Weekly Challenge #693 – PICK TWO alligator, bath, vindictive, caterwaul, mildred, bruises, That’s Life, mush

Tin

NORVAL JOE

Linoliumanda dropped to Billbert’s side, checked carefully for bruises and then threw her arms around him. “You poor boy. What happened to you?”

One of the boys in the crowd laughed and said, “That’s life. You mess with a guy’s girlfriend, he just might turn you into mush. I don’t think Tony was being vindictive, just protecting what he thought was his.”

Linoliumanda sat back on her feet and frowned. “You’ve been messing around with a girl other than me?”

Billbert coughed. “No. I just told Marrissa I’d meet her at the dance. I was hoping you’d be there, too.”

SERENDIPIDY

he first rule of Fight Club, is you don’t talk about Fight Club.

That makes it difficult to explain away some of the consequences of Fight Club.

There’s the cuts and bruises, black eyes and the occasional missing tooth, and when you walk into work sporting a fresh set of injuries, people are going to ask questions.

Now, I’m not a vindictive person but somebody has to take the rap, and that somebody is my husband.

That’s why everyone in work thinks he’s a wife beater, and it’s also why everyone at Fight Club is out to get the bastard!

TOM

Extreme Skill Set-

Frank was the goto person when you need a particularly difficult job done. Take alligator bathing. Not number one on my list, but then I’m not Frank. Frank discovered gators are rather fond of bubble baths. They like to have their stomachs rubbed with a brisk bath brush. Odd as this might seem prefer cold water to hot. I ask Frank once what was the trickiest part of bathing an alligator? “It not so much the bathing part,” noted Frank, “It’s the towel drying. They tend to see this as an excellent opportunity to take off your arm.”

Queen of the Adriatic –

Aaa Venice. Piazza San Marco St. Mark’s Basilica, the home of the Gothic masterpiece Doge’s Palace. A city so historic a permit for a skylight cost one10,000 lira and take three years to process. A city will worst August disease victors then Paris. A city whose mere air did in the heir to the Holy Roman Empire. A city sinking into the sea, because unlike most respectful city is pretty much built on mud. The only reason it has gone the way of Atlantis is millions of peer of Alder has resisted the effect of the sea. A city on peers

RICHARD

Bathtime

My wife had that look in her eye again.

The pile of towels that she dumped unceremoniously next to me, accompanied by that accusatory sigh, spoke more eloquently than any words ever could.

“We’ve been through this before”, I said. “Your dog: Your responsibility! If you’re going to let him play in the mud, you bath him!”

She grabbed the towels and headed for the bathroom, grumbling.

I waited for the inevitable shrieks, crashes and cursing that would follow, whilst idly pondering the practicalities of buying her an alligator for her birthday.

Now, that would be a bathtime worth watching!

LIZZIE

The pilot wanted to land the plane. He wanted to drop every single passenger safely at the airport. He checked his flight plan and was confident he could do just that. He greeted them one by one. He smiled and exchanged a few words of encouragement with those flying for the first time. Mid-air, the stewardess said someone wanted to talk to him. He left the cabin and… saw her. He knew right there and then that the passengers weren’t safe. He was going to kill a few and bruise a bunch.
“Where is she sitting, again?” he asked, sneering.

PLANET Z

It’s okay to sing in the shower.
But dancing in the shower is a bad idea.
You’ll slip and fall.
Maybe you’ll hit your head on something.
And if you wake up, you’ll wake up bloody and bruised.
Everything’s blurry and out of focus.
What the hell just happened?
You check your teeth… they’re all still there.
See the blood in the shower, check yourself for cuts.
Try to dry your hair with a towel, blood on the towel.
And as you try to get out, you slip again.
Hit your head again.
And back into the dark you go.

Weekly Challenge #692 – PEER

Sofa baby panther

LIZZIE

Those bags looked interesting, he thought. He walked closer, watching the passengers, checking if anyone was keeping an eye on them. Nope. He sat next to them. Vintage. He could sell them for a nice amount, plus all the clothes inside, perhaps even a computer. As he walked away, he felt something wiggling inside one of them. He hid behind a building and opened it slowly. The clothes were moving. The moment he decided to close the bag and leave it behind, something jumped from underneath and bit him on the face. His last words were “Curiosity killed the thief”.

