Contest #141 shortlist ⭐️

89 comments

Speculative Fiction Funny

This story contains sensitive content

C/W: drug use, swearing


It all started when the illustrious Cassiopeia Café ran out of ketamine. My girlfriend, Tabitha and I were enjoying a day off together. We’d been shopping in the city, mostly at Kenzo, Gucci and 3D Warehouse, ordering an obscene amount of clothing to be delivered to our respective homes, before deciding to take a break on the café’s beautiful terrace.

It was mid-afternoon and sunny, a good time of day to be seen in Cassiopeia. Tabitha, being an online fashionista personality, knew such things in the same way I knew the marketing strategy behind every advert, slogan and by-line that flitted across our phone screens.

“What will you have?” she asked, placing one perfectly manicured hand on her hip. She turned her body; every move a deliberate pose.

“Not sure,” I said. My gaze wandered over the gleaming white cups, glassware and the coffee machine itself. In the transparent grinder, dark-chocolate beans hopped rhythmically, almost in time to the electro-punk background music. My mother always talked about how loud the grinders used to be, but she must have been exaggerating.

Tabitha waved her phone in front of the display counter and inspected the results as we moved forwards in the queue. I did the same; verifying MyNutrition for my narcotic allowance and dietary recommendations.

“I think I’ll have a warp-speed espresso and an opiate muffin,” she said.

I nodded, unsurprised by her ridiculous choice. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to either be stimulated or calmed, not some bizarre mixture of the two. And right then, I needed the latter.

Why?

Because everything was getting to me: the enforced serenity on my own face, the too-quiet peace of the clothing stores we had visited, the languid body language of every single person in the café, Tabitha’s tinkling laugh (that I’d listened to her practice in the bathroom, no doubt throwing her head back just so, analysing the precise angle that made her pearlescent teeth catch the light), even the luscious wide-fronded green plants bothered me (fake, obviously, just like everything else).

“OMG!” Tabitha whispered. “It’s Jasmin Seluscha!”

“Who?” I glanced in the direction she was indicating and—

“Don’t look!”

“Why? Who is she?”

“Jasmin. Seluscha.” Her gold-flecked green eyes burrowed into mine. “She’s a really well-known reporter, Joshua. Started out in Whooz Dat? Got headhunted by Real People? First person to interview Axley Holt?”

I feigned realisation. “Oh! Her!”

Studying said woman in the mirrored glass to the left of the counter, I realised that I did recognise her. Angular features, shaggy blond hair, light-blue eyes. She oozed intelligence in a way that made me nervous and excited just being near her.

Everyone had seen the interview with Axley Holt: Hollywood’s hottest omnigendered pansexual star. I liked them, their portrayal of Miley Cyrus in a dramatization of their life was sublime. And Jasmin Seluscha had done a great job probing Axley about their childhood, political opinions and sex-life without offending them. I was particularly intrigued that Axley shared my disillusionment over materialism and the societal indifference to drug use that decades of legalisation had spawned. She was an excellent reporter.

“Do you think I’ll ever get interviewed by her?” Tabitha asked wistfully.

Uh oh, danger.

This question - or more specifically my response – held potential to ruin the entire day. My muscles flexed beneath my 3D-print Armani casual city wear; the neck feeling tighter than it had that morning. Sweat would soon break out along the rivets of my spine, staining the inside lining of my jacket. The odour inexorably finding passage out into the open.

“If not,” I said, “it’ll be her loss.”

Tabitha smiled demurely and my insides relaxed. Her relentless perfection was grating on the inside of my skull, though I did my best to ignore it. After all, I needed her. I’d never have managed to achieve five-star customer status without her help, opening doors to all the best bars and restaurants in the city. Private clubs that only employed and served five-star citizens. Without her by association, I wouldn’t even have met my current employer.

A vein throbbed in my forehead, just above the right eye socket.

