Day 253: A four-year-old child is afraid of the dark. Write about the child’s fears and what you might say or do to help the child overcome the fears?

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Richard screamed for his father, drawing the duvet covers up to his chin in a bid to protect himself. His father burst into the room, brandishing the poker from the fireplace. “I’ll get you!” He yelled, wiping the sleep from his eyes. “I swear to God above!” The father paused for a moment, realising he was shouting at an empty room save for his son. “Ricky? What’s wrong?”

Richard snaked out of his bed, sprinting towards his father and grabbing onto his leg. “It was the dark, Daddy! It was coming to get me!” His voice was muffled, seeing as he was trying to talk into his father’s leg.

“Okay, Ricky.” His father said, lifting him easily with one hand. “It’s okay now. No darkness. See? The light’s here. I’m here.” He held his son tightly as he made the few steps across to the bed, rocking his son gently in his arms.

“But you’re gonna go away again. Then it’ll come back.” Richard looked up at his father with bright blue eyes on the verge of tears, his bottom lip quaking as if it belonged in San Francisco. “The dark’ll come back again. I’m scared, Daddy!” He looked poised to leap from his bed again, but his father perched at his side, bedsprings creaking under his weight.

“What are you afraid of, Ricky?” His father asked, reaching out to stroke his son’s blonde curls. “Is it the dark itself? Or do you think there’s something in the dark?”

“Both!”

“Well, the dark itself can’t hurt you. The dark is nothing. Humanity conquered the darkness years ago when we discovered fire. Your Da always told me that the cavemen had the right idea. They had a problem and they found a solution.” He took his hand away from his son’s forehead and moved long fingers across a stubbled chin. “Then again, he always told me that Babybel and Ritz Crackers were an evil plot, so can’t be too sure on that one.”

“Daddy…” His son yawned, the gap in his teeth obvious in the big movement, causing his father to smile. He’d seen the thing fly out when Ricky had run into the lamppost.

“Right. So, the dark isn’t to be afraid of. It’s for us to beat. You get me?”

“What about the monsters?”

“I’ll show you what we do to monsters. Say, where do yours come from?” His father took hold of the poker, grasping it firmly in his strong hand. “They’re all beatable. Especially with the poker.”

“They’re under the bed, Daddy.” His father got to his knees, pointing for his son to look over the other side. He counted under his breath, counting down on his fingers for his son. He got to one, then dropped to the floor, shouting at the space beneath the bed.

Looking back at him was the terrified face of his son, gap in his teeth showing bright in the darkness. The boy said, “It isn’t me, Daddy! It isn’t me!”

That’s when the screaming began anew.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 252: Write about one thing on the list from Day 53

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Day 53, it’s time to get angry. I’ve chosen the books being owned and not read option from my previous list to expand upon. Now read on…

The Collector roams the aisles, row upon row of mint conditions stacked from floor to ceiling in towering mahogany shelves. He swears and rolls his head from side to side as he moves, taking in each and every sight to ensure…

Wait, something is wrong. The Collector has stopped, gnarled hands bunching into fists as he whirls towards a glass-fronted cabinet beside him. He wrenches open the door and moves a withered finger to the inspection line before him. “Zone? Eight hundred and twenty one. Section? Sixty-four. Book? One, two, four. Where is number three? Who has done this?” His voice wheedles its way out, barely above a whisper yet in the silence of the library it carries. “My collection is far from complete,” he says with a snarl, whipping around with narrowed storm cloud eyes, “Yet they seek to corrupt it from within?”

He marches onward, heavy boots clattering against the tiled floor. He is angry, his arms flailing as he continues his rant. “This is not what they are for!” He cries, raising a fist to the heavens. “They should be preserved! I will have them all!”

Meanwhile, in a forgotten corner of the library, there are two boys hiding under a sheet with a flashlight. Even the Collector doesn’t remember this place, hidden in a gap between two shelves. These days, withered and crooked, he would struggle to make it into this hidey-hole, but the boys make it just fine.

When they first came here, they found nothing but the decaying remains of a set of chairs, patchy silk and stuffing erupting like zits on the surface. But they found comfort enough. As their time in the library continued, neither able to find a way out, they made the place a home. They stole sheets that draped over some of the units, revealing other treasures along the way. A book of matches. A tin of peaches with a ringpull lid. Somebody must have been caring for them, but when they investigated they found nobody. They’d found food. They’d found medicine. Even, on one joyous occasion, they had found the torch they are using now.

