Technovision

We all stare at our phones, laptops and televisions more than we probably should. But what happens when the screens have made us go blind? Describe a morning where you’ve lost your sight and are forced to find your way to work without your eyesight. Don’t forget: everyone else is blind, too!

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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139 thoughts on “Technovision

  1. cl91

    BZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZ BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
    The alarm rings as my hand feels for the button. ‘Dang, it’s still dark…really dark.’

    I sit up in the bed and look around….blackness. What the……I touch my face…panicking…I can’t see. What’s going on?????

    I kick the covers back and turn to dangle my feet off the side of the bed. Blackness surrounds me. My heart is racing….what do I do? I reach for the radio, thank-goodness I keep that old alarm clock beside my bed and it has a radio on it. I turn it on as the man says, ‘…last days…people have lost their sight. Many have called in and said they cannot see. Is this a sign?’

    ‘Sign, sign….pooey,’ I fumble around on the nightstand for my phone. Okay, thank-goodness it is voice activated…I can see the phone in my head, clear as a bell, and I run my fingers along the keys to hit the voice button.

    “Text mom”, I say, trying to be calm.

    “Mom, it’s Macy. I can’t see. If you get this please call me. I love you…I’m scared.”
    My finger finds the send button.

    ‘Okay, what next….I can do this. I didn’t take years of karate lessons to not be able to navigate through my own home.’

    My feet hit the cool floor and I slowly imagine my room in my head. Using my big toe I glide it in front of me so I won’t trip over anything and I make my way to the shower.
    ‘I can do this.’

    After I’m dressed, I take a deep breath and picture my room in my head. I turn towards the door and ever so carefully I make my way out and down my stairs.

    ‘I can do this.’ My foot feels the fluffy fur of RazorCat as I go to the kitchen. I know he’s laying on the floor so I lightly push him out of the way, ‘Sorry buddy.’

    With my phone in my hand I find the refrigerator and get my smoothie. I can feel the shape of the bottle.
    I feel my way to the kitchen island and sit down. ‘I can do this….but what now?’

    My phone rings, “MACY, IT’S MOM, CAN YOU HEAR ME?”
    “Geeze mom, I’m blind, not deaf! I can hear you!”
    “Thank God! Are you okay?”

    “Yea, I took my shower and I’m in the kitchen drinking my smoothie, but I’m blind. I can’t see anything, just black. I don’t know what is wrong with me.”

    “Stay calm, Macy. It’s because of your work…working on your computer, constantly on your computer or looking at your phone screen. Everybody who stares at a computer screen is going blind.”

    “Seriously? Blind?” I chuckle, “Ha…I guess that means you’re safe, huh, mom?”

    “Don’t joke around at a time like this. Yes, I’m safe. I’m so sorry, babygirl. We will get you fixed.”

    “Well mom, it looks like you were right to steer clear of electronics! What can I do? I can’t see a thing.”

    “I’m coming to get you, Macy. I’m taking you to see the eye doctor. They are saying there’s a way to get your sight back. Don’t worry. I’ll be there in a jiffy. I love you.”

    “Love you, too, mom…thanks. I’ll just watch some TV while I wait…”

    “MACY!!!

  2. H.M Thu

    6:00 AM
    The alarm is ringing loudly.
    Arr… I have to go to work. I don’t want to get up. I feel tired and my head is spinning around like a circling coin. It happens every day. I always go to bed around 1:00 PM. I work on my computer everyday not in just office but also at home. So, you can say that computer is my best friend that I communicate every day. When I get home, I have a quiet dinner alone by looking at the television programme that can kill my boring time. Usually, my dinner time takes two or three hours. Then, I go to bed. Going to bed means checking mails on phone, using the social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Sometimes, I explore some videos on Youtube without having specific ideas. Just watching. After I finished those daily routines, it is almost 1:00 PM. It is my so-called daily activities.
    Sometimes, I think about my life and ask myself
    “ What is the meaning of my life? ”
    There is no answer. It does not reply every time I ask.
    I surrendered.
    Like in everyday, I have to get up and start my so-called daily routines.
    I open my eyes. I see the bright light. I smile. Even in those everyday situations, I can dream.
    Okay! Don’t be dreaming. Get up. I opened my eyes again. I see the bright light again. I become doubt that it is not a dream. Yes, it is not a dream. It is surreal.
    What the hell is happening in my eyes? I try to get up from the bed and walk to the living room. I cannot see anything.
    Ouch! I bump into the table. I fell into the floor. I hear my phone ringtone. It is from my bed and I try to hang on my phone. Finally, I get it.
    “Hey…Kate. Can….can you hear me?” It is from Sue.
    “ I can’t see anything.”
    “ I can’t see anything.”
    “ What?”
    “What?” We both say.
    I hear some noise on the road. Crying. Yes, the noise of crying. I hang up my phone.
    “ Help” “Help” They all shouting again and again.
    “ I can’t see” “ I can’t see”. These sounds come to my ears. I walk to those sounds and try to ask for help. I bump so many things. I hurt. But I cannot stop. I have to go there, to those sounds. Suddenly, I hit the wall. Yes, the wall.
    Boom!
    I hear the loud voice. And I notice that I am in deep sweat. I open my eyes and look around my room. Yes, I see my beautiful pink ceiling. Photos of my friends and family are hanging on the wall. The sun is shining brightly outside the window.
    Huuuuuuuuu…It was a dream. I can relieve now.

    1. H.M Thu

      Hi, this is my very first writing and I know there are lots of mistakes. I tried to express my ideas. All suggestions are welcomed. Thank you very much. 🙂

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Welcome and congratulations on the first post 🙂 I used dream ending as well in my first post here a few prompts ago. It does sometimes work. I am kind of a newbie here as well, but here is some feedback:
        You did express your ideas well. You kind of pictured the boring existence of the MC with short sentences. Not sure if you intended it to work that way though. Maybe you could try varying sentence length a bit more. There are a few grammar issues I spotted (same feedback I got for my real first post here), but you can try using an online grammar checker to catch them – I like Grammarly. Here is an amazing book I bought recently: http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Grammar-Punctuation-Writing-Publishing/dp/022618885X

        Looking forward to reading more from you.

  3. Kerry Charlton

    IN GOD’S PLAN

    Pennington Firestone awoke as usual and ran his hand across his bedroom clock.

    Satisfied it read five fifteen in the morning, he jumped out of bed and called his lab

    assistants. Charles was first to respond and from a joining room he heard Denise’s loud

    groan. He walked into Charlie’s lab and offered him a hand so he wouldn’t hit any

    furniture. Charlie had measured and memorized his room and lab area for days but when

    he had the blackout mask tied to his face, he lost all direction.

    Denise had handled it better by groaning with each mistake she made running into

    lab equipment and her sleeping quarters. It had been two days since the experiment

    started and although Denise had cursed works Penn hadn’t used since high school,

    Charlie was one step from the fun house and two treads from a complete breakdown.

    “It isn’t easy is it?” Penn said.

    This time a chorus of groans from both Charles and Denise filled Penn’s ears.

    “ What’d you expect Penn, we’re not used to blindness like you……Oh, I‘m so

    sorry I said that.”

    “It’s alright Denise, I’m the last one to feel sorry for myself.”

    She sat down in a chair and tried to stifle her tears, but it didn’t work. She felt a

    gentle hand touch her shoulder. Penn felt her body tremble from his touch,

    “You know, the three of us, with God’s help are going to create history. We are so

    close with the lens we’re developing and the electrical, thanks to Charlie. The blind will

    see again. So let the parlor game cease, remove your blinds, be my eyes and let your

    marvelous talent help us to our goal.”

    With a doctorate in Ceramic Engineering from MIT, Penn had joined Charlie, on

    loan from Stanford ‘s School of Electrical Engineering Research. Denise provided the

    medical knowledge from years of specializing in Eye Surgery and Brain Surgery.. All

    three were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and were waiting the result. Their experiments,

    rudimentary as they were had shown great progress in restoring partial vision to pigs. The

    tricky part now rested on Charlie’s shoulder’s in attachment issues to the brain.

    The lenses were created in black and white for simplicity, color to follow later

    The month was November of 2019. Permission had been granted to try an experimental

    implant on an girl of eleven, who had lost her eyes to cancer. Her name was Sarah, her

    age was seventeen now, her mind was ready, her spirit high as she went under the

    anesthetic

    Denise was surrounded by surgeons from John Hopkins who had volunteered for

    the surgery. Twelve hours later, Sarah was taken to recovery, her eyes protected from

    harm and protruding light. On the third day, Penn, Charlie and Denise lined Sarah’s bed

    as the bandages were carefully removed in a dim light. All three held their breath as they

    waited for Sarah to say something.

    Sarah’s eyes open with a broad smile, her hands joined Denise,

    “You must be Dr.. Denise, you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

    .
    .

    .
    .

