FLASH FICTION INDEX 2: Dec. 2011 - May 2017

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

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Post April 05, 2017, 08:57:59 PM

The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

The Secrets of General Nuisance
By Bingemeister

General Nuisance sashayed the visiting Rear Admiral into his prefabricated office to quench their parched tongues with some nerve calming hooch, brewed from rice in a still that was built from a rusted jeep radiator and filtered through a pair of long worn skivvies. Of course, the Rear Admiral was unaware of the origins of this elixir. This was okay, since he spewed it onto the general's smooth surface desk, which was due to the pretty bottoms of female service women, who frequently dusted it during sex. It didn't make no never mind, the general was happy for all the service the women under him gave...him.

"We got ourselves a nice little operation here, don't you agree Paddy?" The general was on a first name basis with all the underhanded crooks he consorted with.

"Yes indeedy, a nice profitable scam. And the military oversight committee will never get their hands dirty by showing up here overseas." The two men started to laugh in an inconspicuous way, more like an evil laugh, yet disguising the evil part so as not to give it away.

When they had their fill of laughing, they moved on to more pressing business...the laundry. Skimming money from the laundry supply purchases, adding a nickel more to the invoice and pocketing the surplus was one of the many ways the two men could pick up extra change. They did that too in the bakery and made a lot of extra dough. Didn't make a lot of money, but not every scam can be profitable. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.

A pretty petty female officer came into the room and said to the general, "You have a call on line one and two".

"At the same time? You know I can't think and talk simultaneously. Who's on the first line?"

"Yes sir, it's the Korean delegate Wel Hung Hoo."

"Then who is on the second line?" the general said slightly irritated.

"No sir, it's James Watt, the secretary of defense."

"So Hoo's on first and Watts on second?"

"Yes sir, and there is someone waiting for you in the outer office." She wasn’t too smart, but at least she always held her end up, which was the way the big brass liked it.

The general was distracted by her curvaceous figure, but then continued. "So, who's in the outer office?"

“No sir," the blonde attendant said getting frazzled, "Who's on first."

Getting a handle on this the general said, "Okay who, I mean what, uh..I mean the person in the outer office, what is that person's name?"

"I don't know," she said bewildered.

The general threw a banana at her and continued talking with the admiral.

The general asked, "Why don't we stroll by the nurses shower and do a top to bottom inspection. You know they can't do anything about it, cause we're so powerful."

"Sounds good. I like it when they get embarrassed and cry and tell us, boo hoo I got a husband or kids or well, whatever. They follow my orders or it's the stockade. And you know they don't get out of there without a lot of bending over. So they're screwed anyway they go."

The men started that evil laughing again, shaking their big potbellies up and down. Well they couldn't help it cause...they're so fat!

So General Nuisance and his buddy the Rear Admiral, went in the direction of the women's shower in an over excited manner. They say power has its privileges.

They called a formation insisting that all women, including the naked ones must report as is or be punished. These Brassy guys were also into that.

As they walked up and down, eyeing each and every woman in their underneath, making them feel violated (you know, these bawdy men like that too), they did not noticed one naked woman in a jeep barreling toward them at eighty miles an hour.
_ _ _ _ _

Ooooh the carnage! Oh the inhumanity! Say it isn’t so! Blood everywhere! Squashy! Squishy! And you know...she didn't just hit them once. She went crazy on their butts. The angry naked woman kept running the jeep over their ever decreasing mass of person, until the maintenance crew brought out the wet vacs.

The women who had been ogled by the former powerful men, swore that the jeep went rogue and ran the two men over…twenty or thirty times without human involvement.

Yeah they say power has its privileges. They also said something about a woman scorned.

They…say a lot of things.

The End
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Post April 05, 2017, 09:00:57 PM

The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

The Button
By Jean-Paul L. Garnier

“Enter sequence code 016358. Confirm when sequence is initiated. Out”

After all the months of sitting in this hole it was the first order ever to come through. Jerry sat up alert and began the work he had been trained for. He quickly looked over the protocol sheets and initiated the code. “Sequence initiated.”

Lights on the instrument panel began to blink and a complex fury of bleeps sprung forth from the machine. “Any further orders?” asked Jerry

Silence was the response. Probably just a training drill to see if I’m asleep at the helm down here. He went back to thumbing through his magazine, looking more at the pictures than reading. He repeated the question and again there was no response. Yep, a training exercise. I knew it. Convinced that he would not receive a response he decided not to bother the brass with more questions. Glancing up at the clock he saw that his scheduled break was coming up. He switched the machine onto automatic control then began to ascend the spiral staircase up the tube towards the exit. The elevator was still broken down and he cursed the twelve flights between him and his smoke break.

Finally he arrived at the ground floor and typed in his pin number to open the door. The door wouldn’t budge, so he shouldered it and nearly fell to the floor when it swung wide open. Recovering his balance he reached for his pack of cigarettes and was busy lighting up when he noticed the strange shift in light. It was only three in the afternoon but it sky around him appeared to be dusk. What the hell?

Jerry bent down to extinguish his smoke and realized that the ground was covered in ash. It wasn’t a training exercise. The epiphany shrank him. I, I did this. They never told me what the sequences were for. Oh God. He gazed up to the horizon and knew then that the entire landscape was now covered in fallout ash. He swallowed dryly.

Reaching for his pack once again he pulled out another smoke and lit it. Not bothering to close the door behind him he walked out into what had once been the parking lot. His boots sank into the ash as more rained down. He didn’t bother to look back as he strode into the wasteland, his mind looping the numbers 016358.

The End
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Post April 05, 2017, 09:01:56 PM

The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

Bring Them Back...
By Sergio Palumbo

For most people the term castle brought to mind an enormous stone structure on the top of a hill. And this was true for the most part, at least for similar buildings that you could spot in many of the realms that bordered this country. But the great fortress standing on top of the small mountain within the walls of the capital of the Empire of Klener also meant the personification of undisputed supremacy, as it was the seat of power for the murderous tyrant who lived there.

Well, truth be told, the great castle had seen better days, and there was much more activity around its enormous gates and along its impenetrable battlements, where cavalrymen entered and exited continuously to follow the orders of the Emperor. His troops went here and there, night and day, to execute the ruler’s commands. In most cases, their orders were to apprehend people, torment them and then kill whoever was left alive after their long imprisonment in the underground dungeons.

Actually, the usual thinking of the Emperor was very simple: he really believed that his rule would be strengthened and unquestioned if he only had his many enemies in his hands, all of them. He knew he would feel much safer once every last one of them was dead and buried.

This he had done for 60 years, having begun his reign when he was 18, and the passing years hadn’t made him less cruel. All wrapped in his luxurious garbs, with costly fur-lined vest coats, he sat in the Great Hall, his long white curls covering his shoulders while his hardened features looked weary. His appearance sought to instantly draw your attention, and the pale face showed off two black eyes that seemed to be sunken into his head. The man spent all day long thinking of possible dangers and of his enemies that still needed to be captured and killed. There were nothing else in his head, and no deeper worries to upset him.

Things had always been this way throughout the Empire, and multitudes of common people had died because of his bloody orders.

But the man had made a mistake, and it was a very large one. There was a lone sorcerer who refused to serve him. He lived alone in the woods, not interested in the material things or in meddling in the problems of the Empire. But the tyrant couldn’t tolerate anyone living within the boundaries of his lands who refused to submit to his will. Despite all the suggestions his oldest mages gave him, and the serious warnings, he wanted that man brought before his eyes to be subjected before him.

“Leave him alone, allow him to be free…” some wise mages told the powerful Emperor.

“He will never act against you if you don’t harm him…” others added.

But the bloody tyrant didn’t listen to them. “Kill him now, execute my orders!” he replied. He was not ready to accept that someone might live freely, simply. So, he ordered that man to be brought to the courtyard of the great castle and be burned alive.

When his mages saw that the ruler gave this order, they were astonished.

The bloody Emperor should have listened to his advisers. He should have stopped when that man started cursing him saying that he would be ill-starred from that moment on, and that the souls of the enemies he had killed would persecute him, turning his last days into hell on Earth. Those severe, awful and bloodcurdling words were spoken. But he didn’t stop.

Since that day, things changed in the castle, and throughout the whole Empire. The tyrant began having some strange visions, a few delusions at first that increased very soon, each one becoming stronger and more frightening. There were unusual presences, ghosts apparently, that entered and sat wherever they wanted, startling him. And what worried him most was that such souls were only visible to him! ‘Keep a cool head!’ he thought, trying his best, but there was nothing he could do.

It didn’t take the Emperor long before he recognized those faces and understood who they were, or better, who they had once been. The ghosts of the many enemies he had had killed under his rule! But he had had them killed so he could eventually get rid of those, not to have them come back as undead! Very soon they filled every corner of the great fortress he lived in. His mind started faltering, his senses weakened and he was afraid to meet his courtiers in the open, preferring to stay alone, without taking the chance to stumble into one of those presences that only he could see.

Then, he reminded himself of the curse bestowed on him by the sorcerer he had burned alive some time before, and he understood.

“Bring back my previous glorious days!” he found himself uttering in the dark, while nobody could see or hear him. But it was too late. There was no way to go back in time, to change his past actions. There was also no way to get rid of those ghosts, and turn the castle again into the image of power and stability that it had been before.

Similarly, it was unattainable by the Emperor to become what he had once been, and this was why he remained secluded, alone and mostly silent in a dim tower of the castle. For that was the only place his mages had been able to protect using their sorcery, as a safe site for the dejected ruler to stay away from the vengeful souls of the many dead he had previously killed by force.

Oh, and the fact that he had had all of those mages killed, too, once they had failed to extend that useful protection to the rest of the castle, had just added more and more ghastly presences all around, of course…

The End
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Post April 05, 2017, 09:02:50 PM

The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

No Brainer
By The Fisher of Men

There are zombies and then, there are zombies. The kind seen in Sci Fi flicks are from the recesses of the human mind; frail imaginations of ghosts and goblins, vampires and monsters. None such exist.

But what are mind-controlled slaves, who have been implanted with biochip technologies, forged through generations of torture and dehumanization.

This is where my story begins.

Human trafficking has been going on since the beginning of civilization, setting apart the elite masters from the masses (like you and me). And the plan is going, well...as planned.

It only takes ten minutes to make an incision on the right side of a human head and insert a chip that ceases the personality and the will of the human being leaving their minds ready for programming. A mind can be programmed in many ways, even through frequencies from computer software.

There are a few signs that you're observing a mind controlled slave, but they are becoming harder to detect. Their eyes often have a glassy appearance and a dissociative stare. Many human slaves are demon possessed and so their eyes are black as the pit of hell.


"Wake up, wake up. Can you hear me?" the nurse said to the patient. The patient opened her eyes staring at the cold, white-blue ceiling, possessing no thoughts.

"She is ready for conditioning," the nurse said to the programmer.


Reader, I’ve seen this before. It is an assembly line. Cruel they are that captures the mind of those who would be free.

Most of the people involved in human conversion technology are human bots themselves.

Enslaving the human race has always been the plan. You precious reader would be terrified if you knew how short a time you really have.


The conversion lab underground at the Desario Air Force Base.

“Cyrus, the infant girl is rejecting the chip. During the three attempts, some of its brain tissue was damaged,” the lab tech said to the demon overseer.

Impatient he growled, “Incinerate it!”


