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Flashfiction #6: City

Discussion in 'Reader's Corner' started by Lucaniel, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. Lucaniel non serviam

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    Theme #6: City

    1. Your work must be within constraints of the theme.
    2. Of course, all themes can be interpreted in any number of ways.
    3. 500 words maximum per entry, or else the entry will be disqualified.
    4. Only post one entry per theme. The highest rated entry will choose the next theme.
    5. You may not rate/review your own work.
    6. Add a rating out of ten at the end of your "review".
    7. Be constructive/honest when criticizing a piece. No mindless flaming.
    8. You do not have to enter a flashfic to rate.

    clock starts now but i'm just going to mark it as having started 18/03 so we can hopefully wrap this up by 25/03, next saturday. then if we can keep the pace of critique-posting high, we'll only need 3-4 days before #7
  2. Atlantic Storm Booze Intermission Administrator

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    I was struck by a moment of intoxicated inspiration. Will hopefully edit when I'm sober, but I'm satisfied with the story, I think.

    Spoiler: 444

    The thought of a six-hour journey across the country within the confines of a small, fast-moving carriage of metal had seemed daunting at first. My fear and scepticism of the reliability of modern transport aside, I was very anxious about my destination. I briefly caught a glimpse of the ‘big city’ when I travelled to the capital of my province, but my short time there had passed by in a quick flash; a blur of tears as I left my family for the first time, and a blur of speed as I desperately rushed to make my train. There had been no time to ‘take in the sights’.

    But this was different. I knew that once I stepped off the train, I would be plunged into a different world forever. My father had told me that the city was a wonderful world where people lived in comfort and luxury, with secure, bountiful careers—a very sharp contrast to toiling away on the fields and living in constant fear of our harvest and livelihood being destroyed by the elements or stray wild animals.

    The possibilities were undoubtedly exciting, but they were equally frightening.

    Part of me wanted to run away from it all—to just abandon my silly dreams of studying at a university and return home to my family. But I knew I couldn’t, and not just because I wasn’t sure how a return trip on trains worked. My father spent almost all of his savings on the train ticket and on the few but nevertheless invaluable trinkets he provided me with, and my mother spent months doing what she could to sew me clothes that would make me look presentable in the big city.

    I owed it to them to find success. After all they went through to make sure I could go to a university and live up to my potential, providing them with an iron bowl was the least that I could do. The city life might change me, but it wouldn’t change who my family were. Blood wasn’t so easily washed away like that. That’s the thought that I clung onto for the first few hours of my journey, and the thought I clung onto as I watched the country pass me by through the window.

    My fears had mostly been allayed by the time the train arrived in Dalian, instead replaced by anticipation and a sense of duty. With my wooden briefcase tightly clutched in hand and paying no mind the fact that I stuck out like a sore thumb, I stepped off the train and took a deep breath. Cold. So this was Dalian. This was…

    The city.
  3. shit shit is divine

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    The prince-king walked up apprehensively, and the fat smiling minister dressed in the finest silks available spread his arms wide and greeted the prince with boisterous laughing, “Most honorable greetings your highness!”

    The skinny prince-king was nearly trembling as he nodded his own curt greeting, a barely audible, nearly stuttering, “Same to you.”

    “We are honored to have you here for this glorious demonstration,” the minister declared loudly. “As you well know, your father ordered this project started once his disease set in. He ordered the finest technicians and workers on this project to honor you, the new God-King.”

    “I only met my father shortly before he passed,” the prince-king mumbled. “Why would he honor me?”

    “Far be it from me to speculate. As God-King, surely only you may be able to relate to his great thinking. Now I will let his late highness speak for himself.”

    The minister pulled a remote control from out of his silk robes, and with a press of a button suddenly a gigantic hologram was showing the wrinkled face of the diseased former king.

    He was old and frail and spotted with disease, trembling in his grand hospital bed as doctors buzzed around him like flies, but his unwaveringly stern eyes bore into the prince-king like knives. “Boy,” the dead man’s cracking voice boomed through electronic speakers. “Behold.”

    The hologram flickered off as hooded servants pulled the grand curtains aside to reveal a huge window looking out over the slums of the Eastern city. The prince-king had been raised on the streets of that city, taken care of by his mother until malnutrition claimed her life, and then plucked from obscurity and proclaimed the bastard child of the despotic God-King himself. All of the prince-king’s friends were still there, and he could spot the old landmarks that made up his childhood.

