story hop

2016 B2BCyCon Story Hop

A Friend in Need…
Part III

“Is a Friend Indeed”
by Chess Desalls

Calla brushed sand from her shirt and hair. She grimaced in apology as the dirt hit the floor. “Better than tell them, I can show them, Si-Ting.”

“Very well.” Si-Ting led the group through the door of the backroom to a metal shed.

A young man crouched next to a futuristic motorcycle with suspensors, a type of hovering device. He and the vehicle were similarly covered in sand and dust.

Caballito gaped. “A speeder?”

The young man stood up and frowned.

“It’s okay, Valcas,” Calla said. “Si-Ting and her friends can help us.” When he failed to reply, she continued, “We began our search while riding an Estrel Flyer. The vehicle changed to blend in with this time and place.”

Eying the speeder’s yellow and black paintjob, Bear grinned. “The Scrapmen will see that from miles away, mate.” His awareness of the cutter in his rucksack lessened as he took in the situation. “Were you two caught in a sandstorm?”

Valcas exhaled. “The sandstorm was caused by the impact of our arrival.”

LX trailed a finger along the speeder’s headlight. “The technology is inferior to my ship, but your vehicle remains intact.” After further inspection he added, “I cannot ascertain what apprehensions you and your female acquaintance have with a functioning vehicular device. It is not complicated enough to support the necessary processing equipment for traveling through time.”

“Don’t be offended by his criticism,” said Jane. “Lex’s ship has all the toys, but we’ve lost the connections and communications needed to get back on course. He’s bummed out that his time machine is as useless as a tin rocket.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, but the speeder is not how we arrived in this place and time. Our vehicle is not what’s broken.” Valcas held out a pair of sunglasses with a crack in one lens; the frame was bent where the opposite lens was shattered. “I doubt this will mean much to you, but we’d been searching for a solution to the conflict between the TSTA—Time and Space Travel Agency—and Aboreal, my mother’s home world. The glasses broke upon arrival—both pairs. They’ve never done that before.”

Calla frowned as she pulled a similarly shattered pair from her pocket. “At first we wondered whether what we were looking for couldn’t possibly exist—that the glasses somehow exploded and we’d traveled to a Nowhere. But we can’t tell for sure because we haven’t come across any water, still or otherwise.”

Bear’s lips set in a tight line as he looked at Caballito, who shrugged. “You won’t find much agua here, mis amigos.”

LX shifted closer to Valcas and stared intently at the travel glasses. “I do not understand how this ocular device with atramentous lenses facilitates movement through temporal and spatial intervals.”

Jane squeezed her forehead with both hands. “Lex only means that he’s not sure how the shades help you travel. Dig?”

“Yes, I got it the first time.” Turning to LX, Valcas explained, “With the travel glasses, we’re able to conduct a search for where and when we want to go. Once we are in motion, the glasses transport us.” He frowned. “But without them, Calla and I can’t return home or communicate with anyone who could help us.”

Bear crossed his arms. “So what you’re saying is, you need more than a mechanic.” He regarded Si-Ting with a sly grin.

“My method is not so easily broken.” Si-Ting closed her eyes.

The air stilled as objects in the room appeared to shift. Images flashed, shuttered as if captured seconds apart on film. Each point in the fabric of time stretched into a texture of its own. Si-Ting reached out and searched for two threads—one for Jane and LX, and one for Calla and Valcas. With the threads of time firmly within her grasp, Si-Ting pulled.

“I haven’t seen this travel talent before,” Calla murmured.

Valcas finally smiled. “This version of your world’s future has what the TSTA calls a Thread Bender, a time-witch. I have no memory of meeting one before today.”

Calla drew in a breath. “So that means we found—”

Exactly what we’d been searching for. Someone who can put things as they once were. But, with the glasses broken, we won’t be able to record her.”

“Or remember her on our own? But our search, our solution—”

Si-Ting twisted the threads counterclockwise, ending their conversation with a sharp sucking sound.

