10 Titchy Tales, With Various Themes

By David Yates

Cecile's Night OutEdit

Theme: Rave

"Working again, Cec?" came a voice from the door.

Cecile spun around in his computer chair to face the speaker. His long-time friend, Jeff, was leaning against the doorframe, arms folded.

"Err, well, yes, yes I am," Cecile stuttered, clearly perturbed by Jeff's interruption.

Jeff shook his head slowly. Cecile was a good guy, and was always useful when work needed doing, but he really needed to learn to loosen up and have a little fun once in a while. To this end, Jeff had devised a devilishly complicated scheme.

"Cecile, we're going clubbing. Get off that chair, or I'll forcibly remove you from it."

"But, last time-"

"You promised never to speak of that again, remember?"

"Oh, right. I remember."

"Good. Don't worry, this time will be completely different. I mean, what are the odds that the same thing would happen to us twice?"

"Let me see..." replied Cecile, reaching for his calculator.

Jeff rolled his eyes.

After much deliberation, Jeff and Cecile finally arrived at the local booze-up, sex-up, drug-up spot, more conventionally known as a club. Once Jeff and the bouncer had settled on a bribe amount, Jeff waltzed into the club, with Cecile trailing along behind him like a frightened dog.

The first thing that hit them was the loud, repetitive beat of whatever funny vinyl thingies that DJ was spinning around at the time.

The second thing that hit them was the horrendously foul odour of cigarette smoke, mingled with alcohol, mingled with misused medical supplies, mingled with various bodily fluids (the less said about those, the better).

The smell caused Cecile to start coughing. He reached for the inhaler in his pocket, only to remember that he had left it sitting next to his computer.

The coughs got louder and more violent, and Cecile started keeling over, unable to control them. One particularly strong cough sent the poor guy reeling backwards... right into the middle of the dance floor, under the spotlight.

Jeff let out a gasp. This could not be good. He started walking briskly towards Cecile, hoping he could get to his friend before anyone noticed.

"Look at him!" shouted one of the dancers, as she caught a glimpse of Cecile coughing in the middle of the dance floor.

Everyone spun around and stared at Cecile. Jeff, who was only about two or three people away from rescuing Cecile, stopped in his tracks, cursing under his breath.

For a moment, as everyone stared at him, Cecile's coughing stopped. Cecile looked around at his audience, and did what any sensible person in his situation would've done.

"Say, does anyone have a spare inhaler?" he inquired.

The crowd was silent. However, one could see from the expressions on their faces that they weren't going to remain that way for long. When they see someone standing in the center of the dance floor, they expect to see some dancing, or else.

Jeff figured that if he jumped into the middle, grabbed Cecile, and made a dash for the fire escape, they would have a small chance of actually surviving this ill-fated night out. He tensed up, and was just about to rush in, when Cecile started coughing again.

It started as a small, quiet cough, not very irritating, and not very ill-sounding. But it didn't stay that way. Cecile's cough quickly grew into a rib-shattering bellow of a throat clearance mechanism.

Then Cecile started moving. As he coughed more, the power of his coughs had him gyrating all around the dance floor. Left, right, up, down, diagonal, zig-zagging, figure-eight, you name it. At one stage he was even lifted clear off the ground.

The watchers were enthralled by this crazy new dance, and started trying it out themselves. A man coughed in his partner's face, she coughed back, and they both went sprawling around the dance floor.

Jeff watched all of this in amazement. In all his months of occasionally visiting this club, he had never seen anything like it. He made his way over to the center of the dance floor, with the intent of collecting Cecile's coughed out husk, and was even more astonished with what he found.

Cecile was there alright, standing triumphantly (and miraculously, after all that coughing) with an incredibly fine lady under his arm.

"I loved your dance, Ceccy, it was so amazing," she said sweetly.

Cecile smiled awkwardly at her, and adjusted his glasses. Clearly he was not used to this kind of attention.

"Let's... go somewhere a... little quieter," said Cecile, obviously repeating a line he had heard on television.

As Cecile and his new lady-friend disappeared into the crowd of dancers, Jeff shed a tear of pride in his friend. His sentimental moment didn't last long, however, as a hand tapped him on the shoulder.

Jeff spun around to see a very tall, and very strong man. A man whom he instantly recognized.

"It's you again," the man said coldly.

"About last time, err, well, sorry," Jeff replied nervously.

The man gave Jeff a menacing stare, and then lunged at him. With a squeal of fear, Jeff took to his heels and headed for the fire escape.

"At least Cecile got something out of this," Jeff said quietly to himself.

It Came From The Waste Paper BasketEdit

Theme: Horror growing somewhere

"Junk!" he cried, as he crumpled the first page of yet another imperfect attempt at a novel. "Mindlessly unoriginal vomit-inducing twallop!"

The man had been sitting at his desk for hours, trying to start a novel. He wasn't succeeding. The cheap blue pen in his hand displayed very visible bite marks, and was coming close to being a health hazard.

The exam pad that sat on the man's desk, which had been a freshly bought 100-page shrine to man's destruction of the world's forests but five short hours ago, had been reduced to 30 tatty pages, all containing engraved splotches from furious scratching out on the pages which had one rested atop them.

The remainder of the desk was littered with books about writing, famous fiction books by long-dead authors (for the man's inspiration), and empty coffee mugs.

The man threw the crumpled paper into the wastepaper bin under his desk with a righteous force, almost toppling the overflowing container.

He then raised his pen to the empty page on his desk, but stopped halfway. He could take the agony no longer. In an annoyed rage, he threw the pen at the desk, breaking it in half, and then got up and stomped out of the room, slamming the door behind him.

The room was quiet. Nothing stirred, and all was still. All, that is, except for the ink that had spilt out of the broken pen. It slowly trailed across the desk, and dripped into the paper in the waste paper basket.

As the ink spill spread onto the pages, it joined up with the ink that had already been used on them, liquefying it and adding it to itself, thereby increasing its size. Before long, the paper that one could see poking out of the basket was completely covered in blue ink.

The basket toppled, and the paper tumbled out. As the crumpled balls of ink-cover paper rolled along the light brown carpet and over the ghastly yellow rug, they began to change. Slowly, the paper started to straighten itself up, and to become proper sheets again, instead of horridly creased balls.

These sheets, once returned to their straight form, without any sign of having ever been crumpled before, started to move towards a common point in the dead center of the aforementioned hideous yellow rug.

Two of the sheets moved next to each other, and joined together. These sheets were joined by more and more sheets, until a long chain of sheets had been formed. Held together by nothing more than ink, the sheets raised themselves up, as new, inky blue, snakelike creature, and moved towards the un-inked crumpled balls of paper lying in the upturned waste basket.

The paper snake began to uncrumple the paper with some sort of telekinetic force, and then suck the paper into to itself, becoming longer and growing limbs in the process.

Just then, the door opened and the man burst in, presumably with the intent of novelizing some sort of inspiration that had come to him in a dream. Whatever that inspiration was, though, he forgot about it once he saw the paper snake.

"Hey, this would make a great story!" he shouted, alerting the snake to his presence.

As ink splattered on the room's small, curtain-less window, I silently agreed with the man's last words, and closed the notebook I had written all of this down on.


Theme: Doom

I don't know what to do about it anymore. Everything that man says comes true. However hard I try to alter the course of events, they always follow the path he gives them. Don't I have free-will? Am I not in control of my destiny? I severely doubt it sometimes.

I am Jeffery Garner, pawn of fate, or rather, pawn of The Oracle. The Oracle, obviously not his real name, is an old man who I seem to bump into with uncanny regularity. Every time I do, he tells me something, something about my future. And it's never anything good.

In the past few months, I've been dumped by my girlfriend, kicked out of two apartments, and been fired from a rather nice job. Now I'm forced to work at a local burger place, and stay with my nerdy friend Cecile.

And now The Oracle's gone and told me that today's the day my carelessness is going to get the better of me. What could that mean?

"Where's the money?" the big man asked me menacingly, his hands grabbing the front of my shirt, preventing any hope of escape.

"Eer, um, well..." I stammered. Needless to say, I didn't have "the money" on me.

"You's coming with me."

With that, the large man dragged me over to a black, unlicensed car with tinted windows, opened the boot, and tossed me in, closing it over me.

As darkness overtook me, I was frightened I would suffocate in this enclosed space. However, my mind was soon put at ease by the gaping hole in the side of the boot. It had very jagged edges, and I could've sworn I saw a few crimson stain on them.

I figured that thinking about the horrible ways that hole could've been made was better than suffocating, so I didn't stress about that too much.

What I did stress about, however, was what was going to happen to me now that I was in the large man's grasp. He'd probably take me to his boss, and then... then... well, I wasn't exactly looking forward to that.

The reason all this was happening to me was because of the money problems I've been having lately. When I was kicked out of the second apartment, I was really getting desperate for money. So, when I heard about an underground poker tournament for high stakes, I decided to take advantage of it, given my rather adept poker skills.

