General Forum

General Forum

  1. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 11:561 edit
    2018 RHP Prose Contest.

    You are invited to read and vote in this thread.
    Deadline - March 18, 24.00 Site time (*i.e. ca. 13,5 days from now).
    Voting system is the same as last year:
    1st place - 5 points
    2nd place - 3 points
    3rd place - 1 point.

    Members coping with Forum ban can send their voting entry to me by PM, I will clearly mark the voter however for the sake of transparency.

    I myself will vote after pondering sometime in between, I didn't read the entries (safe mine of course) to maintain Fairness.

    Please do NOT post anything else than your votes for the time being. I will count up the votes on Monday 19th. Then discussion will be open for all.
    I will begin posting the entries in about 10 minutes and it will take some time. I will clearly mark when I have posted all entries with a "Start voting now!" post.


    Edit: for comparison with last years crop refer to Thread 172179
  2. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:00
    Entry 1:


    Glass shattered.
    The world tumbled over me again and again.
    The ground came up as one terrifying whole, crashing into my body.

    I cannot say how long I was out. When I came to, the world was gone. There was only flatness. Spread throughout the flatness, were Holes.

    I turned around. Everywhere I looked, there were only more Holes.

    I cried out. I could barely hear my own voice. There was no echo. There was no landscape. There was no one.

    I meandered aimlessly, perhaps for minutes, perhaps for years. When I came upon the next Hole, I jumped in.

    I landed in a field of lush grass. There was a solitary tree on the horizon, backed by a pale blue sky. Underneath the tree sat a small man in a straw hat. He gave me a quizzical look.

    I walked toward him. Midway there, I lost my footing. He let out a cackle as I tried, in vain, to recover balance. I fell.

    I fell hard, onto pavement. It stretched as far as the eye could see. Then I heard the noise of revving engines. I squinted and saw a fleet of cars speeding furiously toward me - but only from one direction. I looked in the other direction, and saw a Hole.

    I scrambled to my feet and ran desperately toward it. The smell of burning oil and rubber, and the feel of searing heat closed in on me all too quickly. I looked back for a brief moment, and saw the cars were almost upon me. I dove face-first, in hopes of getting under them, only to realize that I’d gone straight down the Hole.

    Birds were chirping. There was a cool breeze in the air. There was a small stream of water flowing off to one side. Everything was calm.

    For some reason, this place frightened me more than any before.

    I couldn't tell why. Then, I snapped. There were no Holes. No way out.

    I heard footsteps. I turned. A woman was walking toward me. She was wearing a dark grey business suit. No tie. She had a pallid complexion and an expressionless face.

    Then she spoke. Her voice seemed to come at me from all directions, though her mouth moved in time with the sounds. "Welcome to Hell", she said.

    "You're not who I expected", I replied.

    "Oh? Were you expecting someone redder? Or with more horns?"

    I couldn't help but glance frantically to the sides. Her voice still surrounded me. I panicked. I turned, and ran, even harder than I had run from the cars. I heard laughter; not booming, nor maniacal, but easy and amused. It was the most horrifying sound I had ever heard.

    I looked up, and she was directly in my path.

    I crashed into her, and bounced back hard, as hard as if I'd hit a brick wall. She reached down, and helped me up.

    "There are no options here", she said softly, though the sound of her voice chilled my bones. "No Holes. Only this uneventfulness, for Eternity."

    The finality of it instantly became real. I was overwhelmed. My stomach felt nauseated, and beads of sweat pooled on my skin. I cried out loudly, as if I'd been shot. I fell to my knees as hard sobs racked my body.

    She turned on a heel, and walked away.

    I lived in this world for many days. There were trees that grew food. There were hay bales that could be scattered for a comfortable bed. What there wasn't, was challenges of any kind.

    I could leave food on the ground, and it would not spoil. There were no wild animals to threaten me. There were no harsh elements. No cold, no inclement weather; just a mild sun. I never even got sunburned.

    The next morning, I saw him. I almost didn't remember what he looked like, so long ago had it been since I'd seen him.

    He removed his straw hat, and shook his head. "So close", he said, with a wry smile. "I am sorry I could not save you."

    “What?!” I spat out.

    “I fought her; I lost. But she needed a credible adversary, so she let me say I’d won. She runs this whole place. The only way to avoid ending up at the bottom is to get lucky and reach me, and the Tree of Life, before you fall in a Hole. Sorry, but you are not one of the Chosen.”
  3. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:031 edit
    Entry 2:

    For the Love of Friends

    “I’ve met someone”, he blurted out.

    Mark, a colleague and good friend had joined me for our mid-morning Monday coffee at the firm canteen. We had been giving our usual synopsis of the weekend. Mark lived in sleepy Hay, I in Hereford. He helped to get me my position as a senior in purchasing, Mark was an architect. We worked for an award winning design consultancy. We were good enough to be runners up for the RIBA Stirling Prize in 2014.

    “You’ve what?” I questioned, my eyes immediately left my texting to look at him.

    “I’ve fallen in love”’ he grinned. “It’s Janine, I’ve er, I’ve been seeing her for about six weeks”.

    “Mark am I hearing you right? Ginny, the new girl in purchasing?” I was shocked, astounded. She was in her early twenties. “What the hell has got into you?” I felt confused.

