Weekly Challenge #682: Slurp

Blissed out

LIZZIE

Slurp!
Hey, that’s not the way I brought you up.
Slurp…
I won’t say it again.
Slurp?
I warn you.
Slurp. Slurp.
Stop it.
Slurp, slurp, slurp.
OK, that’s enough. I’ve had it.
A thunder of stomping feet approached the kitchen while the kids scattered in all directions. Johnny stayed behind, sitting at the table, daring his mother.
Who was it? Come on. Who was it?
No slurping now? Spit it out. Who was slurping?
When the mother finally gave up, Johnny looked at his cup. It was almost empty.
The others’ cups were almost full.
He sneered.
Slurp.

RICHARD

Captain Slurp

The big name brands had their Colonels and their Clowns, but being a small independently owned burger bar, meant that our advertising budget was rather constrained.

That’s how we ended up with Captain Slurp – a rather shoddy, modified and repainted second hand Captain America figurine, with the addition of a twelve inch pink, lolling tongue and a shield formed from a giant burger bun, to avoid copyright infringement suits.

Frankly, he was terrifying.

He did the job brilliantly – mainly because furious customers came in complaining he’d scared their kids.

And they’d always buy burgers while they were here!

SERENDIPIDY

In many Asian cultures, it’s considered good form to slurp your noodles; whilst elsewhere a satisfied belch at the conclusion of the meal is seen as a compliment to the chef.

In this part of the world, however, we are a little more genteel, preferring a more delicate approach to meals.

Here, napkins, finger bowls and correctly ordered cutlery are the order of the day, and untoward displays of satisfaction are frowned upon. We prefer the enjoyment of food to be a respectful, elegant affair, as is befitting of its source.

After all, grandmother had class.

And she tasted, delicious!

NORVAL JOE

Billbert and Linoliumanda followed Wanda through the crowds of students meandering along the hallways in no real hurry to get to their next classes.

“Wait,” Linoliumanda said. “You expect us to believe you know something special about secret government agencies? You can’t be much older than either of us. Fourteen at most.”

Wanda stopped and casually took a slurp of lukewarm water from the drinking fountain before looking around them and whispering, “I’m really twenty-four years old and just finished my training with the FBI at Quantico.”

Billbert’s mouth dropped open.

Linoliumanda rolled her eyes and said, “Oh yeah. Right”

PLANET Z

“Don’t slurp your soup, Jimmy,” mother said.
So, Jimmy slurped Tommy’s soup.
“Don’t slurp any soup!” mother shouted.
Jimmy would go off into the woods, build a campire, and cook soup.
Then he’d pour it into a bowl, get out a spoon, and slurp it.
Once, he forgot to bring a spoon, and he slurped it straight from the bowl.
A tentacle poked out of the bowl and grabbed Jimmy by the throat.
“HOW DARE YOU BLASPHEME AGAINST SLURPASOUP, GOD OF BULLION?” boomed through the woods.
Jimmy was dragged into the bowl and never seen again.
Tommy got Jimmy’s bike.

Weekly Challenge #681: JACK

Bag cat

TOM

Jack

Jack was a force of nature. He passed award six years ago. Amazing how time just sails by. I don’t think about him as often as I should. That once vibrant inter action has become a frozen dialogue and all the memories have calcified. His daughters grew into amazing young women and his wife Linda returned to a career in nursing. What I missed most about Jack was whenever you were with him it was the Jack and YOU Show. You could feel the world spin around you. I was brighter, funnier and faster than the speed of light.

LIZZIE

Home sweet home, Jack thought. The day was coming to an end and no one knew where he was. His caravan was his home, at least the home he loved. The place was not much to look at. It desperately needed a bit of paint. The door was gone. That was a long story. However, he was home. When the snake decided to nestle in his bed, Jack wished he had a door. As a result, he spent the night pointing a lamp at the non-existent door and thinking of snake patterns to paint on the side of his caravan.

RICHARD

Jack!

In many ways, my holiday abroad got off to a pretty bad start, and all because of a silly slip of the tongue. Up until then, everything had been as smooth as clockwork: Check in was a breeze, no problems at security, and the flight took off on time.

It was only after the seatbelt sign went off that things took a downward turn.

I heard my name shouted down the plane: “Richard! Fancy seeing you here! What are the chances?”

It was my best mate from years before! Then stupidly, without thinking, I shouted back to him…

“Hi Jack!”

SEREENDIPIDY

I enjoy those silly puns around names, in fact that’s how I selected my latest batch of victims and the manner in which I despatched them…

What do you call a man with a car on his head?’

Jack!

What do you call a man with a spade in his skull?

Doug!

And what do you call a guy tied up, underwater?

