I love my alots a lot!
|the first alot!|
The alot is the creation of Allie Brosh whose new book Hyperbole and a Half generated a fist fight here at FPLM when one copy turned up early and we all wanted it.
And I know you all will want a copy too cause it's, after all, alot of book!
So, let's have a writing contest!
Write a story with 100 or fewer words. (Every word counts, including the title if you use one; you don't have to)
Post the story in the comments column of this blog post when the contest is open.
The contest opens at 9am Saturday 11/23 and closes at 9am Sunday 11/24. All times are Eastern Shark time.
[Make sure your entry appears! There should be no lag time between posting your entry and seeing it appear. If you do NOT see your entry, tweet to me @Janet_Reid and I'll try to help you.]
Do not post anything BUT entries in the comment section, ok? If you want to offer kudos or observations, wait till the results post on Monday. (your comments will just get deleted and you don't want that)
Use the following words in your story:
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
oh no, too late! Contest is now closed.
|Alot of edits and alot of royalties joined the first alot!|
Gas hissed from the valve under the unmistakable sign: FLAMMABLE. Sydney struck another match, only to watch it go out.
"Damn it! Why won't you light?"
She fell back, crying. So much had gone wrong lately, beginning with that night. Not caring about the weather alert, she drove to Cameron's. She remembered missing a curve in the road... Her car sinking... Gasping for air... Cameron's hand... His heroic tug... Watching him slip beneath the ice.
"I miss you, Cameron. I miss you a lot."
"I miss you, too. But it's not your time," he whispered, blowing out yet another match.
The security guard burst into the room and used a fire extinguisher to put the small fire out. It had barely started when the alarms alerted security. Damn smoke detectors. I'm trying to do science here! I sigh, not caring that the table is covered in foam. I shove it away and give a small glare to the heroic guard before looking back at the shark in front of me. I wipe off a lot of foam from the shark and smile at it, fairly pleased.
“Interesting how the shark isn't inflammable. See, not a single mark.”
Who knew that fornication and filth were so flammable? Lot had tried to be heroic and save the two angels from the people of Sodom, but it hadn’t spared the city. He was lucky enough that the angels had alerted him and told his family to leave.
His wife’s screams hit his ears, and he knew she had looked back. Lot wished he could see her one last time, but going forward was the only option. He could feel the flames lick his back as he ran; he was beyond caring.
My teacher is always alert for messes, never caring whose feelings get hurt when she spies one.
I made a heroic effort to clean mine up today and she screamed at me.
"PUT THAT DOWN! IT'S FLAMMABLE!"
I dropped the cleaner and it spilled, and she screamed even louder.
She called the janitor who called the principal who called the firemen!
Afterwards, she looked at me and said, "You sit here and think about what you have done."
I hear that a lot.
So I sat there wondering what flammable meant.
You'd think kindergarten would be easy. You'd be wrong.
Lena thought Mark was chivalrous, heroic. She felt protected, a lit match cupped inside his palm.
Now Mark says her lot in life is to be his. Their son cries, clings to her, alert to his father’s jealousy.
Mark slams her down, slaps her, beyond caring about the neighbors. She’s thankful the baby is far away, safe.
He whispers, You’re the light in my darkness. You burn only for me.
But Lena’s not the only flammable one. Pinned beneath him, she flicks the lighter she hid earlier. She smiles even as Mark screams, even as her own skin sizzles.
(after Anne Sexton)
Her calling card
is made of twilight,
and when that witch
asks the stars
to burn, flammable
hearts will turn heroic,
out of its habits –
I have been her kind.
Gypsy in the woods, realigning
her own lot, telling the future
with stolen bones,
her eyes are alert
and yellow as the warning moon –
I have been her kind.
possessed and beyond
caring for her own secrets,
heretic, harlot, and heathen –
I have been her kind,
unashamed, heart cracking
out of my chest, today
there are a thousand ways different
“Leather’s flammable, right?”
“Are you asking for Phoebe’s brother or for yourself?”
He ignored my oblique pop culture reference in order to alert me to what lay inside my bag, my Hermès Birkin bag that had nearly resorted to violence on the Blue Jasmine film’s auction lot when I won the bid.
The allure of the lovely, pliant brown leather rapidly converted to repulsion upon seeing what had crawled inside. Irregardless of my precautions, it was an alot.
My partner looked at me with caring eyes. “I’m sorry, babe.”
There would be no heroics.
“Get the gasoline and the matches.”
No one chooses their lot in life… it’s a genetic crap-shoot.
The five man squad flanked her. They herded her with flashlights mounted on semi-automatic rifles. She dodged their lights… like she was flammable, protected by darkness.
The girl; weak but alert… was a delicate porcelain figure in a blackened landscape, scrambling for her life.
He watched… thought of his wife and daughter that he couldn't save last year.
Without caring about his safety… wasn't heroic just instinctive, he swept down. He felt the caress of angel’s feathers, as he took the girl under his wing.
Then they ran.
The leader was a complete idiot.
"Ammo?" I asked, the day before the hunt.
"But what caliber?"
"Just bring a lot. And be alert."
Next morning, I was frustrated, but past caring. I'm an experienced hunter; I'd show them how it's done.
Imagine my surprise to see a field of men in spike-covered onesies, with large round animals on leashes.
