Microcosms 146

It’s Friday: flash fiction aficionados’ favourite day of the week … or at least in their top seven! Welcome to Microcosms 146.

26-OCT is the anniversary of the birth in 1973 of Seth MacFarlane, American voice actor, singer, director, producer, and screenwriter.

He is the creator of the animated series ‘Family Guy’ in which he plays a vast array of characters, including:

  • Peter Griffin
  • Brian Griffin
  • Stewie Griffin
  • Glenn Quagmire
  • Carter Pewterschmidt
  • Tom Tucker

Geoff

 

(If YOU have an idea for a future contest and would like to be a guest host, please contact us.)

 

Our contest this week begins with THREE things: character, location and genre.

We spun, and our three elements are:

Child ProdigyTime MachineDrama

Write a story using those OR feel free to click on the “Spin!” button, and the slot machine will come up with a new set – character, location and genre. You can keep clicking until you have a set of elements that inspires you.

 

  • Shipping Clerk
  • Intellectual
  • Child Prodigy
  • Airline Pilot
  • Industrialist
  • News Anchor
  • Brewery
  • University
  • Time Machine
  • Airplane
  • Office Block
  • TV Studio
  • Drama
  • Crime
  • Horror
  • Fairy Tale
  • Comedy
  • Tragedy

 

Spin!

 
Last week’s Judge’s Pick, Geoff Le Pard, has kindly agreed to act as the judge this time around.

 

REMEMBER!

(1) You have just 24 hours until midnight, today (Friday) New York time (EDT) to write and submit your masterpiece.
(2) All submissions should be a maximum of 300 words in length (excluding the title)
(3) NO FAN-FICTION, PLEASE, and NO USE of COPYRIGHT CHARACTERS
(4) Include: word count, which THREE elements you’re using AND a title for your entry
(5) Do NOT give details of your entry on social media, your blog, etc. until the Results post is live
(6) If you are new to Microcosms, PLEASE check out the full submission guidelines 

 

All being well, results will be posted next Monday.

Microcosms 147
Microcosms 145

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49 comments for “Microcosms 146

  1. 26 October 2018 at 1:38 am

    http://www.engleson.ca
    @billmelaterplea
    300 words
    News Anchor; TV Station; Drama

    I Was There: MORE THAN I EVER WANTED TO BE-The Memoirs of Crack Anchor, Whit Crickle

    “A little nose dusting, Whit?”

    “Sure, Sal. Douse me with your magical makeup. Wouldn’t want to sweat… or unduly shine…before the camera. Still, too many crags to hide on this old mug, I suppose.”

    “I’ll fill them in…your face will be putty in my hands.”

    “I bet you tell all the anchors that.”

    “Just the old wise ones. You’ve been in the news racket a long time, Whit? You… mostly shine.”

    “You’re sweet, Sal. And yes, I’ve been around quite a spell. Almost sixty years. The world was black and white when I began…”

    “And now it’s in colour.”

    “Still seems black and white to me. Oh, don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for everyone. I’ll save that for my book.”

    “You’re writing a book?”

    “Every anchor writes a book, Sal. Yeah. Even me.”

    “Have you started?”

    “Yup. Stuck at Chapter One.”

    “It’s going to tell all?”

    “You bet your booties. I remember when things were either true or they weren’t.”

    “Methinks you might be wearing rose-tinted lenses, Whit.”

    “How so, Sal?”

    “Charles Van Doren?”

    “Ah! The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question. A couple of years before my time.”

    “My point is…the fifties were not exactly truth-bearing years.”

    “I’ll give you that. But the press exposed it. Not me. I came along in ’59. Covered the congressional subcommittee investigation…”

    “And now the world is safe from rigged Game Shows. Such a comfort.”

    “Hmm. Sal, you’re sounding kind of cynical.”

    “And you’re not? Your voice…well, it has a dark weight to it, Whit. A sadness.”

    “Occupational hazard. Maybe it was Kennedy. The assassination of JFK. It was my first really big story. For a lot of us. Seems like the world shifted after that. We never got straightened away after that.”

    “I can see that. There. Powdered up nicely.”

    “Thanks, Sal. See you tomorrow.”

    2+
  2. Paula Puolakka
    26 October 2018 at 3:19 am

    296 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    The Programmer’s Mind

    It’s funny how nobody saw it coming. They hadn’t understood that his mind was a machine and, while sitting in his cabin, he had created a vision of a prodigy, and that sketch had been sent to Cloud Nine. There, the divine energies had started spinning around and waiting for the right womb to be transferred into.

    In this material world, he was called a genius, the great mathematician but he was the One: the reincarnation of Kali, the lord of fire and steel.

    I was seeking forgiveness. I was walking down the stream and understood that I had been living inside a cocoon, consumed by the buzz.

    I too had been blinded by the forces of Evil. I had desired useless gadgets. And now, as the settings of the time machine created by the programmer’s mind went on, the all-burning white light stripped away the useless ideas, desires, and thoughts and I felt, down in my very core, what my true meaning was. Already, somewhere in Southeast Asia, there was a world built on and of scrap metal, wires, old computer screens, and microchips. Babies were born into that world. What had life become? And at the same time, the evil doers had been planning to create colonies to Mars, like rats leaving the sinking ship called Earth.

    Theodore Kaczynski had acted according to his words. He had trained and strengthened our arms, but we had devised Evil against him. Gray hairs had been sprinkled on him, and yet we were the ones who were dead inside. The whole society had been waiting for him to perish.

