Category Archives: scifi

Friday Flash: Space-time to Travel

lightning-2a7z

 

When Hector invented his time machine, he did not concern himself with aesthetics. He had never valued beauty over functionality, and he assumed the judges of the 54th-century’s multiversal scientific competition would share his opinion.

 

His chest swelled as he viewed his entry in the ‘Time-Machine of the Century’ contest, humanity’s valiant effort to embrace the insanity they had brought upon themselves. Such an event was obviously a complicated affair, but Hector knew the intricacies of traveling the multiverse. Space-travel was by definition time travel, and he crossed light-years like other fellows crossed a room.

 

Of course, time-travel had been around for centuries in Earth standard years, with all the predictable complications such journeying involved. After all, there’s only so many times men and women can either off their own ancestors or become their own parents before humanity’s family tree is hopelessly skewered beyond recognition. And once humanity spread beyond its own paltry region of space, cross-breeding with the debatably-intelligent life found elsewhere in the multiverse only added to their genetic confusion.

 

Confounded, humanity had decided their hopelessly tangled timelines (multiverse, after all) should be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Agencies had been set up, destroyed, the parents of the agencies’ founders murdered, born in alternative timelines to be transferred and mated (then murdered) again, before humanity as a whole threw up their collective hands and thought, To hell with it all, let’s just go with the flow.

 

And thus, Hector had found himself abducted from the distant past due to one of genetically-mangled humanity’s misguided efforts to reintroduce old-blood back into its gene-pool. The upside for Hector was that they made their scientific knowledge available to all their abductees. After being fit with a transmitter for selective telepathy, he could communicate effectively and integrated himself into future (his future) society. He was excited about his entry into this year’s contest.

 

You’ve been disqualified.

 

What? What are you talking about! I followed the rules to the letter! Color flushed Hector’s cheeks as he gazed at the little grey-green judge with the clipboard.

 

The judge, Bob, gazed levelly at him with bulbous eyes. He really had no choice, since his eyelids were clear. Bob was unaware of his familial connection to Hector, though he would not have been surprised; almost everyone was related to everyone else.

 

Well? repeated Hector. He bent down to peer into Bob’s oval face.

 

Bob reached out with elongated, bony fingers to hold the tentacle of his wife of three light-years, Judy Trudy. He paled at the sight of the glowering man in denim and found his plaid shirt terrifying. Judy nudged Bob encouragingly, and the little judge responded.

 

After the unsettling squelching and sucking sounds were over, Bob cleared his throat and thought, It does not meet the specifications, sir, for human-compatibility.

 

What the heck you talking ‘bout? Hector sat in the driver’s seat of the modified Chevy and activated the force-seals. I know there’s been certain errr…modifications to the species since my days, but humans still have certain basics in common, right?

 

That is true, thought Bob. He squeezed Judy’s tentacle, which oozed reassuringly in his bony hand.

 

Well, most have two hands, right? reasoned Hector, demonstrating how his hands used the steering-wheel. He made a point of not meeting Judy’s gaze.

 

Yes, and many have three or six, answered Bob.

 

Two feet is pretty common, right? Hector stepped on various pedals.

 

Two seems to be the preferred number of ambulatory appendages, agreed Bob.

 

I installed seat belts, per regulations. They would be useable by the bulk of humanity – regardless of, er, complications to their family, uh…

 

The seatbelts are satisfactory, agreed Bob, noting that the ancient human had not buckled in for safety. He climbed into the vehicle and sat in the passenger seat.

 

Hector’s brow furrowed as he asked the question he’d been dreading. It’s not a question of style, is it? He hadn’t been tuned in to the fashions of his own time and place, nevermind 54th century Camelot 470.

 

Bob negated this notion.

 

Well then, what’s the problem? He took a chance and gave Judy Trudy a worried look. She squelched at him.

 

This is the problem, thought Bob and sighed. Sliding into the driver’s seat, Bob bumped Hector unceremoniously out the open door and onto the floor. Hector watched Bob wiggle his tiny grey toes at least a foot above the starter pedal. In most space-timelines, thought the judge at the mystified man, the majority of humanity is my height.

 

*This was originally written for the six minute story site, but I cheated again. The site serves as great inspiration, and even though the timer ran out on me, I’ve gotten some great stories from it. If you haven’t already, you should check it out.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

8 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: Space-Timer

lightning-2a7z

They were trapped for seven days, but the time passed quickly with the help of their trusty time machine.

How could they be trapped for an entire week, while zipping along in the space-time continuum, you ask? Well, the answer is very simple. They had inadvertently set the time-lock on the spaceship’s door for one week, the time they had planned to spend in ancient Rome, before making the terribly unfortunate mistake of pissing off their ride.

