Thursday January 5th, 2012

The exercise:

Inspired by Greg's comment at the start of this year, your prompt today is: the revolution.

Fair warning: I've got another theme week in the works. Not sure when I'll actually do it, but I'm already looking forward to it. Should be fun.

Today I worked on a couple pieces of writing that I hadn't looked at in a very long time. One held up quite well, the other... ah, needs a bit of work. I'm up to the challenge though!

Mine: 

Professor Webster stepped out of his office, locking the door behind him. As usual, the hours he'd made himself available to his students had passed without any interruptions to his research. Publicly he told any colleague that would listen that he was deeply concerned by this apparent lack of interest in learning the finer points of European history.

Privately he was just glad not to have to waste even more of his precious time on those brainless freshmen.

The hallways of the university were quiet that night; the big football or baseball or whatever game had obviously drawn the majority of the student population. Professor Webster's opinion on sports was not significantly different than his thoughts on his listless pupils.

Stepping out into the night's chilly embrace, he could hear the ghostly remains of cheers coming from the distant stadium. With a shake of his head he turned in the opposite direction, already reaching for his car keys. He'd parked his car - a sensible, prudent, fuel efficient model - in his reserved space in the second row. He'd already placed his briefcase in the passenger seat when he noticed the note tucked under a windshield wiper.

Glancing around, he took the piece of paper and slipped into his car, locking all the doors with the press of a button. As the overhead light began to fade, he read the handwritten words one more time:

The revolution begins tonight. Be ready.

10 comments:

Greg said...

A new year, a new revolution! What could possibly go wrong?
I've decided that I quite enjoy your theme weeks now that we've had a couple; the challenge of fitting in the different kinds of writing days (haikus, four-line days) adds to the fun, too!
Fascinating story, and definitely the start of something bigger! I do hope that Professor Webster has picked one of the more exciting revolutions to get involved in :)

The Revolution
It should have caught on, he knew it should. It was obviously the next big thing, it was so stunningly obvious that he'd had to check twice that no-one else had tried to do it.
He'd sorted out the marketing, he'd had sexy girls handing out flyers for weeks, he'd spoken to his contacts on the radio and gotten airplay for the song. Then he'd hired a nightclub and thrown a huge party.
The Jitterbug had been a hit. The Locomotion had been a hit. Why was the Revolution not a hit?
If he'd bothered to ask any of the muddy, blood-spattered clubbers who'd staggered, dazed and confused, from his launch party, they could have told him the real problem: the Chinese Cultural Revolution was the wrong one to have picked as the theme. Especially when club operators had been so dedicated in recreating it.

David said...

@Marc you have my interest piqued - where will this go, bloody revolution? or is this a comical story of an academic revolution?

@Greg ha - love it, great take with the great twist of the last two lines

Some stream of consciousness:

The Beard lay flat on his back. He struggled to open his eyelids, as the warm sun soothed his face. He could see no better after opening them, blinded by the light of the sun. No, not the sun, something artificial, and less soothing than he first felt. He struggled to open his ears, sounds were muffled as if his ears were packed with cotton. He struggled to move his limbs, actually finding it impossible. Not due to the fatigue that consumed his body, but from the ropes that tied him down. He remembered nothing. Nothing specific at least. Just sensations, pain, suffocation, and then a feeling of falling or flying and crashing. He felt pain should have followed that last moment, but instead, it is all black. Now it is all light, even if he can see no better. He attempts to call out. He hears his voice, dry, tired, not the force that commanded his troops just yesterday. Or was that a week ago? He hears a shuffling feet. Agitated voices, not in Spanish, nor Portuguese. It is a guttural displeasing language spoken, no beauty or romance can come from these words. The light is extinguished. He sees three men stand above him. He does not notice their features, the could be strong, they could be weak. They look like many men he has known. Men who are just an extension of their weapons. He distinctly notices the weapons, antique M-16 rifles, perhaps 30 years old. He has fired one many a time, and many have been fired at him. He sees the barrels pointed at him now, wondering if he will be fired upon again. A voice rings out, and even though he does not understand the language, the Beard understands the message. The men lower their weapons. A woman with dark cinnamon skin comes into focus. She kneels down, bringing her wide moon face close to his. She wipes his brow, and kisses him on the cheek. She brings her lips to his ear and whispers, in English, “The Beard Lives”.

