8thdayfiction

…and on the 8th day, micro fiction was published on some dude's blog.

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

AWUNNLMUOARWLTJSAKOE

She looked at her slip of paper: 201. This was the place.

She cracked the door and popped her head in. “Hi. Is this where the support group meets?”

“Yes. Come on in and have a seat.” A woman sitting within the circle of folding chairs waved her in with her clipboard.

She took a seat. The clipboard woman addressed her again. “Welcome. My name is Diane; I’m the facilitator of the group. We were just getting started. If you don’t mind, would you introduce yourself, please?”

“Oh, uh, sure.” She cleared her throat. “My name is Marth. Not Marth-UH, just Marth: M-A-R-T-H. My parents were going to name me Martha, but they figured they’d eventually start calling me Marth for short, so they decided to make that my actual name…and, um, that’s why I’m here.”

“Well, welcome, Marth.” There were waves and some mumbled “hi”s around the circle. “All right, let’s go around and introduce ourselves, everyone.”

There was Bobert. Not Bob or Robert–Bobert.

There was Billiam. Not Bill or William–Billiam.

There was Nance. Not Nancy–Nance.

There was CJ; his name was just those letters and they didn’t stand for anything.

And finally, there were the fraternal twins, Boy One and Girl One.

Diane spoke up again. “OK. Thank you, everyone.” She glanced at her clipboard. “So last week when we left off, we were talking about legally changing your name.”

Bobert jumped right in. “Yeah. People are always like ‘Oh–you don’t like your name? Then change it!’ But, you know, that’s easier said than done. First of all, we’ve lived with these names–for better or worse–our whole lives, you know? Changing it’s not like, you know, just getting a new email address or something. You have to go to court and file papers and it costs money, and I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t have piles of money sittin’ around.”

There were nods of agreement, then others chimed in and the discussion was underway.

Marth didn’t say much at that first meeting. She mostly just smiled. She had been skeptical about joining the group, but these were her people. She decided she was going to like being a part of AWUNNLMUOARWLTJSAKOE (Adults With Unfortunate Names, Not Like “Moon Unit” Or Anything Really Weird Like That, Just Strange And Kind Of Embarrassing).

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Thoughts

Janice rolled onto her side.

“What’re you thinking?”

“I was thinking that the song “Neutron Dance” probably should have been called “Free Neutron Dance” because regular neutrons are generally pretty stable whereas free neutrons are the ones that cause reactions and therefore would more appropriately be associated with an activity like dancing”, Steven said, staring at the ceiling. “Why–what’re you thinking?”

“Oh, um…nothing. Good night.”

“Oh, OK. Good night.”

Janice turned onto her other side, reached up and clicked off her bedside lamp, and pretended to sleep.

She was hoping they’d be able to talk, but it was useless trying to have a conversation with Steven when he was distracted thinking about either The Pointer Sisters or nuclear physics.

And if he was thinking about both at the same time? FORGET IT.

I Will Or Will Not Do All Of These Things

I will attempt to inflate your tires using only my lung power and assume they’re fully inflated once I get light-headed.

I will rotate the tires four times clockwise.

I will top off your fluids with Lemon-Lime Powerade and Hershey’s syrup, because those things kind of look like antifreeze and motor oil, respectively.

I will not replace your brake pads; I’ll just cut a hole in the floor of your car so you can stop it with your feet, Fred Flintstone-style.

I will replace your cracked windshield with a screen. BOOM–cracked windshield and broken A/C: FIXED.

I will soak your air filter in liquid smoke so your interior smells like burnt cube steak.

I will install your spark plugs upside down, just to see what’ll happen. I bet it’ll be cool.

I will not replace the burnt out headlights; I will duct tape a Maglite to each side of the car.

I will not fix the electronics; instead, I’ll cover the dash with Post-It Notes telling you what would be lighting up and where if the electronics were working.

I will not hammer out the dents; I’ll hammer in everywhere else until the body has a consistent, all-around denty look.

I will or will not do all of these things because I am Mr. Badwrench, and I will jack up your car–GUARANTEED.

Good NIGHT, Chad

“So…I had a good time.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Um, so…do you want to do this again some time?”

“Oh. Uh…sure, but I’ve been super busy lately–work and school stuff. Why don’t you just give me a call some time?”

Chad thought she sounded hesitant. But maybe it was just him.

“Oh, OK. Sure. I have your number, so–”

“Great! OK. Well…good night.”

“Good night.”

He leaned in for a kiss. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was her giving him a “What the–?” look and turning her head so it would be a kiss on the cheek instead of the lips.

Then his feet slid out from under him and he head-butted her cheekbone, knocking her to the ground with him.

“Oh man, I’m so sorry. Sorry–you OK?”

She got out from under him, lifted herself up, and brushed herself off. She lightly touched her cheek and winced. “I’m fine, Chad. I–I gotta go. Good night.” She hurried inside, slamming the door behind her.

As he struggled to get back up, Chad was ready to kill his frat brothers. This was his fifth date in a row that had been ruined by the rollerblades they’d superglued to his feet at last month’s party.

