Author Archives: mmwelch

About mmwelch

Speculative fiction author, musician, librarian, fan of dessert

Stories from Refuge – 62 – “I went back three more times. I guess you want to know why.”

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-53, dialogue between H.R. and Tara Johnson, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.10.3

No, I want her to talk. I want to hear why she’s doing this.

[Recorder’s note: The usual fuss from the table behind me. I can tell the subject is hostile but not so much that we need to stop the dialogue. Tara Johnson is willing to respond.]

I… um… I don’t know. They asked me to sit in on one of the dialogues earlier this year, with the man whose brother died, who had an altercation with one of the Commanders, and of course the Commanders aren’t here for people to confront them, so they needed someone as a stand-in. And I did it. They needed someone to… Well, they asked for volunteers, really, and I said I’d do it. No one else really wanted to. We were standing there in Medical, all of the techs who used to work on the Commanders, just looking at each other or looking at the floor. And then I said I’d do it. Everyone else was relieved, and I thought no big deal, I’d just sit here in this room and listen to someone who got hurt and that would be it.

Of course, that’s not what happened. That man in the first dialogue, he got mad. He started shouting at me and he kicked a chair. They had to escort him out and I have no idea what happened to him after that. All the other techs said I was lucky I didn’t get hurt, and they knew something like that was going to happen, and that’s why it was stupid of me to do it in the first place.

But I went back. Three more times. I guess you want to know why.

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Poetry corner: I-10

Highway at sundown
Cars reduced to lights, white and red,
anonymous and lonely
We know, of course,
that we’re all bound somewhere
that this sensation of endlessness is not
Endless
But it is easy to forget
in this long stretch of lights
that we’ve put beginnings and endings
into life, goals to reach,
where perhaps the endlessness
is more true

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Stories from Refuge – 61 – “I can get mad at you, but it’s harder to get mad at her.”

(c) Serjio74 | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-52, dialogue between F.T. and Tara Johnson, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.10.2

I want to get mad. The things that happened – they asked me to list an incident to talk about, when I put in the application to do this dialogue. I couldn’t even pick just one thing. I don’t know why I applied in the first place. What good is it gonna do to talk about it? But I got in trouble, right? All those years with bots marching around and PsyOp messing with people’s heads, and when it’s all over and you people start telling us it’ll all get better, and I get found moving contraband in that hidden tunnel that everyone knows about and pretends isn’t there, and I get arrested. At least I didn’t get knocked around by a bot. Someone offered me a deal – I do this dialogue and I get a couple months off my time in Confinement. And I’m still not sure I picked the right thing.

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Stories from Refuge – 60 – “We just wanted to find someone to blame for how we felt.”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-51, interview with L.O., recorded by James 72A
RY 100.9.28

I didn’t know you were going to fire him. That other Empath, the one who was the recorder when I came in a few days ago. He wasn’t really erasing people’s memories, was he? That was just a rumor, right? And I said something and got him in trouble and now he’s gone.

I wonder about the people who are gone. Not like my brother, people who got killed. Not like the people who got arrested, like my friend from back in school. The people who disappear and no one ever hears from them again. The people no one talks about anymore, because we can’t say they got killed by bots or a Commander, we can’t say they got arrested and they’re in Confinement and someone tried to visit them but the guards at the junction to Sec 5 wouldn’t let them in. We don’t know where the disappeared ones went and we don’t know how to talk about them.

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Poetry corner: Path

It’s hot.
I have a neck wrap –
the kind that holds water and keeps you cool –
I soaked it overnight,
ready to come on a summer walk.
Left it in the sink.
Now it’s hot and I have no relief,
getting more uncomfortable, angrier
by the minute, each sweltering step.
Turn all obstacles into the path,
the Buddhists say,
and so I try –
Try to welcome this forgetting
as a chance to keep walking,
step after step,
not listening to the voice in my head –
“So stupid, so stupid”
but to the song of birds, each one different,
and quieter, more subtle,
the unperturbed rustle of insects.

Poetry & photography (c)2017 Michelle M. Welch

Author’s note: “Turn all obstacles into the path” is a variant on the Lojong slogan “When the world is filled with evil, transform all mishaps into the path of bodhi.”

Stories from Refuge – 59 – “You tell lies enough, you start to believe them.”

(c) Svedoliver | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-50, dialogue between R.A. and Luke Baron, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.9.27

I got hurt by the bots, you see that’s why I can’t move my arm very well, and then I was locked up for five years, and it was for something I didn’t do. I had lots of time to be angry about that, there in Confinement, it took my mind off my arm, but it just made me angrier. That was the whole problem, I guess, when I got hurt in the first place. I saw the bots coming and I should’ve just kept quiet, not given them anything to do, just waited until the Commander showed up to arrest me and drag me back to Civil and I could’ve explained everything there, but I fought back instead. I got my hands on anything I could swing and tried to knock heads off those metal bastards, and they got rough. So that’s what happened.

Thing is, why I was so angry, is I knew why they were after me. Well, I wasn’t sure until I was arrested and I woke up to hear my sentencing and they actually told me that an eyewitness said she saw me building a jammer to interfere with the bots. That was a lie, and there’s only one person who could have told it. And I was so angry at her I just had to fight back.

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