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Slash Dot Crash

Author Topic: Cast your vote - Challenge 35 Fiction entries  (Read 2152 times)

Offline Gyppo

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Cast your vote - Challenge 35 Fiction entries
« on: November 14, 2007, 06:21:51 PM »
UPDATE:  Poll extended until Midnight GMT Monday 26th November.

This time we have only three entries for your delectation.  One was a little short to strictly meet the criteria, but I decided to let it in.  After all, I set the competition ;-)

Please use the poll at the top of this thread to cast your vote.

The poll will remain open until Midnight GMT Friday 23rd November.

Gyppo
« Last Edit: November 23, 2007, 07:36:39 PM by Gyppo »
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Challenge 35 Fiction entries and poll - Cast your vote
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 06:28:33 PM »
Challenger 1:

Eel Pie Island (624 wds)

It was a chilly November evening in 1969 when Oz Miller went to see Easy Rider at the flea pit in Richmond and decided that, like a true nature’s child, he was born, born to be wild.

Oz’s hair reached well over his collar, but what it didn’t reach was the suitably greasy condition of a true biker due to his habit of taking a shower every morning.  He successfully begged a pair of aviator sunglasses off an ex-RAF Uncle but wages from his Saturday job at the Army and Navy store didn’t provide him with the required tasselled leather jacket.  However, he did manage to ‘liberate’ two useful items from the stock-room: an army great coat, which hung like a grey wall of wool from his six foot frame, and a slightly torn stars and stripes bandana.

When Mr and Mrs Miller bought their son a set of wheels as a reward for his excellent mock exam results, it had one more wheel than Oz had had in mind.

“Jesus H Christ!” said his friend Mac, “it’s a bloody spaz-waggon!”

“Carry on like that, mate, and you won’t be getting a lift to the Fairies gig on the Island come Saturday night,” said Oz, brushing the blue fibreglass roof of the Robin Reliant with the sleeve of his great coat, mindful of the metal buttons on the cuff.

“Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway,” Mac half sang, half laughed.  Oz was not amused.

Eel Pie Island, in the Thames at Twickenham, was the bane of any roadie’s life, but particularly the bane of the four guys who carted the Pink Fairies kit around the country.  The Fairies line-up included a pair of drummers, Twink and Russell Hunter, which meant that two of everything had to be loaded on sack trucks and man-handled over the foot bridge as well as all the other gear.  The last time Oz and Mac had been to Eel Pie they’d attended the re-opening of Colonel Barefoot’s Rock Garden Club in the huge disused hotel there and they’d seen their heroes, the Edgar Broughton Band.  Now they were looking forward to sampling what the Melody Maker called ‘psychedelic hard rock’.

“Lookin’ for adventure and whatever comes our way,” sang Mac when they were half-way over the footbridge.

"Get out the way, you bleedin’ ‘ippies,” shouted a Hell’s Angel, revving his engine behind them.  Oz and Mac ran the rest of the way and got off the bridge just in time as a dozen motorbikes roared past.  Within minutes they’d been offered a bag of small blue pills and several spliffs which they politely refused.  Inside the shell of the hotel the music was deafening and Oz could feel the vibration of the bass throbbing painfully in his sternum.  A patchouli scented girl in a loose purple dress with a curtain of hair hiding her kohl-rimmed eyes, swayed up to Mac and rubbed herself against him like an exotic cat.  Mac looked plaintively over the girl’s head towards his mate before suggesting that perhaps he and Oz should go and find the bar and that set a pattern for the evening; if not their lives.

Many years later, when Oz was once again plain Robert David Miller, he rented Easy Rider to show to his teenage sons and found himself both puzzled and strangely bemused by the whole thing.

“Never mind love, you’ve become a highly regarded building society manager,” said his wife, handing him a cup of tea, “maybe you were born to be mild,” she added with a wry smile.

***
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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Challenge 35 Fiction entries and poll - Cast your vote
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 06:30:18 PM »
Challenger 2:

Laugh a Little (1086 wds)

John and Mary had been married for twenty-seven years. Like most marriages, they had their ups and downs. Overall, their life together was pleasant if not fairytale wonderful.

John was in middle management in a large firm and made more than enough money to support his family. Mary was given the freedom to not work so she volunteered at the local animal shelter two days a week. She was active in her community and both John and Mary were staunch members of their church.

Like all married couples, each one had little irritating habits that would set the other's teeth on edge. Why do we so irritate the ones we love? And John and Mary did truly love one another.