    Then a grand quake erupted as the ground opened up from beneath the city, and buildings and slums plummeted down into a suddenly gaping abyss. The ground opened more and more under the sand, driven by impossible machinery that roared loud enough for all the neighboring countries to hear.

    The prince-king collapsed backwards in horror, and faintly underneath the machinery’s roaring he could hear a high pitch sound of everyone he ever knew screaming as they fell to their deaths.

    As it was over, and nothing but a black hole remained of his hometown, the machinery’s roar erupted again as something monstrous emerged from the dark. The prince-king’s horror was magnified when he realized it was a gigantic golden statue of himself, peppered with the rubble of his old home, rising from the destruction.

    The dead king’s hologram flickered back on. “You are God now, boy. Your human life is over. However you choose to lead, your legacy will always be that of a God first, and a human being far, far after.” With a booming coughing fit the screen flicked off, leaving the sight of the statue and destruction in grand spectacle.
  4. W AH

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    Spoiler: 496
    He slicked his hair back and adjusted his bow-tie. He then opened the door to this pitiful excuse of a diner barely better than some dive bars he knew of. He's met with people in worse places, but considering the significance of the man whose table he would be joining, the juxtaposition of such an important man frequenting this low-class establishment could only invoke an ambivalent amalgamation of amusement and annoyance. He avoided eye contact with the very attractive woman behind the counter who was very clearly admiring him, noticeably so even with the slightest peripheral vision he had of her and made his way to the back of the dump.

    The man he was meeting with waved at him excitedly and motioned for him to sit with him with one hand while using the other to devour a very sloppy, greasy-looking burger. He did so.

    "Wanna bite, Gabriel?", the man barely managed to mumble in between chews.

    "No, thank you. It's done, Mr. Mayor," Gabriel kept his hands at his side, "Are there any other matters you require me to attend to?"

    The mayor swallowed his bite, "Bah! All business as usual with you, I see," he wiped his hands before pointing a finger at Gabriel accusingly, "Why do you have to be so formal and matter-of-factly all the damn time?", he reached for his drink; a mug of dark lager, "Don't you know being so tense all the time is bound to give you high blood pressure?", he took a big swig of the brew.

    "Certainly no more so than that meal you seem to be enjoying will," Gabriel narrowed his eyes. "And what would you like me to speak of? Perhaps the weather? Or shall I feign enthusiasm in the woeful mediocrity of our local sports clubs?"

    "Sure, so long as you don't speak of what I actually pay you to do," the mayor winked slyly, "Anything else is on the table...how's your boy, by the way?"

    "He is getting to that age where he's becoming too wise for his own good - his dubiousness concerning my real line of work is becoming quite troublesome," Gabriel rubbed his face.

    "Just tell him you're helping me clean up corruption and crime!" exclaimed the mayor, as his eyes wandered to his half-eaten burger. He began to reach for it.

    "Then that would just be another lie, wouldn't it?", Gabriel sighed. The mayor stopped mid motion and slammed his hand down on the table, startling Gabriel.

    "Listen, you tell that son of a gun whatever it takes to convince him, and yourself that you are keeping the interests of almost three million people at heart as much as you can, the best you can! What do you think I did before I found myself in politics?", the mayor leaned in close to Gabriel and growled lowly, "If you have no qualms killing for me, you shouldn't feel guilty lying for yourself."

    Gabriel lowered his eyes, "Yes, Father.", he whispered.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  5. afgpride Well-Known Member

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    “It’s been 65 years since the assassination of Malcolm X”. Ice’s voice boomed like a gong up close.

    His deep inflection rocked me into consciousness with its resonance. As my senses came alive, the pain from my wounds followed suit. I once heard during my Initiation that Ice’s diamond ring put brass knuckles to shame; I hadn’t believed it at the time, but the fresh lacerations on my bottom right lip, forehead and right cheek were deep enough to make a compelling case.

    “It’s been 65 years since the assassination of Malcolm X”, he repeated. “And coons like you are still selling us out to the Devils”. He spat. “You know, I hate that word. Coon. They used to call me that growing up. I had dark patches around my eyes and supposedly spoke the White Man’s English, so it fit me well enough that they didn’t even call me ‘Uncle Tom’. Just ‘coon’”.

