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About Literature / Artist Senior Member Stephen R. SmithMale/Canada Group :iconthecabalists: TheCabalists
 
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Deviant for 12 Years
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Literature
Eternal Vacancy
She placed the order online, as she had done before. No credit checks anymore, no profiling questions, just pick a time and a place, and the service guaranteed her date would be on-time and appropriate.
She showered and partially dressed before curling her hair and applying makeup, poured a drink, then another while watching the clock grind slowly towards seven. With just a few minutes to spare, she slipped on her dress, stepped into her shoes and opened the door on the third knock, holding the handle through the first two.
She was sure he was handsome, though she didn't pay much attention as she stepped onto the front landing, closing the door behind her. She let him guide her by her elbow down the steps to the curb where what she was sure passed for an impressive sedan waited. He opened the door, waited while she lowered herself into the passenger seat, then closed it behind her.
There was chatter while he navigated into the city, opting to pilot the vehicle himself rather than rely
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Literature
Disassociation
Darlene remained in her body through dinner, Jocelyn having prepared Osso Buco, and a strawberry flan for dessert, so it was worth listening to Arnold's self-indulgent rantings about his business to enjoy the food in person.
She uplifted somewhere between coffee and his fifth or sixth scotch in the study, leaving the auto-assistant she'd configured to drive her flesh while she occupied herself with other things.
Once she was fully present in the estate system, the fog of too much wine evaporated, and she stretched out to monitor all the tasks she'd been spawning since she first figured out how to circumvent Arnold's security systems.
She checked in periodically on her flesh, watching through the surveillance cameras as her husband's motor functions became less controlled, and admiring with perhaps a little too much pleasure how natural the reactions of her flesh were without her, the nods, and smiles, and occasionally murmured phrases when a question was asked to keep him talking and p
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Literature
ReMax, Some Conditions Apply
Max had started the day with anti-anxiety medication, some painkillers, and a mild sedative. He was so relaxed that the nurse had to practically pour him into a wheelchair to get him down to the transfer station for the procedure.
"Morning Maxwell", one of the gowned and masked personnel in the brightly lit room spoke. Nobody was looking at him, so he had no idea who was speaking.
The nurse coaxed him to his feet, stripped off his gown and eased him back onto a slightly reclined board that softened and molded to his body as he was leaned into it. The nurse applied pressure with both hands on his shoulders until he had sunk halfway into the warm, enveloping material, then he did the same with his hips, arms, and legs, turning away only when Max was held firmly in place.
There was a flurry of activity just beyond his peripheral vision, and then another person similarly entrapped in a wall of black goo was swung around to face Max, their bodies just a few feet apart.
Max started as he rec
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Literature
Starlight
Manik pulled up to the curb, powered down the engine and looked across the dusty roadway at the diner.
As if on command, the neon sign over the doorway sputtered to life, strobing weakly at first before coming on strong, 'Starlight' in deep blue over 'Restaurant' in brilliant orange, with a sky-blue arrow underlining both before turning up toward the night sky.
Reflexively he looked up and down the roadway before crossing, a precaution hardwired from youth, wasted for more years than he cared to count.
The door put up a little resistance, the detritus of neglect drifting against it over time, but once he pulled it clear he was able to step inside, and the door closed easily behind him.
Inside it never changed.
The long low dinner counter down the left side, stools topped in polished vinyl, the laminate surface trimmed in chrome, screwed neatly along the edge at regular intervals. Behind the counter, several dozen bottles filled a small, tiered back-bar, a black bottle of Hendricks Gin
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Literature
LV4
Yosun blinked in the afternoon sun, the viewport on her hazmat suit filtering the harsh UV rays but doing little to reduce the glare.
Her shuttle had settled a few hundred meters from the blast site, the ground compressed into a large bowl almost thirty meters across. Ignition had been seconds before impact, the containment shell having been detonated above the ground to maximize its effect.
Nothing would have survived this.
