Weekly Challenge #600 – Rock

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

A few days off...

GINGER

Rock

The age-old debate – can girls rock???

(“…me and the boys are playing…” – Kiss) …There would be nothing wrong with a girl playing with boys.

(“…oh, won’t you please take me home?” – Guns N’ Roses) …Doesn’t every girl want someone to drive her to her door?

(“…I’d hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain…” – Kiss) …Expresses motherly concern for an infink, don’t doubt.

(“…all we need is just a little patience…” – Guns N’ Roses) …Patience is one of the seven virtues. *Note to self: Sabr is a cornerstone of Islamic faith which pertains to fasting. Again, these are fragile ties but they can be drawn.

Yes. I have decided gender is ambiguous when it comes to heavy metal ballads.

TOM

We Salute You

It was just down the road from the dawn of Podcasting 2004. At the time I had collected 3000 midis during the previous decade. So I did this show called: Midi. After 10 years I hit my goal of a million download. Thought to closing it out then, but I’m pretty lazy. So I let it ride. A few weeks ago I get this email from Libsyn that I need to more my billing info to a new account. Of course this email is bit postdated, so when I go to the site I get a 404. So much for customer loyalty.

CHARLIE

Rock Hard. Good diet and lots of sleep are key. To build muscles, strength, and stamina the trick is a balanced diet and enough sleep.

A diet of grade B Western movies and sleep walking through a mundane job will keep a man less interesting, uncreative and in a torpor. A job better done by a robot or a chimp turns the mind into over-ripe squash.

Challenge yourself, as someone else that intelligently challenges you is rare.
Learn something new every day, and read widely across disciplines.

Don’t be sold a bill of goods by phony, self-credentialed “experts”, and narcissists.

LIZZIE

The idea of going back was unbearable. Summer had been wonderful. Work was a distant place. She had forgotten about David, the pervert, John, the sloth, and Lewis, the hippie who didn’t bathe enough. She stared at a few seashells, tokens of moments she would cherish forever. David said she would get bored by herself. He was so wrong. John advised her not to get a sunburn, and Lewis just smiled, stoned. Everyone thought she was too fragile. Perhaps she was, yes. But she decided she wasn’t going back. And she held that small rock in her hand and smiled.

RICHARD

#1 – Rock a bye

Rock a bye baby, on the tree top…

Wait a minute! How the hell did you get up there?

Don’t tell me; you were kidnapped by marauding squirrels? Now they’re holding you for ransom – your body weight in acorns?

No? Did you fell out of a passing jetliner and were fortunate enough to land safely in those branches? Unlikely.

Were you dumped there by a stay tornado, abandoned by cruel parents, or did you crawl up there on your own?

I guess we’ll never know, since you can’t talk.

Take care that bough doesn’t break.

Oh dear, too late!

#2 – Grandpa rocks!

Grandfather was a rock musician – he’d throw large stones at inanimate objects to produce rhythmic percussion.

We asked him, “Why not just play the drums?”

“Drums is for wimps. Real men play the rocks.”

We’d have left it at that, until he started hurling stones at the neighbour’s windows, and then at the neighbours themselves.

He was charged with assault, and got sent down for three months.

When I visited, I asked how the music was working out. He told me he’d quit…

“I’ve gone into serving booze now… In fact, I spend almost all my time behind bars!”

SERENDIPITY

I know where you keep the spare key – it’s under that rock, next to the front door. I also know that now you’re aware I know, you’re going to move it to some new hiding place.

Too late, my friend.

I made a copy.

Of course, now you’re going to go and change that lock, aren’t you? You may as well do the other doors too. After all, you can’t be too careful with someone like me lurking in the dark.

It won’t help you.

Remember that rock by the front door?

I just lobbed it through your window…

JEFFREY

The Hot Rock
by Jeffrey Fischer

Hank examined the rock carefully. “Looks like a real diamond to me,” he said to the rest of the gang, who had just liberated the ring from the Horowitz’s bedroom.

“How would you know?” sneered Luther. “All of a sudden you’re an expert on real and fake diamonds?”

“I just know, okay,” Hank said. “But fine, we’ll get an expert to take a look. So the gang looked up the location of the nearest jewelery shop and piled into their car. The jeweler took out his loupe and examined the rock carefully. He looked up at Hank and slowly shook his head. “A good job, but it’s costume jewelry. Worth maybe $200.”

The gang exchanged glances. Now what?

“Tell you what, guys,” the jeweler said. “I’ll pay you $150 for it. I’m pretty sure I can resell it for a little profit.”

After the gang left, the jeweler called the homeowner, a long-standing customer. “Mrs. Horowitz? I have your diamond ring back, and some good closed-circuit pictures of the thieves.”

TURA

Rock
———
I gave up eating meat, because animals suffer. Then I realised that plants also are alive, and resolved to subsist only on inorganic nutrients. But are not even rocks alive? They wear and crack from rain and frost. We burrow into them like maggots, mining for iron and oil. We grind them for concrete. Would they not scream, if only they could?

Then consider their atoms, imprisoned in crystal lattices. This world is made of suffering, all the way down.

And that is why I seek the key to unravel all of creation, and return it to the pure void.

NORVAL JOE

Axel tried to scoot away from the security officer’s prod but found his way blocked by heavy crates.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was just waiting for a friend,” Axel said.
The officer jabbed the prod into Axel’s thigh. His entire leg lost all sensation. He rocked to the side and rolled onto his stomach, trying to push away with his one good leg. The prod jabbed into his back and the lower half of his body went numb.
“Don’t lie to me,” the officer growled and kicked Axel hard in the ribs.
And everything went dark.

LAIEANNA

I hadn’t expected a rant when sitting by the man as old as time before
time. We both stared at my phone where I was scrolling through songs.
I opted to ignore him with a song to tune him out. He continued his
tirade on the disappointment of the music of today, growing louder and
slightly more annoyed.

His pause is what caught my attention again. Feebly picking up a rock
only to drop it back down, the old man tapped his foot to the rhythmic
thumps of the rock rolling downhill. Pointing, he cackled, “Now
that’s rock and roll.”

DUANE

Rock

It was the summer of 1975 and everyone had a pet rock but me. We were too poor to buy one so I had to hunt down a wild one. After hours of skipping from stone to stone, I found the one for me. I stalked my quarry as it tried to hide among the gravel. I grabbed it and held it up for a better look. It was a gem. I named it Jagger and took it everywhere I went. I made it costumes for Easter and Halloween. To make sure it never got lost I had it chipped.

