Comment Story

Here’s the trick – I start a story and you continue it in the comments, and then I take it further by replying to your comments, then you take the story further still. Here goes:

“Put those oranges down and step away from the vehicle, ma’am.”

Sheriff Hodge unclipped the holster, placed his hand firmly on the Glitter Gun and glared. Twenty years and too many doughnuts might well have spread a layer of fat over the muscular frame that had earned him appreciative glances and lascivious smiles in high-school, but his trigger finger was still lean and mean. His finger looked like it meant business.

The woman looked up and matched his glare with doe-like eyes that hardened suddenly as resolve took hold. She was holding the net of oranges between two fingers and as she moved the hand away from her side the net described a perfect arc. Then she cracked a smiled that never touched her eyes, opened her fingers and let go.

Two things happened in quick succession.

The first began like a rumble of distant thunder and a smell in the air that would normally have promised a storm. But this was not a normal day. Electricity cracked in the air and a patch of light, impossibly intense, formed just below the falling net of oranges.

Both woman and sheriff gasped, in way that would have been comical in a movie, before the second thing …

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49 thoughts on “Comment Story

    • ‘Hot Damn,’ thought the sheriff, ‘that glitter gun was instrumental to the plot!’ With a grimace and a prayer to the old gods he unbuttoned his cuffs, rolled up his sleeves and headed towards the utility pole. ‘How hard can climbing one of these things be?’ he thought as he crawled up the first foot of the pole like a pregnant koala.
      Behind him, the woman was thinking similar thoughts about her net of oranges, but being of a more pragmatic nature, she let her eyes scan around the mall before making a move. Her gaze fell on the hardware store with its obligatory pavement display of wares. Half a heartbeat later she was stalking towards the shop, her eyes fixed on the extendable ladders stacked against the wall.
      Minutes later, the misshapen-papaya-shaped-patch-of-light watched as two pairs of eyes moved closer and closer to its faintly crackling form from opposite sides of the utility pole. And from within the light, the glitter gun and net of oranges watched the two people balefully, as if through a distorted pane of thick glass. They has tried to get back through the portal, but had been rebuffed at the cost of a slightly discharged power source and a split skin on one of the oranges. Just wait.
      Juice dripped gently onto fecund soil as noxious black things wriggled upwards. Life taking advantage. A tendril reached from the ground towards the glitter gun, and an infinitesimal amount of energy was discharged towards it. A hiss, and what was left of it withdrew.
      The sun blazed, the gun charged, the net dripped, and all the while, the eyes moved ever closer.
      Two hands reached …

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      • … towards the glaring light, but it vanished at the last possible millisecond, leaving behind a sound like an extended fart rising in pitch at the end, and a whiff of artificial citrus. The gun and the oranges levitated for a moment before plopping down on the damp soil. One pair of eyes fixated on the other. The sheriff blinked first, and as he did, the woman shoved him with all her might, letting out an involuntary grunt. He hurtled backwards, arms flailing, almost landing on the net of oranges. The gun lay a leg’s length behind him, barely recognizable. It was no longer shaped like a capital “L”, but a small cursive “w”, and it was not immediately obvious which side would expel the sneeze-inducing confetti bugs. Between groans of pain, the sheriff protested, “Whatcha go’n do that for? I’m tryin’ a protectcha!” In the middle of his whining, she climbed down the ladder and grabbed the gun. Making her way to the net of oranges, which were starting to glow green, she waved the deformed gun back and forth, as of to hypnotize him. “Freeze, Jellygut. I’m gettin’ my oranges … don’t you try ‘n stop me …

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      • But before the sheriff could make a sound (aside from an involuntary toot of gas), the patch of light reappeared just above them – grown to a monstrous size. As they looked upward into the glare, it split neatly in two and, resembling nothing so much as one of those ghosts in Pac-Man, gobbled them up in one, swift gulp – oranges, glitter gun and all, and vanished again.
        Meanwhile, in another part of the multiverse, Blart called for his mother with a shrill voice that brooked no delay. As she came rushing in, blind panic on her face, she tripped over her skirt and …

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      • fell on her hands and knees, narrowly missing her son’s foam dart blaster lying in the hallway. Feeling silly, she got up and told herself to relax, conscious of her own tendency to worry over nothing. She kicked the dart gun aside, held up her overly long skirt, and hurried to Blart’s bedroom. Still in his Spiderman pajamas, he stood by the window, staring outside. “What is it, sweetheart?” Out of habit, she felt his forehead to check his temperature. He looked up at her with wide eyes, pointing out the window. He implored, “Can I play outside in the snow, Mom?” Her face contorted …

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      • … with worry. She looked through the window in the direction her son was pointing with his mid-hind tentacle and could see only the baking soil, barren and empty, of kskreelsh.
        ‘Damn those TV programmes about Earth – they are warping the minds of our children!’
        She sighed, adjusted her helmet and armour-plating, and moved towards her son. As her tentacles touched his rotund form, a sound jerked her attention away from him In that split-second’s lapse, he …

