Friday Flash Fiction: Baubles

There’s a bit of a story behind this week’s flash.

Justin suggested a themed Flash this week along the lines of positive SF with a seasonal spin (niche enough for ya?) and I replied with over abundant enthusiasm because I had an Idea, oh yes. Smugly, I went away and wrote my idea out as a draft. Then I did it again for good measure. It was no good, no matter how I sliced it, my idea was too big for a piece of flash and needed more work than I had time left. I needed to come up with something else, I was no longer smug.

That was last night.

This morning I managed to claw the story below from my semi-concious brain. I hope enjoy this departure from my normal stuff, *coughs nervously* here goes:

Baubles
By Neil Beynon

“Who’s switching them on this year?”

Steve turned to look at Julie next to him. The cabin smelt of cheese and onion crisps and the pain in Steve’s head was thumping in time to the music playing over the feed. Nicky scrambled from one side of the cabin to the other, pressing his face up at the glass and the inky black beyond.

“I don’t know remember the name,” Steve replied. “Some AI Nicky likes.”

“Captain Firebox,” said Nicky, without removing his face from the glass. “I’m sure that’s Sarah’s pod out there.”

Steve glanced at his proximity alarm, the id of the ship flashed.

“It’s not Nicky,” he said. “But it is a MK 6, good spot.”

Steve rubbed his eyes.

“Still got a headache?” asked Julie.

He nodded.

“Have you taken anything?”

“I don’t like to,” he said. “I hate taking that stuff, it knocks me out.”

“Well, I don’t want to drive,” she said. “Not in this.” She looked out at the array of craft sitting in orbit.

“I thought you’d say that,” Steve replied.

“I’m just not good with heavy traffic,” she replied.

“It was your idea to come,” he answered, looking up at the earth.

The planet sat there like a blue Christmas bauble, the occasional passing satellite reflecting light from the sun and flashing like tinsel.

“I don’t know why they do it,” said Steve. “You can’t improve on that.”

“Shh!” said Nicky. “They’re getting close.”

A countdown had replaced the music now and it sounded like everyone on the surface had been roped in. Steve sighed and flipped the UV filters on. It was probably safe but he’d heard stories.

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1…”

“I declare this year’s lights on,” said a voice Steve vaguely recognised from the Chinese accent as Captain Firebox.

The cabin was awash with light and in spite of the filters all three covered their eyes for a moment. As their retina adjusted their hands lowered.

“Wow,” said Nicky.

The adults remained silent.

“The Australians have done alright this year,” said Julie.

Steve nodded. “The Yanks have toned it down as well.”

More silence.

“I wonder who thought the nodding Santa head was a good idea,” said Steve.

Julie bent over in her seat, her head bobbing down near the controls of their craft before returning to her original position.

“Its eyes follow you wherever you go,” she said. “It’s freaky.”

“Holos,” said Nicky.

“It wasn’t like this when I was a kid,” said Steve. “Look: they even have a coke logo on his hood.”

“Well that is their version,” said Julie.

“I guess,” Steve replied. “I don’t think people remember what this time of year is meant to be about.”

“Dad?”

“Yes Nicky?”

“Can we go to Grandma’s now?”

Julie smiled and looked away from Steve. Steve nodded, a faint smile ghosting his lips as he reached for the controls.

“Sure Nicky.”

************

I’m not sure who else is in for the theme this week, or the meme more generally but be sure to check Futurismic out later for a round up of F3 for this week and other free fiction on the web. GLP’s flash for this week can be read here. You can read Shaun’s here.

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