Swim, Cap, Elated

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

With the amount of swim lessons I’ve had I should be the next Michael Phelps. At most, I’m the Phelps of the doggie paddle: No swimming cap required.

My father, who had never actually seen me swim, enrolled me in some sort of race. He assumed I was achieving at the same level of his hopes, dreams and expectations. I was not. He would not be elated, though he never was.

Once I had set the dinner table without asking because for once I was going to have dinner with my father. The maid told him my 6-year-old contribution and the most I got out of him was a raise of the eyebrows and a downturn of his cheeks.

When he shows up the race and watches me splash around between floating plastic ropes, the most he’ll do is look around and then leave. Because he more than likely expects nothing of me so my poor performance will have met his expectations but not exceeded his dreams for me.

Nappy, Riddle, Mammoth

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The mosquito used to be a miniature nightmare, hated by all but those precious few who studied them. Now, they have evolved to mammoth proportions.

Weekend skeet shooters use them for practice, the mosquito’s blood engorged torsos exploding in red across green lawns.

However, that is the lighter side of the issue. Where once it was thought that smells caused disease, as in the miasma theory, now we know disease can be carried through the water. It was not the smell of baby’s dirty nappy, it was the fact that mama or dada threw it into the sewer where it seeped into the water supply. A riddle solved by the use of mapping and a willingness to admit they didn’t know everything.

Now we find ourselves with mosquitos the size of crows, hunting us. No longer does their bite cause a minor bump and in some areas carry disease. To be bitten by a mosquito now could be to get stabbed by a dagger, deep in the heart or to become paralyzed if probed in the spine.

Imagine a metal straw impaling you at any given location from 1 to 3 inches deep. To smack a mosquito straight down is to push the dagger deeper.

Best practice now is to grab the mosquito and attempt to understand the consequences of pulling or removing it.

In the femoral artery, at the leg, one could bleed out. A hole could be poked in a lung. A hole could be poked in the cheek, sometimes stabbing through to the tongue.

There are fewer mosquitos, because each encounter now is, potentially, everyone’s last. A mosquito full of blood flies low and slow, ripe for cars, skeet shooters and children with tennis rackets.

A person could contract a disease, accelerated by the amount of blood transfused or die of being stabbed directly in the heart, which for the mosquito would be a bulls eye.

Push, Capture, Underwear

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

And then, we’ll run their underwears up the flag pole. I’ll be demoralizing. They’ll be huddled in a corner, fully clothed, but wearing no underwear. The shame of their capture won’t be enough, they’ll be forced to stare at their brown-streaked chonies flapping in the wind.

Are there any questions?

Sir, I have a question, sir.

What is it?

Well sir, who is going to remove their underwear? Also, sir, how do we know we can capture them alive? Won’t they be shooting at us sir?

Good questions, private. They will be firing live ammunition at us. I understand that the enemy is also aware that live ammunition has the potential to maim and/or kill us. Which is why we must capture them alive and remind them who is boss.

With the underwear thing, sir?

Yes, private, with the underwear thing.

Okay, sir, wouldn’t it be easier to kill them sir?

Easier physically perhaps, maybe even less dangerous but how will we really show them that we don’t want to kill them, we just want them to behave? We run their underwear up the flag pole.

Sir? In the event we are able to somehow get past their live ammo and grab them, wouldn’t it be more embarrasing for them if we made them stand around naked?

Johnson! I’m surprised at you. We’re already pushing the envelope by doing the underwear thing. That’s pushing too far if they stand naked. Also, I don’t want to look at that.

Sir, let me see if I understand your plan. You want us to run up the hill to their hideout, all 120 of us, with no live ammunition. You do want us to carry our weapons which are air soft guns painted black so no one will know the difference between a real and a fake gun. Then, somehow, you want us to push through their ranks and capture them alive, take off their underwear but keep their clothes on and then make them watch as we fun their underwear up the flag pole.


Sir, is there someway we can make our intention known? Perhaps if they knew we weren’t going to kill them, they wouldn’t shoot at us and then we wouldn’t die.

Private! if they knew all that, then they’d never be captured.

Sir, we won’t capture them if we’re all dead.

Private! That’s what you signed up for, now get your things ready, you charge the hill at dawn.

You, sir?

Yes, I have to stay back and observe so I can see if my plan will work. Trust me, if there were any other way…but there isn’t, Standard procedure.


Mash, Irate, Light

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

it was a rerun. The episode where radar does something or other but that’s not the point. What really stands out was the person trying to open my hotel room door multiple times throughout the night.

His feet disrupted the clean line of yellow light that bordered the bottom of the room door.

In Spanish, I asked who it was and what they needed. No reply. Then I tried in English. This time a nervous, out-of-breath voice said, “Your alarm sir.”

He spoke as if scrambling to figure out what to say. He had a thick Italian accent. He never answered my question.