Actors and actresses in movies and television are born into generational families, meaning their parents and their grandparents and their great grandparents were mind-controlled slaves. The methods of mind control now are high tech, but there have been various methods used through the centuries to enslave humans. Methods involving chemicals, hypnotism, fear induced trauma and torture too gruesome for you reader to know.

I’m a journalist researching and identifying the progression of the world toward the New World Order. I commentate through various online sources. I know the dark powers are watching me. They watch for anyone that could interrupt or delay their plans.

There has always been a violent possession of demonic spirits until technology was created around the nineteen forties (technology created for human enslavement has been fifty years in advance of known technology.


I was startled by a sound outside my window. I see through the blinds it’s a van parked on a street corner diagonal to where I am staying. They’re using equipment to monitor my actions. I’m typing this offline so they cannot see until I upload to your site, but if they have equipment to see through my walls…

I must hurry.


Ultimately, the plan is to exterminate a third of the world's population, (the useless eaters is what they call us) and implant the rest of humanity with chip technology. The elite masters buy and sale mind control slaves (people who once had a will of their own and now whose only thought is what is given to them).

In the ancient book it is told how angels who had fallen mated with human women who bore to this world a race of giants, demon/human hybrids that became the secret rulers of this planet, aided by trillions of lower ranking demons, armed with the powerful gift of deception - so powerful they have deceived the elect of this world throughout time.

You are being conditioned dear reader and are probably not aware of it.


A human slave enters the underground bunker of “The Council. “I have given orders to include RH 487 in the processed food supply. It should take effect in several months.”

“Take off your clothes!” The old filthy men enjoy their slaves.


In the air, chemicals called chemtrails are being sown which make humans receptive to programming. The media, entertainment, sports and especially the news are all programming - all designed to slowly make the human race susceptible to mass mind control.

Religion has been infiltrated and demonized; the major businesses of the world are owned and operated by the New World Order. You're in a world system where what is true seems like fantasy and what seems like fantasy is actually real and terrifying.

It is a hard fight to resist evil and cleanse your life so as to take yourself out of the world system in order to overcome it. That's why most people choose not to fight...until it's too late.

The news is programming chaos into the world - racially charged division, loss of faith in the people’s national government, inducing fear (the demons feed off of that) and creating worldwide mass instability.

One day a leader will emerge and make all the trouble go away and people will follow him, without reservation, because he will appear to give the world relief when actually the world council will just stop creating the chaos.

I have not given my life to God, a mistake I am living to regret. I need more power to fight. I could have done so much. Now, I don't know, maybe I still could. I need to try.

There are a lot of unfriendly signs. It's still not too late.

As for you dear reader, we all have to make our own choices...

The End
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Post April 05, 2017, 09:04:37 PM

The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

- Co-Winner -


By N.J. Kailhofer

"Do you not ever clean, child?" old Vala snapped. "You cannot let him in!"

Young Anna regarded the shriveled woman in filthy rags that smelled like grime and soil with obvious credulity. "Let who in?"

Vala grabbed the broom from beside the empty fireplace and spun it on Anna in her fine, flaxen dress, holding the straw end only inches from the surprised girl's nose. "He is a monster, a devil of the night."


Vala ignored her. "He will come with the dust. Keep him out."

Vala shook the broom insistently and Anna realized the old woman wanted her to take it.

"Clean, now." Vala said. "Clean well, that I may tell the Elders you are fit to marry Johan."

Anna grabbed the broom and set it aside. Indignant, she asked, "What do you mean, fit? Who are you to judge me?"

Vala strolled to the broom and calmly picked it up before abruptly smacking Anna over the head with it.


"Listen, now. No one in the village may marry without my word to the Elders." Her eyes dropped. "The cost is too high. Clean!"

Chastised and a little afraid of her visitor, Anna snatched up the old broom and hurried to cleaning Johan's small cottage. Vala crossed her arms and stood in the middle of the room, watching the girl's every action like a hawk. When Anna was done, she looked up.

Vala's face was a mask of disappointment. "Do you wish that devil to take your child?"

Anna stepped back. "What child?"

Vala snorted. "Johan's seed already grows within you."

Anna instinctively put her hand on her belly. Ashamed, she asked, "How did you know?"

Anna steeled herself for a fluid burst of abuse, but instead, Vala sighed and sat slowly into the creaky rocker by the fireplace. "You are not from this village, so you cannot know. I was once in love with a man, too, except he was not a man."

Anna sat at the table to listen.

Vala's eyes glazed, happy for a moment.

"Reynaud," the old woman said. "That was his name. Oh, he was fine. Tall, handsome, with good hair and teeth. Neatly-kept, dark, curled mustache. His clothes were nice, a rich man's, which I suppose he was. He owned a perfumery, and he always smelled delightful. He called on me late in the evenings, always after dark, and we courted... He said he traveled the land to trade his perfumes, so I loved to hear his tales of exotic lands and strange people. So different from here."

She paused, "He never smiled. His eyes would look happy, but his mouth never smiled. That was strange about him, but that was all that was unusual. In every other respect, he seemed the perfect man."

Vala looked sheepish. "I loved him, 'tis true, and I lay with him out of wedlock."

Anna raised her brows at this, but she held her tongue and did not call the old woman the hypocrite she wanted to.

"Once I knew I was with child, I had to tell him. We talked late and then lay together. He grew restless as dawn approached, but I didn't want to let him go. What if he was angry, or rejected me? I was sure I couldn't live without him. He said he must go, but I held him and said I must tell him a secret. He asked if it could wait, and I said it could not. He bid me hurry, but telling a man you have his child is not easy. I struggled. It grew light out, and finally he shouted for me to tell him, for he must leave."

Anna was at the edge of her seat. "What happened?"

"Tell him I did." Vala lost herself, remembering. "Reynaud smiled wide for the first time, and that's when I saw his huge, sharp fangs!"

Anna gasped.

"I thought he was about to rip me open and drink my blood. I was never more afraid! Then, just then, the sun came through the window and landed where we lay. The moment it did, he collapsed to dust there on the blankets. Oh, the shriek he made as it did!"

Anna's jaw fell open.

"I screamed and tossed the blankets outside, shaking his dust out into the strong wind. I watched it blow away, out of sight."

Vala continued, haltingly. "I was wrong. I was so wrong!"

Anna came and set her hand on Vala's shoulder. "What of the child?"

"Turned to dust with his father." A tear rolled down Vala's wrinkles.

Anna asked, "If he turned to dust and blew away, why do you think he could return?"

Vala held up a finger. "On the blankets the next night was the outline of his body, but made of dust. He was trying to come back together, to return from death. This is why the village must be kept clean, foolish girl, lest he steal you or your child away into the night. You must not let his dust in!"

"I won't!" Anna gathered her sweepings into a bucket. "What should I do with this?"

"I'll take it, as I do for all." Vala smiled. "Now that you understand, I must go."

Anna thanked the old woman profusely for telling the tale and bid her goodnight.

"I have kept him from the rest of the village for fifty years." Vala felt pride as she stepped out of the door, carrying the bucket of dirt and dust.

Vala decided, Anna will keep Reynaud out.

The happy crone patted the bucket, tottering away. She knew just where to empty its contents: at home.

Vala dumped every bucket from the whole village inside her home. From everything she had collected, Reynaud's dust was nearly all there.

"If only I hadn't tossed you out in the first place," Vala mumbled. "I'm sorry, my love. You'll be with me again... and not with anyone else."

The End
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Post April 05, 2017, 09:25:54 PM

Re: The "Never Apologize for Saying You're Sorry" Challenge

- Co-Winner -

The Children of Mars
By Kate Thornton

(Based on an African Fable of Regret)

Buzzy's body was jettisoned out into space like the trash, but not with the trash; that would have been disrespectful. With the remains decorating the hull of the space freighter, everyone except Nyota went back to work and things got back to normal.
In this case, normal meant that the ship could resume its route between De Grasse Station on Mars and Space Station Three. Foods were shipped from De Grasse to SS3, then routed to Earth. The Fukushima Event poisoned its oceans and coastlines. Earth, once a successful agricultural planet, now was inhabited only in the interiors of its major continents, with six cities holding the residual populations. Food products were grown and processed on Mars and uncontaminated water, an expensive luxury, was distilled there, too.

No one knew exactly why humans could not reproduce on Mars, but no human female had ever carried to term on the Martian surface, so after a couple of decades and thousands of failed pregnancies, they stopped trying.

Life on the freighter included all of the usual drama, but Nyota did her job and avoided conflict. She was from Shana, the African city known for beautiful textiles and medicinal plants. She did not plan to fall in love, but the trips were lonely and the crew were thrown together.

Buzzy was a pushy braggart, and his outlandish claims of sexual prowess, especially his claim that he could father Martian children, were ridiculous. "Just check with my little honey in De Grasse," he bragged. "I got me two kids, both born on the red planet." Of course, if that were true he would not be schlepping crates on a food freighter.
But the heart wants what the heart wants, and it seldom asks the brain for advice. So Nyota and Buzzy fell hard, if not in love, then at least in lust.

When Buzzy, who was a bit short of common sense, decided to surprise Nyota one night in her bunk, he should have remembered her fear of attack and at least whispered a sweet nothing or two before pouncing. But he didn't, and it was dark, and Nyota's bedside tonic - harmless in small doses but lethal otherwise - was in a cut glass bottle. She screamed, grabbed the bottle and brained Buzzy with it. If the wound didn't kill him, the poison did.

The Captain ruled accidental death and Nyota stayed an extra day in her cabin crying.

Upon landing at De Grasse, Nyota wandered the streets, dazed by what had happened. She went back early to the dock to watch the last of the cargo loading procedure. A large, plain woman stood near the freighter watching too. She turned as Nyota approached her.

"You from that ship?" she asked.

Nyota nodded.

"Do you know Robert Buzzetti?" The woman seemed anxious.

Nyota nodded again.

"I'm his wife. Where is he?"

Nyota gasped. He hadn't mentioned a wife. Kids, yes. Wife, no. "I am sorry. He was killed. "

The woman crumpled like a used tissue and sank to the dirty concrete. Nyota felt terrible. She reached for the woman and knelt beside her as the sobs rocked them both. She could not add to the woman's grief by confessing that she was the instrument of her widowhood, nor that her husband had been her lover.

"Let me take you home," Nyota offered, supporting the woman. They walked slowly through the town, and Nyota wondered if she would miss takeoff. She called the ship and arranged to stay through until the next trip.

Mrs. Buzzetti - "Call me Lynn," she said - lived in a small cubicle near the fields. Nyota inspected the tiny but neat home and noted the children's belongings. As they both drank tea, real tea from real plants, Lynn told Nyota about her life.

She had shipped from earth as a young girl. She did her stint in the fields and met Buzzy when he was a crewman on one of the big supply ships.

When Lynn became pregnant, she went to the clinic for termination, but there was a waiting list, so she continued working. She gave birth at home prematurely, expecting the hallmark stillborn of Mars. But the child lived. When Buzzy returned from a supply run, she showed him the living child.

"Get rid of it," he ordered. "It's unnatural."

Over the course of the next Martian year, Lynn produced another living child. She hid them from the local authorities, fearing notoriety and repercussions from Buzzy.

Nyota shivered. She had indeed killed the only man to have successfully fathered Martian offspring. "I must tell you something," she said, "something terrible." She confessed to Lynn what had happened. "I am so sorry. I loved him."

Lynn sighed. "I knew he was seeing other women. Have you been to the clinic?"

Nyota shook her head. "I am on leave, but I will go to the clinic." She hadn't considered that she might be pregnant. "What will you do now?"