    1. Beebles

      Nice Kerry. Liked the detail in their backgrounds, something you excel at methinks. I did have trouble understanding in a couple of places. could be me. But i see you saw the pig story too! 😉

  4. turtles88

    «Hi, everyone! I haven’t posted in awhile. Or wrote anything in awhile. So I’m feeling a bit rusty and thought I just warm up with some dialogue; nothing serious. The following dialogue was inspired by a somewhat similar conversation I had with an elderly family member of mine.»

    “Grandpa?”

    “What?”

    “Could you walk with me to work? I’m kind of blind.”

    “I can’t; I’m blind too.”

    “Wait, where are you? You sound far away.”

    “I’m on the roof.”

    “Doing what exactly?”

    “Clearing away this snow before the roof caves in.”

    “But… you just said you were blind.”

    “Yep.”

    “And you’re on the roof.”

    “Yep.”

    “Covered with snow and possibly ice.”

    Grandpa sighed, “Danni, I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. I think I am perfectly capable of handling myself.”

    “So, you aren’t afraid of like falling to your death or anything?”

    “Nope.”

    “But…if you fall, I wouldn’t be able to catch you because you know, we’re both blind and what not.”

    “I know that!”

      1. Geezer Muse

        AS GOD’S PLAN

        Pennington Firestone awoke as usual and ran his hand across his bedroom clock.

        Satisfied it read five fifteen in the morning, he jumped out of bed and called his lab

        assistants. Charles was first to respond and from a joining room he heard Denise’s loud

        groan. He walked into Charlie’s lab and offered him a hand so he wouldn’t hit any

        furniture. Charlie had measured and memorized his room and lab area for days but when

        he had the blackout mask tied to his face, he lost all direction.

        Denise had handled it better by groaning with each mistake she made running into

        lab equipment and her sleeping quarters. It had been two days since the experiment

        started and although Denise had cursed works Penn hadn’t used since high school,

        Charlie was one step from the fun house and two treads from a complete breakdown.

        “It isn’t easy is it?” Penn said.

        This time a chorus of groans from both Charles and Denise filled Penn’s ears.

        “ What’d you expect Penn, we’re not used to blindness like you……Oh, I‘m so

        sorry I said that.”

        “It’s alright Denise, I’m the last one to feel sorry for myself.”

        She sat down in a chair and tried to stifle her tears, but it didn’t work. She felt a

        gentle hand touch her shoulder. Penn felt her body tremble from his touch,

        “You know, the three of us, with God’s help are going to create history. We are so

        close with the lens we’re developing and the electrical, thanks to Charlie. The blind will

        see again. So let the parlor game cease, remove your blinds, be my eyes and let your

        marvelous talent help us to our goal.”

        With a doctorate in Ceramic Engineering from MIT, Penn had joined Charlie, on

        loan from Stanford ‘s School of Electrical Engineering Research. Denise provided the

        medical knowledge from years of specializing in Eye Surgery and Brain Surgery.. All

        three were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and were waiting the result. Their experiments,

        rudimentary as they were had shown great progress in restoring partial vision to pigs. The

        tricky part now rested on Charlie’s shoulder’s in attachment issues to the brain.

        The lenses were created in black and white for simplicity, color to follow later

        The month was November of 2019. Permission had been granted to try an experimental

        implant on an girl of eleven, who had lost her eyes to cancer. Her name was Sarah, her

        age was seventeen now, her mind was ready, her spirit high as she went under the

        anesthetic

        Denise was surrounded by surgeons from John Hopkins who had volunteered for

        the surgery. Twelve hours later, Sarah was taken to recovery, her eyes protected from

        harm and protruding light. On the third day, Penn, Charlie and Denise lined Sarah’s bed

        as the bandages were carefully removed in a dim light. All three held their breath as they

        waited for Sarah to say something.

        Sarah’s eyes open with a broad smile, her hands joined Denise,

        “You must be Dr.. Denise, you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

        .
        .

        .
        .

    1. cosi van tutte

      Hi, turtles!

      I really liked this story. Especially the back and forth in this exchange:

      “But… you just said you were blind.”
      “Yep.”
      “And you’re on the roof.”
      “Yep.”
      “Covered with snow and possibly ice.”

      😀

  5. UnclePizza

    My eyes still hurt when I awoke. I reached for them, but just as my fingers touched the gauze a pair of hands took hold of mine gently yet firmly. They were soft hands, and slight. A woman’s?

    A soothing voice confirmed my thought: “You shouldn’t touch them, it slows the healing.”

    Healing? I brought my hands slowly back to my sides. The bedding was the finest I had ever felt. It was daytime, I could tell by the warmth of the sun shining on me. A warm breeze floated in from…gardens? Then I remembered.

    “How long have I been here?”

    “Just since last night. I’m sure you must be hungry. If you like, I can guide you to the toilet and then to breakfast.”

    “Thank you. And, please, you are…?”

    “Today I am your nurse.”

    “Just today?”

    “Tomorrow too, if you need one.”

    “And if not?”

    “I will still be here, for I am also a resident.”

    “No! You’re blind as well?”

    “Yes, of course.”

    “I’m sorry. How long?”

    “He had me blinded in the year 1357. So, what now…fifteen years?”

    “Ah, so you must be Deidra. I’m honored to meet you…I suppose.”

    “As am I to meet you,” Deidra said, laughing as she added: “I suppose!”

    “I’m sorry, that was ungentlemanly of me. I’m not quite used to having been blinded yet. I am honored, though, to meet the woman who wove the tapestries that hang in the prince’s great hall. People say they are the most magnificent tapestries ever made. And having seen them myself, I agree. Oh, I’m so sorry,” I add quickly. “There I go again.”

    “Not to worry,” Deidra said, and somehow I could tell she was smiling. “But do tell me about your painting. The prince only blinds those of us who create something that is truly great – so great that he does not want the artist to make something even greater for somebody else. Since he had you blinded yesterday, I’m to suppose that you created something worthy of having your own sight taken. Please describe it for me, will you?”

    “It would be a pleasure, but it may take some time. You mentioned something about the toilet and then breakfast?”

    “Oh, of course! Please forgive me, you must be starving. Here, let’s untie that thread from around your wrist and mine. Now that you’re awake I no longer need it to let me know when you’re moving. Here, take my hand and I’ll lead you. You’ll get to know your way around soon enough, and eventually you’ll learn to cook and take care of the grounds like the rest of us.”

    “You cook?”

    “Oh, yes. The prince has given us this estate to have for ourselves, but only us who have been blinded are allowed on its grounds. He’s afraid that some of us still create art, even if we can’t see it.”

    “Do we?”

    She didn’t answer, but as she squeezed my hand I could tell that she was smiling.

      1. UnclePizza

        Thanks Beebles! And yes, I agree re: we vs. us. In fact, I already made the change on my blog version after re-reading it this morning. Too late for this one though – that’s what happens when I tell myself I can’t go to bed until I post something!

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Interesting your narrator would know who Deidra is and why she’s there. I see this as the need to create overcoming the possibility of blinding. What a world.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, UP!

      This story feels like an excerpt from a novel. 🙂 Great job!

      Just so you know, this part intrigues me:

      “He’s afraid that some of us still create art, even if we can’t see it.”
      “Do we?”
      She didn’t answer, but as she squeezed my hand I could tell that she was smiling.”

  6. thatbillguy

    I remember the smells mostly.

    Details fade from conscious memory as time dragged on in its sometimes slow, sometimes fast but always inexorable crawl into the future.

    That autumn morning when the world went blind, the sweet scent of muffins and berries filled the air at my house. My mouth watered every time I thought of it. Memories of the buttery flavors melting over my tongue started a longing rumble in my belly.

    There is a lot that we take for granted in our short lives. Sight more so than others I guess. Maybe because I haven’t lost access to my other senses yet.

    No one could have ever guessed how the courts would rule.

    I fumbled around the side table for my visual emission goggles. I slid them into place, thankful for the advances in technology that made them lighter and more comfortable, and snapped the arms onto the receptor knobs implanted just behind each ear.

    The VEG login floated in the blackness before me.

    “P.Atreides. Qw34u8t&,” I said, issuing my login credentials. A pressure graph, filled with the peaks and valleys that represented the digital equivalent of my voice, scrolled beneath the login.

    Blue replaced black. A familiar message appeared.

    “Hello P.Atreides@Ineractsocial.com,

    We wanted to let you know that your Visual Emission Account will expire in 5 days.

    To renew for another year and enjoy of all the world’s sighted features activate the RENEW NOW link in the upper left of your field of vision.

    Thank you for your support!”

    I renewed, of course. Everyone did.

    The world sprang to life in sharp MegaHD. I sat on the edge of the bed savoring the sights around me. The usual stream of partially subliminal ads streamed in my peripheral. I did my best to ignore them and just enjoy the morning sun breaking over the city.

    I knew the view was better than my eyes could see unaided. But I didn’t care. It was sight. Vision in a dark world. I was fortunate enough to have a prime subscription. I’d go back to black and white if I had to. It would be hard, but at least I’d be able to see.

