Weekly Challenge #571 – TUMBLE

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:

Sprawly Tin

CHARLIE

I forced my little sister into the tumble dryer after I caught her searching my laptop history and bookmarks. I secured the door with sheet metal screws and clicked on the switch.

Thirty minutes with the heat turned off should teach her not to fool with my favorite game machine.

Forty rotations a minute for thirty minutes is twelve hundred rotations. Twelve hundred bumps against the steel ribs inside the dryer would probably be enough to knock some sense into her and hammer a few concussive reminders into her skull.

My sister is forty years old and a crack addict.

JEFFREY

Mixed Load
by Jeffrey Fischer

I stared at the controls. My choices were “tumble dry,” “casuals,” and “cottons.” I stared at the load of wet laundry. Jeans, so that’s cottons, right? But the next handful of clothes were polyester shirts and women’s underwear. No cotton there, so maybe casuals? Can underwear be casual? Okay, surely tumble dry means something. I had the vision of one piece of clothing tumbling over another as the thing inside the machine rotates. Wait – isn’t that thing called a tumbler? So all the settings are really tumble dry, aren’t they?

I gave up. “Honey, it’s a nice day outside. Why don’t you hang the clothes on the line outside to dry?”

RICHARD

Happy New Year

New Year’s Day: I woke up, on my sister’s couch, with a raging headache and covered in blood – my own blood.

I had no idea what led to my unfortunate condition, other than it was almost certainly due to the now empty Wild Turkey bottle that lay on the floor next to me.

Eventually the story came out – I’d taken a tumble on the concrete driveway, whilst nipping outside for some fresh air.

Just to rub it in, my brother in law had drawn a chalk outline around my prone body, before dragging me back inside to recover.

TOM

She Never Gave Up, A Mere Mortal Would Have.

Her name was Sally. None of that foofoo, hippy stuff, like River or Willow. A sensible name for a sensible woman. So it was that when her cat Max wove between her legs sending her tumbling to the floor though it had jarred the tiny dot of Sunshine LSD from her hand she had the presence of mind to track its parabolic position relative to the rapidly approaching rug. Save the face, or follow the drug? Sadly the equally orange sag carpet swallowed the orange dot. “NO YOU DON’T” she screamed. Six hours later it was hers again. Sensible Woman.

JON

Vacation

By Jon DeCles

When she had asked him to join her he had been suspicious. Her invitations usually involved jibes at his record in the Senate: often about his staunch anti-environmentalist stance. His constituents back in the dome liked the quality of their air consistent! Her mercantile empire sold products that were so-called ‘Natural,’ which made money from their novelty and nothing more: mere gravy on top of the water sales.

Being outdoors gave him a headache, so took aspirin. His martini tasted wrong with the artificial juniper. Waiting for her, he stared out at the eggshell color of the dry polar clay.

—-

The Long Tumble Down
By
Jon DeCles

“I think it started the long tumble down when they invented emojis. –No, it was long before that. They were already using hieroglyphs to represent words on computers and stereo units and, oh, all kinds of things. But once the tumble had started it could not be stopped, any more than you can stop an avalanche with a whisper. And they were not consistent! They made up symbols as readily as they misappropriated words, so meanings got tumbled together and things stopped meaning things. People began to get even worse at communication, less able to convey even the simplest things…”

SERENDIPITY

They taught me to tumble as a child. One of my earliest memories is learning to forward roll, soon followed by somersaults and backflips.

Now I’m a coach for the Russian Olympic Squad, but times have changed. Competition has become ruthless and there’s no room for half measures.

When I was young, we’d force children into unnatural and painful positions, crippling their bodies to achieve gymnastic perfection, but there’s no time for that these days.
Instead, we take babies and surgically remove their connective tissue, replace bone with pliable plastic, and fix joints with titanium bolts.

All, with parental consent.

LIZZIE

Time tumbled the walls of the old theater. Abandoned for years, it became refuge for all sorts of animals, including good old Ronald. Ronald found a secret room underneath the stage and decided to hide there. This time he didn’t run too far. The only problem was the kid. He always kept half the money Ronald gave him to get food, and he was a dangerous blabber. When the kid’s mom showed up and dragged Ronald by the ear to the local police station, the kid waved the little flag Ronald had placed on the wall of his secret room.

LAIEANNA

Poor Sumbal Trumble took a tumble while she fumbled with her jumbal
and stumbled over the dumbbell in the jumbled mess that was her room.
The cake crumbled all over the umbel scrumble she had just crocheted
and her lumbal was in pain as she bumbled around to get upright again.
Oh did her stomach rumble at the loss of her dessert, but Sumbal
mumbled for it to behave. Still she grumbled about the tumble but
being humble, Sumbal knew she had to just do it all over again. It was
only her fifth trip that day. What a drumble.

NORVAL JOE

Juliet stumbled sideways, clutching her shoulder, and fell backwards out of site. Benny hoped she wouldn’t tumble down the stairwell.
But that wasn’t his biggest concern. Someone behind him had just shot his former partner. Was that intentional, or had they bumbled his assassination and hit Juliet instead? Wasting no more time, Benny tumbled to the floor and rolled sideways into a cubicle listening for sounds of his pursuer.
All was silent for several minutes and Benny thought his attacker must have left.
As he climbed to his feet, a man stepped into the doorway of the cubicle and smiled.

MUNSI

All Things Move Toward Their End
By Christopher Munroe

There will come a day when everything we’ve created tumbles to the ground, when the things we’d used to define ourselves are torn from us, leaving us naked and exposed before an uncaring, impassive universe…

It’s an unsustainable lifestyle, after all, built upon untenable foundations, and we knew when we began that none of it was meant to last.

