Friday Flash Fiction – Reach for The Stars

 ‘Why have you waited till bedtime to announce you have to present a project on infinity tomorrow? When did the teacher tell you about it?’

‘I can’t remember, it might have been at the beginning of time, or was it Tuesday, but does time have a beginning?’

Sometimes Helen wondered if her son had been here before, he didn’t seem to be like other eight year olds, but then she hadn’t had an eight year old before, or a younger brother, though she did recall being eight and thinking all the boys in her class were stupid.

Sebastian was in the enrichment group at school and the teacher had taken the project to heart; perhaps he was running out of ideas to challenge the half dozen children, who were not allowed to be called clever or cleverer, but had extra interests. Helen’s scientific knowledge was confined to listening to programmes on Radio Four such as the Infinite Monkey Cage, but she had gathered enough to know that even scientists freaked out at the thought of infinity. They could cope with the thought of the edge of the observable universe being forty six and a half billion light years away, but not with the uncertainty of infinity. Sebastian’s Dad was night shift at the soap factory, so it was no use waiting till he got home to help them.

Instead of a bedtime story she tucked Seb in and they Googled infinity on her smart phone.

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Mr. Struthers was hoping for great things from his group, especially Sebastian, as he was hoping to get material for his blog Help, my Child’s a Genius.

Sebastian stood in front of the class.

‘The good thing about infinity is you can write endlessly about it and you can’t get it wrong as nobody understands it, including my teacher. But I do understand the universe as my mum helped me last night. Professor Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing, one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. But theory two, I’m not sure if this was mine or Mummy’s idea, if the universe is infinite it will go on forever so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the universe we can see with a big telescope is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or what is outside it and that makes us go all shivery. But the third theory which I think my mum got off the radio is supposing the universe curved round on itself, then it wouldn’t have an edge and maybe it wouldn’t be infinite.

And that would probably mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter, or crossed a small part with a chord we would be in a different time, so that means time travel could be possible. I think grown ups do time travel because they are always saying things like I don’t know where the time has gone. The other possibility is that time is an illusion and that’s how magicians do magic.

The other thing I discovered, though Mr. Strutthers didn’t ask us to do this, there’s lots of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, I would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we remove the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, though I’m not sure what a thimble is. But it means the rest of the universe is not that big after all, it just has lots of space in it.’

‘Well done Sebastian’ said Mr. Strutthers ‘and you said it all off by heart. Have you written it down to hand in?’

‘Not on paper, but it is written on the blog Mummy and I just started.’

 

Into Infinity

Writing about infinity presents endless possibilities. Most of my scientific understanding comes from listening to BBC Radio Four while doing the housework or cooking. The Infinite Monkey Cage is a programme combining comedy and science which I can understand, then there was the serialisation of Professor Stephen Hawking’s last book Brief Answers to Big Questions; if I didn’t take that all in I blame it on domestic interruptions or a noisy washing machine.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snr0w

Here is my handy guide to the universe. I think Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing; one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. I prefer my theory that if the universe is infinite it will go on forever, so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the observable universe is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or work out how much more of it there is. Apparently even clever scientists, who can cope with the thought of billions of light years, still find infinity a bit creepy. They are no different to young children ( or was that just me? ) who ask ‘Who made the universe?’

‘God’ the parent replies and then they ask

‘But who made God’ or ‘What’s outside the universe?’

Another theory is that the universe could curve round on itself, making it both finite and infinite. Could that mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter or a chord we would be in a different time, thus making time travel possible? But is time merely an illusion? If so, time travel is still on the cards…

Talking of space, there is a lot of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, a person would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we removed the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, so perhaps the universe is not so big after all.

Whatever the truth, authors who enjoy writing about time travel are never going to concede that time travel is impossible. Science fiction writers in general vary from those who are scientists to those who make it all up and who can prove them wrong if they set it in the future; unless a book reviewer travels to the future to check…

If you want to stretch your mind and go somewhere different why not dip into Someone Somewhere.

 

Silly Saturday – New Year Unresolutions

By now you have probably broken most of your resolutions, but it’s never too late to repair them. Here is a handy guide to resolutions that you will never keep, to save you making them in the first place and resolutions impossible to break.

Daunting

  1. Finish my Work In Progress before I finish my Christmas chocolates.
  2. Finish reading A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
  3. Review the above book intelligently on Amazon and Goodreads.
  4. Read every blog by every blogger I follow.
  5. Sell more books.
  6. Think up lots of new meals to cook.
  7. Clear out every drawer in the house and recycle all twentieth century ‘what’s on leaflets’.
  8. Learn how to use ebay and empty all cupboards and the loft.
  9. Spend less time on social media.
  10. Sign every worthwhile petition going on line and write to my MP and all the world leaders about every important issue.
  11. Become the first Indie Author to trek alone to the North Pole and blog every day about my journey.
  12. Visit the dark side of the moon.
  13. Live without plastic.

