VOID — I am going to leave this up in the spirit of real time writing, but very momentarily after posting it I realized I don’t like it. The intent was to show a kind of visceral compassion for Caleb as he went off to his uncertain future, but it ends up way to porny. Obviously, I have no problem with sex scenes or even Penthouse Letters level fantasies if that’s right for the story, but this isn’t right for the story. So expect a new Chapter 18 tomorrow, and in the meantime enjoy this example of Terrible First Draft.
Faith stopped Caleb in the corridor outside the cafe. “I heard you were going out to the structure,” she said.
Caleb looked at her.
“I just wanted to say good luck,” she added with an embarrassed turn of her head. “And congratulations. It’s a big deal, I guess, based on all the talk I’m hearing.”
He exhaled. “I didn’t know.”
Faith smiled weakly. “I suppose you wouldn’t,” she said but then grimaced at her own words and added, “I mean, on the inside you probably don’t hear what people are saying.” She stumbled over the word “people” and that almost made him laugh.
“It’s not that,” he said. “I just don’t talk to many people.” He gave that last word just enough emphasis to make her blush.
“Right,” she smiled, “Caleb the loner.”
He blushed, too. “I guess. Sometimes. Other times I really do like company.”
Faith’s blush deepened and she opened her mouth to speak.
“This must be Faith,” said the honey dripping voice of Nel from the cafe as the doors slid open. The shapely alien sauntered up to them, eyes flicking between Caleb and Faith. “I’m disappointed you never introduced us,” she cooed.
Faith’s eyes darted between Caleb and the alien. He could see her doing some sort of calculus in her mind. After a brief moment, Faith exhaled and suddenly smiled at Nel. Caleb swore he saw Faith glance at him, challenging him, before she turned to Nel and said, “I am too. I heard such lovely things.”
Caleb froze as the two women began to talk about him as if he weren’t there. In that moment he realized just how right Obligolkulat had been. The entirety of his perceptive powers and discerning intellect fled him and he just stood staring dumbly.
Faith and Nel eventually turned their collective attention to Caleb. “Do you have time before you leave on assignment?” asked Nel.
“We thought we could get a drink and maybe dessert,” added Faith, grinning.
Caleb considered his position with what faculties remained to him as blood rushed from his brain southward and said, “I’m not due on the shuttle for another few hours.” He swallowed. “And I could use dessert.”
Nel all but purred like a cat and Faith took first Nel’s hand and then Caleb’s. “Then let’s have that drink,” she said, “and toast new adventures.”