And no talk of “Busses” and “Parties” changes that.

Yes, it will all collapse, and we’ll lose everything we value, some day, and some day soon.

But not today.

So: Back on the bus, we have a party to get to…

TURA

Tumble
———
The sun would soon rise, and in the glim of the pre-dawn a group of about a dozen people were walking down a rocky path. Among them was a woman with a two-year-old toddling along the path beside her. As toddlers do, she toddled, and wobbled, and fell down, going all her length on the ground, then burst into tears. Her mother bent down and swept her up into her arms, bouncing her on her shoulder to calm her, and walked on.

Just an everyday incident, in a tribe of Homo erectus, a million years ago in the Olduvai gorge.

PLANET Z

Jojo and Klaus were two German tumblers who toured the Old West with their strongman act.
Slim and muscular, the men went from town to town, challenging the strongest man in town to a fight.
Klaus would brain the challenger with an iron bar, while Jojo would finish off the sucker with a dagger to the heart.
Usually, the strongest man in town was a drug or a thug, and wouldn’t be missed.
So, the Germans wouldn’t be charged with a crime. Or, in some cases, they’d collect a reward.
Eventually, the two retired to a tree ranch in Oregon.

Weekly Challenge #570 – PICK TWO

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:

Stripey

CHARLIE

Hazing was tougher than ever this year. To join, the test was to ingest five Aspirin, chased with a full gravy boat, and run all the way to the Mercantile without tossing your cookies.

Once there, the inductee would drop ‘tro and sit on a block of ice, bare-assed, like a Polar bear, while juggling soft, clay balls and hard boiled eggs being careful to avoid cracking any of the egg shells.

After this. the pledge would have to chug a half pint of gin, flavored with juniper berries and orange clementine.

The hazing for the fraternities would be the same.

JEFFREY

Lost Afternoon
by Jeffrey Fischer

“Come join me in the bedroom,” my wife said. In some households, that could be an invitation to something good. I knew it was a demand to waste my afternoon and beyond.

“Okay, I’m here. What’s up?”

She pointed to the wall above the dresser. The wall contained five swathes of paint. I groaned inwardly. “I picked these up from the paint store. We have Polar White, Eggshell, Juniper, and Clay.” I looked. White, pretty much white, green, and gray.”

“Um, wonderful. You said five swathes, but mentioned only four. What’s that brownish stain to the right?”

She stared. “Oh, that’s just gravy from a snack I had last night.”

“Too bad. That was my first choice.”

RICHARD

#1 – Gin

I’d always fancied making my own tipple, and having juniper bushes at the bottom of the garden, gin seemed to be the logical choice.

I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, but a quick Google search armed me with all the necessary information. The only extra I’d need was a good quantity of cheap vodka.

I have friend – Ivan – who has connections down at the docks… He saw me right!

Although I’m not so sure after tasting – I’m seriously thinking of adding aspirin to the mix to combat the headache… As a pre-emptive measure!

#2 – TED

It’s not every day you get to join a Polar expedition.

That’s the trouble with TED Talks – you get all inspired by somebody else’s pursuit of freedom and success, and before you know it, you’ve quit your job, sold the house, and signed up for a six month trek across the frozen Arctic wastes.

And it all seemed such a good idea at the time.

Trust me, it’s not.

When you’ve lost your toes to frostbite, and are down to your last husky for protein, the only success you can focus on is surviving another day.

Don’t do it!

MUNSI

On Mornings After
By Christopher Munroe

One risk of the party bus lifestyle that nobody talks about is hangovers.

Good gravy, the hangovers.

Asprin won’t save you, and while keeping hydrated might mitigate things somewhat, you’ll still spend much of your mornings an utter human disaster, most days.

Which is fine. Nothing happens in the morning on a party bus, so you won’t miss anything.

Sleep til noon, many do, while the bus whisks you to the next town, for the next party.

Wake when you do, on your own time. There’s no pressure.

We’re all night owls here.

That’s why we joined a party bus…

SERENDIPITY

You have to pick your target area carefully – a baseball bat may be painful, but you must incapacitate your victim.

Leg bones are stronger than you might think; and although a good swing may break an arm, there’s no guarantee it’ll do serious damage. Broken collar bones and ribs are a better bet, but if you really want results, go for the skull.

To a baseball bat, the skull is eggshell thin – one good, hard whack, and it’s all over.

Trust me, to receive one of those will result in a headache no amount of aspirin will shift.

TOM

Just a Bunch of Words
Eggshell Juniper ran pell-mell down the long red corridor two picks in hand. The Polar Gravy was attacking joining with the Aspirin Feet of Clay. Both armed to the teeth with morning star and pole axe respectively. The Fight, a weekly challenge was always topical. This was billed as the next big thing, but always feel short, just like the picks and axes. “Mercantilism is the way.” The Eggshell yelled. “Works of the world unite you have nothing to lose but your chains.” The Gravy screamed. The groundlings pressed to post their last bets. The venters hawked their dubious wares.

LIZZIE

On Eggshells

New job, new goals, more money. That was great, right? Wrong.
Arthur’s supervisor, a wannabe vampire of sorts, decided to bite all the men in the company.
Arthur wasn’t fond of bites, especially of co-workers, even if they were female. So, he maneuvered cautiously through the intricate maze of corridors.
The day the supervisor caught him by the wrist, he smashed her face in with the lunch tray.
He told the police he feared for his life. They believe him.
And Arthur joined another company. This time, the goal was to find a quiet work environment… with no biting.

