Free Fiction Thurs… er, Friday – Reboot

Good morning, everyone!

For various reasons, this week’s Free Fiction Thursday morphed into Free Fiction Friday.  Yes, it’s been one of those weeks where there aren’t enough days for the amount of work that needs doing. Guess I got too used to a four-day work week. 😉

Good news, though. 🙂 This week I’m celebrating my second paperback five-story collection, THE FOREVER SOLDIER AND OTHER FUTURE TALES.  The e-book version of FOREVER SOLDIER has been available for a couple of months, but the paperback is brand spanking new.  I’ve seen the proof.  It’s gorgeous!  My author copies are in the mail and the book itself should be available for purchase on Amazon any day now.

As part of the celebration, this week’s free story is REBOOT, one of the five stories in THE FOREVER SOLDIER AND OTHER FUTURE TALES.   REBOOT is a cautionary tale about a time-traveling pioneer facing forced retirement.  I hope you enjoy it!

Reboot

 Annie Reed

Published by Thunder Valley Press

 Copyright 2010 by Annie Reed

“Are you going to miss it?  Being a hero?”

I heard snickers and groans, pretty typical for a crowded classroom full of nine-year-olds.  I’ve been in enough of them over the years to know.  These days the desks are all molded plastic, clean-lined, ergonomic, not the knee-scraping wood and metal-framed contraptions I grew up with.  The cafeteria smell’s gone, too; now it’s the smell of too many bodies crowded together in too small a space.  Everything’s more crowded these days.

The girl who’d asked me the question, a pretty thing with braids in her auburn hair and shaved patches the size of my thumb on the sides of her skull — the newest thing in fashion, my granddaughter tells me – blushed a bit but managed to keep looking at me.

“Children!”  That was the teacher, a harried woman whose face — lined around her mouth, weary shadows underneath her eyes — looked every one of her middle-aged sixty or so years.

“That’s okay, that’s okay,” I said.  I held my hands up in a shushing gesture and the room quieted down.  I smiled at the girl with the braids and naked strips of pink scalp.  “It’s a legitimate question.  Not the first time I’ve been asked, so don’t go getting embarrassed, no matter what these guys think.”  I winked at her and she smiled back.  I still had some of my old charm.   At least it still seemed to work on nervous nine-year-old girls.

“So are you?” she asked again.

Now it was my turn to blush a little.  No matter how old I got, hero worship was something I’d never been comfortable with.

“Well, see… I don’t think of myself as a hero.  Not at all. I’m just a workingman like everybody else.  Sometimes I go talk to nice folks like you, and sometimes I go someplace in another time.  It’s all just part of the job.”

“But aren’t you going to miss it?  Going to other times?”  This came from a boy farther back in the crowded classroom.  He was thin — pretty much everybody’s thin these days, but I’m old enough to remember when a lot of people weren’t so I tend to notice — and had a rainbow-colored shock of hair over his left ear and forest green spiral body art covering his head where the rest of his hair should have been.

There were fewer giggles this time.

“Of course I’m going to miss it, but I’ve been working hard for the last seventy years or so.  I think it’s about time I did some traveling in this time zone, see the world, enjoy my granddaughter and her children.”

That was my canned response.  In truth I was going to miss the hell out of this job.  I wasn’t ready to retire.  I went to work like everybody else, did what I was told, then before I knew it enough years had gone by that now I was about to retire whether I wanted to or not.  Nothing personal.  It’s in the program.  It’s your time.

Just didn’t feel like my time.

(read the rest of the story here)

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