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MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool

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++ ENTRY THREAD ++


DO NOT DISCUSS THE CONTEST IN THIS THREAD. ALL QUESTIONS, CONCERNS AND COMMENTS GO IN THE DISCUSSION THREAD


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Welcome to February 2019's Monthly Writing Contest: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - MWC19 - I'm the Fool - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Hope you're all enjoying the April Fool's joke from newgrounds like I am. I'm keeping a simple theme for this one. It should be a fun one to write about.


  • THEME:


I want you to write about a situation that ended up making the main character a fool. It could be a prank gone wrong, a funny situation, a bad situation, etc... That's all. Show how your main character is a fool for their choices.


  • RESTRICTIONS:


  1. Word Count Minimum: 700 words
  2. Word Count Maximum: 4000 words
  3. Story must have a strong presence of the monthly theme
  4. Story must be submitted by the deadline below


  • DEADLINE:


May. 2nd 2019: Midnight EST (ie midnight between May. 2nd and May. 3rd)


  • PRIZES:


1st Place: Supporter Status

2nd Place: Supporter Status

3rd Place: Supporter Status


  • SUBMITTING


  1. Post your stories in this thread.
  2. Do not post revisions in this thread. They will be deleted.
  3. You may submit one story only, one time.
  4. Only submit stories that you've written for this competition. I don't want stories that you've written in the past. The point is to write something new and to challenge yourself. If your story shows up as plagarized (aka, found anywhere else on the internet, even if written by you) it will be disqualified.


  • JUDGES:


  1. Fro
  2. (Hidden)
  3. (Hidden)

BBS Signature

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-04-10 15:58:01


The Life Of A Shut In


I always thought that being safe was the best option and this is done by minimizing risk. So I didn't drive and I never hit on any women at the bar. I actually quit going to the bar because drinking could cause liver damage. I also didn't want to get stabbed if I was included unwillingly in a bar fight. So I just sat at home and watched movies and played video games. 


My drinking friends stopped showing up and I didn't even like the friends I played online games with. They were just terrible players and I wasn't playing to just have fun. I avoided the confrontation of their skill stopped playing games with them. I then developed this point of view that the games were just an addiction. Just like alcohol they had this negative effect on my life. The games were just a waste of time since I wasn't going to be a professional. 


Funny how someone so smart can be so stupid and foolish. I would always criticize others secretly and think of them as dumb fools. Reckless and careless people who just wasted their time with dumb women and nights at the bar. I became quite bitter and closed in socially. I didn't like the outside world and the crazy people out there. I didn't want to get shot, stabbed, in a car accident, or in some altercation. So I just sat at home and developed skills with new hobbies. 


Time passed by and it seemed that I was missing out at such a young age. I was only twenty six when I started to change my lifestyle. This personal decision of mine seemed to be for the best. Yet as I got older it seemed the days dragged on the same and were very bland. The same routine and safe protocol I made for myself became these rules I lived by. I lived with the truth of death and foolish people that fall victim to it. I just never thought that with these risks I minimize it would be like I was already dead.


I looked at others as foolish people who wasted their time. Who were just ignorant to have fun and they weren't aware that their lives were at risk. That most pleasures they partake in could end up being fatal. Alternatively their choices leading up to a fate of little success or wasted time. After over a decade and turning thirty six years old I started having second thoughts. 


I wasn't an alcoholic and would just drink every other weekend before. I used to have good times playing video games but I developed this point of view. The more I looked back at some of those good times the more I started to realize. I was a fool wasting time trying to avoid everything. I was the stupid person who always had to make it into a big deal. Who always made it about himself and never cared about anyone else. I was a coward and a betrayer of friendship. 


I had become the very thing I was trying to avoid all these years. A stupid fool who wasted time and risked his life. I risked my life by not living at all and not doing what I wanted. I could get cancer any day randomly and spontaneously. So what would be the point if I died as this fool with no friends or memories? I'd just be this shut in without a smile or anyone to hold at night. Instead I was turning into the ultimate fool tricked by my plan of safety. 


I never fell in love because I never put myself out there. I never met my best friend because I quit going to the bar. I never went on that vacation with my group of buddies I would have had over the years. These aren't the exact things I missed out on but still. There was so much life that I could've lived. Even if I died living that life it would've been worth it. Anything out there was better than being this stupid foolish shut in. 


Yet it wasn't too late to change myself for the better. I had to get out there and live my life before it's too late. I can't just be this fool who lets himself fade away alone and boring. I have to put myself out there and hope for the best. Live with the risks and if a smile kills me then so be it. I will die a happy person with a smile on my face. I can't be this stupid waste of time no longer with these painful guidelines to follow. I will no longer be this fool who shuts himself inside while the rich sunshine invites him to bask in it. I will break this life which torments my soul and be redeemed forevermore. I will never be this fool ever again!


I met the love of my life and we got married. I made a lot of new friends and even reconnected with some old ones. All that stuff about them being not good enough in one way or another didn't matter. I was a fool to think such things about the people who gave me life. I felt stupid about what I did for a long time but I was also glad to break the habit. Sure you know life can be scary when there are so many risks and you never really know what is going to happen. Yet if something were to happen I wouldn't want to be the fool who shut himself in from a world of life. 


So as time went on I started to live more and think less. I risked things and I mostly just had fun. This doesn't mean I was just reckless but I got out there. I lived my life everyday and I still do. I even flew on a plane for the first time and that's something I would've never done before. So somehow this fool was able to recollect himself before it was all too late. The life of a shut in turned out to be a life not worth living. 


BBS Signature

"Why, oh why, is the human brain so fragile??"


The question perturbed his every thought as Marcoh manipulated the intricate brain cells of a brand new specimen. A heavy brow of sweat rested delicately on the neurologist's forehead, barely maintaining its form like the many unique synapses inside his subject's skull as he poked and prodded. Snipped and snapped.


Removed and replaced.


Constant watch and delicate gestures were required to alter the human brain without causing irreparable damage. A person's personality is akin to their human nature, and human nature is as gentle as the microscopic impulses that passed between nerve cells. One wrong move and his subject was a zombie-- mindless as snowflakes falling without a will.


And these zombies clumped, too.


It struck Marcoh only as mildly intriguing when his first specimen was zombified. Seeing a human mindlessly chase after other humans in an almost comical way was interesting. It tumbled after Marcoh flaccidly and gurgled nonsense. And when the scientist managed to get away, the wannabe human kept thumping its head against the bulletproof glass, without fail, until it's head, and former identity, was no longer conceivable.


"How very curious."


Unlike in the movies, a zombie created in his lab only chased after other humans for connection. It did not crave blood. It did not wish to bite or tear flesh. This event commonly became a short anecdote within the concrete bunker where Marcoh's lab resided-- a failed experiment's actions are unimportant in the grand scheme.


Only a fool would make note of their failures when the looming future promises much greater successes.


Marcoh has ruined many, many souls during his research and experiments. And of course, the word "soul" is just a four letter word in the meticulous, ever-examining eyes of science. A soul is nothing more than a person's inclinations, and those inclinations are made powerless within the hands of God, as he liked to believe himself to be.


"Gain access, get paid... gain access, get paid... gain control... get paid even more..."


A wide, animal-like grin spread across Marcoh's face as he bore his teeth in the form of a smile. He had successfully attached the programmable apparatus to the empty husk’s brain before him. As the sweat poured from his head, finally relieved from intense focus, Marcoh set his tools down and, without apprehension, proceeded to his supercomputer.


Marcoh was not offered assistance, and he was more inclined to not accept it. His work could not allow for the most minute distraction. A wrong move from an assistant wiping his brow and his hand could move just a wrong fraction of an inch-- destroying his hard work. Work, which normally insisted 28 straight hours without rest.


“Not worth it,” the neurologist mumbled to himself as he sipped his coffee, black.


He was referring to the personalities he encountered while digging inside the brain. Synapses, although impossibly complicated and void of direction, they tended to resist the complex programming of his biomechanical devices. These devices were makeshift brain cells and, if used with the proper precision, they could command a human to their will, successfully bypassing the natural impulses of their host.


It was entirely impossible to reprogram the brain without encountering the other electrical impulses that naturally resided between the cells. His supercomputer spit out information to the implanted devices and translated the results. These results displayed a battle between the host and the surrogate.


This battle resulted in pain.


