Monday Flash Fic: The Lesson

When this photo was first put up in the group, I took one look and thought Not gonna do this one, either. Doesn’t speak to me.

But Sunday morning, I was reading some SF, this photo popped into my head, and I instantly knew what I wanted to write.

This is what I love about these flash fics: they force me to look at things askew, approach them in unexpected ways, and I love that! I love challenging myself to come up with something entertaining and different in less than five hundred words.

Word count: 496
Genre: SF

The Lesson

lasso manAs soon as the students plugged into their learning units, I put up the photo. “Can anyone tell me what this is?”

There was collective quiet in my audio ports for one long minute as they studied the picture on their individual displays at home. I watched their expressions, making a note that Dir was secretly playing a game instead of paying attention. A sternly worded reprimand would be flashed to his parents before this lesson concluded.

I’d known they would be mystified. “This is what was known in The Great Past as a cowboy. Would anyone like to venture a guess as to what he’s doing?”

Eden, my brightest student, said, “Pulling something?”

I swallowed my snicker. After all, how would they know? According to my data banks, cowboys hadn’t existed in over three hundred years. “He’s holding a rope.  It was his job to capture animals by throwing that at them.”

“Did it stun them or something?” Balfour asked, frowning.

cowboy_lassoI put up another picture. “See the loop at the end of the rope? The cowboy tossed that over the head of the animal and pulled it tight.”

“Wow, that’s mean,” Balfour said.

“What kind of animal is that?” Eden asked.

“It was known as a horse. Cowboys sat on their backs, and the horse was forced take them somewhere.”

They groaned in disbelief, and Cory snorted and said, “That sounds dumb. Who would treat an animal that way? Do that now, and they put you in stasis forever.”

“Our ancestors weren’t very smart,” I pointed out. “When the planet’s climate changed, they did nothing to make it stop, and eventually 93.7% of the people and 97.9% of the animals died.” They already knew this, but it was part of my programming to pound it into their little heads, lest something similar happen again. “Many died of starvation and thirst, and others expired because of widespread disease. Then there were the endless wars. It was a horrible time, and we study it so we do not make the same mistakes they did.”

“I’m glad I didn’t live then,” Eden announced with absolute conviction.

“Me too!” her fellow students chimed in.

I taught them about cowboys and the awful thing that rodeos were–terrible animal abuse!–and killing animals for food. That made them cry out in horror, and they refused to believe me until I put up pictures of slaughterhouses. They would appreciate their food much more now, knowing it was made synthetically and did not come from a living creature.

“Well, students, it’s been an instructive morning. I think we can all agree things are much better now.” They yelled enthusiastically, all except Dir, who had been scolded by his parents and removed from the learning unit as punishment. He would return tomorrow, suitably chastened. “Enjoy your lunch and exercise period. I’ll see you back here after the allotted time.”

Each one disconnected, their images going dark on my internal screens, and I put myself in sleep mode for exactly two hours.


Be sure and check out flash fic written by others here.


About Fenraven

Fenraven happily lives in south Florida, where it is really hot most of the year. Find him on Twitter, Google +, and Facebook by searching on 'fenraven'.
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27 Responses to Monday Flash Fic: The Lesson

  1. Helena Stone says:

    That is indeed something completely different, wow. I like it although I’m not sure how much I like your vision of the future – not the destruction of our world nor what’s left afterwards. But it did make for fascinating reading.

  2. Oooh, love the unique take on things! Although I agree with Helena about your grim view of the future. It’s far too plausible to feel comfortable with. Beautifully done.

    • Thanks. I honestly don’t see how we’re going to escape a future similar to this one when our leaders refuse to tackle climate change head-on. The ostrich syndrome is going to destroy so much of our planet. 😦

  3. Allison says:

    “…but it was part of my programming to pound it into their little heads…” Sounds rather like a religion… 😉

    Great way to take this in a totally different path!

  4. I laughed from beginning to end. Written in TRUE first person. Glad to see you survive the acopalypse. Why aren’t you writing SF?

  5. karihiga says:

    I really want to know more about this world. Will there be more in this setting?

  6. AnnAlaskan says:

    I don’t usually like apocalyptic stories or movies because in reality, everyone is ignoring our dying caged canary! But two exceptions are the movies Escape from New York & Escape from LA! I liked reading your take on the results of mass apathy! Would read the resulting long book if you ever decide to pursue this thought.

  7. Patricia says:

    I have a distinct problem with the Meat Thing. Steak, seared, and aromatic, with black peppercorns. But, a beautiful story. I love science fiction and I loved your characters’ interactions. A good alternative universe.

  8. Patricia says:

    Oh duh. I didn’t see he was an AI.

  9. Patricia says:

    More…..”our ancestors weren’t very smart,” says AI. So AI is partly human? Mind transfer? Oh the possibilities..

  10. A.M.B. says:

    This is a great story! I’d love to read more about this world. I particularly liked the twist at the end.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Very difficult telling any kind of coherent story in under 500 words. 🙂 I’m always pleased when it works.

      • A.M.B. says:

        You did a great job. I wouldn’t mind reading a whole book about this world…

        • Oy! If only I had the time!

          In an attempt to write faster, I’m trying Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I only installed it yesterday, and a transition is required (thought/typing to thought/speaking), but I’m going to give it a good shot before giving up. I dictated a little yesterday, and the results are promising.

          • A.M.B. says:

            My husband keeps telling me I should dictate, but I do most of my writing with lots of people around me (so I can’t talk out loud). He uses a dictation device for work and finds it really useful (his legal practice is very writing heavy).

            Good luck adjusting to NaturallySpeaking!

          • *fingers crossed* It helps I write visually. I just have to learn how to translate that into words. 🙂

  11. Lindsaysf says:

    Sci Fi from the point of view of the AI – love it!

    • I try to come up with different angles. 🙂 Between you and me (and everyone else here)? I’m bored with romance. I’d like to explore different genres, and even though romance is often a part of the story, I don’t want it to be the entire point. Meh, ya know?

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