NanoCon Flash Fiction Contest

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My name is Thomas Gondolfi, author of many novels and owner of TANSTAAFL Press. I am the primary judge of the contest held at Nanocon in March 2017. The NanoCon convention chairman, Togusa, looked over the top three and gave his inputs.

All contestants should be proud. On a scale of 0-20, the scores ranged from 11-15½. This to me means that everyone wrote and provided something valuable. All writers should be commended.

Below, in no specific order, you will find the inputs from each of the contestants, winners and participants both. I do have to caution you that this is flash fiction. The participants were provided with a pen, a writing booklet, and a prompt. They were given one hour to complete their short story.

This means these are far from polished stories. This means there are typos, spelling errors, sentence fragments, logic errors, transcription errors (by me), and more. There was no rewriting. There was no outlining. You write what is in your head and hope that it makes a good story.  I hope you enjoy the works that our authors provided.

Writing Prompt: What if electricity was found to be too
dangerous to use BUT we were able to harness gravity.

 

2nd Place

Lelia Rose Foreman

Tuvuu spit over the side of the bridge and watched his spittle until the thick hydrogen/methane clouds obscured his view. Would his spit evaporate or crystalize as it dove to the pure diamond they said made the core of Jovann? They said all mining equipment would smash to a few atoms thick if the machine even made it as far as the core. Still, Tuvuu would have liked to try. Maybe mother would stop looking so sad if he gave her a necklace with diamonds as big as his fist. As if he could afford any kind of necklace.

Tuvuu sprinted across the bridge that led from the school to the commons and the next bridge from the commons to the tunnel bristling with home pods.

His front door dilated. He grabbed the upper lintel and swung himself in “Mom, I’m home.”

It turned out he was home, but she wasn’t. He strode across the cavorite floor that kept all the buildings of Verne Colony in the upper atmosphere of Jovann.

His home lurched. Sirens wailed. He rolled to the nearest scream to check the outside cameras.

A wale scraped its back along the tunnel. Couplings crunched together. The wail nose-bumped his home.

With a crack! His home pod separated from the tunnel. The cavorite shot his pod higher and higher into the astmospher. No!

Before the pod burst, Tuvuu saw the stars for the first time with his own eyes. The stars shone like diamonds.

 

Participant

RG

I remember those words. I remember those days where being told our world nearly perished as we attempted to harness something and being told one thing. The element we were harnessing kills. Destroys.

It destroys so many innocent lives. Tear buildings apart and corrupt minds. That the day I was born, every figure being powerful nor weak, spoke of electricity and the dangers that came with it.

But of course the dangers and hindrances in life can all be solved. Solutions are always things that help attempt to balance out the hardships of life.

And what may you ask is said solution?

Gravity. Something people in our world have blessed and thanked for.

Gravity of course helped with many things. Only if harnessed correctly, it could power way more than expected. But, some however don’t care to explain how or what makes it work.

Just to my luck those people who honestly I find lazy are my peers and family – teachers preachers. A lot of the time of the time I figured they were coving, of course soon realized that in fact I was half right.

Half right. A deep root in my mind tells me this and a blooming curiosity persuades me to figure out why I feel this way. Why some people cover up? Why do they coverup?

Is it dangerous? Is it safe? It is evil? Good? All those questions boggle my head and some days I know I have to ask or say something?  But what do I say? Who do I tell it to?

Logging and jotting down my ideas of course is a dangerous work itself. I live in constant fear of the people finding my entries. The work I’m doing is illegal. It’s not that I’m completely swearing against those of a higher power. We all are allowing our own will as long as it lies within believing in gravity. Of course the irony behind it is that the one thing we all rely on or “gravitate” to can actually tear us all apart in aways. Well, belief-wise.

Yet relying on gravity in my mind is a preposterous idea.

Yet… it could be plausible?

Now I’m just contradicting myself.

Either way I know our world “uses” gravity as a better replacement for electricity.

 

 

Participant

Ashlyn Jones

Lance felt the pressure of darkness as he blew out the candles. His mouth pouted to the side, his eyes searching aimlessly for a flicker or a glimpse of a reflection.

He heard the cars rush by, eager to get home before the moon broke out. Sitting in his small and quaint bed, he felt queasy, like nothing would get better. Papers to write, things to do, life seemed empty .