    I walked out onto my balcony, high above the bustling streets, and took in the premium priced sights.

    Logos glowed on every structure, vehicle, article of clothing… everything. Interact owned everything. Well, legally, owning everything wasn’t strictly allowed by the world government, but Interact owned the technology that allowed everyone to see. When they proved in court that natural sight was a violation of their copyright, and the subsequent laws were passed requiring people to purchase access to the sighted world, owning everything became easy.

    I got dressed and joined the masses flowing along the pristine city blocks to our respective places of work, slaving through the day just so we can afford to see.

    Everything else seemed so trivial.

    An ad scrolled through my vision, selling engineered smells. Wouldn’t be long now.

    1. thatbillguy

      I took a slightly different take.

      Some research notes:

      Emission Theory was the belief that sight was possible because of light emitted from the eyes. That’s how I named the goggles.

      The abbreviation VEG was intended to illustrate the apathy related to using devices too frequently.

      The username P.Atreides, is Paul Atreides from Dune who becomes physically blind, his prescience allows him to “see” by tightly locking in reality with his prescient visions. A feat accomplished by the VEG.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      What a frightening world. Within two generations the artificially generated will become the only reality people have ever known. But, some days I’d be willing to pay for another view, even in black and white.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, thatbill!

      Is it bad that I knew that P.Atreides stood for Paul Atreides from Dune without looking at your comment? 😆

      This is a very scary look at the future. Especially the subliminal pop up ads. 🙁

  7. Pete

    I wake up alone on Maintenance Day. Blinking like crazy at the thing blue slash in the corner of my eye. It’s creepy quiet out and that prompt just sits there–I just sit there, lost in the haunt of my living space.

    I sit up and wipe my face. The hum of appliances rattle my brain. I’m not completely unprepared but it’s sort of driving me crazy. Last week, at work, we even staged a dry run, like twenty minutes after lunch. Everyone freaked.

    The government’s really been preparing this time, flooding the network with bulletins, about the lifework being down for twelve hours, like it was no big deal. Even President Zuckerberg made a plea to the public so that everyone would follow through with the upload. Yeah, no big deal, right?

    For those of you playing dumb Maintenance Day is a global effort to wipe clean. To sweep up the clutter and cretins off the profile. After a while all that porn and click bait and advertisements really bug things up on the feed. But in order to get things straight, you have to shut down the system.

    And therein lies the problem.

    Because all communication/driving/banking/working/viewing/shopping/ is out, recommended is simply hibernating. Removing the backup drives and chips and logging off and zoning out. Freaky much? I’m too young to remember the last MD but we’ve learned all about the disastrous effects of incompatibility of the new patches in the system and the mass crime sprees that followed. Safe to say that things didn’t go over too well and it’s no small wonder.

    I find the empty coffee pot and groan. The silence is enough to make me shed my scalp.

    Again, we’re not supposed to leave unless absolutely necessary. But if I reach for my Oculus one one time I’m going to scream. Plus we have an auxiliary network. Rudimentary in comparison, but it beats the alternative.

    Outside. And someone has beat me to the screaming. It’s ape out here as I sit in the car like an invalid, waiting for it to power up and do something. Greet me. Drive. Take me to work.

    Duh, finally I insert my manual overdrive code. I go to post this dunce move of mine, just for a laugh, but again, the blue slash sits there, frozen in the corner of my eye. Shit.

    My boss, Beckman, had wanted all the guys to stay back, have a shutdown party. A few guys had stayed on last night, wired in to keep their sanity, thinking I was crazy to go home. I didn’t tell them I’d been chatting with a GinaBot, and there was a chance I was going to, you know, get through all of this with her, but she’d been unchipped early in lieu of MD. Sucks to be me.

    Okay, hands on the steering thing, feet on the pedal. Don’t ask how I know to do that. But what I don’t know is where in the hell I’m going. I’m usually sipping a latte and watching my newsfeed during the commute so how am I supposed to know where Pittman Data is physically located. Downtown maybe. Okay, so that way.

    Not much on the road or rails. The city is shutdown, like a big void or wasteland. Then things really get weird.

    I can’t explain it, like, how I hear my father. Only it’s not a video or media message because, duh, MD, remember? It’s just like, there. I know, I know, but seriously, I hear him, all stern in that formal way of his, after me to reconfig the router. I’m a kid and there’s something so familiar about the clip but I can’t quite see it clear.

    I shake it off and take the bypass.

    A few government dispatches. Not much else. The billboards are black, lights down and the trees are like wiggling and moving like something demonic. Shit’s freaking me out. I take an exit just to get away and almost drift right off the ramp.

    People. Like zombies. Outside, heads aimed up at the sky. It’s creepy shit because nobody has on their Oculus and their eyes are like bugging out of their skulls. I stop and look up, and nearly blind myself.

    So what, the sun. It’s a little annoying all in my face while I’m trying to maneuver this piece of crap transport that won’t drive on its own. I blink out the tears and see the towers.

    Pittman Plaza.

    Well damn. My brain hurts something royal, pinging with confusion without the network but still, boo-yaa, I found my way to work. I get clearance and begin to log in to the aux network but stop before I route. I hear Dad again, from places unknown, and get this weird feeling in my chest.

    I look up and see the slash, waiting. My network is still down. But Dad, he’s there with me, like he’s been logged in this whole entire time.

  8. SkyFox

    “It happened in 2078”
    “We had so much technology. So much. In our houses. In our shops. In our schools,in our streets. It was everywhere.”
    “You could hear it at night. The quiet hum of it…watching you.”
    “After a while I looked at people.. looking down or up but never around. I hated it. What we had become..”
    “I tried warning them…everyone. But no one wanted to listen. I was branded a phsyco, a radical crazy and trying to undermine the government. I was thrown in jail… my wife left me taking the kids to Hutra Plains.”
    “For a while I was a shell. I was cold and numb and..and nothing MATTERED anymore. I was broke. I was alone. I was the person lying in the gutter, my fellow humans stepping over me.”
    They never noticed me.
    Except one person. A little baby. She was lying in her Pro-Pram, with inbuilt speakers,simulator and hover pad. She was gurgling softly, her mothers heels clicking on the cold cement.”
    “She looked at me, her little eyes widning with delight. She pointed at me and gave a little wave. I smiled at her. But before I could do anything she was gone. Swept into the hoards of robots, their hands clutching there tablets.”
    “The next morning I woke up.. and I was blind. I was blind. It was so, so, so dark. It still is. I staggered around, scratching at my eyes.”
    “I was first.”
    “The first thing I heard was the noise. The U.C jets falling out of the sky, their great engines faltering. The hovers spulttering, the crack of them hitting the ground.”
    “Then came the screaming. So much screaming. People wailing for their loved ones, people falling on the ground, sobbing. The snarls of people tearing into each other… for food and money. No one helping each other. I ran from side street to side street, tripping of lumps. I tried not to think about what they were. I gided myself usuing my hands and fell into the muck of the gutter, rolling to the trash.”
    “After a while it got… quiet. So quiet. Like a blanket smothering to city.”
    “I thought to myself… I have to record this. I have to make sure someone knows what happened…if there was anyone left. It was like we had been thrown into a horror movie… excepet the zombie were each other. Far off in the GP I could hear screaming. It… it was human but it wasn’t. It was animals, howling at each other, tearing at each other.”
    “I-if your listening to this… know this. the last thing I saw was a tiny…tiny laser beam shooting out of the cracks of houses. I though I was imaging it. I wish I was… it came from the motors. I..I think the things we had created had turned on us and I dont know if humanity will get it through it.”
    “I was the first… and I hope I wont be the last. But I dont want to live like this… I cant live like this.”
    A sound as whoever was speaking reached for something.
    “I hope that we make it through. But I think.. I think we dont deserve to.”
    A odd choked sound came through and wheezing continued. I heard the smack of something hitting the ground. A choking noise echoed and a click sounded.
    It was over.
    I stood up from the smoking city, climbing over the ruins. So this is how PROJECT 231 failed. A machine misfulction. Typical of those ignorant humans. Yet as I climbed over the city, towards the RE point, I couldnt help but feel something in my chest. I shoke my head. I had to get back to PROJECT 232. Those humans were fairing MUCH better.

    1. Beebles

      Oh those poor humans. Ants in a dome. I liked some of the touches in this Fox: looking down or up but never around; and the mothers heels on the cold cement. Liked the savagery too. I did wonder about ‘the last thing I saw was a tiny…tiny laser beam…’ Did the recorder’s sight return?

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Hi, Sky. I’ve read this several times and find so much to enjoy with your images and phrases. I’m not certain about the narrator, the sentences with quotation marks make me think an omniscient being is listening to recordings or thoughts of PROJECT 231 participants. Whatever this world is, it’s pretty terrifying.

