So apparently, penmonkey Chuck Wendig just passed five thousand followers over there on the Twitters, and to mark the occasion, he’s holding a contest. Entering is simple — you just have to write a story in three sentences.
I have written a piece for one of his Flash Fiction challenges before, and there have been a couple more since that I’ve meant to write something for, but just couldn’t find the time to scratch out a measly thousand words.
But three sentences? Yeah, I think I can take time out of my busy schedule to sit down and knock three sentences together.
Here’s my entry, in its entirety:
It took me weeks of searching, but I finally found the girl from the “MISSING” posters, the girl with the sky blue eyes and the blond hair as soft as sunlight, and rescued her from her kidnappers. “My father has money,” she tells me, “he’d make you rich if you’ll just take me home,” but I just know someday, she’ll learn to like it here. I read the posters very carefully, and they just said she was missing — they never said I had to give her back.
You should go check out other people’s entries, too, at his post: The Big Five Triple-Oh. People are doing some pretty clever stuff.
(Here’s a little bit of flash-fiction for you, an 878-word story written for Chuck Wendig’s “Irregular Creatures” challenge. Enjoy.)
It was dreaming, he supposed. Eyes darting back and forth under closed eyelids. The set of the eyes, the mouth, the shape of the face — all of it was a close match for his own face, the skin just a shade lighter than his own. From there, all resemblance fell away.
The torso was about half-sized, and asymmetrical. Two small legs, fused together, ended in perfect, tiny feet. The left arm was jointed in too many places, and the right not at all. Neither one ended in anything that could even charitably be called hands. He’d had trouble figuring out where to put the I.V.
Subject Zero had been his perfect twin. Subject Fourteen he could hardly stand to look at, but he made himself keep his detachment. They’d all been made by the same process — his own stem-cells introduced to self-replicating quantum foam, his memories impressed on the newly-formed brain by neural resonance. Each new iteration drifted farther and farther away from the baseline, as he introduced new variables, new deviations.
He’d done this hundreds of times. Joanna hadn’t understood. She understood the idea of it well enough — take a subject that has some illness, or some congenital defect that you’re trying to eliminate, and copy it. Change the copy, study the differences, try to find the key to eliminate the problem. She followed the science. She just didn’t agree with it, no matter how many times he’d tried to tell her that the ethics committees had ruled that vat-grown sims were not technically alive.
Their disagreements had been mild, almost academic, so long as he’d been doing this procedure with mice, with lab rats. She started arguing with him more when he’d moved on to dogs and primates, and it all finally degenerated into screaming arguments when the human trials started.
He’d been convinced he was right, that she’d come around eventually. He was completely unprepared the night he’d come home to find her gone, to find she’d moved all her belongings out without a word to him. He had stood there staring at the disarray, not understanding it at first, thinking they’d been robbed, calling out her name again and again until it stopped even sounding like a word to him.
He lifted his glasses. He screwed his eyes tight shut and rubbed them with his other hand, trying to dismiss the memory, ignore the headache. He took another sip of his coffee and looked back at the monitors, stole another glance at the sim through the one-way glass. It was moving fitfully, half-awake now, struggling faintly against the straps holding it to the bed.
Yawning, he double-checked that all the data was being saved directly to his own encrypted folder and not in the central stores. He wasn’t going to be able to keep this up much longer. The more sleepless nights he spent in the lab, the more careless he was going to get, and he was going to get caught.
He had to do this himself. No one else could find out. No one else was going to understand what was killing him.
Pulse and respiration were up. It was nearly awake. He turned out the lights in the main lab, switched the monitors to infrared, ultraviolet. He turned on the voice simulator, cracked his knuckles, and started typing.
“Sweetheart?” the voice simulator said for him. “Are you awake?”
He closed his eyes again. He’d spent weeks coding and tuning that voice, until it was perfect.
The sim tried to sit up. Its eyes were open now, and he wondered distantly if they were the same color as his own. He would find out in the autopsy.
“Joanna?” the sim said. The voice was hoarse and untried, but recognizably his own. “Joanna, is that you? Where are you? What’s going on?”
“You’re in the hospital,” he typed, and the voice spoke the words aloud. “There was an accident. You’re going to be all right.”
“You — ” The sim stopped, coughing. “You came to see me? Really?”
“Of course I did. You — ” He stopped typing, just for a second, but the hesitation probably sounded natural. “You still mean so much to me.”
“Thank you,” the sim said, its voice breaking. “Oh, God, Joanna. Thank you for coming. I’ve missed you so much.”
He looked at all the monitors. Voice stress analysis, galvanic response of the skin. All the signs were there.
“Shhh,” he typed, the voice said. “Just try to get some sleep.”
He pushed the button that flushed morphine into the sim’s system. When he was sure that it was asleep, he’d inject the air embolus that would stop its treasonous heart.
He threw his glasses down on the desk and rubbed his eyes again. He sighed and thumbed the switch on the recorder.
“Terminating Subject Fourteen. The defect has not been corrected.” It was already past midnight, but he turned his attention immediately to his notes for Subject Fifteen.
This time. It would work this time. He would find the center of it, the cause of it, and burn it out of himself. This wouldn’t be like the previous trials. This time, he told himself, the subject wouldn’t still be in love with Joanna.