Excruciating pain. Hot tears flowed from his subject’s bulging eyes as its tongue flickered madly from corner to corner. It was impossible to understand this pain. But with the supercomputer, it was clear as day on the computer screen that this pain was equivalent to having your brain melted by microwaves.


To go through such terrible pain just to recover one’s personality, a personality that can be wiped at the much-too-real push of a button, is just silly, thought Marcoh. Just give up. It's not worth it. Within the hands of science, you are nothing more than a mere stepping stone-- a disposable syringe, empty of fluid and worth.


He could end the struggle, type in a few codes, and shut down the pain or the last bits of consciousness left inside it’s cranium.


But he preferred watching the subject struggle to render his work worthless.


“Pointless,” Marcoh muttered as he sipped his coffee once more, “You cannot go against a God.” He got up from the endless data displayed on the supercomputer screen to get another fill.


The coming years were fast. Anarchy, rebellion, riots, and guerrilla looting instilled fear against his communist party. Quickly, Marcoh became the forefront forefather of the war-- a war caused by fear of being mind-controlled and manipulated by the government or being forced into captivity under the loose premise of being a “traitor spy.” Of course, other countries and continents did not appreciate his brain-control research and deemed it their righteous goal to stop him as well.


“Remove. Replace. Reprogram.” An outspoken motto from the white-bearded Marcoh himself to everyone within the “workshop.”


You were allowed reprieve from fighting in the war if you were intelligent, skilled, or savvy enough to partake in Marcoh’s manipulations. Through his years of grueling, dark research, Marcoh had ruined hundreds of thousands of minds in order to expedite a process to where even your average evil genius could manage a simple personality reprograment.


The problem was finding enough people to operate on.


Enemies of war, captives, even the poor and the old were reprogrammed to fight his country’s war that Marcoh himself started with his taboo research. A large white-beard and focused, old eyes of the neurologist’s were the only signs of his growing wisdom. Impossibly akin to a God, Marcoh was allowed control over every single specimen that left his workshop. His watchful eyes could interpret the data from his multiple supercomputers and tell you how many have died, how many they’ve killed, and if they needed “readjustments” because their control was either weak, misplaced, or damaged due to the inexperienced underlings he had now.


Joy was an incorrect description of what Marcoh felt.


Perhaps ecstasy was an even weaker word.


Marcoh was at peace, but somehow his mind was still toiled by the use of his years of research. Something as pitiful as war could not be his endgame.


Complete control over famine and wealth was his favorite fantasy. To end the world’s suffering just by the power of one man seemed like the most likeliness to becoming the God he knew himself to be. To smile in the face of The Big Bang and Higher Powers and declare that humanity was fixed and saved by a single human being was by far the greatest erotic accomplishment that Marcoh could think of.


And it gave him chills.


The war would eventually end through Marcoh’s upgrading of his old system. He discovered that by asking the brain to do things through emotional discourse, he could make his super soldiers stronger, faster, and harder to kill. There was one drawback. His subjects would cry out meaningless words such as, “Mom,” or “Dad,” or “Brother,” or “Sister,” and would sometimes be caught weeping uncontrollably to oneself.


Pointless in the grand scheme.


Respectfully unaware since <<insert date of birth here>>


Marcoh could not entrust anyone else to accomplish his task of relieving the world of disparity and eventually he used his mob of the manipulated to conquer the world. Two decades had passed since the beginning of his research, and his country had managed to conquer the world through sheer numbers and negotiations. The neurologist Dr. Marcoh ceased to exist and in his place was Father Marcoh. And Father Marcoh was so good at his job that he could program subjects to reprogram other subjects, thus entertaining the idea of a self-sustained army.


Father Marcoh’s needs quickly overtook the government that funded his initial campaign as he used his army to either kill or reprogram everyone that wasn’t already under his control… Such blindsides, his former communist fellows had… They didn’t understand that what Marcoh wanted was much greater than what life or free will could fulfill.


And everyone paid the ultimate price in the eye of Father Marcoh’s dark science.


Zombies were no longer a concern. Everyone followed, died, and obeyed without consent…



The years went by, seemingly unnoticeable as technology and conflict ceased to matter. The Earth grew lush greens and habitats flourished without man’s constant environmental abuse. War was impossible and starvation, too. Subjects toiled fields and grew bare necessities, for they still needed to eat to continue to work properly. The skies were blue and the animals happy.


Father Marcoh could only see harmony on his many supercomputer displays, and he eventually abandoned them to walk as the world’s lone messiah among the “people.”


The years flew by.



One day, something peculiar happened.


As Marcoh walked the pear trees and strawberry groves, picking the fruits of labor, and he noticed a small congregation.


An unwarranted congregation.


Subjects were gathering together, half-naked, sitting in the baking sun, absent from work, and leaning in towards one another. If they had the strength, or willpower, they would no doubt be embracing each other with arms over their neighbor. They were the very embodiment of a close knit community.


Father Marcoh’s heart thumped in a strange way. The irrationality of being the only one with free will and discovering a glitch in his programming immediately sent thrills through the so-called God. Immediately he felt fear that his subjects were being controlled, but upon returning to his concrete bunker, he discovered that his supercomputers were not being manipulated by another thinking human.


But instead, they were being controlled by his subjects.


Not directly. There was nobody inside the programming room, and there were no signs of tampering. His multiple displays showed that his subjects were simply craving connection.


“Zombies.” The thought made Marcoh feel ill.


He tried his best to stop it but the humans he controlled so prominently had been slowly unraveling his methods. As Marcoh frantically backtracked through years of actions and input, he could now clearly see what had happened. It seemed that there were small discrepancies in the code here and there, but largely unnoticeable when a lot of information was being passed at once-- such as there was when the war was abundant.


Ba-dum. Marcoh’s heart felt a very strange tinge of human anxiety.


The neurologist could not have predicted that his programming could be overturned over the course of 30 some years. He could not have predicted that such a small subtlety in the code would be forgotten instead of overwritten by the supercomputer itself. It was impossible, clearly, for him to have predicted his subjects would disobey him, even when he controlled them consistently for decades. His trials, his errors, they paved a clear path to the future successes and within those successes he had showed He Himself that mutiny was impossible. His computer eradicated discrepancies and disrupted any free will that managed to show up unwarranted.


Marcoh’s head spun.


As Marcoh exited the contents of his stomach into the latrine (fresh fruits and vegetables, well-cooked venison, and exquisite wines) he realized something.


He had seen it all along. The tiny errors. The minute codes that promised today’s uprising.


Marcoh hadn’t thought the human psyche was strong enough to hide from him, so he didn’t bother searching for its eradication. At the peak of his research, he had programmed his computers to do such things for him. But there it was, currently. Staring him in the face, through lines and lines and lines and lines of code, was the personality he so wanted to extinguish.


It had hid from him.


And unable to see without the eyes of a scientist, Marcoh was unable to understand the will that these small, minor blips of human resurgence really contained.


It was impossible to stop, once started. Soon subjects began gathering together in desperate attempts to feel connections and the once-neurologist Dr. Marcoh watched in despair as they refused to communicate with his demands. It was like they were shutting themselves down.


The coming years became so bleak that Marcoh eventually killed himself-- unable to reclaim the Godhood that he once had craved so badly that he was willing to erase the world of free will.


Respectfully unaware since <<insert date of birth here>>

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-04-18 22:19:02


3rd One in Line

Ahh. What a beautiful spring morning!

Waking up this day, I was so Happy to see morning sky and clouds as I kicked my skateboard up into my arms.

Unluckily ;P .. This story is not about me..


I had spent the first part of my morning walking with my skateboard on the sidewalk of my hometown. I was headed in the direction of the downtown area. A friend of mine had called me to come over for some little extravaganza he was having at his place. Fifteen years old and feeling great that I was already on my way out of Highschool, considering my skipping and obstructions record... This summer was going to be awesome!


I called my buddy when I had reached town to make sure that he would meet me "halfway" at a school near his place. He told me he was taking his skateboard out to meet me at that moment. I hopped on my board and started pushing. Passing through the rest of town, I checked my phone just in case of a text. I had noticed the DATE! What a perfect way to start the spring off but finding the ultimate "Got YOU!" ritual to pull on my buddy. It was April Fool's day, and I had the biggest excitement rising within me.


