13 November 2012

Heading to the spaceport

Yet another excerpt:

            Fourteen and a half minutes later, Rex banged on the window of the Beetle. Violet unlocked the doors and he jumped in, tossing his backpack and a duffle bag in the back seat.
            “Be careful!” Violet yelped. “Mr. Skittles is back there!”
            “You brought your cat?”
            “I had to! I don’t know how long this is going to take!” Violet shot back. “I couldn’t just leave him.” She headed north. Once on the highway, she asked, “So what did you tell your mom?”
            Rex coughed slightly. “Don’t be mad, okay?”
            “Why would I be mad?” Violet asked, puzzled.
            He sighed. “I told her we were dating and I would probably be spending the night in your dorm room this whole week.”
            “What?! Rex Thompson!” she yelled.
            “I said don’t be mad!”
            “I cannot believe you,” Violet grumbled.
            “I can’t believe you,” Rex countered. “You’re going to try to break into an alien spaceport and you care if my mother thinks you’re my girlfriend?”
            “Point taken,” Violet said. “But come on. Ew.”
            Rex shook his head. “Unbelievable.”
            They drove on. A little over an hour later, they reached the turn-off from the main highway.
            “Mercury Highway?” Rex laughed. “That’s got to be an alien joke.” Violet just shrugged.
            “I guess it means we’re going the right way,” she said, gripping the steering wheel. She could feel her nervousness increasing. What if they couldn’t get on the base? What if they were breaking some alien law and they got thrown in alien jail? Would that be worse than Earth jail?
            “Violet,” Rex said, breaking her out of her thoughts. He reached across the seat and rubbed her shoulders. “It’s okay.”
            Finally, they pulled up to the guard station. Violet rolled down her window.
            “Just like at McDonalds,” Rex whispered.
            “I never eat at McDonalds,” Violet hissed.
            They heard a hiccup from the guard station. A head poked out of the window, and a flashlight shined in their faces.
            “Identification, please,” the guard intoned. Violet wrinkled her nose at the smell. She glanced at Rex, who shrugged and pulled his driver’s license from his wallet. Violet handed her license over, too.
            “I need your planet of origin cards,” the guard said.
            “This is our planet of origin,” Violet said shakily. The flashlight shined in their eyes again.
            “What the…?” he said. “You’re from Earth?”
            “Yes…” Violet replied. She started getting nervous again.
            “We’re visiting her godfather, Berkeley Waters,” Rex called from across the car. “He’s meeting us at the spaceport.”
            “Oh,” the guard said. He sounded noticeably relieved. His voice suddenly changed. “Hey, is that cat for sale?”
            “Uh, no,” Violet said quickly. “It’s a present. For my godfather, you know.”
            “Worth a shot,” the guard said. Violet squinted up at him, trying to read his nametag.
            “Could you please let us in now, Mr. Ninford?” she asked.
            “Oh, yeah,” he said, scratching his armpit. “Force field’s down. Go right ahead. Follow the signs for parking, and then get on the walkway to get to the shuttle.”
            “Thank you!” Violet called as they drove through. She rolled up the window, and both she and Rex burst into laughter.
            “I am pretty sure that alien was drunk,” Violet laughed.
            “I can’t believe we got in!” Rex gasped. “We’re going to go to space! Like, for real, outer space.” They looked at each other, grinning like maniacs. 

Hash browns?

Here's another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo work. I'm too tired to write, but copying and pasting seemed like a surmountable task.