***

LX scanned the forward display screen. The data met his expectations, and the ship ran smoothly along its course. Only the communications within the cabin troubled him. He prepared to repeat a concept he worried his ancestor would never understand, no matter how many times he reworded the argument.

“We have had this discussion. I have explained the dangers of attempting to alter any historic event. While the outcome has potential for improvement, there is also the possibility that a greater calamity would replace the one that was averted by intervention.”

“You could at least show a little sympathy for…” Jane shook her head. “Never mind, man. I suppose help is more meaningful when it’s requested by someone you know. Just promise me that if I ask you for help, in the past or future, you won’t flake out with that altering time excuse. You have my permission to be helpful.”

LX nodded. “A close acquaintance who affirmatively assists with troubles made known to them exhibits true friendship, and is therefore undeniably a close acquaintance.”

“Sure, man. Something like that.”

Fin

TheStoryHopLogoGoodreadsBoothThank you for reading! To start this serialized portion of The Story Hop from the beginning, or to share it with a friend, follow the following story map for A Friend in Need…

Part I: Want Not

Part II: Waste Not

Part III: Is a Friend Indeed

Les Lynam, Tim Hemlin, and I hope you’ve enjoyed our time-travel story mashup. To go on more adventures with LX, Jane, Caballito, Bear, Si-Ting, Calla, and Valcas, check out the following books!

Books by Les Lynam

Books by Tim Hemlin

Books by Chess Desalls

Click here to return to the 2016 B2BCyCon Story Hop!

Advertisements

Holiday Story Hop

Holiday Story HopI’m excited to be part of the 2015 Holiday Story Hop. There are at least twelve authors on board. I’ve posted my story below.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Click here for a full list of authors and stories!

 

“Yellow Snow Cones”

I turn up the heat in the car and flip through radio stations until I find one that doesn’t play holiday tunes. Today wasn’t so bad, but I could care less about reindeers with abnormal noses or snowmen come to life. They can jingle their jolly at millions of other listeners who started rocking their bells before Thanksgiving.

The snow that lines the sides of the road is caked with mud and ash. I’m surprised we had work today and that the snowplows had made it through. Schools closed and so did daycare. Poor Ma.

I yank the steering wheel to the right to make the turn on Ma’s street. I hope to find her all in one piece after spending the day babysitting Anna.

After parking in her half-hidden driveway, I grab Ma’s shovel from her front porch. I dig out a path from the porch to the car so that it will be easier for Anna to walk back with me. When I reach the car I look back at the driveway and sigh. Might as well shovel the rest of the driveway too.

Finally, I prop the shovel back on the porch and ring Ma’s doorbell. The wreath on the door stares back at me as I wait for someone to answer.

Ma opens the door. “Come on in, Michael.” Her hair sticks out all over her head like she forgot to pull a comb through it. But she’s smiling.

“You two had fun?” I say.

“Oh yes, we’re in the middle of making snow cones.”

“Sounds like something Anna would like in the dead of winter,” I say. Who needs a warm fire and a mug of cocoa when you can burn the chill from the inside with more ice?

Ma leads me to the kitchen where Anna sits pouring yellow liquid over small bowls of shaved ice. Anna wears matching socks and her pigtails are wrapped with ribbons; it’s an improvement over what she looked like when I dropped her off this morning.

“Thanks, Ma,” I mutter.

“Daddy!”

“Hey, what are you making over there?”

“Lemon snow cones. They’re so yummy!” she says, swirling yellow all over a fresh bowl.

“You know what that looks like, don’t you?”

I blanch at Anna’s blank, innocent look. “Huh?”

“Never mind. Let me guess, lemon?” My lips pucker before I can hide my expression.

She wrinkles her nose at me. “Yup.”

“Why not cherry or sugarplum or gingerbread mocha? Don’t you think that would be better? More Christmassy?”

