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What Does the Future Hold?

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionNot all writers have a vision for writing futuristic stories. It was a stretch to look forward and write flash that gazed into the future. Some writers looked to current events, others to gadgets and some to humanity. You’ll find humor in the writings this week, also fear and love.

Some writers included futuristic names based on a rumored “Star Wars Name Generator.” Just for fun, you might want to create your own. Thanks to all the writers this week who dared to step into the future for the challenge.

Life As We Know It by Amber Prince

The lands before him were bleak. He stumbled on broken cement as he crossed the broken terrain looking for proof of other life. The smell of rot and decay was already taking over the air. It seemed everything had been demolished in the battle. The burden of every soul lost weighed on his shoulders.

Sides had been chosen, had he chosen wrong?

Then he saw the blast of red in the air. Then blue. White. He urged his body forward, until at last he found them as they raised the tattered flag. Independence was theirs. Finally, freedom on Mars.

###

Mary’s Choice by Geoff Le Pard

It was 97 years since she had last thought about ending it. The day she had found out about Dad’s affair. Now she was 125, the Max. She should go. Just think it and the Vivapod shuts down.

Mary hated deciding. She’d chosen to be part of the world brain. 2082 when her kidneys failed. ‘You can die or you join Omni.’ They took her body but with Glutox and RealView she didn’t notice; last week it was like she was on Mars for the Independence Day celebrations. If only Penny had chosen. Missing her had always been real.

###

Interplanetary HigherEd by Larry LaForge

“World War 4. Let’s begin.”

Professor Lasou initiates the session in his Earth History course with a simple twist of his wrist and nod of his head.

The GalaxyEdComW wristband launches the segment on WW4, while his GalaxyEdComG smartglasses connect to all 1.2 million students. The system allows Lasou to monitor student thoughts so he can address questions before they’re even asked.

A few minutes in, Lasou is annoyed by flirtatious activity across the interplanetary network. With a click he purges several thousand students who seem more interested in hooking up than learning about WW4.

Some things never change.

************
The 100-word version of the above story is posted on larrylaforge100words at Flash Fiction Magazine.

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Flash Fiction by Pete

“It’s on sale” Heath said between swigs of his 99 ounce Gut Buster soda. He ogled the 160 inch screen television, advertising aVT60 interface with voice command.

The kids’ vacant faces were glued to the movie on their sunglasses. Aimee eyed the monstrosity. Colorful fireworks burst in glorious splinters of light and she drifted twenty summers to the past, when her father had taken her to the Fourth of July celebration in 2014. They’d watched from the dock, smelling the sulfur in the breeze, oohing with each blast in the sky.

Aimee shook her head. “Let’s find the sunblock.”

###

Next Chapter by Paula Moyer

Jean looked around at her house. Here on her 65th birthday, her house was ready. Every room.

Now she would be a “puppy raiser.” She would raise an 8-week-old Lab to be a service dog and then “graduate” to the home of a disabled person.

Service dogs had to navigate through the whole house. Jean had ploughed through the junk in every corner to make it safe.

Her wrist-phone whispered: “Time.” She walked out and whispered back: “Lock.” Faced her car and whispered: “Unlock. Start.” Her rechargeable car purred softly.

The pup’s eye’s met hers.

Pearl and Jean. Partners.

###

Flying for the Bug Express by Charli Mills

Black cliffs rose above crashing waves. Hicbi Butro peered out the window of his Express Bug as he flew over rocky barrens where he’d deliver Bug messages to miners.

Express Bugs were said to resemble ancient insects–red, black spots, domed backs. A story passed down from Before. Once glaciers melted, reforming elsewhere, submerging other Before places, the digital culture was lost. Only Eddic-Keepers had stories of Before.

He wouldn’t care except that the woman he loved, Shusa Washu, was an Eddic-Keeper. She was also mistress to Macco Alsta, owner of this place she said was once Baffin Island.

###

The Yielding by Jeanne Lombardo

Her yielding appointment fell on Bearers’ day at the Lyceum. Doggit, she thought. Her visit with the offsprung would be short.

Aristo wouldn’t mind; at fourteen, in his apprenticeship now, he flourished under his mentor’s guidance. Still, their meetings were warm. He knew she had borne him.

The door of the earth abode clicked behind her. She heard songbirds in the canopy overhead, and smiled, sadly. The yielding was necessary. The Sangerites had been wise. The earth would be not be overburdened again.

Seeing Aristo made it easier to yield when contraception failed. That and the People’s Gratitude.

###

Rebel Rebel by Lisa Reiter

“Well? Which do you want? Time’s up..”

Reili may as well have picked one at random. She hadn’t enough credits to enter the Utopiverses. The damage to her arm had reduced her choices to live the remainder of her life as a warning to others – the insights they gave children in order to control their behaviour.

Having disobeyed the ‘restraints’ and injured herself riding that 21st century museum exhibit she was destined to be a lesson to all non-conformists.

Now at the junction of the quantum she only had the dystopiverses to choose from.

###

Future Flash by Anne Goodwin

The acknowledgements were proving as problematic as the seating plan for a society wedding. Where to put the stalwart friend who’d praised even her notes to the milkman? Whether to credit the tutor whose criticism had set her back a couple of years, but whose name would glorify the blurb? How to include her family who, in all honesty, resented her love affair with her laptop?

Even on the screen, the blank page was menacing. But she had to face it. Her fingers danced across the keyboard: CHAPTER 1. She reached for her wineglass. She’d begin in earnest tomorrow.

###

FLASH by Irene A Waters

“The only way you can pay ma’am is with your mobile phone.”

“I haven’t got a mobile phone.”

“Your kids’ll have one?”

“I haven’t got any of them either.”

“What about friends ma’am?”

“Dead. They’re all dead.”

“Who helps you then if you ain’t got kids and you ain’t got friends?”

“I help myself.”

“Then you need a mobile phone. No cards since last week and the banks’ll only talk to you on the mobile phone set up for your accounts.”

She left the store with purpose. At last, a use for the length of rope in the garage.

###

Ready by Norah Colvin

“I’m off now,” she said.

“Have you got everything?” asked Mum.

“Yes Mum.”

“Are you sure you haven’t forgotten anything?”

“I’m sure.”

Mum looked around. There must be something she’d missed.

“What about . . .?”

“No, Mum. I’ve got everything.”

“Okay. If you’re sure.”

“Bye Mum!”

”Bye.”

She walked through the door and down the stairs.

Mum watched, anxious. What could she have forgotten?

“Wait!”

She turned, puzzled.

Mum leapt down the stairs.

“What?”

Mum hugged her tightly, whispering softly, “I love you very, very much. Always have and always will.”

“I know. Love you too Mum.”

###

New challenge posted every Wednesday on Carrot Ranch Communications.  All writers welcome!

 

July 2: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionDowntown Boise outside a brew-pub, the Hub and I run into one of his co-workers. It’s 10:30 on a summer night and the small city is vibrant with the hum of people on street-side patios. The neon lights of signs advertising Mongolian Barbeque, Mai Thai and Taj Mahal all promise tastes I haven’t had since leaving Minneapolis two-years ago.

The guys talk loud and gesture broadly, discussing work issues the way men do out west. I’m listening, looking, absorbing, when the co-worker’s wife asks, “If you had 5 million dollars, where would you live?” While I think she’s curious as to the 870-mile commute the Hub makes every 10 days, wondering which place we’d rather live–Boise or Elmira–she’s stumped me.

It’s hot and dry in Boise, Idaho. The distant mountains look like crackers in need of a spread. North of here 435 miles, Elmira Pond is cloaked in green grass, morning mist and mountains hairy with pines, tamaracks and birch. A few craggy peaks above the treeline reveal white granite. Alpine lakes sit in granitic bowls beneath those crags and boulder-strewn rivers tumble to the valley floors. It’s gorgeous up north.

Yet, Boise has life in a different way. Theaters, art galleries, fantastic food and the great outdoors just beyond the freeways. Here, we can take in a Hawks baseball game or drive five miles to the Birds of Prey sanctuary. More than one museum calls Boise home. Writers have a thriving community with a state college that offers an MFA program and supports community outreach. Story-tellers have their own venue. It’s definitely the opposite of the isolation found up north.

It’s not that I can’t decide. It’s not that it’s an issue of money. The question–where would you live if–is forward thinking. It’s a strength I don’t have–that ability to look to the future. Swirls of color pour out from my imagination in patterns of possibility as I look to the past, but as soon as I look to the future, the colors fade like an ink cartridge gone dry.

Last week we dug into the past for a prompt. For me it was a fun and easy because I have a strength called “context,” which means I’m able to understand the present by researching its history. It seems that the writers who responded last week found many connections to the past. When you read the compilation of stories, From Dirt to Words, you’ll see that the writers found treasure.

This makes me curious to find out how writers would respond to looking to the future. Norah Colvin, one of the Carrot Ranch Congress of Rough Writers, made an observation about writers who responded to an earlier prompt:

“…and interesting as you say that all deal with internal rather than physical strength…I wonder, seeing we are all writers, if that is because we are more focused on internal rather than physical strength?”

Indeed, as writers, we probably do have shared strengths, which are a combination of skill, knowledge and talent. Donald Clifton, who is called the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology and Creator of the Clifton StrengthsFinder, is familiar to me from career days in marketing. I built brands, teams and stories based on the strengths of co-op organizers, consumers and employees.

Thus I’m fascinated with strengths and how we use them. As writers, our best works will be linked to our top strengths. Think of it like this, a writer’s voice is what makes him or her stand out in a sea of bobbing writers. We use our strengths to rise to the top.

So now for a bit of an experiment. I’m going to base this week’s prompt on a strength I know I don’t have. It’s called “futuristic.” People who are especially talented in the futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.

In order to be inspired by the future, I need to link it to the past, to put it into context. The same for reading futuristic fiction. The stories of the future that I like best are the ones that offer futuristic people’s history. When I was going into high school, that summer I read the Han Solo Trilogy because it was like reading the history of  the Star Wars character. Not to mention, he reminded me of a space-age cowboy.

With the Han Solo Trilogy in mind, I’m thinking that I can make a futuristic prompt work for me. There’s a rumor that George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, came up with a way to create futuristic names for his characters. Using a formula linked to that rumor, I came up with future names for my McCandless trio of historic characters:

  • Cobb McCandless = Macco Alsta
  • Sarah Shull = Shusa Washu
  • Bill Hickok = Hicbi Butro

This formula isn’t necessary for the prompt, but it was fun and got me motivated to write something forward-imagining.

July 2, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a futuristic story that looks ahead.  What possibilities inspire your writing? Do you need to connect your future characters to the past or is it freeing to write something previously unimagined? Is the future bright or bleak? Write a future near or far. Tell that story in a flash. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, July 8 to be included in the compilation.

Flying for the Bug Express by Charli Mills

Black cliffs rose above crashing waves. Hicbi Butro peered out the window of his Express Bug as he flew over rocky barrens where he’d deliver Bug messages to miners.

Express Bugs were said to resemble ancient insects–red, black spots, domed backs. A story passed down from Before. Once glaciers melted, reforming elsewhere, submerging other Before places, the digital culture was lost. Only Eddic-Keepers had stories of Before.

He wouldn’t care except that the woman he loved, Shusa Washu, was an Eddic-Keeper. She was also mistress to Macco Alsta, owner of this place she said was once Baffin Island.

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.