Jul 092015
 

Happy Thursday. Ready to write? First an announcement:

After this round we’ll be voting for our favourite stories from MB1.27 to MB1.39. If you haven’t been a winner yet, this is your last roll of the dice for this quarter. Good luck!

Six degrees of separation is a theory first put forward in 1929 by Austrian author Frigyes Karinthy, that everyone in the world is connected to each other through six or fewer ‘friend of a friend’ connections. The theory was first published in Karinthy’s short story, Chain-Links, where the characters propose an experiment:

We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth – anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.

By far the most important (read fun) application of the theory is the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, where the aim is to connect any movie actor to Kevin Bacon (who celebrated his 57th birthday yesterday) with as few connections as possible. Julie Andrews, for example, has a Bacon Number of 2:

  1. Julie Andrews and Steve Carell appeared in Despicable Me.
  2. Steve Carell and Kevin Bacon appeared in Crazy, Stupid, Love

Even Google have joined in. Enter any actors name followed by ‘bacon number’ and it returns the shortest connection. Try it, it’s fun. And very addictive. Bacon has said that he initially disliked the game as he thought it was mocking him, but he has since embraced it and has launched the charity, SixDegrees.org, described as social networking with a social conscience.

Let’s wish Kevin Bacon a very happy (and belated) birthday with this week’s photo prompt:

Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

Photo Credit: Tekniska museet via CC.

The Judge

Judging this week’s contest is Iskandar Haggarty, winner of MB1.38. Read his winning story and what he has to say about flash fiction here.

What?

A story of between 90 and 110 words starting with SIX and ending with DEGREES and incorporating the photo prompt.

Who?

Anyone, but especially you!

Why?

Why not! Because it’s fun. Because it’s a challenge. Because the winner will receive their own winner’s page, their story on the winning stories list, a ‘Who is the author?’ feature to be posted next week, entry into the ‘Micro Bookend of the Year’ competition, and a copy of this year’s winning stories compilation.

When?

Now! Get your entry in BEFORE 5:00 am Friday (UK time: http://time.is/London).

Where?

Here!

How?

Post your story in the comments section. Include the word count and your Twitter username (if you’re Twitterized). Don’t forget to read the full rules before submitting your story.

Anything else?

Please give your story a title. It will not be included in the word count.

Please try to leave comments on a couple of other stories. It’s all part of the fun, and everyone likes feedback!

Remember, only stories that use the bookends exactly as supplied (punctuation, including hyphens and apostrophes, is allowed) will be eligible to win.

  169 Responses to “Micro Bookends 1.39 – SIX [micro] DEGREES”

  1. Name: @dazmb
    Words: 110

    Title: 32 High Holborn

    “Six One One, Finchley. Connecting you now.” That was the code. Her stomach clenched as she transferred the jack into the red socket.

    ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’ played quietly on the radio.

    At school, she’d learned history as country pitted against country; lists of battles; movements of troops, individual tales of valour. But, deep in this bunker, she knew history was happening and it was nothing more than electrical currents communicating and recording the desires of men.

    On impulse she connected a second jack. She’d get sacked, but the temptation was too much.

    Heart racing, she scribbled down the last of the conversation.

    “North 22.13.0 degrees, West 81.10.0 degrees”

    • Sorry David – one day I will post a submission without error, but for now please can you replace the word ‘pin’ in the first line with the word ‘jack’?

    • I love this! It really speaks of the time and I like the anarchic spirit.

    • I’ve tried a little research on it but havent come up with anything concrete. Cold War? Cuban Missile Crisis? Beautifully written as usual. Seamless and clever use of the bookends.

    • Great story. I too have researched a bit but could only find that 32 High Holborn was intended as a deep shelter but ended up being used as a government communications centre. The song points to World War 2 but you’ve stumped me on coordinates, perhaps D-day landing or Dunkirk?

    • The coordinates are the Bay of Pigs…my old man’s a dustman was the no1 single in the UK at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. There was rumoured to be a hot line between the U.S. and Soviet Union routed through the kingsway exchange. I loved the contrast between the two most powerful men in the world dancing round the threat of nuclear war while back in Blighty a song about a humble bin man was top of the charts!

