Bradley whittled the small bar with rough hands.
Bradley whittled the small bar with rough hands.
The Sun Shone
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. The grass was the same grass, the buildings were the same buildings, and the people were the same people it had shone on for the last thousand years. Ice had accumulated around them, snow had frozen in patches on the still ground. The Earth had become a Winter Wonderland for no one to wonder at, as the planet slowly spun in the vast loneliness of space.
*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy.
Martha’s smile was dangerous.
The Best of Times
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, mused Bob from behind the counter of his electronics store. Technology certainly was a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it freed men and women to go about their daily lives without the manual labor of past generations. However, did the cost in labor outweigh its time-saving benefits? Bob had his own opinion. Thoreau may have had his personal theories on the superiority of a simple life, but Bob enjoyed his cell phone, Netflix, and – increasingly- both together.
It was a slow day, which meant business was bad, but then again it was bad everywhere. At least he had income, however meager. He glanced at his phone’s screen, more technology whose cost enslaved him. The upside of slow days meant there was plenty of free time. He could take online courses, many of which cost nothing but time. He could read books, catch up on classics or read something new with a few presses on a touchscreen. Heck, if he wanted, he could even write a story. Any idiot could do that much.
He tapped the Netflix app on his phone. If things continued to be this slow, he could make it through the rest of season five of Chuck by the end of the day. He settled back into the chair, feeling the blood already congealing in his veins from lack of exercise, and focused on the tiny screen in front of him.
When a customer found his cold, stiff body several hours later, he still had a smile on his face.
*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities.
**image courtesy of Johnathan Lyman via Flickr using Creative Commons Licensing.
A toad, a squirrel, and a magician walk into a bar…
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Dave hit mute on his alarm and kept walking, collar turned up against the Spring chill. Each year the world became colder, the skies darker with the satellites floating above the Earth in their never-ending quest for “safety through vigilance.” Today’s weather was overcast, the clouds obscuring the metal monstrosities that dominated the skies. Most people never looked up.
The neighborhood had gone down in the past few years, the once burgeoning community was now littered with abandoned houses that lined the street like trashcans on pickup day. Paint peeled, a few of the windows had been broken. Despite cheerful news reports of the growing economy, people continued to lose their jobs and storefronts stood empty in the heart of downtown. Still, the government ensured that even the poor had cell phones…
He entered his apartment and noted the camera on his computer screen, the eye that never shut. Government hacks into civilian technology had already been revealed, but most people had already forgotten the initial scandals, distracted by the latest fad, the hottest celebrities, the more recent scandals. Why bother to cover the cameras on their cell phones when gas was over three bucks per gallon?
He brought up the bookstore app and considered purchasing another novel. George Orwell had long been one of his favorite authors, but yet he hesitated. He looked at the selection on his phone’s small screen. If 1984 was considered seditious, why were stores allowed to sell it at all? Why did libraries still carry the text, schools still stock Orwell’s science-fiction among the classics? Did he honestly believe it was science fact, details skewed but prophetic nonetheless? He thought about not buying the ebook. He could get it through a used bookstore, pay cash, keep it off the radar and avoid observance as well as convenience.
He glanced across the street at the abandoned houses. His neighbors had been questioned, sure, but why had they left? Why did their homes stand forlorn and broken? It couldn’t be economic downturn. The radio spat out new stats every day; the country was thriving. Yet, he wondered when it would be his turn to be questioned. Would it be a phonecall summoning him to the authorities or men in black coats at his door?
No, all that was needed for the death of liberty wasn’t an oppressive state but citizens too scared to exercise their rights. He chastised himself for reading too many dystopian novels, even as he hit the word ‘buy’ on the phone’s touchscreen. He back-arrowed into his e-library and downloaded the newest purchase.
The phone rang. He stared at the caller I.D. Swallowing hard, he left his apartment, closing its door behind him.
The professor closed the box lid carefully before asking his companion, “But what shall I do with the aardvark?”
“All children, except one, grow up.” Sarah read Barrie’s words with a tint of bitterness in her heart. If only that were true.
She didn’t care about the mouldering skeleton discovered in the neighbor’s basement. She didn’t care what the police report said, or the DNA results, or the constant ache in her heart…
She put the bedtime story back on the shelf and kissed the yellowing photo of her beloved James. She made sure the bedroom window was unlocked, adjusted the bed covers, patted down the dinosaur pillow, and closed his bedroom door behind her. Thirty years later, she still couldn’t bring herself to cease this nighttime ritual.
One day, he would come home.
*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” seemed like good advice, but Polonious never said anything about giving.
Better a witty fool than a foolish wit, thought Amanda, recalling her favorite Shakespearean quote, one that had remained lodged in her brain since high school. She finished applying her make-up, adjusted the flower pinned to her lapel, and straightened her pink wig, before grabbing her bicycle horn and stepping into the big ring with her fellow performers.
Now, it was her turn to convince an audience of the truth of those words; they had won her over to the Bard long ago. After all, the world has always been a stage.