Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! discussion

Weekly Short Story Contests > Week 288 (November 29-December 5). Stories. Topic: Fireworks.

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message 1: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments You have until the 5th of December to post a story, and December 6-7, we’ll vote for which one we thought was best.

Please post directly into the topic and not a link. Please don’t use a story previously used in this group.

Your story should be between 300 and 3,500 words long.

REMEMBER! A short story is not merely a scene. It must have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

This week’s topic is: Fireworks

The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject but it must relate to the topic somehow.

Have fun!

Thanks to Anne for suggesting the topic!

message 2: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments I'm going to take a break from the sci-fi/horror/fantasy genre and instead venture into modern day drama with this one, something I haven't done for a while now. This story will be called "Football Sucks" and it goes like this:


Irwin Gladden, New Mayor of Paulson City
Fred Jacobs, Irwin’s Bodyguard
Random Protesters

PROMPT CONFORMITY: Protesters set off fireworks as part of their demonstration.

SYNOPSIS: As Irwin’s first official act as mayor, he plans on balancing the city budget by converting a taxpayer-funded football stadium into the city’s largest public library. He even goes so far as to taunt opponents of this measure by saying, “Football sucks”. The morning after making this announcement, Irwin has an army of protesters outside his political headquarters and things don’t get better when Fred enters the room dizzy and bleeding.

message 3: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments This story is a great example of why I love writing short stories to prompts. It is always fun when you start writing a story, not really sure where you are going with it, and then the story kind of takes shape around you (almost as though it is writing itself). It was lots of fun to write. I hope everyone enjoys it and that I look forward to your feedback.

Title: The Voice
Author: James J Meadows III
Genre: Fantasy
Words: 2251

Some people might have felt sorrow. I did not. Looking out from the cavern’s mouth, high upon the ancient mountainside, I felt only anger as I surveyed the distance houses sprawled along the bank of an ancient lake, whose depths held mysteries mankind had yet to penetrate. What secrets lay concealed within its gloomy waters; what treasures waited hidden beneath its murky waves; what dangers lurked just below the glassy surface of the seemingly placid exterior, few speculated.

Most people were content to merely throw their nets in after the fish or sail their boats across to distant towns. Or, on nights like tonight, they were content to float their boats lazily upon the waters shooting fireworks high into the air for the amusement of children, who, somewhere in the distance, raced to and fro through the city streets shouting in excitement. This was my home. Once I had been one of those children. But I was not a girl anymore. I was a woman. And I would be even more than that when I returned.

“They look happy don’t they,” hissed a dark voice beside my ear. “Look how they laugh and play, oblivious to all except the shallow pleasure of the flashing lights distracting their puny minds from the darkness lingering within themselves.”

A chill rose up my spine. Not so much because of their words. Rather because of the icy tone of the voice speaking them. Hairs rose upon my arms, silent monoliths perched atop hills of goose-pimples, forming a checkered landscape from the tips of my wrists to the tops of my shoulders. I didn’t turn to look at the speaker. I knew there would be nothing there. The stories said so.

“They are fools,” I said, trying to maintain my wits. “They revel in ignorance, abandoning curiosity, meaning and the greater mysteries of life to seek safety within delusion’s shallow folds. I seek more.”

“You seek me,” the voice stated.

I said nothing. My heart was beating so hard and fast, I thought my chest would burst. I didn’t trust my voice to remain strong.

“Silence?” it hissed. “Do you give me no answer?”

“I seek that which you can give me,” I said finding my voice at last.

“Is that why you climbed the mountain?” The voice asked. “Is that why you risked your life to ascend the steep slopes? Is that why you ran away?”

“I didn’t run away,” I snapped, turning to face the open air beside me. Upon seeing nothing there, I turned to face the darkness of the cave behind me. “I’m not running away from anything! I’m running toward everything!”

“Oh are you?” the words now came from behind me, drifting lazily to my ears from the open air beyond the cliff face. “Why must it be so? Money, family, homes, spouses, and security all lay below you. Don’t you want any of those? What more does a young woman desire than the town can give her?”

“Answers,” I said, whirling around as quickly as I could to face the direction from which the voice echoed.

I glanced all around me, desperate to see something. The voice’s every word, slithering through the gloom, sent shivers through my body, forcing my knees to buckle and quiver until I could hardly stand upon my already weary feet. If I could just see the source of the mysterious voice, I was sure I could find my courage. No source appeared, however. Only darkness greeted my gaze wherever I turned.

“Why should you want answers?” the voice asked. “Are there really questions so enchanting that they are worth giving up all to know? Should you really be asking such questions at all?”

“People tell me I shouldn’t,” I answered, somewhat sheepishly. “They say some questions shouldn’t be answered. They tell me I should remain content to be who and what I am, content to know who and what I know, to be like a child who refuses to open their closet door for fear of the monster which may lurk within.”

My voice grew strong as I finished the last sentence. Years of anger and frustration, of repression and revulsion burst from me as I yelled my words in defiance from the mountaintop. Fireworks added strength to my words as they detonated in a chorus of explosions, emphasizing each furious outburst erupting from the volcano of my lips, scorching the open air with my wrath.

“But I won’t do it! I’m not going to sit and bury my head in the sand! I refuse to spend my years slaving away like a simpleton, surrounded by ignorant buffoons lacking the courage to open their eyes and see the reality waiting on the other side of their shut-up lids! Too long have I lived in a greedy world, who hordes her cryptic secrets like an insatiable miser clinging to his coins lest the least of them touch the starving masses banging upon his door. I want to know those secrets! I want to see the sparkling jewels of truth displayed before me! I want to feel them, to soak in their glory, to bathe in their riches! I don’t want to be the world’s slave! I want to be…”

Here I paused as I realized the words I was about to utter.