LAIEANNA

The three little pigs, everyone knows.
But what about the outcasts,
Two brothers, sadly disowned

One was dumb and a little cray.
He tried following in their footsteps,
But not with sticks, bricks, or even hay.

A house he built of eggshells, no wolf was required.
Just one attempt at entrance
Made his whole house crash and expire

The second pig, oh so into clay.
This wasn’t about building,
Just more shiek than mud to roll and lay.

Joke’s on us, you’d laugh if you could.
That pig now lives high on the hog,
As a pampered pet in Hollywood.

NORVAL JOE

Juliet smiled down the barrel of her pistol at Benny. Her teeth glistened, polar white between her blood red lips. Benny’s legs felt as if they had turned to gravy and his feet were mired in clay. He was painfully aware of his own handgun in the holster behind his back.
She read his mind.
“Reach for it and I’ll blow your head open like an eggshell.”
“Isn’t that why you’re here?” Benny asked.
She looked sincerely surprised. “Not if you join me.”
“Me join you?” he asked, as a bullet whistled past his ear, striking Juliet in the shoulder.

TURA

Clay; eggshells
———
Our Miracle Mineral Detox contains three magic ingredients. Two of them are clay and eggshells. Not just any clay, or
any eggshells, of course. Naturally formed diatomaceous kaolin with six nines purity, and sustainably harvested shells from hatched puffin chicks. There’s an authentic mediaeval recipe. “Take good black clay, two handfuls, and the shell of an egg that hath hatched in Its season, and by the rising light of dawn pound them together a sufficient time so they be well mixed” and so on. We leave out the claims that it will actually cure anything.

And the third ingredient? Gullibility.

PLANET Z

After the heart attack, Bob starting taking a daily dose of aspirin.
However, he never quite got used to the pill’s bitter taste.
He tried coated aspirin, but they tasted bad in a different way.
Syrups, candies… you name it, he tried it.
So, he started taking his aspirin with a cup of gravy.
And that tasted wonderful. Because, let’s face it… everything is better with gravy.
Of course, this ended up clogging Bob’s arteries even more, and eventually Bob had a second, fatal heart attack.
But the mortician had a hard time prying the smile off of Bob’s face.

Weekly Challenge #569 – Dry

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

MUNSI

Our Darkest Hour
By Christopher Munroe

And then, in the middle of the desert, miles from refuge or civilization, the party bus went dry.

Oh, we didn’t run out of fuel, we’re better organized than that, we had plenty to get to the next town.

Similarly, plenty of water, we knew we’d be in the desert and had provisioned ourselves accordingly.

No, I’m referring to the on-bus bar. In the middle of the desert, we ran out of liquor.

And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth, because this was the greatest tragedy a party bus could face.

I mean, it was noon, but still…

CHARLIE

He was an expert at promotions and artistic events, and his next exercise would be at one of his favorite coffee houses. He asked the owner permission, and was given the go-ahead to throw a dry humor party.

The dry humor wit describes the act of displaying a lack of, or no emotion. Delivery is meant to be blunt and sarcastic.

The exercise would be by invitation only, and those that wished to participate would join with the regular patrons, not indicating their participation.

They would speak a little louder than usual so everyone attending would be able to hear.

JEFFREY

The Perfect Martini
by Jeffrey Fischer

The waiter asked how I would like my martini. This is always a good sign: when they just write down “martini” on the order pad, what comes back is usuallty cheap gin drowned in cheaper vermouth.

“A measure of your best London Dry gin, a hint of Martini & Rossi dry vermouth, and three plump Spanish queen olives – no weird stuffings, either. Shaken well, please.”

“Yes, sir.” He scribbled.

I waited for the masterpiece. When the waiter returned, he shook the shaker vigorously and poured the concoction into the glass. It came out pink. I stared with horror. “Wha…what is this?”

The waiter said, “I did just what you said. I know that slow cooking is in vogue, so I figured the best gin we had was sloe gin.”

RICHARD

I Like…

I like my Martinis dry, my women hot and my cars clean.

It just wouldn’t work any other way – a hot Martini would just be disgusting; the best women are always dirty; and a hot car – whether in terms of temperature or being stolen – is just not cool to drive.

Dirty Martinis are pretentious; and dry women… Well, let’s not go there!

Some things just work – and if you ask me, there’s a natural order of things that you shouldn’t interfere with.

Sadly, I what I like and what I get, are two entirely different things!

JON

When I Say Dry

By

Jon DeCles

“This martini is wet,” said the man at the bar.

“Too much Vermouth?” asked the bartender. “I’ll make you another.”

Two sips and the customer shook his head.

“Wet!”

The bartender took down a clean shaker and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire, so beloved of his favorite Dr. Who character. He added ice and the gin. He rinsed a clean martini glass with vermouth, threw the vermouth away, shook the gin and ice, and poured.

The customer sipped, then said: “A dry martini is made by carrying the vermouth once a week past the closet where you keep the gin.”

TOM

Pay Back’s A Bitch
During Prohibition ever state was dry. After it was repealed some cities remained dry. But in the odd little town of Dinkton they actually had streets that chose to be dry. Realtors there tended to gloss over this salient fact to prospective buyers. Much to Dan, surprise, who found out about said hype-locale ordinance in the middle of a family reunion barbecue. The cops locked up the entire Bender family. Luckily Grandma was in the water closet at the time, and was able to bail them all out. No one ever found out who exactly burn down the Reality Office

SERENDIPITY

It’s all nice and dry at the moment; cosy, if a little uncomfortable, but kids will be kids. You have to let them have their fun, even if being buried up to your neck in sand isn’t quite as much fun for you as it is for them.

