Monday prompt, "Man agonizes over his tornadoes."
A Plague a' Your Thatched-Roof Cottages
Jill’s earliest memories were of huddling around the fire in the village center with her siblings, listening to the village elders tell tales of the many plagues they had weathered. There were, of course, the classic plagues of toads or locusts, but occasionally the gods would mix it up a bit with a plague of aesthetically pleasing sunrises, or a plague of fluffy animals with knowing eyes. One particularly bad year there was a plague of abstract fiery retributions, followed immediately after by a plague of fertility to make it up to the survivors once the gods realized they had actually meant to smite the village to the west.
None of this prepared her for the plague of miniature tornadoes that came in the spring of her 16th year. They struck without warning, small yet strangely fierce. Jill’s father’s potato crop that she had spent hours under the sun caring for had been wholly uprooted, along with Mayor Hank’s herd of sheep, who had bleated helplessly as the wind carried them off past the horizon.
The day after, while Jill was dejectedly slouching outside of her cottage, Hank struggled to drag a heavy-looking crate into the center of town. She disinterestedly watched him for nearly ten minutes until he finally gave up halfway to his destination. Clearing his throat, he hopped atop the makeshift podium to address the villagers, many of whom had similarly begun lying around in depressed heaps after their crops had been destroyed.
“Y’all, we have clearly offended the gods again!” Hank declared. “Now that ain’t exactly rare ‘round here,” he paused for a moment, ready to dodge out of the way of a lightning bolt in case anyone was listening, “but this? This’s somethin’ else. Someone’s gotta go up the mountain and make an offerin’, or we’ll lose everything!” It was known that the closer to the heavens you were, the more likely the gods were to listen, provided you shouted loudly enough.
No one stood up. Seeing the desperation in Hank’s eyes, Jill sighed and approached him. “I’ll do it, Mayor. Stupid wind took Pa’s taters, and that just ain’t right.”
Hank hesitated. “Yer a brave girl, Jill, but ain’t ya a bit young- woah!” Jill picked up the crate, mayor and all, with only a quiet “Hup” of effort. She carefully lifted it above her head, making sure not to dislodge Hank, and held it there a few moments for emphasis.
After she gently set the crate back down, Hank hopped down and nodded solemnly. “We’ll get a travelin’ pack together for ya. Go see the wise ‘un for the offerin’.” Suddenly, people around them started screaming and diving out of the way as another tornado came through, barely missing Hank and taking the box with it. “You should probably hurry,” Hank managed, patting Jill on the back. “May the gods that ain’t mad at the moment be with ya.”
Jill walked, keeping a confused eye on the foul-smelling substance inside the flask the Wise One had given her. Jill had asked how it was anywhere near a respectable offering, but only received cackling in response and decided it wasn’t worth pressing the issue.
The tornadoes grew increasingly frequent and difficult to dodge as she traveled. After Jill’s third day’s walk her pack was snatched by the wind, forcing her to wrestle several boars to death along the way in order to feed herself, clear a rockslide from the mountain trail with her bare hands, and headbutt a goat to establish her dominance. Other than that, her journey was uneventful.
No one had told Jill what to say once she actually made it to the summit, so she had to improvise. “Erm, hi, all y’all almighty ones,” she shouted, presenting the tribute flask above her head. “We're mighty sorry for whatever we did to offend ya! Just tell us where we went wrong and it ain’t gonna happen again, cross my heart!”
A choir of angelic trumpets sounded, and Jill watched awestruck as a piercing light appeared from the heavens. A bearded man in a white robe elegantly descended. Jill hadn’t expected the ruler of the pantheon, the lord of storms, Stormlord to personally answer her plea. She dropped to one knee, head bowed.
“THIS IS ABOUT THE TORNADOES, ISN’T IT.” Stormlord bellowed, his shouts sounding sheepish and stuffy. “THAT ISN’T YOUR FAULT ACTUALLY, SORRY.” Jill took this as a cue to look. Up close, Stormlord looked rather unimpressive. His face was flushed, and he was audibly sniffling.
“It isn’t, yer lordship?” Jill asked, trying to avoid staring.
“NO. I-ACHOO,” Stormlord sneezed, and through some miraculous instinct Jill sidestepped out of the way as a tornado burst out from his mouth, blowing down the mountain and out of sight. “IT’S MY ALLERGIES. THEY MAKE A MOCKERY OF MY POWER, AND ALCHEMY DUCHESS REFUSES TO HELP BECAUSE I MADE FUN OF HER COMPLEXION CENTURIES AGO.”
“Bad spring for pollen,” Jill agreed, deciding it was wisest to refrain from commenting on the last bit. “The wise ‘un told me to offer this to you, milordship,” she said, holding out the flask. Stormlord quizzically leaned forward, reaching out to grasp the flask between two gigantic fingers. After a moment’s inspection, he grinned.
“A WISE ONE INDEED! THIS BREW WILL CURE WHAT AILS ME! I MUST REWARD YOU FOR THIS. WHAT DO YOU DESIRE?”
“Well, yer stormliness,” Jill said, “yer awful sneezes -beggin yer pardon- have destroyed our taters, and I ain’t sure we’ll be able to grow more by winter.”
“SAY NO MORE! FAREWELL, STRONG ONE! HA HA HA!” Stormlord’s laugh echoed as he ascended back up to his heavenly home while the divine trumpets played in reverse. Jill stared blankly at the sky for a minute, then shrugged and headed home.
Jill had a peaceful homecoming, discounting the troll she had to throw through a bridge, and when she returned to her village she was greeted with a hero’s welcome by a populace in the midst of a plague of potatoes.
|# ? Jun 5, 2016 20:44|
|# ? Jul 1, 2022 00:57|
Thursday Group Prompt: A man agonizes over potatoes.
Sebmojo Flashrule: Three characters, two secrets, one crime
Bad Seafood KING OF ANIME Flashrule: Two of your characters are engaged in an protracted, ongoing philosophical discussion. They must still feel like people and not just mouthpieces for the views they espouse.
Andy flipped through the thick stack of papers in front of him, most having ACCOUNT IN ARREARS or AMOUNT DUE NOW printed on them in large, intimidatingly red letters. Each bill that Andy scanned through seemed to cause his broad shoulders to droop further and further until he was practically collapsed on the table.
He sat back in his seat and reached for his pint, looking up at the brown and white speckled ceiling through the cigarette and pipe smoke laden air of the King William Ale House. He’d hoped this familiar place would relax him and help him think, but so far nothing but a growing bar tab and deepening sense of desperation seemed to come of it.
“Andy! ‘Aven’t seen you in a while mate!” Said a familiar voice from the door, drawing Andy’s gaze toward a pair of men pulling off gloves and overcoats as they came in out of the cold.
“Been a couple of weeks at least. What’s all this then, Andy?” Said the larger of the two, a portly but strongly built man. Both of the men ambled towards the booth where Andy sat.
“Oh, Jim, Dave, er,” Andy almost spluttered out, franticly grabbing the papers and hiding them under the table. “Its noth-, uh, nothing. Just some mail that piled up a bit.”
“Andy, you need anythin’?” Dave asked while pointing towards the bar. Andy, momentarily too stunned to speak, awkwardly motioned at his beer.
“Two pints of bitter, love!” Dave called to the barmaid, then cursing her under his breath for not hearing him and walking up to it. Jim seated himself with a thump and began to rub his hands together to excise the cold.
Andy’s mind began to race. Surely they had seen the bills or heard the gossip from the other farmers. It wasn’t his fault that 3 of his fields had flooded, or that bloke from the GMO companies had turned out to be fraudster and sold him 4th rate seed potato’s that not even a starving Irishman would buy. Would they laugh and jeer, or just quietly say “there there” and then pretend his life wasn’t unravelling in front of his eyes, or-
“You ok, Andy? You seem a bit distant.” Jim asked, his broad mouth creased into a concerned frown as he searched for a lighter in his front pocket while already having a cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth
“Huh? Oh, just a lot on my mind, Jim.” Andy said, blinking a few time to try and get rid of the cobwebs behind his eyes.
“Ah, say no more. With harvest season round the corner we all got a lot on our plates. ‘Ere, Dave, where are those beers at?” Jim replied knowingly before raising his voice at Dave who was having a small problem trying to carry two mugs of beer while pocketing his change, inevitably spilling a little on the already slightly damp floor.
“You can go get yer own pint next time if yer that impatient.” Dave said coarsely as he set the drinks down with a thump, spilling even more. Jim shot Dave a look, who rolled his eyes and got back up to fetch some napkins to clean up the mess on the table before settling down himself.
“Now that we’re all settled in,” Dave said, wiping some errant foam away from his mouth “Shall we continue where we left off last week?”
“Oh, not this rot again.” Jim scoffed, waving his cigarette encumbered hand dismissively. Andy just stared into his own half-finished beer.
“A well rounded man is a learned man, or so my Beth says. Its important that a man has considered these phiso-, philolig-, piscatorial...”
“Philosophical.” Andy said flatly.
“Thank ye Andy, philosophical issues.” Dave finished triumphantly, his inability to say the word already forgotten.
“Only thing rounded about you is your waist. All this life and death, good and evil, seems a bit heavy and grim for something to talk about at a pub with your mates…” Jim trailed off, his face showing his discomfort with the subject matter.
“Ah, but that’s it, life’s a grim thing. Yer strugglin’ from the day yer born till the day they lay yer in the ground. Nothin’ comes easy, even to successful men such as ourselves.” Dave said punctuating his point with a swing of his beer mug and making an even greater mess. Andy grunted in resentment at being called successful, though Dave mistook it for agreeance and smiled slightly through his thick beard.
“Ah, but a worthwhile struggle surely. I mean, you grow up, make friends, meet the women to be your wife, have children you love. All of that’s got to be worth hardships you’ll face.”
“Theres the rub, Jim. Talkin’ hippo- hypopo-“Jim struggled, looking more annoyed the more confused he got.
“Hypothetically.” Andy muttered
“Hypothetically, those friends will never really know what yer’ problems are, or care even if they did.”
Andy’s despair seized on this point, growing like a fire blazing out of control. Jim and Dave would never really be able to understand Andy’s problems, especially about those damned potatoes. One of them, probably Jim, would make a joke like “Well, yer just stick ‘em in the ground and wait, right?” then laugh and go back to talking about something insipid.
“Or a wife that takes everythin’ out of context and blames ye for all the worlds ills?” Jim continued, blind to the turmoil he was causing Andy.
Andy’s heart skipped a beat. His wife. He hadn’t told her about the problems, always sure he’d find a way out. What would she say? What would she do? Would she leave him and take the kids, or would she stay and just hate him forever? He wanted the earth to swallow him up.
“And kids always have it the hardest, never bien’ the cause of the problem but sufferin’ the most.” Jim finished shaking his head, his melancholy words beginning to get to even himself.
The kids. Oh god, the kids. It took all Andy had not to scream and curse how unfair everything was.
“That’s laying it on a bit thick, Dave.” Jim replied dourly, face pressed into his mug and spirit momentarily depressed.
“A man has ta’ face this sort of thing, Jim. Ask most people at the end of it all and they’ll say it wasn’t worth the sufferin’.” Dave said while shrugging to emphasis his point, leaving the three in silence as they contemplated the discussion.
Andy stood up suddenly, mind set and eyes glazed over. Jim nearly dropped his mug in surprise.
“Got somewhere to be andy?” Dave asked as Andy paid his tab at the counter before quickly turning to leave the pub.
“Yeah, have to take care of something. Oh, borrow your lighter? I’ll have need of it." Andy answered as he gathered up his papers.
“Sure Andy, stay warm out there, chilly tonight.”
“I intend to.”
“Bloody terrible thing.” The pub barkeep says to no one in particular, pushing aside his paper.
“Mhhm.” The barmaid hums in response, too busy to pay him any actual attention.
“Man sets locks himself and his family into their house, sets it alight with them all inside.” The barkeep continues.
“How awful.” The barmaid replies, too busy trying to juggle the current flood of orders to care.
“You know, I think I saw him in here the other night, sat alone over there trying to drink his sorrows away. I could see something was wrong, but god almighty, what would a man have to be agonizing over to drive him that far.” He said mostly to himself as he shook his head in disgust before taking his paper back up and reading the sport section.
|# ? Jun 5, 2016 22:07|
Dear Bad Seafood,
|# ? Jun 5, 2016 22:09|
Thanks for the crits Tyr!
|# ? Jun 5, 2016 22:20|
Monday Prompt: Man Agonizes Over His _ (Domino)
It's Not Always Black and White
Ray narrowed his eyes, and crouched down to balance another domino on the rim of his potted spider plant. Each domino placed brought him closer to his goal, but also set his heart racing just a little bit more. One mistake at this point, a loose shoelace, or a misplaced box, could set the entire chain off, and there wasn’t enough time at this point to set the entire thing up again.