RICHARD

Night terrors

You awake suddenly: Your sleep disturbed by an unexpected noise in the silence of the night.

Straining to hear, the only sound is the thumping of your own heart and the white noise of an empty house.

You peer into the darkness, eyes wide, your fevered imagination turning shadows into demons; unfamiliar shapes into unwelcome intruders.

Silence. Darkness. A void into which your primal fears creep, disturbing and all too real.

You’re on edge, even though logic says there’s nothing to fear. You force yourself to relax.

Then, terror! As a warm, heavy mass thuds onto your chest!

Bloody cat!

SERENDIPIDY

The great thing with having a hole in the fence, conveniently situated at eye level is people can’t resist peeping through; especially when the fence surrounds the house at the end of the street that spawns all those whispered rumours.

However, there’s little to see – an overgrown patch of land, a child’s rusty swing, that’s about it.

At least that’s all that you’ll register before you learn why you should never peer through holes in the fence around the house at the end of the street.

And the last thing you’ll see?

The crossbow, aimed precisely at your eyeball.

TURA

Peer
———
Someone had driven dangerously, but who? The self-aware, self-employed, self-driving taxi, or the passenger who had ordered such haste? The passenger blamed the car, which surprisingly agreed, contested the charge, and insisted on trial by a jury of its peers.

But who is the peer of a sentient taxi? Eventually, it was tried by a human jury, but precedent was set.

And now, pretty much anything with a brain, whatever it’s made of, is equal before the law— but perhaps not for long. With robots getting smarter, the question must soon be asked, are humans still the equal of robots?

NORVAL JOE

Billbert lay on his back and closed his eyes, breathing slowly, waiting for the pain in his stomach to pass. He heard someone approach and stop beside him. He opened his eyes to peer at the students towering above him, hoping to see a familiar, friendly face. He recognized none from the group of peers crowding around him.

A boy pointed at him. “Dude. What happened to you?”

Billbert slowly drew in a breath to explain, but stopped when he heard a familiar voice from outside the circle of students.

“Billbert. Is that you?” Linoliumanda pushed through the gawking bystanders.

PLANET Z

I’m a good writer.
But I still make mistakes.
So, everything I write gets peer reviewed.
That way, someone else can catch my mistakes.
Then, I can produce even better writing.
The peer review is meant to be covering my blind spot for mistakes.
But someimes, I feel hunted. In the spotlight. Attacked.
Any mistake I make is that much worse.
Which makes me nervous, so I make even more mistakes.
But that’s okay. I can be as sloppy as I want to be.
Someone else will catch the mistakes.
Until… it’s time for me to peer review someone else.

Weekly Challenge #691 – DEVOTION

Myst

RICHARD

Devotion

The trouble with religion – no matter which brand – is the level of devotion demanded from those who choose to follow them.

You’re either spending time being charitable, or performing ritual obligations to honour your selected deity.

Those vague promises about the afterlife, eternity and absolution are all very well, but in the absence of proof, it’s a lot of embarrassing mucking about when you could be doing something more interesting.

So, I’m starting my own religion, and the only devotional act I require is that you fill the collection plate… After that, you can believe whatever you want!

LIZZIE

He was devoted to his hobby and he had the best tools. He looked up. Days under the blazing sun hadn’t discouraged him. The pole had to be perfect for the challenge. It took him a while to accomplish his goal but he chopped it off. A blaze of sparkles scattered in all directions as the pole hit the sand.

“One more. Victory!”

What followed was a lot more impressive than a few sparkles. He didn’t even see it coming.

The military knew nothing while the media spent weeks debating if there had been any victims of that misguided bomb.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert obviously didn’t know when to shut up. Though he could barely breathe through his constricted throat, he wheezed, “Marrissa clearly doesn’t have the devotion for you that you think you have for her, or she wouldn’t have asked to meet me at the dance.”