Lynn sighed bitterly. "I'll continue to work and when the boys are old enough, I'll tell them about their cheating father and how he was killed by his mistress."

Nyota looked down."Please forgive me." She knew she could not forgive herself.

"Give me your child - his child - and I will forgive you for killing his father."

Nyota wept. Before the next Martian year, she had given birth to a living child, a boy. He was a dark-skinned version of his half brothers, the image of Buzzy.

Nyota went back to the ship and never saw her son again. In dreams, she relived the terrible night she had killed Buzzy and the day she gave up her baby to his wife, a life for a life.

But it was really two lives, as one of them was hers.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:05:32 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The challenge was to write a story about a character who can control all the minds on Earth.

This challenge was run by Daniel Johnson.
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:09:28 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

Ivy and Justin

K. Vesi

“Justin, I told you a million times!” Ivy called out as she sat among her stuffed animals. She had arranged them in a semi-circle so that she could see all of them and they, her.

Justin peered out of the doorway of their shared bathroom, toothbrush in hand. “Actually, it was three.”

“So, this is four times: it’s mine!” Ivy said. “I’m the one who found the marble.”

“I’d call it a sphere,” Justin said, coming into the room, having finished his morning routine. “I know you found it. I just don’t want to go to school today.”

“No, school is important. I like school,” she said. She picked up the robin-egg-blue sphere and looked at it with one eye squinted closed.

“What you did yesterday makes me scared,” he said. “I need some time to relax.”

“School is so much fun. I think I should make everybody go to school, even Mom and Dad!”

“No, Ivy don't do that!” said Justin. He plopped himself down just outside his sister’s stuffed animals’ admiration perimeter.

“Only kids go to school. And who’s everybody?”

“What do you mean?” she said.

“Everybody on our street, or our country, or the world?” he said.

“How would I know? I’m only in grade two. If you look at it close, you can see clouds.”

“Clouds?” said Justin and he leaned in to have a look. “Wow, and you can see the continents. This may mean when you say everybody, it's the world. Tell me, what are you thinking right now.”

Ivy smiled. “Umm….”

“Justin, Ivy,” said their mother as she opened Ivy’s bedroom door. “We just got a call. There will be no school today.”

Ivy beamed; Justin’s body slumped with relief.

“The teachers will be cleaning the school today from top to bottom,” their mother continued. “Some health outbreak could happen if they don’t.”

“Mommy, the school is so gross,” said Ivy. “The corners of my classroom have this brown gunk and I pointed it out to Mrs. Praine and she said it was nothing.”

“Well,” said their mother. “Maybe Mrs. Praine did do something because the school will be cleaned. I’m going to work from home today, so if you need me I will be at the computer.”

Brother and sister listened as their mother’s footsteps faded away.

“Didn’t you want Mom and Dad to stop fighting?” said Ivy.

“Yes, I did,” said Justin. “We heard them talking about divorce. You had the sphere in your hand. All you did was wish they should love each other again and they instantly hugged and apologized to each other. But, Ivy, I think aliens made this sphere. If you controlled Mom and Dad like that, then maybe aliens plan to control us. The world is in danger. Where did you find it, anyways?”

“Umm, Justin,” said Ivy, nervously. “I did think of a few things this morning. Sorry, I forgot to tell you.”

“Ivy, what have you done!”

Justin jumped up and bolted out of the room. Ivy followed at a slower pace. She joined her brother on the front porch.

“Why are there loads of people outside walking puppies?” said Justin.

“Everybody gets a puppy,” said Ivy. “And everybody having a puppy is a good idea.”

A city van pulled up alongside an elderly couple. Two men got out of the back and handed the couple a leash with a very excited puppy on the other end.


Ivy turned her attention to where her brother was pointing. There were several city vans parked along the street. City workers were up on ladders, spraying the tree leaves.

“Trees will be pink?” said Justin.

“Not all trees, just some,” she said.

“I told you this before,” said Justin. “You only like the color pink because you’re a girl and television and the internet told you to like pink.”

“No, it’s my favorite color,” said Ivy. “Nobody told me to like it.”

“Fine. But you can’t paint trees; that will kill them. They’re green because of photosynthesis.”

“Photo what?”

“I’ll tell you about that later. Just stop people from painting trees pink.”

“Done,” said Ivy, the sphere in her hand.

Simultaneously, the city workers answered calls on their cellphones. They all got down from their ladders, only to go back up with cutters. They began to cut the pink leaves away from the trees.

“Thanks Justin. I don’t want to kill trees,” said Ivy.

“I know,” said Justin. “But we have to check something.”

They went back inside. Justin turned on the television.

“As quickly as it started,” said the newscaster; “The global initiative to paint some trees pink has ended. The paint was shown to kill the trees. However, the worldwide movement to give everybody a puppy is gaining momentum. This initiative will take decades, but it is a good idea. In health news, today is teachers-clean-the-school day. Stan has more on that. Stan--”

Justin turned to his sister. “Ivy, where did you find the sphere?”

Ivy’s face flushed; she looked down at the ground.

“I didn’t find it,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “You did, yesterday. You went to Lake Ontario and the marble was among the rocks. You brought it home and showed me. When you left your bedroom for a minute, I picked it up and wished I had been the one to find it. I think I made you forget you found it.”

“That’s okay,” said Justin and he placed his hand on his sister’s shoulder. “At least we know what to do. We’ll throw it back in the lake. I’ll do my best to throw it far. Maybe the aliens lost the sphere and can’t find it when it’s in the water.”

“Mom won’t let us go to the lake,” said Ivy.

Justin stared at his sister, knowingly.

“Oh,” she said.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:10:14 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The Pettiness Device

Jean-Paul L. Garnier

Bobby shifted around in his pocket and thumbed at the small device. He’d been too scared to push the button, but he knew that he couldn’t resist the temptation for much longer. Removing his hand from his pocket he switched the blinker on, signaling his intent to exit the freeway. The driver to his right sped up, blocking his passage, causing him to miss his exit. Glancing at the rearview his saw his face contort in grimace. His fingers found their way back to the device and without thinking he pushed the button. The blinker still flashed. He turned his head to the right and saw the line of cars back off to let him pass.

Off the freeway Bobby noticed that all the cars were yielding to him. When he arrived at an intersection at the same time as another car the driver waved for him to go first. He’d forgotten to turn the device off. He almost pushed the button again, then refrained, deciding to wait until the drive was over. It was smooth sailing for the rest of the ride.

The pettiness switch really does make life a lot easier. Do I actually need to turn it off? He didn’t say anything about leaving it on for long periods, he’d only said that the switch would turn off the pettiness of others. A strange pawn shop find. Bobby had bought the device on impulse, thinking it would be a good gift for his wife, who was always complaining about how petty people can be. As he was turning the knob of the front door he experienced a moment of hesitation and hit the switch once more before entering the house.

Tamara, his wife, sat watching the soaps, barely noticing his entrance. He threw his keys into the dish with a loud clank. Only then did Tamara stir. Without looking up from the TV she asked, “Did you remember to stop and get me more Chablis?” He had not. The strangeness of the courteous drive had made him forget all about her request.

Bobby was about to leave the house again, for the forgotten errand, when he decided to push the button. His fingers hadn’t left the device when he heard Tamara call out, “Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you’ve had a long day, and we still have some Chardonnay. Why don’t you sit down and I’ll pour us a glass.”

He was shocked. She was never kind to him when he got home from work. Usually she just wanted to give him an earful of TV gossip and complaints. She was still talking to him, but he didn’t hear. On the television a political debate was taking place, but the candidates were not debating. Instead, a series of apologies were taking place. The talking heads praised each other and spoke of each other’s favorable qualities. What could be going on, did the world change on my way home? Is this my doing?

He thumbed the device once more. The politicians froze for a minute with shocked looks on their faces. As they returned to arguing his wife spilled wine all over the floor. “Damn it, Bobby. I thought I asked you to pick up Chablis. You know I hate Chardonnay in the early evening.”

He pushed the button again. “Oh, how clumsy I am.” Tamara said to herself as she grabbed a towel and started cleaning up the mess. On the television the argument reverted to an almost sycophantic shower of compliments. Each candidate patiently waiting for the other to finish before rebutting with a comment equally polite.

Bobby went into the front yard to clear his head. Passersby waved from car windows. He pushed the button again and watched their demeanors change. The waving stopped as people ignored him and went back to navigating the thick traffic. A hand extended from a car window and from the hand extended a middle finger. The driver shouted insults at a passing vehicle. Bobby couldn’t resist hitting the button again, and again the moods of the drivers changed. This thing really works. Pettiness disappears instantly when I activate the device. I could do a lot of good for the world with this thing. He shuddered at the power that rested in his palm. Quickly he shut it off, fearful of the awesome control he now had over others.

Walking back in the house he was greeted with more of Tamara’s complaints. He sat on the couch trying to ignore the insult. The politicians were back to their mud-slinging. Tamara already seemed drunk. Her volume was rising in intensity. I can do something about it, why shouldn’t I? The allure of the button tainted his judgement and he pushed it without further thought. Tamara settled down. Through his thoughts he even heard her utter a kind word.

His mood sank. Why didn’t the man at the pawn shop warn me? This device may turn off the pettiness of others, but every time I reach for the button I’m being petty myself… Bobby sat up from the couch and went outside once more. He hit the button one last time, turning the pettiness of the world back on, then lifted the lid of the trash can and chucked the device in with the rest of the rubbish.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:11:10 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

Meal Time

Thomas Wm. Hamilton

Radu adjusted the helmet he had taken as a souvenir of his last banquet. Six scientists had provided the helmet, as well as
a delightful meal. But what were they concocting with this device? Radu fingered a switch on the helmet, wondering if he dared flip it. After a brief hesitation--flip!

A feeling of immense, nay, unlimited power. Radu suddenly recognized he controlled everyone. Their minds would obey his every whim. So simple. He enjoyed type O blood, whether positive or negative, and AB, but only positive. A bit of culling, and selective breeding, and he could enjoy his favorites for as long as the Sun permitted life to survive on Earth.

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Post July 12, 2017, 08:12:08 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The Lily Pads of Your Minds

Gareth D. Jones

Guillaume yawned and stretched in the warm comfort of his bed, blinking against the sliver of sunlight that laced his pillow. He needed a decent coffee to wake up to. He closed his eyes and stretched his mind instead. His perception leaped away - he always pictured it being like a frog – and landed briefly on the mind surface of Marissa Hesketh who lived in the apartment below. Minds were like ponds, some of them dark and murky, and Guillaume could rest briefly on the surface, as though on a lily pad, observing without interfering. Marissa was pouring a bowl of Low-Cal Special cereal, being ‘good’ to fit in with the fitness zeitgeist. The cereal wasn’t particularly tasty though. Guillaume decided to cheer her up. He dipped a finger below the surface of her mind, if indeed frogs have fingers, and nudged her towards adding chocolate chips to the bowl. That made it much more tasty, and honestly who cared that she was a size 14 instead of a size 12?

His mind hopped down another floor and outside the door where the whistling postman was walking down the path and thinking about how nice it must be to deliver the mail in sunny Bermuda instead of chilly London. There he could wear Bermuda shorts all year. Did they wear Bermuda shorts in Bermuda, or was that just a stereotype like French people wearing strings of onions and Mexicans wearing big hats?

Across the road a dog walker was heading for the corner of the street. Guillaume decided not to delve into the mind of someone who choose to walk around carrying a plastic bag of dog poop.

