Quick Stories #2 Final Frontier

Scientific device © Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021

Ten Days Ten Short Stories

One a day for ten days. I write whenever I can, do the best I can, and I am willing to put my work out there! My thoughts are Don’t Be Embarrassed, Don’t Make Excuses, Don’t Stop Writing.

Recently I completed a 10-week term on Fridays with U3A Brisbane Creative Writing Group on Zoom and enjoyed the prompts, feedback and general literary discussions.  The writers in the group are quite diverse in style and writing content.

The wordcount limit is 500 words and while I found their prompts were ‘forcing’ me to come up with something different each week, I really enjoyed doing it. I was quickly learning how to keep them short and sweet.  Edit, edit, edit.

My characters are good, bad and ugly and the majority of the time I had no idea where they came from!

I say write for yourself first and don’t be precious about your words. For better or worse, here are mine—the prompt was Space.

Final Frontier

Fran ripped off the velcro strap so violently it took a tuft of her hair with it.

She dropped the VR headset onto the work bench and almost tapped the flashing message on her wrist screen before remembering she was no longer authorised to communicate.

Tord’s on-screen decree was absolute: Shutdown.

She was back in the real world, a contemporary world with little social consciousness, running on limitless personal greed, and no respect for history.

Money flowed through unnamed corporations with anonymous board members and spies controlled by the malignant régime of vigilante ruler, Tord, who leeched the economy of countries world-wide and left billions starving.

Fran spent two claustrophobic years in this grey-walled bunker recreating virtual realities of those countries before the takeover, demonstrating to Tord how nature was exhausted; Earth could no longer be sustained.     

Now those desperate years of work would be erased.

Fran spoke to her roving virtual assistant, a small round device, and issued one command; one irreversible command.

The VA argued with her but Fran was adamant.

“Erase internal and external data and activate equipment meltdown.”

She patted her agitated assistant and suppressed a pang of guilt at the VAs inevitable termination.

“Sorry, Beep.”

Fran unlocked a drawer and seized a new prototype, a machine gun-shaped molecular transporter, just as the security door crashed open.   

“Tord’s here! What are we going to…?”  The voice stopped.

Fran swung around to face her colleague Angelo.  “It’s your day off, Ang, forget about work.”

His eyes grew dark as he walked slowly towards her, arm slightly raised, ready to grab the glowing transporter.

“Please don’t do it, Fran.”                 

She moved back, but he lunged and grabbed the end of the device.

At that moment a thickset man strode through the open laboratory doorway.

“Stop, you idiots!” Tord bellowed. “That biomolecular thing is worth millions!”

His bodyguards shouted but as Tord stepped closer, he tripped.

Tord staggered forward and grabbed Angelo’s arm and Fran’s hand.  She was holding the transporter in a vice-like grip and Tord’s added pressure activated the transference trigger.

The air hummed and vibrated around them, turning everything blue then blindingly white.  Their mouths gasped for air as they travelled through time and space.

Steadily their senses cleared and Angelo discovered what had tripped Tord.

It was Beep, and the VAs Echidna mode had been activated.  It didn’t take long for Tord to start shrieking.  Metal spines were embedded in his ankle, rapidly injecting Quill-Still.  He would be asleep in seconds.

“Good,” thought Fran, as he sank to the ground unconscious.         

All they could see stretched out around them was a vast, empty desert of ochre dust.  The sun was high and the temperature melted the horizon.

Angelo shaded his eyes.  “Looks like 2041 to me.”

“I didn’t manage to set coordinates,” sighed Fran.

She handed him the transporter, removed her lab coat, and carefully rolled an exhausted Beep into the pocket.

Angelo tapped the screen.  “Reset to last week; Tord never visited, body never found.”

——© Gretchen Bernet-Ward 2021——

“Generally, emerging writers don’t write every day; some writers don’t stretch themselves; some writers don’t share their work; some writers fear feedback; just do it!” Gretchen Bernet-Ward