Three Line Tales : Think the same, act the same, obey the same

three line tales week 69: Lego heads

photo by Carson Arias via Unsplash


 

My father used to say, ‘Push a child through school and all you get is a million minds that think the same, act the same, obey the same.’

I guess that’s why he took us away, up to the cabin over the mirror lake. Why our school room was the whispering forest, why we read wolf tracks and deer pellets and badger routes instead of books.

It’s why I’m looking over the city now and not dead within its walls.

 


My, I am churning out the dystopia like nobody’s business these days.

This was written for Sonya’s Three Line Tales and how my mind veered from happy smiley Lego men to the end of the world is anyone’s guess. See here to read the other tales and join in the fun.

Friday Fictioneers : What was here?

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


 

Newt shuffled along the dusty tabletop so Mama could perch next to her.

‘And what was this bit?’ Newt traced the lines on the picture with her finger, the crosscross patterns, the dark bobbles with their raised paint.

‘That was grass, the brown lines are paths. That blue was a lake, the blobs are trees.’ Mama coughed, the sound rattling like dried beans caught in her chest. ‘Let’s go. Dark’s coming.’

As they hurried back to the tunnel and the oildrum fire, Newt tried to imagine Lake, Trees, Grass …

Tried to imagine a world coloured blue and green.

 


 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers, the finest flash writing prompt you’ll find. See here to join in and to read the other, wonderful tales.

 

 

Always old fashioned

They sat in Terry’s office on stiff-backed chairs. Two untouched mugs of tea and a plate of soggy Bourbons perched on reams of paperwork on his desk. Terry didn’t like tea, but he always made himself one when visitors came because it seemed to make people less self-conscious than when they drank alone. Now things such as tea and biscuits seemed old-fashioned in this newly made world. But Terry didn’t mind that. He’d felt old-fashioned since he was a small boy.

The surface of the tea had formed a skin,  wrinkling under the air conditioning like geriatric flesh. He thought of mentioning his observation to the man from the Government – Donald was it? Or Dennis? – but his thoughts often made other people feel uncomfortable. Though Janey had never minded.

The Government man’s suit was as creased as his face, as if he’d used the jacket as a pillow. His skin was greasy, grey as the ring of dirt around his shirt collar. Yes, standards had dropped since the beginning of the outbreak.

Donald / Dennis scratched his forehead with bitten down nails. ‘Doctor Goddard, if you can tell me anything about Doctor Faber’s movements over the last few days. Anything at all.’

The man looked exhausted, but then they all were. He and Janey had taken to napping on the chaise longue in the corner of the office rather than bothering to drive home. They were both single. No one missed them. He gazed at the sofa now, at the threads of gold that could only be strands of her hair.

‘Doctor Goddard. Please. This is a matter of national security.’

‘We were trying to find a cure -‘

Donald / Dennis leaned forward, his tie shifting the papers on the desk. ‘A cure funded by the government, with key research and statistics supplied by our departments.’

All Terry knew was that she had been there one evening, peering over her notes, twisting her hair on top of her head with a biro, and gone the next morning. He hadn’t noticed the slides were missing until the phone rang.

The Government man’s jaw clenched. ‘I cannot stress how important it is we regain those samples.’

He didn’t mention Janey’s safety, that she was out there alone, the world dying around her.

When Terry had picked up the phone, her voice had been faint and breathy through the receiver. He thought she might have been running. Or crying. ‘I’m sorry, Terry,’ was all she’d said. ‘I’m so very sorry.’

Donald would take the words as an admission of her guilt, but Terry knew them for what they were. A goodbye.

 


I fancied revisiting Terry and Janey, two scientists caught in the jaws of a catastrophic disease outbreak. To read their first outing, When the time comes, see here.

Three Line Tales : Silent Night

 

three line tales week 66: a pylon with red sunset

photo by Adi Ulici via Unsplash


The electricity pylon still stood, though three lines had broken free during winter storms. The metal chords lay where they’d fallen – half-buried in the swaying grass – giving the tower the forlorn air of a skipper having fumbled the rope.

Jim savoured his last pre-rolled cigarette, the tobacco dusty and bitter on his tongue. The workmen hadn’t come to service the tower since before the TV stations put up their test cards for the last time. Since before the screens blacked out for good.

He crushed the cinder under his boot, listened to his final smoky exhalation. And headed for home.


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales – see here to join in and to read the other stories.

Another dystopian vision this week – perhaps it’s because I’m reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage at the moment. It’s good, do take a look.

#tuesdayuseitinasentence : When the time comes

Petri dishes, mould cultures

Image : Pixabay

‘You get your jabs yet?’ Terry Goddard looked at Janey over his half moon glasses, a sad, questioning smile on his lips.

His hair was uncombed, his shirt creased. He owned one tie and in the ten years they’d worked together he’d never had that washed. Until two weeks ago she hadn’t known he lived alone with a largely absent cat and a hyacinth macaw named Fleming. Then the news had somehow leaked through of how awful it was out there – the looting, the violence, the relentless spread of the disease – and they had spent an evening under the flourescent glare of laboratory lights, drinking a ten-year-old Glenfiddich and actually talking.

Now she wished they hadn’t, that they’d remained polite strangers. Imagining his childhood hop picking in Kent, how he nursed his mother through cancer after cancer until it finally stole her away … It would make it all so much harder when the time came.

‘No,’ she said, rubbing tired eyes. ‘I didn’t see the point.’

He lowered his voice. ‘You’ve got to make a show. For the sake of the others.’ He took her hand, gave it the briefest squeeze and was gone, bustling over petri dishes and samples.

She hoped she died first.

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventure’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. Use the word – today it’s JAB – in a post. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

FFfAW : The half-smoked cigarette of joy

Busy airport lounge

Image : Dawn Miller

Every direction

PASSENGERS go

moves the economy

FORWARD

As EconiSlogans went, it was more subtle than

EAT MORE MEAT

and

BUY MORE, SAVE JOBS

the ones Dale remembered from his childhood.

He and the kids from the block had taken up those Slogs, as people jokingly called them, acting out the screen ads that went with the campaign. They’d ape the gravel drive voice of the man in the ad, puffing their chests in a pantomime of his boxy frame, pulling their brows down so low they went cross-eyed.

The joke was, no one in the neighbourhood had money to buy meat – their parents had already lost their jobs.

Now the man from the ad was President – he was paler now, less boxy – and Dale had a job picking litter in the airport lounge. On a good day he’d find a half-smoked cigarette and savour it over his MacCheese dinner.

 


Written for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. See the pic and pic a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

 

What pegman saw : A fiery serpent crosses the Mojave

 

Norm sat on the porch watching the line of tail lights weave through the Mojave. The traffic coiled back and forth, miles along the road to the east and so far back to the west, it faded to dust.

The screen door banged. His wife, Jeanie, placed a cold beer down, the glass already beaded with condensation. She rested a hand on his shoulder, groaned as she lowered herself to sit.

The distant red lights grew fainter, finally vanishing over the horizon. The sun was almost set, scorching the hills scarlet and purple. Something small and scared scuffled under the creosote bushes. The untidy flap of a bat cut the sky.

‘You think it’s what you heard on the radio?’ said Jeanie.

He nodded. She sighed, slipping her hand into his.

‘Got shells for the shotgun?’

‘Yep,’ he said, reaching for his beer.

 


Written for What pegman saw, a prompt based on Google Street View. See here to see this week’s original image and to join in.