    I heard his lighter flick and began to smell cigarette smoke. Despite closed eyes due to the excess of blood streaming down my face, I could visualize his figure in that moment; head tilted down and off to the side, the cigarette being held with a thumb and index finger as if it was a joint, and his left hand in his pocket.

    “I’ve never used that word in my life until now, coon”. This time it was a hard kick to my temple. The ensuing throbs were preferable to another cut from his ring, so I grunted graciously.

    Tied to a fold up chair on the roof of an apartment building wasn’t how I would’ve chosen to die. Not by a fellow Panther. Yet the blows continued to come, each one harder than the last, until I couldn’t feel them anymore. As the wounds accumulated and my nose became clogged with blood and snot, my sense of smell and touch had completely dulled. Whizzing and whirring from traffic below, with the occasional police sirens and honks, were the only sensations left to inform me that I was still alive.

    “Do you know what the Devils call us?” Ice let out a light chuckle. “Black Mafia”. He burst into a hearty guffaw. “When we’re articulate, intelligent and well dressed, they see us as nothing more than dapper thugs. We wear black-on-black suit-and-ties and they see sagging pants. Being black with an agenda will always be threatening to Devils”.

    I wondered where Leader was. Did he know I was innocent? Would he allow Ice to kill me?

    Ice’s glock cocked, as if on cue.

    “The Devils threatened to kill my sons if I didn’t work for them as an undercover agent. Do you know what I said? I told them their tactics wouldn’t stop the uprising. I’ve put it all on the line, boy. What did they threaten you with? What price did you sell our liberation for?” Ice’s bellowing cracked and trembled, as if he was sobbing.

    When the gun had shot, I was still alive.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
  6. Lucaniel non serviam

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    I first saw the tunnel out of the corner of my eye, whipping past it in a roar of rushing air and screeching metal with my knuckles whitening on the maintenance handholds of the subway car. You don't take much in when you're hanging on to the outside with the slipstream trying to wrench you off it into the pitted underground walls. That's if you're lucky. You might sail off the outer frame and slam into a junction pillar.

    The ride is all-consuming, though, so you don't dwell on the fear. You just feel the sheer power reverberating through your bones, thrumming electric. The wind roars and the metal crashes like thunder. But I noticed it. A strange pocket of cold blackness in the heat of compressed air and metal friction.

    When we got off at our stop and the other joyriders fell about laughing, I stood aloof, transfixed by fascination. Johannes, with his narrow clever face and poker-player eyes, noticed. He strolled over.

    "You get shocked on the rail?" A sly grin.

    "I need to go back."

    He squinted at that, put his head to one side.

    "I think I saw something special. 'bout ten minutes before. Gotta find it."

    If you're bored enough for new experience to ride the outside of subway cars, mysteries are catnip. I knew I had him. He wasn't going to act too interested, though.

    "Special how?"

    "Tunnel. Big one. Had its own climate. Freezing cold, I felt it."

    We were curious enough to jump off the outside of a moving train just to walk around the subway system, find all the old stations they didn't get close off right and all the disused maintenance corridors that let you move through the city like a ghost. He wasn't passing that up.

    Ten subway minutes was some distance. Took a while to get there walking, sidling along the edge of the passages, stifling a gasp every time a train roared by. But I knew when I felt that cold and the vacuum in the dank underground air.

    The tunnel didn't look constructed. It looked blasted into the brick, charcoal around its edges and stone crumbling. We peered in tentatively, no longer eager. The usual been-there-done-that detachment we affected was gone. That yawning darkness had stripped it away. We looked at each other. I was silently daring him to go in. He was doing the same to me.

    But I'd seen it first. I'd brought us here.

    I squared my shoulders stepped over the boundary. The temperature dropped twenty degrees. I was shivering hard. I could feel my breath fogging in front of me when I walked through it. Couldn't see a damn thing.

    I realised there were no footsteps behind me.

    "You coming or what?"

    My shout should have boomed, echoed. But it seemed to die. The darkness was so total I couldn't tell where my body ended. I turned around to go back, striding hard, hands in front of me.

    They touched cold stone.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017

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