Where Have All the Robots Gone?

What’s in a word? Letters. Vowels, consonants, grammar occasionally.

Words are by far the greatest invention of humanity. Words are singularly responsible for civilization – and all the great and good, and evil and bad that that implies. I’m not a logophile as such, but I do love words. It’s part of the reason I aspire to be a writer, working with words is fun, and usually quite safe. Though there are some very dangerous words out there.

Words do have power though, in theory they shouldn’t. When spoken their just a random collection of noises we’ve learned to pattern together, likewise when they’re written it’s just scratchings in a small place. But these patterns are ingrained on our childish brains, and reinforced through strict regimes of practice, and necessity. And because our brains aren’t perfect, those patterns get loaded with a load of useless data as well – whether it’s random trivia, a memory, or an emotion. We love to charge words with emotions, and the emotions give the words far greater intent.

So, when clearing out some of my Twitter favourites from the past three years, (on my personal account, rather than my newer and not yet swamped in favourites writer twitter account), I came across this little gem.

While you’re at it, check out the Google Ngram of “literally” use over the years: http://j.mp/gkxMHR

Posted back in June 2011.

The word literally doesn’t do a great deal for me, but as soon as you see that tool – you can’t help but start firing words at it. And so I did, and it’s amazing the stories you can see in the graphs it produces. I set the Ngram Viewer to English, rather than English fiction. I wanted to see the effect on the whole of the English language dataset, rather than on fiction. With fictional elements, and concepts, obviously the effect will be greater in the smaller fictional dataset. Have a play, and see what I mean.

So, to start with I used the theme from today’s flash fic, zombies:

Zombies on Google’s Ngram Viewer

From Word Usage Post

Which as you can see is a fairly recent trend to use it, though I’m intrigued to find the uses of it in the 20’s and 30’s. The word undead shows a similar pattern. I’ve circled the bit I find particularly interesting, zombies are big business at the moment, with a TV series of the walking dead, and a few films due. There’s a zombie survival fitness training app doing the rounds, and numerous live role-playing zombie games going on. Yet while it’s still rising, it looks to be staling, the speed of the rise is slowing considerably.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 11: Letter from a Zombie, Or How I Came To Stop Eating Brains

This is the eighth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

Letter from a Zombie, Or How I Came To Stop Eating Brains, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 12th December 2012

Word count: 932

Theme: zombie apocalypse, apocalypse, redemption, monster, zombie, saviour

The story:

Across the world the dead rose, and humanity trembled.

The dead were a plague upon the cities, upon the people. The dead needed something the living had, life.How did the dead get it? The brain. The dead needed brains.All the flesh was tasty, but the brain, that kept the undead alive.

The undead had no minds of their own, they were undead after all. The brain brings thoughts, feelings, even memories are occasionally rekindled. Yes, if you’re wondering, it even brings remorse. I know this all too well, I was one of them, I guess I still am.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 4: Zombies versus Mummies

This is the fourth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

Zombies Versus Mummies by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 5th December 2012

Word count: 999

Warning: mild danger, referenced gore

The story:

Seti strolled back and forwards before the museum doors, swearing in Ancient Egyptian.

“That won’t help,” Ramesses said joining his father by the doors.

“I no longer care,” Seti said. “My neck hurts, my heart hurts, and these bleached people don’t agree with me at all.”

“Well it was either them or we wander round blind, and dumb. Hark we would have been easy prey for these undead creatures that plague this city.”

“Better to die than let our royal selves be tainted,” Seti said suddenly standing tall.

“We cannot remain here forever, the dead walk the Earth this night, and you and I are reborn into this strange world. We must journey and find out what we can, and find a way to restore our lives to ourselves,” Ramesses said.

“Ah, my son the man,” Seti said wistfully.

“Old man,” Ramesses said, “I lived a good long time. I underwent the festival of Sed.”

“God king?” Seti asked, “Truly the youth surpasses his father. Okay then, God King, where do we go?”

“I know not, but we are Egyptians! And we are undead also, but not so weak and mindless as these pathetic minions. In rebirth we are granted great strength and powers, how else could we both have escaped those strange glass sarcophagi we were placed in?”

“I felt it,” Seti said solemnly, “I felt it.”

“Let us gather weapons, and let us be upon this world, and remind them what true Pharaohs could do,” Ramesses said grabbing a spear and a shield from a display stand.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 2: Damnation in the Living World

This is the second in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

Damnation in the Living World, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 3rd December 2012

Word count: 1,000

Theme: fantasy, sex, devil’s pact

Warning: Some relatively mild sexual content, and gore beyond the read more

The story:

In an inn, a huddled figure wrapped in a hood, drinking from a mug.

A well dressed noble entered the inn and looked around, and walked over to the huddled figure.

“You’ve caused me quite a bit of trouble,” the noble said, his voice was that of a snake’s hiss. “Might be, you can make up for your transgression, Raynard.”

The figure grunted, and suddenly found his mind flying backwards through his recent history, quite involuntarily.

Raynard Climes looked around blinking. He had been lying on the battle field amid a pile of soldiers, all dead or dying, his guts trying to escape from the gash across his belly, trying to hold them in, struggling to stay alive. Now he found himself stood up, on what he did not know, because it was just glowing red, all around. He was still holding his stomach though, he could see the blood still seeping.

“Ah, you poor dear,” a woman’s voice said.

Raynard turned behind him, looking for the voice, as he turned the red gave way to something more solid, a bedroom, the likes of which he had never seen before, a room fit for a noble. In the centre was an ornate four- poster bed, and equally ornate furniture.

Then his eyes focused on a lithe woman dressed in a gossamer gown that seemingly covered her modesty, yet offered tantalising views of the figure beneath.

“Won’t you sit?” she asked, nodding at a chair.

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