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      • … unplugged the furry arms and legs from his mother’s sides with four of his ventromedial tentacles. The sudden limb removal did not hurt his mother, as their kind did not experience pain. Instead, her body shut itself down for repair, retracting the tentacles into the core. With her armour still in place, she resembled a giant turtle lying on its side. Blart felt a tad guilty for subjecting her to this, but knew it was for the best. The DNA in the limbs, scavenged from the corpse of an ape, had been making her increasingly anxious and paranoid, to the point where she was having visual and auditory hallucinations. Ever since their return to kskreelsh …

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      • … saw through his mother’s eyes, stumbling backwards in shock at the sight of the barren landscape and rust-coloured skies. He had almost forgotten what kskreelsh looked like. Soon after learning to project his mind into a human avatar, he had become completely immersed in his experience of Earth. Unlike him, his mother perceived through her human counterpart only half the time, making a conscious effort to stay connected to kskreelsh. Blart could now hear the low rumble that was causing her distress, and his tentacles stiffened in fear. Suddenly …

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      • … Robert woke to the possibility that co-writing a story without agreeing the parameters in advance was nigh on an impossibility.
        Consequently he unleashed a fatal fireball in the direction of the unlucky mother and child with the intention of cutting them off from their avatars on earth (to wit the chubby sheriff who was going to lose all his fat and cause the other avatar – the lady with the oranges and the nice legs to fall in love with him) thus causing them to fall down (to all intents and purposes) dead, which was good because incest, even amongst alien life forms, was not the coolest way to move on in life (unless you happen to be a dinosaur).
        Meanwhile and thereafter, the sentient glitter gun and oranges planned on having many small, oddly shaped children who (or that) thought seldom about specific people on Earth who spend far too much time on the internet, even though they (the oddly shaped ones) were …

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      • … confined to the online realm themselves. However, the loved up couple soon discovered they were unable to reproduce as their creator Robert intended. As they considered what the missing link could be, the oranges (endearingly referred to as Sakyo O’ranges)—still glowing green—suggested that the confetti bugs in the glitter gun (aka Dodgio Glittogun) could be to blame. As Dodgio became increasingly defensive of his (or her) virility (or fertility), the not-quite-papaya-shaped patch of light appeared again, as if sensing their need for an intervention. Out of the light emerged an auburn-feathered dinosaur the size of an average modern horse. It approached …

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      • … slowly, as if careful not to squash anything, because everyone kno that orange squash is vile and unwonted.
        “Are you the ones?”
        “Well, no – neither of us are Justin Bieber, if that’s what you mean!”
        The dinosaur pondered on this for an hour or so, not that there was a clock there to measure such a span of time but all the same, the fastest of the orbiting moons (the green one) covered a quarter of the sky before it was done and in addition to that SO and DG danced a slow, hypnotic, salacious, hungry, adjective-laden dance to the pompom beat of the musical trees whilst these things happened.
        “If that is true then I can’t help you.” it said finally and dropped a shame-laden load of dirt onto the ground.
        DG turned off the olfactory functionality of its exterior interaction interface and said “so, what are you here for?”
        Another hour went by. The world continued to spin and the sun gave the illusion of moving towards the horizon. SO activated her temporary hibernation mode. DG considered her curves and pondered on the difference between an it and a her. It came to the conclusion that …

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      • [I have shamelessly taken the liberty to delete the word ‘that’ from your previous comment]—just as its gender sensor and hormone dispatcher were switched off by Robert’s mischievous co-writer—that the difference between the two (an it and a her) was negligible. Staring at SO, whose curves were immobile during hibernation, DG suddenly found her rather uninteresting to behold. It turned to the dinosaur, which had been bobbing its disproportionately big head to the beat for some time (perhaps an eighth of the green moon’s cycle), still considering how to respond to DG’s question.

        DG interrupted the dinosaur’s shame-free musings.

        “Take me through the portal with you!”

        The dinosaur’s head stopped in mid-bob. “I’m on a mission to pick up Justin Bieber, which you’ve already told me you’re not.”

        An idea popped up on DG’s interior introspective interface. ‘Holy Vermicelli’ it thought. ‘If I …

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      • … were only to tell this monstrosity that I were JB then I would be taken whence I came!’
        Then, realising that its Elizabethan England plugin was still active, it deactivated it, stepped forward on its non-existent legs (you would have to see it to believe it) and said ‘I am Justin Bieber.’
        The dinosaur paused for what DG anticipated would be at least another quarter moon to consider this statement. Not considering the wait to be worth the wait, it took matters into its non-existant hands and began to sing …
        https://g.co/kgs/S2Tg6h

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      • … with an exaggerated Canadian accent, strutting its stuff with its imaginary torso, arms and legs. Halfway through the song, its audience of one released a roar that resembled the one from MGM Studios’ Leo the Lion. Too absorbed in song and dance to take notice, DG continued to sing, turning up its bass and microphone.
        The red reptile’s roar turned into a shriek, this time in a soprano tone matching the highest ones proceeding from Ariana Grande’s pretty lips.
        DG paused its memory flash player and hissed. “That’s rude, eh?!”
        The screaming ceased. “You cannot be Justin Bieber. He hasn’t spoken Canadian accent in years. Plus, he …

