Another Useless Sacrifice, Perkins? #writephoto

This week’s #writephoto prompt is

Lou Tenant and May Jerr admired their handy work. Normally these doyens of the paperclip counting brigades would have eschewed hard work and anything that might generate a callous but in times of conflict heroes emerge.

‘We need heroes,’ they said, pointing at Lou and May.

‘Us?’ Replied Lou and May with no little incredulity. ‘We count paper clips.’

‘Exactly. And now you can show your mettle.’ They sounded confident.

‘They’re plastic coated. For Health & safety reasons.’

‘Funny you should mentioned that. Meet Saf T’blanket and Paddy Lock. They’re going to help.’ They waved a wand.


‘We need a fort.’ Their faces became serious.

‘Is that where we show our metal? I quite fancy aluminium.’

‘We were thinking about stones. We have a headland and lots of rock. And a plan. And an easy ‘how to’ guide.’ They looked even more confident.

‘Are you sure it’s easy?’

‘We’ve two experts from a DIY help desk. Tam Noy and Justine Time. They’ll be joining you.’ Cue them clapping. ‘You’ve a week. Make it good.’ They left.

The new recruits weren’t sure exactly what to do so they decided on a break. Tam, being the youngest with reliable knees did the coffee run.

Paddy, being the man, took charge. Everyone ignored him.

‘Haven’t you started yet?’ They were back.

‘We’re thinking.’

‘Does that help?’

‘Not usually.’

‘Here’s an incentive. Finish the fort and you get to be heroes.’ They left.

‘Who are they?’

No one knew. No one could remember who’d ordered the caramel flat white. Rather than argue they built a fort, marvelling that Ikea had one in their range of garden sheds and summerhouses. It was called Fucsic.

‘What now?’

‘We man it.’

Paddy didn’t look happy. ‘Can’t we person it?’

They’d all attended EDI training and to make sure they were up to speed, they returned with two EDI trainees: Di Scrimination and Di Sability who changed everyone’s pronouns and the wallpaper in the gun ports to something mindful.

Everyone waited. Eventually a note appeared. ‘Attack imminent. You’re heroes. PS all people are indispensable but some are more dispensable than others.’

‘Do you think they meant ‘indispensable’?’ Their number had been swelled by management consultants, advertising executives, a whole legion of middle managers who understood the power of language when applied to rotas and lists.

There was no time to answer. An enormous flotilla of warplanes and gun ships had slipped in unnoticed. An enormous robot-like being stood at the head, bellowing, ‘Surrender or die.’

‘What’s he saying?’ No one could understand as he spoke a little understood computer language that wasn’t designed to be orally articulated.

An IT consultant launched Google Translate. It was easily shot down.

Someone tapped the ‘contact us’ button on the Ministry of Defence website. A chat bot appeared, rubbing its eyes. ‘Yes? What?’

The IT consultant took charge. ‘We’re being attached by enormous robots.’


‘What do we do?’ He tried to keep the panic out of his typing by limiting his use of emojis to the essential.

‘What do you want to do?’

‘What’s it saying?’ The others crowded close.

‘It’s on the screen.’ The IT consultant was easily irritated; it was part of his basic training.

‘It says it’s a private conversation. We can’t read that.’

‘It’s asking what we want to do.’

‘Runaway?’ The voice came from the back where the Gym receptionists congregated.

The others had a break to discuss it. They decided that was a last resort. When the IT consultant went back to the chatbot the conversation had closed for inactivity.

They turned to the robot. ‘Well?’ He intoned menacingly.

‘We don’t know except we’re meant to be heroes.’

The robot brightened. ‘Oh! Good.’ Unfeasibly large and powerful ordnance was loosed on the fort which was rendered moot in seconds. Even the atoms felt rather bruised and settled quickly in non threatening dunes, hoping to be allowed to heal.

The Robot reported back to his supreme commander.

‘How’d it go?’

‘Another useless sacrifice.’

‘I read somewhere the fort was peopled with a whole range of the unloved, unwanted and underwhelming.’

‘Really? So it wasn’t pointless?’

‘Not at all.’

The robot considered the space where previously there had been a landscape. ‘Good to know they were heroes after all.’

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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12 Responses to Another Useless Sacrifice, Perkins? #writephoto

  1. noelleg44 says:

    Hillary-ous as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JT Twissel says:

    To a hero or not to be a hero – there’s the rub.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. trifflepudling says:

    “Pop over to Bremen, take a shufti …”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. willowdot21 says:

    And the new wallpaper in the gun port was all for nothing… Not so much mindful as mindless.🤐

    Liked by 1 person

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