Tuesday, January 31, 2012

359. Coins for the Ferryman

It was hot in the city.
The bridge over the bay that led out of town was choked with traffic.
When his car finally reached the toll station, he was tired and sweaty and cranky.
The three coins in his damp palm adhered a second longer than he anticipated and each missed their mark, a battered white toll basket.

Monday, January 30, 2012

358. The bridge over the river

Four men came tearing out of the forest.
Seconds later, eight larger and more fearsome men appeared in pursuit.
The first four men dove into the freezing river.
They hid under the river's bridge, waiting while their pursuers cursed and stomped their feet.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

357. The opposite of a collision course?

The bridge had been built over a thousand years ago.
Its builders had long since passed into mystery.
Now the bridge lay at the bottom of a thousand foot chasm.
Two men stood on opposite cliffs, weapons in hand.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

356. An unexpected inheritance

In one part of town, an elderly man of considerable wealth was pronounced dead.
His banker would shortly open a letter prepared for this occasion containing a detailed set of instructions.
This letter would set in motion a series of very dangerous events.
In another part of town, and quite unbeknownst to her, a young woman was about to come into possession of some very valuable and very dangerous artifacts.

Friday, January 27, 2012

355. All the time in the world

You notice things in quiet moments.
For instance, he noticed the two bars closest to the wall were a fraction of an inch further apart than the others.
The man noticed these things from his cell on death row because he had all the time in the world.
He had all the time in the world, but it was all borrowed.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

354. All according to plan

In the world at large, men and women of adventure are in short supply.
The men and women on this mission were men and women of adventure.
They were the first wave of colonists to Mars.
When the second wave of settlers arrived, they found their predecessors thriving just a mile from their crashed spaceship.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

353. Night terrors

His eyes flew open.
He sat straight up trying to orient himself in the dark.
He'd woken from a terrible dream that he couldn't remember.
All-you-can-eat sushi can be a harsh mistress.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

352. A smooth recovery

Unclipping the safety pin, he jabbed his finger, drawing blood.
He re-latched the pin, being careful to do himself no further damage, and discarded it in a drawer.
Next, he grabbed the mason jar from the shelf and spread its contents on the table.
He searched the pile of buttons for a replacement to the one he'd torn off his suit pants earlier that day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

351. Fascism for beginners

The 1936 Olympics were a pageant for Adolph Hitler's hateful ideas.
Among the American athletes in Berlin was Michael Hamill, a diplomatic liaison from the State Department.
He was disgusted by what he saw, so, when the opportunity presented itself at an official banquet, he stole Hitler's watch.
His sons donated it to the Smithsonian in 1971.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

350. The importance of baseball in the grand scheme of the universe

On July 17th, 1941, Joe DiMaggio failed to record a hit.
It was the first time in 56 games.
They say it is a streak that will never be broken.
On July 17th, 2004, Mary-Alice celebrated her 21st day sober.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

349. The sense of touch

Some days, we're alone in a sea of strangers.
We float along looking for moorings.
Every so often, we see a familiar face in the crowd.
Then a simple touch lets us know we're still here.

Friday, January 20, 2012

348. The tools of a professional

She opened the drawer to reveal her equipment.
Like a surgeon, she held each piece aloft for her audience to examine.
She held up a citrus reamer.
It was used for reaming citrus.

347. I believe in Lady Byng

"Cut the little prick in two!"
My father, dressed in a leather jacket and khakis, was standing on his seat screaming through cupped hands.
I was seven, and mortified.
I had forgotten the memory completely until I found myself bellowing something nearly identical at my own boy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

346. A cat at the heart of the matter

After eighteen hours away from it, the bed felt about as close to perfect as you'd want.
Twin bedside lamps clicked off in unison, banishing the remaining light from the house.
From somewhere in the dark came a sound like the last gasps of a desperate man.
The cat was puking up dry kibble or a hair ball.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

345. Hell-bent for leather

She was riding back to the farm on her father's old plough horse.
The old nag wasn't much more than grey horsehide strung over old bones.
In the distance, she could see a rider moving quickly, kicking up a cloud of dust.
When he got close, she could see he was clutching a leather saddle bag and riding hell-bent for leather.

