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Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb

20 June 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note – I wrote this many years ago, but since I’ve been slacking for a couple of months, you only get a throw-back for now.

I woke up with a start.  There was a large truck or something driving past honking wildly at what I could only imagine was an old lady that had fallen in the road, or perhaps a plastic bag fluttering by the windshield.  Plastic bags have caused several devastating accidents in recent times, you know.

I stumbled out of bed and headed absently towards the shower as weekday mornings lead me to do.  “It is a weekday morning isn’t it?” I thought to myself as I passed by a mirror that was hanging on the wall.  Stopping for a brief glance, I pondered as to whether I had seen this mirror before, and had it seen me?  What an odd position for a mirror – the wall of a bathroom.  Then something caught my eye.  A sight which had never truly caught my eye before.  A glorious vision seen only by people in starving countries envisioning the vision of the virgin Mary in their flatbreads or Jesus in their water glasses.

My hair was perfect.

It was almost as if someone broke into my house with some movie-quality salon equipment.  Perfectly shaped; almost molded.  It was a hair-do of which Elvis would have even been jealous.  “Fate is on my side today,” was the thought rushing into my mind.  “Is there some sort of way i can get out of my pyjamas and get dressed without disturbing this act of god?”

I woke up with a start.  There was a large truck or something driving past honking wildly at what I could only imagine was an old lady that had fallen in the road, or perhaps a plastic bag fluttering by the windshield.  Plastic bags have caused several devastating accidents in recent times, you know.  I looked into the mirror and thought to myself, “my hair’s a complete mess!”

It was all a dream.

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Butterfly Apocalypse

26 March 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

* Note – This was an idea I’ve had for a while since taking a walk through the park and seeing hundreds of black and red caterpillars crawling all over the place.  I wrote a paragraph, sat on it for ages without doing anything, then scrapped and rewrote it in the last fifteen minutes of the workday.  It’s not so much a story as an idea for a larger story.  Enjoy!

“They’re so beautiful!  I’ve never seen this many in one place before!  It’s absolutely stunning!”

“This is the exact reason why I try to skip work once a year in the spring time.  I always hope to catch a glimpse of spring time magic,” Jason replied to his wife.  His long-shot guess is that there were in the area of several million butterflies in the park surrounding them.

Under normal circumstances the walk along the Credit River was beautiful, especially in the spring.  The grass was always vibrantly green, nourished by recent rainfalls and high water levels in the river.  The trees were always green and lively.  The wildflowers would peek up through the other plant life.  Squirrels, snakes, toads, chipmunks, deer all typically took advantage of the lush nature of spring time around the river.

This year’s springtime elegance was completely different.  The usual lush vegetation was there, but the chirping birds and chattering rodents seemed to be missing, and in its place a literal blanket of butterflies that seemed to coat every available square inch of every surrounding tree.  Even the grass was coated by the patchwork quilt of butterfly wings.  It almost looked as though small animals could be running under the blanket when they flicked their wings open and shut.  Everything was covered except for the path they were walking on.  Jason had never seen a butterfly congregation in this magnitude, but he played it off as if it were a common occurrence in the hopes to impress his wife Wendy.

It was almost an eerie silence, but still quite peaceful.  “They come here to lay their eggs in peace, since there are no birds around.  They’ll lay their eggs and in a couple of days, they’ll all be gone.  Before you know it, the eggs will all hatch and there will be thousands of caterpillars making their way out of the forest and on to the rest of their lives.”  He was making it all up now, but it sounded logical to him and his wife seemed impressed.

Wendy walked closer to one of the trees and slowly reached her hand out.  Jason smiled as a dozen butterflies leapt off the tree and slowly descended onto her arms and head.  One slowly fluttered down onto the tip of her nose.  Jason could almost see the reflection of its delicate red and black wings in his wife’s eyes.  And then she started screaming and swatting.

“Get this damn thing off of me!!”

Blood started pouring down her face as hundreds more butterflies began their descent from the trees onto her flailing body.  Jason rushed over and started swatting and stomping on them as his wife started lay twitching and bleeding on the ground.  Her eyes started to roll back into her head and nothing but a low rumble made its way from her now.  Still swatting and stomping, Jason could see that thousands more of them fluttered out of the trees, darkening the sky above him.

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The Ghost in the Kleenex Box

17 March 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

*Note – Just a quick one for now inspired by the Kleenex box that keeps rattling magically in the middle of the night.  Let me know if you think I should draw it out a bit more.  Enjoy!

rattle rattle rattle thunk thunk thunk

Jean-Jacques slowly opened his eyes and glanced over at the clock – 3:34 am – this was now six days in a row.

rattle rattle rattle

It wasn’t really a big deal.  None of this ever went beyond the rattling, but he had yet to figure out its cause.

