This is an exciting event. We left Year 1 with a bang, thanks to our guest judge Sara Codair! (We won't see Si until she regains internet in like two or three weeks, by the way.)
A year ago, we were a fledgling competition (okay, we still are, but that's besides the point) and struggling to get the news out to people that we were even out in the world. Now, we have regulars and repeaters and such an awesome community here that it makes me smile.
Thank you to everyone who participates here. You really make it worthwhile.
(Also, the 4th of July is on Monday. Who else is stoked for a 3-day weekend (among fellow Americans, anyways)?)
(Honorary crying eagle picture for Si:)
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!). One entry per person.
Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!
Results announced: Next Wednesday afternoon.
Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).
"The insurance company warned us about you."
By Ronel Janse van Vuuren
‘The insurance company warned us about you.’
‘And yet here we are,’ I answered, not sure what their eyes were searching for.
The smoke filled everything; hid everything; revealed only parts of the story.
‘What’s that smell?’ the brunette asked, scrunching her nose while peering through the smoke like she could actually find anything.
I smirked. They had been warned and still they came calling.
‘I’m not sure this was such a good idea,’ her blonde friend said, taking a step back.
‘Are you reneging?’ I asked softly, narrowing my eyes.
‘Of course not! It’s just…’
‘This wasn’t what we’d expected,’ the brunette said quickly, obviously afraid of what I might do next.
‘Breathe in the smoke. Once it clears, you’ll have what you asked for,’ I said before turning to leave.
I turned back and crossed my arms.
‘It smells burned.’
I cocked my brow, trying not to laugh at their confusion.
‘If it’s burned, how will it be the best birthday cake ever?’
‘It won’t. You asked for cookies.’
I cackled as the smoke cleared and the cookies baked and iced to look like feathers, snowflakes and butterflies were revealed.
‘No buts. Your party will be amazing. People will be talking about it for years.’ I laughed softly, mockingly. ‘At least you’ll be able to listen, if not join the conversation.’
I left the perfectly set-up event, the smell of icing and freshly baked cookies following me in tendrils of smoke. The dumbstruck girls will have a lot of cleaning to do, silently, once the party was done and the price was paid in full.
Posted on behalf of Sharon Ruth Parkinson who can't get online but dearly wants to participate. :)ReplyDelete
Sharon Ruth Parkinson
"The insurance company warned us about you," I said with a grimace, "So I'm afraid I'm not going to take you up on your offer."
"Warned you?" The salesman put on an exaggerated frown.
"Yes, wait, let me read you the neuro-message. Ah, here it is:
'Global Insure do not cover the following:
Goods bought from Gods, Goddesses, Angels, Demons, Ghosts, inclusive of all things or bodies supernatural, foreign entities or beings otherwise referred to as aliens.’ So there you have it. No deal!" I shrugged.
He frowned again. "And why does that exclude your business with me?"
"Because you’re an alien salesman." I snapped. "I have dealt too often with you people and know you are all crooked, power hungry and vicious. I am not interested in dealing with your kind. I do not trust you and am not surprised that no insurance company will deal with you either."
"That's racist!" The salesman raged. "You can't lump us all in the same vein just because of a few."
"Oh no!" I quickly denied, "I don't. I have several friends from your planet but they don't try to sell me obsolete objects."
"What do you mean?" His confusion was real this time.
"We don't use those. Not since the Domestic Transportisers were installed in all homes here." I pointed out the device in the corner.
"Erm, where am I?"
"Dargoas Four." I said, puzzled by his reaction.
"Damn! The portaliser was supposed to take me to Algarsonal Three!" He said a very rude word, pressed a button on his Portaliser and disappeared in a green haze.
"Who was that dear?" My mate asked as she came into the room.
"A spftal human trying to sell me a Portaliser!"
“The insurance company warned us about you. I’m very sorry, but we can’t accept your policy request.”
“I see.” He fell silent, staring at his highly polished shoes. They were placed precisely next to each other, expertly pressed grey slacks rising above them at an exact right angle. His slender hands – manicured to perfection – rested in his lap, cufflinks shimmering in the fluorescent glare of my office. Everything about him was trim and smart, even his slightly curling moustache.
I fought to keep my expression carefully blank, inwardly raging about the unfairness of the corporate world I operated within. This man did not look dangerous – he looked sad. He did not look like a thief ready to swindle the company out of millions. Yet, here he was. The infamous Doctor Mort had shown up promptly at oh-eight-hundred-hours, taken a seat opposite me and proceeded to request a substantial life insurance policy.
Not on his own life, certainly not. The Doctor had several healthy years ahead of him. No, he had requested policies on the lives of his adopted family members.
The silence was now stretching to uncomfortable limits. I cleared my throat. Doctor Mort looked up at me with a vaguely puzzled expression.
“Oh, I’m sorry my dear. I suppose if that’s your final answer, I should be off.” He unfolded his long frame from the chair.
“That’s it?” The words burst from my lips before I could halt them. He frowned, his resigned gaze meeting mine in a question. “I mean, you’re not even going to argue?”
