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Lucky Man

"Look at this parking lot. You can't even fit a bicycle in between the cars." Peter continued to assess the area for empty spaces. "This is what we get for waiting till the last minute to shop on New Year's Eve. Toni, I'll pull up in front of the store. You jump out. Meet you after I park this beast."

"Okay, remember to bring the grocery sacks," instructed his wife unbuckling her seat belt. "We don't need much. Meet me at the fresh meat counter."

Nodding his head, he replied, "I've never seen this parking lot so full. I'll probably have to park across the street at the mall." He turned to his wife and smiled, "Now get in line my sweet. We want to make this a short shop."

The automatic doors welcomed Toni into the supermarket. She stopped before the next set of doors opened. This is ridiculous. All the shopping carts are gone. She grabbed the last red plastic basket sitting on the floor.

The second set of doors opened. The determined shopper continued undaunted by the long lines. Toni arrived at the fresh meat and seafood counter. "Excuse me sir, is this the end of the line?"

Without looking at her, a man in a blue coat standing in front of her answered, "Yes!"

She watched as shoppers navigated the line to view the available selections. Four butchers assisted every customer with smiles to calm their uneasiness. Every sale ended with a Happy New Year.

Toni unbuttoned her wool coat, untied her magenta scarf, and placed it in her basket. She passed time by circling items in the store's flyer to complete her shopping list.

"Excuse me Miss, is this the line for seafood or meat?" Asked a man facing her with a fedora, tweed jacket, glasses, and goatee.

"Thanks for calling me miss," responded Toni, lifting her head from her makeshift list. “I don't think they divided the line."

"Well, I'm in a hurry. I was hoping I could get in a shorter line," replied the man as he wiped his glasses. “Now, what is on sale?"

She waited for the man to raise his head before replying. When his eyes met hers, she did not answer.

He took a deep breath. Put his glasses back on his face. His cheeks flared red with embarrassment. "I'm an inexperienced shopper. Forgive my terrible manners."

The young woman recognized the apology. "I know what I want.” Would you like the weekly sales flyer? You can look through it as you wait in line."

"That's kind of you." The man answered as he shifted from one leg to another. "Do you have a lot to buy?"

"Are you in a hurry?" Toni responded with a soft smile.

"Well, my wife's out of town visiting our daughter. I'm suppose to bring some fish to a friend's house for a New Year's Eve party. I can't decide between the salmon or halibut."

"Do you know if your host prefers wild caught or farmed fish?"

He looked up from the grocery ad and asked in a louder voice, "Are fish farmed?"

Trying to assess his needs, she inquired, "Do you and your wife and shop together?"

Shaking his head while untying his scarf, the man answered. "I never go to the grocery store." He surveyed the area and asked in a softer voice, "Is it always this busy?

Sensing the shopper's anxiety, she offered her help. "If I'm going to be your shopping assistant, call me Toni."

"Oh excuse me, I'm Isaac."

"Nice to meet you."

Toni explained the difference between farmed and wild caught fish. She gave him the details of when halibut and salmon are in season. She explained the terms 'fresh' and 'previously frozen.' "It looks like I'll be next. I'm waiting for my husband, why don't you get in front of me."

Isaac stepped in front of the resourceful shopper. He handed her the flyer. "Thanks for your help." He selected his order with swift precision. As he turned to allow his assistant shopper to step up to the counter he said, "Thank you, Toni. Does your husband know he is one lucky man?"

"Who's a lucky man Isaac?" Pete's voice boomed over Toni's head "Do you shop here often?"

"Pete! My wife left for New York to immerse herself in new role as grandmother. Are you here shopping for your wife?"

"No, it seems you two are shopping together."

Isaac turned, winked at Toni who was giving instruction to the butcher. "She only gave me her first name. She took pity on an old man abandoned by his wife."

"Don't consider it pity. She talks to everyone. I can't leave her alone too long. She picks up strangers on a regular basis."

"I hope you know she is a keeper. You’re a lucky man. So glad you accepted our offer to teach in our department."

Toni joined the two men and handed the basket to her husband. Isaac tipped his hat towards the generous woman and pronounced, "Don't ever stop talking to the world. Your help eased the task. You'll be a bright addition at the faculty soirees."

He tucked his fish under his arm, tipped his hat towards Toni, and smiled. He stepped closer to Pete, placed his free hand on his shoulder, "Cherish her, you lucky man. You're a very lucky man."

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Written by patwcoffey5
Lucky Man
"Look at this parking lot. You can't even fit a bicycle in between the cars." Peter continued to assess the area for empty spaces. "This is what we get for waiting till the last minute to shop on New Year's Eve. Toni, I'll pull up in front of the store. You jump out. Meet you after I park this beast."

"Okay, remember to bring the grocery sacks," instructed his wife unbuckling her seat belt. "We don't need much. Meet me at the fresh meat counter."

Nodding his head, he replied, "I've never seen this parking lot so full. I'll probably have to park across the street at the mall." He turned to his wife and smiled, "Now get in line my sweet. We want to make this a short shop."

The automatic doors welcomed Toni into the supermarket. She stopped before the next set of doors opened. This is ridiculous. All the shopping carts are gone. She grabbed the last red plastic basket sitting on the floor.

The second set of doors opened. The determined shopper continued undaunted by the long lines. Toni arrived at the fresh meat and seafood counter. "Excuse me sir, is this the end of the line?"

Without looking at her, a man in a blue coat standing in front of her answered, "Yes!"

She watched as shoppers navigated the line to view the available selections. Four butchers assisted every customer with smiles to calm their uneasiness. Every sale ended with a Happy New Year.

Toni unbuttoned her wool coat, untied her magenta scarf, and placed it in her basket. She passed time by circling items in the store's flyer to complete her shopping list.

"Excuse me Miss, is this the line for seafood or meat?" Asked a man facing her with a fedora, tweed jacket, glasses, and goatee.

"Thanks for calling me miss," responded Toni, lifting her head from her makeshift list. “I don't think they divided the line."

"Well, I'm in a hurry. I was hoping I could get in a shorter line," replied the man as he wiped his glasses. “Now, what is on sale?"

She waited for the man to raise his head before replying. When his eyes met hers, she did not answer.

He took a deep breath. Put his glasses back on his face. His cheeks flared red with embarrassment. "I'm an inexperienced shopper. Forgive my terrible manners."

The young woman recognized the apology. "I know what I want.” Would you like the weekly sales flyer? You can look through it as you wait in line."

"That's kind of you." The man answered as he shifted from one leg to another. "Do you have a lot to buy?"

"Are you in a hurry?" Toni responded with a soft smile.

"Well, my wife's out of town visiting our daughter. I'm suppose to bring some fish to a friend's house for a New Year's Eve party. I can't decide between the salmon or halibut."

"Do you know if your host prefers wild caught or farmed fish?"

He looked up from the grocery ad and asked in a louder voice, "Are fish farmed?"

Trying to assess his needs, she inquired, "Do you and your wife and shop together?"

Shaking his head while untying his scarf, the man answered. "I never go to the grocery store." He surveyed the area and asked in a softer voice, "Is it always this busy?

Sensing the shopper's anxiety, she offered her help. "If I'm going to be your shopping assistant, call me Toni."

"Oh excuse me, I'm Isaac."

"Nice to meet you."

Toni explained the difference between farmed and wild caught fish. She gave him the details of when halibut and salmon are in season. She explained the terms 'fresh' and 'previously frozen.' "It looks like I'll be next. I'm waiting for my husband, why don't you get in front of me."

Isaac stepped in front of the resourceful shopper. He handed her the flyer. "Thanks for your help." He selected his order with swift precision. As he turned to allow his assistant shopper to step up to the counter he said, "Thank you, Toni. Does your husband know he is one lucky man?"

"Who's a lucky man Isaac?" Pete's voice boomed over Toni's head "Do you shop here often?"

"Pete! My wife left for New York to immerse herself in new role as grandmother. Are you here shopping for your wife?"

"No, it seems you two are shopping together."

Isaac turned, winked at Toni who was giving instruction to the butcher. "She only gave me her first name. She took pity on an old man abandoned by his wife."

"Don't consider it pity. She talks to everyone. I can't leave her alone too long. She picks up strangers on a regular basis."

"I hope you know she is a keeper. You’re a lucky man. So glad you accepted our offer to teach in our department."

Toni joined the two men and handed the basket to her husband. Isaac tipped his hat towards the generous woman and pronounced, "Don't ever stop talking to the world. Your help eased the task. You'll be a bright addition at the faculty soirees."

He tucked his fish under his arm, tipped his hat towards Toni, and smiled. He stepped closer to Pete, placed his free hand on his shoulder, "Cherish her, you lucky man. You're a very lucky man."
#fiction  #prosechallenge  #Itslit  #getlit 
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Written by wardnerm

Saving Myself

My alternate universe self got laid a lot more than I did. But at night, in the dream space where the barriers separating the realities were less fixed, I caught glimpses of his sexcapades. Every night he slept with a different partner- some beautiful, some plain, some fat, some thin. I grew concerned. Who were these women that he brought home night after night? What about disease?

I had to help him. I read in a comic book that it was possible to run fast enough to alter your vibration so as to be in tune with the frequency of an alternate universe.

I went to the gym. I hopped on a treadmill. I ran as fast as I could. I wanted to stop but I knew that I was the only hope for the alternate me. I ran until I was so exhausted that I slipped and fell. I blacked out.

When I woke on the gym floor, a woman wearing gym shorts and leg warmers was helping me. She smelled good. She was nice.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

I said I was. I thanked her. I realized that I was probably in their alternate universe now. I realized that she was probably one of the women that my alternate self would take to bed. I decided to play along. I decided to act like my alternate self. I was more confident. I didn't talk as much.

“Yes,” I said. “Thanks to you. What is your name?”

“Rose.”

“That's beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“Rose, can I take you to dinner?”

“I have a boyfriend.”

“He's a lucky man, Rose-- I hope he treats you like a queen. Because that's how I would treat you, Rose.”

“You're bleeding,” she said.

She was right. I had hit my head. Rose took me to the emergency room but didn't wait around with me for the doctor. Already I felt a new lightness knowing that things were different here. And I had saved myself from a potentially dangerous sex encounter with this gym woman; exotic name or not, a lot of nasty germs live in gymnasiums.

As I was checking out, I discovered that this alternate reality took my insurance card. I got a cab. They took my money too! And when I stumbled up to the alternate reality apartment, I was surprised to find my key worked in that door’s lock.

Once inside the apartment of the alternate me, I cautiously entered, expecting my doppleganger to be there. But the apartment was empty and I collapsed in my double’s bed, exhausted. I dreamed. I had a shocking realization that woke me immediately. Sitting straight up in bed, I shook with wild comprehension.

It was all too clear: my double had sensed my trespass into his sphere and had simultaneously entered into my world—his alternate universe. And while there he sought to usurp my place. With lascivious intent, he entered my life and was determined to sully the straight-laced, chaste, and altogether good life that I lived. How cunning and cruel he proved to be—to take my exact plan exactly in reverse! But what else could I expect from someone just like me but altogether opposite? And then I had a second and more profound realization: each night, he must have also seen into my world just as I had seen into his. And surely, he had the same but mirrored reaction to my life and the way I choose to live it. Where I saw carnal licentiousness in his life, he saw something altogether different in mine.

