Enchanted Spark

Writing Inspirations
Congratulations to our May Winner Deb Kapke!

The Grandmother Clause
by Deb Kapke

It was the feeling of having your stomach in your throat like on a roller coaster only it didn't stop at the bottom of the hill. There was no hill. It was no roller coaster. When the feeling started to subside she opened her eyes. The helicopter was still there above her head -- a little higher and smaller now -- pounding like drums. The cirrus clouds behind it looked so soft and delicate. The chopper was hard and dark.

Esmeralda was looking for a solid answer.

A week ago Esmeralda stood in front of the Reviewer. She told him, "I wish to see my grandmother's death, so I know."

"Esmeralda," he said, "let it go. What does it matter anymore? It was an accident."

"People still talk. They blame Poppy. After all these years, I want to know. It's my right."

The law allowed a type of energy viewing called MT5.0.7. It was permitted for use 50 years after the original incident. This was to prevent abuse of the system while still allowing people to review an event as it actually happened. Like family. Like Esmeralda. But with longer life spans these days, the law would need revision eventually. Esmeralda figured she better do it now before she lost her chance.

She wrinkled her brow and looked into the eyes of the Reviewer. "I need to know."

It wasn't bad right after the accident. Everyone loved Juanita, and people were full of condolences. But then the whispers started. Whether through guilt or gossip or pure grief, Esmeralda's grandfather never recovered. When he’d see Esmeralda there would be a hint of the old twinkle, but it quickly faded. Even those who knew him, and never would have imagined him to be guilty, began to have their doubts. Esmeralda grew up loving what was left of Poppy and her family, but the unknown still pulled at her gut.

The MT5.0.7 equipment interpreted the energy patterns from the past using just a few physical pieces of matter from the original event. Anyone could read minds and see events as they actually happened, once the time law allowed. Before that, only an official inquisitor conducting an investigation could apply for MT5.0.7. People still wanted their privacy. But just the knowledge that a statement could be accurately confirmed was often enough to move an investigation along. It changed detective work and crime but didn't eliminate either.

This was Esmeralda's turn to find out how her grandmother died. There had been so many rumors, but the official determination remained, "accident." Conspiracy theories and intrigue, however, are downright immortal.

They tried to blame Juanita's husband, Esmeralda's Poppy, because he would have been one of only a few to have access to all the equipment, and he was in the chopper when it happened. When it was also revealed that they argued that morning, suspicions grew.

Juanita was an extreme sport stunt performer called a Bubble Rider. Resorts and tourist spots would hire her. She'd jump out of a good ol' fashioned helicopter, do some flips and twirls, then a glider bubble would deploy. They were iridescent and beautiful. A skilled rider could manipulate a glider bubble to take on any number of shapes -- parachute, glider, a bubble surfer. After her acrobatic moves, Juanita would continue her descent down the oceanic winds and drop onto waves, where her bubble bounced a bit then pushed her in to shore like a surfboard. She drifted into bays at beach-area resorts in front of enthusiastic fans.

She died on vacation. It wasn't even a stunt dive. A ten year old could have made that jump.

And now it was Esmeralda feeling the pull of gravity as she accelerated through the atmosphere. She wasn't really jumping, of course, but this was how MT5.0.7 viewing technology worked. Once hooked up you were

The helicopter was tinier as it began to turn away. Esmeralda hadn't known helicopters were so loud. They were old even in Juanita's day, dancing in the skies like hulking Paleozoic insects. Now there were only a few left, and most of them were grounded.

Esmeralda's eyes watered, and she blinked, barely opening her eyes before blinking again. Her adrenaline rush grew.

Then, like a child's iridescent soap bubble expanding from a wand, the glider quivered and shimmered as it deployed above the ocean, and her descent slowed dramatically. A squirmy human was metamorphosed into a butterfly. Drifting a bit before turning in casual twists, Esmeralda was starting to enjoy this. "I see what Juanita liked so much." She giggled and smiled.

Then there was a flash and a loud steady beep, and Esmeralda fell back into reality. Somebody was yelling, "Shit! Shit! Shit! Is she okay?" It was over. The MT5.0.7 had powered down, and Esmeralda was no longer in Juanita's mind. Juanita was again long since gone. Sirens were going off, and floating view screens were locked in warning messages.

Esmeralda gasped. "What happened?" Dazed, confused. She didn't get to see how Juanita died. Juanita had not been worried. She was glad to be out in the air, feeling great, not even mad at Poppy. Everything was fine. But Esmeralda was back in the dim room where she'd started. The machine had dropped her out of the connection.

The techs frantically checked readings and reviewed logs. Esmeralda eased herself into a shaky sitting position. Electrodes were still connected like antennae.

Glider bubbles could be sensitive to energy. It was why bubble riders liked to use helicopters – less chance of glider disruption from a chopper than more modern craft.

Checking the view time on the MT5.0.7, it was the exact time Juanita's bubble had failed. Both machines dropped both women at the same point of Juanita’s jump.

It was the feeling of having your stomach in your throat.

Esmeralda felt beyond a doubt that Poppy didn't kill Juanita whether by accident or on purpose, but unfortunately Esmeralda and the MT5.0.7 may have. A new investigation was opened. Once again the official determination was, "accident."

Deb lives near the nation's capital with her DH, awesome tween daughter, and two crazy cats. She is a mom and graphic designer who enjoys friends and family, playing games, reading and writing speculative fiction, making small art, eating yummy food, and drinking lots and lots of tea.

2 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Holly Jennings | June 02, 2013 at 06:39 PM EDT

Great story. Loved the line. \"Then, like a child's iridescent soap bubble expanding from a wand, the glider quivered and shimmered as it deployed above the ocean...\" Perfect imagery. Congrats!

2. Deb Kapke | June 03, 2013 at 06:28 AM EDT

Thanks, Holly! And thank you Melinda and Julie! Looking forward to more photos.

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