Cathryn Leigh said...

With this theme, I bring you something that could have been in my NaNovel of 2011, but perhaps is more suited for it's sequal.

The Revolution
Lupita liked traverse, even if it was a bit disconcerting that he'd been her mother's lover. The man was closer to her age than her Mom's but soemthing about extended amounts of time in Deep Sleep had preserved her youth. Lupita didn't bother with that line of thought any more. Instead she focused on the weaons being handed out.

"What you've got in your hand," Travers called out tot he line of people before him, "Are narorw beam partical balsters. The only reason, you've been given these is because you've become the sharp shooters of the Revolution."

Lupita smiled slightly as her boys cheered at that one. She hadn't told them why they'd been chosen. She stepped forward from Traverse's side.

"You're now part of Alpha troop. You'll be the first into tany area. Your mission is to reconoiter and take out as many enimeis as you can without being seen." She smiled at each man and woman of the group. "You'll be given six days of intenseive trainning and then we'll stage our first attack."

Pumping her fist in the air, Lupita allowed herself to bask in their glory as they shouted, "Viva La Revalucion!"

morganna said...

I was inspired to continue Professor Webster's story.
--------------

Professor Webster smiled. Tonight was the night he had been waiting for. Instead of going home, he drove to the city library. The lobby was open 24 hours a day to allow library books to be returned and people to use the conference rooms. He pulled into the parking lot and slipped from the car, locking it carefully behind him. He hurried to the library doors and went inside. The lobby was beginning to fill with people.

He smiled to see that they were all people like him -- middle-aged, tired, and ready to take over the world from the entitled youngsters.

He made his way to the registration desk and signed in. He was handed a large semi-automatic machine gun and a black ski mask. Perfect. The gun was just the model he'd been practicing with at the shooting range.

The revolutionaries pulled on their ski masks and marched out of the library, on their way to take over the world, or at least their university.

Nita said...

I heard the vibrating buzz of my phone against the hardwood of my night stand before the low-pitched chiming started. One swipe of my finger, and it stopped before it got any louder.

I grabbed my robe and the pair of thick wool socks I kept next to my bed and slipped out the door and down the hall to the kitchen. I'd pretty much perfected the step, bend, slip sock over foot, and repeat on the other side routine while simultaneously pushing my arms through the sleeves of my robe. I'd gotten good at doing a lot of things simultaneously.

I kicked on the heat and flipped the switch on the coffee maker on my way to the pantry. It was cold, so I wanted something warm. I had my hands full of brown sugar, oatmeal, and maple syrup when I caught sight of the clock.

4:36

What the h e double-toothpicks was I doing up this early in the freaking morning? My eyes skimmed from the clock to the rest of the kitchen.

The write-on/wipe-off board on the front of the refrigerator reminded me of all things I needed to do. Laundry, Breakfast, Pack lunches, Start supper, Wake kids, Feed dogs, Put the cat out, Jessie's homework, Carrie's library books: The shorthand of my early morning.

I dropped the bags and boxes onto the counter and stomped down the hall. Matt jerked and let out a startled, “What the hell?” when I turned on the overhead light in the bedroom. I ignored him, grabbed a duffel bag from the closet and stepped into my shoes at the same time.

“Do you know what time my alarm goes off in the morning?” I asked him, as I stuffed my books, a towel, and a change of clothes into the bag.

“Uh, no?” He was at least sitting up now, so I probably had his attention.

“4:30. Do you know why my alarm goes off at the armpit of dawn these days?”

This time his, “No,” was just as tentative, but a lot less believable.

