Weekly Challenge #374 – Faint

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 FAINT:

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

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

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:

Bananafight

Finally, if there are any errors or corrections, please let me know, and I’ll get those fixed up as soon as possible.


THOMAS

Fainting spells were the specialty of Dick The Magnificent. He would put one of his spells on a member of the audience, and they would be compelled to cluck like a chicken and mime laying an egg. The first time this was seen in our little country town caused many older women and gentlemen to swoon, as the volunteer from the audience laid a very large, golden brown egg and it rolled over to the edge of the stage, accompanied by her squawks and nervous clucks. A faint noise came from the brown egg, lending more drama to the scene.

#

The fad hit the high school a week before graduation. Kids were making themselves faint. Danny taught a bunch of kids in his trig class how to faint. To make yourself faint, first get into a frog position, and hold your breath for 15 seconds. After fifteen seconds, stand up, and put your thumb in your mouth. Keep holding your breath, and you should faint. Twelve kids did this simultaneously, out of sight of the teacher. They all went out at the same time, with their thumbs still stuck in their mouth. The teacher called the police and fire departments.

TOM

A Well Defined Relastionship Part III

Timmy readjusted his goggles and powdered up the railgun. Banister hummed an old miner’s song as the Clarks rolled through the clouds. “The sky in not for one who is faint of heart …” the song trained off as a group of floaters made for the stage. The floaters were name after that ancient A C Clark novelist. They could not hold their liquor which unfortunately was where they spent their entire adult life. As they whooped it up Tim caught the faint edge of red coming straight at him. “Oh cry for me as I depart,” finished the coachmen.

JEFFREY

Countdown
by Jeffrey Fischer

Space travel is not for the faint of heart. It starts with rigorous training, moves on to high G forces smashing the body, continues with the continual nausea of weightlessness, and culminates in months of boredom in space before the heart-stopping panic of the landing attempt.

Sarah, I know I’ve told you all this before. Mainly, I’m dictating this letter to calm my nerves as we undertake the final maneuvers to land on Triton. My work is done; others have responsibilities yet, but not me. I’d rather babble on, and think of you, than think of the improbability of a successful landing. As I say, not for the faint of heart.

Here comes the final countdown. I hope you don’t mind if I wish myself luck.

Lingering
by Jeffrey Fischer

Lisa wrinkled her nose. A faint odor of perfume lingered in the bedroom and on the pillow case, a floral aroma far different than her own brand. She felt the anger well up inside her. *Not again*, she thought.

Things had been tense ever since Pete lost his job. Lisa’s travel schedule didn’t help matters. She had tried to forgive Pete’s last transgression and put that incident behind her – behind *them*, for the sake of their marriage – but it was clear now that Pete had better things to do with his time than find work. Although Lisa was saddened at the thought of what would come next, she also found it liberating. Sometimes marriages, like perfume, linger a little too long.

MUNSI

She Loved the Attention

By Christopher Munroe

Whenever she got bored, she pretended narcolepsy.

When unpleasant, awkward lulls arose in conversation, or topics no longer interested her, she’d collapse, just to throw some energy into the party. She hoped this would encourage us to be more interesting.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Within weeks of learning of this bold new habit of hers, we’d developed a stock of intentionally uninteresting stories, by the end of the year we’d made ourselves the dullest social group imaginable.

Oh, we were still interesting when she wasn’t around. But whatever we might have to say, her faux-fainting was funnier…

RICHARD

#1 – A noise in the distance

George’s journey was pretty unsettling: The empty streets spoke of violence and danger, but were silent as to any cause. Every open doorway was a threat, every broken window held dread – he took to walking in the middle of the roadway, nervously glancing from side to side at the buildings he passed.

Suddenly a faint and unexpected sound broke the silence – an engine firing, followed by screeching tyres and a stuttering exhaust. The familiar noise revived George’s hope… he was no expert, but he was pretty sure that neither aliens, nor zombies were likely to be driving round in cars!

