Monthly Archives: September 2013

Flash fiction challenge- cliffhanger

Ok, so I’m well aware of what the cliffhanger is supposed to be.   Who shot J.R?.  How will they bring Spock back?  What are these things growing on my genitalia?  I always want to break the mold a little, write the story that nobody else had considered.  So, here is my cliff-hanger for chuck wendig’s flash fiction challenge.

THE GREAT ESCAPE?

“It smells like shit in here, Gary.”

“Dad, SHHH!  It’s Albert.  You’ll embarrass him!”

“Do you think that saying something about it is going to embarrass him more than the fact that he shit the bed?”

“Dad, please!”

Albert speaks up from the next bed.  “I know what happened.  Can’t help it.  It’s not fair, God damnit!  I killed more Japs than smallpox.  I built roads and bridges and did my part.   Now I’m just laying here in my own shit.  If I’d known I would end up like this I would have followed those Japs right over the cliff that day.”  He pauses for a long moment, staring at the ceiling.  “Jerry, we’re just waiting here to die.   We weren’t smart enough to die young.”

“Shut up, Albert, it’s just shit.  It’ll wash off.”

Gary has heard it all before.  His father still has his health, still remembers and talks about fishing and camping trips when Gary was a kid.  He still talks about Mom and family and youth.   The problem is he can’t remember what he did an hour ago.  He burned the kitchen off the house a few months earlier with a pot of beans.  He would leave the car running when he came home.  Gary had been convinced that a nursing home was for Dad’s Own Good.

Now, sitting in the stark cinderblock room, smelling the evacuated bowels of Dad’s roommate, Gary second guessed that decision.  His wife wouldn’t let him bring Dad home.  They had fought about it enough and frankly, the marriage was hanging on by a thread anyway.  He was determined to make his marriage work.  Dad’s house had been declared a total loss and insurance had paid for it.

There was nowhere for Dad to go.  “Dad, do you want to be here?”  He knows what the answer will be.

“Do I want to be here?  Take a deep breath.  Do you think I like the fresh air in here?  Look around.  Is this scenery appealing to you?  Do you think it’s appealing to me?  Of course I don’t want to be here.  I love you Gary but this place is hell.  I live to be outside.  I want my front porch back.”

“The house was dozed Dad, I told you that.”

Jerry looks down at his lap.  His son wondered if he had forgotten about the house.  “Gary, the insurance money.  Where is it?”

“It’s in your bank account, Dad.”

“Paying for me to be here?”

“Yes.”

“I see.”

The next morning Jerry changes into his regular clothes.  He has blue jeans, tennis shoes, and a button up shirt in his drawer.  He used the room phone to call a cab.

“Damn, you look like a million bucks, Jerry!  You got a date?”

“You could say that.  Albert, I’m not coming back.”

“Seriously?  That’s fucking awesome!  Where ya going?”

“Well, to the bank first.  But I don’t know after that.  There’s a big world out there.  Just do me a favor.  Don’t let on.  Don’t let anyone know.  You don’t know anything about this, do you hear me?”

“I wouldn’t do anything to hurt your chances.  Go to a titty bar for me, will ya?”

“Sure thing, Albert.”

Jerry steps out into the hallway for what he hopes will be the last time.  The front door is to his left, past the front desk.  He turns right.  The cab should be waiting by the side door by now.  The women at the nurse’s station shouldn’t recognize him in that wing.  He just has to walk upright, quickly, and act like he has every right to walk out.

The hallway smells like everything else in this place.  Cleaning solution, poop, urine, and the eggs from the kitchen.  As he passes each room, the dominance of each smell changes.  Somebody shit the bed in that room.  They just cleaned this one.  Milly just got served her breakfast.

He turns the final corner.  “At last,” he says quietly.  He straightens up.  He quickens his step.  With one final sigh, he strolls over to the front desk.

“Excuse me, I was visiting Jerry Murphy again.  The last time I was here I couldn’t get the code in the door right.  I have bad eyes, that’s why I don’t drive.  That’s my cab out there.”  He points out the glass doors to the yellow sedan parked at the curb.  “Can you buzz me out?”

“Of course, honey.  Have a nice day!”