“You want to be its master!” The voice finished the words for me.

There was a twinge of delight in the voice which made me even more uncomfortable. I could only nod my head in affirmation, wishing more than anything else in the world at that moment, that I had kept my mouth shut; wishing that I had listened to all the people who told me to be content; wishing I were anywhere right now, other than there.

“Of course you do!” The voice’s hiss turned into a sort of coo. The gently spoken words only made the voice creepier and the chills sharper. “Why shouldn’t you? Why would anyone want to stay enslaved to the lies and laws of a cruel master like ignorance when they can weld the truth like a scepter over the head of that ancient slave driver? I can help!”

My growing apprehension told me I should shut-up and say no more. Yet the pride and selfish-desire, which had driven me with tattered skirt and battered tresses through the dark forests and up the steep slopes of this mountain; which had compelled me to trek for days without food or water and pushed me onward through cuts, tears, and bloody knees to ascend to the mysterious cave where no sane villager would go; refused to let me stay quite. My eyes narrowed and my brow furled with unwavering determination as I uttered one word.


The sound of the distant fireworks faded as an eerie silence engulfed me. A blaze of light, clear and bright as the noonday sun, pierced the night air. It was coming from the cave behind me. I spun around to see a sight beyond comprehension.

Row upon row of books stretched before me in an endless line reaching toward infinity. Like silvery monoliths glistening beneath the glow of a moonless sky, they basked in the illumination of a light lacking any visible source. Each tome seemed to call to me, whispering of secrets and powers long forgotten over the ancient eons of man. I found myself drifting toward them almost unconsciously as their magnetic allure drew me into their folds.

"Go on,” the voice cooed. “Take them!”

A warning somewhere within the distant recesses of my mind tried to still my footsteps.

“What are they?” I managed to ask, fighting to free myself from whatever hypnotic pull the vision had over me.

“Knowledge,” came the quiet whisper. “All the knowledge of all the ages; secrets of this world and every world; answers to every question ever asked and even those not asked, since the dawn of this time and every time; all await you within. You need merely to touch them.”

I drifted forward. Cries from the depth of my mind pleaded caution, telling me to go back, begging me with every footfall to not to take another step. Their silent call touched my dazed mind. I took my eyes off the books and turned away from the cave gazing into the open air, trying to clear my thoughts. The fireworks were still going off above the far away village. Their explosions came in quick pairs, the faint cracks taking the shape of harsh words echoing their gentle entreaty, the first pop saying “come” and the second “back”.

“Take them,” the voice hissed again.

Images swam before my eyes, ripples of light and color forming visions of glory and grandeur. I saw myself towering over the children on the school grounds who once spat upon me and mocked my bookish nature. Like a colossus I rose over the teachers who once cursed me for questioning them and berated my arrogance. No more would I be the foolish girl who didn’t know her place in the world, no longer would I be the silly woman cursed with the plague of too much questioning and not enough obeying! I would have freedom! I would have power! I would have everything!

As though responding to these images, a distant part of my brain fought to recall memories of playing with friends, the warmth of kind strangers, and the feel of my parents’ love. These visions sought to take shape in my mind, yet they paled before the nightmarish memories of the insults, jeers, scorn, and abuse suffered at the hands of numerous hateful antagonists.

“They should be punished,” the voice cooed, as though sensing my thoughts. “I know the pain they caused you. I know what it’s like to suffer slander and debasement from the spiteful masses who lack your curiosity; who want to keep you dumb and powerless. You don’t have to endure them any longer. Vengeance is within your grasp. All the secrets, all the knowledge, all the power they are too weak to seek is right before you. All you have to do is grab it!”

I found my head turning back toward the cave and my body drifting through the opening. Again the warnings sounded but I silenced them. There would be no turning back, there would be no more stalling! I wanted this knowledge! I needed this knowledge! I needed it now!

As though in answer to these thoughts, a book lifted on its own from the shelf and floated toward me. I drifted toward it, sinking deeply into the light until I stood just inches from its gleaming cover. It opened before my gaze, revealing words and letters written in some foreign alphabet whose bizarre markings assumed unfamiliar crooked shapes like stick figures penned in golden ink against the silver leaflets. Somehow I knew their meanings. The words shaped themselves into letters, which seem to float off the page and into my mind.

Soon other books on other shelves were drifting off their cases and spiraling around me. The pages flipped and their words lifted, flowing like water through me. All the secrets of the universe; the secrets of the universes before the universe; all the mysteries of space and time and mysteries beyond space and time; all the wisdom and knowledge of ancient races, current races, and races yet to come; all coalesced inside me, melding with me, assimilating into my consciousness in a whirl of knowledge, insights, and revelations. The words soaked into my body.

Or so I thought. A sudden and horrifying realization occurred to me. I didn’t have a body.

message 4: by James (new)

James Meadows | 146 comments A shout of surprise arose from me, echoing down the long hallway, though I no longer possessed a body to give such a shout. I had no feeling, no touch, and yet I could see all around me and hear all around me. Little more than a disembodied floating voice, I could speak, think, and observe my surroundings. What I couldn’t do, however, was move. I seemed to have melded into the light, a captive imprisoned within its glow.

As I processed this revelation, I saw my body standing outside the cave staring at me. Or, at least, what had once been my body. It wasn’t my body anymore. A small, cruel smile spread across the lips and a wicked gleam glittered in the eyes, which had once both been my own.

“You cannot imagine you how many centuries I have waited for someone to take my place and release me to travel the world once more,” a cruel icy voice hissed from my lips. “And I cannot tell you how many centuries you shall have to wait before someone is foolish enough to take your place and release your back into the world. If it is any consolation, there is one thing I can tell you. The vengeance you dreamed of in your images and retributions you longed to inflict upon those who wronged you, shall come to pass. It won’t exactly be you who inflicts them. But they shall come to pass nonetheless. May you enjoy your newfound knowledge.”

