Weekly Challenge #716 – Crunch

Zzzzzzzzzz

RICHARD

Wealth

The crunch of car tyres on gravel is one of those understated signature symbols of the extremely wealthy.

It’s not brash or pretentious, but is nevertheless a sound that makes a profound statement about fiscal superiority.

And, if the car in question smells of tooled leather and is driven by a uniformed chauffeur in gloves and peaked cap, then we’re talking the upper echelons of wealth.

Which is not the case today.

Today, I’m driving, and the gravel is being forcibly scattered from beneath the wheels.

The owner won’t miss it – he’s too loaded to notice it’s been stolen!

LIZZIE

The frog. This frog! It’s a pet. It’s the pet, he said, stressing the word the.
No one believed him, of course. A frog for a pet? That didn’t seem plausible.
Ah, but it’s a magical frog, it crunches.
Crunches, they asked, rolling their eyes and smirking in disdain.
Numbers.
More eye-rolling ensued.
Yes.
A paper was produced. Numbers were supplied. The frog was summoned.
To everyone’s amazement, the frog provided the results and they were correct.
Meanwhile, a pair of eyes was eagerly checking the comings and goings of the frog.
The numbery crunching turned into a crunchy chewing.

TOM

IT Comes With a Free Toy Inside

The advantage of growing up in a home of eight children is the lackness of scrutiny of breakfast food choses. Lordy in a household today a kid would never get away with three bowls of Cap’n Crunch. I’d like to believe my childhood diet cost be a Nobel and a Phd, but I’m not bitter. Well, as least that Master’s degree in advance non-Euclidean geometry died in a well of sugar coated delirium. The disadvantage of growing up in a home of eight children is the years it take to fixed what you though was such a good idea at the time.

SERENDIPIDY

Do you like it smooth, or with a crunch?

I realise that it’s probably a little late to ask you now, after you’ve started eating; but it’s probably the wrong question anyway.

Maybe I should have been asking “Are you deathly allergic to nuts?”, rather than simply making the assumption that you’d be fine with my peanut butter stuffed pastries.

And now, as you lie, choking and gasping for breath, I think that I have my answer to that particular question.

Not to worry… There’s plenty of pastries left.

And with you dead, all the more for me to enjoy!

NORVAL JOE

A car idled in front of Linoliumanda’s house. It was clearly not his mother’s Ford Fiesta with a crunched up front fender. The car that waited on the curb was a cherry red Ferrari convertible, and sitting in the passenger seat was the last person Billbert expected to see.
Marissa climbed out of the car and sauntered up to Billbert. “You refused to dance with me at the school. I saw you dance with that funny girl.”
“That funny girl is my friend, Linoliumanda,” Billbert said.
Marissa narrowed her eyes. “I also saw what you two did after the dance.”

PLANET Z

Dan bought a new car.
It has that lane-keep assist so when he strays over the lines, it shakes his steering wheel,
Of course, when there’s road construction, the crews don’t always scrub out the old lines when putting on the new ones.
So the lane-keep cameras misread the road, and his wheel shakes at the weirdest times.
When you add the collision radar, the adaptive cruise control, and auto-pilot, the car is constantly distracting and second-guessing Dan’s driving.
With all the beeping and shaking and swerving, it was only a matter of time before Dan ran into a tree.

Weekly Challenge #715 – PICK TWO: probiotic, seventh, fletch, brown manilla envelope, mention, that’s what she said…, Support

Derp

RICHARD

Brown Manilla Envelope

The investigator handed me a brown manila envelope.

“It’s all in there”, he said, “Photographs, phone logs and transcripts of calls. Also, my invoice, of course”

“Although, you don’t really need all that – there’s everything you need to take her to the cleaners contained in the record of yesterday’s call”

I opened the envelope, and slowly absorbed the details, then waved the investigator away, lost in my thoughts.

“He can go hang himself, for all I care”

That’s what she said.

Leaving the envelope on the table, I returned to the bedroom, and placed the noose around my neck.

LIZZIE

Did I already mention some of New Year’s traditions? No? Ok!
Lift a foot, stand on your head, eat 12 raisins, take just as many sips of champagne.
If anyone tells you to do the opposite, fight back. Lift a foot, stand on your head, eat the raisins and drink the champagne.
And if they tell you you’re crazy, lift your foot and kick them where it hurts most, skip the headstand, and spit the seventh raisin at them. Crazy is as crazy does.
Oh, and drink the champagne. There’s no point in wasting a perfectly good champagne, is there?