“My dear lady. I have been to every insurance company on the continent, and to several abroad. I admit that my work is unorthodox, but as an intelligent man, even I can understand that no one wants to insure the living dead!”
“The insurance company warned us about you.”
Detective Doug Waterbury paused, concerned that he might have given too much away. Sometimes you had to prime the pump. She sat as still as a freshly picked cob of summer corn, her yellow skirt and blouse blazing away, her tan, rich and mahogany-red, her smile, more, really, her fire ant, red lips, poised at the ready.
“It’s been a curse. But what are you going to do? A name’s just a name.”
He cracked a barely noticeable smile at that. She was one cool cookie.
“Phyllis, honey. All the gentlemen call me Phyllis.”
“Phyllis. Times have changed. Women these days, my own wife even, they keep their maiden names.”
“That wasn’t Charlie’s way. He insisted I take his name. I told him, Charlie, I like old films. Hitching my name with yours is just asking for trouble…”
“My Charlie was an old-fashioned guy, Detective. Set in his ways.”
“And now he’s a dead, old-fashioned guy…”
Waterbury could see her tear clouds begin to bubble. “I loved the big palooka. Those blood-sucking Insurance Company leeches don’t care about that. Do I look like bloody Barbara Stanwyck? NO. I don’t. The whole thing is nuts.”
Tears started drizzling down her puffy cheeks.
“Besides, Charlie always thought I looked like Judy Garland…a young Judy.”
He had to hit her with it. “He was quite a bit older than you, right? And you were still in your teens when you first met?”
“May friggin’ December. That’s what he always said. May…”
The clouds burst.
Waterbury shook his head, opened the file and took another look at the photo of Charles Dietrichson, his body crushed to bits on the subway track.
Her alibi was solid.
It was time to go watch the stupid movie.
300 homages to Billy Wilder
"The insurance company warned us about you." Sterling said. I glanced up from the corpse and saw that he was trying to bring a little gallows humour to the proceedings. His smile looked forced though, sickly in the glare of the lights set up around the murder scene by the forensics team.
I smiled a brief, fake smile of my own and returned to the body, peeling off the latex gloves. The revival would work with or without the barrier between the corpse's skin and mine, but I've always found them a little disrespectful to the dead, as though I was touching a piece of meat instead of the receptacle of someone's soul.
A soul that, maybe, I might be able to snatch at the last embers of, coax it momentarily back into the body so that we could talk.
There wasn't much of the girl's face left, her features eroded by time and the intimacy of flies. Her temples were much too soft when I pressed my fingertips to them, but the connection was instant, as it often is when death has been traumatic. In such cases, the soul lingers around the body, like a fading radio signal desperate to be heard.
Behind me, I could hear Sterling drawing closer, curiosity overcoming his fear.
The girl's remaining eye widened, her mouth falling open. Her frayed tongue worked like a blind slug.
"Don't be scared," I told her softly. "All we need is a name."
Her eye met mine, and in it I saw the things she'd loved and would never know again. Snowflakes in her palm. Hot coffee. Her girlfriend's kiss.
"Just a name," I said again, and I felt the chill of the gun against my scalp a heartbeat before she gave me what I'd asked for.
by SueAnn Porter
“The insurance company warned me about you,” Detective Rainier said, as he looked down on the pavement into Stacey’s deep blue eyes. Her peroxide blonde hair outlined her face. Her gold necklaces scattered like spaghetti around her neck. Rings sparkled from her fingers. Although she was over fifty years old, she had no wrinkles on her face. She obviously had some work done.
Detective Rainier was new in town; he had just come up from Florida. Bob Nesmith, his next door neighbor and owner of Nesmith’s Insurance Company, clued him in. “Last month that she purposely walked past the “wet floor” signs at Walmart, wearing her usual stilettos, and fell on the tile floor. She filed a claim against Walmart, and was sure they would settle. They always did; stores don’t like the bad publicity.”
Bob continued, “Several months ago, she got a heel stuck in a grate in the sidewalk. She fell and twisted her ankle. The city paid dearly for that, but I guess someone had to keep Stacey in her stylish suits and jewels. Her boyfriend is retired and living on a fixed income.”
Today was different. A neighbor had invited her to a barbecue, and Stacey had more to drink than usual. She turned quickly, and fell off the neighbor’s deck to the driveway below.
“The insurance company warned me about you,” Rainier repeated as he bent down on the pavement and outlined Stacey in chalk.
By Sian Brighal
“The insurance company warned us about you.”
The old man withdrew, his face melding into the shadows, and muttered something to the bent form sitting next to him. The shadowy figured nodded once slowly, as though they feared a sudden move would dislodge some precarious thought.
“As such,” he continued, easing forwards so his craggy, timeworn face caught the meagre light, “I’d like to take out a policy.”
There was a soft sigh of fabric slipping over skin, and the guest heard rather than saw the couple move to grip hands under the table. His heart clenched, and he hid his disquiet by levelling the piled papers before him.
“I’m not sure I understand…” he began, drifting into silence as a gulping breath reached his ears.
The old man soothed his companion with gentle mumbles before leaning even closer, eagerness etching the lines deeper until he looked more battered stone than man.
