Bottled Up [Drabble]

He walked to the window, pushed open a chink in the blinds.

Nothing.

He took a swig from the bottle. The cheap gin should’ve burned on the way down, but he barely felt it.

His nerves were shot, and he was just waiting for the rest of him to catch up.

They were coming.

He fingered the safety on the pistol strapped to his hip. He kept it on him at all times.

He walked to the window.

Nothing.

Swig.

He paced across the room that was fast becoming a cell.

He walked to the window.

They were here.

Finally.

[100 words]

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Life Beater

[A dystopian feminist flash fiction story. Need more intro than that? OK. Thoughts?]

Life Beater

All her life Elizabeth dreamed of being a wife. What could be easier than being kept comfortably in a nice home, with your only responsibilities making a handsome man happy? After school she’d bake and sew. She polished and knitted. Her fellow schoolgirls didn’t see the appeal. They were headstrong, tomboys, playing baseball in the dirt and learning to code in the lab. She took no notice of them. They wouldn’t find a nice husband.

In college, she studied English—why not?— and made friends with plenty of fine young men. They loved coming over to hers for freshly-baked cookies, or asking her advice on laundry disasters. She helped them all and politely waited for their advances. None came. Her old classmate, Rebecca, who now called herself Red—what kind of name is that for a woman?— worked on robotics and patented her first household helper. She named it Lizzie and told Elizabeth it was based on her. Elizabeth took no notice of her, silly girl.

She met Chase, and knew he was the one. He was tall, handsome, an economics professor. Perfect. Theirs was a whirlwind romance, he proposed impulsively and she couldn’t refuse. They made wedding plans and the talk turned to the future, after her graduation. ‘What will you do?’ he asked. ‘I’ll be your wife, of course,’ was her reply. Chase laughed. He showed her his own Lizzie robot, how it cooked and cleaned and mended his clothes. ‘What’s your back-up plan?’ he asked. Elizabeth said nothing.

[What’s that? They’re getting shorter? Yeah, my client did have a rough word count, which I massively exceeded with the first two, and trimming them down made me sad…]

Girl Power

[Another dystopian feminist flash fiction story. See Fallow Lands for slightly more detail. 2/5]

Girl Power

She could feel her dream slipping away as she lay on the stretcher, taking deep breaths like the paramedic had told her to. She could still hear the roar of the crowd as the ambulance pulled away from the stadium.

Today was meant to be, had been, momentous—the latest in the whirlwind of firsts that was her life. The story had begun 25 years ago, when geneticists discovered a microscopic kink at the end of the X chromosome. Straightened out, they theorised, it would enhance the physical prowess of the human race. Women stood to gain more, with the male Y chromosome apparently kink-free.

Of course her parents, progressive as ever, had been among the very first to sign up. She smiled at the thought of them, then winced as a fresh wave of pain ran through her. Nine months after treatment, and just five years after the initial discovery, they’d given birth to Valerie. They’d picked a Latin name meaning ‘strong and brave’. Prophetic.

It had been clear from early in her life that Valerie was different, though her exceptional drive and intellect came from her parents anyway. Despite her academic prowess, her parents, and her father in particular, had always encouraged her sporty side, being ever available to kick or throw in the back yard. Looking back, it was obvious he was testing the geneticists’ hypothesis.

They were right. Of all the sports she excelled at, soccer was the one that stuck. She was running rungs around her peers, male and female, by age seven, and she turned pro at fourteen. Her US national team debut followed later that year, with everyone in the know predicting a bright future for her.

They had no idea how bright. At just over six foot, and with a muscular, yet feminine frame, her speed and power made her simply too good for the women’s game. She dominated matches with ease, and had soon—too soon— won everything there was to win, so she asked to play with the men. They said no, predictably, and the world was split between ridiculing her and defending her.

And then the Italian Football Federation said yes.

