Weekly Challenge #388 – Focus

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 FOCUS.

We’ve got stories by:

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

Use the Share buttons at the end of the post to spam your social networks. This obligatory cat photo should help make the Internet go faster:

Flying Myst

Finally, if there are any errors or corrections, please let me know, and I’ll fix them as soon as possible.

THOMAS

He couldn’t focus his eyes. Tears filled them. He had lost again. Not one match on any of the lottery tickets he bought from Mr. Kim. The kids would just have to make do for another week. No money for peanut butter and jelly. His wife would have to take the bus, and he would have to drink cheap beer and buy generic smokes from CostCo. Jerry had his priorities, and he counted on the winnings for early retirement. He thought that if he bought a dozen, he’d up his chances of winning to less than 1 in 175 million.

#

Diane couldn’t focus on her task. She day-dreamed about Harold, the fellow she met at the party. Her boss walked by her cubicle and looked in. She couldn’t get her attention, and noticed that government report lay unopened on Diane’s desk. “Diane! I need that report before the end of the day. Please start on it.” Diane put her head down and finished the report before lunch. She texted Harold three times during lunch, but didn’t get an answer. On the way back to the office, she tried texting again, head down, stepping off the curb into a speeding truck.

#

“What is that guy doing with that Brownie?” “I think he’s going to focus.” ”Both of us?” One of my favorite, old, racist, jokes. We would tell this joke over and over at the Klan meeting, and we’d laugh so hard, we had to wipe our eyes with our hoods. That afternoon we’d go over to the shop at the motorcycle mechanics school in Daytona and ask if anyone would like to meet us out in the woods for tonight’s meeting. The Kladd would tell the joke, and any of the students that laughed particularly hard, would get special attention.

#

After I got out of the service, I entered Stanford Research Institute’s program on remote viewing. It was part of a classified, military program. I didn’t concentrate on the strict practice and protocols, so I was washed out of the program. Since I had some other skills that they found useful, I was admitted to the Far Focus Program at SRI. We were charged with scanning aerial photographs, and scanning the coasts of China, Russia, Cuba and Malibu Beach from surface ships and submarines. We reported our observations, wrote reports, and used our skills in ways that you might imagine.

#
When I was a junior and member of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) at St. Thomas, I was put in charge of making snacks for evening, dorm-friendly Bible studies. My first treat consisted of tubs of full-fat cream cheese, covered with pulverized Mentos, and served with jalapeno chips and chutney. On cold days, the treat was microwaved for ten minutes at 90% power. The snack that brought students to my room for the recipe was Funley’s Delicious Super Crackers, slathered with anchovy paste, stirred together with Nembutal and psychostimulants that my roommate or I could score in town.

JEFFREY

Battlefield
by Jeffrey Fischer

The battered Ford Focus accelerated in the high way on-ramp, its frame rattling with increasing urgency as Lydia tried to match the speed of the traffic and find a spot to slip into. Next to her, in the right lane of the highway, was a recent-vintage Mercedes E300. Lydia slowed to drop in behind the Mercedes. As she did so, the Mercedes slowed as well. Lydia mentally shrugged and pressed hard on the accelerator, hoping the Focus could summon enough speed from the aged powertrain to overtake the other car. As if on cue, the Mercedes again matched Lydia’s speed. What kind of game is this asshole playing? she thought.

What the Mercedes driver didn’t know was that Lydia had just lost her job, the latest blow in a lifetime full of them. Frustrated and not caring any longer about the consequences, she veered left, clipping the bumper of the Mercedes, whose surprised driver swerved right, hitting the guard rail. The car flipped over the guard rail and down the embankment.

The moral of the story: don’t play games with other drivers. You never know who is desperate enough to screw *you* over.

Sight Lines
by Jeffrey Fischer

Jesse parted his bedroom curtains and peered at the pool next door. Right on schedule, 16-year-old Clare emerged from the back door, wearing her green bikini. She spread a towel on a lounge chair, rubbed suntan lotion over her face, arms, and legs, and settled back in the chair. Jesse grabbed his binoculars and adjusted the focus. He could never work up the courage to talk to Clare – especially if that meant coming into contact with her over-protective ex-Marine of a father – but up here he could indulge in any fantasy he chose.

From the corner of his eye, Jesse saw a metallic glint. He swung the binoculars to the left to see Clare’s dad, staring intently at Jesse. The glint was the sun reflecting off the older man’s service revolver. Jesse quickly closed the curtains and busied himself with a safer fantasy.