Banned

I should be there right now. Competing. It’s killing me that I’m not.

It’s killing me even more that it might stay this way. Little did I know at last year’s Nationals that it may have been the last time I ever solved for X.

At least, the last time ever doing it as a representative of the United States of America.

Because, while I do have an appeal pending, and I have faith in my legal team, as of right now I am banned for life from competitive mathletics.

Last month I–allegedly–tested positive for ginseng.

Which is LUDICROUS–how soon people forget that I was one of the first to speak out against memory-boosting supplements in all their forms back in the early 2000s when the first group of mathletes started testing positive. They forget that I endorsed league-wide testing when it was implemented…and was blacklisted by the Mathletics Union for YEARS because of it. They forget that I’ve even spoken out against caffeine, though it is still legal; they forget that I helped bring home the gold in 2008 WITHOUT chugging triple shots of espresso, unlike a good number of other mathletes whose names I could mention.

Or maybe people remember those things too well, and now they’re having their fun calling me a big fat hypocrite. I don’t know.

But I do know this: I have never–EVER–knowingly taken a banned substance, and I will go to my grave swearing it on my slide rule, because it’s the truth.

How the ginseng they claim was in my system got there, I’ll never know. My best guess is that, IF there was ginseng in my system, I must have ingested it unintentionally through some tea I had or something.

If that’s the case (and I think it is–again, IF there was ever any banned substance in my system at all), it was an honest mistake–a consequence of not monitoring my diet carefully enough. It wasn’t cheating.

I hope the Appeals Board sees it that way. I pray they do. I still have some math left in me, and I don’t want to go out like this.

Warren Weekly

Warren took a seat in the waiting room and reached for a magazine.

He looked down at his choice; he was staring at a picture of himself. It looked like him leaving the hospital last week. He vaguely remembered the clothes he’d been wearing, and it looked like the hospital entrance in the background.

Then he noticed the text. The periodical was entitled Warren Weekly, and the current issue’s headline, rendered in large, white, bold, all caps Helvetica:

HEMORRHOID SURGERY: A SUCCESS!
DETAILS INSIDE

He quickly flipped the magazine upside down so no one would see–as if he wasn’t sitting in the waiting room of the proctologist’s office, as if he wasn’t there for a follow-up appointment to double-check that his surgery was, in fact, a success. As if he wasn’t surrounded by other patients in said waiting room with maladies that were likely similar to his.

But still, as far as he knew, none of those other people were the cover story of a glossy gossip mag.

He turned the magazine back over and quickly flipped back the cover. He thumbed past the first few pages, looking for the masthead. He found it on the sixth page in: Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. There was a toll-free number listed amongst the publisher’s information.

Warren pulled out his phone as he stepped out of the waiting room and into the hall, taking the magazine with him. He was going to try to find out from whomever answered what the deal was with this magazine. And also, why their company had the same name as his Scottish terrier.

“Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. How may I help you?”

“Claire?”

“Warren. Hi…so, you discovered the magazine, huh?”

“Yes, I did…IN DR. FINNEY’S WAITING ROOM.”

“Oh, yeah–they’ve had a subscription for years. I’m actually surprised you didn’t find out sooner.”

“YEARS?” He said it louder than he’d meant to, then looked around and, seeing no one, returned to the phone, whispering. “Years? Claire, how long has this…magazine been in existence?”

“It’ll be ten years next month, as a matter of fact. I’m planning a big retrospective Collector’s Edition Double Issue.”

“Oh, really? And will my HEMORRHOIDS be part of that?”

“Oh, that.”

“YES, that!”

“Honey, look: I’m sorry if that embarrassed you, but I was just giving the readers what they wanted. The good news is, you’re very popular, and your fans were worried about you. You should see all the mail I got saying how glad they were that you were OK.”

Warren heard the nurse practitioner calling his name through the office door.

“OK, look, I gotta go. But we WILL be having a LONG discussion about this when I get home.”

And they did. Claire apologized to Warren again for keeping the whole enterprise secret, and gave him the entire story: How, armed with little more than a spy camera, a laptop, and some basic desktop publishing software, Claire had taken Warren Weekly from a little graphic design project she’d done on a lark and, over the past decade, built it up into an international publishing phenomenon. And she’d done it all right under Warren’s nose.

She told him how she wanted to let him in on it right away but she was afraid he’d be offended or that he’d think she was mocking him, and then the more popular Warren Weekly got, the harder it was for her to say anything because she felt that was all the more reason he’d be offended.

She told him how, unbeknownst to him until earlier that day, he was kind of famous in a weird way. Especially–and inexplicably–in Japan.

She told him how Mitzi Multimedia, Inc. and its flagship publication had earned them a good bit of money–money Claire had been depositing directly into their retirement fund. Long story short, they were going to live better in their golden years than they’d ever imagined was possible.

It was this last bit of information that finally got Warren on board. When she showed him the current balance in the retirement fund, Warren was suddenly far less self-conscious about his picture appearing on a magazine cover next to the giant word HEMORRHOIDS.

