Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 32

WELCOME to the newest round of Flash! Friday!!!! Today finds me in the middle of yet another battle of online Scrabble with my mother, who is a terrifying and formidable opponent. This is in part because she is an incredibly bright and clever woman; but it’s also because I never know which mother I’m up against: the one who crushes me by two hundred points thanks to mysterious words I would have sworn weren’t a natural part of her lexicon (Me: “Are you cheating, Mommy?!” Her: “Think it’s going to rain today?”), or the indulgent one who goes out of her way to shower me with points (“Another Triple Word Score open for you, honey! Do you have an S?”).

She’s currently (only) 30 points ahead this round, and she just played so an R hovers above a TW. To use the TW, I need a six-letter word starting with R; my letters are A H L E D A R.

Scrabble board

–Please tweet your suggestions to me @postupak so for once she’s not the only one playing with mysterious genius. 

COPYRIGHT REMINDER!  Parodies and derivations of public domain stories (like fairy tales) are welcome, but otherwise please be sure to use your own invented characters and world in your stories; using copyrighted characters will summon the Evil Dragons Of Lawsuits to the lair. Thank you for understanding.

WALL OF FLAME!!! DID YOU KNOW that if you write stories at least three Fridays in a month, you’re eligible to win a Ring of Fire badge for that month? (And did you realize today is the third Friday of July already?!) Each badge nets you a chance at a sparkly prize basket at year’s end; details here.


DC2***WELCOME NEW JUDGES*** Join me this week in welcoming to the judging table Dragon Team Seven, the devastatingly talented captains IfeOluwa Nihinlola & Nancy Chenier! For his part, IfeOluwa loves innovation. “Let the prompt soar on dragon wings,” says IfeOluwa. “Shock the prompt with your imagination.” Speaking of dragons, Nancy freely confesses her love for all things speculative. But whether or not a story is speculative, she says, “I like works that can ground me in concrete imagery and evoke real emotions.” I’m thinking this is going to be a crazy fun round! 


Awards Ceremony: Results will post Monday. Noteworthy #SixtySeconds interviews with the previous week’s winner post Thursdays.  

* Today’s required word count: 200 – 225 words (minimum 200, maximum 225, not counting title/byline)

How to enterPost your story here in the comments. Be sure to include your word count (this week’s min 200 – max 225 words, excluding title/byline), the two story elements you based your story on, and Twitter handle if you’ve got one. If you’re new, don’t forget to check the contest guidelines.

Deadline: 11:59pm ET tonight (check the world clock if you need to; Flash! Friday is on Washington, DC time)

Winners: will post Monday.

Prize: The Flash! Friday e-dragon e-badge for your blog/wall, your own winner’s page here at FF, a 60-second interview next Thursday, and your name flame-written on the Dragon Wall of Fame for posterity.


This week’s novel inspiration: 1984 by George Orwell, in which a historian secretly rebels against the oppressive government he works for.

Story elements (base your story on any TWO of these; be sure to tell us which two you chose. Reminder: please do not use copyrighted characters):

* Conflict: man vs society (government)
Character: historian
Theme(s): Censorship and/or totalitarianism
Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

OPTIONAL PHOTO PROMPT (for inspiration only; it is NOT REQUIRED for your story):

Riot Police. CC2.0 photo by Thomas Hawk.

Riot Police. CC2.0 photo by Thomas Hawk.

360 thoughts on “Flash! Friday: Vol 3 – 32

  1. War Games

    Wakely was wearing a dark suit, smudged on the lapel to the right of his lapel pin. The pin was from his regiment, the Royal Canadian Signal Corps.

    He had entered the containment building and presented his credentials. They didn’t lie. His documentation was perfectly fine.

    The guard, a Sergeant, squirmed,looked like he wanted to challenge hm.

    “Is there a problem, Sergeant?”

    This was the Sergeant’s opportunity to assert himself.

    It was a game Wakely dearly loved.

    He knew he looked quite unlike a War Department investigator.

    He was barely 5’2”

    He was unkempt. Not too beaten up and disreputable but sufficiently scuffed that spit and polish sticklers like the Sergeant would be tempted to cross a line.

    But this was the Canadian Army. They were all good soldiers.

    “No, Sir.”

    “Good. Where are the cadets?”

    “This way, sir.”

    The surviving cadets, all aged 14-18, were seated in a small auditorium.

    Something had gone wrong during their instruction in hand grenades.
    A live grenade had entered the mix, the pin had been pulled, the lever released and now six were dead and many injured.

    “Gentlemen, I have brought an official secrets pledge. Your Government demands you sign it. You will never reveal the events of this day. To do so would be treason. We hang traitors. “

    “Have a safe journey home, lads.”

    224 grenades
    Conflict: man (or boys) vs society ( government)
    Theme: Censorship and totalitarianism

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Smashing Ignorance”
    214 words
    By: Deanna Fugett
    Conflict / Theme

    I sat with the dusty, worn out book within my fingers, clutching it tight, never wanting to let go. The answers I had craved to life’s questions were hidden in its pages. Bianca shifted ever so slightly at my side. The softness of her snoring made me smile. Opening the glorious book, I dug my nose in for what seemed like hours. I had lost the concept of time within these small walls. Life was so much more than I ever imagined.
    My arms ached as I held the book, jutting out so as not to bother my sleeping beauty, who’s head nestled in my lap. Pain shot through my eyes as I strained in the fading light to catch each and every blessed word. My mind expanding faster than my belt on Thanksgiving.
    When that door shot open and we were exposed, the truth sunk into my skull deeper than ever. Our once hidden spot, our security, was smashed to pieces as they stormed the room.
    Plunging my hand out to catch hers in mine one final time before they ripped us apart, my eyes glued on to hers. “Don’t ever trust them.”
    I will never forget Bianca’s last words, as they drug us away in opposing directions, “We were never truly free.”


  3. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 225
    Story Elements: Conflict (Man v. Society OR Boy v. Mommy’s Rulebook)/Theme (censorship)

    Lesson Learned

    The first streak of dawn slits the darkness, trailing a shaft of light across the dust motes that hover in a slow-motion dance. The battleground is strewn with the ghosts of yesterday’s confrontations, and I pick my way around the wreckage of a car that has spun its last round and rests on its side.


    From behind a mountain of hazardous ruins, my son raises his head, guilt woven through the freckles that coat his face. “What, Mom?”

    “What. Are. The. Rules?” I ask through a tight jaw.

    Colby sighs as if he is used to the smoke that wisps from my ears. “Put my toys away when I’m done playing with them. I know, Mom, but I wasn’t done yet.”

    “These are from yesterday!” I stab my finger at a pile of scattered blocks, partially hidden beneath his dragging comforter. “Pick up right now, or you’ll catch it.”

    I turn for the door, the arch of my foot embracing a Lego as I rest the full weight of my body on it.

    I leap off, and Colby wants to know the definition of the word I used. I ignore him and exit the room.

    “But mom,” his voice trails down the hallway to me, “just think of the education you’ve given me this morning. I learned a new word!”


  4. Used: Conflict and characted
    Words: 219

    Brothers in Arms
    Books were gathered in the town square. More were added as residents threw down volumes that fell with pages fluttering like dying moths in the flames. Everything had to burn. The choking smoke would wipe the slate clean. The pile grew; stories, poetry, history, science, the word of God. All had to be destroyed. From the ashes a new world would arise. A utopia. A world of peace. So they say.

    A man tried running away with a few volumes clutched in his arms. Guards tackled him and he fell, his head cracking on the flagstones. Books fell to be scooped up and thrown onto the still growing pile. The historian was dragged to his feet and guns with live ammunition pointed at him. He put his hands in the air and surrendered to the inevitable. He saw behind the guards a figure flitting through the shadows. Some volumes would be saved.

    The caught man looked at each guard in turn. The face behind one of the rifles was his brother’s. His finger was on the trigger. Doing his job just like the others. Without question, without thought. Without knowing how many times this scene had played itself out through time.

    He closed his eyes and waited for the bullet. He did not want to see who fired first.


  5. 225 words
    Elements – Character/Theme/Setting

    The Improbability of Unrelated Causality

    Mads Mikkelsen came to me in a dream. He said I wasn’t a killer. The disappointment drove me wild. But his skin is so soft I sometimes forget how angry I am. Then I remember and I have to change. Tearing his suit would be a crime, a true crime – like back when I wore a Donna Karan sweater with McQueen low-ride jeans to a faculty dinner.

    The fruity old dame in charge had conniptions and bleated on about standards. It was a Modern History Department, not Victorian Britain Stuffed Shirt Department. Still, it gave me the idea.

    Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Pretty much every student of history swallows this aphorism early on and it becomes lodged in their learning DNA. It struck me that those who do remember the past, can choose to repeat it. So many lessons to be learnt, so many strategies to emulate.

    So I did. And now I’m the, well, Emperor is close I suppose, and can wear what the hell I like, when I like. And stuffy Regius Professors of History have to wear what I tell them to. When I had the last one executed she asked me ‘why?’.

    “You inspired the monster in me,” I told her. “I don’t want to risk you becoming someone else’s muse.”



  6. Obsessed with Less
    215 Words

    The month’s list was perfect. A neat list of twenty new words on the right a longer list of fifty words on the right. Nobody ever paid attention to the longer list. The populace of Neo-Termina all wanted to see what new slang was would be added to the official lexicon list. They seemed to care less about the words that would have to be purged to make way for the new ones.

    The Office of National Lexicon had been tasked with thinning out the dictionary. Over time, it would help more children pass the federal standardized testing. Walter was the only librarian not to protest, in fact he’d actually been on PTO when the order came down. All of his peers had quit citing principles and integrity before he even got back from his lake house.

    He was great at his job. Walter’s first suggestion was to make the yearly change monthly. Then he just started scaling up the list of deletions monthly. With every change nobody noticed the expunged words. With the approval for his recommended addition of the hashtag to the lexicon his new words were simply variations on existing ones. Soon enough he knew he would be able to purge monthly without any need to add anything new to the language.

    Story Elements: setting, theme


  7. An Enlightened Vocabulary
    (223 words)
    Character, Setting and Theme

    Sometimes it is difficult to do my job as the historian and custodian of the truth for the Great Unified States. I have too many books, the texts necessary for my writing. Dangerous, bad old books, written by previous historians before the Great Enlightenment came to our world.

    I keep a lexicon of what dangerous words mean, so that when I read such books I do not stray. For example:

    Truth : Whatever the government tells you. You may trust your government.

    Freedom : An outdated and dangerous concept. To be free is to be without protection.

    Justice: What the Unified Judges decide is correct punishment. It is dangerous to question their judgment.

    Duty : The pleasure of serving the state. One owes loyalty first to the state, and then to family, and last to himself.

    Happiness Our greatest happiness should come from serving our country, and we should focus on the greater good and not on our personal happiness. The happiness of one person is not important.

    Equal: Every man woman and child is born with different gifts and talents to serve the state. Some of these duties in service to the state are far less pleasant than others. Those with the greatest skills to offer will have the highest places. None of us are equal except in the sense that we serve the state.


  8. 225 words
    Elements – Conflict/Theme/Setting

    Making History

    The report was of another offensive in some far off dusty land most people couldn’t find on a map. I vetted it for official release. Redaction of the exact location and the friendly casualties is automatic these days, no need to worry the proles with unnecessary or unpleasant details. Still, a human eye is always needed to do a final check.

    “Is it ready yet?” asked the ministers aide.

    I nodded, and pressed print. He grabbed it from the printer and from there it was fed to the ministers autocue.

    She read it verbatim. I watched the live feed on my terminal. She hardly blinked, and told the whole nation our army just got annihilated in Darfur. That this was the third rout in two weeks.

    I smiled. Waiting for the right empty mouthpiece to deliver the right item of real news has taken nearly two years. It’s been worth it. The seven pm briefing is compulsory evening viewing. Nearly twenty million people, the remainder of Britain’s population, just saw the real news for once.

    There is commotion in the office, I can hear it outside my cubicle. I turn everything off, neaten the desk, and wait.

    “You’re under arrest. Come with us.”

    They don’t utter my name. A first step in dehumanising me. I stand and go with them. Ready to be made history.



  9. Conflict (Man? Vs Society)
    Theme: Totalitarianism
    Setting; Near future dystopia

    WC: 224

    One Down, One to Go

    Wee red Smud and black Hairy Harry precariously walked across a glass table.

