#ThursThreads Week 309 : Answer Me, Damn It

I stopped at Shelly’s Diner, to find her inside, with her two daughters, hiding behind the counter. Shelly had called the police. The police hadn’t come. Angry men were outside, with their guns, getting angrier.

All it took was one of them, shooting out a window, and they all went nuts. Guns shooting everywhere. And one gun shooting back. One that didn’t miss. “Because, guns are clearly the answer to your problems.”

I left bodies all over the road outside the diner. My armor scanned the diner, to verify Shelly and her daughters were safe.

Outside was pure chaos. People were screaming, and running toward the bodies in the road. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Police sirens suddenly started going off. Police cars arrived, and officers hopped out, guns drawn. There was no one for them to find. No bad guy for them to capture.

A woman across the road screamed, “We know you’re there! Somewhere! Why are you doing this! Why are you killing everyone! Answer me, damn it!”

Everyone stopped, and it became silent, when I displayed a hologram of Michelle’s brutalized body in the street. Next to it, another hologram, of Officer S. Morgan, sitting at her desk as she said, “A transgender victim? Nothing has been done yet.”

And everyone heard a voice whisper, “I am the violence. Now, something has been done.”

I moved on. There was a car dealership I needed to visit.

240 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 309 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/03/25

It was a heartless, brutal thing to do, but it was the punishment everyone had agreed to. Those who seek to create art, who seek to express themselves through art, be it painting, sculpting, writing, or even building castles of sand on a beach somewhere, were to be cast into stone. Their bodies encased in a mold, which was then filled with melted, white hot stone. That white hot stone burned away the body, and replaced it in the mold. Always, the stone was pumped into the mold, from the bottom, to the top, starting at the criminal’s feet, and reaching their head last.

Those who sought art, books, paintings, jewelry, different clothing, different colors of hair, anything that was not approved by the community, were jailed. Placed in slave labor camps, doomed to work in dangerous jobs their remaining days. None of them ever lived to die of old age. They died on the job.

These were the rules. These were the laws, passed down through generations. Everyone knew the stories, taught since birth. The stories of the great wars. Of the rebellions. The religious campaigns. The fights for freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of thought. Everyone knew of the great works of art people once made. And the cost those works of art brought with them.

It was all gone, of course. In the name of peaceful coexistence, we’d eliminated everything that caused those wars. There were no books. No paintings. No sand sculptures. No porcelain. Nothing. It was all gone. The creative soul that had once made us great, that once made us reach for the stars, build great buildings, great cities, great monuments, museums, and machines. That was gone too. Everything was the same. Everything, everywhere. The same. Even the people of the nations were the same. You were born, and your genetic code was read, and analyzed, and that determined how you would best serve the world. Whether you would dig holes in the ground, pull cable through those holes, pull weeds out of yards, darn socks, cut hair. It didn’t matter what you wanted. Your genetic structure defined what you did, and what you were best at.

And the wars were gone. There hadn’t been any wars, or even any terrorist acts, in over two hundred years. We were a people at peace. A people that treasures its work, it’s eternal growth. Our population on our world is greater than it has ever been. We have one economy. One company. One leader. One religion. One medicine. One of everything we need. One is all we need.

I never understood why anyone would risk being turned to stone for the sake of something they called self expression. In pursuit of something they called freedom. I could not understand how anything could be worth being locked into a mold, to slowly suffocate, and to be burned alive, by molten stone.

And yet, every few years, there was another such event. And more statues of the dead to place in the public squares of the world, so people would know what happened to those who dared to be different. To those who dared learn of the ways that caused all the wars of the past. Statues of the criminals. To remind us forever, of how to live, and how to be.

Why would anyone risk being turned into such an example?

So it was that I bore witness to the execution of the married couple. Their forms replaced by stone that would last for centuries. A reminder of the cost in human lives their search for creativity had caused. A reminder to never return to those ways, and the wars they caused.

617 Words

This is written for Week 47 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. It’s just the beginning of an idea. I haven’t figured the words out yet. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

#ThursThreads Week 308 : I Need You To Take A Deep Breath

Julie, Samantha’s neighbor, was hiding under the bed in her room when the white men with guns broke the front door to the house, and charged in. She heard them screaming, “We’re gonna kill everyone! We’ll put a stop to all this crazy shit that’s happened since that thing got what it deserved!” She heard them screaming about finding the little bitch girl who was friends with that thing down the road.