    • Fantastic Daz! Loved every word in this and so evocative of the time period. Well done and great use of the bookends.

  2. 66666
    (110 words)

    6 gossips are all it took to ruin my life.
    The first one, a switchboard operator, started the rumor – a vicious lie.
    Number two repeated it to number three.
    Number three posted it online to 6 million Twitter friends.
    Number four published an article.
    Number five broadcast it on the evening news.
    Number 6 came after me, not to silence the rumor, they intended to silence me.
    Repeated denials fell on deaf ears, the lie had taken on a life of its own.
    Knowing that life’s not fair somehow didn’t console me.
    6 friends couldn’t help.
    When blowing hot or cold, my life suddenly registered a chilling 6 degrees.

    • Love the pace.

    • It doesn’t take much these days with modern communications. The bright side is usually that another story trots along to capture the short attention spans that have developed so hopefully her sufferings would soon be forgotten.

    • Great pacing and I’m DYING to know what the secret lie is! 🙂

      • Thanks, Pattyann. They took a photograph that caught something it shouldn’t. The lie was that the photo had been doctored. The photo got more attention because of the lie. The people in the photo who knew it was true tried to silence the photographer so the lie that the picture was doctored would stand and not the truth that the picture captured.

  3. “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” (110 words)

    “Six one one four – Operator. How may I direct your call?”

    [garble]

    “Pardon me sir, or ma’am, could you please repeat yourself?”

    [garble]… “fire”…[garble]

    “Ok, ma’am, you’re going to have to slow down and speak more clearly, ok?”

    [garble]… “flames”…[garble]… “smoke.”

    “Am I to understand that your house is on fire?”

    [garble]… “no”…[garble]… “dog”…[garble]… “hot.”

    “Your dog is on fire?”

    [garble]… “food”…[garble]… “smoke”…[garble]… “sausage.”

    “You hotdog is on fire?”

    [garble]… “smells”…[garble]… “bacon.”

    “Am I to understand you’re burning your bar-b-que, ma’am?

    [garble]… “yes!”

    “Well then why don’t you just lower the heat a few degrees?”

  4. Twitter: @AvLaidlaw
    Word count:107

    Degrees, Minutes and Seconds

    Six hours to go. Six hours in a squeaky chair, waiting for the auto-dialler to connect.

    The first hangs up.

    The second swears and hangs up. I’m used to that now. Six months of eight hour shifts. I calculate how many hours in total – to stop my mind disintegrating into a soup of insanity – but somebody answers.
    I read the script. She sounds old. Good. The old ones are lonely and keep talking.

    She hangs up. The auto-dialler moves on. I glance at the clock, the minute hand inching around its face. Five hours fifty-five minutes to freedom. I’m getting there by small degrees.

    • Great story. The mind numbing misery of it.

    • Really well written. I feel the pain! ‘soup of insanity’ – excellent.

    • I hate these auto-diallers but you’ve made me feel sorry for the person at the other end!

    • Having once worked in ‘Collections’ I can wholeheartedly relate! What misery watching those hands slowly circle. Great story.

  5. name: @dazmb
    words: 110

    title: late night conversation of the long married

    Six minutes past midnight.

    When she says believes in the art of conversation, what she really means is that you listen while she practises her oratory skills.

    I mean, I love her, I really do, but she has that slightly demented look in her eye and there is no end in sight.
    I gently stroke her calf with my foot, ‘mmm…what a nightmare.’

    Silence.

    Time to pull out the Hong Kong Phooey.

    “Hallo, hallo, where’s my Rosemary, the telephone operator, the lovely lassie, with the classy chassis?”
    She laughs, relaxes, ‘So you’ll sort it out?’

    “Completely.”

    “Thanks. I love you”

    “Good. Now let’s turn the passion up a few degrees…”

  6. @maiblack42

    105 words

    Hairpins and Hurricanes

    Six ladies work at the telephone exchange. It is a cover.

    Third from the left, with the green, horn-rimmed glasses, is Doris. She does the weather – hurricanes, earthquakes, rainbows.

