Wednesday 17 January 2018

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Week 38

This week's photo prompt is from a young American photographer, Alex Currie, who is just 20 years old. She has some incredible work. Go and have a look at her website. She was 16 when she took this photo, and you can read an article about it here.

I wrote half of this with one story in mind, but when I  came back to it the following day I couldn't pick it up and so changed it to another story. A nice bit of Sci-Fi for a change.

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Message in a Bottle

Christopher sat up, his heart pounding, forehead pricking with sweat. He could still see the chair surrounded by ocean as far as the eye could see, and him twisting and turning on it, somehow stuck to it as the tide came in.

What did it mean? Did it mean anything? He wasn’t sure. Sometimes his dreams happened in real life, things he dreamt – no matter how random, would suddenly fall into place and unfold before his eyes.

Water was a metaphor for emotions in dreams. Did he feel overwhelmed? Some days. It was tough at school. Yeah, he liked wearing bow ties, so what? It was better than the chumps who copied the latest YouTuber’s hair do.

Christopher had always known he didn’t fit in and he was good with that. He didn’t need to fit in. He had his own friends and they didn’t fit in either. They hadn’t when they were at school and they didn’t now as they pursued their cutting edge careers.

Christopher checked the time; he didn’t want to be late for Professor Hardingsworth. He got dressed, choosing a red bow tie. It was Saturday; he was going to the university, not high school.

Once he’d locked his bike outside the science building, Christopher rushed through empty corridors to the studio in the basement, the professor’s favourite place. It was meant for photography, but the professor had commandeered it. He was testing more complex things than how light fell on a chair. Although there was a chair. Christopher hesitated; it looked like the one in his dream.

“Morning Professor. What are you planning today?”

The professor’s head popped up from a row of laptops he had on his desk. “Christopher. Excellent. Be a good lad and sit on that chair for me, will you?”

Christopher smiled. There was never any chit-chat with the professor; he always got right down to business. He took a seat.

“What is this experiment for, Professor?”

“Co-existing realities, Christopher. Are there any?”

“What, here Professor?”

“Here, there, anywhere. Can we locate one? That’s the question for today.”

“And the chair?”

“Somewhere to put the test subject?”

“Test subject? You mean me?”

“Yes.” He chuckled. “Hope that’s alright.”

“Of course, sir. But how does me sitting here do anything?”

“Do? It’s less about doing, it’s more about sensing. Hang on.” The professor tapped vigorously on various keyboards.

Christopher heard a seagull cry. He assumed it was outside. Then it sounded like several were circulating the room. He was sure he could hear waves crashing too.

The professor glanced at him. “You hearing something?”

“Yes, I think so.”

The professor grabbed a bottle off his desk and thrust it into Christopher’s hands. Christopher looked at it. It had a piece of paper rolled up inside: Message in a bottle.

“Throw it, Christopher, as hard as you can.”

He felt the bottle in his hands: glass. It would shatter hard against the wall, but who was he to argue. He flung it out to his left and braced for impact, anticipating it smashing, but there was nothing. The bottle was gone.

He looked wide-eyed at the Professor who laughed his funny donkey laugh.

“Quick Christopher, let’s go.” The professor grabbed his coat and rushed out the door. Christopher followed. They jumped into the professor’s car, and drove out of the car park.

“Where are we off to, Professor?”

“Why the beach, of course.”

“For the bottle?”

“That’s right.”

“But how do you know where?”

The professor laughed. “When will you learn to trust me?”

Christopher smiled. He loved Professor Hardingsworth’s enthusiasm and passion. And he was right, the professor was rarely wrong in his calculations.

They pulled up at the deserted autumn beach. The professor hopped out of the car and strode down to the edge of the surf. He hesitated and then let out an ‘Ah!’ He walked to the right, wading into shallow water without a care for his shoes, and grabbed a bottle floating there.

He came out shaking water off the bottle and unscrewed the lid. He pulled out the paper and smiled ... then froze.

“What is it, Professor? Is it the right one?”

“Yes, yes it is, Christopher, but someone has answered it.”


He handed the note to Christopher who read the “Hello is anyone out there?” message in the professor’s handwriting, and then scanned the scrawled reply at the bottom: “Yes, we’re here. Please help us.”


  1. Decided to write something silly. A "disaster movie" type thing. Just being silly, I suppose.

    It Finally Happened

    1. I love it. Think it's brilliant. A whole other perspective. Thanks for joining in.