“Good afternoon.” A spotted youth behind the counter was smiling at us. His name badge said Thom. He looked about five. “What would you like?”

Tabitha made her order and stepped aside, smiling, checking her reflection in the cake-display glass. Or was she angling to see if the reporter was looking in her direction?

Did I care?

I made my order. “A decaf keta-cappuccino with potato milk, please.”

“Oh, uh,” Thom said, his eyes glazed over for a second. “I’m sorry, but I think we’re out of ketamine.”

“You ‘think’?” I couldn’t keep the irritation from my voice. Tabitha’s hand slipped into mine, squeezed. “Sorry,” I said quickly. “But could you check? Please?”

“Of course. I uh I’ll check.”

He darted off and Tabitha leant in close. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah. I’ll be fine.”

“This is my favourite coffee house, Joshua.”

I nodded, clenched my buttocks, smoothed the lines of my face into a mask of contentedness.

While Thom disappeared to verify what he should have already known, I pondered the last time I’d had a straight coffee. I couldn’t remember. Had I ever?

The youth was back.

“Hey uh I’m sorry but I couldn’t find it. Pretty sure we’ve run out. I can still do you a decaf potato milk cappuccino… and you could have uh cannabis-sprinkles instead? They’re very popular.”

I couldn’t believe it. Sprinkles?

“Look, Thom.” Even I heard the appalling tone of my voice, but it was already too late. “‘Pretty sure’ isn’t good enough. You either have it or you don’t.”

The bones of my knuckles ground together beneath Tabitha’s grasp. I ignored her.

“I uh—”

I raised my voice the tiniest bit. “You either have it… Or. You. Don’t.”

That was when I realised everyone within a four-meter radius had stopped talking. The jaunty music bopped along and saucers clinked, but the hubbub of voices had subsided. A woman of about my mother’s age with a suitably grave expression suddenly appeared by the boy’s right shoulder, her white hair poofed out in a flawless halo, radiating authority.

“Is there a problem here?” she asked, brown eyes wide with concern. “My name’s Abi, I’m the manager. May I help?”

“Thank you, Abi,” I said, slow, calm. “I would like a keta-cappuccino and this… young man… doesn’t know whether or not you have any.”

Thom turned to his boss. “I said we didn’t have—”

I opened my mouth to argue but Abi beat me to it. Her voice pacifying as she addressed me. “I’m afraid he is right. We don’t have it, sir.”

Thom smiled at me – a vicious twitch of the lips - and I imagined what it might feel like to punch him in the face.

Abi continued, “As I believe my colleague here suggested, we do have cannabis-sprinkles. Or, if that’s not to your taste, we have the more traditional chamomile tea, which is very relaxing.” Her gaze took on a ponderous quality that I did not appreciate. “We also have opiate muffins.”

“Oh, those are so lovely!” Tabitha chimed in, earning herself a sympathetic smile from Abi, whose warmth evaporated when she turned back to me. “What would you like?”

I forgave her the chamomile tea slur, but only because she reminded me of my mother. “I’ll have the cannabis-sprinkles and an opiate muffin, please.”

“Blueberry?” Thom asked, his shit-eating grin getting wider by the second.

“Yes,” I said. I paid and hesitated by the counter, Tabitha was already threading her way out to the terrace, but damage control was definitely required. A little desperate, I said, “I’m sorry if I was a little short with you there, Thom.”

“S’alright,” he said. “Enjoy your coffee.”

“Thank you very much.”

I found Tabitha in the shade of an artificial paradise palm tree, index finger flicking over her phone. Once I’d sat down, she sighed. “We need to talk.”

“I know, I know. I’ve been feeling a bit tense lately and work is—”

“A bit tense.” She made the words sound like individual slaps. “That,” she said, lifting her chin towards the counter, “was unacceptable.”

