Friday, September 4, 2009

Poker Face

“God, I love this job,” Martin Ebb said as he laid his cards down and reached for his winnings piled in the center of the table. “Taking your money is just icing on the cake, Pete.”

“I should just give you my money and my lunch everyday instead of wasting time playing cards.”

“Then what would you do on your shift? Work?”

“Maybe I will.”

“Watching monitors through the night… such a challenging job.”

“Better than cleaning toilets,” Pete smiled.

“Shut it. I don’t just clean the toilets,” Martin said as he kicked his feet up on the table and leaned back in his chair “I am the foremost authority of the goings on here.” He took a bite of Pete’s chicken salad sandwich and smiled.

“Oh. An authority, are you?”

“Yep,” Martin said with a mouth full of food.

“So… you know what happened last week in Incubation?”


“What?” Pete quizzed with a raised brow and wry smile on his face.

“They put down a clone. All of maintenance knows. I am sure you saw the footage.”

“I did.”

“You did?” Martin dropped his feet from the table and sat straight in his chair, eyes wide.

“Yeah, I did,” Pete said, “If you must know, that Dalton kid woke her up.”

“Dr. Dalton’s grandson?”

“Yeah, and get this,” Pete leaned in toward Martin and whispered, “he was kissing her.”

“You’re kidding me?”


“Freaking disgusting. Did they tell his wife he was making out with a meat puppet?”

“Oh no, he’s only fifteen. No wife. Matter of fact, he was supposed to be matched last night at the ceremony.”

Martin’s eyes grew even wider. “Supposed to be?”

“Yeah, listen. Nancy works on the 22 in the basking room. She usually just monitors UVBs but she happened to overhear a meeting between Chairs. I think it was Foster and Barnes. Anyway, that Dalton kid killed himself the night before.”

“No shit? That’s crazy.”

“Yeah and even crazier, they were discussing what they were going to do with his match.”

“Do with his match?”

“They mentioned ‘the surface’, but I am not really sure where that is or what level it is. They are going to monitor her and then bring her back in for testing.”

“Testing? What kind of testing.”

“You got me. Nancy said radiation and contaminates. Makes me wonder what they are doing at the surface.”

“Hmn… I’ve never heard anyone mention that before. Sounds kind of strange; are you sure Nancy was overhearing the Chairs?”

“She swears by it, but you know how women are; always gossiping.”

“That’s the truth. Oh well, I guess I better make my round.” Martin said finishing off the last bit of sandwich. “Same time tomorrow night?”

“I guess. I still don’t know why I bother to play cards with you.”

“If it makes you feel better you can just give me your money and your lunch.”

“Nah, I’ll take my chances. See you.” Pete said as he took off down the hall.

Martin left the break room with heavier pockets, and made his way down the corridor and into his small broom closet. He grabbed his mop and bucket of soapy water, and began tracing wet patterns on the floor.

Time flew by as Martin busied himself mopping, but he eventually found himself standing in front of the sliding glass doors etched heavily with the word “Incubation”. With a look of disgust, Martin stepped slowly onto the pad and the doors slid quietly open.

It was hard to ignore row after row of sleeping girls at various stages of pregnancy, but Martin tried his best to keep his eyes on the floor. His thoughts kept returning to the boy kissing the clone, and his stomach turned.

Increasing his pace, Martin began to drag the mop along the floor as he moved backwards through the room. He was making better time, but lost his footing and stumbled backward into one of the beds. As he raised himself up, a petite arm slid off the bed and dangled.

Martin froze. He watched as the clone’s tiny fingers danced to a stop, and then he slowly dropped to the floor. Sickness was inching up on him; he closed his eyes and took a couple of deep breaths before getting to his feet.

He grabbed the young girl’s wrist and delicately placed her arm back at her side. Her arm was not cold like he had imagined, it was warm and soft; much like his own. He looked into her face and a wave of nausea washed over him.

Slapping both hands over his mouth, Martin sprinted out of Incubation, down the hall, and through the heavy wooden doors of the Eden Corporation. He barely made it a step away from the bin when he began to be sick; splattering his lunch down his arms, the side of the bin, and the front of his shirt.

“Hey, I’ll clock you out, bro. Go on home.” Pete shouted from Eden’s doors.

Martin grunted, and Pete watched him stumble down the corridor toward the elevator.

A smile spread over Pete’s face. “Serves you right; maybe next time, you let me win… asshole.”


  1. It was definitely worth the wait!

    Pete doesn't fool around...

    I really enjoyed reading your story.

    Well done!