I borrowed Cecile's finest suit, and went off to where the poker was said to be happening. On the way, I bumped into The Oracle, and he told me that that night would not be my lucky night. At first, remembering his previous predictions (getting dumped, losing my apartment rooms, etc), I decided to turn back.

On my way, I tripped over something, and went sprawling. My cellphone flew out of my pocket, and shattered, while I landed flat on my face, dirtying Cecile's suit, and getting a blood nose.

As I picked myself up and collected the pieces of my phone, I had a sudden realization. If that terrible incident had happened to me, maybe it was what The Oracle was talking about. Maybe I would do okay at poker.

With a newfound sense of courage and enthusiasm, I rushed back in the direction of the poker place, with the certainty that tonight would be a good night, and that I had used up all my bad luck.

Of course, I was wrong. I lost terribly. All my money, gone. Now, that would've been okay, if I had only bet money I actually had. But I didn't, because I was so assured of my success.

And that's why I'm in this boot right now, on my way to an unknown fate. I tried to escape from paying the money, I really did.

Using the always effective "look behind you, it's a celebrity!" distraction, I managed to get away from my enemies on the poker night. It took a lot of running, and a few hitchhikes that bordered on hijackings, but I did it.

I managed to stay out of the way of enemies, until one night at the club. It was Cecile's first time clubbing, and I was showing him around, protecting him from the crowds, and carrying his spare inhaler. Unfortunately, the big guy was at the club too.

Let's just say that I escaped death by a very narrow margin, thanks to Cecile throwing up in the man's face, blinding him, and causing mass mayhem.

I really should've thought about that when I took Cecile clubbing, to the same club, a second time. Seems like The Oracle was right about my carelessness.

A while later, I felt the boot lid moving. I pressed my hands against it, and it moved upwards. The boot had obviously been opened accidentally.

I pushed the boot lid right up over my head, and looked out. Without a second thought, I bent my knees, and leapt for the grassy sidewalk.

For a moment, I enjoyed the sensation of flying through the air, but only for a moment. After that moment, I came crashing down on the sidewalk, and managed to bruise myself substantially.

As I got up, dizzy and bewildered from the fall, I smiled. For once, The Oracle had been wrong. As I thought that, I felt a burning pain in my leg, and fell to the floor.

But I still smiled, for it had been my recklessness, not my carelessness, that had got the better of me.

A Bothersome OversightEdit

Theme: Heroics

It was a hot day, and Freddy Jayson was on an important quest. As the world's greatest hero, Freddy was expected to protect the general public from theft, hijacking, rape, fraud, and other equally horrid misconduct. Following a lead given to him by an anonymous source, Freddy had decided to dedicate his day to bringing an end to the infamous Gilliani Drug Ring, sellers of illegal substances, and controllers of those who found themselves addicted. After a long walk, he found himself outside a large facebrick building. The windows were boarded up, but the door was not; an obvious sign that the building was not as vacant as it appeared. "This is the place," Freddy muttered quietly to himself, looking down at the address the anonymous source had given him. With a deep breath, Freddy knocked on the door. After a brief pause, the door opened by a large bald man, obviously the doorguard. "What's the password?" the man enquired curtly, as his right hand balled into a fist and connected with the palm of his left hand, in an attempt to look intimidating. "Silver wave," Freddy replied monotonously, clearly unperturbed by the bald man's attempts at intimidation. "You may enter." Freddy entered the building, and found himself in a large, decrepit hallway, not unlike the one in a short story he had read recently. A small man approached him. Unlike the bald man, this newcomer had long, dirty hair, tied back into a ponytail, as well as a ratty-looking beard and mustache. "So you want some of our wares do you?" asked the ponytail man. "Uh, yes. The best stuff you've got," Freddy replied. "Right, hold on just one second." The ponytail man was wearing a large jacket, into which he now reached, presumably to retrieve the drugs Freddy had requested. However, when his hand came out, rather than holding drugs, it was holding a pistol, which he pointed at Freddy's head. "No-one requesting 'the best stuff' would be as calm as composed as you are. They'd be an unhinged addict, twitching and whimpering, impatient for their next fix." Freddy saw the logic in the ponytail man's statement, and wished he had put on a better act. But Freddy was never one to cry over spilt milk, so he bent his knees, and took an alert stance, ready for action. "I wouldn't do that if I were you," threatened the ponytail man. "The walls have guns." As soon as the ponytail man said that, Freddy noticed a huge number of thugs step into the light, each with a gun in his hand. He was surrounded. "Now, either you get out, or we shoot you. All of us. At the same time. Not the best way to die, I can assure you." Freddy was at a loss about what to do. He cursed himself for not preparing for this properly. As he was turning around to leave, he noticed something that made him stop. A smile crept onto his face, and he knew what he had to do. With a swift motion, Freddy kicked the gun out of the ponytail man's hand and caught it. Then, with a motion even swifter than the previous one, he snapped the pistol in half. As he did this, the huge group of thugs disappeared, and only the ponytail man and his door guard were left. Dropping the two halves of the broken pistol, Freddy whipped out his own two guns, and pointed the left one at the ponytail man, and the right one at the door guard. "In future," said Freddy. "Remember to take the label off your projector remote before trying to trick others into thinking it's a gun."

