Stream of Consciousness

Today is Wednesday, at least at the time of this writing it is, I know not everyone will get this till Thursday or within that time frame or something. But that is a bit irrelevant right now. You see, there isn’t a vote this week. That’s right, Indies Unlimited has chosen to hold back a prompt this week and there are no stories to be had and nothing to vote for.

What manner of craziness is this? I can hear you asking the question right now. I asked the same question when they didn’t have a prompt this week. Well, things change. Don’t worry they will have more prompts starting again this coming weekend. Everything is going to be close to normal but not quite (almost but not quite entirely unlike tea).

Basically, they have changed the system a little. Instead of everyone who enters is going to have their time in the sun to be voted upon. Now the stories will go through a prejudging. Stories can still be entered into the contest willy nilly, but they must pass a certain level of unbiased criteria before they reach the public voting stage. Essentially, they not only have to meet word counts but they will be judged as to how well they maintain the integrity of either the written or picture prompt of the week. And no one will know what stories are chosen for the vote for the week until the vote goes live.

I personally am in favor of this. The challenge is really a chance to hone our skills and story telling and the new requirements forces participants to ensure they are living in the spirit of the contest.

What does that have to do with the title of the post? I hear ya. It just doesn’t seem to fit does it. Well, I have a couple other things I was going to go through with you today. The first is The Outer Limits TV series. I have always loved that show and The Twilight Zone. I have been doing a bit of binge watching of the new and old series on Hulu and Netflix recently.

I ran across the episode Stream of Consciousness earlier today. This is from season three episode five of the new Outer Limits (came out in 1997). Great episode, one that really makes you think like many of the stories do. But this one seemed very relevant today, more so than others I have seen.

Now picture the level of technology we had at the time. I mean the time around when this episode aired. The internet as we know it now was in an infant stage and not nearly as prevalent as it is today. We also didn’t have the devices and connections we have now. Hell, wireless was something that was a dream at best at that time.

Imagine a world where we are constantly connected to the web and to each other through a stream of data, fed directly into our brains. We are so very close to this right now. The only difference so far is the data is connected to our phones and tablets. There is a danger within the levels we are reaching toward.

Now I am an old school geek. I welcome all sorts of strangeness like that and I geek out when I see the levels we are reaching with artificial limbs and such now. But at the same time I can see the dark side of all of this. This constant connection that can consume our lives and turn us into little more than data points along the continuum.

I am not going to go fully into the story of the episode and all that. I would probably bore you with my level of geekitude. I just wanted to mention that it is worth a watch (You can find it on hulu). The correlation between the vision in 1997 and the world we live in now is uncanny.

As I sit here thinking of where we are on a Wednesday night I feel I can’t leave you without a story. I could probably give you something new and different but I want to leave that for another day. Instead I will give you something from the old site, a story that you can find now in the book A Flash in the Pan. It makes sense consider those stories are the collected stories from a year of writing for the Indies Unlimited flash fiction challenge. Let’s jump to it….

The Headsman’s Block

This stump is the infamous Headsman’s Block. Countless outlaws met their end here. The ancient wood is scarred from the edge of the headsman’s blade as it bit through the necks of the condemned.

In the whole sordid history of the block, only one prisoner managed to escape the headsman’s cold sharp steel…consciousness

How does a man beat the headsman’s cold sharp steel, you ask? That my friend is a tall order that can only be answered by the story of Ol’ Bill Hickory. You see, he was the only man to survive the Headsman’s block.

Now Ol’ Bill was a quiet man. He had few words to bandy about to the people in the town of Blackwater. Kept to hi’self most of the time. But he did have an eye for Sally Mae Pennyforth.

Now Sally Mae’s daddy, Jerome Pennyforth came from the old world and old money. He wasn’t keen on Ol’ Bill sniffin’ ’round his daughter. He made a point to let his disfavor be known to one and all.

But there was a fly in the ointment for that. Ya see, young Sally Mae had a hankerin’. She thought Ol’ Bill to be a might handsome young man. She was keen on conversatin with him into the wee hours of the night.

Well it was a night, come October, if I reckon. That night was a cold one. Winter was nippen at the heel of autumn. Well, Sally Mae’s daddy, he had hi’self a plan.

Now I ain’t one to be tellin’ tales outta school, but Mr. Pennyforth was upta no good. He did somethin’ unthinkable. Somethin’ so dastardly that it could only result in someone making a trip to Ol’ Snatch’s place. What he did, well he found a way to pin the blame on Bill Hickory.

He give him a trial, sure did. But that was too close for Mr. Pennyforth. He owned that jury. Even had the judge in his pocket. The verdict come in and that was that. Ol’ Bill, he had an appointment at the stump.

It’s said that when Ol’ Bill was to face the headsman, Mr. Pennyforth said the words “Never again.” His daughter, Sally Mae was there. Her eyes filled to the brim with tears. It was a sight.

Well, as the headsman raised the axe in the air and Ol’ Bill with his head layin’ on the stump, his neck was all exposed. It was that last second when Sally Mae rushed forward and pushed Ol’ Bill from the stump. That axe, it came down and took Sally Mae’s head.

That stump was never used again. It sits there still in memory of the sacrifice of Sally Mae Pennyforth.

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