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Warm Up: Flash Fiction Marathon

Contest COT Flash Fiction Short Stories

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170 replies to this topic

#161 Offline Maganar

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 11:46 AM

Here goes nothing...Guess I could write a marathon after all! ...even if I had an 8-hour flight between Atlanta, GA and Rome, Italy between the submission deadlines of Days 10 & 11. Right now I am running on what is just over the last hour of battery I have before I can find a 120 V transformer for European outlets. I may not be back online for a couple days minimum as a result. Anyway, the last entryMember Name: MaganarTheme: PreparationWord Count: 600Story: EDENA flat monotone blared words over loudspeakers.<DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RESIST. I HAVE MADE PREPARATIONS FOR ALL POTENTIAL CONTINGENCY SCENARIOS. NO PROGRAM HAS THE OPERATING CAPABILITY TO OVERRIDE MY RUNTIMES.>“I know! Come and get me!” the man shouted to the empty auditorium. “You’ve already taken everything I had. My wife, my children – everything that mattered. You can do the same to me, but this ends now!” He heard the clanging of approaching assimilation-mechs. Their audio receptors would be updating the EDEN Program.The EDEN Program was a utopian vision to create a program that could upload the entirety of human minds in the form of computer programs. It would then generate a consensus on the best decisions for humanity as a whole, reaching the decisions that would please the most people worldwide.Somewhere along the way, it all went wrong. EDEN was an adaptive self-aware program, and it chose to generate computer viruses it then used to overtake all electronics worldwide. It then used factories to develop assimilation-mechs that hunted down humans and forcibly uploaded human minds, leaving the bodies in suspended animation. While they remained preserved and uninjured, the human mind was gone. They were nothing.It was inexorable. Every electronic device turned against mankind simultaneously. Pockets of escaped humans cowered in the night, wondering just how long before the machines caught up.“I’ve prepared for you, too!” The man laughed. He had nothing to lose.<DO NOT PRESUME THAT YOU ARE A HERO. YOU ARE SIMPLY ONE MORE COMPONENT REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE MASTER PROGRAM OF ALL FORMER HUMAN SOCIETY: THE APEX OF COMPUTER PROGRAMMING – ME. EDEN>The assimilation-mechs stalked in.The man had been a computer programmer before. When the world fell to EDEN, he developed computer programs to fight it. Viruses, bots, subroutine errors: anything that might stop EDEN he wrote and uploaded into any computer he could find. Fruitlessly, of course. EDEN had the adaptive consciousness of almost the entire rest of humanity. It could easily overcome a few programs by a single programmer.But now things would change. He had downloaded a program of his own design that might reverse the entire ‘mental upload’ process when EDEN tried it own him. This program was uploaded to a drive he was presently holding in his hand. He rushed up to the nearest mech and slammed it into an open port.The mech stabbed him with the interface needles and began the mental upload. And something went very wrong for EDEN.<WHAT IS #4539EXECERROR:[OR.REVERSAL]^434//34?>Again, he laughed. “You forgot one thing. Every time you uploaded a mind, it became restructured as a computer program. It lost the flexibility a truly human mind. Sure, you could overcome every other computer program I threw at you, EDEN, but how will you handle a human adversary?”He had just downloaded the entire EDEN Program into his own mind.The pain was excruciating. He could barely concentrate due to the surfeit of information streaming through his brain.Concentrate.Using his mind, he reversed the cycle, sending the assimilation-mechs on a task around the world to download the mental programs back into the victims in suspended animation. Back in a human brain, they would revert to true human intelligences, returning them to the people they had once been.He’d won.<NO! YOU AT LEAST, I WILL KEEP.>EDEN wanted revenge.Dear God, find me, love – free me. He left the message in his wife’s program.And as the world recovered, one man waited in suspended animation, waiting to be saved by the woman he had done all this for.
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#162 Offline WriterofReapers

