Friday Flash Fiction – 707 – Coffee Break

‘Claire, Claire, where are you?’

The back door flew open to reveal my husband dressed in his bright holiday shorts and business shirt and tie.

‘Where did you think I was, I told you we were going to fill up the paddling pool.’

‘Nice to be some…’ said Tom.

‘Come and join us later, surely you’re allowed a break?’

‘Depends how long the conference call goes on for, I just came to tell you we’re out of coffee.’

Covid had a lot to answer for, especially the idea of working from home.

‘Can’t you get it, I can’t leave the little ones with the water. Why don’t you have a cup of tea or a smoothie for now?’

Tom spluttered in disgust.

‘A green broccoli smoothie is not going to get me through that conference call… anyway you know what we always get.’

‘Okay, you stay out here and keep an eye on the hose and the children… and put your phone away.’ I dropped my voice and mouthed  ‘it only takes a minute for a child to  D.. R.. O..W.. N.’ then raised it ‘Oscaar… hose in the paddling pool not on Daddy.’

‘Don’t be long’ pleaded Tom.

‘Do you want the variety box, latte, expresso, americano…?

‘Yes, yes the biggest box they do.’

 I went upstairs, pausing on the landing to look out the window and make sure Tom had not forgotten he was in charge. The hose was now snaking out of control across the lawn. In my so called office I logged in to Coffee Zone, repeat order, multi pack, check delivery times… Yes, coffee would be here in time for his bloody conference call. What did they actually do on conference calls? Probably played X Box like my forty year young brother. I had no idea what Tom actually did at work when he went to the office every day and now he worked from home I was still none the wiser. Whatever he did he had been head hunted a couple of times and with the amount he got paid I didn’t mind spoiling him. My on line upcycling craft business hardly brought in enough to feed the dog and the cat.  

I looked at my watch, twenty minutes to get ready for the coffee. I dashed back into the garden.

‘Tom, where’s the dog?’

‘You only told me to look after the children.’

‘ZEUS, ZEuus…’

 I waved a packet of dog treats and Zeus bounded out of the herbaceous border, he was soon locked in the laundry. The children would be harder to get under control.

‘Ten minutes then indoors.’

‘But we haven’t done paddling yet.’

‘Why don’t you come in and watch Octonauts and have some parsnip crisps while the sun is warming the water. Then you can come back out after the coffee has arrived.’

With the children safely indoors I still had to find the cat, but there was no time to look. Hearing Zeus’ frantic barking I rushed back in and locked the door, the dog always heard it before me. Keeping watch through the patio door I saw a glint over the trees. 10.45am, exactly on time. The Coffee Zone Drone circled, I hoped it’s aim would be better this time. My stomach lurched as, too late, I saw a familiar black and white shape slink across the lawn then freeze as the warning siren started. The drone was higher than usual when its undercarriage opened, the large bright orange box dropped down onto the lawn, narrowly missing the paddling pool. I dashed out, but as I got close my mouth went dry. Sticking out from under the hefty box was a black tail. I knew from previous deliveries the box was too heavy to lift on my own and I was thankful to hear Tom’s voice. I turned to see him holding the cat and laughing.

He’s a quivering wreck, he doesn’t like drones does he?’

My relief was short lived, had we killed the neighbour’s cat?

‘Quick, lift the box.’

I closed my eyes. When I opened them Tom was holding up the squashed body of the shabby toy cat the children had insisted on buying from the charity shop.

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Your Amazon Order – Silly Saturday Story

She was not addicted, she was just adapted. Amelia’s grandchildren had told her to get on Amazon while she was in lockdown. She was not locked in, still allowed out for exercise and shopping essentials, but that was no help if she wanted a pair of slippers and the shoe shop was closed. But even going to the local food shops was an ordeal; wearing a mask, her glasses steaming up so she couldn’t see what she was doing let alone think what she wanted. Her dermatitis had flared up after putting the basket cleaning spray on instead of the hand gel. Then she couldn’t buy any cheese because she accidentally bypassed the dairy chiller cabinet and couldn’t reverse in the one way system. The final drama was getting in the wrong queue and ending up at the self service tills; waving to her nice young man on the real till she was accused of pushing in by a large woman with a scary red mask.

