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Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company!
Weekly Short Story Contests
> Week 405 (March 22-28) Stories Topic: All I Ever Wanted
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, Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei"
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Mar 22, 2018 11:42AM
You have until the 28th of March to post a story and from the 29th to around the 2nd of April, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best!
Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group. Only one submission per person is allowed.
Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.
REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
This week’s topic is:
All I Ever Wanted
Thanks goes to
for choosing the topic!
The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.
Most of all have fun!
Mar 23, 2018 07:36PM
AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Silent Warrior, Chapter 24
GENRE: Educational Fiction
WORD COUNT: 1,605
RATING: PG for mild swearing
For the first time in what seemed like ages, Scott George felt as though he belonged somewhere. He couldn’t get this feeling at home, so he got it at school when he walked through the front door with students and teachers applauding his arrival. He knew he couldn’t thank them enough for what they had done, so he smiled a warm smile and waved back at them.
But he knew now was not the time for complacency. He never once lost sight of the fact that this was a high school, the testing grounds for the next level of education: college. Scott studied his ass off for the upcoming finals, putting extra effort into US history. He did more than just memorize dates, events, and wars; he delved into their respective contexts. How did structural racism begin? How does it continue into today’s society? Is democracy still alive? The answer to the last question was yes and Scott was living proof. Now he had to show that proof to the rest of the school by acing these final exams.
He sat in his usual desk in his history class and took in all the sights of this new regime. The desks were in almost pristine condition. The students radiated with calmness. The new teacher, Mr. Corbin, didn’t stare down at his pupils like was a giant munching on villagers. Scott’s only concern was with the jock bully who had taunted him in the past. The football stud didn’t look like much of a stud as he kept his head down and fingered what appeared to be a wound on his hand. Scott couldn’t help but feel for the poor guy, whatever happened to him. He even managed to remember the big guy’s name: Craig Dunham. Imagine that: giving somebody a name actually helps humanize that person.
“Good morning, class,” said Mr. Corbin, instantly gaining his pupils’ attentions. “It’s been a long road to get to this point and you’ve all done very well so far. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from any class I teach: universal success. I have no quotas to fill as far as negative marks go. You all have met me halfway and I’m eternally grateful. You’ve proven to me that democracy is far from dead despite what the previous teacher has hammered into you. Without a proper education in a calm work environment, we can’t have a true democracy. But we have just one more part of this long journey and that’s the final exam. There are fifty questions, all of which are multiple choice. You have one hour to complete the test, but you most likely won’t need all of it.”
As soon as Mr. Corbin passed out the scantron sheets and the students had their pencils ready, he said, “Good luck to each and every one of you. I hope you all find the success you’re looking for today and every day after that. Your exam begins…now!” The students went right to work in filling in those bubbles, Scott included.
For the weeks leading up to this exam, Scott felt a sense of peace and quiet surge through his body. He knew he didn’t owe it to just one factor, as there were many pieces of this unbreakable puzzle. Whether it was moving in with Adrienne, feeling welcome under Mr. Corbin’s tutelage, or the fact that he confronted his personal demons and won, Scott was able to focus on his test without burning himself out. Any worms and puppets that had previously invaded his mind had faded into black and white pictures and were pushed aside with relative ease. The EMDR techniques during therapy did their job and then some. But there was no time to reflect, because he only had one hour before the test was over.
What was the major reason for the civil war? Keeping the confederacy from seceding. Who assassinated President Lincoln? John Wilkes-Booth. What does being “sold up the river” mean? Being a slave who was traded by boat to an arguably harsher master. Who was the eventual Supreme Court justice who argued successfully against Plessey vs. Ferguson? Thurgood Marshall. What year was John Lennon assassinated? 1980. Soon enough, the questions and answers came together with enough ease that Scott finished his test before the rest of the class. For that, he took a deep breath and took his test to Mr. Corbin’s office, though the nerves about his grade caused his stomach to hurt and his heart to race.
