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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by sandflea68 in portal Fiction

Fingered

You don’t know me but my name is Jimmy Fingers. Why am I known as ‘Fingers’ you ask? I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but my fingers are magic. I can open any safe in the world with my nimble, highly skilled fingers. I may not be smart at book learning but I mastered this skill from my Daddy who is serving fourteen more years.

In fact, I was on my way to meet Johnny Bananas at Moe’s the day it all happened! Why was he nicknamed ‘Bananas’ your inquiring mind might want to know? Well, he has the largest …. well, you don’t really want to know that, do you?

There I was, getting out of my car across the street from Moe’s in the pouring rain, when it happened. Lightning coursed through my body in a searing jolt, going through my shoulder and leaving through my left foot. When I regained consciousness, I was in a hospital bed with a team of neurologists discussing my prognosis. And the funny thing was, I understood every word of medical terminology they were spouting. In fact, I could probably run circles around them in smarts. But I didn’t let on about this amazing phenomenon, because it served my purpose to still be thought of as good old, plodding Jimmy Fingers.

Once I recovered, I felt like my brain was whirling in circles with all kinds of nefarious schemes, all struggling to get out. A rainbow of possibilities had opened up to me. I just had to learn how to channel this new found energy to perfect the skills I already had. Why not put it to good use? So I called up Bananas to arrange a meeting.

I had always wanted to crack the safe at Mason’s Jewelers but had previously thought I would be unable to get around their security systems. Well, Bananas had access to the schematics for the entire strip mall and now I had the brains to dismantle their surveillance. We cut the wire to the shop next door and went in through the ceiling panels. Quickly, I found their burglar alarm , taking it out of commission and smashing their mounted cameras. Rolling up my sleeves, I tackled their safe. I used my magic fingers to go through the usual routine – rotating the dial to the left until it hit the first groove, then into the next locked groove and then to the right. But it didn’t work! I couldn’t believe it! I rotated the dials backward and forward until my fingers were numb but it was no use! Just as I was realizing that the lightning strike had fried my fingers, I heard “Put your hands behind your backs and lay on the ground.” It looked like the entire police force of our ‘burb’ was surrounding us. Well, I don’t argue with guns and the next thing you know, Bananas and I were locked up in the same penitentiary where my Daddy was. It was like a family reunion. Even Uncle Whack Whack was there! (Guess how he got his name?)

Well, now I am known as the jailhouse lawyer, helping other cons with understanding the loopholes of the law, studying briefs and legal avenues. I am going to be here for a long time so I might as well put my intelligence to a good use.

“You’re the smartest person in the prison,” the inmates chorus.

“Yeah, well, I’m the smartest person in the whole world but little good that did me!”

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by sandflea68 in portal Fiction
Fingered
You don’t know me but my name is Jimmy Fingers. Why am I known as ‘Fingers’ you ask? I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but my fingers are magic. I can open any safe in the world with my nimble, highly skilled fingers. I may not be smart at book learning but I mastered this skill from my Daddy who is serving fourteen more years.
In fact, I was on my way to meet Johnny Bananas at Moe’s the day it all happened! Why was he nicknamed ‘Bananas’ your inquiring mind might want to know? Well, he has the largest …. well, you don’t really want to know that, do you?

There I was, getting out of my car across the street from Moe’s in the pouring rain, when it happened. Lightning coursed through my body in a searing jolt, going through my shoulder and leaving through my left foot. When I regained consciousness, I was in a hospital bed with a team of neurologists discussing my prognosis. And the funny thing was, I understood every word of medical terminology they were spouting. In fact, I could probably run circles around them in smarts. But I didn’t let on about this amazing phenomenon, because it served my purpose to still be thought of as good old, plodding Jimmy Fingers.

Once I recovered, I felt like my brain was whirling in circles with all kinds of nefarious schemes, all struggling to get out. A rainbow of possibilities had opened up to me. I just had to learn how to channel this new found energy to perfect the skills I already had. Why not put it to good use? So I called up Bananas to arrange a meeting.

I had always wanted to crack the safe at Mason’s Jewelers but had previously thought I would be unable to get around their security systems. Well, Bananas had access to the schematics for the entire strip mall and now I had the brains to dismantle their surveillance. We cut the wire to the shop next door and went in through the ceiling panels. Quickly, I found their burglar alarm , taking it out of commission and smashing their mounted cameras. Rolling up my sleeves, I tackled their safe. I used my magic fingers to go through the usual routine – rotating the dial to the left until it hit the first groove, then into the next locked groove and then to the right. But it didn’t work! I couldn’t believe it! I rotated the dials backward and forward until my fingers were numb but it was no use! Just as I was realizing that the lightning strike had fried my fingers, I heard “Put your hands behind your backs and lay on the ground.” It looked like the entire police force of our ‘burb’ was surrounding us. Well, I don’t argue with guns and the next thing you know, Bananas and I were locked up in the same penitentiary where my Daddy was. It was like a family reunion. Even Uncle Whack Whack was there! (Guess how he got his name?)

Well, now I am known as the jailhouse lawyer, helping other cons with understanding the loopholes of the law, studying briefs and legal avenues. I am going to be here for a long time so I might as well put my intelligence to a good use.

“You’re the smartest person in the prison,” the inmates chorus.

“Yeah, well, I’m the smartest person in the whole world but little good that did me!”
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Jumotki in portal Fiction

Here the World is Quiet

     The woman with tangled hair sways in front of the reference desk with unblinking eyes. I tuned out and stopped trying to talk to people hours ago, but her sporadic hand motions catch my eye. She huffs under her breath and wanders away. Her shirt is buttoned haphazardly, as if she forgot midway or gave up, exposing a swath of irritated skin and ancient brassiere.

     Sunlight filters through the glass windows. There is a hush in the library as patrons wander, slow and sluggish, pausing often to stare around the room or eye each other blankly. Circling around and around, they carve paths through aisles of bookcases and rows of dead computer monitors.

     An old man teeters to my desk. His mouth opens wide and snaps shut, once, twice. He gestures vaguely over my head and I turn around in my swivel chair but there is nothing. I point to his wife, who sits on the floor next to the copy machine. In her lap lies a dead possum with glassy eyes and a rivulet of blood running from jaws to her muddy skirt. Its long rat tail droops from the crook of her elbow and she strokes the fur slowly, her eyes two moons in a slack face. Yesterday, a lifetime ago, I gave them the daily newspaper and watched as they read and laughed softly in twin armchairs by the window. His eyes follow my finger, hovers on his wife, and passes over.

     People thump against the glass windows like moths. They wander in and out of the door in various states of undress. Do they remember who they are? Did they awake as empty husks, instinct propelling them to routines—drive to work, drop off kids, pick up groceries? They move with aimless purpose, without speaking, some sit down abruptly like infants. Outside, a car careens down the street and into a tree, folding into itself like a cardboard box. A man stumbles out, dazed, blood running down his face, and stands there with his neck craned back to look at the cloudless sky. What answers will you find up there, carless man? Everywhere there are abandoned cars: flipped over on the street or parked in incongruous spots, crooked and random, in the library parking lot. 

     A naked man with a pale, hairy belly walks up and down the fiction aisles, raking his nails along the spines. Before I could call out, he sweeps his hand across a shelf in a single furious motion. The books fall like dying birds, pages flapping and torn. A girl sitting near the magazine racks tears out pages by the handful. People watch and I look into the emptiness of their expressions, already unfamiliar and inhuman. All this knowledge, all this useless paper containing stories and memories and information, as irrelevant as firewood to a flintless man. I hear the sound of laughing and guttural weeping, echoing and faint as if from a great distance. Heads turn slowly at the sound of my keening, but no one approaches.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Jumotki in portal Fiction
Here the World is Quiet
     The woman with tangled hair sways in front of the reference desk with unblinking eyes. I tuned out and stopped trying to talk to people hours ago, but her sporadic hand motions catch my eye. She huffs under her breath and wanders away. Her shirt is buttoned haphazardly, as if she forgot midway or gave up, exposing a swath of irritated skin and ancient brassiere.
     Sunlight filters through the glass windows. There is a hush in the library as patrons wander, slow and sluggish, pausing often to stare around the room or eye each other blankly. Circling around and around, they carve paths through aisles of bookcases and rows of dead computer monitors.
     An old man teeters to my desk. His mouth opens wide and snaps shut, once, twice. He gestures vaguely over my head and I turn around in my swivel chair but there is nothing. I point to his wife, who sits on the floor next to the copy machine. In her lap lies a dead possum with glassy eyes and a rivulet of blood running from jaws to her muddy skirt. Its long rat tail droops from the crook of her elbow and she strokes the fur slowly, her eyes two moons in a slack face. Yesterday, a lifetime ago, I gave them the daily newspaper and watched as they read and laughed softly in twin armchairs by the window. His eyes follow my finger, hovers on his wife, and passes over.
     People thump against the glass windows like moths. They wander in and out of the door in various states of undress. Do they remember who they are? Did they awake as empty husks, instinct propelling them to routines—drive to work, drop off kids, pick up groceries? They move with aimless purpose, without speaking, some sit down abruptly like infants. Outside, a car careens down the street and into a tree, folding into itself like a cardboard box. A man stumbles out, dazed, blood running down his face, and stands there with his neck craned back to look at the cloudless sky. What answers will you find up there, carless man? Everywhere there are abandoned cars: flipped over on the street or parked in incongruous spots, crooked and random, in the library parking lot. 
     A naked man with a pale, hairy belly walks up and down the fiction aisles, raking his nails along the spines. Before I could call out, he sweeps his hand across a shelf in a single furious motion. The books fall like dying birds, pages flapping and torn. A girl sitting near the magazine racks tears out pages by the handful. People watch and I look into the emptiness of their expressions, already unfamiliar and inhuman. All this knowledge, all this useless paper containing stories and memories and information, as irrelevant as firewood to a flintless man. I hear the sound of laughing and guttural weeping, echoing and faint as if from a great distance. Heads turn slowly at the sound of my keening, but no one approaches.
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Juice
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by StuartJWarren in portal Fiction

The Bottle Falls

There's a world out there, above the sediment where slithering creatures lurk and hide from overbearing masters, which I perceive through the lens of one operating beyond normal operative efficiency.

I get up, throwing the covers over my body; fine fibers worn at the tips, frayed by years of frugality. My wife rolls over in bed, empathy under duress of sleep. We pray for better times, our morning ritual. Oddly, the rug feels softer underneath my feet, ten thousand hairs bearing me up on aching backs. Standing in the duplex living room, art on the wall, the works elude me, purchased to make use of bare space, hiding smudged drywall, where every nick and blemish is a dollar against my security deposit. My head hurts—raped by sensory feedback. A large bookshelf looms seven feet tall, fixed to the ground, an obelisk filled with trinkets: an altar to my life populated with miniatures and comic books. The colors are so vibrant now, Kirby crackle exploding across spines, infiltrating my perception. A hammer befitting of a god, striking down cosmic terrors. A mighty man, crimson avenger, beset by evil, thwarting a dark god at war with the Highfather. All this rushes in. I am a bank in panic, the world drawing on my soul. This feeling that I linger on. It's terror, isn't it? A sudden existential awareness, that I have never felt before. It's 4:35AM. Time for work. But my hands are numb, and a choking breath is forced down my throat.

The production facility towers over the valley, from the sleeping motorway, yellow halogen lights guiding me into its warm bosom along the empty access roads. Arching windows, cathedral portals dressed in aluminum scaffolding, to let in God’s light to shine on the worker, they hold back the hellish cacophony of the City of Dis. How magnificent they are now. So brilliant and powerful. Gates of Heaven, warding off hell below. I never conceived of it before, a world behind the world. My mind is open and accepting, optimistic, enthralled with opportunity. Inside the machina howls and screams. 10,000 bottles of craft beer string along belts of plastic, covered in production puss, beer snot, yeasty butter. The level of detail, granularity of process, I am awakened to it. Something is different. I see the world not through better eyes. How did this come to be, and why? Still, my mind is hazy, but I can hear in the clamor my supervisor. He runs up to me, shouting above the glass symphony.

“How you livin’?” he says.

I make a neutral nod.

“Overnight didn’t do shit! We got 12 pack after this, then changeover to twenty-two ounce. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, man! They don’t pull their weight… Hey, can you change over the slitter-sealer so Alfonse can do the filler today?”

I sway, half aware that I’ve ascended a six inch boundary wall. I can barely think. Too much detail.

“Did you hear me man? You okay?”

“Yeah… I’m fine. Sorry. I’m still waking up.” He looks concerned, a man without control, struggling to make sense of the world.

“Fuck, man. Get your head in the game, man. We are counting on you.”

“Okay, yeah. I gotcha’.”

