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Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company!
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> Week 439 (December 18-December 24) Stories Topic: Gift
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Dec 18, 2018 04:44AM
You have until the 24th of December to post a story and from the 25th to around the 31st of December, 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. Only one submission per person is allowed.
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:
The rules are pretty loose. You could write a story about anything that has to do with the subject/photo but it must relate to the topic somehow.
Most of all have fun!
(last edited Dec 18, 2018 07:24AM)
Dec 18, 2018 07:22AM
My Singing Teddy Bear
It's not my story really. It's the story of World War II, of rations and factories retrofitted to make tanks and ammo. Then it's the story of the war's aftermath in 1946, the sigh of relief when the boys came home, the picking up again of life like before, of toothpaste once again in metal tubes, and the return of bananas and pineapples to the grocery store.
A three year old who had no memory of war and sacrifice wanted a bear for Christmas -- not an ordinary bear, but one that sang. Her parents were dumbfounded. Who gave her that notion? You say the bear sang? Yes, she said. It sang.
They searched high and low -- no Google then, no Amazon, no mall. Did you see one, they asked? Yes, it sang Jack and Jill. Where did you see it? On a walk, she said.
A week before Christmas, the little girl's daddy walked to the drugstore nearby and remembered a little store two doors farther down the block called The Cradle Shoppe that carried sterling baby rattles and smocked christening gowns for the town's elite. Men who worked in the factory like he did never thought of shopping there.
Do you have a teddy bear who sings, he asked. I have one with a Swiss music box from before the war, the store owner said. It's been here so long it's dusty now. She found the little bear on a shelf and wound the key. Sure enough, the bear played Jack and Jill. She told him a little girl had come by with a baby sitter the summer before and had fallen in love with it. Played the song over and over.
I still have that bear I got for Christmas 72 years ago. His fur is worn bare and darned around the key from singing me to sleep a thousand nights and more. With a little help, he still ekes out the tune, and I sing along.
Dec 18, 2018 09:52PM
I weighed my options this week and decided to go with an American Darkness-esque topic rather than a lighthearted parody. My story will be called "Walk in the Rain" and here's the synopsis for it:
1. Jarrod Crews, Lonely Theater Student
2. Cassandra Bride, Actress Turned Teacher
PROMPT CONFORMITY: The made-for-TV movie Cassandra is most famous for is called “My Gift to You”. I know, it’s a cheap copout just to make this story fit into the prompt, but I really have my heart set on writing this.
SYNOPSIS: On a rainy evening, Cassandra calls Jarrod into her office to discuss his ulterior motives in signing up for her class. Mrs. Bride claims from a reliable source that he only took her class because he saw her on TV playing a temptress and he has a crush on her because of it. Caught red-handed after hearing his own mother is the source of this information, Jarrod admits defeat and tries to walk away. Cassandra isn’t done talking yet. She wants to discuss Jarrod’s depression and loneliness and why he’s trying to hide it from his family. Jarrod desperately wants this awkward conversation to be over, but if he goes outside, he might get hit by lightning. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…
(last edited Dec 22, 2018 07:09PM)
Dec 22, 2018 06:59PM
AUTHOR: Garrison Kelly
TITLE: Walk in the Rain
GENRE: College Fiction
WORD COUNT: 2,005
RATING: PG for swearing and mild violence
The nighttime rainfall tapped against Cassandra Bride’s office window while she sipped her peppermint tea. Christmas lights strewn above her ceiling illuminated an otherwise dark atmosphere. She smiled while relaxing into her favorite office chair. Such a peaceful time of night. She should have been in bed with a Lilian Jackson Braun novel and a kitty. Deep inside, she knew this conversation had to take place and it couldn’t wait until a brighter morning.
She took one last sip of tea before there was a knock on her door. “Come in,” she said. Slogging through the office in a soaking wet hooded jacket was Jarrod Crews, a young man with short black hair and a Seether T-shirt underneath his rainwear. He removed his coat and hung it up on the rack in the corner, not even bothering to dry it off. His social skills were always a mess, so at least a drippy coat was forgivable.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Jarrod while taking a seat across from his acting teacher.
Cassandra laid her cup of tea on the desk and waved as if it was no big deal. “It’s not your fault, Jarrod. It’s wet out there. If I would have known you didn’t have a car, I would have dispatched another student to give you a ride. Any moment now we should start getting thunder storms.”
Jarrod’s eyes darted from side to side while he fidgeted with hangnails on his thumb. “So…do you want to tell me what this is all about?”
