May 2018 Competition

Wed, May 2 2018 12:21am IST 1
223 Posts


In novels, movies and computer games, dystopia is a recurrent setting. Thought crime, sex crime, the supreme leader's fragile ego; even religion can be thought of as a form of dystopia, with the supreme deity demanding tribute and punishing from on high if he doesn't receive it.

Dystopia can be dark, but it can also be light: the Soviet Union was regimented, highly-controlled and spied upon, but its people still knew how to have fun - it was just 'politically correct' fun. Some subjects were lampooned, but others were scrupulously avoided, becoming Things Which Must Not Be Said, except by the truly brave or the monumentally well-connected.

Dystopias can be historical, modern, or futuristic; they can play out from either side of the fence - the oppressor or oppressed; I don't mind which. As an author of dystopia fiction, I'm always happy to see other peoples' takes on the subject.

So show me dystopia, in no more than 400 words.

Wed, May 2 2018 12:56pm IST 2
67 Posts
I'll be gnashing when I spot the errors/repetitions, xx

The Thunder Games, 390

I puffed a final Benson and downed the foul spirit. The sirens echoed throughout the town. My god, I stood and grabbed for my sponsorship evidence and pulled the singlet over my whiskers.

‘Raus, raus!’ cried the women in the pink ribbons. I dodged into a doorway and then wheezed my way up the hill. Black market peddlers whispered at every corner.

‘Buddy, rhino suit, fifty bucks, teddy bears only twenty,’ said the spineless athlete, his cyber genetic muscularity obviously worked on some black market indoor treadmill. If only I could get myself a fitness video tape, but no, it was all too late.

Around me white teeth gleamed in their perfection.

‘Happy happy,’ said a lunatic running backwards along the cobbles. His mind was but a shell.

And then came the happy hour. Every citizen of the United Kingdom 51st state was corralled upon Duchy of Cornwall parkland. Faraway, the bazooka fired, and the mannequin of her majesty the queen tumbled overhead.

The Games had begun. Another year endured under marathon. How Harry had been inspirational and spread his Invictus charity upon all his subjects. But this, was this the vision?

I must keep the low profile and jog twenty six point two miles and fifty feet, and on and on, and avoid, oh dear, oh no, she shoves the enormous microphone into my mouth.

What is your charity, subject?’ she says wearing her bullet-proof knickers.

‘Ehmm, I’m running for the children,’ I say.

‘Which children!’ she demands

‘Harry Potter,’ I squeal and see how her mind is momentarily confused. Us men of the underground have our secrets, and she stumbles away, stunned and searches for a fresh victim for her televisation.

Behind me they machine gun the stragglers. The losers tumble silent and are hooked, piled into the mobile mincer, the shadow always on the horizon that feeds us all for evermore, and more and more running, run.

The tiny lady at my elbow collapses aside the triple yellow lines. ‘I need a crap,’ she cries.

‘Paula,’ cry her children and she is blitzed in a blaze of bullets.

So, no all bad really. Only Baldwin corner to endure. Maybe, maybe one day a bicycle, swimming trunks, I might Brownlee one day. But for now the finishing line is within reach and my survival is ensured.

Fri, May 4 2018 06:43pm IST 3
73 Posts

Well here's... something.


His cheekbones show first, bright white through dirty, sun-scorched skin. Then his eyelids bubble and melt, coating his eyes. Forever closed. His mouth is stretched wide, crying for help. I can’t help you. She needs me. He falls to his knees, fists hitting the floor with a splash. I jump back but a drop of water hits my hand.

‘Ouch. Shit.’ It burrows deep, a tiny hole: through skin, through muscle. Down to the bone.

‘We have to do something,’ says Charlotte, the stock of her gun resting on her hip.

‘What?’ I ask, shaking the pain from my hand.

She falls silent. She knows. We must accept it.

‘The best we can do now is stay alive,’ I say. ‘Pick up your things. Keep moving.’

We travel deeper. The screams fade. So does the light.

‘Pass me the torch,’ I say.

‘There’s no battery left,’ says Charlotte. She hands it to me anyway.

I take the battery out and rub it between my fingers. It might work this time.

‘Wait,’ says Charlotte. ‘There’s more light up ahead. Look.’

She runs towards it, gun swinging. Her heavy footsteps echo down the tunnel. I thought I’d taught her better than this.

