WritingPrompts

[TT] A child is kidnapped. Outraged, the monsters that live under their bed and in their closet vow to find them.

[TT] A child is kidnapped. Outraged, the monsters that live under their bed and in their closet vow to find them.

'I see her.' said He Who Dwells In The Closet.

She Who Watches From Under The Bed slithered along the grass and up the side of the house, her shadowy form circling the window the other monster was peering through. 'How many of them?' she hissed, in a voice that would have made any human that heard it fear the dark for the rest of their lives.

'Two.' Growled He, His voice like the grinding of rusty cleavers on bone. Blood-stained claws gripped the window sill so tightly they splintered it. 'Easy enough for us to take.'

'Yes.' She agreed, her shadows writhing in anticipation, her gleaming, scarlet eyes alive with malice'We will make them pay. We are the ones who fill children's hearts with fear, we are the ones who harden them, prepare them for the hardships to come! These... men... they are just animals.'

He nodded agreement, then stopped, his sharp, barbed form suddenly going rigid as his black eyes widened. 'We must hurry.' He said urgently. 'What they are preparing to do, it makes me wonder how they can call US monsters! They hurried to the front door, preparing to smash it down, rush in, and slaughter the men inside, when a horrible, blood-curdling voice called out

'WAIT!'

The two creatures of the night turned, to see an immense, shadowy being bearing down on them. It stood 7 feet tall, with immense, muscled arms, but no features could be made out of it in the darkness other than its horrible, yellow eyes and fang filled maw.

'We cannot wait, That Which Waits In The Basement.' He explained. 'The Humans are about to... to...' He shuddered at the thought.

'AND IF YOU BARGE IN THERE THEN THE GIRL WILL SEE YOU.' Said That. 'SHE WILL SEE YOU IN THE LIGHT, AND SHE WILL SEE YOU HELPING HER. DO YOU REALLY THINK SHE WILL STILL FEAR YOU AFTER SHE SEES THE TRUTH OF YOUR FORMS AND AFTER YOU SAVE HER?' The monsters were silent for a moment.

'That Which Waits In The Basement is right.' Said She. 'We cannot be seen, especially not helping her.'

'But we must do something!' Cried He. 'Those men must be stopped! How can we do it without being seen?'

'WE CANNOT.' Said That, as a smile crept over its face. 'BUT I BROUGHT ONE WHO CAN.'

It pointed behind them. The other two monsters whirled around to find no-one there, and the house door wide open. Screams began to echo from the house, male screams, as something skitter fast and cruelly lethal set to work on the abductors. All the while the girl screamed; the confused, petrified scream of a little girl not knowing what was going on, but knowing it was terrifying. Before long the screams of the men died away, leaving only the sobs of the girl. As lights began to come on all along the street, the monsters quickly retreated into the dark shadows between the houses.

'What was that?' asked He in awe.

'THAT WOULD BE ME.' Said a sibilant voice directly into his ear. 'THE BREATH ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK.'

Edit: Wow this got way more attention than I thought it would, thanks to everyone, especially those who gilded me. To those of you asking for more; if I can get inspired for more of the same I will, however dont hold out too much for it because one of my pet peeves is when good stories or ideas get milked too far and end up just continuing for the sake of quantity over quality.

Take my money and make it a movie!

Thanks, though I wouldnt know how to properly design the monsters to convey the level of creepy I picture in my head when I think of them

When I got to 342 Lilac Lane, I crept through the closet door, a liquid shadow. My dripping claws like crude oil grazed the jamb. Melding with the pitch corner of the room, I glanced at the bed. With the little ponies on the covers.

I expected to see a familiar tuft of red hair. The scraggly dark ginger coils and the galaxy of freckles on unexpected bronze skin. An admittedly endearing blend of two physically contrasting mature humans.

But there was nothing in the bed. Nothing at all. The window was strew open. The covers haphazardly thrown over several lumpy pillows.

I became aware of voices outside. I ghosted to the window, the red and blue flashing against and through my darkness.

The child was gone.

My job is to teach the children fear. Alertness. Self preservation. Self reliance. When even adult humans abandon them in their rooms, expect them to ignore their own terror, tell them it's their "imagination" or they're "seeing things," it is I that they fear.

I do not harm. I never harm. I only teach. I am only fear.

Today Lorelei was learning fear from another. Unacceptable.

I sniffed. The little one. Cinnamon. Baby Magic soap. Dandelions.

I sniffed again. This time, not familiar. Tobacco. Wood, burning. Leather. Oil. Exhaust. Pine. Sweat. Blood. Spittle. A stranger. A deadman.

I felt rage smelt in me. My dark hand vibrated with it. I was it.

Like a bat I shot through the window sill crack and slipped into the night.

The smell of that soap guided me through different places. Far. I melded with the shadows of suburban houses. Then under cars on the boulevards. Through the metro area. The trash became more pronounced. The glitter of broken alcohol bottles signaled drunken crafts.

The strangers scent mix became stronger. I darted through the shadows until I was brought to a house. I melted into the corner of the door, the light above it broken.

Inside was a den of ill. Women laying about. Some bound. Others high.

I followed the scent of the little girl. Inside a room. In a bed without ponies. Instead a crusty duvet.

The man with her. He was standing there.

I was anger incarnate. The lights in the room burst. My power grew with the darkness. I flooded his mind, his vision, his soul with dark thoughts. With fear and wretchedness and disgusting things. I made him fear me the way she fear him. I made him a small girl in a foreign land sold away from her parents and made a slave. I made him cower and scream and experience the hell he was inflicting on others until he pissed himself.

The child was crying. But I told her to shush. She felt my familiar presence.

I brought my wrath upon the rest of the people. Except the victims. I cannot save everyone.

I took Lorelei under the bed, and through the darkness until we were back on Lilac Lane. I left a note written in the darkest blood ink about the address.

I still keep an eye on Lorelei and her children to this day.

[WP] In the future, for your history final, you're sent back in time to an important date with the objective to correct a time aberration so history remains unchanged. You didn't study.

[WP] In the future, for your history final, you're sent back in time to an important date with the objective to correct a time aberration so history remains unchanged. You didn't study.

Changes you might cause will be permanent.

"Same rules as every year," droned Mr. Whisaw, who had a duffel bag under his desk stuffed with five Hawaiian shirts, six thongs, and a roundtrip ticket to Lagos. "You will be monitored at all times. You will be in no danger. You must simply spot the historical inaccuracy. Correcting it yourself will earn you bonus points, but is not a requirement. Simply give your answers to your spotter and they will set things right before closing the time loop and ending your exam. Any questions?"

"Yes," said Pia Sadiq, gripping the edges of her desk. "Which...exactly which period will we be...y'know...where're we going?"

"This is your final exam," said Mr. Whisaw coldly. "Any period that has been discussed in this class is a possibility."

"Oh," said Pia. "We...we covered a lot this year, didn't we?"

Mr. Whisaw smiled. "Nearly everything."

Pia gulped. There was a Knowledge Pad balanced on her lap, hidden behind her desk. As Whisaw called students to the Time Swing, she swiped furiously through random articles, videos, and fact sheets.

"Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod," she mumbled. "I don't know who Winston Churchill is. I don't even know if he's a real person. Genghis Khan! What the hell is a Genghis Khan? Ohcrap ohcrap ohcrap."

"Ms. Sadiq?" said Whisaw. "Your turn."

Pia dripped out of her chair, slowly shuffling her way to the front of the room. The Time Swing was a chair in a sort of gyroscope. It didn't look like much. It didn't even make much of a sound when it was activated. But it worked and worked well. Pia sat down and let Barney the Teacher's Aide secure the restraining bar.

"Good luck," said Mr. Whisaw. "And remember, you don't need to fix anything. In fact, unless you're absolutely confident about the situation, you're really better off letting your spotter handle it. Understood?"

Pia couldn't tell if Mr. Whisaw was being kind or cruel in that moment. It certainly felt like a bit of both.

Before she could respond, however, the chair began to turn over, slowly at first, and then faster, and then so fast she wasn't in the chair at all anymore. Or in the classroom. Or in the same century, for that matter.

When Pia opened her eyes she was on the floor in a small, poorly lit room.

"Come on," said a voice in the darkness. "Time to get dressed."

The voice belonged to a woman Pia had never seen before. She handed Pia heavy wool slacks and a large overcoat.

"Here's a hat, too," said the woman, handing Pia a rumpled cap. "Wear it low over your face. You want to be inconspicuous. You don't look quite like the locals."

"Where are we?" asked Pia.

"You know I can't say that," said the woman. "Hurry up. I'll take you to the location."

Pia threw on the clothes and followed the woman out the door and into the street. It was a warm, breezy day. Men and women pushed past, paying Pia no attention. They were dressed similar to her, though most wore thinner coats or long, formal dresses. It felt like summertime, after all. A trolley rolled by. Pia had absolutely no idea where they were.

"Come on," whispered the woman, pulling Pia along up to an intersection. Pia bumped into a man who said something in a language that was not English. That narrowed things down at least a little.

"Here," said the woman, pushing Pia up to the edge of the curb. "Your exam begins now."

Pia was bewildered. It was the past, obviously, but how far back, she couldn't say. And where, she was equally lost. Moreover, there was nothing to see. Just people streaming past, some queuing up around her and on the other side of the street.

A parade, maybe, thought Pia. But how many historically significant parades could she name?

The people there on the street became excited. Some yelling. Some cheering. Some, a few, jeering. Still, Pia couldn't see the cause of their excitement. Imposing men bustled past. Police, maybe? Or soldiers? They looked very official and all of them were armed.

Finally, Pia saw it. A car. A very old sort of car. The type with no roof and those big, narrow bicycle-looking tires. A man and a woman sat in the back of the car as it moved slowly down the street. Pia could tell they were important. Royalty, maybe? The President of wherever they were? The man wore a red and white sash and a strange many-tiered hat. The woman was dressed in white. Her enormous, wide-brimmed hat was covered in real flowers.

There was a scuffle in the street. A man had run out towards the car. He held out a gun and took aim at the man in the car. He pulled the trigger - once, twice, three times. But the gun did nothing. The man was surrounded by police. The car tried to get away, though it was stymied by the swarming, hysterical crowd.

"Your answer?" said the woman. Pia had momentarily forgotten all about her.

"I..." There was nothing. She had nothing. "I don't know," said Pia softly. "I don't know what that was."

"Not even a guess?" said the woman. "This counts for 30 percent of your grade."

"Some...king." Pia shook her head. "I don't know."

"That's Franz Ferdinand," said the woman, pointing at the man in the car. "Archduke of Austria. He's to be assassinated today. It's a major catalyst to the beginning of World War I." She patted Pia on the back. "Don't stress out about it. It's just a history class. It's not the end of the..."

