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Category Archives: Science Fiction

No Variations, No Exceptions.

It certainly looked busy behind the sliding glass window.  Velvet ropes defined the queue and God forbid that you should not follow that weaving path, even if there was nobody ahead of you.  Eye contact was hardly, if impossible to make and only a nasally, metallic voice, with boredom dripping on every syllable made the line move. “Next”, it  would bark out, as if the person at the head of the line was a mile across the waiting room and not standing directly two feet in front of  it.  Nothing could create  a motivation to accomplish tasks any faster as there were no incentives in place to do it better.  You stood and waited, until they were ready.  Procedures were to be followed, no variations,  no special treatment allowed.

She had been in the line since 4am, waiting her turn to get to the window.  Shuffle, stand, shuffle,stand.  If she could sleep in a vertical position, she would have had a good couple of hours rest, but no, she had never perfected that little trick, so she just waited her turn stoiclly, trying to ignore the pain in her head.

When finally “Next” meant her, she eased to the closest window.  The face on the other side leaned on a tilt, holding the phone in place with a cold shoulder and an uncaring ear.  The face had upon it, a look of total and complete uninterest.  “Uh-hum, uh-hum..sure… yes…that’s what I thought when I saw the date.” said the somewhat disembodied voice.  Since the counter in front of the face held a computer screen with the  waiting womans information printed in a very precise format, things could only be getting ready to go down hill from what was fast becoming a very deep rut in her road.

“Your insurance expired last month.”, the smooth voice stated, showing no empathy.  It waited for some type of response.  The woman began to twist in the wind and started digging through her purse.  ” No, NO,  you’re wrong. I paid that bill.  I have a cancelled check.  It’s here somewhere, give me a minute… I have to see the Doctor.  This pain is killing me and I must have some more meds”.  The face sighed heavily as if it were a personal affront that it was having to actually wait. “You must have insurance, no exceptions, no special treatment permitted” it droned.   Somewhere in the background a clock began ticking.  Time here was accounted for at all costs and while the line moved slowly, it was never allowed to stop for more than a minute.

The face was programmed for little, abet no patience, so the timer made all the decisions necessary for things to run efficiently.  The woman was really in a panic now as she dumped the contents of her purse in the middle of the floor and was frantically digging thru the mess for the cancelled check which would be her only salvation.  Ticket stubs, candy wrappers, pearl handled derringer,  grocery receipts,  hairbrush and a worn and frazzled identity card which had fallen out of her wallet, were all that she was finding.  Good Grief, what in the hell was she going to do?  The pounding in her head was now in sync with the ticking of the timer and the madness of the pain had her grasping at the pistol.

As the timer suddenly stopped with a clang, a low keening noise began to emanate from the woman. “Your place is now to be vacated” stated the face.   “Next” came its command to the queue that had been standing like stones watching the scene play out.   Time for a moment held its breath, as the pounding in the womans head took on a life of its own.  Raising the tiny gun from the mess she had made on the floor,  she fired between what supposedly were the eyes on the face.  Lights began flashing and sirens started to blare and the metallic face shattered into bits of silver electrodes and flecks of plastic shards.  “Hell with your “Next” and hell with your exceptions. Give me my Meds.”..and the line moved on.

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Flash Fiction, Science Fiction

 

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Media meets his Match ( Chapter 4)

Gerald decided he needed a drink.  The interview he had finally accomplished with Max had not been productive.  Try as he might to garner in facts or insight about the virus or as to what was really going on at Labs of the World;  Max, it’s President and face to the public and an expert at the vague,  danced and sallied around and basically lied thru his teeth leaving Gerald with a whole lot of nothing.  Gerald knew there was a story there and knew that Max knew he knew.   Conundrums all around, it was just not going to be his day.

He stood on the pavement trying to figure out where to quench his thirst and spotted the bar with the bulbs flashing out at him in the night. ..INKS it said, with the d and the r dark against the white building.  “Well, I am a journalist and penmanship is my forte so this must be the place I am destined to go”, he thought as he wandered across the street.   Gerald always looked for signs, for signs from the unknown were out there to guide you, if you paid attention and let what was destined to be, happen.