Ray let go of the domino and held his breath, not daring to blink. For a moment, it teetered, threatening to pitch itself into the soil, or worse, into its neighbour, but then it righted itself and remained still. Ray stood up and breathed a small sigh of relief. At least this was almost over with; the plastic container he’d been keeping the dominoes in was almost empty.
First though, he wanted to double-check that the entire set-up was going to work, although at this point it was more like a quintuple-check. Ray ambled into his kitchen, heart jumping into his throat every time he edged close to the chain. The smell of smoke still lingered in the air, but he did his best to ignore it, making sure each domino was still standing, and hadn’t been assaulted by a freak gust or rogue fly. His mother’s hand-me-down cookbooks were finally seeing action after years, serving as dusty steps on to, and down from, the counter, and he’d finally done something with the mound of plates in the sink, even if that was just to balance dominoes on it. His main worry was still with the potato, though. It was supposed to roll from one end of the counter to the other in order to continue the chain, but there were so many factors that could go wrong. Was the potato going to roll straight? Would the dominoes behind it be strong enough to push it to the far side, and if they were, would the potato have enough power to knock over the other domino?
Ray had already tested it multiple times on the kitchen floor, but there was that niggling doubt in the back of his mind that when the time came to actually set the whole thing off, something was just going to go wrong. On the other side of the coin, there was nothing else he could do, if that was the case. If he set it up perfectly and divine intervention prevented it from working properly, well, whatever gods that were looking down clearly didn’t care too much about him. Instead, he checked in the fridge for about the fifteenth time. Nestled in between the microwavable curries and sweet and sour chicken, sat his pride and joy, sitting on a plate and wrapped in Clingfilm. Ray had wanted to make a batch of cupcakes, but his attempt had led to the huge plume of smoke that still lingered in the air. This proper, big chocolate cake had been a much greater success. You couldn’t even see the burnt sections after he’d put the icing on.
Satisfied again that the cake hadn’t been stolen or mysteriously vanished in the past 10 minutes, Ray shut the fridge and headed off to check on the circuit upstairs, forced to edge his way between the two rows of dominoes standing sentinel on the stairs. The path of dominoes led him past the closed door of the spare room, a faint meowing coming from within.
“Sorry Brandy,” Ray said. “But you know you’d just mess everything up. I’ll let you out soon enough, I promise.”
Ray glanced into his room, making sure that the lines of dominoes snaking around his piles of clothes and the legs of his bed were still standing, but before he could check too thoroughly, he heard a noise from downstairs. His heart froze, and Ray span on his heel, waiting to see if he could hear anything else. There was nothing. Yet. Had one of the dominoes tipped over? Or maybe he hadn’t balanced the potato properly and it was now rolling slowly towards one of the dominoes…
Ray was glad no-one could see him as he attempted to sprint downstairs as carefully as possible, trying not to disturb the dominoes, the end result making him look as graceful as a baby deer wearing roller-skates. He almost tripped twice on his journey down the stairs, somehow staying upright as he rounded the corner into the dining room, and with a direct path to the kitchen in front of him, Ray ran straight into the spider plant.
His heart graduated from residing in his throat to just up and leaving his body, as he flew forwards, directly into a line of dominoes. He closed his eyes upon impact, but barely noticed the pain as he hit the floor. His hearing was the only sense he was focusing on; the sound of shattering ceramics, and the terrible sound of hours of work clattering down the drain.
For a few seconds, Ray just lay where he was, face down on the cold wooden floor, eyes closed. Then, the sound of the front door opening cut its way through the never-ending clattering, and he bolted upright, eyes wide open. Oh god. He hadn’t even noticed what time it was, and now it was far, far too late to do anything. A woman walked into the dining room, eyes wide behind her round glasses, looking like a mouse in the headlights.
“Ray, what the hell is going on?”
Ray looked up at her, heart now lodging in the pit of his stomach, and gave her a small, sheepish smile. As he did, the last set of dominoes bumped into one another atop the table, the final one releasing a rolled up banner, the momentum making it flap back and forth. Ray had almost forgotten what he’d written on it.
‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY KAYLEIGH’
Surrounding the words was a cluster of love hearts in pinks and reds, coated in glitter.
Kayleigh stared at the banner for a few seconds, then turned back to Ray. She beamed, and his heart leapt, just like it always did.
|# ? Jun 5, 2016 22:56|
BATTLE OF THE HASHBROWN
Flashrule: Anime Shounen
Flashrule: Super awesome words
“You bitch! How could you do this to me,” Chip yelled incoherently, body fluids flying out from his nose, eyes and mouth. “I slave away at the factory to provide for you and this is how you repay me,” Is what he wanted to say, but it came out as a blubbering rant.
His treacherous potato wife glanced up at him with all her guilty eyes as she miserably laid in bed juxtaposed to a zaftig pile of tater tots. In a rousing defense, she kept quiet.
Chip got his poo poo together and wiped his nose on his shirt, ruining the fabric with his copious mucosa. “I tried to meet your needs, baby, but it’s hard!”
His wife was having none of his lip and countered with a profound silence.
Chip’s eyebrows shot up his forehead in a comical fashion. “What do you mean, ‘You did this for us’? The two of you were waiting for me to get home to surprise me?”
His wife and her friend were frozen in a tableau of succulence, inviting Chip to join them in polyamorous bliss. All he needed to do was accept their starchy embrace.
“You’ll never have my wife!” he bellowed, lunging across the bed. He snatched the pile of tater tots in his hand and crushed them until they squeezed between his sausage fingers. He snapped his arm outward and the pile of mush that once was a sexy pile of tater tots slapped audibly against the bedroom wall. “As for you,” Chip growled, turning his gaze to his wife, “you’re going to get what coming to you.”
In a deliberate move, Chip squirted Heinz 57 on his wife in a disgustingly sexualized manner. He fell upon her, teeth cutting past her skin and into the starchy insides. Her lifeless eyes stared outward as her husband tore chunks out of her.
Chip ate his wife loudly, liberally applying the condiment before each bite savoring the fifty-seven different ingredients. It wasn’t long until he was curled up on the bed hugging himself tightly. He began to bawl. “I didn’t even give you a name!” he wailed.
“I don’t need a motherfucking name.”
Chip sat up and turned toward the voice. He shielded his eyes from the floating and glowing potato.
“You have devoured me for the final time. It’s time for you to meet your maker.” The potato streaked across the room and collided with Chip, sending him skittering across the bed and tumbling over the edge in a flurry of blankets and limbs.
The potato pulled Chip up by the shirt and slapped him across the face. “Are you ashamed?!” she vibrated in the precise pattern to form those words without the use of vocal cords.
“Never!” Chip headbutted the potato and it shot across the room to impale itself against a wall. “You’re delicious and I love eating you with with soup and meat with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste! Holy gently caress, I’m hungry again!”
The potato exploded from the wall and levitated in front of Chip. “You mustn’t be allowed to live to devour my kind anymore!” Electricity arced from the potato as it gathered it’s strength. “I, Salty Yam, will end you!”
Chip unsheathed a fork and knife and faced his supernatural foe. “I thought you didn’t need a name,” he quipped.
Salty Yam bobbed in the air, its features belying nothing. “You’re facing death by potato and my lying about having a name is what you’re taking from this?”
“I live on the internet,” he said, expertly flourishing his dinnerware and settling into an anime inspired fighting stance with no actual basis in real world martial arts. “Weird poo poo is my middle name.”
“DIE!” The potato erupted forward, delivering deadly blows in the span of one blink.
Chip flailed his arms in a convincingly uncoordinated manner, but each attack was parried accompanied by a sound similar to machine gun fire. The window in his room succumbed to the sudden change in air pressure and exploded out, showering the grass with glittering shrapnel.
The two combatants were a blur as they defied physics in their struggle for dominance. Each death dealing blow was expertly parried with a thunderous clap. Each riposte turned aside with a counterattack of their own. Their dance of death was a maelstrom of destruction and the house was quickly crumbling around them.
After a vicious collision, the earth opened up and swallowed the house in its gaping maw. Chip had multiple open wounds and spreading bruises along his soft doughy body while Salty Yam was peeled in a couple of places.
“It’s not too late to run away,” said Chip. He grinned. “You’re looking… a little fried.”
Salty Yam shrieked and closed the distance between them breaking the speed of sound and Chip’s dick.
Salty Yam hovered behind Chip covered in his blood and reproduction system. Chip quivered. His blond afro returned to it’s natural black and greasy state he slowly lost the ability to levitate.
Chip coughed blood and laughed weakly. “It seems like… I’ve been foiled.” He passed out due to blood loss and fell into the darkness of the earth.
Salty Yam rested a pair of sunglasses on her body and turned to look at the setting sun. “It’s about time someone lay Chip to rest.”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 00:19|
Monday Flash Rule: Don't feel like writing about potatoes? Your man can now agonize over whatever his heart desires.
Flash Rule: Man agonizes over his paseo
Flash Rule: Story takes place between breaths
Tabby breathed in deep and looked at her reflection in the greasy, finger-marked mirror. Her face still stung from the hot towel that she had used to strip off the makeup, but her reflection filled with a giddy, jagged restlessness.
She looked plain, a “Plain Jane” as her father might say—as he did—about Tabby’s principal. Whenever he was forced into an office or classroom, he would squeeze Tabby’s shoulders in supposedly fatherly affection. Between his “yeahs” and “uh-huhs,” he would rub a greasy thumb against her flesh. When no one was looking, he would flash vulgar smiles. Tabby would respond with quiet coldness.
Tabby unrolled the fabric of her skirt and let it drape below her knee. She wanted to make herself look more serious. More respectable. Then, sneaking past her father’s room, she skirted through the backdoor and into the setting summer sun.
“Hey, I wasn’t sure you’d come,” said Mr. Rollins from his front stoop. Tabby wasn’t sure how long he’d been sitting there, but he there was sweat running down his steepled fingers and his back popped as he shifted towards her. His sunburned face reminded her, stupidly, of red potatoes. She extended her hand. He paused before grabbing it.
“Yeah,” she said as he gripped onto her and lifted himself up. “I had to ask my dad for permission first.”
“Ah, gotcha,” said Mr. Rollins with none of his usual confidence. Mr. Rollins was Tabby’s English teacher. He had a vibrant smile and was one of the only people that didn’t look at her with deep sadness or disgust. He never mentioned her absences or her father’s hungry leers. Instead, he and Tabby had formed a bond. A mutual respect that went beyond her ratty clothes. Her body.
And because of that bond, she had poured herself into his class. She had slit open her belly and exposed the dark, mean parts of herself. Tabby, ratty and sullen, needed someone to notice. Someone to care about what happened behind closed doors. And she had gotten her answer after her last assignment.
“Really nice job, Tabitha.” Mr. Rollins had scrawled in the corner margin. “Let’s talk about this later, alone.”
Tabby had crumpled the assignment into her bag and ignored the manic beating of her heart. She had gone through the dull motions of school. She sat through her classes. She pretended not to see the smug, pitiless glances of the other girls. She tried to ignore the graffiti in the bathroom, the leering boys in the hallways, and the giggling whispers that were always just loud enough to hear. Then she went home and endured her father’s wolfish hunger—as she always did—blank-faced and mute.
But when she was alone in her room, she had carefully uncrumpled the torn pages and reread the note. She had read and reread Mr. Rollins’s words until his scrawl had encoded itself on the inside of her eyelids. “Really nice job, Tabitha. Let’s talk about this later, alone.”
Tabby waited for Mr. Rollins to say something. A moment ticked by. The low drone of cable news echoed out of a neighbor’s window.
Finally, Tabby cleared her throat. “Did you, uh, want to talk about my paper out here? Or should we...”
Tabby thought about her father and what he would do if he found her gone. Panic gripped her, but Mr. Rollins seems distracted. He massaged the skin on his ring finger and turned. An older man without a shirt jogged by and waved to them. Mr. Rollins gave a reluctant wave back. “No, let’s take a walk.”
They walked in silence for a long while. The sun sank below the horizon and dark purple splotches erupted across the sky. They had long since passed the houses in Mr. Rollins’s neighborhood and had entered a new, unfamiliar territory. A terra incognita, filled with skeletal half-finished buildings. The dark husks loomed over them.
Tabby glanced over to Mr. Rollins. He was somehow even sweatier than he had been when they started. He looked conflicted, agitated. Her panic was a scream inside her head. An air raid siren blasting at full-volume. He was just trying to be nice. No one can help you. No one will ever help you. Just leave before your father finds you gone because there won’t be anything left afterward.
Just as she considered leaving, Mr. Rollins spoke. “Every story has negative space. Things that are implied or suggested but can’t be said out loud.”
Tabby stopped walking, a strange mix of fear and excitement frothed inside her. Mr. Rollins turned and looked at her before nodding his head towards the curb. They sat themselves down on it. The power lines hummed with potential energy.
“So… you got it?” Tabby said with a dry, almost frog-like voice. The evening air was intoxicating. A swarm of flies glittered under a nearby lamppost.
