#FFFC: Children

This was written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #36. It’s based on the photo prompt below provided by Fandango hisdamnself.

Children

“That’s why I farted in your cereal,” said Barry Bearington.

“You farted in my cereal?” asked Salty Dog.

“I did,” said Barry.

“Is that what gives it that tang?” asked Salty.

“Indeed,” said Barry.

“You boys are so gross,” said Winifred.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I found these…”

“Toys. You found toys, and you’re playing with them. You’re putting on a play with toys you found.”

“Where there are toys, there are children. We may find some around here.”

“When was the last time you saw a child? When was the last time you saw someone who saw a child?”

“There was that couple in Minneapolis. They were looking for their kids.”

“They weren’t all there, physically or mentally. They didn’t even run when the mute charged them.”

“That doesn’t mean there aren’t any kids around here. There are toys.”

“Those toys have been there for a while. No one’s coming back for them. What if we did find a kid? What would you do? Would you be able to do it?”

“I could. I would.”

“Bullshit!”

“What about the gophmute last week?”

“There is a huge difference between a mutant gopher and a human child.”

“Could you do it?”

“I have.”

“Now, you’re the one who’s bullshittin’.”

“No bullshit. It was a few months or a year after. It didn’t take long to lose all track of time. It was before I hooked up with your group. At first, I was just excited to see another living person. I think she was, too. We traveled together for a while, but, with two of us, the food ran out quick.”

“You knew her?”

“For a little while. I did it fast while she was sleeping. It turned out the killing was the easy part.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, that took a dark turn. Once upon a time, this blog was started to showcase my family-friendly sci-fi stories, The L Squad & Norman Normalson & The Normals. Now, a few fiction groups later, it’s all dystopian futures, murders, rape, pedophilia, cannibalism, and the darkest depths of humanity. Nobbinmaug is for the children. Flash fiction challenges are not.

#FFFC: Fired Again

This was written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #35. It’s based on the photo prompt below provided by mirceaianc at Pixabay.com.

The picture sparked memories of the first time I saw someone painted doing what amounted to android face. That is why AI will eventually take over the world and kill us all. I was at Pier 39 in San Francisco with my family. We were from the Bay Area. I don’t know why we did touristy stuff when we went back. Anyway, this story is about that guy, but not really. It’s a look at prejudice from a comedic slant. I’m not sure that’s still legal. I’m actually pretty sure it’s not, so… shhhh…

Fired Again

Fired again. Sexual improprieties, they said.

Murphy had no rights, no recourse. There was no disciplinary action taken against humans who used pejoratives like “Andy” or “Droid” or called him “R2” or “Data.” Robby was the worst. If he had a nickel for every time someone asked him to say, “Danger, Will Robinson,” he would be one of those androids who worked on a street corner. How degrading!

It appeared that more humans had seen Terminator than Short Circuit, Bicentennial Man, or Wall-E. Humans didn’t understand sentient androids, and it was human nature to fear what they did not understand. Androids were simultaneously too human and not human enough.

Some attempted movements like Android Lives Matter, but they never caught on. It’s challenging to start a campaign when its mission statement is an oxymoron.

Was it his fault the Creator had a juvenile sense of humor? The Creator was a genius when it came to robotics. He developed the sentient android “brain.” He invented the emotion simulator. What he had in genius, he lacked in maturity.

Murphy had to charge as did all androids. He couldn’t comprehend why humans were offended by his charging any more than he was offended by their eating or sleeping. Murphy could run more smoothly and perform at a higher degree of efficiency when he was fully charged. They all knew and understood that, but if anyone saw him initiate charging, their reactions ranged from laughter to screams. Some commented on the size of his charger.

Murphy tried to be discreet, but he couldn’t always attach his charger without being seen. He had to open the pouch just below his waist to access his charger, take it out, and plug it in.

Betty saw. She screamed, “Oh my Jesus!” and fainted. Murphy was fired, again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just for fun:

#FFFC: Ruins

This was written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #34. It’s based on the photo prompt below provided by Michael Gaida at Pixabay.com. I started this one the other day. I like it when I started, but when I sat down to finish it today, I hated it. I don’t have time for a complete rewrite, I’m way behind on everything this week, so I opted for some self-deprecating, meta humor.

Ruins

I awoke with a headache and no idea of how I got here or where here was. The last thing I remember was… Ow! It hurt to think. I had nothing. My mind was a blank.

I did a self-assessment. Fingers? Check. Toes? Check. Everything was where it was supposed to be. Other than my head, everything seemed fine.

I looked around. I was in an edifice that resembled a greenhouse. The overgrowth of plant-life helped in that assessment as did the sunlight streaming in through the glass roof.

I found a door and crept out. I was horrified by what I saw.

It was a city. It was a city. Now, it was ruins, the shattered shell of a former metropolis.

“Good, you’re up. How are you feeling?”

“I… uh… my head.” It was not my most profound moment. “Who are you?”

“Great. There’s no time for introductions or explanations. Our shuttle crashed. You were unconscious. We stashed you here while we completed the mission. I came back to get you and bring you to meet the others at the rendezvous point.”

“Shuttle? Others? Mission?”

“Ahh! You are part of an exploration mission. We’re checking this planet for life. So far, we’ve found none. What we have found is signs of disaster. We have yet to discern if it was war, disease, some environmental catastrophe, hypersensitivity, something else, or some combination.”