    I was asking Hashem for guidance. He told me to climb up the hill and destroy the first tower that was violating the birthplace of the ancient trees.

    1+
    • 28 October 2018 at 7:50 am

      I… think this needs to be developed into something longer!

      1+
      • Paula Puolakka
        28 October 2018 at 10:38 am

        Thank you for the feedback, Vicente.

        No, it doesn’t. You all just need to read Kaczynski’s books and teach your children because the medicine for every dilemma on this planet has been between those covers but instead, we have globally denied to swallow it. This world is a big insane asylum but he has been presented as the one with the problem. I was just a small kid when I first saw him and read about his thoughts and I have always tried to help people out (to act not just talk crap,) to protect those who are “weaker” than I and educate myself. But I am the one who has been treated like the loser and the nobody and those who have done just the opposite have been hailed as the champions. And that’s exactly why this world is the sh*thole it is. Not even the so-called highly educated who are in control of what the main values of the society are and what is fed to the so-called commoners are familiar with Kaczynski’s thoughts. Why not? Just a few days ago, after a few years pause, I tried to make an old professor see that many people in the faculty seem to think they are the best thing that happened to this world when in fact, they don’t even know the ideas of the true master. It’s all about ego and status and the need to hail one’s own persona: me, me, me, I’m the best.

        The worst thing is that we are stuck in this spider’s web and this flash piece was my conscious holler to those who say that they agree with me but are not using the old-school forms of communication like face-to-face conversations anymore. Even those “Counterfeit” persons, hackers, who try to “make things better” are actually a part of the web and not any better than those working for the government. What would they do if this form of existence ceased to exist? They would be out of jobs and not able to boast and show off. To them too, it’s all about ego and money, no matter what the “noble agenda,” seems to be when they start shooting lip. Just shut everything down. No? Why not? Oh, yeah… It’s all about you, again.

        The technological innovations have damaged individuals’ capability to interact naturally. How many of you have seen the distress of your fellow citizens on the street, the homeless, and asked if they need help? Those are the people who have been looked down upon even by the so-called Communists of our society. They are sitting on their asses next to their “enemies” and shining their shields by talking about how we should spend our money on some foreign campaigns etc. If they truly were these “great Humanists,” they would go and take care of those who are right there flesh and bone and walk the same streets as they do. But no. It’s nicer to sip red wine and smoke weed with the “right people” and talk rubbish instead of offering a hotdog for the local guy who sits next to their house every day and actually act like a human being.

        We have built this illusion of “connecting people.” This flash piece and his message also are violations but maybe if they hold some sense and people start changing their behavior towards each other etc. then it has more sense than many of the stuff that the net has to offer. In Finland, far away from the core of the spider’s web and the spider itself, there is not much I can do about the biggest problem that connects us all. “She’s just a woman,” and yes, truly I am just a poor woman but still, I feel I have a big heart and a strong soul, too. Those who have been living in the core, have been spreading the disease instead of listening to the one who has also been in the core and offered the medicine to everything and given up his freedom for the cause. Is this a deadlock? Does it matter when the world will explode one day? Yeah… Then it becomes the matter of the soul. I don’t want to be born here ever again but I know that many don’t share my views and because of that reason YOLO life, they seem to say.

        If you check out the first page of the big book, Genesis 1. It tells it all. If water and the trees and other plants were the lord’s priority they should also be our priority. We should be the guardians of this planet.

        I am nothing compared to the great master. I have tried to guide people towards him, that’s all. Still, thank you Vicente for the kind words. I wish you the best day of your life.

        0
    • Jasmine Lamb
      29 October 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Greetings!

      After reading your response to Vicente, I can’t help but feel that if you truly have such thoughts about the flaws of society, how people act within it, the mentalities people take when interacting with each other, etc., you should consider writing an article or even something of greater length, like perhaps a novella or even a book, detailing how exactly people can improve upon such things! That is, if you haven’t already.

      While I can agree that genuine human connection is scarce even where it does exist, the communication of information has never been easier than it is now, so spreading certain kinds of information is, perhaps, the best benefit of that: while it certainly stands true that things like negative messages, accusations, and personal agendas are easier to spread, it also stands true that nicer things like positive messages, heartwarming articles, and news updates are also easier to spread. Because of this, a surprising number of people are aware of the inherent flaws in modern society and the guidelines by which we judge socioeconomic stature (and I’m sure we can agree that these guidelines are based around superficial things), however, awareness is only the first step. If no measures are taken to solve a problem, that awareness is simply something for which an individual would pat themselves on the back for before returning to the herd mentality and following along with the flawed systems. If you’re not going to solve a problem, it objectively makes no difference if you’re aware of it or not.

      And that extends to you, as well. If you have ideas for how people can help each other in simple and easily-understood ways, you should share them! Both regarding what the average individual can do and the tolls that the large “spiders” you refer to take on the social, economic, and environmental systems–everything from the dangers of a class system that allows wealthy to stand leagues above the poor to differences in education and standards of living between class systems and locales to the pollution and environmental destruction caused by urbanization and large factories. If you offer solutions to the problems you state are present and make sure those solutions are readily available to anyone, regardless of age, wealth, status, etc., that offers more credibility to your words. Simple lamentations are fairly commonplace, but you seem to feel very passionately, so I would encourage you to turn those feelings into something productive, through your own actions and through writings about how others can amend their own!

      1+
  3. 26 October 2018 at 3:50 am

    @maehschaf
    298 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    Living Better

    Steward regretted agreeing to the interview. The reporter and his cameraman had barged into his lab as if they owned it, narrowly avoiding knocking over the many shelves.