The machine is a Pearson Slitter-Sealter. It’s worn to nothing, boasting neglect of the highest order. I told them without confidence, warned them. Now I see it for what it is: a sad creature crying out and groaning for love and affection. My hands deftly reach for some lubricant, and I begin to refurbish the machine. My hands have known the rollers, the blade, the flap rails, but never with such intimacy. My heart weeps for the mechanical spirit that dwells within. Blistered paint, scored edges, powdered steel of striped bolts. In ten minutes I apply the repairs. (Had to commandeer Jake’s work bench and tools.) Another twenty, I calibrate and align the boxes. Out of the corner of my eyes the manager arrives in a stupor. He too is tired, a man blockaded by job politics and departmental incongruence.

“Looks clean,” he says. “What have you done to it.”

I explain in words I’ve never leveraged, with a beholden confidence that I’ve never known.

“Ok, we’ll see how it runs… Have you filled out your time sheet yet? Also make sure to log the maintenance. We need to track all changes.”

I’ll take care of those later. Still I reply, “Sure, yeah. I’ll do that after we start sending boxes through.”

“You don’t look so good,” my manager says. He’s not the kind to be concerned, but I can see it in his weathered eyes. He knows that I’m not okay. “If you need to take a sick day, you can.”

“Slitter-sealer is ready. Don’t worry, I… I’m fine. Just tired.”

My coworkers have pounded their energy drinks, filled with chemicals that I can name, stimulants I can taste with my mind. So beautiful and clear. Clean and precise. They are struggling with their machines, so I step in. A helping hand to take care of the auxiliary parts. But I am busy adjusting the PSI of the casepacker elevator. It was off by 13PSI. Alfonse is running beer from bright tank 13 but forgets to set up the T valve for sanitation. Bacteria PPM is negligent, but sanitation is procedure. As I walk to the tanks I can hear two pumps cavitating. The whine of the centrifuge shows indication of a mechanical failure also. I sent two emails from my phone to the production heads. When all is said and done we start the run and the pipes buckle under the weight of fifty-five short tons.

Chaos. Disorder. Defamation. A typical run, in full swing, watching the bottles fall. My heart is sinking like a ship as I watch the machine expertly rend and destroy boxes. Perfection attenuates with experience and reality, and despite my best efforts, the boxes are not uniform. Fighting them is like fighting back a tide of salt water. Hopeless as a child preserving a sandcastle at high tide. So the day is normal as it always has been, an exercise in futility. My co-workers, ruined husks of men, struggle through the slog. My heart weeps for them. During the run, after the case packer PLC board shorts, we haul boxes from the final conveyor to a pallet. Hand stacking, grueling effort. I am able to work through, diplomatically, my co-worker’s heroin addiction. I counsel him above the fury of the machines. He understands, even if the others don’t. They fear me now, wondering what has happened to my mind.

“When did you get all philosophical and shit?” Alfonse interrogates me. “You stay th’ fuck away from me.”

“I had no intension of offending you,” I reply. But Alfonse walks away. He is crying and doesn’t know why.

At 1030AM the Production Efficiency Council starts: a patchwork collective of department heads acquiescing the petulant needs of their workers. I had originally involved myself, if only to haphazardly complain. But my mind is focused like a dagger as I enter the sterile room. Bob Tito, the COO sits in, working halfheartedly next to his underpaid executive assistant, typing on his tablet PC without a keyboard, defying conventions to appear smarter than he actually is. He is detached from the proceedings as usual.

“How is the bottling line this week?” He asks us. Though, to be fair, his voice is more accusatory than inquiring.

I decide to speak up. I never do. Yet something about the morning, about my mind, so clear and brimming, I am compelled to unleash a new mindset full of facts without confirmation bias.

“It’s not good,” I murmur shaking my head.

“What do you mean?” Bob replied.

“We need an effective schedule for preventative maintenance and oversight on how these machines operate. Every time we do 12 pack, my guys down there struggle to get the job done.”

“Well,” Bob stops me short. “We’ve been over this. There are some new procedures that should be coming down the line to help get our efficiency up.”

“You said that 3 months ago,” I counter.

“Well, these things take time,” he replies. “We are still working through the transition down at the production hall.”

The company line of diffusion of responsibility. Typical neglect. I remember my nervous breakdown. The two weeks of medical leave as I adjusted to anxiety medication. Meetings before that arguing over wage increases, while companies half our size pillaged my team for labor at thirty percent higher wages. It all came to a head and something breaks in my mind. A restraint that I have held back for my whole life.

“I don’t think you understand Bob,” I said raising my voice.

Bob stirs, sits up, wondering where my energy has come from. His assistant flashes a look of concern, of intrigue. A lecture, long needed.

“I don’t think that this company understands what my team deals with, Bob.” I spout defensively. “I just fixed the rollers on the slitter-sealer. They were stripped down to nothing. You couldn’t get your hand trapped in that machine if it were caught in it because there’s nothing left on the teeth that move the belt. The PSI gauges are all broken on the case packer. Cavitation in pumps 14 and 18. Operational efficiency down 15 percent due to dosing product locations and pipe infrastructure. Who planned this shit show? Where is our preventative maintenance? We rely on a team of mechanics to take care of this, but we only act on break-fix events. Do you expect us to fix this? Most of my team comes through the door without any training, with no idea what they were doing. Will they know how to fix a machine with no mechanical backgrounds?”

Bob sputters a reply, filled with anger, but none of his words take shape. His face is red and indignant, but fear hides behind his eyes as I leverage my encyclopedic knowledge.

“You see,” I continued. “Every meeting I go to we always hear about how great we are doing. We always hear about how great the company is producing. But we are the ones doing it and don’t even get a fucking watch! We get no training, poor pay, poor hours… I worked nine hours a day, six days a week for four months. I have to take medication now to get through those doors every morning. Sure we get free beer. It must be a convenient opiate to keep us complacent, alcoholics without any motivation or ambition?”

“That’s enough!” Bob shouts. “You can’t talk to me like that.”

“I’m not finished,” I interrupt. “No, you see, what this is all really about now is money. When the company spends thirty million dollars on a new packaging hall in Virginia but doesn’t pay for 5 days of on the job training for new hires to have the necessary tools to do their jobs it kind of makes me wonder where your priorities lie, how you value us. I don’t need to remind you that during the industrial expansion of the 1920s Henry Ford paid his works 50% more than his competitors. His employees were loyal to him and output more than ever before. But you wouldn’t know that because half the people that run this fucking company barely have a High School degree!”

I start to heave, on the verge of tears. My voice breaks. “These people that I work with, they are my friends. And every day I watch them suffer. They are drug addicts. They are addicted to gambling. They are struggling to deal with their broken families. And you want to tell me that it’s all taken care of? That you’ve done your best? What are you paid to do exactly, other than give us pompous speeches about achieving goals that we have no part in setting?”

I decide to stand up. And they all watch me, with fear in their eyes.

“This morning everything became so clear. My mind could comprehend this asinine delusion. This company operates so ass backwards that you couldn’t tell it to… you… you could—”

Washed out, I feel my body collapse and hit the ground hard on my side. My trembling hand reaches up and feels my face. My nose, its bleeding. My nose is bleeding! I didn’t feel good. It was all wrong. The wonder I had felt before, the freedom of an open mind disappeared, displaced with anxiety and uncertainty. And as the life flowed out of me, so did its magnificence.

The fog is thick with confusion. I see shades move around me. Shouting. They are calling 911. That’s good. The brewery was built next to a hospital. I close my eyes to rest.

They made a movie about someone that got special abilities at a cost. My body still and fading away, I imagined the cameras, the director halting the scene, the grip adjusting the lighting on my face with a diffuser, the executive assistant to the director walking through the frame to drop off a coffee, the frenetic white noise of the extras milling about to adjust their blocking, fight for camera time, all this coming to a close against blackness. Credits close, vendor logos roll, the people leave the theater disappointed in a sad ending: the ending of my life.

All I can hear is my wife, her voice shouting against the tide of grey.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by StuartJWarren in portal Fiction
The Bottle Falls
There's a world out there, above the sediment where slithering creatures lurk and hide from overbearing masters, which I perceive through the lens of one operating beyond normal operative efficiency.

I get up, throwing the covers over my body; fine fibers worn at the tips, frayed by years of frugality. My wife rolls over in bed, empathy under duress of sleep. We pray for better times, our morning ritual. Oddly, the rug feels softer underneath my feet, ten thousand hairs bearing me up on aching backs. Standing in the duplex living room, art on the wall, the works elude me, purchased to make use of bare space, hiding smudged drywall, where every nick and blemish is a dollar against my security deposit. My head hurts—raped by sensory feedback. A large bookshelf looms seven feet tall, fixed to the ground, an obelisk filled with trinkets: an altar to my life populated with miniatures and comic books. The colors are so vibrant now, Kirby crackle exploding across spines, infiltrating my perception. A hammer befitting of a god, striking down cosmic terrors. A mighty man, crimson avenger, beset by evil, thwarting a dark god at war with the Highfather. All this rushes in. I am a bank in panic, the world drawing on my soul. This feeling that I linger on. It's terror, isn't it? A sudden existential awareness, that I have never felt before. It's 4:35AM. Time for work. But my hands are numb, and a choking breath is forced down my throat.

The production facility towers over the valley, from the sleeping motorway, yellow halogen lights guiding me into its warm bosom along the empty access roads. Arching windows, cathedral portals dressed in aluminum scaffolding, to let in God’s light to shine on the worker, they hold back the hellish cacophony of the City of Dis. How magnificent they are now. So brilliant and powerful. Gates of Heaven, warding off hell below. I never conceived of it before, a world behind the world. My mind is open and accepting, optimistic, enthralled with opportunity. Inside the machina howls and screams. 10,000 bottles of craft beer string along belts of plastic, covered in production puss, beer snot, yeasty butter. The level of detail, granularity of process, I am awakened to it. Something is different. I see the world not through better eyes. How did this come to be, and why? Still, my mind is hazy, but I can hear in the clamor my supervisor. He runs up to me, shouting above the glass symphony.

“How you livin’?” he says.
I make a neutral nod.
“Overnight didn’t do shit! We got 12 pack after this, then changeover to twenty-two ounce. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, man! They don’t pull their weight… Hey, can you change over the slitter-sealer so Alfonse can do the filler today?”
I sway, half aware that I’ve ascended a six inch boundary wall. I can barely think. Too much detail.
“Did you hear me man? You okay?”
“Yeah… I’m fine. Sorry. I’m still waking up.” He looks concerned, a man without control, struggling to make sense of the world.
“Fuck, man. Get your head in the game, man. We are counting on you.”
“Okay, yeah. I gotcha’.”

The machine is a Pearson Slitter-Sealter. It’s worn to nothing, boasting neglect of the highest order. I told them without confidence, warned them. Now I see it for what it is: a sad creature crying out and groaning for love and affection. My hands deftly reach for some lubricant, and I begin to refurbish the machine. My hands have known the rollers, the blade, the flap rails, but never with such intimacy. My heart weeps for the mechanical spirit that dwells within. Blistered paint, scored edges, powdered steel of striped bolts. In ten minutes I apply the repairs. (Had to commandeer Jake’s work bench and tools.) Another twenty, I calibrate and align the boxes. Out of the corner of my eyes the manager arrives in a stupor. He too is tired, a man blockaded by job politics and departmental incongruence.

“Looks clean,” he says. “What have you done to it.”
I explain in words I’ve never leveraged, with a beholden confidence that I’ve never known.
“Ok, we’ll see how it runs… Have you filled out your time sheet yet? Also make sure to log the maintenance. We need to track all changes.”
I’ll take care of those later. Still I reply, “Sure, yeah. I’ll do that after we start sending boxes through.”
“You don’t look so good,” my manager says. He’s not the kind to be concerned, but I can see it in his weathered eyes. He knows that I’m not okay. “If you need to take a sick day, you can.”
“Slitter-sealer is ready. Don’t worry, I… I’m fine. Just tired.”

My coworkers have pounded their energy drinks, filled with chemicals that I can name, stimulants I can taste with my mind. So beautiful and clear. Clean and precise. They are struggling with their machines, so I step in. A helping hand to take care of the auxiliary parts. But I am busy adjusting the PSI of the casepacker elevator. It was off by 13PSI. Alfonse is running beer from bright tank 13 but forgets to set up the T valve for sanitation. Bacteria PPM is negligent, but sanitation is procedure. As I walk to the tanks I can hear two pumps cavitating. The whine of the centrifuge shows indication of a mechanical failure also. I sent two emails from my phone to the production heads. When all is said and done we start the run and the pipes buckle under the weight of fifty-five short tons.

Chaos. Disorder. Defamation. A typical run, in full swing, watching the bottles fall. My heart is sinking like a ship as I watch the machine expertly rend and destroy boxes. Perfection attenuates with experience and reality, and despite my best efforts, the boxes are not uniform. Fighting them is like fighting back a tide of salt water. Hopeless as a child preserving a sandcastle at high tide. So the day is normal as it always has been, an exercise in futility. My co-workers, ruined husks of men, struggle through the slog. My heart weeps for them. During the run, after the case packer PLC board shorts, we haul boxes from the final conveyor to a pallet. Hand stacking, grueling effort. I am able to work through, diplomatically, my co-worker’s heroin addiction. I counsel him above the fury of the machines. He understands, even if the others don’t. They fear me now, wondering what has happened to my mind.

“When did you get all philosophical and shit?” Alfonse interrogates me. “You stay th’ fuck away from me.”
“I had no intension of offending you,” I reply. But Alfonse walks away. He is crying and doesn’t know why.

At 1030AM the Production Efficiency Council starts: a patchwork collective of department heads acquiescing the petulant needs of their workers. I had originally involved myself, if only to haphazardly complain. But my mind is focused like a dagger as I enter the sterile room. Bob Tito, the COO sits in, working halfheartedly next to his underpaid executive assistant, typing on his tablet PC without a keyboard, defying conventions to appear smarter than he actually is. He is detached from the proceedings as usual.

“How is the bottling line this week?” He asks us. Though, to be fair, his voice is more accusatory than inquiring.

I decide to speak up. I never do. Yet something about the morning, about my mind, so clear and brimming, I am compelled to unleash a new mindset full of facts without confirmation bias.

“It’s not good,” I murmur shaking my head.
“What do you mean?” Bob replied.
“We need an effective schedule for preventative maintenance and oversight on how these machines operate. Every time we do 12 pack, my guys down there struggle to get the job done.”
“Well,” Bob stops me short. “We’ve been over this. There are some new procedures that should be coming down the line to help get our efficiency up.”
“You said that 3 months ago,” I counter.
“Well, these things take time,” he replies. “We are still working through the transition down at the production hall.”

The company line of diffusion of responsibility. Typical neglect. I remember my nervous breakdown. The two weeks of medical leave as I adjusted to anxiety medication. Meetings before that arguing over wage increases, while companies half our size pillaged my team for labor at thirty percent higher wages. It all came to a head and something breaks in my mind. A restraint that I have held back for my whole life.

“I don’t think you understand Bob,” I said raising my voice.
Bob stirs, sits up, wondering where my energy has come from. His assistant flashes a look of concern, of intrigue. A lecture, long needed.

“I don’t think that this company understands what my team deals with, Bob.” I spout defensively. “I just fixed the rollers on the slitter-sealer. They were stripped down to nothing. You couldn’t get your hand trapped in that machine if it were caught in it because there’s nothing left on the teeth that move the belt. The PSI gauges are all broken on the case packer. Cavitation in pumps 14 and 18. Operational efficiency down 15 percent due to dosing product locations and pipe infrastructure. Who planned this shit show? Where is our preventative maintenance? We rely on a team of mechanics to take care of this, but we only act on break-fix events. Do you expect us to fix this? Most of my team comes through the door without any training, with no idea what they were doing. Will they know how to fix a machine with no mechanical backgrounds?”

Bob sputters a reply, filled with anger, but none of his words take shape. His face is red and indignant, but fear hides behind his eyes as I leverage my encyclopedic knowledge.
“You see,” I continued. “Every meeting I go to we always hear about how great we are doing. We always hear about how great the company is producing. But we are the ones doing it and don’t even get a fucking watch! We get no training, poor pay, poor hours… I worked nine hours a day, six days a week for four months. I have to take medication now to get through those doors every morning. Sure we get free beer. It must be a convenient opiate to keep us complacent, alcoholics without any motivation or ambition?”

“That’s enough!” Bob shouts. “You can’t talk to me like that.”

“I’m not finished,” I interrupt. “No, you see, what this is all really about now is money. When the company spends thirty million dollars on a new packaging hall in Virginia but doesn’t pay for 5 days of on the job training for new hires to have the necessary tools to do their jobs it kind of makes me wonder where your priorities lie, how you value us. I don’t need to remind you that during the industrial expansion of the 1920s Henry Ford paid his works 50% more than his competitors. His employees were loyal to him and output more than ever before. But you wouldn’t know that because half the people that run this fucking company barely have a High School degree!”

I start to heave, on the verge of tears. My voice breaks. “These people that I work with, they are my friends. And every day I watch them suffer. They are drug addicts. They are addicted to gambling. They are struggling to deal with their broken families. And you want to tell me that it’s all taken care of? That you’ve done your best? What are you paid to do exactly, other than give us pompous speeches about achieving goals that we have no part in setting?”

I decide to stand up. And they all watch me, with fear in their eyes.
“This morning everything became so clear. My mind could comprehend this asinine delusion. This company operates so ass backwards that you couldn’t tell it to… you… you could—”

Washed out, I feel my body collapse and hit the ground hard on my side. My trembling hand reaches up and feels my face. My nose, its bleeding. My nose is bleeding! I didn’t feel good. It was all wrong. The wonder I had felt before, the freedom of an open mind disappeared, displaced with anxiety and uncertainty. And as the life flowed out of me, so did its magnificence.

The fog is thick with confusion. I see shades move around me. Shouting. They are calling 911. That’s good. The brewery was built next to a hospital. I close my eyes to rest.
They made a movie about someone that got special abilities at a cost. My body still and fading away, I imagined the cameras, the director halting the scene, the grip adjusting the lighting on my face with a diffuser, the executive assistant to the director walking through the frame to drop off a coffee, the frenetic white noise of the extras milling about to adjust their blocking, fight for camera time, all this coming to a close against blackness. Credits close, vendor logos roll, the people leave the theater disappointed in a sad ending: the ending of my life.

All I can hear is my wife, her voice shouting against the tide of grey.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Yankeedoodle30 in portal Fiction

“You can’t tickle yourself"

“Thank you for inviting me to speak to you folks today. The subject of my talk is a favorite of mine: Why can’t you tickle yourself. Now don’t go tickling yourself until I finish. If I see anyone tickling themselves, I’ll end my talk and I’ll collect my full speaking fee as stated in my speaking contract.”

A man in the front row took his shoes and socks off and could be heard saying, “Tickle, tickle, tickle.” He was touching the sensitive parts of his feet.

I pointed to him and said, “Sir, are you trying to tickle yourself?”

The man giggled, “Yes sir, I am.”

I asked, “And is it working?”

He began putting his socks and shoes back on and said, “Yes, you were wrong, you can tickle yourself.”

I said, “Thank you for coming today, I hope it was worth the exorbitant price you paid not to hear me talk and instead watch this man up front, tickling him self and laughing at all you folks.”

I walked off the stage. The man who had introduced me was going into shock. “I’m sure I’ll be fired for this unfinished speech. I‘ve heard it is one of your finest.”

I said, “Yes, it’s my favorite speech also. I worked for ten years to perfect it.”

Backstage I could hear a full scale riot going on in the auditorium.

The man asked, “I don’t understand, why did it take so long.”

I told him, “It took me a long time to find a man that could pretend he could tickle himself.”

The man said, “Pretend? Can’t anyone pretend he is tickling himself?”

I said, “Oh no, I also had to find someone who didn’t mind being beat up after every one of my tickle speeches. I give his 30% of what I make. It covers half of his medical bills."

“How often do you give this speech?”

“Every time he is released from the hospital and can walk on his own.”

“How many speeches do you give a year?”

“As many as I want. At $90,000 per speech, I try not to be too greedy. I limit myself to twenty five a month.”

“How is that possible if you have to wait for your friend to get healed?”

I laughed, “Oh that’s the genius I guess. I have twenty different speeches that I give all over the world. I have nineteen people who work for me, one for each speech.”

“Nineteen, what happened to the twentieth man?”

“Oh that guy was dumber than dumb. He died a horrible death in public. The title of my talk was: A close up shotgun blast to the head won’t kill you.”

The man shook his head. "You are a pretty smart man to have this scam going.”

I pointed at at him,” Oh, it’s not a scam. I ‘m just very smart. Maybe the smartest man in the world.”

He squinted at me, “Just how smart are you?”

“That’s the wrong question to ask my friend. You need to ask me, how dumb am I?”

“Okay, I’ll bite, Sir, how dumb are you?”

"I’m not dumber than anyone else in the world. It’s all relative, isn’t it.”

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Yankeedoodle30 in portal Fiction
“You can’t tickle yourself"


“Thank you for inviting me to speak to you folks today. The subject of my talk is a favorite of mine: Why can’t you tickle yourself. Now don’t go tickling yourself until I finish. If I see anyone tickling themselves, I’ll end my talk and I’ll collect my full speaking fee as stated in my speaking contract.”

A man in the front row took his shoes and socks off and could be heard saying, “Tickle, tickle, tickle.” He was touching the sensitive parts of his feet.

I pointed to him and said, “Sir, are you trying to tickle yourself?”

The man giggled, “Yes sir, I am.”

I asked, “And is it working?”

He began putting his socks and shoes back on and said, “Yes, you were wrong, you can tickle yourself.”

I said, “Thank you for coming today, I hope it was worth the exorbitant price you paid not to hear me talk and instead watch this man up front, tickling him self and laughing at all you folks.”

I walked off the stage. The man who had introduced me was going into shock. “I’m sure I’ll be fired for this unfinished speech. I‘ve heard it is one of your finest.”

I said, “Yes, it’s my favorite speech also. I worked for ten years to perfect it.”

Backstage I could hear a full scale riot going on in the auditorium.

The man asked, “I don’t understand, why did it take so long.”

I told him, “It took me a long time to find a man that could pretend he could tickle himself.”

The man said, “Pretend? Can’t anyone pretend he is tickling himself?”

I said, “Oh no, I also had to find someone who didn’t mind being beat up after every one of my tickle speeches. I give his 30% of what I make. It covers half of his medical bills."

“How often do you give this speech?”

“Every time he is released from the hospital and can walk on his own.”

“How many speeches do you give a year?”

“As many as I want. At $90,000 per speech, I try not to be too greedy. I limit myself to twenty five a month.”

“How is that possible if you have to wait for your friend to get healed?”

I laughed, “Oh that’s the genius I guess. I have twenty different speeches that I give all over the world. I have nineteen people who work for me, one for each speech.”

“Nineteen, what happened to the twentieth man?”

“Oh that guy was dumber than dumb. He died a horrible death in public. The title of my talk was: A close up shotgun blast to the head won’t kill you.”

The man shook his head. "You are a pretty smart man to have this scam going.”

I pointed at at him,” Oh, it’s not a scam. I ‘m just very smart. Maybe the smartest man in the world.”

He squinted at me, “Just how smart are you?”

“That’s the wrong question to ask my friend. You need to ask me, how dumb am I?”

“Okay, I’ll bite, Sir, how dumb are you?”

"I’m not dumber than anyone else in the world. It’s all relative, isn’t it.”



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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Acadec56 in portal Fiction

Dystopian

When I opened my eyes, I saw a green, wavy sky. There were no clouds, and no living thing around. I was laying in cold mud and I had no idea what was happening. I got up on my feet and began to walk, and i immediately felt the pressure and it felt flattening. After what felt like hours, I finally found what looked like tents and then I noticed that it was a town! Finally I found another living person, and I asked him, "where am I and why does everything in the world feel upside-down?!". He looked at me with a frown and called me a clown, as he walked away. I asked the next person I found the exact same question, "where am I and why does everything feel upside-down?!". What she told left me in deep depression. I was in the year 2566. However, just yesterday I lived in the year 2066. The girl I spoke to sounded very uneducated and very surprised that spoke as well as I did. I asked her, "do you have internet? Do you have books?" She looked at me puzzled and said, "No int-re-net, no voooks.". At THAT moment I realized something, something that would change my life forever. I am the smartest person on the earth! I will not be called anything other than a genius! NEVER! These thoughts made me smile like a mad man, making the woman ask, " a-are y-you o-ok?". "Ohh yes!" I said, "what is your name?". "Ssarrrah" she said,  "what is you?". "My name is Aristotle Shakespeare and boy do I have much to share with you!!". I asked Sarah to take me to her leader or leaders. She took me to the largest tent, and inside were four elders. "Hello stranger" one said, "who are you?". They sounded like they were educated and strong readers. "My name is Aristotle Shakespeare and I've come to change your the world as you know it.". The elders Began to whisper to each other, two of them looked like they wanted to tear off my limbs, bit by bit. "You may stay here for tonight, but we don't want any of your supposed delights!". I felt shocked, bewildered, mocked. I walked away with Sarah to her little tent. "Do you need anything?" She asked, "no, thank you though, it's been a long day and I'm spent.". That night I had a dream. I was a scientist, a really good one it seemed. I freely went into a time machine That I built. I awoke still in Sarah's tent. I knew what I had to do next... The elders had to go. It would need to be intricate, with suspicions towards me and Sarah on the low. It will have to be at night. I waited outside the town with the deepest frown. I creeped down to the large tent and took a nearby torch. I threw it onto the tent and watched as it got torched. Finally the elders Began to scream and following their screams came the screams of everyone in the town. "DO NOT CRY! DO NOT WORRY! THEIR DEATHS WILL NOT BE THE END OF YOU! I WILL LEAD YOU!! I WILL BE YOUR BEACON OF HOPE! I AM ARISTOTLE SHAKESPEARE!!!!!!

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by Acadec56 in portal Fiction
Dystopian
When I opened my eyes, I saw a green, wavy sky. There were no clouds, and no living thing around. I was laying in cold mud and I had no idea what was happening. I got up on my feet and began to walk, and i immediately felt the pressure and it felt flattening. After what felt like hours, I finally found what looked like tents and then I noticed that it was a town! Finally I found another living person, and I asked him, "where am I and why does everything in the world feel upside-down?!". He looked at me with a frown and called me a clown, as he walked away. I asked the next person I found the exact same question, "where am I and why does everything feel upside-down?!". What she told left me in deep depression. I was in the year 2566. However, just yesterday I lived in the year 2066. The girl I spoke to sounded very uneducated and very surprised that spoke as well as I did. I asked her, "do you have internet? Do you have books?" She looked at me puzzled and said, "No int-re-net, no voooks.". At THAT moment I realized something, something that would change my life forever. I am the smartest person on the earth! I will not be called anything other than a genius! NEVER! These thoughts made me smile like a mad man, making the woman ask, " a-are y-you o-ok?". "Ohh yes!" I said, "what is your name?". "Ssarrrah" she said,  "what is you?". "My name is Aristotle Shakespeare and boy do I have much to share with you!!". I asked Sarah to take me to her leader or leaders. She took me to the largest tent, and inside were four elders. "Hello stranger" one said, "who are you?". They sounded like they were educated and strong readers. "My name is Aristotle Shakespeare and I've come to change your the world as you know it.". The elders Began to whisper to each other, two of them looked like they wanted to tear off my limbs, bit by bit. "You may stay here for tonight, but we don't want any of your supposed delights!". I felt shocked, bewildered, mocked. I walked away with Sarah to her little tent. "Do you need anything?" She asked, "no, thank you though, it's been a long day and I'm spent.". That night I had a dream. I was a scientist, a really good one it seemed. I freely went into a time machine That I built. I awoke still in Sarah's tent. I knew what I had to do next... The elders had to go. It would need to be intricate, with suspicions towards me and Sarah on the low. It will have to be at night. I waited outside the town with the deepest frown. I creeped down to the large tent and took a nearby torch. I threw it onto the tent and watched as it got torched. Finally the elders Began to scream and following their screams came the screams of everyone in the town. "DO NOT CRY! DO NOT WORRY! THEIR DEATHS WILL NOT BE THE END OF YOU! I WILL LEAD YOU!! I WILL BE YOUR BEACON OF HOPE! I AM ARISTOTLE SHAKESPEARE!!!!!!

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction

Insert Superlative

I awoke to the smell of smoke filtering into the room. I coughed and groped along the floor; finally my hands encountered the towel. It must have fallen off in the night. I moistened it with my water bottle, then stuffed it back into the window. I would have to use more duct tape if I wanted it to stay, but since it dried out quickly it didn't matter either way. I never thought I would go so long without being able to get that stupid broken window replaced, though.

I yawned and stumbled toward the kitchen. Best to start with breakfast, today would be a long day. It's always a long day. As I went down the hall, Fraidy meowed and rubbed by my ankles. I stopped to pet her grey fur even though I knew she was just hungry. She could feed herself by dealing with the pests, but I always gave her some food in the morning to make sure she stayed healthy. As far as Fraidy Cat is concerned, that makes me the best owner on the planet.

I dug through the icebox in the fridge. I still had eggs, a bit of bacon, and some fruit, but I was low on supplies. That could wait until late morning, though. Though I am a world class chef, I was in a hurry, so I scrambled the eggs and bacon, then scraped a bit into Fraidy's bowl. She made the oddest grunting sounds as she ate. That always makes me laugh. I'd be much lonelier without her. When we were both done eating I cleaned the plates and utensils.

First order of business after that was cleaning. I decluttered, dusted, swept, sanitized the bathroom, and did laundry. It's not like anyone but me would see it, but I can't stand living in a house that isn't tidy and clean. I must be the biggest neat freak in existence. I grinned as that thought flickered through my head; my mother never would have suspected me of that trait growing up. My room was always so messy she finally gave up and kept the door closed. 

Next order of business: food. I headed to the living room, which I had converted into an indoor garden. The big glass windows let me grow plants year round, or at least keep them alive. Some plants simply refuse to yield fruits and vegetables in the winter no matter how much sunlight they get. However, it was not winter. In any case, there were some ripe tomatoes, zucchini, and strawberries. I drooled when I found flowers on the eggplant vine; soon I would feast.

After returning my precious harvest to the kitchen, I headed out back to the chicken coop. I grabbed my gas mask on the way out, quietly commending myself on being able to rig up an automatic feeder for the chickens so I wouldn't have to venture outside as often. Clearly I am the most intelligent person on the planet. The fans I set up cut down on the smoke certainly -- otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep the chickens alive at all. However, I still didn't like going outside.

Was the smoke unpleasant? Sure, but I could manage. And the landscape I could ignore by looking in front of me. But the silence just outside the door reminded me that I am the loneliest person on the planet.

After all, I'm the only person left on Earth.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by HermitThrush in portal Fiction
Insert Superlative
I awoke to the smell of smoke filtering into the room. I coughed and groped along the floor; finally my hands encountered the towel. It must have fallen off in the night. I moistened it with my water bottle, then stuffed it back into the window. I would have to use more duct tape if I wanted it to stay, but since it dried out quickly it didn't matter either way. I never thought I would go so long without being able to get that stupid broken window replaced, though.

I yawned and stumbled toward the kitchen. Best to start with breakfast, today would be a long day. It's always a long day. As I went down the hall, Fraidy meowed and rubbed by my ankles. I stopped to pet her grey fur even though I knew she was just hungry. She could feed herself by dealing with the pests, but I always gave her some food in the morning to make sure she stayed healthy. As far as Fraidy Cat is concerned, that makes me the best owner on the planet.

I dug through the icebox in the fridge. I still had eggs, a bit of bacon, and some fruit, but I was low on supplies. That could wait until late morning, though. Though I am a world class chef, I was in a hurry, so I scrambled the eggs and bacon, then scraped a bit into Fraidy's bowl. She made the oddest grunting sounds as she ate. That always makes me laugh. I'd be much lonelier without her. When we were both done eating I cleaned the plates and utensils.

First order of business after that was cleaning. I decluttered, dusted, swept, sanitized the bathroom, and did laundry. It's not like anyone but me would see it, but I can't stand living in a house that isn't tidy and clean. I must be the biggest neat freak in existence. I grinned as that thought flickered through my head; my mother never would have suspected me of that trait growing up. My room was always so messy she finally gave up and kept the door closed. 

Next order of business: food. I headed to the living room, which I had converted into an indoor garden. The big glass windows let me grow plants year round, or at least keep them alive. Some plants simply refuse to yield fruits and vegetables in the winter no matter how much sunlight they get. However, it was not winter. In any case, there were some ripe tomatoes, zucchini, and strawberries. I drooled when I found flowers on the eggplant vine; soon I would feast.

After returning my precious harvest to the kitchen, I headed out back to the chicken coop. I grabbed my gas mask on the way out, quietly commending myself on being able to rig up an automatic feeder for the chickens so I wouldn't have to venture outside as often. Clearly I am the most intelligent person on the planet. The fans I set up cut down on the smoke certainly -- otherwise I wouldn't be able to keep the chickens alive at all. However, I still didn't like going outside.

Was the smoke unpleasant? Sure, but I could manage. And the landscape I could ignore by looking in front of me. But the silence just outside the door reminded me that I am the loneliest person on the planet.

After all, I'm the only person left on Earth.
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by James in portal Fiction

Beautiful mind

"The winner of the year 2018 Nobel Prize in mathematics is... 

Benjamin .J. Nikola."

Yes! That's me,  the guy on the newspapers,  Tele, YouTube,  Instagram,  twitter,  Facebook. Dem!  All over the globe.  I'm loving the paparazzi, from my house of residence, to the labs all over the world.  The ladies flirty scream,  when I pop up around the corner. The refreshing salutes from many well wishers is overwhelming.  

Everyone wants my signature or a hug and oh!  My handshakes,  don't go there.  Study shows that I have shake the equivalent of a third of China's population in less than three years.  Seriously!  I'm a feature of statistics,  that's crazy. Shoulders high,  Johnny Depp's smile, joker's eye and Batman's confidence, all in one large scoop. I flaunt everyday. 

"Mr J what does it feels like to win three Nobel Prize in a role?"

"I don't know,  if I say on top  of the world,  that would be an understatement, the feeling is indescribable.  I'm happy because,  I made a difference and there is lot more to be done and I need not to drown myself with such pride. "

" Why Benjamin. J. Nikola?"

"Well, as you may know many call me James or, 'J' for short. My name is the sandwich of two mighty giants in the history of electricity and modern day possibility to access the internet and much more.  Benjamin Franklin and Nikola Tesla. "

"So you prefer their first names? "

 

"Yes,  I do.  It symbolizes the number '1'. Nothing is as important as being number one.  In any competition or whatsoever,  all that matters most is,  who succeeded?  This men to me are number one. Someone has to  carry on their legacy,  right?!"

"What can you tell us  briefly about counter physics?"

" Well,  the law of opposite motion or counter physics states that an actions reaction opposes.  I mean when an heating element such as a boiler, instead of boiling water from normal temperature  25•C to 100•C. It takes  the degrees to 0•C and beyond.  By beyond,  I mean lower. 

  The big picture is that,  the increase in infrared rays towards the earth surface due to opposite motion the earth cools.  Instead of the North Pole's ice glaciers melting down due to global warming.  Opposite motion makes it possible to reduce the rate at which ice glaciers dissolves into the sea bodies. More light is shed on this matter in the text with bulk load of calculations. "

Wait,  you might be wondering,  how did it happen.  Let take a step backwards in time to where it all began. 

      Like everyone I was born in a modest family and I had my equal share of life threatening challenges. I found it hard to cope with the pace in college,  so I dropped out, but I hung around the school library.  It felt like the universe was calling me. 

After complete isolation from  the world except my family,  who were fully in charge of my well being.  To a degree,  I kept my adventure of soul searching a secret.  I sugar coated my progress in college to keep them in loop.  Those years I felt completely miserable at most  times regretting my choice of career pathway. I spent a total of twelve hours everyday except on Sundays in the school library Burrowed in thoughts. When that was not enough,  I switched to adventurous imaginations. At those moments,  I was asleep. Since I did not  participate in any curricular activities or whatsoever. I was fixed to a point. 

 One-day after so many,  the yield of my silence exploded.  I woke from my dreams of thoughts and gave birth to the foundation of opposite motion. 

     This simple incident brought me to where I'm today.

"So, Mr J, what are you going to do with the prize money, considering this happens to be the third installation you have received this year."

"Hmm! I intend to start my own company, mainly based on agricultural farm produce. With the constant increase in the world population, someone has to feed those hungry mouths."

 

" What, are you? Single, engaged or at the registry "

"For now still single, A right woman will come in due time, but that is not a priority."

Hold that thought, who said I'm not into ladies. I might be wearing the Sylvester Stallone soldier look, inside, I'm desperately searching

"But Mr J it is said that, 'to every successful man, there is a strong woman.' Did you fly solo all the way to three Nobel prizes and who were those responsible?"

"Okay! That's a big one. My strong woman was God almighty. It took a great amount of discipline to be able to set my life on track. That level of encouragement, no one I knew could provide such. I thought of committing suicide so many times. God made it clear, that, it was not an option. This very factor limited the cycle of friends I had. My daily devotion opened my eyes wide, it was like I could see through everyone. In fact, trying to explain how God enlightened me, its a book  I intend to publish in the nearest future."

"So you are saying there was no one in particular that stood out."

"Yes no one, except God."

"God is the reason you are here today."

 

" He certainly is."

Wait a minute, I did say I'm desperately searching for a woman in my life. It's better I open a can of worms from my past.

   Before I slept, as in gave in to deep thinking, there was a mountain I needed to bring down. My father is one of his mother seven children who were from two separate men. His father (my grandfather) had three wives. His first wife had three children, the second (my father's mother) had four children, and the third had three children. You want to know the best part, my own mother's mom (my grandmother from my mother's side) had twelve children for three separate men. My mother's dad was the third man. Her father married three wives. Shoot! Something with these guys and three women.

my mom's mother was the second. My mom's father had a total of ten children.

That was definitely a mouth full of relation, form your nearest origin.

       The next biggie, was how my mom and dad met. My mom was in her final year as a senior in high school when her story took a rapid turn in tide. She had a friend who was my father's girl friend. My Dad was a rookie engineer who had just got his degree in England. Now back in Nigeria, he was full of life. One sorry day, my mom went looking for her friend in my dad's place. Seriously! That's  the version she told me. When she got to his house,  her friend was not around. But my smoke smart Dad, locked the door immediately my mom stepped into the house. My dad, blah!  Blah! Blah! That is classified, strictly above your clearance. That incident will forever change my mother's life. My mom had four children for my dad, I happen to be the last. Three boys and a girl. The girl was the ribbon that tied mom to my dad.

  Now imagine the jolt of insurgence  bolting in my blood. I had serious cravings for a woman's touch. Many sleepless nights of prayer and constant discipline made me overcome my family gene pool. Although, now I reap the fruit of my labor, the temptation is well alive. 'God have mercy on me.'

"Can you shed more light on how you were able to cure cancer"

"Yes, cancerous tissue as we know is due to mutation that means somewhere or somehow the body got its generic coding wrong. My little time in the research laboratory in Manchester. I was able to program genetic strands to fin a loop. That loop I created through synthesis reminds the genetic material of living organism to do what it is meant to do, therefore avoiding mutation. Without mutation no cancerous tissue, without cancerous tissue nothing for you to worry about. Like polio, everyone receives a vaccine for that."

"Thank you Mr J. How were you able to expand your horizon into all these fields?"

"I love nature. If you ask me what is my occupation? I will tell you, a scientist. Not a physicist or chemist or a mathematician. Science is the origin of these subjects. So, when I slept. One of the first lesson I learned, was to appreciate nature as a whole. How it was necessary to understand where they intertwine. The differences, sometimes is not black and white. I found myself comfortable dealing with these subjects as one. "

"What made you embark on these journey? Not so many people who dream of winning a Nobel prize get nominated, and in its history no one as won more than two prizes. You have won  three prizes in three absolutely different fields and yet nominated for another prize in another field different from the ones you have won... What are the odds? To be frank sir, you're something else."

"After I gave my life to Christ in senior high school, my entire programming was rewired. Everything about me changed, I suddenly realized that, I had the potential for  greatness, but I struggled in believing any of it will come to pass. Everyone around me, behaved different. They were all saying the same thing, but what my heart was saying, was in no way close to what they discussed. For years, I was drowning at that crossroad, it was not clear to me were I should take, everyone or my heart. When I finally got admission into university the winner of the tug of war was finally decided. During lecture, I simulate every expression made by the lecturer in my mind, and try to fit the puzzle with what is going on in our basic reality. I observe that they didn't fit. After over fifty years  of independence, my country in those time have produced outstanding scholars, but the country economy is drowning in corruption. What happened to those beautiful minds? No research of ground breaking importance is being carried out and the lecture is not hand in hand with such problems. What we are studying is unrealistic to our level of technology. In the United States, you see textbooks made from a particular State based on the resources they have and how to apply them. For example, Lecturers in Ohio write text based on Ohio industries and how they get raw materials to make finished goods. Such text starve in Nigeria. That's why an undergraduate after obtaining his certificate, does not have a proper guide on how to use what he learned. Instead they continue piling up certificates, with unrealistic relevance. In time, the more class I attended the more my mind was struggling for air. It felt like my mind was in a prison wall. After much deliberation, I embarked on the journey that changed my life. "

"Wow! That's extraordinary, lots of mind buzzing facts there, Mr Benjamin J. Franklin, It as been a great experience having you in our midst."

"Thank you, the pleasure is mine"

" Folks, stay tuned for more updates coming your way, do not touch that dial. Until next time, thank you."

I'm sorry to tell you. This interview was two years ago. If you were wondering what happened to the Nobel prize I was nominated for, I won it. The announcement of the prize winner when this peep at my world started came from my television.

I and some experts built

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by James in portal Fiction
Beautiful mind
"The winner of the year 2018 Nobel Prize in mathematics is... 
Benjamin .J. Nikola."

Yes! That's me,  the guy on the newspapers,  Tele, YouTube,  Instagram,  twitter,  Facebook. Dem!  All over the globe.  I'm loving the paparazzi, from my house of residence, to the labs all over the world.  The ladies flirty scream,  when I pop up around the corner. The refreshing salutes from many well wishers is overwhelming.  

Everyone wants my signature or a hug and oh!  My handshakes,  don't go there.  Study shows that I have shake the equivalent of a third of China's population in less than three years.  Seriously!  I'm a feature of statistics,  that's crazy. Shoulders high,  Johnny Depp's smile, joker's eye and Batman's confidence, all in one large scoop. I flaunt everyday. 

"Mr J what does it feels like to win three Nobel Prize in a role?"

"I don't know,  if I say on top  of the world,  that would be an understatement, the feeling is indescribable.  I'm happy because,  I made a difference and there is lot more to be done and I need not to drown myself with such pride. "

" Why Benjamin. J. Nikola?"

"Well, as you may know many call me James or, 'J' for short. My name is the sandwich of two mighty giants in the history of electricity and modern day possibility to access the internet and much more.  Benjamin Franklin and Nikola Tesla. "

"So you prefer their first names? "
 
"Yes,  I do.  It symbolizes the number '1'. Nothing is as important as being number one.  In any competition or whatsoever,  all that matters most is,  who succeeded?  This men to me are number one. Someone has to  carry on their legacy,  right?!"

"What can you tell us  briefly about counter physics?"

" Well,  the law of opposite motion or counter physics states that an actions reaction opposes.  I mean when an heating element such as a boiler, instead of boiling water from normal temperature  25•C to 100•C. It takes  the degrees to 0•C and beyond.  By beyond,  I mean lower. 
  The big picture is that,  the increase in infrared rays towards the earth surface due to opposite motion the earth cools.  Instead of the North Pole's ice glaciers melting down due to global warming.  Opposite motion makes it possible to reduce the rate at which ice glaciers dissolves into the sea bodies. More light is shed on this matter in the text with bulk load of calculations. "

Wait,  you might be wondering,  how did it happen.  Let take a step backwards in time to where it all began. 
      Like everyone I was born in a modest family and I had my equal share of life threatening challenges. I found it hard to cope with the pace in college,  so I dropped out, but I hung around the school library.  It felt like the universe was calling me. 
After complete isolation from  the world except my family,  who were fully in charge of my well being.  To a degree,  I kept my adventure of soul searching a secret.  I sugar coated my progress in college to keep them in loop.  Those years I felt completely miserable at most  times regretting my choice of career pathway. I spent a total of twelve hours everyday except on Sundays in the school library Burrowed in thoughts. When that was not enough,  I switched to adventurous imaginations. At those moments,  I was asleep. Since I did not  participate in any curricular activities or whatsoever. I was fixed to a point. 
 One-day after so many,  the yield of my silence exploded.  I woke from my dreams of thoughts and gave birth to the foundation of opposite motion. 
     This simple incident brought me to where I'm today.

"So, Mr J, what are you going to do with the prize money, considering this happens to be the third installation you have received this year."

"Hmm! I intend to start my own company, mainly based on agricultural farm produce. With the constant increase in the world population, someone has to feed those hungry mouths."
 
" What, are you? Single, engaged or at the registry "

"For now still single, A right woman will come in due time, but that is not a priority."

Hold that thought, who said I'm not into ladies. I might be wearing the Sylvester Stallone soldier look, inside, I'm desperately searching

"But Mr J it is said that, 'to every successful man, there is a strong woman.' Did you fly solo all the way to three Nobel prizes and who were those responsible?"

"Okay! That's a big one. My strong woman was God almighty. It took a great amount of discipline to be able to set my life on track. That level of encouragement, no one I knew could provide such. I thought of committing suicide so many times. God made it clear, that, it was not an option. This very factor limited the cycle of friends I had. My daily devotion opened my eyes wide, it was like I could see through everyone. In fact, trying to explain how God enlightened me, its a book  I intend to publish in the nearest future."

"So you are saying there was no one in particular that stood out."

"Yes no one, except God."

"God is the reason you are here today."
 
" He certainly is."

Wait a minute, I did say I'm desperately searching for a woman in my life. It's better I open a can of worms from my past.
   Before I slept, as in gave in to deep thinking, there was a mountain I needed to bring down. My father is one of his mother seven children who were from two separate men. His father (my grandfather) had three wives. His first wife had three children, the second (my father's mother) had four children, and the third had three children. You want to know the best part, my own mother's mom (my grandmother from my mother's side) had twelve children for three separate men. My mother's dad was the third man. Her father married three wives. Shoot! Something with these guys and three women.
my mom's mother was the second. My mom's father had a total of ten children.
That was definitely a mouth full of relation, form your nearest origin.
       The next biggie, was how my mom and dad met. My mom was in her final year as a senior in high school when her story took a rapid turn in tide. She had a friend who was my father's girl friend. My Dad was a rookie engineer who had just got his degree in England. Now back in Nigeria, he was full of life. One sorry day, my mom went looking for her friend in my dad's place. Seriously! That's  the version she told me. When she got to his house,  her friend was not around. But my smoke smart Dad, locked the door immediately my mom stepped into the house. My dad, blah!  Blah! Blah! That is classified, strictly above your clearance. That incident will forever change my mother's life. My mom had four children for my dad, I happen to be the last. Three boys and a girl. The girl was the ribbon that tied mom to my dad.
  Now imagine the jolt of insurgence  bolting in my blood. I had serious cravings for a woman's touch. Many sleepless nights of prayer and constant discipline made me overcome my family gene pool. Although, now I reap the fruit of my labor, the temptation is well alive. 'God have mercy on me.'

"Can you shed more light on how you were able to cure cancer"

"Yes, cancerous tissue as we know is due to mutation that means somewhere or somehow the body got its generic coding wrong. My little time in the research laboratory in Manchester. I was able to program genetic strands to fin a loop. That loop I created through synthesis reminds the genetic material of living organism to do what it is meant to do, therefore avoiding mutation. Without mutation no cancerous tissue, without cancerous tissue nothing for you to worry about. Like polio, everyone receives a vaccine for that."

"Thank you Mr J. How were you able to expand your horizon into all these fields?"

"I love nature. If you ask me what is my occupation? I will tell you, a scientist. Not a physicist or chemist or a mathematician. Science is the origin of these subjects. So, when I slept. One of the first lesson I learned, was to appreciate nature as a whole. How it was necessary to understand where they intertwine. The differences, sometimes is not black and white. I found myself comfortable dealing with these subjects as one. "

"What made you embark on these journey? Not so many people who dream of winning a Nobel prize get nominated, and in its history no one as won more than two prizes. You have won  three prizes in three absolutely different fields and yet nominated for another prize in another field different from the ones you have won... What are the odds? To be frank sir, you're something else."

"After I gave my life to Christ in senior high school, my entire programming was rewired. Everything about me changed, I suddenly realized that, I had the potential for  greatness, but I struggled in believing any of it will come to pass. Everyone around me, behaved different. They were all saying the same thing, but what my heart was saying, was in no way close to what they discussed. For years, I was drowning at that crossroad, it was not clear to me were I should take, everyone or my heart. When I finally got admission into university the winner of the tug of war was finally decided. During lecture, I simulate every expression made by the lecturer in my mind, and try to fit the puzzle with what is going on in our basic reality. I observe that they didn't fit. After over fifty years  of independence, my country in those time have produced outstanding scholars, but the country economy is drowning in corruption. What happened to those beautiful minds? No research of ground breaking importance is being carried out and the lecture is not hand in hand with such problems. What we are studying is unrealistic to our level of technology. In the United States, you see textbooks made from a particular State based on the resources they have and how to apply them. For example, Lecturers in Ohio write text based on Ohio industries and how they get raw materials to make finished goods. Such text starve in Nigeria. That's why an undergraduate after obtaining his certificate, does not have a proper guide on how to use what he learned. Instead they continue piling up certificates, with unrealistic relevance. In time, the more class I attended the more my mind was struggling for air. It felt like my mind was in a prison wall. After much deliberation, I embarked on the journey that changed my life. "

"Wow! That's extraordinary, lots of mind buzzing facts there, Mr Benjamin J. Franklin, It as been a great experience having you in our midst."

"Thank you, the pleasure is mine"

" Folks, stay tuned for more updates coming your way, do not touch that dial. Until next time, thank you."


I'm sorry to tell you. This interview was two years ago. If you were wondering what happened to the Nobel prize I was nominated for, I won it. The announcement of the prize winner when this peep at my world started came from my television.

I and some experts built
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by flower in portal Fiction

100%

Breath in.

Breath out.

Turn over.

I'm waking up now, I can see instructions running behind my eyelids like movie credits. I never thought like this. 

Breath in.

Breath out.

Sit up.

What is going on? I can hear the drip of the leaky faucet of my old bathroom, the constant ticking of the clock on my night stand.  

Breath in.

Breath out.

Shake head.

I try to shake out the overwhelming cacophony of early mornings. It's 7:12 AM, the temperature is at 70 degrees and information is bombarding me. 

Breath in.

Breath out.

Stand up.

I'm getting dressed now, seeing every fiber of the cotton shirt before I even reach for it. The denim pants are jarring for I can practically taste the metal as I pull them on. Focus in on one object. I will myself to just do, not feel, not think. It doesn't work.

Breath in.

Breath ou-

The shriek of a baby makes me gasp, it's three floors above me, the baby needs to be changed. A girl is getting mugged in the lobby down the block, the gun is a glock, the man has a bad heart. It sloshes instead of a steady beat. He needs a double bypass. The doorman is asleep, his breath a cocktail of cheap vodka and cigarettes. My head is pulsing, matching the rapidly climbing  rhythm of my heart. The muscles in my fingers- the lumbrical muscles- are vibrating at an alarming speed. My vision is getting blurry, my finger tips look blue. I remember.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Breath in. 

Breath out.

I read once when I was in college that a human being only uses 10% of their -our- brains. A girl, 22, with blue eyes, brown hair, a body mass index of 20.5, had asked what would happen if humans were to use 100%. The professor, a man, 45, brown eyes, gray streaked hair, weight of 175 had answered he did not know.  Remember.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Blink.

I was at work. I had arrived to the solemn printing company, the machines were howling making my brain rattle. I cut it off, they were no longer howling but were a dull buzz. 

Breath in.

Breath out.

Look around.

I saw strings. So many. Oh so many. It was a wonder I was not tangled in them. My boss, a woman, 52, gray eyes, grey hair, height 6'2 was covered in them, practically a puppet. Her heartbeat was at 70 beats a minute, her blood pressure at 95 over 75. The new intern, a girl of 17, green eyes, black hair, a mass in her neck had only 2. Her heart was barely a patter in her fluid filled lungs.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Focus.

I saw the movie credits running through my mind. I was sitting. New information running through it, my nose was filled with the stench of ink as new books were born. I stopped the credits, the scene with the professor was playing on replay in a small corner.  I brought it forward.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Go.

I was in the room again, watching the lecture. The dialogue played through, I moved to the front of the room, somehow making no motion. I ran my hand along one of the ancient computers. I traveled. Out, out, out. The small college blurred into cities, states, countries, planets. Earth spun, the endless tirades of wars becoming the greatest times of peace, the temperature rising and falling, humans' cries growing from a drone then back down to a theatrical silence. I knew, I knew, I knew. This was 100%

Breath in.

Breath out.

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by flower in portal Fiction
100%
Breath in.
Breath out.
Turn over.
I'm waking up now, I can see instructions running behind my eyelids like movie credits. I never thought like this. 
Breath in.
Breath out.
Sit up.
What is going on? I can hear the drip of the leaky faucet of my old bathroom, the constant ticking of the clock on my night stand.  
Breath in.
Breath out.
Shake head.
I try to shake out the overwhelming cacophony of early mornings. It's 7:12 AM, the temperature is at 70 degrees and information is bombarding me. 
Breath in.
Breath out.
Stand up.
I'm getting dressed now, seeing every fiber of the cotton shirt before I even reach for it. The denim pants are jarring for I can practically taste the metal as I pull them on. Focus in on one object. I will myself to just do, not feel, not think. It doesn't work.
Breath in.
Breath ou-
The shriek of a baby makes me gasp, it's three floors above me, the baby needs to be changed. A girl is getting mugged in the lobby down the block, the gun is a glock, the man has a bad heart. It sloshes instead of a steady beat. He needs a double bypass. The doorman is asleep, his breath a cocktail of cheap vodka and cigarettes. My head is pulsing, matching the rapidly climbing  rhythm of my heart. The muscles in my fingers- the lumbrical muscles- are vibrating at an alarming speed. My vision is getting blurry, my finger tips look blue. I remember.
Breath in.
Breath out.
Breath in. 
Breath out.
I read once when I was in college that a human being only uses 10% of their -our- brains. A girl, 22, with blue eyes, brown hair, a body mass index of 20.5, had asked what would happen if humans were to use 100%. The professor, a man, 45, brown eyes, gray streaked hair, weight of 175 had answered he did not know.  Remember.
Breath in.
Breath out.
Blink.
I was at work. I had arrived to the solemn printing company, the machines were howling making my brain rattle. I cut it off, they were no longer howling but were a dull buzz. 
Breath in.
Breath out.
Look around.
I saw strings. So many. Oh so many. It was a wonder I was not tangled in them. My boss, a woman, 52, gray eyes, grey hair, height 6'2 was covered in them, practically a puppet. Her heartbeat was at 70 beats a minute, her blood pressure at 95 over 75. The new intern, a girl of 17, green eyes, black hair, a mass in her neck had only 2. Her heart was barely a patter in her fluid filled lungs.
Breath in.
Breath out.
Focus.
I saw the movie credits running through my mind. I was sitting. New information running through it, my nose was filled with the stench of ink as new books were born. I stopped the credits, the scene with the professor was playing on replay in a small corner.  I brought it forward.
Breath in.
Breath out.
Go.
I was in the room again, watching the lecture. The dialogue played through, I moved to the front of the room, somehow making no motion. I ran my hand along one of the ancient computers. I traveled. Out, out, out. The small college blurred into cities, states, countries, planets. Earth spun, the endless tirades of wars becoming the greatest times of peace, the temperature rising and falling, humans' cries growing from a drone then back down to a theatrical silence. I knew, I knew, I knew. This was 100%
Breath in.
Breath out.
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by luvtoread_21 in portal Fiction

unplugged

i laid on a white hospital bed in a white hospital room. the only color besides the white that consumed the room was the red blood that lay beside me in a bag. a women came over and pulled it from my skin. 

i fell back into the darkness.

i believe it has been just a few days since my last blackout. since the doctor told me i was slowly crumbling into pieces. since the doctor told me i was broken and could never be fixed. since i realized i'd be better off dead.

i started hyperventilating yesterday. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't live anymore. i simply expired. i remember so vividly falling apart right there on the bed, gritting my teeth at the pain that spread through my body. i remember nobody being there for me. i remember all of everything. how i was teased. how i was bullied for being a 'nerd'. how i wasn't average. how i needed to be cured. how i should kill myself. how my parents left me. ashamed. how i had no one. i remember all of everything. so vividly, clearly. 

the doctor said i was dead for a full fifteen minutes. i was dead. i was gone from this world. 

when i came back to life, i remember my heavy breaths, i remember staring at the walls for endless moments in the room, i remember the pain i felt in my head, my body. it pulsed with pain.  i remember being alone.

about three days later i heard the door squeak open. the doctor found me, surprised that i was alive. 

i was still immobile.

but i was alive.

i gasped as the doctor stuck a needle into my head. He pulled up on the syringe, pulling blood from it. i was stuck. 

he left shortly after, and all i could do was watch the white wall, immobile, not average, different, just like me.

he came back a day later. he said it was a miracle. he said i was cured.

but if i was cured, why can't i move?

but if i was cured, why do i still feel this way? 

I woke up with a start. I gazed around in the room that I was in. Brown desk, blue walls, brown bookshelf. I was home. But something felt off. I suddenly felt the itch to do things I wasn't supposed to. Things that nobody was allowed to do until you were 25. 

What was wrong with me? I can't be any different now. I've worked so hard to be average. 

Realizing I had school in just a few hours, I pulled myself up out of my bed and got dressed.

This was going to be a long day.

"What's the answer, Miss.Pierce?" my math teacher asked.

A feeling of ecstasy filled me as I answered.

"23532"

The class laughed at me.

Was I wrong??

"Miss.Pierce, I was asking for number three." he tapped his foot impatiently.

"Sir, I think you calculated wrong." I said unconsciously.

As I gasped at my own words, murmurs filled the room with judgement and fear.

Fear that I wasn't average anymore. 

"Miss.Pierce, detention."

I immediately fired back, "Sorry, just thought that you would've wanted the correct answer." 

What was wrong with me?

As the teacher got even more red, I flushed. I picked up my things and ran out of the room. 

Still I could feel the aroma of judgement around me. People staring, looking, watching for my differences. A thousand eyes surrounding me, driving me to the brink of insanity. 

18
1
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by luvtoread_21 in portal Fiction
unplugged
i laid on a white hospital bed in a white hospital room. the only color besides the white that consumed the room was the red blood that lay beside me in a bag. a women came over and pulled it from my skin. 
i fell back into the darkness.

i believe it has been just a few days since my last blackout. since the doctor told me i was slowly crumbling into pieces. since the doctor told me i was broken and could never be fixed. since i realized i'd be better off dead.

i started hyperventilating yesterday. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't live anymore. i simply expired. i remember so vividly falling apart right there on the bed, gritting my teeth at the pain that spread through my body. i remember nobody being there for me. i remember all of everything. how i was teased. how i was bullied for being a 'nerd'. how i wasn't average. how i needed to be cured. how i should kill myself. how my parents left me. ashamed. how i had no one. i remember all of everything. so vividly, clearly. 
the doctor said i was dead for a full fifteen minutes. i was dead. i was gone from this world. 
when i came back to life, i remember my heavy breaths, i remember staring at the walls for endless moments in the room, i remember the pain i felt in my head, my body. it pulsed with pain.  i remember being alone.
about three days later i heard the door squeak open. the doctor found me, surprised that i was alive. 
i was still immobile.
but i was alive.

i gasped as the doctor stuck a needle into my head. He pulled up on the syringe, pulling blood from it. i was stuck. 
he left shortly after, and all i could do was watch the white wall, immobile, not average, different, just like me.

he came back a day later. he said it was a miracle. he said i was cured.
but if i was cured, why can't i move?
but if i was cured, why do i still feel this way? 

I woke up with a start. I gazed around in the room that I was in. Brown desk, blue walls, brown bookshelf. I was home. But something felt off. I suddenly felt the itch to do things I wasn't supposed to. Things that nobody was allowed to do until you were 25. 
What was wrong with me? I can't be any different now. I've worked so hard to be average. 
Realizing I had school in just a few hours, I pulled myself up out of my bed and got dressed.
This was going to be a long day.

"What's the answer, Miss.Pierce?" my math teacher asked.
A feeling of ecstasy filled me as I answered.
"23532"
The class laughed at me.
Was I wrong??
"Miss.Pierce, I was asking for number three." he tapped his foot impatiently.
"Sir, I think you calculated wrong." I said unconsciously.
As I gasped at my own words, murmurs filled the room with judgement and fear.
Fear that I wasn't average anymore. 
"Miss.Pierce, detention."
I immediately fired back, "Sorry, just thought that you would've wanted the correct answer." 
What was wrong with me?
As the teacher got even more red, I flushed. I picked up my things and ran out of the room. 
Still I could feel the aroma of judgement around me. People staring, looking, watching for my differences. A thousand eyes surrounding me, driving me to the brink of insanity. 
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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by El_Tennze in portal Fiction

the most intelligent man

A plump dark-haired woman busily disarranged a bouquet of white roses, gardenias and violets in a slim blue vase, annoyingly unsatisfied with any way she put them. Each time she slipped the fresh stalks in, she would hastily grab them out.

She wore a faded brown cardigan too spacious for her and a messy ponytail. When I looked down to her toes, I saw flat black sandals taut around two veined feet. I could see why the flowers had suffered such ill attempts to beauty. After a moment of utter frustration, she surrendered and haphazardly stacked the stalks into the narrow hole. At last, they could have some peace.

She turned and saw me awake, immobile in a spotless white hospital gown on a spotless white bed. For a split second, I glimpsed a streak of relief and joy flash in her black eyes. But the spark instantly burst into an ugly rage. Her right hand sliced the air and landed squarely on my unsuspecting cheeks.

Did this woman just slap me? This stranger has just assaulted me!

Strange though, the pain was vaguely familiar like I had known such a cruel injustice for a long time. My mouth gaping, I propped myself up. AWWW!

Fatigue and soreness surged through my body like a tsunami with no warning. My muscles stiffened and limped. I feared my bones had softened. I collapsed helplessly on the mattress. How many years exactly have I lain here?

“Don’t push yourself, you moron! Lie still,” she barked.

A moron? How the hell could she call me that?

I tried to fire back but only a strident snarl came out. She poured me a glass of water from a pitcher next to the vase of besmirched flowers. She shoved the glass against my chest. “Here, drink this.”

If this was poison, I might know later. But I drank it nonetheless.

When I regained my voice, I asked, “Uhm, who are you?” It sounded like a whisper but I figured she heard because her jaw dropped. She was shocked. I was puzzled.

Her brows furrowed, “Don’t you kid me, bastard.”

Now I am a bastard too. “I’m serious.”

A shade of horror fell on her freckled face. “What are you saying Wilson?”

The name lit up clouded memories and pain in my head. “Who’s Wilson?”

“Of course you’re Wilson. Stop this right now!” The tears she’d been holding back gushed free.

That’s ridiculous. Of course I knew my name. “No, I’m Francis.”

The color escaped her skin. The name hit her like a bombshell. “I’ll call the doctor.”

She was my mother. And I had amnesia. At least, that’s what the doctor said. But a person with amnesia only forgets. But I, I remembered things. I knew my name. I knew my school. I knew what my house looked like. My real house, not the messy little bungalow for the demented. I knew I was Francis, not Wilson. But all the pictures and the things about me told me I was the latter. Then who was Francis? They wouldn’t tell me.

Two weeks had passed since my release from the hospital. And in my stay, not one soul except my mother visited me. So I thought I had no friends. So who could these addicts in school uniforms be?

The classroom was huge. Yet enveloped by these nosy assholes, I felt it shrink in my face.

“You don’t remember us?” Said the porcupine. He had blond spikes for hair that stood like he was always horrified. But he was horrifying. He had yellowed teeth and a breath of cigar smoke.

I stiffly answered. “No. I really don’t.”

“We’re your buddies, bro,” croaked the tree frog. He had wide bulging eyes that his sockets barely restrained. Beneath the sleeve of his polo, I could see a skull tattoo. He couldn’t be a buddy of mine.

“Have you got amnesia?” exclaimed the last of them, the tiger. Dark orange hair. Strong jaws. Robust build. Fierce grey eyes. Who the hell are they?

“Yeah. I have amnesia. I’ve forgotten a lot.” That’s all it took to silence the animals. But after a moment, an evil grin drew across their snouts.

The tiger growled, “Well then, we’ll make you remember.”

Throughout the day, I could see this girl weirdly gazing at me. I guessed she could be someone I knew too. But she didn’t accost me until the dismissal of our last class in Mechanical Engineering.

Up-close, I saw she had sincere blue eyes, cascading brown hair, cream skin, and a stunning figure. So, I might had had one decent friend at least.

She spoke in a voice that I ought to have loved before because it made me want to hear it more. “Wil, I heard from your mom you have amnesia.”

She’s close to my mom. I thought that a good thing.

“Yes. And you are?”

She blushed. “It feels awkward to reintroduce myself you know. When you’ve known me for four years. Anyway, I’m Gwen.”

“Gwen.” The name squeezed out a few images. And they became vivid in her presence. The smiles in those memories, the vibrancy were all repainted by her meek grin. And the notes and melodies in them were all plucked into music once again by her voice. It was painful but it was bliss. Yet, something was still amiss. In those moments that searingly flickered to my reminiscence, it was not just the two of us. There was another face.

She said, “Anyway those three assholes this morning, they’re telling the truth. They’re your friends. Don’t worry.”

I was more scared than surprised. “They are?”

She mumbled gently, her cheeks reddened, “You know, you’re more like him now. I can almost see him in you.”

“I’m more like who?”

“Francis.”

Mr. Joeffrey Gil was far left back in the old days. He had this wavy mustache and well-combed goatee. He was a man of terror but those facial hairs made him look like a joke.

Boasting his full six-feet and two-inch height, he loomed over me and groaned, “In your current state, you have to review for two years to take the remedial and special exams. You’ve missed a lot Mr. Hurthon and now you’ve forgotten everything.” He coughed, “Anyway, even without amnesia, you won’t remember a thing.” He snickered.

I loathed him right there and I could bet my life I had wanted to murder him once before.

I’d stab him in a different way. “I’ll take them all tomorrow.”

He snapped to his strict posture. “Tomorrow? You’re committing suicide?”

“Well it seems that I am.”

His lips arched to a silly devilish grin. “Tomorrow it is then.”

Someone was texting me, maybe one of my animal friends. His phonebook name was Fart-thing. “The abandoned house off Green Street. 12 midnight.”

I didn’t know any abandoned house in Green Street and even if I did, I won’t go there. I needed to read eight books this evening for tomorrow so I turned off my phone and started to flip my book open. Then my mom stepped in.

“Wil, I thought you might want to have this. You were holding it after the accident.” She said as she unfolded her palm to reveal a ring, its silver surface glinting. Upon giving me that, she left bearing hope I might remember something. But then she came back, displaying an astonished look in her face. She mused, “You’re studying?”

“Well, I’m hungry and I’m just dining on these books, if that’s what it seems.”

“Studying on your own?”

“Come on, Mom. Is there anybody with me besides you? It’s not like you can do engineering.”

“No, it’s just – Never mind.” She left. It didn’t seem like she knew me after all.

I scrutinized the ring. On the inner surface, it was etched in flowing letters: We are One.

I didn’t have much time to waste to give it much thought. I flipped my book open and saw a pitiful sight. What a mess! This isn’t even writing anymore. Mysteriously, as I turn more pages, another handwriting appeared. More legible and not crooked. It was more like mine.

“YOU CHEATED YOU SCUMBAG OF AN IDIOT!” Mr. Gil yelled at me, his voice booming about the faculty office where many professors watched eagerly. He went on, “I’ll see to it you get expelled.”

I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “You were there, Sir.” Guarding like a filthy vulture waiting for meat to scavenge. “If I have cheated, you would have noticed.”

“Your scores in my last exams are mostly zeroes. Your highest score is half the passing. Then you suddenly perfect all your tests with a review of one night!”

“With all due respect Sir, next time find more difficult questions so that I would need what I reviewed on. If I hadn’t read those books, I would still have perfected them.” I went for the door and slammed it in their stunned faces.

Now, I’d stabbed him. Deep.

The miracle spread by word of gaping mouths. I suddenly became the most popular guy in school. Many came to see me, asking what cheating tricks I used to pull it off. If using stock knowledge to perfect exams is cheating, then let it be.

But what terrible scores I had had before. Zeroes? Seriously? Was I that bad at it? Well I think amnesia changes a lot.

Gwen came to see me too. She congratulated me with a kiss on the cheek that my mom kept on hitting. Then she shook my hand and I saw it. The silver ring.

Why did she have the other? And why was the other with me? I couldn’t gain the courage to ask her.

Opportunities came along. I became a quizzer for the college and I always brought them the highest prize. Every club wanted me in. I refused half of them. With my schedules tight and crowded, I still found time to read. Then my fourth-year theoretical explorations was featured in an international journal. It was about a nearly ideal energy-generating device that used magnetic suspension and concepts that not even my professors could understand.

I did not go as far as special relativity, it had suffered enough vandalism. I won’t put my name on such a field that almost every physicist had explored. However my career reached its pinnacle when my face made it to the Times, naming me as The Most Intelligent Man on earth.

Soon enough, Harvard came for me. They offered a course that’d get me into working at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland in three years. It meant I won’t come to my fifth year with my classmates, with Gwen. I’d have to leave them behind.

It was the night after the graduation day. My three forest friends came up to me and Craig Furtein, the tiger, said, “You still don’t remember us?”

The frog, Henry Harrison, walked up to me, holding a handkerchief. “We told your mom we’re having fun for a while.” He thrust the cloth to my mouth and heavy sleep overwhelmed me.

I felt like I had slept through another coma when I found myself in a dingy dimly lit mansion. My body felt so heavy I could not stand. Squinting through my eyelids that weighed like tons, I could barely make out the shadows that moved around me, their voices fading in the incessant ringing in my ears. I could hear people yelling, an erratic siren of an approaching ambulance and the whispering of my own voice.

“Francis?”

A man lay splayed next to me, bathing in a pool of blood.

Then someone stirred me awake. “Wil.”

It was the porcupine, Dan. “You’re finally awake.”

It was already the break of dawn. I demanded, “Why did you bring me here? I’m off to Cambridge this afternoon. I have to go home.”

“It’s that stupid scholarship!” Craig growled.

“This is kidnapping. It’s a cruel way to treat a friend.”

Craig said, “You almost sound like him.”

“Do you know who I am?”

Henry replied, “You have amnesia, we don’t.”

“I am the most intelligent man on this planet.”

They stared blankly at me. I won’t talk to them ever again.

Dan looked encouraging but with the indelible look of menace in his eyes. “It’ll take only a while. Let’s do it.”

“Do what?”

He passed me an orange shabby basketball. “It’s two on two.”

“Look I don’t play ball.”

Henry chuckled, “It was Francis who didn’t play ball.”

I had to admit the curved edge of the sphere fitted my palms so perfectly as if they were molded to hold it. A tinge of desire welled within me. One heavy sigh and the trembling in my knees yielded to comfort and confidence.

As I played, everything was instinct. The dribble, the pass and the shots. My feet had their own minds. Why have I forgotten so much?

Toweling ourselves in the basketball court in the yard of the deserted house, Craig looked unlike himself. He sat so pensive, deep in his thoughts.

He spoke, “You’re gonna regret it.”

All three pairs of eyes were suddenly on me. “It’s my future.”

Henry said, “We don’t know how you turned into a freaking genius but you won’t be happy there.”

“I’ll be happy there and I want to go there.” I stressed.

Craig shrugged, “You don’t even know what makes you happy anymore. You’ve forgotten everything.”

“Then tell me, who is Francis? Is he dead?”

Dread surfaced in me. They nodded. Craig explained, “We’re your lifelong buddies. He was your college best friend.”

A throbbing pain shot through my skull. The images that flashed were clear as daylight. I have killed my best friend.

Francis had calm blue eyes, dark silk tufts, and a smile that could put entropy at ease. His voice floated, “Hi, I’ll be your tutor. I’ll help you.”

They were at the library. “This is Gwen, my girlfriend. You must have met in class.”

The motorcycle ride. “The light’s green! WAIT!”

“Wow, that was dangerously awesome.”

He was scanning his books. “What a mess! This isn’t even writing anymore.”

Francis was with Gwen, their hands fastened inseparably. And I was trying to blink away my thoughts but still they materialized. If Francis was not here, will I have a chance with her?

Then the rings. He was saying to me, “What do you think? Are they good enough?”

Then the accident. “Hold it slow. We still have to graduate.”

I shouted, my voice lost in the winds, “IT’S FINE!”

“Wil, we’re going too fast!”

A truck whizzed from a corner. Then it was pitch black.

I woke up dazed, my body sprawled on the pavement. I suffered bruises and a few fractures. A couple of feet away, Francis lay maimed and bloody. A pool of red spread rapidly around him. His breathing was labored. He was still alive, but barely.

I forced a few words out, “You have to live. You cannot die.” My only thoughts were I should be in his place. I ought to have met this fate alone.

When I snapped out of my recollection, I only found more reason to leave.

The baggage was ready. It was time to part with my past and live out an entirely different future. But I went to gaze upon the violated pages of my books for a last time. My handwriting was once a mess. How humiliating. Francis, how did I become you? How did I even surpass you? My will ought to have been so determined.

I reached for another book and toppled a pile. A few books dropped to the floor. Then as if summoned, the silver ring rolled towards me, its sound so eerily familiar. Another fragment of my lost memories seeped into my consciousness.

It was the night of the accident. Francis lay helplessly but he managed to speak against all that pain raking his body, “I know what you feel for her. Promise me you’ll take care of her.” He gruelingly slipped the ring from his finger and rolled it towards me. “Please…” Then his eyes shut with a smooth finality.

I ran as fast as I could. And then she was there, sitting in solitude in the silence of the city library. It was their favorite spot.

She looked up curiously. “You’re off to Harvard. Have you forgotten something?”

I did. A lot. I panted, “No. I remembered something.”

She looked perplexed. I reached into my pocket and showed the ring to her. “I have a promise to fulfill.”

She didn’t speak.

“You see I was the worst idiot. My life is laid in front of me and I was too blind to see it.”

She found her voice, “What do you mean? How about your dreams?”

“I’ve hurt you more than you could feel,” I said, “You see, you are my dream. Although my mind forgot, my heart remembered.”

I slipped the ring into my fingers and held her hand, “Now I’ll take care of you.”

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Prose Challenge of the Month #2: Write a story where you wake up as the most intelligent person on Earth. Fifteen entries will be featured in a 500-coin Prose Original Book, whereby each winner will take 5% lifetime royalties. You must purchase the book to discover its authors, who will be determined by objective data (reads, likes, reposts, comments) and by team vote to ensure reader satisfaction. When sharing to social media, please use the hashtags “itslit,” “getlit,” and “ProseChallenge.”
Written by El_Tennze in portal Fiction
the most intelligent man
A plump dark-haired woman busily disarranged a bouquet of white roses, gardenias and violets in a slim blue vase, annoyingly unsatisfied with any way she put them. Each time she slipped the fresh stalks in, she would hastily grab them out.
She wore a faded brown cardigan too spacious for her and a messy ponytail. When I looked down to her toes, I saw flat black sandals taut around two veined feet. I could see why the flowers had suffered such ill attempts to beauty. After a moment of utter frustration, she surrendered and haphazardly stacked the stalks into the narrow hole. At last, they could have some peace.
She turned and saw me awake, immobile in a spotless white hospital gown on a spotless white bed. For a split second, I glimpsed a streak of relief and joy flash in her black eyes. But the spark instantly burst into an ugly rage. Her right hand sliced the air and landed squarely on my unsuspecting cheeks.
Did this woman just slap me? This stranger has just assaulted me!
Strange though, the pain was vaguely familiar like I had known such a cruel injustice for a long time. My mouth gaping, I propped myself up. AWWW!
Fatigue and soreness surged through my body like a tsunami with no warning. My muscles stiffened and limped. I feared my bones had softened. I collapsed helplessly on the mattress. How many years exactly have I lain here?
“Don’t push yourself, you moron! Lie still,” she barked.
A moron? How the hell could she call me that?
I tried to fire back but only a strident snarl came out. She poured me a glass of water from a pitcher next to the vase of besmirched flowers. She shoved the glass against my chest. “Here, drink this.”
If this was poison, I might know later. But I drank it nonetheless.
When I regained my voice, I asked, “Uhm, who are you?” It sounded like a whisper but I figured she heard because her jaw dropped. She was shocked. I was puzzled.
Her brows furrowed, “Don’t you kid me, bastard.”
Now I am a bastard too. “I’m serious.”
A shade of horror fell on her freckled face. “What are you saying Wilson?”
The name lit up clouded memories and pain in my head. “Who’s Wilson?”
“Of course you’re Wilson. Stop this right now!” The tears she’d been holding back gushed free.
That’s ridiculous. Of course I knew my name. “No, I’m Francis.”
The color escaped her skin. The name hit her like a bombshell. “I’ll call the doctor.”

She was my mother. And I had amnesia. At least, that’s what the doctor said. But a person with amnesia only forgets. But I, I remembered things. I knew my name. I knew my school. I knew what my house looked like. My real house, not the messy little bungalow for the demented. I knew I was Francis, not Wilson. But all the pictures and the things about me told me I was the latter. Then who was Francis? They wouldn’t tell me.
Two weeks had passed since my release from the hospital. And in my stay, not one soul except my mother visited me. So I thought I had no friends. So who could these addicts in school uniforms be?
The classroom was huge. Yet enveloped by these nosy assholes, I felt it shrink in my face.
“You don’t remember us?” Said the porcupine. He had blond spikes for hair that stood like he was always horrified. But he was horrifying. He had yellowed teeth and a breath of cigar smoke.
I stiffly answered. “No. I really don’t.”
“We’re your buddies, bro,” croaked the tree frog. He had wide bulging eyes that his sockets barely restrained. Beneath the sleeve of his polo, I could see a skull tattoo. He couldn’t be a buddy of mine.
“Have you got amnesia?” exclaimed the last of them, the tiger. Dark orange hair. Strong jaws. Robust build. Fierce grey eyes. Who the hell are they?
“Yeah. I have amnesia. I’ve forgotten a lot.” That’s all it took to silence the animals. But after a moment, an evil grin drew across their snouts.
The tiger growled, “Well then, we’ll make you remember.”

Throughout the day, I could see this girl weirdly gazing at me. I guessed she could be someone I knew too. But she didn’t accost me until the dismissal of our last class in Mechanical Engineering.
Up-close, I saw she had sincere blue eyes, cascading brown hair, cream skin, and a stunning figure. So, I might had had one decent friend at least.
She spoke in a voice that I ought to have loved before because it made me want to hear it more. “Wil, I heard from your mom you have amnesia.”
She’s close to my mom. I thought that a good thing.
“Yes. And you are?”
She blushed. “It feels awkward to reintroduce myself you know. When you’ve known me for four years. Anyway, I’m Gwen.”
“Gwen.” The name squeezed out a few images. And they became vivid in her presence. The smiles in those memories, the vibrancy were all repainted by her meek grin. And the notes and melodies in them were all plucked into music once again by her voice. It was painful but it was bliss. Yet, something was still amiss. In those moments that searingly flickered to my reminiscence, it was not just the two of us. There was another face.
She said, “Anyway those three assholes this morning, they’re telling the truth. They’re your friends. Don’t worry.”
I was more scared than surprised. “They are?”
She mumbled gently, her cheeks reddened, “You know, you’re more like him now. I can almost see him in you.”
“I’m more like who?”
“Francis.”

Mr. Joeffrey Gil was far left back in the old days. He had this wavy mustache and well-combed goatee. He was a man of terror but those facial hairs made him look like a joke.
Boasting his full six-feet and two-inch height, he loomed over me and groaned, “In your current state, you have to review for two years to take the remedial and special exams. You’ve missed a lot Mr. Hurthon and now you’ve forgotten everything.” He coughed, “Anyway, even without amnesia, you won’t remember a thing.” He snickered.
I loathed him right there and I could bet my life I had wanted to murder him once before.
I’d stab him in a different way. “I’ll take them all tomorrow.”
He snapped to his strict posture. “Tomorrow? You’re committing suicide?”
“Well it seems that I am.”
His lips arched to a silly devilish grin. “Tomorrow it is then.”

Someone was texting me, maybe one of my animal friends. His phonebook name was Fart-thing. “The abandoned house off Green Street. 12 midnight.”
I didn’t know any abandoned house in Green Street and even if I did, I won’t go there. I needed to read eight books this evening for tomorrow so I turned off my phone and started to flip my book open. Then my mom stepped in.
“Wil, I thought you might want to have this. You were holding it after the accident.” She said as she unfolded her palm to reveal a ring, its silver surface glinting. Upon giving me that, she left bearing hope I might remember something. But then she came back, displaying an astonished look in her face. She mused, “You’re studying?”
“Well, I’m hungry and I’m just dining on these books, if that’s what it seems.”
“Studying on your own?”
“Come on, Mom. Is there anybody with me besides you? It’s not like you can do engineering.”
“No, it’s just – Never mind.” She left. It didn’t seem like she knew me after all.
I scrutinized the ring. On the inner surface, it was etched in flowing letters: We are One.
I didn’t have much time to waste to give it much thought. I flipped my book open and saw a pitiful sight. What a mess! This isn’t even writing anymore. Mysteriously, as I turn more pages, another handwriting appeared. More legible and not crooked. It was more like mine.

“YOU CHEATED YOU SCUMBAG OF AN IDIOT!” Mr. Gil yelled at me, his voice booming about the faculty office where many professors watched eagerly. He went on, “I’ll see to it you get expelled.”
I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “You were there, Sir.” Guarding like a filthy vulture waiting for meat to scavenge. “If I have cheated, you would have noticed.”
“Your scores in my last exams are mostly zeroes. Your highest score is half the passing. Then you suddenly perfect all your tests with a review of one night!”
“With all due respect Sir, next time find more difficult questions so that I would need what I reviewed on. If I hadn’t read those books, I would still have perfected them.” I went for the door and slammed it in their stunned faces.
Now, I’d stabbed him. Deep.

The miracle spread by word of gaping mouths. I suddenly became the most popular guy in school. Many came to see me, asking what cheating tricks I used to pull it off. If using stock knowledge to perfect exams is cheating, then let it be.
But what terrible scores I had had before. Zeroes? Seriously? Was I that bad at it? Well I think amnesia changes a lot.
Gwen came to see me too. She congratulated me with a kiss on the cheek that my mom kept on hitting. Then she shook my hand and I saw it. The silver ring.
Why did she have the other? And why was the other with me? I couldn’t gain the courage to ask her.

Opportunities came along. I became a quizzer for the college and I always brought them the highest prize. Every club wanted me in. I refused half of them. With my schedules tight and crowded, I still found time to read. Then my fourth-year theoretical explorations was featured in an international journal. It was about a nearly ideal energy-generating device that used magnetic suspension and concepts that not even my professors could understand.
I did not go as far as special relativity, it had suffered enough vandalism. I won’t put my name on such a field that almost every physicist had explored. However my career reached its pinnacle when my face made it to the Times, naming me as The Most Intelligent Man on earth.
Soon enough, Harvard came for me. They offered a course that’d get me into working at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland in three years. It meant I won’t come to my fifth year with my classmates, with Gwen. I’d have to leave them behind.

It was the night after the graduation day. My three forest friends came up to me and Craig Furtein, the tiger, said, “You still don’t remember us?”
The frog, Henry Harrison, walked up to me, holding a handkerchief. “We told your mom we’re having fun for a while.” He thrust the cloth to my mouth and heavy sleep overwhelmed me.

I felt like I had slept through another coma when I found myself in a dingy dimly lit mansion. My body felt so heavy I could not stand. Squinting through my eyelids that weighed like tons, I could barely make out the shadows that moved around me, their voices fading in the incessant ringing in my ears. I could hear people yelling, an erratic siren of an approaching ambulance and the whispering of my own voice.
“Francis?”
A man lay splayed next to me, bathing in a pool of blood.
Then someone stirred me awake. “Wil.”
It was the porcupine, Dan. “You’re finally awake.”
It was already the break of dawn. I demanded, “Why did you bring me here? I’m off to Cambridge this afternoon. I have to go home.”
“It’s that stupid scholarship!” Craig growled.
“This is kidnapping. It’s a cruel way to treat a friend.”
Craig said, “You almost sound like him.”
“Do you know who I am?”
Henry replied, “You have amnesia, we don’t.”
“I am the most intelligent man on this planet.”
They stared blankly at me. I won’t talk to them ever again.
Dan looked encouraging but with the indelible look of menace in his eyes. “It’ll take only a while. Let’s do it.”
“Do what?”
He passed me an orange shabby basketball. “It’s two on two.”
“Look I don’t play ball.”
Henry chuckled, “It was Francis who didn’t play ball.”
I had to admit the curved edge of the sphere fitted my palms so perfectly as if they were molded to hold it. A tinge of desire welled within me. One heavy sigh and the trembling in my knees yielded to comfort and confidence.
As I played, everything was instinct. The dribble, the pass and the shots. My feet had their own minds. Why have I forgotten so much?
Toweling ourselves in the basketball court in the yard of the deserted house, Craig looked unlike himself. He sat so pensive, deep in his thoughts.
He spoke, “You’re gonna regret it.”
All three pairs of eyes were suddenly on me. “It’s my future.”
Henry said, “We don’t know how you turned into a freaking genius but you won’t be happy there.”
“I’ll be happy there and I want to go there.” I stressed.
Craig shrugged, “You don’t even know what makes you happy anymore. You’ve forgotten everything.”
“Then tell me, who is Francis? Is he dead?”
Dread surfaced in me. They nodded. Craig explained, “We’re your lifelong buddies. He was your college best friend.”
A throbbing pain shot through my skull. The images that flashed were clear as daylight. I have killed my best friend.

Francis had calm blue eyes, dark silk tufts, and a smile that could put entropy at ease. His voice floated, “Hi, I’ll be your tutor. I’ll help you.”
They were at the library. “This is Gwen, my girlfriend. You must have met in class.”
The motorcycle ride. “The light’s green! WAIT!”
“Wow, that was dangerously awesome.”
He was scanning his books. “What a mess! This isn’t even writing anymore.”
Francis was with Gwen, their hands fastened inseparably. And I was trying to blink away my thoughts but still they materialized. If Francis was not here, will I have a chance with her?
Then the rings. He was saying to me, “What do you think? Are they good enough?”
Then the accident. “Hold it slow. We still have to graduate.”
I shouted, my voice lost in the winds, “IT’S FINE!”
“Wil, we’re going too fast!”
A truck whizzed from a corner. Then it was pitch black.
I woke up dazed, my body sprawled on the pavement. I suffered bruises and a few fractures. A couple of feet away, Francis lay maimed and bloody. A pool of red spread rapidly around him. His breathing was labored. He was still alive, but barely.
I forced a few words out, “You have to live. You cannot die.” My only thoughts were I should be in his place. I ought to have met this fate alone.
When I snapped out of my recollection, I only found more reason to leave.

The baggage was ready. It was time to part with my past and live out an entirely different future. But I went to gaze upon the violated pages of my books for a last time. My handwriting was once a mess. How humiliating. Francis, how did I become you? How did I even surpass you? My will ought to have been so determined.
I reached for another book and toppled a pile. A few books dropped to the floor. Then as if summoned, the silver ring rolled towards me, its sound so eerily familiar. Another fragment of my lost memories seeped into my consciousness.
It was the night of the accident. Francis lay helplessly but he managed to speak against all that pain raking his body, “I know what you feel for her. Promise me you’ll take care of her.” He gruelingly slipped the ring from his finger and rolled it towards me. “Please…” Then his eyes shut with a smooth finality.
I ran as fast as I could. And then she was there, sitting in solitude in the silence of the city library. It was their favorite spot.
She looked up curiously. “You’re off to Harvard. Have you forgotten something?”
I did. A lot. I panted, “No. I remembered something.”
She looked perplexed. I reached into my pocket and showed the ring to her. “I have a promise to fulfill.”
She didn’t speak.
“You see I was the worst idiot. My life is laid in front of me and I was too blind to see it.”
She found her voice, “What do you mean? How about your dreams?”
“I’ve hurt you more than you could feel,” I said, “You see, you are my dream. Although my mind forgot, my heart remembered.”
I slipped the ring into my fingers and held her hand, “Now I’ll take care of you.”
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Juice
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