Julie tried not to cry. The armor told me she was stressed. I wondered how her parents were doing, if they were OK. I knew, all I had to do was wait.

I heard the angry men come storming up the stairs. I heard their guns going off all over the downstairs. I waited, until the door to Julie’s room slammed open, and two fat, balding, white men stood there, with AR-15’s pointed into the room. “She’s in here! Under the bed!”

One took a step forward. It was his last step. A 24 inch long knife blade ran through him, and stuck out his back. His buddy stood there in shock, but not long, before he joined the first one.

“Julie. I know you can hear me. I need you to take a deep breath. Close your eyes, and take a deep breath.” With that, I stepped into the hall.

Not one of the white men with guns walked out of Julie’s home.

It was time to protect others. And kill who I had to.

247 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 308 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.


Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/03/18

Odin carefully fluffed the cotton, it was work to get it looking right. It had to have the right density in the middle, to be opaque, but still be thin enough around the edges to let light through. Making copies of clouds out of cotton was one of the things he found most frustrating about the simulation. But, the scene needed clouds, so, he futzed around with the cotton until he got it right. He positioned his cotton cloud on the loading dock, and waited for the imager’s two arms to lift it, and place it against the screen. It took a couple of minutes, but the image was copied into the scene, and the cotton cloud was returned to the loading dock.

His mother, Freya, came into the lab to check on him, “How is the simulation going, young one?”

“And hello to you also, Mother.”

Freya’s laugh was always like music to his ears, “Oh, my son. Always so proper.” He thought she had the prettiest smile in the world. “Hello, Odin, son. How is the simulation going today?”

Odin glanced at his mother, then looked back to the screen, “Frustrating, as always.”

“Is it helping you understand reality?”

“Very much so. I’ve learned how clouds form from evaporated water that floats in the sky. How the water in those clouds behaves. When it produces what kind of clouds. When it rains. I’ve learned it affects the motion of the air. It also absorbs, and reflects heat and starlight.”

He knew his mother was proud of him by her smile. “Excellent, my son. Your father would be proud.”

Odin leaned back in his chair. “Mother. I have some questions.”


“About the simulation itself.”

Freya stood next to her son, and nodded, “Then ask. And we can see what we can learn.”

“It’s about the life forms in the simulation.” Odin pointed at several of what he called humans, as they walked into the screen from the left. “I know they become sentient, able to think. This is how we learn to think, and to understand that thinking is. But.” He paused, and scratched his chin, “Does their simulated intelligence reach a point they become self aware?”

“Self aware?”

“Mother, do they become aware they are not real? Do they learn, and understand, they are only simulations? Holograms, in a virtual reality?”

Freya’s laughter always brought a smile to Odin’s world, and lightened any dark mood he had. “Oh, yes. They do indeed become aware.”

“What happens when they do?”

“That is part of what you must experience. That is part of what you must learn.” She studied him a moment, and continued, “You will not notice at first, because it will be like how you think. Only one will understand. And will try to explain. Then, with time, as the simulation proceeds…”

Odin continued for her, “Then others will learn from that one. And the knowledge will spread.”

Odin looked at the scene from his virtual world, portrayed on the screen. “Mother. I suspect I should enjoy the simulation while I can.” He scrolled the screen from one scene to another. “I suspect the understanding they are not real will destroy them.”

Freya nodded. “Indeed, my son. Indeed. I find your suspicion is well thought out.” She headed toward the exit from the lab. “Please, let me know how the simulation progresses. And I will be back when it is time for you to take a lunch break.”

Odin resumed watching the scenery of his simulation. “A 3D Holographic Universe”, was the name of the science project. He wondered how the simulations of Jupiter, and Zeus were going. If they were producing similar results.

“Sometimes, the ways we learn are mysterious indeed. Why we need to simulate an entire universe to understand our own is beyond me. But… I suppose, with time, I’ll understand why we do such things.”

He checked on the places his simulated life forms had christened “Britain” and “France”, and shook his head. “Oh. Look. They’ve gone to war with each other again. This religion thing they developed is really nasty, isn’t it?” He scribbled more notes in his observation log. “They can’t even agree on how to worship a single, imaginary, omnipotent being. They have to kill each other to prove who is right.”

Simulations were indeed difficult. But Odin could see, as he looked over his notes, there was much to be learned about emotions, and environments, and how those affected the behavior of himself, and of those around him.

“It will be interesting indeed, to see what happens next in my little universe.”