Around the corner, on the main road, a student was heading for college and thinking, seemingly, of nothing.

A bit further along the road was the coffee shop. Janine was in the midst of serving a self-important businessman in a dark suit and bright tie. Guillaume diverted her mind from that task and set her about the task of preparing his creamy mocha latte deluxe.

“That’s not my order,” the business man snapped.

Janine ignored the man and finished off Guillaume’s drink.

“Now, see here…” the businessman tailed off as Guillaume hopped over to him and impelled him to take the drink from Janine and leave the shop without his own order. He headed along the main road towards Guillaume’s side street and handed the coffee on to the postman who had just finished the row of houses. The postman returned to Guillaume’s apartment block door and paused. Guillaume sent Marissa down to collect the coffee and bring it up to his own door. By this time he had climbed out of bed and put on his robe.

“Thanks, Marissa,” he said and closed the door on her bemused face. He took the coffee into the kitchen and sat down to enjoy its strong, smooth flavor. First task of the day complete. Time to get on with taking over the world. If only he could figure out what he wanted to do with the world once he’d taken it over.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:13:09 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge


Roderick D. Turner

“So, how would you like it if—”

“What? You could do anything, to anyone, anytime?”

“You know how it goes, Lace,” he says. “Chance like this comes along once, if at all. Take it or leave it, I’m either in charge or I’m relegated to being your consort for all eternity.”

“Not,” I say.

“Not what? Your consort?”

“I would not like it,” I say. “Turn it down.”

“Lacey, it’s like winning the ultimate lottery. Hold the reins, the power. Do whatever I want, with nobody to tell me what to do.”

“If you were any less perceptive I’d think I was living with a celery stalk,” I say. “Do you not get it? Even for someone with your thick skin, it’ll drive you insane. Think about it. Even you must be able to see what it’s all about.”

Ford glares at me, shakes his head. “No. It’s you that doesn’t get it Lacey. Someone walks up to you and hands you a billion dollars, shakes your hand and says ‘it’s all yours buddy, go crazy,’ you don’t just give it back. This, this is even more incredible. You saw what I could do, just for that moment. After the angel, or whatever, gave me my free trial.”

I walk to the apartment door, fling it wide. It slams into the planter and knocks my prize roses to the floor, soil scattering across the hallway. Scream in frustration, clenching my fists to my sides. “Your mind is made up,” I say, the words clipped and forced. “So get out.” I look at him, daring him to object. “I don’t want to see you again.”

“Lace, take it easy,” he says. But I see it in his eyes, he’s already on the ego trip, the power high, the drug of his own omnipotence. He stands in the doorway, looks back at me. “You know I’ll be back,” he says. “And when I show up—” he squints at me, the confidence oozing from him like a toxin, “well, you’ll be glad to see me.” Then he turns, steps into the hall. And I slam the door behind him.


The next day, it all begins. In only the first afternoon, war is declared between the United Nations forces and the non-UN Alliance. Missiles fly, but no nuclear warheads. Thousands die. There is not a country in the world that does not feel the impact. There are rumors of an island in the Caribbean, entirely spared from any disruption. But even with the isolation, the physical separation, the effort Ford makes to distance himself, I can feel his anguish. His every whim catered for, but his world falling apart around him.

He lasts for three days. When he shows up at my door, I am ready for him. Prepared to have my very soul adjusted, adapted to meet his needs. But he does nothing to change me. Stands in the hallway where, days before, he strode away with such arrogance. A broken man now, eyes wild with horror. Leaning against the wall, unable to speak.

“It’s the knowing,” I say. “Isn’t it Ford? Knowing all. Too much for any one mind. Knowing what’s happening, and being unable to manage all of it at once. Even if you don’t want to help, tell yourself you don’t care, it’s a lie. But you can’t control it all.”

His gaze finds mine, and for a moment I see the man I knew. “Take it away, Lacey,” he whispers. “For God’s sake. I can’t stand it.”

I walk forward, cradle his head against my chest. “You’ve taken the first step already,” I say. “The rest is just time.”

He clings to me like a drowning man. “How do I get rid of it?” he moans.

“Someone else is already taking the offer,” I say. “Already making the same mistake you made.”

He pulls away from me, and I see his face change as I watch. Stress and burden lift from his entire frame, the weight of the world suddenly removed.

“How did you know?” Incredulous, awed.

“The year before I met you,” I say. “The crisis in Pakistan.”

His eyes grow suddenly huge as he stares at me.

“Yes, Ford. I was God for a day as well.”

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:14:06 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

101 Uses For Mind Control Slaves

Frank Martin

“So who did you buy?” The elite demon shell loved misery - in others. He liked smelling the sweat from fear and hopelessness oozing out of enslaved humans. A common trait among mind programmers and carvers who afflict pain to literally cause human products to lose their mind for the purpose of recreating new thought patterns and personalities.

The transaction was held in a dark, underground area, which had a maze of secret passages for various ritual abuses and black market activity.

The human shell (body) becomes nothing when the demon suppresses the soul and moves in. The programmer was named Arieack. He wreaked with stench, combining his inward and outward filth. His face was in a perpetual smirk, frozen like a sinister mannequin.

“I got me a celebrity singer, Lady Abele. I knew I wanted her when she disrobed on stage at a bar last month. The demons in her went wild.” The middle easterner grinned with a animalistic predatory like gleam in his eye. His name is Emir Sheikh Nahyarum. Oil and munitions was his trade.

“Her handlers were giving away samples that night, but she was so tranced, she didn’t know who she was or where she was at. I like it when they can’t resist. I had one sometime back who cried while I was on top of her. Some part of her must have felt shame, but the chip held her in place,” the Sheikh said transfixed on the hallway.

This son of an oil sheik knew his share of fleshbots. He was robed in the garb of his country, but you could feel he was murderous.

From down the corridor, handlers were escorting Lady Abele to the prospective buyers at the end of the hall. She was a world star, but also a unknowing prostitute. Owners worked their human property to make money in many ways. This weekend, she was a mindless whore, devoid of self awareness.

As they reached the group of men, one of them signaled with his finger to undress her. They stripped her naked as the men leered at her while walking around her uncovered body. Some of the men smelled her in various places like a dog. With flagrant carnality these men salivated, drooling onto their clothes.

The bidding was fierce and fast.

The top bidder scooped her up and carried her to his limonene, leaving her cloths in a pile on the ground where she once stood.

Meanwhile, the dark lord was watching everything. He was not omnipotent like his Creator, but he was able to see through the eyes of every human slave he controlled.

He orchestrated the abusing of humanity, turning the stability of their world upside down, deprecating on their morals, until fear reigned. Then he could take his human form, becoming the world leader, their dark savior. He controlled everyone, except for a few who were devout to God. The Almighty took care of them.

The Sheikh drove to a secret place and carried the nude superstar into an abandoned warehouse owned by a member of the dark alliance. They own every titan of industry.

Lady Abele was strapped to a gurney as he laid out his instruments of torture onto a metal table. Rats scurried by his feet, the only light being hand held palm beacons.

He placed a probe between her legs, fastening it with electrodes. He draped a serpent around her breasts, which slithered in every direction. The switch was in his hand. He pushed the button. Volts of electricity surged through her reproductive organs. She screamed in agony. The snake bit her with each twitch and every verbal sound she made.

The Sheikh gave her a shot of venom antidote. After a few minutes, he jolted her again. She screamed with all of her might. The snake made numerous puncture marks on her stomach. She was given more antidote.

She passed out. The Sheikh pulled out large scissors and cut the head off the snake. It’s body twisted for a short while and then both parts died. The blood trickled off her body.

He pulled out large pins to torment her further. She was awaken with drugs designed to keep her conscious and more drugs to heighten the sensation of the pain.

She was programmed not to speak, but as the Sheikh approached her with the needles, she mouthed the words ‘please no’.

He rammed a pin into her foot and into the bone causing her to scream bolting up from the gurney, breaking one of the restraints. He shoved her back down tying her once again to the table and proceeded to grind needles into her bones for hours.

Early the next morning, the Sheikh took her limp body back to where he had paid for her the night before. He placed her nude form in the arms of her handler and said, “Thrilling experience.”

The handler was given a packet of money and the Sheikh left.

Lady Abele was placed in a robe and taken to a basement area of a hotel owned by the alliance. After bathing her and giving her more drugs to bring her around, the programmer came in and worked on her for the rest of the day.

Her handlers dressed her for a concert later that evening. She looked robotic and tranced as they shoved her onto the stage.

“Do you think she is physically and mentally ready to perform after last night?” her manager looked at the handler pondering what he had just asked.

The handler said, “She doesn’t remember or feel a thing. The technology is advanced.”

As the curtain opened, Lady Abele was sitting on a stool with a mic in her hand. She stared at the audience and then began to sing.

A tear rolled down her cheek.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:14:54 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men

Haydn T. A. Jones

‘Queen’s Knight to King 4,’ Billiot thought. He watched with immeasurable glee as the man did his bidding, leaping over another person and landing on the desired spot.

“Hmm what next,” he said to himself as he spun in his chair. He looked at the various monitors that displayed live feeds from all over the planet. London, Beijing, New York, Paris, just to name a few. He was king of the world and everyone would do as he decreed. The games were all progressing well and he was sure of victory in all of them. Ex chess world champion Billiot Reichenheim gazed upon his empire of games and smiled.

‘Queen’s Rook to King’s Bishop 3,’ he thought to one of the ‘pieces’ in Cairo. He watched as the man on the screen ran forward and shoved another person onto the floor. The ‘piece’ pushed himself up and trudged over to sit down on a nearby bench. A giggle erupted from Billiot’s throat. He always found it hilarious when a ‘piece’ was taken.

He yawned as he rose from his chair and stretched. He walked over to another line of monitors that displayed the prison cells of the chess grand masters. “Just a little bit more practice before I try again, after all wiping their minds is such hard work,” he muttered to himself, gently stroking his chin. Reichenheim made another move in the Bangkok game. He would succeed, surely he would. He had all the earth at his disposal.

‘Yes,’ he thought ‘I will win.’

He projected his next thought to all of earth, the pieces, the grand masters, he wanted all to know this: All the King’s horses and all the King’s men will make Billiot Reichenheim world champion again.

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Post July 12, 2017, 08:15:41 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

Absolute Platitude

Mike Dorman

Whenever I tell my story, the following objections inevitably arise: how did you come to possess such technology? How does it work?! To which I always reply…shut-up and listen! If I wanted my entire point disregarded, I wouldn’t have started speaking in the first place, thank you very much.

So yeah, I possessed the technology to control every living person’s mind—just deal with it—and what do you think I did? Another guy once scoffed, pointing out my missed chance at the NBA, to which I replied, “shut-up and listen!” Control over people’s minds didn’t mean I could make Spaldings swish through hoops.

I could, however, make my wife obey, and that was every bit as wonderful as you’d imagine. Apart from the obvious, Julie was also a competent cook, and I gorged on cherry cobblers and tuna casseroles until I couldn’t take anymore. And before you judge me unscrupulous, imagine your wife became like some 6th grade crush you couldn’t shake, no matter how mean you got. Or unfaithful.

So yeah, I cheated on Julie, if you want to call it that. Things were going well for me at work—real well—and I took my rightful spoils as the newly appointed CEO, upgraded the office right along with the house and the mistress. Julie was likely devastated, but I left her a handsome severance package, if not exactly any clue on where to find me.

