8thdayfiction

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

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.

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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.

An Excerpt From Ronnie’s Last Day As A Pyrotechnics Installer For The Zaroni Fireworks Company

“Ronnie?”

“Hey Jackie, what’s up?”

“Where are you right now?”

“I just finished setting up the job at Branch Ridge–that mega-church place, ya know?–and I’m on my way to stop and get a quick bite to eat before I come back to the office. You want me to pick you up a burger or somethin’?”

“No. What I want you to do is go back to Branch Ridge, apologize profusely, and fix your screw up.”

“Wait, wha–”

“I just got a call from their Executive Pastor who read me the riot act–in a nice, Christian way, but still–about the scaffolding you installed there.”

“Yeah, for the tower of sparklers. What, is there a problem?”

“Yes, Ronnie. There is. The pastor called because, sitting on the stage of their main auditorium is a sparkler tower which reads ‘HAPPY BOOBS YEAR’.”

“What? I–oh no…”

“Oh yes. So before you go to lunch, I’m gonna need you to go back to the church and dismantle that tower. Then I’m gonna need you to take the pieces of that tower, head back to Teazers Gentlemen’s Club–where you were this morning–and take down the sparkler tower on their stage that has the giant cross on it. Then, of course, you’ll have to re-set the right towers on the stages at both places. Then, go ahead and go to lunch. And then I’ll need you to come back here so we can have a talk about how you’ve now put us several hours behind schedule on one of our busiest days of the year and also how you’ve managed to cost us two of our biggest clients on the same day, OK?”

“Um, OK. Sor–”

The phone cut out.

Ronnie headed back to both work sites, switched the sparkler towers around, made his apologies, then headed to a late lunch.

He splurged and bought himself a Double Whopper, figuring it might be a while before he’d be able to afford such a meal again.

*****

So, in a little bit, I am going to sit down and write my very last story for this story-a-day-in-2012 project. On the one hand, I can’t believe I actually did it (or will have done it as of later this evening). On the other hand, I can believe it–it’s not like I climbed Mt. Everest or won a hot dog-eating contest or something amazing like that.

ANYway, my point is that I just wanted to remind those of you who have faithfully read these entries throughout the year that, as I have been posting the stories on a week delay, there will continue to be a new story posted daily on this ol’ blog through next Monday, Jan 7th, 2013, so there’s (a bit) more to come. And at that time, I’ll attach a proper thank you to all of you, but for now I just wanted to say: Thanks again for reading, and HAPPY BOOBS (sorry) NEW YEAR!

Warp Speed

Brandy and the salesman were cruising down the road when she noticed a button on the dashboard.

“Whoa–is that for real?”

“Yeah–go ahead and push it.”

She pushed the button, and the minivan lurched forward and started going about ten miles per hour faster than it had been going.

The salesman noticed that Brandy seemed unimpressed and decided to try to change her mind.

“So, whattaya think of that? Pretty cool, huh?”

“Honestly? No, not really. Seems like kinda false advertising. They should name that button what it is: “Go Kinda Faster” or something. But it’s definitely not “Warp Speed”.”

“No, it’s not, you’re right. Take a closer look at the button.”

She did. “Oh. OK…”Warped Speed”. Um, so…what does that mean?”

“When you press the Warped Speed button, the vehicle automatically either increases or decreases acceleration–depending on how fast you’re going when the button is pressed–so that the van’s speed exactly matches the average speed of the buses used to transport acts around the country that were involved in the Vans Warped Tour from the years 1997 to 2004.”

“Uh, wha–why would anyone want that? It seems pointless.”

“I don’t know. Why do people want climate control in their cars? Does it really make a difference if the interior temperature is seventy-one degrees as opposed to seventy-two? It’s just an extra thing you can get–I don’t know what to tell you other than that.”

“OK, then…so, do you have any sedans with a Lilith Fair Speed button?”

“Um, no…but–”

“I was just kidding. But seriously, what else ya got?”

“Well, we can head back to the lot and look some more if you’d like.”

They headed back, and by the end of the day, Brandy had made a purchase: A Certified Pre-Owned Chevy Celebrity equipped with a Monsters Of Rock Speed button.

She was very happy with her choice; that baby could move. Especially for a station wagon.

The Big Book Of Burns

Gerald decided he was going to write a book, and at first, things went swimmingly: He thought of the idea for the book (a compendium of “burns” for every occasion) and its title (The Big Book Of Burns) pretty much right away.

