Tag Archives: dystopian

They grow up so fast…

amusement-park-jhardy

August 12th – A day that would forever go down in infamy – the day we harnessed the power of children’s adrenaline. It seemed so simple at the time – take them to a fairground, let them become excited, or better still, a little afraid, (painlessly) extract the chemicals from their tiny bodies and convert them into chalky bricks of unbridled combustibility.

The energy crisis was solved over night!

But then came the drawbacks.

The children became bored with their escapades and ceased to produce the desired fight or flight responses, but by then the world’s economy had been built upon their backs, forcing scientists to find new and ingenious ways to stimulate the release of hormones, heightening tolerance, pumping up body mass and creating something wholly other – unwieldy, petulant and indestructible.

If only we’d gone with green energy, or fossil fuels, or even good ole nuclear – anything but this…

 

Written for: Friday Fictioneers

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Insect Overlords…

roger-bultot-art-exhibit

George emerged from his cell with a skip in his step.

‘Proboscis Saturday!’

All the S’s.

Sssssssss.

So much better than ‘Compound Eye Wednesday‘ – No alliteration there.

Sure, he’d have to listen to Gary banging on about how he used to be a hedge-fund manager, but the work was easy and he could let his mind wander, such as it was.

The apocalypse had been a positive boon to the intellectually challenged – an affirming experience – the great leveller.

And as for those with a proclivity for submissive activities…well!

George scrubbed away with a big fat smile on his silly ole face.

Gary mumbled something impenetrable about investing in derivatives…

 

Written for: Friday Fictioneers 

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The Bad Ole Days…(CRFF 16/03/17)

march-16

It was the future and everything was fine – better than fine in fact – damn near perfect. The trains ran on time, war was a memory and grass grew equally green on both sides.

The problem was one of earth-shattering boredom.

Without conflict very little was ever in flux, and without change no one ever needed to react to anything.

If only there was some nightmarish netherworld where ‘stuff’ happened and insidious foes could be resisted.

But such a place could never be. The benevolent overlords who ruled with oppressive politeness wouldn’t allow such a phenomena to flourish…

 

Written for: Carrot Ranch (99 words on an inverted view of Dystopia).

 

Also, should you be so inclined – One of my stories I, The Stakes has just been published on ‘The Drabble.’ I thank you…

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‘God told me that you’re my future husband.’

Say what you like about political correctness, but watching a fat security guard chasing a thin shoplifter is hilarious! Jump ahead to the guy’s appraisal with his boss stepping through the moral minefield of how to handle a zero success rate.

‘So…addressing the elephant in the room.’

After an initial spurt of adrenaline the shoplifter realised that he was over-egging it somewhat and slowed to a vague jog (whilst still comfortably pulling away). The security guard issued a four-letter tirade (presumably aimed at himself and his inability to to run 100 yards) and was rightly chastised by a young mother.

The incident topped off a surreal day that began with a dream in which I was lying in bed pissed off at having woken up twenty minutes before the alarm was due to go off .

‘You’re dreaming,’ I thought and woke up a full hour before the alarm.

Son of a…FINE…BEVERAGE!

As I waited for the kettle to boil I checked my email and encountered a spurious block of incoherent prose free of introduction or full stops.

Some context: My previous interaction with the sender was 18-months previous and consisted of the following…

‘I need to talk to you.’

‘Sure. What’s up?’

‘God told me you’re my future husband.’

‘OK. Told you how?’

‘A loud voice in my head.’

A BRIEF PAUSE DURING WHICH I CONSIDERED POSSIBLE RESPONSES:

  • OPTION 1: ‘Do you know what the loud voice in my head is shouting?’
  • OPTION 2. Sell house / Change name / Take dystopian-future approach to all subsequent interactions with mankind
  • OPTION 3. ‘God’s playing silly buggers.’

‘How do you feel about me?’

‘Oh, no offence, but I don’t find you attractive in the slightest.’

‘…Then what’s all the fuss about?’

‘Why would God promise me to a man I don’t fancy? That’s why I’ve been speaking with all my friends about it for the last year.’