I wondered what, but immediately stopped—realizing that asking that question was exactly what he wanted. To introduce the idea of something else in my pure temple of a mind would only encourage it to grow. And fester. And… stop, I thought! No more! I would not fall into his trap.

I must abandon this mission of mine and return to my reality. I immediately left the apartment and headed to the gym. I walked through the doors of the 24 hour health club and presented my membership card. The receptionist expressed some concern at the wound on my head but I was determined and headed straight toward the treadmill.

Now I must note that I was completely aware that this bold move was not without risk. Surely, in his post-coital slumber my double had gazed into my reality and could see my trajectory toward the treadmill. I imagined a half-dressed me, reeking of sexual congress, sprinting toward the fitness center. And so we had a race.

The room was empty so late at night. I mounted the treadmill and burst into a quick trot. If I had learned anything from my last ill-fated inter-dimensional adventure, it was to hold on to the handrails. Too much was counting on this.

As I started to run I knew that my frequency was changing ever so slightly. Soon I would be returning to my dimension. I looked across the dark, empty room and saw my doppelganger running just as fast as I was on an identical treadmill. He mockingly mimicked my stunned expression and met my pace stride for stride. I gave it everything I had. Surely he had burnt some energy in his last sexual conquest? Energy of which I had untapped reserves.

How long we continued like this I could not say—I looked at the timer on the treadmill: five minutes! My God, I thought, how much longer? I was huffing and puffing. A sidelong glance revealed that he was equally tired. I made a fateful decision to employ some more dastardly means to achieve victory. I reached for a cup left in the drink-holder. I grabbed it and, as hard as I could, I hurled it at him. It bounced across the glass leaving a dark liquid spill on the mirror. I smiled knowing this must have slowed him down. But this victory was short-lived.

"Sir, you are not using the gym equipment properly,” the receptionist said. She marched over and pressed a large red button. The treadmill immediately began to slow down and so too my hopes.

I pushed past to get back on the treadmill but she grabbed me. She was very strong (she clearly took advantage of her employee membership). She hurried me toward the lobby and outside.

I gazed at the city lights. Surely my double had won our race through the dimensions. But which reality did he choose? Mine? Or his own?

I started to walk toward my/his apartment. And then I saw me -- standing up the street staring right back.

"Nice race," I said.

"Thanks. I guess you won."

"Let me get you a drink."

There was a bar up the street I was known to frequent. My double ordered us drinks and we sat in a booth opposite each other.

"So-- do we have a problem? I mean, do I need to get a restraining order?" he asked.

"I won't be able to come within 100 feet of myself!" I said, cracking myself up. We laughed for a good minute and that seemed to break the ice. He scanned the bar like a hungry shark. There were a few other people drinking and a cute bartender.

“Look—every night I go to bed and I have dreams,” he said. “Dreams of sitting in my apartment alone. Reading comic books. Watching bad TV.”

I bristled a bit. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a condom and put it on the table.

“There you go, tiger. Problem solved.”

I looked at it.

“Now—go order a drink from that bartender. Chat her up.”

I stared at him.

“Really. I look at you, I see myself-- but pure and clean and totally sad. Now, my life is not perfect. I am completely alone. I probably always will be. I don’t know the answer for me. But I think I know what you need. Get up there.”

I walked to the bar. The bartender walked over.

“Do you come here often?” I asked.

“Yeah, every night for about eight hours,” she said.

This was going better than I hoped.

“What can I get you?”

“The same as before. And one for my friend over there.”

“There’s nobody there.”

“Okay, one then.”

She went to make a drink for me. I looked back at the booth. Empty. I reached inside my pocket and felt the condom. It was exciting and scary. Like holding a loaded gun.

If comic books had taught me anything about alternate dimensions it was that once you interfered with one you actually created a new one. So if you were from Earth-one and went to Earth-two, then you created Earth-three -- a whole other reality. As I thought about it, I realized that might be time-travel. But I don’t think it really mattered because who knows what was possible?

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Written by wardnerm
Saving Myself
My alternate universe self got laid a lot more than I did. But at night, in the dream space where the barriers separating the realities were less fixed, I caught glimpses of his sexcapades. Every night he slept with a different partner- some beautiful, some plain, some fat, some thin. I grew concerned. Who were these women that he brought home night after night? What about disease?
I had to help him. I read in a comic book that it was possible to run fast enough to alter your vibration so as to be in tune with the frequency of an alternate universe.
I went to the gym. I hopped on a treadmill. I ran as fast as I could. I wanted to stop but I knew that I was the only hope for the alternate me. I ran until I was so exhausted that I slipped and fell. I blacked out.
When I woke on the gym floor, a woman wearing gym shorts and leg warmers was helping me. She smelled good. She was nice.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
I said I was. I thanked her. I realized that I was probably in their alternate universe now. I realized that she was probably one of the women that my alternate self would take to bed. I decided to play along. I decided to act like my alternate self. I was more confident. I didn't talk as much.
“Yes,” I said. “Thanks to you. What is your name?”
“Rose.”
“That's beautiful.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“Rose, can I take you to dinner?”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“He's a lucky man, Rose-- I hope he treats you like a queen. Because that's how I would treat you, Rose.”
“You're bleeding,” she said.
She was right. I had hit my head. Rose took me to the emergency room but didn't wait around with me for the doctor. Already I felt a new lightness knowing that things were different here. And I had saved myself from a potentially dangerous sex encounter with this gym woman; exotic name or not, a lot of nasty germs live in gymnasiums.
As I was checking out, I discovered that this alternate reality took my insurance card. I got a cab. They took my money too! And when I stumbled up to the alternate reality apartment, I was surprised to find my key worked in that door’s lock.
Once inside the apartment of the alternate me, I cautiously entered, expecting my doppleganger to be there. But the apartment was empty and I collapsed in my double’s bed, exhausted. I dreamed. I had a shocking realization that woke me immediately. Sitting straight up in bed, I shook with wild comprehension.
It was all too clear: my double had sensed my trespass into his sphere and had simultaneously entered into my world—his alternate universe. And while there he sought to usurp my place. With lascivious intent, he entered my life and was determined to sully the straight-laced, chaste, and altogether good life that I lived. How cunning and cruel he proved to be—to take my exact plan exactly in reverse! But what else could I expect from someone just like me but altogether opposite? And then I had a second and more profound realization: each night, he must have also seen into my world just as I had seen into his. And surely, he had the same but mirrored reaction to my life and the way I choose to live it. Where I saw carnal licentiousness in his life, he saw something altogether different in mine.
I wondered what, but immediately stopped—realizing that asking that question was exactly what he wanted. To introduce the idea of something else in my pure temple of a mind would only encourage it to grow. And fester. And… stop, I thought! No more! I would not fall into his trap.
I must abandon this mission of mine and return to my reality. I immediately left the apartment and headed to the gym. I walked through the doors of the 24 hour health club and presented my membership card. The receptionist expressed some concern at the wound on my head but I was determined and headed straight toward the treadmill.
Now I must note that I was completely aware that this bold move was not without risk. Surely, in his post-coital slumber my double had gazed into my reality and could see my trajectory toward the treadmill. I imagined a half-dressed me, reeking of sexual congress, sprinting toward the fitness center. And so we had a race.
The room was empty so late at night. I mounted the treadmill and burst into a quick trot. If I had learned anything from my last ill-fated inter-dimensional adventure, it was to hold on to the handrails. Too much was counting on this.
As I started to run I knew that my frequency was changing ever so slightly. Soon I would be returning to my dimension. I looked across the dark, empty room and saw my doppelganger running just as fast as I was on an identical treadmill. He mockingly mimicked my stunned expression and met my pace stride for stride. I gave it everything I had. Surely he had burnt some energy in his last sexual conquest? Energy of which I had untapped reserves.
How long we continued like this I could not say—I looked at the timer on the treadmill: five minutes! My God, I thought, how much longer? I was huffing and puffing. A sidelong glance revealed that he was equally tired. I made a fateful decision to employ some more dastardly means to achieve victory. I reached for a cup left in the drink-holder. I grabbed it and, as hard as I could, I hurled it at him. It bounced across the glass leaving a dark liquid spill on the mirror. I smiled knowing this must have slowed him down. But this victory was short-lived.
"Sir, you are not using the gym equipment properly,” the receptionist said. She marched over and pressed a large red button. The treadmill immediately began to slow down and so too my hopes.
I pushed past to get back on the treadmill but she grabbed me. She was very strong (she clearly took advantage of her employee membership). She hurried me toward the lobby and outside.
I gazed at the city lights. Surely my double had won our race through the dimensions. But which reality did he choose? Mine? Or his own?
I started to walk toward my/his apartment. And then I saw me -- standing up the street staring right back.
"Nice race," I said.
"Thanks. I guess you won."
"Let me get you a drink."
There was a bar up the street I was known to frequent. My double ordered us drinks and we sat in a booth opposite each other.
"So-- do we have a problem? I mean, do I need to get a restraining order?" he asked.
"I won't be able to come within 100 feet of myself!" I said, cracking myself up. We laughed for a good minute and that seemed to break the ice. He scanned the bar like a hungry shark. There were a few other people drinking and a cute bartender.
“Look—every night I go to bed and I have dreams,” he said. “Dreams of sitting in my apartment alone. Reading comic books. Watching bad TV.”
I bristled a bit. He reached into his wallet and pulled out a condom and put it on the table.
“There you go, tiger. Problem solved.”
I looked at it.
“Now—go order a drink from that bartender. Chat her up.”
I stared at him.
“Really. I look at you, I see myself-- but pure and clean and totally sad. Now, my life is not perfect. I am completely alone. I probably always will be. I don’t know the answer for me. But I think I know what you need. Get up there.”
I walked to the bar. The bartender walked over.
“Do you come here often?” I asked.
“Yeah, every night for about eight hours,” she said.
This was going better than I hoped.
“What can I get you?”
“The same as before. And one for my friend over there.”
“There’s nobody there.”
“Okay, one then.”
She went to make a drink for me. I looked back at the booth. Empty. I reached inside my pocket and felt the condom. It was exciting and scary. Like holding a loaded gun.
If comic books had taught me anything about alternate dimensions it was that once you interfered with one you actually created a new one. So if you were from Earth-one and went to Earth-two, then you created Earth-three -- a whole other reality. As I thought about it, I realized that might be time-travel. But I don’t think it really mattered because who knows what was possible?






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Prose countdown coin challenge. Write the first chapter of your bestseller in 50 to 500 words. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and how many shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive 1000 coins! When sharing to all your social media channels, please use the hashtags #LitUp #GetLit #ItsLit #Hybrid #WeAre
Written by wardnerm

Saving Myself

My alternate universe self got laid a lot more than I did. But at night, in the dream space where the barriers separating the realities were less fixed, I caught glimpses of his sexcapades. Every night he slept with a different partner- some beautiful, some plain, some fat, some thin. I grew concerned. Who were these women that he brought home night after night? What about disease?

I had to help him. I read in a comic book that it was possible to run fast enough to alter your vibration so as to be in tune with the frequency of an alternate universe.

I went to the gym. I hopped on a treadmill. I ran as fast as I could. I wanted to stop but I knew that I was the only hope for the alternate me. I ran until I was so exhausted that I slipped and fell. I blacked out.

When I woke on the gym floor, a woman wearing gym shorts and leg warmers was helping me. She smelled good. She was nice.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

I said I was. I thanked her. I realized that I was probably in their alternate universe now. I realized that she was probably one of the women that my alternate self would take to bed. I decided to play along. I decided to act like my alternate self. I was more confident. I didn't talk as much.

“Yes,” I said. “Thanks to you. What is your name?”

“Rose.”

“That's beautiful.”

“Thank you,” she said.

“Rose, can I take you to dinner?”

“I have a boyfriend.”

“He's a lucky man, Rose-- I hope he treats you like a queen. Because that's how I would treat you, Rose.”

“You're bleeding,” she said.

She was right. I had hit my head. Rose took me to the emergency room but didn't wait around with me for the doctor. Already I felt a new lightness knowing that things were different here. And I had saved myself from a potentially dangerous sex encounter with this gym woman; exotic name or not, a lot of nasty germs live in gymnasiums.

As I was checking out, I discovered that this alternate reality took my insurance card. I got a cab. They took my money too! And when I stumbled up to the alternate reality apartment, I was surprised to find my key worked in that door’s lock.

Once inside the apartment of the alternate me, I cautiously entered, expecting my doppleganger to be there. But the apartment was empty and I collapsed in my double’s bed, exhausted. I dreamed. I had a shocking realization that woke me immediately. Sitting straight up in bed, I shook with wild comprehension.

It was all too clear: my double had sensed my trespass into his sphere and had simultaneously entered into my world—his alternate universe. And while there he sought to usurp my place. 

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Prose countdown coin challenge. Write the first chapter of your bestseller in 50 to 500 words. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and how many shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive 1000 coins! When sharing to all your social media channels, please use the hashtags #LitUp #GetLit #ItsLit #Hybrid #WeAre
Written by wardnerm
Saving Myself
My alternate universe self got laid a lot more than I did. But at night, in the dream space where the barriers separating the realities were less fixed, I caught glimpses of his sexcapades. Every night he slept with a different partner- some beautiful, some plain, some fat, some thin. I grew concerned. Who were these women that he brought home night after night? What about disease?
I had to help him. I read in a comic book that it was possible to run fast enough to alter your vibration so as to be in tune with the frequency of an alternate universe.
I went to the gym. I hopped on a treadmill. I ran as fast as I could. I wanted to stop but I knew that I was the only hope for the alternate me. I ran until I was so exhausted that I slipped and fell. I blacked out.
When I woke on the gym floor, a woman wearing gym shorts and leg warmers was helping me. She smelled good. She was nice.
“Are you all right?” she asked.
I said I was. I thanked her. I realized that I was probably in their alternate universe now. I realized that she was probably one of the women that my alternate self would take to bed. I decided to play along. I decided to act like my alternate self. I was more confident. I didn't talk as much.
“Yes,” I said. “Thanks to you. What is your name?”
“Rose.”
“That's beautiful.”
“Thank you,” she said.
“Rose, can I take you to dinner?”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“He's a lucky man, Rose-- I hope he treats you like a queen. Because that's how I would treat you, Rose.”
“You're bleeding,” she said.
She was right. I had hit my head. Rose took me to the emergency room but didn't wait around with me for the doctor. Already I felt a new lightness knowing that things were different here. And I had saved myself from a potentially dangerous sex encounter with this gym woman; exotic name or not, a lot of nasty germs live in gymnasiums.
As I was checking out, I discovered that this alternate reality took my insurance card. I got a cab. They took my money too! And when I stumbled up to the alternate reality apartment, I was surprised to find my key worked in that door’s lock.
Once inside the apartment of the alternate me, I cautiously entered, expecting my doppleganger to be there. But the apartment was empty and I collapsed in my double’s bed, exhausted. I dreamed. I had a shocking realization that woke me immediately. Sitting straight up in bed, I shook with wild comprehension.
It was all too clear: my double had sensed my trespass into his sphere and had simultaneously entered into my world—his alternate universe. And while there he sought to usurp my place. 
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The Copperplate Awards | Short Fiction Write a piece of fiction where a lie is unearthed. Judges will be basing their decisions on fire, form, content, and creative edge. They will also pay particular attention to grammar, spelling, and formatting. Previous entrants are welcome to resubmit their entries with edits. Submissions are evaluated by Prose and a trusted panel of judges.
Written by BeckRobertson

Being Zoe

Would Zoe ever notice she existed? Cat watched her from across the office, drinking in every detail of the dark haired girl’s appearance. Zoe was so effortlessly chic, her silk blouse elegantly nipped in at the waist, her black cigarette pants showcasing slender ankles.

Her boyfriend was a lucky man, Zoe could have anyone she wanted. It must be nice to be desired like that. Most of the time people didn’t even seem to realise Cat existed.

“Cat.” The voice snapped her out of her daydream.

“Huh?” Looking up she saw John Walters, her boss and Zoe’s boyfriend. He was undeniably attractive with blonde hair and high Nordic cheekbones but he didn’t deserve Zoe in Cat’s opinion. How could anyone?

“That concept you thought up’s gone viral. Over ten million views, its only been up half a day.”

“Really?” She was a little taken aback.

“Yep. Good work girl. I’m taking you to lunch at Carlo’s.”

“You don’t have to do that John. It was just a lucky idea.” Well it was true, she wasn’t being self-effacing.

“No protests. I want to.” He chucked her under the chin gently, forcing her to tip her face up to look into his bright blue eyes.

“You’re an interesting one you are,” he said, turning her face one way then the other, before releasing her and turning away to walk off. She stared at his retreating back feeling slightly bemused. What did that mean? Out of the corner of her eye she spied Zoe crossing the office, and she swivelled in her chair to watch her.

That body, god what she wouldn’t give...

She scribbled down what Zoe was wearing in her eggshell coloured suede notebook, exactly the same type as the one Zoe used herself. She felt closer to Zoe by buying the same things she did, wearing the same clothes.

Today she was wearing the exact outfit she’d seen Zoe in three weeks ago. Maybe today Zoe would finally notice her.

                                                                       ***

At lunch Walters caught her by the elbow, steering her out of the office, and into the lift.

“You’re coming with me,” he said. Nodding, she acquiesced; there was no getting out of it now. At least she might learn more about Zoe, he was her boyfriend after all.

It was strange, she’d never really noticed girls before Zoe but now the woman occupied nearly every waking hour of her thoughts. They entered the restaurant, which was packed with the usual lunch crowd; braying office workers slurping glasses of chardonnay and chomping down their salmon on a bed of wild rocket. The word that sprung to mind was pretentious.

“Everyone who’s anyone in PR eats here Cat,” John said, bending his head to her ear as they stood in line behind dozens of people waiting for a table.

“Michael,” he said, spying a dark haired young waiter, who nodded, smiling and pointing them over to a window seat.

“Good to see you again Sir.” Michael bobbed his cap of dark curls in a kind of half bow.

“We’ll have two clam chowders, and I’ll have the squid with French fries and a side salad. Cat will have the Seabass.” She went to protest but he gave a brash chuckle, waving her away. “You have to try it Cat. Oh and we’ll take two glasses of your best Tatinger.”

“Champagne goes well with sea food,” he said, turning back to Cat and winking.

She sat there feeling a bit stunned, he hadn’t even asked her if she liked fish. But he was paying, she supposed she shouldn’t really complain. Still it seemed a bit rude. Was he this arrogant with Zoe? She couldn’t imagine her standing for that, Zoe would put him in his place surely?

The waiter brought the champagne over and uncorked the bottle, pouring out the pale gold liquid into two crystal glasses. She sipped at her fizz gently, allowing herself to pretend she was Zoe for a moment, sitting at the table with John like this.

“Great outfit Cat. It suits you,” he said, looking at her and winking again. She blushed, did he recognize it?

“Thanks,” she said, feeling unsure of what to say exactly, “I spotted it when I was out shopping with my sister.” She didn’t even have a sister, why had she said that?

“It’s nice,” he said, and she felt his hand on her leg. What the hell?

“You’re nice,” he said, as his hand started to traverse up the inside of her silk pencil skirt.

“No we shouldn’t,” she said, removing his hand from her leg. Was this some kind of test?

“Why not?” He leaned closer, leering at her.

“Because Zoe’s your girlfriend?” She looked at him feeling genuinely puzzled. Was he mad, how could anyone forget about Zoe?

“Zoe.” Sighing, he released his grip on her thigh. “Zoe and me have an understanding Cat, ” he said, pronouncing the word as if they had some special meaning.

“What do you mean?”

“We like to see other people, have fun. I didn’t want to at first, but Zoe encourages it.” He reached for her under the table and she wriggled out of his grasp. Zoe liked her boyfriend to sleep around?

“Still, I don’t think we should.” She didn’t feel comfortable with this; she didn’t like him like that. She didn’t like anyone like that. Except-

“Come on Cat,” he said, the tone in his voice wheedling now, “It’s obvious you look up to her.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Your little secret’s safe with me. But haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like? To experience what she experiences?” How did he know she wanted that?

“I can tell you how she acts in bed if you like? What she says, how she feels, how she moans?” The offer hung like a tasty morsel, held tantalisingly beneath her nose. God what she wouldn’t give to know.

“Alright,” she said, nodding and swallowing.

“Follow me to the bathroom then.”

                                                                   ***

Fiona, her co-worker, looked up and grinned at her as she staggered back to her desk afterwards.

“Good lunch I see?”

“Uhh yeah,” she said, her cheeks burning. Hopefully no one had seen her leave the office with John. Where was her notebook? She wanted to record every new detail of what she’d just learned about Zoe.

“So good you forgot to do your blouse up,” Fiona said with a smirk. Her hands flew to it, feeling flesh where silk should be. Shit, how long had it been hanging open like that?

“I don’t know how it got that way,” she said, feeling flustered.

“Probably the same way your lipstick ended up halfway across your cheek.”

Mortified, she didn’t wait to respond, scurrying from the office for the safety of the women’s bathrooms to repair her face.

In the bathroom, she dabbed at her face with a paper towel to try and erase the ugly red smear. John had been like a hungry animal, pawing her all over, she hadn’t enjoyed his groping or his sweaty grunting. What she had liked though was how much closer she’d felt to Zoe. She’d shut her eyes and imagined she was Zoe as she allowed him to maul her.

She heard a sniffling sound coming from one of the stalls; there was someone else in here?

“Are you alright in there?” She walked to the locked stall and knocked on the door. No reply.

“Hey, what’s the matter in there?”

“Go away.”

That voice, it sounded familiar?

“I just want to know everything’s alright.”

“Everything is alright,” the voice said flatly, “now go away.” Zoe’s voice?

“Zoe? Is that you?” She heard the sound of a chain flushing then the door opened and Zoe stood in front of her, her eyes red rimmed.

“What’s the matter?”

“This.” Zoe brandished the white plastic stick. A pregnancy test?

“You’re pregnant?”

“Well done Einstein.”

“You don’t have to keep it you know,” she said, trying to reassure her.

Zoe looked at her with resentful eyes. “You don’t understand. This has ruined everything.”