PLANET Z

One village had caused problems for our patrol.
Kids throwing rocks at us.
We’d stop, and the kids would scatter.
After a few days of this, the rock-throwing stopped, and a video appeared on YouTube.
There’s us driving by, the kids throwing rocks.
Then, spliced in, men dressed up in uniforms similar to ours beating up the kids and shooting them.
When kids in another village started throwing rocks, a second patrol spotted the cameraman.
He shouted “First Amendment! Free Press!”
We shot him. And we shot his compatriots in the fake uniforms.
The kids threw rocks at their corpses.

Weekly Challenge #599 – Hospital

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Myst

GINGER

Hospital

The psychiatric attending physician on rotation at hospital decided to take advantage of a blond admitting nurse early on in her career. His favorite tactic had been to ambiguously refer to an undefined “we” when explaining very particular directions for the handling of patients he wished to assess:

“Sit him in the furthest corner of the waiting room, do not speak with him until we tell you to,” etcetera, etcetera… “…because that is how we want it done.”

This worked very well in terms of gaining blind obedience from hospital staff.

No instruction required explanation because he was a doctor. Not just any doctor, a psychiatrist. And if an explanation was requested by someone serving admittance to emergency, one would simply be assured, “…because that is how we want it done.”

And the phrase alone would always ensure exacting compliance…to the letter. It also served to confuse patients who would be admitted promptly with a medical illness for voicing concerns.

One night, well into the wee hours of the morning, an assault victim arrived at admittance, having driven herself to the hospital with a slashed throat.

“Tell her to fuck off,” said the psychiatrist to the admitting nurse.

FAUVE

No one sane answers yes to the question Do you want to go to the Hospital…but neither does hardly anyone crazy either! So how do you know if you are sick or well if we are all a little crazy or just dying by the second as we live? You listen to your body. Listening to it produces weird dialogue…my right foot complains a bit, she is bigger than my left and feels somewhat put upon when forced into that half-size smaller shoe if I buy cheap ones that don’t come in size nine and a half…

RICHARD

#1 – Hospital

If you really want to make me miserable, put me in a hospital.

The sights, sounds and smells of the sick and injured makes for a distinctly depressing environment. The interminable waits, painful and intrusive procedures, and the sheer discomfort only adds to the unpleasantness; while visitors feel obliged to make inane conversation, but all the time wish they could be somewhere else.

What about the dreadful food and those depressing, bland pastel colours they insist on painting the walls?

It really does make you feel sick.

Every day, I find myself wishing I’d never chosen to become a doctor!

#2 – Cure-all

It’s a universal cure all… An all-natural remedy with no side effects and highly efficacious against a multitude of ailments.

Bad back, high blood pressure, bulimia, acid indigestion, brain tumour? All these, and more, can be treated simply and effectively; often only requiring a single course of this revolutionary new treatment.

Its therapeutic qualities aid recovery, assist the healing process and protects against infection and complications.

Take orally, or rub on the affected area as a lotion – then just wait for the results.

Yes folks, you’ll never look back after you’ve tried all new, scientifically proven…

Horse spittle!

TOM

Whistling Past the Graveyard

I don’t know what it is about hospitals that bring out the snarkyness in
people. They tend to hang the most pejorative of moniker on these
institutions. In our county Lakeside is referred to as Graveside and
Redbud is called Deadbud by the locals. Perhaps it is a throwback to the
days when it was unlikely you would survive your trip to the hospital. It
could be there are few place that one losses all dignity and control, so
we whistle pass the graveyard will any air of superiority. Of course if
you’re running a temp of 105, different story.

CHARLIE

As a floor nurse, I’ve dealt with the foul, fascinating landscapes, besmirched with armpits and fruity genitalia, belching gobs, and those impulsive blurting sphincters in whose hot updrafts that I might ascend and soar.

After my shift, I joined the clandestine cocktail therapy session in the break room. I took advantage of the head nurses drugged condition and shoved her face into the pasta puttanesca. Doctor Hummingshorts whispered in my ear, saying he thought my Jacuzzi was wet and warm.

It was time to leave when I found a pube in my gelato.

#2

Rash Barwash was the hospital administrator. He recently put out a memo to all docs and nurses that a rise in supply prices from vendors would necessitate rises in all consumables. Of course, the prices billed to insurance was already high. An example was the current charge of $308.00 for four boxes of sterile, gauze pads each containing twenty-four, 4 inch by 4 inch dressings. These could be bought over the counter at Walgreen’s for $3.99 a box.

Barwash left this plane, prematurely, along with six CEO’s of vendor companies. They were flying to a conference when a mishap occurred.

JEFFREY

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream
by Jeffrey Fischer

I lie in my hospital bed, just starting to drift off to sleep, when a nurse arrives. “Time to check your vital signs!” she says cheerily, sticking a thermometer in my mouth, wrapping a blood pressure cuff to my arm, and clamping a heart rate sensor to my finger. I’m fully awake now. The clock reads just after midnight. She leaves. I close my eyes again.

“Time for a blood sample!” another nurse calls out. Two-freaking a.m. By four it’s another round of vitals, followed by breakfast at six. “You look tired today,” a day nurse says. “No kidding,” I reply.

JON

It was built of brick and it had dignity. It was beautiful, with details that bridged the gap between a public establishment and the home one missed. Nice frames around the doors and windows. Rooms where those who were mobile could gather and talk, perhaps play cards or chess or checkers. There were sunny screened porches.

People had died there, many times, but many more had lived. The smiles of nurses lingered, sunlight rather than shadows.

The new place down the road was easier to clean, had many advanced facilities, and was probably better: but it had no stories yet.

SERENDIPITY

You lie there in your hospital bed: Every intrusive beep of the monitor, every ponderous drip of the saline, counting off the moments that remain.

Moments that are marked and defined by pain.

And here, in my hand lies the answer – a simple syringe, loaded with a soothing, pain relieving, peace inducing panacea… Morphine!

Just one shot can ease your discomfort, dull the pain and bring you relief. Or maybe, if it’s just too much to bear, the full load – bringing permanent release.

So… What shall it be?

Actually, it’s mine – you can suffer while I watch!

TURA

Hospital
———
It was the first time I accompanied the senior doctor on his hospital round.

“Generalised Semantic Disorder,” he said of the first patient. “He sounds like he’s asking to be discharged, but none of his words mean anything. Treatment: ignoral.”

We continued to the next room. “Persecution Disorder. Attacked in the street. Let’s hear your thoughts on treatment.”

Caught on the hop, I stammered some foolishness about finding his attacker.

He looked at me sharply. “Young man, talk like that could get you arrested as a patient. It wouldn’t be the first time some starry-eyed intern has contracted Conspiracy Disorder.”

