For today's Fantasy Chat, we're walking on the sci-fi side of things with an excerpt from Ellie Garratt's short story collection Taking Time.
They–the lottery officials–are waiting for me. It turns out the last door on the right isn’t an exit, rather a walkway that leads past the fleet relay station, now buzzing with activity, and on to lottery headquarters–a large room with a metallic desk and four chairs in one corner.
“Hi,” I say as I walk into the room. An elderly man and middle-aged woman I recognise from lottery advertisements are standing behind the desk.
“Charles Schrodinger?” the elderly man asks.
“Excellent,” he says.
I hear an eruption of cheers travelling our way from the flight deck and suspect I’m being ousted from the draw after all. I glance at my ticket and begin examining it for signs of forgery.
“There are a few things we need to go over before the planet is officially yours, Charles. You understand there are matters that need to be addressed?”
I must give the impression of being vacant at that point because the old man repeats himself twice.
“But that would mean I’ve already won,” I mutter.
“Yes. We thought you’d been briefed.” The old man and woman glance at one another.
The female official, who I finally remember is called Janna Brisbane, makes a tutting sound.
“Take a seat, Charles. There are a few things we need to discuss,” Janna says with an exasperated tone to her voice. I stay standing.
Ignoring my failure to sit, she continues. “The thing is safety–your safety. We couldn’t possibly leave you out there to be savaged by the fleet. Have you any idea of the tactics those friendly-faced terraformers would use to part you with your ticket? The deceit they would employ to pass themselves off as you? No. We won’t even start talking about the religious groups. So, the draw is pre-determined in this way.”
“Pre-determined?” I ask.
“You don’t think we leave it to chance, do you? Let a random person or ship win a planet. Considerable research and thought goes into deciding who is the best candidate for the job. Of course there’ve been mistakes; the first planet and the isolationists, but on the whole I believe we got it right.”
Win one of two $25.00 (£15) Amazon gift cards and a character named after you in an upcoming novella.
The future of humanity must be decided in Next Phase. Winning the Planetary Lottery is not as lucky as it first seems in Schrodinger's Gamble. An apocalypse and its aftermath threaten to tear one couple apart in Daiker's Children. In Life As I Know It a reclusive man finds both his heart and home invaded during an alien harvest. In Taking Time a demon seeking shelter on a distant planet finds himself facing a very different kind of demon, after answering a frontier settlement's plea for help.
Stories range from flash fiction to novelette in length.
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A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror meant writing was the logical outlet for Ellie Garratt’s passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre was published in March 2013 and contains nine previously published stories. Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories is her second short story collection.