Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 15: Flash of Lightning

Note: This is my writing creation practice while I spend the rest of my writing time invisibly revising. I hope you enjoy the ongoing story.

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 14

A promise of irritated skin warmed Beryl’s heels. His mood piled on top of itself like the bruise-colored clouds encroaching from the west. He anticipated the tone of Fife’s criticism, if not the specifics.

What more could I have done? He argued in his head. The ship made no response. Maybe it’s empty. I did everything but knock on the door.

But Fife said nothing when he reached their spot on the hill. She continued packing up their few belongings, flashlight, water jugs, lean-to tarp. Besh methodically picked up their un-eaten food and put it back in his canvas sack. Beryl’s frustration simmered.

“We’re going to the starport,” Fife announced. She headed purposefully toward the gleaming ships in the distance, the distance Beryl had just returned from with chafing thighs, sweat stinking pits, and grit rolling around in his shoes.

“Wait up!” Beryl shouted. Fife did not break stride. Besh looked over his shoulder nervously and kept himself equi-distant between the two of them. The trio formed a line with Fife in the lead pointed directly at the silver ellipse of the starship they had decided to attempt to board.

Beryl couldn’t go on. He spurred himself two more limping paces before bending over with his hands on his knees.

“You’re killing me.” He threw the words like a guilt-tipped spear, but the wind snatched the missile away.

Daylight might have lasted for hours more, but purple clouds had swallowed the sun. The ocean sparked with white caps. The coming storm grumbled as it heaved toward land.

Fife kept her back to Beryl, facing the starship, moving forward with singular focus. She held something in her hand.

Besh stopped, looked back, looked forward, hopped toward Fife then repeated his ridiculous maneuver to hold the median with machine precision.

Beryl had thought his dignity long since evaporated, yet found it difficult to choke down another morsel. Finally he called out, “Help!”

Besh looked back and forth then pointed at himself inquisitively.

“Yes, you! Come help me.” Then Beryl returned to gasping, bent over quivering knees while Besh came running.

“How may I help?” Besh asked.

“Help support my weight so we can catch up with her.” Beryl jabbed a stubby finger at Fife’s back, her hair snapping sideways in the wind like black flames.

“Support your weight?” Besh asked.


“And catch up to Fife?”


Suddenly Beryl found himself scooped up in Besh’s arms, carried with the swiftness of a gazelle across the rippling grass.

Beryl gasped with astonishment. Besh was a stick figure, a stick figure carved out of onyx, perhaps, but hardly a muscleman. “You’re strong!”

Besh winced, said, “Do you have a request?”

“You need to learn to take a compliment.”

“How should a compliment be taken?” Besh asked.

“With gratitude,” said Beryl. “Compliment me, I’ll show you how it’s done.”

“You are very brave.”

“You’re a lying sack of shit,” said Beryl deciding off-the-cuff that banter would make a better lesson.

“…brave to keep company with that woman.” Besh nodded at Fife.

“Ha! Now that compliment I will take.”

Was that the hint of a smile on Besh’s face. The man was not a social fool after all.

“Onward!” Beryl urged. Besh ran with him in his arms, apparently unaffected by the weight. Beryl enjoyed the ride and unequivocally enjoyed the double-take Fife did when she saw them catch up to her. But surprise broke her mask of calm determination for only a moment.

“We’re running out of time,” she said. “We have to get away from here.”

“How will we, hic, get inside? Hic.” Beryl asked. Besh’s jostling had given him the hiccups.

Fife held up her hand. In it was a metal wand with a stub antenna. “The box has a bomb in it. This is the detonator.”

“I was carrying a, hic, bomb and you didn’t tell, hic, me?”

Fife made a chopping motion. “There’s no time to argue about who put whom in mortal danger. If we don’t get on that ship soon, we’re all dead.”

“How, hic, will blowing it up help?”

“It’s not that sort of bomb.”

Beryl’s eyes widened. “Am I to believe you made an electro magnetic pulse out of scrap?”

“Your hiccups are gone,” Fife said with a smile.

“Yes,” said Beryl, “I’ve heard that surprise will have that effect.”

“I played survivor/salvage simulations as well as the more fantastic games in the virtual reality pods. I know how to put things together in a realistic world,” Fife said.

Beryl frowned his skepticism. “You learned how to make an EMP from video games.”

She arched an eyebrow at him. “I played at all sorts of games. Learning is one of the best sorts of fun. It’s the only way to beat the harder levels. How did you spend your time among the infinite pleasure worlds?”

“I didn’t spend it on glorified tutorials,” Beryl scoffed.

“Your loss,” Fife said. Then, “Look, this is what we’ve been waiting for.”

An opening appeared in the shiny surface of the starship where none had been before, like pools of liquid drawing apart, the side of the ship gaped, the cave mouth crystallizing into hard edges. A ramp extended to the gantry.

Fife raised her arm and stomped her thumb down on the button.

The gantry flashed as if struck by lightning. Actinic energy sought a conductor. Crooked little fingers reached out to smite hapless nearby insects. One fat trunk of energy connected to the starship and dumped its potential across the bridge. A moment later a sharp pow struck their ears and flattened the grass.

“Hurry,” Fife urged, “Before the hatch closes.” She dropped the detonator and shifted her hips forward into a sprinter’s lean, fists punching up to head height, knees lifting for the power stroke.

She temporarily outpaced Besh.

“Faster!” Beryl urged.

Besh obeyed.

“Hic!” Beryl emitted.

Link to next part: 16


4 thoughts on “Silver Pod Part 15: Flash of Lightning”

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