September '19 Flash Challenge - Tales of lost time


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Which did you prefer?

Poll ended at September 30, 2019, 05:56:04 AM

Artefact-497079-E
2
25%
Don’t Go Under the Bridge
2
25%
Nostradamus's Revenge Wins Second Place in the Symbolic Return of Hubbard's New King
0
No votes
The Best Times
2
25%
The Pain of Time-traveling
2
25%
White Orchids
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 8
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Post September 16, 2019, 05:56:04 AM

September '19 Flash Challenge - Tales of lost time

We have six tales of lost time to amuse you this month:
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Post September 16, 2019, 05:57:05 AM

Artefact-497079-E

by Verse

“Hi, Pop. How are you feeling?”

I was sitting in my favourite chair on the veranda. I could smell the ocean and heard a gull cry. I looked out at a clear blue sky and watched as the white sea bird sailed on the wind.

“I feel great.” And I did. Or rather, nothing hurt. I was comfortable and my mind was sharp, there was no fog, no fatigue, no grasping for words that were forever stuck on the tip of my tongue. I looked at my daughter, Julia, as she knelt by my side, holding her wide-brimmed hat against the breeze. She looked perfect, her hair was beautifully coiffed and she’d lost about 30-pounds.

“You scanned me!”

“Don’t be cross,” Julia said as she stood, crossing her arms and turning her head away. “I missed you, I really missed you.”

“We talked about this.” I wanted to be angry but I couldn’t. Anger required brain chemistry, adrenaline, and I didn’t have those anymore. “This must be costing you a fortune.”

There were virtual tears in Julia’s virtual brown eyes.

“You’re in the cloud, Pop, and server time is getting cheaper all the time. I can come and visit, maybe a couple of times a year.”

“And what will I do when you’re not here?”

She smiled. “I don’t know, catch up on your shows?”

A church bell rang in the distance, Julia looked at her watch. “Time’s up, I’ll be back real soon.”

To me it looked like a glitch, like bad video editing. The sky was just as blue. The gull surfed the wind as before.

“Hi Pop!”

Virtual Julia was still perfect but older now, grey streaked through her brown hair, her eyes had crows feet that crinkled as she smiled.

“I bought someone to meet you, this is your great grand-son, Joseph.” The man next to her was middle-aged, tall and impossibly tan.

“It’s a pleasure to meet your, sir.” He held out his hand.

“How long?”

Julia looked pensive. “Things out there,” she waved her hand and looked out over the dunes, to indicate the real. “They’ve changed a lot. Things have been pretty bad, the environment, and…”

“How long?” I asked again.

“Thirty years,” Joseph told me. “It was hard for civilians to get server time during the war.”

“War?”

“We’ll talk about that another time, Sir. We just wanted to check the integrity of your scan for now.”

The bell tolled. Joseph glitched, Julia was gone. The sky was still blue, the gull still cried.

“Joseph?”

“Hello again, Sir.”

“Where’s Julia?”

“I have some sad news, Sir. Grandma passed a few weeks ago. It’s taken a while to get affairs in order and arrange for vee-are time.”

“She didn’t get scanned?”

Joseph frowned, looked at his hands. “Things have changed a lot since your time, Sir. Resources are scarce and some technologies are either lost or forbidden. A lot of scanned personalities were destroyed during the war, deliberately. You’re actually something of a family heirloom.”

“I see.”

“I used money from Grandma’s estate. It’s possible that this is the last time I’ll be able to afford time on a computron, I’m sorry, Sir.”

“That’s okay, Joseph.”

“But, if I’m lucky enough to marry, and we get a license for children, I’m sure they’ll treasure you, Sir. Who knows what the future will bring.”

Bell rung, gull cried.

“Hello, Mr Peterson”

It was a perfect young Julia again and she was alone. She watched me, head tilted to one side and sunhat in her hands.

“You’re not my Julia.”

“No, Mr Peterson.”

“She died, “ I said, and even without brain chemistry it hurt.

“Yes, Mr Peterson, she died a long time ago.”

“How long?”

“I’m not sure how meaningful an answer this will be,” Not Julia said. “We discovered the silicon based storage media and your personality scan on a comet travelling through our system. We believe the comet originated from a minor arm of the galaxy further out from this region. The comet was formed from the debris of your planet, destroyed as your sun became a Red Dwarf. Mathematically, I can represent a time span but you don’t have words in your language to sufficiently describe it.”

“A really long time then?”

“Yes.”

“What now?”