"Where's your Alot?" said the leader, eyeing my rifle. "And what's this?" indicating my camo. "Don’t you know Flammables can't see prickly Lerts, and can only be killed by Alots? Stupidity's not a heroic way to die."
The sniper’s bullet tears through my leg, dropping me where I stand. Should have been more alert but I’m long past caring. I’ll die here, far from home, penance for my sins.
I glance down, see both legs still intact, but the hole – Jesus. My head swims; how heroic for a soldier to faint at the sight of blood.
I drag myself behind some rocks but the sand burns after me. Is sand flammable? Minutes – hours? – later, someone hauls me to the helicopter, to safety.
“Dying’s easy.” The face isn’t friendly. “You’ll suffer your lot like the rest of us.”
Lacey pushed Mother in the wheelchair towards the secluded lot beside their house.
Mother yelled, “Who?” into the Life Alert device around her neck.
Lacey yanked it away.
Mother hollered, “Eat!”
Lacey rolled her eyes. She’d been heroic, caring for her all these months. She parked the chair, pulled out Mother’s old will, soaked it with flammable liquid, lit it.
Mother clapped, “Pretty!”
Lacey placed a new will on her lap, “Sign.”
Mother threw the pen.
Lacey retrieved it, “Sign!”
Lacey doused the chair with the liquid.
Eyes suddenly alert, Mother signed.
Lacey smiled, struck another match.
There came a mewing at the door of Heroic Harold the ocelot. A drunk each eve, a paramedic every other morn, the gentle sound alerted him to set down his heavy-cream White Russian. On his stoop lay a spotted kitten, pawing at a note.
“‘Caution: Flammable Contents.’” He flipped over the card. “‘Except for her, I have eaten all of our litter. My heart is too empty and my stomach too full for the caring I know she needs.
“‘P.S. I miss you.’”
He scratched away the tear ruffling his fur, and then carried inside his last remaining offspring.
His name was Kyle. Tall, dark and heroic, he was so hot his sweat was flammable. Men like Kyle don’t see women like me as anything other than as baby sitters caring for children they have with other women. He did like me, a lot, so much in fact that we enjoyed each other, and a bottle of Moscato, in the back seat of his Beamer. I thought I should alert his wife to his infidelity, but didn’t have to, because she already knew. They had a fight, she had a gun, I was the babysitter during her funeral.
It takes too much outta me to be the caring type. Six months now that she's been gone and I've done wracked myself with guilt. It's the kind that burns deep inside—a transmutable, flammable pain lightin' up when I least expect. And the only way I've found to douse that fire is with another drink.
“Whiskey?” the barkeep asks.
“Make it a double'n leave the bottle.”
“That'll cost a lot, but me listenin's free.”
“I'll alert ya if needed.”
Five fingers fill the glass and already I feel the flames receding. I ain't never been much of the heroic sort.
She watched the house from across the dark vacant lot, praying the material was flammable enough. She’d seen them go inside—holding hands, smiling. A single tear fell. He had looked at her like that once, eyes full of love and caring. Not anymore. When the smoke finally appeared, she smiled and whispered softly, “Three...two...one.” The explosion’s shockwave gently shook the car. After dialing 911 to alert the fire department, she sat back to enjoy the blaze, anticipating the irony of heroic firemen dragging two bodies out in defeat. Only then could she sleep.
The relentless clang of slot machines stopped for good during second shift. Seniors stubbornly clutched their plastic change bowls, ignoring the flashing fire alerts. Even as the pit boss ordered evacuation, they plunked nickels into uncaring receptacles, focused on jackpots and the courtesy-of-me free drinks.
When they finally abandoned hope of either and stormed the exit, their highly flammable clothing and orthopedic shoes were no match for the blaze. A heroic security guard managed to break down an exit I hadn’t properly secured and a few managed to escape. Maybe next time they’ll remember to tip their barmaid.
There were enough alerts they became inured to the sound while applying their best quick fixes, sucking canned air and listening to Houston's directions.
They drew lots for who would be the heroic one, the one who would take his fragile flammable self outside the vessel to fix the breach. That was when they thought there was only one.
Eventually they silenced Houston, past caring what anybody on the ground had to communicate to the Heavens. It was easy to envision an uncaring God, with nothing to hold them to Earth.
“Alot? It’s ‘a lot’! Don’t you know anything?”
“Bah! It’s a space. A nothing.” The leprechaun smirked atop his 900-page editorial atrocity-peppered manuscript.
I am a caring person—mostly—but my every grated nerve shot to high alert status.
“Nothing? This is nothing!” I grabbed the nearest flammable substance—a bottle of lighter fluid—and doused him with it. A quick flick of my Bic. The leprechaun—and his shitty manuscript—were history.
I lit my last fag of the day and sighed. One more heroic victory for Editorial Correctness. A good day’s work indeed.
The newspaper called me heroic.
No one knew how the fire started, only that I had rushed in, grabbed the girl, saved the day.
Just doing my job, the journalist quoted me.
The woman died the next day. By then, I was above the fold, captured in a camera flash that threatened to illuminate the secret I hid beneath yellow turnouts.
Love is flammable.
I live for the alert tones that ring through the firehouse. I live while others die, their deaths plotted, carefully executed. I’m a professional. Caring. Beyond reproach.
She should’ve known that. They all should have.