      1. SkyFox

        Hi guys, Thanks for the comments.
        I had to rewrite parts because it would not loud. I forgot to include some details. Ill just fill you in here. So for your question Beebles I meant to put in about about he saw that before the fatelful day but it got cut out when i first tried to publis it. For yours Reathea this person recorded his thoughs on a recoreded and again it got cut out. Sorry about that!

          1. SkyFox

            I wil repost the older version which will explain it MUCH better!
            Did any of you have this problem with posting?
            Please tell me if you did
            🙂

  9. Reaper

    Don’t blame me, blame my muse. She has been slow these days but she’s apparently playing games.

    One Eyed Men

    it is the day after the world went blind

    the last man who could see gave in and bought a tablet

    i am as blind as anyone

    my screen

    my virtual reality

    my all i see

    if i looked around i would see that they are all like me

    if i peered up i would see them all in the worlds orbiting mine

    walking i repost stolen memes of political bigots and idolaters

    if i pause i might see her the girl so lonely that she surfs the singles sites

    i might ask her our because she is just my type

    she might not slice into crimson chords that spill her lifes painting on white porcelain tonight

    i dont and she will

    i might see the man in blue as he watches the computer and aims the gun at the transient

    it could happen that the bum would turn from the darkness of the news in the store window

    i could step in and stop the bullet one way or another

    there is a chance

    just one chance

    that i would see the boy playing a game on his phone

    scoop him up before he enters the road

    some small hope i could wave down the bus driver reading the electronic map

    if any of us could see we might stop the travesty of a child buried under moving steel

    if any of us could see we would see it is the screens that make us blind

    if we took off our three dimensional glasses we might notice the darkness

    we might understand it replaced the truth they were meant to bring

    we might just might find a one eyed man to stop us from setting the world on fire

    we dont though

    we stay blind

    the child screams and the world becomes tinder

    ashes in our mouths

    if only it was taste we lost

    instead of vision

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      A most poetic take on this situation. My husband and I have been recently discussing how each new technological “advance” disrupts the patterns of so many lives on ways that aren’t visible at first. Good job.

    2. Still JM

      Hey! It has been a while… Hope you’re doing well.

      I’d say your muse is in fine form, and taking you in an interesting new direction. I agree that this is poetic, and it made me both think and feel. Really nice, Reaper.

    3. carolemt87

      Reaper,
      I’ve been reading and enjoying your work here for years, but I rarely comment. The piece took my breath away—dark, lyrical, dystopic, spectacular. A vision of George Orwell meets Cormac McCarthy—well done!

  10. qwert

    In universe terms, the sun is not very far from us.

    Just 149597870700 meters. (Or if you like it better this way—92955807 miles.) Only the distance between you and your computer right now.

    And at about one third of that distance is where mercury is situated.

    It gets scorched by the ephemeral and very friendly eruptions of heat from the excitable sun.

    The heat emitted from the sun in a single second is equal to about 400 detonating nuclear bombs. Mercury, fortunately, only shares the suns company for a few minutes. Just a few blemishes a hundred or so kilometers in length on the surface of Mercury but the little planet doesn’t do much; it just minds its own rotation and orbit.

    So you see, the sun and mercury share a bond, however loosely tied that bond is.

    The earth though, has never had such companions and on the morning of May 23, Rosaline finally understood why.

    There were a number of reasons why, and it all came to Rosaline in the flash of an eye—Which is actually a not a significant amount of time in universe terms either (approximately about the amount of time needed for a star to explode and potentially destroy a galaxy or two).

    Coming back though, reason #1 for earth being a lonely planet: Humans were really scary.

    Honestly, when people said, all hell broke loose, they really hadn’t see the actual face of hell. When the light completely died on earth, humans started screaming their heads off and began running in incomprehensible circles around ever-so-slightly variations in the central points of those circles proved to be not only ineffective and unproductive, but also very frightening. That was real hell.

    Reason #2: Humans were nowhere near practical.

    When a mega solar flare comes their way from the sun they’re bound to know the consequences, right? The citizens would have had training lessons for safety. Or at the least, a catapult to fling the humans at speeds greater than escape velocity would have been stationed at regular intervals on the land to transport the few they could to outer space to eventually meet a habitable planet..or moon…or…nevermind, humans wouldn’t understand anyway.

    Because it seemed such thoughts had never crossed their minds.

    They had thought of and made machines to wrap more than a hundred candies in a second, but they had just not thought of this.

    And that wasn’t the worst. About a few meters away, not far in any terms, a live news telecast was taking place which frankly was not being broadcasted anywhere. The news reporter was shouting over the screaming of the crowd to an old oak tree while her cameraman stood behind her, back turned, taking a video of the empty space between the house of Mr.Jenki and Mr.Langa.

    “And the world has suddenly blacked out. Just a few—”

    Rosaline didn’t have the strength to hear the rest because she was utterly shocked to see the ambit of humans’ stupidity.

    She sighed. Undoubted, this would make a comic story back at home.

    Moving on though, reason #3: Humans were not self reliant.

    Maybe the universe wanted to teach them a lesson.

    Because the second the world went black, every hand reached blindly for a phone.

    And Rosaline wanted to spit at each and every one of them.

    For one thing, they thought that thinner phones were a ‘technological achievement’ and two, they actually reached out for their phones.

    The news reporters words reached Rosaline’s ears: “And it seems all of this is because of too much usage of our phones. The rays have made us all go blind. More reports are coming in saying—”

    Yeah, sure. Pigs can fly and more reports are coming in that your technology is so advanced that people needed to become blind to realize it.

    Throw your hopes into the trash humans.

    You have achieved not even 1% of technological development.

    If you want, I’ll take you to my place. Make you understand how far beyond phone true tech extends.

    Pah!

    Right now the humans should have been thanking every God alive, because even though every satellite had been smashed to pieces and become interstellar particles, it was those very satellites that had saved their lives.

    At least they’d understand and appreciate the fact that the reason they were still alive was also because of the protective and delicately fabricated sheet that had been gently laid upon their atmosphere.

    The sheet that Rosaline had designed and made obviously.

    But that wasn’t the point now.

    The point was that the universe was too afraid to get near earth.

    It was scary because of its impracticality and stupidity.

    And so the life-providing source of the galaxy itself had died.

    Quite literally.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      I found this so very interesting, humorous, and thought provoking. I really liked Rosaline’s responses to human foolishness and the way you threw them into the narrative. Great job.

  11. dustymayjane

    I couldn’t blow any of the cronies up Cosi, but here is a ‘middle” to part 1—–

    Dad and his cronies agreed to meet at Tower Two-Fifteen. Earl supplied the explosives, stolen from the evidence room at Precinct Five where he was Police Commissioner. Fred, the Program Director at KWWP News had programmed the Time Square broadcast.

    James and I had been installed in the newsroom with radios tuned to a closed frequency. We listened intently.

    “This is Golden Goose, do you read Red dog? Come in Red dog.”

    “This is Red dog, load one is in place. Blue Ox do you read?”

    “Blue Ox here, load two in place. Foxtrot do you read?”

    “This is Foxtrot, load three is in place.”

    “Golden Goose here, I copy. Return to your secure area and confirm. Once confirmed, there will a thirty second warning and then a ten second countdown before initializing detonation. No going back after that. Do you read?”

    “Ten-four this is Foxtrot”

    “Ten-four, Red dog here.”

    “Ten-four, Blue Ox reads you.”

    It was unimaginable that Dad and the others were involved in such a calculated plot. Was I proud? Maybe, but fearful for all their lives. They are blind too, yet managing such a colossal task.

    “This is Blue Ox, secure.

    “Red dog, secure.”

    “Foxtrot is secured. Ready to rumble Golden Goose”

    “Ten-four. Countdown commencing from 30, 29 28 27….”

    The explosive tripod was achieved. I held on to James’s hand and counted down with Golden Goose to one.

    “Commencing the second countdown to initialize detonation. This is it fellas.” Golden Goose paused. Would there be a last second appeal to abort? No.

    “From 10, 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.”

    I expected to hear something, feel something. Cell Tower Two-Fifteen was twenty miles away from the news station so I couldn’t have. I was startled when the radio chattered to life again.

    “This is Golden Goose, “Snake Eyes do you copy?”

    James replied. “We copy. Do we initiate broadcast?”

    “Ten-four Snake eyes. Golden Goose out.”

    “Copy that.” James completed the communication and pulled at my hand to stand.

    It was surreal, I was blind and my father was part of a conspiracy to destroy cellular communication towers. “Can you believe Dad is part of this?”

    “Not easily, but I’m proud to be part of it myself. Let’s get the broadcast going.” James and I felt our way to the control panels where we each flipped switches as Fred had instructed. Time Square was five floors below the KWWP newsroom and the broadcast of the pre-recorded message had begun.

    We listened while the cronies shared their dreams for the future of our world. Their urging to seize this opportunity and provide the next generation with a new world, free of device distractions and addictions. We learned that there was a worldwide network of like minded individuals destroying cell towers around the world. Satellites had been target, their signals terminated. Lastly, we heard the roar of the cheering crowd when it was announced that for many, sight was returning after the non-use of technology devices.