So here she was at the computer she used to only use for Facebook and emails. Amelia was now the proud owner of an Amazon Prime account and it was true, you could get anything on Amazon. Instead of two or three emails a week she now had half a dozen a day, kindly keeping her up to date with the progress of her deliveries. It was like Christmas every day.

It had started with slippers, some nice face cream and a big box of fruit and veg from that nice Suffolk farm; too much veg, she had to share with Doris and Ken next door. They were so impressed with her on line skills she offered to order things for them. Autumn bedding plants, then her son sent her links for the grandchildren’s birthday presents; more than she usually paid, but she wasn’t spending any money going out to the theatre, cinema or meals with friends.

When she couldn’t think of anything more she needed Amelia decided to give herself some presents, Covid Comfort… Self Care her granddaughter called it. Well Amelia did not want to plaster her face with green paste like that YouTube video, but she could improve her surroundings without even setting foot in B&Q. Colourful lampshades, amazing rugs and exotic plant pots arrived at her doorstep. Now she needed a new challenge.

Later, Amelia could not remember how the idea came into her head, but once it was there she was determined to see if Amazon could realise it. No more trips to the post office, she would have her own little drone to deliver letters and parcels and impress friends and family with her technical skills. She would probably have to practice first, a few tours giving her birds’ eye views of her neighbourhood.

It was rather expensive, no doubt because it was a high end model according to the description. Must be the latest model, there was only one review so far. The five to seven days passed slowly, but at last came the email Your package with 1 item will be delivered today. She waited for the doorbell to ring and her parcel to appear in the porch. Glancing out of the front window to see if a white van had drawn up yet, she was surprised to see a huge truck turn into her little road. Someone must be having building work done, though the equipment on the back of the lorry looked very strange. Paul across the road had come out to look and the sound of the strange vehicle being unloaded, like one of those huge rubbish skips, brought the children and other neighbours out. If they were being nosey, so could she, but before she could get to the front door there was a frantic ringing of her doorbell.

A huge chap in a yellow jacket and black mask stood back from the doorstep; what little she could see of his face was frowning.

‘Is this number forty six?’

‘Yes.’

‘Mrs. Amelia Dawson?’

‘Yes that’s me, have you brought my Amazon parcel.’

‘Hardly a parcel, but it’s all unloaded. I presume you have a licence from the Ministry of Defence or the Civil Aviation Authority…’

‘Pardon?’

‘Never mind, not my problem, I just deliver things.’

Amelia closed the door and crept upstairs to look out the bedroom window. The lorry had already gone; surely that monstrosity parked outside her front gate, on the residents’ parking only lines, couldn’t be for her. She slipped into the little back bedroom to check her emails. One new, 11.51.

Hi Amelia, your package has been delivered.

How was your delivery?

It was great Not so great

A photo of your delivery location.

She looked at the time on the computer, 11.59, then looked at her order again, peering closer; she had assumed the measurements were in centimetres not metres…

Silly Saturday – Anon-E-Mouse

Today a poem from a guest blogger.

 

Droning On

 

I’m a drone

All alone

In the zone

Not a clone.

Sky above

Land below

Check speed

Too slow.

Follow the shore

Nothing more

Nothing before

Coast I saw.

Sky is blue

Land is green

I have view

I have seen.

Sea to port

Land to starboard

Check speed

Move forward

I’m a drone

All alone

Go this way

To survey

Coastline clear

Oceans near

I am here

With no fear.

I can fly

Up in the sky

I don’t know why

I am a spy.

Coastline clear

I can steer

Test my gear

Land is near.

Red port left

Starboard right

Mountains now

In my sight.

I am here

I was there

Am I a drone

Am I alone?

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Read more about the poet here

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/friday-flash-fiction-digital-dialogue-droning-on/

sunshine-blogger

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – Droning On

What do you mean it’s gone AWOL?

We lost contact half an hour ago Prof.

Are you telling me Dianne, that we have lost our most advanced drone?

Not lost, just lost contact.

That is impossible, D1NA has the latest failsafe devices… we’ll have to contact the Ministry of  Defence, what was the last location?

North Wales coast, but he… I mean it, could be forty miles away by now.

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Hmm… hang back from contacting the MOD; at the altitude we set he should be well below any commercial or military flight paths. Besides, the new intelligent intervention software enables this drone to change its set course to avoid going within 500 meters of any aviation from swans to airbuses.

It could be the new software that’s the problem Prof, he… er it, can think.