NORVAL JOE

The security officer dragged Axel into and empty warehouse and threw him onto the floor. He pulled a prod from his utility belt and aimed it at Axel.
Several holes on the end closest to Axel told him the prod could project various charges. Most likely it was preset with stun bursts to incapacitate and immobilize a perpetrator. Though, other possibilities included O2 deficit, muscle spasm, and tissue dissolving charges.
If the officer fired the prod, Axel could end up incarcerated, in the morgue, or in the hospital.
“Now’s your chance to come clean,” the officer snarled. “Who’s your supplier?”

DUANE

Hospital

Arriving late to the maternity ward I was hurried into scrubs and watched from outside myself as the doctor darted away shouting “Let’s have a baby!” The nurse ushered me towards the delivery room and into a cacophony of action, light and sound. The doctor said “I need you to push” and all hell broke loose. What was a couple of nurses seemed to turn into a large choir chanting “push, push…” My wife had a look on her face I had never seen before. If a marching band had come through at that moment, I wouldn’t have even noticed.

LIZZIE

He pressed the button and a nurse appeared.
“Hungry.”
She turned around and walked away. He waited. Nothing.
He pressed the button again. Another nurse appeared.
“I’m hungry.”
She turned around and left.
For the third time, he pressed the button, and a third nurse appeared.
“I’m really hungry.”
She tilted her head.
“Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
He frowned.
“The code.”
“What code?”
“The one they gave you with your patient card.”
He flipped the card back and forth. In small letters, the code.
“Please?”
And food was provided, abundantly.

PLANET Z

I used to play the game SimCity, where you put together a city’s infrastructure and zones, and the computer would fill up that city with people and homes and offices and other things.
Every now and then, a dense residential zone would turn into a hospital or church, which wouldn’t get you much resident density for that zone.
So, I’d bulldoze it and rezone it, and the residents would pour back in.
Until another church or hospital appeared.
After two hours of playing Whack-a-Mole with them, I gave up.
Completely. God crumpled the disk and threw it in the trash.

Weekly Challenge #598 – Mask

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Tinny

GINGER

Mask

Belinda was a masked individual. Her face had been traumatically altered in an accident when she was young. Surgeons had attempted facial reconstruction at that time with little success. As an adult, Belinda held various back room jobs in stores as well as in restaurant kitchens. She could not work in view of the public for fear that the scars would scare patrons. She failed to inure advancement in office jobs because of an overriding fear on the part of her employers that the face of trauma might intimidate female co-workers. She maintained routine visits with a plastic surgeon. In time, the appearance of scarring no longer shocked the world. In time, she began to feel less guilt for being a monster.

JEFFREY

What The Eye Don’t See
by Jeffrey Fischer

You bought a mask, I put it on
You never thought to ask me
If I wear it when you’re gone

Get real
— Sisters of Mercy, “When You Don’t See Me”

My boss chewed me out because I was late. I tried to look contrite. He chewed me out again when he read my report – not up to standards, he said. I smiled wanly and said I would rewrite it; surely it would be better with his comments. At the staff meeting, the section chief commended the group for their efforts over the past year and those who made the company proud would be honored at this afternoon’s company-wide awards ceremony, though he noted that some weren’t pulling their weight. He stared at me while making that last point. I kept my mask on.

At lunch I went to the garage, found my car, popped the trunk, and took out the guns stored there. Screw the mask I had kept for many years. Today I had my own way of rewarding the company’s overachievers.

RICHARD

#1 – Fart at a funeral

It was one of those priceless moments.

A real trouser-tearer that practicality echoed throughout the chapel during the solemn silence. As for the culprit, we never found out.

The timing was perfect, the incongruity and inappropriateness, delicious… And my response, all too predictable.

I tried to mask it, but the badly disguised smirk on my face was obvious. As were the shoulders of the mourners in front of me, shaking with barely suppressed mirth.

With superhuman control, we somehow managed to regain our composure…

But it made for an unforgettable send off, for a somewhat less than memorable acquaintance!

#2 – The Mask

You see it everywhere – at every protest, every riot, every scene of political unrest.

The Guy Fawkes’ mask – now wholly appropriated as the best-dressed protester’s choice for anonymity. It’s replaced the balaclava with its overtly paramilitary overtones, whilst the old standby – a scarf covering the face – suggests a lack of preparation and any real dedication to the cause.

I can’t help wondering what old Guy Fawkes would have made of it. I can imagine him smiling at the thought. Although you’d never know it… On account of the Guy Fawkes mask that he always insisted on wearing!

CHARLIE

He started to wear mask the day he was convicted of pederasty in the small town where he lived. He further disguised himself by gaining a hundred pounds and changing his dress style. He disguised his voice by getting a private voice coach.

No one ever questioned his mask. He voluntarily revealed the disfigurement he suffered in Paris from an acid attack. He wore a scarf tight, to further disguise himself and to heighten the illusion.

Unknowingly, the mask was that of Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. Literati and hipsters put two and two together, so his secret was out.

#2

I couldn’t mask the smell by spraying lemon oil. The odor persisted. Someone had “upper decked” my commode during the party. It was the gardener – recently fired for his poor attitude and his outrageous rates. I invited him because he was a relative.

The prank blocked the outflow, and the subsequent eruption caused havoc and an odor that triggered most of the party-goers to leave, dry-heaving and retching as they went out the doors.

I was never able to prove whom the guilty party was, but from that day on, I made it my duty to “upper deck” everyone’s toilet.

SERENDIPITY

“Would you like something to mask the pain?” I asked, with genuine concern in my voice.

You nodded, through the agony, teeth gritted, eyes wide with pleading.

I wanted to be certain that I understood what you were telling me.

“Are you sure? “, I said.

“Yes!” You screamed, with all the strength you could muster.

Well, that was pretty clear, and to be honest, I was a little surprised. But, I wouldn’t argue, if that’s what you wanted.

So I hacked off your feet too.

“There you go. That should take your mind off what’s left of your hands!”

LIZZIE

Lean forward and read the words, she thought, one after the other, one after the other, paragraph following paragraph, obediently covering the pages of a blank book. For the others, the pages were blank, and had nothing written on them. Yet, she saw words, one after the other, strings of paragraphs covering the desert of whiteness. She forgot the ban. And the world became warm.
Lean back, she thought, place the mask back on. No one will see how you can travel away. The book went back on the shelf of empty books, and no one knew she could read.

JON

Before Me and Behind Me
By
Jon DeCles
We mask our feelings: we mask our fears, we mask our joys, showing nothing to those around us. Our masks are armor that protects us from the untoward unrealized threat.
But worse than the mask we wear to show to others how little power they have over us is the mask we wear that faces inward, the mask we show unto ourselves, pretending who we want to be and looking at that mask and believing we are that, and not the shadowy person who lives behind the public mask, the inner mask, the person whose raw nature we fear most.

