8thdayfiction

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

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

He Had Hundreds Of Them

Ethan Hunt sat back and reflected on the past year.

It had been awesome.

Then again, every year was awesome when you shared a name with the Tom Cruise character from the Mission: Impossible franchise, but even by those standards, the past year had been off the charts.

For one thing, he’d started eating better and exercising and had lost twenty-two pounds.

And for another thing, the stage musical adaptation of the movie Kazaam he’d written, produced, and directed himself had not only made it to Broadway, but was a bona fide smash.

The show was considered a shoo-in to take home this year’s Tony for Outstanding Musical That Looks Terrible On Paper But In Reality When You See It Onstage It’s Actually Quite Good. And Ethan’s new close personal friend Shaquille O’Neal was already the overwhelming favorite to win Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of–who else?–Police Officer #1 (Taye Diggs was Kazaam; he was…serviceable in the role).

But–awards or no awards–Ethan Hunt was on top of the world: Fit, happy, successful, filthy rich, and powerful–the enormous success of Kazaam: The Musical had afforded him the clout to do pretty much anything he wanted next.

And what he wanted to do more than anything was to tell an original story. He had hundreds of them, which he had written down in a small journal he took with him wherever he went.

He would take the journal out from time to time, even when he wasn’t writing something new in it, to skim through what he’d already written and assess the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ponder which stories had the potential to be expanded, which were probably all they were going to be as is, and which ones maybe shouldn’t have been written in the first place (or at the very least, should have been better thought out).

Ethan honestly didn’t know what direction he’d go in next, but the sky was the limit, and that was extremely gratifying. He loved telling stories, and was overjoyed that he got to do so–especially for an audience as appreciative as the one he had.

He couldn’t wait to keep writing his stories and telling them. His only regret was he couldn’t possibly ever tell them all.

*****

Well…that’s all, folks.

To all of you who read the blog, posted comments, clicked the “like” button, shared any of these stories in the past year via Facebook or Twitter or your own blogs or wherever: THANK YOU.

To those of you who followed the blog, liked it enough to choose to receive updates via email, and did any or all of the above on a regular basis, an EXTRA-LARGE THANK YOU to you. I’d mention you all by name, but I know I’d inadvertently leave someone out and I don’t want to do that, so I’ll just write that I hope you know who you are and you should give yourselves a pat on the back (to the extent you can do that without pulling something–don’t hurt yourselves). I appreciate your dedication even more considering that I never got around to sprucing up this blog space beyond the basic template and you kept coming back anyway even though the space wasn’t much to look at. I’m tempted to make some pretentious remark about how I did that on purpose because I wanted the stories to speak for themselves, but the truth is I just never got around to it; I kept thinking “I should add a header photo or something to give this a fresh look”, but then I’d forget to do it and next thing I knew, it was already November and I was all, “Meh, too late now.”

But anyway, I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories as much as I have enjoyed writing them, and I hope the good ones that were worth your time and the additional message in your inbox outweighed the ones that made you say “Eh, I don’t know about that one.” (I’m going to go ahead and indulge the fantasy that that’s the harshest negative comment or thought anyone had about any of these stories.)

Finally, I will mention again what I mentioned in my very first post on this blog: I am planning on keeping the blog up beyond today, and I will post new stories on here from time to time. But starting tomorrow, the posts will no longer be daily.

And now, once more because I can’t say it (or write it) enough: THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

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Epiphany

Rose and Basil had a baby girl, and they named her Epiphany.

Partly because she was born on January 6th, and partly because their OB/GYN Dr. Oren Coles informed them that there was a good chance the baby would inherit her mother’s deficient short-term memory.

They figured, as it had been for Rose all her life (the pregnancy had been a particularly interesting several months, as every morning since she began showing, Rose would awaken, take one look at her swollen belly, and freak out and then need to be talked down by Basil–after he reminded his wife that he was her husband and not some stranger sleeping next to her), that their girl’s existence would be filled with a neverending series of epiphanies.

