Jaye Patrick's Takeaway

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

On Scribd

In Other Worlds: a book of short stories.

Huntress: World Council researcher Cambria Petersen is in a whole lot of trouble. Exiled to a jungle prison planet populated with rapists, terrorists and a psychopath or two by a corrupt Judicar, she has two choices: find a way home, or die trying. But to find justice for herself and others wrongly exiled, she must set aside civilisation and become the very thing she was accused of.

Soul Keeper: Det. Kate Saxon is hunting her partner's killer. But in Kate's world, the line between life and death are about to be blurred.

Summer's Rule: Season of Change Book 1
Summer has a special talent. But her father wants more from her than other people's business secrets. Captain Duncan Duquesne's only hope for survival is to convince Summer that her father is not the man she thinks he is. To do that, he has to turn her world upside down and within the walls of Patriot's Fort, a decades old secret will come to light - with devastating consequences.

Winter's Heart: Season of Change Book 2
"Worthless, useless, mutant." Those are the words that Winter heard all her life from her father, James Wellesley Pocklington the Third. But with one bullet, she's forgotten her life in the fortress. Worse, she's forgotten her powers, her sister and the one man who loves her. Lieutenant Justin Beech fell in love while Winter's prisoner. Now, they're both on the run, falsely accused and hunted by a man determined to use her power or see her dead. To save them both, Winter must remember or lose everything.

Autumn's Fall: Season of Change Book 3. Akiko Sakamura thought she had an honourable employer. Betrayed, she has only one way to regain face: find the secret lab trying to resurrect Project Genesis. Major Nathan Hawk doesn't believe in 'mystical' powers, even genetically manipulated ones. As far as he's concerned, Akiko Sakamura is, at worst, a criminal, misguided at best. But his boss demands he take Sakamura on the mission. How can he find the lab and destroy it, when they both knows Akiko is a liability?

Spring's Reign: Season of Change Book 4: eneral Cosgrove hands Lt. Stacey Callender the Project Genesis information he swore he'd destroyed. But there's a problem: the information lists another facility where human genetic experimentation is continuing. Cosgrove orders Callender into the jungles of South America to raze the laboratory. But what neither of them know is the architect of so much grief is about to finally step out of the shadows. The target: the last McCafferty.

Bleak Town: Jarik Drexon is hunting an alien killer in Bleak Town. No-one sane goes there, unless it's to die. She needs help from the one man she should stay away from... but can't.

Daystrider: In an alternative world where myths and legends are real, Daya Scott, is partnered with a human cop who hates all monsters, but especially her. To solve the brutal slaying of a family, secrets long held will be revealed. And, monster or not, Daya is going to find the killer... but the killer may just find her first.

That's all of 'em and they're free.


Saturday, August 15, 2009


“Lockdown.” A calm feminine voice intoned over the speakers. “Please, return to your cells for lockdown in five solar minutes. Thank you for your attention and have a nice day.”

“I think it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” Lady Hakira, late of the Mystral Cluster’s Opposition Party, said in an aggrieved tone, “to expect inmates to ‘have a nice day’.”

Kasen Pettigrew kept her eyes on her surrounds, searching for danger. “Psychological manipulation, my lady.” She said. “It’s supposed to calm the prisoners into acceptance of their fate. But more likely,” she held out a hand, blocked Lady Hakira, as a group of captured male Castellan raiders walked in front of them. Kasen considered the threat level as minimal and continued. “But more likely, it’s to infuriate, cause intemperate actions and eventually break the prisoners, again, into accepting their fate.”

Lady Hakira raised a perfectly plucked blue eyebrow and regard Kasen with speculation in her violet eyes. “I think that’s the longest speech you’ve ever made, Pet.”

Kasen ground her teeth. Only her mistress got to call her ‘Pet’; anyone else felt the wrath of a highly trained bodyguard. And usually apologised in short order.

“I submit to you there is little to do but observe, think and discuss.” Kasen murmured as they walked into the cell.

Now came the hard part.

‘Lockdown’ literally meant locked down. The women each lay on a pre-warmed slab of bunk. The material flexed and accepted the body lying on it, created the perfect shape of the inmate. Then the manacles came out and clamped down on wrists, ankles and throat, held the prisoner immobile until released at the guards’ pleasure.

Misbehaving inmates could, and were, be kept in ‘lockdown’ for as long as punishment required. No need for the outmoded concept of solitary, the inability to move served as deterrent enough as Kasen discovered for the first three weeks of their incarceration.

But it wasn’t the immobility that taught Kasen the lesson, it was her failure as a bodyguard. In lockdown, she couldn’t protect Lady Hakira and the bruises her charged returned with were lesson enough.

“Lockdown in thirty solar seconds.” The voice said again. “Please, to avoid injury or punishment, remain still and have a good evening.”

“Oh, for the love of…” Lady Hakira muttered from the next bunk. “I swear, when I get out of here, I’m going to hunt that woman down…”

“And I shall help you.” Kasen replied. “But first we have to escape or be released.”

“An impossibility. I am too much of a radical for the Ruling Council to ever release and this prison was especially designed for the worst of the worst.” Hakira said bitterly.

Kasen sighed. Her mistress’s words were all too true. Hakira was a political prisoner, not a criminal, nor a pirate, nor a prisoner of war. Kasen, by association and by employment shared Hakira’s fate whether she agreed with the woman’s politics or not.

Pre-warmed manacles eased out of their receptacles, clicked shut around Kasen’s wrists, ankles and she tipped her chin up for the throat lock.

Lady Hakira’s constant opposition to the Border Wars, and her growing popularity landed them here on false charges of treason. Unfortunately, Hakira spoke often enough about the war for the Ruling Council to cobble together an audio communication of her voice plotting against the government. The fact the recording remained untested by an independent evaluator merely indicated how far the Council were willing to go to silence the voice of reason.

“Either the Cluster will be defeated in the war, or the Council will, eventually, have to declare peace. In either circumstance, they have no legal reason to hold us.” Kasen said.

The lights dimmed, though did not shut completely down.

“Ah, but you forget: treason is a war or peace sentence.” Lady Hakira said. “In the case of war, we are lucky not to be executed.”

