Lift

car balloons

Photo credit: Vincent Bourilhon

“They’re gaining, Tomas. We need more lift. Hurry.”

“I’m trying Irma. It’s easy to imagine more balloons but hard to make them pull us up.”

Twelve-year-old Irma Ruiz was mimicking the motions of her Papa, remembering how he drove his antediluvian Rambler, putting her hands at the ten and two o’ clock positions on the wheel to steer it. The wheel was wet because of her sweaty palms and every time she looked in the rear view mirror, she saw them getting closer.

“Tomas!”

“I’m hurrying! I’m hurrying!” Her ten-year-old brother couldn’t afford to look behind them. His head was stuck out the passenger door window looking up, concentrating on visualizing an ever-growing bouquet of helium-filled balloons, red, white, yellow, green, blue, all the colors of the rainbow. He could feel the car continue to climb but they had to go faster and higher.

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Resistance

resistance

Actor Christian Bale as John Connor in the 2009 film “Terminator Salvation.”

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before. Joe Kelley had been confined in the Detention Center for nearly a week and compelled to read and view all manner of anti-Christian and progressive texts and films in an effort to “correct” his views on the existence of God and particularly the God of the Bible.

He was surprised they hadn’t simply arrested him, beaten a confession out of him (or “disappeared” him like so many of his friends), and then sentenced him to a long prison term. Then he realized that with his son Gabe being a high-ranking official on the local Public Education Council, the Progressive Enforcement (PE) Police didn’t want to embarrass him by having the news media report that his Dad had been convicted of seditious religious beliefs.

At first, his Counselor Mx Torres considered “converting” him to a state-approved inclusive Christian church, but when the psychological test results came back, the recommendation was to completely reprogram him to deny all faith in Christ.

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That Which is of Good Repute

big brother

Image from the film “Nineteen-Eighty Four (1984).

Warning: This is a work of fiction but also a controversial commentary involving social movements, political positions, and religions and it might not be considered “politically correct” by some or most. If you believe you might become upset or offended by a minority point of view (from my perspective), please stop reading now. Thank you.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NASB)

Joseph Kelley closed his Bible and sighed. “Yes, but what does the world consider true, honorable, right, and pure these days?”

He got up from his bed where he’d been reading, walked into the small closet and felt on the wall behind his jackets. There he found the hidden panel and pressed the three catches in a particular order to release it. With the panel open, he put the Bible back in alongside his concordance, a torn and aging copy of C.S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity,” and his dear departed wife’s Stone Edition Tanakh. Then he sealed the panel again and rearranged the clothes hangers so his treasure trove was again concealed.

Of course, he had memorized the contacts list for his cell of fellow believers. That was the one thing he could never commit to writing or any other record. Even if he were caught and they found his contraband, they would (hopefully) believe he was a rogue and not part of a larger group or fellowship.

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A Not Entirely Objective Book Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

handmaid

Promotional image for Hulu’s television series “The Handmaid’s Tale

I just finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I can tell you it’s not a book you review without doing a bit of research. Of course I knew that going in.

I’ve been peripherally aware of both Atwood’s novel and the television series on Hulu but didn’t give either much attention. Then I read a few stories about this year’s Women’s March and noticed in the news photos amid women dressed in vagina hats and full-body vagina costumes, there were groups who wore the red and white wardrobe of the handmaids (I assume the protestors’ inspiration was more the TV series than the book but I have nothing with which to back that opinion).

Since the Women’s March largely is a protest against the administration of President Donald Trump, I became curious as to the connection (I already knew what the vagina costumes were all about).

Fortunately, my local public library system had a copy, so I reserved it and when it arrived at the designated branch, I eagerly began reading. I’m going to break down this review into sections both to make it more readable and to keep things straight in my head. It’s not that I found the book itself so complex, but there are wider social implications to consider.

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The Lightbringer

light

Photo credit: Goroyboy

The day the Lightbringer walked into town felt like the best day in everyone’s lives. She was good, pure, and right. Everyone wanted to know about her and she asked the townspeople to gather in the square at noon.