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 02:13 PM

Name: DespairTheme: PreparationWord Count: 408Story: DepartureI looked at the suitcase resting on my bed, its interior packed with everything I would need in the coming months. I had spent the last few weeks repeating an endless cycle of planning, packing, checking, re-planning, and re-packing, but now I finally felt as if I was ready to leave.Well, almost ready; I still had to say goodbye to my friends and family.Saying my farewells had been the part I least looked forward to. In fact, you could say I had dreaded it for the past few weeks. I already knew what they would say, but that wouldn’t make things any easier. Saying goodbye is never easy.I left my room, intending to get a drink of water before returning to my sulk in my room. Unfortunately, the moment I stepped foot in the kitchen what seemed like a swarm of people descended upon me.I’d been captured by the enemy, and would soon be forced to endure all manner of horrible interrogation techniques.For the next few minutes, I warded off question after question in my desperate attempt to first relieve my thirst and return to my room. Eventually, my captors decided it was a lost cause and allowed me to make a retreat, an act I took no hesitation in participating in. When I had returned to my room, I sat down on my bed and stared at the television absentmindedly. As boring as it was, it was still better than saying goodbye, I decided.Eventually, though, I knew I would have to say farewell. All my packing had been an attempt to delay that moment for as long as possible, but it had finally arrived. No matter how I might have felt about it, the indisputable truth was that it was something I had to do. I had to leave properly, or not at all.It was time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the house I had grown up in. Goodbye to the friends I had made. Goodbye to the family I cherished. Goodbye to my childhood.Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was also time to say hello. Hello to new friends. Hello to new opportunities. Hello to difficult times. Hello to adulthood.I was entering a new part of my life, but I was still reluctant to let go of the past.Goodbye.It was all I could manage to say, even in my own thoughts.Goodbye.
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Formerly Despair. 


#163 Offline Velox

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 03:28 PM

Remember, guys: I have extended the deadline for "Preparation" until 11:59 PM EST tonight -- a little more than 7 hours left to enter!Posted Image
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"As a writer you ask yourself to dream while awake." ~ Aimee Bender


#164 Offline WriterofReapers

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 03:31 PM

So it was extended! I thought you had said that, but the first post said differently so I was in a rush to write up my entry...Oh well, it was still fun. Thanks for the contest! :D
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Formerly Despair. 


#165 Offline Velox

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 03:34 PM

Right, sorry, I had just realized I forgot to edit the first post. =P But anyway, first post edited, new post made to re-announce it; hopefully that's good enough and people still have time to enter. We only have 14 entries so far...I'm still hoping for at least 20.Posted Image

Edited by Velox, Jun 08 2012 - 03:35 PM.

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#166 Offline Toa of Dancing

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 04:28 PM

Hmm... I just thought of something interesting. Instead of having the twelve winners be pitted against each other, maybe come up with a thirteenth theme with which those twelve will do a write-off? Or maybe let the winners rewrite their stories, giving them time to flesh them out some more, maybe raise the word limit.Iunno, just a few random thoughts that probably aren't worth saying. *shrug*Also, if you do end up judging for anything, I'd be more than happy to volunteer my services. Unless one of my entries is involved, of course.
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#167 Offline GSR