Wonder whose kids they were anyway? And where the heck have they disappeared to?

That sun is burning – you’d kill for a cooling wet towel on your face right now.

Not to worry though: The tide is coming in fast. Soon things are going to get very wet… Very wet indeed.

LIZZIE

No land in sight, no end in sight, no peace.
The ship sailed through the rough storm, and most disappeared quickly. The dread and the roar fought furiously as wind and rain slapped against the sides of this frail vessel, a growing fever of force subduing even the strongest will.
And the thunderous darkness fed on the fears inside, witness to an ominous dance of threats and horror.
And all she wanted was a warm, dry place where she could be in peace, an inner peace of rainless boredom, that carefree nothingness that without warning lets the warm sun through.

TURA

Dry
———
After painting the stroke, sit and examine it closely.

In the first few minutes, the surface “sets” into a liquid crystal. But the real drying process begins from the wall and proceeds outwards. As it approaches the surface, the appearance makes its second change, as the subsurface scattering is reduced in solid paint. Finally comes the moment that watchers live for, when the topmost layer, a few molecules deep, transitions into amorphous glass, giving the glossy reflection a rich, fractal complexity.

If you share our enthusiasm for Watching Paint Dry, help us lobby for it to become an Olympic sport!

NORVAL JOE

Clearing his dry throat sounded like a gunshot in the empty office. Benny wished he could unmake the sound which may have alerted his assassin to his location. He dried the sweat beading on his forehead with the back of his sleeve.
“Romeo. Oh, Romeo,” a dry, female, voice rasped over the intercom. “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
He knew that voice–his former partner, Juliet. She must have been assigned his elimination.
He also knew the only place to access the intercom system was three floors up.
Benny ran for the stairwell and burst through the door.
Juliet stood there, smiling.

LAIEANNA

The Story:

I have this dry flap at the back of my throat. Right there, do you
see? It’s been there since I got sick. I’ve tried all kinds of
tricks to fix it, but I can’t get moisture where it needs to be. When
I use a flashlight to get a good look, I swear I see the flap moving.
See? Just like that. Wait…is that a little man opening it?

“Hey turn that damn light off and stop slobbering on my house! This
damn neighborhood is going to hell.”

Oh my god, I think I need a doctor or exterminator.

PLANET Z

Is there a unit of dryness like there is for distance, time, and temperature?
What would it measure? Parts of moisture per million?
What would the unit of dryness be called?
Is there a scientist famous for experiments and research into dryness?
It would probably be named after them.
And you’d see it on clothes dryers and hair dryers and martini mixes.
And bath towels.
Oh, and humor. Dry humor.
Maybe the unit of measurement could be named after them?
Wrights, for Steven Wright.
The driest comedian in history.
Well, driest humor.
I bet he sweats like a goddamned pig.

Weekly Challenge #568 – Flap

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:

Stripey

The Tinny

JEFFREY

One Saturday Morning at the Waffle House
by Jeffrey Fischer

The waitress came over to the new customer, who had seated himself at the counter. “Coffee?” she asked, motioning to the carafe in her hand. He nodded. She retrieved her order pad. “What can I get for you?”

“Just a stack of flapjacks.”

“Right, one order of pancakes coming up.”

“No, not pancakes, *flapjacks*.”

“It’s the same thing, sir. We call them pancakes here… just look at the menu.”

“It’s not the same thing at all.” He sighed. “Fine, then some hotcakes.”

“Those are pancakes, too.”

“Where did the cook learn his trade? Hotcakes and flapjacks are not pancakes. If you insist, though, fine. I’ll take some griddle cakes.”

The waitress wrote “pancakes” on her pad. “Very well, sir. One order of griddle cakes coming right up.”

RICHARD

#1 – Stationery

I miss the old fashioned way: Take stationery, for example. Nobody writes letters any more – I miss notepaper and proper pens. And because nobody writes letters, nobody posts anything anymore.

The simple satisfaction of writing a letter, folding the paper with a crisp, sharp crease before neatly sealing it away in an envelope is a rare pleasure.

Although even that has lost its charm since self-sealing envelopes and self-adhesive stamps.

I miss the taste of the gum on envelopes.

Although, to be honest, I don’t miss the horrifying pain of slicing my tongue on a razor sharp paper flap!

#2 – Unflappable

They called him ‘unflappable’. No matter what the circumstances or how big the challenge, he approached everything with the same cool, calm demeanour. Nothing bothered him, he never grew angry, lost control or showed any hint of being out of control.

Challenges were simply water off a duck’s back.

So we were intrigued to see how well he measured up to this, the greatest challenge he’d yet faced in his life.

Rather badly!

He plummeted towards the ground, landing with a sickening thud and an explosion of fathers.

If there’s one thing a bird must learn… It is to flap!

#3 – Cat flap

The local newspaper says cat flap break-ins are on the increase. Presumably committed by ‘cat burglars’?

I thought I’d give it a try, so after my neighbour left for work, I reached through his cat flap, easily removing his keys from the lock.

Unfortunately, he had nothing worth stealing, so I made do with a cup of tea and a sandwich with some ham I found in his fridge.

I carefully left in the manner I’d arrived, only to find I myself had been burgled!

I don’t have a cat flap – I’d stupidly left my front door wide open!

CHARLIE

He caused a major flap when he spoke to the science club. We always allowed ten minutes for announcements prior to our meeting.

He told them that he dreamed that the use of electronic devices could be used to solve complicated mathematical and logic problems.

It was not by the use of logic, binary math, or the manipulation of any kind of quantities, it was by the observation of the look of the device following the full run or random run of the device. What lights were on, what was activated?