Easing open the heavy door, he was met with a rush of cold, smokey air and an odor of flash fried peanuts.  “Couldn’t be all bad”, he decided and he made his way to the bar.   He sat on a raggedy-ass stool and ordered his usual, a Kryptonite, double if you please.  Downing the first one with a flourish, he raised his finger at the bartender for another.  As the rum flooded into his system he felt the hairs on his head, under the foil beret, start to stand at attention and that feeling of being stared at creeped over him.  Casually he removed his beret and let it fall to the floor so that he could be unobtrusive in his attempt to see who the hell was behind him.    Bending over he was surprised to see two rather odd small feet in sandals (9 toes on each and webbed?) attached to an equally oddly proportioned body ( is THAT a third boob?),  attached to the head of the women who had been peaking at him off and on over at the lab.  He had tried to ignore her when she would come over and gaze at him thru the less than fully functioning one way window, she, never realizing that he could see her there, if in a somewhat muddled and fuzzy image.  As he raised up to meet her eyeball to eyeball, so to speak, she spoke the words that melted his heart immediately…” I like your beret”.

Gerald was dumbstruck.  Nobody had ever said that.  He was no fool, odd but not foolish, and had figured out pretty early in life that most folks thought his ideas about aliens and such, were something that he would grow out of.  He had not. As life in general for most of the world’s population had gotten more bizarre, Gerald just knew in his mind that there was something, someone….out there after them.  He felt protected in his aluminum hats and ignored the snide comments and cutting looks everyone, save this women, normally gave him.

“Er, uh, would you… I mean thank you… I mean would you like to have a stool, er seat,..ah drink, um, fried peanut?  Gerald was not the most suave fellow in the world either.  “Well, just a little one maybe, something lite”, said the once murky image now coming fully into full-blown female-ish context.  She ordered a “Sex on the Beach”, not because she had ever seen a beach nor had  sex, but they were Potent as Pluto and with her Alien nature, they were just what the Doctor would stipulate.  ( She hadn’t quit gotten those sayings down pat yet).

Gerald took another slug of his Kryptonite…”You’re not from around here are ya”?  Not the most original question in the world and he had no idea how spot on and understated it really was.  “You work in the lab across the street, I saw you today.”  He watched as her eyes got large as she realized he had seen her many attempts of incognito-ism.  “Yes, I mean no, I mean, yes I work at the lab and no I’m not really from around here locally I mean,..  this Universe of course, but no not local…..” and she not being used to personal tete a tetes especially with someone who was making the antennae under her left arm start to shimmy( and she Knew what that meant) didn’t know quite where to go after that.

Gerald smiled at her.  He too was starting to feel the vibes and it wasn’t the Kryptonite either, there was something going here and his journalistic antenna ( quite different from hers of course) was telling him, this was where the story was.  No wonder Max was vague and persnickety with his answers today, he really was clueless about the whole situation.  If he was as dense about his employees no wonder he knew nothing about the virus.

“You know I work for the Sunshine News, could I just ask you a few questions?”, Gerald said going full into what he thought was his Bob Woodward persona mode.  Taken aback at his forthright question, Aggie drained the rest of her drink and waving at the bartender in her Betty Davis voice murmured.  “Bring us both another, it’s gonna be a bumpy take off.”

— — — — — — — —

Words Inc., Wednesday:

(1) another, (2) cold, (3) night, (4) let, (5) it, (6) happen

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Flash Fiction, humor, Science Fiction

 

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Media on the Prowl ( Chapter3)

Gerald had been kept waiting in the tiny office foyer for three and a half hours.  Max had been hoping that having his secretary come out ever so often to say, “He’s still in that meeting” or “He had an important call come in ” would have put him off and that he would leave in frustration, but then again Max often underestimated people. Nope Gerald stood his ground (well, actually sat in the ragged old metal chair).    I mean, after all, a couple of things were in play here.  One, he had really nothing better to do.  Two, he had brought his lunch in anticipation of being hindered in his search for the truth so was really in no big rush and three, he had a deep and unwavering feeling that something was  definitely wrong here. Of course, Gerald had that feeling most days, which was the reason for his ever present aluminum foil headgear; which he fashioned weekly himself, sometimes a baseball cap, sometimes a fedora and once even a cowboy hat. Gerald while often a bit left of center was sporty,  all the time.

