FridayFlash: Far Out in the Backwaters

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Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun… or at least, it would for just a bit longer. But everything ends eventually. Everything has a beginning, with its end already present at its inception, its termination born of its genesis. Life makes room for other life, degrading into its component particles, which in turn become something else. The same is true for all things, living or otherwise, though the sun really resented this.

It had been born, as so many other stars had, out of clouds of stellar dust brought together by mutual attraction, heating up and briefly fueling the worlds that revolved around it with the matter and means for the development of life and complexity. What, in turn, had that life ever given back? That’s what the sun wanted to know.

Now that he was on his last legs – or atoms, whatever – all the intelligent lifeforms that had visited or been born on the planets of his solar system had taken off. It seems they were too good for red giants; just because he made the planets uninhabitable, that was no excuse for rudeness. They flew from his system, propelled by ship, wings, fins, or combustible gases to take root in other systems around other stars. Fickle bastards.

So with a flash of helium, his shell collapsed, and no one marked it. He shed layers and layers into the vastness of space, but no one bothered to comment on his nakedness. He radiated his annoyance into the boundless unknown, but the heat was felt by nothing. Finally, out of energy, out of time, he took comfort in knowing that his death would start the process all over again, life would eventually develop once again from his component parts – no matter how far away.

Then he’d show ‘em.

 

*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. I’m wrapping up the series with a flash inspired by the first line in my favorite book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by  Douglas Adams. The above story is a humble tribute to my favorite author.

*image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

 

 

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Writing Prompt #113

“Hey kid, wanna buy some bunny ears?”

 

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Friday Flash: The Past is a Foreign Country

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The Past is a Foreign Country

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there, thought Brandon479 of Gamma colony, Mars. He knew looking into space was looking into the past, and though the Earth was only light-minutes away, he marvelled at the sight: the lightshow, the swirling clouds of ash on the surface of their former home. What would the shockwave do to his home on Mars?

The Martian settlement had been established as a community for those outcast by the rest of humanity, a place of refuge for those who did not fit the molds society had created for them. While the elite and wealthy of Earth lived in towering citadels of gleaming silver, the politicians bickered in their ivory fortresses, and the lower classes served the whims of the higher, the outcasts tilled red soil using ancient instruments and experimented with new, exotic species of flora for consumption as well as beauty. Worlds apart, though only a planet-rise away.

The Martian, Klarg, nodded to his human companion, then pressed a flashing light. The green-skinned creature was grimly dissatisfied that the planet’s force-field was necessary. Having taken too much time to lull the human puppets into submission, the Earth would no longer be a prize worth conquering. If only they hadn’t destroyed themselves first, he felt quite sure the Earth humans would have made excellent slaves. The ones on this planet had seemed subservient enough.

 

*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in L. P. Hartley’s The Go-Between.

*image courtesy of Cyril Rana  via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

 

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Writing Prompt #112

 

The hawk and the sparrow were unlikely friends.

 

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Friday Flash: All This Happened

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All This Happened

 

All this happened, more or less, the way you would have expected. I met a girl, she happened to be the girl next door, and we fell in love. I’ve often wondered, in my short time in this world, if our romance was destined to be or simply an accident of geography which could have happened to any two, reasonably attractive people of comparable age and interests. The old cliche of the boy falling for the girl next door or the boss sleeping with his secretary must naturally have some basis in fact.  How else are clichés born than by repeatedly being shown to be true?

Don’t look at me like that. I know you must get tired of hearing people’s stories, but you did ask how this happened.

Anyway, as you can imagine, our relationship grew on the foundation of mutual interest and attraction. We both loved books, though our tastes varied. We loved the same movies, enjoyed the same foods, and inevitably shared the same bed.

Yes, this is relevant to the subject at hand.

Anyway, her sense of adventure was significantly more developed than my own, especially in the bedroom, and I confess that – though my sexual prowess was more than adequate – I felt an additional need to be daring in order to keep up with her. Costumes, role playing, and exotic positions were not enough; soon all manner of playthings were added to our romantic activities, eventually including ever more strange and dangerous toys.

Well, you can see where this is going, I’m sure.

What happened was inevitable. After all, it is the nature of accidents to happen when we are least prepared, and if I –

if we had only been more careful, well…

I confess I was not prepared for the consequences of our sexual escapades. Have I mentioned I have excellent health insurance? I promise you, Doctor, despite our exotic taste, we always took the utmost precautions, and I assure you, if my wife had not walked in on us this evening, you would not be performing this particular extraction.

 

 

*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five.

*image courtesy of Victor via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

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Writing Prompt #111

 

Her vision blurred, the screen swirling before her eyes.

 

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Friday Flash: Advice

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Advice

 

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Lefty loosy, Righty tighty,” he often said, repeating this ancient adage to me as he adjusted parts on the robots he built in the garage.

 

There was a fine line between realistic enough to be desirable and too realistic, and the uncanny valley was not kind to those that couldn’t tell the difference. The humanoid-looking robots of my father’s younger days would come off the assembly line, all vacant expressions and unseeing eyes. They had arms and legs and faces, they could cook and clean and repeat the daily news or a hundred other things, but they had no emotion. They did not look so realistic that they unnerved their all too human owners. Straddling the line between servants and appliances, they served their functions in a society not their own.

 

Now, however, the level of their sophistication – of mine – had reached a new high. Dangerously close to humanity, they blended, they merged with the world around them. You might pass one on the street and never know.

 

Lefty loosy, righty tighty? I contemplated the dubious wisdom of those words as I contemplated my loose ankle. Left and right were subjective directions, so why did it refer to my father’s perspective and not my own?

