Tanni and the RapUnsEl – excerpt

I’m currently working on a story inspired by a call for submissions to an anthology for stories which take place on Venus. The working title is “Tanni and the RapUnsEl“. Here is an excerpt from the unfinished, unedited work:


Tanni pulled herself up, and dusted herself off, she felt like a mess. She needed sleep, and she needed a shower. She sat back in the chair, reconnected the data-feed to the helmet and replaced the helmet on her head, going immediately back into direct control mode for EnTa-7.

When she reoriented herself, and looked back to the dome, she couldn’t find the dancer among the trees. Had he spotted her? Was he hiding? She felt bad then. She was a voyeur, a peeper. She’d made an innocent, beautiful man feel spied upon.

She was about to turn away, to turn back to her work and forget having ever seen him, when he reemerged. He stepped out of a corner, past a pair of modified apple trees on this side of the small garden. He held a towel in one hand and a bottle in the other. He sprayed water from the bottle into his open mouth, then over his face, and into his hair, letting it drip down his leotard where it mingled with his sweat. She could see his face now, heart-shaped with high cheekbones and a cleft chin. Long, wavy hair tumbled over his shoulders. Tanni felt her face flush. She licked her lips and shifted her body a bit in her chair to relieve a certain antsyness. The drone responded, and wiggled in place just slightly.

The man turned piercing green eyes in her direction, and her heart skipped. Her breath stopped. He looked directly at her, and she knew what she looked like from there: a dirty, multi-appendaged construction drone with a top-mounted set of cameras below a small antenna array. She wanted to turn and run. She wanted to hide. She couldn’t even turn away. She couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t actuate one servo. They stared, she at him, he at her drone, for what had to have been hours, before, finally, she let out her breath. The drone sagged just slightly, a very organic movement, and the dancer quirked one corner of his mouth into a smile.

Heart racing, breath ragged, Tanni began to take a step back, but changed her mind. She stepped forward instead. As she did, she registered a slight resistance in her forward foot, and the world went black. “What?!” she yelled into the blackness.

Red letters spilled across the darkened world. ‘Signal lost.’

Slowly, she removed the helmet and took one shaking, deep breath. “Oh no…” she said simply, and stared ahead at the undecorated wall of her cabin.