Tag Archives: odd holidays

Writing prompt: Reconciliation Day

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Reconciliation Day” (Inspired by this list of silly holidays.)

The tone sounded on the radio. It rang out, long and steady and unbroken. The people stood, arrow stiff, looking to the sky. Aina found it all theatrical and disconnected. The city of Vironevaeh’s old hatchet had been buried. It seemed irrelevant. So they were at peace with Naenaiaeh. The ancestors of Vironevaeh and Naenaiaeh had fought. But Naenaiaeh was all the way on another planet. No one could get into orbit, much less to other planets. Even communication between the two worlds was recent. So they’d been at “war”. How much of a war can be held between two civilizations that can’t even talk? What exactly is a war that consists of shaking your fist at the bright star in the sky and writing scathing plays about those bastards in the sky?

The tone stopped at last. Aina’s classmate Yosef wiped a tear from the corner of his eye.

“How can you be moved by this?” she asked him.

“I don’t know… how can I be moved reading stories from Earth? Or fiction? People that I didn’t know that died long ago or never existed.”

Aina snorted.

“Long ago, our peoples were one. And when they were, they were strong. I guess I hope that our unity will bring us back the strength we lost.”

“We weren’t strong because we were one, we were strong because we had technology that’s gone now.”

He shrugged. “Maybe we can regain it together. It would be poetic if our drive to reunite gave of the mechanical means to do so.”

Aina shook her head. She knew why the symbols of meaningless unity bothered her. Declarations of solidarity were just that—declarations. People cut and run when the opportunity presented itself. People told her that she should seek reconciliation too. It was the word on everyone’s tongues these days. But they didn’t know what they were talking about. Isn’t it better to live with one leg than to have a second that might betray you?

Writing Prompt: Make up your own holiday

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Make up your own holiday” (Inspired by this list of silly holidays.)

 

After the near miss, the year was three days longer. You’d think that not getting hit by a huge asteroid would be the most important outcome of The Scare. At first it was.

Only in the aftermath of something terrible do you see the little ripples and effects. Your birthday wasn’t your birthday. The fourth of July wasn’t The Fourth of July. And it wasn’t just the solar calendar. The asteroid pulled the moon farther out, which changed the lunar calendar. A lot of holidays run on the lunar calendar—Easter, Yom Kippur, Chinese New Year. Each group of people had to decide whether to switch to the new calendar or approximate the old one. Sects were formed, conflicts occurred. The surf was different. Some forms of life live like a clock with the tides, and random species we tend not to think about starting dying in droves. The days were a little longer too.

I was the first one to start it. I looked at the new calendar, I looked at the old calendar, and I said, I don’t care. I’m going to make up my own holiday. It happened roughly once a year, but when I said it would. It didn’t have to answer to anyone but me. I called it Time Dilation Day. We dressed up like Einstein. There were substances that influenced how a person perceives the passage of time. And we didn’t worry. It was a day outside the rigidities of calendars—solar, lunar, or whatever.

That was ten years ago. I’m afraid now that I started a cult. I don’t get to say when Time Dilation Day happens anymore. There’s another asteroid passing near the Earth in a couple of years. It’s not supposed to be close enough. But maybe I can change that. I don’t want it to hit, just another near miss would be swell. Once you control the passage of time, you don’t give it up.

Writing prompt: Abduct an extraterrestrial

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Abduct an extraterrestrial” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts. March 20th is Extraterrestrial Abductions Day, and after a member of our writing group misinterpreted this as humans abducting ETs, we went with that. It seemed more interesting.)

 

The light from underground was reddish. The instruments confirmed that it extended into the infrared.

“They’re down there,” Mason hissed. “The aliens!”

For the historical reader, I should explain that the presence of aliens wasn’t the novelty here, but the collection of this particular species for the St. Louis Zoo. At this point, we hadn’t understood that the Iotans travelled along subharmonic strings. We only knew at this point that they couldn’t seem to escape from caves or other underground places once they got there. We’d managed to capture two of them in this trap we’d set. A pity, it took at least three to breed.

“I can see that,” I told Mason. He was really more of a technician than an exobiologist. For him, the victory was that his trap had worked. I was an exobiologist. I needed to figure out how to get them to the zoo without them de-materializing—an annoying habit. Further, I had to figure out what Iotans ate and breathed and whether their excretions would dissolve the typical metal enclosures.