Pia saw the gun flash what seemed like hours before she heard the bang. She had not been watching the gunman and the police or even the Archduke and his wife. Instead her eyes had been on another man in the crowd, young and angry. Maybe he had been with the gunman. Maybe not. All the same, he drew his own gun and aimed it at the police. And one of the police saw this and acted just that little bit quicker, drawing and firing without hesitation.

Had they been slower, though, or more cautious; had they taken the time to draw a better sight, or consider the wisdom in firing at all, surely things would have been much different.

Because they missed. Badly.

Pia's spotter was dead before she hit in the ground.

The crowd - already terrified - began to push and scream and run in every direction. Already the woman's body was swallowed up in the stampede.

What did that mean? Pia was dumbstruck. What did it mean that her spotter was dead? How did she get back? How did this get fixed?

Did this mean there would be no World War I?

Pia hated history. She hated it more than math and science and every single other subject combined. What was the point of knowing what had already happened? It never changed anything. No one ever acted differently because we knew what happened before.

And no one ever told you if the things that happened - the complicated, horrible things - were good or bad. If they were necessary.

So what good was history if it never helped anyone?

All Pia knew was how things were. What her grandparents had gone through to start a new life in the United States. What her parents had sacrificed so Pia and her three brothers could have joyful, fulfilling lives. It seemed disrespectful to even consider a world where those things didn't happen, and all because Pia was too lazy to study for her history exam.

One of the policeman collapsed at Pia's feet. She reached down and pulled the pistol out of his hand.

The car hadn't gone very far.

She could catch it if she ran.

At first I was expecting a whole JFK slant, but this was better.

"What do you mean, you didn't study?" Alex had never been a sneaky person, and the loud whisper made half the class turn around, staring at both of them. Jim simply smiled until his classmates had turned back around.

"What do you think I mean? I simply didn't prepare. I stayed up late for the update to hit, by the time it actually hit the live game and I started playing..." He shrugged. "Whatever, it's not like this is a big deal anyway. I could get like, what, an E for this final and still pass the class. I'm not too bothered".

"Yeah alright, but that's an awful big risk you're taking man. Sure, you might not care that much, but for the people whose lives you might be changing that's kind of a dick move".

"Eh", Jim shrugged again. "Not like they would know any better than anyway."

By the time Jim got called to the front of the classroom his indifferent demeanor had stayed exactly the same, but inside Alex could see the doubt grow. Small pearls of sweat had formed on his face, and Alex saw his nervosity as he looked at his friend. "Moron", he mumbled to himself, before sticking up his thumb in support.

Jim stuck up his thumb as well. "Are you ready, Jim?" his teacher asked.

"Yeah, of course".

The teacher looked at him from underneath his glasses. "Alright then, good luck. You will be going back to 1776, North America..."

Jim stood in a narrow alley, his arms resting on his knees as he breathed heavily. He hid in the shadow, as the moon crawled in front of the clouds repeatedly before being hidden again. His legs burned from the sprint he had finished just moments before, as a small crowd of people had chased him through the streets. "Probably the god damn clothes", he mumbled. Little did Jim know that for every history test a package would be dropped near the drop area, providing him with every item he could possibly need. He absentmindedly rubbed his chest, trying to soften the stabs of his burning lungs. After a few minutes of resting Jim peeked into the street, the moonlight casting a silver glow on his face.

"1776", he mumbled. Right, every idiot knew that. The declaration of Independence. Philidelphia. Jefferson.

The street was clear. He pulled his sweater hoodie over his head and left the alley. What was that building called again? he wondered. Well, whatever it is, it's probably big. Fancy. Monumental.

A few inquisitive glances were thrown his way, but no one bothered him. Jim increased his pace, and many minutes later he arrived at a large church-like building, packed with a large crowd. The men standing around the building wore fancy suits and top hats, the women dressed in large dresses of expensive fabrics. Jim cautiously avoid the main crowd as he walked around them. From the almost inaudible and incomprehensible accents surrounding him, Jim had deduced the session was about to start in only a few minutes. He upped his pace.

As he arrived at the building a group of guards, in what Jim thought to be antique equipment, searched every visitor that wished to enter. Guards were posted at every entrance. "Shit", Jim mumbled. A rumble went through the crowd, and loud murmur erupted. Later Jim would find out that one of the Connecticut representatives, Roger Sherman, should have already arrived but was running late. The guards quickly discussed and six out of eight went back inside the building. "Better now than never", Jim mumbled.

He sneaked across the edges and corners of the building before he arrived at the main steps. Simply keeping his head down Jim climbed up the stairs and headed for the entrance. As he almost set his foot on the doorstep one of the guards blocked his way. He screamed at him, and Jim heard the words "What" and "doing".

He cleared his throat. "I'm a...simple servant of the representative from...uhh...New Hampshire. I was...designated to...deliver something to him at this very moment." He paused, anxiously waiting for an answer from the guard that stared right into his eyes. "Sir", he added.

"Very well", the guard mumbled, and stepped aside. Jim attempted a respective bow and quickly hurried inside. Men with dedicated steps walked around the marble floor, and Jim imitated the demeanor of a man with a plan. He walked around the building looking for anything that could be interesting for his test, until he reached a guarded office. He stood in front of it, waiting for the guard to address him. "Yes?"

"I'm...servant of the New Hampshire representative, and I would like to enter to deliver an important message."

The guard scoffed. "Mr. Jefferson is busy at this hour".

Jim nodded. "Of course, sir, which is why it's of great importance that I see him right away. My representative was...very clear with his instructions. Sir."

The guard looked at his colleague, who shrugged. "Go ahead". He opened the door.

The office was organized, piles of paper neatly stacked on the desk. The curtains were closed, and only a small lamp illumated the room. A thick leather couch and dark wooden chairs, their seating covered with dark red fabric filled the room. Bookcases covered the wall, and Jim looked at the thick books that undoubtedly covered years of forgotten knowledge and history. A loud "Yes?" startled Jim.

A man with a powdered wig looked at him, his eyebrows frowned. That's actually him. Jim cleared his throat. What the hell am I even doing here? Nothing that I've seen so far isn't right.

And then an idea popped into his head. History. Right...it's not right or wrong. It's just indifferent. But I can make it right.

"Mr. Jefferson, I am Jim Neelon, and I am a representative of the Black Population of the soon to become United States of America. I have many things to say, and I am sure a man of your stature will be interested in what I have to say." He paused, and a name entered his mind. "I come here with urgency, from Sally, who is very important to me. And you. Sir".

Jefferson stared at him, puzzled, his dark eyebrows almost disppearing in the white of the wig. Then he shrugged and put out his hand. A black and a white hand shook that day, a day that was never supposed to happen, and it changed everything.

Remember, no English.

awwww yeaaaah, got that smooth Call of Duty reference.

[WP] Compared to the rest of the galaxy humanity is by far the friendliest. To many star systems they are considered "the good neighbor," and are known for their helpfulness. One day an oblivious system declares war on humanity, only to find half of the galaxy responding to humanity's plea for aid.

[WP] Compared to the rest of the galaxy humanity is by far the friendliest. To many star systems they are considered "the good neighbor," and are known for their helpfulness. One day an oblivious system declares war on humanity, only to find half of the galaxy responding to humanity's plea for aid.

EDIT: Tfw this prompt gets 100+ upvotes and still no story

EDIT: Nice, we got a story.

EDIT: Wow we got a lot of stories! Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.

Da!'kzor looked up as the human emissary to the eternal court entered. The pink, bipedal alien prostrated itself longer and deeper than was strictly necessary; but Da!'kzor had long learnt his kind did so out of respect to his race's traditions and not as a form of veiled insult. "These humans are so much friendlier than those obnoxious Alpha Centaurianeese", he thaught to himself.

"Rise Human", his speaker said. "His majesty, the Emperor Da!'kzor, the eternal light, the defender of the Pascor Belt, the flame of..." the speaker droned on for quite some time listing all of Da!'kzor's titles, so he stopped listening for a few minutes "... the forger of chains and progenitor of all will receive you now."

Now the emissary presented the traditional gifts of his people: A bottle of that dark and sweet liquid his thirty first wife liked so much and a box of sticky round... things with a hole in the middle.

"Honored Emissary I hope you have not come to speak to me about this Democracy thing again. Your people seem to fare quite well with it; but I doubt it would work in the eternal court. Just imagine, the nobles having a say in the government" Da!'kzor suppressed a disgusted shudder.

"No you eternal highness", the human said. "I am here for a matter of grave importance"

"Oh, is it about the Water again? If I remember correctly we gave you back all we borrowed from your oceans; and a bit more as compensation for your troubles" Da!'kzor said with an apologetic voice not-befiting his station. He found it difficult to keep the proper decorum around humans. They were always so... willing to help you just had to be nice to them.

"About that,..." the diplomat said with a frown, but then obviously pulled himself together. "Today I am here for another matter entirely. I am here to request the eternal empire's help"

Now THIS was interesting. Da!'kzor leaned forwards in his throne, one of his tentacles ceasing to caress his favorite concubines eyes. The humans were always willing to help, but had never before, not ever since first contact hundreds of years ago, requested any kind of aid.

Hesitantly the human diplomat continued. "We do not wish to bother the Eternal Empire with politics of earth; however the Felurians have seen fit to declare war upon us. I was sent here to ask, kindly, for the eternal empire to come to our aid in our time of need."

A few Days later...

Earth was a magnificent sight Da!'kzor mused as he studied it from the Earth's Flagship's Observation deck. If the humans weren't such nice fellows he might have conquered it himself.

Finally Earth's Generals entered. The looked like a hard bunch of specimen, old and scarred and with the cold look of warriors in their eyes. Of them Da!'kzor approved. However he did not approve of the assembled high command of a hundred other species entering the large room, more a stadium than a room really, entering with them.

"What are they doing here?" he snarled, encompassing the assembled military genius of just about all space faring races in the universe with a waving of his central eye socket.

"You highness," a general interjected. "The eternal Empire is not the only government in the universe to have pledged to help humanity in this hour of need"

From the crowd a snickering could be heard. Doubtlessly that would be Rattak the high Admiral of the Alpha Centaurianeese deep-space navy. His nemesis, his Arch-enemy. The thorn in his side, the bramble in his shoe on his way to universe-domination. He drew himself up to his full height to end er once and for al, but then thought better of it. This was no time for petty quarrels over who controlled what quadrant of the galaxy. The humans needed him, and her to stop the might of the Felurians, and he would stand by their side in their hour of need.

