Weekly Challenge #764 – STILL

Tinny the traitor

LIZZIE

He looked outside. Nothing… He squinted and felt trapped. The river was still there, flowing freely. But where were they? No boats, no whales, no dragons. They weren’t coming after all, were they? He squinted again and thought he saw a… No, nothing. The people here mustn’t know he was expecting them. Then the horn sounded. Alarm, alarm. He rushed back to the window, but… “Ronnie, what’s going on?” He shook his head. “Come on. It’s time. Let’s get you bathed.” He knew one day they’d come and rescue him. “And don’t forget to take your pills,” said the nurse.

RICHARD

Sparkling or Still?

“Sparkling or still?” The waiter asked, his face cocked expectantly to one side.

“Tap!” I responded bluntly, and his upper lip curled into a semi-snarl.

Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who balk at the thought of paying for ridiculously overpriced bottled water in posh restaurants.

It’s bad enough being charged for the dry and tasteless bread rolls that they slip onto your table without invitation, but it just adds insult to injury when you’re expected to pay for water too.

“One tap water”, he snarled.

“Oh, with ice, please – I assume that’s made from tap water too?”

SERENDIPIDY

At first, there is the terror – the screaming and crying; the frenzied fighting. The heart pounds, arms and legs flail, the body twists and turns maniacally as the pain courses through.

Time passes; your struggles begin to cease, breathing becomes heavy and laboured. Then comes sobbing, the weeping, the whimpering.

Soon, exhausted, broken and beaten, both physically and emotionally, you cross the boundary between hope and despair. The will to live that has driven you so far, now fails and fades.

Succumbing to the inevitable: There is nothing, save the occasional involuntary twitch.

Until, at last, all is finally still.

TOM

Cluster Fuck III

As music dies down, all that is left is the rustle of paper and fabric. Then just a still. On the stage is a lone mic, a singular silver thread in a mass of mat black flats and curtains. Greg slowly walks across the stage dozens upon dozens of eye tracking him. In the row ahead and to the left sits the woman who was the departed woman’s best friend. I know because she has said as much the whole week. Greg tracks the room and takes hold of the mic stand like a man born to the touch.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert held his breath when the federal agents approached Linoliamanda. “Okay, young lady. Tell us what you know about this boy’s super powers.”
Linoliamanda stood there, as still and silent as a winter night after snow fall.
Mr. Withybottom put his hand on her shoulder. “Come on, Linny. Tell them what you told me.”
She glared at her father, fire burning in her eyes. She pressed her lips still tighter together and shook her head.
The federal agent folded his arms. “Your dad knows something and we don’t have all night. Do we need to take you downtown for interrogation?”

RICK

Still

Meditation is the art of doing nothing constructively. Our conscious mind steers our lives, for the most part, from infancy to old age. There is an incredible benefit to be had in training oneself to release control of our thoughts by the conscious mind, and allow the subconscious to take the wheel.

Once the mind is truly motionless you may be surprised, or enlightened, by that which fills the void … or skitters along a distant but visible horizon.

Observe and contemplate.

Observe is a powerful verb!
It can be all encompassing!
Observation done properly, well contemplated, can be / should be life-changing!

PLANET Z

It’s been twenty-six years since you died. Twenty-seven?
Our baby, the one you were going to tell me about, would be about that old.
A boy? A girl?
I didn’t ask.
But they’d be on their own by now.
Graduated college, maybe finishing medical school.
Or some time in the military, maybe make a career of it.
Like you did.
Would they earn honors and medals, raise kids of their own, or earn an early grave?
Like you did.
It’s easy to live in the past and the never-was.
And be just as dead in the now as you are.

Weekly Challenge #763 – PICK TWO: reward, puppet, global, gear, shop, pit stop

Baby panther

LIZZIE

She hated being a puppet in his hands. What gave her some peace was walking down the pathway with the old trees. One day, she noticed something shiny to the right. A marble perhaps? The next day, she brought some beads and left them there. And that’s when the gifts appeared on the pathway. First a bit of glass. Then, a button, an old key. It made her smile. It gave her strength. And she said “no more”. She walked away from him, for good. Today, she still walks that pathway, exchanging gifts with her new friend, a very generous crow.

RICHARD

Scum

“Got any gear?”
I looked at the kid with distaste. He was every inch the stereotypical druggie: Shambling and sniffing, his vacant eyes darting around in paranoid fear from his sallow, pock-marked face.

I nodded. “For the right price.”

He fumbled a handful of dirty bills from somewhere deep within his sweatpants – now you know why I always wear gloves – and I slipped him the small polythene packet.

I despise scum like him.

And I imagine that you despise scum, like me.

But, I’m just a puppet. It’s the people pulling my strings you should despise most.

I do.

SERENDIPITY

Have you ever wondered why so many serial killers remove their victims’ body parts to take as souvenirs?

