I love writing challenges and contests. And I’m as impatient as all heck. I just hate waiting for it to be over to get to see all the other entries and finally hear who won. So, I figure, why wait? Here’s a computer, here are writers, let’s do this! The contest will start at 1:30 EST.
- You get five minutes to write a piece of prose in any style or genre.
- You must directly reference today’s prompt: Report (noun)
That’s it. I’ll close the contest at 1:45. That’s five minutes to write, and a window of ten minutes to make sure your entry posts without errors. Or five minutes to dither, five minutes to write, and five minutes to make sure your entry posts without errors. Or ten minutes to fuss about not having the time to do this today or who the heck cares about that and then five minutes to write and hit the “post” button and pray it works the first time.
But we have to have a winner, because it’s no fun if you don’t get to hear that yours was the best ever. So, voting!
At the close of the contest, this week’s guest judge, Rebecca Hamilton, otherwise known as Becca, or @inkmuse Five Minute Fiction Week Two’s winner, will nominate five finalists. I’ll put the nominees in the poll on the side of the page, and at 9:30 PM EST I’ll close the poll and declare the winner.
For updates, you can subscribe to my RSS Feed, or follow me on twitter.
What’s the prize? Well, nothing, obviously. But we’ll all agree to tweet and/or blog about the winner of today’s contest so their fame and fortune will be assured.
A Few Notes:
- In the interest of time and formatting, it’s best to type straight into the comment box. It’s also smart to do a quick highlight and copy before you hit “post” just in case the internets decide to eat your entry.
- I reserve the right to remove hate speech or similar but I’m not too picky about the other stuff.
- This is all for fun and self-promotion. So be sure to put your twitter handle at the end of your post and a link to your blog if you have one.
I handed the report to my boss.
“This is what you’ve done?” he asked.
How the hell did he know it wasn’t good enough when he’d only glanced at it? He hated me, that’s how. Nothing I did was ever good enough for that bastard.
“You had two weeks, Cara. I expected something more… impressive. Especially considering the glowing recommendations you came with.”
“Mr. Hill, you haven’t even looked at it.”
“It’s too thin. There should be more than this.”
“Well maybe I’ve just economical and environmentally conscious. You don’t have to kill a rainforest to produce a good report.”
It meant I don’t agree with you but I don’t have a good argument for that.
“If there’s something specific you want me to fix I can go do it now.”
“Oh, you don’t have enough work to keep you busy. I’d hate to be paying employees I don’t need.”
I could feel my face going red.
“You know what, Dad? I don’t need your fucking job! I’m going back to school and I’ll pay my own way and I won’t need you!”
The bastard smiled. Smiled! Jerk.
Like so many others, Lee hated God. If he lived another 100 years, he’d never set foot in a shul or open a prayer book. In this day and age, he was amazed that anyone still believed. Insane. Lee owned a fair amount of land and made sizable contributions to the party every year. He had two small girls. Twins. He tried to do right by them and his wife. A plain looking woman. A fair cook with a good heart.
But none of that mattered. The Report condemned him. It was three pages long. But it could have been as short as one word.
That was all that mattered.
He stood there, in the dimly lit room, and tried to force himself to look into the mirror. It wasn’t, he knew, a hard thing to do; a conscious choice, an electrical impulse sent from the brain to his muscles, a few contractions and then – just like that – his head would lift up. In the last fifteen minutes, however, it hadn’t worked. He still couldn’t bring himself to look in the mirror.
Finally, it wasn’t a conscious choice at all that made his decision but, rather, an autonomic reflex; a sneeze. As his head jerked backwards on the rebound, his eyes clearing, he caught the merest glimpse of himself.
It was enough.
The reflection that stared back at him, eyes hollow and dark, wasn’t him – it couldn’t be – the man thought. He knew that he was a young man, a healthy man and – while not narcissistic – a good looking man. The man that stood opposite him, mocking him, was none of these things.
