Multiply Stuff 5

Cagh’s Challenge

Write about a fridge.
 This can be in the form of a short story, or a poem, or an anecdote, or a myth, any format is acceptable. It can be a bar fridge, upright fridge, car fridge, portable fridge, or any other kind of fridge you can think of, existing or theoretical (must be powered; no eskies). The only catch is that the fridge must be the main element/character. Freezer optional 😉

“Hey,” Joe yelled, “Did you put milk in the fridge?”

“Why would I put milk in the fridge? I don’t drink milk,” Bob said, “The only thing to pass these lips is the golden suds of the gods.”

“I am doing an experiment in quantum mechanics,” Alstair said.

“We agreed. No experiments in the fridge,” Bob said, “I ate one last term that almost put me in the hospital.”

“I’m not talking about that kind of experiment.” Alstair said, “Do you know Schrodinger’s cat?”

“Isn’t Schrodinger the guy who sells brats out on University?”

“Yeah, he has sauerkraut and this great mustard-”

“Not that Schrodinger,” Alstair said, “This is a famous thought experiment. You put a cat in a box with a device that may or may not have killed the cat. Is the cat alive or dead?”

“You open the box and find out.”

“Exactly.”

Joe and Bob looked at each other and shrugged. Bob went to the fridge.

“WHERE’S MY BEER?”

“Don’t look at me, I’m drinking milk.”

“Al, what did you do to my beer?”

“Close the fridge.”

Bob slammed the fridge and heard the telltale clink of glass. He opened the door and the fridge was full of beer.

“Wha…?” He grabbed two bottles just in case and sat down.

“Each time you open the fridge, what you want may or may not be in it.”

“So if I want Demi Moore all I need to do is open the door?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well let’s give it a try.”

“I’m not sure that is a good idea…”

It was too late. Joe had yanked open the fridge and the lifeless body of the famous actress fell out, or at least half of it.

“It would only work on something that will actually fit in a bar fridge.”

“So can we stuff her back in and make her go away?”

“She doesn’t look as good as she does in the movies.”

“Well, she is dead.”

“True, but still.”

The three stuffed her into the fridge and jammed the door closed.

“Now what?”

“We open the door and see if she is still there?”

“Not a chance. Let’s just dump the fridge and get a new one.”

Bob and Joe carried the fridge down and loaded it into Alstair’s car. Bob went back upstairs while Joe and Alstair drove off looking for a deserted ditch.

“I wonder if I should have told Joe what I did to the stove…”

 Kittigory’s Challenge

Choose a favorite popular ballad, and write your own version of the story it tells.
Give your story a title, and, as an added, though no required bonus, post the actual song lyrics.

Helena rode the escalator up to the third floor of the Macy’s. She clutched the tiny purse that held only her lipstick and her husband’s Gold Visa. He wasn’t able to be home for her birthday, so he had left the card and a little note for her.

“Happy Birthday, darling. Go Crazy.”

She had called her friends and told them to meet her here.

“Oh, Helena, you look ravishing,” Bet said, “I can’t wait to see you in the newest styles.”

“We’ll go by Henry’s and get a full makeover.” Kat said, “That wonderful man of yours won’t recognize you.”

Her friends swept her off into a whirlwind of shopping. No decisions about colour, she took one of each. Didn’t have shoes to match? She bought a new pair for each outfit. She was pummelled and dyed and waxed into bliss. Then she had lunch in the fanciest restaurant in town. That magic piece of plastic was turning everything she touched into gold.

The strange thing was that the more Helena bought the unhappier she became. Her friends’ laughter rang hollow and shrill. Everything that she wanted she just waved the card and it was hers, yet she felt diminished by each purchase. Now at lunch she wondered if she still existed.

What was this path she was on? What was her spirit crying for? It wasn’t this motley of shoes and clothes. Helena was almost in tears as they left the restaurant. She banged into someone on the street and all her bags and packages went flying.

“Be careful, you!” said Kat.

“Watch she doesn’t steal anything!” said Bet

Helena picked herself up and stood in the midst of the scattered detritus of her day. The woman who had bumped her was still lying on the pavement. Helena went over to her.

“Are you OK?”

“I don’t want none of your stuff, lady,” the woman said, “I have a right to be here same as you.”

“Get away from her Helena, she might be dangerous.”

“Don’t be crazy!”

