Flash Fiction Faction – The Excursion

This week’s Flash Fiction Faction by Quill Shiv is a picture prompt. Head over there to read more Flash Fiction Factions.

As usual, I appreciate your comments, feedback and constructive criticisms.

Wordcount is 105.

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Samantha raised her hand but Mrs. Sweet ignored her. “We will not carry on until someone tells me how a marsh is formed.” Samantha yearned to take off her rubber boots and wade into the murky waters. She imagined the mud oozing through her ticklish toes. However her classmates thought learning was for losers, which resulted in a silent standoff between Mrs. Sweet and the class. “Me! Me,” cried Samantha impatiently. “Give the others a chance…aw!” While talking to Samantha, Mrs. Sweet took a step backwards and tripped over a rotting bridge piling. With a muddy splash, she landed on her bottom. The class broke their silence with unbridled laughter.

Forget him not

This flash fiction is inspired by the following photo prompt. the challenge is hosted by Madison Woods.

I welcome constructive criticism that’s why I am posting these pieces on a blog. 🙂 Thanks in advance.

Wordcount: 100

A barbwire fence separates me from the spot, where he took his last breath. I see the emergency crew laying him on a stretcher. They try in vain to get his heart pumping again. But his body had slammed into the steering wheel with a tremendous impact. The damage was too much for his young body to bear. Why didn’t he buckle his seatbelt? Why did he drive drunk? Why didn’t his friends stop him?

Now I stand beside the road and brave the elements to serve as a warning against the senseless loss of life. Don’t drink and drive!

Flash Fiction Faction – Abandoned

This week’s Flash Fiction Faction by Quill Shiv has the prompt:

Truly the thing that I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. –Anonymous

I made use of one of the plot ideas, I posted today for another challenge. Hope you enjoy reading it. As usual I am open to constructive criticisms.

Edit: Based on the feedback I have received from two readers, I have edited the tenses used in the original version.
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Pat throws a single red rose onto the shiny coffin, lying in its earthy grave. She wills her eyes to stay dry. A hand strokes her back; as gently as Jack had done 50 years ago.

That time she had been crying; mourning the death of her pet rabbit. A funeral was held in her parents’ garden. Jack, the neighbour’s son, had attended the ceremony. He had stroked her back – seeking to soothe her pain and hoping that she would stop sobbing. He could never bear to see her in tears. As a child, she had used it to her benefit many a time. Her reward had always been something sweet to eat.

It took another 3 years and a few broken hearts before their relationship crossed the platonic line. Pat has a clear memory of the day it happened.

She was at a classmate’s 18th birthday party. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend was present too because his new girlfriend was the birthday girl’s best friend. She would have stayed at home had she known that earlier. But she wouldn’t give her ex the satisfaction of seeing her scamper from his presence. Biting the straw in her glass of unidentifiable sickly sweet concoction, she mentally went through different ways to get her revenge.

“If looks can kill, I sure am glad not to be on the receiving end of that glare. Who is the condemned soul?”

“Jack! What are you doing here? I didn’t know you were back in town.”

“Semester holidays started yesterday. My buddy, Steve, lives here. He wanted to greet his little sis before we head to my parent’s place for a Lord of the Rings DVD marathon. You haven’t answered my question.”

Pat contemplated lying for a second. But Jack would know, if she was telling the truth or not. There were times, she was certain he had the ability to read her mind. When it came to Jack, she was an open book.

“I was thinking of ways to get my revenge against Michael.”

“And Michael is who?”

Pat told him her story. She had been going out with Michael for 6 months, when she found out that he was cheating on her. He had laughed, when she had confronted him with it. He had accused her of being conservative. According to him, she should loosen up because open relationships are common. They both looked over to Michael after she finished her tale.

“He doesn’t look that happy, if you ask me.”

“See that blonde over there, the one flirting with the guy in the football jacket? That is his girlfriend.”

“You want to kick a man, while he is lying on the ground? You are mean. So what is your revenge plan?”

“Do you want the bloody version or…”

“Let’s hear a PG version.”

“I could make him jealous by making out with my boyfriend. Remind him of what he is missing.”

“How predictable! Where is this boyfriend of yours?”

“There is a catch in this scenario. I don’t have one. Unless…”

“Unless what?”