“I knew it: you didn’t need the full hour after all. Very impressive, Mr. George,” said Mr. Corbin with a warm smile. When Scott didn’t return to his seat, he asked, “Did you have a question for me?”
“Uh, yeah, uh…” Scott cleared his throat to buy his nerves some extra time. “Would it be okay with you if you graded my test now?”
“I don’t see why not. Could you shut the door, please?” Scott did as he was told and allowed his arms to quiver at the sight of Mr. Corbin running his red pen through the test. The new teacher made a few Nike logo gestures with his mouth, but then nodded and gave a half smile. He capped his pen and told Scott, “Okay, that’s an eighty-nine percent. A solid B+.” Scott clutched his chest and breathed a heavy sigh of relief, his nerves turning into warm prickly feelings throughout his arms, shoulders, and scalp. Mr. Corbin said, “That B+ should be a significant boost to your overall grade since it weighs the most. You should be proud.”
“Trust me, Mr. Corbin, you have no idea how relieved I am,” said Scott in between heavy breaths.
“As long as I have you in my office, why don’t you take a seat and talk to me for a minute. Don’t worry, you’re not in trouble for anything. Just please, take a seat.” Scott once again did as he was told, hands folded neatly across his lap and his toes bouncing his leg up and down. Mr. Corbin removed his glasses and asked, “How are you feeling these days, Mr. George?”
“I guess I’m doing alright. It hasn’t been perfect, but…I’m doing okay for now.” Scott’s eyes darted from side to side as he strengthened his efforts to suppress his worm flashbacks. He had a sinking feeling that that’s where this conversation was going.
“That’s good to hear,” said Mr. Corbin with a nod. “It seems as though it’s been a while since you’ve last heard this line of questioning.”
Scott sadly smiled and said, “Am I that easy to read?”
“No question about it. But I do hope you’re not living your life with any regrets. Don’t use your experiences as an excuse to stay down. Use them as a weapon. You’re going to need that weapon after you graduate.” When Scott shrugged his shoulders in confusion, Mr. Corbin pulled a sheet of paper out of a file folder and said, “Sorry, I should probably explain. Principal Williams wanted me to give you this before you left my class for the day.”
Scott gazed at the paper in his hands with confusion and happiness in his expression. “It’s a job application…for being the school’s sensitivity counselor? Oh no, I couldn’t do this. I don’t even have a psychology degree. Shit, I’m not even out of school yet to get one of those things.”
“You don’t need one, Scott. You’re perfectly qualified to have this job. You know what it’s like to need somebody to talk to, somebody to share your feelings with. You’ve gained more experience in just this last semester than most people do in a lifetime. Like I said, use your experiences not as a stopping point, but as a new beginning. Granted, you won’t make a lot of money in your first year. This is school, after all, and teachers and staff members alike struggle with their money enough as it is. But if you need a way to support yourself and your girlfriend while you save up for college, this would be the route to go. What say you, Scott?”
“I…I don’t know what to say…”
Mr. Corbin joked, “Your enthusiasm is underwhelming, Scott. If I was drowning and somebody threw me a handful of life preservers, I’d have a bigger smile on my face than you.” The student and teacher shared a laugh together at the blatantly stolen Dr. Phil line.
“It’s funny that you quoted Dr. Phil just now because…I kind of feel like him by filling out this application.”
“You are almost like him, except far less bullshit.” Scott hiked his eyebrows at Mr. Corbin, who smiled casually and said, “Bet you didn’t hear that word a lot from Mr. Simpson. But just to stay on the safe side, let’s keep it between you and me.”
“It’s a deal,” said Scott as the two of them shook hands. “You wouldn’t happen to have a pen on you right now, would you?”