“Pierre, tell me why this box of tissues must dance every morning at 3:34!”

No response.

“Pierre, you are as lazy as you are beautiful.”

Pierre’s left hind leg shot up in the air as he started to lick his unmentionables.  The small grey tabby seemed to be rather indifferent to the dancing box of tissues and unwilling to offer Jean-Jacques some sort of response.

Jean-Jacques grabbed the tissue box, sh0ok it about, then took out one tissue and blew his large nose and wiped his bushy moustache clean.  For some reason, shaking the box seemed to calm it down enough to keep it from dancing for another day.  He stared the tissue box down for a moment longer.  “Enough from you eh! I have to be up for work in two hours!”

The tissue box stared back in silence.  It desperately wished that it could respond to the giant lumberjack, but no words could escape it – only tissues.  And with each tissue that was removed from the depths of its rectangular body, its life on earth was shortened.  It was afraid.  What came  next for the tissue box?  Heaven? Hell? An eternity in a landfill?  Not knowing filled the tissue box with dread and fear.  And the only one seemingly able to hear his cries for help or attention was Pierre, the small grey tabby who seemed to care nothing about anything that wasn’t rubbing his belly.

“If you’re done you’re dance, it’s time for me to sleep again eh?” asked Jean-Jacques.

The tissue box sat silently, exhausted from its previous attempt to communicate and Jean-Jacques shaking what little energy it had out of it.

Jean-Jacques flicked the light off again.  The tissue box turned its attention to Pierre.  His foot was still pointing straight up in the air, but his stare was now keenly on the box of tissues.

“He belongs to me,” meowed Pierre.  He lowered his head to finish the business he started moments ago.

The tissue box waited helplessly.  In 24 hours, he would try again.

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Cup of Tea

10 March 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

* Note, this story needs a little something, but at this point I’m not quite sure what. Maybe a little more beginning and ending, maybe it has too much middle?  I’m not sure.  Feedback is encouraged.  Enjoy!

Jack set the big tea pot down on the counter just as the whistle on the kettle started to blow.  He was definitely going to need the big tea pot to figure this one out.

He threw two bags of jasmine green tea into the tall beige teapot and hung his head shamefully for a moment, wondering just how it was that he let things get this far.  He never intended for things to get this far, but sometimes they just happened.

Jack poured in the boiling water from the kettle and watched as it started to change colour.  He loved just watching as the cloud of tea emerged from the bag, starting to infuse with the rest of the water.  Today it helped him, if only for a moment, forget that there was someone in his bed right now.  Someone who was going to need his attention long before he was finished this pot of tea.

Curtis, a coworker of Jack’s at the soda factory, had come by a few hours before.  Jack always felt nervous when Curtis was around him.  He was so much smarter than Jack, and often used that to tease him about his job performance, his clothing, his lunch.  There were times when Curtis could be the most helpful person in the world, but those times were usually followed by snide comments that Curtis figured Jack was too slow to understand.  And maybe sometimes he was, but they still hurt all the same.

Jack pondered for a moment as he sipped the last few drops of his first cup of tea.  He couldn’t even think of the reason why Curtis had come by in the first place.  The confusion of the situation really started to hit him as soon as he opened the door and saw Curtis standing there.  Jack typically tried to avoid contact with anyone for the first hour or so after he’d taken his pills because everything got so cloudy and hard to remember.

What Jack did remember was Curtis’s reaction to his art.  Two of his soap gargoyles were sitting on the dining table, unfinished but still perched upon their soap boxes.  Curtis laughed.  Laughed until he was red in the face, doubled over and pointing at them.

Jacks face grew red as well, but not with laughter.  First it was embarrassment, then anger, then rage.  Beyond that point, the details were clouded by Jack’s medication, but he seemed to remember stumbling through his words to offer Curtis a cup of tea while darting toward the kitchen to try to avoid the humiliation that was happening right in the center of his home.

Jack looked at the chef’s knife on his counter remembering the day he bought it.  “Never needs to be sharpened!!” was printed in bold red letters on the packaging, which Jack was particularly fond of because he never remembered to do things like sharpen knives.  Now it sat there on the counter, still not needing to be sharpened but definitely needing to be at least washed.  Jack figured he should probably just throw it out.  Food never tasted the same when he used a mistake knife to prepare it, and this situation with Curtis had definitely gotten past the “mistake” point.

Jack finished off his second cup of tea and washed the blood off his hands.  Looking down at the teapot and cup he quickly realized that perhaps that should have been the first thing he did before putting on the kettle – or had he put the kettle on before Curtis came by?  It was all such a blur.