Anyway, Gerald was a man of patience and for all intent and purpose was on a mission.  To him, leaving without getting his interview with one,  Mr. Maxwell V. Shirple- President of Labs of the World,  which was going to be his lead- in story for the Sunshine News Weekly Truth Report, would be accomplished today come hell or whatever.

Meanwhile in the  back, Aggie, trying to keep a low profile in the lab, periodically would leave her table, with all its microscopes and assorted specimens, and casually stroll by the one-way mirror to gaze at Gerald.  She particularly wanted to see how long his persistence could hold out, but even more so she  just wanted to stare at his hat.  She, being the UA ( Undercover Alien) put in the indubitable position of being the local mole and “go to alien for all things virus”, just found it fascinating that someone on earth had finally figured out the truth about aluminum  foil and it’s alien ray protection. It never ceased to amaze her why all  the all humans weren’t as astute as Gerald, and because she found him astute and somewhat very cool looking in this weeks fashion statement ( a fancy french looking crumbled silver beret on which he had glued a feather found in his front yard) she was hoping he would still be hanging around when she got off work and she could ask him out for a drink. ( not that aliens were heavy drinkers, but on her planet 5 o’clock came every 6th hour so you  can shake your head in disbelief and say “Yeah right”)

On what was going to be her last stroll by the mirror, Max at the other end of the hall decided almost simultaneously, that if he was ever going to make it out the front door today he was going to have to suck it up and see Gerald and do the damn interview, thus at 4:45 pm he found himself gazing out that mirror at patient Gerald, with Aggie standing by his side.   “Well, looks like I can’t be rid of him after all.  I’m gonna have to deflect any questions about what you thought you found you know”, said Max, puffing himself up into his I’m The Boss Mode.

Aggie, continued to stare at Gerald’s  foil beret,  slowly realizing that she was starting to have what they called “feelings” for this strange little man, who at this point was dozing off in his metal chair, with a bit of drool leaking onto his chin.  “Yes I know, I read his story yesterday in the Sunshine rag, he was quite descriptive of the rainbow faces on the victims you know.  He really believes in Aliens and such but I don’t think people around here put enough faith in him”, she said with some frustration.

“Faith?”, said Max,  “What in the hell does faith have to do with the price of tea in China?  I just don’t want anyone to think the damn virus was something that came from this lab.  It was just a freak of nature, a one time occurrence, nothing more, nothing less”

“Tea in China…Damn humans and their little confusing sayings”, thought Aggie.  “No, no… it will all blow over you just have to use sane responses with him and when he realizes there is nothing to blow out of proportion, he will go away”. ” I guess,” Max said under his breath and he turned to go introduce himself to the little twerp.

Aggie, turned in the opposite direction and headed back down to the lab.  Guessing that Max would have his hands full with Gerald for at least an hour or so, she had some time to radio the Mother Ship for further instructions on what they had in mind for next week.  She knew now that they were behind schedule, whatever they came up with for her to create in her little lab away from home, it was going to be a doozy.  There would be no getting to know Gerald better any time in the near future or actually anytime in any future.  Future would become a relative term here very soon and shortly after that would pretty much cease to exist as a go-to word for a lot of earthlings.

Damn, she definitely needed that drink.

Take It Away, Tuesday:

Something is definitely wrong here.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Flash Fiction, humor, Science Fiction

 

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Media Failure (Chapter 2)

Aggie was sitting on the edge of her bed watching the morning news and checking out the early edition of the newspaper.  Things had gone not as direly as she had expected, with the virus infected storms passing through the area and all.   Max, her diligent supervisor, rather than alerting the media as she had advised,  had actually contacted the CDC and the Air Force ( gosh she was so impressed he had thought to do that).  In rapid action, so rare for any governmental body,  they had formulated a plan and had seeded the clouds with a virus coating oil that had negated most of the disastrous potential that she had envisioned just yesterday noon.