"Rule number one, be mindful of Miss Mary," whispers Flo who knows not to systematize the orchestrated disorder in the abandoned lot. “Rule number two, don't put the same sizes all together or they be gone before Cary Grant finishes his latte."
Nick dumps his coffee. We’ve been put on alert.
“The newbies wanna be heroic,” laughs Mary flashing her caring crooked smile.
The boys are oblivious to the boarded up houses. Mary tosses her cigarette. I hope nothing is flammable. We sort the winter coats as a crowd gathers.
“Get ready for the stampede,” warns Mary.
David rubbed the slip of paper. The fucking lottery—what’re the odds!
He recalled his boss’s face when, not caring, he’d told him to drop dead. That mouth had dropped wide, incapable of vomiting the censure he always kept at the ready. Oh, and his coworkers! They’d been wildly alert as they silently cheered David’s heroic confrontation.
Poor souls. Technically, they were lost already. But not David. Not anymore.
He lit a match, dropping it at the barricaded door without hesitation. Let’s see how flammable a sad life really is.
Let them find him, he could afford a good lawyer.
Like Lot’s wife, she’d turned to salt.
Inside was nothing but rock; her heart parched, arid. She was beyond caring. Looking back had done this. He’d done this to her.
And with her own sister. What a funny little coincidence - Marybeth putting him in the same rest home as her. Of course, she’d suggested it. Often. “We’ll visit, dear. Like old times.”
The heroic effort to smile sweetly!
“Really? Oh, Francine!”
Marybeth always was rather stupid.
Now Steven sat across the hall, breathing. As alert in his chair as a pumpkin.
She smiled, inhaling nicotine. Oxygen was so flammable.
The Heroics were our champions, until we discovered their origin. A hidden camera revealed their true, hideous forms.
We captured the lot of them and studied their biology. We found out they were flammable, though extreme heat was needed.
"No, please," they pleaded. "We came here to protect you."
We were less caring. "We don't tolerate monsters," we said. We cheered as napalm burned them dead.
And so, nobody was on the alert for the real monsters that invaded Earth. Few of us survived the fire that rained down from the sky.
Karma's a b*tch, and irony's an alien.
-We do this a lot. Third time today.
“Bad out there.”
-In here too. Too much O2, even this dirt’s flammable.
-And I’m supposed to stop it? I didn’t sign up for this heroic shit. I’m a-
“Scientist. I know. But Ohanna’s been AWOL two days. I warned him. Vigilant, ever vigilant.”
-Gone native. From caring too much. Wakes up, discovers he’s a Martian.-
“There! Again. I’ll open the hatch. You check.”
-My God! Ohanna! No.... Close it! Close it!-
“It’s okay. Got it. What about...?”
-Did what you told him. Vigilant, vigilant. Became... a lert!”
“Lot five is up for auction.” The man with the mink-brown toupee banged his gavel on the podium.
Byron stood in the crowd, rubbing elbows with boys in faded hipster denim, alert and keenly aware that he appeared to be one of them.
A crate marked flammable was dragged in front of them. The auctioneer pulled back nails in the lid with caring tugs on the pry bar. “Statue of the Annunciation. Lacquered Mahogany.”
As he pulled back the lid, it took a heroic effort for Byron to subdue his arousal.
A grinning skull with auburn hair stared back.
"Rejection Central. Buzz speaking."
"Help! I got rejected by Janet Reid. What did I do wrong?"
"Caring, heroic figure whose lot in life is to be alert to flammable situations."
"First responder, huh? What's his problem?"
"His entire family--except the cat, of course--perishes in a house fire. He doesn't know whether to keep the cat or take it to a shelter."
"Why wouldn't he keep it?"
"He's allergic. But if he takes it to a shelter his mother-in-law vows to return from the grave and haunt him forever."
"Yikes! There's your problem. The Shark doesn't read horror."
“She’s fallen for an alittle.”
I froze. Had my guardians spotted me?
“She’ll have to unfall. Alots don’t associate with such folk. Weren’t you alert to the risk?”
I scooted behind the drapes as their steps shuffled closer.
“I’d forgotten how inflammable a teenager’s heart can be. Those alittles seem so caring and dashing, but they’re shallow as puddles.”
I caught my breath in outrage.
“What was that?”
I made a heroic dash for the door, but my horn caught the drapes, and I wound up in a tangle on the floor.
So much for alittle romance.
The break-ins were getting worse. Arsenia lived on constant alert; one lax night and she could lose everything. The thieves were a lot bolder now, no longer caring about cunning or consequences. The armed robber currently barreling towards her looked especially determined.
Arsenia moved to the entryway, her tail thrashing, scales scraping stone. She spread her wings and bellowed a warning, but the idiot trespasser kept coming. As he shouted something about glory and raised his sword, she spewed fire, consuming him in crackling flames. Arsenia smiled through the smoke. The heroic ones were always the most satisfyingly flammable.
Flames licked the walls like an overzealous puppy drinking the flammable liquid. I watched, with pride, my handiwork. Shadows dancing in the street alerted me to the arrival of others. One caring neighbor approached the enraged structure contemplating heroics, but the intense heat melted his resolve.
Screams from within sang farewell to the night and I basked in the melody. Memories of past pains coupled with the faces behind them threatened. I pushed back. They had created me. Only I could undo that. This was merely the first step to cleansing my life of the lot of them.