“You can write with the one I used to grade your test. I’m sure Miss Williams won’t mind a little red ink. She used to have my job, so she used it quite liberally. Here you go,” said Mr. Corbin as he handed Scott the pen. The newly healed high school senior filled out the application with a careful writing speed while the teacher interlaced his fingers behind his own head and relaxed for a while. “Take your time, Scott. There’s no rush. Slow and steady wins the race.” Even more lines that Scott had never heard Mr. Simpson say in his lifetime.
Mar 26, 2018 04:27PM
Title : Suspect Connect (Helen Singer, Chapter Twelve, Second Half)
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 2128
Rating : PG13
Fran and I headed over to the campaign headquarters of Emmett Cocker The Third. It was a small building, and his headquarters basically took up a shop front on the high street between a pound shop and the green grocers. I could see Raymond from the other night setting out the vegetables in front of the grocers, and he smiled at me and Fran a little creepily.
“Maybe it’s him,” I suggested, “he looks a little serpent-like, and definitely like the sort of person to have dead children buried in his wall cavity.”
“He doesn’t fit the profile we’re looking for,” Fran disagreed, “with a name like Raymond Thaw, he’s more likely to be turned into the God of Thunder than a giant snake.”
I didn’t bother arguing with Fran over the matter, and to be honest I hadn’t seen him come into the library on Sunday. He probably wouldn’t have been able to go there until at least lunchtime if he’d been working, and I’d been helping out at the library for most of the afternoon.
I was roused from my train of thought by the arrival of a man dressed in a dark blue suit, carrying a small briefcase in one hand and a smart phone in the other. He had his ear buds plugged in and was talking to someone, probably about government nonsense or something boring. When he stopped at the door, he put down the briefcase to take out a set of keys from his pocket, then opened the door to the campaign building.
“That’s him,” Fran told me, “let’s get him.”
“Wait a second,” I said, holding Fran back with one hand, “we need to approach this sensibly. We can’t just go over to him and start accusing him of being a snake.”
“Well, what do you suggest?” Fran asked, “If he is half-snake, half-chicken, he needs to be stopped.”
“But asking silly questions won’t stop him,” I told her, “we don’t even know if he’ll remember having been a Cockatrice or whatever you call it. You’ve never heard of someone surviving after their transformation?”
“Only because they were hardly ever known about, let alone caught,” Fran said, “and to be honest it was hard to determine who died as a result of being a creature of the night and who died at the hands of one.”
“Then we need to ask him what he was doing last night,” I suggested, “see if he has an alibi or if he has memory loss or something. My dad couldn’t remember what happened when he was turned to stone, so chances are that whoever is behind these disappearances can’t remember kidnapping the children either.”
“You might have a point,” Fran agreed, “come on, let’s go talk to him.”
As Mr Cocker opened the doors to his campaign headquarters, myself and Fran approached him, trying to look more like enthusiastic supporters than frightening stalkers. It must have been some sort of psychic link because we both fixed fake grins on our faces as he turned towards us, a look of bemusement on his face.
“Can I help you young ladies?” he asked.
“We hope so,” Fran took the lead, “we’re going to be eligible to vote soon and we were wondering if you could tell us more about your campaign for mayor.”
Cocker smiled, looking as if he’d been waiting all of his life for a young person to ask him that very question. “Please,” he beamed, gesturing for us to walk into the building, “come on in.”
We both walked into the campaign headquarters, blinking as Cocker turned on the lights. Once we were inside he closed the door behind us, “Come on into my office,” he said, walking through the main room towards an office at the back of the building.
“Do you think this is safe?” I whispered to Fran, “What if he is the Cockatrice?”
“It’s daytime,” Fran replied, “if he was taking on the creature’s form during the day he wouldn’t look like a human. This creature is a physical transformation, unlike yours. If he has been cursed, it’s just the regular version, not like you. And besides, there’re two of us. We could take him.”
I wasn’t one hundred percent convinced by Fran’s convictions, but I decided to let it lie for now. In any case, I’d already proven to myself the night before that I was much stronger now, seeing as I’d been able to lift the stone statue of my dad all on my own.
