7-day challenge

Background: This set of 4 short stories were written for a competition. Competitors had to complete all the stories within 7 days. (These 4 were done in 4 days). Each had strict parameters to adhere to and these are described at the start of each story. The common theme throughout the set is the words, “It Rolled”


Rules for this story: Describe why the man in the picture in handcuffs was arrested. Words allowed: 750,  Used: 750

The crime of Science –  (Caught out)

“If it please your Worship” prosecution advocate Grant Walker was summarizing “it is clear from what we have heard in this court that the accused stands guilty as charged of committing the crime of ‘Science’. We strongly believe that he should also be convicted on the alternative charge of ‘Aiding and abetting people conspiring to commit Science’.

Through his direct actions, electromechanical devices took over the functions of human beings to the extent that humans became less and less needed. Not only did automated systems start to run the world but they started to do so for the benefit of machines at the cost of mankind. We have heard how first thousands and later millions of people became unable to work in a machine dominated world and how many of them starved and even died as a result. We have also heard that the machine systems did not care, and that humans became increasingly marginalized.

The accused, Darren Henry Parsons, was not only a scientist in the forefront of developing machine systems but even boasted that he held senior positions in organisations that had been banned under the ‘Normalization Act of 2053 and its regulations’. We implore the court to take the full impact of this heinous behaviour into account and to impose the maximum possible penalty. This undesirable individual must not only be removed from society but his sentence must stand as a warning to others who may harbour treasonous thinking of similar nature.”

Defense advocate Easton Masters had a different perspective on the case. “Your Worship, my client is a kind and benevolent man who has used his great learning to try to overcome failing human systems and advance electro-mechanical devices. If used correctly, these would enable mankind to produce more food and raise general standards of living. It is only due to the ignorance of ill-informed and badly trained officials that things have progressed in negative ways. The development work my client was involved in was done in the interests of mankind and not to destroy him. I put it to the court that Darren Henry Parsons should be declared a world hero and not a criminal. We should award him a Nobel Prize, not try him as a petty offender.”

When Judge Fotheringham spoke, it was with the authority of a man who knew and understood the pain of life. His voice came from somewhere deep inside him and his words were filled with gravitas. “Darren Henry Parsons, this court accepts that your intentions were not necessarily anti-social but we cannot allow citizens to impose their own reasoning in contravention of the rulings and statutes of society. Your flagrant refusal to be governed by world law and to conform to the requirements of societal wisdom means that you are and would remain a threat to continued civilization.

I find you guilty of committing ‘Science’ and for this crime I sentence you to retraining on the state farm in the Yellow Mountains. I also find you guilty of the crime of ‘Aiding and abetting people conspiring to commit science’. This is a very serious offence because experience has taught us that people who have failed in this way are almost never successfully rehabilitated.

You will be taken from this court room and transported to the state farm where you will spend the remainder of your natural life. You will be required to till the soil under supervision in order to earn your living. You will not have access to any automated electronic or mechanical equipment or apparatus of any type that has been outlawed under the provisions of the ‘Normalization Act of 2053’. May humanity forgive you.”

Darren Parsons stood in front of his tiny cottage on the state farm in the Orange Mountains where he had managed to adjust to his life as a prisoner of the world order. He surveyed the landscape that fell away below the front of his small plot. It was attractive countryside with rolling hills and grasslands.

The state had taken his freedom but they could not take his mind or his thoughts of how he planned to build a flying machine that would carry him down over the valleys and eventually over the fences. In his mind there were no fences. He dreamed of a free space where science worked again for humankind and his imagination seemed to him to soar into the distance and to just keep rolling, rolling on, as if forever.

Rules for this story: Picture was of a female model lying on the bonnet of a car. Tell why she is missing and what became of her. Words allowed: 750,  Used: 750

Eardrops

“It’s a positive make sir.” Forensics expert Conan Simon’s voice was excited. “That teardrop earring is definitely from the stolen “Bijorhca jewellery collection.” “Excellent” answered Chief inspector Judd. Now find out where this model was at the time of the heist” “Ah well sir, that’s tricky. You see sir, at the time of the robbery she was posing on the bonnet of this car exactly as you see her here in this advertisement”