‘Did God put a time-scale on this union?’

‘No.’

I breathed a sigh of relief.

You (& God)’ll have to find me first.

Omnipresent you say? I shall put that to the test…

…Anyway, that was then. This is now. Amidst the text I saw the phrase ‘…seeing a bereavement councillor even though no one has died…’

My tolerance is not what it once was. Keeping the curtains drawn for fear of being seen through a sniper scope I did the old sociopath shimmy (Delete / Block / Book plastic surgeon / Liquidate assets).

Off to work and to a client interview, during which the interviewer said:

‘I like you. Not sure that you like me.’

‘Yes. I like you. You seem nice.’

‘Nice?’

Uncertain as to what superlative she was expecting (magnificent? Unparalleled? Bendy?) I opted for very nice. This was a mistake.

later, during a heated discussion a colleague threatened to insert an empty wine bottle into my bottom (a practice known as making corporate in-roads).

‘You’re having a shocker!’ I said to the aforementioned security guard.

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Life in Dystopia…

There’s a long tradition in both science fiction and satire of predicting real-life events way in advance. Typically, when they manifest in reality, it’s in an even more ludicrous form then was previous jested.

Take the news for example. In the 90’s ‘The Day Today’ was a deliberately over-caffeinated parody of the emerging 24-hour coverage that is now commonplace – with unnecessarily grandiose graphics and brash, coiffured presenters. One of its creators (Armando Iannucci) has often been asked if he would ever consider bringing the show back, but has always cited Fox News as being far more pantomimic than anything he ever did as a joke.

In the 70’s Demon Koontz wrote ‘Demon Seed’- a book about a super computer that traps a woman in her automated house using an internet-like entity to take over all the applications in her house. There was a story in the papers last week about Russian spies hacking smart kettles and toasters (In the book the woman is also impregnated with a robotic abomination, but give the world time…)

The moon landing, cyber space, mobile phones, micro-waves, the atomic bomb and drones – all written about by HG Wells, Isaac Asimov et al long before they arrived.

And sixteen years ago The Simpsons did a sketch in which Donald Trump was president of the United States!

Here’s a dystopian thriller for you. It’s about a bunch of people who find out the most powerful country on earth’s been taken over by a monster and respond by going on social media and sharing comedy memes about it…

No, wait…That was Facebook this morning!

What has happened in America is insane. What is happening in the UK is equally crazy – not just Brexit (which I’m fervently opposed to), but also how vociferous many of the remain voters are about broad-brushing their opposite numbers as ‘idiot, racists’ and momentarily forgetting that we live in a democracy.

In-keeping with tradition I wrote a story last week that, this morning, happened exactly as described. It’s about a white, bald (Donald would hate him) male who rings up an energy company to complain about his gas bill. After speaking with a call centre agent he gets escalated up to a man with a Spanish name and a Spanish accent.

‘Could you go outside and check the meter for me?’ he asks.

‘Not currently,’ the bald man replies, ‘I’m in the bath.’

‘At this hour?’

‘Yes. I’ve got flu and I was up all night watching the end of the world on tele.’

‘Ah yes, the orange apocalypse.’

The Spanish sounding man calls back once the bald man is ensconced in a beanie hat and other apparel, and they continue to talk about politics rather than the bill. The Spanish man is an immigrant who voted Brexit, but now has buyer’s remorse. The bald man asks if it’ll even happen with all the anger and legal wrangling. No conclusion is reached.

At some point they resolve the bill discrepancy without partisanship or abuse.

‘Good luck surviving the nuclear winter,’

‘You too buddy.’

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The future, and still no levitating chairs…

Goddamn you ‘Tomorrow’s World’! Where is the sweet-smelling utopia you promised me in the late 70’s?