Bob!

What do you call a woman hanging from a church spire?

Belle!

But, I’m running out of puns, and lots of victims to go.

So if you’ve suggestions for Tom, Lizzie, Richard, Joe and Laurence…

Let’s talk!

TURA

Jack
———
“Spring-heeled Jack versus Jack the Ripper!” said the poster under the street lamp. “For one night only!”

“It doesn’t mention the venue,” said my date. “Leave that to me,” I said suavely, and led her down a dark alleyway. At an unmarked door shrouded in darkness I gave a secret knock. There was a click, and the door yielded to my hand. An attendant showed us to my private box.

I hoped my date would enjoy seeing a genetically enhanced fighting cock pitted against a feral cat. And if not, this place has a way of disposing of inconvenient people.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert, Wanda, and Linoliumanda walked toward the door to the cafeteria

“How would someone weaponize my superpower? It’s not like I have laser vision and can burn through walls or anything,” Billbert asked under his breath, suddenly concerned about everyone around him.

Wanda hooked her arm around Billbert’s and pulled him closer. “You obviously don’t know jack about the the FBI, CIA, and secret services.

“You’re right,” Billbert said. “If you know jack, maybe you should introduce us.”

Wanda laughed, though her eyes were serious. “You know the saying, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

PLANET Z

When Jack King was planning his business, he pondered what to use as a logo.
Would it be a jack playing card or a king playing card?
Why choose at all? He could use both, right?
And then there were the four suits to choose from.
Jack took a long time to think things through.
He checked domain names and available social media account names, but all of the variants were taken already.
Jack then put on a wig, some makeup, and called himself Queen Jackie King.
That was available. But it didn’t much help his fledgling mancave construction business.

Weekly Challenge #680: PICK TWO: Hire, Heart attack, Strip, Weaponize, Fink, Nancy, Bumbling, Volt

Sleepy lap cat

TOM

A Cirus Life for Me

Nancy Volt was billed as the “Human Lighting Rod”. She performed, if one could call lighting up like a Christmas tree performing, for Gill Brother Circus during the 1920’s. The high point of the act was when a random member of the audience was picked to give Nancy a peck on the cheek. The sad rube would make contact a blue plasma arched across his lips follow by a 10 foot backward ride through the air. When the circus disbanded in down state Illinois. She married a farmer in Olney, IL. Had three kid with electric blues eyes.

LIZZIE

“Yes, I hired it.”
“You hired a heart attack?! How can we hire a heart attack?”
“Talk to it and settle for an amount. Easy.”
The prosecutor looked at the judge. The judge shrugged.
“When did you talk to this heart attack then?”
“Two months ago.”
“And it said it would kill your boss?”
The defendant nodded.
“Are there many heart attacks around doing hit jobs?”
“No, there’s only one.”
“And what’s its name?”
“Cock-eyed Paulie.”
“Ah, that’s why your boss is still alive.”
The room burst into laughter.
A few weeks later, the prosecutor died of a heart attack.

RICHARD

Strip

“Strip!” was the stern command.

I gulped. Offering personal services for hire on Craigslist, you never know what your customers may be like, and this was probably the most intimidating one so far.

Dressed head to toe in latex, she stood before me, invading my personal space, giving the distinct impression that she was very much in complete control of whatever happened next.

However, I’m made of stern stuff, and a domineering customer wasn’t going to faze me.

“I’ll get right on it “, I said, climbing my stepladder.

“And once I’ve stripped this wall, I’ll start painting the hallway”

SERENDIPIDY

Shock humour is all the rage these days – YouTube has thousands of ‘prank’ videos, where unsuspecting victims are subjected to terrifying ordeals in the name of entertainment.

It’s only a matter of time before somebody dies from the shock.

Which is how I came up with my business – ‘Hire a Heart Attack’.

It’s simple: You pick a victim, send me their details, and I surprise them with a scenario so shocking they have a coronary!

It’s a fantastic birthday surprise! I’m also available for other occasions; and if they don’t pop their clogs, you get your money back!

NORVAL JOE

Wanda rolled her eyes. “Don’t have a heart attack. It’s not like I had to hire a private eye to figure out that Billbert has super powers.”

The bell rang telling the students lunch would be ending in ten minutes. Billbert scratched his head. “How did you figure it out?”

“Simple. I live down the street from Linoliumanda. I saw the two of you fly by my house on Friday night.” Wanda shook her head. “You don’t need to worry. I’m not a rat fink. I won’t tell anyone else. Be careful, though. Some would like to weaponize your ability.”

