Multiply Stuff 4

Kittygory’s Challenge 

Choose ONE of the titles and write for thirty minutes about it.Your story must have at least ONE human character, but it may have as many others as you choose. Be sure to state the title at the start, and the time you took to write about it at the end. A traditional story form, dialogue only, a poem, an essay – any of these is acceptable.

 The Bone

Freefall

 One Love

Hiatus

Pots of Gold

Jack did the final check on his suit and the wings that were going to put him into the record books. The wings were carbon fibre and nano tube technology. You could drop an armoured truck on them and not break them, yet they were light enough that Jack could pick them up unaided. The suit was the real miracle of engineering. It was designed to maintain a constant internal temperature. It didn’t matter if he was in the bitter cold of near space or the torturous heat of equatorial desert he was going to feel like he was sitting comfortably in his own home. The suit would recycle his waste and provide water for him, in its leg pouches were carefully designed food bars with sufficient calories and nutrition to keep him alive for weeks.

“Fifteen minutes to drop zone,” his pilot’s voice was professional. Tom knew he was being taped. He wanted to be known as the cool as a cucumber pilot.

Jack climbed into the suit. He pulled the hood up and fastened the face plate. Sherry gave a quick second check to the whole thing. Any number of things could go wrong. Jack had tried to think of all of them, but he was sure that there were surprises waiting for him out there. That’s why he was doing this.

“Five minutes.”

Jack nodded and gave Sherry a thumbs up.

“Communications check,” he said.

“Reading you five by five,” Tom said.

“Sounding good,” Sherry said.

Jack gave the thumbs up again and switched to his suit’s onboard air supply.

“One minute.”

Sherry, climbed out of the chamber and dogged the hatch in place.  Jack walked over to the outer hatch and put his hand on the latch.

“Ten, nine, eight,” Tom counted the final seconds. Jack felt gravity give up its hold on him. At zero he twisted the latch and stepped out of the plane. The hatch would close automatically in twenty seconds. Jack floated beside the plane and watched the telltales on his faceplate.

Everything was green.

“It’s a go,” he said and pushed away from the plane. He watched the plane drift away from him into the blackness of near space. Then Jack turned his eyes to the planet far below him. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The Caribbean was below him, but Jack’s eyes looked to the west. There was his target. He was going to be the first person to ever circumnavigate the globe by air without any mechanical assistance.

He would free fall until the air was thick enough for his wings to catch and lift him. He hoped to have enough speed at that time to carry him the rest of the way around the world.

Free fall wasn’t really the right term though. He was going to be moved and buffeted by all kinds of forces. Some he knew and expected, others would show up and try to catch him off guard. He would just have to trust himself and his team that they were prepared enough.

Jack shaped himself into an arrow and began his journey home.

Thirty minutes writing. Inspired by this story. 

Celticfrog’s Challenge

Since I have been struggling with depression for the last couple of months, I need some motivation.  Write about what gets you up in the morning.  It can be fiction or not, prose or poetry.  Length is up to you, but if you are writing prose let’s make it at least a hundred words.

 

Reveille plays on my cell phone and I begin the arduous journey toward consciousness.  After a night in one position I need to convince my joints to take up their vocation of movement once more. My wife sleeps through the cacophony of pops and cracks. The dogs look at me, then having determined that I am not going to leap up and feed them, put their heads back down and go to sleep.

I am envious.

Now that movement is possible I push myself out of the bed, flipping the covers back to keep the dog hair off my pillows. I shuffle off to the kitchen to make coffee, then head upstairs while the elixir brews. Looking for work sucks, especially when the only response to my resumes is a polite “no thanks”. I am too old, too educated, too…. whatever. It doesn’t really matter why. I can’t even get a minimum wage job.

Coffee’s ready. I pour the first cup and look at my day. I am still wrapping up at the place where I became just too expensive. Another few weeks and I won’t need to leave the house at all.  Only I will. I will look further and further afield until someone is foolish enough to hire me. It will pay the bills.

I put food down for the dogs and watch them eat with obvious enjoyment. I am responsible for them. They look to me to put food down, to let them in and out. I put the rest of the coffee in the thermos carafe for my wife when she gets up. I will work on the house and help her with her work. She’s halfway through the Master’s degree.

Later my son will get up and need a ride through the snow to work. They depend on me to be there. So I’m there. I do what I need to do to take care of my family. It is what I do. It is what I am.

I just wish it weren’t so hard.

Caghs’ Challenge

Write a short story (750 words or less) about something that goes badly wrong, only to turn into something wonderful.

