small. "Hold on," she said, "I just mean, we only met. Let's take our time."
Just then, a woman approached. "Oh," she breathed, "I have to go. I'll see you around, sometime, ok?" She turned and left.
He sat down, dejectedly, to watch her leave, her stubby legs beating a rapid cadence as she hurried after the woman.
Shocked with realization, he jumped to his feet and barked after her, "I'm Fritz! My name is Fritz!" Floating on the wind, he heard her laugh; that magical laugh; and she said, "I'm Schnitzel."
He sniffed the air as her laughter faded away. The laughter would fade, but her scent wouldn't, he could follow her scent forever. He closed his eyes and followed her in his mind; past the post office, the grocery store, the pizza place. As she approached a row of apartment buildings, his senses picked up another smell; he smelled danger.
Without hesitation, he raced to a park bench. Leaping onto it he vaulted himself into the air. Short forelegs extending in front of him, his long ears flowing across the sleek fur of his neck and back, he flew out, over the city, his ultra-canine powers of hearing and scent, alert; he searched for crime.

Magic Quadrant
By: Scott Roche

A slight pinch on his arm woke the captain. His eyes fluttered open to gaze into the nearly golden eyes of his ship’s physician. Dr. Masudi was striking, so having her face to be the first he was to look into wasn't the worst thing that could happen. She was frowning though and that was rarely a good thing. Her smile was nearly ubiquitous. “Will you marry me?”

The frown turned to a smile. "And where shall we have our honeymoon?" The call and response greeting went back to their first meeting when he woke up in sick bay after his graduation party. It was their little secret. Since then they had become great friends, though they were never romantically involved. When he got the Kongo as his ship, he moved heaven and earth to get her as his doctor.

He tried to stand, but she restrained him.

“Easy Captain.” Her voice was deep and mellow. “You’ve taken a bad fall and I want to scan you before I let you move.” She detached the handheld scanner from the bottom of her tricorder and ran it over his temples. Satisfied with the result, she moved her hand and let him rise.

He stood with a little effort. The table he had been walking towards was now behind him. There was ketchup all over his tunic, at least he thought it was. He ran a finger over a stain and tasted it. Sure enough, not blood.

Masudi made a slightly disgusted sound.

Sean looked up at her, the dark skinned woman was easily three decimeters taller than he was, and smiled. “Sorry doc, it’s crude, but the best test I know of. So what happened?”

She replaced the scanner in its charging unit at the tricorder’s base. “It looks like you hit your head on the edge of that table. There is no skull fracture, or table fracture, evident so you apparently just clipped it. I gave you something to bring you around and to take care of the pain. I don’t detect a concussion either.”

“So what happened?” Sean removed his tunic and tossed it at the bed, moving towards a locker to retrieve a fresh shirt. He was annoyed at having the injury, not that there was any way he could have prepared for the unexpected course correction.

“For that you’ll have to ask Lisor. He is still trying to sort it out.” She slung the scanning device over her shoulder and straightened her pants and blue tunic. She opted to wear trousers instead of the more common short dresses, simply noting that they were more utilitarian. In reality she was a little self conscious of the fact that her legs were almost a meter long. “The thing you should know, well we’re not sure where we are.”

“What?” His voice was a little muffled through the gold material. His head popped out of the hole. “How is that possible?” He started to ask if they had checked the astrogation charts, but that would be a stupid question and would only display the fact that he still wasn’t quite with it. “Belay that.” He waved a hand at her, knowing she’d probably take the questions he did ask as rhetorical. He saw that the light on his data station was flashing and sat down to check it.

“If there isn’t anything else Captain?”

Sean looked up. “Oh, sorry. Any other casualties from the incident?”

Masudi shook her head sharply. “Just our fearless leader. Oh a few bumps and bruises, but you’re the only one who got knocked out.” Her smile broadened.

“Dismissed.” He snapped at her. He wasn’t really angry. One of the reasons he kept her around was that she was nearly immune to his temper and loved to keep his ego deflated. The latter quality wasn’t to the point of disrespect, especially not around the rest of the crew, but it was always ready. He found the combination vital in the person that was not only physician, but counselor. The data came alive on the screen and he struggled to make sense of it. As he read, the communication unit whistled at him. “Thornton.”

“Captain, I trust you are well?” Lisor’s voice betrayed no concern.

“I am. Just knocked around a bit. I’m reading your report. Give me the executive summary.” He continued scanning the stream.

Lisor chuckled. “What you have is the summary, sir.” His voice turned serious. “The only thing I have to add is that Mr. Travis believes that we are nowhere in the Alpha Quadrant.”

