Weekly Challenge #362 – Pick Two

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 a PICK TWO:

Fix
Cheat
Zone
Books
Normal
Falling
Beside
Dark
Hotel
Nothing
Reason
Benjamin Franklin

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

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

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:

Tinny and Mousie


THOMAS

The cheat books that Mary sold to her classmates were a source of income for Mary’s family. The miniature books that Mary sold were filled with names and dates from her art history notes for the class, and yet small enough to consult during the final exam in the great hall. The first year at State brought several hundred dollars into the family, allowing Mary and her brothers and sisters to eat properly and have some new clothes for school. Mary went on to major in finance and political science. She applied what she learned to business and political parties.

#

On the way to fly his kite with his son, Willy, Benjamin Franklin kept tripping and falling, having drank a quart of raspberry wine to elevation, as was his habit every afternoon. His first attempt at putting his kite into the stormy sky was clumsy and awkward. He had put too much tail on the kite, and the sail was far too small for the heavy key he attached to the silk ribbon, which served to protect him from any shock. Other curious and enthusiastic gadgeteers and amateur scientists, attempting to duplicate his experiment, met a tragic death by electrocution.

#

The vacant sign flashed on and off, at the top of the dark hotel. Smedley and his lady friend, Desdimona, took the room at the end of the corridor. They undressed, had their way with each other, ate supper, then retired for the evening. Around two, they were awakened by dogs running back and forth in the hall. Smedley, a curious, and audacious man, stepped into the hallway to investigate. The dogs, eyeing Smedley, stopped short and froze. Smedley was nude, and the sight of this man and the rangy display of his reproductive apparatus, shocked and frightened the animals.

#

The normal zone was open…set aside as refuge for folks that met the criteria of the corporate sponsors, anyone visiting would have to wear a photo badge. If entering without the ID, escorts would accompany them out of the zone. Once in the zone, conversations were limited. Any mention of guns, violence, Christian dogma, and red meat were off limits. Smoking was prohibited, and drinks in a paper cup larger than 24 ounces was verboten. Half pants, sandals with socks, white tennis shoes, hats with rain condoms, Big Ben Overalls, and black stretch pants on obese women were expelled.

JEFFREY

When Giants Dream
by Jeffrey Fischer

Benjamin Franklin was one of the great thinkers of his time, a man of reason, with a love of books and a larger than normal capacity for nonlinear thinking. Yet Franklin had a dark side, too, one that nothing could extinguish. Although he was a successful merchant, he would occasionally fix prices with his competitors. He also invented the Sudoku puzzle. Sitting alone in his hotel, he would cheat at his own game, though this shamed him. At night he would place his bifocals on the table beside his bed and, falling asleep, would reflect on the untrustworthy nature of man before zoning out.

Void
by Jeffrey Fischer

The space ship fell out of hyperspace into what should have been a well-mapped solar system in the Lesser Magellanic Cloud. Instead, the display showed nothing, a dark void. The instruments were not dead, but gave no readings at all. The hyperdrive did not respond. A small bead of perspiration developed on Barry’s forehead. He was as nervous as he’d ever been in his life, more so than on his first trip into the blackness of H-space. He had heard that jumps between normal and H-space could go badly wrong, trapping a ship permanently in a state of quantum uncertainty. Of course, no one had ever returned from such an event, so the theory had to remain unproven. Until now.

BOTGIRL

Blackout Prayer

Bare trees. Sunlight fading. Snow falling.

The power’s been out for hours now. The slain sounds of the modern world arise like ghosts, manifesting in the empty space they’ve left behind.

I’m haunted in the still silence by myriad gifts that are almost invisible in their ever-presence. My family’s love. My body’s health. My clear mind. The countless comforts of our First World prosperity.

What a waste . . . what a shame . . . to only appreciate the bounty of life in needful retrospect.

May we be fully present within our lives. May we savor the grace of each moment in conscious awareness.

RICHARD

Heliosphere

We were falling… inexorably falling into the heart of the sun.

Scattered around the cabin, an array of equipment and spare parts: tubing, duct-tape, circuit boards, even used food containers – all that we had to work with, and we were out of ideas.

Mission control had their best minds on the job: teams of experts desperately puzzling over how those few items could save our lives.

The radio crackled:

“Guys, our work down here is concluded!”

“Great news, Houston, you can fix it?”

