Home > Book, Flash Fiction, Writing > Pot Holders

Pot Holders

It is amazing the effect that the receipt of good news has on you. My wife has mentioned it, something about being bright eyed and in a good mood, and other people are smiling at me as they walk by. If you know me very well then you realize that this is kind of creepy for me so we will see how long the glow of good news lasts. However, for now it must be obvious.

I read a submission call for stories and misread it. It was one year too old and I didn’t read the year carefully enough. So, the anthology wasn’t open anymore. Feeling very stupid, since I had actually written a much longer story anyway, I began to sub it as a stand alone to publishers who might be interested in a novella.

I have received a request to publish and a contract to sign.

Yes, I am dancing on the inside. After a very long dry streak in terms of stories published this is a big boost to the old ego. This isn’t a regular serial or a specific anthology. Someone liked my work enough to want to publish it as a stand alone. I will be getting the opportunity to work with an editor to make something wonderful and I am excited.

I won’t say which story or what publisher until the contract is finished, but I am way to excited not to share a little bit now. In all truth, if it hasn’t been signed and mailed back by the time this is posted you should be surprised. It is difficult to curb your enthusiasm enough to be professional but I am trying.

I am just failing.

L. E. White

Pot Holders

As I lifted the wrench up beside his head, a pair of dark green eyes shifted, watching its movement. “Are you sure about this,” he asked.

“Yes I am.” I put the socket over the hexagonal head of the bolt and began to tighten it into place. “If we don’t get this heap moving in a few minutes the life support system is going to fail. With the size of this ship, we will freeze to death from loss of heat before we suffocate from stale air, but I don’t want to wait around and feel that happen if I can help it.”

I was lying. I had no idea if this would work or not, but considering our options, the explosion that would indicate failure seemed better than a slow death. I had already escaped a slow death once and that meant that I was sure I didn’t want to press that luck again.

“So,” he said while doing his best to hold the heavy reflector in place. “Explain to me how this works.”

“I already explained this once.”

“Yeah, but hearing you do it makes me feel better.”

I glanced down at his smooth scalp, noticing that a little stubble was beginning to show, and frowned as I continued to tighten the bolt. I couldn’t help but be a little annoyed. He was far too simple minded to have been included on a hauling mission into deep space. Jack lacked the intelligence to be a multipurpose officer on a ship, but that didn’t mean that it would hurt me to make him feel better anyway.

“With the engine down, we have to build another generator. Since we don’t have any way to collect fissionable material for the normal reactors, we have to come up with something else. Therefore, we are going to build a dark matter gravity reactor inside of the broken anti-matter reactor.” I moved to the other side and started tightening those bolts.

“So we are going to catch some of the dark matter that is around us?”

“Yes, then we can force it to spin inside of this reactor core by positioning these pot holders around it.”

He frowned. “Pot holders? You didn’t mention pot holders the last time we went over this.”

“Pot holders are a nickname for these white light matter reflectors that we are putting up.”

Jack nodded and closed his mouth so that I could hear his lips clap together. I grinned, wondering again why the union had accepted this guy. “Anyway, all we have to do is turn them on and keep floating. Dark matter moves through all of the normal forms of matter that we know of. It will move through the ship but it will get caught inside the generator when we kick the reflectors on.”

He nodded again and lowered his arms with an exaggerated sigh.  “Good thing we turned the grav down huh?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Good thing.”

We worked for another fifteen minutes before the reactor was ready. I did what tests I could but eventually all we could do was cross our fingers and hope that it worked.

“Are you ready,” I asked. “I am about to fire up the aft side.”

Jack nodded.

“Alright then, cross your fingers.”

I put my hand on to the console and placed my finger over the button. Before I touched it, I glanced over at Jack and saw that he really had crossed his fingers.

The fear washed over me like the waves of the ocean I had seen as a child. It slammed into me the way the water had smacked into the bottom of the cliff I had been standing on.

I wasn’t afraid of dying. I wasn’t afraid of pain or slow death, although I would prefer to die both quickly and painlessly. It took a moment for me to realize it, but I was afraid I would let Jack down. That simple man with his trusting smile and slow mind was the source of the fear that was making my finger tremble. Seeing his look of disappointment was the thing that I was afraid of.

“You don’t have your fingers crossed,” he said.

I looked over at him. Jack was smiling at me and holding up his closest hand, displaying his fingers, one over the other.

I held up my other hand and moved the middle finger over the index. Jack nodded and turned back so that his head rested against his seat.

I closed my eyes, took one deep breath, and pressed the button.

Categories: Book, Flash Fiction, Writing
  1. March 5, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    Congratulations on your contract! 😀

    • March 25, 2014 at 12:24 PM

      I screwed up and didn’t reply to you when I read that comment on my phone.

      Thank you Brandon. I appreciate it.

  1. March 8, 2014 at 7:50 AM

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