Voting Stage: July Flash Challenge


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Please vote for you favorite:

Poll ended at August 11, 2017, 04:34:42 PM

A Family Affair
3
50%
In Need of a Cleaning
1
17%
Look To The Tree's
2
33%
 
Total votes : 6
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Post July 28, 2017, 04:34:42 PM

Voting Stage: July Flash Challenge

Here are our entries for the July Flash Challenge:

A Family Affair

Jabari gazed down from the balcony of his mountaintop lab into the Valley of Death, so named because of the infestation of mutated zoysia grass that had choked out all the other vegetation in its path. Experts assumed the invader had hitched a ride on a supply ship carrying refugees from the Hektor agri-colony. The President had attempted to stop the migration to Earth, but the courts determined it was inhumane to keep the residents adrift in space for an indefinite time. Jabari had been assigned the task of stopping the intrusive growth before it choked the life out of Earth.

"Is it working this time?"

Jabari responded to his sister Cara's question without turning around. "I'm afraid not. In fact, it appears to be spreading faster." After a deep breath he faced her, concern and confusion on his face. He shook his head and walked to his glass topped desk. "All of the lab results were positive. The spraying should have stifled the continuing encroachment."

"You'll figure it out," Cara said.

"I better, or else. . ." He put his elbows on the desk and rested his forehead in his hands. "People are losing faith in my ability to do the job."

Cara moved closer and gave her brother a hug. "It's okay. Everyone is scared and frustrated and has a need to take their frustrations out on someone." She stepped back, holding his hands. "Hey, you knew what you were facing when you accepted the job. You love a challenge." She smiled and hugged him again.

"You're right," Jabari replied. He pointed toward the folder in her hand. "Have you walked through the plant yet today?"

Cara, besides being Jabari's sister, was the Chief Operating Officer for the company and a damn fine one as far as Jabari was concerned. She walked the plant at least one day a week on a random schedule she only shared with her brother to see how things were going. Sometimes Jabari accompanied her.

"I just finished." She opened the notebook. "Security broke up a fight between two low level lab assistants and found a small packet of drugs on one. The fight was a disagreement over the price of the dope, according to another employee. I had security escort both gentleman out of the building and told them we'd send them their personal things in a few days." Cara looked at Jabari. "I hate letting people go, but this work is too important."

"The stress is getting to everyone. Still, you did the right thing. We can't allow rampant drug use. We all need clear minds." He reached for a pack of cigarettes perched on one corner of his desk. Cara frowned.

"I know. I know. I said I'd quit," Jabari said. "I'm working on it." Instead of retrieving a cigarette, he pushed the pack away. "Anything else?"

"No. How about you? Something is bothering you that you're not sharing. I can tell."

Jabari moved to a chair next to the fireplace and pointed Cara to another.

"I have this feeling I can't shake that someone else is controlling things here. I have no proof, nor any idea who or why. It's just a thought that keeps niggling at me." He stared at his sister. "Am I going crazy?"

"No. No." Cara shifted in her chair and leaned back. "You're under so much pressure, I wouldn't be surprised if you told me you were seeing ghosts." Cara laughed. "Or aliens even." She laughed again.

"It's funny you should mention aliens. That thought has crossed my mind. In fact, I think you may be right."

"O come on, Jabari. You know there's no such thing."

"There aren't?" Jabari leaned forward in his chair with his elbows on his knees, his hands crossed between his legs. "You didn't think I'd notice, but you changed a few months ago, Sis, or whoever you are. At first, I thought it was like you said--stress--but ever since our first successful attempt at slowing the intruder, things changed. You disappear for long periods. Business lunches, you say. But with whom?" Jabari paused, waiting for Cara to reply. When she didn't, he continued.

"Then there were certain looks that seemed odd to me. Looks of confusion about things you knew as well as I. One day you came into my office and your sweater was buttoned crooked. You would never make a mistake like that. You always double and triple checked your appearance before going anywhere. Still, I couldn't be certain until I followed you to one of your 'lunches.'" Jabari sat up. "Was it plain water you put into the crop duster's tanks?"

Cara shifted in her chair and put both feet on the floor. Her eyes appeared to glow.

"I don't know if I can kill the alien who has taken you over," Jabari continued, "or if you'll survive, but I have to try."

With that, Cara launched herself and grabbed Jabari's neck, her long fingernails piercing the skin. Jabari grabbed her wrists but was unable to dislodge them. He felt blood oozing down his neck. The alien's thumbs pressed on Jabari's windpipe causing Jabari to gasp for air. In desperation, Jabari let go of Cara's left wrist and jammed a finger into the attacker's eye. Cara emitted a low, hollow roar and fell to the floor. Jabari sensed another movement in the room and thought he saw a cloud-like figure escape through the glass as he reached down for his sister.

