Sunday writing chat prompts for 13 Jun 2021

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    • #7405
      Broker
      Participant

      The Sunday Brunch Prompted Writing Chat is an opportunity each week to test your skills at writing under pressure — or to have some fun without the need to be brilliant — or both!

      The prompts are intended as both as a challenge and a starting point, open to creative interpretation. You can use these as an excuse to write anything that comes to mind, whether it’s fiction or creative non-fiction or a mixture of both. You can write a separate piece for each prompt, or try to link them all together in a single story.

      If you join in the chat, you can add “an excuse to complain about unfair prompts” to the entertainment, too. But even if you can’t attend the chat session, feel free to give the prompts a try anyway (and leave your responses, comments, or complaints in this thread if you like).

      This week’s prompts are posted below.

      1. Use the following five words: inappropriate, arrange, projection, plead, update. (10 min)

      2. Use the phrase, “It looks the same to me.” (10 min)

      3. Write about craving a stimulant. (10 min)

    • #7406
      Broker
      Participant

      “Systems, Prop,” said Jun.

      “Systems, go,” said Gin. Jun could hear her roommate both on the loop and over the partition in the cube farm that was the Engineering control room.

      “I almost missed a redline update inserted into the procedure. Thanks for the catch, those who were following along and let me know.”

      “That’s why we have lots of people paying attention,” said Gin.

      “Command, Prop, please bring up the Ion Thruster High Voltage Setting procedure. I have the document number when you’re ready to copy,” said Jun.

      “Prop, Command, go ahead.”

      So Jun read out the multi-digit bunch of numbers and letters, being careful not to rearrange any of them inappropriately. The Commandos, as the Prop group called them informally among themselves, would compare the title of the procedure to what she’d given, so there wasn’t much risk of using the wrong one.

      Gin put the new procedure up on the projection screen. It was really just a big computer screen, but it did remind Jun of the actual projectors they’d had when she was a little kid in school.

      “Prop, Command, we’re ready to proceed.”

      “Copy that,” said Jun. And she read out the steps in the procedure.

      When they had come up with the idea of using nitrogen instead of xenon in the ion thruster, they had written up a document and sent it back to headquarters, where, Jun was sure, grey men in suits dissected it minutely, argued over all the details, and came back with a list of stuff the Prop group hadn’t considered, or if they had, only in a sketchy fashion. They had, for example, reminded the flight team to raise the high voltage, so that the N2+ ions screaming out of the thruster would be going fast enough to compensate for the fact that they’re less massive than the Xe+ ions they normally used. The voltage setting was adjustable but didn’t quite have the range they wanted, so they’d have to live with a bit less thrust. This produced a side discussion, pleading with the flight dynamics people, who decided it would do.

      So then Jun and Jon spent a couple shifts each (he on days, she on swing shift) rewriting the whole startup procedure to allow for tweaking the setting if necessary. That version hadn’t been approved yet. But it was the one in Jun’s head, which explained why she hadn’t thought to look for an insertion marked in the margin of the official version. A reason, but not an excuse. They had to get it right.

      “Who wrote this procedure, anyway?” she asked herself, referring to the unaltered version. She flipped to the first page and… there was her name in the author slot. She had forgotten all about that. It was the first document she had to revise when she came aboard. “Oh. It was me.”

      She watched the screen full of numbers detailing what the ion gun was doing, wondering in the back of her mind whether they had to do something similar to the electron gun. It was just there to complete the electrical circuit, so that the plasma cloud they were shooting out the back end of the ship would be, or at least could be, electrically neutral, and the ship likewise, so it wouldn’t want to come home again.

      “All the numbers look good to me,” said Jun.

      “Still watching the temperature settle,” said Mona on the Prop group’s loop. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

      “Prop, Systems,” said Gin. “Do you have a time estimate?”

      “Five minutes?” Mona suggested in Jun’s other ear.

      “Systems, Prop, give us five minutes,” Jun said on the anomaly loop.