The club members had little or no creative intelligence.

LIZZIE

The tent flap suddenly flew open and any vague hope of privacy vanished in a split second.
“What are you doing?” Mrs. Hamilton’s raspy voice echoed through the valley.
“Nothing.” Romeo tried to conceal the true reason of his embarrassment by pulling the sleeping bag over his lap.
The camp monitor was relentless and drilled him with questions.
When she left, her doubts not totally set aside, Romeo smiled.
“That was a close call.”
The short alien nodded and grinned.
“Good thing we don’t have these small houses back home, we just become invisible.”
“What?! Why didn’t you say so?”

SERENDIPITY

Modern technology had made stalking so much simpler, I thought as I glued back the small flap of skin.

The transponder I’d embedded in her flesh would keep me updated on her GPS coordinates, intercept her phone calls and texts, and it was even capable of recording and transmitting sound.

Once she awoke from the vodka administered narcotic, she’d be none the wiser – just a little confused as to how she’d come to be in this back alley. And I would be long gone… But far closer than she could ever imagine.

Job done, I disappeared into the shadows.

JON

Spider

By

Jon DeCles

The trap door spider is miss-named. Anyone can see that! Lie down on your belly and watch.

Along comes a tasty bug, minding its own business, bothering nobody, looking for¾ whatever tasty bugs look for. Suddenly a section of flat earth flips up, the spider grabs the tasty bug, drags it underground before it can even scream, and the scene is as flat as before.

If you’ve ever been hanged, you know that a Trap door drops out from under you. It does not lift up so you can be grabbed. They ought to call it a Flap door spider.

TOM

Baby its Cold Outside.

The wind was wiping about the tent. Someone had not secured the flap and the artic breeze was having its way with Desmond. He wasn’t about to get out of the nice warm sleeping bag. Better to curse the cold, then freeze one’s ass off. “Barney can you get that?” Barney look at him as if he had asked him to crawl on his chest through broken glass. He tried Fred next, but didn’t even get an acknowledgement. He didn’t even attempt to enlist Bruce. They found them after the spring thaw, well persevered, the flap waving in the wind.

TURA

ða hrefnas (The ravens)
———
The ravens arrive thundering in thick throngs
Their wings furiously flap as they flock
Mobbing the traveller, mocking with malign caws
“Hraak, hraak,” they cry, the ravening ravens.

A faint heart is fearful of the foul birds
A weak-headed wight fares poorly against wise foes
The strong man stays his course, striving ever onwards
Doughty are his deeds in the dark of their wings
With his stout staff he lays about to strike
Nor without wounds does he wager to win
Surely he shatters the birds’ swift bodies.

Thus must a man make merry with death
Turning always towards it.

NORVAL JOE

He found the envelope on the desk in his work station. It was good that he’d come in early. He wouldn’t have to explain to his coworkers who Yorick was and why he was opening a letter addressed to, whoever-he-was.
The fact that the name read, Yorick, was evidence that the letter wasn’t left by any of the 1000 people who worked in the office building.
He turned it over. The flap wasn’t glued, only tucked in.
Inside, the card read, “Alas, poor Yorick. I’ll miss you.”
Benny looked around the room. All the cubicles were as silent as death.

PLANET Z

The Butterfly Effect states that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, it can start a chain of events that lead to a deadly hurricane in Florida, or some other absurd consequence.
What really happens is that when a butterfly flaps its wings in China, a nearby cat notices the butterfly, and the cat chases the butterfly around.
Sometimes, the cat catches the butterfly. Other times, the cat merely watches the butterfly flap around.
Whatever the outcome, it certainly isn’t a hurricane in Florida.
Or a flaming gateway to Hell. That’s there because you never cleaned your room, Johnny.

Weekly Challenge #567 – Suggestion

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:

Stripey

JEFFREY

Suggestion Box
by Jeffrey Fischer

My company’s new CEO installed a suggestion box outside the executive suite. He emailed the staff, informing us of its existence and assuring us that anonymous suggestions were perfectly acceptable. He wanted us to feel part of the organization. And, after all, who better to understand where the firm could improve but its current employees?

I dropped my suggestion in the box early one morning, so no one could see me do it. “How about cut your obscene salary and give us a raise for once?” it read. My termination notice pointed out the ceiling camera just above the box.

CHARLIE

I made a suggestion. I suggested we go for a walk on the cliffs near the old mill. The old mill was closed down due to the pollution it produced.

The cleanup promised by the local tribe and the former mill operators was long overdue.

We walked close to the edge, and took photographs.

I hated her for the last eight years, and when she slipped on the loose rock close to the edge, I closed my eyes tight and covered my ears to block the sights and sounds of her head bouncing off the rocks on the way down.

RICHARD

Sommelier

“If I might make a suggestion, Sir, the Chablis would make an excellent accompaniment for the trout.”

I looked disdainfully over my menu at the waiter. Of course he’d suggest the Chablis – it was one of the most expensive bottles on the list! Did I look like I’m made of money?

“If I want your opinion on our meal, I’ll ask for it – until then, I rather think that the choice of wine is entirely ours!”

“Don’t you think I should ask the old trout herself what she would like?”, I continued, handing the menu to my wife.

LIZZIE

“Try looking under the bed, he says … Why didn’t he come upstairs himself and look under the bed? Why did I have to be the one looking under the bed? On my knees, getting my best clothes dirty… Yeah, like the dude is going to hide under the bed. What if I find him? What then? I’ll just say, hello, you. All good?”
Silence.
“Oh, damn. What’s this?”
More silence.
“Hey, Patrick. He’s not under the bed. But I found that hand we lost track of. The one we chopped off of the… what’s his name? The other millionaire.”

