Day 289: What did you wear to prom? How did you get your outfit and what happened to it?

Do you know what really sucks? Spending decent money on a dinner jacket. You’d think that you could get one relatively cheaply, but Mum insisted. “You’ve got to look your best,” she tells me. “You never know who you might meet.” Well, she certainly got that one right. Only instead of her pretty vision of me meeting her future daughter-in-law, I met the Outcasts.

I also managed to antagonise them enough that I’m writing this from a small crawlspace in one of the old IT classrooms, covered in dust and cobwebs. It’s all getting torn down, so at least it’s gonna be an effort to find me. I can hear them occasionally, the gentle thud of a combat boot on broken tile. It’s not a good noise.

I can’t believe that four hours ago, Stacy was passing me a drink and now I’m here, without a dirnk and with a murderous gang of thugs trying to find me so that they can, and I quote, “Rip your fucking heart out and feed it to you.” I was tempted to tell them that ripping my heart out would leave me dead and unable to eat, but my legs decided that that wasn’t the time for sassy comments and was, in fact, time for running. Far.

Did you realise that a dinner jacket isn’t great to run in? The trousers didn’t help, being slightly too tight, but they ripped shortly after I started fleeing down the corridor. That made life far easier. In that I had a greater range of movement, but less so as I’d be mortally embarrassed should I come across anyone I know.

Still, you win some, you lose some.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

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Day 288: Write a scene that begins: “Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that.”

 

Joe was the last person on Earth I expected to do that. When he called me here, to Vidaros, I never even began to think that he would have changed so much.

He met me on the runway, all smiles and the Joe I’d met at university all those years ago. He wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug, then kissed me on both cheeks.

“You’ve been spending too much time with all those Europeans.” I said, jokingly wiping my face. “You were never one for contact before.”

“Yes, well. People change, Eddie.” He grinned. “Now, come on. Time for you to see why I’ve called you here.” We walked toward a jeep by the side of the runway, all decked out in military green with a gunner on the back. “Don’t mind Aldo. He’s not one for talking much.”

“Okay, but why do you need a tail gunner?”

“We’ve had some issues with the wildlife.” He cut off, quickly, then told Aldo to be prepared.

I’ve never seen anyone drive like that. It was like he needed to be at the place he was going twenty minutes ago, or he was going to be shot. Running a gauntlet, but why? “Do you have to go so quickly?” i asked, but he never replied. He just sat, grimly staring ahead, a stark change from the man I’d met at the runway.

It was all explained later, when we got to The Forge.

Just a short one today. Need to get back into the swing of things (and catch up) but this is, in my head, the beginning of a classic adventure. Find the artifact, save the world. Etcetera. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 286: Write a scene in which a women is fired after only a week on the job. Just a week earlier, the same person who is now firing her was very persuasive in convincing her to take the job.

 

Grakus Ironskull, of the Dark Isles Ironskulls, has never been very comfortable at a desk. His armour is designed for battle, not a war of words and intrigue and as such keeps catching on drawers. His six foot seven, broad-shouldered frame also doesn’t help, as the desk itself is built for a clerk, or a dogsbody, or anyone that has never seen battle in their life.

Somebody knocked at the door. “My lord Ironskull!” Arden Shipman, his second in command, called through. “Captain Havisdotter has arrived.”

“Send her in.” He shouted back, looking down at the reports before him. This was not going to be a fun meeting, to say the least.

Fjonna Havisdotter stepped into the room and snapped to attention. She was every image of the dutiful soldier, leather armour moulded to her body to allow for greater range of movement, hair cut short to prevent the enemy getting a handhold in close combat. By her side hung two blades that danced on the line between long knife and short sword, both singing as they cut the air as she walked.

“General Ironskull, Sir.”

“Havisdotter. Take a seat.” He raised a mailed glove, gesturing to the seat before the desk. She broke from her rigid pose and sat down, placing her hands on her knees and giving every impression of being as at attention as before. “Last week, I asked if you would become Captain of the Seventh. What did you tell me when I first asked?”

