MILESTONES: Day 100!

100 posts later and here we are. (Not including those asides, but there aren’t many of them.)

I know it’s a bit early to start prepping my awards speech, but I’ve got it all planned out. Day 642, there’s gonna be balloons and cake and probably some glitter. Because there’s always an excuse for glitter, as my girlfriends says.

All things aside, thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting me in this insane challenge. Get in touch, even if just to say “Cool story bro, needs more dragons.”

Even as a joke, I do understand the necessity of dragons. They are on their way when I get a suitable challenge.

What kind of lunatic came up with this?

Oh yeah, me.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

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Day 100: Describe yourself in the third person – your physical experience and personality – as though you were a character in a book.

He brushes his brown hair back from his eyes, lit only by the blue glow of the laptop screen. He knows he’s ready for a haircut, but he can’t find the time. He’s muttering to himself, occasionally biting his lip as he ponders a plot point.

‘I could… No.’ He mumbles around the pen in his mouth. He’s never smoked, but still feels the irrevocable need to place a pen between his teeth. No doubt Freud would have a field day if he got hold of our protagonist. ‘Perhaps I could…’ His voice trails off as his slender, piano players fingers fly across the keyboard. The idea has taken hold now, burning through his mind. If you look in his face, you can see it behind his shifting eyes, blue to green to hazel. They never seem to settle.

He pauses for a moment, breathing heavy as he reaches across his body to massage his shoulder. He tilts his head to one side, then the other, trying to clear the crick that has been bothering him for months. It still doesn’t clear, but he feels slightly better when he gets the crunch that echoes throughout the living room. He stands up, pushing his blue laptop away as he does so, then begins to pace. He reaches up to the pen between his teeth, taking it out and tapping it on various surfaces and body parts, cracking all of his joints as he does so. He swings his arms, bent at the elbows, to try and work out the kinks in his shoulder.

He sighs, and walks to the broad window. He stands in a vaguely military stance, hands clasped behind his back as he stares into the distance. He shuffles his feet from side to side, trying to relax his high arches hidden as they are in his spotty socks. He sighs again, a long breath that sounds like he’s giving up.

He isn’t though. He sits back down, picking up his reliant laptop, and blinks a number of times.

‘Let’s do it.’ He says to himself. And he signs the end of his post, and smiles.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 99: Another drunken episode.

‘Bitch!’ He roars at her, the words turning to slurry in his mouth, pouring out and filling my ears. ‘I should fucking kill you!’ The sound of a slap echoes, rebounding and surrounding me. My knees are starting to hurt from crouching in the wardrobe, when another slap worms its way through the cracks in the door.

‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ She’s crying, she’s screaming. I can see her, a glimpse through a crack in the door, clutching to his leg as he stomps around. I can see the wreckage of his tantrum strewn around him, the broken glass on the floor where he’d smashed the tumbler. ‘I won’t do it again, I’m sorry I’m sorry.’

He kicked her off into the glass. ‘Shut up! And get this shit cleaned up. I need this room for poker night.’ The shards crunched beneath his tan work boots. ‘Get a fucking move on. I’m getting a drink.’

His footsteps fell quiet as he moved towards the fridge. Her eyes meet mine through the crack and I open the wardrobe door ever so slightly, just to see her shake her head, red curls grazing the ground as she stares into the chaos on the floorboards.

‘Jenna! Where’s your fucking kid? We’re out of ice.’ He shouts, slamming the stainless steel door of the fridge. He clutches a can in his massive fist, a child’s toy in that monstrosity. He strode amongst the stars on the floor, crouching down to look at her face. He grabs her chin with his left hand, taking a long drink from the can. ‘I said, where’s your damn brat?’ The signet ring flashed in the evening sun as it connected with her face.

I couldn’t take it any more. I knew what was in the wardrobe. I picked it from the ground, felt the heft of it. ‘You in that wardrobe, boy?’ He yelled. I felt the wood beneath my fingers. I was ready.

He put his eye to the crack in the door. I could smell the booze on his breath from there. ‘I need some ice, boy. Or do I have to hit your mum again to get my point across?’

I felt my eyes narrow to slits. My fingers tightened.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 98: Your last cry

I thought we had more time. I held you in my arms and you were just so beautiful. But then you went away and left me.

I was nothing before you came into my life. A worthless  piece of crap, but you lifted me up.

I held you in my arms. I loved you with all my heart. And you were so still. I thought you were sleeping but you weren’t.

