.22 Caliber Bore Diameter

high noon

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

“High Noon Lane” – a glorified name for an inglorious location. An unassuming resting place for an unknown segment of humanity. They all lay here surrounded by an untenanted and untended grassy mound. The reluctantly sprouting flowers hid many secrets. Secrets brimming with euphoria and bursting with angst.

My neighbor had a hard time procuring his final resting place. Racked by poverty he required the intervention of the local gravedigger to get six feet under in peace and quiet. A combination of insult and intransigence prevented him from indulging in any conversation, meaningful or mediocre.

But the inveterate chatterbox that I am, my comrade’s reticence did not hold me back from sharing my sordid story with him. I even detected in him a shiver, when I narrated how the .22 caliber tore into my breast when upon going to meet her, I was greeted by a fusillade of betrayal and bullets.

(Word Count: 150)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #19 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

NEPHTHY’S CHILDREN

Attempting to search for George Orwell or Aldous Huxley on the Cabinet supplied sleek electronic self-powered and booster enabled “V-Book-Ups” was rewarded by three weeks of isolated detention behind one of the hermetically sealed Ministry of Justice dungeons. Repeated offenses triggered even graver consequences ranging from forced labour in Gulag styled labour camps to execution by Minimal Invasive Liberation Outlet (MILO) methods.

‘Unlawful’ assemblies of more than 5 were located and dispersed with – initially warnings – and, for the more obstinate, by mild shocks, courtesy, Jarrings Of Limited Traumas (JOLTs) administered by humanoid UBTech Walkers. These robots patrolled the streets 24 hours a day in 6 shifts. Each one of these forbidding machines used 36 actuators and featured proprietary Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) abilities for planning out paths and avoiding obstacles. The policing of the streets however, did not pose much of a headache for the Universal Law Enforcement Department since the only sporadic disturbances were in the nature of mutinies for additional packets of Frozen And Tested Edibles (FATE). Moreover, social unrest after all had to be preceded by the existence of a society. In a world populated by a mere four countries, society was but a bedraggled assimilation of income and wealth inequalities.

Category 10 cyclones (yes, you read it right), sea level rises exceeding 150 cm, acidic oceans, unfathomable increases in global marine heatwaves and a near complete erosion of the tropical forest had all contrived to wipe the greater good of humanity off the face of the only Planet which hitherto was habitable. Two categories of people survived this macabre dance of wanton destruction. The categories themselves were privileged choice and pure chance.

The wielders of the privileged choice comprised of the so-called “1 percenters”, who in a paean to their vulgar displays of wealth, watched the unfettered and brazen destruction of Earth from the serene confines of space. Defying both gravity, and the wrath of Mother Earth, these noveau riche ensconced approximately 250 miles above the land mass. Here they, along with their families, shamelessly and smugly bore witness to a massacre whose origins had these watchers themselves at its core. Relentlessly and repetitively orbiting the shrunken, shriveled and scorched Earth at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour, the parvenu lived in space capsules, each of which had the volume of a eight-bedroom house or five Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Capable of supporting a family of 10, plus ‘floating guests’ these capsules all put together covered the area of 1654 football fields including the end zones. Stacked with the finest of foods and stocked with the most sophisticated of spirits, the floating emperors shrugged off the doom below them like ducks shrugging water off their backs.

The ’victims’ of pure chance meanwhile, were those unfortunates who had either intentionally or accidentally wedged, nudged, crammed, coiled, and got stuck in nooks and crannies, crevices and caves, attics and air vents. Physically seared by injuries and psychologically scarred by destiny, these children of a lesser God survived by scrounging, the dark streets for scraps, left overs and tolerable detritus. The sight of a child prowling an almost translucent street at night, (or was it day) passing by ghost buildings set against the backdrop of a foreboding eclipse, became a common sight. Because of the depletion and damage to the ozone layer and some orbital peculiarities caused by the global warming, the moon more frequently blocked the Sun.

(Photo Credit: pixabay image by Natan Vance)

After 25 years of chaos and calamity, an eerie calm prevailed over Earth. The spacemen, with a great deal of reluctance and a bit of rancor floated back to Earth. Immediately upon arrival, the self-proclaimed leaders of the world, divided the spatial region (or whatever was left of it) into four sovereign nations. This division was based on an equal representation of flora and fauna, fertility, finite natural resources cultivable land area and maintainable infrastructure.

The children of pure chance were shepherded into the four countries and plied with the responsibility of working both the land as well as the wishes of their Masters. Forbidden to use their own names, they were all given uniform, standard and ‘harmonised’ names. The naming conventions seemed as if they had their genesis in The Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature – an internationally standardized system of names and numbers to classify traded products. A factory worker manning a lathe machine was named 10-10.6-1006.10 where 10 represented the factory, 10.6, the engineering section and 1006.10 a lathe machine. Man thus, became indistinguishable from machine. Food was severely rationed and distributed at designated intervals in packets called FATE. Leisure was strictly codified and the publication of books was a managed industry.

