a cure for the common block

Second Chance

Jade swerved hard to the right to avoid striking a squirrel that darted across the street, jumping the curb and nearly crashing into a fire hydrant in the process. In the heart-racing moments that followed she checked her rearview mirror to make sure it was fine, and she saw it upright in the grass – was it saluting her? Jude’s next two weeks were increasingly bizarre. There seemed to be a greater-than-usual abundance of squirrels scurrying around her neighborhood, and if she thought she was crazy for thinking a squirrel had saluted her, then she was completely mad for believing these others were bowing to her. The breaking point came shortly after she witnessed a squirrel jumping and scritching at a murder of crows: they began delivering gifts, small trinkets like rings and tinsel and other shiny objects. If the animal kingdom were a true kingdom, the squirrel she avoided killing was a knight and it owed her an immeasurable debt of gratitude.

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Black Mirror

The end. They held each other close and watched the screen blink and display ‘SIGNAL LOST’. Alban and Dee watched the countdown with the rest of the world in one of the few bunkers deep enough to survive the blast. A sudden, grave announcement was made in the middle of the afternoon one day in August. After Alban hung up the phone, she called Dee and they spent the next several months carefully stockpiling food and other necessities without raising any suspicions within their community. The President solemnly explained Protocol Omega to the greatest minds and most valuable lives in a worldwide, TOP SECRET conference. When the disease spread it decimated the world population in the span of 18 months, but what the world didn’t know was that it would reach an extinction level infection rate before a cure could be created. Once upon a time, the Blush swept through Europe, but it was so deadly it died out before it could make a significant impact.

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Piece Work

Farrah Mills was struggling with a bout of writer’s block while working on “Legend of the Brass Monkey”, the third novel in her “Stupendously Gonkers!” book series about the madcap journeys of Majesty Swick. The 16-year-old girl adventurer used scientific principles to solve puzzles and safely escape dangerous situations. The character’s current predicament involved an oncoming forest fire, and while the first solution to surviving unscathed that came to mind involved burning a patch of ground and dousing the flames – it would leave her without any drinking water. Farrah strived to temper any amount of luck with enough probability to make for safe risks, and so after some research she found a better alternative for escape that didn’t involve fire or water, instead using the character’s trowel and fire retardant tent canvas.

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The Girl in the Bay City Boys Club

While Majesty had sussed out the true identities of the thieves who stole the local tribe’s brass idol, her quest to recover it had already been beset when she had accumulated three “lemons” before sunset. Lemons were setbacks and depending on the severity could be counted by halves or wholes; survival requires safe precautions – like not losing sight of one’s limits for the sake of determination. The lone benefit of Majesty’s premature pit stop was getting enough rest to begin the next day before the break of dawn. As the sun rose Majesty Swick confirmed a suspicion she had held for several minutes, plumes of dark grey smoke signaled a forest fire and by her estimates she had less than an hour to implement a plan of escape or survival. She tied back her mane of curly brown locks, rolled up her sleeves and laid out every item at her disposal.

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The Family Hour

Taylor tickled her baby girl, Shayla, making goofy faces while playing peek-a-boo; she puffed out her cheeks, crossed her eyes, anything to elicit that precious giggle that gave her life meaning. Taylor’s father, Gus, arrived a short time later to babysit while she was at work, and her father had the same zeal for Shayla’s laugh. When Taylor moved back in with her parents years earlier it was an awkward transition, not least because she was pregnant. Shayla brought lightness to everyone’s hearts, and when Taylor’s mom passed a year later her and her father became a stronger team than they had ever been before. This strength empowered Shayla and what she accomplished in her remarkable life was directly owed to this bond.

#ShortShortStories #TheFamilyHour

Dwarf in a Helium Hat

D.W. Duncan did not like having his his patience tested, so it was quite displeasing when Mr. Qoptx appeared, albeit entirely predictable. D.W. was frequently plagued by Murphy’s Law, and when he was beseiged by an interdimensional imp with a penchant for mischief he could only blankly stare ahead, imagining an invisible camera that followed him around to record his tribulations for the amusement of others. Mr. Qoptx could shapeshift and manifest all manner of objects, lights, and sounds, none of which were observable to anyone other than D.W. Mr. Duncan – after decades of experience with child, customer, and municipal services – had an unwavering composure and tuned out the diminutive goblin. Little did he know that this tenacity was why he was selected as the subject of the bet between Mr. Qoptx and Loki.