With these words, I watched my body turn and start back toward the town, resting on the shore of a lake whose dark secrets, I now knew only too well. From within my prison, I watched helplessly as the creature possessing my body advanced toward the unsuspecting village. And the fireworks greeted its return.

message 5: by Brigida (new)

Brigida Hurley (Daisyshrub) | 8 comments Taylor's Future Written by Gypsies
By Brigida Hurley

A galactic world was above with government military and intelligent people, but below was a darkness covered with metals, and those that were left behind or had no creed. Life machine animals and people that had there own problems. The future was destined to be a world with tall buildings, flying robotic engineering vehicles, and robot workers. Below there were scraps, and useless materials. There was a world, but it was a different world that came from deep below the universe. This world is Plague. Taylor was a strong female left below, because she was part robot, human, and insect. She was a survivor, and often gathered other females below to help support each other and defend themselves against spider robots who were part of a gang. Taylor drank a lot of coffee, and she was adopted not like the others who had families.
Her adopted parents were old and very kind, but they didn't have the time to spend with Taylor, because they were sick. So, even below she stood out and was mentioned frequently with the older people, but her talent for leading helped her to deal with conflict and gossip. However, she was set on some day visiting above, and exploring the area. The war was very difficult in Plague, and it would be impossible to try to visit above with the security. The Elite tions were special high profile being that she would not be able to imagine exist.
Her eyes would look up and to herself she felt there was more than her life where she was. She couldn't stop thinking about it. Taylor was a young adult that was interested in males, and fighting the spider robots. She met a boy that cleaned the contamination in the area by recycling with a giant ant cleaning system. He was very inventive,and his inventions were famous down below. Bryn like Taylor, and he would smile and chat with her when they had their parties in their neighborhood. He also, suggested the next time we have a party we should expand the fireworks. They knew it could be dangerous. There was no rules in having them. She knew people had no idea where the fireworks came from, but they must mean something important. Their handheld fireworks sparkled and sss. The popping ones were loud and the youth were stealing them.
Taylor thought Bryn liked her, because of her long black hair and tall slender body. The older people commented on her beauty and made her feel appreciated at times. Taylor was grateful for her adopted parents, and spent time taking care of them and working to pay her own bills, rent and food.
Yesterday she heard of a gang that was taking over people's lives and homes. They were living in homes when the tenants were visiting families and taking over jobs when people didn't show up.
The cousins of her adopted parents were coming to visit and Taylor was concerned for their safety. She tried to make sure when they went back they still had jobs and a home. She found a weapon and left it in a nearby street for a patrol group, and they often traveled to the same place her adopted parents cousins were from. She was only guessing by their striped cloths. The last thing she wanted was to be known by the patrol group, spider robots, or gang.
She felt it was a good day to recruit new females to help keep their communities from getting taken over by the spider robots and gang that threatened the small stores providing groceries, drinks, coffee and small items for people who requested them. These were stores on every corner of each community and neighborhood. Taylor visited each store recruiting females and asking them to attend the meetings and training. She had an intuition they, referring to the spider robots and gang, may be involved with this home and work invasion. She knew she was not safe as long as they were around.
She wondered if they had information of above, because they seem to have this device found in a pile of scraps and metal at a nearby junkyard of cardboard and canisters. Bryn mentioned this to her as they met at the neighborhood party with coffee and candy gum pudding. A female name Looks had a crush on Taylor, and she really didn't have time to think about it. Bryn said, the device had the name Gypsies on it. Could this be Taylor's ticket to visiting above, but How will she get her hands on a device owned by spider robots and gang? Taylor wanted a boyfriend, and she was waiting for Bryn to ask after the fireworks.

message 6: by Anne (last edited Dec 01, 2015 07:55PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Sometimes I really have no idea if I'm writing for kids or adults. My Rael and Gabby stories, though, definitely channel the child in me. Critiques welcome.

Title: Rabid Rabbits
Genre: Fantasy
Word Count: 1930

“What are you doing on my world?” Gabby drifted over to the cloud where Rael lay on his stomach, chin resting on his hands, looking down at the earth below. He had chosen to assume his favorite human look, that of a Roman gladiator.

Your world? I thought it was our world. Didn't we work on this together?”

Rael's pretended outrage didn't fool Gabby. He turned on his side, bending his elbow to support his head in the palm of his hand, the better to see her.

“By the way, you look radiant, my dear. But then you always do.”

Rael's black eyes sparkled with appreciation at Gabby's long fiery red toga, belted with a silver chain, blonde wavy hair cascading to her waist.

Gabby chewed on the inside of her lip to control the smile that threatened to burst out. She was always happy to see Rael. She waited, curious, for his answer.

“I was waiting for you, and monitoring the fruits of our labors, as a good cosmic guardian should.”

Gabby's lip twitched as she replied, “And have our labors produced anything of interest?” She nodded her head towards the earth.

“Actually, yes. I've been mesmerized by the rabbits.”

Gabby's eyes flashed in surprise. “Rabbits? Why would rabbits be of interest?”

“Well, I don't know what you did with them, but these are exceptionally talented. Not to mention they're experiencing an unprecedented population explosion – even by normal rabbit standards.”

“Wha-at? I didn't do anything different to them!” She sat down next to him on the cloud and zoomed in with her keen sight at the activity beneath them.

“Why, they have three long ears, sticking up like antennae...and they're shooting sparks out of them! And my, what big teeth they have! They're like saber-toothed bunnies! Wait, no, they don't really look that much like rabbits after all. They're much bigger and those eyes.... I swear they're sentient creatures.”