“I said no, Sir.” She swallowed, not in a fearful way, more of a challenge. “I specifically requested I stay with the Valkyries.”

“Indeed. I then asked once again. I told you I’d not seen a warrior of your prowess since my own youth. You then told me, what?”

“That I had much more to learn and that the best place for me was the Valkyries.”

“Exactly.” Grakus lifted his hand to his chin, scratching the rough beard covering a healing wound. A close call with a Mallian death squad had nearly taken his jaw off. The Seventh, his chosen warband at the time, had almost let him die. Their captain, Mors Stormsearch, had disappeared at the first hint of battle. “I then insisted. I said that the Valkyries had other capable leaders rising through the ranks and that you, personally, should be commanding. Not following the orders of Niamh Seacrest. I instructed you to take charge of the Seventh.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“So, Havisdotter, I’d like you to tell me what happened at Barock Pass. Then I have to make a decision as to whether I release you from your duties or kill you where you sit.” Grakus smiled as he slid the plate gloves over his hands. “Move for the knives, you die. Move at all, you die. Talk and I’ll make my decision.”

Fjonna thought for a moment. She was considering making a run for it, making an attack on the General. Here at Portin’s Keep, she wouldn’t make it fourteen yards before there were three crossbows pointed at her. Those options were out. She analysed other possibilities, going for the window, calling to her sisters in arms. None of them came through.

“Very well. Barock Pass.” She took a deep breath.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 285: Write a scene full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 

It is the tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The warband of ideas that roams my head, pillaging the land and laying siege to the fortresses of my mind, chooses to remain silent. Their war cries, usually so overbearing in their efforts to shout out the thunder, instead have become muted conversation that rolls across the landscape on a gentle wind.

A howl, like every wolf in existence choosing to join the chorus, emanates from some unseen monster behind a distant hill. It is accompanied by a distant rumble, that ancient monster clambering to its feet.

The warband has dissipated. They seek refuge from this monster’s unholy shriek, its imposing presence. It crows from its hideout behind the horizon. The rumble comes again a the giant maw opens, shaking the very foundations of this landscape. The ideas and their usual raucous carousing have fallen silent, leaving nothing but me and the monster.

“Hello, writer’s block.”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 284:Write a message in a bottle. Write about the person who finds it.

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Stanley Livingstone leaves his house at thirteen minutes past seven every morning. He is dressed in his high-visibility jacket, his running trousers and his bright red trainers, a Christmas present from a well-meaning but fashion unconscious relative. He checks his fitness tracker and starts his music playing as he sets off.

The sounds of repetitive bass fills his mind, pushing out all his thoughts of the day ahead. There is nothing but him and the music as he heads towards the beach. Stanley loves it at this time, when he doesn’t have to dart around tourists and dog walkers. He can even, should he so wish, get right down to the water and run through the spray.

On this day, he does so. His trainers sink slightly as he powers across the sand, pushing himself to the limit. He feels like he has to work the stress out this morning, as he’s got a very full day ahead.

Suddenly, his foot strikes an object hidden in the sand and he goes flying. He sees the ground rushing up toward him, barely with time to swear to himself before he’s sprawled in the sand. He flips onto his back to look at the thing that tripped him, to find a green bottle sitting in the sand. He starts to get up, only to pause.

There’s a piece of paper in the bottle.

He pulls the bottle from the sand’s grip and peers inside. The paper is tightly rolled, held in its coil by a lady’s hair tie. He considers, then decides to head home. His routine has already been disrupted and at forty-four minutes past seven the crossroads always gets blocked.

When he gets back to his flat, he places the bottle on his breakfast bar as he makes his food. The paper is sitting in his mind, niggling until he can’t take it any more. He picks the bottle from the table and slowly eases the cork from the neck. He’s never been one for mysteries but this has caught his attention.

