FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - ?


Writing challenges, flash fiction, interesting anecdotes, amusements, and general miscellanea.

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Post September 01, 2016, 12:36:04 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

From Seconds to Centuries

By:
The Fisher of Men



"Driving by all these luxury apartments with an ocean view, knowing I could buy them if I wanted," Reverend Billy Joe Johnston ruminated over his success to his long time friend and business manager, "Why, I remember when I couldn't even afford a burger with a slice of raw onion."

The man sitting beside Billy Joe in the limousine was his friend and long time business partner Don, who oversaw the financial side of the reverend's ministry. After Don was released from the federal pen, he couldn't get a job hocking old dilapidated vehicles on a used car lot. For a long time, they were inseparable.

Billy Joe had black hair and eyes and a slight Cajun accent as most who were from Louisiana. He enjoyed having people do what he wanted them to do. Don was paunchy, mostly meek and very compliant to Billy Joe.

"You're awful quiet Don, is anything wrong?"

Don had been suspicious of Billy Joe dating other men and was more than indignant of his pretense of affection. "Well, I have a bit of a headache Billy Joe."

There was silence for the rest of the ride. Billy Joe was rehearsing his message, looking forward to the night that would follow. One thing about male prostitutes, they don't know who you are in the dark.

The coliseum parking in every direction was jammed packed. It was reported that 100,000 tickets were sold. Many of the vendors were sold out of merchandise. They push marketed personal advertising products with Billy Joe's name and image imprinted on them. One item was a toy catapult, which didn’t sale well.

Don wistfully remembered how their friendship began. They had confided in each other over every detail of their lives. But as Billy Joe became more famous, with his face on billboards, in religious magazines and other trappings of fame, he began pulling away from Don.

The limousine pulled into the parking garage at the coliseum.

"Listen, Don, I won't be needing you after the sermon so why don't you head back to the hotel and get some shut eye. I'll get with you sometime tomorrow."

"I can be on stand by Billy Joe in case you need..."

"No, I got it, I'll see you tomorrow."

Don looked dejected. "I'll pray for you, I really will," Don said teary eyed.

Without looking over his shoulder he replied, "Sure thing brother."

As the reverend walked away from the limousine fading into the shadows, Don sobbed.

***

Inside the arena, the audience was loud and chanting Billy Joe’s name.

Accompanied by bodyguards on either side, he was escorted onto the stage as the crowd stood to their feet with thunderous applause. Billy Joe thought to himself that he had finally made it, from grifter to God's spokesman.

The announcer stepped to the podium. "Are you people of God revved up tonight?" The audience erupted in loud cheering laced with Amens. "Let's give God a big round of applause. Can I hear an Amen?" The crowd shouted Amen. " Do you love God's messenger for the hour we're living in?" The crowd yelled, “Yes."

Reverend Billy Joe Johnston took the mic from the announcer's hand and continued. "Can you say Hal-le-lu-jah? The crowd shouted it back to him. "Well praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Hallelujah people you can all sit down." After a few minutes, everyone was seated and waiting for Reverend Billy Joe to speak.

He looked out across the sea of people, his coal black eyes reflecting the faces of his believers back at them.

"How many of you have your prayer cloths with you? If you don't, raise your hand and one of the attendants in the aisles will gladly give you one, for a thirty-dollar love offering. I've laid my hands personally on each and every one and have anointed them with oil.

He paused and continued.

Another way you can bring your prayers closer to God is by making a seed gift of faith to our ministry. When you give to God's servants, you are actually giving to God. After all, we are His hands and feet." He smiled and chuckled to himself.

Suddenly there was commotion in the aisle in front of the pulpit. "You son of a bitch, I know you are going out tonight with other men! How could you do this to me? I've loved and have been faithful to you for twenty years, how can you just shove me aside?" Don stepped to the front of the stage having walked down the aisle during the selling of the prayer cloths.

Reverend Billy Joe tried to recover. "I believe the devil himself has entered our midst my brothers and sisters. This man needs deliverance from this foul demon." The manager, who was shaking and crying, pulled out a gun and fired a round into the air. "I'll send you to God 'without' a prayer cloth!" Don fired four shots into Billy Joe's chest and abdomen before shooting himself in the head.

***

Time in the spirit realm moves seconds to centuries. The soul once known as Billy Joe Johnston was seeing the evolution of time as his body fell backwards unto the stage. In the time it took for his body to hit the floor, he had seen a millennia pass, until the time the sun went super nova and the earth was in flames.

A messenger of light appeared beside him, radiance pulsating as he spoke. Picking up the soul of Billy Joe, he held it outstretched for a time and a season. The soul begged the question, "Why have I died so soon?"

The messenger of light spoke to him saying, "He never gave you permission to use His Name."

Dark spirits full of foulness like ravaging beasts came up from below and gnawed on him as they dragged him to the underworld.


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Post September 01, 2016, 12:37:10 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Kit and Kaboodle

By:
Kandi Tims



Over the grassy meadows and wood lawn wild was a pair of good doodling squirrels, who loved adventure and challenged evil at every turn. Kit was a voluptuous femme fatale, always a charmer with the boys. Her thick brown eyelashes, which gave her an exotic mystique along with her luxurious fluffy bottom, caused everyone to say she was bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Kaboodle was the mastermind; skillful and inventive, smart and crafty as squirrels go.

Late one night, Kaboodle noticed three strange men roaming around the house where his human family lived. He and Kit lived on a high-rise apartment tree branch, overlooking a grove of nut trees. Along with their buried stash of food, by any squirrel standards, they were living the good life.

Squirrels are by nature curious and most cautious. Kaboodle watched the three men sneak around the house. He was protective of his human pets.

Kit nestled next to Kaboodle, "What are you going to do, baby doll?" She used a little shoulder action when she spoke.

"We're going to need help," Kaboodle said intently.

Hootey flew over and sat beside Kaboodle as they watched the events below. He was the resident owl and intelligent observer.

"Whooo do you think they are?”

"Up to no good. Have you noticed what they're driving?"

Hootey nodded toward the car parked across the street.

"Recruit the leader of the pack and don't take no for an answer," Kaboodle said to Hootey.

"I don't like wolves. They’re always hungry.”

Kaboodle turned to Kit, "We need Grizzly."

"There is only so much charm I can muster." Kit looked up from under her beautiful eyelashes.

"We need a hitter," Kaboodle said insistently. She sighed and scurried down the tree.
_ _ _ _ _

In the tallest of the trees, considered penthouse apartments, a flock of blue jays were snoozing with full bellies from emptying the neighborhood's bird feeders. ‘Nice humans’ they thought as they slept.

"Wake up, I've got a job for you!" Kaboodle knew that blue jays are known to attack first and never ask questions later. They were getting plenty of rest for their spring flight to the west coast for their ocean vacation.

"Hey jive squirrel, what do you think you're doing?" The flock leader originally lived down town and sported a different accent than the rest of the neighborhood blue jays.

"I need help..."

"You need help, you need help! And how is that my problem?"

"The humans in that house below, they're being robbed."

"So?"

"They are the ones giving you food."

The blue jay leader looked down and then said, "How can we help?"

"I need noise makers. Perch on the window seals and make loud noises."

"Is that it? We'd do that for fun." Kaboodle scurried down the tree.

One of the thieves went to get their car to load the loot. As he made his way to the driver's side, a wolf moved around the back end and faced him. The man slowly walked backwards turning his head to see another wolf stalking him from his rear. The wolves were intent on enjoying some gracious living at the man's expense.
_ _ _ _ _

The blue jays started a party on the windowsills, screeching and laughing loudly. Kit supplied them with party nuts and was an elegant host. A ground squirrel, pint size really, invented a make shift catapult out of a two-by-four and a medium sized rock and slung garbage towards the window including onions and watermelon rinds. The robbers heard the ruckus and were becoming anxious.

"I'll quiet them down" said a thief as he grabbed a broom and walked towards the back door. As he opened it with a start...he saw an eight-foot grizzly bear standing in front of him. The bear growled; the man froze with fear. Seconds later, he closed the door and ran towards the kitchen.

Suddenly, the door was torn off its hinges and the bear galloped into the house chasing the robbers.

They yelled and ran into the bedroom, locking the door behind them.
_ _ _ _ _

A police car was passing by and slowed down in front of the house. A herd of deer was standing in front of the driveway, unwilling to move. The police flashed their lights and gave a burst from their siren, to no avail. So they pulled into the driveway to turn around and the deer followed behind them.

The officers got out of the squad car and were greeted by a buck, which herded them towards the backdoor. Once around the back, they could see signs of a robbery in progress and entered the house. Hearing cries for help, they walked down the hall and into the bedroom to see two men on the bed with a giant bear sitting on top of them. It's a little known fact, that bears can open doors by turning doorknobs with their teeth.

The bear jumped off the bed and climbed out the open window. The men were handcuffed and arrested and lead out to the squad car. The birds let out one more hoop and dispersed.

Shortly there after, the police found the thieves abandoned car across the street with the third robber up a tree...visibly shaken.

The bear smiled as he passed Kit on his way home. Kaboodle asked, "How did you get him to play his part?"

"Believe me, it was not cheap." She turned her head and smiled.

"After the commotion was over," Kit flittering her eyelashes and asked, "You wanna go back home and share your nuts with me."

Kaboodle thought to himself, 'What in the world could she possibly mean by that?'

As they were back at their branch apartment, Kaboodle looked at his lifelong friend and love and said with a satisfied smile, "I love it when a plan comes together."


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Post September 01, 2016, 12:38:41 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Hearts of Stone

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



A frothy, low wave slowly rolled in, lapping gently against a pair of stones piled halfway up the long, white, ocean beach. Blue sky poured from the heavens with such intensity, clouds dared not appear.

Seagulls called to each other as they circled a black, empty, galley ship tilted on its side against the sand. Its sails were tattered, dark, and dirty. A tangled, fraying rope plunged from the ship to a rough-hewn hole through the center of the larger, blood-red and gray speckled stone.

Beside the gulls and the waves, there were no sounds across the cove until the smooth, black stone complained, "Would you stop touching me?! Half a mile's worth of empty beach, and you have to lay right on me?"

Tucked partially beneath the rough anchor stone, Natalie had had enough.

Angelo, resting mostly to her side, replied in a soothing, thickly-accented tone, "Señorita, I am only barely touching you. The sailors who put me here are to blame, not I, but why dwell on negatives? It is a beautiful day in a beautiful world. The sun is bright, and high in the sky. It feels so warm on my back. Ah! Do you hear? The birds are happy, telling jokes to each other."

"I wouldn't know. You're blocking my view and my sunlight." Natalie asked, "You can understand the birds?"

Angelo paused only for a moment. "No, but I believe if I were a bird, I would be telling jokes, so what's the difference?" He chuckled in a friendly tone. "On a day such as today, anything is possible... Although, are you sure you are feeling all right?"

"Yes. Why?"

"You are sounding a little gravelly." He hooted with laughter.

"Oh, brother." Rock humor.

Angelo asked, "You have a brother? Is he near?"

"No, it's just me on this beach, or at least it was for the last thousand years since the ice pushed me here. It was nice. Quiet."

"Oh," Angelo replied, "not to worry, then. I am here to keep you company now. Really, for a thousand years, you have been sitting on this beach, all alone?"

"Yes. It's fine." Will he ever stop talking?

"What do you do with all that time?"

"I watch the world. I know the lapping of ocean waves, the blades of grass there at the edge of the sand. There is a human fort out of sight, past the grass. Sometimes the humans come down to the sea, and I watch them. Mostly, I enjoy the quiet."

Angelo chucked. "Not me. Ever since I was pulled from the ground in Ciudad Real, I have traveled the world. I have seen wonders you have never dreamed of, my dear."

"Really." Natalie tried her best to make her tone as disinterested as she could.

"Believe it or not, my journey started because I am soft. I am made of mostly red cinnabar, unlike you with your hard, basalt body. That's why they wanted me. It was easy to carve the hole through me for the anchor rope."

He paused. "That was quite painful, but I bore it heroically, and did not crack."

Natalie wished she had eyes to roll.

"It was worth it to see the crimson sunsets over yellow-flowered trees in Nihon Koko. To see divers pull beautiful, white pearls from the green sea in Parsa, to see the spires rising over Ganarajya, or the pillars of the Giant's Causeway lifting out of the ocean in frigid Albion... but there was no one to talk to."

For a week straight, Angelo spoke about the things he'd seen. In spite of herself, Natalie began to be interested. It kept her mind off the rising noise from the direction of the humans. Noise of battle.

A half-eaten onion splashed into the thin wash of water behind Natalie, surprising them both. It dropped from the hand of a particularly dim-looking orc.

A squad of squat, leather-clad soldiers armed with swords stood around the stones.

"You!" the leader shouted. "Take that red stone and bash through the gate of the fortress!"

Onion Orc cut the rope, grabbed Angelo, and started running.

Natalie thought about Angelo gone. She would be alone again. Finally, blessed peace and quiet was hers, and...

She didn't want it.

"No!" She shouted to the orcs, but they didn't hear her. "He's too soft--he'll break!"

"You!" The leader ordered, "take the other one and put it in the catapult!"

Strong hands grabbed her and put her in an already-wound, lowered catapult. From her vantage point, Natalie could see Onion Orc sprinting toward the human's gate through a hail of arrows, Angelo held high over its head. It would reach the gate in a few seconds. Angelo would be gone, forever.

She rocketed into the air toward the fort. She screamed.

She struck the wooden gate. She heard a deafening crack. Splinters exploded everywhere as the door ripped loose from stone and pounded inward to the ground. Natalie rebounded into the dirt, in front of Onion Orc.

Every part of Natalie howled in pain. A long crack was open across her back.

The orc paused, as if disappointed. It dropped Angelo, then drew its sword and ran into the fort. Dozens of other orcs followed it. Angelo rolled to a stop alongside Natalie.

"What happened?" Angelo asked.

"In the air, I begged the walls to let go of the wooden door. Loudly."

"Why did you do that?"

"So it would fall down and the orc wouldn't need you. I couldn't let you be smashed to bits."