She whirled towards Rael, pointing with her finger, “They're not mine. Where did they come from? You did it! Is this one of your jokes? What were you – “

Rael, now solemn, shook his head and held his hands up, “Gabby, I swear I didn't do anything. It wasn't me.”

They turned their attention back to the “rabbits” who appeared to have doubled in population since Gabby arrived. Now there were hundreds scattering around the countryside below, directing their electric ear-sparks at anything that moved. Cows made especially fine targets. A flash of red sparkles lit up one cow, causing it to jump two feet into the air. The rabbits cackled at their victims' misery.

“Oh, no, we have to do something, they're destroying the livestock!” Gabby moaned.

“They zap them with their ears, then they chew them up. They weren't doing that before,” Rael mused, and stood up, now pacing. “They must have just been playing, practicing their skills before, when I was watching.”

“How far have they spread?” It was a rhetorical question. Even as Gabby spoke, the senses of the two spirits were focused at the havoc the rabbits were creating around a 100 mile radius.

“They're targeting all living creatures now, even humans. Their sparks are burning down homes, crops...” Gabby spat out.

Rael and Gabby now stood side by side, hands raised as one. They knew what they had to do. It was against their covenant to destroy life, but this was an exception. Unchecked, the deadly creatures would spread to all parts of the world, destroying everything in their path.

With one swift hand motion, they targeted each and every rabbit to suck out the force that gave them life.

Nothing happened.

Stunned, they stared at each other in disbelief.

“What are those creatures?” Rael whispered with a growing sense of unease and sickening suspicion.

As if in answer, a voice boomed from above, “WHO LET THE DEMONS OUT?”

“Ezra!” Gabby and Rael together voiced their greeting as they raised their eyes to welcome the third member of their team. Although Ezra was their peer, he preferred the bearded-biblical-patriarch look and often acted like one.

“What do you know about those rabbits, er-demons?” Rael asked.

Ezra's pronounced question verified Rael's own fears. Some demons were as powerful and omnipotent as the spirit guardians. They would not be easy to vanquish.

“Why are they here?” Gabby couldn't quite keep the tremor out of her voice. This was personal to her. Someone was attacking her beloved world.

“Well,” Ezra responded, “if it wasn't either of you, then they must come from Damien. We'll have a heck of a time getting them back to their own dimension.”

“How? How did he do this? We had banished him.” Gabby emphasized each word with a fist punch and the last with a kick that split the cloud they were standing on into a dozen pillows that flew in all directions.

Ezra pursed his lips and shrugged his shoulders, “Obviously he found a way out.”

Rael disagreed, “Not completely. Or else he would have come himself. My guess is he found his way to an alternate dimension that he had created some time ago. Or at least found a way to communicate with them. He must have made these rabbits, er- demons before we banished him. They were able to create a rift that they could pass through, but not him.”

“Or else he's biding his time. Keeping us occupied with this – ” Ezra waved his hand towards the earth, --” while he's plotting something else. He'll want to get his revenge on us, no question about it.”

“So, what can we do about those demon rabbits?” Rael countered.

Ezra stroked his long white beard. “Well, they're shooting sparks, so they feed off energy. So we can't destroy them with that. And we can't create a safe access point to another dimension from this world, we'll have to do it from space. The question is, how do we get hundreds,” – he looked down and amended his statement, – , “make that thousands, of unwilling demons into outer space?”

Gabby had been quiet until now. Rael had noticed the thoughtful look on her face, so he wasn't surprised when she said, “I have an idea. Come with me.”

They followed as she flitted down to the earth, to a low hill, now barren, all vegetation had been burned by the rabbit ears' sparks.

“We can't destroy them with energy, but we can still use it to control them. We can use it to our advantage.”

Ezra looked doubtful, “I don't know about that,” he pursed his lips and shook his head. He opened his mouth to speak again, but Gabby spoke first.

“I do.” She generated confidence, her plan obviously worked out in her mind. “I'm going to start by making a volcano here.”

Ezra and Rael both groaned. “Gabby, what is it with you and volcanoes?” Ezra asked.

She ignored him as she focused her mind on the geology of the earth under her feet, her hands held out parallel over the ground, slight movements emanating power.

Rael answered in her stead, “She loves them, loves the lava flows, the magnificence of eruptions...”

Ezra interrupted him, “She must know they can't be burned and killed with lava.”

“She knows. I think she has something else in mind.”

The ground rumbled and began to elevate.

Gabby called out to them, “Bring them here. All of them. I want to coat them before I let the lava loose.”

Ezra, still doubtful, hesitated and said, “We don't have time for this nonsense. We need to propel them into space.

Rael pulled him along. “Let's do it, old man. I think I know what she's planning. We'll get them into space and then open a rift.”

It was time for the three spirits to shed their human facade and revert to their gaseous spirit forms. In this form, they communicated with thought. Speech was not needed.

With the volcano's development well underway and easily predicted, Gabby could leave it to it's own evolution as she joined her partners for this next phase of the plan.

Together they billowed out in plumes of light, blanketing the area of the rabbits with a thick gas that was a mild irritant to the demons' breathing. By adjusting the concentration, direction and flow, the demons sought the path of least resistance, or in this case, of the cleanest air. In this way, the spirits could easily guide them back towards the site of the volcano.

Gabby broke away from the group as they neared the mountain, now erupting with gas, smoke and ash. She dove into the heart of the mountain and stirred up the minerals she wanted.

“Isn't there a comet in the neighborhood?” she asked her companions as she rose out of the top.

“One comet coming up!” Rael announced. “Where do you want it?”

