Category Archives: Writer’s Digest: The Writing Prompt Boot Camp

The Middle Aged Bed Wetter

In his dream he was hot tubing with Carol from accounting, the water wrapped around them both like frothy, warm blankets. Suddenly the water ran cold and itchy like icy wool. Scott woke to the realization he had just pissed himself. With the exception of a few legendary nights in undergrad, Scott hadn’t pissed himself since he was a kid.

Scott had regressed in a great many ways since finding his wife in bed with his business partner. Scott was lamenting the ruin of his lesbian fantasies when he noticed he was wearing spiderman pajamas.

What the…what did I do last night? Why do my legs look so short?

A wave of disorientation came over him as he stood from the bed.

Is this my…why am I…parents…why is my dresser so big?

Scott’s breath rattled in his throat, wet and heavy. His old NFL bedding was bright and new. A Pre-reboot Battlestar Galactica Viper Launch Station, complete with choking hazard, launch-able Viper. Scott’s eyes tickled with the expectation of what be buried under a pillow on his bed.

His hand lifted one of several pillows and his heart exploded nostalgia, and sci-fi exuberance, and kind of “I wish I hadn’t dismissed the possibility of a God, because this is some time-shifting craziness” type of fear.

There it was. The newest, most awesome toy any three year old boy could own in 1974. J.I. Joe with Kung Fu Grip.

He grabbed the toy. Real or not he wanted to play with the action figure again. There was one last test to confirm he had gone bat shit crazy.

The walk to the bathroom was a long ten steps. The wooden step stool was at the base of the sink just as like when he was a kid. The Mexican tile he thought outdated and garish seemed fresh and daring.

Scott slowly opened his eyes and was met by a young boy he knew only from pictures. He spit expletives at the mirror but it was no use. All he could see was 1974. He had broken his mind somehow.

His mother barged in suddenly. None to pleased at the language she heard he three year old son using.

She was magnificent. Vibrant, young, beautiful, and alive. She wouldn’t die for seven more years.

Scott didn’t know what would happen if he screwed with the her timeline. Would he blow up the world if he stopped his mom from getting in the car on April 12, 1981? He sure as shit was going to find out.

The smile he wore stole away all her anger and she gave him a big hug. It was the happiest moment the three year old had felt in forty-three years.

Jimmie G.

 

 

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All In

Open doors and name plates zoomed by in a blur, thank Gods the corridor was clear. Caleb swung wide to his right to better corner the turn. So hard to find purchase. 

He arrived at  Print Room #1 faster than anyone else could have, and yet he still felt slow. He checked the printer but there was nothing there. He didn’t find what he was looking for in the recycling bin either. Someone beat him to it. Someone that had to have been here already. A Southy. 

Southies were office mates with the southern view, which was also the best view. Those who sold got a great view. Those who didn’t sell sat near Caleb.

Caleb walked out of Print Room #1 and rounded the corner to the Southies end of the floor. He scanned the tops of their cubicles, and the open offices of the ‘top dogs’ that got to sit in glass rooms. Top dogs. What bullshit. 

To his left Carol and Mike’s heads were bent in hushed conversation. I hope it not these two. Carol noticed Caleb staring and waived him over. They both had the look of kids with a secret.

They wanted to be asked, but Caleb never did that. “Oh fine” scolded Mike, “we’ll tell you. Martha is sleeping with Amanda” he said. Carol erupted in gossipy glee, “but Donavon doesn’t know.” Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dumb shared their sentences, much as they shared a brain. “He doesn’t even know she’s gay”, Mike said. “She’s bi, not gay, you should the difference”, said Carol. “Oh please, I’ve known what gay is since first grade, okay?”,  Mike said with a snap. Carol applauded him. She was like his Familiar, or perhaps he was hers. They lost interest in telling Caleb the story. He was like a vegan in a meat locker when it came to appreciating gossip. They don’t have it.Thank Gods. Carol and Mike walked away in search of a better audience.

Time to say some hello’s. I’ll know who has it when they see me. 

Fifteen cubicles and three in the glass cages. One of them has it. I need to find my papers before five pm or I’m dead.  Caleb checked all the cubicles first. Its not any of them. Its one of the ‘top dogs’. Perfect. 

The second door belonged to Tom Meyer. Caleb knew right away it was him. He could smell the fear on him, alhough Tom was smooth. His face belied a calmness. This guy could go all in with a 2-3 unsuited and make you think he had a full house. Still. The stink never lies. 

“Did you find anything belonging to me in Print Room #1?”, Caleb asked.

Tom tried hiding behind arrogance. “I don’t go to the print room Caleb. I send the cubicle losers for that shit”.

This guy only knows how to play hard ball. Caleb reached out his hand for a shake and said sorry. Tom took the gesture as a sign of weakness, he squeezed Caleb’s hand to show his strength. This one might be  good addition actually, thought Caleb.

He barley flexed his pinky and Tom’s wrist ran red. “What the fuck” dropped out of Tom’s mouth as his arm flew up. “You cut me. You fucking animal”.

“Yes”, Caleb agreed, “and now you’re one too”. Tom’s humanity was draining from his eyes, it left him speechless.

“The next full moon is tonight. You come home with me and I’ll help you get ready. In the meantime you need to file registration papers before five o’clock or the Catchers will hunt you down. Now give me my paper so I can file mine”

Caleb’s registration papers lay under some files on Tom’s desk, he handed them to Caleb. Still unable to talk.

“File your papers Tom. I don’t want the Catchers chasing me all night”, Caleb warned. Tom’s acknowledgment was barley perceptible, but he understood.  “You’re part of the pack now Tom. Although you’re at the back of the pack now. No more top dog for you”. He wasn’t top dog anymore. Tom instantly hated the phrase, just as Caleb always had. Caleb walked out, leaving Tom to think about his new life.

Once Caleb was safely out of site a smile cracked Tom’s lips. He had gone all in with 2-3 unsuited and won the biggest pot of all. Back of the pack is just fine. For now. 

Jimmie G.

Day 4 of the Writer’s Digest: Writing Prompt Boot Camp.

Sent to the Wrong Printer

You’re at work and you print something personal (and sensitive). Unfortunately, you’ve sent it to the wrong printer and, by the time you realize it, somebody else has already scooped it up.

01

Anyone can do magic nowadays. You just have to take the time to learn the spells, and have enough money to actually buy one. The menial spells are affordable if not dull. Sure there are subsidized spells and Groupons, but if you want to get serious you need some serious cash.  Its gotten so bad a person is likely to sit on the couch trying and retrying a summoning spell rather than walk the five feet to pick up the remote.

You can do all kinds of powerful stuff with magic if you have enough funds and talent, but there’s something more powerful than any shade of magi c. Bureaucracy! There isn’t a spell thats been written yet that can make that go away. Trust me,  ever since that little black box was opened and magic came back into the world, I’ve seen them all.

Its what I did. Bureaucracy was my thing. I loved it. I worked at the Office of Spell Construction and Regulations, OSCR for short. You pronounce it just like the award. Acronyms are the second language for us Bureaucrats.

The OSCR is but one department in the massive complex known as M1, which is short for the already short title, Magic One. M1 doesn’t look magical at all, especially for a place entirely dedicated to magic. Its a massive white rectangle, with no windows, four floors and 3700 human employee, and more than six thousand Sentient Electronic Devices. Which are of course called SEDs.

On each the four massive office floors sit hundreds of Personal Office Pods, POPS. Mmmm. Acronyms are like warm cake. There is nothing Harry Potter about M1. Its more like a Terry Gilliam film really. The place is littered with outdated pieces of technology masquerading as state-of-the-art.

Its the magic you see. Everything is repurposed. Instead of filling up landfills with old or broken electronics, they’re just dusted with a magic spell to do all kinds of cool shit.

That’s how I came to be. I am an Osborne 1, a “portable” lap top. I use the quotation marks because I weigh in at a whopping 23 pounds.  I have a five inch display screen and single sided floppy drive.  My computing power is less than what you get from a Happy Meal toy. But I was magically repurposed, thats the green shade of magic. I can instantly detect irregularities, illegal phrasings, and infractions in any spell, no matter how the long. Also, I’m a SEDs. My partner for the past seventeen years calls me Osborne. I would prefer Ozzy but Darren is not the nickname type of guy.

Darren is efficient, kind, thoughtful, and an utter bore. He’s had the same routine everyday for seventeen years.  He shows up at the office no later than seven in the morning and doesn’t leave for home until its dark outside. He does this so as not to feel guilty about getting into his ‘bed pants’ as soon as he gets home and going to bed. On weekends he takes me home so he can continue working. A routine designed to keep life just out of reach. Everyday, week after week, month after month, for seventeen years the same routine.

Until just before Halloween of 2014. That morning Darren found a cookie waiting for him. A delicious double chocolate chip cookie.  Darren, whom as I have mentioned is an utter bore, is also a voracious sugar junkie.

Stiff necked, Darren’s eyes darted back and forth as if he might find who left the cookie among the stacks of spells. Then, like a six foot prairie dog, Darren stood to scan the sea of POPS. He slumped back into his chair and quite suddenly attacked the cookie, taking it down in a single bite.

The next day there was another cookie waiting. This one a perfect peanut butter cookie. And so it went everyday for a few months.  Oatmeal Raisin, Fudge Crinkles, Soft Snicker-doodle, Whipped Shortbread, Gingerbread, and on and on until one day there was no cookie waiting for him at all.

But Darren’s delectable benefactor had not abandoned him. In place of a cookie sat a cupcake under under a glass cloche. Attached to the glass dome was a sticky note that read, Take a bite and then think ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Darren offered no darting eyes, neither did he scan the office floor prairie dog-like. He simply removed the glass cloche and enjoyed the cupcake.

He later related to me soon after the sensation of content that came over him. A feeling of absolute surety, a singularity of purpose that washed over him in a wave of ones and zeros. He told me the binary language coursed through him, whispering a single question to which he gleefully answered ’01’.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. 01. 01. 01. 01. The language he would speak for the rest of his life.

We each stepped into a world better suited to the other that day. Me into Life, and Darren into a word entirely dedicated to order and predictability. We worked together for another twenty years before I retired with to spend more time with my family.

Darren is still at OSCR, checking spells. Everyday I email him a new dessert recipe. It keeps him on his keys.

Jimmie G

Writer’s Digest: The Writing Prompt Boot Camp. Two weeks of Craft, Creativity, and Discipline.

Day 3: Mystery Cookie

One Day you come into work and find a cookie mysteriously placed on your desk. Grateful to whoever left this anonymous cookie, you eat it. The next morning you come in and find another cookie. This continues for months until one Day a different object is left—and this time there’s a note.