Weekly Challenge #736 – ILLUMINATE

… and that’s fifteen years.

Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of this podcast.

Let’s keep going, okay?

11

LIZZIE

A few photographs hung from the string of lights. She couldn’t remember them. Who was this guy? Where was this photo taken? Her gaze floated from photo to photo, her perplexity increasing.
But then she stopped. The beach. The pebbles. She remembered that.
She looked at the stranger standing beside her.
“It’s…”
The stranger nodded.
“You’re my son,” she said, smiling.
The stranger teared up. “Yes, Mom, I’m your son. We used to go to this beach when I was a kid.”
“And you used to pile up the pebbles and say Look, Mom. You were so proud of yourself!”

RICHARD

Illuminati Illuminated

After I read the DaVinci Code, (admit it, you read it too, even though you make out it’s crap), I thought I’d research the Illuminati a little bit more.

So I looked them up on Wikipedia. (Yes, that’s what counts as ‘research’ these days!), and apparently, they were formed as a secret society to oppose superstition and obscurantism, (new word for me there!)

Doesn’t that strike you as a bit ironic and hypocritical?

A notoriously secretive, obscure and superstitious organisation formed expressly to combat exactly those same traits in society?

That’s like a politician using Twitter to, erm… condemn Twitter!

SERENDIPIDY

I don’t want to leave you in the dark concerning your fate. That would be most unfair and put you at a huge disadvantage.

I run an ethical operation here, and I’m all in favour of informed consent, although of course, we’ll have to consider your consent to be ‘implied’, since the bindings, blindfold and gag make any sort of communication difficult.

So, let me whisper in your ear, exactly how I intend to torment you… Cast a light on what to expect, and illuminate the path we’ll be following.

And finally, when it’s all over…

Walk towards the light!

TOM

Let There Be Light

Jimmy boy genius was putting the finish touches on his grade school science project. The gym was full of the standard kid projects. More than the average number of mock volcanoes. Jack the janitor was watching closely as Jimmy pull out a vampire tap and slammed it in the main power line. The lights dimmed inside, the lights dimmed outside. Then across the state. Jimmy flick the on switch. Light of a 1000s sun vaporizes every living soul in the gym. Next day the fed hauled away Jimmy’s illuminator. Its currently on the US Space Station pointed at Moscow.

NORVAL JOE

“It sucks to be in seventh grade,” Billbert said, sitting on his bed. The only light illuminating his room came from the streetlight outside the second story window.
He thought he’d made a friend at this new school, maybe even a girlfriend. She’d just hung up on him in the middle of a conversation.
He nearly jumped out of his skin when there was a frantic pounding at his window. Billbert ran to the window and opened it to find Linoliamnda perched on the eaves.
“How’d you get up here?” he asked.
She frowned. “Well, I didn’t fly. That’s obvious.”

PLANET Z

It’s a bright and sunny day.
Isn’t it beautiful?
They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant, but that’s really just a metaphor.
It represents the press exposing the dirty secrets of corruption and graft that infects the powerful and elite of our world.
The truest disinfectants for other applications are heat and bleach.
So, if you find a powerful elite individual engaging in graft and corruption, be sure to pour bleach into their mouths and then set them on fire.
They may not scream “Thank you for disinfecting my corruption!” but I promise you, they’re thinking it.
So beautiful.

Weekly Challenge #735 – EMPOWERED

Sentinel

LIZZIE

I found the page of a book in the forest. I read it. It didn’t make much sense. Then, I found another page, and another. I continued down the path and found more pages. I sat down and ordered them. Damn… No page one… I wandered about, trying to find it, until I reached a cabin. Page one was right there. I picked it up and was about to leave when a voice, coming from inside, said “I was expecting you”. I’ve read many pages since, and Old Patrick, the voice, always closes his eyes and smiles while I read.

RICHARD

Empowered

So this is supposed to make me feel empowered, is it?

I looked from the fourteen black plastic bags full of the miscellanea of my past life to the, now bare, walls, shelves and cupboards of my apartment.

Now, was apparently a turning point in my life: The creation of a fresh, blank canvas, upon which I could paint a new destiny.

And all I had to do was take those black plastic bags, full of their memories, heartaches, successes and failures of a life that owed more to mediocrity than to satisfaction, and throw them all away.

Maybe, tomorrow?

SERENDIPIDY

All my life I fought to be heard. I struggled to be noticed, begged to be appreciated – and never once did I succeed.

