Weekly Challenge #371 – Act

Welcome to the 100 Word Stories podcast at oneadayuntilthedayidie.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 ACT:

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

The next 100 word stories weekly challenge is on the topic of STAGE.

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:

Crazy cat


THOMAS

If nothing else, she knew how to act. At 5’2”, she was a bundle of energy and talent. Little Dina, “Miss Dina” to her friends, could sing, dance and act. Her roles consisted of little girl and old lady parts. She retired after teaching at an exclusive girls school in the San Francisco Bay Area, and devoted time to her husband, and her beautiful garden. She still practiced the black arts…that is, she and her trio of black, Siamese mixes. Both she and the cats stalked and ate field mice and the hapless song bird that landed in the garden.

#

Tommy cheated on the ACT. He paid an older and smarter boy to take the test. His score jumped from eleven to thirty-five after hiring his doppelganger. The high score would assure his entrance into the college of choice. Tommy was going into the law. Although cheating on an important exam was a bad start for a lawyer, his desire to go into criminal law was an apt fit. Also, Tommy had no conscience, whatsoever. Never did. Never will. Perfect for corporate law, too. He went on to graduate and work with Monsanto, Dow and the El Chapo Guzman family.

#

Foss didn’t act appropriately at church, school, or when riding on public transportation. All other times, he was a perfect gentleman. No one could figure out the connection, but a clever man from Austin, Texas put two and two together and discovered that the seating at church, school, and on the bus had similar properties. Poor Foss had a serious allergy to Naugahyde. Naugahyde was made from the skins of the Nauga…an odd creature, native to Sumatra. Exposure to the off-gasing of the material affected Foss in such a way, that he would babble and recite Bible verses, trembling uncontrollably.

#

The large, block, letters painted on the big, back window act to warn the birds in the garden from flying into the glass. After witnessing a bird, taking its last breath, a speck of blood coming from its mouth, he was sick. He went to the garage, found and old can of white paint and a brush, and immediately painted the words “NO BIRDS” on his window. The warning has been there for two years, and no poor little birds have been hurt since. It is ugly, and the electric meter reader looked puzzled the first time she saw it.

#

Acts, chapter twenty, verse thirty reads: “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” This was on the poster for the fourth Friday poetry reading at the local coffee shop. It was a hook to recruit students for TJ’s writing workshop. It was subtle, but those that read the poster were curious enough to ask what the author of the poster meant, and he shrugged and said he thought it was catchy, and quoting Bible verse might entice some to join or pull in some of the atheists, wiccans, and agnostics.

JEFFREY

Act of God
by Jeffrey Fischer

The insurance company said the flood was an “act of God.” They pointed to tiny print in my contract and wouldn’t pay a dime. Act of God? More like poor maintenance by the water company, letting a water main break. What’s insurance for, anyway?

Well, we’ll see what those suits think of an “act of God” when they arrive at their burned-out shell of an office tomorrow. God starts fires, right?

If they still don’t pay, God and I know where each of those suits lives.

The Heist
by Jeffrey Fischer

“Act naturally,” Jose told me. We lounged against the brick wall of the Main Street Savings and Loan, trying to look like two guys having a conversation, rather than two guys on the lookout for any cops who might wander into the bank at the wrong time.

Everything was cool until the alarm sounded. Buzz and Rodrigo ran out, masks still on, a bag of cash in each hand. Two security guards followed, guns drawn.

Even then we might have escaped, melting into the crowd. Then Buzz slapped a bag into my hand and said, “Nice work, Slim! Here’s your share” before jumping into a waiting car.

Acting naturally doesn’t help when your accomplice is an idiot.

RICHARD

#1 – Dilemma

How should I act?

Always that same question… Should I be bold and brash, or cool and confident; should I project assertiveness or show off my sensitive side? Inevitably, I knew I’d get it wrong and, as always, it would end in complete disappointment.

Whether it was an interview, a first date or that all-important business meeting, you could always guarantee I’d blow it.

People would try and be helpful, but always the advice was the same: ‘Just be yourself’.

The thing is, it’s never quite as simple as ‘just being yourself’, when you suffer from having multiple personalities.

#2 – Acts of heroism

I’ve no time for Superman and his heroic services to justice – he’s not my idea of a hero.

I’d like to see him take on the forces of evil without his superpowers – because when you have the strength to move mountains, laser vision, lightning speed and can fly it’s no big deal; I’d probably be doing the same in his position.

What I’d like to see is Clark Kent have a go, without the cape and bulletproof skin – let’s see him protect the citizens of Metropolis, with only his glasses and briefcase to protect him.

Now that, would be heroic!

#3 – Act 2

My agent glared at me.

I’d promised him a completed draft and now, with only five minutes before meeting the producers, all he had was the first act, which was a shame, because most of the action and my cunning twist in the plot all happened in the second act.

I’d spent weeks working on that second act, poured all my creative skills into writing it, but all I had now was a pedestrian first act that lacked any real merit.

It was there when I caught the bus this morning, but somewhere on the journey….

I’d lost the plot.

#4 – Acting on instinct

Although the situation was completely novel to him, George’s instincts kicked in – almost without thinking he knew exactly how to act:

‘Rule 1’, he thought: ‘Find cover and get to know your environment.’

It was a good start, but it had been a while since he’d needed to rely quite so heavily on instinct, so for now, Rule 2 would just have to wait.

Running in a semi-crouch he’d picked up from the movies, he skirted a wall and, keeping a careful watch rearwards as he ran, failed to see the trouble straight ahead he was about to run into!

STEVEN THE NUCLEAR MAN

“C’mon,” the bear says,

gestures with a paw, a grin

“let’s catch some fish.”

The tiger follows the bumbling oaf

– her bumbling oaf –

her deliberate pawsteps behind

the crash and crunch of him

plowing through the bush.

She pretends to learn to fish.

In their cave feasting,

warm fish flesh sliding

gills tickling tastebuds,

the bear idly says he knew the spot

– he learned it –

from a friend,

a she-bear he knows.

His words crash and crunch.

As he lay asleep snoring bear snores, paw across her fur

she plots and plans how best to kill a bear.

MUNSI

Dinner Theater’s More Dangerous than You’d Think

By Christopher Munroe

During act two she had a heart attack.

She collapsed, friends rushing to the lobby to summon an ambulance, paramedics, the whole process.

And nobody told the actors. With stage lights to blind them, none of them had any inkling what was going on amongst the crowd.

So they continued the show.

Though they did realize, at some point, that they’d lost them. The laughter, so freely flowing during act one, had stopped, and they were baffled as to why.

They thought it was somehow their fault.

And I had to explain that it wasn’t them who’d died up there….

TOM

Brush Up your Shakespeare

Ren fairs are more invasive then yeast cultures. But the grand daddy of them all is the Northern California Fair. A few summers ago I volunteered to play in a DIY Shakespeare show. It was a cross between Six Characters in Search of an Author and Dueling Brandos. Random lines deliver from one of the bard’s work would get totally disjunctive replies from another work. My line was: Inconstant Moon, but that’s not what I yelled out. O, swear not by the moon, the incontinent moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable

LIZZIE

He hated publicity. Oh, no. No one was going to control him. He only did what he liked and not what they wanted. The problem started when he fell in love. He was not the master of his own life anymore; everything depended on her. He would go to the cafeteria just to see her and he waited for her at the supermarket to help with the heavy shopping bags. This lasted months until he saw an outdoor publicity that said “Act!” And that’s what he did; he simply kissed her! “I didn’t succumb to publicity after all,” he thought.

SERENDIPITY

He doubted that many loathed children quite so fervently – he hated everything about them, from their shrill screams and puerile giggling, to their sticky fingers and snotty noses.

Grimly he wondered how anyone could like the little buggers, yet he knew from experience that parents doted on them and could see no wrong in their ‘delightful’ progeny.

As he trudged through the wet grass, the clamour of young voices reached his ears, and he shuddered.

Grimacing, he straightened his bow-tie, pulled aside the canvas doorway and fell into the ring.

The children cheered, as the clown began his act.

SINGH

“Don’t over act, Meiling. Just go with the moment,” he cajoled.
The shoot was in a luxurious condominium pool next to the jungle.
Floating naked on the blow-up bed she was trying to cover up with a banana leaf. Johnny the male lead eyed her lustfully.
“Aiyoh, Director, first you say you use my dummy for this part. Now you change.
“Sorry. No budget, sweetheart.”
“This is very difficult.”
“Look, you want the job?”
“Yes, but,”
“Take it or leave it.
“But what if…”
“Relax. Believe me, this will kickstart your career.”
“Oh no…”
“Ok, open the crocodile cage, now!”