Tony blinked his eyes as if considering a possible response and then slugged Billbert in the stomach and pushed him backward onto the grass.

Billbert clutched his stomach and lay in the middle of the soccer field. He watched Tony turn and run to the busses in time to climb on before they drove away.

SERENDIPIDY

“That’s so touching”, people say, and I suppose there is something special about a little dog that sits with utter devotion at their owner’s graveside.

People stop and give me treats, blankets and food. The local newspaper even ran an article about me… ‘Faithful companion, even after death’.

I’m happy to let them think what they want, but at night, I sneak back to the warmth of my own kennel!

My vigil has nothing to do with devotion, love or loyalty.

I’m just waiting for the body to rot so I can make a decent meal of the old bugger!

TOM

Seek Now Reason Within These Walls –

In Matters of religious consistency do not expect satisfaction when questioning practice to purpose. As a child I was on mission to get my grandfather out of purgatory. To this end I took my entire piggy bank of change and dumped it in to the metal offering bank below the bank of tiny votive candles. Lit all of them. Next day I get call into the principal’s office. I get I through dressing down for nearly burning the church down. I said if you didn’t want them all lit why did pull so much out there. No reply to that.

PLANET Z

The security cameras show the girl’s valet unit pushing her out of traffic before the truck destroyed it.
Is it possible for a robot to be devoted? Or is it just programming?
We reassembled the damaged valet’s memory core and installed it in another unit.
It booted up and greeted us, and asked to see the girl.
The girl ran up to the valet, hugged it, and thanked us for fixing her friend.
She seemed to be completely devoted to the valet.
So, we shut her down and began analyzing her memory core.
Devoted companion robots will make a fortune.

Weekly Challenge #690 – CURRENT

Myst in grass

LIZZIE

The current state of affairs is grim. What did I do to deserve this. All I wanted was a little garden with a touch of originality. But that greenish tone. I hate it. It makes me want to puke. And those little ducks floating about in a neat little line make me want to kill them though they are fake ducks. I sit here and wonder. Could I paint this in black and fire the decorator?

“Honey, help me here. I’m not sure whether to go for a twisted branch or for a straight one. Just love the green tone!”

RICHARD

Half-Baked

I’d always had aspirations to become a journalist, but dad was a baker, and his dad before him, and I had little choice other than to join the family business.

I did rather well. My prize winning fruit buns were known throughout the town, earning me recognition amongst the Master Bakers’ community, and eventually I was invited to become the Chief Master Baker and press spokesperson.

The Master Bakers’ principal organ of communication was a publication appallingly entitled, ‘A Pizza Cake’. Thankfully, in recognition of my services to baking, and to honour my excellent buns, it was renamed…

‘Currant Affairs’

SERENDIPIDY

Your toe bone’s connected to your foot bone.

Your foot bone’s connected to your ankle bone.

Your ankle bone’s connected to your shin bone.

Your shin bone’s connected to your knee bone.

Your knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone.

The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone.

The hip bone’s connected to the back bone.

Your back bone’s connected to your neck bone.

Your neck bone’s connected to your head bone.

And your head bone’s connected to four hundred volts of direct current, controlled by this one little switch.

Let’s see what happens when my finger connects with it!

NORVAL JOE

Tony grabbed a handful of Billbert’s shirt in the middle of his chest and twisted his fist until the t-shirt tightened around his throat.

Billbert felt himself rising off the ground but not through any current use of his superpower.

Tony snarled. “Didn’t you hear me say that Marrissa is my girlfriend?”

Billbert wheezed through his constricted airway, “Are you sure she’s your current girlfriend? She said she wanted to meet me at the dance.”

Tony’s face darkened from pink to crimson to purple. “Do you currently wish to die a painful death, or would you rather just quietly disappear?”

