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  1. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    01 Jul '14 23:411 edit
    The entries are in!

    Please vote by PM only, as I want the votes to be solely based on the merit of the writing, and not based on how others have voted.

    I will post in this thread as votes come in. Votes are due by 12 AM on July 16th, GMT-6 time. When you vote, please rank the pieces from #1 (best) to #4 (worst).

    5 points are awarded for a 1st place vote; 3 for a second place vote; and 1 for a 3rd place vote.

    Authors can vote, but they get no points for votes for their own piece.

    And now, without further ado, the pieces.
  2. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    01 Jul '14 23:42
    ENTRY ONE

    Dialogue

    “You know that I can tell you a lot about yourself?”
    I didn’t, I wanted to be left alone after many hours of a hard drive.
    “I have the gift.”
    He looked as if he could have some talent; the gift of hygiene was not one of those.
    “I read people’s souls. And I can tell you things which will surprise you.”
    The man won’t let off I expected but did not reply and waited for my burger to arrive.
    “People don’t believe me first, I know, and some think that nice clothes and a good haircut make a man.”
    He did read me at this point. I took another sip from my beer, hoping that he would stop.
    “The gift is also a burden you know.”
    How long would the guy drone on without reply was the only real question.
    “It is very difficult to tell people a truth they don’t want to hear.”
    I doubted that this guy knew anything.
    “You are a lawyer.”
    So the guessing game had begun. But a guy with a smart suit arriving at a cheap motel in a nice BMW could be anything, but lawyer is as good a guess as business man.
    “You look for an heir”
    So the guy had read a lot of cheap novels.
    “There is some money involved, but they keep you at small flame due to the curious conditions set down in the testament.”
    He was also in the course of setting up a cheap novel himself.
    “You are not happy with that job and feel like you have been chosen because your colleagues team up against you.”
    I needed a big gulp of my beer after that. So they had set up a trap, want a big laugh over me.
    ”I can see the anger even without my gift.”
    I turned to face the stranger to stare him down.
    “If you asked me if you could buy me a beer you would feel better.”
    “So can I buy you a beer?” I was about to lose patience, and my question was pure sarcasm.
    “No. I only drink water, thank you for asking.”
    I was taken aback with myself. The guy was probably an actor who was worth his money.
    “You thought I was an alcoholic or a psychotic, a tramp at least, but now you think I am acting.”
    What did that guy really want from me?
    “I told you I was a gifted person, and am forced to tell people the truth.”
    My burger arrived so I had the opportunity to occupy myself differently.
    “Lawyering wasn’t your first choice but you thought it was a profitable occupation.”
    It was true that I had dreamed to major in English, but money has to be earned somehow.
    “You will never be a good or a happy lawyer; even if you drive a BMW.”
    Indeed I wouldn’t ask myself where the money for next month rent would come from.
    “Looking for heirs is rather the occupation for a private eye, don’t you think?”
    That was what I had said to Peter, my boss.
    “You are not really convinced that the deceased would set such strange conditions as your boss told you.”
    A lot of strange things went on in the firm for sure. But they paid well.
    “But as long as your whole mind is on money your soul can’t rest.”
    Rest? Did that guy tell me I would die?
    “You should try to exercise your constitutional right to pursue your happiness.”
    Is there any happiness if you have to calculate each day how to survive?
    “That is the whole point. You feel being pulled in two directions.”
    But one can’t avoid this, can one?
    “Yes you can, the question is do you want?”
    I would if I could.

    “Jim is already on tour it seems” Peters’ sarcastic voice, I had messed up.
    “I have taken a decision. I won’t go hunting for this heir. The action we take is to send a private eye.” I decided to take the bull by the horns. Peter looked surprised, so I made my point clear: “I think you are trying to fool me. And if you can fool me anybody can, and I am of no use to the firm.” Now the big bang would come and cost me my job. But Peter grinned and said: “Who would have thought that you have it into yourself? Well done, Jim.
  3. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    01 Jul '14 23:43
    ENTRY TWO