My Salad Days, When I Was Green in Judgement, Cold in Blood
By
Jon DeCles

A salad is usually made by the chef, but only on rare occasions does the chef actually cook a salad, so on those occasions is he cooking or not? We could call him a cook, but suppose the cook works in a salad bar? Or how about those occasions when desert is assembled out of freshly chilled raw comestibles, like fruit or ice? There is a delightful Philippine desert made of what I think to be slightly fermented fruits mixed with small chunks of ice: that’s not cooking, is it? But we do have it prepared by the cook, no?.

TOM

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear

It was 1957 and every kid who could talk their parents into springing the coin wanted to be the Lone Ranger for Halloween. Rudy had not only got the cool black mask, six shooter, and silver bullets. He had also convinced his less than enthusiastic little brother Lenny to accompany him as Tonto. For the greater part of the night they were racking in serious sugar cash, but then a pack of kids dressed at the Butch Cavendish’s gang fell on them. “We’ve been in worst straights, Tonto.” “What do you mean ‘We’ Whiteman?” said Lenny exiting stage right.

TURA

Mask
———
The Red Flash and the accountant faced each other.

The accountant whipped off his mask, “No mere accountant I,” he said. “Behold Magnetron!”

“Not so fast, Magnetron,” said The Red Flash, “for I am–” he whipped off his mask, “–Xray! I see beneath that mask–”

“Curses! But your X-rays are powerless against–” Magnetron whipped off his mask, “Galaxian!”

“But I am really–” said Xray, whipping off his mask. “–Mr Neutrino! Nothing deflects me!”

“But I am–” said Galaxian, whipping off his mask, “Nigel Weems, Accountant! Your neutrinos are a mere accounting error!”

Nigel awoke, sighed and returned to his desk.

NORVAL JOE

The security guard strode down the passage.
Axel looked anywhere beside the advancing officer, hoping to mask his overwhelming anxiety.
His worst fears were realized when the man stopped in front of him.
“You’re in a controlled sector. Why are you here?” the guard asked.
“I’m waiting for someone. And this isn’t a controlled sector, or I couldn’t have walked into this passage,” Axel countered feigning bravado.
His act didn’t work. The guard suddenly had him in a choke hold, dragging him toward the link.
“You’re here to make a drug deal and I’m going to find out for whom.”

LAIEANNA

“What do you think, Jack?” she asked, flaunting her new look.

The mask advertised a fresh new face in just twenty-four hours and
Sara couldn’t wait for Jack to see what she did for him, always for
him. They hadn’t spoken in weeks, but she kept tabs on where and what
he did. When the mutual friend’s party came up, Sara arrived smiling
with bright whites, tossing her blowout, and batting the eyelashes of
her new face.

Jack looked with his usual disdain and shook his head. “Sara,
nothing’s changed. Your insides are still showing. Go away, you
psycho bitch.”

DUANE

Mask

The Devil was looking over my shoulder. Had been for ten minutes. Maybe an hour, I was pretty stoned. I didn’t want to say anything to anyone. They would just say, “you are so high!” So I sat there, hair on end. I decided one more look then I’d tell someone. I glanced around and his face shot toward me. I was up, across the room with the lights on in one move.

My “friend” stood in the corner with a Devil mask, laughing hysterically. I punched him in the chest as hard as I could, then we were cool.

PLANET Z

Halloween was right around the corner.
Every year, Freddy trick-or-treated as a ghost, and his mother would take away his candy because he’d ruined a sheet.
Once again, he’d waited too long. The stores were out of costumes.
Even those crappy plastic smocks with the lame cardboard masks with elastic bands.
Freddy sighed, grabbed a sheet from the linen closet, and cut out two holes.
But this time, he’d take two candy bags.
One to stash the good stuff in a tree, and one to hand over when he got home.
Sadly, Freddy stashed the wrong bag in the tree.

Weekly Challenge #597 – Cook

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Tinny sprawl

GINGER

Cook

Ned was feeling the pinch one summer and decided that he had to become more self-reliant. He made bannock in his bachelor suite each day with nothing more than flour, water, salt, and sugar. The tasteless cakes were not leavened. They did not bake to a crisp finish. They were both dead and lead heavy – and the truth is, Ned really never had been much of a cook. I’d never seen dead food before. What possible benefit could come from consuming dried poster paste? I witnessed him eat his rations wordlessly on more than one occasion. Not once did it dawn on me that I was being shamed and that he expected me to don an apron. He was a survivalist in the making and I could not make heads or tails of the necessity of dead weight bannock. No berries, no fat, no juicy meat. We were just not “there” yet. Normally, I would enjoy stewing beef, or simmering potluck, or test tasting broth. But not for Ned.

JEFFREY

The Mob Accountant
by Jeffrey Fischer

Brian was hired by the Giaccamo family to keep their books. Two sets of books, actually: one that the IRS got to see, one that only the Don and his closest confidants were privy to. This worked well for years, but Brian got greedy. He started to cook the books yet another way, disguising the skim he was taking from the Giaccamos.

What Brian didn’t know was that Joey Jr., the Don’s youngest, was a CPA, focusing on forensic accounting. When Joey discovered the discrepancies, Brian’s goose was cooked. As was Brian, screaming all the way as they lowered him into the boiling water.

RICHARD

No accounting for taste

Business wasn’t exactly booming – to be honest, it was taking a dive, but I reckoned I could save it, with the right investors on board.

I visited an accountant, who had a somewhat less than squeaky clean reputation.

My instructions were simple: “Cook the books!”

I realise now, I should have taken a little more care…

When I turned up to see the results, he served my accounts pan fried and with a delicious red wine sauce.

Top tip – always check you’re dealing with the accountant; not some random chef who happens to work in the same building!

CHARLIE

I learned to cook at the Culinary Academy of America in upstate New York. Today, I cook for an Italian restaurant in town. We have a small menu, but large wine list. Most of my regulars are rich, and happy to pay for the over priced food and wine. I sprinkle a little something (Ketamine) in every entrée, and it seems to brighten things up for everyone.

Some do take out after their meal. The house specialty is a Philadelphia classic cheesesteak with Wagyu ribeye cut with foie gras and topped with truffled, homemade, fontina cheese on a sesame roll.

#2

The executive chef was a big, sweaty Greek. Mr. Farentinos was an obnoxious bully. He picked on the weakest members of the kitchen staff and made some of them cry. He would smack the back of their neck with his tattooed forearm if any new staff that did not jump and answer with a “Yes, Chef !” when he barked a command.
One of the salad chefs, a fellow from Turkey, was a quiet man, but underneath his smile, he seethed.

