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?”

Weekly Challenge #672 – WORDY

Clingy cat

RICHARD

Wordy

After years of failing to succeed in business, with women, or even to build proper friendships, I decided to see an image consultant to try and change my luck.

After just one session, he said he had me all figured out. It was my body language, he said – “It’s just far too words – your voice says one thing but your body is all over the place”.

This, he said, was the root cause of my problem – and, with practice, I could fix it.

I protested, but he was having none of it.

That’s Tourette’s for you. Fuckwit!

SERENDIPIDY

“Any last thoughts?” I asked, then as he opened his mouth to speak, I gave him a hard stare, “Don’t make it too wordy, I haven’t got all day!”

He looked deflated, understandable really. Most of us would like to leave this world with something worthwhile quoting; but death tends to surprise us, making it tricky to prepare a fitting last utterance.

As for this guy, he knew exactly when his time was up, but having me telling him to get a move on certainly wouldn’t help his mood.

Like all of them, his last words would only be terrified screams.

TOM

Having Kissed the Stone — Wordy O’Brien had nearly graduated from Trinity College. Of course on one there called him that. He got that moniker when he ran with Mike Sullivan’s Dusters. T’was the blarney that caused his timely exit from Trinity. One might say pillow talk with the Chancellor’s daughter put the flame of fee to his feet. I think it t’was the result of a savage beating leveled during a school wide debate with the Marquis of Ravensguard. Pissing off semi-royalty while immensely satisfying is always costly in the end. Wordy was wordy cus his words had keep him from the multiple nooses.

JON

Why Kill a Mockingbird?

By

Jon DeCles

He sings like a bird, a loud bird, a bird on a branch in public, and because he is singing things that someone does not want to be heard by all those around, that someone thinks that he is being mocked, which is only marginally true: the bird cares not the content of his song, he only sings what he sees, what he discovers, what he roots out of the dirt at the base of every tree. Like any mockingbird, he repeats the songs that other birds have sung. Birds do not trumpet truth filtered by discretion, they just sing.

Politics Leads to Drink

By

Jon DeCles

Mark Twain said: “I am a political mugwump. My mug is on one side of the fence and my wump is on the other.”

The Queen of Hearts discovered an effective way of separating mugs from wumps, but that left a very wide aisle in parliament, with no possibility of a meeting ground between the two ruling parties (the Red Rose Party and the White Rose Party) and that inevitably led to the War of the Roses.

As for me, I tend to sit my wump down in a chair, put of mug of porter on the table, and drink.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert met Linoliumanda for lunch and could tell from her dark expression all had not gone well.

She frowned even deeper opening her lunch bag. “Can you believe Mr. Ziegler said my Harry Potter report was too wordy? It was an oral report. How can an oral report be too wordy?”

Billbert shrugged. “I don’t know. How did it compare in length to the other reports?”

“Other reports?” Linoliumanda asked. “There weren’t any others. I took the whole class time.”

Billbert bit the side of his cheek and nodded his head. “Yeah. I can’t see how he’d call that wordy.”

PLANET Z

Remember that old Twilight Zone episode where the Talking Tina doll says all kinds of scary things?
Well, my friend Tina talks a lot and she says all kinds of scary things, too.
I used to joke that they wrote that episode based on Tina.
But that’s absurd. That show was long before Tina was born.
Unless Tina is actually from the Twilight Zone, and she can travel in time and space.
Why is it a doll in the show?
Because back then, a person saying those things would have been too scary.
So they wrote her as a doll.

Weekly Challenge #671 – bob, stitch, eaten, pittance, delete, trumpet, ribcage, tickle, Ziegler

Boxcat

LIZZIE

Bob’s Ticket

Bob hated sitting at the tickets’ booth.
For some reason he couldn’t understand, whenever it was his turn to sell tickets, there was a drop in sales. He was so frustrated. It wasn’t his fault that half of his ribcage was showing, as a matter of fact, half of his whole skeleton.
When he joined the Side Show Carnival, everyone was amused because one side of him was kind of missing. It seemed fitting.
However, when sales dropped, they got angry and sent him abroad for plastic surgery. He never came back. He is now happily married to an osteologist.

RICHARD

Same old story

My finger hovered uncertainly over the ‘delete’ key: Did I want to keep it, maybe do some editing and make some changes, or did I really just want to send it to the recycle bin and start all over again?

I couldn’t make my mind up. Maybe I should go away, have a snack, and then come back and take another look?

And that’s exactly what I did.

Despite having eaten, what I’d written hadn’t changed – the concept and the words remained exactly the same as when I’d left them.

But, I sent the story off anyway!

SERENDIPIDY

I don’t normally like to blow my own trumpet, but I have to say that my latest dinner party had been a resounding success.

The company and conversation had been stimulating, the atmosphere warm and convivial, and the food – well, judging by the compliments I received, everybody loved it.

Following the meal, we retired to the lounge for drinks, where a toast was proposed to ‘the perfect hostess’:

“It’s been a wonderful evening, such a shame that your husband couldn’t be here to share in it.”

“Oh, but he was,” I responded.

“Who do you think you’ve just eaten?”

TURA

Trumpet, eaten
———
At first it looked like a satirical account. @trumpet on Twitter, posting a pastische of Trump’s characteristic style. “We’ve eaten the greatest cabbages, the greatest ever. Sad that little Turnip Man doesn’t agree.” From the volume of postings, I assumed it was generated by something like GPT-2. The names never matched any real person or place, but there was a coherence to it, that built up to a picture of an alternate reality. Millions tried decoding it. Who was Turnip Man? Where was Barubatu? What was Googlegong?

Then somehow, while we were all obsessing over the puzzle, Trump got re-elected.

TOM

In to the Mists of Time

Pittance Ziegler inherited the brick company from her father Moses Ziegler. A modern woman by all account she made swift changes that made the firm exceedingly profitable. When the firm was on sound footing she informed the board of directors she was mounting an all-woman exposition for the source of the Nile. This was a full five years before Sir Richard Burton. Correspondence broke down during a freakish rain season. She and none of her fellow exporters were ever heard from again. But a number of blonde hair African started appearing in the upper valley of the Nile.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert stepped back out of Linoliumanda’s house and with a bob of his head toward the road, he pointed out his mother’s car approaching.

She rolled down her window and waved a half eaten breakfast burrito toward the back seat, and said, “Climb in. We need to hurry to get you to school on time.”

When they got there, Roderick waited while Billbert and Linoliumanda ran to her first class.

Linoliumanda laughed. “Mr. Ziegler will be tickled to hear my Harry Potter report.”

“That’s fine.” Billbert wiped sweat from his forehead. “I’m just glad no one learned our little secret.”

LAIEANNA

The latest trend in women’s body modification was achieving the
trumpet shape. Medical technology had been making it possible for
years to become something else, something less natural, and boredom
created a need for a new unique look. It did, however, require
extensive surgery. Some bones were removed from the ribcage,
alterations made to gain the right shape, and many times the organs
had to be shifted to create the full affect. From a slim mouthpiece
neck down to the bell hips, the accomplished look did leave you with
some discomfort, but it isn’t really fashion if there isn’t
discomfort.

PLANET Z

Bob liked to go in the woods and tickle bears.
He liked to wear a feather boa.
So when the bears ate him, we said that he did end up tickling bears.
He probably tickled their insides with the feather from the boa.
He also tore them new assholes as they shat him out.
Bob liked to wear spurs, too.
Bob liked to dress up flamboyantly.
Totally wild.
And the bears, shitting feathers and blood.
Oh, and glitter. All of that glitter Bob wore.
Let’s go in the woods and see,
As long as we don’t try to tickle bears.