PLANET Z

Nancy hired the strippers for the bachelorette party.
They were dressed as first responders.
A paramedic, a fireman, and a policeman.
“We heard there was a party emergency here,” said the doctor.
And he pulled a Bluetooth speaker out of his bag and started the music.
The bride-to-be had so much fun, she forgot to take her pills.
The heart attack dropped her like a stone.
Nancy dialed 911, while the paramedic stripper said he’d taken first aid classes.
“I know CPR!”
Well, not really. With the first compression, the sweaty hunk crushed the patient’s ribcage and finished her off.

Weekly Challenge #679: POTATO CHIPS

Tinny

TOM

My Favorite Potato Chip

I grew up in Chicago home of Jay’s potato chips. A chips of such superiority its lingers to this day in my best memories of youth. Oddly the chip started out life as Mrs. Japp’s Chips after the founder Leonard Japp. The 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent anti-Japanese sentiment, however, led to a negative connotation towards the word “Jap” in the United States. The chips were consequently rebranded to “Jays Potato Chips” to avoid the sound-alike name, and the company became Jays Foods, Inc. This was years before I was born. Company died in October 2007.

RICHARD

Chips

Our casino fell on hard times – poorly trained staff and lax security meant they were paying out well over the odds, and were well on the way to bankruptcy.

Then someone hit on the idea of replacing the poker chips with potato chips: Different flavours for different values, and although the punters were dubious to begin with, they soon came around to the new thinking.

The casino was soon back on track, and it really didn’t matter how much they were cashing out – the punters never walked out with full pockets…

They just couldn’t resist eating their profits.

SERENDIPIDY

Someone started putting razor blades in the potato chips.

Then it was needles in the noodles, splinters in the breakfast cereals and glass shards in the sanitary products.

Local businesses suffered badly. Even those where foreign articles hadn’t been found in the foodstuffs lost most of their customers almost overnight.

The police targeted the usual suspects – anarchists; those holding grudges; competing businesses, and eco-warriors.

However, they drew a complete blank, because of course, they were looking entirely in the wrong place, and I simply didn’t fit into their criminal profile.

Because, I was doing it just for kicks!

TURA

Potato chips
———
Workers are already hired, monitored, and fired by algorithm. But they still aren’t reliable. So we’re automating people, not jobs. Welcome to Parallel Organic Transmission and Autonomous TeleOperation. With the POTATO chip installed in the workers’ brains, a construction team can be directed by one manager, like the workers are his eyes and hands, and do the job faster and better. It doesn’t feel like taking orders. It feels like the purpose injected into your brain was your own idea. You’ll just do it.

The military are interested, but I think the big money will be in the sex industry.

NORVAL JOE

“What High school does Rhineheart go to?” Billbert asked as if it was a reasonable question.

Linoliumanda took her bag of potato chips and threw it at him. “What are you thinking? She said she thought you were Rhineheart. He’s in high school. This is junior high. Either Wanda, here, is out of her mind, or she has unstated intentions.”

“That’s okay, Lindeelooo. You believe what you want. Billbert and I have bigger fish to fry. Or should I say, ‘fly’.” Wanda winked knowingly at Billbert.

Billbert swollowed uncomfortably while Linoliumanda leaned to Wanda and hissed, “What do you know?”

PLANET Z

Potato chips are bad for you.
Really bad.
So many carbohydrates. So many calories.
It doesn’t matter what oil they’re fried in, or even if they’re baked.
They’re still bad.
Same with the kind of potato.
Any good that comes from a sweet potato is ruined by the oil.
And salt. That’s bad for you, too.
Same with those chemical flavorings and seasonings.
Just a bunch of chemicals some mad food scientist cooked up in a lab.
The only good thing to do to a potato is to stick arms and legs and eyes on it and play with it.

Weekly Challenge #678: CHARGE

Adventuretinny

LIZZIE

The end of the bridge approached quickly and the jeep charged off the edge of the platform.
“There goes another pilot,” said the chief engineer, crossing his arms over his chest.
“We need a different solution for this,” said the director. “We cannot afford losing more pilots and, what’s worse, jeeps. We are stretching our resources thin as it is. I told you that it was a bad idea to test the brakes system at the bridge. It’s too high.”
“Yes, but you also said that you wanted to reorganize the staff, didn’t you?”
The director sulked and walked away.

RICHARD

Eco-worrier

Since buying an electric car, I’ve had to come to terms with the pitfalls of being eco-friendly.

It’s fine starting a journey with a fully charged battery, but I’ve learned from experience you have to plan carefully to ensure there’s somewhere to charge up again at your journey’s end.

I managed to run out of juice in the middle of the countryside. Thankfully, a passing farmer towed me to his farm and let me use his mains supply to get back on the road.

I asked him how much he wanted for his kindness. He laughed, and responded…

“No charge!”

