With the muddy weather and her stupid waitressing job, London wasn’t as much fun as she’d imagined. Why, the customers never even looked at her! Back home she’d be cozily gossiping over the counter. Here was that cute fellow again: she bet she could wake him up!
Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or an erotic massage?
He looked up, startled.
Just kidding, she smiled. We do have delicious muffins…
He blushed. I’ll … I’ll have some of those, then. And some tea.
Thanks. He smiled shyly as she put down his steaming cup. I’m… hmm, I’m Patrick. What… What’s your name?
* * *
The 100 word challenge for grown-ups at Julia’s Place: …tea, coffee, hot chocolate or…
The heat! Hunting for rare plants was one thing. Doing it in tropical temperatures was quite another. He was simply melting!
He wasn’t even sure they’d understood the directions properly. School Portuguese only went so far in the Brazilian interior. And had that man really understood what they were looking for? Or had he just taken pity on their hopeful expressions? Brazilians wanted to help! Whether or not they understood you…
Whatever Steph said: there was the river, he was taking a dip. He stripped quickly, before she was close enough to protest.
Gerald clearly hadn’t understood the warning.
The 100 word challenge for grown-ups, at Julia’s Place: Heat.
Photos taken in the Jardim Botânico of São Paulo. Orchids, I think. If you know what kind, please let me know. Thanks!
I inched forward, holding my breath. Don’t look, don’t look. My eyes flickered downward, and I gave a little lurch. I was falling.
Get a grip! a little voice inside me growled. People are staring! I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. Everything’s fine, the voice breathed.
After a while the idiocy struck me of standing by one of the most spectacular sights of the world – with my eyes screwed shut. Come on, the little voice coaxed. With an effort I opened my eyes: first one, then the other. I looked at the cliffs opposite. Breathtaking.
Jeremy yawned. Camping was bad enough; if only his Dad didn’t insist on having these pointless conversations. Did he exist? Well, obviously! Yes, like a drop of water joins the sea, he would die one day – who wanted to be old, anyway? But unlike a drop of water, he would enjoy life along the way.
Could he prove he existed? Sometimes Dad was like little Louey, really! Told the knight couldn’t move in a straight line, Louey had gone berserk: Prove it! he had shouted. Those are the rules, dummy. You don’t prove them, they’re just there. If you don’t like them, don’t play chess.
Family was really the limit. After lunch he’d find a way to slope off.
The holiday season. You could smell it in the air. The spices, the cakes, and the candy. Wrapping paper crackled and tinsel sparkled. There was a general air of anticipation and fun mixed in with frantic holiday shopping. Everyone was awash with mulled wine, goodwill, and charity.
Not everyone was happy, to be sure. Jody and Fred spent the days huddled together in wordless misery. Nobody had told them, but they knew.
One of them would be for the pot.
* * *
A bit of a downer for a holiday? So how do I turn that round? Well, maybe Jody and Fred will follow this example.
Is there still time for hot chocolate? Riley asked.
The-End-is-Nigh guy blinked. Ah, maybe, I don’t know.
― Jana Oliver, Forbidden
Why, thank-you, dearie. I never say no to a biscuit. And what’s your name, young lady? Louise? The old face cracked in a smile.
Do I believe what? That the dragon is coming and the world will end tomorrow?
Now, when I was your age, the world was always coming to an end. Left and right people were predicting disasters. I think it’s because they want the world to change. And right they are! But no, I don’t think the world will end tomorrow.
The dragon, now, that’s a whole other story. The old eyes twinkled. I’ve seen it myself, you know…
It was a beautiful day; clouds drifted lazily overhead. Jack and his Grandfather were lying in the grass.
– See the dragon? It’s turning into a duck! They laughed.
– Look, those two have joined. Are they still two clouds? Or is it one now?
Jack frowned in concentration. Over the meadow, the clouds seemed to peter out.
– What do you think happens to the clouds when they get there?
Jack pondered. People were always telling him things. Only Grandfather asked what Jack thought.
It would be the last time the two were together. Back in school, Jack’s teacher commiserated.
– It’s alright, Jack reassured his teacher. He’s in the air now.
Some people go to endless trouble preparing for a job interview. I say, get there early, and take a quick look round. It’s what I did this morning. I went inside and quickly looked over the instruments to see how they worked. When I put them away, I thought I could field any questions likely to come up. Now for a cup of tea and a nice chat.
What a total waste of a perfectly good morning! I didn’t even get the job. Next time, I’m not applying as a neuro-surgeon. I think I’m better suited for a managerial position…
* * *
This week’s 100-word-challenge at Julia’s Place: …they worked when I put them away…
Robbie sat down on a log and let out a sigh, Rufus flopped down beside him. The two had scampered up the hill and dashed into the woods, now both needed to catch their breath.
Robbie thought it was unfair. He was sure he tried to be good. OK, so he probably shouldn’t have tried to drape the neighbour’s tabby on his snowman – though it made a great fur scarf. He was sick of being lectured, especially when the lecture involved innocent animals.
If animals are innocent, why aren’t I? Rufus looked up at him, thumping his tail, and woofed.
When I was young I thought a lot about life, truth, what is right, and what is good. I was confident that, with time, I would know more. Now my eyesight is fading, and it seems that the answers are further away than ever. Indeed, I’m no longer sure these questions have an answer at all.
As if reality is receding into the mists, leaving more and more grey areas. I wonder whether you become less and less sure of your ground, until you are swallowed by the mists of uncertainty?
Project winds can be gusty, especially in I.T., but this was really something else. We had been buffeted to and fro all year by changing requirements, priorities, and resources – but this? Major design changes in complex accounting software, just weeks before go-live? At the end of User Acceptance Testing?
