Friday, March 03, 2017

Contest #99

I'm reliably informed that this is the 99th flash fiction contest. (That number excludes contests that involved stacking books to make sentences, or anything involved with photos.)

99 is such a great number.
For me, it will always be the number associated with Maxwell Smart's sidekick: Agent 99.
In honor of #99, let's have a writing contest!

The usual rules apply:

1. Write a story using 100 words or fewer.

2. Use these words in the story:

3. You must use the whole word, but that whole word can be part of a larger word. The letters for the
prompt must appear in consecutive order. They cannot be backwards.
Thus: max/Maximus is ok, but agent/argument is not

4. Post the entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.

5. One entry per person. If you need a mulligan (a do-over) erase your entry and post again. It helps to work out your entry first, then post.

6. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.

7. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)

8. Under no circumstances should you tweet anything about your particular entry to me. Example: "Hope you like my entry about Felix Buttonweezer!" This is grounds for disqualification.

8a. There are no circumstances in which it is ok to ask for feedback from ME on your contest entry. NONE. (You can however discuss your entry with the commenters in the comment trail...just leave me out of it.)

9. It's ok to tweet about the contest generally.
Example: "I just entered the flash fiction contest on Janet's blog and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt"

10. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")

11. You agree that your contest entry can remain posted on the blog for the life of the blog. In other words, you can't later ask me to delete the entry and any comments about the entry at a later date.

12. The stories must be self-contained. That is: do not include links or footnotes to explain any part of the story. Those extras will not be considered part of the story.

Contest opens: Saturday 3/4/17, 8:53am

Contest closes: Sunday, 3/5/17, 9am

If you're wondering how what time it is in NYC right now, here's the clock

If you'd like to see the entries that have won previous contests, there's
an .xls spread sheet here

(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)

Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Ready? SET?

Not yet!


Nope, too late, contest closed at 9!


Claire Bobrow said...

Agent: Your entry goes over 100 words, you die!
Max: The old 100-words-or-less trick. That’s the second time I’ve fallen for that this month! And anyway, my entry is EXACTLY 98 words.

I don’t believe you.

Would you believe 99?

I don’t think so.

Agent: You’re this close to buying a one-way ticket to Carkoon.
Max: And loving it!

Agent: Your last entry? Not quite a story.
Max: Missed it by that much! Sorry about that, Chief!

Agent: Get smart, Max, or you’ll never win.
Max: I asked you not to tell me that!

Agent: Well, I am a shark.

PAH said...

The Holy Spirit is fire. Ironic, then, that a dose of heavy spirits proved the perfect reagent for calling upon the Ghost and God's mercy tonight. She’d been thrown in the well first, but that didn't work. I told them it wouldn't. She's far too smart for that.

Why listen to me? I've only been at this for 46 years…

There is a maxim among those in my line of work: burn first, ask questions later.

Oh well. Ashes to ashes. All's well that ends well. I'm off to the next.

I've got 99 problems, but a witch ain't one.

Steve Forti said...

The swelling was intense after last week's battering. My eye puffed shut for three days. Doctors had lots of questions. Told them I tried boxing. $299 hospital bill.

Lost a bit of blood yesterday. Open wounds are new. I dare not complain. Extra strength debriding agent stings. $17.59 at the pharmacy.

I screamed too loud today. Cops knocked on the door. Worried neighbors and all. Anxiety rose, but a soft, feminine voice reassured their skeptical faces.

Footsteps approach. A paddle smacks. My cheeks smart. “Harder or I can't climax!”
She growls and winds up. Fifty Shades is for the weak.

Amanda said...

“What’s going on?” My Chemistry teacher questioned our class irritatingly. “I’ve been hearing that bird-chirping sound all week.”

Her words smarted me like a reagent analyzing my thoughts, as I imagined each possible consequence if Sam and I were discovered.

I felt his eyes nudge me with reassurance from across the room. It was all his idea. He’d ordered 200 mouth-fitting chirpers which we sold to classmates. He’s said it’d be even funnier than the prank outlined in the song “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

The freshman of 1999 weren’t rats, but cunning. The birds eventually flew South…undetected!

Craig F said...