It has to start as an ‘end of the world’ crisis, and turn into a blessing.

You may use any theme or storyline you like (within UFC guidelines) and it can be based on something that really happened, or purely fictional.

John (Wolfie) Mulholland scrambled away from the latest wave of zombies. Mrs. Dougherty was in the front row. She used to give him milk and cookies and listen while he ranted about the latest atrocity from school. Now she was trying to tear him apart. He kicked her knee and she fell to the ground. He felt sorry for her, but not sorry enough to die at her hands.

It just wasn’t fair! John’s rage brought him to his feet and he pushed the shambling neighbours away and made a break for freedom. His flight brought him to the edge of the escarpment where the fence had been crushed by a fallen tree. John ran up the trunk and leapt out into space. His feet struck dirt and started a small landslide. He splashed  into the river. Then it was raining zombies. John dove under the water and swam out into the current and let it carry him away.

He finally climbed out of the water and stripped off his wet clothes. His foster parents would have beat him for it. He didn’t care anymore. John used his hands to strip the water out of the fur that covered his body. It was a relief to be rid of clothes that didn’t fit quite right. That’s when he heard the screams.

His feet reacted before his brain could carrying him around a corner to where a mob of zombies had cornered a young boy. John yelled in rage and slammed into the group pushing them off the youngster. Zombies growled and mumbled, but they didn’t scream. The kid was also immune.

Some of the crowd turned on John and he found himself fighting for his life. John kicked knees, punched throats and whatever else he could manage. But it wasn’t going to be enough, there were too many of them.

Then the shotgun went off and the mob twitched as pellets tore through it. Again and again the gun blasted until the zombies ran off leaving John gasping on the pavement. The kid put the gun down and came over to him.

“I didn’t think there was anyone else alive,” John thought his voice sounded odd through the ringing in his ears.

“Thanks for the help,” he said, “I thought I was a goner.”

“I left the gun in my bag. They caught me by surprise and I didn’t have time to get it.” The gun was slung over the kid’s shoulder. “I won’t make that mistake again, but we need to get somewhere safe.

John faded in and out until the kid dragged him into a house.

John heard a shower running. “Good, there’s still hot water, but it won’t last long. We’d better share.” John stood under the hot water. He closed his eyes as it washed away both gore and despair.

Gentle hands scrubbed his back with soap. John sighed and leaned against the wall.

“Let’s switch.”

John squeezed to the side and opened his eyes to see his companion. The first thing he saw was that his rescuer was no boy. She was at least his age. The second thing was the soft red fur that covered her whole body. She put soap in his hand.

“Scrub.”

John carefully washed all the blood out of that miraculous fur.

“My name’s Peke,” she said, “Short for pekinese.”

“Wolfie,” he said.

“Hmmm,” she said running her finger through his wet brown fur. “Suits you.”

She stepped out of the shower and dried off. Wolfie followed her. She walked past the clothes in the hall and curled up on the sofa. John lounged in a chair across from her.

“It’s called Robson’s Syndrome. It’s rare, only a handful of cases in North America.” She stroked her side. “It causes the fur, and for some reason immunity to the zombie flu.

“Now what?” he asked.

“We wait a few weeks for the fever to pass, then we go and look for survivors. It will take a while but we’ll rebuild. We might even learn something.”

“And what are we supposed to do while we wait?”

She smiled and stuck her tongue out at him. “I am sure we’ll be able to think of something.”

Well, Wolfie thought, once you get past the whole end of the world thing, this was turning out to be a pretty good day.

Celticfrog’s Challenge

Write a short story involving three characters.  No more, no less.

It can be any genre.  Each character must have at least one line of dialogue.

“Hi Sally, now that you’re here, we can get this business plan off the ground.”

“Sure thing, Tom,” she said as she sat down and carefully arranged her pencils beside the yellow legal pad place in front of her.

“Now the product that we are going to release is-

“Just wait a minute, Tom. ” Sally frowned at her pencils and put one that was shorter than the others in her brief case. She pulled out another one and lined it up carefully with the others.

“Before we rush into talking about product details we need to be sure that we have the infrastructure in place to manage the distribution.”

“How can we talk about distribution if we don’t know what we are distributing?”

“Before we can take on a new product we have to know we have the resources to manage it.”

Tom shrugged and flipped through his papers and pulled out a sheet from near the bottom.

“OK then, distribution,” he said, “Since the product is electronic in nature the only distribution concern is whether our servers will be able to handle the increased bandwidth as our customers download -”

“Let’s not get into customers just yet. Stick with the topic.” Sally frowned at her pencils again and rearranged them. “So we need more bandwidth? How much space is that going to take?”

