Beyond The Past And After Hours #Prosery

‘He existed once you know?’

Janet turned from her monitor, squinted into the gloom.

‘Who now?’ she asked. The hands on the wall clock glowed faintly. Half-seven, closing time was long past and James was still bent over the archive’s central table.

‘This,’ he said, and circled his hand over the papers in front of him, ‘this all belonged to someone who existed. Now all that’s left to mark his existence are cargo lists, household receipts, and half a letter to his land agent.’

‘That’s more than some have,’ Janet shrugged.

‘But how can someone be boiled down to so little? We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of time and know less than was once understood.’

‘We work with what we have.’

‘But it’s not enough!’

‘It must be. We can’t turn back time, only save what remains.’  


I’ve spent most of today going through history books, journals, and archive online materials to write a post about the history of witchcraft in Shropshire, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my time in archives among old letters and documents. For those of you interested in Early Modern history I’ve included the link here.

I do wonder what it will be like for historians hundreds of years from now. If blogs will help with reconstructing the past, or if the overload of information will cause more chaos that clarity. Perhaps something will happen to destroy all the electronically archived information, and we will return to a world of paper and ink. If we are remembered, will it be accurately?

Gods Out Of Men – #FlashFiction

When the coffee runs out, she drinks tea instead. It’s bad, overly floral and cloying. She drinks it anyway, hips bumped up against the chipboard kitchen counters, sink at her back, eyes on the peeling desk on the other side of the cabin.

Uploading… 65%

The screen on the computer flickers for a second before steadying.

Uploading… 66%

She sips the tea, holds the liquid in her mouth and grimaces when she swallows.

Uploading… 66%

It will be another hour at least before the system is up and running. Until then she will have to be patient. The screen flickers again, blanks out temporarily.

She holds her breath.

Uploading… 67%

She keeps the breath in her lungs until they burn.

Uploading… 67%

She lets it out slowly, carefully, so not to break the internet connection’s concentration. The screen stays clear and she closes her eyes. It would be easier if she could leave the system to do its thing and come back when the download was complete. Outside was not an option though. Not even in the middle of nowhere with nowhere to run.

They’d still locked her in.

Besides the disgusting tea she’d found in the back of a cupboard, the ancient set up on the desk, and the towers stacks of her notes, the cabin itself was mostly bare. There was no bathroom, only a lime green mop bucket and a damp roll of toilet paper. She hadn’t decided if the lack of food was encouragement to work faster, or an oversight of her captors. Unfortunately, the wavering broadband connection dictated the timeframe, and fourteen hours in, her stomach was threatening to turn in on itself.

Uploading… 68%

 

She’d tried sleeping but there was no bed, no chairs, and a scritch, scritch of tiny feet scurrying beneath the floorboards.

Uploading… 69%

She’d checked for gaps in the floorboards, for holes in the walls. Logic told her that there was no way out, and no way in. Logic didn’t let her sleep though.

Uploading… 70%

Uploading… 71%

Uploading… 85%

 

She blinked at the screen, checked she wasn’t mistaken.

Uploading… 86%

 

Her next mouthful of tea was cold. It didn’t help the taste but at least explained the jump in progress. She’d lost time.

She dumped the mug on the floor.

Uploading… 86%

Her mentor called the coding demonic, but he’d been overly conservative in his approach to the future of technology. War was a race, and she just happened to be the one who worked out the winning hand. Every nation wanted control over the others, they might claim to work only for their own protection, but reality dictated that it was more than that. She could take control of every government system and hand over the keys to a single person. That was why they’d taken her.

Uploading… 87%

 

She picked up the closest pad, felt the grooves in the paper where she’d pressed to hard with her pen. Burning them would not keep them safe, copies had already been made, and killing herself had turned out to be trickier than anticipated. They were going to take this power from her no matter what she did.

Uploading… 88%

 

If she had more time, she could have written an antidote. Something to consume her programme before it could get its claws in anywhere important. Half the coding was already dancing behind her eyes, but there was no way to implement it. Interrupting the upload would not end well for her, she’d been shown an example of that already.

Uploading… 89%

 

They could have got someone else to implement her programme. She had been so helpful in leaving clear instructions on how to do so in her arrogance. She was the quickest option though, the most efficient.

It was her idea after all.

Uploading… 90%

 

She’d done the maths on the outcomes. Her best estimate left around ten percent of the human population alive three months from the current date. Dissenters would always find a way to fight back, even against impossible odds.

Uploading… 91%

 

How would they kill her? Her fingers curled and the notes under her hand crumpled. She wasn’t sure if she should hope for a quick death or not.

Uploading… 92%

 

The screen flickered and a bang beneath the desk announced something blowing up. The room went dark.

The locks on the door clunked open.

‘On your knees! Hands behind your head! DO NOT MOVE!’

She follows the orders. Laces her fingers into her hair.

‘Get the back up going so we can see in here.’

Footsteps move around the outside of the cabin, followed by a loud click, and the whirling groan of a generator grumbling into life.

Uploading… 92%

 

She flinches at the sudden brightness, the impossibility, it should have failed. She watches the pixels turn to static and then reform.

Uploading… 54%

 

Her stomach rumbled.

‘Here.’

A gun presses against the back of her skull. A slow trickle of sweat runs down her spine.

‘Food.’

A bag drops in front of her, the gun retreats, door closes. She waits. The lock turns.

Uploading …54%

 

She rises slowly, brushes the grit from her knees.

Fifty-four percent, two hours at most. Then she would be making gods out of men.

She reaches for the bag.

No, she decided. She wouldn’t be making gods out of men. They would not be taking this power from her. She would make sure of that.

Wash Out The Bad #WeekendWritingPrompt

The official report blamed ‘a torrential downpour’ for Ichabod McGuffin’s horrific suffocation beneath two hundred tonnes of hillside.

However, there were rumours about his mother, and the hairs on Eddie’s arms rose as he pulled up outside old lady McGuffin’s bungalow. He shook the feeling off and fetched the shopping from the backseat.

‘Such a good lad,’ she smiled, opening the door. She watched him set the shopping down.

‘Yes,’ she said again, and handed him her payment. ‘A good lad. Just the sort we want round here.’

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April Speculative Fiction Prompt

The guidelines for those of you who are new are as follows:

  • Speculative Fiction: a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. [Oxford Dictionary]
  • Use the image below to write a story, poem, perhaps even a script. There are no rules about form or style. If you would like to create a piece of art in response that is also welcome. This prompt is about being artistic and creative in whatever way suits you best.
  • Please keep entries PG as this is open to all. (i.e no erotica)
  • The prompt is open from the first of the month to the end of the month.
  • Use pingbacks to link up to the prompt or leave a link in the comments section. Whichever you prefer.
  • I try to at least read every entry in the prompt and I’d love to encourage anyone taking part to try and check some of the other entries if they can.
  • As always, re-tweets, re-blogs, and shares are gratefully received. We are always open to new participants.

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Image by Victor reinhold from Pixabay

Removals Man #DVersePoets #TuesdayPoetics

They hire him to take up gravestones

in old cemetery grounds.

Pay him by the hour,

to tease out lichen lost names,

note them,

in neat, thin rows of records

only his eyes will read,

and murmur each syllable

into the fresh split of dark soil

before the groundsman comes

with his sack of grass seed,

already whistling

to no one at all.

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