And as it turned out, the whole outing of Claire’s extracurricular activities came at just the right time. She was only weeks away from launching Warren TV online and via On Demand, and it was going to be WAY easier to get it up and running without having to do so on the sly.

The Audition

Marty’s name was called, and he got up, straightened the stack of photos he was holding, ran a hand through his hair, and entered the room.

At which point he promptly tripped about two steps in, sending his 8X10 glossies flying.

He scurried about on his hands and knees retrieving his head shots, muttering “Sorry, sorry you guys…sorry” as he crawled. He ducked under the table where the panel was seated to grab an errant photo and rose up too quickly, banging his head on the underside of the table as he backed his way out.

At that point he was covered in flop sweat, and as he stood back up, clutching a now mostly wrinkled and completely disheveled stack of photos, he ran the back of his hand across his brow, shook his head, and exhaled.

“OK, so sorry. My name is Marty Cr–”

As he stepped forward to shake hands, he slipped on one of his 8X10s he’d neglected to pick up, and he crashed to the floor, starting the humiliating scramble once more from the beginning.

He’d blown the audition. Or so he’d thought until he got the call later that same day. It turned out he’d nailed it–just not for the part for which he’d auditioned; they were passing on him for that.

But the Casting Director who had been sitting in on the auditions was also working on casting an infomercial for the MicroToastWokFryBlender, the world’s first truly all-in-one kitchen appliance. She’d been looking for someone to play “Bumbling Guy In The Kitchen”–the guy at the beginning of the ad who struggles with managing pots, pans, and all manner of kitchen appliances only to throw up his hands in frustration as if to say “Why can’t there be ONE kitchen tool to take the place of all this mess?”–and he was that Bumbling Guy.

Marty was over the moon. For the next month, he couldn’t stop talking about how he’d scored “a TV gig” and how the Casting Director had called him “a natural”.

He didn’t go into any more detail than that.

*****

If you’re keeping score at home (and there’s no reason you should be doing so), you’ll notice that today’s piece is story number 200!!! Thanks again to all of you who read, comment, share, like…it means a lot to me. You’re the best!

Howard Tanner, CPA

Howard had no regrets. The decision he’d made years ago got him noticed, which was vital when he was just starting out. It was a calling card–it still was.

He had no way of proving it, but he was convinced what he’d done had been instrumental in helping grow his business. He was sure he wouldn’t have been as successful had he not done it.

Still, there was a downside. Brenda wasn’t particularly fond of it, and his kids were mortified, especially now that they were teenagers. And he was almost certainly too old to pull it off at this point.

But there was no going back now. He was Howard Tanner: The Accountant With The Pink Mohawk, and he always would be.

At least until he retired. Then he’d be Howard Tanner: The Avid Fisherman With The Pink Mohawk.

As Billy Idol Would Say: ROCK AND ROLL FOREVER

As the song neared its conclusion, Mac took his instrument by the neck with both hands, lifted it over his head, and brought it down on the drum riser with a forceful ax-chopping-wood motion, smashing it to pieces in one blow.

There were a few cheers from the crowd, but mostly this quintessential rock and roll act was met with an awkward silence, as most in the crowd had never seen someone smash a mandolin before.

One thing was for sure, though: The Chick ‘n’ Pluckers’ rendition of “The Great Speckled Bird” was probably the most memorable one the Manorsville Bluegrass Festival had ever heard.

Goliath

As soon as the stone hit me, I knew it was over.

And the thing was, I was relieved. For one thing, it was the nature of the job. The possibility of death was always lurking over my shoulder. Oh sure, I was a warrior, and I guess people feared me or whatever. But I wasn’t invincible. I knew it was only a matter of time until someone proved it.

For another thing, I had been asking for it. Because I wasn’t just a warrior. I was a sideshow. And sure, it was fun at first. I liked the attention. I liked feeling powerful. But at some point, making sport of killing men half my size stopped being amusing.

To me, anyway; there were plenty of people who would’ve sat by watching me strike down soldier after soldier for the rest of their days, hooting and hollering as the men fell to the ground, lifeless. God only knows what fueled their bloodlust. All I know is, they disgusted me almost as much as I disgusted myself. It was one thing to take another’s life on the field of battle, but this murdering for entertainment? It was eating away at me. Literally–it was like the moral decay became a physical thing consuming me from the inside.

So as I felt myself falling to the ground, the weight–of my armor and of everyone’s expectations–was lifted. My grip loosened on my sword. I let go.

For the first time, I was unburdened.

The last thing I saw before I hit the ground was the kid. The one who’d put the stone in me. He looked shocked, like he couldn’t believe it had worked.

I must’ve looked that way, too. And I was shocked. I mean, a slingshot? Who’d have thought, right?

But had I had the ability to speak before it all went dark, if I could’ve seen the kid one last time in my dying moment, if I would’ve been given the opportunity for last words, I would have looked that kid in the eye and said, “Thank you.”

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