THE DAY OF THE WHITE GOLD
A SciFi Flash Fiction
by Linda Mooney
Arthur hurried into the hospital lobby and went straight to the stairs leading up to the second floor. Reaching it, he automatically turned to his right and briskly walked down the long corridor to room 47. The door was closed, so he gave it a rap with his knuckles.
He entered the tiny room to find Kellie already sitting up in bed. She smiled at him, which he returned.
“Hey, you look great!” he told her, and it was no lie. “You look a hundred times better than you did the last time I saw you.”
She chuckled, then clutched her side as a spasm of pain crossed her face. “Ooh, don’t make me laugh.”
He closed the distance between them to give her a kiss. She wrinkled her nose at him when it ended. “Your lips are cold.”
“And yours are warm,” he murmured. “Warm mine up then.”
She eagerly accepted his challenge, her hands clutching the front of his heavy jacket. This time when they parted, he nuzzled her nose. “I can’t stay long, but you probably know what today is.”
“Yeah.” She nodded once. “That’s all I’ve heard people talk about the past couple of days. I wish I could be out there with you. I wish I could be in the middle of it, helping and having fun like everyone else.”
“So do I,” he admitted. “But you’re still not over your emergency appendectomy. Speaking of, have you seen the doctor this morning?”
“He said I can probably go home a week from tomorrow. They have to make sure I don’t have any sepsis or infection. Artie?” She tugged on his coat. “I’d give anything to have some snow. I don’t care if it’s leftovers. I just want to be able to touch it, and smell it, and maybe taste it. You know?”
He understood perfectly. “I can’t promise anything. The guards are very careful about saving every flake they can. You know as well as I do that every drop matters.”
Every Drop Matters. The yearly credo was pounded into their heads by the government when this one day arrived.
“Where are you scheduled to work?”
“Down by the main square.”
“How much are they forecasting?”
“Should be a bumper crop this year! They’re expecting at least seventeen inches. The Water Department says we’ll need at least eleven inches to meet our water demands next year.”
She smiled. “I hope we get that much. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a surplus? That way we won’t have to worry about having to drink recycled and re-purified water the last couple of months before the next snowfall.” She glanced over at the window, and joy lit her face. “Artie! Look! It’s started!”
He turned to look outside in time to see a couple of errant flakes slowly drifting past the glass panes. “I gotta go. Take care, Kel. I’ll be back as soon as I can to tell you all about it.” He gave her another kiss. A quicker one, but just as tender. She gave him a goodbye wave as he rushed from the room.
He made it to the supply depot just as the troops were handing out the snow shovels. Getting in line to receive his, he found himself behind Dryce Cochard. Dryce swiveled around and flashed him a grin.
“You ready for this, Art?”
“Just as ready as I can be.” He peered upward at the thickening gray clouds. “Do you think we’ll get those seventeen inches the scientists are predicting?”
The man gave a derisive snort. “I stopped believing those lab docs years ago. Remember, it was them who told us this planet had an abundant water supply. That’s why we migrated here in the first place.”
“But they later admitted they must have seen the results right after the snowfall,” Arthur pointed out.
“Yeah, well, it didn’t help us at the time, did it?”
They advanced forward in line. After receiving his shovel, he and Dryce were directed to the small tent that had been erected nearby. There, they were reminded of where their work detail was located.
They piled onto the magnetic sleds, along with several others, to ride to their work station. By this time the snow was falling harder, and in thicker lumps. Dryce let out a whoop of joy and began scraping up the layer already covering the pavement. “Every drop counts!”
Although this was a time when everyone was involved in the back-breaking work of trying to save every bit of moisture falling, it was also a time of celebration. Arthur joined in the occasional snowball fight, and often paused to catch flakes on his tongue. Their pure taste was indescribable. He smiled like a fool as he brushed several from his face. Without this snowfall, the settlement would perish. They, as well as all plant life, would die of dehydration. There was no going back to the planet they’d once called home. It no longer existed.
They were allowed ten-minute breathers. During his break, he watched as the others toiled to pile the sleds with the snow. Once loaded, the crafts would jet straight to the factory, where the white gold was converted into water and stored for future use.
He also saw people eating the snow, luxuriating in its crisp, unadulterated flavor. He thought of Kellie, stuck in her hospital bed and unable to enjoy this moment that occurred only one day every year. Everyone would be sore, their muscles aching when tomorrow came. But for now, just for today, all the work was worth it.
The whole settlement labored through the day as the snow fell without let up. It wasn’t until after dark, late into the night, when the flakes stopped falling. The Day of the White Gold was over. It was time to put away their shovels until next year and go home.
On his way back to the storage facility, Arthur watched as crews went about with their hoses and containers, vacuuming up every stray and melted drop. Even though it was mostly filthy, that water would be used on the gardens, and not filtered for human consumption.
He was exhausted, he was hungry, and he was cold. But he couldn’t go home. Not yet.
He trudged back to the hospital where he’d promised Kellie he’d tell her all about how his day had gone. Marching up the stairs, he noticed his boots left wet footprints on the stone steps. It didn’t matter. The wetness would soon evaporate.
When he reached her room, she was waiting for him. He went over to kiss her.
“I watched the news. I think I saw you when they panned over the square,” she told him. “Was it fun? I mean…”
“It was glorious,” he informed her. “It was everything we’d hoped for.”
“The scientists say we got a total of twelve and a half inches! It’ll be enough to get us through all next year!” Her face was flushed from the excitement. At least, he hoped so.
Arthur placed a hand to her forehead to check for fever. Kellie giggled at his touch. “Oooh, your hand’s like ice! Why aren’t you wearing your gloves?”
Like ice. The remark reminded him.
Reaching inside his coat pocket, he withdrew the one glove. Carefully, he extracted the small, marble-size ball of compacted snow he’d saved for her. Tears rose in her eyes as he handed it over.
“I know how much it hurt for you to miss this day,” he whispered. “So I brought you a piece of it.”
She took it from him and slipped it into her mouth. Rolling it around on her tongue, she sighed contentedly. “It tastes so good. Thank you. I know the risk you took to bring it to me.”
Rather than reply, he leaned forward to kiss her again. And this time she let him share the melting snow’s clean taste on her tongue.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~New!
Humorous Fantasy Romance
Word Count: 24.5K
$1.99 e / $6.99 p
Mimsey Goddess lives a simple life, chatting with Nim, her pet sloth, scaring a robber or two, saving the occasional life…you know, normal things for a demi-goddess. For centuries she’s enjoyed this life, scratching the sexual itch when she feels it, moving on when the need arises. But when she meets Silas, he brings up feelings she’s never felt before.
A routine stop at the market for Silas Barnett turns into anything but when he helps stop a robbery, and he’s intrigued by the old lady brave enough to take on the crook. Never having much of a family of his own, he’d always wanted a feisty grandmother like her, and he can’t help but want to spend time with her.
Though as much as he likes her, Silas doesn’t exactly see Mimsey in the same light as she wants him to, so she introduces him to Maude—young, beautiful, yet another lady throwing Silas for a loop, and after one date she has him completely under her spell. Still, she’s not what he’s looking for, and Mimsey feels guilty for forcing it.
When a jealous tattletale sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong, Mimsey must answer to the higher powers. For she’s committed the ultimate crime according to the gods and goddesses—she’d fallen in love with a mortal. And she must pay with his life.
Warning: Contains a
lethal cantaloupe, a weekly poop, beer, third time's the charm,
a vicious revenge, and a chance at love for two people who
never expected to find it.
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