The Iotans realized now their predicament. The two of them wailed high and frankly unpleasantly. We didn’t know if they had language or if they could travel as they did simply as part of their unusual biology. I wish now that we’d known what a headache this pair would be for us. After we accidentally killed the Iotans, tough times came in the exobiologist community. I got sent to work at the facility on Mars—a humiliation. But that’s a different story.

The red light flashed white and the wailing squealed higher then abruptly stopped. There were no more signs on the instruments, no more sounds, no more anything. We cautiously crept forward. The cavern was twice as big as it had been and we saw no Iotans anywhere.

“Where are they?” Mason asked.

“How should I know?” I exploded. We were exhausted when we reached the surface, and I noted the failure in my records.

Writing prompt: Tell a fairy tale

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Tell a fairy tale” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)

 

“Daddy, what’s your favorite fairy tale?”

Karl thought for a bit. “You know, I don’t remember. It’s been a long time since I was little.”

Inga frowned. “I want a fairy tale. What am I going to do if you can’t remember any?” She sat up in bed. After seven was his precious quiet time. He needed to get Inga to sleep.

“I’ll make one up, how’s that?” Inga looked skeptical. “One just for you, a special one.” Flattery began to melt the skepticism.

“Once upon a time there was a scientist,” Karl began.

“There weren’t scientists in fairy tales.”

Karl held up an admonishing finger. “That’s only because they weren’t invented yet when the old ones were written. Just think of a scientist as a wizard, but with more numbers.

“The scientist worked many hours toiling with magical substances and arcane laws. He worked on lubrication systems for automotive engines.”

“Daddy, this better be going somewhere.” He needed to find the balance between interesting enough to engage Inga, but not so interesting as to keep her up.

“His world was full of discipline and certainty and steady income. One day, though, the scientist woke up in a different world. There were no cars and no lights and no tvs. He looked out his window and saw pigs and horses and a dragon flying through the sky.”

“A dragon?” Inga squealed. Karl cursed himself. Too exciting!

“Yes, a dragon. And the scientist was worried because his skills weren’t going to translate well to the employment prospects of this world. He would have to learn how he got there, and how to return.”

Writing prompt: Blame someone else

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Blame someone else” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)

 

The painting was covered in a thick layer of soot. I read the documentation. For years, it had hung next to a fireplace in a small poorly ventilated room. But the composition and the brushstrokes had the right look. My boss believed it was an authentic Vensammer. Tina the wonder employee, said that it probably wasn’t. When I cleaned this painting up, she’d see.

I looked at the painting for a while. It depicted a middle-aged woman sitting next to a young boy. In my mind, I guessed at the age of the painting and the techniques that would have been used at the time. Which paints would react to which treatments. If it was a Vensammer, we could auction it for twenty times what we bought it for.

I reached for the solvent, but instead I knocked it over onto the painting. I picked the painting up and tried to let it run off. If it had the proper oil finish, it would be okay with such a brief exposure. I turned the painting back over. It was not. Paint ran in ugly rivulets. Vensammer would never have been so reckless. It wasn’t a Vensammer. It was a worthless piece of junk that I had further ruined.

Quickly quickly, I dried the painting. I slid it back into the storage slot. I carefully redacted my name from the sign in list, and put Tina’s in instead. I took another painting that needed light cleaning and hurried off with it. No sir, I’d never touched that Vensammer.

Tina came in later. She studied the log; she seemed puzzled by it. I said nothing. She pulled out the faux Vensammer.

“Mert, what happened to this painting? I didn’t do this, I swear!” Her eyes were wide, pupils dilated.

The boss walked in. I suppressed a smile. “Is that the Vensammer?” she bellowed.

“Y-yes,” Tina stammered. “I can’t explain.” Tina stared at the painting, desperate. Then her face settled. “Wait,” she said. “Do you see this shape underneath this smear?”

The boss leaned in. She grunted.

“There’s another painting under here!” Tina cried. “And I’m even more certain the surface painting wasn’t a Vensammer.” She pulled out several tools and carefully set to work on the painting. “This shade of yellow… I bet this is an Artello!”

“An Artello! That’s better than a Vensammer!”

Writing prompt: National Weatherman’s Day

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“National Weatherman’s Day” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)

I turned on the news. I took my shower and I brushed my teeth. There had been two homicides overnight, unusual but not unheard of in this town. In fairly suburban neighborhoods. Something domestic I imagined.

The weather outside was crisp. The dew point was low. No clouds in the sky. That always irritated me. The absence of clouds is boring. No stratus, cirrus, or anything. Just blank. The weather station by the front door confirmed the low dew point and said it was 58 degrees. The morning sun glared at me on the commute, and again I wished there were clouds.

