Rejects from the idea fa.., p.2
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       Rejects From The Idea Factory; A Flash Fiction Anthology, p.2

           Ray Daley
 
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  Generally we drove unhindered across Europe, until now.

  Through the high powered binoculars we could see a single American MP, we found it odd that just one man was keeping a checkpoint secured. Especially by using two British trucks. After some discussion it was decided that the Hufbeschlaglehrmeister would drive up to the checkpoint alone at first, flying the white flag.

  From the truck we watched him drive up the hill and approach the checkpoint where the American flagged him down. No weapon was drawn or raised, which we found unusual. There was a brief exchange of words and the Hufbeschlaglehrmeister turned around and drove back to our position.

  “So what's the story, Sarge?” we asked him.

  “He claims to be holding this road alone, he said that I could surrender to him and he was willing to direct me to the Allied lines which are located down a fork in the road, ahead of us.” he told us. “But I feel there is something different about him, the uniform does not seem to be quite right. This feels like an ambush even if I can't prove it is.”

  We had gotten this far by deception. The Hufbeschlaglehrmeister was our Trojan Horse but we were all dressed in German uniforms, admittedly with our own uniforms underneath if we feared capture. We could try to trick him into believing we were all German or risk revealing our real uniforms.

  We decided our deception had worked well enough this far to continue it. We put out our own white flag from the truck and followed the Hufbeschlaglehrmeister to the checkpoint. This time the American MP did draw his pistol. “I didn't realise there were this many of you,” he said with a slight Texan twang. “I'll move one of the trucks, if you drive down the right fork you'll meet up with the Brits after about five miles or so.”

  I stepped out of the truck cab and walked over to him in my Corporals uniform. “Sergeant, we were given a recognition code by our allied compatriots to provide safe passage. Is 'Cleaning Cloths' still active?” I asked him.

  He visibly relaxed and smiled at me. “Why yes it is, you fellas must have been with very newly captured troops if you know that one.”

  “So we drive down the right fork and we'll meet the British, that is correct?” I asked again, checking to see if he would deviate from his story.

  “This is correct, yes. I saw them earlier today, they said they were going to advance later tomorrow so you should still be able to catch up with them within a few miles.” he said.

  “Sergeant, you may also be approached by others from our camp looking to surrender. Ask them where they came from, we were in Bad Langensalza near Cassel. We had the pleasure of releasing some of your compatriots, other Americans. Be on the look-out for them too.” I said to him.

  Again he smiled. “That's good to hear, I'll be sure to look out for any friends.”

  “Sergeant, before I go, there is one last thing. Your uniform appears not to be fully in order. Our American MP's wore different colour shirts from yours. Can you explain why that it is please?” I asked.

  He blustered for a few seconds before pulling the trigger of his pistol.

  Click.

  Empty as I had suspected.

  I was on top of him with my knife before he had time to react any further or raise the alarm. By the time we hit the ground together he was already dead.

  Loosening his shirt confirmed our suspicions, a German Army uniform. Just like us, he too was outwardly dressed as something he was not. We removed his American jacket and what turned out to be a British shirt. The jacket had a single bullet wound in the back, as did the shirt. Clearly he hadn't managed to find a whole American uniform on a corpse and had assumed the British shirt would fool a quick glance from a distance.

  The recognition code I had given him was the clincher, he'd said it was still active. We'd been issued that code the day before we were captured, over two years ago now. Most codes lasted a week, two tops. There was no way the Allies would have still been using a two year old code.

  We switched from our own truck to one of the British ones blocking the road, they were both full of fuel so we took the one facing the way we were going. We also took that moment to finally remove the German uniforms we were wearing. The Hufbeschlaglehrmeister climbed into the cab with me.

  I looked at him and he looked right back at me. “Shall we go left Sarge?” I asked him.

  He nodded. “Yes, I think left sounds like a good direction today.”

  And with that, we set off down the left fork, hopefully towards freedom.

  For all of us.

  THE END.

  Authors Notes:- Not an actual story but a dream I had on the day I typed this up. The end isn't great because I woke up before we met anyone after the fork. The recognition code “Cleaning Cloths” is actually a code used in the movie “The Password Is Courage”.

  Fourth Generation Explorers

  6/10/2013

  By Ray Daley

  We have lived within this realm for as long as any Recorder can retrace, this much we know for certain. The Recorder tells us that our people came to this region in the time of our Great-Grandfathers. The realm was our place of banishment, the crimes of our ancestors are now lost to the passage of time like so many forgotten memories.

  The Recorder is not infallible, the oral history of our tribe is not an easy thing to commit to memory, each new Recorder is chosen at a very early age and spends their all of time listening to the current Recorder recounting how much they remember of our history.