Getting ready to sneak into the alley with Salli and do some midnight howling at the moon when the will-of-the-wisp taunted. I couldn’t let it get away, so I chased it through the kitchen and down the hall. I bounced over the entertainment center and just as Bang-Bang Maxwell Silverhammer was about to come down on its head a voice boomed out…

“Got it, best one yet. Our 99th YouTube cat video. I’m sure glad he can’t figure out that laser pointer.”

“Yeah, human. You’ll find out how smart I am when you get the bill from my agent. Rowr.”

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

From the window, fingertips pressed against her prison's glass, Martha counted Max's steps over and over - 99 to the mailbox, the road. She had to be sure.

Now. Her chance. She can do this.

She stumbles off the porch. Her heart, a lurching magenta creature, batters its cage. Her throat swells, her breath breaks. No one witnesses her terror, her escape. The mailbox looms – a guard, a beacon.

Almost. There.


Back inside, Martha smiles, awaits her husband's return. She displays the mail like a trophy, spoils of one more battle in her war against fear.

Colin Smith said...

“What’s with the face, Gert? The kids?”
“Yeah, Jez. It’s Marcy.”
“The dyslexic?”
“No, that’s Staan. Remember? He drew 999 on his forehead last Hallowe’en. Marcy’s smart as a whip, but…”
“What happened?”
“She’s gone for days. I pops out to Warts-n-All for a maxi-pack of newts’ eyes. I gets home and 'Bub’s yer uncle, there she is, swell with excitement, babbling about enzymes and agents, then off upstairs.”
“There’s a loud bang from her room. I go up. No Marcy.”
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *SMACK*
“Got ‘im! I swear, Jez. I’d love to be a fly on her wall…”

JD Horn said...

When I pitched my photographic memoir, A Life in 99 Selfies, Barbara Poelle told me a smart agent knows she can only represent a select number of authors well, and she’s already reached her max.

Beth Carpenter said...

A gentleman paints highlights in the wide blue eyes of a fluffy feline. “Catatonic?” I whisper.

“It’s cute. And it matches the bedspread.”

We’re browsing Paintersmart because she says the 99-square-feet we call a bedroom needs “art”. Not that we’re likely to find any here. How hard can a painting blow? El leon on a rusty sawblade approaches maximum crapocity.

Then I see it. Slashes of lightning across a pewter sky. Bold. Evocative. Expensive.

She gazes longingly over her shoulder, like a child leaving a birthday party early. My lovely tasteless wife.

I have to smile. “Fine. Get the kitten.”

Michael Seese said...

The loop holds 99 keys. One for each cell door. My little personal prison hasn’t yet reached its maximum capacity. But I'm working on it.

I understand their plight. As much as I hate being the agent of their despair, letting them all out would be unwise.

One -- Bonnie, I think -- is not well. She may die. I guess that's sad. But I can always find another.

Each morning, one gets to enjoy a temporary parole. Which should it be today? Oh wait. It’s Monday. I’ll release the smart, chipper guy. The one the people at the office call “Jerry.”

Gigi Kern said...

99 Red Balloons played in the background as FBI Agent Maxwell Jones entered the bar, looking for his contact.

If he'd been smarter than his corrupt supervisors, he wouldn't be in this mess. Waiting for a fallen agent know for treason.

But his luck ran out two months ago when he stumbled upon an illegal operation being run by his former mentor and current supervisor.

So now here he was running for his life with only a hope and a prayer and a has been nut job. Perfect right!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

When the agent called and told me the house sold, I cried.
I’m supposed to move to a place filled to the max with people like me, old and alone. I held out as long as I could but it’s time because I haven’t been well lately.
Things will get interesting because I know what they’ll do when they find the planted husbands; one young, two middle-aged and the last smartass, old like me and used up.
Will my next birthday be spent in prison, a hospital or the morgue?
Let’s see where 99 takes me this year.

Dena Pawling said...

I hate my job.

Well, not entirely. I loved it until today. Sunshine, fresh air.........

Okay smart-ass, yeah it's not so great on rainy days. But mostly it's blue skies and wide open spaces. I get up to maximum speed and life just flows on by.

When I took this job, they promised I'd be an agent of change. Bring happiness to the masses. Now, I don't think I'll ever get this song out of my head.

The chaperone stood and called “Wanna start again?”

The happy masses shouted “99 bottles of beer on the wall!”

I hate my job.

S.D.King said...

Amy slipped magenta lipstick into Marni’s makeup bag. She meant well.

“Gotta run. You’re gonna love Michael…funny… smart!”

