Worldbuilding Wednesday #75: Combining Changes

Welcome back to another Worldbuilding Wednesday! Another short one this week, due to busy life and recovering from a cold. Much better than last week but I’m hoping that my plugged up ear isn’t infected. *crosses fingers*

So, what’s today’s subject? Combining Changes!
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Novel Monday: Repair and Rebuild Chapter 10

POD Repair and Rebuild Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.

When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.

Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.

Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.

Chapter 10: Midwinter

“Wake up, Raelin!”

Anwyn’s shout made Raelin grumble and bat at the curtain shielding her bunk from the big kid’s room. It was Midwinter, the three days that didn’t belong to a year. She didn’t have to go to work at the Shipyards. There weren’t any chores down in the warehouse. For the first time since the Tourmaline limped into port, Raelin could sleep in.

“Raelin!” Anwyn whined.

“Annie, I’m trying to sleep in,” Raelin complained.

She pushed the curtain aside only to start. Anwyn was right there, standing in front of her with no crutches or cane. Raelin blinked and stared at Anwyn’s food. The cast was gone. When she looked up at Anwyn’s face, Anwyn started giggling.

“I’m free!” Anwyn cheered.

“And I’m trying to sleep in!” Raelin huffed. “Go pester someone else, Annie.”
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Free Fiction Friday: Threads of Hope

POD Threads of Hope Ebook Cover 09
Description:
Living in the shadow of Spider Mountain, Gran Anna and her family’s little seamstress shop prospered fairly well. Her magical gift expressed itself well through her sewing, allowing her to work tiny bits of magic into the stitches. They kept it secret to protect their family from those who thought hedge magic should be wiped out but still there was enough luck to keep her family well fed and safe.

Not everyone in town was as lucky. David, a boy who had lost his father and brother several years before to the army, had scrabbled to survive in their little town. Just old enough to be considered an adult but too young to be taken seriously, no one was willing to give him a chance to prove his worth, no matter how hard he tried.

Anna watched David’s hope fade out over the years after his family’s death. He was a good boy who tried so hard that it hurt to see him worn away by inches until all that was left was desperation and fear. Logic said that there was nothing that she could do to help him. A seamstress’ recommendation meant little to the men who might give David a job.

After David came to cancel an order for a new shirt, Anna decided that she would nudge the threads of fate for him. Sewing a shirt was a simple enough task. Working magic into the seams that would help David keep the faith in himself was rather more complicated. Anna wrapped all her hopes and prayers for David into the shirt, tugging the threads of hope into a more favorable alignment that might allow David to find what he’d been looking for all along.

This story is appropriate to young adults and older. Later stories in the series will have warnings but this one is safe for young readers.
Threads of Hope

By Meyari McFarland

“Gran Anna?”

Anna looked up from her cutting board in the back room of the shop, frowning at the wash of emotion coming from the front room. She recognized the boy’s voice but the despair coming from him made her take off her glasses and polish them as she shouldered aside the curtain dividing the workroom from the area the clients got to see. Young David smiled to see her but it was a weak smile that drooped as soon as it formed.

“David,” Anna said, putting her glasses back on. “What can I do for you today?”

“I ah, wanted to tell you not to bother to finish the shirt, Gran Anna,” David said. He stared at his hands, clenched in tight fists on the plain wood counter. “I’m afraid I can’t afford it.”

“Didn’t get the job, I take it?” Anna sighed.

“No ma’am,” David said, his shoulder joining his mouth in drooping. “I don’t, don’t know what I’ll do now. There aren’t that many jobs in town. I might have to go to the city.”

Anna reached out and patted his hands gently. It truly wasn’t the boy’s fault. After losing his father and older brother to the meat grinder that was the army the boy had tried so hard. She’d watched him take every odd job in town, all but beg for work from anyone who would give him a few pennies. Several years of trying had worn the poor boy down to the point that she was surprised he hadn’t given up entirely. Blessed Inina knew that the child had given it his all but no one was giving him a chance.

“Don’t you fuss about that, child,” Anna said. “The shirt’s already cut out. I’ll stitch it up for you and you can have it for free. You’ll need a new shirt if you go off to the city, anyway.”

“Oh, I couldn’t,” David protested, his eyes wide with mingled relief and shame for that relief. “At least let me sweep up the shop for you.”

