Weekly Challenge #804 – Over to you…



The Tale of Nasty Nate
‘Thomas Jefferson established a precedent in 1801 with the Barbary pirates, and I will not change tack with these Somali pirates: the United States of America does not kowtow to pirates. We will utilize all strategic force at our disposal to bring the crew and their ship home.’

“Tough words. Over to you, Kathy.”

“Thanks, Phil-“

Nathan didn’t hear Kathy’s news report. He was lost in imagination: pirates are still real:

|Captain Nasty Nate was a salty sea dog. Not a ship we’re a-sail what didn’t quake are the sight of his Jolly Roger.

“Avast, ye whelps, and heave to!”


Billbert didn’t think it was right that Sabrina should be unfairly labeled. “This isn’t fair that people should treat you so badly. You ought to complain to the principal or the PTA or someone.”
Sabrina shook her head in resignation. “There’s no sense fighting it. It’s over. I’ll just live with it as it is.”
Billbert filled with righteous indignation. “It might be over to you, but it’s not to me. I won’t stand for this.”
A sad smile crossed Sabrina’s face. “What are you going to do, Billbert? Make a big deal and get labeled a freak like me?”


What Could Go Possible Wrong 004

Ford changed his angle of direction by 5 degrees, swinging wide of the
library and toward the athletic field. “ Remember the 97 game,” mused
Cervantes. Ford caught the shadow of sphere making its way towards
Arnesto’s head. Up field a voice yelled “ Over to you.” A underclassmen
slid just below Arnesto’s arm. Without so much a glance he block the man
and caught the ball. As the pone play looked up Arnesto caused the ball
to dance across his back knuckles. “Show Off.” chirped Ford. “Gifted Ford,
most favored by God.” He drop the ball on the underclassman’s nose.


Vlad was tired of the killing people business.

He’d started to find the shooting and slashing, garrotting and gashing had become somewhat distasteful, and he was fed up with washing bloodstains out of his decent shirts.

He couldn’t quit though; the money was just too good.

Neither could he trust others to do his dirty work for him: You couldn’t get decent staff these days, and those who were any good were too costly.

So, he built himself a supervillain lair, complete with shark tank and trapdoor.

“Over to you, boys” he’d chuckle, as he pressed the big red button.


hey sat in silence, the three of them, in a luxurious room that was not meant for them.
“We tried.”
Outside, everyone scrambled to save themselves.
“Yes, we did.”
The icy water didn’t stop people from jumping.
“Why bother?”
“We could make it.”
“You think?”
They laughed and held up their glasses filled with the best whiskey.
And they sat in silence again.
Suddenly, they heard a deafening noise.
Water. Lots of water.
They knew the end was near.
“Bottoms up, boys!”
“Over to you…” And they looked up. They had never believed in God.
Fear changes everything, doesn’t it?


A to G Major

Some would say grandpa was a brilliant composer, but lacking imagination in other areas.

He couldn’t, for example, be bothered with naming his compositions, preferring instead to file them alphabetically in an old filing cabinet in his study.

A bit quirky, but I suppose some of the greatest composers simply gave their pieces a number… Beethoven’s Fifth, anyone?

My personal favourite was ‘Jazz Variations B to C’, but his greatest commercial success was his rock opera ‘D’.

You may not be familiar with it, but I bet you’ve heard its iconic opening number, used in countless movie soundtracks: ‘Overture U’!



A smile crawled across his face, and as he threw down a full house, Aces over Jacks, he announces, “It’s over to you.”

She hated how the Kilarkins still butchered Earth’s languages, but laying down her royal flush she responded with, “No, it’s over to you.” She could see the disappointment in his face as she only had her bra and panties left to wager.

Realizing he had lost, this towering humanoid stood and removed his last piece of clothing. She had to fight not to laugh as she now understood why all of their women were dating Earth men.


Towards the end of his news anchoring career, Don Bobson’s dementia was bad.
He’d look away from the cameras and talk to his cohorts about whatever was on his mind.
The weather, the game.
How much his latest girlfriend pissed off his ex-wife.
The station offered to buy out Don’s contract, but he refused to step down.
Cutting him loose would cause a huge stink in the community and ratings.
So, they built a second studio and hired a replacement.
Running two newscasts at the same time.
One went out on the air.
And the other, Don.
Reading to nobody.

Weekly Challenge #803 – Doubtful



We looked at the letter, a small candle leading our doubts.
“He disappeared such a long time ago,” my friend said.
I nodded and reread the letter.
“Maybe this is an old letter, written a long time ago,” she insisted.
I nodded, my brain going over every detail. I knew he hadn’t written the letter.
“Did you tell anyone?” she asked in a whisper.
I shook my head.
“Then I shall clear our names,” she barked.
“Our names?” I asked, a grin on my face. “You mean… your name.”
We had buried him that night.
But I wrote the letter.


Mrs Doubtful

I got the idea from that Robin Williams’ movie.

