Weekly Challenge #361 – Border

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com. I’m your host, Laurence Simon.

This is Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

The topic this week was Border.

And we’ve got stories by a lot of people:

The next 100 word stories weekly challenge is on the topic of Pick Two.

And if you want to spam your social networks with this episode, use the Share buttons at the end of the post… this obligatory cat photo should help make the Internet go faster:


TURA

General Wei quelled an invasion from the north, then returned to the south. He quelled an invasion from the west, then returned to the south. He was asked, “Why do you not institute permanent forces to guard the borders and protect the people?”

General Wei replied, “The general’s vision is wide, but the people’s vision is narrow. When the people have peace, they do not see the use of the army, and their conscripted men serve without spirit. Only when they have fled from invaders, and seen their fields burned and their villages looted, do they understand and serve valiantly.”

THOMAS

The borders were closed tight. They snapped shut at midnight. No one from Canada or Mexico was allowed into the United States. The president thought it was time to clean up some loose ends. He called all the troops home, and ordered all foreign bases closed and deactivated. The airplanes were parked in the desert, and all the warships were put at anchor in the gulf. Soldiers, Marines and sailors were put to work on public projects. Thousands were on task, cleaning cities, alleyways, vacant lots, roadways and beaches. The president was elected for a third term by unanimous decree.

#

Johnny was a handful for his HeadStart teacher. Like his classmates, the teacher gave Johnny cartoon outlines to fill with colors – crayon, pastel, tempera, felt tips or colored pencils. Johnny never stayed inside the borders. He spent his art time coloring things outside the boxes. It was how Johnny rolled – even into his adult years. He was always outside the box, busting through the borders. After college, Johnny found work with Homeland Security, working on the Washington-Canada border. He helped hundreds of Northern Koreans find the weak spots in the border, and led them to a new life in Seattle.

#

The situations that Arthur found himself in always seemed to border on the catastrophic. At least that was how he acted. Over the year, he had twenty-nine visits to various doctors and specialists for his back, feet, teeth, lungs, stomach, hernia, and bowels. He had excellent insurance, and soon became addicted to the attention, sympathy, pain meds, and other things that accompanied his medical excursions. He would make everything sound as if he only had a few months to live, and would open the most casual of social encounters with a display of his wounds, stitches, bandages and open sores.

#

Nina was diagnosed as a borderline psychotic. She drifted in and out of an agitated schizophrenic state, depending on her dosage of Haldol, Dolmatil, and Laractil, and some of the newer, atypical antipsychotics like, Risperdal, Zyprexa and Abilify. None of her symptoms disappeared, but they were less intense and easier to cope with. Nina began attending the “Hearing Voices Group” in town, but their voices and her own gave her contradictory advice when she listened carefully. She found a way to make it work for her, becoming very successful on community television and working on line as a Life Coach.

SERENDIPITY

This is the most god-forsaken place in the entire world, and the crappiest job ever!

Sand for miles in every direction; every day passes without incident – the boredom is excruciating – yet here I am: a solitary last bastion of military might, in the middle of nowhere, watching over an imaginary and invisible line; an arbitrary construct of the cartographer’s whim.

So I sit, in the desert heat, in my little steel hut, day after day.

Did I mention the boredom?

So, every day, I move my hut a little further forward – claiming even more new territory for my country!

RICHARD

Border Control

My holiday of a lifetime had been a long time coming, and now it was finally happening! As with all perfect plans, it rapidly went horribly wrong – a faulty alarm clock leading to panic and a potential missed flight out of Thailand.

“You go on and find a tuk-tuk, while I pack your bags”, ordered my room mate, Suki.

Waving me off, she shouted: “I’ve put a little something in your bag for your journey!”

At the border control: “Did you pack your bags yourself, sir?”

It seems the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ was perfectly happy to accommodate another unexpected guest.

Borderline

George’s wife always said that he was borderline OCD – the constant hand-washing, scrubbing down and boxes of latex gloves scattered around the house drove her almost to distraction. Every day she’d tell him to ‘loosen-up’ and tell him he was crazy to take cleanliness to such extremes.

Then, one day, he snapped!

Driving into work, a pigeon smashed into his radiator grill; having prised the gory mess free, George looked at his bloodstained hands… “I’ll show her!”

Arriving at work, forgoing the traditional handwash and gloves, he breezed into theatre and the waiting innards of his first patient.