The drinks arrived, brought by a bubbly red-haired girl dressed in the café’s black star-studded uniform. I reached out to take the tray and knocked her off-balance. Half my cappuccino slopped over the edge and slid down to pool in the saucer. The waitress gasped, apologised, asked if I wanted another one. I said no and waved her away. Tabitha’s green eyes flashed. “What?”

“I can’t do this anymore.”

“You’re not dumping me, are you?” I almost laughed, but then stopped. She stared, silent. “Are you?” I repeated.

“Don’t get me wrong, Joshua. It’s been great, but—”

“Hang on, we’ve been together three years. We’re a good couple, everyone thinks so.”

“LifeCoach says that if I want to get anywhere professionally, I need to take everything seriously. And that includes my love-life.”

“You’re breaking up with me because LifeCoach told you to?”

“It’s more than that. We’re not moving forward.”

“I seem to remember asking you to move in with me, but you didn’t want to.”

She clicked her tongue. “You’re bad at your job. Don’t look at me like that. You are. I got you that job, introduced you to the right people and I mean, you’re supposed to be a marketing executive, current social trends… and you don’t even know who Jasmin Seluscha is! It’s embarrassing. What story is top of your news feed? Hm?”

“What does it matter—”

“I bet it’s job adverts. Personality tests. Articles about how to land your dream career. Well? Am I warm?”

Hardly, the arctic had nothing on her. “OK, I admit I’m not in love with my job. It’s not a crime.” I leant forward, put my elbows on the table. “Do you ever think sometimes that what we do is a little… superfluous?”

“No.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking that when I’m old and looking back on my life, I want to feel like I’ve accomplished something worthwhile, you know, like I’ve made a difference.”

“You’ve been reading poetry again.”

“Also not a crime.” 

“You’re an emotion junkie,” she said. “And I can’t deal with it anymore. I’ve decided that I’m only going to associate with and date five-stars.”

“I am five-star.”

Tabitha rolled her eyes and held up her phone so the screen faced me. My profile was there. Joshua Hopper, 32, Customer Rating: 3.9

I shook my head. “There must be some mistake. It was 5.2 this morning.”

“Scroll down,” she said.

The screen began moving, displaying my most recent ratings. My mouth dried up. Three stars, another three, two (that was 3D Warehouse, they must have heard me commenting on their shipping fee) and finally, the nail in my ratings:

Cassiopeia Café gives Joshua Hopper - 1 star

Condescending, rude and borderline menacing #onestar #bekind #badratings

“One star?” I said it out loud, making Tabitha suck air through her teeth. “Come on. That isn’t fair… and how did you know so fast? Do you check my profile every five seconds?”

“I am a professional. I get alerted if any of my contacts fall below 4 star-status.”

She leant back, sipped her coffee and tapped her metallic nails upon the porcelain. The noise drummed directly into my brain. The surrounding tables had gone conspicuously quiet and the spot between my shoulder blades itched.

“This isn’t fair,” I said again.

Tabitha shrugged. “You could appeal, but plenty of people saw it.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

The waitress reappeared and deposited a small slice of golden cake with white icing in front of Tabitha, who slid it towards me. “Here,” she said. “Lemon drizzle with Prozac-infused icing. I’ve been told it takes the edge off rejection.”

I stared, fury boiling in my gut as Tabitha gazed up at the blue sky, the surrounding plant life, her coffee cup. She took another sip and still didn’t meet my eyes. I slammed my open palm on the table, making the saucers jump. She froze, eyes wide, the trace of a smile on her lips.

An enormous shadow fell over me. The darkness belonged to the doorman, his hand was up by his ear, triggering some alert that would put me on facial recognition for sure. “Sir. How are we doing today?”

“I’m good, thank you.”

“Excellent. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ask you to leave. This way, please.”

I admired him his demeanour which was affable and sincerely apologetic. He was accustomed to getting rid of people, politely, without making a scene that would disrupt the beautiful ambiance of Cassiopeia Café.

“Of course,” I said, standing up.