“So,” Mr Cocker smiled, sitting down behind his desk, “what questions did you young ladies have for me?”
I glanced at Fran, who took one of the two seats opposite him. We hadn’t discussed how we were going to find out if Mr Cocker was being affected by the Flamel book, or how we would try to find the book if he had it. I widened my eyes at her as I too sat down, but she barely reacted. Then she finally spoke.
“Can you talk us through your campaign strategy?” she asked, “We’re planning a report next term on the processes for running a successful candidacy.”
I frowned, then smiled winningly when Mr Cocker looked in my direction. I had no idea what Fran was playing at. Maybe she was just trying to waste time while she thought of a way to get the information we needed. It wasn’t going to be easy, what with it being day time and us not being able to so much as prove that Cocker was a Cockatrice, but hopefully Fran knew what she was doing.
As Mr Cocker started to drone on about his campaign plans, and how all he ever wanted in life was to be mayor, I started to zone out. I knew I should have been concentrating, trying to win Mr Cocker over so that he’d lower his guard and perhaps give away the fact that, at night, he turned into a chicken-snake hybrid monster, but it wasn’t easy. Every so often I glanced in Fran’s direction, seeing that she was nodding at appropriate moments, as if she actually cared about what Cocker was saying, and I was beginning to think that she had no plan whatsoever. Just as I felt my eyelids starting to droop, Fran suddenly spoke up.
“Excuse me, could I use your toilet?”
“Of course,” Cocker smiled, showing his white bleached teeth, “it’s just through the door outside my office.”
“Thank you,” Fran said, getting up from her chair and leaving me alone with Cocker.
I watched Fran leave, feeling a little bit alarmed, then looked back at the smiling Mr Cocker. He placed his hand on his desk, lacing his fingers together, then asked, “So, um...”
I realised we hadn’t given our names, and wondered if Fran had done this for a reason. Panicking, I said the first name that popped into my head.
“Fran.” I spluttered, realising too late that I’d just given my new friend’s name as my fake one which kind of defeated the point of using a fake name.
“Fran.” Cocker repeated, nodding slightly, “So, Fran, you’ve been letting your friend do all the talking. What is it about the government that has you so interested in asking me all these questions?”
He didn’t mean it in an ominous way, but the words got to me. I didn’t have a good answer for him, and I could feel beads of sweat starting to form on my forehead. I licked my lips, smiling as much as I could, trying to think of a made up answer that didn’t involve the truth in any way, shape, or form. As I tried to avoid eye contact with Mr Cocker, he rose from his seat, walking around his desk and taking Fran’s empty seat next to me.
“You know, I don’t think I’ve seen you around town before,” he smiled, his small teeth looking incredibly sinister to my monster-filled mind, “I know I’d remember having seen you before.”
He moved his seat closer, sort of jerking it two steps before putting a hand to his mouth, looking as if he were wiping saliva from his lips. It was more than a little sinister, and I felt myself edging away. His eyes burned into mine, his leer making me feel incredibly uncomfortable. Was he some sort of pervert, I thought to myself, who enjoys trying it on with teenaged girls? Then it hit me.
It must have been the Helen of Troy or the Sirens part of my curse! It was attracting him to me, making me seem alluring and irresistible, and making him feel as if I was the perfect woman. And I really wasn’t.
I glanced at the man’s eyes, which seemed red and almost glazed over. He smiled a greasy smile at me, “You’re a very attractive young lady,” he oozed, “has anybody ever told you that?” He then chose that moment to place his hand on my knee.
I jumped out of my seat, using the back of the chair as a sort of shield as I backed away from the dirty old man. He slowly swivelled in his seat, “Is something the matter?” he asked.
I shook my head, thinking I should really get out of there, then remembering that Fran was in the bathroom. What if this effect made him lust after any woman, not just me? I couldn’t be sure, and I couldn’t leave Fran on her own with him if that were the case. I gripped the back of the chair, anger bubbling up beneath the surface as I felt my finger sinking into the plastic, leaving their impression behind.