Helena looked from her friends to the woman who was slowly picking herself off the sidewalk.

“I think we are more dangerous than she is.” She held out her hand to the other woman, who looked at her then gripped her hand with her thin, calloused hand. Helena pulled her to her feet and helped her pick up her meagre belongings.

“Kat, Bet, it has been a marvellous day. Take the stuff home and I will see you tomorrow.” Her friends gathered up the bags and with nervous looks hailed a taxi.

“So what do you want?” the woman asked.

“I don’t know, but I just spent the morning trying to buy my way into happiness and it didn’t work, maybe I need to try something different.”

“Hmmph” said the woman, “So now you want to save me.”

“I can’t save myself, how could I possibly save you?”

“I could use a bite to eat.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“There’s this real fancy place, they charge ten bucks for a meal.” The woman clutched all her worldly goods and led the way down the road. “They call me Rock.” she said.

Theres a lady who’s sure
All that glitters is gold
And shes buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows
If the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and shes buying a stairway to heaven.

Theres a sign on the wall
But she wants to be sure
cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook
Theres a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

Theres a feeling I get
When I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen
Rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking.
Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And its whispered that soon
If we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn
For those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

If theres a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now,
Its just a spring clean for the may queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
Theres still time to change the road youre on.
And it makes me wonder.

Your head is humming and it wont go
In case you don’t know,
The pipers calling you to join him,
Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow,
And did you know
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

And as we wind on down the road
Our shadows taller than our soul.
There walks a lady we all know
Who shines white light and wants to show
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard
The tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all
To be a rock and not to roll.

And shes buying a stairway to heaven.

Dio and Flagon’s Challenge

————-

Write a story or poem with leprechauns as the main characters. You may include any number of types of other characters as you wish.

The banging on the door signalled trouble. Being a parent who was on a first name basis with all the police officers in town, I opened the door with no small trepidation. What kind of trouble had he gotten into this time?

There was no one there. I felt an ungentle nudge at my knee and looked down. A small man in a kelly green police uniform stood there frowning at my ankles.

“I’m going to have to cite you for several violations.”

“Excuse me?”

“No green on St. Patrick’s Day. You haven’t written a story involving leprechauns within the statutory period.”

“I have never written a story about leprechauns. I’m not Irish, I’m Scottish.”

“Faith and Begorrah! And you’re showing no remorse either. This is serious, man, Serious.”

“You need to check your regs more closely. As a Scot I may or may not write about boggans, but leprechauns are outside of my pervue. Mythical Creatures Code. Part A, section 198, subsection 2, paragraph iii (a).”

The leprechaun pulled out a fat little book and flipped through it.

“I don’t see it,” he said, “You’re putting me on.”

“What edition are you using?”

“2003 of course.”

“Well there’s your problem. You need the 2009 edition.”

”                            ”

“I don’t think it is good for your public relations for police to be talking that way, even if you are out of your jurisdiction.”

The leprechaun took a deep breath.

“Sorry to have troubled you.”

“That’s all right, this time. At least you didn’t interrupt my train of thought.”

The little man went pale.

“Thank heavens for that. We’re still dealing with a derailment at another site.”

I closed the door, and heaved a sigh of relief. I was very glad not to be writing a story about leprechauns today.

 

 

Kittigory’s Challenge

 

From Monica Woods’s THE POCKET MUSE:  Fill in the blank, and keep going.
Until __________, nothing notable had happened in the town of Madison since the year of its founding.

 

 

Until the meteor fell, nothing notable had happened in the town of Madison since the year of its founding. The night it fell started out cold and snowy. Nobody with any sense was out and about except for Frank Madison. He was sitting on the icy metal seat of his old Ford tractor driving toward the first of the driveways that he would blow out that night so the owners of over sized piles of bricks would be able to drive their Mercedes and Jaguars off to their cushy jobs in the city. None of them gave Frank a second thought unless he was late with the tractor.

Frank had so many layers on that he had difficulty moving. It wasn’t much of a problem since he was used to it now. It did mean that he had to look straight forward so he saw the shadows first. The stretched in front of him as if one of those big rigs that used to come to the plant had plumped down in the middle of the road behind him. He couldn’t turn to look back so he just prayed that death would be quick. At least he wouldn’t be so damned cold anymore.