“Of course, of course I do. But first I want to thank you for agreeing to see me tonight in my office. I’m sorry you had to walk through a rainstorm, but this actually is a pretty important topic.” Cassandra cleared her throat and straightened the straps on her black dress before leaning forward with her hands supporting her chin.
“Am…am I in trouble?” asked Jarrod with a jittery voice, either from the cold weather outside or his own nervousness.
Cassandra breathed a deep sigh and hesitated before starting the necessary conversation. “Jarrod…is has come to my attention that you have some ulterior motives for signing up for my acting class. Like the rest of your classmates, you probably saw me in the made-for-TV movie My Gift to You, where I played a demonic seductress. The only difference is, you took your fandom a little too far. You can deny it all you want, but Mr. Crews…I believe the only reason you signed up for my class was so you could be close to me. You have no other classes in your schedule. This is your first quarter at Kelly University. The pieces are all there. You got caught…by me.”
Jarrod nearly jumped out of his skin when the first lightning bolt flashed outside. His breathing was labored, but for a far different reason than the combination electromancy and aeromancy going on. “Who told you all of this?”
“Your own mother, Jarrod. She called here the other day to have a chat with me about your…extracurricular activities. She read me passages from your diary. She logged onto your computer and found pictures that have no earthly business being there. Jarrod, this is not okay. I don’t feel safe around you anymore. You know where this is leading, right?” Tiny droplets welled up in the student’s eyes. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
Jarrod slapped his legs and gave a short, sorrowful laugh through his tears. “I mean…you’re not wrong. You caught me red-handed. So, that’s that, right? I should just go back to my dorm and pack my suitcase?”
Just as Jarrod stood up, Cassandra motioned with her hand for him to sit back down. “Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah. Not just yet. There’s a lot more to discuss than just a simple expulsion.”
The student slowly sat back down and chewed on his fingertips while smiling sadly and shaking his head. “What else is there to discuss? You have everything you need. My own mother basically ratted me out to you.” Jarrod held his face in his hand and sobbed a little bit. “You’re getting way too much pleasure out of this, Mrs. Bride.”
“You’re wrong, Jarrod. There’s absolutely no joy in this for me. For all intents and purposes, you were a hardworking student who gave A+ performances when you needed to. This hurts me just as much as it hurts you.”
The crumbling student man-spread his legs and tucked his head down as he tried to find the resolve to continue this conversation. The wetness in his face, the redness in his cheeks, he was easy pickings for Cassandra Bride. She had to admit that he put on a hell of a performance, yet again.
“I’m not talking about you expelling me from school. That part I get,” blubbered Jarrod through heavy breaths. “But why did you have to go behind my back like that? You got my own mother to throw me under the bus. For what?”
“She didn’t throw you under the bus, Jarrod. She called me that day because she’s worried about you. Like I said, this isn’t just an open and shut case that can be solved with expulsion. Aside from your sexual obsession with me, there’s more than she told me about you.”
“Oh god,” stammered Jarrod as he chewed on his fingertips some more.
Taking a sip of hot tea, Cassandra said, “Your mother tells me that you have a hard time making new friends. She says you’re depressed and isolated all the time, so instead of forming real relationships, you hover around me and feed your fantasies that way. She tells me that it’s been a while since you’ve seen your therapist.”
“Okay, enough! Enough!” snapped Jarrod while holding his hands up defensively. Another lightning strike flashed in the sky, but he refused to be deterred. “I get it! I’m an emotional train wreck! And yes, I do have a hard time meeting new people. You know why? Because every time I think I have something, my mom and dad take it away from me when they move to a new place. And then what do I do? Start over? Take another chance? Bullshit!”
“You know, Jarrod, you can do something about that. You’re old enough to make your own decisions. If you don’t want to move around to different cities all the time, then you can just…”
“I can just what? Find my own place? Have you seen how much an apartment costs these days? Have you seen the job market lately? There’s nothing out there for me, unless you consider sleeping at a bus station and begging for handouts to be good living.”
Cassandra set her tea down again and wheeled her office chair towards a crumbling Jarrod Crews. She placed her hand on his shoulder and elicited an, “Oh god!” response from him.
“Listen,” she said. “I know it’s tough out there. When I left my acting career and became a teacher, I didn’t know anybody here at Kelly University. I was scared just as you are now. But ultimately, you have two choices. You can move back in with your parents and have financial security and love for as long as you need it…or you can swallow your pride and find potential roommates with the friends you make here. You can’t keep doing this to yourself, Jarrod. Either choice is a valid one, but when you make that decision, you need to reap all of the benefits that come with it. I get it. You need love. We all do.”