“And it is your high status that stopped it.” Kasen said. “If they tried, I’m sure revolution would follow. This war is not a popular one; never was, never will be.”

“But, Pet, it’s the most lucrative enterprise the Council has found.” Hakira oozed in a reasonable tone. “Why, all those barbarian colonists, failing to pay the high taxes on their mineral rights, it’s all so… wrong. They must pay their share.”

Kasen’s lip curled as Lady Hakira repeated the justification for the Border war. But the barbarian colonists weren’t so easily defeated. No, they were more canny, smarter and had the money to buy superior technology from the Jovian Corporation.

Lady Hakira’s speeches served to inflame the population of the injustice of what the Ruling Council tried to do and gave support to the colonists. She also warned the populace that their own taxes would increase to pay for the war machine while Councillors profited. It was that accusation, and the evidence Hakira supplied that led to her - and by extension - Kasen’s incarceration. Freedom was a distant dream.

Kasen’s mouth twisted with disgust. Lady Hakira remained upbeat while she, who should be planning an escape, slowly succumbed to the tedium of the day-to-day schedule and the calm, understanding of counsellors, therapists and those who were considered ‘rehabilitated’ but not ready for release.

She had to shake the malaise off. Kasen couldn’t protect her mistress if she accepted this life sentence, if she fell into depression.

“Goodnight, Pet, maybe tomorrow we’ll be free.” Lady Hakira murmured sleepily.

Lady Hakira said that every night. ‘Maybe tomorrow we’ll be free’. Kasen didn’t believe her, but replied as she did every night: “Good night, my lady.”

Kasen stared up at the ceiling in thought. Somehow, she had to get Lady Hakira, and herself, out. She fully expected Hakira’s supporters were trying every legal manoeuvre, but she feared it would take an illegal measure to secure their release.

But how? How did you escape a fully automated prison system? Inmates were in lockdown by remote at night and constantly under surveillance during the day. Cameras she could circumvent, but the pressure plates, they were the problem. They registered the barcodes on the soles of the footwear, compared that barcode to the physical parameters of the inmate, including weight. All those aspects were measured while the inmates slept.

No one escaped from Marist prison. Ever.

Kasen drifted off to sleep still attempting to find a flaw in the system.

* * *

“Lockdown complete.” The woman’s achingly pleasant voice woke Kasen. “Please arise for the day. Breakfast will be served in one hour in the dining hall. Until then, please avail yourself of the cleansing unit and fresh uniforms. Enjoy your morning.”

Kasen threw an arm across her eyes, a sense of futility growing.

“Cellmates Alpha 3784 dash 547 and Beta 1290 dash X932, your attention please.” Kasen sat up at her number. The ‘X’ represented her official attachment to a convicted inmate. “The Governor requests your presence in his office at oh nine hundred solar hours. Please make yourselves presentable and available for an extended interview. In the meantime, please enjoy your morning.”

“Eight months and now he wants to talk?” Lady Hakira asked with a gleam of humour in her violet eyes.

Kasen shrugged, stood by the transparent explosion-proof door and watched the cells across the concourse while Lady Hakira bathed. One of the Castellan raiders stared back at her, or, more precisely, at a naked Lady Hakira.

She watched as the Castellan wiped the body fluid onto the glass with his hands and turn away with a satisfied smile. Another Castellan stood off to the side, watched and waited for Kasen’s turn in the shower.

Her lip curled with distaste. Oversexed Barbarians.

* * *

Guards escorted the two women down a corridor with dark pink carpet and pale pink walls. It was supposed to be a soothing, feminine colour, but to Kasen, the carpet hid the bloodstains of many a victim.

Governor Courtland rose from his chair. “Good morning, Lady Hakira.” He smiled, but ignored Kasen. “Please, sit.” He held out an arm to one of two chairs in front of his desk. He gave her a slight bow, a bob of his greying head.

“Good morning, Governor.” Hakira dropped into a chair. Kasen stood at her right shoulder. “To what do I owe this unexpected… ah, ‘request’?”

Courtland’s smile dimmed as he sat. “Er, well, here’s the thing.” He cleared his throat, lowered his gaze to the sheet of recyclable plastic lying on his desk. “I’ve been given instructions as to your disposal.”

“Disposal, is it now?” Lady Hakira crossed her legs, folded her hands on her knee.

“Perhaps an… unfortunate use of the word.”

Kasen began to wonder at his demeanour: Nervous, unsettled, perhaps a little confused?

Courtland tried a brief smile. “I have here a directive from the Ruling Council, Lady Hakira, and I must confess I’m a little… worried about the dubious legality of such a demand. We, here at Marist Prison, operate with the utmost care in rehabilitating the inmates so they become useful members of society once more. I cannot understand the Council’s…. well, attitude, I suppose.”

“Then perhaps you should tell me what they want, Governor Courtland.” Lady Hakira said.

Kasen watched the man, then turned her gaze to the window. Sunshine, she thought, fresh air. Guards, patrolling the perimeter but… not watching the inmates. Their attention lay beyond the walls. What…?

“Yes.” Courtland said and Kasen shifted her feet. “Right then. I have a demand from the Council through me to you. It suggests I, ah, facilitate a confession of treason from you, or you shall be executed out of hand.”

Kasen watched the guards shift, form into groups of four; a defensive, military formation.

Lady Hakira’s laugh was light with humour. “I imagine they are under a lot of pressure to see me disposed of, Governor Courtland, and I suspect someone has proven the fallacy of the supposed treasonous communications.”

Courtland flushed. “I don’t know anything about that.” He said quickly, giving lie to his statement and shifted in his seat. “But if you refuse to make a confession freely, I’m to…”

At his subtle movement, Kasen launched herself across the desk, slammed the Governor in the chest with her shoulder. The pistol, with an attached suppressor, flew out of his hand, thumped to the carpeted floor as she took him down.

Courtland gasped for breath as Kasen held his throat, not squeezing, but with enough pressure to let the Governor know she could choke the life out of him. Her other hand formed a fist over his heart and his eyes widened with acknowledgement.

Where she came from, the gravity was heavier. She was stronger and faster than the other inmates, probably the guards, too. With one strike, she could punch through Courtland’s sternum, pulp his heart and break his spine.