Cara opened her eyes, a muddled look on her face. She tried to speak, but Jabari placed a finger on her lips. "You rest," he said. "I'll explain everything later. In the meantime, I need to schedule an additional spraying and then figure out how to prepare for another alien attack."

The End


In Need of a Cleaning

There had been an unusual increase in the presence of the so-called Camponotus saundersi, or black and orange Malaysian worker ants, during the past years on the Malaysian forest floor. Along with this, there had also been a huge increase in the number of dead insects from that species laying about on the ground. This was why the slim dark-haired Aisar Munsi had decided to spend time in the labs of the main facility of modern George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang, to study the matter more closely. Maybe something interesting might come out of it. Being only 30-year-old, he still had to make a name for himself, the sooner the better…

It was a widely held belief that animals didn’t commit suicide - unlike humans – but that assumption wasn’t entirely true. In the case of the Malaysian worker ants, those creatures joined forces together to survive, even having a peculiar way of defending their colonies. They had, in fact, one of the weirdest, and coolest methods of self-defence in the animal kingdom, because their behaviors included self-destruction by autothysis, a term coined in 1974 that meant they had the ability to self-explode when threatened.

For instance, when some predators attacked their colonies, groups of these small ants marched right up to the enemies, as Aisar well knew. Once they were in range, they contracted their abdomen, causing its venom-filled glands to rupture, spraying deadly poison at the threat. These ants died in the process but the venom was deadly enough to kill the predator, too.

Death.

That thought reminded the scientist of his personal near-death- experience, the one he had gone through when his neighbor had almost destroyed the entire building he lived in by leaving the gas on in his kitchen. Aisar had spent one week in the hospital before fully recovering and those memories still tormented him. He didn’t know if it was that experience that had made him study these strange circumstances their country was presently facing, or if there was something else.

The man heard some approaching steps behind him and noticed that his superior, the graying Dhiyaulhaq, had just entered the room. “How is your survey going today?” he asked the younger scientist.

“Actually, I believe I found something unprecedented yesterday…”

“Really? What exactly?”

“I started putting together all the different elements, so I could study them in relationship to each other. And I think that, maybe, I know what is happening…”

“Well, we all know that the Malaysian worker ants can kill themselves to protect their colonies,” the superior said.

“Yes, but I have found that maybe it’s something new that makes them act that way, an urge in their body - or in their mind…”

“Do you mean, like those rodents who run off cliffs while migrating, the l…?”

“No, that is a misconception. Actually, what I think is going on with the ants is quite different.”

“In what sense?”

“This is my theory: whenever UFOs are spotted in the jungles by some peasant, the insects start behaving like that.”

“Your theory should be grounded in real science,” the superior replied as his look darkened.

“I used to agree with you - but I have discovered something recently that might prove my theory.”

“Go on…”

“There has been an unbelievable increase in the number of these ants over the course of the last ten years. There has also been an increase in the number of their deaths. During the same period there has also been an increase in the number of UFO sightings.”

“If you believe in UFOs,” Dhiyaulhaq replied making a face.

“But the relationship is grounded in other data as well, just let me explain. If we can conjecture that there is a relationship between the UFOs and the increase in the number of deaths of the Malaysian worker ants, then the question becomes: what causes it all?”

“The most plausible theory is that there has been an upturn in the birth rate of these ants because of favorable jungle conditions, nothing more…” the superior told him.

“I think that it might be due to something the UFOs release into the air to get rid of those insects,” Aisar replied.

“Why would the UFOs do that?”

“Possibly there is a substance in the UFOs’ exhaust when they touch the ground that operates as a nutrient for such insects, at first. This is why their numbers increase so quickly.”

“Possibly is not proof, my friend.”

“But the relationship between these facts may be important,” Aisar retorted.

“So if UFOs release some nutrient that causes an increase in the number of ants, why do those creatures die in such large numbers soon thereafter?”

“Perhaps that is also due to some substance left behind by the UFOs themselves…something meant to rid the area of the presence of all those small insects whose large number might be noticed and connected to the UFOs’ presence, which could be an unwanted result.”

“Science, please! Your theory is almost impossible to believe…” Dhiyaulhaq said.

“I’ve found something inside the body of the dead ants, something that doesn’t belong there. These strange parts of some cells could be a sort of mutation, but perhaps they are small devices, something built through bioengineering. Maybe it is an engineered substance released into the food that the Malaysian worker ants eat when the UFOs leave.”

“Any proof of this?”

“Just let me show you my results…” Aisar burst out, as he handed an armful of notebooks to his superior.