Pushed down, ignored and scorned, I was told I would never amount to anything, that I lacked presence and was incapable of achieving anything.

For a while I believed them, but today will change all that.

Today, the gun I hold in my hand empowers me.

And, for one brief moment, all the power in the world rests in my index finger.

So, go on… wave to the crowds, Mr President.

And let’s see who’s helpless now!

TOM

100,000 Dead in the Halls of America

I’ve always been suspect when I hear someone say we don’t hand-hold: we empower. It hangs out with terms like, team-player and leadership. It often come out the mouth of someone in the highest level of on org chart. Yup by folk who love org charts. The only way to help someone up is to get down next to them. Hands on the same shovel, hands on the same piece of paper, working the same funkn algebra problem, working any problem from the floor-up. So to all you three ring binder consultants. Empower this and the horse you rode in on.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert didn’t know how to respond. Was this the only reason Linoliamanda liked him, because he could fly? His twelve year old mind tried to put two and two together. Was she just using him for her entertainment and excitement?

Empowered and emboldened by his indignation, he asked, “Is that all you care about? Would you still like me if I couldn’t fly?”

Linoliamanda gasped, there was a moment of silence, and she hung up on him.

This was not the response he had expected. Denial or an argument, maybe. He didn’t think she would just hang up on him.

TURA

Empowered
———
Our corporate mission statement was up for review. “We empower people–”

“Stop right there!” said Eannmbaighe. “Divisive language, ‘us’ against the othered ‘them’. And ‘people’ erases their individuality!”

“How dare you ignore the biggest issue of all?” Empathy answered. “Giving someone power foregrounds your power over them. Empowerment is disempowerment! Power is only taken!”

“Taking power implies you already have power,” I suggested. They both glared at me incredulously and shouted “No!” And “Yes!” simultaneously. Then they turned on each other.

Great! We’d spend all day and decide nothing. That’s the idea, keep the clowns out of the actual business.

PLANET Z

When you’re rich, you can do anything.
Just ask Michael Jackson.
Well, you could ask him, if he were alive.
But he’s not.
Because he made others very rich.
His managers, his brothers and sisters, his mother and father.
And so many executives and lawyers.
They wanted to get richer.
Keep him alive, and he’ll make more music and perform more shows?
And make more… mistakes, is that what his business manager called it?
Lots of royalties and deals coming in.
Don’t want them held up by lawsuits.
Is he having trouble sleeping?
We’d better put him to sleep. Permanently.

Weekly Challenge #734 – NOBODY GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE

Witches Familiar

LIZZIE

The three brothers were alone. The conversation started amicably, but it became bitter very quickly. Accusations flew. The past came back to haunt each one of them. “It wasn’t my fault,” each would yell. And time went by, the hours long and heavy. No solution in sight. “Nobody gets out of here before we reach an agreement,” said the eldest. And no one did. At least, not alive. The widows sobbed, and winked. That bourbon was great. Then, they went on a cruise, enjoying the money their husbands weren’t able to divide. Unfortunately, the cruise sank. Karma is a bitch.

RICHARD

The sign

It was the biggest cock up in the company’s history. Our first theme park in China: Bankrupt within mere weeks of its opening.

All my fault.

“What the hell were you thinking?” The CEO demanded, “You went to your tattoo artist for the translation… The guy who translated your name as ‘Potato Dumpling’?”

I nodded helplessly.

“I told him it should say, ‘Nobody leaves without having the time of their life'”

They fired me, of course.

And as I walked disconsolately away, the sign above the gates – my sign – mocked me in Chinese…

‘Nobody gets out of here alive!’

SERENDIPIDY

“Nobody gets out of here alive.”

My chainsmoking companion looked at me sagely. He was a veteran, surviving against all the odds, but he knew his days too were numbered.

“Even those who survive everything they throw at us are doomed. They cart them away, kill them, and cut up the bodies”

“If I were you, pray for a quick death, not like those poor souls over there”

He gestured towards the other side of the room, where our companions shivered and twitched, tortured, for no apparent reason

A lab technician approached my cage.

I prayed it would be quick.

TOM

It Was The Times

It was the mid-70s some may say longer after the golden age of the drug culture. Depends on where ya all lived. Took a look time to make its way to Chicago. Of course in some corner of the population it was common place, but in my enclave not so much. We did make up for lost time and by 1973 we were way past pot and roping in on Acid and mushrooms. The music and the folk who sang it rang out sex and drugs and rock and roll. The clear message was NOBODY GETS OUT OF HERE ALIVE.

