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Return From Red Zone (Flash Fic)

1 Sep

Return From Red Zone
Jan 12, 2013
Ray Daley

It’d been a great day in Red Zone. We’d been first to apply for passes since it was classified safe.

800 years is a long time. Even then, it was ‘droids doing the rad sweeps. Residuals had dropped below the safe limit so The Council lifted the blockade. When we reached the barricade, troopers were waiting to process those crazy enough to want to be first to enter Red Zone.

“Okay Citizens. You signed waivers so you know the risks. Laws of Salvage apply within Red Zone but everything returning through this checkpoint will be scrutinized. It will be manned until 23:59 when it will close until 06:00 tomorrow. Science Division highly advises not staying after dark.”

As the timer above the checkpoint rolled over to 06:00 the troopers opened the barrier and started checking the groups through.

Rule #1: You may only enter Red Zone in a group of two or more.

“Here’s your detector, Citizen.”

Rule #2: Rad detectors must be worn in plain sight at all times.

We walked the mile into the outskirts of the old city. The more cautious carried hand detectors which remained silent. I felt safe enough, my research had trawled up a few useful points from some of the oldest databases.

Most thought the old dirty Nukes had been used in the Conflict. My findings said otherwise. Red Zones environs had been hit by what they used to call “Smart Bombs”, weapons that killed people but left buildings and infrastructure intact.

They had minimal fallout and the shortest half-life of any bomb. The danger had been gone for well over 700 years. Ignorance and fear kept Red Zone closed. That and propaganda.

We left the group, heading down a side alley off the main streets. We’d found a few maps so had some points of reference. Most of the people we left behind hung around for up to an hour. They were lookey-loos, just there to say they had been.

Some snagged small souvenirs, we were here for bigger game.

Just before noon when we found what we were looking for, the building clearly marked, its function carved into the stone facing. We knew we didn’t have long to gather much, the journey back to the checkpoint would take us as long to do and we didn’t want to be stuck in here overnight.

There was no specific target in here, everything was equally important. I filled my bag and started on a second when the voice behind me reminded me “We can only carry one bag each.” Jax, dependable and logical.

“Attention! Five minute warning!” I’d programmed the chrono as our only safeguard.

“Jax, time to go!” I called to him.

“I only half filled the bag!” he replied.

I threw him the second bag I’d started, hoping what he’d gathered plus my enthusiasm would equal the Salvage limit.

We were running now, back through Red Zone. No time to enjoy the beautiful old architecture. We ran hard for the first hour then had to slow to a fast walk, all the time keeping to the reverse of our outbound route.

Our headlamps lit the way through the last few dark blocks, the checkpoint visible in the distance. Another hard run to beat the clock.

The troopers scanned us, checking the bags. “At weight.”

We’d keep our booty.

“Open the bag”. Time to see if our risk had been worth it. “Anything on the forbidden list? What are these?” asked the Trooper.

“Just books.” I said.

“Never heard of them. Salvage passed.” replied the Trooper.

Treasure. And more waiting.

Return From Red Zone

Salary Man (flash fic)

1 Sep

Salary Man
May 28, 2013
Ray Daley

The Misthkthos had been on Earth over a year when I talked to my first one. They’d come in peace, landed in a quiet region and strolled out of their ship into the night to check out our planet.

Easy enough to spot them as aliens you’d think? Then you’d be thinking wrong because they look just like me and you. Admittedly with subtle differences but you could have sex with one of them and never know it. Don’t worry, no chance of them getting you pregnant or leaving you with a nasty alien STD. Our blood chemistry differed slightly.

But that slight difference was enough to mean we couldn’t catch their diseases and they couldn’t catch ours.

So how did I spot him?

Sitting at a table in the truck stop diner wearing a faded red plaid shirt, jeans and cowboy boots. He looked like every other wanna-be cowboy in the joint.

“Mind if I sit here?” I asked, gesturing to the empty seats opposite him.

“Help yourself, free country or at least that’s what they say.” He had the twang of the accent and the world-weary cynicism down to a tee.

I started eating my burger and fries. “Damn good food here.” I said.

“Ain’t that the truth,” he replied “I always stop in here when I’m in these parts.”

He hadn’t blinked, his poker face was near perfect. His one mistake, the subtle tell that gave him away.

I figured I’d see if I was right. I lowered my voice. “Hello Space Boy.”

He said nothing. He took another gulp of his coffee with his right hand.

“Tell me I’m wrong then.” I said quietly.

Again he said nothing.

I fixed him with a gaze. “I could repeat it, only louder if you want? Or you can tell me I’m wrong?”

