Tag Archive | Gone But Not Forgotten

Gone But Not Forgotten – Conclusion

As the weeks passed, Matilda’s body healed, but her soul was hollow. She was released from the clinic to new quarters she was sharing with Jane.

“Commander Torry wants to see you in his office, Matilda,” Jane told her.
Curious, but barely interested, Matilda walked slowly over to the base commander’s office. Commander Fred Torry was a tall man and rather heavy set with steel gray hair and eyes. He stood when she entered, coming around to where she was standing, leaning heavily on her cane.

“Please sit down, Foreman DuLac. No sense keeping you on your feet. However, I wanted to tell you the news personally.”

“What news?”

He handed her a square black box hinged in gold. Inside was a medal. “For Valor and Duty,” was embossed on the edge. Inside were the insignia of a base superintendent, a substantial promotion for her.

“We are very proud of you, Superintendent DuLac.” He leaned forward and shook her hand, then helped her pin on her new insignia.

“Thank you, sir,” she said softly, hardly knowing what else to say.
Rising with care, she hobbled out of the office and back to her room. After digging around in her drawers, she put something small in her pocket and left again. Jane and Mike followed her to the pit which had once been the south end of the mine.

Security officers tried to stop her, but the determined look on her face quelled any protests. Jane and Mike caught up with her at the very edge of the pit.

Without a word, she took the box with her medal and flung it away from her. Watching it fall, she drew a small object from her jacket pocket, kissed it and threw it down as well. The meager, gray light of the weak sun, caught in the deep blue facets of her engagement ring as it turned over and over, falling in slow motion.

“I loved you, Bobby,” she whispered. “Goodbye.”

Without another word, or backward glance, she walked slowly back to her room, where she lay down and tried to forget.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Part 16

I haven’t felt much like posting all 3 sections, but am posting this section here for people to read.  Next week, I will post the last 2 sections. 

In the last episode, Matilda was leading her crew on a solo dive in the mine. Though her supervisor had said he would be with her, he surprised her at the last minute. Neither of them could have anticipated what happened next, an explosion in the mine.

The next ladder had fallen out of the wall and the safety ring wasn’t terribly secure, but their lines were not long enough to reach the ladder at the next intersection.

“Tie off, reverse numbers,” Matilda said automatically. Jane clicked on first.

“Wait!” Stella yelled. “I’m ten!”

“I’m ten now, you’re three. Shut up and wait your turn.”

Stella was in a panic and shoved Jane aside. Both women lost their footing and fell. The floor, already unstable, collapsed. Jane dangled from her rope, but Stella’s was not yet attached. Screaming, she flailed around trying to attach her line, but it fell out of her grasp. James lunged for her, forgetting he and Bobby were roped together. The floor could not take their combined weight and crumbled.

Stella fell, her face a mask of fear and panic. Her line snaked down behind her. She never made a sound. James and Bobby dangled by the line as the others scrambled to help them back up.

The safety ring groaned as they swung over the pit, bending in its concrete block. James hung still, watching where Stella had fallen, but Bobby, dangling beneath him, was desperately trying to take the hands of the others who had lain down to distribute their weight around the hole.

The two strongest men were on the edge of the hole as the rest of the team moved off down the other tunnel to reach the ladder. Matilda pulled up Jane and together they held the men’s belts.

“Call base,” Jane grunted.

“Base, this is 4-6-2.” No answer. “Base, this is 4-6-2, do you copy?” Static.

“4-6-2,” the speaker crackled loudly. “…position? Ladders collapsed… to ladder seven.”

“We are at ladder seven, Base. Floor is collapsing. One member down, two in trouble!”

“Say again, 4-6-2.”

She repeated herself more slowly.

“Cannot get to you, 4-6-2, you’re on your own.”

The floor was cracking where the two men were lying, trying to bring Bobby and James up. James still hung limply, but Bobby struggled to reach the men above.

“James! Help me!”

“She’s gone,” he stared wide eyed, unable to focus on anything else. His hand moved slowly toward the release button on his belt. “I’ve got to find her, help her.”

Bobby saw the direction of his hand. “James, no!”

He yelled, fighting to reach safety, pounding James with his fist in a desperate attempt to break his trance.

The floor gave more, causing the men at the lip of the hole to falter and slide back just as Bobby’s hand brushed the air where they had been. A look of anguish crossed his face as he looked up at Matilda one last time.

“I love you,” he whispered as James’ hand reached the release button, sending them both to oblivion.

“NO!” Matilda screamed, throwing herself toward the hole.