The shadows shortened, but the crash didn’t come. Instead a ball of fire streaked over his head and smashed into the frozen field on his right. Frank felt a wave of warm wash over him and without thinking about it he turned the tractor into the field. The bumps and dips of the frozen furrows beneath the snow almost tossed him from his seat, but he persevered until he parked on the edge of a small crater that steamed with melted and rapidly refreezing snow.

At the bottom of the crater a large rock glowed vivid orange. It dimmed to red as Frank watched, then even the red faded leaving an ugly black rock that looked a little like the cinders on the rail line. Heaving himself from the tractor, Frank pulled out the chain that he used to rescue the cars that landed in the ditch outside his ramshackle farm.

The heat was incredible, but he managed to get a loop of chain around the rock. It took most of the rest of the night, but Frank managed to get the rock so it hung from the bucket in front of his tractor. He had peeled most of his layers off and was able to twist and look back as he reversed the old tractor out of the field onto the road.

The snow had stopped and the night was stunningly clear. Screw the Fat Cats thought Frank, I’m going home. He was shivering as he parked the tractor in his shed, but he still took the time to untangle the chain and leave the rock in a corner of the shed covered over with a tarp. It was cool enough now that he could touch it. The warmth from the rock suffused him and his shivering stopped.

He felt reborn.

To read the rest of this story go here

Mystydragon’s Challenge

You have been offered the gift of healing everyone of everything – do you accept the gift?
Write a story showing the pros and cons of the dilemma of such a gift;
or write a story as to why you refused the gift if you choose not to accept it.

I parked my Mercedes outside the hospital. I had made it clear from the start that I wasn’t going to do this gig without some of the creature comforts. I might have the power to heal but I am no religious fanatic. You try being the favourite object of hatred for both the faithful and the atheist, and you’ll be looking for some comfort too.

The comfort I really craved had to wait until I was finished this walk through. I finished the paediatric hospitals last month, now the powers-that-be, also known as the people who paid for the car, wanted me to do the institutions for the criminally insane next. Can you imagine that it costs more to keep these nutcases secure than it does to cure some kid of cancer? I could either until they showed me the numbers.

The paeds were kind of cool. I would walk through and the ankle biters would be doing back flips while their parental units wept. The psycho wards were creepy.

As I walked through I could hear the screaming. These folks didn’t want to be cured of whatever sickness got them here. The screaming changed as I passed by. It shifted from mad shouts and obscenity to wails of grief and remorse.

I mean some of these sickos had killed dozens of people, children even, and for whatever reason they just didn’t care. Not until I walked by and suddenly what was broken was fixed and they cared. All that death and horror hit them and they couldn’t retreat into insanity because I was there.

I learned that the suicide rate after I did a walk through was close to a hundred percent. The suits didn’t care, because either way it was cheaper than running the hospitals.

There is this dream I have of ducking all the hoopla and booking off to Africa and doing some real good. I’m told that once I finish with this country that I might be allowed to go other places.

It isn’t like I wasn’t given a choice. After the crash, I just knew that my purpose was to heal the world. What I didn’t know was how many people don’t want to be healed. It is just so much easier to be sick and let the world go hang.

I got back to the car and pulled the bottle out of the bar. My driver headed off toward the next place while I worked on forgetting the silent mess I was leaving behind.

Who knew that healing the world would be such a God awful job?

Writer’s Block Challenge # 55 

Bob wanted to go to the board prepared to pitch his proposal. It was likely with the tight economy that only one proposal would get the green light this time around and he was determined that it would be his.

After all it was meant to be a pivotal program that would engage and empower clients to get where they needed to go. It would challenge the societal norms that were legend in his field.

Why worry 24/7 about outcomes that were beyond the control of even the most heroic worker? Instead Bob would put responsibility absolutely where it belonged, on the shoulders of the amazing people who basically wanted to change themselves and the world.

Bob went over his work one last time to make sure that he had every single important word there. He would only get one chance at this.

He laid the bound copies of his work on the desk and straightened the pile. That done, Bob went home to sleep.

Sleep was slow in coming, so he put on his favourite ambient sounds CD, the one of the gentle ocean waves. Soon he was nodding off.

Bob knew he was dreaming when he showed up at the proposal meeting in a hot pink speedo. The bathing suit wasn’t all that bad in comparison to the paisley water wings that the committee wore. They spread towels on the beach and Bob handed out his booklets, which were now written in crayon on wax paper. At least the water won’t ruin them he thought.

