Flash Fiction Challenge: Questions for Greg

The Blurb Doctor Is In
Photo copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without permission.

Adrift on what felt like a sea of cotton, Greg was oblivious to everything around him. He could not move. He could not think.

He heard a soothing female voice speaking words that made no sense. His brain could not keep up.

With great effort, he mentally swam upward to the surface – toward a light. He opened his eyes. Everything was blurry.

He could see the doctor looming over him. Then he remembered it wasn’t a doctor. The pain came again. The pleasant female voice spoke once more, “Where is the microchip, Greg?”

Welcome to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. In 250 words or less, write a story incorporating the elements in the picture and/or the written prompt above. Do not include the prompt in your entry. The 250 word limit will be strictly enforced.

Please keep language and subject matter to a PG-13 level.

Use the comment section below to submit your entry. Entries will be accepted until Tuesday at 5:00 PM Pacific Time. No political or religious entries, please.

On Wednesday afternoon, we will open voting to the public with an online poll for the best writing entry accompanying the photo. Voting will be open until 5:00 PM Thursday.

On Friday afternoon, the winner will be recognized as we post the winning entry along with the picture as a feature. Then, at year end, the winners will be featured in an anthology like this one. Best of luck to you all in your writing!

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14 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Questions for Greg”

  1. ****FINALIST****

    “I don’ know any microships,” he slurred. “What you’re talkin’ about?” His tongue felt thick and dry, like his mouth was stuffed with cotton.

    His arms and legs seemed pinned by an immense weight. He couldn’t tell if he was restrained or simply paralyzed. When he attempted to lift his head to look, a fiery sensation at the base of his skull made him gasp in pain.

    He mentally retraced his steps, trying to pinpoint where everything went wrong. His best friend’s bachelor party; too many tequila shots; a stripper named Raven. The black-haired beauty in the nurse costume seemed to take a liking to him. He remembered accepting her invitation to smoke some weed and following her to the parking lot like some lovestruck teenager. She offered him a drink from a flask she somehow kept her bra. It had a strange, medicinal taste. It was moonshine, she said. After that, everything was blank.

    “This time I expect an answer. “Where is the microchip, Greg?” Steel flashed in the overhead lights. He shrieked in agony as the axe connected with a sickening THUNK and his left knee exploded in a crimson spray.

    Clarity struck. This had nothing to do with him. It was his friend’s fault. That groom-to-be bastard!

    Raven raised the axe again.

    “No!” he screamed, but she ignored his plea and drove the blade into his other leg. As darkness overtook him, Darren managed to utter a whispered phrase:
    “I’m not Greg.”

  2. She was beautiful, the android. She was made to be. Everything about her was meant to comfort, to soothe.

    His memories slowly came back to him as he lay there, the android waiting patiently. He remembered the microchip, meant to track him as he made his way deep into the jungle. They needed to be able to pull him out if he was in danger.

    But they implanted the microchip themselves, why were they asking him?
    And without warning, his memories came flooding back.

    He’d been wandering for days, finding nothing. He wasn’t even sure what he was looking for.

    The ambush had come at night, and they forcefully removed the microchip from the back of his neck. There had been too many to fight off.

    Their village was unlike anything he’d ever seen. High up in the trees, hidden by the canopy of leaves. It was a world of wonder and beauty – it was home. He made many friends during his days there, and they wanted him to stay, to be a part of them. But Greg knew his people would come looking if he didn’t return, and destroy this magic place he’d been allowed to be a part of.

    “Savages. They took it, right out of my neck.”

    The android looked sad, as if she had true emotion. “Then we’ll try again. Go home and rest. We’ll contact you when we’re ready.”

    Greg smiled. He knew where home was, now. And this time, he’d stay forever.

  3. His tongue locked in his jaw. She repeated the command. “Where is it Greg?”

    “Lost. Forever.”

    “You made sure of that? We’ve got to know the files won’t be found.”

    He opened his eyes fully to see he’d returned to the future. Anastasia stood over him. “Trust me.”

    “The mission was compromised when we lost touch with your mind. You almost didn’t make it.”

    “It’s gone. Don’t worry. I did the job.” He remembered pulling the trigger of the gun. Rebecca dropping like a stone. They’re nights together sacrificed to save the world.

    “You almost slipped up with that contact in the past. Make sure it never happens again.” The coldness of her voice grated against his senses.

    “I’ll make sure it doesn’t.” He paused to catch his breath. “Next time, make sure I have enough warning. I could have stopped her before she saw it. Had I known, I could have saved her.”

    “It couldn’t be helped.” Anna closed the security shield around the bed. “You got too close this time. That was your mistake. Next time, don’t.”

    The cold equation of it froze his heart. He felt something change in him. “You’re right. Like always.”

    She sat next to him grabbing his hand. “I’m glad you’re back.” She leaned down kissing him. The sensation sent warmth to revive the hurt. “Reserve yourself for me from now on. Promise?”

    He couldn’t answer. It had been so long. He squeezed her hand back. “I promise. This time.”

  4. Chip? What’s she talking about. Maybe this is a dream. Feels like a dream.
    The eyes seem kind – smiling. Enticing answers.

    Greg’s tongue flipped forward against his teeth. It felt swollen. His lips made minuscule movements – retarded by something.
    Scent of…duct tape. Why ask questions of someone and have their mouth restrained.
    He tried to grunt through the barrier. It barely dented the silence. His eyes pleaded.
    Such softness in the framed gray pools above him. Maybe a glint of mercy.
    “Answer me and the pain will stop. Where is the chip?”
    The words – thoughts? – drilled into his mind.
    The mask didn’t move. The eyes didn’t move – just stared through him.
    Is this real? Maybe it’s in my head.
    “Thank you Greg.” She blinked.
    A pressure he hadn’t noticed eased in the left side of his skull.
    The connection broke, leaving more space for thinking. Greg’s senses awakened and memory of where he was flooded back.
    He watched the eyes shift from gray to green – illusion of compassion draining away. The mask and glasses dissipated, revealing a bovine face with pointed teeth protruding over terse lips.
    He was a human slave. A chosen role. The objective – secret out the microchip with data about the invaders and get it to the resistance – his family.
    We’ll be free again. I’ll be free…
    The whirring saw severed Greg’s next thought.

  5. The word microchip bounced around in Greg’s mind as his brain desperately tried to find the tiniest sliver of a memory that would satisfy the woman and relieve Greg of his pain.

    “Where is the microchip, Greg?”

    When Greg could only manage a whimper, the woman flipped a switch that caused Greg’s body to lurch against his restraints. Greg blacked out again.

    He was three years old. The clouds in the sky were zipping by as he looked out of the window from his car seat. He was hungry. His father had put him in the car that morning, pajamaed, without feeding him breakfast.

    “We’re almost there, kiddo,” his father said looking at him in the rear view mirror. Greg briefly looked into his father’s eye then continued staring at the clouds. Not long after, his father drove down a dirt road and stopped at a white house. He honked twice then they got out of the car.

    Greg’s father led him toward the house, stopping just short of the door. His father knelt in front of him and tapped his forehead twice.

    “The microchip is in here. When the time comes, you’ll know what to do.” His father stood and walked back to the car as Greg was scooped up into the arms of a woman. He never saw his father again.

    “Where is the microchip, Greg?”

    Greg’s eyes snapped open. His arm shot forward breaking his restraints.

    “You’re looking at it, lady,” he growled squeezing the woman’s neck.

  6. Greg gazed at the eyes behind the mask, two unfathomable orbs of the deepest blue. Was this person going to make him whole again, let him face the world once more like the man he`d once been.
    He knew he was lucky to be alive. Seventy percent burns would have killed a lesser man. But Greg was made of sterner stuff. A street fighter of the old school. They told him he`d lain in a deep coma for two days. `Natures way of coping with shock,` the surgeons had said. He remembered the flight over the mountains, the sudden, black menacing clouds, the pilot putting the aircraft into a steep climb. Then nothing until he woke, a throbbing white light pulsing in front of his eyes. Then he`d heard the voice, soft, reassuring, the gentle touch on his ruptured skin.
    The man in the mask moved closer until Greg could smell the sweat. Was it tension, stress, or just plain fear? Through dismembered lips Greg forced a smile. `You`ll be ok doc, just do the best you can. He felt the needle prick, the room whirling like a merry-go-round and then nothing.

    His mouth felt like a parched desert floor. He lifted his hand, touched the coarse linen, let his fingers trace the contours of his ravaged face. This was just the beginning. A road leading to…where? He let his hand drop by his side, his own eyes fixed once more on the eyes of the man behind the mask….

  7. “Microchip?” Greg gulped. How the hell had this happened?

    Her brown eyes narrowed with mistrust. “It was supposed to be in this newspaper.” She waved a rolled-up New York Times in front of him. “What did you do with it?”

    “I picked that out of the trash. I was bored and wanted something to read.”

    Pain seared through his body. Greg squeezed his eyes shut and instinctively tried to retract into a fetal position but couldn’t; his head, legs, and arms were bound to the table.

    As the pain subsided, there was a loud bang. When he opened his eyes, the lights flickered, and the masked face was gone. He could hear yelling and gunfire.

    Clenching his fists, Greg prayed that he wouldn’t get shot.