Suddenly Pat felt shy, as she was reminded of the numerous teenage fantasies she had involving Jack. It was during a phase when she had been terribly infatuated with Jack. Her crush had faded after he moved away to attend university. But she felt it return full force as she looked into his honey brown eyes. All at once blood was rushing to her head, her heart was pounding in her ears, and butterflies were wrecking havoc in her stomach. She quickly lowered her eyes but not before Jack noticed what was going through her mind.

“Oh!… I’m fine with it. But you got to make the first move.”

Michael was nowhere in her thoughts as she leaned in towards Jack. Pat wanted to squeeze in all her past fantasies into that one moment, lest there wouldn’t be a second time. Their faces were almost touching – she could smell the minty scent of his chewing gum. She closed her eyes and let instinct take over.

“Granny? We need to go now.”

Pat opens her eyes. The happy bubble  burst, exposing her to her ultimate fear. She is single again after 45 years of marriage! Her egoistic wish has been to be the first to die because she couldn’t bear the thought of a life without Jack. But the cancer has destroyed her hope.
She is afraid of being alone. Her children have their own families and soon they would go back to their own lives. What can an old woman like her do with the rest of her life?

A single tear threatens to roll down her cheek. Pat sniffs into her handkerchief and dabbs at her eye. She prays Jack is happy wherever he was. There would be enough time to be afraid of the future after the ceremony.

Project X – Party & Peer Pressure = Bad Decisions

Yesterday I came across a news article on the death of a boy in Houston. The boy was shot multiple times and died as a result of the injuries sustained. He was one of many hundred partygoers, who had gathered in a mansion to celebrate spring break in “Project X” style. What does celebrating “Project X” style mean? It means that first you are no longer a teenager and second it is the title of a Hollywood movie released this year.

Naturally I went to IMDB to watch trailers of the movie and read up on what it was about. It actually sounds like just another teen movie, where a kid throws a birthday party at his house when his parents are out for the evening. He and his 2 friends plan on becoming popular at school because of the party. As expected lots of people turn up and the party gets out of control; things go up in flames, a person of very small stature climbs out of the oven and starts punching them in the sensitive area between their legs. In one scene, a neighbour even gets tasered when he threatens to call the cops because of the noise. This plot is not something new. I am assuming the only difference to the movies before lies in the magnitude of destruction. Lots of things are destroyed for one night of carefree fun.

Is the movie to be blamed for these teenagers’ destructive actions? Ever since it has become possible to “invite” strangers to a party via Twitter or Facebook, such parties have taken place all over the world. The teenagers simply have a cool name for their parties now. You have to admit that “Project X” sounds catchy. Teenagers have always wanted to party through the night. Flirting with the other sex probably causes the adrenalin level in the body to sky rocket. If alcohol is available, I shudder at the damage teenagers under its influence could cause. Yes, the movie is to be blamed for giving an impressionable group of teenagers ideas for such parties. No, the movie is not to be blamed because it can also be seen as portraying the vulnerable nature of teenagers and their need to belong to the “cool” group. These teenagers would have partied just as wildly and carried weapons around, even if the movie was never made.

I read an interesting article which explores the connection between age and peer influence. This article talks about a test carried out on three age groups; teenagers, young adults and adults. The aim was to discover how peer pressure influences one’s willingness to take risks. The test takers played a race on a computer. The aim was to finish the race with the quickest time possible. They had the option to stop at yellow lights, which would cause a slight delay. However the probability of maintaining control of the vehicle is high. Alternatively they could pass yellow lights without stopping. As a result, they risk driving too fast and crashing the vehicle, which would result in a longer delay. They went through this test twice. During the second run, they were told that their (same-sex) friends were watching the test from the room next door.

The teenagers were the only ones, who altered their behaviours. Physically the part of the brain that has to do with rewards became active, when they thought their friends were watching them. It is seen as the reason for their reckless behaviour in the second round. Interestingly peer pressure doesn’t only occur, when friends are bodily present. Simply the thought of friends being aware of what one does is enough to influence a teenager’s action. The scientists believe that this could provide the reason why a child, who is mature in the presence of his parents, could still act irresponsibly when with his friends.

This reminds me of some incidents in Germany, where kids beat up complete strangers in the public. They acted in groups and not all regretted what they had done. This apparent callousness frightens me. Is it futile to hope that teenagers behave sensibly even in the company of their friends? But there are still some well-behaved teenagers in this world, right? What causes them to behave well? Well-behaved friends? Something else? Do you have teenage kids? What is your experience?