It’s our reward for a job well done.

After all, no-one else is going to congratulate us on our work, so we have to take things into our own hands.

But, what to do with all those body parts, once we’ve got them? We can’t exactly put them on display or show them off to our friends!

So, I turn them into children’s toys: Lovingly crafted marionettes and puppets from stolen parts and pieces.

Perhaps your kids would like one for Christmas?

TOM

Cluster Fuck II

The woman who had set this in motion gave me that second grade teach stare. “Inappropriate language Master Marquette.” I always vexes me when someone with multiple children takes umbrage with the term. How the fuck did you end up with them, but say cluster fuck, well that just not polite intercourse. So I looked at her and gave her a “WE BE ADULTS HERE LOOK.” I wanted to say “I an’t no reward puppet, you call me up to dance, you better have a band a hand.” But she had dash back inside the hall as the music played.

TURA

Gear; Pit stop
———
At car races nowadays, the cars drive themselves, and the pit stops are totally automated. The machines can swap out a busted gearbox in seconds. No-one programs anything, the robots learn by competing against each other.

Rumour is that there’s no longer any human input, from the racetracks, to the factories, to the mines and oil wells. New tracks get built without anyone asking for them. There are twice as many as two years ago, and they’re bigger.

It’s still the most popular spectator sport, but soon the world might be just one huge racetrack, with no-one left to watch.
———

NORVAL JOE

One of the federal agents shouted at Mrs. Blanketmaker. “There’s a global conspiracy to turn all of you heroes into villains. You’re walking into their trap. Before you know it you’ll be puppets of their evil organization.”

Mr. Withybottom blustered at the agent, “Are you telling me that skinny little kid over there is, in fact, a superhero?”

The agent turned his back on Billbert’s mother. “We suspect he is. We will reward anyone with firsthand knowledge of him or anyone else using unusual powers.”

Mr. Withybottom pushed Linoliamanda forward with an evil smile. “Linny. Tell them what you know.”

RICK

General Store

Jerry had an old farmhouse, wrap around porch, big … BIG front room. And Jerry is always been something of a hoarder … food, water, cleaners, paper goods … He was set for the next 20 years.

Had a handpainted sign that read …

“General Store”

… If the sign was out front he was open for business … If not … then not.

Without a store around within 15 mi Jerry did well with cigarettes, soda, beer, and such, not a living … but he did okay.

He did make a killing on the corn liquor and homegrown marijuana!

Jerry what’s the richest guy in the county!

PLANET Z

It’s not like stealing the Mona Lisa, but long ago news broke that someone had stolen Kermit the Frog from Jim Henson’s office.
Sure, he had dozens of the things back in the day, but there was something special about this particular puppet.
And he kept it in his office, and after he died, they found it there, sitting in his chair.
People say it’s cursed. Or haunted.
The janitor at Henson Productions doesn’t even touch it.
Sometimes, when a tour goes through, people claim it’s staring at them.
But that’s just crazy. It only hunts and kills people, okay?

Weekly Challenge #762 – Cluster

Mice

LIZZIE

Throw it in the bin and forget about it.
But this area is a cluster of infected cases.
Throw it in the bin and forget it.
Walking away is not an easy task when your conscience nags you.
He had to go back. He grabbed the bin, dragged it away to the dump area and chuck it into the fire.
The bin was closed the whole time. He made sure of it.
When he got ill, he was tossed in that same neighborhood, forgotten.
The others, they kept throwing infected stuff in the bin, carelessly, just like they did before

RICHARD

This is it…

“This is it… We’re going to die!”

Emily voiced what we’d all been thinking, but couldn’t bring ourselves to say.

The cluster of meteorites glittered; green sparkles on the radar screen. Each the size of a football pitch, with a combined mass that meant the earth was doomed.

It was just a matter of time now.

There would be no last ditch space rescue missions, no desperate missile strikes, no long shots… But it might just work.

This was it. Immanent global extinction.

I swallowed, then heard my own voice, matter of fact and steady.

“Yes, we’re going to die.”

SERENDIPIDY

A cluster of deaths.

Such an evocative term.

One or two, or just the occasional passing barely raises an eyebrow, but a cluster is something else entirely.

Follow it with the words, ‘in suspicious circumstances’, ‘in the local area’, displaying the same pattern’, or ‘by an unknown cause’, and you have the beginnings of a recipe for fear, panic and rampant speculation.

And whilst people are entirely distracted by the cluster – my favourite diversionary tactic – I can pick off whoever I want, in ones and twos, occasionally and without displaying any clear pattern or similarities.

And nobody will ever notice.

TOM

The following is more a moment than a story. Also I need to drop the name for those living and dead. A vastly popular women in our county had died. The memorial service was to be done in a theater with over 700 people present. The day of the event I got a call in San Jose they need a sound guy. I had to drive 120 mile in 2 hours. Do the math. Somehow I defied physics and got there on time. The woman who had called me said they had found someone, hadn’t I got the message. I said, “What the fuck, this is a total cluster fuck.”