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      • … he …”
        As the third ‘he’ slipped from the dinosaur’s lips, a tear began to roll down the reptile’s face.
        “He was so sweet to me last year when we lay together. I was touched by both his tender words and his oh-so-tender fingertips.”
        No sooner had those words slipped, in what amounted to no more than a sibilant whisper from the lizardy lips of the dinosaur, a twinkly kind of transformation sound (you’d know it if you heard it) rent the air and the dinosaur vanished to reveal the sylph-like form of Ariana Grande.
        “He was such a comfort to me after … you know – that Manchester thing. But then he … I don’t know what happened. He stopped calling me. And … I want him back!”
        With this, a wail of anguish and not an inconsiderable amount of snot began to pour from AG’s face.
        “I think he’s been killed,” she said between sobs, “he wouldn’t do this to me. He just wouldn’t stop calling me unless something was really, really, really wrong!”
        DG looked on, aghast and said, I think I know who did it. There’s this WordPress site I used to read. Whoever runs it stopped posting a while ago, but from what they said before they stopped, I think that …”
        AG stopped crying with a suddenness that shocked DG. She wiped snot from her face with the back of her hand and, in turn, wiped her hand on the back of her sparkly mini-dress. “Give me the URL immediately,” she snapped.
        DG, without thinking, told her the website name: https://diaryofapsychokiller.wordpress.com/, then instantly realised his mistake. AG began to shimmer and lose substance (with more than a touch of gloat to her face). Frantically, DG leapt forward – a feat only possible with legs of imagination, and fixed itself to the upper part of AG’s left leg in a close embrace that brought a shocked (and slightly lustful) expression to her face.
        A moment later, they were gone.
        Minutes later, at a computer terminal near you, an unlikely pair of fingers began to type a URL into a browser.
        “Ah, that’s the one,” said a voice as words formed on the screen “take a trip with me to the …

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      • …” The screen went dark. Pinocchio—one resembling the original rascal created by Carlo Collodi, not the artificially sweetened Disney version—pounded his wooden fist into the wall, adding a deep dent to the indented pattern. ‘When Father’s back, I’m gonna kill him,’ he thought, resentment splintering his body from inside out. To become a real boy, he needed to consume a boy (a whole one), and he had just received an anonymous tip directing him to his potential meal. In a fit of rage, he began to crush Father’s wooden and ceramic creations one by one, but was interrupted by the entrance of the deformed-papaya-shaped patch of light across the room. It almost blinded him, and when he finally dared to re-open his eyes, DG—still disguised as JB—was in front of him, obscenely perched between AG’s lithe legs. Pinocchio, being from another time and place (where there was no need for teeny boppers or their idols), had no idea who the trespassers were. Nevertheless, he did recognise the opportunity to secure fresh boy meat, and lunged at the two of them without delay. Before AG and JB knew …

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      • … it, they were being deep-throated – and not in a nice way!
        AG reached desperately for the button on ber belt that would port them out of this nightmare, but she couldn’t quite get her fingers on it. DG, in the guise of JB (although I can’t quite recall how that came about) saw her intent and reached his pasty white fingers towards her middle, just as his head slipped into the wooden boy’s mouth. He could see no more and so groped blindly around AG’s nether regions, hoping to find the right button by touch alone. He found something that felt like a likely candidate and presses it wildly.
        “Ooooh,” said AG in a surprised tone of voice. “You need to be a little higher than that, I think,” she said in a muffled way that you only get when you’re head and shoulders into someone’s throat.
        DG/JB was rather in two minds on how to take that instruction, but he erred on the side of caution and moved his fingers further up her waist and, more by blind luck than skill, managed to press the button that whooshed them, by virtue of that patch of light, out of their hellish predicament and into …

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      • … Sakyo O’ranges, squashing her against an invisible box (startling the invisible, mute mime artist inside). Green-tinted juice squirted into DG and AG’s eyes, rendering them temporarily blind. Just as abruptly as DG had taken on the disguise of JB (with no mention of its occurrence beforehand), it discarded the full-body suit now like a used rubber (not the erasing kind). With SO’s scent filling its imaginary nostrils, DG felt overwhelming remorse for having abandoned her. It hoped that the collision had not been fatal for her.

        “Es-Oh, I’ve missed you so!” DG extended its non-existent hands straight ahead, fumbling around for her.

        SO did not respond, but AG broke the silence with a girly scream, having slipped and fallen on the citrus-lubed floor. “Help me up,” AG said with a whiny pout.

