Friday, August 22, 2014

Prompt: Catching a Ride (switch up the genre)

Write about obtaining transportation in at least two different genres, such as science fiction and epic fantasy.

Note: I originally planned to only post the prompt, to re-start this blog, which has waited in the wings while I dealt with some real life challenges. Thanks again to those of you who shared your thoughts, comfort and encouragement the past few weeks. But as soon as I thought of the prompt, I thought of two different scenes, so here they are…

1) Science fiction

Nila leaned into the shadows but avoided touching the brownstone walls. Lined with fibre, the building would report her location within seconds. Glancing around to make sure no one else was in the alley, she closed her eyes and scanned the nets. Brix could do it wide-eyed, and you’d never know he was accessing. No alarms. No reports on the open nets. Yet. She still had some time.

Darting to the end of the alley, she posted a ride price on the local net and held up her open left hand. An empty cab passed without slowing, uninterested in her offer. The next had a fare, but blinked his lights. He would have taken her offer, so she was on track. She pumped her fist in the air to thank him. As her fingers splayed open, another empty cab swerved to the curb and slid open its passenger door.

Nila leaned closer without entering the contract area and looked for the driver’s card. Quick scan. No alert. He was cool. She climbed in, and the door slid closed as the safety harness settled over her shoulders. “Canal Street. Start on the west side and head towards Chinatown. I’ll tell you when we get there.”

The cabbie nodded and moved into traffic. Not chatty. Good.

Would she know the place when she saw it? Would she remember? Brix took her before she was wired. She couldn’t even call up a saved memory. She’d have to trust her own brain. Ha. Fat chance of that.

“I have to” she muttered.

“What’s that,” the cabbie called back.

Nila leaned back against the seat. “Nothing,” she said. I have to find him.


2) Fantasy

Sabhan stood back on the platform, mesmerized by the swooping dragons. A young man climbed up the steps to her left and walked straight to the front edge. He scanned the air and jumped without hesitation. Sabhan’s heart leapt in her throat. Then she saw him a hundred lengths away, on the back of a red and brown dragon with long, slender wings. The dragon was circling a thermal while he got settled. When he picked up the long neck reins and pulled them tight, the dragon arched its neck and dove, picking up speed until it burst forward and flew quickly out of sight.

The platform guard strolled closer to Sabhan and smiled kindly. “First time, huh?”

She nodded tersely, staring out past the edge of the platform.

“You’ve got your cert, so you’ve practiced, but it’s still tough the first time. Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.” He moved closer to the platform.

“Don’t think about it too much. Just run and jump. They’ll get you. That’s what they’re here for.”

What if they miss? She didn’t say it aloud, but he read it in her wide eyes.

“Don’t worry,” he said again, and laughed. “We haven’t lost a dragon rider in over twenty years.”

Uncle Dajeq. Sabhan froze. What if the dragons let her fall, too?

Her uncle’s death had shamed her family. Crippled them. Noone would ride the dragons after that. And without the dragons, there was nowhere to go. Sabhan steeled herself, standing tall and clenching her fists at her sides.

“That’s a girl,” the guard said, seeing her move. “Don’t think. Just jump.”

Sabhan ran toward the edge of the platform, focused on the dragons flying on the farthest horizon, and jumped.

She fell. And then hit a solid wall. A moving wall. Carrying her up, up, past the platform, where the guard waved. The blue and orange dragon was the largest she had ever seen. Her legs could barely reach across its back. The reins rested against its raised neck scales, and Sabhan leaned forward to pick them up. She felt the dragon’s growl along the neck and across its back. Snatching her hands away, she wondered what to do.

How could she direct the dragon without the reins? Its wide, angled wings swept slowly up and down as it rode the thermal higher. Sabhan rested her hands on its back and felt the warmth beneath its delicate scales. She slid her right hand along its side, and it tilted to the right. Straightening, she slid her left hand from the base of the raised neck scales down toward her leg. The dragon banked to the left. Ahhh…

Sabhan leaned forward again. “All right. No reigns. We’ve got a long way to go.” Could the dragon hear her? Could it understand?

She pushed her hands forward and slid them evenly down the sides, then lifted her left hand and pushed her right toward her knee.

“Let’s fly.”

The dragon swept its wings back and dove, banking out of the thermal to the right, before it leveled out and stretched its wings wide, sailing the air currents toward Gessima.
And so, with a loving heart, I offer you
I’ve heard many translations. Here’s one I love:
The light of the universe that shines within me recognizes
the light of the universe that shines within you.

Dogs in House
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing
~45 minutes

August word count

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