Monday, September 6, 2010

"A Snapshot Of The World"

"I got your dozen or so messages, Wynona. What are you so fired up about that you had to blow up my cell phone with all those messages?"

"Then you still don't know, Nadine?"

"'Know what?'"

"I’ll venture that you and Clint must have been part of the two percent that weren't affected. You didn't at least listen to the radio?"

"You know damn well that Clint insisted we spend one whole week off the grid, talking about how it was going to make our lives stressful. Well, I can't tell you how worked up I am, wonderin' if the DVR recorded all of my stories and how on Earth am I ever going to catch up?"

"Well, missed out on a bunch...a whole bunch. Edgar left me."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Don't be, I'm not sure I am exactly sorry. That ain't the big news anyway. The big news is that for fifty-two hours, your mom, my mom, everyone's mom was right!"

"Stop speaking in riddles. What happened?"

"Well, Nadine, I'll try and explain it the best I can, though the USA Today or The Times- Picayune can certainly explain it better. You know how scientists have been bringing up theories about those solar flares and how they're going to disrupt cell phones and everything that has a plug or a battery?"

"Are you gonna stop taking these side trips to Tangent Street and steer us over to Relevant Avenue, Wynona?"

"Well, there was a great big solar flare and it somehow affected the neurological systems of 98% of the people in the world. Remember how your mom used to say that if you keep making that face, it will get stuck that way? Well, for fifty-two hours, that's exactly what happened to everyone. Beyond the two percent exception, that was every man, woman and child.

On TV, they called it ‘The Flare.’ And I don't know why the animals got away scot-free, but they did. You know I would've loved to see the lions down at the Zoo with their faces stuck like the MGM Lion on freeze-frame."

"I don't believe you."

"Shit, you don't have to; change the channel to CNN."

"Oh…my Lord, you're not kidding."

“Can you imagine that, Nadine? The people that were asleep when The Flare struck, couldn’t open their eyes. They were effectively blind for every minute the phenomona-”


“-Phenomenon took place. And you remember that perky little Bree Croque from high school? The one that never stopped chattering like a chipmunk and smiling all the time? One can only imagine what she was up to when The Flare happened, because I saw her down at the Piggly Wiggly and she looked like she was weaned on a pickle when she was born.”

“You’ve seen her husband; wouldn’t you make that face all the time, too?”

“Speaking of strange faces, Nadine. They say that everyone that was having sex at the time, was too scared to leave their houses. You can imagine how many people got caught doing what they weren’t supposed to be doing.”

“That, or surely more of them claimed that they were asleep, than there actually were. Speaking of which, Wynona, is that what happened with Edgar and you?”

“Well, I was at work down at the bank, and I was so distracted by watching the expressions of everyone else, that I didn’t see Edgar come in. He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk.”

“What photograph?”

“He took one of me before I left for work, and he used my damn Polaroid. He knows I’ve been saving that for special occasions, and you can’t even get the film for it on eBay anymore.”

“Again, you’re steering us away.”

“He asked me, ‘why weren’t you smiling when The Flare happened?’ I told him that I was contemplating something. Then he said, ‘you always look like this…all wistful-like. What do you have to think about? I put a roof over your head, I provide for you and that’s all you really need.’”

“Oh no, what did you say to him? Tell me you didn’t let a good man get away.”

“I told him the truth, Nadine. He does a lot of things for me, but he doesn’t make me happy. I wasn’t going to lie to him, I couldn’t…it was all in the picture. By the time I got home from work, he had everything out of the house. I can’t say I miss him much, but I can say that I’m happier. If it wasn’t for The Flare, I probably would’ve been stuck with him until one of us was in the grave.”

The End

For Friday Flash Fiction #41, The Professor came up with the starter sentence, "He walked in and slid the photograph across my desk."


David Barber said...

Nice one Cormac. Why do women think they can live without us? Probably cause they can and we'd just be goosed without them! :-)

Well written, as usual. Nice to see you taking part again.

Franklin Beaumont said...

Great stuff Cormac. A good speculative concept well explored, with humour, and told through the experiences of regular people. I always like that. Nice blog you have here.

Randal Graves said...

Men, we must band together to destroy the sun in case this ever happens and we're forced to microwave our own pork n' beans.

Very cool idea, sir.

Doc said...

Kind of makes you wonder what face you might be wearing during the day? Like the face you make when you have a hair in your mouth or have just sat on the cat.

Great take on the starter sentence. You never cease to impress the living Hell out of me.

I like the way you moved the sentence into the story. I noticed that Gabby did the same thing for #40. Now Cormac, old friend, you know I would never bust your balls over anything. I might kid you a bit, but I wouldn't take you to task. Last week after reading Gabby's entry, I went back and reread the rules over again because I thought that there was something mildly amiss. I got to rule #3.

"You will write an anecdote, short story, or novel length prose poem BEGINNING with that Friday's starter sentence." (emphasis mine)

I like the idea that we can incorporate the sentence into the story, and I'd like to try it next time, as I think it might make it easier.

I just wanted to kid you a bit, because if you can't josh the master, then who can you? Thanks again for all your time and effort in keeping FFF alive and well. I know it means alot to so many.

Yours in ink,

Joyce said...

Great story, Cormac. Makes one very mindful of the 'masks' we wear throughout each day, as well as the others we see. And Franklin made a good point about being told through the perspective of 'regular' people. Made it easy to relate to your characters.

Matt Potter said...

Oh I liked this a lot - so it's set in New Orleans? The use of dialogue only, so chatty ... but the Flare, hmmm, that was highly original and I wish I had thought that up!

chad rohrbacher said...

Great concept, Cormac. Get on over to Relevant street. :)

Poor guy -- it was all right there but it took the flare to see it.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Very well told. Good one.

Sue H said...

Very, very good! Extremely enjoyable, Cormac! What an interesting concept - being frozen in the attutude when the flare struck. Made me re-think my day, with a bit of a smile!

Cormac Brown said...


Thanks, and uh, you'd be goosed. I'd be very, very, very, angry.


Thank you for the compliments and now that Friday Flash Fiction is no more, I'll be able to swing by to your blog more often.


Thank you and hey, some of can cook...if we have to.


Thanks, and yeah, this story has too many permutations. It easily conjures another 500-700 words in moods and possibilities.

It's one of those things that JJ really wasn't a stickler about, and you'll notice from the older stuff that not everybody started out with the sentence.


Thank you. All of the frowning and scowling I have done lately and my first forehead wrinkle that came from these terrible expressions, were the basis for this.


Welcome and I'm glad you got the NO reference. Thank you, but I don't know if someone else hasn't already come up with the solar flare idea.

Paulie Decibels,

Ta and cheers!


Thank you and I'm glad that it gave you a smile.