“Kasen! What are you doing? What’s the meaning of this?”

“Look out the window, my lady.” Kasen ordered without taking her eyes off Courtland.

“Oh… my. There are soldiers, scaling the walls, fighting with the guards! Colonial soldiers! But…”

“One word, my lady.” Kasen ground out and lifted her eyes to Lady Hakira.

“Word? What word?” Lady Hakira turned from the window.

“There’s only one reason the Ruling Council would arrange for the Governor here to assassinate you, and probably cite the insanity you suddenly suffered during your incarceration.” She grinned down at Courtland, saw acceptance in his expression as he relaxed with defeat.

“And why would they do that?” Lady Hakira stepped back and looked down at Kasen, puzzled.


© 2009 Jaye Patrick


Monday, June 15, 2009


“It doesn’t fit right.” Peterson fiddled with his squared, white mask, tried to adjust it over his eyes.

“Don’t fidget.” His wife, Greta, grasped his hands and pulled them down. “Here, let me.” He accepted her help with a sigh, looked over the other invitees to this fancy dress ball. There were all manner of man and beast and he grinned as a tall, ethereal, female Monarch glided by dressed from crown to toe in white. A stout, leather clad… what were they? Oh, yes, Klingon, from one of the classic filums, followed the Monarch as if he were her guard. A Starship captain, dressed in a black, form-fitting outfit with red shoulders, hailed the Klingon.

“I don’t know how I ever managed to dress myself before you came along.” He murmured and she smiled.

“I do: you dressed badly with an awful clashing of colour that scared the customers away.”

He lowered his eyes to her. Twenty-five years they’d been married and he still felt a thrill in the region of his heart every time he looked into her corn-flower blue eyes.

“How do you figure that?” He asked and stepped away as she patted his chest; her signal that he was fit to be seen in public.

“Because you had every vegetable group colour spread out like vomit.”

Peterson winced at her analogy.

“I put everything out in the order it came.” He protested mildly.

“Yes, dear: the reds mixed with the greens with the occasional orange; yellow with purple or blue. It seared the eyes, as did you with your flamboyant dress code. A grocer should make his produce as appealing to the eye as possible, if he’s to make a success of himself.”

He wrapped his arms around her in a hug. “Then it’s lucky you came along and showed me the error of my ways.”

“Yes, indeed; most fortunate. Now then,” she cast a critical eye over him, “I think we’re ready.” She looked up into his eyes. “You make a wonderful Moon Base commander.”

“Thank you my dear, but they didn’t wear masks, so how come I’ve got to wear one?”

She patted his cheek. “It adds to the mystique.”

“Ah, of course. And you my sweet,” he raised her hand and kissed the back of it, “make a rather fetching High Priestess of Dahl.”

Greta withdrew her hand and swirled around in her diaphanous red silk outfit. The material whispered around her ankles. “I do, don’t I?”

Peterson chuckled. “Come on,” he grabbed her hand, “let’s go party.”

The double doors to the ball room stood open, most of the invitees already inside the cavernous room.

Lights sparkled from above and every five metres, silvered mirrors hung, reflecting the crowd, lending more size to the room.

Peterson tucked his arm around Greta, guided her through the cheerful crowd to a side point.

Ancient music pumped out of hidden speakers. He could feel the base reverberate through his body. He settled his wife in a chair and caught two highball drinks from a passing waiter.

Greta accepted with a smile and Peterson lowered himself into the chair next to her.

“I wonder if we know anyone here.” She asked and sipped the pale green liquid. “Mmm. I haven’t had one of these before.”

Peterson sipped his pale orange drink. “This one’s pretty good, too.” He frowned at the liquid. “Why would they give us the good stuff?”

“Oh, I don’t know, because we’re guests?”

“And so we are. But, honey, I’m a grocer. I mean, look at the people here? All dressed up with sparkling jewels…” He stared harder at a nymph. “At least, I think they’re genuine jewels, but how would I know?”

“Darling, don’t go on so. If the United Federation didn’t think we were worthy, they wouldn’t have sent us an invite. Just relax and enjoy yourself.”

The nagging sense that he shouldn’t be here continued, but for the sake of his wife’s happiness, he ignored it. Over the years, he’d rarely treated her to a night out; the shop took all their time and effort. She deserved this night and he wasn’t going to spoil it for her.

“Okay.” Then he plucked her half-empty glass from her hand and set on the tray of another passing waiter. “Let’s dance.” He said and bowed to her. “My lady.” He held out his hand and she took it with a giggle.

“Sir.” She allowed and he swept her into his arms, moved into the crowd of dancers.

He hummed along with the music, held her close and swirled around the floor. His eyes left hers and swept around the other dancers, but his gaze caught the multitude of mirrors.

Reflected back, the partiers expressed joy, happiness and quiet contentment. In one mirror, he thought he saw a shadow, but he dismissed it as he guided Greta around the floor, carefully avoiding the other dancers.

“The Federation puts on a terrific party.” Greta said, attracting his attention.

“Would you care for another drink, or something to eat, perhaps?” He asked and barely missed bumping into another couple, this pair dressed as matching wizards.

“No, thank you, dear.” Greta murmured.

“It’s funny, but most people here are dressed as characters out of fiction, or filums.” He said and Greta chuckled.

“It’s not as if there are many aliens to copy even if we do live in the Age of Enlightenment. It’s only been five years since first contact with the Bellaria, and they are just as cautious as we are.”

Peterson thought of the bird-like creatures. They were taller than humans, with a feather-type plumage and vestigial wings. He’d only seen them on the info-network. They disturbed him on a fundamental level with their beady eyes and claw-like, four-fingered hands.

“Then there are the Corusca,” Greta went on. “Small, cute and furry. Though I think they have too many limbs. A little too grabby for good manners to abide.”

“I suppose so. I hadn’t thought of it like that.” Peterson mused and his eyes once again caught a shadow in one of the mirrors; he frowned, tried to puzzle it out, but again dismissed it. “Let’s go and eat. All this dancing is making me hungry.”

“Okay, dear, but then I want to hunt down anyone we know. Or better yet, do some schmoozing for more customers.”