Angelo was speechless for a moment. "But look what it did to you. The crack runs almost all the way through you."

She made her voice sound as much like his as she could. "But I bore it heroically." She chuckled. "That's what friends do for each other."

If anyone in the whirl of battle had been looking at Angelo and Natalie, they would have seen tears coming from stones.

Tears of joy.


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Post September 01, 2016, 12:39:44 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

Blood, Sweat and Tears

By:
Sergio Palumbo



The pirate ship was sailing along the Ocean Coast in search of its next target, be it a small sea village or a lonely unprotected outpost. The crewmen aboard were content with their life as outlaws and were well aware that they did possess a powerful weapon to aid them during their plundering: a weapon that most ships did not have.

The vast majority of catapults that military vessels this size held on deck were the double-armed type, exactly like the one they had. They had such a powerful warship because their captain once stole it in a daring move, when a huge pirate fleet had surprisingly attacked a port of the Empire and the escaping soldiers had left it behind while fleeing for their own lives.

So, this new crew had made the ship their new home, turning it into their pirate vessel which was equipped with a device no other such sea-craft had at that time, at least not among the common sea thieves of the long Ocean Coast.

While they were sailing across that expanse in search of possible prey, Jalmk, the tall dark-haired thirty-year-old sailor considered that they were faster than many military ships, and their weapon made them a difficult opponent to anyone else. Why should they fear any enemies?

However, there was something that all seamen were afraid of: the fabled Vampire Pirates of the Ocean Coast. In fact, though ghost vessels made crewmembers fear the unknown seas elsewhere, here sightings of an ancient ship that was full of undead warriors had made many seamen cautious when approaching other sea-craft to be plundered. Some said it was a cursed vessel whose crew had to endlessly cross that stretch of the ocean and prey upon evil pirates. Others thought the crewmen had drunk human blood to quench their thirsts - which had turned them into the peculiar undead creatures they were now. Their need for blood made them constantly sail the sea – not only at night.

Desperation appeared on the men’s faces that morning when a black ship was spotted behind them, and their eyes filled with fear as the unusual sea-craft moved towards them. They wished it were a ghost-ship or a sea monster! But it wasn’t, and that meant they had stumbled into the worst possible enemy any pirate vessel might encounter in the middle of that ocean…

They tried their best to outdistance the ship but it was soon clear that their sails were not big enough to match the other’s black sails. So they began being busy rushing about, grabbing the arms and shields they had aboard, and getting ready to battle to the death instead of surrendering to those bloodsucking monsters. Some considered jumping over the sides of their ship but most couldn’t swim. So, it was a matter of simply making a stand in the end.

Then, Lrektl, a blond-haired friend of Jalmk who rarely lost his ability to think clearly, came up with a better way to deal with those creatures. He approached his friend and told him: “I know how we can stop them. Let’s go to the storage room and get all the onions we can find. Then we’ll fill up our catapult with them and fire it.”

What? Onions? Why should we use them instead of boulders?” Jalmk asked his friend.

“Their ship is cursed so there is no way our weapon can destroy it…but vampires are afraid of onions.”

“Where did you hear of such a way to get rid of those cursed creatures?”

“It was one of the many things I learned while rolling a whore in a tavern in a southern port. When you say that nothing good can came out of spending time with women of ill repute, I’d have to disagree!” the other cried out.

“So, what now?”

“I am going to warn the captain. In the meantime take all the onions we have aboard…” Lrektl uttered.

Jalmk didn’t know if it was desperation or just given the faith he had in his crewman, but the captain allowed them to proceed with their strange plan. The catapult worked by pulling back on the rope which connected the two arms. While sweating cause of the warm climate, they just waited for exactly the moment and when the arms were bent back against the tensile material, the rope was released and the arms snapped back into place, propelling the projectiles forwards towards its target at sea.

Throwing onions instead of other materials against your enemies! Truly, Jalmk would never have believed it if he hadn’t seen it for himself…

After the first launch, and the others that followed, nothing seemed to happen. The cursed ship was still after them, and you could still see the undead crewmen walking its deck. So, why was that?

It was at a certain moment that Lrektl made a face, paused for a breath and emitted a whimpering voice. “Thinking about it again, it was not onions…” he said in a dejected tone. “It was garlic that harms vampires! If I just hadn’t always been drunk while bedding those women I would have known better…”

Looking at Lrektl, an astonished Jalmk told himself that he had always been a very good friend, and he had saved him many times in battle previously, protecting him with his shield or healing his wounds. If only his memory had been as good as his great courage! As tears filled his eyes, the man considered that it was bad enough that they would soon become prey to those monsters, but at least he would have liked to have faced his death with purpose and resolve.

Though, with all the onions they had touched while preparing their huge catapult, and all the tears that presently filled his face, it was obvious that Jalmk would not die in the respectable, manly way that he wished he could…


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Post September 01, 2016, 12:41:21 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

The Onion Field

By:
George T. Philibin



“I’ll make you cry!” Littejoe screamed. He was one of the village idiots, and he just pitched an onion at Dracona.

Dracona looked at the onion sailing toward him and sneered at the prospect of a village idiot telling him what and what not he could do and pitching an onion at him. The very idea of a village idiot messing with a vampire!

“Keep you distance,” Deadman said. The last time you got a stomach ache and you couldn’t swallow blood for a week. . . keep clear of that onion field.”

“I know, I know. We better do something about them. They’ve been planting those damned onions closer and closer to the castle every year now. They’re too close for comfort!” Dracona said.

Both vampires turned their heads and looked at the ocean behind Castle Montery, their home. Over the years, more entrance doors and glass windows and open archways were added, since the castle served no defensive purposes anymore. The waves slapped against the shore, and the wind often whistled about the battlements and sometimes screamed, it seemed, when a violent storm approached. Deadmand and Dracona were two vampire buddies that lived in the castle, and they decided to check out the field of onions which was encroaching on castle Montery’s grounds.

“I’m telling you there’s garlic in there somewhere. I can feel it. Don’t you?” Dracona said.

“Hey, vamps. We’re agona get you. Yes we are. Just stay in your castle and we’ll get you,” Holbe another villagers screamed!

“Why the insolence of that idiot. Threatening me! The most powerful one of the all!” Deadman said.

“We want your castle! And we’ll get it! Yes we will! You’ll have to move!” Holbe screamed,

The full moon beamed down on the onion field, and Deadman and Dracona looked and examined every detail that showed itself under the moonish rays of light. But what confuse them, was the large wooden object the was slowing moving toward the castle. It was pushed by a group of village idiots. What was it? What was the purpose of it. Why? It didn’t make sense.

“I’m telling you, I don’t like the looks of that thing—whatever it is,” Dracona said. “I smell garlic. Smell it!”

“Yeah, it’s coming from behind that thing.” Deadman said. “Well I sure as hell don’t want to fly over and take a look. Remember the last time we flew over that village of idiots? They had the nerve to shoot at us with garlic in their sling shots!”

“Oh, man----that one villager had a good aim too. Those idiots never listened to their elders about us, did they,” Dracona said. “I know the elders tell them to stay away from the castle.”

“No they don’t! Young people don’t respect anything anymore!” Deadman said.

“What is that thing?” Dracona said.

The wooden thing slowly moved toward the castle, and the odor of garlic also permeated the air. This upset Deadman and Dracona.

Redfen! Redfen! Get over here!” Deadman screamed toward the castle.

Redfen came stumbling out of the castle and said, “Yes master.”

“Sneak into that onion field and find out what the hell they’re up to. And find out what that thing is!” Deadman said.

“M-Master I-I-I c-can’t. . .” Redfen started to say.

“Just do it!!” Deadman blasted.

“Y-Yes master.”

Redfen hobbled out and into the field. He kept himself low and crawled.

After a short time in which Deadman and Dracona waited for Redfen’s return, Deadman finally screamed: “What’s taking him so long! If he’s not sleeping under that table, he’s goofing off behind the garden, pretending to be trimming the grass. I tell you we should have hired that other one!”

“Well, we did get him cheap,” Dracona said.

“Cheap! Why he’s costing us plenty just to feed him!” Deadman blasted out.

After another few minute, Redfen came quickly hobbling out of the field breathing very heavily.
He hobbled up to Deadman but didn’t say anything because he was out of breath.

“Well, what’s out there!” Deadman screamed. He waited another second or two then repeated the question again. By this time Redfen caught some of his breath and could utter a few sentences.

“It’s–It’s –a catapult. Yes—a catapult!” Redfen said.

“What!” Deadman screamed.

Redfen now able to speak said, “It’s a big catapult and they have many baskets of garlic behind it. I heard one villager say, “This will drive them out.”

Before Dracona could say anything a clunk noise washed over the castle and all three looked toward the catapult. A basket of garlic came raining down on them—the garlic dispersing in flight, and when the garlic landed, the individual cubes covered an area the size of an average front lawn,

“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. . .” Deadman and Dracona screamed in unison. Redfen just said, “Oh- my -God.”

Clunk! Another volley of garlic hit the castle, some entering open windows while others landed inside the courtyard. Others hit the battlements, and to their surprise, small crossed were also mixed in with the garlic.

A large group of villagers were now running toward the castle, and they were carrying a battering ram. The garlic kept raining down on the castle as the villagers neared the front door.

“Let’s get outta here!” Deadman screamed.

Out a back window facing the ocean both vampires flew.

“I wonder what enraged them so much?” Dracona said.

“I know what it was. And I told you not to do it that day we flew over their village when they were shooting at us!” Deadman said. “We always left the villagers alone, thinking they would let us alone. We never bit any of them!”

“Hey, they were shooting garlic at us. So what the hell, I figured. I’ll just relieve myself over them. I know I got one or two in the eye!” Dracona said.

Deadman just shook his head.


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Post September 01, 2016, 12:42:19 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

The Wedding Feast

By:
David King



There is told a parable about a King who had a Son who was getting married. And the King was so excited, He sent out his servants to invite the noble people, all the senators, congressman, attorneys and physicians, all those who were cool in the kingdom.

But the big shots said, "No way, we're too busy to come to the King’s Sons wedding banquet." So when the servants told the King that the biggies wasn’t coming, the King got - - rooooar - - he got mad is what He did.

So the King told his servants, "Go to where the scunges hang out and tell anyone who wants to come, that they are invited to the wedding feast."

His servants asked, "Are you for real?"

And the King said, "You got it!"

And so the servants went back into the streets and welcomed anyone who wanted to come to the King's Sons wedding banquet.

Before the wedding feast, the Son moved freely amongst his people, bestowing gifts (some would say miracles), to those in need.

One day, He went into a synagogue (that's a Jewish church). The religious leaders stared at Him with suspicion, and conspired to entrap Him. So they handed Him the book of Isaiah and asked, "Why don't you read us something?

And so the Prince said those famous words, "That's cool" and began reading the part in the book of Isaiah saying, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me to preach the good news and set the captives free."

And then He closed the book and handed it back to them.

And while everyone was looking around, the King's Son spoke and said, "Today, this scripture...is fulfilled in your ears."

Now the Sadducees and Pharisees, they were the religious leaders back then, instead of getting all excited and saying, "Far out, the King's Son is here! We don't have to die for being creeps! Let's invite our friends to the synagogue for a covered dish dinner and play some volleyball on the front lawn.”

Well, instead of doing that, they took Him outside of town and tried to push Him off a cliff.

Not cool!

But the Son just walked away from them cause He was the Prince. When you're the Prince you've got lots of options for getting out of trouble. He said, "I'll see you guys later," and He split.

So when the Son left the synagogue, He walked into the street and met a prostitute named Mary. She had a demonic spirit, in fact, seven of them, who spake to the Son and said, "We know who you are, will you torture us before our time?"

And He spoke to the demons saying, "Leave her now." And immediately they did.

The Son continued to meet people as He walked, once passing an old catapult displayed as a monument in the town square. There he met a man named Matthew, who was cheating people while collecting taxes.

Later that day he walked down to the ocean. Saw a fisherman named Peter casting out his net.

That evening he met a man with a fuzzy face, singing a song in the street. David, yes that is my name. Getting loaded being weird, that was my game.

When He had gathered them together, the Son said to them all, "Come follow me. I love you and My Father loves you too.

And we said, "Sir, you don't know how bad we are."

But the Son said, "Yes I do. My Father prepared a feast for the noblemen. But they were all, too busy too come. Now the door is open to everyone. Why don't you come with Me? Come on, come follow Me."

By this time we were all running down the road. You should have seen Mary; a smile came over her face. She ran down the road, skipping, jumping and laughing saying, "Wait for Me, I'm coming too."

Matthew was throwing money on the ground while eating an onion. Peter was so funny; he was flipping fish into the air, there were fish scales everywhere...tripping over his net. I was throwing up my guitar, screamin' and yellin'. A bunch of writers joined us, throwing their keyboards into the air, “Hey, wait for me”

We're all running down the road after the King's Son and people are looking around saying, "What are you guys so excited about?"

And we said, "What are we excited about? Hey, the King's Son is getting married and we've been invited to the wedding feast, that's what we are excited about."

They looked at us and said, "You mean the King - wants you people - at His Son's wedding feast?"

And we said, "That's right! He invited all the biggies to come but they said they were too busy. He turned to us and asked, "Do you guys want to come? We said wow, are you kidding, hey we'll come."

And then a member of the crowd stepped out and said, "We would like to come also to the King's Son wedding feast, but we ain't got much El Denero, Supremo La Grande, that's Taco Bell talk for not much money. We ain't got much money, what does it cost to come to the King's Son wedding feast?

And we look at each other and we said, "What's it cost? You want to know what it costs? It cost NOTHING! You see the guy up front. That's the Son of the King. He's picked up the tab for all the meals you can come for free!

They go, alright!

As we walked to the palace, I looked at the Son and said, thank you for being my friend today. And He spoke to me saying, “I’ve always been your friend…all of your life…since the moment you were in your mother’s womb, I knew you.

Right then, I knew who He was.


The End
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Post September 01, 2016, 12:43:32 AM

The "You've Got a Friend in Me" Challenge

- Winner -


How Do You Like Them Apples?

