Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 3
Apr 2011 15

Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 3

Posted In Blog,Books,Entertainment,Fiction,Geek,Internuts

by Mur Lafferty

SuicdeGirls presents the third installment of our Fiction Friday sci-fi series, Marco and the Red Granny, which is brought to you by SG columnist Mighty Mur a.k.a. cyber commentator Mur Lafferty.

Marco and the Red Granny is set in a not-so-distant future where an alien species, the Li-Jun, has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, where the Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate senses other than sight.

In the previous installments, Marco, a writer whose career has long been in the doldrums, gets a surprise call from an agent he thought he no longer had, informing him that he had received an offer from Mollywood for a much coveted Li-Jun patronage. Keen to catch up career-wise with his ex-GF Penelope, who’d unceremoniously dumped him after being recruited by the Li-Jun two years earlier, Marco jumps on the next shuttle to the moon. Once aboard, he finds himself sitting next to a seemingly unassuming old lady called Heather, who turns out to be The Red Granny, a legend in Li-Jun’s reality show world for being a three-time champion of The Most Dangerous Game (which requires contestants to sign away the rights to their life).

We rejoin Marco shortly after he lands on the Moon. Accompanied by Heather The Red Granny and her Li-Jun bodyguard Seven Blue, who are heading in the same direction, Marco sets off to House Blue to meet up with his new patron…

Marco and the Red Granny – Part 3
Marco, Heather, and Seven rode the monorail around the perimeter of the dome, heading toward Mollywood and the Li-Jun’s private living areas beyond. They had the car to themselves, Seven indicating it was required for The Red Granny’s safety.

Ride Base’s interior was far more colorful than Marco had expected. Many of the buildings within were made of dyed moon rock, the gray covered by yellows and reds and blues. The architecture was astonishing as well, round houses, mini-domes, glass pagodas, and buildings that went deep into the moon and had lush parks spreading on top of them. A full half of the city was underground, it seemed, giving plenty of room for recreational areas and farms.

“I thought you said you’d be mobbed when you got here,” Marco said, staring out the window at the city slipping by. Children played in a park, taking odd advantage of the low gravity to invent jumping games Marco had never seen before.

Heather laughed. “Oh honey, we aren’t in Mollywood proper yet. Earthers often refer to all of Ride Base as Mollywood, but it’s only about a third of the colony. If they’re not expecting to see me, they rarely do. But tourists in Mollywood are always looking to see if someone is ‘Someone.’” She made air quotes with her wrinkled fingers. “When we get out, you can decide if I’m a crazy old lady who thinks too much of herself.

“I never said-” Marco said.

She smiled at him, her garish red lips stretching wide and clown-like. “I’m poking fun, honey. Don’t worry about it. You’re a dear to listen to my stories.”

“So if I can ask,” Marco said as the monorail dipped into a tunnel, “I was under the impression that Li-Jun hired artists, not, well…” He was suddenly in an uncomfortable place to describe Heather. “Cold blooded killer” didn’t seem to fit her, but he didn’t know what else to call her.

Even though the monorail had interior lights, the mood in their car seemed much darker without the light of the dome. Heather stared into the darkness with a small smile on her face. “Marco, you’re asking the wrong question. I would be wondering what a House like Blue wants to do being a patron to a writer and illustrator.”

Marco had to admin to himself that, in his limited time to prepare, he hadn’t actually read up on House Blue. He knew a little about the patronage program, and thought it happened only to creative types. He didn’t follow the tabloids or Mollywood news; he was worried he’d hear something about his ex-girlfriend hitting it big. He could see now, although he’d never admit it to Penelope, that his spitefulness may possibly have bitten him in the ass.

He swallowed. The Red Granny and Seven Blue watched him impassively. Then she tittered. “Oh honey, I’m not trying to scare you. But you should know that House Blue doesn’t, to my knowledge, become patrons to artists. They have, well, other things in mind other than art.

“Like?” he asked.

She waved her hand at him. “Oh, it’s not my place to say. I’m sure they will tell you everything you need to know, right, Seven?”

The alien nodded once, and looked into the darkness. “One minute until Mollywood.”

Marco followed his gaze into the black tunnel. “How do you know?”

“Oh don’t bother asking that, honey. They never answer,” she said. “Surely there’s something else we can talk about.”

She smiled at him, and he realized he was sitting across from one of the moon’s most skilled killers. He estimated she had around forty deaths under her belt at this point; effortless, easy kills. Marco hadn’t seen the show, but even he’d heard about The Red Granny.

“Can you tell me- well, I wasn’t a watcher, I don’t know how you-” he faltered, unsure of how to say it.

She said it for him. “How did a little old lady kill all those strong men and women?”

He shrugged. “Well. Yeah. Sorry, I never saw the show.”

She pulled a pair of knitting needles out of her purse with some unknown piece of bright purple fabric hanging from them. “Trade secret, I’m afraid, my dear. Maybe you’ll watch this season.”

He nodded. “Definitely.”

The monorail began slowing then, and they pulled into a brightly lit, wide-open station. Crowds crushed against their car, slapping it even as it slid by. They screamed and shouted, waved signs splashed with red paint (Marco hoped it was red paint, anyway). They surged when the doors opened, eager to get at Heather, who sat calmly in her seat. Marco was unsure whether they wanted to worship her or kill her, but Seven stood and spread his tentacles out to span the doorway, blocking the entrance.

“Step back, make room,” he said, and the crowd immediately fell back, cowed.

Marco could understand why. The Li-Jun had not shouted, but along with his words were the scent of a sour, panicked body odor – pheromones? – And visuals appeared in his mind of frightened rabbits running from a keen-eyed hawk.

Seven swiveled his head around to face them, like an owl. “It’s safe now.” Marco had the feeling of being embraced by a strong, loving mother figure, and immediately relaxed.

Heather The Red Granny stood and patted her hair. She stowed her knitting and picked up her shoulder bag, and Seven got their larger luggage.

“Come along dear,” Heather said to Marco, and they exited the monorail.

Hostility and frantic desire wafted from the crowd as they walked by, the silent tension making Marco wish they’d turn toward the other cars of the monorail, where the passengers were trying to fight their way through the crowds.

Some of the signs said, “RED GRANNY IS OUR SAVIOUR” and others proclaimed “HOW MUCH MORE BLOOD WILL SHE SPILL?” Some of the people had red paint poured over their faces, giving them a gory, gruesome look. Most of these garish people carried signs that called for Heather’s retirement from the game, others called for her death.

“Who are all these people?” Marco whispered.

“My fans,” she replied.

“They can’t all be fans. It looks like some want you dead!” he said.

“They’re the most fanatic of all,” she said, looking straight ahead. “Come on, let’s go meet our patron.”

***
Excerpt from the Marco and the Red Granny, published by Restless Brain Media at Smashwords. Copyright 2010 Mur Lafferty.

Mur Lafferty is an author and podcast producer. She has released several works via audio podcast, including her novel Playing For Keeps, the novellas in the Heaven series, the audio drama The Takeover, and many others. She’s won the Parsec Award and the Podcast Peer award. Her published works include Playing For Keeps (Swarm), Nanovor: Hacked (Running Press Kids), and Tricks of the Podcasting Masters (Que), not to mention several short stories. She is the host of I Should Be Writing and the Angry Robot podcasts, as well as the editor of Escape Pod, the sci-fi audio magazine. Marco and the Red Granny was originally published as the premier podcast serial at Hub Magazine, and is available for Kindle via Amazon.

Mur lives in Durham, NC with her husband, Jim Van Verth, their daughter, and two dogs. You can find her in the Murverse, at Smashwords and on Twitter.