Weekly Challenge #393 – Voice

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 VOICE.

We’ve got stories by:

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

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:

Visitor cat

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

THOMAS

Her voice, specifically her fully, open mouthed, “performance laugh”, could cut diamonds. I was sipping coffee last Monday, when a burst of sharp sound cut into my brain from my left. The source of the explosion was a skinny, short haired woman of middle age yucking it up with her husband and another couple. Why did she make the noise project even more by opening her mouth and throat to allow this painful noise to escape into the crowded room? Did she want us to notice her? I wanted to throw my heavy mug at her temple to silence her.

#

Today, while submitting a lesson for my course at Penn State, I mistakenly used the word “deadloin” instead of the word deadline. My writing “voice” has aided me in using these errors in ways that are valid and pertinent to my poetry and prose. Deadloin could be a title for the story of a man, whose age has left him tired and limp, when he should be vigorous and prepared at a moment’s notice by merely putting his hands around the waist of a woman, as it does in the sweet dreams that he recalled from last week’s dream fest.

#

During the monthly meeting at the mayor’s coffeehouse gatherings, a few of us voiced our opinions about the recent additions to the streets and downtown core. A large, circular logo was embedded in the center of the street at the main intersection, and several bicycle stands and metal waste containers were placed strategically, around town. The logo depicts the teats of one of the original dairy farmers prize milkers, and measuring ten feet in diameter, shocks tourists and young children. The waste containers are painted fluorescent orange, with glow in the dark lettering that reads, “Waste Management Fondles Your Trash.”

#

Her voice was tiny, and she kept to herself, having been kidnapped by human traffickers and sold as a sex slave to the Sudanese Coast Guard. She looked like Sally Fields when she played in The Flying Nun. Now, working quietly as a Barista in Sylvester’s Coffee Emporium, she breaks down every couple of hours and retires to the storeroom to cry and grab hits off her glass pipe. Over the past six months, I’ve noticed she put on some weight in her behind, and carries her wallet in her hand now, as it won’t fit in her back pocket.

#

He screwed the pooch by giving voice to his feelings about public education when he spoke to the board of education at an open forum. He lambasted the superintendent for allowing the first two hours of every Monday for “special teacher’s training time”, and a number of other special days set aside for meetings, inclement weather, assemblies, picture day, senior day, statewide test day, etc. Turns out the district had 90 actual school days last year, and 80 percent of the seniors failed the state exams, behind Arkansas and Mississippi. His application to teach advanced placement math was rejected malevolently.

JEFFREY

Taking Advice
by Jeffrey Fischer

Sarah had always suffered from hearing voices in her head. Some part of her was aware that this was only a damaged part of her mind speaking, and she could usually push those voices away and ignore them.

A deep male voice would tell her to diet more or she’d never find a boyfriend. A sexy female voice would give her clothing advice. A shrill voice of indeterminate gender provided feedback on career decisions. When all three spoke at once, Sarah ended up with a headache.

In her firm’s kitchenette, Sarah stared at the last piece of cake left over from Jim’s retirement party. “Don’t eat the cake,” a deep voice said. She pushed it away. “I mean it, don’t eat the cake.” She closed her eyes and ignored it.

As she reached to take the cake, Betty from accounting slapped her hand away and grabbed the piece for herself. “You selfish jerk,” Betty said in a husky tone, “didn’t you hear me? Leave some for me.”

Democracy in Action
by Jeffrey Fischer

Ten-year-old Timmy came home from school, excited to tell his parents about his civics class. “Miss Crimmons says in a democracy everyone should have a voice.” Timmy’s parents were so charmed by this that they agreed to run the household as a democracy. Mom and Dad winked at each other, because they knew their two votes would always win over Timmy’s single vote.

The next day, Timmy explained that protecting the rights of the minority was important, and demanded a supermajority for important decisions, such as bed time or how many Brussels sprouts he had to eat. After that, Timmy had no trouble with his parents.

FOURWORLDS

Three rounds of chemo and thirty five radiation treatments killed the tumor at the base of my tongue. They also damaged my body from head to toe. I’d make that deal any day, but I miss my old life. I miss being able to sing. I miss being able to eat without sipping water after every bite. I miss understanding speech without captions or lip reading. I miss waking in the morning without ringing in my ears and pins and needles in my fingers and toes. But what I long for most of all is the blessed illusion of invulnerability.

DECATER

The Voice:

Stephen had a conversation with the voice every day. It tended to be an incessant dialogue until one or the other of them fell asleep. The voice cajoled and upbraided and urged him to do the worst things.