‘Slow down.’ I whisper it but it carries. ‘They’ll hear you.’

I catch up as she nears the opening, water flowing down its edges.

‘Stop.’ I catch her by the shoulder, just before she steps into the light. ‘Did you not just see what happened to Reg?’

‘Sorry, Mum.’

‘Just be careful. Stop running off ahead. Light’s not always a good thing.’

A roar from above shakes the ground. Vibrations run through my chest like an earthquake from within.

‘It’s them,’ I say. ‘Run!’

I take Charlotte by the hand and pull her past the opening, our feet either side of the stream.

‘Flush!’ The command flows through the opening, seconds before the water.

‘It’s too fast,’ says Charlotte.

‘We can make it,’ I lie. Or maybe…

A little further. There’s an alcove. I push her ahead.

‘Quicker. Quicker.’

No. Too late. The steam widens. It burns. IT BURNS!

I lift Charlotte up and sit her on a ridge, screaming as it takes my flesh. It will not have her.

‘Don’t move,’ I tell her. ‘Wait ‘till it’s passed.’

The stream rises to my ankles, bones already showing, blood rinsed away.

‘Find your father. You can end this together.’

Word Count 400 – Including title.

Sun, May 6 2018 09:36am IST 4
3228 Posts

The Fertile Land

The rock scorpion scuttled out of its hole in the sand, its tail ready to strike. It paused, and I speared it with my hunting knife. God bless its soul.

‘What yer got there, Bud?’ said Vernon, shaking his empty water flask. As skinny as a snake, he oozed destitution.


Or it could have been a Ceylon tea snack of a salmon sandwich, albeit bereft of cucumber slices. Our survival depended on the sun waning and the sky blackening, before heading into the bush. Gateway to the Fertile Land, as Vernon proclaimed.

I burrowed deeper into my pit and skinned the beast. Sucked out its juices and waited. Conserved energy. Either the Oppos would find us or they wouldn’t. One thing in our favour, their lack of fuel. Why waste it on a pair of absconders? Why waste a heart-stopping injection of Potassium Chloride?

Because we’d defied them, that’s why. Refused to obey their society, their laws, and secular demands – and arranged marriages, one child only. Before being outed, we escaped the 25-25 correction camp, and headed for the Wasteland. Month of April; deliciously apposite.

Others had tried to cross it. No-one survived. But I had Vernon. Needed him as my guide, and if push came to shove, I had my hunting knife. Tests showed that the average human body holds forty-five litres of water. Well, well. Probably twenty in his case.

‘What you thinking, Bud?’

I glanced across. His tomb, larger than my pit. I licked my lips. ‘Water. About twenty litres would do me fine right now.’

‘Tonight, Bud. Waterhole, six klicks into the bush.’

I prodded my knife at a loose stone. Maybe another scorpion was hiding. A pregnant one. Or a two-headed one. ‘Better be,’ I said.

Bombing us was out. Air traffic grounded. Shortage of gasoline hampered any vehicular pursuit. They’d saddle up a team of thoroughbreds and rely on the desolation and dried up land to flush us out. Back to the Wild West.

Cowboys and Indians. Ironic.

My betrothed – he was called Toby – or maybe Robin – depending on my parents’ choice for their precious daughter, Buddleia, was a smarmy, arse-licking creep, in the image of Rees Mogg, Britain’s Genghis Khan who governed some five hundred years ago.

Marry a loser? No way. I’d choose my man in The Fertile Land. And have eight kids.

‘They’re coming, Bud.’

’Hallelujah,’ I said. ‘Ostrich time.’

Tue, May 8 2018 03:12pm IST 5
814 Posts


Day Zero

Beetles underneath my skin, gnawing, gnawing, trying to get into my brain. I shan’t let them. I shan’t. Squash the bastards. Scratch them away.

Ankle hurts – that’s it, I fell escaping hell. Think, mate. Think. Running. Must run. It’ll be worse at first, but then it’s bound to be better.


Hide from them. Demons with voices and needle stings and turning rooms and tilting beds; laughing and laughing and pain and more laughing. And then … then zombie death. I must remember my name, why I’m here. Must hide.

Day one million bugs in my head.

Voices wake me. Calling a name – is it mine? Don’t answer them, curl up small. Beatles, dig quietly. Smell, don’t smell. Plastic bags, cloak me. Footsteps so near. Can see kick-the-shit-outa-yer boots. Be still, no shaking. Hold in the farts.