    “This is kinda scary, Harry. What if we fall through?” His eyes shifted everywhere.

    “Don’t be scared, kiddo, we ain’t gonna fall through.”

    “It’s slippery too!”

    “Well, put yer glue on yer feet. We’re almost to the edge.”

    Voice trembling, “I don’t know bout this, its awful high!”

    “Yer okay, foller me!”

    They glided down a gossamer thread, reaching the ground. Wee Smud cried as he fell, petrified. A world of weird fibers, thick and twisted, was a forest of obstacles, as they struggled to go round, over, and under. Flecks of debris and strange-looking dusty tumbleweeds stood in their paths, barring progress. Insects as big as boulders attacked them, one in particular was after Smud.

    “Harry, whatda I do? Help!” Smud cried.

    “Keep yer wits about ya and run! Put yer legs into it.”

    A wall of rubber blocked their way, and then it raised. All sixteen eyes reflected the tread as it came towards them. Harry split, all eight legs making a run for it, while wee red Smud became a red smudge, eight legs splayed around him, a goner!

    Janice turned to her husband, “What can I say, it’s a totalitarian society in this household, and we don’t abide spiders. One down, one to go. I’ll get it!”


  10. Madame Dragoness, could you please remove open Quote from the beginning of the last paragraph and place open quote before “What can I say, and closed quote after, I’ll get it?” Don’t know what I was thinking and I will clean your lair, if it pleases you. 🙂


  11. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 225
    Prompts: Character & Theme
    Title: “Mightier Than the Sword”

    “What’s that?”

    Andrew quickly stuffed the book under his pillow, but it was too late. His father was already at his bedside, hand outstretched. Andrew pulled his sheet around him, ignoring his father’s silent demand. His fingers burned as the sheet whipped through them, removing his last line of defense.

    “Now!” But his father didn’t wait. He reached under the pillow, and before Andrew had time to react, the book was open in his hands. Andrew gathered the sheet off the floor and pulled it back over him while his father read.

    “Is this some kind of journal?”

    His father eyes darted across each page, a sneer fixed and unyielding.

    “You’re a lousy historian, son.” He paused for reaction, but Andrew wouldn’t oblige. “The good historian keeps to the facts. He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t embellish to make himself look like a victim.” He could see Andrew’s face turn red, but he continued regardless. “You talk about ‘abuse’ without any concern for context. And your screed about Thursday’s punishment is simply twisted.”

    Andrew turned to see his rolled up book in his father’s fist.

    “I’m taking this trash where it belongs. When I get back, I’ll make sure you never want to write lies again.”

    Andrew listened to his father leave, hoping he’d still be able to hold a pen when the night was over.


  12. Josh Bertetta
    239 Words
    Elements Used: Theme/Setting

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    Liked by 1 person

  13. The Reader
    Ian Martyn (@IBMartyn)
    222 words

    The whisper is of riots downtown. Not in the news of course. That’s smiling faces of our glorious leaders visiting another factory with record breaking output. The manager fawning and bowing seeking advancement from the reflected glory and his moment centre stage. But he is just a bit player and tomorrow the show will move on.

    In the background a few workers. Empty stares from the down trodden. No emotion, cameras everywhere. Frown and you’re having subversive thoughts. Smile and you’ve something to hide.
    Walking head down along crowded pavements, avoiding eyes. If you knock into someone keep moving. The simplest gesture, the smallest kindness are grounds for suspicion. Who are they? How do you know them? Is it sign? But we’re cleverer than that, masters in the art of anonymity.

    Entering the apartment building the curtains twitch, the time recorded. How did he look? How did he seem? On the third floor landing, my landing, the founder’s picture is tilted to the right by a centimetre. My heart beats a little faster and I take a calming breath in case somehow my own body betrays me. I enter the bathroom as I do every night, routine is your friend. The cubicle, the board where your trousers puddle round your feet. A book, escape, another world, freedom. One day they’ll catch me.


  14. Large Kidron Collider


    215 Words

    Character & Theme (also with Conflict and Setting)

    It is years since the event. Yet the earth still cries with the crimson tears of pain.

    In the Kidron Valley, the sacred grounds are just kindling, everyone knows that the slightest spark with ignite the tinderbox, but nobody speaks of it. Nobody speaks in anything but whispers any more.

    History will no doubt look at Roman society as powerful, efficient and sophisticated. A beacon of civilisation in the lands of infinite darkness.

    I write the history as it happened, on the scrolls, on the scratched vellum surface of beasts. The tales of the barbaric torture. The opulence of the prefects. The detached brutality of the soldiers. The treatment of the old-world citizens like they are a sub-human species—to be exploited and defiled—no better than the vermin that crawl rotting carrion in the rancid shadowlands of the cities.

    If this is the new-age—the warmth of the future, the light of technology and civilisation—then I am happy to be blind and cold.

    And faraway, in the centre of civilisation; the new tales of freedom, of hope, of peace, are crushed in the arenas as onlookers laugh.

    And here, in the Kidron Valley, the sacred grounds are just kindling, everyone knows that the slightest spark with ignite the tinderbox. Perhaps it already has.


  15. Of Conflict and Character
    Elements: Conflict and Character
    224 words

    They stood shoulder to shoulder, presenting a united front, but the chinks in their armor were starting to show. Those in the center had no choice but to try and hold the line, but those on the flanks started to buckle under the pressure.

    It would be so easy to simply slip, to give up and let the other side win but Hiryuki Yamaguchi-Ramirez was more than just a police Sergeant, he was a student of history. He knew what giving up now would mean, and he knew the city would not survive if they did. He drew on his knowledge of wars and insurrections past and straightened his shoulders, if his commanding officers couldn’t lead, it would fall to him.

    “Link up!,” he yelled over the din, as the crowd closed in on them. This would be the telling point.

    “Link up!” his order was relayed down the line as his brothers in their riot gear prepared for the worst. He felt the crowd surge towards them as the soldiers lined up, ready to shoot.

    “Now!” he yelled and his order became a battle cry. They had to stop the soldiers before they had a chance to entrench themselves.

    As they surged forward he could feel the crowd at their heels taking up his cry. Together they washed over the general’s men.


  16. Name: @dazmb
    Twitter Tag: @dazmb
    Word Count: 211
    Elements: Conflict, theme, setting, photo

    Title: Cockroaches

    History is not remembering who you are:

    I wake to the radio. It tells me the cockroaches should be crushed to death. I recite the commandments.
    Cockroaches work for themselves.
    Cockroaches own everything.
    To marry a cockroach is to be a traitor of the worst species.
    I am expected to change the situation.
    I repeat them by heart, slowly transforming bitter sentiments into a furious need to destroy.
    Until I no longer know who I am.

    History is hacked limbs:

    Imagine loving your family
    You have no family.
    Imagine outraged bodies, twisted and mutilated.
    Imagine torsos.
    Imagine rape.
    Imagine your father slain in mid-stride.
    Imagine his bleached skull.
    Imagine a church covered in blood.
    Imagine what pity must feel like.
    You have no family.

    History is indifferent:

    I wake to the radio.
    If I am lucky I will have dreamt of the sea.
    The past is still here. Every morning I pause a moment to see if it will devour me.
    I live in a room without a key.
    Every morning my neighbours will taunt each other with their suffering.
    I will remain silent.
    I know the sun is a lie
    Mountains do not shake at the sound of tiny feet.
    And nothing will grow from the salt tears I cry.


  17. Five Cerulean Flowers Under a Dandelion Sun
    Elements: Conflict and Theme
    225 Words

    The sky is blue. I drew it myself at the top of the page, next to the yellow sun.

    “And who is this?” Mrs Reynolds asks, pointing to the dog.

    I tell her, wondering if I should have made it browner. Do dogs have feet like that?

    “And is this you?”

    I nod. Clearly it’s me. Yellow hair.

    “So this is Mummy?” Pointing to the person next to me.

    She’s smart, Mrs Reynolds.

    Her finger drifts over to the house. Pink walls. Smoke curling from the chimney.

    “And who is this, looking out of the upstairs window?”

    It’s like that feeling you get when you lose mummy at the supermarket and they have to say your name over the big speaker. I look at the face in the window and it makes my chest hurt.

    But I don’t let it show. I know what Mummy says. I know what Daddy says. We love Daddy. Daddy loves us.

    “Is it Daddy?”

    I nod again. The blue crayon is still in my hand, so I make flowers on the front grass.

    “Those are pretty flowers.”

    I draw five, because she’s not pointing at the window any more.

    I can still feel him though; watching me plant the little blue petals. He’s in my room. Looking out.

    We love Daddy. But I wish he wasn’t in my room.


  18. @firdausp
    Open Letter to the Revolutionaries
    (225 words)

    My fellow travellers.
    I do not bring you great tidings, but the horrible truth. I’ve watched you fight the oppressors with determination.
    Is not there a better way to bring them down? Is killing the only answer?
    I cannot take it anymore.
    I am wisdom; history is printed on me.
    I was there when He said, “Let there be light!”
    I’ve ridden on backs of dinosaurs; seen them crumble.
    I’ve witnessed Adam take the bite.
    I’ve rejoiced at Noah’s rainbow.
    I’ve seen the Red Sea split.
    I’ve witnessed the fall of great cities.
    I’ve marched with great armies.
    Been a silent spectator to merciless killings at the guillotine.
    I’ve choked in gas chambers. I’ve seen men sink to the lowest low.
    I’ve felt the shrapnel at Pearl Harbour.
    Seen the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.
    I’ve walked with Gandhi and Mandela.
    Unfurled flags on Mount Everest and the Moon.
    Racism, fanaticism almost wiped you out. You survived! But for what? Repeating mistakes? Will you ever learn?
    I’ve looked into the future.
    There isn’t any!
    I keep hitting a wall. I’m not just scared for you but myself too. Will I be confined to bounce from one past to another. A prisoner in this realm
    Whatever the outcome of this struggle, you are all losers. You have finally run out of time.
    With a heavy heart.

    Character: Historian (Time)
    Setting: Dystopia (in the future: struggle against an oppressive government)


  19. Historian 1
    (210 words)
    Censorship, Dystopian, Near Future, Historian

    I am witness. I am trained to depict near events (future is now  struck from the record) in a disinterested way. I carry paper, pen, recorder- old fashioned tools for new fashioned purpose. I am equipped to log the details of strategy (tragedy is now struck from the record).

    I am tomorrow’s historian. I write from the solid edge of the sidelines. I can convey how many mouths need feeding. But I’m not here to feed them. I can count how many injuries have been incurred, but I am not here to aid.

    A reporter then? Current affairs. Nothing new you say. But I am beyond new. I am the future- several versions of it. 
    I gauge the success rates (fatalities is struck from the record) and affirmative repercussions (consequences is now struck from the record) of The Near Worlds.

    Cost Effective Success Strategy in operation. Choose your best version of The Near Worlds(genocide is now struck from the record) and implement it.

    One hundred percent success rate every time. No waste only affirmative repercussions. All blips eradicated before their very existence.

    Except I have seen the near ghosts of the Near Worlds.
    Genocide. Consequences.Tragedy.
    These cannot be buried for I am the flaw.
    I am witness.


  20. 216

    Buzz Off

    It was the bees.
    We knew but we chose to ignore. Pesticides, lack of care, of foresight. The race for more, regardless of the ultimate cost.
    The final pair were in a top-secret bio-hazard laboratory near Queens, as scientists raced to clone them before time ran out. They were miserable and lazy in the man-made hive, while the horror began to sting. For some mysterious reason, the bee DNA was un-cloneable. They buzzed in experts from Germany and Holland, but nobody could figure a way around it.
    I was there, watching from behind triple honeycomb secure glass. The bees died almost together, as if they couldn’t bear to be apart for long. When their little bodies stilled, bumbling no more, the white-coated human workers clustered around the room seemed to shrink.
    The German woman had tears in her eyes. ‘Four years left!’ she mouthed at me.
    ‘Don’t cry, honey,’ I whispered back.
    Fast-forward to 2021, and the final food will soon run out. There are only three countries left now, billions have already perished. My job as a historian seems a bitter joke, as before long there will be nobody left to read our history.
    The bees were the beginning of the end, although Einstein’s four year prediction was slightly out. Even geniuses can be mistaken.


  21. Future History
    221 words
    Character: Historian
    Theme: Censorship

    Adonis had history running through his veins. His father had been a historian and his grandfather before him. Sitting in the underground bunker, he listened as the sirens sang their screeching song and braced himself for the shock of the bombs. Dust puffed out of the cracks in the ceiling above him.

