Ice

“It’s ready. Transferring now,” says the VR technician.

“Thanks,” I say, studying the new data floating in my vision.

I equip a well-worn headset.

Ripples of code give way to a silent darkness, only a lone light shines from behind onto icy ground. I’m pulled along by a gradual acceleration, subtle but present.

A chunk of ice breaks and passes by amongst shimmering dust.

I watch it disappear.

Behind, I see the ship, my body somewhere inside, on the bridge, watching this drone study this icy world.

“Now we can walk on comets,” I say, taking a step.

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This piece is inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s weekly Flash Fiction challenge:

February 15, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story on ice. It can be an event on ice, a game on ice or a drink on ice. Go where the prompt leads you.

Respond by February 20, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 21). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Fireweed

My private aug showed ages beside every face in the room, but maintained each digitally overlaid, customisable appearance.

“Miss-“ the one hundred and forty-three earth-year old who didn’t look a day over twenty.

“Doctor,” I corrected.

Doubt flashed across all faces.

“Project Fireweed will be swift and precise,” I announced to the group, “replacing current programming with our new system. Individuals deserve privacy once more.”

Everyone sat up in outrage.

“A complete overhaul is insane-”

“Do you even know if it’ll work-”

I raised a hand for silence.

“Can anyone see my age?” I asked.

None could.

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This piece was inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s weekly Flash Fiction prompt.

February 8, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes fireweed. You can use it as the plant, a flower, a metaphor or as the name of someone or something. Go where the prompt leads. Burn bright when you write.

Respond by February 13, 2018, to be included in the compilation (published February 14). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Black and White

“Rise in adulthood aggression and medieval pre-twenty-third century Earthen ideals.”

“Thought we coded them out?”

My research partner and I watched the latest group of toddlers through the window.

A parent entered, giving their child a new battalion spacecraft toy in place of its baby doll.

“You’ll be stronger than the last,” the parent said, leaving the room, “I’ll make sure your toys won’t hold you back.”

I looked at my research partner.

“It’s not really that black and white, is it?”

“We’re innately drawn to gentle things, until-”

Parent and child passed us in the hall.

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This piece is inspired by this week’s Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction prompt:

February 1, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that features something black and white. It could be a nun in a zebra monster truck, a rigid way of thinking, a bird in a tuxedo — be imaginative and go where the prompt leads.

Our oldest started school for the first time this week, our middle is now in kinder (preschool) and our youngest will follow close behind next year, so I’ve been thinking a lot about children.

Our youngest, who is a gentle soul, no matter what society expects, is most often drawn to flowing and pretty things, because, which child wouldn’t like the sparkly crown or the twirly skirt or the pretty butterfly perched on a flower? It’s human nature to, because we are coded to search for water, and water sparkles in the sun. We’re coded to avoid dangerous situations, to want to create peace, to survive, to thrive, and to see others in our community do so too.

We were also coded to use aggression in life threatening situations and that’s where the line gets blurred.

What is a life threatening situation? One where someone has a gun to our head or knife to our throat? When the other driver almost runs us off the road? One where we’re scared of losing control, or where we might feel like we have no control? When we’re scared to lose someone? Or when we don’t understand why things are changing? Or why other things are different in the first place?

Aggression is more readily used when a person feels they’ve lost control over a situation, when there’s a lack of understanding or lack of support through these new changes, but also, when there’s that underlying encouragement telling us that being an innately gentle human is valued less than being in control. Where does that encouragement come from?

To the Edge

“Due end of week,” she said.

I accepted the file transfer.

“Anything else?”

“Check in on the dome too, yeah?”

“Or we’ll all die?”

“Cold,” she said, her aug profile smirking.

“Mars is colder.”

“Answers for everything.”

“This trip wouldn’t work without me,” I said.

“Don’t be so sure.”

We ended comms.

I stared at my screen.

With a flick, I opened an isolated program and equipped a headset.

“Activate,” I said.

My private quarters morphed into the landscape of a digital alien world. Starships, exotic forests, grand ocean cities.

Reality wouldn’t send me over the edge just yet.

———————-

This was inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s weekly flash fiction prompts.

This week called for a story that goes to the edge in 99 words (no more, no less).

I’m fascinated by how we keep ourselves from the depths. The daily rituals we cling to, the darker callings we’re forever trying to fight out.

The strength it takes.

When I think of the edge, I think of human nature, who we are, who we will become, our ever growing potential.

It’s in us all.

Boots

I searched his spaceship quarters for his favourite brown pair amongst the futuristic interior.

But I wasn’t supposed to be here, authorities had my signal logged.

My team gained access to locked drawers via external game code changes.

Highly illegal.

I sped up my search.

Proximity alarms sounded as I found the pair beneath some spacesuit underclothes. I scanned their size, colour, scuff marks, everything, and uploaded the data.

“Now,” I said, via comms.

My external team deactivated the program, waking me before authorities gained a visual.

His real world funeral was perfect, replica in-game boots and all.

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This piece was inspired by the Carrot Ranch’s Jan 18th Flash Fiction Challenge.

I dedicate it to my Father, who passed away a year ago this Jan 24th. It was inspired by his love of gaming, and how he was the first one who, through Dune, truly introduced me to the world of sci-fi, a genre which soon became my utterly consuming creative life’s passion.

Thanks Dad.