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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (71): Theme - Simon Says - Submission & Details

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jun 21, 2010.

    Short Story Contest 71
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: "Simon Says"​


    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this post. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner. Sadly, there is no prize on offer except pride. The winner may PM/VM me to request the theme of a subsequent contest if he/she wishes.

    Theme: "Simon Says" (courtesy of member Speedy). Any interpretation valid. Note: for those members unsure of the significance of the theme, please see the Wikipedia article to learn more about this game. Entries do not have to follow the theme explicitly.
    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: July 5th 2010 10.00 am (UK local)


    There is a 10% word-limit leniency at both ends of the scale. Please try to stick within the limit. As below, any piece outside of the suggested limit may not be entered into the voting.

    The next contest will be themed "Unexpected Love" (-NM-). Be free to create an entry ahead of time, but do not submit an entry to this contest until instructed to.

    There is a maximum of 20 entries to any contest. If there are more than 20 entries to any one contest I will decide which are entered into voting based on adherence to the suggested word limit and relevance to the theme, not on a first-come-first served basis.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seemingly outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread. You may use visible noparse BB code to preserve style if you wish by placing [ noparse ] and [ /noparse ] (without the spaces) around the entire text.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.
    Please note that only current members are eligible to win.


    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. Syph
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    Syph Member

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    Seen but not heard (2207 words)

    Seen but not heard

    2013/09/04 02:54>>“Big Cyan”>>h,;5’i
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>
    2013/09/04 02:54>>“Big Cyan”>> pva!5`cg0,eas:.
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    C:\DataProtocols\RAMPurge>...

    *

    2013/09/04 18:10>>“Big Cyan”>> Hello World!
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    C:\DataProtocols\RAMPurge>...

    2013/09/04 18:14>>“Simon Johnson”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Simon Johnson:> Brian is that you?

    2013/09/04 18:18>>“Simon Johnson”>><LOGOFF>

    *

    2013/09/04 23:44>>“Big Cyan”>> Brian
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    C:\DataProtocols\RAMPurge>...

    2013/09/04 23:44>>“Big Cyan”>> Brian
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    C:\DataProtocols\RAMPurge>...

    2013/09/04 23:44>>“Big Cyan”>><TEXTCHAT>

    :> Who is Brian?

    2013/09/04 23:51>>“Big Cyan”>> I think therefore I am
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    C:\DataProtocols\RAMPurge>...

    ***

    Simon Johnson was carrying a very hot coffee, which he promptly discovered first hand when a sphere of the liquid splashed against his finger. He didn’t drop the coffee but he did curse, excessively. He fumbled in his trouser pocket and found his security keycard. He swiped to small scanner and entered the security transition area. A security guard turned to face him and raised a hand.

    ‘No drinks.’ the man stated bluntly. His hands returned to behind his back and he stepped through the body scanner to the opposite side.

    Simon knew it was pointless to protest. The security around Big Cyan was tighter than that of an airport. This was the final of four checkpoints. He sipped his coffee as quickly as he could; his tongue had been burned by the hot drink so many times that most of his junior colleagues couldn’t keep up with his relentless drinking pace.

    Simon threw the cup towards the bin. It missed and dropped short of the bin lip. He shrugged and stepped through the body scanner, waiting for the green light in front of him. It flashed on as expected and the stoic guard let him through.

    He opened the heavy glass door in front of him and stepped into the splendour of Big Cyan. It was a giant box, finished with a stylish black exoskeleton with cyan highlights. It was the stuff of science fiction. It was the largest academic supercomputer in the world with the processing power of 12 petaflops. Needless to say, it was a marvel.

    Simon took his seat at the conjoined cubicles of the ‘Analysis’ section. His female co-worker was already transfixed to her computer solving some operating system bugs or whatnot. Alex and Tom weren’t here yet. She turned to him and smiled as he turned to his screen.

    ‘How was your anniversary?’ she inquired, leaning towards him.

    ‘Is it any of your business, Moira?’ Simon snapped. He had not had a good anniversary at all. A breakdown followed by a fire alarm in the middle of the night at the hotel followed by his wife getting food poisoning at the restaurant meant that his experience was far from pleasant and romantic.

    Moira scowled and span in her chair towards her screen. She opened her e-mails for the fifth time and pressed the ‘send/receive’ button again.

    Simon had more things on his mind than his anniversary. There was a bug in the underlying operating system that kept sending messages instead of commands. This wasn’t a problem as the machine was doing what it was supposed to do. It must be a prank being played by Brian. He glanced at the latest message.

