Hot Chips and Sand
Copyright © 2012 Mary Hughes
All rights reserved
“Exile? Surely you’re going back eventually? Can’t you raise an army, or convince Congress or the U.N. to help, or…?”
wasn’t quite sure what aid a deposed ruler had at his disposal, but there had
to be someone who would help.
No. By the time I could get any viable forces gathered,
the protection grid would be in
Fahrrad would be
immune to attack . And the world at large has more on its mind than
a tiny country in the Middle East.”
Vickie stared at him, at first not comprehending.
is still going through with the deal?”
“I doubt if Cliff thinks so.
But I owe him
my life. And I will avenge my people eventually.”
Vickie felt strangely sick
. Yet another situation where
her head and her heart disagreed. No. This was
worse. What Cliff proposed to do, to assist a cruel dictator like Fahrrad with his
plans to lock up an entire country ,
Did Cliff lack basic human concern?
And admit it, Vickie. You thought you
finally found the perfect man. Well, they only exist in fairy tales.
her with concern.
Are you all right?”She covered
by picking up and sipping her coffee. “Oh, sure. Just a little concerned
about you. What will you do now?”
Cliff estimated the project could be done in under six months, with some new machine at his disposal.
There may yet be time.”
“Thank you, Vickie Johnston. Just talking has helped me. I will see you again.”
angrily. She had allowed
herself to get carried away with her daydreams
about the man, and now she was paying for it. ‘Old reality intrudes
again, Vickie. Give it up. Romance is not for you.’
She got up off the bed
then, unaware of the wet pillow she
had left behind. She called the
airline and told them she would be returning immediately.
a stiff smile on her face, she went
The phone rang loudly in the empty room, clanging five times before the young blond man ran, cursing, through the doorway. He caught it on the sixth ring.
“I didn’t expect you to call.” He was still panting a little.
The voice at the other end was wry. “I didn’t expect to call. Something’s come up.”
“Not more bad news, I hope.”
There was a silence. The man waited patiently until the other voice said, “
No. Good news . Definitely. I’ve solved that problem we had in staffing.”
man threw himself into the chair,
grunting as he hit. “That was quick.”
Another pause. “I know. But it’s right.”
“If you say so.
Well, that’s one less
thing to worry about. Do you want me to make
The line chuckled to itself for a few seconds before the answer came. “No. I’ll take care of it myself.”
After he had hung up, the
man in the chair grinned
to himself. It actually looked like two less things
to worry about.
Vickie had been back at work for two weeks when the meeting notice came. She read it once, quickly, then to keep her anger from making her do something stupid, she read it again
, slowly. It didn’t
“What in the name of all the gods of logic do you think you’re doing
She slammed the door shut behind her. “I don’t have time for a new account. I just got a handle on the Geocom database, and you know the Delmar conversion is behind because of that little escapade I had
began polishing his high ‑refraction
glasses . “The Hawkesclyffe
Computer Company is a
high‑powered hardware firm
, sure to be Fortune 500 within three years if they keep up their phenomenal growth. And
if this new chip is even close to what the
engineers say it is , they will take over the industry.” Phil
leaned forward and tapped his glasses on
desk blotter .
If we become
software house Vickie, why, every sale of
the new HCC300 series with our software bundled in
will make our company the biggest in
Phil smiled gently.
“He won’t like it. He
everything.” He stopped, and looked at her quizzically. “Besides, he asked
specifically for you.”
“No Vickie. Sir Humphrey Hawkesclyffe
of some sort. But his
company was based
in the U.S.A. She had looked into it during a job‑hunt
about five years ago, when Hawkesclyffe Computers was just getting off the
ground. The company, though, not its founder. [MH3]
had always imagined
Hawkesclyffe himself to look, oh, maybe like
Alistair Cooke. Slender, white ‑haired, carrying
a walking stick , wing‑tipped shoes, the works.
[MH1]The old "abrogate his responsibility" is term paper writing. Fiction must be snappy with clear nouns and strong verbs. Thus the new "Villains abused, idiots wasted."