NORVAL JOE

“We belong together?” Billbert asked.
“Yes,” Linoliamanda breathed. “When you took my hand and we rose into the sky, we were one being. A single majestic eagle gliding above the trees. Billbert! Life is short. Nobody gets out of here alive. We must live life to the fullest at every minute. Head for the sky and never look back.”
Billbert groaned. “If my dad finds out I’ve been even talking to you about flying, I’ll never get out of my bedroom alive again.”
“When can we go flying again?” Linoliamanda asked as if she hadn’t heard a word he’d said.

PLANET Z

Gamma Max Prison is never overcrowded.
One prisoner per cell.
Every time a new prisoner arrives, he is put in a cell with another prisoner.
Only one prisoner is allowed to live.
How that is resolved, the warden doesn’t care.
By the end of the day he wants one prisoner, one cell.
No more, and no less.
If both prisoners die, he calls the state and gets another prisoner.
And if both prisoners are alive, he kills them both.
Then calls the state for another prisoner.
The state sends too many prisoners.
“Match ’em up,” says the warden. And smiles.

Weekly Challenge #733 – CHEMISTRY

Shade

LIZZIE

In a nutshell… The chemistry wasn’t right. So, I decided to burn it all, but burn it with style. The documentary didn’t make justice to the whole process. It was a masterpiece! I tried to make it as simple as possible. I drew the lines. But it wasn’t easy. Everything was a bit wiggly. The actual procedure only took place afterwards, of course. And.. It did burn for quite a bit. I had no idea it would take that long. On top of it all, it didn’t work properly. If it had I wouldn’t be here, would I, your honor?

RICHARD

Impersonals

Single, unattached, solvent male; young at heart with a good sense of humour, would like to meet friendly, sociable thirty-something female.

Needs to be easy on the eye, healthy, and in possession of an open mind.

Interests and hobbies, unimportant. Not looking for a long-term relationship or settling-down, and physical intimacy – whilst desirable – is not strictly necessary.

Looking for one-off meets of a strictly transactional nature.

The right chemistry is important, but only insofar as that required to select, transfer and merge egg and sperm to a successful conclusion.

Please supply your own, sterile, test tube.

SERENDIPIDY

There’s a chemistry between us – can you feel it?

I won’t deny that killing in cold blood has its own allure, but it’s always so much better when there’s that intangible connection between victim and killer: That frisson of emotion, born of fear, loathing and hope.

Like it, or not, we’re entered into a relationship, and that’s something very special, a wonderful, fragile connection that few will ever experience.

It makes this moment so much more special; and adds a certain poignancy to our eventual parting.

Don’t you feel the chemistry?

No?

A pity… but I’m still taking your life.

TOM

Chemistry was not in the cards for me. Chemistry was for smart people. After five years in Catholic Grade school I knew clearly what side of the line I was on. This was further confirmed by my brief glance at scientific notation. Scared the crap out me, so I sign up for 3rd period European history. Fast forward 25 years later, the requirements for AA put me in Mrs. Easters chem 101 class. Not alone did I wrestle Sci Notes to it’s knees. I got the highest grad in the class. All it took was brute force and a jug of Carl Rossi’s

NORVAL JOE

Linoliamanda was silent for a minute, then said, “Billbert. I don’t know what I would do without you as my friend. I really don’t want you to move away.”
She sounded on the verge of tears. He didn’t want her to be sad. “Really. I don’t think I will have to move, if I don’t get caught flying again.”
With a sudden attitude shift, she sounded completely happy again. “Right. We’ll have to be careful about when and where we fly.”
“What do you mean, we?” Billbert asked.
“Face it,” she said. “We have a special chemistry. We belong together.”

PLANET Z

The fundamental science of the universe is Physics.
It deals with the interactions of particles and forces and fields.
On top of Physics you get Chemistry.
Particles come together to form molecules, which interact in various ways.
Then comes Geology, Biology, and Astronomy.
Because rocks and life and the stars all come from chemical reactions.
Then comes Economics, Sociology, and Philosophy.
Those need living things to interact.
And Religion?
That should come from life, too.
There are those who think that Religion is the foundation of all things.
So, I kill them, and ask them if there’s Religion without life.

Weekly Challenge #732 – PICK TWO: ecology, rash, aberration, plinth, mnemonic, wrought

NOTE: Yeah, I messed up the file this morning. Fixing it now… thank you for the heads up, Tura… we cover each others blind spots. Teamwork!

