The Oracle, part seven (fiction)

The Oracle

7

Beta Hub is an area of space where stellar engineers had built a significant number of wormholes leading to the other parts of Beta Sector. The centre of Beta Hub is a long dead star, and orbiting this dead star is a space station called Beta Station, originally built long ago. When it was first built, it was a typical modular station to service spaceships in need of help, restocking consumables, and repairs. Over time it had grown with new sections being added until it was a sprawling chaotic mess. While it still offered its original services, it now also had casinos, luxury hotels, and a thriving underground black market. It was now seen as a place for people to go in Beta Sector where they could satisfy their hedonistic desires and purchase items not easily found or acquired. The station had, over time, also acquired its own resident population of drifters, entrepreneurs, and people with an eye for the main chance.

“This is Captain Stephanie Clarke of the New Earth Spacefleet scoutship The Oracle. We are here to dock for 48 hours to restock before we resume our way to Gamma Sector.” Clarke said as they approached Beta Station.

There before them all on the bridge Beta Station slowly came into view. The station looked roughly ball shaped with various sections jutting out at odd intervals. It rotated slowly, revealing more bits sticking out from the main station rather haphazardly. Steff shook her head. It was an architect’s nightmare. Maybe they should decommission it and start again, thought Steff.

“We hear you Captain Clarke. Docking is granted at Subsection F. We are sending coordinates now.” A voice from the station said.

“Pilots proceed with docking procedure.” Steff commanded, then she turned on the intercom: “We are now docking at Beta Station for 48 hours. Everyone on board has leave to visit the station during this time. If you do go into Beta Station, may I remind you as representatives of the New Earth Spacefleet that your conduct is expected to be at its absolute best while you are here. Also, do not engage in illegal activity of any sort. If you arrested by station security, or found bringing contraband on board, you may be left at Beta Station or end up in the ship’s brig. All that said, please have a good time. We leave in 48 hours. If you’re not on board by then, you may be left behind.”

“Captain, we are now docking with the station.” One of the pilots said.

“Bring up visuals.” Steff ordered. The view on the bridge now changed to an image of The Oracle docking provided by Beta Station’s cameras. “Okay cut main thrusters and engage the starboard lateral thruster.”

“Yes Captain.”

“Okay slow it down.” Steff saw a round airlock slowly come out from the station in the direction of their ship. Slowly The Oracle drifted towards the stations airlock. “Keep going… now cut the lateral thruster.”

“Yes Captain.” The spaceship slowly drifted towards the airlock using its inertia to finally dock with the station. Once both airlocks met, the ship came to a stop. The pilot turned to face Steff. “Captain both airlocks have now formed a hard seal. We are docked with the station.”

“Very good!” Steff replied. Turning on the intercom, she again spoke to the crew: “We are now docked at Beta Station. We leave in 48 hours exactly, so please lock this time in to any devices you have and are carrying with you to Beta Station.”

“You going aboard Captain?” Blake asked her.

“As Commanding Officer I have to. I’m expected to report to the stations Command Crew. Wherever they might be.” Steff replied. Blake laughed.

“Yes it’s not the easiest station to navigate. A friend of mine once got lost in there. He only found the right airlock several days later, but of course his ship was long gone by then.” Blake told her.

“I hope that doesn’t happen to any of our crew. So how did he leave the station?”

“He managed to jump aboard on the next ship leaving, though it went in the opposite direction. He found himself back at New Earth eventually, by then his Captain had reported him AWOL. Luckily he was able to straighten it out before they court-martialed him. He’s no longer in the Spacefleet however.” Blake told her.

“I’m not surprised. Frankly I’m still surprised to be commanding a spaceship again.” She said candidly.

“Well you are the Hero of Esfor. They couldn’t let you stay on leave indefinitely.”

“I think some in Spacefleet Command wanted me to.” Steff told him.

“Edwards seems to be fine now.” Blake stated, abruptly changing the subject.

“Yes, so far no sign of any problems.” Steff replied. In the last week Edwards had not even put a foot out of line. There was nothing she could do, she had to reinstate him as Chief Security Officer otherwise it would have looked strange to the rest of the crew, and she wanted to keep her concerns known only to a small group of officers she trusted. Yes he had been reinstated, but she was still watching him intently.

