Tag Archive | prompt: thimbleful

On the Edge

They had always lived on the edge.

Iai had heard of other families where they did not; on occasion, they had wandered inland and met such families.  They traded in things that one could farm in a stable, calm environment; they sold things that required land and water in different ratios and which often would not do well quite so close to an edge.

But Iai’s family lived on the edge.  Their home was built such that if one walked out onto the roof, in one direction would be the inland, and in the other direction, one would be looking down over the edge into the river far below.   Their front porch let one sit with one’s toes dangling off into the air.

Of course, there was not much time for such things.  There were always the iaini-bird eggs to gather, down along the thin edges of cliff where only Iai’s family and others like them could make their way.  There were the ronuno and apree herb-plants to collect, those things that wanted the droppings of the iaini-birds and the misted air from the waterfall below.  There were the nets to drop down, down, down, to haul back up full of lost goods from upriver, full of fish and shellfish and all sorts of goodies.
Then there was all that to trade to the inlanders for their mutton and chicken and grain, things that could not grow on cliffs or hanging off the edge, like Iai, like Iai’s brothers Ronu and Pree.  The cycle of collect and trade, collect and trade worked like their safety lines, like the railing on the porch and on the roof – it was a bit frayed, a bit thin at times, but in the end, they managed to keep from falling over the edge.
But, feet on a ledge barely wide enough to be seen, leaning down into the iaini-bird nest to gather eggs and ronuno, Iai never forgot exactly how close that edge was.


Written to Oct. 18’s Thimbleful Thursday Challenge

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Thimbleful Thursday: Enigma

It came out over coffee, the way many things do.

In the Bureau of Enigmas, there was an entire department devoted to Mapping, and yet the seven of them rarely consulted.  Each would pick a phenomenon – or, more often, be assigned one – and would map out its trends.

This was not, despite the name, soley geographic mapping, but tracking over time and over demographic notes.

The Bureau covered such a large span of enigmas – cryptids and their wake at one end, the Tiny Ones at the other end – that there was always some trend that needed documenting, some break in reality that needed following and studying so that, if the study itself did not heal it (and in 45.6% of the time, it did), those that were tasked with dealing with such things could do their job equipped with the most information possible. Forewarned is forearmed, the saying went, and in the Bureau of Enigmas, forearmed often meant the difference between life and death.

Still, despite the work, there were always coffee breaks.  And when three Mappers happened to be sipping dark, fresh coffee with the slight taste of the Other-Sphere, they did as all people did, whatever the papers or oaths or soul-binding contacts suggested, and they chatted.

Today they were chatting about three things with no pattern, a plague, a spate of madness, and a serial killer.  None of them appeared to be settling into anything regular.  None of them were predictable, and predictable was important.

Until one mentioned Chicago and the other two stared.

Twenty minutes later, coffee forgotten, they had put their three maps together.  There, in Chicago, there was their nexus.  And from there-

“There’s a method,” one of them breathed.

“It’s madness,” another one muttered.  But most of what they did was madness.

“But it’s a shape,” the third agreed.  “There’s a pattern to the madness.”

They rang an intern to tell Field.  They had their Enigma.

 


Written To Oct. 25th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt, although not really in the wordcount. 

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“I Feel Like Killing the Tzar”

The Oalderapo had a tradition:  If you indicated your intentions and nobody stopped you, you were free of any repercussions for those actions, unless the entire town suffered with you.

Over time, this had evolved: one could not, normally, simply say “I feel like killing the tzar” and have nobody stop you, but one could paint a very clear picture of one’s self killing said tzar and then wait twenty-four hours.

That had only happened once.

The next tzar had banned literal representations of crimes in paintings, sculptures, or drawings.

Three tzars later, interpretive dance and poetry of criminal act were banned.

One could go back to saying “I feel like killing the tzar tomorrow;” one could try to say it very sarcastically. One could write allegory, or plays.

Or one could run with idiom.  For instance: Most ships where an Oalderapaline served had a ship painted on the starboard deck and a broom painted on the port.  One could indicate by a simple game of hopscotch if one planned to jump ship or jump broom.

On the ship Epalanano, named for the tzar who had banned paintings, there was also a drawing of a grave, a nice one, and a piece of chalk, although the current Tzar’s name had taken up near-permanent residence.

Today, there was quite a bit of dancing.


Written to October 4th’s Thimbleful Thursday Prompt: https://thimblefulthursday.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/thimbleful-thursday-prompt-54/ 

Bliss, Ignorance, Beauty – Truth?

There was a room in the middle of the megalopolis, in the heart of the business district, in the center of a skyscraper.

The room was not large, not in a place that used every inch of space and climbed higher for more, but it was enough.

