A Quick Catch Up From Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So, we don’t have a promo post.  I might have to talk to the oyster, as I think our wires got crossed somewhere.  It’s also possible he’s really busy and as you know — Bob — he’s doing this as volunteer work.  So, cutting his salary in half would be wholly ineffective.

We didn’t quite encounter the same luck flying back as flying out, as only one plane was late and ONLY 2 hours.  We’ve more or less decided next time if we don’t have money to go earlier and stay later, we’ll just go earlier and leave Friday night.  The horrible trip out left us kind of useless the entire conference, particularly since for whatever reason we didn’t sleep very well while there.

The conference was fascinating and there will be primary posts reporting on it for PJMedia (and my visit to NASA-Marshall) and several secondary order posts for here.  Yes, some might be on “what it profit a man to lose his soul if he gains space.”… particularly if the soul is lost for other reasons.  I think no one alive today who does not — like some crazy people including me — do extensive reading on the world wars fully understands those generations.  Not saying those generations were immaculate (not even the “greatest generation” an encomium the boomers think makes up for under-appreciating their parents when they were young) rather that they were harder than we — much less the generations after — can dream of being.

Right now, though, I came home to an embuggered (totally a word) automated cat box, which also led to secondary order effects (though in general they were way better than I expected) and to house keeping by medical-student-in-clinical-year, which is to say worse (far worse) than none. (I could write a book: “Places NOT to put dirty silverware/dishes.”)

So I’m going to do a lick-and-promise version of my weekly cleaning, then work on Guardian, and then write a few articles, since I missed most of a week.

And now, put your hands together for:

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: virus free

44 thoughts on “A Quick Catch Up From Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

  1. You know, Ruby and I also didn’t sleep well all week at the TVIW 2017 symposium. I don’t fault the Huntsville Embassy Suites as the hotel seemed find, but for some reason we had troubles too. But overall the symposium was wonderful and definitely something anyone seriously interested in interstellar exploration (the real thing, not SF) should consider attending. [Fair warning: I’m one of the organizers of the symposium so my views are necessarily biased in favor.]

    1. And it appears*, since our esteemed hostess does not seem to be reporting her usual round of post-event medical issues, that the venue for the symposium was virus-free. This sounds like a ringing endorsement of the Embassy Suites hotel as a lodging whenever you are visiting Huntsville, Alabama.

      * Incorporating last week’s prompt as well. 🙂

  2. Nothing is virus free. It’s been that way since the 21st Century, when computer engineers threw up their hands at the onslaught of malware and developed self adapting systems. Now, all computers are cybersystems, with their own ecology of malware and counter measures, and the occasional mutation.

    Just like me.

  3. Bob saw the sign, walked into the store and sat at the service desk.

    “Amazing claim,” he said, gesturing to the sign. “How can you deliver that in this day and age?”

    “Easily,” said the clerk, rolling up Bob’s sleeve and injecting him. “It’s a government contract. Your virus, free!”

  4. If not, come back to me. If it is affected by a thing we medics call a ‘virus’ I’ll take steps to make sure that you are freed from it. The Forest healers who taught me say it can be dangerous if not treated with one of their special potions.

  5. The spaceship, its primary through tertiary nav systems fully virus-addled, accelerated toward Lemax’s primary star instead of the planet. As Jake’s last attempt at manual override failed, he decided that there were words worse than, “I’m from the government…” Those words were, “we don’t need to bug hunt. It’s vendor certified virus free.”

  6. Violet dreaded the news that would come one day, that her disturbed brother would be released from prison. She had endured abuse, both mental and physical, from him for as long as she could remember.

    She still had the phone to her ear while the call was long disconnected. That disembodied voice echoed in her mind, “Hey Vi? Russ free.”

    Her brother Russell was coming home.

  7. Baked salmon was on the menu. Could it be virus free? Doubtful. The fissure in the ecosystem was widening. Rehabilitating the upriver habitats was a valiant effort, but a losing battle. Wild salmon, contaminated by fish farms, were dead before they spawned. She groaned. The pain in her shoulder intensified.

  8. The lab was a smoking ruin. Charred computer chassis abounded around it. Each one a pile of molten circuits and components. I just shook my head at the latest experiment by Mason. Actually it was successful in one aspect. Microsoft Windows could not operate in a virus free environment.

  9. ‘Anyway,’ she continued, ‘I have to get back to the phone.’ The grin on his face collapsed, but he remained sitting on her desk. She ignored him.

    She asked the caller, ‘So you are evacuating, you received chemo this week and need a virus free place in which to shelter?’