    Marjory, with the faux pearl hairpin and sensible heels, is in charge of plants and animals.

    Sally and Megan Catchpole (sisters, quarrelsome ) are responsible for the continuing enlightenment of mankind.

    Golden-haired Penelope has sworn to protect the world’s oceans and Dolly is the boss.

    She’s the oldest by a billion years and she’s had enough. With a brief nod to her esteemed colleagues, she twists the dial for the earth’s axis another seven degrees.

  7. The Switch

    ‘Six is on hold.’
    Disconnecting, I connect. My cheeks no longer reddening at the scarlet words I send out in red hot lines across the city.

    ‘Nine is on hold.’
    My voice is familiar in rooms I’ve never seen; rooms that had sunnier aspects once.

    ‘Eleven is on hold.’
    As my lips form the obscene shapes of another’s strange desires, I fake listen to their response so as not to wince at their intimacy.

    My voice used. I clock-off, the tic talk stopped, I fall into silence. I won’t speak now until I am here again, dying by degrees.

    100 words
    @elaine173marie

  8. Career Path

    “Six minutes to go.”

    “Please—”

    “Let’s start with your Associates’. Business?”

    “Yes. Why—”

    “What’s with the ballroom dance classes?”

    “For exercise. Please let me—”

    “Then a Bachelor’s. Literature? Was that wise?”

    “I love books. Could—”

    “Your parents were disappointed?”

    “My parents are always disappointed. I don’t—”

    “Hmm. Next: a Master’s in Chemistry? Major shift.”

    “I craved certainty. If you’d—”

    “A PhD in Infectious Diseases.”

    “Yes, like a fool I thought to save the world. Look, if you’ll let me go—”

    “Sorry, Doctor. Just four minutes until we start. Your parents would be proud; I’ve found a very interesting use for all your degrees.”

    110 words
    @postupak

    Inspired by Poe’sCask of Amontillado ; the switchboard operators made me think of a university’s call center and the number of students who change degree plans. I’m betting this guy wishes he hadn’t.

    • Thinking something nasty is about to be inflicted upon the world at large – and the worse would be the ballroom dancing!

    • Love how the story moves through dialogue alone! Great writing Rebekah. 🙂

  9. CHRIS AND MIKE vs DEPARTMENT MOLES

    Brian S Creek
    104 words
    @BrianSCreek
    #FlashDog

    “Six,” whispered Chris.

    Mike looked again, through the crack in the door, “Are you sure?”

    “Of course I am,” he replied. “Six of ‘em aren’t human?”

    “Only one way to find out,” said Detective Jo. “Wait here.” She entered the office quietly, keeping her presence from the workers who were lined up at their consoles. She reached the first woman, raised a water pistol to the back of her head, and pulled the trigger. The woman raised her hand to now wet hair.

    Further down, six ‘women’ stood up and ran.

    Jo set after them.

    “See,” said Chris. “I’m smart even without any degrees.”

  10. @fs_iver
    WC: 110

    Earth-bound Soul

    Six had moon-yellow hair and aspirations. Not the pulmonary kind – though she often choked on water. Her aspirations involved being Earth-bound, owning a turntable, and planting a zucchini garden.

    Such a versatile vegetable! She could sauté it with butter, toss it into a stir fry, grill it with lemon alongside razorback bacon.

    Everyone else wanted the stars. Not Six. Sure her inner contrarian strengthened gravity but it was more than that.

    Ten years she’d given to TransDimensional Carriers, connecting people across time and dimensions. Couldn’t she let herself connect? To dirt, sunlight, and strains of La Mer?

    “Six, your wires!”

    Enough.

    Impulsively, Six plugged in Earth’s dimension and degrees.

  11. Seventh Hope
    @hollygeely
    110 words

    Six planets out of seven were useless. The fourth was closest, but upon landing, the natives had sent them packing. Jessie wasn’t about to argue with man-sized cockroaches (at least not now that the government insisted on peaceful contact).

    The seventh planet had promise. The long line of scientists at the control panel buzzed with excitement while they processed the data. The planet had water, breathable atmosphere, etc. etc.