There was the time the voice commanded him to steal the money from his coworker’s till and she got fired. Or the time it wanted him to cheat on his girlfriend with that woman in the bar. Or his ongoing cocaine addiction.

What made the whole thing even more perverted was the voice sounded just like his third grade teacher, Miss Boggs.

TOM

Back in The Day
STAB was the most eclectic hair band of the 80s. Probably never hear of
them, in spite of the fact they released 14 albums and were the opening
act for Spinal Tap. Their debut record “Bonfire of the Vanities” a
selection of Shakespearean soliloquizes in Esperanza was an international
success. Rolling Stone called them the masters of Acid Raga. Front-man
Punchinello Tirebitter wailed with the phrasing of Sinatra and the
syncopation of Shatner. STAB’s seminal work “Three Forks and a Spoon”
never gained the air play of “Timmy in a Box” the deep track Schrodinger’s
Cat was totally prepost human.

A Well Defined Relationship 21
Mother turned to the Senator, “I’m not fond of heights,” she said staring
down at the ground four stories below. “Sorry, out of time,” replied the
Senator giving the Widow a push off the platform. Mother flew down the
zip-line, sailed over the Arno. A stabbing pain in her stomach rose up
into her throat. “Breath, silly woman,” she chastised herself in a
frontier fought with fear she was not about to let a childhood trauma get
the better of her. Hadn’t she stared down a Cathsore Viper and clocked a
Varsin Exopath. To no avail she lost her lunch.

A Well Defined Relationship 22

The Voice echoed out from heights of Mea Maxima Culpa. “Blood has been
spilled, blood is now demanded.” Timmy scanned the silver horizon and
found in the sea of angry faces a few earnest ones of support. Mother and
the Senator, Banister and Dino, Sparky and much to his surprise Doc
Proctor himself. Seven against thousands, well actually millions against
one. Timmy tapped the dermal control pad as he brushed the high priestess
hand. For the better part of a thousandth of a second Master Parsons
pondered the ethicacy of reprogramming another human. “BEHOLD HE HAS
RETURNED.” voiced the profit.

You Can’t Help Yourself

One of the simple joys in life is messing with people’s heads. It takes
the form of getting them to embracing your silliness just as they’re about
to dismiss you. One of my favorite gambits is the inverted “Have You Stop
Beating Your Wife” trap. In the original silence is the proper response.

Here goes. Michael is repairing a broken computer in your class. You
announce to the students you are hearing voices. Michael smirks. Then you
say: The voices tell me to give all my money to Michael. Nine out ten
Michael will yell out “Listen to the voice.”

MUNSI

Me in a Nutshell

By Christopher Munroe

You misunderstand me, I’m not unfeeling, merely uncaring.

As such, I feel your distress, I understand it completely.

I just don’t care.

I know you find me unbearable at times. It’s only natural. I am, at times, unbelievably irritating. To you, anyway.

Indeed, to most people. You’re by no means alone in your assessment.

I understand this perfectly. I simply choose not to act upon it.

Because, you see, I find the sound of my own voice incredibly soothing. Hearing me speak relaxes me to no end.

So, in answer to your question, no, I won’t shut the fuck up.

RICHARD

#1 – The attack

The attack happened later that night.

A sudden shout and the sound of gunfire roused George from sleep – something had gone wrong, badly wrong! Quickly, he grabbed his few belongings and ran for cover.

Hidden behind a stack of oil drums, he peered into the darkness, apart from shadows and the flash of weapons there was little he could make out. He shivered and crouched in the shadows.

A quiet sob in the darkness.

“Emily… is that you?”

“George? Where are you? I can’t see a thing.”

“Follow my voice Emily… I’m here. Everything’s going to be OK, I promise.”

#2 – Always the last place you look

When grandfather lost his voice, we practically turned the house upside-down trying to find it. We tried everywhere possible, and good few places that you wouldn’t have considered possible too. We checked the refrigerator, under the kitchen sink, in his sock drawer and even emptied the compost bin – but it was no use, grandpa’s voice was well and truly lost.

Eventually, tired, dirty and more than a little fed up, we decided to call off the search and I sank gratefully into my seat…

“OUCH!”

You guessed it… it was down the back of the sofa all the time!

#3 – How much?

Apparently, the pen is mightier than the sword and a picture is worth a thousand words, but I’ve never found anyone who can tell me what a voice is worth.