As he started talking the tide came in. He probably should have stopped when the first committee member floated serenely away, but he was sure he caught a spark of interest in one of the others. As he talked he realized that his words were becoming the ocean. He tried to find a way to stop, but each time he closed his mouth more ideas, more words came and he had to let them out.

Finally he was alone in the ocean, drowning in the depths of his own words. All of the committee had been swept away by his flood of language. The words only stopped when the water covered his head and he began to cough.

The coughing woke him up. His throat was sore and his sinuses ached. Bob tried to groan, but he didn’t have enough voice left even for that.

He sent an email to work.

My report is on my desk. It will have to speak for itself.”

Then he turned off the CD and went back to bed.

Jillermar’s Challenge

Tell a Story that teaches a lesson to others.

All stories have lessons. The irony is that having to be deliberate about teaching a lesson makes it harder.

Bill’s mom dropped him off at his grandpa’s workshop.

“I am sorry, but you will need to spend the afternoon with your grandfather.”

“You say you’re sorry, but you’re still leaving me here with the old geezer.”

“Be respectful he’s your grandfather.”

“I’m not saying anything you haven’t said a thousand times. I mean his brain is stuck in the Fifties, what’s up with that?”

“It isn’t his fault.”

“Like it isn’t your fault that you’re abandoning me here. What if he goes berserk?”

“You like to eat, you stay with your grandpa while I go to work.”

Bill slammed the door and slouched over to his grandfather’s workshop. It was quiet and smelled different. The sunlight sloping through the windows illuminated dancing particles of sawdust. The teenager sneezed.

“Ah, there you are Frank,” said Grandpa, “Come and help me with this board.” Bill opened his mouth to correct his grandpa, then closed. He might as well save his breath. Instead he went and lifted an end of the board and helped the old man position it on the bench.  His grandpa pulled out a stick that unfolded into a ruler and measured carefully.

“Measure twice, cut once,” he said and checked the measurement again. Then he pulled out a hand saw and with slow careful strokes cut the board.

It would have taken seconds with his Dad’s power saw, thought Bill, but Grandpa didn’t have any power tools any more. Poor guy.

After the board was cut, Grandpa pulled out his folding stick and methodically measured another length of board.

“Ma’s cutting board broke and she asked me to make another one. I thought we would do walnut this time.”

When the second board was cut, Bill put the length of lumber back in its slot. When he returned Grandpa had put a board in a vise and was carefully planing the edge. He used a piece of steel to check that it was straight. Then he put the other board in the vise. When both boards were done he held them up to the light. Bill could see that there were gaps between them.

“How are you going to fix that?”

Grandpa put his finger beside his nose and reached for a bottle. It was filled with blue chalk dust. The old man dabbed dust along one board, then tried them together again. When he took them apart Bill could see the hints of blue along the second board.

With patience and careful planing Bill’s grandpa had the join almost invisible. Bill watched as his grandpa used a brace and bit to drill out holes for doweling, then carefully glued and fit the pieces together.

“Look around and see if you see any pieces of wood calling out to you.” Bill poked through the shop pulling out a board here and a chunk there. One piece was covered with little dots.

“What’s this?”

“That is bird’s eye maple. Fancy stuff,” Grandpa turned the wood over in his hands. “It’s a pretty small chunk, I don’t know what you would make out of it.

“I could put sides on it and have tray for my keys and junk.”

“You could at that. You’d better go find your sides”

Bill found some long thin pieces of wood. “Would these do?”

“Sure they would, that’s left over trim from a door. It’s maple too, so will take the stain the same.”

Bill laid his wood out on the workbench.

“Before you cut your sides, you’ll want to plane that piece down nice and even.” Grandpa showed him a block nailed to the bench. “Set it here.” Bill put the wood down, but his grandpa turned it.

“Always work with the grain of the wood, son,” Grandpa said, “Wood and people are both like that. Work with the grain and you will get better results.”

The rest of the afternoon Bill ran the planer over his wood. He watched as the dots showed up better and better as the wood smoothed. When his grandpa said it was time he used a different plane to square the edges. The light in the windows faded before he thought he was ready to put the sides on his tray.

“Time to clean up,” Grandpa said, “Working in bad light is just asking for trouble.” Bill took and broom from the corner and swept up the fragrant shavings while Grandpa put their projects on a shelf.

