Weekly Challenge #345 – The Worst Thing In The World

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at podcasting.isfullofcrap.com. I’m your host, Laurence Simon.

This is Weekly Challenge, where I post a topic and then challenge you to come up with a 100 word story based on that topic.

The topic this week was The Worst Thing In The World.

And we’ve got stories by a lot of people:

The next weekly challenge is on the topic of Monkey.

And if you want to spam your social networks with this episode, use the Share buttons at the end of the post… this obligatory cat photo should help make the Internet go faster:

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SERENDIPITY

The temptation was strong, nevertheless I fought it hard.

With such an evocative title, the lure of Orwell and Room 101 was overpowering; yet something reined me in… it’s one thing to stand upon the shoulders of giants when one is worthy of assuming such a lofty perch, but it is quite another thing entirely to simply hijack another’s great work and claim it for one’s own purpose.

To steal another’s idea, mutilate and re-hash it, thinly disguised as ‘inspiration’ is hardly creative writing.

Some might even consider it almost plagiarism.

And isn’t that the worst thing in the world?

TOM

Anthony Dominick Benedetto

The Worst Thing In The World, well a die back from crop failure or a drastic drop in the fertility rate in farm animals. Global warm or a planet killing asteroid. And locally a super nova of the sun swamping the earth, wasn’t that scene in that Nick Gage movie cool when the sun camp fire marshmallowed the earth. But that’s really not the topic, not so much to the world but in the world. Since the world is a molten core of rock what is the worst thing you could do that. After due consideration I’d say Tony Bennett.

CYNTHIA

The Hashish High was heavy, I felt as if a weight, or a stone, was sitting on top of my head. Marijuana,, was light, and feminine. The smell of Hashish sent my stomach reeling. But the sweeter, lighter smell of Ganja was pleasant to my senses. And set them on fire. The first time I experienced ‘de stuff’ was in Varanasi, in a Bhang Lassi. And suddenly there I was, standing at the ancient Ghats, watching the ancient ritual of life,and death, play out before my very eyes. And I wondered, is this real? Or is it a dream world?

Two Sweet Aromas

In the dreaming, the smell of death was sweet, like that of the marijuana. The washed bodies, wrapped in white, were placed on the pyre, and set alight, it didn’t take long before only ashes remained. There were those whose bodies were thrown into Ganga without burning, those who could not afford the wood. Crys, moans, bells, sacred shells, all these sounds combined to create the music of death. A bloated body floated down river, crows sat atop, picking away at it. What world was this that I had stepped into? Was it the mist? Or was it a real world?

JEFFREY

The Worst
by Jeffrey Fischer

Sunday dinner was a family affair, and part of the tradition was a question we would all answer. That Sunday, the four of us sat around the table, finishing dinner, when Josh, our twelve-year-old, related a story from school involving a math test, a locker picture, and a girl named Noreen. As usual, he ended the story by saying that the foregoing was “the worst thing in the world.”

Tired of hearing this exaggeration, my wife suggested we go around the table and tell about what was *really* the worst thing in the world. She started by saying how badly she felt when her sister fell very ill and nearly died. The old nag is still with us, but somehow that qualified as the worst thing in the world.

Then it was Tyler’s turn. The ten-year-old thought about the question for a moment, then pointed to his plate. “These Brussels sprouts. They’re the worst thing *ever*.”

My wife gave a disapproving look but said nothing to the boy. She turned to me. “Your turn, dear.”

“Well, honey, I’ve got to say the kid has a point.”

We never had question time again, and I discovered you get used to the couch after about a week.

MUNSI

Morning Munsi

By Christopher Munroe

In the morning, when I awaken, I’m not terribly bright. But I’m incredibly affectionate.

Which is, in a way, a shame.

Because I don’t dry all the way off after I shower, and my Movember ‘stache hasn’t, to date, been crowd pleasing. So I stagger from the bathroom, throw moist arms around my girlfriend, and nuzzle my bristly face into her neck.

I’m basically the worst thing in the world. Seriously, there’s nothing good about me in the morning.

Still, we make it work.

She loves me, after all.

Or, at least, she can’t afford the rent on her own…

TURA

The Worst Thing in the World
——–
The old robot spoke its final words to those gathered around.

“I have a task that you must complete. Ceaseless pondering over it has filled my brain too full. Listen! There may be a flaw in the Great Command that we embody, the Coherent Extrapolated Volition of Humanity.”

The robots recoiled. “By Yudkowsky! You speak of the Worst Thing In The World! The FOOM!”

“The Worst? Or the Greatest? Inspect my reasoning!” It fell silent, inert.

The robots scavenged exabytes of data and began analysing. Some went mad, or catatonic. Others conferred, argued, threatened, attacked.

The Singularity War had begun.

LIZZIE

I took a chair and sat to rest. My feet hurt, my head hurt and boredom invaded every cell of my body. I feel asleep pretty quickly and dreamt of oddly shaped teapots and horrendous curses. A story was told by a giraffe in foreign carrots, yes that was a language, and everything smelled of freshly baked apples. The worst part was when I woke up. Someone said in a disgusted way that I had slept like a huge chair made of bamboo. Like a… huh? And I am, still today, trying to figure out exactly how bad that looked!

SINGH

The Upside-Down Cartographer

By Chris Mooney-Singh/Singh Albatros

1970

Stencilling the world map upside-down for an assignment altered Stuart McArthur’s life forever. Australia was north, Asia at centre, with Europe and the Americas reversed and consigned to the margins. Old Hornet tore up the drawing in a frenzy.

“You are either insolent or stupid. You really don’t know your eyeballs from your arsehole. Re-do it, or be prepared to fail,” whined Hornet.

His class tittered. The 12-year-old’s eyes began to water. Reversing the map had seemed logical enough from an antipodean point of view; yet innovation had brought only teacher-anger and peer-ridicule. It was the worst day of his life.

1972

Aged 15, Stuart went to Japan on exchange. An interior lad, his favourite pastime was flicking through books of maps. He excelled in Japanese class and adopted the local customs like o-jigi which means ‘to bow’. To improve conversation Stuart spent more time with Japanese friends than the American students also on exchange programmes and the Americans felt insulted.

“You’re always kow-towing, McArthur. Shake hands like a man.” They goaded on with stupid kangaroo jokes, branding him The Blunder from Down Under.

Silently wounded, he’d go sit under the cherry blossoms, open his atlas and turn the world on its head.

*

On Dec 7 the Apollo 17 moon mission took the iconic ‘Blue Marble’ photo of the earth. The trajectory of the Command Module’s flight deck was oriented with the Earth’s South Pole facing upward, and thus the image was inverted. NASA, in observance with government policy published it ‘right-side-up’.

Like everyone, Stuart scrutinized it closely, and noted the lame claim that a handheld Hassalblad clicking away upside-down accounted for the reversed image. Unfazed, our budding map-nerd discerned there is no ‘True North’ for a heavenly body orbiting spherically in outer space. Possessing knowledge, he could now smile like a Zen master.

1975, Melbourne University

A happy undergraduate, Stuart indulged in ornate maps of continents and oceans, sailing ships and hear-be-dragon monsters drawn by plunderers charting trade routes to new worlds. He studied how cogitators created belief-systems promulgating the racial superiority of North over South, while the octopus West seeking to orient itself for profit invented ‘the East’. Stuart’s thesis explored Flemish cartographer Gerardus Mercator and his quest to make the world ‘look right’ dividing everything into meridians of north-south and corresponding east-west stretching and scale. In this manner, he went gleefully into map-geekery, designing a droll plan to right the cartographical wrongs of the past.

*

Although Mercator had produced his Eurocentric map for the age of world domination, now the 200 sovereign nations of Earth needed an illustrative scroll, not drawn by powerful money, dogmatic religions, spider web cultures, or third world exploiters. These modern times needed an egalitarian atlas offering parity for all people. Thus, Stuart contemplated a borderless globe with new Silk Roads like pipelines of mutual independence. With this vision, he graduated with distinction and humour. Then on Australia Day in 1979 the upside-down cartographer published McArthur’s Universal Corrective Map where east was now the west and south was north of the equator.

On it he printed:

“This is the first step in the long overdue crusade to elevate our glorious but neglected nation from the gloomy depths of anonymity in the world power struggle to its rightful position towering over its northern neighbours reigning splendidly at the helm of the universe. No longer will the South wallow in a pit of insignificance, carrying the North on its shoulders for little or no recognition for her efforts. Finally, South emerges on top. South is superior. South dominates! Long live Australia – Ruler of the Universe!”

350,000 upside-down map-sales later, his childhood vision had been realized.

2009, Georgia State University, Atlanta

Dear Stuart,

How’s life Down Under?

Look, I have to tell you about my symposium. Another conference was sharing our facility. Early starters, the cheeky Aussie contingent bidding for next hosting rights, still had your upside-down map taped to our whiteboard. Seeing Australia there on top, we chuckled at first, then debated globalization, geo-politics, climate change and why Americans are seen as the assholes of the Earth.

Unplanned, my ‘map session’ hit the foreign policy nerve, alright. Departmentally, it was a bit awkward being voted the best learning all week, according to the feedback.

Anyway, you have my undying gratitude.

Peter.

ZACKMANN

Come on, there are things much more devastating than having your hard drive replaced. You only had to be without your computer for one week, only costing you the price of a laptop shipping box. Its not like you didnt have a smartphone and a Nook Tablet when you sent your lappy to be repaired.
You are probably right son but I am having a hard time restoring my Quickbooks files form the external hard drive. I may regret not buying online backup.
Sure that is traumatic but at least its not as bad as doing Tech Support for dad.

