Fiction · Prompt · unedited

And then the cops showed up.

Debbie and John pulled into their driveway early Sunday morning, still ignorant to the fact that most of their back lawn lay in ruin. It’s transformation had been quick, inspired, and hot. They had been away Saturday through the night at a couples meditation retreat allowing their children Carl, and to a lesser extent Robbie, enough time to orchestrate and execute exactly what they’d been forbidden to do: throw a bitchin’ party.

 

“Honey, can you help with some of the bags?” Debbie said stepping out of the car, hands full of certified organic produce packed neatly in reusable canvas.

 

John interrupted his humming rendition of Detroit Rock City, “Sure, hon.” The two made it in one trip after John draped the rest of the bags on his arms. Veins bulged in his neck under the strain.

 

“John, just come back for the rest.” Debbie said.

 

“No,” he grunted. She rolled her eyes and unlocked the front door. The two stepped inside and hurried to the kitchen where they found Robbie and Carl quietly eating cornflakes.

 

“G’morning boys,” John said.

 

The both mumbled greetings into their bowls.  

 

Debbie followed John inspecting the walls and floor for any signs of wear. Not a spot anywhere. It was clean– too clean for the likes of the two animals she’d birthed. She squinted at them in suspicion and until they looked up from their cereal.

 

“Hey ma,” They both said in succession.

 

“Good morning.” She said, swinging her bags onto the table. “How was your night in boys?”

 

Robbie choked on his corn flakes and Carl spoke. “Good.”

 

John had resumed whistling Detroit Rock City– the chorus anyway, while arranging the spotless stainless steal fridge.

 

“So,” Debbie continued, “you two just felt like cleaning the entire house by yourselves? My,” she put her hand to her lower neck, “how thoughtful of you.” She placed both palms on the kitchen table and looked at Robbie then Carl. “So how many people did you have over last night when I specifically told you no party?”

 

Robbie’s eyes confirmed her suspicion. “Uhh,” Robbie began. Carl cleared his throat.

 

Debbie cut him off. “You’re both going to say on the count of three.” Her children winced. “Ready?” Debbie held up a hand with her thumb out. “One, two, thr–”

 

Carl: “10”

 

Robbie: “50”

 

Carl kicked Robbie under the table causing him to yelp. Debbie saw and twisted Carl’s ear causing him to yelp. John was nearly done putting the groceries away and was now air guitaring and whistling the solo of Detroit Rock City.

 

“Say sorry to your brother.” Debbie said, still twisting Carl’s ear.

 

Carl, redfaced and on the verge of tears apologized. After he was let go, he looked at his brother, one ear the color of eggplant. “Why’d you tell her?”

 

Robbie looked like a retriever who’d been caught muzzle-deep in the garbage can. “She’s gonna find out eventually.”

 

John closed the fridge and took a bow. The fridge internally churned ice cubes in response.  Debbie smiled, took out a glass from the cabinet, and filled her cup at the sink. When she looked up out the window at the blackened wasteland that was her yard she shrieked, prompting Carl and Robbie to try their luck at escaping. Debbie’s mom-reflexes kicked in and she grabbed Carl by the back of his neck and shouted Robbie down.

 

“What the fuck, Carl. Robbie, sit back down.” She felt like slapping Carl to get an answer out of him. And then she looked at Robbie, who was now shaking. “What happened last night?”

 

John looked out the window to see what all the fuss was about. “Jesus.” He said and pulled up a chair at the table. He wanted to laugh, but tried to put on his best solemn face for his wife’s sake.

 

In his mother’s iron grip,  Carl silently wished that Robbie would suddenly turn deaf, dumb, and mute.

 

“Uh, well.” Robbie said, beginning to cry. “Carl said we should throw a party last night and then we did and then Alex, Sean, and Carl said they should play a show in the back and then people showed up and Carl told me to get his roman candles and that I would be his roadie.”

 

Debbie’s grip tightened on Carl’s neck shriveling him into what John thought a person trying to imitate a mole rat would look like.

 

“So then Carl told me to light off the candles and point them up and I accidentally hit the tree and it caught on fire and I tried to put it out with the water but it only made it worse and then the cops showed up.” Robbie, beat red and out of breath, finally inhaled.

 

Debbie looked at Robbie and told him to go upstairs. He ran. She looked down at Carl and pushed his head away. “I’m so mad I don’t even want to look at you right now.” Debbie said.