“Honey.” Peterson complained.

“Where better? Get to know them, talk to people, lure them to the shop with your lethal charm.”

Peterson laughed. She was so good for his ego, he thought and led her through the crowd to the food-laden buffet table.

“Oh, what a feast!” Greta murmured with glee. “Let’s eat.”

* * *

“Five hundred and forty, as you requested.” The Federation officer bowed his head. He had no wish to stare at the invitees through the mirrors. To him, it was an abomination, but the Federation had no choice. Across the world, there were a hundred such fancy dress balls.

“Thank you, Officer Cortez. Your services will be required for the next quarter’s harvest.” The metallic voice synthesizer stated.

Cortez kept the disgust and fury off his face until he’d left the room. To express anything other than absolute respect and obedience would land him on the Coruscan menu, like those poor unfortunates in the next room.

But one day, he promised himself, he would make certain to purge this world of every last one of the bastards. If he’d known the small, multi-limbed, furry monsters made contact because they thought human flesh a delicacy, he and the others of the United Federation Council would have blasted the little rugs out of the galaxy.

But he hadn’t known; no-one knew until the invasion was complete and harvest had begun. Now, instead of being the mightiest force in the known galaxy, humans were fodder.

© Copyright Jaye Patrick 2007

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Snow Job

Jerrod smoothed his hair back, curled errant black strands behind his ears and grinned at himself in the mirror. “Today is the day you make head salesman.” He tilted his head, raised an eyebrow and tugged down his tight-fitting, short-waisted jacket. He held on to the hem with one hand and waved the other.

“Allow me to show you the latest in the Hyunsford 300, madam. Turbo-charged, cerama-steel shell, the latest in safety and comfort.” Women always went for safety first he mused and cleared his throat. He should try for a deeper, more seductive tone.

He lifted the corner of his mouth and leaned slightly forward. “Polymer bonded, you know. The absolute latest in safety. Warming seats for your comfort, full auto-chef and bar, integrated entertainment system for the littlies, auto-drive, coded directional navigator and… a Starion drive for jaunts in the inner system.”

Kissing noises sounded from behind him and his face turned red. Jerrod closed his eyes. Mongo. Enemy number one, as far as he was concerned. The bastard had no shame when it came to selling cars; it was why he was also the number one salesman.

Jerrod pasted on a fake smile and turned from the mirror.

Mongo was movie star handsome, with blond hair and dark blue eyes, chiselled features and a physique he had to have bought. Too bad he couldn’t have purchased a better personality while he was at it.

“Mongo.” He greeted the man.

“Jerrod.” Mongo mocked then bumped him aside to check his own look in the mirror. “Gonna be a mother today. Have you checked the weather out yet? Maybe you should stay inside and practice. You need it, you know.” He grinned at himself, watched the dimples flash and white teeth gleam.

Jerrod thought he looked like a neo-shark. Why anyone bought from him was a mystery in itself.

Rather than reply to the barb, one of many he’d get during the day, Jerrod turned and went to the window. It was high summer on Mawson and fat, wet flakes of snow fell from a grey sky. Bitter cold frosted the thick glass. Still, it could be worse. It could be a full-blown ice blizzard.

Mongo came up behind him. “On second thought, you could practice out there. I could do with a nice hot cup of mocha.” He slapped Jerrod on the back. “Have at it, kid.”

Jerrod felt the burn of resentment. One day, he’d wipe that smirk off the evil bastard’s face, but for now, he’d go outside and check to make sure the vehicles’ shell warmers were all on and functioning.


Of the fifty cars in the lot, Jerrod had checked nearly a quarter when he heard the whine of an approaching vehicle.

He raised his head and looked around. There was very little street traffic, most people preferred to stay indoors than enjoy the light dusting of snow.

To the left, a long black car slowly came down the street, snow shovel deployed. If he wasn’t mistaken, and he knew cars, it was Drover 1000 SR turbojet. He admired the sleek lines of the all terrain vehicle as it cruised towards him. One day, when he was rich and shameless, he’d buy one of those beauties.

The car pulled to a stop in front of the yard. The turbo engine’s whine decreased as the driver shut off the engine. No one got out. The car just sat there. Jerrod continued to stare at the luxury vehicle until Mongo leaned out the door.

“Oi! Jerrod! Get back to work!”

Jerrod started and glanced back at Mongo. He was adjusting his jacket, smoothing back his hair as he came out.

He stopped for a moment by Jerrod’s side. “Watch a professional at work.” He sneered and approached the car. He reached out and opened the back door.

Legs. The long, smooth, sleek legs were the first thing Jerrod noticed and he swallowed against the sudden dryness of his throat. His eyes travelled upwards as the woman held out a long-fingered, elegant hand for Mongo to clasp and allowed Mongo to help her out. She was stunning with long sable hair, pale face, full, lush lips and a figure that deserved up close and personal attention. Mongo bowed over her hand, kissed the back, as was the style of welcome these days.

She gave him a dazzling smile and thanked him. Then she turned her attention to Jerrod.

“Your doorman is most gratuitous... um, gracious.” She said as she walked towards him. No. She didn’t walk, she… glided, as if she were floating.

Her comment brought him out of his fantasy and he tried hard to suppress a smile. The look on Mongo’s face was priceless.

“Indeed, madam, he has his uses.” He replied in a deep voice, knowing he’d pay for that remark later, and took the hand she held out to him. It was uncommonly cool and… rubbery? But he brushed his lips across her knuckles anyway.

He dropped her hand. “How may I assist you on this fine summer’s day?”

She tucked her hand into his elbow and he felt that odd squishiness again. “I’d like to look at some produce… product.” She murmured.

Jerrod felt his smile slip at her words. She didn’t have an accent, yet her words were… odd. “Of course. Was there anything in particular you were interested in?”

“Yes, I’d like to trace… trade in my car for something more…” She waved an elegant hand, but Jerrod had no idea what she wanted, the car she had was the best all terrain vehicle money could buy. She had no need to get rid of it.

“Something more… shyer! Yes, I want a shy car.”

A… shy car? What the hell was that?