“Tabby,” he said, with commitment now in his voice. “You’ve always been a very persuasive writer. I could tell from the beginning that you had something to say.”
He laid his damp hand on Tabby’s thigh. He slid his hand upward, pushing his hand against Tabby’s skirt. She looked at it. A beat passed. And then another. And then the magic of the night shattered. There would be no grand revelations. No sobbed-out confessions or restitutions. She looked at his face and saw for the first time his own manic desperation and loneliness. She had never been anything real to him.
Really nice job.
She breathed out and let him rub his greasy thumb against her tan skin, because that’s all she would ever be.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:03|
flash rules: Your story must involve someone who has to find some genuine goddamn humility and ask for help/a favor; tuesday bonus word: monsterful
The Green on the Other Side
The crops weren’t growing. Again. Second year in a row, the soil was ripe with nothing but the failed hopes and dreams of baby potatoes. Planted, watered and rotten. Their leaves should be dotting the field right now, but Ruben just looked at the same barren wasteland every morning, brown and dull all the way out to the next farm, to Simon’s farm, the farm of his brother. Over there, everything grew just fine.
It boggled his mind. Again.
He’d done everything right. Just like their father had. Planted by the same schedule. Used the same brand of fertilizer. Watered them in the morning, checked the soil each evening, dug out a root once a week just to check progress. Until they’d just - poof - vanished, shriveled back up into little veggie corpses.
He couldn’t afford another failed harvest. His farm was already barely hanging on as it was. Rust on the machines and cheap tar on the roof, it wasn’t in shape so much as it was desperately trying not to fall out of it. Even the rats were meager.
He didn’t know what he did wrong. But he knew somebody who, obviously, did it right.
He had to bite the bullet.
He had to visit Simon.
Ruben’s gut churned up as soon as he stepped out his truck. At his brother’s farm, everything was pristine. The house was painted a fresh turquoise and the roof still had all its shingles and there were boxes of produce piled up in the barn, wafts of fresh carrot and starchy potato spicing up the air with every gust of wind.
This was how a farm was supposed to look.
He hadn’t talked much to Simon since their father had died. They’d both gotten their fifty-percent share of his old farm, and they’d set up their respective corners on this earth and for as long as Ruben hadn’t taken his brother’s calls, that had been it, and it could have gone on like that forever for all he cared.
He stepped up to the house, and his fist hovered in the air, shy, like it was thinking of a way to ask the front door out for dinner. Finally, it opened on its own.
Simon hadn’t changed much: he still wore oversized baggy pants, and sunglasses inside, and a fuzzy beard that suggested he only shaved ever once in a while, when too much cheeto dust caught up in it. In some ways he was a walking 90’s kid meme, and he’d been like that since, well, the 90’s.
“Bro,” he said. “What’s up?”
“Long time no see, huh?”
“Tell me about it.” He opened the door and Ruben stepped in, slowly, as if he was expecting to be ambushed by solid wafts of marijuana smoke. The air remained clean. It was a nice place in general. No empty pizza boxes, no bong on the couch table, but flowers, and scented candles and pictures of a woman above the fireplace.
“Found a girl?” he said.
“Hell yeah, dude.” Simon had disappeared into the kitchen, shouting over his back as he was opening drawers. “I met her at the farmer’s market. She bought a bunch of my veggies, for soup. Came back every time I had a booth up, and I used to be there, like, a lot.” He came back out with a bottle of apple cider and two glasses. “It took me a while before I twigged that nobody needs that much vegetable broth.”
“She looks nice.”
They sat down at the couch table, and the recliner that Ruben had been ushered into was one of the finest drat things his buttocks had ever made contact with. You could kill someone in these cushions. They wouldn’t mind.
“And the farm? Everything going well for you?” he said.
“Totally. Going to be another monsterful harvest this year.”
“That’s nice. Dad would be proud of you, man.”
Ruben had never been a good liar. Yet, it had come off as sincere.
Because he’d actually meant it.
His brother had used to be nothing but a stoner loser. Always the one who’d have to be bailed out. From the cops, from the loan sharks. But this wasn’t his old brother anymore. This was someone who was, in every aspect, better. Better than the old Simon. But also better than Ruben.
“So how are things on your end?” Simon said.
Ruben set down his glass and took a sigh, like he was breathing out his last bit of resistance.
“My farm’s a failure.”
“Come on, bro. That’s not true.”
“It’s not like you can’t see it from here.” He took a deep gulp from his glass, buying time, as if it wouldn’t all have to come out anyway. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve tried everything. I’ve done it just like dad used to do. I just-- I dunno.”
The penny dropped for Simon. He leaned back in his chair, and he took a sip from his cider, and for a second, his lips tightened up like those of a disapproving mother. But then his face mellowed out again. Because that was his brother. So what if Ruben hadn’t called in two years. So what if he’d only come because he needed something. That was Simon. Chill. To the core.
“I can help you,” he said. “My veggies are doing fine.”
Ruben twisted the glass in his hands. His reflection frowned back at him through the amber cider. “If you… if you’d like.”
“I’d love to,” Simon said. He leaned forward and put a hand on Ruben’s knee. Just like their father had used to do, when things had seemed tough and there’d been cheering up to do. “But first you gotta show me your crib.”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:07|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 21:39 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:19|
Flash Rule: No character may speak (sebmojo)
Flash Rule: Thursday Flash Rule (Anime- Mecha Genre) - word limit increased to 1300
Flash Rule: Your protagonist is disguised as a member of the opposite sex for plot reasons. Nobody notices. (Bad Seafood) (NB: I done hosed up on this one, shame on me)
***radio bands L, S, C, X jammed – you’re on your own***
Eva sighed, staring blankly into the auxiliary display at her hip. The letters flickered up at her, pixelated green-on-black amidst the white glare of the cockpit’s central screens. She looked up, squinting through her flight helmet at the radar overlay on her right. Like her radio and magnetometer readouts, it did nothing but gargle noise at her, completely defeated by her pursuer’s electronic warfare module.
She released the starboard controls, moving her gloved hand to the telegraph display’s keyboard. So this was the only way to talk to the flight commander now, was it? Its narrowband signal was admittedly stable in the face of an electronic attack, but… typing while flying? She briefly considered a reply, but an urgent pang in her gut swiftly brought her hands back to the control sticks. She leaned forward, scanning the vast cloudbanks that surrounded her fighter.
How long had it been since she’d seen the enemy?
Half a mile below, the transport soared on its enormous wings, a great silver bumblebee that happily scorned gravity. Even from up here, she could see the blackened scorches on its number-four turbine, its drive shaft torn up by gunfire. For now, it flew on only three steams of thrust. If another one were hit, however...
Eva gritted her teeth, her gaze lingering on the transport’s aft bays. Not a single gun nor fighting vehicle was stowed in its vast innards, its only armament the old fighter that Eva had volunteered to fly. However, there was enough raided harvest in there to feed an army for two months. Two months to live, to turn the war around…
To her left, a glint of reflected sunlight flashed in Eva’s eyes. There it was, the hostile fighter making its move!
Submitting to reflex, Eva pushed her fighter into a dive. It complied stiffly, tucking its angular arms close to its torso as it dropped from the edge of the clouds. A warbling tingle spun its way from Eva’s tailbone to her ribs as she plunged, killing the tension, erasing anxiety and duty and mortality in those brief moments. There was nothing quite like the dive…
Eva swung her head to scan the sky, her body still pressed tight into the sudden plummet.
The enemy was nowhere to be seen.
Now almost level with the transport, Eva pulled her fighter up and swung its silver legs forward. Firing the yaw thrusters to make a swift turn, she tilted the sensor module up. The crosshairs centred, focusing on the patch of sky from which she’d just flown.
For a second, there was nothing. Then, like a cat pouncing, a sleek form tore its way out of the thick cloudbank.
Eva growled in frustration. She’d fallen for a feint.
The hostile craft’s thrusters howled as it descended on her, its body bristling and wasp-like in the sun. It was a terrible beauty just to watch it fly. In the moment it took her fighter to level its rifle, something low and deep pulsed in the pit of Eva’s stomach. It was becoming clear now, why only a lone unit had come after them. It seemed deadly enough to get the job done without any support. Probably a high-power prototype. Its pilot probably considered this a game.
The crosshairs blinked red, as the rifle was brought to bear. It fired in a churning staccato, spitting lead in a rough, desperate cone. The enemy fighter twirled aside and adjusted its arc of flight, swooping around Eva’s shots with startling agility. As it curved around to face her again, extending the cannons mounted on its forearms, she mashed frantically at the controls to force her fighter to one side.
The cockpit lurched, and Eva saw black spots at the corners of her vision as her fighter spun evasively. A cascade of white-hot rays shrieked from the enemy’s dark arms, flashing past Eva’s fighter like thunderbolts. She stifled a gasp, feeling their heat through her flight suit.
Raw instinct hit Eva, and she slammed on the pedals to turn her fighter around. At least for now, just right now she had to try and escape, make some distance between herself and this thing…
Something at her side bleeped. She glanced down, a single bead of sweat rolling down her brow. A new telegraph message blinked from the auxiliary screen.
***lure to bay doors***
Eva pulled up on the controls with quivering hands, climbing her fighter in a clumsy corkscrew. She turned her back on the enemy with rough abandon, her vision narrowing as she laid eyes on the transport once more. Many thoughts skittered and looped through her forebrain as she zigzagged across the sky- flee, eject, surrender, hide.
When her hands finally steadied and her breathing slowed, those thoughts had faded. All that remained were the telegraph’s words.
Her fighter was drawn close to the transport when she spun to face the attacker again, both machines dwarfed by its bulbous profile. In all the time that Eva fled, the enemy fighter had not fired on her again. Now, it careened towards her with a kind of playful aggression, its segmented hands extended into sharp talons. Oh, this was definitely a game.
Eva tilted her fighter and thrusted forward, casting its rifle into the open air as it surged its narrow body toward her foe. The enemy fighter mirrored her maneuver, rushing to meet her talons-first. A horrific crunch and whine of fatigued steel tore at her ears as they collided, instantly setting off an array of klaxons and warning lights in the cockpit. Eva felt her head crack back against the seat, throttled by her own safety harness…
The sensor display stuttered as her vision blurred, the enemy fighter a spindly black blob that raised an arm above its head…
Another impact. More lights and klaxons, red and loud and desperate…
…a bleep, at her hip.
Eva’s eyes snapped open. The growl began low in her throat as she fumbled for the thruster control, the enemy fighter still gripping hers grimly, its claws flecked with silver fuselage. The growl became a raw scream as the lateral thrusters engaged, pulling the two fightercraft into a sudden pitch towards the towering aft bay doors.
Eva dug her crippled fighter’s hands into its shoulder plating, buckling the burnished steel with galvanised fingers as she pushed its dark body into the path of the bay doors. The enemy twisted in Eva’s grip, insectoid legs thrashing as it fought to be free from the dance it no longer led.
And as they tumbled into place, Eva could hear the bay doors begin to tear open, shearing violently from a force within. Her scream ended with little more than a breathless snarl as she swung her fighter back and inverted its thrust, leaving the enemy behind with another shriek of twisting steel.
She was barely ten feet clear of the aft bay when its entire cargo ripped its way out through the buckling doors. One hundred and eighty-two tons of potatoes, enough to feed an army for two months, struck the enemy fighter in a single, solid impact.
Eva sank back in her seat and watched millions of potatoes scatter into the air, interspersed here and there with the mangled, shattered remains of a high-powered fighter. She glanced around the confines of the buckled cockpit, idly wondering whether she’d be able to fly it into the aft bay without too much trouble…
Eva looked down.
***better than losing the whole transport – return to hangar and disembark***
A wide grin broke on Eva’s lips. Maybe they would all starve, soon.
But at least she didn’t have to do so on her own.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:44|
Prompt: A narcoleptic man agonizes over potatoes. Sight and
Word count: 969.
To Understand the Moon
The Boy lay in bed for weeks watching the moon wane and then wax. It was, he felt, his only companion. Visible every night from his bedroom window, singing him to sleep with the same joyful lullaby; the full moon is coming, the full moon is coming.
He had been plotting and planning his escape ever since the Woman had come into his room. She was at first a figure that hovered in the margins, lingering in the shadows, whenever the Doctor came. Then, slowly, the Boy began to catch glimpses of her inside his own room. He hid under his covers whenever she drew near, her face, scattered and torn with a distended eyeball and a swirling shape for a mouth, had frightened him.
The Boy prayed for her to go away, and after spending some time futzing with his potato plants, which sat in glasses and jars, and covered nearly every surface in the room, she would return to her shadows. This, most of all, is what made the Boy dislike the Woman. The plants were his and Josephine’s, she had no right to touch them.
