So my Shadow Run Game Master gave us homework...

Basically he was giving out in-game rewards for writing backstory (one karma point per 150 words, for you Shadow Run players). And, since I'm a dork, I did it. So here's a short (short) story... eh, okay, it's really some flash fan fiction I wrote in about 40 minutes Sunday morning. And then I'm going to pick apart everything wrong with it, you know, for when I clean it up for a second draft.

Ms. Dressler?” Gabbi asked, shifting a bit on her feet in front of her teacher’s desk. It was still 10 minutes before class was supposed to start this morning.

Ms. Dressler looked up from her handheld with a small sigh. “Yes, Liesel?”

Gabbi bit her tongue, just a little. Her name was Gabbi. Stupid school rules about first names only, no nicknames. “Um. The project due today? I um, never heard from the rest of my teammates. I tried contacting them, I swear, in school and after, but no one would talk to me. Um. I made a text file of all the times I tried. But, um. I couldn’t talk to them. Or find out what they wanted me to do on the project. So, um. Here’s my copy of the project,” Gabbi said, shooting a project file over to Ms. Dressler’s inbox via her open Matrix connection. “I um. I didn’t want to take up the team’s slot in the classroom… thingie.” Gabbi dropped her eyes back down and shuffled her feet again. She wasn’t sure but that might have been the most she’d said to anyone in one go all week.

The handheld made a small clunk against the desk. “Liesel, please look at me.”

Gabbi looked back up.

“Are you telling me that you did the entire team project by yourself?”

“Yes? I’m sure the rest of the team did the work too...”

“Liesel, that project was designed to take a team of four students two months to complete.”

“Oh.” Gabbi looked back down again and shrugged. “Maybe it’s not very good then…?”

“I’ll take a look. But Liesel, the next time you’re having trouble with your team, come to me and I’ll talk to them.”

Gabbi cringed, hunching her shoulders, and muttered “Yes ma’am.”

“You find that an unsatisfactory solution?”

“Um… That usually gets me hit.” A lock of white hair fell forward into Gabbi’s eyes and she tucked it back behind her ear “And they complain to the teachers I don’t do any work. And I get hit again if I protest… I’d rather just do the work…”

Ms. Dressler pinched the bridge of her nose and didn’t say anything for a moment. “Well, are you ready to present today?”

“Yes ma’am,” Gabbi said, swallowing hard. Presentations in meat space were the worst.

Ms. Dressler’s computer pinged Gabbi’s with an invite into the classroom Matrix node. “We have some time before class starts. Show me what you’ve got.”

Oh, in the Matrix. She could do that. Gabbi flashed Ms. Dressler a grateful smile and slipped into the Matrix space.

As a first draft, that's got more description and less talking-heads dialogue than usual for me, so that's an improvement. It's still very talking-heads though, not going to lie – still need to keep working on that.  For instance, Ms. Dressler needs some description. Like at all. And I need to look up the correct terminology around the Matrix in Shadow Run – I was stuck in the Eclipse Phase setting so words were not coming. (In my defense, all the SR books are at the GM's house.) I've gotten across that my main character, Gabbi, is bullied, but not that part of the reason is her albinism. And for all the description I've given, she could be anywhere from a middle school student up through college. And anywhere in the world. I can probably skip trying to place the story in location, but really do need to put in an age for the poor kid. And more physical description. Also, there's nothing truly specific to the Shadow Run setting here, which I suppose could be a good thing or bad thing depending on your point of view. The term Matrix, while used in the setting, is used in plenty of other worlds too, so that at least could convey what's going on with the computer systems to folks not versed in the setting. Maybe want to get into the story that there are other intelligent species, like elves, orcs, and dwarves, in this world. Maybe.

For flash fiction, I'm reasonably happy how it's come out. Honestly happier that I could write a) something short and b) how long it took. Once I sat down to write that is. Pretty sure this one percolated in my brain for a week, in that space between when I lie down for sleep and when I actually fall asleep.