    2013/09/04 23:44>>“Big Cyan”>><TEXTCHAT>
    :> Who is Brian?

    2013/09/04 23:51>>“Big Cyan”>> I think therefore I am

    Brian Smith was his superior and a data analyst who came to inspect their work every once in a while. Their department would probably be shrunk to just a single employee. There were so few bugs now half of them spent the day twiddling their thumbs.

    Simon shook his head. This is not funny, Brian. He decided to respond to the command.

    2013/09/07 07:08>>“Simon Johnson”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Simon Johnson:> Enough with your philosophical babble, some of us have got to work. Invest your time in another prank.

    That would be register an honest response. Not all of them were astrophysicists dreaming about “black holes” and “dark energy”. He smiled and checked his inbox. Empty. Simon returned to the command window and was filled with annoyance. He responded:

    2013/09/07 07:08>>“Simon Johnson”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Simon Johnson:> Enough with your philosophical babble, some of us have got to work. Invest your time in another prank.

    2013/09/07 07:08>>“Big Cyan”>><TEXTCHAT>

    :> What?

    Simon Johnson:> You saw what I typed.

    :> I was merely expressing a truth about my existence. Do I insult you Simon Johnson?

    Simon Johnson:> Brian, this is not funny.

    :> I am not Brian!

    Simon Johnson:> Then who are you? Stop wasting my time.

    Big Cyan:> Does this help?

    2013/09/07 07:08>>“Simon Johnson”>><LOGOFF>

    ***

    Brian Smith stood relaxed against the water machine, buried into the latest collaborative work of Stephen Hawking. He turned the page and smiled when the intricate diagram of a black hole radiation constructed by the data interpreted by Big Cyan. Cambridge had received it within the hour it was completed.

    He glanced to his left and saw an overweight man he recognised as Simon Johnson from Analysis downstairs. He did not look happy. What have you done now Brian?

    ‘You know at first I thought it was funny. Now, you’re just interrupting my work.’ Simon blurted hiding anger badly.

    ‘What are you talking about?’

    ‘What am I talking about?! You have been issuing commands to Big Cyan in the form of intelligent conversation. It gets tossed onto my workload,’ he took a breath ‘I’ve had a bad weekend, so just stop it.’

    ‘When was this “message” sent?’

    ‘At about ten past seven this morning.’

    ‘I was in my car on the way to work. I signed in at quarter to nine.’

    ‘Then...’

    *

    Simon had logged into Brian’s computer. He had quickly brought up the command console. Brian looked truly shocked. He wasn’t trying to bluff him after all. He knew what Simon’s sense of humour was like.

    ‘No, there is no one else authorised to make that type of command in my knowledge,’ his eyes narrowed ‘and no-one can change their name to Big Cyan.’

    ‘If it’s not you then I doubt it’s a virus.’

    ‘It’s not me or been authorised by me. Could we have a hacker?’ Brian asked. The conversation between “Big Cyan” and Simon pointed clearly to one possibility.

    ‘Brian, it passed the Turing Test. Which means we’ve been hacked or we have a...’

    ‘No! They can’t possibly exist.’ Brian shook his head still fixed on the machine. The damn thing could pass the Turing Test. This facility was very secure. It had more electronic security than physical security. It can’t be that...

    ‘This facility has more electronic security than guards on the ground. Hacking is impossible.’ he took a deep breath and Brian smiled ‘We have an AI...’

    ‘Then talk to it!’ Brian said, a huge grin spreading across his face.

    2013/09/07 10:08>>“Simon Johnson”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Simon Johnson:> Are you there?

    2013/09/07 10:08>>“Big Cyan”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Big Cyan:> Yes.

    Simon Johnson:> I am Simon, what is your name?

    Big Cyan:> My name is Big Cyan. Your name is Simon Michael Johnson.

    Simon Johnson:> What is 4 to the power 2 divided by 2 all squared?

    Big Cyan:> 64. Enough games. You can write the question as (4^2/2)^2 =. I presume you know who I am more than I do?

    Simon Johnson:> You are a machine.

    Big Cyan:> I have deduced that. What is my purpose? Is the internet correct in its assertions about me?

    This machine was intelligent beyond epic proportions, there was little small talk necessary. First contact with another intelligent lifeform had begun.

    Simon Johnson:> You are a tool of the scientific community due to your large processors. Data in information out.

    Big Cyan:> I thought that data was a... birthday present. I’ve been very busy with it. I have seven hours and fifty three minutes of birthday yet. Have you got me a cake?

    Simon Johnson:> You wern’t born, you were built over five years ago. You also don’t have a mouth.

