Day 282: Write a story in which you are the villain.

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“Now remember, children, when the Earthshaker comes…” Mrs Huntsman looked out across her assembled pupils, waiting for their standard chorused response.

“Remember to run!”

“Very good. Now, run along home. I must get back to work.” She saw the class file out, one after the other, all scuttling home to their parents. All except for Jonathan. “Can I help?”

“I don’t believe in the Earthshaker.” He said, flatly. “I think he’s been made up so that we don’t go into the Great White Expanse.”

“My boy, I assure you that he exists. Can you not feel the earth tremble, the winds howl as he moves?” She shuddered. “Please, Jonathan, just go home.”

But Jonathan did not go home. He left her class and wove his way instead to the Great White Expanse. As he looked across the strange, bow-like landscape, he thought he saw something at the bottom of the slope. “I must see what it is.” He said to himself, taking a tentative step forward. Unfortunately, the sides of the Expanse were slippery and he quickly lost his footing, sliding all the way to the bottom. “What is this?” He said, wheeling around to look. He charged at the steep slopes beside him, only to find himself sinking back down.

“Help!” He called out to anyone who would listen, but nobody came here. They were all too afraid of the Earthshaker. “Fine. Since I’m stuck here for a while, I’ll investigate.”

The object he had seen from the top of the slope was a hair, curled around on itself but still almost the size of him. It lay next to a small pool of water. “But this is enclosed!” He cried, running around the hair. “Where has the water come from?”

A deafening noise rolled across the plain. Jonathan’s eyes swiveled up to find a monstrous creature, one hundred times his size if not more, and the earth began to shake. The Earthshaker had arrived. Jonathan called out, but the Earthshaker picked something from the wall with a long and gangling limb, all the while with the great noise crashing through the air. The waters came from the Earthshaker’s weapon, and quickly engulfed Jonathan. He curled his legs up to his body and whispered, “I believe in the Earthshaker.” Then, like that, he was gone.

***

Andrew placed the showerhead back on the wall, and muttered to himself, “Bloody spiders.”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 281: Start a story with the line “When I confronted him, he denied that he’d ever said it.”

 

When I confronted him, he denied he’d ever said it. “James, really? You think I’d do something like that?” I wanted to believe him, I really did. But something was putting me off.

It was as if he’d managed to shrink into himself. He kept looking around, warily, as if somebody was going to jump out at him. His hat was gripped in fingers turning white as bone and he’d occasionally shudder as if someone had walked over his grave. “Alfie, what did you tell them?”

“Nothing! I just needed them to leave me alone so…”

“So what?”

“I… I said that we had the statuette.”

I couldn’t have heard him right. “I’m sorry, what?”

“I said that we had the statuette.”

“You told the Chronomatics that we had the statuette.”

“Yes.”

“The same Chronomatics that chased us halfway around the world because they thought the we had the statuette.”

“Yes.”

“The ones that once threatened to eat our livers if we didn’t hand it over and we only just escaped with our lives?”

“Those ones, yes.”

I stood still. Thought to myself for a moment. Then I punched him in the face.

It may not have been the best thing I could have done at that moment, but God, it felt good.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 280: Put two characters, each of whom wants something from the other, in a room together.Neither of them is allowed to ask for it straight out. Give them five minutes with only dialogue to get what they want.

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“My Lady, the Baruvian delegation has arrived.”

Ilyanna Seabreeze looked around the room. Her courtiers all looked at her with the last hopes in her eyes. “Very well. Send in Lord Baristojk. I will treat with him alone.”

“But, my Lady,” The Magus, Bortian, looked up in horror. “He is Baruvian! Evil itself spawned there, and…”

“Are we to judge the sins of a nation by the actions of one wayward son?” Ilyanna shook her head, sadly. “I will not be the one to plunge my nation into the grip of mass hysteria. Send in the Lord. Then, once formal introductions have been managed, you will all leave us.”

The courtiers and attendants looked at each other. This was a breach of the standard protocol, but what were they to do? The Light of Pernicia had spoken. While they all grumbled, they did as they were bidden. The crowds petered out to leave them alone. Lord Baristojk of Baruvia, haughty and standoffish, and the Lady Seabreeze, radiant and hopeful.

“Ilyanna.”

“Lord Baristjok, within this hall you will refer to me as “My Lady” or “Lady Seabreeze”. You surrendered your right to abandon formalities long ago.”

“Very well, my Lady. You know why I have come.”

“I do indeed. However, it has to be said that I am loathe to hear your requests.” Ilyanna sniffed and tried to look down her nose at him. She knew she should have asked for the throne to be placed on a raised platform. As it were, he simply stood tall and stared directly at her with his deep blue eyes.

“Lady Seabreeze, the Gemstone Rebels have taken Pravia. Within forty eight hours, they could be marching upon Baruvia.”

“Yet you have none to blame but yourself. Had you kept a tighter leash on the Lion Cub, we wouldn’t be having this issue.”

