Nodding Heads

(Image Credit: Crispina Kemp)

“It was not for no reason that the throng called it ‘Whispering Willows’.  The voice had an intonation that was seductive and a delivery that was purposeful. “The wind that was an ever constant feature used to make a whistling sound and was responsible for forming small whirlpools and eddies of leaves on the forest floor.”

There were audible gasps followed by murmurs from the audience as the monitor shifted to a video, showing in slow motion, the clockwise spiral created by the wind. Leaves which were serenely static suddenly took a life of their own and, engaged in a dance of upward movement.

“This was one of the recreations indulged in by our dense ancestors in the 21st Century.” the voice concluded with a dangerous finality as the lights came back on and the heads connected to each of their personal machines, nodded in utter disbelief.

(Word Count: 147)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #52 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.

 

Pattern Recognition

“Flower”, the screen of the sleek notebook lit up with the answer. Ray, with a degree of unrestrained exuberance coursing through his veins, typed, “Specific response required.” Within seconds, the screen glowed yet again. “Sunflower.” Hardly able to contain his excitement, Ray dragged back his chair, almost knocking it over in the process and bounded out of the room to call the University.

The research grant forked out, after being initially mired in skepticism and apprehension was now worth every penny. Reinforced learning, or Q-learning or deep learning (the nomenclature doesn’t matter) had reached its apogee. The machine could now, taking as its input, a series of disparate ‘test images’ ‘spit’ out as output the exact nature and content of the images.

Melanie, a while later ambled into the study. There was just a low hum, a murmur coming from the open laptop. A series of words were making a random pattern of lattice work against a dull and drab background:

“Knife”, “Stab”, “Ray”; “Kill”; ‘Suicide”; Robots”; “WIN”

Melanie did not comprehend this seemingly mad babble. If she had, she would have called Ray and informed him that these words were never a part of the set of ‘test images!’

(Word Count: 200)

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Donna McNicol . For more details visit HERE

To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, click HERE

Red Pill or the Blue Pill?

ssi-lights-of-jerusalem

(Photo Credit: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields)

Life literally had come full circle. A stupefying victory for Machine Learning was a humiliating loss of dignity and self esteem for humanity. Neo at least had the luxury of choosing between red and blue pills. Here the only option was submission. Surrender. Succumb.  Every white circle – visible only to the man manipulating the cursor – was a personal pad. Every person walking across the pavement had his/her own pod.  Gay or straight; Left or Right; Democrat or Republican; Jew or Buddhist. This wasn’t just information. It was fodder for influence. All at the click of a mouse.

(Word Count: 100)

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

For more stories based on the above prompt, click HERE 

Dinner over Intercom

(Image Credit: Barb Crews)

The second most scathingly dishonest environment has to be an overcrowded, cramped, noisy and impatient airport lounge, thought Siew Kuan. The first being an enclosure in a Courtroom from which one held forth. The low humming murmur of the dysfunctional air conditioner was being drowned out by a cacophony of railing expletives, genuine lamentations and flagrant bursts of anger.

You could not blame the protesting mass of passengers. Bar Mitzvah’s could not wait; neither could funerals. The banks of suspended electronic screens blinked away the fact that there was a delay in departure. However, there was no devil in the details. The reason for the delay was not communicated to the throng. All the flight authorities could offer by way of an explanation was the tried, tested, perfected and by now cliched two-word excuses, “technical snag.”

“Dinner will be served to all the passengers travelling on board Delta Airlines flight no 215, at the hospitality lounge” crackled a voice over the intercom. The disgruntled voices suddenly fell silent and rushed headlong towards the lounge. “Ah! what freebies can do to stymie genuine concerns, even if what is offered is totally disproportionate to the suffering” wondered Siew Kuan.

(Word Count: 197)

Written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction. Write a story of around 200 words based on the photo prompt given (above). Hosted by Donna McNicol . For more details visit HERE

To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, click HERE

 

Break Down the Epistemic Wall

(Photo Credit: Dale Rogerson)

The bleachers were hauntingly silent. Unlike empty vessels, empty seats make no noise. A bank of floodlights shone piercingly bright on the deserted playing court, illuminating an indecipherable scribble on the artificial arena. Yet, just a few hours ago, the atmosphere was anything but serene. A cacophony of words, a medley of insults and a menagerie of ideologies turned what was a non-decrepit high school basketball court into a clash of conflicts.

But when the dust finally settled, what came down was not just the curtains, but epistemic walls, information bubbles and Echo Chambers. Racism was OUT; Neighbours were IN!

(Word Count: 100)

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

For more stories based on the above prompt, click HERE 

Love at the end of the Line

(Photo Credit: Na’ama Yehuda)

No one knew what was awaiting them at the end of the queue. The people lining up were instinctively paying obeisance to the attribute of herd mentality.  Umbrellas of various hues and colours kept the rain at bay as their wielders stood undaunted and unfazed. Baseball caps and bald heads craned their impatient necks and shuffled their impertinent feet. But what were the collective bodies looking for?

Venky with neither cap nor umbrella stood watching the spectacle. “Join us brother” screamed a voice. “I will when you tell me you found love at the end of the line” replied Venky.

(Word Count: 100)

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

For more stories based on the above prompt, click HERE 

The Philharmoknee!

(Image Credit: Crispina Kemp)

Just as he ascended the last of the steps, a lacerating pain shot through the left knee of Venky. White, lancing and dizzying. Before he could realise his legs buckled under him and he collapsed in a heap clutching at his affected knee. An involuntary wail escaped his lips.

“You seem to have done it really bad” a mellifluous voice, wafted towards him. A handsome middle aged man, with a frail but immaculate build stood over Venky. Before waiting for a reply, the man bent down and gently rolled his right palm in an anti-clockwise motion around Venky’s knee. The pain vanished miraculously.

The ‘miracle-man’ accompanied Venky, – who by this time had become effusive in both talk and praise – down the steps.  Siew Kuan, just entering the park, greeted Venky cheerfully, before knitting an eyebrow and wondering out loud, “how come you are walking all alone this evening?”

(Word Count: 150)

Written as part of the Crimson’s Creative Challenge #46 More details regarding this challenge may be found HERE.