 

Carl made no effort to move. John bit his lip trying not to smile.

 

“You’re grounded for the rest of the school year.” Debbie said.

 

Carl whipped his head around. “The rest of–”

 

“AH! A year,” Debbie shouted back. “That’s just the start. You could’ve burned the house down. Or worse.”

 

“But ma–,”

 

“AH! Why are you still talking?” Debbie stopped and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “I–I can’t even.” Debbie said, walking out of the kitchen.

 

John sat there staring at his oldest, listening for his wife’s footsteps. Up the stairs and into the bedroom. Bang. Ooh, and a door slam, he thought.

 

John finally laughed. Carl looked up confused. “What?” Carl asked.

 

“Sounds like a pretty kick ass show, C. You really play for 50 people?”

 

“Yeah,” Carl said, still pouting. “Maybe more.”

 

“And you had pyrotechnics?” John said. Carl nodded. “Albeit they weren’t the best executed, but that’s pretty fucking cool.” He patted his son on the back. “Say,” John said, standing. “You didn’t let the cops into the house did you?”

 

Carl shrugged. “They came in on the first floor to kick people out. I locked the basement.”

 

John smiled, relieved. “Good boy.” He started for the basement and stopped. “Carl just keep out of trouble this week and do what you’re told. I’ll work on your mother on your grounding. Okay?”

 

Carl smiled and took another spoonful of cornflakes.

 

Prompt: And then the cops showed up.

Recipe

Strawberry Kiwi Chia Cheesecake.

Wow the title’s a mouthful, huh? Well so is this bomb cheesecake, that I know you’ll enjoy.

Out of the ordinary equipment you’ll need for this one.

  • Juicer.
  • Blender.
  • Springform pan

 

Crust:

 

  • 9 Graham Crackers
  • 4 TBSP of melted butter
  • ¼ cup of sugar

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your graham crackers in a ziploc bag and massage them into a fine consistency.
  3. Add the pulverised crumbs to a mixing bowl with the quarter cup of sugar and mix. Then add your melted butter and whisk until you achieve a crumbly texture. It should ball up when whisked.
  4. Spread uniformly in the springform pan and press into a firm crust.

 

Filling:

  • 2 8oz containers of cream cheese or tofutti.
  • 1 cup of strawberry juice (this is where the juicer comes in handy)
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 5 TBSP of Chia seeds
  • 2-3 drops of red food dye (for color)

 

  1. In a mixing bowl, food processor, or blender, mix the cream cheese, strawberry juice, and eggs on low until soft.
  2. If in a blender or food processor, incorporate the rest of the ingredients on low. The dye is optional.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake should be slightly jiggly when pulled from the oven.
  4. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours.

 

Topping:

  • 4-5 Kiwis
  • Lime zest (optional)
Strawberry Kiwi 1
Mine looked like this. Pretty, eh? Apologies for the image quality. Who woulda thought that fluorescent kitchen lights aren’t great for taking pictures.  
  1. Cut the ends and sides from the Kiwis and line them around the top.
  2. Add lime zest for added style points.

 

Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Time travel

Chalkboards of intricate equations and endless variables lined the walls of Professor Richard’s library. I took a step, no three, back to marvel at our tireless work when the first cork popped off to my right. A gentle hand rested on my shoulder.

 

“Well, what do you think, Doctor Eballi?” Professor Sheila Tori said. I turned, slightly distracted by the now-wafting scent of cigars.

 

“It should theoretically.” I said it again to hear myself. “The ability to traverse time is theoretically possible.”  

 

“But,” She said, pulling at my next thought. “You sound like you have reservations.”

 

I scanned the room, drinking in the celebration, wondering whether or not to hold my tongue. “Well, I…” I said trailing off. My thoughts zipped across the boards.

 

Doctor Tori crossed her arms and stepped into my line of sight. “Well what Eballi?”

 

I sighed. “It’s just that I don’t think we’ve considered all the ramifications of folding back spacetime. I’m worried that too many fold could cause a multidimensional singularity event, and if that were to happen–” I flicked my fingers in the air “Poof.”

 

She turned back to the board and zeroed in on lower right quadrant of the fifth board, slowly walking towards it. After a moment she turned and made for me.

 

“I think you may be right. I can’t fully prove it. Not now. But I have a hunch.” She said. An urgent hush had fallen over her voice. “Can you come with me to the bathroom?” A bit out of sorts, I nodded and followed.

