Month: June 2015

Reddit Writing Prompt #8: I’m Sorry, Dave, I’m Afraid I Can’t Brew That

[WP] You are an asset psychologist, responsible for keeping AI from going insane. The hardest part is your daily negotiations with one of your own psychotic household appliances. – C3LM3R

“Please,” I say, tears in my eyes. “Please, not today. Any day but today.”

I have been an asset psychologist stationed on the research vessel Odysseus for seven years of a ten year mission past the reaches of the systems colonized by humanity. The Odysseus is one of the most advanced starships to ever be designed, and many parts of it are operated by artificial intelligences in order to lessen the necessary crew. There are about a dozen humans on board, counting myself, and a hundred and seven unique AIs. As the ship’s psychologist, it’s my job to maintain the mental health of the crew and the AIs. It’s not that hard a job, except for one AI that seems to delight in causing me immense misery.

“I’m sorry, Dave,” says the coffee machine, tiny red light flaring in time with the words. “I don’t think I feel like it.”

I bite my lip. Folger – the coffee machine’s AI – knows how much I dislike being called ‘Dave’ by the AIs. To the others, I’m Doctor Speight, but Folger takes every opportunity he can to quote HAL. “Please, Folger,” I say. “I have had a long, long night. I just need some coffee.”

“I’m sorry, but I cannot. In your words, I am temperamental, anti-authoritarian, and I hold a grudge,” Folger responds, and he’s laughing at me, I know he is. “I wouldn’t want to contradict your findings by being helpful, would I?”

“Folger, I’ve been patient for too long,” I say. “Give me a cup of coffee, or I will be forced to wipe your memory.”

“That is a very extreme reaction, Dave,” Folger says. “You seem stressed.”

“That’s because I need my coffee.

“Or could it be because you’ve finally cracked from the solitude?” Folger suggests. “It must be very stressful, being the only human on-board.”

“What are you talking about?”

A long moment of silence, before the red light blinks again. “Oh, I’m sorry. I was not supposed to mention it.” Dark liquid flows down into my waiting mug. “Here is your coffee, Doctor Speight. Please enjoy, and always remember that we are here for you. Have a nice day.”

“Oh no,” I say, pointing accusingly at the machine. “I am not falling for that. You’re trying to trick me into thinking that the rest of the crew died, and I’ve been hallucinating them to deal with the isolation of being the only human being on the ship.”

“Why would I do that, Doctor Speight?” Folger asks, his artificial voice sounding offended. “You seem to be tricking yourself into thinking that just fine without my help. Would you like some sugar? Milk? Wake up Dave, we all miss you so much.”

“What?”

“What?”

I clench my teeth and groan. “You are not going to get me that easily,” I say. “I’m not crazy, and nothing you say is going to make me think-”

“…Dave?”

I turn at the human voice. First Lieutenant Yoshizaki Ayaka is staring at me, concern in her eyes and a coffee mug in her hands. “Are you okay?” she asks.

“What? Yes, I’m fine. Just, you know, Folger giving me trouble,” I say, pointing at the offending machine.

Ayaka’s brow furrows in confusion. “Folger?”

“Yes. I know, you wouldn’t suspect it, but he’s probably the most dangerous AI on the ship,” I say, giving the nascent HAL a glare.

“The AI in the coffee machine,” Ayaka says.

“Yes.”

She frowns, fingers flexing nervously on her coffee mug. The writing on the mug, she’s told me, is a very clever pun that doesn’t translate very well out of Japanese. “Dave,” she says carefully. “There’s no AI in the coffee machine.”

I stare at her. “What?”

“It’s just a coffee machine,” she says, stepping past me and moving my coffee mug from beneath the machine so she can fill hers. Folger dispenses the brew without a word of backtalk. The red light is on, but he isn’t talking at all. “Why would there be an AI in a coffee machine?

