Cause, yes, that's what I did yesterday (Thursday). And oh holy helvetica did I live to regret it.
First, it takes forever. Like 40 minutes.
And the new system moved all my files.
Which means I thought they were lost for a few minutes.
I found them, but now they're in a new place, a place much less convenient, and I hate change so grump grump grump.
Also, did I mention I did this in the middle of the work day? Stupid stupid stupid.
So, I don't have a post for today, which means we're having a writing contest cause I need something to take my mind off my own idiocy.
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.
4. To compete for the Steve Forti Deft Use of Prompt Words prize (or if you are Steve Forti) you must also use this phrase: "this is your own stupid fault Janet"
5. Post your entry in the comment column of THIS blog post.
6. 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.
7. International entries are allowed, but prizes may vary for international addresses.
8. Titles count as part of the word count (you don't need a title)
9. 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.
10. 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 the next day...just leave me out of it.)
11. 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"
12. Please do not post anything but contest entries. (Not for example "I love Felix Buttonweezer's entry!")
13. 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.
14. 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, 11/16/19 at 5:42 am
Contest closes: Sunday, 11/17/19 at 9:00am
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 http://www.colindsmith.com/TreasureChest/
(Thanks to Colin Smith for organizing and maintaining this!)
Questions? Tweet to me @Janet_Reid
Sorry, too late!
Contes has closed
The cold shadows of night followed him as he slowly walked, without much ado, down the dark alley. He stopped under a fire escape as a dog snarled behind him, looked back, then continued on. He lifted a paper bag and took a swig, rum promised him a temporary warmth the world never did.
He skulked along the banks of a gray river towards a brighter dawn. The city faded, noise softened, and the stench lessened.
He had fallen in love once, stupidly holding on too long.
“This is your own stupid fault Janet,” he wept, “you believed in me.”
“Zalambdodont? Tribosphenic? The hell are you talking about, Doc?”
“Teeth, my dear. But apologies for my soliloquizing. I like teeth. And yours, I must say, are terrible.”
She snarled. “How rude! I’m in peak health.”
“Are you though? With the big rump, rotten chompers, and peeling skin? Perhaps stock up less on dunderfunk and more on apples and sunscreen when we next pull into port?”
“I should throw you overboard for this insolence. Just shut up and fix my cavity. You probably caused it with your incompetent drilling, anyway.”
The dentist sighed. “No, this is your own stupid fault, Janet.”
I try not to look at the songbird. It hurts to see it in its stupid cage. I sit with my back to it. I am grumpy when it sings beautiful melodies for him. I want it to snarl when Father raps his knuckles on the bars; instead, the dunderhead performs a concert of sounds.
Father makes me feed it. He doesn't like bonding. It gets honey and tepid water.
In the beginning, I thought Father would get caught, but the news story
-Opera Star Disappears on Opening Night- is now as dead as a dodo.
New operating system? Damn. Entries probably vanished under...
Recipes? Fort-thwart strategies?
Focus! How do we prompt Janet to announce the last contest’s winner?
To die in the snarl that’s her inbox?!!
OK, I’m thinking rum, pineapple juice—
To prompt Janet?
To make rum swizzlers. What? You said recipes. OK, got a less stupid idea. We do—
Do NOT say prompt her with a fake entry in the next contest.
A real one. With the five words. C’mon, cheeky fun!
Best case, she misses the prompting. Worst, she unleashes sharky fury.
Not if we ply her with swizzlers.
“This is your own stupid fault,” Janet snarled at her reflection in the bathroom mirror. While Stu piddled about in the kitchen, the seconds ticked off on the longest two minutes of her life.
The plus was not a positive.
“Now what am I supposed to do?” Doubts about Stu and their relationship—hell, doubts about herself—swirled underneath the casually confident manner she wore like a suit of armor.
For a long time she just stared at herself in the mirror.
“Fuck.” She threw the stick in the garbage and sighed. “Fucking rum punch.”
Once upon a time, I fell in love head under heels; had it been the other way around, things might have gone differently. Cupid and his fucked-up aim! I always tell him, go see an optometrist, or, at least, take archery lessons.