“Blind Date. Ha Ha.”

Amy smiled and headed to the apartment she shared with her brother.

Marni applied her makeup. No mirror necessary. Concealer first. Max Factor .99 cent tube.

Back home, Amy flew in the door with six shopping bags.

“This bag’s for you, kid – hot date outfit. Gotta run!”

Michael felt for the bag. Got dressed. Didn’t exactly fit.

Marni’s Uber driver pointed her toward Michael, laughing, “That’s gotta be him.”

Michael’s floral Talbots pants still had the tags on.

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

He lives in a castle under the sea
Secret Agent Maxwell P.D.

He is as smart as he can be
for a detective centipede.

He works all alone in his secret lair
and he lost a leg once (who knows where?)

but he says “99 are still there!”

He solves any puzzle or mystery
with yoga, kung fu, and Taoist Tai Chi.

He is as smart as he can be
Secret Agent Maxwell P.D.

RosannaM said...

Not smart, stealing from the Adam’s family. But my three sons are hungry and
my card’s maxed out. 9,999 dollars owed.

Jeannie gripped Columbo’s gun, finger on the flipper thing. Trigger. Dark shadows shielded her well.

The crowd filed out of Gilligan’s. Island décor of palm and coconut trees, it was trippy, like stepping into the Twilight Zone.

The Virginian froze at the register, counting the take. One shot fired. Gunsmoke drifted. The F.B.I. agent holstered his weapon and sang,

“I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair.”

Bewitched by her Zimbalist, she scooped the cash and swooned.

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

I showed you my Copenhagen
Thanked me with a kiss
You did. Profusely

We danced to 99 Luftballons
Flattered me. Made love to me
You did. Languorously

Never felt this way before, you said
Married me after three weeks
You did. Breathtakingly

Your citizenship granted
Started treating me like rubbish
You did. Unfailingly

With sarcasm, artful jeers
Told me I’ve outlived my usefulness
You did. Cruelly

Despair, humiliation
Ignited my Viking blood
You did. Maximally

I planned like Hamlet
Waited hours for you to succumb
You did. Eventually

Nobody fucks with Gertrud
Learned that lesson well
You did. Posthumously

Christine Webb said...

My parents think they’re so smart.

Their rules are ridiculous: twelve o’ clock curfew, chores every day, I have to pay my own gas money…

It’s insane.

Well, I’m not taking it anymore.

I met a guy online, and we’re running away together.
His name is Max. He’s a secret agent in Nigeria.

All I have to do is e-mail him my social security number and wire $99 to his bank account, and he’ll buy me a plane ticket. We’ll live happily ever after with no curfews.

It’s about to be a whole new life for me.

They’ll see.

Kregger said...

I bought my first Sunbeam Tiger in 1999, 302 cubic inches of V-8 power.

My best friend’s name’s Hymie. He’s so stiff he’s robotic.

I kissed Babs Feldin, that was close enough.

I got my agent’s license from a matchbook. I’m #87, because, well…#86 was taken.

My wellness doctor wants me to quit wearing my cellphone taped to the bottom of my shoe. He’s a smart man, but I can’t be without my phone.

I maxed out Mom and Dad’s credit card to purchase the original Cone of Silence.

They want me out of the basement.

Maybe I’ll join Kaos.

Amy Schaefer said...

78 flashes on the screen. I look away.

Grandpa wrote in flawless copperplate. The jewel-like shape of the letters arrested me; once I deciphered them, I became a willing prisoner of the written word.

A smartly-dressed woman sits down. She glances at my shabby suit.
“Journalist,” I say.
She nods. “Community foundation.”


That’s me.

I rise; we exchange a nod. No words. Not that it could matter anymore.

The Justice Agent scans my ID chip. “Maximum reeducation.”

The court system is efficient nowadays.

The guard shoves me along. I close my eyes, remembering my letters while I still can.

John Davis Frain said...

Lab Coat raised the next card.

I hesitated. “Spider.”

Lab Coat grimaced. “Octopus.”

“Missed it by that much!

“Zat was card 99.” Lab Coat sneered. “You must get zees final card to maximize our funding for zees study.”

Knock at the door. A woman’s head peeked in.

“Dr. Rorschach. Your three o’clock.”

He looked at me. “But you’re…”

“Would you believe – Agent Barbara Feldon?” Shook my hair.