A Huge MisunderstandingEdit

Theme: Not An Addict

So here's how it is. I'm stuck in this cell, and I can't get out. There're criminals all around me, and the guard simply won't open the gate for me. I've pleaded with him, and I've begged him, but to no avail. The twit simply won't see reason. Worst thing is, I haven't even done anything wrong. All of this is just a gigantic misunderstanding, a huge mess-up. But perhaps I should start at the beginning...

A few years ago, I was walking down the street, feeling sorry for myself. My father had been cheating on my mother, and they were in the middle of a divorce. I was hurt, and angered that my father would do such a thing. I had fought with him, but he hadn't listened to me. I felt ignored, and unimportant. I felt that I had been betrayed, but moreover I felt that I wasn't good enough to be listened to by my father. While I was taking this sullen walk, a man stepped out of the shadows. In a kind voice, he asked me what was bothering me. Needing someone to talk to, I offloaded all my troubles on the man. He listened intently, and when I was done, he offered me something to help my situation. He gave me what he called a "joint", and told me to smoke it, saying that it would help me relax and take my mind off of my problems. I took the joint, and lit up. As the gas filled my lungs, I felt warm, and all my troubles seemed to melt away. I asked the man for his name, and he told me to call him Mr Happiness. I doubted that was his real name, but somehow, it didn't seem to matter.

Over the next few days, I visited Mr Happiness many times, and he gave me a lot of joints. They really helped with everything that was stressing me. One day, however, when I arrived at our usual meeting place, I found Mr Happiness crying. Concerned for my friend, I asked him what was wrong. He told me, between tears, that he was having financial trouble, and would have to begin charging me for my joints. He was very upset about this state of affairs, as he didn't think it right to charge a good friend like myself. I comforted him by saying that I would gladly pay for my joints, if it would keep him off the street. At first, he resisted this, but I eventually convinced him that he deserved the money, and I was happy to pay for things as wonderful as joints.

Four years passed. Every day, I bought a joint from Mr Happiness. At first, the price was low, but as Mr Happiness's situation became more and more dire, he was forced to increase the price. It became difficult for me to afford them after a while, but I managed, first by getting, and then by working overtime at my fast-food job, and skipping lunch at school. One day, I was struck by a terrible sickness. It kept me confined to my bed for a week. During that week, I was unable to visit Mr Happiness, and couldn't get any joints. I was okay though, it's not like I'm addicted or anything. On the day I finally got better, I got my money ready, and was walking to the front door when I was confronted by my mother. She was waving a medical report around, and saying something about drugs. I told her that I wasn't on anything, and that I was just going out for a bit. She insisted that I stay in, and kept on whining about maru-something. I was getting annoyed, so I gently pushed her aside and opened the door. As I walked out, I heard a faint thud and a distant screaming noise. I figured they must've come from someone dropping something, and maybe a kettle boiling. Soon after, I reached Mr Happiness. He was very happy to see me, and shook my hand vigorously, as he told me how much he had missed me. I handed over the money I was carrying, and Mr Happiness gave me a joint, which I promptly lit up. Just then we heard sirens, and a police car pulled up. Police got out, and made a dash for Mr Happiness and I. One grabbed Mr Happiness, handling him quite roughly, and the other grabbed me, knocking the joint out of my mouth. I was arrested for possession of illegal substances.

I know it must be a mistake, because illegal substances are called drugs, not joints. And I've seen many people smoking before, they aren't allowed to do it in many places, but they don't get arrested for it. I'm sure the police will come to their senses. And I hope they do it soon, because I could really go for a joint right now. Not that I'm addicted, mind you, just that one would be nice.

Struck IEdit

Theme: Thunder & Lightning

It had been a long day. Gerald Fitzgerald, the son of two parents with a very twisted sense of humour, was driving home in the rain after his bartender shift at the booze-up joint in a nearby town (the one in his town was already fully staffed) had finished. It was late, and Gerald was tired.