When Sampdoria signed her, the world spoke again, the move written off on social media as a publicity stunt. The nation’s cameras nevertheless turned out in force for her first training session with the club’s under 18s. She took them to pieces.

The world’s press assembled for her first match with the reserves. She scored five goals.

Despite calls for her immediate promotion to the first team, she was sent on a short-term loan to a second division side.

“The world’s not quite ready for you, strong one, but score a few more and they will be,” her manager had told her.

And so to today, her professional debut in the men’s game. She’d won over her teammates in training and had her new manager’s faith—it was only the opposition that couldn’t believe her.

Her debut lasted eleven minutes. Her every touch was cheered and jeered in equal measure by the split opinions in the stands. The opposition fullback had stamped on her and called her a whore. She’d nutmegged him twice the next time she got the ball, and as she’d turned back to face him again, a grin on her face, he’d lunged in and snapped her tibia in two.

Dream Lessons: #21 – (Par)take a chance

[Awful pun. Truly sorry. Shout out to my fave mobile game Microgolf Masters, which doubtless inspired this.]

Lesson #21

It’s always worth a free punt at a golf tournament in a shopping mall, on the off-chance you hit a stunning shot and make the quarter finals!

Dream Lessons: #20 – Back to the grind

[Yay, the dream lessons are back! More to learn, less sense to make!]

Lesson #20

If you turn up back at your old job after a year away to do one day a week while continuing to live the dream, chances are no one will know what to do with you, and apparently, your recently-graduated mate will now be the Ministry of Defence’s go-to programming expert when dumb work experience kids need coding help.

 

Fallow Lands

[Hi again! Been a while, sorry about that… it’s amazing how quickly three months can go by when you’re giving yourself lots of holidays! Anyway, I’m totally back, probably. Here’s a piece I wrote as part of a recent job, where a poet commissioned a bunch of dystopian feminist flash fiction stories that he’ll then turn into sonnets. Just a normal job, hey? Happily, he said I was fine to share them here too, so enjoy! This is the first of five]

Fallow Lands

As soon as her husband closed the door, she fetched the stepladder, moved the armchair, pulled the hatch down, and clambered into the loft again. He wouldn’t be home until 15:00—she had hours!

She gingerly opened the box and lifted out the first book: ‘The Magic of Motherhood’. It was her favourite—everyone in it looked so real, not at all like the models you saw on the adverts, smooth skin stretched to bursting. These were real women, normal women. Women like her.

Paul would be furious if he knew what she was thinking, fantasizing about. There was no way they could afford a pregnancy. Even after the population had stabilised and HealthCo slashed the prices, pregnancies remained the pastime of the elite. Oh, to feel that incredible feeling of another life growing inside her! She pulled the book close to her chest, gently stroked its cover, whispered words of comfort to it, and to herself.

“Paul,” she breathed to the dead air of the attic, to the ghostly workbenches covered in sheets, “why can’t I have a child?” She knew exactly how he’d react. Sensible, pragmatic Paul.

Come now, you don’t want to be a part of the problem, honey! Pregnancies are just a celeb fad, a moneymaking scheme. Look at the trouble overpopulation caused,” he’d say with a tired smile.

He’d tap the terminal around her wrist, gently reminding her how lucky she was to be a registered citizen, not one of the ‘wanderers’, unregistered, on the streets, and free game for the militia that ‘kept the peace’. The same terminal, through two microscopic pins on its underside, kept her dosed up with enough hormones to make pregnancy impossible.

She noticed she was crying and stood up quickly, ashamed. The movement caused a sheet to slip from the nearest workbench—Paul had been quite the handyman when they first married. The jaws of a vice glinted at her.

Several minutes of exertion later, her mangled terminal fell from her wrist. With lecherous wanderers on every corner, she could be pregnant within the hour! She hurried down the stepladder to find something revealing to wear, ‘The Magic of Motherhood’ left discarded on the floor.

 

[What do you think? Exploring feminist issues in a dystopian setting, amiright?]