But it turned out that the child, on the contrary, not only remembered things well but remembered everything well. When she was old enough that such things could be done with reliable results, she was tested and it was official: Epiphany possessed an eidetic memory (it was apparently a recessive gene on Basil’s side of the family).

For a long time, Rose was not only disappointed her daughter did not share her genes, she was downright resentful of it. She and Epiphany would walk out the front door and Rose would marvel that the sky was blue; Epiphany would respond with “Yes…and those cloud formations look so much like the ones that were in the sky last October 16th. Weird.” Rose would ask her daughter “How do I look?”; Epiphany would respond with “Great–just like you did two days ago, last Thursday, and seventeen days before that, the other times in the past month you wore those exact same clothes and did your hair the exact same way.” Rose found it a bit maddening at times.

That all changed many years later, the day Epiphany graduated from high school–as the valedictorian.

Most of Epiphany’s speech came and went for Rose without her retaining much of it–not retaining much was kind of her thing–but the words Epiphany directed towards her mother stuck:

Mom: Thank you for bringing me into this world. Thank you for raising me. Thank you for being the best Mom you could be.

I know you named me at birth under the assumption that we’d be alike, and I know it hasn’t turned out that way. In fact, I know in some ways we couldn’t be more different.

But I love you just the same, and if I remember correctly–and I’m pretty sure I do–you love me, too.

But barely. As of today, the lifetime tally of Mom moments is 973 good, 971 bad. So, in conclusion, Mom: I hope you and Dad got me a nice graduation cake and gift.

Rose suddenly panicked and squeezed Basil’s hand. Anticipating what his wife was going to ask him, he leaned in and whispered in Rose’s ear “A frozen half-eaten Cookie Puss left over from my graduation, and a six-month trial gift subscription to Cat Fancy. We’re good.”

Rose sat back and smiled. She didn’t even realize until today that there had been a running tally of her Mom performance, but she was relieved that the tally was–and from the sound of it, would continue to be–in her favor.

Bethany’s Kidney

“Well, Bethany, I’m gonna tell it to ya straight: Your kidneys–both of them–are rapidly failing. Dialysis is no longer effective. Basically, you’ll need a transplant and you’ll need it as soon as possible. Otherwise? Well, I hate to tell you this but otherwise, you don’t have much time. A couple weeks, tops. Do you have any family members who may be willing and able to donate a kidney? Since time is of the essence, that would be your best bet. We’d need to get them in here to run the tests to see if they’d be a match ASAP.”

Bethany looked up at her doctor with tears in her eyes.

“My twin brother Jack is a perfect match. We talked about it a long time ago–when I first got sick–and he’s on board and he already got the tests. And he’s in perfect health, but…neither of us have health insurance. We can’t afford it. I’m already thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for the treatment I already got.” She put her head back down and started quietly sobbing.

“Well, in that case, there is another option…that doesn’t involve surgery.”

Bethany looked back up at her doctor. “How would you do a transplant without surgery?”

“Well, this is going to sound strange, but…we can do it by gerrymandering.”

And so they did. At the behest of Dr. Coles, the Board of Directors of St. Vincent Hospital convened an emergency meeting in which they voted unanimously in favor of a resolution redistricting the body of Jack Ogilvie so that his left kidney henceforth would belong to and function as part of the body of Bethany Ogilvie.

Bethany was released from the hospital the next day, her health already vastly improved. Jack was simply instructed via telephone to follow up with his family doctor to see what precautions he should take from now on as he’d be living with only one kidney.

But then, two weeks later, Bethany received a chilling letter in the mail from St. Vincent Hospital, which read:

Dear Bethany Ogilvie,

It has recently come to our attention that a man who went by the name of “Dr. Oren Coles” had infiltrated the hospital grounds posing as a “doctor of kidney stuff”.

“Dr. Coles” is, in fact, a wanted fugitive (real name: Henry Burnsides) who has outstanding warrants in several states for a number of misdemeanors and felonies, including attempted murder, cyberstalking, and check kiting. He has since been apprehended and is being held without bail pending a preliminary hearing.