But when he began writing the actual content of the book, he quickly hit a wall. After a month, he had only come up with two “burns”, and even those had serious problems as far as practical use or even basic logic were concerned:

1) “Asbestos? More like asWORSTos!”
Not bad if the insult is being directed towards asbestos itself, but why would you be “burning” an inanimate object? You could say it to someone suffering from asbestos exposure-induced mesothelioma, but then it’s not a burn but rather an expression of empathy towards the ill by way of stating a dislike for the thing that caused their illness. It could possibly be a “burn” directed towards a defense attorney representing a company that had allegedly played a part in causing someone’s mesothelioma by exposing the plaintiff to the asbestos, but this use seemed a little niche-y.

2) Call of Duty? More like PLOP OF DOODY!”
Gerald didn’t know much about video games, but he had nieces and nephews who were into them and he was fairly certain those Call Of Duty games were actually pretty popular.

Gerald took one more look at his notebook, then decided to file it away indefinitely.

He realized that, for now at least, it wasn’t happening and he’d just have to stick with his day job as Executive Director of the New York Friars Club.

The Cake Was Good

“Well, the cake was good.”

Carolyn’s eyes about burst from their sockets in a frightening death stare. “Really? THAT’S what you took away from that? “The cake was good”? Honestly Todd, are you being serious right now? “The cake was good”–un-fuh-REAKING believable! Well I’m glad you enjoyed it so much, because God knows I don’t think anyone else did!”

She went back to sobbing, which she had been doing pretty much non-stop since the big reveal earlier that afternoon.

Carolyn’s sister Jessie and her husband Tyler were expecting. Jessie was far enough along that they’d been able to determine the sex of the child at her most recent ultrasound, so they had sent out invitations to some family and close friends to gather at their place for the big announcement. Patterned after something Jessie had read in some magazine, the announcement had taken the form of cake. Specifically, white cake that was to be dyed either blue for a boy, or pink if baby was a girl; the color of the cake–and therefore, gender of the baby–to be revealed to the guests when the frosted cake was cut.

Todd wasn’t much for baby celebrations, and Jessie wasn’t his favorite person in the world, but they’d been invited, she was Carolyn’s sister, and Jessie and Tyler had been trying for a baby for a while so it was a big deal.

And also: Free cake.

So Todd tagged along with Carolyn and made small talk with her dad in the cramped kitchen/dining room area of Jessie and Tyler’s apartment while surreptitiously eyeing the cake as it sat on the kitchen counter.

And then Todd’s loving, subtle cake gaze was interrupted by Jessie, who was finally getting the show on the road.

After an impromptu speech in which Jessie thanked everyone for “going with me and Tyler on this journey” (Jessie’s drama queen tendencies were one of the things Todd disliked about her), the cake was cut, and it was…

Green.

With a stripe of blue icing separating the layers.

And Jessie’s explanation that followed? Had Todd not been there and heard it first-hand, he would’ve dismissed it as the dumbest science fiction tale he’d ever heard.

For what Todd heard (he didn’t catch all of it over the yelling and crying of Jessie’s family) was as follows:

The cake was green because Jessie was carrying a half-alien baby. The father was a space lizard from the planet Quarkon who had come to Earth a few months back for some R & R, and during that time, he and Jessie had hooked up.

Tyler didn’t know this until recently, but Jessie had tearfully confessed, the two of them had a long talk during which they agreed to go to counseling and Tyler forgave Jessie and decided he’d be the best father he could be even if the baby didn’t turn out to be his. The ultrasound had been hard on Tyler, but he was holding up OK and was still “pumped” to be a “dad”.

Jessie and Xyklor had decided to go their separate ways after their regrettable dalliance, but of course Jessie had to get back in touch with him after the ultrasound. Xyklor was shocked–he’d used protection, a detail NO ONE had asked for but Jessie provided anyway–but he was also excited about being a dad; he and Jessie decided they’d share custody of the child.

This, of course, meant that the little one would probably spend most summers and alternating holidays with dad in the Quasar Nebula, which was a long commute, but they’d make it work.

Tyler was apparently OK with this.

Also, once out of the womb and while on Earth, the baby would need to sleep submerged in water, as he (Oh yes–the blue icing inside the cake? Because the baby was–probably–a boy) would be half space lizard and that’s just how they slept. The bathtub would work while he was little but he’d need something bigger once he got older.

Jessie and Tyler decided they’d cross that bridge when they came to it.

Jessie went on to say a bunch of other stuff that afternoon (she loved the sound of her own voice, another trait of hers Tyler didn’t care for): Stuff about facing the challenges of raising a multicultural, mixed-species child. How she didn’t expect anyone to forget what she had done but that maybe someday everyone might come to see that she was a good person who just did a very bad thing but please, no matter what, promise me you won’t take it out on my son.

You know, the usual things one says when confessing to an extramarital affair with an alien.

As she rambled on, Todd’s attention was drawn to Tyler. He was putting up a good front, standing by his woman, but to Todd he unmistakably had the look of someone who’d been made a cuckold by a space lizard.