JEFFREY

Purgatory
by Jeffrey Fischer

The border town baked in the hot desert sun. The small, abandoned mission wasn’t distinguished enough to attract tourists. The corner store did double duty as a grocer’s and a diner, serving food of questionable quality to indifferent patrons. The ramshackle motel was a fading remnant of the 1950s, renting rooms only to those stuck at the crossing overnight.

The few remaining residents were held there by little more than inertia. Soon they too would be gone, and the desert would reclaim the town.

Urban Renewal
by Jeffrey Fischer

The border between the good part of town and the slums was not sharply defined. Instead, a gradual erosion of buildings delineated one area from the next. Real estate agents sold these houses with the claim that the area was “in transition,” a fib if not a bald-faced lie, unless the transition were to be measured by decades rather than years, and even then the direction was uncertain.

Politicians decried the lack of upscale shopping in the border area, as though the working poor and those on and off food stamps were in desperate need of a Whole Foods. Eventually, enough tax money induced a national bookstore chain to open a store. The teenage gangs were grateful for a hangout, especially one with free Wi-Fi.

MEADHBH

the story: Web War II

“Captain Gecko reporting as ordered!” the middle-age, bedraggled officer said as he reported in. Colonel Layout returned his salute and gave his subordinate a quick glance. After years of Web Wars Gecko was still a solid soldier; frayed around the edges, but still solid.

“Gecko,” the colonel started. “This damned campaign has flipped over to quirks mode and reports are the border: just turned red. General staff fears it’ll be dotted with holes after the next event loop”

“Gecko, you have a right to know. Franky, we have reports…”

The rest was lost in the scream of a page reload.

BOTGIRL

Border Crossing

We transit countless borders

on the path between birth and death:

a severed cord; a breath of air;

a piercing cry; a mother’s breast;

a leaning stand; a stumbling step;

a spoken word; the alphabet;

a sweetest kiss; a cap and gown;

a broken heart; a wedding vow;

a newborn child; a parent’s grave;

an empty nest; a spouse estranged;

a hospice bed; the end of pain.

Waves from an endless ocean

Emerging from its infinite depths,

Rising towards the sky

Falling back to sea.

Form is emptiness.

Emptiness is form.

Such are we.

Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha!

ZACKMANN

There was this billboard ad and I wound up driving this guy to Canada so he could go surfboarding. Since he was paying for gas and meals it was a good mini vacation. We met at Borderlands Books then drove north to the Border.

We saw someone being herded south by a pack of multi colored dogs.

My new friend said “Dude, look at that.”

I replied “That’s the latest measure for border security. Gives new meaning to the name, Border Collies?”

“Dude, isn’t that like that one singer?” asked surfboarder.

“Apparently, there are some people Canada doesn’t want returning.”

###

“And we would would have gotten away with it too”

“If it hadn’t been for us meddling kids?” replied the young man with the askot.

“No, if our getaway driver had not been such an idiot. Before that day I thought only people in Douglas Adams books could actually die of embarrassment until my partner did. She and I were hiding under a quilt with borders in the backseat of the getaway car. She says “ Make a run for the border!” She died as police pulled up our quilt and she saw we were in a Taco Bell drive thru ”
zackmann

DAPHNE

Border by Daphne Abernathy

Run to the border they said. So I ran. I ran over hills, through forests, over cover bridges, into the mountains. I took shelter at night and avoided the bears. It took 3 days, but I made it. They said it would be worth the trek. I hope they didn’t lie, I’m starving.

I walked into the place. It was very crowded but everyone seemed so friendly. I walk up to the counter “I want a Chulupa.”

The man just smiled then said “Welcome to Tim Hortons, would you like a coffee and some TimBits?”

Dammit, wrong border.

JUSTIN

I stood in the warpgate looking at the map. Areas of blue, purple and green overlaid the map, showing the territories and who controlled them. I decided to deploy to a hot zone to support the New Conglomerate in holding a facility.

I deployed in my drop pod. I saw directly below me the onslaught of enemy tanks. My pod headed right towards them. I adjusted the aim, hoping I would hit one and damage or destroy the tank.

Instead, the pod broke apart around me, the tank apparently unharmed, and the enemy cut me down in about two seconds.

SEICHER

BORDER
Warm feet flat against worn old wooden floor
Palms pressed against cold glass pane
Breath up close leaving fog
In—gone
Out—cloud
Views past across the broken lane.