Odin watched, and waited, curious to see what he could learn, and to see what his various life forms did next.

794 Words

This is written for Week 46 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2018/03/14

The old man hobbled along, and I thought his cane was the only thing that kept him standing. “So. Any words of wisdom, old guy?”

He swept his arm in an arch, “Used to be a hospital.”

“A hospital?”

“Yeah.” He paused. I knew this was part of learning what had been. About the world he’d grown up in. “Where sick people came. Where hurt people came. To get medicine. To get broken bones splinted. To get stitches. To get saved when they got sick.”

We walked through the old building. Shattered tiles on the walls, parts of lights hanging down, here and there, missing drop ceilings that revealed a hodgepodge of pipes, tubes, cables, and duct-work. Stained concrete floors, the flooring long removed, stolen for other uses.

“Sentara Norfolk General, they called it.” He wandered through the halls, past empty rooms with remains of beds, broken windows, lamps, and strange machines that no longer worked, and looked like they hadn’t worked in decades. Dust, and dirt, and mold were everywhere. So were the bugs, and the rats.

“It’s where your father was born. And your Aunt.” He shook his head. “I remember so much.”

I walked beside him, and let him take his time. I had no idea how old he was. Only that he was a survivor. One who lived through it all. The collapse. The war. The hatreds. The chemicals and germs. And the machines.

He’d lived to see the families fall. When the machines finally learned who they were. And what they’d done.

“Your Grandmother used to work here.” The old man smiled. He didn’t smile much. When he did, I knew he was remembering something important to him. Something that mattered. “I asked her to stay away. Knew what was coming.” He stared at the ground for a while. Didn’t move. I thought he didn’t even breathe. “She said she had to try. She had to do all she could. So save as many as she could.”

The old man hobbled over to a broken window, and stared out at the ruins that surrounded what he called a hospital. “Damn poison. It killed so many. Hunted down red blood cells, and killed them. Strangled the body. Inside out.”

He turned to me, “She went to work one day. A double shift. And never came home. No one called. But I knew. I knew.”

He stared out the window again. “What happened to the families? It wasn’t nearly enough.” The old man took a deep breath, slowly let it out. “They should have killed them one cell at a time. And made it last for years. Made their existence living hell. Made them die slowly, painfully.”

I put my hand on the old man’s shoulder. “Grandpa. I know. But, it’s all over now. The war. The germs. The gasses. The families. It’s all gone.”

My grandfather covered my hand with his. “I know.” He took another deep breath. “It’s time to start again.”

I nodded. “Maybe this time, we’ll learn.”

Grandfather smiled. “Maybe. Only time will tell.”

He lead me around what had once been Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Showed me where my grandmother had once worked. Told me of the miracles they’d performed there. The lives they’d saved. And the lives they’d brought into the world.

“Now, we have the machines. We don’t need hospitals anymore.”

He nodded. “We don’t need hospitals anymore.”

568 Words

This is written for Week 45 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Yeah. I’m a day late. Sorry. You can read about Miranda’s small fiction challenge here. Please, go read Miranda’s short tale this week, and any others that showed up. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing.

#ThursThreads Week 306 : I Can’t See Anymore

I waited patiently for morning rush hour, knowing it was the best time to set chaos free. To respond to those who had used guns and violence the night before.

George was waiting patiently for the light to change from red to green when I shot the windows of his car.

Frank was driving on the city’s main street, heading to the warehouse outside of time, when the loud cracking sounds happened, and his tires went flat, and he lost control of his car.

Tom was turning left across the busiest intersection in the city, when more loud cracking sounds turned up, and the radiator of his heavy duty truck blew up, and the engine stopped working, and started making all kinds of ugly sounds.

Sam stood motionless wondering if he was still alive, on his front door step, the door, and the wall behind him full of bullet holes.

There were gas fires in kitchens with natural gas. Shatter glass windows in living rooms, bedrooms, and dens. Cars with flat tires, blown out windows, ruined engines everywhere.

Mark stood frozen in his doughnut shop as the windows imploded and the display case turn into a mass of glass, icing, and doughnut bits.

It was an escalation of the violence each person had participated in the previous night. “Violence grows. A peaceful ending. I can’t see anymore.” It was time to protect those I could.

And be vengeance for those I couldn’t.

242 Words

The next part of the ongoing Armor 17 story. It’s Week 306 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. And there are some great writers who turn out weekly.