Category Archives: Writing

No Place Like Home

This is a screenplay I wrote for a creative writing class in college.  I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. A pilot for a television show with extremely short episodes? I had to restore it from a PDF I found in my email, and I tweaked it just slightly as I was correcting the conversion errors. Anyway, enjoy. 

No Place Like Home

(After title screen continue with black for a little bit. Cut to a close up on John, a white male of about thirty wearing business casual clothes. He is sitting in a chair like at an airport gate.)

John: (with a start) Where am I?

(Pan camera to Cixot sitting beside John. Another white male, apparently twenty years old, rough and wearing a leather jacket)

Cixot: You’re in hell, Tenth Circle!

John: What?

Cixot: Ha ha, Naw, I’m just kiddin’. (John starts to relax) You’re in the Ninth circle.

John: What?

Cixot: (snorting at his own joke) There is no Tenth circle.

John: I’m in Hell?

Cixot: You’re in hell.

John: Hell?

Cixot: Yes, Hell.

John: Why does it look like an airport terminal?

Cixot: (shrugs and screws up his face in a “hell if I know” expression) I guess you don’t like airport terminals!

John: They’re kind of annoying, I guess.

Cixot: Alright, that’s a start! Welcome to Hell!

John: But – I’m not dead!

Cixot: Died in yer sleep.

John: No I didn’t! I wasn’t sleeping!

Cixot: Like Hell you weren’t (explodes with laughter)

John: I wasn’t! I was

Cixot: (interrupts) Dozin’?

John: A- No!

Cixot: (interrupts)Snoozin’?

John: No! I-

Cixot: (interrupts)Restin’ yer eyes?

John: Shut up! I was just getting a Diet Coke from a vending machine, when I was suddenly sitting in this airport terminal.

Cixot: Hell.

John: (annoyed)Yes, Hell.

beat

Cixot: ‘dja have a dark, disturbed feeling when you saw the vending machine?

John: What? What are you- (realization) wait, actually yes. I had the strangest urge to get as far away from that vending machine as possible, but I just- I just shrugged it off. (disbelieving) It’s not really sensible to go around avoiding things just because they give you bad impressions.

Cixot: As a matter of fact, it is. (flashes a smile) Possessed vending machine.

John: (incredulous) What?

(Camera spins around to face Kyle, a twenty-something fellow, snappily dressed and sitting backwards on the seat in the row opposite and leaning forward, paying rapt attention.)

Kyle: Demon possesses a vending machine. For all intensive purposes it becomes a tool of the devil. Then a mortal uses a tool of the devil, betraying God. Quid Pro Quo, here you are in Hell.

Cixot: (to Kyle)Absolutely right. (to John)Welcome to Hell. (pause, Cixot looks stupid for a second.)

(to Kyle) Have we met?

John: But-but I’m not dead! And what about the bad feeling!? What does that have to do with it!?

Kyle: Second of all, the bad feeling is your soul trying to tell you to, like you said, “Get as far away from the vending machine as possible” God knew demons would try and fool human, so he put little sensors in your souls that would warn you when an object is possessed. Unfortunately, nowadays people tend to ignore that sensor, what with all the hoopla about human reason and what is and isn’t possible. First of all, as for why you’re in Hell before you’re dead, well betrayal takes your soul right away, and you end up here.

Cixot: Shit! (slaps forehead) You’re right! Article 84, Clause 14-B, The sin of treachery is, er, punished instantaneously and without reprieve!

Kyle: Good! I bet you aced Sins 341! Now what’s that clause known as colloquially?

(Cixot stops to think for a moment)

John: But what happens to my body? Do I just, what, collapse in a pile on the ground?

Cixot: Danté’s clause!

Kyle: (to Cixot) Right you are! (to John) A-

Cixot:(interrupts) A demon takes control a yeh fer the rest a yer life.

John: (speechless)

Cixot: (smiles maliciously)We’ve got a screen if you want to see what yer doin’ now.

John: um

Kyle: You don’t want to see.

Cixot: What?

Kyle: Trust me, John, you don’t.

John: How do you know my name?

Cixot: (to Kyle, frustrated and suspicious) Who are you?

Kyle: (to Cixot) Nice to meet you, I’m Kyle. (to John) John, do not look at that terminal, trust me.

Cixot: I’m Cixot. Nice to meet both of you. (incensed, grabs John)We actually were just leaving.

Camera cuts. John realizes with a start that he’s in a booth now with a terminal in front of him.

Cixot: (muttering) Who was that? Kahyle.. Caile… maybe it was Caine? But what about the mark? Caine’s always got that stupid mark!

(Cixot pushes a button on the terminal and it starts up.)

John: Window’s Vista?

Cixot: Shut up. Lets see, start menu… all programs… ah DemonCam!

(Cut to terminal screen. “Please wait while DemonCam connects to server…” On the screen John is walking down the sidewalk finishing his Diet Coke. When he’s done he throws it in a waste bin.)

John: This isn’t so bad.

Cixot: Are you kidding? That was recyclable! Think of all the long-term damage that’s going to cause!

John: (scratches head) I guess that’s kind of evil.

Cixot: He’s just getting started, anyway. He wanted to finish the evil soda.

(John on the screen strolls into a gun store and starts applying for a gun license.)

John: My wife isn’t going to be happy about this.

Cixot: You have a wife? Ooh, this is gonna be great!

(The color drains from John in the airport’s face)

(John on the screen is filling out an application for a gun license)

(Kyle appears and grabs John. Suddenly, they’re in a cave. The camera is behind them, looking at the airport. Huge, black stalagmites and stalactites surround it, one is penetrating the roof, as if the airport had been built around it. Gigantic nuclear coolers stand in the distance, billowing brimstone. John looks around, startled.)

John: Goddammit, that’s so freaky! What’s with all the teleporting!?

Kyle: I don’t know what you’re asking to be damned, but it probably already is at this point, so don’t waste your breath. As for teleporting, Hell isn’t really a physical place, it’s sort of half, maybe three-quarters all in your mind, so you go places just by having the intent of being there.

John: I didn’t intend to be here!

Kyle: That’s the other half. That fella in the airport and I have higher privilege than you here, so we can

take you places just by intending to take you there.

beat

John:(resigned) So this is Hell. Why is there an airport?

Kyle: I should be asking you. You put it there.

John: Huh?

Kyle: You must really hate airports.

John: Not so much, actually.

(Kyle tries to exchange a knowing look with John, but John responds with a look that says “What!?”)

beat

(Johns eyes lazily wander around Hell, but when he turns around to look behind him he gasps.)

John: Whoah! Jesus Christ!

Kyle: Not here.

John: A lake of fire!? (pan to show lake of fire)

Kyle: Yes, that’s a lake of fire. Would you mind terribly stepping into it?

John: What? Yes I’d mind! It’s a lake of fire!

Kyle: That’s the way out of here, John.

John: That’s ridiculous! I’m not going!

Kyle: (sigh) fine.

(Kyle reaches his hand out to the side where it disappears as if behind an invisible wall and types

something. The lake of fire disappears and is replaced by a stretch of volcanic soil with a door standing freely in the center.)

Kyle: Just go through the door

(John pauses for a moment, but starts walking towards the door. When John’s almost halfway there Kyle reaches his hand out and pushes an invisible button. The land disappears and becomes a lake of fire again. John falls into the fire and starts screaming in agony.)

John: AAAAH! FUCK! It burns! THIS HURTS SO FUCKING BAD!!! AAAAAUGH!

Kyle: (shouting from the shore, show the camera distantly) Think of your home!

John: WHAT? AAAAUGH!

Kyle: You’ve got to think of your home, or you’ll just appear in the airport again!

John: FUCK THIS! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

Kyle: Don’t just say it! Do I look like a good fairy to you!? Keep an image of your home in your mind!

Think about what it’ll be like to be there!

John: AAAAAAAUUGH! It burns! It’s hot! GRAAAAGH!

(John sinks into the lake of fire.)

Kyle: (whispers to self) shit.

(John is in the airport)

Cixot: Long time, no see. I brought you the terminal this time.

(Cixot has a television on a wheelie stand. John on the screen is waiting for a bus.)

Cixot: He’s got the gun. He’s going to K-mart to buy the bullets now.

John: Why didn’t he just buy the bullets at the gun shop?

Cixot: He wants as many as he can get for your money. This demon’s an old friend of mine, and he knows how to cause suffering, trust me. Just be patient.

John: Oh, shit! Where’s Kyle?

Cixot: Would you shut up about Caine already? That fucker took my last three victims!

(Kyle appears)

Kyle: Come on, John.

They disappear. Cixot roars in anger and shoves over terminal, which explodes and sets the floor on fire. He screams again and tries a few times to snap his fingers. When finally he does manage to snap them, the fire and terminal scraps vanish, leaving the floor clean and pristine.

Cixot: Fuckin’ Caine!

(In front of the lake of fire)

John: Holy crap! He’s gonna kill us!

Kyle: Don’t worry about that guy, he’s just an imp. He probably thinks I’m one of his superiors playing a prank on him.

John: You’re not Caine?

Kyle: No, I’m Kyle. (sounding it out) Ky-le.

beat

John: So now what?

(Kyle gives John a look)

John: No.

Kyle: Do you want to get out of here or not?

John: So I have to die? Is that it? I die and somehow I end up back at home?

(Kyle nods impatiently)

John: Can’t you just shoot me or something?

Kyle: (Like explaining to a small, not particularly bright child) No I can’t shoot you. It has to be in the lake of fire. The lake of fire.

John: (mimicking Kyle’s tone) Why?

Kyle: The lake of fire is the connector between the circles. Dying by a gunshot wound will just put you right back at your rebirth location every time, but privileged people can send a soul that’s died in the pit of fire to different circles. Then I can override the system a little bit to give you the controls to go to the zeroth circle, i.e. The mortal realm. I’d just send you there myself, but you might end up in the wrong body. Like Cameron Diaz or a fish or something.

John: Hold on. I’m not a complete moron. Circles of Hell? Dante’s clause? I read The Inferno in

sophomore English. The ninth circle isn’t hot! It’s cold!

Kyle: Because Lucifer was blowing wind through it, but you don’t see him here either, do you?

John: What?

Kyle: An awful lot has changed since our buddy Alighieri had his little tour.

John: What?

Kyle: Look, Einstein. I’m not here to explain to you the history of Hell. I’m just here to get you out. Now do you want to get out?

John:…Yes I do.

Kyle: Then start walking. And remember, think of home.

(John starts trudging towards the lake of fire, but balks at the edge.)

Kyle: Come on!

John: This isn’t as easy as it looks! This stuff burns!

Kyle: Yeah, it’s fire! Now hop in!

(Cixot appears, livid)

Cixot: What the fuck are you doin’?

Kyle: Whoah, hold on there, fella. I’m just helping this guy get to the right circle. (to John) Go! Go!

John: (mumbling) There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…

Cixot: You ain’t Caine. I went to Caine’s house lookin’ fer ya an’ he said he’d never heard of a Kyle. Who are you?

Kyle: I’m Beelzebub.

Cixot: Checked there.

Kyle: Mephistopheles.

Cixot: Nuh-uh he’s off duty. Mephistopheles never deals with mortals on Thursdays.

Kyle: This is a special exception.

Cixot: Mephistopheles doesn’t make exceptions.

John: There’s no place like home…

Kyle: Enraha (hoarse whisper to John) Get in there!

Cixot: Are you serious!? Enraha is a giant eyeball! He never leaves that stupid pyramid!

Kyle: (Pauses for a moment)

Cixot: Who-

Kyle: Alright, you found me out…. I’m Lucifer. (Kyle’s eye twitches and he shoves John face-forward into the lake of fire)

John: There’s no place like-whoah!

Kyle: I have returned.

Cixot: That is the stupidest thing-

Kyle: You’d better fucking believe it, Imp. I’m the king of Hell.

Cixot: What? I’m a gog, thank you very much! I worked hard for that title! And you are not the king of hell.

Kyle: Oh, I’m sorry Mr. one-step-above-imp. Hey, where’re your horns?

Cixot: They’re on layaway. I should get them in a week or two.

Kyle: They’re making you pay for your horns now?

Cixot: Well, yeah. We’ve been doing it that way for a few hundred years now. Who are you, exactly?

Kyle: I’m Lucifer! A lowly gog questions my authority?

Cixot: Show me some proof. Lucifer is the size of a mountain!

Kyle: …I don’t need to prove anything to you, Gog. Go on your way

(Kyle looks over his shoulder at John, who is sinking into the fire screaming “THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!” at the top of his lungs)

Kyle: Idiot.

(zoom in on John’s hand reaching out of the lava as it sinks completely in. Suddenly, John is standing in front of a counter with his hand on a credit card. A clerk is looking at him expectantly. He looks and sees a heaping stack of bullet boxes on the counter)

John: Oh! Uh, I’d like to, um, cancel.

Clerk: I’m sorry?

John: I just realized I don’t need (eyes a heaping stack of bullet boxes on the counter) …however many bullets that is.

Clerk: (bewildered) Oh.

John: Bye!

(John leaps away)

Clerk: Sir, you left your gun!

John: Keep it!

John dashes toward the door, but Kyle is standing in the doorway. The automatic door keeps trying to close on him.

John: oh, Kyle! Thanks! Are you, uh, going to be ok?

Kyle: Yeah, I’m fine. That Gog’s pretty confused, though. He’s probably going to get demoted back to imp.

John: That’s too bad.

Kyle: Oh shut up, don’t feel sorry for him. He’s a demon!

John: Whatever.

Kyle: Listen, I just wanted to say you’re the luckiest damned moron I’ve ever met. And I mean that literally. Not everybody gets the slowest Demon in hell to possess him.

John: Well, gee, thanks, Kyle. You’re… what are you?

(Whirring noise of automatic door opening and closing)

Kyle: (screws up his face into a mock smile and puts his hands on his hips) I’m a servant of the Lord.

John: Yeah, right.

Kyle: No, really I’m just a regular guy.

(John is not impressed)

Kyle: Alright, fine. (glares wildly at John, still smiling) I’m Lucifer!

John: (Disbelieves again, but Kyle’s smile disappears. He looks suddenly rather imposing. John doesn’t press the subject)

Kyle: (grins) Well, don’t you have a wife to go see?

John: My god, I was so scared! You have no idea! Thank you again!

(John waits for the door to open wide enough for him to slip past, and runs out. Happy music starts to play.)

Kyle: Oh hey, John. Could you do me a favor?

John: What?

Kyle: If you see ol’ Cixot again, just say his name and tell him to go back to Hell. That oughta take care of him.

(The happy music stops abruptly.)

John: Whoah, whoah. I thought I was out of this!

Kyle: (holding up hands) I don’t really think it’s going to be a problem, I just think you should know. Just in case.

John: Ok, fine. “Cixot?” Just say “Cixot?”

Kyle: No, no his whole name. There’s a weird old rule on the books that if a mortal says a demon’s whole name the demon has to obey their instructions. What actually qualifies as a legitimate instruction has gotten all gunked up in bureaucracy, though, so just stick with telling him to go away. You can be all like “Returne from whence ye came” and stuff if you want, but just “go to Hell!” should work fine.

John: What’s his whole name?

Kyle: That’s a good question. Nowadays demons tend to make their full names entire backwards songs, and then just go by the title. I’m not up on popular culture, though, so I can’t help you with that.

John: (incredulous) So I have to sing an entire song backwards?

Kyle: (defensive) I didn’t say it was going to be easy! Oh, and don’t practice. If you say his whole name while he’s not here, it might summon him.

John: (yelling) I have to sing an entire song backwards on the spur of the moment without practicing!?

Kyle: You know what!? Fine! Fine! You don’t want my help, you won’t get it! There’s no way you’re the one they want, anyway! I’m out of here!

John: What? The one they want!? Oh, no you don’t! You are going to tell me what’s going on, and you are going to tell me

(Kyle vanishes)

John: …now. (camera zooms out to view larger K-Mart area. Everyone is staring at John)

John: What!? What are you guys looking at!? Go away! (mumbles) Ah, what the hell is going on!? Cixot… what song is called “Cixot?”

(Play credits to Britney Spears’ “Toxic” played backwards)

(the song continues a bit after the credits end, and the dialogue starts the second it ends. Close up on the fang-filled mouth of a major demon, complete with red skin, goatee, and horns. Dressed in business formal and wearing tiny glasses at the end of his long nose.)

Namdnas Retsim: …Otherwise known as Cixot. (Zoom out to show whole face while Retsim looks up from his paper) May I call you Cixot?

Cixot: (looking sick with worry) Please do.

Namdnas Retsim: Now, it says here that the soul under your jurisdiction somehow ended up back in

its mortal body.

Cixot: I- I can explain, really!

Namdnas Retsim: (adjusts glasses, looking back down at paper) ahem, you will be glad to know, Cixot, that Neeuq Rellik was returned immediately to Hell unharmed.

Cixot: (slightly relieved, but still quite terrified) I was acting under orders!

Namdnas Retsim: Yes, it’s all here. (slightly amused) From Lucifer himself, I see!

Cixot: It was Lucifer! He said he was Lucifer!

Namdnas Retsim: Perhaps… he wasn’t telling the truth? Did that thought enter your mind, Cixot?

Cixot: He said he was Lucifer! I’m not supposed to question Lucifer! Article 16-A, clause 8,433!

Namdnas Retsim: Settle down, Cixot, it’s all here. You’re not in trouble.

Cixot: (surprised) …I’m not?

Namdnas Retsim: No, no, no…

(Cut to John energetically hugging his surprised wife and children, Retsim’s voice plays over)

Namdnas Retsim: We just need you (cut back to fanged mouth) to get that soul back.

(Cut to black)

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SAM 1.1 the Audiobook

In addition to writing, I enjoy reading my work out loud. My friend has started recording audiobooks for a small company in Winston Salem, and I thought “hey, why don’t I record my own audiobook?”

Here’s my extremely amateur recording (one take, no editing)

This Clickbait will Leave you Speechless

Here’s a series of clickbait-style headlines written by me for my enjoyment. If you enjoy them too, hey that’s nice.

This image of an orangutan watching a magic trick should be required viewing

You won’t believe what this celebrity you have never heard of has to say about this issue you don’t care about!

These six thousand, eight hundred, and ninety four facts about Indo-pakistani roller derby will make you never want to watch the commonwealth games again! You won’t believe number five thousand, two hundred and thirty one!

You can lead a horse to water, but what happens next will blow your mind.

This man was accused of murdering three children. Instead of going to jail, he’s still walking the streets in [your neigborhood] thanks to this amazing life-hack!

Weight loss coaches and the oil industry HATE this man! Convert your excess fat into clean, renewable energy using this one weird trick invented by a teacher!

Some people think Gandhi was the best guy in all of history, but did you know he was actually the worst guy in all of history? Your brain will explode and leave a slimy pink mess inside your skull when you click this article.

Who would be your bestie of the Japanese shogunate? I got 源 頼朝! Take the quiz!

When this woman sits in a chair, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Disney princesses reimagined as members of Donald Trump’s advisory board. You won’t believe who Sean Spicer gets!

We all thought [some celebrity] had a heart of gold. Now watch him give 0.000000000000001% of his fortune to a little boy who stubbed his toe. Wow.

This dog witnessed the moon fall and crash into planet Earth, annihilating the vast majority of its inhabitants and knocking the planet out of orbit. In less than a year, we will be far away enough from the sun that the few survivors will have to brave an arctic wasteland. The dog’s reaction is unbelievable.

Image result for dancing dog gif

I’m not here to make friends

This is an old comedy sketch idea I found in my Evernote archive.

Sketch Title : “Upcoming Reality Shows”

A series of increasingly ridiculous reality show concepts presented as brief sections from each show.

Each section starts with a description of the show, a short clip of the activity, and an interview with someone asserting he’s not here to make friends. Maybe even funnier if it’s the same guy in every competition.

Competitive Origami: People at a table intensely and angrily folding paper cranes

Interview: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to fold paper!”

Competitive Livestock Abuse: Two men harassing a donkey

Interview: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to kick ass!”

Competitive Confessions: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make amends”

Competitive Carpentry: “I’m not here to make friends,” Holds up a pair of wooden bookends, “I’m here to make ends.”

Female-to-male drag competition: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make men.”

Writing contest for the next episode of “Friends”: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make Friends.”

Competitive Networking: “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to … uhh …”

Write a story about the moment when everything changed

This is actually a small fragment of a novel I’d like to write. Fantasy novels are such undertakings, but maybe someday.

It was the sort of freak occurrence that would have reverberating effects throughout the realm for generations. Imagine a horse falling out of the sky over your head. Now imagine it has razor sharp talons and a beak designed to rend struggling flesh from the bone. Imagine your mother falling down to protect you.

Try to tell that woman’s husband, that child’s father, that this is one out of a whole forest. Try to tell them the role in the ecosystem, protecting us from those who would take these woods for themselves. Tell the frightened, shouting masses to be calm. Just try to tell them to think about what they are about to do.

In the year of the wise man, the dry season, to raucous applause, Alisair Greenwarden overturned millenia-old protections. Laws so old they may well have been written by a congress of demigods and forest spirits. The leaves fell around us, brown and brittle, descending from the swaying trees who may have been young when these laws were first drafted, whose judging whispers we would never understand.

How one tragedy leads to another. That child. That poor, helpless babe whose mother died to protect her. She will never know a time before taxidermied gryphons stood in the sacred hall. Before eager young men wore necklaces of gryphon claws and wove elaborate fables about their latest kill. Before our people turned against our own protectors.

 

Featured Art – http://www.sarina-brewer.com/gallery/taxidermy-art-fantasy.html

 

Prompt Writing – Pill to grant the powers of a god

Since I received such a positive response to my last prompt entry, I thought I would make a series of entries based on my old prompt responses. Enjoy!

Prompt

Give a story about a character who discovers that there is a pill to grant the powers of a god.

Response

“Hypothetically we therefore could postulate the existence of a pill that would grant such powers of said deity.” Professor Werner’s hair stood out from his forehead like a thin, grey halo. My eyelids were getting so heavy I had to hold my whole head up by propping it on my palm. Cryptopharmaceuticals was turning out to be even more dull and pointless than I had imagined, not that I had put much effort into imagining it when I had marked it as my second choice for freshman seminar. Chocolate factory studies had filled up, so I was here learning about hypothetical drugs.

Serene Peace’s hand shot up. She was one of those modern children whose parents had named her an adjective they hoped would describe her. It didn’t. Her black hair was pulled back into a ponytail so tight that I thought if someone bumped it the wrong way, it would all be torn out. She always looked like her mind was racing at roughly 100 meters per second, which in imperial units means she was crazy. Serene never waited to be called on before speaking. “Professor, do you mean that it already exists, or that it exists conceptually and could one day be manufactured?”

Professor Werner snorted at this. “Hphuf!” He then resumed his lecture. Serene’s eye twitched. Despite painstakingly cataloguing Professor Werner’s broad array of snorts, grunts, and huffs, she had only managed to conclude that not one of them was ever meant to answer her question. Serene shot her hand up again. Again she asked her question without being called on, although I don’t suspect she would be called if she did wait, so I couldn’t blame her. “Professor Werner, has anyone ever succeeded in making a deidryl tablet, or any of the medicines you’ve described in this course?”

“Fffuf!” Professor Werner admonished, “You, Miss Peace, might find you’re better suited to,” and he added an extra harrumph, “Hhhh-applied CccHemistry!”

I happened to know that chemistry was already Serene Peace’s planned major. That was twenty years ago. Now we all live under the benevolent hand of Serene Peace. It’s hard to say precisely what has changed about the world since she developed and consumed the first and only successful deidryl tablet, but its clear that it’s better. I wonder if she’s just changed all of us to have more positive perspectives. Sort of lame to have my free will so roundly and effortlessly disproven. I feel like I would have been grumpy about that once. Deidryl’s one heck of a drug.

 

Worst prompt night

Once upon a time I organized a writing night based around bad prompts. Each participant was expected to bring the worst prompt he or she could think of on an index card, then we would trade index cards and write to the prompts. Today I’ll share my prompt, the prompts I wrote to, and what I wrote.

My prompt

You are an accountant managing the finances of a small chain of delicatessens in the southeastern United States. A shipment of roast beef is on a southbound train starting at one hundred meters per second and accelerating fifteen meters per second squared. One hundred miles to the south is a northbound train accelerating from 50 meters per second at a rate of 10 meters per second squared. When the trains collide and 150,000 lbs of roast beef valued at $5 per pound before North Carolina’s 7.5% tax is lost. If your manager charges you 10% of the losses, how much money do you lose?

This prompt received some consternation, but I was fortunate in that no one actually tried to solve the problem, which I myself had not troubled to solve. Mostly, they just wrote stories about grumpy deli accountants.

Ethan’s prompt

Ethan offered three prompts and exhorted us to pick one. I wrote a prompt incorporating all three.

Pick a card

You’re wearing a great hat, but can’t describe it.

You’re having lunch with your favorite author – describe the bread

My response

I have the loveliest hat. I cannot describe it because I am under a non-disclosure agreement. I can tell you that I am wearing it because it is so gosh darn lovely. “Good morning, sir!” I say to a fellow hat-wearer. I can describe his hat, but I will not. It is less lovely by a substantial margin. Later in the day, I find a three of hearts stuck between the branches of a tree. It is a good sign. A sign that my meeting with George R. R. Martin will go well.

While meeting with George, a stellar fellow, I can’t help but notice the bread. It’s a thick, sour rye so flavorful it does not even need butter. I apply butter anyway, as does George, although I wish he would take better care of himself at least until he’s finished with his books. The bread is sweet ambrosia on my tongue. What majesty! What stellar, divine triumph! Luckier than the three of hearts, more lovely than my – well, let’s not get carried away.

In any case, when all the bread is gone, I open my mouth to tell George how much I appreciate his stark yet compelling portrayal of violent conflict, ha ha, no pun intended, when a waiter comes by with another dish of bread. What is this restaurant!? A spectacular complete loaf of LaFarm signature sourdough easily covers our entire small table. Out of concern for poor George’s health, I snatch it away and begin to, carefully, slowly, eat it all myself.

Lest my chance to speak to my hero be lost, I endeavor to speak between bites. “What is your inspiration?” I ask as I reach the one-quarter mark on my LaFarm loaf. George raises a finger to explain his secret to success when an olive-herb loaf, a pane caesarica, and a french loaf you could pole vault with are all wheeled out. Once again I strive to protect my mentor from early cardiac failure.

George R. R. Martin left that restaurant alive. For that, I am grateful. We shall see if some day I will get to leave, too. Just me, endless bread, and the most beautiful hat never described.

Ilya’s prompt

You discover that your identity was stolen by underpants gnomes

My response

I am underpants. I must be underpants, or else how could my identity have been stolen by underpants gnomes? Yet, how could I still know that I am underpants if my identity is lost to me? What is the nature of the undergarment persona? I call my bank to try and cancel my credit card. Our conversation is brief, exchanging tough security questions and responses like a pair of duelling boxers. Soon a new one is in the mail. I take one last look at my old card, the little picture of me, or is it me? Perhaps it is some person wearing white woolen long-johns who are me. I take it to the shredder.

It wreaks havoc on your life, to have your identity stolen and to be underpants. Those goddamn gnomes. I am locked out of my Amazon account. Even my laundry card is maxed out. Pairs upon pairs of me begin to pile up. With no way to clean them, they are dirty. I am dirty. I am underpants. I travel to the coin laundromat. People are staring at the walking underclothes. I feel exposed. Ashamed. What am I doing wandering the streets!? I should be covered!

I get a letter from the gnomes. They are not cruel. They will return my identity if I wire them twenty thousand dollars. Underpants cannot wire money. I drape myself carelessly over the couch. Maybe someone will find me, and with a curled lip of distaste, toss me into the hamper where I belong. Without my identity I am worthless. I have nothing. I am underpants.