Come out come out wherever you are!

Shrink back. Breathe but not breathe.

‘Christ, it stinks round here. We’re wasting our time, he’s flown.’

‘He can’t have gone far, keep looking.’

‘We can take the pain away! Come to daddy!’ They sing.

The boots move on. I breathe. I puke.

Day forever and a day.

Smell like death, me and the black bags, only they don’t hurt like crap. Find them, say sorry. Needles better than torment and shits and the shivers and the – NO! Must see it out. It’ll all go eventually, or I’ll die – both better than needle black. Black is blacker ...

Day forever and a thousand, I think.

Black is grey. Grey is fog. Ground is moving – must be on a ship. Can see boots. Captain’s coming!

‘Please don’t throw me over! Don’t take me back. Oh Christ, oh Christ … do you have needles?’

‘No more needles, mate.’

Voice is kind, not a prisoner. He twists his head.

‘Over here – quick! We might yet save him.’

He offers me water. Clear, pure water. I puke.

Day one.

‘Ah, you’re with us,’ an older man says. Poorly dressed, but better than me. Looks like someone’s cleaned me up though.

‘Where am I?’ My throat’s like a dried-up sewer.

‘Saved, mate. You’re with the outcasts now, in the undergrounds. It beats what’s going on up there, after needle-rule took over.

‘Why isn’t anyone fighting back? I will. I fucking owe those bastards.’

‘You need to detox before you join us. This is just day one for you.’

400 including title

Tue, May 8 2018 03:14pm IST 6
814 Posts
Many apologies - forgot to say it contained expletives.
Wed, May 9 2018 12:07am IST 7
223 Posts
Expletives are ***ing fine by me Laughing
Wed, May 9 2018 08:45am IST 8
814 Posts
That's a ***ing relief, Mosquito - thank you!Laughing
Tue, May 15 2018 01:43am IST 9
223 Posts
Le bumpe
Fri, May 18 2018 01:23am IST 10
873 Posts


Monday, 11.03. Chris swigs the cold dregs of his 09.00 tea and takes his mug to the kitchen to make another. The new person from Policy is already at the kettle. While the water boils they make smalltalk. How are you finding the new job? What did you do before this? Her phone on the counter flickers with light, a text or notification, and he sees her wallpaper is a greyhound’s nose, close up to the glass. He laughs and looks at her again and it’s like in HD or there was a simulacrum there before and now it’s the real person. She has green eyes, and a loose lock of hair has escaped her butterfly clip. He blathers about Niska his lurcher. She smiles differently, tells him about Victor, her rescue greyhound. The kettle shushes, clicks off and she leans to pick it up. The breeze of her movement ripples skin-warmed perfume over him like a gunshot.

Tuesday, 11.01. Chris picks up his mug of three-quarters-undrunk tea and walks to the kitchen, telling himself his heart is not skittering around his ribcage. She is not there. He tells himself he is not being stupid because he wasn’t excited about seeing Niamh-from-Policy. She arrives at 11.04 and looks surprised but not in a bad way. While the kettle boils she produces her phone and shows him more pictures of Victor. Victor on the sofa, legs in the air. Covering his snoot with his paw. In the park, speed-blurred.

Wednesday, 10.58. Chris spits out his gum, takes his unused mug to the kitchen. Niamh is there already. Fancy seeing you here! Has she done something different with her hair? He almost asks her out for lunch, bottles it. Tomorrow.

Thursday, 09.02. Chris’s phone pings, the jar of a three-exclamation-mark alert. Hands trembling, he opens it.

>HealthWatch WARNING


>As a HealthWatch Economy policyholder you are required to maintain your health at [Level 3] or below to continue to qualify for cover

>HealthWatch notes following concerns over previous [72] hours:

>Elevated heart rate +/-6; Elevated blood pressure +/-8

>You are required to take remedial action in next [24] hours to avoid downgrade of policy with loss of accrued benefits. Click Here for advice on maintaining health within acceptable parameters

At 11.43 he goes to the watercooler and watches the glass fill as his heart empties.


400 words not including title

Sun, May 20 2018 05:26pm IST 11
John Alty
John Alty
40 Posts

My first and probably only attempt at dystopia. Short and sweet. Some expletives.


The shadows of the headstones creep across the ground as the sun sets and I pull my jacket tighter against the evening chill.

