Weekly Challenge #365 – Pick a number

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 PICK A NUMBER:

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

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

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:

Curled sleepy


I enjoy working with numbers in my head. It keeps my brain fresh and young. I listen to the Canadian FM stations, living just 26 miles from Victoria, just on the South side of the Strait. All the morning’s weather is announced in Centigrade, so I have to convert to Fahrenheit to get the temperature. It’s easy. For example, if they say “plus four”, I multiply by eight to get 80 percent of four. I add that to four (3.2+4=7.2) , then add 32, to get an approximate temperature in Fahrenheit (39.2). The actual conversion is 39.4, but it’s close.
His personal utensil got number and number. He had done an experiment with the pills found in his uncle’s medicine cabinet, mixing them with morning coffee and Bailey’s Irish Cream. He was assured it would wear off, but it was no guarantee he would find himself recovering fully. He thought that the pills would provide four or five hours of full inflation so his afternoon with Veronica would be more adventuresome and delightful. Silly is as silly does. The condition didn’t go away for two weeks, and he was too embarrassed to seek medical help or go out into public.
Numbers. Check out numbers in the Bible. See where numbers are mentioned, or look up “Bible numerology” on Google. If you believe that numbers can reveal the future, or uncover mystical intelligence, you are delving into the dangerous realm of divination and the occult. Your family and friends might not like this, and folks at the coffee house might find this discommodious. Waving crystals over your croissant, carving profane characters into the table top, and only eating bagels if the decoding of the sesame seeds on the pastry add up to a prime number, might be troubling to those nearby.
She had my numbers. All of them. I couldn’t get a thing by her. She knew when I was watering down the liquor in the cherry wood cabinet in the dining room, and she could smell cigarettes on my breath from fifty feet away. My dear, old mother was a wise, fair and diligent detective, unflaggingly protecting me from death, disease and early detention. Mom was a nurse, and worked with nurses and doctors in the operating room. She heard outlandish jokes from the docs, and brought stories home to share with Dad and her number one son, over supper.



I’m just another number in the world, the first set of numbers are given to you
the day you’re born. The second set of numbers that you receive in life is your
Social Security number. A nine-digit number you share, because you’re part of
the calculated, algorithm, system, shared electronically everywhere.

“Click, sending”

Coming in at number one is awesome, but if you’re second or third, you’re
mediocre. However, women and men that score a ten in looks are equivalent to
a number one, really.

Therefore, no matter what your numbers are in life you are always a number


The Singer
by Jeffrey Fischer

Steve nodded his head in time to the music as the intro kicked in. The last number of his set was a catchy, upbeat tune, designed to send the customers away happy, humming the melody as they filled the aisles.

After fifteen years in the business, though, Steve no longer left the stage happy. Night after night, in one small room after another in cheap Vegas hotels, Steve sang numbers made famous by the Rat Pack and dreamed of performing his own songs to appreciative crowds. Year by year, his optimism waned as his dream faded.

He gripped the microphone stand and hit the first notes, an upbeat tune but a sad song.

Sixteen Numbers
by Jeffrey Fischer

Barbara handed the cashier her Discover card. She looked down at the meager collection of groceries and household items, knowing they had to last until payday, and that that would be a stretch. Even then she wasn’t sure how she would make the minimum payment on the card, but that was a worry for another day. The items weren’t quite hers yet, though, were they? One more hurdle remained, often the trickiest one: sending those sixteen precious digits through the wires, praying for the word “Accepted” to appear on the cashier’s screen. Barbara closed her eyes and crossed her fingers…


#1 – 3.142
Never trust a mathematician.

Oh, they seem so self-assured and smug, with their proofs and constants – numbers never lie, they say, it must be you who are wrong.

Well, I’m telling you – they’re a bunch of charlatans and deceivers, every last one of them!

Pi – they will tell you – is a wonderful number: it holds the secrets of the circle and is perfect in every way.


I’ve studied Greek and I’ll tell you something for nothing… Pi is not a number – it’s a letter, a letter I tell you, and that is a simple truth and incontrovertible fact!

#2 – I called…

I found your number in an old address book. In that moment I was transported back through the years, to those happy times we shared together.

