55 minus 32: bobolink and transubstantiation

Posted: 16 July 2019 in 55 minus, fast fiction, fiction
Tags: , , , ,

Some more old fiction today, a couple of stories that not many people will have read, and almost certainly, no one who’s started following me in the past decade or so.

A decade and a half ago, I threw out a challenge. and then repeated it thereafter whenever I felt like it. The challenge was the same in each case:

Give me a title of up to four words in length, together with a single word you want me to include in the tale, and I will write a story of exactly 200 words.

That’s it. The stories that resulted always included the word, they always fitted the title, but usually in ways the challenger hadn’t anticipated. And they were always exactly 200 words in length.

A genuine delight rediscovering these two from the vaults of history.

Title: Cake And Funnel Clouds
Word: bobolink
Challenger: Livejournal elfie_elfie
Length: 200 words exactly

Propped up on one elbow, I looked down at her, lying on my bare chest, one arm casually draped across my upper body. She stirred slightly, before sinking back into a sleep that she’d later deny. “Resting my eyes”, she’d say. And I’d smile indulgently, both of us knowing that a symphony orchestra could have been tuning up and she’d not have noticed.

Her long russet hair obscured her face, and I gently lifted it away. Eyelids fluttered, and my heart soared.

We were in the shade of a large oak tree, the detritus of our picnic all around us, the fruitcake demolished.

A bird flew across the sky and my eyes followed it, mildly curious as to what it was. Some kind of songbird? A bobolink possibly. I didn’t know; didn’t care, to be honest, other than she would have known.

I loved her deeply, far more deeply than I knew was good for either of us.

The clouds darkened and heavy raindrops started falling; I awoke, suddenly.

Beneath the tree.


I hated her being dead… time didn’t cure all wounds, it just made the scars marginally easier to deal with.

But, every so often, the scars itched.

© Lee Barnett, 2007

Title: God’s Got No Nose
Word: transubstantiation
Challenger: Challenger: Ian Sharman
Length: 200 words exactly

The red liquid looked so harmless. Such things always did, and therein lay the jeopardy.

The process had taken twenty-two years to perfect and a further eight to pass every health and safety law to which the state could subject it.

And even after all of those tests, examinations, investigations and assessments, it had required even more time for the methodology to pass peer review. And additional months still for the formal trials.

But now it was complete.

And the scientists, despite every death threat directed at them, were as determined now as they and their predecessors had been those decades earlier when the whole thing had started.

One wag had made the comment that they had a fervour that was religious.

He no longer worked for the project.

But now, it was commercially available: wine made from blood. His blood. Recovered from a rusty nail discovered centuries earlier, and cloned, replicated: duplicated. They didn’t call it transubstantiation; no-one called it that. Not in public anyway.

And then the wine experts had their say: “Tasteless!” “Flat!” “No bouquet.”

And yet somehow no-one could resist the chance to try it; temptation always was the most dangerous thing where He was concerned.”

© Lee Barnett, 2008

Something else tomorrow…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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