John's practical jokes simply drove Mary to distraction. He never understood that. At work, the jokes were a way to get along with both peers and underlings. Everyone there thought John was one funny guy. His jokes were never outright cruel and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Except Mary. She hated the practical jokes whether she was the butt of the prank or not.

Year after year she suffered in silence. Then she began to suffer out loud. She told John and she told John and he said she was nagging and she continued to complain and the complaints fell on deaf ears. On and on and on. John liked his practical jokes. Everyone else liked his practical jokes. Surely his wife could accommodate him on this.

The battle raged for years. And still there were practical jokes. Each new prank turned Mary a little further away from her husband. Each time he would coax and say, "Come on Mary, it's a joke. I'm not such a rat. These are funny. Lighten up some, darling. Laugh more."

"Laugh more," Mary would think. "I'm so sick of this I could scream. Laughing is the farthest thing from my mind right now. All I want is an adult for a partner, not some adolescent jerk who likes to make fools of those around him."

After major outbursts, John would cut back on his high jinks at home. He could still have a little fun at work. Those people weren't too stuffy to have a little chuckle. His subordinates, especially, laughed at his antics. They never minded being the object of attention, even if it was slightly demeaning. At least they were laughing at work, and that is always a good thing. Right?

John and Mary were dining out at a rather fancy restaurant. It was Sweetest Day, a day especially made by greeting card makers to increase card sales and backed by florists and restaurant owners as a way to increase revenue during a slack time. Like many other couples, John and Mary were grateful not to have to think of their own romantic moments, but rather to have a pattern laid out for them by industries who could nudge them into a loving gesture.

John was trying to placate Mary. Last week he had pulled another one of his witty little pranks on his wife. She, of course, took it the wrong way. If there were two ways to interpret anything, his wife always chose the way that put him in the worst light. It wasn't like he was doing anything wrong. He liked to have fun. She was so strait-laced. But to appease the woman he truly loved, he would wine and dine her at this expensive restaurant.

Looking around the place showed lots of men with graying temples and their perky, wrinkle-free dining mates. John and Mary knew they were in the minority. Two people with graying temples, albeit with Mary's gray discreetly covered at the salon every four to five weeks. Most people today had a serial monogamy, if monogamy at all. They knew they were lucky to have found each other. Even Mary was feeling less antagonistic in this setting. John's idea of fun didn't always match hers. That didn't make him an evil man. Right?

They ordered a bottle of Merlot, Mary's favorite. John was more of a Chardonnay guy, but he was trying to make up for his last faux pas. The wine came and the two of them perused the menu. John's favorite thing to order was steak. He loved a nice pearly pink inside, seared outside steak, with a fluffy baked potato. His only choice came in which type of steak to order. He rarely even looked at the rest of the menu.

Mary always read the entire list. She enjoyed a variety of foods and sought out things that were difficult to cook or brand new. She was scanning the list when her eye fell on Rack of Lamb. She hadn't had that in a long time, John was a beef eater and she only got lamb if they were dining out.

The waiter came and the couple ordered. John got a T-bone, rare and Mary ordered Rack of Lamb. And then John started. That damn song. She had forgotten he did that when she ordered this dish. John was singing sotto voco, "Mary had a little lamb." She hated that.

She glared daggers at him but he kept it up for the entire night. Mary became more sullen and uncommunicative and John felt the entire evening slipping out of his control. "Come on, Mary, I'm not such a rat. Laugh a little."

Last week was bad enough, but this was to be his apology dinner and even there he couldn't stop with the stupid little thing that irritated her most. He was a rat. A huge rat. Last week she had been so taken with his rat-ness that she had bought some rat poison.

So the "happy" couple finished their entrée and opted to return home for dessert and coffee. Mary had made the dessert that day. Actually she had made two different desserts. One was just a "prank" as she told herself. One was what they would surely have. One dessert contained the rat poison she had purchased last week. She wasn't really sure of the dosage. She wasn't sure if the amount she had put in would make him sick or if, instead, it was a lethal dose.

Now all she had to decide was which dessert to serve. She had the whole drive home to make that choice.

***

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Offline Gyppo

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Re: Challenge 35 Fiction entries and poll - Cast your vote
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 06:31:54 PM »
Challenger 3: 

Slash Dot Crash (1,114 words)

Once you are dead there is no music. That’s what they told me when I arrived here. And true enough there are no radios or hi-fi systems – and certainly no iPods - but I’m sure I can hear music in my head. Gabe tells me that’s not possible.