Jarrod wiped the tears from his eyes with his shirt sleeve and said, “I know you told me that we have a lot to discuss…but this is getting really fucking awkward, Mrs. Bride. I don’t want to be here anymore. I’m not even sure expulsion would be a bad thing for me. If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll just grab my coat and fuck off forever.”
Just as Jarrod stood up to grab his coat, Cassandra offered, “Are you sure you don’t want a ride back to your dorm? Trust me, you don’t want to walk in the rain a second time tonight.”
The lonely student looked down at his shoes and sighed. “You know what? I think I prefer getting hit by lightning over having another awkward conversation with you, Mrs. Bride.”
An even louder thunderbolt shook the skies as well as Jarrod’s foundations as he jumped skittishly yet again. Cassandra asked, “Are you sure about that, Jarrod?”
He shrugged his shoulders and smiled sadly. “Well, you know what they say: you’re more likely to be killed by a terrorist than you are to be struck by lightning.”
Cassandra smiled amusedly. “No, no, no, Jarrod, you’ve got that bass ackwards. You’re more likely to be hit by lightning than you are to be killed by a terrorist.”
“…Really?....Oh…Well…What if it’s an incel terrorist?”
“Then your chances slightly increase, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I’d rather you allow me to give you a ride back to your dorm instead of getting rained on again.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you the one who said you didn’t feel comfortable being around me?” asked Jarrod.
Cassandra sighed and tucked her head while her now ex-student put his jacket on and ventured outside in the pouring rain. “Was I too hard on him?” she asked herself. Not even the delicious flavor of her peppermint tea could relax her on this one. Everything that could have gone wrong in this “important conversation” did go wrong. She lost a great student, Jarrod lost an opportunity to open up, and everything got incredibly awkward. But Murphy’s Law didn’t stop there…
Another bolt of lightning tore up the sky, but this time the sounds of Jarrod wiggling and screaming echoed throughout the rainy weather. “Oh my god!” gasped Cassandra as she dropped her now shattered teacup on the floor. Even wearing high heels, she managed to bolt out of her office and lend her help to a now jittering Jarrod Crews.
There he laid convulsing violently with wide eyes and a foaming mouth. Now it was Cassandra Bride’s turn to lose a few tears as she held her hand to her mouth in shock. She knelt beside him and cradled his head in her lap. “I’m so sorry, Jarrod! I’m sorry!”
Even with a shivering body, Jarrod managed to form a complete and coherent sentence with a smile on his face. “So this is what it’s like to be held by somebody…I never knew that before…” Cold, miserable, and electrocuted, Jarrod’s head flopped over and his eyes rolled back in his head. Cassandra placed two fingers on his neck vein and felt no pulse surging through him, just electricity. He died taking a little piece of heaven with him before he went.
Cassandra teared up some more as she hugged Jarrod Crews’s lifeless skull. During her moment of apologetic cuddling, she noticed two wire prongs attached to his chest that led to a stun gun lying on the ground next to him. Scratched onto the weapon was a message as clear as the day that would come: “Incel Pride Worldwide”.
The actress’s sorrow turned into jaw-quivering fear at the revelation that her student was murdered. She could hear footsteps running away on the concrete sidewalk, but it was too dark to make out who they belonged to. By the time the perp was illuminated by the streetlamp, he had already turned a corner and hightailed it out of there.
What if there were more of them? Who else signed up for Cassandra Bride’s class under false pretenses? Was Jarrod Crews the only intended victim? What if…she was next? These thoughts raced violently through her head, which was now cradled in her own hands in a lame attempt to contain her fear. “I’ve got to get the hell out of here…I can’t stay anymore…”
Dec 24, 2018 12:53AM
Title : The Perfect Gift
Author : Edward Davies
Word Count : 1026
Rating : PG
When it came to gifts, Andrenport knew exactly what to get people. Ever since he’d arrived on Galactus 3, he’d invariably chosen the most popular gift for all of his colleagues when their birthdays had come round. For Kelvon he’d purchased a vibrating hair comber, perfect for his particular follicular needs. For Mariatnee he’d found a puzzle box that was almost impossible to solve, something that would challenge the mind of the highly intelligent native of Parabox 12. And for Simoron he’d found a mirrored frame that could show images of Simoron’s loved ones, something which had great meaning to him as he was a member of a race that could not have their image captured on any known imaging device.
But one morning Andrenport arrived at work to the presence of a new colleague.