Sean whistled. That would put them outside of Federation space and a long way from home, no matter which quadrant they were in. “Well keep on him until he figures out where we are at. I’m gonna pour over this data until I make sense of it. Let me know if anything changes. Thornton out.” He cracked his mental knuckles and started reading in earnest. If they couldn’t figure out what happened then their grandchildren might not see home

The state of Marital Bliss
By: Ashley Redden

Margery practically floated as she sashayed down the residence hall in route to room 142 her long embroidered skirt dancing in front of her moving feet. She was more than excited, Margery was giddy. But this was nothing new. Though the lonely nights were spent at her apartment two blocks away, she returned each and every morning to spend quality time with him. Every morning she underwent the same ritual. But habitual as her mornings were, they never grew old. She swung her hand bag daintily, like a schoolgirl as she walked. “Just a few more steps,” she thought, “just a few more steps to marital bliss, marital bliss and the man of my dreams.”
Finally she arrived. Margery stood for a moment listening, savoring the anticipation of the moment. She knocked twice and, wearing a smile big as tomorrow, entered the room.
“Jacob, my love, it’s me your Margie,” she sang. Jacob lay upon his mattress, slightly raised so that he could better see the wall-mounted television. As she entered his eyelids fluttered. Margery clapped her hands with glee. Jacob was an invalid, comatose as far as the medical community was concerned, but what did they know. For all their fancy smancy education her opinion was that they collectively didn’t know squat. But not her, she was not concerned by their goings on. Margery knew her man.
Over the past seven years she had learned all his mannerisms, no matter how slight. A shift of the finger for an affirmation, a flick of the foot to answer her questions, a flutter of the eyelids, lips or nose to display excitement or concern or any of the other myriad complex emotions that the poor dear must feel while locked into his shell and unable to express himself otherwise.
A little over seven years ago, Jacob had swept her off her feet in a brief but tumultuous two week romance. Margery had never been so happy. They had eloped, been married by the justice of the peace and honeymooned in the Bahamas. Margery still felt her eyes moisten when she thought of the lush beauty of the island Eden that she had explored with Jacob.
Not long after the honeymoon was over, Jacob had fallen ill, becoming comatose almost overnight, though not vegetative but remaining quiescently alert. She had placed him here at a cozy retirement villa and settled down to take care of him for as long as he would need her. She had found the transition from fiery romance to quiet domestic marriage more than fulfilling. The knowledge and security that she was needed by the man she adored seemed, in some compelling way, to complete her. Margery felt that she had blossomed to full womanhood after assuming her role as the doting domestic wife.
Jacob was always there to show his support, a twitch of the nose here, flutter of the eyelids there, quite the chatterbox. On queue, Jacob twitched his nose then both ears as a raspberry fluttered from his closed lips.
“My,” said Margery, “that’s a new one. Jacob, you’re in quite the state today. It’s okay; I have exactly what you need.” Margery put her bag down onto the floral settee; a woman’s touch that, and withdrew a slender bottle of elixir. As she lifted the bottle, Margery thoughts drifted to her father as they always did when she lovingly held this particular bottle.
Her father had been quite a brilliant man, a scientist no less. His formal education had been in pharmaceutical botany, his specialty in herbal medicinals. Margery never understood the complex symbols or many of the huge words, but she listened intently and was always the very best student. Her father’s most prominent research was botanically derived elixirs that affected the body human the results of which ran the gambit from mild sedation to death. Her father was also quite knowledgeable in the traceability of these chemical agents. Luckily, by the time he met his untimely death after an unexpected mysterious exposure to a particularly deadly botanical elixir, Margery had become an adept on the subject.
She swept a single tear from her eye with her index finger; she had dearly loved that man.
She brought the elixir bottle to Jacob’s mouth, slightly prying his lips apart. She unstoppered the bottle and gently touched the contents to his now visible tongue. Jacob’s eyes fluttered once, twice then were still.
“There, there love,” whispered Margery. “Calm down now, everything’s going to be just fine, right as rain,” she said patting his chest lovingly. Margery smiled anew and settling down onto the settee began to remove sewing utensils from her hand bag. “No matter what my love, we’ll always have the wonderful time we spent together on our honeymoon.”
“You just rest now and your Margie will hum us a nice tune,” said Margery as she fastened her linen fabric into the hoop. She began to hum a happy tune as she relaxed with her cross stitching and settled down into peaceful wedded bliss. Jacob lay still as a stone upon his slightly raised bed, eyes fixed upon the unplugged television. Time went on.