“Erm… that’s a negative. But look at the bright side, guys – you’re all gonna die heroes!”

Wake-up Call

George’s eyes snapped open.

How long had he been out cold? And why had the familiar sounds of the busy hospital been replaced by utter, deafening silence?

Why, indeed, was the ward in disarray, and where were the patients, the staff… anybody?

In hospital gown and bare feet, George limped along the empty corridors. Through windows, snatched glimpses of a desolate and empty city.

George was no fool – he’d seen the films, he recognised the all too familiar signs – what was this? Zombie apocalypse, alien invasion or carnivorous, sentient plants?

One thing was sure.

Things would never be normal again.

MUNSI

Highway

By Christopher Munroe

I was driving unreasonably fast, considering how dark it was.

Still, nobody’d ever accused me of being reasonable. And the music playing had me pumped up, feeling invincible, unstoppable. Like nothing in the world could touch me.

And as I sped through the night, I threw back my head in triumph and joy and sang along as it played…

“Highway to the danger zone!”

…I flipped the car, naturally. I was speeding and singing rather than paying attention to where I was going.

Nobody’s fault but mine.

What did I expect, after all, from a place called the Danger Zone?

LIZZIE

Oh, stupidity alert!

The hotel lounge was covered in bookshelves. At first, he thought they were just shelves.

“Oh, no. Bookshelves,” corrected the receptionist.

“But… where are the books?”

“Oh, no idea….”

The blatant disinterest of the young lady bothered him.

“How do you know these are bookshelves?”

“Oh, I know,” she muttered.

“Did someone tell you?”

“Oh, no…”

He always expected her to say more, how frustrating.

“Right, I’ll buy a book tomorrow and place it on that shelf.”

“Oh, we don’t need books gathering dust here…”

“Bookshelves gather dust too!”

“Oh, not as much…”

He sighed hopelessly and thought “Oh, dear…”

To fix or to cheat

A veterinarian was investigated after the scandal. Hordes of puppy litters were born, despite the best efforts of dog owners. So, the vet was forced to follow the rules, but he would still bend them occasionally, just to make an extra buck. He could always question if the male pets neutered by him really fathered those puppies. The ineffective spaying would be a bit more difficult to explain though. One day, a dog about to be neutered overheard a conversation between the vet and his assistant. To fix or to cheat! All the anxious dog could think of was “Cheat! Cheat!”

ZACKMANN

You see, my partner is very upset. Nunzio is all besides himself because our books say you owes our boss some Abraham Lincolns. Iffin you don’t do something to fix this Nunzio is likely to fall into a dark zone in which there will be no reasoning with him. There is nothing doing but to be giving in to Nunzio before he gets really upset. Sculptures who upset Nunzio normally find themselves alone in hotel rooms. That is a cheat on my part because usually housekeeping finds what is left of them.

“Okay take both the Lincoln busts they’re yours.”

TURA

Philosophers drew burning oil out of the earth. General Wei turned their fire back on them and destroyed them and their works.

Philosophers compassed the nullification of gravity. General Wei seized their flying machines and hunted down the philosophers, destroying them and their works.

Philosophers discerned the fundamental reasonings of clerks and secretaries. General Wei seized their computing engines and computed their destruction.

He said of these matters, “Change brings disorder. Order must be maintained.” Then he commanded his scribes to record these things in a book never to be opened, entitled, “The Critique of Pure Reason By Practical Reason.”

TOM

Colonial MashUP

I Fixed the Cheat
so I added it to one of my Zone Books
Normally I find my advices Falling
Beside the wayside of the Dark Hotel
Nothing under the sun is new
nor the Reason we carry on.
Benjamin Franklin
Was rather fond of writing crap like
This to fill up the space in that damn
Magazine of his.
I for one just want to know
When it’s going to fuckn rain,
Forget the furlongs to forte-nights
Conversion table or pithy commentaries’ on life,
Cram it Benny
Let out some more string on the kit
If you catch my drift.

SEVI and BONCHANCE

Ben by Severina Halostar and Bonchance Longfall

I once read a peculiar story about domestic turkeys. Several of them drowned in falling rain because they looked up. I didn’t research the validity of this tall tale, but domesticated turkeys are not very bright.

It reminded me about how our founding fathers argued over selecting our national bird. It is providence that the eagle won out.
Benjamin Franklin had a great deal of influence in these discussions. Documentation highlights that Ben strongly endorsed the turkey for our national bird. The wild turkey must truly be a majestic bird. I base this on a rather high opinion of Mr Franklin.