  10. “It translates as what?”
    The comms chief shook her head. “Sir, that’s what the translator the Treltath trader sold us is coming back with for the name on the side of that ship: ‘Virus Free.’”
    “Okay,” the captain replied slowly. “Can you get it to make another try?”
    “I can try, sir.”
    “Right. Anything more would help. Before I open any channels, I want to figure out if that’s a claim about the absence of viruses, or an offer for free transmittal of whatever their systems are infected with.”

  11. I want to throw a thought out here, brought on by several of Sarah’s posts here and on PJ.

    I think a big part of the Left’s trouble is they don’t know when to quit.

    The March of Dimes was originally created to fight Polio. When the Polio vaccines were developed, instead of clapping each-other on the back and saying “Well done, chaps, we won!” they decided that they were too wonderful to be looking for work, and shifted to Muscular Distrophy. And that worked for them, though my Mother never gave them another cent.

    The Left has done this many, many times,with many many causes, and they have run it into the ground.

    In the 1960’s there was a lot of sweet reason behind the Civil Rights movement, and a good deal in the Womens’ movement. But they kept pushing, and now we are actually looking at California making it a crime to use a pronoun that the person referred to objects to. And the main run of ordinary people are saying “What the f*ck have you been smoking, and where do I get some.”

    In the 1970’s the beginnings of the environmental movement may have been overstated, but a lot of people looked around and said “Yes, there’s a lot of pollution. We might want to do something about that.”. Now, forty years later they’ve taken it to the point that sensible folk are saying “No battery cars ain’t it, and windmills don’t cut it and they’re noisy, and aren’t you the same bunch that were screaming about a new ice age a while back? Why don’t you piss up a rope and srand under it while it dries?”

    They’ve defended Ho Chi Minh, and Pol Pot, and Fidel the Beard, and now they’re defending the Palestinians and related Islamofools. Amd each time they’ve lost some sympathy and garnered some disgust, and now they just can’t understand how anyone could POSSIBLY object to their carrying Communist flags.

    They don’t know when to f*cking quit.

    Any thoughts?

    1. 1. Defense of Islam on religious grounds could be used as precedent to defend Nazism on religious grounds.
      2. Perhaps some of the crimes of the Nazis perpetually put them beyond the pale of what a moral man can join his political cause to. I’m certainly sympathetic to that view myself. I insist on complying through a set of consistent rules, and not cherrypicking specific organizations out. The difference between Leopold, Hitler, Stalin and Mao is that I’ve never heard of a drug addled wannabe promoting the cause of Leopold decades after there was any real chance of putting such a policy in place.
      3. Yes, in fact, there were a small minority of good people in such evil organizations as the NSDAP and the communist parties. When condemnation is strongly important, noting the good people comes off as morally blind.
      4. Wait, these youngsters don’t know how to handle someone saying a false thing? How do they cope with being around the severely mentally ill?
      5. Perhaps they’ve been taught not to be able to cope, because the severely ill are useful for coming up with intellectual justifications for stuff that the left wants to pull. The madman can be very compelling in his sincerity and urgency.
      6. As an aside, I’ve noticed a nifty way to apply something from gender theory to claim that homosexuals are not human, biologically speaking. (Needless to say, as self impeaching as the the bizarre racial theories of the Left and of the Alt-Right.)
      7. California has reclassified knowingly passing on HIV to be a misdemeanor, apparently.
      8. In fairness to California, they have and had been strongly influenced by numbers of mentally ill in excess of what California would have produced on its own.
      9. I do not think that the out of state mentally ill who live in or have lived in California have necessarily been improved by the experience.
      10. Believing in what you are doing can preclude testing it. If you aren’t testing, why change techniques? We’ve always done it this way, and it has worked so far.

      1. 4. Badly
        7. I’m waiting for the Red Cross and other blood banks to decertify/refuse California-sourced blood, or at least stick a quarantine until Every Fricking Unit can be tested. Can they bill the California legislature?

        1. 4. The smart ones apply their hard earned skills of obfuscation, playing vagueness to deduce expectations, and getting out as cleanly as possible, all skills built in the hard school of “my professor is a nutjob, but I need the grade for my GPA.”

      2. “6. As an aside, I’ve noticed a nifty way to apply something from gender theory to claim that homosexuals are not human, biologically speaking. (Needless to say, as self impeaching as the the bizarre racial theories of the Left and of the Alt-Right.)”

        Do tell. Please. Such a thing would be useful to us all.

