Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chuck Wendig: Flash Fiction Challenge

The three subjects I had for this challenge were Dystopian, Surgery and Divorce.

Short stories are not my forte, so this was an interesting exercise.


"So are you going to have it done?" It was a question Rodfree had been asked so many times in the last two intervals, he felt like he was beginning to develop a complex. It really wasn't that bad was it? He turned to stare at his reflection in the polished steel on the machine at his station.

It wasn't that he was afraid of having surgery. He'd had so many in his life, he knew the ins and outs of them. It was who would have to perform it.

"ECH3579 resume your designated task immediately." The female voice on the other end of the intercom called out.

Sighing in frustration, Rodfree took a sheet of alumantium and placed it in the press and started the complicated process of flipping switches and pushing levers that would result in the production of the standard cup all the people of Glorfina drank from. From his first diem on the job he thought the process of making cups seemed entirely too complicated. It was a simple molded piece of alumantium, not something complex like a clock or the machine that made the damned thing.

Of course it was questions and thoughts like those that got him in his current situation. No sooner had he finished with the same cup did the voice come over the intercom again.

"ECH3579 report to supervisor's room three zero zero zero immediately."

Slouching in fear, Rodfree removed the newly created cup and added it to the completed stacks and locked his machine. As he walked down the long assembly room floor, he noticed everyone glance at him as he passed. Some shook their heads, others gave a reluctant smile.

Up the stairs he climbed to the Supervisory Hall. It was solid white from floor to walls to ceiling. For some reason, it unnerved him. He knew exactly which room was 3000. He had been to it enough times in the six presects he had been an ECH. Six presects since his divorce. He shuddered at the thought.

When he reached the door, it slid open before he could even knock.

"Enter ECH3579."

Taking a deep breath, Rodfree stepped into the room to find his supervisor, Idrina, seated at her pristine desk. The room matched the hall with the same solid white. Even her uniform was a blinding white.

Taking the customary submissive position to a superior, he dropped to his knees with his chin to his chest and hands clasped behind his back. "You beckoned me Mistress Idrina." It still galled him to be in such a position.

During his ten spans of marriage to Mistress Mitra Dall, he had been on the other side of the fence when it came to the caste system of Glorfina. He had been bred, raised and enhanced to serve his Mistress. But now, he was just another ECH, like rest of the men on the assembly room floor.

Rising from her chair, Idrina rounded the desk to stand before him. "You seem to have developed an inability to perform the task designated for you. Why is that ECH3579?" Her voice was smooth as silk and hard as steel at the same time.

Keeping his voice low, like a proper ECH, Rodfree answered her. "My apologies Mistress. My current deformity has kept me preoccupied. I promise it won't happen again."

Idrina curled her lip in disgust. It galled her to look at him, to even have him in her section, let alone her office. "Yes, your deformity has become quite the distraction for the other ECHs in this section. To prevent further disruptions, I am sending you for corrective surgery immediately."

Rodfree's head popped up against his better judgement. "Mistress?"

A vicious slap sailed across his face."Don't you dare think to look up at me again."

Quickly dropping his head back to his chest as his eyes watered and his cheek burned from the slap, he mumbled an apology. "My humblest apologies Mistress Idrina."

Rounding her desk, Idrina tapped the intercom to connect to the Infirmary. "Notify Dr. Dall ECH3579 will be reporting for reconstructive surgery immediately. He will be arriving shortly."

"Right away Mistress Idrina." The male voice on the other end answered.

So this is it, Rodfree thought. Time to see her again. "I'll take my leave now, Mistress."

"Do so and do not delay in reporting to the Infirmary." Tapping another button, the door opened as Rodfree rose to leave.

Afraid of angering Mistress Idrina any further, Rodfree ran from the Supervisory Hall and arrived in record time. He approached the main desk and signed in.

"ECH3579 report to pre-op room 554." The nurse said as she entered him into the computer.

Walking down the hall the nurse had pointed to, he found the room and Dr. Dall waiting for him.

Without looking up, she pointed to the gurney. "ECH please lay down on the bed."

As he laid down, Rodfree suddenly felt very nervous. All his previous surgeries had never started like this. "Dr. Dall, may I ask a question?"

Mitra looked up from the chart in her hand to look into her ex-husband's eyes. She could hardly believe the differences in his appearance, especially the deformity she was now going to repair. "Go ahead ECH."

It was a little stab in his heart to hear her call him ECH as if she didn't recognize him. "Will there be other staff assisting in the procedure?"

"No, it will not be necessary. This will be a quick procedure." Slipping on a pair of gloves, she took a syringe from a prepares tray and prepared it. "Lay back and close your eyes. As I give you the injection, start to count backwards from twenty."

Rodfree did what he was told and waited for the needle prick. A cold swab in the crook of his arm prepared him. The quick sting of the needle started his countdown. "Twenty, nineteen, eighteen..." By fifteen, his words began to slur, by eight a whisper. At three, he was gone.

Mitra sighed as she threw the syringe into the needle receptacle. Touching the intercom keypad, she dialed Idrina's office.

"This is Mistress Idrina."

"I'm afraid the procedure was too difficult for your ECH to survive. He is gone. I'm afraid this is all too common an occurrence with deformities such as his. Once the structures of the nose have been broken, it is very difficult to repair them to their original state." Mitra pushed another series of buttons on the wall above the gurney.

"Thank you for the update Dr. Dall."

"No problem. I will notify supply that you require. New ECH to perform 3579's tasks."

"Thank you again."

Mitra signed off as she watched the gurney and Rodfree's body descend into the floor leading to the male waste receptacle. "Such a shame, that deformity. You could have been a good husband if someone had prevented it."

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