Archive | December 2011

Call Me Lill – Part 4

“Twins,” he said as if that explained it. “It’s a psy bond we’ve had since birth.”

Lill blinked at him, having never heard of something like that. “Really? So you know everything the other is thinking?”

“Mostly. Sometimes I see things she sees when I’m away from her. ”

Lill nodded slowly, examining Dray’s athletic build. “Well, if I give Ché to your sister to play with, what am I gonna do?”

His smile told her she wouldn’t have to worry about that. She enjoyed his company even more than Ché’s. In the morning, another couple was gone. There was no hiding the sargent’s worry now. For once, he didn’t even hit on Lill as they walked. She overheard him talking to the other non-commissioned officers on the way to chow.

“They’ve never taken this many before.”

“Are they showing up anywhere else?”

“No. That’s what worries me.”

“Not your best?”

“No. The ones disappearing are the dregs so far.”

“They’ll turn up.”

“They’ll turn up dead, you mean,” Tab said to his companions. “I don’t like this. The recruits are starting to wonder who’ll be next. Working like this is unsettling. I can’t handle a bunch of stupid, scared people.”

“You going to command?”

“Hell, no! Keep it quiet, that’s my motto.”

“Good luck, Tab. We’ll keep an eye out, but they ain’t no guarantees ’round this place.”

Tab trotted to catch up with Lill. “I need you to keep any eye on things tonight,” he murmured.

“When am I supposed to sleep?”

“I’ll get you a stim pack. I can’t stay in the barracks. I need someone with an ounce of sense watching.”

“What do I do after?”

“Report to me at muster. This isn’t normal, not this many.”

“Wait a second,” she stopped him abruptly. “Not this many? You mean you expect to lose some recruits?”

He sighed, running his stubby fingers across his close cropped scalp. Turning her aside, he led her into a space between two buildings.

“One thing the higher ups do around here is take recruits from the prison section and use them for experiments.”

“What?”

He shushed her. “I don’t want to lose you, Lill. So don’t let on you know. Tell me what you see, that’s all.”

“It’s pitch dark in that barracks….”

“I’ll take care of it. Check your footlocker before light’s out. Don’t let lover boy know.” His tone held scorn.

“Jealous?”

“I thought you had more self-control.”

“I’m lonely. Find a way for us to be together if it’s bothering you.”

Looking furtively around, he kissed her hard on the mouth, leaving her stunned and tingling.

After chow, she went back to the barracks, checking her locker when the others were in the shower. She found a stim patch and light sensitive filters for her eyes. They went in like contacts and would activate automatically when the lights went out. She slipped both in her pocket, taking them with her to the bathroom.

Call Me Lill – Part 3

Despite her circumstances, Lill’s settling in and meeting some others she can call friends. She may not like it where she is, but she has them to see her through.

He moved his possessions to the bunk next to Lill’s as soon as the got back to their barracks. Thirty minutes after chow, it was lights out. It was impossible to move the bunks as they were bolted to the floor, but most couples made due with one narrow bunk. Lill and Ché Hershey put their mattresses on the floor. It wasn’t very comfortable, but provided them a place to get to know one another is a more than friendly way. Afterwards, they put their mattresses back on the beds and fell asleep.

Morning wake-up came at 0400. Stevens came in, crashing metal lids together. They were given 10 minutes to get ready and headed to chow. Most of the recruits had spent too much time fooling around the night before and were dragging. Lill and Ché were pleasantly rested, a fact that did not escape the discerning eye of Sargent Stevens.

“You playing with the pansy?” He asked Lill, taking her aside before chow.

“He’s not a pansy, Sargent. I guarantee, far from it.”

“But you are playing?”

She gave him a level stare, indicating it was none of his business.

“I have a right to know, Recruit. If it interferes with your performance in any way, you’re both on report.”

“It won’t, Sargent.” More quietly, she added, “Did you expect me to wait for you?” She didn’t wait for his answer.

At morning muster, two of the recruits were missing. No one knew what had happened to them. They disappeared during the night. Since the Sargent didn’t seem disturbed by the incident, no one said anything, but Lill was curious. As their day was spent with physical training, she didn’t have time or energy to think much about it. Worn and weary, she and the others trudged to evening chow. Most fell into their bunks as soon as they got back to the barracks and went immediately to sleep.