    Jessie took a seat beside Betty and scanned the monitor everyone ignored.

    “This is the one,” Betty said. “Our last hope is a success.”

    “I don’t think so, Betty.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because the temperature of the water is a million degrees.”

  12. Drive
    (108 words)

    “Six p.m.,” Laurel whispered fervently. She switched to her professional voice. “Operator.”
    “Six p.m.,” Helen echoed.
    Mrs. Wilcox frowned when they rushed out at shift’s end.
    Five; they had an hour. Still, they were flawless when the sleek car arrived. This was their fairytale: handsome millionaires rescue telephone operators from dull lives and deliver them into high society—with jewelry.
    In the car after dinner, to Helen’s horror, Laurel confessed their fantasy, finishing “When are we off to the mansion with the pool?”
    Helen realized they’d driven to the docks, a bad part of town. Laurel’s date smiled, stroking her jaw, and said, “We’ll get there, by degrees.”

    @Emi_Livingstone

  13. Numbers Up
    (100 words)

    Six is a lonelier number than one. Especially since she started with four siblings and two parents, and was now the only survivor. She hated when the phone rang.
    Brrrring . . . Older brother dead in a car crash at twenty-seven.
    Brrrring . . . Older sister shot by her abusive husband at thirty-five.
    Brrrring . . . Baby brother dead of a medical misdiagnosis at forty-nine.
    Brrrring . . . The mother who deserted them dead alone and friendless in a home.
    Brrrring . . . Father dead at eighty-eight, after a miserable life.
    At sixty-two she’s all that’s left.
    Brrrring . . . She hated when the phone rang, ticking away her life by degrees.

  14. @PattyannMc
    WC: 110

    Six is a Jinx

    Six. The number plagues me. It’s a fucking jinx. Born on June 6 in ʼ66, I’m guessing a good day for my parents, but who could’ve foretold what was coming.

    My brother was six years older than I was when he boarded the #6 train with my father at 6:06 heading to Center City. By 6:36, they were dead.

    The fault of the operators. No one applied brakes to the rusted tracks. Joey flew through a faulty door; the train got him. Word is he lay in six pieces on the tracks, two arms, legs, head and torso, soldered to the rails.

    Those fucking tracks baked him at 600 degrees.

  15. @firdausp
    (110 words)
    Wired
    “Six minutes! We have six minutes to evacuate the building,” the chief shouted.
    Chaos ensued in the communication centre.

    Unattended buzzing continued…
    “Hi honey…”
    “Hello! I’m calling…”
    “May I speak to…”
    “Namastey…”
    “Never call…”
    “Mom! It’s me…”
    “I have nothing more to…”
    “Oh my god…”
    “Gracias Senor…”
    “Where the hell…”
    “Congratulations…”
    “Bonjour Madam…”
    “Hey! Whatsup…”
    “I’ll pick you…”

    He lay quietly, hidden from view. The cacophony of voices was driving him crazy. He had promised six minutes. He’d give them three. The sound of rushing feet had faded.

    He pressed the button.

    The explosion ripped through the building in a white heat, sending the temperature soaring over a thousand degrees!

  16. Twitter:@AvLaidlaw
    Word count: 105

    Title: Newtonian Mechanics For Beginners

    Six seconds of lateral thrust.

    A mist billows out of the communication satellite’s thrusters, freezes in the vacuum and sparkles in the sunlight.

    The satellite turns but out here there is no reference and it appears that the infinite stars rotate around it.

    The window is narrow, one degree out of position and the radio link with Earth will be broken.

    It is cold here, and silent.

    It is majestic.

    The satellite locks into place.

    The communication channels open. The operators flick switches on their control boards. Every television channel, radio broadcast and telephone conversation floods through the satellite.

    The satellite rotates another two degrees.

  17. The Infernal Call Centre

    110 words

    @el_Stevie
    #FlashDogs

    “Six, six, six,” trilled the operator. “Please hold the line while I connect you. We are currently experiencing a high volume of traffic but your suffering is important to us.”