“You’re a good boy, Frank. That’s some fine work you did today.”

Somehow it no longer bothered Bill to be called by his uncle’s name.

“Can I come back next week to finish it?”

“You are always welcome, but I don’t know that you will finish that tray next week. You can’t rush the wood.”

“That’s even better,” Bill heard his mom’s car on the gravel drive. “Got to go. See you next week.” He hugged his grandpa and ran to tell his mom about what he had learned.

Kittygory’s Challenge

From THE POCKET MUSE: IDEAS AND INSPIRATION FOR WRITING, by Monica Wood.
*
Imagine a coat. Imagine the pocket of the coat. Imagine what’s in the pocket.

Routine was the glue that kept the universe together. Forget gravity, forget the absurdity of quantum mechanics, routine was what kept the stars in their orbit.

John checked his equipment one last time. He always checked his equipment three times. Two wasn’t enough, he occasionally found problems on the third check. Four was too many, a waste of time. John had never found an error during the time when he had checked four times.  He didn’t find any problems and packed the ropes, pitons and other equipment into the soft black bag. His clothes were charcoal gray with a subtle pattern in darker grays.

Black was too obvious, black was for amateurs and ninjas. He never met a ninja, but he had met plenty of amateurs. He had never met one twice. The bag went into the back seat of his gray sedan. John headed out into the night.

The air was bitterly cold, but John only put on enough heat to keep the windshield from frosting up. With all the clothes he was wearing heat would make him sweat, and damp clothes on this job would kill him.

The target was a room set halfway up a cliff that plunged a half mile down to the ocean. An area of rock a hundred feet to each side of the door had been polished and smoothed to provide no hand or foot hold. Sensors had been implanted to detect pressure on the rock face.

John arrived at his chosen spot to leave the road. He put the bag on his shoulder and strapped on the snowshoes. He tromped off through the woods, guided by the whisper of the GPS in his ear. He set the pace carefully to avoid overheating. The chill of the air was bracing, but posed its own hazards. John couldn’t afford to get frostbite or hypothermia.

He arrived at the cliff and pulled off the pack. There was a large tree close enough to the brink to act as an anchor. The rope went around the tree easily enough, but tangled as he tried to hook it up to the radio controlled anchor. He risked taking his glove off for a brief minute to get the set up fixed. He put the glove in his pocket so it wouldn’t fall over the edge. The problem was fixed and he put his glove back on.

It was just luck that the moonlight glinted off the key as it fell out of his pocket. John picked it up and put it back in his left pocket. He always carried his keys in his left pocket. He might have to hold anything from groceries to a gun in his right hand while he opened a door. Tonight it would be the rope.

He packed the gear back into the bag, and made sure there would be no more problems. The bag hooked onto his waist after he climbed into the rappelling harness. He was over the edge a moment later. He had enough rope to drop two hundred feet at a time. He descended almost to the end of the rope, then set a piton and fastened the loose end of the rope to it. He switched to a shorter rope and moved to the side.

Once he was out of the way a tap on the radio strapped to his belt and the long rope was released. He moved back to the long rope and hooked on again, put the short rope into the bag and made the next part of the climb.

Everything went flawlessly until he had to set up the special piton that would keep him a safe meter from the rock face. John pulled his glove off, with his teeth, but remembering the key in his coat pocket, he left it in his mouth.. The cold burned like acid on his hand, but he got the piton set up. He put his achingly cold hand inside his coat to warm up.

John tried to put his glove back on, but found that gloves come off one handed much easier than they go back on. One of his feet slipped as he fumbled and he slammed his left shoulder into the rock.

“Damn,” he said, “Double damn.” His glove tumbled down into the darkness. He only had one more descent to get to the door. John lowered himself slowly past the polished rock. He tried to shelter his exposed hand from the cold, but by the time the door was in front of him it was white and numb.

There was no way he was getting the key out of his pocket with his left hand. That meant using his right hand. John held the control rope in his teeth while he set the brake on the rope.
He reached across his body with his right hand, but couldn’t get his hand into the pocket. Time was moving fast. He needed to get that key.

He slid his knife out and carefully cut his coat. The knife went back into its sheath, then he tried again to reach the key. He could touch it, but not get a grip. John stuffed the senseless left hand into the pocket and tried to push the key toward his right hand.