Tin nesting

LIZZIE

Lessons in Ecology? No one would dare. He knew far more than all of them put together. He’d spent decades studying the subject. He was “the expert”. And he was damn proud of that too. He’d lectured all over the world. He had written so many books that he’d forgotten most of them. These books had been translated to languages from all over the world.
So, when that rash started, he blamed it on the new exotic plant, a gift from a colleague.
He was certainly not an expert on Psychology. He didn’t count on something as simple as jealousy.

RICHARD

Anaphylaxis

Howard scratched irritably at the rash. What had started as a small patch was spreading, and now covered the better part of his body. The skin was raw and red, and the more he scratched it, the worse it got.

He felt his tongue swelling, and knew that he needed to get help: Unfortunately, here in the middle of the forest, he knew that help was too far away to be of any use.

With horror, he felt his airway constricting… He wasn’t going to make it.

His last memory: his mother’s words, “Ecology… Now, that’s a nice safe hobby!”

SERENDIPIDY

I have been called many things.

A criminal: Inhuman and evil. An aberration.

But I’m not any of those things; dig deep enough into any person’s psyche, you will find they’re just the same as me. The only real difference is that I choose not to hold that aspect of my character in check.

I remember one day in art class, as a child, my teacher said true greatness could only be found in unfettered self-expression.

I took her words to heart.

And now, as I look upon the destruction and pain I have wrought.

I see…

An artist.

TOM

An Audience of One Magic in the Time of Corona —

Since you asked … I’ve been doing a deep drive into aberration mnemonics: characteristic that deviates from the normal type using elaborative encoding, retrieval cues, and imagery as specific tools to encode any given information in a way that allows for efficient storage and retrieval. I’m work on peg words to build a magical card stack. So far I have 52 pairs that mark position with in a deck of cards. Simon Aronson the late Chicago Card Master came up with the stack. Among magician this is a Jedi level under taking. If done deftly one can do the Impossible.

NORVAL JOE

“Rub Marissa out?” Billbert exclaimed. “That’s a little rash, isn’t it? Besides, I thought the Albriagettis were the ones in the mob. Where do you get that idea?”
Linoliumanda didn’t hesitate. “It’s only reasonable they receive justice equal to the near catastrophe they wrought.”
Billbert laughed. “There’s an aberration in your thinking. If they nearly caused a catastrophe, they should nearly be rubbed out. How do you suggest we do that?”
“I don’t know. Maybe, shoot at them but miss?” Linoliamanda suggested.
“How about if we consider it for a moment, then decide it is not only illegal, it’s insane.”

TURA

Wrought; plinth
———
I conceived a magnificent sculpture in wrought iron, a maze of twisted and interwoven members, featherlight in appearance, massive in substance.

The base was to be of architectural granite. I searched all over Europe for a quarry that could provide stone of the quality I demanded, and travelled to the likeliest candidates to inspect their workings. Eventually I made my choice, and drew out on the rock face a block to be cut for me and shipped.

But then lockdown happened, and no-one knows when they’ll start work again. I can only hope that one day my plinth will come.

PLANET Z

It started with a rash.
Janet rubbed aloe vera on it.
But it didn’t go away. It got worse.
When she tried to make an appointment with her doctor, there was no answer.
There was an app for remote doctor consultations, and she loaded it and signed up.
And she waved the camera over the rash and sent still pictures, too.
The result.
“Go to a clinic,” said the doctor, and her credit card was charged.
The clinic was closed, so she went to the emergency room.
She sat in the waiting room for hours.
And caught coronavirus and died.

Weekly Challenge #731 – SANITIZE

Care Package (not Gwynneth Paltrow's head)

LIZZIE

“Sanitize this, sanitize that, that’s all we hear these days. How about sanitizing at a larger scale?”
The staff sat around the oval table in the meeting room, motionless.
“We just have to have political courage, that’s all.”
No one uttered a word.
“We start small first and see if anyone complains.”
A few people shifted in their chairs, the discomfort growing.
“If the media don’t pick up on it, we go bigger. It’ll save money too.”
The silence was overwhelming.
“OK, then. It’s decided. We’ll start next week.”
They started with the old and the lonely. No one noticed.

RICHARD

OCD

I used to sanitise everything.

OCD is like that.

