The Coupon, by Ann-Louise Truschel

(Originally posted to the 2014 Christmas Competition thread on LinkedIn, on 12/19/14)

“How are you feeling, Debbie?”

“Pretty good, considering the fall I took.”

“It wasn’t a fall, Debbie. Chuck beat you AGAIN.”

“He didn’t mean to. It’s just … ”

“It’s just … until he kills you! And he will one day.”

Sobbing, Debbie whispered, “I know, but I don’t know what to do.”

“While you’re thinking about it, here’s a ‘Take Out’ coupon.”

“What kind of food do they have?”

“It’s not that kind of ‘Take Out’.”

“What do you mean?”

“Just call the number and tell them who you want to ‘take out’. Remember to mention you’ve got a coupon.”

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Unexpected, by Amy Friedman

(From the “Contribute” page)

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts:

I’m married 25 years. I love my husband and believe in my marriage vows, which I gave with a full heart. But I’m way past the point where if we were not married I’d have walked. The problems, which are looming larger and larger, are typical: money, division of labor, stubbornness and meanness (his), not feeling loved (mine). The details are probably not important. I don’t know whether staying emotionally engaged with this marriage is healthy. Some might say “Dump him”, others might say “Stay – honor your vows”. I’m on the fence. My question: Machete or poison?

Sunset, by Bobby Warner

Herbert laid aside the paper, lit a cigarette, and turned to Helen.

“They’re trying something extraordinary with one of those monster atom-smashers today. Something about a new potent element they’ve discovered. Going to try to separate its parts, or something like that. Not quite sure what it will do when the collision happens.”

Helen switched on the television. “Let’s see if there is anything about it here.”

The set suddenly acted up, and went blank. All the lights in the house went out. The central air-conditioning stopped.

Then, with terrifying abruptness, the sun went down early that day.

A Physicist’s Sleepless Night, by Sankar Chatterjee

A dictator just assumed the U.S. presidency and immediately surrounded himself with his family members. Prof. Tapas Sen, a brilliant physicist, remembers the scenario well. In his youth, it was the “Iron Lady of India” making her two sons powerful, when the younger one havocked the rule of democracy. As opposition grew, there came the dark days of the “Emergency Rule” of jailing the opposition leaders, shutting down the free press while ruling the country by spreading fear.

How much of that will repeat in U.S.? Dr. Sen does not know the answer, but it has been keeping him up all night.

Hearing Impairment, by Bill Engleson

“Any ideas, Sean?”

“Fresh out, Mike … er, Mr. Vice-President.”

“Ah, come on. There must be something we can do. He’s got the attention span of a gnat.”

“Gnat? Sir, what’s a gnat?”

“Heck, you city kids. It’s a darn fruit fly … gnats are … like the press corps. Always buzzing around. Pesky! Pointless! Anyways, If the big guy watched that even bigger guy, Comie, testify, he’s gonna go monkey doodoo.”

“Sir, you can say ape shit. We’re used to it.”

“Just practicing being Presidential, Sean. You never know when a loose word might come back and bite you on your fanny pack.”

Imagine, by Johann Lux

I left Area 51 on June 1st, 2117, arriving, seconds later, at a bus stop in Liverpool, England -1959.

I smiled at Julia and rendered her unconscious. She collapsed in my arms, missed her bus and never met Jim. Consequently, Jim and Julia never had a son named Clive, who designed a virus that killed 80% of the life on planet Earth.

I stepped into a café and sat at the counter beside a young John Lennon.

“Where you from, Yank?” John asked.

“Across the universe,” I answered.

“Do you know Elvis?” John laughed.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I laughed.

Shipwrecked, by Russell Conover

(Originally posted to LinkedIn.)

Ted was alone on the island.
The cruise ship had sunk.
His fellow travelers had been lost.
He had no idea where he was.

Ted managed to survive.
He located food and fresh water.
He crafted shelter from natural materials.
Ted even found and named a coconut, to become his only companion.
A cousin of Wilson from “Cast Away”? Probably.

Ted tried to create a boat from trees and other items.
It was his ticket to civilization.
However, the boat fell apart, and he was still stranded.

His situation was bleak.
But, he was determined to escape.
Never give up.