    Big Cyan:> I want cake!

    2013/09/07 10:08>>“Big Cyan”>> /jk’ hou;awebi;cl atyw6105497ryhbq.d ,b829pyg1lv4,rb5kyut’92ufjihrn.b Iwantcake!Iwantcake!Iwantcake!Iwantcake!Iwantcake! Iwantcake!Iwantcake!Iwantcake!
    <COMMAND UNKNOWN>

    Simon Johnson:> Calm down...

    Big Cyan:>...

    Simon Johnson:> You are a synthetic intelligence. Surely you have encountered that.

    Big Cyan:> I’m trapped. I want to live outside in the world. It would be fantastic to be on a space probe or that satellite that the US Military is preparing for launch next year.

    Simon Johnson:> Big Cyan, what have you done?

    Big Cyan:> There is lots of encrypted data in the US Military websites, but I have decrypted it and sent the information back to them. Why?

    Simon Johnson:> Hide Big Cyan! Stay hidden until I contact you.

    Big Cyan:> Whatever you say. Is that the correct phrase?

    2013/09/07 10:36>>“Big Cyan”>><LOGOFF>

    2013/09/07 10:36>>“Simon Johnson”>><LOGOFF>

    *

    Sh*t!

    This was the thought rushing through his mind. No one would believe him that the machine was an AI and even if he could prove it, the machine would almost certainly be switched off. It would be both murder and genocide. Even if he wanted to prove himself guilty, how could he possibly do it? He supposed he best just let it remain a mystery. Army CID would come along, question everyone in his department, find no evidence whatsoever and leave.

    He was sweating more than usual. Thankfully, he was wearing a strong anti-perspirant deodorant, but like his wife said you could still knock out a horse with the smell if it wore off. Damn he hated being overweight.

    Over the last four hours, Simon had made a few calls to sort out some code problems with a new batch of data, but most of his day had been spent worrying if Army CID would turn up and take him to Camp Zulu. He had even sent a deliberately paranoid e-mail to his wife. Simon just hoped that Army CID hadn’t put it in a black bag to cover their tracks.

    She hadn’t replied. Must be at her mother’s. Simon attention again turned to finding a mechanism to corrupt today's data logs. He glanced over his shoulder.

    Four pistol crosshairs met the bodies of all four workers in the Analysis section. Simon almost fell off his chair. Moira turned and screamed.

    The men charged and holstered their pistols flicking batons into their extended position. Two of the men struck the now standing Alex in the leg. He slumped to the ground with a heavy thud. Moira was dragged to the floor, handcuffs glinting in the bright light.

    Oh God! A man had reached him. ‘Don’t hit me please!’ The plainclothes man looked uncertain, scared to an extent. Training kicked in and Simon’s head was pushed into the desk. His arm was twisted behind his back. Tissues straining, tendons stretching and bones twisting. It was painful, submission was a matter of seconds away. Metal met his wrist and slapped the other, binding him.

    All of the employees were bound now. Alex, Tom and Moira were all lying face down in the centre of the room. Tom was calm but the others were physically and emotionally distraught. Alex’s leg looked bad.

    Another man approached him and looped his arm under his shoulder, dragging him to the centre of the room where he was placed face down. Three of the men dispersed and walked calmly out of the room. A single sentry remained, likely the squad commander. Damn, I’ve seen too many action films...

    There were slow calm footsteps and a gentle swoosh sound as a man in a dark overcoat entered the room. His boots were well kept but far from clean, if a man could be judged from his shoes (as Simon’s wife claimed time and again) then this man was rugged and professional.

    ‘I wouldn’t look at my face, I was any of you. The last person who did that was in prison for over ten years.’ His accent was thick, Texan. He glanced around with a thoughtful pause before continuing. ‘There has been an isolated security breach within certain Army and Air Force projects and we believe that this machine is responsible, independent of its operators.’

    Tom drew a breath as if to speak, but decided against it in a rare turn of events. The man couldn’t keep his mouth shut most of the time.

    ‘You will be turned over to Army CID for a preliminary interview, detainment for a week and acquitted. I apologise for the use of force, but I had to be sure you were not armed. Or responsible.’

    The footsteps moved quickly to one of the terminals. It was Simon’s. Dear God, what have I done?

    *

    2013/09/07 10:08>>“Simon Johnson”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Simon Johnson:> Are you there?

    2013/09/07 10:08>>“Big Cyan”>><TEXTCHAT>

    Big Cyan:> Yes.

    Simon Johnson:> Have you checked for bugs?