Like his character, I was desperate to see my kids, and would do whatever it took to achieve that; even if it meant dressing as a woman, adopting a fake accent and fooling the ex into employing me as a housekeeper.

I called myself, Mrs Doubtful – mainly because, I didn’t think the plan would work.

How right I was.

The family court decided that a crossdressing fantasist, willing to employ deception to gain entry to his estranged wife’s property was definitely not the sort to be around children.

Not a chance!


What Could Go Possible Wrong 003

Ford did not slow or quicken his step. A wry smile settled on his lips,
the product of a rising string of memories. Without turning Ford said,
“Doubtful is day will end in quiet repose. Arnesto, will I need one are
two bags?” “Oh, Ford why do you think travel when I appear. Couldn’t this
be just an opportunity for two very old friends to exchange pleasantries?
“ “Not where you’re toting that vermilion case.” “Oh, this silly thing.
Nothing more than … “ “ A charge from the Queen of England.” “Found me
out old man, where can we talk.


Billbert scratched his head and asked Samantha, “If it wasn’t your parents that caused everyone to avoid you, was it your grandparents, or who do you live with, anyway?”
Samantha took a deep breath and some of the redness faded from her cheeks. “I’ve lived with my aunt since I was just a baby. She’s a little eccentric, and because of that, everyone is afraid I am too.”
“You don’t seem strange to me. Can’t you show them you’re not like her?” Billbert asked.
Sabrina shook her head. “Once you’ve been given a label it’s doubtful that anyone would even listen.”


The priest seemed a little doubtful of his abilities when it came to dealing with the demonic.

He stood over my bed, where I lay, restrained and bound tightly by my wrists and ankles, then nervously muttered a few words of prayer, before waving his bible in my general direction, and sprinkling a spritz of holy water over my forehead.

It was clear that he had little faith in his actions.

When I tore free from my bonds, vomited in his face, and crawled across the ceiling, he howled in terror and ran screaming from the room.

As if possessed!


Billy was what they called a self-taught artist.
Historians call it a naive or primitive style.
He painted for years before he was discovered by the New York Times art critic.
After that, everything Billy painted, it sold.
And it sold for a lot of money.
Billy was too busy being rich and famous to paint.
So, he designed, and other painters painted for him.
By the time Billy died, the shill art critic was revealed to have gotten a cut of the money.
The painters were all shunned for being in on the scam.
And Billy’s paintings were burned.

Weekly Challenge #802 – PICK TWO Full, Where did they go?, Barrel, Your call, Universally, Joint, Some might say…

WiFi interference


The Universal Joint
At the Universal Joint, you can get anything you want, if it’s about pot. Bongs, pipes, rolling papers. Hippie tie-dye clothing, hippie beads, 60s psychedelic posters, acid zines, spacey meditation CDs, Indian inspired jewellery, Tibetan prayer flags, everything.

You want hash? How about our cannabis beers and wines? Hemp petits fours? Hemp seed cooking oil? Hemp moisturising cream? A daily journal, hand-made from hemp fibre paper? Hemp briquettes for your wood-burning stove?

What, you want to ”get high”? Be off with you, young man, before I call the police! This is a respectable neighbourhood, we don’t want potheads around here!



The atmosphere was tense as we faced each other, unblinking, across the table.

He slowly took a bullet from the box, inspected it carefully, then slipped it into the chamber, snapping the barrel closed, and giving it a good spin, before gently placing the piece down again.

“So, d’ya wanna go first, or second? Your call, bro, I’m easy.”

By way of a reply, I took hold of the gun, held the barrel to my head, and pulled the trigger.

There was a click, then silence.

I slid the gun across the table.

Then watched him blow his brains out.


Some might say that nothing changed. The empty room was still empty. The beautiful view was still beautiful. The cranky neighbor was still cranky. When I asked the neighbor why you weren’t picking up the phone, he shrugged. “But where did she go?” I asked and he walked away. I just stood there, in the middle of an empty room, looking at the beautiful view, wondering. I still had that photo we took together in Brazil, laughing like two lunatics, two happy lunatics. When I terminated the lease on the apartment, I noticed that B, drawn on the dusty kitchen counter.


Where did they go?

Well, some of them, I chopped up and fed them to the local stray dogs, others, I threw into the river, weighted down with concrete blocks, whilst for those a little more off the beaten track, it was a shallow, unmarked grave.

There’s a million ways to dispose of a body, if you know what you’re doing.

Some methods, of course, are more effective than others, and for excellent results every time, I highly recommend the good old fashioned acid bath.

I’ve got a body brewing in one right now, in a barrel out the back.


“It was the Fall of new century,” dryly stated Ford, “Oxford was turning
brown, swirls of leaves drifted around my feet.” Hamilton interjected:
“Before the rebels took the campus?” Ford looked off to his right trying
to assemble space into a responsive time. “Yes, dear boy. A gentler time,
before the barrels on the roofs. But that would be another tale. Perhaps
later?” “Where was I … oh on my way to the library. I had just made it
the door when I hear a voice over my shoulder.” “Some might say a strong
wind blows against the empire.”


