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FAN FAVORITE - Flash Fiction Winner for 2022

Prompt for the contest:

“There is now a pill you can take that will trigger a genetic mutation to make you stronger, smarter and more attractive. You took this pill, but your body is not responding correctly, and you are getting unusual results.”

Contestants were asked to submit short stories of less than 1000 words that worked with this idea.

Sponsored By:


The Hercules Pill

Liam R. Woods

"The Hercules Pill." That’s what everyone called it. That’s what everyone still calls it. It had, at one time, a name like every other prescription out there, but to call it by its lab-given name now would be an insult.

It had passed all the trials. Animals took to it like water, with hardly a side effect. Humans took to it like ambrosia and were asking for more. Preorders poured in after one of the most successful ad-campaigns in history – a pill promising the world. In hindsight, it delivered just that. It came like every other mail order medication. A brown box delivered right to your door with orange tissue paper covering a small blue bottle. Inside the bottle were thirty pills that looked about the color and size of an aspirin. It came with simple directions about how often it was to be taken and a diatribe of warnings that were, for the most part, ignored.

The changes were nearly instantaneous. Improved muscle size and density, enlarged cranium size to fit the brain mutation in every lobe, and soon, within one week’s time, came the visual changes. "The herculean populace" saw in themselves the chiseled perfection of David or Venus de Milo. In the first few months, the herculean populace quit their "underling" jobs and became models, police, fire and rescue, and even politicians. They had the smarts to do whatever they wanted, the physique to back it up, and the looks to beguile the other "underlings." The ones who didn’t take the pill.

After six months of the herculeans at the helm of civilization, came the attacks. Reports flooded in that herculeans were attacking underlings. What could be done, though? Most people in civil service were herculeans, and those that weren’t became overwhelmed by them.

Lines were drawn between two peoples. In a way, it was a blessing. Around the world, there was no longer black or white, rich or poor, Christian or atheist – it was either herculean or underling. Most of the underlings who refused to join the herculeans took up arms, but that was like a colony of monkeys arming themselves with rocks and stones against a cavalry of well-trained, well-armed marines. The underlings had already lost before they began.

What is still befuddling is why they still fight. There are more herculeans than ever before, not one underling plan has worked, and the Earth is now in better shape than ever before. Herculeans are the next step in human evolution, and it took just a pill to realize it. A pill taken once a day to realize the premiere of pique development.

Of course, the herculeans are now starting to wonder what happens when you miss a dosage, just for a day. Rumors have circulated that a rapid transmogrification happens. You lose all your looks, your brain becomes mush, and your strength is nothing more than a feeble, tired, old man. Finally, your body evaporates and you are gone from existence. Honestly though, that doesn’t make any sense. One pill shouldn’t be able to do that, right?

I took mine today. I know I took mine today. I did take mine today. Or, was that yesterday?



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