a cure for the common block

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Who Watches The Watchers

Et loved puzzles, and this was a doozy. As he mulled over his options – mentally working his way down various paths – a thought struck him and as he looked at the puzzle from this new angle the thought began to make more sense. He was observed from a control room and was now faced with a dilemma: solve the new puzzle without the proctors realizing he’s undoing their work. When he was brought in he was told to fix a security patch that had been compromised and rebooting it would cause a contamination leak in their clean room, but because he’s better at puzzles than they realized he discovered that if he re-routed the tanks they would disperse a toxic gas into a lab, killing several scientists and risking a catastrophic viral outbreak, and it would appear to all be his fault – or worse, his intention. He asked if they had attempted going through the back door and quickly set to work drawing a path through the maze of pipe and duct work, leading the chemicals to safely vent into a “scrub room” where biohazardous material was routinely dumped and was cleaned and sanitized three times daily. As he left the building with his new, heavy paycheck he phoned the police and hoped the men would be stopped before trying again.

#ShortShortStories #WhoWatchesTheWatchers



Bruce took off his shoe and slammed it hard on the desk several times, commanding the attention of everyone in the boardroom. He spoke of accountability, that the public cared more about assigning blame than they did about answers and solutions; and so, he proposed, they would give them what they wanted: a scapegoat would be presented and punished however they deemed fit. Of course, it couldn’t be any of the board members, they were too important, so it would fall on some hapless mope who had the misfortune of having his name under Bruce’s finger after he blindly pointed at the payroll list: Clark Dugby. Clark was shocked that the defective strip was the result of an accounting error in his diagnostic report, but Bruce made an argument that gave him serious doubts. To Bruce’s surprise, the public did not want Mr. Dugby’s blood, when they saw the feeble man fumble through his apology they felt sympathy; it was all due to a simple mistake, one that any of them could have made, and Bruce realized he had accidentally found something better than a scapegoat, he found an Everyman: a person who can take the blame and escape backlash, a blank canvas a public would no sooner punish than they would punish themselves.

#ShortShortStories #Manhunt

Too Short A Season

The leaves flitted across the street like confetti, and if it weren’t for the heat Hugh could have mistaken it for a lovely day in autumn. Like many in his situation the less time he had the more he appreciated every moment, the mundane details hiding in plain sight: the girls tittering as they watch boys play football in the park, the old married couple feeding pigeons. He gave these people stories, backgrounds, imagining the lives they lead, and today he wondered what story someone would give him if they watched him at the park; would they notice his thinning hair and think his hoodie and tennis shoes were an attempt to cling to a long-faded youth? Would they see the scars on his neck and think he got mugged? In all of the stories he told over the years he never presumed any of them to be sick, not the girl with the head-scarf, or the too-skinny man, or even the boy with a limp, so why would anyone think that of him?

#ShortShortStories #TooShortASeason

Captain’s Holiday

Nita called the staff into her office for the morning meeting; it was brief, her vacation was supposed to have started the day before, however a few assignments requiring her confirmation weren’t finished until mere hours before she walked through the doors and she was so pressed for time that she would have to wait until she returned to take care of the employees responsible. She gave a rundown of assignments for the next week-plus, delegated all authority to her Second, and departed the office briskly, while maintaining an air of professionalism. It had been so long since she had time off Nita couldn’t even remember when she had the time to think about her last vacation, but those concerns dissolved as she reclined aboard her jet, sipping a cocktail, looking forward to The Hunt.

#ShortShortStories #CaptainsHoliday

All Good Things

Luana and Sunny were the closest of friends, which was why Luana was the most devastated when Sunny vanished the summer they turned 16. Sunny’s parents had secretly expected something to happen; she had been acting erratically, spending time with a strange boy they hadn’t met before who disappeared around the same time as her. Luana was oblivious to all of this, she was told Sunny just “ran away”, but Lu knew better, she knew Sun would never leave without saying goodbye; which perhaps explained why she was the least surprised when a still-16 year-old Sunny knocked on her door 23 years later.

#ShortShortStories #AllGoodThings

Shades of Gray

Shane awaited the arrival of his next appointment; while movement through time in Elseworld was similar to the Living World, movement through space was not: doors, cars, elevators took you where you were supposed to be, regardless of any previous plans you had made. At nine-on-the-nose, an opaque gentleman carrying a stack of books backed through the door and turned to find himself face-to-face with his auditor. He set down the books and slunk into the chair with chagrin, knowing exactly what to expect from his quarterly review of haunting activity. While Shane was understanding of his dilemma, the increased prevalence of recording devices was no longer considered a valid excuse after the long-standing policy of denying vocalization claims was lifted, as well as other provisions allowing for non-visual frightenings. His punishment for failing to meet his quota was a reduction in corporeal density, and a meeting with the parole board one month later, just enough time to increase his numbers.

#ShortShortStories #ShadesOfGray

Frame of Mind

Mina wanted to study for the test, she knew her limitations, she knew she wasn’t familiar enough with Colonial agriculture to even barely pass the final exam, however whenever she set her eyes on the page and began reading the words her concentration slipped like a fat toddler on ice. She remembered a trick her mother once taught her, clambered up the stairs and into the hall closet, carrying down an old record player; she put on some slow, gentle, Classical music and once again attempted to study the material. The tempo kept her calm and gave her something to focus on without getting distracted, humming along and tying certain notes to certain details; the test was more or less stress-free, and though she had to guess at several answers, the humming brought back specific memories that helped immeasurably in moments of doubt.

#ShortShortStories #FrameOfMind

Journey’s End

It was Menon’s fourth venture through the spacetime rip (generated by his particle accelerator while smashing leptons), his fourth visit to Ancient Greece and he decided to finally interact with people. As the only child of a historian and philosopher living in modern Greece, he was almost fluent in Ionian and Dorian dialects, and his charisma made him many friends in little time. In previous visits he had gathered that it was mid-5th century BC based on news of the fall of Kydonia; invited by his new friends to a party, when asked for his name he gave the only name on his mind when thinking of mid-400s BC Greece: Democritus. Later, when he learned that the rip had sealed – forever trapping him in the past – rather than succumb to a depressing malaise, he rejoiced and laughed at the irony. He looked forward to – and enjoyed – a long, prosperous life, amazed by all that was lost to fire and tyrants, in wonder at how it could have shaped the future.

#ShortShortStories #JourneysEnd

Hollow Pursuits

Husna scanned the aisles of her nearest grocer; they didn’t carry the best product, however it was the most affordable on her part-time wage. Much to her surprise, along with the majority of her necessities (water, spices, toiletries, etc), her budget allowed her to acquire an assortment of vegetables, bread, and protein which, alone, could sustain her for a week. But while her body was nourished, her mental health starved for lack of connections, to family or friends or lovers, or even to an activity that gave her a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction until she reached a breaking point. Husna began making cuts in her budget, giving up luxuries and necessities alike, for months, until she had enough for a plane ticket and a couple months rent in a hostel where she would start a new life.

#ShortShortStories #HollowPursuits

Thine Own Self

Erica took off her security uniform and removed the bag of diamonds from the concealed inner-pocket; she may not have lead an honest life, but at least she could sleep at night, which was more than could be said of her sister. Tule ran for office promising to help the children, fix the roads, restore the town’s former glory as a place where people wanted to raise families and give back to their community; what she discovered was a community unwilling to do what was necessary, unwilling to give before they received, pushing Tule to make moral compromises and shades-of-grey deals. Erica may have been a thief, but the goods were already ill-gotten through bribery, “repossession”, or even murder; even if Tule had her sister’s gift for rationalization, it wouldn’t have prevented her from falling into the governments sting operation and giving them enough evidence to guarantee at least a 12-year sentence.


#ShortShortStories #ThineOwnSelf

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