“I think halfway between here and the moon should do it.” She looked at him pointedly. “Just make sure it's trajectory doesn't bring it back to Earth.”

Rael smirked. “I'll pretend you're kidding. Where do you want it headed?”

Ezra interjected, having finally caught on to Gabby's plan, “Into the rift that we'll be creating, no doubt.” He sighed. “It's a bit melodramatic, but it should work.”

Gabby turned to them and said, “Rael,get the comet on course. Ezra, get the rabbits up to the top of the volcano. When they're forced in, I'll unleash the rest of it.”

They nodded and got to work.

The demon rabbits eagerly scurried to the lip of the volcano to escape the irritating fumes. At that moment, Gabby generated a hailstorm of finely powdered sulphur, magnesium, aluminum, saltpetre, copper and charcoal that saturated the demons as they were nudged into the volcano. As they fell into the churning lava, the electricity generated from their ears caused the equivalent of lightning at the same time the fiery volcano began to erupt. The volcano itself acted as a tube and each rabbit became a firecracker pellet of gunpowder. The thousand explosions that emanated from the mix of lightning, lava and gunpowder flung the demonic rabbits straight up, making it an easy task for the spirits to continue the momentum until the demons landed on the comet. At that point, the three spirits joined together to create an inter-dimensional rift into an alternate universe. Comet and rabbits disappeared into the void.

Gabby wore a proud grin. “Well, that was well coordinated.” She bowed to Rael and Ezra. “You're most welcome.”

Rael added, “I guess we could say 'Thank You' for a most interesting diversion. That was probably the most impressive fireworks display anyone on this planet has ever seen.”

“Or ever will see.” Ezra added dryly. “It still seems to me there had to be an easier way of getting the job done.”

“Ah yes,” Rael pointed out, “but this way Gabby had an excuse to create another volcano.”

Ezra looked sharply at Gabby, who was studying her long red nails. She was back in her human form again. She responded, “One can never have too much lava. It makes a warm, soft cushion for a fun slide ride down the mountain. And it's good for the barren land, very nutritive, it'll make for good soil, someday there'll be a great beach here, and besides, I love the color red.”

She ducked and laughed as Rael tossed a sulfur pellet at her.

message 7: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Football Sucks
GENRE: Political Drama
RATING: PG-13 for politics and frequent swearing

When Democratic Mayor Irwin Gladden opened the blinds to his office window, what he saw shook him to his very core. Protesters. Lots and lots of protesters wearing football jerseys and helmets. All of them shouting incoherently at the top of their dragon-like lungs. Some of them with signs that said, “Football doesn’t suck!” and “Impeach Gladden!”. Most of them with Photoshopped pictures of the Mayor in a Nazi uniform or a turban with a bomb strapped around his body.

Being new to the job, Mayor Gladden obviously wasn’t used to this kind of violent treatment down on the streets of Paulson City. His blood was chilled. His jaw was quivering. His hands were vibrating. He had a knot in his stomach the size of a cannonball and a lump in his throat the size of a watermelon. All of these normally fine young citizens came together through their mutual hatred of this newly-elected official.

Though he wasn’t one-hundred-percent prepared for a day like this, he could think of a good reason why it was happening. The football paraphernalia, the firecrackers going off, the trumpets blasting everywhere, they could only mean one thing. These citizens were protesting because Irwin Gladden wanted to convert their beloved football stadium into the city’s largest public library. If that wasn’t “sacrilegious” enough, the thirty-something Mayor actually had the balls to say, “Football sucks!”

His balls weren’t feeling so big anymore. In fact, as soon as he saw a firecracker zooming towards his window (only to veer off at the last minute), Irwin snapped the blinds shut and cowered in the center of his office. How could so many people be so zealous and ignorant over a game of football? It made no sense.

Mayor Gladden’s day went from bad to worse when his front door hastily opened, causing him to spring backwards in fear and sit on the edge of his desk. He thought he was going to get mugged by these protesters. Instead, it happened to someone else entirely. Irwin’s personal bodyguard, Fred Jacobs, had stumbled into his office, slammed the door behind him, and collapsed on the floor while coughing up blood.

Irwin and Fred could not be more physically different from each other. The bodyguard was a hulking bad black man in a brown suit and tie while the Mayor was only this gray suit-wearing, skinny twig who barely filled his counterpart’s shadow. Fred Jacobs didn’t look very intimidating at that moment. Rolling over on his back and spewing up more blood didn’t help create that kind of image.

The frightened politician rushed over and knelt by his bodyguard’s side and asked, “Jesus Christ, what the hell happened?! Where are the goddamn paramedics?!”

After coughing up a splash of blood, Fred explained, “The protesters are blocking the streets from all angles. They’re not going to move even for first responders. What kind of shit storm did you cause out there, buddy?”

“I didn’t think it was a big deal!” said Irwin defensively. “It’s just a stupid arena! More taxpayer money goes into that stadium than anywhere else on the budget! We could have used that money to improve roads, hire more teachers, feed our poor, cure our sickly, and instead it’s going into this big ass stadium so that more athletes can end up in the hospital or even dead! Tell me my logic is wrong! I dare you!”

“Alright, dude,” said Fred as he sat up and looked his boss in the eyes with fiery zeal. “Your logic is wrong! There, I said it! Do you want to fire me now?!”

Irwin stood up in disbelief and backed up slowly. “What are you talking about? This makes perfect sense. Instead of going out there and giving people concussions, we could turn the whole stadium into a public library and actually improve their brain power for once.”

“That’s exactly how fucked up you are, Mayor!” Fred Jacobs stood up and spit a wad of chunky blood on the ground. If he was dizzy before, he wasn’t showing it at this moment. “A library? Really? You actually thought people would be onboard with that? This is Paulson City, damn it! People here don’t know whether to scratch their watches or wind their asses! They don’t give a shit about literature! You’re basically forcing your personal tastes on these poor people!”

