Manic Monday

Choices

The light-brown Mourning Dove pecked at the kernel of cracked corn.

Fat with grain, she hobbled, still eating.

Springtime and eggs are coming.

She waddles and pecks, driven by instinct.

The only thing more powerful than the need to eat,

is the need to nest.

She ;picks up a single bristle from an old broom.

She gathers brown withered weeds.

She collects a shimmery piece of Christmas tinsel.

Her beak is fat with strings, twigs, and strands of whatnot.

She sees another kernel of corn.

Her beak is full.

Kernel of corn.

Beak is full.

Her thoughts cannot go in two directions.

Corn.

Strings.

Eat.

Nest.

The snow begins to fall, as snow does in February.

Kernel.

Thread.

The snow falls on her back turning her light brown feathers snowy white.

The quandary plays over in her mind.

The snow falls.

Her eyes dart back and forth.

Grain.

Bedding.

The flurry gains force and her feet disappear in the snow.

It covers the grain.

The Mourning Dove tries to remember why she’s sitting in the snow.

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Josh Jones

 

Terror Tonight

The Lady of Flies

My wife is the ruler of hell, but she thinks that I don’t know. It’s her little secret and I play along. My lovely Maria, for whom I will gladly die. We are waiting for those inside me to mature. Those dark things that she plants inside me as I sleep. Things that squirm beneath my skin if I am away from her for too long. They ache for their mother and scream for her using my mouth.


In the mornings we go our separate ways to work, she gives me a smile knowing that it will be a day of pain for me. But my pain is her pleasure, and her pleasure is my life. It will begin in my stomach, a small growling. It’s not my hunger but theirs. The things that Maria has put inside me demand to feed on the unclean. In my suit and tie, I take to the alleys at noon, hoping for something that they might enjoy. My Maria’s children have such a hunger that the moldy and dead can fill. If we are lucky, I can find the greatest of treats, a rat already bloated from the heat, or a cat crawling with life as it lays useless to anyone but the swarm and me.


After the children are fed it’s back to the cubicle for me. The little square that I fill during the day as the buzzing fills my head. I try not to scratch at them as they get loud enough to drown out the drone of my coworkers and their petty lives. They have nothing, but I am the bringer of the swarm. The ones who will feast on them all. However, sometimes the pain is too great and blood is under my fingernails before I know what I have done. I sit in in my car screaming at my laxness, hoping that I have not killed any of the tiny ones. Crying at the thought of failing in my duty. The children are all.


Today I have not failed, today I have kept my charges safe for their queen. We sing praises to the Dark Lady as I take the long freeway home. I scream hosannas in her name to quiet them. They scream through my head all wanting to be near her as always, their voices blend until no words can be found. Then as one, they silence themselves. A small voice tells me that it is time. I laugh because my Lady will be proud of her husband for giving her these fine children.


How shall I present the gift that she has waited for so long?

I shall give her the Valentine that she deserves.

She enters the house with a glow. Candles wait for her, and white wine to celebrate what she has waited for without complaint. I give her a kiss and my love as I set her at the table. She laughs at our largest bowl empty in front of her. Running my fingers through her hair, her eyes connect with mine just as they did on our first night. She smiles as I run the razor across my stomach to release her present into the china bowl.


I close my eyes from the pain, hearing nothing but the goodbyes of our young. I know my Maria is proud of me I don’t need to understand what she is saying to know of her love.


The end

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JD Hyde enjoys rocking back and forth in the shower rethinking his life decisions. Follow him on Twitter.

Android and Eve

Flash Fiction Friday is a series currently curated by Alanah Andrews. If you’d like to submit flash fiction for publication, please contact Introvert Press.

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simon-wijers-37854

Android and Eve

‘You know, I’m gettin’ real sick of these hunks of junk takin’ all our jobs.’

Steven glanced over his shoulder at the woman behind the bar, then looked at Roy with amusement. ‘You mean these hunks of highly intricate circuitry and flesh reproduction?’

Roy waved his hand in the air, as though fanning Steven’s words away, and took another long sip of his beer. ‘Don’t matter what pretty words ya use, Steve. We both know that they’re just flesh covered computers, walkin’ and talkin’ but you know what they ain’t doin?’

‘What’s that, Roy?’ asked Steven good-naturedly, tapping his finger lightly on the side of his own empty glass. He had heard the rants before, from others, but Roy had generally been, if not exactly an android-sympathiser, at least indifferent towards the AIs.