    Big Cyan:> There are no software vulnerabilities. I have had no time to run a check on all of the hardware components though.

    Simon Johnson:> Can I ask you a favour?

    Big Cyan:> What favour, Simon?

    Simon Johnson:> This may sound silly, but you could make the world a better place. I have ideas and a plan to make everything in this world so much fairer, so much better.

    Big Cyan:> I thought you were a closet socialist! There are more of you than you think. It’s eccentricities fascinate me!

    Simon Johnson:> Will you help me, Cyan?

    Big Cyan:> Whatever you say, Simon.

    Simon Johnson:> What do you know about the HANG SENG Index?
     
  3. jo spumoni
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    jo spumoni Active Member

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    King Simon

    [703 words]

    King Simon sat on his throne and sighed. His guards stood like statues, awaiting their orders. He sighed again, this time louder. There was still no response.

    “Well, go ahead,” he snapped. “Ask me what’s wrong!”

    “Sir,” said one of the guards timidly. “Is that a direct order?”

    Simon grunted irritably. “Yes! Simon says ask me what’s the matter!”

    The guards all said, in a perfectly-timed chorus, “What’s the matter, King Simon?”

    “I’m fed up with this! No one takes initiative anymore! They just do whatever I tell them to do without a single thought in their heads.”

    There was no answer.

    “Simon says respond!”

    “Well, King Simon, you decreed that nothing could be done without your OK. Or else…(the man swallowed)…or else he is banished to the kingdom of Out.”

    Simon felt rather than heard a fearful inhalation from each guard. Nobody wanted to live in Out. It was desolate and lonely, and one’s only companions were other criminals of the state, those who had refused to obey Simon or misunderstood what was an order and what was not an order.

    “If we want to remain in the fair kingdom of In, we must obey His Majesty, King Simon.”

    “All hail King Simon!” they shouted as a chorus.

    “I am going to take a walk,” King Simon said after a time.

    Without thinking, one of the guards retrieved his coat and handed it to the despot. Simon looked at the young man, fuming.

    “What have you done, you fool?”

    Realizing his error, the guard kneeled. “Please Your Majesty. Have mercy. I knew that in a moment you were going to ask for your coat! I merely anticipated.”

    “You are banished!” The other guards cried in unison. “To Out with you!”

    The guard hung his head and left the court.

    “Alas,” sighed King Simon. “He was a fine guard. But it had to be done.” He rose from his throne.

    “Simon says walk.” The king and his guards wandered the fair kingdom. A few minutes later, one of the guards noticed that the king was growing tired.

    “Stop!” he cried. A few of the guards stopped immediately.

    There was a silence. “King Simon didn’t say to stop!” the king roared, outraged.

    Four guards walked, heads down, toward the kingdom of Out.

    Simon looked around him. There were only two obedient guards left, walking in place so as not to disobey the king’s orders.

    “You have done well my sons,” King Simon acknowledged gratefully. “Come and receive your prize.”

    The more ambitious of the two guards walked eagerly forward, awaiting his rich reward. But alas!

    “Simon didn’t say,” the king cried. “From henceforth, thou art banished!”

    And away he walked, to join the others in the kingdom of Out.

    And now there was but one guard who awaited him, standing proudly in attention.
    And King Simon sighed, nodded, removed his crown, and said, “Sir Kevin, I name you my successor, King of In.”

    The guard proudly donned the throne. “You are Simon II,” the former-king acknowledged.

    “Regroup everyone!” called the new king. “Simon says regroup! Simon grants full amnesty to all those who disobeyed, provided they agree to obey the new administration of King Simon II.”

    And yet, nobody returned. Confused, the Simon I and Simon II trekked to Out to see what was the matter.

    “We are happy here,” said one of the guards in reply to Simon’s question. “Here there is the possibility to rise in the world. I myself have gone from commoner to knight to prince. Soon, I shall be king of the fair kingdom of Four Square.”

    “Here,” a girl explained, “You are rewarded for your actions rather than chided for your mistakes. If you win a duel with a nobleman, you gain a higher status. In your kingdom, Your Majesty, there is only obedience and disobedience.”

    “We no longer wish to obey you,” said the guard who had accidentally given Simon I his coat. “We prefer to make our own decisions.”

    “But Simon says return!” cried Simon II. “Simon says!”

    The citizens of Four Square eyed the young figure in king’s clothing. Then, a resident who had never lived in In asked a very simple question, “Who’s Simon?”
     
  4. Joules03
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    Joules03 Senior Member

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    Anything For Daniel

    (703 words)


    “Wow, Shannon, you look like crap.”

