Tag Archive | prompter: bones

January by the Numbers 24: Forgiveness Forbidden (a ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (We’re in February now but hey)

From [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters‘s prompt “Forbidden, forgotten, foreshadowing, forgiving
;” a story? At least a ficlet.

You could call it foreshadowing, but in some way, that suggests forethought. This wasn’t planned. It wasn’t fought-out or thought-out or talked out.

It just… happened. The way sometimes you mean to go south and end up north, or you mean to do the dishes and just… don’t.

Except we’re not talking about a person, a misstep, a sink full of dishes.

We’re talking about the Forgotten.

It started with a forgiving, or, at least, something they called a Forgiving. It was a day declared first by the grass-roots groups, then by the astroturf groups, and then, within three short years, by the Leader of the Nation.

Forgiving Day was supposed to be about amnesty – little amnesties and big amnesties. It was a day for libraries to forgive fines and for courts to reduce back fees and paperwork charges. It was a day, originally, for friends to move past small quarrels. It was a day to let people admit to knowledge of large crimes in return for forgiveness from small crimes.
Then someone got up in arms about what, exactly, should be forgiven.

And once one person had made a stink, then other people started stinking, and soon the whole place just stank.

First, you could only bring back ten books to the library and they couldn’t be more than 10 years overdue.

Then you couldn’t be forgiven a crime with a victim.

Then it was forbidden to forgive angry words.

There were many more steps along the way, of course, but soon the only things that could be forgiven were very minor offenses — jaywalking, perhaps, or swearing in public. And anything that couldn’t be forgiven… was absolutely forbidden.

Soon, Forgiveness day became an empty ceremony, and all of its history forgotten. Since it was forbidden to tell stories of the way things had been…

You could call it foreshadowing, I suppose, that first argument on the Council Steps: whether or not it was acceptable to forgive everything.

But that would suggest premeditation and that, of course, is forbidden.

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January by the Numbers 23: Void (ficlet)

January by the numbers continues (We’re in February now but hey)

From [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters‘s prompt “Void;” a story? At least a ficlet.
Every Bureaucrat had their stamps. Validated. Approved. Rejected. Further Review needed. The stamps held the power of their words, and every honest citizen feared having their chit marked Rejected.

Most wore their chits on a necklace, or hung off an earring. They weren’t large things, and one didn’t want to lose them. To lose your chit meant to not be a citizen anymore, and to not be a citizen anymore meant crimes against you were, at worst, littering. Public noise nuisance. That sort of thing.

Some people — people like Chalene, cautious people — had their chit tattooed on them by a registered, Approved tattooist. That way, nobody could take it from there, and they could not lose it.

(Identity theft, chit-theft, was known to happen. There were children born against regulations who never had a chit. There were people who had gone chit-less but needed to pretend for some reason. There were the Void, who had more cause than most to need to pretend).

If you lived your life within the regulations, staying within your Approved position, engaging only in Approved hobbies, you almost never ran into a Bureaucrat: birth, graduation, hiring, retirement, death.

But if you broke the rules — no, if you broke the rules and got caught, you would encounter a Bureaucrat. If you wanted to pair-bond permanently, to move into a new residence, to have a child, you would encounter a Bureaucrat. If you wanted to move cities, you would encounter a whole slew of Bureaucrats.

Chalene had three Rejected stamps on her chit — new house, new pair-bond, new child. You had to have at least one, or you were a little too straight-and-narrow. If you had too many, you risked seeing a High Bureaucrat.

She had three, and she was staring at a Bureaucrat with her phlegmatic expression, daring the man to give her the fourth. She had filled out all the forms for promotion perfectly. She had her four character witnesses and her five quality appraisals. She had seven hundred dollars, the price for this interview.

“Chit please?” The Bureaucrat was nervous. Chalene was pleased. He should be nervous. Giving someone their fourth Rejected was the equivalent of sending them to one’s superiors and having all of that work reviewed. It meant they would likely be subjected to a life audit — and all of the Rejecting Bureaucrats decisions would be subjected to the same.

Chalene held out her arm and met his eyes. The tattoo on her arm said there is no escaping this decision. People had been promoted by less-intimidated Bureaucrats than this.

But her file said Do Not Promote, and there were no positions in the bank where she worked open for promotion anyway.

The Bureaucrat’s hand shook. He grabbed a stamp and pressed it onto Charlene’s arm.

Further Review Needed.

He swallowed. “Tenth door on the right, tenth floor, in ten minutes. Go.”

Chalene stared at her arm. She had expected an audit. She had expected a review of her file.

But she was being passed to a High Bureaucrat. And only the High Bureaucrats had the power to Void someone.

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Thought Experiments

“I’m going to ask you to imagine…”

The classroom, as a single individual, shuddered. They all closed their eyes obediently; they grasped the padded edges of their desks carefully. They began to imagine, as they were told. But they did it all with the air of someone being told to walk themselves to the electric chair.

The teacher either did not notice or did not care. The lights went down, certain switches were flipped, and the electrodes attached to the students’ skulls began to do their dirty work.

“…that you and your tablemate were partners in a crime. A theft. And you are now in separate rooms in the jail, while the DA speaks to you about confessing.”

None of them opened their eyes. They could not if they’d wanted to, and they didn’t need to. They knew who their tablemate was; that never changed. And the scene was already playing out in their heads.

Carrie looked around the interrogation room. The DA was a tired-looking man in his late fifties, his trenchcoat old, his hands older. “We know you did it. The question is if you’ll confess first or if your partner will.”

She could feel the handcuffs around her wrists. She could feel the cold seat pressing against her bum. She could feel, more, the panic making her heart race, thump-thump, thump-thump.

The DA looked at a monitor. “Looks like your partner panicked and died. You’re off the hook this time.”

In the front row, one student slumped. The teacher flipped two switches.

Written to [personal profile] thebonesofferallettersprompt.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/841128.html. You can comment here or there.

Letter Home

Dear Caroline,

I made it through the first month of school. That was hard enough. No internet! Not that I had time to worry about it.

Things are weird here. The upperclassmen are just about monsters. The older kids are rough, of course. There’s a lot of hazing, and one of the other first-year students got pretty messed up. They call it Hell Night. I understand why.

I think I’ll be able to come home for Christmas, but… things are weird. Um. You know how you always joked about us looking more like two girls than boyfriend and girlfriend, or how I could always wear your jeans? Well, things are…

“Nev!” The pounding on the door was augmented by a voice through the intercom. “Nev, come on!”

Nevada slipped out of the chair and headed for the door, the letter left forgotten on the desk.

Well, things are different now.

Then again, they usually were.

Written to [personal profile] thebonesofferallettersprompt.

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How Do You Know it Won’t Work

For [personal profile] thebonesofferalletters‘ prompt, set in the Fae Apoc ‘verse.

“It doesn’t work like that, Esau.” Cinnabar looked out the window at her son and tried not to laugh. “I’m sorry, but it really doesn’t.”

“How do you know?” At nine years old, Esau had opinions on everything, and most of them ended or began with how do you know? “Have they researched how the genetics work for this sort of thing?”

“Well…” Cinnabar looked around. Her older three weren’t in earshot, the ones that were pledged to Addergoole. “The Director at Addergoole has done some research, at least through the last two generations.”

“Has she tried sympathetic links?”

“Well, there was the Bull-Dozer.” She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I don’t think any studies have been done on surrounding yourself with an animal to encourage a Change into that animal, genetics don’t work that way. Besides, Esau, where did you get all the red pandas?

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