“Mr Peterson, can you please tell me,” Not Julia smiled and if I had a heart it would break at that perfect smile, “What was your species like? How did you live and love? How was your society organised? What were your hopes, your dreams, your desires?”

Not Julia giggled with excitement. “I’m sorry, Mr Peterson, but this is such an amazing opportunity for me, for my people. We want to know everything.”

I chuckled, “How long have you got?”

“All the time in the world, Mr Peterson. All the time in the world.”
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Post September 16, 2019, 05:57:56 AM

Don’t Go Under the Bridge

by Megawatts

Strange lights often danced around the superstructure that supports the Mansfield Merriot Bridge.
The area under the bridge had been fence off more the fifteen years ago because people were reported missing after they were last seen going down there. Strange lights, strange sounds and an eerie sizzling sound, soft, lingered in the air along with the lights. Some said aliens, others ghosts. What was going on down there had the city worried.

My friends, Tommy Martin, Eddy burke and Timmy Allison join in my quest, and my quest became more than just discovery, it also became a test to see who would go with me. Donald Miller, John Perkins and of course Cindy Lander–who liked to mother all us guys, and her girl friend Donna Martin kept saying it was so stupid to go down there. The girls were always at the park which was next to the bridge and they would play tennis or even basketball and paddleball with us. They were good and always beat us at tennis.

“Terry don’t you dare go down there!” Cindy said to me. Her blond hair flung itself around and her hazel eyes had fire in them. She always appeared taller than she was and her freckles darkened when stress filled her like right now.

“Cindy’s right Terry. Just stay out. You could get arrested if the police see you trying to get in!” Donna said.

“I’m not afraid of nothin’” I said. “Come on guys—let’s show them we’re real men!”

Eddy, and Tommy came with me, but Timmy Allison chickened out. Cindy overpowered him with her stern looks.

We slipped under the fence and followed the path that led down under the bridge. Half way down, kaleidoscopic lights started dancing around us and a sizzling sound lingered with them. Trees started to move toward us, it seemed and the daylight darkened and became gelable which hindered our movements. We stopped. We stood awed after a bright flash and damp air washed over us. The path had become wet, and rain droplets fell from the trees as if a thunderstorm had just passed, but that was impossible. Our clothes were still dry.

“I’m getting outa here!” Tommy said.

Tommy started running up the path; he tripped over a log that wasn’t on the path just a minute ago. The trees seemed different, and that old rotting oak tree had fallen over, and by the looks of the moss on it, it happened years ago. Impossible I said to myself.

We made it up to the fence but couldn’t believe our eyes: The fence had been replaced with a higher galvanized one, and at its base, cement had been poured and the lower fence-meshed wire sunk into it. It was now impossible to craw under the fence, yet only a few minutes passed.

Tommy started to screamed and screamed. We couldn’t get out. He screamed louder and cried. Finally two young boys with their father came over.

“I called the caretaker,” the father said. “I’d help you get out, but this fence is too high. In a few minutes a Kawasaki mule pulled up with two park employees.

“We have to call the police . . . that’s minatory when trespassers are discovered in this restricted area. You kids follow along the fence with me, there’s a gate about a hundred feet down,” One of the service workers said.

Thing were different in the park. An old fire truck sat next to a pavilion but that pavilion and fire truck were not there a short time ago. All the pavilions were freshly painted and walkways were different. The old water fountain was gone

By the time we got to the gate the police had arrived. A female officers with blond hair and a male officer built like a weight lifter got out of their police vehicle and started walking toward the gate.

As we walked behind the fence, one of the service worker kept say, “You two are in big and I mean big trouble.”

The other service worker who must have been the leader said: “Knock it off!”

Tommy cried but Eddy said, “We’ll be big shots in school this years! Yeah we-aren’t-chickens.”

We reached the gate before the police.

The service workers guarded us until the police crossed the park and met us at the gate.

When the police officers approached us, the female officer stopped. She took a few more steps toward us then stopped again. Again she stepped forward until she was five feet away.

She studied us for a minute, looking us over and over as she whispered to herself ‘Impossible!’

Officer Krail the male officer said, “They look okay—did anybody get hurt down there.

We told them what happened, and how we got under the fence and told them about the strange lights and happenings.

“Thanks for not letting them get away, the last time this happened the kids ran and we didn’t get them, so thanks again,” Officer Krail said to the two service workers.

“This is impossible . . . this can’t . . . it’s impossible-- impossible!-- impossible!” the female officer said.

“What’s impossible? Officer Krail said.

The female officer ignored him then knelt down in front of me.

