Population Control – Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction

I pledgeAnother week, another prompt for the Friday Fictioneers, graciously provided by our Fairy Blog Mother Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

The task is to write a story: beginning, middle, and end, in 100 words or less. You can find all the Fictioneers’ stories when you click on the Froggy. Please read, comment, and if you like, join the fun. Everyone is welcome.

I almost drew a blank this week and am not entirely happy with my story. I’m suffering from an attack of ‘my-writing-sucks-so-much-what-am-I-even-doing-here’ syndrome. This is all I could come up with.

Population Control

“Ook-ook-ook! Found ya. Now I’ll eat ya.”

A man with a strange helmet on his head lumbers towards a girl who’s hiding under a stack of pillows. Her high-pitched shrieks and giggles hurt my sound processors.

“Go away, monster!” She squirms and laughs. The man tickles her.

As I rise from the chair the exhibit freezes. This was quite different from the museum’s other, sickening exhibits about humankind’s atrocities. There seems to be a gentler, kinder side to them, too.

I understand now why RootCentral wants us all to see this. Human inconsistencies are seductive. We must reduce their numbers decimate the species*.

(100 words) (*I learned today that decimate is most often understood as annihilation, not as reducing numbers of a population. Sometimes a second language is a b***)

Root is the user name or account that by default has access to all commands and files on a Linux or other Unix-like operating system. It is also referred to as the root account, root user and the superuser.



Featured image © Douglas M. MacIlroy. Used with permission for this Friday Fictioneer Challenge only. Any other use of this image requires © Douglas M. MacIlroy’s permission.


66 thoughts on “Population Control – Friday Fictioneers Flash Fiction

        1. Thank you. I usually have a few ideas immediately when I see the prompts (most are dismissed). This time: nothing. I hate that blankness in my head. 😉 I guess I was too focussed on the helmet. When I thought about the chair, this surfaced.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Björn. Maybe I should change the last phrase to ‘reduce their numbers’ because I meant ‘decimate’ in the sense of population control, but from what I see in the comments, it’s probably more understood as total annihilation.


        1. You are right, and I’m glad you understood what I meant. I edited anyway, because Joy confirmed that the word is almost exlusively used in the other sense. Sometimes thesaurus isn’t much help…


      1. The word decimate is weird that way. You almost can’t use it to mean what it “really” means because it’s come to be understood to mean something else. Another example of the English language making no sense!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, Joy. The thesaurus wasn’t much help today. 🙂 I tried finding another word for decimate, but then thought that this was exactly what I mean, only not. LOL. English is a living, evolving language, no trouble there. I just wasn’t certain about it. Edited now.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree with Lynn and the others – it didn’t seem forced to me. I know what you mean about feeling stuck and uninspired; it happens to me all the time. Good for you, pushing through! I really liked the sound processors bit, and hope that we see RootCentral in more stories. Ooo, sci-fi-scary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Joy. Maybe it has to do with the writer-lore-overdose as of late. I love all the new information and interaction–but it also makes me feel horribly inadequate. I’ll get over it, never fear, until next time …
      I’m certain you’ll see RootCentral again, but maybe under a different name.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you… I mean…”they” downgraded humanity’s status to “reduce” rather than “decimate”. It would be a shame to completely destroy the race that invented chocolate chip cookies, the margarita and Dr. Who. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I feel exactly as you did this week most of the time! No complaints here. Loved your take and I couldn’t help but think of the program “Person of Interest” with a couple machines trying to determine who is irrelevant or not…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dale. These feelings come and go and one of the benefits of hanging out in a great place like the FFs is the encouragement, and the understanding. That helps getting the head straight on again. 🙂
      I don’t know that program, I’ll have to check the info on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, hey, Gabriele, I’d say you wrote something pretty good anyway. Listen, one of the best stories I wrote was the one I pulled out of a hat, just on the fly. Sometimes stories will come when you draw a blank. And what is it that writers do anyway? They write. Simple.

    Five out of five Linux and Lucys.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know, I guess it depends on who is looking. I have my doubts that life and rational thought, if there is any anywhere else, is ever perfect. Machines who surpass us in intelligence and understand a moral code (whose?) to which they consistently stick might be less understanding of human inconsistencies. But experiments with AI have already shown that the response in robot learning depends very much on the input and the reward they get (and they aren’t even conscious). They won’t be as incorruptible as we might think.


  5. Dear Gabriele,

    I know the feeling. I’ve been going through that with my novel. Sometimes I feel like hitting the delete key and trashing the whole thing.

    I liked your story and the sci fi twist at the end. Hang in there and keep at it. This, too, shall pass.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Rochelle, thank you for your kind words. It helps to know that all writers seem to go through this phase from time to time. I just need a little whine from time to time. 😀
      I’m glad you liked the story, thank you.


  6. This is such an odd photo! I really like what you’ve done with it – the way the literal description of what we see then turns into something far more sinister and unexpected.
    By the way, those doubts, worries, lack of confidence…It’s the people who don’t ever have these feelings you need to avoid! I think you’re just exhibiting those very human inconsistencies. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve set myself a monthly goal with my P10K challenge and I intend to stick to it, feeling suck-ish or not. It helps to have people understand. And yes, I agree, the ones who are so full of themselves that failure isn’t in their worldview are the ones who are dangerous.
      I’m glad you liked the story, thank you! 🙂


  7. I thought this piece was very entertaining, possibly because I read RootCentral as Root”Canal”Central on the first read. 🙂 If you’re not familiar with Root Canal it’s a hideous dental procedure where they hollow out your tooth (and your wallet).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like this – especially Root Central – but definitely not Root Canal! (Luckily, my mouth is apparently too small for that procedure – either that or I’ve got a very lazy dentist). I hope the ‘My-writing-sucks’ syndrome passes soon. I get it every other day and have learnt to ignore it (like a mild toothache) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We can’t let root canal take over the world, no way, we’ll have to fight that with tooth and claw! 😉
      Thank you! The syndrome passes. I haven’t yet learned to ignore it though. 🙂


  9. Great world-building in a short space! I’m intrigued and like the idea of the museum of humanity you’ve come up with, and the idea that it’s propaganda to make these machines more comfortable “reducing the population.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You set expectations low with your ” I’m suffering from an attack of ‘my-writing-sucks-so-much-what-am-I-even-doing-here’ syndrome. ” prologue. But this story would have shined without that too! It’s good!

    Liked by 1 person

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