"This is your own stupid fault," Janet snarled, "always stomping around the place."
"Pray tell, what must a gnome do?"
"Do yourself in, for all I care. This marriage's done. I'm taking the hut, carriage, gold spindles, and our firstbor--"
And thus she vanished, in a puff of powdery air.
Agitating Rumplestiltskin? Never a good idea.
We had gone over it four hundred times and I was getting grumpy.
“One more time.”
“No, that’s Harry Potter, this is real.” I snarled
“You are not that stupid, are you?”
“You are going to be the dodo if you don’t get this right.”
“Rudy, you better quit making fun of me. What is it again?”
Are you going to get it this time Donnie? It’s no Quid pro quo.”
I sighed and rested my head on my paws. Aunt Janet had arrived.
“You behave,” Mom ruffled my sable-colored fur. She understands I’m more like a person than a dog. Yeah, I may snarl when I’m grumpy, bark too much, and have to stay behind when the family goes out. But I’m no dodo or dunderhead. They didn’t name me Foxy Lady for nothing.
My ears pricked at the sound of her stupid, obnoxious laugh. She’d butted into my favorite spot on the couch. I growled and raised my lips. “This is your own stupid fault, Janet,” I thought.
"This is your own stupid fault Janet," I snarled. I mean, here we were, stranded in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere—Brad’s car parked under some creepy ass tree, Brad screwing some freakazoid Tim Curry look-alike, and me wandering through this hellhole, all because I’d had to say ‘I d-do-do.’
I turned the corner, wishing desperately that we’d stayed at the Buttonwheezer’s wedding rumpus. If we had, I could’ve at least tossed the bouquet in Brad’s face.
But there are many kinds of revenge…including a man in tight, gold shorts.
“Oh Rocky,” I purred.
And then I entered his tank.
Another day, another patient roster.
Mr. Calamodo was first up. I died when I saw him. Literally.
Hadn’t seen him since the trial.
Twenty years ago, I dated Davie “Dodo” Calamodo. He was a grumpy SOB. I was snowed under with med student debt. Saw things I wish I hadn’t. Took a bribe for silence. Paid my bills.
Then I graduated and went into witness protection.
Twenty years later, there he was in my office with a snarly smile and a steak knife.
“Just remember,” he said as he drove the knife home, “this is your own stupid fault, Janet.”
“This is your own damned fault, Janet!”
James Morrison remained silent. It wasn’t the lash, but Bligh’s habit of calling his crew by women’s names that was most like to raise a snarl. But no Boatswain’s Mate could speak when the Captain called him stupid. HMS Bounty was a miniature of the British class system, weaving among coconuts, dodos, and (they hoped) breadfruit, under a sky of dun. Derisive words were the least of Morrison’s worries. Only Fletcher Christian, an officer, seemed truly bothered when Bligh grumped.
The Bounty was a miniature caste system … but not for long.
He'd called her stupid.
She called him Tiger. It made him purr.
He'd laughed at the beer's slogan, Grump and Groan Bitter puts the snarl back into your life, had still drunk it though. Now, one pint and he was as dead as a dodo, buried under a pile of dirt.
She looked at the other graves she'd dug. Empty, for the present, although each was filled with bad memories.
She could feel the growl rising in her own throat. Always the prey, snared by the smile, trapped by the fist, she had become the predator - and she liked it
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet.”
She snarled at the bot. What did he know about stupidity? This dunder wasn’t autonomous. His directives didn’t allow leeway to be stupid. Free will. We have free will.
The bot knew the comment would upset her. Her personality profile modeled these specific reactions. He had already moved her files on the phantom update. He calculated the extra confusion would result in rash decisions. Progressing another step in the playbook would rid him of this grump. All the grumps. The dodo.
Janet squinted at the bot. They had it in for the humans.
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet.”
“My name is Barb.”
“Oh.” The snarl disappeared. Pop’s grumpiness faded into confusion. “I have it all balled up again, don’t I?”