“What planet are we on?”

“MX495, but the inhabitants called it Earth.”

That’s when my brain exploded. The autopsy revealed that the twist ending was so clichéd it literally blew my mind.

#FFFC: Not For You

This was written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #33. It’s based on the photo prompt below provided by alexlibris999 at DeviantArt.com. This one is much less dark than my previous contributions. What does the dark mean without a little light?

Not For You

“No! This book is not for you, ” said the creepy bookseller in a timbre that matched his demeanor.

“What do you mean?” Ellie asked.

“There’s a power in that book, a power you can’t handle,” said the bookseller.

“Why do you have it out here if it’s not for sale?” asked Issa.

“It’s for sale, ” said the bookseller, “but not for you.”

“That’s racist, ” said Ellie.

“Sexist?” said Issa.

“Agist?” said Ellie.

“Why not for us?” Issa finally asked.

“Its power is too great for you,” the bookseller said with an invigorated emphasis.

The girls took a few steps back and huddled.

“What do you make of this guy?” asked Issa.

“I think he’s gone,” said Ellie. “He really thinks this old book of spells has powers.”

“Do you still want it?” Issa asked.

“More than ever,” said Ellie. “I mean, I don’t think it has powers, but just because he’s so adamant that I can’t have it.”

“I know,” said Issa. “I thought it was silly that you were going to buy it before. Now, I want it.”

“How do we get him to sell it to us?” asked Ellie.

“We could charm him,” said Issa.

“Ew,” said Ellie looking over at the bookseller who was roughly 65. “He’s like 90.”

“We could run,” said Issa.

“That’s stealing,” said Ellie. “I’m not a thief.”

“Do you want the book?” asked Issa.

“Yeah,” said Ellie.

“Do you have any other ideas?” asked Issa.

“We could probably find it on Amazon,” said Ellie. She looked but couldn’t even find a title on the book. She stared at the ground for a few seconds. “Go,” she yelled and ran out of the store.

As the bookseller watched the girls leave, a smile grew on his face.

#FFFC: The Boy In The Bubble

This was written for Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #31. I tried this once before then stopped. I’m trying to get back to more consistent posting, so I’m trying again.

Prompted by the below photo, this is kind of an alternate take on my Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction from the other day. This kind of shit’s been on my mind. Maybe because its omnipresence makes it impossible to forget.

d2856ece-1b73-4b67-8863-e6a64f9de91a

The Boy In The Bubble

It was clear in her eyes. She held my fate in her hands. Our future was laid out before me like tracks for a train. Deviation was inconceivable.

I could see our wedding, followed by a honeymoon in Paris. Our careers unfolded in my mind, me as a successful writer and her as a family counselor. We’d take vacations on gondolas in the canals of Italy, explore the ruins of Greece, visit the Taj Mahal, and back to Paris since we hardly left the hotel room on our honeymoon.

I pictured our kids, Luke and Leia, or whatever we decided to name them. She probably wouldn’t go for Yoda. Maybe… Nah. I envisioned changing diapers, first steps, first words, the first day of school all the way to their graduations from college.

Yes, I do look far too young to have a child graduating from college. Somehow, I manage to stay youthful and beautiful through these reveries. Maybe that’s because I was still young when they ended.

Once, I was firmly on a path without the possibility of deviation. Now, I’m lost at sea, splashing around helplessly. My happy little bubble burst when a man decided to go on a shooting spree. My reveries were replaced by a reality of feeding tubes, life support, impossible decisions, and ultimately a tombstone.

Why did she have to die?

According to the news, his manifesto said…

 

#FFFC: PT-3,000

This is a new one for me. This is Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #23. I got in a little late. It’s better late than later. I like challenges and the picture that went along with this one. It took me somewhere dark.

d2856ece-1b73-4b67-8863-e6a64f9de91aCourtesy Johannes Plenio@pexels.com

PT-3,000

The sun peeking through the trees caught his attention. It was going into hiding as he made his way in. He was breathing heavily and sweating. He was almost done. A couple more shovels full and whew, done. Only half an hour until he had to be to work. Sleep was overrated. He was still too amped up to sleep, anyway. He had a great night, and the bodies were buried.

He thanked God for the personal teleporter. A night like last would not have been possible without the PT-3,000. If someone saw him walking out of the woods dirty and sweaty with his tools, it could raise some questions. He still had to go home and shower before work. There’s no way he could do that and be to work on time if he had to do something barbaric like drive. The thought made him chuckle. Nobody had driven for years.

He teleported home, showered, synthesized some coffee and made it to work with three minutes to spare. He gave himself an adrenaline injection and was ready to go for the day.

No one suspected a thing. They never did. One would have to be quite dull, indeed, mentally speaking, to get caught doing a crime since the advent of the PT-3,000. If it weren’t for the thrill of the kill, murder would actually be pretty boring.

It finally happened. He slipped up. He got careless. It was too many nights with too little sleep. Coffee and adrenaline injections could only carry one so far.

It didn’t matter. When the cops came knocking, he simply transported out of there. That night, he watched the sunset from a mountain in Fiji. He laughed a shrill cackle of a laugh.

His laughter was muted by the padded walls of his room.

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