Past the bramble guards and the sentry oaks
Lay hold swells of green perfect cloaks.
Over there, in the sweetly refined air,
Fresh leaves flutter on softest winds.

Over there, as bright colored confetti
Flits cardinals, golden finches,
Idyllic laughter wafting on currents
Kept safely within boundaries.

Keeping stead the literal line so close
To touch, a million miles away,
The pocked pavement is drawn clear between
Containing them — curtailing us.

MUNSI

Bordering on Madness

By Christopher Munroe

We have to secure our borders with Madness, immediately!

For too long we’ve allowed Mad Men to cross freely, taking jobs in advertising from our own native-born citizens, and this must stop.

We must build a wall, and patrol it with drones, lest this unfair illegal immigration continue unabated, to do otherwise would be mad!

If we allow the free travel of the mad into our nation, before long we’ll be nothing more than a madhouse!

A madhouse!!!

Also: Make the wall soundproof. I like Madness, but if I hear One Step Beyond one more time, I’m going to snap…

SINGH

Stories on the Rim

Singh

1. On the rim of light and dark, yesterday and tomorrow, you are the sand and I am the sky. Here between us? A stack of driftwood.

when the tide goes out

I take a fire stick

smouldering in coals,

I nudge an ember

you blow it pink-green

till it flames up

like the core of an opal

fire rainbows on

and grows and spreads

till the rich ember

is sucked dry of its

aurora borealis

lit gas on black coal

lights up the horizon

the pinkish-green and red

fire-break of sunset

like this we glow large

through metaphor

2. On the rim of sea, sand, sky and bay, of dark and epi-dark we see a beach possum. It doesn’t give a damn about us.

the surf has a lisp

the night’s a thug

the wind slaps hard

across the promenade

two walkers think big

yet talk of nothing

a gust is at large

on no-man’s sand

blowing bad needles

across the scrap kingdom

the pizza box flaps

between the tussocks

wafting its grease —

a pheromone come-on

to a lout with a snout

walking this way

this lord of leftovers

with tail skunk-upright

has left the tree

3. On the rim of suburb and surf, the train line rattles at the ear’s border rushing off elsewhere to avoid being relevant.

sunset shared its pink sparkle

now darkness takes no snaps

as phone text breaks news

these breakers pound the shore

o iPad don’t push your message

(yes, beach grass prick my arse)

big receptions, small glasses of sour grapes

the wind blows raspberries

what’s this? a local golf ball

lost ambition in a tussock

governments are wet castles

(pst! who’s dumping down the next?)

take this chocolate bar now

chew a chunk of wow

an election’s coming?

(vote for seagulls)

4. On the rim, sex’s recreational drug…

I won’t say no to lying down with you

letting you fiddle with my weekend fun

when your tongue advances on my tongue

I’ll gladly be your jet ski on a surf run

I’ll give you casual rights to take the bait,

letting you work your sand-butt attitude

rake your nails, ride the moby, yowl

heaven’s beach just wants us to stay nude

rub static from hard nipples through my chest

get strange night vision through the will of two

then see five million body hairs rise up

all erect in unison with you

5. On the rim of sand, the surf rolls in to tell what’s classical.

afterwards, might be a let down — stalking the wave needs strong coffee

recuperate out of earshot while surf breakers blag at the rocks

dogs will be walking owners, snuffling shore crab and kelp scrap

bathers come out to play truant with their nine-to-five jelly brain tiredness

so go steal back coin from the sea that swallows bikinis and iron men

whale-ride the wave of the bay as the muscle that flexes your moment

but know the ocean’s cold shoulder cares nothing at all for us

6. On the rim of the real and the virtual I remember a presiding presence.

was there a lighthouse? where? no one can say

beyond the rocks and detonating white

now seldom do the boats come past this way

there is no scribble, secret map, or essay,

there is no lamp, or flapping weather kite

was there a lighthouse here? no one can say

they claim the beam was visible from the highway

now lit by neon sign and traffic light

and seldom do the boats come past this way

Although its home remains a hideaway

I need to find a corridor to the starlight

if there’s no lighthouse – how? no one can say

did it once shine here, or is it hearsay?

who built the tower once so firmly upright?