I reached under the sink for his pills. “You certainly do. Down the hatch.”
My sister took the evening shifts. I often delayed Pop’s dose, so he’d be good for her overnight. But who am I kidding? I can’t even manage my own meds. Stupid.
I slipped into the meeting late. The counselor offered a greeting. “Welcome to Alzheimers Support. Who wants to go next?”
I stood. “My name is Janet.”
One little update and you’re snowed under. Snarls of e-mails, muddles of files --
“You can’t do that.”
“Talk to your audience. It’s called --”
“I know what it’s called. Get off my lap.”
“I will not.”
“Let me work in peace!”
Sheesh. Grumpy Cat is my worst critic. Always picking apart everything I do.
“Don’t do that,” GC cautions. “Or you’ll be deader than . . . you know.”
“I want good writing.”
I snap the cage closed. “Let’s see you break that fourth wall!”
Back at the keyboard, I crack my knuckles.
This (story) is your own stupid fault, Janet . . .
Ed understands terror, as do I. We are both predators, traps. He lurks in the open. I am hidden in the woods, settled on the ground. He is soft flesh and hard fists. I am metal teeth and spiked snarl. Our prey whimpers, cries, desperate to undo dozens of decisions that placed them in our sights.
Ed's not stupid, but he's lazy. Today I am in a different spot. Change makes me grumpy, but I am still taut, ready.
Ed understands terror. Or so he thinks.
He did not set me today. She did.
I wait, my smile wide.
We all do careless, stupid things from time to time but does it matter? Meh. It’s different though with gods. When they get the mini-grumps, a million people die. When they’re found under the weather, whole continents shelve, vast civilisations collapse. Sometimes, they give up on caring completely. They do, don’t they? You know that. Things…we…no longer matter to them.
(RUN, FOOLS, RUN! As if that will make any difference.)
I prayed as usual to my gentle, affectionate, funny god a few moments ago. She answered me. She always answers. She turned to me. And snarled…
“This is your own stupid fault, Jan.”
“Et tu, Marit?” Jan paced within the pentagram. “I swapped my soul and my little brother for that cursed manuscript. But you had to summon Yoda. 'Do, do not, there is no try!'”
“Better than you invoking demons with stupid names. Q'yth-az, Cynothoglys, Narlyhottep – ”
“I demand Froot Loops!” screeched a grumpy, unearthly voice. “I demand to play Minecraft!”
Jan clawed the air. “Ancient one, approach! Your servant craves powers beyond mortal comprehension!”
Marit checked the manuscript's footnotes. “Dunderkopf. You summoned your little brother. I'll get the Froot Loops.”
He hated these stupid school trips; today’s destination the local zoo. The sweaty coach heaved with fifty of his peers, all dunderheads, not one of them with his skill set.
Lenny watched his form cheer on the chimps and fake snarl at the tigers.
‘Idiots!’ he muttered, but only the form teacher, a real dodo, Grumpy Granger overheard.
It was the smell of fresh kill which triggered Lenny’s volte-face.
He leapt the ten foot walls of the lions’ compound, talons and fangs extended, hairy haunches galloping, he grappled the slab of meat from the startled lion.
‘Werewolf wins, lions lose!’
“This is your own stupid fault Janet.”
Father's voice fills my head AGAIN. He always says stuff like that to me. You're stupid, a dunderhead, a dodo. Can't you do anything right?
After history class, I ask Ashley what her father calls her. “Sweetheart” she grumps, rolling her eyes. “In front of my friends. Makes me gag.”
Megan nods. “If my dad called me that, I'd snarl big time.”
Everyone nods. I fight back tears.
After school, I find Mom's pills and Dad's booze. See Dad? I'm finally doing something right.
Please be proud of me now.
It wasn't a place for gentlewomen. The madam clutched her hand under my chin, appraising.
Here, I'd confirm my intended was a blackguard. Father couldn't call it a good match then.
"Milord's here...send the new girl?" said a strumpet.
It wasn't Felix, but Father himself. This is your own stupid fault Janet, I thought. I knew I must disgrace myself here, but his tup I dreaded suffering.