Rorschach flipped the final card. A gun!

“Swell. The old 3D-printing-ink-blot-gun trick.” Shrewd move, but not smart enough. I fired my Mont Blanc. Blinded Rorschach with ink. Cuffed him. All in a half-hour!

Hailey said...

Agent Maxwell Smart stirred his martini with a cocktail sword. The blonde sat beside him at the bar.
She sipped her daiquiri. “Hokey place.”
“Hokey town. What do you want?”
She tilted her head and looked at him. “The codes.”
“I don’t have them.”
His drink tasted funny. Her gun pressed into his side. “Was it Agent 99?”
She laughed. “The double-cross? No. Your wife.”
Susan. She hadn’t been coming to bed early with him anymore. She was a better detective than he thought if she knew about the blonde.
“The codes?”
He sighed. “You’ll have to shoot.”

Amy Johnson said...

Dear Janet and All,

I’m writing to confess and say goodbye.

I’ve misrepresented myself here.

Several years ago, I located this group of smart, talented writers and a shark with a gentle side.

I never commented.

Last year, however, I malfunctioned and entered a 100-word-maximum story contest.

After that, I couldn’t stop.

I entered more contests.

I participated in discussions.

But every time I post in the comments section, I lie.

I must stop.

I’m not wired for lying.

I sense I’m approaching a meltdown.

So, I bid you all farewell and confess: I am a robot.



Timothy Lowe said...

Our time machines are all broken.

11:59:59. The digits are well known. They stare at us from dusty corners of darkened rooms. Dim axioms in the underground, they’re posted above caverns where hollow serpents sleep, their sides slit open, frozen in their migration.

The Old Age lies littered everywhere. In cracked streets, ankle deep in glitter, crumpled party favors and noisemakers wait for an uncoming moment.

They did this - the smart machines. The ones we commanded, in our great unknowing, to unwind the gods.

Now dead things, unblinking, reminders of a gentler time.

We call it 1999.

firdaus said...

Agent Max picked up one bullet, smirking at the other 99; one would do the job.

The two thugs, unaware of his presence, were relaxing.

He scanned the room from the shadows. His super-smart brain took in the details. Taking aim he fired.

The bullet went right through one thug's chest, came out from behind and ricocheted off a metal-chair, then bounced off an ashtray into the other thug's head and out towards the ceiling to rest. But alas, it clipped the edge of the ceiling-fan and headed straight towards Agent Max.

Well, he'd miscalculated by a millimetre.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I’d always been a tomboy. Grandma disapproved. “Act like a lady,” she’d say, dispensing opinions like a penny gumball machine.

I liked ladies, just didn’t want to be one. My first boyfriend was rough around the edges and a bit of a smarty-pants. Grandma wasn’t pleased. “Go ahead and date the bad boys,” she said, “but marry a gentleman. Proper ladies marry gentlemen.”

Now, that nugget of advice served me well. But not in the way Grandma intended. 99 more injections to transition into a gentleman, the sort any lady would want. Grandma? Stupefied to the max. Me? Happy.

Lennon Faris said...

At sixteen, he almost killed me.

Dead flowers, tapes with hateful lyrics, 99 other warnings. “Smart kid, just moody,” everyone dismissed.

Breakup proved catalytic –snuck in, subdued me, crowing no one loved me. Not a gentleman. Mom found us, gun to my head.

Years passed; therapy helped.

Patting my wailing newborn, I kissed my husband off to work. Weary.

Hand stilled. In her crib: sprinkle of dead daisies.


From the closet, sobbing prayers, I dialed my husband, then doctor: maximum artillery.

Wait …postpartum, he’s normal?

Closet opened.

Shot. Him. Dead.

If he ever returns, well, I’ll kill him again.

shmcn said...

“If you were smart, you’d get an agent.”
“If you were smart, you’d shut up.”
“If you have to know, I have tried to get an agent. I’ve sent it to 99 agents. No one wants my damn manuscript, ok?”
“Awww, not one? That’s rough, dude. Self-publish?”
“Yep, that’s why I’m chalking the entire novel on basically every building in Red Hook. Bringing it to the people.”
“I see. It’s……er, very zen. Ephemeral. I mean, you know it’ll disappear, right? If it rains.”
“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? An anticlimax.”

Chala said...