Then I heard the main door to the building opening. I turned where I stood, seeing a tall, elegant, angry woman walking towards the office.
“What exactly are you doing, Emmett?” the woman asked in a booming voice, “Is this another of your so called interns?”
“I’m not a--”
“Quiet!” the woman snarled, “I wasn’t talking to you.”
I felt myself instinctively slouch, forcing myself to sit back down in my seat as the woman glared at Mr Cocker.
“Chandra, sweetheart,” Cocker said soothingly, “there’s nothing going on between me and this girl. She’s still at school, for Christ’s sake.”
“So it’s schoolgirls now, is it?” Chandra, as that appeared to be her name, said angrily through grit teeth, “You disgust me.”
At that moment Fran came back from the toilet, stopping short at the doorway to the office. Chandra glared at her as well.
“And there are two of them? So you’re getting involved with kinky stuff now?”
“That intern was a onetime thing,” Cocker sighed, “I’m just talking to these girls about the electoral system and running a mayoral campaign. There’s nothing seedy going on.”
“That’s what you said last night at that dinner with the Morgan’s,” Chandra growled, “but don’t think I didn’t see how you were looking at Priscilla.”
“I wasn’t looking at anyone, honey,” Cocker retaliated, “I was just admiring her necklace.”
“More likely you were admiring what her necklace was resting on,” Chandra fumed.
“We’d best be going,” Fran said, nodding at me so that I’d get up from my seat. I did just that, edging around Chandra Cocker to avoid any confrontation with her.
“I don’t want to see either of you here again!” Chandra shouted as we headed to the doors, “You hear me? Get out!”
“We’re leaving, okay,” Fran groaned, “but we didn’t do anything with your husband.”
Before Chandra could respond we walked out the building, closing the door behind us.
“Well that was an unmitigated success,” I said, “we’re still no closer to finding out if Mr Cocker is the creature or not.”
Fran smiled, “When I said I was going to the toilet, I actually snuck off to have a look around to see if I could find the book. There was no trace of it.”
“Well, that doesn’t prove anything,” I said, “it could be at his house. Or he might have returned it already.”
“All true,” Fran smiled, “but didn’t you hear what his crazy wife said? They were at a dinner party last night. If Cocker was turning into a Cockatrice at sundown, then he wouldn’t have been able to attend a dinner party now, would he?”
Fran had a point.
“So where does that leave us?” I asked as we began to walk back to my place, “back at square one, I guess.”
“Not entirely,” Fran smiled, “if this fell through, I had a backup suspect in mind.”
“Who?” I asked.
Fran reached into her pocket, pulling out a business card, and smiled as she showed it to me.
Mar 27, 2018 05:29PM
Title : All I Ever Wanted
Author : L Duperval
Word Count : 1434
Rating : PG13
All I ever wanted was to become rich; not just rich, filthy rich. Rich enough to buy people around me. Rich enough to bend people to my every whim and fantasy. I always thought that rich equaled happiness. It was so important to me that it didn't matter how I got there.
Once you make the decision to do anything for money, your limits are boundless. At first, I had qualms, like anyone trying something new. My parents had always taught me to act by the book. Rules were meant to be respected, not ignored, and definitely not broken on purpose. As good Christians, they understood and lived by the notion that if you did something wrong, then you would be punished. And this education was always in the back of my mind. At first, anyway.
As a child of the television generation, I could not help but notice that in all the movies, all the shows, and even on the news, the "bad boys" were the ones who got the ladies, and the ones who made it to the top. Whether it was crooked bankers, insider trading, and even wiseguys (especially wiseguys!), it always seemed like the ones who flaunted the rules were the ones actually made it. They were the ones who seemed happiest with their lives, while the ones who lived by the law always had a dour look on their faces, as if they walked around with a whole lemon in their mouths. I did not want to end up a sourpuss like them. I'd rather have money, power, women, and a grin from ear to ear.