He grabbed the chef’s knife and headed into the bedroom for the inevitable.

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The Lost World – A Review

6 March 2013 in Book Reviews

*  Note – Last week’s class was about reviews – reviewing books, music, shows, etc.  Since I just finished reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, I present my review for it here.  Enjoy!

I don’t think I ever really grew up.  Mentally, at least.  I’m sure the sideburns and receding hairline may tell the world otherwise, but deep inside I’m pretty sure I maxed out somewhere between the ages of twelve and fifteen.  A brilliant age where the imagination is (at least hopefully) still alive and adventure is always sought.  There’s a small part of me that always hoped that somewhere, in some distant, unexplored corner of the world, there may be some seemingly prehistoric beast or a tribe of people that have not yet been exposed to the technological catastrophe we call civilization.  And that is exactly what drew me in to The Lost World.  It’s a tale of adventure and discovery, of conflict and battle, romance, and lots and lots of anticipation.

The story is told by Edward Malone, a journalist for The Daily Gazette in the early part of the 20th century, begging his editor for an exciting, adventurous assignment in the hopes that this selfish display of courage will entice the woman of his dreams, thereby making him the man she wants and her the wife that he thinks he needs.  His editor, seeing this ridiculous display, sends him on what he thinks is an impossibility – getting the truth out of Professor Challenger.  Challenger had been on a trip to the Amazon rainforest a year before and came back a changed man, full of wild tales of prehistoric beasts but sadly, no legitimate proof.

Malone manages to win the confidence of the professor, and they both manage to convince the biological society to allow them to prove themselves right or wrong.  They are partnered up with the skeptical Professor Summerlee and the adventurous Lord John Ruxton, an avid sport hunter, and set out upon their journey.

That may seem like an excessively long set up for a one liner about an expedition, but largely that’s how the entire book plays out.  The book builds itself up to four climactic peaks, but falls from each of those peaks perhaps a little too quickly.  A massive amount of time is spent gaining the editor and professor’s trust, then they are thrust into the expedition.  Another long setup as they travel along winding rivers and unexplored jungle, and so on.

Doyle does deliver on the promise of dinosaurs and lost tribes, and even throws in an epic battle, but by the time all of this occurs, our main characters are ready to go home and tell the world of their conquest.

The Lost World is an enjoyable story, but most of the excitement of the story is anticipation rather than genuine excitement, and most of the action that does occur is fairly predictable, although that could partly lie in the fact that this story is a hundred years old.  Part of me is eagerly looking forward to reading the next in the line of Professor Challenger novels, but part of me is expecting more expectation than excitement.

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Skipping Class

29 January 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note – tonight’s creative writing class was about dialogue, and the topic I picked was “skipping class.”  The following story is based on a true story.  The names have been changed to protect the guilty.  Enjoy!

“I can’t believe he still hasn’t seen us,” Jason whispered.

“He never does.  He’s making this too easy.  We’re gonna have to come up with another way to do this,” Mike replied.

The two teenagers stood motionless at their grade 12 Algebra class staring in, silently hoping Mr. Robinson wouldn’t notice them.

“Screw this, I’m going,” Mike muttered.

“Shut up and wait for the bell.  You know that’s the rule,” Jason replied.

“Fine, have it your way.  You know I’m right though.”

Every day, Jason and Mike wandered slowly towards their first period class – Algebra with Mr. Robinson – and stopped at the door.  They both despised the teacher and were annoyed to no end that someone could slowly suck their love of mathematics from their lives.  It was almost as if setting foot in Mr. Robinson’s class meant that they had to relinquish a small piece of their soul.

Every day they got to the classroom door, stood, and waited.  Long ago they made an agreement with each other:  if Mr. Robinson saw them, they would slowly enter the class, sit down, and endure the mundane seventy-two minute nonsensical lecture that was Robinson’s Algebra Homeroom.

If, however, the second attendance bell rang and they had not been spotted, they moved on to Plan B.

The two boys had been friends since the ninth grade, and had been in every math class together since then.  Calculus, Finite Maths and Geometry had all been conquered in the previous semester with fantastic results.  This semester, Algebra was proving to be a challenge.  Not because of the difficulty of the subject, but because their teacher was a pompous ass.

Mike glanced impatiently at his watch.  It seemed to be creeping along slower than ever.

“For crying out loud! That damned bell is NEVER going to ring and he’s going to see us.  Dude, I REALLY need that milkshake.”