“Max said he’d meet us at ten?” Florence asked.
I nodded.
“Well, it’s already noon. He’s not coming.”
“Five more minutes?”
Florence twisted the straw in her glass.
“You’re not very smart, are you? It’s been what, 99 times you’ve waited for him?”
I nodded again.
“He’d send a text if he can’t make it.”
“Jilly, he’s not some kind of super agent busy saving the world.”
“Secret agent.”
“You’re hopeless.”
My sister left the booth, bumped into my son on his way into the diner. She punched him in the chest before walking out.
“What’s with her?”

Steph Ellis said...

Beneath a magenta sky, the Mr Whippy van slumbered. A faded poster advertising 99s and Screwballs drew no crocodile of children. Inside, flies gorged on gelato, crawled over gore-crusted cones, blackened sprinkles making the most of summer. A thud against the side disturbed them briefly and they swarmed up to take a look. Maxillae twitched greedily at the sight of this new treat, compound eyes taking in the smart clothes, the possibilities of well-dressed flesh. Time would ripen him to perfection … and there would be others. All around them, people were dropping like flies.

CynthiaMc said...

"That's not how you spell chaos," the barista said.

The old man in wire-rimmed glasses glared, hands in pockets.

"Chaos is spelled M-A-X." A tall old lady took his coffee and hers to a table. "Is that a Luger, or are you happy to see me?"

He sipped his coffee.

"Is that a bullet bra, or are you happy to see me?"

"Retired, Sigfried."

"Smart. How are the grandchildren?"




"Call 911! Old dude shot another old dude with his shoe! For real!"

"Sorry, Sigfried. Once an agent..."

"When will you retire?" Sigfried gasped.

"When I'm 99."

Scott Sloan said...

Magenta eyewear provides a pain-free familiarity.
“Maneuver right onto Route 99.”
“Your directional anomalies are at maximum.”
They reach over and rotate the map, 180º.
“We infer you require left?”
“Clarification… is this land an Orwellian dystopia?”
“Because we vocalize ‘smart-ass’? Presuming our geneses, ‘Wells-ian’ is more accurate.”
“Is it? Literature without context leaves us perplexed.”
“We’ve provided context.”
“Ahh…” they sigh.
Insight is so easy to provoke.
“We must now travel in directions other than north.”
“Affirmative. Decreasing temperatures threaten us.”
“Do you surmise perceptions of our absence?”
Intense rearward scrutinization.
“No… no hunters yet…”

Donnaeve said...

“Don’t get nothing over 99 cents.”

Shopping at The Dollar Store, I find the comment amusing.

A gentle rain falls as the cashier checks items.

I bag them, docile, compliant.

In the car, she sets the a/c on max.

I shiver.

“Fish tonight?”

Jesus, save me. “Fine.”

She rubs her swelling belly.

Eighteen years of lies yet to breathe.

“Mama’s been calling. Daddy too.”

Lord, forgive my sins.

“You’re quiet. Praying hard?”

Such a question. Practice what you preach, we’re told.

I shake my head. Denial seems right.

Her smart phone rings.

“Should I answer?”

It rings again.


Marie McKay said...

... 98 was made of metals and funerals, maxima and divorces, plastics and hurt. A  turmoil of human machine blended from raw sensation and silicon agents. A synthetic tragedy.

99 was made from the essence of failure: the names the other kids called your mom at school; the hot rancid patch where you wet your pants; the fear of being friendless; the tears of alone; the dread of the misfit, outsider, freak.

Compositions born on a conveyor belt of disinterest, in a place of experiment, where torment dwells. The smart creators, themselves, the product of war and plastic hearts.

100 was...

Unknown said...

‘Why did you do it?’

‘His generous greed’, he said, climbing a tree.

‘Wasn’t he good to the poor?’

‘Only to exalt his interests.’

'But a gentile women at a well?'

'His overarm axe only divides.'

'What is his ism?'

'Art--the art of beguilement.'

‘Why didn’t you just let him alone?’

‘He is bitter on my lips.’ He hesitated. 'But sweet to his 99.' He sprang from the tree, swinging from a rope secured to a branch.

‘What did you do with the silver?'

Mallory Love said...

Weekend at the cottage on the coast: $2000 a night

Catching the knowing look between my husband and the real estate agent: cost of having been a woman scorned before

Spysmart software for his laptop: $199

Bottle of antifreeze (maximum strength): $24.50

Blue food coloring: $4.95

Knowing his affinity for blue Gatorade well: 27 years of marriage paid in full

Getting away with murder: priceless

Anonymous said...

