Community Service

I have chosen a writing prompt from The Daily Post today which read:

Your entire community – however you define that; your hometown, your neighbourhood, your family, your colleagues – is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them to read.

I have followed this only very loosely to write a short story about a someone who writes a blog that everybody will read tomorrow, only hinting at the contents.

As always with my stories born of prompts, it is only a first draft and I’m never sure whether they make sense or not until someone else reads them, so please feel free to leave comments letting me know how you feel about it.

***

Community Service 

I turn the pin badge over and over in my fingers, the smiling face of Guardian Tor flashing his intensely white teeth at me with each turn. I consider flipping it to absolve me of responsibility, heads I post it, tails I don’t. If only it were that easy to decide the fate of two hundred thousand people.

The office is deserted besides me and the ancient cleaner who sprays and wipes with nerve fraying apathy. I strain to see who’s pin badge he wears but the lights are too dim to make it out. He’ll be wearing one, the law demands your allegiance is displayed. We’ve all witnessed the penalties suffered by dissenters.

Guardian Tor’s bilious smile undermines my resolve from every wall, his election propaganda fused into the fabric of my being like an unwelcome scab. This office is his voice, his communication hub in a city of enslaved, herded followers. Every resident ingests a daily blog of believable lies provided by me at the push of a button; the assurance of fabled fruits we’ve never tasted, new power supplies promising life to idle household appliances, and even the expansion of our approved reading list to over fifty titles. Every family drinks in these updates with the dream of a better future, the return to a long-gone past. Ancestor’s tales are repeated to generations of sleepy children by hopeful parents; stories of fresh milk from cows, of oversized fridges stacked with more food than they have ever seen and schools crowded with children no matter who their parents are. This blog hovers a ribbon of hope, twisting in the wind and cheerfully swirling just out of reach. It balances the ever-present rules cutting a track through our lives like a passive aggressive ticker tape on a loop across our television screens. Nobody can escape or opt out, participation is not optional.

I press my eyeballs as hard as I dare through closed lids to reset my thoughts. I am numb from shelling my neighbours with breezy news of the election, declaring how we are ‘embracing our individuality’ and ‘celebrating our differences’ by holding an open and free election. The first one in living memory. A sense of uneasy euphoria has settled over the city despite the public nature of the vote and a rare fission of excitement buzzes around the streets and workhouses. The Guardian has decreed that votes will be cast by attending hosted events, there will be no tedious ballot papers, your ID chip will register your vote as you walk through the door. The city believes the election will be fair, that democracy will return to rule them, that there will be no repercussions. How wrong they are.

The cursor blinks on the screen in front of me, I have finished my final post for Guardian Tor’s blog before I disappear into the underground with my fellow activists. I pray that it’s powerful enough to snap the city from its daydream, I’ve provided proof of his plans to cull those who so brazenly vote against him. It’s no coincidence his opponents events are being held in enclosed buildings, he will have hundreds of easy targets to strike in a single orchestrated volley. His weapon of choice will seep silently into the sealed buildings. His paralysed victims unable to save their collapsing bodies from shutting down, leaving them conscious until the grisly end. This weapon of choice is designed to send a clear message to the city now free of potential separatists. His rule is law. He will not tolerate autonomous thinking.

This is all I can do, I have the means to tell the people and I have to believe in their ability to remove the blinkers, to tear off their own scabs of oppression as I have torn off mine.

The activists will lead an uprising when the tide of opinion to turns, this post will be the start of it. The fate of two hundred thousand people depend on their reaction to what it contains, I pray to any deity listening to help me plant a seed of doubt, to shun the election, to rise up against the Guardian. If it works, we will lose many men, women and children in the fight, if it doesn’t, the activists will keep trying to loosen the Guardian’s chokehold on the city we love.

I flip the pin badge. Heads I post it, tails I still post it.

I press ‘publish’ and walk swiftly from the office, smiling at the chimes of emails arriving in inboxes around the room.

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About Nicola Auckland

Busy wife to one & mum to two. I've caught the creative writing bug, now need to practice, get awesome and write something worth reading. Simples.
This entry was posted in blogging101, Short Stories and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Community Service

  1. thediybistro says:

    Creative, enthralling, immediately draws the reader in. Beautifully crafted. You have a real gift! Amazing way to use the prompt for fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I am always astounded when someone likes my scribbles. It’s very humbling.

      I have just this minute updated the story to add in some improvements suggested by other commenters, I hope you feel it makes it better.