Like many before me, my life of crime began at the corner convenience store. The owners were relatively old, not really frail, but slow. Plus, my friends and I had devised a strategy where we would enter all at once in the store, and as one or two would be in line at the cash register, the others would wander around the store and put little things in their pockets and slip out. There were too many of us for the owners to do anything, and in those days there were no cameras to film us and plaster our faces on YouTube. So we got away with candy, candy bars, little stuff. No real harm done.
As time went on, I graduated to armed robbery. Now that was quite an adrenaline rush! With something to cover my face, and the power of life and death in my hand, seeing the fear and the panic in the eyes of my victims was always a real thrill. I never went in for a robbery planning to kill someone, so I never had to. My voice became deep at an early age, I was taller, larger, and bulkier than most of my classmates. So I was quite intimidating, and I found it fairly easy to get my hands on the money in the cash register.
As I became more successful at robbing convenience stores, I had more money to spend. I dressed better, got a better car, and I realized that the ladies were finally starting to notice me. And that's just like adding super fuel to a sports car: it will just make it better and faster.
When people asked me where I got the money, at first I didn't know what to say, but I soon realized that I could get away simply by telling them that I was investing my money on the stock market. Since nobody really understood how that worked back in the day, and I had read up a bit on the topic, it was easy to impress them and act like I knew what I was doing. Nobody could trace it, nobody asked me questions, and since I had a clean look and I was a bit of a nerd, people ate it up. People thought I had a brain for finance.
Yes, I had been asked to give out tips and help people on the stock market but I steadfastly refused to do so. I told everyone who was asking me that this was a strictly solo operation, and there were licensed brokers for them if they wanted to dabble in stocks.
As my skills increased, I got bored of convenience stores and their low yield. Instead I turned my eyes towards larger paydays. Of course my interest immediately went towards banks. I started with small country banks, the ones with little to no security because nobody in their right mind would expect someone in the community to come in and try to steal. However, those morons never seemed to think that people from outside of their community would find them to be an easy prey. And so I robbed small banks, and did it in a haphazard fashion that seemed quite random to make sure that the law could not easily be on my tail. I couldn't afford to have the police know ahead of time where I would hit next. And I got good enough at what I was doing, that people came looking for me. Not by name, mind you, but by reputation. In the underworld, if they want to find you, they have ways to get a message to you without knowing your face or your name.
I was intrigued enough to follow up on one of these queries. And it ended up getting me into vaster and more complex operations, where the payday was way beyond what I had done until now. The excitement came as much from the execution of the deed, as it did from the minutia needed to plan all the details. As much as I could, I operated solo, but for the fairly large heists, I worked with a few trusted acolytes. We managed to steal jewelry, art, fancy cars by the dozen, and so on.
All this led me to my first kill, which happened totally by accident when a passerby just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I shot the poor bastard unwittingly. Not by accident, it wasn't that stupid. It's not like the bullet just left the gun. I had a slight moment of surprise, pulled the trigger, when I really did not want to do so. You know, it happens. What came next, though, was very unexpected. I got an adrenaline rush like a surfing wave had enveloped me. I'm pretty sure I came close to an orgasm.
That's when I decided to turn to assassination as my main focus. I started with jilted wives who commandeered a kill on their husbands, jealous cuckolded husbands who ordered a kill on their wife's boyfriend, and then higher up the food chain: real estate developers, underworld bosses, even political figures. If you thought the Carlos the Jackal was a good at his job, you'd never met me. And of course the natural progression was to go for mass killings.
Why the mass killings, you ask? And especially why accept payment from ISIS to do so? To tell you the truth, terrorism has no color, and it doesn't matter if it comes from within your borders by your own people or from outside your borders by those pesky strangers. As soon as your goal is to make people afraid of doing the regular daily activities, it's terrorism. It's just more frightening when the killer’s skin color is brown rather than pink. But the end result is the same.
