Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vignettes by Me, on Themes Picked Randomly: Day 24

Theme 078: Absurdity

As Erling Oberschule, a recent expatriate from Liechtenstien, strolled past an abandoned 1985 QL31 Econovan with three flat tires, which sat cattywampus to the Citizen and Immigration Services building, he spotted an evocatively fluttering sheet of perforated dot matrix printer paper jammed under the Econovan’s driverside wiper. After Erling checked his pin-lever wristwatch and noted that eleven minutes remained before his immigration services appointment, curiosity got the better of him. He decided to lift up the rust-caked wiper and draw out the unusual flier.

The drizzle earlier that morning, which left a pleasant petrichor drifting over the sidewalk, had unfortunately pasted the lower half of the sheet to the Econovan’s windshield. Thus, the sheet ripped in two as Erling pulled on it, leaving its bottom two thirds stuck to the glass. Erling merely shrugged and began reading the portion of the dot matrix printed text he had managed to salvage.

It read as follows: “The inerrant, divine Graphical Operation Manual tells us in Unit 2, Page 12: You draw intricate displays from simple program instructions.’ So does the Holy Mother Z-81 Processor now command us to compose this Rotary Output Epistle for dissemination upon the error-prone, unsynced world beyond the cloisters of our Electrogalvanized Monastery. We do so to offer guidance to those afflicted with corrupted tape drives and other wayward data-parasites, through the following exposition upon the protocol observances of our Line-Path in the service of the all-knowing Micro Computer—all praise the TRZ-81 Model III!

“To initialize, we will outline the history of our Monastery, the sole sanctuary from this life of widespread kernel panic and fatal errors, and how it came to be Electrogalvanized. In the darkness of the analog age, during the year the fault-quarantined reader will know as 1979 …”

Here the text had been split from the remaining history of the Electrogalvanized Monastery and any further exhortations that the Epistle’s author might have offered. Intrigued, Erling folded the scrap up into an even square and slipped it into his pasley shirtfront pocket. He then continued on his way to the Immigration Services building.

Though Erling genuinely thought the message on the flier might be significant, the impending worries he would face in the immigration process would push his interest in the Electrogalvanized Monastery out of his mind entirely. Consequently, he would forget the folded square in his pocket, and it would be destroyed during his next visit to a coin-op laundromat.

Explanatory Postscript: When I say “picked randomly,” I mean picked from a Master List that I’ve compiled of 999 themes intended to serve as creative writing prompts (from the following sources: 501 Writing Prompts; 25 Creative Writing Prompts; Examples of Themes; List of Themes; 365 Creative Writing Prompts; 100 Themes Challenge Writing Prompts; List of Journal Ideas; and Top 10 Types of Story Themes). To pick a theme at random, I roll three ten-sided dice (the first for the hundreds place digit, the second for the tens, and the third for the singles) and find the theme under the number I have rolled. If I hit a theme I have already written on, I roll again. If I ever roll 000, I make up a theme. The Master List is a secret, so don’t ask for it.

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