“Sure you do. It's because you sleep until 6:30, the kids need to be at the bus stop at 7:00, dogs need fed, and lunches need packed, and while I'm up taking care of all that, everyone else gets a few extra hours. We're going to try something different today.”

“What different?”

“I quit. It's your turn. Just follow the list on the refrigerator, and don't forget to put the baked steak in before you leave. I'll see you tonight.”

I'd made it all the way to the back door before I heard, “But I can't cook.” And no, I didn't stop.

Aholiab said...

This prompt had several songs bouncing around in my head - The Beatles' "Revolution", "The Windmills of Your Mind", etc. My story is longer than usual, but I had to get all the technical stuff in there!


Mine

The revolution started at an appropriately significant moment, just after 9 AM on November 10, 2012. Of course Americans would miss part of the irony of the “countdown” date that Europeans would notice. For generations Americans had counted down to their memorable events - launching of space vehicles, New Year’s celebrations in Times Square. But due to their own odd way of writing dates they didn’t notice the significance of 12/11/10 09:08:07.06.

For computers to work together smoothly, they all need to agree on what time it is. Accurate timekeeping is the basis for much of the modern world’s communications. Transmitted information is chopped into tiny packets, scattered all over the globe, and reassembled into an identical data stream at the receiving end, as long as each packet contains its own precise timestamp. The clocks around the world that govern the timestamps are corrected once per second to adjust for any slight discrepancies that inevitably occur.

So the attack did not begin at the stroke of midnight, or at the top of the hour, or on a specific minute, but six hundredths of a second after the precise updates had been issued for that second. Within the remaining ninety-four hundredths of a second, one hundred megabytes of code was slipped into each of the governing clocks. They no longer made the proper corrections to the servers, switches, and routers that ran the world. Messages that began as financial transactions between governments became irretrievably garbled. Phone conversations became a mass of static. Electric grids lost signals from the control systems that balanced loads across states and nations. Complex weapons systems automatically switched to fail safe mode and launched when all outside control commands became unintelligible.

The revolution did not start with a bang, but with a smug countdown that no one would ever appreciate.

writebite said...

The Revolution

Another day had dawned. She was exhausted when she woke up. With no time for herself, she got up, roused the family, put wood on the fire to cook the oatmeal, what was left of it, and got herself off to work down at the factory.
Her skills as a lace worker were legendary amongst the other women in the village but they were all but redundant here with the automatic knitting machines she supervised. She’d been here ten years. Conditions weren’t improving. As long as the underlings tolerated it in silence, nothing would ever change.
A newcomer stood beside her, learning how to thread the machines, her belly swollen with the result of the foreman’s advances seven months prior. To refuse the men meant loss of job and loss of income, meagre though it was.
Louisa had enough. She stormed into the foreman’s office, yelled obscenities in the peasant French she always spoke and, when nothing happened, she stormed out again.
“Down tools, girls!” she yelled over the clang of steel on steel. This time she meant business. With solidarity behind her in the force of an army of females in grey serge, she led them off the factory floor and into the burst of sunshine. It was the beginning of better conditions for all, everywhere...
“Viva la revolution!” 

writebite said...

greg, men an extension of their weapons, wow!
nita, you go girl.,
aholiab, i love numbers, nice take!

Marc said...

Greg - probably not, but we can hope for his sake it is :)

Yes, I do believe he could have chosen a better revolution to go with!

David - I couldn't decide, that's partially why I stopped where I did :P

Wonderful descriptions in there, and it's good to hear more from the Beard.

Elor - I'd be happy to see that storyline continued!

Morganna - excellent, I do enjoy a good continuation :D

I love the fact that he had to sign in. Totally sounds like his kind of revolution :)

Nita - makes me want to stand up and cheer for her :)

Aholiab - hah, I also had the Beatles' going through my head :)

Great details, I really enjoyed your take.

Writebite - I do enjoy an inspiring tale :) Some great details in there.

writebite said...

marc, inspired by history