    Suddenly, a different woman’s face filled his view. Her hair cascaded around her face like an auburn halo. “You all right?” she asked.

    “I think so.”

    She vanished. In the distance he could hear the echo of automatic weapons being fired. Then a man’s voice, “Da, she is dead.”

    “Team leader,” the woman said, “the target has been neutralized.”

    “Roger that,” came over her radio.

    “Neuterized?” the Russian asked.

    “Neu-tral-ized. No longer a threat,” she responded.

    “Neuterized is easier to say.”

    “Neuterized isn’t a word. Neutered is the word, and that means to remove sexual organs.”

    Greg felt the restraints on his left side being loosened.

    “Your English language makes no sense. Neuterized sounds better for that kind of thing. Neutered is not dramatic enough.”

  8. Title: Timely Rendezvous

    The pleasant female voice asked again, “Where is the microchip, Greg?”

    He opened his eyes and tried to focus. The light was intense, but he managed to see the large pointed probe.

    “You can make this less painful. Tell us where the chip is and we will finish.”

    His body hurt almost everywhere. His mouth was dry and he could taste bile. He heard a deep humming and smelled antiseptic. He tried to move his head, but it was held in place. He looked past the ugly probe, and wished he hadn’t. The sketches at headquarters were nothing like the ugly gray creature with huge dark eyes. He rolled his eyes in the direction of the woman’s voice, and she too was a creature.

    He attempted to sit up, but it was no use, he felt the cold metal binding him in place.
    The pain he felt was replaced by the frigid air moving across his body – he was naked.

    His training finally started to kick in. All of this was to get some evidence to prove that we were indeed being visited by extraterrestrials.

    Is the transmitter working, is headquarters picking up the signal, are they indeed making this experience worth the pain? It was only yesterday that they met to cover the details of the “Rendezvous Plan.”

    The loud noise forced him to focus…it was the alarm clock! He smiled.

    He reached to shut the alarm off, but discovered abrasions on his wrist.

  9. “Target is non-responsive. Repeat, target is non-responsive,” an agent spoke into a crackling walkie-talkie.

    Greg had been walking his dog in the park when he was dropped by a dart fired from one hundred yards. A nondescript dark van eased around the park’s perimeter with its lights off. Four agents jumped out from the sliding side doors and dragged Greg’s body to a wooded area behind the gazebo. Confused, the dog followed.

    A hand-held scanner was moved over Greg’s chest and up and down his legs and arms. “Greg, we know you have it with you. We have been tracking you all evening.” Greg could still not respond. “Flip him,” he heard another agent command. The man with the mask who had been monitoring his vital signs moved back and Greg found himself lifted off the ground, twisted and dumped face down on the grass. His dog watched, wagging his tail, wondering if this was all a game with friends.

    “Scan his neck, they’ve used that spot before.” Nothing registered. “Check the coordinates,” an agent spoke into his walkie-talkie. “You’re on it,” came the response from the van.

    Greg’s head cleared and he squirmed against the restraint of several pairs of hands. He found he had his voice back. “Get off me you bastards!” Alarmed, his dog got up and walked toward the woods. “Target on the move! Repeat, target on the move!” came the word from the van.

  10. ****FINALIST****

    Again the pain came. The pain was like a white-hot poker, an explosion of light. Then……..

    Greg felt himself floating in warm water with the hot sun on his face. In his hand he could feel a cool drink. Placing it to his lips, he could taste fine imported vodka and orange juice. Slowly opening his eyes against the bright sun Greg saw his two children playing in the shallow end of the pool under the watchful eye of his beautiful wife.

    “Where is the microchip?” The question came like a shot causing Greg to close his eyes. Again the question, “Where is the microchip?”

    When he opened his eyes again it was dark, very dark. Where was he now he wondered? Maybe he could hide here, wherever here was. If he could just have a little time to rest and plan. Greg knew they would never find the microchip. He had the prototype implanted into his own brain. He could trust no one else with his invention. Now he could freely jump from dimension to dimension. If only he could learn to control it better.

    He blinked and he was freezing in a barren snowfield.

    He blinked again and he was in a jungle.

    Another blink, he was in a major city during rush hour.

    Greg was starting to spin out of control through…what?

    Once again the pain came, calling him home.

  11. ****FINALIST****

    Greg tried to speak but no sound came out.

    The female voice said, “Gina, please run four delta again and, on my mark, reduce feedback on seven seventeen to ten percent. Ready? Three… two… one… mark.”

    Instantly, all his pain subsided and everything in his expanding field of vision snapped into sharp focus.

    Green Eyes smiled down at him. “Feeling better now, handsome?”