NORVAL JOE

Dergle Vander Hoont, his wiener dog growling from his hiding place in the bulky man’s coat, joined several other odd looking men and women who clustered around the federal agents. The man covered in dust growled in a genial way at Bilbert’s mother, “You can take your son and go, Gladys. We’ll take care of these two clowns.”

As Billbert’s mother ushered him toward the car, Linoliamanda and her family reappeared from an exam room. Linoliamanda’s head was wrapped in a white, gauze bandage.
“Hold on, Mrs. Blanketmaker,” Mr. Withybottom boomed. “I’d like a word with you about your son.”

PLANET Z

The Cluster is a group of stars, about twenty thousand light years from Earth.
We’ll send you the coordinates and spectral signatures.
There’s a man we want.
What’s his name?
Doesn’t matter.
You’re going to destroy the planet he’s on.
So, here’s a solar detonator.
You blow up the star, the flares destroy the planet.
What about the rest of the people on that planet?
Who cares?
Here’s half the contract, and half when you finish the job.
Just be sure to get out of the system before the star explodes.
Otherwise, I’m getting a half-off deal on the contract.

Weekly Challenge #761 – Chainsaw

Cat box

LIZZIE

Grasp a line of thought. Or try to.
And those animal heads mounted on the wall. The moody embalmed fish that was supposed to look alive and looked even deader. All conspiring to kill.
The door swung open and there it was. They dumped it on the table.
To work.
The chainsaw slashed through the skin, the meat, the bones. Cracking sounds signing the final surrender.
A leg, another leg. An arm, another arm.
The head… Oh, the head… That grimace of anger.
Good thing they didn’t have to mount her head on the wall. The fish wouldn’t like it.

RICHARD

Chainsaw

I’ve never owned a chainsaw, never wanted one and have no idea what I’d do with one anyway.

It’s not exactly an essential accessory for the man about town in an urban environment; chainsaws aren’t really necessary for unclogging the photocopier or for hosting Zoom meetings.

I don’t possess any checked shirts, or have any giant redwoods requiring felling, and I just know that putting me in charge of a chainsaw is about as sensible as giving a baby a loaded Kalashnikov.

It’ll all end very badly.

Even so, being a guy, I feel I really should own a chainsaw.

SERENDIPIDY

Those chainsaw massacre slasher movies really wind me up. Clearly created by idiots with no practical experience of serial killing, carving up bodies, or for that matter, owning a chainsaw.

To begin with, chainsaws are messy. Yes, a bloodbath sounds fun, but in practical terms it’s a nightmare when it comes to cleaning up.

Then there’s chainsaw maintenance – cleaning and oiling the chain and guide, constant re-fueling, and the tedious business of sharpening chain teeth: Bone blunts them dreadfully.

It’s a lot of hassle, time and energy, when an axe will do the job just as well.

It’s quieter too!

TOM

The Flying Karamazov Brothers

I’ve lived a Forest Grump life. I’ve meet a mess of folk early in their careers. Robin Williams, Penn and Teller, Donald Rumsfeld, Rodger Stone, the girl who sang on Paradise By the Dashboard Light and the band Styx. Hands down the odd guys were the Flying Karamazov Brothers. I was living in Santa Cruz and I would go watch them practice moves in the park near the bakery during lunch breaks. They had this funny bit juggling running chainsaws. While cross tossing eight saws they did this patter. “You rip a these, you mend a these.” Damn they were good.

NORVAL JOE

Billbert’s mother hurried to take him in her arms.
A man followed her, still covered in the dust from the collapsed headquarters. He laughed at the two agents with a ratcheting growl that sounded more like a chainsaw. He asked, “What’re you federal boys doing here?”
“Why we’re here, is federal business and we’re not ready to share that with the likes of you people. What we’re here for, is to take this boy for questioning.”
Billbert’s mother stepped in front of her son. “If you’re going to take this boy for questioning, you’ll have to go through me, first.”

TURA

Chainsaw
———
The kid pushed through the saloon doors and stared wildly around. The old men stared back.

At last, one broke the silence. “You lost, boy?”

“This is the Last Chance Saloon, right?” said the kid.

The old-timer grinned. “Well boy, that depends which way you’re headed.”

The kid said nothing.

“If it’s advice you’re looking for, I got some right here.” He leaned toward the kid and leered. “Don’t cut your genitals off with a chainsaw.”

“Hey, that’s some pretty good advice you got there, boy!” wheezed another old-timer.

The kid bolted outside.

It was exactly three in the afternoon.

