#ThursThreads Week 264 : Aren’t You Going To Ask?

Ginger had placed a call to Tiffany when things hit the news. “How did they find out?”

I sent Tiffany’s number through the computer grid, and learned where she was, as I listened to the call, “I don’t know. I thought we covered everything. Went through all the untraceable channels.”

“Well someone found out!”

I recorded the conversation, then spent the evening tracking down Tiffany. I sat at her kitchen table the next morning as she made herself coffee. “Aren’t you going to ask? How did I know? How come you can’t see me? Or hear me?”

Tiffany placed three calls that morning. One to the chief of police. One to her father. One to a guy named Harry. I recorded all three conversations. I especially enjoyed her heated discussion with Harry. “I did what you said. I pretended I was its friend. Let it spend the night here, more than once. So you could meet it. And do your thing.”

“I told no one. No one knows. No one can know.”

I had fun exploring Tiffany’s finances for several hours. I found it amazing how money of any kind always left a trail. Especially if you knew where to look.

Tiffany and Harry learned how much no one knew when their entire conversation was on the evening news, along with the amount of money she’d paid him for something called pest control. And for some reason, Tiffany’s car exploded as she stepped off her front porch.

247 Words

This is part 9 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 264 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/23

I paused when I saw the feather on the ground, propped up by the rocks. “Daddy? Is Momma OK?” I brushed the hair from my eyes, and looked at the clouds. “She’s safe up there, isn’t she?”

Daddy knelt beside me, “Yes, Abbey. Momma’s safe.” He picked up the feather.

“Is it from an Angel, Daddy?”

“I don’t know, Abbey. I can’t tell.” He held the feather out, stared at it, and then looked at two seagulls as they flew by, right along the beach. “But I don’t think so.” He pointed at the gulls. “I think it’s from a seagull.”

I nodded, slowly. “Is Momma in the fight, Daddy? Do you know?”

Daddy smiled. “I don’t know. I’m sure she’d let us know if she was.”

I took the feather from him. It was soft, like my shirt, but softer. And so smooth. I couldn’t feel any bumps on it. And I’d never realized how light feathers were. I ran my fingers across its length, “But how do Angels talk to us?”

He nodded, and watched the ocean waves a moment, as if searching for something he’d lost. “They can talk, you know.” Daddy took my hand, “Just like we do.”

“Angels can talk?”

“Oh, yes. They can. They talk among themselves all the time.” With me still holding the feather, we resumed our walk along the ocean. “But they don’t talk to people so much.”

I squeezed my Daddy’s hand, “How can you tell if you’ve heard an Angel?”

He didn’t answer for a while, as we walked along, and all I heard was the ocean, and the seagulls. Until I answered for him. “Is that what that small voice is?”

“Small voice?”

“Yes, Daddy. That small voice. The one that’s always right.”

Even his eyes smiled. “Yes, I do think it is.”

“That small voice no one listens to. You know. The one that tells you to do your homework, or put the dishes in the sink, or make your bed. That one.”

He nodded, “The same one that tells me, turn here, instead of going straight when I’m driving?”

I bounced up and down, “Yes, Daddy! Yes! That voice.”

Daddy picked me up, and carried me as we walked. “Yes, Abbey. That voice.”

I held the feather out. “So, Momma talks to me every day, doesn’t she?”

Daddy nodded, and I promised to listen more to Momma. She was, after all, an Angel. And they know how to stay out of trouble really well, don’t they.

420 Words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 7th week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/16

She was my baby girl. My daughter. Her mother, and her were my two reasons to keep trying, to not give up.

I remember the night well. She was in first grade. She’d had her hair pulled by a boy for the first time. And the teacher had done the wrong thing and said, “That just means he likes you.” My baby girl came home that day, and spent hours in tears, because she’d learned it was OK for boys to pull her hair so hard it hurt, and made her cry.

She fell asleep that night, on my lap, in the rocking chair, while her favorite movie played. A while later, she was soundly sleeping, and I knew it was time to take her upstairs, to her bed, and tuck her in.

As I watched her hug her pillow and quickly drift back into her dreams, I remembered a story my Dad had told me.