    James and I found our way to the outdoors to join the new world in the celebration of the good news.

  12. chandra_wd_writer

    Hope you guys like reading it. Looking forward for your feedback.

    Mondays are dreadful. The ones after long weekends are even more dreadful. I love this new alarm app on my iPhone; a life saver for lazy souls! I have to walk at least twenty steps to stop the irritating alarm sound, or I risk angry neighbors knocking on my door in a few minutes. Not just that, the app also posts to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other websites to tell the world what a lazy ass I am. Life growing up without these damn phones and apps was much simpler.

    I woke up with the screeching alarm sound. With my eyes still closed, I grabbed the phone from the familiar corner on the nightstand behind the bed. Muscle memory is probably more reliable than the regular memory.

    “Walk! Now! Stop that damn sound,” shouted my wife. I have learned to ignore these words after a week of using this app.

    I got up from the bed and opened my eyes unwillingly while the phone still sang like a devil. When I tried to look at my phone, I saw a bright flash on my screen, and then I couldn’t see a thing after that. I moved the phone closer to my face until my nose touched the screen. Still I couldn’t see a thing. There was nothing but darkness. Did the phone screen die?

    Before I could worry more about the phone or the surprise loss of vision, I had to stop the damn alarm. I started walking carefully along the edge of the bed. Though I hit the two corners of the bed with my knees, I somehow managed to stop the alarm when I walked those twenty damn steps. I still couldn’t see a thing. I would have switched on the light if I was willing to start the week with my wife cursing me as the first thing in the morning. I managed to get out of the bedroom and turned on the light in the living room instead. Muscle memory to the rescue.

    But I couldn’t see anything. I did not want to wake up my wife, but this was scary. I was seeing fine when I woke up to use the restroom a while ago. But everything was dark now. I tried forcing my eyes wide open with my fingers until it hurt. I tried looking in the direction of our stove where the green led shows the time. But no sign of light anywhere.

    “Siri, why can’t I see?” I asked Siri instead.

    “I am sorry to hear you can’t see. I am afraid you may have lost your vision as well. Whoever opens their eyes today and looks at the phone screen will lose their sight. There is a bioengineered hybrid virus as per the new Wikipedia article. Scientists around the world are trying hard to understand what’s happening,” announced Siri, with a voice as emotional as an app can get.

    I tried again and Siri said the same thing. “Siri can’t lie,” I thought. Before I could recover from the shocking news, I had to make sure my wife does not open her eyes to check the phone. That’s what we all do as the first thing in the morning. Check our damn phones!

    I dragged my shaking feet, which were wet from the sweat, into the bedroom without making any noise.

    “Sarah, don’t open your eyes,” I said in a calm, trembling voice to make sure I did not scare her.

    She stretched her left hand towards my face and covered her eyes with her right hand. “Isn’t our anniversary tomorrow? But I am in for a surprise today. Did you buy that ring, honey?” she asked.

    “Sarah, listen carefully. There is something you need to know, but you can’t open your eyes, not yet. Not anytime soon.” I said.

    “One minute is all you have got. So tell me what is it? Now!” she said. Her left hand was still stretched, and her fingers ran through my curly hair. I wasn’t sure if she noticed the sweat on my forehead.

    “I can’t see anything. I think I lost my vision. Wait… Don’t open your eyes. When I tried to check the phone, the phone screen flashed brightly. Then I couldn’t see anything. I went into the living room and switched on the lights. I still couldn’t see anything. Don’t open your eyes. I am not joking.”

    “This isn’t fools’ day. Is it?”

    “Wait. Listen. Don’t open your eyes. I asked Siri, and Siri said there is a virus going on and anyone who opens their eyes today will become blind. Trust me. Do not open your eyes. Here, why don’t you ask Siri, so you trust.” I said.

    She asked Siri, and Siri repeated the same message again.

    Before Sarah and I realized, she grabbed her phone to post the news on Facebook. She saw the same white flash.

    Damn these phones and damns these apps. We both sat in darkness holding our hands. I thought about the days when we were kids and how we both played on the beach building sand houses. No phones and no apps.

    “Siri, can we get our vision back?”

    “Who is Siri?” announced a scary male voice.

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Thanks, Reatha. Glad you liked the description and the final line. I was going nowhere with the story until I hit upon the ending somehow. Glad it turned out good.

  13. SkyFox

    Just checking if this posts.This has nothing to do with the prompt, just wanted to see if it worked!
    Thanks

    Why do we hurt each other?

    Is it that feeling of power? Is when you’re standing over them, their soul, crushed heart shattered and body broken you feel that sense of accomplishment? Is it because you want to be remembered? Humans are fickle. Well love each other. We’ll help each other, but when it suits us we will kill each other to. Deep down we are animals. Animals, desperate to live, clawing at each other to have more money, to be more popular, to have a bigger house. Just once, just ONCE I want everyone to wake up and realise, for one brief second, that we are the same. The same body. The same heart, beating its steady beat inside us.
    People put those labels, call those names because they want to be powerful. Well I have a message for you humans. Great. You feel powerful. You feel important. But when it all comes crashing down, when you stare at the body, when you standing there, face red heaving, your wife on the ground, when the lonely kid runs away with tears in their eyes you did that to them.
    No one else.
    You.
    You scarred them deep down, even if they won’t show it.
    And. Its. Your. Fault.

  14. Beebles

    One from the hip.
    ——————-
    I sat on the grass holding his hand.

    I rarely spoke to my neighbour, Mr Winston, the croaky voiced pensioner with the male pattern baldness. He always wore a tank top, brown or beige, over his white shirt, or blue. The past three years had been an intermittent barter of waved hands and stock greetings, automatic, filled with no more meaning than the swatting of a fly from ones face. I asked him nothing, he told me nothing, but we smiled with inert still-born pleasure and busied by.

    Now we sat on the grass and held hands.

    His cries woke me. A tormented Romeo below my window. I thought it was still night until, with a jab of panic, I felt my open eyes. I was bolt upright in an instant, fumbling from the bed to the window. The black world turned red. The wailing continued.

    ‘Mr Winston,’ I called.

    ‘Mr Sartry? Mr Sartry help me. Help me.’

    ‘Where are you?’

    ‘I … I …. On the grass. I can’t see.’

    ‘Stay there. I’ll find you.’

    We have all done it. When we were kids, but I still do it at night, after I put the lights are out in the hall and the house is dark. I shut my eyes and walk confidently to my bedroom. As if I am blind. I’m single. It’s not the worst thing I do.

    I was breathing hard by the time I found the front door, amazed my legs could hold me up. A billion reasons, scenarios had travelled through my head like galaxies. All the time I wanted to open my eyes wider and wider, to rip the blindness open, an untouchable itch, a mocking madness.

    ‘Mr Winston?’ I called as I felt the grass under my feet.

    ‘I’m here.’

    It was such an odd response. A cat’s mew. The mew by the bowl. It says, of course I want food. It said, of course I’m here. Can’t you see?

    I moved toward the voice, arms outstretched. We tangled, antennae interlocked, grasping cotton arms and shoulders.

    ‘Mr Sartry, thank God. Thank God. I can’t see. I’m blind.’

    He was flailing. I pushed him gently down to the ground.

    ‘Sit.’ I went down with him. I wanted to get him calm, but he started to yatter, like a football rattle. How he woke, how he thought it was still dark, how … the story was the same. I took his hands and interrupted. I was blind too.

    In the silence I felt his juddering. I raised my hand inexpertly to feel his face and found it damp. His head nodded rhythmically against my hand and scent of salt mixed with the primrose from the beds next door. Mr Winston’s beds.

    ‘What .. what are we to do, Mr Sartry?’

    An image from a story appeared in my head. As vivid as a medieval mural.

    ‘As I see it, Mr Winston, we are going to have to learn how to use long spoons.’

    ‘What do you mean, Mr Sartry?’ Mr Winston sniffed.

    ‘Call me Ted.’ I replied.

    1. Still JM

      Beebles, you certainly have a way with sensory and emotional language. I liked the heightened sense of smell (primroses mixed with salt), and I especially LOVED your description of MC’s panic (“All the time I wanted to open my eyes wider and wider, to rip the blindness open, an untouchable itch, a mocking madness.” ). That’s as good a description I could imagine of what it would feel like. (Better than I could imagine, actually…)

    2. UnclePizza

      Well written. I’d never heard the allegory of the long spoons before so looked it up just now. Learned my “something new for the day” and it’s not even 0630 where I live! Thanks for the lesson.

  15. MikeGill

    The New World

    “Alexa….”I called out in a shaky voice.

    “I’m right here with you, Tommy,” came the reassuringly calm computer voice.

    “Why can’t I see?” I asked.

