When Am I

Time flows by me,
My attention wavers.

An hour passing
A day passing
A week passing
They all feel the same.

I try to focus on the here and now
But my now is always slipping past me.

Yesterday
Last week
Last Month
They all happened at once.

The past blurs together
In my memories.

Now Hiring to Work on the Moon

You thought it was the opportunity of a lifetime. Setup some equipment and a few buildings. Easy money plus you would be doing it on the moon. A private space company wanted to build a way-station at the north pole of the moon, a jumping off point for further space travel. They wanted to cut costs so they hired you and four others, not as astronauts but as a construction crew. There were still a couple of months of training on the equipment you would be setting up and on the habitat construction. None on how to fly the ship or land on the moon. You were just passengers for that part. The ship was automated and had already made the trip several time dropping off supplies and equipment in advance of your arrival.

The trip was uneventful. You and the others made videos for the company’s blog. Standard stuff: flying around the cabin, floating things from person to person, personal interviews about space. And then you were there in orbit around the moon. You piled into the lander, sealed it shut, and strapped yourselves into the seats. One of you pressed the ‘launch’ button and you waited for the computer to launch.

Finally, you heard a faint thud as the lander detached. The ride down was mostly smooth, just a few bumps as the guidance system kept the lander on course. Then you felt the lander begin to spin. The bumps became lurches forcing you against your restraints. An alarm sounded, someone screamed, someone began to pray. You don’t remember if you did either, one, or both of these. A final lurch, a second of free fall, a hard bump, and you were on the surface.

Everything seemed fine until you noticed the lander was not within the landing zone. It took only a few minutes for all of you to realize it was too far to hike in your spacesuits to the supplies waiting for you at the landing zone. Attempts to radio earth were unsuccessful. One of the others began accounting for air, water, and food in the lander. There wasn’t much to count.

You gazed out at the lunar surface and wondered if this opportunity was worth your life.

Back-up Team – Introductions

I paced nervously in the main room of the hotel suite I had rented for the interview. I heard a beep as the door unlocked. It opened and closed so fast I never saw the hallway. From the door, a blur crossed the room in a second and popped into focus as the green and yellow clad speedster ironically called The Speedster. The door opened a second time at normal speed and a young man in a black suit walked in.
“You could have left the door open for me,” he said to the speedster. I recognized him as a local “psychic” who had helped the police with a few cases.

“It’s called making an entrance,” her voice was modulated and filtered by her helmet to be unrecognizable. She turned back toward me, “Are you, George Gregory? The reporter?” I nodded. She turned back to the suit clad psychic, “You got a lock on his brainwaves?”

The psychic rolled his eyes at her, “I’m filtering his perceptions and editing out any identifying info.”

“Great,” she said and took off her helmet. A halo of black ringlets sprung out from The Speedster’s head. The face of a young black woman smiled at me. “It gets a little stuffy in there.”

“Aren’t you worried about me identifying you? Spoiling your secret identity?” I asked.

“Not as long as Mind Reader is here,” she said loading a few chunks of cantaloupe from one of the food trays requested for the interview onto a plate. “Close your eyes and try to remember what I look like.” I did so and only the most general descriptors came to mind. Her face was like an out of focus picture. I opened my eyes and her face was back in focus.

“I’m editing your memories as they’re being formed. You get the experience but not the memory,” Mind Reader told me. He walked across to room and took up station in the corner. “Just pretend I’m not here.”

A gentle knock sounded from the glass door leading to the balcony. “That’s Brick. I’ll get it.” Again she disappeared in a blur of green and yellow and reappeared at the glass sliding door. She unlocked and opened the door. A large man wearing a gray t-shirt and blue jeans walked in. He stopped just inside the door and surveyed the room.

“Is the room secure?” he asked. His voice was quiet almost a whisper.

“Um, let me check,” Speedster said disappearing and reappearing briefly at the bedroom doors and the main door to the suite. “All doors secure.” The man’s shoulders dropped slightly and his hands fell loosely to his sides. “Grab some grub. We’re still waiting on the rest.”

“Bedrooms are clear,” a voice said behind me. I turned just in time to see a young woman finish walking through the door to one of the bedrooms. She was dressed in black yoga pants and a black band shirt I couldn’t quite place.

“You walk through walls?” I asked.

“Yeah. Hi. I’m Ghost. It’s kind of my thing,” she said walking through a chair to get to the buffet.

“Are you actually a ghost?”

“No, I’m not a ghost,” she looked to Speedster, “I thought we picked this guy cause he was smart.”

“I am smart but I don’t have any info about you. You aren’t mentioned in any of the after-action reports about the mother-ship assault.”

“None of the reports were written by anyone who was there. That’s why we want to talk to you. To set the record straight.”

The hallway door beeped and opened at a normal pace this time. A third woman entered with a young man following behind her. I recognized her as The Baton a vigilant from a nearby city. The young man was a complete unknown like Ghost. He walked around the perimeter of the room with a handheld device waving it at the corners.

“Room is clear,” he said.

“Good,” The Baton said, “Mr. Gregory, it’s nice to meet you. I’m The Baton. The young man who walked in with me is called The Kid –”

“Only until I come up with something better,” The Kid interjected.

“Has everyone else introduced themselves?” she asked looking around at her fellow superheroes. Speedster nodded, Ghost shrugged, and Mind Read gave a small two finger salute.

“I’m … uh The Flying Brick,” the large man said, “They usually just call me Brick.”

“Well, now that introductions are out of the way; let’s get down to business,” Baton said, “We want to tell our stories and his story.”

“Whose story?” I asked.