Monday, January 16, 2012

344. The one-eyed man is king

The man in the white suit turned in his seat.
Where his right eye should have been, was an empty socket.
He pulled a glass orb from his pocket and placed it in the waiting cavity.
As he stood up, he pointed his pistol at the duo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

343. In the land of giants

The air around the device crackled with blue-green electricity.
In a flash, the three volunteers were miniaturized.
At their new height, the lab was a monstrous, alien place.
The towering scientist knelt down and placed a tiny ship on the floor in front of them.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

342. Re: Judith

She was walking back from a smoke break when she saw it.
Her supervisor had gone to the toilet and left his email open.
She stole a glance at the row of cubicles to make sure she wasn't being watched and then sat down at his computer.
The subject left her ice cold, "Re: Judith".

Friday, January 13, 2012

341. The Drake Equation

A small planet somewhere out there in space had been sending us messages for thousands of years.
Problem was, we didn't know it.
When we finally discovered and deciphered the message, it contained a star chart and plans for a spaceship.
The crackerjack team of astronauts who landed on that small planet found a long-dead civilization.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

340. The coin of the realm

In some places, they say honour is the coin of the realm.
That's why these two men staggered out of the cabin into the snow.
They were armed: the short one held a broken bottle and the fat one brandished a small hatchet.
Their breath steamed in the cold in the moment before things got worse.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

339. Black hole

She didn't recognize the face in the mirror.
The government's surgical team had done a masterful job.
Tomorrow, the technicians would erase her memories and replace them with new ones.
A covert government agent was halfway born.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

338. The defence of Spring Street

The city was in flames.
One by one and in pairs, they came out of their houses.
They came to protect their neighbours.
Because at the end of the world, all we have is each other.

Monday, January 9, 2012

337. And chips

It was a rotten, rainy day.
He'd waited forever in line at the grocery store.
He drove halfway home and then stopped the car.
He'd forgotten the chips.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

336. Thumbs

We all have them.
Most of us have two.
Our opposable digits have helped bend the planet to our collective will.
Now get yours out of my damn face.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

335. Contents unknown

There was a receipt from a fancy restaurant.
There was also an old student card.
And for some reason, there was an advertisement for the circus.
He should have stolen a different wallet.

Friday, January 6, 2012

334. My cup runneth over

It was a real live adult party.
You know, the kind kids want to stay up to see.
Stumbling through the room, he spilled booze everywhere.
He was the life of the party.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

333. A robot that spits puppies

She was standing in line at the amusement park.
There had to be hundreds of people in front of her.
It was the 4th of July.
The boy in front of her was describing his idea for an invention in minute detail.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

332. Adventure awaits

The children took turns climbing down the ladder into the dark.
They were on an adventure.
Their flashlights cut tiny swathes through the inky blackness.
The city had miles of sewers that had laid abandoned for years.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

331. The worst thing you can do is panic

The naturalist was in search of a rare specimen not seen since the last century.
His energy flagging under the tropical sun, he stopped for a rest.
He doffed his pith helmet and wiped his brow with a handkerchief, marveling at his surroundings. 
As he marveled, he scanned the jungle looking for a way to extricate himself from the quicksand in which he was rapidly sinking.

Monday, January 2, 2012

330. Over and out

A group of six astronauts exited the landing capsule.
Three suns glinted off their domed helmets.
As they crested a hill, they lost radio contact with Mission Control on Earth.
There was no way to report they'd just come face to face with six alien giants.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

329. Qwerty

She injured her hand playing squash.
That explained the splint on her left index finger.
It also explained the complete lack of 'f's in her report.
Stupid New Year's resolution.