By Mike’s count, they had successfully dodged class using this method on fifteen occasions.  Each time, he and Jason would hop into his Honda, burn out of the high school parking lot and head downtown to McDonald’s for a chocolate milkshake.  They would never skip class two days in a row, though, and thanks to Mr. Robinson’s oblivious nature, the constant excuse of “I was sick” coupled with morning allergies was typically met with the reply of “you don’t sound well.”

“Thirty seconds,” Jason whispered.

“About frickin’ time,” complained Mike.

Mike kept his eyes on his watch.  He loved that watch – the green Swatch his uncle had bought for him a decade ago was a collector’s item now.

“BOYS, so nice to see you!” bellowed Mr. Robinson.  He sounded kind of like Leslie Nielsen, only if Leslie Nielsen ate people’s souls instead of making comedy movies.

“I hate you,” mumbled Mike.

“What was that?” Mr. Robinson trumpeted.

“I’d love to,” Mike groaned.

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That Was Close

29 January 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

* Note – this is definitely just the beginning.  I’m mostly just putting this here to remember to finish it.  Stay tuned for its epic conclusion…

“I really need to put bars on that window.  This is getting slightly ridiculous, “ Graham muttered to himself, dreading the fact that he had to get the vacuum cleaner out for the second time in as many weeks.

The real shocker for Graham though wasn’t so much that a monkey had come flying through his living room window;  that has now happened on three separate occasions.  It was the fact that the monkey spoke to him that Graham found slightly curious and unsettling.

“Phew! That was close,” exlcaimed the monkey as it hopped off the now-demolished coffee table, trotted over to the fridge and grabbed the last Old Milwaukee Tall Boy that Graham had been avoiding all morning.

Graham watched, mouth agape, as the monkey popped open the tab and started chugging back the Tall Boy.  He figured that he’d have been less shocked had it been a chimpanzee that flew through the window and started speaking, but this was a capuchin he reckoned.  A capuchin monkey that could apparently speak and chug a half litre of beer like an overheated construction worker.

He wasn’t sure what he should be expecting from the situation.  Aside from the obvious, the monkey didn’t seem out of the ordinary – black fur with white face, green overalls, slightly diabolical, yet disapproving face.

A loud belch echoed from the monkey’s tiny mouth as he flipped the can over his head, directly into the blue box without looking.  “Impressive,” Graham shouted over to him.

For a brief moment, the monkey glared at him, then hopped up, walked over to Graham and slapped him in the face.

“What the hell was that for?” Graham shouted.

Another slap.

“Look, I didn’t ask to be thrown through that window.  The least you could have done is offered me a drink,” shouted the monkey.

“Hey buddy, I’m not trying to be an ass, but you have to admit that this isn’t exactly the most common way for people to enter my house!”

Another slap.

“Okay, okay, I deserved that one.”

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I Think I Hurt My Finger

24 January 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

* Note – today’s story was started by a random sentence from a classmate in writing class last night.  Still not sure where to go with it.  Feel free to drop any ideas in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook

“I think I just hurt my finger”

“That’s all you have to say after THAT?” Todd asked. Anita always downplayed everything. He was guessing she had a broken arm.

Todd looked around and was actually a little surprised he didn’t have more to complain about himself. The car was nowhere close to “driving on the right side of the road” any more. In fact, he couldn’t even see the road … or a good portion of the car.

What he could see were leaves and branches, and a lot of broken glass. He had to stop and concentrate a moment. “I think I bumped my head” was his best downplayed comeback.

Todd turned around and glanced at where the rear seat of the car should be and took a small amount of pride in knowing that he had the ability to calmly reflect upon the fact that the rear end of his car had been torn off.

He shook his head a couple of times. The thumping sound was definitely not coming from inside his head.

“Sweetie, you don’t happen to know where the rest of the car is, do you?”

Anita shook her head, still staring angrily at her index finger.

Todd loved that car; he spent two years restoring it. It was a real prick to find parts for. His optimistic mind really reached down deep to tell him at least he has a guaranteed hobby for the next two years.

“I’m gonna go have a look to see if i can find the rest of the car.”

Still silence. He figured at the bare minimum Anita would make a comment about the terrible joke, or maybe express some small amount of concern for his well being after driving his pride and joy directly into the jaws of total destruction.

Jaws of Destruction.

The lights flickered a bit in Todd’s slightly shaken mind. He looked back again at the non-existent back seat and noticed something was missing…

Tire tracks.

He wondered for a moment if Anita was trying to hypnotise herself. He’d seen her index finger many times over the years. It was not that interesting.

Jaws of Destruction.

Deciding it best to ignore Anita’s finger, Todd got out of the car and glanced at it. It seemed to him that although it was a very beautiful tree, he preferred that it wasn’t inserted into the front end of his GTO.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He could smell smoke. Off in the distance, thankfully. There was a ton of it rising out of the city off in the distance.