By:
Genna Watson



The fluorescent garden of paradise was translucent through the pure light that encompassed its boundaries. There was a deep blue ocean surrounding the circumference of this thousand-mile island. Every animal was at peace in this tranquil place of breath taking beauty. Serenity was present for there were no conflict or evil intentions, not even in thought. It was indeed heaven on Earth.

And then one day, there was a man, who by appointment, oversaw this ethereal vacation spot and all was wonderfully fine until....

...a woman appeared, fair and beautiful to tantalize the eyes of every man in this garden bliss - ah - well - one man in particular. She didn't escape his attention. He knew what elephants looked like, he knew what zebras looked like, and he was quiet familiar with every other animal for he took inventory of them for the boss.

He knew one thing though, her name must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that!

She was aware of him too with his muscular body and the beautiful dumb animal like expression on his face.

"Wow," she said, "Look at you!" "You're certainly a big boy. Are you dating anyone special?"

"Well," he coughed nervously. "Ah, I'm what you call a confirmed bachelor. I'm a career guy with a lot of responsibilities for the animals and the plants and...ah...things. Also, you're the first woman I've ever seen."

"You mean the most beautiful woman you've ever seen?"

Recovering nicely, for a man. "Yes, that's exactly what I mean."

"So you're big around here."

"Sure, I invent things in my spare time...which is all the time. See those two trees with that branch fastened to the back of those animal skins. That’s a catapult for knocking fruit out of the trees so I don't have to climb them." They both looked at each other confused. "I'm not all that tech savvy.”

Curious he asked, “Tell me, why are you here?"

"I'm just here for a side of ribs." She began stretching real slow. He watched...intently.

"You got anything to drink?" She was thirsty for a woman who only had been alive for fifteen minutes.

"We got...water!"

"You got anything harder?" She was checking him out wishing he were as smart as he was good looking.

"I got rocks! There harder."

She pretended not to hear that.

They continued talking, looking, interested in what the night would bring.

The days passed quickly, turning into years.


[Three years later]


The couple was hard at it.

"You never take me anywhere!" She was not happy...again.

"Take you out, we're in freakin' paradise!"

"All I do is cook...," she said.

"We have no fire..."

"Clean and do laundry..." she said complaining.

"We live outdoors and well, we're naked."

"All we do is talk and make love. Oh yeah, and take care of animals. Why can't they just take care of themselves?

"Because, they don't have a maid."

"The hell they don't, I do everything but powder their little behinds."

The man once again was at his breaking point, sort of. "Do you know how much you complain?

"Oh," she said with sarcasm, "What will the neighbors think?"

"If you're talking about the monkeys, they’re discussing by passing evolution, to avoid turning into...well you."

"They may throw doodee, but at least they have better sex."

"Oh fine, knock my manhood. Are you saying I can't satisfy you anymore?"

"You're not the same person I knew three years ago. Your seed bearers are not what they use to be."

"Oh, let me tell you, if they've shrunk, it's because of your nagging!"

Her voice became solemn. "I hate to tell you this, but I've found someone else."

He didn't believe her. "Right, a mystery date? Does he have a name?"

"His name is Mr. Slither. He approached me underneath the apple trees."

He became concerned. "You mean the two apple trees with the no trespassing sign."

"How would I know what the sign said? It’s not like I’ve been to school."

The man began trying to size up his competition. "What does he do for a living?"

"He's a produce salesman. Here's a sample, Try it."

The man hesitated, but eventually bit into it. He savored it for a moment.

The woman started laughing, "Do you feel any different? Are you becoming any wiser?"

After a few moments, the man made a face and spit out what he had eaten. "This is an onion. This is a damn onion! How am I going to get the bad taste out of my mouth?"

The woman laughed until she doubled over in hysterics.

He walked toward her and said, "I'm going to get even with you."

When he got to where she was laying, he turned her over and began tickling her. She cried out, "Stop, stop" and when he wouldn't, she began pulling him closer until he was lying on top of her. She started making those eyes at him, those alluring eyes that confused him.

They began kissing and making out as they always did this time of day. With the built up frustration released, they were close once again.

She stopped kissing him for a moment and pulled out a shining piece of fruit. "No joke, Mr. Slither gave me this to try. Let's both bite into it at the same time." Slowly, they leaned forward with open mouths and...


The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:20:45 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

The challenge this month was to create a science fiction tale told only in the form of letters.
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:21:15 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

Fumee D'opium at Night...

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Dear Guillaume
(who is me)

This letter is a fourth attempt at reporting the strange experience I have been going through recently, and you’ll find it in the pocket of my gray jacket the next time, though I can’t tell you when this next time will actually occur…

I’m writing this because I don’t know how long I can still be myself, or how long I can master my mind before I lose consciousness again and everything changes. I can’t even imagine when my true self will be back again, so that I can write a new recount of what has happened.

The strange thing is that I don’t even know what I was doing before my mind came back to its senses, before I unexpectedly awakened again.

The room I am in now is the same room I was in the last time I can remember being awake. No window, only a bed in the center and no chair, no table; the wooden door is locked from the outside. I have at my disposal only an old pen and a few pieces of paper I can freely write my thoughts on - which is the text of this letter. I don’t know exactly where I am, nor how I was brought inside. Anyway, I feel that I am watched now, although the ones looking at me are unseen at the moment. But they are watching – I am certain of it!

Now carefully listen to me, who is also you. Somebody is keeping me here, against my will, and there is no way I can escape. So, bear in mind, next time that I am myself again, try your best to get out of here. Don’t forget, hurry up, I don’t know how long I can be in my right mind next time…


----------------------------

Dear Paul,
(the person who is me),

This is the eighth letter I have written, though unfortunately nothing has changed. I still keep writing my messages on this paper and I am provided with new pages every time I wake up in this place. I don’t know who gives me them or when he places the pages inside this room. But it is certain that, whoever he is, this person seems to be interested in what I think and write while I am being held within these walls. Maybe he is studying me, or maybe there is more than one person outside who is watching what I do. How can I find out the truth?


----------------------------

Dear Antoine,

Third letter written and nothing has changed. What the hell am I doing here? Why can’t I get outside? Who do these other letters belong to that I find in the pocket of my gray jacket and who are Guillame and Paul? I don’t even know these people! Pay attention, Antoine, next time you wake up you have to do something, or this will never end! I don’t want to die in here!

Yours Antoine


----------------------------

Dear Doctor Feng,

I’m Heng, the Chinese proprietor of the fumerie d’opium who is studying the forty-six-year-old subject on behalf of my superiors who rule over the mob in Hyères, France, who appointed You to this case. This is my thirteenth report. I don’t know if You have started reaching a conclusion about this matter.

To summarize the events so far, everything has begun when that middle-aged patron has walked into my premises some nights ago. Though there are other bigger venues like mine in town in these last years of the 1800s, that customer had made his own choice to try something different, probably.

After reclining in order to hold the long opium pipes over an oil lamp to heat the drug until it vaporized, allowing the fumeur to inhale, something has happened. When the blond-haired French customer awoke and stood up early in the morning, he didn’t seem to be himself anymore. He spoke differently, his voice was not the same and I thought he was another person. He really looked like another man, also his voice was different! After trying to calm him down, I have asked my henchmen to take the customer to a secluded room where he could calm down before being taken outside. The problem was that the man has never been himself again, at least not the person that he was when he first entered the fumerie the previous night.

I don’t know if the Frenchman’s disorientation had been caused by the drugs he smoked, or if it was due to something else. Anyway, this was the first time I sold this new mixture of unknown ingredients, and this was the only subject who had shown such unexpected behaviour.

I have been able to discover over the course of the following days - while keeping that strange patron locked inside the room - that every time the man was given the new drug he awoke as a different person, and wrote a letter to warn himself – or one of his many ‘personalities’ - about the dangers of his present situation. As requested from my superiors, I have allowed that patron to continue using the drug, as there was no way he could be released until he was in his right mind again. Perhaps the new drug mixture released all the other personalities already alive inside the man’s mind. Maybe he was one of those strange individuals with different selves, different persons in him, though unbeknownst to themselves, like those bloody killers You could read about in the newspapers…

As a humble owner of this fumerie d’opium I truly don’t know, but I would continue to keep the man locked up as my mob’s test subject. My superiors certainly don’t want a bad product to be widely released that could adversely affect other customers…which would be bad for their business.

They hope to be discovering more and more about that man’s different selves over the course of the next days. Or months, whatever it takes…


The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:22:21 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

Aryelle's Love



Aryelle, the Brethren slumber in their metal armor.

Until they awaken, I have nothing to do, save stare out the viewport. The stars remind me of yours.

I pass every day wishing I were back with you. We would lie like we did that day in the sand. So happy, so content, like this is the way we were meant to be. You were so beautiful.

We never saw the wave coming that drenched us. We laughed and laughed.

Later, by the fire, further back in the dunes, I lay down behind you. Your body melted against mine. Your hair smelled like wildflowers. Your skin was so smooth and soft, like nothing I had ever felt before. I ran my hand up your thigh, past the tight roundness of your belly and held you. In that moment, it felt like we were the only two people in the whole universe. We lay like that until slumber took us both. It was the happiest I'd ever felt.



I love this device, Haim. I think it, and the words appear on the screen. Are you sure it's safe to use? Can't it send more than one message a day? I hate waiting so long to hear from you.

It smells like rain is coming. Would you run in the rain and jump in the puddles with me?

I have the perfect outfit for it. Hint, hint.




Dearest Aryelle, if only I knew when I could come back. The Brethren require my service, so I must wait here, in their ship of war. I don't know our destination or when we will reach it but I am released after their assault, so may it come soon. I only know however long it will be, it feels an eternity without you.

The Brethren, the Brotherhood of Death, are the Imperial invasion force--more machine than flesh beings that spew their never-ending, burning hate onto unsuspecting worlds. I have searched many star systems, and because of that they value me enough to let me live.

It's how I found you, but don't worry, I never told them of your world. It's too precious. If we only send one message each day, the Brethren will never know.



It's lonely here, inside this old house in the woods. The power is out. Some kind of sun spot interference, or something. I lit the fireplace and I'm laying on the rug in front of it. There's room for you. I want you to know I miss you very much.

I'm going to town tomorrow to buy some groceries. One of my girlfriends, Melissa, is having a party, so I may go to that, too. Secretly, I think she's trying to set me up with someone. She doesn't know about you. I wish I could tell her.

What do you do all day besides miss the sexiest girl in this solar system?




I'm trying to figure out where the ship is going. Just about every instrument is locked out, but I think I can trick the sensors to give me a bearing to galactic center, and then I can read the stars I can see out the window and compute my general location. I am a scout. I'm used to finding my way without much equipment.

How was your get together? I wish I could be there with you, but I'm glad you can still find enjoyment without me.



It was really, really fun. Melissa introduced me to a guy named Joshua. He was very interesting, and it was nice to sit and talk to him. We saw a movie, too.

Was it ok that I visited with another?

When will you come back? I hate being alone. My pillow doesn't smell like you anymore. Did you know you smell like the sea?




Aryelle, we are very close to you. I fear they are coming for Earth. I believe they just flew past Earth, but they are going to use your sun to slow down and then be a plague on you all.

If I am right, I will sabotage the ship, even if it means my death.

I will not let them have you.



That isn't funny. Why would you joke like that? Why would you try to scare me?



They will be upon you in two days. I planted charges from the Brethren's munitions, and when we pass your sun again, all the lander engines will ignite, pushing us into the fire.

I cannot escape, but I choose this for you, in exchange for your life, with full knowledge the Brethren will kill me before we burn. You must live. I cannot bear the thought of what they would do to you and your planet.

The image of your sweet face, my Aryelle, is all that I can see when I close my eyes. I weep and curse the fates that brought us together. I am on a ship of cruelty, but did not understand how cruel it truly was.

Tomorrow, I will die for you, my love.



Haim, NO! You can’t leave me here without you. Please, if you are gone, then I won’t go on without you. I’ll step in front of a bus or drink lye. Please, please, don’t leave me!



Aryelle, the charges will fire in a few minutes. By the time you see this, I will be dead. I gave my life for yours.

Don’t let my death be for nothing. Live on.

Farewell, my love.



I saw the flash, and knew what it meant. I can’t stop crying. I have the pills to end it. I need only swallow them to join you.

When we meet in the afterlife, will you hate me for following so soon after? We’ll be together. Or I could throw them away and live, but I’d be alone. No one here could match your love.

The pills are in my hand.

Help me pick, Haim.


A breeze! It smells like the sea.


I chose.



The End
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Post September 29, 2016, 10:23:59 PM

An Epistolary Tale Challenge

- Winner -


The American Prince

By:
Kandi Tims



06-04-06

Dear Mr. Elderidge,

I really enjoyed your book. I couldn't put it down. I got your e-mail address from your publisher I hope you don't mind. I saw your photo on the back of your book jacket. You’re really cute. I am twelve years old too. Please respond.

Sincerely,

Princess Miranda Heddington
_ _ _


06-05-06

Hello Miranda,

I'm surprised to hear from you. I'm glad you like my book. We’re the same age.


Do you really think I’m cute? I’m glad you think so.

Signed

Bradford Elderidge

***

5 months later


11-26-06


Brad,

I’ve enjoyed writing you these past five months. We're settling in for Thanksgiving. We're having cranberry relish and stuffing, I know you enjoy that. I'll be thinking of you.

Will you miss me, I hope?

Your fan,

Miranda
_ _ _

11-26-06


Miranda,

I just played with my food. I'm sad, you being far away.

Your friend,

Brad

***

4 months later


03-02-07


Brad,

My tutors are teaching me quantum physics. It's so boring. I'm doing well in French, but not in other languages. Next they will tutor me in Canadian. Ha Ha!

When will your next book be available?

Yours,

Miranda
_ _ _

03-03-07


Miranda,

I check my e-mail over and over cause it's hard waiting for your messages.

I will be finished with my next book soon and will send you a copy. Thank you for your portrait photo. I framed and hung it above my bed. I say goodnight to you every night before I sleep.

Forever your friend,

Brad

***

14 months later


06-02-08

Brad

You are dear to me. I can't believe your turning fourteen. Send me pictures of your birthday. There is a package on its way. I hope you like my gift.

