Creative Writing, Writing

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing I – Homework 1

So after years of not writing pretty much anything, I decided to take an intro writing course to try and get myself back into the habit of writing every day (sometimes my days as an English major in college feel so far away). Anyway, I’ve realized I’ve developed a massive sense of anxiety about people reading my writing, so I decided that I’d post my homework every week just to sort of get me over those jitters before turning them in at class. Most of the pieces will be of the flash fiction variety (500-100 words) and about an assigned topic.

This week’s topic was more broad than what I imagine future topics will be. In a nutshell, it was to find a news story and to use it as a jumping off point. I ended up using this one  about brain scans being used to pick people out of crowds and just sort of went with it. Anyway, there’s not much else to say so without further ado, here’s my first homework assignment:

Zach’s foot tapped restlessly on the cool marble floor, his sneakers squeaking with each moment, continually breaking the irritated silence surrounding him. Averting his eyes as the woman in front of him shot a disapproving look at his nervous tapping, Zach removed his cap for a moment and ran his fingers through his hair, self-consciously feeling the array of small metal studs he had painstakingly attached to his scalp over the last three days. The positioning had been paramount—if even one stud was off a fraction of an inch he’d find himself behind bars…or worse.

Calm down. Zach’s voice felt loud in his own head as forced his foot to stop twitching. Taking a deep breath, he took another look around the bank, making mental notes of all the exits nearest to him for the fifth time in the last half hour. It’ll be fine. You’ve done this hundreds of times. Just do what you normally do and everything will work out.

An annoyed throat clear from behind him brought Zach out of his head and abruptly back to the sluggish line. Quickly closing the gap he had allowed to open up, he soon found his foot tapping nervously again.

You’ve done this hundreds of times, he chanted to himself as he absently grabbed a withdrawal slip from the table beside him and began filling it out. You’ve made a withdrawal every Monday for years. Just grab the money and get out.

Approaching the front of the line, Zach rubbed his face in his hands, readying himself for a moment as his turn came up. Approaching the teller, he gave the machine a brief wide smile.

“Hello, sir.” The robotic voice chirped at him as he approached.

“Hello,” Zach echoed back automatically. “I’d like to make a withdrawal.” He passed the withdrawal slip through the glass partition as he spoke.

“Very good sir. And do you have the account number?” The machine chirped away again as it reached up for the form causing Zach to shiver. It had been over two years since most tellers had been replaced with their machine counterparts, but it still unnerved him when the machines acted vaguely human. It was supposed to be comforting, affording customers a familiar experience, but in Zach’s eyes it placed the machines squarely in the middle of the Uncanny Valley—especially when they did things like asking questions they already knew the answer to.

“I don’t…” Zach’s voice trailed off as he spoke, his heart thundering in his chest.

“No problem. If you could take a step to the right and lean your head forward into the scanner I can pull up your information.”

Taking a small step to the right, Zach took a deep breath and steadied himself before removing his cap and leaning forward to place his head in the box-like scanning zone. Whispering a small prayer to himself, he once again did a mental sweep of the studs along his scalp. Trying to feel their positioning without using his fingers.

A moment later a barrage of tiny red lasers shot out of the walls surrounding his face him and towards his head. They’ll match up, Zach thought to himself as he strained to keep perfectly still. They’ll match…they’ll match…they’ll match…” he chanted in his head. Please match…*

And then as abruptly as the process had started it ended. Quickly standing tall and replacing his cap, Zach did an almost giddy sweep of the room. Holy shit. I think it worked! Resting his hands on the counter, Zach took a few seconds to bask.

The teller cleared its throat annoyedly snapping Zach out of his head with an unnerved shiver. “Mr. Wildfell!”

“Sorry…what was the question?” Zach stammered unused to answering to someone else’s name.

“Which account would you like to make the withdrawal from?”

“Oh…um…my savings account. The one with the largest balance.” He straightened himself as he spoke, putting more authority into his voice.

“Very good. And what denomination of bills would you like?”

“Hundreds.” Zach’s heart leapt into his throat with excitement as he heard the bill counter rattling on the other side of the glass.

“And do you need an envelope?” The teller buzzed with programmed absence.

“Yes please.”

“And is there anything else I can help you with Mr. Wildfell?”

“No, that’s it.” Zach smiled as he slipped the prominent package into his jacket pocket. “Have a good day!”

Walking briskly out of the bank, Zach smiled excitedly, all off his previous nervousness gone. Removing his baseball cap, he peeled one of the studs from his head and examined the microchip on the bottom. “God bless the mechanization of America.”

Replacing his cap and pocketing the small chip he stepped to the corner and hailed the first cab he saw, his mind already wandering to the next mark he had set up.

You sir Mr. Ingram are about to be a very rich man.

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