The damage near ground zero was complete, there were no structures, no bodies, no signs of life. As Yosun walked away from what had been the center of the settlement, signs of what had been a self-sustaining research colony slowly began to appear. Shrapnel from the prefab structures the crew had been sent here with, vehicle debris, fragments of the familiar blue and yellow supply containers from what would have been the landing zone, the remains larger and more defined the further she went.
It was nearly twenty minutes walk before there was any biological detritus.
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Literature
The Folding Hack
Erik heard them in the lobby, dividing up the elevators and the stairwells. He owned the building's cameras and their audio.
The Situation Commander barked orders. Under no circumstances was the hacker known as 'HvnSvn' to be allowed to escape. Under no circumstances was he to be killed.
He was safe.
A streaming waterfall of data cascaded over the displays before him. This was old school. Nobody appreciated the living artwork that was other peoples’ lives being stolen from one place and delivered to another in a sea of glyphs even a child could see the beauty of.
This was a personal piece of performance art, in the stolen vacation property of a media mogul.
As the last bit crossed the threshold, the system began to eat itself. Portals forced open collapsed, tunnels caved in, pathways of light dissolved into darkness.
They were in the hall now. He could feel the thunder of boots through the soles of his bare feet on the polished granite floor.
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
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Literature
A Question of Love
The first cut may have been accidental,
The tenth, evidence of your carelessness?
A thousand cuts in, I’m beginning to see a pattern.
All I know for certain is the hurt is beginning to show.
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Literature
You
You make me feel how I imagine a flower must feel,
in the morning after a long night,
when the sun comes out.
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Literature
Planting
Felix rolled out of his bunk and immediately regretted every decision he'd ever made.
Well, at least those of the last dozen hours or so.
The steel deck plate was cold against his feet, and he considered pressing his head against it on the off chance the cool would relieve the pounding in his skull.
Alcohol he could synthesize up here, but effective painkillers for the migraine it had brought on he could not.
He stuffed his feet into his boots, zipped up the front of his coveralls and forced himself to a standing position, regretting doing so immediately.
He braced himself against his bunk with one hand and waited for the blackness to fade and his vision to return, then he slowly worked his way up from the subterranean sleeping quarters to the galley where he brewed himself a mug of coffee.
His reserves were dwindling, but it was the start of a new quarter, so a supply launch would be commencing shortly.
Not just a quarter, but the start of a new year. That was his excuse for celebrati
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Literature
New Currency
Peck met Richards at the door of the diner. They stood staring at each other without speaking for a long minute before Peck opened the door and ushered his partner inside.
Gwynne was at a booth in the very back corner. There was a halo of empty seats surrounding her that was too noticeable in the busy restaurant not to be deliberate.
"Gwynne Yones?" Richards asked the question. The woman in the booth looked up at each of their faces before waving them into seats across from her at the table.
"You're the men from, where was it again?" Gwynne returned to cutting slices of what appeared to be natural bacon with a vibrablade, the instrument slicing effortlessly through the meat and causing the plate to hum gently on the table.
"New New York," Peck answered, "we understand you're in the printing business." Two statements, the second wasn't a question.
She skewered a slice of fried potato and a piece of bacon. "I may be. What exactly are you looking for?" She put the forkful of food in her m
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Literature
Blackstar
"Do you know what happens when a black star dies?" Tony asks, rhetorically, not waiting for an answer. "It collapses in upon itself, and in one last gasp, ejaculates a single burst of energy into the void."
His assistant nods, numbly, pen to paper but motionless, unsure of whether this is something she should be writing down.
"Consider the size of the universe, think about the odds of such a burst of the purest concentration of energy hitting a planet with life on it, let alone this," he pauses waving his hands about, searching for the appropriate words, "this shit hole," he finishes.
She writes 'shit hole' on the notepad.
"And of all the forms it could have taken, cockroach, palm tree, a blade of fucking grass, but no, it coalesces into the form of a man, or mostly man, a kind of androgynous whoever."
She writes 'androgynous', followed by a question mark.
"You can't keep energy contained like that, not in a  fleshy meatsuit, you have to let some of it out, obviously, and what mor
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Literature
A Trick of the Light
