Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cracked Flash: Year 1, Week 32


Judges This Week: Si and Mars!

Word count: 300 max

How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). Only one entry per person.

Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!

Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.

Remember: The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (And remember that your entry must begin with the prompt! And you don't have to incorporate the picture(s); they're there for ideas (and sometimes our amusement))


"I'm not really a planner."


    298 Words

    Revelation 16:15

    I'm not really a planner. Planning's fine for the boss, but my work doesn't allow for it. Who-moved-my-cheese doesn't fly when you've got thousands of products needing to ship instantly, and tomorrow could be dead. Firefighters don't plan; they're ready. Always. That's how it is with me. I don't expect you planner-organizers to understand. Just don't judge me. Don't hate.

    Just-in-time inventory or lean manufacturing- my boss takes them to a whole new realm. We keep zero inventory. The instant I get a product, I sort it and out it goes, quick as a breath. We only have two accounts, but they're enormous. Think Walmart and China. Between them they've got the whole market captured, though one of them is more of an umbrella company with scores of subsidiaries: The wide road, if you will.

    I've been called a flunky by those who'd like to demoralize me, just a glorified busboy. Office politics can be ruthless. I'm above it.

    In my novice days, I tried to prepare for the galactic orders I could smell coming, wars and plagues and such. But there's no planning with my boss. I'd go one place, expecting a windfall, and lo- death would be blooming someplace else entirely. No one's allowed to know who's next, not even me. Security reasons. Who would've thought He'd actually sink the Titanic just because they said it was unsinkable? Brazen move, that one. I scurried around like a mother trying to keep up with the orders. So there's no planning. It's standard policy in death.

    I peel them gently from their corpses and ship them in crates you can't see, some up, some down. Nine out of ten of them are screaming their surprise that it's not what they thought it would be. They weren't planners, either.

    1. This one is awesome! Very cleverly done. :)

    2. Thank you, Maggie! I appreciate that... Especially from a story teller as skilled as you. Planner with a capital "P." Nice.

    3. Aw, thanks Kelly! But seriously, I'd read more of this one! :)

  2. Don't Leave Me Hanging by Jeff Rowlands
    295 Words

    I’m not really a planner. So, it should not come as too much of a surprise to me to find myself here, hundreds of feet above the ground, legs dangling in thin air. First date. Oh yes, I go with the flow. Do what she enjoys. Which apparently is getting one of the steepest cable car rides in the country from the pier that jets out into the North Sea to the mountain summit.

    Did I forget to mention in our brief chatting that I am not a fan of heights? I am relieved that today is warm and bright so I can happily wear sunglasses and you are unable to see the fear in my eyes. First impressions and all that stuff.

    I can hear you talking to me, but the words brush over me, leaves falling from a tree. Not able to repeat any of them or even tell you with authority what language you are addressing me in. I sense you touching my arm. I try smiling and nodding, I hear the occasional laugh. At least one of us seems to be having fun and a rewarding conversation. Deep breaths needed.

    Delighted as the ride reaches the terminus, glad to plant my feet on solid ground, I help you out of the car. My senses return to normal and everything realigns itself happily. I am overwhelmed by a sudden thirst. Water, beer, wine, coffee? Anything, everything please. I offer you my arm but you shake your head in refusal. “You go ahead, Give me a minute”. We agree on a place. I stride away from you and as I reach the bustle of the resort on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I allow myself to get swallowed up and lost in the throng.

  3. @scout_cookies
    Words 147
    Characters 825
    Characters excluding spaces 676


    Im not really a planner, but I have scripted my death, I'm don't really think, but iv ponder over life, I'm not one to worry, but I fear this may be my last endeavor, I wish only one thing of you people, silence the whispers within the abyss, we can only hear small remnants of you voice, filtered down by the thin wood above and beneath, dissected down to a mere grunt like sound, but the more you listen the the clearer it becomes get, let your courtship be whisked away, let your susceptibility be intrigued, let your yett be thrown down, as your bailey is savaged, as you plunge deeper into the summit, whispers tickle your ear, thurm groves laid deep into your subconscious, cracks race across your mind, splitting your brain into pieces, splintering your brain into small flakes, splicing apart your hold on reality.

  4. Forgotten

    254 words


    I’m not really a planner, I mean I write lists - or at least people see me write lists but that’s as far as it goes. If ever they looked over my shoulder and studied the words I had written, what would they see?

    A list of names.

    And not many people look over my shoulder any more but still I write my lists and I add their names.

    You see what I am writing is a record of all the people I knew, all those who came into my life one way or another; from friends and relatives to the waitress who served me coffee and the newspaper seller in the precinct. I write their names because they are no longer here and I don’t want them to be forgotten and I don’t want to forget. How else will I remember who I am? But every day it gets harder, names and faces swim in and out of memory and I look at my list in despair.

    And soon I too will be among the vanished. I can already sense the fog descending, clouding my thoughts, destroying what I am.

    Yesterday I sat here and the space on the paper remained blank.

    Today it is the same. I know there are others who should be included but they have gone, they are forgotten.

    And that is how I know it is time to finish my list.

    I write my own name at the bottom, pin the paper to my door.

    And I disappear.

    1. Nice to see you back! :) This piece is really powerful. Love it!

    2. Thank you :) - I feel really guilty when I don't take part. I think the slightly more 'normal' intro line helped ease me back into it this week ... but I do like the challenge of the off-beat!

  5. Hand Wringing
    217 Words

    “I’m not really a planner,” he says, hat wringing in his hands. An actual hat, as if he was a little boy or an old fashion Cub Scout. Who even wore baseball hats in the city anymore? Did he go search for one just to wring?

    “Okay,” I reply to fill the silence but my gaze remains on the hat.