“Andrenport”, his boss, Jovid, called him over, “I’d like you meet our new employee, Vidva.”
Andrenport looked at Vidva. She was of a species he’d never seen before; attractive but not overly so, tall, with pinkish-brown skin and narrow, almost soulless eyes. Andrenport swallowed nervously.
“Nice to meet you,” he said, smiling as he held out his hand for her to shake. Vidva looked him in the eyes, then held her lance on his offered hand before looking him in the eye again, “Pleasure,” she said flatly.
“Now, Andrenport,” Jovid continued, “I’d like you to give Vidva the tour, settle her in, show her what’s what. She’ll be working closely with you, so she needs to know everything you do here. “
“Of course, sir,” Andrenport smiled unconvincingly, “it will be a…” he looked at Vidva, “…pleasure.”
And so the torturous routine of showing the Vidva the ropes began, and no matter what Andrenport tried he couldn’t get anything out of the woman. He tried cracking jokes, asking questions, doing anything to try to get to know the woman, but he couldn’t get a thing out of her.
About a month into working with Vidva, Andrenport received some worrying news from one of his colleagues, Mariatnee, while they were having lunch together.
“Hey, Andrenport,” she smiled, barely looking up from the puzzlebox he’d given her the year before, “I heard something today that might interest you.”
“What is it?” he asked.
“The new girl, Vidva,” Mariatnee looked up from the box, her fingers stopping their movement, “it’s her birthday next week.”
Andrenport face seemed to collapse in on itself, “You’re kidding,” he mumbled.
Mariatnee smiled, “What’s wrong?” she asked, “Are you worried that you’re going to bring an end to your winning streak?”
“Of course not,” Andrenport lied, “it’s just… she’s very difficult to get to know.”
“Well, you’ve got a few days to try,” Mariatnee said, “and I know precisiely what the perfect gift for her would be, but I’m not saying,” and with that she turned her attention back to her puzzle box.
Andrenport knew that pushing Mariatnee for an answer wouldn’t work. If anything it would make her less likely to tell him. He was beside himself. He had to think of something for Vidva as a birthday gift, but he had learned nothing about her in their weeks working together. All she seemed to do was watch what he did, listen to what he said, and look expressionlessly at everything else. What kind of present would someone who was like that actually want?
Andrenport did searches on the outerweb, desperately trying to find what kind of things people from her planet were into, but there was very little information about them. The only thing he could is that they were a very private people who did not like being harassed by outsiders.
So maybe the best thing he could do was get her nothing…
…But then he would break his streak of getting everyone the perfect gift.
It was quite the dilemma.
So he decided that he’d go out and get a whole heap of presents, hoping that something would work.
After work he went to the orbiting mall, checking out items from every outlet store he could find. He ended up buying all sorts of random items; some items that were actual possibilities for Vidva, other’s half-hearted errors in judgment that he’d have to keep aside for someone else in the distant future. Once he’d finished in the mall he’d pretty much spent his week’s wages, and he brought his purchases back to the station and lined them up in his quarters.
After about twenty minutes of solidly staring at the items, he groaned loudly;
“None of them are right,” he complained to himself, “they’re all just… wrong.”
The day of Vidva’s birthday soon arrived, and in a panic Andrenport had selected one of the many gifts he’d purchased at random. He didn’t think it was going to be suitable, but there was nothing else he could do. He stood next to Mariatnee in the staff cafeteria, waiting for Vidva to come through the door.
When she did, she looked expressionlessly at everyone as they chanted, “Happy birthday!” She looked at all their faces, settling on Andrenport who held the gift in front of him.
“This is for you,” he said flatly, handing her the gift which she took without ceremony, “from all of us,” he added and, as an afterthought, he kissed her gently on the cheek.
Mariatnee gave a little gasp as everyone watched Vidva’s expression change for what felt like the first time since they had all started working with her.
Andrenport looked at Mariatnee, “What is it?” he asked.
“Did you know?” Mariatnee whispered.
“Know what?” Andrenport asked.
Mariatnee shook her head, gesturing towards Vidva, “You honestly didn’t know?” she continued, “Vidva’s people – it’s quite the secret – but I found out that the only real way to show your appreciation for their work, the only true gift they will ever accept, is a kiss.”
Andrenport looked over at Vidva, whose face had completely changed; its drab colours had brightened, her eyes had widened, and her lips had formed into a dazzling smile. She reached her hands towards Andrenport, grasping his in hers, and her lips parted.
“Thank you,” she said, “it’s perfect.”
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