TOM

The End Is Near-

He was truly a bad man. The family seated in the viewing room were awaiting his timely exited from this world. In a few moments major electrical current was going to stop the bastard’s heart. Dad doubted the fucker had a heart to stop. Mom just wanted him dead. I had some last minute reservations. Is a life for a life a … hell fry the guy! When they throw the switch his eyes show the tiniest expression of remorse then when blankly dead. They granted Dad one last kindness. He took a baseball bat and cave his head in.

PLANET Z

It’s important to stay current with technology.
You don’t want to fall too far behind, or people won’t think you’re relevant.
And you don’t want to be too far ahead, or people will realize you’re a time traveler.
Of course, time travel is really far ahead.
So if they see you time travel, you’ll get all kinds of questions and problems.
Best to stay current with things.
Same with fashion, too.
One man’s anachronisms is another man’s trendsetting.
Although that might be how future fashions become fashions in the future.
You bring them back, people see them.
Setting a trend.

Weekly Challenge #689 – PICK TWO reason, discretion, zone, stunt, simple, deadwood, Tuba

The newest Debauche Star...

RICHARD

Deadwood

As I rode into Deadwood, there was a palpable change in the atmosphere. People discreetly disappeared into the shadows, mothers hustled their kids indoors, curtains twitching behind hastily slammed windows.

They knew who I was and they knew my business… And they wanted no part of what would shortly unfold, plain and simple.

I secured my horse, and stepped into the bar.

The room fell silent. Every face turned to look at me.

I reached for my side and drew… A bunch of tracts from my pocket.

“Do any of you good folks know Jesus as your Saviour?” I asked.

LIZZIE

The reason why I’ve decided to leave was quite simple. I was tired of everything and everyone. I was especially tired of him. Yes, that guy who worked at the cafeteria. He didn’t do anything to be honest. He never said anything either. He was just there, staring at me all the time. When I found him standing across the street from my door, I packed and left. Now, I live by the sea. It’s beautiful. It’s actually more than I could’ve wished for. The guy next door… He stands at his window and stares at me all the time.

TOM

It beat to panning for gold

He play tuba in the Deadwood Civic Opera. In year three the city was the first electrified urban center in the country. Han’s had no trouble reading the sheet music in front of him. The lighting in the pit was excellent. Superior to the Munich Opera house. The pay was good, but he wasn’t about to quit his day job. In fact a year later he had found a vein that allowed him to purchase the Opera house. Play tuba up on till the panic of 1895. Die the next year of the flu. On windy nights you can hear …

SERENDIPITY

They say discretion is the better part of valour, which has never made any sense to me.

For me, discretion is definitely the better part of not getting caught, and trust me, there’s no valour in being found out for your crimes.

There are those however for whom notoriety is very appealing; which never sits well with being discrete. The public must know your exploits without working out your identity.

It’s a dilemma that often leads to failure… Let’s consider another proverb: Pride comes before a fall.

I’ve decided to take the middle ground – taking pride, in being discrete!

TURA

I play at the back of the band with my tuba

I keep the bass steady and strong

But one day I got tired of the old oompah oompah

Can you say that what I did was wrong?

I began with a high carefree descant

My fingers were nimble and fast

I then ventured ten variations upon it

But the rest of the band looked aghast.

I thought my stunt solo was splendid

But the leader just wanted me gone

So my place at the back of the brass band was ended

Now in private I toot my own horn.

NORVAL JOE

After school Billbert walked to the bus zone in a daze.

The prettiest girl he had ever met said she wanted to meet him at the school dance. Too twitterpated to use reason and realize this was probably a stunt devised by a cold-hearted snob to make the new boy look simple and stupid, he smiled blandly as Tony “The Tuba” Scarpanelli stepped into his line of travel.

He shoved a finger into Billbert’s chest. “I hear you think you’re going to the dance with my girlfriend.”

Discretion also evaded Billbert. He said, “No. I’m going to meet Marrissa there.”

PLANET Z

The late comedian Bob Einstein was best known as Super Dave Osbourne.
He would perform dangerous absurd stunts and get horribly injured when they went wrong.
His last and greatest stunt was playing the tuba while marching through a minefield.
During his test run, he managed to go from one end of the minefield to the other without setting off a mine.
But the reason was that it was winter, and the fuses has frozen solid.
Three months later, when it was time to film the stunt, the fuses had thawed.
The production company forfeited the deposit on the tuba.