“There must be a lot of helicopters to be disrupting the smoke that much,” he thought to himself just as the bank tower burst into flames.

“Honey, can you put your finger aside for a minute and come out here…”

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The Cable Ninja

16 January 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

*Note – this was a 20 minute story that sat untold because I wasn’t sure where to go with it.  Maybe someone could drop a note to help me out…

It was times like this that Harrison was glad that he typically worked alone, and at night. What started originally as a kind of a joke evolved over a few short weeks into “something fun to do,” then “a hobby” and has recently taken on its new form – a seemingly full-fledged obsession.

Standing atop a ladder, half his body immersed in the ceiling, Harrison revisited his career in his mind and considered what got him here exactly.

The defensive part of his brain kicked in, telling him the story he wanted to believe.  Two intense years of training at Loyalist College transformed him into one of the most efficient network engineers in the province.  A passion for technology and drive for efficiency turned Harrison into one of the fastest and most reliable people a company could hope for when it came to rewiring an entire office to the new gigabit ethernet standard.

“That’s not the ‘what got me here exactly’ I was thinking about, “ Harrison mumbled to himself.  The sensible part of his mind started to kick in and ask questions again – just why was it that he was here, doing this, dressed the way he was.

He reached back and felt the handle of the katana strapped to his back, adjusted his mask and got back to work.

“A cable-ninja’s work is never done,” he laughed to himself, although it really wasn’t that funny.  “I wonder if I’d get more or less business as the cable-ninja instead of just the cable expert?”

What began as a costume for the Halloween party two years ago became his regular nightly uniform when he knew nobody was around.  Back on that Halloween, the costume was much more primitive.  It definitely qualified as “costume” then, where today – this was his uniform.  He could really feel that sensation deep inside him, that tingling feeling that told him that he really was a ninja.  On top of it, the uniform was *really* comfortable.  “No wonder we ninjas move so quickly, this is really feels like I’m not wearing anything,” he thought to himself as he sprang down to the floor from the top of the ladder.

The radio blared in the background … “I’m sailing awaaaaaayyyyy…”

Harrison loved the 70s channel.

He reached back and swung out his sword and stopped in a battle-ready pose. A slight glare on the corner of the ceiling caught his attention. Holding his katana close, he somersaulted closer.

Harrison hated security cameras.  Ninjas were not meant to be seen.

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You Can Run, but You Can’t…

15 January 2013 in 20 Minute Stories

*  Note – This story was written in 20 minutes in my creative writing class tonight.  There has been almost no editing save for a few spelling mistakes.  Enjoy!

Footsteps in the snow.  After the first hour or so, that’s pretty much all Steven could hear.  The music playing on his iPod had long since faded into the background.  He was in his zone now.

For years, Steven insisted on running late at night, a practice his wife despised; she feared for his safety.  He almost always left the house wearing his black sweater and pants, making him just a shadow on the already dark streets and that made her cringe every time she heard the click of the lock on the front door.

Steven never paid her any mind.  This was his release.  He spent all day cooped up in that damned watchtower and he wasn’t about to let someone else’s apprehensiveness shield him from his passion of running.

Step. Step. Step. Step.

As the time passed, Steven, could feel his muscles start to ache.  The further he ran, the less he cared about the world; he only ever stopped at the traffic light.

“That light never fails,” he mumbled to himself.  This neighbourhood was the only one that made him feel uncomfortable.  That sketchy massage parlour nauseated him and the empty-faced employees at the dry cleaner always creeped him out.

“How long is this damned light anyways??”

He could hear another runner’s footsteps off in the distance.  He smiled briefly and set himself off around the corner.  Out of the corner of his eye, Steven noticed six employees walking out of the dry cleaners.  His pace slowed slightly as he wondered why a dry cleaner would need that many employees, particularly at this time of the night.

It went dark.  His head hurt.

Steven blinked a couple of times and shook his head.  He’d never had a headache come on this quickly.  He looked down at himself and, as his eyes started to focus, around at the stacks of boxes.  Why was he tied to a chair?  And who the hell is that pointing a gun at his face?

“Routine is your enemy.  You were the easiest one yet,” said the man with the gun.

Steven studied him for a moment.  Aside from the firearm pointed in his general direction, there was nothing that stood out.  No pinstripe suit, no tattooed bald head, no gold chains, just a fresh haircut, designer glasses and an argyle sweater.  Maybe he could use a shave, but it was late … maybe … how long had he been sitting there tied to the chair?

“Long enough to wet yourself, but that’s of no concern to me…”

 

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