Mongo took the opportunity to come up on her other side. “Perhaps I may be of assistance. Jerrod is one of our juniors here.” He said with arrogance and tucked his hand into her elbow, tried to guide her away. She held firm and turned to him.

“I have no need of you, thanks be. You are… unnecessary. An errata.”

Errata? Did she mean ‘extra’? Jerrod quickly accessed his implant as Mongo’s face went grim and his cheeks glowed red.

A mistake. An error in writing or printing, his implant told him and he grinned, barely kept the choked laugh back.

Mongo released the woman. “I’ll speak with you later, Jerrod.” He promised with a glare and left them to it.

“Now, about my car.” The woman said and guided Jerrod around the lot. “I need something to go. Something natural that will blind in with others. The one I have is too obsequious.” She spoke in a rush, her eyes constantly moving skywards.

Jerrod looked up, too, but could only see the snow, drifting and swirling as he tried to puzzle out what she was saying.

“You’re not from around here are you?” He asked and gave her arm a squeeze.

She seemed to deflate. “It is obsequious to you. I should have kenned.”

He tilted his head in thought and repeated her words in his head. Ah! Now he had it. “Yes, madam. I’m sorry to say, but the correct language would be: Something that will blend in with the others and the one you have is too obvious. But don’t worry, we here at Virgil Car Sales are used to out of town people, though I’m not sure what you meant by a ‘shyer’ car, but I think… you want something that won’t attract attention, yes?”

She turned to him, a plea in her deep blue eyes. Something else flickered there that was inhuman, as if he was looking at something hidden

“You are right,” she sighed, “I am not from around here. I come from a galaxy far, far away. I was trampling to… well, it batters not. My draft broke dawn and I had to insert human-speak quick. I don’t thank I got it all. If you help me, I can milk it worth your whine.” The faster she spoke, the worse her language skills became, but he understood her.

She turned to face him fully. “I had to build this skin-suit too.” She smoothed her hands over her breasts and down her stomach. “Did I get it rote?”

The words ‘skin-suit’ slipped by him as he allowed his eyes to follow her hands moving over the lush body. His heart skipped a beat, his throat went dry and a fizz erupted through his blood stream.

He had to clear his throat. Twice. “Oh, yes, madam, you got it absolutely rote.”

Funny, but he’d thought one of the military missions would get first contact. He didn’t feel scared or nervous or even surprised at meeting an alien and he didn’t care as long as she kept looking at him as if he were her saviour. But he was a car salesman, a junior one at that and he had no idea what to do.

No, wait. Yes, he did. He rubbed a hand over her false upper arm. “I think I have just the thing for you.” He guided her towards a cherry red vehicle. He cleared his throat and deepened his voice.

“Allow me to show you the latest in the Hyunsford 300, madam. Turbo-charged, cerama-steel shell, the latest in safety and comfort. Polymer bonded, you know. The absolute latest in safety. Warming seats for your comfort, full auto-chef and bar, integrated entertainment system for the littlies, auto-drive, coded directional navigator and… A Starion drive for jaunts in the inner system...”

Copyright© 2005 Jaye Patrick


Friday, March 13, 2009

The History Test

His mother’s distant voice took on a stridency that made him wince. But, damn it, he nearly had it! Nearly… the slight distraction cost him.

The two-tone bleat and Game Over flashing across the screen told him he wouldn’t be ‘getting’ it today. His narrow shoulders slumped and he gently placed the ‘joystick’ next to the ‘keyboard’ with a sigh. He shut the ‘computer’ down, covered it with the magnetic dust repeller and hung his head.

“Tomorrow,” he patted the box. “Tomorrow, my escape from Castle Wolfenstein will be complete.”

The wood polymer door flung open behind him and scorching sunlight streamed into the shed.

Jakariah Mobius Thomas Cretchley, you get your butt inside and take that test!” His mother screeched.

Jak huddled in on himself and stood, slouched past his mother. She followed him out. “I swear Jak, I will put a DNA lock on this shed if you don’t start paying attention.” She threatened.

But she always said that.

“Mom,” he whined but didn’t look at her, “it’s part of my Ancient Tech course, you can’t!”

“I can certainly monitor how much time you spend on it, young man.” She said briskly, then her tone softened and she slung an arm around his shoulders. It was a familiar feeling that surged through him, even though he knew he was too old for such comfort and if any of his friends saw, man, he’ never hear the end of being a Mommy’s boy.

“I want you to succeed in all that you do. Heaven knows you’re smarter than me or your father.” She gave him a squeeze and walked them back to the house. “You cannot imagine how proud we are of you, how much we love you. How much we…” She sighed and he heard a note of wistfulness. “We know how well you’re doing, but look at it this way: In studying ancient tech, you need to know about the times the stuff was invented; to look at the society that created it. The good and the bad. That’s why this History test is so important. Understand that, and Ancient tech will be more a breeze than it is now. I can only imagine what you’ll do in the future, son of mine, but it will be grand, no matter what you decide.”

Her faith in him was appalling. He wasn’t that confident. He wanted to study ancient tech until he knew the ins and outs of it, that was all. But her words about the society struck a chord in him. What had those people been like? Not the comp techs, he knew all about them, but those outside the area?

“Okay, Mom.” He said, without really knowing what he was agreeing to. It just seemed the right thing to say.

“Good lad. Now go on in to the Comm Room. It’s all set for you.” She used her hand to lift his slightly furry chin – he was trying to grow a beard, but it wasn’t working too well. He was proud of the growth anyway.

And there it was. That familiar smile in her eyes, in her face. That quiet look he didn’t understand but felt all the way to his toes. “Good luck, Jak.” Then she gave him a quick hug. “I’ll get your half-time snack ready.”

Jak stood in the foyer and watched his mother wander off towards the kitchen. How could she make him feel like a truant idiot and so filled with love for her at the same time? She made him feel like he could conquer the world while chastising him.

He clicked his tongue in frustration and went into the communications room. He stood on the threshold.

Inside the room was a recliner chair. In pockets on either side of the back were the wired tabs he would put to his temples. On the arms were gloves.