    “Good Morning America! This is reporter Oliver Williams, with a report from the home of the most famous child prodigy of our time!”

    The reporter stepped aside and let the camera pan slowly over an assortment of knickknacks that Steward had laid out on the workbench. There were clearly recognizable screwdrivers and copper cables. Scattered in between lay more arcane glass tubes and plastic molds. A small rectangular box blinked ominously.

    Just the right mixture of relatable and mysterious was what he had told himself. In the lab and in the interview. By eighteen he would own an empire. And this interview would lay the basis for future public relations.

    “So, Steward.” The reporter turned his attention to him. “The world was shocked when, at the young age of eight, you developed and patented the first mobile phone. That thing was almost taller than you were.” He laughed a fake laugh. “How did you do it?”

    Just behind the cameraman in a dark corner of the room hummed the only real invention Steward would ever make. At the age of fifty-seven. In the storage facility that he lived in, after three failed marriages. While eating, what other people threw away. But it didn’t have to be like this. That’s what he had told himself, the day he had stepped out of the time machine. If they played it right, life could be so good.

    Steward looked straight into the camera and smiled, “Well, Oliver, I think we would all live better in a better-connected world.”

    “Living better in a better-connected world! You heard it first on ‘Good Morning America’!”

    3+
  4. 26 October 2018 at 5:06 am

    @zevonesque
    300 words
    Shipping Clerk; Brewery; Drama

    Cyclops Drinks Ambrosia

    Cyclops was as dependable as an old Labrador. That’s how he got his name. The shipping clerk would turn a blind eye to anything – for a price. One bottle of whisky from each crate, one radio, one coat, one shoe… well two, but you get the picture. He wanted for nothing.

    Most stuff he sold on; you only need so many radios. But when Elemental Brewery began shipping through the port then he changed tack. His ‘liberated’ bottles were not getting sold. They were going home. His crate rate went from one to three. The brews were ambrosia. When he went home each night he’d drink one or two. It made him feel he was as lucky as a god. Suddenly he had the best job in the world.

    In the end, news got out about his stash, and people started to call round. Just to catch up, of course. Pubs realised that they were losing custom, whilst regulars kept getting sighted down near the house by the docks. It wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to discover what was going on, so after several drinks at the Fallen Lettuce one night, PC Lovelace was finally persuaded to go take a look.

    It was inevitable: he took to the ambrosia like the next man, and Cyclops was an increasingly affable man with such stories to accompany the beer. Lovelace reported back to the Lettuce’s landlord that there was nothing suspect. But within a year, Lovelace and Cyclops were running the most profitable pub in town. They’d even gone legit, with an exclusive deal with Elemental.

    That was almost eighty years ago. Elemental is long gone, but the old Cyclops pub is still there. There are rumours some bottles are still hiding there in the cellar. It’s worth a look. It’s truly Ambrosia.

    3+
    • 28 October 2018 at 7:54 am

      Love the mix of fantasy and reality… or isn’t it there?

      1+
      • A.J. Walker
        30 October 2018 at 6:52 pm

        No reality at all. Not even a Fallen Lettuce.

        0
  5. Lesley Turrell
    26 October 2018 at 5:32 am

    293 words
    Intellectual; University; Crime

    Accidental Hero

    Year of our Lord 1376, by Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
    John de Wolff enjoys the rare feeling of weak sun on his face when he hears the loud crack of wood breaking. He scurries off the road into the nearby ditch covering his face.
    An imperious voice rouses him. The wooden cart lists and the noble female insists on his help to dismount. ‘We’re taking these books to the Friars Eremites.’
    ‘Oh, you mean to the Old Court. Those golden buttressed stone walls ahead. I can fix that wheel for you if you have an axe.’ John de Wolff grabs the proffered tool in his misshapen hands.
    John glances up to see if Lady Eleanor is looking, then slides a leather-bound book into a concealed pocket. ‘It’s so long since I had anything to read. The friars keep their collection of precious books imprisoned in caskets. I’m not deemed fit to handle them anymore.’ His coin and noble background are of no help now.
    Eleanor notices his sleight of hand, but smiles wryly. His educated manner surprises her.
    The storm breaks, the cart founders on the rutted track, spilling some books. Like magpies, the friars, with their silver tonsures and black robes, come and gather up the fallen tomes. The cavalcade reaches the walls as lightning strikes the road.
    ‘That man, John, saved us. He’s a hero,’ praises Eleanor.
    ‘John, the thieving leper!’ one hooded friar whispers.
    Eleanor chooses not to hear, smoothing her blue robe over hips. The Gorleston Psalter was later discovered to have been defaced. John de Wolf had extracted revenge at being excluded from normal life by placing ribald cartoons reflecting the earthly appetites of the friars. On the last page Eleanor, alone, shines radiantly against the coming storm.