You’d think speech would have some sort of measure or, some method of calculating its value… but no, at least that’s what I thought.

It took me a while to work it out, but there it was, staring me right in the face and somehow, I’d never made the connection.

You want to know how much your voice is worth?

Just open up your phone bill and take a look!

#4 – Sounds familiar

My first day on the job: training fresh in my mind, script to hand – I was ready, with a sense of supreme self-confidence that only the foolish can boast.

I quietly repeated my mantra… “Grab their interest, grab their cash, grab the commission!” – Oh boy… was I going to be the best telesales agent ever!

Deep breath and dial.

A pause… one ring, two, three and, click!

Typical – my first call and I get voicemail! But hang on… that voice… strangely familiar.

I checked the screen in front of me – would you believe it? I’d dialled my own number!

ZACKMANN

STORY #1

“I might be overstressed. I have been hearing a voice saying the oddest things.”

“Nothing bad I hope. This voice isn’t telling you to do things?”

“Well actually yes but not anything really to fear. It tells me to wash behind my ears, balance my checkbook, and text my mother.”

“Son, does this voice sound very familiar to you?”

“Yes, like my mother’s.”

“With work and school you haven’t been spending much time home, have you?”

“No.”

“Ask your roommate when is he going to tell you he bought an answering machine for which he gave your mother the number?”

STORY #2

“Hey look that’s the Fuck You Song Guy on TV.”

“Honeyko, if you don’t want to have an unpleasant night you better watch your vulgar mouth and and not talk bad about Cee Lo Green.”

“Dearest, just because you have only heard the radio version of the song doesn’t mean the original isn’t still online where it was popular first.”

“Honeyko, Just quiet and let me watch The Voice.”

“You mean they made The Voice form Three Minute Danger Theater into a TV show, cool.”

“No”

“How can this be The Voice when it doesn’t even have a ventriloquist policeman?”

SPATE

Voice of Destiny

Thus little Jonathan was thrust into this world exhibiting vocal qualities unremarkable to all except his mother. She lay drenched in sweat, half delirious, weeping from pain and joy, thinking “This voice is destined for greatness.”

“Maybe he’ll be a singer,

or an actor,

or a politician.”

But our lives rarely turn out the way our mothers expect.

And while he wasn’t rich or famous or powerful, John was very happy. Ironically, he was most happy about his voice. You see, at his job he enjoyed making women quiver with desire whenever he asked:

“Would you like fries with that?”

SERENDIPITY

You should speak, they say – use your voice.

To me, that seems all wrong: I am not real – I’m an imaginary person – a construct of pixels and ideas, not real at all.

I cannot eat, sleep, drink or breathe; my every action is dictated by another; I am as distant from the world of flesh and blood as a dream is distant from reality. Why give me a voice when the words I speak are those of another and the thoughts I express are not uniquely mine?

And if I did have a voice… would you listen to me anyway?

CLIFF

The first thing I checked was the communicator station. It was silent. Mission control wasn’t talking to us. Then I checked on Orlosky. He was sound asleep in his bag and after three months in orbit with the Russian, I knew he didn’t talk in his sleep. So, where was that voice coming from. It was intermittent, quiet, and annoying as hell. My mind listed possibilities. Ghost? Stowaway? Space madness? It turned out to be a preprogrammed microspeaker that I was sure Sullivan left on his last tour. So, I set it up for Orlosky. We astronauts can be assholes.

Her voice was a kind of sexual magic. Men would empty their accounts at her request. They would abandon families just for a chance to carry her bags. Her power had corrupted her and she would ask men to do things just to see them destroy themselves for her. She met her match in Roy. Her voice had no effect on him. The reason eluded her and she hated it. Was he gay? Deaf? She discovered the truth when he calmly strangled her and saved the world. Her voice simply couldn’t compete with all the ones already in his head.

TURA

Everyone has a voice. The ones you usually hear about are the multiples, Legions saying nasty things from within, but we’re all sorts. Still small voices, voices pretending to be spirits from Mars, thunderous voices like the chap in all the Hollywood film trailers. Some are silent– you know, the inner urging of conscience in the still of the night, the presence closer than your own heartbeat.

You probably think you’re a real person, and the voice is just some sort of brain quirk. The truth is, we’re the real people. You’re just the semi-intelligent machines that move our bodies.

HELEN

I love my friends for sharing their Voices, and I love the 100 Word Story prompt, Voice.