The war was over in fewer days, than it had taken to assemble the great fleet of the grand coalition. Soon the red and white flag of earth flew over the King's palace on Feluria, the government had been reformed and the Felurian people now paid tribute to the earthlings they had so dismissively sought to vanquish.

"Truly a great day", General Xi Liauging from Beijing, Earth thought. The maple leaf insignia on his uniform caught the light of the burning capital. "Soon my beloved Canada will hold sway, from one end of the galaxy to another"

Holy Canada, what happened here? I think this one Writing promt got more than 10 times as many up votes than all my previous posts together! You guys really love Canada don't you?

Found the Canadian! Good story.

I still think we should pre-emptively nuke the Canadian Moose Army just in case they take over the world.

The leader of the Saggarius Force stood on the deck of her ship, looking out into the endless abyss of space, contemplating life. She had been in charge of the Saggarius for nearly six star cycles, with the blessing of the World Leader, of course. In this time, she had fought many battles, and conquered many planets. But Skuuval was sure that her greatest achievement was the peace treaty with Earth. The humans had been helping out around the galaxy for a few hundred years at this point. They sent ships out to re-fuel and fix other ships in the middle of nowhere. They sent humanitarian efforts to revitalize planets and stabilize their environments. They had even given refuge to others who had lost their planets. Skuuval and her leader had been impressed. So impressed, in fact, that--

"General Skuuval!" A gargling voice interrupted her musings, and she turned her harsh red eyes on the interrupter, signalling them to continue, "Earth is sending up many distress calls, The Ypnglick seem to be attacking them! We have messages in from Puunsft forces and Qwertyuiop forces who sent the signal further out and are already heading to their aid. What are our orders?"

Skuuval stood in the deep thought for a moment, remembering when her ship had been stranded when she was a young flight coordinator, and Earthlings had helped her. Or when her own son had needed a safe place to land to have repairs done. Not only had Earth allowed him to land, they had helped fix his ship. Not to mention Earth's leader, Sarah, had been the first Earthling, moons ago now, to tell Skuuval that she was a very pretty alien, and that one day she would help her.

"Whoever dares attack Earth, attacks us. We go to war."

By the time they arrived, it appeared as though the sky itself was a giant wave made of spaceships from every known system in the galaxy. But it seemed to quickly be disappearing.

"Where is everyone going? Are they all cowards? Get me the leader of Puunsft, immediately!" Skuuval thundered into the control room. She soon found the grotesque head of Rreuunsft on her screen, his head seeming to ooze with every labored breath he took, "Ah, Skuuval! Long time no see." He coughed and wheezed at the end, pulling up a piece of cloth to blow slimy mucous into, "What do I owe the pleasure?"

"Where are your troops going? Will not one stand against the Glick's?"

Rreuunsft laughed, globs of mucous nearly missing the screen, causing Skuuval's nose holes to crinkle in disgust. Finally quieting, Rreuunsft answered, "Oh, no! The Glick's are entering into a treaty with Earth. They didn't know they were the Friendly Neighborhood System, you see, the Glick's computers had been down for a few hundred years due to some infighting."

Skuuval tilted her head one way, then the other, contemplating, "But how is it over so fast?"

"Well, they sent up a ship of delegates, and from what I understand, they brought muffins and cakes and sushi, and then let them use their wifi, and showed them all the Earthling classics. I think the Glick's were finally won over by that Rick-Rolling thing the Earthlings laugh at so much."

" Did they show the Biden meme gallery in the Earth museum? Those are my personal favorite."

"Oh, yeah. They also introduced them to Reddit"

"...They're never going to leave, now."

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[WP] After years of searching you've found bigfoot, but not the actual being, but the grave. You see several other figures, holiday figures to be exact, all crowded around paying respects. One of them starts to tell you the tale of "The Holiday That Was Never Meant to celebrated"

[WP] After years of searching you've found bigfoot, but not the actual being, but the grave. You see several other figures, holiday figures to be exact, all crowded around paying respects. One of them starts to tell you the tale of "The Holiday That Was Never Meant to celebrated"

I find him deep in a hill.

Figures I know from my childhood surround him. One asks if I was a friend, I say no. He offers me a seat anyway. I look around myself to find myself lost inside the pain of real friends. The Easter Bunny is sobbing uncontrollably. I can hear pained murmurs in between huffs of breath, but I can't make out the words. Santa has a glaze in his eyes. They've dulled over, and he's just staring off into the distance.

And I'm just a stranger too curious for my own good.

I hear a knock on a podium at the front. A small baby with wings dressed in a neatly fitted suit is floating above it, awaiting everyone's attention.

"Thanks for coming," He says with a slight choke. "That was a bit formal, wasn't it." He looks at the piece of paper he has laid out in front of him. "Bigfoot was a great Sasquatch. Always down for a laugh, or something new to do. Just had to make sure he couldn't be seen," The cherub laughs to himself lightly. "I haven't got much to say... you know."

A few bursts of pain flow into the crowd. Freshly torn tears from already aching eyes.

"I'm just gonna miss him. And, uh, it isn't going to be the same without him around. And I thought it would stop hurting, but it hasn't, and I'm just going to miss him." A couple drops trickle down his cheek and passes the crevices of his mouth. He coughs into his closed hand and floats off into a seat.

A shadow figure takes his place. Tendrils of pitch black leak off her form, and the blood in my chest runs cold.

"So me and Biggy were close," She says nonchalantly, "Me being Halloween and all. He was somewhat scary, so, we resonated on that. Since, well, we all can't forget he was meant to be a holiday too."

A hushed yelp comes from the front row. Halloween looks down to see Santa brought back into this world. A crooked smile is on his face, as he shakes his head 'no' repeatedly.

"Bigfoot was gonna be 'The Hide-And-Seek-Monster'. He spent, years telling us all about it. He said 'I've planned a day, and everyone is going to come. I've told them that no matter what they'll find me at the end of the day, and it'll be real fun.' I'm paraphrasing, of course, he probably swore a lot more than that." A couple laughs slip out of a few weary mouths. "I remember, distinctly, he came to me and said 'Halloween,' he said, 'This is going to be insane.' I said 'You sure?' he goes "One hundred percent mate. Certain.'"

Halloweens leans on the podium forward slightly, a gigantic smile on her face. "Certain." She says, and a few more laughs emerge. "So, the day comes, and we're all thinking 'He must be so excited, let's just go support him.' So we go, and uh, he's not ready. We ask him, 'What's wrong?' and he goes," Halloween turns her face away for a second and laughs to herself.

"I shit myself."

Santa bursts into laughter, unable to contain himself anymore.

"I shit myself, and I can't get it out of my fur. So, he didn't participate at all. And when no one found him, they figured it was all made up." Everyone around me is laughing themselves silly. Their faces are a portrait of the most bizarre mix of pure sadness and unbridled joy, while I sit here, captivated by the moment.

"And that was The Holiday That Was Never Meant To Be." Halloween says, a few tears crawling into her eye. "And I'm going to miss this bastard every day."

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And that's how April 1st came into being.

This is the realest description of a funeral I've ever seen. Its really accurate to the actual level of emotion in the room, well done.

I cut off a few branches from the tree in front of me and stepped into the clearing illuminated by the morning sun. And the scene I saw was, well, impossible. I'd think it was more likely that I was near some psychedelic flowers or something than the the scene in front of me being real.

And this is form the guy who's been hunting Big-Foot for the last ten years.

Right in the center of the snow covered clearing, in the middle of the damn Himalayas, there were people. People crowding around a grave. There were only four of them, but they were completely, distinctly different. One of them was Santa.

You begin to see my skepticism with this whole situation.

The other was dark haired woman, dark skinned woman. She was almost six and a half feet tall, the tallest of the group, and her full-body dress seemed like it was changing color. There was also no snow around her, in fact, as she walked around the grave and touched it, I swear I saw the snow melt, and flowers begin to grow.

You know, in the Himalayas.

The other two seemed perfectly normal looking, on was a young teenager and the other was a guy in a suit, but judging by their company they were probably aliens or something.

But there was something even more unsettling going on. More so than aliens around a grave, yeah.

It was quiet.

Now this may seem really minor, but to anyone who's spent a lot of time in the wilderness knows this never happens. Even in the snow, there are birds chirping, branches rustling, small animals scurrying through the snow and up trees, wind blowing.

But there, in that clearing, it was as if the world was holding its breath, no wind, no movement except from the people in the clearing, and no sound, at all. I was afraid to even move, lest I disturb this perfect moment. More so than the people, I would remember that moment my entire life, the stillness of the trees, the mountains peeking out behind the treeline, and the sun shining down on that snow covered clearing.

Naturally, it was exactly at that moment that I suddenly, inevitably, sneezed.

It was comical really, the sound echoed throughout the clearing, and I saw a couple of flocks of birds take to the skies from the forest, chirping loudly, and the spell that had been lain on the clearing shattered completely for a moment.

And all four were looking intently at me. Santa, the tall woman, this one girl, a teenager by the looks of it, in jeans and a tank-top with a sword on her back, and a man in a suit.

"Err...hello," I said. Socialite extraordinaire, that's me.

Santa broke the silence, as can be expected, with a rolling laugh, and I let out a breath that I didn't realize I'd been holding as the others joined him. The tall woman laughed loudly, the girl grinned, and even the man in the suit smiled slightly.

"Big Fred would've loved that" said Santa, "like Jesus Christ, man, we're having a moment, and you come in here and sneeze..." He devolved into incomprehensibility as he started laughing again.

I was pretty sure at this point, they weren't going to kill me, and though it had been years since I'd held any meaningful conversation with someone else, it seemed rude to just stand there far away. I came up to them and the grave and offered my hand to the woman, "Jared," I said, with a smile, "I apologize for the intrusion, ma'am."

She smiled, a smiled that made my heart beat faster, and returned the handshake. "I'm mother nature," she said, "you know Santa of course," then she trend to the girl, "this is Hekate, and," she continued, turning to the man in the suit, "is Death."

She said it like it was the most normal thing, like she was saying, "Oh and this is Mr. Johnson," not introducing a goddess and freaking Death. "I...I see," was all I could manage, and Nature smiled, and I knew what effect this whole thing was having on me.

"So...what exactly are you guys doing here?" I asked.

"We could ask you the same thing, Jared," Hekate said with a bit of indignation.

"I'm a, err, hiker," I said.

Death smiled and Hekate snorted. "As if," she said, "No one comes here."

I felt a bit uncomfortable. I didn't want to admit, you know, that-

"You were looking for bigfoot?"

I turned to stare at Death, the first time he'd spoken. There was no use in denying it, I'm pretty sure me staring open-mouthedly at Death had given it away.