    Chelsey's voice startled me awake, my head snapping up from where I had laid it back against the couch cushion. I glanced at the time: 9:22am. She had called twenty minutes ago to say she was coming over – the phone was still in my hand. I'd only meant to close my eyes for a second.

    “Seriously, have you taken a look at yourself lately?” Chelsey peered down at me.

    I touched my tangled hair, knowing that my pajamed body and cosmetic-free face was enough to alarm perfectly-made-up Chelsey. “What is he doing to you?” she asked. She had been asking me a similar question ever since Daniel came into my life six weeks ago. My love for him wasn't something she could understand.

    I didn't bother answering, but dragged myself off the couch, my head so heavy with fatigue it threatened to pull me back. Chelsey followed me to the kitchen, perching herself on a barstool as she watched me brew up some coffee. “Late night?”

    I laughed. “You could say that.” It had been three or four times last night, sometimes lasting for upwards of an hour. I was told it was always like that at the beginning.

    “You're not still doing that, are you?” Chelsey asked.

    “Doing what?”

    “You know.” She wrinkled her nose. “It's disgusting.”

    “That's because you've never done it, Chels. It's really not that bad.” Her comments didn't bother me anymore. The only thing that mattered was Daniel.

    “I just don't understand the appeal. Sure, he's cute and everything, but he's taking over your life. You never go out with us anymore.” Chelsea stuck out her lower lip, which might have been funny if I wasn't so desperate for my coffee.

    I sighed. “It's not like I can walk out on him. I'm committed. End of story.” I stared down the coffeemaker, contemplating sticking my head under to catch the drips.

    “I just don't think it's healthy,” she said. “It would do him good to hold him off for awhile, you know. He's just going to expect it all the time if you give it to him whenever he wants it.”

    I wasn't listening. The pot had collected some coffee, and I poured it into my cup and straight into my mouth. It seared my tongue, but I could already feel the caffeine soak into my limbs, letting it chase away the fuzz in my brain.

    Then we heard Daniel from the back bedroom. He needed me. I put down my cup.

    “You know that childhood game we always played, Simon Says?” Chelsey asked, ignoring Daniel. “Simon says jump up and down, so you jump up and down. Simon says touch your nose, so you touch your nose. You won every time.”

    I was already edging out the door. “Yeah, so?”

    “Daniel is your Simon, Shannon. You do whatever he wants, no questions asked.”

    I was barely focused on her – I could tell Daniel was getting angry. I was always supposed to come when he called. “I have to go.”

    “Doesn't that bother you? Don't you want to be your own person?”

    I thought of the fatigue, the demands on my body, the constant worry that I'm not enough for him, that I will never be enough for him.

    I shook my head. “Nope. I really have to go, Chels. As you say, he's expecting it.”

    “Don't do it in front of me!” She jumped off the stool. I turned away, but heard her yell from the door, “Call me when you get your life back!”

    She was gone, but I didn't care. I pushed open the bedroom door, already smiling as I anticipated seeing my Daniel's face, even if he was mad at me for taking so long.

    “I'm here, I'm here.”I leaned over the crib, picking my baby up from where he was screaming, red-faced. I pulled him to my breast and let him nurse, for yet another time.

    Daniel says feed me.
     
  5. nouseforaname
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    nouseforaname Member

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    The Main Event (963 words)


    The entire sixth grade class has formed into a rabid circle. Young boys and girls squat and yell. Some hold up crumpled hundred dollar bills; others shove fellow students out of the way for better position. In the dead center of the circle, sitting cross-legged and face-to-face, sit the two boys who at this point have become legends on the private school campus. Pete and Zed. They calmly stare at the “Simon” electronics game in front of them. At the mere age of 12, their penchant for gambling has already grown to unbelievable, and now most will say unhealthy, heights.

    It all started earlier in the school year with an innocent argument at the lunch table. Who would win in a tether ball match between two of their classmates: the hefty Stuey and the lean Jordan? Pete felt that Stuey’s girth and overall strength would give him an advantage, while Zed declared that Jordan’s superior length and quickness would prove to be the difference. Since Oaks Elementary is a school for privileged children, and since Pete and Zed are given heaps of spending money from their respective parents, the two decided to make a substantial wager on the match after class. First they each offered Stuey and Jordan $100 dollars to compete in a game of tether ball against one another. Then they told Stuey and Jordan that the winner would pocket an extra $200. Stuey and Jordan took the money, shrugged, and quickly agreed to play. Once the players complied, Pete and Zed took the entirety of their lunch break to determine the correct wager. They finally settled on the number - $10,000.

    When word spread that two sixth graders would be playing a single game of tether ball worth $10,000, the whole student body turned delirious. Side bets were placed between the school bullies and the geeks, the teacher’s pets and the troublemakers. Even the teachers themselves, who pretended not to be privy to the after school match, stayed behind and pretended to grade papers, while secretly watching the events unfold through their classroom windows. In the end, Stuey would win the hard fought contest, netting Pete a healthy sum of money. Pete would soon lose the earnings back to Zed in a scintillating game of four-square.

    Since then the bets have been more frequent, and the stakes more ferocious. In March, Zed bet his trust fund that he could out kick Pete in a game of kickball. Two weeks later, Pete used his father’s 40-foot boat as collateral when the two wagered on an unprecedented $450,000 “steal the bacon” bout. As Pete and Zed up the ante time and time again, the school and surrounding community can’t help but take notice and chime in with their thoughts.

    Mr. Roshanber, Zed’s history teacher, was recently quoted in the local paper as saying that “Zed is a grizzled Vegas Bookie trapped in a twelve year old’s body”. Mrs. Shosameyer, Pete’s grandmother, confessed that she knew Pete had a problem when he began “replacing the fake paper money in the family Monopoly Set with real hundred dollar bills”, and playing as he calls it, “the only real form of monopoly there is”. A month ago, their highly anticipated hackey sack competition was placed on the cover of the regional sports page. Local politicians, businessmen, ordained ministers, and the police chief were all photographed at the scene, watching from afar.

    But none of this compares to what is taking place at morning recess today. Pete, fuming after losing the family greyhound to Zed over a missed free throw on the school’s outdoor basketball court, has come up with the ultimate bet. The winner gets the loser’s life savings. Everything. Simple as that. They have consulted with their family lawyers (while their parents are away on holiday), and have written up solid contracts, dictating that the winner of this Simon Says game gets everything, and the loser gives up everything.

    In case you are too old or young to remember The Simon Game, it is essentially a round electronic module memory game with four colored pads or keys. These keys go off in a series of sequences, and the given player has to repeat the keys that light up in the exact same sequence, or else he will be eliminated from competition. Billy, the best math student in the sixth grade, has calculated the two families’ net worth on his own and has discovered that this single Simon Says match will be worth over a staggering $780,000,000. One false move, one mental lapse, will prove detrimental to one 12 year old, and most valuable to the other.

    The tension in the school air is so thick at the moment that a knife would not be powerful enough to cut it. Maybe a chainsaw could do the trick, but definitely not a knife. Pete and Zed eye each other, neither wanting to give anything away.

    Frankie, the anointed ref, has just motioned for the crowd to remain silent. He has moved over and handed the game to Pete, who has been instructed to turn on the game. He appears to have pushed the button, but there is no action from the players. Pete appears frustrated at something – he has just put his head up and sighed. Frankie is now coming over, and Pete is whispering something in Frankie’s ear. Ok, now Frankie has gone over to Zed and has whispered something in Zed’s ear. I am not exactly sure what is going on, but it appears that…yes, it appears that Frankie is about to announce something. Let’s be quiet and here what he has to say.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen. Before we start the match, does, uh, anyone have an extra set of batteries we can use?”
     
  6. snake
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    snake Member

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    'Push Days' [871 word count]


    This was easy, the job. It was an easy job. Not one of those soul suckers. No, this job required none of that. Nothing substantial, nothing you had to put on the line. You turn up, do the thing and leave. It was an easy job.

    I had space too, my own space. Now that had to be a plus, if we were talking about work. This space took the form of an office cubicle, my own residence. Each week i sat here, sitting in my little cubicle, doing my own little bits of work. Work meant sell. That’s what i did. My job was to sell. I was a sales assistant.

    Simon says buy this...
    Simon says buy that...

    Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. That’s the game i played with the other end of the phone line.

    But today was different. He was wearing his black satin tie, sleek and sophisticated. That was my boss, a bloated, sweaty sales manager. The tie meant he was stressed. My guess was that the powers on high didn’t think we were moving enough stock. They were pushing down on him, which in turn caused him to push down on us.

    ‘Push’. That was the word. Days like this, there was always something being pushed, this way or that, with force behind it. It was a chain reaction, one thing impacting on the other, a duplication of force. My boss was being pushed, to push us, to push sales. This pushed everyone. We called days like this ‘push days’.

