Man in Control: Flash Fiction

Pixabay image

Brandon donned his latest acquisition—a  genuine silk suit. The industrious little silkworms bordered on extinct, and he finally ranked among the international elite who could afford their cocoons. His was new money, thanks to polished attorneys and creative accountants, both armed with tarnished ethics. 

He’d given himself two hours to make the one-hour trip from his penthouse to the corporate highrise across the gorge—one of a host of towers. And not the tallest. But he was only thirty-five, and the world was his chessboard, the match a move away from mate. In a few hours, a significant portion of the conglomerate’s assets would fall under his control.

He slipped into the leather recliner of his midnight-blue slider and tossed his briefcase on the seat beside him. “Headquarters. Skip the traffic and take the flyover.”

The slider’s cyber-system hummed to life. “Flyover not recommended.”

“Heavy traffic?”

“No traffic detected.”

Brandon mugged a face. “Then take the flyover.”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Why not?”

“Flyover not recommended.”

“Override.” Brandon detached the console and typed his passcode, pleased to finally use the feature. He liked the idea of control, driving the slider instead of the slider driving him. The upgrade had cost him a small fortune. It would pay for itself that morning.

As the vehicle glided forward, Brandon closed his eyes and relaxed his shoulders. The slider veered from the congested rails onto the flyover, cruising into the pre-dawn darkness.

At the peak over the gorge, the slider decelerated and stopped. Brandon glanced out the window at the black depths below. Sunrise would soon carve sharp shadows across the cliffs and turn the river into molten gold.  “Proceed.”

“Not recommended.”

“Overide.” He typed in the code.

“Not recommended.”

“God damn it. Override.” He stabbed the console and received the same reply. After a quick check of his watch, he peered into the darkness ahead. “Is there a traffic problem?”

“No traffic detected.”

“What the hell? How long to back up and take the other route?”

“Estimated time three hours.”

Brandon barked a curse. He leaned forward and rubbed his hands together, changing tactics. “Override slider functions.”

“Not recommended.”

“Override braking system.”

“Not recommended.”

“Okay, how about override acceleration?”

“Not recommended.”

Brandon’s fist slammed onto the console, and the glass screen cracked. He tossed the damaged hardware onto the passenger seat. There was no point. His fate was sealed. He’d lost out on the biggest deal of his life.

“Cyber system impaired, reverting to manual overrides.”

“Ha!” Brandon checked the time. He’d make it if he flew. With the brake released, he pressed forward on the throttle. The slider responded, accelerated. With a laugh, he opened her up, and the bitch roared like a beast with a taste for speed.

The machine screamed down the other side of the flyover, lurched sideways on a damaged span of rail, and leaped into the sky. The sunrise blinded him as the slider plummeted, its throttle clutched in his white-knuckled hands. The golden river smashed the windshield into his face, his life, in the end, beyond his control.

***

destiny

disavowed

underlings deal and grasp

gold with white-knuckled fists

rapt in night’s deceptive dreams they fly

eyes blinded by a distant sunrise

snared by reckless desire

seconds gained and years lost

illusions

of control

***

It’s been a long time since I shared a flash story. I hope you enjoyed it.

I combined it with a syllabic poem in response to Colleen Chesebro’s weekly #TankaTuesday Wordcraft Challenge. Her challenge was to make up our own syllabic form! Well, that was fun. The one above has syllables 3/3/6/6/9/9/6/6/3/3. I named it a Distillate because it’s a distillation of a larger story. My guess is that every story’s theme can be captured in a poem, no matter how large the book. What do you think?

The Monthly Speculative Fiction Prompt has Moved

I loved my 5 months of hosting a Speculative Fiction Prompt. I loved reading and sharing the amazing poems and stories and artwork.

But life got in the way, and though parental caregiving may be smoothing out in the near future, there’s no guarantee that everything won’t fall apart again. In fact, it will. The only question is when.

Carol Forester of Writing and Works contacted me about taking over the monthly prompt, and though I was sad to let it go, I took her up on the offer immediately. I want it to continue. I want to write for it and read everyone’s stories. Thank you, Carol.

September’s prompt is up!  I can’t wait to see the responses.

Here’s the link: September’s Speculative Fiction Prompt.

(I’m heading north again for the week, so I closed comments here. But I’ll be reading. Happy Writing!)