The Boy was sick, though he knew not with what. He recalled an accident with roaring sounds, the gnashing of metal against metal, sparkling rainbows in fragments of glass, and a pain that had upended the world. He was told not to concern himself with the accident, or the absent Josephine. Yet he could not forget Josephine. He would lay in bed and try as best as he could to recall her face. He could recall the days when he played in the garden, hopping around pretending to be Peter Rabbit escaping from the miserly Mr. McGregor. Josephine, Peter Rabbit’s mother, was always there with him. She would sit on the stone wall surrounding the garden singing a song which the Boy hopped to, a wreath of violet potato flowers in her auburn hair.
There was no more Josephine, and the illness that kept the Boy in bed made his world fold and bend, twist and turn, and spin him around and around until he could neither stand up straight, nor even sit up. He lay in bed for weeks, dizzy and unsure of when and where.
When the night of the full moon came he was ready, slipping from his bed to the floor with delicate grace. He shuffled around the room, gripping the posts of his bed, then clinging with his fingernails to the chair rail along the walls, and gathered up as many of the budding potatoes as he dared. He stuffed them into a pillowcase and when he was done he had over a dozen soaking the end of the pillowcase.
The Boy carefully crept on all fours through the hallway toward the stairs, careful both due to his balance and the presence of the Woman down the hall. He knew that if she were to find him out of his bed it would spell the end of his endeavour. She would return him to his room, and like Mr. McGregor would, take away his potatoes.
At the edge of the stairs, the Boy stood gazing down the many flights. They wrapped around themselves like the chambers of a Nautilus’ seashell (he had one on his shelf, a gift from Josephine) spiralling inward toward some infinitesimally small point never to be reached. But the Boy had puzzled out a solution. He lay down flat on the floor, scooted his butt to the edge of the first step, closed his eyes, and slid down. He repeated the action again and again, losing all sense of direction, only knowing he was progressing due to the repeated bumping of his butt against the carpeted step. But the Boy had not taken into account the noise his pillowcase full of potatoes would make as he slinked down the stairs.
He heard a noise from somewhere far away - he could not tell if it came from above or below - and stopped his progression down the stairs. A tightness gripped his chest, it was the Woman. No, the Boy assured himself, it’s only my imagination.
The floor creaked.
His heart beat faster, it was the Woman. He froze, hoping, praying, that if he were perfectly still and quiet the Woman would turn back around and return to her room. Instead the creaking of the floor grew ever closer. Soon the Woman’s face loomed somewhere near that infinitesimally small point.
The Boy lifted himself up into a sitting position, the house swam in a flurry of motion nearly sending him falling back. His free hand grabbed the railing and with his feet kicking he pulled himself down the steps as quickly, though noisily, as he could.
He hit the bottom, his hand was still on the railing, and he struggled to stand up. The world grew dim - No, no, no! Thought the Boy, I cannot go now! There was no choice, his vision blurred and he slumped to the floor.
The Boy awoke in the garden amidst a field of flowers, which in-spite of the darkness he knew the pedals were violet with yellow stamens. Potato plants. Just as hope began to dawn in him, he saw that the night sky was as bereft of the moon as he was of Josephine.
He was too late.
He lay wrapped in a blanket, his head resting on a soft surface that smelled of lilac, a thigh, though he cared not to whom it belonged. The Boy began to cry. A hand brushed his hair and the Boy looked up. At first he saw the Woman, but then he noticed the wreath of potato flowers on her head, and knew at once that it was his Josephine.
“I missed the moon,” said the Boy.
“It’s okay, the moon will always be there.”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:56|
I forgot this: Sight and Equilibrioception.
TLDR: I love my mommy :3
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 01:57|
Wednesday flashrule: Sight and Pain
As I sit in the cafeteria at an empty table I know only two things: Potato is the greatest thing known to man. And I have no potatoes.
My potato ration was dutifully received for the week of Five in the Third Year of Councilor Clark. He did not take my potatoes. He does not live here, I think. I have never seen him in these tunnels or working in the grow-pits. He is only on the screens.
No. It was some more pernicious thief. Someone who stole into my dwelling during the sleep-cycle and absconded with all my nutritive wealth. Someone who had the ability to carry out more than fifty potatoes all at once and remove them without ever once waking me.
Mine is not a large dwelling. I do not sleep far from the door, as there is little room. We all have equal dwellings, of course.
Potatoes are not mere sustenance as every child knows. They provide light or Power when wires are attached with the Metals. They are fuel and construction material.
I go for a purposeful walk. I find Worm Raiser Farank in the tunnel to the Health Station. I inquire with him as to the whereabouts of my potatoes. I am not well-received and inquire more vigorously. Farank protests with his fists and I magnanimously give way that he might move on as is his wont.
The side of the head hurts but it is nothing compared to the hunger-pain. I have not eaten today. I have no potato. Potato is all. Potato is life.
The tunnels are dark due to the Rationing. There is little Power now to go around and around, and so we must all make sacrifices for the good of the Hole System. I wish I had a potato-light to see by. But I have no potato.
I come to the Health Station.
There are no potatoes inside.
I inquire with the Head Nurse Roberts as to potential whereabouts of my Potatoes. He says no, there are no potatoes here and he has not seen my potatoes. I thank him and continue searching under the desks and inside the cabinets. Head Nurse Roberts requests that I leave. I thank him and look in the Sick-Rooms.
The patients are not hiding potatoes, probably. They have no pockets being worn. I am led out of the Health Station by Head Nurse Roberts by the arm. It leaves dark red marks on my arm. The marks take several painful minutes to recede.
I continue down the tunnel. Now it opens onto the Research Lab. We are not allowed into the Research Lab. They say we will contaminate the samples and ruin the research. How can we contaminate the samples? I am not sick. I am fine. The research is for the good of the community and improving the Lives. How can we ruin the research?
I tap vigorously on the glass of the Research Lab. I can see potatoes in the Research Lab. They are on the tables in the middle of the room. They are not my potatoes, they are blue. But I am hungry and I am not thinking so clearly when I am hungry.
An angry face appears in the window. She looks like she is yelling at me but there is no sound. I watch her yell for a minute.
I point at the potatoes. This makes her mad and she makes the mouth-movements again.
I have not found my potatoes, still.
I continue down the tunnel. It curves back towards the common area.
I pass a woman with a bundle. I have seen her in the grow-pits, I think. I inquire with her as to my potatoes and receive no response. I request to please examine the contents of that parcel, louder. She is not happy and swings the bag at my head. I dodge it mostly and grab it and now I have the bag. I start to run. I do not have a destination.
I reach the common area and look around. The light is low, even here: we must all make the sacrifices. Some people are sitting and looking at me and the bag I hold over my head. I take it to a seating area and sit down and open it. It is full of hard thin boxy things with some shiny straight lines on one side of them.
They are not credit chits? But something like big credit chits? I am confused.
I go to my dwelling. It is not my sleep-cycle but I return to bed regardless. I am not, will not be productive today. Possibly I can trade these big chits for potatoes? Surely there is someone who has excess potatoes but yet longs for big lineated chits.
I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling. Sleep eventually comes like the thief in the night who stole my potatoes.
There is a strange sound. Again. Banging. I climb out of bed. Someone is banging on the door.
I open it. People burst through and surround me and pull me to the ground. I express my displeasure. I receive a knee on the neck in response. I can see nothing but dirty footprints on my floor.
I keep my displeasure to myself. I am a “thief” and a “danger to the community”, they say.
I am a “victim” and an “aggrieved party,” I explain.
But I am bound in biting tight restraints and silenced. I am marched out of my home in full view of the colony. The people stare and the people loathe. Likewise.
I am brought to the Health Station and the Health Injections are brought to me. The needles stab. I do not like this but I avoid much complaint. The bindings have made sure of this. My arms grow heavy my head drops I just wanted to know who took my potatoes? I’ll find my potatoes... one day... one day...
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 02:01|
A historical, psychological, seinen story. Plus the word crapulous.
A Bad Man for a Good Cause
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:14 on Jan 2, 2017
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:06|
Sorry, I won't have a story in by the deadline. My depression has been murdering me this weekend. ##retract or whatever.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:16|
Ironic Twist fucked around with this message at 03:31 on Dec 30, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:20|
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:21|
No story here. Muse death by heat, basically. Thanks, lovely California summers!
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:32|
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:37|
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:41|
Man agonizes over poo poo.
TUESDAY: Options: Use 4 of these words: Euphoric, Diffident, Eclectic, Lackadaisical, Crapulous, juxtapose,
WEDNESDAY: SECOND CHOICE: You will quote this post and choose one of the five senses (Smell, sight, taste, touch, sound).
PLUS ANOTHER ONE: Proprioception
THURSDAY: ANIME GENRE: MUSIC
I didn't set out to hit every day's prompt, but they kind of started to fit.
MAG7'S FLASH RULE: must contain any two of: young whippersnapper, proving old farts wrong, changing the world, rocking, growing old, overdoses, Fentanyl.
Title: BLUESDADS DON'T KNOW WHEN TO QUIT.
Every gig began with a fight.
"Can't you stick around a bit?" She said. "Wait 'til the movie ends?"
James paused, one hand on the doorknob, the other slowly losing grip on a guitar case, a mic stand, guitar cables and a tiny ziplock baggie.
Maybe Lucy thought he was too old. Maybe she was embarrassed for him because he didn't get it.
"For twenty minutes you've watched me drag poo poo to the car, tracking down guitar strings and picks, right?"
"Don't forget this one daddy!" His four-year-old ran up with an orange guitar pick, extended like a sword.
He tousled the boy's hair. "Thanks Randy, I'll bring it back when I'm done."
Lucy frowned. "Can't you at least wait 'til Marlin finds Nemo?"
This was all part of their routine.
After checking his nose in the rearview mirror, he punched the key in the ignition and drove to Chet's.
"You know we start in fifteen minutes right?" Chet said, digging his own key into the ziplock baggie.
"We'll make it." James pinched his nostrils and snorted. Chet did the same.
Twenty minutes later, guitar cases in each hand, they wove through the thin crowd of regulars. Behind the bar, Carl had two beers waiting. "Glad you boys could make it."
Solomon was already behind his drums. He tapped his nose then pointed at James. "Not hiding it too well."
James rubbed his nose, saw the white powder on his finger and licked it off.
To Chet he said, "Could've said something in the car asshat."
Solomon resumed fiddling with a drum, not looking up. "You guys see Dave back there?Asked if he could get up and do a tune or two. If it's cool with you."
"You still play in his band?" James said.
The drummer shrugged. "It's not so bad. He's about to sign a deal. Chet plays with him too."
"You think it's right? Playing my stuff, as well as his eclectic poo poo?"
Chet laughed. "Whatever gets you there, right?"
"There's principles man. Principles."
James emptied the beer, tapped the live mic with the empty bottle until Carl looked over. "Another one?"
Carl nodded. "Soon as you guys start playing."
In the bathroom, it was Chet's turn with the baggie while James checked his nose in the mirror.
"You think this poo poo annoys Solomon, now that he's clean?"
Chet snorted. "He knew us before he got clean. We're the only ones didn't judge him before it all went down, and he won't judge us for staying true to who we are, right?"
"He said that?"
Chet shrugged. "Not in so many words."
"Like, not in any words at all, I'm guessing?"
Chet laughed and handed the key and the baggie to James. "Does it matter? Would you quit if you knew it bugged him?"
"Hey I don't have a problem with this poo poo. Never did. I just like the way it smells."
James went the long way around the bar, sneaking up behind Dave who was deep in conversation with Carl.
"It's cool that he still plays out," Dave said. "I love bluesdads who keep it going."
"A bluesdad? That's what you call him?"
"You know what I mean. Old guy like that, still gigging. It takes a lot, you know?"
"Your mom doesn't call me old." James said, his grin taking a little more effort.
"Great to see you James!"
"Wanna play a couple towards the end of this set?"
"That'd be great James! If you're okay with it."
Dave's smile was so genuine it had to be fake.
A shot was beside the mic stand and Chet was downing an identical one. "From Dave," Solomon said.
"Is he like that in rehearsals? Just so goddamn nice?"
More shots came during the set, James chased each with a beer. His nose ran, leaving white crusty streaks on his microphone, which made Chet laugh, which made Solomon roll his eyes.
Solomon's lackadaisical demeanor—on the verge of a nap—juxtaposed his monsterful playing. He was a clock whose ability to lock in with Chet's bass allowed James to forget everything else.
It was euphoric moments like this where everything fell away.
His fingers autonomously found their way, thick callouses pushing into strings with a muscle memory developed from decades of playing.
He forgot the crippling diffidence, buried under narcissism, buried under feigned humility.
He forgot the corkscrew, needling nerves at the base of his spine from years of playing for hours with twelve-pound guitars, the ringing in his ears. And that goddamn punkass little poo poo who was everything he was twenty years ago except maybe better at hiding his disgust of the people who knew he's nowhere near as good as he thinks he'll ever get.
The song ended. Drunks ordered more rounds.