    2+
  6. Boko
    26 October 2018 at 6:29 am

    Chaos
    Psychological drama

    They were late. Nobody could tell anything beforehand. As soon as studying ended, he went from Tbilisi to Chiatura. He was not in touch with his mother for a four months. Okob missed parent, but main challenge was phylosophical education and work on the new book. From 9 AM to 6 Pm he was lurking in room alone. Computer was a mess. There was no network. He had no intention to turn TV on. Friends were away. He had no money and there was no need for it. It’s a sunrise, he thinks if it’s worth to walk this road, he feels sorry for mother to worry. Publisher asks for money. Nobody prints for free. He feels three pages in note and daily work is done. He is wondering if he perceives things like others do. Concludes: He does, but acts differently. Temperature is rising. He cannot stop at home anymore. In the last days he gave up writing. He goes out. He has no interest in people equal to his age. It’s unsuitable to be with them. Matter of reputation. Okob spends his time with young ones. One of them is Daniel. He found some connection, but he doesn’t know it yet. Daniel was all grown up and thinned. He also changed his lifestyle. Okob hates to tutor others. Se he doesn’t bother him with advices. ” I would do everything like he does, if i was in his shoes, there is nothing to be suprised about. In august 27 Daniel calls Okob. They go to the ruins of abandoned hospital. There is terribly high temperature. Okob’s face is covered with sweat. Daniel has a pale face. He says that enormous man is about to show up and daniel owes him money. Daniel calms Okob, whose face was changed in bad expression. He says everything will be settled with few words. Big guy showed up:
    You must be joking, he is smaller than me- mumbles Okob to Daniel.
    Quiet – sharply says Daniel.
    Everything happens fast. High tone, Okob is not suited to things like this. There is no other way, stubbornly says the writer as he starts to throw punches. Sun’s pressure is higher than before. On what way was Okob talking about? Daniel gazed upon metallic shiny and sharp object . Wound turned out to be deep enough . “I cannot die like this, let’s try again” . This was Okob’s last thought. On six mother knocked on door. She held plastic bags full of groceries . Okob was not at home.

    1+
    • Geoff Holme
      28 October 2018 at 8:47 am

      Welcome to Microcosms, Boko, and thanks for your entry.

      You did not show the word count of your entry. You also did not show the CHARACTER and LOCATION elements; and the GENRE element you chose is not on this week’s list — Drama is, but not Psychological Drama.

      We may have been able to get round these problems. However, when I checked the word count of your story, I found that it was 420 words; the maximum allowed is 300 words.

      Consequently, I regret to inform you that your entry does not qualify for the judging stage.

      As a first time entrant, you really ought to have checked out the rules before submitting (as I stress each and every week).

      1+
  7. 26 October 2018 at 6:58 am

    @VicenteLRuiz
    298 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    One More Time, Please

    Ellie pushed with the flat of the screwdriver and the hatch broke free. She peeked inside, and found what she was looking for: the main circuit board. She smiled.

    Normally, servicing a time machine was done by specialized engineers using the access panel. But the access panel was password protected, and even though Ellie was sure she could break that password, she didn’t feel it challenging enough. That was for kids of two or three, not grown-ups of ten like she was. Also, her intention wasn’t exactly to service it.

    Her small hands fitted easily inside the hatch, and there she connected the cable that ran from her tablet to the main board. She sat down and ran her hacker program.

    “Let’s see…” As usual, she started talking to herself. “Temporal disruptor… here. Power source nominal, right, see if I can reroute this so it feeds off the grid… Let’s make a small jump, shall we?”

    Just like that, the machine, with Ellie inside, slipped ahead in time. Ellie checked the watches. Five minutes, yet she had only felt seconds.

    “OK, this is what they were designed for. Anyone can jump ahead in time. What we want, let’s see, is to break the safeguards first, change the thermodynamic arrow and jump backwards…”

    +++

    “Ellie!”

    Her mother found Ellie outside their time machine, weeping. Smoke poured from the box-shaped cabin. The molten block of plastic and metal that had been her tablet lay on the floor. Ellie’s mum hugged her.

    “What’s happened?”

    “It’s impossible, mum,” Ellie sobbed. “It doesn’t slip backwards, only forwards. I tried to force it… and now it’s destroyed. I’m sorry!”

    “But you know that’s impossible, Ellie. Why did you…?”

    Ellie stared at her mum with teary eyes.

    “I miss dad. I wanted to see him again.”

    4+
  8. Stephanie Cornelius
    26 October 2018 at 8:43 am

    @RavenAngel888
    299 words
    Child Prodigy; Office Block; Horror

    Foursight

    I often wondered whether my intense desire for a child is what led to my daughter being born a prodigy. Not just in any field of study, she was a prodigy in Art, one of my favourite pastimes. She is only four but already is creating works of art to rival the Masters. Lately, there has been a very unsettling realism in her paintings. I have been able to recognise people and places that we have been and seen. Places in our town even where we haven’t been.

    I hear the TV in the background; my husband has left the News Network on again. As I head to the lounge, I pass Asariri’s latest sketch and a shiver runs down my spine, the hair on the back of my neck standing on end. It is an intricately-detailed drawing of an office building that I recognise from the business district downtown. I know for a fact that Asa has never been to that section of town and would have had no way of knowing the small details like the crack in the 4th window from the left on the 4th floor, or the graffiti on the side of the carpark facing the street. More chilling than this is the flames drawn around the 8th and 9th floors. The top floor hasn’t been completed yet, but as I look towards the TV, I can see that it’s completely encased in smoke and flame. The News anchor has just announced the fire at the Cassim Office Park downtown. I can see people jumping from the upper floors, and I hope that they can survive the fall.

    If only I had let Asa finish her sketch last night, maybe we could have saved them. She normal insists upon it, yet not this time.

    2+
    • Stephanie Cornelius
      26 October 2018 at 8:48 am

      Geoff, huge favour,

      “I can see the it completely” should read as “I can see that it’s completely”, I changed a word before saving and obviously my grammar left a lot to be desired lol Could you fix my faux pas for me please?