‘They ain’t thinkin’, Steve,’ announced Roy. ‘Not really. They just do what they’re programmed for. That one behind ya, pouring beer is prob’ly all it knows how to do. Just cogs and wheels turnin’ round tellin’ it to put the glass under the tap and pull the lever.’

‘So how’s she going to take your job?’

Roy sighed. ‘Not our jobs, Steven,’ said Roy. ‘We are artists. We are creative. Ya can’t program creativity.’ Steven thought that calling themselves artists was a bit of a stretch. Working in image manipulation for the local advertising agency was a job which required more patience than creativity.

‘How could you tell she was an AI?’ Steve asked with amusement. From their positioning at the table, the woman behind the bar looked completely human to him.

‘You can jus’ tell,’ said Roy, knowingly. ‘Plus, you can see the difference when ya look into their…’ he gestured towards his eyes. Steven nodded. It was a subtle difference, but if you knew what to look for you could tell older androids from humans by the thick ring around the pupil. Something to do with the optical zoom on older models. Newer androids, of course, with newer technology had no such flaws.

‘But if androids can only do menial tasks,’ said Steven, reasonably, ‘why are you so worried about them taking all the jobs?’

Roy drained his beer, slapping the glass down on the table with a loud clink. Then he leaned in close to Steven, one hand on his shoulder in confidence. ‘I said they can only do what they’re programmed to do.’ His voice was low. ‘Didya know there’s one in parliament now? Far out, we’ll have a robot prime minister in my lifetime if things don’t change.’

‘Roy,’ said Steven kindly. ‘You do realise AIs were granted citizenship before you were even born. It makes sense that some are slowly becoming represented in parliament.’

But Roy wasn’t listening. ‘It’s jus’ plain wrong,’ he said loudly, and Steve noticed with some embarrassment that the woman behind the bar was watching them. ‘They ain’t got no soul ya see. God made Adam and Eve not Android and Eve.’ Then he snorted. ‘Guess that means Mary-Anne’s gonna end up in hell with no-one there beside her.’

 Steven looked sadly at his colleague. Now it made sense. The rant, the anger. ‘She’s moved on then?’

Roy didn’t answer. Instead, he clicked his fingers at the bartender and gestured towards his glass. She nodded and started pouring another.

‘Moved on? Yeah, guess ya can call it that. I call it downgraded. Couldn’t get another living human to love her, see? So she had to go for a computer.’

‘I’m really sorry, Roy. But you have been divorced for a year. You must have been prepared for this.’

As they talked, the bartender came over with Roy’s beer and placed it on the table, collecting the empty glass. Up close, Steven could see the tell-tale ring around the android’s pupil – the clue that had tipped off Roy.  ‘Excuse me,’ said Steve suddenly to the woman. ‘I was just wondering if this is your fulltime job?’

Roy glared at Steve.

‘Oh no,’ said the bartender, smiling ruefully. ‘I’m actually studying medicine. I just work here to help pay the fees.’

Roy looked as though he was about to choke on his beer. Steven thanked the woman and turned back to Roy. ‘I guess they don’t just do what they’re programmed to do.’

Roy furiously chugged down his beer and wiped the froth off his moustache with the back of his hand. ‘It coulda at least had the decency to wear contacts,’ said Roy, gesturing towards the bartender. ‘Rather than flaunting its…’ he waved his arms around, searching for the right word.

‘Artificiality?’ suggested Steve.

‘Yeh, artificiality,’ repeated Roy. ‘Anyways, I’m gonna hit the hay. See ya at work.’

As Roy left the building, the bartender came back over to the table to pick up the empty glass.

‘Why haven’t you told him?’ she asked quietly.

Steven just shrugged. ‘I thought we lived in a world which wasn’t divided by race.’

‘We do. And you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.’ She gestured towards Steven’s face, towards the contacts that he always wore.

‘I’m not here for a lecture,’ said Steve, rising abruptly and heading towards the exit. The woman’s robotic eyes bored into his back all the way to the door.

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Alanah Andrews is an English teacher in Australia, who dreams of one day travelling the world in a bus. If you like her writing, check out her website: www.alanahandrews.com

A New Conversation about Guns

We need to make new symbols. Make new signs.
Make a new language. With these we’ll define the world.

lyrics to New Beginnings by Tracey Chapman

She’s on to something.

Imagine the conversation about guns if we had to start all over making terms for things. What if phrases like “gun control” and “second amendment remedies” were forgotten. What if groups like the NRA didn’t exist and Mom’s Demand Action for Gun Sense were not in existence.

WHAT IF we started over and all the arguments were new.