    Mark had been married for eleven years to Trudi. Trudi had given up her job as a legal advisor to fully embrace motherhood after the birth of their second daughter Pippa. Hannah had been born two years earlier. They were two lovely girls with long dark hair, just like their mum. I’d been Mark’s best man. Mark was the guy who had it all. Gorgeous wife and family and a big house in the country. They were the epitome of the perfect family; good looking, no debts, fast cars, a private education for the girls and holidays twice a year.

    “Hey, take it easy, I mean, I know that you’ve fancied her since you first set eyes on her but it seems she prefers the respectable married man to the lone wolf”. Mark gave a sideways smile, adjusting his tie.

    “Seriously, you’re actually dating her?” I couldn’t quite believe my ears.

    “Let’s just say we’ve been working late together, and she’s pretty amazing!” Mark gave a thoughtful pause then spooned the foam from the top of his cappuccino into his mouth. No arrogant smile this time but a questioning steady gaze at his long trusted friend. Phil had never known him to have been unfaithful before.

    “I really like her Phil, she’s smart, intelligent, gorgeous, and she takes me back to my twenties again. You must know the feeling? Or maybe not? After all, you’ve been in your twenties all of your life haven’t you?”

    “Mark, she’s just a temp. She probably meets new men wherever she works? I can’t quite believe what I’m hearing here. You have the most devoted wife, a life with no worries, and yet you’re telling my that you want to be twenty again? Jesus, you’re not even forty yet. Have you given Trudi and the girls a thought in all this?”

    “They don’t need to know”, Mark hesitated, his expression now more serious as he held my gaze.

    “How are you getting away with it? Doesn’t Trudi suspect something?” I was starting to feel uneasy.

    “She joined a gym a few months ago so the girls go to her mum’s if I need to work late”, he replied, putting and emphasis on the word work.

    “Look Phil”, Mark reasoned, “I just need this right now, everything is getting to me, Trudi’s body clock is telling her she’s running out of time if she wants another baby, she wants us to get a bigger house with land to have horses and the in-laws are colluding and want to sell up and move in with us, forever! I know you don’t understand all that and that you may think I’m being a b’stard but I just can’t help myself right now. Life isn’t as rosey as it may seem to you. I’ll get her out of my system after a while I’m sure. I do not want to break up my marriage believe me. It’s the most important thing in the world to me and I know that you know that too. ”

    “Wow, I’ll neeed some time to think this through Mark. Can’t quite take it in. I need to get back to the office, I’ll catch you later ok mate.”.

    Phil rose from the table leaving Mark there who had resumed spooning the foam from his cold coffee. Upon exiting the swing doors of the canteen Phil ran his hand through his hair and walked quickly, anxiously texting and making a quick edit.

    “Trudi Hun, sorry but Fri not good. Working over, Phil x”.

    He then scrolled through his contacts to G.
  4. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:06

    Hi honey. Just writing to tell you about Fritzi. She died last night after being sick for a couple of days. Your father was devastated. You know how he was about that cat. He simply did not want to put him down so he died at home. Why not email your dad to cheer him up?

    Gee honey I saw the email you sent to your father. It was a little yellow ball with tears coming out of its eyes. What is that?!

    Your response of a yellow ball again? This time smiling. Does this amuse you? Your father would have liked a word or two of sympathy and you sent a smiley face. We buried Fritzi out near the old elm that he first climbed when he was a kitten. You remember when you had to climb up to get him. You were so cute the way you cuddled him and he was such a baby.

    Okay I get it I think. A yellow ball with eyebrows expressing anxiety I think. Why do I have to guess what your mental state is? I showed it to your father and he thinks you’ve lost your mind. He’s an English teacher you know! You were raised with words not cartoons. Any way Aunt Betty wants to send you some cookies. She said you always loved her cookies though I know you hated them. Please send her a note when you get them and be nice. She loves you.

    Spoke with Betty today. She didn’t understand that yellow ball response. She forwarded it to me and I told you to be nice. She doesn’t get it that you’ve lost your ability to respond like a normal human being and frankly I was as disappointed as the yellow head expressing, what I think is, your disappointment at having received her cookies. You used to be such a sweet girl. Why not write (and I mean write) Aunt Betty and thank her for the cookies. She sent us some too and I sent her a happy faced yellow ball I copied from the one you had sent us. I can see the point of them but don’t you think it’s a little impersonal?

    Don’t get smart with me missy! I might be behind the times a bit but I’m still your mother.

    There, there. If I upset you (I guess that’s what a yellow ball with tears is supposed to represent?) then I am sorry. I didn’t get the crying face with cat ears though? Is this supposed to be Fritzi? Is it a cat at all? Please intersperse at least one word with your emails. Saturday is your father’s last day of school and then it’s summer vacation. We were thinking of taking a drive out to see you but we’re not sure. Portland is so far away and we’re not up for a big trip like that.

    What was that?! A Dairy Queen chocolate ice cream like we used to get you on those hot summer days? I don’t get it.

    Thank you for the stink line! I guess that means we’re not invited. Aunt Betty is sending more cookies. Your father is quite upset with the stink line and wants me to tell you that we’re not coming.

