Sunday 5 June 2011

They Stole Our Future

The boy on Kelli’s couch was a lost past, a broken future, a good time and all kinds of tears rolled into one. You know the kind.

“Hey, Justin.”

Justin groaned.

Kelli watched him rub his eyes, watched him wince and squint himself awake. He didn’t look good. Gone was the naive, beautiful dancer she remembered, instead he had turned up on her doorstep unshaven, unwashed, unkempt. His clothes were a mess, he was a mess. He had collapsed.

They (Bry and Nate and her) had dragged him up the claustrophobic, dangerous stairs into the flat. They banged his head once, he hadn’t seemed to notice. He was laid on the sofa and amidst frowns and reminiscences Nate pronounced him stable, just passed out through exhaustion. It seemed plausible. No ambulance was needed, they decided. They were of a culture that looked after themselves, because one emergency service often invited another, and there was no need to make things complicated.

When he really did just seem to be sleeping, Kelli had persuaded Bryony and Nate to go home. She’d looked after worse than this, club-casualties only able to stay conscious long enough to vomit, shivering and sweating and so sorry, sorry, sorry. At one time or another they’d all played nursemaid, they’d all needed one. She’d looked after Justin before. And this, this was easy, he was just sleeping. So she sent them home.

That was last night. Kelli hadn’t slept. Just made tea, drank tea and watched him.

“Whasshppn,” Justin said. Or something like that.

He coughed. “What’s Happening?” He caught sight of Kelli. “Oh.”

“So. It’s been a while, Just.”

“Kells. I’m really sorry, I didn’t know where else to go.”

“Hey, it’s ok, I mean, we’re still friends, right? It’s ok.”

“I- yeah, we’re still friends. I’m sorry.” He rolled into a sitting position and rubbed his face, blinking hard. “I should go.”

“Woah, you just got here, you’re in no state to go anywhere.”

“I can’t, ah, I shouldn’t have come.”

“It’s ok.” She smiled. “Really. Have a shower, have breakfast. We’ll talk about old times, the good times.”

“No, it’s not, I mean.” He glanced around the room. “I’ve been here too long, they’ll come for me.”

“What are you talking about? Who? What the fuck are you involved in?”

“It’s too hard to explain. I’m sorry. I’ll just go.” He started to get up.

She grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back onto the sofa. “No. Explain.”

“I,” he saw the determination in her eyes and didn’t try getting up again, “listen, you remember the stuff we used to believe in, the future? The stuff we used to talk about.”

“OK... yeah. So, like, computers and smart phones and all the cool stuff that we actually have now?”

“No, that was never the future we talked about. That’s the future they fobbed us off with, that’s the future they distract us with.”

“What? It looks like the future to me.”

“It’s all the same thing! OK, so it’s cool, but it’s all computers, it’s one piece of advanced technology with a whole bunch of applications. Where’s the rest?”

“I don’t get it.”

There was an intensity to Justin’s face now. “Jet packs and flying cars and space stations and robots!”

“Science fiction?”

“No! It shouldn’t be, look at computers, look how they’ve advanced, why haven’t all of those things advanced?”

“Look, Justin.” Her brow creased with worry. “You really need some rest.”

“Don’t you get it?”

“You can see all those other things on YouTube, Just. They’re all, well, they’re a bit rubbish.”

“That’s just propaganda. That’s what they allow you to see.”


“I shouldn’t have come, I’m sorry, they’ll track me, they’ll come here, they’ll track my thoughts, they can do that.”

And she couldn’t make him stay. It broke her heart all over again to see him like this, once so bright and happy and calm, now so agitated and... abstract. She let him out and went back upstairs, he knew the trick to get the downstairs gate open so she stayed inside, just looked out of the living room window, down to the street, waiting for him to reappear; waiting for him to walk away from her life, again.

As she waited a sleek, black car pulled over on the opposite side of the road. It wasn’t a make she recognised; it had fifties fins and chrome, but swept into a more modern build. It didn’t seem to sit right either, bobbing slightly, and the red glow to the back end seemed too bright, too obvious in the morning light.

The car shifted oddly as two large men climbed out of the passenger side doors. They were broad shouldered, broad all over in fact, heavy looking, with dark suits and brimmed hats that concealed their faces and made them look like exaggerated cartoon gangsters. She caught a flash of the early morning light reflected from beneath a hat; mirrored shades perhaps?

One of them had some kind of handheld device with a spinning antenna on top; he consulted it then put it back into the car. He nodded at the other and they crossed the road towards where her gate let out onto the street. Her heart leapt, there was no way she had time to warn Justin. They disappeared from sight; she couldn’t see down the very side of the building without actually leaning out of the window and somehow she knew she didn’t want to be spotted by these men.

She heard Justin yelp, and the sounds of a struggle. Then the two men came back into view, carrying Justin back towards the car; he might have been no more than a piece of furniture, the firm grip they had on him and the way they matter-of-factly shoved him into the back seat.

She should call the police. But what would they do? She would wait and see where the car went and take its number plate. Then call the police.

Justin caught sight of her at the window.

“They stole our future!”

The men looked upwards and she caught another flash of sunlight glinting off metal as she ducked beneath the window sill. She didn’t think they saw her.

From outside there was a flash of light and a deep, soft ‘fwump’ noise. Then the room went dark as something too large rushed upwards past her window.

She scrambled round and stared into the sky at the rapidly diminishing rocket car. Her mouth hung open.

She completely forgot to take the number plate.

Apologies for running a hundred words over a thousand this week. If you stuck it out all the way to the end, thank you! =)

Also, you can hear me (actually hear me!) rambling and reading a 101 words of very short fiction on audioboo.


  1. This is told very well: it's tight, descriptive and with the right amount of suspense for a story of this length. There could be so much more to tell, but then it wouldn't be flash fiction. I'd love to know what Justin knows though.
    Think i'll take a look around your blogs.....

  2. Thanks, flyingscribbler. =)

    I think Justin's seen a few things he shouldn't have... What I'd like to know is where he's been taken, and who's in charge... ;)

  3. No problem with the extra 100. I've done worse, and these were well worth it! Stole our future indeed!

  4. Nice idea, and again, well written. It's always tricky getting the number plate on those rocket things. As a kid, raised on the concept of atomic watches, under-sea farms and Mars missions, I figure somebody *has* nicked off with the future.


  5. Thanks, FAR, Stephen. =)

    This did totally arise from my own ponderings over how society's idea of what the future will be both diverges from, and influences, what the future actually becomes (and how the idea of 'the future' changes as time progresses).