It was quite a serious meeting, and I really tried not to laugh, but I simply couldn’t help it. Then, of course, half the team went into hysterics. It was Eric’s fault, really, for keeping a straight face when he asked:
Er, were you planning to do any actual testing before go-live?
* * *
This week’s 100-wcgu: …I really tried not to laugh…
Any resemblance to real projects, live or dead, is purely coincidental inevitable.
He loved public demonstrations. This one would be a triumph.
When he came with an order, the technicians always growled. Impossible, they would say. Not enough time, no resources. Grumble, grumble, grumble. But lay on enough pressure and, hey presto, the impossible would happen.
He gave his developers a pointed look and turned the key. Nothing. He tried again. The silence was deafening.
If you want us to build a car, said one technician,
…in two weeks, the second chimed in,
…entirely from recycled cardboard…, the third,
…surely, they went unisono, you don’t expect it to run?
Ben had followed his heart. The heart he had lost to Jessica, the dreamer.
He had heard tales of the city since childhood. He had never realised how big the city was, how impersonal. People moved around in rivers, pouring out of metro-stations and down streets. And they lived in big concrete blocks, grey and dreary, like this one.
It had been stupid to come. How could he ever hope to find her? He had trailed around for days now, and hadn’t seen a sign of her.
Suddenly he saw it and smiled. He had found her. He was sure.
It simply wasn’t fair! He fumed. The client base was growing. There was really only so much he could do with his small host of imps. Who mostly chased their own tails, anyway.
With the population explosion, he had counted on setting the damned souls to work. Now the Boss had vetoed it. It would be pernicious to their souls. They were the damned, dammit! But, apparently, the fine print foresaw ultimate salvation for all.
He didn’t know how he’d manage without computers. Next: a customizable operating system. He grinned. It would drive people mad! He’d simply be raking the souls in!
She hated frills and furbelows. A complex machine, now, that was beautiful. Everything in its place, functioning together as a harmonious whole.
She had spent aeons on the design, fine-tuning the different factors to achieve a delicate balance. Everything would be perfect. A few simple laws, that was the trick. No tinkering would be needed: only mechanics did that. It was fitting that to breathe life into her creation she would explode into a trillion trillion pieces.
She looked at her plan, and saw that it was good. Her final thought was: “Let there be light.”
And there was light.
* * *
T. Mastgrave’s philosophical story challenge: Simplicity.
I once read that when you’re depressed, you find it hard to make small decisions. I guess that means I’m not depressed. Pizza or pasta, the green shirt or the blue one – not a problem.
But I’ve got this offer to work in Hong-Kong. It sounds great, maybe a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But it’s a three year contract. What if I hate it there? What it I don’t find a new job when I come back? Either way, whatever I decide could ruin my whole life, and I’ll always regret it. What do I do?
Nora has sharp eyes, I’ll give her that. But she does tend to exaggerate.
Her daughter had come home with news of the landslide. However dangerous, landslides were also life-givers. They threw up much that was buried under the wasted surface. They had become more and more frequent, as the underground nets weaving the soil together slowly turned to dust.
Nora had always been excitable. But now she was babbling of buried treasure. A seedling! It can’t be that! Time will tell…
Tears filled Neesha’s eyes as she remembered what had once covered so much of the ravaged planet.
Democracy is the worst form of government
except all the others that have been tried.
– Winston Churchill
RB dragged his burden to the store-room. The sentry waved him in.
– Cast your vote yet? the sentry asked.
– Nah. RB scurried out. He wasn’t sure. The National Block wanted to keep things as they were. The Forwards Party wanted change: Shorter hours, less military service.
Shorter hours sounded good. But where was the food to come from? With less military service, more workers would be free, they said. Would the sentries know how to forage? What if there was an attack?
Difficult questions. RB’s antennae waved ceaselessly. Getting the vote didn’t seem to make life easier for a worker-ant.
T. Mastgrave’s philosophical story challenge: moral absolutism vs. moral relativism. After some suggestions, I tried a rewrite.
* * *
– You can’t say?
– That is impossible. You must believe:
A) What is good is absolute.
B) What is good is relative to the society you live in.
or C) What is good must be determined by need-based mediation from case to case.
– We’re divided.
– Divided? The librarian’s voice rose in a whine. How can that be?
After the interview, the librarian needed to recharge his batteries. Cataloguing the attributes and beliefs of the Members of the Xenian Alliance was a draining task. He plugged himself into the outlet.
These humans! They confirmed all his suspicions about water-based species.
No more surfing today, Kyledrone said evenly, you set the limit yourself on Wednesday.
Kyle hated the goal setting sessions. He always ended up setting goals he didn’t want. It was his decision alone, but somehow his parents and the drone always seemed to win. He hated his drone sometimes. It protected him, it was always there. But it should let him cheat sometimes!
The drone hovered. Only recently a neighbour had given his drone the slip, and thrown himself over a cliff. Kyledrone would never let that happen. It had put in far too much hard work for that.
Usually my physicist friends’ conversation goes right over my head – bad enough, but when they really try to explain things, it’s worse.
Last night, Josh explained about quantum foam. How space isn’t infinitely divisible or smooth, but there’s a smallest distance two things can be apart. And that there’s really no reason why time should be different. So there isn’t a smooth timeline, but really a succession of separate moments, like pearls on a string. And we hop from one to another.
You know when you look everywhere for your glasses, and you can’t find them? And then they turn up on your head? Or the book you hunt for high and low? That was on your bedside table all along, lying the wrong way up? You get so annoyed while you’re searching, and then a little embarrassed…
No, it’s not age. You see, something I’ve always been looking for. One day I realised, suddenly, it was in my hand. It always had been. But I couldn’t see it because it didn’t look like I thought it did.