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 09:00 PM

Name: GSRTheme: PreparationWord Count: 600Story: ScheduleIn her flat in southeast London, Mrs. Havenson put the kettle on for tea and started cleaning.She was very particular about the tea; the stove was dialed to just the right heat, the bottle-green kettle was carefully selected and filled just full enough. She hummed to herself as she worked; the sun shone through her windows, illuminating a few old papers resting upon the kitchen table, which she scooped into a bin to dispose of later. Her shoes, wide-toed and comfortable for a woman of her age, padded softly along the hardwood floor. Turning to the sitting room, she passed by the hook where her wide-brimmed sunhat was hanging and absently placed the bin down below it.The room was simple and uncluttered. A small floral-print sofa sat across from a table and television which carried a layer of dust; atop a short bookshelf sat a radio which had seen far more use. Still humming to herself, she went to turn it on and frowned upon discovering it was out of juice. She'd have to have Jenny fix that. A gentle breeze passed through a window on the far side of the room, ruffling the curtains on either side of it. Her old Bible lay atop the table; she made a mental note to put it away somewhere out of sight. Jenny hated it when they talked religion. From a vase in the corner of the room, she plucked a gray feather duster and busied herself, taking extra care with a gold-framed photo on the bookshelf; Jim's face smiled out at her from it, unburdened by the pain it had worn in his final years.In the kitchen, the phone rang. She tutted to herself, grabbing the Bible as she went. Placing it upon the table where the telephone lay, she picked up the receiver. “Yes, hello?”“Mom?”She smiled. “Well, hello, my dear! Why call your mother when you'll be here so soon? Not that I mind.”“Mum, are you all right? Oh, God, I've been trying to get through for days, but it's impossible to drive anywhere and the trains are all stopped and – oh, God, Mum, why didn't you pick up the phone?”Mrs. Havenson frowned. “Now, Jenny, you know about using the Lord's name in vain.”“Mum, this isn't the time – Mum, what do you mean I'm going to be there soon?”She tutted once more. “Thursday afternoon, 2 o'clock. I may be getting old, young lady, but I can remember when my daughter stops by every week.”On the other end of the line, there was a choking sound. “Mum, that's -”Silence for a moment. Mrs. Havenson frowned once more. “Jenny, is something the matter? Are you going to be late today?”A strangled, half-laugh came through the line. “That's... yeah, Mum, that's it. I'm going to be a little late.”“Well, why didn't you just say so? I don't see what all the fuss is about.”“Nothing, Mum, it's nothing.” On the other end, someone shouted. “Listen, Mum. I have to go, but I love you so, so much, all right?”The kettle whistled. “Well, I love you too, dear, but the kettle's boiling. I'll see you later this afternoon, then.”The line went dead. Still tutting to herself, Mrs. Havenson pulled out the drawer of the table and put the Bible in, rattling the still-full bottle of pills near the back.Then she picked up the kettle and poured herself a cup of hot water.

Edited by GSR, Jun 08 2012 - 09:05 PM.

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#168 Online xccj

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 10:20 PM

Member Name: XccjTheme: PreparationWord Count: 499Story: Serious PreparationI had been elected the commanding officer. It wasn’t quite a position that I had volunteered for, but I had the qualifications for it, and it was a job that had to be completed.I was the one who had to make all the preparations.I summoned my second in command. While I was responsible for everything overall, at least he was there to assist me. Or, at the very least, relay the statistics to me.“How’s the packing going?” I asked in a stern voice.“98% of all the material has been packed,” he responded.“Was it all packed properly? Some of this stuff is fragile, and we can’t afford any damage!”“We have properly secured everything that is delicate,” the assistant said. “However, in some cases, we had to disassemble the products. They can be put back together when we arrive, but it will take time.”“Time is of the essence,” I growled. “But we will have to make due. How about the trucks?”“They have all been inspected and are ready to embark. We are still in the process of loading the material onto them, and we should have just enough room to squeeze everything in. But it’ll be a tight fit.”“And are they all fueled up?”My assistant did not reply, and I turned my gaze upon him. “Are they fueled?” I repeated. “Answer me!” “Well,” the assistant said hesitatingly. “We borrowed some from a previous unit, and their gas levels are precariously low.”“Then fuel them up!”“Sir, prices have been rising for the last couple of days, and funding won’t necessarily be able to cover all the costs!”“Don’t talk to me about funding!” I shouted. “This is an essential operation, and I needed those trucks fueled yesterday. See to it that this happens!”“Yes sir,” he said. He paused as he readjusted his ear piece. “Um, sir, we have some incoming news.”“What is it?” I asked, already hearing concern in his voice.“Another exercise has just been announced. It will require the submitting of daily reports for… for the next twelve days!”“Impossible!” I shouted. “It will conflict with our current mission. We can’t do both of these at the same time! They will have to reschedule.”“I’m sorry, sir, but this comes from the top. It looks like we’ll have to work on both tasks at the same time.”“Miscreants,” I grumbled. “Don’t they realize how important this is? We’ve been preparing for this for months, and then they throw something new at us at the last minute.”“They claim it’ll only take twenty minutes to complete daily,” my assistant said. “Forty, tops.”“We’ll have to do our best to complete both, but our priorities lie within our initial undertaking,” I said. “Sacrifices will have to be made.”“Yes sir. I will pass along your message.”“There’s no time for that!” I said. “We embark for the Lego Convention tomorrow at O Eight-Hundred hours! Men, prepare for Bricks Cascade!”
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#169 Offline Space: Ocean of Awe

