‘It’s worrying. Kirianna is a problem we don’t need.’
The headteacher gazes out of the window at the school field. The child’s hair lifts as she whirls among the dandelions, reaching up to catch seeds which dance towards the clouds.
‘She requires a close eye. It is imperative that the experiment is a success. We must follow the new guidelines. Heaven forbid we should raise thugs on the streets or football vandals. Ah, the bell. Bring her to me.’
Kirianna skips up to the headteacher.
‘Have you wiped your shoes?’
‘My shoes?’ The child glances at her feet. Looks up. Smiles. ‘I saw a blackbird. He flew out of the hedge, like a sharp arrow with a yellow spearhead.’
The headteacher frowns.
‘He landed on the wall. Stopped suddenly. His tail jerked upwards, then went smoothly down. It helps him to balance. Don’t you see?’
‘What were you pretending today?’
Kirianna claps twice. ‘I was on the stage, like my mother in India.’
‘Empty dreams. She is far away.’
Kirianna taps her heart. ‘She lives here.’
The filmnasium door reveals thirty children unbuckling themselves from the technostation, blinking away historical images of a non-existent past. Thirty more crocodile out of the exercise room, with its helmeted football games, where their legs have kicked and run, and they have received the winning hero experience.
‘I scored five goals today, Kiri,’ says one small boy.
‘Silence.’ The head pushes a button on his tag, and he whimpers.
Kirianna watches, alarmed.
‘This one’ – the headteacher indicates Kirianna – ‘has too much imagination. Her parents insisted she be exempt from the experiment. Epilepsy. Could be fatal.’ She sniffs. ‘They said. She has been here three weeks, and we haven’t seen any symptoms. Minder, take her to the induction chamber. Buckle her in.’
Tune in tomorrow to discover the remaining finalists of the STORGY Flash Fiction Competition. Join us as we count down the top ten stories to reveal our winner and two runners up…
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Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.