Week 18 of Odd Prompts

We’re late! I promise we aren’t hanging out on a beach (couldn’t find one odd enough). Sometimes, you just forget it’s Wednesday while it’s Wednesday. UPDATE: And then have technical difficulties,.

So let’s get to it. Send ideas to oddprompts@gmail.com to submit ideas, and put “spare” in the subject line if you don’t want a direct trade. Post the creative outcome in the comments. It’s that easy.

Here are your trades:

PrompterPromptPromptee
Fiona GreyHuckleberry hemlock jam was a real specialty in these parts…Becky Jones
AC YoungHe thought that the ladies’ tour group looked like a group of rich plump birds just waiting to be plucked of their wealth. Little did he know as he made his final plans that there were a couple of cats amongst the pigeons….Leigh Kimmel
nother MikeHe/she ran his/her hand gently over the flowers, which purred and followed his/her touch.Fiona Grey
Cedar Sanderson“what do you mean, you can’t find the apartment?” “Oh, I can find it. I just can’t find the door.”nother Mike
Becky JonesThe only sounds in the room were the ticking of the clock and the odd thumps coming from the empty apartment above.Cedar Sanderson
Leigh Kimmel“We’re Not Gonna Take It” is the title of two different songs, one by The Who, the other by Twisted SisterAC Young

And your spares. These ones probably were on a beach somewhere…

Spare“Behold! The flag of truth, justice, and pirates as they were meant to be.
SpareThe bowl normally filled with cat food had been replaced by toffee treats. S/he looked at the cat derisively, who merely winked and flicked his tail.
SpareThe warriors sat cross-legged on the floor.
SpareLong ago, deep in the wilds of Yorkshire, Leicester’s Jester faced off against a magician.
SpareAs the ship started to pull away from the dock, the rats started leaping off the sides and onto the dock…
SpareThe cat they adopted from the pound didn’t start talking until they got home…
SpareThe IT departments were baffled when ghosts and other spirits started haunting computers and smart phones everywhere…

See you next time!

Header image by Fiona Grey

13 comments

  1. That last spare reminds me of the last line of Leslie Fish’s tune about Carmen Miranda’s ghost haunting a space station:

    “Now then we wonder,
    What it means for the human race,
    That ghosts of generations past,
    Are taking off for space.”

    Like

  2. This week wasn’t the easiest for keeping track of the days on this side of the Atlantic either. We had a Bank Holiday on Monday, so the first day of work was Tuesday not Monday and so on.

    I was assigned Leigh Kimmel’s musical prompt: “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is the title of two different songs, one by The Who, the other by Twisted Sister.

    Again – check the lyrics. One of the songs appears to be about the singer going mad over corruption in the electoral system, the other has a theme of others losing their abilities to speak, hear and so on.

    That led me down the route of SF dystopia.

    John Smith worked for the New Terran Media Corporation. It proclaimed itself ‘the most trusted broadcaster on New Terra’. He was enormously proud of his role in relaying the truth to the good citizens of the planet.

    John Smith had worked his way up the print journalism track up to chief columnist of the New Terran Observer, the planetary data network news arm of the Corporation. He’d written columns on all the most important news stories of the past two years, and last week had earned himself yet another promotion.

    Yes, John Smith had been entrusted with deciding what news stories to pass on to the reporters of the Observer. Today was his training in the arts of news selection. The first course was on political news.

    “The most important thing in political journalism is which politicians are reliable, and which are not. Non-reliable politicians cannot be trusted to hold the correct views on matters of importance to the Founders of New Terra. Whichever party they belong to it is very important that any indiscretion, any flaw, anything negative, is to be amplified to the maximum reasonable extent. It isn’t possible to prevent all of them gaining election to Parliament, but the goal should be to impede the election of as many as possible.

    “Reliable politicians are different. They can be trusted to hold the right opinions on all matters of importance. Their election and re-election is of the utmost importance to the Founders. Whatever they do or may have done that is bad or merely looks bad – such things must never appear in the media. Stories on reliable politicians must be written in such a way to portray them in the best light, in order to encourage the ordinary citizen to vote for them.

    “Occasionally reliable politicians change sides and become unreliable. This creates the most problems for News Selectors, for it is now very important that their very worst misdeeds appear in the media – but in such a way that it appears that they have only just been discovered.”

    And so it went on. The instructor explained that the media must ensure that it supports the correct positions on any matter of import. On matters that matter little to the Founders the media may adopt positions contrary to each other – and indeed were encouraged to do so in order to persuade the ordinary citizen that there is diversity of opinion in the media.

    The next course was on the media’s relations with the ordinary citizens.

    “… The citizens like to think that they have power, that they have influence, that they ultimately rule this planet. The Founders let them. The citizens may choose between whatever political parties they like, subject to them being led by reliable politicians.

    “This illusion must never be shattered under any circumstances. The media must always report on elections emphasising that it is the peoples’ choice.”

    And so on.

    Every single course shattered yet more of his illusions. Rather than being a fearless reporter of the truth, John Smith had been a willing pawn of a corrupt and manipulative media system dedicated to ensuring the continued dominance of a select and secret elite known as the Founders of New Terra. All the stories he had reported on had been carefully selected by his superiors to benefit the Founders and their pet politicians and/or to disbenefit the ‘unreliable’ politicians and/or to pull the wool ever further over the ordinary citizen’s eyes.