Specially manufactured robots patrolled the streets in self driven amphi-bots. In an example of exquisitely dripping irony, the controlled toiled long and hard in sophisticated laboratories and design centres creating their own controllers. The controlling monarchs watched derisively as the controlled dutifully set about birthing their controllers.

Till one day, when either an extremely intrepid or an extraordinarily foolish lad of 23, clandestinely mass produced copies of a revolutionary work. The author was an egregious and eccentric philosopher named Karl Popper and his book was titled, “Open Society and Its Enemies.”

This is a piece of fiction piece written for D. Wallace Peach’s monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt. 

Wednesday

(Photo Credit: Anshu Bhojnagarwala)

What was once a paean to melody was now a monument to melancholy. A perfunctory examination of rotting wood, the asymmetric smattering of mud on top and a reluctant profusion of motley crew of flowers made the top of what was earlier a piano now seem a spontaneous grave.

The keys long gone to the vagaries of nature and the vicissitudes of neglect eerily resembled elongated skeletal fingers. Yet this very lifeless piano struck terror in the hearts of the residents at the midnight hour every Wednesday by beating out an immaculate version of Chopin’s “Nocturne” in E Flat Major.

This story was written as part of the FRIDAY FICTIONEERS challenge, more about which may be found HERE

 For the complete list of entries, please click HERE

Buckshot

With sparkling eyes, and a fluffy tail, out clambered the curious fox

One furtive glance and, alas he was clasped firmly in a pair of claws

Remembering his mother’s words, “Never venture out on an Equinox”

Ruminating on his folly all the while getting closer to the bear’s steely jaws

 

The woods reverberated with the sound of buck shot

Stung by which the bear dropped the little fox

The ranger with his gun barrel still hot

Told the lucky survivor, “Today is Equinox”

Courtesy of Sammi Cox Weekend Writing Prompt#97

The Lady In Red

alley-architecture-buildings-1762185

(Photo by Ronaldo Santos from Pexels)

Thirty minutes before the downpour the sky was as clear as any object could have been after a merry scrub down. Lest I be drawn into a dialectic debate, let me hasten to clarify that the allusion was strictly metaphorical. A magnificent and almost spotless canopy of blue punctuated with a few wisps of leisurely floating clouds accorded one the deceit of a promising day.

Soon the rain came down in thick and purposeful sheets and the sheer force made the water bounce off the marble tiles surrounding the condominiums. While people with foresight and prescience unfurled their umbrellas, the more lackadaisical ones were either forced to run full tilt risking a slip, and more than a few broken bones, or to take refuge in the lobbies of residential complex.

I am not sure whether I heard the scream or the thud first. In fact, the scream might even have been the squall accompanying the rain. The steaming hot cup of tea dropped from my hands as I saw the flailing arms and legs fly past my very own eyes. My voice was hopelessly stuck in my throat. Although hurtling down at a dizzying pace, the girl seemed to be floating down in slow motion. She was all in White. White and wet. Shirt. Trouser. One wildly whirling arm even seemed to wave at me.

Contact. White turned red as I turned away. Later on, someone told me it took three days for the stains to be completely wiped out.

(Word Count: 250)

#TellTaleThursday withAnshu & Priya

For more stories for the week, please click HERE

 

Rat Race & Ruin

A Bridge 3 Far cp

(Photo Credit: Crispina Kemp)

This was a bridge over nothing and leading nowhere. The connected had long ceased to have any connection since the connectors themselves were homage to a relic. The worn and faded floorboards creaked and groaned like the scratching of a wooden chair on the floor. An ugly asymmetry revealed itself as at random intervals the nails hammered into the floorboards prised open.

A profusion of moss had made the railings it’s home. The sturdy metal beams forming what was once a delectable overhang were ravaged by the vagaries of nature and vacuity of neglect. The colour of rust displaced the original paint and a gaping hole bore into one of the pillars.

The proposed gateway to commerce neither saw exchange nor bore witness to transport. An internecine rift between the two provinces, and the play of vote bank politics had ensured that this was a bridge built too soon.