  2. I like how you continued the story through the perspective of two seemingly innocuous characters. Turning it into a passing bit of gossip in their lives. The dialogue was very natural between the two of them.

  3. Each vignette has brought me further into the Eden Corp. world. So very believable.

    Flawless execution. Brilliant dialogue.

    It's really not right that you made time to do this AND go to Brynn's Western Day. Quit making the me look like a slacker. Really this time. But don't stop writing, so you'll have to stop everything else...

    Much obliged for the read.

  4. Freaking awesome! That was the same kid, huh? I love how you wove 2 previous stories into it. And now she's on the surface, soaking up radiation...

  5. Great stuff. Of course now I'll have to go and read the previous instalments!

  6. Ooooh, felt like I had jumped right in to an ongoing story, then read the comments to find there's more! Great dialogue. Looking forward to reading what I've missed.

  7. I love the title - perfect!

    So, that's what happened to Jennifer - on the surface (and what "surface" has been forgotten by some). You're building (or have built) an interesting world here.

    Nicely done.

  8. Thanks for reading and commenting. You guys are awesome.

    I have to thank my good friend, Kemari, for the title... I always have the hardest time with names, and when she suggested it, I knew it was perfect.

  9. Great continuation, Tomara, though it reads just fine as a stand alone. I'm really enjoying (in a sick sort of way) learning more about the fascinating world of the Eden Corp. I'm looking forward to more of these.

  10. Excellent story. I liked how you not only continued the story, but did it through two characters who had their own little battle unrelated to everything else going on.

  11. I'm a title hoor, and loved this one. Also, I haven't read its predecessor, but this was still very enjoyable. I can see why you and Laura are friends. You both enjoy your humor with a dash of ghastly. :)

  12. Laura... you can't believe everything you hear


    read ;-)

  13. Niicce!! The dialogue sets the story up very well. Is Eden Corp. hiring?

  14. You really have a winner going here, so enjoying this!

    Interesting too how the Friday to Friday pacing seems to fit... my imagination of what else might be going on just runs wild.

    Eager to read more.

  15. Really great how the layers of your larger story are unfolding in these self-contained pieces. Definitely getting a wider view of the world of Eden each week. Great piece this, the dialogue here is particularly strong. Great read.

  16. Brilliant! I don't usually love pieces full of dialog, but this was so well done. I still can't believe you do these in just a week. They are so well-conceived. I love following this story, and I'm glad you're able to do it in this format. The change in perspective and tone was refreshing and unexpected.

  17. I really like this world you've created! Why did he get sick? Did he recognize her? The characters are sooo real, wonderful job!
    Can't wait to read more, it's like a futuristic soap opera! lol

  18. Nice! And I love the last line which makes you wonder if Pete spiked his sandwich, good extra there. I've read two installments but I'm hooked. Gotta go back and read the others. Thanks for a good read!

  19. very deliciously twisted. great build and payoff!

  20. Great story! Dialogue felt spot on. Just the right tinge of creepiness.

  21. Man,with all that splattering it must have been a pretty big sandwich.
    Row after row of pregnant girls was a creepy creepy visual.
    Nicely done.
    Karen :0)

  22. I just read through the rest of your Eden Crop stories and I just have to say that I love this world you've created as well as how self contained each piece has been yet still partially ties in with the others. Every story just seems to add more mystery to the place, hope to keep reading more of it!

  23. I didn't realize this was a continuation of a story, so now I have to go back and read. I wanted to say that to tell you this works totally as a stand-alone piece, which is quite difficult to do when you're writing a series.

    The dialogue was pitch perfect, and I had to laugh at the line about women being such gossips -- exactly what are these two doing, then? Heh.

    Great job!

  24. You're too good at this... Eden Corp is becoming real for me. Scary stuff! And yes, your dialogue is brilliant. You've achieved the writer's goal of writing believable natural-sounding dialogue.

  25. How sad to find out that the Dalton Kid's match, whom you wrote about last time, is now being used for scientific testing. :( And here I thought they had just jettisoned her out in space because she was no longer of use. What a dark image that is. A good continuation of a story here. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Love your use of dialogue. I like to push limits and see what readers can take, and I think maybe you do too. When a long dialogue string like that can carry with clarity, that just makes the back of my neck tingle. And then you carried the story into action, then finished it off with an end cap of dialogue (a revenge statement, even). Good stuff. (I liked the seemingly minor characters, too.)

    --Jeff Posey

  27. This makes me want more. It's great just by itself, but I can see it as a larger piece, which I hope it is.

    Straight From Hel

  28. Very neat! It's cool how even in your weird world, people are still people. Petty and gossipy and such.