“SARA keep an eye on the ship while we’re docked with Beta Station.” Steff said.

“Yes Captain.” SARA replied. “Though I should point out I do not actually have an eye. All my visuals are utilised by the cameras on board.”

“Yes I know SARA. It was just an expression.”

“I understand.”

A short time later Steff walked through the airlock. Once she was in the station, she saw an officer waiting there, his uniform rather unkempt. He was tall with brown wavy hair and a thick beard. Once he saw Steff emerge into the station he walked towards her.

“Captain Clarke?” he asked.

“Yes.” She replied. He saluted her, and she saluted back.

“Welcome aboard Captain! I am Commander Ellis. I thought I would come down to greet you personally. So amazing to meet an actual legend.” He said with a thick accent she couldn’t place.

“Why thanks Commander. It’s an honour.” Steff smiled.

“I also wanted to see your ship. It’s a new class yes? I thought it was a frigate, but you said scoutship.”

“Yes technically it’s a scoutship. It’s a new class for deep space missions.” Steff told him. Ellis looked at the ship through the space station windows.

“I see. It looks so sleek and shiny. What exactly is your mission?” he asked her.

“Just going to the new areas that the wormholes have opened up. We’ll be classifying planets. I suspect it will mostly be for resources.” Steff told him.

“But wow! A brand new spaceship. You must give me a tour sometime. I love to see new advances.”

“I’ll try to arrange a tour for you. I hoped you might let us use one of your docking bays.”

“All of our docking bays are for smaller craft, sadly.” Ellis replied. “Can I give you a tour of the station?”

“Yes that would be most welcome.” Steff answered.

Ellis gave her a brief tour of the station. She guessed he was showing her the nicer parts of the station, but even these were rundown and grimy. The station needed a lot of maintenance, and a good clean in her opinion. They finished the tour in the Command Section which was filled with people looking at monitors and watching all the incoming and outgoing spaceships.

“This station is very busy.” Ellis told her. He took her to his office which was down a short hallway. She sat down and was offered something to drink.

“Have you had any problems with the Separatists here?” she asked him while cradling a tumbler of whisky.

“Separatists? No, not here. Our main problems are with pirates.”

“Pirates?’ Steff asked surprised.

“Yes, groups of pirates attacking our supply ships and running off with them. I deployed some cruisers to take care of them, but the pirates use small ships that are fast and agile. Very difficult for a large cruiser to deal with. I don’t have enough ships to escourt all the ships that come and go here, so I mostly help with the larger ones, and all I can do is escourt them to the various wormholes or from them. If they are followed and attacked by pirates once they get beyond the wormholes, there’s nothing I can do about it. I have let New Earth know the problem here, but it’s not a high priority for them.” Ellis admitted. “A few more ships would be handy.”

“The pirates never attack the station?”

“No they wouldn’t dare, though I suspect they visit from time to time to make use of the markets here. There are probably Separatist spies here as well I imagine. Not easy to find.” Ellis replied. “This station has an interesting cross-section of human society.”

“How do you manage all the crime and black markets?” Steff asked interested.

“The small stuff we try to ignore, to be honest. Our station security would be overwhelmed if we tried to arrest everybody doing something illegal on this station, and then some.” There was a knock on the door. “Yes?” The door opened and a young woman wearing a Spacefleet uniform walked through. “Can I help you?” The woman gave a grim smile and turned to look at Steff. She pulled out a concealed gun and aimed it at her.

“This is for killing my friends and family on Esfor you monster!” The woman screamed as she pulled the trigger.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Call (flash fiction)

The Call

“Must you keep checking your phone?” I asked.

“Miranda might call me.” Sylvia replied.

It had been over a week since Sylvia gave Miranda her number, and I felt Miranda probably would have called by now if she was ever going to…

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 41 + prompt

This was written with the prompt call provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #197.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Fear The Bald Man (flash fiction)

Fear The Bald Man

She sat on the edge of the bed covered in blood. Next to her lay a man split open from his throat down to his crotch. Already the police were there taking photographs of the bloody murder and closing down the crime scene. Detective Franks stood above her.

“Miss? I’m told your name is Mary. Can I call you that? Can you hear me? Why did you kill him?” he asked her in the hopes of getting a response from the almost catatonic woman.