There was a loud snap and Bob cursed under his breath.

“Can I borrow a pencil, Sally?”

“No!” She put her hand protectively over her pencils. “Go requisition your own from supplies.”

“Here, you can borrow one of mine.” Tom rolled one across the table. Sally’s frown deepened

“If you just give away your pencils it will throw off the numbers for office supplies.”

“Can we get back to the business plan?” asked Tom. “I have another meeting.”

“I am sure we are all busy,” Sally said looking pointedly at Bob’s doodle that scrawled across his page.

“Right,” Tom peered at his notes. “Bandwidth, we don’t need any more space for bandwidth. If we do need to add something to the server there is a slot in the rack.”

“Good, then what about warehousing? Do I need to talk to Jim in Receiving about clearing some space?”

“No the product is electronic, it will be stored on the server and customers will download copies as they need -”

“We aren’t at the point that we can talk about customers yet.” Sally looked at her pencils then dug in her brief case and brought out a sharpener. She carefully sharpened all her pencils then lined them up again.”

“If the product doesn’t come through the warehouse, how will we manage inventory?”

“Inventory isn’t relevant.” Tom rubbed his forehead. “We will only have one copy on the server and a backup.”

“If we only have one copy, how are we going to make any money?”

“We sell copies of the product.”

“So we will be able to track numbers through shipping?”

“We don’t ship anything. Everything is electronic.”

“I don’t like relying completely on electronics what if there is a power failure. We need to have a backup through regular channels.” Sally stroked her hand across the pad. “Let’s put some product into inventory, just in case.”

“But-”

“Damn,” Bob said, “I broke another one. Can I borrow one of yours, Sally?”

“NO!” she said, “You’ll hurt it.” She put her pencils away and picked up her case.

“Get me a plan for inventory and supply management and we’ll meet next week.”

“Is it time for lunch yet? Bob said.

Qwith’s Challenge

Write 500 words or less in a fiction genre you don’t normally read or like.
Here are your choices:

Epic (It’s short so think of world building)
Historical (from Greek to Egyptian to Queen Elizabeth to WWII-doesn’t matter)
Gothic (Elements of Horror and Romance)
Spy Fiction Thriller (any setting)

For ideas, I suggest looking them at Wikipedia.

This is a challenge to stretch your writing skills so I know that writers will try something different.  The kind of characters that you choose to use won’t matter so long as the genre is something you don’t normally like or read.
Happy Writing!

Annabelle stepped off the train and beat the prairie dust from her skirts. The moon lit the town in stark black and white.

“Careful miss,” the conductor said, “You won’t be wanting to go too far from the station. This is a dangerous place at night.

Annabelle finished with her dress and sighed. Train travel was just so hard on clothes. She was going to have to just through the whole outfit away when she arrived. Without looking at the conductor she wandered into the streets.

This place gives a new meaning to ghost town, she thought, as she tied her back and stuffed it under her hat. Even the tumbleweeds were silent as they rolled through the empty streets. She  was about half way down the street when golden light shining from a window caught her eye.

“Now that is interesting,” she murmured to herself. She walked to the building and saw the moon lighting the sign. Sheriff

A tall man flung open the door.

“You shouldn’t be out here. It’s dangerous.” He pulled her into the office and closed the door.

“It doesn’t look dangerous.”

“Looks are deceiving, miss.”

“Call me Annabelle.” She took off her hat and tried to shake out her hair. “I could stand the dust and grime better if I could just keep my hair clean.”

“I have water and a bit of soap..”

“Oh, I declare, you are a saint.” Annabelle went to the wash stand. She unfastened her dress and let it fall. “No peeking,” she giggled. Standing in her petticoats and undershirt she poured water on her hair and tried to work the soap into the tangled mess.

“Here, let me help,” the sheriff said, “Don’t worry my eyes are closed.” He worked the soap through her hair with his strong fingers. Annabelle sighed and gave herself over to the luxury of having someone wash her hair. He poured cool water over her hair and rinsed out the soap. She shuddered with chill. The sheriff’s hands squeezed the water from her hair and gently brushed water from her shoulders. His hands were warm and calloused. She turned in his hands.

“Hey,” she said, “Thought you had your eyes closed!” He shrugged and grinned disarmingly.

“Well anyone who can get my hair clean deserves a peek.” She let the thin straps of her undershirt slip off her shoulders.  He reached out and brushed a strand of damp hair from her face. She caught his hand and kissed the inside of his wrist, chuckling at the groan that escaped from the handsome stranger. He stepped in close and she raised her lips to meet his.