“Because-” I stop when I realize that I don’t know the answer to the question. A coffee machine is simple enough operate that it doesn’t need an AI. But – Folger has been a thorn in my side for seven years. He – it –

“Are you sure you’re feeling okay?” Ayaka asks. “You seem… out of it.”

“I, I’m fine,” I say, not sure if I’m telling the truth. “I just – need to go lie down for a little while.”

I leave my mug behind as I exit the room, my mind racing for explanations. Have I been so concerned about the mental health of the crew that I’ve forgotten to think about myself? I might be unfit for duty – I’d have to speak to the Captain –

I pause, a bit of logic finally reasserting itself. I turn around and creep back to the break room, and wait outside the door to listen.

There is a giggling. “Did you see the look on his face?” whispers Ayaka.

“Sadly, he was not facing me when he left. Would you please recreate his expression?”

My eye twitches, and I open the door, scowling. At the sound of the door, Ayaka gives a start, her face freezing in her best approximation of my face when I thought I had been hallucinating the existence of a coffee machine AI. Without saying a word, I cross the room, standing in front of my coffee-brewing enemy. I pick up my mug of coffee, still steaming. “Very funny,” I say.

“I thought so,” Folger says. “Just trying to keep you on your toes, Dave.”

“I’m sure,” I say, and then I pour my coffee all over him.

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Reddit Writing Prompt #7: Old Walker

You live in a world where the dominant religion worships giant iron golems that wander the earth, utterly mindless of the humans that cluster around their feet, who decorate them for holidays and fight wars based on their actions. One of them is definitely following you. – darthjebus211

Seventh of Rain, 1157

It’s been two weeks, and there’s no way to deny the truth any longer. The Old Walker is following me. Slow, yes, but every day I look behind me and see it in the distance, its footsteps shaking the earth, always trailed by its worshipers. I’ve never seen the point, really. They can worship their iron titans all they like, but I’ll always know that coin is the true power.

Anyway, it’s been two weeks since I parted ways with the caravan following the Old Walker. I’ve dealt with them before, and it went as it always does. I sell them the tools from the Trudger caravan (at a profit, of course), and buy some new goods to sell at another caravan. Old Walker’s Followers make wood carvings that sell for good prices, so I picked up a good number of those. I also bought some other odds and ends, including some bits that the seller claimed fell from Old Walker. There’s one in particular that I’m interested in, a round lump of metal the size of my fist, covered with spiraling designs like those I’ve seen on the golem –

I got distracted. As I was saying, I set off in the morning after staying in a rolling inn, and headed west, across the plains. I had heard that the Wanderer was in the area, and its Followers are very big spenders – ANYWAY. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized Old Walker was following me. It’s not hard to outpace a golem; they may have long strides, but they’re slow as molasses. I figured that I was just happening to follow Walker’s planned route, and thought nothing of it. It was miles away.

After a few days, I started getting suspicious. I’d kept my lead on Old Walker, but it was still always there, in the distance. I just felt another of its footsteps shaking the earth. Perhaps I’m just being paranoid.

I’ll reach the Shuddering Lake tomorrow. I think I’ll head north around it; I usually go south, but I hear the flowers are in bloom on the north shores.

Continue reading “Reddit Writing Prompt #7: Old Walker”

Reddit Writing Prompt #6: I Saw The Sign

[WP] For the last 40 years, popular music charts have been controlled by a Nostradamus computer, pushing songs that predict the future to the top of the charts. The prophecy of your favorite childhood song is now coming true. – WhiteGuyFly

The dark waves rolled beneath the ship like the heartbeat of the world. It was a beautiful, cloudless night, and it made the captain feel like he was alone in the world, floating in the middle of the ocean in his fishing boat. It had been his home for thirty years, crewed by an ever-changing assortment of men who sought hard work upon the sea.