And who would eventually have to figure out how to install a small above-ground pool in his second-floor two-bedroom apartment for his “son” to sleep in.

Then, at some point, Jessie finally stopped talking, and those who hadn’t already stormed out in disgust left the shindig in a daze.

And there Todd was, driving home listening to his wife sob and not knowing what to say. So he made what seemed to him to be the best, most innocuous comment possible.

But he was wrong, and as he kept driving he realized that family gatherings with the in-laws for the next eighteen years or so were going to be super awkward.

But then again, maybe there’d be cake. Because it really had been quite good.

He had to give Jessie that.

QuizMasters

“All right! Welcome back to QuizMasters. Once again, I’m Jiff Blaster the Quiz Master here with Tammy Price! Tammy’s made it to our Lightning Bonus Round. How ya feelin’, Tammy?”

Quizzical, Jiff!”

“OK, don’t–don’t do wordplay. That’s my thing, that’s the Quiz Master thing, got it?”

“Got it. Sorry.”

“OK, Tammy–I hope you’re feeling quizzical…eh? Eh?”

“Oh…ha! Right, yes, I sure am!”

“Good, ’cause it’s Lightning Bonus Round time! Here’s how it works–I will mention ten things, and for each of those ten things, you will answer either yes or no to the question: Does it go on a Ritz cracker? So Tammy–are you ready?”

“I’m ready!”

“OK, here we go. The Lightning Bonus Round starts…NOW! Item number one: Spray cheese.”

“Um…YES!”

Regular cheese.”

“YES!”

“Aretha Franklin’s butt.”

“Huhwha…?”

“Did I stutter, Tammy?”

“Well, no. I–”

“OK, then, for the second time: Aretha Franklin’s butt.”

“So…just her butt, or is it all of Areth–”

“Tammy for God’s sake it’s not rocket science yes or no Aretha Franklin’s butt!”

“Oh, um…no?”

Thank you…pepper jack cheese.”

“YES!”

“Brie.”

“YES!”

“A slice of pepperoni.”

“YES!”

Two slices of pepperoni.”

“Um…uh, YES!”

“Cheese spread.”

“YES!”

“A second Ritz cracker.”

“Um…yes. YES!”

“And finally…a cassette tape of After The Rain by Nelson.”

“Um…uhh…”

Nelson, Tammy–Matthew and Gunnar, twin sons of Ricky, their debut album featuring the epic title track as well as the mega-hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” and the feel-good anthem “More Than Ever”? One of the all-time greatest pop rock bands at their creative and commercial peaks, presented in convenient cassette tape format, maybe you’ve heard of it?”

“Right, right…um, NO!”

“OK, and that completes the Lightning Bonus Round. To win, Tammy, you needed to respond to each item correctly with either a yes or no: Does it go on a Ritz cracker?…oooh, and I’m sorry Tammy, but that sad trombone sound means you did not respond to each item correctly. It turns out the correct answer was yes for every item.”

“But…Aretha Franklin? A Nelson tape?”

“OK, first of all, it was Aretha Franklin’s butt. And it was a tape of After The Rain by Nelson, not just any old Nelson tape. Second of all, yes, Tammy. They are all things–they can all go on a Ritz cracker.”

“OK–I just thought that since the others were food, that–”

“Well, you thought wrong. But the good news is, I’m going to give you one more Super Extra Bonus Item, and if you answer correctly, yes or no: Does it go on a Ritz cracker?…you still win!”

“Well…OK!”

“All right, Tammy…your Super Extra Bonus Item? The soul of a shoe. Yes or no–Does it go on a Ritz cracker?”

“YES! Yes it does, Jiff! It’s a thing–YES!”

“No, Tammy, I’m sorry–that sad trombone sound once again means you are incorrect. We were referring not to the bottom part of a shoe, but rather the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of a shoe–soul as in S-O-U-L which, while certainly a thing, is not a physical entity and therefore most definitely would not go on a Ritz cracker. I thought that was pretty obvious, Tammy.”

“Oh…wel–”

“But Tammy, you’re not going home empty-handed–we’re giving you a year’s supply of Buttery Rounds!”

“What are Buttery Rounds?”

“They’re off-brand Ritz crackers, Tammy. Try to keep up.”

“Oh.”

Buttery Rounds: They’re Ritz Crackers For Those Of Us Not Named Warren Buffett!

Well, that’s all the time we have here on QuizMasters. I’m Jiff Blaster the Quiz Master, reminding you to Seriously, Just Answer The Question. Good night!”

The Lobby Justice League

They were all retired lobbyists who were acquainted with one another through their years spent navigating the overlapping social circles of Washington, DC. And all of them, without exception, had made very comfortable livings lobbying on behalf of what could most politely be called “morally compromised” industries: Tobacco, firearms, alcohol, agricultural conglomerates, and energy companies and the like. Basically, anything you could preface with the word “Big” to use as shorthand for capitalist entities so rich and powerful they just had to be operating outside the law.