CLIFF

Acting is in the blood or so the saying goes. There are snobs who say that only Shakespearean theatre is true acting. Others say that you must do the Greek tragedies. On the other hand, those who do beer commercials are technically actors. Most people accept that, if you stand in front of a camera or on a stage and you say words that someone else wrote, then you are an actor. Some of us have more stringent standards. Acting is in the blood but actors are an acquired taste. A wise vampire is selective about the actors he chooses.

ISHTAR

I wanted to write a hundred word story about acting out.

Act out and be who you really are. Express yourself with all your potential.

But I wasn’t sure how it would work. Don’t we all do that every day.

Sure acting out can be fun, interesting or challenging. I want to act out more daily to keep sane while looking for work.

But today I decided, why not have fun doing it. Dress up like a super hero. Dress up in steam punk. Heck even run with scissors.

Act up I say. Act like a dinosaur running with scissors.

REDGODDESS

A warm soapy shower can wash away Lola’s daily aches. This morning though, she has too much on her mind to linger under the water. She stepped out and glanced at the foggy mirror. She can see her curves, the silhouette of her habits. Thirty more pounds before she becomes the mere image of her estranged mother. The stress has stretched to her belly and hips. Even though she grew up a world away from her, when cornered, she acts just like her mother. Her worse fear is now a reality, becoming the woman who abandoned her. Her body too, is steering toward a bigger betrayal, forcing her to face her past.

NORVAL JOE

A girl in a bright yellow, sundress held her soldier’s arm and smiled up at him, tears in her eyes.
Senator Porkpocket wrapped an arm around the soldier, eyed the television camera’s with a broad smile, and made a thumbs up with his other hand.
“Our state stands behind our young men serving abroad, and we stand behind those who return to us so bravely.”
The Soldier, the boy, shifted his crutch to maintain his balance on his new prosthetic leg. He stood tall, brave and stoic, his eyes fierce.
In their own way, each knew it was an act.

JUSTIN

My father went to work one day, but he never returned. Soon mother had sold everything, and debts were due, so the collector man came and took my brothers and sisters away to pay for the debts.

He didn’t take me because I was too small.

I’ll show him, I’ll show everyone! I’m going to rescue my brothers and sisters.

Weather they be on land, sea or air, I will find them, and I will bring them home to mother.

And, maybe, I will find father while I am out there.

Then we can all be a family again. Together.

DANNY

The level of violence is off the scale. “What do you think?” NANCY GRACE asked. “What, right now?” I responded. “No, tomorrow night!” the bitch replied. “What a relief! I hate thinking under pressure, which leads me to realize we are actually doing our children a favor sending them to a cold concrete box called school, pretending they can learn in such a cold cinderblock environment. We are not teaching them how to think nor act, how to stand on their own two feet, we are just teaching them how to behave within an unreasonably structured society.” Then the FBI stormed in.

TURA

When a new emperor is installed, he proclaims his First Act, which is customarily to execute the previous emperor’s advisors for disloyalty. Some also execute the senior secretaries and generals.

When Kang-sheng ascended the Peacock Throne, he proclaimed his First Act against the country itself, for having changed its allegiance to every new emperor down the centuries.

General Wei declared, “Let us truly grasp the significance of this Emperor’s superlative First Act!” That night, the Emperor’s guards imprisoned him, while a new Emperor was installed, whose First Act was only to execute Kang-sheng. Thereafter, the First Act fell into disuse.

ZACKMANN

“Isn’t your friend Paul in the theater?”

“What’s that sonny?”

“Is Paul in Acts?”

“Of Course Paul is in the book of Acts.”

“I wish you would stop acting like you are hard of hearing.”

“Well, I wish you would stop actsing me stupid questions, why does someone your age want to spend time in an old people’s home anyway? Why are you hanging out with your juvenile delinquent friends?”

“Because I didn’t want to serve my community service with anyone who smells like Ax body spray.”

“Too bad, you could have severed it as stagehand for my friend Paul.”

PLANET Z

“The time for debate is over,” said the president. “It is time to act.”

He then left the podium, went back to his dressing room, and put on his costume.

In the meantime, the press secretary handed out programs.

After a few minutes, he flicked the lights to let the press corps know it was time to take their seats.

Three hours later, the curtain came down.

Some applauded.
Some didn’t.

There was much debate about the performance among the press.

Until one reporter stood up and said:

“The time for debate is over…”

They ran to their dressing rooms.

3 thoughts on “Weekly Challenge #371 – Act”

  1. A nice one-two punch with Lizzie’s story and Serendipity’s story.

    Re: that little aside about homonyms: Crap, don’t become a homonym-phobe, lest the politically-correct but illiterate crowd come after you!

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