So was I born a terrorist, a killer, a thief? Of course not! But the images that I was shown from an early age whether from TV, the movies, or even the news media, always pushed me to want more, without getting bogged down in that nine-to-five grind. In order to have what I really wanted out of life, in order to have all the options afforded to me, I needed money, lots and lots of money. Getting an education, yes maybe it would have worked. But it was too long, and the return on investment was far from guaranteed. I was good at stealing, and I got good at killing too. But it was all for the same reason: living the American dream.
So, you want to send me to the electric chair? That's fine. But when you do, be aware that you are killing someone whose main fault was to buy into all this crap that was fed into his young brain by the society he lives in. You kill me, you kill part of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thank you, Your Honor.
Mar 28, 2018 11:08AM
Author: C P Cabaniss
Length: 1408 Words
There was once a girl--well, a being, to be more precise--who dreamed. I can hear you all saying, but everyone dreams! so before you get hysterical, hear me out.
It was not the fact that the girl dreamed that is the amazing bit, but the fact she could think at all. When your brain is made of wires, your eyes are glass and screws, and your heart pumps electricity instead of blood, people tend to regard you differently than they might a girl with flesh and bone.
This girl's story, like all good stories, began with an idea.
So let us step back in time, to a small house in a small neighborhood, where a small boy named Peter lived.
A few months ago, it had not just been Peter and his increasingly silent, zombie-like parents that inhabited the little brown house on Crescent Street. No, a few months ago they had had Petra, Peter's older sister and the person he idolized. Petra was not her given name, but she was a fan of all things science fiction and had chosen the name after reading Ender's Game when she was very young. She had liked to call Peter her mini-me, since their names were nearly the same.
On this day where we find Peter, puttering away in the shop over the garage, it has been exactly six months since Petra's funeral. His parents were sullen and angry as they relived that nightmarish event. Instead of pulling Peter closer, they continued to push him away. And so it was that Peter found refuge in the little shop Petra had loved, her inventions watching him from shelves, the three computers whirring away, still working on tasks Petra had set while she was alive.
This was the one place where Peter could be close to his sister and far from his parents; they refused to even consider entering the space that had so recently housed their daughter's dreams.
For months Peter had been spending an increasing amount of time in the shop, hoping that his parents either didn't notice or didn't care. Now he is watched by the vacant glass eyes of a robot his sister had been building, its frame near completion.
Peter's hands worked furiously as he typed into one of the computers. "Almost there," he mumbled under his breath, making the final keystrokes.
Several things happened in quick succession after that: Peter trembled, breaths coming in quick, sharp gasps; the computer whirred louder and faster, screen brightening to a near blinding brilliance; the robot doll closed her eyes.
The computer fell silent, the screen going blank. Peter, having missed the robot's movement, shook his head in defeat. This had been his one chance. Without Petra's foundation to build from, he had no chance of making this work. Tears began to fall from his eyes, sliding down his rounded cheeks.
"Why so glum, plum?"
Peter froze, afraid to lift his head. It was what his sister had always said to him when he was sad. This was not his sister's voice, but nearly--a computerized version that was imperfect, but close enough to real that it made Peter's heart ache to hear it.
"P-Petra?" He ventured, still unable to raise his eyes.
Now, let me tell you a little of how this new Petra came to be. The flesh and bone Petra was a brilliant girl with a sharp mind that knew no limits. Her love of science fiction had propelled her into a study of artificial intelligence and by the time she was in her early teens she was building her own computers and designing her own little robots. What she wanted, however, was not just another robot that could listen to commands, but one that could think.
In her shop above the garage, Petra worked tirelessly on her project. She recorded her voice, things she said every day, and used this to develop the beginning of a personality chip. She put the best of herself into the program as she developed it--she didn't want to create a monster, after all--and hoped that over time she would be able to adapt the program, allowing it to grow and change on its own. How she was going to manage this she was not quite sure.