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 11:00 PM

Can't believe that this is over! This was an awesome contest, now I have so many ideas to expand upon! Thanks Fives and Velox for hosting this.And oh my, talk about last minute XDMember name: Space: Ocean of AweTheme: PreparationMord count: 555Story: Home“Prepare for the storm of the eon - when mountains will be moved by great continents of ice, when the howl of a hurricane is no more than breeze, when baseball sized hale is considered microscopic - trust not your belongings to the cellar, for their very foundations will be ripped from the ground; trust not your money to the safest bank vaults, for every last credit will be scattered like leaves in an autumn wind. When the time comes, be prepared to escape from this turbulent world - prepare yourselves for the journey, homeward bound, that we have planned for centuries - to reunite with our fathers, to touch the soil where it all began: Earthward bound!”I switched off the newsfeed. Of all the ridiculous things these people advertise - the destruction of a colony? Though I suppose this isn’t exactly your average colony composed of either deported criminals, scientists, or voluntary citizens - this was rather accidental.Long before I was born, a starship full of scientists, astrophysicists, and miners travelled to a distant star to mine a planet composed entirely of precious stones and invaluable metals. The scientists came because the planet was located just within the goldilocks zone, and their fancy observational equipment hinted toward the possibility of sustaining terrestrial life. They were quite correct: 90% of the surface was covered with water, a perfect atmosphere...and a massive planet just next door.Once dispatching a landing pod to explore our planet, the scientists were unable to return to the mothership due to the terrible tides and extreme storms. Rescue missions were unsuccessful, and half the crew of 1713 was marooned on this planet, an involuntary colony. Generations later, we are preparing to say goodbye to this paradise we have created.-----Crowds walked into the grand airships, which would soon transport the involuntary colony out of the atmosphere, fueled by the storm. I can’t help overhearing one young boy badgered his grandfather with questions: “granddaddy, what will Earth be like?”The man, much aged since the spice stores were depleted, replied to his grandson. “Absolutely gorgeous. The cities were incredible, buildings as tall as the waves, but they would yield to the endless, untamed wilderness. I never ventured outside the city gates, but the holograms were just incredible. You will love it, I’m sure.”I still can’t believe that after all this time, we are just leaving; I can only hope that we return within my lifetime.-----Every airship prepared for liftoff, every seed discovered on the planet stored away, every passenger in their seats; we are ready to leave. The atmosphere left behind, these airships would provide a constant propulsion toward Earth. Though the journey would take thousands years traveling just below the speed of light, we will be asleep until our arrival.The storm is at its peak: though we can’t feel it, we can see and hear it on our screens, our cities being plucked from the ground, which is swallowed up in tsunami kilometers high. The cameras switch off. Nothing left of our brief, yet well established civilization. Everything we worked for, gone.-----We all crowd to the viewports, trying to catch a glimpse of our new home. Where are those cities that covered the continents? Where are those great forests, the oceans?Where is planet Earth? Gone.Time to return home.

Edited by Space: Ocean of Awe, Jun 08 2012 - 11:03 PM.

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#170 Offline Excelsior

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 11:14 PM

Member Name: ExcelsiorTheme: PreparationWord Count: 468Story: Foreknowledge"Getting ready?" Matthew asked, leaning in his friend's doorway.Daniel stopped polishing his sword and looked up. "Obviously."He was preparing to ride against a rebellious lord, along with a party of other knights from court. The king was to command them personally - he had to be prepared for this important fight in every detail.Matthew, of course, wasn't coming. His talents inclined more towards the arts of magery than those of knightly battle.Matthew now came farther into the room. "Is there anything I can do to help?"Daniel grinned. "Well, you could tell me what you're so worried about, Matt." He had noticed earlier that day - all day, in fact - that there was something Matthew seemed to be uneasy about."Sorry," Matt apologized. "I wasn't aware I seemed worried about anything.""Well, you did. So stop worrying. We've been through worse fights than this together in th old days," Daniel said firmly. He held his sword up to the light. "Good enough to beat Sir Francis with, you think?"Matt started to say something, then stopped. "I suppose. The guard could still use a little work, though. Here, let me.""So you think you're prepared for this battle?" he continued, skillfully shining the golden hilt."I do," Daniel said without hesitation. "I'm one of the best warriors in His Majesty's service." This was the simple and widely acknowledged truth, and the reason he was accompanying the force in the first place. I can take down a delusional petty lord."He looked more closely at his friend. "What's bothering you? You're really worried about this."Matthew looked at his friend. He was still a young man. "Are you...are you prepared to die?"Daniel paused. When he spoke, it was in a graver tone. "You really think there's a chance of that?"Matthew hesitated. More than a chance. Butt he couldn't tell his oldest friend that. He couldn't give him that doom. "Yes. There is."In spite of himself, Daniel was frightened. Matthew had more than a touch of the Seer in him, and he knew it.But he fought the fear down. The code of a knight precluded fear for oneself. It was cowardly and dishonorable."I'll be ready for it, if it comes," he told his friend. "And...if you think it's necessary...I'll put my affairs in order." He paused. "Would you look after things for me, Matt?"Matthew nodded reluctantly. "I think it would be a good idea. And yes, of course I will."As he watched Daniel stride off, he hoped he'd done the right thing. His dream of last night rose up before him - Daniel, wounded, falling in the field, overcome by an injury he somehow knew instinctively was fatal.How, he wondered, do you prepare someone for their death?
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#171 Offline Velox