    “Much better.” The sound of his reply – relayed through the audio interface of Green Eyes’ workstation – startled him.

    “Excellent, Greg. Now, please give me your DOB.”

    “I can think of more interesting questions, sweetheart. ‘Who am I?’, for example. Which of my birth dates would you like?”

    From the content and tone of his reply, Green Eyes could tell that her old client’s cognitive functioning was back to normal. She smiled again. “Shall I repeat the question?”

    “Just write it up as six months from today – transplant day – March first twenty eighty six. And let me save you the bother of repeating a redundant question. The microchip is here, intimately entwined with my self – my container until my replacement flesh and blood body is ready for my transplantation.’ ”

    “Congratulations, Greg. It seems you’re still in one piece after all. I’ll have Gina run the HoloSense games program you opted for this time. Let me see…that was the…oh my! The less said about that the better, don’t you think, Gina? Make a note to ignore all spikes on seven twenty two.”

    Greg chuckled.

  12. ****FINALIST****

    It took everything he had to keep his mouth shut. But he knew and his resolve to keep it secret and safe slipped away with every jolt of the battery cables. The metal barbs had been jammed into the flesh of his forearms.

    “I’ve grown tired of this.” A new voice, masculine and cool, the man stood behind Greg’s torturer, in the shadows. “Finish him off.”

    The words closed the lid on his coffin. “I’ll talk,” he said. “I know where the micro chip is buried.”

    Before he could say another word the cable fell onto the battery terminal. Searing fire ripped through Greg’s body. “Oops, the cable must have slipped.” She giggled as she pulled it away again.

    “Let the man talk, Cheery,” the man said.
    Greg fought for breath as his nerves jerked back to normalcy his mind raced for a good enough story to turn this around. “She never told you about that night did she?”

    Cheery reached out to drop the wire on the terminal again, but this time the man grabbed her wrist and held her back. “What night?”

    “I gave it to Cheery a week ago,” Greg said. “She’s been hiding it from you all this time.”

    “You bastard,” she said. She dropped the wire on the terminal as she jammed her elbow into the man’s abdomen. In her rush to the door she didn’t see the .38 the man pulled from shoulder holster. The bullet that ripped through her shoulder stopped her cold.

  13. ****FINALIST****

    He knew Greg was his name. He knew she wasn’t a doctor, though she dressed like one. He knew he didn’t have amnesia.

    But he didn’t know what microchip she was talking about.

    He tried to focus. It took ages, but finally he was seeing her better. Her surgical mask was off, and she was incredibly ugly, the absolute antithesis to her voice. Ugly enough to make him wish he did have the microchip, so he could give it to her and escape, if there was an escape. Something told him there might not be, microchip or not.

    “It is not implanted in you, we checked,” she said, and he saw now she was flicking a scalpel around between her fingers, indifferent to the possibility of a nick.

    “Where’s Tobey? My dog?” he asked.

    “He attacked us when we went to search your house. We shot him, disposed of his body in a furnace.”

    He felt the pain crush him, the second time in a month. Tobey had gone missing, leading to a frenetic search, before miraculously reappearing four days later.

    Funny thing was, Tobey had appeared to be absolutely unharmed by his experience, except he kept scratching his right ear.

    Suddenly, Greg knew. Oh shit, the microchip…

    He somehow, unwittingly, signaled the witch. She got it. She leaned over, close enough to make him want to puke, and looked deep into his eyes.

    He grinned, weak but triumphant. Her eyes glinted, as did the scalpel.

  14. ****FINALIST****

    Greg knew if they took the microchip out it was over. He didn’t figure on being caught. He was in love with the freedom, the freedom and the new chip, of course. Did these doctors realize what it did for his kind when they were released after implant procedures? They couldn’t. They couldn’t realize the cunning strength, the clarity in thought, and newly found capabilities in his assigned tasks. Hell! Did they understand he could now speak multiple languages? He wasn’t revealing where this chip was, never.

    “Greg, you’re covered in blood and we captured you by the victim. There is no misunderstanding. You did this.”

    “We don’t know the long-term effects of the Merchant Chip and the manufacturer has been experiencing some significant defects in lesser models. We have to get the chip out before you cause too much damage.”

    “Greg, we need that chip back. Did you move it? Maybe it gravitated to a new location? Did your master remove it? Greg, can you hear us?”

    “We ARE going to extract that chip!”

    “NOOOO”, Greg screamed in his mind. His freedom, the pack of new-found friends, and not to mention, the incredible abilities he acquired with the chip. Greg snarled as he began to open his mouth to speak. He shook his furry mane, and revealed his fangs. He let loose a most vicious growl. He leaped to all fours.

    Greg was no longer a regular dog, and they weren’t going to take that away.

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