And then, on the night of her breakthrough, just after adjusting the program with what she believed would change everything, the accident happened. Too soon, brilliant Petra's life was slipping away and there was no way to call it back.
When Peter finally forced himself to look at the robot that shared his sister's voice, her memories, he saw something unexpected. It was not the real Petra, he knew that, but there was a spark in those glass eyes that no machine could have on its own.
After another round of tears--more from joy than sadness this time--Peter and the new Petra had a deep, serious conversation.
"We can't let anyone find out about you," he said. "Not mom, not dad. Especially not them."
His parents were lost to Peter and he did not want them to take away the only part of his sister that remained. And so they agreed. This would be their secret.
But of course we all know how secrets are. Impossible to keep, easy to break. Soon it was out and Peter's life was changed. Petra was taken away, to some laboratory somewhere to be studied by learned scientists, not young boys in garage workshops. His tears did nothing to sway his parents. They considered the robot Petra an affront to their daughter, a stain on the memories they harbored so dearly.
So Peter cried until his tears were dry. Until all of him was dry. And eventually his parents divorced, which often happens when a couple loses a child. They grew distant from each other, silences stretching into days. Peter was there to be the bridge that held them together, but it was never enough. They distanced themselves from him, too. And the shop was dissected, all of Petra's things thrown out, given away, or shipped off to the lab that held robot Petra. This was a blow to Peter, because he now felt that he had lost his sister twice.
"All I ever wanted," he said into the void his family once filled, "was to have my parents or Petra back. The robot Petra was the closest I could get, because my parents no longer cared."
This is, of course, a hard accusation. But then, there was no one to hear him, when there should have been Father and Mother.
And now here we are, contemplating the dreams of a robot girl. For while Peter was being broken, his life twisted and pulled until it bore no resemblance to the one he had grown up living, Petra was being prodded and poked as computer experts tried to figure out what made her what she was. They took her apart, put her back together, killed her power source and rebooted her. Again and again the tests were performed.
Through all of this, Petra began to dream of escaping the prison she had been forced to enter. She missed Peter, though she had only known him a short time. She was all the best parts of the flesh and blood Petra, and Peter had been the best parts of both.
It was through all of these tests that the robot Petra became what the flesh and blood Petra had wanted. This was the point in her existence when she started to think. Not just the programmed thoughts of Petra, but her own thoughts. She wanted out so she could go to Peter, comfort him like any big sister would, but she also wanted freedom. Petra did not need sleep like those who studied her, so while they rested, she devised a plan.
Only, once she escaped, leaving devastation in her wake, there was no way to find Peter. Petra had gone rogue for nothing.
"Not nothing," she told herself. "I have freedom. And while I have freedom, there is a chance I can find Peter."
There are now active "Robot Girl" groups, tracking the movement of the rogue unit that shares so much of Peter's sister Petra. The scientists she tricked are also on her trail, but no one has caught her yet. In some ways, I hope they never do.
, Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei"
Mar 31, 2018 05:51AM
sorry again. Does everyone want the new contest up around Thursday or sooner...?
Mar 31, 2018 07:00AM
Whenever works for you to get it up, CJ. :) Hope all is well.
, Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei"
(last edited Apr 05, 2018 09:37AM)
Apr 01, 2018 05:53AM
Thanks CP. My schedule has been hectic lately especially with work. I appreciate you saying to do the contest whenever I can.
Apr 02, 2018 04:59PM
I quite like the idea of the WSS becoming the FSS (Fortnightly Short Story)
, Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei"
Apr 03, 2018 09:54PM
Edward wrote: "I quite like the idea of the WSS becoming the FSS (Fortnightly Short Story)"
, Atm Seeker in the "Lin Kuei"
Apr 05, 2018 09:47AM
Polls are now up!
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