I downed the coffee, gasping as it burnt my oesophagus, grabbed my opiate muffin - left the offensive lemon cake - and departed with an unexpected lightness in my step.

For the seed of an idea was already fulminating in my mind.

***

Over the following twelve months, the idea grew, sprouting hashtags and followers and media coverage at an exponential rate. It was near impossible for me to keep track of everything. Not that I tried very hard.

#onestar

#whocaresnotme

Article from the fourth page of Where Monthly: Controversial Supernova Café opens and for those who’ve been living under a rock, its USP is that it doesn’t rate its customers. At all. Critics give it three months.

Headline from The Star - “Who is Joshua Hopper and why should we care?”

Two months later, a paparazzi image of Axley Holt leaving Infinity Beyond with one arm slung over my shoulders threatened to break the internet.

I gave no comment.

Headline from Pentagonal News’ business column – “Supernova Café’s Joshua Hopper: Pioneer of a new sub-culture or deranged emotion junkie?”

#emotionjunkie

#joshuahopper

#badmood

Front Page of Real People – A monochrome photo of Mr. Hopper, delivering his trademark brooding stare. Full article on page 7.

Excerpt from said article:

Supernova Café, famously frequented by Axley Holt, solely employs one- and two-star citizens. Giving them a place to call home within society and in some cases, enabling them to achieve higher star statuses later in life. Former employees have described Mr. Hopper as benevolent, kind and in more than one case, their saviour.

Mr. Hopper #smileifyouwantto #badmood #whocaresnotme, recently nominated as the Sexiest Man Alive by Whooz Dat magazine, talks to Real People. Jasmin Seluscha has the exclusive. 

“Mr. Hopper, you’re quite the oxymoron, instigator of #whocaresnotme and yet, you have a five-star rating.”

“Oh yes, but I’m sure most of those votes were made ironically.”

“Perhaps. So, do I have to be in a bad mood to visit Supernova Café?”

“No, not at all. My ethos is that you don’t have to pretend. We won’t rate you. You won’t get a one star from us because you weren’t smiling.”

“Doesn’t that encourage people to be unpleasant?”

“It happens, but less than you’d think. Most people get it. It’s a safe place. Wouldn’t you like to be able to go out for a drink or a meal without worrying about how you’ll be scored?”

“I can see the attraction. It is all about appearances these days.”

“Isn’t it always?”

“I have to ask. Is it true you have ‘anger-management cubicles’ complete with punching bags behind tinted glass?”

“You’ll have to come and see for yourself.”

“I may just do that.”

“Wonderful.”

“Do you think your friendship with Axley Holt has helped your business?”

“Undoubtedly, Axley has been very supportive. They share my view of the star system.”

“Which is?”

“That it should be abolished. We are nuanced, complicated individuals. I am much happier since I stopped paying attention to it.”

“And is there a romantic connection between yourself and Axley? It is one of our most frequently asked questions.”

“And I believe the most frequently asked question is whether or not that is an engagement ring in your left ear, Miss Seluscha.”

“I am interviewing you, Mr. Hopper.”

“Sorry, couldn’t resist. To answer your question, I don’t disclose my romantic relationships online.”

“But you do have relationships?”

“Oh yes, but I am… uh, how can I put this… romantically offline. No photos, no ratings. Only reality.”

“Fascinating.”

#onlyreality

#hotforhopper

#romanticallyoffline

***

It was exactly two days after the interview came out in Real People that Tabitha graced Supernova Café with her presence. I couldn’t quite believe she was on my dating history; she was so glossy. All her ex-partners had given her at least a four (I tried to give her a two, but she had it removed twenty seconds later).

“Good afternoon. What a pleasant surprise,” I said, not entirely sure if I meant it. “What can I get you?”

“Joshua.” She looked appraisingly at me. “You’re doing very well for yourself.”

“If you say so.”

“Jasmin Seluscha gave you five stars. Five! You’re front page of Whooz Dat. And you’re a hashtag.”

“Oh,” I said. “You saw that did you.”