The chef was absent one Saturday, and the braised meat appeared to have markings similar to the chef’s tattoos.

LIZZIE

“Fresh,” said the farmer, his voice reaching an annoying pitch. “Check the pumpkins, miss. Fresh. Not that plastic-tasting garbage.”
The lady nodded and moved on. Everyone walked away quickly.
Only he knew how difficult it was to grow these darn things. The seeds became purple if he stored them for too long, the water made them blue, and painting each one with a natural food-coloring substance was hard work. Plus, after cooked, his pumpkins made people immortal, surely a bonus.
“Umm… Perhaps I should work on my marketing strategies,” he said, adjusting his voice to the perfect octave.

SERENDIPITY

They say the more you cook something, the less nutritious it becomes; vitamins and goodness leach out, along with the most of the flavour.

I advise eating all your food raw – you can’t beat the healthy crunch of fresh vegetables, or the taste of a handful of fruit, plucked straight from the tree, full of goodness and exactly as nature intended.

No, there’s nothing better than fruit and vegetables, raw, unprocessed and without additives and chemicals.

At least, that’s what they tell me.

Personally, I hate them – I’m a carnivore, and I love my food raw, alive and struggling.

STEVEN

I can almost see steam.

Her face reddens a shade with each of my words. There’s an art to it. You must be patient. Heat it too fast, and it’s burnt. Temperature too low, and it’s underdone. You’ve got to take your time and apply the heat just right.

She’s almost ready; finger wagging, cheeks flaming.

One last dash of spice: “At least your sister’s a better lay-”

She boils over, reaching for the knife I placed nearby, raising it up as I pull the gun from my pocket and shoot her down. It’s self-defense.

My compliments to the chef.

TOM

A Well Kept Secret

Both Bligh and Vancouver pondered the motives of the Captain. Under the pretext of fur trade they put off to 50 degrees north up the Strait. Pressing into Salish territory puzzled Cook’s offices. They had pellets a plenty why cut inward? Further on the second day out the Captain directed the pilot to particular point heavily marked on Cook’s personal nautical chart. A chest was brought up from the hold, a line secured, and it was lower in the water with a care, that under scored the importance of the mission. He handed the chart to Vancouver, “keep this safe.”

NORVAL JOE

Axelrod tore open the self seals of the pockets at thigh level on his jumpsuit. He slapped them closed again. If anyone shared the remote passageway with him, they might recognize his nervous behavior.
Asstrah said the delivery should happen before three-seventy-five and here it was 4:10, already. An agent was supposed to bring him a vial of die-ethyl-florocarbonate, one of the components used to cook up a batch of the popular stimulant called, ‘dust’.
To Axel’s surprise, a man entered the passage from the connective link wearing a uniform jumpsuit, identifying him as a Galactic Battle Base, security officer.

DUANE

Cook

“Tarnation, Cookie. This is about the best stew I have ever tasted on any drive. It’s like that ambrosia the old gods were a eatin’, or some of that manna they talk about in the good book. I had me a stew in a New York restaurant one time and this stew just plain runs circles aroun’ it. Come on, Cookie, what’s your secret?”

“Well, alright. Ya know how I collect up them buffalo chips all day as make we our way down the trail?”

“Yeah, for stokin’ the cook fire, right?”

“Sure. Right. Who’s ready for seconds? Eat up!”

PLANET Z

After the fire, I needed to replace my birth certificate.
So, I contacted Cook County’s registrar, and they told me to go to their website.
Sure enough, I could order a copy of my birth certificate online.
All I had to do was enter a bunch of information about me.
But what if I ordered somebody else’s birth certificate?
Or someone else order mine?
I mean, how could they prove I was me?
“Oh, that never happens,” said the registrar.
So, I got a copy of the registrar’s birth certificate.
And they’ll be buying a new car… a new house…

Weekly Challenge #596 – PICK TWO: Washing, Hope, Downward, Nix, Lie, Thrive, Joy, Rhapsody

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Breakfast

GINGER

How much does a mass transit pass cost these days? The last time I took a subway train from downtown Montreal to the suburb of LaSalle was December 2002. Back then, a monthly transit pass was about $60.— just pay the man, show your card, and you would have no trouble getting from A to Z with very few delays. The seats were formed plastic, not mahogany, and the fluorescent lighting illuminated human flesh with ghostly transparency. Usually I would drink sweetened hibiscus herbal tea from a Mason jar during commutes. One summer, a fellow passenger sitting opposite to me was noted to be wearing cut offs as well as running shoes. He looked tired, old and slumped – this could be confirmed without candling as his mast appendages were hanging freely. Was that worth the price of admission?

It was not really a math problem. Grades 8, 3 and 2 each had triplets. Grades 1, 2 and 4 had two sets of twins. Double cousins and extended families complicated the roster with similar-looking namesakes. Pretty soon, attendance could not be gauged. One never really knew for sure who was present or who was absent. No one would name trouble makers. Teachers peered hopelessly into a sea of multiples. Large eyes leered imperviously back and lied about who was who and what was what or stonewalled. The school registrar faced administrative issues caused by multiple birth households head on. They nixed free enrolment to cover “administrative costs”… each child is now radio-tagged, weighed-in and marked for study on the first day of school.

RICHARD

#1 -The storm

We boarded up the windows, tied down everything we could, sealed ourselves indoors, and waited.

The storm was coming, washing away everything in its path. We had little hope that we stood any chance – if we were lucky, we might not die!

Those with any sense had evacuated, but we were pioneers, made of sterner stuff – although others thought us stubborn idiots. Maybe they were right.

We braced ourselves for the worst as the first methane clouds appeared, whilst joking about the good old days on earth, whose hurricanes were a breeze compared to Jupiter’s advancing Great Storm.

#2 – Bargain?

He was hard to ignore. His hand on my arm gently guiding me through his store, trying to sell me every piece we passed.

I was drawn to a painted mask – then, he was pressing it into my hands. “Mahogany! I carved it myself. Very hard.”

He had me, and he knew it. I asked him, how much.

He wrote a figure – a crazy price, but the game was on – I made a crazy offer back; and we haggled.

Now hanging on my wall, I’ll never know if I got a bargain.

But it was worth it!

JEFFREY

One As Nuts as the Other
by Jeffrey Fischer

When the Southern History Society heard that up north they were tearing down statues of Confederate figures such as Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis and renaming roads and schools named after them, the Society agreed that, if the Yankees could try to erase southern history, they could try to do the same to the north. Any Confederate figure associated with Mr. Lincoln would go, including anything commemorating Grant or, cursed be his name, Sherman.

