A Diluted Idea

bathroom scales dial

It couldn’t get any better, or worse: maverick scientist, Ron Archimedes, had won the World Esoteric Science Fair’s Innovation Award, the Indie equivalent to a Nobel Prize, except without the cash. He therefore couldn’t afford to fly halfway round the world to accept the honour. Unless, he found an alternative to regular travel.

Think!

Concentrate!

Eureka! Yes, that was it: concentrate. Fruit juices were commercially viable exports only if the water was extracted first and shipped as concentrate to be rehydrated at the sales destination. Smart. He’d also read somewhere the human body was 90% water… Exactly. It might just work.

With the appliance of science and reference to Yogic texts, Ron followed a programme of meditation, urination, sweat and tears, safely eliminating water, and mass, from his body. When his dried raison-like form dipped below the affordable 10kg freight tariff, Ron Archimedes packaged himself on his doorstep and called the couriers. However, the box marked ‘Just Add Water’ was never sent. The van was delayed by a sudden torrential downpour, only a cardboard mush found at the pick-up point.

Ron successfully rehydrated but never acknowledged his award. There’s no money in esoteric science, but weight-loss… that’s a different story.

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I wrote this for a monthly competition: write 200 words on a single word prompt. The word was ‘Water’.

Such a Lovely Place

The last time they’d tried to escape they’d got as far as the lobby. Glen Eagle, his wife and young daughter had made the mistake of taking their suitcases. They looked like a family about to leave, and with good reason. This hotel was the worst: the dirty rooms smelled, the beds were lumpy and the general noise intolerable.

This time they walked out in just the clothes they were wearing; a normal family on holiday, going for a midnight stroll, out of the hotel grounds and onto the sandy plains beyond.

‘Where are we going?’ asked his daughter.

‘To a different hotel,’ answered Glen, heading towards the shimmering lights in the distance.

The family continued walking in silence. Hopeful.

As they reached the next hotel on the dark desert highway, a cool wind began to blow in Glen’s hair, telling him not all was right. They were back where they’d left, the same manager waiting.

‘Ah! The Eagles. Welcome to the Hotel California. Please sign in. We have only one rule…’

‘Yeah, we know, “we can check out any time we like but we can never leave”,’ said Glen, thinking: Damn! We should’ve left during the overlong guitar solo.

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This was my entry for a competition to write a 200-word piece on the theme of ‘Desert’. I spent 40 days and forty nights working on it.

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ is one of those cultural fossils – I mean it will still be there when mankind has collapsed and disappeared. You can check out the 2-minute+ guitar solo any time you like…

We do not advocate the use of the Eagles for enjoyment purposes.

Bread rage

I was unprepared for what to write today as my intended piece on a rogue writing group turned into a 2000+ word story at the last minute and there was no way I could polish it up in time. So, I needed to find new inspiration, and quickly. Best way? Go for a walk to find ideas. Something will always crop up, and you know what? It did.

sliced breadSo, on the way back home from a walk to a beach café and spotting seagulls, I noticed a loaf of bread appear at my feet. Odd, I didn’t remember seeing it in the middle of the pavement as I was walking up to that point. The bread seemed to appear at the same time as the white van that had pulled up at the traffic lights.
The driver leaned out.

“You’ve dropped your loaf,” gruffed the big bulldog bloke with a grin.

I looked down at the bread. I was after ideas, not bread and besides, it was one of those sliced white loaves in a plastic bag, the type where all the slices are so stupidly thin that there was zero chance of actually spreading butter without tearing the bread to leave just a rubbery crust loop that could double as a fan belt (in an emergency). It was the sort of bread that had no sell-by date, was not allowed to use the word ‘best’ in best before… and was manufactured by the same process as the sealed plastic bag that housed it.

I looked at the van driver.

“It’s not my bread,” I said. Or thought I had said but really I had only thought ‘It’s not my bread’ and had not uttered a word. So basically I had ignored the driver and was just staring at him with a disbelieving look.

“Oi, stupid! You just dropped your bread,” he shouted in such a convincing manner that I now believed him. But I still didn’t want the loaf and was happy to just leave it where I had dropped it. I would simply wait for the traffic lights to change, let the van man drive off and then walk away, leaving the problem loaf for someone else to deal with. It was hardly front page news.