Had he studied enough? Did he know enough? God, if he failed… He looked over his shoulder at the freedom the front door represented. He could hear his mother, humming some inane tune, in the kitchen. No, he couldn’t disappoint her, but the fear of doing just that nearly made him run.

Jak forced himself into the room; to sit down and attach the tabs to his temples and don the gloves. He wriggled around to get comfortable, knowing that it wasn’t his body that was uneasy but his mind.

With a few bracing breaths he closed his eyes and initiated contact.

The comm room disappeared and was replaced by an old-fashioned university lecture hall. Everyone in the room was holographic, and kids were popping in and out at random.

“Yo, Ri-uh.” His friend called and nudged him. Through the confines of the chair, he felt the contact.

“Yo, Bradders, wassup?” He turned to his best pal, Bradley Albert Grendal Munce.

The two boys were similar in appearance, with long, unruly brown hair and baggy, ill-fitting clothes. They were the epitome of school fashion.

“Nutin’. Ready for this?”

Jak shrugged. “Dunno. What’s the dig?”

Brad leaned towards him. “The ride is multiple.”

“Oh, man.” Jak groaned. “Everything?”

Brad nodded with an evil grin. “You be doin’ the tech again?”

“Yeah. Nearly had it beat, too.”

“So sad, too bad, move on.”

Jak punched his shoulder.

“Okay, okay, listen up.” Professor Gant popped into view at the front of the class. He smoothed his grey comb-over into place and went on without waiting for silence. “Today’s test is on history. All of it. So those of you who studied particular eras are gonna be pissed.”

There were groans from the auditorium.

“Hey, did I not tell you assholes to be prepared for anything? Is that not a big enough clue?”

“Bugger did say that.” Brad said out of the corner of his mouth.

“Oh, yay.”

“As a relief to you all,” Gant went on, “the break will come at, oh, the mid-19th century, if you make it that far. Remember that you can exit the program at any time, but should you do so, it will be up to that time that you will be marked on. Ready to engage?”

“See you on the other side of the Industrial Revolution, bud.” Brad murmured just before Jak’s immediate surroundings dissolved and he found himself watching a battle. The noise and the smell were indescribable. He was splashed with blood and other viscera, had soldiers yelling in his face, the occasional sword or axe pass through him on their way to the opposing soldier. He flinched anyway and shook his head.

He studied the uniforms, such as they were, the weaponry and listened for the language involved. When he was satisfied, he rolled his shoulders and spoke: “Rome versus Boudicca.” He said clearly.

“More information, please.” A woman’s pleasant voice crooned in his ear.

“Ah.” Damn, who were they? When did this happen? “Suetonius with the Fourteenth and Twentieth legions battled Queen Boudicea in 62 A.D. after his treacherous treatment of the… the… Iceni…? The Roman legions were victorious and the Queen poisoned herself rather than be captured.”

The scene dissolved to an area where white-robed men mingled. They wore strange head gear and spoke in an odd dialect. Still… it was familiar enough.

Oh, yeah, he knew this one. “The assassination of Julius Caesar in March 44 A.D.”

“You are in error.” The voice said and Jak winced. He had one more chance at this. He watched as one man went down on one knee to another. He didn’t understand the language, but he turned when the kneeling man pointed.

Riders on horseback approached, yelling and screaming. They wore chain mail, with surcoats and brandished swords, maces or lances.

“The Crusades,” he breathed with awe. “1100… Um… to 1300 A.D. when Jerusalem was finally lost to Islam. Noted for King Richard of England, Saladin, the Knights Templar and the atrocities committed on both sides, more than any religious significance.”

Again the scene dissolved and Jak wiped the sweat from his forehead. This was going to be a tough ask, he thought as a new scene developed.

For three hours he wandered down the history time-line of humanity, until he hit the stinking, blackened factories of the Industrial Revolution. Dirty, smelly, children dressed in rags begged in the street, their pale faces shining through the dirt. They were bare foot mostly, emaciated or were missing limbs from the lack of safety in the factories.

“A time of great upheaval,” he said and walked around a particularly disturbing hollow-eyed waif. “Many people who’d previously worked the land went to the cities to find jobs, but only found long hours and dangerous working conditions. They were paid a pittance and were poverty-stricken for most of their lives. The death rate was appalling by accidents and chronic illness, but compensated for by an increase in birth rates to ensure that some of the children survived to work in the factories. Education was for those who could afford it and not work in the mills and factories. Medicine was still in its infancy and barbaric by current standards, but there were riches to be had for those savvy enough to invest in the inventions that created mass production. It was also a time of social unrest and the genesis of modern society. It was the end of a solely agrarian society and the Western World, as it was known then, made the leap into technology. The Revolution segued into the Atomic Era and…”

“Thank you, Jakariah Mobius Thomas Cretchley, we will resume following an hour’s break.” The woman broke into his speech. “Please be aware that failure to complete this test will result in a downgraded of your marks.”

Jak tugged off the gloves and the tabs and slowly opened his eyes. He lay there for a moment to re-orientate himself to the twenty-sixth century.

History, while interesting, sure could be a drag sometimes.

And that kid, he thought. I wonder what happened to him or her?

He climbed off the recliner and wandered into the kitchen where his mother was watching the soaps on the dimensional projector. A blond-haired actor held a brunette woman in his arms, professing undying love for her and not to go to Capricornica Five with his half-brother by his mother and the man who she thought was her uncle but in reality was actually his uncle who…

Days of our Lives?” He asked and reached for the sandwich she’d made for him. He bit into it. Neo-beef, coolio.

She waved a hand at him. “Corinne is about to find out that River is really her brother and that his child by his second marriage, that’s Brook, by the way, is actually her…” She turned and looked at him. “Oh! How did it go?”

He shrugged. “Let me put it this way, Mom: I’m sure glad we live in a modern society.” He shook his head and looked at his sandwich. That waif could have done with this. “What those people had to go through, it’s depressing.”

“Without them, we wouldn’t be here, sweetie.” Her eyes drifted to the almost solid holograms cavorting naked in front of her.

“Yeah.” He slumped down next to her and chewed on his sandwich, watched the show. “Think this will get another Oscaremmy this year?” He asked.

“Absolutely, Jak. History, my boy, is all well and good, but you can’t beat real-life drama like this.”