    I’m not sure what all this means. It looks like anger, and a yellow ball with its eyes closed and zzz on it. I guess we woke you up somehow. Another pile with a stink line. It’s obvious you’re upset but I’m not sure about what exactly.
    Honey, I know you’ve given up language for some reason. You never call and your father and I are going to get a cottage on Lake Erie for the summer as you don’t want us to come out. Please don’t send any more pouty yellow circles or little devil heads as it makes your father crazy and I want him to relax until school starts again. I spoke with your friend Mary Jo and she said that she was out in Portland over the summer. She said you had a boyfriend but she didn’t like him. I asked her if you talked anymore – I mean really talked with words and stuff and she said you never talked and that you and your boyfriend communicated through glyphs. She said it was picture drawing. They do it a lot in Portland – weird! Otherwise she said you looked healthy. I’ll leave it at that. She thought you were nuts too.

    For the life of me I don’t get the anger! Your father is back to school now and we’ve found another cat we call Fritzi II. I think the exploding yellow ball means you’re angry again. We love you honey but lighten up a bit if you would.
  5. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:101 edit
    Entry 4:


    Shuffling slowly, the man stares at the monolithic building dominating the square, before slipping quietly in. Glass panes 12 feet high open on to a vestibule the size of a football field, featuring an enormous solid oak desk manned by 10 brightly dressed assistants.

    The man chooses the shortest line and patiently waits, eyes down, ignoring all around him. Most the people are dressed in holiday clothing, often in family groups, their jolly chatter annoyingly permeating the man’s foggy brain, though unable to raise a smile on his darkened face.

    The queues shorten, as family group after family group are escorted into the sparkling white elevator located directly behind the wooden desk. The man shuffles slowly forwards, the time moving from morning to afternoon, and as darkness falls the man reaches the front of the line and steps to the assistant, dressed entirely in red.

    “Good evening Sir, welcome to ‘Magic Memories’, where all your dreams can come true. My name is Meghan, how can I be of service?”

    “Hi Meghan, I understand that you can implant any memories that we desire?”

    “Well, not precisely, Sir. We can implant anything legal, though nothing too sordid, we are a family orientated business. With the cost of vacations continually increasing, many families are, instead, choosing to have their holidays implanted, thereby avoiding the need to travel, saving time, and allowing them to visit places they could never have the opportunity to visit.”

    “I understand that, thank you. However, are you able to remove memories?”

    “Remove memories? That is illegal Sir. Memory removal can cause significant damage to the host, and if badly targeted it can turn you in to a vegetable. So, no, sir we cannot do that, I am sorry for your long wait and disappointment.”

    “Thank you, Meghan. I will go now. What happens next isn’t your fault.”

    The man turns, face steely yet sad. He walks purposefully, head down, towards the entrance. As he exits, a short, stocky man in a long beige trench coat, strides up to him, grasping his elbow, and forces him firmly away from the busy road and into a side alley.

    “Get your hands off me!”

    “Don’t panic, this isn’t a robbery. It was suggested I talk to you by Meghan at Magic Memories. They cannot remove memories, but my organisation can… for the right price. What are you looking to have removed?”

    “My wife and children.”

    “Your wife and children? How long have you been married for? How old are your kids? And why do you want them removing from your memories?”

    “I was married for 27 years, and my kids were 23 and 19. I love them with every sinew in my body, and I was destroyed when they were taken from me. As such, I want them removed from my memories forever.”

    “Who took them?”

    “God, I guess. Or the alcoholic driving a lorry without a licence. It pretty much flattened the car they were waiting in. The coroners were unable to differentiate between the three of them, they were smashed up so badly. I was walking back with the shopping when I saw the truck motoring down the road. It was swerving back and forth, finally deflecting off a Toyota Prius, before crushing the loves of my life between its fender and a stationery garbage truck.”

    “If we were to remove that many memories then you would lose most of your personality, how old were you when you met your wife?”

    “We were both 19 years old, in college.”

    “If we delete all memories of your wife, you’d likely lose all your work life, as I’m sure you spent time with your wife and colleagues, and therefore we’d need to delete all your work memories too. It would be like you’ve reverted to a teenager, in a 50-something year old body. The shock when you first look in a mirror could give you a heart attack.”

    “I will risk it. Had you not intercepted me then I’d have walked into the road anyway. Death was my choice, so either I become an old teenager, or die. Whatever happens happens.”

    “Come with me then. The cost of the treatment, paid up front, will be 20,000 credits. Are you able to manage that?”

    “Yes. Show me the way.”

    The two men walk deeper into the alleyway. As they approach a sheet metal door, the trench coat wearing man places his right hand on a disguised sensor, and the door slides back. The man is ushered in, walking down a long, red lit, corridor and through a second sliding door.

    10 hours later, the man, face no longer frowning, almost skips back down the corridor and out into the early morning sunshine. He smiles as his new life waits for him.
  6. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:13
    entry 5:
    Police Reports

    “The body of Mrs. Charles Robins lay lifeless in the parlor of the doublewide mobile home. Her husband, Torace, sat stunned ten feet from her body, the hammer that he used to end her life loosely gripped in his left hand.”