RICK

Good Gig

It’s one thing to have a cord of wood, and another to make it suitable for the stove or fireplace. Pickup truck, chainsaw, log splitter … Mike had a good gig going. Splitting logs and stacking wood all over the county, cash only, all word of mouth recommendation.

Snakes, poison ivy, bees … Easy enough to deal with if you know how. Blue skies, sunshine, cool mountain air … The benefits outweighed the hardships.

Mike always kept a pint of blackberry Brandy and a couple of joints in the truck for particularly glorious days …

… Like I said … Mike had a good gig going.

PLANET Z

People were always getting Rabbi Chaim Esau’s name wrong.
Instead of taking offense, the good rabbi embraced it.
“I am Rabbi Chainsaw,” he says from the dais, firing up a gas-powered McCulloch and waving it in the air. “Who wants a circumcision?”
The congregation would laugh, and he’d get right into the sermon.
He performed this opening gag for forty years.
And then, one Saturday, as he hauled the growling chainsaw into the air, he suffered a rupture.
The blade fell through his head like a knife through butter.
They made sure to get his name right on the headstone.

Weekly Challenge #760 – Plump

There’s a Squeakies over Bourbon Street tonight...

LIZZIE

The herb expert always had a suggestion and a word of advice.
“And to lose weight?”
Herbs. He took them all.
And then the cramps, the headache, the nausea, the vomiting.
He went to hospital.
“What did you take?”
“This and that,” he replied uneasy, “this and that.”
When he got home, he took some more. He wanted to be elegant and fit into those tight jeans he bought by mistake.
More cramps, more headaches. The nausea, oh, the nausea.
Herbs for this, herbs for that. Enough.
“Fuck the jeans,” he cried out loud. “Fuck the expert. I like plump!”

RICHARD

Plump

“Does my butt look big in this?” She asked, straining to peer over her shoulder at the mirror.

I tried being tactful.

“Well, perhaps a little, erm… Plump, maybe? Nobody is going to comment about it though.”

I may as well have told her she resembled a zeppelin, judging by the response I got.

“I just want to look good for my first day on the job”, she complained.

I reassured her: “You look absolutely perfect, and I can guarantee that, no matter how slim someone might be… Nobody ever looks their best when they’re wearing a bomb disposal suit!”

SERENDIPIDY

It’s a myth that witches who live in the woods steal children to fatten up and eat.

I never enjoyed my children plump – far too fatty and greasy for my liking. I much prefer them to be thin and lean.

They also produce the best kiddy bacon: Hang them up to mature for a few weeks, then slice them thinly and fry until crispy. You can’t beat it, sandwiched between two thick slices of fresh bread, with plenty of butter!

The trouble is, with all this good eating, it’s us witches who end up too plump for our own good!

TOM

Jes Sayn

The old man sat on the porch, full concentration on small piece of pine. Through the corner of his eye he saw Billy making his way down the dirt road, dust flying up from his feet dragging stroll. “Hey Billy.” Said Ven. “Hey Ven,” said Billy. “Where ya go-n?” “Water Hole.” Billy had a black bamboo rod over the shoulder, a near picture prefect posture of the first card of the Major Arcana. That would be card number zero to those not Arcanaicly inclined. “Go-n fish-n.” Ven slowly shook his head. “Son I think you’re plump out of luck on that one.”

NORVAL JOE

Dergle’s weiner dog began to growl from his hiding place in his plump owner’s overcoat.
Billbert cleared his throat. “Thank you, Mr. Vander Hoont, for speaking on my behalf, but, I know my rights. I don’t have to go anywhere with these jokers. Not without my parent’s approval. I came here with the Withybottoms and I’m going to wait here until Linoliamanda comes back out.”
One of the agents took Billbert by the arm. “Like it or not, you’re coming with us.” He marched Billbert toward the door.
A car pulled up to the ER and Billbert’s mother got out.

TURA

Plump
———
In my young days, I was a stand-up comedian. I’d rant on the stage in seedy underground bars, and if I spotted some plump, middle-aged, middle-class git in the audience I’d let rip at them until they left in tears. There’s nothing like it. You can keep your cocaine and heroin, hate is the best drug there is.

Then I got spotted for TV, got my own show, raked in the money, and here I am, a plump middle-aged git myself.

You think that changes anything? I just hate on the young skinny gits who think they’re proper stand-up comedians.

RICK THOMAS

Pleasingly Plump

Let me tell you something … A lot of guys go all crazy for them skinny little girls got no meat on them, no curves, straight lines, all the way from their chins to their ankles! Padded shoulders, padded bras, high heels … All give the illusion of curves where there ain’t none.

A big girl got curves … Girl curves!
A big girl can cook … Serves up a plate proper!
Big piles … tasty stuff!

When things get close … Hip bone to hip bone kinda hurts … I like a little cushion for the pushin.

If you don’t believe me now … You will someday.