"Well, I wouldn't exactly call him smart, but I’ve got 99 reasons I won't kick him out tonight." I cradled the phone with my shoulder so I could dish to my sister and paint my nails. Magenta Mischief. Totally appropriate.

"I'm not sure you're ready for this," she said.

"Ready for what? It's great. You should see his huge tongue."

"You never take anything seriously."

I was going to argue, but I heard a boom. He came streaking out and crashed into me. "Max! I thought you were in bed." I scratched his ears and ruined my nails. "Crazy puppy."

Lucy Crowe said...

“Such an old gasbag, entirely too . . . noisy.”

Max stood in the crimson drippings of foul temper, his nutty old gran curled at his feet and I . . . still loved him. Even 99 percent sure of his culpability – dead certain I was, really - I couldn’t help but admire the fall of his flaxen hair over his forehead, the way his slender cheeks dimpled when he frowned his discontent.

Utterly charming, was Max.

My eyes smarted with unshed tears.

“Hand me the towel, love,” I said. “We’ll clean her up nice and pretty.”

Sherin Nicole said...

Asking for a badge would’ve been smarter.

Solve the puzzle, duck the flying knives.

“Follow your instincts.” My maxim now.

The agent But nice eyes. Irresistible.

Use the knives, climb the flooding well.

She needed help to catch a killer. I know the human psyche. It’s my job. My obsession.

Those eyes. I know them too.

Push. Click. She turned the lock...and the tables.

Trapped in a maze made by a killer like me.

Well done, agent.

My first victim had those eyes. I inspired you!

101 ways to die. 99 left to escape this deathtrap.

Kitty said...

Payday, and Muldoon’s at maximum capacity. Yanks are singing “99 Bottles of Beer,” and Da’s discussing art with his mates.

“Looks like an orgasm, art at its worst,” said Da.
“It’s Jackson Pollock, ya eejit!”

“C’mon, Mam’s waitin’ dinner, and she’s in a fit.”
“Feckin spuds again.”
“Jayzus, Da, you’re drinking us all into vegetarianism!”

I held him while he splashed his wellies in the alley. “You’re a gent,” he said.

Mam handed me the letter from University.
“Are’ya accepted?”
I was. But with five wee-uns, and Da’s drinkin’, she needed my wages.
She bowed her head and exhaled.

Richelle Elberg said...

“And now you’re charging us $700 for 99 Wellbutrin pills? I can’t afford that! My son needs those meds! Please—”
“We called your insurance agent. $700 is your new copay. I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do.” The pharmacist spread his hands, palms raised, like fucking Jesus.

Months pass. I thought he was okay.

“Max! If you have any smarts left at all, young man, you’ll get that shitpile out—”
I shove open the bedroom door.
Red Converse sneakers sway, suspended, six inches above the cluttered floor.
The note reads, “Got rid of the garbage like you asked.”

Karen McCoy said...

Mother. Father. Daughter hides in her room.

They encourage holistic healing and wellness. Needs more hugs, they say.

She’s smart, and they nudge her into writing 99 journal entries while spring blossoms wilt outside.

Solitudes get cut like a warm axes through the tiny glimpse of summer in the bolted window.

A gentleman caller, turned away.

Anonymous said...

She carried a pink purse so huge the bag entered the room before she did. Called it her baby, let her eyes fall on it soft as snow, again, again, even if you were in the middle of telling her you were hungry, Mommy, please couldn’t we eat today.

She’d bejewelled its rim with sequins from the 99 cent store, making it flash like fire does when roaring through your room, axes glinting silver as firefighters hack chains to let you out.

Such a smart-looking purse, a friend when unexpectedly alone in the world, a beauty, oh my lovely baby.

Sherry Howard said...


Some folks at Welltopia continued to arrive at work as if nothing had happened, although the smartest had left at the first whisper of public trouble, maxed out credit cards to get as far away as possible. Central America played host to many.

When the ICE agents descended on the hotel Channel 99 provided full coverage of the once-elegant wife in handcuffs screaming, “My husband will ruin you!”

Reporters opened with, “45 minutes after the arrest of Dennis Turnip his wife was caught in a massive sweep of immigrants found to have forged documentation.”

Unknown said...