LIZZIE

Focus was that pesky little magazine, whose editor decided to fill its cover for weeks with actor Peter Thompson’s private life. So, Peter hated everyone there, including the janitor. He didn’t know the man, but that was beside the point.

When Peter marched into the building, determined to end the charade, the janitor, a veteran, saw him.

“Man, look at me,” he said, noticing the gun, “look. Stay focused.”

A catastrophe ensued…

The following week, Focus featured the story.

“Guard, can I have Focus to read? I want to make sure I’m not on the cover again.”

Well… he was.

RICHARD

#1 – Focus of attention

“Just for once, can we try and focus on the matter in hand”, muttered Jeff: “let’s not get bogged down on the whole nanobots and aliens thing again, please?”

He turned his attention back to George; “We’ve got a lot of crackpot theories, but nothing conclusive. I don’t suppose you’ve anything new to tell us?”

George sighed.

“Nothing you probably don’t already know, but I’m guessing you know far more than I do. What are you guys doing here, for a start?”

Jeff laughed.

“We, are the er… Resistance – although heaven knows what we’re resisting – and this, is Fort Hope!”

#2 – Watch the birdie

A night at grandpa’s usually ended with the inevitable slideshow – a chaotic assembly of photographs, most of which were barely in focus. Those that were tended to be on a slant, over-exposed or suffered from the inclusion of a stray finger or camera strap, strategically placed over the lens.

It wasn’t unusual for his subjects to be arbitrarily beheaded, and – when he did manage to get them in frame – you could guarantee to see a tree or post sprouting from their head.

We were kind though… grandpa loved his photography.

I wish he was still around to tell us.

#3 – End Titles

Have you ever wondered about all those peculiar jobs that you never come across anywhere apart from the end titles on movies?

You know the ones… focus puller, gaffer, dolly grip, foley artist, colorist, best boy, greensman, wrangler and all those first and second units, and so on.

To be absolutely honest, we make them all up, and – when we get bored – we throw a few more into the mix, just because we can… keep an eye out for ‘wrench toggler’ next time you go to the cinema – that’s one of my latest creations.

Who reads the end titles, anyway?

TOM

Keep your wheel on the grindstone
and your nose to the shoulder

Is a story a story if it is just a personal reflection. Is it cheating if
you are the protagonist, narrator, and choirs all-in-one. Reason I ask is
since the topic is focus I wanted to talk a bit about my ADD, look over
there the cats are chewing on the keyboard cable, sorry back to topic,
should not that be pronounced to-pic, of course you’d have to have
considerably dirt feet, not like King Charles who had incredible larger
feet, 12 in long, he must have been a serious Sasquatch, image the British
royal blood line hiding in the woods outside of Portland that would
explain so much. Yes?

Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

Larry needed a flawed industrial ruby. At a penny on the dollar he still
had to come up with a hundred dollars. Being the industrious type he
opened an all-you-can-eat salted peanut stand next to his lemonade stand.
All the neighborhood stopped by, everyone except Timmy, who just tooled by
on his Schwinn and yelled “Geek” Due to a mislabeling Larry actually got
a flawless ruby the size of his fist. He hooked it up and looked around
for a target. “Timmy,” he chortled, through the switch, no more Timmy,
well no more Timmy’s house and most of great Detroit

A Well defined Relationship Part 7856

Before Banister had a change to make for the door or inquire about
compensations for the position of personal protector the Bluefoot in
Wyn’s Pradas went off. “Yes, No, Now.” Wyn moved to the window, looked
down into the street. 1000s of flashes of light blink on and off. “The
Pastaphrites have the profit and their making for the square. Focus time
Mr Coachman 10k+X.” “Deal,” yelled Banister over his shoulder as he made
for the lobby, with Dino Mod in tow. “Are you part of the package?”
“At 10K a week you sure can afford a hired hand.”

MUNSI

Focus

By Christopher Munroe

I was never focused. Never sat at the front of the class, hanging on every word, furiously scribbling notes, lost in concentration.

In fact, concentration in general was tough for me. I suppose today I’d be diagnosed and medicated, but at the time there was no diagnosis to make.

It wasn’t considered a disease yet.

I was just an especially energetic kid, brimming with ideas that flowed too fast to keep track of, too fascinated by the world to slow down for even a moment.

Deep down I’m still that person, though I’m older now.