“I am the Lightbringer,” she began as every man, woman, and child were held by her gaze. “I show what is light inside you, what is good, what is pure, but I also reveal the darkness. What you think is light is the darkness and what you think is darkness is the light. I will show you true light that you may purge the darkness. I am the light, you must be like me. There is no other way to the light.”

The townspeople became confused because they had been a peaceful and wholesome folk for so long, and now the Lightbringer had revealed that their wholesomeness was really the darkness. They desired to be the light, but while the Lightbringer seemed so good, should they surrender themselves to her just because she came into their town?

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of January 30, 2018 hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I’m currently reading Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel “A Handmaid’s Tale” which has spawned a film and a currently popular television show on Hulu. It depicts a dystopian future where a conservative, religious society has enslaved women, turning the fertile females into breeders and waging war against other countries that hold different belief systems. I’ll subsequently write a review after finishing the book and completing my research on Atwood’s perspectives that led to the novel’s creation.

This morning I also read an article on the ACLU’s website called Let’s Stop Sexual Harassment and Violence Before They Begin With Comprehensive Sex Ed written by Melissa Goodman, Director of the LGBTQ, Gender and Reproductive Justice Project , ACLU of Southern California. She authored the missive in support of a law in the State of California which dramatically changes sex education in the public school system starting at the kindergarten level. What I think she may have missed is what the parents of these students have to say about what their children are taught.

Regardless of how you interpreted my wee tale above, my point is that ANY political or social system taken to an extreme will become a totalitarian regime where the rights and freedoms of the citizens will be subordinate to the will of the State; a State which almost always is controlled by an elite few who are exempt from their own laws.

What I’m suggesting is that no matter how nice, sweet, cool, and beautiful someone’s “line” is and how they promise to do only good things for you if you let them rule over you, it is vitally important that you check in with your own mind, emotions, and exercise your free will. The minute you turn that over to anyone, no matter how much they say they’re a “lightbringer,” you will very likely find yourself dragged into the darkness.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Religious Defector

silhouette-interview

Found at YouTube

“We appreciate you allowing us to interview you, Mr. Kwon.”

“Not at all, Ms. Singer. It is a pleasure to be here, to be able to tell my story.”

The middle-aged gentleman was dressed casually in a button down checkered shirt and jeans. He looked uncomfortable in the television studio but the reporter, Judith Singer, tried to put him at ease.

“Just tell us your experiences in your own words.” Her tone was soft, gentle really. She leaned forward slightly to indicate interest but not enough to block the television camera. Off to one side, she could see the wall mounted monitor that displayed what the audience was seeing. The dialogue was translated and projected as subtitles because he didn’t speak the same language as most of the audience.

“My country is officially atheist. Except for the show church in the nation’s capital that tourists visit, our religion is illegal, well, all religion actually, but especially any public Christian worship.

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The Night They Burned “The Cat in the Hat”

book burning

Found at Blunderbuss Magazine

The older couple held hands and cried at the book burning party. Like everyone else in town, they were compelled by government edict to attend and witness the “liberating” event. Only State approved books were allowed in schools anymore. The State had been collecting those publications deemed “racist,” “sexist,” and every other forbidden “ist” on their list and storing them in a warehouse near the town square just for this occasion.

Fortunately, children under six were exempt from attending, so their grandkids were spared this atrocity, being cared for at home by their son.

“How did the world come to this, Jeannie? I thought book burning went out with the Nazis.”

“There are always Nazis, Mike. They’re just called by different names.”

“What a terrible world we live in.”

“At least they’re not kicking down our front door and confiscating our library.”

“That’s true, darling. But we have to keep reminding the little ones not to tell their teachers what we read to them at home.”

“Do you think it will ever get better, Mike?”

“As long as we teach Jimmy and Autumn to grow up as critical thinkers, to trust themselves and those who love them rather than the State, then yes, it will. Someday they’ll be running the nation and then it won’t be the State anymore. It’ll be a free country again.”

“We won’t live to see it, will we?”

