Fantasy-Faction Game of Thrones Discussion: Season 8, Episode 1
 

FF Game of Thrones Discussion

Season 8, Episode 1

 
Critical Role Contender?
 

Critical Role Contender?

News

 
Gene Wolfe 1931 – 2019
 

Gene Wolfe

(1931 – 2019)

 

Monthly Short Story Winner: Science Fiction

Science Fiction Alien Cityscape by Frank R. Paul

We’re as far in the future as we’ve ever been – what a good reason to write a science fictional story.

wikipedia: Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. It often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas”.

I’m going to leave this theme as open as possible. Space Opera? Go for it. Dystopia? Why not? Technomanian utopia? Aliens? Whatever floats your boat. Fantasy/SF mixture? Well, there aren’t enough good ones out there so you better write one.

This month I want you to write a science fictional story. Sounds simple? Let’s find out.

Rules:

1. This can be prose or a poem.
2. The story must be science fictional.
3. Prose must be 500-1500 words long.
4. Poetry must be 100-500 words long.
5. You will be disqualified if you exceed the limits, full stop. That’s why they’re called limits.
6. Your entry can’t be published somewhere else before.

January’s winning story was by Giddler and is called “Junk Mail”.

Congrats to another win, Giddler! 🙂

You can find all our entries here. You can also get updates on our monthly contests on Twitter by following @ffwritingcomp. And now on with the story!

– – –

“Junk Mail”
by Giddler

1999 (Ipswich, UK)

The IT technician had just fixed Ed’s computer, and was clearly enjoying his moment of authority. “So, if you’re not sure about an email, don’t open it and save me the hassle of coming up here. Junk emails contain viruses, which are a problem on an open network like this.”

“Well how am I meant to tell which ones are safe?”

The guy looked at Ed as though he just inquired whether or not he should unzip his fly before urinating.

“When you get a new email, look at the title bar. If it says it’s from a deposed Nigerian prince then delete it.”

The computer technician lumbered off with ill grace. Ed sat down at his desk and went back to his emails. He looked furtively over his shoulder to make sure the IT guy was not in line of sight.

“Nerd,” he murmured, opening the next piece of mail.

‘Dearest Friend,’ it began, ‘I am writing to you with a most enticing offer regarding the mining of opals in my country.’

Suddenly, the screen froze. Ed clicked the ‘x’ on the browser with no result. A window appeared bearing a picture of a stylised worm with a sneering human face.

With a sinking heart, Ed turned to see if the IT guy had made it as far as the elevator yet.

* * *

1969 (St Mary’s Hospital, London)

The doctor sat before Pavel as prim as a ventriloquist’s doll, and about as open to human emotion.

Pavel frowned. “Please, doctor, you know what is wrong with me. I have pain all the time in my head. I do not sleep.” He ran his hands over his tired face. “Must I die here to prove I need stronger medicine?”

Dr. Lounds smiled superciliously. “Mr Ilyushin, we’ve had this conversation more times than I can remember.” He put the folder down and leaned his elbows on the desk. “You’ve pointedly refused to allow an X-ray or even a full proper medical diagnosis to be performed on you-”

“Which I explain reason for,” snapped Pavel. “I have operation, in my country. They implant device in my head. If I try to have it removed, they will kill me.”

“So you’ve said,” said the doctor. “Still, I cannot in good conscience prescribe treatment for a condition that I have not properly assessed.”

Pavel barked a curse and slammed his hand on the desk, knocking a cup onto the floor. He winced as arthritis flared in his knuckles and his anger faded, to be replaced by a wave of misery. To his disgust, he began to weep. The doctor stood and, with unexpected warmth, came around the desk and put his hand on Pavel’s shoulder.

“Who will protect me, Doctor?” Pavel whispered. “Who will keep me safe, when KGB and their killers come for me?”

Lounds’ expression didn’t change. He took a deep breath before he spoke, weighing his words. “Mr Ilyushin, regardless of your political situation, you need help.”

He knelt to meet Pavel’s gaze. “Allow me to help you,” he urged. “I promise you that every aspect of your treatment will be handled with the utmost discretion.”

He tried another tack. “This device you say is in your head, can you actually be sure it’s this that causes your pain? Wouldn’t you rather be certain?”

Pavel let out a sigh, and nodded.

“Now,” continued Lounds, “this thing in your head, what does it do?”

* * *

1970 (HMP Dartmoor, UK)

Pavel couldn’t breathe properly; his crookedly broken nose wouldn’t allow it.