      “Copy,” said Gin. “Take five everybody.”

      Everybody except the Prop group of course. “The temperature looks the same to me,” said Jun, who had turned on a widget to plot the last half hour’s data and kept adding the new stuff as it became available.

      “OK, I think we’re good,” said Mona, about two minutes later.

      Jun glanced at the clock, and then the handwritten time she had jotted down when Gin had dismissed the troops. She waited for the five minutes to expire. “Copy that,” she said on the Prop loop.

      There was a tap at the edge of the partition, so Jun whirled around. Gin was standing in the cubicle doorway, with a coffee in each hand, smiling. “You happy with things so far?” she said quietly.

      “Yeah,” said Jun. “Thanks for the coffee… I assume one of those is for me?”

      “Oh, right,” said Gin, with a giggle. She handed it over and put on her game face again.

      Jun held the cup under her nose, inhaled the steam, and held it up as a toast.

      Gin returned the salutation and went back to her desk.

      Jun watched 30 seconds expire off the clock, and then called in. “Systems, Prop, ready when you are.”

      “Prop, Systems, copy that,” said Gin.

      There was another minute of radio silence. Gin was standing up on her side of the partition, looking around to see if everybody was back from the break.

      “This is Systems,” she said, sitting down. “We’re ready to proceed with step fifteen of the ITHV setting procedure.”

      Jun took another pull on her coffee, as much as she could stand given the temperature.

      “Command, Prop,” said Jun. “Step Fifteen.” She read the command that would execute the voltage setting they had loaded.

      “Prop, Command, ready to send.”

      “Please proceed,” said Jun. She glued her eyes to the high voltage power supply screen.

    • #7407
      Sue
      Participant

      Amanda, the one woman who has held my interest for the past several years and who I thought had no interest in me after our dismal attempt at dating seven years ago.
      Laci, my pesky and sometimes useful sister, found out during their getting-to-know-you chat that Amanda’s rejection had little to do with me as a person. According to what she told my sister, the timing had been all wrong.
      Amanda had just broken up with a cheater and even though I wasn’t being inappropriate, I’d said a stupid saying that was popular at the time which was supposed to be silly but given her immediate history, she couldn’t help the projection of her ex saying the exact same thing when she caught him in bed with someone else.
      Back then she just shut down? Even though I pleaded with her to let me know what I’d done wrong, she abandoned our date. I arranged for flowers the next day and she texted me an apology, that she couldn’t see me again. She told me she had some issues she needed to work out before attempting to date again.
      The next time I saw her, she came to an event with some guy who was all over her. She gave me an apologetic glance and left with him at the end of the night.
      Now, after Laci’s update, I reviewed the situation with a new lens. I could see it now, plain as day. As soon as those words left my mouth, Amanda stiffened, as if I’d slapped her. The phrase itself was benign, but if it had history, especially from a cheating ex, then it would have been a sucker punch. No wonder I couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong.
      Giving up on sleep, I picked up my phone. As I typed, I hoped she had the same cell number. “I feel like I owe you an apology.” I hit send and realized she may not have kept my number. “This is Alex, BTW.”
      Three dancing dots appeared a few seconds later. “I know who you are.” The dots continued their dance. “I’m assuming Laci repeated my explanation. You don’t owe me anything. You had no way of knowing.” More dots. “In fact, since we’re going to be spending a lot of time together, now that we’ve discovered Luke is your brother, I think we should sit down and have a conversation to clear the air.”
      “It looks the same to me, too. How about tomorrow morning?”
      It took a minute or two before I saw the dots again.
      “Had to check. I have nothing scheduled until afternoon. Do you want to meet for coffee?”
      “After this late night, coffee sounds necessary. How about we do breakfast? There is a Cora’s at Parkway Mall.”
      “I love Cora’s. 9am? I’ll be craving coffee by then.”
      “Nine sounds perfect. See you there.”

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