Lill and Ché, who were in better physical condition than their comrades, spent another night together in their private corner. Later, Lill’s dreams were plagued by dark shapes moving about the barracks during the night. In the morning, another couple had disappeared.

This time, Sargent Stevens looked worried. He didn’t say anything, but Lill found him counting them repeatedly during the day. After their noon meal, they were joined by more recruits. The barracks was nearly full now, but Lill and Ché were still relatively isolated. Only one other couple was anywhere near them.

Before evening chow, they had a few minutes to police the barracks. Lill took the time to introduce herself to the others. Their names were Dray and Shauntay Metzger, a brother and sister from an off-world theatre company.

“They didn’t like our act,” Dray explained, shrugging massive shoulders. “I throw knives at Shauntay and they thought it was exploitative and hazardous.”

Ché was shocked. “And I thought we got railed.”

“We were charged with inciting a riot,” Shauntay shook her long blonde hair out of her face. “The crowd found our act exciting and were cheering for us.”

“Seven years,” Dray complained.

“I’ll be dead before then,” Shauntay complained. “If a battle doesn’t get me, I’ll be dead from the smell.”

“Or the food,” Ché added with a dour sneer.

They sat together at chow, talking quietly together. On the way back to the barracks, Dray took Lill aside.

“I don’t mean to snoop, but are you and Ché – is it a serious relationship?”

“Not really. Why?”

“I think Tay likes him.”

“How would you know a thing like that?”

Call Me Lill – Part 2

Lillian Simpson has already made a favorable impression on her Sargent. Smart, capable and sassy, she’s shown him she can be relied on to excel–if she can survive.

 “See you after chow,” he whispered.

Lill stared after him, confused. Had that conversation been what she thought? Was he hitting on her? Though she had to admit that Sargent Tab Stevens was the tastiest thing she’d seen since getting to this backwater, she wasn’t sure she wanted to risk military prison, or worse, just for a romp.

She put away her belongings and made her bed. By the time she’d finished, the first recruit reported to her. The 20 minutes until chow were spent in a whirlwind of inspections. When the sargent came back to take them to the mess hall, he flashed a pleased eye around the room, nodding to Lill. She led the group, following the sargent.

“Twenty minutes,” Stevens announced as they hit the door. “Hold up, Simpson.”

She stopped, waiting for him to speak.

“You’ve got a lot on the ball, Simpson. Most of these folks can’t find they damn ass with both hands and a flashlight. You stick with me, you’ll get that promotion in record time. You copy?”

“I hope so, Sargent.”

Flashing a seductive smirk, she strutted into the mess hall, swinging her hips for his benefit. Once more, his booming laugh followed her inside. She ate as far from the other recruits as possible, ignoring most attempts to make friends. One other off-world recruit joined her. The tag above his pocket said, “Hershey.”

“Hey, Simpson. Mind if I sit here? I don’t think I can stand another minute of that crew.”

“Sure, Hershey.” She smiled at the tall, dark haired, olive skinned man.

Hershey was slender of build, wiry muscle. He moved more like a dancer than a soldier.

“I know why I’m here,” Lill grinned at him. “What brings you here? You aren’t like the others.”

“I’m a dancer by profession – was,” he amended. “I got caught after curfew in a compromising position. Apparently they take such things seriously on Wercha.”

“You lady didn’t like what she ended up with?”

“Not exactly. The man I was with seemed perfectly happy. It was his wife who found our antics objectionable.”

“Oh!” Lill choked, trying not to spew crumbs as she laughed. “I’m sorry. Honest, I don’t have a problem with that. Didn’t know he was married?”

Hershey shrugged. “Subject didn’t come up.”

“You could have invited her to join you.”

“That’s what got her riled. And the fact I’m prettier than she is. Most native Wercha females aren’t what you’d call attractive.” He winked, dark eyes dancing with mirth. His face clouded suddenly. “The judge said I was a sexual predator and would have thrown me to the perverts in the prison if my lawyer hadn’t appealed, rather desperately, on my behalf.”

“You were lucky.”

“I suppose. I’m here for life. No chance of redemption. You?”

“Four years for loitering.”

