I Am Stretched on Your World's Grave
“We never meant for this to happen.” The man who killed the world mumbled, staring straight through Death as they sat in its office. “I-I never knew how! dangerous the bomb was!” He grabbed hold of Death’s bony wrist, desperately pleading with his eyes. “Our best scientists assured me that the death toll would be well within acceptable margins. I didn’t want this to happen! You understand, right?”
“I understand. There was no way you could have known. You are not to blame.” Death lied. Its guest released his vicelike hold on Death’s wrist and sank back into the plush chair.
“Wasn’t my fault, wasn’t my fault!” He quietly sang to himself with relief as he faded away into the next realm. To judgement. Death doubted that the court would be as forgiving as it, but all Death had left to give was mercy, now.
When your entire planet had been scorched, all life burnt to cinders, what point was there to blame? When there was no one left to mourn the dead, all that remained were victims; and it was Death’s duty to comfort them and ease their passing. Its scythe leaned up against a wall in the corner, rusted and covered with centuries of dust. Death’s job could be easy as a single slash, forcibly thrusting spirits onward, but Death had no intention on traumatizing the dead any further. It had nothing but time left, after all.
If not for its occupant, Death’s office could almost have belonged to any earthly psychologist. There was a number of comfortable chairs and couches, and the walls subtly shifted their color to match whatever Death’s guest would find most soothing. Ocean waves sounded in the distance, the last remnant of the now-dry seas.
Before the end, there had been a single window that looked out upon a peaceful, green meadow of flowers; Death’s favorite place. Now, the window had been hastily boarded up to hide the desolation. Death’s first guest had been a world-famous artist, who Death commissioned to paint a replacement to hang in its place. The resulting landscape was beautiful, but its stillness served as a reminder of what had been lost.
The one object that especially stood out of place was a black grimoire, which lay open on a small stand in the center of the room, listing the names and natures of the deceased. Death crossed off the name of his previous guest. Next on the list was a renowned speaker and philosopher. Death placed a finger on her name and concentrated, seeking to draw out her soul from the sea of unconsciousness all went to after they died, until they could be properly laid to rest.
Soon enough, a faint outline appeared, slowly coming together into the solid form of a middle-aged woman. The guest looked around Death’s office with an irritated sigh. “Well, bugger. Looks like my theories on consciousness were flawed after all.”
Finally, for the first time in its long existence, Death found that its steady stream of guests had been exhausted. There was but one more name in its grimoire, one last soul to ferry onwards: a girl named Alice Brooks. Death summoned her.
“You’re a lot less scary than I thought you’d be.” Alice said once she had been fully formed, tilting her head as she examined Death. “No hellfire or brimstone. You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you weren’t actually the devil, sent to devour my soul.”
“I can assure you that I am not the devil, and that my only interest in your soul is its safe passage to the afterlife.” Death said, somewhat bemused. To its surprise, Alice immediately started cackling with glee, nearly falling off of her chair.
“Well, then! It looks like dear old dad was wrong about quite a few things.” Alice said once she had recovered from her laughing fit. “You’re what then, the ferryman?”
“I suppose that is an accurate description,” Death said.
“Well, sorry, I don’t have any particular inclination to ‘pass on’. There isn’t anyone I’d wanna see up there, and I have to say, this is an interesting change of pace.”
Death shrugged. “It is my duty to give you as much time as you need to be ready. Indeed, you are the last guest that I will ever see.”
“I was the very last one to get an invitation? Even after the end of the world, I guess nothing changes. If I’m the last, what’ll happen after I’m gone, then?”
“I…” Death faltered. In all its years, it had not given thought to what would happen after its work was done.
“Won’t you be lonely?” Alice persisted. “I gotta admit, even thinking about what’s coming next scares the hell outta me, so what do you have to lose by keeping me around? Nothing, right?”
“I suppose not.” Death said. It had no intention of derelicting its duty, but Alice was far from the first difficult guest it had entertained.
Alice was even more stubborn than Death had guessed. Her curiosity was insatiable, and she filled the long hours by asking Death about all the people who had passed through its walls; the scores of ancient leaders, artisans, and philosophers. “Months” passed. It soon became clear that nothing Death could do would make her at peace.
As unfamiliar as the future was, Death could still not steal Alice’s entire future away from her, just to assuage its own fears. The moment Death’s finger brushed against its scythe, the centuries of dust blew away, and the dull steel gleamed once more. “Forgive me.” It said, and with a slash forced Alice’s soul onward.
Interestingly, there was a knock on the door. Even more interestingly, there was now a door to Death’s office. It stared at the new entryway for a moment, at a loss for what to do. “Excuse me? This is Death’s office, correct? I’ve come a long way, I’d hate to have the wrong address,” a voice sounded from beyond the door. Nonplussed, Death opened the door, and was momentarily blinded as a blinding light filled its office.
In the door stood a tall man, wearing a suit and holding a briefcase in his right hand. He would have been the quintessential generic businessman, if only his eyes had been more than empty, black sockets. Behind him was nothing but a pure white void. “I was not expecting any more guests.” Death said, nevertheless motioning the strange visitor in. The businessman nodded, shutting the door behind him as he entered, blocking out the light.
“You can think of this as, ahem, a professional courtesy call.” He said, flashing a grin. “I am the Death of Deaths. You’ve served well, old boy, but your work’s done. There’s nothing left for you to do but move on.” As he spoke, he opened his briefcase, revealing a folded up scythe. “It’s time for you to join the people you’ve watched over, all these thousands of years.”
“I am ready.” Death, at last, was laid to rest.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 00:37|
|# ? Jan 28, 2023 20:36|
The Sweat Adds Flavor
The frozen patties clacked onto the grill like coasters, spatters of grease popping about. Rick the grillman ignored the stinging pains on his forearm -- they'd fade soon enough, and blisters would heal. The omnipresent sweat that stung his eyes and left rich salt deposits on his grease-stiffened uniform shirt was much worse.
"Hey, y'all're holdin' on nuggets again, Rick."
The imbecilic drawl came from Billy, one of the sandwich assemblers and to Rick, the platonic ideal of the drug-hazed burnout. He reeked of Axe body spray, sweat, and stale weed.
The grillman checked the trays in the heating cabinets and made a low noise of annoyance in the back of his throat when he saw they were lit. Lit trays were supposed to be full trays, but of course, Billy had drawn from each until they were empty, and hadn't said a word until it was too late. Rick considered saying something, but thought better of it; arguing with Billy was like arguing with a dog, only most dogs didn't reply with half-baked non sequiturs.
Rick was a doughy man, dour and angry, but he cared. Unfortunately, it meant he was never satisfied; he was punctual, meticulous, irritable. He kept his grill and his utensils spotlessly clean and his trays full of fresh food.
Except when people like Billy worked, of course. Billy spent more time blathering about Clash of Clans and weed and old westerns than he spent paying attention to which trays he pulled from, making things hard for Rick.
"I tell you the good news?" Billy shot Rick a lopsided grin, bloodshot brown eyes glistening unhealthily, like veiny boiled eggs. His voice was as slick and as irritating as the grease popping from Rick's grill. "They're makin' me a manager."
Rick froze as he was setting up another tray of nuggets for the fryer. Billy? A manager? Rick had worked for nearly three years without so much as a nickel raise, while Billy had been there less than four months and they were making him a manager? Sweat dripped from the lank brown curls beneath Rick's threadbare hat and into his eyes, but he barely noticed it. Rage boiled up his throat like bile, and his knuckles whitened about the frozen bag of nuggets in his hand.