The noise in the lunch room and the distance the rest of the students universally kept allowed Billbert and Sabrina to talk openly.
“The other students have treated you this way your whole life?” Billbert asked. “Is it because your parents are…magic users?”
Sabrina shook her head, “Full disclosure. My parents haven’t been in my life for many years.”
Before he could realize he was putting his foot in his mouth, Billbert asked, “Where did they go?”
Her face turned a dangerous shade of red. “Some might say they weren’t cut out for parenting and chose to pursue other interests.”


Cheesy Meatball Mushrooms

I wouldn’t know, but if you’ve consumed the gentle herb, try these:

6 Brown mushroom caps, minimum 1” across, no stems

3 Meatballs, cooked and split

2 Tablespoons EVOO

2 Teaspoons kosher salt

3 Tablespoons marinara sauce

¼ cup of Italian blend shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400*F

Toss mushroom caps in oil and place upside down on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 12 minutes, or until softened.

Spoon proportional amounts of marinara sauce into caps. Place meatball half, round side down, into sauce. Cover each with cheese. Finish baking for 6 minutes, or until cheese is melted.


Some street hustlers and table magicians use the traditional three playing cards for Three Card Monte scams.
Others use cups and balls, from cheap Red Solo cups to brushed silver cups.
They let you win the first time, then reel you in.
I know this guy who uses a lit joint instead of the ball.
Shuffles the cups around, the mark feels the cups and lifts the warm one.
Then they look up, and see the joint in the guy’s mouth.
Another guy uses big barrels and a bowling ball.
But no matter what they use, they’ll get your money.

Weekly Challenge #801 – Where do I begin?




Where do I begin

to tell the story

of how great

a love can be,


that’s not how the story goes.

They left me here,

It was to be a quick survey of the planet but no, the other crew must play a prank on poor old

Engineer Technician #2

“Oh Look” they said “Over there in the clearing, isn’t that a category #10 structure?”

Of course, my curiosity gets the better of me and off I go to check it out.

And away they go, leaving me behind again.

Well, it’s time for ET to phone home again.


“Maybe they want… No, they don’t. They just want information, nothing else. That’s why they are sitting in that shabby hut. I can smell them from here. They just want a snitch and I’m no snitch. I am committed to the cause. This small house by the river is the perfect place to keep an eye on them. They have no idea I’m here. None.” And he chuckled.
When the window shattered, a single shot coming from the shabby hut, he fell.
“Where do I begin…” said the sniper at his debriefing. “If you hesitate, you’re done, and he hesitated.”


Short story

Experience has taught me that most writers these days are pretty good at opening chapters – they are, after all, the bait to lure both publishers and readers in – but things often go rapidly downhill from there.

I’ve lost count of the number of books where I’ve reached the final pages, and it’s abundantly clear that the author doesn’t have a clue how to wrap things up or come to a decent conclusion.

So, I always begin at the end, and if the final chapter is pretty compelling, there’s a good chance the rest of the book is worth reading too.


What Could Possibility Go Wrong #001

Hamilton pulled up a stately winged leather chair next the white hair old
man. His advanced age made him appear a cross between Santa and Einstein.
Yet on closer examination the bright blue of ageless eyes signaled a near
nefarious intent. Unfolding the weather note book, Hamilton began the
interview will the same question the public at large had been dying to
know since Maximum Ford had walked out Rift. Or should I say Sir Ford
second Time Lord of the Queen: Where is Arnesto Cervantes? Hoarsely Ford
replied,” Where do I begin.” And he did much to Hamilton surprise.


Where do I begin?
At the age of seventy-five I decided to write my autobiography, being full of years and accomplishments, yet still reasonably expecting time enough to complete the task. But where to begin?

My own birth would be the obvious place, but first I would have to give some account of my parents, and then the cultural circumstances that brought them together. But that implied a whole social history of their era, and the deep tides of civilisation that produced it, which in turn— and so on.

After long consideration, I wrote the first words. “Fourteen billion years ago, the universe began.”


799/800: Questionable Accounting
The accounting system for thoughts and opinions is rather confusing. Someone asking for your opinion is worth ‘a penny for your thoughts’. But sharing an opinion unbidden, one ‘offers their two cents’. Is the one cent difference a penalty for not waiting to be asked? Or are they both just starting positions for negotiations? I offer my two cents; do you haggle to pay me less? You offer me a penny for my thoughts, do I hold out for more? What if the extra penny is actually supposed to be funding all the nickels someone gets for ‘every time they…’?

801: The Stuttering Storyteller
It all started the night I caught her sneaking out on me a month ago. I had noticed her behavior had become erratic and had grown suspicious. I guess that means it started before then.

