This week’s flash fiction challenge at Terribleminds.com we were asked to select one item from the three ideas lists and to then mash them up in a piece of flash fiction. The first item is the sub-genre, the next was the element while the third piece was the theme, motif or conflict. Being as indecisive as I am, I used the random number generator to select the choices for me, and I was given…
- Sub-Genre – Weird
- Element – Hotel Bar
- Theme/Motif/Conflict – Childbirth
If I am to be honest, I’m glad I got Weird and not Erotica. Erotica and childbirth is a difficult, not to mention awkward pairing.
Anyway, I thought about it and almost instantly got this idea that I think merges them all together. Of course, your opinions are far more valuable than mine. So it’s imperative that you tell me what you think.
Flash Fiction: Construction by Design
Mel lifted her head feeling its weight. A flaring pain erupted in her brain and she let her head bang down again on to the hard cold wood. Hard cold wood? Where was she? She lifted her head up again much to the annoyance of her own eyes that screeched at her. She was at a hotel bar and the barman was looking at her and smiling. It was a smile that made Mel uneasy. It was a smile that said ‘I know something you don’t’, a sort of apathetic paid-smile made all the worse by the crisp and robotically smart uniform he was wearing.
‘Are you ok, Miss? Time for another drink’
‘A drink?’ It felt like her brain was trying to crawl out of her eye but she was thirsty. ‘Sure. Yeah. Thanks’ She said resting her head in her hand.’
Without asking her what she would like, the smiling barman reached down and took out from under the bar a bright green drink placing it in front of Mel. Mel brought the glass to her lips and swigged, green liquid dripped off her chin. It tasted different, it tasted like… she didn’t know. She couldn’t even begin to describe its taste…
‘What is this?’ Mel asked taking another drink.
‘Jealousy’ said the barman, his smile dropping for a split second.
‘No, I mean what’s in it?’
The barman looked confused ‘It’s jealousy, the concept, the thought, erm…envy, the green-eyed monster.
‘Huh?’ Mel looked up waiting for the punchline but none arrived. ‘Jealousy? How? What?’
The barman sighed, his smile dropping completely this time ‘You are being programmed in a sense. Each drink you have imbibed and will imbibe is programming code designed to make sure that have everything you need to be able to live and grow within society. Simple. Now please, time is short you will be called at any moment and we’re already late.’
‘What? That’s crazy.’ Mel tried to stand up but her legs wouldn’t move. Not in that drunk ‘can’t get my legs to do whatever they want’ way but in a ‘completely 100% unable to move them’ way. ‘What’s wrong with my legs? Why can’t I stand up?’
‘Full motor control is next. People always want to run but they must learn to walk first of course.’ The barman laughed as if Mel should have found the joke as funny.
‘You’re crazy’ she said, though she was far calmer than she thought she should be. ‘Why can I not remember anything and why am I not pissed at you?’
‘You can’t remember anything because we have only just programmed your memory and technically nothing has happened before now for you to remember anyway and you’re not pissed with me because anger is one of the last coding stages to be added. In fact, like many things it’s likely to be activated many years from now. Let’s see we’ve done sound and colour recognition, interest, the ability to learn and gather knowledge, the deadly sins and their good versions. Always forget what they’re called though. Oh and lateral and abstract thought.’ the barman pointed towards the bottles behind the bar as he read out each label. ‘Ah ha here we go. This is next.’
The barman brought out a wine bottle and poured out some of the blue liquid into a wine glass. Here you go drink this and you should gain control of your body. Without saying anything Mel grabbed the glass and poured the contents into her mouth, but instead of the wine like taste she was expecting, it was metallic as if she was sucking a penny. Though the barman was right she could move her legs now at least.
‘You haven’t said what I am being programmed for.’
‘Oh I’m sorry, I thought you knew. You are being programmed, as are your brothers and sisters so one of you can become an architect, in Denver I believe. Of course it will take many years of development and study when you get there but that’s the easy part. I know you have many more questions but we must hurry. My boss has hung on for as long as he can but he’s getting impatient.’ The barman ducked down behind his bar muttering to himself as he rearranged bottles clearly looking for something.
Mel picked up her wine glass again and drank down the last bit of liquid. The barman shot up from behind the bar making Mel jump ‘Are you still here? You’re done, you can go now.’
‘Really? Where do I go?
‘You go out, you leave, you depart, vacate, vamoose etc. You can all go; in fact you should all go?’ Mel followed the barman’s eyes as they spoke over her shoulder. When she turned round she saw hundreds of thousands of her. Millions and billions of Mel’s stood looking as confused as she was in a hotel bar so vast and large that it defied architectural logic. Before Mel was able to say anything, the room was filled with flashing red lights and a loud siren
<<CONCEPTION IN T MINUS THIRTY MINUTES>> announced a loud voice over the overhead speakers.
‘Right people’ said the barman ‘This is it. You know what to do. Just leave here and keep swimming, or walking or running or whatever the hell you have to do to get in. It’s likely only one of you will survive ‘till the end, but good luck.’
Mel and her clones walked towards the exit, as the siren continued to blare leaving the barman completely on his own. The barman picked up the used glasses and placed them in the dishwasher, before he wiped down the bar.
<<CONCEPTION ABORTED! CONCEPTION ABORTED!>> announced the overhead speakers.
The barman sighed ‘Goddammit, what did he say to her this time?’