"Well, congratulations! I'm glad to hear it; you've always been a hard worker." Rick turned toward Billy with a rictus smile. Rick wasn't lying about that last part -- Billy might have been as sharp as a sack of rotten potatoes, but the man didn't slack. As long as the managers were watching. "When do you get your shirt and tie, you think?"
"Next week, after we get paid," Billy answered, puffing his chest and smiling with pride. Pride.
The ignorant bastard was proud. The idiot didn't realize that they worked in fast food, one step above slavery. They were failures as human beings, the lowest of the low. They worked in the heat and grease and anger for little pay and not enough hours. Rick in particular barely paid his rent, and he'd long ago given up the idea of buying groceries -- what he couldn't get with food stamps, he scavenged from the wastebins at work. Bills were paid roulette-style. But he did his best, worked as hard as he was able, and did his job. He didn't know any other way.
Billy did as well, but he did it flashily -- he did it to be seen. He called out orders he'd finished loud enough for the pizza place next door to hear. He always snuck in between people and their jobs and did them himself, although rather sloppily. He gave orders to the newbies -- mostly kids on their summer break. The orders were wrong, mind, and the kids got in trouble for it -- "No, you're not supposed to wash off meat that falls to the floor, where'd you hear that?" -- but Billy smirked, because He Knew Better.
And he was proud. Not of a job done well, but convinced that what he did was right, simply because he did it. Rick wanted to throttle the bastard. Instead, Rick throttled the bastard inside; he shoved his hate down, stuffed it somewhere deep, and made nuggets while Billy chatted up a front-line girl ten years too young for him.
Hours had passed. Billy had taken several ten minute breaks to his van to "re-medicate" and coat himself in another layer of Axe to hide the smell, while Rick did triple duty -- grill, fryers, and sandwich assembly. Billy always returned just after orders were over, bragging loudly of how he'd made it "just in time" while gently pushing Rick out of the way to finish wrapping a burger.
Soon it was just the two of them in the kitchen. The others had left, and front line had been reduced to a single overworked manager who nonetheless took orders and made fries with a brittle smile. And Billy, of course, offered his "help," leaving Rick to handle the huge orders of the ever-hungry late-night crowd by himself in the greasy heat of the kitchen.
In time, the orders had died down and business had slowed to a stop, and all three remaining employees sighed their relief.
"Where's Opie? He was due at 8:00," Rick said as he searched a grease-stained schedule with a rubber-gloved finger.
"Called in sick," said the manager, a little, nervous freckled woman. "You guys are going to have to cover for him, at least until someone on morning shift comes in."
Rick cursed. "I've got pans to wash, Roberta-"
Billy cut in with a belly laugh. "We got this, Rick! I'll take your dishes back for you."
Rick grumbled. Billy would take the dishes back, all right. And he'd spill grease and ketchup and god only knows what else all over everything and make everything more difficult to wash, and coat the floor in the crap when he dropped them on the ground instead of carefully arranging them as Rick preferred to.
And, sure enough, Rick was right.
It was after four in the morning when they were able to leave. It hadn't been a busy night, and Rick and Billy were able to do their cleaning and make food without much difficulty. In fact, Rick had been pleasantly surprised when Billy had performed his duty without much fuss.
"Seeya in a few hours," Rick said as he grabbed his backpack and prepared to walk home, stumbling from exhaustion and a bad leg.
"Don't you work at noon?" Billy turned to Rick with a quizzical expression. "You live about seven miles away, don't you?"
Rick shrugged. "I'll get enough sleep. And if I'm late, so be it -- it's their fault for not getting anyone to cover for Opie."
Billy reached down into his pocket and pulled out his keys. "C'mon, lemme drive you home."
"I don't have any gas money, dude."
"Don't need any," Billy said with a shrug.
As they drove through the humid night, Billy looked to Rick.
"You don't like me," Billy said, turning his gaze back to the road.
"What? That's not true," Rick said, shame prickling his spine. Yes it is.
"You don't think I should be a manager." Billy sighed. "You're a lot smarter than I am. But this job's all I got. My daddy's proud of the work I do."
Rick was silent.
"I'm gonna try my best, Rick. I'm gonna do my best to deserve it."
Rick said nothing.
"Also, I think I just passed up your house." Rick turned his neck and looked behind them.
Rick let out a chuckle despite himself
Maybe Billy wasn't so bad.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 00:45|
Could This Be Our Last Team-Up?
Sue punched the Drillbot, denting the yellow metal. The rivets along the side of the plate strained, but held as the drillhead dug into the city street. Turrets sprouted along the circumference of the machine. I projected red energy disks in front of them. When the weapons fired the beams reflected from disk to disk to the next turret, destroying them all. Sue punched again, and this time the rivets along the top of the plate snapped. Sue grabbed that top edge and ripped the entire piece off of the Drillbot, exposing gears and circuitry within.
I launched one of my discs into the guts of the machine. It made satisfying crunching noises and electrical pops.
“Careful,” said Sue. “We need the transponder intact.”
“I know where the transponder is,” I said. As if we hadn't taken down four of Lowball's signature devices.
“Sorry,” said Sue. “Can't be too careful.” She reached into the device, fishing around among the twisted and singed metal. She pulled out a small box with three purple lights that blinked at seemingly random intervals. “Call it in.”
I activated my headset. “Sue and Janice reporting in,” I said. “Drillbot at Montgomery and Seventh is down. We have the transponder. It's active.”
“Roger,” said the mechanical voice of Tech Support. “Sending a recovery team and scanning the transponder now. Be advised Lowball is known to be working with The Gearmonger.”
I relayed this news to Sue. “Want to bring anyone else in?”
“For those two clowns? I don't think-”
“Are you sure you don't want to call in your new friends in the Seven?”
Sue stopped, looking guilty. Tech Support interrupted, sending me the coordinates for Lowball's new base and pretending not to have been listening. “So you know about that?” she said, forcing a weak smile.
I glared at her. “It looks like they're on one of the islands way offshore,” I said. “The sooner we get there...”
Sue started to say something, then nodded at me. I made flying discs beneath my feet and took off. Sue flew behind me. The wind was too loud for conversation.
The island was tiny, barely more than a rock sticking out of the occean. There was a heavy metal hatch in the middle of it. “We should talk about this,” said Sue as we landed.
“What's to talk about?” I said. “I mean, they're the Seven. Obviously a huge opportunity. I can't even blame-”
“It isn't as though they had two openings. They're the Seven, not the Eight.”
I gaped. She didn't notice; she was bending down to get leverage on the hatch. “You don't really think that they'd have picked us both if there were two spaces, do you?” Sue turned to face me. “And that would be even worse. I mean, talk about giving people the wrong idea.”
“What, that you and I are, are a thing? I think I've dated enough musicians-”
“No, not that,” I said, although there had been more than enough of that over the years. “The other wrong idea. That I'm...”
I trailed off as she tore the hatch off of the foundation. She let it go and it went flying over the Pacific ocean. “That you're what?”
“That I'm just your sidekick.” I said. “Forget it. Let's go.”
Beneath the hatch was a deep hole. There was a ladder, but neither of us used it. I sent a disk down to light the bottom. It was about sixty feet, with a flat surface at the bottom. Sue jumped in while I floated down.
It was hot down there. “Geothermal?” I said.
Sue nodded. “Lowball's always had a thing for lava. Probably trying to make a volcano downtown.”
There was a tunnel slanting down. We followed until it opened into a huge, cavernous chamber. In the middle of the chamber was a chasm, and from the bottom of the chasm came the painfully warm glow of flowing lava. Or magma, technically, I think. When we got near the center, hidden doors opened and dozens of uniformed goons attacked us from all sides.
