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Hither & Yon

Postmark Andromeda

Epistolary flash fiction series by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
A Letter from Your Mother Edwards Airforce Base July 27th, 2029 (to be opened upon your awakening after the journey, whatever date that might be) Happy Birthday Darling! I hope this letter finds you cheerful and well. If you are reading this, you have successfully reached your new home. I'm so very proud of you, sweetie! I always knew those summer classes at the science museum would be worth it in the end. My only regret is that I can't be there with you to help you through your new life. In fact, I have petitioned Congress to complain that the restrictions on interstellar travel are foolish and that they should allow for family to accompany astronauts on the ship, for security and support. But you are leaving tomorrow morning and they have not yet contacted me regarding a reprieve, so I'm afraid that you are on your own. I've written down some essential advice to help you through. 1) Always make sure your panties and bra are clean. If need be, bleach them. Choose your undergarments carefully and think about how each piece might look on a corpse: it should not be too sexy, in case people talk about nothing else. However, it should not be too utilitarian / practical, in case you get lucky. That's kind of the point of the mission, right? While we are on the subject, I bought you a stretch girdle. It will tuck in your tummy and make you look a few kilos lighter than you are, as well as making your breasts look bigger.. Be careful, once you arrive in the new world, not to lose weight too quickly, as it can lead to unsightly stretch marks. 2) If possible, get your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted before landing so you don't have to worry about smearing. Will they have an on-board beauty parlour? I should have asked before, that is definitely a service I could have provided. I've noticed lately that you tend not to put on make-up, which is just lazy, especially as there are so many quick tricks for defining your best features. I slipped a complimentary L'Oréal travel make-up box into the front pocket of your bag so that you will have the basics once you arrive. The dark lipstick will suit you but be careful not to overdo the bright red which can make you look trampy. 3) Keep a happy and confident smile on your face, no matter what the circumstances. People will gravitate to you instinctively and extra-terrestrial problems are almost always better dealt with by a crowd. 4) Get plenty of rest. I'm pretty sure you won't have fresh cucumber to put under your eyes so you must be sure to avoid unsightly bags. I have packed an e-book reader with a number of self-help books, including Twiggy's Guide to Looking Fabulous Over 40. I realize that due to relativity, you are actually only 32 but I'm not sure if wrinkles understand relativity. 5) Make sure your feet stay warm and dry. This is critical to staying healthy and happy. God only knows what this Goldilocks planet will be like once you get there, so I put six pairs of thick socks into your case (in fluffy pink, because they were SO cute and on sale) along with a pedicure set. Take care of your feet and they will take care of you! 6) Choose your partner wisely. You should never have dumped that nice Tommy Levinson, if you ask me, but that's water under the bridge. I slipped a black silk nightgown and a bottle of champagne into your case so that you can create a romantic situation when the time comes. With your flat chest, you need as many advantages as you can get. You are unique and special and you must always remember that. I know you have weight restrictions so I took out the tranquilizer darts and the stun gun to make up for the presents I put into your bag. They always worried me anyway. If you end up in difficulties, I'm sure one of the nice young soldiers traveling with you will defend you. It will be a good way to break the ice. By the time you receive this letter, you will have missed my birthday 172 times. I forgive you. Love, Mom.
Published on Jan 1, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Regarding Your Unexpected Visit to the Surface of an Apparently Only Mostly Uninhabited Planet Dear Sir/Madam/Other, We regret to inform you that the damage you have claimed to your spaceship, mainly the ingestion of asteroid dust and various dents and newly ripped fuselage, is not covered in your insurance policy. The damage done to the space ship as you traveled through the asteroid belt could be classed as negligence, as it is quite clearly documented in the manual that it is unsafe to attempt to navigate through debris of any kind. This is specifically because of the risk of such maneuvers. However, we do understand that you felt that the situation was an emergency. The critical engagement light is a known defect that only comes up for very few of our customers in a very specific set of events. Specifically, on models ranging from serial number 210t51A to 232q17B (you can find out your serial number by checking the plate set by the undercarriage), if you have been traveling for long distances without an appreciable atmosphere and the outer temperature has fallen below 100 kelvin while the inner temperature is still at a livable standard, then there is a risk that the temperature discrepancy -- as per standards document 7656v53 -- would lead to a false display which, as you saw, gives the impression that the temperature gauge is no longer working and leads to inaccurate readings of the critical engagement light and eventually causes the alarm klaxon to sound with visual and aural warnings to land immediately before the ship explodes. I can assure you that there was no danger of explosion in this circumstance and the space ship was completely competent to continue its flight. The fact that the resulting resolution advisories resulted in your diving into the midst of flying asteroids is unfortunate but I'm sure you can understand that, if you hadn't been near the belt in the first place, the maneuvers recommended by your safety system could not have led you into it. You have further gone on to complain that you have an issue with natural predators in the area where you have crash landed. I must be firm that your policy does not include damage to you or the space ship as caused by animals, even 2-meter high clawed beasts that survive on iron. It is interesting to me that you managed to land on one of the rare natural habitats of this beast, which is the only known predator of our space-faring vehicles. If you would like to bring back specimens, that would be useful for our further research. I should note that if you had purchased the upgraded model of the XPRS99, it included an additional 28 days worth of oxygen which probably would have lasted you for a free recovery (assuming you come from a country which includes social rescue and are up-to-date on your taxes. If you look at the settings for the oxygen mix, you should find that you can reduce it quite a bit under the minimum recommended settings and have