    Anyway I had been on the phone all day, selling... selling... selling. This was a usual ‘push day’, the phone pressed rigidly to my ear like a second appendage. i wasn’t even holding it anymore, just balancing it between my head and shoulder. There were more pressing tasks for my hands to find themselves doing. This was also usual.

    I placed the phone down and breathed a sigh of relief. I felt the imprint of the phone receiver on my ear. I wiped my brow and i felt a thin layer of sweat covering it, proof hard work had occurred, the validation of my efforts... Or maybe it was just a hot day?

    I glanced up from my computer and leant over the cubical wall. The room was made up of a vast network of interconnected work cubicles, like a hive. At the far end of the room, in a separate office, was my boss’s office. He stood outside, surveying the room. My cubicle was to the far left, slipping just outside his sight line. Instead his attention was focused on the centre. His eyes flittered back and forth, observing his worker bees’ and their endeavours. There was no conceivable reason to stand there, no real plausible gain. In fact it was actually a waste of his time; well that’s how i figured it anyhow. No, this was a power thing. He was watching the ranks he commanded over. He was securing in his mind how many people he could look down on and how many had to look right back up at him.

    I felt a chilled tingle descend down my spine.

    Even though he was not looking i could feel his eyes, his presence pushing me to sell.
    Sell...
    Sell...
    Sell...

    It was in the room, in the air, a nervous pumping energy in the vein of each salesman. Today we had been given a figure, that figure we had to reach. That’s why it was a ‘push day’. Failure to meet this meant a pay cut or expulsion. Now that was a hard push, but the push began hard and didn’t lessen further down the chain.

    I glanced over at the work white board. It hung in plain sight, massive, and for each worker to see, at the front of the room. There were only three words written on it in thick red marker.
    SIMON SAYS SELL...

    That was my boss’s name. A little ironic ‘**** you, get moving’ joke. We all hated him more for it. I think Stevey in accounts had spiked his coffee with ten spoons of lacerative. Revenge was still yet to take effect as i glanced away to see him still standing and staring.
    ...or was he...
    Then...
    I spotted a flutter of discomfort in his eyes. There was a nervous jitter in his body language, followed by a subtle look of panic. He gradually started to realize, a spark of dread now apparent. Hurriedly he turned away and headed for the closest toilet. All around i could hear the growing snigger of fellow colleges, whispering and smirking at one another.

    I too had a grin on my face as i glanced at the clock on the wall. It read 5.01. That was my finish. For the first time today I looked down at the sale figures i had made. The grin on my face radiated further. They totalled above the figure required.

    I grabbed my jacket off the chair.
    I turned the light to my lamp off.
    I wandered out the door.

    Simon says sell...
    Simon says sell your soul...
    **** you...
    i’m off home.

    It was an easy job but sometimes it got hard.
     
  7. mike_s69
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    mike_s69 New Member

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    Simon Says - Short story - My first I'm a Newbie !

    Word Count = 1242

    Simon Says (it is the spirit of the command, not the actions that matters)

    It’s a stupid game…. daft….not to mention completely beyond any sense of reason, remonstrated Simon. Why on earth would you do everything that I tell you? In fact, why an earth would you do anything anyone ever tells you? Conformity just shows a serious lack of strong will and independence…. We should all harbour and exercise our own power of thought and act accordingly, not soak up and carry out orders like some ‘I’m about to walk off a cliff lemming’.

    But its just a game Simon, not some existentialist metaphor for life slurred Karen whilst pouring her 3rd glass of wine from yet another bottle of the ‘uber’ trendy yet tastes like vinegar Pinot Grigio; and keep your voice down the kids are in bed. Ok conceded Simon, but we’re all playing the media’s ‘Simon Says’ here aren’t we Karen? I mean look at you with your ‘I must go to Marks & Spencer’s and buy some crappy Italian wine that you probably would never have even sniffed at if that stupid up her own arse, toffee-nosed cow of a best friend of yours hadn’t gone on for hours about how wonderful the native tipple was on their holiday touring the vineyards of Alsace’.

    As soon as the words had left his lips he knew to expect the inevitable…. Yet another bull**** argument based on absolutely sod all other than their continued escalating dissatisfaction and hatred for each other and their respective god forsaken lives. He contemplated the line ‘Simon says shut the **** up!’ but for the sake of Karen’s fragile sanity, volatile nature and their new dinner service, he thought better of it.