Sadly, all they could find were tributes to Cary Grant and the Sherman who served with Mr. Peabody in his Wayback Machine. Still, the Society eradicated every one of the tributes. So there!

CHARLIE

9-24-17PICK TWO: Funk, Double-jointed, Ulcer, Mast, Mahogany, Candlestick, Brush, Sherman

I have been in a funk for months. Dating a double-jointed, ulcer afflicted lady did not keep my main mast of straight-grained, mahogany timber upright. A younger woman would keep my candlestick prominent.
Double jointed women have a collagen abnormality and a heightened flight response.

Luckily, I had a brush with Holly Sherman while driving through town this morning. I spotted her sitting on a bench awaiting the school bus. Underage, but she was the answer to my prayers. I couldn’t get the launch of the frigate off my mind. It was like having a stolen chicken in my pants.

2.

9-24-17PICK TWO: Washing, Hope, Downward, Nix, Lie, Thrive, Joy, Rhapsody.

Washing dishes for the Chinese Restaurant gave me no hope at all. I was on another downward spiral. I was told to nix the idea of opening my own, on-line business. I thought I had enough talent to do freelance writing, but I was telling myself a big lie. There was no way I could thrive, and I would find no joy in creating a rhapsody of extravagant samples in order to place ads for my business.

The only semblance of a writing portfolio I had was my pitiful collection of 100 word stories produced weekly for a web site.

TOM

Bend his thumb clear back onto his wrist

A lot of people don’t know this but Sherman was double-jointed. Not the kid with Mr. Peabody, that general dude who did that March to the sea. From November 15 until December 21, 1864, General William T. Sherman led some 60,000 soldiers on a 285-mile march from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. Union forces called it the Savannah Campaign. On his orders railroad tracks were ripped up, heated up white hot and wristed into bows. Many a plantation had generations old trees wrapped in Sherman’s neckties. After the war Sherman became one of the first trusties of the University of California

JON

Well, first: funk is a strong offensive smell. Second, it is a state of depression. As a verb it means to avoid a thing out of fear. How did that good old Dutch word get associated with cool, rhythmic dance music?

You’d might as well talk about a double-jointed candlestick or describe Sherman’s march as annoying like an ulcer. It is the mahogany mast of semantic meaning that holds up the sail of language and propels our conversation forward.

After music became funky, programmers felt empowered to brush aside all meaning in assigning new meanings to established words.

Danged Arbalistic!

SERENDIPITY

Only a true artist can create an authentic death mask. One skilled with brush and palette, scalpel, and blade.

Capturing the essence of the departed is a rare skill. You do not merely render the appearance, as in a painting; it must evoke their spirit and soul, capturing the persona, not just the person.

My methods are slightly unorthodox…

I start with a living subject, assisting them in their transition to death: It’s key to capturing that final, essential moment.

Then, like any good artist, I try to get under their skin.

What good is a mask, if never worn?

LIZZIE

Candlestick and Brush sat side by side. They looked quite innocent, I must admit. However, the mess in the kitchen was the proof that they had been busy all night. As I stood there, my index finger pointing at them, their big round eyes staring at me, I couldn’t help wondering how they had managed to drag a whole cabbage from inside the fridge onto the counter. When I finished admonishing them, they simply stood up and walked away, as if nothing had happened, their tails swaying in the air. I’m sure they were thinking “the slave will clean it”.

TURA

Double-jointed; Mahogany
———
“I say! Look at this! It’s an 1892 Packeinton with the double-jointed synchronising camshaft! The mahogany and gilt brass fittings are rather a decadent touch, but the arrangement of the compensating tandem brackets on the standing frame would make a Swiss watchmaker jealous.”

“It just looks like a steam engine to me. In a steam engine museum. Where they store steam engines.”

“Have you no romance? This drew carriages that crowned heads of Europe travelled in!”

“I thought you were an anarcholibertarian, or something like that. Now you’re impressed by royalty?”

“Oh, that’s just politics. This is a STEAM ENGINE!”

NORVAL JOE

Though the sound of Astrah’s laugher filled Axel with joy, his hope for success spiralled downward, with the blush of embarrassment washing over his face.
“What makes you think we have sales jobs here?” Astrah asked.
Axel hoped she wouldn’t see through his lie. “A friend told me you might need to move some delicate materials.”
Her golden eyes were a rhapsody when she smiled. Still, she shook her head, “We’re recycling contractors. I hate to nix your enthusiasm. While dealers in contraband may thrive in some places on the Galactic Battle Base, this facility is not one of them.”

LAIEANNA

My words flashed upon walls I walked passed, compelling me to stop,
read, and remember before moving on.

“You are my love,” I had said to my wife three hours before banging another.

“Your money’s in good hands,” I had said pointing at doctored reports
while pocketing their money for my personal gain.

“I won’t hurt you,” I had said as I tightened the cord around her neck
and watched the light leave her eyes.

There were many more. Until I was descending, there were never any
consequences. Now I wondered just how far down in hell I would go.

DUANE

Spring Rain

Looking out the window I saw her hanging clothes on the line. The wind blew her hair and it swirled over her face. She began to smile. Suddenly a cool rain started to fall. The laundry was getting wet and still she smiled. She began to dance. The pouring rain soaked her hair and her clothes and she still she danced. She began to laugh. Dancing and laughing in the spring rain.

When winter has passed and everything awakens with new life, I think of her. Her dancing and laughing around the clothesline. I see her in the spring rain.

PLANET Z

“hope is a lie”
written in blood
over the bed
we followed the trail
of blood
to the bathroom door
turning the knob
opening the door
she was in the tub
the mayor’s daughter
dead
arm draped over the side
what a mess
my partner took out a knife
and stabbed her in the heart
wiping down the handle
“we can’t let it look like suicide”
he called a cleanup crew
offered a hundred bucks
they wanted two hundred
deal
they’d get rid of the words on the wall
total discretion
we’ll get our stories straight
and call it in

Weekly Challenge #595 – ALIEN

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Sleepy Tin

JEFFREY

Illegal Alien
by Jeffrey Fischer

My mother always said I was an alien, born in some distant solar system and adopted as an infant. She begged me not to get hurt, as Earth medicine couldn’t help me. Each of my transgressions would merit a heavy sigh and a “I should never have rescued you from that orphanage.” Low grades, fighting at school, sassing back to her – I got the alien speech. Gives a kid a complex, I tell you.

Of course, I’m no alien. I got cut badly when I was 12 and I bled as red as you. My sister, on the other hand… Yep. Total extraterrestrial.