The paper slides from the bottle easily and lands in his accepting palm. He quickly unfurls it and begins to read…

To whomever finds this note,
I had to write this down. I had to get my story out in the hope that somebody trustworthy will find it. My partner and I have followed this as far as we can, but the 
Molly May is sinking. We are far from the shipping lanes between the Cape of Good Hope and the Western tip of Australia. We thought that we’d found it.
We were wrong.
Now, if you find this note and I pray that you do, go to Hannigan’s in Perth. Take this note and apologise to Hoskin that we lost his boat.
We must have made a mistake with the Verses. Hoskin has a copy. Get them and go to Isobel McCluskey at ANU. Maybe she’ll find something in the physical copy that we missed.
Whoever you are, I hope this works out for you. I’m sorry.
Anna Harris and Peter Williams

Stanley looked at the note. He was still looking at the note when his mobile phone began to ring.

“Stan? It’s Jerry. Look, there’s been a change of plan. We need you to go to the Perth office.” Stanley said nothing, just looked at the phone then back to the note. This couldn’t be a coincidence. This was all a hoax, a big joke that they were playing on him. Perhaps everyone would be waiting at this Hannigan’s bar to laugh at him. “Stan? Stan? You gonna say something or you just gonna leave me hanging?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ll do it.”

“Great, we’ll send you the email ticket. You’ve got the company card still, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Excellent. You’re meeting some of our top clients out there, so take the good suit.” With that, Jerry hung up. No goodbye, no sign off, just the end of the conversation and a dead phone line.

“Ask for Hoskin. The Verses.” He muttered to himself as he went to pack. “Hmph.”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 279: Finding a bag of cash

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When you find a large sack full of money in your back garden, it’s going to be either a very good day or a very bad day. In my case, it was the latter.

It started like every other day. I got out of bed, complained that my joints ached, walked to the bathroom, then complained that it was too bright. I got into the shower, complaining at different times that it was both too hot and too cold. I finished up in the bathroom, then headed downstairs for some breakfast. Shame there were only cornflakes. Own-brand and everything, none of this Kellogg’s nonsense around here.

I even complained that there was nobody to complain to. But nobody listened.

Then, as I was taking the bins out and complaining about the smell, I fell over. Some bloody idiot leaving bags of rubbish all over my path. I’d turned round to check it (and hopefully find out who’s it was so I could gut the little bastard like a kipper) when I saw it. A five pound note, one of the new ones that look like bloody Monopoly money, stuck to the stones.

And another. Then more, all lying on the ground like sunbathers on a beach.

I finally opened the bag I’d fallen over. Instead of seeing what I expected, namely a few kilos of food waste and some rotting cardboard, I found a bin liner full of new five pound notes.

And my bloody leg hurt where I’d fallen over! That was only the start, though. I’m stuck with a bag of fivers, a dodgy leg and a bowl of wilting cornflakes in the kitchen. You’d think the only way was up.

It wasn’t. The men arrived at three. In their dark suits and their flash car that ran over my petunias. Bastards.

They never apologised. Of course, if you’re not going to apologise for ruining something as precious as my garden, I’m certainly not going to tell you where the money is.

I may complain, but I’ve got my pride.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 277: The thoughts of the first man to eat an oyster.

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There are three men sat in the corner booth of the Dog and Morrow. One is old, a full beard white as snow covering wrinkled skin that hangs loose on his jaw. One is comfortably middle-aged, carrying his extra tyre haughtily as he seeks to increase its size with a further few pints. Finally, the third man is quite young. His beard is patchy, affectionately referred to as bum fluff.

They raise their pints of Hopping Mad ale to their lips, take long draughts, then place them back on the table that is so desperately in need of a wipe-down. The barmaid, however, is far too busy checking her phone behind the bar and our three men are, truly, just not that bothered.

“‘Ere, Kev,” The middle aged man says, “‘Ave you ever ‘ad an oyster?”

The older man looks down at his pint, looks across to his companion, then back at his pint. “No.”

