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Alfred waited in the antechamber, pacing nervously. The door opened, and two men walked through. “I’m afraid we have bad news,” the first one said. He was tall, lean and with short-cropped hair. “The results are conclusive. Your daughter Veronica’s illness is contagious. She will have to be quarantined.” Alfred jerked bolt upright. “Look, there must have been some misunderstanding. That look on her face…maybe it was a muscle twitch?” The men looked at each other, then back to Alfred. The second man spoke. “I’m afraid not. It was a deliberate and willful act known as a ‘smile.’ It is a definitive indicator of an acute mental illness, known as ‘happiness.’ We have a responsibility to the public, and we cannot allow this disease to spread. She will not be allowed to leave the facility.” Alfred tried to keep the horror from spreading to his face. “Is it possible her condition might be…cured?” The men frowned. One shook his head while the other spoke: “Once a child has crossed the line into willful rebellion against the Republic, the law offers no return path. She will be assigned to a processing facility.” Alfred nodded, and a tear began to well up on the side of his face.

NOTE: The brief narrative above was brought to you by TZ Books and The Bite-Size Fiction Project, created by Dave Baldwin and Sheila Lee Brown (this particular one is a Dave-story). The results of this project are bite-size story morsels for short attention spans. These tidbits are sometimes fun, sometimes weird…but always short!


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