[Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge


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Post August 28, 2011, 10:43:09 PM

[Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories on the form in the post following this one and send it to me via PM:


The challenge was to create a situation that calls for an unproven, diminutive or short superhero to “rise” to the occasion to right the wrongs being committed.


The following entries were received:


The Kountry Kitchen



“Artina Riggs looked around the Kountry Kitchen diner before sighing, “I wish this place was busier. I don’t know how I’ll pay the rent next month.” She patted the hand of her 9-year-old daughter who sat happily at the wooden table with her and Big George, the cook.

“It’s those idiot politicians in Washington,” replied George– who was also the owner. “They got the economy all screwed up with the National Debt being so high.” George and Artina looked at each other briefly, pausing their game of wild 8s.

A confirmation came from the corner table where two customers sat. “None of ‘em are worth the powder and lead to blow ‘em up with.” The man, Lou Bryant, returned to sipping on a mug of coffee he had bought two hours ago.

“I could help you mom,” said Chrissy hopefully, leaning forward. “I got a plan.”

The cook and the waitress chuckled good-heartedly, shaking their heads. “Well your heart’s in the right place sweetie,” said her mom.

The middle-aged man sitting across from Lou got up slowly, taking one last bite from his toast and gravy. “I guess I’ll be going. I’m taking a couple of city boys up to Judah Springs. I’m meeting them at Richmond’s Barn at 8:30.”

“Maybe they should have some breakfast before they go hunting,” said the Chrissy, flipping a spritz of her curly hair. “You could go get them and bring them back here where they’d be safe and sound.”

“Maybe another time sweetie. I’m sure we’ll be fine.” The man picked up his truck keys.

Little Chrissy became more adamant. “When the door’s open wide, you’re safe inside. But when the door closes – they’ll pinch your noses.”

The man began to laugh. “Artina, your kid watches too much television.” He walked out of the diner and into the sunlight.

It would be two days before the men’s bodies were found in the barn. “Can’t explain it,” the town sheriff would tell the small crowd at George’s Kountry Kitchen. “It looked like they suffocated, but the air inside the barn was okay.”

“Chrissy told Desmond not to go up there,” said George.

“That’s right,” said Chrissy finishing her pumpkin pie. “I told him to bring them back here where they’d be safe and sound – but he wouldn’t listen. Grown-ups never listen.”

But the grown-ups in the room, all seven of them, were listening now.

***

During good times news travels fast in a small town, but during bad times it travels even faster. George’s business now was almost too busy as Artina practically ran from one table to the other. Strange lights had been observed by the locals, way back in the woods by the south fork of the White River. Many believed that whatever killed Desmond and those hunters might have been related to those odd spheres.

“They were like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Faye Henderson to the crowd of 30 customers. “My little dog, Daisy, went chasing something towards the creek and when I got to the banks there they were, half a dozen bubbles, as big as my dog, just floating over the water, like they were watching me.”

“What color were they, Aunt Faye?” asked a teenager who should have been in school.

“They were red – in fact, it seemed to me there was blood swirling around inside of those balls. I picked up Daisy and came right back here when I saw them. I remembered what the child had said. ”
All eyes turned to Chrissy now who sat happily playing on her DSL. “I told Miss Faye – ‘When red globes appear, the blackness is near. Best run and hide - where there’s hot pumpkin pie.’”

“Yep, I remembered her saying that and came right back here in a hurry…and got a piece of Artina’s delicious pumpkin pie.”

Chrissy’s mood darkened now. “I told Mr. Harold the same thing, but he wouldn’t listen. Some adults never listen.”

It only took 3 hours for Harold Carlton’s body to wash up on a sandbar near Rita Langston’s chicken coop, but no one was there to drag it away from the wild dogs that quickly devoured it. Everyone was at George and Artina’s Kountry Kitchen, safe and sound.

***

Versailles’s Sheriff sat at the McDonald’s on South High Street, having a second cup of coffee, listening to Doug Trent ramble on and on about trouble in the next county over.

“I’m telling you there’s something weird going on over there,” said Doug obviously agitated. “Johnny always calls me for poker night – and I can’t even get a signal when I try phoning him.”

“Probably a line is down, Doug. Probably a tree took one out during that wind storm last week.”

Doug balled his fingers into a fist. “Jeffrey Sanders told me he saw red glowing balls of light, all lined up over the White River – like some kind of sentries or something. You need to find out about it, Sheriff – that’s what we pay you for.”

Sheriff Douglas snorted a little, but shook it off. “Those people in Cross Plains don’t like men in uniform sniffing around, if you know what I mean – but I’ll take a drive over that direction after lunch.”

***

Seeing all the people happily chatting away while eating lunch, Chrissy tilted her head to the side, raised her eyebrows, and nodded up and down. “Adults should stay in town, where they’re safe and sound.”

“The child is right,” said Johnny Phelps. “Something’s happening out there in the woods. I haven’t heard from my cousin in Versailles in a week. It’s good that we have someone to save us from whatever’s going on – till it all blows over.”

“It is good,” said Artina, hugging her little girl. “She’s my little hero.”

“She’s the whole town’s hero, Tina,” said Mrs. Stokes. Everyone cheered.

“Now, who else wants a little more sweet ice tea?” asked the waitress, happily grabbing an ice-chilled pitcher.


The End



Dab, The Midget Hitman: A Little Dab Will Do Ya



Story disqualified for a rules violation.