“Probably not, Jeannie, but our grandchildren will. Our hope for the future is in them.

I haven’t gotten blatantly political on this blog in quite some time, but I read a series of stories in social media this morning that bothered me, and when I’m bothered, I process my thoughts and emotions by writing (some authors have told me they are “blocked” when they become upset which just astounds me).

It all started with a story I found on Facebook published by a conservative news agency. I had to fact check it since news organizations that lean either one direction or the other politically and socially aren’t always totally trustworthy. I found the story published by a number of venues including the Washington Post and it’s called ‘Racist propaganda’: Librarian rejects Melania Trump’s gift of Dr. Seuss books.

You can click on the link I provided above to read the story, but basically, it tells the tale of First Lady Melania Trump donating some books to what I gather to be a rather posh public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the occasion of National Read a Book Day. Apparently, the school’s librarian Liz Phipps Soerio took exception to some of the donated books, specifically those penned by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). You can read Ms. Phipps Soerio’s letter to the First Lady at The Horn Book blog.

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Rediscovering Serenity

koi pond

© Sora Sagano, Nemichi-Jinja, Seki, Japan

It had been years subjectively since Tamara had been to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, years since she’d let herself relax and stare at the serene Koi pond. For the last ten years, she struggled, on the run, hiding from Slaver Gangs, scrounging for food, making alliances, and often being betrayed.

Then she found the bunker. She’d traveled further into the Forbidden Zone than she ever had before, further than anyone dared. The disaster that caused civilization’s collapse started here. She found a breach in the bunker that led to the Temporal Accelerator. The power source still worked. Tamara had been a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore Labs before the collapse. She figured out how to opeate the controls.

She went back before the collapse, back to a more peaceful time in her life, a time when her Mom and Dad used to take her here, to this pond, to the Zen Garden. She used the time machine to send her on a one-way trip to the past. Tears streamed down her face as she watched her parents holding her hands. She was only five years old. “I miss you both so much.”

I wrote this small piece of flash fiction in response to the Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner – 2017 Week #05 challenge. The photo prompt is at the top of this page.

Stories can’t be more than 200 words and mine comes in at 197.

To read other stories based on this prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

Tales From The Dystopia: Training The Toxic Dog

woman walking man

Image: YouTube

Carl Jason had been wandering in the woods for three days when he saw the lights through the trees. He’d gone for a hike away from the camp and became disoriented. He had a knife, so he cut fir branches to cover himself at night so he didn’t freeze as he slept. He knew something about the local plants, so he at least got some small amount of nourishment.

The lights, it was near sunset and he might have missed them in full daylight. As the trees thinned and he stepped out onto a grassy field, he saw it was a complex of buildings, like a business park or something. He hoped there was still someone around. He needed to phone home. His brothers and Dad must have gotten frantic when he didn’t return to their camp.

It was an annual tradition. Carl and his brothers Mike, and Dave, all lived in different parts of the country. The only time they could be sure to reconnect with each other and Dad was during their yearly autumn camping trip.

Carl was stiff and cold. He’d tripped yesterday and collected some scrapes along with a twisted ankle. He could walk on it, but he limped and he was slow.

“Hey!” Carl saw a few people in the distance walking between two buildings. “Hey there! I need help!”

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The Revolution of 2030

riot

Image: Mark Graves / The Oregonian / Associated Press

“Hi. I’m Susie; she/her/hers.”

“Stop that! We don’t do that here.”

Susie cringed when the group leader Sharon snapped at her.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean…” Susie felt abruptly crushed but was determined not to shed tears, especially in front of them.

“No, I’m sorry.” Sharon realized she’d been overreacting, though she had good reason. “It’s my fault. I’m just so tired of the tyranny of those words.”

“We’re all feeling worn down by it, Shar.” Francisco chimed in wanting to calm the mood a bit.

There were twelve of them gathered in a small room in the basement of the university’s psychology building. It was nearly midnight, but being a teaching assistant, Francisco’s pass card opened the doors after hours.

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