So, I would have to say it started a few months before, when I noticed her schedule became unpredictable. She was very reliable in terms of when I could expect her home. At least, ever since she changed shifts at work. Although now that I put it like that, maybe that’s where to begin. Anyway, now she’s dead, and I don’t know who killed her.


Sabrina had been right when she told Billbert that they had all the same classes, and he followed her from room to room. She had also been truthful when she said the other students all spoke behind her back.
They sat together at lunch and it was clear the other students were giving the two of them strange looks.
Billbert asked, “What happened that these people want to treat you so badly?”
Sabrina sighed and stared sadly at her tuna fish sandwich, “Where do I begin? I’ve lived here my whole life and people have always treated me this way.”


Where do I begin?

Usually just below the nape of the neck: A long, straight cut along the ridge of the spine, finishing in the small of the back.

Precision is everything, cut too deep and they bleed profusely, too shallow and you’ll tear the skin.

You’ll want to be able to peel it apart at the shoulders, draw it forward and slide it from their arms, like removing a wetsuit.

Be sure to administer morphine, or their screams will distract you.

Finally, when they’re properly peeled, slip yourself into their skin, and see what it’s like being somebody else.


Where do I begin? asked God to nobody.
God started with a giraffe.
It thrashed about and then floated limply through the void.
“Bummer,” said God.
God made a few billion more giraffes, and they all did pretty much the same thing.
Giraffes floated around and bumped into each other.
“That didn’t work out so well,” said God.
God pondered somewhere to put the giraffes.
And created the heavens and the earth.
Dead giraffes plummeted from the heavens to earth, making a mess.
God eventually edited this part out from the official version of Genesis.
But the giraffes never forgot.

Weekly Challenge #800 – If I had a nickel



If I had a nickel for every time I back-paddled, I’d be rich, he thought. He was the kind of man who never had a clear opinion. He often used the word “potentially”. It sounded grand, but he wanted to be left alone, that’s all. The problem was that he never wished to be a CEO. He just wanted to get the money, which was very good, and paddle his boat around the lake at his mountain cottage. Work was such a waste of time. He sneered and tossed a nickel into the deep dark waters, making a wish… again.



Every day it’s the same, running the gauntlet of all the hobo’s as I make my way to work.

“Can you spare a nickel, sir?”

No, absolutely not!

If I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me if I could spare a nickel… Well, I could probably afford to spare it.

But then what?

I’d be all out of spare nickels, and the next down and out would end up doing without!

So, I’m going to save up my nickels, and if ever I happen to fall on hard times myself, I’ll have plenty going spare for myself.


Cite Your Source
If I had a nickel for every time someone misquoted H. L. Mencken I’d be
able to buy that Tesla I have been lusting after. The quote go like this:
No one in this world, so far as I know—and I have searched the records for
years, and employed agents to help me—has ever lost money by
underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.
I know he was sort of dick in real life. Did much care for chiropractors:
quackery flourishing lushly; he wrote nearly a hundred years ago.He wrote
when a newspaper cost a nickle.


If I had a nickel for every time
I’ve heard all the excuses.

“Sorry I didn’t hand in my homework, the dog chewed it up.”

“…I had to go to China for my grandmother’s funeral.”

“…the computer crashed.”

“…the exercises are impossible, it’s not fair.”

“…I really tried, isn’t that worth something?”

“…a virus ate it.”

“…I was feeling a bit under the weather.”

“…I don’t want to hand in anything less than my best.”

“…I’m triggered by any sort of demand.”

“…I’m problematising the pass/fail binary”

I just tell them, “Hey, if I had a nickel for every time that’s really happened, I’d be flat broke.”


If I had a nickel for every time I tell my kids not to pull faces, I could afford to pay for a child minder.

Unfortunately, I’m stuck with minding them myself, and it sucks!

And now they’re at it again, pulling faces behind my back.

“Don’t do that!” I say, “if the wind changes, you’ll stay that way!”

And they did.

Although it wasn’t exactly wind.

And their faces didn’t exactly stay the same.

It was an industrial hot air paint stripper, wielded by a mother who’d completely lost her sanity.

But they didn’t pull faces again.

They couldn’t!


Billbert grabbed the back of Sabrina’s puffy coat. “Wait. Are you saying you really are a witch?”
She shot daggers from her eyes. “I told you about that witch word. If I had a nickel for every time someone called me that…” She shook her head ruefully. “Well. I’d have a whole sack full of nickels.”
“So, it happens a lot?” Billbert asked stupidly.
She folded her arms. “Do you think it’s weird that I’m talking to you? Someone who doesn’t know me at all? It’s because everyone else, everyone who knows me, only talks to me behind my back.”


I won’t bend down to pick up a penny.
I will bend down to pick up a dime.
But a nickel? Maybe.
Depends on how filthy it is.
A nickel saves you from having to carry five pennies.
And it’s good to scratch a lottery ticket.
But on its own, it’s not really worth much.
Now, if you have a lot of nickels, it’s still not worth much.
So, you can fill a thick sock with them or put them in a plastic roll.
And knock someone out.
Then, take their wallet full of tens and twenties and credit cards.

