Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike – the net security version

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike – the net security version


So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: virus free.


For some reason this week I have no promos from The Free Range Oyster.  So you slackers might want to write, publish, run sales, and send your promo to: Free Range Oyster.

48 thoughts on “Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike – the net security version

    1. Yeah, I was also going to chime in on yes. I checked my list of prompts I haven’t used yet.

        1. That’s funny, because I just checked the email I sent you, and it said, “nerve.”

          Virus-free is autogenerated.

              1. It’s not just hotmail; I’ve experienced the same thing from verizon, and also the corporate e-mail server of my employer.

                I have my account set to delete e-mails from the server when I delete them from my inbox, but I wonder what happens when the files are recovered from a backup that was made before the e-mails were removed? Would it mark them to be sent again?

  1. “What do you want to do this weekend?”

    “We’ve flown all over the planet. All the VR’s we have we’ve played to death. Isn’t there anything new to do?”

    “I heard about some kind of living history thing downtown. Some old custom called ‘getting sick’.”

    “Oh well. It’s different anyway.”

    Donning their EMbelts, they set off for downtown, where they see the sign: “VIRUS! FREE!”

  2. “You seem rather irritable today? What’s the issue?”
    He peered at his co-worker through bleary eyes, “My toddler has mastered the word ‘No!’ Needless to say he’s worn me down to my last nerve and has been jumping all over it.”
    “Here, have some more coffee. It may help some.”

  3. He was surrounded. How they had found him? Not that it mattered now. He activated the serum. It started dissolving the bonds of his ribose, scattering his genetic material. His RNA twisted itself into a mocking smile.

    “You’ll never take me alive, white blood cells. This virus dies free!”

  4. Jonnet looked over. For a moment, a woman with brass-blond hair, cut short and permed, looked back at her in startlement, as if wonder what sort of nerve she had to be here. But she said nothing.
    “So,” said a woman of nut-brown hair, coming up behind her, “you escaped the mob?”

  5. Outside, the light was flat and grayish. Inside the Golden Hind, it was indeed golden, like massed candles. Magnus showed her, ceremoniously, to a table. People gave them wary glances. Liliya supposed that word of their accomplishment had spread, and they did not have the nerve to speak with them.

  6. He wondered if they would have the nerve to do it. They did not have supplies. Only a fool would drink out of the standing water here — or a man dying of thirst, which was not beyond possibility.
    Ahead of them, glowing amber, a zeppelin started to rise over a hillside.

  7. Master corporal Hand stood at the entrance to the former heritage park. Arms held out to either side, hands empty of any weapons. Private Khan, stood beside him imitating his posture. The large bulky man trudged through the snow, covering them with his well made crossbow. He stopped about 20 feet away from them eyeing their patch worked outfits as the cold winter wind blew. The long braided blond hair that hung out of his thick wool cap, blew in the wind, his outdated clothes, and large beard gave the impression of a viking. The small hand axe belted onto his waist didn’t help matters. He finished examining the two soldiers before snorting.
    “You folks have a lot of nerve showing up now after all this time. Piss off, we don’t need any more mouths to feed.”

  8. So, the e-mail server took a perfectly good prompt and switched it out for one that had already been done. Huh. I wonder what in the name of Hopper might have possessed the darned thing. I guess it is *not* entirely virus-free after all. The nerve of some software!

  9. “You’ve got some nerve. ‘Virus Free or your money back.’ Now my computer won’t boot.”

    “That is correct, sir. We reformatted the hard drive. There are now no viruses on your computer.”

    “I don’t have Windows, either.”

    “Correct, sir. Reformatting removes allcomputer viruses.”

    (Guess who’s been applying the latest Windows 10 update. All. #$%^(* weekend. Long.)

    1. A while back I brought up an slightly older machine on Windows 10 to replace a much larger older one that had died. The newer little PC actually installed and ran fine, even though it was scraping right along the bottom of all the minimum system requirements. It’s a bit slow, but it is mostly running various Windows-only automated tools (which is why it’s not running Linux), and I’ve actually found Win10 more robust left to it’s own devices than prior versions.