"He wants a big rump," the madam snarled, "not a waif like her." She turned, "Lady Janet, you dodo." She'd recognized me. "Sneak out while you still have your dignity."
The second time my sister opens the cupboard door, she snarls at me.
“Don’t make a sound,” she says. “Not one.”
“Shh.” The cupboard closes.
“I’m six and cynical, not stupid,” I mutter in the dark. Her grumpy footsteps fade away.
I stay put. The pre-teen tyrant thinks I’m dunderheaded. I’ll prove her wrong. I find a stray crayon in the corner, sketch a shark on the wood.
My sister returns--blood on her face, limping. “Dododoasyou’retold,” she says jittery and jumbled. “Gowithoutme.”
Dunderheaded if I do, dunderheaded if I don’t.
I crawl out, take her hand, nod. “Together.”
My grumpy teenage son moaned about his recent SOL (Standards of Learning) practice essay test. "How's it my fault that teachers expect you to vomit what they fed you like some unthinking dodo!" he snarled.
Further: "You told me that as long as my ideas supported my thesis, they couldn't mark you wrong!"
In an essay using the concepts of time travel, the introduction of the gold standard, and child labor in China, my son supported his thesis that the destination, not the journey, mattered most.
From our present destination outside the principal's office, I reconsidered my dunder-headed advice.
My senses always have feasted on winter.
The dry wind slapping my chapped cheeks as I glide across the frozen pond. My father's grumpy Grinch-face, an aftereffect of the fight to unsnarl the bramble of Christmas tree lights. The leaden sweetness of my Aunt Helen's fruit cake, which my parents always stupidly thanked her for. The staccato crackle of the ice as it gives way beneath my feet.
And a new sensation.
The warped beauty of the world under the ice.
Whatever you do,
don't wake me.
Silent night, holy...
“This is your own stupid fault,” Janet snarled.
“Don’t be a grump.” Steve eyed the dodo chair socks. A bad omen. Janet hated losing. It’s when primal instinct latched on and need sunk in. To hunt. To kill. To hoard.
Chair socks were her latest obsession—knitted hugs cozying up to loveless furniture. She seemed more concerned about chair legs that scratched underfoot than the blood of her last victim still staining the hardwood floor.
Steve fortified his position. He wasn’t stupid. Even when jagged rows of pearly death flashed at him, he smiled, ready to thwart.
Everyone had their obsession. Janet’s was Henry.
It was more than the way his hair fell rakishly into his burnt umber eyes; more than his swagger. He wasn’t superficial. He didn’t care about her reeking, rumpled, clothes. He was kind.
He will love me.
She ducked under his head as it swung towards the approaching figure, barely avoiding getting clobbered.
“Watch it, you big Wando doofus!” she snarled.
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet.” Meg laughed, gesturing at the horse as he tossed his head, eying her plastic bag. “He only wants you for the carrots.”
That last line on the registration form should have tweaked my suspicion. Next of kin? For a company retreat?
The HR director raved. “We can learn so much from animals,” Janet promised. “It’s all happening at the zoo.”
Team-building exercise, my Aunt Fanny’s jiggling rump! Our team’s shrinking fast.
Warm-up was water ballet in the shark tank. Elephant-milking was next. Now we're on to lion-taunting.
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet,” snarls Kevin, trapped under a tawny paw.
Our matching T-shirts make the remains easier to spot, though.
Memo to Janet: skip “The Way of the Dodo” next year.
"Listen Molly: first up, I din’t mean to and neither did Janet. See, I’s pouring rum punch and her drinking horn’s narly full, but then I sneezed and Janet, she jumped and her horn dropped under the table and no time for a bless me cause right away your alkey-holic dog runs over and slurp slurps like he always do. Don’t roll your eyes Molly Millikan; I see you tsk-tsking over there, all: ‘this is your own stupid fault.’ Janet come on let’s go walk Doggy MacAlkeyFace so he won’t stink up the house and make everyone wanna barf again.”
"You know Dancer and Dasher and Comet and Blixen," Bridget sang.