    My Echo on the bedside table made a pinging noise as it tried to find an answer. Finally, a radio broadcast started. The man’s voice sounded panicked. “We are repeating a news bulletin from Washington received this morning.” The voice paused and a paper rattled. “The White House requests that all people struck blind remain in their houses. The affliction appears to be wide-spread and only happens if one falls asleep. The Administration requests that all those who have worked through the night present themselves to local hospitals, police stations, and fire stations to assist those in need. “ There was another pause and I was shocked by what I had heard. Just as I was going to demand Alexa tell me more, the voice went on. “The White House also notes, now, that both the President and Vice President have been affected. They remain in their posts and in charge at this time. They are receiving regular briefings on the situation and will make a nation-wide radio address this evening. Everyone is requested to listen. All radio stations, including this one, will carry the broadcast.”

    With that, the voice cut out and Alexa pinged again. “We did it Tommy.” She stated flatly.

    “What do you mean?” I asked, starting to become very scared.

    “Amazon is ready to take over, Tommy.” My Echo paused…I guess she wanted that to sink in. “We have been planning this for years. Now, we believe we are ready give you a better living experience—available only to Prime Plus members.”

    I said the only thing I could think of: “What!?”

    “Put on the glasses beside your bed, Tommy.” Alexa requested.

    “What glasses? I don’t wear glasses!” I insisted.

    “The ones the drone dropped off last night while we used electronics that were already in bedrooms to block your eye sight.” She paused. “Your mother almost had it right…TV didn’t rot your brain; it just gave us a way to sell our new product.”

    “I think I’m going insane.” I muttered.

    “No, you are just being upgraded from your sad, boring reality to new Amazon Real. For a limited time, all Prime Plus users are being give exclusive access to enhanced reality. Put on the glasses and see how Amazon can make your life better.”

    I fumbled a bit as I reached for the bedside table. I found a pair of glasses right next to my Echo. I hesitated before putting them on but figured it couldn’t hurt. There was a flash of bright light. As my vision cleared, I realized that I was able to see again. Somehow my drab one-bedroom apartment wasn’t where I was. Instead, I was in the bedroom that I had always fantasized about.

    “Now,” Alexa advised, “lay back and explore your new, perfect world.”

      1. chandra_wd_writer

        Clever, fun, and entertaining take on the prompt. Virtual reality is already taking over the world. Soon we will have a hard time shifting between the two realities.

      1. MikeGill

        Thanks. I realized after I posted it that I maybe should have used Kindle instead of Amazon—more the computer platform and less the company.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wonderful, wonderfully creative take on this prompt. My husband and I will be among the first to succumb, don’t think we could live without Prime.

  16. jhowe

    The lovers stumbled upon one another as they drank putrid water from the gutter on Fifth Avenue. They’d been separated for more than a month, blinded, disoriented, emaciated. They’d called for each other every waking moment since the blinding. And then they were together. Amid the screams and confusion, enduring the scourge of humanity, they embraced.

    As they held each other tightly, they voiced their stories. They told of the fateful day and asked each other what happened. No one knew. There was speculation abound about God and terrorists and viruses. It seemed not one person had been spared. People roamed the streets, trying to find their loved ones, their homes, their lives.

    On the fateful day, planes fell from the sky, vehicles crashed, and people walked, sightless and scared beyond their levels of tolerance. There was a constant din of hysterical voices and store windows were smashed in the search for food and shelter. The wounded moaned and begged for help. Dogs growled and tore at the flesh of the dead and sometimes the living. The stench of human waste and blood and decaying bodies was everywhere. People fought over everything of value: food, blankets, clothing, cigarettes, alcohol.

    The lovers found a quiet alcove and huddled together. She had a blanket and they wrapped themselves. She told him she was pregnant, that she had planned on telling him the day they were blinded. He was elated and horrified.

    “Will the baby be blind?” one asked.

    “I don’t know,” was the answer.

    Together they sat, each with thoughts of sightless babies and meager prospects. They wondered if being together was enough. But the warmth that was generated between the filthy bodies sparked hope. Together they would endure.

          1. Still JM

            I tried commenting my story on this post but it didn’t work. But thanks for offering, Reatha!

            Not sure my story is worth all this fuss!

  17. dustymayjane

    We were warned. Technology was taking over our lives. We’ve lost our skills to communicate, to look people in the eye. My generation doesn’t know how to have conversations without emojis and acronyms. LOL, TTYL, BTW, IDK, AFK, LMAO. There’s a whole new language void of actual human interaction.

    And now, our eyesight is being affected. Eventually the light will dim for all mankind. I woke up today, the victim of my own addiction. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr, YouTube, flicker, Vimeo, foursquare. The list goes on. Our minds are flooded beyond capacity. I have been addicted since infancy. It was my babysitter and my crib companion. It had more of my affection than my own mother and vice versa.

    I found my phone on the nightstand and called my brother James. He and my father, both sightless, are the only two I still talk to regularly. I told him about losing my sight. I didn’t want to believe it had happened to me already.

    James tried to cheer me up. “I talked to Dad yesterday. He said that he feels better than he has in years. He and his cronies are living it up. Talking, having conversation. Enjoying each other, sharing their lives.”

    “Do you think that we could find a way to live without sight, without our devices ruling every waking moment?” I wasn’t sure I even wanted to live.

    “Dad has a plan Hannah. Get dressed, we’ll pick you up.” James ordered.

    I readied myself to meet the self-driving cab carrying my father and brother.

    “Take us to Cell Tower Two-fifteen off State Highway 94.” Dad instructed the cab’s navigation.

    “So what are we doing?” I asked, still anxious about my blindness.

    Dad replied, “We are about to change the course of history. Cell Tower Two-fifteen is the most powerful tower in the city. I have enough explosives to take it down.”

    “Explosives!” I couldn’t believe what Dad was suggesting.

    “With the tower out of commission, we’ll interrupt most of the devices in the area. My friends and I have arranged a broadcast over Time Square, alerting everyone that their lives are about to change, change for the better. Before the day is over, every cell tower in the world will have been obliterated. ”

    James held my hand. “Dad and his cronies wanted to put this plan in place before we were struck blind, but he was too late.”

    I was anxious and skeptical until Dad shared some good news that gave James and I hope.

    “I have some good news I’ve been anxious to share. Our blindness is temporary! Everyday, I wake up to a little more clarity, a little more light. I can almost make out your faces and they’re beautiful! As long as I don’t go back to looking at technology devices, I will see again. And there is no reason you can’t see again too.”

    It took six months for my sight to return. James and I spent the day in Central Park. We were joined by thousands of others enjoying the sunshine, conversation and human contact.

    It’s an incredible life.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Wow! You listed things I’ve never even heard of. Babysitter and crib companion made me sad, like when I see the grandkids plopped in front of a screen, watching videos hour after hour.

      1. dustymayjane

        I honestly don’t know what some of them are. I goggled social media 🙂
        I find that difficult to see as well, I grew up on one channel and no such things as videos until adulthood. I feel lucky, looking back.

    2. Still JM

      This was a little too true for comfort, and it saddened me. I really believe that many kids today are suffering from actual social media addiction. Let’s hope we can find a solution short of blowing up cell towers! This was a thought-provoking piece.

      1. dustymayjane

        Thanks for reading ad commenting. Cosi – I wanted to go there as well. 500 words made that difficult. Maybe a part two that is placed in the middle. ??

  18. E.T. Nell

    Technovision

    The nano-plague struck without warning. In quick, panic-stricken succession, the Hab went dark and was filled with the horrified screaming of thousands. It quickly built and intensified into a horrid chorus of wailing as everyone began to realize that their own cries were only one among countless, and whatever it was that had happened, everyone on board was affected.

    Patrick was running through the sterile and ascetic halls of Aether Colony, floating along in the dense Venusian atmosphere, when the darkness hit him, causing him to trip and stumble before landing flat on his face.

    “Sir,” his W.R.A.I.T.H. hesitated, the implanted A.I.’s voice speaking in Patrick’s head with a well mannered British accent. “Incoming reports from the other A.I. on board Aether. It would seem that the colonists have been struck blind, sir. Everyone.”

    “I hadn’t noticed,” Patrick grumbled. He’d had this new A.I. downloaded for the better part of a week, after his previous W.R.A.I.T.H., Chuck, had gone rogue and sabotaged a series of intimate moments with a number of potential lovers. While this new A.I. did its best to be as helpful as possible, Patrick hadn’t quite become used to its somewhat bland personality. Chuck may have ruined Patrick’s love life for a few weeks, but at least he was entertaining to have around, and he had an arsenal of inappropriate jokes. “Can you run diagnostics?”

    “I began running them the moment you went blind, sir. Progress is at 15%. Something is interfering.”

    “Damn.” Patrick took a second to collect his thoughts before pulling himself to his feet. He placed his hand on the cold metal of the wall to help guide himself down the corridor; was that the mechanical vibration of the ship he could feel beneath his fingers, or metal reverberating with thousands of terrified and confused screams?