I’ll remember that sound for the rest of my life. They brought you back at one point, and you went blue. You hollered like your lungs would explode.

That was it for you. I waited for a long time, waiting for something to touch me.

A bittersweet symphony it was too. Your voice rolling through the clinical, stifled sound around me. And I began to cry.

I cried at your last cry.

Come back soon. Stay safe, my beautiful one.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 97: A soldier is about to embark on a mission that she knows will kill her.

Captain Janet Harker stood tall in the bright halogens. She held the forty page report in her left hand, staring at the black ink waiting on the innocent white page. The words stamped across it are blades that cut deep into her soul.

MISSION REPORT.

OPERATION CALICO

15 JULY 2020

She focused her dark green eyes on those words, raising the glass of whisky in her right hand to rise to her lips. A slow sip later, and she flicked through the pages, one by one until she reached the final page. She read those printed words aloud, rolling them around her mouth, off her tongue.

‘We find that the actions undertaken on 15 July 2020 lead to the approval for OPERATION HESSIAN. The intelligence gathered and potential further intelligence outweighs the risk. Following the overwhelming success of CALICO, Captain Harker will lead HESSIAN. Briefing is 13 December at Renfield Barracks.’

She grasped the papers tight. HESSIAN had been an insane proposal. A full frontal assault on the border, intended to push the Aberinese back to Carapur. CALICO had revealed a weak point in the Aberinese defences, a tendency to cluster to the sides and leave an effective chute through the middle. It would be suicide to take a section through the centre, but a positive enough thrust could get them to follow, leaving them to get rounded up by the following company.

And that’s what HESSIAN was. A run down the centre. They were asking her to lead her men to their deaths while they sat in their offices. Some of them haven’t seen active service in fifteen years and they were expecting the charge. It was madness.

She picked the phone from her desk. Slowly punched in eleven numbers.

‘Castor.’ A groggy voice rolled slowly through the speaker, like thunder over the plains.

‘Cas, it’s Harker. I need to see you.’

‘Harker? Are you for real? It’s four o’clock in the fucking morning?’ Sergeant Castor Ferkin had responded in his usual manner. Gruff, but vaguely well meaning.

‘Cas, I’ve not got time for the crap. Get to my office. Now.’ She ended the call before he could protest, then smoothed her uniform down. She took long strides to the desk and poured another glass of whisky. A large one this time.

It took Castor twenty-three minutes to get to the office. Not that Harker knew, she just registered it as three whiskies. He broke her from her stupor by crashing through the door like an angry bear, his shirt buttoned up in the wrong holes, odd socks adorning his feet. ‘This had better be something big, Harker.’ He growled. For most people, that would be hyperbole but Castor’s voice was a genuine growl, a legacy from CALICO.

Thirteen men  had been captured, Castor among them. Aberine practice was to cut a prisoners throat and dump his body in the river. They called it returning, part of their religion. Well, Castor got returned. They slit his throat and dumped him like illicit chemicals into the Arabine. Whoever killed him did a real botch job though. His vocal cords took some damage, but the tendons in his neck had stopped the knife cutting the carotid. Hence the growl.

Harker just pushed forward the crumpled stack of paper, taking another sip of whiskey as he picked the papers up, rifling through them.She placed her black boots on the desk, staring into the glass. ‘We’re going back to the border, Cas. They approved HESSIAN.’

‘They approved it.’ Castor put one of his giant hands against his scarred throat, pulling at the skin in desperation. ‘Well, shit.’

I think I’ll be returning to this world in a future episode. I’m enjoying the characters and scenery, but unfortunately, like all mortals, I have to sleep and have a tendency to get caught up in this sort of thing. So, stay tuned. Captain Harker and Castor will be back. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 96: Go ahead. Judge a book by its cover. What does it look like?

I could hear it singing to me. You all know how it feels, when you walk into one of those second hand bookshops that smell of old paper and forgotten cakes and the hum starts. That insistent niggling, like an insect burrowing into your mind, boring in deep where it can nest and grow.

Floor to ceiling bookshelves surrounded me, threadbare carpet lying between them showing the path of customers over the years. In places it had worn so thin you could see the bare boards beneath. The humming, however, took me on a different path.

‘Scuse me, love,’ The lady behind the counter asked, barely audible over the hum. Whatever it was, it was fighting for my attention. ‘You can’t go down there. That’s stocking, that is.’ I clearly managed to look dejected enough that she let me through. ‘Go on then, take a look. But if I call down, you’ve got to come back up. Deal?’

