I’m writing a series of novels: the Seeking Scylla series. Some characters dance on the edges of the narratives. Some never make it in. In Beyond Scylla blogs, I share stories and vignettes about these characters.

The pilot

Light floods the entrance of the coffee shop. Schoana looks up and, in that instant, she knows it’s her.

The Republic agent gave Schoana the folder three weeks ago. Her charge is to report any suspicious inquiries, any questionable rendezvous.

To busy herself, Schoana wipes the counter. She knows more about this pilot than the agent shared in the folder, because Joshanie, the shop owner across the street, gave her a whole box of information.

Schoana battled waves of discomfort going through the pilot’s personal objects, reports, and documents, but neither the Republic folder nor the Resistance box paint a worrisome picture of this woman.

She’s just a pilot, yet they both want her. 

Schoana sees that the pilot is confounded by the menu on the wall.

“Do you need some help?”

“I just want coffee. Black coffee, but…”

Black Coffee

Schoana leans in and whispers, “You mean, real-bean coffee?”

The pilot’s face squinches in confusion.

“We have nut-based coffees…”

“But I smell…”

“Because we roast the nuts to smell and taste like coffee beans. Just no caffeine.”

“But I want caffeine. I really just want some coffee.”

Schoana leans in again. “Coffee, especially caffeine, is discouraged. It’s not illegal yet, but…”


Schoana puts her finger to her lips. “Shh. The last bean fields didn’t survive the drought and fires of 2510.”

The pilot’s dismay and disbelief confirm what the Resistance report includes. She has been away for a very long time.

Leaning closer, Schoana says, “We still have a stash here. I need a few minutes. And it’ll be ten credits.”

“That’s twice the price of the Crimson Nexus!” The pilot points at the menu.

“I know. And I’ll need it up front.”

Schoana takes the pilot’s coins and decides then and there between the folder and the box. Whatever it is they want from or for this pilot, the box will get it. And the pilot will have her coffee.


©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.