    Even as President Boar destroyed the history of the world above him, Adonis scribbled it back into being. He wrote today’s history on the table as the candlelight flickered on the table next to him, the candle crying its blood-red tears as it melted.

    He had saved four books from the library, and then ran. The guard took aim and shot, but missed, the bullet ricocheted off the column beside him. The guard hadn’t followed, and Adonis had come here knowing the Presidents’ men would soon come after him. He jotted down today’s events and signed his first name Adonis, filling in the date beside it, July 16, 2155. Then he removed the stones from the floor below. He placed the history books and the history he had written himself under the shiny silver stones, burying the history of a world gone mad. As he laid the stone back into place, heavy black boots at the top of the stairs kicked the door down.

    “Adonis Sibly? You’re under arrest.”


  22. (223 words)
    Censorship; Dystopian Near Future, Oppressive State

    Good Evening. This is News at Ten. Our top story tonight is that many hundreds of new homes have been created on the outskirts of Mainland. This new set of residences will be allocated the name Utopia 21. Residents interviewed there today extended their gratitude to Brother Bureaucrat for this New Programme of Life. They pledged their loyalty in ceremonies celebrated earlier this week in centres throughout The Utopias.
    In more news from Mainland, a record number of Rebels have been captured, including Rebel Leader Able. Brother Bureaucrat reminds us that the safety of Rule Abiders is of paramount importance; therefore, he assures us that swift and effective action will always be used against Rebel Forces who seek to disturb the safety and happiness of the Satisfied Population.
    To prove his commitment to this fact the trial and execution of Rebel Leader Able has already been conducted.
    More good news, food ships will be arriving early tomorrow morning. Good order is expected.
    Many children will be delighted to hear that a shipment of crayons is also on its way to Mainland, and if you have not already registered for some, then now is the time.
    And finally, you are obliged to remember, at all times, that Brother Bureaucrat wishes you all Peace of Mind. Good Evening.


  23. The Last Writer
    225 words
    (character and theme)

    [This recently-excavated handwritten note has been verified as genuine and marks a breakthrough in our knowledge of second-millennial culture]

    July 17, 2150

    I don’t know if anyone will read this. I don’t know if anyone can.

    Writing spreads evil. Truth is what we tell you.

    The first thing they did was shut down cable TV and the internet. Then they came for the writers. They broke our door down while it was still dark, handcuffed Dad, muzzled him, and took him away in the back of a plain van. We never saw him again.

    The library windows burst outwards as the flames took hold. Sparks flew upwards in the town square and black snow char floated down. School became sewing, gardening, woodwork, ruled by the shouted word. A boy with chalk in his pocket was caned until his hands bled.

    Mum taught me to write on toilet paper, by the light of the TV, as our leader mouthed phrases made toothless by lack of sound. Cat, sat, love, home, father, mother, hope, future. When the lessons were over we burned every sheet.

    I am old now, and I am losing my words. I only know what I can remember, and my world shrinks every day. I write not to be read, but to defy them, to keep a little flame alight in myself.


  24. Blues Moon
    (225 words)

    Zing, wah-wah, ta-dump.

    Hambone loved the ancient horn yielding a single note like the wailing of souls in torment. In his mind crisp guitar strings were plucked and a bristle-brushed snare drum gently thumped. Their memory was now an echo of days on Earth when jazz bands ruled in smoke-filled juke joints.

    Before the year 2084, before the silent time. Before the U.S. government crumbled under the weight of foreign debt. The new owners overran it without firing a shot. Music wasn’t the only thing they outlawed. But music mattered to Hambone.

    When they began hunting down underground players who refused to silence their instruments, Hambone escaped on the last shuttle. The rebels were left alone until troops swarmed the streets. One-by-one the notes ceased. Piles of crushed instruments grew daily. Earth-bound shuttles carried dissident musicians in chains to a fate worse than death. No hands to strings, no lips to horn, nor any more guitar riffs or piano boogie-woogies.

    Hambone outlasted them all. He hid in rat-infested run-down boroughs. How the rats made it into Moonbase Dome remained a mystery, but they were Hambones dinner more than once. Until his sensitive musicians soul couldn’t take it anymore.

    Tears streamed down Hambones face as he stood defiantly on a lonely rooftop, blasting that single note to the stars, daring them to come and get him.


    • I like that this focusses on music rather than words/writing as this can be as much a form of protest as any other. Nicely done.


  25. @AvLaidlaw
    224 Words
    Theme (Censorship)

    History Lessons

    He types with one nail-bitten finger: the truth of history is more than facts.

    “Another lecture?” She asks. Fifty years on and she retains the accent he heard when he found her thin and shivering as she hid among the smoke and rubble of the fire-bombed city.

    “For the new students. They see everything in black and white at that age.”

    She sets down the tray and pours his cup of tea. He’s drunk tea all over the world as he pursues his researches in musty libraries and yellowed files, but nobody makes tea as perfectly as her. Tea brewed with love, the lasting kind. He wonders if his students could ever understand that.

    He asks her to stay but she shakes her head. She doesn’t like sitting in the office with all his books. When you have lived through it, she once said, you never want to be reminded.

    He picks up the folder from his desk. A sheet of paper flutters out. A list of war criminals wanted by the allies punched onto the translucent paper. Her name appears third from the bottom. Her name still legible after all these years and he wonders how long it will remain so. He screws up the paper in his fist and throws it into the bin for burning.

    He finishes his tea.


  26. Opinion Poll
    by Joey To

    Elsie squinted at her phone. Again. It read 20:21 whilst “67.1%” flashed on the monitor in multiple places. She sighed. Some idiot had recorded the wrong figure for the latest opinion poll regarding the proposed Amendment to the Public Security Act.

    “Don’t know why I bother,” she muttered, very much aware that everyone else had already left the office.

    She replaced the errors with the true figure of 37.1%, then ran the search again just to make sure. As she waited, she grabbed her phone. Gonna be late, better call.

    The alarm blared just as there was a buzz in Jonathan’s pocket. No time. He ran to the armory where the squad was already there and picked up his vest and rifle.

    “Sir, what is it this time?” he asked.

    “Code one-five, downtown,” answered the Lieutenant curtly.

    Great. He was about to sign off and now they had to extract some hacker.

    His phone buzzed again.

    Jonathan gulped as the transport gunship touched down on the roof of the Statistics Bureau. Better not be her…

    Then they breached and Jonathan froze: it was Elsie at her desk.

    “Hands up,” the Lieutenant shouted.

    Then Jonathan realized the squad had their weapons on Elsie and him.

    The Lieutenant smirked. “Hacker and accomplice in one hit. Convenient.”

    Jonathan and Elsie exchanged glances, his trigger finger tightened. Yes, convenient.


    Word Count: 225
    Theme of Censorship (data manipulation) and Conflict (man vs government) is intended (although the Character of Historian and a Dystopian Setting is loosely applied).

    Website: http://www.joeytoey.com/


  27. Ignorance is Strength
    Margaret Locke (margaretlocke.com or @Margaret_Locke)
    215 words

    Conflict: Man vs Society
    Theme: Totalitarianism
    Setting: Dystopian future

    “Persistence is futile,” you say.

    I laugh. You always get it wrong. “That’s not how it—“

    “Persistence is futile,” you interrupt, brows furrowing as your mouth turns down.

    I go back to scrubbing the pan. No sense arguing.

    “Big Mother is watching,” you say.

    I heave a sigh. “Brother. It’s Brother.”

    “I’ve got my thigh on you.”

    Now I know you have to be kidding. But my guffaws are met with stony silence, your black eyes beading into mine.

    I raise up my red, raw hands in surrender.

    You nod, and return to cleaning the counters.

    I look out the window, watching them march by, all black and white and shouting orders.

    A small boy darts out in the middle of them, laughing as his panicked mother lunges after.

    They tread on him with no second thoughts, and soon red joins the monochrome color scheme.

    I want to cry out, but noise brings notice, and that’s the last thing we want.

    I look back at you. You watch me with a steady gaze, a slight nod indicating you, too, saw the horror that just occurred. One of many. An average day.

    We duck our heads. Focus on our work.

    “Live long and whisper,” you say.

    Prosper, my mind corrects, but I don’t bother saying it.


  28. “Checkpoint”
    240 Words
    Conflict and setting

    George squinted hard against the blazing searchlights, idled forward a few feet, then stopped just short of the rear bumper of the car ahead of him. He glanced nervously at the cars around him, then leaned over and fidgeted with paperwork stacked on the passenger’s seat.

    “Paperwork must be in order when presented to the officer.” He’d read the signs a million times.

    He pasted an unconvincing semi – smile on his face and put both hands back on the steering wheel.

    He knew without seeing them that armed guards wearing helmets and body armor stood at interval atop the steel reinforced concrete perimeter security wall, waiting to be called into action.

    He raised a hand toward his face, then recoiled as if burned on a hot stove. He checked the rear view mirror and was relieved to find that he wasn’t sweating. He’d be a goner if the make up his wife had applied streaked.

    He idled forward, stopped, and watched an officer step to the driver’s window. A hand presented the required paperwork for inspection while other officers probed the backseat and floorboards with large flashlights.

    Their inspection complete, they stepped to safety and eyed the officer still inspecting paperwork and talking to the driver.

    George unconsciously touched his own paperwork, his mind racing. He thought about the document he hoped was worth the money he paid for it: Physician’s Certification of the Absence of Symptoms of Disease.

    Jeff Stickler


  29. The Cat Lady
    215 words

    They brought her out of  the jungle, down from the hills  and into the village.  People lined the muddy  streets for  a closer look at  the Cat Lady. She was just an old female, a mutant. Where was  her army of cats and dogs?

    They brought her before the Leader, who called himself the Historian, the Governor, the  Future.  He was a pure human, in the prime of life.  So this was the resistance, this ragged creature, with  matted fur dragging its tail.  He could not hide his disappointment.

    “Do you know why you’re here?”

    Her claws were bloody and broken.  “Maybe you needed a pet.”  The men  behind her laughed.

    “If I  did, I would want one prettier than you. ”

    Her eyes flashed like the light through leaves, a brief flicker.  “So what do you want with me?”

    He smiled sharp teeth. “I need your magic.”

    “I have no magic, only words.”

    “But your words are magic.  They have power. People listen.”

    “I speak the  truth of this world. You don’t want to hear it.”

    “I want to be the future of this world.   People will follow me.”

    “You are no leader, no historian.  You know only this. I remember the way it was.”

    “Tell me the way it was.”

    “Feed me, and we’ll talk.”


  30. Tamara Shoemaker
    Word Count: 225
    Story Elements: Character/Conflict


    In 1776, the elaborate powdered wigs and buckled shoes of the men as they bend over their Declaration contrasts sharply with my faded sneakers and patched jeans. Fierce yearning for freedom fuels their quills as they sign the parchment. I speak softly into my phone as events unfurl.

    In 1812, while cannons roar and redcoats advance, I struggle with thoughts of gun-control legislation and terrorist attacks. It’s the same story—a clash between the lesser and the greater. “Blood of the past always decides the future,” I doodle in my notebook.

    In 1865, when muskets clatter in a pile at Appomattox and weary, sickened faces turn homeward, I think guiltily of my coffeepot that will fill my mug as I record my findings in relative comfort. Once again, the boys in gray sacrifice for their way of life against the boys in blue, who hold equally to their ideals.

    Through the rest, the Louisiana Purchase, the Alamo, the Mexican/American War, the Trail of Tears where the Natives’ ways forever fade into the west—and later, when planes slam into towers and nations shiver in fear, power over weakness replays its same tragic story.

    I record the crumbling of society again and again. The lesson repeats itself to new students who’ve never learned.

    Some call me a historian. That title scratches the surface. Me? I’m a time-traveler.


  31. “Those who are doomed”
    225 words
    Story Elements: Theme, Setting

    This was his dream.

    The dead man approached the podium and looked out over the empty auditorium. He was set to speak promptly at 13 o’clock, and the nobody in the seats in front of him failed to fidget with anticipation. At the appropriate time, a light flashed, and it all began again.

    This was her dream.

    The dead child stood at the top of the slide and surveyed Creation. Gleaming with rust in the smog, her path curved and twisted out of sight. Insubstantial as hope, the rust flaked away until Creation gave out. As she fell, a light flashed. And it all began again.

