Writing and Other Afflictions

"If it was easy, everyone would do it." –Jimmy Dugan, "A League of Their Own"

Tag Archives: flash

Flash Fic Challenge #4: Live And Let Die

(Months. Months have gone by. So sorry about that.)

  1. Live and Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings. These last four songs are so close that really, you could shuffle them into any order. I had each of the top three in the #1 spot at one time or another in the course of making these rankings, and you can make a legit case for McCartney’s entry as well. This was the first Roger Moore movie, one of the better ones (except for the Southern sheriff), and the theme song just crackles. It doesn’t include a callout to the Bond theme, but it’s a terrific song, one of the best of the Wings era, and one of the best in this collection.

From MI6-HQ.com: “Live and Let Die” was the last Paul McCartney single on Apple Records that was credited only to “Wings” (because the B-side, “I Lie Around,” was sung not by Paul but by Wings guitarist Denny Laine). Despite its first LP appearance on the 1973 soundtrack album, “Live And Let Die” was not featured on a Paul McCartney album until the Wings Greatest compilation in 1978. “Live and Let Die” was the first James Bond theme song to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song (which gave Paul his second Academy Award nomination and Linda her first), but it lost to the theme song from “The Way We Were”.

Fiction: Live and Let Die

Nobody can sneak up on you on a bridge. Dana had learned that from her father, before the old man went off south to the land of milk and honey. So Dana now slept midway across the Brooklyn Bridge off the main track, wrapped in a black sleeping bag so that even in the full moon, he’d appear to be just a pile of refuse. She kept her Weisskopf at her side in case she needed it, her walking stick tucked between the bag and the concrete rim.

Few enough people came across the bridge, mostly slackers who didn’t believe that the street wars had emptied Manhattan of any food. It had enough food for millions of people, they reasoned, and it can’t all be gone in fifteen short years. But Dana had seen the bosses directing their men to clear the roads, the big rumbling trucks heading out. She’d seen the fires at night grow fewer and fewer and finally go out, all save for herself and a hundred or so others who scraped by on what fishing they could do in the water. Everyone had a spot and the skill to fight for it, and Dana’s was close to the Brooklyn Bridge, a short concrete jetty on the Brooklyn side.

But it was daytime, all five of her fishing rods set and baited, when the stranger arrived. He whistled his way across the bridge, making it clear that he didn’t intend to sneak up on anyone. Dana stood anyway, the Weisskopf at her belt, stick in her hand. “Ho,” she said as he approached.

“Greetings.” The man wore a thick orange hoodie with the word “Clemson” on the front and patched black jeans. His voice was rich and deep as the weathered tan on his face above his thick white beard.

“This spot’s taken,” Dana said, her voice rusty from disuse, “and I’m not looking for a partner.”

The fellow whistled again affably and shook his head. “Nor I.”

“There’s no food to be had.”

“Your rosy cheeks tell a different story.”

She let the stick lean forward and dropped her hand to the middle of it. “There’s fish and things from this spot. And this spot is mine.”

“So you said.” He raised his hands, palms out. “I only wish to look through the apartments yonder there.” He pointed past her, to the low buildings of Brooklyn.

“Scavenger.” She relaxed her grip on the stick (though she kept the other hand on her knife) and gestured with it back to Manhattan. “You’ve gone past the prime scavenging ground.”

“Yes, yes.” He didn’t look behind him. “Some of the scavengers there are none too friendly, so I’ve come over this way.”

Scavengers rooted through individual homes, where the food would long since have spoiled, for things they deemed valuable. Most of the time those were guns, with enough ammunition for maybe ten or twenty shots before they became useless. It had been over a year since Dana had heard a gunshot. “There’s a supply store right around that tall elm.” She pointed. “Good fishing rods, if you want to go up the river. Might be some fishing spots twenty, thirty miles up.”

“I’m not much for fishing.” Now he turned and she could see the backpack he wore, green army color.

“There’s no bow and arrow in that one, but I think Rainy said she found bow and arrow to the east.”

His lips curved in a gap-toothed smile. “I know what I’m after, girl.”

She did, too. “Even if you find it,” she said, “what are you going to do? Start another street war?”

“I’ve no score to settle with you. So will you let me pass?”