GINGER

If I was from another country and took it upon myself to help the United States with their frazzled communications – orchestrated liaisons with heads of state, press conferences, officially formulated communiques and speeches – I would be considered an economic alien and would have to file taxes accordingly – except that no one from that office ever would offer to pay an avatar and it conceivably pleasures me to be a slave. From my vestibule, I could insert promotional tweets for family-friendly brands such as Johnson & Johnson* and Colgate* so that people would remember personal hygiene is very important over the next 3 and ½ years of their subjugation and depression. I could remind coffee drinkers not to believe everything they see on television – since the world has been taken over by the feted wiles of red-eyed businessmen hoping to formulate strategy for the next 40 years or so – and there is no level playing field. I would remind young mothers that their health matters. I would mount topics of such ground-breaking import that the populace might rise to ask questions openly…and ponder their true aim, be it scientific achievement, the laying of pavement, or the coordination of humanitarian efforts. Much as Trump would like to mount Olympus. It’s not illegal to be an alien, just frowned upon.

RICHARD

#1 – Apollo 11

Nobody realises our first – and last – encounter with alien life happened during the first moon landing: The historic moment humankind committed genocide on a scale never before, or since, witnessed by the universe.

We’re all completely ignorant that with a single action, we wiped out the entire population of the only other intelligent life in the universe. Billions, destroyed in an instant.

Had Neil Armstrong’s one small step been a little to the right or left, it would be a different story, instead, he stood squarely on the alien city, eradicating all life within it.

Nice one, Neil!

#2 – Not as we know it

We all have our ideas about what alien life might be like, but if movies are to be believed, they’ll either be colourful variations of the human form speaking American English, or evil, slimy creatures, hell bent on our destruction.

Most scientists take a more sober view, preferring the bacterial or amoeba-like form of alien – practical, but boring.

Personally, I’ve always imagined first contact would find aliens in plant form – silent, immovable, harmless, but lovely planted in the garden.

Either that, or vegetables – maybe an exotic potato that humans could bake and stuff with macaroni cheese!

Delicious.

#3 – Alien

I had a pet alien. Found it wandering around Roswell back in ’47. It told me it was seeking world domination – like that was going to happen!

Years later, I realised there was money to be made and, through the Dark Web, I sold it for a handsome sum to the Russians. They passed it on to China, then I lost track of my old roommate.

Recently though, he’s resurfaced and I’m starting to think that it was a bad idea to let him go.

How was I to know the damn thing would end up running North Korea?

LIZZIE

They didn’t like us. The strings hurt on the wrists. The redness would never go away. They played us like puppets. They manipulated us with a smile. Then, they forced us. “You’ll see it,” they said. We didn’t know what they meant. Then we saw it, the grand scheme of things, and we were just a tiny fleck of nothingness. They took the children. The candles burned till the end, but they didn’t know. We had our own strings. The day we pulled them, they fell. And we took off to get our children back. Arrogance can make empires fall.

CHARLIE

The two missionaries that contacted me several weeks ago invited me for a tour of the church this coming Saturday. I had to refuse, as I have not changed my mind about joining the Church of The Gooey Death and Discount House of Worship.

The missionaries, both of alien origin, are beautiful and they tantalize me with their soft talk and dimpled cheeks. They have invested a lot of their time with me, but I refused the special baptism and services because I fear that I might be taken away with them in their little, red, Japanese made land ship.

TOM

Warm San Franciscan Nights.

The landscape was totally alien to Rudy. He was a Midwest boy who had little experience with elevations greater that a three foot rise. Closed his eye when his wife Irma, a full-blooded San Franciscan, took to the hills above the bay. “Why on earth would anyone build a house on a 45 degree angle?” he’d rattled. Irma would just double glitch the jeep, and spin the four wheeler onto a side street, completely filling the windscreen with sky, to which Rudy loudly cursed himself for taking a momentary peek. Then came the plummet straight at the bay. Not Good.

JON

Fix the Damned Fountain

By

Jon DeCles

There is something alien about drinking out of plastic bottles. Water is part of our original world. Plastic is not. Its artificial, the antithesis of natural and wholesome. Bad and alien things leach out into water confined to plastic, and every indication is that they are bad for us.

People used to bestow fountains in public places, where you could drink water for free: for thousands and thousands of years we drank from fountains. Then, slowly, the aliens persuaded us it was unhealthy and that we should drink from plastic.

I think that most of the aliens come from Switzerland.

SERENDIPITY

I tried putting the alien thought out of my mind, but it kept intrusively pushing its way back, interrupting my enjoyment of the moment.

Pausing to let the screaming subside, I pondered the thought… What if you let them go? It suggested; untie them, put away the knives, and just walk away.

Think of the possibilities: You could have a new life, without pain and bloodlust, murder and mayhem… A life filled with compassion and kindness, laughter and joy, rainbows and unicorns!

Well?

I shut the thought down and picked up my knife.

Why stop now when I’m having fun?

TURA

Alien
———
They walk among us, taking our places. You know what they do with the bodies? Liquidize them and flush them down the drains. Did you hear about that fatberg in the London sewers? Twenty double-decker buses’ weight of fat, blocking an eight-foot tunnel. That’s what decided me to take action.

They’re convincing, but I spotted you, didn’t I? You’re not conscious, you’re just a meat puppet. No-one at home. The saws? The scalpels? I want to see what you’re made of, don’t I? But I’m just talking to myself, there’s no-one here but me. Let’s start by opening your chest…

LAIEANNA

Less than a foot tall, those little bastards with their indestructible
shells made our lives a living hell in just six weeks. First it was
two, pioneers of their race, landing on Earth with good will.
Something new and exciting got our attention and we welcomed them with
open arms, but they failed to mention their birthing rate and massive
sex drive. Two multiplied to ten in three days and from there it went
on. Now we have little ankle biters everywhere. You can’t take three
steps without kicking one out of the way. Is this really our life now?

NORVAL JOE

Axel entered Recycling Center RC166-15125 in an out of the way sector of level 48.
Astrah sat at a desk amid stacks of crates and cartons and the odor fresh shrink wrap. Her bright yellow hair and golden irises identified her origins from the Coacheenohdorah system.
Axel had never seen a true alien on the Galactic Battle Base, only human mutations developed since earth’s diaspora 800 years before, as this woman seemed to be.
“May I help you?” she asked in a melodic whisper.
“I’m looking for a job. In sales,” Axel said.
Her golden eyes flashed as she laughed.

DUANE

Alien

You sit across from me on the train every day, but you don’t know anything about me. You just think I’m weird. For your information, I’m from another galaxy. When I was young my mom said I was special. Later I figured it out on my own. I’m not from around here.

I never understood your silly social interactions. I started thinking I was crazy. Then I remembered what my mother said. It all began to make sense.