I remembered the laughter in your voice and the way your eyes sparkled when you smiled. I remembered how we made our plans for the future and dreamed of possibilities untold. I remembered the promises we made.

But that was long ago.

And I dared to hope that time might heal all things.

With trembling hands and pounding heart I took the plunge, picked up the ‘phone and dialled.

But, just like our lives…


#3 – Disturbance

George awoke.

Something had disturbed him.

Eyes straining in the grey light of dawn, he withdrew into the shadows, listening intently.

There it was again – a clatter from the recesses of the kitchen.

Steeling himself, he felt the reassuring weight of a cleaver in his hand, and crept towards the source of the disturbance.

“Who’s there?”, he shouted in a cracked, high-pitched voice, to be rewarded with an angry yowl and a streak of tawny fur, dashing between his feet.

He sank to the ground – “A damn cat, George!”, he giggled nervously, “and you thought your number was up!”


“Gimme a dollar,” mumbled the shabby old man.

“Why?” I asked.

“I will give you the entire universe, now and forever!” he replied.

“Ri-i-ight…” I said. “If it’s yours to give, why are you selling it for a dollar?”

“Good point!” he grunted, “but is it good enough? Do the numbers! How often are you ever wrong? Multiply that by the payoff– if that comes to more than a dollar, make the bet!”

And that’s how I became owner of the universe. But I’ll sell it to you for two dollars. The numbers say I have to make a profit.



By Christopher Munroe

One is the loneliest number, but it shouldn’t be. After appearing in a popular song, it could make some friends.

Hotels have no floor number thirteen, but they do have thirteenth floors. The one above the twelfth is the thirteenth no matter what you call it.

That’s how counting works.

When asked to choose a number between one and ten, I choose Pi.

Because I’m a smartass.

These are things I know about numbers, and they’re all true.

But, right now, the only important number is 100.

That’s the number I need.

The number I strive for.

There we go.


Imaginary Number Aren’t

Don’t ask me why, but I got hooked on the television show Numbers. Watched 18 in a row. In the DVD/Netflexs age it isn’t uncommon for someone to do a Lost weekend or watch the Sopranos till their eyes bled. Since I’m a bit slow on the up-take I failed to note the underlying formulaic nature of the show. Yup, it took me five Tom Swift novels to realize it was always the same novel. Same thing happened after the ninth James Patterson. In spite of the plot rehashing Numbers did an amazing job of highlighting rather lofty mathematical concepts.


They called him the lottery killer – random victims in seemingly random locations, and at every crime scene, lying next to the corpse, a lottery ticket for the following week’s draw.

Police were baffled until the forensic team almost accidentally stumbled across what seemed a remarkable coincidence – the numbers on the mysterious lottery tickets appeared to correspond to the map co-ordinates identifying the location of each successive victim.

The police acted swiftly and organised a stakeout – sure enough, the lottery killer was apprehended at precisely the point where the last ticket said he would be.

The police had hit the jackpot!


I have always been fascinated with numbers. In numerology, 7 is the number of perfection, 8 is for new beginnings, and 3 is the number of the trinity. Then, there is the humor in numbers. 4 is the airhead, 9 is the brainiac, 6 looks pregnant, and 8 loves snow, or is very sexy, you decide. 1 isn’t the loneliest number, sometimes 2 is just as lonely and that is heartbreaking. 5 is the getting ready to roll number, and finally 0, is all contained and never ending. Numbers, so much to know, so little to see.


The seven warriors stood still as statues, blades drawn and waiting. The seven demons writhed and hissed, smelling of death and decay. The demons guarded the seven gates to the world beyond the living. In the countless years they had maintained their watch, no living person had gotten past them.
The emperor had demanded that the greatest warriors in the land should go into the realm of the dead to retrieve his beloved. Hundreds were summoned. Seven responded. Seven men, brave and true, loyal to their emperor no matter how great the task set before them. They lasted seven seconds.


When you’re a kid, fifty seems ancient. When you’re a teenager, fifty is a grandparent. In college, fifty is that stodgy old accounting professor that always seems to have a stain on his shirt. By the time you have kids of your own, fifty is your parents giving advice and laughing about how grandchildren are their reward for what you put them through. Fifty is always someone else. It’s always been a milestone that says “Here is where old begins”. When fifty starts knocking on your door, though, it doesn’t seem all that old. Seventy? Now that’s old. For now.


