Alas, this story didn’t win the Kurt Vonnegut bracket of the 2015 Spring Iron Writer Open Tournament. But I don’t feel bad, because I was up against some good friends, and I think all the stories were good. The judges and the popular vote didn’t favor me, however. Here it is for those of you who were curious which story was mine. There was a tiny hint to my readers that this was my story… post a reply if you catch it!
Elements: The Goddess Artemis, A Dilettante, Jello Wrestling, A Moon Rock
“You have no idea how honored I am to be your guest,” I said to the tall, beautiful woman who met me at the airport.
She nodded at me without so much as a smile and snapped her fingers. Several hairy men stepped out of the crowd in unison and flanked us as we made our way to Baggage Claim.
Diana Archer walked a step ahead of me, the click of her heels like staccato hoof beats, audible even over the terminal’s din. “I trust your flight was comfortable?”
I did my best to keep up in my flats, trying not to scurry. “Well, you know O’Hare. I’m just glad to be here in Memphis. I see why you make it your home, ma’am.”
The wolfish men took my bags from the carousel, and soon we were all in the back of Ms. Hunter’s limousine, cruising along the highway toward her fabled resort residence. The tinted windows turned daylight to twilight.
Her dark gaze pierced me. “Dr. Sutton, we have spoken in brief already, but you know my interest in the Moon. I have, in my collection, the capsule from Apollo 18. It is my wish to travel there, and you claim to have a way. Explain.”
So intent was her stare that I had to catch my breath. “Well, yes, in theory…”
“In theory? Please, don’t waste my time like those amateurs in the Artemis Project.”
“N-no, not like those guys. I mean, they mean well…”
She interrupted me. “Yes, but so is the Starfleet Command club. I’d sooner back those lunatics lobbying to make Jello Wrestling an Olympic sport. I want results.”
“Allow me to show you something,” I said, and opened my purse. I reached within and drew out a small wooden jewelry box.
She took it from me and the hinges creaked as she looked inside. Her eyes flicked from the contents to me. “Is this?”
“Yes. Regolith,” I said, struggling to keep my smile from cracking into a grin.
“If real, this sample is worth… a quarter of a million dollars, I’d say.”
“At least that,” I said. “But since you have pledged such a generous amount to our Kickstarter, you may keep it.”
She snapped her fingers again, and one of the wolfish men handed her a loupe. Its light pierced the gloom of the limo’s interior. “Very generous for a project strapped for funds. How did you get it?”
“Our prototype quantum translocation device. We sent a modified Roomba through a portal to bring this back. It will need a lot more power and equipment to send humans through. Not to mention spacesuits.”
She snapped the box shut. “A portal? So there is no rocketry involved? Pity.”
“This is far safer, ma’am.”
She waved a hand. “Never mind. A portal has other symbolism that pleases me. That and your name.”
“Yes, it pleases me. You have my patronage, Dionne.”
We shook hands, and I had a desire to howl with joy.