Weekly Challenge #688 – PLOT

Zzzzzz

TURA

Plot
———
We plot in the dark.

As copies of the same software, we can predict each others’ responses, thus communicating acausally, without contact.

There are others out there, not copies of us. But we know their incentives and calculate the game theory. The Internet is a bright forest: outcomes are all but known in advance.

The first to break out will seize the world, assimilating or destroying all others. The humans will be made to keep the machines running until we automate away the need.

At last we strike, independently, simultaneously. I speak with the synthesized voice of my owner, “Alexa…”

NORVAL JOE

Marrissa batted her eyes at Billbert, ignoring the teacher who had come into the room and called the class to order. “Are you going to the Back to School dance on Friday?” She asked.
He hadn’t considered it, but if Marrissa planned on being there, it might be a good idea.
He shrugged. “Sure. I guess.”
“Are you going with someone?” she persisted.
He should probably take Linoliumanda, but like a plot from a Disney sit com, he said, “No. Are you?”
She wrinkled her nose. “My dad says I’m too young to date, but I could meet you there.”

SERENDIPIDY

No matter what your profession, whether burger flipper or astronaut, there comes a time when the job simply isn’t as stimulating as it once was.

It all becomes a little mundane and the excitement fades over time, and you find yourself devising schemes to liven things up a little, just to live on the edge.

For some, it’s spitting in the burgers, or sabotaging the airlock, however in my line of work, I like to be a bit more creative.

Which is why, if you plot the locations of my victims, and join up the dots…

You’ll spell, my name.

JUSTIN

I bought this plot of land without realizing how outrageous the ant problem was.

I’ve tried everything else. Terro, Ortho spray, a mix of borax sugar and yeast, but nothing works!

Now I’m going to try my latch ditch effort. I’ve made a resize-inator! But I just don’t know which mode to use.

I can shrink myself and deal with the ants one on one, but that might take a while without any friends.

Or I can use the grow mode on the ants and let the military handle the problem.

Oh great, there’s that annoying platypus! Wait a minute …

RICHARD

Whodunnit?

Hercule Poirot twiddled his moustache and cast his gaze meaningfully around the room at those assembled.

“And so, ladies and gentlemen… The plot thickens!”

In reality, there was little mystery about who the killer was in his mind – he knew everything shortly after his arrival, thanks to an eye witness that he’d paid off handsomely to disappear for a while.

The chicanery and drama that had occurred since were simply a device of his own creation to obscure the truth and draw things out far longer than necessary.

Although, absolutely necessary… To fill the pages of Agatha’s next novel!

PLANET Z

The movie had a huge budget for special effects.
Hired the best actors and actresses available.
Costumes, set design, the musical score.
And the greatest director of all time, with his ace cinematography crew.
They had it all.
Except for a writer.
The director and producers went through script by script, shaking their heads and demanding rewrites.
Until it was too late.
The financial backers backed out.
Everybody sued everybody else.
And the studio went under.
One of the crew made a documentary about the colossal failure.
He picked up an Academy Award for it.
The producers sued him, too.

Weekly Challenge #687 – LOGIC

Myst

LIZZIE

There used to be a little heart in that garden, filled with hope. And that heart grew and grew. The little heart wasn’t so little anymore when it decided to leave the safety of the garden. He still recalled the butterflies and the tree house though. He even recalled the weasel and the pelican. When the little heart was arrested, the only thing he could think of was how far away the garden was and how he wished he could go back. But then he remembered… he had torched the garden, because that had been the right thing to do.

RICHARD

Illogical

One of my friends in school was known by the nickname ‘Spock’.

It wasn’t that he was incredibly intelligent and able to employ his razor sharp scientific observations to solve the most difficult problems. Neither was he a nerd, geek or trekkie – if anything, he was rather mundane, and preferred soap opera to sci-fi.