“You’ve really changed it around.” She considered me for a moment with those cat’s eyes of hers, calculating. How did I ever find this woman attractive? “I’m impressed,” she continued. “Our relationship will now be beneficial to both of us.”

I coughed. “Our relationship?”

“Yes, as long as you behave, obviously. I’ll allow it.”

“Tabitha,” I said. “Don’t get me wrong, but you’re not my type anymore.”

She laughed, a mirthless practiced falsetto, but then she saw my face and stopped. “You’re not serious.”

“Actually, I am. Now, what would you like? Warp-speed espresso was your thing, wasn’t it?”

She spluttered, incomprehensibly. “You’re turning me down?”

“I’m afraid so.” I gave her my finest sympathetic look and gestured towards the cake stand. “May I suggest a slice of Prozac-infused lemon drizzle? It can really take the edge off… or so I’ve been told.”

 

April 13, 2022 08:16

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89 comments

Thom Brodkin
23:08 Apr 13, 2022

Rachel I’m pretty sure I’m going to read this at least a few more times. There was so much good about it I couldn’t see it in pass. You created a world that seems far fetched until you really reflect. Today’s absurd is tomorrow’s reality. I’m reminded of 1984 when I read this. It has that kind of gravitas. I told you before I’m a fan of your writing and this didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Great job.

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Zelda C. Thorne
07:32 Apr 14, 2022

Thanks, Lee! Your comment made me smile because the reaction I was hoping for was a mix of "this is ridiculous " and then a slightly worried "is it though?" haha I re-read 1984 a few months ago, it's so great. I'd forgotten all the little details. The dread he manages to create is epic. What a legend.

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Cindy Strube
18:44 Apr 13, 2022

Great satire! I’m not in the Instagram culture at all, but can fully appreciate the references to the unfortunately pervasive veneer of perfection. The “star” café names are perfect. And it’s well-written. (I saw one probable auto correct “it’s USP is that it doesn’t rate its customers.”) One of my favorite passages: “And I believe the most frequently asked question is whether or not that is an engagement ring in your left ear, Miss Seluscha.” “I am interviewing you, Mr. Hopper.” #fivestars

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Zelda C. Thorne
19:06 Apr 13, 2022

Thanks, Cindy! Thanks for taking the time to give feedback. Glad you enjoyed. Obviously, I'm being slow, but I can't see what's wrong with that sentence you pointed out! What should I change?

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Cindy Strube
19:32 Apr 13, 2022

Just change “it’s USP” to “its USP”. (“Its customers” is correct.) And every time I try to type “its” without apostrophe, it inserts one…

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Zelda C. Thorne
19:51 Apr 13, 2022

Ahhhh thank you. Corrected 👍

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Cindy Strube
20:04 Apr 13, 2022

😉 And I just read “More than the Drawer”… absolutely loved it! Going to put a comment on, even though it’s an older story. If you’d like, check out my latest: HOOK!

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Cindy Strube
17:18 Apr 22, 2022

👏🏻 Congratulations on the shortlist!

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Zelda C. Thorne
08:21 Apr 13, 2022

I had a lot of fun writing this. Feedback most appreciated. Looking forward to hearing what you think. :)

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Alex Sultan
22:58 Apr 18, 2022

Hey friend - I really like this story! I think it is one of my favourites of yours. I liked the humour a lot, especially all the hashtag jokes, and the world you created was captivating. The first line caught my attention too, and I liked the jokes you played on drugs and coffee. Best of luck this week!

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Zelda C. Thorne
08:58 Apr 19, 2022

Thanks, Alex. I was particularly proud of my first line here. I think it's the first time I've really thought of a one that hinted at the theme / world straight away, which worked a treat.