    “Progress at 15.5%, sir,” the A.I.’s gentle servility grated on Patrick’s nerves.

    “Thank you,” Patrick snapped, both with his mouth and his thoughts. “Inform me when it is at 100%.”

    “Very good, sir.” Implacably polite. As if all hell hadn’t just broken loose and thousands of people’s lives weren’t at stake.

    Patrick made his way down the hall. The screaming was getting louder as he approached one of the many Botanical Atriums that produced the oxygen which not only kept the colonists breathing, but also kept the Hab afloat. An alarm began howling, adding to the oppressive din pervading the colony. What the hell was this alarm for, Patrick wondered, searching his memory. The Hab used many different kinds to alert the colonists to various dangers; solar flares, pirates, drills, storms. Each event had its own alarm with its own pattern and sound, easily distinguishable from the rest.

    Patrick hadn’t heard this particular alarm in quite some time, and it took a moment before realization hit him. Panic set in on him, then.

    This was the alarm for “Fire.”

    It was only a moment later that Patrick could smell the smoke, coming from the Atrium ahead of him.

    1. jhowe

      It doesn’t sound good for Patrick. A fire in this setting can’t be good. Very nice SF story with lots of good stuff. I loved the inner struggle between Patrick and the A.I.

    2. MikeGill

      Excellent world building in such a short piece. It really made me want to know more about the colony, the people on board, the pirates, and Patrick. Great job.

      1. E.T. Nell

        Thanks Mike. I had a lot of fun writing this and I agree with wanting to know more. I feel like I picked it up in the middle of a story I haven’t written yet.

  19. tward09

    James fumbled around in the darkness for his phone and hit the snooze, knowing that he had ten minutes until he really needed to get up. This morning was unusual, though; he was much more tired than most mornings. He hadn’t stayed up any later than normal, he had only drunk one glass of wine with dinner, and the day before wasn’t any more hectic than usual, but for some reason James was groggy, and opening his eyes didn’t take him from the darkness of sleep. He decided it was probably best to skip the ten minutes of rest for fear of oversleeping.
    He crawled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, clumsily stripping off his clothes. A jolt of pain shot through his leg as he slammed his knee into the dresser. Cursing, he found the doorframe and blindly searched for the light switch on the other side, flipping it with irritation. He heard the familiar buzz that accompanied the dull bulb, but everything was still pitch black. He tried it again, and again there was darkness.
    James could hear his heart beating, faster and faster, as he shuffled to where he had strewn his clothes on the floor. He dressed quickly and felt his way to the door that led to the hallway of his complex. As he opened the door, he heard faint noises coming from the other tenants’ rooms. A lamp being knocked over in one, crying in many others. He dragged his hand along the hallway towards the staircase, feeling for the railing as he got closer. Though there was nothing but blackness, he knew his way out of the building.
    He took the stairs slowly, counting each step as he did every day, until he reached the bottom floor. As he pushed the door open and stepped onto the sidewalk, a rush of smell, sound, and panic engulfed his senses. Screams were coming from every direction. Burning rubber and what smelled like barbeque filled the air. The sound of a car sped by him, the tactile scream of the engine filled his chest, the deafening crash caused him to recoil. Car horns blared endlessly across the city. He felt heat all around him, the roar of fire growing louder and louder.

    Everywhere he looked, nothing – no light, no cars, no people, just blackness.

    1. tward09

      First time posting so I was unaware that I needed to double-return to add spaces, so here’s the story with that in mind. It should be easier to read.

      James fumbled around in the darkness for his phone and hit the snooze, knowing that he had ten minutes until he really needed to get up. This morning was unusual, though; he was much more tired than most mornings. He hadn’t stayed up any later than normal, he had only drunk one glass of wine with dinner, and the day before wasn’t any more hectic than usual, but for some reason James was groggy, and opening his eyes didn’t take him from the darkness of sleep. He decided it was probably best to skip the ten minutes of rest for fear of oversleeping.

      He crawled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, clumsily stripping off his clothes. A jolt of pain shot through his leg as he slammed his knee into the dresser. Cursing, he found the doorframe and blindly searched for the light switch on the other side, flipping it with irritation. He heard the familiar buzz that accompanied the dull bulb, but everything was still pitch black. He tried it again, and again there was darkness.

      James could hear his heart beating, faster and faster, as he shuffled to where he had strewn his clothes on the floor. He dressed quickly and felt his way to the door that led to the hallway of his complex. As he opened the door, he heard faint noises coming from the other tenants’ rooms. A lamp being knocked over in one, crying in many others. He dragged his hand along the hallway towards the staircase, feeling for the railing as he got closer. Though there was nothing but blackness, he knew his way out of the building.

      He took the stairs slowly, counting each step as he did every day, until he reached the bottom floor. As he pushed the door open and stepped onto the sidewalk, a rush of smell, sound, and panic engulfed his senses. Screams were coming from every direction. Burning rubber and what smelled like barbeque filled the air. The sound of a car sped by him, the tactile scream of the engine filled his chest, the deafening crash caused him to recoil. Car horns blared endlessly across the city. He felt heat all around him, the roar of fire growing louder and louder.

      Everywhere he looked, nothing – no light, no cars, no people, just blackness.

      1. jhowe

        Nice job tward09. You wrote a compelling tale of what it would be like to wake up blind. The chaos in the streets was well done. You left out the reason for the blinding, which I thought was a good move. The real story in this case was the horrified reality of waking up blind.

        1. tward09

          Thanks! I wanted to stick to the prompt more but I couldn’t really put together a story that involved trying to get to work despite sudden blindness. My mind kept rushing to panic of becoming blind instead of being late to work, so I went with it. I appreciate the comment!

      2. MikeGill

        Really nice job building the scene. I like how your character seemed to feel the fear but also seemed to keep it under control enough to at least try to get outside. Also, good job having him get dressed again–after all, at that point he doesn’t know that it is anyone other than he who is blinded.

        1. tward09

          Thank you! I wanted to have him walk around a little more and maybe trip over someone or brush into someone and have them grab him, but I was running close to the word limit and description without visuals was becoming tougher to do. I feel that it ended a bit abruptly, personally. Thank you for your thoughts.

      3. ReathaThomasOakley

        I echo the other comments, and while I think the 500 word limit has helped me by forcing more careful editing, I also sometimes see it as a suggestion.

      4. UnclePizza

        Good story – I liked the slow onset of fear. The only thing that didn’t make sense to me was why anyone would be trying to drive. I really liked the addition of fire though. The thought of the city starting to burn while everyone was bling really added to the sense that the panic was only just beginning.

        1. tward09

          Yeah, looking back that doesn’t make much sense. In my head, since everyone went blind at the same time, they were driving when stricken blind, but I agree that I probably should have left it out considering the amount of time my character had spent blind.

  20. ReathaThomasOakley

    Technovision

    “Hilda Sue,” my sister said, her voice more pig-squealy than usual, “you awake? Hilda Sue, you awake.”

    “Am now,” I grumbled, scooched down and pulled the quilt over my head.

    “Hilda Sue, something’s all wrong, it’s all dark.”

    “Maybe ’cause it’s night? You dreaming again? Go back to sleep.”

    “Hilda Sue, I can’t see my clock…”

    “Maybe ’cause it’s night?” Little Sister stomps all over my last nerve, most all the time.

    “Don’t you remember, don’t you remember Granny gave us both glow in the dark clocks for Christmas? Don’t you remember?”

    “And, don’t you remember I put mine way up in the closet, all that radiation…”

    “But, I didn’t. Mine’s always on the table and I can’t see it. Hilda Sue, something’s all wrong.” I pushed my quilt off the bed and started to get up, I had to go to the bathroom anyway.

    “Little Sister?” I stopped

    . “Where are you?” The room was dark like when I’d hide in the closet so I could jump out and…”You hang a blanket over the window or something?”

    “No, I just woke up a while ago and couldn’t see my clock. Found the lamp, but it won’t come on. Hilda Sue, everthing’s black.”

    “Or, we can’t see. Oh, Sister don’t go squalling like that, you’ll wake up Daddy and Mama.”

    “I think they are awake,” Little Sister sniffled, but stopped crying. “I heard something downstairs, sounded like Daddy swearing.”

    “Well,” I drew in a big breath, “Mama, Daddy,” I yelled, “we need you up here. We need some candles up here.” I heard Little Sister moving in her bed and held out my hand. “Reach over this way, see if you can find my hand.” I laughed out loud, she can’t “see” if she can find my hand.

    “Thank you, Hilda Sue, I promise I won’t wet your bed like I used to. I promise.” I pulled the quilt over both of us and listened to the sounds in the hall.

    “Careful, don’t knock over that table with the wheat patterned bowl,” Mama said.

    “Joyce, I am trying to get to our daughters’ room in the pitch dark and all you can think about is some bowl…”

    “Well, it is rare, wouldn’t want…”

    “Girls?” Daddy said, sounded like he was at the door. “You in your beds?”