      So when Msoft announced the new super-wizz-bang Creators Edition WIn10 update, I thought “why not?” And downloaded their early-access public preview download gizmo.

      The nervey little app refused to load the preview release, since it saw my installed memory as 1.999 Gb, and their min requirement was 2Gb. Yep, no rounding allowed.

      So I let it run, and when super-wizz-bang-Creators-Ed finally came out via the regular update channel, the regular system updater loaded it just fine.

      And so far, between the built in antivirus and what I have installed, it’s virus free.

      (Hey, a non-fiction vignette!)

    2. Guess who’s been applying the latest Windows 10 update

      The sea serpent in the minion pool. Fluffy would have turned the computer to ashes, and the aardvark doesn’t do updates.

  10. Okies. Up the challenge. Include both prompts and still keep it to 50.

    He was fairly certain he was virus free. He also knew if the bioscanner showed even a single copy of the plague on his person, the sterilization protocols would turn him into plasma before he realized it.
    Screwing up his nerve, he stepped into the booth and pushed the button.

    1. Oh cool. A compliment from Shadowdancer (Thank you), and I had a request on my Facebook page for more.

      The scanning and sterilization booth flashed brightly, and the glowing red vapor slowly faded as is cooled.

      “Hey Frank! Booth 2113 just activated!”

      “Thanks Tim. I just saw the chart increment. You have a visual of it?”

      “Sending it to your station now,” Tim replied.

      Frank watched the record as Tim looked over his shoulder.

      “Well duh. See right there? Dummy forgot to clean off his shoes before getting in the booth. When will those fools remember that they can be clean as a whistle, but their shoes pick up all the crud out there?”

      “You want me to notify Management?”

      “No, this is the ninth one so far this week. They’ll know about it after Friday’s briefing.”

      With that, Frank and Tim turned back to their monitors watching the scenes shift from one site to the next. Both of them popped open the windows to their pinochle game and resumed where they left off.

  11. Al sat glumly in his vast mansion on the hill, gazing out at the snow while comfortable in the 74 degree salon. Only now, after all this time, had that Arkansas fool started to get the condemnation he deserved decades ago.

    The nerve of the press!

    If they had only forced Bill to resign in 1998, as President, Al would have beat W in the 2000 election handily, and history would have been very different!

  12. Her face was frozen in a rictus of pain. She really wanted to scream but didn’t want to scare the kids in nursery. It HURT! “I guess this means I really do need to get to the doctor’s to get that pinched nerve checked out,” she thought.

    (Based on a true story. Ow.)

  13. Step right up, folks! Don’t crowd yerselves. Have a free taste of Dr. Sam’s Nerve Tonic. It peps you up! It calms you down, if that’s what you need! This little bottle (300 ml) is only, I say ONLY $3. Three bucks! You owe it to yerselves to get some, and it’s certified, yes, CERTIFIED, virus-free.

  14. Vinnie heard the oddly accented ad playing over and over and over on every channel he tuned to, grinding down on his last verifiable nerve, “Ve can solve any problem! Ve can fix any thing! Ve’re only a cable avay! So if you vant our service, yust vire us, free!”

  15. Jessica stared at her plate.
    What a lot of nerve, she thought. This is not wild salmon – freshly caught and virus free. Nope – this fish was pulled from a crowded, contaminated pen.
    She remembered a river full of spawning salmon and hungry bears. Then she signaled the waiter.

  16. OK, I’m up for a double challenge. And just to make it more fun, I decided it to tie it in with the first appearance of “virus-free.”

    NASA had certified the new lander software virus-free. The computer geeks at both Marshall and Johnson were putting their careers on the line for this update. The IT department here in Shepardsport had even gone through the code minutely, just in case someone had sabotaged it on the way up.

    Yet Jon Gilman couldn’t shake the unease, the fluttery sensation in the pit of his stomach as he suited up and climbed aboard the lander. Experienced test pilots had to check out every lander, that was a given, but he really wished he hadn’t drawn the the very first post-cyber-attack flight. And he didn’t dare let anyone think he had weak nerves.

  17. 50. Then another 50:

    They found the doctor at the focus of the strange machine. The notes showed he figured he’d be virus-free.

    “NERVE? Negative Energy Reverse Virus Enhancement? What’s that mean?” asked Clarence.