Getting closer to the school, I could see no sight of my friend. I called him again and he said he was walking out his front door. I had nothing.. So far all I could pull would be a "Jackass" technique with the skateboard. I pushed ahead and went down the little hill leading to his block. I turned left and finally see him pushing fast on his board toward me. I pushed up to meet him and instead of slowing down he tried jumping off his board to tackle me! I stepped off to the side as his hand brushed my elbow. A nonsensical and gritty, "April Fools!" filled the air.


My friend, we'll call him Kyle, has a very hyper and chill attitude. A constant battling of the two. Main reasons would be the excessive weed smoking and strong female addiction. :D Kyle is a special kind of friend that everyone needs to show to their kids, "This is what not to do."


So.. me being the caring person I am, and knowing him to be my bud, I helped him up off the ground as he patted my back and whispered, "April Fool's" in my ear, with a tiny grin. We proceeded to his place of dwelling and, not to my surprise, there were already three of my friends, and two girl's I've never met before. In total It was four guys and four girl's.


So were clowning around in the backyard drinking some reserved coolants (underage variety pack) and everyone seemed to be in a swell manner. Kyle and one of my other friends, male, disappeared inside for a short period of time, leaving outside me, with my two friends (we'll call them Kathy and Matt), and three girl's I've never met before. Apparently they haven't met them either, so my friend Kathy, decided to ask where these girl's were from and who they were. We each introduced ourselves, Matt had let out a gasping, "I'm Matt" with a huge dorky smile. We shared smokes for the time we were out there ourselves and when I had gotten a chance to introduce myself, Kyle and our other friend came bustling out of the back porch door with a gallon of Arizona iced tea and a few cups to match.


They were both smiling, but Kyle was grinning profusely and I could sense the calm psychotic lurking in the back of his eyes. He began giving everyone cups and our friend offered to pour everyone drinks beginning with Matt. Then Kathy was served, but not before I had seen Matt take a tiny sip then a sniff of his drink. He looked at Kyle just as our friend was coming over to pour me a cup, and screamed, "There's piss in this!" I refuted my drink offer as Kyle screamed back, "Just drink it!" He almost got his hands on the cup when Matt splashed him in the face with it and Kathy at the same time splashed her cup on our friend attempting to pour me one. They began yelling "April Fool's" and at the same time Kyle grabbed the Arizona, Matt had got up and pushed him off the porch.


shamanistic healing and alchemical Druidry

if interested in advanced to greater level meditation (FlowKinesis

BBS Signature

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-04-22 21:48:01


The Guitar’s Song


Late this night is like most nights. The bars are charged with the depressed and celebratory to fill up the walls. People drown their sorrows with drink. It is only as they empty and the street noises die down. You can hear the sounds of a sweet sixed stringed song bird chirping away in the corner of a dark and musty room. Nobody listened for the man singing the words but to feel the way he felt through the notes of the finger powered songbird. There are many nights this bar has been graced with the bardic tales of his guitar. Most nights have lasted through till the morning long since the doors are closed to the idea on additional onlookers.


There is always that one night where someone of interest decides to show themselves. The someone who’s sheer aura brought people to fame. Slick hair. Slick shoes. Slick smile. Sane people who weren’t drunk on the elixir of fame saw this snake of a man slither in confidently from his flashy car. The sly man picked the one bar everyone talked about tonight. He picked the one where he could find the enticing plinks of a man with bardic fingers.


This night like every night before the man played with all his soul. His feelings layed for all who listened to interpret what he has been through or to imprint themselves in his life. Though most don’t know him, his tweets make him seem relatable. The fingers of the skilled performer licked the strings making them sing that sweet siren tune. But the one thing different was the man sitting in the front row. Pulling the stage light toward him and his shiny, black suitcase. This did not distract the guitar man one bit though his did look out into the crowd and saw this keniving man sitting perched, relaxed, and listening.


The night was coming to an end as the guitarist finish chirping the As through Fs finished coming from his dancing fingers. He thanked the audience for coming out to listen as he packed his guitar on top of a small pile of newly donated money within his case. The guitar man started to walk out the bar but before he pasted this new stranger grabbed his arm and gestured him to sit across from him.


Weary the guitar player sat to listen to the tale that span from the snake oil salesman’s mouth. The salesman ended a short tirade of promises of fame and fortune with a slide of a piece of paper across the table. It was a golden ticket to the world. Its payment is just a signature that comes tagged to the soul of the unsuspecting artist. This guitar player figured if this wasn’t for him that he would just walk away before the end of the day.


One night to pack and a nights fly he was in a city where stars are crafted with the fires of corporate greed. The first thing he was told when he arrived is that they can’t sell just a one man and his guitar. He needs the whole band. The guitar player tried to refute their demands since he just wanted to play his music. But his contract said he only played with a band.


A few years passed and the guitar player was packing up when the sly salesman slide into his room. Curious on where he was planning on going the salesman asked with hostile intent. The musical man said his gig was up and he wanted to return to his bar where he could feel the music flow through him. For he was losing touch with what made him who he was. The salesman had nothing more to sell but only information to give. A lawyer was bestowed to sign papers while the guitarist played his songs. The contract is extended with longer terms and harsher deadlines.


One day the songs stopped coming out of the man who used to play so many. He had always had vices in his life but they were something that helped enhance his days. But now he turned to these vices to escape. Escape the hell that he built around himself. To escape the self he became. To escape the fact that he walked away from the life he had to a life that he thought he wanted. That there was no way out of the life that he was sold under the pretense that the glitz and the glamor of the golden stardom was not just for show.


Don’t think I am trying not to convince you to chase your dreams and take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you. But nobody is out to hand you the life you want. Don’t be fooled by a the devil wearing a pinstripe suits promising everything you thought you wanted. You might just end up losing everything you ever were. Leaving everything you loved behind.



Meaningless


“Hey”

“Hi!”

He sits in the deep black as light shines across his sweaty pores. Looking at his phone with a shrivel on his eyelids, he bites down on a frown.

“How are you doing?”

“Hanging in there”

He furrows his brow with a bigger frown.

“Wym?” (What you mean?)

“Well you know…”

“Oh…”

“I’m sorry”

“Omg no I’m sorry, I don’t like exposing you to my problems”

“No no, it’s ok to expose yourself”

“Lol, what’s that supposed to mean?”

Cheeks are pink and his eyes go wide

“Oh shit sorry, that’s not what I meant”

“Lmao I know, I’m just messin”

“Oh ok sorry”

“You say sorry so much”

“Sorry haha”

“Lmao”

He bites his lip again, he doesn’t know what else to say creating a big pause until…

“Do you want to hang out?”

He tilts his head in confusion.

“Like...for real?”

“Nah I was just wanted to say it…”

“Oh”

“ No!...I mean Yes! I’m for real!”

“Oh sick! When?”

“Does tomorrow at 9 pm work for you? At my place?”

“Yeah! Thatll definitely work!!”

“Lit! I can’t wait to hang with you!!”

“Just don’t crash on your way, don’t want you dying”

“I won’t I won’t haha”

“GooD night”

“Ok Night heather”

You can see his eyes shine with glee and his grin glowed warmly until the phone was turned off. The world left in darkness until lights swerved down a lonely old road. An rustic antique 70’s cadillac jolting and popping at 60 mph. The same man driving in several heavy breaths. “First time” he murmured to himself. A small vibration radiated in his right pants pocket. Shuffling through his pocket while keeping an eye on the road, He glanced unto the text that spotlighted off the phone.

“How’s the drive going?”

“Crashed yet?”

He chuckled trying to type as fast as he could before looking back to the road.

“Haha I’m doing fine and no not yet lol”

“Good! Lmao”

“How are you doing?”

He expects a quick response, yet the only thing that comes is the cold air creeping across his bones. A jarring gap of silence from the phone laying warm on his lap. He could barely focus on the road as he nervously awaits. “Did I say something wrong?” pops into his head as his finger taps rapidly unto the steering wheel. Patience not being his strong suit, he nabs the phone off his leg and types in his message.

“What did I do this time?”

Another pause for almost longer. Only 20 minutes before the destination. He types again.

“Talk to me please. I’m sorry”

A text appears straight after.

“I was thinking…”

“What’s wrong?”

“You say sorry so many times, and sometimes they feel absolutely meaningless”

“What?”

“You know...if something is repeated enough, it’s meaning dissipates”

“I mean I guess but why are we talking about this?

“Because I think it’s a good thing to think about before we hang out”

Before he could type his answer back

“Please”

“Please”

“Please remember”

“Okay… I’m almost there, we’ll talk about it once I get there”

“Silly, we already did”

The last text doesn’t catch his eye as his car’s lights illuminates the harrowing sight . A small single floor house that’s unrecognizable at first sight compared to what he was shown. The once pristine white cover were engulfed in rot and slimy black mold. A pungent scent of musty earth pierce through his nostril as it seep through his windows. The house’s windows were stained with a dark gray covering up anyway to look inside. The wood was sopping and splintered.

Eyes wide witnessing this display of decay before him. Even with this, he turned the engine off leaving only the figure of the house ahead. He walks straight up the porch which squishes and sloshes like mud. He turns on the phone’s flashlight to a door without a handle. Something stops the door from opening as he pushes with some force. Pushing with deep huffs and strong force which finally gives way, but the momentum knocks him off balance. He falls face forward into the grounds.


His body covering his only light source, he could see the floor wiggling underneath him. Slimy creatures slithering around his cheeks. He ascends from his position shining the light upon the floor. Maggots. Maggots squirming around with carcasses implanted from where he was laying. Flies swarming around him and buzzing obnoxiously against his earlobes. The same earthy scent is present, but accompanied by an even more rotten smell.


He observes his surroundings. A rustic kitchen to his left with piles upon piles of dirty plates. Two plates across from each other on a dining room table, both topped with spoiled and discolored meat. The walls were peeling of it’s mahogany coating leaving the wood bear to be consumed by the black mold. To his right, a living room containing a two person couch spilled of it’s cushioned and metal organs facing a smashed in cheap crt television. More importantly, most of the maggots didn’t deviate of the trail that lead down the hallway to the one room. The room’s door was freely ajar. He could only see a cracked window from the angle he was standing. Shallows breaths escapes out of his lungs as he grips unto his chest. Determination pushes him forward.


He crepts down the hall in slow and sluggish pace. He stops. He can see the foot of the bed drenched in the disgusting black mold, and a hand. A pale hand peeled of it’s skin. Mustering the courage, he steps forward.


Dead frozen, he stares, meeting eye to eye with the hanging corpse’s bulging eyeballs. The dripping decomposing flesh barely stays attached. Strands of long black hair dangle from the scalp. A dress made up of a blue flower pattern drapes over most of the body. The flesh around it’s teeth is shaped to where it’s resembling a big smile across its entire face.


A word creeps through his mouth

“I’m…”

The phone buzzes rapidly on his hand. A call from Heather. He answers,

a distorted yet feminine voice screams out in wild anger “ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

“ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

“ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

Over and over, this continues to where he breaks down into the ground. Rocking and shaking in place stared intently by the smiling corpse hanging by a tight rope. Dribbling and crying as he listens to that single phrase.

“ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

“ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

“ARE YOU SORRY NOW?!”

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-04-27 21:09:39


All Strings Attached


Beautifully and carefully illustrated paintings of different Greek myths populated the ceiling, each separated by golden frames. The walls were decorated in a rich, dark mahogany red, intricately patterned with small crosses. A seemingly invisible piano filled the air with its alluring notes.


These details sent chills up Brendan’s spine. Absentmindedly, he traced his fingertips against the table linen in front of him. So soft to the touch; the unmistakably hand-woven silk felt like it would suck him in and never let go. Its texture felt even more refined than his most expensive suit, which she told him to wear ahead of time.


“Do you like it here?”


Her voice made him straighten his back. Coupled with her gaze, it was clear that the question was completely rhetorical.


Brendan pulled his hands back, rubbing them. “It’s certainly better than most of the places I’ve been treated to.”


“‘Most,’ huh?” She let out a delicate chuckle. “Well, I’m glad it suits your tastes. It seems like reserving the entire restaurant for ourselves was worth the effort.”


Instead of offering a reply, he only stared at Arianne Culaccino. She was Italian; a stark contrast from the establishment’s Greek atmosphere. The detail was even more strange to process when he reminded himself that this was her family’s restaurant.


Brendan shrugged. A well-dressed waiter stepped up to them, offering leather-covered menus to the both of them. Where Arianne gave the man a curt nod, Brendan immediately lifted the list of selections, scrutinizing its weight. Opening it, his suspicions were confirmed.


“It’s very thin,” he finally commented once the waiter left, making a careful effort to not meet her eyes.


“The Covo di Dio is a specialized restaurant. Only few dishes are considered worth serving by our finest chef.” From the corner of his eye, Brendan could tell she wasn’t looking at him either as she provided an explanation. “I figured you would have liked that aspect, but I’m sorry if that lowers your opinion of my restaurant.”


Her words made him look back up first. Arianne was one to profusely apologize whenever he would point out a bothersome detail. What she had just said was nothing of the sort; it was too apathetic to ignore.


“No, of course not,” he lied, this time maintaining eye contact. “I was just thinking as to how grateful I am that I get to enjoy an authentic, five-star experience for free.”


“It’s my pleasure.” Her smile reassured him control of the situation. “Please, order anything your heart desires.”


Oh, he most certainly would. The experience Brendan had accumulated in fine-dining highlighted which dishes he wanted. Tastes were irrelevant, only difficulty in preparation and cost were the factors he cared about. After eating a few bites, he would nitpick here and there with his meal. Just a few criticizable details though; doubt was what he needed, not debate.


That should show her. Arianne insisted on waiting until marriage for what Brendan wanted. At first, the challenge had enticed him, yet after juggling so many “maybes” from her for so long, he was starting to grow bored. He knew though, with the right amount of chastising in all the right places, the chastity of even the most adamant young woman can be broken.


It wasn’t the first time he’s tried and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.


The waiter returned, this time placing a small basket of bread at the center of the table. He pulled out a small notepad and pen. “What would you two like to order?”


“The usual. Chicken Parmesan,” Arianne said. “We have a special guest here.”


“I’ll have the beef Wellington and the chocolate mousse.” Brendan smirked. “Give your chef something to think about.”


Perhaps the waiter didn’t get the joke, because he jotted down both their orders without batting an eye. He lowered his pad and pen before turning to Arianne. “Will that be all?”


“Yes, thank you,” Arianne answered for the both of them.


The waiter walked off, leaving them in awkward silence. Brendan looked around, searching for a conversation topic.


“So, this restaurant,” Brendan began, “How long has it been standing for?”


“Hey,” Arianne rested her head on the palm of one hand and braced her elbow against the table. “Tell me a story.”


“A story,” Brendan repeated to himself, slightly relieved she was giving him something to work with. “What kind of story?”


“You already know which ones.” Arianne grinned. “Tell me about the other women you’ve dated.”


“What brought this on?”


“I’m just in the mood for some juicy gossip is all. Besides, it’s not like this’ll be the first time you’ve talked about your ex’s.” Her eyes lit up. “Oh! Why not tell me more about that one girl! Ahh… what was her name again? Clara?”


“You mean Sarah?”


Arianne pointed at him. “Yeah, that one! Her story was the most interesting of the bunch.”


Sarah. Auburn-haired. Five-feet-ten with pale skin. Constantly conscious of her appearance, making her one of the easier ones. She was too generous, showering Brendan with gifts and pleasantries almost every other date. But what he told people was that she was desperate. It was why he had broken up with her after a single month. That’s how easy it was.


For the most difficult cases, Brendan would bring up his past relationships in an attempt to either praise or intimidate his partner. Naturally, Arianne wasn’t an exemption to this rule, but the first time he told her about Sarah, her reaction was completely off.


Arianne giggled.


Where the average woman would have became anxious about Brendan’s standards, the bashful girl who seldom spoke unless spoken to had giggled on a populated train. And it wasn’t like he had sprinkled humor around his recollections either; he was sure to have delivered it in a monotonous, matter-of-factly manner. Brendan initially brushed off the incident as a reflection of a darker, perhaps sadistic trait within her. In fact, such a possibility had only turned him on more.


He did not feel that way now.


“Uh, alright.” Brendan grabbed a piece of bread in front of him, hoping it would hide his hesitation. Taking a bite, he tries to wind back up to his usual demeanor. “So that Sarah chick, right? I asked her out, thinking she’s gonna be one of those quiet types. I’ve been busy recently with a lot of different things, so I can’t really afford having someone breathe down my neck, you know?”


She nodded. “Yeah, I know.”


“Anyways, on the first damn date, she buys me a gift. And you know, that’s an obvious red flag if I’ve ever seen one.” Brendan munched on the bread as he spoke. “To make matters worse, for the rest of it, she’s constantly losing her mind on things that seriously don’t matter. How her dress looks, if she’s talking too much, if she’s talking too little.”


“Yikes.”


“Right? Honestly, some people just need to stay out of dating until they get all their marbles together. Wouldn’t have been surprised if that Sarah girl started asking me if she wasn’t breathing the right way.”


Arianne laughed at the joke, providing him with some well-needed relief. A glint in her eyes however, disagreed with the soft smile her face reset to. Brendan swallowed his last bite of bread a little louder than he would have liked.


“Hey…” He wore a uneasy grin back. “Can I ask you something?”


“Yes?”


“What do you find so funny about that story?”


Arianne cocked her head and narrowed her eyes. “Are you feeling guilty?”


“What- no!” Brendan waved the thought away with a chuckle. “Of course not.”


“I figured.” She let out another laugh. “Well, to answer your question, I find the same things as funny as you do. That girl being desperate and all. She must’ve been going through some crazy problems to be that messed up, don’t you think?”

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-04-27 21:10:33


He couldn't even muster a nervous chuckle as a response. "I, um…"


"Your dishes," the waiter interrupted.


Brendan was about to question how fast they had prepared their dinners, until he remembered that there were no other customers in the entire restaurant. Arianne gave another thanks to their server. Brendan failed to again.


The sound of a blood-red wine bottle being uncorked snapped him back to attention.


“Wine?” Brendan asked. “Neither of us ordered for this.”


“Ah, I should have mentioned earlier. This restaurant naturally serves wine to all its customers,” Arianne explained as a small glass was placed in front of each of them.


The idea of being drunk worried Brendan as he pushed the glass away from himself. “Then I’ll pass. I’m not a big fan of alcohol.”


“No, please. I insist.” For the first time, her eyes reflected the tint of weakness he needed. “It’s a family recipe. You would be doing us a great dishonor by not drinking it.”


“Welllll…” Brendan grinned to himself as he rolled his eyes. Elated and confident, he brought the glass back to himself. “Alright. Just because it’s your family’s.”


The waiter looked at Arianne and she nodded to him. He filled their glasses and hurried off. Arianne quickly shifted back to Brendan with a warm smile.


“Thank you, Brendan.” She raised her wine. “A toast, then?”


Brendan followed suit. “Cheers.”


They clinked their drinks and both took a sip. The sweet aroma of the wine combined with its smoothness forced Brendan to down all of it in one go. As he licked every spare drop between his lips, a part of him was grateful that the rest of the bottle hadn’t been left on their table.


Brendan sliced his Wellington, feeling the perfectly tender fibers of the meat split with a gentle push of his utensil. The juices seemed rich, but the taste of the beef in his mouth proved to be richer. If melting in his seat was possible, then he would have dissolved like butter on a hot frying pan.


“Well? How is it?” Arianne asked.


“It’s d-” Brendan stopped himself short of surrender. His expression of ecstasy turned back into sternness. “It’s dangerously high on sodium. I might need some water to help down this.”


“Oh. That’s a shame.” She wiped her mouth with a napkin before tossing it beside her with a little more force than necessary. “That’s a real shame.”


“You’ve been unusually talkative today,” Brendan noted, almost defensively.


“Do you not like that?”


“No, it’s just…” For whatever reason, he was starting to sweat at her words. He pulled at his collar, fanning some air onto himself with blatant disregard of the situation. “It’s just unusual is all.”


“I see. Perhaps it’s because this is a place very close to home for me.” Arianne walked her index and middle fingers down the webbed linen, stepping over each string with ease. “I can be my natural element here.”


The earlier feeling of merriment was settling down and in its place was the chilling sense that something was very wrong. This was not the shy, reactionary Arianne he had known for almost three months now; her mannerisms and speech were entirely different. The whole evening was starting to feel less like a ballroom dance and more like a game of blitzkrieg chess.


He had to get out of here.


“Excuse me for a moment-”


His legs failed him as soon as he stood up. Brendan inadvertently dragged the table linen down with him. He grabbed at his chest, breathing heavily and unsteadily. One look back up at Arianne’s bored face told him everything he needed to know.


“You… bitch,” he sputtered.


"How many people do you think felt the same way about you, after you tossed them aside like dirty rags?”


Brendan put force into his arms, but like his lower half, the upper half of his body was going dumb too.


“It was the wine, Brendan. And before you ask yourself why I’m still going to be here and you’re not, it’s because I had my usual dish.” While she braced her chin with one hand against the table, with the other, she poured the rest of her wine onto him. “You were so confident in yourself at the start of all this, weren’t you? Yet you were nervous the minute I opened up our conversation. All it took was one push in the opposite direction and all your expectations fell apart. Isn’t that funny?”


The strings he used to puppeteer her like so many others were now wrapped around his own neck. They suffocated the years out of him, growing tighter with each inconsistent detail of Arianne and her domain he foolishly overlooked.


“Sarah… she was a nice girl. Too nice for her own good and certainly for yours.” She got off her chair, high heels clacking against the floor as she glared down at him. “Do you know what happened to her after what you did? I imagine you wouldn't, but if you have any shred of dignity in yourself, I want you to think long and hard about her in particular. And when you see her, tell her I sent you.”


“They’ll…” Brendan coughed out a laugh as his heart drummed out his ears. “Catch you.”


“No, they won’t. And do you know why?” As Arianne kneeled down for one more whisper, the last thing Brendan saw was her genuine smile for the first time in his life.


“Because it’s a family recipe.”


The piano, and the drums, stopped.


Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-05-01 23:52:15


Pissing All My C.R.E.A.M. Away  


               Oh, there’s nothing like the thrill of the hunt! When your adrenaline pumps as you sink into your quiet place. The world becomes scentless, sightless, tasteless, and silent. Life rushes back as your cross hairs settle, and the universe aligns as you give the trigger a squeeze. Then you just let the blood flow baby! Except of course, I am not a hunter and I sink into a black, soft leather office chair as rest my forearms onto my deep brown wooden desk. I love the blast I feel as I place more stuff into my virtual shopping cart. It’s splendid! I have also acquired the e-mail memberships that give out coupons. Spend $200.00 and get $50.00 off? Why not! 50% off on candles? I’ll take 4! As long as I am “saving money” then how could this not be great? I descended into the internet for several hours until I realized how much time has passed. I made my beautiful purchase and logged out of my desktop.

               

The next morning, I went on a mission to buy new shoes. Well, I already own 9 pair, but I heard of this new trend called Stilt Shoes. They have 26 inch souls so they make you really tall. Isn’t that cool? I’ve heard they are very uncomfortable and it’s difficult to walk in but being tall is cool. Plus, Hip-Hop mega star, Lil' BaD Bitchz wears them, and his bitches are bad! I went to the shoe store, and I tried the Stilt Shoes. I fell twice, but the salesman said that’s normal and I recovered. I bought them and then stumbled out to show my friends my new Stilt Shoes at a bar!

It was the second of the month, a few days passed since my grand shopping night. Woke up with a slight hangover, I ended up in my quiet place, with my rifle out, and cross hairs pinned on something shiny. I added a few classic Blu-Ray to my shopping cart. I haven’t watched these films since I had them on VHS but wouldn’t it be great to see them on Blu-Ray!? I also bought a coffee mug that has Coffee Makes Me Poop written on the side. Now THAT is a funny joke. I laugh about it every morning when I am sipping coffee from the mug. Then my doorbell rang, wearing my new shoes I rushed to answer and swung the door open resulting in tumbling down to the floor. I looked up to see my landlord standing impatient ready to rage. His face was red, and his lips formed a wrinkly frown.

              

 “Hello, Jimmy, you know what day it is.” My landlord spoke in his deep rough voice. “Of course sir, please allow me to check my BankMobile App right now and I will send you the money. I am so sorry for this!” I snatched my phone and aggressively clicked to open the BankMobile App. I sensed my heart fill with led and my limbs felt like they were stuck in glue. This couldn’t be right, my bank must have made a mistake or my information was stolen! My lips were stitched shut and I couldn’t let a word escape.  “So, Jimmy. You don’t have rent?” My landlord spoke while exposing a pistol tucked into the waistband of his crisp blue jeans.  “Sir! I’m so sorry. I don’t know how this happened. But I’m a little short…”

             

  “Hey!.” A woman’s voice cut me off. “Is this the residence of Jimmy Jackson?” “Yes… what do you need?” I replied. My landlord crossed his arms angrily. “Oh, we have a delivery for you.” She stated and carried all fifteen boxes up my porch and dropped them by my front door one by one. I stood melted into the doorway. She glanced at my landlord, who never took his eyes off me. Then she looked at me through the awkward silence and said, “Can you sign here?” I scribbled my autograph where she wanted me to, she kindly smiled, and went back to her route.

              

 I learned my lesson as the steal of the pistol cracked me over the skull. I laid there bleeding as he took my trendy shoes from my feet and emptied my apartment. I learned my lesson as I became the hunted, instead of the hunter I felt I was. 


My Frickin 30th Birthday

- by Survesh Jones


Ah, at last, I have climbed up the ever growing marshmallow mountain. The sweet sugary jelly rain, is pouring as heavenly as a rainbow from the waterfall just a few paces from me. There, I can almost smell it.


"WAKE UP.. WAKE UP!!!! We are under attack!!!!" screamed Mr. Goober, shaking me with this his wet bubble gum hands, covering me with Goobered gum.


I WOKE UP. I woke up to find that the sweet smell of jelly rain was actually Mr. Goober and I was covered completely with Mr. Goober's bubble gum strands. How many times have I told that man ahhh!!!! Why am I covered in gum every morning like this. I stood up and moved to my cabinet to get the surface gravity reversal gun. Or atleast I tried to, Mr. Goober's strands were just so thick that moving was super hard.


I followed the universal recipe, I stretched my hand and wiggled my fingers till they felt like they were actually stretching and got the gun, pointed the gun at my right knee for it was almost not covered with goober and marked it as surface one. I then pointed the gun at goober strands on me and marked that as surface two and activated the surface gravity reversal beam.


Ah goober free at last. "Mr. goober, wear your anti stick suit when you are moving. Please." I told Mr. Goober.


"Sure Master candy, I will do that next time. But a flight of sour rocks ARE moving our way as we speak Sir." - Mr. Goober said nervously.


"The attack ruse was actually TRUE..? I thought that was just one of your crazy tactics to wake me up early Mr. Goober" - I screamed at Mr. Goober. "I was freaking out, Sorry Mr. Goober." - I apologized to Mr. Goober immediately. Mr. Goober is very sensitive, he doesn't do very well under stress. The trauma of being a Goober is far high as it is .


"Nothing we can't handle Mr. Goober, wear your suit and come meet me at the ship's control station, lets show them, what we are made of" - gave a little speech of encouragement to Mr. Goober. Who am I kidding, I am freaking out and I myself am moments away from passing out from hyperventilation.


I willed my body to move my legs and reached the ship's control center. I can see the sour rocks moving towards our ship, through the humongously curved hard sugar glass of my spaceship, filling the dark expanse ahead they look like shooting stars, each one emitting fiery burning sour flakes, as they move through the empty void of space.


Awww... stop fantasizing about the exploding sour rocks that are moving towards your spaceship and start preparing for counter measures, you dumb candy brained idiot!!!!


Ok, switching on the Object Location Detection Sensors, "Mr. Goooober, I have switched on the OLD Sensors, can you dock the missile pads with your goober bombs? Let's neutralize those rocks and take them in for future use."


"Sure thing Maaster Caaandy!! I am on my way..", shouted Mr. Goober hurriedly.


=== La la la, bum bum, pa pa pa, Doooosh ...! Happy Birthday to you...! Happy Birthday..... to .... you.... ===


"MR. GOOOOBBBBERRRRRR.... why the freaking biscuits is the spaceship filled with happy tunes, we are in the middle of a space attack by exploding Space Ro...." - As I was passionately shouting at Mr. Goober for screwing up, I realized that the control center was filled with confetti, balloons and merry celebration birthday posters. Slowly Mr. Goober entered the room with a cake in his hand with candles lit. My friends from across the galaxy were coming out of the dark and yelled surprise.


It all seems merry right, not for me. I am still freaking out, we were in the middle of a freaking rock attack and now people want to celebrate me getting old..? One dumb problem at a time please.


"Master candy, happy candilicious birthday wishes. Of course we are not under attack, that is a video that was pre recorded by one of your friends to fool you into a surprise party. I spiked the alarms once they arrived and I startled you awake." Said Mr. Goober in a giddy jolly voice.


Aww... crackers, this is the reason I hate birthdays.


BAAANG!!! BAAAAANG!!!! DUUMMMM!!!


"Mr. Goober, Is the video in 4D..? I didn't know we had a motion and impact simulator in our ship. Is it my birthday present..?" - I asked Goober excitedly.


Except, only I was excited, everybody else had become quite, suddenly our ship exploded. And everybody almost died. Yes, I am in the hospital with every part of my body either in a cast hanging by a gauze string or being operated by the alien doctors. The idiots that I call friends blocked my control center's view port with a stupid video of sour rocks, while none of us could see that our space ship drifted into an asteroid filled space express way. Since the alarms were already hacked, none of us cared enough to act thinking that all was part of the plan.


Why, Why me..? Why am I blessed with friends? Why can't I just be that depressed guy who doesn't have friends and watches TV all day long, degrading his body...?


WHY MEEEEE....!!!!!!!


"Mr. Goober, stop eating my birthday cake and bring me a glass of water please!!!" I shouted through the ruckus my friends were making. The Intensive Care Unit is filled with the biggest morons in my galaxy. Gosh.

Response to MWC19 - April - I'm the Fool 2019-05-02 16:00:59


The Hero

The Hero had a name. He had a name, he had a good arm and he had a warrior's training, which he would put to use in his ardent protection of nearby villages. He didn’t threaten them or raised his sword against them. Not our Hero! But he did not know that how his band protected them. They were the honest protectors of these villages, after all. And they were doing a fine job, as no harm came to the villagers. Except when they called harm. He hadn’t a hard life, our Hero. He had a steady flow of gold, he had a recently emptied home, and he had a band of men, but that was all. He knew that Heroes must have courage, and courage he never lacked. He remembered all Heroes ought to have valour, but he could never quite find the difference, so he settled to have both. And a sword. The Hero had a mediocre sword, steel forged and trustworthy. Mediocre sword for a mediocre Hero, he mused. Regular. Ordinary. Was he an ordinary Hero? Surely to the villagers he was more than that, but what did his band think? They said he was a regular. An ordinary person. They didn’t even say he was a Hero! He concluded the fault was his sword. He had to procure a great sword, mayhap a greatsword. Such a one that his Heroism could not be doubted. He set in the direction of the smith. The smith eyed the familiar sword, that once hang in his wall. He was asked, very touchingly, for a better one. The smith could not deny the Hero, but neither could he gift him a great greatsword. The smith replied, most truthfully, that he could forge a great greatsword fit for a great Hero. And replied, most untruthfully, that he needed a dragon’s tooth for the task. Why a tooth? Same reason he’d said he needed a dragon. He hoped to rid himself of the Hero’s Heroism, for a few days if not permanently. The Hero wondered, a dragon’s tooth? Where would I find that? In a dragon’s mouth of course. But where would he find the dragon? His mind couldn’t fathom such a creature, but it should exist, for he was told about it. He recalled seeing a depiction of a dragon, and it had wings. Could it live in trees? Could it live in trees then? Nest as the birds are wont to. He ordered his band check every tree in vicinity. Rattle them and watch for a flapping dragon. Sadly, no dragon flapped, as no dragon was found. Next, he recollected that dragons have strong claws, so they could possibly be burrowers and live underground. He dug a hundred holes, deep as a man is tall, far apart a house’s length. He found a lot of rodents, and with prominent teeth, though not dragon teeth. Lastly the Hero was reminded by his mate that dragons are sizeable and reside in mountains, where they hoard their treasures. Sizeable and mountain preferring? Cognized the Hero. It likely chooses a sizeable mountain, to fit its size. Like a man will choose a house to fit his measures. His band was weary and refused to aid him. Nevertheless, he was determined, a fine Heroic quality, and journeyed to the highest mountain he could think of. The climb was laborious, and many of the paths were steep. But the Hero had his sword, and his courage, and his valour, and he would ascend! Finally, he saw smoke and smelled a burning wood. That must be the dragon’s lair, he concluded. A cave was before him, a most fitting dwelling for a dragon. Who goes there? A voice asked. The Hero replied it is him! Coming to take the asker’s teeth for a greatsword. The voice said his remaining teeth barely have substance enough for a dagger. The Hero would not let the dragon trick him. He would kill the beast, take its teeth, have a greatsword made and become a great Hero. He could not sneak on it, because it is unbecoming of a Hero. He would need to issue a challenge and slay it. In the eye! In both eyes, if able. The Hero shouted vociferously to the dragon and challenged him. Alas! The mountain was not as safe as he presumed, and his shouts vibrated, and a rockslide began to slide. The Hero felt a rumble and was certain the dragon rose to his challenge. He rose his sword and strode to the dragon, coming forward. The dragon, who sounded very human, advised him to find shelter, but then a big rock crashed with and crushed on the Hero before he could heed. He probably wouldn’t have heeded the advice. He died without fear, as all Heroes should die, not old and bedridden. So he would’ve thought, were he alive. A fitting end. The dragon waited for the rockslide to slide and rock, and then waited a bit more. When he was sure all was clear, the dragon walked with his human feet towards the crushed Hero, crouched his wingless torso, and sighed.


"Compassion is the vice of kings: stamp down the wretched & the weak: this is the law of the strong: this is our law and the joy of the world."

BBS Signature

Who is the fool?


               “Why are we even listening to these people?” The king declared, angrily.  He was tired today and he had a headache. “I cannot believe their stupidity!” He frowned, glaring at the messenger, then turned back to his courtier, Belart, the Count of Bersau. “Let me get this quiet clearly- we allowed a small group of Chusian soldiers to enter your lands; we accommodated them at your border castle, ready to help defend our border from those stupid Arnlanders, should the negotiation between South Arnland and Chusia go astray. Now you tell me that these idiots left your castle and entered Arnland while the negotiations were still ongoing? Gah!” He slammed his fist onto the heavy, gilded arm of his throne. “You, messenger! Is that all you have to say? The only message your idiot master has given you is to tell me too late that they are leaving a castle they have already left? Is there not even the slightest excuse given for having used our sovereign lands as a road, a dishonourable secret pathway to infiltrate Arnland and risk dragging us into this pointless, stupid affair between the two of you nations?” The unfortunate messenger just stood silently, his eyes down and his two hands on the scroll-tube he had unsealed a minute ago.

   “Oh, kindly get out of my sight before I take it out on the only Chusian within my reach at this time. Go and get yourself something to eat in our kitchens. I will NOT dishonourably treat you like your idiot prince treated the messenger from South Arnland last month.” He turned away. “Young Marchioness Serena,” he waved his fingers vaguely at his favourite niece, a recent addition to the royal court, with a faint smile. “Kindly take this messenger and be nice to him. Find him food and somewhere to sleep tonight. We are honourable here.” This was a point being made. Messengers were always looked after in a standard procedure and a place would be already available for him, but King Saul II of Moraan was making a gesture, while temporising, trying to work out what to do next.

           “Are we not honourable people?” He cast his eyes around his court. “Why on Earth would anybody treat us so? Does Chusia not value our friendship? Are they not at all afraid to displease me?”

The court was silent.

           “No advice or support, then? Just stand and watch me while I work it all out for you?”

           Various people present had warned the king against taking in this detachment of troops. They had told him that taking in the troops, whilst it added three score of experienced border troops to the garrison, was not worth it. Duke Margat; the Lady Seruchia; Bishop Eremaus and Bishop Francisco had all warned him against the notoriously duplicitous Prince Regent of Chusia. None saw fit to reply to his questions. Not even the silver-tongued Lady Seruchia, who could usually find a way of saying something at difficult times felt it wise to say “I told you so” to their monarch. She did, however, tilt her head, very subtly towards the king’s fool sitting on the edge of the royal dais, to see if he could be hinted at to break the silence; which he did, with the slightest raised eyebrow in her direction.

           “Gah!” He shouted, pounding the hollow dais in a dangerous, echoing parody of the king’s frustrated gesture. “Gah! Ha-ha-ha! Gah!” He leapt up and rolled a neat series of the smoothest forward rolls down the room towards the door the young marchioness was in the doorway of. She and the messenger had stopped to watch him; he rolled right up to their feet, touched the toes of her satin court slippers and looked up into her bright-shining eyes. 

“Be nice!” Said the fool, pointing at the bemused messenger, then back flipped again and again to the Throne, turning at last to face the king.

           “Tell me, sire. When the wearer of crowns is used by his enemy as a tool, has the anointed one become a fool?” In the time-honoured fashion of royal fools everywhere, he stuck out his tongue at the king; waggled his ears with his hands and bounced off down the room in a childish imitation of a rabbit, suggesting that he was a harmless idiot, whose words could be tolerated in any place.

           “Not the subtlest of riddles, fool.” The king called after him. “You delight in testing my patience, don’t you? You hide behind your painted face, your stupid clothes and the traditions of an ancient court, whilst really, you just insulting me. It is true that Prince Tarshan has manipulated us into a difficult position and, yes, of course I know your precious favourite Lady Seruchia over there was amongst a number of people who warned me against it,” he paused, looking at her a moment, whilst she avoided his gaze, “but the warning they gave was about how it would look to have his troops on our lands, as apparent allies. I don’t recall the bold Duke or his bishop friends suggesting that Tarshan would actually have his troops break their way out in the night and cross the bridge into Southernmost Arnland. If we had been attacked by those God-forsaken fools from Arnland, outnumbered as we were at that time four to one on that border, in some attempt to get round Tarshan’s fortress on the corner of our three lands, everyone would have been saying we were fools not to accept his offer. Being king is not all about wearing gold and eating the First Kill of the hunt. You asked me one. I ask you one.” He took in a breath to be heard by everyone. “Any king can be a fool, but here’s the thing- can any fool become a king?”

        Kaspar, the Royal Fool jumped up from the squatting position he had taken and waved his arms around him, as if he was shooing away birds. He rushed towards the king’s royal dais and cartwheeled the last part, collapsing in a choreographed heap before his royal master.

           “Don’t tempt me!” He replied in a soto voce with his eyes blazing and his head tilted to one side at a maniacal angle.

           “You think you can fix this one, oh foolish one? You want to guess the right thing to do when a nation four times our size starts blaming us for aiding and encouraging their neighbour in “invading” their country? Does THAT tempt you? The responsibility for the welfare of our troops defending our border in perhaps a few week’s time; or the lives of the civilians that might be attacked anywhere along the length of said border? It’s not a game, Fool; it’s for real and I have been schooled all my life for this. You might be a better court jester than I could be. I will concede that I am not as lithe and supple as you. If you think you know all the answers, you can try wearing this crown. It is heavy; trust me the weight in gold is one thing; the weight in expectations is MUCH heavier. You think I am joking?

           “A useful man is the ambassador; summoning him is what he is for,” the fool shrugged.

            “It’s that easy is it? I summon the ambassador of… of which, my good fool, Chusia or South Arnland?” I tell you what, old Kaspar. You do it.” He was leaning towards Kaspar and pointed into the fool’s face. “You summon ambassadors; you talk to my brothers; you rally the troops or whatever you think we should do. I’ve had enough of it; you can have my crown and my signet ring and see how it goes. I will paint funny lines on my face and stick my tongue out now and then; make stupid, irritating remarks and everybody can call me “witty” and clap, while I insult you. At the end of the day we both get to eat and we both have a bed and I swear I would get a better night’s sleep.”

          

          


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Who is the Fool? 2


  Count Belart, who had completely supported the king and would have to deal with this threat to his borderlands was immediately alarmed. “Your Majesty jests, of course.” Belart cast his eyes around the court at his usual allies. “You will surely send troops to help me seal up the border while we give all of Arnland our diplomatic attention and all will be well, I am sure.”

 “Oh, another one who is so sure he knows all the answers. So rushing troops to the border area- a perfect sign of gentle diplomacy, I’m sure. Not at all alarming, following an “invasion” from the same apparent source. I am so sick of it all; so many of you think it is so easy and so nice to be king. Just for one day I want to be free of it all. Just one day.” He turned back to Kaspar. “Fool. You can have your day on the golden throne; you can wear the robes and the crown. Give me that fool-stick of yours, so I can wave it in your face until you snap it in anger.” He reached out and took the stick from Kaspar’s nerveless fingers, then turned towards the Court. “Our Lady Seruchia, you are an expert in the painting of faces. You can do what you do best and paint your king as a fool. I want you to paint a happy smile on my visage, for once.” He took off his robe and put it across Kaspar’s shoulders, then handed him the signet ring cast for his coronation a score of years ago. “Sit, Kaspar, sit.” He pointed at the throne. “Tell us what you want us to do, while I entertain everyone, or is that perhaps, what you think I already do?”  The king hopped on one leg over to where Duke Margat was standing next to his usual court ally, Lady Seruchia. He moved into a stance all trained in the art of swordplay would recognise as a challenge, but with his fool-stick instead of the short archer’s sword he normally favoured. He deftly moved around in front of the duke in a series of standard stances, pointing the stick with its soft, brightly coloured tip always at Margat’s heart, then stuck out his tongue at Lady Seruchia.