enough oxygen to last a further few days. I have contacted the American consulate regarding your situation but the US does not have a social space program and thus I am told that you are not eligible for emergency recovery. I have also forwarded your details to the British Spacefarers Charity who undertake to support rescue missions across our solar system. They have stated that if you can fly the ship to high ground and set off space flares, then they will prioritize your request for aid and hopefully instigate their recovery procedure for you within a fortnight (whatever that is). Under the circumstances, it probably doesn't help to know that I have upgraded your software to the latest version. Unfortunately, I can't change policy and there's nothing else I can think of to do. Should you return to Earth, can I recommend you upgrade to your Unforeseen Circumstances Policy Plan which does offer protection from wild animals (although supernatural entities are specifically excluded)? I wish you the best of luck with this and future happiness using our product. Sincerely, Mae Bernice Parsons Customer Services
Published on Jan 15, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
From: dlh@urgentemail.org To: george@amazeballs123.kpb, samwo@frugalspacefarers.sol, viridian@X4379.gmail.com Subject: I've been hacked! Dudes, you would not believe. I made it to Venus for the Voyage Extraordinaire Retreat and let me tell you, everything you've heard about the resort is true. This place is totally asteroiding. But I got a low pressure high gravity situation here dudes, and I need to tell you about it. The planet is full of crimmies and I'm afraid I've been done. They got my friends list, my contacts, my little black book: you name it, they've got it off me FTL. I was done. tl;dr: You get any fast-moving texts from me asking for money or help, don't get dragged into the gravity well. It's not me unless I use the codeword Sputnik, gottit? Long version: They got these wheeling, dealing, sexiest little cyborgs I ever did see. On the south side there are these little love hotels, charge by the hour, you know the type, right? So there's these cyborg cybervultures whatdayacallem. They hang out at the Ishtar Terra Hub and go after the tourists who've just arrived. You can imagine it: spaced out, looking for a good time, and you get some scrumptious cyborg offering you datacards for discount weekends at some new dive, the Aphrodite Amorous or Neptune's Naughties or whatever. So, it looks top of the line, right, wearing the sexiest little EVO suit you've ever seen, and it tells you it's on commmission and ask if you're looking for a fast time and a bit of friendlies. It offers to hook you up with a free five-minute simulation on the spot: high-oxygen, space jazz, atmospherics, the works. Hooooboy, that's all I can say. E-X-quisite, dudes, seriously. Thing is, it's a total scam. While that poor spacer is swooning at the simulation, the cyborg is probing him for data, sucking up every bit of datadust it can find. It's slick, you never even notice you've been rummaged. So, I'm sorry dudes, but I got totally compromised and they've now got your private emails and every other speck of data-dust in my system. Sucks. Sorry, dudes. All I can tell you is that those cyborgs are totally astronomic. They have the operation down to a fine art. They got me twice when I arrived on Saturday and four times yesterday. I haven't been able to find them yet today. -Dave out. Story notes: I've lived outside of the US longer than I ever lived in it. But when I need a teenage voice, there's no denying that I grew up in Southern California.
Published on Jan 29, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Dear John John Smith c/o NASA Ceres Project Washington DC 20546-0001 Dear John, I'm sorry to tell you this while you are so far away (you must be at the outer reaches of our solar system by now) but I feel it is not fair to leave you wondering or worse, assuming that everything is fine and we always promised to be honest with each other (although you never did explain why I found Lisa Walter's panties in your glove compartment after your going-away party) and so I wanted to tell you myself before you heard from someone else that I am seeing someone (his name is Melvin and I met him in the accounts department at work, if you are interested) and although you never asked me to wait for you I think we both assumed that I would but that was before I knew how hard it was going to be here on my own trying to work out how to get basics like food and drink because since the quarantine (which you probably don't know about but we got hit by a plague and that was after a freak tornado, after you left) it's been so hard to get food or drink and I've never been any good with a shotgun (your Uncle Jack came around in the first days in the pick-up truck, which I thought was really sweet of him, and he took all your weapons so I wouldn't hurt myself) so once the pantry was empty and the muffins at Starbucks were all gone, I didn't have any way of getting any food and Melvin (I can hear you sniggering at his name but honestly, he's perfectly nice and you'd like him if you got to know him) fought through the zombie hordes (no, I know they aren't really zombies but the rioters are so angry and mindless, that's what we call them) and when he got cut off I offered him the spare room and well he's been here ever since and one thing led to another and... well, I guess you won't want to hear the details but living through the apocalypse wasn't something that I could have expected and with you off in space doing god-knows-what while we struggle just to make it through the day (well, I don't now that Melvin is here because he has set up squirrel traps and planted some vegetables in the tub but I was living off of Kraft macaroni and cheese, I'm not even kidding) and honestly, John, I don't know if you are coming back to Earth one day or if they will let you past the police lines around the town even if you do make it back, so I guess it is easier to move on and admit that it isn't working out, although I guess I'd like to hear from you again if you can land the shuttle despite the nuclear damage at Edwards, so at least I'd know you aren't dead but if you don't want to, well, I guess I can't blame you but just remember that there were some good times too, before you went away, and I will always remain: yours, if maybe not so faithfully, Kylie. Story notes: This was written as a part of a challenge to write a story in a single sentence. I immediately imagined a breathless woman telling her story all a-jumble where the main question was: what would be important enough to her for her to need to tell it all at once. Thus Kylie was born.
Published on Feb 12, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Published on Feb 26, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Published on Mar 12, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Published on Mar 26, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Published on Apr 9, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Published on Apr 23, 2014