His eyes closed, tensely relaxing in. Lance had found himself in the end of days, and, to be quite honest, hit his limitations in every subject there ever was.

No inventions were coming out. No goods shipping out at a faster rate than back in the 1700s. Human kind hasn’t progressed.

Dreaming, Lance murmured to himself, fighting off the dark evil men who insisted on killing anyone who found a solace in light. Cliché, he knows that.

Then he couldn’t breathe. His choker rang out in his cold and dark apartment. The blankets hugged tightly against him, his hands turning read and purple underneath the dim moonlight that flooded through the open windows.

Lance’s eyes peeled open slowly, or he came to the realization of his desperation. He croaked, unable to move his body under the enormous weight? Wait a minute. He just… air…

In the dialated blink of an eye, the blankets, pillows, his clothes, candles, and so much more slowly, ever so slowly, began to rise. The various items floated about effortlessly, and his breath was taken away in a lighter, shock-and-awe sense.

Looking around him, Lances mouth dropped open, his hear-rate speeding up. One would think they were dreaming, but not Lance. He knew he was awake. Whe4ther it was the brisk air cooling his hot, tan face, the hairs on his arms that began to rise, or the sensation of feeling that warm welling up inside expressing itself in one, single moment- he didn’t know. All he could recognize was the reality in front of him and trust when he says that he experienced too much reality in his seemingly long twenty-eight years of boring existence.

However, when he reached for a candle and matches, not even register the small sizzle as the match lit ablaze, everything fell.

The blanket snuffed out the match, the drawer splintering as it slammed onto the ground. Everything went quiet, and the golden knob on the black splintered dresser had the audacity to break and roll around on the wooden floor.

Lance waited a few minutes in shock, then relit the candle and eagerly got dressed. He grabbed his signature jacket, a black hooy with red stripes and set out with a lamp in hand. He even forgot to lock the door.

He sprinted down the block, the bronze lamp knocking against his knuckles, swinging back and forth. The thud of his loud and quick steps seemed to follow him and every

Lance waited a few minutes in shock, then relit the candle and eagerly got dressed. He grabbed his signature jacket, a black hooy with red stripes and set out with a lamp in hand. He even forgot to lock the door.

He sprinted down the block, the bronze lamp knocking against his knuckles, swinging back and forth. The thud of his loud and quick steps seemed to follow him and every once in a while he wouldn’t hear the loud trudge of his steps. Until he looked down and noticed he was running on nothing but still making forward progress.

Lance’s eyes widened in shock and he immediately lurched forward to get some sort of bearings. This, in turn, causes his cheek to slam down into the pavement, his body rolling over itself.

He heard the steps of someone else; Erons. His best friend. A night owl, lance wasn’t surprised Eron rushed out without skipping a beat. “Salut..” Lance murmured.

“Ca va?” Eron asked mildly worried about Lance’s fall.

“Ca va. Ca va.” Lance finally got a good look of Paris at night. Truthfully, he hated the dark and could not see why anyone would go out at night.

The conversation ceased when Eron saw Lance float off the ground, legs dangling with no inherent reson. He looked anyway, finding his own reflection in a puddle, but not Lances.

“D’accord.”

 

Participant

Teresa Bailey

We watched our sister planet destroy itself as her inhabitants harnessed the most dangerous of materials. We wept as their world began to lose vibrancy and life; our wails might have been heard light years away as the beautiful Uneth became a hallow shell.

From a young age, Enatheans are taught that electricity is dangerous, and destructive. We learn that the great powers of our storms were once harnessed on Uneth, thus causing the end of her life-time. The beings did not seem to realize their wrongdoings until it was too late. Sometimes, though, I wonder what electricity was.

“Lanee!” My name is barked harshly as my teacher finds me daydreaming. The students around me tittered with laughter. “No that you‘ve felt inclined to join use, tell me, why do we not harvest electricity?”

This was easy. We all knew why. “Electricity is dangerous – our sister planet Uneth used electricity  and destroyed the planet.” I felt proud of my answer, as plain as it was.

“Yes, but why don’t we harness it in small doses? Could we not also use electricity for things like heating bath water? Or powering the trains?” Our teacher was calculated and needling with ther questions.