It’s my birthday tomorrow. That birthday.

We don’t celebrate birthdays the way we used to. When I was young we had birthday parties, a cake with candles to blow out, joyful friends singing your name and clapping, faces smiling, happy. That all ended by the time I reached, what, sixty? Twenty years ago. Fucking revolution.

The others will be at the house now. Bert and Emily and Joe. That’s all. It’s enough, though. I told everyone I didn’t want them here when it was time but I knew those three wouldn’t listen. They're good friends from the old days.

I’d once hoped to be buried here in this cemetery, the old-fashioned way. It’s so pretty with the wild flowers and the ancient oaks. A lovely place for that eternal sleep. The headstones are interesting: They all died at different ages. That’s how it used to be, pre-revolution. Now we have CoMo.

I get it. I really do. How can you provide health care, pensions, housing, food and water if people are dying untidily at all ages, some getting to a hundred or more? Controlled Mortality. I get it. The Revolutionary Council wants a tidy, controlled society. No surprises. Eighty years is enough they decided after takeover. That was when we had the cull. When my parents went. That was tough to take, I must say.

Things are going well now, apparently, so RevCo are putting it up another two years starting next year. Just my luck, eh?

Oh well, best stop these silly thoughts, wander back to the house and get cracking with the last supper. They’re coming for me at midnight.

Happy fucking birthday.

Sat, May 26 2018 09:48pm IST 12
Purple witch
Purple witch
37 Posts


Before Bardek had come crashing from the starry sky, it might have been fog but now, as the pale vapour rolled out over the baked earth, it brought no dampness or relief. Nowadays, only death moved within its cloudy form.

Through the vent, Mace watched the smoky mist sending out soft, silky, tendrils as it trailed the crusted dirt of the cliff-top.

Slamming the vent shut, he bolted it and crawled back down through five safety hatches, sealing and bolting them as he went.

At the last hatch, he spilled out onto the floor and looked up at Grayson.

‘She’s back, Gray, turn on all the defences. The mist’s pale. She’s not fed in a while and won’t go away this time.’

Grayson complied and flicked all defence switches to full power. Then he disappeared down the tunnel where others were boarding the waiting subs.

Mace guessed, by the slump of his shoulders, his uncle struggled more each time the damn soul-sucker found them. That tired aura of despair was starting to take hold of other down-dwellers too.

For almost fifty years, Bardek had roamed the surface, leeching life out of anything that moved, and she was always hungry.

Born in the years after her arrival, Mace knew no different but his uncle, like all oldies, had once lived above ground. They reminisced often about the glorious past, but those times were long gone. Contact with other groups declined each passing year and now hope struggled to keep a foothold in the bowels of under- earth and ocean as death stalked the dwindling survivors.

When the steady thump, thump, vibrations began sending down gravely dust Mace knew she was attacking the defence system and braced himself for what came next. He plugged his ears with lichen just as Bardek’s alien voice slithered down through many feet of rock and earth, clattering at the hatches and chilling the stale air with a fouler stench.

‘Towen amai foras ganath, little souls … I smell your sweetness, and am come for you.’ Her tone was cold and hypnotic and the lichen did little to diminish her power.

Mace hit all buttons with his fists, triggering the explosives to disrupt her vaporous shield.

Pulling the lichen from his ears, he darted down the tunnel after his uncle.

Screams of rage and unintelligible alien language rattled after him.

Bardek would stay hungry today.


Mon, May 28 2018 11:46am IST 13
2292 Posts

The last vial slipped out of sight into the mists of liquid nitrogen, all of its eight-cell potential frozen in an instant.

He screwed the lid on, tight. Added the tamperseal, and lifted the urn onto the trolley, ready to be moved to the racks. Job done.

At least his job was only storage. He stripped off the heavy gauntlets and plastic goggles, hung his lab coat up, and thanked all the unseen gods that they weren’t allowed to mention any more, that he was thought by the powers-that-be to be too stupid for Coding.

He’d never have coped. All that genetic sequence to check, before informing the Weeders. Course, the Weeders only threw the cell bundles away before passing the good ones on to Structure. They didn’t make the decisions, the Weeders, never got the blame. That always fell on the Coders. They got it wrong, let too many mistakes through, and they vanished from the labs.