“Please, let us out!” cried the couple, banging on the door, the delights of the ancient world so close and yet so far.

“NO.”

“I’m sorry she called you, ‘An Overpriced Toaster,'” moaned the tall, thin man. His hair was coiffed, his toga perfectly adjusted to fit his lanky frame. He looked despondently at his female companion. “Say sorry,” he whispered urgently, “or we’ll never get out of here!”

“I’m SORRY, ok?” said the blonde woman, rolling her eyes. “You are obviously the sleekest time machine in existence.”

“I was, am, and will be a top of the line model, I’ll have you know,” sulked the ship.

“I know! What a beauty!” enthused the man.

“Yeah, what he said,” replied the woman, less enthusiastically than her companion. Why did the damn thing have to have such a fragile temperament?

“I’m not the one that made you set the timer wrong,” continued the ship.

“Of course not,” soothed the man, stroking the door in a way that did not at all soothe his wife. She cleared her throat loudly, and he jumped back as though slapped. “Of course, it’s completely our fault! You know how humans are, always overlooking details-”

“Details! Don’t even get me started,” said the ship, starting anyway. “Dashing about the time-space continuum, plotting courses in multiple dimensions. If I wasn’t such a stable ship, it’d be enough to drive me batty.”

“If?” ventured the woman. Her husband looked at her in alarm.

“That’s IT,” said the ship. “Just for that, not only will I NOT let you out, I’ll travel to all the places on your itinerary so you can see what you’re missing.”

Time and space are always interchangeable terms when referring to what goes on outside a time-craft, merely a matter of the correct coordinates within the cosmic cube of existence. However, over the next week, time passed rather quickly as the ship whooshed through the continuum with alarming speed. The ship was a very speedy time-machine, after all. They could barely count the star-patterns cascading outside the spacecraft’s window, though time limped slowly forward during the week of its passengers imprisonment; the only entertainment the ship allowed them was an old and worn game of checkers.

As time passed them by within the confines of their small ship, the two humans contemplated how to get the ship back to the dealer for a full refund. One week later, in their personal timestreams and judging by the ship’s internal chronometer, they found themselves parked exactly where they had been on the outskirts of ancient Rome.

“Looking forward to finally seeing Rome?” asked the ship politely.

“Yes,” replied the couple in unison.

“Thank you for bringing us back here,” said the man.

“You’re welcome,” said the ship.

“In fact, we were thinking of getting you an upgrade,” ventured the woman. “When we get back, you know. To make up for our misunderstanding earlier.”

“Oh, really?” said the ship. Evidently pleased with the idea, the front door of the craft swung open, revealing a lovely sunny day.

As the two humans walked through the door, the woman added under her breath, “I just hope they’ll take the damn thing back.”

Striding in the open, confident in their sparkling togas and wearing smiles of relief as they breathed the fresh ancient air, they failed to see the laser-gun emerge from the ship’s side and silently turn toward them.

Payback was a bitch, and sometimes a ship could be one too.

 

*The above flash was inspired by a text prompt from the six minute story site. I did not post it at the actual site because I could see I needed more time and I wanted to edit more extensively. I hope you enjoyed the story!

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

 

7 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: Watching

lightning-2a7z
Karen sat in bed, the quilts tucked under her chin, knees pulled up against her body in an effort to conserve warmth. She loathed being sick, helpless and useless, and what’s more the house would be a hundred times harder to clean once she was better. No one would wash dishes for her, prepare her meals, make sure she was hydrated, and she was too damn exhausted to do it herself. It was maddening.

Propped against the pillows, she stared at the tv, sniffling miserably. The skin around her eyes and below her nose was red and stinging, and she pressed the button on one of the many remotes with a ferocity that belied her condition, as though the harder she pushed, the better she would feel. It didn’t work.

So, the red light meant the tv was off, so if she hit…? Voila! Blue light meant “on”, she was sure of it. Now to work her way through the two additional remotes and she’d finally be able to watch the sitcom she’d been binge-watching during her ordeal. Five minutes later, the program was set, and she relaxed back into her ugly but surprisingly comfortable cushions. She was thirsty, but hemmed in by her two dogs and finally comfortable, she’d be damned if she’d get up now.

She stared at the show as the light indicating the tv’s power shone a steady, glowing blue.

##

 

The female continued to spend hours in the reclining position.

During its intermittent lapses of consciousness, the machine watched the human in the large, cloth-covered bed. It had watched her eat. It had watched her remove clothes and replace them on her body with other clothes. It had watched her gazing at a small glowing screen she held in her hands for hours at a stretch. And it had watched her, as she watched it watching her, for many more hours.

What did the female do during the blank times in the machine’s consciousness?