Where he knew that he had shoulder length, free-flowing, auburn hair the thing in front of him had only remnants of lank and brittle clumps intermingled with patches of red, raw skin. Years of good living, healthy living, had given him a physique that was young and strong; vibrant. The figure that looked back at him was stooped, bent, beaten; old before his time. Gaunt and thin-cheeked, with a complexion as grey as three day old snow, the other man’s eyes were as dead as a shark’s; lifeless.
It couldn’t be him – he prayed, silently, that it wasn’t him – but, then he recalled the doctor’s report of what the chemo and radiotherapy could do to him. That it could save his life but that there would be a price.
As he stood there, in the dimly dark room, and stared he wanted to believe that the tears running down the other faces weren’t his own.
… but he knew that they were.
“Saunders!” The chief bellowed to his assistant.
“Where is that report? I have to get to the meeting in five minutes.”
“I’m just printing it out now, sir.”
Saunders moved back to his desk. This was a thankless job, and he hated it. Every day he walked in, he received abuse in verbal form, from the old cantankerous bastard behind him. Chief Williams had been elected Chief of Police only a year ago, but he never did his own work. Saunders did it all. Williams just showed up and looked good. Saunders should have got that position, but instead, he was stuck being the assistant. Second-in-command. He deserved better than that.
And now he would get his chance. All he had to do was make Williams look in competent. Shouldn’t be too hard to do.
He retrieved the report from the printer and stapled them. The charts were fudged, just enough to look bad, but in the computer they were still correct. In case Internal Affairs decided to pay them a visit. It wouldn’t be Saunders’ ass on the line, then.
Williams stomped out of his office and snatched the papers from Saunders’ hand without a word.
Saunders just smiled.
By Chris Blanchard (@blanchardauthor)
“I’m getting too old for this shit,” Gerald said.
He’d been walking this beat for fifteen years now, had worked his way up from a foot cop to a detective, and still mostly kept to the same beat. In all that time, though, he had never seen anything like this.
“What do we have here, Officer?” he said to the duty officer.
“Looks like a dragon attack, sir,” he said.
Gerald had already figured that part out. There were red dragon scales all over the place, and the building they were looking at had been burned on one side. It had to be a dragon. But that didn’t explain the dead troll, the dead scientist and the fact that the place was just crawling with brownies. Gerald hated the fae, and brownies the most. The little suckers trashed his car last week. ‘We just want to clean your windshield,’ they had said. Right.
“I got that much,” he sighed, “I mean what do you have for information on the reason behind the attack.”
“Not much, sir,” said the duty officer. “Just this.”
He handed Gerald a manila folder with a plastic tab on it. A little bit of paper in the tab had some writing on it, but all it said was ‘Report.’ No number, no idea of what the report was on, nothing. Gerald opened the report and gave it a brief scan. Mystical drawings and arcain formula were side by side with scientific formula, and it looked like two different hand writings for both sets of notes. More disturbing, it looked like they were trying to find a way to combine the two styles of controlling the world.
Gerald looked over at the troll again, and saw the telltale tattoo that marked him as a wizard. Whatever was going on here, the death of these two were just the beginning of things.
“Sergeant,” he said to the duty officer, “get me some coffee. This is going to be a long night.”
From the time they met, it was hate at first sight.
Declan wasn’t the type to care whether a girl wore her hemline below her knee or if her shoes squeaked on the floor when they walked, but documenting these things were his job. He was the hall monitor. He ensured the rules were followed and when they weren’t, it was his duty to type up the offender and document the offense. He handed his report in to principle Howser and then it would be up to Howser to decide the punishment. Laura-Lee loved the hem of her skirt above her knees and she insisted that squeaky shoes should be least of the schools concerns.
The first time Declan had to report her, she threw a paper ball at him that read ‘narc’. Then the feud really started. At first it was coincidence. He only happened to notice the way her skirt played with the backs of her thighs. But ever since the narc-ball incident he’d gone out of his way to type her up for her misdeeds. And there were plenty. She let her mouth touch the water fountain when taking a sip of water. She tacked racy magazine cut-outs of cowboys smoking in her locker.
