Floating Point, Book Four of Devi Jones’ Locker, available now! Find out more.

Stories

Fire. Escape. – Sample

Fire. Escape. – Sample

This is a novelette that explores a different aspect of the world of the Andersson Dexter novels. You can get the complete ebook for free when you sign up to my mailing list.

It all started with the explosion.

It wasn’t the first time Grey had heard the tell-tale bang… whoosh of a pot of chemicals self-igniting, but they weren’t running such a half-assed operation that it happened often. He dropped the stim cart he’d been filling, the small vial bouncing off the table, its window breaking on impact and the half measure of bright green liquid spilling out. He didn’t even stop to see what happened to the bulb he’d been using to fill the cart — who cared about a few euros worth of stims when there was a fireball in the next room.

Grey fought the entirely natural impulse to just get the hell out of there. It was a crummy little squat they’d moved into a couple of weeks previously, and there was a way out on to the back alley from the hallway off the room he was in. But Ev was in the kitchen on the other side of the doorway. The doorway, which was now glowing with a sickly orange light.

He ran to the door and yelled, “Ev! Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” she croaked, like she was choking on fumes, which made sense because the stuff she was cooking in there was notorious for giving off noxious gasses when it burned. “Fire’s almost out.”

“Get out of there,” he hollered, then took a deep breath of the relatively fresh air. Holding his breath, he pulled the neck of his shirt up over his nose and barged into the kitchen.

Ev was standing over the stove, holding a heavy blanket over the pot. It was hot as hell in the little kitchen, but it was just as warm out in the other room. There was no ventilation in this squat and the weather had been muggy for days. Grey looked around quickly and took stock of the situation.

There were trails of flame on the floor, and Grey’s eyes could feel something nasty in the air, but there was no inferno and Ev seemed to be in one piece. He stamped out the few bits of burning liquid on the ground and peeked under the blanket to make sure the fire in the pot was out. It all seemed okay, so he grabbed Ev’s hand. “Come on,” Grey grunted and pulled her out of the room. It was probably only about ten seconds since he’d heard the bang before they were out in the alley, sucking in the warm, thick air and coughing up their lungs.

“What happened?” Grey asked, once he felt like he could almost breathe properly again.

Ev just shook her head and Grey could see her struggling for breath. He cleared some of the junk from beside the wall and made a place for her to sit. He took her hand, which any other day would have made his heart race and his face turn the colour of their newest mix, Heartfire. Today, though, all he could think was that it should have been him in there.

He helped her sit down and she put her head between her knees. Grey sunk down next to her, and mimicked her posture. It wasn’t because he felt faint, but because he knew that if he’d been the one cooking the stuff it wouldn’t have happened. Ultimately, he knew, this was his fault.

The wet, painful sounds of Ev puking distracted him from his self-pity and he put a hand on her back. He could see that she’d singed her eyebrows and there was a streak of neon green on her face, but being sick was a good sign. She’d be okay. This time.

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Major Tom and the Lucky Lady

Major Tom and the Lucky Lady

I was balancing a cup of tea in one hand, while hanging on to the side of the companionway hatch with the other. I climbed into the cockpit sideways, compensating for the roll of the boat. I was only four days out of port and still getting used to the syncopated back and forth as Lucky Lady took the waves abeam.

I got myself safely to my seat by the helm and took a sip of tea. I sighed, hooked my tether to the harness I always wore above decks, and leaned back over the rail. The sky was clear and full of stars in that complete way that only happens on a moonless night hundreds of miles from shore.

Fame

Fame

Pupusas?” The woman’s nasal voice reached Randall at the back of the bus before he saw her pushing her way down the aisle. He could smell the warm, raw meat smell of his own sweaty body, and his stomached wriggled. He was hungry, but he couldn’t face mysterious little bits of meat.

Quiere pupusas?” the voice called again, and Randall saw the plump figure with her plastic tub approach his seat.

Frijol?” he asked, his high school Spanish failing him for a full sentence.

,” the woman answered. “Frijol y queso.”

Dos, por favor,” Randall said, and fished in his pocket for a crumpled bill.

Lucidity

Lucidity

last night I had
the most wonderful dream

Carly moaned softly in her sleep, and rolled over. She dreamed and dreamed, and when she woke, she found that she still had the lingering shadow of a smile on her lips. Her body was loose with the remnants of her orgasm. She stretched, and smiled fully as her eyes slowly opened. She loved Mondays.

there was a man
so beautiful
he took the breath from my body
we were drawn to each other
as if we had magnets
in our souls

Carly walked into the dream research lab a few minutes early, but Dave was already there.

Chekhov’s Phaser

Chekhov’s Phaser

I never planned to end up here. I’ve never planned anything, really. All my life has been like that: I see an opportunity and I take it. Sometimes that works out better than other times. So why should this be any different?

I’d just been by docking station three, slipping a few hundred wadded euros off the shifty captain from that rust bucket Lunacy. What a stupid name for a cargo ship. Why do ships’ captains feel compelled to name their barges with some clever pun, anyway? Lunacy, indeed.

About a month before, I’d caught them dumping their trash out their airlock after their last trip off the base.

The Foreigner

The Foreigner

I slip into the fake-leather seat, and look at my watch. I have about an hour before the shareholders’ meeting, but I have to stop by the day care first, so I want to make this snappy. I’ve found that the little impatient look usually stops these people from making small talk and gets them down to business. Not this guy, though. From the moment I sit down, he starts with the chit chat. I sigh softly to myself, not wanting to be rude, and look up at the mirror that lets me see a little of his face. That’s when I notice that he’s not from here.

Career Opportunities

Career Opportunities

Jo-Lynn had always laughed at Charlotte, her stupid sister-in-law, who believed the crap in those so-called newspapers she bought at the supermarket every week. It was no wonder that her no-good brother married Charlotte; he’d always liked them dumb and easy.

Once Charlotte moved in to the small house Jo-Lynn had been sharing with her brother Carl since their parents died, Jo-Lynn had decided it was time to move. She just didn’t have an excuse to go to the city, and she wasn’t about to move away then have to come crawling back when she ran out of money. She needed a plan.