Publish Novellas 28 August 2022
EPISODE 1 – SHOPPING SURPRISE
During a visit to pick up new equipment, a technology customer discovers an unlikely hero, with hopeful romance, in this sci-fi short story.
Brandon is an imposingly large individual who has issues with his aging mobile device. A digital tablet intermittently begins flashing vertical black and white lines that require several reboots before returning to normal. With increasing frequency, he determines it may be the right time for an upgrade.
After ordering online, he chooses in-store pickup, but brings his unstable device to demonstrate the issue. With a concurrent technical support visit, a long-lash petite support person performs a full hardware diagnostic checkup.
The old device passes all tests. Christina then suggests a specific method of migrating data to the new device.
“It’s more time consuming but will prevent possibly corrupted software from transferring to the new tablet.”
During the visit, Christina goes through the series of dialog boxes, quickly choosing common settings like current country, and English as the default language.
Brandon interrupts, saying, “Mi idioma principal es el español, no el inglés.”
Her eyes widen. “I’m sorry for making that assumption! You’re right. I should ask. Do you want me to change the default language?”
”No, I’m kidding. English is fine.”
She smiles and resumes the transfer. “To configure your SIM card, please type in your phone number.” As he taps, she reacts, “That’s really easy to remember.”
Their conversation continues during configuration. Christina reveals that she is studying archeology and paleontology in school while working at the store.
“Is that an unusual field of study for a computer technician?” Brandon asks.
“Perhaps. But many employees are studying subjects with obtuse correlation to computers. Besides, archeology requires more than just picks, shovels, and brushes.”
“Point taken. Have your extra skills ever come in handy here in the store?”
“Well, there’s a history of past customer issues. I dig through this repository in my mind to present solutions, like I’ve done for you today.”
“Very nice metaphor! Ancient history is recorded on Egyptian pyramids and cuneiforms. With modern technology, history lives on the internet. Can you imagine in another generation that archeologists will be computer hackers?”
“That’s an interesting supposition. However, past history remains.”
So far her disposition has been cheerful. Pallor washes over her face as she next warns, “Try not to be alarmed. Behind you is a small Shuvuuia.”
“Do I want to know what that is?” Turning quickly, Brandon sees the two-foot long extinct bird-like creature that is three tables away. He debates either shielding the demur tech support person or hiding behind her.
Christina pre-empts his decision-making dilemma by approaching the animal. “Hey, little fella. Are you lost? Perhaps you’re hungry?”
The animal lets out chirps that clear the room of everyone accept for the couple.
“Be careful!” Brandon advises.
“I got this!” she responds. “Dinosaur behavior is what I train for. Don’t worry. He’s not carnivorous. This species prefers seeds and insects.”
Reaching within a nearby drawer that normally holds computer cords, she pulls out a large bag of shelled sunflower seeds that she broadcasts toward the theropod.
Dining For Dynos
When it appears that Christina has control of the situation, Brandon breathes a short-lived sigh of relief. At that moment, another dinosaur—a much larger Velociraptor lowers its head to step through the open glass doors.
Brandon now inquires with unsteady vocal timbre, “What does that one eat?”
“Unfortunately, its diet includes the new friend we just met. Stand back!”
With staccato movements, the Velociraptor gains speed and grasps the Shuvuuia in its jaws as an appetizer before turning to the larger entrées in its foreground.
“Now would be a good time to pull a rack of lamb from one of those drawers!” Brandon suggests optimistically.
She opens one and grabs, not a piece of meat, but a hardware cable. Snapping it between her two shoulder-distance fists, Christina pivots to her side in a defensive position.
The imposing animal tilts its head as though confused before stalking toward her. As it stretches its jaws in her direction, she backflips onto the table and loops the cord around the animal’s neck, tightening her grip in a garrote fashion. The beast falls to the floor until it’s eventually motionless.
Brandon first applauds, then embraces the little savior. “I’ll never doubt the value of an archeologist in a technology store again.”
“Even I had no idea my training would become so useful.”
“Should I ask if you’re a ninja, or is that a conversation we might have over dinner as an expression of genuine appreciation for saving my life?”
“Honestly, I was more concerned with saving my own life. Hopefully, you’ll still give me 5 stars in the customer satisfaction survey.”
“Of course. You’ve earned all the stars. Before the police storm this place, please answer, will you go to dinner with me this weekend?”
“As flattering as that may be, take a good look at my blouse. It should be obvious to you that my second floor is unfurnished, if you catch my drift.”
“Well, perhaps a bit petite—.”
“I’m not just petite. To prevent hereditary cancer, I had elective bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. The fact that there wasn’t much to begin with made the decision easier. Maybe that’s too much information. But I rather be up front before going out with anyone.”
”You’re full of surprises. That’s another demonstration of your bravery. My offer still stands.”
“Then I’ll accept the dinner invitation. Just make sure we don’t order any chicken or fowl dishes.”
“All right. I promise, no Chicken Piccata.”