I hate packing groceries for people who bring their own bags. People never clean those things. Toxic gymwear, liquefied cucumbers – I’ve seen it all.
This lady had that saggy-and-blotchy-yet-heroic-and-caring face that screams: “Mom!” I grabbed her bags. Too heavy – yuckage alert. I peeked inside.
There was a head in the bag.
“There you are!” she said.
“Been here for days,” said the head cheerfully.
“Nothing flammable with him, please.”
I considered. “Corn chips okay, head?”
“Sure thing, hoss!”
I dropped in the Fritos.
Mom and the head trundled off. I turned to the next person in line.
As a steroided-out teenager in a mobile tin can, I figured I'd have heroic parking lot skills by the time I got off this heavy-g station. And no sense of smell. When I was past caring, and bored out of my mind, I'd mutter, "Red alert! Hazards are flammable!" whenever I noticed the stench of some alien's farts wafting in through my scrubbers. I never quite knew how that was translated into the alien station-tongue through my speakers, but I suspected/hoped someday it'd get me sent home.
Jacob's pub, The Smiling Dog, featured a lot of salvaged detritus, including the sort of chemical misadventures in bakelite that were incredibly flammable. The real ’Smiling Dog’ sat in pride of place behind the bar, its alert pose angled towards the beer taps.
The pub went up one Guy Fawkes Night when effigies weren't the only thing being set fire to. Jacob, at first caring only about the insurance, had a change of heart. He pushed his way into the clouds of pungent smoke and collapsed before he'd gotten two paces, a heroic move completely lost on the stuffed dog.
Int. makeshift board room
“They'll be on high alert.”
“Not good for us.”
“No, but they don't know which lot we're on.”
“Are we sure?”
“No. We make it to the overturned dumpster and back and.”
“Not now Joan.”
“Caring about heroics?”
“No, we need food.”
“Use them or not, the women have done their part.”
Ext. Dusk. Patrol with flammable weapon watches a line of overturned coconut shells dash by with pink tails swaying.
“No sign of The Plague. Over.”
“Report in. Over.”
I drum my fingers on the steering wheel. This highway is like a parking lot. The In-Laws will accept nothing less than an alien apocalypse for missing Thanksgiving Dinner.
I stay alert for an exit, and glimpse an opening in the next lane. I dart forward in a heroic attempt to gain one car length, past caring whether I'll get through alive.
The driver in front of me slams on its brakes. Too late, I notice the word FLAMMABLE plastered across the vehicle's bumper.
As flames engulf my car, my last thought is, "This is a pretty good excuse."
What’re you looking at? Don’t smile at me. You don’t know me. The lot of you don’t know a thing about me. You assume I’m caring because why? I smiled. You really think if something went down here that I’d be heroic and save the day. If something goes down here, I’ll be the one doing it! There are no warning signs. No alerts. No clues. There’s nothing that will save you. There’s only my choice. I look at you and all I see is flammable.
“Hi, Welcome to Target, can I help you?
"Holy flammable pajamas, Batman; that was heroic!"
I was standing in a puddle of glass shards and Merlot. "That was my last bottle."
"Better the last lot of vino than a single mouse in the pantry."
"You are so alert—and caring." I whisked the tea towel off the counter to dab my boots. "In case you missed it, the mouse survived—thank Gotham."
"It…survived?" My friend clambered on the counter. "OMG where?!"
"Disappeared under the stove," I said. "Now quit being such a ninny Cat Woman and get me the Bat-Vac. I've a sudden need to fly to France."
Co-workers described her as professional, caring. Top brass used: alert, unflappable.
Tanya relived the interview in echoes, reflexively grinning at unflappable.
“Your report on flammable qualities of Hydra-C. Impressive,” he snorted, cronut crumbs forming a parking lot at the corner of his lips. She was management material.
The bell chimed. Tanya crumpled the job offer and looked up in time for his heroic leap down the ramp.
“Mommy! I got a job today!”
“Oh really? What is it?” Licking her thumb, she attacked the dried milk moustache.
“I pass out construction paper!”
If only it were that easy.
Sam’s mouth went dry. She was going to turn him into a frog, he knew it. That’s what witches did, after all. He had to keep alert. Not fall for her sneaky witchy-ness.
Her right eye bulged out of her socket as she leaned forwards. Sam gagged. Her breath stank. A lot.
“Here’s a cookie for being so heroic.”
Sam loved cookies. He gobbled it down, not caring if it did turn him into a frog. A tingling sensation filled his belly. A moment later, he exploded in a cloud of purple smoke.
“Hmm, they really are slightly flammable.”
I made a point of scaring neighborhood kids. Bloody sheets hanging on the clothesline one day. Burying their furry friends alive the next. I’d just sit back and enjoy the heroics. Chubby fingers frantically scooping out the dirt from around Rover’s lifeless body. Then I’d go have a smoke and set off the First Alert in Grandpa’s nursing home.
Until they caught me. Now I’m holed up in a cell with some serial killer.
“You may need this.” He tosses me a roll of smoldering toilet paper.
“But it’s - it’s flammable.”
“This is Hell, kid. Get used to it.”
They’d said it was her lot in life to be a nurturing person. Heroic, they’d said. Nobody had been surprised when she’d started working at the rest home.
They probably imagined her pushing drooling geriatrics in their blankets and wheelchairs.