And it’s served me well…

SPATE

Forehead Play for Guys

They grew a nose on this guy’s forehead in China to replace his damaged one. I read about it on the internet so it must be true. They even had pictures.

Makes you wonder what other appendages they can grow on one’s forehead.

How about a penis? That would give literal meaning to the term “dickhead”.

Can you imagine talking to a female co-worker and all through the conversation she would be trying not to stare at the penis growing out of your forehead… leaving you completely free to focus on her breasts.

Workplace sensitivity training sabotaged by one dickhead.

SERENDIPITY

As I slowly regained consciousness, my senses returned and I became aware of blurred figures and bright lights surrounding me. I tried hard to focus, but the world I saw remained resolutely mushy and soft.

I heard a voice – “Did it work?”

“Yes”, I responded, “it worked perfectly”, then heard cheering and applause.

The first transplant of a human consciousness into a computer had been a complete success.

Except for my vision – it was still rotten – I tried to focus once more, and then it hit me…

“You could have at least thought to give me HD graphics!”, I complained.

ZACKMANN

My wife went on mini vacation with co-worker instead of me since my son did not want to skip school and required a chauffeur. Alex loved her little Ford so much she wanted to start a Focus group Facebook fanpage. Since my wife made me print out directions she thought she didn’t need to bring the Tomtom also she and friend both had smartphones with navigation apps. Smartphones don’t work constantly in mountains. Alex got lost so many times on the return trip that she could not focus. This was no doubt was a trip from which fond memories spring.

PETER (No recording sent)

“You are what you eat.” That is what my mother kept telling me when I was growing up. Now that I think about it, I’m starting to think that she was wrong.

I’ve been vegetarian for three years now, and my diet is mostly greens and more greens. I’m not complaining, as I really enjoy tending to my vegetable garden. It gets me outdoors more now then I had ever been before. Still, I just can’t stop thinking that she was wrong. That pool I am laying in just just so damn red.

Oh, I really should have focused less on my phone and more on what was around me while crossing the street.

SINGH

70

Bhim’s feet squelched into silt, but he managed to tie up the boat to a mangrove branch, while the shaman focused and leapt deftly to a dryer patch. Soon he was disappearing up the overgrown trail and Bhim quickly cleaned off his feet and followed. His mask kept riding up at the back and he had to pause to tighten the band across his forehead. Meanwhile the shaman was moving fast through terrain he seemed to know well. Eventually, some distance in, the path opened out to a wall of intertwined trees with a low entrance hole in the hedge growth.

71

The shaman bobbed and disappear within. With some trepidation Bhim followed shuffling on his knees and hands. The shaman’s wiry frame fitted better than Bhim’s broader body, and as he struggled, his mask strap caught on the overhang and was ripped off, dangling behind like a trophy. The space was too tight to reach back for it and Bhim was forced to crawl even lower to the dirt. It was then he smelled the rankness of the place, saw multiple pug marks beneath him. Strangely familiar, he realised the shaman had led him down the crawl hole of a tiger’s den.

72

The only way out was ahead and eventually his head emerged, unmasked. The shaman had disappeared. Getting up he was astonished to see ruins of a temple on the other side of the clearing. It too, was deeply entwined in tree roots and directly ahead was a stone head wedged in the tangle. The temple had a flat roof supported by thick stone pillars. This was history’s proof of an untouched antiquity still standing, that Bhim had only read about in books. He realised he must be one of the few ever to have seen it. Then, his gut tightened. The tiger emerged on the raised stone.

73

It stood comfortably like a rajah on the roof of his palace eyeing Bhim as his rightful next meal, and although he could have leapt on him from that distance, he stood his ground as Bhim, quite trapped also did. They considered each other. Bhim felt the same familiarity he had experienced riding the tiger god in his vision and somehow felt the beast also acknowledged this too. Bhim looked at the mottled markings, dark brown on orange. The tiger was like an old world chieftain wearing ceremonial tattoos from head to tail. This warrior bearing was worthy of singular respect.

74

This was the lair, the last bastion of the beast. Whether demonic or heroic the name Daksin Ray now resonated deeply in the young man’s mind that he heard as the voice of a woman singing. Was it an inner sound, or was it an outer one coming from the temple stones? It didn’t matter. He didn’t need to know more, merely to reverence it. The tiger continued to stand above eying him, he the young Shah Jungli, guardian brother of Bonobibi. Their triumvirate alliance ruled this demense. Now Bhim understood his newly growing role he had been slowly led towards.