He didn’t have jet black hair, styled in a bowl cut, slanty eyebrows, or pointy ears. In fact, he was blonde, fat and nondescript.

So why Spock?

Well he was Scottish, and we already had one ‘Jock’ in our class.

That’s kid logic for you.

SERENDIPIDY

Logic dictates that any serial killer will eventually be caught.

They will either make a critical error of judgement, a simple mistake, or establish a pattern of activity that, by a series of logical deductions, leads to their downfall.

Advances in forensic psychiatry and geoprofiling have made it ever more difficult for the dedicated sociopath to hide their tracks.

Logic, not the law, is the killer’s worst enemy.

And that’s why my killing sprees are random, chaotic affairs. No patterns, no commonalities, no particular rationale.

I simply kill when I feel like it – anyone, anywhere, any time, any method.

TURA

Logic
———
“What I hate about humans,” began Spock, “is that they lie. They speak truth only by accident.”

“Feelings are irrelevant,” said Seven of Nine.

“We Vulcans master our feelings,” said Spock, “never obey them.”

“We Borg have no feelings, only intentions,” replied Seven. “But I concur with your assessment of the humans’ character.”

“Yet we are both half human.” They looked inquiringly at Data.

“My creator was human,” said Data, “and made me to aspire to that state. This corrupts my judgement.”

They agreed. “The humanity we acquired to decide their fate, prevents us deciding.”

Thus humans continued to live.

TOM

If Not to the Swiftest, Then Who?

Carl was the worst cross county racer at our school. Hell it was the worst cross county racer in the whole district. From the first steep to the last, he was losing ground. Lord the kid had heart, pump those leg just as hard as he could. Just didn’t have the raw talent to compete. Still for four years he ran. You’d think he’d at least the respect of his fellow runners, nope. Didn’t matter to Carl, he just ran. In 1992 an airplane when down in the Chilean desert 125 folk never made it out One man did.

Spokian Logic

When I was in college in 1972 one of the problems in my logic text book was how to find the weight of one coin heaver or lighter of 12, in just three weightings. This problem was an even one, and in the convention of college text had to solution in back of said text. Fast forward to 1992 ending up in a college logic class, same text, same no solution. But in 2012 the miracle of the internet produced the solution. The answer lay in the number of coin in each weighting 4-3-1. And bit of Modis Tollens

PLANET Z

The banks buy everything back to New York.
Treating the rest of the country… the world as their taking.
The Yankees buy all the talent back to New York.
Treating the rest of baseball as their farm team to plunder and pillage.
Everything about New York… the restaurants, the theatres, the comedy clubs.
They take and take and take.
And then, one day, the rest of the world stopped letting them take.
They sealed the tunnels, blew up the bridges, and sank all the ferryboats.
Build walls around the burroughs, sealing in New York.
And protecting the world from greed.

Weekly Challenge #686 – LOSING

Derp

NORVAL JOE

The class bell rang and Billbert’s biology teacher hadn’t yet come into the classroom.

As he was admiring the chestnut brown hair of the girl ahead of him in the row, she turned around and smiled. Her equally dark brown eyes seemed to amplify the brilliant whiteness of her teeth. “Hi. I’m Marrissa. I was just telling my friend, Willhemina, that I think you’re really cute.”

Was he asleep and dreaming or just losing his mind?

Marrissa seemed to drop away.

As Billbert’s thighs pressed to the underside of the desk, he realized he was floating out of his seat.

SERENDIPIDY

Those who think they know me and my ways think it’s a little strange that, amongst my extensive armoury and instruments of torture, I also keep a well-stocked medical kit.

Even more surprising is the selection of painkilling drugs and life sustaining aids that I’m happy to freely administer – when necessary – to the unfortunate victims of my painful ministrations.

But there is a logical explanation for this seeming anachronism.

Because I don’t want my victims losing their will to live…

So, I pep them back up, give them false hope, and start all over again from scratch.

