Showing the Muse who’s Boss!
In my day job (as mild mannered but ever-so-slightly-awesome high school English teacher) I occasionally have to teach creative writing. Now this should be a breeze. I get to do my fav thing and get paid for it! Score!
But here’s the thing… I keep seeing interesting story ideas that I would love to have a go at and all I get to do is offer advice (mumbles under breath). So, to keep my hand in, I offer up a challenge. I’ve been making the same challenge for more than ten years now.
“OK”, says I, looking hard done by and put upon… “You students get to choose the genre, the theme and the setting… maybe a couple of characters… And I’ll write the story in less than 1000 words. That will prove that it can be done, that it isn’t too hard and I’m not being mean!!!”
This year the diabolical villains (oops… delightful students) gave me this challenge:
Genre – Sci Fi/ Fantasy
Theme – Forbidden love
Setting – A moon crater
Character 1 – Human female, tallish, 25
Character 2 – Alien male
I’ve included the story I came up with below, but before I share it, the benefits of this for me (for any writer) are simple.
Writing is exercising the creative muscle. If I only work the muscles that are comfortable, then it’s not a real workout. I’m not extending myself.
Every year, my goal is to work with what I’m given and to make is the best story I can. I’m seldom completely satisfied, but I’ve never had an abject failure either. If I wrote it again, would I write it differently? Most likely. Could it be better? I don’t doubt it, and you’re welcome to try.
So go ahead! Make my day. Do the same challenge in less than 1000 words and we will post it on the blog!
Happy reading and maybe even happy writing!
By Melanie Page
(A Short Story – Sci Fi Romance / Forbidden Love / Moon Craters!)
In the shadow of a tarpaulin-draped pile of construction materials, the tall figure waited. The black boots and trousers were topped by a distinctive orange lightning-bolt uniform shirt of the transportation corps. Above the narrow waist and broad shoulders, a head that was almost humanoid in appearance turned, watching. The iridescent scales glinted in the weak light that filtered into the dome of the newest agri-dome of the Moons of Jupiter Colonisation Project. He watched, body tense, long prehensile fingers clutching one of the canopy struts that supported the dome and were anchored to the crater floor.
There was a sound from the airlock and another figure slipped in. Against the pale silvery aluminium and the tinted glass, her grey green uniform jumpsuit blended in. Only her head was distinct, the frizzy black hair tied in a ponytail at her nape. At her side hung a heavy satchel, the strap slung like a bandolier across her chest, and she gripped the handle tight as she looked around.
She crossed the crater floor, looking down, careful to skirt around the loose stone from the first part to the terraforming process. As she moved, the black clad alien figure glided from his hiding place, and trod silently towards her, his boots scarcely touching the ground in the weak gravity, raising no dust. As his fingers brushed the shoulder of her uniform, her arm, she raised her head, gasped.
She threw both arms around him and raised her hands, stretching as far as she could reach to pull his head down to meet her. Her palms caressed the double row of spikes that rose on the crown of his head and disappeared into the collar of his uniform. She met his lips with hers and the two figures melded briefly into one until, with palpable reluctance, they drew apart. Yet she did not let go of his hand.
“Andria.” He bent and kissed her again; she smiled up at him in reply. “I was afraid you wouldn’t be able to get away. They’ve been watching me.”
She nodded. “Me too. And my lieutenant had a word with me yesterday, about playing by the rules.”
He placed one hand under her chin and tilted her face up, his oily black eyes meeting hers. Only the softness of his voice betrayed his wariness. “Are you sure? Once we do this, there will be no going back. And Ananke is a tiny moon, more an asteroid, not like this.”
She shook her head and turned, tugging him towards the airlock that led to the cargo dock. “Ganymede isn’t safe anymore. You know what will happen if I stay. And they will reassign you. We will never see each other again. At least on Ananke we can install our own dome, terraform a little place to call our own.”
“I only want what’s best for you.”
She paused in a tiny grey pool of sunlight. “You are what’s best for me Ze.”
They passed through the airlock into the cargo dock. Sensors lit up as they passed, the bulky freighters and smaller tradecraft creating a sea of shadows on the brushed metal floor. Ze paused beside the midnight grey Centaurian freighter, long scaly fingers brushing over the battered hull.
“I took her out of the convoy this morning. Everything we need is aboard, except for the biomatter.”
Andria lay her hand over the satchel handing at her hip, “I have every-” Her voice stopped, the breath caught in her throat. From the shadow just behind Ze, a grey clad form emerged, light glinting off the spiky white hair.
“Thank you for the confession, you Centaurian freak. We’ll hand you over to your own people. They will be grateful.” With one swift movement he stepped up to Andria, clamped one hand around her arm and pulled her away from her lover. His other hand held a molecular disruptor. It was aimed at Ze.
Andria tensed, tried to pull away. “Let me go, Lieutenant. You have no right to interfere.”
He didn’t look at her, his gaze was intent on his otherworldly foe. “You corrupted a human. Turned her against her own kind. I should blast you into atoms for that.”
She struggled against the iron grip, basic defensive training no match for a hardened space veteran, then raised her hand to claw at his face. The hand holding the weapon swung round, the handle came down on her temple like a club, pommelling her into insensibility.
In the second it took her to fall, Ze lunged across the empty space, the long fingers of his left hand snatching the disruptor from the lieutenant’s grasp, the right locking around his neck. With a strength half born of rage and half of his reptilian ancestry, the Centaurian shook the human like a twig in a tornado. Eyes wide with terror, the lieutenant’s mouth fell open, just before his neck snapped.
Ze let the body go and dropped to his knees, his murderous fingers pressed gently to Andria’s neck. He let out a sigh of relief then picked her body up and carried her onto the freighter. He strapped her into the co-pilot seat and kissed her forehead; then he returned, slinging the lieutenant over his shoulder. A minute later the airlock opened and the freighter slipped into the void, heading for the tiny moon of Ananke.
Andria slowly opened her eyes and they fell on the body, slung under a cargo net. “You brought him along?” Her voice was groggy.
Ze smiled at her. “Better than leaving a body behind us. And such good fertiliser shouldn’t be wasted.”