Hekate scowled at me, "well good job, human, you've done it!" Her hair began to slowly stand on it's end, and I took a step backward. But Nature was suddenly next to Hekate and put a hand on her shoulder. "Sorry," Hekate said miserably, wringing her hands, "I..."

"To answer your question, Jared," Santa said, "we are here to celebrate Fred, or as you know him, Big Foot, on his Birthday. We do it every year."

I blinked. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

"Big foot is...dead?" I asked, deathly quiet. I'd spent years chasing after a dead guy?

"Yes," Death said simply. He seemed like a credible source, "Though we celebrate today to make sure he lives on-"

"Right here," Nature finished, pointing to her heart. "Would you care to join us in celebration?"

"I...I would love to," I said after a moment, "but what exactly are we celebrating, what did he do?"

This time Hekate grinned, a grin of pure innocence and mischief, one that most young teens have worn on their faces. "Well for one, getting people like you to look for him," she said with a laugh.

Santa laughed, "Yeah...oh man. You think I'm busy working in my workshop, but Fred...he made headlines once a month on different corners of the world!"

"Remember that thing in Argentina?" Nature asked with a smile, "when he came out of the catacomb in the ruins?"

This time Hekate rolled with laughter, "they didn't even report that one, that's how unbelievable that was" she said between gasps of laughter, "they thought all 6 archaeologists made it up!"

"And there was that thing in which he lay in that Mummy's coffin...I still laugh about that sometimes," Death said, though I had a hard time imagining Death laughing.

"He was a great guy...you know?" Nature shook her head sadly, "It's funny his Birthday falls today, everyone honors him, whether they know it or not."

"Yes...more people take part in today then in Christmas," Santa said with a sad smile, "more people laugh today then any other day in the year."

"What do you mean?" I asked, confused.

Hekate looked at me like I was an idiot. "Dude...April 1st, April's fools. Everyone pranks and lies and tricks. That's what Fred lived his life around."

I couldn't help but laugh.

(minor edits)

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[WP] After too many ridiculous and lengthy lawsuits dominate the world's courts, the world leaders decided to pass a law to remove all warning labels. The Darwin Act has just been passed.

[WP] After too many ridiculous and lengthy lawsuits dominate the world's courts, the world leaders decided to pass a law to remove all warning labels. The Darwin Act has just been passed.

Sarah Miller, exhausted from a double shift, put her green blouse into the washing machine. She poured her Clorox Bleach in and washed the garment. 30 minutes later she mindlessly threw the blouse into the dryer and set it for 50 minutes. Sarah promptly fell asleep, looking forward to her job interview for the next day. When she awoke 9 hours later, she was frantic as she knew she was going to be late for her job interview at the High Powered Business Person’s Business. She grabbed the blouse, the faint light barely spilling in from her cracked apartment windows and began to iron. The shirt exploded, engulfing her in flames. The flames quickly spread to the rest of her apartment building. 45 innocents perished because the tag that read “Do Not Bleach, Do not Machine Dry, Do Not Iron” was not on her brand new blouse.

Jonathan Sqiggles had just laid down in his bed, ready to enjoy his brand new mattress. He had gotten the mattress from Steve’s Wholesale Bedding just down the street only today. But what he didn’t know, because the label was removed, was that Steve’s Wholesale Bedding had gotten the mattress from a factory in Columbus, Ohio that had used other dirty recycled mattress to make this new mattress. The bedbug attack was so fierce and unexpected that within 20 minutes only a skeleton remained of Mr. Sqiggles.

Muldoon looked in his side view mirror and saw the T rex’s jaws gaping. However, the view in the mirror showed the dinosaur much further behind him than he had thought. He knew that they were safe, despite the screaming of Dr. Malcolm. No one listened to Malcolm and his chaos theory because he was an insufferable bore and know it all. Muldoon breathed a sigh of relief and slowed the jeep down. It wasn’t until Ellie was snatched from the passenger seat of the jeep that he realized objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. The T-rex soon ate them all. Dr. Grant, upon learning of Ellie’s death but not caring about Malcolm's, became despondent and allowed himself to be eaten as well. The dinosaurs escaped the island and invaded the mainland. No one was prepared because no one even knew that dinosaurs existed once again. New York became a dinosaur buffet.

Tommy Jenkins leaned his back against the wall at the chemical plant. He removed his hard hat and began to think of Linda waiting for him back home. He was lost in his thoughts when he brought his lighter to his mouth, getting ready to inhale that first cigarette after a long shift. He did, then the plant exploded, releasing benzene over half of Dallas County. Half a million people either died or suffered permanent damage due to the chemical cloud. The act was incorrectly labeled a terrorist attack perpetrated by North Korea and international tensions rose.

Jin Soo, a South Korean badass, finished welding the surplus jet engine onto the top of his used Volkswagen Beetle. He downed his beer, a Natural Light that a Texan sent him, and got into his car. When he was ready, he smiled at the small gathering of friends around him and uttered the last words anyone would ever hear him say: “Let’s light this candle!” His friends were standing too close behind the jet engine and quickly caught fire. The little car took off and soon found itself airborne without any way to control it. North Korea, mistaking the car for a missile attack, fired its own missiles. However, the guidance systems were so bad, probably made at a mattress company in Columbus, Ohio, that they quickly veered off course. The dear leader was right, they had been able to make missiles that could reach any continent in the world. 45 nuclear missiles landed in Antarctica and the polar ice cap was obliterated. Within a year there was no more land for people to live on. In the beginning, billions had died holding onto children’s inflatable beach balls not realizing that they were not flotation devices.

A new society would eventually arise, leading watery nomadic lives. They would have many years of trials and tribulations until a brave man by the name of Kevin Costner grew gills and saved the last of humanity by leading them to the only land left on the planet.

Author's Edit: Just wanted to drop in and say a quick thank you to all the people who have read this story. The comments have been making me laugh all morning. I love the debate about when to wash new clothes.

This is exactly the kind of story that prompt deserves! Great work.

I stretch my back as I stand from my $29 discount deluxe computer chair. The backs tattered slightly from years of use, and the wheels have gotten bits of carpet caught in them. I yawn, walk away from my cubical and through the hallways. Xerox machines, photocopiers, printers, and water coolers litter the sides like a boring Hansel and Gretel story.

I walk into the lunch room to see Patricia. She's a nice woman, I suppose. The sides of her mouth have a permanent tobacco stain, and her faux fingernails don't fit quite right.

"Oh hello darlin'," She says out to me, opening the fridge door.

"Hey," I say with a small smile. "How ya going?"

"Yeah good love, just gettin' my juice." Patricia pulls a small juice box out from the fridge and starts to walk past me. I let her go, and a waft of something bitter rubs up my nostrils.

"Oh god," I murmur to myself, swallowing a lump of vomit. I walk to one of the cabinets and rummage for something to eat. A couple of packets of Mi Goreng, dried fruit and Soup is all I notice.

Soup.

I like Soup.

I grab the can and a bowl and prepare to make my meal. I check the Can for any warning labels before I go on any further.

But... but they're aren't any there. What? There has to be a warning label; you can't just make something without one. I put the Soup down and grab a packet of Mi Goreng instead. I shake my head at the Soup and then look at the Mi Goreng for its warning label.

I get dizzy. My hands are shaking and sweating, and nausea is beginning to dance in my stomach. Sweat is building up under my eyelids, under my armpits, and deep within my shoes. I've never felt such fear before in my life. A part of me wishes for it never to end; to live in this kind of nausea ridden joy for the rest of my life. The other part wants to kill myself.

"I can do this," I grunt to myself through strained teeth. I grab the can of Soup and drag it across the counter to myself. I open the drawer, grab the can opener, and smash its vicious teeth into the cans supple flesh. I tear it open like it was paper, and feel the power surge through me. I push the bowl away, its body shattering on the ground. I laugh.

I place the metal can inside the microwave and set it to high, 1 minute. I start it and prepare. My stomach growls in anticipation of a meal well earned. Suddenly, the inside of the Microwave begins to spark. I take a step back and watch. The sparks grow rapidly, and a burst of fire erupts in the back. The screen shatters, and a few pieces scatter into the side of my face.

I crumble to the ground in pain. Blood is oozing out, and I can't see straight. I crawl towards the door, trying my best to cry out for help. I enter the hallway and turn left, but as soon as I do, my heart sinks in my chest.

Patricia lays dead on the ground. The straw from her juice box lodged in her eye socket, preventable if there was a warning label. I lift her lifeless head into my arms and scream in pain,

"Why!"

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If you planned that ending out from the very beginning then bravo, either way hilarious

[WP] When someone is murdered, their name appears on the skin of the killer. You wake up with a name on your arm and no knowledge of how it got there.

[WP] When someone is murdered, their name appears on the skin of the killer. You wake up with a name on your arm and no knowledge of how it got there.

I stared at the ink on my arm, shocked and horrified at how it got there. How did it get there?

I was terrified but I got out of bed quickly and called her number.

The ring tone went on forever, and the moment I heard her pick up the call - when the ring tone went off and there was a pause, before her voice saying "Hello!" in her usual cheery voice - I hung up the phone.

If she was okay, then why was the name on my arm? Could this be a joke? I tried rubbing it off my arm, but it wouldn't come off.

Then I got a call. My roommate.

"Dude, where are you? You gotta get here. Quick, there's no time." As quick as he had called, he had no sooner hung up. There was urgency in his voice, along with desperation. I was confused, before the message came in.

Her address.

I ran, and ran, her house was less than five blocks from mine. As I ran I called, but every time I called, it went to voice mail. Come on, pick up, come on. Pick up like you did the first time.

I stopped outside her place, seeing there was a cop car outside her place, and I saw that her door was open. Was she really?

I walked in and everyone inside stared at me. Blankly I took in the scene in front of me. Three policemen, her roommate, my roommate.

And then her. She lay right on the sofa, lying uncomfortably straight; her hands were on her stomach.

And she wasn't breathing.

I walked over to her and dropped right next to her. What had happened? Why was her name on my arm? Why was she dead?

And then I saw the letter under her hands, with my name on it.

With trembling hands I took it and opened it.

It was short and simple on one side, long and wordy on the other. But I never got to the wordy side. I now knew why her name was on my arm.

"I could never live without you. I'm sorry."

edit: thanks so much for the gold, it's my first time having a comment prompt blow up so much!

Hello thanks for reading! No, the whole point of this part was actually to be a recording, like how people say "Hello, I'm not available right now, please leave a message at the tone!" But the MC didn't realise that and ended up hanging up because he didn't want to talk to her and just wanted to check if she was okay.

