What are the three most random songs you have on one playlist? I lost a bet recently, and the winner got to choose a flash fiction prompt. I am supposedly too German, and my playlists are too organized. I still hold fast to the belief that I have a very random music taste, and I don’t mind losing this bet. There’s been worse. Here is the prompt and what became of it –
“Something very strange is happening in this office.”
I hardly had time to hide what I was reading before Mom appeared around the corner. Pretending to be buried in homework, I bent over my weaponry book and started copying pointless terms.
“Oskar, I have a meeting in a few minutes,” she said, “so why don’t you run on back to your barracks.”
I didn’t look up, only nodded; but when Mom walked to the bookshelf, I kept her in the corner of my eye while making sure the booklet under my textbook was well hidden. Mom took what she needed from the shelf and went back to the front office. I heard her arrange the chairs at her desk.
“I’m getting myself a drink,” she said. “Have a good week, dear.”
“Yep.” I flipped my book shut and started gathering my notebooks and lose papers. When I heard the door close, I leaned back and took the pamphlet I had been reading. Population Report by Crown Rebekka and Crown Pétur. The birth rate was not high but still proceeded the deaths by far. We huldufólk wouldn’t die unless killed. Otherwise the report was full of statistics and data on demographics, housing, and employment. The prognoses were sobering.
Being a son of two Crown politicians, I was privileged with connections that got me into the much-desired military training. My career was secured. A less promising future awaited millions.
The office door opened, and I froze as voices trailed in.
“…but it’s unrealistic – no matter how well-meaning.”
“I’m afraid you’re right, but she won’t stop fighting.”
I was hidden around the corner, in the miniature library. They took their seats by Mom’s desk.
The first one said, “I hope she doesn’t, but it is strange to be your own husband’s opposition.”
“Pétur and Iris seemed to have agreed once in their life,” said the other with a hint of ridicule, “and I’m sure they regret even that.”
“Shot his own foot by his population control rules.”
I swallowed. I’d always suspected Mom and Dad married some fifteen years ago because of me. Only married couples were allowed to have children.
“He’s stuck with her now.”
“I don’t think he’s as worried about being stuck with her as he is about her ruining his propaganda.”
I sat still when the door opened, bringing Mom back. She didn’t check if I was gone, and the meeting commenced. I listened.
Two weeks later, all three were dead.