Hot Rockin’ at World’s End: Dystopian Flash Fiction

Source: via Scribe's Cave, Picture Prompt #34

Source: via Scribe’s Cave, Picture Prompt #34.

Short lexicon to follow story.

 Hot Rockin’ at World’s End

Genre: Dystopian science fiction, literary fiction

Word Count: 296 (without lexicon)

Warning!! Harsh adult language & violence might not be suitable for younger readers.

Schrödinger’s Cat had rounded up enough interested parties—or,  more to the point, partiers—for one last, big bang-yer-head at the end of time. Sure, part of the lure had been the location. All the underground dead trees had shrieked in King Diamond font:

“Kewlest Party of ANY Century! DON’T MISS special guests Megaton Leviathan and Eddie’s Hammers, Dec. 31, 2099, Erasin’ Hell at the Mosh Room!”

WorldCits with special oc-imps did a slam dance at the prospect offered by the small type, in Britny Fox font of course, promising 37⁰C temps at partytime. “BC’s fridginest freakhouse,” it shrilled.

“But, the acoustics. Color me concerned,” singer and theremin player Blind Watchmaker complained to Schrö.

“It’ll be fine, bro’. Former colliders like the ‘Shroom have excellent sound capabilities, I’m told. Besides, everybody there will be so busy stonin’ and bonin’ . . .” Although he shit-grinned, consummate concert-promoter that he was, Schrö let his voice lose volume, as if the answer to Armageddon was always achingly obvious.

“And the poser was at least partly right,” Blind Watchmaker was to recount years later. “Desperate WCs did surface for the gig—droves of them—and the sounds were tight. I think if a person was outside in the withering Canadian sun at 10 a.m., he probably still woulda felt the music crunchin’,” he pointed at the dead-center of his chest, “about here, instead of hearin’ it.”

The truth was that nobody had anticipated literal carnage. Sardined in the metal musical box, leather on jeans on synfibes like Ex-Spand, ‘bangers were squashed underboot like long-haired lightning bugs. Either trampled or crushed against coils of chilled niobium tin, some 4,700 lost their lives for love of loudness.

And still, the new century dawned, a sunken sun under the skin of night.


BC: British Columbia, a Canadian province.

Dead trees: Something like the newspapers and tabloids of the 20th and early 21st centuries.

Oc-imps: Ocular implants.

Synfibes: Synthetic fibers (example: Ex-Spand).

WorldCits (thereafter, WCs): World citizens, as people of this dystopian future are called.

Written for Andreé’s weekly Scribe’s Cave photo challenge. Andreé’s own speculative fiction response to the prompt is here — and stay tuned, prose spelunkers, because her newest spec-fic book is due in November. I always love me a late-Halloween lit baby! And fellow metalfans, see if you can find all the 20th- and early 21st-century heavy-metal bands, songs, and other tropes.

Flash Fiction: Touching Up the Gray

Genre: Dystopian sci-fi, flash fiction

As you step into the room that’s purposefully drained of color, your skin shifts, tries to hide its roots from me.

I don’t believe it. It’s World Leader Sangre! Here? In my research lab! What could she possibly want? It’s certainly not the publicity.

“Lady Sangre, it’s a distinct honor to have you here. May I ask why you are paying me a visit on this of all days? Surely you know the daily forecast is dodgy at best.”

Brushing aside my faux empathy, she blundered on. “Skin-perfecting,” she tentatively pokes at the air to bring up the advertisement bubble’s catchphrase. Magazines had dozens of decades since liquidified into denizens of the air, summoned forth like Athena from Zeus’ headache at the stab of a finger, epithelium-covered, mech, or otherwise.

“Can you do the opposite or at least make me think you can?” She gestured at the Damarcadian model in the latest issue of Womens Underground Today slathering synthetic eagle-tail oil on her time-disfigured face. Her voice is pitched just below a whispered beg, but her eyes worry the air where the model’s transformation hangs its now mercurially beaming face.