PLANET Z

Ballpark Franks are probably the worst branded hot dogs at the store.
They taste absolutely bland. Barely any meat or protein in them.
You could almost call them Vegan.
And their marketing slogan is revolting: They plump when you cook them.
Just to let you know that the cereal fillers expand when cooked.
They also plump when you leave them out on the counter.
Not only do the cereal fillers expand in the moist air, but the miniscule meat content will putrefy and bloat.
Until they eventually explode from the casings.
I wouldn’t even feed these things to an animal.

Weekly Challenge #759 – Revolution

Box kitty

LIZZIE

A giant creature moved forward sluggishly, its head bowed down.
They knew it was coming. They thought they had enough time to prepare themselves.
They drafted a plan. They created the trap.
They didn’t monitor its growth. It’s OK, some said, it’ll be fine.
When they saw it, they knew they were in trouble.
Who’ll be the sacrificial hero? Who? No one wanted to be a hero.
Arguments, fighting. Some died. Let’s feed those to the beast.
No, no respect for the dead.
Some were imprisoned.
Yes, let the revolution begin now… before everyone gets killed, one way or another.

RICHARD

Come the Яevolution

Come the revolution, things are going to change around here.

No more of your Western decadence, your relentless consumerism and your immoral, self-serving lifestyles.

Come the revolution, the glorious leader will rule with an iron fist and your capitalist ideals will be trodden underfoot.

And, come the revolution, I will stand at the forefront, proudly hoisting the glorious flag of the hammer and sickle.

Mark my words, the day is coming soon!

What?

What do you mean the revolution already happened?

You say I missed it?

Remind me – never to rely on communist newspaper for latest information again.

SERENDIPITY

It has always fascinated me how the smallest, incremental movements can have the most devastating results.

Like how the slightest squeeze of a finger on a trigger can bring about instant death.

Or, let’s consider the position you find yourself in now.

Limbs secured and stretched to their limit, sinews straining, muscles taut.

And all it takes is for me to turn the wheel through just a fraction of a revolution to cause the most extreme and intense pain that can be imagined.

And, just imagine if I gave it a full turn?

Except, you don’t have to imagine it!

TOM

Pictures of Chairman Mooow

I saw the topic and immediately thought of the Beatle’s song. Problem is four day of news feds, dead tired. I’m trying to remember what it was like to be a 15 year old kid watching a nation pull itself apart. Revolution, the song, pissed a lot of adults off. What they missed was song was posing the question: Show me a better way. I still see it as a love song to possibility. Just as a lark I took a look at my 45 collection, there it was. With that spit apple background, Hey Jude on the flip side.

RICK THOMAS

Karma Revolution

There’s a common thread that runs between God and the devil, right and wrong, yin and yang, darkness and light. It creates a thin but definable line.

As we sow … so shall we reap.

Karma comes in all shapes and sizes … but … sometimes karma is slow, so I lend a hand. Oftentimes a digital photo in an email, or a well-placed rumor worked as well as a slashed tire … Or injury.

“For the greater good”!

In a county of small towns … tales of bad karma travel … and folks buy into it. We have built a real nice community here!

TURA

Revolution
———
Vinyl discs at 33 rpm are the perfect form of music reproduction. You can keep your CDs, yes I know you can get scratches and cat pee on them and they’ll still play, but what sort of quality is that? And digital files that play identically every time, completely soulless. An LP is a living thing, whose hisses and crackles are mementos of the owner’s relationship with it. Playing an LP is like making love, compared with which an MP3 file is like a whore off the street.

At least, that’s what I told myself until I got an iPod.

NORMAL JOE

The two agents moved in on Dergle, one on each side, acting aggressive. “Look, Weiner Dog man. We’re the legitimate authority, not your crowd that play’s at keeping the law and order.”

Dergle tried to look at each agent at once, ending up looking cross eyed. “Does legitimate authority try to take a minor against his will without his parents or other legal guardian?”

One of the agent’s shook his head. “You supers think you’re going to start a revolution and recreate our national intelligence agencies.”

Dergle laughed. “We’re not trying to recreate anything. We just want to augment it.”

PLANET Z

Nobody has seen the King for years.
Decisions are still being made by “The Palace” but nobody has actually seen the King or heard anything out of him.
It’s just “The Palace” making the decisions, say his advisors.
If you demand to see the King, you’ve turned away by the guards.
The guards, the servants, the advisors… everyone is silent.
I got a job as a cook, managed my way into the King’s chambers.
Laying on the bed, wires all throughout his body.
“I am the palace now,” says a voice.
And I ran. And I haven’t stopped running since.

Weekly Challenge #758 – PICK TWO: piano, mongoose, tower, cartoon, evil, serve

Catnip

LIZZIE

The faint sound of a piano reminded her that she had to change…
From her tower of self-righteousness, she knew everything better than anyone. But she felt hopeless. She couldn’t reach out. Pack up your past and put it away now, she thought. This is not what you want. You want to be happy. But she couldn’t. She just couldn’t. It was far too late. She had to put up that front. She knew better, she was smarter, she just was.
The faint sound of a piano made her cry. She was so lonely and it was everyone else’s fault.