“Are you ready, Jason?” One of them asks, with his long hair hanging limply around his gaunt face. His companion, a blonde, pudgy boy draws a sheet up to his neck and nods vigorously. “You sure?”

“Yeah! Story!” Jason replies, blue eyes flashing as the torch roams around their small shelter.

“Okay, I’ll start. Once upon a time…”

My idea, that I hope is fairly easy to follow, is that the Collector has books to have, not to read. This is my personal bugbear. You’ve got a signed copy of a book? Fabulous. When did you last read it? Oh I haven’t. What do you mean? Oh, it’ll be worth money someday.

It’s worth far more than money right now. You want something worth money, get into stocks and shares. Books are for reading, for passing on, for moving knowledge and stories from person to person until they can do so no more and they go to the Great Library in the Sky. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 251: A strange girl who hides herself under layers and layers of clothing

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Lisa Matthews walks along Kedleston Road every day at half past six. She is always, come rain or shine, bundled in no less than seven layers, a coat, a jacket, a jumper. Even her legs do not escape this constricting embrace of clothing, with layers of tights and leggings. People who pass her will whisper to one another as though sharing a secret. “How on earth can she be wearing all of that clothing in this heat? Surely she must be boiling!” Yet Lisa never seems to sweat. She will have a thick woollen scarf wrapped around her neck with a matching bobble hat perched atop her head, covering a blonde bob, cut as short as she could manage.

You see, there is a reason that Lisa wears all of these clothes. It isn’t one that any who pass her have come up with yet. She is not mentally ill, she is not medically ill. She has no scars or injuries to hide. Her reason is that she seeks the warmth, wherever it is. In this case, if she has to travel anywhere, she must do so within this warm cocoon, smothering her skin as if forcing it to keep her secret. The answer is really quite simple.

Lisa Matthews is dead.

You see, the dark places are certainly not the inferno of legend. No, the dark places are very cold indeed and yet so very few come back…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 250: The person you loved who didn’t love you back

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Dear Diary,

This morning, I fell in love. It’s silly, I know, but I did. He sat across from me on the train, legs crossed neatly in trousers with a perfect crease down the centre. He’d only just made the train, practically diving through the doors at Walmley Station. I don’t know why anybody could be late at Walmley, the whole village is only three streets long. But there he was, hurling himself through the doors before he began picking his way through.

He reached my seat and gestured to the one opposite, asking if he could sit there. Immediately wins points in my book, people being polite. Of course, I wasn’t waiting for anybody so I nodded for him to sit. Only once I’d given him a cheeky once over, mind you.

He plonked himself onto the seat, always nice to know that nobody’s perfect, and pulled his own book from the satchel he’d placed onto the seat beside him. A mystery, by Joan Marquez. I love Joan Marquez and I so wanted to ask him about it. But of course, I didn’t.

I was scared! He sat with his book and a half smile spreading across his face, the end of his tongue poking through in the most adorable concentration face I’ve ever seen. He’d raise his spare hand to his forehead every so often, pushing his fringe back over the top of his head before turning the page. and going back to his concentration face. It was… It was a thing of beauty.

On top of that, he’s reading a Joan Marquez! I was so close… I’d just finished my book and put it away when we pulled into Harrington and he got off. I saw him meet up with someone on the platform. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Blonde, leggy… He kissed her on both cheeks then went on his merry way.

Life will never be the same,

Talia.

 

October 4th 2016

Had to get the train today. Car wouldn’t start. Of course, only just got through the doors before it left the station, lucky me. Still, I got a seat! Win. 

Read some of Tribute to Death. Not bad. Not my favourite Joan Marquez though. If You Go Down To The Woods is definitely her best book. The chick across from me on the train was reading something interesting, but I didn’t have time to ask her about it. She was pretty cute too. 

Saw my sister at Harrington. We managed brunch before I had to disappear. Her and Phil have decided to have a kid, which is kind of a big deal. Apparently. She just badgered me about when I’m getting married.

Never, it seems, is not an appropriate reply. 