She smiled at her burden. Wheelchair, yes. Blanket, yes. But her last barrel marked FLAMMABLE wasn’t an old person. And the dripping that left a line behind her wasn’t piss.
Alert to any noise in the sleeping building, she left the wheelchair at the end of the hall and pulled out her lighter.
Sometimes caring meant doing the hard things.
I wanted one as a kid. A few years later the flammable breath was added. It was too bad that it wasn’t known that the firerock had a cumulative effect until after lot 2087.
Lot 2087 was when they stopped being sterile. They were cute and caring parents, it was too bad that the third generation grew to heroic proportions. At about the same time it was found out that after you fed them a pound of firerock you didn’t need to do it anymore.
Someone in Miami didn’t stay alert and now the Everglades has yet another invasive species.
A drugged sleep kept six-year-old Tiffany in the car as I set up a surprise for her mother; a flammable canister in an empty lot. By noon the temperature would hit 104°. The heat would cause the canister to explode and my ex-wife would arrive with her "heroic" firefighting buddies to put the fire out. They wouldn't know about the canisters hidden in the shade until one-by-one they went off. My ex would die in the same hell she put me through. And, if I stayed ahead of the Amber Alerts, my daughter would learn how caring I am.
Caring for the (supposedly) mythological Flaming Owl takes an awful lot of work. Beekeepers mask, non-flammable pajamas and oven mitts are necessary tools.
What’s a Flaming Owl? It’s like a Phoenix except the flames are permanent.
At feeding time, remain alert, no heroic movements.
Things to remember.
(i) Singed eyelashes are a regular hazard.
(ii) Having no eyelashes isn’t avant-garde cool, you just end up with a surprised expression plastered across your face.
(iii) Your supplier should never mark feed packages “CHARCOAL RATS” if you want Fedex to deliver.
(iv) Smile when you lie.
(v) Tell no one.
“Flammable,” the latest hit from the hot new group Heroic Howl, blared over the club’s speakers.
“Cryers, flyers, lowlife liars,
No one caring, no one daring,
Beaters, bleaters, charming cheaters,
Be alert so you don’t get hurt.”
Couples stumbled and gyrated in a drunken semblance of dancing. I stood to the side, watching.
He’d been full of excuses the last time I caught him. “I had a lot to drink. It didn’t mean anything."
I danced into the crowd, arms raised above my head. The gun, heavy in my coat pocket, banged against my hip, keeping time with the music.
Tasmanian dreams, she was having them almost every night. Not caring what her friends thought, she was determined to take that internship in Australia if it was the last thing she did! Wallabies and wombats, does life get any better than that? Charlotte could hardly wait to be to be done with high school, these people are so immature!
Because of the heroic efforts of Jamie Kirkpatrick, this study is possible. They are alert to the fact that the buttongrass morelands are extremely flammable, but what about the effects of mining? Developers and politicians are a bad lot!
Over-pressured cans of beans launched into the night sky like flatulent Roman candles. Buckets of flammable paint fire-balled in short arcs onto nearby empty lots.
The fire department fought with heroic effort. Multiple explosions forced them to pull back. They watched the line of old stores burn, alert for secondary eruptions.
“They were nothing but fire traps,” said the fire chief, beaming at a new geyser of flame and sparks.
“That’s very caring of you, Pat,” said the Marshal, sad and sarcastic.
“Bound to happen.”
“Did it have to be tonight?”
“Well, it’s been so long since the last one.”
Christmas trees are highly flammable, bodies are not. You need an accelerant. Today it's gasoline, but I've been known to get creative in a pinch. My heroic act was letting the dog out. Only sick freaks hurt animals. You assume I'm a sick freak because I'm disposing of a body, but you're wrong. I don't dispose of saints. Alert the cops, if you want. You wouldn't be a caring, concerned citizen if you didn't, but silence keeps you safe, and I'm betting you care a lot more about your safety right now than your civic duty. Smart girl.
There were a lot of characteristics a young super hero needed to have in order to graduate Superhero Training.
Emma proved she was heroic by saving the llama from the burning barn.
She proved she was caring by swaddling the baby bunnies in blankets after their hutch burned down.
She worked diligently every day, putting out fires. Always alert for a new inferno.
One day she had had enough and marched up to the Headmaster of Superhero Training school.
“Sir, we need to reassess our building supplies. Magnesium might be too flammable.”
Anthony stands before us, a match lit in his hand—he’s lost all control. We shouldn’t have followed him to the empty lot behind the school, but of course we were curious. We stare at Anthony, alert and trembling.
Lisa’s eyes soften and her caring smile simmers him down. “This isn’t safe.”
She starts toward him slowly then more confidently. My heart pounds; this isn’t the time to be heroic, I wish she knew that. With the flammable gasoline spread everywhere our feet touch and the lit match, all he has to do is let it go. Then we’re gone.
They gathered around Dumbassery Inc., tossing flammables into a heap.
Could Of and Would Of alerted the press. There were hyphens, apostrophes, a Could Care Less.
Alot was so caring he even brought booze. The Theres drank it up and uncoiled the fuse.
Affect and Effect giggled with delight. Lie and Lay couldn't wait to watch it ignite.
Dont poured the gas and Cant lit the matches. Dumbassery Inc. was now nothing but ashes.