“I didn’t kill him. It was The Bald Man.” Mary replied while still staring at the wall in front of her.

“The Bald Man?” asked Franks. She unexpectedly looked up at him.

“You’ve never heard of The Bald Man?”

“No I’m afraid not.”

“He’s not of this world. He can slide through walls and no where is safe from him. Once you’re his target, there is nothing you can do to escape his judgement.” Mary informed him.

“His judgement?”

“Yes he judges everyone he sees, and if they’re not worthy enough in his eyes he follows them, and when he finally has them he cuts them open and eats their insides.”

“I see. The problem I have is the only prints we’ve found belong to you and the victim here. The bloody knife on the floor has your fingerprints.” Franks told her.

“The Bald Man has no prints.” she replied.

“That’s convenient.”

“I had to use that knife to defend myself. The Bald Man doesn’t need a knife. His fingernails can grow out and they’re as sharp as razor blades. That’s how he cut open Justin.”

“Well we’re going to have to take you in as you’re the only suspect we have.” Franks declared. Mary looked up at him with her dark eyes.

“The Bald Man is coming for you too.”

Joanne Fisher

This was written with the prompt The Bald Man provided by Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver Prompt #315.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

She Said (poem)

She Said...


She said I don't care about most people
         but I like you

she said I want to be with you
         forever

she said I love you


*


she said I don't want to come around 
         anymore

she said I thought I loved you once
         but now I'm not so sure

she said I'm sick of you


and I was pushed under
    the dark waves


Joanne Fisher



This was previously published on my blog in June 2018.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

It’s Pancake Day!

Today was Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day as I prefer to call it. So I made me a nice stack of pancakes this evening. A year ago I started using soy milk as I realised I was lactose intolerant (and was sick of the constant stomach aches) and today for the first time I made pancakes with soy milk and found they were a bit different, but still nice. My pancakes are more like crepes, so I’m used to rolling them up once I’ve put a topping on them, but these ones didn’t roll up so well as the soy milk tended to make them more stiff, and of course the flavour was different.

While making the mixture I suddenly realised I had no baking powder, and so for first time since I moved in here I actually met my neighbours, while asking them for baking powder….

It wasn’t a bad way to spend the night making and eating pancakes, though I was rather full and sticky afterwards 😋

I was planning to write a story this evening, but the pancakes took up a lot of my time in the end.

Take care everyone, and I hope you’re all well ❤️

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, part six (fiction)

The Oracle

6

“No, it’s out of the question!” Doctor Philips exclaimed.

“But Lieutenant Edwards could be a security risk. We don’t know why he suddenly had a seizure.” Steff argued. The Doctor shook her head in disagreement.

“It’s not uncommon for people to have seizures, even if they’ve had no prior history of them.” Philips told her. “He may have even had one before, for all we know, but no one else saw it and he didn’t know he had had one.”

“I just think it’s odd that our head of security had a seizure as soon as we entered a wormhole. I think there’s something else going on. He may be a sleeper agent for the Separatists.” Steff told her. Philips folded her arms and shook her head again.

“And there’s your paranoia. You wonder why I question your selection to command this mission? What you’re saying is obvious nonsense. Why would the Separatists bother trying to control a scoutship going to the other side of the galaxy from them? We pose no threat or opportunity for them. You know the Separatists don’t like you and your projecting this fear of them onto your own crew members, that or you’re using it as an excuse for some reason only known to yourself.” Philips replied. Steff looked her up and down.

“Don’t hold back! Tell me how you really feel.” For a while both of them were silent and looked at each other.

“In my professional opinion you should never have been given command of this spaceship. I fear your paranoia of the Separatists could endanger us all.”

“Opinion noted Doctor Philips.” Steff replied.

“And you wish to violate someone’s privacy on the thinnest of likelihoods that they’re under control of them in some way and you want my collusion on this. Well, it won’t happen Captain Clarke. I refuse to help you.” Philips responded. “If you’re going to break Spacefleet protocols, then you’ll have to do it on your own.”

“I would like to rather than ask you to help me, but I need you to help convince SARA to let me observe Edwards in his quarters, otherwise she won’t let me do it.”

“Good to hear.”

“What if Edwards has another seizure in his room?” Steff asked her.

“If he has a medical emergency in his quarters, then SARA will notify me about it, as she will with any other member of the crew that has any sort of medical emergency.” Philips informed her. “You should know that Captain.”