    Aisle Three

    I really only stopped at the store to get cat treats. Harry just wasn’t going to let me back in the house if I didn’t have some sort of bribe to make up for my leaving him home alone all day. It didn’t matter that if he got any fatter he’d look like a hairy pumpkin. He wanted his nummies. It was the least I could do.
    So, I went to the nearest grocery store on my way home. I got his nummies and some tortillas and other groceries for me. It really was an uneventful trip, and my mind wasn’t even entirely on task. There was someone ahead of me in aisle three, and then it was my turn. The guy rang me up, and the girl bagged my groceries, and I was pretty sure that this would be like the thousands of other times I’d been grocery shopping. Except it wasn’t.
    As soon as the guy left, while the girl was still bagging, she said to me in an angry tone “He always leaves the lights on.” I assumed she was talking about the cashier who had briefly walked away, but he hadn’t left any light on. He turned off the aisle light before he stepped away. It seemed a really odd first sentence to say to someone. Then she continued.
    “He doesn’t even care. He’s only paying half the rent, but the electric bill is so high that he should have to pay more. I told him that, but he just laughs at me.”f
    I started to suspect that she wasn’t talking about the cashier. I made the random sounds of commiseration that seemed appropriate, but I really just wanted my groceries. She continued with more urgency and more angst.
    “He never cleans! He never does his share! I can’t take it any more! I called my mother and told her to talk to him, but it didn’t do any good!” She lightly grabbed my arm at this point. It was as if she believed I knew her and the other people involved, but I was fairly sure that I’d never seen her before in my life. I strung together random words of sympathy and encouragement as I tried to remove my arm from her grip, wondering why no one else noticed what was going on.
    Finally she got to her climax. “I called my father, and he’s gonna send me a plane ticket and get me out of this place!” I agreed that it was a good plan as a last resort, and extricated myself from her presence and left as the cashier finally wandered back to his post. He still ignored the whole thing. It made me wonder if she was usually like that or if he thought I knew her, even though we had not greeted each other at any point.
    I was quite happy to leave the store and put this odd episode behind me, thinking it was a one-time event. Silly me.
  4. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    01 Jul '14 23:43
    ENTRY THREE

    Vacation

    The sun goes up and bathes the sea with all kinds of colors.
    The sea gently laps on the sandy beach; the waves create a nice background noise.
    The palms are swaying in an ever so slight breeze.
    Birds greet the new day with many voices singing about the joy of being alive.
    A small hut on the beach, covered with palm leaves has been enough shelter for the night.

    “This is paradise”
    “It is about as near as we can come to it”
    “Do you need to disagree as first thing in the morning?”
    “No. I just made intensified the joy, by clarifying that this is exceptional in the real world, which we can’t deny existing”
    “You did not ‘intensify joy’ you put out the joy we had by beginning an argument.”
    “This was as paradisiac as could reasonably be expected”
    “This still is, we have just a little snake between us”
    “Where is it?”
    “You silly ass you are the worm crawling into my happiness.”
    “Now you are arguing”
    “I don’t. I just tell you how I feel about your bloody over correctness”
    “So what does constitute an argument in your eyes?”

    A young lady was running along the water line, crying.
    Suddenly she stopped and turned.

    “Hey look here!”

    A young man joined the woman, watching in the direction here arm pointed, and then he set off into the ocean.
    “I told you it was only an approximation of paradise” he said, throwing down their suitcase, they had foolishly forgotten on the beach the night before…
  5. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
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    01 Jul '14 23:44
    ENTRY FOUR

    "I had the strangest day..."

    Well, actually, it started with an even stranger night. Mind you, I didn't plan it that way, it just sort of usurped the normality I had grown accustomed to. I had been listening to The Doors' Strange Days--you know, "strange days have found us..." and thinking to myself, "how many times does it take to ...?" when there was a loud bang next door. At first, I couldn't be sure whether it was a gunshot or the Putfarkin's dog barking again because of the music--I mean, because of the music I couldn't be sure, not that Putfarkin's dog barks because of the music. Putfarkin's dog barks at nothing. Then there was scream and a thud, as of a body hitting the floor. I thought to myself, "the last 14 times they did that and I called the police, it turned out they were just horsing around and I looked pretty silly." I didn't think the police would fall for it a 15th time; they had me down on their list of midnight hoax callers already. But then, I thought, if someone really did want to murder a spouse, what better way to set it up? Pretend you were a Richard-and-Liz sort of tempestuous pair, stage fake fights until the neighbors just thought it was 'normal'--and then, one night, you really do pop your wife off. I mean, one could get away with murder!

