Beth Burnett


I joined a contest at the end of last month. We were given a genre, a prompt, and a word and we had to write a 250-word (or less) flash fiction in 24 hours.

My genre was Sci-Fi, my action was assembling furniture, and my word was “invent.” We were told we could use a variation of the word as long as it contained the whole word in it’s entirety

This is the story I came up with. I’ll find out later in the week if I get to advance to the new round. Whether I do or not, I truly enjoyed the experience and I’m happy with the story that came out of the challenge.

Martin’s War

Martin swore as a screw fell between the arm of the chair and the wall. He groped for it with one hand. The piece of wood in his other hand threatened to disengage from the rest of the unit. It was usually easy. Slot A into slot B. Piece C to piece D.

A ship had landed earlier. He’d heard it while working on the previous chair. His fingers closed on the screw and he held it against his chest for a moment, eyes closed. There would be people in that ship. They might want chairs.

A woman approached him. “It’s time to go, son.”

“I just need to finish assembling…”

She touched his shoulder. “You’re needed.”

Martin looked up. “I need to finish putting this chair together. People need chairs.”

The woman’s face was kind; she was smiling. “You’ve been alone for a long time. If you come with me, I can get you help.”

“My father…”

“Your father,” she said, stressing the word father, “has been dead for eighty-three years.”

A memory, his father yelling at him. I didn’t create a robot to assemble furniture, Martin. I built you to win this war.

“I won the war,” he whispered.

The woman put her arm around his shoulders and helped him stand. “Now we need your help with our war.”

Martin looked out over the rows and rows of empty chairs. “I was invented to win.”




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