Just like his bodyguard, Irwin Gladden suddenly found his testicle power when he snapped, “No! I’m not forcing anything on anybody! It’s called tough love! If these people won’t educate themselves, it’s my job and my responsibility to push them along!”

“Alright, man,” said Fred as he snorted blood up his nose and swallowed in a massive gulp. “I didn’t want to have to tell this story, but if it’s the only way to get through to your sorry ass, then goddamn it, it’ll have to do. You want to know how I got this big ass body? I didn’t get it through sitting on my ass eating Cheetohs and watching The Simpsons. I played football all throughout high school and college. That’s right! I was a quarterback for the Paulson City Warlords!”

“You’re kidding me,” said Irwin when he folded his arms.

“Back then they called me Freddy the Barbarian. They would have called me Inmate Number Blah-Blah-Blah if it wasn’t for football. It was either football or gangs and drugs for me. I lived in a poor neighborhood, my friend. A neighborhood that the previous Republican mayor promised to fix. Instead, all we had was more drugs, more gangs, and a shit load more police brutality. I joined the Paulson City Warlords to get away from all that disgusting crap. So the next time you say football sucks, think of this big ugly face staring you down!”

The big ugly face was indeed staring Mayor Gladden down and it was more frightening to look at than a dark fantasy demon. The politician’s body language showed it all: a trembling body that barely managed to stay seated to the edge of his desk. For the longest few seconds, Irwin and Fred didn’t say a damn thing to each other.

And then the Mayor screamed like a girl and ran into his bodyguard’s arms when he heard a cacophonous bang shattering his window and ripping his blinds. One of the firecrackers from the demonstration exploded against his window and went out in smoke.

Mayor Gladden had every reason in the world to piss his Armani pants and cry into Fred Jacobs’ Men’s Warehouse jacket. It was a tempting offer, but instead Irwin was red-faced with anger. He got down from his protector’s arms and stomped over to the phone. When asked what the hell he was doing, Irwin said, “I’m putting an end to this right now. Screw the riot police. If they’re not coming to my rescue, then I’ll declare a state of emergency and get the National fucking Guard! I’ll even tell them to bring AK-47’s instead of those wimpy rubber bullets. And real grenades too instead of that tear gas shit!”

“Put down that goddamn phone, Mayor Gladden!” screamed Fred, to which the Democrat slowly and shakily did. “Look at you, man! It’s your first week on the job and you’re already cracking under pressure! That’s not the Mayor I signed up with! You’re supposed to be this caring progressive who thinks of others! And now look at you! You’re actually considering killing those protesters with AK-47’s all because a firecracker got launched through your window!”

No arguments there. Irwin had snapped big time and all he could do was plop in his chair and try to block out the cacophony going on outside. It was doubtful another firecracker would make its way into his office again; that last one was a lucky shot. The city official just held his face in his hands and wept. “I can’t do this, Fred. I can’t do this. I want to step down.”

“No, you don’t,” said the bodyguard after putting a comforting hand on his boss’s shoulder. “You came here for a reason and that was to clean up Paulson City. You have the chance to do that right now by phoning the riot police. There are people down there who need you whether they know it or not. Do the right thing, Mayor. If the riot police won’t come, then you have my permission to get the National Guard. Just please, none of that AK-47 and real grenade crap this time.”

Irwin took a few deep breaths in and out, calming himself down in the midst of the outside chaos. “You’re right, Fred. You’re absolutely right. I don’t know what I’d do without you. And if football made you the man you are today, I doubt it could suck that badly.”

Fred Jacobs smiled and patted Irwin on the shoulder before leaving him alone to make the phone call. Just a few minutes ago, this ex-football player was dizzy and bleeding. Now he was toughing it out like a pro and that was inspiring to Irwin, who then picked up the phone and made this announcement: “Send them in. It’s an emergency.” The call for help was placed and all Irwin and Fred could do at this point was ride out the storm.

message 8: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Title : Explosive Decisions
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Fantasy
Word Count : 1369
Rating : PG

Colin hated fireworks.

Every year, from late October to early January, his world was turned upside down by the invasion of all the amateur fireworks enthusiasts in his neighbourhood. The bizarre thing was that the youngsters would set off the fireworks in the middle of the afternoon, which seemed a ridiculous waste of time and money to him. You could barely see the light show before nightfall, yet they persisted in setting them off throughout the day.

Colin sat in his living room, staring out the window at the feeble fireworks display going on across the street, He looked at his watch to see what the time was.


“Bloody idiots,” he complained, looking at his garden and the mess his neighbours had made of it. There he could see the remnants of some used fireworks lying around in the grass. He was going to have to clean that up now, so he got up from his chair and headed for the door. Breathing in as he opened his front door, he could smell the propellant in the air; the sulphur that formed the black powder that launched the hated projectiles into the sky.

“I thought there was a law about this sort of thing,” he grumbled as he picked up old pieces of firework from the grass, careful not to grab any charred bits in case they burnt him. He’d burnt his palm one year on an old sparkler someone had thrown in the garden so, as the saying goes, once bitten twice shy.

As he continued to clean up the mess, the smell of sulphur in the air got stronger. He looked up into the afternoon sky where more fireworks were exploding overhead, and more rubbish rained down into his garden. Tutting, he stooped lower and continued to pick up the rubbish.

“Annoying, isn’t it?”

Colin looked up when he heard the voice, seeing a tall thin man in a raincoat leaning on his garden fence. Ordinarily he’d have been cross about someone using his fence as a leaning post, but what the man said was exactly what Colin had been thinking.