 Undaunting

  1. Finish my Christmas chocolates before my WIP.
  2. Read Brief Answers to the Big Questions: the final book from Stephen Hawking – The world-famous cosmologist and bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe’s biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work. As it’s posthumous he may have found out the answers by now.
  3. Review the above book briefly on Amazon and Goodreads.
  4. Read and comment on at least one blog a week.
  5. Sell at least one book this year.
  6. Try cooking one new meal.
  7. Tidy up at least one drawer.
  8. Take that bag of stuff to the charity shop.
  9. Improve social media skills.
  10. Share at least one funny cartoon a day on Facebook.
  11. Go for a walk to a new coffee shop every week – blog about the experience.
  12. Visit that new Ikea.
  13. Remember to take my bag for life to the shops.

 

Silly Saturday – Seen Sideways

A new exhibition opens here at the weekend, challenging how we perceive the world around us. The artist and photographer Scribaltide claims there is no up or down, on earth or anywhere in the universe, so therefore we should free ourselves from the notion that there is a right way up to hang paintings and photographs. The exhibition has been panned by critics and the Royal Photographic Society has distanced itself, saying Scribaltides’s pictures are not of a standard they would recognise, even the right way up.

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Noah’s Ark, the wilderness years.

 

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The Flood

                                                         Tide Times

New Horizons

                                                      Steep Path

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Skyfall

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Red Door

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                                                         Dark Angel

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Heatwave

                                                               Globe

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                                                   Spiralling

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The public have been flocking to the exhibition, but there have been reports of some viewers being taken ill with dizzy spells and nausea. A disclaimer advises those with a heart condition or who are pregnant to seek the advice of their doctor first.

Flash Fiction Friday

I was once short listed for a six word flash fiction competition at https://www.magicoxygen.co.uk/    The excitement in the house (mainly mine) was of Olympic proportions. If I had won the £100 prize it would be the most £s per word I was ever likely to be paid. The six words?

‘I am starting again’ said God.

A tale that covers the whole universe and time itself? Is it fiction, does flash fiction need to tell a story. Could ‘Instructions’ be the sequel?

Instructions

‘Just follow the instructions,’ said the exasperated father ‘you put too much water in last time.’

‘But it looked so beautiful and shiny.’

‘Sparkle and glitter are no good if it doesn’t work properly. You need to get the axis straight for a start.’

‘The axis would have been fine if my stupid sister hadn’t thrown lumps of rock.’

‘You must learn by your mistakes, the structure has been unstable all along, you were over ambitious. Now it’s time to get back to basics and before we can do that you need to dismantle E1. It’s all recycling these days… Don’t look at me like that, you knew we’d have to put them down; you can have new pets when I’m satisfied with E2; not so many this time, pets that don’t eat each other or kill one another.’     141 words

 

How long is flash fiction?  Paragraph Planet publishes a daily piece that must be 75 words exactly. Several of us at writers’ group had one or more paragraphs accepted and for a while it became an obsession to tailor a piece to 75 words.   http://www.paragraphplanet.com/

Cold

A crystalline cold dawn; heavy snow had reached their valley for the first time. His master had just made it back. Usually Nicolai hated the long winter nights, but each breath that seared his lungs brought hope. In late afternoon the clear sky brought a violet shimmer to the virgin snow at the graveyard. Nicolai thrust his stick through crystal layers; it juddered on the iron cold ground. The master would not be arising tonight.    75 words

 

Several of us once entered a one hundred word competition with the theme of inventing a new word. We were unsuccessful. The winning entries were very serious and intense.

Reursinement

Her Majesty’s minister barely read the title of the document ‘Reursinement – Natural Culling’ before scanning the paragraphs… environmentally sustainable… ecological balance… and signing his name. His constituents and the Forestry Commission should be delighted, fewer complaints about car accidents, trampled gardens or ruined saplings.

Operation Goldilocks took place at night, the team quickly assessed their new environment; those experiencing freedom for the first time guided by the migrants from North Eastern Europe.

Nearby, a stag sniffed the night air and felt a primeval fear.

Days later the news headlines read

Walker Killed as Bears Introduced to Beauty Spot without Public Consultation

 

Do you prefer something longer?

Felicity’s Farewell

Caroline hated crematoriums, but Felicity had been her best friend. Mathew looked drawn, ill; thankfully the thirty minute slot meant a short ceremony.

Always look on the bright side of life…

Fliss had joked she wanted that song played at her funeral; some of the elderly relatives looked shocked, already upset there would be no vicar, no service. Her friend was an atheist who abhorred hypocrisy. They had discussed funerals after enduring a requiem mass for a colleague. Felicity had not expected hers to be so soon, but she had made one serious request; her body should be used for medical research. Only Caroline and Mathew knew of this request; under the circumstances cremation was the wisest option.

Mathew was seated in the front row, Felicity’s parents either side. Her sister, a tower of strength, now rose to speak. Caroline clasped her open bag, checking again that her phone was switched off and the throat lozenges were handy; she would speak next.

Her eyes darted back to the bag, a glow, a text message…

Seems I got it wrong; I am to meet my maker…

Caroline shivered as the message rolled, was someone playing a joke? She tried to switch off.

No joke Caro, you and Mathew will have to account one day. I was blind, hindsight is a wonderful thing, especially on the other side. Tell the truth, don’t let them press the button, forensics must speak for me. Then I can move on, perhaps forgive you both… Fliss             250 words

If you can think of an original six word story, please add it in Comments.

I included flash fiction in my collection ‘Someone Somewhere’.