There were four seats at the table, three people sat down.
“Where’s D’Angelo?” asked boss #1.
“We can’t start without him,” added boss #2.
“I thought the meeting was to solve our problems and end this ridiculous turf war,” said boss #3.
“It’s a lack of respect to keep us bosses waiting,” they all agreed, checking for their weapons discreetly.
All of a sudden, loud sirens.
“The cops… That rat…” the three growled while they were arrested.
In the meantime, D’Angelo was enjoying the tropical sun of the Witness Protection Program.
“I never liked being number 4,” he thought.


Fifteen threads. Fifteen bright timelines stretching into the when.

Fourteen. One disappears: a woman slips on the sidewalk. He hears the crack of bone, her sharp intake of breath before the scream, and ignores it.

Thirteen to seven in a heartbeat. He misses the causes; they could be a butterfly’s wing flapping.

His original timeline is brightening. Probabilities collapse; he shoves through the crowd. Five. Four.

He won’t be scared this time.

Two threads.

“John?” She is there, confused. He’d just left.

He doesn’t know what will happen when the timelines switch.

“I love you,” he says, and kisses her.


Father keeps on urging me to take an accounting class. I tell him I don’t want to take over the family business and I can have someone else do my taxes. He tells me after enduring the fights his parents had annually from February through April, he doesn’t want to do his own taxes either. So I ask if that doesn’t maybe make him maybe a little hypocritical. He informs me the CPA who does his taxes is advising him to take a basic accounting class so when he makes a mistake on Quickbooks he can understand his explanation why.


“Hi, how are you?”


“Did you say four?”


“Four? Four what?”


“What are you doing?


“Now we’re back to four? Seriously, what is going on?”


“Wait a second I think I know what is happening here.”


“You’re counting words. That’s fascinating and annoying.”


“How good are you? If I talk for a whole minute would you be able to tell me if I hit 100 words?”


“Can we do this on a weekly basis? I have this story writing thing I do and word count matters.”


“See you next week.”



In a clearing in the rain forest, Borle relaxed on a cot while Flerdy counted specimens from the Holo-docs taken at the river.
“Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine. Species 13B has twenty-nine specimens per cubic meter of water compared to specimen 13A which only has seventeen,” Flerdy said into his voice recorder.
“Why not let the computer count and compare them for you?” Borle asked.
“Where would be the fun…” Flerdy began but stopped when he looked up.
They were surrounded by red-haired, freckled, native warriors wearing only loin cloths. All were woman and each aimed a wickedly sharp spear at them.

Dergle stared at the officer without moving, hardly breathing.
Officer Varkfleis flipped pages in his notebook while Dergle vacillated. He closed the notebook and said, “Mr. Dunderspawn. You implied you wanted a lawyer. Are you going to call one?”
Dergle made a face like he’d eaten something sour, but said nothing.
“If you don’t have a lawyer, I can give you numbers. They’re all dependable.”
“Will they feed my dogs?” Dergle mumbled, turning his eyes to the floor.
“Lawyers advise you. They don’t feed dogs,” Varkfleis said.
Dergle shook his head. “If you arrest me, someone needs to feed them.”


The weakest gun control bill in the history of the world failed in the Senate this week. They just didn’t have the numbers, despite the majority of Amercians who actually want background checks for all gun purchasers. “Oh, that would be an infringement of freedoms our founding fathers never intented,” the Senators said. Then they laughed, saying “What difference does it make, our supporters have all the money, we can say “Screw America” all we want. Then the next election cycle came up. All the Senators who voted against the bill lost their seats. Hey, it’s all in the numbers.


Ones and zeroes, clusters of information, all moving across The Grid. Inside the Grid, I have a disc to fight with, and a light cycle to ride on. There is an enemy, a contagion, a virus, digitized hacker. The Datawraiths. They must be defeated, and in the fight to do so, their code and warez mingle with my systems, corroding them, corrupting my programs and files. Slowing me down.