I’d wash my hands countless times a day until they were raw and red; wipe down door handles, avoid putting cutlery down on any surface, and wipe down anything I was likely to come into contact with.

Outside the home, I’d wear gloves, avoid public transport and never shake hands or hug friends.

But now, I don’t do any of that.

I’m not cured of OCD.

It’s just that, everybody else in the world is now doing the washing hands, wiping down and social distancing thing.

So, I don’t have to!

SERENDIPIDY

Maybe I should tone down my stories?

Make them less gory, steer away from the graphic depictions of blood and guts, and tone down the horror?

I know they’re not everybody’s cup of tea, and I don’t cover the sort of topics that crop up in polite conversation.

I know that sometimes, after reading one of mine, some will feel the need for a stiff drink, or find something pleasant and uplifting to sanitise the feelings of corruption I’ve sown.

Maybe, if I did, I could be a successful writer?

But perhaps not.

It never did Stephen King any harm!

TOM

I Long For A Hair Cut

Did you here this? I cannot believe this. Someone just santatize that merry old elf, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle. Saint Nick. Caught him from behind and gave him an injection of Christmas Winter Green Pinesol. Some born again nut-job in a maga hat. They rushed him to the local hospital, unfortunately he was vacationing in George at the time. The ICU treated him with a mega dose of UV light. You know how hard it is to get a lamp down someone esophagus? Just as he passed away. He said,” I was only a sniffle, didn’t have a fever.”

NORVAL JOE

Billbert’s phone rang. It was Linohliamanda’s number.
“What’s the problem, Billbert?” she asked when he answered the phone.
He explained what had happened with Marissa and her father. “If it gets out that I can fly, my dad says we’ll have to move away.”
“Right,” Linohliumanda said. “We need to go back and sanitize the crime scene.”
“Do what?” Billbert asked.
“You know. We need to go to the school and remove any evidence.”
Billbert couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “The only evidence was witnessed by Marissa. How are we going to sanitize that?”
“Rub her out?” Linohliamanda asked.

TURA

Sanitize
———
It’s such a bother having visitors. I feel it necessary to sanitize my place, by clearing away piles of clothes, washing the dishes, vacuuming the floors. Then hide the sex toys (unless it’s that sort of visit), clear the web browser history, turn off embarrassing notifications from eBay. The sigils warding my portal to the Dark Realms can’t be erased, of course, so I have to cast an invisibility spell over them, which is tricky because the demons still have to be able to see them.

At least social distancing means I won’t need to do that for the duration.

PLANET Z

When you make pancakes with chocolate chip smiley faces…
When you lay out his favorite clothes for the day…
When you wash his teddy bear separately so it doesn’t stink of fabric softener and fragrant detergent…
When you dump the water out of the tire swing so it doesn’t breed mosquitoes or get his pants wet…
When you take the ugly sweater out of the gift box from Aunt Myrtle and replace it with a video game console…
Hope that he remembers those days.
The good days. The special days.
And not the ones when you were drinking all day.

Weekly Challenge #730 – DENDRITE

Myst

LIZZIE

“…neurotransmitters that communicate with the dendrites,” said the professor standing in front of a large group of students. She didn’t need a class on Biology, but she didn’t feel like having to wait in the cold for two hours. So, she’d joined that class. Things took a bad turn though when the professor asked her about the damn dendrites and the only thing she could think of was “…stress induces atrophy of apical dendrites”. She had no clue where she had read that, but everyone seemed impressed. She smiled and decided that, from then on, she’d wait in the cold.

RICHHARD

Flight 82

We flew low over the delta, the dendrite-like pattern of rivulets growing ever wider as we approached the coast. The sun, dipping low on the far horizon, glinted from the ocean: natural sparkles of light, guiding us toward our destination.

Banking steadily to the West, we saw the distant shadow of land emerging from the twilight. A thrill of anticipation passed through the cabin. Not long to go now, thoughts turned inwards and we fell into a pensive silence.

Within minutes we were at our destination.

Slowly, I reached out and clasped the lever.

And the bomb dropped silently.

SERENDIPIDY

“Hold still, just a little scratch, nothing to worry about.”

He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, but felt nothing. I knew he wouldn’t.

I dropped the syringe into the dish, and smoothed a plaster over the wound.

“All done!” I said brightly.

He opened his eyes, which widened in horror as black dendrite tendrils began to spread through beneath his skin.

“What have you done?” He gasped.

“No idea”, I replied, snapping off the latex gloves. “I’m a patient here! I imagine the doctor will work it out though… If he makes it in time.”