Both men and Jane had to drag her away as the floor continued to fall inward. The entire center of the room was gone and deep rumbling warned of further cave in.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Part 15

They were scheduled to go deeper in the mines than they had ever been thus far and the entire team was apprehensive. Matilda was not supposed to be in charge, but was told by her trainer that she would lead the team in. He would provide back up in case of an emergency. Matilda tried very hard not to panic as she went through the sequence of regulations pertaining to deep drops.

All of them were issued safety lines. These were attached to titanium rings set in concrete blocks, anchored to the rock at the top of the shaft. Each miner was equipped with climbing gear and a comunit so even if they got lost, they could be tracked.

Parisium was too primitive a base to have elevators in the shafts. It was just as well, for the power went out regularly and the generators were not strong enough to raise a cage. The ladders were sturdy and firmly attached to the side of the shaft. The stone was very soft, so the walls had to be constantly hewn and the ladders re-secured.

Bobby went down first, Matilda followed and the rest of the team came down in pairs. At the bottom, they stood in a tight group, the lights on their helmets the only illumination. It was cold down here, far more than any of them had anticipated. An involuntary shiver took them all by surprise before the monitors on their stasuits clicked on the thermals.

“Oh, I have to contact base,” Matilda remembered suddenly.

Soon, she hoped, this would become automatic. New duties were always hard to get used to. A quick report of their position and condition of her miners and they were told to release their safety lines and tie off at the ring for the next level down.

Their lines could be released by a remote button on their belts. The ropes wound up automatically, but if the hooks fell on anyone from fifty feet above, it would be her responsibility.

“Stand back from the shaft and release by the numbers,” she ordered.

One by one, the miners released their lines. Each had been assigned a number from one to ten and they released in that order. When all of them were free, they reconnected in reverse order from ten to one.

Matilda, who was last to connect, was responsible for seeing each of them secured properly. If they weren’t, she had to instruct them to reconnect. Each rope was emblazoned with a team number and when she checked, Bobby’s line was twisted and kinked, impeding Jane’s rope.

“Numbers three and four, reconnect reverse numbers,” meaning Bobby first, then Jane.

“You could use our names, Number One,” Jane said haughtily.

“Give it a rest, Number Three. She’s doing it by the regs. Just disconnect and hook up again so we don’t stand here all day,” James fussed at her.

Sulkily, Jane disconnected her line, found an empty spot and reattached. Bobby was working the kinks out of his line when they felt a tremor. It was powerful enough for them to lose their footing. Bobby’s line was being stubborn, the latch would not release for him to connect to the loop.

“Three, Bobby, secure!” Matilda felt panic rising in her, but she fought it down. “Base, this is unit 4-6-2, experiencing tremors in sector four!”

Crackling static. “Hold position, 4-6-2. Area below is unstable.”

“Bobby, get your line,” James urged.

“It won’t release, I can’t get it!”

“We’ll double on mine,” James suggested. “They are rated for four hundred pounds. You don’t weigh over two hundred and neither do I.”

“Tilda?” They needed her decision, it was her job.

“Do it, James. Bobby, keep trying to hook up.”

A sharp nod and both young men worked furiously to secure James’ rope to Bobby as well. Another tremor shook them and several of the members fell to their knees. They heard debris fall down the ladder, blocking their ascent.

“Base, this is 4-6-2, the shaft is blocked. Do we continue down?” Static.

“Hold… Unstable… hold pos-….”

“We can’t stay here,” Matilda decided. “I don’t care what they say, we have to move.”

“You heard Base,” Jane objected. “They said hold.”

“They said something, but what? They could have said do not hold,” James argued.

“The ladder is blocked, the floor could give way any second. I’ll make this democratic. Hold or move?”

Another tremor shook them and part of the ladder fell loose from the wall. A unanimous “Move!” and the all tried to go in different directions at once.

“Stop!” Bobby bellowed. “What do we do, Tilda?”

“We’ve got to get to another ladder and hope we can get back up. These passages go in a grid. Next ladder is one click north. Follow by the numbers.”

“I don’t want to be last!” Stella wailed.

“Don’t be a baby,” Jane growled. “If it makes you feel better, I’ll go last and you come up by James.”

They traded spots. Matilda nodded a silent thank you. It was the first time Jane had shown any team spirit.

Part of the wall in the tunnel had collapsed, but it was passable. They struggled through in an organized manner. The next ladder was blocked too, but they re-secured their lines quickly and started down the next passage. Bobby’s line still refused to open, so he and James remained roped together.

Gone But Not Forgotten – Part 10

Months passed and the Trimagnite pocket was capped and harvesting began. True to his word, Wil had told Orion to split the profit. Everyone from the supervisors down to the lowliest Miner One got an equal share.

Wil appeared very little, and when he did arrive, it was always a turn around trip. More often than not, he would even politely refuse a dinner invitation. When Ed finally approached him, he came up with a lame excuse about not wanting to intrude. It was nonsense and they both knew it, but after seeing the agonized look in Wil’s eyes, Ed did not pursue it. Whatever demon Wil was fighting, Ed wouldn’t put him in an uncompromising position.

“The invitation is always there, my friend.”

“Thanks, Ed. That means a lot to me.”

After several such conversations, Ed was determined to get to the bottom of it. Wil had made half a dozen different excuses and Ed knew they were all bogus. He decided not to take another one for an answer.

“The girls are asking to see you, Wil. Mary made your favorite, chicken and ham pie with all the trappings.”

“I’d be imposing, Ed. I don’t want to intrude.”

“Since when does family impose? Look, Wil, whatever is troubling you, let’s talk about it. We can work through this together.”

“Thanks, Ed, but it’s just not that easy.” How could he say to this man, “I’m in love with your daughter”? Clearly, he could not. Ed would never understand.

It’s Amie’s birthday, Wil. She’s your goddaughter, you can’t miss it.”

No, he couldn’t, he had not forgotten the obligation.

“I’ll be there, Ed. I”m sorry, I’ve had a lot that I’ve been dealing with. Tell Mary and the girls I’ll be there.”

“Party starts at 1900, don’t be late,” Ed said quietly, walking away.

Something was strained between them and Ed desperately wanted to find out what so they could discuss it. In Ed’s mind, no problem was without a solution, you just had to look harder for some than others.

Wil showed up for Amie’s party with an outrageously large stuffed toy for her, new chronograph for each of the other girls, a pearl necklace for Mary and a bottle of Morwellian brandy for Ed as a peace offering. He knew he had deeply offended this hard headed, generous man, but his emotions were in turmoil. Never having been very good at dealing with his feelings, he tended to avoid awkward situations, hoping they would go away. Unfortunately, they rarely did.

After the party, to which Bobby had also been invited, Ed and Wil sat down to open the bottle. Wil ceremoniously broke the century old wax over the cork and poured their drinks into two of the tiny glasses which came with each bottle. Morwellian brandy was incredibly potent and was carefully consumed.

Ed made a toast to Mary and the girls, which Wil joined self-consciously. Ed eyed his friend a long time, setting his glass down with a click.

“Something on your mind, Wil? My granddaddy used to say someone was as skittish as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

Wil forced a grin. “Sorry, Ed. I’m just afraid I if I really tell you the truth, you’ll never allow me back here.”

Ed’s brow furrowed deeply. “This sounds serious, Wil.”

Wil was thinking it was even more serious than Ed knew, but he had to say something now, before losing his nerve.

“I love her, Ed,” he mumbled.

Ed stiffened. “You’re telling me you’ve been avoiding us because you are in love with my wife?”

He rose from his chair, pointing at the door. His face was going red and his hand shook. Wil vaulted upward, calming hands on Ed’s shoulders.

“No! No, it’s not Mary I love, Ed. It’s Matilda… I’m in love with Matilda.”

Where it had been red with fury, now Ed’s countenance went stark white. His breath came in sharp gasps, like a fish out of water. Clasping his hand on his chest, his knees gave out and he collapsed in the chair.

“Swear to me, Wil, nothing ever….”

“On my honor, Ed, I swear! She’s like my own daughter!” He ran work hardened fingers through his dark hair, setting it on end. His eyes held the wildness of a mad man who’s been trapped by circumstances. He turned anguished eyes on Ed’s pale face.

“Nothing has ever happened between us. But I couldn’t… this is ripping me apart, Ed. I’ve never loved anyone the way I do her. It’s like someone tore my heart from my chest and cut out my lungs!”

Ed said nothing for a long time. Wil sat opposite him, leaning forward with elbows on knees, clasped hands seeming to beg for forgiveness, dark head bowed as if in prayer.

“Wil, soon this won’t even matter. Saltulle is all played out, there’s nothing left. Even the Trimagnite is gone, every drop. We’ll be leaving in a few weeks. Mary and I are going to Solaris and Matilda’s stationed somewhere else. Don’t try to find her, let her go. If you love her and if you have ever respected me, you’ll let her go.”

Wil’s heart sank to his feet. He gulped painfully, his heart seeming to rise in his throat. “I promise, Ed. I promise to try to forget her, but one day we’ll find one another again and for my sake I hope it’s soon. A man can’t live forever without his heart.”

He rose silently, placing a steady, comforting hand on Ed’s shoulder as he walked toward the door. Without looking back, he walked past the shed where the new, black floater cycle was stored. He wanted to leave a note, tell her how he felt, but knew Ed would never forgive him if he did. Instead, he headed to the space port and boarded his ship alone.

Gone But Not Forgotten – part 4

In our last episode, Matilda had found something strange in her travels as a log runner for the Guild.  Her father said it was Trimagnite, a dangerous and deadly, liquid ore used by the Navigation Guild as fuel.  To carry the message back to the Guild HQ, they enlist the help of Wil VanLipsig, The Lone Wolf.

They walked in silence once more and Bobby reached out, twining his fingers with hers. A couple houses down from hers, they stopped to kiss again and he felt he never wanted to let her go. Her mother saw them from the front window and called her inside.

“Night, Bobby. See you tomorrow.”

“See ya.” He grinned sheepishly, snuggling his ears into the collar of his jump suit. Nights on Saltulle were chilly.

Light streamed from the back door as her little sisters opened it and rushed out surrounding her, bombarding her with questions.

“Who was that?” Amie started.

“How was work?” Brigette countered.

“So, who is he?”

“Did you have a good day?”

“His name is Bobby, work was fine.”

“Do you like him? Did he kiss you?” Brigette changed subjects once her question had been answered.

“Are you gonna date him?” They leapt around her in circles, their hands joined as if playing Ring Around the Rosy. “Tilda’s got a boyfriend, Tilda’s got a boyfriend!”

“Oh, hush, you two!” She shoved them vehemently apart, charging for the back door.

Rushing headlong, blindly trying to get away from her sisters and sort out her emotions, she barreled into a solid, male body which was far too large for her father. Stopping suddenly, she glanced up into the dark, imposing eye of Uncle Wil. She reddened to the roots of her hair as she tried to duck around him.

Wil dodged left and right countering her movements playfully. Laughing happily, he finally relented, picking her up and setting her down on the other side of the kitchen near the door to her bedroom.

“Good to see you, birthday girl.” He chuckled deep in his chest.

Matilda had seen people shy away from this large, sternly imposing man, but to her he was comforting, warm and genuine.  Uncle Wil was as much a part of their lives as the grass, trees and mines.

“Happy Birthday, Tilda,” he said quietly, his penetrating dark orb riveted on hers.

As a child she had been fascinated with that eye patch and his deep, jagged scar. Now she hardly noticed them.

“Not until tomorrow,” she replied timidly.

“Well, I’m not going to be here tomorrow, honey.”

“You promised!” Amie yelled, always minding everyone’s business but her own.

“I know, smidgeon, but Uncle Wil has to got called away on important business. I’ll be here tonight, then I have to leave tomorrow.”

He tossed Amie high in the air, catching her with ease as she giggled and shook her golden curls.

“Me next,” Brigette demanded.

Wil caught Amie, swinging her down to the floor. She hung from his forearm like a trapeze. “Fuss budget, you’re getting too tall. I’d break your mother’s furniture and she’d break my b…”

“Wil!” Mary interrupted dangerously.

“Behind,” he finished with an impish wink.

“Dinner!” Mary announced, deflecting further conflict. “Girls, wash. Men, wash too, I know how you two are.”

“Aw, Mary, you take all the fun out of digging in the dirt,” Ed laughed, kissing her cheek.

“Don’t try to bribe me with kisses, you reprobate! I know you love your digs more than me.”

He popped her on the fanny as she went to the stove, then dutifully washed his hands. Conversation at dinner was minimal until dessert. Over coffee and pie, Wil and Ed lit a couple of aromatic cheroots and talked shop until time for the girls to go to bed. Amie went down first, then Brigette. Matilda begged to be allowed to stay up.

“After all, tomorrow is my birthday and I’m practically an adult!”

Wil glanced at her, head to one side, then exchanged a look with her father.

“She has a point,” Ed added, interrupting his wife’s protests.

“This conversation kind of includes her, Mary,” Wil said firmly.

Mary threw up her hands in submission. “Don’t stay up late,” she scolded her daughter. “And you two, clean up after yourselves!” She stalked from the room calling over her shoulder, “Goodnight!”

Part 5 http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

Gone But Not Forgotten – part 2

This short story is a spin-off from my sci-fi series.  The first book, “The Lone Wolf” is coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.  I’ve taken two of the main characters and written a story explaining something of their background.  Part 1 is posted at http://writersanctuary.blogspot.com/

Wil VanLipsig is a genetically enhanced former Marine.  He is much older than he looks.  He still works with the military on a contractual basis, taking their dirtiest black ops.  He’s a mercenary, assassin, covert operative… and a lonely man with very few friends.

It took about thirty minutes for Matilda to complete her survey and log the numbers. The base was below quota by about twenty percent. Part of her duty was to interview the superintendent and mine leader to determine cause.

“To be honest, Log Runner DuLac, the site is damn near played out.” The superintendent, a man named Murdock, handed her a small hand held device which showed the most recent scans of the mining site.

Part of Matilda’s training over the last six weeks had been familiarizing her with site scans. Even to her meagerly trained eye, something was out of place.

“What’s this?”  She pointed to an erratic peak in the scan. It was dark purple, jagged and taller than all the rest.

Murdock leaned over her shoulder, looking at the scan.  “I don’t know, never saw anything like it before.”

“Mind if I have a copy of this? Might help out at main base so you don’t get hammered on the low productivity.”

Murdock smiled and copied the files to her log. It wasn’t her job to condemn or judge his people. All she did was record the information and take it back for some bureaucrat to peruse, categorize and file. The twenty percent drop could hurt, miners had lost their ranks for less. Since he didn’t particularly want to be busted down to Miner One, he was grateful to Matilda for taking the initiative to add his file to her log, as he was not in a position to ask her.

She left soon after and headed for the next mine base. Her path took her past the same spot where she had her odd feeling, but it did not return. The rest of the day was fairly routine. Mine Base Five had increased production by five percent. Base Seven had a flooded lower level and had to shut down. Base Four had experienced a beast attack. All her information was tallied automatically, all she had to do was head back home after her collections were complete.

Her father met her at the floater cycle dock with a hot cup of joe liberally sugared and nearly white with milk. She still wasn’t used to the drink miners used to remain alert. It was rather like coffee or chicory, but the resemblance was slim and not terribly pleasant. Joe beat synth-stims, an illegal and dangerously addictive drug some miners used to increase production. It worked well for awhile until the body literally fell to dust.

“Hi, baby girl, how was your day?”

Matilda’s lopsided grin mirrored his own. “Not bad, Daddy. I want to show you something from Base One, though.”

She pulled out the scan, handing it to him. He read it carefully as she unloaded and secured her floater cycle.

“You say this is from One?”

She nodded distractedly, trying to fasten the last hook in place.

“When was it taken?”

“Dunno, Murdock didn’t say, just it was recent. Why?”

“Anything odd there? Anyone sick?”

“No, Daddy, everything was fine, production had just dropped a little. I thought maybe it would help them with Uncle Mac if they sent in the scan.”

Ed was frowning, pinching his lower lip with his thumb and index finger as he concentrated.

“Will it help? I hate to see anyone busted for poor production.” She waited for an answer but did not get one. Her father took the scan to MacHale’s office, shutting the door with a snap.

Everyone in the loading area watched in stunned silence. They all knew Ed could be very single minded when he wanted, but no one had ever seen him like this, especially his daughter.

Not knowing what else to do, she took her cup of joe and sat in the lounge area while the shifts changed. With a start, she realized she had to report to the Log Keeper before going off shift. A glance at her chronograph showed her she had plenty of time. Grabbing her logs, she started on her way to the keeper’s office when MacHale called her name.

“Miner One DuLac, my office.” She looked helplessly at her logs. Her father, seeing her predicament, beckoned to another miner to take them from her. A handsome, blond haired young man walked forward, taking the logs.

“No worries, Tilda,” the young man said. “I’ll take care of these for you. If Mac wants you, best hop to.” He winked.

“Thanks, Bobby,” she smiled nervously and started toward the office.

Bobby followed her with his eyes, amazed at how confidently she moved. She had no clue the effect she had on him. A year younger than he, they had grown up together. He had worshiped her most of his life.

“Thomason,” the log keeper yelled at him, apparently having said his name more than once. “Come here, numb nuts, I want to get home on time for once!”

Sighing heavily, Bobby wandered into the office, shuffling reluctantly to the desk, where he set down the logs. The keeper gave him a scathing and penetrating look, then caught Bobby’s expression.

“The DuLac girl?” Bobby blushed, suddenly finding his toes very interesting. “She’s gonna be a hell of a looker just like her mama, mark my words. I had an eye for Mary once, wouldn’t even give me the time of day once Ed showed up.”

Bobby shoved the logs across the keeper’s long desk and left the room. He found some pointless task to keep himself busy outside Mac’s office, so he would still be there when Matilda walked out.

Part 3 is at: http://www.myspace.com/dellanioakes

 copyright Dellani Oakes 2008