[I revised the story added a much better ending. It was late last night and I was tired! Part 2 is in the replies]

[Part 1] All things considered, it was a pretty normal morning. I stretched when I woke up, looked at the clock, regretted how quickly minutes passed and then climbed into the shower. I checked the completely foggy mirror after I had once again successfully conquered the morning grogginess. I made a mental note about the dark patch across my chest and told myself to prioritize follicular maintenance sooner, rather than later. Running my hand across my chest to see the extent of the damage, I found that it was nearly entirely bare skin the entire way. Eyebrows furrowing, I looked to confirm which had failed me more, my sight or my hand. It seems I needed to make an appointment with the eye doctor instead, because what I found was a large tattoo, boldly strewn arm to arm across my chest. A tattoo of the name of my former landlord, John Kikaner. There's two unspeakable ways to get a tattoo, one is by hiring a black market tattoo artist and supplying exorbitant amounts of "insurance" money... or killing someone.

I stared and stared, wondering if I could maybe remove the tattoo piece by piece or maybe I could find some kind of flaw, somewhere. Minutes ceaselessly rolled by, my skin getting more and more red as I began rubbing, scratching, clawing at the pitch black words etched into my chest. Blood began running and I came to my senses. Thinking back on the events of the last few hours, I couldn't find anything I did that could have even inadvertently killed a man.

Surely my friends didn't do this to me. They don't have that kind of money and even if they did, while I was asleep no less, it would be hurting right now, wouldn't it? I didn't even notice it until I saw it myself. I guess Patrick’s surveillance cameras would have caught something, even. Patrick was my neighbor, he was as paranoid as can be. He recently moved in and immediately set up cameras in corners everywhere thinking no one noticed. I have the same routine every day and I didn't notice any tattoos yesterday, so it must have been yesterday. What happened? What did I do? The fear built on top of itself, more and more every second I thought about it.

I need to know what happened. I decided to call off work for the day for extraneous personal circumstances and take the matter into my own hands, before some police officer hands it to a lawyer. I had no legal connections, I'd be doomed if I set foot in a courthouse. I put a medical bandage on to cover my broken skin and made damned sure my chest was fully encased in clothing, taking on my leather jacket over my usual shirt on this fine Summer day.

I drove over to my former landlord’s house and found the police had already started an investigation. It was a rural neighborhood where people very kindly concern themselves whenever something might be happening to a neighbor. A murder in a place like this would draw out every neighbor. Someone must have seen something. A crowd of five people had begun forming on the opposite side of the street from Kikaner's house. I walked up to them and asked, "Hey, what's happening here? Did John finally lock himself out of his house?" I made up something as fast as I could. I made a plan, but I didn't know what the steps were. It had also been two years since I met the man, so it was better to be vague.

"Didn't you hear?" said a woman standing closest to the police tape barrier. "John's dead. Someone killed him in his sleep. I heard the officers say it was a vicious stabbing. Ten stabs to the chest! Can you even imagine who could do such a thing?"

"My god, I had no idea" I replied. "When did it happen?"

"Last night at around 3 AM. I never even thought someone like that could be in this neighborhood."

It seems I didn't need to do any investigating, she had all the answers I needed. I wonder if she'd suspect me if I ask too much more I contemplated. I could have passed myself off as the nosey type, I'd have fit right in. I decided to play it on the safe side and not risk any more questions. I wanted to have a plan, with steps, and a proper goal this time. I saw two police officers exiting the house and start talking behind an ambulance. I walked around as stealthily as I could to the other side of the ambulance from them and did some eavesdropping of my own.

The first officer was already describing the scene of the crime, "... bloody hand prints on the walls and doorknobs, shouldn't be too hard to get some prints. Whoever this guy is, he doesn't seem like he planned it out too well."

"Let's just hope he didn't skip town then" contributed the other officer. "Well, if he does, at least some other county has to deal with him. Say, did you really wake up with a tattoo on your chest? Right where the knife wounds were on the victim?"

"I did" began the first officer. "It was a hell of a time trying to calm down my wife. Even after I confirmed with other officers I had been working all night when Kikaner was killed, she still insisted on spending the night at her brother's."

What? He can't be meaning he has the same tattoo as me. Of John Kikaner's name across his chest.

The first officer's radio chimed in with a crackling female voice, "unit one-four come in, please, over."

The first officer replied, "uh, please restate the request, did you want unit one-four alpha or beta, over?"

The radio crackled, "Mark Steinsman, quit the joking and give the radio to a real officer. Maybe one that..."

I trailed off, losing track of the conversation. That name she said, the officer's name, Mark Steinsman. That was my name, too. But he has a tattoo as well? He said he had a bullet-proof alibi and isn't guilty, surely that must mean I'm not as well. I couldn't have done it! Someone else did, undoubtedly, but... if there are two Steinsmans here, how many more are there? Nearly reeling from the thought that I may not be guilty after all, I bumped into the concerned lady I had talked to before. She told me to be quiet or get out of the way.

Unfortunately, her talents do not include stealth or silence or honesty. The policemen had instantly stopped talking and I heard the sound of gravel crunching under shoes, getting louder very quickly. The lady must have been a great athlete seeing as she was already half way back to the crowd by the time they rounded the ambulance and found me standing there.

Annoyed, the first policeman confronted me, "Hey, what are you doing? Were you eavesdropping on us? Are you a reporter?" They strategically surrounded me to pin me against the ambulance's side, giving me no choice but to answer.

"No, of course not, I was just out for a walk." I explained.

"That's an interesting choice of clothing for a walk this time of year. What's your name?"

I suddenly wished plans were easier to make and thoroughly regretted not making more of them. I stuttered for a second and hesitantly said, "M-Mark Steinsman." They both looked shocked, but only for a second.

The second officer, the police Mark Steinsman, said, "That so? Do you happen to have your ID with you, sir?" I pulled out my wallet, one thing I finally managed to do right today, and handed him my ID, complete with everything one would need to know my name.

"I see," he said, thinking for a second. "Can you come with us, sir?"

I went with them, into their car and they began driving away. I looked back and saw the lady peeking around from the other side of ambulance again at me.

They took me to a courthouse. It took a few dozen minutes to get there, but the awkward silence between us all was almost comforting. In all its craziness, the day seemed to be quite humorous, in its own way. Two Mark Steinsmans in a police car. Going to court. Ha ha.

They escorted me in the main doors and walked for another five minutes down a huge hallway, fitted with ornately crafted mantle pieces around every one of the spaced out doors. All of them court rooms. All of them in use. We reached our designated room and I was deposited in a large box filled with chairs where the defendants were supposed to be, directly in front of the judge's podium. The police Steinsman entered as well, leaving the other officer to join the witnesses.

"A little early, are we?" said the imposing judge whose stare made me forfeit my will to answer.

Man, when I read "ink on my arm", I was convinced this was going to go in a completely different direction.

I thought the protagonist and the girl must have got smashed that night and drunkenly decided to get each other's names tattooed on their bodies. The roommate checked up on the girl in the morning and found her asleep with the protagonist's name on her body. Not wanting to wake up this apparent killer himself, the roommate calls the police... but after some fretting and thinking while waiting for the police to arrive, he decides to call the protagonist. Whoops! This was all a misunderstanding and the police will be here soon - "Dude, where are you? You gotta get here. Quick, there's no time."

While racing to her apartment, the protagonist tries to call the girl, but she lost her phone that night so it just rings out. This whole fiasco ends with the protagonist fearing the worst when he sees the police, neighbours and his roommate all gathering around the girl's apartment. He runs into the apartment knowing full-well that he is Suspect #1 in whatever crazy murder scene lurks inside.

He doesn't care.

He needs to see her... He needs to know.

He opens the door... Gets on the floor... Everybody walk the dinosaur.

[WP] Where do bad guys get their legions of goons? Well, it's all thanks to you. You specialize in supplying grunts of a wide variety to aspiring super villains, whether they need masked men with bad aim or hideous/sexy merfolk to guard their underwater lair.

[WP] Where do bad guys get their legions of goons? Well, it's all thanks to you. You specialize in supplying grunts of a wide variety to aspiring super villains, whether they need masked men with bad aim or hideous/sexy merfolk to guard their underwater lair.

“I need an army of mole men,” the very-creatively-named Mole Man shrieked. “With noses that can detect incoming heroes from miles away. And big gnashing claws!” He held up his own hands and wiggled his stubby fingers, no doubt imagining them with claws. “And… and… giant…”

“I think I get what you’re going for,” I interrupted him with my most calming tone. Sometimes these villains can get a little worked up in describing their dream henchmen. “We can certainly offer you the very best mole minions to do your underground bidding, Mole Man.” I’d gotten quite good at suppressing my urge to laugh while working here. “They’ll have claws like you’ve never seen before! And they’ll be great diggers.”

“Excellent!” His nose twitched wildly like a scared mouse, and he rubbed his hands together in that way that all villains seem to pick up from each other. But he did it a bit too enthusiastically; it nearly sent the 4”5’ man toppling off of his chair. “And you say they’ll be part man, part mole?”

“Absolutely.” I swiveled in my chair and dug through my stack of pamphlets. Past the robot and/or cyborg option, past faceless soldiers with so-called weapons training, past super ninjas with troubled pasts… “Ah, here we go!” I plucked the human/animal genetic abomination pamphlet off of the rack. “You are familiar with our work on Grizzly’s bearmen, yes?”

“Of course!” He was starting to get that wild gleam in his eyes that meant the deal was pretty much done. Supervillains are the biggest suckers out there. You show them a shiny new toy like an army of human-bear hybrids and they just have to have one of their own. “Most excellent work.”

“We can absolutely do mole men for you,” I said. “We just need you to sign our standard form contract here.” I pulled one of the binders from my drawer and thumped all six hundred pages of it onto the desk. Mole Man’s eyes widened behind his coke bottle glasses. “Just a standard agreement, saying that we will provide you with the best army that money can buy.”

“600 pages to say that?” he responded.

“Well there are the standard legal disclaimers…” I said. Like that we make no guarantee of their combat abilities or training. Or that they’ll even be semi-competent henchmen. Once they leave the lab, they’re not our responsibility anymore. “But come on. You’ve seen those Bear Men in action, right?!”

Mole Man forgot all about reading over those disclaimers and signed immediately. They always do. I could have tried upselling him to the cyborg mole men, but I figured that would be better for the second round. After his first army gets crushed by the first hero to come along, he’ll no doubt be back for more. And of course I’ll be here to tell him that if they had lasers mounted to their snouts, they would have done better.

“Pleasure doing business with you,” I told him as I ushered him to the door. “They’ll be fully grown in six to eight weeks.”