    Hello.

    “I’m sorry, sir. Please hold, your suffering is important to us.”

    A scream at the other end of the phone. Faint whispers, “Hell …. hell …

    “Hell? Why yes sir, you have reached Hell’s dedicated hotline. Please select the required circle from our menu otherwise to speak to a devil’s advocate, please hold.”

    The caller presses seven. Another scream is heard.

    “Mary, dear, he selected the Seventh Circle. Would you mind increasing the Phlegethon’s temperature by a few degrees?”

  18. the birth
    (w/c 107)
    @koebnig

    Six pounds.
    Ninety-six ounces.
    So delicate. So fragile.
    Perfect in every way but one …
    ‘Don’t worry. Everything’ll be fine.’
    ‘Are you sure?’
    He nods. ‘Look at her. Even now as she nurses it, she’s beginning to understand. She’s already focussing on its survival.’
    ‘And him?’
    They watch him carefully approach the hospital bed. They have no idea he’s wearing a concealed dagger or what he intends to do with it.
    ‘He’ll learn. And once he’s had time to adjust, he’ll make an adequate sacrifice.’
    ‘And the temperature? It needs …’
    ‘It’s all taken care of. Master’s crypt will be kept at the required number of degrees.’

  19. @stellakateT
    #FlashDogs

    109 words

    Blue Stockings

    Six feet or six miles it didn’t matter, she felt the separation keenly. She’d stood behind them for years, listening to their chatter, shuddering at the shoddiness in their delivery of the King’s English. She supervised with a firm hand.

    Each evening she would relate the tales to her mother whilst boiling up cheap meat and mashing potatoes for their tea. Mother would shake her head pleased her daughter hadn’t gone the way of some of those hussies, dancing with American soldiers just to get stockings and chocolate. Pleased her daughter had taken that nice job at the telephone exchange and turned down Girton, whatever next giving girls’ degrees!

    • I feel sorry for her living in her mother’s shadow; I hope one day she does gout out with those ‘hussies’ and has some fun.

  20. Wrong Number (104 words)

    “Six eleven three thirteen… putting you through now!”

    Margaret jabbed the plug into the socket, glancing over her shoulder at the clock on the wall. Just ten minutes to go. Six hundred seconds and counting.

    The phone rang again and she immediately picked up the handset, not even giving it chance to ring a second time. “Hello caller,” she said, pushing an errant strand of hair back behind her ear. “You’ve reached central switchboard. What can I do to help you please?” The disembodied voice yammered in her ear, his pitch rising as he grew more aggrieved, his manner eroding her patience by degrees.

    • I can completely sense her detachment from her job, the irritation with the caller. You can hear the clock ticking and know that as soon as her time is up she’s out that door – caller still on the line or not!

  21. @PattyannMc
    WC: 110

    The Lesson

    Six loaves of bread patiently sit on the warming tray as they gently rise, slowly puffing up like a Jiffy Pop foil. The air heavily perfumed with the pungency of yeast, as loving hands gently turn the loaves, greasing the dough. The operator punches down in the center, frustrations released, and a smile graces mom’s face. She winks.

    She works hard baking goodies for her family’s enjoyment, while I watch through my child’s eyes, my mouth juicy.

    She explains how the yeast does this; the sugar does that, teaching as she bakes.

    Her most important lesson – hard work can be creative and delicious, she takes pride in her Science degrees.

    • Oh this brings it back, those times with your mum, licking out the bowl when baking cakes, the smells from the kitchen. Love it.

      • Thank you Steph. Used to love watching mom bake goodies for us, and I always got to lick the bowl! 🙂

  22. Getting There

    Six pondered, brow puckered above dark eyebrows. “Seven’s down now,” he said eventually, looking up, eyes focusing, a hand in his unkempt hair. “Don’t want to be meeting my One. Guess it’ll be another Other, odds are. Two to One, I’ll bet? Sums it up, doesn’t it?”

    Six looked around the predominantly empty room, gaze shifting quickly. “Took me a bit to add it all up,” he said, “but I’ve figured it now. Totally.” Six paused. “We talked before he went, you know,” he said, smiling momentarily; eyes solemn.