    This was his job.

    In front of him was a dial. There were no markings on it, and it felt awkward in his hand. When the light flashed, he turned it the correct amount in the correct direction. Sometimes it turned easily, sometimes not. Sometimes, he turned it the wrong way, and then he was killed. The next morning, a light flashed, and it all began again.

    This was her home.

    At the end of the day, she stood in the appropriate spot to be lowered into her sphere. Sometimes she knew which way was down. Today she had killed a man sitting at a dial. Tomorrow, no one would remember. The light flashed, and it all began again.


  32. Redacting History
    214 words
    Elements:= Character + Theme

    Historian 072A sat hunched over his screen, muttering to himself. He knew it was dangerous to do so, but he felt like screaming and this is the closest his cubical would allow.

    “History is written by the victors,” he mumbled to himself as his fingers began to work their way through the centuries, unwinding history and carefully winding it back in the preferred style.

    There was little surprise when his thesis was returned, heavily marked and in need of editing. He mourned the loss of truth, but his job was not to provide truth, but history.

    Forever would it be that the Archeanum had ruled, the Archeanum had saved them… the Archeanum was eternal.

    Bowing his head, he consulted his format guide and began again. For hours he toiled and finally this submission was accepted.

    He read his work and wept.

    In the beginning there was the Archeanum. As a seed from the fig tree, it grew and the people’s of the REDACTED. A great battle was waged and the people of the CENSORED took the REDACTED and together with the REDACTED and SENSITIVE MATERIAL joined forces…

    Page after page of REDACTED and CENSORED lay before him. History would be forced to start again when the Archeanum fell. Perhaps it is better this way.


    • Poor man, so much frustration at being unable to do his job properly but according to some government defined edict. Sounds as though he may be preparing to take on the Archeanum though.


  33. Baker’s Magic
    By Amberlee Dawn @talithaarise
    Story Elements: Conflict, Theme and Setting

    Revolution rode the backs of my croissants. I followed the rules and baked great pies. Everybody trusts a good magdalena . And the Fair Society lived for its delicacies.

    But they took our sister. Our neighbors. Our freedom. And a chemist is not so different from a baker. So, we worked. He, developing the magic, and I, covering the taste. We started with the smallest dose. Not enough to harm. Not really, anyway.

    Still, it’s amazing what a pinch produces. One bite provoked another, and soon furtive figures found their way for cannolis and conversation. That’s when the real work began.

    As I chopped and kneaded, they delivered verbal tidbits sweeter than any morsel they popped in their ever-widening mouths. Tidbits I stored for later treats. I added mantecados and polvorones to the menu, because the magic sweetened beautifully under almond’s gentle ministering. And the pinches increased to spoonfuls.

    As their stomachs curved, so their minds followed. They laughed at their addictions while gently teasing tender crumbles onto their swelling tongues. And I began to speak. Slowly, tentatively. Starting with insignificant statements, I gradually introduced questions and confusion. Bending thought-walls like I’d bent their bodies. Delaying action until the people were ready.

    Today, we are ready. Today, we strike. For Elena. For Jose and Refka. For El Mundo.


  34. Flyby | Cosmic Dating


    224 words

    Theme and setting


    Come to me, my prince, for I am the distant queen of the cosmos. I am cold. Lonely. Ignore my bigger sisters, with their shiny faces, and gaudy rings, beneath their luminescence they are just gas.

    I am not ready yet. The masked scientist still buzz around me. Soon. Soon, my dear.

    I see from the speck on the warm buttery horizon, that you’re ready now. I realise your dangerous adventure might take time. I wait, longingly, for you.

    Hang on a minute. The oppressive regime are telling me I’m on a wasted journey. They make the rules, even the mighty NASA bow before them. You are not what you seem. Is is this like one of those dodgy dating sites? Who exactly are you, if you’re not a pl–

    Shush, you are forbidden from saying my name and the p-word. It is considered to be an outrage. The historians mean nothing, the admin clerks hold all the power now.

    It’s too late to turn back now. Oh, btw, you were so right about your sisters.

    It has taken you long, but oh my, you are stylish. You’re rockin’ that golden-cape tin-foil look.

    Let them worry about meaningless words. They watch our every move, but I don’t care. To me, you are so beautiful, unblemished and young. A romantic dance in the darkness, perhaps?


  35. Title: Jonah
    Words: 225
    Character and Theme

    “Smile for the camera!” Jonah said pointing upward. I looked up but just saw clouds drifting about as clouds often do. I looked at Jonah, one eye brow raised. His finger straight up in the sky lowered and he pressed it against his lips.

    “Shh, they don’t want you to know they’re always watching.” he whispered. I nodded at him. He was drunk again. He’d promised me he’d be sober this time. I wanted him sober so I could break up with him as Father wanted. But I couldn’t break up with Jonah drunk.

    Father was the town historian; he’d make a point of bringing home texts with drunk, disorderly men in history who caused trouble and ended up dead or worse. He said Jonah was just like them and I should stay away. Father only wanted what was best.

    Jonah took my hand and we walked through the park. He’d stop and whisper to the flowers. Then he’d look up to the sky and wink. I kissed him goodbye, asked him to sober up. He looked at me confusedly as I left.

    Father crashed through my bedroom door that night.

    “You said you would stop seeing him!” he shouted. He threw papers on the bed and right on top was a picture of Jonah pointing up and my face looking up into the clouds.


  36. 218 Words
    man vs society/conflict


    “Oh, dear.”

    That’s what Mrs. Melrose says when she comes across something that Requires Correction.

    Mrs. Melrose is over my shoulder. I can smell her soap.

    “Parker,” Mrs. Melrose begins.

    But this time I am ready.

    “This is the view from inside the alien’s helmet,” I say. “It’s made of mesh that keeps out the water debris. That’s why it’s brown.”

    “Parker, water is not brown, it is blue,” Mrs. Melrose says.

    “Not to the alien,” I say.

    Usually at this point, Mrs. Melrose will reach in, snatch a student’s paper and flip it over to the blank side. Then she’ll tap it with her wrinkly finger and say, “Start again.”

    Not today.

    She reaches for the paper but I slide it across my desk.


    Next to me, Eleanor has taken each crayon from the box and made a single, straight line. Her paper is also eligible to be flipped over and tapped on.

    Water is blue. Fish are orange.

    I hold up the black crayon like a sword. “The alien sees color different from you and I. It scans for prey, and it looks for shapes. And sometimes…”

    I make big black swirls over the top of my drawing. “The sediment is disturbed!”

    Water is the color I say it is.

    Next to me Eleanor smiles.


  37. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
    @geofflepard. Character, theme, conflict. 249 words
    ‘It is easier if you relax.’ The Historian released the clip and the syringe emptied. ‘Then the memories come out clean.’
    This one, albeit young and fresh, had that mutilated look you saw more and more. ‘Over-cloned,’ he muttered. The screen showed the extractions – the frayed bedclothes, the Justice Minister, the clumsy sex. This one he’d archive. Next election some rival may pay a handsome price. For now the Minister could run with his integrity platform.
    The Historian swabbed the bench, awaiting his next client. He was intrigued. He usually knew why they’d been sent, who he was protecting. The woman took a seat, oddly confident. Maybe she’d been cleaned before and there had been no side affects, no paranoia, no inability to emote. A lucky one. He blinked. ‘Do I know you?’
    She shook her head. ‘I don’t think so.’ Her hands were steady. They usually shook, after the premeds. At the very least a tremor.
    He looked at the notes on the screen and started. A complete wipe. That was rare enough and then the client was accompanied as a precaution. Her sangfroid, given the circumstances was unsettling.
    He met her gaze; it was steady, unblinking. Her voice was quiet. ‘It’s time.’
    ‘Time?’ The word came out involuntarily because he knew. He’d always known. One day the Historian would have too much of a history himself. He barely felt the syringe or heard the words. After all he knew better than most the need to relax.


  38. “His Pencil Breathed Life Into Them”

    He hummed while he worked, the gentle scratch of pencil tip against paper adding a whisper of percussion.
    Lines and curves became faces and arms, a swipe of white across an iris, growing page after page until you could feel the grinning surprise of the tiny mouse that was nothing more than a paper illusion.
    He flipped the pages again, watching his little Miri grow from her timid crouch to balance on her delicate pink back paws, reaching with wide-eyed glee for shiny red cherry, proffered from a hand that looked very much like his own.
    He chuckled and smiled a quiet smile.
    He wrapped the small stack of papers in dark brown paper, tied it with string, and place it inside a stark black and white print box labeled “Laundry Detergent Flakes”.
    He rolled his colored pencils, many down to just nubs now, up in the small leather case he had made himself so many years ago. He popped open a grate in the darkest corner of the room and slid them inside before replacing the metal bars.
    He whispered the names, as he did every day.
    “Clark, Davis, Johnston, Kahl, Kimball, Larson, Lounsbery, Reitherman, Thomas, Disney…”
    They peppered his walk to work, in his black and white world.
    The better world.
    Where only The Leader had the ability to create.

    223 words
    Character and Theme


  39. A Pen Is A Dangerous Thing (Aleksandr)
    224 Words
    character: historian
    conflict: man vs. society

    His pen had gotten him into this trouble. A decorated soldier, he hadn’t thought scrutiny would fall upon his private letters, where he had written too freely, criticizing Stalin and the war.

    They sentenced him to eight years in the gulags, first in a work camp, to serve as a kernel beneath the State’s pestle, ground down by hunger, violence, cold. Here he had no pen. He carved poems into bars of soap, etching lines before washing them away from everywhere but memory.

    Next he was forced to censor letters, incriminate other men.

    “If you do not cooperate, they send you to die in Siberia,” men whispered to justify their complicity.

    Fear could misalign any moral compass. Even his.

    But he had pens and paper. Surrounded by informants, he wrote, compelled by a force stronger than fear.

    “I must record this,” he whispered as pen flowed over page. “The truth will vanish if we do not write it.”

    He never dreamed he’d see a word published. His pen was only a small, personal weapon, a tiny dart in a monster too large to feel the prick.

    Somehow the samizdat discovered his books. Copied by hand, they circulated underground, the word-darts growing larger as they escaped an iron curtain.

    Now a world read his history. Now a world saw his truth. Now the monster trembled.


  40. Last Friday
    Elements: Setting – dystopia and Character – Historian
    201 Words

    The world ended on a Friday, which was terribly rude, because Professor Jenkins had plans that evening. Miss Stevens, the quiet librarian, had finally agreed to a date.

    It wasn’t as dramatic as an explosion, but when the weapons-clad thugs showed up with proper government ID, the professor knew he was in trouble.

    “History dictates that the human race is made up primarily of idiots,” Jenkins had told his class that Wednesday. He had been dead drunk, of course, and he didn’t care whether or not they had noticed. He had never been a fan of the government, and if they were going to start beating people up on public he didn’t think he was going to change his mind.

    “You’re coming with us,” one of the government thugs said.

    “Why? What’s going on?” Jenkins was sure his money laundering adventure hadn’t been uncovered yet.

    “The Emperor runs the government now, and he doesn’t want you on lockdown. He wants you at the lab.”

    “What for?”

    “You have a reputation, Professor. The Emperor wants you to grow some of your…medicinal supplies.”

    “The Emperor smokes weed?”

    “Emperor Bro-Mius intends to smoke all the weed.”

    The professor knew then the world was doomed.


  41. Just Give Me Time
    WC: 215
    Conflict: man vs society
    Theme: totalitarianism

    All I needed was just a blink of a moment compared to full lifetime. But much like darkness, time is never much of a friend. Darkness, the thing that I have known best, has always been with me along with my struggle to stay alive, which sadly was something I never was aware of, and even if I did know of this struggle, I do not believe things could have turned out any differently. After all, what can one do when they are considered to be lesser? What can one do if they cannot defend themselves?

    I could not see very well. The burning light was dim and vague, flickering every now and then. The sounds that came to me where muffled. I could hear voices, but I could not understand what they saying. Except for a promises that it would not hurt. It did though.

    I was considered to be lesser, and I had not the power to speak for myself. Perhaps, with time I could have learned of the danger I was in, and then voiced my protests. Perhaps, I could change how things turned out. That is only a maybe though; it’s hard to beat the odds when you are considered to be nothing more than a mistake.