He asked Dave to come up and play.
Alone in the bathroom, he collected the remaining contents of the baggie with his key. The shots calmed him down, the powder brought him up. He was always chasing the perfect balance.
Before the last snort, he laughed at two blurred reflections in the mirror. Once the keys were back in his pocket, he puked into the toilet.
The band, fronted by the kid with the pretty voice and ripped off licks, pounded in his ears.
"Am I that loud?" He asked between retches, and then puked two more times, gripping the poo poo-stained toilet for balance.
Regarding his faces in the mirror, he laughed, wiping snot and bile hanging from his nose.
He raised his phone to speed dial the cab outside the bar. The lock screen had a text message.
"DONT 4GET MILK N CEREAL ON TEH WAY HOME."
Everything blurred. He smiled. The rush was returning. He wiped his mouth. "I just gotta get out of here, get the cab," he wheezed. "Get my car tomorrow."
His smile faltered as the two crapulous reflections said, "Your name is on the goddamn marquee outside."
During the third set, gasping for air between lyrics, he wondered if he'd overdone it on the coke. Overplaying was one thing, dropping dead onstage from an overdose was another.
For a split second, he thought, wouldn't be the worst thing for my music career. The thought was just as quickly driven away by the pulsing in his head.
From the stage James watched Carl and Dave disappear into the office behind the bar, probably to talk poo poo about him, maybe the kid would try and snag his weekly gig. The greedy little gently caress even smiled at James on his way out of the bar.
Once the lights were up and the drunks were gone, Carl counted the band's money onto a table.
"Dave and I were talking," he said.
"Oh yeah? What about?" James grinned, trying to casually examine his car keys, small white flecks still deep in the grooves.
Jesus, he was tired of being pleasant. The speed and had worn off. His hearing muffled by an unending high whine, the pain in his back was the only thing keeping him awake at this point, and all he could smell was piss-filled ashtrays.
If the kid wanted this gig, gently caress it. Let him. It's not as easy as it looks, and when people ask the kid what happened to James and that smug little fucker'd have to make up some story or maybe they'd all laugh because the old bastard should've given up sooner—
"Dave's going on tour, wants you to have his remaining gigs here, if you want 'em. Unless you don't."
His phone vibrated. Text from Lucy. "PLZ DONT STAY OUT ALL NITE LUV U."
He tucked the phone into his pocket, fingertips nudging the empty baggie.
"He said that?"
He'd need another baggie or two.
"I can do it. Sure."
magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 04:11 on Jun 6, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 03:47|
lovely flash rules: you have to write about potatoes, specifically Purple Peruvian potatoes. Additionally, your story must be set somewhere in South America.; No commas; 'zaftig'(twice)
flerp fucked around with this message at 21:23 on Jun 12, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:03|
removed for publishing stuff
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 10:15 on Nov 26, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:17|
Prompt: “Man agonizes over his potatoes.”
Flash Rules: “Quick and Dirty”
Tuesday: +50 words for any of the listed keywords (ameliorate)
The World's Largest Potato
“Can you describe the vegetable in question?” the cop asked Marcus, nodding at the empty display stand.
“It’s a potato,” his son, Billy, tried to answer for him. He’d been doing a lot of that, recently.
Marcus bristled. “It’s not just a potato! It’s the world’s largest potato! And someone stole it!” He shoved a postcard into the cop’s hands that featured a detailed picture of the spud. A proud and smiling Marcus stood behind it with his thumbs in his overall straps. It was very large, (for a potato.)
“I’m sure it means a lot to you, Mr. Simmons.”
Marcus nodded vehemently. “I think it was those bastards up the road with the world’s largest pickle. Maybe they wanted to get rid of the competition. You should check there first.”
“Dad, the pickle’s been gone for years,” Billy said, shaking his head.
“We’ll go ask around,” the cop said, heading back to his motorcycle. “If we find anything we’ll let you know.”
“That potato’s our entire livelihood!” Marcus called, but the cop had his helmet on and in a few minutes he was just a spec on the horizon.
Billy watched him fade into the empty fields with hungry eyes. He scuffed his shoe in the dirt and shoved his hands into his pockets. “It doesn’t have to be,” he said, finally. “I got my online degree now, and a few job offers. We could move to the city.”
Marcus ignored him and stomped back into the gift shop. The police didn’t understand how important this was. He’d have to do his own investigating.
He went behind the counter and tapped the keys of an ancient PC, which ran the single security camera that watched over the potato. The grainy video played on the monitor again. The clear plastic brick that housed the oversized vegetable was definitely there until just before 12:00AM. Then, the clock in the upper corner skipped ahead to 12:23, and it was gone.
“I think someone’s tampered with this footage!” Marcus exclaimed, as the bells over the gift shop door chimed to announce Billy’s entrance.
“That camera is almost as old as I am,” Billy said. “Look at the day before yesterday, or the day before that. It does the same thing every night.”
Marcus checked, scratching his beard. “It does, and at the same time too. How long has it been doing that?”
“Three or four years now! I’ve told you about it before. You said not to worry about it.”
“It’s still a clue,” Marcus decided. He headed back towards the door. Billy was standing in front of it. He looked like he wanted to say something, but nothing came out. Finally he shook his head and stepped aside.
The empty plinth stood where it always had, ever since he’d built it when Billy was just a little boy. He remembered hammering the post into the hard ground and screwing the bolts into place. Those were missing, not broken, which was odd.
“It wasn’t a prank,” he said, when Billy joined him again. “You’d need a drill to get those bolts loose. It was too heavy to carry, too. You’d need a cart. And something to sweep the tracks away-”
“I asked Marie to marry me,” Billy blurted out, interrupting him.
“She said yes,” Billy said. He sounded more like a man announcing a funeral than his own wedding. “So I’m not going to be running the gift shop anymore.”
Marcus was at a loss. Billy had been running the gift shop since he was old enough to be trusted with the till. “I always thought I’d leave this place to you, and you could raise your own family here.”
“I know.” Billy looked back at the shop and the dusty parking lot. “I put a lot of years into this place too, but look around! We haven’t had a single customer all day.”
“Well of course not, there’s no potato to come see!”
“No one knows that yet!” Billy yelled. “I found the books, Dad. You can’t ameliorate the losses we’re operating at.”
“It’ll turn around. There’s been dry spells before.”
Billy shook his head. “Not this time. Not since they put that new interstate freeway in. No one comes down this road anymore.”
“It was a potato, Dad! The novelty wore off years ago. I hear it’s not even the world’s largest anymore.”
“Then why’d someone go to the trouble of stealing it?” Marcus argued. “No point in stealing something unless it’s got value.”
Billy threw his hands in the air and stomped away, tired of fighting with him. Marcus didn’t know what to do. He tried to imagine living alone and couldn’t. He tried to imagine running the gift shop alone and couldn’t, even if by some miracle the potato was found. He sat down on one of the visitor benches and put his head in his hands.
He’d discovered the potato on his farm, back when he’d had one, almost ten years ago. His wife, back when he’d had one, loved it so much she had him cast it in resin to preserve it. He even called Guinness to confirm that, at the time, it really was the world’s largest recorded potato. Now even that had been taken from him.
He headed back inside, where Billy was polishing the counter to work out his anger. “Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Maybe this is a good time to start over.”
“You mean that?” Billy asked, looking up.
With a heavy heart, Marcus turned the sign on the door to ‘Closed’. He went upstairs without saying anything more.
A pickup truck pulled up in the lot outside. Billy dropped the cloth and ran outside to give the driver a kiss through the open window.
“You were right about everything,” he whispered.
Marie just smiled.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:40|
NOTHING TO SEE HERE
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 15:58 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:40|
Man agonizes over potatoes
Your story must feature a real-life, contemporary celebrity as a main character.
WEDNESDAY GOONS HERE IS YOUR FLASHRULE
+25 words this week to anybody who doesn't post in this thread again until their story is submitted. (signups exempt)
The Curious Matter of the Nattily-Dressed Man (1023 words)
During my long partnership with my sister Khloe, amongst our more intriguing adventures was our investigation of the nattily-dressed man, a matter that was revealed to the public this week. Whilst I typically defer to our television producers to recount our adventures, I could not in good conscience remain silent over their portrayal of these events. For they focused on lurid details, providing little instruction on the virtues of deductive reasoning. As perceptive viewers know, our adventures are not far-fetched series of unlikely occurrences, but rather the results of principled deduction—even when premised on something as unexpected as potatoes! Let us now journey back to that fateful summer day.
Khloe and I had recently defeated the machinations of a sinister Parisian (an event so grotesque the world remains unready for public disclosure) and planned to recover at our estate in Bakersfield, a hamlet north of Los Angeles. Early during our journey, we broke for lunch in the village of T—n at a ‘fast food’ establishment named I—t. (We suspect our viewers are intimately familiar with its yellow arrow logo and famed ‘secret menu’.) The village, despite its inhabitants’ coarse peasant stock, had prospered from being located in a mountain gap through which a highway passed. The astonishing heat that day had driven the villagers to take refuge in the local shopping mall, leaving the streets deserted.
As we approached the entrance of I—t, a nattily-dressed man emerged, holding a white paper bag. He shuffled slowly towards the unseen rear parking lot, where his vehicle presumably rested.
‘His buttons reveal foreign birth,’ I remarked to Khloe. ‘His creases suggest nervousness.’ I struggled to concentrate in the heat.
‘Intriguing,’ replied Khloe. ‘Now let us eat.’
The restaurant was barren but for a lone attendant who also served as the cook. So as to be seen by the public, we elected to take our meal ‘to go’ and drove to the mall. I partook in crisp french fries, hard and ridged to the touch with a texture resembling cracklings. Now refreshed, we took a constitutional through the mall, mingling with local fans. A few hours passed before we returned to our automobile, whereupon we discovered a local constable waiting.
‘Are you the famed sisters?’ cried the constable, in obvious distress. ‘I recognized the sigil upon your vehicle.’
‘We are, good constable,’ I assured him.
He beamed. ‘What fortune! We require assistance.’ He led us back to I—t and then to the rear parking lot. Spilling from the open door of an automobile was the body of the nattily-dressed man from earlier, his expression twisted into a horrifying grimace. He was unquestionably deceased. The restaurant manager watched nervously from nearby.
‘This man was Gaspar Lemieux,’ said the constable, holding up a passport.
‘The famed Belgian food critic?’ cried Khloe. ‘He suffers from crippling introversion.’
‘We contacted his secretary,’ replied the constable. ‘He’d recently improved somewhat and was touring this region.’
‘Lips inflamed,’ I said, ‘and throat still swollen. Clearly an allergic reaction. He passed agonizingly.’
‘His severe peanut allergy is well known,’ offered Khloe.
‘A terrible accident!’ exclaimed the constable.
‘Surely a food critic would be mindful of allergies,’ I said, frowning. The bag Mssr Lemieux had held lay near his foot. I unrolled it and found only a wrapped hamburger. ‘His meal remains untouched,’ I murmured, ‘as well as nutless.’ I felt the bag’s interior and his hands. Something began to glimmer in my mind.
‘This is a twenty tweet problem,’ I said, removing my mobile from my purse. The weather was cooling and my thinking sharpened. I thought of the french fries from earlier and their crispness; of how salt prickled my fingers and hot grease dribbled down my palms. The sky was dark by the time I looked up.
‘Murder,’ I whispered.
We gathered indoors. ‘A man succumbs to a food allergy,’ I began. ‘But without eating. How?’
‘Sprayed with peanut crumbs,’ offered Khloe.
‘There exist myriad outlandish possibilities,’ I replied. ‘Let us apply the deductive principle of simplicity—we presume he ate peanuts.’ Khloe nodded.
‘From where?’ asked the constable.
‘The effects of various cooking oils on vegetables is an interest of mine,’ I continued. ‘I’ve authored a website on the subject.’ I began pacing. ‘As we know, I—t is famed not only for freshness, but also its unusual french fries. They are soft, distinctly limp in feel, chewy— unique properties imparted by being fried in cottonseed oil.’
‘Yes,’ agreed the manager. ‘They’re quite controversial.’
‘But the french fries I purchased today were hard, crispy, ridged; they felt like cracklings.’ The manager’s eyes widened. ‘The inimitable marks of peanut oil, sinisterly substituted by someone.’ I frowned. ‘Being foreign—and possibly affected by heat and hunger, as my own faculties were impaired by the same—poor Mssr Lemieux remained unsuspecting.’
‘His bag contained no french fries,’ the constable protested.
‘Precisely why this is murder, not an accident,’ I replied. ‘The culprit surmised that Mssr Lemieux, being painfully introverted, would drive elsewhere to eat alone. But as is common practice, he sampled a french fry in his vehicle before departing. His early death surprised the murderer, who subsequently removed the evidence. Examine the receipts; I’ve no doubt you’ll find Mssr Lemieux purchased french fries.’ I sighed. ‘The lone attendant from earlier. We must have barely missed him.’