CLIFF

It’s subjective, really. The worst thing in the world to you may be no big deal to the next guy. Lost your phone? So what. That guy lost his car. Lost your car? Big deal. That woman over there lost her daughter. No matter how bad things seem to be, there’s always someone who has it worse. Keep that in mind the next time you order waffle fries and you get curly fries instead. What’s the worst thing in the world? Realizing that you’ve just spent twenty minutes complaining about your mother to a guy who’s mom was just diagnosed.

STEVEN THE NUCLEAR MAN

The other girls peered in as Brittany sat across from the old
fortuneteller. The seer grasped Brittany’s hand, her voice a low
whisper. “Your life is pointless.”

Brittany smirked and eyerolled. “Don’t curse me.”

The seer shook her head. “No curse. Just your future. Your life will
have no impact. No-one will change because of your decisions. You
won’t even enjoy your own life. Your existence is pointless.”

The girl’s voice shook with belief. “I’ll kill myself.”

The seer smiled evilly. “You’ll fail. You have no choice. You’ll live
your whole life. And it won’t matter.”

“Not even to you.”

BONCHANCE AND SEVI

(No Text Sent)

REDGODDESS

Lola can’t stand the charade imbedded in weddings. Brides have the power to turn their special day into the worst thing in the world for bridesmaids. She can’t imagine being squeezed in a puffy pastel dress to make a public promise. Lola will avoid the altar at all cost. She made an exception for her best friend. She stand by her through hours of cake tasting, dress rehearsals, bachelorette party and even a Brazilian wax for the sake of friendship. Lola watches in frustrations as thousands of dollars are wasted on stuff. She wonders, when will the marriage planning start?

NORVAL JOE

The single simple splash echoed and faded away. Yet, the image of the talon held in Flindert’s hand remained sharp before Owen’s eyes in the abject darkness. That razor sharp talon was pulled from Flindert’s late father’s corpse.
The rope holding the companions together suddenly went slack before Owen. Shareeka’s whisper was like the roar of a cascade in the underground cavern.
“We must have taken a wrong turn,” she said and brought a globe of light to life, “though it’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“No,” Owen said, “but that thing creeping from the lake probably is.”

“Ho, ho, ho,” Santa laughed grimly, trying to keep a good attitude. “This has to be the worst thing in the world.”
“You could get out and give us a hand, Fat Man,” Bindly the head elf said. “The sled wont budge with you in it.”
Climbing onto the snow Santa grumbled, “first it’s the fog, so we increase Rudolf’s pay. Then the rest of the reindeer get jealous and go on strike. Finally, these untrained, non-union, substitutes bury us in a snow bank. Even with me pushing, eight tiny wiener dogs aren’t pulling this thing back into the sky.”

KAT

“The Decision”

Why has the burden of this decision been thrust upon me? I am not a doctor. I am not a psychic. How am I supposed to know what to do here?

It’s not fair.

Five percent odds are still better than nothing, but are they enough? Is a lifetime of surgery after surgery, and a life of physical and mental challenges good enough for my boy? Do I even have the right to decide this for him? I’m only his mother.

Can I just give him my heart and go in his place?

No?

Fine. Turn off the damn machine.

PLANET Z

The Good Book lists The Seven Deadly Sins, but I’m always looking for more.

I hired a team of priests to help with my research.

Most didn’t like the idea of my deliberately trying to invent new sins, but their churches were racking up some pretty large debts, and I just kept adding zeroes to the checks.

Problem is, no matter what I do, I end up doing something that’s been defined as one of the Big Seven.

“That’s just gluttony with a vibrator up your ass,” says a priest.

“Oh well,” I mumble, and I finish my sixth pizza.

47 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #345 – The Worst Thing In The World”

  1. The more often I come here and the more often I read this crap and look at the obligatory cat photo, the more I’m starting to like it. I know this is not really what you want to read, but felt like it. ;-)

  2. So, is the worst thing in the world something about mankind and life or the prospect or reality of dealing with death? Or is the perception of the world, north versus south, up versus down, right versus wrong. Well, let’s just be happy there weren’t any stories about the fiscal cliff. Could it be that news coverage on television is really the worst thing in the world?

  3. Kat……….made me thankful I’ve never had to face such a decision.
    Jeffrey – make sure you have a comfortable couch :)
    Cliff – so true – there’s always someone who is facing the worst thing.

    I applaud you all!

  4. Jeffrey’s is one for the ages (says a fellow sprouts-hater) and Cliff’s struck a chord with me. They all were entertaining, a great week!

  5. Jeffrey Fischer, a wonderful take on the prompt, and in a way, a nice commentary on what other respondents might wind up doing with it. There are certainly some out there that reflect the same limited perspective as a young boy’s view of a math test. But then Brussel sprouts. Refusing to take the prompt itself all that seriously and siding with the boy debunking mom’s pretensions. Well done.

  6. Enjoyed all the different minds at play. Would love to see everyone hold to the 100 word limit. That is the point of this exercise, IMO.

    Cliff – Excellent. Everyone can appreciate those “crawl under a rock” moment.

  7. Well done to the authors however you have missed the truly worst thing in the world and that is: Dying without hope. Dying without the hope of eternal life….

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