“Well bring her in. We need to talk to her.” “She can’t be found Sir – she’s missing” Sure enough the advertising picture of Erin Hutton taken in London was time stamped within minutes of that of the security camera recordings of the daring jewel robbery at the Louvre museum in Paris. The earring was a dead give-away to the experts who could identify it beyond doubt – but how it got into Erin Hutton’s possession before it was even stolen and why she was not available to ask, was anybody’s guess. Chief inspector Philip Judd took the red-eye flight into Charles de Gaulle. He was driven straight to the ‘Bijorhca jewellery show’ in the Musée du Louvre for the meeting that had been set up for him with the chief security officer there. After exchanging credentials they started viewing the video recordings of the robbery that had been staged three days earlier. It had taken place shortly after the exhibition closed for the evening. The security guards had checked every room to be sure that no one was still in the building and the doors had all been locked. But moments before the alarms could be armed, a giant painting swung away from the wall and three masked and heavily armed gunmen burst out of the closet sized store room behind it. They worked cleanly and professionally smashing open display cases and were out in the street and gone with the wind before anybody really understood what was happening. One thing was for sure. There was no slim female photographic model amidst the robbers. According to the records, the teardrop pearl earrings would definitely have been amongst the stolen items. Inspector Judd was confused and Inspector Judd could not sleep. In the morning he called for the pictures that had been taken of all the exhibition cases by a professional photographer. As he scrutinized them meticulously, it slowly dawned on him that the pearl earrings did not appear in any of the displays. They must already have been missing when the photographs were taken. Back in London, Inspector Judd studied the report on the recent comings and goings of Erin Hutton. She had done a lot of modelling in Paris recently and had met a young man there. That’s when Judd had his breakthrough insight. In a moment he was on the telephone calling for information on the doings of one Pierre Lefebvre, a guard at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.  The answers came back to him swiftly and he was not unduly surprised. Pierre Lefebvre had taken leave from the museum on short notice and could not be contacted at that time. A strategic call to Interpol again produced a quick result. Lefebvre and a female companion were held for questioning at Geneva airport. And yes, she did have the stolen earrings in her possession. In Geneva, Chief Inspector Judd’s lifelong friend Florian Altermatt smiled to himself about his canny colleague in London, and watched as the Boeing 737- 800 accelerated down the runway, bound for New Zealand. It seemed to him to roll, and just keep rolling, on and on, as if forever.   (600 words)                              (600 allowed)


Rules for this story:Tell about the secret of the Cathedral.  Words Allowed: 750  Used 712

The voice of the organ

Elon Padrich died as he had always lived, at the keyboard of the Sebastian Theater organ. No one knew for certain exactly at which moment his life force left his body.  The doctors believe however that it happened during his rendering of the magnificent crescendo in the Bach prelude and fugue in E flat major. The enraptured audience never heard him die because the organ played on.

The golden pipes of the majestic instrument continued to build their resonance till it seemed as if the very roof of the old theater would lift from its pillars. And when at last the final chords had rumbled to the heavens and the haunting vibrations had ebbed away, there was total silence. For a long time nobody moved. They had all been transported by the music. Eventually the thunderous applause started and seemed to well up and roll out through the streets of the town. It is claimed they heard the clapping as far away as Wentbridge, some 15 Km down the valley.

The next concert at the theatre was scheduled only three weeks later and so till then, nothing really happened. There was speculation though and loose talk germinated and swelled in the city streets. When the day arrived for the much vaunted concert to be delivered by the famous Frederick Evonatch, the people booked eagerly and on the night the house was packed. The star guest was presented and after sipping from a glass of water and cracking his knuckles towards the audience, he seated himself at the keyboard. He lifted his hands in a dramatic gesture and brought them down on the keys – but all that issued from the pipes was a sort of bleating sound. The musician was clearly shocked. But he cleared his throat, raised his hands again and started his concert once more. It was to no avail. The organ would not play. An emergency intermission was called and the technicians rushed to the scene. They checked the pumps and the air system and then they inspected the keyboard and the valves that allowed the air to reach the pipes. After half an hour they declared that the problem was too complex to resolve immediately and to the chagrin of the soloist and the audience, the concert had to be postponed.

The service people spent the next two days working on the organ installation but conceded at last that the dysfunction arose from deep seated causes. It was probably the combination result of aging of many of the moving parts of the system. The cost would be more than the budget could ever provide and the theater was faced with desperately trying to schedule performances that did not need the great instrument. In the meantime, rumours in the town were running rife.

“I tell you he sold his soul to the devil” said old Fred Mathews to his cronies in the ‘bull & Bridle’.

“Ar!” Said wee Charlie knowingly. “He was always a strange ‘un old Elon.”

“Ay!“ Mumbled Fred. “I ‘eard that he held séances in that cottage of his down by the river. Strange dealings went down there no doubt”

The rumours were just talk but eventually to quash them, the Very Reverend Stephen Olkers was asked to come to the theater and exorcise any spirits that may have been there. He came and brought his Bible and his Holy water and prayed in the theater and flicked his water about. He mouthed incantations and when he was done he pronounced that the demons had been vanquished and the organ was back to normal. And so it seemed to be. Concerts resumed and the organ appeared to have found its voice again although none of the invited performers ever felt that they were able to coax the sound they expected from the wonderful old instrument.

This all happened a long time ago but the story goes that to this very day, if one walks in the ‘Tumblehome woods’ after dark, the ground sometimes trembles – and if one listens carefully, the big bass sounds of the Bach cantata seem to reverberate in the clouds and tumble on down into the valley where they just keep rolling, rolling on, as if forever.

(712 words)                      (750 allowed)

Rules for this story: 100 word limit short story starting with ‘It rolled’

It rolled, smashed into giant boulders, spun back up, hung for a moment in mid-air and then crashed down again, rolling ever onward. Inside the car, each still strapped into their seats, Angie and Paul saw clouds spinning, water, sky and blinding light. They felt their bodies breaking and they shook with each terrible impact. Hard ground blurred as they thundered down towards the ocean. No fear now – nor moment for regret.  in that wheeling, jarring incredibly real instant, love clutched each heart and filled it with a beautiful and perfect understanding that they were about to die – together.

(100 words)                    (100 allowed)