The Family Dog



“Dad, do we have to stay here all weekend?” Layla said.

“It’s a family thing Layla. Don’t you want to spend time with your mom and pop and brothers and sisters?” Cliff said, Layla’s father.

“No I don’t—at least not here! Just look! Bugs flying around and, and –we don’t know what’s out there?” Layla said.

“The big-bad-boogie-man and big-foot and bears are all out there just waitin’…,” Eric, Layla’s little brother said. He didn’t get a chance to finish, but that didn’t matter: The look on Layla’s face said all.

Layla’s eyes focused on Eric like twin-laser beams tracking a target. She made a fist but didn’t follow through with it. But she did step towards Eric and her eyes didn’t show any sisterly love.

“Were getting too old for this stuff,” Ronda, Layla’s older sister, said. “Don’t you think the beach is better, Dad?”

“Just look at the view from up here! You can’t appreciate Nature until you camp out, and smell the pine-trees and Oaks…,” Cliff said.

“I’m scared---what if a, a ---mountain lion attacks? They do you know---it’s been on the news?” Layla said.

“Hey, we have Champ---he’ll protect us!” Eric said.

“Champ! My God he runs from every cat and jumps up into Mom’s arms! A lot of good he’ll do!” Layla said.

Champ showed his teeth upon hearing Layla mention his name. A quick showing that lasted but a second. I’ll show her! She thinks I’m a whimp! Huh! One of these days, just one of these days!

Night fell; a camp-fire was lit outside the old Airstream Trailer that Cliff had restored. The girls and Candice, Cliff’s wife and the mother, would want to sleep in there.

“Yuck! What is that smell!” Candice said. She stopped roasting a marshmallow and looked around but didn’t see anything.

“Oh, God…Dad what is it?” Ronda said. She got up with Layla and followed her mother to the side of the trailer.

“It’s coming from over there!” Ronda said.

Cliff walked over and, yes, the smell was coming from the direction in which Candice pointed. And the odor was getting rottener. Champ stood by Candice and brushed against her leg.

The campfire’s light didn’t reach into the woods but a tall shadow moved, at least Cliff thought he saw it, but Candice and Ronda were sure they saw it.

“Get in the trailer,” Cliff said. Immediately, all shot for the door and ran in, except Champ.

“Call 911—tell them we have a Grizzly-Bear attacking!” Cliff ordered.

Kerplunk! A large rock hit the trailer. Then another and another followed by a roar so loud and deafening the Cliff thought it was at the trailer’s door.

“What is it?” Candice screamed.

“I don’t know----but it’s not a bear!” Cliff said.

“My God Champ’s out there!” Candice screamed.

“We can’t open the door!” Cliff said. “He’ll be okay…” Cliff started to say but Champ started barking and growling and moving, apparently, for the barking started coming from different directions.

“Champ’s fighting the bear!” Eric screamed

“He doesn’t stand a chance!” Layla said. Ronda and Candice both placed their hands over their mouths and gasped in union, “Oh-my-God!”

Something bumped into the trailer, something big and wild for it screamed as it thrashed around. Champed barked and barked but he must have been dodging the thing: No yelps of pain came from him.

A terrible scream, then another long-frightful sound between a moan and a high-pressure- steam leak washed over the trail, and started to fade, not from less volume, but from it distancing itself from the trailer. Champ started barking again but this time he wasn’t moving around. Whatever the thing was it was running away at lighting speed.



The next morning the same ranger, Jim Pineman, that came the night before to investigate the alleged bear attack, rapped on the trailer door.

Candice offered him coffee, he accepted then said, “I wish you had a shot of whiskey for me, I need one. And I don’t even drink!”

The family looked at each other, the girls crossed their arms and Eric said, “Champ’s a real hero---he fought that bear all-by-himself. He might run from some old cat, but when the going gets rough—Champ gets a-going!” Eric looked at Layla and again Layla made a fist. Eric said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” under his breath as Layla glared at him.

“What are all those helicopters and sirens for,” Cliff said. “Did the bear injure someone?”

Ranger Jim started petting Champ who seemed to enjoy all the attention that the family and now Ranger Jim gave him. It wasn’t always like this. Nope, I’ll take all of it I can Champ’s eyes seem to say.

“There was a lot of blood---in fact a trail of blood from you campsite to just before the river not far from here, and that is where we found him. Just lying, moaning and not enough strength in his body to run any farther or put up a fight. I couldn’t believe it after all these years, all the stories I heard-----but champ here by protecting his family managed to weaken one. He bit the thing in its privates and caused it to bleed profusely.
It might have died if I hadn’t tracked it though the night. But according to the Vets it will be all right,” Ranger Jim said.

“I’m so glad that the bear will be all right---it just scared us to death,” Candice said.

Cliff stared at Ranger Jim; then said, “It was no bear, was it?”

Ranger Jim looked up and, almost struggling for the right words, uttered out, “No…it’s a…Big-Foot!”


The End



Augustus, A Real Super Hero In Training



London’s broken out in fires,
the budgets in the can.
Congress is a’ mired,
and we’re in Afghanistan.
Europe’s a total mess,
and China’s getting dissed,
Super-Hero-In-Training…where are you?

****
Augustus our hero is in bed pretending to be asleep. “Augustus, you must get up. We’re in a terrible mess. There is no other than you.” The President of the Unites States is poking our tiny hero with the rubber tip of a tooth stimulator.

“Oh go away. You all make fun of me.” Augustus says pouting, “I’m just a short, big nosed freak with some mystical power. You really don’t want me. You crave some tall dark haired, or for you Aryan types, a blond, with big muscles in a Speedo. Besides I’m still in training.”

Augustus keeps at it, “What I have got to wear? Just baby boxers that don’t fit and a wee doll sized tee shirt. I can’t even get a date no less fix this mess. Go away, leave me alone. You got yourselves into this by praying to the almighty dollar, giving away our industry, and selling our treasures. I warned you. Did you read my prophetic editorials, my poems, my stories? NO, you all just laughed. Now get yourselves out. I’m going fishing.”

The President begs, “Yes, you are diminutive in stature, and yes, your uniform, if you can call it that, is a hodge-podge of, well, you could use a new tailor. But you have this power that no one seems to have. Please for the sake of all humanity, marshal your unique strengths and save us,”

And so pleads the President to Augustus, the Super Hero In Training. “There’s no one left to do it. WE’RE depending upon you!”

As an aside, The President adds, “we always reward our heroes…”

Augustus interrupts, “Yeah, and most of the time they’re dead when you do!”

“Augustus, I, the President, and as a private citizen, with more money than you can ever imagine, promise you anything humanly possible if you get us out of this mess. Cause if you don’t, it won’t matter. I’m being straight up. What do you really want?”

“Listen, Mr. President, maybe I can help, but really why should I? Your problems don’t affect me. I’m outside your big world.”

“Remember you laughed when I offered my services to this country a few years ago, when I pointed out the obvious danger that was approaching, and how, if we didn’t do anything we would be subsumed by the tsunami of EVIL and all that?

The President does his best political grovel, “Yes, and I was wrong, we were all wrong to ignore you. But now I’m pleading with you to forsake your miserable little feelings…”

“There you go again, LITTLE.”

“Sorry, really, very sorry.”

There is silence, for a while between both of them. The first one to speak loses and they both know the game. Augustus is thinking about what he really would want from this guy. The President is sweating. Time is running out. The EVIL is becoming systemic, every second of every day, EVIL entering the very blood of every new born generation. Augustus is the only super being remaining able to stop it. The other super beings have caved into Evil’s sirens songs.

“Okay,” they both say simultaneously.

“You first.”

“No, you first”

“No, you”

“No, you, I insist. I can you know, insist that is, since YOU do need me,” states Augustus.

“What ever you want, it’s yours,” swears the President.

Augustus ponders, why should I trust him or any of them? They just want to use me. Oh what the hell.
“Here are my conditions:
No more short jokes.
The song, “Short People”, banned,
and maybe one or two real cute physics majors from the local university to do my bidding, and I’ll decide later on the rest later.
Deal?”


“A deal,” says the President.

“Now on to my quest.”

The President is nodding, holding up the V sign and smiling. That little twerp, he thinks to himself.

****

Augustus is tiny and the EVIL is all encompassing.

Augustus magically shrinks himself even smaller, to a nano size, and gets into the physical being and computer machinery of the EVIL state. He re-works the computer systems to correct all that has been corrupted so that when the EVIL makes its proclamations, they come out in a proper and moral manner totally opposite Evil’s intentions. When a law is passed it is within the strictures of the Constitution and Bill of Rights as well as the state papers for each nation on the planet.

EVIL has been blinded to these facts through a magical incantation that Augustus creates, so EVIL only hears what it wants to hear. Its minions dare not tell it differently.

And over a short time, the brain-washed citizens of the world begin to awaken to the evil reality of greed and avarice that that have succumbed to. The world opens it eyes, as if they have just walked out of a dark cave to daylight.

Soon EVIL is driven from the halls of power. People just won’t listen to its false promises. Its proclamations are understood for what they are. EVIL can now do the one thing that evil does anywhere. It is sulking, and hiding somewhere in Argentina.

Augustus, is now a household name. Children are named after him in the hopes that the name alone will burnish a positive quality in those offspring.

And yes, the President true to his word, banned the song, no one really was up in arms about that. And Augustus did not want for dates. Yes he was short, but he did have magical and mystical powers of growth. 'Nuff said on that.

The world was a kinder, gentler, more august place to live, except, just maybe, in a very lonely place in Argentina, right Max?


The End



Gandhi



After all the shit we heaped on him, he finally got respect. Ours. Everyone's. A state funeral, no less, with the whole city in attendance. A true hero's homecoming.

And we all thought he was nothing but a bullshitter. Now we're bawling our eyes out, somewhat in embarrassment at ourselves, for the way we treated him, but mostly because he was just so much -- bigger than we were.

Bigger. Hell, I could almost laugh, if I weren't crying so hard.

Hell, the only reason we took him aboard the Fury was that we needed someone small enough to crawl through the air-ducts to clean them, and he could almost do it standing up. Any one of us could pick him up one-handed. Us big, tough humans. Hard-assed warriors, fighting the Pryen.

We found him at the N-51-C fuel depot; nobody knew where he came from or what species he was. He spoke broken English, which surprised us. Sorriest-looking thing you could imagine: filthy, matted fur, nothing but a dirty rag wrapped around him for clothes. He'd been doing fetch-and-patch jobs there in the maintenance tunnels, getting paid with mockery and abuse and leftover food scraps.

He showed up at the boarding tunnel as we were about to break loose, waving his puny little arms and hollering how he wanted to help us fight the Pryen, and what a great warrior he was. Nobody took him seriously, of course. But our maintenance bot got houghed in the last battle, and the captain gave him a tired look and waved him in. He cleaned and repaired stuff we couldn't reach, and we paid him the same as he'd gotten from the depot crew.

We could never let ourselves admit it out loud, but the Pryen were kicking our asses. We were all scared . . . all but him. He laughed at everything. Laughed at our abuse. Even laughed at the Pryen; kept going on about how he knew how to beat 'em. "Gimme chance!" he'd yell, "I show!"

We got tired of hearing it, and one of the crew said, "Cut the shit, would you? You're about as much of a fighter as Gandhi!" Everyone laughed at the derision, and the name stuck. We needed to call him something anyway; nobody could pronounce his real name.

So, it was 'Gandhi' this, and 'Gandhi' that, and his endless, sickening cheeriness, and his endless insistence that the Pryen could be beaten, and that he could do it, as we made for the Han Yu colonies, where the Pryen had made a recent raid, us and three other heavy cruisers. And Gandhi just did, all that we demanded, and bragged and laughed and waved his skinny little arms.

The problem was, we didn't know how to beat the Pryen. They'd pop out of sub-space, huge swarms of small ships with really big guns. We couldn't disable their engines, and their firepower was all out of proportion to their size. They'd pick a single target and all fire in synch, while we tried to pick off individual ships without much success.

We found them, finally, about where we'd expected them to be, and just like that, it was on. The Fury was bringing up the rear in our formation, and we lost contact with the other cruisers in less than a minute, watched our vanguard ship explode. We only got a few shots off before their first volley hit us. Our shields overloaded, but reset, and we were trying to do evasive maneuvers while tracking and shooting. We did take out a few of theirs, but it didn't help much.

Their second volley blipped the shields again and took out our main gun turrets, and we were down to smaller guns, and the missiles, which we'd held in reserve for bigger targets. We started launching them anyway, into the thickest part of the swarm, hoping to hit something.

The shields didn't come back up that time, which meant we were down to the ablative armor on the hull. It was only good for two hits, and then we'd be junk.

The next volley hit, and everything went to hell. That's the trouble with ablative armor: it's a layer of explosive, meant to fragment incoming fire before it could breach the hull. The effect, for us, was like having your head inside a big bell when someone rang it, only worse. Everything loose went flying, main power went out, every alarm we had went off, and the crew all got thrown out of their seats. The ventilation quit, and the red emergency lights were matched by fires and acrid smoke.

I wound up halfway under an inert crewman. I looked around, but didn't see anyone else moving. I heard some faint groans through the ringing in my ears.

And there was Gandhi. He climbed up and stood on the seat of the nearest weapons board and looked at the screen display, yelled, "Pryen stupid! That oldest trick in the book!" And, with that, he put the targeting crosshairs on the emptiest piece of space in sight, and fired our very last missile into the middle of nowhere.

Another volley hit; the ablative armor went off again -- and Gandhi went flying against a bulkhead.

What we found, when we were able to get up again, was the Pryen fleet, inert and drifting, and the ruins of a mothership, which apparently ran the whole fleet on beamed power. It had been cloaked, unshielded, right in the middle of that empty space in the field of battle. We got our comm up enough to tell Base what to do. The word went out, and the Pryen are in retreat.

We also found Gandhi, with a document on him, which gave the location of his homeworld. So, we brought him home, and here we are. A little man, from a little world, finally getting the honor he deserved.

He was bigger than all of us.


The End



The Incredible Shrinking Mad



It sounds clichéd now, but Mike got his ability to shrink in a laboratory accident. How it worked has always been and, I guess, always will be a mystery. Even his clothes would shrink. But probably the strangest part was the trigger. To start shrinking Mike had to get mad, and the madder he got the smaller he could get.

After the accident Mike was recruited into an invisible government agency called Intellico. For better or worse, Mike insisted that his research partner little Laciann Lacu join him. I'm sure they didn't really need another low level researcher, but since I was the only one who knew Mike's secret, they were happy to have me where they could watch me.

At first Mike could only shrink a few inches, which was impressive when it happened in front of you, but really not all that useful. He had to concentrate hard to make it happen too, visualizing things that made him angry. But Mike was a very even-keeled guy, and anger didn't come easily.

Back then superhero chic was all the rage, and the higher-ups at Intellico decided the world was primed for the real deal. Mike had a bona fide super power, but Intellico's Advanced Marketing had other plans for him. They decided instead he'd make the perfect sidekick for their perfect hero, Vega-Man.

By now everyone's heard of Vega-Man. He's the stereotypical superman, an alien from somewhere near Vega, super-powered by our sun, tall, and handsome. It's as if he flew right off the comic book page, right? And he has a smile that will charm anyone. I know the first time I saw him I felt a little weak in the knees. But that feeling faded as I learned the truth. When Vega-Man landed on Earth he was nothing but green goo stuck to the rough surface of a meteorite. Someone touched the goo and a few weeks later the goo started to look a lot like a human male covered with green body paint. But despite appearances Vega-Man was much more plant than animal, his powers coming from a kind of photosynthesis. And while he had intelligence that was humanlike, he had none of the socialization.

Intellico spent millions trying to prep Vega-Man for the outside world with little success. At least until one of his moronic handlers gave him a stack of comics and pointed out the similarities. Vega-Man latched onto the idea and the world's first real superhero was born. But he needed someone to keep him moving in the right direction. The Big Green Bean had a tendency to get sidetracked, sometimes by something as simple as his own reflection.

It became Mike's job to keep Veggie on task, and Mike's role as a sidekick was the perfect cover. Mike actually grew to like Vega-Man, though their relationship was probably on par with a seal trainer and his favorite flippered performer. But at their official debut Mike was dealt an underhanded blow. Advanced Marketing decided to forego Mike's suggestion for a codename, "Shrinking-Man" and settled instead on the belittling name "Shrinky." When Mike protested they said the packaging for the action figure was already done. From that point on Mike was able to shrink down to just under three feet.

I was put in charge of a support team, and helped out Mike wherever I could. Then the inevitable happened. The boys were saving some hostages and somehow I ended up in the fray. The media asked who I was. Then Advanced Marketing got the idea that I should play Vega-Man's girlfriend. I know now it was a terrible, terrible mistake, but at the time it seemed so exciting. Mike thought it was a bad idea, and argued that I was selling out. I told him it was small of him to think so. I had just wanted to be standing beside him, instead of lurking in the shadows. And so I was transformed by a plastic surgeon from nerd-girl into Laci Lake, Vega-Man's modelesque girlfriend, occupation "unspecified." I was unveiled at a news conference and as I stood clutching the muscular arm of a seven foot stalk of celery, fake breasts and collagened lips photo-ready, I wondered where Mike was. The same day he had learned to shrink to just three inches tall for the first time.

Everyone knows the girlfriend of the superhero is the natural prey of the supervillain. And that's where this was destined to end. We were sent to deal with international hitman, Nicholas Al Guzman Kumar. It was a trap. Kumar figured eliminating Vega-Man would do wonders for his reputation, and he knew more about Vega-Man than he should. When confronted Kumar simply told Veggie that he had discovered his "kryptonite," something he dubbed the Vega-Ray. Mike and I knew there was no such thing, it was only a black-light. But Kumar's suggestion was enough.

There we were, Vega-Man trapped in the "Vega-Ray," me stretched between the floor and an industrial hoist, and Mike held at gunpoint. Kumar held the gun in one hand, and the yellow control box for the hoist in the other.

"First I kill woman, then stupid sidekick," he said.

"Mike, do something!" I screamed.

"Vega-Man, save her," Mike yelled. "You're the superhero. There's nothing holding you back!"

But Veggie just lolled, a victim of his own reality.

"Please save her," Mike pleaded.

Then Mike glared at Kumar gritting his teeth with fierce determination.

"Shrink, I squash you like insignificant bug." Kumar spat.

A growl came from Mike as he lunged and tackled Kumar. The gun went off.

When they found the bullet, it was tinged with blood, but it was the size of a pinhead. Mike and the villain were never found. Mike had mustered enough pent-up rage to shrink them both completely away before my eyes. It's ironic, you know. I wonder if Mike had known how I really felt about him, would he have still had the anger to save me.


The End



A Dry Cough



Everybody knew it was only a matter of time before the tough policy of the seemingly everlasting Chinese government went on the brink of falling to pieces. The continuous demonstrations, the strikes everywhere, the discontent rose everywhere across the country. The governmental party had tried to calm down the population by giving them a sort of wellness, a new economy, modern skyscrapers, some riches and a western-style way of life within the main towns, but in the end that hadn’t turned out to be enough. The citizens needed more: guaranteed rights, better wages, the opportunity to choose, in a few words they strongly desired freedom!And so the leaders had decided there was no other way to maintain power and keep on ruling over 2 billions Chinese inhabitants. The military high-ranking officers knew well what they had to do, their secret labs had been working on it for years, just in case of some days like those, and finally they decided to release the preparation and let it spread everywhere: a specific gene-transmitter, working as a gene-modifier, which was able to turn the common citizen into a respectful and compliant one, incapable of arising in search of freedom against his own government.

The gene transmitter had been inoculated for the first time by means of bottles of water, the ones distributed everywhere via a national company. Then it had become residing inside the body of everyone who was drinking it, reaching and modifying the genes accordingly…

The order conveyed at the time of that first test was simple: respect the decisions your government made, as broadcasted through the media everyday. And it had proved successful, indeed.No more strikes spreading from town to town as soon as the main TV channels announced that those actions were illegal, having to be stopped immediately.

With the passing of the years, such a kind of gene-transmitters had been perfectioned: now there were inside every inhabitant’s gene pool several hidden commands ordering to buy that product, sleep at a given hour in order to preserve energy, walk that way, respect the traffic lights, all the road signs and so on.

So far the gene modifications were so many that the citizen’s genes could look like a stamp already pierced by millions of pins( that is, special instructions given ).

In that moment the slender, black-haired Wang Jia was just riding a bicycle along Hubing, one of the main roads of Xiamen, past Haicang Bridge. There were thousands of such means of transport just looking alike his, as that was the model approved by the government and sold via the only appointed national company. As a consequence of one of the many gene-transmitters-modifiers conyeyed inside the bodies of the common people, no one made a wish anymore for a car from abroad or disliked a governmental bicycle,of course, you would have never bought that under normal circumstances, but nobody had his free will today.

There had been many tries America’s and Europe’s governments had made in order to subvert such a compulsory way of life by creating some anti-gene trasmitters to be conveyed in some ways into China from abroad, but the national military labs had been able to stop them every single time simply by developing and spreading within homeland some new, stronger gene-transmitters capable of undoing the preparations many countries had invented worldwide to destroy such an undemocratic way of controlling people.

Going along the road, Wang Jia noticed sideways that alley leading to the building he had been living when still a nine-year old child. A fierce governmental repression had taken place there twenty years before, so no one had been allowed since then to approach it as that was a forbidden area. A peculiar gene-transimitter/modifier had acted so that nobody really would be allowed to go in there. Actually, Wang Jia would have liked so much to simply turn to the left, leaving aside the main road, in order to watch again the now abandoned house where he was born, but the man had that constriction inside that didn’t let him go far away from that designated course, as all the others riding a bicycle along that city route.

So he was very sad inside, but there was nothing else he could do.

Late in the evening, when he went back home leaving the University of Technology the man worked for, more than 80 miles away from downtown --a demanding distance no one would have covered willingly everyday if not cause of another gene modification -- Wang Jia was tired, but had still to give some foods to his poultry in the garden. That same night, whatever the reason, while throwing the feed a restless chiken bit his hand. At first, he didn’t overrate it, then he showed some symptoms along with a temperature and a bad coughing, too.

The man thought of it as an avian flu case, in fact he was sick for some days, but happily recovered in the end.

Going again to work the next day, Wang Jia headed for Hubing road as every good citizen. But as he had a glimpse of the alley where once home was, this time he felt he was not forced anymore to keep away from it. So, incredibly, he changed his course and went in

It was really weird to be able to have finally a look at it, after so long!

Now the man was aware he possessed inside no more such a limitation, unexpectedly his gene-constriction had been changed...was it due to his recent illness?

Maybe the germs still inside him could make the difference, infecting and freeing all the people he would meet during the day! So the man started riding his bicycle again, coughing right and left and proceeding along the way.

“Breath and inspire, people” Wang Jia thought, smiling “Have a breath of freedom!”


The End
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Post August 28, 2011, 10:43:49 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

To vote, rate these stories using the form below from most favorite to least (one being most liked) and send it to me via PM: (Copy it into memory, click the 'PM' button below my avatar (or depending on your board style, mouse over the green username by my avatar and a menu will pop up with an option to send a private message), paste the form in, & then fill in your scores.)


Stories (in order of appearance)

The Kountry Kitchen
The Family Dog
Augustus, A Real Superhero in Training
Gandhi
The Incredible Shrinking Mad
A Dry Cough


Rankings:
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)

Dab, the Midget Hitman: A Little Dab Will Do Ya, was disqualified for a rules violation.

NOTE: you must have posted at least one message before you can send a PM. Join in a discussion or just say hi in a thread before voting via PM. If I suspect a voter of being a false identity (i.e. a troll), I won't count their vote.

Author scores for their own entry will not be counted, and will be replaced with 7th place on their votes.
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Post August 29, 2011, 02:40:09 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

My votes/rankings are in...eh,eh :D
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Post August 29, 2011, 11:23:43 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

I sent my vote last night.
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Post August 29, 2011, 01:28:01 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

I read them last night. I was impressed. Still trying to decide on the final order. :)
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Post August 29, 2011, 04:17:25 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

I totally sent mine in - like totally. :roll:
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Post August 30, 2011, 09:24:46 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

In my usual can't decide, not sure, revised revision, and then again, (poor Nate), my votes are in.

RT
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Post August 30, 2011, 09:43:37 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

It's harder on my end to keep track of things with the new voting, but your current leader is:


GEORGE!

Keep those votes coming!
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Post August 31, 2011, 04:30:52 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

You know what, I liked the just replaced system (JPS). I could give a high vote for one aspect, and yet if it failed in another area, I could pan it too. It took more work. JPS allowed for one stinky subset vote not to kill all the chances.

This new one is an up or down vote.

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Post September 02, 2011, 10:37:09 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

The votes are certainly NOT rolling in...
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Post September 03, 2011, 10:31:44 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

kailhofer wrote:The votes are certainly NOT rolling in...

They've been replaced with spam . . .
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Post September 03, 2011, 11:52:26 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Spam is a constant irritation.

As to the vote, GEORGE and MICHELE are now tied, and hold a 1 point lead over LESTER. It's anybody's game.


Votes still taken until 9 p.m. central US Monday.
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Post September 04, 2011, 12:16:24 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Sent my votes in.
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Post September 04, 2011, 11:01:05 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Come on, readers, get your votes in!

Damn the spam attacks; participate!
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Post September 04, 2011, 05:10:50 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Your new race leader with only one day remaining is LESTER!


Vote while you still can!
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Post September 05, 2011, 10:06:39 PM

Winner Announcement

Congratulations to Lester Curtis, winner of this month's challenge! His story, "Gandhi" won out in the end against some great tales.



For the record, these were the authors of the entries for this month:

The Kountry Kitchen by Michele Dutcher
The Family Dog by George T. Philibin
Augustus, A Real Superhero in Training by Richard Tornello
Gandhi by Lester Curtis
The Incredible Shringing Mad by J. Davidson Hero
A Dry Cough by Sergio Palumbo




SCORES: (Less is better)



The Kountry Kitchen
Total Score: 29
Average: 3
Median: 3
Mode: 3

The Family Dog
Total Score: 31
Average: 3
Median: 3
Mode: 2

Augustus, A Real Superhero in Training
Total Score: 40
Average: 4
Median: 5
Mode: 6

Gandhi
Total Score: 26
Average: 3
Median: 2
Mode: 1

The Incredible Shrinking Mad
Total Score: 41
Average: 4
Median: 4
Mode: 4

A Dry Cough
Total Score: 43
Average: 4
Median: 5
Mode: 5



There were 10 votes this time out, so voting did increase a little, but not a lot.
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Post September 05, 2011, 10:45:13 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

I'm honored and very grateful for my second win.

Nate -- what is "mode" in the scoring scheme? Also, I'd be curious to know why "Dab" got eliminated after the voting began. (I could easily understand being snow-blinded by the spam blizzard, if you need a handy excuse.)

My votes were:

1) The Incredible Shrinking Mad
2) Dab, the Midget Hit-Man
3) Family Dog
4) Kountry Kitchen
5) Augustus
6) A Dry Cough
7) (no vote)

I really don't know why we can't get more than ten people to vote in these -- especially this time, with the new system making it a bit less complicated.

More comments to follow.
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Post September 05, 2011, 11:03:23 PM

Rising Star

Lester, you've really become quite a story teller. You are deserving of wins! I'm proud of your accomplishments.

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Post September 05, 2011, 11:27:14 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

I enjoyed all the stories this month. They were very good, albeit very different takes on the same challenge. I did struggle to figure out how to rank them. In the end I placed Lester's in first, since I thought the character of Gandhi was really appealing and the story was told very well. To me it read like something out of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, maybe early Heinlein. Something about it reminded me of Citizen of the Galaxy. Michele's was close though; it was almost a toss-up. Congratulations on the win Lester, and thanks for the great sci fi tale. :)

John
Last edited by davidsonhero on September 06, 2011, 12:27:18 AM, edited 1 time in total.

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Post September 05, 2011, 11:57:06 PM

Dab, the Midget Hitman: A Little Dab Will Do Ya

Lester,

The story Dab was mine. It was a story that I rewrote for this challenge. I thought I only had a copy as an audio version on my site. I forgot there was a literary version floating around out there in cyber world.

In this new version, I changed the voice to first person and added some depth and character development.

Here is the orchestrated original audio story version and the story poster.

Dab, the Midget Hitman: A Little Dab Will Do Ya
by Mark Edgemon
Voice performance by Robert Futterman, New York.

Audio Story
http://www.creatorandthecatalyst.com/Au ... Hitman.mp3

Poster
http://www.creatorandthecatalyst.com/Au ... Hitman.jpg

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Post September 06, 2011, 12:23:14 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Good job, Lester. It was a great story and you deserve to win. It was a favorite of mine!
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Post September 06, 2011, 02:46:52 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Congratulations Lester Curtis, well done...eh,eh!!! :D
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Post September 06, 2011, 10:40:36 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Hi Lester, Ente per Ente, and everyone - good job on the story, Lester, congrats. It looks as if my story got the next lowest score? Beyond that - Would it be convienient to meet up on the 10th of October in Indianapolis, downtown? The bus station on Illinois street is close to the Marriott - so maybe we could all meet up there. The 10th of October would be good for me - that afternoon/evening - the further away from the weekend of the 15th the better. Give me a holler back - and no, Sergio, holler back is not a term for drugs (I'm still laughing about the whole White Castle Sliders thing). Weed!
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Post September 06, 2011, 12:03:19 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Thanks for all the nice comments. I've written up a few of my own.

Kountry Kitchen

Setting is especially nice in this one. I like the inclusion of place names; the reader doesn't need to know where these are, but instead gets a kind of comforting assurance that all the characters do.

I thought the phrase "safe and sound" got overused a bit, and it seemed the characters spent a lot of time eating -- and talking about eating. Okay, most of the action takes place in a restaurant.

I got stymied at this:

All eyes turned to Chrissy now who sat happily playing on her DSL.


The only 'DSL' I know of is my internet connection . . .

Finally, I thought the people's reaction ("Everyone cheered.") was maybe a little overboard, considering that the situation outside was still largely unknown and unresolved.

***

Dab, The Midget Hitman

Too bad it got booted on a technical foul. This one was a hoot, between the various embarrassments and the mobsters' union. Clever plot development and resolution. Trouble is, hitmen aren't generally thought of in the 'hero' category. A fun read, though; I did like it a lot.

***

The Family Dog

This one didn't do a lot for me, and I think mostly it was that the characters seemed pretty flat. Not too bad, though. Various spelling and punctuation errors.

***

Augustus, A Real Super Hero in Training

My biggest problem with this one was the plot device, wherein the hero defeats EVIL from a bureaucratic position within computers. Sorry; it had no believability there at all. For one thing, rewriting the laws just doesn't work that way; worse, though, is that EVIL (as well as goodness) doesn't reside in documents, whatever their format, and no matter what law you pass, someone is going to disagree with it.

A fairy tale, in other words; they all lived happily ever after (except in Argentina, and I had to laugh at that).

***

Gandhi

I've I'd had sense, I would have held on to this one a few days before sending it. I got a little heavy with the schmaltz, and there were a few minor things I might have changed. I didn't have too much trouble trimming it to the word count, though, and the changes I'd have liked most would have been difficult to make fit.

***

The Incredible Shrinking Mad

This was a blast. I loved the descriptions of Vega-Man and the trouble they had getting him to stay on mission.

Beautifully put together.

***

A Dry Cough

There's a really interesting idea at the center of this one: social control by means of genetic manipulation. Maybe a little far-fetched, especially when it gets to a competition between the government and its opposition, each launching successive countermeasures. How much of this can happen before we get a rash of three-headed babies?

The thing that bothered me most about it, though, was that the 'hero' in this story really has no conscious, active role -- it's a virus.

Various spelling and punctuation errors. The closing line is great, though.
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Post September 06, 2011, 07:04:11 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

At first I didn't like the Idea of using Gandhi as the name of the hero, and that colored my thoughts about your story to the negative. For me the name has too much baggage with especially when one relates the physical stature, and the work that Gandhi did in real life and your story.

I just reread it. Outside of my comments above, it's okay. Congrats on the win.

Mark too bad, yours was my fist pick and Sergio's followed behind.

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Post September 06, 2011, 07:06:04 PM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Thanks for the feedback Lester, it's much appreciated.

John
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Post September 07, 2011, 02:17:14 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

My biggest problem with this one was the plot device, wherein the hero defeats EVIL from a bureaucratic position within computers. Sorry; it had no believability there at all. For one thing, rewriting the laws just doesn't work that way; worse, though, is that EVIL (as well as goodness) doesn't reside in documents, whatever their format, and no matter what law you pass, someone is going to disagree with it.

Just a point on the above,
AUGUSTUS its fiction, more specifically, science fiction with a superhero. Ergo anything is possible, no amount of basic reality has to play a part. So if Augustus makes a change in his world by changing /rewriting the philosophy or ideology by which the his evil world operates, and that subverts the basis, the very foundation by which evil operates, even if it means going into a computer, its possible. You need to watch more Japanese animation,
or I ROBOT, or maybe even TRON or consider the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Your analysis appears to be based on this world's logic.
I counter and,
I refer you to the poem, DISBELIEVEABILTY JUMP DRIVE.

RT

RT
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Post September 07, 2011, 02:49:31 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

For Rick Tornello:

Mark too bad, yours was my fist pick and Sergio's followed behind.


Thank you so much...eh,eh!!! :D

For Lester Curtis:

this can happen before we get a rash of three-headed babies?


Yes, it's already happened, probably in some old Futurama's or Simpson's episode...eh,eh :lol: :D
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Post September 07, 2011, 11:41:16 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

rick tornello wrote:My biggest problem with this one was the plot device, wherein the hero defeats EVIL from a bureaucratic position within computers. Sorry; it had no believability there at all. For one thing, rewriting the laws just doesn't work that way; worse, though, is that EVIL (as well as goodness) doesn't reside in documents, whatever their format, and no matter what law you pass, someone is going to disagree with it.

Just a point on the above,
AUGUSTUS its fiction, more specifically, science fiction with a superhero. Ergo anything is possible, no amount of basic reality has to play a part. So if Augustus makes a change in his world by changing /rewriting the philosophy or ideology by which the his evil world operates, and that subverts the basis, the very foundation by which evil operates, even if it means going into a computer, its possible. You need to watch more Japanese animation,
or I ROBOT, or maybe even TRON or consider the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Your analysis appears to be based on this world's logic.
I counter and,
I refer you to the poem, DISBELIEVEABILTY JUMP DRIVE.

RT

RT

The trouble is, Rick, that good and/or evil reside in the hearts of living creatures; their written expressions of these factors are not the source of those qualities. You can change the documents by changing the heartfelt intents of a people, but not the other way around (not so plausibly, at least). This story simply violated my willing suspension of disbelief in that regard.
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Post September 07, 2011, 11:53:14 AM

Re: [Poll] VOTE: August '11 Flash Challenge

Lester Curtis wrote:
rick tornello wrote:My biggest problem with this one was the plot device, wherein the hero defeats EVIL from a bureaucratic position within computers. Sorry; it had no believability there at all. For one thing, rewriting the laws just doesn't work that way; worse, though, is that EVIL (as well as goodness) doesn't reside in documents, whatever their format, and no matter what law you pass, someone is going to disagree with it.

Just a point on the above,
AUGUSTUS its fiction, more specifically, science fiction with a superhero. Ergo anything is possible, no amount of basic reality has to play a part. So if Augustus makes a change in his world by changing /rewriting the philosophy or ideology by which the his evil world operates, and that subverts the basis, the very foundation by which evil operates, even if it means going into a computer, its possible. You need to watch more Japanese animation,
or I ROBOT, or maybe even TRON or consider the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Your analysis appears to be based on this world's logic.
I counter and,
I refer you to the poem, DISBELIEVEABILTY JUMP DRIVE.

RT

RT

The trouble is, Rick, that good and/or evil reside in the hearts of living creatures; their written expressions of these factors are not the source of those qualities. You can change the documents by changing the heartfelt intents of a people, but not the other way around (not so plausibly, at least). This story simply violated my willing suspension of disbelief in that regard.


I think Rick's point is that in his fictional world, the power of Words is akin to magic, maybe even moreso when stored and transmitted through computers. Think of stories in which a writer discovers that whatever he writes comes true (and there have been a lot of them over the years)...
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