Flash Fiction Responses To A Quiz On A Book I Haven’t Read

1. How do Bill and Josella meet for the first time?

“Ah shit,” Bill said to himself. This wasn’t the first time, he should know better by now. Engine oil gets everything all messy, and he shouldn’t have thought he could change before he was a mile away from work. Of course they had called him back right before his date, the first date he’d been on since the accident four months ago, and now he’s in trouble. He’s already late, and the maître d’ just had to be the first one to notice that his shirttail was greasy. “Guess I’ll just have to hope it doesn’t stain the outside of my trousers after I tuck it in,” he said, quieter this time, hoping no one actually heard him.
Suddenly, a woman stood up from her table and beckoned him over. “Ah, nice to meet you, Jo!”

2. What does Dr. Vorless say that humankind has to now start doing?

Carla — though I suspected that wasn’t her real name — had been sitting quietly for some time, listening. I hadn’t heard her speak in at least an hour, though her bright eyes and the tempo of her fingers tapping on her notepad communicated plenty. Finally, the Chancellor noticed her uncharacteristic silence.
“Ms. Vorless?” he said, a bit too sharply.
Carla stared at him, fingers gone still.
“…Dr. Vorless?” the Chancellor finally gave in.
“Well, capitalism doesn’t seem to be working.”

3. How do we know that Bill is okay and gets through all of this?

I walked behind the guide, following his bright, mustard-yellow and sea-blue tunic out of the corner of my eye, trying to remember my history classes. This was a building that had been a Barn, before The Thawing, and a church before that. You could tell by the Aspe, and the Mansterd. But it was a prison after that, and now that all have been redeemed, peluva, it was a hospital. I was nervous for what I would find out. Not that I had ever doubted, but… to see is another thing.

“And here you see him,” the guide proclaimed, gesturing proudly at a three foot tall, 3 inch wide rectangle of flesh. “He can still talk, on Wednesdays.”

4. What does Michael Beadley think is the one good outcome of the disaster?

Re-reading the notes, Beadley got to his least favourite part. Right before everything went to hell. Toying the “hanc” left on his charred nametag, he muttered, “At least I don’t have to hear anything from that bitch Carly anymore.”

5. Why does Josella come out dressed in a fancy evening dress?

Josella adjusted the fit of her finest* dress around her hips. The half-bull, half-wolf** monsters had finally gotten loose. She had always worried this would happened, and had taken certain precautions. They could see in the dark***, but if you wore the right shade of blue and didn’t stand still too long, you could get away.

Or get close.

Josella unholstered her pistol.

* Only
** Really, the wolves were already one-sixteenth aardvark and one-sixteenth seagull
*** Where a man can see only darkness, a cat can see figures. Where a cat can see only darkness, a high quality infrared set can pick up shapes or more. Where the best infrared sensors can see only darkness, the Mortai can see detail.

6. What is Coker doing the time he is introduced in the book?

I looked up from my homework. Well, honestly, I hadn’t been getting it done. The clock said 21:42, which was odd, because it felt like it said 20:00 five minutes ago and yet 21:40 five hours ago. I might have taken too much adderall.

“Jesus Christ, Welch!” I shouted at my roommate. “At least keep it on the table! At this rate, if they bring the drug dogs in here, they’ll kill us all!”

7. What is the original cause of Bill’s interest in triffids?

“Fifty grand,” the strange man said. “For y’all’s labor. An extra twenty for your pocket if you promise me ain’t no one hear about this.”

Bill inhaled sharply, then took a deep breath to get his head straight. Sure, he was the best mechanic in town. In the county, even, easy. Maybe in the province. But there ain’t nothing left worth spending fifty grand on repairs for.

“Sir… I would love to help you, but I can’t accept that kind of money. Just wouldn’t be right.”

“Come outside with me before you decide,” the man intoned quietly. Bill followed.

“Now, I can’t say where this come from – frankly I prolly don’t got the whole truth, even knowing what I do. But ain’t nothing else like it, I swear on my name,” the man continued, pointing at a device like nothing Bill had ever seen, not in person, not in magazines, not on TV, not even in those damn sci-fi movies his stepson always made him watch. Edges coming out of places where things should be flat, dim lime green lighting provided without so much as an LCD. “I ain’t looking to get it working again – pretty sure it’ll kill me if I do. I’m looking to find out how to make sure it ain’t never gonna work again.”

Bill swallowed dryly, turned aside so he could pretend to cough while he tried to calm his nerves, then focused his attention back at the strange object. He eyed it for a moment, making some appraising “hms” and “ahs,” and eventually turned back to the stranger.

“Two questions, sir: What do you call it, and why ain’t you offer me the two hundred grand you know it’s worth first thing?”

8. Who was the first to wonder about the triffids’ superiority to blind people?

The foreigners arrived two years ago today; this festival is in their honour. They went on and on for weeks beforehand about the preparations, even though it’s us throwing it for them (under not a little duress). The chairs are apparently ugly, even though their shoulders are rounded and the seats are plumped and soft. The tables have no scratches, but now it turns out they want a certain kind of scratches? That nonsense they call balloons, not only did we have to figure out what the hell those were, but now they’re the wrong colour?! They can kiss my ass. Fucking Color-Seers.

9. What marriage relationship does Josella ask Bill to enter into with her?

You unleashed them!” she screamed.

You wouldn’t give me the time of day for less than a thousand dollar dinner, and I didn’t know what the fuck they was anyway!”

“Oh don’t you goddamn pin this on me you piece of shit,” she retorted, turning around and reaching in the closet for her favourite dress. “This is your fault and you damn well know it.”

This was an old argument, but her abrupt coldness halfway through the assault was new. Bill felt shivers down his spine.

“Jo, I…”

She cut him off.

“Bill. Look at me.” He did. “Look me in the eye, and believe me. I’ve never lied to you, but I’ve never been more serious than I am right now. Listen. The world is going to end in three days, if we’re lucky. Two if we’re not. Very plausibly sooner.” Bill moved his hands impatiently, and she rolled her eyes and continued. “There are two things I want to do before I die. One: place a bullet between one of those motherfuckers’ eyes. Preferably more than one.” Bill nodded and started to reach for his pistol in solidarity until he saw her eyes flash with rage. “Can you guess number two?”

Bill shook his head.

“Two: I want a divorce.”

10. Why were triffids cultivated/farmed?

“You youngsters,” he spat through his missing teeth, “don’t remember what it was like. A death every day, your own wife wasting away right in front of you, babies going with her when she ran out of milk. You don’t understand the alternatives. You think we grew these things because we had a choice?!”

Credit to my mother on the quiz, which is about The Day of the Triffids, a book which I have spent at least fifteen years seriously thinking about reading “someday soon.”

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