‘He’s a new hire,’ cried the manager, ‘and ended his shift prematurely today. That’s when I came and discovered the body.’
‘What an unlikely plot,’ said the constable grimly. ‘Let us seek this murderer.’
What occurred afterwards is well known, having been depicted in gruesome detail by our producers—how the attendant was unmasked as the Belgian french fry restaurateur Mario Guzman, who had been slighted by Mssr Lemieux; the subsequent pursuit through the mall; and his painful last stand, nude and covered with peanut oil, in a room full of potatoes.
Whilst I appreciate the titillating spectacle of these later events, they were simply the natural consequences of what began with the potatoes. With that, it suffices to state the virtues of deductive reasoning, applied rigorously, have been demonstrated once more.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:46|
Man agonizes over his _______
The cats are getting bolder. One is sitting on Mr. Yasushi's head as he explains ancient tribal rituals.
"Moon phases," he says, then tries to get it off. His eyes water as its claws dig into his scalp. “Helped tribes know when to harvest and when to hunt," he finishes.
The cat is a calico blend of creamy hazel and snow white. Its eyes are twin slivers of darkness and I look away. But they burn into my eyelids and I still feel them as class is dismissed. I get out of there with my backpack which seems heavier than usual.
The worst thing about the cats is hearing Kita's theories. She finds me while I'm trying to lure out the black and mangy looking cat in my pack. He doesn't look like he's going anywhere.
"The cats get stronger by sacrificing humans," Kita says. "I've been looking into this."
"Right," I say. I'm using the tuna and lettuce sandwich mom packed to get the cat out. It’s the only lunch I have, but I need to get to my books. Finals are coming up soon.
"You won't get anywhere," Kita says. "The cats are at an apex point. They're determined to keep their power."
The cat lunges. I yank my hand away but I'm too late. It's got the meat of the sandwich and I'm left with two torn up slices of bread. It’s munching away.
"You need to lose weight anyway," Kita says. “Meet me at the library after the final period. If you want to pass finals, that is."
A cat is two desks down in final period. It’s curled up in the seat. No one dares to approach it.
I do my best to pay attention but I keep getting distracted by my backpack, which is wiggling around on the floor like a caterpillar. I keep having to grab the straps and pull it to me, sounding a yowling noise that makes me pray for my books. I bite my tongue to keep from hyperventilating as never to be repeated algebraics zoom past me at lightspeed.
In the library I forget my normal social restraints and shake Kita by the blazer. “We have to stop this!” I say. There’s a sudden searing pain in my back and I lose my balance, hitting the carpet with a thud. I’m being attacked with a thousand cuts and I slide out of the straps, lying on the floor, breathing hard as the yowls slowly simmer to a stop.
“This is a change,” Kita says, grinning. “Normally you’re too obsessed with school to have cool adventures. What’s up with that, anyway? Are you happy just being a cog in our society?”
“It’s hopeless,” I say, staring at the ceiling tiles. “If I’m gonna be a cog I want to be a comfy one.”
I know that she’s waiting, symbolically, for me to pick myself up. But I can’t. There are just too many complications in my life. I don’t want to fight them anymore. Finally she sighs and reaches out her hand. It’s warm and gives me the energy I need to stand.
“Sakai,” she says. “You need to face your problems head on. Never look back.”
I give her a look I hope expresses determination.
“Right,” she says. “Now look. I’ve been compiling notes on disappearances from the city. Notice anything?”
I look at the notebook she’s holding out. A simple notebook, with some sort of satin sash marking her place. I try to focus on the names and dates.
“It looks,” I say, “like we’re steadily losing people. That’s weird.”
“Not just that,” she says. “It happens when the moon changes. Look.”
Next to every date is a squiggle. It dawns on me that they’re all moons. A moon with lines representing a glow. A moon with a sickle in front of it. And, in front of the last entry, a moon that looks like it’s drenched in blood.
That moon is next to today’s date. In place of a name, there’s just a series of question marks.
“The cat power ritual is happening under the blood moon tonight,” Kita says. “We need to stop it.”
We’re hiding in bushes near the bridge in the shady part of the city. After my backpack stopped making noises I got the courage to put it back on. I’ve been being careful not to smack it into anything but it still feels like a bomb about to go off.
It was easy to find the sacrificial altar by paying attention to cat migration patterns. You wouldn’t know if you didn’t look, but they’re all steadily wandering in one direction.
I see a silhouette under the arch of the bridge, on the far side. I squint a little to make it out in the moonlight. It’s Mr. Yasushi. The cat on his head seems to be controlling his movements with its claws. He’s making muffled noises and he has to come more into the light for me to tell that he’s being gagged with its tail.
It’s horrifying, I think, to see someone controlled like that.
“Now!” Kita shouts, and she charges out with her water gun. Cats hate water. “We need to stop the control cat!”
I freeze. The blood moon is raining doubt on me. Washing me away. I can see cats start to swarm Kita.
I can never do anything by myself.
Kita is shouting in pain and anger.
Then I’m moving. It’s mathematical. Algebraic triangulation. I can read the angles like a book. See a cat’s lunge trajectory. Leap into the air and step off it for a boost. Plant a perfect stream of ice water square on the control cat’s forehead. Stick the landing.
The cat falls off. Mr. Yasushi runs away screaming.
All around us, cats are flopping to the ground. The shadows are lengthening, covering us again. My pack mews gently.
“You can probably get your books now,” Kita says. She’s war-torn, but losing her scratches and clothing rips in the dying light. She’s more than human. Some long worshipped spirit of adventure.
“No rush,” I say.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 04:52|
The Starch that Binds Me
Tuesday’s rules: Zaftig and Lackadaisical
Word Count: 909
I made a potato box on my balcony, hoping that it'd bring me peace, or a sense of satisfaction. It didn't really give me that. Instead, it just gave me a lot of potatoes. A lot a lot. Like forty pounds of dirty, musty potatoes. They live in one of my cupboards that I used to keep flour and lard in, which I now keep on the countertop like some kind of kitchen plebeian.
Now my diet is potatoes. My life is potatoes. I can't just leave them to rot in the cupboard, ignoring them until the day they turn mushy and sprout weird, white sun starved stalks from their eyes. Not after going through all the trouble of planting them, watering them, and caring for them at least.
They taunt me, these potatoes. Maybe I feel like if I manage to eat them all I'll find whatever it was I was looking for when I grew them. Or maybe I just don't like wasting money. I suppose I could blame my mother, who probably admonished me too many times about starving children in Africa when I was young. Who knows?
I sure don't. I've run out of ways to cook them. Actually, that's not true. There are a lot of ways to cook potatoes. I've watched Julia Child manhandle them against a cheese grater while waxing about just how versatile potatoes really are. I could make little baskets out of hash browns, puff thin slices up in oil, make cottage fries, or twice baked potatoes. I won't though. I'm not a tireless and towering master of French cookery doling out advice in a studio kitchen for PBS, I'm just a fool who thought he could get something out of sixteen cubic feet of dirt besides a whole lot of starchy brown tubers.
It always starts the same. I'll open my cupboard and stare at my potatoes for a bit. Let the dirt smell wash over me as I give them all a stern look in the eyes. I'll tell them— silently of course, I'm not that insane— that this time I won't let them win. I'm going to slice them up into a proper meal. Maybe break out the grater and use some of those fancier knives on my rack.
I'll even pick some good potatoes, leaving the little round ones for later and picking out a few nice big ones, all long and bumpy. I might even say zaftig, the sort of potatoes you'd find proudly displayed in their own plastic wrapped servings in any grocery store. Proud and voluptuous spuds that speak to the bounty of nature in all her glory.
Then I'll get them over to the sink, and start scrubbing them down. You don't want to scrub your potatoes until they're ready to be prepared. The dirt helps them keep. I'll spend far too long scrubbing them. I'll even use the abrasive side of the sponge, because at this point I still don't know what I'll do with them. Should I get some oil heated? Maybe a nice cold bowl of ice water to soak the starch out after cutting. Do I even have sour cream for baked potatoes?
The answer, of course, is that none of that matters. Because once I'm done scrubbing them I'll decide that I've already spent five minutes on the potatoes, and that's five minutes too long. Apathy plagues me. It doesn't matter how good a dish looks in my mind's eye, it can't overcome my distaste for washing the dozen or so kitchen utensils that I'd probably dirty making something fancy.
So I'll just dice them up like I always do. Potatoes don't slice easily when they're raw. They leak this starchy white fluid everywhere, and it builds up on the knife and makes the slices stick to it. Then I end up with a pile of wet, irregular chunks of unappetizing potatoes on my cutting board. I'd rinse them, but that'd just mean cleaning the strainer as well, so I just toss them all in one big lackadaisical pile in a skillet with a healthy lump of lard and let them sizzle.
Home fries should be simple. Just let the heat and the oil do the work for you. I can't do that though. I always find myself chasing the potatoes around in the skillet with my spatula. It doesn't help them cook faster, and I'm not going to get the drat potatoes to give up some starchy secrets to living if I stare at them for long enough. I'm an anxious cook though, so around and around the potatoes go until they're a well done pile of browned cubes and grease.
After that it's onto a plate to eat, unless I'm feeling particularly apathetic, and then it's just right out of the skillet after a perfunctory cool down period. Usually I'll eat them on the couch in front of the TV, slowly filling my belly with mostly empty calories as I fill my head with empty entertainment.
I'm not sure why I thought I'd get anything more out of growing potatoes then a full belly. I think, but I can't ever be certain, that these thoughts are fairly normal, if a bit self affected. Maybe that's the problem, and it doesn't have anything to do with the potatoes. I shouldn't blame the potatoes for my dissatisfaction, or my own shortcomings. C'est la vie, and bon appétit.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:11|
She was falling behind, and there wasn’t thing one Martin could do about it.
Martin never wanted to sign her up at all. He thought the Special Olympics were an outdated concept, a misguided gift passed down to keep his daughter shielded and separated from the ‘higher class’ of human. When he and his wife Louisa began talking about adopting Alex, they had made a decision. She was human. She had been born with a condition. It was no different than a person with severe asthma or an irregular heart. She would struggle, and they would be there.
That’s what made it hard. Watching Alex run, her cheeks ruddy with effort, as she slipped from first to second to fourth, creeping in reverse upon the end of the line—it was hard, because he knew that they had provided her with hope, only to have it slapped down like a well-spiked volleyball.
“Go, honey, go!” Louisa was waving the neon-blue poster board with such gusto that she hit the man in front of them several times on the back of the head. Martin offered an apologetic look and a half-extended hand by way of consolation. The man just shook his head. Surely, he understood.
It was Louisa who had the Olympics idea in the first place. A couple of the other mothers in their local DD support group had entered their children, and Louisa thought it might be nice for Alex to compete against her peers.
“She is competing against her peers!” Martin had exploded, trying to unstick his mouth from that manic smile he always got when they argued. “She goes to school with her peers. She socializes with her peers. ‘Peer’ means ‘person who’s in the same age group.’ We decided to keep her with her peers whenever possible, whether they’re developmentally disabled or not.”
Louisa, in all her infuriating calmness, walked to the bookshelf in the den, pulled their dictionary from the bottom shelf, and leafed through it.
“Look,” she had said, pointed, and added insult to most grievous injury by reading aloud to him. “‘Peer, definition two: any person of equal ability, qualification, age, background, and social status to another.’ Can we say, one hundred percent honestly, that she is equal to everyone of her age group in ability?”
Martin had been dumbfounded for a moment. How could this woman’s thinking, this woman whom he had loved for over a decade, with whom he had suffered injury and miscarriage and death of loved ones, grind against his own way of thinking like one mismatched gear turning opposite another? He didn’t know. Somehow, though, she had convinced him, and at this moment, he had no idea how she’d done it.
As Alex slipped back to second to last, Martin felt tears rise and choke in his throat. She was equal, goddammit. She was so kind and so hardworking. This child, whom he had taken in and loved and nurtured, she was the best person he knew, the most wonderful person he had ever met. To watch her fail was a cosmic injustice.
The day she found out she was competing, Alex insisted that he drive her to the community center so she could run the track. She had always been a natural runner. Louisa’s nephews introduced the concept of racing to Alex on one family vacation—a race to the tree and back, winner taking first dibs on the inflatable tube roped to the back of a speedboat. On your mark, get set, go! and Alex dashed from one end to the other and back, the nephews a good yard behind her. Since then, she called races to the car in parking lots, to the beach, to the front door, basically anything that involved moving from one point to another on foot. Louisa had to ban racing in the house, it had caused so much destruction.
The final runner, a redheaded boy, was closing the distance between himself and Alex. Martin began to chant along with his wife, slipping his arm around her waist.
“Go, honey, go!”
“Go, honey, go!”
“Go, honey, go!”
They were at the final stretch. Alex and the last runner ran neck-and-neck.
“Go, honey, go!”