My Voice represents truths, honesty, and engages logical thinking. My Voice is inspired by other voices that engage the mind to use knowledge versus stupidity. What’s your voice?

My Voice

My Voice fights for justice freedom and equality

My Voice fights hatred Antisemitism and ignorance

My Voice helps, feeds, and clothes

My Voice is fragile, soft, and loud

My Voice is quiet

My Voice is mysterious, and creative

My Voice has a mission

My Voice is love

My Voice is original and my own…

JULIE

I am home. There is a party downstairs to which I was not invited. I am pissed off. I like a party, and I wanted to wear a pretty dress.

This band seems to specialize in voices. First, one man sounds like John Lennon, and then Frank Sinatra. There is a lady who does Etta James. I am not there, of course, because I was not invited and pretend not to listen. Now, there is a George Harrison voice. The Paul harmony guy sucks.

I dance better than all the hedge fund wives and swirl happily in my cheap apartment.

JUSTIN

It’s always different when you meet someone in person. I’ve heard his voice is some Starfleet training and while researching some records, but to meet Ambassador Worf face to face was something else. Deep below the surface of Mol’Rihan, standing before an Iconian gateway controlled by the Romulan Republic, witnessing history. I’ve had many great moments in my career as a Starfleet captain, but this was the start of something huge, something bigger than I ever would have expected. Someone has been pulling the strings of the galaxy for an age. I aim to be there to sever their ties.

NORVAL JOE

Piermont Freedangle sat alone at a long table in the back room of Seniora Pinche’s Cafe y donuteria. His local writer’s meetup group had met, drank coffee and ate donuts, then critiqued one another’s monthly submission. The rest of the group had left long ago, and quite abruptly when he may have overreacted to a critique by an older woman who claims literary fiction is the only prose worth reading.
Piermont stood and shouted, “You want me to find my voice? Well, here’s my voice. Now, why don’t you find it?”
He sat down, realizing he had clearly lost it.

DANNY

(The Village) Voice

I still read the Village Voice online, but it just isn’t the same as when I would read my free copy every Wednesday while attending Law School in NYC in the early 1990s. Right after the Wednesday morning lecture, I would rush to the main hallway, grab my free copy off the stack, sit down in the cafeteria, and immediately flip to the back pages to determine what music club I was going to Saturday night after work. CBGB’s, Wetlands, Kenny’s Castaways, the Limelight, clubs that no longer exist, distant memories in a corporate city that has lost its soul.

MAGGY

Suddenly he heard a voice – Dan. No. There was no one around. Dan was gone.

He checked the recorder. Dan was often recording stuff. Reckoned it kept him sane.

Poor old Dan. Lost a lot of his hearing after the beating he got.

No. No voice on the recorder. Bit of piano music, that’s all.

But it was a voice. Whose? Not mine, not Paddy’s…it sounded more like Dan’s.

This room…This is where he…Better get out of here. “Hello, Szy.” It was Dan’s

voice, deep, soft. “Where are you?” I stood by the piano. It played.

SINGH

16.10

the voice was a bird on a buffalo

the twitter of crimson claws

boys raised bhangra digits to the sky

pink ribbons jiggled on girls’ plaits

the voice rattled the pipal leaves

the harmonium wheezed through its puncture
the heel of a hand worked its drum-skin

palms clapped with happy static

a deep pulse tolled from head to head

and finger cymbals set off other ringing

now the voice was a river in a flood

flowing through the ether through the akaash

the bird voice rode the back of power

and swallows did their figure-eight flight

and wrote infinity above

16.11

His voice became a tall tale taken home:

White Yogi with a guitar and happy clapping.

Passed around, the God chants kept repeating.
Celebrity swelled weekly to a crowd

that gathered in the mandir where bells rang

each time a parent came to offer fruit

or sweet rice, a flower, then sat down

to join the swelling sea of Hare Ram.

A drummer brought his expert dholak fingers

and a line of ladies chimed their finger cymbals

as Yogi led the chant and added English.

It sat awkward on their rustic tongues
while Foreign Madam clapped on at the back.

16.12

He took Bob Marley’s rock words

and sang them to their source:

bum bum Bhola bum bum Bhola
hail the Simple, Lord of Blessings
bum bum Bholenath

A masala of holy Names

a salty namkeen mix

Om Jai Shiv Omkara
Hail Shiva who is Om

Shiva Shambo Shiva Shambo
Shiva Shiva el Supremo

He wanted to sing more
from his notebook songs:

carry me over the worldly ocean,
over the sea of samsara

Hey Mahadeva

Oh my Lord Deliverer.