      0
  9. Danny Beusch
    26 October 2018 at 9:36 am

    @OhDannyBoyShhh
    263 words
    Intellectual; Brewery; Tragedy

    Empirical Research into the Effects of Buying and Consuming Alcohol: Three Conclusions

    The mathematician’s son is a zero-waste advocate. Tangible items use up too much natural resource; now, for presents, he only buys experiences.

    Exhibit 1: a bread-making course (sourdough)

    Exhibit 2: a brewery tour, followed by a tasting session.

    Conclusion: For the foreseeable future, the mathematician must increase his exercise levels.

    The brewery is 45 miles from the mathematician’s house and 12 miles from the nearest train station. His son has emailed the bus timetable, but the mathematician hates public transport: too random, too unpredictable. So he decides to drive.

    The mathematician is not stupid; he knows that driving home from a brewery tour entails certain risks. But he’s well-equipped:

    Exhibit 1: The formula to work out the number of units per drink:

    x = y × z ÷ 1,000

    Where y = alcohol by volume (%) and z = volume of drink (ml)

    Exhibit 2: A home breathalyser kit, purchased online.

    Exhibit 3: A graph. The x axis is labelled with alcohol units consumed. The y axis is labelled with micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of breath.

    Conclusion: the mathematician can drink 660ml of 5% beer and, to a 99% confidence interval, still legally drive.

    Equipped with this knowledge, the mathematician enjoyed the tour and purchased a cask of his favourite beer at the end. However, for various reasons, the journey home did not progress as expected.

    Exhibit 1: weather conditions (a sudden heavy shower).

    Exhibit 2: the other car’s speed (90 miles per hour).

    Exhibit 3: the other driver’s blood-alcohol level (three-times the legal limit).

    Conclusion: Not all variables can be controlled for.

    3+
    • Danny Beusch
      26 October 2018 at 9:41 am

      Sorry. At the end of the first paragraph could you amend to:

      ‘now, for presents, he only buys experiences.’

      0
  10. 26 October 2018 at 9:59 am

    298 words
    Intellectual; Time Machine; Comedy

    Forwards, to the Past

    The professor addressed his audience of final-year grad students.

    “Time travel is real. We are all time travellers of one sort or another. The majority of the population are on a one-way voyage into the future, a voyage from which there is no coming back, But a few, usually members of an institution such as this great university, are time travellers of a different sort. They can be split into two classes: those who know that they are, and those who don’t.

    “Those who know, such as myself, have actually experienced temporal displacement themselves. Those who don’t know, and there are a number of you here today, are those yet to travel through time. I know who you are because I’ve already transported you to the future in my time machine. We will be having a field trip sometime next week to prove this hypothesis. I have already been to the middle of next week from where I completed my first successful experiment and travelled forward one year.

    “Unfortunately, my first foray into the past was less fortunate, and resulted in the destruction of a vital component. I’m lucky that I didn’t try to go any further back in time otherwise it would have been impossible to manufacture a replacement as the technology wouldn’t have existed. This component will be ready by Tuesday or Wednesday, in time for some of you to accompany me on that field trip and, in doing so, become time travellers of the third kind.

    “It’s early days in the history of time travel and teething problems can be expected. I can assure you though, that in the future, you will be able to purchase a secondhand time machine, secure in the knowledge that they don’t make them like they’re going to anymore.”

    4+
  11. Matilda Rice
    26 October 2018 at 10:55 am

    299 words
    Child Prodigy; Office Block; Tragedy

    Numbers

    Peter couldn’t really remember how he’d gotten to the roof of the abandoned office block, nor did he think it really mattered. His mind was on other things.

    The wind was strong. About 14mph Peter guessed. He sighed. It wasn’t ideal, but it would have to do. It wasn’t like he could wait for a better time. It was now or never, and Peter knew that the latter wasn’t really an option.

    From his perch he watched the people on the street. Each of them seemed so sure of their place in the world. He wished he could be like that, but knew it was impossible. And there was no point wishing for the impossible.

    He turned his head away.

    Memories rolled over him. They’d called him a prodigy, a genius. They hadn’t cared that he was just a child. All they’d thought about was his potential, all that he could do for them. And when he couldn’t do it, when he’d failed to meet their expectations, they’d cast him aside.

    Peter felt the moment when panic set in. His breath quickened, his heart raced. Thoughts flashed through his mind, entering and leaving his conscience before he could properly grasp them. He was losing control of his emotions.

    He inhaled. Closed his eyes. Began to count.

    The numbers numbed his mind, quietening his thoughts. Peter had always liked numbers. They were so simple, so easy to understand. They made sense, even when nothing else did.

    So now Peter stands at the edge of the roof of an abandoned office block, alone. The ground looms beneath him, dark and unforgiving, but it doesn’t scare him. Nothing does anymore. His breathing is quiet, his heartbeat steady and slow. He exhales. Opens his eyes. Lets the numbers stop.

    And then he jumps.

    2+
  12. Ted Young
    26 October 2018 at 11:55 am

    261 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    The Legend of Zebedee Wilkes

    There are many child prodigies: precocious little kids, that become virtuosi with violin, piano, mathematics and so on.
    But the one I found most impressive was Zebedee Wilkes. He had been blessed with a brilliant criminal mind which he applied from the day of his birth.

    Legend has it that he was born with a clenched fist. Try as they might, his parents could not prize it open without young Zeb showing obvious distress, until one night, with the child sleeping soundly, success was achieved. Nestled in his palm was the midwife’s wedding ring.

    He was never caught or even suspected of villainy, but he was never innocent. By the age of ten, he had amassed a significant fortune. It was then he went for the big one.