Scotch was passed 'round and apostrophes claimed. Misspellings corrected, bad grammar shamed.
Heroic indeed, we will always remember, the day bad grammar died with the embers.
I was on alert. The first time I had looked into those sea green eyes, my heart burst into a flammable infatuation. My instinct told me to stay away, but I was beyond listening, beyond caring. I wanted him.
He had done the right thing. It wasn't heroic, it was the truth.
"I'm married," he said.
"So." I smiled at him. "Am I asking you to get married?"
I walked into the affair with my eyes open. I had suffered - a lot. Still, I had no one to blame, but myself.
Not this time. I kept walking.
He looks so sweet asleep. Looks can be deceiving.
I slap him and his head pops up, fully alert. His shoulders strain as he tests the ropes.
“Baby, untie me, I won’t hold this against you. You know I love you.” His voice drips with caring. My bruises tell me that he will and he doesn’t. I can finally see through the heroic façade to the manipulative wretch inside.
With such a sulfurous soul I thought he would be more flammable. Good thing I brought lots of gasoline.
Often I will see or read something that triggers an event from my past. Awakening emotions now becoming alert and no longer buried neatly inside.
In those moments I am left with explosions of feelings and memories. As though almost flammable experiences, that scream to be unleashed with a purpose to be shared in some heroic way. I read a posting today on FB regarding the question, "Who believes in miracles?" Something inside me stirred. While reading a lot of the responses I came across one response that said, " no I do not believe in miracles, every thing is cause and effect". I stared at the word "no" for awhile. Only one caring response from a DMD mother had answered differently to that question.
Dear Lord. Stay alert for guys like me. My temper is flammable. Just ask my step-mother, who told me to clean the garage when I was thirteen. Ask the caring neighbor who ‘accidentally’ ran over our dog, or my heroic college buddy who took my keys because I was drunk.
They’re all buried in the empty lot next to the church. I never told anyone. Now I’m telling you.
I crossed myself after the silent prayer and walked into the confessional. I drew the curtain and sat back to listen.
A child’s voice.
“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”
Some called Quincy heroic, but mostly everyone knew he was just the caring type. The type who would give his last dollar to the poor—there were a lot of poor.
Poor troubled souls who would use Quincy's dollar to fuel their barrel fires, because even cash is flammable.
But Quincy didn't care. He came from the slums and was going places. Still, he never forgot his roots.
When the sirens wailed the alert of oncoming bombs, Quincy gave more than cash saving the poor. In the end he really was a hero.
The can of hairspray sat on the kitchen counter. What was it doing there? Its hot-pink color broken up only with a silver skull and the word, flammable, alerting all of humanity that this sticky spray for hair was highly dangerous! When I first met him, I was attracted to him – a lot. His heroic act of protecting me from the ire of that dumb douche bag at the bar, showed that he was a caring man, but now, realizing that he was using women’s hairspray . . . well, the magic was lost.
I was alert, barely caring. The fog in my head is heavy like the chain around my waist. A red haze occludes my vision as I strain to make out the tank with flammable written in bold. The vapor gags me. I’m soaked in fuel.
I lay there dazed and bound, grasping at memories. My heart pounding, nothing is clear: a phone call, vacant lot, the money, a blow to the head, darkness.
I’m screwed, there's no MacGyvering my way out of this one. Where’s the heroic Sam Dryden when you need him?
Wait, is that smoke?
I brace myself against the whistling of the acrid night wind, distant police sirens and earnest beating of my own heart.
She shifts the blaster to her other hip.
"Listen, I know you're a heroic...caring lot. The kinda guys who like to help, but..."
I wince. Caring. She says it like it's a disease.
"Nah, yeah, and you're the kind of person who likes to reduce baby carriages to flammable tar heaps-"
"I never said -"
“What if they find out?”
"Well you don't have to alert the navy..."
"It’ll never work! My parents won’t let me date a supervillain."
The prisoner walked up the gangway.
The guard checked his clipboard. “That’s the lot of you.” He flicked his cigarette at the man. “Not looking heroic now, are you?”
“I’m beyond caring what I look like.” The prisoner’s eyes were hollow from hunger but alert. He picked up the cigarette butt and walked onto the rusty ship.
“Last boat ride you’ll ever take,” the guard said.
The prisoner dropped the still-smoldering butt into a drum marked “flammable.” The oily rags inside whooshed into flame, and he kicked the drum over onto the hose refueling the ship.
Procuring the child's hotdog — easy.
Giving it up after it's already in one's mouth — hard.
Alert to incoming cars, she dropped a chunk in the busy intersection, then left a morsel trail back to the gate.
Paw on latch, Cat smiled.
Careful. Dog wasn't as stupid as he looked, and the uncaring bastard had a flammable temper. Dog's keen sense of smell led him down the trail. You'd think he'd smell himself, take minute to bathe. Foul beast.
She liked the sound of screeching tires, liked it lots.
Now for the heroics, rescue Kitty from the backyard's elm.
The body resembled a rag-and-bone heap of red gingham.
Stacks had caught a bum pouring something flammable on it.
“I doan know nuthin’,” the man snarled, then genuflected. Yellow tatters of sleeves fluttered like a 20-foot Gumby announcing a used-car lot.
“Unh-hunh.” It wasn’t that Stacks was uncaring. He’d just seen too much.