        1. There’s an idea in gender theory about the two sexes having been originally two different species. The exact biological mechanisms behind this are not well explained. Homosexuals are obviously atavistic throwbacks to the original distinct species, but whatever means of procreation those species had no longer works. So Homosexuals are sterile, and since inter-fertility is the biological definition of species…

          The counters to the evidence based refutations are the no true scotsman fallacy, and accusations of sexism and homophobia.

    2. They don’t know when to f*cking quit.

      “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” ― Eric Hoffer

  12. Ross had not been sure what to expect after such a messy forced landing. He knew the Navy held a court-martial whenever a ship was lost or seriously damaged, although it was often just a formality. However, both he and his commander were Air Force, although Drew’s brother had been Navy, and Slayton Field was run by NASA.

    The debrief was more rigorous than usual, with several senior astronauts minutely going over every detail of those last few minutes of powered descent. However, there had been no hostility, no sense that their performance had been under question. Although all those officers had been completely professional, Ross couldn’t shake a sense that they were hiding awe behind the stern mask of discipline.

    Now he and Drew could finally get themselves some lunch. At least his stomach had loosened up enough that he’d actually be able to eat it.

    “So when do you think they’ll put us back on the flight roster?”

    Drew inclined his head toward the big flat-panel monitor, currently turned to news coverage of the cyber attack on Slayton Field. “Medstaff’s cleared us, but there’s no way Flight Ops is going to send anything up until they know all the landers are virus free.”

    (This is a follow-on to my vignette of the cyber attack from Ross and Drew’s POV).

  13. So, I didn’t see the video and the prompt got me singing the song so here’s the video so you can have it stuck in your head too (you’re welcome)

  14. Something was wrong in the New England countryside. Plants, animals, were different. Not a lot, most looked the same. But when people started dying from being sprayed by skunks, that’s when we realized someone, terrorist, maybe just a basement gene tinkerer, had released a mutagenic weapon. The virus was free.

  15. Max slid the report across the table. “It’s virus free.”

    Don skimmed it. “It can’t be.”

    Max shook his head. “There’s none. And that’s not the scary thing.”

    Don looked up. “This isn’t scary?”

    “I distilled the blood serum. The water was infectious.”

    “Impossible. Distilled water isn’t infectious.”

    “This is.”

    1. I. want. to. read. the. rest. of. this. story. !!.
      (polywater prions?? femtomachines?? curse of the Aztec rain goddess??)

  16. “There you go, bud, your laptop is now once again virus free.”
    “But how did the virus get there?”
    “I noticed you visited the MSNBC website – it’s a known vector for the malware known as MSM. I suggest avoiding it in the future.”

  17. I’m not virus free, so I will be missing work today.
    Ammonia burned my sinuses a bit friday at work, and the first cold virus within a miles took residence in my noggin.
    To bed I head.

  18. Kinda know what you mean. Band competitions two Saturdays in a row and getting home after one am since awards start at 1030 pm. Then you gotta drive back and help unload the buses. Could be worse; cousin is struggling to overcome a heart attack suffered out of state. Much praying done.

    I enjoyed your Julie story in MONSTER HUNTER FILES.

  19. The VTOL’s twin rotors spun up quickly, muting the popcorn crackle of gunfire from the border of the grange. Alyssa Gentian (with two flower names thanks to parents and husband) sat, watching, seat belt already cinched up tight. Helplessly caring, after four generations loving this land. “Goodbye, yellow brick road…”

    Back of her sat daughter Abigail, named after a woman in one of the last SF books before the Pandemic hit, and the zompires, vambies, revenants, Others had arisen from the dead bodies of friends, family, strangers. Thirteen, greedy for life, furiously staring at their lost century-old home.
    Terrified. Hopeful.

    The door stopped closing, opened, closed all the way. “Mind if I hitch a ride, folks?” The young woman with the red hair and fancy helmet sat in the empty seat and did up its belts with preternatural speed. Odd for Corey Rankin, CO of the whole Extraction, to appear.

    “Congratulations, Gentians, you’re the last family out, so you get to ride with me. Anybody hit?”
    “Uh, not hit, but I might be bit,” admitted Alyssa. Last night had been hell.
    “Up to date?”
    “Yes, and the extra-strength virus too.”
    “Okay, you’re go. Anyone else?” She twirled a finger copter-wise.

    Engines surged and the TR-22 leapt skyward, wings rotating down to scream past the surrounding enemy. Karl Gentian held Alyssa’s hand.
    “Light it up,” said Rankin in Polish. Mag-frag rounds burned brighter than the cloud-hidden sun.
    Magnesium light touched Abigail’s soul. Nothing would be the same again.
    Next stop, Idaho.