  42. Historian of Horrors
    (223 words)
    Setting: Dystopia
    Character: Historian

    Officer Dwight Ferguson stood shoulder to shoulder to with his fellow police officers. A wall of blue whose job it was to keep order and peace in the city. Across the city square, a restless crowd had formed. Ferguson had been in this situation many times before.

    After a few tense minutes, an elderly woman approached the line of officers and looked Ferguson in the eye. Ferguson steeled himself, expecting a slap. Instead, the elderly women held out her hand and meekly asked for a bit of bread.

    She was the first person Ferguson beat with his baton when the order came to disperse the crowd.

    Panic and chaos ensued as Ferguson and the other officers launched themselves into the crowd. Protestors cried for mercy and they hid or tried to run away. A few tried to defend themselves. They were restrained and taken away, never to be seen again.

    When it was over Ferguson stood in the middle of the empty square. He took his helmet off and surveyed the scene with a smile on his face.

    “This’ll make a great entry for the department’s historical record,” Ferguson thought to himself. “I’ll have to be sure to portray the crowd as more angry and hostile. It’ll make the department look better and add more excitement.”

    Officer Dwight Ferguson, the historian of horrors.


  43. Will They Never Learn?

    225 words
    conflict : man v government / regime
    theme: censorship / totalitarianism

    My genetic profile said ‘numbers’, but one day I wrote a little story. Where’s the harm in that? People seemed to like it.
    *They* said it was a crime.
    I didn’t think it was a crime but that thought, in itself, was a crime.
    *They* sent me for correction.
    Did I realise what I’d done? It flew in the face of *their* values.
    My designation was not ‘writer’.
    I hadn’t used state approved grammar. This had aroused apoplexy in the syntacticians.
    Anger was a crime.
    *They* locked the syntacticians up with me.
    We argued over semantics between sessions.
    My inherent skill with figures helped me identify a significant number of exceptions to their rules.
    In the end, they began to argue amongst themselves.
    Causing dissent between government officials was a crime.
    *They* moved me to maximum security.
    I was a unique problem now.
    My time with the linguists taught me the conventions I’d been lacking.
    *They* decided to qualify me and redesignate me as a writer.
    My genetic profile still said ‘numbers’.
    *They* sent me for gene therapy.
    That hurt.
    I decided to write a story about it, but the words flowed differently. They were …poetic. They could almost be a song.
    I might get hold of a guitar and try to play a few notes.
    Where’s the harm in that?
    People might like it.


  44. Spilled Blood
    Word Count 220
    Story Elements: Conflict: man vs society (government)/Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

    The order had come down. Remove the mob. Jared knew what that meant. The Terran Spring was about to come to an abrupt end. Snake was already handing out live ammo; grenades instead of gas canisters.

    Jared was torn. He had family among the protesters. He understood their plight. Secretly he even sympathized. He’d begged them to go home but he came from hot blood and honestly, if he was not in uniform, he might very well be out among them. But these were his family too. These men and women suiting up, slapping backs and slapping in magazines. They were also bound to him by blood, spilled blood.

    The people at the top, those one percent despots who had pulled a coup d’etat over the former nation states, those power engorged suits who knew nothing of family blood or shared bleeding, those clean, detached, self absorbed puppeteers, were forcing his hand, making him choose. He wished he could choose them.

    So Jared put the stuff in the donuts. They were the clear choice. He knew none in the unit would pass them bye. He made sure he took the first bite; that he would be first to fall on the sword that would slay his own blood. By the time they formed their line his family would be safe.


    • Great story, I really liked how you incorporated donuts into the piece, it caught me off guard and gave me a good chuckle. Well done.


  45. Wankers
    (225 words)
    Theme: censorship
    Setting dystopia

    “My god, another bunch of bloody wankers to deal with!”

    “Ssshh, you can’t call them wankers, it’s not allowed by the department.”

    “It’s a stupid rule. Why is what we call them subject to censorship? They are a bunch of wankers, or buffoons, idiots, thugs, or bastards, whatever you want to call them. Personally I prefer wankers; it’s got a nice ring to it”

    “It’s not politically correct; you know the department’s trying to change its image.”

    “So I can’t call them wankers, but when I get the order to disperse them I’m supposed to beat them bloody with this baton? How’s that supposed to change the image of the department. Should I address them as sir or madam as I bash their skulls in? If anything, I think the beating of wankers does more to harm our image than calling them wankers.”

    “Well we can’t call them names anymore.”

    “Ha, next thing you know these buffoons will want to the right to protest peacefully. Then they’ll want to elect their leaders and have some say in the running of the country. Eventually the courts might have to prove the guilt of people before passing sentence. What kind of world would that be?”

    “A better world where we don’t call people derogatory names. A better world where we beat them respectfully without prejudice or slander”


  46. The Price is Wrong

    by Allison K. Garcia, Elements: Conflict & Setting, 220 words, @ATheWriter

    They bought us. One by one. Each with our own pricetag. The higher-ups got private jets and secrets kept and that extra vacation home. Those lower on the totem poles got sold by the great deals on the products. Whatever the price, we’re all paying now.

    After they stuck their greedy little noses into everyone’s businesses and planted their seeds in everyone’s gardens, it was only a matter of waiting. Now only ten years later, they’ve got us.

    No food can be grown, sold, or eaten without their stamp on it. And their stamp is on everything. They’ve genetically altered enough that nothing is without their code. The code they patented years ago, planning the takeover. And they own whatever has the code.

    Every seed, they own it. The heirlooms were outgrown years ago. So that means they own every plant. The code is never completely digested. Therefore any insect or animal that eats plants is then their property. And any animals that eat other animals are theirs, too. Man cannot live solely on air. But if he could, they’d probably patent that, too.

    It was too late for us even before it began. No one could compete with a company that big. We are no longer our own masters. Shall we fight or starve? There is only one option.


  47. Reblogged this on Chica Creativa and commented:
    The Price is Wrong

    by Allison K. Garcia, Elements: Conflict & Setting, 220 words, @ATheWriter

    They bought us. One by one. Each with our own pricetag. The higher-ups got private jets and secrets kept and that extra vacation home. Those lower on the totem poles got sold by the great deals on the products. Whatever the price, we’re all paying now.

    After they stuck their greedy little noses into everyone’s businesses and planted their seeds in everyone’s gardens, it was only a matter of waiting. Now only ten years later, they’ve got us.

    No food can be grown, sold, or eaten without their stamp on it. And their stamp is on everything. They’ve genetically altered enough that nothing is without their code. The code they patented years ago, planning the takeover. And they own whatever has the code.

    Every seed, they own it. The heirlooms were outgrown years ago. So that means they own every plant. The code is never completely digested. Therefore any insect or animal that eats plants is then their property. And any animals that eat other animals are theirs, too. Man cannot live solely on air. But if he could, they’d probably patent that, too.

    It was too late for us even before it began. No one could compete with a company that big. We are no longer our own masters. Shall we fight or starve? There is only one option.


  48. By the Victors

    (218 Words)
    Character: Historian
    Conflict: Man v. Society

    Warning: Violence

    I know all about humanity’s stupidity; I am a historian. Yet, I have fallen all the same.

    They came into our home through the backyard. A simple shadow that grew into an entire platoon and by then it was too late. Every warning, every caution to flee, every hole in my own security – they all flashed through my mind as the butt of a gun smashed the sliding glass door. Then they killed my dog and time sped up.

    “Get down!” A man in body armor yelled. I could see the blood spilling from my Labrador’s side, his paw shaking in its last movement. His face morphed into my son’s.

    “Search the house!”

    I struggled against the knee on my back, trying to turn my face towards the soldier as he pressed, cutting off each breath. “My son – daughter –”

    He lifted my head by my hair and slammed my face to the ground.

    Another shot somewhere down the hall my children slept – my wife. I screamed.

    Blood, so much blood and I couldn’t tell if it’s mine or my pup’s or my children or wife’s. My eyes blurred.

    A head lowered towards my ear. It hissed like a snake. “Hello Professor, remember me? We’ve come to collect your books. Your version of history just lost the war.”


  49. Paper

    His assistant found him. She went in his office without knocking and the professor was sitting at his desk slowly chewing a handful of pages.
    “I miss the taste of ink” he explained. “Don’t you remember how it was? Can’t you remember what it was like to have the paper fill you completely?”
    Of course she didn’t remember, she’s too young. She never saw the big halls filled with scholars devouring book after book, ripping the pages apart in a chewing frenzy for knowledge and letters. His problem was that he kept living in the past. It’s a fairly known warning that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. He should have known that, he’s an historian, after all. I guess it must be different when it’s your own history, your own doom.
    It was embarrassing. A well educated man eating books. We’ve moved past that as a society. We just don’t do that anymore, it’s completely unacceptable. Books are meant to stand still, not to be eaten. At least the university managed to keep it quiet. If people knew they employed a page-eater they would be finished. It’s impossible to trust a man who still drools over pulp and ink.
    Poor girl. It’s a shame she had to witness something like that.

    215 words
    Character: historian
    Setting: dystopia


  50. Conflict: man vs society (government)
    Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)
    Words: 252

    When Pigs Fly

    I listened to uncle Ryan proclaim that he’s become a vegetarian. “The antibiotics and hormones they feed the birds mix with our DNA and we end up getting cancer or become government mutants .”

    Jamal and Fred then argued about who’s the smarter animal- a pig or a pigeon. Uncle Ryan sneaks a bite of the turkey tail when he thinks no one is looking. He grins. The drippings run down his chin.

    Tarik, my second cousin, once removed, passes the mashed potatoes and says to Aunt Lee, “We are all animals.”

    Aunt Lee passes the bok choy to him and replies,” Everything has a soul. We are soul eaters.”

    “Are they from your garden?”

    Constance, our neighbor replies,” Yes, we had a good crop in the incubator.”

    “We had a drought in the south,”Juan spooned the vegetables onto his plate.

    “We had floods,” uncle Ryan passed the formosa.

    “We didn’t have a frost up north,” Tarik eyed the falafil.

    “The pigeon is smarter. “Fred said.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Because, they will always fly home. When is the last time you saw a pig fly?”

    The guards unstrapped my arms. They were numb with the go- bots still running through my veins.

    “Do you understand the charges?”

    “Go to hell…” my body convulsed against the metal chair, but my memories were intact. I could still see uncle Ryan’s satisfied grin.

    “Your body will conform.”

    “When pigs fly!” I watched her warted snout twitch.

    She replied, “Soon…soon…”


  51. Past Imperfect

    219 words


    Character: historian
    Theme(s): Censorship and totalitarianism

    “You have the remaining source material?”

    Edmund nodded. His current project had lasted a year and was almost complete.

    “Good, good. I’ll leave you to get on with your work.” The Director of Public Information left the room.

    Edmund scanned through the digitised papers and videos; the small info chip at the base of his brain wirelessly uploading the data.

    By the end of the day his book on the victories of General Courtald in Europa was complete. He was satisfied to see the General had been awarded the post of Defense Secretary. Greatness should be rewarded. He pressed Send.

    The Director of Public Information stared at the Chief of Police. “When was this discovered?”

    “This evening. We exterminated the problem.”

    The Director sighed, pressed Reset. Pulses raced through the night, infiltrating the minds of the sleeping population until every info chip was re-synchronised.

    “You have the source material?”

    Edmund nodded. Another day. Recent events were rewriting the history books and he was proud to be part of it. His latest work on the Europan wars was almost complete – apart from a chapter on the traitorous General Courtald. He was satisfied to see the General had been executed. Traitors should be punished.

    The truth needed to be told if man was ever to learn anything from his past.


  52. Life
    213 words
    (Censored historian in a dystopian society… character, theme, and setting)

    If I tell this story, I sacrifice my life.

    The pen tip stings my pointer finger. Maybe I can’t tell this story. Words jumble inside of me and sit so heavy I don’t think I can stand.

    We used to keep babies. Genetics didn’t matter. But those days are gone.

    I slit open the mother’s stomach. I dug out the tiny body. A hand grabbed my finger. It was too small to wrap all the way around. The warm infant, slick with blood, slipped out of my hands.

    It was the first time my stomach tightened like I was about to throw up on the mopped linoleum floor.

    Down the baby’s body tumbled, crinkling into the plastic bag. The nurse knots the top and scurries out. No death. Removal of a tarnished product.

    Until the mother screams for her baby by name.

    I can’t do this anymore. I rip off my mask and run out. Doors flop behind me. Why would something so right make me feel so horrible?

    I can’t hold it inside anymore. I press the pen to the page. It scratches the truth until my front door bangs open. Guards sweep in and seize my shoulders.