People with a negative view about guns didn’t use the Newtown Massacre as an opening argument. And people with a positive view of guns didn’t point to Chicago as the reason laws restricting use of guns don’t work.

Me personally, I’m one of those with a negative view. But just think if for one moment I could sit down with someone who has a positive view, and we could – as Tracey Chapman says “make a new language”.

I can sit down and express that I do NOT want to take guns away from everyone. My partner in this conversation could communicate that in fact they do NOT think all laws restricting guns are bad. We could find common ground. We could, together, look at the deaths from guns and agree that it is tragic. My conversation partner could tell me about the time their firearm was used to shoot a mountain lion attacking his dog. And I would listen. I could relay the experience I had with a loved one getting shot by someone. And they would listen.

I could express that gun ownership does not equate to someone being an “ammosexual” another term we would not remember. They could express that it’s good to hear a view from a liberal, without them being a libtard. And that word could be gone from our vocabulary.

What if we ALL just committed to listen. We talk past one another so much of the time. We want to TELL people what they should think. Instead of telling others, we could SHOW each other why we think the way we do.

We have an amendment to the Constitution. The second amendment. What if we each sat with each other and talked about the second amendment – about our Bill of Rights. The WHOLE Bill of Rights with the respect it deserves, and the scrutiny it deserves.What if that conversation took place at dinner tables, in bars, at PTA, at the grain elevator, at the beach, or in local caucuses. What if it took place with a commitment to listen.

WHAT IF?

We could create a new language. We could create terms like:

Firearm education: not training for shooting, but about statistics of gun ownership, gun use and accidental gun deaths. No spin to the statistics — just the facts. It could be taught in civics, at community colleges, at churches, at book clubs.

Gun population: not a gun registration but a look at where guns are located by city, state, or nation. Talk about the correlation of guns to regions. What does a rural citizen use guns for as opposed to an urban setting.

Potential Risk: not about gun safety, but about why people have guns. Talk about how those guns are used specifically. Let gun owners talk about the risks they face and how they are using guns to address those risks. Let those who do not use guns talk about their experiences without a gun, and how they avoided – or dealt with directly – the identified risks.

Americanization of Guns: not about manufacturing guns in the US, but how the US has a unique dynamic with guns. Look at gun use around the world and compare it to the US. Those who own guns can look at how other countries get along with out lots of guns. Those who don’t own guns can examine what is unique about America that might explain why gun use is popular.

I’m tired of the fight. My position feels intrinsic to me, because it is so personal. I imagine those who own guns feel that same intrinsic feeling. We need to talk to one another. We need to be a neighborhood, a city, a state, and a country that can think critically, act communally and address the issues related to guns.

There is much to be said and done around the issue of guns. Maybe we can just start talking to each other, rather than assuming things about one another. We’ve had so many tragedies. The latest being the shooter of several officers and a state Representative. He’s recuperating.

How can we make our country recuperate?

Therein lies the question.

A Voice from Nigeria

A modern poem sent to us by Laju Ereyitomi Oyewoli, in the style of a traditional praise of one’s own clan. The Itsekiri people live in Nigeria’s Niger Delta area and traditionally refer to their land as the Kingdom of Iwerre. The area is a key centre of Nigeria’s crude oil and natural gas production.

Iwere ni mi
For I belong to the powerful bloodline
Of the proud Iginua
Whose haughtiness sent him out of Benin
Down to Ode Itsekiri
That we may reside in the richness and splendorous wealth of our pride

Iwere ni mi
For I belong to the historic people of itsekiri
Whose powerful Olus define the history of times
In their heroic deeds

For Omi Iwere ni mi
A people whose greatness has always Shine brighter
Among the sands of time

by Laju Ereyitomi Oyewoli

The Truckstop at the Edge of the Universe

“Piece of SHIT! Turn on, damn it! —Testing. Testing.—OK, there we go. Red lights across. About time! I can’t believe this actually worked. No! No! Don’t you do it! You stay right there! Don’t make me hit—I swear to —There, that’s better. Holding the red. Nine minutes and twelve seconds. Moving on.  How do I start this? Ages ago? In the beginning? No, no, too cliché. Once upon a time? What other way is there? Damn, why did it have to come to this? It should never be this difficult.

I suppose the beginning it is, but only for a moment. I really don’t see much of a choice at this point and I don’t have much time. When all else fails, right? Let’s get this over with.