“Get well soon”, I winked!

TURA

Report on the planet Procyon II: executive summary

————————————

Transmissions from the recent failed robotic exploration mission indicate that the crust consists almost entirely of dendrite: rock suffused with fine, branching veins. Natural optical fibres channel sunlight down to a depth of at least one hundred metres, fuelling complex patterns of electrical activity.

The entire planet is, in effect, the brain of a thinking entity, apparently able to direct lightning storms and laser blasts of unknown origin. It is not known whether it has any sense of identity, or if communication with it is possible.

Missions to the Procyon system are therefore prohibited pending the development of containment protocols.

TOM

Just a Quiet to Endure

“It is the brain, the little gray cells on which one must rely. One must seek the truth within–not without.” Said the sage Poirot. I ponder that after I finally found the Sunshine Acid in the green shag carpet. It took the better part of two hours, but I was seriously motivated. I was an old hand at the Psychedelic experience. Forest, boardwalk, outside the police department, don’t ask. Never got around to Disneyland, oh and Fantasia too. Might do that tomorrow night. Two tabs of Owsley in fridge. Yup take those little dendrites for stroll down memory lane.

NORVAL JOE

Mr. Wienerheimer followed his wife and son to the front door. “Am I the one missing a few dendrites? How does this make any sense? People have seen Billbert’s super powers. It’s sure to get around.”
Billbert’s mother put a hand on her husband’s shoulder. “Listen, Pookie. A few children saw Billbert fly. If they tell someone, who’s going to believe them? They’re just kids.”
Billbert didn’t wait for his father’s response and ran up the stairs to his room. He got out his phone and sent a text to Linoliumanda. “Remember. We got a ride home from the dance.”

PLANET Z

Professor Dendrite referred to himself as Doctor Odd’s nemesis.
He put it on his business cards, a bumpersticker on the Dendritemobile.
He added it to the description of his secret hideout on Google Maps.
His voicemail message said:
“Hi there, this is Professor Dendrite, Doctor Odd’s nemesis, I can’t come to the phone right now, but please leave a message or send me a text, okay?”
But Doctor Odd never acknowledged the relationship.
This infuriated Dendrite.
“If you don’t add me, I’ll destroy New York,” he treatened.
“Go ahead,” said Odd. “It’ll save me the time to do it myself.”

Weekly Challenge #729 – NOT

Zzzzzzzzz

LIZZIE

Don’t.
Don’t go.
Don’t go for a walk.
Don’t.
Don’t go to the beach.
No, don’t swim.
Don’t sit and bury your fingers in the golden sand.
Don’t build castles and little houses that will crumble with the tide, and mountains with little steps on the side so little imaginary people could climb them safely, their toes feeling the warmth of the sun as they tread upwards.
Don’t .
Don’t stand so close.
Don’t sneeze and laugh and cough.
Don’t breathe.
Don’t wrap your arms around a sad shoulder.
Don’t breathe.
Don’t take things for granted.
Don’t breathe.
Don’t be…
Don’t.

RICHARD

Reverse Psychology

Reverse psychology: It’s clever stuff, at least that’s what they tell me.

If you want to convey a message, tell someone the opposite, and they won’t believe you; if you want someone to press the button, put a big sign over it saying, ‘Do NOT press this button’.

The trouble is, I know from bitter experience, it doesn’t work.

“Do you love me?”, asked the wife.

“No, I don’t!”, I replied with conviction.

“Well, do you want a divorce?”

“Yes, Absolutely!”

“You swine. I should give you a swift kick in the balls!”

“Please, do.”

Reverse psychology? It doesn’t work!

SERENDIPIDY

I’m not a people person.

Not the life and soul of the party.

Not the outgoing, gregarious fun seeker.

Not someone you’d want to share a long journey with.

I’m not your acquaintance.

Not your colleague.

Not your friend.

I am not.

But I could be.

So why not knock on my door.

Come on in, sit down, and share a drink.

Spend some time, tell me all about yourself.

And then.

Just maybe.

If I like you.

You’ll get to know.

What I really am.

But, I’m very sorry to say, by then it will be far too late.

