The following is a short tale spawned by a random phrase generator care of Chuck Wendig’s weekly Flash Fiction Challenge.
Beneath the shadow of powerful windmill blades, a tiny flying insect flitted from leaf to leaf searching for dollops of juicy fungus. The she-bug ate only the one kind of fungus, like her mother had before her, and her great-grandmother, and many oodles of grandmothers before that. Bug lore passed down through the generations told of a time when the fungus latched onto their hard shells and ate away at the rock hard exterior. But not lately. This little bug’s shell, like that of so many of her hundred thousand contemporary cousins, could not be compromised. A constant overbearing vibration in the air had killed off any soft-shelled offspring. Those born with rock-like protection looked forward to a great future. After a hundred or more successive generations, nothing, absolutely nothing, could make the slightest dent in the outer layer of the windmill’s native tiny flying insects.
Not even a passing thrashing human that tasted sweeter than fungus.
This human, a roving wind energy researcher named Dr. Clyde Zimmer, lashed out after the shock of a bite from a near-microscopic spot of black on his sleeve. He hit the offending bug at such an angle as to knock her sideways through a crack in the smooth vibrating base of the windmill and into the path of a heavy cog. The bug landed upright, shaking herself off to get her bearing in the dark. She paused before flight, long enough for her foot to catch under the turning cold steel wheel. The unflinching cog squeezed her soft parts out through every possible cavity and left nothing but a tiny lump of hard shell which shifted the steady turn of the wheel on a similarly microscopic level.
Doctor Zimmer nursed his wound back at the lab, and then carried on with his research. All would have been well except for one disastrous hiccup.
Doctor Zimmer would arrive at work the second Monday of every month to discover all of his hard work of the previous two weeks erased and overwritten in a mindless scrawl mysteriously akin to his own handwriting. He proposed to his colleagues that they install security cameras but the resulting footage never demonstrated anything beyond what they already knew – that the mindless scrawl of damaging notes appeared to have been written by they themselves on the spur of the same moment.
The cyclic repetition of spurtly brain farts carried far beyond the walls of the regional sustainable wind energy foundation. Car accidents, failed exams, embarrassing moments, bizarre incidents, and sudden shattered dreams all skyrocketed in the same repeating pattern that coincided at the same moment.
The same wave of idiocy struck every other week with such force that much of the work leading up to the moment simply unravelled by the time the moment passed. Progress in general came to a standstill, and Dr. Zimmer began to shift his priorities from sustainable wind power to solving the riddle of this collective mental hiccup. He developed a suspicion that the he’d find the culprit at his own research foundation due to two factors: one, that the geographical area of incidents centred on the foundation’s pet project – the powerful 300 foot windmill generator; And two, that because the human brain operated via electrical impulses, the chance of the geographical coincidence pointing to a giant machine that created energy via electrical impulses was not actually coincidental. He concluded therefore that his life’s work was in fact the cause of the fortnightly undercurrents of electromagnetic stupidity. Dr. Zimmer came to this conclusion at the end of every two-week cycle, and after suffering a dumbification relapse would start his reasoning anew.
Doctor Zimmer left one critical aspect out of his research. He refused to visit the site of the windmill generator. He had avoided the station since mid-summer when he had experienced the misfortune of suffering some very bad bug bites. The bugs hadn’t been an issue, but this year the little flying specks had been exceptionally fierce. On his last visit, Dr. Zimmer had taken a swatter with him, smashing away at the hard flyers until the volume of them overpowered his determination and he ran away to his air-conditioned car.
And thus the eternal cycle began.