As long as she didn’t come last, Martin thought, he could save her. As long as she didn’t finish last, he could justify her competing in this distressing over-compensation of ableist guilt.
“Go honey, go!”
Twenty yards from the finish line, Alex’s bright blue eyes caught the sign of the same color. She saw her parents, and she smiled, and almost seemed to laugh. She began to skip lightheartedly, as though she’d happened upon a hopscotch grid on the track.
The redhead surged past her, crossing the finish line, and Martin crumpled to his seat on the bleacher. Louisa lowered herself beside him, and began to rub his back gently.
Twenty minutes later, Martin was holding his daughter’s hand in the parking lot. They wandered toward the car, Alex looking down and holding her participation medal in front of her nose.
“Are we getting tots?” she asked after Louisa started the car. Martin had been thinking of that last place boy’s red curls bouncing past his daughter’s face as he crossed the finish line. “What’s that, hon?” he asked in return.
“Can we pleeeaaase get some potato tots? I’m hungry.”
Martin turned, meeting her brilliant gaze. Tots were the known reward in their family. “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
Alex beamed as a reply. Martin couldn’t help but smile. “What are you so happy about?” he asked her.
“I came in last!” Alex laughed. “Nobody else had to come in last. I did it. Nobody else had to… had to feel left out.”
Louisa jerked the car to a stop in the parking lot, eyes wide. Martin barely even noticed.
“I came in last,” Alex said, and smiled out the window.
A man agonizes over his daughter.
“Last place at the retard race.”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:16|
No story here. Muse death by heat, basically. Thanks, lovely California summers!
loving cop-out. Sorry to hear the gorgeous weather isn't enough to inspire the gods to spew forth their beauty through your fingers. Surely they'll be more merciful next time you drag your lazy carcass into the ring.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:22|
With the deadline fast approaching, here is some music to inspire y'all
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:27|
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 08:51 on Jun 20, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:27|
PREVIOUS STORY FIGHTING MUFFIN WHO SOMEHOW ALSO WROTE A STORY INVOLVING A BOMB
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:30|
Brawl vs Obliterati
Sense of taste, secondary sense of hunger
By the Grace of God grow Potatoes
Father Silvestris stood at the steps to the courtyard. A bowl of hot stew was in his hand, and before him was his werewolf. By its stature and countenance, it was a beast; by robe and tonsure, a monk.
"You didn't touch your collation, Brother Thomas," he said, to the werewolf's back. His breath curled in the cold air like the rising steam from the stew.
"It's potatoes and water," Thomas said, a bitter rumble.
Silvestris looked at the bowl and turned the spoon once. Chunks of potato tumbled over each other. "There's other ingredients, I'm sure."
Thomas turned and looked Silvestris in the eye. Even though the Father stood six steps above Thomas, their heads were level. "There's no meat," he said.
Silvestris said, "It's Lent."
Thomas's chest rose and fell faster. He turned to fully face Silvestris, heavy footsteps on the solid stone. Silvestris had never been able to read expressions of his face. They were never human. But he could recognize the curled lip and bared fang. He quietly set the bowl of stew on the stone volute by the stairs.
"I've been withering for two weeks. I need to eat something," Thomas said.
"There's stew," Silvestris said. That wasn't what Thomas meant, and he knew it.
"I want meat," Thomas growled. Silvestris reached down to adjust the belt around his waist. Thomas hunched, then sprung at him. With a slip of the hand, Silvestris loosened his belt and slung it through the air like a lasso. It snapped across Thomas's muzzle, pulling him sideways. He staggered on his feet, hands curled, lips peeled back.
Silvestris still wore his placid expression, but now a sternness wrinkled his brow. He let his rope belt hang by his side, arms lowered. He meant to add no anger of his own to Thomas's rage. Inwardly, he wished he could run, to lock the friary doors and turn Thomas out. Those were selfish and lazy desires, a test to prove his faith. "No one else eats meat during Lent. Why should you get to?" he asked.
"Because I'm not a man!" Thomas cried. He lunged again, swinging his claws as if to grab Silvestris. He ducked and swung his rope high in the air. The clap of paws and wheezing snarl came from above him, followed by all the weight of a beast collapsing on top of him. Silvestris moved while Thomas was dazed, twisting his belt through its own loop. As Thomas reared back, Silvestris held onto the ends of the rope, which tugged the loop tighter around Thomas's neck.
Even with the rope about him, Thomas was strong enough to stand and to pull Silvestris to his feet with him. His breath was tight and ragged. If Thomas had been fighting for his life, Silvestris was sure he would have been torn open by now. But this was not desperate violence, it was a blind, deaf, senseless rage.
As Thomas swiped with his claws, Thomas stepped to the side and leaned low. With a powerful tug of his own, he whipped the rope, and Thomas with it, around his body. Thomas's own momentum spun him through the air. The ground swirled up and slammed into his chest and chin, followed by Silvestris's knee in his back. He had a blister-tight grip on the rope, tugging on it and pushing with his knee at the same time. His hold squeezed the breath from Thomas's lungs.
"You can reason, so you have a soul, so you're a man," Silvestris said, as the fight wheezed out of Thomas's body. "So no, you can't eat meat during Lent."
Thomas's growling stopped abruptly, and became soft, rumbling sobs that made Silvestris's knee bob up and down. He lifted himself off of the werewolf's back. Thomas stayed on the ground, ears folded back against his head like a remorseful hound.
"Come on, stand up," Silvestris said, trying to heave him up by the shoulder.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whined, slumping himself up to his feet. He tugged at his robe like some guilty child. "That was anger, and gluttony, and—"
Silvestris shook his head. "Don't worry. You'll have something to talk about at confession."
"You're not mad?" Thomas asked.
The bowl of stew was in Silvestris's hand, held out toward Thomas. It no longer steamed and the broth clumped around the potatoes, starting to congeal. "Not if you eat your meal."
Thomas took the bowl and spoon. He visibly fought the wrinkling of his lips as he scooped up a spoonful, then stuffed it into his mouth. He chewed deliberately, then swallowed slowly. He looked up at Silvestris for a sign of approval, but he was just quietly watching Thomas.
The werewolf shoved another spoonful of cold potato stew into his mouth. And then another. And another, until the bowl was bare.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:35|
words: 1018 (+25 non poo poo posting reward)
Arvin knew immediately that his testicles were missing. In the morning hours he lay in bed, so alarmed, he hadn’t dared to move, let alone run his hands along the underside of his groin. But there was something else haunting the back of his mind. He knew that his testicles were not attached to his body, and he didn’t know where they were, but he knew they still existed. He could still feel them.
The non-hypochondriac parts of his brain began to rationalize this feeling.
“That devil Grant.”
The root of all anxieties stemmed from his rapscallion rival. Grant would stop at nothing to win the annual harvest competition. He had even gone so far to foul the Arvin’s garden with some kind of rot that destroyed his entire crop of potatoes. Arvin could still remember his prized russets, the fuzzy, fragile decomposition crumbling between his fingers. It reminded him of the ash of his favorite novel his father had thrown into the hearth.
And now, Grant’s machinations had caused this existential manifestation to arise in his brain. Of course his testicles were there. But, Arvin had not physically confirmed the presence of them in over the hour since he had woken. He laid there in bed, as he had every morning since the discovery of his rotten potatoes, staring at his wall of ribbons from previous years. He imagined himself running a weathered hand along the textured drywall, the bare space that 2016 would occupy, wondering what could have been.
He closed his eyes and let his hands wander. Hesitantly at first, he picked up speed as the familiar nooks and mounds of his flesh spoke to his calloused fingers words of softness and warmth. Each hair its own story, a sensitivity that would last an eternity in his mind. But he had been right all along. He had no balls.
The concave undercarriage of his genitals was awkward at first. There was a sagging in his underwear and the extra cloth folded in on itself, chaffing him as he worked in the garden. He dragged the hoe through the dirt absent-mindedly. He physically acknowledged his testicles were missing, but he could still feel them. They did not hurt, exactly, but they were in an uncomfortable place. It reminded him of the feeling right after accidentally sitting on them while riding a bicycle. The pain was gone but the hollow, pulsating feeling of emptiness remained. He shook the notion from his mind, he had to reclaim his earth.
Row by row he dug for his tubers, hoping to find something that escaped the rot. The contagion had spread deep, and he wondered if it would stay fallow forever. He dropped to his knees in despair, the knobby protrusions sinking into cool earth and he winced in discomfort. He fell backwards in surprise, and the discomfort receded from his nethers.
Arvin ripped his gloves off, his sweaty hands cooling instantly as they were exposed to the fresh air. He shoved them deep into the fresh dirt. Soft curds of mushroom compost clung to his wet hands as he pawed at the ground like a dog. With each scoop he could feel the pressure of surrounding his testicles subside. They cried out for salvation. Finally, he unearthed them. Two, small pink potatoes rested in the dirt and Arvin knew them to be his.
On the day of the festival, the contestants lined their platters up in front of the judging table. Arvin was last to place his sterling silver tray on the table. His palms gripped the filigree and felt the wrought ivy make designs on his skin. The heirloom was his grandmother’s, passed along to him, bypassing his slighted father.
In comparison, Arvin’s platter was lacking in volume and variety, but he could feel his repeat-success just a breath away. He watched as other contestants stole glances at his potatoes. In truth, they were almost alien in terms of potatoes. They were small, bigger than cherry tomatoes but smaller than fingerlings. They were a pale pink, unlike the vibrancy of purples or the earthiness of reds. They were exquisite.
He stood back and waited.
The judge’s knife sank through the testicle like floss through too-close together teeth. Back and forth, the dull pain resonated through his abdomen and he felt sick. Sick but triumphant. He closed his eyes, and through the routine of competition and the splitting and prodding sensation in his testicles, he knew they were inspecting the innards for color and opacity. A soft finger traced an inner circle and it tickled, that was judge number 3, with her delicate hands. Arvin sucked in a gasp of air when a rough, calloused poke hit dead center, Farmer Abe and his rough digits checked for firmness.
He turned to Grant and smiled. Small tears watered Arvin’s eyes, but still he smiled. He had won again, despite the rot and fouled soil, he would be triumphant. A sharp, overwhelming emptiness staggered Arvin. Without looking he knew the judges were on their final test, taste. And when he turned and saw them each chewing, he felt the fate of all those sailors lost to the Symplegades. He was overcome, and fainted.
And for the second time in in as many months, Arvin awoke and knew his testicles were gone. In their stead, the prickly, sweaty, and hot feeling of shame. Arvin had been awarded 5th place. He hadn’t even placed. He clutched the drab brown ribbon to his chest and recognized the inner canvas of the medical tent. Aged fake leather stuck to his skin and he could feel the jagged cracks of wear on the clinic bed.
“Better luck next year, Arvin, that is if you have the balls to show your face again,” Grant sneered, peering in from outside the medical tent. When Arvin did not respond, Grant huffed and disappeared behind the canvas flap. He fingered the cheap, rough cloth of 5th place and realized that it was the same material of 1st from all the years prior, and he thought of his late father.
prompts: Senses, touch, proprioception.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:47|
Flash rule: Diffident
“Alright, just you and your ol’ Dad doing science stuff together!” James set the kit down on the newly-cleared dining room table and looked over at his daughter, Mandy, who was still standing in the doorway. The expression of skepticism she wore didn’t seem like it could belong to a twelve-year-old, but was her default state in her presence.
“What?” he said. “This will be fun! Didn’t you say that you wanted to enter the science fair?”
“With a potato clock?” Her disdain would make the most acidic teen-movie mean girl proud, but James wasn’t going to let it deter him.
“Sure, why not? I made one of these with your grandfather when I was a kid. You’ll see, it’s gonna be great.” He started to unpack the kit as Mandy begrudgingly pulled up a chair next to him.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a potato involved in this?” she said.
“Oh, huh, I guess it doesn’t come with the kit. You want to grab a couple of potatoes for us? I think there’s some in the refrigerator.”
“Dad, potatoes aren’t even supposed to go in the fridge.” Mandy walked to the kitchen with a practiced eye-roll, and he heard the sound of the refrigerator door. “You really need to start keeping more food around the house, you know,” she said, reappearing. “Just because you’re a bachelor again doesn’t mean that you can live off of cereal and pizza forever.”
“Haha, you got me,” James said, taking a potato from his daughter’s hand, and trying not to smart at the word ‘bachelor.’ “Don’t worry, we’ll go out somewhere nice for dinner. Here, you can start putting the leads in like this, and then we’ll attach the wires.” He stuck a copper spike into his potato and handed it back to her.
They sat in silence for a while, Mandy stabbing copper and iron leads into potatoes with a little more enthusiasm than necessary, and James poring over the instructions.
“Okay, I think it’s time to attach these - ouch!” James stuck his thumb in his mouth and tasted blood where one of the wires had managed to jab into him.