“The lights are green,” I said but once again had forgotten to say the words. I may have just raised my eyebrows in response.

“Are you a nutter?” assessed van man and “SHUT IT!!!” he shouted back to the car behind who was irritatingly tooting their horn continuously.

The tooting horn driver leaned out his car. “THE LIGHTS ARE GREEN!!” he screamed as if this were his last chance ever to get across the junction.

“I said that,” I thought and then realised that I had actually said the words, which made van man really angry. His thick banana fingers that were more comfortable in their natural resting position as balled fists flustered about with his seat belt that would not come undone.

“You’re brown bread mate,” he spat, ripping his seat belt in half and getting out of the van.

“It’s really not my loaf,” I insisted with real words and then realised that he wasn’t using the grammatically incorrect version of your / you’re and that he meant ‘brown bread=dead’ as in popular rhyming slang. I was in trouble here.

Luckily the car man tooted his horn again. Van man was easily distracted and liked dragging people out of their cars through half open windows. As an horrific fight started, the traffic lights changed to red again, the pedestrian crossing to green – so I walked away.

Did I yet have a story? I remember thinking:

“Maybe sliced bread wasn’t the best idea after all.”

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Better cover

Have you ever had groceries that weren’t yours forced upon you?

No, probably not…

This story appears in Better, a collection of 19 absurd & funny short stories.

If laughter is the best medicine: you should get Better.

The Nature of Government

nature-of-government

As the trees shed their leaves, the bankrupt government passed a bill demanding they pick them all up again.

With only the law of gravity as their defense, the trees lost their case and were all cut down to make way for a giant lorry park.

The government celebrated. You can tax motorists, not trees.

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The Prodigal Story: The above was a 55-worder I submitted to a competition site earlier this year. It got a few nice comments but was in danger of getting lost in the ether. So, while there were still a few leaves left on the trees, I thought I’d bring it back home again.

If you need to laugh rather than cry, here’s another short (100 words)
published at the wonderful Café Lit. – Having A Rubbish Time

Caught up in the mellow drama

The other night I was watching a TV programme about murder in fiction; it was good except for one annoying aspect. The presenter talked about melodrama but insisted on pronouncing it “mellow drama”. As if the sinister was fine. Like: “Hey man, let’s do a murder.”

“Mellow drama”

It spoiled the effect really.

“Mellow drama” – stop saying it like that! The Victorian crime scene depicted on-screen suddenly lost all of its haunting black&white magic of bare brick streets bathed in expressionistic shadows – the swirling London smog more likely to be just a marijuana haze. In the dark back street, two costumed innocents stumbled across a body.

‘Dude, someone’s dead.’

‘They are? Far out.’

Who did the police suspect? Everyone. No, I’m not being paranoid. Crackers. I’ve just eaten a whole tub of humous. I need more. What were we talking about? Oh look, ants.

“Mellow drama,” Oh, man! This is crazy Victorian shit cut with a sixties vibe.

Who could have committed such a despicable crime? The police were in two minds which was a massive clue. They arrested Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-the-drugs. Except he got off on a technicality as his defence successfully argued he was suffering from a spliff personality. Jekyll, or Hyde, whoever, should been hanged but instead they got stoned.

I rest my case. It’s tired.

So am I.

That’s definitely enough mellow drama for one day.

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If this post messed with your mind in a way you liked, you’ll enjoy Mind Clearance

Having A Wild Time.

wild timeHere is a piece I entered for the
Writers Talkback Forum
‘One Word Challenge’:
a 200 word story inspired
by a one word prompt.

The word? Wild.

The result? I was judged to have won.

Talk about having your cake…

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Having A Wild Time.

If there was ever a place not to lose it, it was here. The Savoy. Afternoon tea. Jane’s parents. First encounter.

Civilised conversation in faux tropical surroundings complete with aquarium; I wasn’t used to such finery, my upbringing primitive by comparison. I had to change my behaviour, above all remember not to swear.

“…apparently we taste like pork!” said her father.