“Fine. I just thought you might want to help me in this. Clearly you won’t. I do believe the security of this ship has possibly been compromised, and if anything happens because of this I hope you reflect on how you blocked my efforts to mitigate it.” Steff responded. Philips looked away.

“It’s all in your head Captain.” Philips replied.

“I don’t think so.” Steff replied. She turned to leave the medical bay.

“By the way, I will be mentioning your request to me in a report.” Philips told her.

“Fine. You do what you think is necessary.” Steff shot back as she went out the door. Clearly that request hadn’t worked and it had blown up in her face. She had expected that response from the doctor and so was hardly surprised by it, but she was disappointed that Philips had so steadfastly refused to see things her way.

Going back to her quarters, she sat down on her bed with her head in her hands. She didn’t know what to do. Getting up from the bed, Steff looked out the window staring into the immensity of darkness. She loved looking out into this blackness that went on and on, possibly forever. Sometimes she wanted to be out there lost amongst it. Maybe she should just grab Juanita’s hand and float out into space with her the next time she dreamed about it…

Afterwards she splashed cold water on her face and then dried it with a towel. She looked at her white skin and hair in the bathroom mirror. Though it seemed there were no aliens out there, there were some who had thought she was. She went back to her bedroom.

“SARA do you think I’m paranoid, or showing signs of paranoia?”

“Not enough information.” SARA responded.

“With regards to my concerns that Edwards could be working for the Separatists, either intentionally or unintentionally.”

“You are the Captain and you do have to consider every possibility. Edwards’s seizure was surprising considering he had no prior history of it, so it is perplexing, but there is no evidence he is working for the Alliance of Free Colonies.”

“Doctor Philips thinks I’m paranoid and should be in psychiatric care, I suspect.” Steff told SARA.

“With respect, Doctor Philips has made it clear that she does not care for you. She is not the captain. If you think Edwards could be a threat to the mission then you must take adequate steps to ensure The Oracle remains safe.”

“Yes, but how do I do that?” Steff asked.

“I can give you updates on Edwards’s movements within the ship.” SARA offered.

“That would be a help.” Steff replied.

“Doctor Philips could be deliberately trying to undermine your position. Be careful with her.” SARA advised.

“I will.” Steff replied.

*

“Captain, Lieutenant Frank Edwards wishes to see you.” It was three days since Steff’s altercation with Doctor Philips. Steff arose from her desk.

“Let him in.” Steff said.

“Very well.” The door to her quarters opened and there stood Edwards. He immediately saluted her.

“Captain! I wish to talk about resuming my position.” He said still standing there saluting. Steff returned the salute.

“At ease Lieutenant. Come in.” He walked in and they sat down at the table in her conference room. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine Captain.” He replied.

“You’ve felt no other symptoms or felt unwell in any way since you woke up from the coma?” She asked.

“No Captain.”

“Okay I’ve been thinking about it. I think you should resume your duties for only half a shift for the next few days, and then we will see how that goes. In a week I’ll review my decision.” Steff told him. Edwards looked disappointed.

“But why? I feel fine and fit enough to resume my duties full time.”

“There are still several unanswered questions remaining in my mind that I would like to have answered before I let you back full-time. I just want to see how it goes for you over the next few days. If there are no issues, then you’ll return to full responsibilities in a week’s time. That’s my decision.” He looked unhappy, but he nodded at her words.

“Okay Captain.” He agreed.

“When you’re not on your shift, Second Lieutenant Baer will continue as acting Chief Security Officer, as he is at the moment.” Steff told him. She stood up and Edwards stood up after her. As she watched him leave her quarters, she felt some serious misgivings about letting him resume his post, but there was little she could do without being more explicit about her concerns, which was something she wanted to keep to herself and a small circle of other officers, for the moment.

“Captain, there is a message from Lieutenant Blake.”

“Okay SARA.”

“Captain, we are coming to the wormhole to Beta Hub.”

“Thanks Lieutenant. I’ll be there shortly.” She walked up to the bridge and sat down on her chair. Not long after, the door to the bridge opened again and Frank Edwards walked through. Mostly everyone in the bridge stood up and clapped as he sat down. “Lieutenant Edwards is resuming his post, but only part-time for the moment.” Steff told the crew there.