    I lay there on the bed, The Doors droning on, "with a little girl in a Hollywood bungalow..." The Wilbertsons usually turned on the tv after these jousting matches, and so it was last night: about 15 minutes later. All perfectly normal, for our tenement block anyway.

    At 1:15 a.m. Mr. Sweeney would come home, utterly pickled, his boots clumping on the wooden stairs and his key scratching around the keyhole until he got it the right way round and properly inserted. The door would bang against the sideboard stupidly placed where the door would bang it, and his wife, a grizzled nag, would greet him with, "wipe yer boots, you sot!" To which he would retort, "Hold yor tongue, witch!" Whereupon they would fall to bickering about something trivial and end up creaking the bed tempestuously until Mr. Sweeney dropped, exhausted, into a snoring stupor. Mrs. Sweeney would then get up and take a bath, the water gurgling and whistling along the pipes on our common floor, singing softly to herself in a mournful lilt which I took to be Gaelic.

    I would finally get some peace and quiet about 2 a.m. Normally.

    Not last night. Something strange happened to disturb my sleep: an insistent pounding coming from the floor beneath ours. Ours being shared by myself (a lone lodger), the Sweeneys, and the Wilbertsons. The floor below was occupied by three families in theory. In actual fact it may have been 23 families; it was hard to tell. They had moved in not all at once, but in drips and drabs at first, then in droves. Foreigners. Not like us. Not like us at all. I don't know how many fathers and mothers and aunts and uncles and grandfolks and cousins--one simply couldn't keep track. One never even saw their women folk--kept shut inside mostly. Very strange.

    As I was saying, a pounding came up through the floorboards from their group of apartments. An insistent pounding on their ceiling, our floor. I rolled over and tried to bury my head in the pillows. To no avail. The wretched pounding continued. I looked, bleary-eyed, at my alarm clock: 4:13 a.m.

    Indistinct scuffling noises began to emanate from the apartment next door, the Wilbertsons'. Eventually, the pounding from below and the scuffling from next door merged into a troubled torpor teaming with dreams full of intense and intricate details which, however, vanished instantly upon being startled awake--this morning. The start of a strange day.

    As I later learned at the police station, it had been the Sweeneys who had finally called the police. The Turks or the Albanians or whoever the hell they are wouldn't have dared to--probably on account of too many unregistered aliens on the premises. It was they who had noticed blood seeping through their ceiling and started pounding in the wee hours. And now the police wanted to know whether I had noticed anything strange during the night. I hardly know what to say.
  6. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
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    01 Jul '14 23:44
    *END OF ENTRIES*
  7. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
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    02 Jul '14 04:52
    2 speed readers have already cast their votes. Let's see if we can get lots of voters on these pieces. There aren't many to read, so that's not a valid excuse!
  8. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    02 Jul '14 07:24
    Now 3 votes. Keep 'em coming.
  9. SubscriberPonderable
    chemist
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    03 Jul '14 16:00
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    Now 3 votes. Keep 'em coming.
    ...and keep the thread on the top.
  10. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    03 Jul '14 16:14
    I got another ¼ of a vote. Working on getting the rest of it.
  11. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    03 Jul '14 16:27
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    I got another ¼ of a vote. Working on getting the rest of it.
    got it
  12. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    04 Jul '14 07:11
    5 votes in now. At this rate, we will have 20 by the 16th.
  13. Joined
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    04 Jul '14 20:19
    Originally posted by BigDoggProblem
    5 votes in now. At this rate, we will have 20 by the 16th.
    Any more votes?
  14. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    05 Jul '14 00:39
    Originally posted by lolof
    Any more votes?
    Yes. One more. 6 total now.
  15. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
    The Advanced Mind
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    05 Jul '14 01:01
    Now 7 votes.
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