In its place is a vision of dystopian angst where a man sits in traffic being bombarded by moronic tweets. He could have made something of his life if it wasn’t for all the constant interruptions. To his left and right he sees that his fellow motorists are in similar catatonic states. His brain twitches and splutters with occasional life ‘…What was that great idea I had yesterday before someone sent me a link to a monkey throwing faeces at a nun? I’ll never get those eight seconds back…What other important stuff did it shunt it out of my head?…Can’t get my relatively high-powered car above 15 miles an hour…must invent time machine…warn past self…can’t…form…rationale…help me…’

Arriving at work he finds that a shadowy conspiracy has altered the rules of established logic. The doors to the server room and all of its valuable data have been left open, but the stationary cupboard is being protected by a hexadecimal key-code. Even if he solves the code he’ll still have the armoured drones to deal with, but he really needs those post-it notes. He considered sacrificing one of his team members.

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ he chides himself, ‘think of the admin.’

Poor chap – his primitive cranium simply hasn’t had enough time to adapt to the sudden super-stimuli of modern life – all those endless images streaming at him, the conference calls where someone forgets to go on mute and reveals that their multi-tasking abilities consist of lying about working from home whilst doing the hoovering, and the blinking pilot light informing him that his synapses are melting. Too much information.

A friend recently extolled the virtues of a new voice-activated i-phone feature whereby you can ask what the weather will be like, and then it tells you! ‘You used to have to go out and buy a newspaper. It took at least ten minutes. Now it takes ten seconds.’

‘Yes, but what an enjoyable ten minutes they were,’ I replied, ‘getting a brolly, maybe whistling a made-up tune and enjoying a brisk walk, perhaps engaging in conversation with a real / non-chat-room-based woman, focusing on one thing. Now you’ve got to fill up those ten minutes with other meaningless crap! Everything’s so efficient nowadays, so why do I have less time?’

…Which was possibly a massive overreaction, but he seemed to take it all in good spirits.

And besides, being focused isn’t always a good thing. In some cases it can lead to obsessional fanaticism….

Over the road from my house there is a small car park.  It isn’t clear who owns the land, and it is invariable empty. However,  anyone daring to park there is subject to the remorseless wrath of a little old man who sneaks out of an adjacent flat when he thinks no one is watching and dished out non-inforcable parking tickets which are written in biro. The tickets include a fine (mine was £100). I’m not sure who the fine should be paid to, or whether it should be with real or biro money.

Enough of my friends have been fined over the years for me to consider it high-time to invoke counter measures, so last week, just as it was getting dark, I deliberately used the car park, walked round to the back door if my house, went upstairs, turned off the lights…and waited.

With the exception of a thermos and infra-red camera I imagine it was alot like badger-watching. After less than ten minutes he appeared, bold as brass; a slip of paper in his hand. I waited till he was out in the open and reaching for the windscreen before I pressed the key-fob that activated the headlights.

For a man of advancing years he sure can shift!

A few days later I was taking a brisk walk / buying a newspaper / checking the weather. It was only down the road so I left my slippers on and took a cup of tea with me. Passing a bus stop I heard someone say ‘That’s a good idea.’ I looked up and came face to face with the village’s self-appointed traffic warden. We struck up a conversation and I was informed that he was on the way to see his grandson.

‘Why don’t you drive?’ I asked innocently.

‘I don’t own a car.’

In an alternative universe I unmasked myself as his adversary, castigated him for terrorising the neighbourhood and doled out some brutal old-school street justice. But back in reality I took a certain amount of joy in his eccentricity and wished him a pleasant evening.

Arriving home I was seized with panic and dropped to my knees – ‘Please God, don’t let me end up like this. Don’t let this be my future – grumbling under my breath that next door’s hedge is getting a bit unkempt and writing them a stern letter that I post anonymously at 4am.’

It’s a definite possibility that we’re all pre-destined to travel along the conveyor belt to senility. I’m already moaning about the quality of modern pop music and I’m only in my thirties.

I concluded my prayer with the words ‘Please help me to refrain from pettiness. Amen.’

The very next thing I did was check my e-mail. I’m hosting a school reunion shortly and someone had written to inquire about parking spaces. ‘Will there be enough room or should I get a train?’

‘Don’t worry about space,’ I reply, ‘there’s loads of it. I own a car park.’

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