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The Paper Palace

Jaire’s friends were impressed by his cup-stacking skills but scoffed at the idea of a competition when he told them his plans for the weekend. He shrugged off their jeers and continued to practice building up the cups into a pyramid before breaking it down into three smaller pyramids and various other arrangements. The three rounds at the state tournament would decide who continued on to the finals in the nations capitol. If that wasn’t enough pressure Jaire secretly wanted to prove to his friends that it wasn’t just a silly party trick, that it required months of practice. There were three judges who scored based on speed, accuracy, and complexity, and if Jaire had been sitting in any of those chairs he would have failed his performance; he was his own biggest critic that way. Not only did he not fail, he advanced to the next round, and despite every mistake and fumble that he noticed he was again advanced to the final round of the state tournament. He didn’t advance to compete in the final competition, but 4th place got tickets to the finals, all expenses covered, and a cash prize that garnered new-found respect from his friends.

#ShortShortStories #ThePaperPalace

Just a Coupla Guys

Lawrence wanted to spend time with his friend Ray, but was frustrated when he suggested another mutual acquaintance, Timothy, tag along. Ray had been Lawrence’s best friend for years, his first true confidante, and while he didn’t mind Tim’s company, something about Ray wanting someone else to join them bothered him. Shortly after their weekend excursion, Lawrence tried articulating his feelings to another close friend, Helle. Helle was a good listener, she was very perceptive and believed she understood what was upsetting Larry; she asked him to promise her something – because she knew he only made promises he intended to keep – and he obliged. Lawrence promised to carefully think about what made him upset. Alone back at home he thought about why he wanted to go out with Ray in the first place, why he wanted it to be just the two of them, why he cared about who Ray invited. By the end of the night he would feel the need to make a confession to Ray, a confession that permanently changed their friendship.

#ShortShortStories #JustACouplaGuys

So Help Me God

This story takes place somewhere else. Where? I just told you. On the other side of me there is you, on the other side of Here is Somewhere Else entirely. Getting there is both simple and impossible: just close your eyes and think about it. Ah! but how can you picture a place you’ve never been? The residents of Somewhere could travel anywhere they wished, but no one could enter their realm without invitation. That is why the Four-Eyed Forum were so curious about the sudden manifestation of the rotund creature standing on the stone steps of their Colosseum. They were further baffled upon learning it only had a 73-word vocabulary, a foul temper, and no evidence of an imagination. The belligerent Tryxl named Tumbog Polk was similarly confused, one moment it was arguing with an ugly bloat called Kod, or Glod, or something, then poof he was in the middle of this ugly mess. The Four-Eyed Forum didn’t need to hear anymore, God was always giving them trouble, ever since their society moved on from religion.

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To Protect and Serve

Rumors surrounded the Hat & Tail, a lodge that sat just on the edge of Towne, but nobody had ever been inside. Anyone who knocked on the heavy oak door was asked to provide a password, however nobody seemed to know it and nobody managed to guess it. It was one of those things that had always just been so there was little interest in getting answers, but Clive wasn’t one to let things go so easily. A few times a week he would perch in a tree a good distance from the lodge and watch for any activity; after weeks it finally paid off when he saw multiple carriages making their way into the lot, with passengers exitingĀ  and approaching the door one at a time. Most people had assumed it was a meeting place for Freemasons, but the men approaching the door didn’t look like masons. He scurried down and made his way over to the building, hiding and listening in for the password. He heard a knock, the guard asked for a password, and the gent merely said “If you don’t mind…” and with that the oak door slowly creaked open, letting moment of the party inside escape. Clive knew he had to be clever, and luckily he was also patient. A month after the first event Clive rode up and parked, stepping out in his father’s suit, fitting in best he could. He knocked, but the guard didn’t ask for a password, he asked if Clive was new and Clive quickly hiccuped a “Yep! Just joined!”, then proffered the password and stepped inside to the secret society of butlers.

#ShortShortStories #ToProtectAndServe

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