It’s going to work!  He strides across the West Side waiting room to big glass doors.  A thunderous click and buzz indicates that they are unlocked.  Freedom is right through those doors…

“HOLD IT!” comes a man’s voice from behind him.  As the fear of being caught grips his heart, a hand grasps his shoulder.

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flash fiction challenge-the robots have taken over-apocalypse-etc

                It began, as so many catastrophes do, with a grand idea.  They promised to change the world.  They promised eternal life. 

     Billy knew there was no escape, only delay of the inevitable.  His entire lab, hundreds of employees and scientists and engineers, were dead.  For all he knew he was the last human on earth.  Or for that matter in the solar system.  The machines had attacked the colonies as well.  Once they got into the life support systems on the colonies, nobody would have survived.

     As soon as people started to die, Billy had gathered everything he could and went to the lab.  The lab where he had overseen the creation of… what had he created, exactly?  He pondered the question while taking another pint of Ben and Jerry’s out of the lab freezer.  Should it be called the apocalypse?  Extinction?  The end of the world?

     “It’s not the end of the world.”  His voice echoed in the empty lab.  Two weeks ago this was the sterile room.  It had become his living room.

     “Extinction level event.  That’s what it is.  And I did it.”  He shook his head as he scooped another mouthful of ice cream into his mouth.  “I was saving the world.  Free medical care for every person, hell, every CREATURE on earth.”

     He still had some of them.  Every day he would look at them, try to figure out how to stop the machines that were systematically killing everything.  Every living creature was their prey.  He had only been trying to help.  The sad thing is they were doing what he had told them to do.  It was bad programming.  Garbage in, garbage out.

     He peered into the microscope.  There they were, hundreds of them.  Tiny little robots, all developed and constructed according to his specifications.  Each component made of a small cluster of molecules.  Thousands could rest at the same time on a single human hair follicle.  Nanoids, they had been called.

     Before the extinction event they became known as “the scourge.”

     The whole idea was to create swarms of them that could enter the human body.  They could detect and remove cancers, toxins, even viruses.  They were hailed as the biggest medical advance of the 22d century.  He had won the Nobel Prize in medicine as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, along with every other prestigious award that one could name.  They were released in poor countries, in wealthy countries, and they swept most of the world’s diseases away without anyone even having to go to a hospital.  They even worked on animals.  Heck, a robot the size of a large molecule doesn’t know the difference between a parrot and an elephant.  It just detects diseased tissue and removes it. 

Perfect health eventually wasn’t enough.

     We wanted to live forever.  Billy Cundiff improved his nanoids.  Fixed something that wasn’t broken.  He made them so they would repair damaged tissue, not just remove it.  That was the idea, anyway.  To repair tissues so as to slow aging, maybe even stop it altogether.

     The nanoids did a great job.  Under controlled conditions they improved health and vigor to such a degree that Billy Cundiff became the richest man in the solar system.  He got paid handsomely to keep the wealthy young.

     The cries of injustice from the poor rose.  After a decade of keeping the wealthy young while the poor aged Billy couldn’t stand it anymore.  He released billions of nanoids.  Then trillions.  Then trillion-trillions.  He created them in batches large enough to cover a small country. 

     They were no longer controlled.  Once they got into an organic system, they didn’t leave until everything was fixed.  The host was, in effect, repaired to death.  Once the system died, the nanoids left to find a new host and begin their work anew.

     Billy had unleashed justice and equality upon the solar system.  Everyone, rich and poor, two-legged and four, met an equal end.  “Fatal perfection,” he said aloud.

     For the thousandth time he hooked himself up to the security system and scanned the surrounding area.  He was looking for a bird, a dog, anything. 

     The only movement was the wind blowing through the unmown grass.

The weight of causing the largest extinction event the earth had ever seen was more than he could bear.  He walked through the airlocks on his lab to the exit and stood under the warm sun.  He took a deep breath, shook his head, and decided it was time to find a soft bed.  He was prepared to live it up, alone.  In about two weeks, he, too, would be fatally perfect.

     

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editing

I am trying to edit a novel while simultaneously writing another one and still meeting deadlines on my articles.  Can anyone that checks in here give me any advice on how they edit?  I’m doing it a hundred different ways and can’t find any continuity.  Any help is appreciated.

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