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A Teardrop Implodes
Second place is good enough.
I have some good news to share in a week which sorely needed it. You might recall back in May of this year I achieved a ‘highly commended’ for a (flash fiction) short story called ‘Entwined in Time’. I’m thrilled to have beaten this accolade with a second place in Hampshire Writers’ Society’s November competition.
The competition’s brief was: Write 300 words of science fiction, including an AI character.
It was related to the Society’s November session speaker’s presentation on ‘What Has AI Ever Done For Us? A Dip Into Generative Literature’. As you can imagine, this was manna from heaven for me, and you can read my entry below. I also love the judge’s comments – it’s very gratifying when a reader ‘gets’ all the little influences and references I might include in a piece of prose or poetry, no matter its length.
Finally, please note I definitely did not use use generative AI to create my piece!
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Frank tracked the tear streaking the girl’s dirty cheek. When it dripped from her chin, he dropped like a hawk into the cheap carpet, pinched thumb and index finger flicking once, twice, three times for maximum magnification. From his virtual insect-like viewpoint, the teardrop’s remains sat on fibrous red ropes; a fish-eyed lens minutely reflecting the bedroom’s sparse furniture and teenage-plastered walls.
The fragile hemisphere’s tension could collapse any second, erasing the telltale he sought. Was the girl who sat hunched on the bed, face etched with sorrow, also reflected in this wept convexity?
No, she wasn’t.
“Gotcha!” cried Frank, pushing back in his office chair, fist pumping.
“You’re on a roll this morning,” Pete remarked from the adjoining desk, peering at a well-dressed man unfastening his shirt.
“This one’s got a new author mod. Took a minute to spot, but I’m on it. Want to hear the happy ending?”
“I insist,” said Pete, eyes unwavering.
Frank’s fingers pinched and swiped, returning the girl to centre-stage. “So long, darlin’,” he muttered.
Was the girl who sat hunched on the bed… also reflected in this wept convexity?
Adjusting his headset, he addressed the target, forehead creased with tender concern: “Don’t worry, love,” he said. “You’ll be safe.”
Her head lifted. “You believe me?” she asked, eyes wide with hope.
“’Course I do, sweetheart. I’ll send every word I’ve got. How’s that sound?”
“Oh, Frank! You’re so kind. How can I ever repay you?”
“By dying, you bootleggin’ bot,” Frank said, his finger stabbing the keyboard’s kill button.
His desk’s speakers emitted a piercing shriek as the girl and her room collapsed into a singular red dot. Frank glanced up at the large office monitor as a cheery ping announced his latest tally. Today was going well.
“Nice one,” said Pete. “Four dead poets and doughnuts not gone.”
“You can’t beat the human touch,” Frank replied, reaching for one.