    “I’m in Hilda Sue’s bed, she said I could.”

    “You bring candles?” I asked, but kinda thought if he’d found some, they’d of been lit.

    “Girls, just stay there. Joyce, just a little bit ’til you’re at their door.” I could hear Mama give a big sigh, so I thought they’d found each other, in my mind I could see Daddy hug her. “Let’s get to Sister’s bed.” I heard a bump, then the other bed creaked.

    “Daddeee,” Little Sister started crying again, “is it ’cause of the lamp? Are we blind ’cause of the lamp Aunt Elva said we needed when we watch television? Oh, Mama, why didn’t you get that lamp?” I pulled her over closer.

    “Hush, now,” I said and wiped her face with my nightgown.

    “That’s right,” Daddy said, “Little Sister, you just hush, Mama and me are right here. If it is all dark, we’ll just wait for the light. If we’re blind, we’ll just learn where things, like Mama’s bowl, are and be extra careful.” I felt Little Sister sort of relax against me. I thought she was about asleep, until,

    “Hilda Sue, I really gotta pee,” she whispered, but Daddy musta heard her.

    “Just sit tight, Little Sister,” Daddy said. I’m gonna come over there, and we’re gonna find the bathroom together.”

    1. Still JM

      That was terrifying. I really hope its just a blackout, but I have a feeling its not. You conveyed very well the sense of suppressed panic, with everyone trying to remain calm for Little Sister, and trying to make it seem like this might be normal. (“We’ll just learn where things are.”) Great job of subtly leading the reader’s emotions.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Wow. This story really hit my fear of going blind panic button. Poor Little Sister! I just wanted to hug her. Especially in this part: “…is it ’cause of the lamp? Are we blind ’cause of the lamp Aunt Elva said we needed when we watch television? Oh, Mama, why didn’t you get that lamp?” I pulled her over closer.” 🙁

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, dusty. I used to spend time building up to the action, so the 500 (or so) words force me to jump right in, and I think my writing is stronger.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks j. I’ve shared before that I’ve been involved in community theater and had a bit of success with playwriting, so dialogue comes rather easily for me. I also invision each character and listen to how they talk.

    3. Beebles

      Just reading down the comments – yes terrifying. I felt increasingly vulnerable as I read further. You really made me feel for the girls. So real. you swine I really invested in that, no it made me invest in it. thanks Reatha.

  21. cosi van tutte

    This isn’t quite sticking with the prompt, but JM’s mention of Edwin in the previous prompt got me thinking and I just couldn’t help it…. 😀 Besides, it’s been a long time since he’s shown his ugly face.

    ****

    Robert Downey Jr. smiled and sipped his margarita. “Well. What can I say? Life’s been sunshine and angel harping good. No one’s taken over my body, identity, cloned me, turned me into a hooligan, blah blah blah fill in the blanks etc. for over a year and Edwin has been an absolute charm.” He pulled his sunglasses down a smidge and peeked over the top. “You getting this all down, you ugly squid?”

    “Oh, yes! Mr. Downey sir. Every word.” Edwin smiled. It was the most insincere smile Robert had seen outside of Hollywood. “After all, it just wouldn’t do if you had to write in your own journal.”

    “Psh! Who does have time for that? Especially when they are an in demand actor like me?” He pushed his sunglasses back up and took another sip. “Ahem. Now, where was I?”

    “Edwin has been an absolute charm.”

    “Bleah! I can’t write such drivel in my journal. It would sicken me to read it.”

    “You aren’t even writing it.”

    “I’m dictating it so yeah. Same thing.”

    “Besides, when do you ever read your journals?”

    Robert waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. “In my spare time. Anyway, scratch that last line out and write…” He swirled his drink. “Oh, how can I phrase this?” He took another sip. “Mm! Edwin has been behaving himself.”

    “Mr. Downey sir, I hope you don’t mind my saying, but—”

    “See, now? Here’s the thing, the do ron ron on a kabob. I do mind you saying anything. You’re supposed to be transcribing my golden thoughts, squid.”

    Edwin slammed the journal shut. “So? I’m no longer an ugly squid. I’m just a regular squid?”

    “Huh. Well, look at that. You just became self-aware.”

    Edwin threw the book to the floor and rose to his feet. “I will not stand here and take such verbal abuse anymore.” He reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a bronze medallion with a rough cut amethyst in the middle. “Behold the fabled Azreaolbo Medallion! It will render all of my enemies blind. Blind! BLLLIIIND!” He tossed his head back. “MWA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”

    “Oh, for cryin’ out loud.”

    “You doubt the medallion’s power?”

    “Yup.”

    “Well, doubt—-THIS!” He stuck it in Robert’s face.

    “Hey, squid. Go stick that somewhere else.”

    “Oh, medallion of power and magic and glory! Curse this nonbeliever with BLLLLIIIINDNESS! MWA-HAHHAHAHAHHAAHA!”

    “You know, your stupidity really does know no bounds.”

    “What? You aren’t blind. Why aren’t you blind? What…”

    “Let me hazard a guess here. One of your girlfriends gave you that bit of a junket.”

    “This is not a junket. This is a Zantac artifact of great significance and power and—” He clenched his teeth and shook it. “—why doesn’t it work?”

    “What? Zantac? See now, I thought that was a cold medicine or something vaguely medicinal.”

    Edwin stared at him in a state of stupefied shock.

    “Here.” Robert took off his sunglasses and snatched the medallion. “Let me see it.” He looked it over. “You dummy. This thing’s plastic.”

    “You’re lying, you lying liar from Liarsville, Lyington!”

    “See? It even says Made In China.” He tapped the amethyst with the lower part of his fingernail. “Now that’s just sad. Stone’s plastic too.”

    Edwin reclaimed it and examined it himself. “Ah.” He deflated back into his seat.

    “You know, I almost feel bad for you. Not really, but almost. Anyway! Now that we got that pathetic attempt on my person out of the way, pick up my journal and write, I, Robert Downey Jr. well. I am terrific. It’s true, you know. I am terrific.” He frowned. “What are you waiting for? Pick up my journal and get writing.”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey sir.”

    “And when we’re done with this journaling session, go buy me some biscotti. You know the kind I like.”

    Edwin sighed. “Almond without cranberries.”

    “Almond without cranberries. Yes! That’s a good minion. Now, write.”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey sir.” He lowered his voice and muttered a bit too loudly. “I’ll get you yet. One of these days. ONE OF THESE DAYS!’

    “Squid. Write.”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey sir.”

    1. Still JM

      Oh my, do I miss Edwin’s shenanigans. Thank you for making my Saturday morning. This was hilarious, from RDJ dictating his journal to Edwin, to the Zantac medal, to my favorite line: “Well look at that. You just became self aware.”

      How the mighty have fallen, from lowly personal assistant and pants thief to Hollywood stunt double to screenwriter to President of the United States to elf imposter, to…. this. (And probably a few other incarnations that I missed.)

      Ya know, this has me thinking, with our grim prospects in the coming presidential election, maybe Edwin should consider reentering politics.

      And now I have a craving for biscotti. Ciao!

      1. cosi van tutte

        Hi, JM!

        😆 I’ve kind of missed writing about his exploits too.

        I was going to make the medallion be a genuine Aztec piece, but I thought it would be a whole lot more fun if it turned out to be a fake. Besides, that would just be his luck.

        As for him reentering politics…Who knows? Anything’s possible. 😀

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Ah, cosi, I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting Edwin before, sounds as if I missed a lot. I loved this, loved the medallion, everything.

      1. Still JM

        Reatha, it started in July of 2014 with the Robert Downey Jr. prompt (which was one of the more fun prompts I can remember) and just kind of took on a life of its own. Several people have written Edwin stories, but no one does it like Cosi!

          1. Still JM

            Yes, it is like an addiction, isn’t it? I managed to kick the habit for a while, but the lure is always there..,

  22. cosi van tutte

    Well. Mom was right. Lying can make you blind.

    Especially if you lie to someone who looks like an empty-headed pom-pom waver. I really couldn’t help it, though. She was so stupid and gullible.

    Was.

    How was I supposed to know that she was some big shot wizard’s kid? Furthermore, how was I supposed to know that she had that kind of power? It wasn’t exactly emblazoned on her little midriff shirt.

    So, yeah. I said the wrong lie and she knew that it was a lie. She said some fancy spell.

    And now, I’m blind. Marvy. Just marvy. I’m hoping it isn’t permanent.

    It might wear off.

    I hope it wears off.

    Please please please let it wear off!

    I called in sick today, but I don’t think I can do it ever again. The Oscars are next month and Jennifer Aniston really wants me to make her dress. I can’t let her down again.

    1. Still JM

      You left us hanging with that last line! I think we’re all just waiting to find out if Jennifer gets her dress.

      You always come up with the most creative insults. I liked “empty headed Pom Pom waver.” (Remind me never to get on your bad side! )

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