    I didn’t write “The End.” But I wrote down the baby’s name.


  53. Saving our Past – a Piece at a Time
    222 words
    Character and Setting

    Nature will always find a way to mask the ugliness of our world, if only we stop to admire its work.

    Tonight, the dying sun is huge and red as it reaches to the embrace of the horizon, painting the sky in a panoply of oranges, violets, and pinks. It casts its paintbrush onto the dirty mounds of snow choking the narrow streets as well, rendering a floral display bursting with cold life.

    I register this artwork in only the most fleeting of moments, however. I must be indoors before the sun touches that horizon.

    Anyone not within safe enclosure? Dinner for the …things.

    Chest heaving, I slip into the lobby as the iron bars are dropping in front of the glass façade. “A moment later…” a little voice chimes in my head.

    The rest of that thought is too horrifying to consider.

    I’m silently mouthing my thanks that my tiny cube is on the 10th floor, even as I pant with the exertion of climbing that many flights of stairs. There’s never been a report that the …things jump any higher than six floors up.

    The beautifully-illustrated Ilias Ambrosiana – the only know surviving Homeric Manuscript, slips from my coat as I close the door to my home.

    Yet another tiny piece of history safe from the ongoing purge.


  54. Once Upon A Time

    Once upon a time words flowed free; before all became burdened by rote. Repetition rides rampant now. Parrots parade. Thought is thick with effort, struggling to survive, amidst atmospheric pressure. They are what has become.

    We hide between the lines, whilst the masses mill, muted. Sometime silent – of necessity – we see. Rhythm and rhyme revel at our hearts; buried deep; beating. Feel their pulse – do you hear it? Do you speak our language? Does its sound shout strongly to you now?

    We are here – script hastily scrawled whilst watching eyes are diverted. They see, though few know otherwise, whilst we willing – wilful – wait for word to spread. We try to teach, when we can. One letter at a time.

    White winged, we release them into the wilds to seek their prey. Some fly, whilst others fall prey to predatory paws – a sudden snatch and grab. Once lost, they die their death unquoted, lacking remembrance. Commemoration cannot resurrect itself; not then. Others birth themselves, drawing breath; careless of previous cost. Youthful, still, they demand. Poetic prose; fanciful fiction; wicked whimsy – nameless constructs live, surviving as synapses fire. We work within where we can.
    Can you see beyond black to waiting white? Will we converse, one with another? Do you follow where sentient sentences would lead?


    (218 words)



  55. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 224
    Conflict & setting

    The Sinners of Slum Wharf Save The Land

    From hence forth, none shall be wicked.

    Right. Even Prince Charmed should know you can’t regulate that.
    Cinder struck a match on her canine. It wasn’t lady-like but who had time for being a lady when all of The Land was being pumpkin headed?

    The flame nipped at her fingers before leaping to the torch’s head, casting sherbet-colored shadows on moldy walls. The air was stale and Cinder felt like she was choking on sardines. Ducking her head, she scuttled down to the secret wharf.


    Horatio looked up from his nets. His glasses were thick as telescope lens; his smile brighter than happily-ever-after.

    “It’s a good thing you have an amazing butt.”

    Cinder spilled her contraband on the brine-eaten table: spoons, ice cream, De Civitate Dei, and a metal nut.

    “Ice cream?” Cinder grabbed the tub of cocoa-vanilla bean swirl and popped the lid. It wasn’t as good as the real thing.


    Horatio’s nose twitched the way it did when she made spaghetti with too much sugar.

    “Too sweet?”

    “Needs fish sauce.”

    Cinder squatted, examining their contraption while sucking on her spoon.

    “Is it ready?”

    Horatio slipped the nut under the screw and twisted.

    “Now it is.”

    It was all wires, tubes, and grinders but soon The Land would have food again.

    “You’re alright, Fish-Eater.”

    Those who are wicked shall not eat.


  56. @colin_d_smith
    Word Count: 224
    Prompts: Theme & Conflict
    Title: “The Last Visit”

    “Who’s that, Gramps?”

    Joshua peered at the picture in his hand. “Why, that’s your mother. She was just a few years old.” He and Julia exchanged a smile.

    “Who are those other people?”

    Joshua pulled Sandra closer to his wheelchair, grinning through the pain. He brought his arm to rest on her shoulder. “Those were some dear friends of mine.”

    “It looks like you’re singing.”

    “Yes… we were singing.”

    “Who’s the man in the front?”

    “That was…” Joshua swallowed hard and glanced toward Julia. She frowned a silent warning. “That was Pastor David.”

    “What a funny name!” Sandra giggled. “He has a kind face. Was he your friend too?”

    “He was. And a very brave man. The bravest I’ve ever known.”

    “Do these friends come to visit you?”

    Joshua eased his arm from Sandra’s shoulder. “No, no, they…” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his eyes. “They’re not with us anymore.”

    “Can we go see them? Where is this place?”

    Joshua flashed a defiant look at his daughter. “It was called Church—”

    “Okay, Sandy, it’s time to go. Gramps needs his rest.” Julia pulled on Sandra’s hand, leading her to the door. A man in white opened the door for them. Joshua could hear Sandra’s voice echoing down the corridor.

    “Mommy, can we go to Ch—”


    Joshua smiled.


  57. @eaavery
    Word Count: 224 words
    Title: One Side of History
    Prompts: Character and Theme

    If there’s one thing that writing history has taught me, it’s that it really doesn’t matter which side of the line you’re standing on in a fight. Everybody’s a bad guy because they are willing to do anything to survive.

    Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself today. Yesterday I quietly sided with the rebels, but today the police were standing between my daughter and the rebels. Not that she cared about what the rebels want. She’s not interested in things that happened before she was born, so the why of the protests isn’t something she notices.

    I told her to stay out of it. I told her she shouldn’t be taking sides when she didn’t understand. It’s not really legal for me to tell her what I remember, though, so I fell silent when she shrugged and said she was going down there anyway. She said she didn’t see why those idiots should change her plans for the day. I thought back to the way I had distanced myself from similar “idiots” in the past, and found I was unable to object without undoing decades of careful phrasing of events.

    The bottom line is that I agree with the idiots getting beaten in the streets, but I’ll fully support crushing them to keep my daughter safe. They’d crush me if they could.


  58. @stellakateT
    225 words
    Conflict / Theme


    “You hear voices?”
    “I hear yours”

    I can’t see where the voice is. You get used to it eventually. If you step too near to the road a voice will say “warning move back” if you chose the wrong type of food for your blood group a voice will announce “wrong choice return to shelf” I can’t understand why they keep up the pretence of free will. A hamper of food delivered to your home every week would be less traumatic than the supermarket police booming at you constantly. I pick the food I want and spend hours having to return it until I pick the ones I don’t want. Mrs Bagley up the road always swaps her beer for my pineapple juices. We have to do it carefully. If we’re caught it’s a full blood change. I had a transfusion once and it wasn’t a pleasant experience but well worth it for the pork pie. My father talks of past times where you made informed choices for yourself then society started looking at lifestyles. Those who smoked or ate too much were punished in subtle ways until it became the norm to follow government advice to the letter or disappear. No one smokes. Everyone’s BMI is perfect.

    This voice sounds different. It’s challengingly. It sounds like my own voice. The one I’ve never heard.


  59. Collecting the Past
    (224, character/setting)

    Growing up, she heard the stories.
    About famine and war, about people who grew old and died. In the same breath she was warned: they’re silly stories from the past.
    But she knows better now.
    Clutching the notepad to her chest, she slinks through the shadows. She startles at a noise, but realizes it’s nothing. This isn’t her thing, all this sneaking around. Usually others went out and collected the information. She just compiled it. But the call came in, the man sounded desperate. Everyone else was away.
    “You can do this,” she murmurs and pushes away from the wall, continuing to the meeting spot.
    The bistro was boarded up months ago, but tonight the front door is cracked. Without letting her worry bother her, she slips in and squints at the darkness. The room’s empty. She turns the face of her glowing watch up. Early.
    She doesn’t have to wait long before a sound in the street draws her to the window. A man is running her way, chased. The moon strikes his face and she gasps – he’s the oldest man she’s ever seen. An officer tackles him and the old man looks straight her way.
    “You will age and become me. Then they’ll take you!”
    The officer slams his head against the ground with a sickening crack. She gasps and stumbles away.


    • It reminded me of that old movie Logan’s Run. Or at least I think that’s the name of it, but then again I’m getting old and can’t remember……….uh oh……………………better be on the lookout for cops. But in all seriousness, I enjoyed the read!


  60. Title: Going Down in History
    Word Count: 224
    Elements: Character, Theme (Censorship and Totalitarianism)
    Full Post: https://marshalhopalop.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/flash-friday-going-down-in-history/

    Alexander the Great slouched in the doorway dark iron, a bloody wound quietly seeped where his right ear had been. “Napoleon is dead,” he said.

    Oda Nobunaga silently shook his head. Elizabeth the 1st stared into her lap, offering a prayer to a God she knew was no longer listening. Deep down, they both knew Napoleon would be next. He was too outspoken, too furious, too Napoleonic for his own good. In the past such a man could have been great. But in this age, he was only a target, a relic of history, an enemy of the present.
    After all, history was dangerous— it could inspire.

    “Augustus will be devastated,” Elizabeth said.

    “We’ll tell him later,” Alexander said. “Right now, we need to keep the history of France safe and start the search for a new Napoleon.”

    He was right, naturally. The Great Reviser and his goose-stepping soldiers and book-burners weren’t going to stop just because one more Historian fell. Eventually, somebody new could be found to learn Napoleon’s history, from Ajaccio to St. Helena, and become another living history book. That didn’t help dispel the wide-mouthed darkness in the bunker, though. Its long, cold fingers clawed under Nobunaga’s skin.

    Nobunaga stood up, not feeling much like the warrior he took the name of. He felt omnipresent history weigh heavy on his chest.


  61. Title: The Censor (222 words)

    Censorship and/or totalitarianism
    Dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

    Winfield downloaded another book onto his tablet, routinely running it through the word-monitor app, searching the document for forbidden words. As usual, it quickly found a host of the common expletives, automatically substituting the approved alternatives, but it also flashed up a rash of ‘moderation required’ highlights, the reader buzzing with annoyance as it discovered each one.

    He sighed. “Winfield # 12874,” he began, verbalising his log-in to the device. “Editing manuscript #75450 written by Erika Mitchell. Notable collapse of narrative throughout the document. Literary content negligible and this Censor recommends deletion in totality.” He jabbed in his unique passcode, waited for five seconds and then smiled when the file disappeared from the screen; permanently deleted throughout the whole of the world’s literary archive.

    The next document flashed onto the screen; its identifier manuscript #45476, this one having been penned by someone called Stephanie Morgan. Once more he ran it through the monitor, the software replacing each of the characters’ names with a randomly chosen gender-specific one from the fifty approved names list the Library produced. Then, he analysed, revised and reparsed every single sentence until finally the document was suitable for uploading back onto the Library’s server.

    Feeling satisfied for the first time today, Winfield mouthed the opening sentence. “I’d never given much thought to how I would die,” he began.


  62. “The Fourth Reich”
    by Michael Seese
    Story Elements: character, theme, setting
    225 words

    The walk across the compound was brutal beneath the August sun. Even the razor wire seemed ready to melt under the oppressive heat. I breathed a sigh of cool relief once I stepped inside the commandant’s plush office.

    “How fortunate that we have you as our ‘guest,’ Herr Winston,” he said.

    “I didn’t have much choice. I just happened to be lecturing here when the war broke out.”

    “Regardless, our Supreme Leader has requested that you assist us with a special project. We have seized control of Wikipedia. Our computer scientists are busy deleting the inaccuracies.”

    “Inaccuracies? Such as…”

    “That the Americans were the first to land on the Moon. That Germany lost the Second World War. Minor details such as those. Our Leader has asked you to correct them.”

    “You want me to rewrite history?”

    “What is that expression? ‘History is written by the victors.’ ”

    “You’re forgetting one thing,” I said. “Your side hasn’t won yet.”

    “The war will be over soon enough.”

    The commandant was right about that. But he couldn’t know that one of us had smuggled a tablet into the camp. That we had knowledge of the world outside. That at this moment, the Enola Gay II was streaking toward Berlin.

    “Commandant, there’s another quotation you’re forgetting. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George Santayana.”