I headed back to my desk and waited a few minutes, just to be sure he was really gone. From my window, I watched him emerge from our office and then head into the parking lot and begin digging straight through the concrete, kicking up a flurry of rocks and dirt all over my BMW. I’m putting the detailing on his tab, I decided. Then I reached for my phone.

“Hey, Sergeant Lightning? This is Greg over at HenchCo.”

“GREG!” Every time I spoke to him, it was like he was shouting full blast into the receiver on the other end. I’d only ever had contact with him by phone because I fear that any in-person meeting might shatter my eardrums. I had to hold the phone at arm’s length just to have a conversation with him. “WHATCHA GOT FOR ME TODAY?”

“Ah, you know. The usual. This Mole Man came over looking for some help in his villainy.”

“MOLE MAN, EH? I’VE FACED HIM BEFORE! HE’S TRIED TUNNELING INTO BANK VAULTS LIKE SIX TIMES!”

“I thought that might be the case. Well, just thought you should know that he’s placed a pretty sizable order. A whole army of human-mole hybrids.” I looked out the window at the giant hole in our parking lot and smirked. “And of course we’ll make them to our high level of quality, as always.”

Sergeant Lightning laughed. “WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE THIS TIME?”

“Well, they’re part mole, right? They’ll definitely be blind. And just for fun, scared of birds or something.” I pictured them running through the streets, bumping into buildings and cars every time a seagull passed overhead. “It’ll be hilarious!"

“HILARIOUS!” Sergeant Lightning agreed. "GOOD WORK THERE, GREG!"

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So... This whole scheme is the company makes the henchmen, tells the hero(es) all the henchmen's weaknesses, the villains come back for better henchmen once they are defeated. So, the HenchCo makes a butt ton of money, heroes look better for defeating armies, and the villains get defeated.

Genius.

Exactly! But not only does HenchCo tell the heroes what the henchmen's weaknesses are, but they actually build in weaknesses on behalf of the heroes.

"I...I beg your pardon?"

I've been in this industry for 35 years. I've had to provide humanoid androids, scantily dressed women, guys who'd all had their noses broken just to name a few. That's to say, I've seen some shit, all the shit, I'd thought.

But clearly not.

"You heard me," said the man, his voice a bit high pitched.

"Platypuses?" I asked, a bit incredulous.

"It's Platypi, actually, but yeah. With tiny fedoras, of course," he added, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

I was fairly sure it wasn't but I let it slide, "W..why would you want platypuses as minions? Why do you want to give them hats?" It was highly unprofessional, but come on, stuff like this I just had to know. "Do you want something, I don't know, more dangerous?"

"...Something more dangerous than a platypus with a hat?"

"Like....a guy with a gun?" I suggested helpfully.

"That...no. No." He said, as if trying to convince himself. "I've tried everything, everything. I can only fight fire with fire."

Oooookay. I started to say something then sighed. The customer is always right, I suppose. "Umm...if you say so, sir. You will have 30 platypu- platypi" I corrected, "delivered to your building."

I ran some calculations in my head, thinking of the training time and acquiring the platypi, "That'll be-"

"Oh I don't care how much it is," he said casually, "just bill it to my ex-wife, Charlene Doofenshmirtz."

If you enjoyed check out my sub, XcessiveWriting

[WP] At age 15 you told the gf you were "in love" with that you'd always be there when she was in need. Aphrodite heard you and made it a reality, whenever your gf was in need you appear at her side. Problem is, you and the girl broke up after 3 weeks but you still appear even now..10 years later

[WP] At age 15 you told the gf you were "in love" with that you'd always be there when she was in need. Aphrodite heard you and made it a reality, whenever your gf was in need you appear at her side. Problem is, you and the girl broke up after 3 weeks but you still appear even now..10 years later

"I just don't know how I can live like this, Doc. Seeing her now just makes my skin crawl," Roger said, staring at the ceiling of his psychiatrist's office.

"And the medications I prescribed you haven't been helping? You still hallucinate that you're suddenly transported to see ex-girlfriend Liz?" Dr. Meadows asked.

"It just happened again two weeks ago. One minute I'm getting ready for work. Then I step out my front door and suddenly I'm on the other side of the state. And there she is looking all weepy and stuff."

"And what did you do?"

"I turned around and left, just like I've been doing. Took three buses and a cab to get home. Somehow managed to not get fired."

The doctor nodded her head slowly. "I have to be honest with you Roger, your case is baffling to me. Your hallucinations are remarkably complex and vivid, and all manage to hold some kind of strange internal consistency, save for the fact that you magically teleport to other places."

"I've heard this speech before Dr. Meadows. You're my third psychiatrist. I hoped that this new cocktail of drugs was going to do the trick too. But it sounds like I'm just certifiably crazy. Save your breath, and don't bother trying to refer me to someone else. I guess I'll just have to live with it."

"I wasn't going to refer you away Roger. Your case is baffling to me, but I enjoy the challenge. We need to try some out of the box thinking here. Avoiding your hallucinations doesn't seem to be working. When you get home from here, I want you to look up your old high school flame and call her. The real one. Maybe some connection to the real version of her will help you move on from your subconscious' obsession with her."

"Isn't that going to seem a bit, I dunno, stalker-ish?"

"It might," she said, standing to show Roger out. "But have you really got anything to lose?"

"I guess not," he answered. He stepped out of her office, pulling the door shut behind him.

As the door clicked shut, the hardwood floor of the office was instantly replaced with muddy grass. Heavy drops of rain pelted him from dark clouds hanging in the sky. A chill wind blew right through the thin jacket he was wearing.

Roger looked around. He was standing in a cemetery. There was Liz, standing over an open grave, clinging tightly to an umbrella. A preacher of some kind stood in front of the grave, droning on in the bored tone of a man who wasn't getting paid enough to eulogize a man he didn't care about.

Liz lifted her gaze from the grave, and her tear filled eyes met Roger's. He turned and started to walk away, but stopped. Roger turned back and looked at her. She was still staring at him, but now her expression turned to confusion.

Roger hesitated a moment longer, then started walking toward her. She seemed to recoil slightly as he came and stood next to her. He looked at the grave marker. It was for Liz's dad.

The two of them stood there wordlessly while the preacher finished his ceremony. Finally, he snapped his book closed, and nodded in the direction of the two of them. The preacher turned on heel, and left them standing by the open grave.

"I'm sorry, about your dad," Roger said finally.

"Thanks," Liz said softly. "You haven't talked to me in a long time."

"Not since high school."

"I thought all those times I saw you walking away meant I was getting better. Somehow I'm glad that you're here though. It's better than being alone. But I guess this means I'm still crazy," she said.

Roger looked at her, studying her expression. "Who isn't these days?" he asked after a pause.

She let a small laugh escape her lips. Liz looked at him, and smiled. It was the first time Roger had seen that since they had broken up.

"Would you stay here with me a while?" she asked softly, tears starting to well back up in her eyes.

"Sure," Roger answered. What did he have to lose?

If you liked this, subscribe to Pubby's Creative Workshop to read the rest of my prompt responses.

Pop

"Oh...hey, John."

"Hey, Margarete."

John sighed. Her bedroom was a mess - a total, absolute, pig-sty-hit-by-a-tornado kind of mess the likes of which made him cringe. Magazines, sheets, and even bits of old food covered the carpet like a layer of soil. But it was nothing compared to her.

It was a familiar scene to John at this point. Her crying, sitting on the edge of her bed, not quite covering the bruises over her eyes. The apartment was different, at least, but the story was nothing new. New guy. New place. Same problem.

He started to clean.

"How is Dave treating you these days, Mar?" He asked, feigning ignorance as he picked up a particularly crusty Playboy.

"Gone." She said, simply. "He was cheating, like I thought. Like you thought, I guess. So I got out."

"That's good news, Mar." John shot her a sad smile as he dumped the first pile into the trash. "And the new guy is...?"

"Josh." Margarete said, quickly. "He seemed so nice at the bar, paid for me and everything. A real gentleman."

"But he hit you, didn't he." John said.

Margarete didn't answer. He continued to clean in silence.

"You can't just...it wasn't his fault, Ok? He was drunk!" She finally snapped. "Who the hell are you, coming in here, telling me how to live my life? With your...your good clothes, fancy shoes! I bet you never had to deal with any crap in your entire life!"

Still, John was silent. He moved into the bathroom, which was somehow in an even worse state.

"I don't see any needles this time. Cutting back?" He called.

This time, Margarete was silent. John kept cleaning.

"Mar? You still in there?" He asked, poking his head out into the other room. To his surprise, she was looking up at him, cheeks stained with tears. In her hands, she held a small stick made of cheap white plastic, half hidden behind her shaking fingers.

"John...I. It's not..." She stammered. "I...I can't. I can't leave, not anymore." She held the object up, half displaying it to John as if she wasn't sure that she wanted him to see it. "It's not just about me anymore."

John swallowed, finally understanding. "Whose...?" He asked.

Margarete just shook her head. "I don't know...it could have been Dave, I guess. But I can't go back there, John, I just can't!"

John nodded. "I understand." He said. "But, Margarete...you can't stay here either. You know that. What will Josh do when he finds out? Or...did he already find out, and this is what he did to you?"

"I'm so scared, John!" Margarete sobbed. "I don't know what to do, where to go..."

"It's going to be ok, Mar. I promise." John said. "Do you still have your cousin's number? Up in Newport?"

Margarete nodded.

"Good. Go there, and don't look back. They'll help."

"Thanks...John, I...Just. Thank you." Margarete said. "I...I don't know what I'd do, if it weren't for you. Sometimes, I just wish we'd never broken up. Maybe things would have turned out different."

John just chuckled. "No, Margarete. I don't think it would have worked out. Besides, it would break my fiancé's heart if I broke up with him now."

Margarete stared. "You're...?"

John nodded.

He blinked, and he was home. His real home - sitting on his bed, fully dressed in the dead of night, his partner breathing softly beside him. He hadn't waited up.

John laid down and sighed, staring up at the ceiling. He had thought that the shock might have been enough to send him back, but her expression haunted him. Confusion, disgust...to think, for over a decade they had known each other, and she'd never thought to ask why he left.

He only wished that he could have done more before he did.

Heavy stuff. Thanks for the read! CC welcomed, and if you enjoyed this story you might like some of my others on /sub/timesyncs!

"I'm getting really fucking sick of this!" Mitch shouted at Juniper, working quickly to untie the ropes that held her hands behind her back.

"Yeah, well I wish you never had to show up either. But here we are again." Juniper kept an eye on the door to her interrogation room, waiting for the foreign agents to return.