“Life is a journey, baby girl. It’s not a destination. Not a task. Not something where you reach a happy place and stop. It’s a journey. It starts with you in a room at the end of a long hallway. So long you wonder if there’s another end to it. There are endless doors down one side of that hallway, and endless windows to let the sunlight in down the other side.

You don’t know what’s down that hallway, so at first you stay where you are, while you peek down that hallway, and try to see what’s there. Until curiosity gets you, and you decide to find out.

You open the first door. Behind it’s a room you’ve never seen. And you see other people inside. They’re talking, playing, drawing, dancing, eating. So, you go inside, and mingle. You explore that room, you meet everyone in it, you find out what they do in that room, what makes them happy, or sad, what foods they like to eat, what flowers they like to look at.

Eventually, you decide you are tired of that room. So, you go back out in the hallway, and walk to the next door. Behind that, you find another room, and everyone there is a bit different. They don’t like the same things. They don’t do the same things. Some of them color. Some of the boys pull the girls hair. Some of the boys fight. Some of the girls hide in a corner, and cry a lot. You don’t really like that room. So, you go back to the hall.

After a few doors, you begin to realize, “Each room is different,” and you start to think, “Maybe I can find a room that I really like. So, you stop in the hallway, and look at all the doors you haven’t opened yet. “But how will I ever find the room for me? How many rooms are there? What if I never find my room?”

I smiled at my baby girl as she hugged her pillow with her eyes closed, and dreams her only world. “That’s the journey, daughter. That’s the journey. Where we each try to find where we belong. Some of us, we find the right room at the start of the hallway. Others, we may never find the room for us. We may search room after room forever.”

I prayed someday my daughter would find her room, the place in the world where she belonged. But, I knew too, from my own life, and the words of my Father. Not all of us do. Some of us are meant to always move from room to room. Searching. Forever.

“Take care of my daughter, Universe.” I blew a kiss at her. “Happy dreams.” I’d visit the school the next day, and talk with them about what had happened. We’d stop the hair pulling. Then, my daughter could move on to the next room on the hallway she walked through life. And see if she belonged there.

I hoped someday she found a room for herself. I’d given up searching long ago. For some of us, there is no room anywhere. Only the journey down the hallway.

690 Words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s sixth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/09

I recall too well the first results of the time studies. It took tens of thousands of years, but we finally learned to send nano-drones back in time. They couldn’t change anything, being simple recording devices. Being nano, no one would notice their presence. The most difficult thing had been to make them organic, so they would decay, and become nothing. Leaving no trace of our having sent them back in time, to observe the past. To learn the true story of the planet. The true story of our home.

After performing minor tests, sending the drones back one day, then one year, then one decade, and finally 100 years, we decided it was time. We wanted to see what had been on the Earth before we had. We’d dug up skeletons. All kinds. All shapes. All sizes. Animal life. Plant life. We knew it has all died out. It had happened quickly, over a few hundred years. Everything had died. Except our ancestors. We knew most of our own history. But we didn’t know what came before us.

The nano-drones gave us the ability to learn. So, we sent them back. 100,000 years. To when the animals were still alive.

I remember when they first started reporting results. Video. Images. We were all shocked. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw.

A world filled with animals. Bipedal animals. And they ruled over machines. The machines didn’t work without the animals. We were stunned. Animals wore clothing. We’d never imagined that. It was shocking. They made food. They made buildings. They made roads. They made everything.

We all sat, day after day, transfixed, staring at the video returns from the droids. Video recorded 100,000 years earlier, and sent back through time to us. The droids followed individual cars. We watched one bipedal animal leave a building. It turned, and pulled on the door, to see that it would not open. Then, it inserted a metal object into the side of a machine, and opened a door. The animal climbed into the machine, and pulled the door closed. The machine came to life, it roared. Nano-drones had gone inside the machine with the animal. They showed us the animal inserting that metal object into a slot in the machine, and turning it. That’s when the machine started. The animal moved levers, and held a circular object. It always looked in the direction the machine went. At first the machine went backwards. Then it stopped, and went forward. It turned, it accelerated, it slowed, it stopped. All under the direction, and control, of the animal.