She laughed and nodded, not that her shop needed it. Her daughters and granddaughters helped with that, along with Thomas, her husband. If it made him feel better about the gift, so be it. Anna was old enough not to care what anyone thought. One shirt was a simple matter for her to make, though this one would be a bit more than just a shirt. What was the point of her gifts if she didn’t use them to help people who needed them from time to time? A little hope for a boy who had none was not a problem at all.
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Worldbuilding Wednesday: Pain

Well, I had grand plans for a good Worldbuilding Wednesday post. I was going to talk about integrating various hypothetical changes together to see how they might result in different configurations for your world.

(Like… magic + prophecy + capitalism never developed so much might equal a society that was heavily dependent on prophecies to determine what you do with your life or it might end up one in which people view prophecies as a version of magic that can be traded OR you could say that because there is no real capitalism, just barter, then people have developed a hugely complicated gift economy so giving someone a magic spell or prophecy might mean that they feel obligated to give you radishes and turnips for the next few years and then you feel obligated to give them something else magical and soon there’s whole complicated lines of obligation between people and navigating life without incurring new obligations is the big worry in everyone’s lives. Because there’s always that one asshole who just drifts through life getting stuff and never giving back but you can’t quite snub him… Dang. I think I just gave myself a plot bunny. Feel free to play with this concept though. I’d love to see what you do with it!)

But anyway. Instead, I work up at midnight with a doozy of a migraine so have some very brief thoughts on pain before I shuffle off to do other things.

Our world, our medical system, doesn’t necessarily do the best job dealing with pain. It just doesn’t. Acute pain, sure. Minor everyday pain, yeah. But chronic pain? Repeated pain like migraines? Not so much. Finding the right meds to cope with chronic pain, especially since you can’t always use it for long periods of time, is difficult. Finding meds that will keep migraines and other recurrent pains from happening? That will deal with them when they do happen? Just as hard.

So, when you build your world, whether SF or Fantasy or whatever, it’s worth thinking about how your characters will handle any pain they experience in the story.

If they’re injured or ill, will they have medicine? Spells that are tailored to heal, to reduce pain, to block it? Can they program the nanobots in their bloodstream to seek out pain centers and numb them?

What side effects are there? My migraine meds knock me flat for at least two hours and then I’m foggy brained for at least a day. (Thus the short post.) How does their medicine / spell / nanobot work? Will it make them loopy and unable to focus? Will operating heavy machinery or weapons be a problem? How much time will it take to work and how long will the effect last? Will the pain come back after it wears off?

All of these are really important things to consider when you’re writing a character in pain, especially one who’s facing major events and life-threatening danger. Think about it and see what new and creative things you can come up with!

*shuffles back to work*

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Novel Monday: Repair and Rebuild Chapter 9

POD Repair and Rebuild Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.

When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.

Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.

Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.

Chapter Nine: Inside

Raelin kicked snow drifts as she made her way back to the shipyards. The snow had started falling two days after her ‘first blood’ ceremony. Mistress Chie had kept the big doors open for as long as she could but after three days straight of snow she’d had to close them up.

That had led to a solid week of cleaning up the dry dock until there was hardly any sawdust anywhere. Every single nook and cranny had been swept out. Raelin and the smaller women and gone up the ropes to the rafters where they’d swept off the sawdust that had accumulated up there.

She still wasn’t sure how the sawdust had gotten that high up or how it had accumulated into such thick layers on the rafters but Raelin had found a couple of larger patches that had been warm to the touch. Mistress Chie had cursed in every language she knew when Raelin reported that. Once she was done cursing Mistress Chie had gone up into the rafters to check them herself, finding several places that they’d missed when they cleaned.

Today was the first day of regular work after all the cleaning had been done. All of the deck supports were in place so they were supposed to start putting in the reinforcements and subfloor. Raelin opened the little door to get in, still not used to the dry dock being closed in from the weather. Her coat, scarf and hat went with the other women’s on the peg that Befind had put up for her. It was set lower down on the wall so that Raelin could reach it without standing on tip toes.

“Dana!” Mistress Chie shouted from her office. “Go find Befind. I need her.”

