This week’s prompt went a bit off track due to a memory glitch.
For Freida, the historical reenactments and costumes only felt like going home.
I read the prompts and thought this one could be fun and let it stew in the back of my mind for a while. I knew that I didn’t want to go the obvious route, immortal being of some kind. I thought perhaps a time traveler might work, which lead to me thinking of where such traveler might feel at home. An idea was forming as I drove home. I sat down shortly after getting home and started typing.
When I pulled the MOTE page up and saw that I had misremembered the prompt I decided to go with the story idea I had, figuring that the point behind the prompts was to get stories told, that they didn’t necessarily have to contain the exact phrasing of the prompt – right?
Frieda settled back against the wall, sketchbook on her lap, and watched the flow of people swirling around her. To some people science fiction conventions were jokes; stereotypes bumping against clichés. To her they were bittersweet. The cosplayers and some of the mock battles they staged reminded her of times long passed. The memories were painful at times, but also perversely comforting. Going home was out of the question so she sought familiarity where she could, even if it was make-believe.
She ran a hand through her scarlet mane and watched an X-Wing pilot from the Rebel Alliance talking to a Colonial Viper pilot, they were too far away to hear the conversation but she could imagine they were discussing flight maneuvers. They paused and gave death glares as Stormtroopers walked past. On the other side of the lobby a Narn warrior was having an animated discussion with a Klingon. She pulled out her pencils and started drawing.
Freida was so absorbed in her work that she barely noticed the person come up next to her. “You shouldn’t be … here.” She jumped and turned in her seat, flushing. A young woman dressed as some kind of Fae gave her an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I was just admiring your work.”
“Wha … what did you mean I shouldn’t be here.”
“Oh, I meant out here,” the Fae waved a hand at the lobby area. “You should be in the artists’ room.”
“Oh, I’m just here as a fan. I’m not a member or anything.”
“You should be. Oh, I’m Daisy.” She waved her wand in greeting and scattered bits of glitter around. “I love what you did here. Hey, Garve, come over here.” She waved at the Klingon.
The burly figure stalked over and came to stand on Freida’s other side to peer at the sketch pad. He grunted approval at the image of a Klingon officer glowering at the viewer from the bridge of a Bird of Prey. It bore a strong resemblance to him except this warrior bore battle scars on his face that Garve had never thought to add to his make-up. “I like it. Will you sell it to me?”
Freida blushed. “I’m not set up to sell anything …” she trailed off. “I just came to see if I could get a few sketches done.
Garve nodded. “May I take an image then?” He reached into a hidden pocket and pulled out a phone.
Frieda shook her head and carefully detached the page from the page. “A photo would not capture the heart.” She held the page out to him. “From one artist to another. You did a wonderful job on your uniform and make-up.”
Garve straightened up and gave her a crisp salute. “You honor my house. You will, of course sign it so we may properly give honor.”
She smiled, wrote a short phase in Klingon, signed the page and handed it to him. Garve and Daisy wandered off and Frieda returned to watching the people.
A group of Royal Manticoran Marines formed a flying wedge around some VIP and made their way through a Star Gate team into a conference room. She didn’t have the heart to tell them that they had the unit patch wrong. It was a small mistake, and only someone … well hardly anyone would notice.
She noticed a young looking member of the Anla’Shok stood near a pillar, watching the people move around him. She picked up her pencil and started drawing. That pillar became a crystal wall from Minbar and he looked a little older, but it was undeniably the same man. He stepped away from the pillar, glancing briefly in her direction then turned and walked towards the elevator. She finished the sketch and flipped over the page.
In a back corner she could just see Garve talking to someone. He really did like to talk with his hands. A couple of minutes later a small group of people dressed as a classic Star Trek landing party came over.
“Excuse me, ma’am.” A lieutenant in science blue stepped forward. “Garve showed us the piece you did of him. Could you do something like that for us? We’d be happy to pay a fair rate.”
Freida pressed a finger to her lips and studied them for a long moment. “I think …” she paused and smiled as an image almost formed behind them, “yes, I think I can.” She nodded. “Mingle here, be natural.”
They smiled and stepped back a few feet and started to “investigate” their surroundings. The science officer even pulled out his tricorder and started scanning.
She caught the young yeoman and her apparent boy-friend laughing and flirting as they worked; their superiors would not be pleased but as long as they got their jobs done it would be overlooked. The specimen the biologist found would prove very interesting, as long as it didn’t turn out to be dangerous – it was hard to tell at this point.