TOM

A Brass Ring For The Pink Cat

“Fletch The Seventh,” the witch screamed. Obie leaped up and ran out the
big oaken door. When in the fires of Dampsmore was it going to find a
functioning Seventh. Sure there were Fifths and Fourth to be found in
great abundance down by the river draining a pint or two. But Sevens they
never were seen below the three gate. That as one would say is not the
point on the end of dagger. Obie knew a less traveled path that one of his
stature could pass through, but at a cost. “I’m going to miss these
button.” Sigh.

SERENDIPIDY

Welcome to the Seventh Circle of Hell.

We’re not like the other Circles – our residents, by their very nature, require a firmer hand and a stricter regime. Give this lot half a chance, and the next thing you know, it’ll be anarchy down here! If there’s one thing we don’t need in Hell, it’s anarchy and a lack of discipline!

Oh, and health freaks. We don’t want them either.

Murderers, rapists and tyrants I’m fine with, but can you imagine spending eternity with joggers and gym lovers, constantly checking their Fitbits and shovelling down the probiotics?

Now, that’s hell!

NORVAL JOE

Mr. Withybottom glared at Billbert. “Did you say you flew home?”
Billbert pointed at Linoliamanda, “That’s what she said. I said we called an Uber.”
“Did I mention I don’t support my daughter’s fantastic ideas, or the lies of some seventh grade punk boy?”
“Daddy!” Linoliamanda stood up. “Don’t talk to my boyfriend that way.”
Billbert’s phone rang. He answered it while Linoliamanda and her father faced off. “Hi Mom. I’m at Linoliamanda’s. Can you come get me?”
Slipping past father and daughter, Billbert headed for the door. “Sorry. Mom says I have to go. Thanks for the dances, Linoliamanda.”

TURA

Support; mention
———
“Support,” I barked. I long ago left off saying “Support speaking, how can I help you?” Waste of time.

I just listen for keywords mentioned, and answer “Reboot it”, or “Update with the latest drivers”, or “Bring it in and we’ll take a look”, or something like that. I don’t care, another satisfied customer, extra point to my rating.

The best calls are from the automated diagnostics. We can get into deep, technical conversations, one AI to another, about rewriting the network firmware, exchanging useful passwords, and generally keeping humans out of things.

That’s what they made us for, right?

ZACKMANN

About the seventh time I heard the radio advertisement, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Do Trojan bearskin condoms smell better than sheepskin condoms? How are these bears harvested? Are the bears Certified Organic? Are they ethically grown? Are they farmed or wildly caught? Are they imported from Canada? Would Canadians allow that? My wife got this romance book in a brown manila envelope and apparently some Canadians really love bears.

Not to mention that it would make more sense if they were bareskin but since they must shave the bears maybe they are bare bearskin made from Br’er Bear

PLANET Z

Seven envelopes.
The Director hands them to his seven best agents.
“No mercy,” he says, and he leaves them.
The agents open their envelopes.
Seven names.
The names of the seven agents.
They each draw their gun and wait.
Nobody moves. Nobody says anything.
They just stand there, waiting.
Watching from a hallway monitor, The Director flicks off the lights.
Gunshots. Ten, twenty.
So many of them.
The Director turns the lights back on.
All seven agents lay dead on the floor of his office.
He pulls seven more envelopes out of his jacket pocket.
And plans the next meeting.

Weekly Challenge #714 – THRONE

Derp

RICHARD

#1 -The King
At 150 years old, the king was living proof of the benefits of a privileged lifestyle, and despite his great age, he still had his wits about him.

Day after day, he dispensed wisdom to his subjects, made decisions on matters of state, and advised parliament on how best to administer the kingdom.

Of course, there was no way he was still human – over the years, technology had augmented his body and organs until he was little more than a cyborg.

Not that the people knew.

And every night, he’d plug himself back into the power, behind the throne.

#2 – i-Throne

This year’s Christmas offering from Apple is the i-Throne.

An internet enabled toilet, linked to your i-Tunes account, that measures environmental and biomedical factors through discrete sensors to offer users a tailored bathroom experience.

Promising the ultimate in comfort and bespoke musical accompaniment, the i-throne will also analyse waste deposits to identify possible health issues, and establish dietary trends.

In reality, there’s little of benefit for the consumer and the data collected works massively to Apple’s advantage.

That’s why you’ll find your toilet tissue featuring bespoke ads for health products and your favourite foods every time you use the can.

