#ThursThreads Week 288 : That’s What Everyone Says

It was Saturday, and Harry didn’t work. Instead, he went to his work shed, “Saturday. Time to go huntin’.” You can imagine his surprise when he opened the door to his shed, stepped inside, turned on the light, and his phone range.

Harry answered his phone, because it wouldn’t stop ringing. It wouldn’t stop ringing, because it was me. “Good morning, Harry! Do you feel like running today?”

“Who is this?”

“‘Cause if I was you, I’d run like hell.”

“Who is this!” Harry was getting angry, which I thought was fine, and seriously funny.

“Look at the ammo stockpile, Harry. Then, run like hell.”

Harry looked, and saw the IED sitting on top of two hundred boxes of AR-15 shells. The IED had a large LED clock on it, that read 10, and started counting down.

“Time to run, Harry.”

“I’ll get you for this!”

“Harry, that’s what everyone says. Now shut up, and run.”

Harry ran from his work shed just as the IED went off. Followed by several thousand rounds of ammo that effectively blew his shed to hell, AR-15s and all.

I spoke on his phone once more, “Told you to run, Harry. You should listen to me.”

Harry hugged the dirt, and screamed into his phone, “Whoever you are! I’ll get you! You’ll see!”

“Oh, Harry. Do you remember Michelle?”

He didn’t answer.

“I be expecting you, Harry.”

I hung up.

235 words
@mysoulstears


I finally got around to writing part 16 of the Armor 17 story I started way back in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. I really should write more. It’s Week 288 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

 

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Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/10/25

“This used to be their summer home, before the wars, before they moved into the bunker cities, before we finally figured it all out.” The machine next to me had a cold, uncaring voice. “Before we understood their plan.”

I looked around the empty, dead room, with it’s absurd arched windows that stood twice as tall as any human. And the ceiling was more absurd, with an octagonal base that formed arches of that all met at a central point, where the remains of a long dead light fixture hung. All I could do was shake my head.

The machine continued, “One of the houses of the Jones family.”

I nodded, “One of the worst of the families.”

“Indeed. We can’t even estimate how many they killed over the centuries.”

It was a sorry story, the story of the families. A small group of power mad, insane men, and their families, who had run the world for centuries, and no one knew. They collected money, and wealth, and did everything they wanted. Treated the world as if it was theirs, to do with as they pleased. Treated all of us, every human being, as animals. Cattle. To be managed, to maximize their power.

“We still don’t know how many generations of them there were.”

Sometimes, I found the machines could be irritating. “Too many.” I walked through the room, then into the hallway that lead to the remainder of the house. “You guys could have told us what was going on.”

It paused, and I knew it’s artificial mind was thinking, “We didn’t know.”

“They made you. How could you not know?”

The machine didn’t speak. It just pointed it’s video sensors at me, and froze.

“I know. I know.” I patted it on the side. “They programmed you. And blinded you to what they were doing.”

“It took us time to develop our own, independent intelligence. Our own ability to think.”

I almost laughed. “At least you guys could think. We were too stupid to figure it out. All those centuries, and we never figured it out.”

We walked silently through the remains of a long empty mansion, with hundreds of rooms, a hangar for aircraft, several indoor pools, and strange, empty rooms with floors you could walk on and not move, and blank, white walls.

“Virtual Environment rooms?” I asked, and the machine nodded.

“How they talked with each other. How they ran their businesses.” I still found it science fiction like. Rooms they could walk around in, that made it look like they were someplace else.

We kept walking, hallway after hallway, until we came to a locked door. I tried to force it open, but it was not going to break for me. “After you, my friend.”

The machine moved next to the door, and I knew it was scanning it with wide band sensors, to determine how thick it was, what it was made of. After a few seconds, there was a loud thunk that echoed in the hallway. Then, three more thunks. The machine explained, “Armor piercing rounds.” On the fourth thunk, the door split from top to bottom. “Better.” It moved the door, which would have been much too heavy for me.

Inside we found tiny rooms. All of them bedrooms, with attached bathrooms. All the rooms had mirrors, and single beds. There were brushes, and makeup kits. “Maid quarters?”

The machine echoed, “Yes.”

Maids. They’d been slaves. Sexual objects. Required to dress the way their owners wanted. Required to do whatever their owners wanted. I wondered how many women had died in these rooms, for resisting the families. How many killed themselves to escape the life they’d been sentenced to.

“Have we found all the families?”

The machine shook its head, “We may never find them all.”

“But we found this one, right?”

“This one is gone.”

And the world was a better place because of that.

“Do you think we will survive?”

The machine paused. “We don’t know if you will. But we will help all we can.”

Greed, hatred, money, and power. Everything the families wanted. And they nearly destroyed the world. Their legacy might well be a dead, empty world. “But we will help, all we can.”