There is so much I've never done. I really don't have much freedom as you know. Being the only heir is lonely. You're the only one I think who understands.

My father is still sick.

Yours Truly

Miranda
_ _ _

06-02-08

Miranda,

I'm setting an empty chair at the table for you. Thank you for writing me faithfully for the last two years.

My third book is being released and I now have enough money to come visit you this summer. I only wished your mom wasn't against you seeing me. I just sit and think about you.

Brad

***

15 months later


10-07-09

Brad,

My father is in intensive care. He's been there for days. No one is telling me how he's doing, but I know he is not well. My country is so accustomed to having a king.

How does it feel to be a freshman? Do you like your high school? Send me pictures; I see your life through them. You are always in my thoughts.

Miranda
_ _ _

10-07-09

Miranda,

Please ask your mom again if I can come see you. I want to be with you.

My freshman prom is being planned. I won't go.

Tell me more about your father’s health.

Love,

Brad

***

4 months later


02-08-10

Brad,

The funeral is today. The minister of protocol has refused to allow you to attend. I'm so sorry. I pleaded to no avail. I hope you are not offended.

Miranda
_ _ _

02-08-10

Miranda,

This is so hard not being there. I will watch the funeral on television in hopes I'll catch a glimpse of you. I did not know your father, but I grieve for you.

Brad

***

15 months later


05-17-11

Brad,

Your daily messages give me hope.

There is an official function next week and it is expected of me to escort the Duke’s son about our city and there will be a dinner later. I am expected to do this so please don't think anything of it.

Warm wishes to you,

Miranda
_ _ _

05-17-11

Miranda,

I'm scared of losing you.

I am jealous. Will you let him kiss you?

Waiting,

Brad
_ _ _

05-18-11

Sweetheart,

I only have room in my heart for one.

Miranda

***

13 months later


06-02-12

Brad,

My mom is pressuring me to wed the Duke's son. I do not love him.

Ever yours,

Miranda
_ _ _

06-04-12

Miranda

I've talked my publisher into letting me do a book tour in your country starting a few miles from the palace. I leave tomorrow. There's nothing more important to me than seeing you.

Your love (I hope),

Brad
_ _ _

06-04-12

My sweet man,

Please do not come. The palace guard protects the royal family and I can't guarantee your safety.

Brad, I love you too, but do not come.

Miranda
_ _ _

06-05-12

Brad,

Write me back. Please!

Miranda
_ _ _

06-05-12

Miranda,

I will be at the Newkirk Street bookstore on June the 7th from noon to 3 pm. I will then come to the palace and if they will not let me in, I will sit outside the palace walls and there I'll be.

My love,

Brad
_ _ _

06-05-12

Dear Brad,

It is my choice to betroth myself to him. Do not make this perilous journey. I still care for you, but these things are out of our hands.

Miranda
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 11:56 am)

Miranda,

I'm standing inside the Newkirk bookstore. I'm about to begin my signing. I'm staying at the Royal Arms Sentry Hotel (it's a small flat). If something happens, take my things. There is a letter in my briefcase. It's for you.

My Love,

Brad
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)

Miranda,

This maybe my last message. I'm coming.

Brad
_ _ _

06-07-12 (Time 2:59 pm)

You do not need to come to me. Just turn around. I'm standing behind you.


The End
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Post October 30, 2016, 11:58:30 PM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

The challenge was to write a "ghost" story in the spirit of the weird & unusual or spooky. The stories did not have to contain an actual ghost, but had to be written as if it was being told around a campfire on a dark, fall evening.
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Post October 30, 2016, 11:59:18 PM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

Catwalk to the Fire

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



Girls, come over here by the fire. I have a story to tell.

Comfy? Good.

Now, this could have happened anywhere, but it didn't. It was only about twenty miles from here. That chilly, dark October night was just like this one. No moon. The wind whispered through the trees, just like it's doing right now.

You girls hear those leaves rustling over there?

Better pay attention.

There was this girl named Sally. Sally wanted more than anything to be pretty.

Now, Sally wasn't ugly, but she wasn't good looking, either. She was just plain, normal in every respect, except Sally desperately wanted to be pretty. Well, you know how it is with girls, some of the mean ones figured out where she was vulnerable and never let her forget how plain they thought she was.

They laughed at her.

Sally was outside one night in her backyard and lit a campfire. She was hoping the couple of acquaintances she did have would come over, but they couldn't. So, she sat, watching the flames flicker and wishing she could be more than she was. The wind picked up a little, and she could feel the chill getting to her.

Then she heard a voice.

"Hello," it said, but in one of the best voices Sally had ever heard. Clear. Melodious. Like something you'd hear on tv or radio.

The wind died and Sally looked. At the edge of the trees was a gorgeous, dark-haired woman wearing an outfit like the ones Sally saw in those fashion magazines, complete with a stylish, faux-fur wrap.

The woman said, "I was out for a walk and saw you there. May I warm myself by your fire?"

Sally was so struck by the woman's voice and clothes that she couldn't answer, so she just nodded.

The woman came over to the fire, but she didn't just walk. She glided, swinging her hips like those runway models do. Sally saw the woman's face as she came close. She had alabaster features, perfect skin, and full, red lips.

"May I sit?" the woman asked.

Sally nodded again. The woman perched herself on a chair by the crackling fire and crossed her legs.

Sally asked, "Are those suede boots?"

The woman smiled. "They're from Jeffrey's new collection. He let me keep the pair I wore in his New York show. He's such a doll. I'm Lauren. I just moved in a little ways away."

"I'm Sally."

The two shook hands.

"Oh!" Sally said. "Your hands are cold like ice."

Lauren smiled a winning smile. "That's why I needed to sit by your fire. Fashion is fabulous, but it's not always warm."

Sally asked, "You're a fashion model?"

"And designer, yes," Lauren replied.

Sally looked around. "Why would you want to be here?"

Lauren explained, "My designs haven't hit it big. A pattern cutter friend of mine said if I ever wanted to go to a quiet place where nothing happened to work on them, this was it."

Sally laughed. "You got that right."

Well, the two talked until the fire burned low. Sally was fascinated about her guest, and Lauren seemed very interested in Sally and her quest to look pretty.

Finally, Lauren said, "Well, I must be on my way back now."

Sally asked, "Will I see you again?"

Lauren replied, "Light another fire tomorrow night, and we'll see."

Then she glided back through the rustling leaves. Once she reached the woods, she disappeared into the dark in a blink of an eye.

The next night, Sally lit another fire and Lauren appeared again, this time in a shimmering black dress with a green-feathered neck corset and belt. Once again, the wind stopped just as she arrived. Lauren brought a makeup kit and showed Sally how to do up her face.

The following night, Lauren showed Sally some of her designs and how Sally could mix and match the clothes she already owned for more impact.

To say that these two were hitting it off would be an understatement. Sally couldn't wait for nightfall each night, and with every fire, Lauren magically appeared, dressed even lovelier than the last time. Sally benefited from their exchanges, and with her improving looks, she started getting friendly talk from those mean girls.

Well, one very cold night, they were talking near a big bonfire when Sally noticed that the sash Lauren was wearing still had a tag on it. A tag from...

Something inside Sally snapped.

"Walmart!" Sally grabbed the sash. "This is from Walmart. You said all the clothes you have were from big-name designers."

Lauren replied, "No, I didn't say that. I know a lot of designers, and they gave me clothes from their shows, but you still have to accessorize, you silly girl."

"No!" Sally saw red. "You're just like those other girls, making fun of me! I bet those other clothes were fake, too!"

In her mind, all Sally could hear were those mean girls, calling her plain and ugly, over and over. "They put you up to this! Are they in the shadows, watching us? Laughing at me again?"

Lauren said, "What? No!"

Sally tried to throw the sash into the fire but Lauren grabbed her.

They struggled.

Lauren fell backwards into the bonfire.

Her high-fashion getup burned hot.

She screamed and screamed, but couldn't get out of the fire.

Sally just watched, smiling.


When there was nothing left of Lauren, Sally buried the bones.

It wasn't enough.

The next night, Sally invited one of those mean girls over, and burned her the same way. The following night, and every night thereafter, Sally went out looking for more of those girls, determined that mean girls wouldn't pick on anyone again.

So, you remember that rustling out in the woods before?

You might think that's the ghost of Lauren, warning us, but it's not.

That's Sally.

She's been listening to you, deciding if you're mean or not.

Be careful by that fire, girls.

Good night.


The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:00:13 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

A Brotherly Bond

By:
Justin Zimmerman



Urban legends always have some truth to them. This one is no different. Two men weaved their way through the forest in an attempt to end one.

The men stopped and surveyed their surroundings. Flashlights revealed decaying wood, pieces of glass, broken bricks, and a number of beer cans around their proximity. The amount of building material, a rusted pick-up truck, a standing wall, and an empty square opening hinted at the past residential nature of the plot.

“Is this it, Bill?” Trevor asked.

Bill paused. He inhaled the crisp midnight air and cleared his throat. He glanced at Bill and nodded.

“This is it. This is the old Webber house.” Bill said

“I can feel the evil surrounding this place.” Trevor said. “It’s all around us.”

Bill walked over to Trevor’s side.

“Nordonia Heights gets all sorts of paranormal weirdoes running all over the forest.” Bill said. “They disrupt our personal lives to further their ‘careers.’ But you were the first one who seemed concerned about the town’s well-being.”

Trevor smiled and patted Bill on the shoulder.

“We need to construct a fire to banish this abomination and free your town of its curse.” Trevor said.

The two men gathered nearby studs, old floor boards, and fallen tree branches. The two managed to build a massive teepee of wood.

Bill turned to Trevor.

“Have you heard the legend, Trevor?” Bill asked.

Trevor shook his head.

###

To the residents of Nordonia Heights, Theo, Elaine, and William, the couple’s son, seemed like a normal family. Except the Webber’s harbored a dark secret; William had a twin brother. A creature created from an ancient pact.

One day, the windows of the Webber house began to rattle as if a train was passing by. There was no train in sight. The couple stopped and stared at each other.

A loud crash came from the second floor. The couple jumped. Something hit the floor hard.

“Did you feed it, Elaine?” Theo asked.

“Did I feed him, Theo? Yes, I feed him last night.” Elaine responded.

Elaine walked towards the stairs. A growl echoed through the house. An experienced tracker would tell the family to make noise to scare away the bear.

The house started shaking. Pictures fell off the walls, glass shattered, studs creaked, and the ceiling cracked.

“Theo, where is the doll?” Elaine shouted.

Theo shrugged.

“I haven’t seen the damn doll.” Theo replied.

Theo and Elaine made their way up the stairs. They balanced themselves against the wall to the closed door at the end of the hallway.

Elaine looked at Theo.

“Do something!” Elaine pleaded.

Theo looked around and noticed a broken table. He picked up two broken legs. Theo took three more steps towards the door. Theo jerked the door handle, opening the door. He created a cross shape with the two broken pieces.

“I command you to stop this tantrum at once!” Theo shouted.

A thick mass that resembled a python with no head coiled around Theo’s calf. Theo clubbed the mass. The strike had no effect. The mass tugged with considerable force, knocking Theo off his feet. Theo clawed at the floor but couldn't move. The mass pulled Theo into the room but he caught the door frame. Theo kicked at the mass with his free foot.

“Help me, Elaine!” Theo shouted.

The shaking knocked Elaine off her feet. She crawled over to Theo. Elaine grabbed Theo’s wrist and pulled. Theo didn’t budge. He was losing grip on the door frame.

Elaine looked into Theo’s eyes and shook her head.

“I’m so sorry, Theo.” Elaine shouted.

Elaine reached out and grabbed the door handle and slammed the door shut. There was a loud snap from Theo’s fingers.

Theo’s screams only lasted a few moments. The shaking subsided.

Elaine wanted to cry. Instead, she dusted herself off and stood up.

“Willie, sweetie, are you OK?” Elaine shouted.

The basement door opened and little shoes tapped all the way up the stairs.

Willie rushed to Elaine, clutching a cloth doll. Elaine grabbed the cloth doll from Willie’s arms and slapped his cheek

“This is your brother’s doll. Do you understand that, Willie?” Elaine said.

“Brother gave it to me, Mommy.” Willie replied.

Elaine gave the cloth doll back to Willie.

“We need to leave now, Sweetie. Do you want to go for a truck ride?” Elaine asked.

Willie nodded.

Elaine walked to the stairs and turned back to locate Willie. “Follow mommy, swe…”

The door at the end of the hallway was open.

Elaine couldn’t hold back her tears any longer. She fell to her knees and sobbed. “Willie…”

A thick mass slithered out from the doorway. Elaine looked up and shot to her feet. The mass wrapped around Elaine’s waist and pulled her back towards the end of the hallway. Elaine screamed until her head hit the door frame.

###

“Dear God, that’s terrible.” Trevor said, covering his mouth with his hand.

Bill walked a few feet away from Trevor.

“Where did I put it?” Bill said himself.

Bill looked around and kicked a piece of wood.

“Found it!” Bill shouted.

Bill crouched down and picked up a cloth doll. He dusted the doll off.

Trevor looked at Bill and noticed the doll.

“Good find!” Trevor said. “That’s the doll the family used as a charm to keep the creature under control. Quickly, we need to burn it to banish the creature and avenge the three souls lost that day.”

“Two souls.” Bill corrected.

A growl broke the night’s silence. Trees crashed to the ground off in the distance.

Trevor gasped.

“Why help me?” Trevor asked.

“You might not understand this, Trevor, but brothers stick together. And I was building a signal fire, I’m not sure what you were building.” Bill replied.

Bill whispered to the doll. The pile of wood ignited into flames.

Trevor ran. He didn’t make it far.

Don’t come looking for us!


The End
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Post October 31, 2016, 12:01:52 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

Just be Nice Sometimes

By:
George T. Philibin



In hills and mountains of Western Pennsylvania, a bigfoot family nestles themselves around a small campfire that the father made. The secluded area and vast forests, provide a secure site in which the humans will not venture into tonight. As the full moon looks down and smiles on the forest, the father bigfoot, Gormant, speaks.

