Flash Fiction Challenge: Mind Games

aricebo 1999 flash fiction prompt
Aricebo photograph copyright K. S. Brooks. Do not use without attribution.

Kyra rolled her eyes. “Okay, that is a radio telescope, and a very old one. Do you know how crazy you sound?”

Hawk continued looking through the binoculars. “That is what they want you to think it is. Are you familiar with the theory of alpha wave manipulation?”

Kyra sighed in exasperation. “Yes, it’s a long-discredited theory of mind control using microwave transmission.”

“It was discredited by the people who wanted to build it. Look through these.” He handed the binoculars to Kyra.

She gasped as she saw a spectrum of colorful waveforms emanating from what she’d thought was a defunct radio telescope. “Oh my lord! But who? Why?”

He took the binoculars back and said, “That’s what we’re going to find out.”

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

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5 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge: Mind Games”

  1. “So there’s a signal?” asked Groesbeck.
    “Not really. It’s more like a harmonic effect.” Adams was the communications specialist. “It’s a distortion of the electromagnetic fields that are all around us every day. But it is growing stronger.”
    “Harmonic effect, it’s unintentional, then?”
    “Almost certainly. At worst, a single source that’s just picked up and retransmitted, reinforced by other signals from the cell phone towers and such.”
    The third member of the group, Franklin, suddenly perked up. He began a Google search as the conversation continued.
    “It sounds harmless enough.”
    “I thought so too,” Adams replied. “But there’s research just out from Columbia. There may be some low-level behavioral effects.”
    Unnoticed in the background, Franklin laughed quietly to himself and changed the parameters of his internet search.
    “What sort of effects?”
    “This harmonic buildup taking place does seem to affect the human brain subtly. The researchers at Columbia suggest it acts as an aggression-suppressant, like low dosage Lithium.”
    “So…” Groesbeck thought aloud, “Less crime and aggressive violence, in general. But also lowered achievement drive, competition, impaired memory and concentration… Yeah, Uncle Sam’s going to need a solution.”
    “Well, it’s going to take major network overhauls and shielding, won’t be cheap or fast. There might be some short-term palliatives while we clean it up.”
    “You mean like this.” Franklin turned his monitor around with glee. On his screen was a popular conspiracy-theorist website, featuring an image of a man wearing a hat made from tin foil.

  2. ****FINALIST****

    Hawk and Kyra stood up and brushed the pine needles off their chests and legs. “We’ve got to get inside. All we need is an index finger,” Hawk said. “A what?” Kyra blurted. Without answering Hawk grabbed his duffle bag and headed down the hill motioning for Kyra to follow. They reached the front gate and ducked behind a fallen tree just out of sight. “Shift change is at 8 o’clock. Only one guard will be there for about ten minutes,” Hawk whispered. They waited. A dusty jeep appeared and collected two guards, leaving one at the gate. “Ok, we’ll go in 30 seconds,” Hawk said as he glanced at his watch. Hawk approached stealthily and grabbed the lone guard from behind. Twist. The man crumpled to the floor. Kyra ran to the gate house in time to see Hawk sever the man’s right index finger. They had their key. “Let’s move,” Hawk said. “We only have nine minutes.” The two trespassers darted through the woods staying clear of the cc cameras lining the dirt road. The humming was deafening as Hawk and Kyra approached the facility’s main door and inserted the severed finger to gain entry. A camera whirred and swiveled, pointing down at them. From the sky a spectrum of colorful electric waveforms appeared, encapsulating the two, shaking them where they stood. They looked at each other with toothy grins. “Wanna see what’s on Netflix tonight?” “Sure, I’ll make popcorn.”

  3. ‘Look,’ said Hawk, holding the binoculars to Kyra’s face and directing them towards a small clearing in the wood.
    ‘Yeah. Bit strange eh? And look, it’s where those rays are focussed.’
    He grabbed his bike. ‘C’mon,’ he shouted and sped off down the dusty track.
    Kyra followed, but she could barely keep up with him as they raced down the hill, weaving in and out of the trees. He came to a sliding halt, kicking up dust into her face. Muffled screams were coming from inside the house.
    He took out a small robot ant, slipped it under the door and passed her an earplug so she could listen to the ant’s transmissions. ‘Shhhh,’ he whispered.
    She popped it into place; a woman’s voice shrieked. ‘No! No! No!’
    She glanced at him. He shrugged his shoulders and tapped his ear.
    ‘What’s the matter?’ asked an anxious man.
    ‘All this death and suffering on the TV. It’s horrible,’ said the sobbing woman.
    ‘Are you sure you’re watching the right channel?’
    ‘I don’t know. Can you check the food wrapper?’
    The man called from the kitchen. ‘It says channel seven, is that what you’ve got?’
    There was a shuffling of feet and more sobbing. ‘No, you said eleven.’
    ‘I didn’t. Turn it to seven.’
    The woman sighed. ‘It’s still about war and stuff,’ she said. ‘But somehow this one’s okay.’
    ‘That’s what they promise – food that releases drugs to make life tolerable.’
    ‘Thank goodness for Allfa Foods,’ she said and laughed.

  4. ****FINALIST****

    Kyra stayed right on Hawk’s heels, running toward the telescope. She didn’t want to believe it was possible for someone to control them, but she’d seen the waveforms. A sudden image of her father warning her to stay out of trouble while he was away filled her head.

    “And stay away from Hawk,” he had warned. “I know you two were close at MIT but the man’s not right.”

    Hawk suddenly stopped fifty feet from the base of the radio telescope and became ridged, craning his head. His eyes glazed over and he slapped himself hard on the cheeks several times. Kyra tried to reach out to him but he was already on the move again.

    They made it to an old rusty door leading into the base. Hawk reached for the doorknob but stopped short. When he turned to her, his eyes glazed over again and he started to cluck like a chicken, flapping his arms and lunging his head forward and back, pecking at imaginary grain.

    Kyra fought the urge to run. Christ! They’ve got him under their control! I’ve got to do something.

    Before she could act, Hawk yanked the door open and sprinted down a dimly lit corridor, howling like a dog as he ran.

    Kyra chased after him, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Stop! Please!”

    They rounded a corner and slid to a stop in a large, brightly lit room full of people, including her smiling father.

    “Surprise! Happy Birthday, Kyra!”

  5. ****FINALIST****

    Heat beat down on the Kyra’s helmet and sweat ran down her back. She and Hawk had been trekking through the woods all day. “I’m taking this ridiculous thing off, Hawk.”

    “You can’t,” he said. “They’ll turn your mind to mush this close to the radio telescope.”

    She’d been so skeptical of Hawk’s wild theories of alpha wave mind control, but when she looked through his special binoculars, the supposedly abandoned facility lit up like a rainbow.

    “Are you sure this thing will protect us?”

    Hawk tightened his chin strap, then tapped the pyramidal shaped helmet he wore. “Absolutely. There’s a reason the ancient Egyptians chose this form. Microwaves will bounce right off it. Vanity is a poor price to pay for having your mind controlled.”

    “Whatever,” she said.

    It took another hour to reach the structure. In the center of the dish danced a small figure. Sparks of color shot from his wand, making the ground ripple with a golden glow. He stopped and glared with narrowed eyes.

    “Found me, you did. Can’t get in your minds. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet all bounce off your clever hats. Are you as magically delicious as the last humans to visit?”

    A cold wind made Kyra shiver. She and Hawk stepped away from the strange man with the pointy ears.

    The man licked his lips, then laughed so hard he collapsed. “Oh, the look on your faces. Priceless. You don’t know anything about leprechauns, do you?”

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