“What about you, Davey? You ever ‘ad an oyster?”

The young man simply shakes his head. He’s drumming his fingers on the table and looking shyly at the barmaid who is still far too engrossed in her phone to notice.

“Me neither. It’s just, I ‘ear they’re all slimy like, and a bit weird.”

Kev wipes the back of a gnarled hand across his face, displacing the crumbs of his latest pasty and the foam of the ale from his beard. “I heard they get you all worked up. You know, in your nether regions.” He lets out a loud belch that finally garners some attention from the barmaid. Unfortunately, the attention comes in the form of a glare. Kev and Malc sit completely unfazed. Davey goes bright red and becomes suddenly very interested in his pint. “I don’t think Davey needs any. Look at him. Need a cushion, Davey?”

“What? Me? No, I’m fine.” The young man is fidgeting again, shifting side to side in his seat. “No problems here. Are we having another?”

“Slow down, lad.” Malc clicks his neck and stretches his arms. “We clocked off a bit early, remember? We’ve got stacks of time. Young Sally isn’t going anywhere.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

Kev ponders for a moment, then speaks up. “Malc, what got you thinking about oysters then?”

“Well, you know we made Davey eat the bag of peanuts we found at the back of the cab…” Davey retches slightly at the memory. “Well, I was wondering why we choose to eat what we do. It’s a bit weird really, innit?”

The three men raise their pints to their lips, take a deep draught, then place them back down.

“We dared him to.”

“Yeah, but… ‘Ow did we discover bacon was tasty?”

Kev puts his little finger in his ear and swirls it around. “Malc,” he says, withdrawing the finger and inspecting the remains with care, “I really don’t give a shit. Right then, Davey, I bet you won’t eat this one?” He wipes the ear gunk onto a cheese and onion crisp, and holds it out to the young lad. “I thought you did anything you were dared to?”

Davey looks at him for a moment, then takes the crisp. “I hate you sometimes.Why do I tell you anything?” And he places the crisp in his mouth.

The three men raise their pints to their lips, take a deep draught, then place them back down. Only Davey picks his back up and takes another, trying to purge the taste of ear gunk from his palette.

***

There are three men sat in the corner of the cave by the beach. One is old, one is middle aged and one is young. The old man is holding out half of a shell, nestled inside which is something slimy. He seems to be encouraging the young man to eat the slimy thing, which he does so with reluctance.

They pick up their rudimentary containers of fermented milk, take a deep draught, then palce them back down. The young man picks his up again, only to pause and look quizzically at the half shell. He looks approving, then takes another drink.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 276: You’ve been caught cheating at a casino. Explain to the pit boss why this is all just a big misunderstanding.

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Jason struggled to open his swollen eyes and fought desperately to ignore the blood running over his lips. “Look, mate, this is all a big misunderstanding.” He coughed, then spat a globule of blood onto the concrete floor. “I wasn’t cheati-”

“Shut it.” His tormentor, sweating profusely even in the cool air of the basement, had returned. “We know you started with the blackjack tables.”

***

“Hit me!” Jason yelled, brandishing a glass of lemonade. He wanted people to think he was getting drunk, that he was making mistakes. Thankfully, his brain was clear as a bell and his fellow gamblers were showing the signs of losing it.

The dealer straightened his tie, then passed him a card. The Queen of hearts looked up at Jason from the green felt, taking him to twenty-one. The dealer sneered, raised his hand to his earpiece, then dealt his own card. “Nineteen. Dealer pays twenty and above.”

Jason laughed as the pile of chips grew some more. “Thank you very much.” He tossed a hundred chip to the dealer and said, “Have a drink on me.” He picked up his chips and moved on.

The dealer stared at his retreating back before raising a hand to the earpiece, staring into one of the nearby cameras, then nodding slowly.

***

“Yeah, I had a lucky streak.” Jason moved his tongue around his mouth, checking all of his teeth. Some were definitely loose. He’d had a moment of panic when his tongue ran over a patch of gum, but remembered that he’d actually had that one removed a while back. “So what?”