      Thank you for reading and for following my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mariawanders says:

    One, I think your post is well written despite the minor critters mentioned in the comment.
    Two, This is a nice way to approach the prompt.
    And Three, my mind, while reading this, is actually visualizing every scene as if it was from a movie. This one can be a plot for a screenplay. Thumbs up to this post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think your post was very well written and what’s not in it is as important as what is. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sonya says:

    First of all: I love it. You created a complete, terrifying world in this short space, and you made me care about the narrator. The badge-flipping at beginning and end is a great way of tying the piece together. I like the open ending, but I’d happily read more, as well.

    A few things you could do to make it even better, in my opinion. These are only suggestions, so feel free to ignore:

    You have quite a lot of sentences separated by commas that would benefit from full stops, or, in some cases, semicolons. If you put commas in to separate sentences, it comes across quite stream-of-consciousness. I don’t think your narrator is rambling, though – this person knows exactly what they’re up to.

    “the law demands that your allegiance be displayed and the establishment has zero tolerance for dissenters.” This sentence jarred with me a bit. Throughout the piece, you show us this world, rather than tell us about it. I think it only needs a little tweaking, something like ‘nobody is allowed into these offices unless they abide by the law and display their allegiance.’

    And someone has already pointed out prey/pray.

    Like

    • Thank you for your feedback, I have made a few tweaks tonight changing the errant sentence to

      ‘I strain to see who’s pin badge he wears but the lights are too dim to make it out. He’ll be wearing one, the law demands your allegiance is displayed. We’ve all witnessed the penalties suffered by dissenters.’

      I’ve also tightened up the sentence structure a bit so hopefully it’s easier to read.

      Thanks again,

      Nicola

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sonya says:

        Really like the change. I think it’s much stronger now, and makes the regime look more terrifying.

        I also like the bits you’ve added; this one in particular: ‘the assurance of fabled fruits we’ve never tasted, new power supplies promising life to idle household appliances, and even the expansion of our approved reading list to over fifty titles.’

        Like

  5. honestme363 says:

    I like the way your mind works! Your writing skills do leave a person wanting more, like Dr. Meg suggested, a short story. (I.E I enjoyed it so much I would have happily read more) Well done! P.S. I have nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award in my latest post. Feel free to ignore/comply/save it in a draft for a later date. The awards can be tedious if too many come in a row. If/when you answer the questions please leave me a comment somewhere so I can read your answers. Thanks!

    Like

    • Thank you Kelly, my mind is a dark place sometimes (as you will see by today’s rewrite of the story).

      Thank you so much for the award, I will gratefully accept and store it away for another day. I am so humbled by the awards friendly bloggers have nominated me for, people are so lovely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It was well written. Stories born from prompts are more wonderful than one might imagine them to be initially.
    Although, I did choose a more humorous approach to it, this prompt does hold its value as a fiction piece as well.

    PS – I dare to make a suggestion regarding the word ‘too’. Instead of writing too white you could use a word such a shimmering, or glittering, etc. When you used ‘too dim to read’ on the other hand, there it fits well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All suggestions gratefully received, I’ll tweak the sentence for the better.

      Thank you for reading, I’ll head over and read yours too, I love to see how other people interpret prompts and I rarely see someone do the same one as me. I didn’t know this daily prompt section existed, I definitely be doing more, there are literally hundreds to compare with.

      Like

  7. Oh my god, this is fantastic! You should definitely expand upon this for a short story or a full length novel/novella. You have a real knack for running wild with the writing prompt. Just one observation, and it’s a minor one, there are a couple typos (Pray, not prey,etc.) that once corrected, will make this piece shine! You go girl!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. rdmaxwell55 says:

    Yours is the first blog post I came upon on the prompt “community service.” Your take on it is slightly more dramatic than mine. OMG! Did I do it wrong? I agree with the previous two comments. Definitely reminiscent of Orwell. I tried to guess what country you were writing from or what political party. Couldn’t figure it out. Could be any country, I guess, any so-called democracy, and any political persuasion. You kept me reading until the very end, so I’d say you succeeded. Good blog post! Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading, I tried to twist the prompt into something that would fit into my blog, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to approach them.

      I’m in the UK, I left the time and location of the story deliberately vague yet strongly dystopian so as not to draw obvious comparisons with existing political leanings!

      Thank you for reading, I look forward to reading your take on the prompt.

      Like

  9. kirstwrites says:

    I like this! Definite shades of 1984. If you don’t mind a bit of constructive feedback, I would have liked more detail about the ‘blog of believable lies’ and the ‘weapons designed to send a clear message’ – I feel like there’s an opportunity there to convey a bit more of what sounds like a menacing regime!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Rachel says:

    Scary! Because it’s so true. Orwellian.

    Liked by 1 person

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