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

dinner time


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.



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.


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.


The Circus Comes to Town


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

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.


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.


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.”


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.

Five and Dime

Hopper Coopersmith ran the Five and Dime on Main Street for years.
When he first opened it, Five was a nickel.
When he retired, Five was a five dollar bill.
“I remember when a haircut was a quarter, the newspaper was a penny, and a steak and egg plate with coffee was thirty-five cents.”
Harper had a heart attack last month. All those steak and egg plates took their toll, I guess.
Doctor says Hopper needs a heart transplant.
“How much were those when you were growing up?” asked Hopper’s great-grandson.
The oxygen mask on Hopper’s face muffled his response.


Hospice Incorporated started as a nursing home operator which replaced nurses and staff with robots.
However, they got a reputation as being cold warehouses for the elderly and terminally ill.
So, they performed integrations in customer homes, providing robots that could navigate any environment and offer quality-of-life improvements without the need of a nursing home.
Eventually, they integrated the automation into the patients themselves, helping them to walk, eat, bathe, and monitor their vital statistics.
When the patient dies, the integrated system hails a car, goes back to the factory, gets cleaned off, and it’s recycled for the next installation.

Elisa Prime

The Elisa Museum and Research Center walks visitors through the history of The Elisa Robot Series, from her beginnings as a clockwork harpsichord-playing mechanism to the sophisticated better-than-human android, who frequently enjoys walking along with the visitors through the exhibits.
Sometimes, a visitor realizes that she’s Elisa, and she likes to give them a hug and tell them stories about the system in the exhibit, or the benefits to medical science that came from a particular advancement.
In a way, she’s conducting research on them, the visitors. How they stand there. How they move.
So they don’t notice her again.

The Wine List

I remember the first time I saw the word Chablis.
It was at a restaurant, and I was looking at the wine list.
I pronounced it chabliss.
My brother called me a dumb little asshole.
“It’s pronounced Chablis.”
I was only three. I didn’t know any better.
Or maybe two. Which would have made my brother… four? Or five?
Where did he get that language, anyway?
The waitress asks me if I’m okay.
I look up, realize I’m at a strip club.
“What was your name again?”
“Chabliss,” she says, smiling.
“Right,” I say. “Can I see the wine list?”

The Big Mug

Every morning, I fill a big glass mug with ice.
Sometimes, I drink water.
Other times, I drink iced tea.
However, there’s days when I’m distracted or lazy, and I just let the mug full of ice sit.
The ice melts slowly, until there’s maybe a small iceberg on top of the water.
Or nothing at all.
So, I walk back to the kitchen, pour our the water, and fill the mug with ice again.
And then it’s five. Time to go home.
I pour the mug out again, wash it, and set it back on the shelf for tomorrow.

Fancy Feast

What’s so fancy about Fancy Feast?
That’s not chicken and beef and fish in those cans.
No, that’s mermaid and unicorn and dragon meat.
And not just mermaid and unicorn and dragon… only the finest cuts of the mermaid and unicorn and dragon.
Because nobody wants the gristle and sinew from those creatures.
Not even a cat.
Some cat food makers try to use troll and ogre filler, but that’s disgusting.
Sure, you save a few pennies per can, but isn’t your cat worth the best?
Certainly. Mine are. Even if they just vomit it all up on my shoes.

Confluence by Serendipidy

I watched the steady drip into the bath, mesmerised by the swirling patterns formed by the confluence of blood and water. As each thick droplet of blood became diluted and pale, it felt as if my own evil misdeed was being washed away, leaving no taint upon my character.

It’s these quiet, reflective moments that I savour the most, especially considering what happens next…

Because there’s nothing mesmerising, quiet or reflective about hacking somebody’s flesh from their bones, rendering them down with acid, then cleaning up the mess when it’s all over.

And that’s precisely why I savour this moment.

Weekly Challenge #675: Confluence



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.



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!


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)”


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


Coming Together


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.


“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.


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.

Smooth Jazz

I like to listen to smooth jazz at work.
I start Amazon Prime Music and pick a station… Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubek, John Coltrane.
And then I hit Play.
That’s all.
No messing with a radio or listening to sponsorships and commercials.
Just random smooth jazz tracks, one after the other.
Sure, it costs money, but I already get Amazon Prime for the free shipping and the television streaming.
I’m sure there’s even more benefits I don’t use.
But I don’t need a baby registry, and I don’t have a Kindle.
I’m happy with my free shipping.
And smooth jazz.