Today I wrote an odd, contemporary SF story. It starting trying to be very long, so I cut it off, gave it a creepy ending, and said good enough. When I rewrite I’ll probably cut the creepy ending and do something different, but it’s done for now. 2893 words. The prompts (from Seventh Sanctum again) were: “The story ends in an alley. The story takes place at midnight exactly. During the story, someone gets away with a crime. The story must have a maid involved in the middle. A character will do laundry.” So, I actually used all these, although rather in a different way. An alley was in there, but not at the end. It started at midnight. The crime was there, and the laundry was an important part of the story. The maid part made me decide that my character was a “wench” working for a Renaissance Faire.
The story would have been done much sooner, but I got seriously sidetracked watching NASA TV on my computer. How interesting to see the astronauts get ready and climb into the shuttle. Network TV doesn’t show all the prep, that’s why I decided to watch NASA’s channel. A few hours later, I got to watch everything pull away from the shuttle, and then the launch itself! Glorious! So sad to think this is the next-to-last shuttle launch scheduled. I’ve watched space flights on TV ever since Alan Shepard’s liftoff in 1961.
So, the excerpt for today:
Leaving the washer going, she ran back up the stairs to pull her dinner from the microwave. Food prices at the Faire were ridiculous, even with an employee discount. She grabbed a plastic fork from the dish drainer, and carried her food down to the laundry room so she could put her clothing in the dryer the instant the washer was done. She’d not get enough sleep tonight anyway.
The laundry room door was open, even though Summer was certain she’d closed it. She nearly fell when her flip flop slipped on a wet, soapy puddle on the concrete floor. She set her microwave dinner on the folding table. The washing machine where she’d left her clothing was open, which of course stopped it from running. She looked in, wondering who’d been down here in the minute since she left, and found that the washing machine held soapy water–and nothing else. Her Renaissance Faire costume, the only one she owned, was gone.
“What the hell!” she cursed under her breath. She turned quickly, staring at the wet patch of concrete. Whoever had grabbed her clothing had left a trail of drips. She had only to follow.
Out of the laundry room, across the complex’s parking lot, the wet splashes dark spots on the well-lit asphalt. Onto a sidewalk leading toward the street. It was darker on the street, the closest streetlight halfway down the block, but there was enough light that she could still see the dark splotches on the concrete.
The drips on the sidewalk stopped before she got to the street corner. She backtracked, and saw the drip line led into an alley between two office buildings. She peered in. She suddenly realized that she was alone at night, wearing shorts and flip flops, and with nothing in her pockets for any kind of weapon but her cell phone. This wasn’t a bad part of town, but since someone had stolen her clothing right out of the washer, she had to assume they were desperate. Somehow, though, the mental picture of a homeless person wearing her poofy blouse and tight, low-cut bodice didn’t make her smile.
A dumpster blocked her view deeper into the alley. She wrinkled her nose at the smell as she hugged its side and peered into the blackness beyond. Motion–something light colored moving, not too far past the dumpster. She wasn’t sure she wanted to see what they were doing. What if it was some pervert with a ‘thing’ for dirty laundry? Wet, soapy laundry anyway.
She crouched down and moved slowly around the dumpster. Her eyes were fairly well adjusted to the dark, and she could see dark blobs on the ground–garbage, probably. She’d pick something up to use as a possible weapon if she didn’t think it would turn out to be a beer can or banana peel.
Maybe she could throw something, scare the person. Would they drop her clothing, or run with it? She was tall–5’11″–but she knew no self defense. If they attacked her, then what? Was her costume worth that?
Well, without the costume, she had no job. She’d been job hunting all summer long, with no result, so this was her only income. Without her Ren Faire pay, she’d be homeless herself.