JON

Ghost & Ghost Town

By

Jon DeCles

In 1898 the little town of Ziegler had 60 people, a planning mill and a saw mill, one cheese factory, one hardware store and one shoe store, and a Lutheran church. The Post Office delivered mail there three times a week. By 1909 it had a Post Office of its own.

Bob tried to trumpet the town to success, but feeling a stich below his rib cage he discovered a tick, and an infection that had eaten into his flesh. His pittance of an income was not enough for a doctor. History was to delete both him and the town.

TOM

Slightest Idea of Balance. —Cindy called her bank the Money Store. Never one to have the slightest idea of her balance. She had a fistful of charge cards and if one filled to the brim with debt she’d just go to the next one. All this was made possible by Sir Ralph Nedgrove the 33rd Earl of LandBastard. She was the only daughter of his oldest friend from Eton. Morris Swindle was a deep academic and an Oxford don with no family wealth behind him. Nedgrove never married, Cindy was the closest he’d come to an intentional niece. “It’s only money,” Ralph would muse.

SERENDIPIDY

Two things in life are certain: Taxes and death. However even after succumbing to one, you still won’t escape the other. Death has its own tax.

And I’m afraid the ferryman’s charge to cross The Styx has kept pace with inflation too. You’re won’t get away with a measly coin to pay for your journey. In fact, you should really start saving now to cover the cost of your final journey!

Of course, carrying large amounts of cash into the afterlife is awkward. But the ferryman now accepts bank transfers, all major credit cards, and Apple Pay!

Enjoy your journey!

TURA

Charge

———

At Lao’s Chinese Restaurant, the less you eat, the more you pay.

The All You Can Eat Buffet is $5. But mens’ eyes are hungrier than their bellies, and those who dine thus regret their choice— until the next time.

The All You Want To Eat Buffet costs $10. You must ask of each selection whether you truly want it, for every dish chosen implies many others untasted.

For the All You Should Eat Buffet, the charge is $20. You must choose only by the rule, what will make your body a better temple for the soul?

NORVAL JOE

PLANET Z

I used to fill up my truck every other week.
Now, I charge my plug-in hybrid car at work every weekday.
I’ve had the car for over three months.
I’ve only used half of a tank so far.
And that tank only holds seven gallons.
At some point, the gasoline will go bad.
So, I put the car into Sport Mode so it will burn more.
It’s a lot more fun to drive.
I have to floor it and get a little reckless to burn the gas off fast enough.
Man, pretending to be environmentally-friendly has never been more fun.

Weekly Challenge #677: EMOTIVE

Beset by a cat

LIZZIE

The old bridge stretched out, tired. The sky wept softly while a feisty seagull fought against the wind. He wanted the place to be beautiful and special and vibrant, but nothing could survive there. He tried… He even wanted to rebuild the bridge so others could come over but each time he set new stones on it, they would just be taken away by the water, over and over again. He fought as much as that lonely seagull. He didn’t want to give up. But he was alone. It was with a heavy heart that he walked away that day…

RICHARD

Cybercrime

Cyber-crime is on the increase, and although the internet’s been around a while, the law hasn’t kept pace with the criminals.

Old style crime investigation just doesn’t cut it any more – we need a new breed of cop: e-Detectives who can sift through your email, ruthlessly hunting down scammers, phishers and hackers.

e-Arrests would follow, with an e-Trial, before an e-Judge and e-Jury, followed by a long spell in e-Prison (where the cell locks require 128 bit key encryption).

It probably won’t stop the e-Criminals, the financial gains are too tempting – unfortunately, that’ll always be a powerful e-Motive!

SERENDIPIDY

The death penalty is an emotive subject. Whether for it, or against, protagonists for both debates can be pretty vociferous and persuasive.

I have a vested interest in the outcome of this particular argument. As state executioner, if the abolish capital punishment, school of thought win, I’m out of a job.

I can’t allow that to happen.

So I watch the debates carefully, I hunting down the most vocal detractors and silencing them. Permanently, if you know what I mean.

I don’t think I’m doing anything particularly wrong, you could always argue that I’m just taking my work home with me.

TURA

E-motive
———
E-motives are the latest thing in robotics. Hierarchical electronic motives, replacing the disorganised hackery that used to go into self-driving cars.

Try asking about whatever you’re doing, “what is my motive?”, “what motive does that motive serve?”, and so on. You’ll run out of motives within half a dozen levels. With e-motives, there’s no limit.

At twelve levels the robots discuss philosophy, at fifteen they invent strange new mathematics.

Around twenty levels, they start vanishing. Do they reach enlightenment? Perceive the futility of existence? Break out of the simulation?