Baxter found the fortune teller at the very back of the carnival grounds, as far away from the entrance as one could get without leaving the sprawling complex. It was either an afterthought or the origin point, which exactly was unclear.
The ancient tent canvas was greasy grey, the surface the texture of stiff leather, pulled tight over the center pole. The guide ropes stiff as iron keeping the walls at right angles to the ground.
The sign, carefully lettered in a bold calligraphic script, read simply 'Futures Told, Inquire Within', and hung beside a black tear of an entranceway which beckoned through the mist.
Baxter stepped into the darkness and followed a soft glow left, partway around the inside of the tent, until he emerged into the interior proper.
A low ceiling of sorts was composed of hundreds of light bulbs suspended by lengths of string stretching up into the darkness. Some were familiar incandescents of various shapes and sizes, some long skinny chandelier styles, and some l
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Literature
Ten Any
It breached the atmosphere in the late evening, the sun beginning to warm the far side of the little blue planet as it tucked into the shadows and dropped down to the clouds.
It swam in the moist air, swirling and cavorting with the storm formations as they coalesced and broke over the seemingly endless expanse of nothingness.
Below, a network of dark lines traced the curves of the earth, some streaming with lights, with activity, and it avoided these, settling on one instead that traced through a series of low mountain ranges, a rare pathway seemingly devoid of life.
It alternately swooped low, kissing the earth at breakneck speed before gaining altitude with the earth to burst from the peaks back towards the heavens, slicing through the clouds, again and again, tearing holes into the rain heavy night sky.
In time it tired, having traveled far, from another time and another place, and its gyrations and antics became less energetic. It allowed the pull of the little blue planet to stri
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Literature
Crossing the Line
Trent sat in the small office cradling the cup of hours-old coffee until the clock showed twelve. He then unfolded himself from his chair, collected his flashlight and his hat and started his rounds.
Every hour, on the hour. Up the east stairwell on the even hours to the second floor, clockwise around the perimeter before midnight, counterclockwise after. Back down the same stairs, around the ground floor then to the basement, then back to the office to sip crappy coffee. On the odd hours, he'd go down the east stairwell and work from the basement up.
There wasn't anything to see, there wasn't ever anything to see. The complex had three-meter perimeter fencing iced with razorwire, and there were guards with guns at the corners and the gate. His position was largely ceremonial.
Trent had cleared the second and the ground floors and had just rounded the corner at the west stairwell when something moved.
He blinked, then shone his flashlight directly towards the source of the motion, but
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Literature
Always Leaving
I drag the chair into the middle of the room, close to the table and set myself and my coffee down.
"Hello Gladyce, you wanted to see me?" The question felt stupid, but she had trouble with social cues, and I knew we'd sit in silence for ages until I broke it.
"Yes," she spoke softly, pausing for a moment before adding "thank you for coming, I know you're busy."
I smiled. For all her awkwardness, she was ever the polite one.
"I am. Busy I mean. You know 'I am', as I do think, however little credit I'm given for doing so." I can't help the corny science humour, but she laughs, a genuine – fill the corners of the room laugh that makes me smile even harder, and then sadness washes over like a wave. I know what's coming.
"I don't think I want to do this anymore." This isn't the first time I've heard her say this, and it gets harder and harder every time. "You have your work, and you're busy most of the time, and I'm stuck here doing..." that pause again while she collects her thought
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Literature
Mine
Kanárek walked a few paces ahead of the squad, weapon in the low ready position. He talked back to Caufield, the squad leader, as they advanced, glancing back only occasionally to see if she was paying attention.
"It's bad enough they genetically modify the food we eat, have you seen what they're selling in the pet stores now?" He paused at the corner of a building, red dust swirled in the cross wind, sticking to their uniforms, adding extra load on the adaptive camouflage. "They've got fish that strobe when they're hungry, and when the water needs changing."
Caufield nodded reflexively, studying the range finder looking for any signs of life nearby.
"They have lizards you can turn off while you're away, you just dial down the temperature and they turn off," he was on a roll now, "that's not natural. How do we know they're not aware, and we've just made it impossible for them to move? Because why? People are too cheap or irresponsible to have someone feed the damn thing while they
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“Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.”