           “Go on then, Fool!” Do whatever you have to do; whatever you are so sure is obviously the wise things to do.” He was shouting out load, but his eyes were still on Seruchia’s lined, but fashionably white painted face.

           “My lord chamberlain!” Kasper called across to the senior administrator of the court, who had been whispering to the Captain of the Guard, in a passable imitation of King Saul’s voice and manner. The chamberlain turned and looked up.

           “Yes, your maj… er, yes?” He glanced at Saul, who smiled and waved towards the throne.

           “I see almost all the dukes are here and a good number of the senior clergy. Do we have a quorum of the Royal Court here today my good man?”

           “Err, yes, err, we do.” He was already worried where this was leading. 

           “Good. Now hear this all of you. The king has instructed me to do whatever I think is necessary in this situation today.” The assembled Court were struck, every one of them, by the bold, clear voice of Kaspar, speaking from the throne. Gone was his usual Fool’s voice, the squeaking, whining voice of a comic. It was a surprisingly commanding and, some might say regal voice that addressed them now. All whispers were silenced. All eyes on him as Kaspar continued.

“The situation we have before us is clearly a dire one. The diplomatic matter between ourselves, South Arnland and Chusia can be settled soon enough with the necessary Royal Will and diplomacy. Our previous king has allowed this sore on our borders to fester, when a more proactive approach, as advised by senior members of the Court, would surely have put us in a different place. We will address this together. Cordially inviting both ambassadors here, along with a couple of neutral observers from other nations is an obvious start. 

           “However,” His voice quite strident now, the tone echoing across the silent hall, “the notion of a king abdicating his responsibilities to lead his nation; to propose, nay, to insist on stepping aside, not once, but four times you heard him urge me; admitting that it is all too much for him…

that is a far more serious matter. One that we can and should immediately address.” 

           While he spoke, the Captain of the Guard, who had been listening to the proceedings, walked over and shooed the Marchioness out on her mission, then quietly directed a couple more guards from outside around the room. He knew that something unheard of was happening and anticipated complications. Caspar continued.

“There is but one way that the Monarch in our domain can hand on the throne to someone not in the Line of Succession. That, as our Lord Chamberlain will confirm, is for the king to abdicate in favour of someone- a man, in Salic law- that he wants to take his place. If that proposal is taken up by an open show of hands representing three quarters of those present and two-thirds of those appointed to the Royal Court, then it shall stand. Is that not so, Chamberlain?”

           “Enough of this foolery!” Count Belart exclaimed, moving to stand beside Saul. “Your true majesty, take back your crown and let us deal with the matters at hand. Your point is well made that the weight of kingship lies heavily on any man’s shoulders. Obviously, our Fool is just jesting as usual, his majesty only said to take up the throne for a day, as a royal jest- to make a jocular point; that is NOT abdication.” He stuck out his hands in an appeal to the Chamberlain, but the king himself said nothing- bemused, tired, but also fascinated by the dialogue around him.

           The Lord Chamberlain scanned the room, taking in the facts of the case, but also the mood and alignment of the Court. The scattering of people was not physically divided into two camps exactly, but as people quietly drifted into recognisable groups, with Belart and a couple of others walking boldly to stand beside their king, but many others moving behind Duke Margat and Seruchia, he could see that many people were thinking that the Fool might be right, or at least, that they did not necessarily support their king. He could see that he might possibly lose his head whichever way the day went, so he chose what he hoped was the safest path.

           “Surely we only have to ask his majesty what exactly he meant by the proposal? There is, after all, no precedent for what our King Saul actually said, regardless of what he meant. Sire?” He looked at the silent king.

           “If you even need to ask me, then it shows that what I am saying is right, surely. That I am being treated by my court as some kind of spectacle, whilst we should all be trying to deal with important affairs of state. Obviously, the fool cannot be trusted to get on with these matters; that is why he is the fool and I am the king.” He started towards the throne.

           


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Who is the Fool? 3


“No, Lord Chamberlain!” The jester/king stood up and pointed at Saul. “No, our abdicating king. You said I must deal with the matters at hand for a day and I AM dealing with the matters at hand. Your judgement has been found wanting in the matter of the Chusian troops and you didn’t listen to the experienced advice of both your Lords and your Clergy. Faced with what to do, you handed the problem to me, you ordered me to deal with it. The fact that you so blithely handed me the crown, even supposedly temporarily, without apparently, a moment’s thought, is the very reason we have this method of transferring the crown. The fact that I can clearly understand what you apparently do not is WHY it must be put to the Court, to see if a large majority want this change. If you DO command at least a respectable minority of your court, what have you to lose? If you don’t, if this simple moment in time shows that your kingdom does not want you, why would you even want to serve them as leader? You simply order your people to stand on the left side of the room if they support you.” The fool had noted that most of the Court were already standing on the right, so more people would have to move from where they were standing if they were to support Saul. “People who recognise that Saul has abdicated his responsibilities in a manner rendering him unfit to govern, I, your temporary king, order you to move to my right side in order to make it permanent.” Somehow, he had swept aside the idea that people had to raise their hands at all, which he calculated would need more effort and decision from people.

           Count Belart walked boldly over to the left, gently pushing a couple of people he thought might waver ahead of him. “Come on!” He declared. “What, are you others mad? Come on, Duke Cyril!” He beckoned the king’s simple young brother, who had an honorary title of a Dukedom that had effectively ceased to exist. Cyril pulled gently at his brother’s doublet and beckoned him to follow Belart but Saul took his arm and gestured him to wait. He didn’t dare move for fear of giving recognition to this poll. Saul’s other brother, who would have garnered a lot of support for Saul, was away from court at this time. Of course, once it was clear how many were on the right, various others who had stood still scuttled across, to snorts of disgust by the loyalists remaining.

Although a greater number were on the right, there would not have been enough to actually trigger the change, but the old archbishop was already sitting on the right, as it happened. He had initially struggled to follow the Fool’s words and was not sure if he was supposed to be on the Throne’s left or his own, facing left. By the time he had decided that he had better at least stand up and was more or less decided to walk across to the other side, any of the bishops on the left side thought it best to move to where he was, so seeing them all walking towards him he sat down again. The floor was marked in a chequered pattern and in a time-honoured fashion, the Court were each now standing or sitting in a square, so they could be counted easily.

“To order,” called out the Clerk of the Court, signalling that the count would begin shortly. A last lowly Count wrongly guessed which side was going to win and scuttled across the invisible line . He received a hearty slap on the back by the nearest nobles to him. “At this moment,” the clerk declared, meaning no-one was to move and the count was made.  

           “Eighty five, not counting King Saul and his brother, of course, to twenty four,” whispered an astonished Lord Chamberlain to the Captain. “That, even allowing for the thirteen not here today means it’s just a clear enough majority.” He nodded to the Clerk, who called out in a loud, but slightly cracked, nervous voice.

           “The Right side has it!”

           King Saul himself snorted and declared out loud. 

           “I am your king and I don’t recognise this nonsense. It is just tomfoolery. Kaspar, take that crown off your head; people might think you were serious and I would not want to have you arrested, would I?

           “But ex-king Saul, see for yourself, you are no longer king. Lord Chamberlain, you must recognise this. Captain of the Guards, I order you to come and stand beside me as a bodyguard, the old king seems confused about who is now king.

           The Captain of the Guards, a wily fellow with one blue eye and one brown smiled and whispered to the Chamberlain. “If you confirm Kaspar, I will go and stand beside him.”

           “I will do it, the numbers are there, but what will happen when we do this?”

           “I don’t know; just go with the flow. Time will tell.” He reassuringly replied.

           “Your Grace,” called out the Lord Chamberlain toward the archbishop. “It seems we need your services, to anoint a new king.”

           “Old Saul,” Kaspar addressed his one-time king in a clear, sharp tone, “It seems you have your answer. A fool CAN become a king, as a king CAN quite literally become a fool.”


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