2022 minus 39: tourniquet and collectivism

Posted: 23 November 2021 in 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

I quite liked putting up two very early fast fiction challenges last week, two stories written while I was still figuring out what I could do with the format.

So here are another two, from early in the first set of challenges, in 2005.

The first was an idea which came to me while thinking about the future and how everything today was yesterday’s future.

The second is darker and one of the more twisted tales I wrote in the early days. I’m sure I wrote darker tales later, but this definitely set a tone to be matched by twisted stories to follow.

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: Nightfall in Skegness
Word: tourniquet
Challenger: [Livejournal: bog_boy]
Length: 200 words exactly

She tightened the tourniquet around my bicep, repairing the damage from the large wooden splinter that had shot out like a bullet and speared my arm as effectively as if a spear had been thrown.

I glared at the huge metal thing, its paint gleaming in the last of the sunshine of the day, a summer’s afternoon in 1875. The first passenger train the town had seen.

The incredible noise made by the machine had distracted me and I’d gotten too close to the railway lines, never-ending rails on huge wooden boards that could support the weight. It was from one of these that the splinter had originated. The experience hadn’t made me think more kindly about the railways.

I couldn’t see what the fuss was about. Everything about the new form of transport seemed designed to lessen the enjoyment of the travelling experience. Not only the noise and the smell, nor that perfectly good fields were being bought up and then having tracks laid across them.

But the speed of these things! My Lord, some of them travelled at twenty miles per hour, surely destroying the pleasure of the passing scenery.

The sun set. We now belonged to the future.

© Lee Barnett, 2005

Title: Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands
Word: collectivism
Challenger: Dave Bushe
Length: 200 words exactly

I hear the sound of keys being inserted into the lock, the lock snapping open, the door swinging wide.

I’m taken from the cell towards the interrogation cell, I… no, wait: I’m not supposed to call it that any more. It’s an ‘education suite’. Much as the man who attached electrodes to my nether regions is no longer referred to as a torturer, but as an Outsourced Re-education Contractor.

I’m trained neither to speak of what I know, nor to forget it either. If I disclose my knowledge, then my current preparations would have failed. Yet, if ever I buried it so deep that I truly consciously forgot it, I’d be no use at all.

I’m pushed into a chair and my arms tied behind my back. All for the glory of the Motherland, who’d spit on collectivism and its purveyors if she knew how it and they had been perverted.

The man looks like he’s going to enjoy this.

Why not? I enjoyed it yesterday when it was my turn to torture him, to try to break him. He’s a friend, and as he bends forward, I know he understands my pain.

And that’s the scariest thing of all.

© Lee Barnett, 2005


See you tomorrow, with… genuinely, honest, something else. (At least, that’s the plan…)



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