It’s hard to remember to clean the system, run the anti-virus programs, when the fighting is fierce, and I nearly was derezzed from pure forgetfulness. You’d think anti-virus would run automatically.


Dear Palindrome 101

Emergency rings 101
in Argentina, Belarus, Israel, India.
Hello! Hello! (Why can’t I get through?)

Longest highway, Route 101, you’re calling too,
but this is a metaphor
and I’m not an American.

Alright, alright, I’ll offer 101
sugarball bribes to Krishna
(I’m a hotline queue-jumper.)

Please don’t send us back
to the torture room in 1984.
I know that story, because

more 101 Ways are in print
than 100 Whatevers typed with
101 keyboards, the IBM standard.

Meanwhile, I’ll love you from both sides
punching strobogrammatic primes
on my calculator

happily enrolled in Life 101.
Class starts
at sun up.


There are days when the hotel is populated with more staff than guests. On Sunday mornings, everyone sleeps late until brunch is served. Lola takes those rare moments to soak in the environment and remember old favorite guests. Before she could finish her thoughts, she heard chuckling coming from the front door. Their door man and the valet guy are chatting loudly.
The doorman has been in the hospital for weeks, since he was shot, feet away from the hotel. The first words out of his mouth, “Does the devil still live here?.” Which one? Lola asks jokingly. He’s a hard-working man with loads of worries but he’s always in good spirit. His number was almost up, but finds the courage to open doors for strangers, like nothing ever happened.


Everybody says that Neo is The One.

Except Neo. He denies it completely.

Even to me, his bartender.

“Dude,” I tell him. “You can stop bullets in mid-air, change The Matrix like an Agent through sheer will, and you can fly. Only one guy can do that: The One.”

He just stares at me.

Then he shakes his head. “I’m not The One.”

We keep this up all night, until it’s Last Call.

I throw a glass at him.

And he stops it mid-air.

“Okay, you got me,” says Neo. “I’m The One.”

“Good,” I say, smiling. “Here’s his tab.”

9 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #365 – Pick a number”

  1. Thanks, Rick.

    Tura, Serendipity, and Steven the Nuclear Man are my favorites this week.

    I do have a question though. Is Munsi the General of the Damned? Supreme Commander of the Damned? High Grand Poobah of the Damned? Exactly who gave him his commission? What qualifies him to be the leader of The Damned?

    Can he be challenged?

    1. Aww, thanks Cliff – love the irony of your ‘Sevens’ story!

      i’m not sure that challenging Munsi is such a great idea… best to keep him out front, i reckon – less chance of us getting shot that way.

    2. I absolutely could be challenged, tho’ by the time the challenge made it through the legal system there’d no longer be an army of the damned to lead, so it may not be worth your time to do so….

  2. Cool, you have me searching Pinterest and there are recipes for cream cheese cookies and cheddar cheese cookies.

  3. Good stories as always. As someone approaching – from a distance! – 50, I enjoyed Cliff’s take on the subject.

    I was a little puzzled by Danny’s story: is there a reason to pass the “weakest gun control bill” ever? Who could that possibly please?

    Crap – who the heck cares what they’re doing down on Electric Avenue, or Empire Boardwalk, or whatever that thing is called?

  4. Hi Laurence!

    I’m certain you think I’ve forgotten all about OneADayUntilTheDayIdie, but i haven’t. Actually, I’ve found salvation in this 100 word story format. I’ve been writing some teases for the stories i haven’t found the energy to write yet. hehe. Anyway, it was you and Lizzie who helped me realize how powerful this format is. And I’ll be submitting a story to you soon.

    A shoutout to Thomas and his stream of ~100 word stories. Yay!

    Then there’s this “Four” thing from Daphne… erm, ok. I mean erm, four. heh.

    Tura, I’ll give you three dollars for the universe if you’ll tell the story again. ;)

    Oh Richard… “I Called” broke my heart… “disconnected” awww. Good story tho and love your reading.

    Ok, I know I haven’t given a shoutout to everyone, so here’s a small burst of applause… APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE!

    Oh geez, there’s another show tommorrow, so hear you all again soon.

    As always, love the kitty photos. And also as always, fie on those greedy Eaves grabbers.


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