Dhiyaulhaq looked in silence at the documents, appearing pensive. ‘Aisar’s facts are good, very good...’ he thought. ‘Maybe too good...’ The man considered that he had to inform the generals in the military, and they would take care of the matter. This theory wasn’t something they wanted to get out, for sure.

They would need to act very, very soon, he thought, as he handed the papers back to the younger man with a sneer.

THE END


Look To The Tree's

Morning in the jungle was a time where moisture slept in and given the soft name of, dew. This morning was really no different than many other mornings. It had a vibrant canopy of foliage to cover the cawing sounds of the parrot, toucan, and other pretty birds worthy of names fitting their royal plumage.

As for time, what would a jungle know of time? For that matter, what would a jungle know of seasons? This jungle knew the monsoon. It knew the humid heat. It knew night and day. And this morning, the dew was glistening as the sunlight was very intense

The night was over, but something was different. Many months ago, during a full moon, something happened to the moon. What changed those months ago was the moonlight too, was very intense. More so than any time in history. It was as if it reached out an arm of light towards its friend, earth.

This light fell to earth softly, embracing the jungle right down to the smallest drop of dew…

“What a night huh?” The voice attached to the question was one bordering in emotion of one still mostly asleep than awake.

“Yes. Such strange dreams. I dreamt of a large body of water where it tasted salty like the rocks from down at the mine.”

“Water tasting like salt? How strange.” The voice was now sounding like it had something else on its mind, and indeed it did. The nimble hands striking flint and soon the dry kindling protected in a pouch safe from the dew, ignited into flame to cook the pairs morning meal.

“Yes, salt. But there was more in this dream. A large boat filled with many animals. It all was so strange.”

“Animals? Where they docile and tame or wild and savage?”

“I could not tell. I could just hear and see that they were strange. Vaguely familiar yet so alien.”

Soon the fire was busy roasting a large green lizard caught while it was busy resting under a large banana tree. It’s crispy flesh emitting a lovely aroma causing the stomachs of the two to grumble in anticipation.

“It will be a good day today,” the voice sounded sated, the belly full, the dew evaporating. Yes, it was sizing to be a good day.

Wiping his mouth, the other replied with satisfaction in the voice, “Yes. We will get much accomplished today.
*
As the sun climbed higher into the sky, it still had a very powerful intensity. Soon the heat and heavy water vapor caused the two to sweat profusely. Wiping his brow, the voice said, “It is a good day but it is so very hot today, hotter than normal, no?”

“Oh, you are just complaining. It was this hot yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that…And it will be just as hot tomorrow.”

“Yes, I suppose you are correct.” Then they both became silent, lost in their work of tilling the soil in preparation for planting another crop of rooted vegetables.

Both were not aware they were being watching. And, why would they? It was their jungle after all. They and their kind had been there for centuries. Of course, many months ago after the moon reached out, things had changed a bit but still, they were masters of their domain.

The person watching them was using the technology of enhanced optics. The eye of the watcher was looking at the two working so hard in the hot, humid, field, with a rifle scope.

“Boom!” First one shot, and then another. All that could be heard immediately after the rifle was fired was the explosion of birds taking flight and monkeys screaming.

And how the monkeys screamed.

Then, it all became silent.

Slowly walking up to the two dead bodies now laying in the middle of their mornings work, a voice spoke to its partner. “Man. Bob, you ever see something like this?”

Poking one of the dead bodies with the tip of the rifle, the reply was, “Hell no. This are some pretty crazy monkeys. They are wearing clothes and looked like they were actually farming. Never in all my years of hunting have I ever seen something so crazy as this.”

“Me neither. But hey, I bet they were monkeys that some do gooder released back into the jungle after being in a circus. They must have kept going with the tricks and such.”

“Yeah. Whatever. But I bet they’ll look good stuffed and mounted. I suppose we better get them gutted and back to the ship. We’re supposed to set sail this evening.”

“Yes. Good day and a good hunt.”

The two completed their task of getting the trophies ready to take back to the large yacht anchored a few miles away in a nice sunlit bay.

As they left, the eyes of the jungle were upon them. Many eyes. Many very intelligent eyes. And almost as if on cue, the monkeys screamed.

The End
"Extremely difficult- Virtually impossible- However, it should only take me ten minutes or so..."
Brice Linch - Max Headroom
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Post August 01, 2017, 04:43:19 AM

Re: Voting Stage: July Flash Challenge

My vote is in...eh,eh :D

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Joined: April 08, 2017, 02:13:19 PM

Post August 09, 2017, 07:53:04 AM

Re: Voting Stage: July Flash Challenge

Enjoyable reads... haven't had time to join in these challenges, but had fun reading this month's entries.

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