Weekly Challenge #799 – MISNOMER

Sleepy Tin



I’d been called to the office of the Head of Design Control. I had a feeling it wasn’t to congratulate me on the quality of my work.

He gestured for me to sit and unceremoniously dumped one of my creations on the desk.

“What’s this?” He queried, eyebrow raised enquiringly.

“Oh, that’s my latest design in the ‘Gone Fishing’ series”.

“Yes. But what exactly is it?”

“Erm, it’s an elf.”

“Dickson, this is ‘Gnomes Unlimited’! We produce garden gnomes, fishing gnomes, dancing gnomes. Gnomes of every kind! Not elves, not orcs, not dwarves!”

“So, as for these elves… Let’s see gnome more!”


They called her Butterfly not because she was gracious but because she liked to see things fly. Often enough, people had to scatter in all directions when something came flying towards them. When she upgraded from apples and pears to dishes, someone yelled “not the butter”. She couldn’t care less and off it flew, the dish with the butter on it. It flew straight towards the head of the good old fisherman. He was never the same again. His grumpiness disappeared and he only had eyes for Butterfly who, still today, keeps making things fly. Her latest achievement… a bicycle!


It would be something of a misnomer to call me evil.

Weird, dangerous, perverse, cold, calculating and unfeeling are certainly words that could be aptly applied, but evil? Not at all.

If we’re being scientific about it, then you could almost certainly define me as psychopathic and sociopathic, neither of which, I would argue, necessarily make me evil.

You see, to be evil, one requires a sense of morality. Without it, how can I know whether my intentions and actions are immoral, wrong or downright nasty?

What you class as evil, is perfectly normal to me.

I think, I’m lovely!


Close But No Banana

How can you be under a misnomer? Further can you be over or between a
misnomer? Exactly how many prepositions can you interact with? I could
spend all day in this loop, deeply drilling down through context, or is
that content? Basically, we live in the land of misnomers. Failing of
update and cling to social nomenclature so we can coalesce in a group
consensus. Take the singular use of “they” not a they is a group, I mean
are. No they is a young non-bin girl-boy. Or is that a girl-boy. Is they
now a ubermisnomer or a hypernomer?c


Billbert followed the strange girl down a crowded hallway. He cleared his throat. “I’m Billbert. What’s your name?”
She flashed him a smile. “I’m Sabrina.”
He laughed. “Like the teenage witch?”
Her smile was much weaker now. “Yes. Like that. But witch is such a misnomer. It implies we throw newt’s eyes and chicken gizzards into a boiling cauldron.”
Billbert swallowed with difficulty. “Huh?”
Sabrina stopped. “Look. I’m just a girl with specail talents. Is that so hard to understand?”
Billbert shook his head. “No. I understand better than you’d expect.”
She pointed at a door. “Good. Here’s our class.”


The whole class had the wrong names.
Joy was a miserable child.
Chastity was a total flirt.
Angel was a total devil.
Christian was a sinful boy.
And Faith and Hope had none.
Honor was a deceitful little shit.
Scarlet was a pale shade of blue.
Grace was clumsy as hell.
Autumn was born in the spring.
So was Winter. And Summer.
Melody and Harmony couldn’t sing for shit.
Rose, Daisy, and Jasmine all smelled like garbage.
River and Brook couldn’t swim.
Only one kid had the right name.
Amber sat in the corner, encased in a glassy tan resin.

Weekly Challenge #798 – DISCARD




Over the last two years what has kept me sane, while sheathed in place and
a half dozen gigs getting canceled is: the practice. Run tricks over and
over. Refining the patter, removing steps, shifting point of view. Moving
from process, to practice, to presentation has been leaps of effort. I’ve
discovered I have a deep river of fear, that the brain is not aware of,
but the hands sure are. I can’t even duplicate the tremors in my fingers
while I seem to be totally at rest. Luckily I can fall back on the
knowledge about Dis Card though.



My uncle Albert is the worst magician in the world.

Let me give you an example of just how bad his tricks are: He’d shuffle some cards, hold them out and ask me to pick a card, any card.

Then he’d remove my card, put it face down on the table and discard the rest of the deck, before pointing at the remaining card with a flourish and asking, “Is that your card?”

It all ended very badly though…

Last week, he tried the classic ‘detachable thumb’ trick.

After the hospital re-attached it, he vowed never to do magic again.


Warm and cozy. Discard.
Tea brewing. Discard.
Books and more books. Discard and discard.
That’s what he had said. Discard.
But she loved her warm cozy room. Books were her life. How could she discard all she cared for?
And then she would hear his voice, roaring inside her head, discard, discard, discard.
Had he discarded everything too, she asked in a barely audible voice. He turned to face her. If looks could kill…
Discard, you hear me.
And she did.
Becoming a secret agent was not for her, but they sure taught effective ways of.. getting rid of anything.


I’m very proud of my green credentials!

I try not to throw anything away, and do my best to restore, recycle, repurpose and reuse things that most people would treat as junk.

It makes me feel good, so much so that I’m more than happy to collect all the crap in the neighbourhood that other people discard, and recycle that too.

Especially what they abandon in the local cemetery. All of that good meat going to waste… It’s a crying shame.

Not any more though!

And my new meat pie business is doing a roaring trade too!

Totally environmentally friendly!


‘No Free Lunch Goes Unpunished’

Speeding down another side road, he checked his rear-view mirror again in a way only obsessive paranoia can provoke. He again replayed the linchpin moment his life now pivots on:

“I found a tool bag after the last time one of you guys was here. ‘S’it yours?” The office manager casually gestured to a tattered canvas tool bag sagging in the corner, my employer’s faded logo on the side.

I didn’t know who left it, but then I thought ‘Hey, free tools!’ So, I gave a nod, shook his hand, and loaded it onto my cart.

Shouldn’t have looked inside…


Billbert was speachless at the girl’s odd response. What more could she help him with, besides showing him to his homeroom class?
He held up the paper. “All I really need is to get to my homeroom.”
She smiled again. Her teeth appeared unnaturally white. Was it because of her glowing yellow eyes? “You can get rid of the paper. I’m in all of your classes. You can follow me.”
Billbert wasn’t ready to discard his schedule just yet. She’d hardly looked at it and he wanted to insure that she was taking him to the correct rooms each time.


There’s a bronze statue in the middle of the university of some wise old man standing there, one hand holding a scroll and the other arm outstretched, palm up, gesturing to something.
One Friday afternoon, the students put a six pack of beer in his palm.
A tradition was born.
Every Friday afternoon, a six pack of beer appears.
At first, some student would put it there.
Then, increasingly elaborate ceremonies.
Runners relaying the beer around campus like an Olympic flame.
The thing is, nobody has ever seen what happens to the beer.
One moment it’s there, then it’s gone.

Weekly Challenge #797 – PICK TWO Can you help me?, Enough, Market, Trial, Bundle, The noise is driving me mad!, Inventory

NOTE: I am transferring the domain to a new registrar and there may be a disruption in the website and server for a few days. Watch the Twitter and Facebook feeds for more information.



“Can you help me? The noise is driving me mad.”
“But you’re already mad, aren’t you?”
“Am I?”
“Yes, you are!”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh, for sure.”
“Your hair wants cutting.”
“What? We were talking about being mad.”
“I know, and your hair makes me mad.”
“I haven’t the slightest idea. It just does. If you knew time as well as I do… ”
“You wouldn’t waste it.”
“Not it. Him.”
“I’m confused.”
“So am I.”
“Is this a riddle?”
“Yes. Have you guessed it yet?”
“No. What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea. And I’m still mad.”


Lost in the souk

They were laughing at me… The group on the corner.

Hardly surprising. This was about the fifth time I’d passed this way in the last twenty minutes. As nonchalant as I tried to appear, they knew just as well as I that I was hopelessly lost and simply wandering round in circles.

I’d been warned, of course: Don’t try exploring the market without a guide, you’ll get hopelessly lost, and probably robbed and beaten in some dark alleyway.

In desperation, I ducked into a shop and pleaded with the shopkeeper, “Can you help me?”

Slowly, sadly, he shook his head.


Limited Offer

The add read: limited Offer until supplies run out. Free to the first two
dozen participants. Sam not being one to miss out on anything smacking of
free. Headed down to the listed address. When he got there the parking lot
was empty, say for a single large truck. A guy leaned out the back and
yelled: Next. Sam stepped up and guy drop a bundle of sticks on top of
him. “What with the bundle of sticks?” he yelled back. “Technically that’s
a faggot.” said the man pointing due north. Sam trudged off in the into
the gathering mist.


He set a bundle of notes down, and slid them slowly across the table top.

“It’s not enough” I said. “Nowhere near enough!”

“If you want to see your daughter alive again, you need to do a lot better than that! A lot better! You have three more days.”

The man left. He’d be back in three days, and I’d take his money, but he still wouldn’t see his daughter alive again.

No amount of money would suffice for that.

She’d been dead for a week already, and when I’d finally fleeced him for all he had.

So would he.


The following day being Monday, Billbert showed up at the Catherine L. Zane Middle School for his first day of classes in Eureka. His mother had taken an inventory of the items in his backpack, signed him into the new school, and thinking she had done enough, sent him on his way.
The bell rang and everyone hurried off in different directions except for one red headed girl in a puffy white jacket. She watched Billbert approach.
“Um. Can you help me find my homeroom class?”
She smiled with bright amber eyes. “I can do that. And so much more.”