    “I wanted it to be special and instead I ruined it.” I can’t stop the groan that leaves my mouth because, of course: his fuck up is my responsibly. I have to lean against the doorframe to support my own annoyance.

    The action brings our faces closer. Before I can help it, I look at his lips then promptly back to his eyes. His eyes are on my lips.

    “You didn’t ruin anything.” I say, because his eyes on my lips? It still lights me on fire.

    He drops his hands and the hat falls to his side. He takes a small step forward.

    “I didn’t?” His eyes become impossibly wide and I groan again, but this time it's to hide a smile. I must fail, though, because his expression morphs into hesitant hope.

    I roll my eyes and reach out to pull him through the doorframe by his collar. “Just get in here. Leave the hat.”

  6. Planner's Plight
    Maggie Akhurst
    300 words

    “I’m not really a Planner,” Pippa said in a rush.

    Devlin’s brow creased in confusion. “What?”

    “I’m not really one of the Emperor’s Planners,” she said again. “I … I was pretending to be one.”

    “But your paperwork says-”

    “It’s forged.” She studied the dusty rocks at her feet. “I needed a way to get to the Deception Caverns.”

    A curse exploded from him. “Do you realise the danger you’ve put us in?”

    She didn’t meet his eyes as she nodded. She could feel the hostile gazes of the other three team members on her.

    “My whole expedition team is at risk because of you! Planners aren’t chosen at random! They need certain skills in order to guide teams through the Caverns unharmed. You could get us all killed!”

    “I didn’t have a choice,” she whispered. “My twin brother went into these caves with another team. They never came back.”

    “Then he’s probably dead.”

    Pippa flinched at the harsh words. Everyone had said the same thing, but she refused to believe it.

    Devlin’s voice became gentler. “I’m sorry you’ve lost your brother, but everyone knows you can’t survive in the Caverns for more than a day. How long have they been missing?”

    “Six days.”

    He took a sharp breath. “Pippa, there’s nothing I can do. Six days in the Caverns is certain death. I’m not risking the lives of my team to find a dead man, especially when I don’t have a Planner to find the traps. We’re lucky to have gotten this far, but we’re heading back to the surface now.”

    She grabbed his shirt as he turned to leave. “Please, Devlin! I know my brother is still alive! I can’t leave him behind.”

    He sighed. “I’m not going further without a Planner, Pippa. Sorry, but your brother is gone.”

    1. Ooh, this sounds like a much longer story. I want to know about the Caverns :)

    2. Thanks Steph, it does seem like an interesting one to explore more of! :)

  7. @firdausp
    (299 words)

    'Strange encounter'

    "Hi! I'm—"

    "There you are, and I thought you'd never arrive," she grabbed my hand and pulled me inside, "we have a wedding to plan..."

    "But I'm not a—"

    "...I have a long list of things I want," she continued leading me into a large living room.

    "—wedding planner." I was still saying but of course she wasn't listening.

    She looked to be in her mid twenties, and I could see she was pregnant.

    She slumped onto a couch,
    "Make yourself at home," she gestured to a chair, I hesitated.

    "Could you pour me a cup of tea, please," she looked tired. I couldn't help but comply.

    I poured us a cup each.

    "What do you think about flowers?" she asked taking the cup I offered.

    "They're lovely."

    "Roses or orchids?"

    "Hmm..." I shrugged as I took a sip from my cup.

    The warm liquid slid down my throat and it felt good after wandering on the streets, looking for my hotel. Getting lost in a strange city isn't fun and when the first person you ask for directions pulls you inside their home, it gets...interesting.

    "I'm so confused about the whole thing," she groaned.

    "You are?"

    "It's all because of this," she looked down at her bloated stomach.

    "I see," I tried to sound sympathetic.

    "I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that," she sighed, "it's the hormones."

    "Probably," I nodded and got up to leave.

    She looked confused.

    "Well, I'm not really the planner," I confessed.

    She finally heard me and flushed.

    "But you said—"

    "I did not, you assumed."

    "And I thought God was punishing me, by sending a wedding planner as handsome as sin."

    This time I blushed.

    "I know the Devil sent you," she laughed.

    Chuckling, I stepped outside, into the strange city.

  8. Before the Taxman got Uncle Al

    I’m not really a planner. Not a serious planner. Oh, I make lists. Everyone does that, I’m sure.

    For me the making of lists started back in the dustbin of time. I was a Chicagoan, born and bred.

    My old man had been a bit of a rounder. In his youth he hooked up with Diamond Jim Colosimo who ran a string of brothels in Chicago. The old man was just one of a posse of mugs who served as bouncers for Big Jim, The job was simple. Keep the peace and make sure the clients who frequented these dens of sin paid up.

    Simple, eh!

    By the time I was hatched in ’26, the old man had found a less stressful occupation, a bouncer in a Speakeasy.

    Big Jim was long dead, offed by his nephew Johnny Torrio who in turn, a year before I was born, wisely stepped aside for my Uncle Al.

    Now Torrio had been a planner. He organized the gangs and left a smooth running machine. Well, as smooth running as his hoods would permit.

    Uncle Al was a bit chaotic in his thinking. The syphilis didn’t help. However, he benefited greatly by how the outfit, the organization, had been consolidated by Torrio.

    I was a peculiar child.

    Once I learned how to work my hands, play, flick my digits, I began to order my environment.
    Neither of my parents lived structured lives. I had to organize my diapers; later on, my socks, my underwear and, eventually, out of the life.

    Uncle Al, and here I need to be clear that he wasn’t really my blood uncle, it’s just that once the old man started bragging on how “neat” I was, well, Al just had to see that kid.

    Later, he started babysitting.

    Go figure.

    300 prohibition moments