So io9 ran a little creative prompt article here asking for people to – if they want to – write a short prompted by the artsy picture they posted. I thought I’d give it a shot. This may or may not be an excerpt from the Flatliners series I have planned down the line, and if it is, then Trixie’s name is something different. I just don’t have my notes on me at the moment:
The scrapyard went a couple acres deep, long mounds of junked tech towering over the dirty little path that wound between them. Scroungers would pay the owner for the right to scale the twisted heaps of metal, signing a waiver that left her unresponsible for any injuries incurred by stepping in the wrong spot or accidentally gripping a jagged strip of something. A handful of deaths occurred each year, but it didn’t deter any back-alley engineers desperate for their missing piece.
The yard was closed to customers today. A new load of junk had been dropshipped in and the owner wanted first crack at it. She had her own projects going after all, and what was the point in anything the thing if she didn’t get the privilege to snake the good stuff for her own?
Cash didn’t mind the “Closed” sign, though, nor did he mind the security posted up beyond it. They recognized him and knew better than to try and stop him. In fact, they were nice enough to warn him that she wouldn’t be too happy to see him. He didn’t mind that much, either.
He walked the path while the sky above him turned from the yellow of morning into the lighter blues of day and the air around him warmed to reflect the same. He almost stopped to check out a portable electropump but reminded himself that he was here on business and continued on until he found the little green flag. It was planted on the left of the path, nestled in a gnarled and empty engine block of a vehicle that hadn’t seen production in twenty or thirty years. Cash went right.
He climbed up on the heap, watching his hands and feet and letting the strength implants in his shoulders, hips and knees pull him up with little effort. Once he reached the top, it was another thirty minutes until he got where he was trying to go. He recognised it immediately. He couldn’t not; there was only one place in the scrapyard like it.
A wide clearing opened up in the middle of the heaps. There was a small structure erected, open on three sides and with a slanted roof that covered a worn-out bed, miniature fridge and work bench. Speakers posted at the edges of the clearing would normally warn scavengers to turn back when they got too close. Turrets armed with stun rounds would fire on those who didn’t listen. All of those had been deactivated so the yard’s owner could work in peace.
Cash stepped carefully down the mound and into the clearing. There she was, hunched over what looked like a stripped skiff, though why she would want to take that out on any of the local brackish was beyond him.
She was dressed in shorts and a tank top with sweat across her shoulders from the hard work she’d been doing. Dark hair, shoulder length, and an attractiveness that distracted most men from her greatest strength: the chaos that was her mind.
This was a woman who appreciated beautiful things: flowers and butterflies and lightning. But she was analytical. Science and engineering fascinated her. The tech behind the flying contraptions of the past that influenced what went into creating speeders and secureships and gunners now. She could be ruthless, dragonesque in her talent for finding the most lucrative but devastating solutions to a score.
Her petite stature was a nonissue, as were her looks. The way she could work her way around a machine was impressive, but anyone who got past that smile of hers would stop there with their surprise. But it wasn’t that, either. Her cunning, her creative mind: that’s what brought him here. That’s what made her truly dangerous. It didn’t take her turning and pointing a gun at him to prove it, but she did that anyway.
“Trixie,” he said.
“Cash,” she replied. “I really want to shoot you right now.”
“I know. I’m here about a job.”
“You always are and it always comes back to bite me in the ass. Not you. Never you. What could you possibly say that would convince me?”
“It’ll be fun? And you’ll have plenty of opportunities to shoot me.”
Trixie thought about it for a long moment and then lowered her gun. “If you’ll help me get these propulsors plugged in, you can tell me more about it. Then we’ll see.”