Out today in The Arcanist: my flash fiction story about the gamification of tragedy, “Thoughts and Prayers”.
I first wrote this in November 2015, after a mass shooting (I think), when I saw the outpouring of “support” on social media — especially from the government, who did absolutely nothing, and continues to do absolutely nothing… except send thoughts and prayers. At this point the phrase has become rote, and while I know there are people out there who are genuine, it’s really more of a “do it on social media so everyone knows how much you ‘care'” thing. I’m a cynic, yes, but there’s a reason for that.
The whole mess has only gotten worse since 2015, as the disasters somehow get worse and the platitudes somehow get emptier. And yet the first dozen publications I submitted this story to passed on it. One said “not speculative enough” (which, okay, the speculative element is slight), another called it “too message-y”, and another said I didn’t push the concept far enough. But I was telling the story the way I wanted to tell it, and The Arcanist was my lucky 13.
Here’s hoping you enjoy the story, and that if it comes true, you find a way not to participate. But if you’re forced to… well… my thoughts and prayers go out to you.
(And yes, I know there was an amazing episode of BoJack Horseman that covered this same topic. I highly recommend it.)