Much like Julie however, my role as CEO also grew ill-fitting. A glorified insurance peddler? For one possessed with my persuasive abilities, securing the ventures of the more powerful was hardly what I envisioned. So I switched industries—sectors, if you want to get technical—and climbed into public office.

The campaign proved a pleasant distraction; at the very least, it delayed the full severity of my solipsist predicament so I could enjoy the adulating crowds and entire stadiums jam-packed with Julies, all wanting me--needing me--to save them.

You know that platitude about absolute power corrupting absolutely? It’s nonsense. I mean, if you’ve got all the power, corruption’s kind of a mute point. What absolute power does create, however, is absolute boredom. But it takes a while to get there.

So yeah, I became president, one with a House and Senate eager to mold my American dream with the corresponding bills and regulations. Can you imagine? With the rest of the world’s leaders kowtowing to my better judgment, there was no need for wars. After I tackled that global warming quandary—easily solved with a world government headed by yours truly—I got to dealing with the domestic fall-out. Jobs could neither be replaced nor easily created, to say nothing of the costs of my desired universal health care, so I came up with a novel solution, which isn’t to say it wasn’t without its ethical shortfalls.

Question: if cyborgs don’t have souls, are humans stripped of free-will any loftier? I ultimately decided that automatons are automatons, flesh or not, so yeah, I started killing people, if that’s what you want to call it. Shuffled them all into their voting locales and whoever rolled a six was euthanized.
At this point, my relationship with my daughter, Melanie, went south. Even though I let her boyfriend off the hook (he’d rolled a six), she couldn’t forgive me, called me a monster and the like.

How, you ask, could any mind-controlled daughter hate their mind-controlling father? Because—you guessed it—my daughter was exempt.
Believe me, during my down time, I often thought of acquiring Melanie’s affection the easy way, but, cliché or not, love ain’t love unless its freely given. Couldn’t she see I wanted a better world for her?

“Don’t worry, I won’t be staying long.”

“Melanie!” Sitting up in my chair, I shot a look at the agent responsible for this barging-in. Looking at my daughter, I smiled. “What a nice surprise. Come, take a chair—“

“—Did you block my passport?”

“How’s…what’s his name again…Ricardo doing? He still playing in that band?”

“Did you block my passport?”

I leaned back, sighed. “I can’t have you running off again. What if something happened to Mom and I needed to contact you?”

“First of all, for the life of me I don’t know why Mom still adores you.” Her green eyes, her wavy brown hair—all heirlooms of her mother—taunted me. “And second of all, you can’t control me, Dad. I’m not one of your lackeys—“

Try as I might otherwise, I chuckled. “Lackeys?”

“Yeah, and I’m not one of them.” She narrowed her eyes, a remarkable likeness to Julie. “And I’ll never forgive you if you don’t unblock my passport. Never.”

If you can’t imagine how I would miss behavior like that, than you’ve clearly never controlled the planet. Melanie was the only spot of sunshine in my drab, predictable world. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Just wait around until she saw her old man in a different, more forgiving light? Even if—miracles never cease—she did, I wasn’t accustomed to waiting. So yeah, I manipulated my daughter’s mind, if you want to call it that, and it was my biggest regret to date, because when Melanie finally wanted to spend time with me, I didn’t even like her. Her affection had no substance.

To think, I used to scoff at my theological upbringing. I mean, why would an all-powerful Creator sit back and allow his measly creations to curse and break his will, unless, contrary to canonized wisdom, he wasn’t as powerful as he was cracked up to be?

Now—too late—I know better.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:16:28 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

Mister Adjuster

Alexander D Jones

Clive's eyes darted from left to right and back again as he scanned the doctor's waiting room. There was so much wrong with it, so much that was - out of place.

To start with he set his sights on the notice board opposite him. There were various posters pinned in random places. There was no order to it. Clive winced. How could someone see that and think it looked okay? He couldn't get up and fix it though, that was 'not proper' according to his mother. There was another man who sat just under the pin board on his phone. Clive's eyes narrowed on him and he pressed his index and middle finger to his temple. The man stood up slowly and started taking the posters off the board.

The receptionist stood from behind her desk

"Excuse me, Sir,"

Clive sent her to the vending machine.

Clive had been able to control minds since he was about fourteen, he had no idea how the powers had come about but he liked the idea that he was able to fix all of the little misjudgments that annoyed him so.

Eventually the man finished putting the posters back in a more grid-like order. Clive allowed him to sit back down and return to his phone. As he did so the receptionist returned from her walk rubbing her forehead. She looked around the waiting room in a rather bemused fashion before returning to her desk.

As she did so Clive noticed her computer screen, more specifically the top of her computer screen. There were several small characters stuck to it. Unfortunately for both herself and Clive, they weren't exactly in line. Clive sighed. The receptionist would have to have a small break from her work while he helped her adjust them.

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Post July 12, 2017, 08:17:23 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The Day the Earth Moved

Martin Westlake

I know, I know; I know that I didn’t need to carry out the experiment, and I know that the answer was already out there. A quick search on the internet was all it required. I knew that. But I had my reasons, as you’ll see.

It took a lot of planning and preparation. Even when you control everybody’s mind, as I now did, you can’t just order everybody about. You have to think about where, and when, and not just how you get everybody there, but how everything will be managed whilst they are gone. And I obviously couldn’t have done all of that myself. Besides, I didn’t want to. That was the point.

So, the first step, once I had planted the idea in everybody’s mind (since I controlled their minds, nobody questioned the idea), was to get them to start talking among themselves. Since they all had the same overarching aim, the results were most gratifying. Peace broke out everywhere immediately.

The second step was for them to put the necessary structures in place so that they could transform their complete agreement about the end into a discussion about the means. Politics everywhere was transformed from the petty and the local to the noble and the global. There was a common project, and mankind everywhere devoted her - and himself to the realization of the dream. Poverty very soon came to be seen as an inefficiency, a distraction and a waste, and so it was very soon eradicated. Employment was full, very full.

The third step was the science. Man’s ingenuity and sheer scientific genius was put to work to calculate where and when. It wasn’t just about moving people there, but about enabling them to live – to eat and drink – both on the way there and on the way back. The European landmass was the obvious choice because of its well-developed transport infrastructure. Germany and the surrounding territory was chosen because of its motorway network and many waterways. The project would take time, it was agreed; time to develop everything and time to get everybody there (not to mention getting everybody back). A symbolic target date, 2100, was commonly agreed.

The fourth step was working out how. By 2100 there would be 11.2 billion people on the earth. How could they migrate safely to one place in the world, eating and drinking on the way (and waste products would need to be recycled)? What about the young and the old and the infirm? And what about communication and coordination systems? Never did the old dictum, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ seem more apposite.

The fifth step was implementation. The plans had been laid. The science had been established. Now it was time to put everything into action. The next eighty years were spent in harmonious endeavor and industry. It was immensely gratifying to see everybody – literally everybody – working cheerfully and conscientiously for the common cause. This was especially heart-warming given that so many of those working on the project would never see it come to fruition.

So, it came to the day, 1 July 2010, when everybody was in place and everybody was ready. Rehearsals had been organized on a local basis so that everybody knew how to act. Some twelve billion earplugs were manufactured and distributed. Hundreds of thousands of massive screens were erected and interconnected with sophisticated atomic clocks to ensure a completely simultaneous countdown. At ten seconds to midday, the countdown began and over eleven billion people started to count in all the languages of the world (well, almost all; I didn’t bother with the lost tribes people in the Amazonian jungle); ten, nine, eight, seven… And at ‘zero’ eleven billion people jumped in the air simultaneously and landed simultaneously, making a thunderous noise that would have burst eardrums, if it had not been for the ear plugs.

And the result? It was just as all those scientists on the internet had always predicted. Sophisticated measuring machines confirmed that when everybody had landed, the world had moved by about one hundredth of the width of a hydrogen atom. Yes, the world moved for everybody – a very tiny bit.

It took twenty-five years for the world’s populations to revert to their ‘normal’ locations. Of course, not everybody went back to where they had come from, and the very nature of normality had been changed irrevocably by the massive exercise that everybody had been engaged in for so long. And that was the point. The whole of mankind was now confronted with an existential bifurcation. Basically, the world could go back to the petty and the local, or it could stay at the level of the noble and the global.

It used to be said that if you gave a man a fish he would eat for one day, but if you taught him how to fish, he would eat for the rest of his life. I waited anxiously for another fifty years, but I needn’t have worried. Mankind had finally understood that the only thing in the way of mankind was mankind itself. Such scourges as war, water shortages, climate change, hunger, poverty, and disease had already become things of the past, and there they now remained. The world governance structures that had been developed to achieve the mass jump (as it had become known) immediately found new common projects; developing the technology to avoid asteroid impacts, colonizing the moon, traveling to Mars, and so on. All it had taken was one truly common project, by which I mean a project that had truly involved everybody. And that is what the world is now; a project that truly involves everybody.

The Earth moved in more senses than one at midday on 1 July 2100.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:18:12 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

A Confrontation of Wills

Sergio ‘ente per ente’ Palumbo

Frank’s life had always been unpleasant and full of problems, both financially and emotionally. At times, he even wondered why he had been born and what his true purpose on Earth was, or even if he had a purpose… For long, he had really doubted that his life might have any meaning at all.

Then, suddenly, everything had changed after he was involved, by chance, in a terrible accident at the Power Plant where he worked. The strange waste liquid he fell into really modified his life!

At first, it had been a pleasing sensation to be able to control the mind of people around him, even the minds of his enemies. He had gotten his revenge on some of them, especially the ones who had been the loudest in opposing him and making fun of how he lived his neglectable life.

After that, he had made a good use of his new capabilities to easily win the love of a few women who had always considered him to be weak, stupid or just unworthy of their interest. Before the accident they had probably been right, but now the worm had turned. After all his long years of loneliness and suffering he was in charge now! Now he could do whatever he wanted because he was able to force people around him to think and act according to his will. And he was content with the way things were…

Then the aliens revealed themselves. An unprecedented event in History! Many people had believed they had visited our planet from time to time, just to keep an eye on us, or simply to check out our behavior - not unlike what scientists and biologists did with wild animals or tiny insects.

But those aliens were much different from what everyone had imagined. First of all, they were not gray, their true appearance being similar to a small Coypu. And they weren’t affected at all by his new powers…

Certainly they had a brain, but he could not control them, at least not in the same way that he could control humans. Frank had already found out that his enhanced neurons couldn’t influence animals to do his bidding. Maybe there was something in those aliens’ unknown brain patterns that had similarities to animals, or maybe their minds were entirely different from humans’. Either way there was nothing he could try!

Frank didn’t know why those otherworldly beings had chosen to openly reveal themselves. Perhaps they had noticed that wars on his planet had ceased as soon as he had learned how to use his new powers, which forcibly stopped humans from killing each other. Now that Frank was in charge there were more constructive things to be done than being at war all the time, and all the people of Earth had to work together to advance civilization.

So why had they come? Did they just want to have a better look, or didn’t they like what they saw on Earth: one individual ruling everyone else?

Frank was dejected when he learned that the aliens had come to take control over him! For decades many humans had believed that creatures from other worlds might be endowed with telepathy, because there were reports worldwide about aliens who had displayed a strange influence over people whom they had chosen to examine during abductions, supposedly. It appeared that those aliens had never been capable of using their great powers over a large number of people at the same time – which Frank could easily do.

So now, everything was different! They had found the alpha human, though he had been endowed with such powers by accident. Therefore, all they had to do was take control of a single man, him, and they could rule over all the men and women by using his mind, once he was ordered to do as they commanded!