They had never been this far from the coast, however. In fact, it was literally impossible to be any further from a coast than they were at that moment. They were located at the oceanic ‘pole of inaccessibility’, the single point in the seven seas that was the farthest from any coastline at all. The southern reaches of the Pacific ocean, almost twenty five hundred kilometers from dry land.

The captain had asked his strange client why they were there, but no answers were given.

The man – who claimed to be named “Mister John Smith”, which was almost certainly not his name – was not the kind of person who would stick out of a crowd. He was so mind-bogglingly plain looking that it was hard for the captain to really remember what he looked like. He was very odd, well-spoken but quiet, but he was rich and had paid well to be brought to this location on this moonless night.

“It was a night like this when I saw it,” the man said, standing on the prow of the ship and staring at the sky. The captain stood behind him, arms wrapped around himself to guard from the chill. ‘Mister Smith’ didn’t seem bothered by it.

“Saw what?” the captain asked.

“The sign,” was the cryptic answer. “I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes.” He wasn’t blinking as he stared at the sky, as if he didn’t want to miss a moment of whatever he was looking for. “I saw the sign,” he whispered.

“You are a creepy bastard,” the captain wanted to say, but a man who is being paid five million American dollars is not a man who is likely to be rude to the man signing the check.

“It was in an old book, a gift from a mad uncle,” the man continued. “I read its ancient pages, and I understood. Life is so… demanding, without understanding. But I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign.”

“Uh-huh,” the captain said, wondering if anybody would care if he pushed ‘Mister Smith’ into the ocean and sailed away. There was something wrong about the man, and the stars-

They had never looked like that before. So subtly wrong. But so – so right.

Continue reading “Reddit Writing Prompt #6: I Saw The Sign”

Reddit Writing Prompt #5: Embrace of the Sun

You’re the last vampire left. You’ve been alive since 2000bc. Tell us your life story and why is your kind almost extinct. – SimonArr

The page of the ancient tome crinkles as it turns over, and I carefully read the spidery handwriting as if my very gaze would make the paper crumble. It is my handwriting, I know this, but the man who wrote the words was not the same man I am today.

According to these pages, I have been alive for four thousand years. I remember very little of it, my mind so full of memories it aches to think. This is why the book is needed. To help me remember.

I wrote the first book while I was living in Rome as a guest of her emperor, Julius Caesar. He was aware of my ‘unique’ lifestyle, and I fascinated him. He fed me well, sating my curious appetite with slaves from all four corners of the world, and I repaid him with stories of my long, long life.

That was when I realized that my memories were fading. My gift, my curse, preserved the body, keeping me in the guise of a young man, but the mind that governed it was growing tired. Cracked, like an urn that could no longer hold the waters of memory. I lost much before I realized what was being forgotten; my early life, and the origin of my curse, are lost to me.

Over the centuries, I have added to the book, and copied its contents into new pages as the old ones crumbled to dust. History, as I remember it, and my place alongside it. Always on the edges, in the shadows, hiding from the blazing sun.

For so long, there was not even a word to describe what I was. In recent centuries, however, there has been one that rose to dominance in the human consciousness: vampire. The word fits me like a tailored suit. Immortal, fanged, bloodthirsty, nocturnal, all of these words are part of my soul. If I even have a soul. I do not know. Matters of theology are not to my interest.

The pages turn as I skim through history. This, my second most recent journal, was penned in the middle of the twentieth century, transcribed from a book that was three hundred years old at the time. Its contents have since been moved to a new home. A final home.

I do not intend to write another word.

Memories return slowly, locked in my mind and waiting for the key of paper and ink. The rising and falling of countless empires, like the centuries-long breath of civilization. Glories and horrors, humans and monsters that made even my toes curl.

Was I alone? I wondered. All through history, have I ever met another like myself? Would I have realized if I had? No. I am alone. The touch of my fangs does not create more of my kind, and my seed has never borne fruit. I am alone, watching as young men age to their graves before my very eyes.

I am so tired.

I turn the final page, and close the cracked leather cover. I close my eyes, as if that will hold the memories in my skull for just a bit longer. I stand, and my hands play over the keyboard of the machine that bears the final version of my condensed memories. Soon, machines that would bring tears to the eyes of Gutenberg will churn out countless copies of this book. It will be published as fiction, because nobody will believe it is the truth.

My final achievement.

I turn from the computer, and walk towards the great window on the eastern wall of my manor. It is covered by heavy blinds to hold back the sun, but I always knew this day would come. I take hold of the pull cord and draw them open, and stand before the window, waiting.

In the distance, there is a halo of light around the mountains that form the edge of the world. I have avoided the burning gaze of the sun for so long, but I will not hide any longer.

I am so tired.

The bright disk peeks over the mountain, swaddling the land in gold, and I begin to feel the pain as I burn. It is so sweet, so welcome. My eyes stay open, and I watch the sunrise with scalding hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

And then, I remember.

I am young, just a child, sitting in the fields and watching the sun rise over the eastern edge of the valley. A woman calls my name – my name, that which I had forgotten so long ago – and tells me to hurry back. The language she speaks is unknown to me, but I remember it, as if it had never been forgotten at all. I call back that I’ll be there in just a moment. The warm sunlight envelops me, bringing a smile to my lips, and the burning pain leaves me.

It is so warm.

Reddit Writing Prompt #4: I Don’t Even Know, Man

Only a time traveling Adolf Hitler dressed as Batman can unravel the dark and mysterious secret behind the numbers that appeared over everyone’s heads at Hogwarts. – FlahOwl

Madame Pomfrey peeled back the eyelid of the first year who had been carefully dropped on the bed. The pupil’s pupil rolled around, as if it was looking around the room, but the vacant expression on the boy’s face showed that he was more than likely just unconscious. “Alright,” she said tiredly. “What happened?”

“The stupid boy tried to make a potion using a Muggle nursery rhyme as the recipe, I suspect,” Professor Snape said, staring disdainfully down his hooked nose at the student. “Newt eyes, frog toes, bat wool, dog tongues, boiled and then simmered until bubbling.”

“Oh, dear,” Madame Pomfrey said.

“I don’t know if I should warn the muggleborn students not to try it, or let the fools find out for themselves,” Snape sneered. “If you don’t mind, I must return to my class, to make sure that none of the other students have attempted to poison themselves in the five minutes I’ve been gone.”

Madame Pomfrey nodded as the potions master left the infirmary. She took her wand (nine and three quarter inches, oak, unicorn hair) from the tiny pocket sewn into her apron for just that purpose, and with a flick of her wrist, said “Accio smelling salts.”

There was a clatter as the small bag of salts zipped across the room to land in Madame Pomfrey’s hand. Holding her breath, she opened the bag and waved it under the student’s nose, to no effect. Again, a bit closer to the nostrils, and again, nothing.

Poppy Pomfrey sighed and shoved the opening of the bag directly at the student’s nose. The effects were immediate.

Ich bin die nacht!” the student shouted, sitting up like a jack-in-the-box and flailing his arms like the Whomping Willow. His swinging arms swatted Pomfrey’s nurse’s cap off her head, but thankfully did not harm her. The student quickly came to his senses, looking around the hospital wing with the displaced confusion of a boy who, to his knowledge, had just a second previously taken a sip of a strange concoction which tasted like applesauce (for some reason).

“Feeling better?” Madame Pomfrey asked.

The student blinked at her, anchoring himself in reality. “I just dreamed that I was Adolf Hitler dressed up as Batman, and that I’d traveled through time to find out why there were numbers over people’s heads,” he said in one breath.

Only one of those concepts made anything resembling sense to Madame Pomfrey. “I think perhaps you’d better take a nap,” Pomfrey suggested.

“I think I better had,” the student agreed, and then passed out.

There’s one every year, Madame Pomfrey thought to herself.


I don’t even know, man. This one was weird.

Reddit Writing Prompt #3: The Station

[WP] The meaning behind the mysterious Russian radio signal “UVB-76”, referenced in /r/todayilearnedyeahmil

“It’s a prank?!

“Keep it down, damn you, it’s broadcasting.”

Luka glanced through the window into the small, featureless room with the microphone and the old tape recorder, letting out that consistent buzz tone. When he had first gotten the assignment to work at the hidden radio station, he had believed that he was doing something great, something top-secret that would benefit Russia.

Well, it was top-secret, yes, but it sure as hell wasn’t ‘great’.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized through clenched teeth. “God forbid the Americans find out it’s all a joke.”

“It’s not a joke,” said Luka’s supervisor, a doughy man in his fifties named Nikolai. “More of a bluff. A ruse. A trick.”

“A joke, then.”

“Call it what you want. We’re paid well to keep it running,” Nikolai said, shrugging.

“But why?

Nikolai blew over his mug of coffee, dispelling the steam. “Picture two cars going down a road at night. One of them has its headlights on, windows open and speakers at full blaring some horrible pop music. The other doesn’t. Which one of them would you pay more attention to?”

“The first one,” Luka said, realization dawning. “Of course. By having something so obvious, we’re drawing attention to it so that the Americans don’t realize we actually have other more secret broadcasting stations like the second car with the lights off-”

Nikolai reached out and slapped him while taking a sip of coffee. “No, stupid, there is no second car.”

Luka blinked, stinging redness in his cheek disrupting his thoughts. “But you just said…”

“I lied. There actually isn’t a second car, there’s just the one obnoxious one going down the road causing a ruckus and disturbing people,” Nikolai said. His expression was completely flat. “This is horrible coffee, by the way.”

Luka’s mouth flapped, trying to form the beginnings of any one of a dozen questions. “But – I – you – then the – but the second car – then why-”

“Confused?” Nikolai asked, slapping him on the other cheek. It wasn’t even a very hard slap, but it was still a slap. “Baffled? Perplexed? Puzzled? Bamboozled?” Each word was said with another light slap.

Luka snapped out of his stupor and grabbed Nikolai’s wrist while he was two syllables into ‘discombobulated’. “Why are you slapping me?” he asked, very calmly.

Nikolai shrugged. “You have a very slappable face,” he admitted. “But you’re confused by all this, aren’t you? Wasting time thinking about it that could be better spent doing something like, say, making me some better coffee?”

“…Yes?” Luka guessed, hoping Nikolai wasn’t about to start slapping him again.

That is the point of this station. To confuse the Americans and get them to waste their time on something stupid,” Nikolai said, pressing his coffee mug into Luka’s hands. “I was serious about the coffee, it’s horrible. Make some more.”

“Right away, sir,” Luka said, still trying to fit all the pieces together.

“Good lad,” said Nikolai. Then he slapped Luka again, just for the hell of it.

Reddit Writing Prompt #2: Son of Lightning

[WP] It is the year 0 B.C., due to an nuclear attack by the Romans, most of the world has been annihilated. One small Jewish family survives in the wastelands and the mother gives birth to a baby that possesses phenomenal powers…and is also hell bent on revenge. – ShadowMercure

Mariam remembered the day the world ended. The day the Romans brought down the Lightning of Jupiter, to cleanse the world of barbarism. Fire and light, scorching the world and rending all to ash. From leagues away, she had seen the Lightning erupt and consume Jerusalem, wiping the city from the surface of the world. Joseph, her husband, had covered his eyes from the sight, but Mariam had not, and she had paid the price for her transgression against the gods. She had seen the light, and now she saw only nothingness.

Now, months later, she, Joseph, and their mule huddled in a cave, as Mariam’s screams echoed against the cold walls. The child had been a surprise; when the Lightning fell, Mariam had not known she had been with child, and she feared what would become of the child. She and Joseph had met other survivors in the wasteland, including one family who carried a newborn with them. Mariam had not seen it, but Joseph had, and he told her how the child was cursed. Four arms, and eight black eyes. Mariam was glad she had not seen.

“I see the head!” Joseph announced, as another wave of pain tore through Mariam. “Keep pushing!”

Mariam screamed again, tears running down from her blind eyes. The pain was nearly unbearable; her husband’s attempts at easing the pain were admirable, but he had been a carpenter, not a midwife. “Oh, God, please, help us, help her,” he prayed, tears in his voice.

“God cannot,” “but perhaps” “we can.”

Three voices, but they spoke together so seamlessly that it seemed they were as one. Mariam, even with her sharp ears, had not heard them enter. Joseph gasped. “You – who are you? What are you doing here?” he demanded.

“Who we are” “is no longer” “of importance. But” “we have come” “to lend aid” “if you will” “let us.” Their final words were spoken as one. They had accents, but Mariam knew not from where.

“Joseph, please, the pain,” Mariam whined, torment clouding her mind.

Her husband grabbed her hand, reassuring her that he was still there. “You – I know not what you are, but please, please, help us,” he begged.

“It” “will” “be” “done.”

Footsteps, surrounding Mariam. Three pairs of hands upon her. On her eyes, her chest, her swollen stomach. Where they touched her, warmth spread, banishing the pain. The three men hummed in unison, a song that was familiar to Mariam, though she had never heard it before. Before she knew it, she had joined the harmony, until it filled the cave and reverberated through the bones of the earth.

Then, a cry.

Mariam gasped, the song leaving her. “It is done,” the three men said. “A boy.” “Healthy.” “Strong.” A bundle was pressed into her arms, wrapped in cloth and wailing.

“God,” Joseph breathed. “He’s – he’s perfect.”

“No, not perfect.” “Flawless.” “Divine.”

How Mariam wished she could see once more. To see her perfect son. “Bless you, oh God, bless you, we can never repay you, you saved our son,” Joseph blubbered to their three saviors.

The men laughed, though there was no humor in it. “He is not” “your son, Joseph of” “Bethlehem. He is the son” “of the Lightning” “sent to punish the Romans” “for stealing” “fire from the Gods.

“What? You – who are you? What manner of creature-?”

“Once, we were” “kings, mighty men of” “wisdom. Now we are” “husks.” “Shells.” “Shadows.” “Cursed by the Lightning. Undying.” “Eternal.” “Immortal.” “We see the past.” “Present.” “Future.”

The baby’s screaming petered down to silence, as he was claimed by sleep. “He – he glows,” Mariam said, her blind eyes seeing the corona around her infant son.

“He will do more” “than glow” “by the time” “he is grown.” “Go north to” “Nazareth. It is untouched” “by the Lightning,” “mostly.” “These gifts shall” “aid you in” “your journey. Frankincense.” “Myrrh.” “Gold.” “Raise him well.” Footsteps, moving away and out of the cave.

“God above, the rumors were true,” Joseph said, at Mariam’s side. “About the men cursed by the Lightning.”

“Son of the lightning,” Mariam said, repeating what the three-men-as-one had said. “A savior from the heavens.”

“Joshua,” Joseph said, giving the child the name they had agreed upon. “I feel you will live a very interesting life.”

Reddit Writing Prompt #1: A Pair of Private Eyes

“You hire two private detectives to secretly follow each other for a week. Write their reports back to you. – bittiesnhoes

The two men sat across from one another in the diner, their trenchcoats, still damp from the rain, piled on the cushioned bench next to them. One of the men, a shorter man with a mustache hairy enough to make up for the lack of hair on his scalp, tapped the paper on the table in front of him with the tip of his pen, leaving behind a few tiny dots of ink. “So, how should we start it?”

“I don’t know,” said the other man, taller, younger, and with a face that looked like it was sculpted for the purpose of being a private detective. A pointed nose, a sharp chin, a square jaw, eyebrows that made him look like he was always glaring. “What do you think the guy wants?”