He could scarcely keep his eyes open as he drove his old, beat-up Citi Golf (his parents weren't very generous either) through the pouring rain. The only thing that kept Gerald awake was the repetitive side-to-side motion of his windshield wipers, two of the few things in the car that actually worked.

This was not to last, however. As Gerald took a sharp bend in the road, everything in front of him lit up, and he heard a loud crack. He opened his eyes wide, and his head jerked around in frantic fear.

As soon as the light had appeared, it vanished, and was replaced by a grey plume of smoke, and the smell of burning rubber. Unfortunately for Gerald, his rubber windscreen wipers obviously weren't the only things damaged.

He opened his door and walked around to the front of the car, in order to survey the damage. He was shocked when he saw that his engine had been reduced to a heap of smoking metal.

Now Gerald was stranded, in the middle of the night, during a thunderstorm. What luck, he thought, as rain dripped off his thin blonde hair and into his dark brown eyes. This is just what I need. To be stranded, and under the constant threat of being struck by lightning.

Gerald got back into his car, and took his cheap monochrome cellphone out of the cubby hole (glove compartment), so that he could at least secure some help. He looked at its screen, and was greeted by an empty signal bar, and then a few seconds later by a low battery warning and a blank screen. Gerald put his cellphone back in the cubby hole, and slammed it shut, feeling more than a bit put out.

Siobhan O'Donnell hadn't been to clever. She had come all the way from Ireland to start her adult life off in an exotic setting, and South Africa seemed like just the right place. The people were friendly, there was a lot of space, and the cultural diversity made it a truly interesting place. However, Siobhan hadn't thought about the crime rate.

She was driving merrily through the countryside in the dead of night, with her car radio's volume set to 11. It may have been raining cats and dogs, but Siobhan couldn't have cared less.

A large brown dog, probably a mongrel, ran just in front of her car, barking loudly. Siobhan panicked and yanked the handbrake. Fortunately, the car squealed to a stop just in time to avoid hitting the dog. Unfortunately, the dog's owners had strange ideas about how to reward her.

As soon as the car had stopped, two masked men appeared on either side of it. They both held guns, and were pointing them through the window, at Siobhan.

"Klim uit die kar, en moenie enigietes snaaks probeer nie!" the masked man on the right yelled at her.

Siobhan's Afrikaans wasn't very good, but she assumed he had ordered her to get out of the car. Wanting to get out of this ordeal with her life, she opened her door and complied.

The other masked man got into the car, while the one who had threatened Siobhan glared at her.

"Jy's 'n mooi meisie," he said, glancing over her long auburn hair, light green eyes and trim figure, now soaked with rain. "Ek dink jy moet met my en my maat kom. Ons sal vir jou 'n... gebruikte gevind."

Siobhan didn't understand what the man had said, but she could tell by the look in his eyes that whatever it was wasn't a good thing for her.

Siobhan was standing on the edge of a small cliff. The masked man lunged at her, causing her to automatically dodge him by moving backwards, which made her lose her balance. Flailing her arms around, she let off a shrill scream and fell off the cliff, onto the hard ground below.

Gerald was at a loss. He just didn't know what he was going to do. He wanted to walk home, but it was dark, and the rain just wouldn't stop, so all he could do was sit in his car, and wait.

After an unbearably long time of waiting, Gerald began to start hearing things. At first, he heard faint music, and wondered passively as to its origin. Then he heard a loud scream.

Gerald was on full alert now. He knew that he hadn't imagined that scream, and that whoever made it was in terrible danger and needed help. Not worrying about the rain, Gerald jumped out of his car and started running in the direction of the scream.

If he had nothing else, Gerald had his excellent sense of direction. He had won prizes for it, had articles written about it, and was often said to have "swallowed a compass at birth".

Gerald soon reach the source of the scream. A young woman was lying on the ground, just underneath a short cliff-face, on top of which Gerald could see a fancy-looking 4x4, with its speakers blaring some Irish-sounding music.

It was dark, but Gerald could also make out the shadowy figures of two masked men standing in front of the car, looking down at the young woman's motionless body.

To Be Continued...

Just Add WaterEdit

Theme: Water

He stood in an ordinary house. Ordinary, except for one thing. Ink. This house's interior was completely coated with ink. Completely. The TV, the sofas, the beds, the windows, the cupboards, all full of ink.

"Why did I have to accept this job?" Oliver asked himself. "Of all things, why did I have to try cleaning up THIS place?"