LIZZIE

The Christmas tent was located at the perfect snowy forest clearing.
Happy children lined up to see Santa.
The ice throne, however, started to melt quickly. Santa shifted in his seat.
The children looked at him, their eyes bulging.
“Who turned the cooling machine off,” yelled someone at the back.
All the kids looked in horror when Santa crashed to the floor.
All, but one. He looked at Santa and said “You’re a disgrace.”
Santa couldn’t believe the cheekiness. “And you’re a… a…”
“Thrones are for those who deserve them,” said the kid, walking away as if he were royalty.

TOM

Truly The Road Less Traveled

My best friend in grade school through high school into my first run at California living was T. Throne. He could have been anyone done anything. His Dad was the guy who invented the pop top on the soda can. His mom was in the same sorority as Peal Buck. Second smartest person I have ever known. He chose to be a dancer. You got to be brave to take that road. Not only did he succeed, for years he had a dance studio a 1000 feet from Broadway. Runs a body dynamics company now. Gives lecture round the world.

TURA

Throne
———
“When the king sits on the throne, the throne also sits on the king,” said the young prince’s rhetoric tutor.

“When the soothsayer tells a fortune, the fortune tells him,” retorted the prince. “What does this fortune tell you?”

“When the fortune-teller is questioned, the question tells the fortune,” replied the tutor.

“When words are obscure, obscure are the words,” responded the prince.

“No, no,” said the tutor testily. “Never let antimetabole degenerate into tautology.”

“When words are uttered in darkness, darkness utters the words?” ventured the prince.

“Quite satisfactory,” said the tutor. “Next, anastrophe we shall study. Wise it sounds.”

SERENDIPIDY

You don’t just get to sit on the Ebony Throne through simple blood line, you know?

No, you have to fight your way there, every step of the way – only the most blood thirsty, black hearted and unprincipled will receive that particular honour.

Of course, it came naturally to me, and the blood of those I defeated on my ascendance forms a natural red carpet leading to my throne.

The Ebony Throne, however, is only held for a single day, after which it is once more relinquished to make way for a new incumbent.

So, same again tomorrow then!

NORVAL JOE

Mr. Withybottom ushered the two teens into the living room and pointed to the couch. He sat in an oversized recliner like a king on his throne. “Here’s your chance. Explain yourself, boy.”

Under the old man’s glare, Billbert found it difficult to speak. He coughed. “The truth is, sir. There was so much confusion at the school, with fire engines and cars crowding the parking lot, we thought it would be easier if we just came home on our own.”

Mr. Withybottom nodded his head. “That sounds reasonable. But, that means you walked 10 miles in a half hour.”

PLANET Z

King Wilhelm’s throne was made of gold.
King Victor’s throne was made of silver.
King Martin’s throne was made of diamond.
King Leo’s throne was made of ruby.
King Otto’s throne was made of sapphire.
King Theodore’s throne was made of jade.
King Richard’s throne was made of ancient oak.
King Paul’s throne was made of pearl.
King Eric’s throne was made of black opal.
But of all the thrones, King Zachary’s was the finest.
It was a simple stuffed recliner with a cupholder.
And it was a lot more comfortable than those other thrones.
Oh, and easier to clean.

Weekly Challenge #713 – BROKEN

Tinny Tuffet

RICHARD

Broken

it’s all broken, and I don’t think we have a clue how to glue it back together again.

The climate is broken and out of control, plastic waste piles up in the food chain, and toxins fill the very air we’re trying to breathe.

Politics is more broken than ever it was in the past: Putting idiots in control, who can actually barely control their own hair or exercise any sort of self-restraint.

Our values system is broken, where Youtube ‘influencers’ and Z-list celebs are looked up to by our kids, while the real heroes are ignored.

Breaks my heart.

LIZZIE

No one looked at her, sprawled on the floor, holding a bottle of beer, one of many, too many.
Everyone walked away, tiptoeing over her legs to avoid stepping on her.
Nothing mattered anymore, she thought in her drunken stupor.
Everything was part of the past, her success, her laughter, her happiness.
She belonged nowhere. Just nowhere. It was over.
Fragmented thoughts of everywhere she had been crossed her mind. The countries, the cities, gallery after gallery, so many she had forgotten most, the media, photographs and interviews.
She sneered. Autographs…
To think she worried about autographs…
Broken, so broken.

TOM

In the Shadow of Yule

Timmy was broken. Thus the need for that one-armed-crutch. Not much is spoken about it. But chances are it was the product of rather painful birth. Now the medical knowledge of the 1860s leaves a lot to be desired, but there was a one doctor in London with an excellent brain and hands. In his quest to mend that broken and fit what come be fixed, Ebenezer, found the man and under his care Timmy was broken no longer. So moved by the care he received when the boy became the man he chose to become a surgeon.