            Berkeley was awoken by housekeeping banging on his door at nine o’clock. “Housekeeping” appeared to be a loosely applied term in this hotel; the maid wore jeans and was in the process of smoking a cigarette while she eyed him saucily from the doorway. Berkeley had fallen asleep fully dressed, so he picked up his bag and left after asking the maid if he’d missed the complimentary breakfast. She was still laughing when he walked out the door.
            Back on the road, he stopped for a fast food sandwich. It was highly unsatisfying, but it filled his stomach. He made a notation in his travel notebook. This morning, his hand was perfectly still. Berkeley felt confident again as he sped toward the shuttlefield for the spaceport. The squat buildings of the supposed Earthling military base were barely visible up ahead. A high electrified fence surrounded the complex; its only point of entry was marked by a small guard station with a yellow mechanical arm blocking the road. Berkeley knew the yellow arm was just for show in case an Earthling tried to access the spaceport; an invisible force field was the true means of keeping people out of Area 51. Pulling up to the small hut, he held out his credentials to the guard, who looked bored. Berkeley also switched off his white-vision cufflinks; they were unnecessary here.
            “Berkeley Waters,” he announced to the guard, handing him his Earth identification card, his planet-of-origin identification card, and a hefty amount of Martian currency. The guard, who Berkeley could tell was originally from Mercury from his dark skin tone, raised an eyebrow at the pile of bills.
            “I’m looking for a kidnapper,” Berkeley informed him in hushed tones. “Someone abducted an Earthling woman Friday night, and I’m tracking him down. What do you know?” 
            “Look, how many times have you been here?” the guard asked him sarcastically. “You prove you’re extraterrestrial, we let you in. I don’t check the trunks or nothing. It’s not my job to see if people are smuggling things into the spaceport. Talk to Customs.” He started to slide the window of his station closed, but Berkeley persisted.
            “Come on,” he pressed. “Anything out of the ordinary the past two nights?”
            The guard shook his head. “I wasn’t even on duty then. I’ve been off since Thursday. You want to talk with Ninford, he did nights this weekend.”
            Berkeley scribbled the name down. “Where can I find him?” he asked eagerly. The guard stared at him. Berkeley rolled his eyes and fished around the backseat of his car.
            “Energy drink?” he offered the guard. “I hear they’re pretty good.” The Mercurial accepted the drink. Berkeley waited patiently to hear Ninford’s whereabouts. The guard gave him the same blank stare.
            Berkeley looked wildly around his car. He hadn’t completely finished his breakfast. He crossed his greelae, hoping the guard liked Earthling fast food.
            “Hash browns?” he asked.

06 November 2012

NaNoWriMo Time

It's November, which for some people means no shaving, and for me means participating in National Novel Writing Month. Writing a novel (original fiction of at least 50,000 words) is something I've always wanted to do, and NaNoWriMo has helped me meet my goal the past two years. Here's an excerpt from the first 5,000 words of this year's novel, a sci-fi romp titled Berkeley Waters, Intergalactic Detective:

            Berkeley got up and paced around the small room. Ordinarily, he would be doing paperwork for various cases he had coming up. Alien tourists on Earth were always getting into trouble over currency, personal space, and parking tickets. There was usually no shortage of extraterrestrials to shepherd through Earth’s legal system. Granted, many of them skipped atmosphere without ever showing up in court, but they knew they wouldn’t get back on land if they had outstanding legal problems. And for most members of the Sol System, visiting a planet that was completely ignorant of the rest of the universe was too good to pass up.
            He sighed. Janet was too efficient at the paperwork. Everything was finished, and now he had no new cases. Usually on a day like this, he’d be looking into more serious crimes ignored by the Earthling policemen, but his case against the Verbanski brothers of Jupiter was going nowhere, and he was in no mood to be frustrated. It was already a frustrating kind of day. He woke up on the wrong side of the bed, as the Earthlings said. He was out of toothpaste, which made no sense because he had plenty the night before. He suspected he was eating it in his sleep. Mint was one of his favorite Earth flavors. But in his sleep, he couldn’t taste it. What a waste.
            Then he had come to work and failed to enjoy coffee for the hundred and ninety-first day in a row. Janet wasn’t wearing anything especially provocative, and was extra snippy with him for making her work on a Saturday. His contact at the spaceport never replied to his supra-e-mail about a potential sighting of a known catnapper from Venus. And finally, it was another sunny day in Las Vegas. He was tired of sunny days. He wondered how much trouble he would get into for taking his little planet-hopper through the clouds to sow some rain crystals over Nevada. He was in the middle of calculating how far away from the spaceport he’d need to be to avoid detection when his computer beeped. It had taken a few modifications to be able to receive supra-e-mail on an Earth computer, but it was well worth the trouble. He eagerly read the mail, but his face fell as soon as he realized it wasn’t about the rogue catnapper.