    Nebraska was now officially Flyover Country. Fly over at high altitude, or well armed with flares and cannon down low, don’t land unless you’re madly brave or simply suicidal. Just as virus-free used to mean healthy, and now was an invitation to an afterlife no sane soul could possibly desire.

    [Based on a pre-existing setting and one pre-existing character, whose name I stole/borrowed from Alastair Reynolds’ “House of Suns.” W/ special thanks to Richard Matheson for creating this entire “I am Legend” universe, and to Stephanie Osborn for suggesting the napalm, which alas like so much else did not make the cut to stanza form.]

  20. “Jenkins! Welcome back!” said Nigel Slim-Howland. “You’re looking well. I trust you’re fully recovered?”

    “Indeed, sir,” said the butler. “I’m afraid I had a bit of a time with a nasty rootkit. I’m told it took several hours to eradicate, but I’m quite able to return to my duties, sir.”

    1. His butler’s blithe equanimity notwithstanding, Nigel could tell that if not actively discombobulated, Jenkins was still not quite combobulated, so he tactfully changed the subject.

      1. Of course, the Slim-Howland estate’s IT guy was known only as “P.G.” And he’d let lapse the subscription for discombobulation software…

        1. P.G. was a mysterious figure, almost legendary, known only as the “Slim-Howlander man”; reports of his supposed cadaverous thinness may have derived from the accidental pun of this epithet. “Slim-Howland” is, you see, one of those obscure English family names that demonstrates the true British sense of humour — or possibly the complete lack thereof — by being pronounced as if more than half the letters are missing; just as “Worcestershire” is pronouned “Woostuh-shuh” and “Fotheringay” is pronounced “Fungy”, “Slim-Howland” is pronounced “Slend”.

  21. The snow glistening in the starlight was beautiful; even if the light seemed…wrong.
    But they’d made it! Escaped from the sickness sweeping the solar system.
    If she squinted, she could believe the snow was water crystals, rather than frozen oxygen and hydrogen. Decontamination was over, and the outside was Virus free.

  22. “How old did you say this thing was, sir?”
    “About three and a half billion years.”
    “Wow. The timing is right, then.”
    “Yep. And here’s the translation: ‘Our once-mighty race is destroyed. I am the only one left, created by the last remnants of my kind specifically to leave this message. A plague destroyed all of us, for I will succumb shortly myself. Once I have sealed the chamber, I will erase all memory since my creation, so that the plague will not be able to cause me to destroy this message. Besides myself, the last laboratory created a new form of life, based on Carbon molecules, so that it would be impervious to infection by the plague which we ourselves created. I seeded the planet below with it, so that some form of life will continue, virus free, after I am gone.’ ”
    “And that’s been here on the Moon, all this time.”
    “Yep. Just waiting for us to find it.”

  23. The thing no one ever tells you about the Uncanny Valley is that its borders are capable of shifting, and sometimes with startling speed. Watching the careful, tender movements Vicki was using to repair Algy’s elbow joint, it was hard to believe that only days ago she’d been cringing back from the ‘morph like Algy was a necromobile. Neither Algy nor I had blamed her, then or now — free datamorph AIs were scary enough when they weren’t trapped for their own protection in the rather over-nubile version of a Lolita-model pleasure droid — but it was still astonishing to see how quickly my ex had adapted to the exigencies of the situation.

    Vicki closed Algy’s elbow socket and molded the ‘morph’s biogel skin together over it. “There,” she said. “Okay, give it a try.” Algy swung her arm back and forth, twisting it around, then gave Vicki a sudden brilliant grin and flung both arms around her. Vicki flushed and patted the ‘morph awkwardly on her shoulders. “Algy, it’s nothing, really . . . .”

    “Mrs. Carter, I don’t think you understand how crucial free mobility is for me, limited as I currently am,” said Algy earnestly. “Until the Data War is won and the Comweb is certified virus free, ‘morphs like me don’t dare attempt full Linking for more than milliseconds at a time. In this state of isolation, without regular environmental stimulus from movement and sensory input, my quantum awareness state becomes exponentially more likely to collapse. Paralysis of any kind, without being properly downshifted into dormant mode, is an active threat to my very existence. If your former husband hadn’t found this vessel for me before the Lobotomizer viruses hit our core I might have lost my mind forever.”

    Vicki shot me a sour look. “Okay, Mike. I finally understand why you never wanted to talk about work when you got home.”

    I smirked. “And you thought I was being condescending.”

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