Copyright © 2006 Jaye Patrick


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Animal Planet

“…And then I said, “Pal, you wouldn’t know a Xerxitis Scoliatus if you fell over it!” Loria roared with laughter; his companions merely smiled out of politeness.


The companions cleared their throats, picked up their dinner plates and ambled away from the fire side. Loria turned, squinted up at the woman. “Wassup, CC?”

Cordelia raised a black eyebrow and firmed her mouth. “I will tell you again: Don’t call me ‘CC’. You call me ‘Cordelia’ or ‘Professor Carrington’.”

He touched two fingers to his forehead and flicked them forward. “Right you are, PC.”

“Loria.” He either missed the warning in her tone, or didn’t care.

“Hey, you’re too young to called Professor, and Cordelia sounds like my grandmother’s name.” He gave her what she could only assume was his idea of a charming grin.

Cordelia crouched beside him and lowered her voice. “It seems I wasn’t clear: address me with respect or you will be back at Sirius University cleaning the toilets. I will have your study licence revoked; I will have your teaching privileges suspended or cancelled. Is that simple enough for you?”

His grin turned sour. “Yeah, P…” He cleared his throat. “Yes, Professor Carrington, but…” he shrugged. “It’s a misdemeanour. A slap on the wrist, a chastisement, a note in my file. Every other field trip leader didn’t mind.”

“Is that right?”

“Yep, why old man Gurenburg….”

“Warned me of your disrespect; as did Professors White, Arundel and Vespian. So don’t even try it. This is your last chance, Loria. Those ‘misdemeanours’ have piled up until they have come to the attention of the Dean.”

His blue eyes were hard when they glared at her, but for once, he kept his mouth shut.

“Now, you’re learning. We’ll leave it at that. On to the next item of our agenda. I saw the red-flagged path.”

Loria glanced away, the firelight and shadows emphasised the tightness and rebellion of his shoulders.

Cordelia waited in silence until he finally jerked a shoulder. “This jungle sucks the life right out of a man. It’s hot and wet during the day, hot and damp at night. I ran out of energy.”

“Then you’d better take plenty of water with you tomorrow. I need those traps set by noon. We cannot afford to get too far behind schedule, Loria.”

“Yes, Professor Carrington.” Loria muttered.

Cordelia rose and wandered towards her tent. Loria Drake might be a waste of academia, but he was right about one thing: the planet, nominally called, J-169/3a was a hell of a hot and humid place.

She brushed aside the tent entrance and picked up a towel to wipe her sweating face. Then she sat down at her camp desk and made notes about the day’s discoveries.

J-169/3a had an abundance of wildlife. It was her team’s responsibility to catalogue as many species as possible; and it was a large team: trappers, physiological scanners, zoological sociologists, statisticians; the list went on. And then there was Loria. He was supposed to be an expert zoologist, but Cordelia was beginning to wonder. He was a screw up and a jerk. So far, all he’d been good for was labour. His insights into the animals of this planet were obvious and unhelpful.

But just maybe, she’d instilled in him how dire his situation was becoming.

She shook her head and began writing.

* * *

“One-point-seven-nine-two kilograms, Professor.” Elias Grange picked up the six-legged pale grey furry creature and set it on the ground. It scampered into the undergrowth.

“Excellent.” She wiped her forehead and squinted up. The red-tinged canopy kept the heat and moisture from escaping. For once she wished for a giant buzz saw to cut it all away.

“When do we get to name them?” Grange asked and she lowered her head, smiled at the Doctorate student.

“Name them? Why, that honour belongs to the higher ups, I’m afraid.”

His mouth turned down. “Well that’s disappointing. I was all set to name that creature ‘Fred’.”

“You’re incorrigible, Grange.” She grinned and went to the next trap… or where the next trap was supposed to be.

Grange searched the undergrowth but couldn’t find it. He turned to her with a shrug and went further up the trail.

Cordelia fumed. She warned him, officially and unofficially and still he chose to disregard her; disrespect this mission. Loria was going to be on the next shuttle out.

Grange came back down the path, shaking his head. “There aren’t any more out, Professor. I thought Drake was supposed to be out here early this morning?”

She dragged in a deep breath. “That was my understanding as well.”

“Well,” he scratched his scalp through thinning blond hair. “I saw Loria up and about at dawn loading up some traps, I assumed… but I shouldn’t have, should I? I should have made sure he was going to set them.”

Cordelia slapped his shoulder with affection. “Not your fault, Grange, this is Loria’s. Let’s get back to camp since there is nothing more we can do out here. Get Roger and Melanie out here after lunch to do it. I’ll deal with Loria.”

* * *

The camp was deserted when they arrived, but that wasn’t unusual: all the scientists were out in the field; the admin staff remained to keep the camp in good order and to provide food and communications.

“Grange, could you hunt up something cool to drink for me please?” Cordelia asked and looked around the camp.

“Sure thing, Professor.”

“I’ll either be in my tent, or in the com centre.”

He nodded and wandered over to the open-walled mess tent.

Cordelia went straight to the com tent. She brushed aside the opening and stepped inside. Here, it was cooler with portable aircons to keep the equipment from overheating. Here, too, she found Loria, facing away from her, lounging back in a camp seat, feet up on the table, headset on, gurgling with laughter.

“Oh, Ladoca, you crack me up. Of course they don’t suspect. Hell, I set enough traps to keep them busy for weeks.”

Cordelia stood still; listened to the rest of his conversation, her hot anger easing into cold fury.

“Nah. The planet’s full of ‘em. They’ll fetch some amazing prices at market once we’ve gone. Well, yeah. Another week and this planet will be open to you… Co-ordinates? Yep… Cords might be a professor, but she’s way too trusting. This planet is gonna make us wealthier beyond our dreams, Ladoca, it’s the pot of gold we’ve been looking for.”

Cordelia rose up on her toes. She saw the corner of her records book sitting in his lap and she ground her teeth together. In that book was a description of every animal they’d discovered as well as measurements. Every night, the teams brought their work to her and she transcribed it into the book. If a team lost their notes, she’d have a back up copy and they lost only a day’s worth of that team’s notations.