    “Tommy Baker,17, of Putnam was taken into custody Thursday after a high speed chase in a car, stolen from the parking lot of the Family Dollar on Rte. 21. After slamming into a car carrying two occupants, Laura Kaiser and her daughter Debby, both killed in the crash, Baker fled the scene. He later turned himself in, accompanied by his father Jason, at the Putnam Police Department. Tommy Baker had finally accepted responsibility for his actions.”

    Officer Jack Smith read his two entries to the Lake District Crime Report with a certain satisfaction of having been published. Officer Smith had begun working with the police nearly a year ago. He began to notice how dry and lifeless were the crime reports, printed verbatim in the Putnam Weekly Record, and vowed to attempt to capture something of what those committing such crimes were thinking when he first came in contact with them in the course of performing his duties.

    He had been taking a class in creative wring at Clay County Tech and he used his unique experiences to attempt to capture the grief, fear, and hatred acted out which resulted in the police being called to a crime scene. He found how much more attached to the victims and the perpetrators of crimes became when he attempted to give those involved a human side. Slowly he developed a style that became recognizable to people reading the Crime Report and he became a minor celebrity in the rural areas of south Georgia.

    “When Sally Corbett left the Wal-Mart she passed a car in which a child had left her favorite doll. Ms. Corbett, using a rock, smashed the window and took the doll. She was later found walking down Carton Ave. holding the doll as if it were her child. She was taken into custody and returned to the Lakeside Residential facility from which she had disappeared two days prior. No charges were filed and Ms. Corbett was allowed to keep the doll by the family whose car she had robbed.” Officer Smith had liked this one and sometimes he tried his luck with humor.

    “Officers responded to a call from a neighbor of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Locker of Clay City. The neighbor complained that the couple was fighting and the noise was waking the neighborhood. Upon entering the Locker home they found Mr. Locker yelling to Mrs. Locker who was in the attic. In her nightgown. Apparently Mrs. Locker had accidentally locked herself in her attic and the couple were attempting to locate the key that Mrs. Locker had misplaced. The officers helped find the key and no attempt was made at humor at the expense of their names.”

    Sadly, however, most of the crimes involved a tragedy of some kind. He was particularly pained where the elderly had been abused by their children who were ill-equipped and without sufficient funds to care for their ailing parents.

    “When police arrived at the scene they found Mrs. Cale Thomas on her bed, a pillow over her face and her daughter Essa Charles, 60, softly sobbing as she prayed at her bedside. Her daughter explained that her mother, a cancer victim, was in severe pain and could no longer get the medications she needed to ward off the pain. Ms. Charles was allowed to say good bye to her mother and was then taken into custody and charged with first degree murder.”

    That one pained Officer Smith very much and almost cost him his job as he violated procedure by allowing Essa Charles time alone with her dead mother. No one would have ever known had he not written it down. Still he felt that allowing her the time would show her to be, not the monster of a cruel matricide but a caring daughter whose despair over her mother’s pain had led her to end her mother’s life.

    In late October readers of the Crime Report were saddened to read “ Officer Jack Smith was fatally shot when attempting to settle a domestic dispute between Roger and Nora Corwin of Bellamy. His body was found in the front room of the couple’s two story house. Mrs. Corwin was found dead in the rear bedroom. Two young children were taken to neighbors for safe keeping. Mr. Corwin was captured fleeing the scene in the family pickup truck. He was charged with two counts of murder.”
  7. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:16
    entry 6:

    First Impressions

    Ever get that gut feeling, that rush that makes you check out the exit with a need to stand taller and broaden your chest? It’s that instinct, that fight, flight, freeze mode like you see when two strange dogs warily approach in a public park. It never happens at the beach. Beach dogs are so well adjusted and just want to tear around with the wind in their fur, their scents blowing so high up that there’s no threat.

    I got the drift of his scent as he brushed past. So close that I breathed in the waft of his greasy sports cap. Most people enter bus shelters via the entrance not at the exit where one alights the bus. I’d been with friends. I could have stayed over at theirs’ but prefer the familiarity my own bed. So there were just the two of us. He slumped his rear onto the metal shelf seat, dropped his full carrier bag onto the floor and give a quiet sigh. I had no intention of responding, mustn’t encourage him. I instinctively did the stand upright and confident thing trying my best to look casual and untroubled. Just my damn luck I thought. I should have slept over. I braved an occasional sly dog glance his way to get a measure of him while he gazed at the floor. I was definitely taller but female unfortunately, dressed in my a baby blue woollen coat with my sack bag with a lone popper clasp hung on my shoulder. I wished I’d taken my sturdy zipped leather one. More reassuring were my buckled, thick soled biker-style boots. I shouldn’t look quite the pushover in those. I was fairly fit in that I had strong legs from pursuing daily squats but my arms were pretty pathetic.

    I didn’t dare let him see me looking. That may initiate some sort of connection, God forbid, or even lead to a confrontation. He was unhappy about something, maybe even resentful? What if he flipped? I checked the road, the occasional passing cars hissing in the drizzle. What if I had to make a run for it? What if I ran into a car? Well at least I’d get myself noticed and then get assistance quickly.

    Another sly glance revealed cheap shoes with curled up worn toes and baggy jeans; grubby too no doubt. I couldn’t work out his age but he was younger than I. Another sigh, I quickly looked away. I just knew that he was going to initiate a conversation. What on earth would he want? Was he wondering how much money I had in my purse? Was he putting on an act, maybe a drug addict? With my a full carrier bag? No, that didn’t fit somehow. I was obviously wealthier than he was. Better educated too I surmised. Was he going to catch the same bus?

