Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerpts. Click here to see our collection of 33 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.”
Check out the Grand Prize Winner in the Holiday contest, “The 1011000-100110110000011010011 Truce” by Thomas A. Mays, excerpted here. And also the first Honorable mention is here: “Get the Greek – A Chrismukkah Tale” and the second here: “Turkey Legs Boned & Rolled Like Veal, Just as Tender but Tastier,” and the third here: ‘I Don’t Want to See a Trail of Bodies, Unless They’re the Bodies I’ve Blessed for Destruction.’
Here’s an excerpt from “Better or Worse” by Mary Madigan, the fourth runner up in the Holiday Writing Contest:
“Live the Martian adventure” the ads said. “Mars has jobs.” Amy said. So Joe packed their bags and they left their hometown in Northern Great Lakestan, convinced that this new life would be better.
It wasn’t. There were jobs and the pay was good, but they were mostly desk jobs–the kind of work that you learn in an hour and wash/rinse/repeat for the rest of your life.
In every other way, Mars was the same as Wisconsin –eleven months of winter and one month of black flies. There were the same stores stocking the same junk–ice fishing supplies, hydroponic marijuana, buffalo algaesnaps and pasties (not the fun kind). There only way he could tell that he was not still in Wisconsin was when the snow melted. The mud that slimed the streets was red, not brown.
They even kept their Wisconsin routine. Weekends were spent repairing stuff in the house. Then they’d trudge outside for groceries and their weekly flu shot. Then they’d go back home, nuke dinner, turn on the TV and shiver under blankets until it was time to go to bed. Wash/rinse/repeat.
They were headed to the grocery store now, wobbling over ice, snow whirling around their feet like wisps of smoke. Christmas decorations added a little bit of color, but they’d already transported their presents months ago, to a family that was much too far away. There was no one to shop for but themselves.
As they passed the Port Tharsis Yacht club, Amy glanced longingly at the ships. They had met in pilot training. They both had high hopes of working on a transport and living on a space station, maybe Caprica. But low salaries, few job openings for pilots and ridiculous hours had changed those plans. They could live together and have desk jobs or they could follow their dreams and live apart. So they chose to be together. For better or worse.
Joe glanced into the Yacht Club window. Behind the fogged windows the guys inside were laughing. One guy turned and saw him, gave him a look that said. “I have a ship and I can leave this sad Martian rock anytime I please. And you, you pathetic little groundling–you can’t.”
Some ships were covered for the season, snow floating a few centimeters over their energy shields. Others were uncovered, still steaming after a quick descent through the atmosphere. One ship, pockmarked by rubble strikes but freshly cleaned, had a piece of paper laying on the ground beside it. Joe picked it up. “For Sale.”
The want, no, the need to own this ship, to be that guy in that Club hit him like a rogue wave. He had to convince Amy, right here and right now to buy this ship. As Yoda said. “Do… or do not. There is no try.”
Amy was already walking away, her boots crunching into the distance. He had to think fast, and of course the first thought in his head was more wisdom from Star Wars. This time, it was reverse psychology.
“What a piece of junk,” he said.
“Yeah.” she said. Her boots crunched towards him. “But imagine how nice it would be if we could just wormhole away on the weekends. To Fhloston pleasure planet …”
“Or Kepler-16b.” he said. “Two suns and a tiki bar on every corner.”
“Hmm…” she said, and his heart skipped a beat. Then he overplayed his hand. “It would make a great Christmas present. We haven’t spent my bonus check yet.”
“But…” she said “…we were going to use that for a new couch.”
Click here to read the rest at Liberty Island
image illustration via shutterstock / Aaron Rutten