It had been so beautiful to move from his previous status as an inconsequential human to suddenly being the incontrovertible Emperor of Earth. And now it was so sad to have been thrown down his throne, only being allowed to be the aliens’ instrument of power, who exercised complete control over other humans by using his own powers…The new masters told him what to do, and he ordered the other humans to act accordingly. In politics, there had previously been a so-called Representative Democracy, or indirect democracy. So, was this a sort of indirect dictatorship, actually?

In the end, Frank woke up every morning after just three hours of hard sleep to face another long grueling day. There would be different commands given by those aliens that he would pass to other humans; he wouldn’t like all of them… But it had to be done. Not only couldn’t his powers control those aliens’ minds but his new masters could easily overpower him.

There was no real confrontation of wills because their willpower prevailed, always, and he simply couldn’t do anything to oppose them.

At times, a desperate Frank wondered why he was alive. Probably those beings needed him for now to achieve their purposes. They had already made some deep changes all over the planet - or better the people he ordered around had done unusual things and built strange metallic towers to make those changes possible. Would those aliens ever set him free one day? He doubted it…After all, had he himself ever loosened his grip over the men and women on Earth when he was the Emperor? So, why should they now?

A pawn has no will, he just moves as the master decides. Frank hoped in his heart that such a humiliating game wouldn’t go on for too long. He just needed their compassion or a way to end it all. However he also knew that, as someone once said, ‘Ethics and oversight are what you eliminate first when you want absolute power.’

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:19:07 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The Spider

Robin B. Lipinski

“Hey Fred, whatcha doing?” Fred is a spider in case your mind painted a picture of Fred being a fat, overweight, obese, pig of a man whose ancestors were once basket weavers in Nigeria.

“Not much Fred. Just hanging out and spinning another stupid web. Last one got destroyed by a praying mantis stealing my flies.” This Fred was also a spider and not one your mind painted a picture of as a female dancer from Egypt with a bikini and false teeth made in Iran.

“So, Fred, how is the condition of the world today?” asked by Fred, the first spider of this story.

“Let me check.” And with that said, Fred, the second spider pulled open the single door painted red. This door was hidden behind the third dimension of the fourth leg of Fred’s eight legs. As the door swung open, both of the spiders were assailed with the thoughts of all creatures of earth.

“Looks normal Fred. Though a little more anger in mankind lately. Should we dial their minds down a bit?”

“Yeah. Otherwise we won’t be getting any sleep what with all their teeth grinding and war mongering. We’ve been a bit easy on them lately.”

It may all sound a bit confusing with two spiders being named Fred, and maybe a bit unbelievable that they alone have access to the red door, a door opening to the possibility of absolute mind control over every creature on earth. Especially control over humans.

“Should we make the humans all hug and become vegetarians?”

“Nah, we tried that once, remember?”

“Oh, yeah, you’re right. Big bunch of hippies playing hackisack and eating tofu.”

“Yeah, that was horrible. It ended up with the world getting that awful 70‘s music.”

“Oh boy, do I remember that. Thankfully that experiment ended.”

“Yep, and now we have the war stuff and state of the art technology.”

The two spiders were from the same egg cluster. One could say they were two spiders but one in spirit. And that would be true as they were a continuation of spiders going back in time to where they were created and given the power to control. To guide. To keep everything in order.

Now, it must be said that spiders. No, strike that. Special spiders like Fred and Fred also had a sense of humor… After all, their boss, God, also had a sense of humor. I mean why else would God create spiders with control over every creatures minds on earth?

“Should we?” Fred asked Fred.

“We really shouldn’t…but…” Fred replied.

“Ah, golly gee shucks. Let’s do it anyway.”

And so, opening the red door and climbing in, both spiders quickly found the door painted green. Entering that one they entered the world of chaos.

“Which door was it again?” Fred asked Fred.

“Wasn’t it the purple behind the blue? No. Wait. Yeah, it was the blue behind the purple.”

And Fred was correct. After the red door, the green door, the purple, the blue door revealed the worlds of possibility.

“Hey, this should do.” Fred smiled.

“Oh boy, this is gonna be good,” Fred replied.

Soon, the entire population of the world; population of humans that is, were naked except for the colored grease they covered their bodies in for protection. Each and every human went about their business naked and painted with all sorts of colors.

It was this the spiders commanded the humans to do so as to take their minds off war, hugging, and being vegetarians. Soon, even Sonny and Cher were forgotten.

Life was good, and both Fred and Fred were laughing their little spider legs off.

It could be said that by spiders being given control over a world, they alone were the only creatures intelligent to control such power. Sure, they had their fun by playing games, but it was done for reasons beyond self, beyond desire for control or power.

It also should be mentioned that while humans were being controlled by spiders, in turn, humans loved to kill spiders. Remember this the next time you have the desire to squish a spider. It may be a common spider OR, it just may be Fred or Fred… And they may stop you from killing them and make you develop a love for spinach yogurt or develop a taste for what’s in North Korean sewer systems…

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:20:09 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

A Bouquet of Flowers of the Mind

Florin Purluca

I'm a modern demigod. One of the most depressed who ever existed.

But it has not always been so. I have been like you, once. The change occurred as a miracle, looking at a lollipop. A large, orange and glossy one, a vibrant color in the hand of a child wandering in a lonely, dusty street. I looked puzzled at her, in the sparkling light of the afternoon, and I thought of an orange. Round, succulent, hypnotic. A perfume like the madness of the cherry blossoms of May. An explosion of olfactory sensation culminated with the implosion of the phoning organ. But I was not scared. I said to myself that I had no reason to fear. I knew enough about autosuggestion. So all I had to do was channel my energy to another direction. That I did. Nevertheless, nothing changed. For twenty-four hours, through my preaching, the world continued to look built from a orange peel.

Nothing happened for a while, but then it was the taste of the night. Sweet, like a fondling chocolate. Dark deep, dense and bitter, expression of life after light. It was enough to close my eyes in the silence of the night, and the aroma progressively increased with the speed of a carousel. And that's when life began to flicker into me -- the flame of a wind turbulent candle. Stronger, faster, but with a sense of imbalance in the variability of the mind. Strong vibrations, superimposed on my thoughts, like a band of a million of lovers and mistresses that whisper to you that everything will be fine. But it was not, oh!, sweet lie of my impotence.

Falling over me, the voices, like a violent thunder. As the wave of a Leviathan rushed from the clouds into the sea. Billions of dreams, aspirations, love unfulfilled and sadness. Joy, regret and pain. A mélange of vigor with the breath of death. I was about to lose my mind and then He came to me. Invisible, with a marble voice:

-- Here, my child, this is my gift to you. A bouquet of flowers of the mind.

Without wanting, helpless, without knowing. As simply as that. A curse, like a beautiful gift.

It took me years to be able to stabilize and understand how to filter the billions of minds. A bunch of beggars, that's what they were. Once, being one of them, I fought and rescued them. I stopped the wars. I have brought peace and joy into their life, as a rare flower that rises every thousand years. And then they feared me. I had to be different. But it meant, for me, the chastisement. They hated me even more. But I knew the forgiveness, like the soft touch of a velvet blanket, and brought them the fruit of the Allocalips.

”Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

And it was done, according to His will, my will. Their rods, the rods of the pure ones, sang about the new Barabas. But how could I ever embrace betrayal, when my pain reverberates? I had become a poor man turned overnight into a wealthy and prosperous man, staring at his old friends. Even poorer, and more helpless.

And I put myself and thought about my soul, as no coins ever thought. I fell down and came through my brothers. I enjoyed life. I laughed when I had to cry. I cried when I should have laughed. I loved and hated those who did not love me despite my will.

Now I sit and look at the world, silently, perched on a steep bank, and marvel at His angel: the free will. I leave all my thoughts, the voices inside my head, to walk in their will and feel a wave of sadness as it slips over the sea mirror. I am the saddest demigod that ever existed, because once I was one like them and in my thirst after love and generosity I betrayed them. I despised their will and lured them, like I was in my turn, with a mirochant bouquet of the flowers of the mind.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:20:57 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

The Director

Ryan Harris

I shouldn't have done it. A year of my life that I'll never get back.

As a medical student, hopeful to be a doctor, the thought of playing God attracted me. Being in control of anything gave me a high that was almost bizarre.

A year earlier I had written an essay during pre-med. The topic was "How I Would Change The World." Looking back, the powers-that-be were fishing for a Director candidate. Most of my thoughts were the usual ideas: peace, environmental change, and improving health for people. My single deviation was to reduce population growth. I didn't specify how it would happen but they seemed to like it.

In class one Tuesday, I was asked by two well-dressed gentleman to talk in the hallway. They escorted me to an empty classroom and informed me they were commission agents for the Director Program.
"My name is Agent Jones," the taller, bald one said, "and this is my partner Agent Bodkins." They held up their ID's.

"What's this all about?" I asked.

"Just come with us."

I was promptly flown to New York City. Agents Jones and Bodkins took me to the United Nations General Assembly. There, I was ushered into a private meeting with Rhys Fairbanks, the Secretary General of the United Nations.

"Son, you've been chosen for the Director Program. It's an incredibly honor and an immense responsibility but we feel you can change the world for the better," said Fairbanks.

"The Director Program?"

"In short, it's a year-long contract in which you control the actions of everyone on the planet. Almost like a video game. You can influence legislative bodies, heads of state, the masses, whomever you choose."

"It's pretty sudden, sir. I don't know if I can handle this responsibility."

"I'm sorry, son, but the plans are already in motion. You have no choice in this matter."

I looked down, suddenly afraid. "What if I refuse?"

"Let's just say you wouldn't want that option. Take it for what it is and make positive change for Earth. You'll be flown to TrueScope Space Station for the duration of your contract. Sign here."
The Secretary General pushed a bleach-white piece of paper across his desk. I signed the appropriate line and was immediately flown to Cape Canaveral for NASA to do their part in my journey.

The thought of going to space was exciting but spending a year out there was daunting.

Viewing Earth from space can literally take one's breath away and make them tear up from the sheerness of spatial microscopy.

TrueScope was cramped but my sleeping quarters had the best amenities. Even with the grand room, I had to be integrated into the program at least twelve hours--more if I chose to do so.

The interface was quite easy to navigate. I spent most of my time, as I figured, in the category of legislators and lawmakers. My first few months were spent on population control and environmental improvement.

Being in control of the world seems like a great idea in theory. In reality, the job ate away at my emotions and gave me nightmares.

What Fairbanks or the tech experts didn't tell me, by choice or accidental omission, was the daily list. Lists of births and deaths popped onto my top-left screen every twenty-four hours. I learned not to click on the names except of the mandatory ten required of me. Selecting a name would give details of birth or death, along with a video of the event.

The one I recall most was a young boy by the name of Dillon. He was six years of age, inquisitive, and bright from what I'd seen of his historical footage.

My early months of being Director were filled with mistakes, one of which cost Dillon his life.

Population control was a directive option for legislators, lawmakers, and politicians. It was a command I used freely early on. Not realizing there were subcategories, my directive implied that population could be reduced by any means possible.

Dillon's death video was graphic. His native Brisbane was implementing mass murder as a means of controlling population. It broke my heart to see him running in vain from the soldier that killed him. It was something I wasn't prepared for.

After many a trial and error, I learned my way around the interface. Even so, any decision made became a painstaking process. I had to think about how many lives I would affect and on what scale it would affect the world.