    He spoke! “Have you ever been used and been waiting and waiting for a text for ages but never got one back?” I gave a look of polite puzzlement.

    “What was that sorry?” I replied. My voice sounded alien to me, like that of a teacher.

    He’s half looking at me, “I want to be his friend ok but he only has twenty minutes for me and then it’s over and he’s gone. It’s hard”, he pauses and sighs . “I wait and wait for a text but nothing. It’s hard..” he drifts off and looks at the floor.

    I relax a little. “So you have a friend who lets you down?” I ask. “He never texts you back?” I try to sound helpful.

    He’s hesitant. “Yeah, I mean I want to be his friend but he lets me down all the time. He’s twenty and aura tistic”, he mispronounces. “He’s in college. He says he’ll text but he never does. I’d like to take him out, take him to the cinema, show him a good time you know? I’m a full time carer, my dad has got dementia and my mum’s got diabetes.”

    “How old are you” I ask.

    “I’m forty five” he replies.

    I tell him he looks a lot younger and he asks my age which I decline to answer with a smile. Mustn’t encourage him. He tells me how other men take advantage of him, how one got him to spend eighty pounds on him. He’s desperate for a close friend, lives in a remote village at the end of the hour long bus route in practical social isolation. He gets a weekly bus into the city just to get a small bag of shopping. It’s the high of his week, his only escape from a lonely insular existence.

    How wrong could I have been? I feel ashamed.
  8. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:191 edit
    entry 7:

    I Hate School (copyright: the author [Pon's edit, author will be acknowledged by name after contet])

    I hate school. Gawd, how I hate school! Miss Tomasovitsch, a-k-a Miss Tomatobitch, hates my guts. She always gives me more homework than the other kids. And stupid homework. Like reading. Charles Dickens. Can you imagine that? Charles frickin Dickens. I mean, like, he's been dead over a hundred and fifty frickin years! I wish I were a wizard, like Harry Potter; I'd turn her into a newt. Or a piguana. That's an iguana with a pig's head.

    And then there's Mr. Janowski. The chemistry teacher. I nearly got expelled 'cuz of him. What a dipstick. I mean, like, it wasn't like I TRIED to blow up the chemistry building — it just sort of, you know, happened. I'd have liked being expelled. But no, they made me sit detention. A whole frickin week, an extra hour after school, five frickin days in a row. You don't know what boredom is until you've stared at the wall-chart of conjugated French irregular verbs every day for a frickin week! Je suis frickin BORED here!

    And then there's the other kids at school. Most of 'em anyways. You have any idea what it's like having a club foot? "Walk with a lisp!" "Stutter foot! Stutter foot!" O yeah, like, I'm supposed to go out for track and field!? Make it to first base with Polly Peachtart, the cheerleader!? I always get picked last for football teams. I always get back to the showers last and then there aren't any clean towels left. I always have to use somebody else's used towel.

    My mom called the school principal and complained I was being mobbed. O man, how DUMB can you get!? The teachers all had to give everybody a lecture on how some kids are 'diffrint' or 'special' and should not be teased. O man, the frickin organic waste matter hit frickin fan after that!

    But hey, I saved the whole damn class from having to do extra math homework once. Mr. Grimsdyke, our math teacher, asked the class, "Can anybody tell me what a radian is?" The silence was deafening. Like, five minutes, everyone is staring at me. You could hear a pin drop. Of course, no one had done any math homework, no one else had a frickin clue what a radian is. But everyone knows I know the answer; I'm a frickin math genius. I milked that one for all it was worth. Then Mr. Grimsdyke said, "Well, if no one did their homework, I guess I'll just have to assign everyone detention today." That was my queue. I raised my hand. Even Polly Peachtart was pleading at me with her eyes. Like, I care whether Joe Jockstrap and Polly Peachtart have to miss football practise today!

    I stood up. "Mr. Grimsdyke," I began, intensely conscious that all eyes were on me. Me, the ugly ducking with the coke-bottle-bottom glasses and the club foot. "A radian is the length of the radius of a circle mapped out along the circumference. The length of the circumference is two times pi radians."

    "Yes, Hobart," Mr. Grimsdyke said gently. Actually I kind of like Mr. Grimsdyke. He taught me how to do logarithms in my head, like Gauss. That was fun.

    And then there's chess club. I do ok with the chess-nuts. We're a team; we play six other schools in a league. Five other guys and me are on our school team. I play second board. Zefram plays first board. He's way better than anybody else. He's kinda freaky. Doesn't talk much, just twirls his hair around his finger and rocks back and forth in his chair. He plays 'positional', beats the tar out of all of us.

    Now, here's why I go to school. It's the only reason I put up with all the other crap. There's this girl, see. Pamela. Pamela Fremont. She's a first-year. Just joined the chess club. She's not too bad, plays fourth board already, and she's really keen on it. Plays Sicilian, super feisty. I play her sometimes. But what I really like is watching her! I sit where I can watch her play someone else. I sit where I can watch her, secretly, under the table. No one else knows, but, ... O Gawd, if I only could touch ... her ... ankle.