Fighting hordes of normal people is generally harder than a one-on-one fight with a super near your power level, at least if you're not a psychopath and don't want to kill or maim your opponents. We went mainly on the defensive, occasionally throwing one of them into a small group of their allies. It takes a long time to wear a large group down that way, and these guys kept on getting up.
“Hey, Janice,” said Sue, loud enough to hear through the fight.
“Yeah?” I said.
“I just noticed something. How hot do you think it is down here?”
“A hundred ten, maybe?”
“That's what I thought. Notice anything about these idiots?”
I took a look. Not one was so much as breaking a sweat. The two of us were at risk for dehydration if the fight lasted much longer. “Mandroids?”
“Probably. But what if they're just mutants or something?”
“Well, you could just, I don't know, break an arm and see what happens?”
“Seriously?” said Sue. “I don't know...”
“Fafnir breaks bones all the time, so you'll need to get used to that kind of thing.”
Sue grabbed one of the attackers and applied just a little more force than before. Its arm broke off and a spray of tiny gears erupted from under the hardened plastic skin. “Mandroids!” she shouted. “Clockwork Mandroids from the Gearmonger's labs! Hot drat! Not too often I can really let loose.”
Sue unleashed her full strength on the artificial attackers, with punches that ripped them apart, knocking torsos and lower bodies into groups and knocking them into the walls or down into the lava-bottomed chasm. I did too, throwing razor-sharp serrated energy disks, usually too deadly to use. “You know,” I said, as we were down to the last dozen Mandroids, “They'll probably make you actually pick out a code name.”
“Well,” said Sue.
“They already have, haven't they? What is it?”
Sue said something too quiet for me to hear as she smashed the heads of the last two Mandroids together.
“What was that?”
“It's Strongarm Sue, okay?”
“Believe me, the other choices were worse.”
“How could they possibly?”
“Let me put it this way: one of the names on the list was Boomchick. Boomchick!”
“Okay, okay, I guess Strongarm Sue isn't the worst thing imaginable. Still...”
“Remember when the newspapers tried to call you Disco?” I couldn't help but start laughing.
“I am going to miss all this.”
“We'll still work together. Maybe not as often, but most of the Seven do solo work and have secret identities besides. If they have time for that, I'll have time for this.”
“Maybe,” I said, doubtfully.
“Okay. So let's go beat the crap out of a genocidal cave troll and his mad steampunk scientist pal.”
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 00:53|
Morning Bell fucked around with this message at 12:24 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 01:14|
Nat waited months for Whitney’s coma to break.
During the days following the incident, after her skin was reattached into place, Nat replayed the scene over and over again in her mind. There was an explosion in the church’s basement that propelled her brother into its stone foundation, leaving his brain inactive and his body covered in burns. The four girls he was downstairs with were dead, and at least twenty others were in critical care.
Nat stared into the mirror under the fluorescent hospital lighting, fingering the scar that ran from her lower lip to her jaw, and testing her sore skin’s elasticity. The dark circles under her eyes had always been there, but were made worse by the lack of sleep following it all. Truth be told, she looked good, considering the magnitude of the blast, but the deep, pretzel-brown, skin of her reflection wordlessly asked her the same nagging question.
Why had she been spared from the flames?
Nat looked over to her comatose brother while fighting tears; Whitney was dotted with heavy blots of new and swollen pink-pale skin that covered his large chest and handsome face like a wide rash. The doctors reported that he would almost certainly lose half of his vision, and Nat decided that she would take care of him as he had done for her for years.
The fire had enveloped her, too; Nat remembered the unimaginable heat, the feeling of her eyeballs boiling in her skull, yet there was nary a mark on her. She thought about pressing her knees against the cold, disinfectant-tinged floor and praying for an answer like Whitney had taught her.
Instead, she tried to burn herself.
Then, one day, he just woke up.
“Is that my little sister?” he asked through the smoke of pain and anguish.
“It is, big brother.”
That evening, Nat showed Whitney the only scar on her face. “It’s incredible,” he said, before Nat produced the bottle of moonshine that nursed her through those sleepless nights.
“You drinking now?” He asked.
Nat didn’t answer. Instead, she coated her finger in the clear stuff, struck a match, and let it burn out like a tired candle.
“It’s a miracle,” he said, “God made you fireproof.” Nat was too tired to continue the discussion, so instead she lay in his bed, singing the Christmas carols playing over the radio until she fell asleep early, for the first time in a while.
“I’m not sure that my skin is a miracle,” Nat said the following day.
“If yours isn’t, then mine certainly is,” Whitney said while gesturing to his grafted skin. “God was with me that night.”
“And does God walk with arsonists and murderers?”
“I think he walks behind all the misled, waiting for them to turn back and realize just how lost they are.”
Nat stood up, slipping on her winter coat. “You’re a fool.”
“God’s love burns eternally;” Whitney said, “it isn’t frail like wood or skin.”
Somewhere in the kitchen, a ceiling beam crashed to the floor after buckling in the fire, and for the first time that evening, Nat was scared.
“You know,” she said, “that night? Have you forgotten already? That night, Pastor Cross was planning a sermon on forgiveness.” She moved closer to the hogtied man until she towered over him. “‘A Love that Forgives,’ he called it. I wonder if he’d forgive you.”
From his perspective, clubbed and bound and left on the burning livingroom floor, Nat looked like an angel, the eclipse of her head against the ceiling lamp forming a golden halo. Behind her, a screen of orange flames crept up the dingy wallpaper.
“Will you forgive me for what I did to hurt you?” She asked.
His name was Dunbar, and in the weeks following the bombing, he had grown a shaggy beard and had taken to hitting the bars in the early afternoon and bragging to anyone who’d listen about how he, “taught those motherfucking animals what’s what.”
His place smelled like piss, or maybe it was the smell of melting plastics, synthetics, and paint, like vinegar in the nostrils.
“Sure,” he spat through broken teeth, blood, and sweat. “I forgive you, just untie me and help me out of here! We’ll call it square.”
Nat must have clubbed him harder than she thought.
The fire was skipping closer to Dunbar’s head, so Nat leaned in, showing him where the splintered pew opened her face like an envelope. “Look at me. I’m not apologizing for tonight,” she said, “I won’t apologize for this.”
The flames began to deliver gentle kisses to the top of Dunbar’s head, and he inched a southward retreat. “I must have done something to deserve the hell you brought on that place,” Nat said.
“You were just collateral damage. That’s all,” he growled.
The ceiling fire from the kitchen melded with the inferno mounting the four walls around her, and Nat wondered how long it would be for the whole house to come down.
“You did teach me something that night,” Nat said as she wiped a strand of kinky, wet, hair from her sweaty face. She picked up a burning Christmas stocking from the floor, slipping her hand into it like a mitten. Nat grimaced as the flame snaked its way up her arm, but never once cried out.
Nat waved the stocking inches from his face, teasing the man. “It still hurts; I just don’t burn,” she said. “Let’s find out if you do.”
She pressed her hand against the man’s face, momentarily gagging on the smell of his bubbling flesh.
Just then, the roof of the small house began to groan, before crumbling on top of itself. Nat felt a bone snap, and she was pinned to the floor.
Nat tiptoed into the hospital room against the crackles of the radio; Whitney had fallen asleep to it again. It was difficult for her to stay quiet with the cast around her arm and the walking boot swallowing her foot, so maybe she woke him up. Maybe he was never sleeping at all.
“The radio’s been going on about that house fire in McCalla,” Whitney said before cracking open his good eye.
“Haven’t heard,” she replied.
Whitney cringed as he sat up in his bed, lighting the end table lamp to take a closer look at his sister. “You been drinking?” he asked. “You smell like liquor.”
