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August 2, 2016

Flash Fiction Challenge – The Vacation

Filed under: flash fiction challenge — Tags: , — Eva Therese @ 6:18 pm

Flash Fiction Challenge as always courtesy of Chuck Wendig and can be found here. I’ve just been on vacation, but have already forgotten what it feels like, so here’s a story about people working so that other people can a nice vacation.

Picture the Titanic, the largest ship on the waves in its time and one of the most famous of all times. Picture a private cabin, furnished with all the luxuries that money could buy in the beginning of the 20th century. Now picture two elegant young women in the cabin. It’s not theirs, but they know with absolute certainty, that the occupants will not be back for several hours and therefore they can use it to get ready.

”I just think it’s kinda weird, is all,” said Julia defensive. She straightened a sleeve that didn’t need straightening and brushed away a nonexistent speck of dust, before continuing. “Tourists visiting the site of the most famous maritime disaster ever. Partying with lot of people who’ll all die. It’s ghoulish, if you ask me.”

Liza frowned. “It doesn’t matter what period the tourists go back to. The people they meet will inevitable be dead when they go back to their own time.”

“Yeah, but at least most of them will have lived full lives. Here you meet a bunch of people who all had their lives cut short.”

“Actually a lot of the first class passengers survive. Most of the dead were among the third class passengers and nobody meets them on this tour,” Liza replied, sounding perhaps more pedantic than she intended. She sighed. “Look, you shouldn’t talk like that. The wrong person overhears it and suddenly someone might think that you’re planning to … you know,” she lowered her voice, even though they were alone, “change things.”

“I didn’t even want to be here,” answered Julia with a hint of a sulk. “I was perfectly happy showing people around England during the Napoleonic Wars. My specialty was Jane Austen, you know,” she added wistfully. “Then suddenly we get word that the ban on Titanic as a destination has been lifted, the tourists are clamoring to go there and everyone who knows enough about manners to take off their gloves when eating are relegated to tour guides there.”

Liza leaned against a wall. “I know how you feel. My area of expertise is the roaring twenties. I can’t wait for 2020 to roll around so we can finally start to take people on tours there. Until that happens, I just have to take whatever I can get. You think the Titanic is in bad taste, you should try doing a tour of Jack The Ripper’s Whitechapel; leading around tourists so they can gawk at dead prostitutes.”

“Do you think when we get to 2018, that they’ll start doing tours of World War One?” asked Julia.

“The council has already said that they won’t allow it,” replied Liza.

“Yeah, but they allow people to go to the Napoleonic War. Like, not just the time period, they actually go to the battlefields. And except for the technology and the numbers, there’s really no difference between one war and the other.”

“They won’t,” said Liza firmly. “Then they would have to legalize travel to World War Two when that time comes and no-one wants that.”

“I hope you’re right. It’s so frustrating, you know. We have this wonderful technology, this gift. We can go to any point in history, see any marvel that has ever existed and tourists want to see death and destruction.”

“This is why we can’t have nice things,” said Liza with an ironic smile. She wanted to add something more, but just then a message buzzed in her ear-piece, which was artfully disguised as an earring.

“One minute. Stand by,” said a voice.

“We’re ready,” said Julia and made another last-minute adjustment of something which didn’t need adjusting. She looked over at Liza, who was still leaning against the wall and reached a decision. Now, before courage failed her.

“Liza?” she said, and the other woman straightened up and looked at her. “You know …” She was talking faster now, the words spilling out of her. “I also think the twenties is a really interesting period and maybe you don’t have to wait until 2020 to go. I mean, if you send in an application to go there for research purposes.”

Liza looked thoughtful for a moment, but then she shook her head. “They only give those permits to real historians and I’m a tourist-guide.”

“Yeah, but my cousin is on the board. Maybe I can put in a word for you. Because I’d really like to go as well. With you. I’d like to go to with you.”

“With me?”

“If you want to, of course. You can go alone. Or with someone else. If there’s someone else you’d rather go with.” I’m babbling, she thought and managed to shut herself up. She looked at Liza with eyes that she hoped was less puppy-dog-like than she felt.

Liza smiled and opened her mouth, but never got around to speaking, because in that moment, there was a shimmering in the air in the middle of the cabin and the first tourists started coming through. “We’ll talk later,” she just said and then walked forward to great the first of the arrivals.

Julia felt her stomach flutter. The future, her personal future, suddenly seemed brighter.


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