        DG ignored her, blinking rapidly until its vision returned. Its confetti bugs crawled at the sight of …

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      • … an invisible apparition that appeared only to it. Then one of the authors lost his mind temporarily as he began to lose his grip on the plot and he briefly consider loosing a meteorite on the scene only to be saved by a lucid vision of a looser way of writing that loosed the usual hold on plot and concentrated more on scene and dialogue.
        “Hello!” said AG in that decidedly unfriendly way that raised up and lengthened the final syllable to ridiculous extremes, “a little help here?”
        She struggled to her feet, holding on to the back of a chair to aid her progress. Then her eyes widened as both SO and DG started to back (which neither of them technically had) away from her slowly, their eyes fixed on something way, waaay above AG’s head. Instinctively she looked towards the object of their gaze and simultaneously realised that what she was holding onto was not a chair – it was a small part of something that was much larger. Something that had teeth. Big teeth. Something that was …

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      • ..shedding tears profusely. The camel, formerly known as the invisible, mute mime artist, was now blatantly visible, being outside the invisible box for the first time in a thousand cycles of the green moon. SO’s powerful juice had dissolved the box, allowing him to escape, and also had the effect of deactivating his invisibility plug-in. Nevertheless, his muteness prevented him from expressing his gratitude in words. He opted instead to bend his long neck down and give AG (whose scrawny arm was still holding on to his left front leg for balance) a furry kiss, scaring the pulp out of her.

        Shaking in its non-existent boots, DG walked back towards them, wading through the mixture of SO’s juice and camel tears.

        “Hey! Stay away from her, or …”

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      • … not. As you wish.”

        All three of them (apart from the ‘camel’) froze for a couple of three paragraphs and assessed their relative identities, primarily because one of the authors had gone through the last couple of sections and corrected one or two errors.

        There was AG (who might or might not be Ariana Grande) clinging on to the back of a chair (that might or might not be a camel).

        Then there was a DG (whose name escapes me) who started out as a Glitter Gun, morphed through Justin Bieber and is now I know not what.

        And finally – SO (Sack of Oranges in English but something much more clever in pseudo-French) who is juicy.

        As the camels tears continued to fall (for reasons which I’m sure will become clear at some point) an unstoppable meteor began to streak towards them. It burst through the clouds just above their heads and howled through the air – an unstoppable force, kicking the air aside as it sped towards the three figures (plus the camel). Closer and closer it came until several ears began to bleed from the violence of its passage.

        Then, a bare nano-second before the meteor hit, a voice (speaking incredibly quickly?) – in fact, more like an inner-voice – one that manifested itself as a conviction in the mind of all three of them (and the camel too, I suppose – if it’s integral to the plot). And the conviction was:

        “Don’t give up!”

        Thirty four things happened at once, but (luckily) only one of those was important …

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      • … One of the authors (the female one, though no gender of either one has been mentioned until now) materialised out of a Virtual Private Network, wearing the costume of the greatest female superhero in history. She held up her right arm and deflected the incoming meteorite with the silver bracelet, saving everyone (including the camel) from incineration and certain obliteration. The camel’s crying had been tapering off before that nanosecond (how many tears of gratitude can one shed?), but at the realisation of how close his spirit had been to being snuffed out, he began to bawl anew. The female saviour grabbed a bottle of still water from her invisible backpack and put it at the camel’s feet (all that crying really sucks one dry, and she couldn’t bear to see a fellow furry animal suffer). The camel stooped to kiss her, but she put up the other arm to block him.

        “I don’t accept kisses from anyone but …” She cut herself off, anxious to get out of this fictional social gathering of her own making.

        She pressed on a birthmark on her upper left leg, and her trusty patch of light came at her bidding. A tenth of a millisecond later, she was gone …

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      • … leaving not a clue as to what should happen next.

        Stunned, the three characters (and the camel) looked at each other and pondered possible plot points.

        “What do you reckon,” said AG, “toilet break?”

        DG checked the diagnostic program relating to its (invisible) bladder and motioned a negative. SO (kind of) gestured towards the juice on the floor to indicate that this was already taken care. The camel screwed his/its/her face into an expression that was a lot like ‘ewww!’

        AG shrugged in a kind of a ‘suit yourself’ way and stalked off towards the loo by herself. Once there she stood by the sink, propped up on her slender arms and stared into the mirror. Pale skin and eyes like molten chocolate.

        She moved her face closer to the mirror said ‘ugh’ and moments later was tweezering an errant hair from her otherwise immaculately groomed eyebrows. Sighing, she flicked the tiny thing into the sink and ticked the tweezers back into her belt.

        Satisfied, for now, she turned and moved towards the stalls, pushing at one of the doors with a knuckle. It creaked open revealing what looked like an open cess-pit. The smell hit her nostrils and she let go of the door and moved to the next stall.

        Better.

        She moved in, turned and knuckled the door shut. Her panties were white and delicate, but, as they slid down her thighs, the spy-cam installed on the floor could only registered these as the lightest shade of grey.

        ‘OMG,’ thought Peter to himself as he recognised the face on his laptop screen. As he pushed the ‘Record’ key with his left hand, his right was already fumbling towards his …

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      • … Coco Pops bar, ready to devour it all at once. Ripping off the wrapper with his teeth, he stuffed the scrumptious treat into his mouth and savoured its sweet taste. With his eyes only inches from the screen, he zoomed into AG’s lower half as she hovered above the toilet.