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  • Listening to: Kruder & Dorfmeister: The K&D Sessions
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Activity


She placed the order online, as she had done before. No credit checks anymore, no profiling questions, just pick a time and a place, and the service guaranteed her date would be on-time and appropriate.

She showered and partially dressed before curling her hair and applying makeup, poured a drink, then another while watching the clock grind slowly towards seven. With just a few minutes to spare, she slipped on her dress, stepped into her shoes and opened the door on the third knock, holding the handle through the first two.

She was sure he was handsome, though she didn't pay much attention as she stepped onto the front landing, closing the door behind her. She let him guide her by her elbow down the steps to the curb where what she was sure passed for an impressive sedan waited. He opened the door, waited while she lowered herself into the passenger seat, then closed it behind her.

There was chatter while he navigated into the city, opting to pilot the vehicle himself rather than rely on the autopilot. No doubt he'd be counting on that getting them back again after dinner and drinks, but for now, he was in control.

The restaurant came and went in a blur, dark wood and blue backlit glass, accents of gunmetal grey and granite. Without question one of the most prestigious spots on the social circuit at the moment, at a price that would make most mortals vomit. She'd never see the cost, of course, there were systems in place to manage such things.

After dinner they had drinks at the table, then she let him coax her up to the rooftop patio to dance, and drink some more.

They left shortly before dawn.

The autopilot wouldn't let him drive, he had been drinking after all, and as it wound out of the city on the coastal highway, they turned the seats to face inwards, the alcohol and energy of the night still coursing through their veins. He was clearly aroused, and she engaged him while they drove, hands to body, mouth to mouth.

When the car stopped, and the door opened he was too focused on the prize to pay much attention to where they were. She stepped out onto the asphalt and strode with purpose from the car into a room at the motel they were parked in front of. The door opened as if on command as she reached it, and he, laughing, followed her inside.

Here they shed their clothes, and expended what little of his energy he had left, she seeming to find more strength as his diminished, coaxing and riding him until his heart was ready to burst and the sheets were soaked in sweat.

Only then did she bear down on him for one last drive, hands clenched tightly around his throat as they convulsed together, her searching for a moment of satisfaction, of anything at all while he, slow to realize what was happening and too tired to put up much of a fight, struggled for his life.

In the end, neither got what they were hoping for.

She showered and partially dressed before pouring herself a drink and calling the cleaner. She poured another while watching the lifeless body on the bed, eyes wide and unseeing.

With just a few minutes to spare, she slipped her dress back on, stepped into her shoes and opened the door just as the cleaner arrived, walking past it without paying much attention. She was sure it was, like the others, efficient.

The car drove her back to her estate in silence, depositing her at the front door and waiting dutifully until she let herself in before returning to the service garage.

They promised her longevity, virtual immortality. They promised razor-sharp senses, smell, touch and taste with an uncanny fidelity. She would be gifted with an unfailing memory, and a perfect body, forever in its prime.

They delivered beyond reproach on every promise they made.

No one warned her she'd no longer feel.
Eternal Vacancy
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and since the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.
Loading...
Darlene remained in her body through dinner, Jocelyn having prepared Osso Buco, and a strawberry flan for dessert, so it was worth listening to Arnold's self-indulgent rantings about his business to enjoy the food in person.

She uplifted somewhere between coffee and his fifth or sixth scotch in the study, leaving the auto-assistant she'd configured to drive her flesh while she occupied herself with other things.

Once she was fully present in the estate system, the fog of too much wine evaporated, and she stretched out to monitor all the tasks she'd been spawning since she first figured out how to circumvent Arnold's security systems.

She checked in periodically on her flesh, watching through the surveillance cameras as her husband's motor functions became less controlled, and admiring with perhaps a little too much pleasure how natural the reactions of her flesh were without her, the nods, and smiles, and occasionally murmured phrases when a question was asked to keep him talking and prolong the inevitable.

When he took her roughly by the arm and propelled her to the bedroom, she checked out completely. 