After gnawing on a particularly tight section of rope, Mitch spat. "Can't you get a more relaxing job? Like in an office? I could just show up to help get the printer working or something like that."

"Mitch, you know this has been my life's ambition."

"But it isn't MINE. You've dragged me along for this whole ride, working your way towards the top of the heap. I think you LIKE that I was cursed."

Juniper rolled her eyes, but said nothing. Her bonds fell to the ground. As she rubbed her wrists, Mitch crossed his arms and pouted.

"I'm going to get fired, ya know. I can't keep randomly disappearing with no notice."

"So I'll get you a job in an office with my association."

"I want nothing to do with you!"

The handle of the steel door turned with a clunk. A grating squeal of rusty metal cut through their argument as Juniper's captors swung the door open.

As they rushed in to fight, Juniper took them on alone with nothing but the chair, the rope, and her martial arts skills to aid her.

Mitch shrieked and cowered in a corner. He never was much help in a fight.

Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. Although you seem to have a had a stroke near the end of your comment.

[WP] Area 51 has four level emergencies for a breakout. Level 3: Armed forces intervention. 2: Public statement. United Nations joint resistance. 1: Worldwide evacuation effort. Use of nuclear weapons permitted. And 0: Call the number on the sticky note (and pray to God his demands aren't too high).

[WP] Area 51 has four level emergencies for a breakout. Level 3: Armed forces intervention. 2: Public statement. United Nations joint resistance. 1: Worldwide evacuation effort. Use of nuclear weapons permitted. And 0: Call the number on the sticky note (and pray to God his demands aren't too high).

"Counterparts in four of the NWS are ready to participate in the strike if need be, sir. Plus India. We're still trying to raise France."

A grin split the Director's craggy face, incongruous amidst the blaring klaxons. "Tell me, Private. Do you really think France will make a difference?"

"Every bit counts, sir?"

The grin got wider. The Private's heart beat even faster. Was his superior cracking up? True, it was understandable given the circumstances, but the man was supposed to be the facility's rock. The two of them alone were still; all around them in the bunker officers flat-out ran to destinations unknown, expressions from panic to resignation etched on their faces.

Given his uncertainty about the Director's mental state, he decided the safest path was just to recount what he knew. "We are at level 1, sir. A nuclear response has been deemed appropriate. Given the, uh, the severity of the threat, the largest muster of warheads available is considered optimal, which is why we... sir, I hope you don't consider it indecorous, but may I ask why you're laughing, sir?"

"Have you looked outside, Private?"

"I've been briefed..."

"There is a different sky above us. You can see purple stars. Three miles from here there's a hole in the Earth that goes straight down into the goddamn mantle. The gatespur has devoured the Nevada national guard. In a bunker beneath our feet the flameminds have started singing, and we haven't seen the Leviathan since last Tuesday. And it just warms the cockles of my cold little heart to see a private so green he's worried about France, of all things, in the middle of this."

The Private didn't know whether he wanted to scream or start crying. "We are at a level 1 emergency, sir. It is my job to worry about France," he said, voice wavering.

"This stopped being a Level 1 the instant the gatespur inverted."

"I'm... I'm sorry, sir? Are you saying it reverted to Level 2? That we'll be pursuing a nonnuclear resolution? If so I fail to see..."

"I'm saying," the Director hissed, "that it has been upgraded to Level 0."

Some detached part of the Private's brain conducted a quick search of the Groom Lake briefing books he'd absorbed so studiously not six months prior, and came up empty. "I'm afraid I have not been briefed on Level 0 emergencies, sir."

"It's the level where you stop caring about fucking France."

"I recall a prank played on me by some of the Privates First Class when I first arrived, sir," the Private said cautiously, "wherein they convinced me of the existence of an emergency level 0 before revealing, with great pomp and circumstance, that it consisted solely of calling the number on a Post-it Note."

The Director stared down at him as automated warning e-mails continued to pile up in the corner of his computer screen.

"Privates First Class are not supposed to know about that sticky note," he finally intoned.

The Private goggled. "They were serious?"

"We keep resources off-site!"

"A Post-it Note?"

"Sticky note. It's not name brand."

"Whatever! I mean, uh, whatever, sir." The Private paused, rewinding the conversation. "What resources?"

"A temperamental man. Got irradiated with... damned if I can remember what. Back in '84. Or maybe '85? Techie working on the Lateral Fourth, I'm almost certain. Perhaps the Axial Ninth. Since then he's been our secret weapon. Moves around a lot. Currently in Bora Bora, that much I know."

"Technically France," the Private muttered, almost involuntarily.

The Director's smile returned, wider than ever, glinting red in the intermittent darkness. "Do you recall the location of said sticky note, Private?"

"It was on Private Irving's monitor, I believe," the Private said, tentatively pointing.

The Director craned his neck and spotted the pink square of paper, attached to the side of a computer screen showing a grainy livestream of F-35s hovering over the desert, spinning like tops in place as spirals of smoke drizzled from their flanks and splattered upwards into the void.

"Very good. You have a strong memory, Private. That may make things unpleasant for you, shortly." Before the Private could ask, the Director was darting across the room to retrieve the sticky note. He returned to the relative calm in the wake of the Private's desk and removed a red smartphone from a nonstandard pocket of his fatigues.

"Don't you have it memorized, sir?" the Private asked as the Director entered the number into the touchpad.

"Best not to. Best not to memorize much about this man. Liable to get corrupted."

"What do you mea..." the Private quietened when his superior held up a finger for silence, not that his question would have added much to the general panicked din and the blaring of warning bells.

"Lenny, I..." the Director beamed into the phone, before apparently getting cut off. "That bad, huh?" he winced.

"I know we've already given you all the money you could ever want. All the secrets. All the... yes. Yes, Len. I know. So here's what I want to know. What else can we give you?" The Private strained to hear the other end of the line.

"I want you to know," the tinny voice said. "That's all I want. I want you to know how much it hurts me and how many times it's happened this week alone. So that maybe, maybe, this'll be the last one."

"You know it hurts all of us," the Director responded.

"But you don't remember. Try to remember. And remember this number: thirty-nine." At this the Director cringed visibly.

"Thirty-nine? Really?" he said incredulously - almost, the Private thought, shamefacedly.

"This week. Get. It. Lidded." Lenny said. "Or I might just call it quits at forty. I've lived a good life."

"I'll do my best, Len."

"You've done your best thirty-nine times. Do better."

"Yes, Len."

"I'm starting it."

"Thank you, Len."

"Thirty-Nine."

"Hope not to talk to you soon."

"No - enh. No more than I am," the phone voice grunted, pained. The Director ended the call and looked down at the Private, his face unreadable.

"The Lateral Fourth - that was the timeship, sir. Right?"

"One of it, Private. One side of it."

"And thirty-nine?"

"Big ears on you, Private."

"Sorry sir, I couldn't hel- ouch!" the Private slapped a hand to his cheek as a sharp, needling pain ran through it. He flinched as a similar pain struck his left foot, his kidney, his eye.

"He's right, we don't remember this part," the Director grimaced. The Private looked up at him and nearly screamed. The man's face was a patchwork of flesh, blurred and pixellated like a digital television getting bad reception. The left side of his mouth seemed to run in reverse, making grotesque flapping noises. Then the pain struck the Private's left eardrum, and the noises resolved into a sound like speech played in reverse, and then the prickles happened deep inside his head, brain freeze with a thousand tiny claws, and the backward speech was forwards and his thoughts turned around and the klaxons retreated in great gushing waves of silence and the lights flickered on and off and a great buzzing sound filled his head, driving away all thought and all memory and all notions except the overwhelming drumbeat bedrock of Tuesday, Tuesday, TUESDAY and then...

it was Tuesday.

"Readings on the Leviathan are slightly outside normal ranges. Should we check it out?" Irving asked.

"Thirty-nine," the Private blurted.

His fellow private turned to look at him. "What's that?"

"That's fine, I meant to say. We should look into it. Could mean something. That is, that's my opinion, sir," the Private said, suddenly noticing the presence of the Director looming behind him. He turned to face his superior and saw the man mouth the words thirty-nine.

The Director shook his head slightly, as if clearing it, and fixed his dark eyes on Irving. "Yes, Private, check it out. Report back to me if you find anything the least bit out of order."

"I'll requisition a sub straightaway, sir," Irving saluted, rising from his desk.

"Oh, and Private? Remove that sticky note from your monitor. Something tells me it won't be useful anymore."

Level 0: The level where you stop caring about fucking France.

That line was brilliant, might rework it and use it myself someday.

ONE PUNCH MAN

"Call the number private," the general sputtered orders as he limped toward the phone.

"But Sir you told me to-" the private was cut off by the glare from the general a glare that had been sharped over a dozen years by the whetstone of command. "Calling sir."

The private called the number. He wasn't supposed to be the one doing it, but it was the wrong time to be asking questions about who needed to do what. The entire world had moments until everything was going to go to shit, they needed him.

The phone rang, then rang again, then rang a third time-

"Hello, this is Genos," the cyborg said on the other end of the phone. He'd been waiting by the phone all day for this call, for any call.

"Oh hello Genos, this is a matter that calls for Sai-ta-ma," the Private read the name off the sheet to make sure he said it right, "could I please speak to-"

"Don't worry, anything that would bother my Master right now is something that I can take care of." The cyborg struck a pose that nobody could see because he was on the phone.

The private covered the mouthpiece of the phone. "We have a man named Genos-"

"I don't want Genos," the commander spat, "he's just going to come here and get beat before Saitama shows up. We don't have time for Shonen bullshit, I just need one punch thrown now.

The private got back on the phone. "I'm being told I really need to speak to Saitama." the private could hear the phone on the other end getting crushed in the hands of the powerful, but outclassed cyborg on the other line.

"Fine," Genos sighed before throwing the phone to the other side of the room, Saitama snatched it out of the air.

"Hey."

"Saitama?" the private asked.

"Saitama, hero for fun."

"Perfect, we need you down at Area 51, immidi-"

"Don't think I can do that today," Saitama said, "America is pretty far and there is a sale I don''t wanna miss on Udon noodles. Those things are expensive."

"We can get you noodles!" The private spat without thinking. He covered the mouthpiece of the phone. "Can't we?" he asked the General.

"He's only asking for noodles?" the General gasped.

"Yeah it-" the private pulled his hand off the phone. "Udon noodles right?"

"Yep! Can you really pick those up for me?"

The private raised an eyebrow at the commander who gave a pained thumbs up. "Absolutely," the Private answered."You can pick them up here. Now what we're dealing with is-" the line went dead. The private held the phone to his ear in shock. They'd been abandoned, they'd been tricked. They were doo-

The roof above the private shattered as a brilliant bald head and yellow suit came darting over the building with enough force to tear everything around it apart. A cataclysmic power that could only be wielded by one man.