.

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*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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*image courtesy ofBigFoto.com

 

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Writing Prompt #110

 

Munificent often wondered what her life would have been like if she had been given a more conventional name, like Barbie.

 

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Writing Prompt #109

 

The playwright’s quill had broken, but luckily he had other instruments of destruction.

 

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Friday Flash: All Happy Families

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All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

 

What a load of rubbish.

 

Georgia was willing to bet that most ‘happy’ families were not happy, merely appeared so to outside observers. At least, this was true for her own family. Sure, she was gifted with looks, wealth, and plenteous magical abilities, but all that meant was you had more to worry about losing. Were her friends really interested in her or simply what she could do for them? It was like the lottery. Once you won, you had more friends than you could count, but were they really?

 

In a way, it was worse, because she had no basis upon which to judge. At least lottery winners could reasonably suspect that strangers suddenly turned chums might be posers. But the lottery of life had been in her favor since birth. Her father was a powerful wizard, her mother a wealthy socialite and self-funded superhero. None of that hidden identity nonsense from them, they didn’t believe in it. But oh, how Georgia wished they did.

 

She fiddled with the chemistry set her best friend, Montana, had given her for her sixteenth birthday. Another unfortunately-famous child, her parents were equally well-known, though in a different way. She felt, with a reasonable amount of certainty, that at least Montana could be trusted. Well, with one glaring exception.

 

“So… when do you think your dad is getting out of super-prison?” asked Georgia, mixing another potion in the transparent, glass beaker.

 

“I don’t know,” Montana fumed. “It’s bad enough that he hasn’t been there for most of my birthdays, but you think he’d at least want to be there for my sweet sixteen!”

 

“Well, it’s not for another month,” said Georgia, consulting her father’s secret potion book, the one she’d snagged from the crystal cave below their mansion. He may have been a master of the mystical arts, but he was crap at keeping secrets – from her, at least. A few magical phrases and she’d easily enchanted her way into his “secret” workshop. She dropped a bit of purple dust into the beaker, a miniature rainbow briefly poofed above the glass container, and a tiny dove the size of a pencil-eraser flew out of its liquid contents before the colored prism dissolved back into the glass. “And he’s been on good behavior, right? Maybe the parol committee will cut him some slack.”

 

“Hmmm,” said Montana, observing the tiny display thoughtfully. “I think it needs more cinnamon.” She leaned back and grabbed a bottle from the spice rack they had borrowed from the kitchen. “But maybe you’re right. There haven’t been any incidents, other than that toad thing – which hardly counts.”  She added the cinnamon to the potion, but nothing happened.

 

“And that was just a small incident, right?” said Georgia cheerfully. “I mean, he didn’t really hurt the guy.” She shook the beaker and frowned at its contents.

 

“Well, he threatened to dissect him, but nothing ever came of it.” Montana took the spell book from her friend, tracing the spine with her finger as her eyes skimmed the book’s contents.

 

“So he changed him back?” asked Georgia, putting down the glass container.

 

“Nope,” mused Montana, glancing up from the page before her. “He said the guy was more agreeable that way. Besides, there’s worse things that can happen then getting turned into a toad.”

 

“Hey!” said Georgia brightly, “I’ve got an idea. We haven’t included nearly enough Ingredient X in this. Just a sec, I think my mom left some in her lab.” Quickly, the girl exited the room, leaving Montana to brood over her father’s fate. Only two weeks left until her sweet sixteen. Why did the bastard have to knock over that billionaire’s cruiseship? So what if it would have funded his research. She wanted him with her. She was his daughter. She deserved to have her father around, even if he was a brilliant, insane, amoral scientist.

 

“Got it!”  Georgia plopped back down on the plush carpet and added Ingredient X to the beaker. When purple foam began to overflow the glass container, she joined hands with her best friend, and they began chanting.

 

Soon, the foam dissolved into a small rainbow-colored unicorn with brightly sparkling wings, but the girls continued chanting. Montana smiled. She’d never been much of a girly-girl, but if that was what her friend wanted on to give her for her birthday…  “Congratulations,” she said. “It’s a… horned pegasus?”

 

Georgia grinned broadly. “You mean, it’s an escape plan.” She thought directions to the tiny creature. The glittering horn drew a large oval on the container’s side, which burned away like acid, then delicately stepped outside and laid down in front of Montana. “He can help your father get out for your birthday,” she said. “Do you think I’d let my one and only friend be sad on her special day?”

 

Montana gasped in feigned astonishment, even forgiving her friend for calling her birthday her “special day” – what was she, five? She hugged her tightly. “And he’d have to go back afterwards?”

 

“Well, of course,” answered Georgia. “We can’t have him running around unsupervised. It’d be far too dangerous.” She didn’t have the heart to tell her friend that the tiny little monster would dissolve shortly after it helped her father escape. For a girl with dastardly parents, Montana was far too kind-hearted.

 

“Of course,” said Montana, contemplating how to hide her father without her friend catching on. She would never send her father back to prison. However, with her burgeoning superpowers, she felt confident she could control him. Implanting the escape plan in Georgia’s mind had been easy enough, and – after all – he was far older than her friend.

 

Montana grinned, contemplating all the while how she could use her developing mind control powers to help make the world a better place. Hell, at the rate her abilities were progressing, she might even be able to use them to make everyone happy.

 

All it would take was a little concentration.

 

 

 

 

***I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.
*Image courtesy of Horia Varlan via Flickr using a Creative Commons license.

 

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