 

May Speculative Fiction Round-Up

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

Another month of great stories! Thank you to everyone who participated. And to those who stretched their imaginations, congratulations. Below is the round-up of all the May poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers.

**

May Round-up

Pensivity – The Awakening

Cosistories – Different

The Dark Netizen – The Future Man

Steve Tanham – A Strong Right Arm

Thea by Me – Being Another You

(Note that Thea has a series of posts continuing the story. You can catch the links from the first one above.)

Trent McDonald – A Whir in my Ears

Robert Goldstein – Trina and the Android at Saks

Balroop Singh – In Love with Myself

Dorinda Duclos – Human Extraction

Robbie Cheadle – Extract from the diary of John Saunders

Sadje – The Tattoo Man

Jomz Ojeda – Reborn

Anita Dawes – Difference

Greg – Heartless Tin Man

Miriam Hurdle – One Hundred Million Dollar Man

C.E. Pereira – What I thought was perfection

Barbara – Frozen

Ritu Bathaul – Mechanical Tart

Len – Body-sculpture

Brad – Cyber Man

Helene Vaillant – Draft Model

Ethan Dale Edgar – Hunger (Part 2)

GM Cleary – Millefeuille

Geoff Le Pard – The Unfortunate Outcome of Gender Neutrality in Algorithm Design

Teagan Geneviene – Hidebound Hum Day: The Guardian

Sally Cronin – The Enhancement Project

Daisy Bala – In the Future

Hugh Roberts – Hot Dates (adult content)

Von Smith – Jules meets Hal (Chapter 1-10)

Jessica Bakkers – Homo Cerebrum

Jen Goldie – Metaman104

Betul Erbasi – The Robot in me

HRR Gorman – The Bone Forge

Sonia – Watch Shield

Deepa Kadavakat – Is This The Future?

Wilnako – A Changeling King

C.E. Pereira – Awake, Bronze Gladiator

Anneberly Andrews – Figment

Amanda Reilly – Empty Promises

Kerfe – are we not what we are

Jane Dougherty – Creation

Joanne – Cyborg Your Future!

Pamela Wight – The Bodyguard

D. Wallace Peach – Defining Human

Entangled Designs – The War Within

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

Diana’s May Story: Defining Human

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

Defining Human

by D. Wallace Peach

“I don’t know why you keep that decrepit thing around.” Delia sipped her iced tea and glanced out the window of her friend’s home. On the manicured lawn, Sherri’s cyborg pushed their children on side-by-side swings, a human arm heaving on one small back while a mechanical arm pressed on the other.

“His name is Carter, and he’s part of the family.” Sherri angled her head for a view of their laughing boys. Dainty sandwiches adorned a platter at her table’s center, and Delia nibbled though she wouldn’t feel hungry until noon. Sherri poured more tea. “I grew up with him, and he—”

“Saved your life.” Delia patted her friend’s hand in understanding, though honestly, she’d survive without hearing a repeat of the story.

The cyborg had pulled Sherri from a fire and sacrificed the flesh on half of his face and body. The repair costs for an archived model had been prohibitive, but rather than purchase updated technology, the family had elected to preserve the damaged thing. Out of gratefulness. As if it possessed human feelings. The mawkish sentimentality was disturbing, and the cyborg’s exposed gears hideous. “They’re wired to protect us, you know?”

“I know,” Sherri said. “But he’s generous with his time and kind-hearted, and he has a fun sense of humor. He’d do anything for us, and we love him.”

Delia rolled her eyes as she finished her tea.  Her internal clock struck noon, and she helped herself to another sandwich. Her friend’s affection for the machine irritated her, and as usual, any attempt at reason was an utter squandering of her time.

The cyborg ushered the breathless children in for lunch, and Delia was thankful for the distraction. Not long after the meal, she packed her dawdling son into their transport. “Home,” she instructed. The vehicle hummed into travel mode, and she reclined in her seat with an e-mag.

“I like Carter,” her son said while fiddling with his recliner’s buttons. “He plays with us, and he’s nice.”

“He’s a machine.”

“He acts like a human.”

“Well, he’s not. We are human, superior to him and all his kind.”

“What’s the difference?”

Delia huffed at the obvious. “Quiet now, I’m reading.”

The transport glided to their front door. Their arrival home was later than planned, but she’d anticipated the delay and programmed naptime for optimum flexibility. Why carry the child when his feet were perfectly capable of walking?