I just nodded and started to make my way down the stairs. The humming was growing stronger and more insistent, a child pulling on the trouser leg of my brain. Stocking was delightful, piles of books heaped haphazardly around the stone floor. More bookshelves, but I followed the hum.

I was close. The humming was filling my body now, uncontrollable and invasive. I looked around. ‘Kings of England in the 18th Century.’ A brown leather book with a cracked spine. That wasn’t it.

‘The Archipelago.’ Green fabric, gold lettering. Still wrong. I went through all of them, tearing them off the shelves in frustration. There it was.

It was a slender volume, in a blood-red binding. ‘Erica’s last goodbye, volume II.’ It was dog eared, the binding peeling away. It was tattered, and well read.

I had to have it.

I picked it up and the humming ceased. This was the book. But where was volume I?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 95: On becoming a tycoon

Thud, boing, slap. Thud, boing, slap. The giant tennis ball in my hand bounced of the wall, off the floor and back into my hand. As CEO and owner of Polythyral Plastics, there really isn’t a lot to do.

I had more to do when I worked in the mail room. Then up through the ranks, junior office, senior office. You get the gist.

Then I got to the top. You know they say it’s lonely? It sure as hell is. What does a CEO even do apart from doctor his wages and benefits?

Wait! I’ve got it. I remember 2016.

I’m going to run for President. How hard can it be?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 94: I’ve never felt this way before or since.

 

Have you ever had one of those days? You think that everything’s going your way and then BAM! You’re flattened like roadkill? That’s what happened to me when I met Cindy. I’d been coasting through life for far too long, doing just enough to get by without actually doing anything at all. Always on the verge of the next big thing.

I did live with my mother, mind you. And Meemaw. And Uncle Terrence. But he might just be one of those people who always seems to be there. Who knows?

But anyway, I’ve been scamming my gym membership for the last eighteen months, so I figured I’d go for a swim that day. It’s easy, it’s free and I get to look at hot women? That’s what I call a combo. Of course, that day is when I met Cindy.

***

‘Morning sweetheart, you gonna pay for your membership today?’ Maureen asks me from behind the glass.

‘Come on Maureen, I’ve already told you that I’ll only pay when you agree to go for a drink with me?’ I flash her a grin. ‘Besides, you know I don’t keep cash in my speedos.’

‘Danny, there’s more than enough room in there. Everyone knows there’s nothing else going on downstairs.’ I feigned being hurt as she rang up a public session on the till. ‘Go on, you lunatic. I’ll let you off this time. Stop ogling!’

‘Oh Maureen, but where’s the fun in that?’ I fired her a double thumbs up from the doorway.

***

I love swimming. Well, pretending to swim while actually just floating and checking out the scenery. And by scenery, I mean the bikinis. I mean, damn! I was chilling in the deep end, looking at an absolutely fabulous pair walking past the big window when she walked in.

Wow.

It’s the only way to describe how I felt. She walks in, impossibly long legs stretching up to her barely covered behind, with blonde hair coiling down her back to rest just in the small. I was in love.

Then Jackson walked over.

Jackson Molyneaux. Lifeguard extraordinaire, saves children in his spare time as a firefighter and has a pet Labrador. He’s also a truly obnoxious man, thinking he’s all that just because he got some bravery award. I mean seriously, the whole life-saving thing gets old.

Dick. Chatting to her, probably telling her that he swam to France to raise money for charity. I mean, he didn’t. He swam around a swimming pool to raise the money for it instead. Ergh, even talking about him leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You know what, sod it. I’ll impress her. I’ll save someone, or do something impressive. Yeah, watch out Jackson. Danny Boy is on his way.

***

I’ve got a plan.

1) Impressive display of… Something. Get her attention.

2) I go swimming again and talk to… to…

3) Find out Red Bikini’s name.

That’s easy enough right? I mean, yes, there are a couple of flaws. Namely that I have no idea if Red Bikini’s even going to be a regular. Wait a minute… New plan.

***

‘Maureen, my darling, my honey, my ragtime gal…’

‘No,’ she glared at me over the top of her half-moon glasses. She’s a sitting stereotype for elderly receptionists everywhere. ‘Whatever it is, Danny, I ain’t telling you shit.’