She tightened her grip on the Weisskopf handle, but he just bowed his head to her and made a wide, non-threatening circle around her spot. Nevertheless, she watched him all the way down the ramp and into the underbrush, and she kept her eyes on that spot for most of the day.

Two days and part of a night later, she woke under a half-moon to three far-off pops, which stopped the coyotes from howling and then, moments later, set them all off again. Dana stayed awake most of the rest of that night, but nothing else interrupted the songs of the street dogs.

The next day, a man emerged from the underbrush headed for the bridge, a young man with a black beard and pale complexion wearing an orange hoodie with the word “Clemson” on it. He nodded to Dana as he skirted her spot and stepped onto the bridge, and Dana nodded back, ignoring the bloodstains on the hoodie. After all, it wasn’t any of her business. She had fish to catch.

Advertisements

Fifteen Minutes of Bond

Ranking the Bond theme songs and doing a little flash fic of each…

15. Tomorrow Never Dies, Sheryl Crow. It’s a fine song, and I guess it works with the movie in that it would work with just about any movie. Crow is a good choice as a Bond songstress; her work is often terrifically atmospheric and evocative of a place or feeling, which should be perfect for Bond. But she doesn’t quite nail the Bond aesthetic here. It’s not her worst song by a long shot, but just listening to the rest of her work, I feel like she could’ve come up with something more personal to say about Bond.

Fiction: Tomorrow Never Dies

We were going to be in the spaceship for two years, give or take a month: nine months for the Mag drive to spin up to full speed, three months to cover the three hundred and fifty light-years to our destination, and then another nine months for the drive to spin down. Then two to four months for verification of the probe’s evaluation of our colony planet, deployment of the dome, and so on.

Most of the colonists were in deep freeze, so to them the trip would last for one long night; they would go to sleep and wake up tomorrow at their destination. Roy, Ai, Sveta, and me were the skeleton crew, mostly awake in case something happened to the corpsicles, because if something happened to the ship it would happen so fast there was fuck-all we could do about it. Mag drive failures were documented in picoseconds. They tended to be spectacular and devastating and, fortunately, quite rare.

One of the things we learned on the ship is that we had total control of time. The ship’s lights were cycled to an Earth day, but Ai had been a hacker in her early days, so it wasn’t long before we’d reset the lights to be under our control, not to mention unlocked what was supposed to be a celebratory Welcome-To-Our-New-Home dinner. Giddy on champagne and the twenty-sixth hour of daylight, we almost imagined that tomorrow had come, that we had arrived at the planet and that soon enough, everyone would be waking around us.

And then Roy, Ai, and Sveta went off to bed and left me alone in charge of everything. This had been our standard practice ever since we’d figured out that the three of them were straight and I wasn’t, meaning that I had nothing to offer them in bed, and vice versa. Carelessness on the part of New Wave Colonies, who had undoubtedly selected two men and two women for the voyage on the premise that we’d pair off during the two years.

I decided to leave the lights on for as long as I could. There were stimulants in my locker, unending coffee on the flight deck, and I didn’t even have to go to sleep when the others woke up. If I never went to sleep, then today would be tomorrow and we would eventually arrive at the planet.

Ai had opened up the registry of the colonists for us to peruse during our trip–if you think the library of a hundred thousand books was more attractive than snooping on your fellow passengers, then you’re a better man than I. I skimmed through hundreds of entries looking for single guys, people who might be gay and around my type when we landed (if New Wave had a sexuality question on their application, I wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with). Sort of like a very one-sided online dating service.

One guy caught my attention. Three years younger than me, not attached, pretty cute, and he was a poet. I kept coming back to him, and the more I saw him looking out of the screen at me, the more certain I was that not only was he gay, he was gay for me. I became convinced that I could actually wake him up. There had to be something in the cryo mechanisms in case of emergency. What if, what if (I reasoned with myself) another probe found a better world closer while we were en route? We had backup destinations, so why couldn’t we have an alternate if new information came in?

Well, because once the Mag drive spun up we would be out of contact, but that wouldn’t happen for another five months and two weeks and three days. And besides, wasn’t my sexual frustration an emergency? Who knew what I would do if I had to endure two years of this? I read paragraphs of the cryo documentation over and over again.

The next thing I knew, Sveta was shaking me by the shoulder and it was tomorrow and we still were not at our home. Five hundred tomorrows to go. But I could always try again today.