    #

    WANTED! FORWARD-THINKING BACKERS!
    Manufacture of a Time Machine!
    £50 buys an opportunity
    to get in on the project!
    Grand Draw! Winner receives
    first model off the production line!

    Thus read the advert posted in ‘Science Today Magazine’, and punters applied in their hundreds for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

    Master Wilkes, having cashed and stashed what he considered sufficient remuneration, selected as promised, the winning ticket. He sent a very large packing case to the successful entrant, terminated the contract governing the box number he had used, folded his hands and chuckled for a week.

    On receipt of this delivery, ‘Joe Lucky’ began excitedly to unpack his prize. First the outer case, then the padding, then the various softer containers, until at last he found a cigar box containing … a pocket watch!

    5+
    • Nikky Olivier
      29 October 2018 at 2:02 am

      A watch, the ultimate time-machine… loved this!

      0
      • Ted young
        29 October 2018 at 2:55 am

        Thanks Nikky, there’s no time like the present
        Love & peace

        0
  13. Donald Pearl
    26 October 2018 at 12:19 pm

    297 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    The Day They Died

    They call me a child prodigy, and they may be right since everything I do succeeds. Give me a musical instrument and I’ll be playing it by the end of the week! If I have art supplies, I can create a project worthy of any museum.

    I would trade it all to be able to remember my parents! Both died while at work the same day when I was a baby.

    If my latest project can finally succeed then I will be able to see their faces again. I need them in my life! My life hasn’t been too hard. After my grandparents died, my uncle took me in. He may be an evil genius with a love for deep-dish pizza, but he has provided for me all my life.

    After making a few adjustments I climb inside the time machine. Set the date to that day: September 11, 2001. No plan except to somehow save my parents. Don’t think I am some type of hero who is looking to fight terrorists!

    The problem is the machine releases me into a bright warm fall day, but on the wrong side of town! My mom wouldn’t have left for work yet but my dad would already be at the firehouse. I run. As I reach our block I can see my mom heading for her car. Waving my arms and continuing to run does no good since she is too far away to hear me.

    My body collapses in grief as I realize that I am too late again! I saw her face but she will make it to the South Tower in time for her doom. My father will join her a short time later.

    3+
    • Nikky Olivier
      29 October 2018 at 2:01 am

      Really striking. How many people wish they could go back in time to save the lives of loved ones.

      0
      • Donald Pearl
        29 October 2018 at 8:42 am

        It’s an interesting thought of how would you stop it knowing what is going to happen?

        0
  14. Angelique Pacheco
    26 October 2018 at 12:58 pm

    298 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    To Behave or Not to Behave

    They called him a child prodigy because he was a master of the violin, but that was not his real “gift”. He was mechanically minded and created a working time machine. If only he hadn’t been abandoned at birth. He lived in squalid conditions in a home not fit for animals. He was a personal friend of the boy who inspired the novel, “Oliver Twist.” Make no mistake, he’s a bit of a dweeb.

    He did some last-minute calculations and looked around the shed where he had hidden his machine and set off. He was going to make a better life for himself.

    He blinked. He was still outside the orphanage, only in the year of his birth. It looked so different. It was cheerfully painted, with a beautiful garden and he could hear laughter inside. He looked through a window. Miss Emily looked happy and young. The doorbell sounded. He shifted to see a young couple kiss a bundle and pop it into the box. His parents! He wanted to follow but he felt compelled to stay. The time machine he created did not allow him to move freely in the new dimension. He looked through the window once more and saw Miss Emily trying to comfort the squalling bundle. “Would I ever shut up?” He thought. He changed the dials to see why the place had deteriorated so.

    “Stop pulling out the flowers, Derrick!”

    “Why did you break that?”

    “Don’t hurt the nice people!”

    Frame upon frame showed him how his behaviour had caused loss of funding to the home and many things had been destroyed by him. Yet they still kept him there and loved him. Sadly, he returned to his own time determined to change. Miss Emily often wonders what changed Derrick’s attitude overnight.

    3+
    • Arianna Hammond
      28 October 2018 at 11:06 am

      Wow. amazing story, Angelique! Hopeful and painful at the same time. Really brought me in. 🙂

      1+
  15. 26 October 2018 at 1:00 pm

    @alysia_ascovani
    300 words
    Airline Pilot; Airplane; Drama

    Phantom Delirium

    The engines gave a sputtering whine as she pulled up on the yoke. She gritted her teeth, clenching her hands as she forced the plane to climb above the majority of the clouds. Holding back tears, she looked to the unconscious body of her copilot in the seat to her right. As the engines shakily settled into a relatively smooth hum, she sighed, turning her eyes back to the somber expanse before her.

    Sparkling dimly, the moon scorned her, offering a fraction of light to shadow her fallacy. Behind her, the door to the cockpit opened, revealing hundreds of passengers frozen in their seats. A young man, his face paler than the purest white, shakily whispered, while trying to avoid looking at her, “What are you doing to us? Why?”

    Her voice broke as she responded. “I’m trying to save all of you. I–” She dropped her head, her black hair forming a thick curtain to hide her face. “I never wanted any of this. You’re all innocent, and I’m so sorry that you’ve been dragged into my problems.”

    His face softened, yet he still shook as he looked on the strength of her broken form. Her eyes looked back to the forlorn sky. “You should go. I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt you more than I already have.”

    The young man hesitated before softly shutting the cockpit door, turning instead to look out the nearest window. As he watched, the night cloaked the plane’s erratic traversal in dull delight. From inside the cockpit, he faintly heard the sound of a crestfallen melody. It rose to a shuddering crescendo as the plane dove downwards.