Oliver was the head of a small, startup cleaning service that used his revolutionary inventions to clean houses and offices. Oliver hadn't bothered to hire any staff, because he hadn't needed any. Everything, from the admin to the work, was automated.

But now, looking at the enormous job ahead of him, a job he had never had to do before, and therefore had no inventions for, Oliver wished he had hired some staff.

That was when Oliver realised something. Below his grey hazard goggles, his brown eyes twinkled with delight, and he ran off to go get some equipment.

Using the engineering equipment he always kept in the trunk of his cleaning van, Oliver set up a makeshift inventor's station, and started thinking.

How does one get ink off of something, he thought. With water? But water will wet things, and having wet things is almost as bad as having inky things.

For a time, Oliver was stumped. But only for a time. They won't be wet things if you dry them off!

With that, Oliver set to work. He sweated inside his grey, "Cleaning Reinvented" hazard suit, but ignored that, and kept on working.

Finally, an hour and a half later, he was done. He looked over his creation, and was pleased with it.

The thing looked like a vacuum cleaner. It had a strong, durable, grey plastic shell, with a flexible plastic tube sticking out of, on the end of which was a dark gray, cone-shaped nozzle.

Using the black straps on the shell, Oliver mounted the contraption on his back, grabbed the tube, and made a terrible joke with regards to some old movie.

Oliver was making great progress with the house. All he had to do was point the device's nozzle at something with ink on it, and the device would shoot out water with the one half of its nozzle, and suck the water back in with the other half.

Having finished with the kitchen, dining room, and lounge, Oliver moved on to the study. He had heard stories about this study. Stories about the man that died of ink poisoning here. With all the ink everywhere, it's a fairly likely story, thought Oliver. Just, the man probably didn't die of ink poisoning so much as he died of drowning in ink.

Oliver turned on his ink vacuum, and started cleaning. Slowly, the room started to be revealed. First ink was cleared off the overflowing bookcase, then off the couch and small TV, and finally off the desk, which Oliver noticed was cover in blank sheets of paper.

As he moved his ink vacuum downwards, to clean off the particularly inked bit of carpet in front of the desk, he noticed the upturned, empty waste paper basket. That's odd, the rest of this house is so neat, and yet...

Oliver did not have time to complete that thought as the ground underneath him rose up violently, knocking him off balance and onto the couch.

Oliver looked up, and saw what had become of the waste paper basket's contents.

In front of him stood an enormous, living paper snake, mostly covered in the dark blue ink that the rest of the house was covered in. The snake was tall, and wide but as flat as paper. This did not make it any less dangerous, however. Oliver noticed a wet patch of uninked paper on top of the creature's head, and presumed that is what he had just cleaned.

I guess adding water can do more than just wash away ink, Oliver thought.

The creature lunged at Oliver. In desperation, Oliver stuck the nozzle of his ink vacuum out in front of him. The water poured out of it, and hit the snake.

Rather than hurting the snake, however, the water combined with the snake's inky coating, and stretched it. Oliver saw the snake growing bigger, and bigger, until it filled the entire room. Then he turned off the water, and put the vacuum into double suck mode.

The now watered-down ink was easily sucked up by the vacuum, and Oliver let out a triumphal shout as the creature screamed in agony.

When the job was done, Oliver looked over the motionless paper snake sculpture that had been left over, and thought about what a nice ornament it would make, perhaps wrapped around his coat hanger.

Struck IIEdit

Theme: Thunder & Lightning

"[Is she dead?]" asked the first masked man in Afrikaans, unaware of the eavesdropper nearby.

"[Looks like it. Silly girl couldn't live through a fall, so she probably wouldn't have lived through a session with one of us.]" the second one replied, also unaware of Gerald's presence.

"[Better get going then. At least we got this nice new car out of her. Hopefully it's more durable than its owner.]"

The men laughed together, revelling in each others' wonderful senses of humour, and climbed into Siobhan's car. They shut their doors, turned off the radio and sped off.

Once they were gone, Gerald hurried over to the woman who had screamed. He bent down and shook her gently, seeing if she responded. To his delight, she groaned and rolled over, having been lying face-down.

"Who... who are you?" she asked Gerald in a heavy Irish accent.

"I'm Gerald Fitzgerald. I heard you scream and came rushing over to help. I guess you were hijacked," Gerald replied kindly.

"Yes... I was hijacked. Two men... wearing masks... they-they spoke Afrikaans."

Gerald helped her to her feet, and she was able to stand. She looked over herself, and saw no major injuries, just small bruises and scratches.

"I'm Siobhan O'Donnell, by the way," she said to Gerald, once she had regained her composure.