It occupied a corner of no-man’s-land made when two zaibatsu had expanded into all other available space between them, a place neither had claimed quickly enough and now wouldn’t dare usurp. It was hard to find; you had to be told where it was, and even then, you usually had to be guided.

Almost unique in all the megalopolis, there was no charge to enter, but one was only allowed to stay for an hour at a time, and one was only allowed to visit once per week.

Because in this strange room with the very soft floor and the even softer furniture, with no gatekeeper save one small robot that looked like nothing more than a miniature flying saucer; in here, staring at the ceiling made to look like a sky with no buildings around, for your allotted hour – you could forget.

In here, you would feel the breeze on your skin, the sunshine on your face, the grass beneath your hands, and for an hour, you would be blissfully ignorant of everything the world had to offer.


Written to Sept. 27th’s Thimbleful Writing Prompt – Ignorance is Bliss.

Thimbleful Thursday: Zonked

I think the best warning for this one is: This creeped me out.  No body horror but brain horror.

“We have an agreement.”  The woman’s smile was fake.  “You signed the papers, the money has been deposited, and you are ready to comply.”

“Yes.”  Tepha nodded shortly.  “You have my thumbprint.  You have my consent, and I’ve seen the money in the account.”  She put down her Access – the cheapest possible one, but it did show her things like bank accounts.  She’d done the three swipes necessary to take the account out of her name.  She couldn’t touch it anymore, and that was important.

“Good.  Now, I know you’ve probably heard some things about the Procedure.  Half of those are lies and the other half… well. You’ll find out soon enough.”

Considering the things Tepha had heard, that was not remotely comforting.  

It didn’t need to be.  She wasn’t here for comfort.

She sat down in the chair the woman indicated.  She closed her eyes.

“We can’t sedate you for this part, but don’t worry.  Most people lose consciousness very quickly.”

She didn’t know if that was a good thing.  She knew – if half the rumors were true – that nothing was the same after you’d been Zonked.  She knew – if even a quarter of the rumors were true – that it wasn’t reversible.

None of that mattered.

The wires attached to her head.  The pill set on her tongue, a wafer that tasted fakely of fruit.  She felt it dissolve. She felt a sudden jolt of pain. And then…

Then she felt nothing.

“There we go.”  The woman removed the wires and waved her hand in front of Tepha’s face.  The eyes tracked. There was no expression.

“Good.”  The woman nodded.  “Stand up and go through the blue door.  Follow the instructions you are given.”

Zonked people were cheaper than robots, could often still handle independent thought, and the price of feeding and housing them was minimized by their lack of want.  If the woman found them creepy… feeling was not part of her job description either.

The woman who had been Tepha did as she had been told.  There was nothing in her to suggest any desire to do otherwise.


Written to July 19th’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt: Zonked Out

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Thimbleful Thursday: Parts and Points

“You, uh, really take trying out your product seriously, don’t you?”

The man was nervous. Sheen’s workshop did that, got people thinking about all the pieces coming to life, or about all the meat parts they still had.

That was, however, no excuse for rudeness.

“Mmm?” Sheen made like he didn’t know what the guy was talking about.  

“Your, uh, your arm?”

He’d actually said it.  Sheen marked a point in his favor.  

“This?” Sheen sent a thought through the wiring and detached his metal arm — mostly composites and ceramic, but “metal arm, meat arm” sounded cooler.  “Does this—” he waved the stump “—  look like something I did to myself?” Continue reading

Thimbleful Thursday: Vent

Content warning: Barbie nudity discussed, technology/human hybrid


“The trick has always been balance.” Idella Passmore had that dangerous combination of skilled enthusiasm and charisma; the tour group was listening intently, despite having no idea what she was talking about. “You want sufficient technology to retard or stop decay, of course, but people want to be people. This particular model involves a cybernetic torso with a RealSkin(tm) cover. Most of the organs have been replaced, but the brain remains and the heart continues to pump blood. In some cases, we choose to keep the uterus; in some we replace the heart with a technological marvel like our HeartPump2000.” Continue reading

Exploit

Okay, content warning, I creeped myself out. 

🤖

“Kelly, he’s a person, he’s not a robot, you can’t just – Kelly, what are you doing?”

“So there’s this line of – okay, they’re not robots, but they’re programmed, aren’t they?  They’re the Zero-One-Seven line out of Detroit, and they’re, ah,  They’re beautiful, for one.”  Kelly gestured at the man in question, a handsome, tall, twenty-something dressed in a simple tunic and pants that looked too sterile and antiseptic for the city street.  He smiled back, a wooden expression that did not reach his eyes.  “And they have an exploit in them.”