Still, onwards and upwards. Maybe I should get the train more often. Perhaps I’d see more of cute book chick. 

Frank

So, for this challenge the thought was that my initial character had fallen for this guy she’d never spoken to, never seen before and had got the wrong end of the stick. Is it cliche? Probably. Am I bothered? Not really. I think the concept works and as such I was happy to work with it.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 249: Toto, if we’re not in Kansas anymore, where are we?

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“Welcome, welcome, to the Fallen Sky. Home to the scum of society, rogues, thieves, lost royalty, lone wanderers, peasants, odd-jobs, maggots and even the occasional myth.” A roar went up from the assorted patrons as I pushed through the heavy door, a clamouring of tankards against tables and armour. “As you know, we’re a diverse bunch. For those less learned, we’re all different. Davey, that means urghhhh.” The big man standing on table gestured towards another patron, who responded with a grunt of his own. This, of course, drew much amusement from the assembly.

I picked my way across the various obstacles, corpses that hadn’t yet been disposed of, empty barrels, a passed out monkey; forging my way through to the bar. The barman, a weasel-faced gentleman with a single beady eye, stared at me as if I’d been recently passed through a dog’s digestive system and had ended up on his boot. “What do you want?” He asked, or at least that’s what I think he asked. It sounded much more along the lines of “Whadjewain”, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

“I’m looking for someone.” I replied, my voice shaking and cracking to betray my fear. “His name is…”

“Never heard of him.” Again, I might be wrong. Either way, he swiftly turned on his heel and oozed his way to the other end of the bar, shouting at the man on the table as he did so.

“We must remember,” the big man yelled, “that we are only able to gather here due to the kindest gestures of our host, Bravo. A toast to Bravo!” He took a swig of ale from his tankard then spat it out across the crowd. “Long may he piss in his beer!” A thunder rolled through the small room, clattering and clunking accompanied with fresh peals of laughter. “Now, to business…”

I stopped paying attention as a hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me into a corner. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” My questioner was incredibly… Average. Average height, medium build, brown hair and blue eyes. He glared at me. “You do not belong here. You must leave. Now, quickly.” His mouth was firing the words like arrows from a trained archer’s bow, swift and deadly.

“Woah now. I need to find…”

“I know the man of whom you speak. You will not find him here. This is not your cosy little hometown. You must get out.”

“Look, I’m not from around here.” I told him, biting my lip as I considered how best to tell him my story.

“I know. You are from the Outworld. You smell wrong. Like I said, you don’t belong here. Go home. AT least go away. Before, well, you die.” He grimaced and drew a finger across his throat. “There is a back door from the cellar. Head west. Go quickly. I have already obtained the key from Bravo.” His eyes blinked, sideways, as he pushed the big brass key into my hands. “Now, go. I have work to do. Why are you still standing there? Go!” He shoved me towards the cellar door before I could ask any more questions.

I stood for a moment in the dark of the cellar, wondering what the hell was going on. At least my strange new friend had told the truth about the back door. I fumbled the key into the lock, straining my eyes against the darkness. The lock, clearly mistreated and unloved, took a lot of work before the key slowly turned. I stepped out into harsh winter sunlight, and took a deep breath, convincing myself that if I didn’t breath I would be safe.

Before me, scales glinting in rippling hues of bronze and aged copper; looking regal and majestic against the backdrop of freshly fallen snow, was the head of a dragon. The dragon’s eye, larger than my hand with my fingers spread wide, flashed open as I took a step away. It shook its head to clear the remnants of its dream, then his mouth opened, exposing me to a vast array of teeth and heat as though from a furnace. Words followed and my own jaw fell open in a much less awe-inspiring way.

I certainly wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 248: Where will you be exactly one year from this moment?

 

One o’clock on Boxing Day morning? Hopefully, I’ll be right where I am now. In bed, writing Day 613 of this blog. (Unless, of course, I’ve gotten my act together by then and have started writing my blogs earlier in the day. I’m dubious, but who knows?) I’ll probably be in the same place, the sofa bed of my girlfriend’s mum’s living room, as she slowly begins to snore beside me. She says she’s going to read, but I can hear her breathing as it becomes more laboured, the pages turning slower and slower until I can practically see the zzzz flowing from her.