Piece of mind over productivity was my ultimate decision in making it through the program with my sanity intact. It worked out and I came through as a changed man.
I've been a doctor for eighteen years now and I can say the program made me a better physician. People should not be deities, but being the Director is life-changing.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:21:43 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

Eric's Peace

Mike Wilson

Eric told himself it was all luck. He daydreamed a lot at work, sometimes good ones, sometimes vengeful. Then he would notice something on the news. A manager at some company known to defraud others set a fire and burned down headquarters. A group of disparate people gathered together and donated a large sum of money to a homeless shelter. Or an annoying co-worker suddenly quit, and left town.

He thought it was egotistic to think that he had anything to do with these things – it was just fate being kind to him. But things seemed to be taking a strange turn. Like that program he had recently seen on TV, called The Secret. “Ask the universe what you want, and the universe will deliver it.”

And indeed, Eric's track record of getting some of his wishes was getting good.

So it was that one day, he decided to focus his thoughts on something good and useful for humanity, as he saw it. He began to focus his thinking on world peace. He envisioned results from all nations putting down their arms, laying off most of their military people, except those needed for emergency rescue operations. The benefits of this seemed obvious to Eric: more resources available for humanitarian purposes all over the world.

And gradually it came to pass. Wars in the Middle East and Africa gradually petered out. New treaties were signed. Spokespersons said, “War has gotten old and tired. There must be a better way for humanity to settle differences.”

Suddenly populations that had lived in fear could settle down and get on with the business of living. Even reports of atrocities among tribes people in Central Africa dwindled to nothing. Wars ended, and the killing stopped. Humanity sighed with relief.

Eric was so overwhelmed with the results that he hardly dared think anything else for fear it would take hold. But he soon realized, ephemeral 'housekeeping' thoughts and impulses had little or no effect.

It took frequent, concerted thinking on a subject to bring about effects. Still, some things needed doing, and Eric did them. His boss did decide to give him a large raise, the restaurant he frequented decided to give him free meals more often than not, and many, many strangers suddenly bought the books he sold online. When Eric found a stylish penthouse condo he liked, it took some concentration. But the management decided to hold a special promotion of some kind, and Eric won the condo for $1.00.

The county tax assessor decided on a whim to value his property very low, so his taxes were minimal. The grocery store he frequented awarded him a first prize of free groceries for a year. Some people remarked on his amazing luck. But if anyone got too close, he would concentrate, and their thinking soon changed.

Eric had no trouble convincing desired sex partners to party with him. However, one time he had multiple partners, and things got out of hand. He couldn't concentrate on willing them to perform, and enjoy whatever he was participating in, at the same time. So some lost interest, and hastily left his condo. He learned to modulate his control and his desires to keep things within safe limits and under control.

The world slowly changed. The pace of living slowed. Peace and calm were good, but day-to-day life became nothing but more and more of the same dull routine. This became annoying to Eric.

So it was that one day, Eric began to meditate on total freedom. He had seemingly turned humanity into compliant sheep, moping along, doing nothing but his bidding. Now, he decided to set them free.

He began meditating on the concept of total freedom. “Do what you want! Take what you want! Get wild! Get crazy! Get naked! Live a little!”

At first, nothing happened. Folks at the grocery store talked in the usual dull monotone. People at work spoke in hushed, peaceful tones . Eric persisted.

Maybe it is like turning an ocean liner – I need to keep at it.

So he focused on people having an orgy in the street, or robbing a liqueur store, or staging a walk-out, before he went to bed.

Eric awoke with a start, hearing an incessant wailing. He rose, looked at the clock: 3:07AM. What the hell?

He looked out his wall-sized window, and saw flickering lights. Looking down, he saw mayhem. Crowds in the streets, fighting and throwing things. A few firetrucks and police cars, surrounded by mobs. Smoke rising, fires burning. Uh-oh....

He composed himself, and sat down. He began to think of peace, calm, settle-down thoughts.

The knock on his door brought him up short. He rose and slowly walked to his entrance. He peeked out the tiny spy hole, a seeming anachronism a short time ago. And saw several rough, angry people. They pounded on his door.

“Yeah, you. Come on out, you rich pig, we want to talk to you!” One of them spit on the spy hole.

Eric yelled “go away! I'm calling the police!”

“They're a little busy right now,” yelled one of them. “C'mon, give me that crowbar. We need to get in there and show this guy who is in charge.”

As the door splintered, and the lock gave way, Eric tried a last maneuver: Thinking calm, peace...

You want to put down that crowbar, you want to walk away, and leave the nice man alone...

Then, Eric 'heard' an overriding voice in his head. “Attack that rich bastard, and kill him! Destroy everything. Anarchy rules.”

The bearded, mustachioed man came up to Eric, but didn't hit him right away. He laughed out loud.

“What? You think you are the only human being with a talent? I'm only surprised at how easy it was to turn everything around. Almost like I had help or something...” Then the man shrugged, and swung his crowbar.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:23:59 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

3rd Place (tie)

Other People's Children

Genna Watson

As Caleb's spirit rose from his body, he could see himself being rocked back and forth by his mom, who was quietly sobbing. His body was soaking wet on the bathroom floor, lifeless. Even though he was only seven years old, he could sense, feel and understand ... everything.

And to think, only a few moments ago, he was on the verge of reaching Level 10 of Ultimate Dominion. This is the one thing Caleb wanted more than anything else in the world.


His shaggy blonde hair swooped down over his eye brows and over to one side. The red glow from his IP 2000 game player reflected upon his face. His demeanor was intense as he assembled his army for war, but his eyes were glassy and glazed. He was hunched over, pressing buttons, sitting on his bed.

There was an abrupt knock as his mom walked in. "How's it going?" She playfully straightened up his hair.

"Fine," Caleb said in a pleasant, but distracted voice. "I've almost made it to the end of level six."

"Listen kiddo, tomorrow is picture day at school and I want you to stop for now and get your bath."

"Picture day, that's so lame," Caleb said, still playing and slightly more irritated.

"Well, maybe so, but I want you to look your best.” Shelly had a new job as a realtor. It wasn't easy working a full time job and being a single mom.

Mom... You don't understand! No kid in my class has made it to level...."

"I know, I know. You'll just have to beat level six tomorrow."

"But mom" Caleb protested.

I'm not asking again." Shelly said. She always found it difficult, as a single mother, to juggle being Caleb's pal, and the authority figure.

"Okay, and remember, the maid service comes tomorrow, so you'll have to clean your room in the morning," Shelly could be a bit shrill at times.

"That's dumb," Caleb said. It was looking like he would never be able to get back to his game.

"I can't have them spending all their time picking up your stuff."

Caleb placed Ultimate Dominion on pause and put it on the bathroom counter as he ran the water. Caleb locked the door.

He turned the water down to a slow steady stream and sat down in the tub. He did a few quick splashes of water and ran the soap over his face and chest. He looked over at his game player on the bathroom counter and got an idea. He might as well put his time to good use. Caleb stood up. The bar of soap was under his left foot. There was a splash and a loud thump as his head hit the back of the tub.

A large portal opened up in front of him. He stepped inside to find a sunny hilltop in vivid color with a bright blue sky and green grassy hills. It was the battlefield from Ultimate Dominion.

With his game player in hand he pressed resume.

The words "You Are Granted Three Wishes," appeared on the screen. Caleb wished that no one could tell him what to do. Then he wished that he would live forever so he could not be killed in battle. Lastly, and most importantly, he wished that all of his wishes would come true.

He began assembling the finest army he had ever seen, known as the Vipers. They obeyed his every whim.

They faced one army after another and sliced right through them. They defeated the Robo Warriors, winning level six. Then they devastated the Predators advancing to level seven. Next was the Deadly Zombies for level eight, and the Alien Invaders for level nine. With his new powers bestowed upon him, Caleb was unstoppable. And he was having the time of his life...

"Caleb! Caleb!" He heard his mother calling. He loved her, but her timing was lousy. He kept playing.

Shelly stood outside the bathroom door franticly pounding, as the water slowly rose. "Caleb Jackson Thomas, open this door!"

He could not understand why his mother was calling him.

Winning level ten would give him automatic hero status at school, Plus, with his additional powers extending into real life, he could have whatever he wished, pizza, ice cream and no more baths.

His army clobbered his opponents. Every maneuver went flawlessly, but he continued to hear his mother's voice.

Shelly grabbed a hair pin and rammed it into the lock in a state of panic. It opened, "Thank God," she said.

The floor was cold and wet on her bare feet, as she rushed in. The blood diluted in the water was trickling over the edge of the tub. She screamed, grabbed him and pulled him out.

At that moment, a portal opened up a few feet in front of Caleb.

Shelly began mouth to mouth resuscitation to revive him. "Oh please, come back!"

The portal begin to close. The beautiful landscape of the battlefield begin to change into a bleak gray. The faces of the "Vipers" slowly turned to anger. The "Beast Warriors' he was fighting were filled with rage, aimed at him.
Their faces became hideous, misshapen and wretched. A fear washed over the boy and encompassed him.

As his spirit hovered over his wet body, lying on the bathroom floor, he could see his mother scooping him up and rocking him. He wished he could reach out to her. He wished he left the game alone. He wished a lot of things, but he was all out of wishes.

Unseen forces started pulling and tugging on him. There was a deep, insidious laughter from an evil presence in the room.

Shelly screamed as she felt something precious was being ripped from her arms.

The IP2000 game player rested on the bathroom counter. The screen illuminated a red glow. On the screen were the words, "Ultimate Dominion…Game Over."

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:25:23 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

3rd Place (tie)

For the Greater Good

Hope Gillette

Silence was the order of the hour, though the echo of rain could be heard on the parapets outside. Beyond the low thrum of the raindrops, the chamber was quiet, its sole inhabitant slouched in thought, staring intently at the object of his concern.

It had no eyes to speak of, but the orb at the center of the room was staring back at him--Ulor was certain of it.

That he should have come into possession of such a thing was unbelievable to the mage; the majority of the world had forgotten the very existence of domination relics. Hidden away, locked beneath piles of earth and the remnants of a lost civilization, this particular orb almost cost Ulor his life. And now he planned to use the relic. Insanity!

He squinted at the aquamarine sphere, held up on an elaborate pedestal of silver. Am I really going to do this? he asked himself. Can I sentence humanity to such a fate?

He knew the answer despite the doubts swirling through his thoughts. It was the only way; his last, final act before departing the world of the living.

"Master?" came a tentative summons from the Corridor of the North. "You called, Master?"

Ulor peeled his gaze away from the relic to acknowledge Hector, one of his most accomplished acolytes. He smiled at the lad, a boy of no more than 15 years, and motioned for him to join Ulor on the dais where he sat.

"Are you ready, Hector?" he asked. "Did you bring the snakesbane and yellow thrall?"

The youth nodded, setting down a box sealed with the herbalist's mark.

"Good. Very good." Ulor pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the internal creak of his old bones. Just one more task. Just this one thing¸ he reminded himself.

"Are we really going to do this, Master? Can we really touch the minds of everyone in the world?" Hector warily glanced at the domination relic. "Mind control...I mean...is such a thing really possible?"

The older mage nodded. "Indeed, lad, it is. And tonight we will right a very ancient wrong."

Ulor didn't expect Hector to understand the intent behind the night's ritual, and for that reason, the senior mage kept his plans secret. All Hector knew was to take the orb to a nearby cavern after Ulor's ceremony reached completion. There, in the depths of the caves, an ornate chest had been placed where the relic could be stashed safely.