75

He heard a sound behind him. It was the sham an. For a moment he felt warm relief as the old man stood against his shoulder, then slowly made his way to the temple. With tiger above, he threw down his mask before the god face in the root tangle, then turned. For the first time ever Bhim Das felt the shaman’s smiling acceptance. It was a benediction and Bhim folded his hands with grateful acceptance. Then the shaman stepped, knelt and exposed his back and nape. The tiger leapt down, grabbed and returned with the broken-necked offering in his jaws.

76

It is not good to witness the body of a fellow human dropped like broken doll, ready to be ripped apart from the rump. It was time to leave the tiger palace the shaman had brought him to at the cost of his own life. A gift demands a gift and feeling now the burden of a new responsibility Bhim backed away, turned and entered the crawl space one more. Going seemed easier then coming. Soon, he rescued the ghost mask from the overhang, exited the hedge and followed the narrow path back to the boat. The tiger roared in the distance.

CLIFF

Hello, children. Today, we’re going to talk about focus. Focus is what lets us concentrate on one thing. Sometimes, we get distracted and lose our focus. One way to keep our focus is a reward. For instance, I have a story to write so I promised myself a cookie when the story is done. A cookie is a good reward because I like cookies and I like the little bakery where I’ll buy it and I like the pretty blonde that works there. She flirts with me and I think she likes me and… and… Oh, the story can wait.

We sat in a circle and calmed our spirits. Our visualization guide, an earthy, nature loving man named Sienna, coached us as we did. “Empty your minds and focus all of your energy,” he said. The air around the circle was electric with tension. Our goal was realization, the mystical creation of a material object through sheer force of desire and willpower. We had come close several times, but something always broke our focus and stopped us. Suddenly, there was a blinding light and a container of deodorant appeared in the circle.
“Fine,” Sienna said. “I can take a hint.”

The commercials were blurry, but who really pays attention to them anyway. The previews were blurry, but I figured the idiot up in the projection booth didn’t much care and frankly, neither did I. All of the new movies coming out were either remakes of old TV shows, dumb sequels to dumber movies or had Nicholas Cage in them. I didn’t care about them anyway. But when the feature started and was a blurry mess, I shouted angrily to the nose picker upstairs “Focus, you moron!”
That’s when my wife handed me my glasses and told me to shut up.

DANNY

My friend Jamie recently stated on Facebook, “”I like to randomly ask people if they’ve ever heard the song ‘Hocus Pocus by Focus”…not because I like the song.. Or the band.. 100% only because I get a kick out of saying “Hocus Pocus by Focus!” Which gave me this idea, what if there was a contest that I invented within my sad yet demented mind where we all scream “FOCUS on Hocus Pocus by Focus, Bob Mocus!” as fast as possible 100 times in a row, and the winner gets nothing. Now, focus…who the hell is Bob Mocus, and who cares?

NORVAL JOE

Her hand shook as she thumbed the safety on her rifle.
“I’ve got to focus,” she hissed between gritted teeth.
Her eye to the scope, she turned the bezel bringing her target into clarity. Three-hundred meters away the senator held hands across a picnic table with a young woman, unaware crosshairs marked his temple.
“Well, Senator. Cheating on me with a college intern, I vote no,” his wife said squeezing the trigger. Nothing happened. Sticky white paper glued the trigger in place.
“I veto that vote,” Flypaper Boy said as he wrapped the woman in a large sheet of paper.

JUSTIN

The enemy is coming. I grip my weapon, poised to strike.

Relentlessly the enemy will attack, rising from the ground first here, then there. Their tactics seem random. Hesitate one moment and it is too late.

Years ago my father fought them. He survived to tell the tale and to teach me the ways of a warrior. How to hold the weapon and to strike without hesitation or mercy.

There it is, I hear them coming from below. I see one rise up. Mocking eyes and a tittering giggle. I swing my hammer with alacrity and whack my first mole.

PLANET Z

I’m not going to ride my bike ever again, and I can’t decide if I’m more sick of walking to the bus stop or the awful people on the bus itself.

So, I need a car. But I don’t want anything fancy or expensive, because it’s only 2 miles to get to work, and all the shopping I need to do is along the way and back.

I looked at a Ford Focus, which isn’t much more than a skateboard with a lawnmower engine and seat belts.

As long as it’s got air conditioning and air bags, I’ll take it.

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