        Peter’s mother barged into the room. “You’re gonna be late for school!”

        He scrambled to close his laptop, but it was too late. His mother got herself an eyeful. Peter’s ears burned as he muttered something under his breath.

        Meanwhile, AG put her panties back on and straightened the lower part of her sparkly mini-dress, which just skimmed the tops of her thighs (causing a slight itch with every step she took). She lifted her left foot to press the ‘flush’ button. Nothing happened. ‘Stupid thing,’ she thought, closing the door behind her and clickety-clacked with her high-heeled sandals to the sink. No water came out of any of the taps, so she wiped her hands on her dress instead. Leaning forward so that her nose almost touched the mirror, she inspected her face once more.

        “Ugh,” she said again. On her upper lip, one hair was breaking through the skin, and she grabbed the tweezers again. She tried and tried again to pluck it out, but could not get a grip on the little thing that had just begun to see the light of day. ‘Out, damn hair,” she thought, before finally giving up and tucking the tool back into her belt.

        When she went back outside to join the others, the bottle of water placed at the camel’s feet had been opened and was being guzzled down DG’s imaginary throat. Still intimidated by the camel’s size, DG’s sudden thirst had driven it to steal the water, and it wasn’t about to share it with anyone else.

        “Hey! Give the camel back his water!” AG demanded, piercing a few eardrums.

        DG stopped drinking long enough to answer. “No! The one who created SO and me – whose name escapes me – didn’t leave us any water. I’m gonna get it any way I can.”

        For the first time in who knows how long, SO spoke. Her voice was barely audible above the DG’s quaffing. “Maybe our creator meant for us to die of dehydration …”

        DG almost choked. “What kind of creator would …

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      • ” … allow that!”

        AG smiled to herself as she thought of telling them that there was plenty of water in the loo, but then remembered that the flush wouldn’t work and there was nothing coming out of the tap. She thought then of mentioning that, but stopped herself because some smart-arse was bound to ask her how she’d washed her hands. One thing she wasn’t was OCD, apart from about hairs, but she really didn’t want to have that kind of conversation with anyone right now.

        She thought back to the last night she’d spent with Justin …

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      • … Trudeau, who’d collided with her at a street corner after midnight, somewhere in North America. Distraught by JB’s disappearance from her life, she’d had more than a bit too much to drink, and was wandering around in a drunken stupor. Justin Trudeau, being two decades behind in pop culture, had no idea who AG was, and AG, knowing nothing about politics or Canada, did not recognise JT’s face. He’d brought her to his place nearby (one of his ‘pads’), where she’d spent the next few days and nights. On their last night together, when she’d gotten out of bed for a plucking session, her tweezers were nowhere to be found. Horrified by her lack of defence against hairs battling to take control of her face, she sneaked out while JT was sleeping. Walking around in the wee hours once again, she was sucked up by an impossibly bright patch of light. The next thing …

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      • … she knew she had transformed into an auburn-feathered dinosaur the size of an average modern horse and was clumping her way towards two very odd-looking figures – one looked for all the world like a net of oranges …

        … and the other seemed to be, from her limited knowledge of such things, a glitter gun, which (as any fule know) not a gun with glitter on it, but a gun that fires glitter instead of bullets …

        … and they were both looking at her in a very funny (not ha-ha) tone of voice.

        Her first thought was, strangely, nothing to do with dinosaurs, oranges, or guns, but was about a dream she’d had the previous night about God working in mysterious ways and her conviction, since she’d woke up, that she was due to meet one or more messengers of God.

        “Are you the ones?” she said.

        “Well, no – neither of us are Justin Bieber, if that’s what you mean!” – obviously riffing on the lyrics to DJ Khaled’s song (ft. Justin Bieber, Quavo & Chance the Rapper) I’m the One.

        Striving to break herself out of the hideous circularity of the story, the dinosaur (that was AG) concentrated all her energy on thinking of something smart to say.

        Meanwhile, unbeknownst to them all, a meteor was streaking towards them from the depths of space …

        And at the same time, Peter was installing a spycam, not very far away …

        And one of the authors was thinking seriously about …

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      • … playing the hero, rescuing them from incineration and certain obliteration. She converted this serious contemplation into action, and the rest was history.

        AG wondered why the female author had chosen to save their fictional lives and hurry off (not even giving her the chance to comment on the awesome outfit). She’d left them lost and confused, with no clue as to what they should be doing next. ‘What a b****,’ thought AG.

        As AG’s thoughts shifted to the other author, she turned to DG. “Why do you think your creator would allow you to die of thirst? You know that I have control over that … portal thingamabob, so we’re not stuck here, you know.”

        DG snorted. “Yeah, I also know that you can’t control where we end up.”

        SO chimed in with her wee voice. “I think I know how to get the patch of light to take us all to …

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      • … somewhere where those pesky authors can’t keep interfering with our lives.”

        “And where would that be?” said AG with more than a hint of disbelief in her voice.

        DG rejoined with, “yeah, where could we go that the authors wouldn’t find us and where, at the same time, we’d still continue to exist?”