She turned down the volume as Ole Willard was on the Today show, droning about the storm and the potential flood warnings. Other than a dozen or so folks ( evidently super sensitive) that keeled over in a dead faint and subsequently turned bright colors upon getting wet in the down pour, not much was being reported.  The fact that the dozen or so were even being noticed at all (other than their peculiar and vibrant rainbow skin tones) , was the result of the intense scrutiny of Gerald Balderfore, the reporter/photographer  for The Sunshine Daily, the local wacko rag that headlined the obscure and unusual, like aliens and Big Foots.

Gerald had been on the scene in the emergency room of Wagged Hospital, wearing his aluminum foil hat ( just in case) when three sopping wet and ailing folks arrived at the same time.  The doctors were bumfuzzled over the Chartreuse, Violet and Carolina Blue faces and while trying to hide their concern, didn’t notice Gerald snapping pictures and talking into his miniature  recorder. He was noting everything that was being said or done by the frantic medical staff, who before now had never seen such unusual symptoms and were using every trick of their trade to revive the three. While they finally quarantined the ailing citizens, Gerald had had ample time to get enough info and shots ( in living color of course) and the story was woven in detail on the front page.

Aggie was fascinated by his descriptions.  She had thought when looking at the virus through her microscope that she had detected a palette spray of colors, like an aura, surrounding the center of the germ, but had no idea that those would become a tell tale sign of the illness.   Gerald’s story wove a tale of imagination on the cause of the illness, again back to the Alien factor in which he was a firm believer.  Of course the whole Area 51 hoax gave no credence to such things occurring, which is why his story wasn’t picked up by the national news.

This was a good thing, Aggie thought, as it would give her more time to notify her Mother Ship and advise that the plan, while a small success, was pretty  much a bust: due to the lack of media attention not producing the panic that they hoped.  She would let them know another attempt would have to be planned for later in the week.

Thinking Ten:  On Location, Monday:

Sitting on the edge

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Flash Fiction, humor, Science Fiction

 

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Alert the Media (Chapter 1)

It was wiggly and squiggly under the microscope.  “Just a germ, any one would see it looked like so many others”, she thought grimly. Harmless? Not this little sucker she had captured in the runoff  from last nights rain shower and it wouldn’t take long to cause chaos.  Put enough of them raining down in a large metropolitan area and you would have real problems to deal with.  Finding any unaffected folks after such a epidemic infected storm would be a tall order for the Red Cross medics that would have to come in to save the day.

She picked up the phone to call Max.  He being her supervisor would have the somewhat dubious task of making the announcement.  Her imagination began to run with it then.  The ongoing and repetitive  news flashes and AP scrolling it as a line item across the TV screens.”Hell, they’ll probably want to blame this on Bush like they do everything else”, she thought, trying not to roll her eyes. She foresaw Drudge Report and Breitbart having a field day with their Large Impressive Black Headlines and the Weather Channel getting  their on-standby reporting meteorologists drug out of mothballs just for the occasion.  The  folks on the local stations will probably begin ratcheting up pandemonium as soon as they get the news as well and the excitement of it all will have them think this will be even more titillating than standing in the blowing winds of a hurricane for them, unless  they accidentally get wet and somehow get thru the initial symptoms, that is.

Just thinking of the morning forecast telling of afternoon thunder storms, now as she had discovered, were potentially moisture packed with what she saw as a tiny bug with a big wallop…well it was giving her the heebee gee-bees.

She paused for a second and hung up the phone.  Just another quick peek she thought. Leaning over the microscope and deftly adjusting the lens, she once again stared into the petri dish.   Amazement flooded through her as she watch the multiplication before her very eye of  what moments ago had been one super bad ass flu bug.  Talk about watching an exponential explosion of disease.

Well, she thought, this certainly was going to be a good day to stay inside, curl up with a good book and watch the rain.  Better call Max to alert the media.

— — — — — — — —

Member’s Pick, Friday

(1) enough, (2) real, (3) tall, (4) Germany

 

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