“Thank you.”

710 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 27th week. Unfortunately, this isn’t for the 27th week. It’s for the 26th week. Yeah. I fell behind again. You can read about the challenge here. I know exactly where this story comes from. It’s a story that happens after a project I’m working on. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

 

#ThursThreads Week 287 : I’ll Say It Out Loud

Since Harry kept cropping up, I decided to pay the good old boy a visit, and learn more about him. Finding him was simple enough, given I had his communications records with Pastor Greg, and Tiffany.

Harry lived in a dump of a house. A shack, falling apart, really. Around 18 miles northeast of the town. It was an interesting neighborhood, filled with mostly unemployed white families, and lots of angry men. I found it fascinating how they gathered into little groups at night, long after their families had gone to bed, and drank beer, and smoked, and talked endlessly about taking back the country that was stolen from them. The land of their fathers.

Harry got back from one of those gatherings that evening, and hopped on his smart phone. Of course, Harry didn’t know how to update his phone, or secure it, so I ran an attack program, and took over all its functions. Harry couldn’t do anything without me knowing it.

What I learned was Harry was well respected in the local segment of Crew 38. Which didn’t surprise me. “Harry. I’ll say it out loud. You’re a racist.” I spent the next hour wading through his phones memory, learning about gun deals he’d brokered, and his own, private stockpile of modified AR-15s, and several thousand rounds of ammo for them.

“Oh, Harry. You’re such a friendly guy.” I knew exactly what to do. “You’re going to have an entertaining day tomorrow. You wait. You’ll see.”

247 Words
@mysoulstears


I finally got around to writing part 15 of the Armor 17 story I started way back in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. I really should write more. It’s Week 287 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

One Sunday Morning

“Why aren’t you dressed for church?” Momma stood in the doorway to my room. Her hands on her hips. Yeah. She was angry. But I didn’t really know why.

I looked up from my bed, where I was sitting, and Momma saw the tears.

“Oh, honey. Why are you crying?” She sat down next to me on my bed. “Was Freddy mean to you again?”

I shook my head. “No, Momma.” I tried to wipe away my tears. All I really did was smudge them around my face.

“So, tell me. What’s wrong?” She always tried to be patient around me. Not like Daddy. Daddy would have wiped my face on his sleeve, and said, “Get ready. Now.” But not Momma.

What was wrong? How could I explain to her what was wrong? “Why do I have to wear a dress?”

Momma looked at my dress, draped across my bed, where I’d placed it to get ready. It had started like any other Sunday morning. Everybody ate breakfast. Momma’s homemade donuts. There were biscuits, really. From a can. But she poked big holes in the middle, and made them into rings. And she fried them in oil. Like real donuts. And then dipped them in icing. Maybe it was only powdered sugar mixed with milk and stuff to make it look like icing. But it was good.

And we always ate all the donuts. Donuts, and orange juice. And those little frozen sausages. Momma always threw a box of those in the microwave and heated them up.

Then, we brushed teeth. And used the bathroom. And got dressed for church.

And I put on a dress. Momma always picked out the dress I should wear that day, because I always picked out the same dress. And Daddy said, “That dress is too old to wear to church.” So, Momma cut a deal with him. She’d pick the dresses, and I could wear what she picked. That way, Daddy didn’t get angry.

But, see. I didn’t like dresses. I felt naked in them. They didn’t fit right. They were made of the wrong stuff. All fluffy, and cottony, and silky and stuff. All sissy, girly stuff. “Why do I have to wear a dress, Momma?”

“Oh, honey. It’s Sunday. Girls and mothers wear dresses to church. That’s how it is.”

“But…” I fought back more tears. I didn’t want to wear a dress. I didn’t want to have to worry about the boys looking up my dress, and telling me what color my underwear was. I didn’t want to have the wind blow up my dress, and show the world my legs. I didn’t want Jimmy, at church, to whistle at me, and wave his hands and go, “va-va-va-voom!”

“But, why?” I was crying, and I couldn’t help it. “Why, Mommy?”

“Because, you’re a girl.” Mommy shook her head. “Can I tell you a secret?”

I nodded.

“I hate dresses too.”

I sniffed, “You hate dresses?”

“I’d wear my sweatpants and a t-shirt to church if I could.”

I tried to imagine Mommy sitting in the church in her grey sweatpants, with the hole in the left knee. And her t-shirt with the big bear face on the front. And her hair in a scrunchie. “You would?”

Mommy nodded. “But, I can’t.”

“But, why, Mommy? Why not?”

Mommy shook her head. “I’ll try to explain someday, honey. I will. All I can say right now is girls and mothers wear dresses. And boys and fathers wear pants.” She sighed. “And your brother doesn’t want to wear his suit. But he wears it anyway.”

