Author Archives: Jo Ann Schneider

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15-Jan-2021

Character – An Astronaut
Random Object – A Hammer
Genre – Mystery

“Morning, Pursuit, how did you sleep?”

“Like a baby, ground.” The woman on the other end of the monitor smiled.

I glanced at Mike, the other communications officer, and repressed a smirk. “Good to hear, Pursuit. Anything to report?”

“Negative. All systems are in the green.”

Mike snorted.

I waved him to be quiet. “Good to hear, Captain.”

“What do you have for us today?”

I wasn’t surprised that Captain Jones didn’t mention the incident from the night before. “Nothing terribly interesting. You’re on deck to run diagnostics on the water filtration system and the sensor array. After that Command wants you to take some new readings on Mars.”

“Sounds exciting.”

Next to me, Mike brought up the video feed from the past twelve hours. He propped his chin on one hand and began fast forwarding through the footage.

“We’re hoping for no excitement, Pursuit. We only believe in dullness.”

“Oh?” Captain Jones raised an eyebrow.

“Of course.”

A clanging noise coming through the earphones made me jump. It sounded like a ball peen hammer on a metal picnic table. A muffled curse followed the noise.

Captain Jones winced.

“Problem?” I asked.

The woman rolled her eyes and leaned into the camera. “Arjun is convinced he’s hearing strange noises coming from the hull.”

I managed a convincing frown. “Has to doctor done a checkup?”

“Have you ever tried to get Arjun to comply with an unscheduled medical checkup?”

“No, ma’am.”

She made a face. “I wouldn’t advise it.”

Mike slapped my arm where Captain Jones couldn’t see it. I followed his pointing finger to the monitor next to mine where Arjun floated next to the hull of the spacecraft with his ear on the surface, like an old-fashioned safe cracker. Mike had the playback on high speed, so it looked ridiculous when Arjun suddenly pushed off the hull like a frightened cat.

A snort escaped.

“Something funny?” Captain Jones asked.

“No, ma’am. Allergies.” I grabbed a tissue and wiped my nose.

“Uh-huh.”

This time the cursing from the background got louder, along with Arjun’s angry voice.

“There, did you hear it, Captain?”

Captain Jones sighed. “I’ll get back to you when we’re finished with the diagnostics.”

“Sounds good, ground out.”

The monitor went black.

Mike broke out into peals of laughter. “He looked for that thing for three hours!”

A few of the others in control drifted over.

“Did the first one go off?”

“Where is it?”

“Does the crew think there’s something wrong?”

Mike transferred his screen to the large one at the front of the room and replayed Arjun’s search on high speed.

“What sound is it making?” someone asked.

I consulted the list on my phone. “It should be an eerie groaning sound.” I watched as Arjun floated around in an attempt to find the source of the strange sound. Everyone started to laugh as he retrieved a hammer and started tapping the inside of the hull.

“Lindon is coming,” someone near the door said.

Mike returned the screen to normal and we all went back to work.

Well, everyone who’s monitor wasn’t in direct line of sight of Lindon kept watching Arjun looking for the source of the sound.

“He’s going to kill us,” Mike said with a laugh.

Lindon—a tall imposing man—strode into the room and draped his suit jacket over the back of his chair. “Arjun has reported a strange sound coming from the hull. I need everyone from engineering working with him ASAP to find the problem.”

“He called Lindon?” Mike muttered.

“Apparently.”

The engineering crew, who had planted most of our little surprises, ran into the conference room with coffee and tablets in hand.

I watched Lindon follow them. “Forget Arjun, Lindon is going to fire us all.”

“Naw.” Mike waved a hand. “Captain Jones will get a kick out of it.”

For the next hour the engineering team went over the report Arjun had sent. Mike and I speculated on what they thought was wrong.

I wasn’t surprised when a message came through to my terminal.

Arjun scowled at me. He had a small device in one hand, which he held up in front of his glare. “You will pay for this.”

“Pay for what?” I asked with as much innocence as I could muster.

“An Annoyatron? Really?”

“Huh, how did that get there?” I asked.

Arjun leaned closer. “I may be millions of miles away from you, but I still have plenty of friends on Earth. You will pay.”

I grinned. “Come on, you have to admit, that’s funny.”

“It’s not.” His stern expression didn’t crack.