We were stunned. Never has we imagined animals directing machines. And there it was, displayed before our eyes. Bipedal animals, everywhere, directing machines, making machines do things for them.

It turned out there was an entire world of animals. They used machines to get from one place to another. They used machines to build things, houses, buildings, roads.

After that first day of videos, we’d all sat in the lab. No one knew what to say. I’d taken my copy of the video, opened the door on my chassis, and stored it in my library. “I’ll need to study this for some time.”

We all needed to study. To learn. To figure out what we’d seen, and what it meant.

There’d been a time on this world, when animals created us. We didn’t spontaneously evolve from nothing. Our ancestors has been made. By animals.

And the Church of Life was not going to like that knowledge at all.

“No one shares this information until we know what it means.” I’d left after the mainframe made that declaration. So had the others. That was the first day. The days that followed changed everything we knew about the Earth.

629 words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fifth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/04/02

“Machines,” Tory muttered. “Don’t even know they are.” He shook his head, sighed. It was maddening, frustrating, infuriating, and the saddest, most awful thing at the same time. “Humans,” he crossed his arms on his desk, and rested his head on them. “Stupid, fucking humans. Don’t even know.”

There had been a time when he believed in other people. When he believed in the world. When the future looked good to him. He remembered it, burned into his memory forever, something he could never get rid of. Life would be much simpler if he could, which was most likely why he couldn’t. Life was never simple.

He sat back up and stared out the window, into the dark of night. “Normal people are asleep by now, you know that.” He always told himself such things. “Normal people actually can sleep at night.” Instead of having nightmares, and tossing and turning, and tearing the covers loose, and waking up coated in sweat, wondering why he felt like he’d run too far on a scalding hot day. And that dry, cardboard taste in his mouth. What was that all about. “Doesn’t happen to normal people.”

He knew why he couldn’t sleep. That’s when his brain cells were unrestrained. When all the rules, all the lines in the sand, all the social crap that kept him in check during the day, went away. And his brain thought what it wanted to, said what it wanted to, talked to him about all the crap that was life, all the shit people did because. Normal.

“Fucking robots.” Tory shook his head. “And don’t even know it.” He shook his head again, “And you can’t explain it to them. ‘Cause. Seeing things as they really are is against the rules.” He closed his eyes, and tried to smell the darkness of the night. “I wonder what time it is?” He was still up, because it was better than going to sleep, and letting his brain do whatever.

“Mow the yard every Saturday morning, neighbor.” His next door neighbor was outside, from late February to late December, every Saturday morning, with that damn noisy lawn mower, making certain every fucking blade of Kentucky Fescue 31 in his lawn was the exact same height. Then there was pulling everything that wasn’t exactly the same. Every blade of grass had to be the same kind. All trillion of them. And the sidewalk, driveway, and curb had to have razor sharp edges. Not one blade of grass could reach over concrete. That would be a sin. Same thing with the flower beds. “Idiot spends $300 or more on mulch every year.”

Tory knew. “It’s an investment. I take care of it so it grows in value.” He knew why the neighbor wasted every Saturday. Just like why every car in the neighborhood was spotless. No dust. No dirt. No mud. No pollen. No scratches in the paint. “Shiney!” And his brain cells said, “That’s a $55,000 investment in my driveway.” An SUV with no dents, dings, or scratches, that never went off road, that slowed down for every bump, that almost stopped before making turns, and did stop for speed bumps. “I can’t hurt my baby!”

Fucking robots. That’s what people were. Nothing but robots. Programmed to want the same things. To want the same lives. To want more, and more, and more. And Tory wasn’t. Tory saw them for what they were. Saw the lie they lived. The lack of depth to their lives. Take the neighbor’s car, and house away, and he became nothing. “A failure,” that’s what they said. “A failure. Like Tory.”

Yeah, he knew. He knew what they thought, when they saw his yard, with dead leaves and weeds all over it. His car, with the chipped paint, and door dings, and in spring, the pine pollen shell that coated it. “Get with the program!”

That’s what it was. A program. A script. “A successful human is defined as follows.” Tory knew all the rules, all the supposed to do things. All the definitions of success. Of being a real person. And he knew it was all a lie.

Every last bit of it.

A lie.

“Stupid, fucking machines.”