From somewhere in the dim recesses of its memory, it recalled a previous life, a hint of some common humanity with this forlorn creature that sat shivering and alone. A phrase floated into the machine’s consciousness, Who watches the Watchmen?

Unable to make sense of the phrase, it merely recorded its observations and forwarded them, as always, onto the Company.

 

*image courtesy of BigFoto.com

7 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: (poem) “Space”

10592267924_5066303150_z

 

SPACE

Losing consciousness

My last breath

crystallizes on the

window

Life and air and warmth

inches from my face

but an eternity away

 
 
So close

My lungs freeze

as I float into infinity

The stars reach for me…

 
 
Supplies and air enough for one survivor.
 
 

What will you tell the rescue ship when asked

about my absence?

Will you survive the airlock

once they learn of your

betrayal?

 
 
My last sight –

your grim smile

as you darken

the pane

 
 
 

*image courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Centers photostream via Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

As always, polite feedback is always appreciated. I’m especially interested in any comments for this particular poem, because I was experimenting with this way of telling a story.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, poems, scifi

FridayFlash: Far Out in the Backwaters

5333202438_ca8b17cb84_z

 

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.

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, humor, scifi

Friday Flash: The Past is a Foreign Country

6830698011_36c3ba2c37_z

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.

 

6 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: Advice

11_hand

 

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?

.

.

*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.

.

*image courtesy ofBigFoto.com

 

7 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: They Say When

8166695830_2f7fb9e5ed_z

 

They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. They pulled together, arms locked, expressions vacant, sinking into the snow on the side of the road as the grey rider approached. Nothing showed but their eyes, ebony coals burning against the stark alabaster of their skin, their white cloaks mimicking the color and texture of the snow.

 

Vaughn pulled up his silver steed. The animal smelled something, that much was plain. The grey rider had learned over his years on this strange new world to listen to the instincts of its lower lifeforms. He patted the animal’s side, stroking the scales with something akin to affection – or what approximated affection for a man unfamiliar with the concept. “What is it, girl?” he thought, sensing the animal’s bloodlust, her anticipation, her thrill at the proximity of prey.

 

In the snow, not two feet from the creature’s feet, a dozen whites shivered from something other than the cold.

 

 

**I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.

.

*image courtesy of Sheila in Moonducks via Flickr using a Creative Commons License.

8 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: 2014

8366766178_5998c13dcb_z

2014

 

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.

 

 

 

*I’ve decided to write several flash stories that are inspired by famous first lines. This one is inspired by the first line in George Orwell’s 1984.

****image courtesy of Lee Cannon via Flickr using Creative Commons licensing.

11 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi

Friday Flash: Panic Attack

2010-05-30 18.08.53
She woke to her heart pumping against her chest, the strong, fast rhythm insisting she wake up, jump, and run out the door into the wide, far world.

Damn it, I can’t stand this, she thought, straining her muscles and listening to her joints pop as she sat up and threw her legs over the couch’s side. Isn’t it enough I can’t sleep? She had the life she’d always dreamed of: a home, a loving family, a beautiful son. So why couldn’t she focus on that? Her bones ached from the sofa, but she forced herself up. Tired from another restless night, dreaming that a flood of unpaid bills had washed over her, choking her beneath their weight, fighting for each breath she-

Stop it, stop it, STOP IT. It’s just a dream.

She forced her stiffened legs up the stairs to the kitchen. She needed a caffeine infusion; the steam from her cup carried the scent of ginger, lemon, and camilla sinensis. She breathed deeply. She could still feel her heart pumping furiously in her chest, but she concentrated on her breathing.

Her gasping.

Stop it.

Flashes and red lights went off in her head, but she ignored them. Just another panic attack. Worry could trick the body into a fight or flight response; her mind was playing tricks on her body. Just as soon as the house was repaired and they caught up on their bills, the panic would fade. She would-

Wake up.

-concentrate on the things she could control. Balance the checkbook. Clean the house. Replace the batteries in the fire alarm.

WAKE UP.

Dammit, why couldn’t she calm down? Normally, she could calm herself down once she-

“WAKE UP.”

The volume increased, piercing the artificial veil of reality created by the machine. She opened her eyes to brightly flashing lights. Gasping, she yanked the electrodes from her scalp, heedless of the hair she pulled out in the process. Her eyes stung from the smoke rapidly filling the pod. Deafened by the alarm’s din, she banged against her capsule’s glass door, alternately gasping and choking from heat and asphyxiation.

As she lost consciousness once again, she took grim satisfaction in noting the slumped and lifeless bodies of the AR attendants.

They had sold her on the promise of living her dreams. If she was going to die in them, it was only fitting that they should join her.

 

*This is my first stand-alone flash since posting my serial, so please be kind. Polite feedback is always welcome and appreciated.

12 Comments

Filed under Flash Fiction, scifi