"You aren't from around here, are you?" Gerald enquired.

"No, I just moved here from Ireland a few months ago. I wanted a fresh, exotic start in an interesting new country. Guess I got more than I bargained for."

Siobhan smiled weakly at Gerald, and he smiled confidently back at her.

"Don't let that put you off. We may have a lot of crime here, but you just need to be sensible and prepared, and you should be able to deal with it."

"Heh. I guess driving through the deserted countryside on your own at the dead of night isn't terribly sensible."

"We all make mistakes," Gerald said understandingly. Siobhan wasn't the only victim of hijacking he knew.

"Speaking of mistakes, why are you out on your own in the countryside at the dead of night?" Siobhan asked accusingly, but with an edge of silliness in her voice.

"Good question. I was driving home from work when my car was hit by lightning. So I've just been waiting for this rain to stop, so that I can start walking."

Siobhan's pupils and irises darted to the left sides of her eyes, and she seemed to be in thought.

"Did your petrol tank explode?" she asked Gerald.

"Fortunately not. I doubt I would've survived that."

"How full was it?"

"Almost to the brink. I filled it up only a few hours ago. Why do you ask?"

"My tank was almost empty, and I saw the hijackers carrying one of those new OliverTech petrol transfer pumps."

Gerald's eyes grew wide, and his face lit up with realization.

"Guess this means we can't go back to your car," Siobhan continued.

"I wouldn't be so sure of that. I have a plan..."

Gerald smiled coyly, and began explaining his plan to Siobhan.

"[Can this woman do nothing right?]" asked the first hijacker as the hijackers finally managed to push their new 4x4 into place.

"[Doesn't look like it,]" replied the second hijacker. "[Good thing this broken down Golf was right here though.]"

"[Yeah, and it's got a full tank too. What luck!]"

The hijackers stood in the middle of the road, between their 4x4 and Gerald's devastated old Golf. The second hijacker was holding a long pipe with a sheet of metal around its center, and began affixing it to the 4x4's petrol tank. He was so busy with what he was doing, and his partner was so busy watching him, that neither of them noticed anything else.

"Hello, gentlemen," came a voice from behind them.

The hijackers spun around, and found themselves face to face with Gerald. He was standing in front of his car's petrol tank, a lit lighter in his right hand, which was situated uncomfortably close to the petrol tank. The hijackers wished it had still been raining.

"Surrender, or face the consequences," Gerald said menacingly.

"You wouldn't," the second hijacker said, his voice faltering with fear.

"Try me," Gerald replied, his hand snaking closer to the petrol tank.

"You're too scared," said the first hijacker. "You don't have the guts."

"Oh yeah?" Gerald replied. "Well..."

With that final word, Gerald tossed the lighter into the car's petrol tank, without so much as changing his facial expression.

The second hijacker went berserk and dived onto the first one. As they fell to the ground in a tussle, their guns flew off them, without them even noticing.

"Hands up," came a female voice, ending the hijackers' skirmish prematurely.

The hijackers looked up to see their guns being pointed in their faces. The person behind the gun? None other than Siobhan O'Donnell, the Irish lady they had hijacker mere minutes before.

"Oh, how the tables have turned," said Gerald.

"[Maar, jy... die, die] lighter..." the second hijacker stammered.

"I put it out before tossing it into the tank, isn't that obvious? You obviously don't have 'lightning fast' vision, like I have 'lightning fast' reflexes."

Just as Gerald finished his sentence, there was a flash of light, and a loud cracking noise, followed by a plume of smoke, and the smell of burning flesh. The hijackers were no more.

Gerald looked up at the sky. We're even, he thought.