  9. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:29
    entry 8:

    Cat’s eyes

    Fluffy woke fat,
    purring, fully contented,
    scrumptious were those pears last night, in his belly now fermented.
    ‘Cider drunk’ and whimsical
    his mission crystal clear,
    he’d fill the world with happiness and spread some feline cheer.
    Briefcase filled with tuna rolls
    sardines in his hat,
    he set off by yak for Timbuktu a most determined cat.

    “Drunken cat get out my way!”
    yelled a driver of errant rage,
    no happiness in his Ford Capri (may as well have been his cage).
    Fluffy offered him a tasty fish,
    the driver was astounded
    and as the yak slowly lumbered on, remained happily confounded.
    Suddenly a passing judge
    wet from rain and soggy,
    wondered what the secret was of this lawless portly moggy.

    “Happiness,” the cat meowed
    “is eating fish and sleeping,
    life without is just a smoke alarm that throughout the night keeps beeping.”
    The soggy judge had seen the light
    and binned his robes and wig,
    from now he’d do the things he loved (went home to hug his pig).
    The yak arrived at Regent’s Park
    where crowds were wild and cheering,
    his fame had spread far and wide and they’d gathered round to hear him.

    The cat meowed and said his piece
    his words profound not sappy
    and leaving them to venture on, not one was left unhappy.
    Fluffy acquired Facebook friends
    was quite the hit on Twitter,
    fans even sent him catnip treats (and a ton of kitty litter).
    The moral of this story,
    live a life that’s full not gappy,
    be more like the cat my friends, do the things that make you happy.
  10. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:34
    entry 9:

    Secret service man
    When he was commanded to see the Big Man pride grew warmth within his body. At long last he had been seen, his duty had not went unnoticed. He felt great, maximum potential in his finger-tips.
    When he heard the words coming from the lips of the Big Man the warmth and sunshine vanished into a grey and cold fog. His body would not betray him outwardly, but in the inside a wave of black cancelled out anything positive.
    When he thought about the command he had been given, when he began to plan, to consider and to ponder the black slowly was broken up by a purple line he “saw” extending from the fringe, enabling him to lift himself out of the despairing bottomless nothing into which his soul had been converted.
    When he met the man he was ordered to kill, he saw a creepy self-centered slimy snail. Shudders ran up and down his spine and the purple line grew filament by filament to become a strong tow.
    When he realized that he could sabotage the helicopter in which the VIP would fly to the airport, and it dawned to him, that he wouldn’t needed to be on board the sun rose in his soul and a happy firework greeted the horizon.
    When he actually performed the sabotage, sweat formed on each part of his body. He couldn’t help to think about his comrades who would be on the craft doing escort duty for that miserable creep. The black void, which he knew already opened up again, and the thickness of that purple tow dwindled… thinking about the Big Man didn’t help, since the cold threatening fog came back. He concentrated on that purple filament and performed the necessary task, which would cause the helicopter to crash some minutes after the start.
    When he returned to the briefing room the fireworks had started again in his soul, lightness and freedom came in as a bonus and nearly made him giggle.
    When he heard that BOB had had a small accident, which meant that he himself had to take up Bob’s place in the VIP’s escort all the black and grey and cold and fogginess came back, the purple thread which he had learned to know as survival thread transformed into a wide, diabolical grin.
    When he boarded the fated helicopter all he felt was a cold numbness, his training had taken over the body wich felt totally detached and like a marionette.
  11. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:35
    Entry 10:

    Last Diary

    Monday 13th May 2233

    No one is here to sing Happy Birthday to me. I sit alone at a 40-year-old super computer, speaking to this diary. Me, the loneliest, possibly the only, human still alive on a paradise like Earth. Truly Biblical in its Garden of Eden tranquillity. Tranquillity, ha, that’s a joke isn’t it – it is tranquil because we destroyed ourselves and every other living creature on this beautiful prison.

    Today I celebrate my 185th birthday! Go me, a fading mind in a decaying body, more metal now than skin and bone, and even that’s rusting. Animal calls, once prevalent, are now virtually unheard of on land, though the rivers still teem with fish, and Alexa XII just caught the largest salmon ever for my lunch.

    Life on Earth ended, without anyone realising it, on the 20th August 1977, with the launch of the space probe, Voyager 2. Nothing, beyond the wiki-page, is now known, however, long story short, it took photographs of planets and moons, left our solar system and seemingly disappeared. Some 30 odd years later it reappeared, travelling back to the Earth from the opposite direction to the one anticipated. Scientists likened the solar system to a huge glass bottle, we just cannot see the curves or the glass – or something like that, anyway. They think it went around the glass and returned to where it originated.

    It came close to landing, burning up at final re-entry, on the 20th August 2047. I’ve since watched the videos on You-Tube, it was spectacular. At that time, I was a day-old foetus, waiting for my birth. I was not the last human born, as I arrived a week before my due date. I am aware of several thousand-people born after me, Humankind kept detailed records by this point. I appear, though, to now be the last one left.

    It wasn’t immediately obvious that life on Earth was doomed. Millions of babies were born each day, just no newly conceived life following the fireball in the sky. Rats were the first thing they noticed, normally amazing at reproducing, they initially gave birth to their normal healthy litters, but no more came. Scientists and drug companies were at a loss as to what to test on then, and the streets got dirtier! Ironically, the rats were taking litter for their nests, so actually cleaned the city streets.