“Yes Mistress!” Raelin shouted back.
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Free Fiction Friday: Jade Claws

It’s been a busy week but I wanted to make sure to get something up for Free Fiction Friday. Have a dragon story to carry you through the weekend! *scurries back to work*

POD Jade Claws Ebook Cover 04
Description:
Madoka did not know what in the little village had compelled so much attention. Despite Madoka’s intention to spend no more than a matter of weeks, Madoka had been in the village for several years. It had been long enough for Madoka to watch little Hoshiko grow from a babbling toddler to a shy near-adult.

The quiet period ended when Hoshiko’s uncle decided that rape was an appropriate method of proposing marriage. Madoka abandoned the human disguise that had concealed Madoka’s true form to teach him and Hoshiko’s parents their mistake. Doing so sparked a change in Hoshiko that revealed exactly what had kept Madoka in the village for so long.

Jade Claws is a tale of dragons in ancient Japan and discovering that the mistakes of the past do not have to be transmitted to the future.

Jade Claws

By Meyari McFarland

“Thank you very much for the mushrooms,” Hoshiko said to Madoka.

She smiled shyly up at Madoka as she took the basket full of mushrooms that Madoka had harvested up on the mountain. The occupation gave Madoka reasons to be away from the village. That was always welcome. A single woman living on her own brought many strange looks and harsh comments in this culture. Madoka truly didn’t care but cultivating an air of oddness and unapproachability always mad life among humans easier.

Madoka smiled and patted Hoshiko’s head even though Madoka could smell Hoshiko’s uncle around the corner of the farmhouse. The child certainly wasn’t responsible for her family. She was just another victim like her mother. It was sad that all the brightness and joy Hoshiko displayed would be beaten out of her in only a couple of years. Human lives were so very short.

Paying attention to them was foolish. Madoka’s departure had already been put off long enough that she’d watched Hoshiko grow from a babbling toddler that clung to Madoka’s kimono into a coltish young girl who’d already learned not to speak any more than she had to. It was sad but it was the natural order of a human female’s life in this part of the world. Truly, Madoka wasn’t sure what had bound Madoka to this place for so long. Madoka rarely stayed among humans for more than a few weeks at a time.

Hoshiko hurried off with the basket of mushrooms, carrying them to the tiny root cellar the family had carved into the mountain. As soon as Hoshiko left, Kenta, Hoshiko’s uncle, slid around the corner of the farmhouse. He slouched and stared at Madoka, piggy eyes dull, lips twisted in a leer.

“You,” Kenta slurred. “Come here.”

It was a blatant order that Madoka raised one eyebrow at. The scruffy bearded man had eyed Madoka every time they encountered each other. No action had been taken thus Madoka had not found it necessary to rip the man’s head off.

“Come here!” Kenta snapped.

He strode over and grabbed Madoka’s arm, twisting it in a move that was clearly intended to be intensely painful. It didn’t hurt. Madoka’s human form was considerably weaker than the true form, the scales hidden under the skin and tail but a narrow hidden whip under the drape of Madoka’s kimono. Still, Madoka was too tough to be harmed by a man like Kenta.

“Mine,” Kenta growled. He stank of cheap sake.

“No,” Madoka said, chuckling at the sheer thought of it. “I am not yours.”

“You need a husband,” Kenta snapped. “Impertinent woman!”

He shoved Madoka towards the wall of the farmhouse. His brother Daiki appeared, one hand wrapped around Aiko’s, Hoshiko’s mother, neck as if he intended to snap her spine if Madoka didn’t accept Kenta’s ‘proposal’. Aiko bit her lip and looked away, shaking in her sandals.

Madoka went with the shove, looking towards the horizon. A smile stretched Madoka’s lips a bit too far for humanity but nowhere near as far as her mouth would stretch soon. The sun was setting over the mountains. In minutes the entire farmhouse would be sheathed in darkness. Kenta slammed his hands into Madoka’s shoulders, pinning Madoka to the wall.

“Mine now,” Kenta said. He licked his lips and then leaned in for a kiss.

“No,” Madoka hissed, hands set in the center of his chest. Madoka’s claws waited under the fake human nails for the moment when Madoka could change. “I am not yours. Let me go or I will kill you, Kenta.”
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Worldbuilding Wednesday: Have a link!

I’m super-busy this week both at work and on the current novel so I haven’t had time to write anything insightful for today’s post. Sorry about that!

However, there are awesome people on the internet who have written insightful things about worldbuilding so have a link: The Difference Between Good Worldbuilding And Great Worldbuilding by Charlie Jane Anders is a lovely article all about the stuff I work on so much in all these posts.