“All these fireworks,” the thin man continued, “I bet you wish you could make them all go away. That you’d never have to see or hear them again.”

“Too right,” Colin stood upright, kneading his hand into his aching back, “I spend ages cleaning up after those poxy kids. All their leftover firework bits falling in my garden? It’s a bloody nightmare, I tell you.”

The thin man smiled, “What would you say if I told you I could make all those fireworks just... disappear? For you, at least.”

Colin stared at the man. His long raincoat seemed to swim around his feet, and Colin could barely see his face under a trilby hat that Humphrey Bogart wouldn’t have looked out of place wearing. The man smiled; a smile just as thin as the rest of him, revealing rows of small, perfectly white teeth.

“How exactly would you manage that?” Colin asked, walking over to the man.

“You’d never have to hear them again,” the thin man continued, “you’d never have to see them again. It would be as if those fireworks had never existed. As if they’d never invaded your garden.”

“Do you work for the council or something?” Colin asked.

The thin man’s smile faltered, “No,” he said, “I do not work for the council.”

“Then how exactly do you propose to stop these fireworks from invading my peace and quiet?” Colin asked.

“I have my ways,” the thin man told Colin, producing what looked like a legal document from inside his raincoat, accompanied by an old fashioned quill pen, “all you have to do is sign.”

“Sign?” Colin looked at the paperwork as the thin man handed it to him, “What exactly would I be signing?”

“Just a basic disclaimer,” the thin man shrugged, “you know, confirming that you agree to all aspects of our work, that you won’t sue us if you change your mind about the fireworks, that sort of thing.”

“Sounds reasonable enough,” Colin said, taking the quill and starting to sign. As he did so, the nib of the quill pricked the tip of his finger and he winced and a tiny drop of blood squeezed out the end.

“Ouch,” he complained before finishing his signature.

“Excellent,” the thin man smiled, folding up the contract and putting it back inside his jacket.

“So, what happens now?” Colin asked, sucking at his bloody finger.

“Give it a few hours,” the thin man smiled, “I can guarantee you that today will be the last time you see or hear anymore fireworks.”

Colin smiled at the thin man as he continued to walk down the road, stopping at the next house. Colin furrowed his brow, then walked back into his own home to watch the news.

A few hours later, Colin had started to nod off in his armchair, and it was getting late. He looked at his watch, but his hazy vision couldn’t make out the time. He tutted and sat up in his seat, planning to go and make himself some tea. That was when he noticed.

He couldn’t hear any fireworks.

For the first time in over a month he actually had some peace and quiet for a change. The sound of sudden explosions were no longer flooding his ears and polluting his world. He smiled to himself.

“Brilliant,” he chuckled.

That was when he noticed he couldn’t hear his own voice.

He jumped to his feet, staring around the room. The lights weren’t on so it was pretty dark, but even so the television was on in the corner of the room.

He couldn’t hear it.

Picking up the remote control he pressed the volume button repeatedly until the thing was on full blast, but even so he could only hear a faint buzzing sound. He wiped his knuckles against his eyes in order to clear his sleepy vision, and that was when he noticed that everything was unusually hazy. As he blinked sleep out of his eyes, his vision got worse until all he could see was a pin prick of light coming from the television screen.

Panicking, Colin shambled across the room, knocking over the coffee table in his bid to get to the telephone, but in his haste he knocked it from the unit where it was kept and kicked it out of reach under the sofa. Even with perfect vision he’d have had difficulty getting that back.

He stumbled to the front door, fumbling with the lock until he got the door open and ran out into his driveway.

“Help me!” he shouted, but he couldn’t hear his own voice, and his vision had now completely gone.

He thought back to what the thin man had told him.

“You’d never have to hear them again, you’d never have to see them again.”

He’d never see anything again! He’d never hear anything again!

The thin man had made him deaf and dumb.

“Someone please help me!” Colin screamed, falling to his knees in the driveway and sobbing. As he wept, he felt someone grab onto his arm. He didn’t know who it was – he could neither hear nor see them – and he tried to pull away from them.

If he’d been able to hear, or to see, he’d have heard and seen that the person grabbing him was one of the kids from across the street, the ones who’d been setting off the fireworks for the past month.

“Are you okay, Mr Jones,” the kid asked, but Colin didn’t respond.

Another kid came over to see what was going on, “What’s happening?” he asked.

“I dunno,” the first kid said, “MR Jones just collapsed in his driveway and started screaming, “and his eyes look all funny.”

The two kids looked at Colin’s eyes, which had glazed over with a white film, “Are you okay, Mr Jones?” the first kid repeated, but Colin didn’t respond.

He was deaf, and he was blind.

I guess you could say that his wish for a quiet life, undisturbed by the noise or sight of fireworks, had come true.

message 9: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments James, you certainly have a knack for showing your audience how your characters feel as opposed to telling them. Every chill, every shake, every ping of anxiety, I felt them all as I read through your story. Showing is a skill that most authors struggle with, myself included. We’re often given different definitions of what showing is supposed to mean by successful authors and teachers before us. You seem to have a clear understanding of what it’s all about as evidenced in how vivid of an image your writing painted in my mind. I could definitely learn something from authors like you. I’ve been writing creatively since 2002 and I still have a lot to learn. Thank you for pushing me in the right direction with this story of yours.

Anne, over the time you’ve been here, you’ve written quite a few of these stories involving celestial spirits Gabby, Rael, and Ezra. If you put these stories together in a book, I can definitely see them as part of one big novel. It’s something you should consider seeing as how you have a lot of momentum with these stories. If you don’t want to make a series or a novel out of the stories, that’s cool too. It’s merely a suggestion that I believe would help your writing career in a big way, whether you choose to publish the book independently or the traditional way. These are all silly and fun stories from the same series, so there’s no doubt they would do well out there in the public eye. You have the skills to pay the bills, my friend!