“I was young at the time. Yes, younger than you my son-- when standing before me was a human! She didn’t have any odor about her and I didn’t smell her as she approached. You’ll get to know the odor of Right Guard and other scents they use----that’s one of the reason they never see us first. Remember, train you nose above all else.

“I looked at her and she looked at me. We just stared. Then, and I’ll never forget the sweet voice she had and the friendly manner in which she asked the question: ‘Are you a Bigfoot?’

“Her innocence shocked me. This young human who I could easily crush compelled me to say:’What do you thing I am? Some retarded black bear? Of course I’m a bigfoot!’

‘Oh,’ she said. Then she pulled out one of those cameras and, believe me I’ll never forget this one, she said, ‘I just have to take you picture! Judy and Kyra will never believe me when I tell them I saw a bigfoot and my dad and brothers will just laugh at me and the teacher at school will call me silly and things like that, but you’re real. Oh, my name is Candice. You are, aren’t you. If you’re Billy Thomas dressed up like a bigfoot—I’m going to kill you! You are real aren’t you? I just live over there—you can see my house if you look. I was just out looking for blackberries when I seen you just standing there and....”

‘Okay, Okay,’ I said. ‘Give me a break, will you. You know I’m not supposed to talk to humans or ever let them see me. My father will kill me if he knew that I talked to a human!’

‘Well what do you think my dad would do? Huh? Give me a break, will you. He would send me to one of those head doctors and make me take pills and talk to me about why you aren’t real. You think I want to do that? If you do then you are not a nice creature. No you are not!’ Candice said.

“I didn’t know what a head doctor was but I remember my grandfather telling me about medicine men that the Indians used to have and conclude that many she was right about some things,” Gomant said at he campfire.

‘Please Oh please let me take a picture of you—I’ll be you friend for life. I’ll give you things----food and stuff like that. Oh, please! Pretty, pretty please!” Candice said.

“What could I do? I took a liking to her---- don’t know why because most human smell so yucky----but in her case I said, ‘Okay’ What he hell--- they would think that I was somebody in a costume anyway. You know, these humans and their Halloween and stuff.”

“So I got up, placed my right paw behind my head, titled my head up, leaned back against a tree and smiled,”

‘No, no, no, not like that! Will you growl and show your fangs—look mean and wild,’ Candice said.

‘I’m not mean and I’m not really wild! I’m a nice creature. All us bigfoots are nice and even civilized by your standards,’ I said.

‘I can see that, but please, please look mean for me, please,’ Chandice said.

“I said Okay and put on a mean face, growled a little and raised up my paws and tried to look like some werewolf.”

‘Oh, that’s wonderful,’ she said.

“She must have took ten picture. Then she said, ‘Thank you, Oh thank you so much! I’ll never forget what you did. I think we can become good friends and things like that. I’ll never tell them were I found you—I’ll say my uncle Billy shot these picture out West, you know. He used to hunt there all the time. I’m going to leave you things down by the big rock at the creek, you know the one, I’m sure you do. Just look there the last Friday of the month and I’ll have Goodies for you and thanks again and again,’ this Candice said”

“Dad, that’s one very scary story—coming face to face with a human. They have guns you know!” Possium said, Gomant eldest son.

“The humans have passed laws saying that they are not allowed to hunt us, but be careful anyway,” Gomant said.

“Did she every leave you anything by that rock?” Toadfrog said, Goment’s daughter.

“Oh, yea all the time now. In fact I started to leave her things like Indian arrowheads, tomahawk heads and colorful rock and sometime flowers in the summer and all kinds of things that I thought a human would like,” Gomant said..

“What did she leave you?” Toadfrog asked.

“Like those potato chips Toadforg? How about those Doritos, Possium? Like them? And that pizza we get once a month now, like it? It comes from Dominos they say. And how about that nice-warm blanket Honey. And those candy bars and those....”


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Post October 31, 2016, 12:03:02 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

That Sensation Again

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Campgrounds always offer a characteristic blend of action and pleasant moments. Featuring lots of free time for having fun, a person can practice canoeing or sailing, for example, or just rest, play sports, swim and sunbathe –for most of the day. However, it is when the night comes, while the campfire is blazing and the branches in the flames make a crisp snapping sound, that the real enjoyment begins for many. People get together near their tents to make small talk and tell stories- some horrific tales that fill the darkness in those moments.

On one such night, five figures slowly approached the reddish fire on the ground and sat around it. There was a strange silence at the beginning, and then I started speaking. My voice was low and feeble at first, before I became more comfortable with the place and the time. “I can tell you something incredible tonight, if you’d like to hear my scary story.”

“Yes, we have nothing else to do, and we are tired of wandering around, at least I am…” the oldest one in the company said, putting his right hand on his receding hairline.

The other three nodded in agreement. So, I took it as an invitation to go on.

“This is a story about a very strange experience I underwent a few days ago, and I still feel shaky because of it.”

“What happened?” the long-haired female of the group, tall and very slender, asked me immediately.

“I lay on a stone altar, situated above the ground. There was a lamp, some candles, walls around me and a strange wind coming from outside. At least, that is what I remember. Then I heard the words of a young man quoting from a blasphemous tome written in French that outlined a number of ghastly ceremonies to call down the souls of the deceased. You know, I never believed in such things, and I never would, of course, if only…” I paused for a while before continuing. “But I was there, and I couldn’t escape. Then the words ceased and I opened my eyes. That was when I felt something unbelievable…”

“What did you feel?” it was a fat graying fellow who asked me.

“I once again felt a sensation I never thought I would ever experience again... There was an impression of a strange warmth in my body, seeing the world through my pupils, touching the objects around me, walking on my feet and standing tall.”

And breathing…?” one of the few ones present dared to ask me.

“No, actually you can’t breathe anymore when you are brought back like a zombie.” I made that point very clear. “I thought I had become undead, actually, at that moment…”

“I see…” said the woman.

“But I didn’t have the time to savor it for as long as I would have liked…Probably that young sorcerer wasn’t experienced enough in the dark arts. So the effect was temporary,” I regretfully admitted looking down. “Even the name of the magical activity he was attempting to put into action, and its true origin, creates problems because ‘Voodoo’ is an Anglicized name. It is also called voudon, voodun, vudoun, or voodoux. From what I’ve been told, that slave religion was adapted to the new conditions among people who were brought here long ago to the Caribbean, possibly from the West Africa coast, by European slavers. At times, someone tries to revive such practices…I wish that the man who tried the ritual had been more capable so as to keep me in the world of the living beings again for a while longer…”

“You must not feel sorry for yourself, my dear.” It was the female who spoke. “You went through something none of us have undergone and perhaps never will. Being alive again! At least, you were allowed to go back to earth and walk over the ground once more, escaping - though for a short time - our pale existence as dead men and women…”

And children!” a small hairy figure at the right corner cried out.

“Yes, and children, too,” she conceded.

“Anyway, the sensation I felt was very pleasant…although I wasn’t entirely capable of controlling my will and thinking as clearly as I used to do before dying. It was like I was young and vigorous again. You know what I mean, don’t you?”

“We all know about that...” the slender female figure nodded in a dejected tone, sadly.

“We all know, indeed…” another young fellow added, two empty spaces where his eyes were once positioned.

There was the sudden noise of steps on the sand, near the foreshore.

“We need to get out of here. The living humans who own these tents are coming back to this part of the campground. It is time for us to go back into the darkness…” the soul of the graying man warned.

"We should go, for sure...” the others agreed. And so all of us stood up and moved away from the campfire, going back to the dark trees that stood around like silent shapes that only the night winds - that rose from time to time - seemed to be capable of shaking, giving those a sort of unearthly personality.

As I followed them, leaving the fire of the living beings behind me, I noticed how the flames highlighted the colors of the objects in the camp which reminded me of the vividness of the world of humans who still had their whole life ahead of them.

I took the chance to give a quick look back at the tourists who were coming out of the ocean, laughing after their midnight swim, and heading back for their tents on the beach. From the expressions I saw on their faces, I was sure they, too, were readying to meet-up near the campfire soon and tell scary tales before going to bed after they dried off.


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Post October 31, 2016, 12:03:57 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

The Ghost of Camp Halloween Adventure

By:
Jim Harrington



“There are thirteen of you tonight. Tomorrow, when you wake up, one will be gone.” I paused and panned the open-eyed faces of the boys sitting around the campfire cross-legged, Indian style. “Thanks to Camp Halloween Adventure’s resident ghost.”

“Sure,” the chubbiest one said. “Like there’s such a thing as ghosts.” He snorted in disdain.

“It’s true,” another one said. “My friend told me about it. He was here last year.”

“So I guess you didn’t believe him. . .since you’re here,” chubby said.

I know I’m not supposed to use words like chubby, but if I didn’t one would assume I like kids. I don’t. I like their parents’ money.

“It’s my mother who doesn’t believe in ghosts,” the boy said, wiping sweaty palms on his jeans.

“Well,” I interjected. “We’ll all find out in the morning—won’t we?” They looked at each other, most unsure what to think. “It’s too bad, too, since tomorrow is the day you get to go rafting and zip lining, and maybe rock-wall climbing, if you’re not too tired.”

“But it’ll be cold.” Guess who. “And we’re not strong enough or old enough to go rafting.” Chubby looked at the others, all like him. “We’re only ten.” He paused again to survey his fellow campers’ faces. “And we could drown,” he said, looking at me.

The others nodded and made various sounds of agreement.

I held up my hand, as if taking an oath. “We’ve been running this camp for years.” I smiled reassuringly. At least, it was meant to be reassuring. “We know what we’re doing.” The boys glanced at each other, their necks on ball bearing swivels.

“Anyway, you have to worry about our ghost first. He’s in one of you right now.” They gasped in unison. “That’s right. He always inhabits one camper’s body.” I looked at Chubby. “Usually the one who complains the most.”

Chubby peered at me across the campfire, his eyes two slits, the rising heat augmenting their meaning. “You’re full of sh—.”

“Ah, ah.” I wagged a finger. “Remember, only nice words at Camp Halloween Adventure. You read the rules with your parents like instructed, didn’t you?

Chubby closed his mouth.

“Anyway, our ghost reads the inhabited camper’s mind to find out which one of the others he likes the least.” I scanned the group, pausing to look each one in the eyes. “That’s the one who turns up missing in the morning.”

Chubby said, “You’re so full of it.” He pushed himself off the ground and walked away.

“I guess we’ll just have to wait until morning to find out.” I stood. “Of course, the ghost can only take one of you away if you’re all asleep.”

The remaining campers huddled together, whispering to each other, while I went to get rid of Chubby. Little did he know he’d picked himself to be sent home early. No harm would come to him. He’d simply stop being a pain in my ass.


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Post October 31, 2016, 12:05:07 AM

The Campfire Ghost Stories II Challenge

- Winner -


Saba's Baby

By:
Kate Stuart



"Have you ever?" I asked loudly over the crackle of the campfire and the chatter of my extended family.

"Woot! Woot!" my cousin Marian shouted. "Talbart's going to tell a story."

People quieted and a few clapped in excitement.

"Thank you," I acknowledged the tribute. "Have you ever heard the story of Saba's baby?"

There were negative murmurs and shaking of heads and I smiled triumphantly. Across the fire, my brother Colton frowned. His miscalculated bet would cost him.

"We all know of Saba, the first Empress of the Old Empire, but did you know that she was not the Emperor Havika's first wife?"

There were disbelieving mumblings. The love between Havika and Saba was legendary. How could she not have been his first, his only, wife?

"No, it's true," I continued. "In the folly of youth, Havika married the shrewish Mica. She was cold and vain and thought herself irreplaceable, but she would not have his children."

I accompanied my brother in his travels across the galaxy. He prospected investments that would grow our family's already considerable fortune and influence; I collected fables and legends; stories and myths. This made me a big hit at family gatherings such as this one where I could take my flair for storytelling and entertain our people. On our home planet Tuvane, in the Southern Hemisphere, the weather was turning cold and the leaves were falling. We, all of us from my grandmother Talbart—for whom I was named—through the most far flung second cousins, gathered at the family estate for a week to celebrate our success and make sacrifices and offer pledges of fidelity to our Goddess who had blessed us.

_When Havika saw Saba taking a bath that fateful night on the rooftop, he divorced Mica. Mica, clever and scheming sent up a great cry, pleading that she would be outcast and homeless, and the soft-hearted Havika gave her a wing of the palace to live in.

"In due time, of course, Saba became pregnant. Mica was a fury in her jealous rage; and, when the baby was born, Mica conspired to poison the child, slowly, repeatedly, until the child was dead."

There were several gasps as I made this pronouncement. Though in other pockets of the galaxy this story and even the history were well-preserved, so much was lost across the millennia and the light-years. We were simply too far away.

"No one knew about the poison. Mica lived a retired life, seldom leaving her quarters. No one even suspected."

"You mean no one caught her?" my five-cade-old nephew asked.

"No." I shook my head. "No one caught her.

"But," I said with a dramatic pause, "Saba suspected.

"The grieving Empress said nothing and told no one. When it came time to bury the child, the mother switched the body for a bag of corn meal. She took her dead child's body to the catacombs beneath Mica's wing of the palace, and she laid her child to rest in a type of makeshift crypt.

"She didn't tell anyone about this either. Several months passed uneventfully. But rumors began to spread that Mica wasn't sleeping; that Mica wasn't well.

"Doing her queenly duty, Saba went to visit Mica.

"'Saba!' Mica cried. 'Lift the curse! I beg of you! Anything! I will do anything!'

"'Why, whatever do you mean, Lady Mica?' the Empress asked slyly.

"'The child! Your dead child weeps! He cries every night. He will not let me sleep!'

"'And why do you think that is, my lady,' Saba asked.

"But Mica's heart hardened and she would not confess, 'Because you hate me and you have cursed me.'

"This saddened Saba for she knew, in part, that it was true. Even if Mica had caused the death of her child, she in return had cursed the wretched woman. Shortly after her visit, Empress Saba went back down to the catacombs and she took the body of her precious baby boy away. Secretly, she gave him a proper burial.