Of course, Hector didn't know about the dragon living deep in the earth there. A dragon Ulor charged with keeping the orb after it was deposited. No one believed in dragons anymore, either, but only in an immortal dragon's treasure horde would such an item of power be safe.

"Now, Hector, light the snakesbane and place it in the basin by the Corridor of the South."

The youth did as he was told, his demeanor melancholy. Ulor couldn't blame him; all acolytes knew one day their masters would pass into the spirit realm through a great deed of magic, but few actually had to take part in the process. Even though Hector understood death was not the end of ends for their kind, it would be many more years before the budding mage would fully grasp such a concept.

The smell of burning snakesbane slowly filled the room, and Ulor took his place by the domination relic's pedestal. He was attempting something none before him had ever dared: to control the minds of humanity as a whole. He only needed a moment to complete his task, and that was likely all he would gain, even with power as great as his.

In one moment, he would implant a command--a notion to be maintained in the minds of humanity from that instant onward--as long as the relic existed to keep the magic going.

For all Hector knew, Ulor was going to put an end to the violence gripping every nation by the throat. He was going to quell the aggression in mankind and start an age of renewal. And Ulor was going to do those things--just not quite how Hector assumed.

"Boy," he commanded, "heed me, now." Satisfied Hector's unwavering attention was on him, Ulor continued. "Humanity is a burden on this world. We take. We destroy. We do not renew what we use, and we do not respect the creatures that have come before us. Humanity," he paused and placed his hands on the orb, "is a disease on this world."

The acolyte nodded, though his expression betrayed his uncertainty.

Ulor closed his eyes, tilting his face toward the heavens. Soon, he would be linked with every mind in the world; soon, he would put an end to the rampant, destructive flood that was humanity. He would bandage the wound of the world with one simple command:

No more children.

The ancient mage started his incantation.

The beauty of the domination relic was, of course, that it maintained unquestioning servitude. Yes, in the past such tools were used primarily to control one or two individuals at best. Ulor was linking to all of the human race, but he wasn't seeking total obedience. He just needed compliance in one particular matter...

A connection to the orb established, he reached out into the ether with his consciousness. Such powerful magic required the draining of his life force, but Ulor was steadfast in his task. Before the last moments of his life ebbed away, he felt the universal connection he'd been searching for.

A smile on his face, the body of the mage slumped to the floor, never to rise again.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:26:50 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

2nd Place

For a Mile or an Hour

Glenn M. Diamond

In a dim corner of a sleepy tavern off a state highway in the hill country of Wheatfield County on a muggy summer morning, three men stared at each other over a pitcher of watery beer. The felt-muffled thwack of billiard collisions punctuated the awkward silence. Two knew each other well. The third was Grimes, a hardware wholesaler from Granite City who had no idea where he was or how he got there. Only minutes earlier he was 100 miles away in his office writing up an order for toilet valves.

“Let me get this straight,” Grimes ventured, looking first at the rotund sandy-haired man sporting a ball cap with a tractor logo, and then to the slim dark-haired one in a western shirt and cowboy hat.

“You’re -- God. Right? That makes you...”

“Pleased to meet you, hope you guessed my...” started the other.

God interrupted. “Oh STOP. Doesn’t that ever get old?”

“This can’t be happening,” Grimes concluded.

“True, in a way,” God agreed. “If I were really here, your body would disintegrate into subatomic particles. I’m merely a construct. Like him. He’s actually chained in the Abyss, but sometimes I take him along on these... field trips.”

Grimes felt a sickening revelation. “Oh. I’m dead. That’s just great. Mighty strange afterlife y’all fellers got here,” he drawled for local effect.

The cowboy shook his head side to side.

Grimes looked at God. “Not dead?”

“Not even close.”

“Then this is some sort of a test?”

The others nodded.

Grimes nervously recalled the famous tale of a humble man from 4000 years ago who was pushed to the absolute limit. “Not a test of faith I hope. I’d rather not have my whole family wiped out, along with my -- goats or whatever.”

“Nothing like that,” God assured him then explained the rules, which boiled down to Grimes gaining control over the entire human race for one hour. Not their bodies, but their minds. Grimes must decide what to do with this unimaginable power.


“When you’re ready,” God instructed, “simply think the idea in your mind while holding up two fingers. The hour will begin, but for us it will be over instantly and we’ll return here.”

The two men disappeared. Next, the table vanished followed by the tavern and the highway. Grimes sat against an oak tree with the big summer sky flooding overhead. Think, he ordered himself. Don’t screw this up.

Grimes figured he shouldn’t exploit this to benefit himself directly. And being only a mental power, he couldn’t just feed the hungry or pay off everyone’s mortgage. But he needed to help everyone; give them something they needed. He thought about it mighty hard, but never was any good at puzzles.

“How the hell do I know what other people need?” It struck him before he finished the question, which in fact held the answer. “That’s it!” He checked it over in his mind to be sure, then again with two raised fingers. He’d barely blinked when the tavern scene reappeared, along with the world’s strangest drinking buddies.

God smiled broadly as he reached out to shake Grimes’ hand. “Excellent!”

The cowboy was sullen and defeated. This was going to cut down on business dramatically.

“Where did you get such an elegant idea?” God asked. “Being omniscient I already know, but you might want to tell Old Sulfur Breath over there.”

Grimes credited his mom. “She always told me I’d never understand others until I walked a mile in their shoes. But I guess an hour would work also. So that’s what I did, made people spend an hour in someone else’s life.”


A mysterious outbreak of telepathic empathy spread across the globe. People experienced the pain, the joy, the fear, the hopes, the dreams, and the nightmares of someone who, generally speaking, was their opposite.

The contrasts were between rich and poor, old and young, healthy and sick, black and white, and on and on. They could be separated by oceans or merely the walls of a house.

Throughout zones of war, fighters of opposing sides saw the world through the eyes of their bitter enemies and suddenly grasped the futility and immorality of their violence and hatred. They knew it was time to stop.

In the boardrooms of industry and the halls of political power, the elite witnessed the world through the desperate eyes of war refugees, sweatshop workers, or those sickened from pollution; all borne of greed, corruption, and bigotry.

Those who lived in poverty, oppression, fear, or ignorance discovered, through the minds of others, the inspiring power of self-worth, education, courage, creativity, health, and security. They would confidently begin to elevate themselves by boldly claiming their most basic rights.

Even the virtuous gained something; a keen perception of the darkness in the few truly damaged souls who remained a risk to others. Such knowledge was vital to protecting society in the most humane and proactive ways.


Back in Granite City, Grimes thought he nodded off for a moment, but took a sip of his coffee and resumed ordering those toilet valves. Over the next week he barely noticed the headlines that reported peace treaties, famine relief, and the voluntary recalls of dangerous products. He’d inexplicably begun volunteering some time at the nursing home down the street, and hadn’t had much time to read the news.

The End
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Post July 12, 2017, 08:28:00 PM

The It's How You Play the Game Challenge

- Winner -

Inside the Cave

Jason McGraw

The Dragon was watching his realm through the eyes of eagles when the Dragon felt a human entering the cave. It thought, “It must be the day of the Summer Ceremony.”

The Son of Summer stood in his white gown. The cobbles inside the cave were more jagged than those outside. He wore sandals that protected his feet from the sharp edges, but he was afraid to twist an ankle.

Four steps in, it was completely dark. The Son instinctively turned around but the entrance wasn’t there.

"Is this darkness an illusion or did I go somewhere else?" The Son of Summer stumbled, feeling for a wall.

A small voice spoke in his mind. "Looking for something?"

"The entrance," the Son said with a thought.

"Are you leaving?"

"No, just turned around." It was odd to speak with thoughts and to receive answers the same way.

"Good. Maybe I can help. Where would you like to go?"

"Home. But I know I can't. So I guess I’m looking for what’s next."

"Next in the cave? I am afraid it is all like this. Darkness."

"But you are here, in my mind. How are you doing that?"

"Very astute, my Son. Not every human that enters my cave can hear my voice. Most are too dim witted or else too busy wailing to understand me. But you are different."

“Who are you?”

“Your people call me the Dragon in the Mountain. I bring light to minds that are lost in the dark.”

In front of the Son, a view of the landscape appeared from a high place, like a mountain peak, only this view was moving. The Son saw a wagon returning to town. Further up the road was the town itself where peasants worked and merchants sold. The view turned. The Son saw the forest outside of town. Monsters with shoulders wider than three men and teeth longer than fingers were sitting around cooking fires. The details the Son saw amazed him..

“Do you see what I see?” the Dragon asked.

“Yes. It’s like the view of a bird.”

“An eagle, yes. I’ll show you the cliff where they nest.”

Another view opened to the left of the first. It was bright and just as real. On a narrow cliff stood a girl with thin arms and a stained, yellowed gown. Large nests protruded from every crevice the Son could see. The girl reached into these nests and pulled out bones, fur scraps, and old feathers. She dropped them into the ravine.

“That can’t be,” the Son thought. It looked like his sister. She was brought to the Dragon’s cave the year prior.

“That is your sister, the lovely Daughter of Spring. Here, share her thoughts, feel what she feels.”

The Son felt the wind on bare arms, the cold rock on the same hand that steadied his sister on the cliff. She wasn’t cold. She felt happy, almost ecstatic, to be standing there, caring for those birds as if they were family.

“You’re tricking me,” the Son said aloud.

“I assure you that I am not. I never deceive. It is not worth my time. These humans were also gifted to me.”

A third view opened to the left again. They were all showing at once now. This was a tall-grass plain with sheep and goats grazing. Men and women tended to them with children playing in between.

“These gifts couldn’t hear my voice,” the Dragon said. “They live simple lives behind this mountain.”

“Do you eat the sheep? Or their children?”

Laughter. “They feed themselves with what they raise. I am not cruel. Yet your lives are too short for me to be preoccupied with your provisions."


"You have potential, my Son, like your sister. That is why I told the Governor in a dream to send me the next sibling of the Daughter.”

“The Governor swears the choosing of gifts to you are by random lottery though it seems to be a lottery of peasant children..”

“Nothing is ever random. Someone or something always chooses. You are correct, I seemed to get the poorest of your lot. Nevertheless, all of these humans have a better life behind my mountain than they would ever have had in a human town.”

As the Dragon sent those words, the Son felt it was true.

“Humans are the specialists in deception,” the Dragon continued. “How many lies did the Governor tell during the ceremony of the Son of Summer?”

The Son spat. “He tells nothing but lies.”

“So far, I have shown you nothing but truth. When your sister stood where you are now, I did the same. She accepted my will as her own and I hope that you will do the same.”

“I know my sister. She wouldn’t let anyone control her. That’s how she won her lottery. She refused to go to bed with a wealthy man.”

“That is true. That is how she came to my attention.“

“What do you want from me?”

“I need a clever human to act on my behalf while I ponder more strategic matters. Your sister was the first. You will be the second."

"Who are you strategizing against?”

“Dragons, mostly.”



"Tell me more about your affairs."

"In due time, I will share what you need to know. It would take many human lifetimes for me to express more than an ounce of my affairs. Just remember that we will fight the tyrannical and the unjust."

"Okay. I’m convinced."

“You convinced yourself. I only presented Truth.”

“As you say.”

"Turn around."

The Son did. There was a large yellow eye with a black pupil that absorbed all light. In the eye, the Son saw warmth and mercy. The Son took steps toward that black pupil, tripping on rocks, falling, but still pressing on to be closer to that eye.

The End

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