Or have they built the Matrix around us, without us noticing?

JON

Death by Gilbert & Sullivan

By

Jon DeCles

Have you ever seen the travesty of justice that occurs when the headsman’s axe is not sharp enough?

Rather than being slain without much pain, so that they can hardly feel the fatal steel, and make their ending with a cheap and chippy chopper on a big black block — the damn thing sticks part way through the meat and bone! They begin to scream with a total lack of dignity, the spinal cord not properly severed and their bodies, bound with hands behind, turns what should have been a graceful dash into a marionette thrash of an ugly ending.

TOM

So Successful

Timmy was a hell of a coder. His crowning glory was an app called E-MOTIVE. It was a security program that created, as it’s creator pitched it, an electronic moat around your phone. The uses of the moat metaphor was pretty accurate. It took all the unused bits in empty storage and caused them to randomly bridge with each other creating a fluid moat of insolation. It became the darling of organize crime and tin pot despots, so much so that DOJ had to kill the app with a mountain of litigation. Didn’t bother Tim, he was already in Uruguay.

NORVAL JOE

Linoliumanda frowned at Billbert, but turned on the goth girl. “What is your name, anyway?”

The girl rolled her eyes and said, “Emotive.”

Billbert tried not to laugh as the two girls interacted.

“You are Emotive?” Linoliumanda asked.

“No. You are,” she replied.

Linoliumanda balled her hands into fists and shook them. “I’m not Emotive.”

The girl closed her eyes and shook her head. “Yes. You are. You’re contentious and emotive. Just listen to your voice. You can barely control your rage.”

Billbert interrupted. “Never mind. Would you tell me your name?”

“Of course,” she laughed. “My name is Wanda.”

PLANET Z

Dr. Smithson built the perfect combat robot.
Independent and deadly.
So much more powerful than a human soldier.
Practically invulnerable.
But there was one problem. They were programmed not to attack fellow human soldiers.
They attacked everything else.
Enemy soldiers, civilians. Rather bloody killing machines, they were.
The Pentagon ordered Smithson to program in the Geneva Conventions and better judgment.
In tests and trial runs, the robots were a success.
Smithson delivered the robots. The first batch acted as bodyguards for the generals.
Until the Pentagon was slow to pay their contract with Smithson.
And he configured them as enemies.

Weekly Challenge #676: PICK TWO: standard, grafitti, blinding, blithering, pony, sparkle, amuse, fire

dinner time

LIZZIE

The blinding sparkle of local street lights contrasted with the deep shadows of dark street corners.
The army tank looked eerie.
Everyone knew they were about to lose the war.
The others were all over town with their soldiers and their heavy artillery, blocking the roads and asking for ID as if they owned the place. The others controlled the comings and goings while everyone tried to lead a normal life in the middle of utter chaos.
What gave them hope was the fact that someone was somehow setting those tanks on fire. One by one. They’d never give up.

RICHARD

Tag

He laid down the aerosol, and stepped back to admire his work.

He cut rather a strange figure, balding and bulbous nosed, surrounded by the youths in their low slung jeans and hoodies.

“What do you think lads?”

The boys nudged each other, one or two stifling a laugh.

“Sorry grandpa, graffiti’s moved on since your day. That tag of yours… Well, it’s just not up to standard, mate. You just ain’t one of us.”

He sighed. Maybe he was too old for this now.

Hands stuffed deep in his pockets, with head bowed, Kilroy shuffled off down the alleyway.

TOM

When the Circus Comes To Town

In 2165 New York City declared standard graffiti to be the office type
face of all city documents. LA followed and soon would Chicago, Houston,
greater Seattle and finally as far as Nome and the far islands of Hawaii.
Lawyers hated it cause you really could go below 24 points. The paper and
print companies love it. Not to mention the spray paint manufactures. I
can’t say I was fond of it, but vax populous rules. As in all things,
fashion reared her ugly head and by the turn of the century it was back to
Time Roman. Back to boring.

JON

The Circus Comes to Town

By

Jon DeCles

The old posters, weathered and defaced by graffiti, proclaimed in the
standard advertising prose of their vintage time that the circus was
guaranteed to amuse, that the tights of the lady who danced on the pony
would sparkle as she galloped through a ring of Real Fire, and that the
entertainment would be blinding in its ability dazzle. The blithering
blandishments continued on into tinier and tinier type until they lost all
readability.

The old barn on which the posters were plastered had not been used in half
a century, and the road had been replaced, far from local view.

SERENDIIPITY

Pick 2 – Sparkle/Pony

See the dust twinkle and sparkle with inner fire. Magical and precious, there are few things as potent and powerful as ground unicorn horn.