Maybe 15 minutes later, I could hear someone trying to open my door. I pictured my knife on the bedside table, over 1,000 miles away. Searching the room for some sort of weapon, I settled for the desk lamp. Unplugging it from the wall, I held it over my head and asked again who it was.

This time I saw the shadows of the feet disappear but the sound of his presence lingered a couple of feet outside my room. As if he wanted me to open the door in order to find out.

“I’ll bash you head in.” I said. Now I was thinking of my wife lying in the bed behind me, with nothing but a solid wall behind her. Trapped.

I tried to drown my fear by working myself into a frenzy of anger. Why was this man trying to come in? What fucking alarm? Why couldn’t I bring a knife with me?

Now I was irate.

“What do you want?”

He shuffled his feet. I wanted to throw open the door to see a tired worker raise his arms with fright and me lower the lamp in relief. We could laugh at the misunderstanding.

The other part of me wanted to keep the door shut.

He eventually left.

It’s been two hours and I’m terrified to leave the room. I have the desk lamp. We can order room service. I’ve seen pictures of Italy, I get the idea.

Survive, Laughable, Sacrifice

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

19 minutes left to decide. Do I smoke this J and risk getting caught? or do I risk my sanity by delivering another mind numbing sermon?

The danger in the latter is that I may really let them know how I feel. That I became a priest because it’s a cushy job with plenty of time to myself. Because everyone looks up to and reveres the collar.

Today is Easter Sunday. I won’t survive, however, if I can’t do this high or a little drunk. One of the two days out of the year in which the church is full. A fact about the faith so laughable I find I cry myself to sleep at the thought.

So I will eat this cupcake full of THC and if it’s the lords will that I expose myself for an unbelieving fraud, then so be it.

If I deliver my sermon as normal, then I’ll have to go through all this mental, emotional, and spiritual torture next Sunday.

For now, I’ll have a cup of wine while the cupcake digests, then maybe have an Easter wank.

Douglas, the little 9-year-old isn’t due in for another hour, so I’ve got time.

What if i talked about the devil as a loving, caring entity who is only misunderstood? That would be too far left to be funny.

If I touted the benefits to marijuana and tied it to the creation story, would that go over well? They would definitely know I was high.

Now I’m beginning to get the giggles.

What if I preached only the parts of the bible which have lists? The lists of ancestors going on and on about who begat whom. Or the lists of supplies and resources. What if I tied it to a ludicrous message that god wants his children to make lists, then read through all the lists and say something like “make lists and think of god because the devil is in the details.”

The infuriating part is that no one would question the sermon. Even those that thought it strange would simply leave and move on with their days. THAT above all things is the most frustrating part of being a priest, lack of accountability.

The members of the church believe the clergy answer only to god but the clergy really only answer to themselves.

There is no accountability from god, or those cunt-priests touching kids would have been fried by lightening by now instead of moved around.

Maybe I’ll just go out and talk about love. If I quit now, some asshole will spew hell fire and brimstone

Gag, Muscle, Seem

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The gag has to be one of man-kinds clearest signs of revulsion. A crystal indication that the mouth and throat have had plenty, thank you. A spasm made possible by some sort of muscle in the neck or throat (I don’t really know if a muscle is responsible at all).

I do know that the magic spell for the catalyst to vomit is brushing my tongue. Without fail, if I linger too long on the attached part of my tongue, I gag.

My face shoots forward, tongue flattens and sticks out, eyes squint and sometimes squeeze out a tear. If the brush has really landed in the right spot, I’ll expel a grunt that seems to come from deep in my gut. A warning groan from that yellow acid in my stomach.

It sticks its finger sternly in the air and clears its throat with an “Aahhk!”

A deep breath is usually required afterward to recover. It seems a relief, much like the moments after expelling 96-day-expired ketchup or rotten fish. A wave of relief letting you know that you dared to be alive.

Point, Convict, Ground

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

He kept his head phones and pushed up his glasses. Flakes of skin drifted into the table next to his stack of fantasy and science fiction books, as he scratched the patch of eczema on his elbow.

A motorcycle roared up to the front of the coffee shop. The rider revved the engine a few times before hopping off. Taking off the helmet, he revealed a face full of tattoos.

Easy rider took out a cigarette, lit it and after two puffs without inhaling dropped it to the ground and ground it into the concrete with the heel of his boot.

Headphones and eczema watched, hearing a young couple at the table next to his say something about a “convict” or “ex-con.”

Easy rider walked into the coffee shop and came out with a very pale coffee drink to which he was adding many packets of sweet-n-low.

Looking over at eczema, easy rider pointed right at him.

“What are you listening to?”

“The sound of silence.”

“Simon and Garf–“

“–No,” interrupted headphones, “I’m listening only to the sounds of silence or the muffled sound of the noises you all make.”

Easy rider looked away and took a sip of his coffee. Suddenly, the hot beverage was all over his face and dripping down his leather jacket. He turned just in time to catch eczema swing a mug of hot, black coffee right at his face. There was nothing for him after that.