#2 – Salvage

There it was again – the faint, metallic tapping, carried distinctly through the hull… It meant survivors! Somewhere in the stricken ship, an air pocket had created a safe haven for those fortunate enough to find it. It would be a hell of a job locating them though.

The divemaster swam up beside me – the sounds rang out again: three short, three long, three short. He looked at me grimly, then shook his head before swimming away.

It would take too long to find the survivors, and time is money – far too much money – when you have a wreck to salvage.

#3 – Artistic Licence

The graceful, gentle faint that the movies like to portray is a myth – nobody in the real world faints gracefully.

In reality, they pass out and collapse, crashing to the floor, eyes rolled back and tongue lolling unattractively. Coming round is traumatic: confusion and mild panic reigns, as the victim gasps and claws the air to catch that first breath.

Yet, even the most true-to-life screenplays would have us believe otherwise – such is the sugar-coated world that artistic licence demands.

Don’t even get me started about being on the receiving end of a punch to the face!

#4 – Passengers

One day, a mild-mannered, perfectly respectable passenger on the train, or bus, or plane, will snap.

They will lunge at a another passenger, hands around their throat, crushing their windpipe, squeezing every last breath from the struggling body of their unfortunate victim. And then, our mild-mannered traveler will return quietly to reading their morning paper, as fellow travelers around them applaud.

One day, a mild-mannered passenger, driven to distraction by the percussive, mindless, intrusion of another passenger’s iPod on full volume, will murder the offender in cold blood.

And I could well be that mild-mannered passenger.

#5 – Almonds

The faint whiff of almonds filled the air, bringing with it images of marzipan and fruitcake – the memories of my dear grandmother.

Her fruitcake was always disgusting to my young mind, but I’d peel away the icing and marzipan enveloping it, gorging myself on the sweet and sickly treat until I felt quite ill.

Oddly, I found myself feeling rather sick, right now – my head was pounding and my lips tasted bitter. Desperately I tried to recall what they’d told us at base… something about almonds.

Ah yes, that was it – strychnine is characterised by the telltale aroma of almonds.

ZACKMANN

“Hear that faint buzzing when it stops that means it has landed. You grab the swatter, hold it up in the air bring it down towards the head of the creature but at the last second hit right behind it,”

“What are you doing with that boy?”

“Dear, I am teaching your son useful ways to use his hunting instinct and hopefully decreasing the pest population.”

“What did father teach you, Precious?”

“If I see a fly standing still, I feint hitting it in the head but hit hard behind so when the fly flies backwards it meets the swatter.”

SERENDIPITY

Through the pain, I could still hear them speaking – faint and distant, but perfectly clear.

The sound of a single tone filled the room, then silence, followed by more faint, but perfectly understandable voices.

“I’m afraid we’ve lost her… Are we all agreed? Yes? Time of death, twelve forty three.”

I felt tape being peeled from my skin and heard the clatter of steel against steel, then the cool rustle as the sheet was drawn across my face.

“No! I’m alive!”, I protested, “I’m not dead yet… not at all!”

It was no good – my voice was just too faint.

TURA

Grey fingers of dawn opened the sky. Dew lifted from grass into drifting mist. The body of a man, three crossbow bolts protruding from his armour.

More bodies, hundreds, scattered over the meadow.

One lay against a tree. He gasped and opened his eyes, grimacing as his hand tightened on his sword. A body lay across his leg, too heavy to shift.

“As long as I shall live…” he began. He drew breath again. “My hand shall defend thee.”

“As long as I shall live, our love shall live.”

“As long…”

Above the silent battlefield, the crows began to arrive.

SINGH

1. Dancing Face
“Jalan Sini. Come,” says the woman on the bridge path.
We divert off the busy mountain road.
Then I see she is selling batik sarongs and her friendliness is a marketing ruse, a feint.
“Where you come from?”
“Australia,” I say.
“Oooh!” She says with exaggerated interest, her eyebrows going up, eyeballs big as marbles. Her expression becomes a dancing mask. She moves from foot to foot, gesturing with her fingers.
But I walk on past the old man, her sales partner.
“Come,” I say to my wife. She shuffles forward onto the bridge and gazes down.
“Look. There,” she points.