I’ll think back across this day, this year. I’ll consider all the things that have happened to get me to where I am, much like I am doing now. I’ll be in the home stretch of the blog, heading towards a hopefully satisfactory end. I’ll have moved away from my mother’s house, the woman who has cared for me and looked out for me, even when I had convinced myself that I was right (it often turns out that she is), choosing instead to venture to pastures new. It is both terrifying and exciting, but by then it should be routine. That’s the hardest idea for me to fathom.

All of these changed won’t be changes in exactly a year’s time. It will all be as it has always been. But I’m not afraid. I’m genuinely looking forward to this challenge to come.

So, I will not skulk in the shadow of Fate. I choose instead to stride boldly into my future. Towards everything the same and everything that’s changed. I’d like you to do the same.

What’s going to change for you? What’s going to be the same? Perhaps your kids will go to university, or college? You’ll marry, you’ll move, you’ll break up. Who knows, perhaps you’ll revolutionise the planet! Either way, there is nothing to be afraid of. Better instead to greet the future like a friend. Sure, it’s your weird friend who turns up out of the blue and insists that you go to that bar and drink ALL of those tequilas, but when’s the last time you didn’t have a good night with that friend? Except Lisbon. We don’t talk about Lisbon.

Now, have I gone off track? Probably. But I don’t care. I’ve had a great Christmas. Time to raise a glass,

To the future,

The Idiot in Tin Foil

P.S. Let me know what’s going to change for you guys! I’m curious what futures lie ahead for you.

Merry Christmas all. I hope it was as fun as mine!

Day 247: You wake up by the side of the road, lying next to a bicycle, with no memory and no wallet. What happens in the next hour?

 

Christ, now I now what being hit by a bus feels like. I’m blinking and shaking my head, hoping I can clear this damn fog that’s building and let me think. I’m… Busy. I’m doing something important. Something that means I shoudn’t be lying on the cobbles of some random street.

Wait, who even am I? Crap… There must be clues. What am I wearing? Some weird red suit. The last thing I properly remember is… Animals. Big, like horses, but not horses. More like deer, really, I guess. Either way, it was super foggy and my way was lit by this ominous red glow but… Ergh, I’m damned if I can think of it.

Aha! I’ll check my wallet. That’ll tell me… Wait, it’s not in my back pocket. That’s where I’d keep my wallet, right? Surely. Perhaps the breast pocket of this stupid red suit… Nope, not there either.

It’s started to snow now, a fresh dusting to cover the already messy blanket on the ground. My choices are rather limited, I feel. Lie on the ground for a while and freeze to death, or get up without a clue who I am and try and work things out.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in this situation, but the easy option always calls to you. “Stay on the ground.” It said. “It’ll be easier to just pass through and away…” I considered it, I’m not going to lie. But something, I don’t know what, made me get off the street. I grabbed the bicycle next to me, a fierce red number with 21 speeds, and pulled myself groggily to my feet. The very same feet encased in a pair of thick black rubber boots. Now I’d gotten to my feet, I could see it around me.

Debris. As if something had fallen from the sky and landed around me. I looked for survivors in the smouldering wreckage, looking almost serene and beautiful in the dim light of evening.

There were lights on in every house, brightly fighting back the cold night. I trudged down a street, looking in to see families everywhere with each other and their friends. Clearly, I’d stumbled into this at a wonderful time.

I leaned in close to the next window I passed, watching my breath fog the glass and make it hard to see through, but I found that I could see the shapes of men and women coming together beneath a strange green plant, poisonous white berries hanging from it in desperation. They laughed, they cried but they… Experienced.

I may not be able to remember, but I know that I have never truly experienced anything like this. It seems like a good place to be.

My name? I can’t remember it after the fall, but you can call me Nicky. It’s been a long time…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 246: You’re the high school sweetheart from the Day 12’s prompt. Write your reply to the breakup note.

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Karen,

Look. I get the feeling that you and I left each other in very different frames of mind. I never asked you to wait for me, nor did I want you to. In fact, I’m fairly sure I told you I didn’t want to see you again and that you could, and I quote, go to hell.

You want to know what life with the 22nd is like? Heaven. There’s no crazy bitches out here that follow you home, or sit in your car and wait for you, or leave you unwanted or unexpected gifts.