“But why? You don’t have to keep it, this is London not bloody Oklahoma.”

“It’s not that. I want to keep it. But John’ll dump me, he won’t want anything to do with a baby.” John didn’t want commitment? That wasn’t what he’d said in the restaurant.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. John loves you,” she said, feeling more than a little uncertain. But Zoe just started to cry again, loud, choking sobs that made her thin shoulders heave.

“Don’t cry, please,” she said, stepping forward and folding Zoe in her arms.

“He’ll dump me, he already cheats on me. He was with a girl today, had her lipstick smeared over his bloody face. Lied to me about it too, said he had to meet with a manager at lunch, so he couldn’t go with me.”

She felt the anger pulse through her. Zoe was a goddess, it was unthinkable. She rubbed her hand in small circles, over the tailored silk of Zoe’s blouse.

“How dare he, the lying bastard.”

                                                              ***

Who did he think he was? As Cat stalked back to the office, she saw him, leaning out the window of the fire escape as he smoked a cigarette. It was his hair that gave him away; the thatch of bright blonde impertinent as it leered at her.

If he wasn’t careful he could lose his footing and go tumbling over the edge, but if anyone deserved that surely it had to be him?

All it would take would be one little shove and Zoe’s problems would be gone. A tragic accident, they'd call it and then Zoe could move on with her life, find someone she deserved, who would love her as she deserved to be loved. Someone like you? Perhaps, why not?

He wheeled around to face her and she started.

“Cat.” He grinned. She wanted to smack the cheesy expression off his face; he had no right to look so bloody pleased with himself the smug bastard.

“You told me it was Zoe who wanted to sleep around but it was you,” she said, looking him straight in the eyes.

He held his palms up. “Look Cat, she’s a bit unstable. I’ve been trying to tell her I’m not ready for a full on relationship but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

He was lying again she knew, he was a bloody snake, a backstabbing treacherous coward. A white hot anger rose within her.

“You’re a liar John. Zoe already told me everything.”

He raised his eyebrow at her. “Calm down Cat, don’t get hysterical. I know you want to get in her knickers; I read your weird little diary.” So that’s where her notebook had gone, he had taken it.

“You had no business reading that,” she said, her voice rising as she spoke. She was practically shouting she knew but she couldn’t help it, her whole body was trembling with rage.

“Zoe and I laugh about your little crush you know. Now run along there’s a good girl.” He turned around to finish smoking his Marlboro.

She didn’t think; she just acted, reaching out and shoving him hard in the centre of his back. His hands flailed as he stumbled forward, desperately trying to get his balance, but there was nothing there to grab onto, and toppling, he fell over the edge, his mouth opening in a scream as his body whistled through the air.

A loud thunk, the sound of flesh hitting something solid, then the screaming stopped, the wail of a car alarm starting up to take its place.

Zoe would be distraught of course, at first anyway but she’d soon get over it, with friendship and loyal support.

“Loyal support, hear that John” she said, underneath her breath, as she peered over the rail to stare down at the bloody mess lying below.

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The Copperplate Awards | Short Fiction Write a piece of fiction where a lie is unearthed. Judges will be basing their decisions on fire, form, content, and creative edge. They will also pay particular attention to grammar, spelling, and formatting. Previous entrants are welcome to resubmit their entries with edits. Submissions are evaluated by Prose and a trusted panel of judges.
Written by BeckRobertson
Being Zoe
Would Zoe ever notice she existed? Cat watched her from across the office, drinking in every detail of the dark haired girl’s appearance. Zoe was so effortlessly chic, her silk blouse elegantly nipped in at the waist, her black cigarette pants showcasing slender ankles.

Her boyfriend was a lucky man, Zoe could have anyone she wanted. It must be nice to be desired like that. Most of the time people didn’t even seem to realise Cat existed.

“Cat.” The voice snapped her out of her daydream.

“Huh?” Looking up she saw John Walters, her boss and Zoe’s boyfriend. He was undeniably attractive with blonde hair and high Nordic cheekbones but he didn’t deserve Zoe in Cat’s opinion. How could anyone?

“That concept you thought up’s gone viral. Over ten million views, its only been up half a day.”

“Really?” She was a little taken aback.

“Yep. Good work girl. I’m taking you to lunch at Carlo’s.”

“You don’t have to do that John. It was just a lucky idea.” Well it was true, she wasn’t being self-effacing.

“No protests. I want to.” He chucked her under the chin gently, forcing her to tip her face up to look into his bright blue eyes.

“You’re an interesting one you are,” he said, turning her face one way then the other, before releasing her and turning away to walk off. She stared at his retreating back feeling slightly bemused. What did that mean? Out of the corner of her eye she spied Zoe crossing the office, and she swivelled in her chair to watch her.

That body, god what she wouldn’t give...

She scribbled down what Zoe was wearing in her eggshell coloured suede notebook, exactly the same type as the one Zoe used herself. She felt closer to Zoe by buying the same things she did, wearing the same clothes.

Today she was wearing the exact outfit she’d seen Zoe in three weeks ago. Maybe today Zoe would finally notice her.

                                                                       ***

At lunch Walters caught her by the elbow, steering her out of the office, and into the lift.

“You’re coming with me,” he said. Nodding, she acquiesced; there was no getting out of it now. At least she might learn more about Zoe, he was her boyfriend after all.

It was strange, she’d never really noticed girls before Zoe but now the woman occupied nearly every waking hour of her thoughts. They entered the restaurant, which was packed with the usual lunch crowd; braying office workers slurping glasses of chardonnay and chomping down their salmon on a bed of wild rocket. The word that sprung to mind was pretentious.

“Everyone who’s anyone in PR eats here Cat,” John said, bending his head to her ear as they stood in line behind dozens of people waiting for a table.

“Michael,” he said, spying a dark haired young waiter, who nodded, smiling and pointing them over to a window seat.

“Good to see you again Sir.” Michael bobbed his cap of dark curls in a kind of half bow.

“We’ll have two clam chowders, and I’ll have the squid with French fries and a side salad. Cat will have the Seabass.” She went to protest but he gave a brash chuckle, waving her away. “You have to try it Cat. Oh and we’ll take two glasses of your best Tatinger.”

“Champagne goes well with sea food,” he said, turning back to Cat and winking.

She sat there feeling a bit stunned, he hadn’t even asked her if she liked fish. But he was paying, she supposed she shouldn’t really complain. Still it seemed a bit rude. Was he this arrogant with Zoe? She couldn’t imagine her standing for that, Zoe would put him in his place surely?

The waiter brought the champagne over and uncorked the bottle, pouring out the pale gold liquid into two crystal glasses. She sipped at her fizz gently, allowing herself to pretend she was Zoe for a moment, sitting at the table with John like this.

“Great outfit Cat. It suits you,” he said, looking at her and winking again. She blushed, did he recognize it?

“Thanks,” she said, feeling unsure of what to say exactly, “I spotted it when I was out shopping with my sister.” She didn’t even have a sister, why had she said that?

“It’s nice,” he said, and she felt his hand on her leg. What the hell?

“You’re nice,” he said, as his hand started to traverse up the inside of her silk pencil skirt.

“No we shouldn’t,” she said, removing his hand from her leg. Was this some kind of test?

“Why not?” He leaned closer, leering at her.

“Because Zoe’s your girlfriend?” She looked at him feeling genuinely puzzled. Was he mad, how could anyone forget about Zoe?

“Zoe.” Sighing, he released his grip on her thigh. “Zoe and me have an understanding Cat, ” he said, pronouncing the word as if they had some special meaning.

“What do you mean?”

“We like to see other people, have fun. I didn’t want to at first, but Zoe encourages it.” He reached for her under the table and she wriggled out of his grasp. Zoe liked her boyfriend to sleep around?

“Still, I don’t think we should.” She didn’t feel comfortable with this; she didn’t like him like that. She didn’t like anyone like that. Except-

“Come on Cat,” he said, the tone in his voice wheedling now, “It’s obvious you look up to her.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Your little secret’s safe with me. But haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like? To experience what she experiences?” How did he know she wanted that?

“I can tell you how she acts in bed if you like? What she says, how she feels, how she moans?” The offer hung like a tasty morsel, held tantalisingly beneath her nose. God what she wouldn’t give to know.

“Alright,” she said, nodding and swallowing.

“Follow me to the bathroom then.”

                                                                   ***

Fiona, her co-worker, looked up and grinned at her as she staggered back to her desk afterwards.

“Good lunch I see?”

“Uhh yeah,” she said, her cheeks burning. Hopefully no one had seen her leave the office with John. Where was her notebook? She wanted to record every new detail of what she’d just learned about Zoe.

“So good you forgot to do your blouse up,” Fiona said with a smirk. Her hands flew to it, feeling flesh where silk should be. Shit, how long had it been hanging open like that?

“I don’t know how it got that way,” she said, feeling flustered.

“Probably the same way your lipstick ended up halfway across your cheek.”

Mortified, she didn’t wait to respond, scurrying from the office for the safety of the women’s bathrooms to repair her face.

In the bathroom, she dabbed at her face with a paper towel to try and erase the ugly red smear. John had been like a hungry animal, pawing her all over, she hadn’t enjoyed his groping or his sweaty grunting. What she had liked though was how much closer she’d felt to Zoe. She’d shut her eyes and imagined she was Zoe as she allowed him to maul her.

She heard a sniffling sound coming from one of the stalls; there was someone else in here?

“Are you alright in there?” She walked to the locked stall and knocked on the door. No reply.

“Hey, what’s the matter in there?”

“Go away.”

That voice, it sounded familiar?

“I just want to know everything’s alright.”

“Everything is alright,” the voice said flatly, “now go away.” Zoe’s voice?

“Zoe? Is that you?” She heard the sound of a chain flushing then the door opened and Zoe stood in front of her, her eyes red rimmed.

“What’s the matter?”

“This.” Zoe brandished the white plastic stick. A pregnancy test?

“You’re pregnant?”

“Well done Einstein.”

“You don’t have to keep it you know,” she said, trying to reassure her.

Zoe looked at her with resentful eyes. “You don’t understand. This has ruined everything.”

“But why? You don’t have to keep it, this is London not bloody Oklahoma.”

“It’s not that. I want to keep it. But John’ll dump me, he won’t want anything to do with a baby.” John didn’t want commitment? That wasn’t what he’d said in the restaurant.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine. John loves you,” she said, feeling more than a little uncertain. But Zoe just started to cry again, loud, choking sobs that made her thin shoulders heave.

“Don’t cry, please,” she said, stepping forward and folding Zoe in her arms.

“He’ll dump me, he already cheats on me. He was with a girl today, had her lipstick smeared over his bloody face. Lied to me about it too, said he had to meet with a manager at lunch, so he couldn’t go with me.”

She felt the anger pulse through her. Zoe was a goddess, it was unthinkable. She rubbed her hand in small circles, over the tailored silk of Zoe’s blouse.

“How dare he, the lying bastard.”

                                                              ***

Who did he think he was? As Cat stalked back to the office, she saw him, leaning out the window of the fire escape as he smoked a cigarette. It was his hair that gave him away; the thatch of bright blonde impertinent as it leered at her.

If he wasn’t careful he could lose his footing and go tumbling over the edge, but if anyone deserved that surely it had to be him?

All it would take would be one little shove and Zoe’s problems would be gone. A tragic accident, they'd call it and then Zoe could move on with her life, find someone she deserved, who would love her as she deserved to be loved. Someone like you? Perhaps, why not?

He wheeled around to face her and she started.

“Cat.” He grinned. She wanted to smack the cheesy expression off his face; he had no right to look so bloody pleased with himself the smug bastard.

“You told me it was Zoe who wanted to sleep around but it was you,” she said, looking him straight in the eyes.

He held his palms up. “Look Cat, she’s a bit unstable. I’ve been trying to tell her I’m not ready for a full on relationship but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.”

He was lying again she knew, he was a bloody snake, a backstabbing treacherous coward. A white hot anger rose within her.

“You’re a liar John. Zoe already told me everything.”

He raised his eyebrow at her. “Calm down Cat, don’t get hysterical. I know you want to get in her knickers; I read your weird little diary.” So that’s where her notebook had gone, he had taken it.

“You had no business reading that,” she said, her voice rising as she spoke. She was practically shouting she knew but she couldn’t help it, her whole body was trembling with rage.

“Zoe and I laugh about your little crush you know. Now run along there’s a good girl.” He turned around to finish smoking his Marlboro.

She didn’t think; she just acted, reaching out and shoving him hard in the centre of his back. His hands flailed as he stumbled forward, desperately trying to get his balance, but there was nothing there to grab onto, and toppling, he fell over the edge, his mouth opening in a scream as his body whistled through the air.

A loud thunk, the sound of flesh hitting something solid, then the screaming stopped, the wail of a car alarm starting up to take its place.

Zoe would be distraught of course, at first anyway but she’d soon get over it, with friendship and loyal support.

“Loyal support, hear that John” she said, underneath her breath, as she peered over the rail to stare down at the bloody mess lying below.
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Written by ArdemusMonroe

Jacob Ardemus Monroe, Adventurer

11 December, 1939

My name is Jacob Ardemus Monroe, being 69 years old, born on July 18, 1868 of Thaddeus and Katherine Monroe in my father’s cabin in the settlement of Locust Fork on the Black Warrior River in the County of Cahaba, in the state of Alabama. The Jacob part of my name comes from the Bible which my father read to us every night, while Ardemus was the name of my great-grand father, and of his grandfather. It is a name that has served me well over the years.

When I was a young boy I seemed to be more a dreamer of dreams than I was a doer of things. Growing up among the hills and hollows of my home, my soul would stir restless at the rustling of the wind or at the echo of a Whippoorwill’s song late on a summer's night and my mind would search for truth in every passing cloud and in every starlit night. It was a time of want without reason, of need without purpose and of knowledge without wisdom, a time of yearning for what was not and for dreaming of what might be. I knew there were many truths to be learned far from the land and river that had sustained me, and many questions yet to be asked.

And so came to pass.

On the 25th day of March in my 25th year, after a lifetime of waiting and a week of goodbyes, I left Locust Fork to find whatever else there was to find, to see and feel and know what the world had to offer outside of the only home I'd ever known.

Know that some of what I tell you will bring you tears of happiness, while others will bring tears of sadness. That is one truth of life I come to know far too well.

Jacob Ardemus Monroe,

Adventurer

Chapter 1 – The Adventure Begins

As the shores of the Black Warrior river disappeared behind me and the sounds of the water rushing past Bear Rock gave way to the sounds of the woodland I felt a freedom like I hadn’t felt before and a sadness I didn’t expect. The roots that bound me to my home ran deep and long across four generations of the Monroe family, back to my great-grandfather Ardemus who settled in Locust Fork in the spring of 1826, having traveled to Alabama from North Carolina with only his horse and two pack mules and a desire to see and do things he had not dared before.

My journey from Locust Fork wasn’t going to last forever. I knew would return one day, hopefully as a wiser and richer man. I didn't know when or how. The same fate and circumstance that determined my path of leaving would one day determine the path of my return.

I had little money and just a few belongings. My horse's name was named Ahoti, a name given to him by my father. It was an Indian name that means restless one but those times had long since passed him by. Now he was getting along in years and his back had become more swayed and his pace had slowed but he was still a good horse that wouldn’t abandon me in times of trouble although he had a natural fear of mountain lions and bears and every kind of snake, or anything that resembled a snake.

In Ahoti's saddlebags I had $43, a U.S. Cavalry compass, two boxes of shells for my Henry rifle, one box of 45 caliber shells for my pistol, and a Bowie knife that my father gave to me on my sixteenth birthday. It was my father that taught me the skills needed for survival in the wilderness. He believed them necessary knowledge for a boy becoming a man. It’s something I’d thank him for many times in the months and years to come. Other supplies were strapped to Ahoti’s back along with a blanket to sleep on.

I couldn’t imagine being more prepared to face the world.

The first part of my journey was going to take me to Cheaha Mountain some ten days northeast of Locust Fork. The town of Ft. Payne was a former cavalry post and was nestled at the base of Cheaha. I planned to spend a day or so there to buy supplies and enjoy the last of civilization I'd see before heading up the mountain. Beyond that, I had no plans.

It would be several hours before I stopped to rest. I followed an old wagon trail for the first two hours but eventually took to my own trail, choosing to cross over Sadler’s Ridge and not go around it. After an hour’s climb to the top and another hour of resting on the cool ground under the shade of a Sycamore tree, Ahoti and I headed north with the mid-afternoon sun to our left and the breeze to our back. Sunset was still a few hours away and I wanted to put more miles behind us before making camp.

The next few hours was pretty uneventful other than coming within eyesight of a small black bear that nearly made Ahoti jump out of his skin. Some two hours before sunset I made camp beneath an overhanging rock near the bottom of a shallow ravine at the edge of a deep forest. It would provide a good shelter and, from its smoke-darkened appearance and drawings on the rock face, it looked to have provided shelter for many others before me.

At the time I was not aware that another human called these woods home, a displaced Frenchman by the name of Etienne Marceau. As I soon found out, Etienne was very aware of my presence and he was not happy that I was there.

Chapter 2 – Jacob and Etienne

The sun was less than an hour from disappearing behind Sadler’s Ridge when the Frenchman first made himself known to me. I turned around to reach for my canteen and there he stood, setting sun at his back. I couldn’t tell much about him other than he was big. My pistol, my knife and my rifle were all with Ahoti, a mistake I would not make again. I picked up a rock to defend myself.

Only, he didn’t come at me. He just stood his ground and after a long moment, he spoke.

“Monsieur, you have been tramping through my woods for half a day. You have scared away every beast, grand et petit, for kilometers. Tell me why I should not kill you.”

I could barely make out his outline against the sun but I could see no weapon and he didn’t sound as angry as he would have me believe. I shaded my eyes with my forearm hoping to see his face but I could not.

He pressed the point. “Monsieur, I am awaiting your response and I am losing my patience quickly with you.”

The sun was blinding me. I turned my face to the ground only to see a timber rattler that had crawled to within six feet of me. He was well disguised and practically covered with leaves. I kept my eyes on him as I spoke. “Bon monsieur Frenchman. There is no reason to kill me, mon ami.” I had just used every word of French that I knew. “I am just a tired traveler passing through, hoping to rest for the night. I didn’t know you were here or I would have gone on a little further.”

“I have heard you and smelled you for many hours. You make the noise of ten men. Perhaps a man of your grace should not venture into the woods. There are many dangers here -- mountain lions, bear, wolf. However...” he paused and took one step forward “in this forest, not all danger walks on four legs. Do you understand me well, monsieur?”

“Yes. I do understand you Frenchman. And I know all about the dangers of the forest, even more than I’d like to about right now. My name is Monroe, Jacob Ardemus Monroe. If you aren’t going to kill me right away, would you mind doing something about that rattlesnake that's about to crawl across my boot?”

The cold steel of his blade flashed briefly as it flew through the air with deadly accuracy and nearly severed the rattler’s head. “I have been watching him. Now I have food to eat. Perhaps I will wait and kill you on a full stomach.” He came toward me and picked up the rattler by its tail. It was even larger than I’d thought. He pulled his blade from the ground, cut the snake’s rattles off and tossed them onto the ground at my feet. “Those will serve you well, weary traveler, if you survive the night. Even the bear fears the rattlesnake. Do you know the way to properly prepare snake?”

“Yes, I do. I know how to prepare snakes and rabbits and just about any other kind of animal you might find around these parts.” There was an uneasy pause for a moment as we stared at each other. Even though he was just a few feet away from me, in the shadows I still could not see him clearly. “I told you my name, Frenchman. How about you telling me yours?”

“You wish to know the name of your executioner, eh?” He took out a leather strop from a deerskin pouch and sharpened the blade of his knife across it as he spoke. “Very well. I am Etienne Gerard Marceau the First, Emperor and ruler of this very forest in which we stand, son of Rene Philippe Marceau -- a thief and a scoundrel that was guillotined by the Emperor Napoleon III in the courtyard at Versailles when I was but a small boy.  I witnessed it with my own eyes.” He paused and looked at me again. It was the first time I could glimpse his face. It was so weathered that I couldn’t tell his age. He had a beard and wore a black beret and there was a scar running from his left ear down his neck. “It is my father’s blood that is coursing through my veins.”

“My father is a farmer and it his blood that flows in my veins. Perhaps we are not so different.”

“Perhaps. Before the night has passed, we will know more of each other, yes?”

I picked up the rattles of the snake and looked them over. “This snake will be good enough for supper, Etienne, but there are other things for us to eat around here – mushrooms, roots, berries, other plants.” Etienne didn't respond. “I can probably find some snails if you want escargot."

He laughed as he wiped the blade of his knife across his buckskin pants and placed it in a scabbard that was strapped across his shoulder like a quiver. “Perhaps you can also find truffles.” He looked at me again, longer this time. “Go and find your plants and roots. I will prepare the snake for cooking. ” He paused again. “You are a lucky man today, monsieur. Do not be foolish.”

I retrieved my knife from Ahoti’s saddlebags and went deeper into the woods. When I returned to the camp the sun was soon to disappear behind the ridge. Etienne had already skinned the snake and started a fire. “It is good that you have returned before the darkness was upon us, mon ami. You would not wish to be captured by la bête.”

“La bête, Etienne? Is that another Frenchman? Why would he want with me? I'm just a man looking for someplace else.”

Etienne sliced the snake into pieces and placed them on a thin flat rock he had staked above the fire. “La bête -- the beast. The beast is no man, mon ami.”

“The beast? Do you mean a bear or a mountain lion? I've heard stories about ogres but I never believed in them.”

Etienne turned his head slowly to face me. “Le bête is not those things you speak of mon ami. There are many things to be feared in these woods, especially when the sun is gone. Even I, Etienne, Emperor of this very forest, do not venture far into the night. I wish someday to go back to France or maybe go north to Quebec. It would not serve me well to be dead.” Etienne's eyes glowed like embers in the firelight. “In the forest, it is what you do not believe to be true that will get you killed. You will be dead, and no one will ever know of you again.”

Then, he laughed again.

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Written by ArdemusMonroe
Jacob Ardemus Monroe, Adventurer
11 December, 1939


My name is Jacob Ardemus Monroe, being 69 years old, born on July 18, 1868 of Thaddeus and Katherine Monroe in my father’s cabin in the settlement of Locust Fork on the Black Warrior River in the County of Cahaba, in the state of Alabama. The Jacob part of my name comes from the Bible which my father read to us every night, while Ardemus was the name of my great-grand father, and of his grandfather. It is a name that has served me well over the years.


When I was a young boy I seemed to be more a dreamer of dreams than I was a doer of things. Growing up among the hills and hollows of my home, my soul would stir restless at the rustling of the wind or at the echo of a Whippoorwill’s song late on a summer's night and my mind would search for truth in every passing cloud and in every starlit night. It was a time of want without reason, of need without purpose and of knowledge without wisdom, a time of yearning for what was not and for dreaming of what might be. I knew there were many truths to be learned far from the land and river that had sustained me, and many questions yet to be asked.

And so came to pass.


On the 25th day of March in my 25th year, after a lifetime of waiting and a week of goodbyes, I left Locust Fork to find whatever else there was to find, to see and feel and know what the world had to offer outside of the only home I'd ever known.


Know that some of what I tell you will bring you tears of happiness, while others will bring tears of sadness. That is one truth of life I come to know far too well.


Jacob Ardemus Monroe,


Adventurer


Chapter 1 – The Adventure Begins


As the shores of the Black Warrior river disappeared behind me and the sounds of the water rushing past Bear Rock gave way to the sounds of the woodland I felt a freedom like I hadn’t felt before and a sadness I didn’t expect. The roots that bound me to my home ran deep and long across four generations of the Monroe family, back to my great-grandfather Ardemus who settled in Locust Fork in the spring of 1826, having traveled to Alabama from North Carolina with only his horse and two pack mules and a desire to see and do things he had not dared before.


My journey from Locust Fork wasn’t going to last forever. I knew would return one day, hopefully as a wiser and richer man. I didn't know when or how. The same fate and circumstance that determined my path of leaving would one day determine the path of my return.


I had little money and just a few belongings. My horse's name was named Ahoti, a name given to him by my father. It was an Indian name that means restless one but those times had long since passed him by. Now he was getting along in years and his back had become more swayed and his pace had slowed but he was still a good horse that wouldn’t abandon me in times of trouble although he had a natural fear of mountain lions and bears and every kind of snake, or anything that resembled a snake.


In Ahoti's saddlebags I had $43, a U.S. Cavalry compass, two boxes of shells for my Henry rifle, one box of 45 caliber shells for my pistol, and a Bowie knife that my father gave to me on my sixteenth birthday. It was my father that taught me the skills needed for survival in the wilderness. He believed them necessary knowledge for a boy becoming a man. It’s something I’d thank him for many times in the months and years to come. Other supplies were strapped to Ahoti’s back along with a blanket to sleep on.

I couldn’t imagine being more prepared to face the world.


The first part of my journey was going to take me to Cheaha Mountain some ten days northeast of Locust Fork. The town of Ft. Payne was a former cavalry post and was nestled at the base of Cheaha. I planned to spend a day or so there to buy supplies and enjoy the last of civilization I'd see before heading up the mountain. Beyond that, I had no plans.


It would be several hours before I stopped to rest. I followed an old wagon trail for the first two hours but eventually took to my own trail, choosing to cross over Sadler’s Ridge and not go around it. After an hour’s climb to the top and another hour of resting on the cool ground under the shade of a Sycamore tree, Ahoti and I headed north with the mid-afternoon sun to our left and the breeze to our back. Sunset was still a few hours away and I wanted to put more miles behind us before making camp.


The next few hours was pretty uneventful other than coming within eyesight of a small black bear that nearly made Ahoti jump out of his skin. Some two hours before sunset I made camp beneath an overhanging rock near the bottom of a shallow ravine at the edge of a deep forest. It would provide a good shelter and, from its smoke-darkened appearance and drawings on the rock face, it looked to have provided shelter for many others before me.


At the time I was not aware that another human called these woods home, a displaced Frenchman by the name of Etienne Marceau. As I soon found out, Etienne was very aware of my presence and he was not happy that I was there.

Chapter 2 – Jacob and Etienne


The sun was less than an hour from disappearing behind Sadler’s Ridge when the Frenchman first made himself known to me. I turned around to reach for my canteen and there he stood, setting sun at his back. I couldn’t tell much about him other than he was big. My pistol, my knife and my rifle were all with Ahoti, a mistake I would not make again. I picked up a rock to defend myself.


Only, he didn’t come at me. He just stood his ground and after a long moment, he spoke.

“Monsieur, you have been tramping through my woods for half a day. You have scared away every beast, grand et petit, for kilometers. Tell me why I should not kill you.”

I could barely make out his outline against the sun but I could see no weapon and he didn’t sound as angry as he would have me believe. I shaded my eyes with my forearm hoping to see his face but I could not.


He pressed the point. “Monsieur, I am awaiting your response and I am losing my patience quickly with you.”


The sun was blinding me. I turned my face to the ground only to see a timber rattler that had crawled to within six feet of me. He was well disguised and practically covered with leaves. I kept my eyes on him as I spoke. “Bon monsieur Frenchman. There is no reason to kill me, mon ami.” I had just used every word of French that I knew. “I am just a tired traveler passing through, hoping to rest for the night. I didn’t know you were here or I would have gone on a little further.”


“I have heard you and smelled you for many hours. You make the noise of ten men. Perhaps a man of your grace should not venture into the woods. There are many dangers here -- mountain lions, bear, wolf. However...” he paused and took one step forward “in this forest, not all danger walks on four legs. Do you understand me well, monsieur?”


“Yes. I do understand you Frenchman. And I know all about the dangers of the forest, even more than I’d like to about right now. My name is Monroe, Jacob Ardemus Monroe. If you aren’t going to kill me right away, would you mind doing something about that rattlesnake that's about to crawl across my boot?”


The cold steel of his blade flashed briefly as it flew through the air with deadly accuracy and nearly severed the rattler’s head. “I have been watching him. Now I have food to eat. Perhaps I will wait and kill you on a full stomach.” He came toward me and picked up the rattler by its tail. It was even larger than I’d thought. He pulled his blade from the ground, cut the snake’s rattles off and tossed them onto the ground at my feet. “Those will serve you well, weary traveler, if you survive the night. Even the bear fears the rattlesnake. Do you know the way to properly prepare snake?”


“Yes, I do. I know how to prepare snakes and rabbits and just about any other kind of animal you might find around these parts.” There was an uneasy pause for a moment as we stared at each other. Even though he was just a few feet away from me, in the shadows I still could not see him clearly. “I told you my name, Frenchman. How about you telling me yours?”


“You wish to know the name of your executioner, eh?” He took out a leather strop from a deerskin pouch and sharpened the blade of his knife across it as he spoke. “Very well. I am Etienne Gerard Marceau the First, Emperor and ruler of this very forest in which we stand, son of Rene Philippe Marceau -- a thief and a scoundrel that was guillotined by the Emperor Napoleon III in the courtyard at Versailles when I was but a small boy.  I witnessed it with my own eyes.” He paused and looked at me again. It was the first time I could glimpse his face. It was so weathered that I couldn’t tell his age. He had a beard and wore a black beret and there was a scar running from his left ear down his neck. “It is my father’s blood that is coursing through my veins.”


“My father is a farmer and it his blood that flows in my veins. Perhaps we are not so different.”


“Perhaps. Before the night has passed, we will know more of each other, yes?”


I picked up the rattles of the snake and looked them over. “This snake will be good enough for supper, Etienne, but there are other things for us to eat around here – mushrooms, roots, berries, other plants.” Etienne didn't respond. “I can probably find some snails if you want escargot."


He laughed as he wiped the blade of his knife across his buckskin pants and placed it in a scabbard that was strapped across his shoulder like a quiver. “Perhaps you can also find truffles.” He looked at me again, longer this time. “Go and find your plants and roots. I will prepare the snake for cooking. ” He paused again. “You are a lucky man today, monsieur. Do not be foolish.”


I retrieved my knife from Ahoti’s saddlebags and went deeper into the woods. When I returned to the camp the sun was soon to disappear behind the ridge. Etienne had already skinned the snake and started a fire. “It is good that you have returned before the darkness was upon us, mon ami. You would not wish to be captured by la bête.”


“La bête, Etienne? Is that another Frenchman? Why would he want with me? I'm just a man looking for someplace else.”


Etienne sliced the snake into pieces and placed them on a thin flat rock he had staked above the fire. “La bête -- the beast. The beast is no man, mon ami.”


“The beast? Do you mean a bear or a mountain lion? I've heard stories about ogres but I never believed in them.”


Etienne turned his head slowly to face me. “Le bête is not those things you speak of mon ami. There are many things to be feared in these woods, especially when the sun is gone. Even I, Etienne, Emperor of this very forest, do not venture far into the night. I wish someday to go back to France or maybe go north to Quebec. It would not serve me well to be dead.” Etienne's eyes glowed like embers in the firelight. “In the forest, it is what you do not believe to be true that will get you killed. You will be dead, and no one will ever know of you again.”


Then, he laughed again.
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Written by MerleHanson

I pulled into a place just outside Waco. Billys was the name hanging from the old sign post. Parking lot was empty except for some ancient pickups and a yellow beetle.

The Bartender was a bit scrawny. He wore a white cowboy hat and a gold chain hinging round his neck. wearing a Eagle jersey with the number 92, White stitched on the back.

“You Billy?

“Bob Gibbons, son of Billy. Dad has been dead going on twenty years. Friends call me Billy Bob. Name has followed me around since grade school.”

“That your yellow bug out front?”

“I wouldn’t be seen driving one of those little foreign cars. That yeller one would be Liz’s. Don’t be getting close. She more than likely take your head off. Mean like a rattlesnake.”

“Don’t they hang Eagles fans in Texas?’

“You’d be surprised how many Cowboys fans show up here to watch Sunday football. I’ve been called every name in the book but all in all they are my friends. Had to add on an extra room and the grill became a kitchen. Lucky man to have met Donna Lu. She can cook up a storm. Ain’t no waste in her kitchen.”

“How long you owned the joint?”

“Well like I said Pa died twenty years ago. We struggled taking over. Pa didn't care about the condition of the building and his aging customers were slowly dying away. I noticed Cowboy fans seemed to like a bit of banter when I wore my Eagles gear. You didn’t notice the Eagles flag flying over my roof?”

“No sir, No sir.”

“I went to work nights, loading and unloading trucks for Stan Literski. Hell of a nice guy. Paid well, worked hard. Put the money into the bar.” He handed me my drink.

I walked over to the jukebox. It was filled with old country music. Sad songs about life gone wrong. Pushed some song called Ebdas Lament. Let your hair down girl could be heard coming out of the speakers.

I sat a couple seats down from her, nodded my head. “Texas, sure is hot.”

“You ain’t hitting on me son are you? Last man I had to shoot. Self defense. I had warned him and Billy Bob and all the regulars vouched for me.”

I heard Billy Bob from the other end of the bar, “Be honest Lizzy. You had threatened us all with a hex from your prison cell. I sure wasn’t going to stand up to your wrath.”

I chuckled.

“The demons in that whiskey drinking will get you? Pretty soon you’ll start seeing things that ain’t there,” she said.

“How’d you know?”

“A gift from the great spirit.” Her nose was long, her hair scraggly and she had a big wart at the tip. “I got a bit of the Haitian blood in me. The spirits, Ti bon ange wander this earth. Certainly you feel them. You gotta prepare for the journey to the dead or your spirit will stay.”

I wasn’t sure about Billy Bob and her being mean. I was thinking crazy, flat out crazy.

“Not everybody can practice the Vodoo. It comes from the inside.”

“How’d you find your way to Nowhere, Texas?

“It was the 60’s. Free love and acid and marijuana but it was hot and miserable in New Orleans. Headed to California. Only got this far before I ran out of money. Bobby Bills dad Billy hired me to clean up, serve customers, tend bar. I think I became the daughter he never had. Sweet, sweet man.”

“He had a little bit of land out there near the river. He sold me part of it and I started raising chickens and snakes. Chickens gave me sustenance and those Southern preachers bought my snakes.”

‘How come Billy Bob says you are mean?”

“Me and Billy Bob are more like Brother and Sister. We took a liking to each other and argue like cats and dogs. We are only a few years apart in age so it was natural. So happy he came across Donna Lu. Other wise he’s be just like those other two drunks at the end of the bar.”

He started laughing. “Mean as a rattlesnake, I told you. You certainly don’t think you are going to change her now do you?”

“No, no. She is as she is. I best hit the road got miles to go before the sun sets.”

“It was nice meeting you,’ extending her hand. “Liz Rourke. By the way, if you run into McAndrew again tell him I say hello.”

“Sure enough, sure enough. Billy Bob, you got yourself a nice bar. We’ll be seeing you.”

Those were some of the nicest people in Texas that I’d met. I pulled out of the parking lot and looked for the first road west.

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Written by MerleHanson
I pulled into a place just outside Waco. Billys was the name hanging from the old sign post. Parking lot was empty except for some ancient pickups and a yellow beetle.

The Bartender was a bit scrawny. He wore a white cowboy hat and a gold chain hinging round his neck. wearing a Eagle jersey with the number 92, White stitched on the back.

“You Billy?

“Bob Gibbons, son of Billy. Dad has been dead going on twenty years. Friends call me Billy Bob. Name has followed me around since grade school.”

“That your yellow bug out front?”

“I wouldn’t be seen driving one of those little foreign cars. That yeller one would be Liz’s. Don’t be getting close. She more than likely take your head off. Mean like a rattlesnake.”

“Don’t they hang Eagles fans in Texas?’

“You’d be surprised how many Cowboys fans show up here to watch Sunday football. I’ve been called every name in the book but all in all they are my friends. Had to add on an extra room and the grill became a kitchen. Lucky man to have met Donna Lu. She can cook up a storm. Ain’t no waste in her kitchen.”

“How long you owned the joint?”

“Well like I said Pa died twenty years ago. We struggled taking over. Pa didn't care about the condition of the building and his aging customers were slowly dying away. I noticed Cowboy fans seemed to like a bit of banter when I wore my Eagles gear. You didn’t notice the Eagles flag flying over my roof?”

“No sir, No sir.”

“I went to work nights, loading and unloading trucks for Stan Literski. Hell of a nice guy. Paid well, worked hard. Put the money into the bar.” He handed me my drink.

I walked over to the jukebox. It was filled with old country music. Sad songs about life gone wrong. Pushed some song called Ebdas Lament. Let your hair down girl could be heard coming out of the speakers.

I sat a couple seats down from her, nodded my head. “Texas, sure is hot.”

“You ain’t hitting on me son are you? Last man I had to shoot. Self defense. I had warned him and Billy Bob and all the regulars vouched for me.”

I heard Billy Bob from the other end of the bar, “Be honest Lizzy. You had threatened us all with a hex from your prison cell. I sure wasn’t going to stand up to your wrath.”

I chuckled.

“The demons in that whiskey drinking will get you? Pretty soon you’ll start seeing things that ain’t there,” she said.

“How’d you know?”

“A gift from the great spirit.” Her nose was long, her hair scraggly and she had a big wart at the tip. “I got a bit of the Haitian blood in me. The spirits, Ti bon ange wander this earth. Certainly you feel them. You gotta prepare for the journey to the dead or your spirit will stay.”

I wasn’t sure about Billy Bob and her being mean. I was thinking crazy, flat out crazy.

“Not everybody can practice the Vodoo. It comes from the inside.”

“How’d you find your way to Nowhere, Texas?

“It was the 60’s. Free love and acid and marijuana but it was hot and miserable in New Orleans. Headed to California. Only got this far before I ran out of money. Bobby Bills dad Billy hired me to clean up, serve customers, tend bar. I think I became the daughter he never had. Sweet, sweet man.”

“He had a little bit of land out there near the river. He sold me part of it and I started raising chickens and snakes. Chickens gave me sustenance and those Southern preachers bought my snakes.”

‘How come Billy Bob says you are mean?”

“Me and Billy Bob are more like Brother and Sister. We took a liking to each other and argue like cats and dogs. We are only a few years apart in age so it was natural. So happy he came across Donna Lu. Other wise he’s be just like those other two drunks at the end of the bar.”

He started laughing. “Mean as a rattlesnake, I told you. You certainly don’t think you are going to change her now do you?”

“No, no. She is as she is. I best hit the road got miles to go before the sun sets.”

“It was nice meeting you,’ extending her hand. “Liz Rourke. By the way, if you run into McAndrew again tell him I say hello.”

“Sure enough, sure enough. Billy Bob, you got yourself a nice bar. We’ll be seeing you.”

Those were some of the nicest people in Texas that I’d met. I pulled out of the parking lot and looked for the first road west.
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Written by MerleHanson

I pulled into a place just outside Waco. Billys was the name hanging from the old sign post. Parking lot was empty except for some ancient pickups and a yellow beetle.

The Bartender was a bit scrawny. He wore a white cowboy hat and a gold chain hinging round his neck. wearing a Eagle jersey with the number 92, White stitched on the back.

“You Billy?

“Bob Gibbons, son of Billy. Dad has been dead going on twenty years. Friends call me Billy Bob. Name has followed me around since grade school.”

“That your yellow bug out front?”

“I wouldn’t be seen driving one of those little foreign cars. That yeller one would be Liz’s. Don’t be getting close. She more than likely take your head off. Mean like a rattlesnake.”

“Don’t they hang Eagles fans in Texas?’

“You’d be surprised how many Cowboys fans show up here to watch Sunday football. I’ve been called every name in the book but all in all they are my friends. Had to add on an extra room and the grill became a kitchen. Lucky man to have met Donna Lu. She can cook up a storm. Ain’t no waste in her kitchen.”

“How long you owned the joint?”

“Well like I said Pa died twenty years ago. We struggled taking over. Pa didn't care about the condition of the building and his aging customers were slowly dying away. I noticed Cowboy fans seemed to like a bit of banter when I wore my Eagles gear. You didn’t notice the Eagles flag flying over my roof?”

“No sir, No sir.”

“I went to work nights, loading and unloading trucks for Stan Literski. Hell of a nice guy. Paid well, worked hard. Put the money into the bar.” He handed me my drink.

I walked over to the jukebox. It was filled with old country music. Sad songs about life gone wrong. Pushed some song called Ebdas Lament. Let your hair down girl could be heard coming out of the speakers.

I sat a couple seats down from her, nodded my head. “Texas, sure is hot.”

“You ain’t hitting on me son are you? Last man I had to shoot. Self defense. I had warned him and Billy Bob and all the regulars vouched for me.”

I heard Billy Bob from the other end of the bar, “Be honest Lizzy. You had threatened us all with a hex from your prison cell. I sure wasn’t going to stand up to your wrath.”

I chuckled.

“The demons in that whiskey drinking will get you? Pretty soon you’ll start seeing things that ain’t there,” she said.

“How’d you know?”

“A gift from the great spirit.” Her nose was long, her hair scraggly and she had a big wart at the tip. “I got a bit of the Haitian blood in me. The spirits, Ti bon ange wander this earth. Certainly you feel them. You gotta prepare for the journey to the dead or your spirit will stay.”

I wasn’t sure about Billy Bob and her being mean. I was thinking crazy, flat out crazy.

“Not everybody can practice the Vodoo. It comes from the inside.”

“How’d you find your way to Nowhere, Texas?

“It was the 60’s. Free love and acid and marijuana but it was hot and miserable in New Orleans. Headed to California. Only got this far before I ran out of money. Bobby Bills dad Billy hired me to clean up, serve customers, tend bar. I think I became the daughter he never had. Sweet, sweet man.”

“He had a little bit of land out there near the river. He sold me part of it and I started raising chickens and snakes. Chickens gave me sustenance and those Southern preachers bought my snakes.”

‘How come Billy Bob says you are mean?”

“Me and Billy Bob are more like Brother and Sister. We took a liking to each other and argue like cats and dogs. We are only a few years apart in age so it was natural. So happy he came across Donna Lu. Other wise he’s be just like those other two drunks at the end of the bar.”

He started laughing. “Mean as a rattlesnake, I told you. You certainly don’t think you are going to change her now do you?”

“No, no. She is as she is. I best hit the road got miles to go before the sun sets.”

“It was nice meeting you,’ extending her hand. “Liz Rourke. By the way, if you run into McAndrew again tell him I say hello.”

“Sure enough, sure enough. Billy Bob, you got yourself a nice bar. We’ll be seeing you.”

Those were some of the nicest people in Texas that I’d met. I pulled out of the parking lot and looked for the first road west.

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Written by MerleHanson
I pulled into a place just outside Waco. Billys was the name hanging from the old sign post. Parking lot was empty except for some ancient pickups and a yellow beetle.

The Bartender was a bit scrawny. He wore a white cowboy hat and a gold chain hinging round his neck. wearing a Eagle jersey with the number 92, White stitched on the back.

“You Billy?

“Bob Gibbons, son of Billy. Dad has been dead going on twenty years. Friends call me Billy Bob. Name has followed me around since grade school.”

“That your yellow bug out front?”

“I wouldn’t be seen driving one of those little foreign cars. That yeller one would be Liz’s. Don’t be getting close. She more than likely take your head off. Mean like a rattlesnake.”

“Don’t they hang Eagles fans in Texas?’

“You’d be surprised how many Cowboys fans show up here to watch Sunday football. I’ve been called every name in the book but all in all they are my friends. Had to add on an extra room and the grill became a kitchen. Lucky man to have met Donna Lu. She can cook up a storm. Ain’t no waste in her kitchen.”

“How long you owned the joint?”

“Well like I said Pa died twenty years ago. We struggled taking over. Pa didn't care about the condition of the building and his aging customers were slowly dying away. I noticed Cowboy fans seemed to like a bit of banter when I wore my Eagles gear. You didn’t notice the Eagles flag flying over my roof?”

“No sir, No sir.”

“I went to work nights, loading and unloading trucks for Stan Literski. Hell of a nice guy. Paid well, worked hard. Put the money into the bar.” He handed me my drink.

I walked over to the jukebox. It was filled with old country music. Sad songs about life gone wrong. Pushed some song called Ebdas Lament. Let your hair down girl could be heard coming out of the speakers.

I sat a couple seats down from her, nodded my head. “Texas, sure is hot.”

“You ain’t hitting on me son are you? Last man I had to shoot. Self defense. I had warned him and Billy Bob and all the regulars vouched for me.”

I heard Billy Bob from the other end of the bar, “Be honest Lizzy. You had threatened us all with a hex from your prison cell. I sure wasn’t going to stand up to your wrath.”

I chuckled.

“The demons in that whiskey drinking will get you? Pretty soon you’ll start seeing things that ain’t there,” she said.

“How’d you know?”

“A gift from the great spirit.” Her nose was long, her hair scraggly and she had a big wart at the tip. “I got a bit of the Haitian blood in me. The spirits, Ti bon ange wander this earth. Certainly you feel them. You gotta prepare for the journey to the dead or your spirit will stay.”

I wasn’t sure about Billy Bob and her being mean. I was thinking crazy, flat out crazy.

“Not everybody can practice the Vodoo. It comes from the inside.”

“How’d you find your way to Nowhere, Texas?

“It was the 60’s. Free love and acid and marijuana but it was hot and miserable in New Orleans. Headed to California. Only got this far before I ran out of money. Bobby Bills dad Billy hired me to clean up, serve customers, tend bar. I think I became the daughter he never had. Sweet, sweet man.”

“He had a little bit of land out there near the river. He sold me part of it and I started raising chickens and snakes. Chickens gave me sustenance and those Southern preachers bought my snakes.”

‘How come Billy Bob says you are mean?”

“Me and Billy Bob are more like Brother and Sister. We took a liking to each other and argue like cats and dogs. We are only a few years apart in age so it was natural. So happy he came across Donna Lu. Other wise he’s be just like those other two drunks at the end of the bar.”

He started laughing. “Mean as a rattlesnake, I told you. You certainly don’t think you are going to change her now do you?”

“No, no. She is as she is. I best hit the road got miles to go before the sun sets.”

“It was nice meeting you,’ extending her hand. “Liz Rourke. By the way, if you run into McAndrew again tell him I say hello.”

“Sure enough, sure enough. Billy Bob, you got yourself a nice bar. We’ll be seeing you.”

Those were some of the nicest people in Texas that I’d met. I pulled out of the parking lot and looked for the first road west.
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Written by marithomso

Teeth.

If hope is a thing with feathers, then luck is a thing with teeth. Luck is something that can grip, can hurt, it can let go. You can loose luck. It is not guaranteed and it does not live inside of your heart. Luck is dangerous because it creates hope. 

Carter Grayson knows all of this. Before today, before this moment, he'd have considered himself a very lucky man. He's always been a collector of unprompted good tidings; he's notorious for having ridiculously great things happen to him at the most opportune moments. 

Right now is not an opportune moment and right now nothing ridiculously great or unprompted is happening to him. He's being handcuffed, roughly, his mouth is bleeding, profusely, and he can't help but think to how completely unlucky this situation is. His luck has lost its teeth. 

"You have the right to remain silent," the arresting officer is grunting at him. Carter does not resist. He stares instead, at the building on fire in front of him, at the barrel of the gun that was once pointed at him, at her face as she smirks at him from across the street, her innocuous black hood pulled down low over her eyes. 

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Written by marithomso
Teeth.
If hope is a thing with feathers, then luck is a thing with teeth. Luck is something that can grip, can hurt, it can let go. You can loose luck. It is not guaranteed and it does not live inside of your heart. Luck is dangerous because it creates hope. 

Carter Grayson knows all of this. Before today, before this moment, he'd have considered himself a very lucky man. He's always been a collector of unprompted good tidings; he's notorious for having ridiculously great things happen to him at the most opportune moments. 

Right now is not an opportune moment and right now nothing ridiculously great or unprompted is happening to him. He's being handcuffed, roughly, his mouth is bleeding, profusely, and he can't help but think to how completely unlucky this situation is. His luck has lost its teeth. 

"You have the right to remain silent," the arresting officer is grunting at him. Carter does not resist. He stares instead, at the building on fire in front of him, at the barrel of the gun that was once pointed at him, at her face as she smirks at him from across the street, her innocuous black hood pulled down low over her eyes. 
#prosechallenge 
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Prose Challenge of the Week #13: Write a piece about luck, 20 words minimum for the micropoets, 500 words maximum for the storytellers. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge
Written by wennyarifani

Interview of a lifetime

“Crap!”

I look up and laughed as he crawled to the toilet trying to get rid of Max’s poo. His brand new Salvatore Ferragamo, which he bought especially for this interview, now looked like wet $400 bills.

“Stupid dog!”

“I told you since last night that suit will not go with that shoes. Even Max thought so,”

“Yeah, thanks Max,” he said sarcastically. “Now I have to go with Olivia’s choice, and she will totally delighted,”

I followed him around and I decided to wait in the car. None of us said anything until Chris broke the silence. “I miss you, you know?” he said as he shifted the gear. “If they accepted me, I can…Oh come on!!”

In front of us, a crazy traffic jam was happening. Horn was blaring and no one seemed to be moving. “I will have the interview of my life in 45 minutes! God must be kidding.”

“Ha! Bad luck is in the air!” I teased and he rolled his eyes.

“I don’t believe in bad luck,” Chris parked the car in the nearest parkway. “If I had to walk there, I will. I will attend this interview and I. Will. Not. Late.”

I watch in amazement as Chris walked away. But what can I do against a strong-willed man?

***

“Chris Miyazaki!” a woman in professional suit called him right when we entered the building. “Always dressed up sharp like the man I know. And I see you took my advice not to wear the Salvatore? The Board doesn’t like it when we played richie rich. How was the traffic?”

“It was… well, I walked myself here.”

She smiled warmly. “I can see you really want the job. Come right in.”

And there goes the longest three hours of my life. I sat there waiting, then took a walk around the building, and sat again. I was considering going home when Chris walked out of the room with the biggest grin I ever saw. And I know that only mean one thing.

I ran to him and gave him the biggest hug as he called mom. “Mom! Well, yes! Sure I will visit you but first I need to go somewhere first.”

***

“Hi, Olivia Miyazaki,” he said as he put the bouquet of flowers down. “I am sorry it took me months to visit you again. I… I am ok, I guess. And I just wanted to let you know that I got the job..”

Chris held back his tears as he continues. “I… I bought your favourite flowers. I hope you will be proud of me. And I promise I will visit you more often.”

I smiled sadly as my twin brother cleaned up my grave and gave it a kiss before he headed to Mom. “You are one lucky man."

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Prose Challenge of the Week #13: Write a piece about luck, 20 words minimum for the micropoets, 500 words maximum for the storytellers. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge
Written by wennyarifani
Interview of a lifetime
“Crap!”

I look up and laughed as he crawled to the toilet trying to get rid of Max’s poo. His brand new Salvatore Ferragamo, which he bought especially for this interview, now looked like wet $400 bills.

“Stupid dog!”

“I told you since last night that suit will not go with that shoes. Even Max thought so,”

“Yeah, thanks Max,” he said sarcastically. “Now I have to go with Olivia’s choice, and she will totally delighted,”

I followed him around and I decided to wait in the car. None of us said anything until Chris broke the silence. “I miss you, you know?” he said as he shifted the gear. “If they accepted me, I can…Oh come on!!”

In front of us, a crazy traffic jam was happening. Horn was blaring and no one seemed to be moving. “I will have the interview of my life in 45 minutes! God must be kidding.”

“Ha! Bad luck is in the air!” I teased and he rolled his eyes.

“I don’t believe in bad luck,” Chris parked the car in the nearest parkway. “If I had to walk there, I will. I will attend this interview and I. Will. Not. Late.”

I watch in amazement as Chris walked away. But what can I do against a strong-willed man?

***

“Chris Miyazaki!” a woman in professional suit called him right when we entered the building. “Always dressed up sharp like the man I know. And I see you took my advice not to wear the Salvatore? The Board doesn’t like it when we played richie rich. How was the traffic?”

“It was… well, I walked myself here.”

She smiled warmly. “I can see you really want the job. Come right in.”

And there goes the longest three hours of my life. I sat there waiting, then took a walk around the building, and sat again. I was considering going home when Chris walked out of the room with the biggest grin I ever saw. And I know that only mean one thing.

I ran to him and gave him the biggest hug as he called mom. “Mom! Well, yes! Sure I will visit you but first I need to go somewhere first.”

***

“Hi, Olivia Miyazaki,” he said as he put the bouquet of flowers down. “I am sorry it took me months to visit you again. I… I am ok, I guess. And I just wanted to let you know that I got the job..”

Chris held back his tears as he continues. “I… I bought your favourite flowers. I hope you will be proud of me. And I promise I will visit you more often.”

I smiled sadly as my twin brother cleaned up my grave and gave it a kiss before he headed to Mom. “You are one lucky man."
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Prose Challenge of the Week #13: Write a piece about luck, 20 words minimum for the micropoets, 500 words maximum for the storytellers. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge
Written by Vibha

Bloody Luck

My bloody Luck, seemed like a fist full of sand.

Empty as ever, when I opened my hand.

My palm is marked with a thousand cuts,

But not engraved with the line of luck.

I walked through thorns,

With blood oozing from my feet.

Never heard an encore or applaud for my deeds.

It was just routine to pick my self and move,

My luck seemed to live like a mourning veuve.

One such day with nothing to look ahead,

I kept walking on the stones, with a weight on my head.

I saw a wretched creature, fallen to the ground.

He was not dead, I could hear a grunting sound.

He looked at me with a sigh and a smile,

"Lucky man, you have legs to walk the mile."

He was crippled I saw, with no feet at all,

Bloody feet stuck to my torso, my luck seemed tall.

"We are soldiers", he said, "Stuck with our struggles to survive,

You are lucky to have legs, and I am lucky to be alive."

© CopyRight Vibha Lohani 2016

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Prose Challenge of the Week #13: Write a piece about luck, 20 words minimum for the micropoets, 500 words maximum for the storytellers. The winner will be chosen based on a number of criteria, this includes: fire, form, and creative edge. Number of reads, bookmarks, and shares will also be taken into consideration. The winner will receive $100. When sharing to Twitter, please use the hashtag #ProseChallenge
Written by Vibha
Bloody Luck
My bloody Luck, seemed like a fist full of sand.

Empty as ever, when I opened my hand.

My palm is marked with a thousand cuts,

But not engraved with the line of luck.

I walked through thorns,

With blood oozing from my feet.

Never heard an encore or applaud for my deeds.

It was just routine to pick my self and move,

My luck seemed to live like a mourning veuve.

One such day with nothing to look ahead,

I kept walking on the stones, with a weight on my head.

I saw a wretched creature, fallen to the ground.

He was not dead, I could hear a grunting sound.

He looked at me with a sigh and a smile,

"Lucky man, you have legs to walk the mile."

He was crippled I saw, with no feet at all,

Bloody feet stuck to my torso, my luck seemed tall.

"We are soldiers", he said, "Stuck with our struggles to survive,

You are lucky to have legs, and I am lucky to be alive."

© CopyRight Vibha Lohani 2016
#poetry  #luck 
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