Mr. Burnsides does not possess any medical expertise and has had no medical training. He is not qualified to give an opinion on any medical issue, much less advise patients in various stages of renal failure.

It has also come to our attention that Mr. Burnsides advised at least one patient–and possibly more–that they could obtain a new kidney without going through transplant surgery by simply “gerrymandering” another’s kidney. In fact, there is no such procedure, and any claims made by Mr. Burnsides to the contrary–including any claims Mr. Burnsides made about meeting with the St. Vincent Hospital Board of Directors to pass any so-called “redistricting resolutions”–are patently false.

If you have recently “received” a “gerrymandered kidney” and have been feeling better since “receiving” it? Well, that’s probably just psychological. Sorry.

We deeply regret this breach of security and strongly urge any patient of ours who had been “treated” by “Dr. Coles” to IMMEDIATELY seek medical attention.

We pride ourselves on the top-notch care our hospital provides to all our patients. We consider this incident a regrettable one, but not one that is representative of the type of care one can expect to receive at St. Vincent, and we hope you will consider us for the medical attention of which you are now desperately in need.

Yours In Good Health,

Frances Dunmire
Chief Executive Officer, St. Vincent Hospital

Bethany fainted from shock the moment she finished reading the letter, and she died the next day.

SO, DON’T EVER GO TO ST. VINCENT HOSPITAL! THEY DON’T HAVE ANY SECURITY!

PASS THIS STORY ALONG TO ALL YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, ESPECIALLY ANYONE WHO NEEDS A KIDNEY TRANSPLANT, DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE BETHANY MADE!!!

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Please disregard the above story. I looked it up on snopes.com, and it’s not true. Sorry about that.]

PTGD

Clayton’s grandfather was dying, so he had summoned Clayton to see him one last time before it was too late.

In his room, his grandfather–looking frail and tiny in the large hospital bed–handed Clayton a disc, saying “It’s nearly the end for me, Clay. Take this and watch it. It’s what I want to say to you.”

He went home that night, disc in hand, but couldn’t bring himself to watch it right away.

He finally sat down one evening about a week later to view Grandpap’s message.

His grandfather, looking much less gaunt than he had in the hospital, directly addressed the camera, offering Clayton “life lessons”: Follow the Golden Rule, spend your money wisely, don’t let work get in the way of having a good life, carpe diem…pretty standard stuff. But Clayton watched and absorbed it all, sobbing through the entire thing, realizing that any day he’d get the call that Grandpap had passed.

Then, right before he signed off, his grandfather offered one last tip: “And remember, Clayton my boy–always be prepared for a surprise.”

And at that exact moment, two hands grabbed Clayton by the shoulders from behind the couch.

Clayton leaped out of his seat and spun around.

Grandpap? But–”

“It’s me, in the flesh! Hope you were paying attention to that last bit of the video, son, ’cause I made a full recovery! HOT cha!”

And as Clayton crumpled to the floor in shock, his grandfather ran out from behind the couch and started doing The Ickey Shuffle right in the middle of Clayton’s living room.

*****

“And, babe? It was so traumatic–you don’t even know–that to this day, I have a hard time functioning normally. That’s why it’s so hard for me to keep a job.”

Maura took in all of this new information and considered it.

She had figured all along that Clayton couldn’t stay employed for more than a few months at a time because he was simply a shiftless loser. She had actually sat him down that afternoon to break up with him, but then somehow the conversation had taken a left turn into this weirdo Grandpap story of his, so she decided to give him one more chance.

She just felt too guilty to dump a guy who was obviously suffering from Post Traumatic Grandpap Disorder.

The Good Kind Of Magic

Steve knew he had married someone creative.

And driven.

But several times a year, every year, he was reminded just how creative and how driven Lori actually was.

A dinner party wasn’t just a dinner party. It was a swanky affair with immaculately laid out place settings of antique china and vintage silverware and napkins folded into elaborate shapes and a smorgasbord of made-from-scratch food that all coordinated with a theme for the night that had been months in the planning.