She had hazel eyes, and her blonde hair flung itself around. The freckles on her face became darker but her voice projected a motherly tone. Somehow I knew her, yet couldn’t place her.

“Terry I told you not to go down there fifteen years ago but you didn’t listen to me. You guys never listened to me. Your parents are still alive but I don’t know how to handle this one.

Officer Krail’s face turned white as he listened to his partner.

Finally the female office said: “If only you would have listened to me------trust me on that one, you see . . . I’m Cindy.
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Post September 16, 2019, 05:59:38 AM

Nostradamus's Revenge Wins Second Place

by TCG1

An enormous disk advances at prodigious speed and almost collides with a dwarf moon moving around the Earth . There is a distinct shock and then the vehicle starts to fall. A meteor bursts into flames while noctilucent clouds foretell of his arrival.

Two bull's eyes, and four projecting ribs obscure the obviousness of his oval skull. Challenged by his civil status and misty ideas about his identity card; they would take photographs of his face from three angles, strip him, examine him for scars and other marks,weigh him, measure him; compiling information, assigning him a unique identity.

He walks into the Tea Room. The chains of glass balls that hang from long metal threads catch his eye. An alcora china bottle rests on the table decorated with the figure of a young Bacchus. Hallucinogenic tea becomes part of a four- hour ritual intended to connect with God.

He contemplates his new bondage and with fatalistic calm ,he drinks. The evil tea snakes whip away inside the virgin martyr in terrific flurry as he experiences the first wayward tug of a human destiny.
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Post September 16, 2019, 06:00:31 AM

The Best Times

by Michelle "Bottomdweller" Dutcher

Ken Moore stumbled into the cool, afternoon darkness of the He’s Not Here bar, taking his usual seat at the bar next to the kitchen. “Did anyone happen to walk past my car on their way here?” he asked the dozen or so patrons within earshot.

The small, cozy crowd all chuckled softly until they realized he wasn’t joking.

“I think I saw your Honda Civic on Maple Street just north of the Grandville,” came a male voice from beside the pool tables.

The bartender threw a bar towel over her shoulder before addressing the man in his late 20s. “Do you remember being at the Grandville last night, Ken?”

“No…but I remember being on Maple Street by Burnham Park.”

“Mystery solved,” injected Sal, Ken’s Choctaw friend who was sitting two barstools down.

“I think I saw a semi-truck stuck on the playground,” Ken said thoughtfully.

“Well don’t think too hard or your head might explode,” said Marla playfully. “How about a hair-of-the-dog, Ken?”

“You’re on!” replied Ken, pulling out a ten and slapping it on the bartop. He took off his sunglasses and for the briefest of moments, his eyes seemed to flash with a sapphire light.

Big Dog William studied Ken’s condition from the elbow of the bar and shook his head in mock disgust. “So where did you wake up this time?”

“Iroquois Park.”

The group stopped drinking and looked over at the man.

“But that’s ten miles from the Grandville,” said Marla.

“Yeah, bro. How did you get way out there?” asked Sal.

“I guess someone gave me a ride,” Ken answered, shooting the whiskey and shivering ever so slightly. “Oh that’s better,” he said. “I had to take the 25 bus back from Bardstown Road when I woke up on the golf course.”

“Golf course?” stammered Big Dog.

“Yep. The sun was just coming up and a couple of owls were looking down over me.”

“Owls!” laughed Sal. “There aren’t any owls within 20 miles of here, bro. You’re drunk!”

Ken sat up as straight as he could. “I’m not drunk yet!” he said while motioning for another round.

10 hours later Ken was leaving the bar when Sal shouted out the door after him. “Wait up, bro. I’ll walk you to your car.”

“Cool. I just want to sleep it off. You can sleep in the front seat if you want.”

“Sounds like a plan,” answered Sal. So the two men walked for a while until they spotted Ken’s Civic sitting beside the park. He started to unlock the doors when they heard someone shout from the direction of the bushes.

“Hey Dude, we thought you’d never get here!”

Ken and Sal turned towards the voice to see a small creature float out from beneath the trees. Suddenly a large band of lights flashed on with a whomp on the baseball field. Three other small grey childlike creatures floated out after the first one.
In spite of being tore-up from the floor-up, Sal was almost going into shock at the sight of the UFOers.

“Don’t worry, pal. Any friend of Ken’s is okay by us,” said the creature in front.