He put his coffee cup down onto the table and looked me right in the eyes. “What was it?”

“What gave you away, you mean?” I said.

“Yeah. I thought I had this whole routine perfected. No-one ever noticed before.” he said.

I glanced toward at his left hand. “Pass me the salt.”

He was probably unaware he’d been fiddling with the salt cellar from the moment I’d walked in and almost certainly from the second he’d taken his seat.

His people had a glut of many of things on their planet. Salt however was in very short supply. They’d seen our oceans full of the stuff and made their way across the stars to trade with us. But as they’d learnt our many languages from TV and radio transmissions they thought they had a good idea how visiting aliens were received.

IE:- very badly and with deadly force.

So they’d chosen to hide amongst us until the time to trade was right.

“Damn. Was it that obvious?” he asked me nervously.

“Only if you know what to look for. And I did.” I replied.

“So what’s it going to cost me to keep you quiet? You know we hate violence. I’ve got plenty of great technology I can trade?” he asked me.

I smiled at him. “I guess that ship of yours is pretty well hidden?”

He nodded.

“Good,” I replied “then you can give me a lift home. I’ve been stuck here ever since I crashed in Roswell a few decades back. I promise I won’t tell if you don’t?”

He smiled at me. “When do you want to leave?” he asked.

I looked over to the counter and called to our waitress. “Miss, can I have this to go please? I think I just got a ride home.”

Salary Man

So you think you own everything I’ve released?

13 Mar

Oh no you bloody don’t!

Yes, it’s me, your friend and humble author, sweary Ray!

So back in 2012, I was pretty active in the Goodreads forums and took part in an anthology that was eventually published on Amazon.

It was (and still is) called “A Splendid Salamagundi“.

My contribution was a VERY short story called “No World For Vampires“, which until recently even I didn’t have a copy of in my own archive.

I’ve since corrected this massive oversight.

This book has won the Indie Book Bargains award for best anthology for 2012!

I don’t own a copy of “Salmagundi” but will do once I get all my ducks in a row & get it off Amazon. I’ve since gone on to appear in another anthology from Crimson Cloak Publishing called “Steps In Time” (my story is called “The Waiting Room“) and I’ll be featuring in “Deserts Of Fire” later this year.

That’ll be my first proper paying gig as the two above stories were given for free.

Obviously there’s all my free stuff on Smashwords & Feedbooks. There’s “Survival” (for sale exclusively on Smashwords) and my other pay titles available solely through Amazon.

There’s stuff online too at some of the free flash fic outlets. If you check my Goodreads profile there are a couple of exclusive stories on there as well as things on my blog & my Facebook feed.

Best Books of 2012

A Splendid Salmagundi
Best Anthology

I’ve been scribbling

1 Nov

Happy November from the UK!

We had some trick or treaters last night. Fortunately my brother had the foresight to buy some goodies while he was out and about during the day.

All in all we had 13. The last two came at 9pm, but they were with 2 adults. They got everything that was left.

During the course of the night an idea had been turning over in my head. I finally decided to write it down when I was so tired, I’d already turned the computer off.

So onto paper it went. Just over 300 words after the minor revisions I did during type-up. It’s perfect for somewhere like 365 Tomorrows (and I haven’t sent them anything in quite a while too), possibly Daily Science Fiction.

I finished something else I wrote a couple of days ago, it still needs work. A couple of characters need names, that’ll improve it a little.

This months free ebook will be put out later today too. It’s an alternate history story I wrote as an extra as part of the Year Of Living Bradbury.

You have a lovely day.

A request

3 Nov

If you see my titles for sale anywhere other than Amazon, PLEASE inform me RIGHT AWAY!

Only I make money off me!

A Day Off? No, Apparently

24 Jun

As tomorrow is the start of a new week in The Bradbury Challenge I decided to take today off and do NO writing at all, having written my longest story to date this week already.
Which is probably why I’ve now written two short stories today.
Never say never.

300 words on Pirates.
Then 1218 on, well, something different.

Both of those ideas came from 365 Tomorrows.
So a massive thanks and shout out to them.

Unexpected ideas & story!

5 Jun

Had a couple of ideas that I noted down frameworks for today.

Then about 2 hours ago while trawling through stories on 365 Tomorrows I saw something that gave me an idea I just had to write there and then.

About 2 or so hours ago.

I want to thank Anthony R. Elmore, the writer of Insist to Exist which gave me the two words which were the title of and idea behind the entire story. 2135 words, not including the authors notes.

It wasn’t a great ending but I can probably work on it later.

And I still have at least 2 other ideas from today and 1 from yesterday to work on.