Unexpected GuestsEdit

Theme: God Is A DJ

"Wow, I really had a great night," I said quietly to myself. "I ought to leave my inhaler at home more often." I checked my watch as I finally got to my apartment building. It was 5AM, and I had just got back from a very enjoyable experience with Cathy, my new, err, close female friend, which had left me more than a little tired out, and more than a little happy. As I got to the front door of my apartment and started fumbling for the doorkey, I heard voices. I presumed that Jeff had been lucky enough to secure himself someone like I did. Or a few someones. Listening more closely, I found that the voices were definitely all male. Being a tolerant man, I put that down to this being the twenty-first century, and unlocked the apartment door. "Hey Jeff, who're..." I stopped midsentence when I noticed who the voices belonged to. Now, I'm not sure if it would've given me a bigger shock to see what I had been expecting to see, but I got a big shock nonetheless. I saw three large men, all dressed in black suits, with mean looks on their faces. They were standing on one side of the room, and a frightened Jeff was crouching on the other side of the room. Jeff looked a mess - well, more of a mess than usual, anyway. His hair was all over the place, his face was dirty, his clothes were torn, and he had a piece of cloth with a stick in it (obvious a makeshift bandage and splint) tied to one of his legs. Before I had the chance to do anything to stop them, the large men grabbed me by the arms and tossed me at Jeff. I landed with a thump, my glasses sprawling across the floor. I got up, very disorientated, and Jeff crawled over to me, asking if I could use any help. "No, I'm okay. But please tell me what's going on here," I replied. "Wow, I'd expect you to be a lot angrier," said Jeff in a flabbergasted tone. "After the night I just had, I'm not getting angry for a very long time, Jeff." "Nice. You've made me proud, Cecil. Anyway, to answer your question: these guys are 'debt collectors', of sorts. But they don't feel the need to keep their work within legal boundaries, if you know what I mean." "This have anything to do with that poker playing that got you living here?" "Yeah, it does." "Thank you Jeff, for doing more to stop me from gambling than any expensive 'winners know when to stop' ad campaign ever could." Our conversation was cut short by another strange man entering the room. Jeff peeked up above the sofa we were hiding behind, and told me that it was the local Godfather. I didn't bother peeking over the sofa myself, what with my glasses being on the other side of the room and all. "Jeffery Garner!" boomed the Godfather's powerful voice. Jeff raised himself slowly, letting a little whimper as he put weight on his injured leg. "Yes, Godfather?" Jeff answered meekly. "You have violated our rules. Not only did you fail to pay what you owed to us, but you also disrupted our poker basement with your destructive escape. And then you tried to hide from us, and escaped once more." "Look, I'm sure-" Jeff began, obviously in an attempt to talk his way out of the situation. "Enough!" shouted the Godfather, preventing Jeff from humiliating defeat at the game of words, a game he was never any good at. "For these breaches, you shall suffer the maximum penalty." I gasped. I had not been told what the "maximum penalty" was, but I made what I'd call a pretty good guess about it. "And so will your friend," the Godfather continued. My face went pale. I almost stopped breathing, but didn't quite, figuring I'd be able to stop breathing only a little later. One of the large goons grabbed my arm and dragged me over to where another goon had dragged Jeff. I heard a pistol cocking, and hazarded a guess at what the third goon was doing. I squinted at Jeff, and managed to make out the look of hopelessness on his face. It looked as if we were well and truly done for. The only thing I was grateful for was having had a great night out before my demise. "Bring the man his glasses, so that his last sights may be clear," commanded the Godfather. One of the goons fetched my glasses and bestowed them on my face. My vision cleared up, and I looked at the Godfather. He looked back at me. "Cecil?" he asked, in a softer, more normal tone than he had used previously. "Lorenzo!" I exclaimed, as I realized who he was. "It's been a long time Cec. Remember what good friends we were back at school?" "Yeah, those were some good times alright." Lorenzo dismissed his goons, and shook my hand. He shook Jeff's hand as well, and apologized for his unpleasantness. Jeff looked dumbfounded. I guess I would've too.

You know those people who spin vinyl discs in order to make repetitive dance music for clubs and such? What're they called again? Ah, that's it, disc jockeys. Well, God is like one of those. He mixes things together, and puts them in strange orders with odd repeats, but it all works out for the best in the end.

Joe The BurglarEdit

Theme: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Once upon a time, in the sunny land of South Africa, there lived a thief. His name was Joe. Every day, Joe would take a walk around his town, and look for things to steal.

On one very warm summer's morning, Joe came across a wealthy-looking businessman. This individual looks like a prime target, thought Joe. I will see if he has anything worth taking.

So Joe took out his pistol, walked up to the businessman, and pointed it at the businessman's head. The man stopped dead in his tracks. In a very authoritative tone of voice, Joe told him to hand over his valuables. The man refused. Joe kept his cool, and simply took the man's watch and cellphone, clearly displayed on his wrist, and sticking out of his pocket, respectively. Then, because the man had not conceded to Joe's demand, Joe shot him, and threw his body in a dumpster.

Joe continued his walk. The next person he came across was a scruffy-looking hobo, wearing a large, torn jacket. Joe decided that this hobo would not have anything worth stealing, and went on his way, leaving the hobo in peace.

Once Joe was out of sight, the hobo cackled to himself, and looked over his three cellphones, five watches and four million rand in cash. As Joe had not see how much the hobo had, his mind did not dwell on how much the hobo had.

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