“Marty, did you hear?” It was Terry, the senior weatherman, the guy who went on the screen. I just did calculations and measurements.

“Hey Terry, you’re all sweaty and red. You should get into makeup.” It wasn’t the first time he’d come to work hung over.

“I guess you didn’t hear then.” He lowered his voice. His eyes were wide. “Those two homicides overnight? They were weathermen.”

I laughed. It was the only reasonable reaction. I was incredibly jealous of Terry’s job, but I knew well enough that few others cared about it. It was just like him to make a couple of murders all about him. Maybe he’d had more than booze the night before.

“They were,” he defended. “Ed Street from channel 5 and a guy that does the broadcast on a little station in Springfield.”

“It’s a coincidence, I’ll give you that.”

“A Milwaukee weatherman died in hunting accident last night. And in Orlando a guy died in a car wreck.”

I shrugged. “So are you going to do the weather or not?”

He puffed. “Of course!”

“Then get to makeup, you look like a piece of raw meat.”

He glowered. Then he nodded and scurried off.

*

The phone rang before my alarm chimed. It had to be work, it was the only contact that could override my do-not-disturb setting.

“Marty?” It was the producer. “Terry’s dead.” He’d fallen down the stairs. Drunk I bet, no doubt fretting his conspiracy of weathermen. I was going to do the weather today. I was passingly sad to hear about Terry, but it was my big break.

I hung up the phone. Not knowing what else to do, I turned on the radio and hopped in the shower. A weatherman in San Francisco had died.

Suddenly I was less excited to do the weather.

Writing prompt: Puzzle day

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“National Puzzle Day” (This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)

Cyn reached the front door at 12:03. She keyed in her entry code. Instead of turning blue, the key pad turned red and displayed a string of text. Who had the lowest average with over one hundred home runs?

“Damn,” Cyn spat. She hadn’t meant to get home after midnight. Some of the puzzles were solvable, but some, like this one, were ancient nonsense. She looked around the street. A few other bewildered people stood at their doors. It was a dangerous night to be on the street. Thousands of other people like her would wander the street. Police cars would challenge their operators too.

Every member of the city dreaded puzzle day. That’s what they called it. Exactly every 400th day, everything that worked smoothly the other 399 days would torture its users.

“Why does this happen?” the inevitable lament would arise. They lived in an ancient city of wonders. Most of the time, they took the functionality for granted. But not on puzzle day.

Cyn started toward Elbie’s house. Public transportation was out of the question. All of their questions were antique unit conversions. It was still quiet this time of night. She’d never been out on puzzle day, but like everyone else, she’d read enough.

Writing prompt: Measure your feet day

Time: 10 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Measure your feet day” (Technically, today National Blonde Brownie Day, but I care zip about them and drew a huge blank. So I opted for tomorrow’s, measure you feet day. This list is an awesome source of completely silly prompts.)

“Measure your feet today!” the full-page ad screamed. David had seen this ad, heard this commercial, for weeks, though he’d done his best to ignore it. It was weird that a hoax had so much money.

The shoes of Tutankhamen’s have been found! Top scientists indicate that his reincarnation is living today in our great nation. Measure your feet today… are they regal?

*

“Did you measure your feet?” Andy asked at recess before school.

“No. I’m not simple.”

“I guess there’s no way you’d be regal.”

“Nope,” David said.

Andy twitched. “Come on, where’s your sense of imagination? I’ll do your homework for a week if you measure your feet!”

David sighed. “Well, okay.” There wasn’t any advantage to buying into the hoax, but he could get behind not doing homework.

One of the other schoolboys, in the midst of this craze, of course had a tape measurer that he would loan out for a nickel. Andy paid it and gave David the tape.

As Andy instructed, David measured the length of his foot, the distance around his foot at the arch, the length of his big toe and the length of his second toe. He reported the numbers to Andy.

“Nuh uh!” Andy erupted. “You’re still messing with me!”

David was confused and growing annoyed. “I played along with your stupid game, are you going to honor your part or not?”

“You made those numbers up!” Andy grabbed the tape and David’s foot and proceeded to measure, too fired up to be squeamish now.

“Those numbers…” Andy trailed off. “You have to tell the New Tut organization immediately! Those are all the numbers!”

*

After Andy told David’s father about the measurements, there was no way he could avoid going. His mother dragged him to the regional center. The waiting room was filled with other boys, and even a few girls. Art work of feet in the Egyptian style adorned the wall.