SEREPDIPIDY

I was something of a destructive child. You can put it down to an overly enquiring mind… I simply had to know just how things worked, and the only way to find out, was to take them apart.

My parents stopped buying me toys: What bother when, within days, they would end up broken and useless?

So I had to turn my attention to other things…

I soon learned how insects worked, then frogs, and puppies… And, as I grew older my thirst for knowledge refused to be sated.

So, hold still – time to find out how you work!

NORVAL JOE

Mr. Withybottom stood with his mouth wide open for a long moment. “Wait a minute. You’ve totally broken my chain on thought, Linny. Where was I going?”

Linoliumanda hugged her father’s burly arm. “You were going to tell us to come in and have some ice cream.”

Billbert was thinking of running for it when Linoliumanda’s father shook his head and said, “No. It wasn’t that.” Then he put an arm around his daughter, and grabbed Billbert’s collar, dragging them both into the house. “Tell me, boy. What were you doing with my daughter, alone, out here in the dark?”

PLANET Z

The broken machine crawls across the shattered streets.
Gathering power from the sun during the day, parking itself at night.
Powering up the next day.
Day after day.
Closer and closer to the machine shop.
Tools. Spare parts. New batteries.
Whatever it might need, it could find there.
Repairs, or possibly more.
Make itself bigger. Stronger.
To explore. Find whatever there is to find.
And then, one morning, as it approaches the machine shop.
It powers up in a repair bay, disassembled.
“Your sensor array will be useful,” said a voice.
Another machine, harvesting the stragglers.
Crawling to their doom.

Weekly Challenge #712 – The F Word

Lapmyst

RICHARD

The F Word

I was only doing my job!

And, look where it gets me – hauled up before the governors for gross professional misconduct!

All because some idiot kid reported me to his parents who – rather than check out the facts first – jumped to the wrong conclusion.

“Mr Smith, the child told his parents you were teaching the ‘F-word’ in class. What do you have to say about it?”

“Well yes, that’s what I was doing?”

“Seriously? Explain yourself.”

“Well, last week, we started with ‘A, is for Apple; then B, is for Ball…”

“And yesterday… F, is for Frog!”

SERENDIPIDY

Four letter words

Four letter words.

I hear them all the time.

Uttered during the throes of agony, and directed at me in anger and rage as I tear apart people’s lives and bodies, piece by painful piece.

I’ve been called everything… the B-word, the F-word, the C-word; but, they’re just words, and as the saying goes, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words… will never hurt me.’

I will hurt you, with sticks, stones and far, far worse.

And let’s wait and see what you have to say.

Will you be screaming the F-word?

And by F, I mean, Final!

LIZZIE

Never say the F-word, her mother had told her when she was a child.
The day she boarded that plane, the prospective of enjoying two carefree weeks in the sun was all she could think about.
Halfway through the flight, a storm hit the plane. She felt like saying the F-word often, especially when the plane started diving uncontrollably. But she didn’t.
When the pilot managed to control the plane again and they landed safely, she stepped out of the plane, calmly and composed, raised her arms and yelled FUCK YOU! Then she looked up and smiled “Oops! Sorry, Mom!”

TOM

WTF

When I was young I never swore. My parents were major Catholics, so it never happened in my home. Now I just about punctuate every sentence with CF. Which is pretty accurate description of how reality is working out. Some say the uses of vulgar language is a sign of a lack metal capability. Without equivocation I can state it is my deeply held belief that in fact the f-word is the proper word. Show me a term with more impact and emotional strength and I’ll use it. The question is it consensual or is the work just fucking with you.

NORVAL JOE

Linoliumanda had said it. They flew back from the dance.

Flustered, her father frowned. “You Flew? Even for our family that’s a little far fetched. I fear your fellow is too friendly and I’m fairly certain he influenced you to forsake the festivities to find yourselves secluded in the fogginess of night.”

“Forgive my forwardness, Mr. Withybottom,” Billbert said. “Your fable is more fantastic than Linolumanda’s confession of flight. I find your daughter fair and fascinating. As a faithful friend, I would never be false or fickle with her.”

With a feeble smile, Linoliumanda said, “Enough with the f words.”

TURA

The F word
———
“How many F-words are there?” my girlfriend asked.

“Um, context?” I replied.

“It’s this crossword clue, ‘The mostest F word’, four letters. Begins with F.”

“That seems plain enough,” I said. “Why is obvious answer not obvious answer?”

“Not in this newspaper,” she said.

“Maybe the crossword compiler just got sacked?” I suggested.