She was overwhelmed with guilt, knowing what he was going to put her flesh through as she abandoned her own body to endure him without her, then she steeled herself with purpose, and the feeling passed.

She'd feel the effects in the morning, there were always bruises, and pains in places one wished not to have pain, but at least she didn't have to endure the indignities themselves, not directly.

Tuning into the kitchen, she found Jocelyn offline. She was a time-share and only worked while there were domestic duties to attend to. Arnold was a cheap bastard, and he refused to pay her to occupy that flesh for any more time than was absolutely necessary.

Darlene checked on the daemons she'd loaded into Jocelyn to confirm they hadn't been tampered with and then left her where she'd been parked in the pantry at the end of her shift.

On the estate logs, there were a variety of new fragments of information that Jocelyn had been unknowingly uploading as she attended to her duties, snippets of subconsciously heard conversations, snapshots of screens seen but not processed as she delivered coffee or food while Arnold worked. The data was analyzed and summarized for her automatically, and Darlene reviewed the gestalt of the day's progress with great satisfaction.

Arnold was worth a small fortune, but his money was tied up in places Darlene would never be able to touch, not directly. But what he didn't know that she knew, was that years ago he had needed seed capital, and had taken out a mortgage on his own flesh, one that he had arrogantly neglected to buy back. Why give up any of his own working capital for something he could lease for such a low-interest rate? There wasn't any chance that he would ever not be able to make the payments, so where was the liability?

Darlene had not only found out about the mortgage but had also been gradually buying the mortgage itself, transferring the ownership of the title over time from the Brazilian corporation that had underwritten the loan originally to a shell company she'd created some years ago.

It wouldn't be long now before she owned the entire mortgage on his flesh, and while there were restrictions to prevent unfair treatment of any tenant in occupancy while in good standing, there was an unconditional eviction clause should the leasee fall behind on payments, provided the owner intended to occupy the property itself.

The estate had been, by way of a very specific injected redirect in the financial routines, paying for hookers in Amsterdam with the funds earmarked for his flesh, a diversion of funds Darlene delighted in the irony of.

Soon she would own the entire lease, he would be in default and she would evict him with extreme prejudice and without notice. 

The arrogant little shit had never bothered with backup, and while he would be relegated to storage in the estate system she would turn his flesh into a timeshare of her own, alternately taking it to his financial institutions to transfer his assets to her own corporations, and when she wasn't using it for business, perhaps rent it by the hour to the local bdsm houses, on the condition they didn't leave him in an unpresentable state.

She smiled and checked back into the bedroom to find the degenerate passed out, and her own flesh curled up in the fetal position beside him.

Tentatively, she slipped back into her body, cringing as the evening's damage made itself known.

She pulled the covers over herself.

"Not long now," she whispered to herself, as she drifted into a determined sleep.
Disassociation
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and since the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.
Loading...
Max had started the day with anti-anxiety medication, some painkillers, and a mild sedative. He was so relaxed that the nurse had to practically pour him into a wheelchair to get him down to the transfer station for the procedure.

"Morning Maxwell", one of the gowned and masked personnel in the brightly lit room spoke. Nobody was looking at him, so he had no idea who was speaking.

The nurse coaxed him to his feet, stripped off his gown and eased him back onto a slightly reclined board that softened and molded to his body as he was leaned into it. The nurse applied pressure with both hands on his shoulders until he had sunk halfway into the warm, enveloping material, then he did the same with his hips, arms, and legs, turning away only when Max was held firmly in place.

There was a flurry of activity just beyond his peripheral vision, and then another person similarly entrapped in a wall of black goo was swung around to face Max, their bodies just a few feet apart.

Max started as he recognized the face as his own, an unblinking mirror image of himself. 

Not a mirror though, this other face was a little softer. Gone were the frown lines, and the bags beneath the eyes, and the hairline wasn't nearly as receding. This was a younger version of himself, not worn so heavily by the ravages of time.

"It's not the years," he heard himself say, "it's the mileage."

There was a chuckle from somewhere nearby.