SERENDIPITY

The secret is to show no fear.

Not the slightest quiver of the lip, not the merest suggestion of nervousness, nor any sign of concern.

Just breeze through, eyes front, unconcerned about the situation and without any hesitation.

Because I can tell.

I know when you’re hiding something, and I can spot the signs – the way you fumble with your passport; the bead of sweat on your forehead; and your nervous looks across the desk as I check your visa.

Then, for you, I’m afraid it’s far too late…

And I smile as I pull on the latex gloves!

TOM

Top Down
“I’m tell ya boss this Suggestion Box thing, great idea,” said Baxster Beelzebub. “I’m still not sure this sends the right messages to our permanent guess. You know all that hope stuff. We do not want another outbreak of that.” Said the Big Man. “No prob boss. I got a plan.” “Like the republican congress?” “No bigger.” “Cell Phone Video game?“ “Bigger.” I’m listening, Beelzebub.” “We install Two Suggestion boxes.” “Wizard, Baxster. Write up a proposal and submit it to Eve in accounting. Who came up that idea?” Guy down in ring eight called Dante. “What’s in for?” “Indeterminable prose.”

JON

Only a Suggestion

By

Jon DeCles

“That shape has the suggestion of Humpty Trumpty,’ Alice thought as she approached the high wall…

“When I use a word,” Humpty Trumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean…”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Trumpty, “which is to be the master ¾ that’s all. They’ve a temper, some of them… Impenetrability, that’s what I say!”

“Would you tell me, please,” said Alice, “what that means?”

“Do you like my new wall? Mexico will pay for it!”

TURA

Suggestions
———
Recommendation engines have come a long way since Amazon’s “If you liked that book, try these.” They’re embedded in everything. “If you liked that holiday, try these.” “If you liked that person, meet these.” They even make suggestions about what to get suggestions about. “If you liked those holidays, try my job suggestions.” You can get conversational assistants, suggesting things to say into your ear in real time.

Some people follow the suggestion bots for everything. The brains of suggestion drones actually shrink from disuse.

So maybe you should start ignoring anything that begins, “If you liked…” Just a suggestion.

NORVAL JOE

“Just smile. It will make you feel better,” his girlfriend said, displaying her own broad set of pearly white teeth.
He smiled back.
Her suggestion didn’t work.
Jack didn’t feel better.
In fact, his feelings of inadequacy and frustration grew until they took shape. Not the shape of a square or circle or a wiener dog, but into the shape of a ten pound hammer that he brought down on her head.
Jack’s transformation was so sudden and unexpected that his girlfriend’s smile remained on her face, even in death.
“Did that make you feel better?” Jack, ‘The Hammer’, asked.

LAIEANNA

Jason has ever been my only friend. He was more of the scheming
leader and me the follower who did the tasks. I never hesitated when
he made suggestions.

“Why don’t you steal that golf cart?” I did.

“You should grab the cash Ms Pennely is always bragging about.” I did.

“How about you take this bat to that man’s head?” I did.

Nowadays it’s harder to keep up with the barriers between us, but we
manage. Just now got another one of his notes. “Why don’t you write
about me in a 100 word story.” So here I am.

CHRIS

The Suggestion
By Christopher Munroe

This is not a demand.

I have no power over you, no leverage, and even if I did it would be wrong of me to use that leverage to make demands of you.

You are a human being, with thoughts and feelings just as important and valid as my own, who has the right to exercise your own best judgment and preserve your own sense of moral agency, and I completely respect that and would never infringe upon it.

So no, this isn’t a demand.

This is merely a suggestion:

Get on the Party Bus. We’re all going to Vegas…

PLANET Z

George was a pirate, but he wasn’t a very good pirate.
He was clumsy and made lots of mistakes, and the rest of the crew had to make up for them.
So, they filled the Captain’s suggestion box with complaints.
Every week, the Captain emptied the box and read the notes.
“Make George walk the plank!”
“Keel haul George!”
“Feed George to the sharks!”
Some were just drawings of horrible things happening to a stick figure, presumably George.
He then read the note his dear departed sister had left him.
“Keep an eye on my son George.”
And he sighed.

Weekly Challenge #566 – PICK TWO

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

LIZZIE

Lightning or Not

“To control the uncontrollable…” Diane sighed.
Annie shook her head. “What is that suppose to mean?!”
“That thing’s stumbling out.”
“What thing?” Annie turned around and tentacles were sliding out of the show’s chest.
“What is that?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Looks like an octopus.”
Suddenly, the wannabe octopus slammed the lid open and turned into a giant green lightning.
“Nice effect. Is it for the show?”
That was the last thing Diane said.
“Octopus… At least now you’re fed. I told you a million times it was not the time yet. We’ll get them all, but not yet.”

JEFFREY

Read See Scrolls
by Jeffrey Fischer

Lightning flashed nearby as Clyde and Wayne approached the cave, hidden in a nook on the Spanish coast near Valencia. “They’d better be there,” said Wayne, stumbling on the rocks.

“They will,” replied Clyde. “I tell you, I seen ’em. Hundreds of – whadya call them? – fragments, just like them up in Is-Real. And these ain’t paper, they’re what that Moses guy had, you know, tablets. As long as we can beat them other guys looking – them Italics, from Italy – we’ll be rich and famous.”

Wayne was still skeptical, but he looked into the cave. Sure enough, there were hundreds of fragments – of iPads. Someone had used the cave to dump rather than recycle them.

RICHARD

#1 – Tofu

Tofu… Foul stuff. No taste, nasty texture and comes with that universal disclaimer used for the disgusting: ‘It’s good for you’.