Eczema looked up at the young couple and pointed down at easy rider.

“Convict.” He said, as if explaining away a minor, slightly embarrassing problem to curious strangers in a public space.

Cold, Chase, Prevent

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

Without thinking she sneezed. A wave of terror washed over her body. The four-foot high cubicles, once feeling oppressive, were not hight enough anymore.

Though she didn’t move, Sara knew her colleagues were beginning to stand up in their cubicles, like Meerkats on the plain, suddenly aware of the threat of danger.

It wasn’t a cold, it couldn’t be. She had gotten the flu vaccine two weeks earlier than doctors recommended.

Reaching for a tissue, Sara noticed that the office had gone quiet. All but the hum of the water cooler and the clock ticking above the exit door. No one typed or shifted in their seats and definitely no one coughed.

Another wave of fear washed over her at the thought that she might be discovered because she remained the only one in her seat.

Through the tissue in her garbage, Sara slowly stood up, changing her eyebrows, mouth and chin to appear concerned.

“Was that you, Sara?”

It was Janine. Of course this bitch would ask me that, but she works in the cubicle on the other side of Greg.

Shit. Greg. he was out sick with something. Sara would be blamed for sure. Unless…

“No. I heard it from you. Weren’t you looking for something in Greg’s cubicle earlier?”

Sara needed to get ahead of this. Pin Janine and when the others gave chase, make her exit.

“Yeah,” continued Sara. “I know it was you because I got the flu vaccine and last week I heard you talking with Greg about not ever getting the flu vaccine. Something about autism.”

I could see more and more of my co-workers popping up. One walked to the emergency exit and propped open the door with a rubber wedge. Another colleague made his way to the emergency kit, not filled with bandages or Neosporin but with a plastic bubble to house the sick.

“I’m not sick. I didn’t sneeze. I heard you sneeze, Sara. You sneezed,” said Janine.

“You’re sounding quite defensive,” I said.

Then our regional manager, Dave, chimed in.

“Yeah Janine, me thinks the lady doth protest too much.” Dave looked around to see if anyone laughed but now was not the time.

The team moved toward Janine while she protested. Sara backed toward the open exit.

I might get away with this, thought Sara.

Just before reaching the exit, Sara heard Owen shout.

“Hey! There’s a used tissue in Sara’s waste bin.”

Sara thought quickly.

“Oh my god, Janine tried to frame Sara. Let’s get her.” Sara said, ducking through the exit while the group rushed at Janine.

Deer, Crackle, Leave

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The match struck and illuminated her face in the bloom of the flame. She touched the living flower of orange and yellow heat to the wick of a candle on her table.

Now she could see the task of the morning. It involved pouring two elements; liquid and solid into one bowl. An alchemy resulting in a new element.

She took the cardboard box in her hand, listening to all the parts shifting within. The other hand took the plastic jug labeled milk and tilted it into the bowl until a plain of white stretched across the bowls surface.

Next she tilted the box and let tumble tiny pebbles that hit the milk with a “snap”, “crackle” and “pop.”

The mixture was alive. With a spoon, she coaxed the crackling pebbles deeper into the liquid. When all of the mixture was set, she placed the bowl into a refrigeration unit.

This was to be consumed later, she would need to leave and come back before it could be done.

He worked from 10PM to 10AM. By the time he got home, his brain was on fire using all its capacity to stay focused on every task in front of him; unlock the car, key in ignition, reverse, turn right, stop–and so on until he made it to the house he shared with a roommate. He opened the fridge and looked at the only thing residing in its coolness. A bowl of beige mush. Trying to comprehend what his eyes were seeing, he looked very much like a deer in headlights, paralyzed with the process of understanding and possibly fear.

Leaving the fridge open he grabbed a spoon from the drawer. He pulled out the bowl and dug the spoon into the meat of whatever was in the bowl.

“What the hell is this?”

The once unique and separate pebbles had congealed into a singular blob with the help of milk and time. He pulled a piece away and it jiggled on the spoon toward his maw.

A couple of chews, that was it. He realized the genius of the concoction. The sugars blended into the milk and the milk puffed up the crispies into a delicious breakfast blob.

Nifty, Manage, Call

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

There’s this nifty little device I have that manages all my calls. It’s a little 3D rectangle with a green light up screen that shows my messages. I can hook it to my belt and check my incoming calls.

It’ll beep whenever someone wishes to get a hold of me and then, if I recognize the number, I’ll call back to see what they want.

Sometimes I already know what the message is by looking at the phone number. I know what they want, how much they want, where I should meet them and what time I need to meet them.

When I’m in the park and it’s lunch time, I like to make a big show of being contacted. I’ll tilt the little sucker attached to my belt up at the angle of my face. I know I can simply look down and see it, but then no one would notice that I’m making it that I’m doing quite well.