I bet you are dying (pun intended) to know what it is like up here aren’t you? Well it looks just like it does down there. All the usual stuff, clouds, trees, blah blah blah. It sounds, tastes, and smells the same too. JayLo (big but), it doesn’t feel the same. That’s because there are no feelings (as in emotions). And that’s why there’s no music. You can’t have music without emotion, they go together like a Frenchman and a goat.

Shall I tell you about the accident?

“Yes please,” I hear you say.

I remember the accident very clearly. A gust of wind on that open bit of the M6 just South of Manchester, combined with a patch of ice on the tarmac and ‘here we go’ the back end of the Audi swung off to the right. Although Fat Boy Slim carried on shouting at me from the CD player, “slash dot dash dot slash dot com,” all the visual cues went into slomo. I did the right thing though and steered into the skid and I thought I had it cracked. The car straightened, I started to grin (you know that smug feeling you get right after you survive a close shave) but then the rear end went shooting off to the left -  a vicious swing - and this time and I knew I was in the crap.

Strangely, when I saw what fate had in store for me I was not at all scared. I remember heading for the concrete stanchion - car totally out of control - and mumbling, “Whoops.” Of all the profound things I could have thought or said in those last few moments, I managed to come up with whoops. Then … slash dot dash dot CRASH! Game over.

[Gory bits omitted]

Death itself is no great drama (so don’t fret over it). There’s no pain or anything unpleasant; it just goes very dark and very quiet. There’s none of this hovering over your body and bright lights twaddle you tend to hear about. Just curtains close, curtains open and here we all are in … will let’s just say, here we are up here.

So I’m up here and you’re down there. What’s the one big question you would like to ask me? Go on anything you like.

Ah! I could have guessed; the GOD question. Well let me tell you what I know about GOD. He does have a presence up here. It is in the big office block in the centre of town. He has a room on the 42nd floor, third door on the left as you come out of the lift. There’s a white wooden panelled door with ‘GOD’ printed in gold letters just above one of those little peephole thingies. No handle on the door though.

I went there myself once and put my ear up against the door to see if I could hear anything, but all I heard was the sound of …

I’m not sure if I should tell you any more. I can see that you are interested, but it’s not as simple as you might think. Shall I continue?

OK then, if you insist …

In as far as anything can trouble me here, it is the music thing. I keep hearing snatches of my favourites tunes. No one else seems to have the problem or have any idea why it happens to me, so I decided to take it up with G himself. And that is how I found myself listening at his door and wondering why there was no door handle.

Well the only thing to do was knock; so I did. The door opened and I walked in. You probably think I was nervous, but remember we have no emotions here so I wasn’t. Nor was I curious or excited. I was just - I don’t know really - following a set of actions as if they were preordained.

GOD’s room was decorated like an Indian restaurant. It had dark red carpets and flock wallpaper and was about 10 feet wide by 15 feet long. It had no windows. In the centre of the room was a desk on which stood a PC with a 19 inch flat panel monitor and a pair of speakers - one positioned at each end of the desk. The sound I had heard through the door - a kind of white noise like a gentle hiss - was coming from the speakers. I approached the PC. The closer I got to the desk the quieter the hiss became. Until eventually, as I stood right in front of the system, the noise just faded away.

The PC was powered up and the monitor was showing the screen saver. It was just a black background with the word GOD in gold letters swirling round and round. The mouse was on the left side of the keyboard (HE must be left handed I suppose). I pushed it lightly with the index finger on my right hand and the screen saver disappeared and a password prompt appeared. I figured that as everyone else uses either their birthday or their pet’s name, then maybe HE would do the same. As I had no idea when HE was born I typed in FIDO (I knew HE wouldn’t be a cat lover) and that was it; straight into the system.

There were just 2 icons on the desktop. One was a link to hotmail and the other had ‘webcam’ written underneath it. I was tempted to have a peek in HIS inbox, but then I remembered that I had no emotions and so no curiosity and then the temptation went away. I picked up the mouse and placed it on the right side of the keyboard and then moved the cursor so that it was hovering over the webcam icon. I double clicked the icon and a web browser window opened. It was blank initially and I watched the blue progress bar move across the bottom of the window. It seemed to take forever …

The progress bar neared the end of its range and then … the answer appeared. I stared at the screen and read for myself the meaning of life. Displayed there on the screen, quite clearly, no room for doubt, it said, “The page cannot be displayed.”

***
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

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Offline Mark H

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Re: Cast your vote - Challenge 35 Fiction entries
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2007, 11:18:29 AM »
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