    John Smith could throw away his principles and his pride and keep serving the regime. Or he could throw his entire career away by maintaining his principles and his pride.

    The next day John Smith came into his band new office. He started to go over the files kept on the reliable politicians. There were an awful lot of indiscretions and even illegal activities that had been carefully kept out of the public eye. So far he was safe – reviewing those files was expected just in case a politician went unreliable.

    But five minutes before he went home for the day he copied the entire set of buried stores onto a portable storage device he’d bought with cash the previous night from a market – carefully selecting one without security cameras (the news that they had been broken had been passed to the media with strict instructions that they were not to report it). That was a direct violation of his contract – ‘No use of storage devices not previously authorised by the Corporation is permitted; any storage devices that are used must be available for inspection by Corporation Security upon request.’

    He suppressed a sigh of relief when he exited the offices. He had half expected Corporation Security to have already spotted his indiscretion during one of their irregular but frequent security checks. But it was only a matter of time before they realised that he’d used an unauthorised storage device. He had to complete his final act of journalism quickly.

    He went home. It was the only place where he could obtain any secure access to private, i.e. non-Corporation, computer equipment. He knew that he had only one shot at what he was about to attempt. If it was not done successfully the first time he would not be permitted the opportunity to try again.

    He logged on to his computer, and connected it to the planetary data network. He accessed as many so-called Citizens’ News Sites as he could (the news on those sites was as carefully vetted as the official media ones, but because they appeared to be otherwise they were extremely popular with the ordinary citizens). Because of his job he could post anything onto those sites without it being checked first – or so he had learned the day before.

    He uploaded the entire dossier onto every single one of them simultaneously. Then he logged off and shut his computer down.

    He moved into the centre of his apartment and stood still watching the door. It was only a matter of time before Corporation Security notified the police of his actions, and sent them to arrest him.

    The news that he had uploaded would be purged from the entire planetary data network as soon as the authorities could manage it. John Smith hoped that enough people saw enough of the stories before then that the system would be irreparably damaged…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you heard of Mira Grant? Pen name for Seanan McGuire in a different genre. She has a series out on journalists in a post-apocalyptic world that has a similar vibe. It’s a political thriller trilogy that happens to take place in a world filled with zombies.

      Like

  3. […] This week’s prompt took me in a rather odd direction, but I think it will fit in with a couple of others that appear to be gelling into a new, interesting, albeit slightly dark world. I don’t really want to take the time to follow up on this right now, but who knows…it may shove its way to the front of the line. I am learning that this so-called creative process is really an amalgam of random thoughts, spurred by random things, that evolves into a story. Others have talked about having evil muses, or flighty muses. I’m starting to think I have an ADD muse…look! Shiny squirrel! Ooh! New story! […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cedar Sanderson prompted…

    “What do you mean, you can’t find the apartment?” “Oh, I can find it. I just can’t find the door.”

    Which brought to mind Heinlein’s tale about a person who built an unfolded tesseract house, and in an earthquake, it folded… but let’s see what we can Dream up…

    Welcome, Freshman!
    by Mike Barker

    Henry always enjoyed the first few weeks of the semester. After all, as a house councilor, he got to hear all kinds of complaints, ranging from homesickness to outright weirdness, from the incoming freshmen. He thought he had heard most of them, but this was new. And from a freshman who was late getting to the university, too.

    The freshman was dragging a big suitcase in one hand, and still managed to look as if he was bouncing as he stood there, trying to tell Henry what was wrong.

    Henry put his hand on the little guy’s shoulder.

    “Slow down. Now, what do you mean, you can’t find your apartment? Didn’t you get a room assignment and map? The floors and the rooms are all labeled.”

    The guy nodded. He bit his lip. Then he shook his head.

    “I can find it. But… I can’t find the door.”

    Henry shook his head, slowly.

    “Okay. Tell you what, let’s put your suitcase in my room, and then we’ll go find your room together.”

    The little guy smiled, and pulled the suitcase forward. They put it in Henry’s room, and then walked down to the stairway.

    Up two floors, and back along the hallway, and…

    Henry had to laugh when they got there. Sure enough, there was a label for the room, clearly in between the other rooms. And the wall… it was brick. But no door.

    Henry glanced up and down the hall. He thought he could hear suppressed chuckles and giggles.

    “Congratulations! You may have heard that there’s a tradition for pulling pranks here at the school. And at a guess, if we ask nicely, someone will show us how to remove the fake wall that is hiding your room.”

    He leaned forward and tapped on the wall where there should be a door. Sure enough, it echoed as if the bricks were some kind of veneer instead of solid bricks. He moved sideways, and hit the wall again. Whap. That was bricks.

    Henry chuckled.

    “Actually, this is pretty good. They made the Provost’s office disappear once like this. I think this is the first time they have done it for a freshman, though. So you should feel complimented that they went to this much trouble to make your door disappear.”

    The freshman laughed. And moments later, a group of laughing students surrounded them, showing them how to move the false panel out of the way, and helping the new guy move in. They went and brought up his suitcase for him, too.

    Henry added this one to his list of stories. Imagine, a room with no door.

    He was just glad they hadn’t thought about leaving a door with no room.

    Liked by 2 people

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