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Alex Sultan
22:02 Apr 22, 2022

Easy shortlist - I'm glad to see your work in the spotlight 🥳

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Zelda C. Thorne
06:22 Apr 23, 2022

Thank you, I'm delighted. Obviously 🙂

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K. Antonio
01:40 Apr 18, 2022

The only reason I didn't comment on this earlier was because I was honestly floored by this piece. It's wicked funny and smart and I enjoyed it from the get-go. Humorous pieces are hard for me, humor is so subjective, yet I thought this was great! Really fun story to read! #hopingthisgetsshortlisted

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Zelda C. Thorne
11:20 Apr 18, 2022

Awww Thanks, K! Beyond chuffed you enjoyed it. You've made my day.

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K. Antonio
14:36 Apr 22, 2022

Yay! Congrats on getting shortlisted, Rachel. Super well-deserved!

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Zelda C. Thorne
15:01 Apr 22, 2022

Thank you! I'm so chuffed 🙂

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Shea West
19:28 Apr 13, 2022

Rachel this gave me Black Mirror vibes!!! There's one episode in particular where you watch the girls rating go down, down, down throughout the course of the episode until she's in a state of mania. What you played into is so relevant to the social media lens we live through. The likes and the tagging and all that comes with it. I love a good comeback story and I think you were able to give that to Joshua. The funniest parts to me where the you hybridized words of ketamine and cappuccino... I suspect those would fly off the shelves if they...

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Zelda C. Thorne
20:27 Apr 13, 2022

Oh I think I do remember that episode, its been so long since I watched Black Mirror, might have to re-watch them all! Yes, I amused myself coming up with drug based beverages and that was my favourite. Can't believe I've reached 40 stories. Woo hoo!

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Shea West
20:33 Apr 13, 2022

It's a huge accomplishment!

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Riel Rosehill
19:26 Apr 13, 2022

Oh wow this was SO fun, I was going to highlight all my favourite bits but then I realized I'd have to pretty much copy paste the whole thing, haha. A few highlights for me: "even the luscious wide-fronded green plants bothered me (fake, obviously, just like everything else)." NICE. (Don't know why but I just assumed the couple were two women until I read the name "Joshua" ...this isn't a critique. Just my brain. 😂) Other things I loved: That description of Thom. “A decaf keta-cappuccino with potato milk, please.” LOL And that confron...

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Zelda C. Thorne
20:29 Apr 13, 2022

Thanks so much! I have years of hospitality work behind me so I saw the prompt and thought hey, what if the waiters could rate the customers? And this story happened.

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Riel Rosehill
15:17 Apr 22, 2022

Wow congrats for the shortlist!! Well deserved! Xx

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Zelda C. Thorne
15:19 Apr 22, 2022

Thank you! 😁

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Jay Mc Kenzie
14:00 Apr 13, 2022

This is wonderful! I think you've captured the "Instagram" demographic perfectly. I laughed out loud several times reading this. '“You’ve been reading poetry again.” “Also not a crime.”' Brilliant! I really enjoyed your use of hashtags too. Bravo. #greatstory #rachelrocks #imafan

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Zelda C. Thorne
19:21 Apr 13, 2022

Thanks, Jay! Very pleased to hear you laughed out loud 😊 #lol

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Joseph Malgeri
20:13 Aug 25, 2022

Fantastic! Very sharp original thoughts here, which may not be so far fetched, and could possibly become a reality or close to it in our future. I love the cannabis-sprinkles, opiate muffin, and Prozac-infused lemon drizzle. If you think about it, alcohol is legal, yet it's responsible for more deaths and crimes than the majority of other drugs combined. Perhaps there's a method other than $$$$ to our government's madness? Well written story, Zelda, A+...

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Zelda C. Thorne
06:16 Aug 26, 2022

Oh thank you for the lovely comment. It's a personal favourite.

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Aeris Walker
17:58 Jun 02, 2022

I won't bombard you with all of my favorite lines in this story, but these are just a few: "I nodded, unsurprised by her ridiculous choice. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer to either be stimulated or calmed, not some bizarre mixture of the two." "A woman of about my mother’s age with a suitably grave expression suddenly appeared by the boy’s right shoulder, her white hair poofed out in a flawless halo, radiating authority." I just loved your creativity in this story, and how you managed to build this whole society based on digital ratin...