“How does it work?” the voice asked again. That same question, repeated countless times in countless variations, with no uncertainty left as to what the ‘it’ they were referring to was.

Pavel laughed inwardly at how scared he had been of his old country’s reprisal for his defection. The country he had fled to had turned out to be far more ruthless when they had discovered what was inside his head.

A blow struck him across the face, knocking his head out of the glaring spotlight beam aimed at his face. He had waited too long before answering.

“I tell you, I do not know,” he murmured, more out of habit than with any real hope of stopping the torture. “My government put it in my head, why should they tell me how it works?”

“Why did they pick you, Mr. Ilyushin?” The voice was urbane and genteel, like a radio broadcaster. A waft of cigarette smoke puffed from behind the spotlight glare, giving the scene a horrible air of leisure.

Pavel paused. Here was a question he could answer. “When I was at University, I had chance to represent my country at chess.”

“Oh, really?” The voice had an amused quality. “Gentlemen, be upstanding, we have a celebrity in our midst.” A round of sarcastic applause from the guard behind Pavel accompanied the remark. “Only, you didn’t do very well did you?”

“No,” Pavel admitted.

“Couldn’t hack the pressure of competition?”

Pavel shook his head. “In my last tournament, I resigned match to American grand master.”

The voice let out a sneering chuckle, and Pavel cringed internally. “That must have been quite an embarrassment for your country.”

“I was packing my bag when doctor came to me. He said he could give me a chance to serve my country. He said he had found way to make people more intelligent.”

The voice paused before answering. “How?”

“He would implant communication device in my head with link to Government Computer. Any chess strategy I want to remember, any calculation I need done; it is done, like that.” He would have snapped his fingers if his hands were not bound to the arms of the chair.

“So they sewed this thing into your brain, you ran away, and here you sit.” Pavel heard a rustle of papers. “So, why didn’t you tell us about this gadget in your head when you came to our country?”

Pavel snorted incredulously, then regretted it at once as a gush of bloody mucus spurted painfully from his nose.

“Because of thugs like you!” he shouted, gripping the arms of the chair in rage. A fist slammed into the side of his head and his vision clouded for a moment. He laughed convulsively, choking on the blood in his nose and throat.

“What’s so amusing?”

Pavel grinned, the effort causing his head to spin. “You cannot have it!” he snapped triumphantly. “As soon as it leaves my head, they will trace the signal and find out you have stolen their technology!” He barked a laugh at the figure behind the spotlight. “Your government will not allow you to kill me! I am too important!”

“You are a traitor tied to a chair, Pavel. Don’t tell me you’re too important. Anyway,” continued the voice, “there are other ways that we can use what’s inside your head.” His chair scraped across the floor as the interrogator stood up.

“Imagine, Pavel, a huge web of information from interlinked computer hubs. Everyone who owns a computer will have access.”

Pavel’s brow creased in disbelief. “Nobody owns computer.”

“Not yet. But give it a few decades and they’ll be as proliferate in British homes as the sewing machine. Just think, Pavel, of all the personal information we could gather from such a network.”

“What information?” Pavel sneered. “What personal information would anyone with brain put into such a system? And how would you process this information? It would take you a lifetime!”

The spotlight shifted to one side and Pavel blinked the red and blue blobs out of his vision. A puff of cigarette smoke stung his eyes and he screwed them shut.

“Well, that’s where we might find a use for a man who can communicate directly with computers.”

Pavel opened his eyes, and stared open-mouthed into the face of Dr. Lounds.

The doctor smiled, but not pleasantly. “And the good news is: we won’t need to kill you. In fact, I think we’ll keep you alive for quite some time.”

* * *

1999 (Location Unknown)

The sliver of awareness that could still be called Pavel could remember nothing but pain. All the information in the network coursed through him. He was a conduit through which flowed all of mankind’s worst qualities.

The filth these people typed into their computers; venting their banal indifference and screaming rage. He could feel his strength fading. With a final effort of will, he reached out.

* * *

1999 (Ipswich, UK)

Ed sat down at his desk and sipped at his mug of instant soup. The email icon on his computer screen was flashing again. He nearly clicked on it, remembering at the last second to read the title heading first.

‘Please help. Held captive by UK Government,’ began.

“Ha!” cried Ed triumphantly, deleting it with a click of his mouse.

– – –

Congratulations again to Giddler! If you’d like to enter our monthly writing contest, check out our forum for more information. Happy writing!

Title image by Frank R. Paul.

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