F3: Terminator

Check this shit out: it’s Friday and I’m posting Flash Fiction! Please excuse me if I preen a little. I don’t seem to spend much time on this wagon.

This week’s story isn’t about a time-travelling death-dealing robot, although it is SF. Enjoy.

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TERMINATOR

The office was stark and barren, so devoid of personality that it could only have been a deliberate conceit. What little furniture there was was grey, angular, and cold. So, too, was the man behind the desk. In front of him were two sheets of paper and a namestand. The latter read, FATHER.

The man in front of the desk was shrunken and appeared intimidated by his presence here. He clasped a wide-brimmed hat between worker’s hands: richly tanned skin, callouses, dirt in the cracks and nails. He was thin and dressed in a cheap, ill-fitting suit that was obviously rented. One of his legs jiggled minutely, nervously.

The man behind the desk looked up from the sheets of paper and sighed. His guest gazed on him intently, eyes soft with hope, so Father shook his head.

‘I am sorry, Mr… Curnow. Really I am. But there are rules and processes, and both must be adhered too.’

His guest, Curnow, let out a deep sigh, rapped his fingernails against the arm of his chair, and resumed jiggling his leg.

‘These rules exist for a reason,’ he added.

‘Father, please,’ said Curnow. ‘I am begging you. We are desperate. The distribution corporations undercut each other more and more every year. We cannot scratch enough from the land to replace aging equipment. There are too few of us to work the land without it.’

‘Those, unfortunately, are matters for the Subsidiary Competitive Committee, or perhaps the public affairs group for the International Production and Distribution of Edibles. I really have no power in such areas.’

‘But you can help us, Father. Have you none of your own?’

Father met Mr. Curnow’s gaze, stared evenly back at him, and said nothing.

Mr. Curnow tried another tack: ‘Perhaps, this once, you could see fit to executively approve our applic-‘

‘Absolutely not,’ Father said. He did not raise his voice, or imbue his words with any inflection. He stated them simply, calmly, and absolutely.

‘My position is significant and watched, Mr. Curnow,’ he continued, resting his elbows on his desk and setting his fingertips together. ‘Demographic control is a vital part of our society, as is the supply of funds that goes hand in hand with it. The proper channels must be pursued.’

Mr. Curnow looked down at the ground. He had the brim of his hat knotted between his fists. Father looked at him, sternly.

‘No children, Mr. Curnow. Not without paying for your seed.’

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  1. […] Mr. Curnow pleads with a Father for a special type of application, he encounters the insurmountable “Terminator” of bureaucratic regulations. Though the writing suffered from adverb-itis, I enjoyed the scene and […]