Tales of the Storage Space, Part 62

Imogene only looked up from her phone when her father at last drew blood.

“Like mother like daughter, always on the fucking phone!”

She like blinked at his like tight, faded face while licking the blood off her lip, then past him at her mother like curled up on the coach, ignoring Imogene’s latest beating as usual. It was bible; she only had eyes for her own phone. Real Life really sucked.

Her father like shoved his face inches from Imogene’s, blotting out her view of anything else. “So…you going to remember…tomorrow!…to bring me back that stuff I gave you to keep safe?”

Imogene like thought anything was better than his booze breath till he like pulled back to backhand her so hard she reached up to check her teeth. One felt loose. “Like, yeah, Dad, tomorrow! I promise!”

His face was like back in hers. “Don’t…fucking…forget!” But then he went back to the coach to sit next to her def-not-woke mother, who was all covered with bruises and shit and still busy with her phone.

Imogene looked down at her own phone to find like a million messages, like all sorry about the beating, but only really read the last.

^URSunPC&proud: UOK?

WTFwasImogeneCoca: Tooth loose!!!

^URSunPC&proud: Zayum! Don’t wiggle it. Might unloose.

WTFwasImogeneCoca: < cray cray ugly.

^URSunPC&proud: U? No! Never saw u RL but know u better than RL here. Def as lit/popping as party you cudn’t go to.

WTFwasImogeneCoca: Wud hv met u there?

^URSunPC&proud: RL? I mean real Real Life? RL=bad. RL spoils all. Here=better/safe. If u’d gone 2 party I’d hv stayed home.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 61

The Storage Space was enthralled, simply enthralled. Every remaining bit of the Grand Old Theatre it used to be was thrilled to see this old woman in a bathrobe, yet it was sure…very sure…that this particular woman had never before set foot in it.

What still remained of the grand old stage was most unhappily relegated to a mean space under the hideous metal staircase that connected what was now the second floor to the third. But it settled and creaked like a drowsy cat about to purr happily at the sight of its mistress entering the room.

A once-exquisite carving of Romeo’s Juliet, now ignobly hidden under Unit 38, came to life as if freshly polished and warmed by the sun. “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” seemed to whisper through the metal floor above it, lending the tacky 20th century carvings stored in Unit 38 a hint of much-needed elegance.

Even the heavy curtain lever Karen had used to kill Le Grand Rat managed to clatter across the floor of her storage unit in glee…or had the corpse pushed it with some kind of cadaveric spasm?

“Here, let me help you. I brought some of the bandaging that was used on me.”

That voice! That exquisitely beautiful, so easily recognized voice! The entire Storage Space swayed in happiness, so pronounced that even Karen and the old woman who’d spoken looked up, a bit startled, and steadied themselves.

All was happiness. All was joy. Even the one the Storage Space usually didn’t care to think about was a welcome addition as he started with “summer’s day” and went on to wax eloquent with every tender word Shakespeare ever wrote.

But then there was something, someone else, skittering along the walls and oozing out of mean little holes everywhere. Something that sent a shudder of terror through the whole Storage Space that even the humans again felt. Something that was the absolute incarnation of evil.

Check out my newly released sci fi novella, Ships!

SHIPS:  Yet another sci fi novella I had a lot of fun writing, though this one’s a bit of a “soft” sci fi…slipstream, as they call it…with large parts set in present time and ordinary circumstances that are equally accessible to non-sci-fi readers.  (Still, along with my usual snarky/politically incorrect humor, it’s got some very alien aliens.)

Again, it will be featured on a big banner at this May’s SFWA Nebula Awards Conference.  The blurb’s below, and the Kindle version’s a mere 99 cents here.

Gorgeous, and born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth, Veronica Hamilton has never had to interrupt her dreamy sentimentality to question her cultural snobbery or even whether or not that diagnosis of Asperger’s was accurate.  But that was before her fabulously wealthy CEO husband framed her for the murders he committed.  Now she’s fleeing across “fly-over” America with the pedal to the metal of her burgundy-upholstered Rolls.

Meanwhile, barreling toward Earth, Histus is suffering from extreme sensory deprivation because he no longer has a body.  But his gas-giant home planet has been annihilated, and the only way to survive was to upload his consciousness into his crippled ship.

What could these two have in common?  Oh, and incidentally, will they save the planet Earth?

“Hugo-nominated Sue Hollister Barr has written a gripping story peopled with believable and sympathetically drawn characters who are lost and adrift, whether in the panoramic landscape of Kansas or deep space.  She explores how we are all so caught up in our pasts and prejudices that we lose the capacity for true communication.”

Harrison Park, Author

“Sue Hollister Barr’s Ships references Longfellow’s ships that pass in the night, but in this case one ship is a huge alien vessel, and the other is the planet Earth.  And they don’t pass unseen.  Raucous, witty humor and intriguing characters (including disembodied aliens, a trophy wife wanted for murder and the denizens of a tiny Kansas town) make for a wonderfully fun, and in places quite beautiful, read.”

Sondra Fink, Psycho-Girl.Com

“A rollercoaster through such delights as slimy bosses, bad sex, and the question of compassion for minds that are, literally, worlds apart.”

Alexandra Price, Science Writer

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 60

Amelia regretted asking the woman who worked at the storage space for any kind of help the minute that woman picked her head up off the counter and looked up, showing a face full of injuries and tears, but it couldn’t be helped.  What was it about this neighborhood?  Amelia had just seen a beaten-up and pregnant teenager get into a cab.  The poor thing was still vomiting from morning sickness despite a pregnancy advanced enough to show.  Amelia herself had just barely escaped being strangled to death by a mad man who, probably only because he’d let his Rottweiler “Q” outside to pee, had been killed by an extraordinarily handsome young man.  Then this last man, with dazzling green eyes, had died of his own injuries.  But they weren’t why Amelia had walked back to this particular storage space building in the mad man’s bathrobe.

She considered the storage space’s employee behind the counter, then leaned over to brush some blonde hair out of the woman’s tears before asking, “Has anyone been asking after a petulant young woman with dark hair and a nervous tic that twitches her lips?  I’m truly sorry to trouble you at such a time, and I’m sorry I don’t know her last name, but I think she has a storage unit here, and her first name was Jennifer.”

The blonde woman wrinkled her brow in confusion and pulled back from her side of the counter, looking for all the world like she’d been so distracted by her own problems that she’d forgotten she worked there.  Finally she glanced around, eyes widening at the counter between them as if she’d never seen it before, and appeared to get her bearings.  “Why?”

Amelia’s heart was heavy.  She couldn’t help feeling disloyal to poor, dead Jennifer.  Originally Amelia had protected Jennifer by lying to the police that she hadn’t been in that storage space building on a night when she really had, after seeing Jennifer mouth something to herself about being innocent.  Amelia had believed her, the poor thing.  But now that Jennifer was dead and could no longer be hurt by anything…  “The murder that was reported here…”  Amelia looked down at the dingy floor, still unable to shake the irrational feeling that she was being disloyal.  “You must know about it, working here and all.  I need to speak to someone about Jennifer.  I…I may have told the police something about her that wasn’t correct, that might get in the way of their tracking down the real killer.”

Finally Amelia forced herself to look back up at the woman.  Okay, it certainly wasn’t a pleasant subject, but she wasn’t at all prepared for the look of abject fear on the blonde’s face.