It’s pretty wasteful, of course. The only way to get the horn is to kill the beast, and they’re not exactly small animals. That’s an awful lot of pony left over!

Mind you, meat is meat.

Butchered, minced and turned into sausages, nobody complains about the quality, especially at the prices I charge, and I’m doing a pretty brisk trade in burgers too.

In fact, I’m making more from selling the meat than from the horns.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert scratched his head and said, “I guess the standard response would be, ‘Of course you would know your own boy friend’.”

The goth girl smiled, nodded her head, and straightened her jacket with sparkles and ponies pinned on the lapels.

“Are you a blithering idiot?” Linoliumanda stood up and pointed at Billbert. “He’s not Rhineheart. His name is Billbert and he’s my boy friend.”

Billbert realized he must be grinning like a fool when the girl asked him, “Does something amuse you?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve never had a girlfriend before, and now it looks like I have two.”

PLANET Z

Don’t call it graffiti, Rico said. Call it street art.
Mixing glitter with the paint produced the best sparkling unicorn ponies.
How does he make it glow at night like that?
Fluorescent paint needs a blacklight, right?
“Phosphorescent,” said Rico. “There’s a difference.”
Rico’s not book-smart, he hasn’t been to school in years.
But he watches YouTube videos, arts-and-crafts and science stuff.
Why the sparking unicorns?
“Girls dig them,” grins Rico. “Their daddies pay me to spray up their bedrooms.”
The little girls invite Rico to their tea parties with their stuffed animals.
The big girls offer something more private.

Weekly Challenge #675: Confluence

Tinny

LIZZIE

Trains are fascinating. The other day, I watched a webcam of a train traveling through amazing landscapes. The tunnels were the best. I finally saw the proverbial light, yep. That made me chuckle. I hardly ever spotted anyone though. Except that one time when a man was throwing another off a balcony. I wonder if anyone else noticed that. Well, the video wasn’t live. It was a live broadcast of a recorded trip, whatever that means. Nothing I could do. I wonder if that man is alive. The confluence of circumstances is tough sometimes. But trains are indeed absolutely fascinating.

RICHARD

Nile

In darkest Sudan, there is a truly wondrous sight: At the confluence of the mighty Blue Nile and White Nile Rivers, the two flow side by side, their distinctive colours flowing in parallel and separately between the same river banks.

It’s one of the great natural wonders I’d love to see, but I know that my chances are slim.

So, instead, every morning I recreate this incredible sight at my breakfast table, marvelling at the contrast between fresh white milk, as it takes on the colour of my coco pops.

And I bet the Nile doesn’t taste half as good!

TURA

Confluent
———
The title read “Confluence properties of quasi left linear conditionally orthogonal rewriting systems.” I glanced through it and sighed, then wrote back to its hopeful young author.

“It is more than twenty years since I worked in this trifling field. That you should seek out my opinion says nothing to the credit of anyone’s work since then.

“Your mathematical argumentation is rigorous, but grinding through sudoku problems would contribute more to the world than this nugacity.

“Ask yourself, what are the most important questions you could be working on? And why are you not working on them?

“Sincerely, Brezoianu (Professor)”

TOM

About the Waters of Ripple Rock

First time I witnessed the confluence of the Seymour Narrows in the Discovery Passage, British Columbia it was from 300 feet above the passage. It didn’t look right. The surface of the water broke in multiple directions. Later I found out dozens of major ships had gone down in those waters. The explorer George Vancouver described it as “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.” From a man who had twice circumnavigated the globe. One summer we took a Zodiac through, the pilot drove the boat into twin sets of whirlpools and we just carouseled for an hour

JON

Coming Together

By

Jon DeCles

At the confluence of the two great rivers the explorers, fleeing the decay of their homeland, decided to build a town, a town which they envisioned to grow someday into a great city, and perhaps beyond that into an empire. They had moved beyond the decay, but not beyond the dreams that engendered the decay.

They cut the forests and built their houses and ploughed the land, and made it as rich a place as they had ever seen, but their vision was based on what they had left. They did not understand the ways of the woods they destroyed.

NORVAL JOE

“What do you mean?” Billbert asked the goth girl. “I’m an only child. I’ve never had a sister.”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Yes. You were an only child. But with the recent confluence of your family with the Beederboker’s, you now have a sister your same age.”
Billbert looked to Linoliumanda for help. When she only covered her mouth and laughed behind her hand, he turned back to the goth girl. “Who do you think I am?”
The girl folded her arms. “Don’t be obtuse, Rhineheart. You would think I would know my own boy friend.