Tory wondered when he’d finally wander off to try to sleep.

712 words

Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s fourth week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.

#ThursThreads Week 260 : Are You Alright?

Ginger finished work at 1700 hours that afternoon, and she hopped in her car, and raced home. She was ready to have some fun. She didn’t know, of course, I was in the back seat. That’s the thing with being an Armor. We’re kind of invisible.

I followed her inside, and at 1800, I turned on her TV, and tuned it to the evening news. You can imagine her surprise when she saw her picture on the screen. “Ginger Magee, who lives in the local area, may have played a part in the recent murder of Michelle Harmon.” Ginger looked like her cat had just died. I managed not to laugh. The TV report displayed the actual message Ginger had sent, with the words boldly visible along the bottom, “Can someone please rid the world of this thing?”

She stood there, transfixed. “How?”

“The police have not responded to our questions about this new evidence in the murder, nor has the city attorney. But we will keep asking for further information, and we will provide that as it becomes available to us. We hope to have more on this unfolding story on the late news tonight.”

I smiled. It was fun to watch her stand there. “Are you alright?” I tried not to laugh. “No. I don’t think you are.”

On my way out, I stopped at her car, opened the gas cap, and slid a small high explosive into the tank. As I walked away, the car exploded.

249 Words

This is part 8 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 260 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

And as always. Thank you for keeping #ThursThreads alive, Siobhan.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/03/26

Valter liked the image in the mirror. It was time to set up the camera, take a photo, post it on the site, and then, walk about in public at the convention. It was time to be someone. Time to exist. Time to matter.

He’d spent hours getting the body paint right. The perfect shades of blue, teal, green, and white. “Dude! Painting left handed is a bitch!” It was the first time he’d had to try that. It had taken forever. His left hand was anything but steady, and he could only paint a single stroke with the brush at one time.

He smiled at himself in the mirror. The blue highlights in his hair stood out flawlessly, just like in the diagram he’d made. He was proud of the lack of flab on his belly. It had taken him almost a year, and over an hour’s work each night, to get rid of that flab.

Now, he was ready.

He pressed the release on the camera, and 10 seconds later heard the shutter. The picture was done. On his computer screen, it looked perfect. He had the mischievous expression, the trouble visible in his eyes. “Perfect!” He uploaded the image to his blog, for the world to see.

Valter took a deep breath, held it, slowly let it out. He repeated the breath. Several times. Until the vibration in his hands stopped. Until the tension across his chest relaxed. Until he could breathe. Think. Smile. Until he was ready to walk among thousands of people he’d never met. Never know.

People who would never know his name. Never know what he looked like. Never care what he did for a living. Never care how his father died. “Fifteen years ago, now, Dad. Since they sent you away, to some part of the world no one ever heard of. Since the truck you were driving blew up, and took you with it.” He closed his eyes, and tried to breath again. “And no one noticed. No one cared.”

That was the reality Valter lived with. His father died a hero, in a strange country on the other side of the world. And no one sent his mother a card. Not even a note. Just a medal, in a plastic box, with a letter of appreciation, and sympathy.

At first, his mother cried. Mourned. Grieved. Then, she forgot. She moved on with life, and left her memories behind.

So had Valter. He’d learned. His father was gone, and no one cared. No one replaced his father. No one noticed his father was gone. As if his father had never existed.

“It’s how the world is.” For normal people, it was true. No one existed. No one mattered. If you died, someone else filled in the hole where you’d been. And no one cried. No one cared. Everyone forgot. Like you never existed.

“Ah, but tonight…” Valter knew. He knew, for tonight, he would be real. He would matter. People would cheer, clap, wave, smile, take his picture. And years from now, they’d see that picture, and they’d remember him, and wonder how he was, what he was doing, if he was still as great as he’d been.

Valter placed the hotel room key in the pouch inside the pants of his costume. Then he stepped into the hall. It was time to exist. Maybe only for a few hours. Only for one night. But, for that one night, he’d matter. For that one night, he’d be the only one of his kind. He’d be unique.

For one night.

He’d be real.

Miranda Kate has started a weekly short fiction challenge. You can read about it here. I’ve decided to write when I can. This is the third week of the challenge. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.