So the next time you look at someone and think they are weird, remember, they are probably from another galaxy. Like me.

PLANET Z

Bzerp said that his name was unpronounceable by human tongues.
Which was total bullshit. I mean, I just pronounced it, right?
He said that because Bzerp was once common in his culture, but had become an unpleasant slang word.
Kind of like how the names Dick and Gaylord have other meanings.
So, Bzerp lied, and he’d just scribble something squiggly on paper.
“It looks different because I’m drawing in four dimensions,” he claimed.
“BZERP!” shouted the newly-arrived delegation. “So this is where you’ve been hiding?”
Bzerp booked a flight to another planet.
Any planet, away from his people.
And himself.

Weekly Challenge #594 – GAS

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.com.

This is the Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

We’ve got stories by:

Tinny and flowers

JEFFREY

Now Yer Cookin’
by Jeffrey Fischer

Mary recognized the smell as soon as she opened the door. She worked as an EMT and was trained to detect even small odors of gas. Her training told her to leave the house immediately, find a safe place, and call 911. She debated doing that but, against her better judgment, she stayed put.

“Har-OLD!” she bellowed, opening as many windows as she could. “Don’t you notice that overpowering smell? I told you to do something about it the last time this happened!”

Her husband appeared in the doorway. “Sorry, dear. I filled up the tank today, and you know I can’t resist those 7-11 burritos.”

RICHARD

Gas

It was about time I did my bit for the environment, using alternative energy.

I tried solar power – but it’s never sunny in Britain; I’m too far from the sea for wave power, and I couldn’t get planning permission for a wind turbine. So, I bought some cows and all my energy needs are now supplied from bovine methane.

It has drawbacks – like angry neighbours complaining about the smell, but it’s definitely the right approach.

Even the cows approve – many times whilst inserting gas collection pipes, (unpleasant, but necessary!) – I’ve received a pat on the back!

CHARLIE

Conrad had a tough childhood. His parents were sorry he was born. He grew sorry as well.

He was a goofy kid, with no merit at all. He matured and soon became a lazy, loud bully in his pre-teen years. His parents made a decision, and took Conrad with them when they visited relatives in Oklahoma.

They left Conrad staked to the grassy knoll behind the Conoco station in Ponca City, just a bit off Highway 60.

He was discovered by a couple stopping to picnic nearby. It was too late. Coyotes had gnawed off his legs and his ears.

#2

A visible plume of gas rose from the couch cushions. The toxic soup that covered the inside of the living room had subsided a bit, and now we dealt with the destruction and poisons left behind by the floodwaters.

A fish wiggled in the corner until the cat’s eyes were drawn to it. A fresh, but tainted meal for a hungry pet.

We shared cans of pork and beans, crackers, and cans of lukewarm soda. Uncle Larry drank what was left of the whiskey in the cabinet, until he sank into a stupor.

A bullfrog jumped out of the bookcase.

TOM

Classical Gas
40 years ago at the end of the Summer of Love a curious film was show on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. It was called 3000 Years of Art by Dan McLaughlin. 100s of the world’s greatest works of art flash by at ten of a second. The driving music behind that river of art was Classical Gas by Mason Williams. By today’s standards a quant footnote of the counter culture. But at the time it was pretty impressive, so much so it ended by aspirations at an accountant and set me on the path to a career in art.

JON

They Are Really Quite Safe

By

Jon DeCles

The last time I was there they made quite a deal about how the most important documents of American History were preserved in Argon. That is, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights, which you can see right in front of you, are in chambers filled with Argon. Moreover, they showed us a model of how, in a flash, those chambers, with their documents, could be lowered into a huge lead vault, sufficient, they believed, to survive a direct nuclear attack. Some people call the building The Tomb of Liberty.

Argon is a very Noble Gas.

LIZZIE

The painting on the wall flickered, alive with the dancing flames of the gas fireplace. The man sat on a chair. His attention was on the geometric face. He had never intended it to come out like that but he thought it was beautiful. He cleaned his hands with a colorful cloth. She hated that. She hated the smell too. She hated when he sat in the living-room in his “rags”, as she called his painting overalls. When she saw the painting, she wanted to burn it. His nails had red underneath, and the painting was still on the wall.

SERENDIPITY

Most people are completely uninformed about us cannibals. We’re more refined than you might think.

We’ve good jobs, lovely homes, and hold responsible roles in society. Although we may enjoy the odd meal of human flesh, it’s not some sort of zombie ready meal; it’s far more likely to be a slow roasted escalope of thigh, with a balsamic reduction, accompanied by a good pinot noir.

You certainly won’t find us daubed in paint, dancing half naked around a couple of missionaries in a massive cauldron, bubbling over a log fire.

Of course not…

These days, we’re cooking on gas!

NORVAL JOE

Axel didn’t need to read the platform numbers as he descended the stairs to know he neared the lowest levels of the Galactic Battle Base. Level fifty was the water storage level, and forty-nine was sewerage treatment. The smell of methane gas told him forty-nine was only a few levels away.
Exiting the stairs at level forty-eight he stepped into the passage link deciding which way to turn. Recycling centers dotted the length and circumference of the forty-eighth level. He had to find the center where Astrah, worked. The center where they recycled items other than, old jumpsuits and uneaten food.

DUANE

Gas

As the dentist left the room I moved the mask from my nose to mouth and took a couple deep breaths. The hose fell off the mask. My arms seemed twenty feet away as I fixed it and put it back on my nose. The little outlet valve popped into my lap. Feeling around with tingling fingers I got it on just as the dentist returned.

“Ready?”, he asked as he turned up the gas.

Nothing happened. He turned it up some more. Nothing. He reached over and flicked the mask with his finger. I saw God. Best dentist ever!

TURA

Gas
———
We set off on a trip, and before we reach the end of the street, she goes, “Wait! I left the gas on!!”

Yes, you always do, or leave a window open, or something. That’s why I check everything myself after you’re in the car. But all the way it’s, “I left the back door open! I shut the neighbours’ cat inside!”

One year, she kept this up every day of the holiday.

“Hey, it’s so quiet!” said the kids on the way back. “And so much space! Did we leave something behind?”

“Not accidentally,” I say, and drive on.

PLANET Z

All of the refineries shut down when the hurricane passed through.
It’s taking a while for the engineers to get them back up and running.
Gas prices went up. The numbers on the signs ticked up daily.
That is, if they had any gas to sell.
Some places just have Premium, and others just have Regular.
A lot of them don’t have any gas at all.
All the stations along the highway are dry.
But they keep their signs lit, luring people in.
I guess they’re hoping to sell lottery tickets, or milk at five dollars a gallon or something.