RICHARD

Morty

Morty, the cartoon mongoose, was not my greatest creation. Kids just couldn’t relate to him, and many of them struggled to identify just what species of animal he actually was.

Some thought he was a meerkat, others a ferret, whilst a bunch of them turned to the internet for a school project and would serve up mongoose facts totally discrediting his animated antics.

Kids – they’re just plain evil.

Morty’s career was cut short by the network, so I finished him off in his final episode by dropping a grand piano on him from a tower block!

That’s all folks!

SERENDIPIDY

I love cartoons!

I think it’s fantastic the way they can get away with extreme violence, and portray the most evil antics, yet call it children’s entertainment, and although I’m not exactly a child any more, I spend a lot of my leisure time glued to the television, enjoying the crazy cartoon scenes unfolding in front of me.

They’re a great source of inspiration, and I’ve filled a number of notebooks with details of the stunts I’ve observed.

Eventually, I plan to try them all on those unfortunate enough to fall into my clutches.

And, maybe, I’ll film it too!

TOM

A towering success

Do have any idea the worth of an old upright piano? Not talking a baby grand or grand grand. Further not talking a lovely care for family heirloom. Just an old out of toon piece of word and brass. Yup you can pick them up for a song (forgive the metaphor). I got about 20. So what am I going to do with them? I’m building a piano tower. Hope to get into Guinness world record. There’s a guy in Albania who got an 18. To keep stability I’m bolting on old typewriters. Underwoods are a dime a dozens.

NORVAL JOE

“Wiener Dog Man,” one of the men in sunglasses scoffed. “That makes me think of a cartoon hero with a cape trying to serve the community by fighting evil.”
Dergle nodded. “Okay. That’s not far off.”
“Excuse me, Mr. Vander Hoont,” Billbert said. “What exactly are the powers of the wiener dog?”
Dergle stood up straight. “Dedication, tenacity, and confidence, among others.”
The agent sniffed. “Those sound like characteristics, not super powers.”
Dergle shrugged. “Call them what you want. I’m confident that I will not let you take this boy with you. I will defend him tenaciously and with dedication.”

TURA

Evil, tower
———
The evil wizard Shoonlak built an Obsidian Tower in which were embedded the still-living bones of his enemies.

The good wizard Angloin built a Crystal Tower, whose shining summit was a beacon of hope.

The mad wizard Leri built a Tower of his madness, that none but he can see, but those who pass near are seized by visions that carry them away in their talons.

The iron wizard Elon built a Steel Tower, which some say is a great rocket engine, and which, when it takes off, will incinerate the other Towers. For what is mere magic, against Science?

RICK THOMAS

Dream Home

All his life Larry said his home must have three things … A tower, fireman’s pole, and a gargoyle. To his neighbor’s dismay the zoning commission reluctantly approved his request, and the gothic monstrosity was completed.

AC, fireplace, full bar, observation deck.

Decorative motif … Torture chamber.

Chains and shackles embedded in the walls, creepy old surgical tools framed and hung as art, branding irons lay on each side of the fireplace.

The bar was a fully functional rack.

Larry was well pleased, but knew, his dream was yet unfulfilled … until he had a victim chained to the wall … screaming for mercy.

PLANET Z

The old man in the tower likes to play his piano at night.
The music carries all throughout the village.
“I do it as a service,” says the old man.
The villagers disagree.
“He’s not very good a piano player,” they say. “And it’s hard to sleep through it.”
They gather pitchforks and torches and storm the tower.
And they burn the piano.
The old man grumbles, hires some workers, and the next night, he’s on the ramparts playing the bagpipes.
And there’s a new moat around the tower. With crocodiles in it.
He smiles, and plays the bagpipes louder.

Weekly Challenge #757 – KITTEN

Keyboard cat

RICHARD

Sex Kitten

Take my advice, and never marry a sex kitten.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a blast at first – the admiring glances and barely disguised jealousy of other men who can only dream of having what you do; the ill-concealed bitchiness of other women who wish they had her looks and style.

It’s great, but living with a sex kitten isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.

Frankly, the novelty of emptying her litter tray ever day has waned; and you never get used to seeing her hawking up a hairball on the carpet.

And sex?

One word – claws!

LIZZIE

I dream of you in colors that don’t exist. In sounds that are as silent as a forest full of life.
I dream of you sitting next to me, cloaked in shiny certainty, wrapped in playful energy.
I dream of you being you and jumping and running.
I whisper a thousand moments of you.
I whisper and smile, desperately trying to keep you here.
I breathe the past to escape the now. But you’re not here anymore.
And you’ll never be here again. Never again.
I have to let you go, don’t I?
I just have to let you go.