“Yeah,” she said, “I been drinking. Took a nasty fall.”
“Seems like it.”
Whitney reached across the bed, his flesh taut against the stretch. Gently, he pinched a speck of ash from Nat’s hair, letting it fall to the floor like a winter snowflake.
“They’re saying the house belonged to that man, Dunbar. That man everyone thought to be involved in the bombing,” he continued before exhaling a long breath. “They haven’t found him yet.”
Whitney paused, as if expecting Nat to say something.
“Sounds like justice to me,” Nat said while slumping into her chair, “but God’s forgiveness burns eternally, right?”
“It does,” he said. Whitney killed the light, “but mine scatters like ash on the wind.”
Nat had the strangest feeling that someone was behind her.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 01:37|
I am backing out of this week's contest. My apologies. Guess I'll start eating my hat. It was too hot to keep wearing it anyway.
I will toxx myself the next time I enter one of these.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 01:57|
Sweat Tea in a Tin Can, 1094 words
The car baked in the Atlanta heat, the hood of the Crown Vic as hot as a diner flat top. Al held the camera against his chest, waiting. The man in the suit walked away, only glancing into the windows of the shop. Al sighed as Frankie got into the car.
“Here’s your sweet tea. Did I miss anything?” Frankie said, looking at the camera.
“Thanks. Naw, just a window shopper.” Al put the camera back in its case before taking a long sip of the tea.
“Whole lot of nothing,” muttered Frankie.
“If you signed up for shoot outs and police chases-”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Real police work takes time. Doesn’t mean it’s not boring.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” chuckled Al. “Boring as hell.” He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his pink brow. The two officers sat in silence for a bit, sipping their drinks. Frankie couldn’t seem to get comfortable.
“Al… I gotta tell you something…”
“Hold on,” Al replied, grabbing the camera case. “I think someone is coming out.” They waited as a shape came to the door. The man - it looked like the shape of a man - stood for a bit, maybe staring at the car. He disappeared back inside, and Al sighed again.
“I hate stakeouts in the summer. A hot mess of nothing, just boiling in a tin can.” Al started putting the camera away.
“Al,” Frankie said quietly, “Miri is cheating on you.” Al finished putting the camera away, and took a sip.
“Did you hear me? I said-”
“Are you loving her?” Al asked.
Frankie looked away. He wasn’t sweating from the heat, and the Crown Vic seemed too small. “Did you hear me?” Al asked again, mockingly. He let Frankie stew in his juices for a bit, and finished sipping his drink. It made him think of the interrogation rooms - they didn’t put air vents in them. As time went on, the room would heat up, and the suspect would start the sweat. But Frankie deserved a break.
“I’m gonna take a leak.”
“I’m sorry,” Frankie said, grabbing Al’s shoulder. “I’m real sorry.”
“Okay,” Al said. The word hung in the air. Al stared at the shop, while Frankie stared at Al.
“Okay? That’s all you’re going to say?” Frankie said with a hint of anger.
“What do you want me to say? Want me to try and put my fist through your skull? Get all red and mad?” Al started groping for something under his seat. “Christ, you’re such a boy scout.”
“I’m trying to do the right thing here, okay? I’m telling you the truth because-”
“Shut up,” Al said quietly, pulling a pack of Newports from its hiding place. “Roll down your window.”
“I thought you quit,” Frankie replied. Al stared at him as he lit the cigarette, and Frankie rolled down his window. They sat there for a bit, until Al finished his first cigarette and started another.
“You know why you told me, Frankie?”
“Because I’m trying to do the right thing.”
“Yeah?” Al said, looking him in the eye. “Did you tell Jasmine yet? Are you gonna? Seems like she’s a shitton more hurt by this than I am.” Frankie couldn’t hold his gaze.
“The reason you told me is because you want to be a good guy. You want to be just the greatest guy ever, the black Captain America of the Atlanta PD. And so you tell the truth and admit your mistakes and accept the consequences, but you know what, Frankie? You’re still an rear end in a top hat. You’re still a lying rear end in a top hat who sleeps with his friend’s wife, and cheats on his girlfriend. You don’t get to change that. Now watch the store, I’m taking a piss.”
Frankie didn’t say anything as Al took one last drag of his cigarette and stepped out of the car. He just stared out at the street. There wasn’t much to see - a couple empty storefronts, and a couple more with small time businesses. A booze store at the corner, mostly sitting quiet in the late morning heat - it’d get busier later on, attract a crowd as people got off work. And halfway up set the shop, selling alleged stolen phones and cameras, and maybe more. A man walked by, his dark skin glistening in the sun, and Frankie didn’t even bother grabbing the camera - he continued on, towards the liquor store.
Al seemed to be gone longer than just a piss, but he couldn’t tell. Sweating in the heat, time seemed to lengthen and pool like a lazy river, the stakeout shifts stretching off forever into misery before coming to abrupt ends. He jumped as Al opened the door.
“Any action?” Al asked.
“Not a thing.”
A pause, then- “When did you find out?”
Al looked out the window, focusing really hard on something halfway up the street. “Leave it alone, Frankie.”
“You give me that big speech, you’ve got to tell me. When did you find out? You owe me that much.”
“Leave it alone!”
“Because I was thinking back to it, and some odd things are sticking out. I was suppose to meet up with you, but you weren’t there. And Miri gave me some weird vague answer about how you were around-”
“Frankie-” Al’s voice had softened now.
“-And now I’m wondering where you were, Al. I’m wondering how in the hell I stepped into this hosed up situation in the first place. I’m wondering if you not mad at me because I slept with Miri, how maybe you’re mad that I told you. So where were you, Al?”
Silence. “Did you hear me?”
Someone came to the door of the shop again, and Frankie grabbed the camera case. He held it at the ready as a kid, maybe eighteen or twenty, stuck his head out the door. He snapped off a few quick pictures as the kid looked up and down the street for someone. He disappeared back inside.
“I’m sorry, Frankie. I just wanted you to drop it.”
“Bringing up Jasmine was a low blow, though.”
“Are you going to tell her?” Al asked.
“Naw.” Frankie cradled the camera against his chest. “Well… maybe. I dunno. Maybe she doesn’t need to know.”
They both sat up as a rent-a-van pulled up and the kid stepped outside. Frankie held the camera at the ready. Clear as day, they snapped a dozen pictures of the van being unloaded of clearly stolen goods.
“Finally,” muttered Al.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 02:04|
Best laid plans
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 02:32|
Two hours remain to submit your stories.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 03:00|
I will likely not be awake to close submissions at midnight (at least I hope to god I'm not).
But don't think I'm not completely capable of reading the timestamp on each post and doing simple math.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 03:13|
Sleep in the Dark
Cicadas sang, gnats boiled in clouds over the black water, and a man's hand floated in scum and algae. George could look at the hand, a white and waterlogged thing. He had a harder time fixing his eyes on the dead face and the fly soirée it hosted. No maggots yet; the corpse hadn't been a corpse for all that long.
"Buzz, buzz," his sister Kate said. She dangled by her arms from the branch of a nearby oak. "He can't sleep like that." Kicking her feet, she pulled herself up until her chin touched wood, slung a leg over the branch, and vanished from George's peripheral view.
George said, "Don't suppose he can." A chunk of log the length and breadth of his forearm lay on the ground. When he picked it up, rotten bark crumbled against his palm. Most of the wood beneath was already exposed, musty and dark, darker still at the thickest end. Strands of hair clung there. Black. The body had black hair, under the flies.
He scattered them, prodding the head with his stick. The eyes--no help there. Gone already. The bloated face was a stranger's face. Wasn't it?
Sweat slid down his back like a snake made from grease. "Kate."
His sister's face appeared among the leaves. She gazed at some point off to George's right. Twenty-three years old, she'd been his charge since their father's death, with no one else likely to care about the difference between her strangeness and madness.
George held out a hand, and Kate jumped down. He caught her shoulder and turned her away from the water. "I'm gonna take you back to the house. I have to go see Jim."
"It's a pretty place for sleeping, if it weren't for the flies," Kate said. She grabbed his hand and swung their arms all the way back home.
The insects' drone followed George there. They buzzed in his ears on the way down the road, alone, to his nearest neighbor's house four miles away, a thing of peeling white clapboard and weathered shutters. Jim Matcheson sat out on his wraparound porch, dealing solitaire hands through the heat of noon.
Sometimes George came out to play cards with him; he could go two weeks without seeing another soul besides Jim and Kate--usually.
George stopped short of climbing the porch steps. "That man who showed up here the other day, Jim. Northerner. Black hair."
"I've seen him again."
Jim grimaced. "The poor bastard shouldn't play poker if he's gonna take losing so personal. I chased him off again after you left. He tried to kick one of the dogs, and she bit him good."
"He's dead," George said.
Jim stopped dealing cards. "Oh, Christ," he said.
"Somebody cracked his head and dropped him in the pond."
George had tried to keep his tone level, but Jim's eyebrows sank into a dark line. "Somebody," the other man repeated.
"It wasn't me."
George said, "Maybe you had reasons. I hope they were good ones. It's a drat ugly death, and Kate found him."
"You sure the reasons weren't yours, George Renaux? You sure this man didn't make a pass at Katie? Something more than that?"
Three long strides brought George onto the porch and up to Jim's chair, and he had Jim's shoulder in one hand while the other made a fist, and Jim was yelling something he couldn't make out through anger--fear--
George let go. "Tell me you killed him," he whispered.
"Go to hell."
But under the anger was something like understanding. Something like pity. George flinched away from both.
Kate didn't answer his shouts at the house. He found her sitting beside a pool gone quiet, its cover of algae a memory. The flies had nothing to feast on; the gnats swirled around Kate's head as a nimbus with a thousand wings. "I remembered rocks, so he can sleep," she said, smiling up at her brother.
George pushed words past lips that felt like ice. "Did he touch you?"
"We shook hands. He wanted medicine, but he had eyes that color." Kate's muscled, slime-stained arm pointed to the shredded scum, then to the water. "Hair that color. He was meant for the pool."
"Yes! He didn't understand either. I only forgot to weigh him down--but now he's where he belongs, where he'll be fine."
Her reflection shone on the black surface of the water. Her eyes were focused on something invisible. Strange. Wild. George still saw the corpse, would see it always, but he could not see her penned in a madhouse.
"It's pretty here," she said, and she picked up his limp hand to hold.
At twilight, cicadas rattled their tymbals, gnats danced in hopes of mating, and a man sat alone on the bank of a dark, still pond. No flies disturbed its surface, and soon the algae would grow back to blanket both sleepers with green.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 03:22|
I reckon you think you've been saved
The August sun beat down mercilessly on the walkways around the quad. Zeb watched the long shadow in the grass and figured it was just an hour or so until it would cover his station. His eyes climbed the shadow up the twenty feet of scaffold to the man sized fetus at the top of the canvas. Its arms stretched wide with fingers pointed to the halo of basketball sized bits of afterbirth around it. “What is a human being?” the sign asked in giant letters.
Zeb could feel the Devil. He’d almost gotten through to the last girl.
Short and Asian, she’d looked up at the giant display and taken a step back.
“It’s hard to see for the first time with open eyes”
“What… even is that?” The girl looked ready to cry.
“A choice. Weakness fills our hearts. We make terrible choices. But if you ask Jesus to come in your heart and save you, you can have strength to choose to do right.”
The girl’s friend stepped around the flow of bodies and backpacks, and looked Zeb in the eyes with a scowl.
“How hosed in the head do you have to be to see a sign like that, and then shove it in our faces? Eat a world of dicks.” Her friend cleared her eyes, looked back down to the path, and started walking again.
Zeb had seen the guilt in her eyes. Her conscience was leading her back towards God. He knew his testament could have saved that girl and her baby. So why had the Devil snatched her away? Was his heart rebelling against God to give the Devil an opening?
“Is your heart on fire for God, Zebadiah?” Pastor Roberts laid a hand on his right shoulder from behind him. The white cotton of his shirt had borne the full sun, and it felt like a hand shaped coal for a moment as the Pastor’s hand pressed it against his skin.
“I’m so ready to bear witness Pastor, but I can feel the Devil feeding on my mistakes”
“Zebadiah, remember to guard your heart. Hebrews 5:14 says we have reason to discern good and evil. Fill your mind with the good, and keep a barricade for the bad.”
“I’ll try pastor. I can feel God’s presence here too. I just know it.”
“That’s good son. Pray with me now. O God, I just want to call you to watch over Zebadiah here, his spirit is just so ready to win over souls to you. We just ask that you raise us up here in the worst of the world, and just prepare us to do spiritual battle today.”
“Amen!” God had chosen Zeb to be saved from sin, and now God chose Zeb again to save others.
“Pastor, I promise to God right here and now to fast and pray until I have saved a soul!”
“Praise him, Zebadiah. You might want to” Just then the bus coordinator called to Roberts. “Hold on” and he walked away.
A tall girl with severely short dark hair stopped in front of him on the walkway. She looked up at the display for a long moment, but her sunglasses obscured her eyes.
“That’s pretty gruesome there”
“Opening our eyes to sin is not pretty, but we have to do it”
“And sin is an imax sized fetus in Hollywood-fake-blood red? How do we even know that’s an abortion and not a miscarriage?”
“That… That’s not the point. The point is that’s a person, a real human being, and thousands of innocents just like that are being murdered every year.”
“Ok, but does that take into account the number of fetuses that spontaneously miscarry? Were they not innocents or what?”
“No, it’s not God… That’s… Our presence here…” Zeb wanted to say something about the utter depravity of man and corrupting creation, but the words wouldn’t come. It was just so hot, so hard to focus. He didn’t want to think about anything but the girl’s long, muscled legs. That only made him angrier.
“It’s… you… you’re just trying to justify giving in to your own wanton lusts. God is not fooled!”
“Listen, buddy, I don’t think you’re really here for fetuses. And you don’t look so good. Have a drink” She grabbed the water bottle from the back of her backpack and held it out to him.
Zeb’s eyes focused on the far off Pastor. A barricade to evil. “No thank you”
“Listen, I meant that this culture tells you that giving in to lusts and feeling good is the only good”
“Didn’t God make those lusts too? Are you sure you don’t want some water?”
Zeb kept his eyes on the Pastor. In the haze of heat on concrete, Zeb would have sworn it was his father’s face. He would not let this girl’s flesh enter his mind. He had a vision to remind him to keep his self in discipline. “I’m fine, I…”
Zeb’s world became sparkly at the edges, then darker. He reached out to steady himself on the barricade, but the metal was searing hot. He fell over, and suddenly the girl was kneeling over him.
“God loves you, he knows your pain, and it’s going to be ok. Just have some water, friend.”
Zeb lifted his head up and could feel an intense rush. He knew he was locked in spiritual warfare. His father’s spirit had visited him to prepare his soul for this moment. He was a tool of God’s will, and he must not turn away from his purpose.
“I will not be moved!”
The sparkles at the edge of the world began to populate the center of his vision. The girl seemed very far away now. He could still see his father, but his father had the mattock now. He was standing over Zeb, screaming. Zeb was at home again, but that could not be. He could still feel that sun, and it was so unbearably hot.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 03:49|
You Can't Catch Every Portrait in a Picture Frame
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Jan 8, 2016
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 04:14|
The sun hung persistently in the cloudless sky, beating down without mercy on the flat, barren desert. Almost as if an act of defiance, life stubbornly continued on in the desert. And in a small village, one old mother considered her own act of defiance.
In her tiny tent, Idelsa paused in unpacking her things, distracted by the collage of old photos she kept. Daughters and mothers with their covered faces, men and sons posing for one last memory before moving away to the city for work all looked back at her. Idelsa added a few more, pictures of herself smiling, dancing and working with women from all over the world.
"It's nice to see you smiling, Idelsa."
The old mother turned with all the speed her aching hip allowed. A smile graced her lips at the sight of the younger woman with a child clinging to her legs.
"Kelitha!" Idelsa laughed, giving a hug to the younger woman and kisses to her child. "You would have loved it. There was so much to see, so much to learn! I have so much to teach you and the others."
Kelitha flinched away from the embrace, wringing her hands nervously.
"I - I shouldn't even be here. My husband—"
"—is an idiot and a bum who sits around all day," Idelsa finished. "You know he can't keep you from seeing the old mother. What? What is it, girl, speak!"
Kelitha took a deep draw from her freshly lit cigarette, shaking her head. "It's not just that, Idelsa. Things have changed in the months you've been gone. Behar has threatened retribution against those who use the panels."
The old mother hoped that Kelitha missed her scowl at the village elder's name.
"We can discuss that later. Stay, please, at least until it gets dark. Tell me what I have missed."
Idelsa bit back a groan, reminding herself to take the ladder slowly. Six months seemed like forever, but the panels and equipment came as promised. Not that such a fulfilled promise did any good in easing her aches and pains. Every morning was a struggle just to get out of bed, especially in the cooler months. Yet, the reward of seeing the eyes of the children and other women light up in awe, in interest at the potential of harnessing the power of the merciless sun!
The men refused to speak to her for her blessings, as Kelitha warned. Behar cut her fuel allotment, citing supply issues to the rest of the villagers. And while the women of the village might have been interested, not a single one came to Idelsa's lessons. She cursed the names of their husbands beneath her breath, one by one.
"Old mother! Hey, old mother!"
Kelitha hurried her way up the ladder, joining the old mother on one of the few solid roofs in the village. Even beginning to get on in age herself, Kel was plenty spry. Like every week, they shared a lunch together as Idelsa worked her engineering magic, setting up the panels in the optimal places and making sure that everything was in order.
"And your husband?" Idelsa asked, forcing her shaking hand to to properly grip the screwdriver for the last step of the installation.
"I - he still does not like the fact that I see you like this. But I tell him, who else will tend to the old mother? You really shouldn't be up here, Idelsa."
Waving her hand idly, the old mother decided it was time for a break and reached for the most vital tool in her collection: her solar engineering manual.
"Let my old eyes rest a while. Read to me again, for a little? Page eighteen, about the batteries..."
Idelsa passed away a year later, living long enough to see most of the tents and homes properly set up with their solar panels.
Behar decided not to remove the panels - his plan was much better than that, or so he thought. Why tear them down when they would fail? With nobody around to repair them, they would be useless and be forgotten like so many other things in the desert. The village would have no choice but to go back to buying kerosene for their lamps, and Behar would profit once more, uppity women and all..
All he had to do was wait.
Behar came to realize his plan had failed several weeks later. The complaints came in, but instead of removing their panels, they would mysteriously be fixed or replaced within the same week. Worse still, even the last holdouts were beginning to come around. How was he to properly pay for the luxuries, the shelter of his house come summer?
Having his men tear down the installations was one thing. But what if there was another way?
Kelitha swore. Swore at her husband dozing away drunk in their tent, at the old woman who had dragged her into the mess, at Behar for his arrogance, and even at God. For once in her life, she finally had control over something that wasn't cooking supper or raising children. Even though the panels and parts were graciously provided at first, the government would soon come calling from the big city for the first monthly payment.
Even though she was far better with words than numbers, even Kelitha understood that the panels were the wiser investment by far - how much money did her husband only spend on fuel for their lamp? For their cooking fires? Money that was being saved all over the village, thanks to the solar panels! Yet when Kelitha, when a woman came calling to collect - that was the problem.
Kelitha had no idea what scared her worse: the thought of taking out a loan or the voice from behind her.
"You don't have to sneak like this, you know."
Another swear for Behar as the elder caught her red-handed, sneaking about with her little bundle of tools. Too lost in thought to sneak properly. Kelitha could at least appreciate the irony that the older man was using one of the solar lights in the darkness.
"Relax, please. I come to offer peace. Or a truce, if you would like. Smoke?"
"I was too hasty with Idelsa. I can only apologize to her spirit - and you. I am sorry," he said. "The idea of a woman doing... all this, is hard to swallow for many. I offer you this, as apologies." From his pocket he withdrew a sheet of paper, offering up his light to allow the young engineer light to read by.
"A contract?" she asked, stunned. Her eyes continued to scan the document, "You want to start a company. With me?"
It was Behar's turn to nod. Kelitha tried and failed keep the excitement from creeping into her voice.
"No deal. Not like this," she said, finally.
"You can keep your unfair share of any profit, fine. Even stay president to my manger. But you let me handle it all. Assembly. Training. Maintenance. And you let me keep my title, of course."
Kelitha thought of Idelsa.
"Solar engineer, of course. Our second."
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 04:33|
Signals of Fear and Uncertainty
*snip* See Archive
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 00:44 on Sep 1, 2015
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 04:44|
The Wet-Bulb Limit
I can’t see the early morning sun overhead but its presence is inescapable. The clotted grey clouds catch the heat and compress it upon the landscape like a humid, sweaty bandage.
My little all-terrain trike is a sublime piece of engineering. A light single-seater frame, enclosed by a climate membrane, it looks like a streamlined golf cart from back when people used to play physically. It’s all virtual now, naturally, like every other human endeavour. Scanned and mapped and encoded so you can run your sim engine of choice and punch up any of the great historic golf courses on a whim.
My husband Edward used to play golf casually with his friends, until most of the courses closed and the fees for the remaining ones made it a pursuit exclusive to the very wealthy.
I’m going to die.
I have a small black case in my left breast pocket, over my heart. Inside it there is a small white pill. All legally signed off under the Voluntary Euthanasia Act of 2057, guaranteed painless and almost instantaneous. My legal affairs are in order – no family to leave anything to, in any case, so my meagre belongings will be resumed by the State.
My trike is roofed with high efficiency solar panels; they charge the battery almost as fast as the small electric motor drains it, with enough juice left over to run the climate control. The trike is fitted with emergency batteries as well; if the air conditioning goes down, the heat and the humidity will kill someone of my advanced age within a few hours.
The human body relies on sweat evaporating for thermo-regulation. The more humid the air, the more poorly this system operates. In extreme humidity, we overheat and die at surprisingly low temperatures – we just can’t get rid of our own waste heat fast enough.
It’s slow going on the back roads. Only the main routes between population hubs are maintained these days, the highways that the automated road trains blast their way along at 240 kilometres an hour. Civilian ground travel is mostly an historical curiosity now. So I’m bumping my way over roots and vines, pushing across bitumen pockmarked by potholes where harsh weather and biting heat have caused major subsidence in the aging roadways.
Not all the suburbs have decayed at even rates.
I pass along some streets where the houses are still sealed up, the lawns and fences still visibly marking irrelevant boundaries, albeit blurred by overgrowth and the efforts of reclamation gangs tearing out metal fixtures. This is my property, and this yours; but now it’s no-one’s, and always will be.
Less than ten kilometres out from the Greater Brisbane Arcology, though, I travel through a commercial district in what used to be Chermside. I remember it vividly; there were car-yards here along Gympie Road, and restaurants, and a pub where I had too much to drink once, and got into a terrible fight with Edward about nothing of consequence. The hangover is clearer in my memory than the hotel is on the ground – nothing but rubble and fragments, now, torn apart for the metal in its frame.
A little further along, and I pass where the major Chermside shopping mall once stood; that towering consumer castle, erased, ephemeral, the vacant lots piled high with broken glass and concrete, hidden by riotous sprawls of kudzu.
When our boy Terry was young we went there often. He’d ask to play on the arcade machines and we’d have an ice cream in the food court. He was a happy child, never brilliant but always smiling. Sometimes we’d go to see a movie on the big screen, shoulder to shoulder with a mass of other people who’d all gone out for the same reason. How impossibly quaint it seems now.
Terry was called up in the draft of 2034. He went up north in the Papua Suppression and didn’t come back to us. Losing him broke something inside Edward and he was never the same man again. He wasn’t bitter, or angry; he just deflated slowly over the next decade and a half, shedding interest and intellect until his heart shrugged and gave up one night.
I reach my destination by midday. I step boldly out of the trike membrane and breathe deep. Coastal smells overwhelm me – the deep, rich salt of the sea, underlaid by the brackish mud of mangrove flats.
Redcliffe. This used to be our weekend destination. We’d get fish and chips and lay it out on a blanket down by the water and we’d throw the leftovers to the complaining, circling gulls.
I unpack my kit from the trike and turn it off, sealing it up carefully in case someone is in a position to reclaim it in the future. I fumble on my cooling poncho and hood – the relief is amazing when the cold, fresh air starts to hiss across my scalp – and prop myself up, gingerly, as I push my feet into my wading boots. Then I pick up my picnic basket and make my way to the edge of the main street, where a steep slope leads down to the beach.
I have to push my way through thorny vines to get to the walkway and the effort leaves my heart pumping. I enjoy the sensation. The old concrete stairs are covered with thick drifts of dry leaves, so I clutch the railing tightly, feeling my way down one step at a time. It would be a terrible anti-climax to stumble and fall at this point.
The bottom of the stairs is buried in thick, dark mud. The beachfront here was laid and manicured carefully, back in the day; soft green turf with immaculate pathways led to a concrete seawall right at the water’s edge. But the waters have risen, since then; I look out across the mud, peering between mangrove branches, and there… yes!
I step down into the mud, which turns out to be knee-deep. Stepping onto mangrove roots where possible, I struggle my way out to the old picnic shelter I had sighted. The mud is at the level of the bench seats, so I carefully, slowly climb up and sit on the edge of the table.
I pull back my hood. The muggy air and the swampy smell rush in on me. I breathe deep, and open my picnic basket. I take out two champagne flutes and a piccolo bottle of sparkling wine (imitation, of course – real fermented grape wine costs as much as a small car per litre these days).
I take the small black case out of my pocket and put it on the table in front of me, then open it. Inside it there is a tiny white pill and a thick white gold ring. Edward had big, stubby fingers. I drop the ring into one of the glasses, open the bottle and pour two liberal serves.
Taking up the other glass, I look out across the mud to where the water starts. Tiny waves send glints of the midday sun back to me.
“Yes, of course, my darling. I do,” I tell the world, and I drink deep.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 05:23|
Hospital Beds 908 words
Moz had done everything responsibly. He got everyone to stand back at a safe distance. He made a trail of fuel to the small bonfire. It didn’t catch, at first, some of the kindling was wet.
Moz was standing over the fire when it went up. He still had the can of gas in his hand. A split second mistake was all it took.
Now Moz sat quietly in his bed. His pain started to spike and he pressed the little red morphine button trying to take the edge off. It wasn’t the burns that hurt, third degree burns just felt numb. It was the skin grafts he’d received to his right arm and leg over the last two weeks that bore brunt of his pain.
He looked over at the young woman in the bed across from him. She was playing on her phone again. Pausing only to glance around the room occasionally. A permanent grimace of disgust sat on her face.
We get it, you don’t want to be here. Find a person that does.
Karen? Kathy? He tried to remember her name.
Moz didn’t like her much she spent all night playing games on her phone, the light from it would bounce off the stainless steel hospital fixtures illuminating the room. The little blips and bloops would sing out from the phone. She had no consideration whatsoever for people trying to sleep.
Moz grabbed yesterday’s paper and started to read it for the second time. He’d already done all the crosswords. He was looking through the classifieds when he heard a familiar voice.
“Moses.” his wife said, breaking his concentration as she walked in the room. “How are you feeling?”
“Still hurts a bit. I’m sure they’ve got me dosed up to they eyeballs on every drug in the hospital though.” Moz smiled as best he could to appear strong for Sue.
The bank would be foreclosing on their house soon and there was nothing they could do until Moz was back at work. They’d cried about it together when Sue visited yesterday. After that Moz promised himself he wouldn’t breakdown like that again. Poor Sue was barely holding it together.
It’s impossible to sleep in this place.
Kate thought she’d be out of the burns ward in a week or so, but apparently the chemical burns she’d received were spread far enough that the doctors had to observe her for infection. She could only ever sleep during meal times when the old dude was quietly eating. It was like someone was trying to start a lawnmower every night the way he snored.
She was angry, and rightly so, her scumbag boyfriend had accused her of cheating moment before he threw acid at her. It was a miracle none of it hit her in the face.
She went to hospital. He went to jail. He’d spend a few months inside. She'd be scarred for life on her arms, neck, and chest.
“Oh great.” she sarcastically mumbled to herself. The old dude’s bleary-eyed wife had just entered the room. Yesterday they’d spent two hours crying. If that was starting again then Kate was going to asked to be moved to another room. She needed rest. She needed a full eight hours of sleep.
Kate pushed the call button and waited.
A nurse came in.
“Can I please be moved to another room. I can never sleep in here. How am I supposed to get better?” Kate begged the nurse loudly enough to ensure that her roomie heard her and shot Moz a dirty glance.
Moz fired back “Maybe if you weren’t on your phone until midnight blipping away at Candy Crash or whatever the hell you're doing over there” his tone was polite but Kate heard the underlying venom.
“Well maybe if you didn’t sound like you were emptying a bathtub all night I wouldn’t be sitting up for so long. Your snoring is atrocious” Kate said.
“You obnoxious little cow! You think you are the only one who is tired?” Moz replied. He only snored when he was worn down and exhausted. He couldn’t help it. “You might be in the same ward but at least you don’t have a family to look after!”
“At least you have someone to support you! My boyfriend did this to me!” Kate began to almost scream.
A nurse cleared her throat loudly from the doorway.
“You have a new roommate on the way down, he’s younger than both of you, and has been through a lot. Pediatrics can’t handle the overflow at the moment and we’re better equipped here to deal with his injuries. I suggest you both be polite.” she said in a enforcing tone.
An orderly pushed a gurney into the room. The young patient was asleep. Judging by his size Kate guessed he was about 10 years old. Likely sedated. Covered from head to toe in burn compression.
Kate looked over at Moz who stared sadly back at her. He mouthed the words “Sorry” and leaned in to have a quiet conversation with his wife. He looked ashamed. Kate was too.
Kate text her mom.
pls bring headphones if you can make it for a visit
She rolled over and tried to get some sleep. Morose moods was contagious in the burns ward. Kate knew she, and Moz, would have to do their best to keep the kid in high spirits when he woke up.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 06:13|
Submission deadline is passed (for like 3 hours), idk if docbeard's going to be nice or not if you're late, so we'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime
Write me a story about cute dogs. 200 words.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 07:41|
Man pet me firm and make proud.
Woman soft and smother, must escape her grasp!
Big little-human like me. Her room smells too much like flowers. Medium little-human loves me like brother. Small little-human pulls me, hangs on me, tries to ride me.
Flags in yard scary, they hurt me. Want squirrels. Want rabbits. Want chipmunks. But flags and their pain block me!
When sun is gone man and woman let me in their soft box. I smell their feet. They smell wonderful.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 14:43|
Information update: Docbeard is sick as a dog. He ought to be about later.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 21:53|
Pray for Docbeard, for he tried to read all of our stories in one sitting and look what it brought him.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 23:32|
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 23:42|
I'm alive, and at least this way your stories aren't the worst experience I've had today.
Expect judgment sometime tomorrow.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 23:56|
Writhing in horrid ecstasy, the Pug stares upon me. Its distended eyes roll and bulge in its awful delight, white crescents of boiled-egg sclera flickering in and out of sickening view to delineate the madness of its gaze.
I proffer the biscuit, hand pale and shaking. The tongue slithers forth, glistening purple-pink and quivering, to flail at the air in vile anticipation. Tremors of excitement pass along its stunted form and pale ripples of coarse, bristling fur roll like the waves of an unclean sea.
It sucks at the air, gulping, and I brace for the horror that is about to occur.
The Pug convulses and barks; a wheezing, gasping eructation. A spray of foul droplets emerges to taint the very air. In an agony of disgust I throw down the treat and retreat, my horrible duty discharged.
gently caress I hate dogsitting while Grandma's in hospital.
|# ? Jul 27, 2015 23:58|
There was a cute dog and when people saw it for the first time they would remark on how cute it was. Then the cute dog would do something gross like gobble chicken poop, vomit it back up, and then eat it again. After actions such as these, people suddenly found the dog to be less cute. The would shoo it away and call it names like "gross dog" or "eat barf dog." But its appearances had not changed, and its soul was still the same. Thus the cute dog taught the people not to love so freely, and to reserve praise for those who have not eaten the poop.
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 00:53|
Thank you for leaving the guillotine out of this one.
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 03:02|
(I am a cute dog)
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 06:31|
Frip was a mongrel. A Labrador mixed with something unknown. He had no neck, short legs and a gray beard. One day in the park he sniffed away at everything he passed. His owner sat on a nearby bench reading a newspaper. Frip shuffled about unbounded. His tail wagged faster than the wings of a humming bird as he took in the delights of the park.
He caught the sent of something interesting and waddled to a new bush. A blond bundle leaped out of it. It was the fluffiest golden retriever puppy. It jumped about and sprinted around Frip. Frip growled. He bared his teeth, though only a few remained. The pup pounced at him. It was too fast for Frip to respond. The pup ran circles around him. He growled louder. The pup pounced again. This time Frip managed to bite the puppy. Just as he did, the owner of the puppy appeared. The puppy was yelping. The owner screamed profanities and besought the assistance of Frip's owner. They both ran towards the scuffling dogs. The pup's owner tried to separate them. But Frip wouldn't let go. And the puppy was less golden, more ruddy.
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 17:20|
Who's a good boy?
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 17:38|
Harold tried to get comfortable in his lonely bed, stumped by the question posed by his laptop.
What was the name of your first pet?
The answer wasn’t Terrence, the cat that ran away.
Or Goldie, won at a carnival – and flushed.
Going to his life insurance site had been a mistake. But the question plagued at him, even when switching over to his baby monitor app. Little Jackie was sound asleep in her crib.
Harold concentrated, trying to think back before the others. When he was Jackie’s age.
The memory of fur came first, then of his own crib – and memories of his first friend and protector.
A huge, old mastiff sits patiently, drool trickling from his mouth. His tail wags, excitedly, as his humans tape the whole scene. The smallest, Harold, has only begun to walk – yet still crawls all over the patient mountain of fur.
It will be many more months of adventure and tail-pulling, of watchful nights at Harold’s bed before his deserved rest.
After that, his password was easy. Harold decided to increase his policy, but to leave the house for the first time in days – a dog for Jackie seemed a wise investment indeed.
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 18:19|
dog stories part 1
dog no need speak stupid. that dumb.
Cute Dog-O Meter: 5/10
dog not cute, dog ugly. pugs also abominations of nature
Cute Dog-O Meter: 2/10
why people no like dog for doing dog thing? dog is still cute imo
Cute Dog-O Meter: 7/10
Cute Dog-O Meter: 6/10
why dog mean? dogs nice. also the main dog was like my first dog, but my first dog was nice. nice dogs are cute.
Cute Dog-O Meter: 3/10
why you remind me of childhood dog? plz dont make me cry. crying gets in the way of seeing cute dogs
Cute Dog-O Meter: 9/10
thank you for dog stories please write more thank you
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 20:17|
face of dumb grammar
but ears once loved for fierce hunts
from age to age stand
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 21:07|
Finding Fido 194 words (drat 200 words is short)
Again with the howling. Every night for the last month, that damned stray has kept you awake; the clock stares at you angrily from your bedside table. Beside it sits your empty bottle of Nyquil. “Tonight it ends” you think to yourself as you put on slippers. The door opens to a cool night, better than the summer days. Another howl from the little hill behind your house as you shut the door. The moon provides you enough light to make your way out and up, and then you see the howler. This runt has been keeping you awake? You can see his ribs peeking through his skin, his fur the dark curling gold of a retriever. It's a mutt, and as you approach it stops howling and looks at you. It's tongue leaves its mouth and it smiles, a glint of happiness in its eye. It comes to you and licks at your hands, and you can't help but pick it up. drat things going to cost you money as well as sleep now, you think for just one second as it licks the tears you didn't even know where falling from your face.
|# ? Jul 28, 2015 21:41|
IT'S TOO drat HOT FOR THUNDERDOME 155 RESULTS
So after a week featuring unpleasant heat and humidity, surprise (but welcome) houseguests, and various maladies (some of which were indeed heat-related), I sure was glad to have your stories to turn to in my hour of need.
Let us not speak of those among us who melted before the challenge of writing a story, though two late submissions (by SadisTech and Bompacho) will, though disqualified, receive critiques. Eventually.
Low Effort Bullshit from an idiot baby-man by Nubile Hillock certainly lived up to its title, and thank Christ that Sweat Tea In A Tin Can by Jonked didn't live up to its own. These obvious heatstroke victims take this week's DMs. I recommend drinking lots of fluids and writing better words.
Centurium's I reckon you think you've been saved is our losing entry for the week. The good news is, there's nowhere to go but up! Or, you know, laterally, but let's focus on going up.
Sleep In The Dark by Kaishai and Signals of Doubt and Uncertainty by Grizzled Patriarch have earned this week's HMs.
And finally, this week's winner is You Can't Catch Every Portrait In A Picture Frame, by Tyrannosaurus.
Welcome back to the throne, T-Rex. It's all yours now.
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:17|
dogs part 2
haikus are dumb
dogs dont know what syllables are
this one isn't even good
where's the cute dog?
Cute Dog-O meter: 0/10
poor dog, though why am i crying? i would know if im crying, im a smart man.
Cute Dog-O meter: 6/10
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:20|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:56 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:27|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:57 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:27|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:57 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:27|
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:28|
|# ? Jan 28, 2023 20:36|
|# ? Jul 29, 2015 00:39|