    He stood a second longer before lunging to open the cockpit door once more. She spun, still singing her tears.

    Eyes met.

    Death laughed.

    Ecstasy.

    3+
  16. Frank Key
    26 October 2018 at 1:40 pm

    @frankdaad
    296 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    Boomer Lives

    Power failure. Blown capacitor. Cheaply-manufactured component. Lowest bidder.

    Sometime between yesterday and tomorrow, a traveler’s whenabouts. Unknown.

    But that’s how time travel works. They suppose. The success or failure of the experiment not known until they reach the target date in real time. Or traveler returns to tell.

    The unknown drives them crazy. Waiting. Hoping. Fulfillment left hanging in limbo.

    Young Jackie Pepper. AKA ‘Boomer’ to high school friends. Clings tenaciously to time as if his life depends upon it. Because it does.

    Captain Jack Pepper was thirty-five when they strapped him into the transport chair. Now he’s fifteen. And only getting younger.

    Move ahead in time three days. A good plan. Procedure succeeded for three seconds. Three minutes. Three hours. No problem. We can do this thing.

    No one bothered to notice the scant celluar evidence of reverse aging. Except Jack. He felt it but, against protocol, kept silent. About how the past half of the circle moves in the opposite direction from the future half. And it’s unanticipated affects on the human body.

    Survey of his mind and body. He’s only eight. The solution enters his mind. Energy. Dissipates or transfers. Not destroyed.

    Quick. No time to waste. Baby Jackie Pepper converts his infant matter into ageless photons. Retreat from limbo. Inhabit the blown capacitor.

    Scientists breathe a sigh of relief as the experimental machinery resumes normal operation. But how? They don’t know.

    Three days. A Friday. Team assembles in lab room. Await the arrival of Captain Jack Pepper.

    At precisely two in the afternoon. He appears. But not as expected.

    Great balls of lightning fill the lab. White hot. All-consuming. Everything. Transformed to ash. Experiment abandoned.

    But Boomer lives to tell the story within not so cheap capacitors.

    2+
  17. Deanna Salser
    26 October 2018 at 3:07 pm

    @beadanna7
    300 words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    No Future Without Her

    Eyes wild, she crouched fearfully behind a corner, watching her father gesture frantically to someone she couldn’t see.
    The world she found herself in now was nothing like the one she left when she stepped into the rainbow her new displacement machine had created, just a few seconds ago in her room.
    She’d been working on her science fair project, which included complex quantum manipulations to the electromagnetic fields of objects, causing them to spontaneously move from one place to another. She might have made a few tiny miscalculations.
    As she watched, her mother ran to her father from behind a hedge. The two embraced before her father motioned her mother down, and rose from his crouch to scan for his next cover.
    “Over here!” she shouted. Startled, her father looked toward her as she stood up and waved. He shook his head, shooing her back, when a Molotov cocktail exploded against the wall, above her head. She fell and lay stunned on the broken concrete. Next thing she knew, she was being helped to her feet, supported on both sides by her parents, the burning street going by in a blur of sound and motion.
    A doorway leaned against a pile of rubble, the door open a few inches. Her father elbowed it open and they maneuvered her inside. She yelped as her parents grabbed her tightly in their arms.
    “I knew as soon as I saw you, what happened,” her father told her, tears streaking the dirt on his face. “We’re so glad you’re alright,” he said, hugging her again. “But you have to go back.” Her brow furrowed, puzzled. He shook his head. “You have to go back and change things, honey. Look around. This is what the future looks like without you and your incredible brain!”

    2+
  18. Nikky Olivier
    26 October 2018 at 4:19 pm

    @NikkyOlivier
    105 Words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    Innocence Lost

    “Mommy, Mommy, look. I maked a time-machine.”
    “A Time-Machine? Where did you make that?”
    “In my room, mommy. I used my blankies and all the things from daddy’s garage. Come see.”
    “OK, Stephen, let’s see this ‘time-machine’. Is this where I get in?”
    “Yep. You get in there and you push all the buttons and lights.”


    “Mommy? Are you gone?”

    “Mommy..?”

    “Mommy!!! Come back!!! I can’t read the words you pressed, so I can’t go and find you now.”

    *Sniff*

    “Maybe when I turn six I can go find you, mommy. I’ll just wait right here until that happens.”

    “I love you, mommy…”

    7+
  19. Stella Turner
    26 October 2018 at 5:15 pm

    @stellakateT
    299 words
    Child Prodigy; Airplane; Comedy

    A Fear of Phobias

    It all kicked off as the plane flew over the ocean. Dan didn’t like water and sat with his eyes closed. Another twenty minutes then they’d be flying down the coast of America. He’d hidden his aquaphobia his entire career. His mother called it hydrophobia but he could drink the stuff okay just not swim in it or see vast amounts of it.

    Captain Wellbeck clutched his chest groaning, falling forward setting off the cabin alarm. Dan tried to open his eyes but fear had taken hold. He tried to recall the self-help mantras: ‘you are stronger than your fears’; ‘breathe slowly and deeply’.

    Matthew, the chief steward, surveyed the cockpit. The captain looked like he was having a heart attack and Dan, the first officer, was having a panic attack. He’d done the advanced first-aid course. He was as good as any nurse!

    Remembering not to panic, he discreetly asked in First Class if anyone was a doctor or a pilot. When they ignored him, he tried in Business Class then he yelled in Economy Class. A woman stood up, saying she was a retired doctor and her grandson had a pilot’s licence. His prayers had been answered until the grandson rose from his seat. He was a child, no older than ten. The woman brushed brusquely past him, pushing the boy down the gangway towards the cockpit.