“None of us knew his name. I called him the spook,” Ghost said

“I called him the man in black,” Mind Reader said.

“Mostly we called him That Guy. As in who was that guy?” Speedster said.

“He was the one who brought us together as a team. He had another team, too. First Strike Team. The strongest powered people he could find and organize into a team,” Baton said.

“I wasn’t aware there was another superhero team,” I said.

“They died assaulting the alien mother-ship,” Brick said, “We were the backup team.”

“We’ll get to that but first we should tell our stories. Who wants to go first?” Baton asked.

The others looked back and forth among themselves. After a minute Speedster stepped forward, “I’ll go first.”

To be continued in “Backup Team – The Speedster”

The Robot Technician

I’m the last human still working in the factory.  The actual production is done by the floor robots, who get materials from the loader robots, who get deliveries from the robot trucks.  And all of them are repaired and serviced by the maintenance robots.  Which is where I come in; I’m the maintenance robot technician.  No matter how many layers of robots you have building, delivering, or repair you will always need a human looking after things.  Oh, look at that.  A maintenance robot just set off it’s distress signal on the production floor.  It probably got knocked by a loader robot into a floor robot.  The maintenance robots are durable but even they can’t take a full speed hit from a floor robot.  Since there are no humans on the floor the robots are allowed to move at full speed and not at the restrained safe pace they used to move at.

I put on my safety helmet, not that it would save me if a robot hit me in the head, and hit the red STOP button before stepping out onto the production floor.  The factory is brightly lit, the robots frozen in place, a ballet of metal arms halted in mid motion.  With the factory stopped it’s safe to walk through the black and yellow striped work areas.  I know this but habit keeps me on the safe white walkways.

The distress signal is on the far side of the factory so it takes me a few minutes to make my way to it.  Before I do, it stops.  I round the last corner and find three maintenance robots.  One is resting flat on the ground its legs sprayed out around it, a panel on its top unscrewed and popped open.  The other two hover over it with their multi-tools out.

“Hey guys, whats going on?”  The two stop to glance at me before to returning to repairing their friend.  I check the messenger on my tablet for a status update from one of the robots.  Blunt force trauma, two legs damaged, replacements incoming.  A third robot scuttles up with two replacement legs.  “Ok guys looks like you got it under control here. I’ll file the report and restart the factory in four minutes.”  One of the robots waves upward with its gripper arm.  “Five minutes?”  It waves sideways.  “Good work, guys.”

I walk away, copying the status update into an incident report and filling in the details, finishing it up just as I get back to the office.  My watch shows six minutes have passed, so I press the green START button.  Outside the office the factory resumes its dance, as I hang my safety helmet up on its hook.  Yep, you will always need to have a human looking after things.

Review – Arrival

Twelve alien ships appear around the world.  Louise Banks, a linguist, is brought by the army to one of the ships and attempts to communicate with the aliens.

I watched this movie last night and I am blown away. I love stories that play with the audience’s perceptions or preconceptions.  I really can’t say more without spoiling the movie.

Rating: 5/5

Retail Robots

They asked for robots in the retail stores
And only realized their mistake,
When they asked for a discount.

For every missing button,
For every tear,
For every stain,
The robot brain calculated, to the cent,
The cost to replace, repair, or clean.

No longer could they bully an employee into giving them a larger discount.
No longer could they appeal to the manager for a larger discount.
No longer could they hide behind “The customer is always right.”

Too late they realized
You can’t threaten a robot’s job.

The company saved millions.
The customers saved nothing.
The former employees lost everything.

The Non-Adventures of Francine

I start my day by loading my purse.  Of course, I always carry my notebook with the various notes I’ve made about the local story hooks.

Avoid the Third Street Coffee shop on the second Tuesday of odd months – spys use it as a drop location – High chance of being given top seceret documents – shred reciepts as well.

Avoid getting into elevators on the sixth and eighteenth floors of all buildings North of Franklin Street – high probability of encountering a ghost – take the stairs if more than three high school to college age young adults are also present.

The first aid kit is good to toss at good Samaritans.  Keeps me from getting involved while not looking completely heartless to injured people.

My wallet of course is always in my purse.  I check it’s pockets and find a business card I’ve never seen before.  I crumple it without reading it, carry it into the bathroom and flush it.

Do I need the pepper spray?  Its misuse could lead into a comedy or meet-cute.  I check my notebook.  Based on past trends, I’m due a physical attack (mugging, kidnapping attempt, random angry man).  The pepper spray goes in my purse.

The electrical tape, paper clips, and rubber bands go in a side pocket.

***

When I was a teenager, Margaret, my best friend, and I had “adventures”.  We debunked some hauntings, found lost items, discovered hidden Last Will and Testaments, even broke up a moonshine smuggling ring once.  For five year years, we had an adventure roughly once a month.  Some times they were three weeks apart, some times six, but in the end it averaged out.

Then something changed.  For most of our senior year in high school we just went to school.  We applied to colleges.  We went to Prom.  We didn’t have any “adventures”. Continue reading

One Year Website Anniversary

One year ago, I created my website Gillian’s Notebook, www.Gillian-Ybabez.com.  I started off reposting older stories before posting a mix of new and older stories in March.  By April I was posting three new stories a week and continued to do so through September.  October and November I cut back to three stories every other week.  And then I took a couple months off posting stories.

I’m doing things a little different this year.  I’m posting two stories a week, eight stories a month, February through December, plus a couple to round out the total to ninety stories. My first story of this new writing year has been posted for patrons on my Patreon.  It will be posted on my site a week later.

I’m still working on the anthology of revised and edited stories from 2016 that I plan to put up for sell in March.