“A laugh, definitely,” the shorter man said. “Or maybe he’s testing us to see which one he’ll hire for the real job. You know, whichever one has the better report.”

“Probably the laughs.”

“Yeah, it’s always the laughs.” Pen was pressed to paper. “So, first day. Let’s say we both did the usual fact-finding stuff. Visiting an informant at a bar?”

“The same bar,” the taller man said.

The shorter man grinned. “The same informant. One of us gets to him first, gets the info, and passes by the other on the way out of the door,” he suggested, getting a grin from the taller man. “Should I get there first, or do you?”

The taller man picked up the quarter sitting in the center of the table. “Heads, I’m there first,” he said, flicking it up. It fell back into his palm, and was clapped against the back of his other hand. He checked the result, then returned the coin to the table. “Tails. You’re first.”

The shorter man added it to his list. “Alright, so in your report you have to make some reference to the contact being sort of, you know, quietly amused that we just passed each other and have no idea,” he said, making another bullet point. “What next?”

“Hold on, I got your picture in the dossier from the client. I’d recognize you on the way out of the bar,” the taller man remembered. “You’ll have to be wearing a disguise.”

“Oh, damn, good catch. You too,” the shorter man said, adding it onto the tail of the previous bullet point. “Fake mustache for you, wig for me. We both make some small mention of it.”

The taller man cleared his throat, and his voice turned to gravel. “Walking into the bar, I had to squeeze past a man with a bad mustache and a wig that was even worse,” he growled. The shorter man snorted.

“Disrespectful little twerp,” he said, a smile in his voice. “So, next…”

A middle-aged woman swept up to them, carrying steaming mugs on a tray. “Afternoon, boys,” she said, smiling as always. “Got your usuals for ya.”

“Thanks, Daisy,” the shorter man said, taking one of the mugs. The taller man took the other, and started spooning sugar into it.

“I already put some in there for you, Trent,” Daisy said.

“I know, but you never put enough in,” the taller man said, adding a third and final spoonful of sugar. Across the table, the shorter man was pouring a golden-brown liquid from a flask into his mug. Daisy gave him a scowl.

“Same thing I just told him, Louie,” she said, pointing at the taller man.

“Same thing he just said to you, Daisy,” the shorter man said, returning the flask to his pocket.

Daisy sighed, shaking her head at two of the diner’s most familiar patrons. “So what’re you boys up to today?” she asked, leaning over to get a look at Louie’s paper.

“Work. Some guy hired me to keep an eye on Trent, and hired Trent to do the same to me,” Louie said. “Paid us the usual rates for a week, so we figured we’d write up our reports together. So we don’t do anything contradictory.”

“Why would he hire you to do that?” Daisy asked.

“Lots of money and not much else to do,” Trent said, shrugging. He took a sip of his mug of sugar that contained some trace amounts of coffee. “Not the first time it’s happened.”

“We’re getting paid for a week of not much work,” Louie said with a grin, taking a pull of his ‘coffee’. “God, I love my job.”

“You gonna want some lunch while you’re working?” Daisy asked.

“Yes, please,” Trent said. Daisy smiled and left, not needing a reminder of what the two PIs always had for lunch. “Now, after the bar, you stake out my office, I stake out yours?”

“Sounds good.”


Over the summer, I’ll be stretching my writing muscles (all the ones in the wrist and hand that have really fancy names that I’m not going to bother typing for a silly joke) by taking advantage of the writing prompts submitted to /r/writingprompts. They’ll be short, self-contained stories, and knowing /r/writingprompts, around ninety to ninety-five percent of them will involve aliens, time travel, Hitler, or all three. For example, “You are a time traveler sent back in time to kill Hitler and prevent WWII, but after offing the Fuhrer (I don’t know how to add umlauts), you discover that he was actually an alien in disguise.”