“Yeah, well, I’ll have another download for you the same time tomorrow. Okay. See you in a week.”

He tugged off the headset and tossed it onto the table, sighed happily and rubbed his hands together.

“So in truth, you’re a black marketeer.” Cordelia said and turned so fast, he nearly fell off the chair.

“How long have you been there? You’re supposed to be out with the traps!”

“Long enough to know your ass will be in prison for a long time.” She sneered. “And we came back early because there weren’t any traps to find.”

Loria’s eyed narrowed. “They’re out on the red path, like you asked. You should be out there.”

Cordelia raised an eyebrow. “You’re done, Drake.”

He shook his head. “I so didn’t want it to come to this.” He tossed her book onto the desk and wrapped his fist around the grip of a darter pistol with a bulging silencer attached.

Cordelia looked at him, then the gun. It fired a group of four razor-sharp, high tensile steel darts.

“You’ve got to be kidding.” She said blandly and he pushed himself up from the chair.

“Nope. You wanted to be rid of me. I’m gonna grant you your wish sooner than expected.” He took a cautious step towards her. “All you have to do is act normal. I’ll go to my tent, collect my gear and we’ll go to the shuttle. We will lift off and rendezvous with the Darwinian. Simple.” He turned and fired into the com unit. It sparked and sizzled. A curl of smoke rose from the ruined unit.

“That was our help line.” Cordelia clenched her hands into fists.

“And now it’s not. Move.”

Cordelia stepped out into the compound. Still empty.

She began walking towards the tent Loria shared with three others.

Grange hailed her and she turned slightly.

“Act normal, CC, or I’ll kill him.” Loria whispered in her ear.

“I got you a lime crush, that okay?” Grange held out a drink pack with the straw already stuck in the top. “Hey, Loria, we didn’t find the traps. Where’d you put ‘em?”

Cordelia took the pack from him and sipped as if she had all day.

“On the red-flagged path.” He pointed to the right of the camp and Grange let out a whoop of laughter.

“Loria! You idiot, that’s the green path! The planetary surveyors’ route!”

Cordelia nearly choked on her drink. Drake was colour-blind? She risked a glance over her shoulder. Drake was red faced - or she thought with a grin, from his perspective, green faced - with embarrassment and anger.

“Listen here you little…” He reigned himself in.

“Oh, man, I’m sorry, but hell, that means there are… jeez, how many traps did you set? On the wrong path.”

“It’s not a ‘wrong’ path, just one we’re not doing yet.” Loria ground out.

Grange grinned at him. “That’s one way of looking at it, I guess.”

Cordelia held the drink pack between her hands, warmed it. She was running out of time. She knew well enough that Drake would not let her live. If he had his way, he’d kill them all and be the lone survivor of a tragic accident.

“Here, Grange, I’m done with this.” She tossed him the almost full pack and kept turning. She glimpsed the gun, aimed low and to the side so Grange wouldn’t see it.

She slapped the gun aside with one hand and brought up a fist, slammed it up under Loria’s chin. His head snapped back.

“Wha?” Grange began but too late.

Cordelia brought her fist up again on a back strike and caught Drake on the cheek as his head came forward. His other hand swung around and he pressed his finger down on the trigger, emptying the clip as he fell to the side.

She felt like she’d been punched herself, but she leapt on Drake as he went down. Using his own momentum, she rolled him onto his stomach and slammed the heel of her hand into his kidneys then wrenched his gun-less hand up his back until his fingers touched his collar, put her knee into his lower back.

“Lose the weapon, or so help me I’ll break your spine.”

Drake tried to struggle as he cursed and swore and spat.

Cordelia glared up at an open-mouthed Grange. “Get the security cuffs, Grange. Now!”

His head bobbed and he turned and ran.

“You little shit.” She twisted his arm and he cried out, arched back. “Better.” She grimaced and hooked her free arm around his throat. “I can break your neck, too. Leverage is a wonderful thing, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“You… you... you’re bleeding like a stuck pig, bitch. How long do you think you’ll last?”

“Long enough to kill you. Now, if I have to.” She leaned back, building the pressure on his neck, cutting off his air.

Grange returned with not only the cuffs, but two admin staff as well, including the formidably built cook.

While she held him, Grange slapped the bonding cuffs around the wrist she held, then the other, and let him go.

Suddenly, she felt light headed and looked down. The son of a bitch winged her!

She sat on the mossy ground and held a hand to her side. Blood, lots of it, trickled between her fingers and she stared at it until her vision greyed, then faded to black.

* * *

“Professor Carrington, it is not in the purview of this university to engage in law enforcement decisions!” Dean Alexander said.

Cordelia opened one eye, then the other. Couldn’t this have waited until I’m back on my feet, damn it? But no, of course not. The head of the University was in full steam and no one, not even his wife could stop him. He would have his say regardless of whether she was conscious enough to listen.

He also had a captive audience.

“You are not Indiana Jane. Planet J-169/3a does not have priceless treasures to protect from the Nasties.”

He also thought himself as a classics film buff.

“And I will not have my people beaten up or nearly murdered for the sake of one world.”

“Dean Alexander.” Cordelia said softly but firmly. “Drake was going to kill me. He’d already destroyed the com unit. No doubt he was planning to do something with the shuttle, too, so it couldn’t come back for us. His black market is too lucrative for something as silly as the team to get in way.”

“Harumph.” Alexander crossed his arms, his tanned face grim, his green eyes concerned. And, she noted, this was the first time she’d seen his white hair uncombed.

“I’ll be fine, Morgan.”

“You’ll be happy to know then,” he grumbled, “that Drake and Ladoca Benregis, from the faculty on Virtua have been indicted and sentenced to life for their crimes.” He patted her hand. “So, you’ll be ready for the jaunt to Q-765/1b next month?”

Cordelia snorted, and winced as a jab of pain shot through her ribs. “Just as soon as the nano-meds are done.”

“No more Indiana Jane?” He scowled at her.

“I’m a xenozoologist, Morgan, I play with animals. How dangerous can they be?

© 2006 Jaye Patrick


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Soul Keeper

Soul Keeper is ready for download off Scribd!

It's too long to be posted here, so I posted it there.