Twice a month, I get together with some other writers. We pull a prompt from an envelope and write for 30 minutes, then read to each other and chat. Now, with Covid, we do this remotely–one has the envelope and emails the prompt to the rest. We write then Zoom the rest of the meeting. Not ideal but better than nothing.
When there’s one that feels somewhat complete, I’ll post it. This one’s prompt was “rebellion.” It’s short not because it’s flash fiction, but because I only had 20 minutes or so to write it. I’ve only made a couple minor tweaks to make it read better (when I read it out loud, those tweaks didn’t matter). So here you go…
“Set laser rifles to kill!” the captain ordered.
Wren didn’t move.
“That’s an order, soldier!” The captain pressed her face too close. Wren backed off.
“I—I—can’t,” Wren sputtered. Her platoon mates were busy prepping their rifles, donning armor, then scattering in the attack pattern they’d practiced.
“Is there a problem with your weapon, soldier?”
“No…I just can’t.” Wren knew she was in trouble. Her first battle and already she was caving. Damn the draft. She hadn’t been able to afford to buy her way out. Now she was faced with the result.
Captain Xema grabbed Wren’s gun. “I don’t have time for this, soldier.” She flipped the switch and thrust it back in Wren’s arms. “Get into position. Now!”
You don’t have to shoot, Wren told herself. She ducked behind a stone wall, next to her friend, Quis. She smiled wanly. Quis didn’t say anything but squinted into the rangefinder of his rifle. “Don’t let me down, friend,” he said.
That was it, Wren realized. What if she had to fight to protect him? Her other mates.
There was no sign yet of rebel movement from the house across the field. Famine, drought, a pandemic, all followed by an earthquake sparked the rebellion. What were they fighting against, or for, Wren thought miserably. We’re all in this together. She glanced at her rifle. Top of the line technology. While the rebels were left with bullets and arrows. Were they really a threat?
What if the president had bought food instead of weapons?
Something moved, down near the barn. Someone ran between the buildings. A streak of laser fire burned a trail behind them. The runner, arms raised, carrying no obvious weapon zigged and zagged, finally ducking behind a rusted out automobile. Unarmed. Clothing ragged. Barefoot, Wren noticed.
This is the enemy?
More laser fire. The car blasted to smithereens.
“No!” Wren cried out. She stood. “Cease fire!”
Her mates lowered their weapons and looked at her. Captain Xema spun, weapon raised, and aimed for Wren.
“Stand down, soldier!”
“We don’t have to do this,” Wren said, to her mates, not the captain. Quis looked confused, glancing from her to the captain.
“Can’t you see?” Wren pleaded. “They aren’t the threat.” She pointed her rifle at Captain Xema. “She is. This so-called government is.”
Wren and the captain faced each other, weapons raised. Would Wren fire? Could she?
A laser blast struck the captain from behind. Wren ducked as the stream of plasma streaked through Xema and past her own head.
The captain fell, revealing Aquila lowering her weapon. “Welcome to the rebellion, Wren.”