Four By Flash Piece 7:The Damned Numbers Game

As I mentioned in this blog entry, I entered a Flash Fiction challenge despite a) Not having written Flash Fiction before, b) not really having time to enter such challenges and c) not actually knowing what Flash Fiction was. We’re now at the end of the first month of the challenge, and at a four piece per week rate, I should be posting the 15th or 16th piece by now,but reality intruded. Here’s the seventh piece. This one clocks in at 337 words, which fits in my stated goal of “300 – 500 words, hopefully closer to the 300 end.”

The Damned Numbers Game

The television picture flared up on the screen, startling Emma. Her parents almost never permitted the television turned on during the day. Seeing anything other than the reflected sunlight from the apartment’s windows show up on the screen before dark was an alien experience to her. Emma’s parents sat in the love seat and stared blankly at the television.

“Emma, sweetie, come sit here with us,” her mother said, mechanically.

Emma shot a hesitant glance at her mother.  Why did her voice sound like that? And why would that want to expose me to something they always called “brain-rotting? she wondered.

Emma nestled on the seat between her parents and stared at the television herself. As she did so, she saw in her peripheral vision that her father held a wrinkled piece of government certified parchment paper. The only thing Emma had seen that looked like that was her birth certificate, but she could think of no reason why her father would need it now.

The national anthem played on the television and the image resolved into a dais adorned with the great seal. A Hispanic man wearing an exquisitely tailored navy suit with a red tie strode to the dais and read a series of nine digit numbers into the microphone. After fifteen minutes of this bizarre programming, Emma’s father switched off the television. Both he and her mother wept. Emma didn’t get it.

“Mom, Dad, what’s wrong?” Emma asked. And what the hell did we just watch?She thought.

“Oh, E-bug,” her father said between tears, “you’ve been assigned population control status.”

He hasn’t called me ‘E-bug’ since my fifth birthday, Emma thought. “What does that mean?” she asked.

“It means they will kill you,” her mother said. “We can’t sustain the population we have, so once a year children under ten are selected and taken by the government for destruction.” Emma thought her mother’s tone oddly blasé, considering the subject.

A knock at the door.

“That’ll be your executioners now, sweetie.” Her mother said.

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