Sometimes I’ll pull the thing off my belt and hold it up at eye level, not to admire it, but to make a big show that the message is bothersome. This is really impressive because it looks like having the device is no big deal to me, like a necessary evil in my line of work, “If I could get away with not carrying one of these things around (shaking head) trust me.”

You know, that sort of thing.

In my line of work, if done well, only my customers know who I am. They’ll never know anything else, not where I’m from, who I associate with, where I get the products, not anything.

That’s why this little chirping birdie on my belt is perfect. I can only contact others, they shoot messages into the dark.

And, I just remembered, I can turn off the beeps and it will vibrate. On occasion that silence is necessary. The people of this great community and their elected officials aren’t as open minded about the products I sell. So the ability to lay low–I won’t say hide–is occasionally necessary.

I never pass this feeling onto my clients. That’s bad customer service. I don’t ever want them to leave me feeling nervous. They should walk or drive away feeling empowered by their decisions.

Oh, excuse me, I’m getting someone now. See how people are looking over here? I’m a man to be respected, like a doctor or surgeon. I help people get better too.

Fog, Psychedelic, Ascend

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

Believe it or not his name was Sheth like someone drunk trying to say Seth. His parents told the nurse at the hospital this name, Sheth, they said. The nurse began to write Seth but the father suspected this would happen and corrected him right away.

Taking off his glasses and wiping them, Sheth’s father chuckled and said, “Our Shon’sh name is sheth, you she, he’sh shpecial.”

Then Sheth’s father began to recount his psychedelic tale, which wasn’t at all psychedelic.

“You shee,” Sheth’s father continued. “Sheth comes from a long line of family membersh who have lifted their conshioushneshesh above the fog. They’ve ashcended.”

What Sheth’s father should have said was that one time at a concert his parents had taken LSD (or LShD) and wandered off the grounds of the event into a small shish-kabob restaurant.

Sheth’s great grandparents were named Sarah and Samuel, however, Sam was a mute and Sarah had a lisp. Her children were named Shamshon, Shyril, Chrish, and Shteven.

Chrish begat Sheth’s father, Shtan.

Sarah, the matriarch of the family never corrected her children with the lisp, she thought it was cute that they copied her own lisp.

When she named her children, god only knows why she chose names with S’s, the nurses took down the names she said exactly as she said them.

So Shtan, father of Sheth now stood proudly defending the one thing that made their family truly unique, a lisp passed down from generation to generation.

“we’re not sho different you and I,” continued Shtan to the nurse. “It’sh jusht that my family refushesh to adhere to shoshietal normsh. we proudly shay all the wordsh.”

The nurse had to interrupt.

“I’m sorry Shtan, but I’m being paged. I need to go but to be clear your son’s name is Sheth, S-H-E-T-H, correct?”

Shtan feeling a deep sense of pride at becoming a new father and excited that the nurse recognized their proud family tradition, tried to convey how he was feeling.

It came across as an awkward display of winks, thumbs and slow nodding’s of the head.

The nurse left and before the door closed Shtan heard him say–

“Can you believe the names of this family? Sheth? Shtan?” Then laughter

Shtan thought to himself, shshit.

Dusty, Bored, Thundering

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

At the end of your life you are shown to a theater and given an accounting of all your stats. It isn’t some thundering proclamation from a white haired god. No, by the end of the presentation, most people find themselves bored to death. That is exactly the point.

In the beginning it can be quite interesting. You’re offered coffee, tea or water and shown to a small couch. In front of you is a man on suspenders poised to turn over a large paper flip chart. There is no preamble he gets right into it.

“These are your statistics,” he says.

“Boogers! had you saved all of them up you’d have a gigantic mound of mucus about the size of an elephant.”

(By the way in this scenario you’re 81 years old.)

“Instead you’ve picked, flicked and blew all your not into garbages, toilets, streets, and cars.”


He goes on very similarly about the earwax, except its about the size of an SUV, which you think is roughly the size of an elephant and he’s just trying to keep his comparisons interesting.

“Hair! You’ve lost 37,564 hairs from the top of your head BUT you gained 63 hairs in and around your left ear and 59 hairs in and around your right. You had an increase in your nose hairs, both in number of individual follicles as well as girth of each hair.”


It did surprise me that the terms were not more scientific but then again he may be using language I can understand.

“Your has distended 3.73 inches!”

“Fingernails! If gone uncut and unbroken they would now be 53 yards, 2 feet, 4 inches and 7millimeters long.”

Eventually you tune out. The stats become more absurd and then suspenders opens a dusty book and things get interesting again.

“I will now read your language stats!”

“Fuck you’s! 759,000 even. Impressive!”

You think it could be more.

“Fuck offs! 33,542”

“Fuck! 3,259,117.”

“Son of a bitch!…”



It continues like this for a while and eventually you just sort of die like I said earlier, of boredom. Fuck.