Before them the wormhole became larger. A churning mass of light in the darkness surrounding it. As The Oracle approached it the wormhole light began to flood the bridge and it was virtually all they could see. Steff closed her eyes due to the brightness.

“Captain we are ready to go through.” Said one of the pilots.

“Okay proceed.” Steff told him. Then she spoke through the intercom: “This is Captain Clarke. We are about to enter the wormhole to Beta Hub. Stand by.”

As they entered the wormhole all eyes fell on Edwards. The ship began vibrating and they were all engulfed in white light. Once it cleared, they were in the familiar tunnel of cascading blue and white light. As they traveled into the wormhole, Edwards sat there observing the ship systems, but nothing seemed to happen to him. Steff continued keeping an eye on him. It was still at least a week until they arrived at Beta Hub Station…

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

Index of previous chapters: The Oracle

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Daddy by Sylvia Plath (poetry)

"Daddy" by Sylvia Plath

You do not do, you do not do
Any more, black shoe
In which I have lived like a foot
For thirty years, poor and white,
Barely daring to breathe or Achoo.

Daddy, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Marble-heavy, a bag full of God,
Ghastly statue with one gray toe
Big as a Frisco seal

And a head in the freakish Atlantic
Where it pours bean green over blue
In the waters off beautiful Nauset.
I used to pray to recover you.
Ach, du.

In the German tongue, in the Polish town
Scraped flat by the roller
Of wars, wars, wars.
But the name of the town is common.
My Polack friend

Says there are a dozen or two.
So I never could tell where you
Put your foot, your root,
I never could talk to you.
The tongue stuck in my jaw.

It stuck in a barb wire snare.
Ich, ich, ich, ich,
I could hardly speak.
I thought every German was you.
And the language obscene

An engine, an engine
Chuffing me off like a Jew.
A Jew to Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.
I began to talk like a Jew.
I think I may well be a Jew.

The snows of the Tyrol, the clear beer of Vienna
Are not very pure or true.
With my gipsy ancestress and my weird luck
And my Taroc pack and my Taroc pack
I may be a bit of a Jew.

I have always been scared of you,
With your Luftwaffe, your gobbledygoo.
And your neat mustache
And your Aryan eye, bright blue.
Panzer-man, panzer-man, O You--
 
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not 
Any less the black man who

Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.

But they pulled me out of the sack,
And they stuck me together with glue.
And then I knew what to do.
I made a model of you,
A man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw.
And I said I do, I do.
So daddy, I'm finally through.
The black telephone's off at the root,
The voices just can't worm through.

If I've killed one man, I've killed two--
The vampire who said he was you
And drank my blood for a year,
Seven years, if you want to know.
Daddy, you can lie back now.

There's a stake in your fat black heart
And the villagers never liked you.
They are dancing and stamping on you.
They always knew it was you.
Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

12 October, 1962

Sylvia Plath died this day in 1963. This is one of her more well-known poems.

Taking the Forest Path (flash fiction)

Taking the Forest Path

There were several paths to grandma’s house, but only one went through the forest. She had been told never go that way. It wasn’t safe, her mother had said, but being told that only made her more curious. What could be there that was dangerous?

It was on that particular day when her mother had done some baking and she had loaded up her basket with baked goods for her grandma, that she found herself walking down that forest path. Being curious, foolhardy, and headstrong could be a heady combination, after all.

She found it was a decent path and the trees and bushes helped provide shelter from the sun. After she had gone some way, she heard laughter and voices talking. She crept silently forwards and saw a small cottage off the path. It was there she spied her mother in the arms of a man she didn’t know.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #118.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Space Junk? (flash fiction)

Space Junk?

Jyx piloted her salvage ship into the largest spaceship graveyard she had ever seen. She had found it by chance while exploring this unknown system. There must have been a huge space battle which had left many destroyed starships orbiting a long dead world. She couldn’t believe her luck. She was certain no other salvager had been here, and untold riches awaited. All of a sudden her display showed something was powering up. As she watched, an ancient gargantuan star cruiser emerged from the detritus.

“They’re still alive!” Jyx exclaimed as the cruiser approached her ship.

Joanne Fisher

Word Count: 96

This was written with the prompt gargantuan provided by Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #195.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher