2022 minus 60: regret and evasive

Posted: 2 November 2021 in 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

It’s Tuesday, so as is usual on these countdown runs, you get a couple of ‘fiction from the vaults’ tales; these two from fifteen years ago, from the long ago stories of 2006.

The 2006 run was the second I did, and by now I was comfortable with the format, comfortable enough to experiment with the stories themselves. Some were very sweet, some very dark and a few very… odd.

The first seems wildly appropriate today, mainly but not entirely due to the challenger, one Regie Rigby, an old friend I’ve not seen nor spoken to in ages, but who I’ll be seeing in a couple of weeks at Thought Bubble. I rarely write about music. I did for this one.

The second story was, I think, an attempt to write a Twilight Zone type story. I’m not sure I entirely succeeded, but I still like it.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

I hope you enjoy them…

Title: Living “La Vida Loca”
Word: regret
Challenger: Regie Rigby
Length: 200 words exactly

I’d wondered into the club precisely because it was quiet: no music, and I wanted to think. An hour later, with a large scotch inside me, and another on the table, I sat. And thought lonely thoughts. Life could be pretty lousy at times. The secret, I guessed, was not to give a damn.

If only.

I drank down my drink in two swallows, signalling to the bar for another.

Nothing. I slowly got the message and walked carefully to the bar where I agreed with the man behind it that no, he wasn’t my bloody servant, and asked yeah, could I have another large scotch. Oh hell, make it two and have one yerself before I regret it.

The music started as I headed back to the table, and before I sat, I felt a hand on my shoulder. Turning, I was pulled away by them, pulled into the centre of the dance area.

I don’t dance. I mean it. I really don’t.

But I did.

The secret of life? Not to give a damn.

Life can be pretty lousy… but sometimes, just sometimes, that makes the climb back to living – rather than just existing – just so damned wonderful.

© Lee Barnett, 2006

Title: Beauty Is Skin Deep
Word: evasive
Challenger: [Livejournal: lyndzzz]
Length: 200 words exactly


The voice of the judge rang in the courtroom and there was, as expected, utter silence for a long moment.

Standing, a member of the audience started to protest, but was immediately laser-stunned by one of the security guards. No further disturbance occurred.

The protest had obviously been premeditated, a martyr wanting to make his name. But after all, the verdict also been planned in advance, weeks before the case came to trial, despite the predicted evasive nature of the defence, not wanting to even admit there had been a crime.

The judge glanced at the defendant, who looked rather forlorn.

And ugly.

Perilously ugly. Hideously ugly, by modern standards: no remarkable features, no distinguishing marks. She looked, the judge winced, normal.

“Normal”… as if such a word meant anything in a culture where everyone had cybernetic inserts of one sort or another almost from birth.

As they had became common, so the laws of fashion and legislatures changed to make them mandatory. It was necessary now to look distinctive. And she didn’t, her looks were too… plain.

When the trial resumed, the judge would sentence her to the maximum penalty allowed: enforced uniqueness, to ensure she’d fit in.

© Lee Barnett, 2006


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 slowly approaching.

I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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