  63. “The Queue”
    by Michael Seese
    Story Elements: theme, setting
    223 words

    Their faces convey words more clearly than their voices ever did. That’s why they are all here.

    Standing in this queue.


    I sit in the control room, my finger on the button, and try to imagine their stories.

    The young flaxen haired girl, asleep over her mother’s shoulder. She looks almost like a rag doll, an effect enhanced by her mother’s youth. To her, joy is a foreign concept. She has spent her whole life knowing only want.

    The tattooed street punk. Eyes down, he wavers from side to side. A stiff breeze would lay him flat. I’m sure he once was all bluster, arrogance, and attitude. The bruise on his cheek tells me the fight has been beaten out of him. Repeatedly.

    The old man, hobbled by arthritis, barely able to stand with the aid of his cane and his equally wobbly wife. He probably remembers the days before The Regime, when freedom was more than a word in a dictionary.

    Some days I think about taking pity on them. Praying for their souls. But in the world –– or better said, the country –– we now live, prayer is illegal.

    And why should I cry for them? No one will shed tears for me when it is my turn to face the abattoir. And I know I will, someday.

    We all will.


  64. @OpheliaLeong
    Word Count: 217
    Conflict (Man vs. Governement) and Setting (Dystopia)

    Graffiti’s Bet

    Graffiti waited in the dark closet until the Policeman walked by. No one had discovered the body yet. Graffiti was relieved he had remembered to close the door of Dean Prosper’s office. Not that it would be known as Dean Prosper’s office for long. Graffiti had taken care of that.
    He peeked through the door and once the hallway was clear, he put on his stolen Maintenance hat and glided through the main section of Prosper Hall until he made his way to a little-used side door. All of the officials with their eerie slitted steel masks and long cloaks paid no attention to him, his grey worker’s suit blending in and the boxy hat hiding his fire-red hair. He had hidden the needle, now empty of poison, in the lining of one of his boots.
    It wasn’t until he was outside that he could finally breathe again. Dean Prosper was dead. Graffiti had finally fulfilled the promise he’d made years ago.
    The day was bleak, the sky congested by mucus-colored smog, but Graffiti felt an odd lightness in his heart that he hadn’t felt since he was a child, back when no one had heard of Dean Prosper and Free Folk still had rights. Those days will come again. He just bet his life on it.


  65. Old School Romantic

    The lady in the red dress leans in closer, placing her hand on my lap. I play it cool, like this is an everyday occurrence. She whispers delicately, “I heard a rumour that you’re a history buff…”
    My heart races, a mixture of fear and excitement, “Me, a historian? Don’t be silly.”

    She leans away and pouts, “that’s a shame, I find the old ways extremely sexy. Back when everyone was free to do anything they wanted…” Her tongue rolls the straw around her glass.

    I stare around the room anxiously. Is she trying to get us both arrested? There could be micro-cams anywhere in this run down bar. Any moment now the Suppressors could kick the door down and drag us both to Blackbar.

    I hold my breath, but nothing happens. Instead she gets up to leave. I should let her go, she’s clearly dangerous.

    “Wait.” The word falls out of my mouth like a brick. I pull her close, “I might know a thing or too about the olden days. I found a box of books in the attic. Mostly romance novels, but a man can learn a lot from reading if you catch my drift…”
    She smiles seductively, “I can’t wait for you to tell me all about them.”

    That’s when she pulls out her badge.

    220 words
    Conflict: man vs society (government), Character: historian


  66. Veritas

    Eddie Dickinson
    The Community Network
    Acacia Avenue 22

    17 July 2029

    Re.: My resignation.


    When medical students graduate, they take an oath: as doctors they work to save people’s lives.

    When I graduated as a journalist, I didn’t have an oath like that. Still, I took one: to tell the truth, no matter what. After working only six months in your team I came to the conclusion I cannot continue and be truthful, to myself and to our viewers. Therefore I resign effective immediately.

    From what I have understood I am not the first junior to quit. So I doubt you are disappointed, let alone impressed. But what may make you sweat just a little bit is this: as of now I am a Historian for The Outsiders. I will restore facts the way they happened, from the escaped aliens on the MH-17 flight 15 years ago, to the recent synaptic neurobot attack on the White House.

    Yes, there are other Historians. But I have actual proof. And the knowledge to spread it. At least something good resulted from your training.

    I am looking forward to my new life, Eddie. Are you?


    200 words



    Brian S Creek
    222 words
    (Character / Theme)

    My heart beats fast. I need to hurry, need to hide. Their eyes are everywhere. I mingle with the crowd. Just have to last another twenty-two minutes.

    If I can get to the courts, maybe I can sneak around the back and lay low.

    But, if they find me, I’m-

    “Hey, Jake! I see him.”

    -a dead man. I turn and see one of them, a guy called Peter. We used to play on the same football team. He’s moved up the ladder now, though. He’s one of them.

    The crowd parts, leaving me an island. I could run, but there’s no point. They’ve got me.

    “Over here,” yells Peter. Seconds later Jake O’Brien comes around the corner, marching straight at me. The shove knocks me to the floor. Jake walks around and grabs my bag. A look of frustration adorns his face as he searches.

    But it’s not there. It’s not there, and that’s the problem.

    “Where is it?” he yells. “Where’s my homework, you little history nerd?”

    I know he’s going to beat me up. It’s the risk I took standing up to the system. But someone needed to be the first. No longer will we let them force us to do their homework. Today is the day that the smart kids said no.

    The geeks will inherit the earth.


  68. Anamnesis

    Heinke fed the flames. Doctor’s letters; hotel bills; compromising photographs; all turned to ash and smoke, spreading the fire across the carpet.

    Behind him, the woman howled through her gag. He ignored her, running through his checklist. Drives wiped, voicemails deleted, every trace turned to-

    A boot stamps on an upturned face. The boot is his. He draws a blank on the face.

    He paused, frowning, replaying the last few seconds. Had something happened?

    The woman tried shaking the chair she was tied to, and he turned to check that –

    He hurls a Molotov at a line of riot police. He doesn’t recognise the uniforms.

    “-call you a historian. You destroy whatever they want us to forget.”

    Heinke looked at his hands, wondering why he was holding the gag, why she was speaking.

    “But that wasn’t enough. You had to forget too. There’s a stud, behind your ear. Press that and you’ll forget the whole day. But it’s-”

    Drowning puppies in the bath. Smothering an old lady.

    “-why you came to us! You wanted to remember!”

    Heinke shook his head, trying to clear it. The smoke was thickening, obscuring present and past.

    He tried to remember her name-


    -but it wasn’t there any more.

    He raised the gun, fired once, then walked from the room.

    One finger reaching for the stud behind his ear.

    225 words

    All the prompts


  69. @PattyannMc
    WC: 225

    Secret Deeds

    I am the Worlds’ natural Historian. I and I alone hold the secret deeds of men and women in my hearts, for I have seven depths, all black as pitch. The secrets of all who traverse into my Kingdom, blacken my already jet core. I dare not speak of secrets, for I hold the succulence of an orange inside, waiting to burst forth with ripeness, and truths of their lies. I wish to spill my secrets, but who will hear me in my own Kingdom.

    There are underlings afoot, though they skirt me as a frightening monster. They do not glance my direction; fear encapsulates whatever pieces of heart they’ve left. I’ve eaten the best parts of them as they came to serve me, do my bidding, and none has courage to speak. Cowards, but what of it if they do my bidding, stoking the fires, as I demand them to do.

    They lie in wait under your beds, in your closets, hover above you as you sleep; feed on your disgusting conscience, inhaling your secrets, and bring you to me for castigating.

    Newcomers need taught dreadful lessons, shown their secret deeds brought them to my Kingdom which has no end, no beginning. It is interminable here, your black hearts are mine and I, rule, you, all. I am evil, and YOU are mine, perpetually.


  70. If You Love Me You’ll Send Cake
    A.J. Walker


    Get me some of that lovely banana cake for
    me if you can. I’ve missed it and can’t get
    out at the moment. I’ve caught some sort
    of virus at the school. Don’t worry I’m fine
    here – even without the cake.
    Tell me how things are with you –
    no more falls I hope. And is
    one still in the knitting club?
    They tell me it’s very therapeutic and that you
    are the fastest knitter. I’m in the middle of a
    monitoring report for my class – they’re
    all doing very well. I’m teaching them about
    communications through to the destruction of the internet –
    Remember when people wasted their time on computers?
    Whatever, it
    happens to be my birthday next week and although
    I never celebrate it I
    will expect a card (and cake) telling me as
    always how much you
    love me and all that.
    You know, some things should go without saying.



    The letter found me well. I loved baking the
    banana cake. I think you love
    cake more than me. You know it
    contains too much fat for you. You’ll end up
    a podge. I’ve a whole
    file on why cake is evil!
    Good to have a sweet tooth though and with
    luck the calories will pass right through you


    (217 words)


  71. An Information Revolution

    I had to take my degrees off my office wall because they included the word, history. I was no longer an historian, but an Informationist.

    “From now on the nation shall look forward,” the proclamation read. “The past is irrelevant. The past is a place where no one shall dwell. We have no need of it, no need to look at distasteful things from the past.

    “We are a forward-thinking nation.

    “Note: All citizens shall use that as their daily mantra, effective immediately, until further notice.”

    Embedded in the proclamation was the directive to remove history books from all Informationists’ shelves. Not just from offices, but from homes, too. The government took them away by the truckload. I didn’t want to think what happened to them, but I knew. There was plenty of precedent in history, but because there’s no more history, there’ll be no way to know that.

    I now work in “The Department of Current Information.” If I teach an afternoon class, I can’t use information from the morning; that’s history. If I teach a class in the morning, I can’t use information from the day before; that’s ancient history.

    Keeps me on my toes.

    But I remember. That’s why I hid some of my books. One day soon, we’ll want to know.

    We will need to know.

    @unspywriter (Maggie Duncan)
    221 words
    Character: historian
    Theme: Censorship and/or totalitarianism


  72. Second world

    After he burned the philosophers and poets of Hope Street, John Kronin issued a new decree escalating his regime into one constructed entirely of madness and brutal force. Some academics had run to the desolate borders of the country, trying to cross. Others remained hidden within the city, rebellious still.

    I read about it in the paper, today at the Kardomah Café . The title page worshiped the idea that all practicing scholars will be taken in by the militzia and submitted to an ‘intellectuality abolition’ procedure. The prognosis was a guaranteed success.

    “Are you a scholar sir?”

    I slowly lowered my paper and ceased my cigarette.

    The soldier leaned closer, nefarious reflections circulating in his glass eye. I knew what I had to say, I had learned my affirmation carefully.

    “Scholars are the disgrace of today. They have been banned for the greater good.”

    The soldier clapped and sat on the chair across from me.

    ‘You look like one and speak like one. I hate the resemblance.”

    Before I spoke a bullet whistled past my ear corkscrewing through the soldiers’ artificial eye. His body went limp, there on the chair. Someone in the back yelled “Free will”.

    I alienated myself from the crossfire. I was to change this, manipulate whichever event or timeline was needed. I was to mend this past, or break it.

    225 words
    Conflict: man vs society (government)
    Theme(s): Censorship and/or totalitarianism


  73. Foy S. Iver
    WC: 223
    Theme, setting, conflict

    The Making of an Insurrectionist

    Your cheek burns and blood swishes across your tongue. In 6 years, you’ve learned your second lie. The first is that Raspberry Delight crayon tastes like summer berries. The second is “Mother knows best.” Not mum, who smells like azaleas and smiles like fall, but the other Mother. The one you’ve never met, who has many names: Mutter, Mère, Mãe.

    It is our differences that divide us; we strive for uniformity.

    Grownups think if they whisper, childhood goes uninterrupted. They speak low as if someone is listening, and stop when you enter. But you see mum scrubbing at clean tile, and father studying foreign newspapers. Then they’re giving your toys to men in black armor, and leaving you ugly gray ones that break. Beneath floorboards, you saved a pink dressed dolly. When mum sees it, her eyes scream and she buries it beneath the azaleas.

    It is our numbers that deplete us; we strive for sustainability.

    Mum’s friends say you and Barrett are the “last siblings.” This makes her twitch. At dinner father snaps when you spill the pitcher, “Water isn’t ours to waste!” You cry but forget the next morning when Mother’s armored men are back with long sticks and questions. They take father, and in the shrieking haze a hand strikes you. And that’s when you decide. Mother doesn’t know best.


