#fridayflash: elementals

The Earth struck first, with tremblers strong enough to make the pictures on the walls rattle. Something got pulled, something popped, something shorted and the electricity went out. It stayed off for less than half an hour, but when it returned the clock on the stove no longer showed numbers. Instead, its seven-bar digital readouts formed alien glyphs.

The stove's timer alarm chirped and chattered to itself. The squat metal box seemed to have had the electronic version of a stroke, reawoken to a delusion it was a baby sparrow.

The Earth rotated twice, with the same speed and axis it always used, and the non-conscious machine that was the oven suddenly realised it wasn't a baby sparrow after all, but a kitchen appliance, and the horror made it scream. And scream. And scream, the long insistence of its alarm beeeeeeeeeeeeeep only fading as the speaker vibrated itself to death, only stopped when the homeowner in despair flipped the breaker switch and pulled the plug.

Fire and Water, mischievous fraternal twins, chose to trade places. A burned-out solenoid rendered the dishwasher unusable, while a tiny drop of water sneaked into an electric toothbrush's inner workings. Damp little ghost in the machine, it made the toothbrush turn on and off by itself, and not turn on or off in response to human fingers pressing the controls.

The final prank was left to Air, element of communication. The radio waved data passing through it were rearranged and randomised. E-mails floated into games of solitaire; photos from porn spam illustrated articles in the Wall Street Journal. Characters and sometimes even whole words would appear in tweets and blog posts from nowhere. All gibberish, the phone's and computer's extensions of those glyphs on the oven clock.

But there is one more element, more ethereal and less frivolous than the rest. She sums and supplants the other four, and what she lacks in tangibility she makes up for in intelligence.

Spirit quietly asked for her turn, and when Air was satisfied he bowed out and gave it to her.

Spirit knows language, and she knows grammar. Spirit knows how cultural conventions work.

She can write blog posts so real they can be easily mistaken for human.