    Six hugged his bony frame, pacing. “Subtract us, one from the other – or we’ll multiply.” Six was getting there by degrees.

    @FallIntoFiction

    (110 words

  23. Word Count: 142
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Extras

    Six lights all in a row with six plugs in a column beneath them. Marlena watched, dumbfounded as her supervisor sat at the ancient box, connecting calls without even glancing at the connectors. She simply did the job.

    Marlena knew there was no way she was going to learn to do this, not in time.

    “Take a deep breath,” Philis, her supervisor told her. “Its not something you do all at once. The people walking through here aren’t going to know if you know what you’re doing. You just need to pick up the call talk and make a connection.”

    “But what if I…”

    “Start with the first set of six. If they call cut, start back at one. Just keep the pace.”

    “I don’t want to mess this up…”

    “You can’t. You aren’t running a marathon yet. You learn by degrees.”

    • Thank goodness for sensible supervisors! Terrible being the new employee, being rushed through training and expected to get on with it.

  24. Spontaneity by numbers
    @geofflepard 109words
    ‘Six senses?’
    ‘Of course, it’s still at the experimental stage but we felt we needed to up our offer, given the competition.’
    ‘But is intuiting a good idea in a robot…?’
    ‘…Hu-maid.’
    ‘In a Hu-maid?’
    ‘Knowing your every need before you’re even aware of it yourself? Surely that is everyone’s dream? Your bath run, your meal cooked, your car at the door…’
    ‘And these… Hu-maids. They intuit?’
    ‘They’re currently being tested. Two have prevented suicides, three have fixed up their user with the ideal partner…’
    ‘Is that possible?’
    ‘Would you like to try?’
    ‘Can they do it today?’
    ‘I suggest in your case we might do it by degrees.’

  25. Communication Breakdown
    A.J. Walker

    Six times Henry called, each time Chloe put him through to a random number – she was being ignorant. She talked more to Harvey, their goldfish, than Henry these days and working at the telephone exchange she held the lines of communication firmly in her grip at all times.

    Henry stuffed a bacon sarnie into his mouth, like he hadn’t eaten for days, whilst he mulled things over, struggling to remember a time when things were right – though he was sure they were once very much in love. Little by little unfortunate winds had blown them apart so far he’d now need a sextant to work out by how many degrees.

    (110 words)
    @zevonesque

    #FlashDogs

  26. Emily Clayton
    @emilyiswriting
    106 words

    Wicked Ways and the Broken Telephone

    Six tears shed over you. I counted. After that, those ducts ran dry. The switchboard girls crowded around me, oohing and aahing and clucking their tongues. Like hens on the nest. Didn’t they know I needed my space?

    I threw down my headset, watching it ricochet off splintered wood panels. Dusty corners sent up plumes of grey smoke.

    Blinding light and nauseous haze. I ran for home, beat down by summer vehemence.

    Strange odours. Peculiar feelings. I grabbed the knife, plunged it into the pillows. Again. I was liberated, until the lump shifted. It wore a face like yours, remorse and pain etched in shifting degrees.

  27. Name: Michael J Berry

    Dear Soul

    Six Six Six I am not, though I do reap death, it is not destruction I cause. Please, understand the difference, for there is more to me than my name suggests.

    As it is my job to take you, it is also my job to bring you here just long enough to let you converse with the fallen one I’m often mistaken to be.

    I implore you not to listen to what he says, for he will blame others for the hurt he ultimately caused. Sadly, my second assignment didn’t understand this. I leave you now, but know Six Six Six is evil of the greatest degree.

    Word Count: 107

    email: berrymichael07@gmail.com

    • Hmm I should have read everyone else’s before posting.

      • Why? I enjoyed it as it was and I liked the dark element to it. (I try not read others before submitting as it tends to knock my confidence, writers are the world’s worst for comparing themselves with others and will always find themselves wanting!!). Your reference to conversing with the fallen one is the part I took to be related to the photo prompt. Nice work.

        • Because I would have stepped up my game a bit more.