Actually, wait, I’ve just described [REDACTED]. Look, tomorrow I move into one of the most dangerous regions on this godforsaken hellhole and it’s still preferable to your thirty second reminders of that one time we kissed at Helena’s party.

We were seven years old Karen! I grew up. Perhaps you should learn to.

Don’t wait for me Karen. I don’t want you to. I don’t want any more letters either. I’m only replying to this one in the hope you’ll piss off and leave me alone.

Goodbye Karen.

Oooo, an unwelcome letter. A harsh reality for a former suitor…

Day 12, that’s when the original was written. I was never very happy with it, so I’m glad that I’m finally writing John’s reply. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 245: Your face is on the evening news. Write a short news story to explain why.

 

“The local man pictured behind me is wanted in connection with a great number of illegal acts, including but not limited to smuggling, piracy, selling drugs, illegal distillation and manufacture of spirits, prostitution. It is believe that he is armed, dangerous and in the South Welling area. If you have any information on his whereabouts, please contact South Welling police station on the number below, or if this is an emergency, please dial nine nine nine. Back to you Cathy.”

“Thanks James. Now, you’ll see behind me a picture of local man Andrew and his prize marrow. Taking the top spot in the Giant Vegetables Comparable Unity National Tournament was tough enough, but now Andrew has his sights set on the big time. Perhaps in the days to come we will be welcoming a new star into the South Welling fold. For now though, with those thoughts of Murders and Marrows, we bid you goodnight.”

“Goodnight. South Welling.”

James Buchanan removed the earpiece from his from his ear, uncomfortably warm under the studio lights. “Why did we go with the Marrow man and not supercop?”

“Because Marrow brings in viewers and Supercop makes people uncomfortable. Now, shut the fuck up and get on with the prep for nine o’clock. Fucking marrows, man. I couldn’t give a shit.” Cathy lifted the glass of clear liquid to her mouth and took a long sip. “That’s good… Water.” She trailed off as a producer approached.

Marrows. They’re the future. 

As it turns out, yesterday evening my laptop suffered a catastrophic battery failure. By which I mean I forgot to charge it… Fear not, here is the offering as it was. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 244: Set your alarm for 3 a.m., wake up, and write the first thing that comes to mind.

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Three o’clock will always be a strange time. It is viewed in one of three ways.

  1. You’re coming in from something. A long drive to visit someone, or a trip away with work. Either way, you are the triumphant warrior, the prodigal son. You have completed your travels and as such return to celebrate your triumph or to commiserate your failings. Either way, three o’clock is the harbinger of sleep, of dreams. Perhaps you are returning from a night of debauchery and entertainment with friends, or returning home from a holiday with your children sleeping peacefully in the back seat of your car. You get back and your sheets welcome you, inviting you to slip between them and drift into rest.
  2. You are leaving for something. Something distant and exciting, something you must travel some distance for. Perhaps it is work, something different from the norm. Perhaps it is a holiday, a treat, a surprise. It can be good or bad, but three o’clock still holds promise. It is excitement, even work, as much as you may disagree with this point when you first encounter it.
  3. Finally, three o’clock is the realm of the insomniac. The man who lays his head against his pillow and finds no respite from the day, simply an acute awareness of the ticking clock. He will observe the flow of time, feel it wash over him and through him, with the occasional check of a phone or a watch to anchor the reality of his situation. Though he knows that outside it is darkness, he cannot find his way into the grips of Morpheus and remains restless and awake.

I suppose it could be said that there is a fourth option. The man who has encountered three o’clock through the urgings of a book, compelling him to set his alarm for this most ungodly of hours and write down whatever thoughts flow from his mind. I must confess, the above is the second thing that came to mind.

The first was quite simple, yet unnecessarily complex in it’s expletives. I have removed them so as not to offend, though three o’clock, it would appear, can work wonders on the imagination when it comes to inventive language.

“Why am I awake?”

So, this isn’t as bad as it first appears. Following my arrival at my hotel earlier, I climbed into bed for a small nap. Four and a half hours later, I awoke. At this point, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to write this challenge. Now, if you don’t mind, I will be returning to my dreams. 

My third thought, following my waking up, has given me some ideas though. Hopefully, these will come to fruition in future posts. Stay tuned!

The Idiot in Tin Foil