Thursday, October 31, 2013

Give Us Your Hungry - WEP Halloween Blogfest (and early #FridayFlash)

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Up, Down, Into, Around... Gerald hummed the little ditty to impress the sequence into his brain once and for all. He'd only been out of training for a few hours, but turnover at the Supplemental Nutrition Office was high and so a position had opened for him immediately.

Surveying the vacant-eyed, flaccid sacks of jelly that lined the waiting room, Gerald surreptitiously fondled his obliques with pleasure. Four hours at the school gym every day, physiology and sociology courses attended while bouncing on his exercise ball, the native intelligence to manage the hefty allowance his father sent him every week; these had turned him into a veritable idol for the masses to look up to. Utterly ridiculous, the number of non-working, corpulent, unwashed, illiterate humans living in this city. And how magnificent that their betters had put together a program to try and lift up the downtrodden, stiffen the backbones of the weak, support those unable or unwilling to support themselves without crippling them with too many luxuries, tax-payer overabundance which entrapped them in a silken snare of perpetual servitude...

The plastic tubing suddenly wrapped around his neck choked off his pleasurable ruminations.

"Gotcha Gerry! Ogling that toothless broad over yonder? I saw you feeling yourself up." Kyle, the interim program supervisor, removed the tubing and coiled it like a lasso.

Gerald felt a rising blush in spite of himself. "New shirt's a little scratchy." A glance at the clock showed 8:59. "Time to call numbers. I wanna be out of here by five so I can get in some rowing on the river."

"As you wish, Master. Please wait for your loyal subjects in the throne room."
*****
She couldn't have been more than 13 or 14, with dimples and delicate, fragile ears. Sweat broke out on his forehead. He steadied himself by scanning her microchip and reading the data. Father dead, mother recently laid off, three siblings aged 9, 4 and 3 months. Zero assets. Pre-qualified for one month of meals. Proffering a packet of ration stamps, he lectured her on their use and safekeeping. Then he carefully tore out one ticket. "You give one of these to me each time, right? We can access everything by microchip, but the old paper system teaches you responsibility. Have a seat, and I'll get you your meal."
*****
Up, Down, Into, Around...he sang to himself. First a little lubricant, then the two-foot long plastic tube as thick as his middle finger snaked through her nose. Tears welled up and flowed, temporarily pooling in her dimples. He squirted a little sugared water into her mouth and urged her to swallow, honey, swallow as he slipped the tube past the glottis, inched it slowly down her throat into her esophagus and stomach. She writhed silently, miserably, and Gerald felt an unwelcome pang of ...what? He was performing a public service. Allowing her to stay alive and healthy. A few seconds of discomfort, but then the sweet reward of 2000 welcome calories flowing into her body. The stuff of life. And perhaps the daughter would push her mother more insistently to work, support the family, get off the public dole.

When he was finished, he escorted her through the door in his best chivalric fashion. 9:15, not bad for a start. He'd get through the caseload by 4:00 easily. Not like the old days of frozen turkeys and bagged groceries, when lines stretched around the block for 14 hours at a stretch. Those people and their government had become hopelessly mired in a failing theory of "feed the poor", similar to the political fiasco of "feed the mob" which brought an end to Rome. In the new regime, supported autonomy was the cornerstone. Sometimes it is necessary to temporarily compromise the autonomy of a person in the short term to preserve their autonomy in the long-term.

And they were getting fed for free, weren't they?
  
Writer Djuna Barnes had herself force-fed to experience what suffragettes were enduring in 1914.
 For more info on Djuna Barnes click here

 ^

51 comments:

  1. Oh that's creepy! Well done! I was wondering where this was going. You can't help but hate Gerald and his self-righteous attitude. I think your story has disturbed me more than any of the others I've read so far.

    Well done!
    Jen

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    1. Thank you! Disturbing is GOOD! ;-)

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  2. I wouldn't call that feeding. Yeah, Gerald was a jerk.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Alex. Force-feeding has been used in the past for various reasons, some necessary, some as punishment. But it's always an awful thing. And gerald IS a jerk. I created him, and I loathe him. In fact I might just kill him off in a future story. ;-)

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  3. Just doing his job attitude and an arsehole into the bargain!

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  4. Well, I could make some political comments about Gerald but I'll refrain. I shudder to think the future would look anything like this. Kept me guessing throughout. Well done.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks for refraining :-) I thought long and hard about this piece because I didn't want to stoke any particular fires. I wanted to do horror without the usual elements. And medicine is an interest of mine...

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  5. When I started reading I was wondering where was it going, but then ahhh...

    Great story telling!

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    1. Thanks Kelly. it's tricky sometimes to keep the reader guessing and yet maintain interest. Glad you enjoyed it!

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  6. Woah, that's dark! Excellent stuff Li!

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  7. Li, you're the master! How do you come up with these ideas? Awesome! I wonder if this is actually happening...hopefully not, but who knows in this screwed up world? 'The poor will always be with us' the Bible says, but do the poor always have to be so powerless? Money isn't everything, but it sure makes life easier...like your protagonist. What hasn't he got? He's got money, he's got health...but he's lacking empathy and heart...nearly...he did have that little feeling which he didn't understand. Scumbag.

    Great story. Thanks for posting for both WEP and FridayFlash. Excellent entry.

    Hope you can come up with an idea for SHARING in November...

    Denise

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    1. (Smacks head) Denise, I titally forgot to add the pic that inspired the idea. i just posted it, of Djuna Barnes undergoing forcefeeding in 1914. It was used against suffragettes who were imprisoned and on hunger strikes. (I believe it is still used in prisons.)

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  8. Really well..um...fleshed out, Li. You made Gerald just that much more despicable..a villain who doesn't see that in himself. Great job, as always.

    and..