    At first there was no panic, concern of course, but no panic. “Science will fix it” became the buzz phrase (again, for me this is all from history blogs). The planet saw an unprecedented surge in team working. Every country put down their guns, briefly, working together to solve the conundrum of the steadily decreasing population.

    By the time I came of age, it was all about living to extremes, so people gave up on science and did whatever they wanted. Religions tried to keep people under control with their stories of the Devil and Hell. The hedonism only reverted to “Keep us alive!!!” when the first of the super-rich dropped dead without heirs. The science race began again, this time it was all about Artificial Intelligence, robots to help keep us alive, androids to serve the growing elderly population. There weren’t any young humans to train, so we created an army of helpers. The scientists worked on enhancing our bodies, prolonging life expectancies, even as our numbers diminished.

    I was a farmer for decades, which became a simpler job with no animals to care for, and then my job changed to training robots to do my work for when I became incapable. I know that there were people teaching the robots worldwide. We had the impetus to do it well, so the mechanical people are perfect. They are truly kind and considerate, behaving within Asimov’s Laws, showing no signs of planning to overthrow Humankind, though they can wait me out, it shouldn’t be too long now!

    So here I sit, in a warm, comfortable, beautifully presented home, with amazing food, fine clothes, intelligent (if not Human) company, but oh so alone. Alexa XII is great company, someone’s idea of the perfect woman. Alex XII is around here somewhere, he keeps my home running smoothly, a truly chiselled looking man-bot, the perfect alpha-male. Though they both sound and act like robots. No-one wanted them appearing too Human at their creation, but I do now. I need to talk to someone that understands the loneliness I am feeling.

    Why couldn’t I have died with my parents, or with my older sister. Why was I left until last? The final Human.

    Must pull myself together.

    I need Human contact. I’ll send out another message. A worldwide SOS, surely someone somewhere will reply to me.
  12. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:39
    Entry 11:

    An Empty Paper Cup

    Somehow Clive had made it to heaven.
    A slow moving queue had formed ahead of him, snaking its way contentedly from the high pearly gates and down through a series of raised ornamental gardens. The air was filled with the heavy scent of lavender and Sweet William while birds of unknown origin and flamboyant plumage welcomed them all with their song. For the first time in his life Clive waited patiently in line, a little fearful perhaps he wasn’t there by personal merit, but by some divine oversight. That’s not to say Clive had been a bad person. In a life that spanned eighty three years and seventy two days he had, for the most part, been pretty well behaved. There had of course been one or two shenanigans in his teenage years, culminating in that whole ‘exploding caravan’ incident that left an enduring scratch on his criminal record, scuppering his plans for a career in the FBI. But that aside, Clive had matured nicely like a well-developed cheese; characterful undertones of love and kindness, with a pleasing nutty finish.
    Long before reaching the heavenly gates, news had made it down the line of a large sign waiting there to greet them.
    The emotion with which you enter will be in your heart for all eternity.
    “What does it mean?” asked the man, directly in front of Clive in the queue, nervously readjusting his salmon necktie.
    “I think we only get to take in one emotion with us.”
    “And what, that’s it for all eternity?!”
    “I believe so.”
    “Oh man.” He began to overtighten his necktie, to the point where he risked cutting off circulation to his ears, if such a thing were of significance to the recently deceased. “I’m so stressed right now.”
    Clive on the other hand found himself feeling inexplicably calm. Surely it was a no-brainer? ‘Happiness’ would be the emotion he would take in with him. He would enter peacefully with thoughts of his wife and flourishing family and spend all eternity feeling delightfully happy…
    No, wait a minute, Clive thought suddenly. Did he really want to spend all eternity in a permanent state of happiness? Wasn’t true happiness only fully appreciated if it followed a period of sadness? Would not a constant state of happiness negate the very essence of what it meant to be happy? Would it not become tiresome, humdrum even? He also couldn’t help but think of that strange multi-coated man he’d often see on the bus, lost in a world of his own, laughing constantly at the world around him. Clive remembered the time he’d observed him grinning widely at an empty paper cup; cradled loving on his lap like a mother might a child, or a gambler a winning lottery ticket. No, Clive didn’t want to enter heaven like that. Don’t panic, he told himself, still plenty of time to decide. Happiness can be your default emotion, while you think of a better one.
    He took a long slow breath, and scanned the assortment of faces behind him in the queue, searching for visual clues. His search was a fruitless one, save for the woman in the flowery pyjamas who threw him a look of disdain. (He discounted it as an emotion worthy of consideration). Closing his eyes, memories of childhood parties came to mind, that wondrous excitement of opening a present, ripping off some shiny wrapping paper and discovering the must have toy of the moment.
    "Surprise!” he said aloud, startling the man in the necktie, ‘surprise’ was an emotion surely that rivalled happiness.
    The man frowned heavily. “You want to spend, like forever, in a perpetual state of surprise? Man, you’re crazy.”
    Red cheeked, Clive acknowledged that probably wasn’t the way to go. Imagine the horror he conceded of being surprised by everything. - “OMG an angel! OMG a harp! OMG a bloody sandal!” A sickly feeling began to take hold in his stomach. Think Clive, think.
    By the time he reached the high white gates and prepared to enter, Clive was no longer the calm and contented soul that had joined the back of the queue. Like many lost souls before him Clive had overthought what had been asked of him. He had forgotten what truly mattered, what had brought him there in the first place. Overwhelmed by doubt, he was to spend all eternity in a state of emotional confusion.
    Heaven and hell it transpired shared an entrance.
  13. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:41
    entry 12:

    Lady Rancible's Desperation

    copyrightby the author

    "Colonel, how good of you to come," Lady Rancible said, "and on such short notice. I am obliged."

