The Interview – Friday Fictioneers

I am a bit late to this week’s gathering of the Friday Fictioneers, a community of writers who contribute a 100-word story based on a photo prompt.

Thanks to our gracious host Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and to Shaktiki Sharma for this week’s cool photo.

Ahem…I went over just a tad. I had a hard time ending it….

PHOTO PROMPT © Shaktiki Sharma

Sci-Fi (106 words)

The Interview

Addison fell into the hot seat.

Across from her, Gemma sat with her feet and knees touching. She held no resume. None was requested and Addison hadn’t sent one at such short notice.

Basking in a glow of stillness, Gemma resembled a touched photograph, except for her lashes which moved like the wings of a butterfly in slow-motion flight.

Addison formed words to questions she didn’t hear. Voices echoed. Something about data analysis.

“I studied philosophy,” Addison stated.

“How is it that you know you’re here, Addison?”

Addison jolted upright. “I don’t.” But then she knew that she did. Her insides hurt, raked and combed through.

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A Light Caress – Friday Fictioneers

Thanks to Rochelle for hosting and for a wonderful year of leading this group. Thank you, thank you!!

Thanks also to Roger Bultot for contributing his photo for this week’s prompt. I just love diner stories.

A little sci-fi/romance this week. Sure, why not? Hope you can make sense of this.

And good news…this just happens to be my 500th post!!

diner-roger-bultot
Photo Prompt © Roger Bultot

(Sci-Fi/Romance: 103 words)

A Light Caress

His head felt foggy. Patrons shoveled food in their mouths and didn’t look up from their plates.

“More coffee?” The waitress was already tipping her pot.

Jake nudged the cup toward her and dropped a dollar on the counter.

She grabbed it instantly. He’d never seen a waitress so desperate for a single dollar bill, only she look displeased by the whole thing.

“What did I do?”

“This don’t work here. Your scan?” The waitress turned over his arm. “You need to go.”

Jake wandered the barren street, thinking only of the waitress and her light caress. He had to see her again.

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A bit of a Charlie Brown tree this year (long story), but still shining bright with a little love and some lights. 🙂

christmastree2016

Wishing everyone safe and happy holidays!!

The X-Files Re-Opened

Tonight the X-Files, the science fiction, supernatural series created by Chris Carter, returns to television on the Fox channel. That’s right. The X-Files will be re-opened. The show aired from September 10, 1993, to May 19, 2002, spanning nine seasons and 202 episodes.

In case you hadn’t noticed, my blog name has always been a kind of spin on this beloved show. The return of the show inspired me to create a new header in celebration. My mermaid is now underwater. I hope you can tell.  

Back in the day, I was a huge fan. I even went to an X-File convention. Yes, I did that! It was in San Diego and there I saw Alex Krycek (Nicolas Lea), FBI Assistant Director Walter Sergei Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and last, but certainly not least, the genetic mutant serial killer aka Eugene Victor Tooms(Doug Hutchison), you know the guy who could squeeze his bones into sewer pipes. Remember him? He was sitting casually in a breakroom or something. I couldn’t believe the monster was before me. And Krycek? He was smoking hot! I had an extreme crush on him after that convention, eagerly awaiting each episode, hoping to see him once again.

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Alex Krycek, infected with the black oil. Image source: x-files.wikia.com.

The X-Files so inspired me, I even purchased a script at the convention, the first in my possession. Yeah, I was a little geeky about this. This was my Star Wars without the light saber. My Friday nights were built around catching the latest episode of the X-Files and nothing could ever interfere with that, an era when you waited for new episodes and nothing was leaked about them; social media didn’t even exist. Can you imagine?

Fox Mulder (David Duchovnyand Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) were so green. I felt like I was a part of something fresh. I had never seen either of them before and you felt like you, too, were a part of these moments they were experiencing for the first time. They had an edgy, natural chemistry. I mean were they ever going to have sex or what? They kept you guessing. The writing was inventive and intriguing, the stories spooky fun and strange, leaving you with the feeling something could be lurking around you or crawling under your skin.

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Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Are you guys even attracted to each other? Image source: observationdeck.kinja.com.

Admittedly, by the end of the series, I felt pretty twisted and turned around with each episode, and had more questions than answers. The movie which later came out, ignored all these questions with no answers in sight, but rather spawned more and more questions. Now, it’s more of a blur than ever. These questions still cling to my subconscious:

  • Whatever was that black oil coming out of their eyes and why did it have to come out of Krycek’s eyes?
  • More importantly, will Mulder ever learn what happened to his sister? Will he reunite with her? On a different planet perhaps?
  • What happened to Mulder and Scully’s son? What a minute, was it their baby?
  • Did the Cigarette Smoking Man light a cigar for Scully and her baby?
  • Are the super soldiers alien hybrids?
  • Are The Lone Gunmen still alive? Do they still believe?
  • Will Mulder and Scully still whip out those cool flashlights?
  • Did Skinner retire from the FBI and flee to a deserted island? Will Skinner be in a good mood?
  • Are the Anasazi Indians the missing link?  Maybe they can commune in the tent again and sweat out all the answers.

