#184: Technical Difficulties
If you’ve ever experienced technical difficulties, you know the boundless frustration it can cause. Glitches, bugs, constant buffering, or — worst of all — no connection whatsoever; these small inconveniences can throw our days off balance (and make us want to pull our hair out). Taken to the extreme, technological failures and a breakdown of the internet infrastructure could have far-reaching and devastating consequences on a global scale.
This week’s prompts are inspired by technostress and issues of connectivity, inviting you to take your frustration out on the keyboard — or even imagine a world without the internet! 😱
And psst! While we have you, remember to check out your free digital copy of PROMPTED — a new literary magazine, featuring winning stories from weekly Prompts contests just like this one, edited by Reedsy professionals.
This week's prompts
Start your story with someone saying “Houston, we have a problem.”
Dialogue – 45 stories
Set your story during a complete city or nation-wide blackout.
Thriller and Suspense – 54 stories
Write a story about a character who is experiencing glitches in their reality.
Mystery – 84 stories
Write about someone who has chosen to disconnect and live an analog life.
Character – 37 stories
Write a story where a character has to decide whether to press the button or not.
Science Fiction – 73 stories
“LIFE CAN BE A GLITCH” by Susan Catucci
“KP-6, what’s taking so long? I need more coffee, you clotted bot!”I was in a foul temper. I’d gotten up early this morning, realizing I had a story due today. I’d been working on it, but not as diligently as I should have. Now I was smack up against a deadline. My piece had to be proofed and ready to go before noon if it was going to make this week’s edition of Tech Life. Where was that coffee?“KP . . . oh, great, about time. You’re really dragging this morning; I’m g...
“Worded” by Ash Egan
SOMEONE NEARBY HAS CHALLENGED YOU TO A GAME OF WORDED.Rob looks up from his phone as the train pulls away from the station.Standing by the door, his shoulder pressed against the handrail, he observes his fellow passengers.Eight seats face each other in the center of the carriage, occupied by commuters bathed in the glow of their smartphones and tablets and e-readers. It's busy as always and everyone is squeezed in, shoulder to shoulder. Hunched and swaying in rhythm with the train's st...
“A Twist In The Tail” by Helen A Smith
“HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.” Margi’s heart hammered as she uttered the words she hoped she’d never have to use…… When Fred had come into her life three months earlier, he’d brought with him joy and a sense of purpose only a pet can bring. There was a reason to get up in the morning. He had released Margi from the loneliness that had haunted her after losing Bruno, her beloved dachshund a few months earlier. Margie was determined to g...
“The Pros and Cons of a Super Position” by Luke Mitchell
PROS AND CONS OF PUSHING THE BUTTON By the One Who Pushes PRO: The world has never (not even once!) ended. Neither as a direct result of your having pushed the Button, nor in any other way. This is optimal. CON: The world (your world, that is) has indeed never, not once, ende...
“Killer Kyle and Multiverse Mike” by Graham Kinross
Parental Warning: contains mention of public urination, gore, violence,drugs, and frequent pop/geek culture references.Ever feel like the walls are closing in? I definitely had a bed when I went to sleep. Next thing I know, I was lying on the cold, hard and sticky ground. There were some magazines there that I think have been out of publication for years. It was cool getting to know Kerrang's hottest artists of 2014 all over again, but I missed my bed.Then there’s my flatmate. Don’t get me wrong, the photos on the...
“Panic” by Liz Dubelman
Lucy always set the alarm tone on her iPhone to harps because it reminded her of angels. Angels gave the day a spiritual start, though she usually woke up a few minutes before and grabbed the phone to check her texts, email and news. Sometime during this process the harps would play, but not today. Perfect lines of sunlight painted her walls, projected from the Venetian blind slats. The room was sparse because...