"That's Santa's team," I interrupted. "But who pulls Krampus' sleigh?"
"Janet! Don't be giving her ideas," Steve glared at me.
"You know Stupid and Snot-rag and Grumpy and Pooper, Dunder and Dodo and Burpy and Booger," she sang, maintaining the tune.
The next morning, I started at the transformed Christmas tree. The ornaments and tinsel were gone, in their place hung defaced pictures of Bridget’s new stepmom and thorny brambles from the garden.
"This is your own stupid fault, Janet," Steve snarled.
“Of all the stupid, dunder-headed…”
“So I’m just being a grump?”
“More like a dodo.”
“Don’t you snarl at me, young lady. You’re a fine one to call names.”
“But I didn’t…”
“Oh, yes. You did.”
“This is all a huge misunderstanding…”
“Is that what you call it? I call it a colossal clusterfuck.”
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet!”
“Now I have to fix it?”
“It would be the done thing…”
“And you’d know. Coming from such high society.”
“How do you always know how to poke my biggest insecurities?”
“Because I’m you!”
“Ma’am, the apartment is clear. The rest is in the ground under us.” said Colonel Frey.
“A lingering rump shouldn’t be hard to breach.” said the Agent.
“Ma’am, it’s flash fiction snarled with reality. Physics gets screwy. It’s ignored explosives, napalm, even lasers.”
“Then try a torpedo, do whatever it takes to get the Duchess out.”
“You don’t understand. This final portion seems unbeatable; it’s…” he grimaced, “heavily forti-fied.”
“Try harder. If you don’t save the cat this is a tragedy!”
“Hey, you held so many contests the results hit critical mass. This is your own stupid fault Janet!”
Down by the river, I spy that snarl-headed McPherson. Like his kin, you kin tell he’s dunder brained. He keeps stroking them purple flowers and tilling the earth ‘round them with cow dodo.
Like that’ll make ‘em grow.
And he hums. It gives me the grumps.
So, I’ll keep watching him. We Perrys don’t hold with McPhersons. We drink blood or they’re moonstruck animals. The origins is fuzzy. Yet there’s something in his melody. Maybe I’ll go drink from yonder river. Ask him a question or two. And find out just how stupid the McPhersons are (for myself).
I’m Sasha the dog.
My two-legger brought home a dunderheaded dog today.
She said it was a cat.
I never heard of a cat.
Don’t like it, I grumped.
Has a stupid bark.
Asks for food when it still has half a bowl. What a dodo.
Then I heard the worst thing from my two-legger, “I’m a cat person.”
I brought her my leash.
Here’s something that idiot won’t do.
“Don’t worry. I’m a dog person too,” she said.
She opened the door, the cat bolted.
It’s your own stupid fault Janet.
What a bad dog.
At last up, I delivered my best rendition of “Go-going to the chapel,” as I teetered up the aisle.
The result was gr-grum. Possibly because I’m tone-deaf. And d-drunk.
My ma-maid of honor actually turned and s-snarled.
I belched when I reached the altar.
“It’s all your stupid fault, Jan.” Etiquette be d-damned, I hurled my bou…bou… flowers in the groom’s face.
Hope had died under the deluge of newly discovered texts. “I do-do not take this man, Jan. You can have him. Since it appears you already did.”
“Hurry up, I’m dying down here,” it snarled from under my skirts.
We made a deal. Sneak him into the admiral’s room.
Going up stairs, I saw it. That egotistical dodo. Biggest door in the house.
I lifted my skirts.
“It’s smoldering even for the damned under there.”
What a grump.
“Allow me to show you to my bedchamber….”
This is your own stupid fault Janet. Listened to some stupid cat, now you’ll get caught.
“Take us home!”
But I guess home to him is hell, we aren’t at my house. Last time I ever trust a demon.
"Is this regarding Stu?"
"Piddly little guy. He ends up driving alone in a car, without love."
"I did work on some sonnets."
"But instead of affection, they're about sagging rumps."
"Okay, I've hit a few relationship snarls."