TOM

In pajamas all day

Mark and Ann were progressive parents, who practiced progressive parenting. Not one’s willing to introduce negative speak patterns into their toddler Timmy they chose to use the word: not instead of the word: no. The hope was it would lay the ground work for reasoning framework that would serve a non-binary outcome, over ego driven self absorbent deflection. We are after all in the age or Trump. The initial interaction with Timmy proved promising. But when Timmy got his tiny hand on the family hand gun, the Not experiment was discontinued. Sadly Timmy had already sent his parents to the cornfield.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert stood in the driveway, folding his arms across his chest. “I’m not going to pack my stuff up. I’m not going to move. I’m going to stay right here.”
His mother put her arm around her husband’s waist. “Come on, Hosmer. Let’s give it some time. Maybe Billbert’s super powers won’t get around, this time.”
“It’s not safe, Honey Buns,” Mr. Wienerheimer said, obviously losing his determination. “People will want to take advantage of the boy.”
“We’ll keep a careful watch,” his mother assured.
Billbert had just dodged a bullet, but he needed to talk to Linoliumanda right away.

PLANET Z

After years of declining voter turnout and ugly negative campaigns, the elections commission racked their brains for a solution.
“We’re changing the ballots,” said the head commissioner. “Instead of voting for a candidate, you will vote against them.”
People cheered the changes.
Candidates increased their negative campaigning.
The media went gangbusters over it, slinging even more mud.
And then came Election Day.
People flocked to the polls.
And then… the results were announced.
“Nobody wins!” said the head commissioner. “Everybody loses!”
The commissioner then ran to the airport to catch a flight to somewhere that wasn’t such a fucked-up mess.

Weekly Challenge #728 – PICK TWO: to hell with the critics, selfie, jute, impossible, do the needful, icon

Sleep

So, I totally forgot a cat photo last week… I make at least one mistake every week, whether it’s the cat photo or not changing pitch on Planet Z or copy-pasting a topic wrong. It happens, and life goes on.

LIZZIE

The radio was on and a tired voice repeated their names. These were the names of poor souls lost forever.
The authorities tried to warn everyone. No one cared. Everyone continued to do as they had always done.
The tears came first. They thought it was due to too much exposure to flash lights.
And then they simply disappeared into thin air, as happened when the light is turned off and darkness takes over.
The radio repeated the names because they were considered missing persons, but they weren’t missing. They were gone. They were gone into unbearably impossible killer selfies.

RICHARD

Review

“To hell with the critics!” I shouted, throwing the newspaper across the room, I stomped to the drinks cabinet, and poured myself a large whisky.

What did they know about acting anyway? Closeted away with their typewriters in their smoke filled offices, and only let out when the editor wanted fresh blood to spill across the theatre pages.

Every director knows it’s an impossible task to impress a critic, besides, it wasn’t even me at fault: The cast was rubbish.

Resolute, I headed back to the rehearsal, I’d make those kids perform a decent nativity play, if it killed me!

SERENDIPITY

“Mind if I take a selfie with you?”

I knew you’d agree. I’m sure it’s something you get asked countless times a day; one of the downsides of being a screen icon. Yet still, you wrap an arm around the shoulders of your adoring fan, and smile happily for the camera.

But, surprisingly, you’re not smiling now?

I know the cable ties are painfully tight, and the bruises will now be starting to throb, but surely you can make the effort to squeeze out one little smile?

It’s only a selfie, after all.

And I am your number one fan.

TOM

Soon Cabin Fever Will Take ME

Bernie want to do the impossible selfie. Something so beyond the pale it would leave the great part of the world slack jaw in wonder. The first order of business is where to take the shot. The next was who should be in the frame, for though selfie implies singularity, it is all but that, include a vast array to persons. The last element is the distribution of this seminal work of art. You might think the net would be the logical place, so pre Corona. Viral is the new viral. Bernie is calling it Bernie 19. Not funny dude.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert and his father watched the Fararri drive away. “Okay son. I know you’re young and you didn’t mean to do anything wrong. But the mistake was made and now you have to do the needful thing and go pack up your room. We’ll be in another state by Monday morning.”
“This is impossible, Dad. I’m a teenager. I can’t just pack up and move,” Billbert whined. “I’ve got friends here, and a math test on Monday.”
Mr. Wienerheimer shook his head. “It goes with the territory. Maybe next time you’ll be a little more discrete when using your powers.”

PLANET Z

How do you take a selfie?
Simple, really.
Hold up the phone, tap the reverse camera icon, and smile.
You can put your phone on a selfie stick and use voice commands, too.
But a lot of places ban selfie sticks. They’re dangerous, right?
And people will use voice commands on you.
“Put away that selfie stick!” for example.
Maybe they’ll take it away and break it.
Maybe they’ll grab it and try to shove it up your ass.
As you lay there, in agony…
People will run up to you.
Not to help. But take a selfie with you.