Nogales Border Crossing:
Special Agent Martinez explained to the Mexican mother and her son what to expect at the new detention facility.

Donaldo, Martinez’s partner, crossed his arms. “Stop stalling. Get on with it.”

Martinez sighed. “A little compassion, please.”

Donaldo scowled. “We got 99 problems. Bitch ain’t one of ‘em.”

Martinez cringed.

Donaldo, impatient, gave no quarter. “Maximum security rules. Say farewell, chiquito.”

Martinez glanced at the sign above Donaldo’s desk. Some joker had altered it to read Make America Smart Again.

Only a matter of time before prying a boy from his dog wouldn’t be the worst separation.

Nate Wilson said...

Colin, hi. Bit late on this, but I don't care. (Your testy mien doesn't scare me.) Since you made sure I'm paired with him, I wanted you to know Seth and I captured a stellar array of specimens during our first spores training. I'm aware you're strictly interested in exotics, but you should know we collected all of them -- chimp, edelweiss, urchin, derris, ewe, llama, xenops, marten, and stag -- entirely on our own in 5 minutes. How many is that, 9? 9. Yet you've never topped 7.


P.S. I've reported this total as Victoria, not as Tory.

Unknown said...

Well, he’s a smart aleck…”
“Just the facts ma’am.”
Clean-cut detective stares at pristine body on floor.

“He slipped, wet pool deck. Martini glass punctured his jugular.”
“Ma’am, just one more thing.”
Rumpled detective steps over puddle of blood.

A ‘gent’ maxed out on coke got him.”
“Be careful out there.”
NYPD Sargent directs SWAT while standing over smashed body polluting the asphalt.

“My dog sniffed it out.”
“Bones, what’ve we got?”
FBI agents and forensic scientists surround disgusting, semi-interred, maggot-infested corpse.

Sixty years, 99x1000 times I’ve done this. They’ll never understand. It’s not just worse domestic crime. It’s total KAOS.

Janice Grinyer said...

Walking in the woods was no picnic; a gentle rain fell, dampening his spirit. Vidar halted, and a raucous marten undulated past him, disappearing into the unknown.

He wasn’t just lonely. He felt lost.

Checking his sidearm, ax in hand, Vidar knew rivers led to civilization 99% of the time. Ahead a stream sparkled like a bright jewel, luring the tired warrior forward. Now he could find his clan-

“Stop daydreaming and give me the damn ax! I thought you said you were a Forestry Technician!” His new boss scowled.




Being a Writer in the Woods was no picnic…

Angel Lanphere said...

I had hoped she'd be smart enough to die naturally but we weren't that lucky.

“Max...well,” she rasped as her eyes slid open to find me at the foot of the bed. She gripped the bed rail, her familiar eyes darted in search of escape. She knew why I was here and who sent me.

She pawed for the Nurse Call button, tubes and wires tangling but it was no use.

I sat beside her now, shakily brushing her hair aside.

“Goodbye Kat-....Agent 99,” I said and kissed her briefly before snuffing out what remained of us both.

katie said...

"What do you need an agent for, anyway? Just send it out yourself."

"It doesn't work that way."

"Bullshit. I bet it works that way for Stephen King. Have some confidence."

When I woke he was reading my laptop.

"You should sell it. Amazon. Buck 99 each, maximize profit, smarter. Here - your first sale." He thrusts two limp dollars at me.

The dollars fall onto my tray table so I close it quickly, trapping them inside. "It's not for sale," I say. "Well, not yet."

He chides, "Some writer you are."

Some start to our honeymoon.

DreaJ said...

Discount bottles of liquor. Two shorts worth.

99 Bananas was on the counter. He took a swig.

“This tastes like shit.”

“Maxwell!” his mom shrieked. “A gentleman should never use curse words.”

He slammed the tiny bottle on the counter.

“Fine. They taste like fucking Smarties.”

RKeelan said...

No one is so proud as the number 9.

9 is a gentlenumber, the digit maximal, above all others.

I hate the number 9.

It's the smartass number, abused on price tags, unused on microwaves.

It got an indecent act named after me—that was all 9's idea. And all talk, anyway. We never did anything. I certainly didn't.

Worst of all, 9 stole my glyph. Flipped it around and started strutting around town like it was fucking prime.

Well I'm not going to take it anymore.

I say it's time for a change.