    “I assume that means,” replied Leona, “the viruses were to be ‘reverse enhanced’ – a weird twisting of language for the acronym, probably – by having their energy removed. And the good doctor was loaded with viruses. The result is what we see. It’s sort of fitting, in a morbid way.”

    “Fitting? He’s turned himself into a statue!”

    “Yes, Dr. Stone lived – or rather, died – to his name.”

    1. Ouch. Considering how much of our genome is derived from co-opted virus (and bacterial) contaminations, that would be serious.

  18. Well view halloo – who’s little tale are you?

    You’re Making Social Engineers Cry
    By Sarah Hoyt
    When I was looking for this report, which I vaguely remembered reading about while I was deep in the throes of finishing a novel, a friend of mine referred to it as “World to End Tomorrow: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit.”

    He is not wrong.

    This report and its many variations like this and this obtruded itself on my notice because all the left side of my field was posting it on social media and losing their minds.


  19. Most women who joined the Retriever units tended to go the sidecar cycle route: electric motors made the bikes fast, quiet, and nimble, and since they specialized in rescuing children and teens they didn’t need much in the way of cargo space or brawn. Casey understood the logic but had never shared it — she liked heavy motors too much, and she’d never had the patience to do it one at a time. With a grin, she upshifted the Winnebago into second gear and drove it straight at the piled barricade.

    The crudely-armoured RV burst through the heap of junked cars and wooden crates like a sledgehammer through drywall, slewed round, almost tipped over, then juddered to a stop. Casey hit the door release button. “Go, go, go!” she bawled, and her crew leaped out and levelled their weapons at the filthy, yawling hordes charging them.

    It wasn’t much of a spectacle: the neutralizers’ EM pulses didn’t show in the visual spectrum, and nothing physical happened to the targets. But the first few rows of the attackers dropped down in mid-step as if shot anyway. The second wave ignored them, trampling their fallen fellows, only to drop in turn; so did the third. Only one managed to make it between waves to leap onto a gunner, and before she could kill her prey two others neutralized her with point-blank shots. It was over in less than a minute. The carpet of bodies stretched away, filling the street, twitching and groaning.

    Her lieutenant touched his earpiece. “This nest was way bigger than we thought, Cap. We can’t take them all back even if we had time.”

    Casey grimaced. This was the part she hated: the triage. “Okay, Bob, skip face rec–I’ll answer for that back at base. Kids first, then women, whoever looks healthiest.” She unbelted herself and went back into the RV’s main compartment, swinging down the rescue bunks from the walls. “Start loading ’em up. We can perform neurodecontamination en route.”

    “Ah, the nerve of these people, putting us through this.”

    Casey groaned, as did most of the other crew. Bob made that joke every run and never tired of it. “Just remember not to jostle the connector nodes.” She checked the Faraday webbing, then powered it on. “Isolation up — and working,” she confirmed as Bob brought in the first body: the ragged, black-nailed girl who’d almost killed him. The small silver button under her ear began flashing red as it came into the Faraday web’s damping field. Casey smiled grimly. The Unity mindvirus would never know what hit it; by the time the girl woke up, she’d be free in a way she’d probably forgotten had ever existed.

    A new, ultra-connected world, she thought, remembering commercials from twenty years ago, and wanted to spit.

      1. At present, no, sadly; I thought of the situation more or less off the top of my head and don’t have any character arcs to go with it yet.

  20. Nigel Slim-Howland endured Agnes’ frenzied piano playing with stoic patience, while his butler Jenkins simply slipped into sleep mode. However, Gwendolyn descended into a state of nervous vexation, teeth chattering, eyes shifting back and forth. “Peculiar,” he thought. “I must ring IS and request a full system scan on her.”

  21. “But you just certified that my machine was virus free a few weeks ago!” he wailed, “And now you have the nerve to tell me I have a virus! If you missed it the first time I shouldn’t have to pay again!”

    “I didn’t miss anything a few weeks ago” I growled as I scrolled through his browser history. “You’ve been doing the Internet equivalent of staggering drunkenly through a bad neighborhood with twenty dollar bills hanging out of your pockets!”

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