On On Off

28 Jan

100 words for Friday Fictioneers based on the photo prompt supplied by Ted Strutz and selected for this week’s round of stories by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.



(Copyright Ted Strutz)

The switch positions and the cord wound clockwise said the drop was compromised. The scorch mark told him to burn everything and run. The hole was new and sure to have a camera inside.


He walked by with measured steps, eyes on the ground. Another wage slave drone headed to a dead-end job. Mindless. Hopeless.

But they were wrong.

He would remove the RFID chip in his forearm and follow protocol for reintegration into the network. Different city. Change of identity. Same goal.

One man’s terrorist. Another man’s freedom fighter.

The victor writes the history books.

There is always hope.



Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 2.33.50 AM

47 Responses to “On On Off”

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) January 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    This one rings with the same tone as classic dystopies from Huxley to Matrix .. the winner always write the history.. chillingly true.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 11:00 pm #

      Dear Bjorn,

      Makes you wonder what has really happened out there in the world for the past 6,000 years, eh?

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



  2. Helena Hann-Basquiat January 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    Viva la revolucion. That is all.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

      Dear Helena,

      Do you remember that guy who attacked Dan Rather long ago? “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” I love you and your comment.



  3. Suzanne Joshi January 28, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    Do we really know who our neighbors are? There’s a good chance we may not really.know as much as we think we do. Good detailed story that stands alone, but It would make a great hook for a thriller or mystery, Doug. 🙂 — Suzanne

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

      Dear Suzanne,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I was just trying to write a story that didn’t suck. Don’t want to alter the weather patterns anywhere in the world. (I operate under the rule that you never know who you’re taking to out there in the world. Could be a millionaire homeless person or a sociopath or just a good egg. You never know.)



  4. elmowrites January 28, 2015 at 3:13 pm #

    Full of mystery and suspense, Doug; this reads like the start of a brilliant spy novel. You could totally write one (a brilliant one, I mean) – I can’t wait to read it.
    Small thing – the switch of perspective after para 1 threw me a little. Maybe an extra line break or something would help? Or a switch of order, so the second paragraph comes first?? Just a thought; it’s a small thing compared to the fantastic writing of the whole. Please go on and write the rest, please?

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

      Dear Jennifer,

      You’re right and the change has been made. Thanks for your cogent con/crit. I appreciate it, as always.



      • elmowrites January 28, 2015 at 10:48 pm #

        You’re welcome. Definitely the sort of thing it’s easier to see from the outside, as it were – I’m certain you knew exactly what you were talking about the whole time!


  5. storydivamg January 28, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Dear Doug,
    Wow! You jam packed this with action–all without writing any actual action. The thoughts come alive. Nice work.
    Marie Gail

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

      Dear Marie,

      He’s walking….

      Teasing. Thanks for the kind comments and compliments. I appreciate it.



  6. Honie Briggs January 28, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

    Ray Bradbury, eat your heart out. This could be one of those kind of stories. Maybe it will linger in your thoughts and grow into a full-blown cyberciety collapse.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:52 pm #

      Dear Honie,

      You’ve got me choppin’ in tall cotton. Thanks for reading and commenting.


  7. Sandra January 28, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    Terrific suspense. This is really crying out for continuation. So very well done.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

      Dear Sandra,

      Thanks for the encouragement and for reading and for being there.



  8. BrainRants January 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    I like this sci fi / speculative take… assuming that’s what you aimed for. I’m left wondering about the backstory.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

      Dear BrainRants,

      I find it interesting that you considered this semi-science fiction. All the elements are real and very much in force today. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  9. patrickprinsloo January 28, 2015 at 8:31 pm #

    George Orwell updated to 2084. Bravo.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

      Dear Patrick,

      Thanks for saying so.



  10. aliciajamtaas January 28, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    How on earth did you come up with such a suspenseful tail? I love how you pulled in all the elements of the otherwise drab photograph. Well done, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 10:43 pm #

      Dear Alicia,

      The photo had all the classic elements of an espionage drop box from the cold war era. Even the tone and lack of color contributed to the feel. When I saw the wire coiled just so I thought immediately of Otto Preminger’s famous work as director of Stalag 17 starring William Holden. A coiled light cord figures prominently in that film. Then I thought about today’s times and how competing ideologies around the world have us all at each other’s throats (If you believe the media, which I don’t) and I decided to make sure that there would not be a clue throughout the story about whom to root for. That the reader is totally in the dark and remains so throughout is the final ingredient to the story. It requires no words, so is a bonus, and gets added subliminally to the overall effect.

      A glimpse into my thoughts as I put this together. Fours major edits and then a slight change correctly suggested by Jennifer.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.