Mysterious Noises
Dozens of embassy staffers were affected: nausea, headaches, dizziness and vertigo… Some of our allies had diplomats who were likewise incapacitated. Our intelligence officers couldn’t find anything about the expats of their allies or any of their local citizens who got sick. Our intelligence director has liaised with the top intelligence officers from the other impacted states, as well as multiple covert-ops chiefs and some off-the-books white hats. According to everything we know, no one on Earth has tech that can accomplish this without being detected. The energy signatures alone would give them away. The noise must come from somewhere…


Every week, the market took inventory to see if they had enough of everything.
It also helped them to track loss due to theft or spoilage.
At first, the workers went down each aisle with a clipboard.
Then, they used tables and scanners to update a central databank.
Finally, a robot drone went around with a camera.
Sure, it was expensive, but over time it was far cheaper than the team of workers with tablets.
And it was noisy, but the manager ran it overnight and got the results first thing in the morning.
It also scared away the rats.

Weekly Challenge #796 – Letter



The Letter

The letter was waiting for me on the kitchen table.

I collapsed, bleary-eyed and hungover into the nearest chair, fumbling for the envelope, then hesitated.

My name, written in her precise hand, with that distinctive, thick underline, was more of a statement than a mere word. An accusation, oozing venom and anger.

The letter fell from my fingers, but it was my senses that were numb and unfeeling.

Like countless others preceding it, this letter would remain unread, and I would move on.

Time for another relationship, another failed attempt…

And, eventually, another letter left on my kitchen table. cc


What’s the color of a letter? Is an A a whispered amber? Is a B a bitter lemon? He didn’t know.
But he kept writing those letters, his stories told in the tones of the chosen color.
The woman at the stand would smile benevolently and nod.
One day, “I have mail for you!” the envelope marked C! Cosmic latte, he said and they chuckled.
She already had many more letters ready and she hoped he’d skip the D, too many dark and deep colors in that one.
He never figured out it was her and she continued to smile.


Deep Mem

I do not like needles. I remember my first experience with the damage
done. It’s 1950s and the Gov has got this great idea. Round up all the kid
in a school gym. A spot, usually on the upper arm, is scraped by a lancet,
so that the outer layers of the epidermis are removed; the spot is then
rubbed with an ivory point, quill or tube, carrying the virus. A slight
and usually unimportant illness follows, and the arm is sore for a time, a
characteristic scar remaining. At the time I wonder why everyone was


Well I cleared my 2nd billion dollars today. Oh thous sweet sweet
bitcoins. Got in on the start. Road it up and down. Got nerves of steel.
So what am I going to do will out that moo-la? Thought about it for some
time and final came up with a way to guarantee my place in history. I
purchase a letter. I don’t mean a page of writing. I bought a letter. I
now am the proud own of the letter “Q”. It mine. Want to uses it? It won’t
cost much. A mere 5 cents apiece will do.


I’ve always wanted to send a ransom letter. Not a boring email, or anonymous typed sheet of paper, but one of those exciting ones, composed from cut-out newsprint, and a bloody thumb print for a signature.

It would accompany a small cardboard box, containing a carefully gauze wrapped severed ring finger.

I’d have it all delivered by courier direct to the chief of police; timed to land on their desk along with their morning coffee and sugar-glazed donut.

You may think that’s clichéd, and maybe it is.

But you can’t deny, it’s the proper way to do things.


October 3rd. That is the day I die. All heart and brain function will be stopped for an hour.

I am expected to fully recover, but in case I don’t I’ve prepared.

I wrote letters to people and confessed my secrets and sins to them. All the scams, lies, and infidelities have been laid bare.

Of course, if I survive, no one is supposed to read the letters. I’ll collect them and save them for another day.

If I die a few days later, I have also written a letter to the police. It is a list of possible suspects.


Professor Challenger’s final work baffles every reader, but few now dispute that the carved ornamentation of ancient Ahua is a script, though its letters be hardly carved twice the same way. Alas, those furthering its decipherment reliably go mad, babbling that the world is written in Ahuan, as did that Professor at his end.

Mr. Babbage has lately employed his Analytical Engines to speed the computations. He now claims that the madmen are right: this world is but a vast Engine, and each soul merely the settings of a myriad gear-wheels.

Surely he has succumbed to the Ahuan madness himself!


Billbert took out his phone and snapped a picture of the old house.
His father cleared his throat. “What are you doing, Son?”
“Oh,” he mumbled. “I forgot. I was going to send a picture of the new house to Linoliamanda. I guess I can’t do that, right?”
Both of his parents nodded sadly.
Even though she wouldn’t recognize his new phone number, he couldn’t text her or send her an email. He couldn’t even get out a piece of paper and write Linoliamanda a letter without sending potential leads to the super villain underground.
Eureka was Billbert’s teenage hell.


Her Appointed Rounds

Heart racing, legs pumping, feet pounding, Kayla’s body wants to quit, but she wills herself to keep going. There’s no cover in the streets and her uniform and pack aren’t designed for urban camouflage, so there’s no way to hide; she can only keep moving forward. Her mission is clear: the documents she carries cannot fall into anyone’s hands but the designated recipients’. She clocks a hostile to her right. She avoids tipping off that she spotted him. Her Grumman LLV is 20 yards away; once inside, the dog can’t get her. Only one neighborhood left on her mail route.


There is only one letter in the Bismay Alphabet.
It is the letter Grunt.
It’s pronounced with a grunt.
And drawn with a dash.
Or a dot. Or a splotch.
Just some savage smacking something with something else, really.
Or beating it. Or smashing it.
Sometimes, it’s one Bismay beating the hell out of another.
Hell, they don’t call themselves Bismay.
They just grunt at each other.
Beat their chests.
Beat each other.
That sort of thing.
When they grunted at us, we ran.
Because we didn’t want them beating us, too.
Stay the hell away from that fucking place.

Weekly Challenge #795 – Needle



“Empty. Damn dopehead thief.”
Everyone made faces. The place stunk.
“Where to now? He has to be somewhere.”
Everyone looked at the deserted road.
“We should…”
“Yes, we should do something.”
Everyone looked at the elderly woman, standing at the back, knitting.
“This is no time to be knitting, lady.”
She smiled.
“I know where he is.”
“At my home. I’m helping him. And no one, I mean no one, will touch him. He’s trying.”
“Well, why did you come along in the search party then?”
“Because I like to keep an eye on overly enthusiastic people, let’s say!”



“Just a little prick!” She said, rolling up my shirt sleeve.

“There’s no need to get personal!” I responded, giving her a mischievous wink.

The sour expression on her face told me that my not-so-subtle attempt at humour was not appreciated.

She slid the needle into my arm, depressed the plunger, withdrew and swabbed the spot. It was all over in seconds.

“All done” she exclaimed, and I stood up, pulled my jacket back on and walked towards the door.

As I stepped out into the corridor, she called out behind me…

“You’ve got a cute butt, though!”


They say if you play Stairway to Heaven backwards it has Satanic messages. I tried it with my old stereo, but I didn’t hear anything. Same thing with Another One Bites the Dust. I played all the Beatles albums, Pink Floyd and Black Oak Arkansas. There was nothing recognizable.

Thinking my record needle might be getting old I taped a penny to the top of the arm. I went back through all the records again but still there were no hidden messages. I put on an old Rick Astley album and started turning it in reverse. My mind was blown.


My trade is rather niche: I’m a specialist, one of a kind really, and those who need my services appreciate my eye for detail.

So, what exactly is it that I do?

I dispose of weapons. Weapons used in the course of criminal activity.

I don’t just dump them, I like my methods to have an ironic twist.

Like the piano wire garrotte that I fashioned into a necklace, for example.

My latest is my favourite – A hypodermic needle, used to poison a farmer…

So, how did I dispose of it?

I threw it into one of his haystacks!


After stopping at the real estate agent to get the key, which Billbert thought looked like something George Washington probably used, they pulled up in front of the house.
“Here’s our new home,” Mr. Blanketmaker said with all the enthusiam of a game show host.
“New, Dad?” Billbert asked. “It looks haunted. How old is this place?”
“It was brand new in 1888,” his father laughed. “Come on, Son. It’s got character. Linoliamanda would love it.”
“Don’t needle your son, Hosmer,” his mother said.
Looking at the weatherworn house, Billbert thought his father probably was right. Linoliamanda would love it.


The Red Pill and the Truth
It’s amazing all the stuff ‘They’ don’t want us to know. But I know the Red Pill is available on YouTube. Take this Wuhan Flu and the so-called vaccines. I learned that the Chinese created the virus, and Bill Gates is using their 5G to make tracking chips small enough to fit through the vaccine needles to bring us all under their control. Now, I know people say they can’t get stuff that small, but let me tell you something, Mr. Smarty-pants: I’ve seen ‘Fantastic Voyage’. They shrunk a whole submarine and crew that small. And that was in 1966.


Seattle’s still sore about them stealing the name, but what else could you call the mile-high obelisk that launches the hyperdrive ships? We send them to every promising exoplanet we’ve discovered. The robot ships will mine the planets, and build more ships and space needles to continue the panspermia.

But we still haven’t solved the problem of sending fragile humans through hyperspace. If we can’t survive on Earth either, the endgame will be a galactic network of hyperdrive ports, and empty halls waiting to be discovered by some alien race, to marvel at the glorious beings who did these things.


Every few months, I get blood drawn for some condition or another.
The more blood, the bigger the bruise.
Sometimes, there’s not much of a bruise, and it goes away quickly.
But as I get older, the bruises stay for a week or more.
One day, I know the bruises won’t go away.
The scars. The scores.
The coughing and wheezing.
Blurry vision, bad hearing.
Stumbling around. Falling.
Waking up in a hospital bed with more needles and tubes and wires and bags of fluid and beeping things.
The only thing I’ll get from it all is bills.
And bruises.