I’ve read there are 16 answers we must have from the 6 episodes scheduled to air. In all the pre-hype, I learned that the original theme was based on the How Soon Is Now song from The Smiths. Who knew? Chris Carter requested that  Mark Snow, the show’s music man, come up with something with jangling guitar and the iconic theme song was born! And now, a new theme song will emerge with these new episodes. Reviews have called these new episodes a little overstuffed and devoid of all their previous charm, leaving new watchers wondering what all the fuss was about. I’m just thrilled they’re back. 

As for me, my decision to discontinue cable prevents me from watching tonight’s episode. What?! Perhaps I will wander into a Best Buy searching for a new TV and just accidentally turn to the Fox channel. Or just maybe I’ll binge-watch previous seasons. That could be a whole new experience. Just maybe I could put the pieces together better, not having to wait so long in between. The silver lining is I can watch all these shows with my kids. We watched one episode and they wanted to see the next! Now that is something I could never have predicted. Watching the X-Files with my kids, while new episodes are waiting in the wings. It’s golden.

Aside

Have you ever felt that you needed a life coach? Not someone to help with the fancy decisions in life, but the day-to-day tasks such as eating, getting dressed, organizing your to-do list. Your life coach would sit by you, patient, forgiving, non-judging. S/he/it would watch you closely, let you make choices first. As it watched, it might say, “Uh huh,” or “No, no.” In counseling you to make a better choice, it would then usher you to a nice, comfortable chair and tell you, “I recommend you revise your decision.”

I guess my life coach has turned into an “it.” Actually, I think a robot would be a fair choice. No emotional baggage, it would deliver just the facts. The voice would be soothing though and feel soft enough that you might give it a hug, physically soft like a pet. Well, that could be an option. It would mostly be helpful, and if you didn’t like what it had to say, you could just turn it off. In appearance, it would be pleasant like its voice, but you could throw it away or stuff it in the closet if you got tired of it.

If you were whiling away the day, procrastinating, wasting time, making poor choices, it could buzz you, like your phone, but more present, and give your gentle reminders like:

You should be writing now.

Don’t forget to call your mother.

Why don’t you read a book instead of binge watching House of Cards?

They would understand you, but still offer the best advice. It would be a conscience that you can see and touch, and unlike your conscience, you could put it away.

You might say, don’t we already have this? We have a conscience we wrestle with all the time, anytime, day or night. Sure, but sometimes your conscience is not enough; it doesn’t have good sense and is easily distracted. This is flip-the-on-switch answers and the right answers. Well, only if you want them.

You could get this from humans, but let’s face it, can they really give you their undivided attention? And let’s be honest. Isn’t their advice usually predicated on their experience or by what their conscience tells them? Is this really what you want to hear? Your conscience is not same as theirs.

You could assign your Life Coach Robot moods: small talk, philosophical, flirty, friend, motherly/fatherly, straight talk, tough talk.

Traveling, on-the-go, or maybe you’re just stepping out for a bit, you can download your Life Coach Robot. There’s an App for that.

So, do you want one? Let’s assume it works like a charm, no complications and you can afford it. It would never take over your real identity or stand in for you. There would be a switch for that, a kind of temperature gauge. You’d have complete control.

It’s your Life Coach at your fingertips. Should I sign you up? Are you creeped out? I want a decision either way. Please let me know in the comments, and if you would so be kind, an explanation. I’ll be working in my garage all day, so let me you know if you want one.

photo credit: IMGP5485 via photopin (license)

Life Coach, Anyone?

Aside

Genre: Apocalyptic (103 words)

Dancing Orbs

The observatories lined the hillside like a strand of shining bulbs on a Christmas tree. Their orchestral mirrors probed the skies to deliver bewildering images beyond explanation. Certainly they must have answers about the icy dust covering the planet.

The two dotted figures slogged through the snow, dragging their icicle brick feet up the mountain. They plunged ahead, transfixed by the glow of dancing orbs.

They were greeted with smiles and then doors slammed behind them.

“Our volunteers have arrived,” a man whisked them down a hallway.

“Wait. No.”

“Congratulations. You’ve been selected to save the human race.”

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This prompt was for the Friday Fictioneers weekly challenge, where a group of writers across the globe write a 100-word story based on a photo.

I apologize for my lateness, but I will admit that this prompt really stumped me. I gave it a go anyway! I’m not that pleased with my story, but here it is.

All are welcome to participate. If you are interested, join in!

Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting and to Doug MacIlroy for this amazing photo.