At that moment something started howling from the other room and the front door crashed open.

“Damn zombies,” he shouted as the stumbling undead pushed into the room. “Grab a gun and aim for their heads.”

Annabelle snarled and bared her fangs. The sheriff looked at her and laughed.

“You’d love it when the aliens come…”

Catch up on 30 Days of Text

We were at Sascha’s dacha looking out at what would have been a beautiful lake view if it hadn’t been for the full scale blizzard that tore across the landscape. It really was a pity, the view was gorgeous. I turned away from the window and looked at my colleagues lined up like a jury of my peers, each ready and eager to act as my final condemner.

I had been brought here to answer for the unorthodox stylization of my newest ballet. “White Crane Marsh”. It appeared that my combining of heavy metal rock guitars and ballet had disturbed everyone from the dancers to the metal heads. Who knew? All I wanted was to use an instrumentation that hadn’t been heard thousands of times before. Of course as my agent, who sat uncomfortably on the bedsitter in the corner, had told me that was probably for a very good reason.

“The clash and noise of the guitars, it throws my timing off.” Rudy complained.

” ‘ow can a bloke enjoy some good head banging music with you prancing about the stage?” Bob, from Ice Maiden, said.

“Oh knock it off, Bob,” I said, “You’re no more British than I am.”

“Hey, bub,” he said, “Do you need a refresher in pain?”

He got up and stomped toward me, but Rudy just yanked him back to his seat.  He wagged a finger in Bob’s face.

Bob didn’t scare me, he got out of puff drinking beer. Rudy on the other hand was terrifying. He could dance for hours and never break a sweat. He must have scared Bob as well since the bassist just sat with no more bluster.

Sveta shook her head and looked at me more in sorrow than in anger.

“The dance is coming up on the rota for performance,” she said, “We must either dance or pass on the opportunity. I don’t find the music any worse than the inanities that forms most new dance. I think what we seek is a little…..balance.” She fired me a look that made me feel colder that I would have sitting out in that snow.

“I can look at the score again,” I said, “I am sure that we can find a happy medium,” I chanced a quick glance at Bob, “or perhaps a less disgruntled large.”

Bob grunted and Rudy nodded.

“So that is it,” Sveta stated, “I will give our … composer here a reminder of the limits of polite experimentation and we will hear what he has for us tomorrow.”

“I will stay up all night working on it,” I promised earnestly, that’s me, always the eager mender of my mistakes.

The others left to find their rooms while Sveta curled up beside me.

“Let’s see,” she said, “where shall I begin?” She walked her fingers along my arm. “Let’s start at the top…”

Mystydragon’s Challenge

Write a poem from one of the following formats:

Couplet

Quatrain

Sonnet

If you are not familiar with poetry, this link will explain the formats:

http://www.poemofquotes.com/articles/poetry_forms.php

While my back was turned old age came sneaking.
Even the dogs laugh to see me grunt and moan
And lie about, their task to warm the bed.
Fickle weather leaves my old bones creaking,
Each joint loosens with cacophonous groan.
While young dogs run impatient to be fed
Aches and pain accompany my routine
While cracks and pops add a percussive beat.
Movement is the remedy for stiffness
The tasks and trials today can be seen
Yet dance is  the shuffle of tired feet
It is early to give in to grimness
This growing old may seem to be a curse,
I do think the alternative is worse.

30 Days of Text Day One: Your warranty has expired.
Frank sat despondent in the empty room. He had known the day was coming. Who wouldn’t? It was preceded by a seemingly endless series of messages announcing the fact. The truth was simply that Frank didn’t have the money to purchase the extension that those messages wanted to sell. So as of the moment he got out of bed, the warranty on Frank’s life had expired.

He got out of bed as usual and pulled on his boots, but both laces snapped. He waited looked for the spare laces, but they weren’t there. The coffee machine malfunctioned and flooded the kitchen with scorched coffee. Tessa had taken one look at the mess and gone upstairs to pack. She didn’t want to live with someone past their date. He couldn’t blame her. After the day he had he didn’t want to live with himself either.

So now he sat slumped with exhaustion waiting for the end. If he was lucky he would fall on the sharp edge of the axe and cut his throat before he woke in the morning.

Sumax’s Challenge

There’s an empty room with a smashed plate on the floor and food dripping down the wall near the door.

In a short story, tell us what might have happened … and don’t make it the obvious wife/husband or sibling argument..