  With age comes the fading memory and not all new potential Recorders are able to remember everything they are taught. So we lose a little of ourselves with each new successive generation.

  Our ancestors hunted, we have since adapted to our new environment and now are both hunters and explorers. Recently we rediscovered the place of burning, somewhere we had previously presumed to be only a legend.

  It was there exactly as the litany of the Recorder describes it, set in beds of stone with ceremonial logs piled ready to be sacrificed to The Great Flame. The Great Flame still burned in the stone temple, it is believed that tribeless Shamans keep it tended and in order.

  Our own Shaman was greatly pleased to know of its location which he visits to make an offering to The Great Flame in order to bring good fortune to our people in our time of banishment. It is not known how long our banishment is expected to last, the Recorder knows only that one day the spirits of the forest will bring us word that we may return to our homelands once more.

  We have been isolated here so long now that almost no-one can truly remember many details of our real home, even the Recorder.

  “I remember the blueness,” he says, in the trance of Remembrance.

  Little changes in the region, we teach the next generation where to find shelter, where good eating can be located.

  *

  Today a scout located a Portal!

  Only the Shaman could approach the Portal, they alone know the arcane magicks to commune with the spirits of The Ancestors who tell them how to correctly open a Portal and guide our hunters through it. Our greatest hunter took it upon himself to be the first one to pass through the Portal with the Shaman.

  *

  It was many days before he returned to us safely, accompanied by another Shaman.

  “This is the Shaman who cares for those beyond our Portal. He is great and powerful with access to many different Portals that he tells me lead beyond the domains of his tribe. They dwell on the high cliffs and flatlands there,” said the hunter.

  The new Shaman instructs our tribe that is is unsafe for us to travel through the Portal too often in fear of angering The Elder Gods. He tells us The Elder Gods often abduct his people to perform certain ceremonies that are beyond the scope of even his understanding. We make an agreement that we will not use the Portal unless it is a dire emergency.

  Our own Shaman assists in his safe passage back through the Portal to return to his own people.

  *

  The hunting grounds no longer support our needs for food. We a
re led by our Shaman in a prayer to The Elder Gods to save us from starvation in our time of most urgent need. Release us from our banishment!

  We no longer hunt or explore. Nothing is ever found. It is too painful for our people to see us returning home empty-handed each day.

  We gather in the centre of The Village, praying for some kind of miracle.

  *

  “Maureen, are those children still in the living room?”

  “Yes Jayne, I haven't heard a peep out of them all day since I sent my lot in there with a small snack to tide them over after teasing the dog like that,” replied Maureen.

  “I think mine are still on the stairs and in the hall,” said Jayne.

  “I'll go and check on them all, see if they're sorry for what they did. We'll let them have lunch if they truly are sorry. That juice will never clean out of a blue carpet though!” said Maureen.

  *

  The Elder Gods finally make themselves known to us.

  We are to be released from our place of banishment. I hope our homeland is as beautiful as we remember it.

  Now we feast!

  THE END.

  Authors Notes:- This was written to submit for a magazine, I can't remember which now. One person read it and totally couldn't get the idea that I was trying to get across. If it's not entirely obvious the kids have been sent into another room for misbehaving and started playing a game where they instantly forgot what they'd done.

  "We Come In Peace!"

  12/9/13

  By Ray Daley

  Over and over it came from space. The same message, no variation or deviation. "We come in peace."

  It was received all over the planet, in Russia they understood it to be Russian. In China they understood it to be Mandarin and Cantonese. Regardless of where it was received, they understood the message to be speaking in their native tongue. Even Eskimos were shocked to hear Inuit coming from space.

  We had no way of telling how far the signal was travelling, it was received as strong as anything from low Earth orbit, maybe they were close, it was just impossible to tell.

  But every day it transmitted non-stop. We looked forward to their arrival, long fought bitter feuds and wars were set aside. Our planet looked forward to the arrival of meeting beings from another world, for the first time since we had lived in caves we were now an entire planet at peace.

  It heralded a golden age of science and technology, advances in radio and astronomy were fast and massive. Could we get a fix on the signal, could we tell where they were coming from, could we tell where they called home and more importantly could we establish a two way dialogue with them?

  As days stretched into weeks which then stretched into months we became less sure.

  Was it a cruel trick? Was it a hoax? Or was it just that their ship wasn't as fast as their ability to signal? We were ready, we were waiting for them.

  Or at least we thought we were.

  After eleven months of receiving the signal it stopped as suddenly as it had started. And their mother-ship hung in our atmosphere, silently scanning the humble Earth bit by bit.

  Nothing for a day. Nothing for a week. Then wholesale carnage, their mother-ship never moving once. Vast energy beams wiping entire cities, then entire countries from the face of the once green Earth.

  When there were only a few hundred of us left they finally landed, we offered no resistance, we were all in shock. Awed by their violence. Their mother-ship grounded, bigger than any city we had ever built in our history.

  And then we understood. The message and its meaning became clear. We saw the name of their ship, clearly marked on her hull.

  PEACE.

  THE END.

  Authors Notes:- The title is from a Dolph Lundgren movie called Dark Angel. It's awful, but gave me this idea.

  Miner

  6/11/2012

  By Ray Daley

  In this day and age, my sort are rare. I don't overly mind. She's nineteen if she's a day and flits glances at me very lightly as though staring too hard will cause me damage.

  "Yes, I'm that old." I say.

  "One hundred and four? Really?" she asks.

  "Yep, all original parts. No factory replacements." A boast of which I am especially proud these days.

  That is a joke at her expense too and one that goes completely over her shaven but still quite pretty head. She's had more than a few bio upgrades. Easily more than half that are available just to the naked eye.

  I can see the dim blue light of the sub-dermal Nokia implant. She's probably online right now as we're speaking. I'm pretty sure her ocular implants have picture in picture. Or whatever three letter acronym they use to refer to that these days.

  "But you still do it?" she asks boldly.

  In my day we just made vague allusions, tangoing around the subject without ever referring to it directly.

  "Yep. Must seem like a pretty weird concept to you?" I ask.

  "I've read about it. Not much more." She seems impressed by my honesty.

  I hate the term they use now.

  Bi-sex and Homo-sex are the accepted norms nowadays.

  I am anachronistic. In my day they'd have called me straight.

  Now I'm just a Vagina Miner.

  THE END.

  Authors Notes:- This was always going to be a hard sell for several reasons. It's really short. The sexual aspect. There's not actually a lot happening. I really couldn't bring myself to bin it, so I've included it here so it can have an actual literary existence now.

  (submitted to 365 tomorrows 1st Oct 2013, rejected 11th Oct 2013)

  Freedom Of Choice

  20/11/2012

  By Ray Daley

  The recording came through the grille set just above my head in the ceiling. "Welcome to the Judgement Booth. Here, all aspects of your crime will be accounted for and sentence will be passed. You will be given a free choice on how your sentence is carried out. Please stand by."

  The machine was checking its files, what I had done, what transgressions I committed according to its records. With circuits everywhere, everything you do is recorded, you along with everyone else have to answer for all crimes. Eventually.

  Today was my turn.

  "Your records have been assessed, your sentence has been decided."

  The door in front of my chair slid open silently and the straps that had previously restrained me were automatically released. The door led into a small corridor that branched off in three directions.

  "In front of you are freedom, a minor punishment or death. Please choose your sentence.” The voice came from everywhere around me now.

  As I walked forward, the door closed and lights went off behind me. I also heard a metallic clanging.

  “That was the floor being retracted into the walls behind you,” the voice said, answering my question as to what the hell it was that I'd just heard.

  No going back now then.

  “I can go down any of the three routes available?” I shouted out.

  “That is correct. Once you start down a route, the other two paths will be removed,” replied the voice.

  “And I have how long to decide?” I asked.

  “Technically? The rest of your life. Officially, we don't tolerate slow-coaches. Choose quickly, or die right here.” The overhead voice didn't mince its words.

  I chose left and started walking down the corridor, I could already hear the distant clanging of floors retracting behind and to the right of me. As I walked further down the corridor I grew aware of a door in the distance.

  “So I just open this and go through?” I asked.

  “Correct. Be aware, the room beyond has no illumination. You must enter in darkness to learn your fate,” answered the voice.

  I reached the door. It was old and made of wood. It'd never been painted. The door handle was brass but tarnished with use. Many others had clearly chosen this door before me.

  “Is this the right choice?” I asked.

  “I
t's your choice so it must be the right choice. It's the only choice,” replied the voice.

  The lights in the corridor were all now out except the one in front of this door. I knew the only remaining piece of floor was the bit I was now standing on and whatever might exist behind the door.

  I opened the door. The lights went out.

  “Move forward now please, the floor is about to retract behind you,” said the voice.

  I moved forward.

  ***

  “Which room did he pick?” asked a man watching a bank of TV screens.

  “Spiked floor I think. Lights'll come up in a few seconds, we'll know for sure then,” replied his colleague sitting next to him.

  “Did you bet this time?” the first man asked.

  “Yeah, I bet on the fire pit though. We haven't seen any flames so I know I lost that one. What about you?”

 
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