Sunday Snippet (Flash Fiction), Call Me Ishmael by Bill Chance

In a moment of panic, Sam realized that he had almost forgotten the woman’s name. He thought it was Elizabeth… but he wasn’t sure.

—- Bill Chance, Call Me Ishmael

Kindle

Call Me Ishmael

I found some stuff in an obscure subdirectory that I think I wrote a few years ago. Looking at it – I have no memory of having written it at all. I worry that maybe I didn’t write it – maybe I typed it in (or copied and pasted) from somewhere else. I did a bunch of internet searches and found nothing. So maybe it is mine. Anyway, here is the shortest piece – which, ironically, has some relevance to today. If you have read it somewhere else – sorry – I didn’t mean to. Maybe it’s from a virus.

Call Me Ishmael

Sam was enthralled. The woman was beautiful, tall and slim – friendly, and she seemed truly interested in him. He felt that finally, someone genuine had come along. They met waiting in line at the buffet and walked together to a little round table at the rear. She was telling Sam her story.

“It was tough, having four sisters like that,” she said. “My sister Jane is older than me. She is very beautiful.”

In a moment of panic, Sam realized that he had almost forgotten the woman’s name. He thought it was Elizabeth… but he wasn’t sure.

“It’s amazing how different we all are from each other. My next younger sister, Mary, is so smart… such a good student. Lydia, the youngest, is a ball of fire and Kitty does whatever she is told.”

The woman went on with her story, telling of some man that was in love with her sister and a friend of his – some rich loutish oaf that was causing her a lot of grief. Sam became more and more suspicious. When the woman excused herself, saying, “I’ll be right back,” he pulled out his phone and opened the “Real or Not” app. Thinking for a second, he then typed in her name along with her four sisters: Elizabeth, Nancy, Kitty, Mary and Lydia.

The app immediately responded with, “Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.”

“Crap!” Sam said to himself as he gathered himself up quickly so he could leave before “Elizabeth” returned. “Another fake…. There are so many.”


It started with the CIA – a way to send secret messages. A method had been developed, deep within the laboratories of the Military-Industrial Complex, to encode English text onto a string of DNA. This was then inserted into a virus, and a human carrier was infected. The idea was that this person would travel to a destination, sneeze out some of the virus, and the DNA could be decoded.

A completely unexpected problem came up, however. To this day, nobody really understands the mechanism, but once the carrier was infected with the virus, he would understand the message. It would appear as if he had experienced it in the past. The message would usually attach itself to some real memory… like a favorite childhood scene or a more recent traumatic incident.

It didn’t take long for this to become a tool in education. Entire volumes were encoded in DNA and inserted into students. At first, an injection was needed, then a drop on a sugar cube. Finally, a professor would be infected with the virus and he would simply sneeze towards the class from the front of the hall.

And that was what spiraled out of control – the entire population was infected with an epidemic of literature. Modern, popular works were tightly controlled, injected, because publishers needed to get paid. Classic literature, out of copyright, was widely disseminated – there was nothing to stop the spread.

As the viruses evolved and duplicated the literature began to warp. Finally, all those stories mixed and changed and sank in until nobody really knew what was a true memory and what was a leftover from classic literature.

 

Can You Spare A Square?

“The worst job in the whole world must be recycling toilet paper.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

I always stop at a handful of Little Free Libraries on my bike rides around my ‘hood. I don’t pick up books (though I look to see if there is an especially interesting one – there hasn’t been) – rather, I drop books off. That helps me deal with my natural bookish hoarder tendencies.

Today, at one near my house, I spotted this extra addition.

Little Free Library near my house – with extra goodies.

Little Free Library near my house.

Six rolls of precious toilet paper tucked in among the tomes.

So if you live on the east side of Richardson, and are desperate for a roll, contact me and I’ll give you the location.