@Charli_Mills Weekly Flash Fiction Prompt: Rebellion

In response to Carrot Ranch’s weekly Flash Fiction Prompt: Rebellion.

Ignorance

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

He said it so casually, for such an inconsequential thing. David stared at his brother.

“What?” Scott grunted, barely looking up from his laptop (too busy spamming job applications).

“You don’t even know where that phrase comes from.” Not a question.

Scott grimaced. “But you’re about to tell me…”

“Guy Fawkes said that.”

“The firework?”

David gave up with a melodramatic gesture towards his brother. It was Scott’s ignorance that caused him to get sacked from his last job, inadvertently offending his boss’s family. He had to learn some social awareness sometime… surely?

*

A tenuous link to the prompt, I know, but ‘rebellion’ caused me to think of Guy Fawkes, which in turn made me think of the phrase ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’. While I was told by a teacher in high school that Guy Fawkes said this, the phrase is actually much older and is thought to originate from Hippocrates’ Aphorisms (an ancient Greek book) : Extreme diseases require extreme cures.

This also got me thinking about how we use everything in the world while (largely) being ignorant of their origins. Another example I can think of is the Nobel Peace Prize, which was started by Alfred Nobel so he could be remembered for something better than becoming ‘rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before’ – he invented dynamite.

In turn, isn’t rebellion often brought on by ignorance? The ignorance of the plight of an oppressed people, until the oppressed rise up to face their oppressors? Or in the case of propaganda, being used to spread half-truths to people who don’t know any better, to stir them up into rebellion?

Food for thought.

January 6

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@CharliMills Flash Fiction Prompt: Industry

In response to Charli Mill’s weekly Flash Fiction Prompt: Industry

One year on, an unexpected correspondence landed in my inbox.

FW: Additional Information – Workpac & Centrelink

At first I thought it was spam, but I recognised the sender. My old boss. Or, to be more accurate, my old boss’s boss’s boss. The big boss.

The big boss was sending out links on how to find work.

Despite having left the industry for my own reasons (and pleased to see the back of it) I couldn’t help but feel a foreboding sorrow.

Operations temporarily suspended. 242 jobs lost.

Owned by a blue-chip company, but ended up another Blue Sky Mine.

December 30

This is actually a true story – the mine I used to work at has been one of a number mines in Australia to close. I must have been left on the mailing list by accident to get the email. It’s pretty surprising to see your old boss email you about Centrelink (the government job and income support in Australia). The next day, I saw it on the news: 242 jobs.

I hadn’t kept in touch with anyone I knew from that mine. I wonder what they’re doing, but it would be a bit like rubber-necking to call them now. Some will be okay, and some won’t. Circumstance is a terrible thing. You almost need to plan for bad times, just in case.

Flash Fiction: Spring

Hi Everyone,

I know I’ve been AWOL for a week and a half. I’m sorry I was lazy and didn’t even give notice. Uni got intense (again) so I needed to re-prioritise and get some stuff done. Stuff has now been successfully done, and I’ve still got more stuff to do, but I’m tentatively going to start posting again. I think I can keep it up now. Maybe I can even re-engage in the blogging community and start talking to people again. That would be so nice 🙂

In response to Charli’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Spring Eternal

The low sun transformed the trees into long black shadows cutting across the orange-stained landscape. If she squinted, she could make out the pale apple blossoms threatening to loose themselves in the breeze, though the fragrance was too subtle for her nose to single out. Standing there with her camera around her neck, she took a moment to soak up the beauty of the late spring. Sometimes, the drive to capture the moment caused her to miss the experience altogether, but she promised herself that wouldn’t happen this season. She closed her eyes and breathed the softly warming air…

May 6

Flash Fiction Challenge: Schoolies

In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge: Vice

They expected it to be exciting since it was so forbidden. To be fair, the drinking was fun, but only to a point. Dehydration was a bitch, which made you her bitch.

Cigarette smells lingered in their clothes and in their hair. It smelt nice at first, but the novelty quickly lost its lustre. Ash was ash, and vomit was vomit: the facts could not be sugar coated.

Halfway through, one washed their clothes as the other booked a room and their train tickets. Trading one coast for another, they left schoolies behind to go swimming and bushwalking instead.

April 22

For those who don’t know what schoolies is.

Flash Fiction: Neighbourly Garden

In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Prompt: Neighbourly

It was the first summer she’d noticed the little garden hadn’t been tended. The flowers were still managing, but the ground was cracked and the leaves had begun to dry. It was always a highlight on her walk, and she’d always wondered who tended to the strangely well-kept garden that sat outside the old apartment block.

So the next day, she came back with a watering can. The day after, someone had tipped fresh soil around the flowers, but it hadn’t seemed properly tilled. She smiled and came back with trowel and fork to finish what her neighbour started.

April 15

Flash Fiction: Drop the lemons and run

In response to Charli’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge

I had a plan. It was a plan that I kept to, even when it was messing me up.

The plan was failing. I was failing.

It took a lot to admit I couldn’t handle it anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I did something brave or unique. I, essentially, gave up.

Giving up can be good.

I’m not exactly proud of it, but I don’t regret the decision; I have nothing to regret. I’m relieved, and I’m hopeful for the future. Giving up was the best thing I ever did.

I am excited about life again.

MdD

And that is the honest truth, right there. Thank you Charli, for reminding me that we can make lemonade from lemons, and sometimes dropping the lemons and bolting is a better course to take.

April 8

#FlashFiction Challenge from @Charli_Mills

In response to the Carrot Ranch’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Symptoms

Symptom: change in voice. Diagnosis: pharyngeal cancer.

He knew it.

The crossing turned green and pain jolted up as he stepped forwards.

Symptom: jarring pain from little toe. Diagnosis: broken toe.

Staring at the answers from dr.net, he gave little notice to the standstill traffic picking up around him. What about that strange itchy bump?

Symptom: lump under left buttock. Diagnosis: fungal infection.

That couldn’t be right.

Head bowed to his phone, he heard the crossing signal and stepped out onto the road. Nothing more could be said about him now, except…

Symptom: Self-absorbed in minor ailments. Diagnosis: Hypochondriac.

MdD

I decided to go back and use some of Charli’s old prompts. Since I haven’t done this prompt before, I figured there was no harm 😉

March 18

To see other entries of this challenge click here.

 

 

Flash Fiction: Toffee Day

I used the Day 2 prompt from http://flashfiction365.tumblr.com/prompts to inspire this story. The main character is strongly influenced by the guy from The Rosie Project

Her bright orange lips clashed against the red toffee apple she was biting into, and I couldn’t help but stare: she was a kaleidoscope of clashing colours. Navy-blue tattoos ran around her neck and under the collar of her pale green cardigan, which did little to hide the black tank top underneath. Her skirt was also green, but the opposite shade, and her leggings matched her lipstick.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Her harsh words surprised me. I didn’t mean to irritate her, but trying to explain that just angered her further.

“It’s not polite to stare,” she said as if she were talking to a little boy.

“There’s just so much to look at-”

She swung the toffee apple like a mace, so surprisingly violent that there was no time for the thought “I should duck now” to enter my head. Thankfully, she didn’t hit my cheek hard enough to break anything, but it was enough for the fruit to stick and hang off my burgeoning beard.

She walked off.

I wanted to know where I went wrong, but the toffee dragging on my facial hair was nonsensically painful. I had to walk around, holding the toffee apple up to my face, until I found a bathroom. The mirror and water allowed me to get to work, and using a little soap helped, but I would need hot water to get the rest of the toffee off my face.

Well, that was my day done. At least I’d helped out at the toffee apple stall before I was hit in the face with one. I’d done my bit, and now I could go home and… re-analyse how I should interact with people.

