#MenageMonday 2×05 : Not An Option

John sang in his underground estate, protected from the chaos on the surface. “I put a spell on you…” He looked at the distant top of the cavern his family had spent generations constructing. “Because your mine!”

He’d spent the afternoon monitoring the news channels as they rapidly flooded with stories of the new plague sweeping through the Norfolk and Virginia Beach areas. “V243 eats red blood cells. It’s a most useful weapon. I’ll have to have more made.” Already 30,000 had died.

Norfolk and Virginia Beach surviving was not an option. John wanted them destroyed totally, so nature could heal the damage caused by millions of humans.

“They will build a memorial to John Paul, the man whose family was blown to bits by drones sent from Norfolk, the man who yielded God’s sword of vengeance.”

John figured another seven million or so dead in Virginia might bring be enough for nature to heal the land. Then his family start growing the population again. That growth mean they would gain more power. More wealth. More control. The families would be even stronger.

He’d smiled at the picture of one female human shown on the news. The way blood leaked from her body, and left speckled stripes everywhere, had been especially lovely. “They’ll ramp up the war.”

“Amazing what a bacteria that eats red blood cells can do, isn’t it?” Of course, the families were safe. He had the antidote.

“I put a spell on you…” he kept singing.

248 words

I wrote this for week 2×05 of Cara Michaels‘s #MenageMonday flash fiction challenge. You can read about #MenageMonday here. Please, go read all the short tales from this week. The tales are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed. And many of them are amazing. Oh, and… Happy Halloween.

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.

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

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.