    "Madam," the colonel replied.

    "Do sit down," Lady Rancible said, "I'm afraid what I have to say is rather pressing."

    He sat.

    "You no doubt remember the horse show of last autumn," she said.

    He nodded.

    "Well...," she continued as if she had been mulling over what she would say for a long time and still not decided quite how to broach the subject. "You might also remember that pasha who took such a keen interest in one of our Arabians."

    He nodded.

    "That one was always quite spirited, but Celia rode particularly smartly that day. He came calling several times after that again. The pasha, I mean."

    Lady Rancible paused and fanned herself in the heat. "Well, ... I thought he was keen on the Arabian. Kept insisting on seeing Celia ride. They went out together several times into the back country, gone for hours. I thought nothing of it, as James was with them."

    He nodded.

    "I've had a confidence I dare not reveal in detail," she was getting agitated now. "It appears that it was not the Arabian, but Celia he was interested in. -- IS interested in," she added hastily.

    She fanned herself more vigorously.

    "I do believe he intends to carry her off," Lady Rancible said. "These heathen princes have their way with people out here. We are not back in Blighty, you know!"

    Lady Rancible rang the bell.

    "If I were stronger, I would take her back on the next steamer, but Dr. Sloughbridge says I daren't. The strain would kill me."

    The servant appeared silently, a dark, slender man in a turban, and waited.

    "Singh," she said, "my smelling salts."

    The man nodded and withdrew as silently as he had come.

    "Celia is barely 14, but the customs here are different. If that pasha should come back with his minions, I could not prevent the worst. Oh, I am so afraid!"

    He nodded.

    "He has a harem," Lady Rancible said, "he would have his way with her, a mere dalliance for him, then deposit her with all the others he keeps."

    The servant returned with a phial. Lady Rancible opened it and sniffed at it.

    "Thank you, Singh, that will be all. Now, Colonel, you must be wondering what all this has to do with you."

    He studied her steadily.

    "We will get to that. But first, I must tell you, engineers were here last week inspecting the mine. It has not been worked for ten years, not since Henry passed away. I have their report on my desk. New and better pumps have been made since then; the mine could be salvaged now, and worked again. There is a fortune buried there, but it's been under water these ten years. Think of it! It was producing well over a million ounces when it was abandoned. Can't you see? I can't let it fall into the hands of some pagan potentate. But it would if that pasha should take it into his head to force a marriage."

    She paused and clutched the phial firmly, as if she would crush it.

    "Celia is so young, and completely innocent. I am old. Old and sick. I shan't live to see the mine worked again. It will take at least two years to get it profitable."

    Beads of sweat ran down her forehead; and she fanned herself more vigorously than before.

    "I am desperate, Colonel. I have no one else to turn to. I know you to be a man of honor. It must have been terrible for you these two years -- Margaret disappearing like that..."

    He winced, ever so slightly.

    "Lady Rancible, ..." he began.

    "No, Colonel, hear me out, I beg of you. You have shown unswerving devotion to her memory. She was a fine and a good woman. But one must face facts. And two years is all anyone is obliged to grieve. Now, listen. Celia is not unpleasant to look at. She is bright and clever, and heir to a silver mine. I am proposing to give her to you in matrimony. I know you to be a decent man. She would, of course, live in this house until she came of age. But she would be safe from that mad pasha. And the mine would be safe; it would pass to your capable stewardship. I will see to that." She looked at him pleadingly. "You are my last hope. Celia's only hope. I know it is a dastardly proposal, but we're not in Blighty. O, do say 'yes'. I am desperate!"

    "Lady Rancible," he stammered, "I ... Margaret ... telegram yesterday. Thrown from a horse, ... amnesia... hospital in Rangoon. Remembers everything. I shall go, tomorrow..."
  14. SubscriberPonderable
    22 Apr '05
    05 Mar '18 12:47
    Start voting now!

    * I removed authoring notes. This doesn't mean that the texts are coyright free! I will acknowledge all authors who made a Copyright notice after voting!

    * In some instances I needed to make some small edity due tzo formatting issues when copying the entries. If anything was destroyed it is my responsibility. Authors please check carefully if it is the case with your entry. I would resubmit entries if aynthing bad turned up.

    * Even though I did regulryly inspect my spam Folder Iif I omitted your entry plaese Alarm em and resubmit your entry, which i would add at the end if convinced it was my fault 😉

    * I sincerely hope that you all enjoy the contest.
  15. Gothenburg
    11 Mar '16
    05 Mar '18 17:31
    Very good entries, difficult to choose - all about emotions - I wish I could vote for more than three but:
    1) Last Diary
    2) An Empty Paper Cup
    3) Lady Rancible's Desperation
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