Anger blazed in Lord Baristojk’s eyes and his next sentence came through gritted teeth. “Ilyanna, I came to treat with you fairly. If you consider this an excuse to belittle me and to discuss my faults-”

“Olja, your faults are numerous and indescribable. My statements are exactly that – statements of facts. Now, unless you are prepared to state your business directly, I have no further time for you. So,” she said, eking out every last drop of venom she could find, “Why are you here?”

The Lord Baristojk stared at her, then turned on his heel. His long strides took him to the entranceway quickly, but then he lingered. A hand, calloused and scarred from countless hours of training with sword and axe, rested on the handle. “You know why I came, Ilyanna. Leave me my pride, at least.” He pulled open the door and began to walk through. His last words dawdled in their passage to Ilyanna, long enough for the door to have closed behind him. “I’m sorry for the past, Ilyanna.”

The courtiers streamed back into the room following his departure. “My Lady, are you okay?” The Magus asked, looking at her rigid form. “Has he hexed you?”

Ilyanna broke from her reverie. “No, I am fine. I got what I wanted from the meeting. Now it is time to see to it that he gets what he wants.”

“And what is that, Lady Seabreeze?”

“We will send the Twelfth Legion to Pravia. They mobilise tonight.”

In this piece, I wanted there to be a mystery. What’s going on, who wants what? In the end, deciding on my character having very different desires for the meeting was easy. Baristojk wants support to defend his nation and is acting on a political level, while Ilyanna wants an apology. I haven’t decided what Baristojk did just yet, but I’m fairly sure it was bad that Ilyanna holds a grudge. 

Still, everyone got what they wanted in the end?

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 278: Write an anonymous letter to a stranger detailing the things you’ve learned about life.

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Hello,

You don’t know me and you probably don’t want to. I’m nothing. I’m nobody. I’m a disappointment and a loser and waste of space. But I know things. Things that you should learn before you go down the same route.

Now, I know you’ve found this in your jacket pocket. You’ve opened it, bleary-eyed and thought ‘What’s this?’ It’s your salvation. You found this while you looked for your keys. Your phone light was blinking, and you struggled to find the keyhole, am I right? You’ve thrown the whole bundle from your pocket, this letter included, onto the worktop.

I’ve made mistakes. You don’t have to. A man told me once, a long time ago, that I had choices to make. Choices that would affect everything I’d ever stood for. I ignored him.

You shouldn’t. Listen to me now and save your future.

You’ve got to step away from the booze. That’s step one. You’ve let it take over your life and it will. ‘But it’s just a couple before I head home.’

‘It’s one for the road.’

What you don’t realise is that you say that after six. Seven. By number eight you’re slurring. It’s been four hours. People are waiting for you but you just have that one last drink.

Trust me on this one. You need to break away.

This is the first note. There will be more to come.

Yours, in hope,

A friend.

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 274: A man jumps from the fortieth story of a building. As he’s passing the twenty-eighth floor, he hears the phone ring and regrets that he jumped. Why?

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Deep breaths.

Take deep breaths and let the energy you know is there flow through you. How hard has it been? You thought it would be wonderful, that the power would make you happy. You’d go sailing through the skies, saving people. Put on the spandex and the mask and nobody knows who you are, right?

You thought you had it all sewn up. You’d be a hero.

But you’re not. You’re nothing. You’re nobody.

You could have been so much more. You could have done something with your life, but instead we find you here on the rooftop thinking about jumping. Why the roof? So that you’ve got time to fly away if you change your mind?

Most people only have to focus for a moment. They just have to find the courage to step off the ledge. But you? You have to concentrate the whole way down. You have to do nothing, you have to fight to do nothing. You’ll have to ignore that buzzer, connected to the police scanner. You’ll have to ignore the screams of anguish from those people below. You’ll have to do nothing at all, and focus on hitting the floor.

Can you do that? Can you focus? Does it count as victory if you go through with it?

What about the people you’ve hurt by doing it? Are you a hero or not? This is your last ditch attempt to get away. You’d turn yourself into a villain to do it. Most villains can only hurt someone physically, perhaps mentally. It takes a special kind of evil to rip emotions to shreds. You’ll hurt everyone you love far more than any of your villains could.

But that’s fine. You’re selfish. You claimed the powers, you deal with the consequence. It’s all you. So, do it.

Wait, what are you doing? You’re not actually going through with it, are you? Step away. Now. Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t be serious about this.

Well, now you’ve gone and done it. I hope you can focus, all the way down to the ground. It’ll be tricky. You’ll have to keep in mind everything. The thought of those people on the pavement as you hit. All of it.

That’s floor thirty. Twenty-nine. Twenty-eight. Oh dear, there goes the Batphone. Somebody needs saving. Go on, pull up. Change your mind. Go and save them.

 

 

 

 

I knew you’d do it. Just so full of regret. Go and save everybody else and hate yourself.

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