‘But Maureen! I just need…’

‘Unless I hear the words “To pay my membership fee” then I won’t tell you nothing else. Now, what do you want to say?’

I paused, rolling the ideas around in my mind. On one hand, I have my coasting lifestyle, my principles and my desire to never pay for anything in my life. On the other, I have the prospect of the smoking hot blonde. I’ll leave those ideas to bounce around.

Bouncing.

Bouncing.

Something has to win soon.

‘Danny!’ Maureen broke me from my reverie. ‘You gonna say something or what?’

‘I’ll… Pay my membership.’ I held my credit card out in front of me, defeated. She snatched it from my hand like it was the proverbial candy and I was the baby. ‘Now, can you just tell me if the blonde that followed me in yesterday got a membership?’

‘Oh, you mean Cindy?’ She stared at me again. I’m really starting to hate those half-moon glasses. ‘Lovely girl. Paid her membership up front too. Asked lots of questions on the way out. Turns out she’s new in town, after someone to show her around. Asked a lot about Jackson too…’

‘That loser?’

‘I think she called him a hero…’ She passed me my card back. ‘Next! Now, Danny, piss off so I can do some work.’

***

So now it comes to this. I can show her around town, I just need to get her to notice me. So here I am, on the high dive board. I figure I can do some showy dives, pretend I do this all the time, then offer to take Cindy round town. It’s the perfect plan. What can go wrong? Besides, it takes out that awkward charity element. There’s just so many of them, how would I know which to go for?

So, I’m here on the high dive. I cough, dramatically, so that everyone is looking at me. Raise my arms high and dive. A thing of beauty, I catch her eye on the way down and smile.

***

They tell me that Jackson pulled me from the pool when I passed out. That my stomach was roughly the colour of Cindy’s bikini. When I came round, I walked slowly out of the centre. Past Maureen who was trying and failing to stifle giggles. I got out into the autumn air and heard a shout.

‘Danny?’ I turned around to face the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. ‘Umm, do you know anywhere good to eat around here?’

This is the runner up out of the two stories I wrote this weekend for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. 

It was a lot harder than I thought. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 93: An e-mail you inadvertently sent to someone who wasn’t supposed to see it.

Gazza, 

Sorry to do this to you but I need to raise a complaint. You’re the right person to talk to about HR stuff, right? But man, Beezo in corporate is busting my ass over the Herman complaint. I mean, he’s been riding me all week over it. How was I supposed to now that Herman Alice was me missing the comma? And then she walked in, she’s got a beard and got upset when I called her Sir? How was anyone supposed to deal with that?

Anyway Gaz, I need you to get me out of this. You know, like I helped you out after your hungover accident on Christmas party day? And when I came and paid your bail?

So yeah, get me out of this man!

Also, don’t forget about poker night. Can’t believe you blew us off for Amy in accounting last time. Still, if you do, bring the tape this time!

Harry Stevens

Assistant Director of Public Relations

 

Dear Harry and Gareth,

Harry, I don’t believe you intended to include me in this email, but thanks for bringing this to light. As you can imagine, with some of the allegations in the previous email, you are both hereby suspended pending review. I would also like to tell you, Harry, that I have not been ‘busting your ass’ over the Herman complaint. I have been ‘busting your ass’ because you are lazy, irresponsible and rude.

Gareth, I thought you were better than this. Unfortunately, this proves me wrong. I have forwarded this issue on to Human resources and recommended to Miss Wheeler in accounting that she cut ties with you.

Both of you will have a meeting with Mr Hammond at three o’clock tomorrow. I suggest that you get an early night and plan your defence.

Kind regards,

Benjamin ‘Beezo’ Barton

 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

 

Day 92: What ten questions are you going to ask to figure out the object in a game of I Spy?

Lets face it, the only time anyone plays I Spy is when they’re travelling so…

“Is it inside the car?”

“No.”

“Is it living?”

“No.”

“Is it made by humans?”

“No.”

“Is it by the water?”

“No.”

“Is it in the road?”

“No.”

“Is it ON the road?”

“No.”

“Is it natural?”

“No.”

“Is it in the sky?”

“Yes.”

“Is it a light source?”

“No.”

“Geoff, is it the moon?”

“Yes!”

I hate road trips with Conspiracy Theory Geoff. Moon made by aliens my arse!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Another short one, but one I might expand on later. Being the master of planning that I am, I left it until the last minute for a wedding that I’m going to tonight. Oops!