SERENDIPITY

I love my little kitten, he’s so cute and playful, a lovable ball of fluff and mischief.

I can’t imagine what I’d do without him and his mad antics.

And there’s you thinking I’m a horrible person, with no heart or feelings; no conscience or morals.

Just goes to show how wrong you can be.

It’s true that I’ve tortured, murdered and desecrated family, friends and strangers alike, but I’m not all bad. My lovely kitten means the world to me.

Best of all, there’s nothing better than a cute little kitten to lure unsuspecting children to a horrible end!

RICK

The Adversely Located Tom Cat Blues

Murray’s mama was a lap Kitty. Fluffy, well groomed, and sweet! One night she slipped out the back door and found passion in the back alley.

Murray was born two months later.

His siblings … sweet and cute …
like Mama …

… Murray was cut from different cloth.

Fierce, violent, aggressive …
back alley wild …
the way of the fang in claw!!!

Beast of the streets …
Baptized in blood …
Ferocity, savagery … coursed through his veins!

And yet, when the girl child gave him milk, scratched his neck … Murray would purr and purr

Murray hated that!!!

But … he lapped up the milk … and purred.

TOM

Cat Dharma

The kitten was not cute nor particularly pretty. It looks like an assembly of damp pipe cleaners. It was alone, scared and hungry. She or he had been dump at the end of the street and had made it to the safety of the back deck. We play a game of hide and seek, because if the kitten see me it will duck under the deck. I can’t just leave out cat food. The deer, raccoons, chicken, and woodpeckers would eat it first. So we play hide and seek at dawn and dusk. Sometimes the kitten wins, sometimes the deers.

NORVAL JOE

When Billbert didn’t respond, the two sunglass wearing agents moved a step closer.
“Come on, boy. Let’s go,” one of them said.
Before he could get up, Dergle Vander Hoont stepped in front of him and said, “He doesn’t have to go anywhere with you.”
One of the agents sneered. “Take your emotional support cat and get out of the way.”
Dergle was clearly offended. “This is no paltry kitten. This is the source of my super powers. The powers of the wiener dog.”
“Yeah, Right.” The man laughed. “More like you have the powers of the Christmas Fruit Cake.”

PLANET Z

BEWARE OF KITTY says the sign on the fence.
But I don’t own a cat.
I own a Rottweiler. And I named him KITTY.
All capital letters, too.
Because I shout KITTY a lot.
After words like SIT and STAY and KILL.
KITTY is usually well-behaved.
I stress the usually.
The postman started to carry mace, so I made goggles for KITTY to wear.
Then, the postman started to carry a gun, so I made KITTY a Kevlar vest.
I have a box at the Post Office now.
And never get coupons or political shit hung from my doorknob anymore.

Weekly Challenge #756 – BOXER

Sofa hog

LIZZIE

Heal. The pain. Some pain. No… The darkness will stay for as long as I live, he thought. Fight for money, fight for food. Fight. Be nothing but a smashed up face everyone will have forgotten by tomorrow. Move on to the next town. Fight some more. The posters plastered all over. The money. The food. And onward he went. Town after town. They all looked alike. Until that day. Her kid, her dog, her smile. It’s complicated, she said. He didn’t think it was. It was actually quite simple. Heal. The pain. All of it. Just heal. And smile.

RICHARD

Integrity

My parents used to tell me to be true to myself, no matter what others think. A philosophy that they followed themselves.

We lived in a rough and uncompromising district, which made it tough for dad to indulge his passions for flower arranging and needlepoint, but he stayed true to himself, and oddly, the roughnecks in the neighbourhood gave him a wide berth.

I admired dad for sticking to his guns and to me it proved that even the toughest opposition will always respect integrity.

Although, on reflection, my mother’s reputation as a champion heavyweight boxer may have helped too.

TOM

Pretty Good Job

Nearly half a century ago I had the best joke a 20-something could have. When folk were making 3.50 I was pulling down 15.00 an hour. I worked in a natural food bakery packaging pastries: I was a boxer. We got paying 2 Cents a cookie. I could grab 20 cookies in a hand with one swing across a cookie parchment. The trick you learn when on piecework is never, I mean never tough a piece of paperwork. Anything remotely administrative is on a separate clock. When management push back we said ok put us back on the clock. Crickets.

SERENDIPIDY

You’re not really a proper serial killer until the press have seen fit to grant you a headline grabbing name.

But it’s hard to gain true notoriety anymore, because so many names, I’m sorry to say, are rather predictable.

It’s usually just a case of your location appended to your methodology… Like the Boston Strangler, Yorkshire Ripper and so on.

If I’d known I’d become famous, I’d have reconsidered my own methods.

The ‘Pondhaven Boxer’ is a crappy name.