Edward, the annoying fireworks angle you employed with your story reminds me of one I wrote in 2014 called M-80 Lullaby, where the lead character, Leon Beans, is under house arrest and is trying to sleep when a couple of stupid teenagers set off fireworks in his neighborhood. You took a much different approach than I did when it comes to the solution to the story’s problem. Making Colin Jones deaf and blind was a creative way to deal with the antagonistic forces. It was also creepy and cold, reminiscent of the scene in Something Wicked This Way Comes when the teacher becomes young again only to be blind as well. Masterful job of creating an innovative story! Great job this week!

message 10: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments James wrote: "A shout of surprise arose from me, echoing down the long hallway, though I no longer possessed a body to give such a shout. I had no feeling, no touch, and yet I could see all around me and hear al..."

This certainly embodies the "careful what you wish for" theme. A fascinating story, well written. It leaves me with mixed feelings - you want her to get released, but hate to see anyone else become a victim!

message 11: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "It was also creepy and cold, reminiscent of the scene in Something Wicked This Way Comes when the teacher becomes young again only to be blind as well."

I was going for a "Something Wicked..." / "Needful Things" feel so I'm glad that came across in the story.

message 12: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Football Sucks
GENRE: Political Drama
RATING: PG-13 for politics and frequent swearing

When Democratic Mayor Irwin Gladden opened the blinds to hi..."

Hooray for Fred! We need more guys like him to straighten out everyone else. :) Well done, Garrison.

message 13: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments James wrote: "A shout of surprise arose from me, echoing down the long hallway, though I no longer possessed a body to give such a shout. I had no feeling, no touch, and yet I could see all around me and hear al..."

So, be careful what you wish for? Looks like I went in a similar direction to you. :D This felt like an Arabian Night story, with a "genie" switching places with his unsuspecting victim. Have you ever seen "The Skeleton Key"? The ending had a similar sinister feel of 'what comes next' to it. Good job.

message 14: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Brigida wrote: "Taylor's Future Written by Gypsies
By Brigida Hurley

A galactic world was above with government military and intelligent people, but below was a darkness covered with metals, and those that were l..."

This felt like you were writing a synopsis of a much larger story. There's a lot of interesting potential for world building here, but there's too much telling of what is going on rather than having scenes through which the reader can discover things for themselves. Perhaps by expanding on this story you could work through some of these kinks.

message 15: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Title : Explosive Decisions
Author : Edward Davies
Genre : Fantasy
Word Count : 1369
Rating : PG

Colin hated fireworks.

Every year, from late October to early January, his world was turned upside..."

Some good lessons to be learned from this story! I enjoyed the interesting twist to this. Well done, as always!

message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Garrison wrote: "James, you certainly have a knack for showing your audience how your characters feel as opposed to telling them. Every chill, every shake, every ping of anxiety, I felt them all as I read through y..."

Thanks Garrison! I think I've done four so far and I never intended to make a series of stories, but there's something about these characters that appeals to me...,so when it feels right, I run with it.

message 17: by Edward (last edited Dec 03, 2015 03:17PM) (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Anne wrote: "Sometimes I really have no idea if I'm writing for kids or adults. My Rael and Gabby stories, though, definitely channel the child in me. Critiques welcome.

Title: Rabid Rabbits
Genre: Fantasy

This was so much fun, it felt like you channelled Garrison (but without the foul language). I picture the characters illustrated by Skottie Young (image search him) which would be awesomely cute. I agree with G-Man, how many of these shorts have you accumulated over the years?

EDIT - whoops, you already said four!

message 18: by Anne (last edited Dec 03, 2015 05:34PM) (new)

Anne (annefrn) | 916 comments Edward wrote: "Anne wrote: "Sometimes I really have no idea if I'm writing for kids or adults. My Rael and Gabby stories, though, definitely channel the child in me. Critiques welcome.

Title: Rabid Rabbits

Thanks Edward -- I think it's easy to be influenced by everything we read, so am not surprised that sometimes the stories remind us of others' writing.
And yes, I looked at Skottie Young --really neat stuff! I wish I could download pics off the internet to accompany the stories!

message 19: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Anne wrote: "Hooray for Fred! We need more guys like him to straighten out everyone else. :) Well done, Garrison."

Maybe one of these days, Fred Jacobs' name will be on the ballett for Mayor of Paulson City. I'm glad you enjoyed my story, Anne. :)

message 20: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Edward wrote: "This was so much fun, it felt like you channelled Garrison (but without the foul language)."

I'm like the kids from South Park: I have the face of an angel and the mouth of a sailor. :)

message 21: by Edward (new)

Edward Davies | 1727 comments Garrison wrote: "AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Football Sucks
GENRE: Political Drama
RATING: PG-13 for politics and frequent swearing

When Democratic Mayor Irwin Gladden opened the blinds to hi..."

Another moral tale, Garrison? Though personally I do think football sucks, whether American or European. :D Still at least here we have the moral that sport can stop some people from joining gangs and allow them to become functional members of society.

message 22: by Garrison (new)

Garrison Kelly (cybador) | 9094 comments Any distraction from a life of crime is a good one. Some people use sports to get away from it, others use creative expression (writing, painting, music, etc.). A tight focus and a solid moral foundation is what we all need. That was the purpose of this story. That, and I really do think football is a crappy sport. Hehe! Thanks for the feedback, Edward! :)

message 23: by Ryan (new)

Ryan | 5334 comments Make haste to the tavern and vote, ye pirates, Week 289 be upon us.

Stories - https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...
Poems - https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

Have a wonderful week!

- the mods

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