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Zelda C. Thorne
22:52 Jun 02, 2022

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed reading 😊

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10:25 May 26, 2022

Hi, Rachel! I really loved reading this piece, especially with the use of repetition in the ending. Everything flowed nicely and the dialogue was definitely a highlight. Excellent work. ~ Jasey

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Zelda C. Thorne
14:33 May 26, 2022

Hello there, thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed. Especially pleased that you liked the dialogue 🙂

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23:35 May 26, 2022

Of course :)

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16:13 May 15, 2022

I loved it I have no critiques I think everything was absolutely perfect. I wanna read it like 10 more times lol ...read mine and critique? "Dear Txunamy" and "Getting To Know You" tysmmm

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Zelda C. Thorne
20:42 May 15, 2022

Thank you very much! 😊 Of course I will read your story.

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Mike Panasitti
12:31 May 10, 2022

Speculative fiction, much closer to reality than Huxleyan science fiction or William Gibson's cyber-punk novels. And more frightening.

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Zelda C. Thorne
14:28 May 10, 2022

I'm beyond flattered by your comment. Thank you! P.s. Currently reading Huxley lol

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Kate Winchester
18:12 May 08, 2022

I can see why this was shortlisted! This is great! I loved the absurdity but also the realization that we could end up in a world like that.

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Zelda C. Thorne
20:32 May 08, 2022

Hey! Thanks for the read and the lovely comment. Glad you enjoyed it. :)

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Kate Winchester
23:08 May 08, 2022

You’re welcome 😉

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Philip Ebuluofor
14:01 Apr 26, 2022

The beginning captures you like monkeywrench, the middle sucks you in like vacuume cleaner. You can just help it but to flow along all the way. Captivating work.

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Zelda C. Thorne
15:40 Apr 26, 2022

Haha I will now be thinking on my next story whether it has a monkeywrench start and a vacuum cleaner middle. Lol Thank you!

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Philip Ebuluofor
05:42 Apr 30, 2022

Pleasure.

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Gip Roberts
19:59 Apr 22, 2022

Had a little of everything in it, all of it page-turning. I liked the passive-aggressive revenge Joshua got on Tabitha at the end. Something about coffee shop scenes always immediately draws me in to stories even though I hardly ever drink coffee, but you upped it all a notch with the notion of a world where people can get coffee with anything they want in it (literally). It made it amusing to read, especially the part about the "Prozac-infused lemon drizzle." Congrats on the shortlist, as well as the win with that "Sins of the Father" sto...

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Zelda C. Thorne
21:05 Apr 22, 2022

Hi Gip, thank you very much. I really liked your No Trespassing story by the way, the language was haunting. Hope you are well!

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L. Maddison
18:15 Apr 22, 2022

So clever. I liked the accusation ‘you’ve been reading poetry again.’ What a world. 5 stars from me! :)

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Zelda C. Thorne
18:44 Apr 22, 2022

Thanks! I'm pleased you liked it.

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Daniel R. Hayes
17:21 Apr 22, 2022

Hi Rachel, congrats on being shortlisted! You deserve it! :)

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Zelda C. Thorne
17:51 Apr 22, 2022

😊 Thanks, Daniel!

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15:55 Apr 22, 2022

Congratulations on the shortlist! I knew this was good!!

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Zelda C. Thorne
16:02 Apr 22, 2022

Cheers, you too!

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14:46 Apr 22, 2022

"Hello, Black Mirror calling. We would like to buy this short story to make into a short film..." Get ready for that call. So thrilled for you. Well done. And eerily prescient. Huzzah

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Zelda C. Thorne
15:02 Apr 22, 2022

Haha now that would be cool lol Thanks Deidra!

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