I beg to disagree. It’s not good for me: The tiniest fragment of the awful stuff, no matter how artfully disguised or masked by other, more palatable ingredients, is guaranteed to send me running for the bathroom!

Trust me, after one of my tofu related ‘incidents’, you really don’t want to be following me in there.

If you are unfortunate enough to do so, there’s one thing of which I’m sure: That tofu won’t do you any good either!

#2 – Comic Sans

I always sign my name in italics, using Comic Sans, and in ochre ink.

It irritates the hell out of my boss – he says it’s unprofessional and doesn’t reflect company values. I think my boss talks a load of crap – since when did how you sign your name speak about professionalism or values? If that’s the case, doctors would have to spend half their medical training learning to write legibly!

So, why do I do it?

Partly for a little individualism and uniqueness; partly because I can; but mostly, because it annoys the hell out of my boss!

#3 – Lightning

After being banned from his self-appointed role of bus conductor, dad decided to try his hand at being a lightning conductor.

We tried to dissuade him, warning him about the perils of getting cold and wet, the risk of pneumonia and the dangers of slipping in wet mud, but he was having none of it. He’d made his mind up to become a lightning conductor, and a lightning conductor he would be!

Actually, he’s doing rather well. Last I heard, he was touring in Spain – where the rain stays mainly in the plain, and the lightning is rather frightening!

TOM

Truth is Over Rated
Sally entered the Oval office with all the trepidation of a French royal on their way to the square in a cart. “Well not so bad so far,” she mused. He didn’t look up at first. Then asked her if she wanted to share one of his tofu burgers. She decline. He laughed, “Like I’m going to eat tofu.” “Here’s the deal.” The irony of the statement wasn’t lost on her. “I’ve got the greatest hair of anyone who ever sat behind this desk. How would you describe the color?” “Spanish Ochre.” “You really don’t want this job?” “You’re Fired.”

JOM

Rabid Response

By

Jon DeCles

Jethro stumbled across the dirty ochre carpet to the table where his pad sat ringing at him. The flashing italics on the screen affected his vision like close up lightning on the plain in Spain, but he didn’t let that stop him. There was still a fragment of tofu on the bottom of the screen from last night’s inadequate supper, but he knew he had to answer the call. She’d demand it.

“Genevieve?” he queried when he knew that he had her. “Why are you communicating at four in the morning? The heroin hasn’t even come on yet! Genevieve? Genevieve?”

SERENDIPITY

They say the night I was born, a lightning bolt pierced the skies at the moment of my birth.

Fact or not, it is true lightning struck an ancient yew in the local churchyard that night: A fragment of its charred remains hangs on a cord around my neck – testament to the violence accompanying my first drawn breath.

Like that tree, I am broken, withered and scarred, and I strike fear into those of a superstitious nature. Yet, despite our infirmities, we both survive, against all odds.

And whilst I survive, my life remains as twisted as my body!

MUNSI

To Make a Thing Your Own
By Christopher Munroe

There comes a time when you must customize your Party Bus.

I mean, I’ve had the thing for weeks, it needs to be done.

Trick out the engine, replace the disco ball and stripper poles, re-stock the bar with higher-end liquor, that sort of thing.

And, naturally, airbrush a delicate pattern of lightning bolts across the thing, with “Munsi” down one size in italics, and “Rockz” down the other.

Let the whole world know who’s bus this is.

Let the whole world know who likes to party.

Let them know who has two thumbs and likes to party…

…this guy!!!

TURA

Ochre is a soft, yellowish rock, consisting basically of rust. But in this limestone cave there shouldn’t be fragments just lying around. I shone my lamp further forward. More ochre, lumps sized to fit a hand. The cave walls were covered with orangey scratchings.

The lettering was crude, and I lost track of time as I deciphered it. It described tunnels deeper within the cave, with fragmentary sketches of maps.

I realised, too late, that my lamp was growing dim. The last sentence I read said, “You are about to be eaten by a grue.” And the lamp went out.

LAIEANNA

I was a very clumsy kid who only got worse as an adult. How could I
go backwards? I don’t know, but head trauma was my life. That is
until they came out with the Stumble Pad. Spring loaded with a 360
degree swivel from the belt, a small cushion shoots up to protect my
head from any angle when sensors read I’m taking a tumble. Still a
few scrapes and bruises but the noggin is good. The best part is it
doubles as an emergency pillow, seat cushion, and flotation device.
I’m thinking about getting the full body version.

NORVAL JOE

The saying goes that you’re more likely to get struck by lightning than you are to win the lottery. The other saying is that lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice.
Arthur Bunkmaker doesn’t believe either of those sayings, because he’s never been hit by lightning and he’s won the lottery three times. He found his lucky numbers on the inside wrapper from a box of tofu. He used the same numbers each time.
He never won the megamillions, but he did win enough to buy a villa in Southern Spain and he never has to eat tofu again.

PLANET Z

Fred liked to play games on his computer pad.
He played them all day long.
Even in school, he played games.
But the games in school weren’t the bird games or the maze games or the games he liked to play.
These were math and word games.
Adding numbers, dividing numbers.
Piecing together fragments into whole sentences.
The geography games were kinda boring.
Shapes of countries that no longer existed, like Italy… Spain… Texas…
He looked out the window, down at the poisoned Earth.
“Play your games, Fred,” admonished the holoteacher.
Fred went back to the math and word games.

Weekly Challenge #565 – NORMAL

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

Higher Education
by Jeffrey Fischer

Back in the day, a Normal School was essentially a training school for teachers. In the United States, they date back to the 19th century, while Europe had even older examples. These days, many of the Normal Schools have been transformed into typical universities. You may not even know the background of these schools; UCLA started as one, for example.