“LIFE UNPLUGGED” by Susan Catucci
“Pres? Pres, can you stop what you’re doing for one second and listen to me?”Preston Philips looked up from his iPhone where he’d been checking his mail. He’d set his phone’s vibration to a different frequency for all modes of communication, whether it be email, news, weather, facetime, conference call, wife calling, the kids, wake-up, go-to-bed, take-your-pills, and more.“What is it, Jane?”“I want you to look around and tell me what you see.”Preston felt a ...
“Looking Up” by Marshall Gothage
James lay lengthways on the small brown couch in the middle of his tiny studio apartment, his head propped up by the armrest. He thought to himself as he stared at the ceiling. His eyes focused on the imaginary patterns one finds when staring too long at a blank canvas. Noting the ridges and bumps amidst the sea of white paint. He had begun to count the tiny bubbles to pass the time but gave up somewhere around six hundred when he started feeling his eyes close from mental fatigue. He had forgotten how intricate the world could be when ta...
“Gut Feeling” by Teresa Eder
The last thing I remembered before the fall was the look of absolute horror on my roommate‘s face. I almost felt bad about it, but honestly, who wakes up at 6am on a Sunday morning? It‘s not my fault he decided to go on a run at the brink of dawn when most people come home from a night out. That‘s what I‘d been doing- trying to sober up enough to enjoy the last cigarette before bed in my usual spot on the little balcony ...
“When Two and Two Make Five” by Mike Panasitti
Sick people can do the craziest things.There was the time I came back home to Las Vegas from Orange County, where I’m a resident in a care home, and I ripped out all the carpeting at Max’s house. My mom, Maria Elena Grimaldi, has been seeing Max for fourteen months, twelve days, and nine hours. I know because I remember her telling me she met Max when he started working at the Gold Coast casino where she’s been employed for five years, eleven months, two weeks and three days—a total of three-thousand, seven-hundred, eight...
“Multiverse Mike and Killer Kyle Unplugged” by Graham Kinross
“I can live without electricity,” I said. “Yeah, Mike, me too.” Kyle sighed. Licking his lips, he cast his eyes over the posters that cover the wall of our flat. Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Amy Pond from Doctor Who and Florence Pugh as Black Widow stared down at us. Even though the electricity lines had been fine after the alien invasion, fires had crippled the whole city sin...
“On Little Cat Feet” by Cindy Strube
On Little Cat FeetYou’re watching my fingers tapping on the keyboard. Those luminous green eyes are fixed on the movement… Mesmerized… mesmerizing… Help, Cat! Give me inspiration. The Naming of Cats is a great poem—but how am I going to write an essay on it? Eliot must have known cats. He used great characte...
“The Babysitter and the Red Button” by Douglas Hamilton
“Don’t worry. I’m sure she’s quite capable. She’s one of our best grad students. She should have no problem looking after the compound for a short while.” Edna is adept, in her professional manner, at making the best of a Zoom call. Perfectly framed in the monitor, in an executive chair set against a bookcase sparsely filled with artfully arranged books and pottery, she almost seems to be there with Harold, holding his hand. But Harold does worry. He worries about the security cameras, the automated feedings, and the environme...
“The Chicken” by Wake Lloire
The sky out the window was brighter today. The sounds of the birds outside; louder. Harriet sat on the bench, contemplating the chores she had to do today.Harriet remembered to tie her laces. When she didn’t the chickens liked to peck at her feet as if she’d brought them worms. She bent down slowly her boots seemed further away today, somehow, than yesterday.The kettle whistled on the iron stovetop. Harriet turned to move the kettle to the counter when she noticed movement near the door.<...
“Life Without You” by Daniel Allen
When I become conscious, I’m not lying in bed. I’m not lying anywhere. I’m walking. My stomach lurches. I’ve had another episode. I sit down on the park bench and take a few deep breaths. It’s okay, I tell myself. Everything will be okay. You’re safe. You’re alive. They’re the same things I tell myself every time I black out. On each occasion, they become a little harder to be...
Ended on 23:59 - Feb 10, 2023 EST
Won by Michelle Oliver 🏆
Title: All the Lonely People
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