2022 minus 13: effervescent and slippery

Posted: 19 December 2021 in 2022 minus, fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , , , ,

Housekeeping Note: I’ve been in a weird mood this week — possibly related to Yahrzeit for my brother, and a few other things that have left me feeling a bit… disconnected… in general — and today’s post was started four times, on four different subjects before I gave up on each.

So I’m doing an ‘in case of emergency, break glass’ post today. Apologies, but I didn’t want to put up a blank page.

There’ll hopefully be new content tomorrow.

So today you get another couple of ‘fiction from the vaults’ tales; these two, two of the first I wrote in the 150 day run from 2010.

The first story was one of those that provoked both a ‘your mind scares me at times’ comment and a ‘that’s… creepily fun’ observation. I leave it to you to judge which is more appropriate.

The second story? Well, it’s always fun writing in verse, but I rarely have as much fun as I did with this one.

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: Because I Said So
Word: effervescent
Challenger: [Livejournal: missymodee]
Length: 200 words exactly

The preparatory fast ended, he drank the traditional effervescent blue liquid, and then, dressed in the proper clothing, he proceeded along a metal corridor lit in noxious green.

He slowed as he approached the door. He recited the calming mantra, but it did no good; his heart was pounding, his palms sweaty. Swallowing twice, he wiped his hands against his trousers, unsurprised though dismayed at his reaction to this regular task.

He placed his right hand, no longer wet but still clammy, against the frosted glass and a door slid open, revealing a space far too small to be called a room. But it was functional and efficiently organised: one microphone and one chair.

The soft voice that invited him to sit was familiar, one he had heard all his life. It had shared his joys and his woes, and it was the only voice he needed to hear. It was The Machine.

He loved The Machine. The Machine told him to love The Machine.

And he obeyed The Machine. For The Machine told him to obey The Machine.

The Machine occasionally allowed him to believe that it was his choice to worship The Machine, however.

Even though it wasn’t.

© Lee Barnett, 2010

Title: Typing Too Fast
Word: slippery
Challenger: [challenger preferred to stay anonymous]
Length: 200 words exactly

The role of some who merely serve others
Is often mistaken, my sisters and brothers,
As something less special; unimportant, they’d say.
Until Her name is mentioned, and that dreadful day.

As the Official Typist, others were wary
Not to call her a mere secretary.
Did the king himself not oft praise her worth,
As more valuable than all treasures on Earth?

Until that day when the pressure did loom
And documents flew in and flew out of her room
As she typed first an order, and then a request
And then a submission, and all of the rest.

The mistake, when it happened, was very small, but
In context, however, the consequences not.
At the meeting they’d held, the twenty-third of his reign
The pen had run out and he’d signed once again.

She’d meant to type that the king had re-signed.
A missing hyphen, however, was not spotted in time.
As Official Typist, you see, her records were Law.
And the King was removed, protesting his fall.

And then civil war; barons fought for the crown
And monarchy started her slippery slope down.
And all because of a tiny mistake.
Made by one who merely serves and waits.

© Lee Barnett, 2010


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



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