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Dancing Orbs – Friday Fictioneers

What the World Needs Now is Phenomenal Customer Service

What the world needs now is phenomenal customer service.

Of course, this implies we have customer service to begin with. Scratch that. What the World Needs Now is ANY Customer Service. With the increase of personal debt, the need has never been greater.

Recently, I helped my mother with her creditors in a proactive effort to handle her debt. My mother had suffered a fall and subsequent delusions, so I gladly stepped in. Even though I was somewhat removed from her financial situation since it was not my debt, the process of actually talking to someone was emotionally exhausting.

As I made phone call after phone call, I thought to myself, we spend some of life’s most miserable moments waiting to talk to a human on the other end of the line. We go through endless prompts, punching in numbers, the sixteen-digit account number, the last four social, zip code, phone number, address, etc,…only to repeat the exact set of information to a live human after an often agonizing wait. Why? Why do we this?

It’s to break us down, to make us feel powerless. That’s why.

I know it’s for security purposes, but there must be a better way. Shouldn’t all this technology eliminate steps, not add them, and make the process more efficient? Ha!

It didn’t used to be this way. Remember when you could simply dial and talk to a live person? For those of you who have never experienced this, it’s a real thing that used to happen. A problem could be handled swiftly. They would ask for your name first, not a number.

They certainly wouldn’t question you if you wanted to cancel something. I mistakenly got cable a few months back. I was swindled. This lady kept me on the line, talked my head off, promised me several “gift cards,” so the cost of signing up was nil; it would all balance out. I broke, I agreed. Of course, in the end, the ONE CHANNEL I wanted was NOT in my package.

After cashing in the gifts, I put in an email to cancel. They charged us for the next month anyway. Apparently, the way it works is that you need to give a verbal cancel to process the electronic cancel. I couldn’t talk to anyone again, so my loving husband assumed the task of canceling, which took over an hour. I felt truly terrible. It was all my fault!

I wouldn’t be surprised if wedding vows soon incorporate a non-cable clause:

Do you solemnly swear to never subscribe to cable for so long as you both shall live?

I do.

Somehow, wanting to go back to the simple phone call with a human feels like I’m balking the progress of technology. It seems to be written in the stars that we will have a relationship with robots. Science fiction promises we will, and most everything in sci-fi comes true, right? I’m all for sci-fi dreams coming true via Star Trek:

Computer: Fix me a roast beef sandwich and delete all my email messages.

It seems we wouldn’t be too far from that email request, but the one big hurdle for robots seems to be intelligence. I listened to a NPR interview recently where I learned that a robot is really not bright enough to differentiate trash from critical information. Thus, the menial task of cleaning a desk is an impossible request for a robot.

Siri, my lovely, seems to be unavailable when I need her most. She’s “unable to take requests right now.” Really? Is she doing her nails? Talking to SKYNET, hmm?

In the meantime, I know that I don’t like talking to the tinny voice of a robot calling and pretending he’s human. Do you know this call? I hang up immediately, thinking I’m not talking to this voice that makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Seeing all the robots join forces at Amazon for the big holiday rush ($775 million dollars worth of robots) makes me shudder. Just a bit.

Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider
Kiva robots ready and waiting. Photo source: Business Insider

 

Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP
Robots at work. Photo Credit: Brandon Bailey/AP

Does this make me anti-technology? Is the gap of humans coexisting with robots too preliminary to even care. They’re not very smart. Yet. Personally, I think we should keep it that way. Even Stephen Hawking, one of our finest minds, voices caution. You know, the singularity is near.

But this begs the question, how stupid is useless? It’s a conundrum. If they are too stupid, we have no need for them.

We could have lots of jobs in customer service, bring them all back. There could be the possibility of service with a smile on the other end of the line. The possibility at least.

I know one thing. If Amazon sends you the wrong gift this holiday season, it could be the robot’s fault.

photo credit: plαdys via photopin cc

Origins – Friday Fictioneers

Origins 

The Saltbacks rarely left Deep Trench, unable to risk the mud on their skins or the bright light in their eyes. Their helmets depressurized the air, and they fell onto the land dazed and trembling.

Rumors flourished that the MudBorne, indigenous to the land, lived as savages in the toxins and ate visiting Saltbacks.

Days passed, and the Saltbacks saw no life. When their clothes became muddied, they disrobed. Craving the thinness of the air, they shielded their skin with mud and walked into the forest.

And so, a new generation was born. They called themselves the MudSalts.

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I want to say thanks for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for her dedication and time, and to B.W. Beacham for the photo.

I’m not sure what inspired my story this week. Feel free to laugh with me or at me, or you can laugh at my story, too. Isn’t it so remarkable that 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored? Stop to think about that one.

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Genre: Sci-Fi/Humor (98 words)

Copyright – B.W. Beacham