Their kids didn’t have toys. They had unique, hand-crafted toys from the most interesting companies, the result of hours of research undertaken to find the exact right things.

And the things they couldn’t find or couldn’t afford? Lori would make them herself. In her free time, of course–when she wasn’t taking care of their girls, cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, or just about any other household chore that needed to be done.

Most recently, though, it had been Christmas. They didn’t have a Christmas tree–they had about a dozen. Each of them set up and decorated by Lori, each dedicated to a particular theme and/or color scheme. For a period of about a week, Steve would go to work in the morning, then come home that evening to find–BAM!–two more fully-decorated trees in the house that hadn’t been there that morning, appearing like magic.

Yes, “magic” was the right word, because Steve didn’t know how she did it. But he loved it; it was one of the many things he loved about her. She was magic.

The good kind of magic, the she-does-all-these-amazing-things-and-I-don’t-know-how type of magic, not the cheesy smoke-and-mirrors-and-blow-dried-hair-and-melodramatic-hand-gestures-and-corny-“suspenseful”-music-and-dumb-fireworks-onstage-in-Vegas type.

*****

For Laura, on her birthday. You’re amazing–thanks for being the good kind of magic. I love you.

Lottery

“Hello?”

“Hello! Is this Bryce Bryson?”

“Speaking.”

“Wow–your parents must really hate you.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m just saying–that name: Bryce Bryson. YIKES.”

“OK, I’m hanging up now.”

“Wait! Wait! Bryce Bryson, I’m calling to inform you that you have WON THE LOTTERY!”

“What? Nuh-uh…seriously?”

“Seriously.”

“Wow, I–wait. Is this the regular buttloads-of-cash lottery, or the lottery where they kill you like in that short story?”

“Well, um…it’s the regular buttlo–”

“Because if it’s the lottery where you get killed, do I get to pick the way I go? It only seems fair–I should get something for winning, especially if “winning” means I die, you know? It should be like a last wish. Anyway, I think I’d like it to be by stoning. I’m sure it’d be painful, but I want to go out in the most dramatic way possible–I want people to still be talking about it years after the fact. And plus, doing it that way would be an old tip o’ the hat to the story, know what I mean?”

“Well, I–”

“So that settles it: Death by stoning. So, I’m assuming you’ll come to me?”

“I–”

“All right, then. Let’s say noon-ish, tomorrow? I’d like to have the rest of today to get my affairs in order and say my goodbyes and what-not. So I’ll see you tomorrow. I’ll just look for the guy in my front yard with the big sack of rocks, right? HAHA, all right, then. Take care.”

Bryce hung up the phone and laughed to himself.

Every January 2nd his dumb friend Jake–still buzzed from New Year’s Eve–would make these idiotic prank calls to all of his pals, including Bryce.

But this year, Bryce was ready for him.

Clean Slate

It was a new year. A clean slate.

A chance to start afresh, let go of the past and embrace the possibilities and opportunities which were sure to present themselves in the months ahead.

And Milt decided he was going to do just that. He was going to keep his eyes and ears open to find those opportunities and seize them; he was going to take life by the reins and live it to the fullest.

Of course, he had to get out of jail first. He was scheduled to be released in May, but by then almost half a year of reins-taking would be lost, so Milt made up his mind that he was going to bust out, maybe by tying a bunch of bed sheets together into a big rope that he could lower out the window to climb down to freedom. Or, maybe he could get someone to bring him a cake with a big file baked inside it.

Or, maybe he could dig a hole in the wall using a spoon and hide the hole behind a giant Rita Hayworth poster until he dug his way to the sewer and then waded to freedom via the sewer pipes.

Milt figured one of those things would totally work. And then: Clean slate, living to the fullest, etc.

But then, he realized the first order of business after busting out would be to track down those responsible for putting him in jail in the first place and get payback.

So it would be bust out, then revenge, then: Clean slate, carpe diem–all that stuff.

It was going to be a good year. Milt just had a feeling.

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