She escorted her son to his room, tucked him into bed, and plugged his link into his temple. After several software adjustments, she retreated to her suite and flung herself down on her bed. She needed to reconsider her relationship with Sherri’s family. Their beliefs were having a radical impact on her son, and his confusion about what defined a human being was troubling.

Stress had taken its toll, and Delia decided to nap as well.  She set the timer for forty-five minutes, chose a pleasant dream sequence, and inserted the interface into her port. Her eyes closed as the software began its upload.

**

Note: I’m on the road again, helping my parents. I won’t be able to respond to comments or return visits until the evenings. Please bear with me. ❤ 

May Speculative Fiction #Writingprompt

Pixabay image by Brigitte Werner

For visually challenged writers, this is an image of a man who is part human and part machine. Behind him are gears and wires as well as a hint of fire or electricity.

Yay! It’s that time again, finally. Thank you to everyone who responded to March’s prompt (we skipped April due to my travels). Now, we’re heading in a new direction once again!

Above is May’s image. If interested, you have until May 23rd to submit a response. Happy Writing!

Note: WP seems to be sketchy with pingbacks lately. Please take a moment to add your link to the comments below. Then I’ll be sure to get it. Thanks!

Here’s how it works:

On the first of every month, I’ll post a speculative fiction prompt from Pixabay. These images are attribution free so you can use them on your blog without worrying about copyright restrictions.

Throughout the month, in order of receipt, I’ll reblog as many of your prompt-inspired creations as I can. And on the last day of each month, I’ll share a complete round-up of ALL contributions with links to the original posts. Visiting the blogs of participants is a great way to meet other speculative fiction writers.

Post your response on your own blog and link back to this original post (not to WP Reader) with a pingback, so I can reblog your post as well as include you in the month-end round-up. If you’re unsure of how to create a pingback, Hugh has an excellent tutorial here. If you prefer, you can copy and paste your link into the comments of this post.

There are no word limits or style restrictions, but please keep it somewhat family friendly.

Above all, have fun.

March Speculative Fiction Round-Up

pixabay image by Natan Vance

Wow! What a month of great stories! Thank you to everyone who participated. And to those who stretched their imaginations, Congratulations. ❤ Below is the round-up of all the March poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. As I posted a week ago, I’m on a mission to move my parents and all that entails. Therefore, I won’t have an April prompt for you. Stay tuned for May!

March Round-up

Solitaire – Darkness

Pensivity – Moon Child

Alexander De – The Zoo Keepers

Frank Prem – take me (to the moon)

Robbie Cheadle – Gaining Freedom’s Gate

Amanda Sayer – Clair de Lune

Charley – Internal Irony (see part 2 below)

Tom – Shadowlands

cosistories – Jo’Am and the Eclipse

Jackie – A Survival Guide

Carol – Trapped in the Moon’s Shadow

Sonia – City of Sand

L.T. Garvin – The Shadow City

Priscilla Bettis – Passover

Len – The Savior

Christina Ward – Vacant

Robert Goldstein – Trina: In the Land of Tall Thin Shadows

Jordy Fasheh – Bones in Time – Part III

Jessica Bakkers – Darkness and Terror

Ethan Eagar – Hunger

Jane Dougherty – Black Moon

Betul Erbasi – The Light

Sheron McCartha – Escape Velocity

Carol Forrester – No Light By This Moon

Sadje – The moon glow

Paula Light – Postcards from Afar

Scherezade Ozwulo – Sacrificial Lambs

Trent McDonald – Release Me

Steve Tanham – Song in the Street

Geoff Le Pard – Sun Block

Ritu Bhathal – The Day the Moon Began to Disappear

Kevin Parish – The Solo Dancer

The Dark Netizen – Hole

Sally Cronin – A moment of Alignment

Mimi – She would give them all the words, feelings, and blood that they needed

Louise Gallagher – He Walks Alone

Willow Willers – Apocalypse

Dorinda Duclos – The Last Eclipse

G. M. Cleary – Crocus

Tessa – Where’s the sunshine?

