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
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.
“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.