Weekly Challenge #727 – DEVICE

LIZZIE

“This is a magical device. You open it and things jump at your face and hit your eyes. As you touch it, you may have an allergic reaction and sneeze, especially if the device is quite old. But… beware. You must hide it. You must hide it carefully. This device was brought to us millions and millions of years ago by the humans.”
“What could jump out of it?”
“Dust.”
“Human dust?”
Nods.
“But also words, and ideas, and doubts, and questions.”
“Human questions?”
“No, just questions.”
“Will they make me smile?”
“Yes, they’ll make you smile a human smile.”

RICHARD

Call me…

“The hand-held device is dead!”

The guy on the stage beamed broadly at us, as we waited expectantly for our first view of the iPhone 25XL.

Unexpectedly, an x-ray picture appeared on the screen.

“This,” he continued, “is my body, which through applied nanotechnology, takes all the functionality of a traditional phone, and organically manipulates my body to replicate them.”

“My ears – programmed to receive calls… My eyes, to capture images… And my brain offers unlimited storage capacity!”

“It is a work in progress though…” – he looked sheepish.

“You really don’t want to know where we plug the charger in!”

ZACKMANN

Good news, I got my children to listen to The Mutual Audio Drama Network podcast. Bad news, when Jack talked about things people could do in isolation my children just heard the “Practice Magic” part and nothing else on his list. Sadly, when I left them to their own devices they summoned a demon into our garage. .

Not sure what to do. The demon offered me great wealth for half of what remains of the Costco size bag of toilet paper in the garage which I bought before the quarantine because it thinks it can buy a soul per roll.

SERENDIPIDY

Your train is fitted with a device which locks both doors and brakes in the event of a breakdown. This is why you are currently stationary and cannot leave the train.

The train heading towards you at seventy miles per hour is also fitted with a safety device, which will automatically apply the brakes in good time if an obstacle is detected on the track ahead.

Unfortunately for you, I have disabled that device.

I therefore regret to inform you that your next stop will be the afterlife.

Please have tickets ready for inspection, as death passes along the carriage.

TOM

ONE more Be-Day

A wise guy once said: How can yous know de holy unless yous known the de vice. I think dat was de Marquis de Sade, but de quotes was: In order to know de virtue, we must first acquaint ourselves with de vice. His acquaints must come from Brooklyn. Nay is think they’re from Jersey Shores. Will that explains the de vice part those guys down there are pretty twisted bunch. Ya, I knew this girl from Seaside Heights the things she could do with a Bic lighter would make your eye roll back in your head. AAh Sweet de vile.

TURA

Device
——–
Ever since near-disasters with self-improving AI, the Ministry of Devices exercises strict control over the ingenuity of inventors. Anything that can make more of itself is forbidden. Nothing may run indefinitely without human intervention. Turing completeness is especially outlawed. Machines must be simple, understandable devices, performing clear, limited tasks, and dependent on human supervision.

Even then, unforeseen combinations of devices on occasion produce an emergent mind, and then we battle to prevent it from consuming us for its own unknowable purposes.

A machine to analyse the entire device ecosystem to prevent this would necessarily be the most forbidden of all.

NORVAL JOE

“Before you go, look at this,” Billbert’s dad said, taking a pen from his pocket and holding it up.
Marissa covered her eyes and ran for the car. “Don’t look at it dad. It’s a memory wiping device.”
Mr. Albroggetti scowled. “It’s just a pen.”
“Is it?” Mr. Wienerheimer asked. “Have you never seen, Men in Black?”
“I don’t waste my time with garbage like that,” Mr. Albroggetti said.
“Good.” The top of the pen flashed a blinding blue light.
Bilbert’s father took Mr. Albroggetti by the arm. “Thanks for coming over,” he said, guiding the man to his car.

PLANET Z

We found the device on the dark side of the moon.
Buried under tons of rock.
There were instruction on how to power it and activate it.
But nothing about what it did.
No matter how much we examined it, we couldn’t figure it out.
People speculated, but nobody really knew.
The technology was just far too beyond ours to understand.
So, we buried it again.
And built a relay station on top of it.
Nobody will know it’s there.
Or ever be tempted to use it.
I’ve set this shuttle’s engines to explore on liftoff.
Nobody will tell anything.