Hope you enjoy–good luck with all your projects this week!

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Novel Monday: Repair and Rebuild Chapter 8

POD Repair and Rebuild Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Rebuilding the future that was nearly lost.

When the Tourmaline Seas limped back into port, everyone in Raelin’s family was stunned that she’d made it. She’d lost a mast and had so many holes in the hull that it was only with the Goddesses’ blessings that her crew and cargo had survived. More than anything, Raelin wanted to see her back on the seas, blue Dana sails snapping in the wind as her crew sailed around the world. To her shock, Raelin got to observe Mistress Chie, owner of Sunrise Shipyard, as she rebuilt the Tourmaline Seas.

Raelin’s joy in repairing the Tourmaline darkened as the Delbhana plotted to steal the Tourmaline away. When that didn’t work the Delbhana struck straight at the heart of the Dana Clan, trying to steal all the children, Raelin included. If she failed, Raelin knew that she might never see her family and home again.

Repair and Rebuild is a fantastic coming of age story set in the Matriarchal world of Muirin.

Chapter Eight: Decks

“Can you breathe?” Mistress Chie asked as Raelin tied a scarf over her face to keep the sawdust floating on the cold winter air out of her mouth and nose.

“Yes,” Raelin said, sniffing and nodding. “Still can’t smell anything but Uncle Jarmon said that it should get better when the swelling goes down all the way.”

Mistress Chie snorted, the forceful breath making her scarf puff out. Her eyes looked amused above her scarf. Four days after the confrontation with Sinead, Raelin’s face was purple and red and blue. Her nose was pretty much back to normal but both of her eyes had turned black and she still felt like her head sloshed when she moved too fast.

That didn’t mean that Raelin was going to miss more work on the Tourmaline. Three days at home with Annie and her broken leg was too much. Of course, all three of those days Gavin and Aravel had been pampering Raelin by refusing to let her do anything. That was much more annoying that Anwyn’s constant questions and chatter. Getting to come back to work as the decks were put back into the Tourmaline Seas was a huge relief.

All the supports for the decks were off on one side of the dry dock, waiting for them. Raelin knew that she wouldn’t be doing much actual work with her broken nose (not to mention being too small for real work) but it was better to be here for the next stage of construction than not. Raelin really wanted to see the Tourmaline back onto the waters.

“Ready the hoists!” Mistress Chie bellowed.
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Free Fiction Friday: Ghosts of the Dead

No new short stories to share so I decided to give you this one this week. This one of the ones that always makes me cry by the end. Hope you enjoy!

POD Ghosts of the Dead Ebook Cover 05

Description:

Survival was hard enough but when your space station was half destroyed and the population was slowly trickling away it became even harder. Paulina lived with the scars of the accident that had nearly killed their station. She wasn’t sure if she could live with the plan her lover Tina and their friends had come up with to revive the station’s failing future.

It was hard enough to live with the ghosts of the dead in her heart. Paulina wasn’t sure she could stand to be surrounded by them all the time.

Ghosts of the Dead is a near future SF story of recovery from disaster, regaining your strength and moving into the future.

Ghosts of the Dead

By Meyari McFarland

1. Water Damage

“Ugh,” Paulina complained. “It stinks.”

“The whole station stinks,” Tina said with a shrug that was anything but casual. “Will until the filters are all replaced.”

That was true enough that Paulina didn’t reply. The smell of smoke and melted plastic had almost gotten familiar in the last couple of months. It lingered on Paulina’s tongue, stained the back of her nose until the burning seemed normal.

Nothing was normal, not anymore. Too many people were dead. Too many had fled the station with what little they could salvage. Paulina had a moment of vertigo as she remembered the burnt and twisted wreckage of the other half the station drifting away with Keiko Lewis still chattering away about keeping people safe.

She’d died. Her body was still in the wreckage a few thousand klicks away. She wasn’t the only one ‘buried’ in vacuum. Paulina shut her eyes against the rush of faces she’d never see again. So many people had died but Paulina had been left behind to struggle on through life. The too-familiar sourness of vomit rose at the back of her throat, threatening to spill Paulina’s meager mushroom and spinach piroshky out onto the stained carpet covering the floor.

