FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: WTF IS THIS THING?

Chuck Wendig runs a weekly Flash Fiction challenge at his blog Terribleminds. This week’s challenge is to explain this strange weblike thing found in the jungles of Peruvian Amazon. This is my story.

Also, this is the first story I have ever finished. Even though it’s only a 1,000-word piece, please be gentle with the review. 🙂

Here we go.

The Nation

Vij never expected to become the poster child of The Revolution. He always considered himself to be a solid bloke. Too solid, his partner used to complain. Tsang does not complain any more, almost too proud of Vij now. That’s about the only good thing that has happened to Vij in the last 6 months.

The attendant trying to catch his attention was one of the winged ones. Vij could never remember the names of all the species that the Nation was comprised of.

“Good day, O Glorious Pioneer”, the attendant said. It was just too damned cheerful. “Today your graciousness is scheduled to make an appearance in sector A, district 17 and then in sector C, District 12.”

Vij groamed. “Am I? Really?”

The winged creature was perplexed, as far as Vij could see. “I am sorry, O Glorious Pioneer. I was sent here to present the itinerary to Your Graciousness’s eyes. Is there any mistake? Should I speak to my superiors?”

“No, no, there’s no mistake. You may go.” Vij sighed.

As the gal (or guy) fluttered away, Vij again rued the day he sent stood his ground in front of the Satrap. He is now used to it – he has been ruing that day for the last 6 months.

It had started as just another day. Vij was outside, enjoying a cloudy morning after two days of sunshine and dehydrating heat. He reached the spot that he had marked a couple of days ago, selected a particularly damp spot and settled down. He moved his roots down into the soil. He felt his body filling up with water and nutrients. He closed his light-sensitive bands. He completely missed the Satrap’s convoy as it arrived.

To be fair, this Satrap was not half as bad as the last one. Or the one before that. This one was after Vij’s heart, a middle-aged and solid person with a middle-aged and solid sensibility. Unfortunately for Vij, this also meant that the Satrap expected her subjects to get out of the way when she was in a hurry.

One of her aides snarled at Vij. Vij was never very good at the official high language. (He had to attend a refresher course after becoming the Glorious Pioneer.) But there is a universal language spoken by aides when they want civvies to leave their bosses alone. That language starts with snarls, epithets and gestures, physical intimidation and contemptuous shoves. It often ends with practical experiments in the line of “how many bayonets can enter a given body before they touch each other?”

The dark cloaks came at night. They talked at Vij while Tsang fussed over Vij and Vij stayed as immobile as possible.

Logic told Vij that there were people inside the cloaks. Logic also told him that these people also had homes and family – perhaps even friends. But the part of his brain that gives names to things insisted on referring to them as dark cloaks. The fact that he never saw any faces (or any other body parts, for that matter) made it more difficult for him.

“This is a terrible thing.” Vij had to agree with this.

“This should not happen to anybody.” Vij had to agree with this as well.

“We need to ensure that this never happens to anybody, ever again.” Vij was a little concerned with the choice of pronoun. He did not like to consider himself as the kind of “we” that goes ahead and ensures that bad things never happen to anybody, ever again.

“But you showed them, huh? You did not give way to the convoy.” OK, now Vij was very concerned. He was definitely not the kind of “you” that showed anything to anybody.

But before he could protest, another one of the dark cloaks had spoken out. Then another and then one more. They talked about bravery, of resilience, of the end of line of the common subject’s patience. Vij tried to interrupt once or twice, but growing all your roots back after they have been ripped out of your body is a job that requires most of your attention.

By the time the dark cloaks left that night, one of them had a piece of paper with a drawing of Vij. Vij could not help but notice that there were certain – enhancements – to his features.

The Revolution lasted almost 3 months. Vij spent most of this time convalescing at a secret location (twenty three doors down from his old place) and staring out of numerous posters at all corners of what was to become the Nation.

The dark cloaks came almost every night. Vij did not bother to even greet them. They preferred to speak to Tsang anyway.

On the night before the Satrap’s execution, the group of dark cloaks was a little larger than usual. Vij had completely healed by then. But his species, one of those who came across mobility very recently, was still very slow. He started running as soon as he heard the proposal. Tsang would not have caught him. But the dark cloaks were much faster than both of them.

The rally in district 17 went well. Vij was not supposed to say anything, which suited him just fine. But the one in district 12 was another matter altogether. It was an Unveiling – the ninth one Vij had to preside over. It has been promised to him that he will not be required to attend all of them, only the first 10 or so. He felt happy in the knowledge.

The workers have given their all, as always. The Monument to Commoners of Sector 12 stood tall and white. The lattice-work was devastatingly beautiful. The base was broad, the spire tall and pointed. A shimmer of threads connected to top to the ground. There was some symbolism at work here. But Vij never understood symbolism.

The Monument was, of course, protected from the commoners gathered around. The while fence shone in the sun. It was made from the same material as the Monument. It looked beautiful.

The Nation was new. The Nation was proud. The Nation had to finish off these Monuments before it started taking over the world.

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About Siddhartha

I'm just this guy, you know?
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4 Responses to FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: WTF IS THIS THING?

  1. rebeccadouglass says:

    It’s an intriguing story, though I got lost a time or two. I think it came pretty clear in the end. Congrats on your first finish, and keep writing (and editing).

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