Freida looked up to see the landing party staring open mouthed at the picture. “Ah, miss, how much do we owe?” The yeoman asked.
“What are your names?”
“You want our names, or our character names?” The third member of their party shyly asked.
Freida pointed at the image with her pencil. “Tell me who they really are.”
“I’m Scott, aka Lt. Peters,” the science officer answered.
“Kim, Yeoman Bridget.
“Alan, Ensign Yu.”
Freida wrote “Exploring new worlds” underneath their names, signed it and gently tore the page off. She held it up to Scott. “As the senior officer, I place it in your care. If you have a high resolution scanner you can send copies to your crew-mates. It is my gift, keep your dreams and,” she glanced at Kim, “finish school. Space really isn’t so far away that you can’t reach it.”
They walked away a moment later shocked and dumbfounded.
Freida went back to watching people. She smiled at the Kzin, they were hard to capture. The Hani crew member drew a double take. Her final image lacked the notch in the ear and was sporting two more rings in the other ear. A little reconstructive surgery could do wonders for a girl’s mindset, as could the faint towering image of a Hani male in background.
A soft cough drew her attention to a member of the Dorsai Irregulars standing a few feet away. “Ma’am, you’re not supposed to be selling here in the lobby.”
Freida flinched and showed her the pad. “I’m not selling. I’m just sitting here drawing. I’ve given away a few pictures, but they were gifts.”
The Dorsai crossed her arms and glowered at Freida. “You’re drawing attention.”
Freida shrank beneath the glare. These people understood her images. They didn’t ask about the subtle difference between them and the images; didn’t ask how she knew what else to put in. Behind the woman Feida saw soaring cliffs and barren ground and wondered if she knew why she wanted to be Dorsai. “Would you … I mean do you want to see some?” She held up the pad.
The woman continued staring at her for a long moment then slowly reached for the pad. As she looked at the pad her expression softened. “I see why that Trek crowd was so excited. These are very good. Why aren’t you in the artists’ room?”
“I ah, I like watching the people out here.” She looked across the room and saw a young man come out of the conference room and lean against the wall. She started quickly sketching in her spare pad. The wall became a star ship hull and beside him was a powered armor suit.
The Lady Dorsai watched the image form, her eyebrows rising up to her hairline. “Wow.”
“Thanks. Shame his girl didn’t wait for him. But he’ll do better than her.”
“Okay, I’ll leave you alone, for now. Try not to attract any more attention.”
“I will, I promise.” Freida smiled and half ducked. She really didn’t want the attention.
Lady Dorsai wandered away with one backward glance and a quick look at the Mobil Infantry Corporal.
Freida went back to watching and sketching. As the day wore on her pad slowly filled. The dragonrider with the animated firelizard was easy, his mindmate less so. The blue was a little shy. The monster hunters were not so easy; there was so much darkness that wanted to follow them.
She glanced up as someone dressed in the uniform of the Galactic Patrol slowly advanced. She sighed and put her pad down. The gem on his wrist gleamed with a light hardly seen in costumes.
“Freida, you shouldn’t be here.” He gave her an apologetic look but the voice was politely firm.
“I’m not hurting anyone. I’m just sitting here.”
“You’ve given away a couple of pieces and shown others to people. You know they aren’t supposed to know.”
“I can’t help what I see.” She waved at the crowd that flowed past them. “Cardasia, Barrayar, Proxima-3, Haven.” She pointed to unassuming people that walked past. “These don’t question. They simply appreciate the art.”
“The rules exist for a reason, Freida.”
“Bah, you Lensmen and your rules. Showing someone their dreams doesn’t hurt anyone.” Freida protested but she turned to pack her tools.
“Showing them solid proof of the dream can make them question where the dream comes from. Questions become investigation, which leads to experiments. Some cultures are not ready for the truth. That’s why the rules don’t allow for too much questioning.” His tone was firm but his expression showed sympathy. “If you would just leave out the backgrounds.”
“Fine, fine.” She finished packing and glared at him. “Someday I’m going to do your portrait.” She headed for the doors and took one last look over her shoulders at the castle wall the loomed over them.
If you liked this why not hop over to More Odds than Ends and read more.
Feeling the slightest bit creative? Grab a spare prompt and join in the fun. Or send in a prompt (email@example.com) and get one in return. The result could be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essay, vignette, art… whatever your prompt sparks for you.