In the end he sang simple, Bhola,
Bam Bam Bholenath

call and response call and response
like the tides of the Ganga.

16. 13

Fame spread far, while Yogi kept on singing A to Z in school beneath the wish tree.
The alphabet song would rise and fall until

strumming stopped; he’d sign language

to their giggles, then started off again.

They followed his songlines beyond letters

into words. Soon were trading Hindi:
apple for saib, rice for padi field
orange was mosmani, banana became kela

a conga line made ‘elephant’ a hatti

a yogi with kids in tow went trumpeting
up and down the dirt with arms raised up
to noses like baby trunks, while little Atul
clapped hairy halves of a coconut behind.

16.14

Overbrimming with curriculum and accounts

she wiped the office desk of mouse dirt

and listened through the window with no glass

as he free-styled out there beneath the tree.

She was glad to let her barked-out voice rest up,
although she’d have to whistle him along

with pedagogy. Just a lesson plan or two.

Yes, he had great entertainment value, but

would run out of steam. Or they would, sooner or later.

A teacher needed more in the bag of tricks

to do her sleight of hand to pass the ace

before the God of Structure rang the bell.

16.15

And then it hit her,

sitting on the throne

of her flat metal chair

that bit at her hipbone.

Yogi was good with kids

although not her own.

For all that Adelaide time

and hard travelling alone,

they hadn’t let him in

and did their spoilt moan

to Papa, their howitzer

first chance on the phone.

He’d fired it back at her

his rain of shrapnel blown,

even though he had left her

for that sharp-nosed clone

of a wife who had stolen

the Frenchman, She would atone

one day for husband theft.

All was on short term loan.

16.16

She voiced sharper feelings to herself,

then realised she shouldn’t speak at all.

Margot was free as the gecko on the shelf,

while Yogi was a snail learning to crawl.

For now, he had song’s aura and could wow

a crowd of devotees and do child care.

In this place of wheat fields ready to plough

he might grow up to speak true through hot air.

But fans were closing ranks. Was he the star,

the next to fall flat through fame’s love affair?

She closed her eyes and saw the town bazaar
and beyond her singer with his hot guitar.

MAGGY

Suddenly he heard a voice – Dan. No. There was no one around. Dan was gone.

He checked the recorder. Dan was often recording stuff. Reckoned it kept him sane.

Poor old Dan. Lost a lot of his hearing after the beating he got.

No. No voice on the recorder. Bit of piano music, that’s all.

But it was a voice. Whose? Not mine, not Paddy’s…it sounded more like Dan’s.

This room…This is where he…Better get out of here. “Hello, Szy.” It was Dan’s

voice, deep, soft. “Where are you?” I stood by the piano. It played.

PLANET Z

The opera announced that the entire week’s performances were cancelled.

The diva had lost her voice. The performances would be rescheduled when her voice returned, but refunds were available.

I know they’re lying, because her voice isn’t lost.

It’s being held for ransom.

Here. In this coffee can.

That’s right. I stole it.

I want one million dollars for it. And I know that the insurance company will cover it.

They tried to trick me into letting them hear it over the phone, but I know that’s how voices can escape.

It ain’t over until the fat lady pays up.

6 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #393 – Voice”

  1. Danny wonderful story (was the too gay?)
    F! it your stories took me back to the
    New York of the 70’s live music in
    Washington Square. The night in
    Richie Havens studio. Thank sir
    made me smile. and Munsi yous
    all ways on point.

  2. Welcome Spate,
    Great use of the audio medium!
    Serendipity,
    Now I get you. Always enjoy your stuff BTW
    Richard,
    Ever witty, ever entertaining!
    Tura,
    I love never knowing what smart thing you are going to come up with.
    Lizzie and Helen,
    What mics are you using? Excellent quality.
    Julie,
    Great to hear you hear you. As for the party, you turned that into a clever writing opportunity. Effective!
    And Tom,
    Thanks for the story count. Jeez that many! I wasn’t counting.

    And thanks Crap
    For keeping this ‘subway stop’ of the internet underworld/underground open.

    and everyone else (‘fellow carbon life forms hahah! Munis). Apologies for not mentioning you by name. Always glad to listen each week to your work in the far off land of Oz.

    Best

    Singh

  3. At the risk of sounding like sucking up to the proprietor, I enjoyed Planet Z’s literal take on “losing” one’s voice. And Serendipity, you’re real to me.

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