“So you then moved onto the poker tables.” The overweight man, still drenched in sweat, had removed his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his dark shirt.

***

“So, this the high stakes table?” A young girl, perhaps twenty with her blonde bob, nodded and smiled at him. He smiled right back, his perfect shit-eating grin. “Excellent. Let’s go, sweetheart.” He was hoping for a reaction and got it in the form of a deep red blush spreading across the girl’s cheeks. He loved messing with the dealers.

He took a seat and rocked back on his chair, acting in every instance the obnoxious fool. He figured this one would be easy. He was proved right as the chips kept piling up.

***

“Yeah, I get that,” Jason spat more blood, “but I was just lucky.”

“Nobody’s that lucky. Especially not at four casinos in three nights. So, what’s the game?” The tormentor was sat backwards on a chair in front of him, cracking his knuckles one by one.

“Magic?” Jason said, hopefully. He hadn’t thought he’d be caught out that quickly.

“Try again.”

“No, really. It’s magic. Though card tricks aren’t really my specialty.” Jason grinned. He’d been waiting hours for this. “It’s escapology.”

The lights went out. When they came back on (and the sweating man had picked himself off the floor, nose streaming with blood) Jason Weiss had gone, leaving only a gently swinging set of manacles.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 275: A useless love – a connection or affinity that doesn’t fit into the plans of anyone concerned.

 

 

When your Jewel glows, you’ve found the one you should love. A simple formula, but with a single catch. You have no say in it whatsoever.

There are three people in this story. There’s me, there’s Henry and there’s Marco. Marco is six foot three, funny. He’s good at sports, he’s clever. He can hold a conversation. He’s everything you’d ever look for.

Then there’s Henry. Henry is thin and weedy, with thick glasses. He constantly pulls the leather gloves he wears further onto his hands as if he’s trying to push his fingers through the fingertips. It makes him look nervous and shifty, always.

No contest, right?

Then somebody, anybody, explain to me why when I’m next to Henry my Jewel burns like a small piece of a star trapped in my wrist. But when I’m with Marco my feelings burn that way. What do I do?

I have classes with both of them tomorrow. Something has to give way.

***

This one is causing me trouble. I want to come back to it when I’ve had time to give it some thought, but at present it’s not working for me. I intend to have the three characters’ Jewels all burning when they’re together, but all for different people. Marco – My main character. My main character – Henry. Henry – Marco. 

Alas, I’m just not getting there with this one. Still, fingers crossed. Look out for 275 revisited in the future. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 273: Open your kitchen cabinet. Write a scene incorporating the first three things you see.

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Popcorn, pasta and pecans.

When my wife said she wanted to be experimental in the kitchen, I was initially wary. “But darling, what’s wrong with what you cook now?” I asked, hoping against hope that sense would return from whatever holiday it had taken and return with few, if any, souvenirs.

“It’s just so… Boring.” She replied. I shudder at the memory of those words as I stare down at the mush of beige before me. “Heston has some wonderful ideas.”

I could kill Heston Bloody Blumenthal. Filling my wife’s head with ideas about popping candy pig’s heads and bacon and egg ice cream. While Heston may be able to do that, my wife’s idea of it is to get a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough, put the whole thing onto a plate and stick some crispy fried strips of bacon in like wafers.

It’s not good, I’ll tell you that.

But that was just the start of a long and twisted journey that has led to today.

Popcorn, pasta and pecans.

For a start, popcorn doesn’t belong with pasta. Not in the slightest. Especially, this is absolutely imperative, when it hasn’t been popped. Unpopped popcorn kernels are simply landmines in the desert of pasta. Then you add in the pecans and it’s touch and go whether you’ve got crunchy pecan or death by popcorn kernel.

Now, if she’d ground the pecans, mixed with a cheesy white sauce, perhaps that could have worked. But even then…

I was looking forward to my bolognese.

The Idiot in Tin Foil