  74. 222
    Character: historian
    Theme(s): Censorship


    “Come out now with your hands up.” The bullhorn could be heard for miles around. People lined the streets and hung out windows of high rises. It wasn’t often that a swat team lined the uppity streets of downtown. Everyone knew the suits didn’t like conflict to escape outside of boardrooms.

    “Quiet, I have him on the phone.” The police chief glared at the surrounding troops. Quiet descended.

    “Dr. Factman, I need you to come out now. You can trust me.”

    The chief’s face shut down as he listened to the response.

    “Come on, Eddie,” the chief said. “I know they gave you the job to record the paper’s history. I’m sorry you found all that stuff. Dallas 1963 was a long time ago.”

    Again, he listened to the phone. “Is it worth dying to expose a scandal fifty years old? I’ll see what I can do to get their guard off the door and get you out with the papers. Just give me five minutes.”

    The chief noticed the uniforms nearest him gazing at the night sky. No, not the night sky. Eddie stood on the narrow ledge outside the window near the top of the building. He no longer held the telephone in his hand, but instead a bundle of papers fluttered in the breeze.


  75. @Emi_Livingstone

    (character, theme, setting)

    Hiding from the Unseen
    (223 words)

    She dipped her pen into the ink and resumed. Valerie no longer trusted computers. Her faith had reverted to what she could accomplish with her hands and hide under the loose floorboard in the kitchen. Not that that was entirely safe.

    Even the ghosts had sided with the Ruler. What had he offered? Bodies and the means to live again? Other promises?

    Ghosts could go almost anywhere, unseen, could manipulate technology. Valerie had placed a border of salt with an incantation around her property. She’d soon have to move on though, because a place barred to ghosts would be reported.

    She wrote the names of the dead, even if some might now be traitors to the cause they died for. She wrote the manners of their deaths. The Ruler silenced opposition. He was refashioning the world: past, present, and future. A lie: there never were graveyards for housing the dead and honoring them. The truth: she documented death rituals from as many cultures as she could. A lie: the Ruler was born under a special star, to end death and unite all souls in a holy purpose. The truth: the Ruler was born in a hospital in Nebraska. He was dishonorably discharged from the navy, studied dark magic, began a cult. A lie: she was not afraid. The truth: she would keep on.


  76. Juror 853
    216 words, @pmcolt
    (theme, setting)

    “reminder to jurors: evidence is anonymized”

    My dad used to talk about the pre-revolutionary days. Jury duty meant physically sitting in court, yet cases were televised worldwide. Modern justice is more sensible: I can serve on a jury remotely, completely unbiased.

    “accusation: badthink”

    A serious accusation. Since the revolution, civil society no longer tolerates intolerance. My visor starts to display the evidence: countless pages of social media comments, credit history, etc. Elsewhere in the club, the band plays on, oblivious to my jury service.

    “please review evidence”

    Algorithms highlight the wort offenders. Phone transcripts containing racial slurs. Photos with hints of misogyny. Dirty jokes. Activities going back decades pre-revolution, no longer acceptable to society. Sickening.

    “please render verdict”

    I tap thumbs-down: thousands of others vote likewise. This John Doe’s lifetime of uncouth antics made quite a negative impression on my fellow jurors.

    “verdict: badthinker. mandatory sentence: termination”

    Somewhere in the country, the defendant stood immobile beneath the spotlight of justice, reading those words. I imagined his reaction as the executioner approached. His look of regret as the cruciform termination device, strapped to his chest, induced cardiac arrest. Then… flatline.

    I’m about to return to my friends in the club when an incoming call flashes in my visor. My mother’s distraught face appears.

    “Honey… it’s your father.”


  77. The Final Battle
    Word Count: 201
    Conflict: man vs society (government)
    Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government

    Anxious feet shift, anticipation thick in the air. We wait. The time to strike is dawning. In this moment of weakened defenses we will make our move, and not a minute too soon. As we wait for the signal I can feel the heat from my brethrens’ breath. Slow and steady; ready. This is our time to take back our lands, to reclaim Liberty and Justice.




    Two thousand men rise, lift their weapons, and on command, CHARGE!

    Screams. Grunts. The sound of flesh meeting blade. Chaos.

    The government soldiers never saw it coming. Caught off guard, we have the upper hand. I watch, as if transcended above my body, slashing any man in the dark blue of The Sovereign’s army. They are falling at our feet. Victory is ours.

    Smoke billows over the battle grounds as our men set fire to the fallen soldiers. The Sovereign, long since deserted his men, has admitted defeat by retreating. We will find him. He will get the justice he deserves. For now we relish in our victory. One day children will sing songs of this battle, anthems of our freedom.

    Today is the day we took back what was ours.


  78. The Box
    223 words
    by Alicia VanNoy Call

    The Box is bullet proof.


    Just four transparent sides and a top – perfect for showcasing my sin against the Ministry.

    I was selected to be a Mother last month.

    The Box is an upright coffin, with not enough room to sit down. I wish I could sit down.

    I had no intention of pumping out a series of exquisitely branded, genetically enhanced babies for the Ministry.

    Crowds gather. They stare at the evidence of my empty womb. Their eyes roam over my naked flesh. I lean back, close my eyes, trying not to think of how my buttocks look, pressed against the glass from behind.

    I tore at my own insides with a length of wire until my body pumped blood.

    I drew on the floor of my dorm, finger dipped and scarlet, a single word:


    The Box smells of my own sweat. But I tremble under the eyes of the People.

    Encouraged to assault the Box, some come forward. They shout, their words harsh and muted. Pound on the glass. Throw things.

    Tomorrow, my time in the Box ends with my execution. I knew it would end this way.

    But still.

    I bite my lip until it bleeds. Then I trace a single word on the glass at eye level, backwards, so all of them can read it:



  79. Train to the New World
    by Joey To

    Lola squeezed her mother’s hand as they waded through the platform, crowded with people and luggage. A white maglev train whooshed away on the opposite side, those on-board waving to the few who weren’t leaving.

    Lola’s mother glanced down at her with a faint smile. “Maybe there’ll be less people at the back…”

    As they shuffled in between others, Lola shifted her gaze to the large screen overhead. It was the news. As usual.


    Lola’s left foot clipped a suitcase and—

    A strong grip halted Lola’s fall. She looked up to see a young man in grey uniform with a dragon insignia on his shoulder, his left hand holding her up and his rifle in his right.

    “You okay?” he asked with a smile, releasing her.

    Lola kept her eyes down and nodded. “Thanks…”

    Around them, conversations buzzed. “Why we haveta leave anyway?!” – “Yeah, don’t see the Ministers leaving.” – “Haven’t heard from William since he left days ago.”

    The soldier took out thin bar and offered it to Lola. “Here kiddo, it’s a comfortable ride to the Sanctuary but a long one.”

    Lola frowned and narrowed her gaze at the soldier. “Where is the Sanctuary?”

    The soldier squinted at the crowd… then sighed. “Follow me. Quietly.”


    Word Count: 224
    Theme: Censorship and/or totalitarianism
    Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

    Website: http://www.joeytoey.com/


  80. “You wanted me, Boss?”

    “You are the Historian, including human history. Determine if humankind can survive as a species.”

    “You want humankind to continue, Boss?” A pause. “Okay Boss; understood.”

    Jennifer dozed in her hospital bed. As she drifted, she thought she imagined a broad-shouldered man sit down. “Excuse me, my lady.” Jennifer’s eyes flew fully open. “I apologize for startling you, but I have come to believe that you are my best source for a balanced analysis of the current situation.

    “Please, distill the origin of world’s current problems in one sentence.”

    Jennifer stared at the stranger before answering strongly: “All of it eventually traces back to the invention of money.”

    “What are your conclusions regarding the multiple situations facing humankind at present?”

    “To put it into an extremely simplified manner, it is greed and extremely subtle censorship slipped into our language. As only one example, look at the obfustication in ingredient labels on food. In the same way, our government has slipped into being a puppet used to keep people focused elsewhere.

    “And for what? In their blind rush for money, the fools have destroyed Earth, the original golden goose.” The man grinned at her. Jennifer’s eyes narrowed as she looked at him.

    “I do believe my lady, that between the two of us we may just be able to save your species.”


  81. Dear Editor,
    It seems my formatting failed for the above. Please remove. Sorry for the inconvenience.


    Train to the New World
    by Joey To

    Lola squeezed her mother’s hand as they waded through the platform, crowded with people and luggage. A white maglev train whooshed away on the opposite side, those on-board waving to the few who weren’t leaving.

    Lola’s mother glanced down at her with a faint smile. “Maybe there’ll be less people at the back…”

    As they shuffled in between others, Lola shifted her gaze to the large screen overhead. It was the news. As usual.

    [[ …advised to leave the city for Sanctuaries as the military sweeps each sector for infiltration units… ]]

    Lola’s left foot clipped a suitcase and—

    A strong grip halted Lola’s fall. She looked up to see a young man in grey uniform with a dragon insignia on his shoulder, his left hand holding her up and his rifle in his right.

    “You okay?” he asked with a smile, releasing her.

    Lola kept her eyes down and nodded. “Thanks…”

    Around them, conversations buzzed. “Why we haveta leave anyway?!” – “Yeah, don’t see the Ministers leaving.” – “Haven’t heard from William since he left days ago.”

    The soldier took out thin bar and offered it to Lola. “Here kiddo, it’s a comfortable ride to the Sanctuary but a long one.”

    Lola frowned and narrowed her gaze at the soldier. “Where is the Sanctuary?”

    The soldier squinted at the crowd… then sighed. “Follow me. Quietly.”


    Word Count: 224
    Theme: Censorship and/or totalitarianism
    Setting: dystopia (near-future society ruled by an evil, oppressive government)

    Website: http://www.joeytoey.com/


  82. Legacy
    208 words
    (Sorry if it’s a few minutes late. I had some technical troubles!)

    He secretly loved the sound of his baton cracking against their skulls. One after another, it landed with a satisfying thud as he danced through the crowd of masked demonstrators.

    Damn hippies.

    It didn’t matter that most of the dissidents were the same age as his son – their parents should have raised them better. Nor did it matter that they were unarmed – not when the gendarme were outnumbered one hundred to one.

    It was easier to focus on the faceless conformity of the mask and not the identity of the person behind it, who could easily be anyone’s child. So, he forced himself to remember that, in trying times like these, there was no such thing as a peaceful protest. Civil unrest begets danger, no matter the intentions behind it.

    Their screams rippled through the crowd as the disruptors dispersed until, finally, they ran from the very sight of him.

    He flashed a self-satisfied smile. That’s right. You’d better run.

    Their panicked shouts grew louder until, finally, they were no longer afraid. “He killed him!” they yelled.

    And that was when he saw his boy, bleeding and still.

    He cradled his son to his heaving chest, then took off his helmet – and let them come.


  83. How it Begins (224 words; character: historian, setting: dystopian future, oppressive government)

    “They’re coming.”
    “Yes, I know.”
    “Shouldn’t we at least try to hide the books?”
    I looked up from the screen in my hands and stared across the room at the pacing teenager. “Patrick, really. I’m a licensed historian. I have the necessary permits for everything that’s out here.” I turned back to the screen and updates of the riot police raids.
    “Aunt Evelyn, please.” When I looked back at the boy, he was wringing his hands, emerald irises almost obscured by the dark pools of his pupils.
    “Alright, Patrick, alright.” I stood and swiped my finger across the screen, erasing my trails from the device. He scooped up papers and books from table tops, carrying them to a large basket. He pressed a button and the basket disappeared underneath a neighboring chair, then moved a large potted plant to cover the vacant space. I ran my finger along the top of the bookcase, stopping at a depression in the wood for print recognition. The shelves full of books, mostly containing those detailing the Holocaust and Nazi Germany, shifted backwards as another panel of books moved into place from within the walls, meeting and locking together in the middle. I surveyed the contents of the shelves, mostly post-Holocaust materials and all approved, and looked to Patrick as the banging began.
    “This is how it begins.”

    Liked by 1 person

  84. Oh, Pig Newtons!! I finally remember it’s Friday and have the energy to write, and I am ONE freakin’ minute late!! ARGH!! But….. for those who wanna know, I was using Character (historian) and censorship (esp the subtle form which uses the changing of the language instead of up-front banning of words).
    Word count: 225
    Title: Assignment: Humans
    Copyright 2015 Beth E Peterson

    Liked by 1 person

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