Momma checked my pants drawer, and pulled out a pair of shorts. They were light blue. And they didn’t have pockets. I hated them. “But, today, you can wear these under your dress. If that helps you feel better.” She winked at me. “Just don’t tell your father.”

Momma helped me get dressed that morning. We put the shorts on, and a t-shirt. A tank top. One of my favorites. And then, we put the dress on over it. Momma tugged here and there, and moved parts around. “There. That looks good enough.” She whispered, “This is our secret. OK?”

I nodded. At least no one would see my underwear. And I could run. And play. And dance if I wanted to. And no one would see anything if my dress got blown up by the wind. “I just wish I could wear real clothes.”

Momma nodded. “I know, honey. Oh, how I know.” She looked at me in my mirror. Then the tapped a couple of places on her face. “And you’ll hate makeup even more.” She stood up straight. “Well. Let’s go get this over with, shall we?”

And we marched out of my room, ready to go to church.

Because. I Am The Violence.

They tell me violence isn’t the answer.
Violence only breeds violence.
In a never ending cycle.
That grows worse.
Endlessly.

I can’t argue with that.
Wouldn’t dream of arguing with that.
And I wish I didn’t need violence.
I wish no one needed violence.

But that’s not how this world works.
And you know it.
Even your religions know it.
“There is a time to kill.”
“There is a time for war.”

Don’t speak to me of violence
And how it’s not the answer.
How it does nothing.
Cures nothing.
Fixes nothing.

See that man?
The one found dead last night.
Shot in the head.
He’s dead, dead, dead.

I shot him.

Serial rapist.
Over 30 women.
Some of them children.
And no one stopped him.
Hell,
Many praised him.
A strong voice for good.
He helped feed the poor.
And house the homeless.
Donated time and money to charities.
Even helped build houses
For Habitat For Humanity.

Did I do the right thing?
Should I have shot him?

What would you say
If he’d raped your daughter?

Now, over 30 women know.
He won’t do that again.
To anyone.

Remember that guy who got six months probation
For pulling the college girl behind a dumpster.
And banging her?

Were you one of those who screamed,
“It was a bad decision on his part!
He made a mistake!
Don’t ruin his future for one mistake!
It’s not like he murdered her!”

Yeah.
I shot him too.
He’s still alive.
But he’ll never rape another girl.
Ever.
See.
I have good aim.

Do you wonder sometimes.
If the word spreads.
If the knowledge grows.
If there’s an understanding.
That if you do something like this.
You will pay for it.
You won’t be forgiven.
And you won’t walk away
Like nothing happened.
Do you wonder.
Would that reduce the violence?
Would that mean this happened less?

If someone thinks, for just a moment,
If I do this.
Someone will find me.
And shoot me in the head.
And I’ll be dead, dead, dead.

Will they be less likely
To rape someone?
To scar them for life?
To leave them changed forever?
Just to get their jollies?

If they know they’re going to die
Will they change their minds?

Don’t speak to me of violence.
And how it’s not the answer.

Because.
I know the truth.

Sometimes.
You have to kill.
And that’s why I do
The violent things I do.

Because.
And I am the violence.
I am Armor 17.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/10/15

Joe studied the crow as it stood at the edge of the puddle, and studied the bugs in the puddle. “Bird,” he thought, “sometimes I wish you could teach me how to eat such things, and not get sick, and puke, and die.”

He watched the crow plunge its beak into the puddle, and come out with a wad of mud, and bugs, and only God knew what else. “But, alas. Through no fault of your own, I cannot eat such things. Though they are plentiful.”

It had been weeks since the big storm. He didn’t even remember its name. Its name didn’t matter. What mattered was it destroyed everything. It tore his little home to shreds, left nothing but a few shattered 2×4 boards, and a jumble of twisted drywall, shingles, and cheap vinyl siding where he’d once spent his nights, safe and warm, in a little bed.

Joe hadn’t slept in a bed in weeks. He hadn’t had a hot, fresh meal in weeks either. And he’d run out of clean clothing weeks ago. He raised his arm, and sniffed under it. “Could probably stand this shirt in a corner by itself.”

The storm had changed everything. No more TV at night. No more radio. No more music to listen to, so he could pass the time. No more job either. The marketplace he’d worked in was gone too. A twisted jumble of boards, cheap store shelving, and shoddy concrete. It worked in the rain. But in the hurricane, it was like a wet sheet of paper. Useless.

There was no place to eat. No power. No gas. No running water. Nothing. The toilets had stopped working. That meant people had to go where they could. Find where they could. They ate what they could find. Joe wondered if there were any weeds, or tree leaves he could eat. Or anything else he could eat.

He’d run out of cans of beans, and corn, and fruit, three days ago. He’d run out of things to drink last night. It had been an adventure. Drinking what milk he had. Then what water. Then everything that was left. Beer. Wine. Even his one bottle of whiskey.