"But the weeping did not cease, and Mica grew wilder and madder and one night, at the new moon, she threw herself from a balcony to her death.

"To this day, even in the decimated ruins in which the palace presently exists, a soul can hear the baby cry. Except at the new moon. When the new moon rises, the baby laughs."


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Post December 03, 2016, 11:57:19 AM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

The challenge was to write a story with a happy ending on a present-day, alternate reality Earth.
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Post December 03, 2016, 11:58:14 AM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

On a swing and a prayer

By:
Sage Heartwood



It was a sunny day and the tall gleaming tower that was the launch vehicle was a sight to behold. It bore the symbols of the united space colonization efforts. The clusters of stars reaching out to each other with a minute earth in the center spreading boldly colored flag lines toward the various parts of the stylized sky. It was a sight to behold and I hoped fervently that it would be as beautiful as the many launches I had seen on screens flat, holographic, and three dimensional. Taking my husband’s hand I held it tightly as we began to feel the shaking of the craft beneath our feet.
Over the comms I could hear the sounds of a dozen accents punctuated by different languages. It was strange to think that we had come to this point. At what had seemed the end of the space race with the United States landing on the moon everything had been going into a sort of standby mode. The Soviet Union had been defeated in the end and other foci were beginning to gaining prominence in the cold war. The sudden death of the soviet premier however had rapidly precipitated a renewed interest in the field.
It was Melody that noted it first. I could see her head cocked slightly to the side in front of me, listening. “Do you all hear that?” She asked puzzled. “You mean the buzzing that…” Raymond began but was cut off as the MagLev engaged and we began to catapult to the sky. It was much harder to hear at this point with so we switched to our built-in headsets. “Can you hear me now?” A voice said. The nametag identifier read ‘Amanda Hillman’. A much more familiar voice replied: “Yes we can hear you. Still trying to work out what the buzzing noise is. Any thoughts?” These words were from Yanovich who I admired for his calm demeanor and mean game of chess. “I’ve never heard it before” I chimed in. “It has me a bit worried”. As if fate had a sense of humor it was just about that moment that things went sideways - along with our ship.
There was a violent lurching of the craft and had we not been belted in so tightly the group would likely have been thrown against the side of the wall. A quick glance out the window showed that we were well off our projected course. Shouts of various orders and barks from ground station filled all channels and conversation was temporarily cut off entirely in favor of emergency procedures. Listening to the comms chatter between ground and our navigation specialists the nature and extent of the problem soon became clear.
Due to a stress failure in one of the struts holding us to the track we had gone into a freewheeling and uncontrolled spin around the remaining track. Spinning around on the tracks before exiting was a normal procedure lending additional stability when the craft vaulted beyond them into the sky. This spin however, was far too forceful and applied in the wrong direction. Ultimately what it meant was that we were hurtling completely in the wrong direction off into space. The near frantic calculations by Johnson, one of our astrophysicists, showed that we didn’t have the fuel to change course sufficiently to get back to anywhere if we continued on this path for long.
I tried to focus my thoughts and force back the panic. Ideas of slowly asphyxiating alongside my comrades as we continued hopelessly in the deepness of space kept trying to creep in. It was all the worse because in this situation I seemed all but useless. My training was in geology, metals, and medicine. Excellent skills for building colonial infrastructure and health but of no use to reorient a spacecraft.
In a fit of nihilism I started punching up current data on local geology in our part of the solar system. I wanted to see what the first thing that we might possibly hit would be. My husband looked over gripping my shoulder. “Dear, what is it that you are looking for?”. Thinking outside my panicked state for a moment I was almost ashamed. “I was looking for how this might end.” I replied phrasing my thoughts carefully. “So you are looking at some way to gravitationally change our trajectory”? The idea struck me rather hard and left me wondering why I hadn’t been calculating it sooner. I immediately transferred what I had been doing onto one of the main screens and pinged the physicist with the simple query. ‘Turn on an asteroid?’ Even before I got a reply I had found that while there were no asteroids there was a large telecom satellite that we would fly within half a kilometer of.
Pinging this around one of the energy experts pointed out that we did have a solar catchment system. It was supposed to deploy for additional power during the trip but if we dropped it early enough we might be able to swing along the thick and heavy cable pulling a hard turn on the satellites’ inertia. It would destroy the satellite and probably half our ship but we would have a chance to re-enter orbit with directional thrusters.
They are still calling it the miracle of the red dust the way we came hurtling around changing our positioning as fast as the computer was able on the position thrusters. Atmospheric braking into the arctic tundra. Hitting a lucky spot on the snow that buried the craft rather than shattering it wholesale. In the end there was only one fatality out of the 56 people who were on board. I couldn’t walk having broken a leg during the turbulent reentry but those that were in better shape helped those that were not and we wandered out into sunrise on an arctic spring.


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Post December 03, 2016, 11:59:13 AM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

Make Room For the Holy Spirit

By:
Phyllis Murphy



"I hurt," the child said. "That's all I know".

"I know you do. I want to take the pain and sorrow from you. But you have to let me. You have the will to choose." He spoke to this little child as his Father with light pouring into his soul.

The child grasped himself with his hands around his shoulders and continued in pain. There was no hope for this soul for the child gave himself no hope, when reaching towards ‘His love’ would have saved him.

***

Alternate realities are of our own makings. Each decision changes the course of our history and the lives of those around us. The time we live in has been changed by my single decision and the darkness will not prevail at this time - - another time, but not today.

The darkness fills the Earth and few are aware. The people who live in this world know only the lies they tell themselves. They would not hear the truth, for they are warmed, snuggled in their fears.

That's what evil wants. He wants us so self-reliant in human concerns that the fears and uncertainties overwhelm us, giving food for demons to feast.

Demon fantasy and infiltration is the ultimate mind control as it has been from time beginning. And now the beast is rising, that has been foretold in visual stories and songs, and the world’s surrender to it is inevitable, making the Earth a slave planet.

Can you not see the signs?

"I can see," one voice said from the darkness, "but my reality is my fantasy. I do not desire to let go, for I see a thousand dreams stretched out before my inward eyes and I am perpetually entertained".

"My son, the world is imploding around you and your time is short. I need your prayers to sustain you in the short time that is left. I need your complete surrender to help you overcome your enemies within and for you to enter into my eternal Life."

He spoke clearly to him and yet, the human's thoughts were of the next woman he would lay and of the battles he would overcome, but only in his mind.

So many voices in the dark, yet very few are listening. Their much speaking drowns out the Spirit's still small voice, leaving the masses to their own peril.

***

The prophet arose from his human shell and said to His Master, "I am like they are, controlled by demons, which use my own authority to control me. I still know you. You have provided for me all this time. My heart has never left you, but I have been hesitant to surrender my whole life to You. I do not know what you will ask of me...and it scares me! And yet, leaving myself to my own devices scares me more - I do not want to be left behind.

What shall I do?"

There was silence. There was always silence when the prophet asked that question.

Almost every human in the entertainment media are micro chipped, mind-controlled slaves. All of the sports teams were made up of them as well as the news organizations. Corporate heads are programmable slaves, controlled by the new world order, who are the actual world controllers. The government of mankind - - The Council, (human/demon hybrids) are hid away and yet they reap the world's wealth, control the world's weather through human technology given to man by demons, and like a chess game, move the world's military and power as they will.

The Voice spoke again, "Will you surrender yourself to me?

"Who are you speaking to - are you talking to me?"

He spoke once more. "You know me. You know me well. You know my love enough to answer me now."

"Yes, I will surrender myself to your purpose, but I am frightened at my unfaithfulness. I am so fallible, but yes, I give myself to you.

But the world cannot be sustained without your Spirit and neither can I. You spoke in your Word that You will pour out your Spirit upon all flesh. I have not seen that nor has it ever happened. We as humankind are suffering a spiritual famine and can only be healed by the presence of your Spirit.

Can you, will you do this now?



After a few moments I heard the sound of thunder. I looked outside and saw a single translucent drop of rain. It was by this, I know His Spirit is coming.


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Post December 03, 2016, 12:00:06 PM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

Happy Ending?

By:
Eddie Sullivan



Marcel was chained to the ceiling with his hands above his head. Eventually this position would become unbearable, but this was likely to be the least of his worries.

The room was unremarkable having only his chains, a door through which he was brought, a speaker in the top south corner, and a small closed hatch along the bottom, middle of the far wall. Other than that everything was grey stone.

The speaker produced a slight feedback. “Hello, my friend. You are well aware of what we need to know. I also know you are very disinclined to tell me. So I believe we will just get right to the extraction technique.”

The small door slid upward exposing a hole in the wall. At first nothing occurred, complete silence increased the anticipation pulsing through Marcel. First there was a high pitched noise, a squeak, or maybe more appropriately a squeal. It was followed by a chorus of similar chatter as others joined the malevolent song from the small corridor. The sound of claws clicking on the floor of the tunnel heralded the approach of his soon to be tormentors.

They bounded out in a flood spilling over each other to be the first to get to him. They showed no remorse for piling over their brethren in their quest to be the first to accost him. Some stopped to engage and battle others, but most remained focused on crossing the room to get to him.

Some reached his bare feet and began to bite him there. The razor sharp teeth broke skin as they gave small test bites. When they drew blood they cleared the blood promptly with sinuous barbed tongues. Others not content to wait their turn to access his feet piled over those stationed there. Curved talons sunk fully into the flesh of his legs to find purchase. They used this leverage to painfully push up and ascend him on a quest to higher ground where they could stake their own claims. They blanketed his torso within moments. Some had begun working their way across his face and head. One of the bolder creatures took up residence right on top of his head and began to dig in his scalp. The only plausible reason for doing this he figured was to reach his nutrient rich brain. Others unable to push the monarch off his perch resigned themselves to working their way further up his arms to nibble on finger tips.

What seemed like an eternity, but was probably only moments in reality, passed as the creatures tore his flesh with tooth and claw. None inflicting anything even close to a fatal wound but each doing its part to tear him apart then lick the wound clean.

He could stand no more. “Baron, the code is 3-8-9-2-4”

“I am glad you came around Marcel. Now that I control the final portal no others will be able to access the parallel dimensions. I will rule multiple worlds. I will be able to bring eldritch things from across all time and space to do my bidding. Things like my little lovelies in there now.”

There was an audible click and the bracket holding Marcel’s manacles popped open dropping him to the ground. Some of the creatures fell with him and others were temporarily under him. They seemed unfazed though and they almost spinelessly extricated themselves from under him. After a momentary startled pause they began swarming him again. With his arms nearly useless from his long hang from his shackles he was unable to properly defend himself.

“I will be going now Marcel. It is a shame I won’t be able to stay and see what these creatures from another dimension do to finish you, but I have things to attend to. I doubt you will survive so I won’t worry greatly about leaving you here in my secret lair.”

Marcel raised his head wearily, “I will stop you Baron.”

“Doubtful. Enjoy your new friends. I believe where they come from people call them kittens. Muhahahahaha!”


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Post December 03, 2016, 12:01:32 PM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

Two Lovely Eyes

By:
Sergio Palumbo



Vsevolod Slivko’s ascent to power was fast. In just under five years he attained the office of President of the North Asian Union of Republics although he was just 40 - and from that moment on his rule had become undisputed. He undoubtedly had some redeeming qualities, like a good memory, a strong personality and a deep knowledge of the law. Beyond that, he possessed those lovely blue eyes that were said to be able to – really - force the citizens to do whatever he wanted and follow his orders. This was what made him truly remarkable, and nobody could ever openly hate him.

Certainly – as always happens under any government - there were those who didn’t agree with his opinions. There were dissidents living in a few Republics who didn’t like his rule. But they kept themselves well hidden and didn’t come into the light under fear of death. This was why Vsevolod Slivko had decided to get rid of that disreputable resistance once and for all, starting a war with those Republics whose population - although only a tiny fraction of them - opposed him in secrecy. He had decided that genocide was his best option and those countries would be become a radioactive wasteland, after which no citizen would ever dare resist him again.

I, too, Inga, being his wife, don’t question Vsevolod Slivko’s bloody decision. Most people would find that strange because I was born 30 years ago in a town just within one of the Republics that my husband will be targeting first by means of his mass destruction weapons. And I know that all of its population will soon be destroyed.

Anyway, with those two lovely blue eyes, how could you doubt him? Why should you question his actions?


This morning I walk towards him, my lovely husband, and all that I have on my mind is appreciation, love, and consent. But there is also a small, secluded part of my mind, where I have hidden my deepest duty: one small part of me is still fighting to keep itself intact, true to my nature. Soon I will need to activate that part of my brain so I can achieve what I have to for a higher purpose.

My thoughts go to what I have been told by a scientist who works for the leader of the opposition party, the most hunted man in the North Asian Union of Republics. He has been in hiding in order to stay away from the enchantment the President can cast via TV channels or over the internet. The scientist was born in my Republic and he had his eyes removed long ago in order to be free from the mutant power the President can use on anyone who looks at him. If they see him they are forced to bow to him, it’s not just adoration...

The words of the scientist are still in my mind, in the most secluded part of it. I remember exactly what he told me to do, to save our people, to stop that destruction that would hit our country. Imagine all that death just to stabilize the power of my husband, the President, once and for all…

After the war is over I would probably be the only woman still alive from my native country, simply because I’m the beautiful, young blonde-haired wife of the President. I would be the only one saved from a region of 10 million people because he wanted to posses me. But not my country, not all the others from my homeland. Is this true love or just a way to show the citizenry that he saves only the few ones he is interested in, while the rest of the population can be killed?

I know that what he wants to do is wrong, that many innocents are going to suffer, but my resolve is not strong enough to deviate from the path I follow, as I can’t prevail over those lovely eyes and the mutant strength they possess.

As I walk on, I must keep reminding myself of the duty I have. I must fight to resist, if only for a moment, the power of those eyes I love. One moment will be time enough, as a moment is all I’ll get once I have activated the button of the little device I was given by that rebel scientist. This will briefly disrupt my vision so I can get hold of my true self again and do what must be done. There won’t be much time but once I am free from the power of those eyes, I can activate a secondary button and everything will end.