 

Her pace quickened. Up the stairs and to the left. “What are you thinking,” I managed to whisper, our heels clicking against the polished marble floors.

 

“It’s…just wait. I don’t want anyone to overhear.” A hard right and we were in the bathroom. I reached for Doctor Tori’s shoulder, she turned, and her box cutter made it’s way up my stomach, slicing a deep line from my belly button to my right nipple. She started to cry as blood started pooled at our feet.

 

“Why?” I said clutching my stomach.

 

“I’m sorry Eballi.” She said wiping away tears. “You couldn’t know.”

 

I fell to my knees. A line of fire grew on my chest sapping the warmth from my body. She folded up the still-bloody knife and pocketed it.

“You won’t die for a while. Sorry. I thought that if time travel worked and was stable that I would be in this bathroom waiting to stop me from hurting you. I think you’re right about the folding. Either way, I wasn’t here. So now we all must go.”

 

I got a hold of her pant leg, smearing a bloody palm down her calf. “What are you going to do?” I asked between gasps.

 

She kicked my hand away. “I’m going to make sure that our work never sees the light of day.”

 

She left me there. The pain came in waves after that. Then there was smoke– not from a cigar. It passed through the gap in the door to the bathroom. Then screaming, and heat. I started to sweat even though I felt cold.   

 

Prompt: Time travel has been discovered. The catch? It destroys the universe when used. [WP]

Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Dead men gardening.

There’s a dead man across the street. He’s hunched over his garden bed pulling weeds; not really dead it would seem. His flesh is as pink as mine.

 

“Honey, what are you doing?” Mother asks from the couch. The Ellen Degeneres show blares in the background.

 

“Uh, watching Mr. Henderson tend his garden.” I say staring through the crack in the blinds at the back of the dead man’s sunhat.

 

She snorts loudly. “Honey, he’s been gone since 2011. You’re just seeing things.”

 

“Well then who do you think that is?” I ask pulling back the blinds.

 

She cranes her neck to see without getting up. Her eyes turn to saucers. “Uhh,” she’s shakey. “I don’t know but Mr. Henderson is long gone.”

 

“I’m curious,” I say, shoving my bare feet into my trainers. Outside the sun is warm on my skin and the street is quiet except for the ringing windchimes and the soft ruffling of spade on dirt.

 

“Uhh, excuse me.” I call out.

 

The dead man doesn’t hear me. Typical… I think.

 

I repeat myself a little louder as I reach the fringe of his yard. Mrs. Henderson is in the window with warmth in her eyes and a mug cradled in her hands. So she sees the dead man too, I think.

 

He turns around, pulling rapidly on the collar of his shirt. Dead men sweat–huh. He’s wearing headphones and–. That’s not Mr. Henderson, I realize as more questions sprout in my head. The man is younger, younger than me even. His face is full and smiling, not riddled with the hardship of Mr. Henderson’s chemotherapy. He pops an earbud out.

 

“Hi,” he says cheerily. He wipes his brow and looks me up and down. “Can I, uh, help you?”

 

My face flushes. “Oh, I’m, I’m so sorry.” I begin to chuckle. “I came out here because I thought you were–”

 

“Mr. Henderson?” He finishes my sentence, crossing the length of the lawn. His smile grows. “Nope. I’m just here to help Mrs. Henderson with the garden.” He pulls off a glove and stretches out a hand. “I’m Ben.”

 

I take it. “Hi Ben, I’m Marissa. Nice to meet you.”

 

He nods. “Likewise.”

 

“So Ben,” I look past him to the garden. “Why are you–”

 

“Dressed like Mr. Henderson?” He chuckles briefly and then his smile evaporates. Creases crawl across his brow. “Well,” he starts. “I’ve been helping Mrs. Henderson for a few years now– she’s an old family friend. Recently though, Mrs. Henderson has been mistaking me for her husband.” His face flushes and he looks to the grass. “I know it’s a bit odd, but, I just went with it. I put on his gardening clothes while I work and, well, it makes her happy. And, she’s pushing 90, and.”

 

I smile and cut him off. “It’s okay, you don’t have to justify yourself to me. I don’t think it’s weird.”

 

The tension leaves his brow.

 

“In fact,” I continue. “I think it’s kind of sweet.”

 

The front door opens. Ben and I turn to see Mrs. Henderson pushing open the screen door. She calls out to me. “Oh Marissa, hello.”

 

Ben and I turn. I wave. “Hello, Mrs. Henderson how are you?”

 

“Oh just fine. Has Hank offered you any Lemonade? There’s a jug of it in the refrigerator.”

 

“Oh no, it’s fine Mrs. Henderson. Thank you though. I just came to say hello and to admire your garden.” I say, looking to her then to Ben.

 

She lights up. “Oh yes, everything is coming in wonderfully isn’t it. Hank’s out here all the time, and you can tell.”

 

“Well,” I say, “I’ll let him get back to work. And you take care Mrs. Henderson.” I turn to Ben. “See you around Mr. Henderson.” I say backing away into the street. They both wave, and I laugh to myself: dead men gardening.  

 

Prompt: Your neighbor’s husband has been dead for five years. But you could have sworn you saw him watering the flowers in his front yard.

Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Simulation

“Sir,” the weak-jawed lab assistant, Donnelly, called shakily. “I think you should see this.”

 

I looked at my watch. Quarter to lunch. I had a salad in the fridge, but ever since I saw tapas on my feed, I’d had a craving. “What is it, Donnelly?”

 

He turned back to his monitor and adjusted his glasses. “Well, I don’t know sir. Not entirely. I’ve been watching the simulation this morning and I think something is, uh, off.

 

I made my way over to his station, my shoes clicking on the polished white floors. “What do you mean something is off? There’s an entire other world in their. Care to be more specific?” I asked.

 

“No, nothing like that sir. The simulations haven’t stopped creating or socializing. They’ve just stopped working. Everything else is normal” He said, shrugging.

 

I perked up and leaned over his shoulder to study his monitor. Everything seemed normal, yet productivity levels were reporting in near zero. I cocked my head back. “This is new,” I muttered.

 

“What’s that sir?”

 

I placed my hand on his shoulder. “Oh, nothing. Can I sit here just for a second Donnelly?” I asked, smiling.  

 

He moved without another thought. I sat down and felt Donnelly’s gawking eyes upon me. “You know what, take an early lunch. I want to take a look at this.”

 

He uttered his thanks and shrank away. For the next hour or so I scanned the code–my proprietary code, and failed to find an error. Annoyed, I tweaked the weather to provoke responses: nothing. Donnelly had returned by now joined by a few colleagues. They all studied their screens, watching my manipulations, hard faced.

 

I turned and faced the room, chuckling. “Any suggestions?”

 

No response. I made my way to the center of the room. “I know you’ve been watching my work. Now this simulation is incredibly important. It cannot fail. So, please, if anyone has any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.”

 

Donnelly cleared his throat behind me. “Er, sir?”

 

I turned, flashing my pearly white teeth to Donnelly. “Yes?” I spat, almost harshly.

 

“Have you considered a hard reset?”

 

I stopped. I hadn’t up until then. I could do it; I didn’t want to Donnelly suggested it and we’d be set back for sure. But after fast forwarding, we might just lose one week, two at the most. I waited in vain for anyone else to speak up and then clasped my hands together. “Let’s try it.”

 

I navigated to the reset menu and initiated.

 

Are you sure?

 

Yes. I clicked.

 

Are you REALLY sure?

 

Chrissakes, I thought. Yes.

 

A void opened in the middle of the polished floor and endless streams of zeros and ones spewed into the room. They soon suffocated the room. I could barely hear the screams over the digital whirlwind and my futile rage.

 

Blackness as I cursed that weak-jaw’s name.

 

Prompt: It’s a rapidly growing theory on Earth that we live in a simulation. The humans in the real world decide it’s time to do something about it.

 

 

Fiction · Recipe

Chocolate Cheesecake.

Crust:

  • 9 Graham Crackers
  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 TBSP of cocoa powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your graham crackers in a ziploc bag and massage them into dust. 
  3. Add the pulverised crumbs to a mixing bowl with the sugar and cocoa. Mix thoroughly.  
  4. Add melted butter and mix until you achieve a crumbly texture. It should ball up when whisked.
  5. Spread uniformly in the springform pan, pressing down on the bottom and pinching up on the sides ½ to a full inch.

Filling:

  • 2 8oz containers of cream cheese or tofutti
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate syrup. 
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of 2% milk
  • 1 TBSP of flour.
  • 1 TBSP of espresso powder (optional)
  1. In a mixing bowl, food processor, or blender, mix the cream cheese, milk, syrup, and extract on low. Then a second time adding in the eggs.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and incorporate fully on low settings.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 45-50 minutes. The cake should be slightly jiggly when pulled from the oven.
  4. Allow the cheesecake to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate for 4 hours.
Fiction · Prompt · unedited

Hell’s a lonely place

Underwater, a hollow feeling, and blackness all fade away with thunderous claps. I come to and spit up water on myself. The room is dim, but not entirely dark. The ground in carpeted, warm, and smells of sandalwood.

 

The claps continue, each throwing my conscience forward past the water, past the darkness.

 

“Bravo,” A smokey voice calls from somewhere. “Bravo indeed. Charles, right?” I’ve never heard this voice before. Powerful, yet I’m lost within. I can trust this person. They already know who I am. I cough more and sit up feeling my cold face and wet hair.

 

The room is elegant. A rich dining table dominates the room. To the right a fireplace, above a chandelier. There are two chairs, one’s occupied. Windows face me on the opposite wall. Outside is… fire. Unrelenting flames lick the windows threatening to break in.

 

“Please, Charles. Come sit beside the fire, and warm your weary bones.” The man in the chairs says, gesturing to the other open chair. “I’ve been waiting for quite some time for a bit of company.”

 

I cock my head, sure this is a dream. Some last stand of the frontal lobe fighting off the finality of death. I approach, noting how real the carpet feel on the soles of my feet. Well done brain, I think, you’ve really outdone yourself this time.

 

I make out more of my host as I get closer. Middle-aged, salt and pepper sideburns, a handsome face. There’s something in his eyes though– they’re off. He smiles as I take my seat.

 

“I do believe a congratulations is in order, Charles.” He says, patting his smoking jacket down.

 

“Who are you?” I say, accepting the cigar he’s pulled from his jacket.

 

He turned and looked towards the window. “Isn’t it obvious?” He laughs “They don’t make fire like that, where you’re from. You’re dead. And I’m Satan. The Devil. The fallen one.” He paused, and reaches for my arm. “Don’t be alarmed though. I’m not evil nor am I malicious in any sense of the word. That’s all just poppycock that your black-robed ‘men-of-god’ spread.”

 

His hand on my arm feels warm. Almost electric. He clips my cigar and lights it effortlessly. I puff watching the glow down the ridge of my nose. The scene is just so that I take him at his word. I relax and drink in the heat from the fireplace behind me.   

 

“So if you’re Satan, I’m dead,” I say. Satan nods along. “Then this is hell. I’m in hell?”

 

“That’s a bingo.” He says. A devilish smile spreads across his face. “This is hell. It’s warm. It’s fun. And it’s all mine. No. Scratch that. It’s all ours.”

 

“What do you mean our’s?” I say, squinting.

 

He throws his head back and cackles. “Well Charles. You’re the first person that’s ever come to hell. It’s just you and I, pal.”

 

Faces of the immoral swim through my mind. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pot. Each one smiles flying past my mind’s eye. “But what about–”

 

Satan cuts me off. “No, I can see what you’re thinking. Perks of being me, I s’pose. And none of those assholes ever got in here. There all up,” His eyes roll up, “there.”

 

“Heaven?”

 

“Well yeah.” Satan says. “Another common misconception about my relationship with God. They say that if you’re good you get to go see him in his endless kingdom. Funny enough, that’s a mistranslation.” Satan smirked. “It really says that to be good you must see his endless kingdom. So Hitler and all those fuckers are repenting their sins and living out their eternities becoming good.”

 

I nod and puff. The shadows cast by the flames in the window plays rhythmically off the walls. “What then. What happens when they’re good?”

 

He pauses. “Well,” Satan says, stroking his chin.”When they’re good they’re recycled and thrown back into the great wide world. A rebirth if you will. You, on the other hand.” He says, regaining his grin. “Are the first to ever show up on my doorstep. What does that mean?” He pauses and claps. “It means that you get to do whatever you want forever. This is your playground. But first, I implore you to join me for dinner.”

 

I accept. Satan claps twice more and a suited man zips in from around the corner, ice waters in hand. He looks surprisingly like Al Capone.

 

I turn to Satan. “I thought–”

 

He cuts me off. “Work release program.” There’s that devilish grin again.

 

 

Prompt: You die and go to Hell only to find out that you’re the only person that has ever entered. Satan is clapping.