Course, if anything made it to Structure with imperfections… Well, he’d heard they made an example of the Coder in front of their fellow Coders. Then they vanished. It was supposed to make the remaining Coders more vigilant.

Must be hard for the Weeders at that stage too, getting rid of something that looked a little more like them.

And gods help the Coders when anything reached Viability that did not match specification. The things-that-were-not-perfect were always destroyed, along with the Coder who had allowed it a chance of life. Incinerated, usually. Live, on TV; the thing-that-was-not-perfect cradled in the arms of the man or woman who created it.

Such a waste of a Coder, but it rarely happened these days. 99.9% of what he froze never made it to the communal nurseries.

No wonder the population was dying.

(296 words)
Fri, Jun 1 2018 12:22pm IST 14
223 Posts
Well, that's another one done. A quiet month again, but some very good entries. So here we go.

Mat - The Thunder Games
The Monarchy rules and the Invictus Games are now law. Keep your head down and run if you want to live. Be the little man, jogging away and avoid the media like hell. Oh, and don't stop for the merchandise.

Dystopia factor: it's a right royal carry-on.

TheWeyMan - Above
Charlotte, Reg and the author fleeing through the tunnels, a fetid sump at the bottom of the world. Their pursuers don't need to catch them; just flush the system and mop up the remains.

Dystopia factor: Domestos incident.

stephenterry - The Fertile Land
A snippet of hell in the Outback. Buddleia and Vernon fleeing mighty forces they cannot resist, in search of a green valley where she can break the rules without consequence. Buddleia is looking for freedom from consequence and she might just drink Vernon to get there.

Dystopia factor: Mad Maxine. - Detox
A population tranquilised - the narrator escapes and cold turkey is his reward. Withdrawal is vividly hellish, with physical and mental effects and a definite sense of fear. Time is meaningless in detox.

Dystopia factor: the coldest turkey.

Daedalus - Glass
Enfatuation around the kettle. Chris hungers for Niamh; he wants to ask her out but can't quite pop the question. His nerves (and maybe all that caffeine) triggers an alert from the overseers of Policy: cut it out or be downgraded. So it's off to the water-cooler and no more Niamh.

Dystopia factor: Big Brother is taking your pulse.

John Alty - Birthday
Reflections on the past from a man with no future. The moment you hit the big eight-oh, the overseers send the death squad round. 'When I was a lad' has never been more poignant. It's the ultimate control - you live as they tell you and you die as they tell you. Controlled Mortality as the cure for an aging population.

Dystopia factor: Logan's Hobble.

Purple witch - Bardek
Earth is over. Humanity is reduced to a few tunnel rats scrabbling for survival in the dark. The end is nigh and Bardek is bent on making it nigh-er. People are snacks and the next generation will not remember anything of the surface save peril. They live under the tentacled thumb of their overseer.

Dystopia factor: Cthulhu wakes.

Squidge - unnamed
Layer upon layer of bureaucracy; the safety of anonymity - never draw attention, labour safely at the bottom, where no one cares. Where no one incinerates you and the flawed product you created on live TV. A whole industry labouring in vain to sustain a perfect, dying race.

Dystopia factor: duck and cover.

All very good entries, but after due reflection and rereading, I hand the prize for this month's competition to, for her frankly scary depiction of Detox.

Fri, Jun 1 2018 12:44pm IST 15
2292 Posts
Well done J. net!! And thanks for the topic, Mozzie. dystopia's not something I've had a go at before, and I'm not sure I'd want to create a longer piece, but thanks for the chance to play.
Fri, Jun 1 2018 12:47pm IST 16
Purple witch
Purple witch
37 Posts
All good entries but deserved win
A scary view of a possible future , when my idea of detox is a day drinking lemon teas.
Fri, Jun 1 2018 12:50pm IST 17
873 Posts
Nice one Mossie, Well done J.Net! Good comp, I enjoyed all the entries very much
Fri, Jun 1 2018 01:42pm IST 18
John Alty
John Alty
40 Posts
Good job, Mossie. Congrats!
Fri, Jun 1 2018 02:02pm IST 19
814 Posts
Oh wow, I really didn't expect that one, especially as it was my first go at dystopia. Thank you so much, Mosquito, and thanks everyone for the good wishes. Now I'll have to get my thinking cap on for June ...
Fri, Jun 1 2018 11:37pm IST 20
73 Posts
Congrats and thanks Mos!

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