“But I looove lemon, Daddy!”

I shake my head. She’s too much. “Why do you love lemon?”

“Because it’s yellow. And I looove yellow because it’s the color of sunshine and ducklings and school buses and dandelions aaand…” She pauses. Her large eyes are opened in round circles, and her chin’s pointed up at me like she expects an answer.

“And lemons,” I say, squinting down at her.

“Yes, lemons! I looove lemon!”

Love and circular arguments aside, what type of kid likes lemons? Consider jelly beans, hard candies, and lollipops. Cherry and orange go first, followed by grape, leaving the sad little lemons and limes last. They wait, like the last two kids waiting to be chosen for a kickball team and hoping to avoid the embarrassment of being left on the island.

Not Anna, though. Not my kid who loooves lemon.

How do I explain that lemon is an underdog flavor, unwanted and unsupported, and that her snow cones remind me of a dog taking a leak on the side of the road? I think quickly, before she has a chance to ask me to taste anything.

“Anna, let’s go for a walk.”

“Okay!”

Ma looks at me like I just made Ebenezer Scrooge cry. I’m no Tiny Tim, so I figure maybe I’m Marley or one of the ghosts—the one that looks like the grim reaper, maybe.

“Come on,” I say. “Grab your mittens and boots. We’ll be right back to clean up the mess, Ma.”

Once outside, I point out the different types of snow. “See that, Anna. That’s fresh, white snow. And that over there is brown. That means it’s dirty. You don’t want to eat that.”

Anna giggles. “Eww.”

It isn’t long before we come across a patch of yellow snow—a big, round splotch that dips in the center.

A mitten-covered hand tugs at my coat. “What happened over there?”

I look at her, right in the eyes. “That’s where a dog peed,” I say, smug with adult knowledge about such things. “What do you think of your lemon snow cones now, huh?”

Her left brow crinkles before her eyes fill with tears. Before I can ask what’s wrong, she starts sobbing. “I didn’t m-make them for me. I m-made them for Mommy to p-put by her grave.”

The sensation of blood leaving my face overwhelms me and makes me dizzy. I sink to the ground, kneeling to be on eye-level with my daughter. “Anna,” I say, wrapping her in my arms. “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand. Why would you want to make lemon snow cones for Mommy?”

“I wanted to make something that I could keep in the snow, that wouldn’t melt all winter. And in her favorite color.”

My mind spins with memories. Joni, my late wife, had loved the sunshine, springtime, and buttercups. Bogged down by the season and the cold, it was as if I’d forgotten her and her favorite color. Several years had passed since her death. I hadn’t made the connection. But Anna had.

“I’m sorry,” I say again, wiping Anna’s eyes. “Let’s go back to Grandma’s house and get the snow cones. We’ll take them to your mother’s grave tonight. Forget what I said about the yellow snow. It was stupid.”

She sniffles and nods her head. “Okay, Daddy. Is it still okay for me to like lemon?”

“Of course,” I say. “You’ve made me love it.”

❄❄❄

Final Echoes of Winter CoverWant more FREE stories of the season?

Return to the holiday story hop or download Echoes of Winter, a collection of YA winter tales.

Book 1: Twelve Days to Christmas by L.A. Starkey
Book 2: Christmas Seasoning by DB Nielsen
Book 3: Merry Chris Witch by CK Dawn
Book 4: Wrapped in the Past by Chess Desalls
Book 5: Butterflies in the Snow by D.E.L. Connor
Book 6: The Darkest Night of the Year by Tim Hemlin
Book 7: Cold Hearth by Kelly Hall
Book 8: Code X by W.J. May
Book 9: Good Saint Nick by Lu J Whitley
Book 10: Soaring by K.K. Allen
Book 11: A Spirit’s Last Gift by Kathy-Lynn Cross
Book 12: Winter Trials by K.S. Marsden
Book 13: The Edge by Fleur Camacho