Antonia Sara Zenkevitch – The Moon Child

Eric – Freed

Anita – Strange Dimensions

Anneberly Andrews – A Young Concord

Balroop Singh – A Rising

Audrey Driscoll – Answering the Call

Adele Marie Parks – The Night has a Thousand Eyes

Louise Brady – Desert Eclipse

Suzanne – Eclipsed

Violet Lentz – The New Nephilim

Greg – An Email from Saint Zillow

Reena Saxena – Challenged

Barbara – Glitch

Jess – Her Dream

Michael Fishman – The Hunter

JP – Noemei

Brad – A Strange New World

HRR Gorman – Rappaccini’s Moon

Ka Malana – Veil Removal time: the hidden reality

Kerfe – Beyond Lines and Measures

Dawn – The Chosen One

Thea – The Solar Eclipse

Chelsea Owens – Crescent Illusions

Karen Dowdall – The Dark Side of the Moon

Venky – Nephthy’s Children

Hugh Roberts – The Porthole

Lynn Kim – Night Runner

Ederren – Walking Along

Pam Wight – His Path

Kelvin Knight – The Shadow Symphony

Virinchi – He is the One – A matrix story

D. Wallace Peach – left me behind

A couple of bloggers wrote more than one story! I didn’t have time to reblog these, but you might take a peek.

Charley – Internal Fires (see part 1 above)

Brad – Once Upon a Blue Moon

And a couple stragglers:

Miriam Hurdle – The Cage

Maje Mallon – The Ride

 

 

 

Diana’s March poem: you left me behind

pixabay image from Natan Vance

you left me behind

by D. Wallace Peach

 

you left me behind

because I was born in the barrio

in a shack by flooded rivers

in the dusty winds of drought

didn’t speak your tongue

or worship your god

the one who bade you

love the children

 

I am the meek

you left behind

because I toiled in cane fields

watched the dawn ripple through fish nets

over dying turquoise waters

tended my father’s reindeer

on the tundra’s barren crust

I bear no papers to witness my learning

my worth in coins or accounts

my worth in belonging

as a human being

I am too young, too crooked, too old

too homeless, too hungry

the wrong color emblazoned across my face

the wrong size, gender, ethnicity

the wrong way to love

to be

 

you needed a stranger to blame

and I am left behind

one who might have cured the ill

housed the poor

fed the hungry

ended your wars

lit a planet

and saved

you

left me behind

 

March Speculative Fiction Prompt

pixabay image by Natan Vance

For visually challenged writers, this is a silhouette of a young person walking in a street in a darkened and empty city. Overhead is a huge moon eclipsing the sun.

Thank you to everyone who responded to February’s prompt. I loved reading and sharing your stories, poems, and artwork. Now, heading in a new direction once again! Above is March’s image. If interested, you have until March 23rd to submit a response. Happy Writing!

Note: I haven’t been getting all the pingbacks from stories. Yikes! Please be sure to link to this post, not to WP Reader. If you’re unsure, just pop a link in the comments below. Thanks!

Here’s how it works:

On the first of every month, I’ll post a speculative fiction prompt from Pixabay. These images are attribution free so you can use them on your blog without worrying about copyright restrictions.

Throughout the month, in order of receipt, I’ll reblog as many of your prompt-inspired creations as I can. And on the last day of each month, I’ll share a complete round-up of all contributions with links to the original posts. Visiting the blogs of participants is a great way to meet other speculative fiction writers.

Post your response on your own blog and link back to this post with a pingback, so I can reblog your post as well as include you in the month-end round-up. There are no word limits or style restrictions, but please keep it somewhat family friendly.

I encourage all authors to stop in and reply to the kind readers who leave comments about your story. This is a lovely way to build connections.

If you’re unsure of how to create a pingback, Hugh has an excellent tutorial here. If you prefer, you can copy and paste your link into the comments of this post.

Above all, have fun.

February Speculative Fiction Round-Up

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

Thank you to everyone who participated! Great stories and to those who stretched their imaginations, Congratulations. ❤ Below is the round-up of all the February poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. I’ll post March’s prompt on the 1st!

February Round-up

Pensivity – of Mice and Elephants

Frank Prem – a surprise (I do not like)

Ethan Eagar – This Spells Trouble

Jane Dougherty – A better place

Michnavs – Thump-poem

Jordy Fasheh- Lord Ganapati and his brother Lord Kartikeya

Cosistories – An Elephant Never Forgets

Sadje – A mis-adventure

Trent McDonald – When the Elephant bumps the Mouse House – Chapter 1

Violet Lentz – Another crack at it

Ellen Best – The Storm

Bette Stevens – So Long Sweet Dreams

Anita Dawes – Snow Storm

Dorinda Duclos – Up a Tree

Carol Forrester – The Ever-Changing Beast

Jessica Bakkers – Damaris the Elephant Goddess

Carol – A Trumpeting Sound

Frank Prem – We who are the mice (will dance)

Greg – The Magic of Whimsey

Sonia – Aiming for the Stars

Himani – The Kingdom of Elephantine

Sally Cronin – The “1812 Overture”

Barbara – The Case

Len – The Classroom Circus

Helene Vaillant – Disruption

Balroop Singh – Who is Weak?