Success! John had the key. He had no time to lose. Timing it carefully, John pushed the key into the lock. For a wonder he got it on the first try.  The door swung open. John took the rope again and released the brake. In seconds he had enough of a swing to land himself inside the door.

A man in a coal black uniform appeared in the hall. Since John wasn’t holding anything to use as a weapon, he rushed the guard and clubbed him with his senseless left hand. It distracted the guard long enough for John to catch his shirt and throw him out the door. He took the key from the door and closed the door.

So much for the easy part of the mission.

Celticfrog’s Challenge

Write the next chapter to any story you have written to a previous challenge. Please link to the old story.
If you are a poet, add stanzas or write a response to a previous poem.

This story picks up where Key to the Mission stops.

John gritted his teeth as the pain from returning circulation drowned the adrenaline rush of the brief fight. Where there was one guard, there was probably more. He carefully removed the climbing harness and packed it into the bag. He would leave the rope outside for the moment. The bag went on his back, he checked that the key was in his left pants pocket.

John stayed to the side of the hallway as he moved deeper into the complex. The door of the guard room was open and the room was empty. John saw a book face down on the desk and a bank of monitors. In one he could see the rope moving gently in the breeze. John looked at the book. John le Carre. Wrong era he thought to himself. Governments are irrelevant. Corporations ruled the world now.

There was nothing else to learn from the room so John left it, closing the door behind him. The hallway went a long way into the mountain before he noticed a slight change in the colour of the floor. That would be sensors of some sort, probably weight.

John pulled off his pack and found four flat disks. In moments they were strapped to his hands and knees. He moved to the wall and made sure they were touching the stone. A tap of his finger and the disks gripped the wall, with his left hand controlling the individual disks John crept along the wall until he was well past the where the floor changed colour again.

A faint glow strip made an appearance a few feet farther along. John followed it to a massive door set in the rock. A hand plate to one side was where the guard would have unlocked it. Since the guard’s hand along with the rest of him was floating several hundred feet away at the bottom of the cliff he would have to find another way.

He looked at where the locking mechanism was, indicated conveniently by the double reinforced plate welded to the door. John pulled out the discs again. He put one on the door over the plate. The rest he carefully made sure were turned off. Once activated the disc pulled the lock out of alignment. He heard a faint click and a thud and the bolts withdrew.

The door swung open and John slipped through after retrieving his disc. This area of the complex was brightly lit. Coloured stripes ran along the floor in both directions. John followed the pale green stripe. The arrows embedded in it told him he was going toward the lab.

He heard the guards before he saw them.

“The board showed a door malfunction, we check it out. It doesn’t matter what cards you were holding.”

John tossed the discs to the ceiling and activated them before retreating a dozen yards. The guards came around a corner, still arguing. One saw him and scrabbled for his gun. The others followed suit.

“Get them!” John shouted, and deactivated the discs. The thud of their landing made the guards spin to deal with the danger behind them. Before they could take in that there was no one there John was in their midst.

It was four guards against John, hardly a fair fight. He tied them up with their belts and left them. He would be gone before they woke. He did take the swipe cards that were attached to their belts. One of those cards let him through the green door into the R&D lab. He checked through the sample cases quickly and found the vial with the number his handler had given him.

He put the vial into the padded case in his bag, then one by one took his clothes off and turned them inside out. His muted charcoal grey was replaced by garish red and blue with white trim. The name on the shirt said “John”.

John left all but one of the swipe cards on the counter as he went back into the hall. The red strip led him to the exit. He stopped close enough to hear what was going on, but around a bend so he couldn’t be seen. Soon he heard the bustle of people arriving at work. His bag was now packed inside a sealed box. The delivery label already made out.

He walked up to the checkpoint.

“Hey,” he said, “Some idiot forgot to send this last night. I found it on my desk. It’s marked urgent. What should I do?”

“If you hurry you may catch one of the trucks going out.” The guard waved him through.

John ran up the stairs carrying the box. At the top was another garage. The guard there just waved him through. He ran to the last remaining truck and climbed into the back. A second later the driver was sleeping soundly as John drove the truck out of the depot.

He drove the truck to where he had left his car. In a few moments his clothes were reversed to their accustomed charcoal grey. He took a satisfied look. Even with Pepsi’s garish colours on the truck it would be days before they found it.

Coke would analyze the sample and decide if they would come out with a “new formula” before Pepsi. John couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

He couldn’t stand the stuff.

Vinnyandflask’s Challenge

Write a story about a young lady who has lost her boyfriend, husband, or someone close to her.

My sister crashed into the house screaming with rage. She saw me and threw her book bag at me. Only years of honing my reflexes for such a situation allowed me to dodge without dropping my sandwich or spilling my drink.

“Where’s Mom,” sis snarled.

“Uh, out,” I said with my usual intelligence.

“Oh great,” she said, “How could she be out just when I need her most.”

“Broke up again, huh?”

Laser beams have nothing on the scathing glare my older sister gave me.

“You don’t understand…” I could see the bottom lip trembling, and the eyes started to water. Time to go, but it was too late. Even my highly trained reflexes couldn’t dodge my sister’s grab. She clutched me tight and wailed in my ear like a banshee.

I don’t know what a banshee looks like, but I am sure they don’t wear mascara that goes all over the place when they cry. I, of course, was wearing my white shirt with the Mexican skeleton in a sombrero playing the maracas. I imagined in great detail the black stains on my shirt. I did math problems in my head. I tried to eat my sandwich, but she had my arms pinned, and I couldn’t reach my mouth.

What did Mom always say?

“He was a didtz anyway,” I said, “You’ll find another one.”

Sis stopped wailing and gave me another of those glares. At least she let my arm go, so I took a bite of sandwich.

“You’re hopeless. Here I am with my heart broken, and you are only concerned about your sandwich.”

I looked at her, then at my sandwich.

“Want a bite?” she shrugged and bit off half my sandwich, then washed it down with my milk.

“I am going up to my room, and I am never coming out again.” She stomped up stairs and slammed the door. I closed the front door and went to the kitchen to fix another sandwich.

A little while later the phone rang. I didn’t even move toward it. My sister could be in the shower and still answer the phone before the second ring.

Sure enough she materialized beside the phone.

“Hello.”

“Who?”

“Bobby?”

“Sure.”

She hung up the phone and twirled around the kitchen.

“Bobby asked me out!” she trilled,

“Who’s Bobby?” I asked, she just ruffled my hair and stole my sandwich and was gone.

I closed the front door again and went to make another sandwich.

Mom came home just as I was finished.

“Hey squirt, anything happen while I was gone?”

“Sis broke up with her boyfriend.” I saw Mom’s worried look upstairs to my sister’s room. “It’s OK, some guy named Bobby asked her out.” I looked at the pained expression on Mom’s face.

I held out my sandwich.

“Want a bite?”

Zues2u’s Challenge

In Honor of my upcoming birthday write a story about …
An uncle, friend or father who is turning 50 he has everything material he could want. Like most men his age if he ever wants something he just goes and buys it. But this is a special birthday for him. Even though the invitation says no presents tell me what you would do for his Birthday.

It was unthinkable that they let Frank’s fiftieth birthday go by without buying him a present. The invitation to the BBQ did say no gifts, but that wasn’t going to stop Joy and Jeff.  Frank had been their mentor since they had bought the little house across the street from him.

When their pipes leaked, Frank had been there with his wet/dry vacuum until two in the morning. When the furnace failed, he just happened to have a space heater to keep their pipes from freezing. Whether it was a non-chemical way to treat their lawn or advice on how to install their new front door, Frank could always be counted on.

The best thing about Frank was he knew when to wait to be asked, and when to step in with an immediate word of caution. Just having him out cutting the grass gave Jeff the extra patience to work through the problem with the hedge they had with Bill next door.

Now it was time to show their appreciation. The problem was that Frank had everything he wanted. It wasn’t that he was rich, but that he truly didn’t want that much. Jeff and Joy kicked around ideas for weeks before the BBQ. It was only the day before the BBQ that Joy came into the kitchen with a piece of paper and big grin.

“That’s perfect!” Jeff said, “He’ll never see it coming.” Joy danced around the kitchen in excitement. The idea of surprising the man who always took time to talk to her children was delightful.

The next day they walked across the road carrying a pie made from Joanie’s, Frank’s wife’s, favourite recipe. There was already a crowd gathering in the backyard, but before long it spilled into the house and around the front.

There was laughter when Frank’s son showed up in his police cruiser with siren wailing. The whole crowd stood around and joked while Frank’s son hugged his dad. Jeff sidled up to the young police officer and soon had the mike in his hand.