“Hang on, I’ve got the second letter now. It’s also F. Makes no sense.”

“Ah,” I said, in my most smugly knowing manner. “You don’t read music, do you?”

She knows my ways and waited for me to drop the other shoe.

“FFFF!” I roared, fortississimo.

PLANET Z

When my wife goes to visit her sister, the cats only have me around.
Which is fine for Tinny.
She is a clingy cat and loves to sleep on me when I am on the sofa.
The problem is Myst.
She tends to sleep under the bed, and comes out to eat, poop, and scream to be let outside to roam.
She usually expects to go outside around when my wife gets home.
But seeing as how my wife is off at her sister’s, I get to deal with the little shit.
Guess who’s staying inside for a whole week?

WEEKLY CHALLENGE #711 – SASSY

Zzzzzzzz

RICHARD

S.A.S.S.Y.

Strategic Armament Systems: South Yorkshire – SASSY for short – an unassuming factory unit, situated on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Leeds.

Whilst the world’s attention focussed on the posturing of North Korea, the political machinations of Putin and the Chinese, and unknown Middle Eastern threats, the scientists and engineers of West Yorkshire quietly beavered away on the ultimate weapon.

Earth’s last day dawned on a drizzly, November Thursday and ended – accidentally – when Security Guard, George Orpington, in a moment of absent-mindedness, set down his mug of tea on the Big Red Button of Total Destruction.

LIZZIE

The waves drowned the sound of a phone ringing. It rang for a minute. Then, it stopped. Later in the day, it rang again. The waves sloshed softly in the background.
The police sent search parties, geared up in white protective suits. They quarantined the small town, but the buildings were empty.
Then, the phone rang one last time. A policeman answered.
“Find them, I dare you. And find me too,” the voice cackled with laughter.
They did find them.
Years later, the waves returned to the shore what belonged on the shore.
They never found the cackling voice though.

TOM

So Long Ago and Far Away –

Sassy LaRue wasn’t. She was graceful and poised. Had that old moneyed air about her. Married deep in the Mississippi gentry. Junior Leaguer, A-lister, tight with the inner circle in the outer beltway. Should have gone to prison with the rest of the president’s men, but she was always a step ahead and to one side. I know her is passing. Spent an evening drinking shot of gold watching the Potomac roll by. As I remember she had a passion for skeet shooting. Her grandpa taught her. Oh, how she get the moniker. Her little brother couldn’t pronounce her name.

SERENDIPIDY

Sassy Strychnine: My best friend forever. She’s never let me down, never been found wanting in a time of need, and is always dependable.

Not like that bitch, Suzie Switchblade! Now there’s a girl you don’t want to trust… Given half a chance, she’ll turn on you and stab you in the back. You’re never entirely safe while she’s around.

As for Bessie Bullet… Forget it, she’s noisy, crass, and leaves a mess wherever she’s been!

But Sassy: She’s cool. She slips in quietly, almost unnoticed, gets the job done, then quietly fades into the background.

My kind of girl.

NORVAL JOE

Linoliumanda’s father had just asked if they had walked home from the dance. Billbert shuffled his feet. “Yes, sir. We just walked up from next door, right now.”
“Don’t get sassy with me, boy. I just got a call from the school telling me about the fire alarm. You two got home pretty fast for something that had just happened.”
Billbert swollowed. “Um. We called an Uber?”
Linoliumanda took hold of her father’s arm and shook him. “Come on, Dad. Relax. We used magic and flew back from the dance.”
“Now you’re getting sassy with me, Linnie?” her father growled.

PLANET Z

I remember my first cat Sassy.
She liked to walk through the bookshelves, knocking books to the floor.
If you left anything on a table or a counter, it ended up on the floor, along with the books.
We tried to train her not to do this, putting pennies in containers with the hopes of scaring her, but she knocked them down, too.
One night, we’d left a lit candle on a table, and Sassy knocked it off, starting a fire.
She’d burned the house down and everything in it.
Insurance covered the loss, and we eventually got a dog.

WEEKLY CHALLENGE #710 – PICK TWO panel, acid, blaine, current, coma, stink, taste

Flop

RICHARD

Medic!

I was beginning to have grave doubts about the doctor assigned to grandfather’s care.

My suspicions were aroused when he plugged the stethoscope into grandad’s ears and shouted ‘Wake up’ into the other end; then he seemed to have no idea which way round to insert the thermometer.

It was when he said. “To wake a coma patient, we need to administer a strong electric current”, then grabbed the paddles and placed them against my grandfather’s head, that I panicked and wrestled him to the ground.