“I-I’m not sure, ma’am. I guess I do not understand.” I could feel my cheeks warming up in embarrassment.

“We do not want to see our planet destroyed, so, we…” the teacher began another boring lecture, one I prompltly tuned out.

It seemed the same day in, day out. “Why do we not use electricity?” “Why is electricity dangerous?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” Each pestered me in my dreams, where I dreamed of a place of electricity.

Everything was so brightly lit, and fires in the home were mostly unheard of for cooking. Hot water came at the turn of a colored knob, not at the pull of a rope, and always the perfect temperature – because of electricity. They were truly beautiful dreams, ones I wanted to linger in for ages. That world I made up in my dreams was never dull, and so much unlike the one I lived in day by day.

Gravity, while beautiful in its displays, was just not the proper way to power things. We used gravity to remove things from machines, where electricity would have worked so much better. Trains were not mean to be powered by g-force, they were meant to run electrically.

If only… If only… Yes, I would be like an inventor, like the one on Earth, that Thomas Edison, and harness my own electricity. It is forbidden, but the laziness of not trying would far out-weigh the disappointment of failure of trying.

I would not sit idly.

 

3rd Place Winner

Kayla Shiloh

He walks down my street every day but Sunday, it late mornings and early nights. Every day but Sunday I watch from my second story window. I assume he is around my age, bronze skin, straight back, a brisk walk colored with purpose; a young man on the dawn of adulthood. Everything about him speaks of a future of potential and success. Less might be said for me, the boy who would rather talk to himself than with strangers, the boy who spends most of his time invested in creating trinkets for convenient use. Every morning I activate the apparatus that boils and eventually serves my morning tea with the pull of a lever. Without going into boring specifics, the contraption mainly uses dense lead balls, pressure plates and a small hot air balloon. Ah, if only I had the time to describe it in detail.

After my tea brews, I sit by my shaded window and wait for the young gentleman to pass.

He is of course one of the many who walk that path but what makes him interesting is that leg of his. It’s beautiful, more beautiful than his human leg, and makes a gentle hiss with each step. My obsession started with this peculiar prosethetic, then expanded to his daily life; where he went, what he sees, how different is his own would from mine? My interest grew beyond the tool of his disability and into the nature of his person.

This last Tuesday, I decided to take action without actively engaging myself. Using a similar apparatus as my tea maker, I arrainged a machine that simply drops a lead ball directly at his feet on the way home. Inside a note of my intrigue can be accessded with a push of the side panel. The first time I dropped a ball, he stared, and moved on. The next day, he picked it up, then gingerly placed it in a waste bin. (Good to know he disliked littering as much as I did). By the fifth or sixth attempt, he picked up the ball and waited outside my doorstep, tentatively looking up at my window every minute of so.

I quickly made another note and placed it in a sphere and set it down the chute, allowing a bit of the paper to stick outside the panel. My heart nearly stopped when he pulled the note to read it. A simple introduction lay inside. I sat by the window and waited.

He waved to me up at my room, and simply asked “Would you join me for tea?”

In my excitement I grabbed my coat off its hook and met him outside.

 

 

Participant

Shelby Brown

Light was a danger.

Perran knew this as well as anyone. That was the reason he was considered old. The young man lived alone in a canyon where a river once flowed.

Storms would roll through and he would xxxx. The dancing clouds and flashes of sun amazed him while others hid away.

Only a select few knew of his fascination with it. And every time he brought it up they would always remind him.

“The light burns,” the would say. “One day it will kill you,”
they say. Perran would listen but would reply. How could he? What could he possibly say when all he really wanted to do was draw closer and feel the light and energy on his body.

But xxx that wasn’t the case. The night was the ruler here and the moon the only source of light.

Perran worked through said nights in the open air, slaving away over his tools, carving and painting, shaping and sanding.

The tools and weapons he made were marvelous and when he had started it had almost been love.

The energy needed he created by turning a wheel providing things like heat for the small fire he and the others kept.

Perran worked with two older men at his side one by the name of Nuebay and the other Vesrad. Vesrad and Nuebay both wanted to move on to other thingsThe work simply didn’t appeal to them as it did Perran, at least not anymore.