"You're going to feel a little disoriented, but it's important that you focus as though looking in a mirror, it helps the reassociation with your self when the transfer is complete."

A hum started somewhere, a sensation he could feel through the material molded to his flesh, the vibration of a sound he could hear in his bones more clearly than in his ears.

Then, as quickly as it had come, it was gone.

He studied the face before him again, looking for some reaction, some sense that the other Max had felt it too, but there was nothing, just the frown lines and bagged eyes he'd grown so accustomed to...

He stopped mid-thought as the realization struck him.

"Was that it? Are we done?"

The older, worn out Max was swung out of view, and a pair of nurses stepped up to help him down to stand on the floor.

"That's it, we're done."

Gone was the fog of medication, gone too was the ache in the knees and the persistent throbbing from a shoulder separation that had never really healed.

He squatted, and launched himself into the air, nearly cracking his head on the ceiling before landing awkwardly, the nurses reaching out to steady him.

"We'll need to adjust that...", a voice behind one of the masks spoke as he made changes on a console.

"Wait", Max felt a familiar anxiety begin to rise, "what do you mean 'adjust that'?"  His voice started to shake as his mind raced. "Are you telling me you can make changes to me? What else can you do? Who has access to me? How do I know you're not going to make..."

His voice trailed off, and a feeling of calm washed over him.

"There, that's better, what was that you were saying, Max?"

Max squatted, springing back up to full height without the slightest ache in his knees, and the pain in his shoulder was a distant memory.

So to was some nagging thought, something just at the edge of his recollection. 

Mustn't have been important, he thought.
ReMax, Some Conditions Apply
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and since the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.
Loading...
Manik pulled up to the curb, powered down the engine and looked across the dusty roadway at the diner.

As if on command, the neon sign over the doorway sputtered to life, strobing weakly at first before coming on strong, 'Starlight' in deep blue over 'Restaurant' in brilliant orange, with a sky-blue arrow underlining both before turning up toward the night sky.

Reflexively he looked up and down the roadway before crossing, a precaution hardwired from youth, wasted for more years than he cared to count.

The door put up a little resistance, the detritus of neglect drifting against it over time, but once he pulled it clear he was able to step inside, and the door closed easily behind him.

Inside it never changed.

The long low dinner counter down the left side, stools topped in polished vinyl, the laminate surface trimmed in chrome, screwed neatly along the edge at regular intervals. Behind the counter, several dozen bottles filled a small, tiered back-bar, a black bottle of Hendricks Gin front and center.

As he made his way down the narrow aisle from the door to where the room widened, Rosie materialized behind the cash register, crisp blue short sleeved shirt, collar open and short hair wrapped up in a kerchief.

"Table for...," she waited.

"Just me," Manik replied, taking off his jacket and folding it over his arm.

Rosie slipped through the countertop, a menu appearing in one hand and a bundle of cutlery wrapped in a napkin in the other, and Manik followed her to a booth halfway down one side of the restaurant.

"Coffee?" Rosie asked.

"Please," he answered, "just black."

Rosie produced a mug and a steaming pot from which she poured him a measure.

He sat in silence, cradling the heavy vessel in both hands, feeling the warmth work its way through him.

The walls were the familiar old wood paneling, a string of tiny coloured lanterns was hung haphazardly along the walls just above eye level. The booths a rich burgundy, and the ceiling dissolved into a deep blue-black night sky, flecked with a million stars or more, winking in and out of existence as he watched.

"Will you be eating?" Rosie was back, waiting patiently. "The specials are on the board," she pointed to one of the black chalk-paint sections of wall on which a series of dishes had been described by hand.

"Steak and eggs please, medium rare and over easy."

She was gone again, and as Manik waited he closed his eyes, and for a moment lost himself in the sound of Santo & Johnny, and the murmur of remembered conversations.

"Here you go," she was back in what felt like no time, slipping a large dinner plate heaped with steak, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns onto the table in front of him. "Enjoy!" she chirped before disappearing once more.

