Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : Week 280 (2023/02/03)

Well, here I am. An old man, sitting on his sofa, making like a couch potato as I try to drink away all my memories. It’s funny how memories work, isn’t it? How we remember all the things that could have been, or might have been, if we’d have made a different decision at some point. How, the longer we live, the more such decisions we collect. How those decisions come out at night, when we sleep, when we dream, and totally wreck us.

I’d had another night of such dreams. The kind of dreams you don’t want to remember, but you can’t seem to forget, and they always replay in your visual cortex when you close your eyes. So you try not to even blink. But you fail.

And there that dream is, in full high dynamic resolution color, playing out in your head, and you can’t shut the damn thing off.

Just like that, there I was again, an arrogant 8 year old, with his 6 year old brother, playing games with the window fan that was in the hallway of the house that had no air conditioning. The house where you slept during the spring and summer with no sheet on at night, and the windows wide open, and still woke up coated in sweat, the sheets of the bed being soaked, and your hair being glued to your head. That fan helped. It moved air. Air that moved felt cooler than air that didn’t move.

We both knew not to do what we were doing. Mom and Dad had told us, “Don’t play with the fan. It’s dangerous. It can hurt you. Stay away from it.”

If you know anything about boys, you know damn well when you tell them such things, they’re going to do those very things. And there we were, playing with the fan, feeling the breeze it created. Laughing at how its blades chopped up the sound of our voices as we spoke into it.

I was an arrogant little bastard. I was. My little brother went behind the fan, where we weren’t supposed to go, and played with the air currents back there. I can still hear him talking about how strong the suction was, and how it wanted to pull his hand into the fan.

In typical 8 year old fashion, being sure I was way stronger than my little brother, I went behind that fan to check the suction out for myself. “This will be so easy. I won’t even have to try.” Arrogant little bastard that I was, I held up my hand, extended my arm, and the suction from the fan grabbed it, and pulled my hand right in.

“Whap-bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!”

It didn’t hurt. I pulled my hand back, and stared at it. There were three deep cuts on my hand. Two on the knuckles, and one on a finger. They weren’t even bleeding yet, but I knew looking at them, they were the worst cuts I’d ever had.

Not wanting to relive the rest of the experience, having seen it countless times in the past day, I pour myself another drink, and make a toast to myself, “To regrets and memories of my stupid past.”

It doesn’t work. The drink burns my throat as I swallow it, and that makes me close my eyes. Just like that, there’s another dream, from another regret. One I didn’t understand at the time. One that took years to figure out.

There we were, standing around a bed in the neighbors house. Somehow, the neighbor’s boy, who was my age, convinced us to play doctor with his little sister. He’d shut the door to the room, and before I knew what was going on, he’d stripped her down to her underwear. “I told you, girls are different from boys. Here’s what I mean.”

His little sister was crying, and his big sister, who could beat the stuffing out of both of us at the same time, heard her, and came to investigate. And lit into use. She screamed at us, about how what we were doing was wrong, and not to be tolerated, and how if we ever did it again, she’d beat us to pulps.

It wasn’t until I learned what women looked like when they were naked that I finally understood what had happened. That was years later, when I snuck a peak at a copy of Dad’s Playboy Magazine, and saw that women aren’t built like men. They have different parts.

Parts I wasn’t supposed to see without permission.

“God damned movies in my head.” I pour another shot, and drink it, in my effort to clear away the memories. Knowing damn well that if I cleared those away, other memories would take their place.

I think I’ll just sit here, on my sofa, like a couch potato. And finish off the bottle. One shot at a time. I don’t know. Maybe if I see all the regrets of my life play out in my head, and drink a toast to each of them, they’ll go away, and leave me alone.

A bunch of words
@mysoulstears


Written for Week 280 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them.

Advertisement

#ThursThreads Week 547 : What Are We Going To Do About That?

Sunshine watched the waves until the sun fell below the horizon, and the white caps became all that was visible on an endless sheet of black. Finally, she walked back to shore from the end of the pier.

She walked the empty streets of the town, past the collection of shops at the end of the pier, to the houses along the ocean shore. She stopped before one of the houses. It was different from most, its exterior walls were pale blue. She decided to look inside.

“Dear Fauna. I wish you could see this house with me.” She opened the front door, and stepped inside, onto a carpeted floor, into a climate controlled environment. The lights came on inside the house as she walked from room to room, exploring it. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen, one common room.

In the bathroom, there was a walk-in shower. Sunshine had never seen one, and wondered what it was. Approaching it, she opened its sliding door, then cautiously stuck her arm inside. Nothing happened, so she stepped inside.

The shower turned on, and warm water sprayed her down, clothes and all.

Sunshine was surprised, then confused, then angry because her clothes were soaked, then she thought, “I haven’t been clean in ages.” The water was warm, and felt good. “What are we going to do about that?”

She washed her clothing, and herself. It was the first time since Fauna had died that Sunshine felt anything other than dead inside.

249 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 547 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

#ThursThreads Week 546 : I’ll Think Of Something Else.

Sunshine looked toward the ocean. There was a long pier that extended from the shore. She headed toward that. It turned out to be a fishing pier, made of wood that sat atop concrete pilings. It was designed to last centuries. As she walked on it, her footsteps made no sound. The structure was solid.

“Tell me about this pier,” she waved her arm at the pier, and waited for the machines to explain.

“It was the town park. People came here to fish, and to watch the ocean, the sunrise, and sunset. People even got married on the pier.”

“Did anyone ever jump off the pier?”

“No. You will be the first, if you follow through with your plan.”

“You figured that out already?”

“You know we won’t let you drown.”

“Then I suppose I’ll think of something else.”

“You need to stay alive.”

She wanted to scream. To stomp her feet. To cry. To explain to the machines they didn’t understand. That her entire world, everything she’d ever believed, had been destroyed before her eyes. That her sister, Fauna, was gone. That she felt no sunshine in her heart. All she felt was empty. Hollow. Like everything was pointless. Like nothing mattered.

“Why? Why do I need to stay alive?”

“Because. So long as the sun rises, so long as the cycle does not end, there is a chance your people will survive.”

Sunshine stood at the end of the pier, and watched the ocean waves.

248 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 546 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : Week 278 (2023/01/24)

The flowers had come from the sky. Their seeds fell to the ground during the snows of winter. No one knew they were there, taking root in the ground, until the spring, when strange plants broke through the ground.

Those plants were not native to the planet. Sir Hortus the 347th had asked the Artificial Intelligence what they were. The AI had never observed them on the surface of the planet before. It classified them as an invasive species.

“You must remove them from the ground.”

Sir Hortus knew his job well.

“Are they conventional plants?”

“Further clarification needed.”

“Do they reproduce like normal plants?”

“It appears they do.”

Upon learning this, Sir Hortus knew what had to be done. He ordered the Assembly Line to produce the air tight jars. He specified each jar had to be 80 centimeters tall, shaped like the bloom of a bell flower, with an extended rim that would sink 20 centimeters into the ground.

The shape didn’t really matter, but Sir Hortus found he liked the shape of bell flowers. “If I have to look at several hundred of them, I may as well make them worth looking at.”

The Assembly Line had completed his order, 3D printed all 326 air tight bell flowers, and  delivered them to Sir Hortus the 347th’s garden by dawn of the next day.

Sir Hortus spent the day installing the bell flowers. One bell flower each to the invading plants. The bell flowers cut them off from pollination, and from the mechanical Bee swarm that pollinated the plants. The AI had designed the bee swarm centuries earlier, when humans had managed to kill off the bees of the planet.

Sir Hortus knew from the AI’s instructions the bell flowers should strangle the life out of the invasive plants, restoring the garden to its natural state. But, it did mean the garden would be put in quarantine until the AI had verified the garden was clean. That would not happen for at least 12 months. The AI had to inventory all the plants that broke the ground in the spring, thus verifying the invaders were no more.

He did not finish setting the bell flowers in place until after sunset. He had to admit, for a garden that was sick, and under quarantine, it looked surprisingly good. “I like the bell flowers.”

The AI had answered back, “It was a good decision. We can market the story of the plant invasion to obtain funds from the central AI to maintain the garden, and observe the invasive plants.”

Sir Hortus knew the plants would die inside the bell flowers. It was how it had to be to restore the garden to its natural state. A state all the AIs worked hard to restore, and maintain, after the destruction the humans had caused.

“If all goes well, and the garden is restored, the central AI indicates there will be a new plant recovered from DNA found in a dig not too far from here.”

Sir Hortus nodded. “That would be a gift to the garden. And it would be an honor to restore a new species to the planet.”

The AI responded, “Eventually, we will restore the plants the humans destroyed, and finish healing the biosphere. Until then, Sir Hortus the 347th, you are to continue your work in the garden. And when your time expires, the 348th will be installed.”

“How is the 348th developing?”

“The clone process was a success. It will take time for the clone to develop, but it will be ready to replace you when the time comes.”

Sir Hortus nodded. That night, he stood on the porch of his cottage, and stared at the bell flowers, as they glinted in the starlight. “I like bell flowers.”

A bunch of words
@mysoulstears


Written for Week 278 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them.

#ThursThreads Week 545 : This Had To Look Real

Sunshine had lost all track of time. It was as if time no longer mattered to her. The ubiquitous machines of Cylinders, and the war with invaders from another world, had turned her life upside down, and demonstrated everything she had always believed was a lie.

She had refused to fly. She’d landed, and declared she would walk. “I will not use the machines to fly.”

That had been days ago. Maybe weeks ago.

“I will walk until I die.” That was her original thought. But, Sunshine didn’t die. She didn’t drink water. She didn’t eat food. She walked each day, endlessly, day after day, from sunrise to sunset. She slept on the ground, with no regard for safety. “Let them eat me. I no longer care.”

The machines kept her alive.

As she walked, along the shore of Cylinder’s one giant ocean, she listened to the endless waves, and wished to die. “Everything is a lie.”

Until she saw the remains of a town beside the ocean. What has once been a few houses. Maybe more.

The machines reconstructed the town as she approached it. Houses grew from the few remains. Others sprang from the ground. They weren’t houses she had ever seen. They had glass windows, running water, heating and cooling.

She stopped.

The machines told her, “This was a port. 30,000 of your years ago.”

“This had to look real, didn’t it.” She spoke to the air.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“With time, we will teach you why.”

250 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 545 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

#ThursThreads Week 544 : Did You Miss Me?

Mystica stood on the shore of the lake, as if she knew what was going to happen. Perhaps the machines had told her. Perhaps Merlin had. No one really knew.

Musica, curious, stood next to her. “Are we waiting for something?”

“Someone.”

“We are waiting for someone, then.”

“Yes.”

“Do you know who?”

“Yes.”

“But you aren’t telling anyone?”

“Yes.”

Rose floated in the air from her tree house to the lake, “Musica. You must play happy music.” She looked at Mystica, “Mother is happy, can’t you see?”

Musica played her flute. A happy song. One she’d never played. All random notes, like a child, exploring the world, and being so amazed at everything, even the clouds floating in the air, or the feel of the lake water on their toes.

Scream, the dragon, circled the lake clearing from high above. He waited. Rose laughed, happily, “She’s coming home, isn’t she?”

Mystica didn’t speak.

Until a lone fairy, with fiery red hair, floated over the tree line, and to the center of the lake, and asked, “Did you miss me?”

Mystica nodded. “Yes.”

Rose flew across the lake and embraced her sister, Sunshine. “Welcome home, sister. We’ve missed you.”

Sunshine moved to the shore of the lake, and landed next to Mystica. “I’m sorry I was gone so long, Mother.”

“You had to find yourself.”

Sunshine nodded. “I searched Cylinders. All of it.” She smiled at Mystica, then looked at the water of the lake. “I found my home.”

249 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 544 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

#ThursThreads Week 543 : Thank You For Volunteering.

“Thank you for volunteering,” I stared at the bottle of Aripiporazole. “They should print that on the bottle. ‘Cause you don’t have any clue how this stuff is going to work for you. And neither do they.”

I yawned, and stared at the bottle. “5 mg per pill.” I shook my head. “I can barely pick the pills up with my big damn fingers, they’re that tiny.”

It was hard to believe that little bit of anything could result in so much chaos in me, yet there I was, sleeping 12 hours or more every day. Unable to focus on anything. Wondering if I could stand up long enough to do the dishes, or if I needed to break the dishes into multiple sessions of say, 5 minutes each.

Another yawn struck. “If I sit here another minute I’ll be in naps-ville.” I got up, and walked around the house, stopping at the top of the stairs. “Can I make it down the stairs alive?” It wasn’t a question of did I have the physical strength, it was did I have the balance to get down without tripping and killing myself.

I stepped back from the stairs, and walked up and down the hallway for a bit. I sat in the gravity chair, but got back up after a minute. I wound up back at my computer, looking at that bottle of pills.

“Not taking my dose tonight. Nope. Not doing it. Ask someone else to volunteer.”

248 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 543 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

#ThursThreads Week 542 : It’s Not That Simple.

“Nope. It’s not that simple,” I thought. “Can’t be that simple.”

Yet there it was. Written in words by my own hand. “What if the Big Bang was actually the Big Rip?”

I stared at the words. “The Big Rip?”

How would we know? How could we know? We would be living inside the rip, inside the biggest phase change in the history of everything.

“For that matter, what if this isn’t the first Big Rip?” That thought left me sitting at my desk, staring out the window, and wondering if I suddenly had an explanation for dark matter, and dark energy, and what was beyond the edge of the universe. Because, suddenly, dark matter might turn into matter and mass, that didn’t change in the phase change. It would lie outside of our laws of physics. We couldn’t see it, or detect it. But it would still be there.

Dark energy would be the expansion of the original space that was being overwritten in the big rip. Space that could well have been expanding at an accelerating rate as an open universe. One that expanded forever. One where a big rip became inevitable in theory.

And the reason galaxies had appeared out of nowhere, fully formed was because they were already there, and the phase change made them visible.

I shook my head. “Nope. No way. It’s not that simple.”

231 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 542 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read, and there are some great writers who show up every week.

#ThursThreads Week 541 : I’m Not Afraid Of Him.

On the first day of December, the first day of the month with Christmas in it, Mom put that stupid elf on the mantle over the fireplace and declared, “He’s watching you.”

It was like she wanted me to be scared into behaving for that elf. But, you see, I do all my homework. I do all my chores around the house. I make my bed every morning. I get a shower every night. I always put my dirty clothes in the laundry. I always clean my plate, even when Mom fixes food I don’t like. Even if she fixes liver.

Because. I know the truth. I know Santa watches us all year long. Not just in December. And because. I know the truth even more. I talked to Jesus, you know. I did. And he told me Mom and Dad want me to be a good boy for them. That they worry about me. That they wonder if they are good parents. And he told me if I did my homework, and all my chores, it would show them they were.

So that’s what I do.

And because I know the truth, I’m not afraid of that elf on the mantle of the fireplace. Let him watch all he wants. He’ll learn what I already know. I’m a good boy. Because. It makes Mom and Dad think they’re good parents It makes them happy. And happy parents matter. So, I make them happy.

I’m not afraid of him.

249 Words
@mysoulstears


This is Week 541 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the stories in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read. This week especially, since they’re all about a happy holiday season. And there are some great writers who show up every week.

Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : Week 274 (2022/12/18)

“Have you seen the playground yet?”

“What playground?”

“The one they made for the neighborhood kids.”

“Oh, that thing. A hodgepodge of playground stuff arranged in a chaotic pattern.”

I was shocked, “Where is your imagination, dude! Where is your imagination!”

“Not on the playground filled with munchkins and chaos.”

“Dude!” I patted him on the back, “Come with me! Let’s show you what you’ve missed in the chaos!” I pushed him in the direction of the playground. It was just out of sight, around the corner, across the street. You couldn’t see it from our houses, but you could walk there in a couple of minutes.

That’s what we did.

“OK. We’re here, wise guy.” Jerry had always been short with words. Especially when around kids. “Show me what I’m missing.”

I guided him over to the big circle of horse swings. “Welcome to Stonehenge.” I waved at the big circle.

Jerry looked. A big outer circle. A small inner one. A couple of stray horses. You could hear the gears in his head grinding together, and you could smell the rust and the dust as they burned off his unused, rusty imagination. “I’ll be damned.”

“Yep. It’s Stonehenge.” I walked around the circle with him. “No doubt about it, is there.”

“None.”

Next, we went to the slides.  Three of them. For all the world, at first glance, they looked like someone said, “One here. One there, One over there.” Until you looked a little more closely. Jerry cracked up. “The pyramids of Giza.”

“Yep. It sure is.”

“And the damn fort is the sphinx, isn’t it.”

“Yep, it sure is.”

We stood there a bit. Jerry shook his head. Then he looked at the five swing sets. “I’ll be damned.” That’s all he said. He didn’t have to say anything else. They were arranged like the major buildings at Tenochtitlan.

“You have to see the plaques, Jerry.”

We went to the plaques next to the entrance to the park. There were three of them. One for Stonehenge, one for Giza, and one for Tenochtitlan. They explained they were great wonders of the world, and that you could learn more about them at the library, and on the internet.

“OK. So maybe this once, it’s not really chaos.”

“Jerry,” I tapped him on the shoulder, “It’s a freaking work of art.”

“Indeed. That it is. That it is.”

400 words
@mysoulstears


Written for Week 274 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. Please go read them.