Monday, September 10, 2012

Story: Geology Addiction

Today's story is another one of Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenges.  I started writing this on Friday, but got stuck on the ending.  I finished it up this morning and it ended up being 998 words, just shy of the 1000 word limit.

The trick of this challenge was to randomly select a word from three sets of words that he provided.  I first got Dystopian, which I liked a lot.  Then I got Geology.  That one stumped me quite a bit, at first.  Finally, I got Addiction.  That I was all right with.  I hope you like the results.


Carl could still hear the sounds of voices and motorcycles outside of the dumpster he was hiding in.  Two of the members of the Federal Protection Force had already opened the lid and hadn't spotted him, so he was sure they wouldn't find him today.  Of course, they have been searching for him for over an hour, so they were being admirably persistent.  If you could admire anyone in that organization.

He reflected on how he'd gotten into this situation.  Everyone knew that practicing any sort of earth science was against the law, but Carl couldn't help himself.  He was addicted to geology.  He found it fascinating how the Earth worked and how different minerals were formed.  Living in the Hawaiian Federation would have been a geologist's dream, if you could have been one in the modern world.  He'd gotten careless and went out to Mauna Kea three times this week and had finally been spotted by a patrol.  They'd chased him, but he'd made it to his motorcycle and gotten to Hilo before they could catch him. It was too close of a call, he'd have to be more careful next time.

It struck him, not for the first time, that the government's ban against the earth sciences was an unfair and old fashioned idea.  History wasn't his strong suit, but it had been over one hundred years since the ecological disasters of the early twenty-first century.  People who studied the earth wouldn't make the same mistakes as their counterparts from the century before, would they?

How anyone studying the earth sciences had even caused the disasters in the first place still confused him.  Of course, he was only an amateur scientist, so perhaps he didn't have the insight that his predecessors had.  Before, he'd always assumed that the government had everyone's best interests at heart about this since the laws were enacted during the height of the crises, but now he was doubting that more every day.

Things weren't all bad, though.  News agencies were starting to report that the environment was improving around the world and that people would likely be able to return to the large continents within his lifetime.  It made him wonder what it was like to live on a large landmass.  To have the freedom to roam.  To be somewhere where you knew that there wasn't another human being within kilometers of you.  People were so crowded in Hawaii that you couldn't be alone unless you went up to the volcanoes.  That was part of the appeal of geology to Carl.

Carl realized that the sounds of the patrols had gone away.  Cautiously, he uncovered himself from the trash around him and slowly lifted the lid of the dumpster.  He breathed a sigh of relief, not to mention fresh air, when he saw that the coast was clear.  He crawled out of the dumpster and headed home.

He managed to get home without encountering another patrol, which was good since he was out past curfew.  When he entered his house, he found his wife waiting for him.  She looked angry.  "You were out at the volcano again, weren't you?"  She sniffed him and said, "You almost got caught this time too, didn't you?"

Carl sheepishly replied, "Yes to both questions.  I got away though and hid my bike on the west side of town.  It should be fine until we can go get it in the morning."

Marsha's expression didn't change.  "Did you at least remove the plates?  Or should I be expecting them to break through the door at any moment?"

"No to worry, my dear, we're safe in that regard," he replied.  "If you don't mind, I'd like to remove these smelly clothes and have a shower."

Carl started to step around his wife when he heard the sounds of engines outside.  He froze in a panic as the front door flew in with four Federals right behind it, guns first.  Two of them grabbed Carl, the third pushed Marsha back with his gun at her head and the fourth put a cowl over Carl's head as the first two bound his hands behind his back.

He was pushed outside and into a vehicle before he could say anything.  "What's going on?  Where are you taking me?"

A gruff voice said, "Shut up.  You've violated Federal Laws and will be punished.  Speak again at your own peril."

Carl didn't know what that meant, but everyone heard stories about people who went into Federal custody.  They typically didn't come back.  He was forced to bide his time and see what would happen, since there wasn't much he could do anyway.

After what seemed like hours, the vehicle stopped.  Carl was pulled out of the vehicle and pushed around for a while until he was pushed into a chair.  The cowl was pulled off of his head and he blinked against the bright light that was shining in his face.  A few moments later, his eyes adjusted somewhat.  He sensed, rather than saw, two figures on the other side of the light.  "What's this all about?" he asked.

"Mr. Walters, you've been caught practicing forbidden sciences.  We've found your motorcycle laden with ill-gotten volcanic rock and our search team has found the geology lab you've been hiding in your home," one of the voices said.

The other voice said, "You know that practicing geology is a crime in the Hawaiian Federation.  You are guilty of this crime.  Do you have anything to say for yourself?"

"I haven't done anything wrong.  Science helps us understand the Earth better.  Maybe if people had understood the Earth better, we wouldn't have had the..."

Carl suddenly felt an intense pain in his chest and looked down to see the end of a blade sticking out of it.  A man walked around from behind him.  As Carl died, he heard, "You were too smart for your own good, Carl.  Can't have those ideas floating around."

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