Mirror world

“It doesn’t make any sense. They crossed through the gate in perfect health and comfort. Why would their bodies begin failing within hours?”

The Stereopticon displayed the result of Dr. Samuelson’s work on N-dimensional transformations—the press called it the “Mirror Universe.” The results of all robotic exploration, and every sort of preliminary testing that the team could think of demonstrated essentially what the theory had predicted: Another universe, identical to our own, but reflected.

Dr. Samovar showed Samuelson his own hand reflected in a pocket mirror.

“Chirality. Stereoisomers. Right- and left-handed molecules. You’ve got to bring them back, doctor!”

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Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

No image attribution.

The second civil war ended with a whimper

The high-tension power lines overhead charge the electrified barbed-wire barrier. From the fence hangs a very simple—and effective—warning for trespassers: “Warning! If you cross this fence, you will die!” It prominently features a “jolly roger” on a field of red.

The Thomkins Clan is deadly serious. In 2045, they successfully seceded from the United States, making it quite clear to the government that the Clan possessed the military firepower necessary to enforce their desire for independence.

Thanks to some mid-60s booster rocket plans and 3D printer technology—that is the Clan’s private ICBM silo, over in that cornfield.

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In response to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PROMPT –© Marie Gail Stratford

St. Christopher’s Movable Feast

I hadn’t marched like this for a long time, but then again it had been a while since I ventured so far from the nest. I rechecked the straps on my backpack, again. The desperately needed supplies were still secure. Not much further to travel, but that last step is a doozy.

Where the Market Street Bridge ends, the destruction begins. Wreckage fills the city streets, rusting cars moldering in the summer heat. Many of the cars still have their former owners inside. Skulls lean on steering wheels and empty sockets stare blindly through passenger windows. All of that hot steel is steaming to ruin in the sun. The ripples of rising thermal heat distort my optics.

As I march north, I catch a skittering noise from an alley. My lamp illuminates about a hundred beady red eyes at two feet above ground level.

Sprinting now, I’m shifting up and still accelerating. The morats pour out of the alley behind me, a living tidal wave breaking around and over the abandoned autos. Their claws tear at the heated asphalt and they bound after me. Each is easily as large as a border collie. Their kangaroo-like hind legs make for awesome leaps, from the ground to a car’s roof, sometimes clearing smaller vehicles entirely.

The genetically modified little bastards appeared out of the sewers at rush hour and took the city’s gridlocked commuter population down in hours. For all of their vicious nature, they’re remarkably quiet on the hunt and bloody fast. My feet bang away at the sidewalk like a machine-gun, and my best speed is just a hair better than the swarm bounding after me.

I bounce hard off a mailbox with a clang, and use the momentum to vault over an empty Hyundai with a parkour turn to the east. My weight leaves a handprint in the Korean-made hood.

The spire of St. Christopher’s is only a quarter mile down the street. I risk a head check. The tsunami of morat flesh is growing steadily larger, new hungry teeth and red eyes join the hunt with every alley and sewer grating I pass.

That gap between the crashed semis is just too narrow. Desperate, I plant my feet with a clang and make the sheer eight foot vertical leap to the roof of the cab on the right, and scramble over.

In the church, I slam the steel shutters closed and ignore the sound of thousands of hungry morats banging against them. I have faith that my extensive modifications will keep the bastards out.

Climbing the stairs to the bell tower, I shake out of the backpack. Close, but my cargo is secure. My mainspring will definitely need a good, long winding after that pursuit.

“Puss puss puss.” While I pour the milk, a dozen furballs climb over my titanium feet, mewling. Big Mama climbs out of her nest and laps at her bowl with a seismic purr.

Mokittens are just too adorable.

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495 words. In response to Finish That Thought prompt 2-45.

Whoo hoo! Grand Champion winner, thanks lyssa!

This tale now has a prequel, “Careful What You Select For.”

I’m always chasing rainbows

“I don’t understand,” Doc said. “How could atmospheric conditions make you depressed?”

“There’s a rainbow over my house. It’s always there. The mountains block the air currents from the ocean. Tons of snow and mist, in the summer I have a rainbow.”

“Go on?”

“Happy little bluebirds fly over the rainbow, Doc. Dorothy wants to be somewhere over it. I had to live under it. There’s no way I can be happy here.”

“I still don’t see why?”

“It’s always overcast, every goddamned day. And Doc, don’t you remember your leprechaun stories? The pot of gold is at the end.”

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100 words. Inspired by this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

No image attribution.

 

My Papa’s best fishing yarn

Papa often took us punting along the shores of Lake Flathead. Spreading his tall tales and teaching my brother Jackson about fishing. “I found a dozen arrowheads under that hollow log just there. With an old scalp and two beaver pelts.”

“Really, Papa?” asked Emilia. Gullible as a newborn puppy, my youngest sister always had an unwavering faith in Papa.

Jackson was more skeptical. “Scalps? It’s not the Civil War.”

His “Honest Injun” poker face was how I could always tell when Papa was fibbing a little. At their ages I don’t think my siblings had caught on yet.

“Strike me down if it ain’t so,” Papa glibly lied. “We saw a big ol’ gator out there once, too.”

“There aren’t any gators in Montana.” Jackson was quite certain.

“Probably ain’t. But what’s that shadow under the water, just there?”

Jackson nearly fell out of the boat when the scaled back of the Spinosaurus broke the surface in the deepest part of the lake.

Papa laughed. “Guess it were mebbe a wee bigger’n a gator.”

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175 words. Inspired by this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers prompt:

© Ady

Pour some sugar on me

“Thank you for your patience, Mr. Morrison. You’ve been waiting quite a while, and I need to apologize. With so many to process, we’re a bit behind. I’m doing my best, but we’re understaffed right now, won’t you forgive me? Thank you.”

“Here comes the last bit, let me just hook up this hose. Turn this valve and voilà. Just what you needed sir, thick and syrupy, I’m sure you’ll be quite pleased. You’ll find it delightful, fruity, with just a hint of formaldehyde—our very finest vintage, sir, nothing but the best for you. Into your arteries, that’s right.”

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In response to this weed’s Friday Fictioneers prompt:

PHOTO PROMPT – © Madison Woods

Emerald

James examined the tiny grasshopper factory under the magnifying glass. It was several orders of magnitude larger than its nanobot builders, a naked-eye object.

“It’s beautiful,” breathed Sid.

The drone was a factory robot for making more nanobots. It was the aircraft carrier, in relation to the swarm of tiny ‘bot “planes.” It was home base, resource storage, production facility, mass transport, communications hub—and dozens of other functions.

Under the lamp, it refracted that light in a way that was astonishingly pretty (considering its industrial design). The drone included a great deal of synthetic emerald in its communications arrays, for lasers in a frequency range useful to interacting with the nanobots.

“It’s an elegant little bug; and self-replicating, as long as it has a sufficient source of raw materials,” said James. “It will make its own nanobots, and ‘child’ factories.”

“The code’s solid, as long as your engineering’s good. I can’t wait to see it work, fire it up?”

“Sure.” James pressed “Enter” on his keyboard.

For just one moment, the results were anticlimactic. Then the emerald bug leaped to Sid’s watch, and a swarm of invisible mites began to break it down into crystals, metals, and other raw materials.

The resultant Viridian Plague very nearly exterminated humankind on Earth. The Age of the Machines began at the watch’s last tick.

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223 words. In response to this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt:

Grasshopper on a wrist watch

 

Conspiracy Theory

“I didn’t know who she was, but she was definitely not my wife.”

“I can see why you might think about a shrink,” Will said, face carefully blank.

“Look, I wasn’t serious, okay?” Doug said. “I’m not crazy. I’ve been double-checking my sanity for weeks now, ‘Is this illusion, fantasy, psychosis, are you mental?’ The more I study her, the more firmly convinced I become. Something in her nature has fundamentally changed. I’m just not entirely sure what, or how, or why.”

“Well, that’s a good starting point.” Will set two glasses on the bar and poured scotch. “What did you notice first?”

“When you’re married as long as we’ve been, you get a feel. Cecily started listening to different music, more Angry Femme and less Country.”

“That’s hardly compelling evidence, Doug.”

Doug rolled his eyes. “Just wait. She’s wearing different clothes, like a different fashion sense entirely. She started wearing make-up. She’s essentially never done that. Humming, she hasn’t ever walked around humming. She’s got manicured nails—Cecily always said nails were bad for typing.”

“Her eyes are the same ‘bullshit brown’, her hair is the same dishwater blonde, she’s got the same smokin’ little body she’s always had. Nothing at all has changed, except these personality quirks. And they’re small changes that only someone living with her could detect, really.” Doug said.

Will considered Cecily through the picture window, gardening in the back yard. She was still the same as last week, far as he could tell. She always did have a great ass.

“You’re running out of options, Doug. This is a delusion, or Cecily’s having an affair. Mid-life crisis, do women get those?”

Doug scowled. “I’d considered that. But I believe it’s more sinister.”

“Sinister? Should I look up the number for that shrink?” Will laughed. “Conspiracy theories?”

“Laugh it up, fuzzball—evidence.” Doug brandished a business card.

Will turned the card over between his fingers and examined it. “Dwayne Orjado. Senior Service Rep. What the hell is Detroit Robotics?”

“They’ve got a web site.”

The website exuded fancy web technology, too. Splash pages featuring “Custom Domestic Robotics,” and sales-brochure marketing. Enough detail and images to sell that “scam” was unlikely.

“Certainly looks slick,” Will said. “I’ve never heard of these guys, have you? Wouldn’t there be publicity in technology news? The Wall Street Journal?”

Outside, two black vans squealed to a stop and men in dark suits poured out. They grabbed a screaming Cecily and hustled her through the front door and up the stairs. Will and Doug froze before the monitor as an army of corporate security waved stun guns at them.

“I am Dwayne Orjado, with Detroit Robotics. We’ll have to confiscate our faulty domestic robot for repairs,” said the army’s leader.

“What? You can’t have my wife!” Doug exclaimed.

“There’s some mistake. We’re not here for your wife, sir. We’re here for you.”

The maintenance boss fired a taser-like pistol that struck Doug high on the chest, and his systems crashed.

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499 words, Special Challenge Accepted. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (2-44).