04 November 2012

Fried Pickles, or The Most Forgetful Weekend of My Life

First off, here's a picture of The Reynolds Tribe's first Halloween in Laramie: 

That bright shiny ribbon was attached to a balloon that Sister Williams gave to us. It's still floating around our house!

My parents had a lot of extra time share points this year, and they generously offered to use some of them so that we could have a mini-vacation. So we spent the weekend in Estes Park, Colorado, at the Historic Crags Lodge. As always, my job is to pack, and Ryan loads everything in the car. We left our house around 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, feeling good about our weekend. We were about five miles away from Fort Collins, our first stop, when I realized we forgot to bring a stroller or a baby carrier to transport Benjy around for the weekend. Strike one for Kara. We did a little shopping and eating in Fort Collins, and called some of our old college friends who were still in the area until we found someone able to loan us a stroller. The Brinks are our HEROES.
We headed up to Estes Park and checked into the lodge. The friendly lady at the front desk handed me our room key, and then gave me the code to the swimming pool gate.
"Isn't the pool closed?" I asked. "I thought the website said it closed on November 1st."
"It used to," she informed me cheerily. "But we just built a brand new heated pool and spa, and they are open year round." I didn't pack our swimsuits. Strike two for Kara.
We had a two bedroom suite with a mini kitchen all to ourselves. It was decorated in a charmingly rustic style that we all loved.

The wardrobe in Sam's room

Even the toilet paper holder was faux-logs!

We spent Saturday morning walking around downtown, looking at cool shops. While Ben took a nap after lunch, the rest of us explored the lodge. A wedding was being held there that night, so the dining room was beautifully decorated. We couldn't go in the pool, but the hotel had a bunch of FunNoodles and a water ball, so we played with those instead.

The view from the lodge. The big white building is the famous Stanley Hotel, where the movie The Shining was filmed.

After Ben woke up, we decided to go geocaching around town. Both of the caches ended up being kid-unfriendly: one on a busy road, the other a hundred feet or more up the side of a "mountain". I found both on my own, so I still count the trip as a success. With some navigational help from my dad, we were able to drive out to a ranch where Ryan's dad worked in the seventies. It's now on the Colorado Historic Register. Then we went to dinner. In typical Reynolds fashion, we picked a place to eat, drove there, read the reviews in the parking lot, decided not to eat there, then spent 30 minutes trying to pick a new place to eat. We ended up at the Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, and while it was more expensive than we wanted, the food and service were both fabulous (no that is not an excerpt from my Yelp review). Ryan went in first to make sure it was kid-friendly, and by the time the rest of us got in, the waitress had already set up a booster seat for Sam and brought us a high chair to put Ben's car seat on. We went all out and ordered an appetizer- Ryan picked fried pickles. They were fabulous. Sam loved them. I loved them. Even Benjy sucked the breading off of one and cried when it was over. Our burgers were great, and our dessert was fantastic. We went back to the lodge feeling very full and happy. I was especially happy because I didn't have to look at the check.
We gave the boys baths, and watched some TV in bed together, and went to sleep! And that was our trip. The next morning (that is, this morning) we got up early and got ready for church. We were in such a rush to get back to Laramie that I left Ben's bowl of peas and our milk in the fridge in our hotel room, which of course I didn't realize until we were twenty miles away. Strike three for Kara. We made a brief detour in Fort Collins to return the stroller, and made it back to Laramie in time for church. Mini-vacations are great!