Presumably seeing my hesitation (did my face slide back its screen?), she continues. “I just want to feel the . . . creature comforts of my own old cells again. Please.”

Flesh-bound idiot!

I must have wrinkled my otherwise perfectly structured nose (if I do say so myself), because she reached across the charged space for my synth-enclosed hands. Like most all of us these days, she was nano-small but her bristles drilled crude indents into me so effectively, I could almost call up a dim memory of what pain was.

“Surely you can reverse the process that you yourself pioneered! I can offer you anything you want in payment. Potable water. Access to drought-resistant agriculture. The latest and best unsullied air. The newest tunneling technology for your dominion. (Yawn. I’d rather have unfettered access to the seed and gene catalogs.)”

Still, I dithered. Could there be more riches she’s not mentioning, like safe transport—?”

“Any. Thing!” she interrupted with outstretched hands, palms tremulous, but up.

“It’s a deal,” I said at last, pulling the skull saw and forceps from the case as I eased into my sales spiel. “Here at YouGenics lab, the focus is on you and the traveler inside your head. But don’t worry, the brain re-wrinkling process is non-irritating, doesn’t abrade the nostrils too much, and is absolutely completely 100% reversible.  . . .”


A scene from a fantastic movie, Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."

This microfiction was partly inspired by a scene from a fantastic movie, Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil.” See it, if you haven’t already.


Monday Writing Markets, The Speculative Fiction Edition

Hic sunt dracones!

Three-headed Russian dragon

A three-headed Russian dragon (titled “Общины св. Евгении,” 1912) from Wikimedia Commons. Originally by Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin.

For those of us many years in arrears on our Latin studies, as I, this phrase is translated as “Here are dragons.” To date, this sentence has been found on a dyad of old globes.

Dragons perhaps best typify that crux of imagination and uncertainty. They are terrible and terrifying to some, powerful and majestic myth to others.

On that note, let’s get on the trail of some speculative-fiction writing markets, where I hope you’ll be able to chart your own course to creativity, complete with dragons or critics (or do I repeat myself?). As always, please read back issues of the publications themselves (where available) or subscribe to them; scour their pages or Web sites to see what work they like to publish; do your own research on the market(s); and, if you decide to submit, marry yourself to their submission guidelines or calls for queries.

  1. Even if you’ve never personally made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs, if you write science fiction (or fantasy), Parsec might be just the venue for you. Their latest short story contest, with a theme of “parch,” seeks stories from the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. “Stories must be original, unpublished, unsold and no more than 3500 words in length,” and can be submitted only by non-professional writers, whom they define as “those who have not met eligibility requirements for SFWA or equivalent: sale of a novel or sale of 3 stories to a large circulation publication.” Deadline is April 30, so throw on that wingéd thinking cap!
  2. Try it before it’s gone (time travel notwithstanding): Kazka Press has an unthemed SFF (“sci-fi, fantasy, horror, or related sub-genres”) writing contest, called 713 flash fiction after a previous incarnation of a 713-word count, whose deadline is April 20 and, the month after that, nil.Sadly, this speculative fiction competition is closing after April 2014, so get to work on your as-yet-unpublished short story between 500 and 1,000 words. They note that “If you’re selected as a winner of our monthly contest, we’ll purchase First Worldwide Electronic Rights from you for $15, regardless of word count.”
  3. And now, at last armageddon (translation: I’ma gettin’) to this week’s last market. Do you have a disturbing apocalyptic potboiler of a manuscript? Then Dystopia Press might be just the place for your chiseled wordcraftery. DP publishes “post apocalyptic (what happens after the world/civilization collapses) and dystopian (what happens after the world/society veers off in some disturbing direction) trade paperback novels.” If you have an 80,000- to 100,000-word unpublished manuscript, consider working up a synopsis and sending them the first 50 double-spaced pages of the edited manuscript. Submissions are managed free via the online service Submittable. Read complete submission details here.

Happy wordcrafting, fellow spec-fic-ionados!