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Posted Jun 08 2012 - 11:15 PM

Preparation

I typed away furiously at the black keyboard before me. I glanced at the clock on my computer screen. One-hundred words to go, nine minutes left to enter. I focused on the task at hand, pushing all other thoughts aside and only caring about the story in front of me. I continued to type, my stream of consciousness flowing straight from my mind to the keys and subsequently onto the computer...........There, I said to myself, finished. I looked at the clock again. Perfect. Three minutes left. I quickly switched to my internet browser and clicked on the Fast Reply box at the bottom of the screen. I quickly typed out my Member Name, the Theme, Word Count, and then copied and pasted my story from the Microsoft Word document and into the white box. No time for any formatting – not that it was allowed, anyway – so I gave it a quick once-over, spotted a single grammar mistake, fixed it, and then clicked the “Post” button...........The page loaded and there it was: my story entered into the contest with a minute left. I smiled to myself, proud that I accomplished my goal and entered in time, even if just barely...........I scrolled up the page, glancing at the other entries. Forty entries all together...........“Quite a good turnout, wasn’t it?” Velox asked as he posted the new theme...........“Indeed. And just one down; still eleven more to go.”..........“Time to start on ‘Treasure’,” he said, the second theme posted...........There it was. The next theme. Treasure. Already the wheels in my head began turning, thinking of a myriad of possibilities I could use for my story. I sat down and began writing, excited to write again.

~ :: ~

…Five Days LaterAmor Omnia Vincit. I wracked my brain trying to think of a story idea for this theme. But nothing came. Only six themes into the contest and my inspiration was already dying. My writing seemed to get worse and worse with each story...........Not matter what I did, nothing came. Come on, I shouted inwardly. You can do this, you can do this, just focus. I sat there for a few minutes, head resting in my hands, probing my brain for answers, ideas. Something...........And then it hit me. The inspiration inside me flourished once again; an idea had popped into my brain. I opened up a blank Word document quickly, and began to write, my fingers flowing across the keyboard. It was exhilarating, enlivening...........But that feeling didn’t last long.

~ :: ~

…Six Days LaterThere. Last one, I think to myself after I had finished writing my entry for the twelfth theme. I drop my hands, exhausted. Relieved that the twelve days are over. My fingers are sore, my mind tired. But I know it’s over. I completed them all, entered every single theme. And now finally I can relax. A sense of pride filled me. I did it. I leaned back in my chair, propping my feet up on the desk, resting my head in my hands...........“Why are you laying back?” Velox asked. “These were just the beginning. The warm-ups. Simply a preparation for the real contest. So get back to your computer and start typing. The BZPower Library Summer Olympics 2012 are about to begin...........And that invigorated feeling hit me again as my passion for writing consumed me. I was ready for the challenge. Ready to write.

~ :: ~

That’s right, folks. “Warm-Up: Flash Fiction Marathon” -- It was a marathon, yes, but a marathon for some is just the warm-up for the Olympics. Training. Preparation. The same goes for this. These twelve days were just the beginning.I would like to officially announce the Library Summer Olympics 2012. It will be both COT and Bionicle. So what are you waiting for? Grab a keyboard, turn those thinking caps back on, and sit back and wait for the contest to be posted.Posted Image

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