Was the bachelorette/hen party/mostly-drunken cavorting fun? You bet, I had a great time with my sister and her friends in Chicago. That part was smooth sailing. It was when we got back to Bloomington that things got rough.
I've been sleeping on couches for the past four nights, usually not a problem for me, but my sister and her fiance are doctors on opposite schedules this month. He's working 1 pm to 1 am, whereas she gets up at 5 am to get to work at 7 and comes home around 6. Crazy, crazy schedules, they only see each other between 1 am and whenever she falls back asleep. Sleeping on the couch means I hear him arrive at 1, hear her alarm at 5, and then sleep until whenever he gets up so I can be sociable. How do doctors in training do this? How? How do you do it? My mind is blown, I don't know how my sister stays sane.
My flights on Monday were cancelled in favor of very early Tuesday am flights, and now I am home and it's snowing and so cold. Bitch bitch, moan moan moan, wah, woe is me, I know. I spent all weekend partying, I'm going to be karma's bitch for a while.
In the spirit of being karma's bitch and having flight difficulties, I have a new release coming out tomorrow! Less Than Three Press is publishing the anthology Missed Connections, which features my story Evergreen. It's about two soldier-scientists who fall in love while preparing for a one-way mission to Mars, and what happens after one of them has an accident that ends his chances to go along.
It sounds kind of sad, I know, but I swear it has a happy ending! God, you know me, what else could I do? Plus, the anthology was reviewed at Joyfully Jay and my story got some lovely remarks. I could give you the link, but I'd rather just post it right here:
Cyril and Scottie fell in love while preparing for a risky mission to Mars, but when a horrific accident incapacitates Cyril and lands him in a coma for six months, it appears that all is lost. Once awake, and disqualified from the program, Cyril takes over the family business from his estranged father in an attempt to get over the loss of Scottie who is still bound for Mars.
This was truly a great story set in the not too distant future and was long enough to allow significant character growth and a complex plot. The heartbreak experienced by Cyril and Scottie was palpable and it was a good idea to not set the story too far in the future, which kept the need for technological detail to a minimum, keeping the story clean and focussed on these two incredible guys.
So, if you're into anthologies or at least into my science fiction, you might give this one a try. I'll give you a nice, juicy excerpt and basically make this the longest post ever that doesn't include a new blog story post (which I will either do Thursday, or make extra, extra long for Tuesday. I'm sorry! It just wasn't going to happen today!).
Before initiating your High Altitude Low Opening jump, check to make sure all HALO suit systems are greenlit and fully operational. Some problems don't manifest unless you've already begun your descent, so it's important to have a good working knowledge of your emergency options should a problem occur. Always jump with a buddy, so that in case of personal incapacitation he or she can assist you with your descent. Remember, you aren't allowed to jump without signing the most recent version of the liability waiver: see Section 7.e. –ISA Project Evergreen Handbook
It took an hour long flight to get a hundred thousand feet into the stratosphere, even though they didn't have to do it with balloons anymore. Cyril and Scottie sat across from each other in the belly of the plane, trying not to grin. Every jolt knocked their feet together, and every touch just made Cyril smile harder until Rodriguez finally grunted, "Y'all need to stop playing footsie, I think I'm gonna be sick."
"You're just jealous that no one wants anything to do with your hideous size fourteens, mate," Scottie said loftily. Rodriguez wasn't a particular friend of anyone in the squad's. He was a brilliant mathematician, a by-the-books soldier and a champion of regulations, but he wasn't about to rat them out. Everyone knew that the two of them were, for all intents and purposes, together, but like with Mona and Leon, they covered for them.
"If you two make me puke before my last jump, we'll be having words down below."
"Words." Xiao snorted. "Do you remember the old game Words With Friends? Rodriguez plays Words With Fists."
"If you think there's any chance I wouldn't run the moment you got within arm's length of me, Roddie, you just don't know me at all," Scottie said lightly. "I've seen you fight, Lieutenant Golden Gloves. Lucky for me you can't sprint for shit."
"Lucky for me, actually," Cyril said. "I'm the best runner here, I think I'd be safest."
"You wouldn't throw yourself in his path to save me from his vile deprecations?" Scottie asked in mock offense. "I'm hurt, luv."
"But I wouldn't be," Cyril pointed out, and Xiao laughed.
"Jesus Christ. You two aren't worth the aggravation," Rodriguez said. Their altimeters beeped simultaneously to let them know they were at height. "Finally. I'm jumping first, before I contract diabetes."
"Jealousy is an ugly emotion, mate," Scottie advised as he closed his facemask and activated his oxygen tank. They breathed pure oxygen in the plane on the way up, to purge the nitrogen from their blood and keep them from getting decompression sickness during the fall, but it was just as important to keep their air pure during the fall itself so they didn't go hypoxic. The rest of them followed suit, then unstrapped themselves from the wall and heaved themselves to their feet.
The pilot checked to make sure they were all ready, then opened the fallout door. Rodriguez jumped without a word, falling into the glowing blue tableau that was their horizon from a hundred thousand feet above the ground. Xiao followed with a quick, "See you at the bottom."
Scottie reached out and tapped a gloved hand against Cyril's facemask. "Shall we, Cy?"
"Less talking, more doing," Cyril said, and he let himself fall out of the plane.
This was Cyril's favorite part, being so high up that he could see the horizon between the blackness of space and the blue of the earth's atmosphere. It almost wasn't like falling, since there was no perspective to judge distance with, just an altimeter that beeped a quiet, steady pace in his ear as he dropped. It was calming, relaxing … almost too relaxing. Cyril felt a bit strange, almost groggy. By the time he realized that something was wrong, it was already too late to do anything about it other than relay the information.
"I'm seeing spots," Cyril said grimly. The dive should take around eleven minutes total, but Cyril could already tell he wasn't going to last that long.
"Deep breaths," Scottie said instantly. "Take deep breaths, you can recover from this."
"Not so sure about that," Cyril replied. Points of black and bright white swam in front of his vision.
"The air … I think my mix must be … "
"The mix is checked before getting loaded into the suit's tanks." Scottie paused for a moment. "Your tank must be compromised."
"I have to deploy."
"You can't deploy this high up, Cy." Scottie's voice was serious. "The winds are too strong, your chute won't last. I'm coming to you, okay? I'll help you deploy when we're closer to the ground."
"No, I … " Why was it so hard to breathe? "I have to do it now." He needed his chute, he needed to pop it before he blacked out. Cyril's hand hovered over the cord.
"Don't you fucking pull that line, Konstantin!" Scottie shouted. "I'm coming your way, I'm close, and I will take care of this. Don't you dare pop your chute right now."
"I'm slowing myself down," Rodriguez—was that Rodriguez? Cyril couldn't really tell anymore—said over the comms. "I'll stabilize him, you can help him deploy when we're low enough."
"I have to do't now," Cyril slurred, but he couldn't seem to coordinate his hands. It looked like nightdown on the earth, his vision was so black. A curtain closed over his eyes, and the last thing Cyril knew was his body starting a fast, violent spin, and Scottie yelling, "Shit!"