“It smells like mold,” Paulina said once she’d pushed the nausea down again. “We can’t buy a place that’s full of mold, Tina.”

“We can fix it,” Tina replied as she pushed the theatre’s double doors open so that they could see the stage and seats.

“Sure’n it’s a beautiful sight,” Boss Johnson said in the back of Paulina’s head. His accent was as off in memory as it had been in real life. “Perfect place to take a lovely lady fer a night of fun.”

Paulina cringed away from the flashback. She didn’t want to remember. Her first date with Tina had been to see an amateur production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in this theatre. Tina had grinned when Paulina marched up and asked if she wanted to go. She’d been so nervous that she’d almost shouted it, much to the amusement of her and Tina’s coworkers out on the Docks.

The smell of mold fought with Paulina’s memory of popcorn and laughing kisses as they watched the play from the back of the theatre. It had been perfect, a perfect shining moment that was completely destroyed by seeing the condition of the station now. When she tried to remember what Tina’s expression had been, Paulina couldn’t.

Faces didn’t make sense anymore. She could see eyes, a nose, mouths, even hairstyles but none of it made any sense. It didn’t coalesce into ‘Tina’s happy’, ‘Tina’s angry’ or ‘Tina’s sad’. Instead Paulina had to piece the separate elements together against a mental register of remembered explanations and hypothetical assumptions. She’d gotten better at figuring out what people’s expressions meant about their emotional state but the doctors had said that Paulina would never regain the skill for facial recognition and emotional comprehension. It was gone just like everything she’d loved about their space station.

Paulina slowly drifted towards the stage. Her fingers brushed against one of the seats. The once-soft velvet was sticky with fire suppression foam residue. She snatched her hand back, fisting it. Everything was ruined, completely ruined. Well, Paulina thought as she stomped up the stairs to the stage, that didn’t mean that they couldn’t make new memories. That was what Tina kept saying, not that Paulina thought they could make something out of this place.

It was a disaster. Boards lifting up, nails coming loose and that didn’t even touch the condition of the drapes; she’d never seen a stage in such horrible condition. The rest of the theatre was in equally bad shape.

The walls looked as though a thunderstorm had poured through the roof, staining the walls. She could smell mold everywhere in the theatre, a truly horrifying thought given that the space station was supposed to be ‘fully refurbished’. It obviously wasn’t but Paulina already knew that. Everyone who lived on the station knew just how much was left to be done. The station management’s advertising only applied to specific public areas. Any privately owned spaces were officially the responsibility of the owners.

“You can’t be serious,” Paulina complained to Tina without meeting her eyes. “This place is a dump.”

“Yeah,” Tina said with a far too casual shrug. “But it’s in our price range.”

“Why a theatre?” Paulina whined in part because it was this particular theatre full of memories that Paulina would have preferred to keep intact. “Seriously, this is insane. How can we set up a shop in a theatre, especially one this rundown?”

Tina glared. The punch to Paulina’s shoulder was expected. Didn’t stop it from hurting even though Paulina was better at pain than most after her dockside accident. Tina was a good foot taller than Paulina and from a station with full Earth gravity. She hit a lot harder than Paulina could dream of. Tina’s arms crossed over her chest looked as big around as Paulina’s waist, as brown as mahogany and corded with muscle.

Growing up on a low-grav station had left Paulina with a much more delicate body than Tina’s. Paulina’s slender build prevented her from ever being effective in combat that didn’t involve remote controlled robots. Besides, her scars weren’t the sort that went numb from nerve damage. No, Paulina got lucky and had scars that ached all the time.

Her whole body ached. Sometimes Paulina thought about using the pain pills the hospital had given her but no. No. The dreams she got were worse than the aches, worse than her scars brushing against something and sending screaming fire through Paulina’s body. Better to deal with what was around her, the damage, the destruction, the shell-shocked expressions she couldn’t comprehend anymore, than dream of what it had been like before.

“We can’t afford anything better,” Tina growled. “I checked. There’s literally nothing left, Pau. All the good places have been taken. This is still available because the fire suppression systems malfunctioned and flooded the place. No one wanted to clean it up.”

“I don’t want to clean it up,” Paulina complained. “This place stinks and it’s going to take most of our budget just to renovate. We won’t have money for buying stock.”

“Yes, we will,” Tina said. “All we have to do is work with Sue and Andrea. They take part of the building and we take the rest.”