“Shi…” I stuffed a whole crustless triangular sandwich in my mouth to prevent the final ‘t’ escaping, only to realise it was ham; I’d been vegetarian for years. My girlfriend’s expression said ‘don’t spit it out’, so I chewed. After a glistening top lip, sweat broke out on my forehead. My eyes widened. I snorted, stamped my feet. I banged the table.

“Ni! Ni! Ni!”

I leaped up, knocking a waiter over, sending a shower of tea and snowstorm of doilies across the room. A woman screamed. I couldn’t stop.

“Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!!”

I bounded across tables, trampling sponge cake, wrestling potted palms until I reached the fish tank and plunged my head in, mouth gaping – giant carp cowered under rocks.

Relieved, I dragged my sopping head out.

Everyone stared.

“F**k, that mustard goes right up your nose.”

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Ever have a mustard moment?Better cover

This story appears in Better, a collection of 19 absurd & funny short stories.

If laughter is the best medicine: you should get Better.

Web-based Artist (another Drabble)

deck upI was getting fed up of working at my desk and looking out the window to see the dump of a garden we inherited with this house. So, I took some time off, got lucky with the weather, and took up the decking that covered almost the entire garden. Disappointingly I found only concrete and spiders underneath – no treasure, but at least no bodies either.

I’ve since recycled the deck boards, cutting them and making planters, a new deck and pergola.

I dodged one shower and one massive spider which inspired me to write a 100 word story. It has been published on the CaféLit site, here.

I must get rid of the shed.

the cube

 

Zest For Life

A beautiful family walk serenely towards a perfect horizon where a wonderful new day dawns. A soft disembodied voice fills the sky:

“Zest, everything you’ve ever wanted. Zest for life.”

A crumpled beer can hit the television screen.
‘Life’s not like that!’ said Davey opening another beer.
‘You mean our life’s not like that.’ Rosie hoovered noisily, nudging the spent tin under the worn sofa where it clanked, joining the others. ‘But if we got us some Zest…’
‘Ah, Zest Schmest!!’

We interrupt this story – “Zest for ever. Zest for life.” The calm voice says.

A bed-ridden elderly couple bathed in flickering blue TV light. Commercials washing over them. Their glassy eyes fixed.
‘Zest is supposed to give you another ten years,’ said Frank.
‘Of what?’ Doris asked.

Zest board room:
‘Projected profits are looking astronomically good,’ announced the suit in charge of the figures. ‘They’ve made a giant leap.’
Applause filled the room.
‘Research has proven Zest to be the best thing ever for mankind.’

MetroLab Research:
Professor Walters flicked through the analysis report.
‘Zest contains no special ingredient to enhance anything.’
‘It’s a placebo effect?’ whispered his assistant.
Walters nodded and dropped the hefty document in the shredder. It was wise to not bite the hand that feeds. Walters didn’t want to end up dead. Zest paid for the report. Zest owned MetroLab. Zest was all.

“Zest for life,” says the calm voice.

Davey dialled the order line, ‘I guess there’s no harm in trying some. Rosie, I’m going to gets us some Zest.’

This story was brought to you by Zest. Zest for happiness. Zest for life.


If you liked this story and want to read more I have another short one published in Issue 3 of StrippedLit500

A New Vision

1500758_625265090867976_988980829_o

‘Hello, New Age Opticians…’

‘Oh hi, I’m having trouble with the contact lens you supplied me this morning.’

‘I thought we’d sorted this out?’

‘It’s still not right.’

‘So what seems to be the problem now?’

‘It’s making my eye water. A lot.’

‘I see…’

‘No actually, it’s more of an ocean. In fact there’s a dolphin in my field of vision right now.’

‘Oh how lovely… I mean: that is serious. Is it in the left eye or the right?’

‘Neither.’

‘Oh, the third one.’

‘Yes, my mind’s eye.’

‘Then there’s nothing to worry about, Sir, you’re imagining it.’

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Friday Fictioneers (FF) is a challenge open to writers all over the world: write a 100 word story using the week’s unique photo as inspiration. This week’s picture is supplied by Jean L. Hays.

More hows, whens and whats of FF can be found here at Rochelle’s site. (Thank you, Rochelle, for hosting.)

Read more FF stories here.