Better than spinach! by Severina Halostar and Bonchance Longfall

I found myself in a desert with not much more than water. Spring in the desert is fascinating, delicate flowers debut, peaking thru the silky sand. Tumbleweed foraging across the plain threatens the delicate flora.

The falling sunset and cloak of dark, chills the desert air. A campfire, a steaming warm pot of spiced water can be inviting. Just mix up a spice or two, add water and a small sphere of the youngest windwitch and you have yourself a tasty meal. A nice dinner before curling up under warmth of your blanket before the days heat rises once again.

DAPHNE

Falling Book Zone
by Daphne Abernathy

Be careful this next block is a Falling Book Zone. Well, more of a Throwing Book Zone. There’s a guy on the 5th floor who’s been throwing books for about a week. He screamed something about “I read the books first!” and then pegged some poor guy with a Tolkien. I think it was all the Games of Thrones hype. It just got to him. It’s everywhere and Martin’s so busy with the show he isn’t writing the last 2 books. So be careful. Do not run in a straight line. Ok, Go!

Serpentine! Serpentine!

A Storm of Swords to head, that’s ironic and painful.

SERENDIPITY

We were about to enter The Zone – a warning buzzer sounded, accompanied by amber flashing lights.

Nervously, we looked at each other, fidgeting now in our seats. A bead of sweat trickled down my back and I shivered in fear of the unknown.

Our guide’s voice crackled over the intercom:

“When we enter The Zone, please remember to keep alert – ensure you report anything that doesn’t appear to be normal behaviour”

Thoroughly spooked, I jabbed at the ‘reply’ button: “Define – ‘doesn’t appear to be normal'”

The response was worrying: “Oh, irrational fears, shivers, fidgeting, cold sweats, that kind of behaviour…”

KRISTIN

“Are you ready for this responsibility?” Her father asked.

“Yes, YES!” She shouted.

She had proved herself with the fish hadn’t she? The rabbit was no problem, either.

He took her hand and they walked together toward the giant glass enclosure.

“Now you can only pick two”, he said, “even though I know you want them all.”

She DID want them all. She wanted the big one in front jumping to get her attention, the stripey one going in circles, the shy one in the corner.

Finally she choose a pair of siblings, curled up together.
Best lobster dinner ever.

REDGODDESS

Celebrities often claim they just want a “normal” life, like broke ordinary people. Stars get tired of being followed by fans and photographed in their most vulnerable moments. Ironically, the normal people crave the limelight and the money that afford celebrities a lavish lifestyle. They get in debt buying stuff celebrities sell. The dark truth is, normalcy is an illusion. Lola doesn’t want either one since she’s witnessed the pitfalls of both. What she yearns is to chase her dreams, on her own terms.

MIATA STARDUST

“Pick two, any two!”, the carnie worker yelled as I walked by. Mom had told me never to look at anyone from the carnival. Obedient, I did as I was told and walked even faster.
I got to the trailer, and handed Mama her pills. She was so sick, and this time I was really worried. As she lay in her bed, I went outside.
“Dear God”, I began to pray, “Please help my Mama! Please don’t take her.” I heard a cough. Startled, I turned to see the man from the carnival. His weather beaten lips whispered, “Amen.”

CLIFF

In the end, there was no pain. The world faded and darkness folded over him. When the darkness lifted, he saw that he wasn’t alone. She was with him.
“Hello, love,”
“Hello, yourself,” she said with a chuckle. “Took you long enough.”
He sat up and for the first time in years, his joints didn’t hurt.
“So, this is heaven?”
“Not exactly. None of the stories got it right.”
“So what is it?”
“It’s more amazing than we ever imagined.”
“As long as you’re beside me, I’ll be happy with whatever it is.”
She took his hand in hers.
“Always.”

STEVEN THE NUCLEAR MAN

He groaned as she rubbed his shoulders. “That’s cheating,” he whispered.

“And you’re objecting sooo strongly.”. She ran her lips along his ear. Her voice grew husky. “Take your shirt off.”

He rolled over on the bed. “Ladies first.”

Later, as they rested on the sweaty hotel sheets, he whispered “I’m falling for you.”

The succubus smiled and turned to kiss him and claim his soul, and was surprised to hear herself say “I’m falling for you, too.”

