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Hunter or Helper?

Here's what Flash Fiction Friday prompted us for this week.

F3 - Cycle 83 - Turn, turn, turn

It’s been a while since I’ve pulled this prompt out of the old prompting hat, but it’s a favorite of mine and a writing game that usually comes up with some interesting twists. I assume most of you are readers, probably already through your second or third book of the Summer, right?

 This week I want you to grab the book you’re currently reading, be it fiction or non-fiction, and turn to page 83, scan down through that page and pick the 8th sentence. Use that sentence as the first line of your story and let the creative juices flow for the next 1500 words, or a close approximation. Where you take the story, is entirely up to you. It doesn’t even have to be the same genre as the book you’re reading.

Please note what book you took the sentence from in your post.

 Prompt: RANDOM FIRST SENTENCE – Following the rules of the game listed above, find your first sentence.

Genre: Open  Word Count: Under 1500 words Deadline: Wednesday, June 14th by 9:00 AM EST

 My prompt was from Ready Player One - by Ernest Cline. Our Sci-Fi club is reading it.

Page 83, sentence 8 - "Each sector was divided up into many different zones that varied in size and shape." Story is only 738 words, but that's how it ended up. I wanted to explore choices, and etics - what we do even when no one is watching.


Hunter or Helper? 

Each sector was divided up into many different zones that varied in size and shape. Most were kill zones, only a few were safe, but Dan was confident he could make it across the sector alive. He'd always been in good shape, and active in sports, a star quarterback in college. More importantly, the previous two week's basic training had uncovered some surprisingly good skills with a variety of weapons. He did realize, though, that his odds in The Game, bad to start off, also depended on which side the gamers chose when play started. Some would declare as Hunters, trying to chase down The Runner and kill him for a share of the prize money. Some would choose to be Helpers, trying to try to block any Hunters, and also give The Runner access to better weapons and armour, more ammo, even shortcuts to a safe zone. They too could get a share, if he won, but only a small cut.

Joining this week's game had been an act of desperation for Dan. First he'd lost his job, and now his son was sick. The prize would be enough for medical treatments, and he hoped a comfortable retirement. He'd even be able to surprise his brother-in-law Bob with some cash, next time he pestered Dan for money for some hare-brained scheme. Dan hadn't told his family he'd decided be The Runner.

"I'll be gone a few weeks," he said. "It's a huge business deal, the opportunity of a lifetime."

Officially he would remain anonymous - win or lose - as did the other gamers. No one had to ever know what choices any of them had made.  There was a difference in consequences though. While the gamers could feel the pain of blows, knives, and bullets, death was an illusion for them. The worst consequences were for the Hunters, and even then their 'death' was only a coma for a few days. The Runner, on the other hand, could actually die, he was not just directing an automation via a console. He checked his equipment one more time, and approached the Gate. This first zone was a safe one, but only for 30 seconds. Then it would flip and the Hunters and Helpers would start after him. He gave a thumbs-up to the GamesMaster and stepped into the zone. He scanned the status overlay as he walked through. Nothing in sight yet, except a rat on the nearest video pedestal, chewing on one of the cables. Not his problem. Dan loaded his rifle and got ready to run.

Bob settled into the chair in front of his console, placed the VR helmet over his eyes, and slid his hands into the control gloves. This new reality system was the best he'd ever experienced, he'd feel every footstep, but also every blow, every shot. He'd borrowed the entry fee for a seat in The Game from his sister, after assuring her that he was good at this, that he'd be sure to win, and pay her back before her husband Dan found out. More importantly, he would have more than enough to start up his new project.

"It's a great deal, sis," he said. "Best I've ever come up with. Dan wouldn't even listen to me this time when I asked, but I'll show him."

Bob checked the odds board - definitely favoured choosing Hunter this time. The Runner scored high in fitness, agility, and marksmanship. He could still benefit from a team of Helpers, but would attract Hunters too. He'd be a tough nut to kill, but also would be a worthwhile challenge for people. Bob checked the game timer, any minute now. There it was, the buzzer, and The Runner stepped through. He was a big guy - face blurred by the system of course, but his stance looked confident as he stomped through the gate, all armoured up and ready to go.

When the rat chewed through the cable there was a spit of sparks, and a brief pause before the backup feed took over. For a split second the facial blur was off, and Dan's face gazed out of the screen.

 Bob sat up and stared at the screen. It was the same blurred image now but for a moment he could have sworn it was his brother-in-law. Dan had claimed to be going on a business trip, but maybe he'd lied, maybe he was just looking to get rich quick. Bob sat at his console, alone and anonymous, and moved his mouse towards the two status buttons - red for Hunter, green for Helper. He clicked on the button.





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alberta ross

liked that one - I have been told by some trads that there must be a conclusiion but I favour being left to decide myself like so and thats how I like to write them - so very enjoyable - I might have a go at that prompt:)


Thanks, glad you liked it. Prompt was fun, specific yet wide open. I prefer an open end too - sort of a Lady or the Tiger thing.

Beach Bum

Damn! Had a Gift of the Magi meets the Hunger Games feel. Well done! Tried to get a story going with this week's prompt but mine fell short for several reasons.

Joyce Juzwik

I've read this several times and I get a chill each time. I adore the way you left it up to the reader to decide. That's not an easy 'ending' to pull off either, but you've done it beautifully. There's just enough about the characters and their relationship for it to tip the scales either way. But, once the reader decides, then comes the questions. Yeah, but if he made THAT choice, it would cause..., or, on the other hand, he probably would have made THAT choice since that wouldn't cause..., and it goes on and on. From one minute to the next, the outcome changes, and that's what I love about this. You've begun a never-ending mind game with this, and I thank you. Brava!


Thanks Joyce - I wanted to show an ethical choice - what we pick when no one is watching. BTW - I just added that now, above in the preamble. My intent was to give the reader enough information to see there was no clear cut choice here, so had to do a few passes through this to tweak it. From the sound of it that worked - yay!

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