It appears my mind has been traveling outer space this past week, perhaps in search of an escape from the day-to-day drudgery (check out my showcase for more galactic fun). And so it is no surprise that today’s flash features a far-fetched future, one in which the ultimate punishment has been devised. I do hope you enjoy it.
Go To Your Moon!
“Papaw, tell me again about the punishments, the ones they had when you were a kid.” Breathing hard from running four floors, I steadied myself on his synthetic chair. Papaw lit a match, touched it to his pipe, and began to pull.
He always sat on the porch after supper, enjoying the artificial chirp of insects programmed to play in a loop by our virtual assistant, Lirie.
His favorite bit was the magnified sunset seen through the porch glass screen my parents installed for exactly that purpose. If I was lucky, I could catch him in a good mood, get him talking about what life was like in the golden days.
I waited for him to take a few more puffs before climbing onto his lap. I liked to pretend I was boarding an old passenger car. I’d buckle myself in with his snappy suspenders, pretend his mustache was an old railway track and the smoke from his pipe, puffs of steam from an antique engine. I glanced at the door, grateful no one emerged.
“Well, in my day, kid, children spent an awful lot of time standing in the corner with their noses pressed to the crack.” He paused to puff more steam.
“Never knew how long we’d have to stand there, too. I heard many an episode of MASH from a living room crevice. Wait, do you know what MASH is?
“No matter. The point is, you couldn’t sit down.”
“Why’s that, Papaw?” I’d asked the same question a million times, but he’d never once explained. Standing up seems far better than sitting down.
As he took another puff, I tried to picture Papaw standing in the corner. Was it even possible for his nose to touch the crease over top of his belly?
When he didn’t answer, I commented. “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, Papaw. Not like what happens today.” I swallowed the thought, glancing again at the back door, and catching a chill that made my shoulder blades jiggle.
“Well, if you said any bad words,” Papaw whispered, “you’d get a bar of soap right in the mouth. Spit and spit all you want, you weren’t getting that taste out, especially Dial. Yucky yellow stuff.”
“What bad words, Papaw?” But after a minute of electronic crickets, I knew he wasn’t going to tell.
I’d only seen soap bars in retro movies. I tried to imagine my mother lining up my mouth below the liquid soap dispenser and pouring this month’s selected scent down my throat. But that seemed too monstrous even for her.
“Of course, there was also the dreaded flyswatter. If you really got under someone’s skin, they’d take these square plastic bug killer things and go at your arms and legs. Talk about a sting. I remember my mother whipping me so badly, that the swatter looked like abstract art afterward.
I shook my head. “Incredible,” I said, but inside I was thinking–boy, these punishments sure sound puny.
Nowadays, when a kid doesn’t comply with the rules, refuses to eat his carrocili, or talks back to his parental units on the vidscreen chat, he always gets the same command.
Cyberspace. Yuck. Makes me sick just thinking about it. I couldn’t handle warp speed another time. And that’s when I realized I was shivering, and dad was in the doorframe, holding up the mangled biocontroller, the one that starts all the ‘tronics in our house. Wasn’t my fault it fell into the trash compactor.
“Sorry, Dad. It was an accident, I swear. Didn’t mean to drop it.”
“No excuses. You know what this means.
“But it’s so cold there. Please, please don’t make me. Please.”
“We’ve told you time and time again not to take the controller in the kitchen. No ifs, ands, or buts. Straight to your moon!”
Like that, I was exiled progeny. No matter what planet a kid inhabits, when this order is given, she or he must quickly board the rocket stored right outside their bedroom window. Strap in, bite their blubbering bottom lips, and prepare for lift-off. Three, two one, there goes all the fun.
Oh, there’s been many a high-speed sore hiney rocketed into the emptiness of outer space. After all, there’s always an empty chair on the moon. Spacesuit on, I waited in isolation to see what the dark side was all about. Wondering how long it would be before somebody signaled me home.