      • aliciajamtaas January 31, 2015 at 3:34 am #

        Now that you mention the whole picture does have a cold war feel. It’s been ages since I watched Stalag 17. Must order it from the library. You put much thought into your piece. One can almost hear the slight click of heels as he walks.

  11. waitingforaname January 28, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Yep, we’re going to need more of this story… Good job!

    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      Dear Lisa,

      It’s happening all around us every day.

      Thanks for the love.



  12. rochellewisoff January 28, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    You’ve given us a lot to think about. For me the lines “One man’s terrorist. Another man’s freedom fighter.The victor writes the history books” could be a haiku by themselves and tell the story. As always you show how it’s done.

    Interstellar Lumosity Yes!



    • dmmacilroy January 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

      Dear Rochelle,

      POV is everything. Global to Elliptical. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  13. lingeringvisions by Dawn January 29, 2015 at 12:09 am #

    That was fun! I’m ready to follow his adventures. (In a story, not on foot, just so we are clear).

  14. Nan Falkner January 29, 2015 at 4:56 am #

    Dear Doug, You have a wonderful story here and seems a lot longer than it is. Really, really great job and I hope you write more too. I agree with Honie! Nan 🙂

  15. David Stewart January 29, 2015 at 5:06 am #

    This is a classic, Doug, with the secret signs that look insignificant to all but the initiates. This has the feel of some epic fiction.

  16. The Writer's Village January 29, 2015 at 11:25 am #

    I’ll never look at electrical sockets in the same way again.
    Who knows what messages may be lurking there – especially for the underground, plugged in weathermen, new wave electrical revolutionaries, or hot wired history makers.


  17. draliman January 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    Great story full of suspense and intrigue. I wonder if he’s a “goodie” or a “baddie” though, as you say, the eventual victors will decide that.

  18. Claire Fuller January 29, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

    I love the tone of this, so cold, so practiced. This man is just going to carry on doing what he’s doing, and when he can’t any longer someone else will do it instead. And what he’s doing could be good or it could be bad. Brilliant undertones.

  19. plaridel January 29, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    this is quite a departure from stories i’ve read from you so far, but it was nicely done as usual.

  20. Amy Reese January 30, 2015 at 6:17 am #

    Great suspense, Doug, and so edgy. This suspense-thriller genre seems right up your alley. More please!

  21. Sarah Ann January 30, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    I want to the read the book of this. I love how you incorporated and used all elements of the photo.
    A long time ago I wrote a short story about The Chipped and The Primitives, those who chose to remain un-chipped. It’s sometimes scary to think how far technology is taking us, and how far we let it take over our lives.

  22. afairymind January 30, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

    I really like this. A dystopia that is so nearly present day reality. Fears of terrorism are so prolific in the world at the moment that it’s easy to forget that one man’s terrorist is indeed another man’s freedom fighter. Great story. 🙂

  23. adamjasonp January 31, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    Ooh, scary suspense.  So much going on that there begs continuation…

  24. erinleary January 31, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    I particularly enjoyed the last line – and it is so true. It is also very like the world we live in. Well done, Doug.

    • Margaret January 31, 2015 at 9:44 pm #

      Great take on the photo – very clever. And I really like how you maintain moral neutrality. It’s so true – terrorist or freedom fighter? It’s all in the point of view. A great read.

  25. Ellespeth January 31, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

    A drone spy! Coming soon to a city near you – if not already there. Look what just crashed near the White House.


  26. Taygibay February 1, 2015 at 12:50 am #


  27. Perry Block (@PerryBlock) February 1, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Who is this guy? What is he trying to do? What does he look like? Very cool story!

  28. rgayer55 February 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    They’re not very clever with the camera. Might as well write, “Look here and smile.” Sometimes Big Brother can be such a big doofus. RFID tags can be such as pain, but last time I heard their accuracy rate wasn’t that good.
    Last week, we watched “Sons of Liberty.” Talk about terrorist, that Sam Adams was a Bin Laden to the British. Great tale, Doug.

  29. Snow's Fissures and Fractures February 2, 2015 at 5:45 am #

    You captured the essence of human conflict throughout our history. The truth hurts, especially if you are on a losing side.

  30. Dee February 3, 2015 at 6:05 am #

    Dear Doug

    Full of tension and suspense, as others have said, it would be good to find out more. Your stories are always so well written and thought provoking, I look forward to them each week.

    Take care


  31. Tracey@WhatsforDinnerDoc.com February 23, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Nicely done. I wrote the rest of the story in my head just now.

    • dmmacilroy February 23, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

      Dear Tracey,

      This one is short but sweet and very open ended. I gave no clues as to who was evil and who was not. Just a representation of our chaotic times. Thanks for reading. (I’d be interested to read the conclusion you wrote 🙂



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