“Did you cut yourself?” Mandy said sitting up. “Let me see! Why would you stick a cut in your mouth? That’s how you get infections, Dad!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine, I’ll go wash it off and it’ll be okay.” James walked into the kitchen and ran his thumb under water from the tap.
“Do you have soap in there?” Mandy had followed him into the kitchen. “Dish-washing soap isn’t the same thing as hand soap! Where’s your first-aid kit, Dad?”
“Oh, sorry, sweetie,” James said, squeezing soap over his thumb and rubbing the cut. “I haven’t had a chance to pick up a first-aid kit yet. Maybe we-”
“Why don’t you have one yet? Dad, that’s so important! Do you even have a fire extinguisher? Have you checked your smoke alarms? I can’t believe you would be so stupid - “
“Mandy. That’s enough.” James glared at his daughter, who looked like she had been slapped in the face.
“I am an adult, and this is my house. Go back to the table. I’m going to finish washing this, and then we’re going to make a potato clock.” He turned away and waited, leaving the water running for several minutes more than he really needed to. By the time he dried his hands, his thumb wasn’t even bleeding any more. He examined the cut for a minute before deciding it probably didn’t need a band-aid after all, and then took another couple of minutes to think before he went back to where his daughter was waiting for him.
She looked small, sitting there alone at the table, and somehow younger than James was used to thinking of her as.
He sat down next to her. He started to reach out to her, but pulled back; he wasn’t always sure what gestures of affection were going to be rebuffed. It had been so much easier when she was younger.
Of course, he also hadn’t been trying to figure things out alone, then.
“I’m sorry that I snapped at you,” he said, finally.
“I know,” Mandy said in a small voice. “I’m sorry I called you stupid.” There was a pause, and James struggled to think of something else to say.
“Is there something bothering you?”
“I just… I dunno. It’s really weird seeing you on your own like this.” Her head was bowed, slightly, staring at the table, and her hair fell in front of her eyes.
James laughed sadly. “It’s a little weird being on my own, too,” he said, and immediately cursed himself for saying it. Silence hung between them again.
“Mom’s worried about you, you know,” Mandy said in a diffident voice.
James bit back the first two or three things that came to mind, and took a slow breath. “I know that your mom is probably worried about me… I know that you’re probably worried about me, too.” He reached out again, a little more sure of himself, and put his hand on her back. “I know I’m not a great housekeeper, and I forget things, and make a mess. You and your mom have always been the organized ones. But believe it or not, I did live for several years on my own before I met your mom, and I took care of myself well enough.”
He pulled her into a hug, and as she leaned against him something loosened in his chest.
“It’s gonna be okay, honey. I’m gonna be okay, and you’re gonna be okay. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Thanks, Dad,” Mandy said, her voice quiet. “Um...”
“What is it, sweetie?”
“Do you think the potato clock will still work if the potatoes are moldy?”
“I guess we’ll find out!”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 05:52|
Potato day: Monday
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 18:38 on Jan 1, 2017
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 06:14|
Thursday prompt: Man agonises over potatoes.
Flash rule: your story is set in the mesospher
Anime genre: yokai (demons)
Four Holy Spuds
‘O Bulba, the First Ascended, from embers and fire you’ve brought humans to live in the clouds. You’ve nourished your faithful with the last gift of a dying world, with but Four Spuds you fed them. You guided Saint Wosip, our Order’s funding father, through his life of piety and hard work. With your help we persevere in ascending to higher and higher plains, and even now we’re flying leagues above our cities. Bulba, hear your humble servant’s prayer. Allow this sky vessel to travel safely on our mission to bring Four Holy Spuds to your Great Temple for annual celebrations, and grant me vigilance to guard this divine relic. Lift us forever.’
According to hagiographies, the exposition prayer was invented by Saint Wosip himself. It is said to help put things into perspective and find your own place in the grand scheme of things. That’s exactly what Brother Radim needed now, as he, no more than a year ago a mere acolyte, had been assigned to guard the holiest relic of the St. Wosip’s Order. There wasn’t really any danger, as only the Order had ships that could fly so high, but it was an honourable and stressful duty for Radim nonetheless. He was alone in a room lined with opulent carpets and decorated with statues of Bulba. He could only bring himself to pray in front of an altar with a golden reliquary containing Four Holy Spuds that everything would go well. Consumed by meditation, Radim almost failed to notice a sulphuric smell in the room.
Brother Radim opened his eyes to find a small creature, about two feet tall, struggling to unlock the reliquary. The creature had yellow and black stripes on its arched back and a pair of mandibles on its head. On old paintings at the monastery there were creatures just like that. It was definitely a demon. From demonology tracts Radim knew that demons were supposed to explode in the presence of holy relics, so how could this lesser demon had got here?
‘Praech ad Bulby, patshwara!’ Radim chanted an incantation meant to banish evil. It seemed to have no effect on the demon, but it drew the creature’s attention.
‘What have you just called me, mate?’ said the demon in a crackly voice.
‘Depart, foul creature! I’m here to protect Four Holy Spuds and you shall not have them.’
‘Look, I think you’re a tad confused. These are not “Holy Spuds” or whatever, they are regular cloudy potatoes, and I would really like to eat them, if you don’t cloudy mind.’
The demon cracked the reliquary open with its mandibles and dumped four potatoes on the altar. It then breathed a stream of fire, and potatoes turned from brown to black.
‘See? No lightning or booming voices from the Highest Heaven. There’s nothing cloudy holy about those potatoes. Whoever told you they were holy is probably laughing their head off right now. Just let me have a snack and I’ll leave, alright?’ The demon had almost clenched its mandibles on one of the potatoes, but Radim, dumbfounded and with tears in his eyes, kicked it right off the altar.
The demon landed on its back. Panicking and flailing its six legs, it clicked and hissed desperately trying to turn over, as Radim cried over scorched potatoes. What if Holy Spuds weren’t real? What if millions of pilgrims and parishioners who’d brought wealth and power to the Order were lied to?
The demon went silent for a moment, and as if splitting its back in two, it let out its reddish membranous wings. With a low buzz it took to the air and started violently thrashing about the room. It knocked over statues and spat fire on carpets with depictions of saints and Bulba, all with no repercussions.
‘This cloudy ship is going down, you bastard,’ screamed the demon.
What at first appeared to be random flouncing, Radim realised was an octogram that the demon was tracing in the air. There was no time to call for help or perform the ritual of exorcism (Radim was no longer even sure that it’d work), soon a portal would open and demons would flood the ship. Radim hid the potatoes in his robe, tied himself to the altar with his belt cord, and threw the reliquary at one of the portholes with all his strength.
Radim woke up in his cell at the monastery with Father Ulas at his bed. Radim could barely open his eyes, but he would always recognise Father Ulas’s solemn figure.
‘Father, are Four Holy Spuds real? Were they ever real?’ Radim’s voice was hoarse and weak.
Father Ulas hesitated with the answer. ‘You need rest, Brother Radim,’ he said after a long silence.
‘I see how it is then. I want you to let Master Iacant, that old liar, know that I’m leaving the Order,’ wheezed Radim as loud as he could and exhausted fell back into unconsciousness.
When Radim woke up again, it was night. He was still wearing the Order’s habit. Brothers had put bandages over Radim’s frostbitten skin and left a bowl of potato soup on his table. Next to it were four charred potatoes with flowers sprouting from them. It no longer mattered to Radim whether they were real Four Spuds on the ship – through a divine mystery and through his own act of bravery they were made into Four Holy Spuds. Like those potato flowers, Radim’s dedication to Bulba bloomed again.
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 06:44|
Collapse (1293 words, Thursday, Anime genre: Magical Girlfriend)
Delete the bad ones, too.
Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 05:44 on Aug 9, 2016
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 06:51|
|# ? Jul 1, 2022 00:57|
Mashed Potatoes and Stuff Like That
Monday: Man agonizes over his mosquitoes; the worst jellybean; +25 words for not shitposting
“Wha?”said the prisoner, spitting out a tooth. Doc Odin punched him in the face again, knocking more teeth loose.
“I said you should have told me where Zero's hideout is while you could still chew your own food,” said Doc Odin, grabbing the prisoner's right hand. “Too late now, just mushy stuff for you. But if you want to be able to lift your own fork, now is the time to talk.”
The prisoner panicked, spitting out words and blood. “England,” he said. “Shropshire. Wroxter. An aboned bubcub.” The last words gurgled almost incoherently.
“An abandoned bunker, you say?” said Doc Odin. “Only a few of those there.” He pulled out his tablet and brought up a map. “This one?” The prisoner nodded.
“An ambulance will be around for you in a while,” lied Doc Odin. “Don't go anywhere.” Between the handcuffs and broken legs, it didn't seem likely.
Doc Odin was greeted at the bunker door by a woman, one with the particular transcendent beauty of the multiracial that he always found irresistible. “Karl Horner?” she said. His forged credentials and disguise were flawless. “I'm Aya? Professor Zero's assistant? I'm supposed to show you to the conference room?”
“Danke,” said Doc Odin.
The room she led him to was filled with a rogues gallery of modern criminality: gang leaders, international terrorists, even two dictators with their bodyguards. Doc Odin suppressed the urge to take them all on. He was unarmed, but his hands and feet were lethal weapons. Zero had already begun his presentation, indicating a picture of a bright yellow object that looked just like a jellybean.
“Behold,” said Zero, “The ultimate bio-weapon.” He stood in front of a black wall, making his pure white hair and red eyes stand out even more than usual. “Within this capsule are the worst diseases known to man: resistant strains of Ebola, Malaria, and Anthrax, to start, virulent plagues with a strategic value of a million deaths in whatever city they're unleashed in. But that's just the beginning.
The screen moved on to a series of bizarre images. “Those diseases will keep the authorities occupied while the real attack goes unnoticed until it is too late: a more subtle disease that does no more direct damage than the common cold, but after it has incubated makes changes to every exposed human being's appetites, scrambling sexual desires with food and bloodlust.” Pictures of rotten cantaloupes, blood-soaked ears of corn, and men and women drowning in vats of butter appeared on screen. “Many will starve. Few of those who do not will manage to reproduce again. The population will be reduced to a more more manageable number.”
“And we're gonna be the ones to manage it,” said one of the dictators. He gestured to his bodyguard, who handed him a glass of strawberry milk.
“We'll get to that. For the perfect bio-weapon I first needed the perfect vector,” said Zero. The screen turned live video of a glass cage in his labs. The shiny yellow shell of the jellybean was on its floor, emptied, and within it flew five buzzing insects. “Not just the humble mosquito. The super-mosquito, genetically engineered for endurance, able to induce local populations to help it spread all of these diseases, and each programmed to fly directly to a different major population center.”
“And after we'll divvy up the planet?” said the dictator.
“Right,” said Zero. “About that.” He pressed a button and Odin felt electricity course through his body. He was shocked and stunned by it, but everyone else got a much bigger dose. They convulsed and died at the conference table. “I really don't like to share. And as for you, my alleged nemesis, did you really think your feeble disguise would fool me? Me?” Zero walked over to Doc Odin.
Doc Odin spat in his face. “If you're going to kill me-”
“Not before you've witnessed my ultimate triumph,” said Zero. Another surge of electricity hit Doc Odin, knocking him unconscious.
The cell was small but effective. Doc Odin had been undressed down to his underwear and propped up in the corner. He awoke to footsteps. It was Aya.
“So, I'm not really down with the whole genocide thing, okay? So I thought I would, you know, let you out? So you could stop it?” Aya activated the button and unlocked the cell door.
“I knew you'd come around,” said Doc Odin. “Say, wanna bone?”
“What? No, we don't have time for that.”
“They way I do it,” said Doc Odin, “There's always enough time.”
Aya rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Maybe later?” she added, not really knowing why. “Let's save the world first?”
“If you insist,” said Doc Odin. He reached into his underpants.
“I said later, okay?”
“I'm not-” said Doc Odin. He produced a pair of tiny earbuds. “We'll need to keep in touch. I'll need you to go to the lab while I take care of Zero.”
“I hope those things?” said Aya, “are waterproof? Because there's no way I'm putting this in my ear ? Without seriously hosing it down first?”
Doc Odin's hands were caked in the blood of henchmen as he wrapped them around Professor Zero's throat. The pale archvillain's face twisted into a smile as he used his last energy to slam his fist into a giant red button. Alarms began to sound as an unsteady electronic voice announced a countdown. “Fifteen-teen minutes to self-de- self-destruct.”
“Doc,” Aya's voice came over the earbud. “Doc, doc!”
“Did you reach the mosquito cage?” said Doc Odin.
“Yes, but there's-”
“And there you were able to replace the oxygen tanks with carbon dioxide?”
“Sure? But there's a problem? There's only-”
“Aya,” said Doc Odin, “I can barely hear you over these alarms. You'll have to speak up.”
Doc heard Aya and his triumph turned instantly into agony. “THERE. ARE. FOUR. MOSQUITOES.”
|# ? Jun 6, 2016 06:56|