        “You’re supposing,” said SO, “that the authors are making us up as we go along. I propose that this is not the case and that they are, in fact, simply reporting on our independent existence.”

        “That might be so,” said AG in turn, “but are we willing to take that chance?”

        “We win both ways,” said SO. “We either …”

        “Listen,” said AG urgently, holding up her hand for emphasis.

        All three froze in place. Maybe the camel froze too, but I doubt it because I think it wandered off somewhere to chew cud or something, having failed to contribute materially to the story.

        After what seemed an age to the watching moons, DG, having heard nothing much beyond wind (and a softly voiced ‘scuse my food’ from the general direction of the director’s chair) said: “I can’t hear nothing apart from wind, and eww – you are not excused!”

        “Can’t you hear that?”

        “What!” said SO and DG somewhat impatiently.

        “It’s faint, but I think it’s the sound of someone about to come up with a plot!”

        All three of them burst out laughing as the tension suddenly burst.

        “You gotta be kidding,” said SO, “they’re enjoying themselves too much to do something like that.”

        “Who, the authors?” said AG a little blondishly.

        “Of course the authors! This story writing business has turned into some kind of proxy for the real conversation that they couldn’t possibly have in this life. Both of them are too … what’s the word … not ‘committed’ (although they should be), not ‘involved’ … ah’m c’mon, what IS that word? Three syllables … Gah – hand me that thesaurus will you?”

        “I know what you mean, it’s …”

        “Invested! That’s it. They’re too inVESted in the process to … What was I saying now?”

        “Come up with a plot?” whispered the director.

        “I don’t agree,” said a loud voice suddenly, and they all jumped and turned towards the sound. There, standing in the shadows, was …

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      • … Peter’s mother. Aside from the authors (one of whom wore a director’s hat and was inclined to make rude sounds in the middle of storytelling), nobody knew who she was.

        AG put her hands on her hips. “And you would be …”

        A pair of eyes stared at her from the shadows. “I sure know who YOU are, young lady.”

        “How …”

        DG cut AG off impatiently. “Let me guess … the authors have sent you here to advance the so-called plot. Tell them to send us to a tropical island that’s immune to hurricanes … and to give us unlimited supplies of anything we may need or want. Oh, and one last thing: tell them to stop communicating vicariously through us.”

        Stepping into the light, Peter’s mother (PM) had her meaty arms folded across her ample, droopy bosom. “I came here of my own accord, y’all. The authors aren’t invested in this … whatchamacallit … conversation. They just have no idea how to end it, and neither of them have the guts to do so.”

        SO scanned her over with curiosity. “Alright, but we still don’t know who you are.”

        It took PM a few nanoseconds to realise who had spoken. She laughed in a most unladylike way, her flabby bits shaking and jiggling ferociously.

        “You … you’re a bag of oranges!”

        “No need to call me names, Madam. Besides, I asked who YOU were.”

        It took a full second or two for PM to regain her composure. “I’m the owner of this space … corner of the universe … whatever you wanna call it. The authors are leasing it from me at a ridiculously low rate. I’m also the mother of a bouncing teenage boy called Peter.”

        AG twirled a strand of long, dark hair around her right index finger. “Is Peter a fan of mine? Is that how you recognise me?”

        PM considered how to present her son in the best possible light. “He’s …”

        Liked by 1 person

      • ” … certainly been, ahem, watching you quite closely, yes.”

        “Oh, that’s lovely! You should give me his email address and I’ll make sure he gets the newsletter. I share some surprising things in there – he’d be amazed!”

        “Oh, I’m sure he’s seen quite enou … ahem, that is – yes, he’d love that.”

        AG whirled away and spoke to the the others. “What’s say we go to Mrs … erm … Pete’s Mother’s place for a spot of lunch – I’m sure she wouldn’t mind,” she spun back towards PM and continued, a winning smile on her face, “would you?”

        “Well, that would be – ”

        “Then it’s settled. Put on your glad rags, folks – we’re out of here.”

        DG changed into its JB costume. SO put a bag on her head and the camel made a camel noise in the far distance. A few minutes later they were in PM’s living room watching Peter’s jaw drop lower with every passing second due to the couch being rather low down and AG’s skirt terminating rather high up.

        Unobtrusively, RCD (aka one of the authors) pulled a book from the shelf – ‘The Seven Plots of Plotting’, turned to the contents page and read in a quiet voice “overcoming the monster”.

        Suddenly, a monster appeared and …

        Liked by 1 person

      • … spoke in a sing-song voice that was incongruent with its Bigfoot costume. “I’m here to deliver a message for the authors.”

        Except for a short belch from Peter, the room fell silent.

        Bigfoot continued. “After I leave, you’re free to live as you please without the authors’ observation or intervention, but there’s one condition each of you must fulfil. PM, you’re exempt, being their landlady and all.”

        Right on queue, PM yawned loudly, and everyone else, including HM, followed suit.
        “So, where was I? Oh yes. One condition for each of you.”

        AG adjusted one of her bra straps and said enthusiastically, “Me first! Tell me what I have to do.”