Vesrad often held his tongue but Perran knew he wanted something to change and not just his job.

There were times when the man with teal eyes would offhandedly mention something about a rebellion and how these considered lower should be given better treatment.

Nuebay and the other hand didn’t quite seem so clear.

He was more quiet and secretive and judging by the way he acted when his partner came around his ideas were not necessarily the most mad.

They were both interesting and Perran did live to watch them but he had other things casually on his mind.

Especially this day.

A young man Perran had never seen before was walking among the buildings with a girl.

The man had bright green eyes and held himself nearly as a prince would. Though Perran had never seen a prince, he expected that that would be how they walked.

The girl that walked with him seemed to rely heavily on the hand she had clamped in her own. The reason was unclear until she turned and for a moment Perran thought their eyes had met. Until he realized that was impossible. The girl was blind and the prince was her guide.

Without a word Perran stands and edges his way towards the pair and the closer he drew the more he noticed. The girl had scars around her eyes that almost look as if they’d been burned.

Perran winces anywy, unable to image how that may have felt. He was hesitant to speak at first. “Excuse me?” His voice was soft, trying not to sound loud or intimidating.

The prince immediately turns, blinking and then offering a smile. “Hello. How can I help you?”

Perran bit his lip, “I am Perran and I just wanted to ask yuou something?” His voice raised into a question.

“Well what is it? Are you asking me or her?” He tilted his head to the girl.

“I’m asking her,” he trailed off, unsure whether or not he should actually pose the question. “You are blind, correct?  What happened?”

They all fell silent before she finally answered in a sweet voice that almost seemed too pure.

“I was pushed,” She said simply.

“And burned?” Perran blinks at her questioningly.

“She means into the light.” The prince runs a hand through her hair, seemingly not wanting to talk about it.

“The light?”

“During a storm. I was pushed against a metal object and the light struck it, burnt away my sight.”

“Who pushed you?”

“A man no one is allowed to talk about.”

 

 

1st Place

Scott McCully

They told me the electricity wars were an old nightmare. Four hundred years they still don’t feel that old; when those maniacs first turned on the juice no one would have guessed mankind would turn that power on one another.  Makes sense we would though, there isn’t an invention out there that hasn’t been used at one point or another, to butcher other people.

New York was the first to go, the papers now call the city the baked apple; millions dead and then a war; never learn do we. After the war a special commission was created, hunt down the remnants of electricity and those that use it.

The hover car bounces up and down as I pull near the destination, these crazies always live in the atmosphere, anti-grav apartments were all the rage a few years ago. Now there just floating hunks of garbage; amp heads think they’re safe this high up. Guess they’ll learn how wrong they are. I dock the car in the courtyard. I see lights flickering in the windows, electric lights worked better, I’m told, but grav lights don’t flicker. The building where the lights shine, stands out against the dark gray skies. I can hear music coming from the apartment. Must be one of those old record players. My gravity gun hums as I power up. Saps don’t stand a chance. The gravity field will keep ‘em isolated till I bring them in. The smell that emanates from the room as I kick in the door is rancid, rot, death, and decay. The grav gun does the job. Suspended in mid-air an old woman and two children.

The young girl cries out “Leave grandma alone!”

“By order of the Trans Gravity Initiative, you are under arrest for the use of electric technology.”

“Sir, please; our grandmother is sick,” the girl started. “The ventilator is all that is keeping her alive.”

“This tech is illegal and too dangerous to use,” I replied.

“People are dangerous!” the girl called back. “Any tech in the wrong hands can be deadly.” As the girl shrieked at me I felt a shudder. The anti-gravity thrusters had just gone out. Years of abuse and rust had finally caught up with the building. I disengaged the anti-grav field.

“Come on,” I yelled. “This place is coming down.”

I carried the old woman with the two kids in tow. My car was the only chance we had. The altimeter on my wrist was spinning fast. We don’t have long now. I set the grandmother down and jump into my cruiser. I turn to see that the little girl has already released the docking clamps.

“What are you doing?” I ask. “Get in.”

“No,” said the girl. “People are dangerous; no matter what tech is used.” With her final words she pushed the car away from the falling island. The last thing I saw was the small family as they plunged down to the city below. Point taken kid. Point taken.

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