Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 17: Undeserved Thoughts

It’s been a busy week, busy with good things. I wrote a short story, 1200 words, to read at a fundraising event tomorrow. I finished reading The Judging Eye by Bakker, it was phenomenal. I wrote this section of story relatively quickly, but I like how it turned out. Some of Bakker’s ideas influenced my writing.

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 16

Besh inhaled the breath of the ship. Its atmosphere smelled of citrus, clean and dry. Some ships smelled of food spices, his favorite was curries, though rosemary was nice too. Some ships smelled of mood plants such as lavender or sandalwood. Other ships smelled of bodies, not necessarily sweat stink, perhaps a nice earthy musk like a claim of ownership and home.

Water’s ship, the ship that would explode any minute and consume them in its dying inferno, had not smelled of any of these things for a long time. Tears threatened. Besh blinked them away despite his realization that Water had abandoned him much longer than forty-eight hours ago. The ship had gradually lost all its amenities for the embodied.

This ship that he now walked was entirely different. Pleasing shapes drew the eye without demanding attention. Not just the furniture, even the walls turned corners without hard edges.

Back when Water had been more social, the Post Human’s ship had sought others. The ships coupled, Water had entered Besh’s mind, and Besh had crossed over to the other ship to share physical intimacy.

A kiss with Besh as the lips, his own lips locked with another. He had enjoyed such experiences, not just for Water’s sake, but for himself. He wondered if he would ever experience such a thing again. His doubt ached. A hollowness carved itself from his insides.

Besh asked mentally, “Helper, what am I feeling?”

There was no answer. His mind raced, a flash of panic immediately hemmed in by the obvious answer: either Helper was out of range or the artificial intelligence’s circuits had already been consumed by the heat and radiation spilling out of the other ship’s reactor.

The hollow yawned cavernous inside Besh.

Beryl snapped at him, “Your calm unnerves me!”

Beryl had been pacing since Fife had left to figure out how to reset the ship’s breakers. Besh meanwhile squatted motionless over the bald woman, the keeper of this ship, pinning her in a firm but strong hold, tightening only when she struggled. It was no effort. He was practically sitting on her back.

“Would you like me to act less calm?” Besh asked.

Beryl balled up his fists, but Besh sensed no threat. Beryl’s face suddenly sagged. He ran his stubby fingers through greasy hair. “I’m sorry. It’s just that you’re so quiet.”

“I am having my own thoughts.”

Beryl cocked his head, tension ran through him like an electric shock.

“I have startled you. I’m sorry,” Besh said.

Beryl crouched to eye level with Besh. “No, no. You deserve your own thoughts.”

“What does ‘deserve’ mean?”

Beryl sank to the floor with a wince, apparently unable to hold a crouch for more than a few seconds. The edge returned to his voice.

“What do you mean ‘what does deserve mean’?”

Besh enjoyed speaking with Beryl. It took his mind off the hollow, off of the terrifying precipice of Water’s abandonment and Helper’s too. “I know the word, but how can one deserve or not deserve thoughts?”

“Well, I…” Beryl’s hands fluttered. “You’re a… I was… I remember how I sometimes treated…”

Besh watched Beryl carefully. Thoughts arose, as they do, hurtful or pleasing, for free, neither earned nor deserved. Two thoughts came together, entwined like dancers. Realization bloomed.

Besh said, “You were once a Post Human.”

Beryl’s face blanked except for a twitch in his right eyelid.

Silent moments dragged into seconds, minutes.

Suddenly the power returned. The bruised, pulsing red light vanished. White luminescence flooded the luxury ship. The bald woman grunted angrily.

Beryl looked around, the tension broken, replaced by new concerns. Fife shot up through the gravity lift as if spring loaded.

She said, “We have to get to the bridge and get this ship off the ground.”

Beryl looked at Besh, but Besh merely nodded. He understood that he had perceived information that Beryl held secret, but neither gossip nor secrecy interested him. He lifted up the bald woman as gently as possible. “What’s your name?” he asked, “And which way to the bridge?”

Link to next part: 18


2 thoughts on “Silver Pod Part 17: Undeserved Thoughts”

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