    “It’s okay, Lenny, you’ve done everything on the simulator and you’ll be fine. When you’re old enough they’ll give you a proper licence”.

    Matthew would have thrown up in the aisle but he was too professional. He followed the child and prayed. Kids these days were wizards on computers. This one would save us all. Mozart, Ruth Lawrence, Jodie Foster were all child prodigies. This Lenny could be one too!

    3+
  20. Arianna Hammond
    26 October 2018 at 8:36 pm

    286 words
    News Anchor; TV Studio; Comedy

    The Way The News Turns

    “Good evening, Cincinnati. I’m your host Steve Pitiful with co-host Michael Dibbles, here to discuss tonight’s news. First up, we have a scoop on a woman from Westchester who evaded police after hijacking a public taxi with a water gun. Take it away, Michael.”

    “That’s right, Steve. Police say that the woman has been tracked down and placed under custody. The woman has been known to be secretive, as neighbors say, keeping mainly to herself and staying inside. She hardly appeared outdoors except for the occasional grocery run.

    “Family and neighbors are shocked that a scandal such as this would erupt from such a simple person. As you can see, the birds were badly bruised, along with loss of feathers. We are awaiting further information, but it seems the woman used a spoon to–”

    “Wait a second, Michael. I think we got the wrong–”

    “Oh, right. Yeah, that didn’t sound correct. Sorry, folks! Wrong story.”

    “It’s okay, Michael. Let’s get on to the next story.”

    “Got it, Steve. Next, we have the new movie ‘Old Folks vs Zombies’ of which broke the box office with an impressive 3.8 million in twelve days. Tell us about the movie, Steve.”

    “The movie follows young Samantha Baker on her sixteenth birthday. However, no one seems to remember that is her birthday, and she– Good lord! Sorry everyone, we seem to have a problem with the teleprompter. Susie, could you flip it to number four?”

    “Haha, Steve. For a minute there, I thought we’d traveled back in time!”

    “Yes, okay, Michael. Last on tonight’s big run, we have the results on the latest election. The winner is…”

    “Beyonce.”

    “…..”

    #

    In the back, Susie grinned. She loved to have a little fun.

    2+
    • 28 October 2018 at 8:14 am

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      0
      • Arianna Hammond
        28 October 2018 at 10:44 am

        *grin/chuckle* Thank you, Vicente. 🙂

        0
    • 28 October 2018 at 2:12 pm

      a nice light humorous touch…

      0
      • Arianna Hammond
        28 October 2018 at 3:46 pm

        Thank you, Bill!

        0
  21. Jasmine Lamb
    26 October 2018 at 11:39 pm

    @BookGirlJasmine
    299 Words
    Child Prodigy; Time Machine; Drama

    Avoidance Tactics

    An older woman, perhaps in her thirties or forties, entered a cafe and the dark-skinned college student behind the counter retreated with her into the back room. The only customer, a young girl, began to download a few things: 17 different digital textbooks and nonfiction Ebooks.
    “So, this week’s subject is physics?”
    The girl jumped and nodded, visibly wary of the woman who had appeared behind her while she was distracted.
    “Aren’t you a little young to be studying physics?”
    “I’m old enough to stay home without a babysitter. Isn’t it up to me how I spend my time and allowance?” The girl pouted.
    “Well, you behave yourself, at least, so I’m not going to penalize you for being here without an adult.”
    The girl looked relieved as she opened another tab to look for more textbooks to download. “Thank you, ma’am.”
    “So, why physics?”
    “I got bored with chemistry and wanted to play around with something new!” the girl proudly exclaimed, then accidentally knocked over her drink. She swiftly moved her laptop to another surface and began to mop up the liquid with the napkins stored on the table. The older woman walked off to the counter, grabbing a spray bottle and a rag.
    “I’m so sorry!” the girl repeated over and over again as the woman walked back over and–
    BANG!
    The girl fell to the ground, bullet wound in her chest spilling blood all over the floor.
    “Timeline successfully averted via plan B: kill 11-year-old self.”
    The older woman retreated to the counter and suddenly, the entire interior of the cafe vanished without a trace, leaving the girl and her belongings, the only things there that belonged to the present timeline, behind.
    Understanding the situation, the girl smiled through tears and destroyed her laptop’s hard drive.

    3+
    • Arianna Hammond
      28 October 2018 at 11:13 am

      Oh my goodness! Well done. I loved the way you moved the story along, giving it a shadow to be revealed…and it did! I definitely did not see the ’11 year old self’ twist, but once I got there and it hit, it really worked! Great story.

      0
      • Jasmine Lamb
        28 October 2018 at 8:50 pm

        I’m glad you enjoyed it! I wanted there to be a clear understanding of how the older woman knew the child would be dangerous enough to ruin a timeline, so I felt it was necessary to establish a connection between them! Thank you for your praise.

        0
  22. Deanna Salser
    29 October 2018 at 12:38 pm

    I love how everyone is commenting and being so cool to one another on this little flash page. Paula, honey, it sounds like you are in crisis and need an outlet. This is a friendly competition, not a place to rant about your religion. I hope you can find someone to listen to you, who can make you feel better about this world, as it is actually a pretty awesome place . Remember, the negatives are here to show us perspective, and we have created them ourselves, so it is up to us to do something about them. Start with the man in the mirror, you can only change your own path, sweetie, you can’t force others to change theirs. 🙂

    3+

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