She was more surprised to find her horns locked with those of her incubus lover.

They laughed and kissed again and again.

TAMMI

M.T.A. Widow

It is not for lack of a nickel, but if he pays to exit the train, he’ll admit I won the bet.

He said he was going to visit his cousin. I knew he was lying. I also knew my Charlie to be a betting man who never read the front page of the newspaper.

Now, he’s trapped on the train. Like any gambler over his head, he prays for a miracle.

In Roxbury, I imagine his doxie watches our story in the papers with growing dismay. Charlie can never leave town since he became a tool of the socialists.

NORVAL JOE

“Slowly now. Lift the visor on your protective suit,” the boarder guard said pointing at Borle’s helmet with his blaster rifle.
“Our visas are in order, but we left them back in the hotel in Dublinville,” Borle said after lifting the visor.
“Who’s we? Do you have a snerkle in your pocket?” The guard laughed.
Flerdy froze. His grey Second Skin Dermal suit blended with the dark, rich, soil of the stream bank.
“I’ve got nothing in my pocket,” Borle said, not understanding the guard’s joke.
“You’re in a restricted zone, funny boy. I’m taking you in. Now, move out.”

Dergle started awake, the bowl of cold spaghetti falling from his lap. He sat on the edge of the couch wondering what woke him.
Someone hammered on the front door.
“Coming,” he shouted, getting to his feet, and hurrying to peek through the long window beside the door.
“Widow Finklestien. It’s awfully late,” he began. She cut him off.
“If you don’t do something about your wiener dog, I’ll fix him myself.” Her face was beet red.
He understood her anger; there’s no cute way to combine the names, Border Collie and Dachshund: Bordachollie? Dockie Collar? How about Wiener Collie?

JUSTIN

Josh and I were playing the new expansion for Jedi Knight named Mysteries of the Sith. It was just the two of us running around a map hacking at each other with lightsabers. I told Josh, who was playing in the same room as me, to find me on the map and that I wanted to take a picture of him. Eventually we found each other on the large map. I told him to stand just there near the cliff, then I tried the Force Push power, and sent him screaming over the edge. I laughed and laughed and laughed!

Now, several weeks late, is my story for St. Patrick’s Day

Games are educational, even the games that aren’t specifically so. For instance, while playing Gateway, I learned two things. I learned that Tom could be spelled Thom, with an H. I also learned some social skills. When I needed some information from Thom, I had no idea why he kept looking at someone else’s drink. So I asked Dad, who had also played the game, about Thom (I was corrected when I pronounced the H) and he said I was supposed to buy him a drink. Now I know a little bit about subtle hints, as well. Education by Gaming.

DANNY

“This is actually a response to a non-sensical post to my WordPress page from a guy named Dennis. This is my response: to exactly what your responding to, I have no idea, but, it seems to be relevant, in your mind. Anyway, in some sad, yet demented way, I get to use an enormous amount of commas in my response to you. Unfortunately, I, in your mind, am only armed with a shovel I can use only in a distinct way, said shovel cannot be used while shopping at garage sales, which only makes sense, since using a shovel to shop at garage sales will likely result in an arrest for assault with a deadly weapon. GREAT POINT. Good luck with your disadvantaged posts to Craigslist. If my legal career has taught me anything, only sexual predators post there, so please beware if your trying to buy a car, the Honda your eyeing up is more than likely just a penis. Sweet dreams.

Oh, if any of the 2 words I was supposed to include in my story were not included, let me finish by stating: FIX THE CHEAT ZONE BEFORE THE BOOKS BECOME NORMAL ENOUGH TO MAKE IT SOUND LIKE FALLING BESIDE DARK HOTELS LEAVES NOTHING TO REASON! That is all.”

SINGH

1. Naming Islands
“These are my two peas in a pod,” she said.
“Yes Madam. After your shipwreck and being in your condition, I have thought of two names,” the Captain, her rescuer said.
With that, he inscribed each new island on the nautical map.
“We are in your debt, Captain. Will you stand also as Godfather?”
A tear fell, spreading an atoll of ink on the parchment, as affectionately he touched the twins, each at the fontanel. Then, clearing emotion from his throat said, “Zephyr and Zephyrean, welcome — children born of the storm.”

“Cut. Good job everyone. We’re done today,” said the director.