2. Bridge
“What are they doing?” She asks with urgency like when something unusual is about to happen in a movie.
“How would I know, Darling.”
We stare down at the swirling confluence where the two rushing rivers meet. A family has gathered on the bank. They are muttering prayers and throwing frangipani flowers into the fast water. The man lifts half a coconut shell with two hands.
The offering of powdery dust flies into the face of the wind.
“Cremation ashes,” I say.
“Oh Lord!”
“Come on. We have a reservation,” I say.
Our restaurant overlooks the river.
“I’m not hungry,” she answers.

3. Holiness
She serves nightly in the hill forest restaurant. The camphor beams, floorboards and bamboo thatch need no walls above the gurgling river.
“It is a holy place,” she says touching her heart, wearing the white blouse, coloured sash and kebaya traditional for Balinese women. “Each night something blows against my neck. I turn. Nothing.”
really.
I look down to the river through mountain ferns.
“It’s a special place,” I say and then add, “But what is more holy is that you have worked here every night, not doing anything else these past twenty years.”
She closes her eyes, smiles and bows.

4. Art
After changing money, I walk back past an art gallery. There are portraits of topless Balinese sarong girls untouchable behind glass.
Back in the car, my wife says, “You were looking at them.”
“Yeah, it’s art,” I say and look to our guide. “When did the women stop going topless here?”
The 1930s. The Dutch missionaries stopped it, he narrates. Antonius Jody is a rare Catholic in this 90 per cent Hindu island.
His Grandmother still refused to wear anything on top. Said it was uncomfortable.
“There you are,” I say. “Completely natural.”
My wife looks at me with dry skepticism.

5. Signs
We are low on fuel, so Jody pulls into a Pertamina Service Station. Buying petrol cut with kerosene can be a problem, he reports.
We notice the owner has put up a reassuring sign tacked to the stem of a banana palm: My Petrol is More Pure than your Love
Later, rejoining the crazy snake of traffic there are more road-signs, courtesy of the Bali Police Traffic Education Unit.
It is Forbidden to Have Accidents Here, one proclaims.
500 metres on: The Hospitals are Full.
Then a final word another 500 metres on seals things: The Hospital is Still Full.

6.
The guide takes us to Tannan Lot Temple. Carved from volcanic rock it stretches into the sea. In the 15th Century the Javanese Raja sent a Hindu priest to walk the black coastlines and share his teachings. Here, he struck the outcrop and fresh water gushed forth. The fishermen carved a temple. Trees grew above the cave that smells of bat shit.
I try to pick out my wife walking with Jody amongst the thousands who’ve come to pray or play. I am glad to sit. A bird kite flies above the temple. Blustery surf still crashes against the black land.

STEVEN THE NUCLEAR MAN

She flickers. “Nonononononononono.” My words blur like my typing fingers pulling up source code.

“I’m… tired, John.” She puts a hand to her head. “I’m…dizzy.”

Sweat beads on my forehead. “It’ll be okay, honey.”

There’s an edge to her fading voice. “You’re always working on the computer.”

“I have a good reason.” Keep typing. Keep debugging.

“Computer instead of me.” Her voice is half-static. “You… time with me.”

I look. Her eyes are 8-bit and translucent, and closing.

My wife, two years dead, derezzes again.

“I have a good reason.” I start typing through the tears.

“A good reason.”

UNCLE MONSTER CLIFF

I can barely hear her voice. I thought she was far away, but I realize now that there’s just so much material between us, it sounds like she’s distant. Thinking about how the building is…was laid out, I know she’s only yards from me. My body aches in places and is completely numb in others. The quake was big. It’ll be hours before anyone starts digging; hours that we don’t have. Finally, through the pain in my chest, I draw a breath and call back. I let her know I’m here. I let her know that she won’t die alone.

##########

Everyone made fun of Sarah because she fainted all the time. A paper cut draws blood? Bam! A scary movie monster jumps onto the screen? Sarah’s out cold. The doctor said there was nothing wrong with her. She just fainted a lot. So we were all stunned when we heard what happened. A serial rapist broke in as she was fixing dinner. She nearly killed him with a frying pan. The EMT said he’d probably live but he’d be disfigured for life. But when Sarah noticed that she’d torn a nail during the beating, she was out like a light.

LIZZIE

Summer started after a long, cold and rainy winter, so people were eager to enjoy the sun. All geared up with new swimsuits, they didn’t hesitate to march towards the beach. The sign did say “No Swimming”, but no one paid any attention, after all, sharks were extinct. Suddenly, a woman screamed, horrified. The beach-controller, a new model still being tested, pulverized all the swimmers, leaving a faint smell of blood in the air. The summer joy was quickly gone and the engineer responsible for this particular robot was pulverized as well, later and in private, at the company’s headquarters.

LOLA

Lola is baffled by the random events held at the hotel. The ballroom can be transformed into any theme to suit clients’ ever revolving tastes. Last week, there was a bachelor and a sweet sixteen party on the same day. This weekend, Lola will oversee a popular beauty pageant. The lobby is already filled with barbie look alikes of all shades and hair colors. They’re practicing their runway walks in their rooms, hallways and the bathrooms. Wherever there is a mirror, you can find them staring into self-doubt and wishful thinking.
Lola can’t imagine subjecting herself to this charade to win a crown. She would faint during the bathing suit competition and throw up on her gown. What exactly sets her apart from these hopeful contestants, parading in front of strangers for a high score and prize money? Lola doesn’t approve but she can’t play judge when she herself has made some questionable choices for a pay day.

ISHTAR

Ten more feet and I can give in. I can faint. Submit to the dark.

The alarm is blaring so loudly. I want to scream.

8 more feet, I can push that damn button. End it all. Give in.

“We should have listened. We gave up our liberties to stay safe.
Now look at us.”

5 more feet. Guards rushing down the hall.

Push the button, end the madness. Freedom reigns again they said.

3 more feet. Too much blood loss. Have to end this insanity.

Click. The guns cocked against my head. Do I push it.

Live or Die.

RODNEY

Story text: Somebody once told Josh not to stare at the sun. He couldn’t remember who. More important things were on his mind. Like the strange colors coruscating from it and scattering flakes into the pool-blue sky. They weren’t like the colors he’d seen before. He heard his classmates scrabbling over the blacktop, but even the swing’s squeaky taunt couldn’t break his concentration. The colors were changing. There were shapes. His friend…he forgot her name…she had a pet snake. They looked like that. Black snakes slithering off the sun. He blinked. What writhed behind his eyelids pitched him headlong to the pavement.

CALEDONIA

Faint

It’s a veggie-carb day on my menu cycle. It’s self imposed and pretty successful so far.

I want protein. I am craving protein. A hamburger, some barbeque pork, even some refried beans! Thoughts of fried chicken are mocking me.

“Nyah! Nyah! You can’t have me!”

“Bullshit! You just WAIT until tomorrow!”

Giggling triumphantly the chicken thoughts dance away, still teasing.

I refill my trusty water bottle. Take a deep breath. Oh God! Someone’s firing up a barbeque! Wafting scent of mesquite! I run around madly shutting windows.

“Get away from me!”

The room starts to spin around. Fade to black.

##

The Serial Faintress – a Series of Three 100 Word Stories

(with a small nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Peter Jackson)

***

Hearing the noise behind me, I turn quickly and gasp aloud. I am positively shocked at what I see.

Sherlock Holmes is standing smiling at me across my home office. Suddenly a gray mist swirls before my eyes, and when it clears he is bending over me, his flask in his hand.

“My dear lady, I owe you a thousand apologies. I had no idea that you would be so affected.”

“But why are you in Tacoma?”

Then it appears that I faint again for the second time in my life.

My head hits the floor with a dull thud.

***

I open my eyes again with a sharp intake of breath, and blink.

I see a much younger face than the one I saw before. Dark, swirling hair frames the most remarkable pair of intense, changeable hazel eyes I have ever beheld. I look puzzled.

Hello there! They call me “Ben” but my actual name is “Benedict.” Season 3 of my acclaimed Sherlock series is coming, and I am in the next Hobbit movie. It’s going to be excellent. You’re a fan?

The room starts to swirl around in a now familiar way. Everything gets dark, those eyes disappearing last.

***

Returning to consciousness, thinking how unreal this is, I shake my head to clear the haze.

Someone is still here. Good Lord, won’t they leave me alone?

This one has a brooding forehead, furrowed brows, but somehow he is compelling, breathtakingly handsome. His temple braids graze my cheeks.

“I am leading my kinsman to retake our homeland and reclaim the legacy of our fathers. We travel to Erebor. Have you seen Smaug the Terrible?”

I close my eyes, letting the fog roll back over me, and everything blinks out.

There’s just no point in getting up until they go away.

NORVAL JOE

Dergle peered into Widow Finklestien’s canary cage. His wiener dog, Long John Silver sat at his feet, but kept one ear turned toward the back door where the boarder collie whined.
“I’m sorry. Your canary didn’t faint. It’s dead,” Dergle said. “When did this happen?”
“Well. Let me think. Missy was barking in the backyard for her breakfast and my toast popped. That’s when I heard Bitsy hit the bottom of the cage.”
“So, she fainted three hours ago and you think she’s still alive?”
“No,” Widow Finklestien said poking her finger at the unmoving bird. “She fainted yesterday morning.”

JUSTIN

I should have left as soon as I arrived, but missing persons are the most important cases. Of course, ever since I had to flee from the Gilman house, it got personal.

Now I’m holding an alien weapon, under the ocean off the New England coast. I can hear the voices speaking unknowable polyglot incantations. I blast the weapon full power at the ceremonial gong. My ears start bleeding.

But I can think straight to fight the onrushing Deep Ones. And maybe I can even defeat them before I’m eviscerated in their temple, a sacrifice to their dark, ancient god.

L

Desperation
by L_zbracakes

Desperation permeated the wooden bar, overpowering the years of spilled drinks and cigarette smoke. Can the souls of inhabitants imprint on a building? Years uncounted celebrating their sorrows in pints and empty conversation; a jukebox playing wrinkled memories of firmer days?

She sought a face she hadn’t already seen up close, early morning pale and breath like…

For every new experience was another proof of life and the wolves…

at bay…

There was no mystery left.

She swooned, never dreaming such a word—a romance writer’s favorite—would apply to her, and left for the dark streets, leaving her drink unfinished.

PLANET Z

The perfect glass of ice water, just a hint of lemon.

Fred didn’t taste the lemon at all. He picked up the glass and drank it all down in two seconds.

After refilling the glass from the kitchen sink tap, he gently shook the glass to melt the remaining ice a little, and he drank it empty again.

Susan watched, and she wondered why she bothered slicing lemons and twisting them for Fred.

One day, she’d stop with the lemon.

Instead, she’d slice up limes. Or oranges. Or pears.

Or nothing at all.

Fred downed a third glass of water.

5 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #374 – Faint”

  1. First of all, if there’s a button to skip the, um, commentary, I for one will not be pushing it. Long live the rants!

    Lots of good stories this week. Just to name a few: Richard’s fourth story hit home for me. I’ve felt that murderous rage as well. Serendipity’s also got to me – the fear that used to be of being buried alive, but in a more clinical age. Steven’s story was touching. Nicely done – nerd love!

    And Cliff’s second story – I disagree, Crap. I thought it was a very uplifting tale. The only happier ending is if she HAD sent the guy into the next life.

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