The Violence – One

The alarm goes off each morning,
Five times every week.
It tells me it’s time once more,
To do what I have to.

It doesn’t matter if I’m tired,
Have a cold,
Or the flu.
It tells me I have work to do.
And it’s time to do it.
It says to me,
“Fuck you.”

Everything is on the clock.
Every minute planned.
Five minutes max in the bathroom,
To gear up for the workout.
Five minutes and no more,
Or else I’ll be behind schedule.
And have to cut time somewhere else,
To get back on track.

The 30 minute workout
Is always the same.
Five different workouts planned.
One for each of the five days.
Monday push the arms and shoulders,
Tuesday push the legs,
Wednesday climb a million stairs,
Thursday push the arms again.
The legs again on Friday.
And spend 10 minutes every day
Working on my abs.

When the workout time is done,
That 30 minutes up,
There’s 10 minutes for a shower,
Just 10 minutes to clean up.
Another 5 is set aside
To shave the whiskers from my face.
So I can look professional
Throughout the day I’ve yet to face.

5 more minutes to get dressed,
And then it’s time to eat.
But there’s never time to cook.
A bowl of cold cereal and milk,
And a daily vitamin,
Washed down by coffee
Always have to do.

I pray, as I always do,
Nothing happens on the drive
As I race to work.
I pray no one does something stupid,
Has a flat,
Or a break down,
That causes a back up,
And makes me late.

The bosses don’t like it
When you’re late to work.
They don’t like it at all.

I don’t ask any questions
About the life I lead,
The schedule I live by each day,
I don’t have to,
I get paid,
And I have bills to pay.

It doesn’t matter how I feel.
Or what I want to do.
It doesn’t matter if I’m sick,
If I have the flu.
The schedule’s set
And I have a job to do.

So to myself,
That tired, weak, being
I know I am inside.
There’s just one thing
I have to say to you
When I hear you whine
Or cry,
When I know you’re tired.

Fuck you.
I have a job to do.

#CAFSC – The Bank Hiest

Mark Ethridge
732 Words
Anthology – Yes
Charity – Spark Summit

Name of female superhero: Crystal

Name of human alter ego, if different: Cynthia Gardner

Superhero Appearance (hair, eyes, body type, etc.): Crystalline surface, no figure (cylindrical, but changeable)

Human alter ego appearance (if she has an alter ego): Brunette, shoulder length hair with bangs, 5’8” tall. Something like a 34, 28, 36 figure.

Costume: None. She looks like a big cylinder, or whatever.

Personality: Very observant. Very adaptable.

Brief description of how the superheroine gets her powers (i.e. born with them, radioactive accident, mad scientist experiments on her, etc.): Made of nano-machines by genius scientist working for some corporation, as part of his way of protecting the world from the exploitation of his work.

Powers: Automatic repair of any physical damage. Networked (can leave parts here or there for “spying/information collection”. Far quicker than any human. Staggeringly intelligent. Far stronger than expected (she is, after all, a machine). Able to change appearance at will.

The Story:

Cynthia Gardner stood in front of the teller at the bank, “I have to deposit this,” she smiled, handing the teller her paycheck. The teller smiled back, then she looked surprised, then terrified. “Oh, God.”

There were four people with guns drawn, two by the entrance, one next to the security guard, and one at the teller next to Cynthia. A single gunshot echoed in the ears of everyone in the bank, sounding far louder in the enclosed space than it would have on the street. The security guard collapsed, a large red spot appearing on his chest, and thick red pool  forming beneath him.

The man at the teller next to Cynthia belted out, “Do exactly what we say, and no one else gets hurt!”

The two men at the door waved their guns, menacingly. The man who had shot the guard screamed, “Down! On the Ground! Everyone!”

Cynthia thought, “Dang-it,” as she got to the ground. “First thing’s first.” She ordered a string of nanobots to cross the room to the security guard, to render any assistance they could to him. The bots formed an invisible line on the floor, as they crossed the bank, and disappeared into the guard’s wounds. Cynthia received their reports on blood pressure, pulse rate, and physical damage incurred.

The guard was dead. The gunman had known exactly where to shoot. “So much for being nice,” she thought, reprogramming the detached nanobots, and programming another three groups. Each group targeted one of the gunmen.  Cynthia made sure the nanobot detachments were from hidden spaces, so no one would notice peices of her were missing. Toes from inside her shoes, parts of her self she was sitting on, her tongue and teeth, which she didn’t exactly need at the moment.

The nanobot detachments moved to the gunmens weapons, attacking the metal and fiber composite structure of the guns, pulling the molecular structure of the firing mechanisms apart, rendering the guns useless. They searched each gunman for additional weapons, removing sharp edges and points from any knives they found, reporting back to Cynthia what they’d found, and done.

The gunmen kept moving, not knowing anything was happening. They pulled watches, cell phones, laptop computers, cash, credit cards, and other valuables from the people in the bank, quickly filling up the bags they’d brought with them.

As they did, the nanobot detachments informed Cynthia the gunmen were fully disarmed. Cynthia sent them commands to disable the gunmen by disrupting their central nervous systems, blocking the flow of information from their brains to their muscles. Within a minute, the gunmen collapsed, one by one, falling to the floor, unable to move, quickly falling into unconscious states.

With the gunmen disabled, Cynthia knew everyone was safe, and the immediate crisis of the robbery was over. She issued return orders to the nanobot detachments. When they’d returned, she got to her feet, and walked up to each gunman. They would all live. “It’s OK, everyone. I don’t know what happened, but they’re all unconscious.”

The bank tellers set off the silent alarms indicating a robbery in progress, and a few minutes later, the police arrived. They found Cynthia kneeling next to the dead security guard. She wondered if he’d had any family. Any children. She wondered how humans could be so heartless, shooting someone for no reason other than a few trinkets, and some money.

“Miss? Are you OK.” One of the officers asked.

“Yes,” she pointed at the dead guard. “But he’s not.”

The officer nodded. “Do you know what happened here today?”

Cynthia shook her head. “They all just fell over. It was like magic.”

The officer offered her a hand, helped her get to her feet. “I just glad they didn’t get away with it.”

The officers asked questions of everyone in the bank, what they’d seen, what the gunmen had done, what had happened to cause the gunmen to collapse. No one knew anything. “It was like God struck them down.” “It was like some invisible gas or something hit them all.” No one could explain what happened.

Cynthia knew. She’d stopped the men. She’d tried to help the security guard, but had failed. She knew what the police would find when they examined the weapons of the gunmen. She knew no one would ever understand what had happened.

But she knew. And she could never tell.

I hope you have enjoyed my entry into the “Creating a Female Super Hero Challenge (#CASFC). There are lots of excellent entries, and amazing proposals for female super heroes in the challenge. Please go read them all.


#MenageMonday 40, Uncut Version

There is a 200 word limit to the #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. So, yesterday, I had to strip my little story down from over 600 words, to under 200. As you can imagine, a lot of detail was lost in the reworking of the piece. So, I’m putting the full 600+ words up, here.

Feel free to go visit Cara Michael’s blog, and read all 38 of the #MenageMonday entries. This was the 40th week. And there were a lot of great entries.


I was asleep on my sofa. Didn’t have to work that day. I was on vacation. And I was having a perfect nap. I liked to take naps when I was tired. I liked them in the middle of the afternoon. I liked naps. They were fun.

I woke up when  an alarm went off. Swatted the top of the clock radio at the end of the sofa. The alarm kept going off. And it was all wrong sounding for the clock radio anyway. It wasn’t music. It was this beeping sound. “Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!” I sat up, and looked around. But there was nothing in the room. The TV was on. I’d fallen asleep while a movie was playing. The movie had ended. And the player had gone into screen saver mode, playing the discs menu over, and over again.

“Hon? What’s that beeping?” I looked toward the kitchen. She wasn’t there. The kitchen wasn’t there either. I closed my eyes. Shook my head. And opened them again. The sofa was gone. The clock too. I was on a bed. In a stark, white room. Damn, but it hurt to open my eyes, and look around. I mumbled, “Turn off those friggin’ lights,” and tried to put my hand over my eyes. It wouldn’t move. Hell. Nothing moved.

I heard a voice. “He’s awake, doctor!” I tried to look around again. There was a door to the room I was in. It opened. “Ah, Mr. Taylor. You finally woke up,” this guy in a white medical robe said. He seemed genuinely relieved.

“Who are you?” I tried to mumble. It came out sounding more like, “moohareww.”

The voice answered, “Let me call your wife. She will be so excited to see you.” A few minutes later, this tall, middle-aged blond woman came in. She saw me, practically leaped across the room, landing beside me, and draping herself across me, kissing my cheek, hugging me. “Thank God, you’re alive!”

The first voice spoke again, “Do you remember anything that happened? Do you remember the fires? And the explosions?”


The woman hugged me some more. “You’re alive. That’s all that matters.”

Over the next two days, I faded in and out a lot. Mostly sleeping. Sometimes waking up screaming. The Doctor kept telling the woman (I learned she was my wife) that I would be OK with time. That I was remembering things in my dreams as I slept.

That third night I woke up. And I saw, painted on the wall of the room, the plant. The power plant. It was big. It was night. And the plant had these stupid purple, red, and blue lights that lite them up from the outside. So they would look imposing, and impressive, I suppose. “I worked there, didn’t I?”

I realized she was awake. “Hmm?” she’d looked at me, questioningly.

“At the power plant. I worked there.”

“Yes, dear. You did.”

“I went to work.” I remembered walking into the first of the two power generator buildings. I remembered going to my locker in the break room, and putting my lunch away. I remembered getting my helmet out, putting it on. I remembered walking out the door of the room. The door shut. And two parallel streaks of sparks flew from the door, down the hallway, in opposite directions. I remember thinking, “Oh, shit.” And then I watched the world explode with color.

“You remember, don’t you.” The woman’s name was Elaina. She was my wife. We’d been married for 25 years.

“Yes.” She was holding me. “I remember,” I whispered. I kissed her. Softly. “And I remember what you said the first night I was here, in the hospital.”

Elaina smiled. She started crying. Happy tears. “I remember you said we could survive this. I could survive this. I had to survive this. You needed me.”

She kissed me then. Softly.

I whispered once again, “I had to survive. I need you too.”