It’s not because I punch my victims though.

It’s because I box up their remains and send them to the cops.

NORVAL JOE

A large man with a short black beard charged into the emergency room, and shouted, “Where’s Olive Oil?”
The squinky eyed sailor jumped up and bounced in place, his fists held up like a boxer.
A nurse appeard through double doors. “Linoliamanda?”
Her father escorted her to the nurse. He said to Billbert, “Don’t go anywhere. I’m not done with you, yet.”
As they dissappeared from view, two men in suits and dark glasses walked into the room and scanned the occupants. When their eyes fell on Billbert, they approached.
Without introduction they said, “Get up. You’re coming with us.”

RICK

Converted Southpaw

George was never gonna be the champ, but, he was a damn good boxer. Iron chin, decent uppercut, stiff jab, 4 or 5 combinations he could work righty or lefty.

George had a gimmick. A natural lefty, trained as a righty … A couple times a round George switched up …

Righty to lefty …
Lefty to righty …

Not just punching … footwork too!

While his opponent adjusted George had a tremendous advantage. He pounded them!

Beat them to a pulp!

His opponents bloody, bludgeoned body … motionless at his feet, face swollen, cut, bruised … it felt almost “erotic” …

… kinda “delicious”!

George couldn’t get enough.

PLANET Z

I loved playing Mike Tyson Punchout.
You’d progress through increasingly tougher and quirkier boxers until you ended up fighting Mike Tyson.
All it took was one punch and he’d knock your ass down.
And he’d knock your ass down a lot.
When I say you, I mean a scrappy little boxer, not Robin Givens.
Who’s she?
Mike Tyson knocked her ass down a lot, too.
I don’t play that many games anymore.
Arthritis. Bad stuff.
I do watch videos of gameplay on YouTube.
Let them pay for the game and put in the hours.
And I’ll ignore the commercial breaks.

Weekly Challenge #755 – MONEY

Out and about a bit

LIZZIE

Just doodle a few things on that piece of paper and you can charge a million for it. Just throw in something strange, something mysterious, something… unusual. They will buy it. We can pretend we’re millionaires. And we can sail around the world. It’s not that easy? Come on, don’t be like that. Here, a paper and some crayons. Just draw something, anything. I want the money. We can go on a shopping spree, buy jewelry until we drop. Oh, come on, don’t be like that. Don’t walk away. Don’t you dare. I want the money. You can do it…

RICHARD

Timely investments

There’s nothing noble or altruistic about my time machine project. I’ve only one objective in mind, and that’s to make a huge amount of money.

You see, with all the accumulated knowledge of history at my disposal today, I can go back in time and make a few astute investments

Buy a few Van Gogh’s for pennies and keep them safe… Place accumulator bets on every major sporting event in history, and win big-time… Buy stocks and shares in Microsoft, Apple and Walmart, before anyone knew who they were.

Unfortunately, first I need the money to build the thing!

SERENDIPIDY

They tell me that the love of money is the root of all evil. I find that hard to believe, because I’m as evil as they come, and money is of no consequence to me.

I aspire to higher goals: For me it’s all about the purity of the act, and money, by its very nature tends to soil purity in all its forms.

Just give me a sharp knife, a quiet location, plenty of time and a sobbing, pleading victim, and I have everything I love, all in that special moment.

Rich, or poor, you all bleed the same.

TOM

Did you know the drumer from Iron Butterfly came from Pekin?

U.S. Senate: Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen once said: “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.” Because he came from Illinois even as kid he was on my radar. He grew up in Pekin just down the road from where I grew up. He died at 73. As a Kid he seemed so old. Now I’m just six year under that. Am I’m equally so old to. If I make it to 73 good chance my net worth with a million. A million here a million there and pretty soon you’re talking real money

NORVAL JOE

Billbert helped Mr. Withybottom explain to the triage nurse how Linoliamnda got hurt. She looked at the group of them like they had all come from a Comicon, and told them to have a seat. Linoliamnda held an ice bag against her head.
Mr. Withybottom turned on Billbert. “You know, we’re going to sue your family for expenses and emotional damage.”
Billbert swallowed. “Um. Okay. Well, my family doesn’t have a lot of money, but, I can start mowing lawns and washing cars to earn what I can.”
Linoliamanda rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry Billbert. Daddy is such a kidder.”

PLANET Z

Dollar Bill K.
A dollar a ball, a dollar a hole, a dollar a pin.
After he hung up his cues, clubs, and shoes, he drycleaned a dollar a shirt.
Or you could bring uniforms in by the cart and he’d charge by the pound.
(Including the cart. A guy’s gotta make a buck.)
Times were good.
Until everyone started dropping like flies from the carbon tetrachloride they used.
It got him, too.
As many times we went there, played with the boxes of lost buttons, maybe breathing that crap fucked me up a little.
I never kept any buttons.