“Which part?” Paulina asked immediately.

The theatre wasn’t that big. It held just over two hundred seats, most arranged in the main part of the floor, a few on the tiny balcony. The backstage portion was small with very little room for props or, in their case, stock. The offices were tiny, barely more than closets. Out front, where the most effective sales presence would be, there was a decent lobby but that was run down and water damaged, too.

Besides, Paulina wasn’t terribly fond of Sue. She wasn’t that bad, really. It was just that her voice was always too loud and her Southern accent frequently confused Paulina. She was from Earth, after all, and every Earther that Paulina had met was convinced of their inherent superiority over space-bred people.

If Sue was bad, though, Andrea was worse. Her smile always had that plastic quality of a person forced to smile when they’d rather curse. Paulina had no idea why Andrea though so poorly of her but it showed. There was nothing like watching a person go from laughing and carefree to fighting to keep a fake smile on their face the instant you showed up. Even with Paulina’s problems interpreting facial expressions Andrea’s issues with her were obvious. That smile was so fake that it stuck out like a sore thumb.

“I don’t want to have to deal with them all the time,” Paulina told Tina. “You know I don’t get along with them.”

“Everyone knows that,” Tina groaned as she rolled her eyes. “Really, it couldn’t be any more obvious if you tried. They said they’d like the offices and the backstage area. A tiny accounting firm doesn’t need a bunch of room. We should be able to take the rest of the theatre for ourselves. No storage space but then we can’t afford much in stock anyway and there’s not that many people on the station anymore so it will be okay.”

“Why are we doing this?” Paulina asked. “You’re right. There aren’t enough people on the station. There aren’t going to be. It’s old. It’s worn out. Half of the damn station is gone, Tina! Everyone knows that the station’s dying, dead, gone. They all want to go to stations that are new and fancy, with big open spaces and plenty of room, where it doesn’t stink of fire and death and fear.”

Tina pulled Paulina in for a hug without answering the complaint. There was no reason to. They’d talked about this for months as Paulina recovered before deciding that it was the best of their limited options. Neither of them had any family to speak of. Their jobs had been cut when the station management downsized due to decreased traffic and residency. And neither of them had the funds to move to a different station. Starting a shop was their only choice.

“It’s big,” Andrea murmured at the double doors that led from the lobby to the theatre.

“Yer gonna be fine, sweetie,” Sue reassured her. When Paulina peeked around Tina’s side Andrea looked frightened of the sheer size of the theatre. “We’ll take the store rooms an’ make ‘em ours. Might even be a service corridor we could use to enter so ya don’ have to deal with the space in here.”

Paulina blinked up at Tina, surprised. She hadn’t thought that Andrea had agoraphobia. How she survived on a space station Paulina didn’t know. Tina turned the two of them and Andrea’s smile instantly went plastic. Her fingers tightened so much around Sue’s wrist that Sue winced.

“There y’all are,” Sue said loudly enough that Paulina winced. Her words echoed through the theatre making everyone wince along with Paulina. “Yow, I’m gonna have ta practice my indoor voice, aren’t I?”

“Please,” Paulina begged. “It’d help.”

To her surprise, Andrea swallowed down a laugh. She looked almost as shocked by the aborted giggle as Paulina felt but Sue didn’t seem to notice either. Sue grinned and nodded, flapping her free hand at Tina and Paulina.

“I’ll do m’best,” Sue promised. “But Lordy-God, this place needs a ton of work. We even gonna be able to do it?”

“I have a friend who had a team that does refurbishing work,” Tina said. “If we chip in labor then he’ll cut the cost.”

“I still don’t know what we’re going to sell,” Paulina sighed. “There isn’t a demand for food. The big grocery store is too cheap. And no need for knickknacks either when the station’s half gone and the other half is emptying out.”

“Games or toys?” Andrea suggested hesitantly. “There are a lot of families and no good entertainment options anymore.”

Sue shook her head no, sighing. “Don’ see that working. Too far away from the center concourse.”

Paulina sighed and nodded her agreement with Sue. She might be annoying but she was right. They really didn’t have a good plan. All Tina had been able to come up with so far was ‘open a shop’. That was better than Paulina’s half-cracked ideas of somehow making millions out of nowhere.