2. Kangaroo Rescue
“Multiple breaks. She has to be put down,” the vet said.
He nodded. Unable to hop she’d never survive in the bush.
 Her kangaroo mother had already ended up as roadkill.
After the injection, he brought Suzy back in the pillowcase, still doubling as a joey’s pouch, to buried her.
Meanwhile, back home, two other heads poked from pillowcases, hooked to his bedposts. They were hungry.
He filled baby bottles with formula.
“Drink!” he sing-songed. The babies suckled obediently.
Three roos make a mob better able to survive dingos, but fate had cheated, leaving just two.
Why, he wondered? Why?

3. Easter Gift
He’d found five dollars in the loading zone darkness, but inside, the supermarket had too many aisles. He wandered dazed, confused.
Thinking him a vagrant shoplifter the manager yelled, “Hey!”
“I got money. See?” the tramp said, rattled. He grabbed some biscuits and scampered to the checkout.
Now, the hot cross buns on display troubled him. Choose us, choose us.
“Bring them,” whispered the checkout girl ringing up zeros, yet bagging both because she felt his trouble.
“Five exactly,” she said and then returned five dollars in change. “Thank you. Do have a very happy Easter, Sir.”
He gasped.
She winked.

4. Speed Dating

pick one
pick two
pick me?
pick you?

All she wants is money
all he wants is honey
I just had chlamydia
sorry, gotta get rid of ya.
His muscles are spectacular
I bet she bites like Dracula.
Do you gamble, honey-bun?
I bet she weighs a ton.

Would you cheat on your lover?
Will you meet my mother?
I’ve had sex with my brother
I’m a cop under cover.
We’ve met it must be fate
perhaps, but cut your rate
Sex toys might be fun
beware I have a gun

I’ve had a mastectomy
I survived vasectomy
I’m noisy, hyperbolic
I’m limp and alcoholic.
Do you cook do you sing
Are you straight do you swing?
Hey Baby, let’s la Bamba
I don’t give out my number.

Pick two
Pick one
Stay you
Pick none
Chris Mooney-Singh
Melbourne,
Singapore.

PLANET Z

Books keep falling off of the shelf, says the hotel manager. He wants me to fix it.

The shelf looked normal to me. No reason for the books to fall.

Then, in the dark, the ghost of Benjamin Franklin appeared.

And the ghost of a hooker appeared beside him.

“Tell the ghost of my wife nothing!” he hissed, and he proceeded to bang the hell out of that hooker.

They shook the wall, which knocked books loose.

“Can you hire a librarian hooker?” I asked.

Benjamin laughed and vanished.

The next time, she stayed to re-shelf the books.

Thanks, Ben.

8 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #362 – Pick Two”

    1. Thanks, Gerard. I normally go for the joke but this one was special. My wife’s uncle Henry just passed away. His wife, Barbara passed away about two years ago. So, this one is for them and for my wife. Glad you liked it as well.

  1. Hi Laurence and all you writers…

    I always enjoy the podcasts on Sunday. The truth is I enjoy the whole show and it’s hard to pic favorites.

    I’m going to try to give a shoutout to at least three peeps each week, sooo… I always enjoy Zackman and I don’t think I’ve given him a shoutout before today. Yay Zack! And how could I not mention my alltime favorite Lizzie Gudkov. Yay Lizzie! And why have I never given a shoutout to “Tom Here” hehe. Yay Tom! Ok, and I love Tura’s deep manly delivery. Yay Tura! Well, yes, and Dephne Abernathey too. Yay Dephne!

    Luv the stories and the podcast. Hugs to all… xoxo Yordie

    1. TY, Yordie. “Real life” has taken me away from the computer this past week, with just the brief login into SL and out again… I hope to get back to writing more as things recover their normal pace. Funny thing. Not writing as much as I was doing before is messing up my inner balance! I get grumpy (well… -ier)! Ok, venting time over!

      Miata’s story was very close to home, so I really enjoyed the story. Well done.

  2. As usual, a lot of good stories. I’m going to get sentimental this week and confess that I particularly liked Cliff’s story. (And it’s a good thing that the lady didn’t find a new boyfriend in the hereafter while waiting. That would have been embarrassing.)

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed all! Kristen, Cliff and Miata especially so! Daphne made me chuckle out loud!!!

    My time management so sucks! Just now reading it now, and found no time to write anything last week! One would think “one a week until the day I die” is do-able!?!?

    Angry with myself and determined to hold myself to a higher standard!

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