Declan couldn’t back down. Not now. Not after she defaced his history project by ‘accidentally’ spilling her soad all over it. She wasn’t even supposed to drink carbonated beverages in school. This time he had her, his report was typed up and he was on his way to deliver it to Howser. This time she wouldn’t be able to talk her way out of it. This would guarantee Laura-Lee’s suspension, and possible expulsion.
Aw, hell. I keep forgetting my Twitter handle. @noellepierce (Never would have guessed it was me, huh?) *wink*
The shipped sailed the Indian Ocean, 2000 miles from any land or civilization. It had been a long six months at sea for the 8 people aboard the research vessel. Captain Thompson could tell they were getting a bit worn out from the work load. What else was there to do?
It was the report that sat in front of the captain that captivated all his attention. He couldn’t believe what Washington was telling him about his passengers. They all seemed fairly harmless to him. Yet, the powers that be were convinced in their findings and they signed the checks. Oh, well, wasn’t really his call was it.
He pushed his chair back from his desk and rose to his feet. Walking over to the closet, he took mental note of where each person on board would be at that moment. He planned out his route as he loaded his 9mm with 7 bullets. That would be all he would need. A relief crew would be flown in by dawn.
It was going to be a long night.
My father slapped my midterm report card on his new teak dining table.
“What the hell is this about, Ben?”
I stared at his feet. Nothing I could say would make the situation any better.
“A C minus in English. In ENGLISH? Are you on drugs?”
I told him, “of course not.” Which was true, as far as it mattered, I wasn’t on any more than usual. The weed had no bearing on my school performance before now, so it stood to reason it was irrelevant now.
“Then what’s up? Are you bored? Have you given up on college? Do I need to spend more time working with you?”
“No, Dad,” I said. “I’m fine, I’m just, losing focus I guess. It’s not easy adjusting to this whole new school and neighborhood thing.”
I couldn’t tell him the truth. Sarah took up too much of my time. Instead of homework, I edited the video. In class, I was too busy dealing with her political maneuvering to focus on the assignments.
“I can’t afford to pay tuition. If you don’t qualify for a scholarship or two, you’ll be digging ditches.”
“I’ll try harder, Dad. I promise,” I said.
“That can’t be real. No way.”
“It does kinda seem too good to be true.”
“Look at the report again.”
“We’ve looked at it a thousand times already. It’s not changing.”
My right hand trembled, her left mimicked the twitch. The piece of paper nestled between our hands crackled like electricity, and my heart jumped a little at the thought of it ripping in two.
“Let’s call somebody.”
“Do you remember what happened last time?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Right. There’s no way I am going through that again.”
“People will understand.”
Sure, I thought. People always understand. But I never miss the faint downturn of their mouth. I can almost hear their thoughts aloud.
Why do you two put yourselves through this over and over again? Just give up. It’s better for everybody. They think, thank god I don’t have their problems. At least my life isn’t delusional.
“God, if this is real. I don’t…I don’t even want to let myself believe it.”
I looked into her eyes, and there was hope. Here, in this moment, none of our past failures or shortcomings existed. Her pale lips trembled with joy, her eyes on the verge of bursting forth with tears.
For the moment, I guess I could forget everyone else too. I said a short prayer to God, Jesus, Krishna, whoever happened to be listening.
“Please let us be happy.”
She clutched the fertility report to her chest as I pulled out of our parking spot.
“What are we going to name the twins?”
It was just after lunch when she called me into the nearest conference room. She was seated, and I’d been so busy I hadn’t had a chance to really look at what she was wearing: a black pencil skirt, white short-sleeved blouse with ruffles along the breast, grey high heels, no pantyhose. She had a yellow notepad propped on the table with a pen resting up at the top.
“Jonathan. Please, have a seat,” she said as I made my way to the chair across from her, wiping my mouth free of stray bits of my chicken salad.
“Uh, hi, Christine,” I said smiling, more of a smirk really. “What’s all this?”
“This is your annual review,” she said, taking the pen in her hand and clicking the end a few times.
“My…review? I thought we did those last month?”
“Not fully, no,” she said taking a piece of paper from a folder buried beneath the notepad. I could see check boxes on it, and some ominous note-taking fields.
“This is the report I fill out,” she said curtly, not even looking at me, looking it over with a wave of her index finger.
“Um, I’m confused,” I said leaning back, looking around the small room and the generic paintings on the wall depicting a fairly Picasso-ish man in a boat in varied poses.
“Isn’t this just a formality? You know, because of..”
“Because of what?” she said, looking up at me, her big brown eyes boring through me.
“You know, because of our…relationship…outside of work.”
“Anything that goes on outside of this office is not to be discussed at this time,” she said looking back down.
“Okay, so, this is…this is just part of the review process, this new report you have to fill out?”
“Yes, it is. What I fill out here will have a direct result on your future here.”
“Um, okay,” I said leaning forward. “Are you mad about something? How come no one else had to do a supplement review like this?”
“The only thing you have to worry about at this time,” she said writing something down, “is your performance. Don’t worry about anything else.”
“Fine, fine,” I said sighing loudly.
“Now, she said, before we begin, you are aware of the date today, yes?”
“Yeah, it’s June Fifteenth.”
“So you are aware of the date. Excellent, than we shall move on,” she said writing again, and it struck me, that I had forgotten her birthday, June Fourteenth, my face washing over white in embarrassment, wondering how I could’ve ever forgotten it.
“Oh, my God, Christine,” I said pleading. “I can’t believe I forgot—”
“Please don’t interrupt,” she said looking at me once again, her lips formed downwards, her face twisted with pleasure. “We have a ways to go still.”
Crap! I looked at the reminder flashing itself on my screen. MR. CRUMP: REPORT DUE 1:45.
“He’s going to fire me this time, for sure,” I said. I opened up the document, hit print, and sprang from my chair, hoping to reach the printer before anyone else had the chance.
Too late. The entire office staff was gathered round the printer. I elbowed my way through to see what everyone was watching so intently. My heart sank. No. The printer had been ripped open, the repairman busy performing open heart sugery on the old machine.
“No!” I yelled. “Put it back to gether, quickly.”
The repairman looked at me as if I’d sprouted a second head. “No can do. I think this one’s had it. Gonna have to bring in a replacement.” He wiped his hands clean.
“Well, do it. Do it now, please,” I begged. I had to. My job depended on it.
“Sorry, gotta order it. All I got are spare parts on me today. Won’t be able to replace it until tomorrow.” He shrugged his shoulders.
How could he be so unfeeling? And what kind of repairman doesn’t carry replacements?
follow me on Twitter: @cathleenholst
And that’s it, folks! I can’t wait to read them!
Becca will be getting me the nominations shortly and I should have the poll up no later than 3:00. I’ll comment and tweet when it’s up. Send everyone you know! 😉
I want to comment on my choices. First, there were two entries that off the bat stood out to me as DEFINITEs. One of those was Leah, and she didn’t feel right about including her entry, but I said she had to. Not that I don’t like everyone here, but I DO like some of you more than others, and if it was a popularity contest the 5 choices would have been different 😉 Because of the degree to which I loved Leah’s entry, I think it would be unfair NOT to include hers. Please don’t hate me for that. My choices were made SOLELY on the writing.
As for the other 4 I chose, one of them stood out to me as much as Leah’s–that’s to say, I REALLY loved two of the entries.
The last 3 I chose were HARD. Because there WERE other ones I wanted to put on the list, and I had to narrow it down from an additional 2 that I thought were really good, to the 3 I felt had an edge above the rest.
So, thank you to all the entrants. They were so good, I could see that on another week the writers might make it to the top five without trouble.
Thanks to everyone who participated! Please vote for your favorite entry. 🙂
Becca is FAST! Poll’s up! Get to voting!
And these are fabulous entries. I’m glad I didn’t have to choose from among them!
I vote for Jules Carey…all were really great…tough decision
Thanks, Carolyn, I loved that one too. I forgot to post in this thread that the poll to vote for the winner is on the right of the page.
Absolutely agree that Leah’s entry should be allowed in. Great stuff! 🙂