“I don’t know if we can even make this place work,” Paulina said. “I mean, look at it. It’s designed to be a theatre, not a shop. Unless we’re selling ghost stories about all the dead people on this station we’re not going to get much business.”

Tina stiffened. She looked around, a grin slowly blooming on her face. Sue whistled but it was low enough not to go straight through Paulina’s head. Even Andrea gasped and then smiled a real smile, the one that quirked her lips and made her eyes wrinkle up in completely different ways from the fake smiles Paulina had learned to recognize already. Their reactions made Paulina stare and then huff.

“What?”

“Pau,” Tina said, “you’re brilliant. What better to sell than ghost stories? The entire station is turning into a ghost town. Why not play on that? There’s plenty of material, after all.”

“How?” Paulina demanded. “I’m not a writer. Neither are you. How do you sell ghost stories, anyway?”

“Oh, that’s easy, darlin’,” Sue said. “When we get this place fixed up we make sure ta leave it a bit bedraggled. Have some water stains, torn seats an’ the like. Then we fill the front lobby with all sorts of spooky toys and books. Then maybe dress up in torn coveralls, spooky makeup. Y’know, like Halloween costumes jus’ all the time. It’ll be easy for you.”

Paulina bristled at that, making Andrea shiver and hide behind Sue. Tina glared at her, too. That made Paulina feel a bit better. She knew how her scars made her look. There was no need to rub her nose in it.

“Not like that,” Sue sighed. “Seriously, y’all are too sensitive about those things. Yeah, they twist up your face on one side bu’ it’s not tha’ bad overall. No, I meant yer size, sweetie. Y’all make the perfect pair for that sort of thing. One little ‘n’ scary-fast, the other big ‘n’ looming. It’ll work well.”

“We’d still need stories,” Paulina said with a glare that didn’t bother Sue at all even though it made Andrea quiver behind her. “Or shows or something. We don’t have that. I can’t act.”

“You can sing,” Tina said entirely too mildly for it to be anything more than her taking the idea seriously.

“Traitor,” Paulina hissed at her. “I am not singing for anyone but you. I’m not that good.”

Tina grinned and shrugged. “You are, too. Well. And I do a good job of telling stories. All it would take is some research. We’ll have time to gather stories to play off of when we’re fixing the place up. Maybe we could do some actual plays, you know, spooky ones that only take a couple of actors.”

“That’d be a load o’ fun!” Sue exclaimed much too loudly again. “Oops. Sorry! Really got great acoustics in here. I c’n act a bit if y’all don’ mind an accent.”

“Um, I know how to decorate things,” Andrea offered. “I could make costumes, maybe some props. Sue can sew cute toys for kids.”

Paulina pulled out of Tina’s arms to stare at each of them in turn. They were serious. They really thought it would work. She shook her head, mouthing ‘no’ at Tina. It didn’t work. Tina smiled wryly at her and shrugged. Sue clapped her hands and bounced on her toes. Even Andrea looked as though she thought it was a good idea if the way she met Paulina’s eyes was anything to judge by.

“You’re all insane!” Paulina complained. “We’ll go broke and end up on the chain gang for our debts.”

“No, we won’t,” Tina said. “It’ll work. Besides, do you have any better ideas?”

Paulina’s shoulders tensed until they felt like they were made of stone. She didn’t. There weren’t any other ideas that showed any signs of succeeding. They couldn’t grow anything in the theatre because permits for independent food production were prohibitively expensive. None of them had the skills to pilot, the really big earner on the station. And there wasn’t any other place that they could afford to buy.

“No,” Paulina sighed.

“Well, then,” Tina declared. “We have a plan.”
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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Or happy Thursday for those who don’t celebrate it. :)

Sorry I missed yesterday’s Worldbuilding Wednesday post. I really am running out of ideas for that weekly post. And well, I was off yesterday, and am off work until Monday, so I decided to challenge myself to write a short romance novel over Thanksgiving.

It’s in the Manor ‘verse, a sequel to A New Path focusing on Shizuka’s younger sister Keiko, and it’s going quite well. I’m up to 19,126 words in just a few days. I highly doubt that I’ll finish it before it’s time to go back to work but I should have a healthy chunk of it done before then.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone a good Thanksgiving and check in. Have a great weekend, too! *hugs everyone*

Posted in Manor Verse, MDR Publishing, Rambling, Self Publishing, Writing Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment