55Friday: The “Hail to the Thief” Edition

Radiohead.hailtothetheif.jpg Once upon a time, every Friday at the Mutiny, we would have quite an orgy of a writing party, as we composed scintillating stories which had a maximum of 55 words.

Flash Fiction Friday (or the Friday55) has been on hiatus for a few months, but it seems like the time is right to commence creating again. :) It’s a new year, it is time to discover new writers.

When we did this in the past, we’d have anywhere from a dozen to almost a hundred story submissions left in our comments section. How is such a thing possible? Well, as I mentioned above, at a wee 55 words, these were rather abridged stories.

I know I’m not the only one who is looking forward to reading the brilliant gems you mutineers tend to come up with. If it’s all still a bit unclear, I’ve got an example of nanoficiton for you to consider; I used to post tiny stories regularly on my personal blog, HERstory. Here is one of those short-short stories, to give you a sense of what they are like, and how zimble they can be, if you are not yet acquainted…

She nervously adjusted her sari, hoping no one noticed. So far, the night had gone flawlessly; she had made a good impression on everyone, she could just tell.

The older woman at the table noted how silk was tugged upwards. Taking a delicate sip of tea, she thought, “She’s not good enough for our family.”

And now, for some background on the genre:

Flash fiction, also called sudden fiction, micro fiction, postcard fiction or short-short fiction, is a class of short story of limited word length. Definitions differ but is generally accepted that flash fiction stories are at most 200 to 1000 words in length. Ernest Hemingway wrote a six-word flash: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” Traditional short stories are 2,000 to 10,000 words in length.[wiki]
One type of flash fiction is the short story with an exact word count. An example is 55 Fiction or Nanofiction. These are complete stories, with at least one character and a discernible plot, exactly 55 words long.[wiki]

I used to help organize a writing workshop in DC for would-be Lahiris and the one thing which was consistent was an inability to get started. If you looked around at the beginning of any warm-up or writing exercise, you’d observe a morose sort of gaze focused on one’s notebook, writing instruments quivering, and nothing marring those smooth sheets of paper or glare-ridden laptop screens.

To get around this for our Flash Fiction fiestas, I used to choose a song for our “theme”. It was always drawn from my music collection and usually, it was the sort of song one would have seen featured on the now-defunct, but ever-legendary 120 Minutes. This week, I’m going to veer from that formula in two ways. Our theme is the name of an album and a recent one, at that. In light of current events and primary colors, let’s ring around the rosy “Hail to the Thief (The Gloaming)”. More about that, after the jump.

The title of the album is considered by some to be a reference to an anti-Bush chant (itself a play on “Hail to the Chief”, a march played to announce the arrival of the President of the United States) that was used by activists during the controversy surrounding the 2000 U.S. presidential election. However, the band has emphasised the wider political context of the slogan, citing its use during the 1888 election. In the June 2003 issue of Spin Magazine, Thom Yorke was quoted as saying “If the motivation for naming our album had been based solely on the [current] U.S. election, I’d find that to be pretty shallow.” The album’s subtitle was also explained by Yorke: “[The Gloaming] is the imminent sense of moving into the Dark Ages again. The rise of all this right-wing bigotry, stupidity, fear and ignorance.” [wiki]

This Friday, write about anything political, whether it’s election-related or not. Or, defy convention and write about whatever your dil desires. Just post your 55-word story below, in the comments section, so we can all swoon over it, please?

Previous editions of the Friday55, here. Future editions of the Friday55 tbd, depending on whether our new class of commenters contains as many Vikram or Arundhati-wannabes as classes past… ;)

63 thoughts on “55Friday: The “Hail to the Thief” Edition

  1. “Did you get to vote? You were worried…”

    “I was busy, but how could I not? This is the first time we’ve got an African American running against a woman, and a Mormon running against a guy who if elected, would be the oldest President ever!”

    “So who’d you vote for?”

    “I voted for Edwards!”

    (true story)

    :)

  2. “Everyone in India is following the elections there. Are you excited you can vote this year?”

    “May be, I don’t know…”

    “You know, America is a democracy, and Americans run everything here in Baghdad. Shouldn’t I get to vote?”

    “May be, I don’t know…you can have my vote”.

  3. “Everyone in Iraq is following the elections there. Are you excited you can vote this year?”

    “May be, I don’t know…”

    “You know, America is a democracy, and Americans run everything here in Baghdad. Shouldn’t I get to vote?”

    “May be, I don’t know…you can have my vote”.

  4. She opened those files again. Three years of work. Neatly formatted, carefully worded and oh, the pretty graphs. She has seen them drenched in red and agonized over the criticisms.

    “You may come in now”

    She jerked her head up hearing the exam committee Chairman.

    “Congrats! Dr.Violet”

    Her face split in to a sudden smile.

  5. “Why are you here”, I asked, ignoring the voting machine between us.

    “To vote, silly.” Her smile evoking memories of summer nights set to candlelight and of a pain that was supposed to have healed.

    She had stolen my heart years past. Why was she here now?

    I reminded myself, “To vote, silly”.

  6. They sat together and talked about Obama. The hope for the nation. The first president of color – what a fantastic coincidence. Obama was the only choice.

    Then the professor fell ill. The guest lecturer mentioned supporting Hillary Clinton. “So do I; she’s the only choice,” said a classmate, and all heads slowly nodded but one.

  7. “Beta, who did you vote for?”

    “Dad, I voted for Obama but I might vote for Mccain in the general election.”

    “You wasted your vote. If this country can’t let a sardar wear his pugg, a black man has no chance.”

    “The world is changing”, I countered.

    “It hasn’t changed that much”, he scowled.

  8. “I hear this country is ready for change”, Hillary screamed at the crowd and the crowd all pumping their fist’s in unison. “Well how is this for change”, and the crowd all gasp’s as Hillary shows the packed hall a picture of herself when she was a he. “It doesnt change more then that folks.”

  9. Intellectuals say that in the villages elections are about ideology. We must stand up! We don’t recognize the philosophy they are spreading! If anyone bothered to ask the villagers, they would know it’s about controlling the food distribution system.

    I used to wish to be Netaji. Or Marx. Now I want to be a middleman.

  10. Explosion. Decolonization. Upset election. Communization. Witchhuntification. Spacecraft mission. Inspiration. Pigs invasion. Border disputation. Assassination. Tonkin Resolution. Language agitation. Miscalculation. Assassination. Repetition. Epoch initiation. Liberation. Negotiation. Resignation. Rights suspension. Rights restoration. Revolution. Invasion. Determination. Assassination. Toxification. Detonation. Toxification. Decommunization. Invasion. Counterinvasion. Assassination. Dissolution. Balkanization. Web formation. Communication. Testification. Ethnic ablution. Farce election. Demolition. Invasion. Polarization. Anticipation?

    pwn3d.

  11. “Why are you voting for Obama?”

    I’d always inclined toward the right, so I found the question odd. . . .

    “If we’re not going to replicate the same problems that hold back the Desh, we have to be more receptive to free-market economics,” I said.

    “Stop being such a coconut,” she said.

    “You’re dumb,” he said.

  12. Up in Harlem, at Baton Rouge, it was Super Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras! Waiters wore funny hats!! Masks, beads and balloons were everywhere!!! Thanks for North Dakota, Tom Daschle– but who brought Alaska? Whaddup Missoura? Waiting on California, the shock flashed across the screen– few Asians voted for Obama…

    True story.

  13. Okay, that was Fib 50; now here’s the whole story:

    Up in Harlem, at Baton Rouge, it was Super Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras! Waiters wore funny hats!! Masks, beads and balloons were everywhere!!! Times photographer asked about race. Thanks for North Dakota, Tom Daschle– but who brought Alaska? Whaddup Missoura? Waiting on California, the shock flashed across the screen– few Asians voted for Obama…

  14. I crawled from the wreckage of the cab, dazed. I couldn’t feel my left side.

    “You okay?” a man asked.

    I lurched toward the crowd of onlookers, my leg dragging. “I… vote… Obama!” I gasped.

    His face registered alarm. “Buddy, you gotta get to a hospital!” he said.

    I shoved him aside. “Fuck… you… Clintonite!”

  15. Civics Lesson

    Shoes cast off, feet washed, they sat immersed in tense preoccupations – he fuming at the fickleness of airwaves, she rubbing the indigo spot on her forefinger to summon surcease. The news done, he demanded, “Who did you vote for?” Her calm voice belied the palpable resentment : “It’s a secret ballot.
    I don’t have to say!”

  16. Among all the apostates gathered in the room, the skinny back man seemed the most authentic. He too lent himself to be swayed by the cameras to play to an audience; but at the decisive moment that his sworn enemy stretched her hand, he looked away; as if to to signal the derisive contempt he truly felt for someone so debauched, that she would vote to sent hundreds of thousands of brown men, women and children to the certain deaths; in the most horrifying way possible. Yet his opponent was beaming for the cameras and relatively proud of herself as he discovered when he watched it on TV later that night. He had to turn it off and roll off to sleep; he had a back-breaking three hours of sleep in the last 24 hours and had to wake up at 5 for a trip across the country. Life was hell, in a way; but heck it was the best he ever had; ever since he left the warm confines of Punahou for a life on the Mainland. Why did he even set on this journey, he asked himself. He had no answer; just as his failure of a father had no logical explanation for many of the things he did, including begetting dozens of offspring from the loins of several women; many of who he had known for less than a night. Now, he like his father was on a relentless quest, that ended up being cheered on by millions. Yet, he had his doubts; about himself, his motives, his spouse, and even his clothes. It was time to shut off his mind; his body needed the rest; yet his mind would not let it go. But it had to, it was getting too late.

  17. The voters snaked from the lobby of the library and spilled out to the front yard on the crisp Louisiana day. She may have been brown but he felt the same rage as her black sisters in the Ninth Ward who were washed away by the big one a couple of years ago. She had moved to Texas to stay with her parents a week before the terrible event unfolded on TV and she sat there, tears streaming down her face paint as she literally watched her previous life washed clean on the big television in the living room. She hated herself for moving to NOLA and hated herself for moving back. All the needles she had shared in the city being sunk were now being washed into the Gulf; a ritualistic purification that she needed to reform her life. Yet when the screams subsided, she was back here to shoot more goodness up her veins and vote for the black man who she thought would save the country; even as she was slowly dying; a slow, painful death, that only a black sister could relate to.

  18. A 55-year old desi goes to vote. An exotic Hawaiian peddling Hope. A woman once scorned now needs her man on the trail. A cuddly ole “grandpa” wants to kill more Iraqi women and children. An ex-Bain robot declares MA worthy of a case history in management. The 55-year old wishes Sanjaya was running again.

  19. He had no answer; just as his failure of a father had no logical explanation for many of the things he did, including begetting dozens of offspring from the loins of several women; many of who he had known for less than a night.

    Wow. Bitter much?

  20. Ernest Hemingway wrote a six-word flash: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

    Ladle me Sorrow. Cup by Cup. Too much to sup, too bitter to swallow.

  21. Michelle: Good luck with the Chittagong Women’s Co-Operative.

    Barack’s Mom: Good luck with the elections.

    M: Thanks. You must have read about the pot thingy. Its all over the news.

    BM:Ah! College! Experimentation! Drugs, love, peace, women, men.

    M: Men? You don’t say!

    BM: He’s my son. Whaddaya think?

  22. Texas Maverick and Louisiana Sister, please stick to ONE handle per thread.

    Also, the point of the post was to encourage “flash” or “micro” fiction. Each story must contain exactly 55 words. We’ll leave yours up, but other non-55s may be deleted from this thread. If you want to post stories that don’t conform to the 55-word rule, feel free to do so on your personal blog, thanks.

  23. Hail To The Thief

    I adjusted my tie. The wooden floor of the incongruously placed farmhouse chafed after long hours of sitting. Waiting. An abandoned carnival attraction, it gathered dust in anonymity, raising neither suspicion nor interest in the bustling streets.

    The motorcade drove ever closer in the slow summer heat. I clutched the rifle tightly, like a baby.

  24. Ek baar ek haathi aur cheenti college padhneko jaate hain. To raaste me haathi ka shoes utar jaata hai. Cheenti haathi ko apna shoes deti hai. Lekin haathi nahi pehenta. Kyo? Kyonki haathi joota nahi leta!!

  25. Mitt’s 55

    If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror…

  26. The trumpet’s shrills swirled around the car and into the night, through the rolled windows and open sunroof.

    “It’s sounds like there’s jazz playing in the city,” she said, “like downtown has its own soundtrack.”

    “Jazz in the city…” he responded.

    “Don’t act like it’s a silly thought,” with a frustrated sigh, “you know it’s not.”

  27. The boy looked in the mirror and then smashed it in anger! “I fucking hate you” is what the boy said with tears coming down his eye’s. His parent’s came running up the stair’s, “Piyush, what is wrong?” “Dont you ever call me that 3rd world name ever again, DAMN IT! Call me Bobby”

  28. “Why does it bother you?”

    “Because it’s lame. It’s wit-free and vaguely insulting. Fuck LSU, let’s focus on his name, because that’s the real issue.”

    “You sound really upset, ladoo.”

    “Because I am. I’m sick of the digs at his faith and allegedly fake conversion. Those are irrelevant and proxy for others’ hate. It’s tired.”

  29. “What do you mean, ‘proxy’?”

    “The reason why it bugs me is because it masks less acceptable truths. You can’t stop being Hindu. Don’t you dare choose a ‘sell-out’ name. To do so is to ally yourself with the enemy.

    And the enemy is me.”

    “You are different. You were born a Christian…an Anna…”

  30. “I’ve met Desis who saw my name tag at events and confronted me for it.”

    “No. I don’t believe it.”

    “Believe. It was humiliating to give a crash-course in history to justify my necklace and name. Still, I understand where the defensiveness comes from. It’s not like I am accepted, either…by either side, unfortunately.”

  31. “Do you really feel that way?

    “I do. Christians are suspect, potential traitors to some ’cause’, people who had it easy because of their religion.”

    “But on SM-”

    “On SM, the commenters are smarter than the average bear.”

    “Okay then-”

    “And even there, I don’t feel at ease. I have to walk on eggshells…”

    “Oh.”

  32. “But you can’t expect everyone to agree with you. Most mutineers lean left. Jindal is way right.”

    “I know.”

    “Then what’s the problem?”

    “The problem is, they rarely decry his policies or ideology. It’s always his conversion or name…even his kid’s name! And fine, ignore his politicking…why is choosing something different not allowed?”

  33. Don’t worry too much about the Jindal-haters.

    It’s more about them than about Bobby.

    Their faux notions of “authenticity” will blow in the wind like so much detritus, once Bobby takes office at 1600 Penn.

    Then a great cry will go up in the land, and more people will inquire how to be—hybrid.

  34. I nervously moved the pen held in my fingers. Rolling it around. Perhaps it would tell me the right answer. Woman or color? The question repeated in my mind like a chant. It won’t be real progress until it’s someone who is both I thought, as I brought the pen down and marked my vote.

  35. Dad: I heard Senator McCain is interested in you as his VP candidate. Bobby: I declined. Dad: Why Son? Bobby: I need to at least do some thing for Louisiana. I plan to have an initial run in 2012 and go all out in 2016. With my conservative record, I will have a good chance.

  36. “Hey, cousin!”

    “yes, ahem, hello.”

    “am I not your relative?”

    “technically yes, however I don’t feel the connection”

    “Feel? what is there to feel? Blood is blood!”

    “Maybe so, but your ways are not my own and frankly I’m disgusted by the backwards state of my ancestors and…ahem…relatives.”

    “Sorry you feel that way.”

    “Don’t be. Your welfare, your cares, your sorrows–all these things are of little importance to me.”

    “As it should be. Your life is your own and the choices you made were heartfelt and true–but remember that ghosts do not tarry in the graveyard but in the back of your mind. We will always be here, though you reject us.”

    “I do not reject you, but I do not have to accommodate your superstitions and idolatry–those do not a good man make.”

  37. I rescind my “lol”. Names and authenticity are issues that are more complex than my reaction indicated. And this isn’t the thread for us to discuss it. peace peace.

  38. Just to be clear I am a atheist and by no means care if someone else is something else. As a person born into a Sikh family I know what it is like to go a different path from your family. I was just poking fun at an issue in politics.

    Please forgive me for thinking someone in politics could possibly be a fake person. I know it is a new idea, but it is something I just came up with out of the blue. To be honest I dont like the fact that you took that personally. This was supposed to be a place where you post “FAKE” stories and all of the sudden this has turned into a bad after school special about you when it wasnt supposed to be.

  39. One: “Hey bro, did you vote today?”

    Two: “Nawww man. I was too tired to get up. But shit, I blogged about my favorite candidate.”

    One: “Blogged? Damn son, I’m thinking that’s not what our forefathers had in mind.”

    Two: “Ya, man. I feel you… After a quick nap I’ll start spamming my facebook groups.”

  40. 16 . Narayan Acharya said

    Civics Lesson Shoes cast off, feet washed, they sat immersed in tense preoccupations – he fuming at the fickleness of airwaves, she rubbing the indigo spot on her forefinger to summon surcease. The news done, he demanded, “Who did you vote for?” Her calm voice belied the palpable resentment : “It’s a secret ballot. I don’t have to say!”

    Good one!

  41. 43 · ShallowThinker said

    Please forgive me for thinking someone in politics could possibly be a fake person. I know it is a new idea, but it is something I just came up with out of the blue.

    And please forgive me for not loving the sarcasm. Don’t get me wrong, I love sarcasm. Just not every attempt at it. ;)

    To be honest I dont like the fact that you took that personally.

    You don’t have to like it. The fact that you didn’t like it doesn’t invalidate my rxn. I don’t like most of your comment, especially what’s quoted above and just below this paragraph from me…so what? :) Look. The issue which started all this isn’t something new or unique– the Bobby-name-bashing has been going on at SM for years and I have ALWAYS been uncomfortable with it.

    This was supposed to be a place where you post “FAKE” stories and all of the sudden this has turned into a bad after school special about you when it wasnt supposed to be.

    Um, those 55s I posted are fiction. The conversations never occurred. I imagined them. Your all-caps and air quotes were for naught. ;)

    I think you created a great 55 (obviously, if it caused all this tamasha). It contained something which bothered me, which I addressed while playing by the rules. Have you never heard of art inspiring art? That was the end of the matter for me; one story from you affected me and induced some 55ing of my own.

    If someone doesn’t take things personally, how does anything ever get created/written/sculpted/sung/painted/conceived?

    I’m surprised at all this ill-will. I am not interested in having a bleating-match with a commenter I respect and appreciate, so this is all I will say on this matter.

  42. I will never understand South Carolina. In 2000, during the Bush-McCain primary, there was a vicious rumor floating around that McCain had a black daughter, which some observers believe sank his chances of winning. Obama wins South Carolina in 2008, even though he is rumored to have fathered TWO black daughters. Politics is so weird.

  43. Here’s a 55 word story I had posted on my blog a while back:

    Poison Ivy and Nature’s Call It was a dark and stormy night. As the Kumars slept, a spacecraft landed in their yard, planted its seed, and left. It sprouted overnight and the deadly ivy began to flower. As the poisonous pollen sack swelled for dispersal and mass destruction, their dog Woofy strolled out and peed at the stem. It wilted.

    http://aravind-krishnaswamy.blogspot.com/2006/03/my-55-word-short-story.html

    Check out my wife Monami’s neat little short story as well.