Of course it doesn’t think, even the most advanced androids do not think, they merely process the data we give them.

But how does that account for the fact that, along with the ordnance survey of the coastline from Portsmouth to Anglesey, we also received a poem.

Is this your idea of a joke Diane, or are you trying to tell me someone has sabotaged the project, some environmental protester joker?

That’s what I thought at first, I was working on it, didn’t want to blame any of the team till I had evidence. There is no evidence, so I was sure today’s project was safe.

So what the hell went wrong?

D1NA made a bid for freedom; we have to understand how his mind works so we can persuade him to continue his plotting of the coastline till he arrives safely back at Portsmouth.

Dianne, you are the brightest of my interns so you of all people should know it does not have a mind, the only thinking going on is in this room and I have to take full responsibility. I have no choice but to inform the MOD; if they do manage to spot our drone they will have to bring it down before it poses any threat to aviation.

But we can’t let our amazing creation be destroyed, please let’s have one more attempt at establishing contact… oh that’s strange, are you seeing what I’m seeing on the screen Prof?

Sabotage?

No, D1NA has started  his own blog, ten minutes ago, hang on, he’s not quite that clever, he’s a guest on someone else’s blog Silly Saturday – Anon-E-Mouse…

Dianne, I’m calling the rest of the team in, I think you need a break, call it a day and go home.

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 There was chaos at Scottish airports today as all flights were grounded after at least half a dozen sightings of a drone deemed to be compromising aircraft safety.

sunshine-blogger

 Find out if a drone can blog

at Silly Saturday here

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/07/13/silly-saturday-anon-e-mouse/

 

 

Caught on Camera

One holiday not long ago we were on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall; a dog walker, a few sheep and a man tending a crackling bonfire in the garden of the solitary house. A strange noise made us look up into the evening sky. We zoomed in with our cameras, not a UFO, but the first drone we had ever seen. Not the sort that drops bombs luckily, but what was it doing? Watching us? Is there anywhere you can go without being seen?

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The next day we returned and drove up a road to investigate the tall mast on Caradon Hill we had seen from afar. Warning signs said Private road, access only. We walked the rest of the way up the grassy hill, veering away from the unmade road, past the gigantic guy ropes, steel cables holding up the metal tower. There was a complex of buildings, entry by security pass only, CCTV in operation. Obviously a secret facility, we were being filmed and I expected armed troops to emerge at any moment to take us in for interrogation. The signs were headed by the word Arqiva – a sinister secret organisation for sure.

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The truth was more prosaic when I looked the place up on Wickepedia.

The Caradon Hill transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility. Built in 1961, the station includes a 237.7 metres (780 ft) guyed steel lattice mast. The mean height for the television antennas is 603 metres (1,978 ft) above sea level. It is owned and operated by Arqiva, a British telecommunications company which provides infrastructure and broadcast transmission facilities in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

But perhaps that information was a cover up; we only escaped arrest because they had identified us as civilian ramblers.

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We are all being watched, all the time. CCTV cameras we know about, on buses, station platforms, in shops. We don’t know if we are being filmed or watched live. Above us are police, military and coastguard helicopters.

It is not only people who are being watched, so is your vehicle. Drive down many main roads and your journey has been recorded by ANPR – Automatic Number Plate Recognition; if the car is stolen or of interest for any reason it will be spotted. Police cars can now carry similar equipment. Writers of thrillers or crime novels have a harder time than ever helping their characters hide or escape, though in fiction and real life criminals are often one step ahead of new technology.

But writers can find new inspiration for plot ideas.

Pity the chap whose neighbour offers to give him a lift to Heathrow Airport in his mate’s car. By the time they are driving through the tunnel they have already been spotted on the spur road. Unbeknown to the occupants of the car, the neighbour’s friend is a criminal or terrorist. When the car is stopped they will have a hard time explaining who they are, by which time the flight will have been missed.

We have all seen pleas on television for missing persons or witnesses to the movements of a murder suspect. There on the screen is a CCTV picture taken inside a bus with the exact time and date. A wife spots her husband, who never uses buses and should have been at work on the other side of the city. A good starting point for a mystery.

In Brief Encounters of the Third Kind the main characters fear they are not only being observed, but controlled. There is no rational explanation for inexplicable events and when they finally reach a glimpse of the truth it is not what they expected.