55 minus 25: discontent and ranunculus

Posted: 23 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.

Occasionally, I’d play with the format… as you’ll see in the second of the two tales below.

One of the delights of pulling these from the vaults has been the fun of rediscovering just how much I enjoy playing with words.


Title: A Wild Ima-djinn-ation
Word: discontent
Challenger: Lisa Jonte
Length: 200 words exactly

It had been dozens of decades since I’d last been summoned, but then, a few months back, she’d found it: the glass bottle with the stopper.

And of course, since it had been filthy, she’d rubbed it with her sleeve.

Damnation!

And once again, as so often before, I had to assuage my new mistress’s discontent.

But this one was clever, oh so clever. She didn’t make a wish at first, but asked me lots of questions as to likely consequences. She even asked what wishes other people had made, and whether they’d been happy with the results. Two thousand years, and no one’d realised that they could ask that.

I’d say Damn her, but that’s already been taken care of.

After I’d answered all her questions, her first wish was simple:

“I wish for everything that will make me happily content.”

And, of course, I had to grant the wish, in the most efficient and speedy manner possible.

Four months later, she’s had no need to use her other wishes, indeed she can’t.

The human doctors call it a “persistent vegetative state”.

Such parochial beings, these humans.

But she’s happy, deep in her mind.

Well, she’s content, at least.

© Lee Barnett, 2007


Title: And For A Sequel
Word: ranunculus
Challenger: Livejournal Elfie
Length: 200 words exactly

And once again, the stranger came;
He came most ev’ry year.
To make a sound, and look around
But mostly to drink beer.

    He’d sully forth, first East then North
    And end up in our place.
    He’d get right drunk, with beer he’d sunk
    Through the hole at the end of his face.

But as he fell, he’d curse and yell,
For times of long ago.
And with each glass, (he’d swear, his last)
My, how the tales did flow.

    He’d tell of things, forgotten things
    Of centuries gone by.
    And challenge those, with woeful prose,
    Who’d call each one a lie.

To folk in town, he was a clown
And no more need be said.
They’d heard before, these tales of yore
And to their homes they sped.

    Then came that day, the first of May
    When spring was in the air.
    The stranger’s heart, it gave a start
    And muscles deep did tear.

He hit the ground, without a sound
The stranger bit the dust.
The doc was called, the body hauled
With very little fuss.

    Permission granted, the man they planted.
    The priest said “dust to dust”.
    Upon his grave, the priest did lay
    Some sweet ranunculus.

© Lee Barnett, 2005


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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