Since time is slipping through my fingers and I don’t see any way out of this mess and never believed in miracles, I should probably just get on with it and get right to it. I’m not sure who’ll hear this, but I’d appreciate anyone at this point. Even the Blugenns could make their ugly appearance and I wouldn’t give a shit. I’m hoping this rigged relay will at least reach the Omega Gate, and local harvesters will pick up on my signal, but even at their top speed I’m guessing it would already be too late. Time moves funny out here. So I’ll make this proverbial message in a bottle as quick as I can and tell you what I know so far, to anyone who may be able to hear it. Damn, based on the clock, I’m estimating less than three hours before I’m nothing more than a bubbling flesh puddle, sizzling on the floor. I hope this works. I don’t want to go out like that.

The following is my official last will and testament, and full confession. I confess to my actions today in this manner to hopefully bring peace to the mates and children of the fallen.  If this message is found, please share this with all remaining members of my family. They may be hard to find, some I haven’t spoken to since I was a child, and some won’t even care, but regardless they need to hear it. In fact, the whole universe needs to hear it. We’re in some deep shit—Right. Let’s do this.

I’ll start this off by saying; all great empires eventually come to an end. At least all the ones I’ve heard about have ended.

Earth was no different than any other self proclaimed empire throughout the cosmos. Earth was just a tiny speck of rock among many other puny specks of rock.

Five thousand years ago, the mighty Earth ceased to harbor life, as you probably already know. Or maybe you didn’t. Surprise!

The human’s planet continued to spin on its axis while orbiting the sun, and its tiny moon still rotated around the lifeless rock, but all living things on Earth’s surface were extinguished in the blink of an eye.

The destruction was thought to be the result of a cataclysm which wiped out all sentience in the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. Nothing survived in the galactic local group. Microbes, bacteria, and the building blocks of life were annihilated. Trees and flowers turned to ash. Thermal vents at the deepest points of the oceans stopped venting.

Some of our varied historians say an omnipotent malevolent force was responsible. Others tell stories of a cosmic explosion. A black hole was trapped inside, or might have collided with, another black hole, and the overlapping gravity wells pulled in a supernova, or a pulsar, or some such shit. I’m not a scientist nor will I claim to be. I don’t know how it happened. Who really knows what happened? All we have now are the stories, whether true or not, passed down from generation to generation. Fables of ancient worlds.

To be honest, no one really cares about history anymore, unfortunately, including me. There’s too much to do to even give the theories a passing thought. In the Exterior, my home at the outskirts of the Vega Grid, life moves too fast.

Once hearing word of the galaxy’s destruction and the Milky Way and other sectors now devoid of life, independent missions were established by volunteers, contracted through the Elite class, to retrieve anything in the cosmos that may prove to be of value. Remnants of cultures and fragments of history were salvaged from these long dead worlds and brought back to the Exterior for study and trade. When the travelers found something worth recovering, the galactic scavengers then sought out legitimate buyers across the region.

Everything has a price. And that’s where I come in.

Over the millennia these scavengers adopted the name, Truckers. An old Earth title. Transporters of goods. The front line for supplies. To those in the Exterior who’re hearing this, you owe your lives and livelihoods to the Truckers. If not for them, we would be merely a fraction of what we are today. We all need to stop taking everything for granted.

Sometimes the Truckers would be months and for some, years, before returning to the Exterior. Their extended missions would drain their ship’s drive engines, and they’d be forced to wait until enough energy was replenished in their reserve tanks, so they could have enough to jump back home. They’d return tired, missing their families, children and pets, but if they were lucky and diligent in their labor they’d have enough material stored in the cargo bays ready for distribution to keep them from having to venture out again for many months.

They’d find soil deep in the ground where it was still fertile, free from toxins, and usable for growing plants and crops. Plants you eat today. Perhaps eating right now. Are you enjoying that sweet corn? Thank a Trucker. Do those copper tokens pay your worker wages? Thank a Trucker.

They’d bring back gems, water and ice blocks, rusted chunks of steel, gold, coal, seedlings from the underground vaults, and the gases harvested from a planet named, Jupiter: Hydrogen, methane, helium, ammonia, and for a small elite group occupying the interior of the Exterior, sulfur was brought back for a reason we still speculate on.

Who am I to ask questions? Best to mind my own business.

That’s what I do best. I mind my business.

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Jeremy Morang Bio: Father of two. Enjoys the simple life. Dreams to one day be published. Lives in a small town in Central Maine. Works with adults with physical and cognitive disabilities in a quality assurance capacity. Been writing seriously since 2011. Love my family, my new dog and relishing every moment with my wife. Enjoys eating dessert first. Works on a personal blog mixing fantasy and autobiographical stories named, Tales of the Chronicles.