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Pinwheel Nostrils

Scalzi Story

Wherein I take a band name from Scalzi’s Next Band Name list, and spend no more than 20 minutes writing the story with the band name as a title. Current one is Pinwheel Nostrils.

[This one might make more sense if you read Vermin Tornadoes first.]

Dora watched Jakob as he closed the door to the Outside, before walking over to the small portal and peering outside. It was somewhat dark, but the courtyard overheads provided sufficient light for him to see the vermins as they danced around, looking for rocks to pick up in their winds and throw. When Jakob was about half way to the other side, she turned away.

Three girls came wandering out of the small theatre on the side of the museum. They'd been watching the flats of the Founding. Dora watched them walk around the corner, giggling and hooting as they wandered away from theatre doors. Dora's expression appeared puzzled. After a few moments, she walked over to the theatre herself, reached in and turned off the lights. With motions practiced over many months, Dora turned off a number of other devices, and the theatre was completely dark.

With the three girls gone, the museum was empty. It was also near enough to closing that Dora could leave without violating any of the Company's rules. She closed up the front, did a quick walk through the rest of the exhibits, and gathered her belongings from under the counter. As she walked towards the front exit, she looked at the door Jakob had gone through a short while ago. She hadn't gone Outside in years. Her walk slowed. She continued to look at the door. She stopped.

After a minute, she shook her head, turned to the exit, popped her rebreathers into her nose, and opened the museum's front door. Dora slung her bag over her shoulder and stepped out. The door swung shut behind her, locking automatically with a small beep.

The air was as stale as it normally was. Dora's footsteps down the tunnel were muffled by the soft texture on the metal walls. The lights overhead were lower than normal. Dora was looking up at them when she heard the giggles coming from the junction to her right.

Without stopping, Dora looked down, pulled her bag around to her front, and walked a little faster.

"Hey, Pinwheel!" The call carried down the short hall. Dora didn't turn.

"We're talking to you!" Another girl's voice called after the first. Dora kept walking.

"Pinwheel Nostrils! We are talking to you!" A third girl's voice called down.

Dora's rebreathers were old. They made the little whirring noise the older models did. They were old, somewhat noticable, completely functional, and very, very valuable. Her mother used them. Her mother's father had used them. They worked better than any modern rebreather did, especially in the stale tunnel air where no breeze blew. Dora inhaled Earth's outdoors, when others inhaled Vayu's indoors. She walked faster until she broke into a slight jog.

Footsteps behind her became loud.

Dora started running faster. The door at the end of the tunnel led to the Commons, which had merchants and crowds. Safety in numbers, the Company's slogans chimed. Never go Outside alone. Stick with your buddy. Safety in numbers. Dora was near a sprint when the footsteps sounded loudly behind her.

She wasn't going to reach the door and open it before the girls reached her. The door opened towards her, they would surely catch her.

She opened her mouth. A hand reached towards her bag.

The door hissed.

Dora's eyes went wide as her arms pumped wildly by her sides, her legs moving her as fast as she could make them.

The door opened.

Jakob stood in the door. He looked up, and stepped aside just as Dora flew into the Commons.

The three girls behind Dora stopped quickly. Jakob turned to look at them. They didn't go through the door. They turned and walked back down the tunnel.

Jakob turned to look at Dora, bent over, breathing heavy.

"So, uh, maybe Outside next time?" he asked.

"Yes," Dora breathed.

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