A Synthetic Life


The walls of the living room became somewhat more opaque. David Saunders nodded in approval. That was better. It was a pain to take his immersive video feed off-line again, as it seemed to attract hackers like sharks to fresh blood. However, the new model synths were rumoured to be very quick to detect personal criticism or disparagement. A whingeing synth was the last thing he wanted. It would only be for a short while. There was a conversation to be had before he’d be able to effect certain necessary alterations – not approved by the manufacturer.

He was the only one who was going to be complaining today. “Call Synthuserve.”

While he was waiting for the house to make the connection, his eyes lighted on the verimeter stripe on the wall opposite, next to the door. The man stared at it morosely. He was a businessman, therefore it was compulsory to have one. It was no comfort to him that anyone holding public office also had to display one. Green was fine, yellow was allowable on occasion, orange was probably malpractice of some sort, and red was automatic trial and sentence.

The rest of the wall brightened and a mildly 3-D image of a young woman appeared.

She smiled brightly. “Good morning, Mr Saunders. How can I help?”

David Saunders was old-fashioned in some ways, and he was grudgingly pleased that they’d remembered his preferences. Except in one respect.

He scowled at the female. For a moment she looked as if she was mentally reviewing something, then she morphed into an equally smiley, slightly older young man.

That was better.

“Mr Saunders, how is your new synth? It’s one of our newest models. Does he meet with your expectations? Any feedback you have will be most valuable.”

“He’s a walking disaster. I wish to speak with a human.”

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Alisha wished the pain would go away. She shuffled on the hard plastic seating in the dentists’ surgery, keeping her gaze well away from the lurid posters. A throb which started at the base of her molar, experienced no difficulty in traversing her left cheekbone up as far as her eye socket. Staring blankly at her phone, she tried to calculate how much that one almond would come to. Fingers crossed, it would only be a filling. Even that was sixty quid.

Another victim entered the waiting room; seeing him walk through interrupted Alisha’s train of thought. Continue reading

Penguin Jive

Harold shuffled into the bedroom and inspected what his housekeeper had laid out. He did a quick check: dinner jacket, bow tie, cummerbund, and all the rest of it. A gala evening at the ballet warranted dressing up. With an air of resignation, his gaze took in the black, slip-on shoes. They had nothing on lace-ups, but his hands couldn’t manage tying knots. Same with cuff-links. Slowly, he stripped off. The taxi was due in thirty minutes; it wouldn’t do to keep his companion waiting.

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Guilty As Charged …

5 Overused Words in Fiction

I finally remembered to read this post. The email notification languished for several weeks, waiting patiently to be noticed. Was it worth it? Oh, yes …

It could’ve been written with me in mind. Sigh. The only thing in my favour is most of the time, I know I do it. So I’m on my guard, alternative words and structures at the ready. Some of the examples given in this post are interesting and maybe I’ll give them a go. However hard I try not to overuse certain words, pages of mine reappear from the past which I read, shaking my head.

Did I write this? Really?

If you’re a writer, pay the post a visit. I think you’ll enjoy it. Sort of …


Sitting at the kitchen table, Duncan gazed blankly at his bowl of cereal. He lifted his spoon, let it hang in mid-air for a moment before slowly dropping it back into the bowl. The contents were soggy and cold. Why had he made it in the first place? Habit, most likely. Something to try and make the day seem normal. He wasn’t hungry; far from it.

The clock’s tick echoed in the silence. Continue reading

Trash: Prelude and Fugue

Old attic discards
wait patiently by the road,
writing histories.


sit on the curb,
get scavenged and reclaimed;                                           Look more
in time, most find new uses and                                     carefully at
warm homes;                                              what people throw away
one such                                               and you may discover untold
watches traffic pass slowly by,                                            treasure;
growing ever surer                                                                             even
of the fire or                                      the most unlikely looking box
landfill.                                                       can contain enchantments
….                                                                                                   to captivate
….                                                                                                        the heart.


©Copyright, 2017, Parker Owens.

Please note: if you receive this as an email, you may need to visit the page to see the poem in its proper form.

You may find all of Parker’s work at GayAuthors.org

Daily Bread

Tom Stephenson lowered himself carefully onto his usual waterside park bench. Clutched in his hand was a plastic bag containing stale bread and some of the previous day’s chips from his fish supper. He basked in the afternoon sunshine, letting the warmth chase away some of his aches and pains.

The previous week, a series of blustery showers meant his visits to the pond were short ones. He hardly ever stayed away though. How were the birds meant to survive if he didn’t feed them? What did the pond give them to eat? To his eyes, the expanse of water was devoid of sustenance. Tom frowned. His favourites were the ducks, and he loved watching the antics of their ducklings. He couldn’t bear the thought of them going hungry.

A couple of mallard ducks waddled out of the water and seemed to be staring at him. Well, they’d have to wait for a few minutes. Tom let his eyelids droop: a quick snooze, then he’d do his duty.

“He’s back again.” The duck’s quacks expressed indignation. “Him and his bag.”

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Ugly? Never. You’re beautiful.

Ball over, she stands, recalling words overheard; burnt into a jealous soul.

A slipper shard hangs, bloodied, from her hand.

No more charming.

Satisfied, she steps over the bodies – her prince and his man – and leaves.

© 2019, northie

My second attempt at the microprose challenge. Your comments and constructive criticism are welcomed.

 Image by Desertrose7 on Pixabay


William rushed in through the Abbey’s main entrance, his habit flapping around his legs in the autumnal wind. Hugo, another novice, followed close behind. Their laughter echoed through the stone building until they spied Brother Absalom in the distance. Immediately, they quietened down, acting more like Benedictine monks.

Hugo breathed a comment. “I think Absalom’s drunk a quart of vinegar.”

William suppressed a snort with difficulty. They both hurried to join the throng waiting to enter the chapter house.

The young man sighed inwardly. His stomach was so empty, he couldn’t believe it would ever be full again. It would be ages before their one main meal of the day. The two novices slipped out after Terce and went scrumping in the Abbey’s apple orchard. A couple of pippins nestled under his cowl, waiting only for a God-given opportunity to be eaten.

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