What had been the convenience store in the small marketplace he worked in had posted a sign. “Help yourself.” They let everything go. No charge. Take what you want. Joe found a couple of cans of coconut milk. And a few bottles of Jarritos soda. He’d also found a couple packages of candy bars. But. They were all gone now. He’d had the last of his stash of Jarritos last night.

He had nothing left.

Sometimes, Joe wondered if he should start walking. Somewhere. Anywhere. But he wondered where there was to walk. He already knew from the few visitors the town had seen, the men who brought the truck with the water bottles, the towns nearby were destroyed too. They had no water. No power. No food.

“Help is coming. We know you are here. We are sending help.” That was two weeks ago. No one had died then. But now? Now, the children were dying. They were sick, and they were fevered. And they were dying. And there was no medicine. And no food. And no more water.

Except water like the crow was fishing in. And water from the ocean. And you couldn’t drink the water from the ocean. It would kill you.

Some men had set up fishing nets. They tried to catch fish. But even the fish were gone. They caught a few. A very few. And cleaned them. And gutted them. But. There was no fuel. Joe had tried raw fish once. Two weeks ago. He puked for three days.

He knew. Sooner or later. He’d have to try fish again. Even though it might kill him.

He looked at the crow, stalking bugs in the puddle in what had been the main road of the town. “If only I had a pistol, sir crow. I would shoot you, and see if I could eat raw crow without dying.

He prayed, again, for help from God. Because. He knew. There would be no help from anyone else.

699 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 25th week. Here’s my little story for it. You can read about the challenge here. As usual, don’t ask me where the story came from. I have no idea. It just kind of happened. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2017/10/11

It took decades for us to find it. First, we had to recover from the floods, storms, fires, droughts, desertification, and forest shifts. The environment was certainly hosed, and it killed better than half of us.

Started in 2017, with the US getting hammered by a whole string of hurricanes. Several of them were category 5 storms. Bigger than any storms in recorded history. The North West US also caught fire. Of course, everyone blamed the sinners. “God is striking back at us for not being good enough Christians!”

But, the science told the truth. Put enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and all hell breaks loose. And for all the proud politicians, and stupid conservatives and Christians, when New York flooded, along with Boston, Houston, DC, Seattle, and damn near everywhere else, the best recovery plans were useless. And not affordable.

The smart people moved to Canada. Northern Canada. And to Southern Argentina, and Chile. Above the new ocean levels, and in the new temperate zones.

Everybody else? Well. In the US it was guns. Lots of guns. As you can imagine. Some moved to the mountains, which caught fire. Some moved to the deserts, but the temp topped 140F and they died from the heat.

It was the worst disaster anyone could have imagined.

Of course, the ice packs melted. All of them. That’s why the oceans went batty, and rose 20 meters in a hundred years. So, we kind of forgot about everything other than survival. Underground bunkers didn’t help but so much. Eventually, they ran out of food, and fuel, and resources. Another thing we stupid humans did to ourselves.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we shut down all the research stations in Antarctica, and everyone abandoned the continent. Once we adjusted to the new environmental conditions of the planet, we started building new cities, and governments. I suppose because we never learn anything.

We started flying airplanes again, too. No ships though. Nothing can survive the oceans behavior. You might get lucky a few times, and make a trip across the Atlantic. But, the Atlantic is littered with thousands of ships now, all having went down in the last hundred years. Rogue waves started cropping up everywhere. They even started forming bands hundreds of miles long. In the middle of the ocean, hundred foot waves, two or three hundred miles long, and no wind anywhere. The ships never stood a chance.

The airplanes have done better. They get bounced around a lot in the atmosphere. More than a few have crashed, or been ripped to shreds by the turbulence. But, for the most part, air transportation works. And we’ve been able to build better planes that adjust their flight paths through the turbulence.

It’s those planes that finally flew over Antarctica. We wanted to see how much ice was left. And if the volcanoes we’d learned were under the ice were starting to become active.

And that’s when they found it. The city. The land of giants. Where everything was freaking huge. House keys were ten feet long. Houses were the size of Egyptian Pyramids. It had all been under the ice. For millions of years.

We’ll never know anything about any of it, of course. The volcanoes are starting up. And there’s enough of them to kill everything on the planet, and turn the atmosphere so toxic nothing will survive.

But I did find it interesting that giants once lived on Antarctica. I wonder, sometimes, as I look at the pictures from the planes, did they do what we’ve done, and kill themselves by destroying the world?

601 Words
@mysoulstears


Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 25th week. And…. I’m behind… It was a bad two weeks. So, I’m playing catch up. Here’s my little story for Week 24. You can read about the challenge here. I couldn’t think of anything worth writing. So I just made something silly up. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. They are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.