“Kelly,” Susan repeated, “he’s a person.  People don’t have – they don’t have – really?”

“Really.  And the thing is, he wasn’t purchased – there’s this loophole, you can’t actually buy a person, even someone from on of the programmed lines.”

“Good!  Good, Kelly, that’s awful.”

“But indentures are still legal.”  Kelly stroked the back of the man’s neck affectionately.  He did not move, except his eyes, which half-closed.  “And what’s more, there’s this clause in the programming that is suppose to ensure obedience.  But what it ends up doing—”

“I’m going to be sick,” Susan muttered.

“Oh come on.  They sell these Programmables, they’re supposed to be — well, programmed.  It’s what they’re sold for.  They volunteer.  Anyway.  There’s this thing where they’re supposed to imprint on the person to wake them up, who is supposed to be their indenture-holder.”

“:That’s pretty horrible.”

“They’re programmables, Susan,” Kelly repeated.  “It’s not like they have feelings until they’re programmed in.  Anyway. That means that whoever wakes them up essentially holds their indenture. They can’t be re-imprinted without a full factory reset.

“You stole a programmable human?  A person.  Kelly.  How did you?”

“I hacked a Programmable, using a really obvious exploit in their system.  And those training screens they use?  They have no security at all.  I hacked him, Susan.  And now he’s mine.”

She stroked his hair again, paying no attention to the way his jaw twitched at her touch.

🤖

Written to yesterday’s Thimbleful Thursday’s prompt: Zero Hour.


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X-Factor

“We’ve studied one million samples.”  Professor Georges was very solemn.  It didn’t keep Professor Osborne from scoffing at him.

“There aren’t a million people in this part of the world anymore.”

“We have been studying for a long time.  At approximately fifty thousand people a year for the first one hundred fifty years, and then a much reduced rate.  The last five years, we took samples from merely a thousand people.”

“So your rate of testing decreased over time.”

“The population decreased over time, and the methods became, by necessity, more circumspect: we could no longer use blood tests overtly.  Also, our own population was badly hit by the Disaster.”

“Yes, of course it was.  What did you determine?” Continue reading

Young at Heart

Written to the Thimbleful Thursday Prompt from yesterday, of the same name. 

🖍️

“It’s a cloned heart, freshly made in our lab.”

Dr. Hischa was very proud of the heart in a box. It was displayed like the crown jewels, held up for the cameras and, more importantly, for the patient. “This heart isn’t the heart of a donor. Nobody had to die for it.  It’s your heart — but your heart as it was when you were a teenager.”

The patient, a woman in her eighties, coughed out a laugh. “Hopefully early teens.”

“Had wild teenage years, did you?”  Dr.Hischa remained jocular, but a very observant viewer might have noticed a slight twitch.

“That’s a good word for it. Wild.” The patient chuckled.  

“Well, now you can be young at heart, ah-ha-ha, again.  Won’t that be wonderful?  Now, let’s just…”

Prepping included reams of paperwork; recovery included weeks of testing and physical therapy.  When the cameras once again turned on Ms. Palorin, she was lounging sideways on a chaise, her children and grandchildren eyeing her uncertainty.

“So, Ms. Palorin-”

“Oh, call me Milly.”

“So, Milly.”  Dr. Hischa’s smile was strained around the edges.  “How are you feeling?”

“I have to say, I haven’t felt this good since I was a teenager the first  time.  I feel great.  This is the bee’s knees.  I can run up stairs.  Want to see me do a cartwheel?”

“Mom!”  Her eldest daughter, sporting pinched face and frown lines, threw up her hands.  “Mother, you can’t!  Act your age—”

“-not your shoe size, nyah, nyah.  I know, Catherine.  But right now I feel like acting six.  Or maybe sixteen.  This new heart is wonderful, Dr. Hischa!”

“It’s wonderful that you’re feeling capable of being more active again, Ms. Palorin.  Now, of course, the rest of your body will still require some care.  I do recall from your chart that your broke your hip two years ago, so cartwheels might be a little over the top…”

“Pshaw!  Besides, I said call me Milly.  ‘Ms. Palorin’ sounds so old, and Mr. Palorin has been gone for thirty years—”

“MOTHER!”

“Oh, Cathy, it’s not like it’s not true.  Anyway.  I’m having a blast with this new heart.  I think I’ll go out and see what the kids are doing these days.  What do you say, Susie?”

Her granddaughter, of about the age to be called “kids these days” grinned widely. “Of course!  I can show you the new dances, too.  It’ll be wild!”

“Ms. Palorin, your hip—”

“What? It’s not like you can’t just clone me a new one. And then,” Milly laughed, “I can be young at hips again, too, and think how much fun that will be!”

🖍️


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