(Word Count: 149)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #17 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us – Seth Godin

Image result for Tribes Seth godin

Long before Googleplex tickled the febrile imagination of a techno-cult, a man calling himself a ‘Maverick’, instituted a set of pyretic work practices that made the global corporate culture sit up and watch. It also upended the conventional, taken-for-granted, staid run-of-the-mill approaches to work. Ricardo Semler, the CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, a Brazilian company, saw revenues under his ownership surge from US$4 million in 1982 to US$ 212 million in 2003. This was made possible, amongst others, due to a set of revolutionary work practices which set Semco apart from the rest. Workers’ share of profits was increased to 39%, management salaries were cut by 40% and employees were given the right to approve every item of expenditure. In Semler’s own words, “At Semco we did away with strictures that dictate the “hows” and created fertile soil for differences. We gave people an opportunity to test, question, and disagree. We let them determine their own futures. We let them come and go as they wanted, work at home if they wished, set their own salaries, choose their own bosses. We let them change their minds and ours, prove us wrong when we are wrong, make us humbler. Such a system relishes change, which is the only antidote to the corporate brainwashing that has consigned giant businesses with brilliant pasts to uncertain futures.”

In his best-seller, “Tribes”, Seth Godin, the founder and CEO of Squidoo and one of the world’s foremost business bloggers, talks about ‘heretics’, such as Semler who not only act as catalysts of change but also inspire an entire ‘clan’ of followers. In other words, these prophets of radical reforms lead their own “Tribes.” A tribe is simply, “any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have sought out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature.” With an explosion of technology and a dramatic reduction in the cost of computing,  a majority of the global populace not only has access to an astounding gamut of information, but also the tools required to transform the users into heretics and leaders. In other words, one can have her own “tribe.” As Mr. Godin points out, from the prolific Joel Spolsky who has altered the domain of software programming to the Grateful Dead, who have toppled received wisdom hitherto treated as gospel in the music industry on its head, harbingers of change and their faithful tribes are all around us. The prosaic methodologies which held employees and managers in a fell clutch of manuals, best practices and sacrosanct rituals are now being challenged and dangerously so by a new breed of principles that brook neither fear nor favour. This invasion of intruders is changing the world of work and leisure. “Stability is an Illusion” says Mr. Godin. “” Established 1906” used to be important. Now apparently it’s a liability.”

The standing of the heretics has undergone a sea change. “They burn heretics at the stage. They also drown them, denounce them, ignore them and hang them from the rafters. …. None of that is true anymore. Now we invite heretics to Davos. Heretics get elected to Congress. Heretics make a fortune when their companies go public. Heretics not only love their jobs; they get a private jet too.”

Drawing the readers’ attention to the work of Jerry and Monique Sternin in helping starving children, Mr. Godin emphasies on what he terms “the most important practical idea in his entire book.” “Find leaders (the heretics who are doing things differently and making change), and then amplify their work, give them a platform, and help them find followers – and things get better. They always get better.”  How does a leader go about accumulating and improving his tribe? Over to Mr. Godin: “…it takes only two things to turn a group of people into a tribe:

  • A shared interest
  • A way to communicate

The communication can be one of four kinds:

  • Leader to tribe;
  • Tribe to leader;
  • Tribe member to tribe member;
  • Tribe member to outsider

A classic example of communication nurturing tribes is the medium of Twitter. In a short burst of 280 characters, one can subtly, succinctly and strongly convey one’s intentions and since the medium being online real time the message spreads like wildfire – literally – and before one can say “Amen”, one has a million doting and eager ‘disciples’ looking up to the originator of the tweet for guidance and advice. Mr. Godin strongly urges all of us to avoid what he calls, “Sheepwalking.” Sleepwalking, “is the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line.”

Is there a particular number that forms a traction for the tribe of a leader to bloom fully? Mr. Godin explains that a leader does not actually need many follower fans as long as he she can engage and interact with the ones following her. It could be less than a dozen or a few hundred. Some of us would love to lead millions but would probably settle for 1000. In this Mr. Godin derives inspiration from Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of Wired. As Mr. Godin writes on his own blog, ““Some people will read this and immediately understand. Others will read it and start waffling over the meaning of “true.” My expansion: you need to alter what you do and how you do it so that 1,000 true fans is sufficient to make you very happy.””

Before concluding, Mr. Godin goes on to identify what he argues as constituting “the elements of leadership:”

  • Leaders challenge the status quo;
  • Leaders create a culture around their goal and involve others in that culture;
  • Leaders have an extraordinary amount of curiosity about the world they are trying to change;
  • Leaders use charisma (in a variety of forms) to attract and motivate followers;
  • Leaders communicate their vision of the future;
  • Leaders commit to a vision and make decisions based on that commitment;
  • Leaders connect their followers to one another

Jacqueline Novogratz, Gary Vaynerchuck, Mich Matthews, Thomas Barnett, Niklas Zennstrom, the founders of Lulu.com and Scott Beale all stand out because they dared to dream. They refused to be cowed down by intrinsic doubts and external fears and proceeded to live according to the dictum laid down by them. This made them leaders with a fanatical base of tribes.

As Mr. Godin reiterates each one of us have the potential to become a leader just as the ones referred to above. And yes, with our own tribes!