Sal began to stutter. “But…but you are aliens,” he managed to say. “Like…like you probe people…”

The four creatures burst into laughter. “Probe people?” shouted the one in front looking at Ken. “This man is the probing KING! He has probed half the females between here and Sirius. We call him Triple A…”

“Anytime, anywhere, anyone,” the four creatures shouted in unison.

“On yeah! Now I remember you guys!” said Ken happily, pulling out a rolled joint from a hole in the hem of his shirt. “I was partying with these little dudes last night, Sal. They’re cool as hell.”

“Sorry about the whole amnesia thing, Ken. It’s the rules.”

“Yeah, yeah, I understand. No problem,” said Ken. “Whose got some fire? – I seem to have lost my lighter.”

The middle one in the back stepped forward and stuck up his middle finger which instantly produced a flame which Ken used to light the joint.

“See, Sal. They’re cool as hell.”

“But they’re aliens, bro.”

“We’re aliens to them and they’re okay with us, so why shouldn’t we return the favor.”

“Live and let live,” said the grey creature in front. “I remember the first time we noticed Ken. It was after a fireworks show – which we all enjoy from up there – everyone else had gone home... and this human found a beer truck with an open tap.”

Ken’s face lit up. “Me and this motley crew nearly emptied the whole beer truck that night, just the five of us.” He passed the lit joint to the first grey who inhaled deeply before passing it to the back row.

“This guy is a party legend in this part of the galaxy. That’s why he loses so much time,” said a grey in the back row.

“Again, Ken, we’re sorry about the whole lost time thing.”

Ken looked down for a moment, kicking the dirt. “It’s okay, little dudes. That’s what partying is – some of the best times you’ll never remember.”

“Hey,” said Sal finally getting the joint. “You know what body part is always mentioned by stoners?”

The greys shook their heads.

“Ear…ear…” laughed Sal, inhaling deeply and passing the joint back to Ken. Everyone laughed, even the ones without ears.

“See, I told you he’d be cool,” said one of the greys.

Ken took the last toke from the joint and shrugged.

“Don’t worry – we have plenty more on board. There are females on a moon orbiting Bernards who told me to call them when Ken showed up.”

As the two men floated into the spacecraft, along with the greys, Sal saw a neon sign by the entrance that read, “For a Good Time call Ken: Earth 867-53 oh-nine-ie-ine”
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Post September 16, 2019, 06:02:40 AM

The Pain of Time-traveling

by Sergio "Ente-per-ente" Palumbo

It had been a decade since the day a strange test, tried almost by chance, had proven that if light was sent as a laser through a cloud of Rubidium, and then cooled down to almost absolute zero, the photons’ light-speed could be slowed down. This occurred when the quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, were not single particles anymore, but were amassed into groups of 2 or 3, indicating that the process also produced light particles mass, actually.

It didn’t take long before the results of that test brought some practical results in other fields of modern science, anyway. Scientists wondered what might happen if that Rubidium cloud of atoms, instead of being cooled down to almost absolute zero, could be adjusted to produce the temperature of plasma by subjecting it to a strong electromagnetic field. This had been done and the results had shown that light particles increased their velocity. In the end, it was proven that this process could also produce the capability to time-travel!

Shortly thereafter, scientists made use of this principle to create time-travel tests where they first experimented on single objects and then animals. In doing so, of course, both the objects and the living beings had to be wrapped entirely in special super- tough protections, or suits, so that the plasma cloud that surrounded them didn’t hurt or kill them.

Unfortunately, as with any test which is done too quickly when the Military takes charge of the operations - mainly because of the possibility that time-travel could be used as a weapon… - something went wrong.

This was what had brought Brett Hjurls to his present situation. Parts of his suit had been damaged during one of those first tests and he had undergone some unexpected consequences. At least he had survived – which wasn’t a certainty given what had happened at that time – but his life had changed substantially.

Now Brett was here, eating and drinking while being constantly watched by the camcorders situated all over the laboratory. At times his body would disappear in a flash of light, as if he was time-traveling unwillingly to an unknown period and destination, commonly some hours or days forward.

“Will I ever be able to stay in one place and live a normal life? All I want is rest for a while.” He also wanted to know what happened during the moments when he was time-traveling unwillingly into the future - only to be snapped back again later.

What happened to his body while he time-traveled? There was no answer to that question and this made the man think that those tests had been rushed, before all the side-effects had been discovered.

Eventually one scientist had come to the conclusion that he knew how this problem, possibly, could be fixed. And he tried to explain it to the group of academicians who had worked on that project since its beginning.

“Actually, I think I have found a way to resolve the unexpected effects of the test. But my idea might be insidious…”

“What do you mean?” the oldest man in the group asked him.

