Welcome to the April 2020 edition of First Monday Free Fiction. To recap, inspired by Kristine Kathryn Rusch who posts a free short story every week on her blog, I’ll post a free story on every first Monday of the month. It will remain free to read on this blog for one month, then I’ll take it down and post another story.
Next weekend is Easter, so what could be more fitting than a story about an egg. Therefore, I have chosen The Four and a Half Minute Boiled Egg, the first story in my series Alfred and Bertha’s Marvellous Twenty-First Century Life as this month’s free story.
The Alfred and Bertha stories are not really science fiction. They are parodies, mundane short stories about a couple in a troubled marriage written in the over the top infodumpy and technical style of science fiction’s so-called “golden age” of the 1940s and 1950s, where every single bit of technology, no matter how mundane, is explained.
Fans of Alfred and Bertha – I know there are about two of you out there – will be pleased to learn that a new Alfred and Bertha story entitled Canis Familiaris of the Sofa (that’s “dog” to you mundanes) will be coming out very soon.
But for now, follow along as Alfred and Bertha von Bülow get into an argument about the correct time required to boil an egg in
The Four and a Half Minute Boiled Egg
A Not Really SF Short Story
Bertha awoke to the shrill beeping of her alarm clock. She opened her eyes to see the numbers six zero zero edged into the clock face, in truth a display of so-called liquid crystals, that is matter in a state which has properties between those of conventional liquids and solid crystals.
What was more, the alarm clock was so accurate that it would neither gain nor lose a single second in an estimated one hundred and thirty eight million years, for it was controlled via a radio signal received from an atomic clock which measured time using the microwave signals that the electrons in a caesium atom emitted while changing energy levels at near absolute zero temperatures.
Bertha hit the button labelled “Off” on the alarm clock and got out of bed. Beside her, Alfred groaned in his sleep. Being a man and Bertha’s husband, Alfred was entitled to an extra fifteen minutes of sleep, measured to an accuracy of plus minus one second in an estimated one hundred and thirty eight million years by the alarm clock on his own nightstand.
Bertha walked over to the window and pressed the switch that closed an electrical circuit, which in turn activated a small motor, which pulled up to electrically operated window blinds. Outside, the sun was shining and the neighbour drove past in a small red hybrid vehicle, which was powered alternately by an internal gasoline combustion engine and an electric motor supplied via an array of high energy efficiency lithium-ion batteries under the hood. The vehicle emitted a whizzing sound, which told Bertha that the neighbour was currently using the electric motor.
Bertha smiled. Wasn’t it wonderful to live in the twenty-first century?
This story was available on this blog for one month only, but you can still read it in The Four and Half Minute Boiled Egg. And if you click on the First Monday Free Fiction tag, you can read this month’s free story.