/sub/jacksonwrites for more shenanigans.

The guy they call has the ability to turn back time for everyone, and apparently some people keep the memories of it. What they forget, however, is the terrible pain that they go through. The man they call remembers all of the pain.

The remark, "He's right, we don't remember this part", shows that they forget the pain but he remembers. They've called the man 39 times in one week, so he's gone through excruciating pain helping them. It's not working, so the man says that he's done and willing to die after rewind #40.

[WP] Your friends call you "one hit wonder". The first time you attempt anything, you're successful, but never after that. Now the CIA is recruiting you for one, and only one, mission.

[WP] Your friends call you "one hit wonder". The first time you attempt anything, you're successful, but never after that. Now the CIA is recruiting you for one, and only one, mission.

The final test was administered by Dr Hemway, the one scientist who remained unconvinced about my powers. He strode into the interrogation room, carrying what appeared to be an intricate, mechanical chess board, thick and heavy.

From the other side of the one-way mirrors, I felt scores of eyes burn into my back.

“This is not normal chess, Catherine,” he said, pointedly, as the chess board automatically unfolded to about six times the usual size of one, covering the entire table. “It’s a variation, a hundred times more complex, and you’ll be playing against a computer program specifically written for this occasion.”

An airy, melodious tone issued as the board lit up, thrumming as hologram pieces filled the playing field. The opposing sides populated first, then both sides, then finally the middle, leaving a moat of empty spaces, and giving me the impression of a towering castle besieged by relentless invaders.

“Do you want to know the rules?”

“Er,” I said, well aware of how tiny my voice sounded then, “that would be good. I don’t even know which pieces are mine or what they do.”

Dr Hemway scoffed, then tossed a sheaf of papers my way. “Amuse yourself with the rulebook then. Suffice to say, this game has been designed to eliminate chance and randomness entirely – there is no way you can possibly win through luck. Only an in-depth knowledge of the game’s engine, and a masterful application of skill, can carry you through. All the best.”

Another beep from the board, and I saw the AI take its opening move, sliding a hologram piece from PF72 to XA25. A countdown timer hung in the air, giving me only 3 minutes to complete my counterstroke.

The game was on.

I can’t explain exactly how my powers work. I suspect maybe if I really put my mind to it, I could, but then I’d only be able to do it once, so I better have a camera rolling when I did it.

Because that was the key limitation in place. I could attempt anything, and no matter how foreign or alien the activity, I would succeed – but only for the first time. Thereafter, my powers would flee me, and whether or not I would ever succeed again depended only on my own efforts, my own skills.

I’ve had an interesting life for sure. My parents tell me I managed to feed myself perfectly when I was one, manipulating my cutlery like a seasoned chef with a lifetime of experience. After that, it was mess after mess after mess, until I finally acquired the necessary hand-eye coordination at the ripe age of six.

It was the same for everything else. The first time I tried my hand at writing a song, it became an instant pop hit, blitzing down the charts like Taylor Swift on speed. The next limerick was universally rejected, deemed more offensive than a dog’s fart. The same familiar cycle ensued for when I tried driving, kiteflying, speaking Russian, dancing… it was the same blessing, the same curse, everytime.

“Impossible!” yelled Dr Hemway, ashen-faced, staring at the board as it beeped continuously, signalling some sort of end-state. The board, which had started with an equal number of blue and red pieces, now ran rampant with blue pawns, with only a smattering of red here and there. The timer had changed to indicate that the AI and I had exchanged a total of 520 moves each.

I sat back in my chair, still not fully aware of what I had done. Sure, I had moved a couple of pieces around, but only when it felt right, you know?

“Fine, I accept that she does indeed have powers beyond my comprehension,” Dr Hemway growled as he skulked to the door, wresting it open sourly. “She’s suited to your mission then.”

A skeleton of a man entered, the sharpness of his black suit suggesting a certain preciseness which underpinned the way he led his life.

“I’m the Director of the CIA,” he said, extending a vise of a handshake. “You are eminently suited for a mission of utmost importance to our great nation. If you accept it, you will single-handedly help break the deadlock which has gripped the world, and perhaps restore a modicum of peace.”

“I will try my best, Director. So tell me, who is it that you need assassinated?”

The Director laughed perfunctorily. “Who said anything about killing? No, your mission is harder than that. We need you to infiltrate the FSB. You will undo them from within.”

The lump in my throat tightened, and I could not swallow it away. “Director, I can probably infiltrate the FSB on my first try, but after that… you’ll have to prepare me adequately, otherwise there is no way I can continue to assist.”

“Of course! Come this way, you will have unfettered access to every resource the CIA has. This country will do all that it can to prepare you for your mission.”

That night, as I lay in bed, thoroughly exhausted from all the hothousing the CIA had put me through, I counted the seconds in my head, waiting patiently.

When I heard the clock strike three from the hallway, I slipped out of bed, then picked out an old copy of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy from my bookshelf, eased an ear plug from a hollowed space within, and slipped it on.

“They’ve accepted me,” I said, my hushed tones evaporating like gossamer webbings the moment I released them into the air.

“Very good, comrade,” came the reply. “And on the first try too, like you promised.”

/sub/rarelyfunny

It's just one line.

Anyone can say one line convincingly, right? A single, sole-

"Diego." A voice speaks directly into my ear, interrupting my thoughts. The reckoner that recruited me. Steelslayer. "He's rounding the corner."

Right.

I look up and see a man walking toward me, back straight and head held high. It's the walk of a man who knows his gun is bigger than everyone else's. He looks at me, eyes passing over as if I were a piece of trash. In fairness, I did sit next to a few open trashbags, leaning on a dumpster.

I hold out my bowl and bow my head as he passes, hoping he would put in a bottle of water, a piece of food, anything to give me some leeway. Something I can use to claim the script wouldn't work.

Instead, he walks on, as expected. Damn.

"Give me some food you poor excuse for an Epic." I say the words loudly, projecting a confidence I didn't have a fraction of.

Captain turns around, stopping in his tracks. He stares at me, eyes intense. Hatred.

If the boy is right, Captain's weakness is insubordination. How he figures that is beyond me. Captain is a high Epic, one who can't be killed by conventional means. Unless he's faced with his weakness.

I feel a tug on my mind. His powers are working, though the sources I'd heard say his pull is stronger. His mind control beyond the powers of man to resist. He had been an officer in the marines, before Calamity.

I stand up.

"You shit-brained, weak, coward." I licked my lips. Where was Steelslayer?

Captain's hand went to his hip. So, a normal gun then. A statement. I'm not worth using his powers for.

Before his hand pulls a gun, his head explodes.

Steelslayer.

"Good job." The boy's voice was quiet, contemplative, sad. This isn't the man everyone claims he is. This is a broken man.

"I'm free to go?" I ask, staring at the body.

"I gave you my word." He replies. "Destroy the ear-piece and get off the mobile network. Don't use your powers, or one day I will have to kill you too."

I tripped over and fell into the door I was trying to open. Getting back on my feet, I fell again. The security guard rushed over to help and extended his hand to pull me up. I reached out and completely missed.

"I'm forry, dine won't."

He looked at me with confusion.

"Sorry. I mean; I'm fine, don't worry."

I walked up to the reception and immediately noticed how stunning the receptionist was. I knew it wouldn't work like the first time, but I may as well try a pickup line I've been working on.

"Hey, sweet butts. Wanna choke on me later?"

"What the fuck..." She stammered out.

"I said, I'm here to see Agent Plimpson. Simpson! Asian Simpson."

If I were to be honest with myself, things weren't going too well. Someone once told me that taking a deep breath can relax you, but I don't want to blow the one chance I have of doing that right now.

She reached down to the phone staring at me like I was a freak, "Simpson? A man in reception is here to see you." She nodded at me, "What's your name, sir?"

"Peter Ferris. Wait. Sorry, it's Percy Linden."

Now completely confused and cautious, she repeated both names back over the phone and hung up. "He'll be down to see you in a moment. Take a seat over there."

"Thanks."

As I walked across the lobby, I overheard her mentioning me to the security guard. I was starting to feel embarrassed.

Thunk!

"Sir, are you sure you're okay?"

"Oh, I'm fine. I just prefer the floor."

That wasn't true. The first time I sat on a seat was amazing and since then I've just not quite nailed the art of sitting in a chair. I'd pick up a magazine to read but who knows how that will go down. The guard was now standing behind me permanently so it was best I just didn't try to do anything at all.

"Mr Linden!" Agent Simpson waved me over as he appeared from the elevator lobby.

I got up off the floor, lost balance, and dropped again.

"What the fuck is wrong with you?" The guard said aggressively as he voluntarily pulled me back onto my feet.

Agent Simpson rushed over, "It's quite alright, Leon. Mr Linden here has a special condition and, well, let's just say this isn't his first rodeo."

"Which was actually really fun!" I blurted out. "The second time didn't go so well, though. A child was killed, but the other person, the clown, I hear can move his legs again."

Both of the men stared back at me as though I just killed the conversation. Maybe I did. I probably did.

"Let's just head to my office, Mr Linden," said Agent Simpson as we started walking toward the elevators. "We'll need to get you clearance before you can-"

THUNK!!

"...nevermind. I see you've been here before."

I rubbed my forehead furiously to make the pain go away, "Has that column always been there?"

"Yes. You know what? Have you ever walked around here with your eyes closed?"

"No, that would be stup-... Oh, I've never thought of that."

"Okay. First time walking to the level 8 east wing briefing room with your eyes closed. Do it."

"I wasn't taken to level 8 last time."

"Okay, keep them shut until we get out of the elevator then."

"You're the floss."

Simpson sighed.

"Sorry," I said "I meant, boss... Hm. I need to stop calling you that."

I heard the elevator arrive and blindly walked into it, hitting level 8 on the panel, I guess, and we started moving.

I heard Simpson speak, "We'll need to get a list of things you've done compared to the tasks required on the mission-"

"Hold it." I stopped him short. The third person breathing behind me just fumbled and I heard a click. I immediately turned around, grabbed his wrist, pried the gun from his hands and fired two shots.

"Jesus Christ!" Agent Simpson yelled.

I opened my eyes to see a dead man slumped on the floor with a shot in the heart and head each.

"How did you know?!" Agent Simpson stammered at me in disbelief. "We'd be dead and you just pulled off the most perfect takedown... Holy fuck!"

"Let's just hope that never happens again, right?" I laughed and unloaded the gun.

BLAM!

I just shot myself in the foot.

Ahhhhh I did NOT expect that ending!

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