Teagan Geneviene – Atonement Ganesha

Anneberly Andrews – A New Home

Andrea Stoeckel – Gesundheit

J. R. Shull – The Stormbringer

Louise – The Elephant in the Room

Robert Goldstein – Anjana and Trina

Zina – Elephant

Kerfe – Removing the Obstacles

Geoff LePard – House Proud

Betul Erbasi – When Friends Need Help

Hugh Roberts – The Battle

HRR Gorman – Elephant and the Lord of All

G.M. Cleary – Swiss

Marje Mallon – A Very Unusual House Warming Party

Jackie – The Gobi

Kelvin Knight – Elephant in a Snowstorm

Miriam Hurdle – The Land of Sweet

Ritu Bhathal – Random Elef-Act of Kind-Mouse

Colleen Chesebro – “Green Fairies”

Venky – A Melting Conscience

Fandango – Guess Who’s Coming

D. Wallace Peach – The Elephant Child

 

 

Diana’s February Story: The Elephant Child

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

I actually recorded this if you want to listen along.

The Elephant Child

by D. Wallace Peach

An elephant child, carefree and wild
Walked into the wintry woods
He followed fox tails and jackrabbit trails
Ignoring his mother’s “shoulds”

Of course, he got lost and chilled by the frost
As night began to fall
To his rump he sunk and tooted his trunk
But no one answered his call

Oh, that cold night, to the elephant fright
The clouds began to snow
He sniffled and shivered, shook and quivered
His nose he needed to blow

The blizzard swirled and snowflakes twirled
He plodded on wobbly knees
His head grew stuffy, the snow so fluffy
He blew out a honking sneeze

Losing hope, he started to mope
When in an evergreen tree
He spied a house, just right for a mouse
And he let go a trumpet of glee

Alas the place hadn’t the space
To fit an elephant’s bulk
The lost little guy plunked down for a cry
His head hung low in a sulk

The house was quite nice, chock full of mice
Who whispered quiet and low
What was that? Did you hear a cat?
Lurking out in the snow?

Across the wood floor, they dashed to the door
Flicked on the outside light
In a rodent flurry, they squeaked and scurried
An elephant! What a sight!

Let’s offer a seat for a tea and a treat
Said a mouse who felt overly bold
I think he is lost so covered in frost
And surely his ears are cold.

Full of care and courage to spare
They crawled out on a limb
They slipped on the ice those brave little mice
And their mission turned quite grim

But they held on tight with all their might
And called to the elephant
Come in from the storm, come in and get warm
But the elephant said I can’t!

Though I’m only four, I’ll bust the door
I’ll break the branch from the tree
I’ll crack your stairs and squash your chairs
I’m far too heavy, you see.

You have to try, hurry in and dry
Get up! Please give it a go!
The elephant groaned, he mumbled and moaned
Though he longed to get out of the snow.

With strength galore, he pushed on the door
The tree branch started to bend
The home nearly fell, and the mice had to yell
Please stop, or we’re end-over-end!

The elephant frowned as the flakes tumbled down
His trunk a bright shade of blue
Oh, what a glitch, mice-whiskers did twitch.
What were the rodents to do?

Now, due to their size, mice aren’t very wise
Their brains are as tiny as seeds
They may not be smart, but they have lots of heart
And sometimes that’s all that you need.

They sketched out a plan as only mice can
And piled his back with sweaters
And blankets and sheets, and curtains with pleats
Tiny coats of wool and black leather

With the elephant warm, and safe from all harm
They dialed their old-fashioned phone
We’re seeking his mother, a father or brother!
This elephant’s all alone!

Well what do you know, because of the snow
His parents were suffering fits
They dashed to him fast and hugged him at last
And stayed for some tea and biscuits.

Thus ends the plight of the elephant’s night
Be careful when out in the woods
You might meet some mice who are caring and nice
But just in case…
Remember your mother’s shoulds.