Flash Fiction: Shadow Man

I woke immobilised, the weight of sleep still pressing upon my limbs even though my eyes were wide open. I could see him there, crouched, leaning against the wall with his head bowed towards me. I had to scream. I had to move!

I shut my eyes in an effort to redistribute my panic, but when I opened them again he was gone – replaced with a box, my backpack, and an old shirt. I blinked and for a split second the image blurred back towards him, and I breathed a sigh of relief. He was never here.

I relaxed and took stock of myself. The adrenaline overdose ebbed away, leaving me feeling strangely energised when I had just been paralysed. What a terrifying event. Was I so paranoid that the fear had frozen me? I curled my hand into a fist, just to reassure myself I could move my limbs again.

Where had it come from? I had gone so long without an incident, and while this one hadn’t led me to lashing out the fear was familiar. The trigger was more than the shadows under the dim light of dawn. It was the dream.

“It was a dream,” I said aloud, trying to seal my fears away with the words. I could tell the difference now, between a dream and a visit. This last one had been cobbled together – memories skewed with fears. It hadn’t been real.

Not like when I was younger…

Here under the covers, I felt safe enough to think about it. The man of shadows, who came to pull me apart and stitch me back together, so what I loved was what I hated and what I hated was what I loved. I didn’t know if he was a real demon or just something out of the darkness in my own mind, but once I grew up the visits stopped. I had not.

The visits messed me up, but I was almost free. I wouldn’t tell my therapist about this dream, not now, not when I was about to be released…

The day was bright and sunny, a clear sky with a light tinge of blue. It was glorious, as if it were created just for me, so I could fully appreciate my freedom. I was settled. I was at peace. I was deemed safe.

But the tendrils of darkness still crawled at the corners of my mind, and I wondered…

What if he was real?

Quote

Flash Fiction: Second Time’s the Charm

In response to Susan Lattwein’s Flash Fiction Prompt

No matter how much I kicked, no matter how much I screamed, no noise was loud enough to attract any attention. He must have parked in the middle of nowhere, or else the enclosed boot of the car was muffling everything I did. No one was coming for me.

The minutes ticked by, my ears settling to catch even the faintest noises, but there was nothing to hear. The inside of the boot stank like old meat. I wondered if I should try kicking again, maybe trying to focus my attack on the lock? I rolled over and tried to finger my bound hands across the lid, trying to locate something I could target. The crunch of footsteps on loose gravel froze me. I managed to take a deep shuddering breath before the boot popped open and harsh yellow light blinded me from above.

I snapped my eyes shut as he grabbed my elbow and wrenched me out of the car. Somehow, I managed to stay on my feet as I was half-dragged away from the solitary light. The fresh air brought the smell of salt and humus. I opened my eyes.

A road overgrown with weeds led to a little pier jutting out over the mud bank. It reminded me of the boardwalks I used to take when I was a kid, looking for guppies, frogs, and toadfish. This was a proper lake though, not just a little billabong. The water had to be deep.

There was no doubt in my mind why I was here. My whole life had been innocent, inconsequential. I’d made sure to anger nobody, learning from mistakes long past. The man didn’t speak, but I knew what he wanted.

“You want revenge.”

He took no notice of me, his gait unchanging. My shoes hit the wood and he pushed me in front of him, holding me at arm’s length.

“Look, you’re either just a psycho-killer, or you remember as much as I do. Which is it?”

Ever forwards, unrelenting.

“Okay, let’s say you do remember. That was the past – I can’t do anything about it now!”

We got to the end of the pier. I turned to him and opened my mouth to speak, but he just dived in, dragging me along with him.

Salty water rushed into my mouth, eyes, and ears. My hands still tied behind me, I was helpless to fight against him. This was exactly how it had gone. He was weaker than me back then, our roles reversed, and I had held him under until he stopped moving. It hadn’t even been anything personal – he was an old man who was taking too long to die, and he was making the country sick because of it. Everyone had turned a blind eye.

Before I lost consciousness, I wondered vaguely if he’d kill the others too, for what we did in our past lives.