“Hello friends,” Jeff said, “I know the invite said no gifts, because after all what do you buy the fellow who has everything?” Frank smiled and shrugged sheepishly.

“But we found something that I am sure even Frank doesn’t have.” Everyone looked at Jeff with interest. Joy made her way to Frank’s side and handed him a piece of paper.

“We bought him his own cow,” announced Jeff. The people laughed and looked around for the bovine guest. “No, we didn’t bring it with us. We didn’t want anyone stepping in something unfortunate.”

“What am I going to do with a cow?” asked Frank, “I wouldn’t know the first thing about taking care of it.”

“That’s why we aren’t having it delivered here,” Jeff said, “It is going to a village in Africa where it will help make a family independent.” Joy pointed to something on the paper, and Frank read it with a thoughtful look on his face.

“We thought the best way to thank our favourite neighbour was to help someone else in his name. Thanks Frank, and Happy Birthday.”

Writer’s Block Challenge #54: Waiting 

Hank opened his eyes and stretched as the train pulled into the station. It was odd, normally he would be stiff and sore from sleeping in a train, but he felt fine. To be accurate, he felt better than had since he could remember.

He reached for his coat and hat, but the rack above him was empty. All around him people were stirring and making their way off the train. Hank shrugged and followed them. He was more interested in what was outside than his old coat.

The station was like nothing Hank had ever seen or even imagined. There seemed to be only the one platform, but it continued as far as his eyes could see. People of all descriptions thronged the platform. Some of them appeared to know exactly where they were going and strode off purposefully, others were like Hank and had no particular urge to go anywhere or do anything.

A door caught his eye so he walked through it. The concourse on the other side was as grand and huge as the platform. Windows lined the entire length and warm light poured through them. Hank moved to the rail and just soaked in the light. It felt on his skin like the finest whiskey he had ever tried had tasted, like his mom’s pear pie, or his wife’s kiss.

Strangely no one seemed to mind walking around him as he stood. There were others too who bathed in the light. Some had tears on their faces. Below was a long waiting area. Only a few people were sitting in the seats. None of them looked impatient. They were just there.

Hank walked down the stairs to the ground level. Only as he reached the bottom did he realize that he hadn’t once worried about his knees failing or falling down the steps. In fact he wasn’t worried about anything.

The crowd was thinner down here. Hank saw a line over at a kiosk. People stood quietly as the young man talked to the person at the front of the line. The line moved slowly, but Hank passed the time looking around him. He had thought at first that none of the people paid any attention to each other, but he saw a woman from the waiting area run up to greet a man from the train. They were both crying and laughing. They held hands as they walked through the doors to the outside. That was when Hank realized that he couldn’t see anything outside the windows other than that light.

“Next,” the young man called. Hank walked up to him.

“I don’t know what question to ask,” said Hank.

“Ah,” the young man said, “That isn’t unusual. Take your time.”

“This isn’t anyplace I know.”

“No, but you have been traveling here your whole life.”

“Yes,” agreed Hank, “I believe you are right.” He looked around the grand station. “This isn’t the end of my journey. No one goes on a trip just to see the station.”

“That’s right.”

“So where do I go from here?”

“That is up to you. All the choices you have ever made brought you here, but that doesn’t mean that you have no more choices to make.”

“So this is a beginning then.”

“It is.”

“I don’t remember getting on a train. I remember going to sleep with a bit of heartburn.” Hank took internal inventory again. “I am not sick now, my knees aren’t sore.” He took a deep breath. “I feel more alive now than I did when I was alive.”

The young man in white nodded.

“So what now? Do I get back on the train, go back to life on earth. Am I supposed to wait for someone?”

“Some people get back on the train, some people wait, some people go through the doors.”

“What is through the doors?”

“Whatever is next.”

Hank nodded and moved off. He glanced back and saw that the young man was now a old woman in a flowing black gown. He shrugged everything was possible here.

Hank went and sat down to think. He didn’t think his wife was waiting here. He thought if she were they would have met up already. He didn’t really want to go back to earth. His life wasn’t especially difficult, but Hank felt that he was done with that. He looked out at the light. He was ready. She would be somewhere on the other side of those doors. So would the answers to a lot of the questions Hank had never thought to ask.

He got up and walked to the doors. Hank pushed them open, and entered the light.

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