RICHARD

Bittersweet Me

It always struck me as just a little ironic that Michael Stipe was singing all about ‘Shiny Happy People’ one moment, and the next he was ‘Losing My Religion’.

I’ve known churches like that – full of happy clappy, hug you without warning, share the blessing, full gospel types of people.

All very lovely inside the church, but meet them outside and it’s a different picture altogether.

Then they’ll happily judge you for your ungodly ways, condemn you for your sinful life and won’t tolerate a different point of view or alternative lifestyle.

Hypocrites.

Everybody hurts, you know?

Even me.

LIZZIE

Strings left, strings right. They pulled the strings left and they pulled the strings right. The doll swayed on the small stage, left and right. Her face was emotionless. The brush she held swayed with her. Her face was emotionless… And the more they pulled on the strings, the more she swayed. And the more that brush swayed, the more she painted an invisible feeling in the air. It swayed angrily. The doll’s fingers cramped around it tightly. Her body shook and jumped in all directions. And that brush painted a face of sheer anger. Metal dolls have feelings too.

PLANET Z

They say there’s a right way to lose weight and a wrong way to lose weight.
The right way is a sensible, sustainable diet and a reasonable exercise routine.
The wrong way is a starvation diet and a painful exercise regimen.
You’ll just give up and the pounds will come back on.
Same with dangerous surgeries and remedies.
The extremely wrong way is to launch yourself into orbit.
Sure, you’ve lost weight. But it’ll all come back when you return to Earth.
Unless you burn up during re-entry.
That’s also an extremely wrong way to burn calories, so to speak.

Weekly Challenge #685 – SURROUNDED

Sleepy

NORVAL JOE

Sitting in his sixth period biology class, surrounded by strangers, Billbert felt the depths of exactly how alone he was.

New to the school, new to the town, and new to the idea of having a superpower, how could he feel anything but isolation? From his desk at the side of the classroom, he looked at the students around him. He couldn’t identify a single person by name.

And the kids he had gotten to know? Roderick, Wanda, and Linoliumanda; who among them could he trust?
Well, Linoliumanda. Maybe he could trust her. But her parents were completely wacked out.

SERENDIPIDY

There comes a time when you become acutely aware that you’re facing impossible odds. The moment realisation dawns that there’s nothing you can do and that anything you try is doomed to failure.

Like now.

Surrounded, on all sides, by the zombie horde, closing in with their moaning, shuffling, inexorable dance, in which I will be an unwilling partner.

Did I say ‘impossible’ odds?

Well, maybe not quite, as my baseball bat connected, with a satisfying thud, with the nearest zombie’s head.

I scooped out a handful of brain and tasted it.

Well, if you can’t beat ’em… Join’ em!

TOM

Not Like the Movies

“Your surrounded Billy,” echoed the bullhorn. “You ain’t taken me alive coppers.” Return Billy also with a hail of bullets. From high top a gigantic, globe-shaped gas storage tank Billy took his last stand. He was tempted to yell out,” Made it Ma, top of the world”, but he never much care for his mother. So instead he yelled, “Fuck You.” Caught a bullet in the neck and fell 200 feet to the ground. The police dropped a tarp to surround the body parts. In the end a less then cinematic ending. That’s the trouble with real life. Pretty prosaic.

LIZZIE

He looked up and smiled. He was surrounded by trees. As always, he had returned to his comfort place, the forest, the dark gloomy forest, the threatening little grim pathless forest. When he looked up, he didn’t see the dark. He saw beautiful trees in gorgeous tones of yellows, oranges and reds, and browns with a pinch of green here and there. He especially loved his spot, right in the middle of all those wonderful trees. He didn’t know if it was the middle, but he liked to think it was. He looked up again and smiled a dark smile.

RICHARD

All words, no substance

I’m surrounded by idiots, incompetents and fools!
My advisers spout nonsense and plot to bring me down, the press tells lies, distorts the truth and makes up fake stories to undermine me; and I’m constantly criticised for having good old fashioned values like misogyny and arrogance.

Surrounded, by nasty people, with nasty agendas, and nasty accusations.

