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March 20, 2014

Flash Fiction Challenge – SomethingPunk

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , , , — Eva Therese @ 6:06 pm

This weeks challenge from the lovely and beardy Chuck Wendig is ‘SomethingPunk’. Please, see here for an explanation of what the heck that is supposed to mean.
I then chose to cheat I bit. The description specified a ‘new SomethingPunk’ world. but I thought that this tied in really nicely with a world I had already invented. So this is me writing PsionPunk (or possibly OrichalcumPunk or maybe both). The story works as a sequel to this Flash Fiction Challenge but if I’ve done my work properly, it should be possible to read this without having read the other.

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When I was six, my father started working for the Company, flying raw Orichalcum. He left me behind as a guarantee that he wouldn’t try to abscond with the load. I remember the night before he left. I had been fed and given new clothes and I was lying in a soft bed in a small dormitory with seven other children. My father tucked me in and then he told me about all about the airships and how every trip would be an adventure. He would come back as a rich man and we would have a house to live in. I remember some of the other children looking at us, listening, as if he was their father as well. He sat with me and stroked my hair until I fell asleep. When I awoke, he was gone.

It was some time later, maybe a few months, that I first witnessed the two men come for one of the children, a boy named Ami. All the children from the different dormitories were gathered in the playground, there were about a hundred of us, but they walked straight up to Ami. We all stopped playing and watched Ami and the two men. They talked to him, too low for us to hear and he was nodded shyly. Then all three of them walked out of the playground and slowly we all went back to what we had been doing before the interruption.
This was the last time any of us saw Ami. At dinner-time of the girls from his dormitory, named Tinnaf, said that she had been back there and all his things were gone.
“So,” someone – I don’t remember who – said, “his father must have come back for him.”
Everyone nodded.
“But, he didn’t even say goodbye to me,” insisted Tinnaf. “Why wouldn’t they let him say goodbye?”
There were some mutterings at this, but I didn’t care. I hadn’t really known Ami and I didn’t like Tinnaf. I thought the most likely explanation was that he simply hadn’t cared as much about her as she seemed to think.

 Still, I couldn’t help being a little bothered by what had happened, so when I had finished eating, I sought out the caretaker. He was a very old man, named Briar, with a crooked leg, which meant that he had to use a walking stick. He was very kind, even though he tried to be stern with us and I liked him a lot.
When I came to see him, he was in the workshed, mending a broken toy wagon. I put some more coal on the fire, since the evening was chilly and got a grunt of thanks from him. I climbed onto his workbench and sat there with my legs dangling over the edge.
“Briar,” I said, “what happened to Ami? The men came and took him and now his things have gone.”
“He’s moved out,” Briar said, not looking up from his work. Then I heard his voice in my head. “He’s dead. Dead. Can’t let her know.”
“Dead?” I repeated confused.
There was a small ‘thonk’ as Briar dropped the wagon. He turned to look at me. “Dead? Why would you say such a thing? Who told you that?”
Even in my confused state, this struck me as unreasonable and unfair. “You did. You just said he was dead.”
He just stared at me. Then I heard his voice again in my head, even though his lips were not moving. “Did I say it out loud? She can’t know. What will they do to her if they know?”
“Who are they?” I asked. I was getting uneasy.
He looked at me as if he had never seen a creature like me in all his life. Then he grabbed my shoulders. “Don’t tell anyone. You can’t let anyone know, about any of this. Do you understand?”
I didn’t. I still nodded.
This seemed to make him relax just a bit and he let go of me. “FRun along with you. And remember, not a word to anyone.”

I didn’t tell anyone, but the next time I saw the two men coming for a child, it made me feel sick and I didn’t look at them, afraid to draw their attention.
Then one day, maybe two months later, they came again and this time they walked straight up to me.
“Aisha,” one of them said, speaking softly, so the other children wouldn’t hear. “I want you to come with me.”
I wanted to scream or cry or run away. But none of the other children had done this and I was dimly aware, that if I did it, they would realize that I knew something. And I had promised Briar I wouldn’t tell anyone. So I just nodded and followed them out of the playground.
The door in the wall had just slammed shut behind us, when Briar came hobbling up to one of the men and grabbed his arm.
“Wait!” he said. “Don’t kill her!”
The man shook him off impatiently. The other made a face. “Briar, we’ve been over this. And honestly, if you can’t …”
“But she’s different,” Briar interrupted, pointing at me, as if there could be any doubt who he meant. “She’s a telepath. The Company will want her alive.”
The man looked at him incredulously. “Are you sure?”
“Nah, he’s making this up to save the girl,” said the other man.
The first man ignored him and just looked from Briar to me and back to Briar. “You know what will happen if it turns out you’re lying?”
Briar nodded. “I know. But it’s the truth. She read my mind one day, clear as if I’d spoken my thoughts out loud.”
“Hm.” The man looked at me. “If it’s true, she’ll belong to the Company, body and mind. Not sure that’s a fate I’d wish for anyone.”
“At least she’ll be alive,” replied Briar.

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1 Comment »

  1. Oooh… scary! I’ll check out your other orichalcum-linked story sometime 🙂 My orichalcum miners might just meet your airship haulers sometime!

    Comment by Jemima Pett — March 20, 2014 @ 11:36 pm


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