“There ought to be a warning beacon on that planet. I don’t know why there isn’t.”

“They probably tried and got arrested for something.”

Both tried to laugh, but it wasn’t easy under the circumstances.

They finished their meals in silence. Walking back to the barracks, their compatriots walked in pairs, planning to meet after lights out. Lill and Hershey walked together, huddling against the moist chill of the wind.

“If I’ve got to listen to a night of these buggers porking I might be ill,” Hershey looked disgusted. “Mind if I move down by you?”

“I’d love your company. I don’t suppose you like girls, do you?”

He grinned, cocking his head to one side. “I don’t know, I never tried girls. But I’m willing to make an exception if it means we can have some fun and ignore the others.”

Call Me Lill – Part 1

This short story is a spin-off from my sci-fi series. Book one, Lone Wolf, is currently available from Second Wind. In the novel, Wil, the main character, reveals a little bit about his past. The character of Lill is introduced. Though not in the story itself, she’s discussed and is of major importance. I felt it was important to explore her and her past,how she met Wil, etc. Call Me Lill does just that.

Lillian Simpson hefted her duffel bag over her shoulder, wondering again at the perversity of Fate. Who knew that loitering was a crime punishable by imprisonment on Wercha? It was such a backwater planet in the middle of Vandaran space, it hadn’t occurred to her to worry about it. However, she’d been arrested, tried, prosecuted and convicted in record time: four hours and forty-two minutes. At her sentencing, two minutes after her conviction, she was given the choice; go to prison or go into the Galactic Marines.

Ironic, since her entire life had been on the run in one way or another – from anything and everything. First her drunken, abusive step-father, then a string of the worst boyfriends ever. Most recently from an press gang who had been trying to force her to join the military. Ironic.

Carrying the duffel that was damn near as big as she was, she stumbled to her new quarters. She was surrounded by her fellow recruits, all volunteered rather than doing jail time. Amidst the dregs of humanity, she carried herself aloof. Smarter, faster, more agile, she knew she would excel. Even if she was forced to join the military in the anus of the universe, she would do her best.

Finding a bunk was easy. She took the one furthest from the others. As the room was less than half full, she was able to stake her claim and keep others at bay. One glare from those cold, blue eyes was enough to discourage even the most persistent. No attempt was made to separate men and women, a fact that made the other recruits complain. Even the shower and latrines were co-ed. The complaints continued until the sargent came in, calling for attention.

Lill ran to the end of her bunk, taking the proper posture. She knew the drill even if the others hadn’t learned it yet. Surprise ringed the officer’s features, but he said nothing until he got down to her end. The others stood huddled together closer to the door.

“Any particular reason you’re down here, Marine?”

“Yes, Sargent. May I speak freely, Sargent?”

“Go ahead. But if I don’t like what you’ve got to say, you drop and give me fifty.”

Nodding, she lowered her voice. “I don’t feel particularly comfortable with the others. They’re mostly Wercha natives. I’m off-world.”

“You think you’re better than them, Marine?”

Lill met his penetrating dark eyes with her pale ones. He loomed over her, dwarfing her with his greater height and massive, muscular body.

She replied honestly, “Yes, Sargent, I do.”

His laughter boomed out, echoing in the barren, concrete barracks. “Good answer, half-pint.”

“Does that mean I can stay down here?”

“I got no objection. Keep in mind, we got others coming in soon. Not all from Wercha. Asshole of a planet. Whole place stinks like last week’s dirty socks.”

Lill wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, another reason I want to be down here.”

The sargent leaned over, sniffing next to Lill. He smelled great.

“You smell pretty damn good, Recruit,” he murmured, glancing over his shoulder. “Too bad they got rules against fraternization.”

“I guess I’ll just have to get myself promoted.” Her bright blue eyes twinkled as she tossed her short, curly red hair.

His laugh boomed again, tapping her knuckles where no one else could see. “Oorah,” rumbled deep in his chest. “See you at chow, Private Simpson.”

Turning away from her, he bellowed at the others. “Chow in twenty minutes. Stow your gear, make your bunks. Report to Private Simpson when you’re finished. Simpson!”

“Sargent!”

“Here is the list of assignments. Go by the numbers. Inspect everything before making assignments. I want it perfect.”

“Yes, Sargent!”