Lesser-known are the country’s Abnormal Schools. These have always been secretive, and that secrecy continues to this day. No one brags about graduating from an Abnormal School, no matter how prestigious the institution. And yet, here’s something you might not know… every national politician since the days of Millard Fillmore graduated from one of these schools. It explains a lot.

LIZZIE

A normal day always started with a nice cup of coffee. This wasn’t a normal day.
When she picked up the cup, the stain of lipstick on the brim glared back at her, a mocking slap on the face.
The stupid ass had forgotten to clean the cup right.
She walked to the bedroom and looked around carefully. Everything was in its rightful place. Except…
An earring had rolled under the bed. Silver. A loop, how fitting.
She picked up the phone.
“Go for it.”
Two days later, he was found by the river, wearing a shiny silver loop earring.

RICHARD

#1 – Abnormal Norman

Norman was far from normal – nothing to do with the odd socks with holes in the heels, the plant pot he wore on his head, or the stuffed pet fish he’d take for walks in the park.

It wasn’t the toasted marshmallows he insisted on for breakfast, or the dinner parties for dogs that he loved to host.

And it wasn’t his habit of bathing in malt vinegar and chocolate sauce.

None of these set him apart.

Norman was far from normal because he was the last king of England, and a perfect example of the folly of inbreeding.

#2 – SNAFU

Got up, fell out of bed, got a bruise on my forehead.

Made a brew; milk was off, burned the toast – smoke made me cough.

Running late, I lost my hat, made the bus in seconds flat. Wrong bus: I ended up lost, now I’m really counting the cost.

When I finally got to work, the boss chewed me out and called me a jerk.

Phone rang – it was my wife – got into a bit of strife. So no fun tonight, it’s always the same.

What a day, but can’t complain; every one is just the same…

JON

It’s Not Normal

By Jon DeCles

“It’s not normal for a dog to behave that way!” Paul said.

“You’re right,” said Ruth.

“I hope she’s not sick,” said Paul.

“I hope it’s not rabies!” said Ruth, with alarm.

They backed away.

The Collie danced around, ran off toward the gate in the fence surrounding the farm house, then came bounding back. She barked, ran off again, came back again.

“I’d take her to the vet, but if it’s rabies I don’t dare touch her,” said Ruth.

The dog did her best, but the humans didn’t understand that Timmy had fallen down a well. Thus Timmy drowned.

TOM

école normale

The tradition of teaching colleges goes back to the 1680s. Jean-Baptiste La Salle founded it in Champagne, France, given the amount of liquor the average teacher need to carry on, quite appropriate. The First normal school in America was founded in 1839 my Samuel Hall in Concord, Vermont. Not the one with shoot heard round the world. Southern Illinois, and UCLA were both normal school. Norman school were laboratory school. Providing a model school with model classrooms to teach model teaching practices to its student teachers. Children, teachers, and the teachers of the teachers were often together in the same building.

SERENDIPITY

Don’t try to tell me what’s normal!

Just because I don’t fit into your stereotypical definitions of acceptable behaviour and societal standards doesn’t mean that I’m wrong, or that you’re right.

I’m different. Live with it, and if you can’t, then keep your mouth shut and stay out of my way. You have no right to tell me how to live my life simply because I don’t happen to obey your arbitrary rules.

I don’t care that you’re a judge, and I’m guilty.

I’ll still hunt you down when I get out.

And my revenge will be far from normal!

MUNSI

Normalized
By Christopher Munroe

This is normal.

This has always been normal, and it’s the way things have always been.

Things have never been any different than this, and when people tell you “We can not allow this to be normalized!” you can safely pay them no mind.

We can normalize this.

And we will.

Although there is no need.

Because all of this is already perfectly normal, perfectly ordinary, reliable and predictable and well in keeping with what has gone before, and requires no more thought than that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a story to write.

About a Party Bus…

TURA

Normal
———
Everything adds up to normality, they say. When physicists discovered that solid matter is mostly empty space, people weren’t suddenly able to walk through walls. The physicists could even explain why.

So why did people turn into zombies when neuroscientists finally explained consciousness? People read about it and the lights go out in their head. A fundamentalist militant Buddhism that denies the self is sweeping the world.

The zombies get suspicious of the conscious ones, immune to the basilisk. There are lynchings. There’s talk of pogroms.

Everything may add up to normality, but the calculation could take a long time.

NORVAL JOE

I heard one guy say that alternate lifestyles are the new normal. Unfortunately, something alternate can never be considered normal by the very definitions of the words. Normal means, the norm. You know, average, the most common. Alternate means, not the most common, not the norm. Ab–normal.
There’s nothing wrong with being ab–normal.
There’s nothing wrong with being normal.
Alternate lifestyles are the new acceptable.
The normal lifestyle is for a man and woman to marry, endure one another for three to ten years, then get divorced.
Therefore, any relationship that lasts a lifetime is abnormal.
I think that’s great.

LAIEANNA

PLANET Z

I like to buy minor league baseball caps.
The sillier the team name, mascot, or logo, the better.
The Normal, Illinois baseball team asked their fans to vote on a name, but due to a security flaw on their website, the vote was rigged by hackers.
They ran it again with the CornBelters, the Nutz, the Coal Bears, the Fellers, and the CamelBacks.
Eventually, the fans settled on the CornBelters, and their logo is a confused ear of corn.
I added the ballcap’s store page to my bookmarks list for consideration.
Maybe I’ll buy it someday.
But I doubt it.