    BOO!

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    1. You don't scare me! :-) Ha! Fleshed out...I like that. Punny as always.

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  9. Not a pleasant experience for a child, even for the preservation of life. Gerald provides such contrast by the merry way in which he goes about his job and how dispassionate he in in his view. I'm happy this is only the imagining of a creative mind and not the reality we face. Good job.

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    1. Hopefully it will never come to pass in this manner :-)

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  10. Very, very creepy! But well done!

    Trick or Treat and Happy Halloween!

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    1. Thank you Yolanda. Treat, please! :-)

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  11. Gerald's lack of empathy gives the creeps, and makes him perfect for his job. Scary Hallowe'en story!

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  12. I had some trouble figuring out if this was in our world or a secondary one, and whether things like the flaccid sacks of jelly were diminutive terms for other people and whether plastic normally strangles people autonomously. That was fun to figure out. Interesting foray into style, Li!

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    1. Happy to have made you think! :-) I like to leave a few things open to reader interpretation. It could be another world, or an alternate history of this world, the near future as I envision it...all your choice. As for the plastic...possible. After all, my old toaster randomly pitched toast across the room at me once or twice a month. (It paid the ultimate price.)

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  13. I wasn't sure where it was going - damn you're a clever girl - well done! ^_^

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  14. Scary thought to realise that this actually happens - as with other commentators, I don't like Gerald either. Good story.

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    1. It is awful. I've succeeded in scaring myself. :(

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  15. I felt sick while reading the forced-feeding part. I just kept imagining how a tube went down my throat for an Endoscopy. Although I was unconscious, it still gave me chills. I definitely wouldn't want to be force-fed like that. And I voice what everyone else says about Gerald. Even though he thinks he's doing it for their own good, it feels more like torture. I don't like him and I'm glad you said you just might kill him off in the future. I'd like to read that! lol

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    1. Yeah, I found it creepy as well. I asked a medical professional about it. (I also left out more details - I didn't want to go overboard.) The votes for offing gerald keep rolling in...

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  16. Interesting and creepy. Force-feeding is an inhumane "humane" act, isn't it? Too many real Geralds in this world, aren't there? Thanks for visiting my entry. :-)

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    1. There are too many Geralds - some malicious, others just oblivious, selfish and lacking empathy.

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  17. I'm very squeamish and don't like to view or read anything unpleasant. This blog hop has been a challenge in that regard! Still, I must be allowed to say that you certainly know how to write.

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    1. I'm with you! I haven't seen most horror movies, seldom read any horror and have only attempted to wrote 2 or 3 horror shorts (out of several hundred). So this was a huge challenge - I don't know much about vampires, ghosts, ghouls, serial killers, etc. Hence the "oddball" subject matter!

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  18. Kill him! Kill Gerald! Kill, kill, kill! Oh, um, nice creepy story. ;-)

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  19. Oh dear, Tim. I suppose I must after that eloquent plea. But first, i must think about a suitable punishment. (Not the obvious, of course.)

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  20. "flaccid sacks of jelly" Love that!
    <a href="http://www.charmaineclancy.com>dream... write... publish</a>

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  21. Really chilling. And God forbid that the world should get to this stage. After all, I'm sure there are plenty of Gerald's-in-the-making, lurking about... just waiting for such an opportunity to arise... *shudders*
    I'm not one who really reads much horror and find it difficult to write it. You've done an excellent job Lisa!
    Writer In Transit

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  22. What a great concept for a story, this is so well put together,and the very idea of that tube going down gives me the shivers. Eeeeewww!!

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  23. Disturbing is definitely the right word for this one, likely because the whole idea is quite plausible. Chills!

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  24. Saturday November 2nd, 3012

    Dear Li,

    Long time no see!

    This was masterfully written! Wonderful details, such as the thickness of the tube that Gerald stuck up her nose! Ouch! You must have done some research to know about this.

    I would love to read more about Gerald. Hope he gets it!

    My daughter had problems when she was born. She had to have open-heart-surgery when she was only one week old. She was often too weak to nurse, so the nurses force-fed her with a tiny plastic tube through her nose. But talk about a little girl with perseverance! She would pull the tube out of her nose all the time. One week old!

    Thank you for visiting and commenting on my insomnia-story. I wish I could give you one of my cats! I have six! I had eleven in July and have had quite a time finding new homes for them.

    Best wishes,
    Anna
    Anna's WEP-Challenge for October: Haunting

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    1. Hi Anna - I hope your cats find homes! I couldn't take one, unfortunately, because I am allergic to them. Thanks for stopping by!

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  25. I desperately want to smack this narrator.

    The worst part is I know, I know, some bureaucrat has sat down with a spreadsheet and worked out the benefits vs. drawbacks on this very thing.

    Great depiction.

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    1. Smack away! :-) Revolting as it is, one look at history will tell you that it is always a possibility at some point.

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  26. A very well written story and quite disturbing.... The more I think about it, the more disturbing it feels... :-) It makes me think of Brave New World or Soylent Green. Great entry!

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    1. Thank you Vesper! Ah, if only I could come up with something as great as Brave New World!

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  27. Disturbing was the first word to come to my mind also. What a sick mind! I'm glad there is lots of employee turn-over at Food Nutrition Office, lol. Who knows which direction politics of the future will take.

    Well written Li; I'm sufficiently grossed out!

    ........dhole

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    1. Did you mean my sick mind? ;-) Glad you were grossed out, as I have difficulty writing horror of any kind.

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  28. That force feeding experience must be really scary.

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    1. Absolutely! Gastro tubes are medically necessary for some individuals, and never pleasant, but used as a tool of the government....ugh. And yet, it's been done in the past as I found out when reading about the suffragette movement in England.

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