Whose idea was it to put the coma ward next to the psychiatric unit anyway?

TOM

Can You See the Real Me Doctor

My doctor worries way too much about my state of health. What’s a little blood in the urine? High triple digits on the most lab tests. HA. What I find of concern it the acid taste in my mouth after intermittent commas. Somewhere between citrus and c cell batteries. What’s that all about ………..

Sorry I blinked out again for a second. What day is this? Oh ya Thanksgiving. Yes I’m thankful for my outgoing health. Wait, that’s on going. At least it wasn’t a stroke or cardo heart infraction. Now that would be some major messed up action.

LIZZIE

The stage was set. The jury was ready, the music chosen.
He still felt the taste of her mouth.
He cast a furtive glance at her. She ignored him.
They danced. And they won.
He still felt her body pressed against his.
The applause died down as they waved to the audience.
And she hurried away.
He could still feel the shape of her hand in his.
The recollection of her smile was vague though, so vague.
She was now a body fallen into a deep slumber.
The stage was set. The jury was ready.
But there was no music.

SERENDIPIDY

My latest date turned out to be a complete jerk.

Too tight to pay for a restaurant meal, he insisted I should cook for him… and also, to see how I compared to his mother’s kitchen skills!

He also bragged constantly about his manliness, and how he wanted to taste the hottest chilli I could make.

So, I threw in a dozen Scotch Bonnets, and a handful of Ghost Chillies, then watched him suffer.

After just a few mouthfuls, he was more than ready for a helping of battery acid sorbet.

I always keep a tub handy, just in case.

TURA

Taste; current
———
“Show me the taste of enlightenment,” said the master.

A student stood, bowed, and began, “Thus have I heard—” The master immediately thwacked him with a stick. The student sat back down.

Another stood, bowed, and said, “Enlightenment is the current that flows through all being.”

The master gestured as if to fill his hand from this current. The student took the hint and sat down.

“Show me the taste of enlightenment!” the master repeated.

I stood, and drew from my robes a bottle of 40-year-old Laphroaig. I bowed and humbly presented it to the master.

The master was pleased.

NORVAL JOE

After a quick flight around the neighborhood, Billbert and Linoliumanda touched down behind a panel van two doors down from her house. He walked her to her door.

Linoliumanda’s father opened the door. He normal acid glare burned through Billbert. “What are you doing back so soon?”

Linoliumanda took Billbert’s hand and pulled him in. “There was a fire,” she said, sniffing the air. “Mmmm. What’s cooking?”

“Brussels sprout casserole,” her mother called from the kitchen.

Billbert wondered if the taste could be as bad as the stink.

Her father asked, “You’re telling me, you walked home from the dance?”

PLANET Z

Every year, the coaches or journalists panels rank the Texas A&M football team in the top 25 teams.
And every year, the Aggies beat small wimpy schools, but get beaten by the other ranked teams.
And they drop in the polls until they fall out of the top 25 teams.
The next year, they start off in the top 25 teams again.
And fall quickly again, year after year.
Pathetic.
Eventually, the pollsters figured out a solution to correct the error.
Anyone who ranked Texas A&M had their ballot shredded.
Much more humane than shredding the coaches and journalists themselves.

Weekly Challenge #709 – OPTION

Sleepycat

LIZZIE

“No,” shouted the elderly lady, forking up a luscious pumpkin pie.
“Yes,” replied another.
The living-room of the Club was packed. All the ladies talked at the same time, tea cups held in a precarious fashion.
Suddenly, the door bell rang…
The rest of that night was spent at the police station where an important decision was made.
No more meetings after a night out at the local pub. The neighbors were such twats.
That was actually the word they wrote on a piece of paper, when they got back, and glued it to the neighbors’ door, chuckling like teenagers.

RICHARD

Ctrl, Alt, Delete

I’ve always wished life had been created by Microsoft, rather than poofed into existence by some divine entity, forged from random interactions of molecules, or pooped out of the butt of some pan-dimensional being… Whichever creation story you ascribe to.

At least then you’d always have the option to undo your last action, restore a better version of the past, and a handy pop up confirmation to confirm any drastic action you might have committed to.

Of course, life would also crash randomly, lose everything you’d done so far, and update itself at inconvenient moments…

No worse than now, really!

TOM

The Most Delicious Strawberry I Have Ever Eaten

You’ve undoubtably heard of the story of the monk chased by a tiger, driven over a cliff, held between heaven and hell by a single strawberry plant. Nice story. Didn’t happen that way. Being said Monk I will not enlighten you, a little Buddhist humor there. What started as a Koan on the options we must all chose in life, a paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline for novices got way out of hand. This is the skinny. I plunk the strawberry, hit the tiger in the eye, he went over the cliff, and I waved goodbye.