Ring, Bitter, Detach

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The duplex shook from the beats and the dancing. No conversations were really had. A few people mouthed words at each other but no one could tell if they were actually speaking.

Standing on the weaker spots of the hard wood floor, your eyes couldn’t adjust because of the vibrations.

For days after, attendees complained about the constant ringing echoing in their heads. When they compared notes they realized the ring was pulling their attention from anything else.

The part was one of those events that you can recall in slow motion in your head. I wonder if that has always happened or if movies created that phenomena?

Wrists hanging in the air and flopping in time to music. The guy walking sideways through everyone, looking pale, trying to make it to the bathroom or at least outside. The girl with her eyes closed, detached from everyone around her, just dancing.

The memory stays long in the mind, perhaps fuzzy around the edges but still pulled into sharp focus. An experience of many bodies becoming one body of positive energy.

A good party is the euphoria preachers attribute to heavenly things. Their tone beginning to sound bitter about putting off instant pleasure when they elaborate and expound for hours on how great the rewards after death will be.

A good party and the memory of having been there, swaying with the rest. god’s breath moving all the blades of grass to and fro in unison. but a god isn’t necessary to the partiers.

Or perhaps I was drunk and it wasn’t so great. The memory, though is still a good one.

Here’s to party’s and the glimpse of memory you may be lucky enough to have of them.

Culinary, Chaos, Suitcase

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by @ladychap84

La viande est dans le cuisine. La maleta esta en la cocina. The suitcase is in the kitchen.

Ever since I hit my head, every thought plays through my mind in French, Spanish and then English.


I can write in one language but it takes me three times as long as the average person parce que, porque, BECUASE! I have to filter out the other two languages with each thought.

I don’t go out anymore. I order everything online so I don’t need to speak to anyone. I live off of the state.

My brother tells me to go to a doctor so I can be officially diagnosed with a disability. How do I get taken seriously?

When I hit my head and everything scrambled around, doctors took MRI’s and X-Rays. They couldn’t find anything wrong.

Honestly though, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an international game of telephone happening within one of the folds of my brain.

Just three complete caricatures of culture whispering to each other in an infinite loop of every changing words and phrases.

A guy with a beret and carry-all bag full of baguettes whispers “Je cuisine la viande” into the left ear of a hairy man dressed in black waving around a red cape with a guitar slung on his back. He whispers, “Yo cocino la carne” into the left ear of a dude in board shorts, no shirt and long blonde hair. Then west coast says, “I cook the meat.”

Why most of the thoughts and phrases are culinarily inspired, I don’t know. Perhaps we’re all hungry.

How do I describe all that to a doctor? It’s multi-lingual chaos and I’m sure she won’t believe me.

Scorch, Violet, Toys

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

The sky shimmered for a moment between the violet clouds. Like a glassy mirage in the deep purple disappearing into infinity where cosmonauts fall in love with earths finity.

Space ships: toys in the bathtub they float in the expanse. Cosmonauts: kids in the deep end terrified of staring for too long at the bottom. The anxiety of what might appear gripping them.

A glance back at that glowing ball of blue, brown and green hues with wisps of white like a tattered cloak.

The mind will twist into itself, further than the shape of its walnut, deeper than its shell.

There is no warm comprehension only cool calculations: The language of positions, diagrams, degrees, millimeters, rations, nuts and bolts. Still, never their minds attempt to bury the why, who, what, where, how?

The cosmonauts dare to ask. They stare and float and wait for answers suspended in antigravity but they can only ask and make calculations.

To the rest of the bipods standing on that illuminated globe, the answers are the cosmonauts. The space travelers turn from earth, seeing it as the light at the end of the tunnel being swallowed as they drift closer and closer to nothing.

Understanding comes, not directly, to the questions ahead in the vastness but from the things of earth.

Staring into that blackness, seeing lights poking through the black blanket. The inspiration to kneel and reach their hands out to the nothing is tempting. they do not have answers so they beg for a screaming face to prove their questions are correct to begin with.

A momentary slip. Their great understanding of earth has allowed them to partially, if only feebly, understand what is not earth.

Answers be damned. The truth of the matter is always in asking questions in the correct order. So it goes the cosmonauts built a ladder mode of questions and bombs. They rode their explosions into the meat of the sky.

So they return. The cosmonauts not with answers, only slightly different questions until they ride those propulsion toys back into the violet of dusk, scorching the sky.

Railway, Mountainous, Short

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

In the Yukon there is a train that runs through the mountains. How the builders of this railway constructed those hundreds of miles of perfectly parallel lines through rocky, mountainous terrain, is a wonder every bit as spectacular as the views from the cars.

My grandfather loved that trip. We took a boat from Seattle to Alaska and floated around the last frontier. He was all smiles, a grin that covered his teeth but ran ear to ear.

On the train we rode during a day trip, he bought a hat as a souvenir. He wore that hat almost everyday until he went to the hospital for the last time.

I don’t know why I’m thinking about him now but I do know that I often think about him during times when I have a lot on my mind.

All my life I’ve been compared to my grandfather. The same short, stocky build. The same generally mild temperament but with a rare temper.

I think about where I am in life and the things I’ve gone through to get here. Normally I compare them to my grandfathers life and the things he went through.

None of it was remotely the same but somehow we’re similar.

The question I have for myself now is what am I thinking about that has me going through this exercise.

Maybe there is no reason. Maybe it’s year seven and all my cells have completely changed, I’m a different person. Maybe it’s just bed time.

Whatever reason, I know I’m thinking about my grandpa, wearing that velcro strap hat with “Alaska” written on the crown of the cap and he’s smiling.

Somber, Punish, Word

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by https://wordcounter.net/random-word-generator

No. That’s the word that terrifies Henry. In his mind, a “no” is meant only to punish. Hearing one directed at him puts him in a somber mood.

The first time he heard no was outside of the walls of his families estate.

Taking his Pinarello bicycle down the road, he stopped at a 7-11. This was also the first time he had left home on his own.

Walking into the gas station, he noted the red vest the attendant was wearing. The kid in the vest was about his age.

“Can I have a Redbull, some gum, a bag of Cheetos and some Gatorade?” asked Henry.

“Sure,” said red vest.


Henry stood there and waited. Red vest read his magazine.

“Are you gonna get my stuff?” Asked Henry.

“No, but I’ll ring you up.”

Ponder, Equal, Found

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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In his hands was the Voynich Manuscript. A 240 page document from the 15th century with illustrations and text. Most interesting was the text; it could not be traced to any known language.

The illustrations themselves were also quite interesting. The first half filled with renderings of plants, unfamiliar to the planet. The second half filled with drawings of human forms sliding through tubes, being dismembered, and arranged in some sort of sack.

The manuscript had been found in the early 1900’s and now it was in my hands. An impulse vibrated through me to stuff the book in my shirt and walk out of the rare books section of one of Yale’s libraries.

Instead, I stared into the pages, past the ink, as if something would crawl out of the microscopic fibers. I pondered what this would mean but not for long. A couple of dots over one of the strange letters began to grow. The Umlauts twisted around each other growing but remaining equal to each other in size.

On the page in front of me was now a rendering of a mobile phone with a cracked screen. The text accompanying the previous illustration now changed as well.

I was still unable to read it but the entire page had reformatted itself.

On its own, the page turned and the swirling dots turned the existing illustration into a new one. This time it looked like a bowl holding parts of some sort of machine. The text changed and the Umlauts moved to the next page.

I was in awe. If I could learn the language of the Voynich Manuscript, I would come up with words to better describe my feelings. I can’t so I was in awe of the book rewriting itself while I held it. Each page the dots move faster and faster until the last few pages were a rush of wind before the book shut.

I nearly dropped the book, which pulled me back to reality.

Now I thought about what it looked like to be given the opportunity to hold the original Voynich Manuscript and return a completely different book. I was amazed how the mundane world of social pressure was a stronger pull than the wonder and magic I had just witnessed.

I set the book down and walked out of the library.

Abhorrent, Potato, Illumine

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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In the evenings Peter would walk around to the backside of the mall, where the dumpsters lived. Though the smell of the dumpsters behind the food court inspired in him a disgust and loathing that seemed to come from some unknown place deep within him.

Once in a while, Peter would visit the dumpsters, not for its tangible treasures but for those brief glimpses at illumined memories. Hopping into the rankest dumpster he could find, Peter closed his eyes and breathed normally. He didn’t want to force the memories, he only hoped to inspire them to surface.

The sound of a grown man’s yell might be the only memory.

A glimpse at crocodile skin slipping into murky water.

The weight of a dead body in his arms.

But they were only as real as dreams. They lacked roots in his current life. Living on the side of a highway, looking forward to meals under golden arches but otherwise settling for whatever could be found in dumpsters.

Sometimes, even while awake, Peter would lose all grip on reality and have the impusle to fly. He might stand on the edge of a freeway overpass, stuck between what he has experienced to be gravity and what he feels just might be true.

He’ll laugh when a passerby trips, falls or drops something they hold but if it’s a child, Peter rushed over to help. The guardians, the adults caring for the children tell him to “get outta here” or “get the hell outta here” or “Fuck off.”

More often than not he doesn’t feel right. He feels like a sand storm. Everything he is twisting, shaking and vibrating inside him. The only thing keeping it all in is his skin.

He kept potatoes just so he could watch them grow eyes. They looked like they were trying to escape themselves too.

Survey, Incompetent, Windy

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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The entire family was there; Mom, Dad, Seth (my brother) and Uncle Matt, who was the last family member we called.

The five of us were accepted onto Family Feud Twister, a new format for the show which moved the entire set around in the heart of tornado alley. Usually the game show began indoors but by the end, tornadoes had completely ripped all non-essential pieces of the set. Often, there were casualties.

The weather element was presented for its audiences by a clip from the first season; a contestant from Wisconsin, Judy, remarks “Gosh it sure is windy.” just after the opposing family gets blown away and the laugh track turned on.

We started the game by choosing America’s number 1 surveyed answer to the question “Name a reason you might be addicted to being on your computer.”

The Smackersons buzzed in first with “Porn!”

Survey says–Porn, the number two answer on the board.

We got our chance to say number one. Huddling up, Uncle Matt knew the answer

Kill cams.

Survey says–Watching kill cams, number one answer. The board is yours.

We hopped around and played up our excitement for the camera.

The room shuttered and we heard a cracking sound. Wind was beating hell out of the set but the show went on.

Name something you might eat with an Impossible burger.

Faux Fries.

Survey says–Faux Fries, number one answer.

Who was the most–

–The flurry of windy punches against the set culminated into a Haymaker that sent the roof and four walls twisting off into the night sky. A camera operator was pulled out of her seat but her tether kept her 10 feet in the air.

The hair and make-up guy came around and plopped a dollop of grease on our heads before smoothing our hair back.

Who was the most famous President of the United States?

Chester Arthur.

Survey says–X

Dammit! Incompetent Uncle Matt.

Mean, Mean, Mean

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
words/phrase provided by Dad

One of the oldest debates in history was that of the meaning of mean. For those that study such things, they theorize that something was lost in translation and originals no longer exist.

The confusion lay around the intended definition of the word “mean”. The sentence at the very end of the ancient script read “Discover mean.”

That first interpretation was that the author intended its readers to discover purpose, a reason for living. However, certain philosophers came along and proposed that mean was intended to be mathematical. That to spend time looking for purpose was a fool’s errand, like looking for air. An average, however, could be discovered. In other words they argued, you may not find a purpose but you can find what makes you happy, what makes you content. Discover that mean.

The two theories lived on in two different belief systems, mostly at peace but sometimes at war.

A third theory was introduced mostly from warring radicals on both sides of the two existing theories. Having seen and caused their fair share of violence they put forth the theory that “discover mean” was intended for all to find and root out evil. To slice out cancerous elements everywhere.

Of course, no one pointed out how comfortable the already violent ones were able to adopt this new violent belief. They felt justified in their acts, arguing it was all for the greater good.

In between these three theories were the jokes, sayings and philosophies that people knew but did not widely adopt or apply to their personal identities.

Some said the argument was as fruitless as the Protestant claim that Jesus dying on the cross had said “I tell you today, you shall be with me in paradise.”

A single comma split families, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

So the meaning of the mean created division.

Only a few thought to ask who had written the script to begin with, where had it come from, what was the context for the rest of the piece.

The scrolls seemed to amount to an individuals notebook filled with records of inventory, lists of people and the odd bit of scribblings which included jokes, philosophical questions and the beginnings of stories.

My favorite theory is that humans tend to believe that our current times and understanding of humanity is the most advanced. But the human experience is the same. To quantify human experience, we’d arrive at the same mean now as in 800 AD. To search for purpose would be to arrive at the same mean. To be kind would be to defeat the same mean.

Peca, “Cara same”, Brioche

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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I broke my rule of selecting 3 words. I also broke some of a relationship. A relationship that has out grown me while I’m stuck thinking about that kid I used to call Peca, “Cara same”, and, to a lesser degree, Brioche. Those were names to tease and laugh. Now, they no longer fit.

Briana Marie Chapman, those three words have out grown me. Those three proper nouns were tossed at me on the sound-wave of a giggle and I threw them back with a snarl and a wave of a my middle finger.

I was wrong. I’ve thought about it everyday since but have been too much of a coward to tell you anything directly.

I guess I wanted to figure out why I feel this way–felt this way. I wanted to be justified but really, I don’t know you as Briana Marie Chapman. Which is a strange thing because I hold you in such high regard. I always have.

From watching you pick up rodents and reptiles with no problem, to literally climbing up the walls to holding your own against my teasing which culminated in leaving a red hand print on my back. All the way to teaching for a year on your own in a country where the language was completely foreign to you. To your latest endeavors.

I’m proud of that person, who from afar, I know as Briana Marie Chapman. The first person I call to tell important things, “I bought a ring, I’m engaged, I’m going to rehab.” That’s a trust I never question.

That’s peca, “cara same”, and brioche, but really it’s not. It’s B.M.C., always has been and I have a hunch that my retarded grasp on that fact has something to do with our distance. I think, subconsciously I held/hold an idea of your and not what is. So I haven’t grown with the relationship, instead I feel like a kid holding onto his tattered piece of “blanky”. I’m a grown man holding up a few memories that no longer fit.

I’m mostly sad and angry that for some reason or another I’m not a part of your life. Something for which I can only blame myself.