“We’d need to send Brett back to the precise moment when he first started time-traveling, the second the external surface of his suit partly broke and he underwent the effects that now affect his body…”

“Possible results?” asked another scientist.

“Or unwanted outcomes?” a third one asked.

“If Brett is sent back to the precise point and moment his suit broke, his body would be inside the damaged suit and so his tissues would suffer the consequences of being in touch with the outside plasma. Obviously, he probably would not survive.”

“So, it would be fatal…”

“Yes, I think so…but I can’t think of anything else to try at the moment…” the scientist nodded regretfully.

“So, should we let him decide what to do?” the oldest one inquired.

“Yes and no. If asked, he might refuse. But the Military could force him to go back, because they spent all this funding on the test and they want answers now…”

“So, whatever happens, happens…” the group agreed eventually.

This was why Brett had participated in a new test, going back to the moment when the accident had occurred. He didn’t know what would occur, and the scientists couldn’t predict the results either.

In the end, the test to send Brett back in time did take place. When the display started indicating damage to his suit and the first holes appeared on its surface, he experienced pain because of the temperature of the plasma outside. It would have been worse if the time-travel jump hadn’t occurred almost at once…

But almost at once wasn’t the same as precisely at once, anyway…

This is why he had time-travelled back to the future, but the damage and the wounds he felt didn’t stop when he completed the time transition. The part of his skin that had been next to the outer layers of the suit was stuck in those nanoseconds, as small portions of the suit had torn open, while his body had kept travelling back to the present time in the laboratory.

It was revealed afterwards that the test had also not stopped his unwillingly wandering through time, which was bad enough. Moreover, it had added his ongoing pain that nothing seemed capable of appeasing. Because Brett kept moving through time, without any control, and he had no way to be healed, his wounds remained as they were the precise moment when his skin had been in touch with the outside plasma for some nanoseconds. The wounds didn’t get worse, but they couldn’t be treated either.

The unceasing pain wouldn’t let Brett sleep from that moment on. He couldn’t die because his wounds were stuck in time, but he also knew he would never get better.

“Pain is temporary”, an old saying went. Unless you were unceasingly travelling through time like him , he thought…
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Post September 16, 2019, 06:03:40 AM

White Orchids

by TCG1

My hands were soiled red and engrained with dirt as I weeded and staked tomatoes. I was living about an hour away from White Orchids then, teaching English during the day, and writing poetry at night. On weekends I'd get in the car and head for the estate by the lake, owned by my good friend Rose Barnett. She was an accommodating and enthusiastic woman but one had to be careful not to heat up her paranoia. Her husband died young, and two of her children in infancy. This misfortune had left her with an unforgiving and harsh emptiness that she subjected most of her neighbors to for she felt rejected by earth and sky.

Perhaps that was the trouble. It was in the nature of things that love and happiness could no longer be hers. But perhaps she was secretly wishing that if she tended to the raw wilderness and imperfect beauty around her, everything would be different. We cooked, cleaned, gardened and crocheted lace for two days out of the school week. Rose insisted that I stay in her room. A room that had become more her own than the rest of the house. I felt the brooding simplicity and darkness running through my veins as if the movement was of her own blood. At the same time I began to dream at night of the old house and the garden.

There was an odor of kegs and wine that mixed with the sweet scents of magnolia and hyacinths. I never encountered anything like it before. I had to get closer to that scent. Within a few yards in a corner baseboard of my bedroom I found a button. I pushed it and a hidden room revealed. A small bar opened onto a street. The result was an indescribable chaos of musicians playing different melodies and customers prevailing with belligerent voices and rowdy conversations. There were scents of smoke, liquor, weeds, matted earth, and wet dogs. It was a place marked by lost souls, old fires and yesterday's memories.

"Rose, my love. You've come back." A man says as he holds out a shiny black box.

I take the box in my hands. Rose's reflection melts into mine. The windows and doors slam shut! Now I know how she feels, especially when the journey takes me to where this man's heart points me to follow.
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Post September 18, 2019, 06:16:04 AM

Re: September '19 Flash Challenge - Tales of lost time

My vote is in...eh,eh. :D On this occasion I found it difficult to choose between two entries anyway...
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Post September 20, 2019, 09:00:55 PM

Re: September '19 Flash Challenge - Tales of lost time

My vote is in. Some pretty cool stuff there.
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Post September 20, 2019, 10:11:12 PM

Re: September '19 Flash Challenge - Tales of lost time

My vote is in!
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