Author: Glenn Leung
Veritum was founded before Earth went dark and like other human colonies, formed its own ideas on how society should function. Absolute truth was central to Veritumian life. It only took a few philosophers to take in-person interactions out of polite society. There’s too much nuance arising from body language, facial expressions, and tone. To them, truthful communication should be as single-layered as possible, and the best way to achieve this is through text messages. Emotions can and should be expressed through the ancient art of Emojis.
Being an immigrant from Second Earth, I have lost count of the times I have deceived through text messaging. To me, this idea was nothing but conservative bull. That was until I understood the nature of the Veritumians. They simply have to tell the truth! Grown adults were left out of social events for reasons such as ‘ we don’t like you ‘. And these social events take place in chat rooms where online friends text about their day. In fact, everything’s done remotely and hardly anyone leaves home. No one wants to chance an encounter with a stranger who looks at them funny. Who knows what sort of misunderstanding could arise from that?
Call it what you want, but I felt a real need to do something about this whole ‘truth’ thing. I texted some people in a chat room I frequented and suggested we explore ‘The Art of Lying’. I’ll give Veritumians credit for being curious, especially if you attach the word ‘Art’ to something. They even agreed to meet in person, in my tiny shoebox apartment. After a few confused handshakes and jumps at hearing me speak for the first time, we all sat cross-legged in a circle, preparing to lie to each other.
“I’ll start,” I said to the circle. “I’m from the planet Hot-Diggity.”
Hot-Diggity was abandoned centuries ago. The other people in the room, having heard a lie for the first time, only gave me confused looks. I could see they were bewildered by the fact that my body betrayed nothing. They had expected rapid blinking and unnatural shifts in weight, but I sat there, stiff as a rock. I was afraid that I had convinced them of the dangers of in-person meetings until intrepid Andy piped up.
“I can do seventeen backflips in two seconds.”
No one was more shocked than he was. Disconcerted by his sudden hot flush, he nearly texted medical services before I assured him that this was normal.
“There’s a first time for everything. Relax!” I said.
This prompted a slight chuckle, then the whole room exploded into fits of laughter. That was when the party truly began. Tales of superhuman feats and impossible origins abound: Mary had seven hundred little lambs and Tom could swim in lava. The tension was replaced with boisterous merriment, prompting concerned texts from neighbors. When I told them of our shenanigans, they decided to join in as well. Everyone ended up having a good time. At the end of the day, they all left with smiles and red-faced compliments on my apartment.
And that was how I brought the very first ‘Lie Club’ to Veritum. I’ve become quite a controversial figure, but I brought some life to an otherwise dull world. Did I do the right thing? Let’s leave that for this generation of philosophers to decide.
Great story. Loved it!
Thank you! Glad you like it.
Excellent flash. An original concept developed with humor and satire. Best of all, I think philosophers could indeed have a heated debate about whether the MC was right or wrong … or, my vote, a bit of both.
Thank you! I do enjoy writing stories with tricky ethical questions.
Amusing riff on a theme that seems simple until you dig into it. Nice.