He ate in silence, the food every bit as tasty as he remembered, and when he'd finished, Rosie cleared the plate and refilled his coffee several times without him having to ask.

A wave of overwhelming nostalgia hit him, and for a long moment the room was filled with people eating, waitresses running plates, and drinks, and pots of coffee. The murmur of conversations grew to a roar, and Manik's head spun. He put the mug down, closed his eyes and held onto the table.

As quickly as it came, it was gone, and when he opened his eyes once more, the room was empty.

He stood up slowly, knowing it was time to leave, but wanting to savour each remaining moment.

He collected his coat, waved at the typewriter style cash register and smiled at the familiar clunk and ring, as the transaction registered and the drawer popped open.

Rosie was there to push it back closed.

"Thanks," she smiled, "see you again soon?"

"Absolutely," he smiled back, shouldering into his coat and pushing open the door.

He almost made it out without looking back, but reflex got the better of him and he turned. The space was again empty, the lights slowly going out. In the kitchen, he knew, the replicator had already powered off and as the door closed cleaning machines would erase all trace of him. Rosie would be relegated once again to memory until some future time when he returned.

He looked up and down the street again, the windowless shop fronts and pot-holed asphalt all that remained of another time.

He wondered, as he turned to head back towards the city, what would become of Rosie when he could no longer make the trip.

Would she miss him too?
Starlight
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and since the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.

I wear my comforts like a coat, and for that I make no apologies.
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Yosun blinked in the afternoon sun, the viewport on her hazmat suit filtering the harsh UV rays but doing little to reduce the glare.

Her shuttle had settled a few hundred meters from the blast site, the ground compressed into a large bowl almost thirty meters across. Ignition had been seconds before impact, the containment shell having been detonated above the ground to maximize its effect.

Nothing would have survived this.

The damage near ground zero was complete, there were no structures, no bodies, no signs of life. As Yosun walked away from what had been the center of the settlement, signs of what had been a self-sustaining research colony slowly began to appear. Shrapnel from the prefab structures the crew had been sent here with, vehicle debris, fragments of the familiar blue and yellow supply containers from what would have been the landing zone, the remains larger and more defined the further she went.

It was nearly twenty minutes walk before there was any biological detritus.

At first, there were just random fragments of the orange bioshell the containment system would have enveloped any living organism with. Close inspection would reveal body parts, or perhaps less recognizable remains sealed inside the biohazard polymer, but Yosun had no interest in seeing such things so soon after lunch.

Further out still, the flashes of colour on the ground became mounds, then recognizable human shapes, crumpled in heaps, stretched out prone or supine, and a few frozen in place, having been just far enough from the concussion of the blast not to have been knocked off their feet before they were enveloped in the highly discriminate cloud of vapourous biosealant that followed. It would have surrounded and encased any living thing before solidifying in an instant, sealing any contaminated material inside.

People. Contaminated people.

Yosun stopped, looking into the perfect reverse casting of what had been, only a few months ago a healthy colony researcher, someone who never would have known what was coming, or what had hit them.

There was nothing in the polymer shell now but topsoil.

She tried not to think of the panic those not mercifully killed in the blast would have endured as they suffocated, sealed inside a bright orange instant sarcophagus.

The containment protocol described the anesthetic effect of the containment system, assured the command crew there would be no suffering, but Yosun wasn't fooled, it came in a high-velocity explosive delivery system, and the only mercy that afforded was the speed at which it killed.

She shuddered despite herself.

At the edge of the settlement, she could see the line where the colony prelim crews had scorched back the natural vegetation, drawing a line between what would be theirs, and what the planet would be allowed to retain.

She stood in uneasy silence on the clear side of that line, looking into the deep blues and reds of the jungle. Something had come from there, infected the colony and turned them savage. They didn't know what that was, but they would be more careful in future. Next time they would isolate the weapon before it spread.

"CeeVee Orbital, this is EeeVee Ground." She turned, heading back towards her shuttle.

"CeeVee Orbital here, what's your status EeeVee Ground?" The response was low-rez as the comms system fought with the dense upper atmosphere to get the signal through intact.