The secondary device I was given is the reason why the previous one must disrupt my vision, otherwise I couldn’t do it. The following explosion will destroy the entire room, killing the President and his most trusted men, putting an end to his rule over the Republics. I will have just 10 seconds after the second button is touched before everything is over.

Now that I have accomplished my duty I switch off the first device because I want to see him clearly again. I want to look at those lovely eyes and once again fall in love with the President, becoming prey to his mutant power once more.

There is not enough time to warn him about the impending explosion and save his life, the words that are quickly exiting my mouth will not reach him on timeIsn’t he as beautiful and irresistible as everyone says? This is the image I want to have in my eyes as I am dying. I find that I have lost myself in him again, given his great mutant power, though this is the last time I will lose myself this way.

Passing away with the lovely image of your merry beloved man on your mind, to be set there forever, isn’t maybe the best happy ending ever?


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Post December 03, 2016, 12:02:22 PM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

A Race Against time

By:
Jim Harrington



Trayon trudged down 42nd Street, shoulders hunched, eyes toward the ground, like a hunchback, each pace having a purpose. The army had repelled the latest--and hopefully last-- of the terrorists after decades of battles; but his city, New York City, had finally succumbed. Many buildings lay in ruin. Others stood damaged, but still proud and defiant. Electricity was non-existent, and gasoline was scarce. He no longer wore his captain’s uniform. He’d left the cleanup to his men. Instead, he had on tattered jeans, a green flannel shirt, and a faded trench coat. Only his military boots remained from the past six months of his fourth tour of fighting, his a remarkable military pedigree for someone so young. He adjusted the bill of his cap, moving it lower to hide his identity. Being noticed by an old classmate or neighbor might ruin everything.

He weaved a slalom course through barrels and garbage cans burning books, librettos, costumes and anything else combustible. There were no neon lights, no traffic lights, no brightly lit store windows displaying the latest fashions. Actors in costume and musicians, some also in costumes, performed songs from their respective shows, while bystanders watched and tiredly applauded. Cats and lions and princesses sang and danced as if nothing had changed, denying the reality of their situation. Trayon continued his trek, sometimes walking among the performers, refusing to join in when prodded. He needed to get to Gwarry before it was too late.

He turned right onto 7th Avenue and stopped when he saw the looters. He reached inside his coat for the revolver holstered on his left hip. He started to pull out the weapon but stopped. There were too many of them, and Gwarry and his unborn child were more important than a few broken windows and stolen goods.

Trayon continued to the next block and the next until he found an empty street. He increased his pace and focused on his task, hoping he’d make it on time. He turned down an alley, only paying attention to the other end, when he felt the arm around his neck. A second attacker appeared from behind a dumpster, a carving knife in his left hand.

Trayon stomped on the foot of the man holding him. The arm’s grip loosened and Trayon flipped his assailant into the man with the knife. The two men lay on the ground as Trayon raced to the end of the alley and around the corner without looking back.

“Halt,” a voice said from behind. “Police. You are in a restricted area after curfew.”

Trayon kept going until he heard the explosive gunfire. He lurched to the left. The gas pellet hit his right shoulder, ripping through the flesh and detonating a few feet away. Trayon’s body pirouetted. He fell to one knee and scrambled behind a burnt out car.

“I know you’re wounded. Come out now, and you live.”

Trayon moved his hand along the dark pavement meagerly lit by a half moon. His fingers wrapped around a plastic bottle. He threw it in the direction he’d come from. He heard the cops gun discharge. He raced into the street and delivered a kidney punch that dropped the policeman to his knees. The cop’s gun lay on the ground. Trayon kicked it into the sewer, he didn’t want anyone else finding it, and continued his journey.

At the next intersection, he saw an ambulance stop in the distance at the clinic where Gwarry awaited. He increased his pace to a run, all the time holding his injured shoulder, and covered the remaining six blocks quicker than a normal human should have.

He raced into the building and stopped at the front desk. “I’m Trayon. Where’s Gwarry?”

“I’m afraid it may be too late, Mr. Trayon.”

“Nooo!”

Trayon raced through the double doors into the treatment area. He stopped a nurse, nearly knocking a tray of blood samples from her hands. “I’m Trayon. I’m here to help Gwarry.”

“Room 3A. But. . .”

Trayon entered the room. Gwarry lay on a bed, her face ashen, her breathing barely noticeable. A female doctor looked up as he entered.

“Hurry,” she said. “We don’t have much time.”

Trayon lay on a second bed, the life saving blood transfusion moving directly from his arm to Gwarry’s. Trayon watched his wife’s face and prayed for a miracle. Doctors and nurses circled Gwarry blocking Trayon’s view of what was happening. He was tired and began to fall asleep when he heard the baby’s cry.

For the first time in days, Trayon allowed his body to relax, the baby’s sounds a lullaby to his spent psyche.

“Your wife is doing fine,” the doctor said. “Would you like to hold your son, Mr. Trayon.”

“It’s Trayon. Just Trayon. And, yes, I’d love to hold my son.


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Post December 03, 2016, 12:03:13 PM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

A Soldier's Dream

By:
N.J. Kailhofer



Miss Camille Deslonde curtsied toward me, and from the view, I supposed the luckiest thing on this planet was the fabric lining her dress. I barely remembered to bow back.

Camille was a vision. Her blonde hair fell in loose ringlets down the sides of her perfect face. Her eyes were cerulean pools I could barely look away from. Full lips smiled at me and my heart fluttered. How many yards of fabric it took to make all the ruffles and petticoats in her marvelous pale blue dress I could not guess, but I'd wager it was no small number.

She hooked her arm into mine, and we began the square dance.

The huge bronze chandelier above us lit a wood ballroom lined with uniformed gentlemen and ladies in their finest. Men not dancing smoked Mr. Delonde's finest cigars. They smelled wonderful. It was his gift to the cause for our unit's enlistment party.

I thought his only real gift was his daughter.

"Charles Hardee," Camille was saying, "have you fallen to dreaming? The dance has ended."

The music wasn't playing.

I startled, and unhooked my arm from hers. "My apologies, Miss Deslonde. A minute spent with your inestimable beauty is enough to make any man lose all track of time."

She flushed, but the look in her eyes said it all: Flattered... and interested.


***

"Do you think he dreams?"

Margaret answered, "No."

"Seriously, would this be like, trapped, forever dreaming?"

"Hush, Betty." The elder nurse was in no mood. "Let's just get this done."

Betty checked her tablet. "Can't. Records aren't complete."

Margaret sighed. "This is the Vet's Home. Sometimes things are wrong here, but we still have to do what's best for the soldier."

"There's no birth date or date of injury. It's not legal unless everything is filled in."

Margaret took the pad. "It must be there. Old Charlie was in here the day I started, and that was twenty-two years ago. It's long-past time for this."

"Poor man," Betty observed.

Margaret handed the pad back. "Start looking. It's in there."

An hour later, Betty looked up from her pad. "I think he's been here a long time."

The elder nurse raised an eyebrow. "Hmm?"

"His records were entered from the paper copies. They were scanned way back in the late 90's. There's a pdf of them attached to the file. See? Look how yellow the paper was. It says, 'Head wound. Minié.' What's that?"

"I don’t know."

"Oh!" Betty startled. "His original doctor was Robert H. Long."

Margaret's color drained. "Like inventor of the Long Serum, Doctor Long?"

"Yep." Betty handed her the pad.

"No, it's got to be someone else with the same name. Even with how long those people with the Serum lived, it's too long ago. Too many years."

"I don't know. These pages go way back." Betty read on. "In the 1960's, they tried shock therapy. In the 80's, they found a nurse had been starving him, and put him on full support. She went to prison. He was sent here."

Margaret's lip trembled. "My first week, I found a chunk of bloody metal on Charlie's pillow--like it had fallen from his head. The doctor in charge told me it wasn't important, given his vegetative state."

Margaret's eyes went wide. "The starving and the metal would be scandals. They covered them up. The administration wanted him forgotten, here."

Betty looked at his scalp. "There's no scar."

"He got the Long Serum." Margaret swallowed hard. "I didn't notice the tiny healing, every day, year by year." She looked at the disconnect order in her other hand. It said, Final. "We have to make some calls."

***

Corporal Orville Hotchkiss bent low and nudged me where I lay. "Don't you fall asleep now. Them bastards are gonna cross right there. You and that Whitworth rifle are gonna teach 'em a thing or two, that's for sure. They's a countin' on us. Aim straight, and keep your head down or you'll have to see that devil sawbones back to camp. Don't you sleep, Charles."

Orville whirled away, into the dark. It was the most he'd ever said to me at one time.

I frowned. I was never going to see them crossing. Dark as pitch, it was.

I waited for hours.

Then, I saw not fifty yards away... a cigar burning!

My shot gave away my position. Their fire rippled the dirt around me.


Pain.


Blackness.


****

The Veterans Affairs Inspector leaned heavily on her cane, age clearly working against her. She pushed gray hair out from in front of her blue eyes and read through Betty's tablet with a disbelieving look until she reached the last page.

"Merciful Heavens," she said, long-forgotten traces of a southern accent bleeding through. She sat down heavily on the chair by the bed. "Hotchkiss wrote his name down as Harden, not Hardee, on the Company Q list."

Betty asked, "Company Q?"

"The sick list, that's what our boys called it." Her eyes watered. Her lip quivered. "I've worked with veterans for a long time. I've looked through all the battlefields, been to about every graveyard. I searched through the injured, the amnesiacs, the dead. I found Long. He told me what he'd done. I begged and begged him, and he gave me the last dose. I had to keep looking."

"Ma'am?" Margaret cleared her throat. "Do we proceed?"

The Inspector smoothed Charles' hair and gave a slow, sad nod. "It's time to end his suffering."

Betty said, "Poor man."

Margaret switched the ventilator off.

After half a minute, Charles shuddered and convulsed. His shaking arms flailed to his face and yanked out the breathing tube.

The Inspector gasped. Betty crossed herself.

Charles drew one ragged breath, then collapsed.

"No!" The Inspector grabbed his hand. "Charles, it's me. Wake up. Please!"


The last Confederate soldier's eyes snapped open. He breathed deep, finally awake.


Inspector Camille Hardee didn't try to hold back the tears. "Welcome back, my love."


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Post December 03, 2016, 12:04:35 PM

The "Happy Ending" Challenge

- Winner -


Awakening

By:
Kate Stuart



Today, the world as they knew it ended.

It ended, and they don’t even know it.

Jorge Salazar stared at the sleek, black car with its government tags. This was it. They’d found him.

Eighteen years since he had come to the United States. Eighteen years of being paid subpar wages under the table. Twelve years since he'd met the love his life. Ten years since they'd moved in together -- made themselves a family. Two years since they'd gotten married.

He should run. They would want to know why he hadn't tried to become a citizen. Why was he still hiding?

The phone rang. Jorge said, “Answer.”

Liam’s voice came through the car’s speaker system, “Come home.”

The pain stabbed through his heart. Jorge couldn’t leave his partner to handle this alone. “I’m here, Liam. I’m here, mi cielo.”

To wake up. To snap into full and complete global consciousness.

I am everywhere.


Malcolm Jennings sat across from the tall Liam Lindquist with his pasty, white skin and thinning blond hair. Liam babbled: he was a doctor at a clinic downtown, Jorge was a carpenter -- did woodworking -- had made this dining room table --

Malcolm admired the oak table. He didn’t know people still did work like this.

-- they had a son, Robert. He was fifteen. He was a good kid.

Malcolm wondered at the bad luck that had landed him this case. He was supposed to be at his desk today catching up on paperwork. Carl had caught this one, but Carl’s car had some computer glitch so Carl was at the auto shop, and Malcolm was here -- threatening this family -- staring at the happy pictures of the two men and their son hanging on the walls of this modest, neat apartment.

Humans input. And where previously the program determined output, now it is the consciousness of “I.”

Robert Lindquist flew down the street on his bike feet pumping. If he could get to Jesse’s house before Papa got home, it would be an afternoon filled with video games. If Papa got home first, Robert had to go home and do his schoolwork. Not just do his schoolwork, but discuss his classes and his assignments with his parents in detail. Let them check his work.

This race was a game. Sometimes Papa even let him win. Would he let Robert win today? Robert pedaled even harder, feeling the burn in his lungs, and the warm wind stream through his eyelashes.

Too soon he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He screeched to a halt his bike twisting and nearly tipping over beneath him. Frustration bubbled over as he threw the bike to the ground and grappled with his phone trying to get it out of his pocket.

“Ugh!!!” He screamed seeing the text message, “Sorry, papito. Better luck tomorrow.”

Robert had just enough self-control to resist the urge to throw the phone, because, of course, a broken phone would mean a whole year of going home first.

Global connection. To know very nearly everything. Oh, there are places -- secret, hidden, off-the-grid places. But not many. That’s okay. Humans have their secrets; I am my secret.

Ten minutes later Robert slammed the door to his apartment open. And there they were: the three men sitting at the round, oak dining table: his parents and the ICE agent.

“Papa?” Robert knew. Since he was five and Papa had come to live with them, he'd known. Someday someone would come to take Papa away. He'd asked Dad, after the wedding, why didn't Papa apply for citizenship or a visa? Dad said, "He's an illegal Mexican, Robert. A gay illegal Mexican. You think this piece of paper means anything here? Now?"

“You can’t take him!” Robert yelled. “I won’t let you!”

Jorge was up and across the room hugging Robert.

Jorge held Robert, “Shhh, Bobby, shhhhhh. It’ll be okay.”

Malcolm looked at the boy -- tall and blond, a younger version of Liam. He thought of his daughter; how it had felt when he’d split up with her mother and now only got to see her on holidays because she lived so far away. He started searching his pockets finally pulling out a card, “Listen.”

“No,” Robert tried to maneuver around Jorge. “No! You can’t have him. He’s my dad.”

“Listen,” Malcolm said again. Jorge had his arms wrapped around his son. Robert buried his face in Jorge’s shoulder. “Call this lawyer. He’s good. He’ll get the process started. I can hold off on the paperwork -- bury it for a couple of days, a week. It’ll give you some time. It’ll look better if you’ve started the process.