        Looking at the crumpled piece of paper in its hands, Bigfoot read, “AG, you must stop thinking or talking about anyone named Justin.”

        Her eyes began welling up, and her face contorted melodramatically. “But I …”

        “No buts,” said Bigfoot without a trace of sympathy.

        It glanced at the peculiar characters around the room, and decided to pick on the pimpled boy next.

        “Peter, you must remove every one of your spy-cams from the loos in this corner of the universe.”

        Not bothering to protest, Peter stole a quick glance at AG’s super high hemline and nodded profusely.

        “Now, on to DG, or JB, or whatever you’re called. You must forfeit your JB costume, and mate with another glitter gun.”

        “Hey, how come I get TWO conditions?”

        Bigfoot shrugged. “Those are the authors’ orders.”

        SO and the camel were not in a hurry to find out their conditions. The latter was chewing on something, and nobody knew what it could be, as it hadn’t eaten for many cycles of the green moon and couldn’t possibly have any food left to spit up.

        “As for you, Mr Camel …

        Liked by 1 person

      • But the bigfooted one was not able to finish his sentence. A shot rang out and his head exploded into thirteen large fragments, eighty-nine smallish ones and six-hundred and three splatters – all of them covered, to one degree or another, multi-coloured glitter.

        “I’ve had quite enough of this cr*p,” said Sheriff Hodge, his hand firmly holding the glitter gun – his finger on the trigger. “Let’s get this gosh-darned story back on track before I lose my ever-loving mind!”

        Everyone scattered – trying to hide themselves behind whatever cover they could find. Everyone, that is, apart from PM who, caught right in the middle of another yawn, found her mouth full of a pizza sized piece of yeti-skull. She clawed at her face – gagging and choking as she tried to extract it. Blood flowed down her chin like tomato ketchup.

        The Sheriff strode forwards, inserted a strong finger and thumb into PM’s face and yanked the bloody fragment from her mouth, threw it down and wiped his hand on his trousers.

        “Listen up, y’all,” he continued, “there’s a monster in town, and it ain’t no pansy big-foot. It’s a disease of the mind. Specifically – your mind. And yours and yours.”

        He stabbed his finger towards them all, one by one, peppering his interjections with tiny sprays of spittle that arced from his mouth, shone briefly in the sunlight, before merging themselves into the blood-splattered surroundings.

        He finished the round and swivelled his head towards the director. “You!” he said. “Come here, son.”

        The director rose from his chair and moved slowly towards the sheriff, an A4 sheaf of paper dangling from his right hand.

        “Give me that,” said the sheriff as he ripped the sheets from the director’s hand. “What’s this?”

        “Script,” said the director – his voice husky from the party he’d been to the night before.

        The sheriff raised the sheets and riffled through them as best he could with one hand. He threw them back at the director with a look of disgust on his face. “There’s nothing written on these pages. They’re all blank. That’s your goshdarned problem here.”

        He looked around at the motley cast, who were just started to rise to their feet from behind their hiding places.

        “Where’s that purty one in the spangley, low-cut super-hero costume?” he said – a frown on his face.

        “Here,” said a voice from behind a bush.

        “Ah, there you are, my dear,” said the sheriff as a figure stepped out from behind the shrubbery. “You’re about the only one here that seems to have any sense at all. Would you do me a big favour?”

        Hesitantly, the new arrival nodded.

        “You boy,” said the sheriff to the director, “give that so-called-script to his here lady.”

        The director hurried over and handed the pages over with a shy smile, then – glancing fearfully towards the sheriff, backed hurriedly away.

        “Now, my dear, if’n you’d be so kind as to write a rising, falling rising again three act structure on that there wadge of paper, I’d be much obliged to you, Ma’am. This structure-less mess has gone on for long enough. I’m the hero, of course – so mark that down first. There’s a monster, what turns out in the end to be nothing more than the doubts in mind. And then there’s this cast of people what are going to get me to pull up my socks, or drag me down. You can decide which of them will help or hinder but I’d suggest strongly that the pretty one helps me and …”

        Seeing the confusion in her eyes, the sheriff said, “no, not you. Her.” With that he jerked his head sideways towards the gore-spattered AG, who was wiping her hands up and down her thighs with more than a hint of horror in her wide-open eyes.

        “And the ugly one …”

        At this, the director looked up sharply, but found that the sheriff was in the midst of jerking his head towards someone else. He closed his eyes and moved his mouth in shapes that looked like a silent prayer.

        The sheriff glanced over at the director and resumed. “The ugly one gets in my way. I’ll let you decide who, how and why. I trust you.”

        Still holding the script, the newly-appointed script-writer nodded.

        “I’m sure you can get some suggestions from that there Director, but keep ’em off set if’n you don’t mind. We need to keep that fourth wall well and truly intact from now on. Questions?”

        No-one spoke for a very long time.

        “Oh, and you really need to get around to describing the scenery here if’n you’re going to stay. Get PM to help with that – it’s here place after all.”