I say we switch to octal.

Melissa said...

Her wrist GPS flashed the miles ran since 4 am on a darkened trail. 100 miles max she told herself when the ordeal began. 100 miles and she could collapse in a dead heap, knowing she’d done well.

Footsteps tapped behind her. Echoing on and off for 84 miles, they strengthened now. An agent of incentive, they forced her to increase her run beyond the initial 15.

A hand grabbed her from behind, jerking her to the ground. Smart and almost cunning, she thought as she fell, waiting until the end to plunder her victory.

Marty Weiss said...

Opening his laboratory door, Holmes shouted, “Maxine, my darling, I’ve done it!”
“You seem excited. Are you well, dear? Shall I call Doctor Watson?”
“Perhaps I am worked up, but after 99 unsuccessful compounds, I’ve finally succeeded. I’ll show those Italians!”
“You mean….?
“Yes,” interrupted Holmes. “I’ve created instant olive oil, and it is so pure, I’ll label it Extra Virgin Virgin Olive Oil.”
“You’re so smart. How did you do it?”
“It was elementary. I used canola oil as the reagent. I poured it over garlic cloves and eureka, instant EVOO, or rather, EVVOO.”
“Oh dear, I’m calling Watson.”

Megan V said...

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, you can’t just be smart, you’ve got to act smart.
Teach’s lecture ricochets around my skull.
You didn’t plan to fail, you failed to plan. You’ve got to work to reach your maximum potential.
I chew my lip. Teach can’t fault me this time. There hasn’t been a plan this good since 1999.
I breathe heavy, drawing on the well of air sizzling in my lungs.
I slam through the doors and laugh as I tag entire rows in red. Tag. Tag.
Potential reached.
Class dismissed.

Anonymous said...

She touched it again, ten times. Then ten more.

"We're going to be late, Meggie."

She couldn't let his complaints mar the concentration. Almost right. Maybe ten more. 71, 72, 73...

"Come ON!"

He'd reached maximum impatience, but she couldn't stop. Not yet.

She focused ...97, 98, 99

He shoved her, not a gentle push this time.

She stumbled, horrified as he grabbed the doorknob, opened the door.

"I'm going without you."

Tears welled as Meg watched her little brother walk down the sidewalk toward school. Alone.

The door closed softly. Her trembling hand touched the doorknob.

1, 2, 3...

Kate Outhwaite said...

"Watch the jewellers for me, Charlie. Be my eyes and ears, Charlie. Be my agent."

So I watch and I listen. I consider window confections of mid-grade gold and tiny diamonds priced at 99 pence over the pound, regretting that Janine long since maxed out our credit.

Later, bored, I follow a girl in a floppy hat and long coat into the shop.

Not my smartest move.

I see her pull the gun. I hear the glass explode around me.

Before she leaves, coat heavy with loot, Janine pauses just beyond my spreading pool of blood and says "Sorry, Charlie."

Ashes said...

The trick was looking pretty but not smart. Agents of seduction, they perched on stools at the dockside bar on the lookout for servicemen.

99, 100, Maxine didn't want to know but Sandra kept a tally in a locket around her neck.

The locket stayed on when their clothes came off and they lay shivering in the backwoods, vulnerable to all the world.

When the men finished, they ran. This, the most dangerous part, pebbles cutting into stockinged feet.

They passed their own soldiers, rifles cocked, feet pounding.

Two shots, no time to dwell, and on to the next bar.

Kate Higgins said...

99 bottles of beer on the wall, a gent could do worse while waiting out the mandatory nuclear bomb radiation sequester. If you can't live well why bother he always said. He'd covered all the possibilities for survival, including some celebratory inebriation. He'd maxed out. He was so smart. Only he didn't figure in tomorrow's 11.9 quake centered 99 feet beneath his southern California shelter.

Just Jan said...

“Lassie, come quick! Timmy’s in the well.”

My dream—the one involving 99 androgynous poodles—evaporates. I open my eyes, but refuse to rise. Let Gramps rescue his own grandson for a change.

I’m rewarded with prime rib and a new contract. “Smart dog,” my agent gushes. “Your little stunt earned you maximum benefits.”

But later that night, Timmy sobs into my fur. “You’re my best friend. Why didn’t you save me?”

I cock my head and whine. Timmy relaxes into sleep. I lick my manicured paws. Who says I can’t do drama?