Badge, Suit, Crushed

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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I say hello, that’s what I do. When those automatic doors slide open, parting like some sort of old testament miracle, I lift up my hand and wave. Anyone walking in will be greeted by a cool blast of air upon entrance and a crisp wave with a smile from me, the top Walmart greeter in these United States.

Every morning I thank god for gasoline, Marlboro Reds and every day low, low prices that can’t be beat. I slip on my blue vest and straighten my “welcome to Walmart” badge.

I don’t own a suit or tie, I got three pairs of jeans, two polo shirts, twelve socks, one pair of Nike Air Jordan’s and a blue vest. All from that beautiful store house, the Walmart.

Easiest job in the world and the only job I ever wanted. First time I went to Kmart I thought “god damn this is alright.” First time I went to Target I thought, “wow, it can’t get much better than this.” First time I went to Walmart I said, “as Jesus is Jewish, I’m never leaving this place.”

I got my job that day and kept it. Even after that forklift crushed my right foot. Even after that ranch dressing spill in the refrigerated section made me slip and break my hip. Even after the lawyers told me Walmart wouldn’t cover the cost of my surgeries and rehabilitation.

I’ve still never left Walmart and if you don’t like it I’ll greet you with a smile then tell you to get the fuck out.

Hum, Carry, Fantastic

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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It was almost vibrating the ground I stood on. Something in my carry-on was buzzing within the folds of clothes, toiletries and books in my suitcase. A faint hum was heard from the shaking taking place.

I looked around to check if anyone noticed. To distract from the sound I rocked my carry-on back and forth. The counter was fast approaching, only two ahead, shit! Only one person ahead of me.

Opening my bag in front of everyone would reveal to them the 3D printed knives I was taking to my convention. My toothbrush was vibrating on “deep clean”, a setting I used to clean between my braces.

The knives came apart so that none of the pieces themselves looked like weapons. This concept was intended for anyone who wanted to buy it. How they used it was on them.

If I could partially unzip my case, reach in and fish for the toothbrush, would I be able to remove the batteries?

I felt around for the buzzing toothbrush, which the advertisements had bragged “could last up to 48 hours on the same batteries.” Who the hell would brush their teeth for even 5 minutes?

Pushing past the shoes and socks. Plastic pieces were pressing against my forearm.

“Next.” The man at the counter shouted. I jerked my arm out and felt my plastic handy work slice along the length of my forearm.

Fantastic. The integrity of the blades effectiveness could not be questioned. It was the timing of this demonstration that was worrisome.

With no clue as to how deep the cuts where, I hustled to the counter, holding out my open passport. Why I chose my wounded arm to display, I have no idea.

The man at the ticket counter hadn’t noticed. He was busy copying numbers from my ticket and international ID, clacking feverishly away at his keyboard.

Blood was running down my thumb. A drip was forming near the nail, threatening to hop onto my passport.

“Do you still need this?” I asked, shaking the passport, which shook the drip right onto my headshot.


Pushy, Collect, Hulking

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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She kept insisting that I should purchase a red handkerchief, “handmade and lasts forever.”

Great but I don’t want a handkerchief. I told her this over and again.

I was only in the shop to send a package. In the back of the shop someone, her son I think, was getting the labels and everything.

For waiting customers, the owners had items for purchase on display. There were a number of Nascar hats, greeting cards, various candy bars and energy pills. There were also scarves and handkerchiefs.

A combination of items that I imagined slipped out of the trailers of various trucks.

I had made the mistake of sniffer. The lady jumped at the chance.

“You need this handkerchief, it’s only five dollars.” Then began our dance of the Pushy’s and No’s.

No thank you.

It’s a great deal.

I don’t need a handkerchief. I have Kleenex in the car.

Two for five dollars.

Is he almost done with my package?

Two for five dollars and any candy bar of your choice.

I turned at this point to look at the TV behind me in the upper right corner of the room. It had turned on during our banter.

It was the news. The anchor had on an ill-fitting suit. The studio behind him looked like some back room somewhere. He was finishing coverage on a story about the phenomenal cultural shift towards buying greetings cards for every occasion. The next story was a news break:

“This just in, a new law was passed in California banning the use of tissue. Lobbyists for Kleenex are pushing back. The move toward banning Tissue was inspired by the discontinued use of plastic bags by retail stores across the country. Authorities say that using tissue could result in fines of up to $10,000 and 5 years in prison.”

I looked at the lady, frowning.

The guy from the back came out holding my package. In his hulking frame the golf clubs I was shipping looked like a box of toothpicks.

“Handkerchief is now $50.”

“I don[t want the handkerchief, just the package shipped please.”

The two of them spoke in a language I didn’t understand and realized I was getting squeezed no matter what.

If I wasn’t going to fall for their news story, the package carrying hulk would collect.

I paid for my shipping and purchased a nice handkerchief for $200 U.S. A steal, what with the current tissue ban and all.