        With that, the sheriff holstered the glitter gun, snatched up the net of oranges and began peeling them one by one, his nails digging firmly into the juicy flesh. As he finished stripping the first one, he glanced around to the watching crowd. Holding up the orange flesh in the palm of his hand he offered it around.

        Slowly, everyone moved towards him. No-one apart from Peter, had eaten for a good while. AG’s eyes lost a little of their panic as she accepted the first orange. One by one, they took the denuded oranges, pulled apart the pegs and popped them into their mouths.

        Ten minutes later, one cast member less to worry about, they stood as one.

        “Let’s get these folks cleaned up first,” said the sheriff. Mrs PM – I think you have showers somewhere near here?”

        And with that, the curtain fell on the prologue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Can I please have a time-out, Robert? This is probably going to sound silly, but this whole writing-a-story-with-a-structure prospect overwhelms me. I just can’t write fiction the way you do. I’m going to need time … a lot of it. I’m no superhero … and I’m freezing in this skimpy costume.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahahaha – put some clothes on woman!
        Yes – take as much time as you want – it’s all good. It was never meant to be a pressure thang. Even two lines a week would keep the thing flowing on. And if not – there are always meteorites! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • *wrapping a wool shawl around my shoulders*
        Aaaah, that feels much better. Pressure is self-induced, so I’ll stop pressuring myself. 😊
        Thanks, Robert.
        Oh, one more thing: is this sheriff a clone of the first one you blew up? Or has the original one somehow survived?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Suggestion: replace my earlier reference to “hands and knees” (the mother falling on her hands and knees) with “front tentacles”, and I’ll write something that doesn’t … um … crash the computer.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. …before the second thing occurred within that blinding patch of light. A meticulously manicured set of chocolate paws hooked over the edge of the incandescence, followed by an impressively massive Labrador’s head. One of the renegade oranges was firmly caught in it jaw as his nostrils flared in the particular way dogs have of scenting the air for food and fun. The others had fallen past, down into the depths beyond.

    “God’s woman, what have you done?” The beast had placed the orange calmly upon the ground before asking.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Later. Gun. Move!”
      The woman bent and snatched the orange from the ground. As she rose again, she leapt powerfully in the air and her feet landed in the space where the Labrador’s head had been a moment before. The movement billowed and flared her skirt. Lithe legs and the remains of a summer tan caught the sheriff’s attention, delaying him for that crucial instant. In the time it took his eyes to widen and the glitter gun to leave his holster, she was gone.
      “Dang!” he said as he pointed the muzzle into the now empty patch of light.
      “Dang!” he said again as he bent his legs and ordered them not to fail him. Muscle memory fought against flab as his body rose into the air, feet heading towards the light. He soared briefly, determination on his face, moobs baywatching under his shirt, and it was almost enough. But not quite.
      As his boots thumped back down onto the solid ground a wave of despair flowed over his face and squeezed a final dang from his lips before he succumbed to the inevitable. Those oranges were instrumental to the plot and so wherever they went, he had to go too.
      Like a child on the edge of a pool, desperate that the girls in the class not see the rolls of fat around his middle, the sheriff flung caution to the wind and his body, head first, into the light. A suck and a pop and he was through the portal.
      But before he could land on the other side, hands reached towards him and …

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sheriff Hodge twirled the glitter gun in his right hand, tossed it to the other hand, and repeated the twirling.

    “What’s taking him so dang long?” he said to himself. It was half past midnight, and his colleague still hadn’t arrived to relieve him from his shift …

    Liked by 1 person

    • …y eyed partner who was glaring at him over the rims of his John Lennon spectacles from a chair in the corner that had seen better days than anyone who had sat through the Nixon presidential race in the days when politics was the most interesting thing in the world apart from mice droppings and even those had to be chocolate nibbles in order to pass the taste test that pre-existed well before Cola-Coca thought it up and never instigated it only to be beaten to the punch by their main rivals and even that didn’t matter now since everyone had moves to Mars in the Muskmobiles after Earth ran out of twinkie-bars provoking mass-riots in the capital of the yew knighted states of somewhere or other.

      “He’d better come soon else I’m gonna run outta things to think!”

      With that he slammed the gun back in its holster, pushed himself away from the wall and headed toward the john, sharting a big one as he walked.

      “Damn! Was sure that was just wind!”

      The shifty partner just glared at the sheriff as he passed.

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Can it, slackass, you’ve got a perp to arrest tonight, get yourself back in that there car and go to this address. Here are the details.”

        With that, Sheriff Hodge thrust a sheet of paper into his colleague’s more than sweaty hands, put on his overcoat and headed for the door.

        “Wait!”

        But the sheriff was gone.

        A tumbleweed tumbled past the window. Slackass, aka Deputy Clarence Bottlethwaite, glumly studied the paper. Suddenly, his eyes widened.

        “Well I’ll be darned! Ain’t that a co-hincidence!”

        He headed for the door and seconds later there was the sound of a car revving, shortly followed by the squeal of tyres on asphalt.

        From around the corner, under the eaves, inside the shadows, Sheriff Hodge smirked quietly.

        Like

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