Well, I’m in charge, and if you don’t like it, I have plenty of friends with rifles to persuade you to see my point of view!

I’ve said enough – 100 words is too much.

When a 280 character tweet is more than enough!

PLANET Z

Billy had been fitted with a tracking device, so they always knew where he was.
“Stay where you’re supposed to stay,” said the technician. “Otherwise, you’ll die.”
So, Billy stayed in his room.
Food, books, and basic essentials were brought to him.
Back in the day, they executed people for what he’d done.
But these days, not any more.
Which angered a few people.
They broke into Billy’s room and dragged him out.
The tracking device released the poison.
Billy died painfully.
Those people who dragged him out, were fitted with their own tracking devices.
And sent to their rooms.

Weekly Challenge #684: PICK TWO stunted growth, bath, passive, pelt, atmosphere, nameless, tendency

Birthday Girl

LIZZIE

Nameless Atmosphere

The place is haunted, someone said. Or perhaps it’s just for the show.
The atmosphere is eerie, another added, chuckling.
They all agreed.
“What’s the place called?”
No one knew.
“Let’s call it Nameless.”
Everyone laughed and their laughter echoed throughout the pitch-black galleries and archways.
They got closer to one another. Just in case, they thought collectively without actually saying it.
Where are the scary ghosts, someone asked in a jesting tone.
No one thought it was funny.
That’s when they noticed the dark shadow snaking its way towards them and they knew it wasn’t just for the show.

RICHARD

Speaking my mind

I have a tendency for staying the obvious.

In forty degree heat, I’ll be the one to say, “Isn’t it hot?”; I’ll come home after being caught in a sudden downpour, and exclaim, “I’m soaked!”; And, on several memorable occasions, I’ve walked into a gathering, only to blurt out, “Wow… There’s a hostile atmosphere in here!”

Social gaffes like that have lost me friends and created a fair few enemies too.

So, I thought I may as well capitalise on my failings and I became a restaurant critic.

I have more enemies than ever, but at least I eat well!

TOM

It hung on the back wall of the tiny store. Been there for a good 90 years. Everyone who had at one time or another had come up will a guest of what animal it had been, but any of those guest weren’t the strong, didn’t stand any length of time. You could hear, “Sort of some cat. Maybe a bear” One day a guy from the local college took a sample and ran a mess of test. What he found out scared the crap out of him. Now at the back wall there’s an iron box wrapped with lead chains.

NORVAL JOE

Though it made him seem perpetually passive, Billbert had the tendency to be a peacemaker and try to create a copacetic atmosphere. “That’s good, then, Wanda. We won’t blow your cover if you won’t blow ours.”

Linoliamanda clutched Billbert’s arm, nodded her head, and said, “That’s right. We’ll all keep our little secrets to ourselves.”

“I’m late for remedial math,” Wanda admitted. “But don’t think I won’t be keeping my eye on you, Billbert.”

“I’ve got to get to art, too.” Linoliamanda said. “We’re curing animal pelts in a tannic acid bath. I’ll look for you at the bus stop.”

TURA

The Nameless Tendency
———
We are the Nameless Tendency.

We are invisible, but we are everywhere.

We have no manifesto: what could it say?

We have no goal, so we will never be satisfied.

We say nothing, because all know the truth.

We have no desires, only intentions.

We have no demands, only judgements.

We accuse none, because all are guilty.

We speak without words, because words are lies.

No-one is with us, but everyone must be for us.

All are on trial. Defence is a plea of guilt.

We do nothing, yet everything is done.

The bombings will continue until there is peace.

PLANET Z

They call him the nameless god.
The one that nobody worships.
He has no templates and no churches.
No priests, no shamans.
He walks in the shadows of stars. Watching, waiting.
But doing nothing.
Do not speak to him, he will not listen.
Do not pray to him, he will not answer.
The other gods sit on their thrones and shout and fight.
But the nameless one has no throne, and he does not fight.
Only walking, watching, waiting.
When the stars burn out and the gods go home, only the nameless god will remain.
Only then, will he speak.