“You do, Mr Briscombe,” he croaked. “Someone signs your policy, and within a month, they're...” His lips worked silently, the words dying on his tongue, as he tried to convey his conviction, until even they withered and were left trembling.
Briscombe looked into the blue, rheumy eyes and then past the wispy hair circling the head like a grey halo towards the hidden companion. He could hear her struggling breaths and see the effort in those slumped shoulders of trying to get through another day. He knew what they were asking, and he wished he could oblige…but that’s not how it worked. He reached out with his gift, but he couldn’t see what they wanted. She’d die soon from age and a haggard life, but he had decades: alone. Briscombe could see it.
He made a decision and slid the policy over: belief was a powerful thing
Azure a Bend Sinister between Two Rooks SableReplyDelete
By T. O. Davis
“The insurance company warned me about you,” Vivian said.
“Excuse me, but this is Human Resources.”
Vivian didn’t look up. I cleared my throat, and said, “How can I help you today, ma’am?”
“That’s better, Curtis.”
There was something in her eyes; the blue was much brighter, but this new expression did not explain why my ex-wife burst through my office door. It was probably money or our wayward daughter.
“What do you mean insurance company?”
“I’m going to be an actress.”
“So you brought all the drama here?”
“That stings, dear.”
“Don’t go, Viv. We’ve just been a little busy today; I haven’t even had time to check my email, and you bum rush me talking about insurance companies and acting. You’ve got to give me a minute to process it all.”
“You’ve always only needed a minute.”
“Now who’s stinging who?”
“Sorry, but this is my big break, and it means so much for Daniella.”
“Since when were you two on speaking terms?”
“Honey, there are many things you just don’t know.”
“You stalked her on Facebook.”
“That doesn’t matter; I’m going to be a star.”
I wanted to go for the jugular then. I could have, but I remembered the day Daniella was handed to me by the nurse. Her tiny body wrapped in white, eyes closed, fine, black hair poking out from the folds. I looked down at this baby, my daughter, and all the possibilities unfolded before me, and then her eyes opened to me and the new world she was now part of, and there was that same blue that was in her mother’s eyes now, and I knew that I couldn’t, but I also knew everything would be alright.
by Alana Dill
“The insurance company warned me about you.”
She was making coffee, even though it was 3 a.m. Still beautiful, after all those years with me in the slammer and her on the outside, making ends meet. Me? A bit shopworn.
We had to raise our voices a bit over the roar and whine of my ship (no, her ship) tearing through atmo. “Yeah? What did they say?”
“They said letting you anywhere near my ship would void my policy, and if I so much as drop a shield off the hull with you at the helm, I'd lose our girl and be grounded for good.”
Our girl. Well, that was an unexpected development.
She handed me an extruder tube. I sucked the hot coffee carefully. A droplet breached the corner of my lip, and floated airily around the galley. I like air in a space ship. Breathing is good.
“How did you respond?”
The coffee droplet careened toward her (“Sorry!”) and bopped her gently on the nose, breaking into a thousand tinier, meandering baby droplets waiting for induced gravity to kick in and take them down, once out of orbit.
She smiled, her dark, brilliant eyes meeting mine through unkempt, wafting hair. “My response was somewhat lost in translation, I think. More coffee?”
I shook my head. “So, we're on autopilot?”
“Yes, for now.” She surveyed the viewer. “Quiet out there. Not much dodging around.”
I couldn't help smirking. “You wanna go someplace dodgy?”
“Thought you'd never ask.”
“I didn't think I was gonna ask either.”
“Three years in the hole with no word? And now you have my ship.”
“Our ship,” she corrected. “My name's on the title.”
“She's a problem. Refuses to fly right without you.”
“Then let's fly.“
“The insurance company warned us about you, Mr Ribald,” says Spencer from his position behind the desk at the bus company.
Mr Ribald says nothing. He merely straightens his grey trilby.
“Three claims of whiplash as result of minor collisions on our buses in the last six months.”
Mr Ribald rubs the back of his neck. His facial expression remains unchanged.
“How you managed to provide CCTV footage to show you were on all three buses is beyond us, but nobody can be that unlucky.” Spencer leans forward and grins.
Mr Ribald can see the flecks of green on Spencer’s teeth, remnants from the salad leaves that were in the sandwich that he had for lunch. Mr Ribald knows these things; he’s observant. As he came in he spotted the packaging in the bin. He also spotted the kink in the rug that he’s going to trip on. He knows that Spencer will order him out soon, and he knows that when he falls he will and on his kneecap hard, obliterating it.
Mr Ribald is not a conman; he is merely unfortunate. He does not do these things by design or necessity. He is a man often in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s not even particularly savvy when it comes to the law. Suing became a matter of survival rather than opportunism.
So when Spencer asks Mr Ribald to leave he gets up, careful not to let his pain show on his face. He turns and takes his first step. He’s aware of the rug and the kink that will leave him unable to walk for months. When his leading leg avoids the hump, he thinks that he’s clear, but the trailing leg catches it. He feels the pain long before he hits the floor.