now seldom do the boats come past this way

nothing is firm beneath the Milky Way,

yet, I need a bridge to cross from day to night

is there a lighthouse? where? no one can say

if one could see it on this moonless bay,

above the waves – a white road through the night,

if one could see the lighthouse he could say,

and all the boats might start to come this way

7. At the rim of ocean, there is no beach, just the waiting

because the night is thick behind the pines

just wait it out upon your couch

because the waves are ranting over the rocks

fight them back with stereo knobs

because this house is lighting up the coast

why should a boat not come this way?

because the fire logs are made of brass

remember comfort pays your rent

because the night is only half the coin

go make some tea and sit because

sunrise needs to see her in the doorway

for this, you spend your nights with words

LIZZIE

“They’re children, children!” An armed man looked at the bus driver with doped eyes. “No.” The frustration amongst the adults of the convoy was palpable. 375 tired and restless kids kept their eyes wide open. They were so young, piled up inside the buses, uncomfortable and very thirsty. In the control post, armed men held rusted katanas. Suddenly, a local authority talked to them. The convoy rushed away. The children finally arrived at the safety of a border and a foreign home. When interviewed, the man responsible for the convoy simply replied “I only answered the voice of my conscience.”

DONDO

Billy had tickets to see Velvet Crush, the rock band he’d waited to see for years. The car was loaded up for the drive to the club, a couple hours away near the border. The smartphone was running GPS for the trip, which Billy was following closely.
His excitement grew when the GPS spoke in a robotic voice, “Concert Club one mile away”, but his heart dropped when it continued, “200 yards beyond the border”. Billy drove up to the crossing and parked on the side of the road, fearful.
He’d heard too many stories about nausea and crashes at borders, and was afraid to cross.

RICK THOMAS

Clinton and Temple Hills were separated by a forest with a creek running right down the middle. That creek was the border for the young boys of those two towns. At the time we knew each other only well enough to know which side of that border we DIDN’T belong on.

Get yourself caught on the wrong side of that creek and you were setting yourself up for a real good beating!

We weren’t punks or bullies … just instinctively territorial!

50 years later … we’re all good friends now!

ALL good men!

All grateful for the lessons learned in those woods!!!

MIATA

I stood at the back of the room. All the family was crying, but I had seen that many
times before. Actually, there were times when I had observed no one upset at a body
crossing the border to the beyond.
In dealings with passings, I have seen family members counting the minutes until
their inheritance, and that’s when, if I had my own say, I would take them all. But, I have
orders to obey……unfortunately.
The worst deaths, are when no one is there to mourn. Sadly, even though I am the
death angel, I still have feelings.

FRANK

Frank was telling me how, in the old days, there weren’t always clear borders between nations.
“They had what they call marches. There wasn’t a line on the ground as such. It was an area of land between two countries. In fact, the title Marquis was what you called the guy in charge. Things were fuzzier back then. It was good to have some space between kingdoms so if someone trespassed; it wasn’t such a big deal. The border wasn’t so strict, see? That was a good thing.”
I told Frank to keep his damned dog out of my yard.

TOM

Maintain Order at the Border with Mortar. The banner over the wall read. Both sides were fond of lobbing explosives at each other. Over time the deadzone on either side of the wall extended to the edge of their respective capitals. Feed-up with the drum-beat of war all the mothers gathered up their babies made for the border. To punish their flagrant act of disloyalty both sides fired their missiles. The women at the wall watched rockets arch overhead vaporizing their respective capitals. The women cut holes in the wall, but left the banner to fly free in full folly.

RED

How do you miss something you never had? Lola is haunted by a recurring dream where she opens a door and watches her father walks away. She never sees his face, and he doesn’t look back. She heard random stories about him while eavesdropping on grown folk’s talk. Her mother can’t even say his name without anger in her eyes. Her grandmother often says Lola has his wit and wisdom. She’s flattered but frustrated to be compared to an invisible man. Even outside the hotel, she exists on the border. She is exposed to the world, yet lives in fragments.

NORVAL JOE

Flerdy lay on the bank of a small stream, dipping a net into the water. Covered from head to toe to fingertips in his ‘Second Skin’ dermal protective suit, and wearing protective goggles he looked like a giant, grey salamander. Borle stood a meter away wearing the standard-issue orange environmental suit.
“You could have saved yourself a million creds and just worn a flight-issue suit like mine,” Borle said.
Before Flerdy could respond a man stepped out of the rainforest, pulse-rifle aimed at Borle’s chest, and said, in a vaguely Irish accent, “Border Patrol. Put your hands in the air.”