Sweeping the area, he caught a glint and bent to bring the bracelet in range.
“Don’t be heroic,” the raggedy man glowered. The identifier’s alert clanged: “This child is wanted for questioning, under suspicion of pestilence warfare.”
Damn, Stacks thought, that’s the third mangled kid this week.
You’d think the end of the world would be terrifying. That it’d be filled with screaming, panicking people desperately trying to “save” themselves. But I don’t need saving. My lot in life wasn’t one to be envied. And, the way I figure it, the quicker I make an exit, the better. I was never the caring, heroic type. I mostly spent my time just trying to stay alert. Trying to fight the urges. The smell of smoke and destruction creeps under the metal bars. I glance around the small cell. Not much in here that’s flammable. Except me of course.
Words are thoughts rendered flammable. And Luke wasn’t in the mood to be heroic. Safeguarding her from the fundamental truth of their relationship meant caring for her in a way he’d already told her he was incapable of. So he did the next best thing he could think of and poured her whiskey. A lot of whiskey.
There was a greedy smile on her face while they talked about commitment until she heard “Being serious is hard when you know the other person isn’t alert.”
He waited until she spilled some whiskey before dropping his cigarette into her lap.
"Bring a lot." Jared assured the waiter, smirking at Alexis. “I ate the hottest peppers in Thailand like a local."
"That’s almost heroic." Alexis faked flirtatious. Her brother's business partner was a pretentious oaf.
"Isn’t it a superpower yet?" Jared gave a boastful laugh. Why had she let her brother set them up?
Alexis enjoyed her excellent soup, not caring that Jared progressed from moist red to dripping purple.
"Don’t worry." he gasped, heaved, and swallowed, “I’m only, like, alert.”
"I hope you're not wearing anything flammable." Alexis had to let her brother down. “Check please!”
Marylou was beyond caring as she dragged her cheating husband’s body, along with the can of flammable liquid, deeper into the swamp behind her abandoned lot.
An owl, on high alert, hooted out a warning. A heroic effort, Marylou thought. But…too late.
She shined her flashlight on the water’s surface. A pair of reptilian eyes shone back. A new option. Less mess.
She glanced at the body. Gas can? Eyes?
His hand slipped from hers and slapped against the water. The gator slid closer. Marylou smiled.
The eyes have it.
She waited. Then Marylou trudged back home, practicing her lie.
I had always been a caring mother. Alert to all my children’s needs, sacrificing my life for them. But that was before I met Justin who hated kids.
The heroic fireman, who arrived too late to save them, accused me of putting my toddlers in flammable pjs.
I said it was a communist plot. All those factories in China making our children’s clothing and us parents getting the blame. Tears streamed down my face, TV reporters and juries love that kind of stuff.
A lot of girls wish they were me, but that’s only because they don’t know the truth. I’m more than my push-up bra and French manicure. My lips are chapped and annoyed. This isn’t my first make-out session, and I’m certain it won’t be my last. I keep waiting to be swept off my feet, to sink into a kiss that’s practically flammable. Instead, I’m completely alert as his tongue flicks sloppily around my mouth. There’s nothing heroic about a loveless kiss, but I hope to eventually stop caring. He pulls back, grins, then goes back at it.
“—not my fault! I mean, did you know flammable and inflammable was the same thing?”
“Oh. Well, still.”
The station had been on alert for ten whole minutes this time before Greg injured himself in an idiotic “heroic" act. It was like a freakin’ record or something, and Rebecca almost resisted sticking a gold star to his good leg.
He pursed his lips at her hastily scribbled post-it and pulled it off immediately. She barely stifled a snort.
“Wow, gee, thanks a lot, Becks. So caring. Best partner ever.”
She shrugged. “I do what I can.”
“Where am I?”
The velvety dark swallowed her words, spitting back strange metallic echoes. Her ears twitched, alert for any sound of movement.
“Tell me or I’ll -”
“Don’t think of doing anything heroic, girl.” The robotic voice bore no emotion, yet the threatening tone was unmistakable. “You humans are so wonderfully flammable.”
Suddenly there was light, so blinding she closed her eyes against it. Opening them revealed an old indoor car lot, with shadowy figures lurking behind the bright beams.
“We can be caring, if you please us.”
Cheri drove to the lot and put the car in park with a nauseating crank that put Mark on alert. He looked over his former sister-in law with a snort as she said, "I'm here for Stella's things."
Mark laughed, "How noble. Positively heroic." He threw the box on the seat with a less-than-caring gesture.
"You know, you ougta move. These junkyards, they're so flammable." Cheri drawled.
Mark guffawed, "No, they're not."
Cheri took out a bottle of vodka with his wedding hanky stuffed into the open top. She smiled and flicked on a lighter under the hanky, "Yes. They are."
D-G-A-D-G-A. Simple chords, walking tempo.
One last set together, split the cash, split up. She sits to my left, her caring smile heroic for the lie it tells our crowd.
D-G-A-D-G-A, edgier now. I scowl, she sings.
I’ve had women on the side, not a lot. I found her showering with Jake. You don’t unsee that.
Her voice is flammable, exploding my fingers over the strings. I solo, wending up the scale. Back to the riff, D-G-A-D-G-A. Her voice lands the song. We lock eyes, mutually alert.
They scream approval. Jake waits offstage. She breezes past him unaffected. Hope flickers.