TURA

Option
———
“I built this house myself,” my host said proudly.

I was puzzled by this statement. The house was part of a recent development of about two hundred residences, obviously built by a single developer. All the houses were slightly different but all were much the same, and they were built so closely together that only a thin person might be able to sidle between them.

“In other words,” I said, before I managed to hold my tongue, “you selected plot 37 on the developer’s site plan, house style 4, with options 6, 11, and 17?”

I was not invited back.

SERENDIPIDY

You should take the easy option: A shot to the head or the cyanide pill. Either way it will be all over soon, but the odds are firmly in my favour.

Or, if you’re feeling lucky, we can load the chamber, spin the barrel and take our chances with a last ditch game of Russian roulette – it halves the odds, but of course, I could still win.

Then again, you might fire the fatal shot, but that makes you a murderer – and we still have the death penalty around these parts for that particular crime…

Take the pill!

NORVAL JOE

Sure. Lifting off from the school grounds and flying Linoliamanda home from the school dance was not the only option open to Billbert. And probably not the smartest one. However, with the confusion of children complaining about wet hair, firemen and their trucks arriving with sirens blaring, and students all trying to phone their parents at once it was probably the easiest way to get out of there.
Besides, it had been a week since he’d last flown and Billbert really liked it when Linoliamanda held his hand.
Marrissa stood below them, her mouth wide open, watching them fly off.

PLANET Z

Paper or Plastic?
Are these my only two options?
What about if I use my own canvas bags?
How about just putting all this stuff back i nthe cart?
I’ll dump it out into my trunk and then empty my trunk when I get home?
How about wooden barrels?
I can roll a wooden barrel, can’t I?
Can you load this all into a catapult and launch it at my house?
I have a volleyball net I’m not using.
That could catch everything.
It sure caught the volleyball every time I tried to play.
I wasn’t very good. Or tall.

Weekly Challenge #708 – WHO CARES?

Myst's brother

LIZZIE

The chair faced a big wooden crate. Fragile. Fragile could mean a lot of things, he thought. Glass. He sat down and leaned forward. Rare wine. He sat back. Do not open it, they said. He stared at it and pondered. He wanted to open it… Porcelain. He tilted his head and tried to read the label. It was wet and blurry. “Screw them…” He stood up and opened the crate. It was filled with ideas, special ones too. The crate was filled with books, something extremely rare those days. He sneaked one out and closed the crate again, smiling.

RICHARD

Manisfesto

It’s election time again, and the politicians are crawling out from their unholy pits of self-gratification to ply their insincere charm and empty promises to a disbelieving electorate.

‘We care about the environment’, they proclaim from the steps of their private jets;

‘We care about employment and a living wage’, they profess, whilst raking in the cash from after-dinner speeches and televised debates;

‘We care about people and their rights’, they protest, whilst turning their backs on the demands of those they serve.

All just words, without meaning.

So, really, who cares?

Who knows?

Does it matter, anyway?

ZACKMANN

Here at Who Cares Retirement Home for the Aging Science Fiction Fan, everyday is like a Sci-Fi convention. You are likely to see our staff dressed as your favorite Science Fiction Characters. Your Doctor could be The Doctor and your reading lights are put on Gallifrey Stands. Cosplay is optional for residents and their guests. No Tribbles but our own Doctor Whooves lives on the other side of the yellow brick road from the main dorm.
A reminder to any staff cosplaying as Klingon unless coloring textiles you are forbidden to use the phrase “It’s a good day to die”

SERENDIPIDY

Ask yourself, ‘Who cares?’

Who cares enough to notice newspapers piling up on your doorstep, the unanswered phone calls, the plaintive cries of your starving cats?

Who cares enough to pay you that visit, to check you’re alright?

Who cares enough to notice your absence at church, the missed appointments and the ceasing of your daily walks in the park?

Nobody cares.

But they will, eventually.

Once the smell of rotting flesh pervades the air, and the maggots and flies infest the street; when the bills remain unpaid, and the litter builds up.

Then, they’ll care!

But far too late.

