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Friday, 21 January 2011

Maximum

Roger had a maximum of twelve days to live.

The doctors had calculated his expected life span based on a number of important criteria including his weight, his urine output, and the size of the tumour on his kidney.

Granted he had done some research on his own -- the internet is such a valuable tool -- and considered the doctors' calculations to be off by at least fifteen hours, give or take sixteen minutes.

As a good scientist, he decided to use his time in the utmost of utilitarian fashion. He broke down the days into four hour segments, and assigned a variety of tasks to each segment. The more pedantic items were accomplished first: the catering and urn selection at the funeral home, the beneficiary and executor finalizations at the lawyers' office, and, of course, the appropriate adoption protocol for his cat, Fluffy, to ensure her continued life. After all, he could not possibly die and leave Fluffy's life in the hands of animal shelter workers who would just as soon euthanize her than find her an appropriate adoptive placement.

The hospice workers worried that Roger would have fewer than twelve days to live if he continued to work so fiendishly on his to-do list. However, he had decided that he would end his life just as he had lived it so far, with his nose pressed ever so firmly against a grindstone, metaphorically speaking, of course.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Quixotic

Walter had always imagined a day when he would don his quixotic robes and stride off to save the damsel from the vile and vicious Dr. Terrible. However, Walter was more a dreamer than a doer, and his robe was an ugly plaid bathrobe, and though damsels regularly appeared in his daydreams, he was not actually acquainted with one in reality.

His idea of an exciting Saturday night involved pizza with an exotic topping like hot peppers, and a few hours of Xbox live play in a game like Halo. And, to be honest, he got his ass kicked so quickly that few regulars would allow him on their teams.

One Thursday, on his long train ride home, he was planning what he would concoct for dinner from the leftover liver and rutabagas in his refrigerator, when a somewhat plain young woman took the sole remaining empty seat beside him.

"Hello," she said.

"Hello," he returned.

They smiled politely, then buried their noses in their books.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sheep, die, moon, alien, house, tree, airplane, key, chaos

A wonderful friend sent me some "story cubes" as a holiday gift. For the first time, I'm using them for my word-a-day inspiration. I got the nine words (as symbols) that are the title. Below, find the story that used all nine.

I lay in the wet grass, staring up at the night sky. The moon, half full, had a yellow tinge to it, as though some stray animal like a sheep had pissed on it for not having any graze worthy vegetation. Catching movement in my peripheral vision, I began to piece together an elaborate wish for the shooting star; something involving a trip to Vegas and a die or two that would only roll sevens and elevens.

The star turned out to be an airplane. No big winnings in my immediate future.

I rolled onto my side, trying to shuffle off the tree root that had been digging a permanent kink into my left hip. Had to be a root, 'cause it sure as hell didn't feel like a rock. But the nearest tree was a good hundred yards behind me.

Rifling through the grass, I felt around for the perpetrator.

It moved.

Not on its own or anything, it wasn't a bug or a critter for that matter. I wiggled it free of the ground and held it up. The night was way too dark to make out any kind of detail, and I didn't have my phone with me to use as a flashlight. But from what I could tell, it looked unnatural, and yet not man-made either.

I shuddered.

Because I'm the kind of gal who doesn't believe all the hokum that's been batted around town, and there isn't any such thing as an alien, let alone space ships full of bug-eyed big-headed freaks that abduct people and take them back for some unmentionable probing of nether regions and such. Giving it another look, I settled in on the idea that it was a piece of a key. One of those old-fashioned keys named after skeletons, though they don't look like bones or have any kind of connection to Halloween or horror shows.

Without any more concern for our star-cruising neighbours, I stuffed the thing in my pocket and headed back to the house. I'd left the porch light on, so the closer I got, the less I could see of the sky above me. Somehow, all the stars seemed closer to the ground than when I decided to take a late night walk, as though they'd had some kind of eviction notice in the cosmos and the resulting chaos made them all head for safer planets.