Related Articles

1.http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/03/teenagers-friends-and-bad-decisions/

2. http://abcnews.go.com/US/project-movie-inspires-teen-parties/story?id=15922034#.T2NbY_XLsw9

Neglected by evolution or man’s own doing?

What do the following biblical characters have in common apart from the fact that their related by blood; Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech and Noah? They are also known as the Antediluvian Patriarchs, which translates as Scriptural Fathers of the Pre-Flood Age. According to the bible, they all lived to be a couple of hundred years old. That was my first thought when I read the synopsis of a TED talk under the theme; “Might you live a great deal longer?”

This is the final post on an unintentional series about ageing. I have written about immortality, the youth culture and the final act. Today’s post looks at Aubrey de Grey’s assertion that the first human beings to live to a 1000 years have already been born. The British researcher on gerontology claims that we need to develop treatments that repair the damage caused by ageing and thereby delaying pathology. Below you will find the video of his TED talk. However be warned that he talks really fast and packs a whole lot of information into 18 minutes.

Basically Aubrey claims that ageing leads to pathology because of physical damages accumulating in our body. He identifies 7 areas where this damage occurs; Cell loss/atrophy, Death-resistant cell, Nuclear Mutations and Epimutations, Mt DNA mutations, Protein crosslinks, Junk inside cells and Junk outside cells. (These points were listed on a slide Aubrey used during the talk – 16th minute.) I need an encyclopaedia to make sense of some of these points. But the gist of it is metabolism damages our cellular structures, which culminates in death.

Aubrey proposes that it is possible to repair the damage through treatments. He says that anti-ageing treatments would keep improving and treat people before they enter the certain death phase and thereby increasing their life duration century by century. As a result of these continuous treatment improvements it would be possible to reach a life span of a thousand years. However we need to invest in the research of such treatments immediately, if we want to experience longevity to this extent.

In the Q&A session after the talk, Aubrey stressed that ageing is not the result of selection. In his opinion, evolution has neglected to find a way to resolve mortality because it would require too much energy and more sophisticated genes. In other words, if evolution were more hardworking we probably would be immortals by now.

This brings me back to the topic of the Antediluvian Patriarchs. I probably would get to hear that the bible is a fictional work and thus not a fitting reference when trying to find answers to a scientific question. Since this is my post, we will stick to the assumption that the Antediluvian Patriarchs had existed. The last of this group, Noah, supposedly lived up to 950 years. Therefore according to the bible, men started out with life spans of almost 1000 years. However after Noah, the life span continually decreased until King Solomon only lived to be about 70 years old. According to WHO statistics from the year 2009 the median life expectancy is at 71 years. It would seem that human life expectancy has been constant for thousands of years.

Why has the time we spend on earth shortened after Noah? It would appear that sin and men distancing themselves from God led to a drastic cleansing through the flood. Noah was the chosen one to start a new civilisation on earth. However this new world became tainted by sin too.

Since I believe in the existence of God, I do not find it too farfetched to assume that God’s original creation had very sophisticated genes. However the quality of genes deteriorated overtime as a result of our indulgence in activities harmful to our physical wellbeing. Therefore I think it is plausible to undo these damages through advanced medical treatments.

Do I think this is the right time to invest in such medical treatments? No. In my opinion, if such treatments were available now, it would only benefit the rich. After all, we have vaccinations for diseases that still kill thousands of children in the third world country. The reason for their death is lack of money, which bars their access to the medication. Thus you can imagine how it would be, if it were possible to live for centuries. It would be naive to assume that such treatments would be free of charge.

What do you think?

Related Articles
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antediluvian
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriarchs_%28Bible%29#Antediluvian_Patriarchs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah
http://www.biblestudy.org/maps/life-span-of-bible-patriarchs-before-after-the-flood.html
http://www.who.int/healthinfo/statistics/mortality_life_tables/en/index.html

After my death, please post this on Facebook

I am dead.:-)

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your Facebook page after you die? While researching about algorithms used by Facebook, I came across an app “If I Die”. This app enables the user to upload a post or video that will be published post mortem. The death has to be confirmed by 3 trustee friends named by the user when he uploads this message. Continue reading

The attraction of immortality

If you had the choice, like Bella Swan did in the Twilight series, would you choose to remain a mortal or become an immortal? The decision was easy for Bella. The first and most important reason is that she is in love with Edward. As we all know, divorces only happen to other people. Also in her case vampire-human divorces literally do not happen because once the love is gone the human mate becomes the meal. Continue reading