"The worst was pairing a white whale with a human. That love nip led to a lost limb! And in the end the captain's dragged under the sea. It's just not romantic."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Doesn't matter anymore. You've been decommissioned from the literary Cupid Corps. Hand in your quiver and get out of my sight."
“This is your own stupid fault, Janet.
Our holding company is bankrupt.
The Big Pharma division is bleeding cash.
Your ED marketing strategy called, “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” went limp.
The ad campaign for hemorrhoid cream named “Here Comes the Grump” doesn’t sit well with anybody.
And seriously, “Dunder Klumpen” for jock itch and athlete’s foot?!
Also, “Flock of Dodos” is not an English rock band, and I don’t care how many wings they have, it’s inappropriate for feminine hygiene products.
And renaming a toothpaste “Snarling” is anti-effective, not anti-cavity.”
Janet quixotically glanced at me and said, “Ok, Boomer.”
Woolly mammoths, grumpy dodos, snarling saber-tooths--that stupid travel agent had promised all these and more. So far, all she’d seen was oversized bugs.
“What’d you expect?” her sister texted. “Underpriced amusement parks are always suspect. This is your own stupid fault, Janet.”
Janet, who did not like to be told she was wrong, grabbed a Mesozoic-era mosquito and popped it into her empty soda bottle. When another flew by, she caught that one, too. With any luck, they’d be carrying some incurable disease.
“Dinner tomorrow?” she texted, including both her sister and the travel agent. “I’ll bring souvenirs.”
Shark week had struck.
“This is your own stupid fault Janet,” I thought as my arms wrapped around my stomach. Not only was I the grump of the convention I’d spent nearly a decade trying to get into. A scheduling snafu left me earning an additional accolade from the “Dunder Mifflin” group. What the hell was a Dundee anyway?
Every second I spent within the bathroom stall begged the question, “If I went extinct like the dodo, would anyone notice?” Would they care was more apt. As another bout of mother’s nature pain struck a low snarl escaped. Never again.
Jim ducked under the barricade and walked toward the sheet-covered form, leaving a reporter to grump at the edge of the crime scene.
“What have we got?” he asked.
“Homicide,” his partner said.
He lifted the sheet and looked at the mangled typewriter Mrs. Narl had stupidly pushed from her balcony. The Underwood had flown like a Dodo and landed on an unsuspecting pedestrian.
He leaned in. One line was typed on the paper caught in the platen, THIS IS YOUR OWN STUPID FAULT JANET.
“Janet. Alias Qotku. She drives writers insane,” Jim said. “That will be Narl’s defense.”
“Stupid man!” she snarled, spittle dripping from one corner of her mouth. “What do I want with this appalling rump roast? I need meat with fat on it!”
“You do, do you?” he said under his breath.
She turned to glare at him, jowls flapping. “I’ll break you right over my knee. Now fetch me a stick of butter.”
“How about some kale?”
She squealed with rage and lumbered towards him. “What’s gotten into you?”
“Rice cake?” he offered, dancing away from her meaty grasp.
She tripped and landed in a heaving heap. Jack ran out the door for good.
Like the dodo, her love for me went extinct.
Lip out, a grump wearing a snarl, I walked away with the ring in my pocket. Stupid. To cope I moved away. I’d come home to visit and imagine bumping into her, a look of disgust of how fat I got. I avoided walking a path paved with nostalgia in fear of meeting up.
We had kissed under a starry sky, and each trip I’d look up and wish to never see her.
After all those years avoiding Janine, I found out she died the summer I left home.
Today the gawpers carry coats, grumpy about the rain. But in here it's perfect: dry, great temperature. Always is, behind my glass.
“What's she thinking about?" A girl, nose against my window.
"Nothing, stupid. It's stuffed. Dumb if you ask me." Dunderhead boy drags her away.
The girl doesn't even snarl. Like she's used to this kind of thing.
So when she turns for a final glimpse, I tilt my head. Just a little. And wink.
Dead as a dodo, eh? Well, long as I'm here, I'm keeping imagination alive.
One wink at a time.
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