My boss John had a flammable personality. He'd burned through three good strong teams, ruining the lot and not caring. Stock values plummeted. Higher-ups noticed.
I'd been his secretary, drafting letters, fetching coffee... hardly heroic.
I never expected a private job alert from John's boss. We don't get 'fired', per se. Nobody was ever fired, but I'd stopped believing the lie that people got 'transferred'.
A drop of ipecac in his coffee sent him running for the nearest toilet. My body weight ensured his flame was snuffed out permanently.
I even got a job completion bonus.
My system reboots. Orange alert lights flash above me. I pull myself up. My thighs are crushed under the ship’s steel door. Ruptured skin mixed with pools of biosynthetic blood, and my carbon-steel bones smashed to scrape metal. Pain – I feel no longer.
Quick skeletal assessment and I eject my two limps. I slither on my torso and pull ahead. Most flammable fuel in the lot is stored in the back.
What I’m doing isn’t heroic, it’s human. Caring for this ship was my purpose. But I was human once, I can override my purpose. I will destroy this ship.
“Don’t take heroic measures,” we told them. Mom wasn’t going to make it to Alert Bay, much less to Royal Vic. Our local paramedics are a caring lot, not jaded like some in the city, so they did what they could until they could do no more. Jerry, the teacher who doubles as a mortician, asked when he could pick her up, if we needed anything.
“We’ll let you know. Soon.”
We took her to the beach, laid her on the sand, and looked for anything flammable that could help light driftwood.
She would have a right and proper burial.
Paaj missed the last train. Nervous and alert, she hurried for the bus.
She cursed in Hmong and cut through a well-lit lot to a closed gas station. Hispanic kids smoked beside the pumps. Loud. Not caring about the English signs. “Flammable.” “No smoking.”
Two Asian men moved her way on the opposite sidewalk. Instinctively, Paaj crossed.
They struck her on the shoulder. She fell. Her arm tangled in her purse strap.
Shouts came. Rushing footsteps. Paaj felt rough hands lift her and push. She smelled cigarettes.
Paaj ran for the approaching bus, not slowing to thank her heroic saviors.
The phone buzzes with an alert. I don't consider myself heroic, just caring. I quickly pull on my clothes and head into the night. There isn't a lot that scares me more than a open space fire in a dry year. This call is alarming, there is plenty of flammable materials in the area.
I arrive on the scene, men in yellow suits are dousing the flames. The fire is under control.
I breathe, we caught it in time.
There is a tug on my sleeve. I look down and see a little girl.
“Thanks for saving my house.”
“Cause of death on the cake decorator?” asked Detective Caring.
“Deep brain injury. Weapon was a red pen shoved up his nasal cavity,” said Sergeant Flammable.
“Witnesses, alert bystanders?”
“Nope, and nobody made any heroic efforts to hide the weapon, indicating a crime of passion. Luckily the victim kept pictures of all his cakes; these’re the last ten.”
“What’s the story on this?” asked Caring, pointing to a cake inscribed: Thank’s Alot Miss P!
“Party for Miss Perfetto, retired from the Times after 45 years.”
“Forty five years doing what?”
“Says here she was a copy editor.”
Alert to the vault’s defences, Eelman slithered between the lasers. His oily skin massaged the floor like a Hooters girl caring for an octogenarian pervert.
Behind the glass, the diamonds twinkled.
Eelman licked his lips. “The lot! I want the lot!”
Now for the heroic part: slipping his lock-picking tongue into the security console without being zapped. If there were lightning bolts, he was frazzlable; if there were missiles, he was impalable; if there were flames, he was flammable.
The console buzzed and the glass fell away.
Eelman made to grab the diamonds.
Bum time to realise: no arms.
"Kittens are flammable if soaked in gas", I remember my captain saying at the fireman's fundraiser. I imagined a house with a litter of six week old calico fireballs running between ceiling to floor draped rooms.
Children are screaming but I'm not on duty, let those who are be heroic. I'll just watch and roast a Ball Park, nitrate and nitrite alerts be damned.
My wife says I pretend to be caring but she all wrong. I'd do anything for her. And now, with a vacant lot to buy, we can finally add on that in-law suite.
I watch as he heroically saves her life.
I watch as she kisses him in thanks. They exchange names and numbers.
But I know the truth.
This isn’t the first time they’ve met.
It was during our town’s weekly lottery when they got together.
I watch the connection between the two; as flammable as my rage.
They part ways and he sees me.
He knows the rouse is up again.
I smile at him, scaring him in the process.
He looks in alertness and runs after her.
I withdraw my gun and do the same. This time I’ll kill them.
Elizabeth Adkins (who needs a Google account cause WordPress hates Blogger)
So. It's not like I expected to win or anything, but I did write it, so here it is. For better, for worse, or for chum:
Kelsy stood in the shadows, alert, watching the unnatural rocking of the houseboat. The conjoined shadows on the curtain echoed the boat’s rhythmic motion.
He was supposed to be her white knight, but he was no heroic figure. He wasn’t even discrete.
She walked quietly to the dock. At the galley window, she smelled the gas she’d turned on before they arrived. Not a lot, but enough. She flicked on her lighter and reached towards the window.
He thought she was past caring, but he was wrong. She’d been serious when she’d told him that hearts are flammable.
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