‘Downtime’ – ‘Zero’ side-story and #FlashForFriday

If you haven’t read it here then you have probably heard me shouting from the mountaintops that my debut science fiction novel, Zero, has been accepted for publication and is due to be released August 2014. YES IT’S TRUE. THEY’RE LETTING ME LOOSE ON AMAZON.


You can read the official publication notice here and, if you sign up to Dagda’s newsletter whilst you’re there, you will get updates on the book as well as news on their other works. They accept submissions of poetry, short and flash fiction as well as novel manuscripts and have a rapidly growing catalogue worth checking out.

Rest assured however that I shall not be shutting up about this for some considerable time, so keep an eye on The Path also for cover reveals, commentary on the bittersweet process that is editing, as well as my usual waffle on writing, reading, the universe and everything. And bacon.

In the meantime, it has been a fortnight and so here is my next contribution to #FlashForFriday. (See previous pieces here and feel free to join in!) As a tease/treat this week’s flash fiction is a side-snippet of interaction from two of the characters from Zero after a particularly traumatic event. I have included a suitably themed track from the amazing mind.in.a.box to set the tone. Enjoy!




“I’ve done what I can, Captain,” Rami said. Kinjo marvelled at the steadiness of her lieutenant’s voice. “We’ve set all the bones and stitched up all the wounds. It’s up to him now. We’ll know more in the morning.”

The captain’s face on the surgical bay’s viewscreen was tight. “Thank you, Lieutenant. Get some downtime. You and Midshipman Kinjo…” Kinjo watched something chase itself over the captain’s hard face then smooth again. “Thank you.”

Rami nodded and cut the connection. Kinjo was still stood by the gurney, feeling like she could drop any minute but unable to move.

“Come on, Kinjo,” Rami said, moving to leave. “We’ve done all we can.”

Kinjo blinked again at the figure on the gurney, unable to recognise their commander. He was a mess of bandages and tubes. His chest rose and fell but otherwise he was unnaturally still. She thought he looked smaller than usual.

Rami called to her again and Kinjo followed her out of the surgical bay in a daze. They dumped their bloodied scrubs in the medbay santisier in silence, then Kinjo shadowed Rami’s steps all the way back to their cabin.

“I sometimes wonder if it’s worth it.”

“If what’s worth it?” Rami asked, voice finally betraying the strain she must be feeling as she finished washing in the cabin basin.

Kinjo blinked, not realising she’d spoken out loud. She watched Rami towel her face dry. There were dark circles under the lieutenant’s eyes but otherwise she was unreadable.

“Loving someone,” Kinjo murmured. She caught the look that flitted over Rami’s face before she smoothed it out and felt guilt prickle her skin. Kinjo knew all about Rami and Commander Webb…how they looked at each other and what they said to each other when they thought they were alone. You’re never truly alone on a ship like this.

Well, not in the literal sense…

Yes, Kinjo knew about Rami and Webb. But what she had with the commander was different.

“I know I shouldn’t care so much,” Kinjo almost whispered, still holding Rami’s steady but unfathomable gaze. “I know this work is dangerous. But…I owe him this life, whatever it is. It’s hard not to…”

“He’s not dead yet,” Rami said, sitting next to Kinjo with the edge of a smile curling up her mouth.

Kinjo stared at the deck between her boots. “Not yet.”

They both sat in silence a moment. The ship hummed round them and exhaustion lapped at Kinjo in waves. It wasn’t just a weariness of the flesh. It went right to the bone. Right to her centre.

She jumped when Rami put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s worth it,” she said.

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18 Responses to ‘Downtime’ – ‘Zero’ side-story and #FlashForFriday

  1. So excited for you, and yes, never forget the bacon!

  2. akhinchey says:

    Stellar as always lovely Lady 🙂 As you know I’m not great at Sci Fi but your pieces draw me in each and every time 🙂 Yay 🙂 xxx

  3. Helena Hann-Basquiat says:

    There’s a tenderness in this writing that I don’t think I’ve seen from you before — it’s nice watching a talented writer stretch themselves — like watching a Olympic gymnast. Or insert whatever simile you feel is appropriate.

  4. M. C. Dulac says:

    Sci-fi with soul! One quick glance and suddenly I’m drawn right in, reading right to the end! And not only that it’s an excerpt from the book! Can’t wait for the rest!

  5. 1WriteWay says:

    Great teaser, Jex! Now I want to know about these relationships, which seem somewhat complicated: Rami, Kinjo, Webb. Plot may draw me to a book, but the characters keep me there 🙂

  6. Anneque G. Malchien says:

    Them feels :0
    I can’t wait for the full version. Ra ra ra. The song is pretty cool too. You will have to release your whole mixtape for the novel.

  7. Pingback: Growing Up…Or Not | The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog

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  9. Pingback: ‘Hampton Loade Station, July 1942′ – new #FlashForFriday | The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog

  10. Reblogged this on The Path – J. S. Collyer's Writing Blog and commented:

    For Throwback Thursday this week I thought it would be nice to share some fiction – specifically a Zero side-story. This was released with a special e-book edition of Zero last year through the crowdfunding campiagn but is also posted for free here on my WordPress (although the special e-book edition did have a couple of exclusive Zero side-stories that are not avialable anywhere else)

    It’s a nice little and rare glimpse (since Zero is told entirely from the protagonists Hugo and Webbs’ points of view) of two of the chracters close to Webb during a trying time in the story.


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