The sound of power equipment grew louder until, if anyone had been in the room they would have been able to watch the cut saw blade carve a rough square from the floor. The piece of floor fell away landing with a crash on the wall covered with broken glass, shattered dinnerware and the remains of a romantic dinner. A firefighter in full gear crawled through the hole. She stood on the cheerful yellow wall.

The kitchen was a shambles. With the house turned on its side all the appliances had crashed into the opposite wall burying themselves in the expensive cupboards. Anything that wasn’t fastened down was part of the rubble. A single picture still hung from a nail in the upper wall. “Home Sweet Home” it said. As the firefighter looked at it, it fell with a tinkle of breaking glass.

A ladder was being passed through the hole in the floor and another firefighter followed it.

“What a mess!” he said.

“You haven’t seen my son’s room have you?” said the first firefighter.

“Let’s get moving, the Chief is worried that the whole thing will give way.”

“No argument here.” They manoeuvred the ladder to reach the door in the wall above them. One at a time they climbed the ladder. Working their way through the sideways house provided some new challenges, but they persisted.

“What’s your status?” squawked the radio.

“We are at the back of the house now. It seems stable enough. We are going to work our way toward the second floor.”

“Be careful. It won’t take much to shift the centre of gravity and send the entire structure to the bottom of the hill.”

“Gottcha, Chief.”

They began edging away from the floor they had been climbing. Every creak or groan of the wood made them pause. Here too falling objects had put holes in the walls making it easier to follow the studs, but creating new obstacles to traverse.

They reached the ceiling and assessed the situation. The stairs were over to their left, and down.

“We need to cut through.”

The first firefighter just nodded and pulled out the compact cut saw she had used to gain access to the kitchen. She cut through the plaster revealing the ceiling joists. They were cut next.

“Let’s see what is on the other side,” the second firefighter said and handed his partner a drill. It only took a moment to drill a hole and poke a video feed that they had borrowed from SWAT through the floorboards.”

“Looks clear,” she said after a moment. “I’m cutting the floor.” It only took a few moments to cut through the floor and she crawled through. The house’s complaints increased dramatically as her weight moved to further from the floor.

“You’ll need to wait here,” she said, “or better yet cut an escape hatch for us through the first floor.” She handed him the cut saw and the drill. “Push the ladder through then move back.

On the other side of the ceiling she stood on a pile of furniture that had fallen to the wall. Pulling the ladder with her she walked slowly across the pile. There was no one in this room. She moved toward the left to check out the next bedroom.

She found the couple sitting with their backs to the floors. They were wrapped in sheets. The woman held a cell phone.

“Thank God you’re here,” she whispered. “We could hear you, but we didn’t want to make too much noise.

The creaks and groans of the dying house were louder here.

“You better get a move on,” the firefighter’s radio squawked, “the structure is losing integrity quickly.”

“Tell Jim to go out the hole he should have cut by now. I have a different plan.”

“Make it quick.”

“Roger that.” She pulled the ladder up and used it to break the glass out of the window above them.

“Climb up and go out the window, go toward the bottom of the house.”

“Chief I need rescue ropes on the topside of the house nearest the hill.”

“They’ll be there.”

“What are you waiting for? GO!”

“We’re sort of naked…” the woman said.

“You can worry about modesty or you can live,” the firefighter said, “You can’t do both.” The man dropped his sheet and scrambled up the ladder.

“Come on,” he said, “I’ll help you at the top.” The woman followed him while all around the creaks became tortured shrieks.

The firefighter was up the ladder almost before the women left the top rung.

“Run!” The three ran across the wall of the house dodging windows and lights. The ropes were waiting for them where the house had torn away from the foundation. The firefighter tied the main rope to a heavy door handle then put the harness on the woman and sent her across the twenty foot gap. The man was next and the firefighter took a moment to look for her partner. Jim waved at her from the hill across from her. The man was safe, but before she could get the harness on, the house screamed and began tearing itself apart. She jumped for the rope and swung hand over hand as far as she could before the building fell into pieces  that tumbled to the surf hundreds of feet below.

The shock of hitting the ground loosened her grip and she thought she was going to follow the house into the water, but a strong hand grabbed her and pulled her up. Minutes later they were on top of the hill. The couple was again wrapped in blankets and being checked out by emergency services.

“Nice catch partner,” she said.

“Anytime,” Jim said.

“Nice view,” she said, then looked at the line of houses along the coast each of them balanced on the same kind of stilts that had failed and sent this house crashing down. She could hear the woman talking to the paramedic.

“We were sort of…busy when it started. I just thought it was the earth moving….”

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *