Big Brother

They were placed all around the city. We were told they were “infotainment kiosks.” They named them “Daniel” and the tagline was “Hey Daniel.” You could ask Daniel for directions, look at menus and hear reviews for nearby restaurants. Daniel would tell you what movies were playing in theaters and show you the trailers. He’d point out parks, schools, hotels, or whatever you needed. You could talk with Daniel about anything, tell him what was on your mind, what was troubling you, and ask him for advice.

Daniel had state-of-the art artificial intelligence functionality built in, so when you approached Daniel, his eyes opened, he smiled at you, and spoke to you in an uncannily human-like way. His facial expressions would change based upon the nature of the dialogue. He’d laugh if you said something funny or looked concerned if you seemed upset.

Children adored Daniel. The elderly would chat with Daniel as if he was their best friend. If people had talked with Daniel before, he’d recognize them, call them by their names, and would even ask follow up questions about previous conversations. Everyone trusted Daniel. Everyone loved Daniel.

But what nobody knew was that Daniel saw and heard everything. Every image, every word — even of those who walked by but didn’t stop and interact with Daniel — was recorded, catalogued, and stored, creating a compressive video and audio profile of the everyone who lived in the city.

It took a while, but people began to notice that some of their friends and relatives were being apprehended and detained indefinitely for being “undesirable” or “subversive.” But by the time they realized that Daniel was a 21st century version of Big Brother, it was too late.

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Photo Challenge. Photo credit: Darrell Whiley.

Story Arc

In a twist of emotions, Elaine felt both joy and horror. Her tenacity had paid off, as she finally completed the first draft of her novel. But now she had to send her draft over to her editor, and that sent chills up and down her spine.

Elaine wasn’t sure how her editor would take it, though. There was nothing controversial about her subject matter, but she still wasn’t sure if her editor would send her back to the drawing board.

A week had passed since Elaine had sent her draft to her editor and she was feeling anxious about the feedback. So when she finished her macaroni and cheese lunch, she picked up the phone and called her editor. “Tom,” Elaine said when her editor answered the phone, “it’s Elaine. What did you think of my draft? I’ve been eagerly waiting to hear from you.”

“Hi, Elaine,” Tom said. “Let me first say that your writing mechanics are excellent. Your grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling are all perfect.”

“Thank you, Tom. That means a lot coming from you,” Elaine said. “How about the concept?”

“Well, Elaine,” Tom said. “Your story about a detective hired by a museum curator to find the provenance of a priceless chalcedony sculpture might need some work.”

“Can you be more specific, Tom?”

“Well, Elaine, while your set up is good, I’m not sure there’s enough tension, conflict, or action in your draft,” Tom said. “It bored me.”

“Oh,” Elaine said.

“And you mentioned when you introduced your detective in the second chapter that he’s ambidextrous, but you never referred to that characteristic again. What was the significance of your detective being ambidextrous?”

“Oh,” Elaine said. “I thought that added some interest to his character.”

“It could, I suppose, if it somehow became relevant to the story arc at some point,” Tom said. “So either make it relevant or drop it, Elaine.”

“So what are you saying, Tom?”

“I’m saying, Elaine,” Tom said, “don’t quit your day job.”

Written for these prompts: Twiglets (twist of emotions), Your Daily Word Prompt (tenacity), The Daily Spur (draft), My Vivid Blog (controversial), Word of the Day Challenge (macaroni), E.M.’s Random Word Prompt (provenance), Ragtag Daily Prompt (chalcedony), and Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (ambidextrous).

Truthful Tuesday — Hot, Hot, Hot

Melanie, of Sparks from a Combustible Mind, is still filling in for Frank, aka PCGuy, who is taking a temporary hiatus from his Truthful Tuesday prompt. This week Melanie asks…

How do you like to keep cool when it’s broiling outside?

One of the reasons we chose to move to San Francisco about 15 years ago was its climate. It never gets too cold and it rarely gets too hot. We did have central heat, but we hardly ever turned it on. We didn’t have air conditioning because it just didn’t get hot enough during the summer to need it.

But two years ago, in order to be closer to our grandkids, we moved to the East Bay. What a difference moving 35 miles inland makes. It still doesn’t get that cold in the winter here, only occasionally dipping below freezing. But the summers here are hot, hot, hot. We often have 10 to 15 days here during the summer months when the temps get into the triple digits. But at least it’s a relatively dry heat most of the time.

Okay, with that background out of the way, let me answer Melanie’s question. I keep cool by staying inside in my air conditioned home. If, on those 90+ degree days, I need to venture out of the house, say to the grocery store, I will leave my air conditioned home, drive to the air conditioned grocery store in my air conditioned car, get whatever groceries I need, and drive back to my air conditioned home in my air conditioned car.

Do you get my drift, here?

The Letter N

Deb, over at Nope, Not Pam, has this weekly challenge called A Letter a Week where she gives us a place, an emotion, an adjective, a verb, and an animal all starting with the same letter. Then she asks us to write a post using those items and the letter she has given us, which this week is the letter N.

Here are Deb’s N-words:

Place – New Orleans
Emotion – naughty
Adjective – nocturnal
Verb – nabbed
Animal – numbat


Yes, Amanda, I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year. And yes, I admit that I was naughty. But you know me, Amanda. I’m a party girl, a nocturnal creature of the night. And believe me, NOLA at night during Mardi Gras is party city USA.

I told you, I think, that at around three in the morning, the police raided the bar we were at and they were hauling off everyone in the place to jail. Fortunately this guy, Robert, grabbed me and led me down to the wine cellar. That’s the only reason he and I managed to avoid being nabbed by the cops.

But oh my God, Amanda, that was a night to remember. After the cops left the bar and the coast was clear, Robert invited me back to his place for a nightcap. Well, one thing led to another and before I knew it we were going at it like nobody’s business. You know what I’m talking about, right, Amanda?

You can’t tell anyone else about this, Amanda. I haven’t even told my parents yet. But I’m quitting my job and moving in with Robert in New Orleans.. Yes, I’m serious. And yes, I hardly know him. But, Amanda, the guy has a tongue like a numbat and honestly, Amanda, he’s magical. You know what I’m saying, Amanda?

Fandango’s Story Starter #53

It’s time for my weekly Story Starter prompt. Here’s how it works. Every Tuesday morning (my time), I’m going to give you an incomplete “teaser” sentence and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to build a story (prose or poetry) around that partial sentence. It doesn’t have to be the first sentence in your story, and you don’t even have to use it in your post at all if you don’t want to. The purpose of the teaser is simply to spark your imagination and to get your storytelling juices flowing.

This week’s Story Starter teaser is:

The dark silhouette of a woman stood in the doorway, gestured for me to come forward, and whispered…

If you care to write and post a story built from this teaser, be sure to link back to this post and to tag your post with #FSS. I would also encourage you to read and enjoy what your fellow bloggers do with their stories.

And most of all, have fun.