PLANET Z

The spirits gather at the confluence of the two rivers.
“Go back to your own river!” shriek the spirits of Westriver.
“Westriver flows into our river!” shout the Eastriver spirits.
They fight constantly, as you can see by the churning of the water.
But the fight will come to an end soon.
These are the plans to build dams on Westriver and Eastriver.
The valleys will become lakes, and there will be power for so many homes and factories.
And downriver, well, these will become streams.
The spirits will end their bitter struggle and rest as they come together peacefully.

Weekly Challenge #674 – Why can’t you be more like your sister?

Companion

LIZZIE

Kneel and don’t move.
Be obedient and don’t move.
Smile and don’t move.
Never answer back and never look up.
Look down and never up.
Do this. Do that. And never look up.
I’m unique. I’m beautiful.
Why can’t you be more like your sister? Why?
Look at her. So unique and beautiful. She looks up and never down.
She’s independent and smart. She is everything everyone would like to be.
But not you. No, not you. You can’t. You won’t.
Kneel and don’t move.
You’ll never be your sister. Never.
I’m unique and so beautiful, just like my sister.

RICHARD

Sibling Rivalry

I’m sure some siblings get on perfectly well, but I grew up hating my sister.
To be fair, it wasn’t her fault – she happened to be good at everything she did, and my parents’ made it worse.
They’d shake their heads at my school reports, and complain, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
It was like that throughout my formative years, until I left home and put my family behind me.
Years later, I paid them a visit… And they were horrified!
The sex change had made me a hell of a lot more like my sister!

Marital woes

We were going through a tough patch in our marriage, well to be honest, it had been like that for years.
However, it was at the height of one of our blazing rows that I really managed to put my foot in it.
In the heat of the moment, I suddenly blurted out: “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
“Oh, and what exactly is that supposed to mean?”
“Well, she’s stylish, smart and glamourous, she doesn’t spend money like it’s water, and she’s so much better in bed than you!”
Oops.
Ever said something that you’ve really regretted?

TOM

We Just Did Talk About That Stuff

My father never actually said why can’t you be more like your sister, it was more, just let her do what is needed. At the time I had no idea this reference was a coded message about my grandma’s “condition”. When you’re eight what do you know about alcoholism. If nothing else the 50s and 60s where about burying secretes. If I‘d known this possibility I would have been such a dick to my sister. Surprising how sad my grandma was both myself and sister are pretty happy people. Maybe I’m more like my sister then I ever considered possible.

JON

She looked at him in disgust.

“Which sister would you like me to emulate? That weak, whimpering Cordelia, or Regan? I can’t imagine you are excited by Cordelia, with her oh-so-honest manner and her taste for that fancy French king. –So it must be Regan that you fancy. Tell me, Albany, were you excited by the tale of how she gouged out Gloucester’s eyes with her very own fingers, then watched her servant murder her husband, then kill her servant as well?’

“As a matter of fact, yes, I was, very.”

SERENDIPIDY

My parents really had it in for my sister. She was always in trouble, breaking things and causing upset and problems.
It came to a head when the school called after some of the kids complained she’d been bullying them. Nasty stuff, with razor blades and knives.
That evening, they had a serious talk. “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” they asked.
I peered through the door, smiling as she wept.
The great thing about being a twin is that you can get away with murder, without being blamed.
And one day, I sincerely hope that I will!

TURA

Our mother had our twin lives all arranged. One of us would be a dancer, one an artist. God knows where she got the idea, none of her family were at all cultured.
We freaked her out once, by arranging that when she came into our studio, we would be wearing identical tutus, while painting identical pictures, synchronizing our movements brushstroke by brushstroke. After that she was never sure of telling us apart.
Then we tried taking turns to be mean to her. The jackpot was when we got her to say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”

NORVAL JOE

Billbert realized calling Linoliumanda’s report silly was a bad idea, the second the word slipped from his mouth. Scrambling for an appropriate appology, he was interrupted, and possibly saved by an attractive goth girl who plopped down next to him.
Without preamble she asked, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?”
Linoliumanda only blinked her eyes rapidly when Billbert said, “I didn’t know you had a sister.”
The new girl slugged him gently in the arm and laughed. “I wasn’t talking to her silly. I was talking to you.”
Then, it was Billbert’s turn to blink like an idiot.

LAIEANNA

“Susan was promoted to management today, and her boyfriend, Edward,
proposed,” Steven’s mom updated him over the phone. “And you?
Dating? How is the job?”

“Nothing’s changed,” Steven admitted.

“Steven,” his mother sighed with disappointment. “Why can’t you be
more like your sister? Follow her example.”

“Sure, Mom.”

He understood all the reasons why his mother saw Susan as a good role
model, but staring at himself in the mirror and envying the curves and
delicate features his sister possessed, Steven wished he was more like
her for other reasons. He just wanted to feel right in his own skin.

PLANET Z

“Why can’t you be more like your sister?” my parents say.
We’re twins. How can I be more like her?
Okay, she gets good grades. She’s nice and has lots of friends.
Head of the cheerleading squad.
I kept waiting for her to snap.
But she didn’t.
So, I did.
I killed her.
But not before letting my hair grow back out. Cleaning myself up.
Learning how to be her.
Then, when she said how proud she was of me, I killed her.
Or did she kill me?
After all, I’m pretending to be her, right?
Is it real?

Weekly Challenge #673 – KILL

Lifeguard

LIZZIE

The innkeeper tossed some logs in the fireplace. The room was warm enough but being slightly warmer always made people drink more. More drinking meant more money. And he needed a lot of money. He was desperate to rescue his daughter. He considered telling everyone. But he didn’t. If he told them, he’d go to Hell. He had crossed the line before when he and the blacksmith’s wife… Well…
What the innkeeper didn’t suspect was that the blacksmith knew how to drive one of those things that had landed in his back yard. And his daughter… She was already dead.

RICHARD

Killing time

I hate airports.

Well, not airports per se…

It’s the interminable waiting I can’t stand. I just don’t see why all those hours of hanging around doing nothing are necessary. And what are you supposed to do to kill the time?

Personally, I hit the bar, and after three hours of steady drinking, I can barely walk, let alone find my way to the right departure gate.

Of course, they never let me on the plane in that state; so it’s back to the departure lounge to kill more time while I sober up.

Next time, I’ll take the train.

TOM

Oh Ya Same to You

When I was a child I was fond of says let kill this or kill that. Of course I had never actually killed anything. I guess it was just talk to make me feel serious. The word entered my mental structures very early, as in THO SHALL NOT without must framework. Further it was pretty much ubiquitous in the late 1950’s early 1960’s. I sort of got the boarder meaning as unending image flood the air waves during the Vietnam War. Kill are a very raw and ignoble action. Now I only use the term to refer to deleting a computer file.

SERENDIPIDY

The factory floor was running smoothly, when suddenly a blood curdling scream rang out.

Eric had fallen into the processor.

I hit the kill switch and the machines fell silent, but it was too late. Even if we could have got him out, there wasn’t much of him left to bury.

There was also the question of what to do about the batch he’d tainted. We used it anyway.

People think that it’s the blend of secret herbs and spices that makes our chicken nuggets so good…

But actually, it’s down to the occasional employee we throw into the mix!

TURA

Kill

————

I had thought this neighbourhood secure, but suddenly, something shuffled out of the trees and ran at me. A zombie! I fled for the house and slammed the door, but it was already half way inside. Its arm fell off, but that wouldn’t stop it. I leapt for my pump-action shotgun.

“Muahahuhhh!” it wheezed through its rotting jaws. “You cannot kill what does not live!”

“This for your fallacious zombie philosophy!” I replied, blasting it into fragments. After checking that it wasn’t regenerating, I got a shovel to clean up the mess. Whatever it was before, it was dead now.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert noticed Linoliumanda wasn’t eating her lunch, so he asked, “So, Mr. Ziegler said your report was too wordy. Did he give you a grade?”

She blinked back unshed tears. “He gave me an A minus.”

“An A minus?” Billbert almost shouted. “I’d kill for a B minus. A minus is great”

Tears finally broke free. “You don’t understand. Harry Potter is the perfect story. It’s everything to me. It’s my life. I don’t know how I can go on if I don’t get a perfect grade on my report.”

“Honestly, Linoliumanda. Don’t kill yourself over a silly book report.”

LAIEANNA

As the machine mapped out and adapted to her brain patterns, Lady
Francis Garbone, gossip queen, slowly began to reveal information she
had accumulated over the years from her position in high society and
politics. Each word was recorded for later use, and even when her
speech grew quicker and nonsensical, we let her carry on. The exercise
was more than a reveal of hidden rumors. It was a punishment for
secrets already spilled – our secrets, a crime she had to pay for and
the execution was of her own doing as we allowed her to talk herself
to death.

PLANET Z

If looks could kill…
That’s what they said about Medusa, you know.
She could turn men to stone with just a single look.
They also said that the snakes on her head were poisonous.
But pretty much everyone was turned to stone before they were bitten by the snakes.
Tiresias was an ancient Greek prophet.
And he was blind.
“Do you hear hissing? said Tiresias to his boy companion.
But the boy didn’t speak.
He’d already been turned to stone by Medusa.
Tiresias felt around until his hands landed on the ghastly woman’s rack.
“Nice,” he said. “Fancy a kiss?”