“We just thought you might like something to break up the monotony.”

“How many more are there?”

I shrugged with my hands.

His eyes narrowed.

Captain Jones floated past behind Arjun. She gave me a smile and a thumbs up.

“Should I tell engineering that the problem has been solved?” I asked.

Arjun flipped me off and cut the transmission.

I brought up the list on my phone and clicked off the first item.

“Well?” Mike asked.

“One down, eight to go. The next one will sound like a cat.” I glanced at where the engineering team was leaving the conference room. They were laughing.

Lindon rolled his eyes at me, but said nothing. Mike held out his fist. I bumped it with mine.


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Down with the Sickness

I meant to have a theme for my blog for the next few months ready to go last week.

I meant to have another book finished and off to my editor this Friday.

I meant to start 2021 on the 1st, no the 12th.

Yet here we are, I’m typing this on the 12th, and this is the first time I’ve been able to sit at my computer for more than twenty minutes at a pop.

Not to mention creating coherent sentences.

What happened, you ask?

Covid19 came to the hubby’s family Christmas party.

We all knew the risks of getting together, so there’s no blame game going on. Instead, we’re all just trying to get better!

It’s been two weeks to the day since my first symptom. I was cleaning the bathroom and coughed once.

Just once. A nice, deep thing that came from the depths of my lungs.

That’s all it took. I knew I was in trouble. I went to get a test the next morning, warned everyone I’d seen over the past few days, then hunkered down in the house with the hubby, who was starting to feel a bit off too.

Without going into awful details, let’s just say two weeks of a spiking fever, a killer cough, aches, pains, throwing up, losing my sense of smell and taste, not wanting to eat anything, barely being able to hold my head up, and watching way too much TV has left me a bit annoyed.

Although I am genuinely grateful for those who contacted us to make sure we were okay as well as Door Dash and the people who shop for you then drop off groceries. Considering what the United States has been through while we were sick, it was wonderful to see kind acts from friends and strangers alike.

I’m not going to lie, I didn’t think I’d get hit quite so hard with the Covid. My immune system is usually up to the task of keeping me in good health, but this was a kick in the teeth. One star review. I do not recommend.

To anyone who has had Covid19, I now understand. To anyone who has it right now, hang in there!

The rest of you, be safe. Get a vaccine.

One irony was that a small group of us were supposed to play some Pandemic Legacy on New Year’s Eve. Instead, we were part of the pandemic. ..yay?


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1-Jan-2021

I’ve written a limerick for the end of 2020.

Don’t judge too harshly, I wrote it in five minutes.

*clears throat*

This year should have been a good year
Instead it did fill us with fear
The whole thing was glum
Pandemics are dumb
Can’t wait for 2-1 to premier

The End


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Random Act of Fiction: Never Underestimate the Old Lady

This Random Act of Fiction is so old that there were still double spaces between the sentences. I kicked that habit YEARS ago. 🙂

This is a snippet of a scene from a post-apocalyptic story about an 65 year-old woman who survived and is trying to fix everything.

She’s sassy. And basically a ninja. I really need to get back to this one someday.

This is her motto.

Belle looked calmly down the barrel of her gun at the young man who was looking calmly down the barrel of his gun at her. For a moment the only sound to be heard was the dripping of water in the dark alley.

“What do you want, old lady?” The youth asked, his dark eyes looking down into hers.

“I came for one of my people.” Belle’s eyes searched for any sign that this boy was from the AMO gang. He was cloaked in a long, black coat, his dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. She could find nothing that linked him with the people she was looking for. “I have no quarrel with you therefore I have no reason to kill you.” Belle shrugged. “Not unless you give me one.”

The young man seemed to study her for a moment before he snorted a short laugh. “Go back to your nursing home, old lady.”

Apparently he was not going to take Belle seriously.

She smiled. “Oh good!” Before the boy could react his gun was kicked away and Belle had hers pointed at the top of his head through his chin. “And I thought this was going to be a boring job.”

“Come on, Belle.” A man stepped from the shadows. “We’re wasting time. If it’s Tamlul who has Robby we need to hurry.”

Belle smiled as she felt the young man tense beside her when another man stepped from the shadows. “He might be able to help us.” Belle said, patting the boy on the shoulder. “It never hurts to consult the locals.”


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