They had all made their money and had their fun, and now that they were retired they had all decided they wanted to leave a legacy beyond simply helping the rich get richer. They decided to do it the best way they knew how: By lobbying–not for profit, but for the common good.

(They also took to dressing in masks and spandex suits and referring to themselves as “The Lobby Justice League”, facts which have no bearing on the story but are mentioned solely because I find them delightful).

Their first order of business: Getting Boxing Day status as an official, honest-to-goodnes-don’t-have-to-go-to-work holiday in the United States. It was already a holiday in other countries, and who wants to work the day after Christmas?

That law practically passed itself.

But The Lobby Justice League didn’t stop there. They decided they wanted the entire week–every day between Christmas and New Year’s Day–made an official holiday. They made up their minds that a week of vacation for all at the end of the year (not just for most teachers and students) was going to be their holiday gift to America.

And seeing as how they had all been successful lobbyists–thinking big and getting what they wanted were second nature to them–by the end of December the following year, in addition to Boxing Day Americans were also enjoying these days off:

December 27th: Eva LaRue Day (in honor of her birthday).
December 28th: Meh Day. A few days after Christmas, but too soon to celebrate the New Year? Meh.
December 29th: The Feast Of Not Quite New Year’s. Basically, a second Thanksgiving (in fact, this day would come to be commonly referred to as “Thanksgiving II”).
December 30th: List Day. A day for citizens to spend with their families, compiling lists of the Best and/or Worst (music/movies/quotes/hairstyles/books/chicken nuggets–whatever) of the past year.
December 31st: New Year’s Eve. Another gimme, like Boxing Day. Who wants to work? A day for sleeping in and preparing for the evening’s festivities.

So this year, during, say, your Meh Day observances, or as you compile your Top Ten Most Satisfying Sneezes Of The Year on List Day, take a moment to give thanks to the members of The Lobby Justice League for making it all possible.

In fact, Thanksgiving II would be the perfect day to do just that–in between mouthfuls, of course.

A Shia LaBeouf Christmas

He was awakened by the sound of his vibrating phone skidding across the glass-top coffee table next to the couch where he’d fallen asleep.

“Hullo?”

“LaBOOF! LaaaBOOOOOF! HAHA–Merry Christmas LaBOOF!”

He heard the sound of the phone being passed to someone else.

“LaaaaaaaaBOOOOO–”

He hung up on them. The phone immediately started vibrating again. He turned it off and tossed it back onto the table, kind of enjoying the muffled clunk it made against the thick glass.

He rubbed his eyes. He didn’t recognize the number but he was pretty sure who it was. He’d met this girl at the club the night before, made out with her for a bit, had given her his number, and then her boyfriend showed up. A minor shoving match ensued, the girl–What was her name? Megan? Melanie? He was pretty sure it was an M name–managed to get the boyfriend to leave before it became an actual fight, and after that, the night was a blur. The voices on the other end mispronouncing his name were definitely male and probably drunk; he was almost positive the boyfriend had swiped his girl’s phone and had every intention of calling non-stop at least until he sobered up and maybe after that as well.

So he was going to have to change his number. Again. He rubbed his eyes some more, and–

Wait. Had that guy said “Merry Christmas”?

Huh. It was, wasn’t it?

So he wasn’t going to be changing his number today. But what was he going to do with himself? He didn’t have anyone to spend the day with, and he wasn’t particularly big on Christmas–either the religious or secular versions. It was just a quiet day off for him.

Too quiet–he needed to occupy himself. He could drink; he had a small stash of moonshine he’d swiped from the Lawless set. But he was saving that for a special occasion–ideally, when he had someone (or a bunch of someones) to share it with. Drinking on his own usually didn’t end well. Best case scenario: Some idiots keep prank calling you; worst case scenario: You’re led out of the Walgreens in handcuffs. So he was trying his best not to do that these days.

He could chill and watch A Christmas Story one or two or three times, or maybe find that Yule Log channel, if they had that in L.A. Maybe that was just a New York thing.

He finally decided to go see his mom, and maybe his dad after that. He didn’t have gifts for them, but he decided he’d just tell them he ordered them something but it wasn’t in yet and that’d buy him some time to get something after the fact. He didn’t know what it would be, but it would be something nice. He’d dip into his Transformers cash and splurge a bit.

He grabbed his jacket, keys, and phone. As he headed out the door, he turned the phone back on.

42 MISSED CALLS. 37 NEW VOICEMAILS.

He smiled and shook his head, then placed a call to his mom to let her know he was on his way.

He decided to save the messages; he figured Mom and Dad would get a kick out of listening to them.

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