Widow Finklestien hummed as she loaded the few dishes into the dishwasher, thinking it would take just enough time for Missy Angelina Finklestien to take care of her business in the back yard.
On a meager pension, the widow, Wilma, had saved for years to buy the border collie puppy.
The dog was the offspring of two grand champions and tomorrow morning she would be bred with another champion. Wilma already counted the dollars from the sale of the litter.
As she opened the door a streak of silver shot away from Missy and through a hole under the fence.

PLANET Z

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

I was driving down by the border when I saw him.

The Buddha.

So, I swerved and hit him.

I had to beat him with the tire iron a few times.

Now that I have a chance to look him over, I realize something.

He’s not the Buddha.

So, I tossed him into the trunk and drove out to the woods.

Where I buried the others.

They weren’t Buddha, either.

I’ll keep looking, though.

Maybe, one day, I’ll find him.

The Buddha.

On the road.

And I will kill him.

14 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #361 – Border”

  1. Tura, Thomas, Miata, … heck all the stories were awesome! I think the prompt “border” was a real good one!

    Interesting how listening to the podcast gives a better understanding of how the author wanted his story to be heard.

    L.S. … I’m a spreadsheet kinda guy myself! I’d be interested in what you find … if you’re in a mood to share!

    1. If you look at past weeks and look at this week, I think the difference is so obvious, a spreadsheet isn’t necessary.

      The overwhelming majority of Empire Avenue traffic is raw circlejerk SEO tit-for-tat noise. Rare is the legitimate and honest individual who goes beyond that noise and actually cares… joins in… gets inspired… participates…

      If all of that only resulted in just one person joining and sticking so they could be inspired to write, I think it was worth it.

      I’ll rant a bit on AudioBoo for a bit, but in the end, it’s just points… attention-economy… noise.

      What really matters are the people who get inspired and write… read… listen… inspire others… and think.

      -ls/cm

  2. The topic “border” seemed to inspire a wide range of pathways for stories.

    Although I usually prefer the “traditional” storytelling option, I’d like to highlight Botgirl, Seicher and Singh’s entries; lots of food for thought, great sentences with plenty of “word-music”, my clumsy way of saying how musical texts can be. I actually think some of these could be the lyrics to songs! Anyone? A challenge? ;)

    I also liked Dondo’s story a lot (check his blog for a pic of SL that gives it a bit of a twist! All SL’ers will relate to it)!

    Rick’s story made me go back to childhood and street territorial wars! We didn’t have a river, but living in street A and walking through street B… well… it could be extremely hazardous! Glad to have you sending in your stories!

    Red’s story feels like “talking” to an old acquaintance and it’s absolutely amazing to see what will be written about a life lived “in fragments”! I enjoyed it a lot!

    Finally, Planet Z’s story, oops! As someone guilty of killing a lot of characters, I can totally relate to this story ;) Great job!

      1. Very true! I feel for them. All piled up in a grave in the woods, thinking Buddha is there with them… And then the disappointment… Oh, it’s not Buddha… It’s… Someone… The life of a victim is tough!

  3. Some great stories this week – Botgirl’s was just immense, and fabulously well read too, sent shivers down my spine!

    Planet Z came up trumps too: a lovely, twisted story, and again… that voice!

    Great work everyone!

    1. Yeah, those EA mission folks… most of them were just vapor. SEO noise.

      Oh well. Let their bots enjoy the traffic elsewhere. It’s who reads and writes and enjoy that matters.

      -ls/cm

    2. Thank you, Jordie :)
      In Portuguese we have a saying that roughly translated to English is “to separate the wheat from the chaff”. I guess now we know who is what! But Lawrence is right. If this effort brought one new storyteller to the group, even if only one, then it was worth it.
      Finally, I know Lawrence doesn’t like it, but each one of us, storytellers, writers, listeners should thank him for the great job he does each week. It’s not easy. So, thank you!

  4. A lot of good stories (I don’t need to be bribed to say that – it’s always true). Some of the ones I particularly liked included those from Serendipity – I loved the idea of subversively moving the border – and Daphne. And Lizzie’s story was heartwarming, especially the final line.

  5. I love Serendipity’s stealthy war. Munsi has lost his mind. And Planet Z is hell on holy men and the homeless.

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