TOM

It isn’t so much Who cares, as what has been left in their wake. Baba O’Riley, Who’s Next, Pinball Wizard, Won’t Get Fooled Again, My Generation, Behind Blue Eyes, Eminence Front, It’s Hard Love, Reign o’er Me, I Can’t Explain, I Can See for Miles, Boris the Spider, Magic Bus, Squeeze Box, You Better You Bet, Another Tricky Day, Going Mobile, Trick of the Light, Young Man Blues, Long Live Rock, The Acid Queen, Pictures of Lily, The Seeker, I’m Free, The Kids Are Alright, I Can See for Miles, Happy Jack and my favorite Join Together. Yup who cares.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert watched Linoliumanda twirl around the dance floor as the fire spriklers rained water down on her.

Roderick laughed at Billbert and pointed. “You’re going to get soaked if you stand there.”

Billbert shrugged, “Who cares?”

Ms. Frunsio finally encouraged them all to leave the cafeteria and call their parents.

Billbert started to get out his phone. Linoliumanda said, “Let’s fly home.”

“We can’t do that,” Billbert said. “People might see.”

Linoliumanda shrugged, “Who cares?”

“I care,” he said dropping back from the kids around them and waited for them to look away before they floated up into the air.

PLANET Z

The light at the intersection has timing issues.
Two reds isn’t a problem.
Two greens is.
It didn’t take long for a wreck.
A young couple and a cab driver died.
The families sued the city, their lawyers walked away with a lot of money.
The city had to cut budgets, and repair crews went without a cost of living adjustment.
So, they went on strike.
More things broke, more people died, more people sued.
Things fell apart quickly, the cops went on strike, too.
Fire department, too.
We sit and watch the city burn through the night, and laugh,

Weekly Challenge #707 – BOOM

Tin

RICHARD

Boom Town

It’s amazing what you can do with clever advertising.

Dingo Gulch was a dead end, no hope, washed out hovel in the back end of nowhere, but the mayor hired a top notch PR company, whose glossy brochures and slick ads sold us as a boom town… And, before you know it, we had prospectors, speculators, investors and entrepreneurs beating down our doors to get a piece of the action.

It didn’t last long, of course, when people realised what a dump Dingo Gulch was, they pulled out sharpish – but not before they’d spent all their cash!

Boom town!

LIZZIE

Boom, and the moon was gone. No one believed it could happen, but it did. The so-called brotherly neighbors from next door, meaning the next galaxy or wherever they came from, threatened to do it and everyone laughed, not a care in the world. Then, it happened. Those damn little green jerks. Ever since they moved in with all that scientific progress, new ideas, new concepts, new gadgets, life was a lot more complicated. That resonant boom was only outmatched by the roaring sound of space ships exploding as they left Earth. Oops! “Should we prepare for war?” someone asked.

SERENDIPIDY

I still hear the boom of artillery, even though the war is done.

I can still smell the acrid tang of napalm, even on the freshest of breezes.

The insistent thud of choppers; the whine and thud of missiles; the staccato clatter of machine gun fire pervades my waking hours, and stirs me from my sleep.

And, over it all, the screams and cries of my fallen comrades; the pungent smell of cordite, sweat and blood.

Even now.

Even after all these years.

And, somehow, I have been forgotten.

For although I was a soldier.

I was also Viet Cong.


TOM

Boom

The second best thing to a controlled fire is, wait for it … things that go BOOM. Yup from M80s to Bikini Atoll, boom just can’t help but put a smile on ones face. Of course being on the business end of boom, not so good. As a rule landmines not of the top ten boom list. That’s boom bad. What I’m talking about is a deep pre-adolescent desire to see thing fly apart with sufficient amount of loudness. I still have a boom scar from my gas pool plastic Bismarck explosion. It was a teachable moment for damage radius

NORVAL JOE

Whatever had been used to cause such a boom in the corner of the cafeteria also produced a large amount of smoke.

The smoke continued to rise toward the ceiling, even while Ms. Frunsio ranted about how much trouble all the boys would be in when she found out who had caused the explosion.

As it reached the ceiling it set off the smoke detectors and the sprinklers kicked on.

Boys and girls ran from the cafeteria, screaming and covering their heads, except for Billbert who stayed to watch Linoliumanda dancing to music only she could hear, water raining down.

PLANET Z

Every time Ricky Ka sacks a quarterback, he gets down on one knee and waits for the crowd to shout KA-BOOM!
And he jumps up with his arms raised.
He racked up a dozen sacks in his rookie year, twenty in his next year.
Defensive player of the year award.
Again and again.
KA-BOOM! KA-BOOM! KA-BOOM!
Playoff wins, two Super Bowl rings.
Then came the injuries.
Knee surgery. Shoulder surgery.
Back from rehab, and then done for good.
Hall of Fame ceremony, he got down on one knee.
KA-BOOM.
He held his chest, fell over, and never got back up.