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Journal mcgrew's Journal: Fire!! 3

I'd brought a bottle of wine from the storeroom and almost dropped it. "Destiny! Oh God, no! Not you!"
                "Huh?" she said with a concerned look on her face. "What's wrong, John?"
                "What's wrong? You're a dropper! Oh, God"¦" I was devastated.
                She looked at the dropper and laughed. "These aren't angel tears, silly, they're antibiotics."
                "Antibiotics? What, you got pinkeye?"
                She laughed. "Don't worry, I don't have any diseases. I had lens implants put in my eyes before we left. I have to put these in my eyes once a week for six months. It was three times a day for the first week and once a day for the first month. It's just to prevent infection."
                "Why did you have to get Implants?"
                "I was nearsighted, my vision was 20/40. I had a little astigmatism, too. These new lenses are great, they're like having strong binoculars and a built in microscope. I never would have believed how sharp and clear everything would be. I can see a blood cell, and the doctor said I should be able to see Earth's moon from Mars if the planets' orbits are close."
                "Wow. Did it hurt?"
                "Did what hurt?"
                "The surgery."
                "No, it's painless. You don't feel a thing."
                "Still," I said, "I'd have just worn contacts rather than let somebody stick needles in my eyes."
                "Well, I used to wear them but they said they'd get in the way on Mars. And I can see so good now"¦ I'm really glad I had the procedure."
                Procedure. Folks who went to college talk like that.
                "Is that for me?" she said, looking at the wine.
                "It's for us. Got a screw and glasses?"
                "Robot, screw and glasses" she said. A square box with rounded corners wheeled across the room with two wine glasses sitting on top of it. I set the bottle on it and the thing opened and poured the wine. I started to take a sip.
                "You have to let it breathe," she said.
                "I gotta what?"
                She laughed. "Let it sit for a couple of minutes. It'll taste better."
                "You never did tell me why you were going to Mars," I said.
                "I'm an astronomer. There's too much light on Earth, there hasn't been a useful telescope there for a century. So it was the moon or Mars, and they have plenty of people on the moon. Mars isn't just short of women, it's short of everything. Almost everybody there is a scientist; there's no unemployment on Mars at all. It needs more robots, too. It needs more everything. It's a real frontier, I think it's really exciting, like an adventure."
                Adventure? It was old hat to me. I'd made the Mars trip lots of times. Now Saturn, that was an adventure. I'd been on my way back from Titan one trip and the damned engines quit and the robots couldn't fix them. I had to wait six damned months for a tow tug and I'd almost made it home when the boat crapped out on me.
                Mars was usually a six month trip, but it was on the opposite side of the sun and we were going to be gone a year and a half. That's a long time to put up with dropless whores.
                Destiny raised her glass. "To Mars!" she said.
                "Nah," I replied. "To us."
                She smiled. "I'll drink to that!"
        An alarm went off. It never fails. I grabbed my tablet.
                Shit, a fire.
                "Shit!" I said. "A fire! Oh, hell!" I took off running toward the burning cabin. I heard screams as I approached the door, and the screams abruptly stopped.
                The door wouldn't open. "Computer," I said to the tablet. "Open that damned door, there's someone in there that's hurt."
                "Unable to comply," it said.
                "Danger to the ship and cargo, crew, and passenger."
                "GOD DAMN IT!" I yelled. "There's a woman dying in there."
                "Containment in approximately two minutes." This must be a bad one for the automatic suppression to take hold "" but of course, since the cabin was occupied it couldn't just let all the air out like if the engine room had caught fire.
                A cot rolled up behind me and the door opened, air rushing into the smoke-filled quarters, its pressure already lowered but not enough to harm a person. The cot lifted the woman, who I recognized as the Billie whore, on itself. It put a mask over her face and a needle in her arm and left for the infirmary.
                I walked around and saw what caused the fire "" the stupid whore was trying to make an ancient drug called "methamphetamine". Even on Earth making that shit is dangerous, in space it's a fucking crazy menace. I guessed that since she couldn't get angel tears she figured she'd make a substitute, as if all drugs were alike or something. Dumb whore.
                My phone buzzed; it was Destiny. "Is everything OK?"
                "Yeah, sugar, just one of those stupid whores trying to get high. Blew up her quarters and burned herself up pretty good."
                I went outside. As soon as I closed the door I could hear the smoky air being blown out to space. Maids were already waiting outside the door to clean up the mess. I started walking back home. A dozen whores were coming down the hallway towards me. "What's going on?"
                "Billie blew herself up trying to make drugs," I said. "I catch anybody else doing that and they're in deep shit. Now excuse me."
                "Wait! Is she OK?"
                It was that one broad, the one that was fighting with Billie the first week. Apparently they'd not only made up, but were lovers. Lesbian hookers? That don't make no sense to me, but I ain't went to college. The bunch of them went on to the infirmary and I went back to drink some wine with Destiny.

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  • A few style observations. You blow through a lot of action and occurrence really quickly. Faster than Elmore Leonard! The pace may be a barrier from getting to know the characters.

    Also, had to read this sentence twice "The cot lifted the woman, who I recognized as the Billie whore, on itself." Then I got it. :-)

    If you move this quickly, the prose can't demand anything but instant parsing, or it takes the reader from the context of the story to the context of the page. And y'all know about context-switch

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Indeed, and thank you. This is, of course, just the first crude draft; I just sit down and start typing and let my fingers do the walking. I edit later, a lot of times I'm wasted when I write these. Observations like this is a damned good reason to post these to slashdot. You'll like the finished version better than you like this partly because of what you communicated.

      I'm Johnny Five. NEED FEEDBACK!

      Just like Nobots there will be a lot more verbiage and character development in the final version. I'm buying

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.