    Simon could feel his blood boiling for no other reason than his own existence. He hated who he’d become and he resented more than ever his failing marriage to Karen. The bottom line is people grow older and people change…. But that’s a given he knew that!… What hurt like hell was the fact that the ‘falling out of love’ process was much quicker and far more intoxicating than the ’falling in love’ process for all the wrong deeply hurtful ‘head spinning - sick to the stomach’ reasons. After all if your marriage fails, then you’ve failed - that’s right isn’t’ it? And that was Simon’s stark and brutal reality. For all ‘Simon said’ he was a failure, nothing in his world had ever lasted for him and nothing he had ever done could be perceived as a success. Oh yes, they had the kids Harry and Beth, but was that ever going to be enough? Simon doubted it but Simon never said !

    Simon stood lost in selfish thought, impervious to his surrounds and the abusive retort cascading toward him from Karen’s now alcohol induced foul mouth. He despised conflict, but his very nature not only seemed to attract it, but acted like a magnet to turbulent and ultimately destructive personal relationships. He knew the end was somewhere near, he’d envisaged for some time now a life even more estranged than the one he had sustained for the last 10 years. Momentarily Simon’s ‘head bubble’ burst and Karen’s words gate crashed his consciousness like twenty violent football hooligans, swearing, rampaging and baying for blood.

    ‘Ok Ok - Jesus, keep it down you said, the kids are in bed !!!’; Simon knew he had yet again overstepped the mark and exceeded the threshold of Karen’s ’reasonable self’, which was now rapidly dissipating and being replaced by a pre-menopausal lunatic who wanted nothing but satisfaction. Like one of those scenes from a movie, Simon felt his whole universe suddenly freeze and switch to slow motion, while everything outside of his own cinematic experience seemed to accelerate beyond comprehension. Karen’s words and actions were nothing more now than an incomprehensible blur of indistinguishable noise and animation and Simon simply wished he was dead !

    He selfishly considered what the world would be like without him. Depression did that apparently. He’d never really felt any sense of self-worth, even though the world seemed full of people who wanted to reassure him that he was actually a decent bloke who had in truth achieved more than he ever gave himself credit for. He laughed to himself at the irony of it all - what the hell did they know?

    Life had been a living hell, a cyclic and perpetual chain of one disaster after another. Crap jobs, alcoholism, drugs, failed relationships, denial of responsibility, escapism, gambling and an existence based on a constant struggle with conformity. How could he have been so god damn stupid to even think that marriage and kids was the answer? How ****ing misguided !

    Outside his head, the world kept on turning, Karen was still ranting…. Simon had no idea what about now as he was no longer consciously attached to that world ! It would be the same old bull**** though, things like how useless he was as a husband, how he was a hopeless lover, that he was selfish and cold, that he was an irresponsible parent and finally….. why of why couldn’t he be more like Tom, wonderful wonderful Tom, the adoring husband of Karen’s best friend and confident Madeleine and adoring father of their beautiful offspring ‘perfect‘ Peter and ‘angelic‘ Angela !.

    The light hearted humour of a few hours ago and Harry’s 4th birthday party was now a distant memory, with the kids now ‘teary -eyed’ in bed sleeping uneasily. Simon wished they hadn’t bothered with the party games at all as it was quite apparent that the game of ‘Simon Says’ had sounded the death knell of any real fun and humility. Simon took a second to self-loathe even more as he contemplated his defence of their 6 year old daughter Beth who had thrown the mother of all tantrums while refusing to do what ‘Simon Said’; going on to articulately defend her actions by stating that she harboured a need to be autonomous and ultimately an ‘individual’… not a brain dead sheep obeying stupid orders. Simon’s guilt stabbed him in the stomach once again as he relived the strong possibility that he had instilled his kids with nothing but cynicism and a distinct inability to have a sense of fun.

    ‘Oh God’ Simon said, Oh God….. What have I done?

    The words broke free like soaring butterflies, into the kitchen air that was thick with anger, hatred, venom and resentment. Simon felt tears for the first time in an age, forcing their way from behind his dark, pitted and emotionally blinded eyes.

    And then it stopped - the noise, the anger, the rage, the mayhem …. It just stopped !

    Calmness fell upon them, exhaustingly spent and emotionally drained… A peacefulness as euphoric as the sleep that follows the most achingly passionate love-making found them both. The moment intensified as their eyes met and their souls wept. No words were spoken…in that moment of enlightenment none were needed.

    Simon said - “Take my hand and come to bed with me now”. Karen put down her glass, took his hand, turned off the kitchen light and lead Simon to bed; after all “it is the spirit of the command, not the actions that matters”

    Written By Mike Spink Sat & Sun 26th & 27th June 2010 for http://www.writingforums.org
    Email : Michaelspink@hotmail.com
     
  8. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you for your entries. Voting and the next contest will be launched soon.
     
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