        • But yeah, the angel of death is like the operator who connects our conversation with satin. Glad you liked it.

  28. Title : Change in a Time of War
    Six in the morning is too early thought Margaret as she rose from bed. So much in her life has changed. With the country at war, change is to be expected but Margaret longed for the day her brother and all the other young men would return home. It’s just a daydream because if the New York Times is to be believed, the war won’t be over tomorrow. Margaret took the subway downtown where she had a job as a telephone operator. As Margaret stepped from the train to begin her day, her skin glistened. It was early but the temperature had already climbed to ninety degrees.

    @ma_holloway

  29. — The Sum Of Its Factors —

    Six pristine chairs will sit at precise intervals around a pristine table. Mum will be to Bruce’s left, discussing the new Murakami with Viv, if that’s her name. Dad will be helping himself to the red and trying to untangle the crossed wires of Viv’s eventful life. Janice and David will make up the numbers. Bruce will be lost in Viv’s eyes.

    But first, Bruce must use the Allen key as shown on the diagram and then his protractor to align the seats. Once that’s done, he can call the agency and ask who’s available. It’s all a question of degrees.

    108 words
    @edbroom

  30. In the Control Room
    @haikufictiondju
    100 words

    “Six Five Seven through Seven One Nine — no response.”

    “Reroute through the Eight Hundred block, but keep trying those pathways.”

    “Received. Wilco.”

    The center worked furiously, busy hands moving wire after wire. But no matter how fast the girls worked, the systems collapsed faster.

    The supervisor turned toward the monitor. A hazy picture showed the face of a woman. She should know who the woman was, but…

    “Not getting through on the Eight Hundred block, mum.”

    “Keep trying. The answer is there. Somewhere.”

    *

    Barbara kissed her mother’s cheek. She would not cry. Damn Alzheimer’s. Damn that death by degrees.

    • Love the twist at the end of the story – I was reading it in a faintly humorous, sci-fi state of mind, so your last line kiboshed me completely.

    • Oh I liked this. Great analogy with the human brain and that horrible disease. Very clever.

  31. Separation

    Six foot two, chiselled looks, American accent… Irresistible to a single woman in war-ravaged London.

    Pregnancy and marriage followed, then little Louise. Mum and Dad disowned me: “Choose a Yank over one of our boys?”

    “Operation War Bride” transported us to a new life in the US.

    After rationing, I craved breakfasts with Kevin: bacon and eggs, waffles and syrup.

    But eventually there was a disconnection between us. Kevin wanted me to be an apple-pie Mom, I wanted freedom. Since our separation, mornings start with chain-smoking and black coffee.

    I need qualifications but it was only to veterans that The GI Bill offered college places to qualify for good degrees.

    @GeoffHolme
    #FlashDogs
    Word Count: 110

  32. Extinguish the Fury
    Word Count: 108
    @RealMommaRamble

    “Six times, Kaitie! We can’t keep wiping everyone’s memory. Soon long term brain damage can occur.

    “I know, Mom. But I couldn’t take it anymore. Brad had it coming, constantly taunting me. He needed to know who really has the power.”

    “You set his hair on fire!”

    Katie bowed her head. She wasn’t sorry but she tried to look it.

    “I get called out of work so often the girls in the office think I’m unreliable.”

    Kaitie’s hands began to smolder. She hated having to hide who she was.

    “Go take a cold shower,” her mother’s gaze falling on Kaitie’s hands, “cool those hands down a few degrees.”

  33. Throwback Flight

    Six hundred million vacuum tubes powered the spaceship. No-one could have believed that such ancient technology would be the key to attaining hyperspace, yet there sat the Starlight, waiting for the launch sequence.

    Mission control was equally archaic, communication jacks being inserted manually so that connections could be made. Every facet of the project had to be scaled back to a level of technology so removed from the singularity so that it would be unrecognisable as a threat.

    “All systems go. Starlight, you are clear to launch!” thundered from the Tannoy, only to be drowned out moments later by the booster rockets heating to a modest thousand degrees.

    @davejamesashton
    108 words posted just in the nick of time (I think).

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