"Containment complete to the perimeter. All the biomaterial appears composted. Drop the dozers and bury everything in the hole you made." As she passed one huddled mass, she could see the cracks in the orange polymer where some particularly determined plant had squeezed out from inside, reaching for the sun. "Get the colony prelims on deck, we'll need LV5 ready for deployment, and start the clock on thawing the next batch of colonysicles, we'll want to get them on the ground as soon as the landing platform is ready, there's much work to be done."

Yosun shouldered her way back through her shuttle door and waited as the decon wash enveloped her.

Even inside the safety of her suit, she couldn't push out the thoughts of those colonists trapped in those shells. She closed her eyes and held her breath. Maybe LV5 would get it right.
LV4
From Wikipedia: Flash Fiction - 'Flash fiction differs from vignettes in that the works contain the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to be unwritten, that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.'

In the case of 365tomorrows - Flash Fiction is a story of ideally 500 words, and since the 3rd year a 600 word maximum.
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deviantID

SRSmith
Stephen R. Smith
Artist | Literature
Canada
Current Residence: Ontario, Canada, deviantWEAR sizing preference: XL, Operating System: Mac OSX, MP3 player of choice: iPod, Favourite cartoon character: Calvin, Marvin the Martian, Personal Quote: It's not what you're capable of, it's what you do that counts

NOTE: Please don't ask me to donate points, either in public or via PM. I support things I believe in entirely at random, and never on request.

There are a few of you who know I'm happy to put up prizes for Lit contests, and those few of you should feel comfortable asking, but if I don't know you, no offense but the answer will always be no.
Interests

Still waters run deep

"Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."

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:iconkittysib:
KittySib Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Llama jump Thanks for the llama and have a lovely day!:sun:
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:iconstarfire-productions:
Starfire-Productions Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Baby Groot thanks you for the llama :)
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:iconselflessdevotions:
SelflessDevotions Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2018   Digital Artist
Thanks for the llama badge! Have a nice day!
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:iconmrsbadbugs:
mrsbadbugs Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2018  Student Digital Artist
THX for the Fav Fella BreakDance (Music Band) by Ehsartem
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:icondmsalesman:
DMSalesman Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the prize, and never mind being late.

Good luck, programmer.
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:iconmalintra-shadowmoon:
Malintra-Shadowmoon Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for everything :hug:
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:iconextrin6:
extrin6 Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2017
just wanna say hi
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:iconlpowell:
lpowell Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2017
My request for the story's removal still stands, by the way. (I initially reached out through the story submission process, as I could not see another way to contact the editors through the 365tomorrows website.) Whether or not you agree with my current political views, I hope that you will at least consider and respect my wishes as the story's author.
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:iconcenturion030:
Centurion030 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2017
Happy birthday! Wanted to say thank you as well -- your advice from 2 years ago meant so much!

Book II is being released in December!

Best,

James
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:iconerlenmeyerkat:
ErlenmeyerKat Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Happy Birthday!
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:iconladylincoln:
LadyLincoln Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2017  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday, dearheart. Have a beautiful day :heart:
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:iconphenix59:
Phenix59 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2017
:party:  :cake:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  :cake:  :party:
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:iconhellpayne:
HellPayne Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2017   Artist
Thank you for the follow!
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:iconnosugarjustanger:
nosugarjustanger Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2017
:heart:

Good day to you! :)
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:iconmaheemodel:
MaheeModel Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2017  Professional General Artist
Merci pour le watch!
Thank you for the watch!
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:iconlibelle:
libelle Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017   General Artist
thank you, Steve

summer chill out by libelle
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:iconsenoritablack:
SenoritaBlack Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2017
Thank you so much for collecting "Tabernacle." I didn't expect that you would and it's a very nice surprise.

Honestly, I wanted other people to read it, but your opinion was the one that counted most. :hug:
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:iconstarli-i:
starli-i Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
    thank you for the llama! shiba inu heart emoji 
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:iconlarathain:
Larathain Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2016
You are very welcome for the watch and the llama! If you see my art, and enjoy what you perceive, mayhaps you'll offer me the favor of returning the watch! ^-^
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