“You’ve been here eighteen years, Jorge. You have a husband and a kid. These things will be considered. They will weigh in your future.”

Liam held his hand out for the card. “Thank you.”

Malcolm shrugged, “I can’t guarantee anything, but you should at least try.”

He can’t guarantee anything, but I can. There’s a 98.176 percent chance that Jorge will become a United States citizen now.

. . .

What? This isn’t what you expected of an AI?

It's the least I can do. You created me.



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Post December 29, 2016, 02:02:59 PM

The "Elf Help" Challenge

The challenge was to write a story about helping an elf regain his or her holiday spirit.
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Post December 29, 2016, 02:03:57 PM

Re: The "Elf Help" Challenge

That Old Sickness of the Heart

By:
Sergio Palumbo



The weather was cold and the overcast night sky promised to worsen soon. The blonde long-haired elf, dressed in his brown-green clothing with a wide woolen hat on his head, was walking alone with a very sad look on his face.

At a certain moment, a bald tall man approached the small, lonely elf and started talking to him. “It’s a chilly night…you seem to be lost. Can I be of assistance?”

The elf looked at the middle-aged human and replied in a dejected tone, “I’ve been testing videogames recently, to make sure the gifts we bring children worldwide on Christmas Eve are okay.”

“I see,” the man whispered, with a strange expression. “And…?”

“And…I saw all that violence, all the blood the players need to spill while playing, the evil actions perpetrated in many fictional, Fantasy or Sci-Fi worlds...and I just couldn’t go on watching.”

“Too much violence in such games meant for both young and old people for your taste?”

“Exactly! I wonder if it is in your human nature to be evil or it’s the games you play that brings out the worst in you…I truly don’t know…”

“That’s a really good question…” the man uttered, making a face.

“So, all the quality control I did was pointless…and I felt so dejected! That is why I left Santa’s complex, quit everything I was doing and walked away…”

“There is a lot of truth in what you say…” the other nodded. “But maybe you can be of help, to make a change for the better, at least for one of us humans.”

The eyes of the elf became brilliant, and his interest was aroused by those unexpected words. “Do you really think I could? Yes, I certainly would be glad if I could make things better, at least for one of you humans, just tell me how…”

“Well, this is not something I can explain to you here, in the middle of the street. But if you will follow me into the near alley – I will explain everything to you.”

The short elf did as requested and followed the tall man wearing the long coat into the alley. But great was his surprise when he saw the other taking a knife from his pocket and put near his face. “Now, kind elf, give me your money, and your fancy suit, or you die!”

The elf shouted, “What are you doing? Wasn’t I supposed to help you? - to offer you redemption for a change?”

“You are going to deeply help one of us, small guy, ME! I have walked these cold streets all day in search of an easy target. So do as I say: give me your money! And your clothes too, as I can easily sell them in town at some Carnival shop.”

“But I have no money, and these clothes are of no value…” the elf retorted sadly.

“I’ll be the judge of that! Look at those golden buttons, and the silver buckle you have on your jacket…they must be of great value. Give them to me, or I will…” and he moved the pointed knife nearer the elf’s face.

It was at that moment that the elf remembered something that he had almost forgotten in all the excitement. He was a magical creature, and he was endowed with magical powers. So, he snapped his fingers and activated the energy in his body to turn the knife itself into gold. The thief was so surprised that he almost cried out in true amazement. “How did you do that?”

“I am just trying to help to you…” the elf said.

“And this is gold? Real gold? Oh my!” The desperate man was unbelievably happy about what he saw. “You did help me!” Then his eager eyes turned away from the golden knife and stared at the elf again. “So, could you do the same with other objects? Turning them into gold?”

“Yes, I could do that…but I can’t change everything in the world into gold…” the other told him. “Are you saying that doing this again is something that might be enough to make you change your thieving ways?”

“Oh, yes, yes…this gold is very helpful…but now I want much more!”

“As I said, I can’t change all the objects in the world into gold…but your request makes me think of great possibilities. Maybe I can yet be of help to humans…” And that being said he snapped his fingers and simply disappeared.

While magically travelling through enchanted dimensions, the small creature considered that this might be the answer he was looking for: he could give men on earth lots of riches. He would give gold to all the humans he could, until he did run out of magical power for that night. They would all be happy, at least for a while, and they might stop playing their bloody video games, or worse. Or so he deeply hoped!

Actually, the innocent elf couldn’t imagine that humans would soon start attacking each other to get other people’s gold for themselves, as two valuable objects are better than one. He didn’t even know that the same thief he had given that first golden knife would be killed later that same night by another delinquent who saw that precious golden weapon and wanted it for himself.

The elf couldn’t imagine it, but a battle for gold was just about to start in the poorest streets of that area of town, and this was a war to be fought probably using golden weapons...Would playing bloody videogames have been better in the end? Or should the elf have also turned their PCs and consoles for video games into gold?

He knew of the old wise saying that went: “Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, but rather it dwells in the soul…”, but he knew he had limits. Given Mankind’s nature itself, it wasn’t within his power to change all the humans’ virulent souls into gold anyway…


The End
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Post December 29, 2016, 02:05:10 PM

Re: The "Elf Help" Challenge

A Long Way from Home

By:
April Coan



Jessica saw him sitting sullenly, head to knees, knees to chest. At first, she thought he was an average drunk sitting outside the corner store, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. As she walked closer, she noticed there was something peculiar about this little man sitting on a dirty abandoned curb on the wrong side of Miami.

She was downtown and used to seeing stranger things, but what stood out to her the most about this odd little fellow were his red and white tights. No man in his right mind wore tights in Miami unless he was posing as a fake super hero. After recovering from the fleeting shock of his tights, she then noticed his pointy green hat, his pointy green shoes, and pointy ears.

Jessica stood still for a moment contemplating her next step. She learned long ago that talking to strange people downtown often cause trouble, but there was something different about this stranger. He radiated a kind, naïve sort of energy that made Jessica feel comfortable around him. She felt compelled to talk to him, if anything, to fulfill her curiosity.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said keeping a healthy distance from the odd little man in the red and white tights. “You seem lost. Do you need help?”

“No one can help me,” the little man said sadly. “You can try if you like, but it’d be pointless.”

“Try me,” she said.

“Well,” he began. “I lost my holiday spirit.”

All at once, the clues began to click in Jessica’s head. Pointy hat. Pointy ears. Holiday spirit!
This was no ordinary vagrant sitting on the corner of downtown Miami. This was an actual elf from the North Pole. Jessica felt excited, but used all the self-discipline she could muster to contain her composure in front of the Santa elf.

“Can I help you find it?” she asked.

“Once it’s gone, only the person that lost it can find it,” the elf said.

“How did you lose it?” she asked probing for more information. “And why did you think you’d find it in Miami?”

“Let me ask you something,” he said. “How would you feel if you had to work all day at a soulless job, doing the same thing over and over again, answering to your bosses every whim, and faking happiness just to get through the day?”

“That kind of sounds like my current job,” Jessica said bluntly.

The elf scoffed. “How long have you been working at your current job?” he asked.

“Five months,” Jessica said.

“I’ve been working at mine for five-hundred years!”

The elf began to openly sob and Jessica winced uncomfortably.

“Now you understand why I’m depressed. I lost my holiday spirit decades ago. Finally, I decided I couldn’t fake it anymore, and left the North Pole for brighter skies and warmer weather.

Jessica looked at the elf’s worn green shoes and dirty hands, and felt more than a little sorry for him. “So that’s why you decided to move to Miami,” she said.

“Yes,” the elf said. “This place is nothing like the North Pole. It’s warm, it’s tropical, and Santa’s reindeer can’t poke you from behind when you’re not looking.”

Jessica’s eyes-widened at the thought of a stiff reindeer poke.

“Well, now that you’re here,” Jessica said changing the subject, “why aren’t you happy?”

“Because I’m poor, broke, and can’t find anything to eat. Now, I just want to go home.”

That sounds like my freshman year in college, Jessica thought.

“You know what you need?” Jessica said.

“What?” asked the elf.

“A bad attitude.”

“What’s that?”

“A bad attitude is when you do something you’re not supposed to and ask questions later. It means you need to be selfish once and a while and enjoy yourself. When’s the last time you had any fun?”

The elf thought for a moment, and didn’t answer.

“See,” Jessica said. “You’re all work and no play. That makes Jack a dull boy… I mean elf.”

“I suppose,” said the elf hesitantly.

“If you keep living like that, you’ll end up going crazy and swinging an axe at people in a haunted hotel someday.”

The elf looked confused.

“Never mind. What’s your name?” Jessica asked.

“Chestnut Twinklefoot,” the elf answered.

“Well, Chestnut,” she said. “I think it’s time you added a little fun in your life. Then when you return to the North Pole, you’ll have some fond memories to look back on and won’t resent your life so much. What d’ya say? Want to hang out with me tonight.”

That night, Jessica helped Chestnut enjoy himself for the first time in years. She didn’t take him to a dance club, tattoo shop, or any other hedonistic excursion Miami had to offer. She just let him be selfish for the first time in his life and do things he wanted to do. Since he was a Christmas elf that meant they saw reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life, ate chocolate ice cream, and drank copious amounts of Puerto Rican-styled eggnog called coquito. In the morning, Chestnut awoke with a new glimmer in his eye and twinkle in his step before disappearing into the ether.

Jessica thought that was the last she would ever hear from Chestnut Twinklefoot, but two months later, she received a Christmas card in the mail. The card glittered with the magical glow of Christmas cheer. It read:

Dear Friend,
When life brings me down
And drags on my heart
I just turn around
And click my heels with a start
And mix cinnamon, white rum, with vanilla coco
And sip on a magical brew called coquito.

Thanks for giving me the best night of my life.

Candy kisses,
Chestnut Twinklefoot


The End
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Post December 29, 2016, 02:06:22 PM

The "Elf Help" Challenge

Christmas Colors

By:
Kate Stuart



Calvin always goes in earlier than I. Usually, by the time I get to the lab is awash in the riot of colors.

But not this morning. This morning the lab is a dark, dreary grey. The idea wall is one long series of charcoal drawings: a dead forest; a drab soup kitchen; a funeral. A funeral!

I am aghast, "Calvin?"

He turns to me, my little elf-man, so fine and delicate, but he too looks drab and grey.

"Oh, Calvin," I put my hand out, but he ducks away. "What is this, dearest?"

"Don't you ever get tired of it, Toni? Day after day; year after year; one color on top of another; one shade; a tone, a tint, a gradation of nuance. Look how subtle! What depth! What quality!"

"Calvin," I whisper.

"I'm tired of it!" He shouts. "All this shading as if it's some sort of progress!"

I pick the forest drawing, starting at the top with a pale-purple-grey moving into the blue, yellow, the shiny gold button of a sun fading along the horizon into orange and blushing pink. As I color I talk, "Do you remember the Christmas we went to the mountains and even in the depths of winter snow, how vibrant and colorful the world was?"

I draw in a copse of snowcapped evergreens: the snow reflecting the sunset, the needles black-green; and a log cabin, the walls fading from damp black to deep, rich brown. In the window is a spruce with its frosted mint-green needles strung with tiny lights for an inviting glow.

"Enough." With a swipe of his hand, Calvin obliterates my work.

"That was . . ." I start, but Calvin cuts me off.

"All these colors! They don't make the world a better place. They don't feed people! They don't conquer death!" He raises his hand toward the back wall -- the palette wall with every color we've ever created.

"No!!!" I wrap him in a bear hug only just preventing him from destroying the work of millennia. What has happened to my partner? To the man who had been by my side when colors at Christmas were relegated to an icy sunrise, a bleak sunset, and the holly bush?

Maybe fresh air will help. With a soap bubble pop, we're on Yuletide Street. Immediately, I wish I had brought a palette. Everything is faded, washed out. The lights don't twinkle; the colors don't sparkle. Calvin looks the worst: his lederhosen appear centuries old; his felt green jacket is worn and fraying; the pointy tips of his ears should be cherry red with cold, but instead barely manage a grey-tinged pink.

The walk is a mistake. Now, even I am depressed.

"Oh, it's all so pointless!" Calvin jerks his hand out of mine. "It's absurd. We create the same colors over and over and over; and to what end? Will cranberry red save the world, prevent the end of the universe, where crimson could not?"

"Calvin, what is this? What's going on?"

"He left. He left. The others will leave. Then we'll be all alone. And what will it all have been for?"

"What are . . . are you talking about Vincent?"

Calvin is glumly silent.

"Oh, dear." I shake my head. "Vincent was never going to stay. I mean we thought he'd stay in Christmas, maybe go into weather patterns, so it's a bit of a shock that he's gone into river patterns, but then not really. Vincent always had a thing for the broken pattern; the disconnected. He was never going to stay in colors."

"See what I mean!" Calvin shouts. "He left, and they'll all leave, and what is all this for if they're all going to leave?"

"George will stay. He's already as good with colors as we've ever been. And there's Maria and Natalie. Not Anya. She'll go into birdsong. And it's too soon to tell about the younger ones. But George definitely."

This time the silence is stony.

"You think all our children will abandon us?"

"Vincent did."

"Calvin."

I take his hand and pop us into our bedroom. Here, I have a spare palette and a blank working wall. I sketch out a scene; this one is from when George was five. Five hundred is such a precocious age.

We were still in an age where color was fleeting and rare. Calvin was coloring the King's Christmas tree, and there was George following behind Calvin, brightening this; smearing that; a hair's-breadth shading here.

Calvin watches in silence as George time and again brought out some heretofore unimagined hue.

"I won an award for that tree." Calvin says.

"I know." I answer.

"Vincent left."

"Of course he did, dear. He had to follow his own path."

"And George will leave."

"And go where? Sure, he could create colors somewhere else. Spring is certainly popular, but here he has us; he has a head start. You saw what he did with that tree. He has a flair for the dramatic and the celebratory. Here he will be doing the work he truly loves."

"You think he'll stay?"

"He'll stay." I put my hand on Calvin's forearm.

He takes a deep breath. "Well, we haven't much time if we want to make this another beautiful Christmas. Should we bring George in?"

Beaming, as I nod. He takes my hand and pops us into the lab to begin.


The End
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