Flash Friday – ‘Seek and You Shall Find’

Chef at the Trans-Siberian rail wall, between Moscow and Khabarovsk. CC 2.0 photo by Leidolv Magelssen.

Chef at the Trans-Siberian rail wall, between Moscow and Khabarovsk. CC 2.0 photo by Leidolv Magelssen.

Seek and You Shall Find

‘I’d give all the gold in Bielen Major if these fools would get moving,’ Dan mutters, lighting up. He’s muffled like a swaddled child, shivering.

‘If you had it, you wouldn’t be workin’ on no Interplanetary Line,’ I say.

‘Yeah, yeah.’ He takes a drag. ‘It’s freezin’, man. Get in here!’ I’m still in my cook’s gear – takes me ages to cool down after a shift – as I lean out. My breath plumes. Up ahead, they’re arguing over the wormhole co-ordinates, and I wonder where we’ll end up, this time. Or when.

Idly, I turn my head. Platform’s full of disembarking passengers, bowed under baggage, hurrying into this world, whatever it’s called.

And if she hadn’t glanced back, I might have missed her.

‘Hey,’ I say. ‘It’s that girl.’

‘Who?’

‘Redhead from two stops back. In the Sakh system. Remember?’

Dan shrugs. ‘So?’

‘What’s the going rate for illegal alien intercepts, these days?’ I say, catching his suddenly gleaming eye.

**

Taking part in a writing competition every Friday is a scary thing; it makes time feel like it’s travelling far too fast. I don’t see the days sliding by from one Friday to the next and that, of course, is a disconcerting thing. In any case, here’s this week’s effort at Flash! Friday for your reading pleasure. As well as the prompt image, we were given the element of ‘treasure’ to include, and also the hint that the judge this week is a big fan of SF stories (which suits me, I must admit, as I like to both read and write SF stories). This one was a bit of a struggle to bring to a conclusion; I had other ideas, like the wormhole exploding, or the woman on the platform turning out to be someone from the future or the past (which might have been a good idea, maybe one I’ll revisit), but I plumped in the end for good old-fashioned greed. Just shows, you can hint at a futuristic setting and yet the people who live in it can be the most quotidian and banal of characters. I suppose that just because a world’s setting might feel exotic to us, it’s just ‘home’ to the people who have to exist within it, and people – at the end of the day – are just people.

In any case I hope you’ll enjoy this tiny window into a world where trains travel via wormholes and opportunists grab whatever chances they have, and there are whole planets filled with treasure. Happy weekend, all, and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for a shiny new book review.

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