Literary Maneuvers June 2018 - "Gas Station Prophet"
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  1. #1
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    Literary Maneuvers June 2018 - "Gas Station Prophet"

    LITERARY MANEUVERS


    Gas Station Prophet

    June 2018



    Welcome to Literary Maneuvers, our monthly fictive showdown, where you write to a prompt chosen and voted on by our members, or in the event of an extreme tie, decided by hidden stochastic forces. The winner will receive a badge pinned to their profile and given a month’s access to FoWF where you’ll have access to hidden forums and use of the chat room.

    This is a fiction writing competition, and the prompt for this month is 'Gas Station Prophet'. Pick your own title, write about whatever you want, in whatever prose style, as long as it's related in some way to the prompt. You decide the best way in which to dazzle your readers.

    The Judges for this LM are advanced mentor Non Serviam, published writer moderan - and you? Sign up for judging by PM or in the coffee shop. If you want to judge and I left you out, send me your scores by the deadline. If you're listed here and don't wish to judge, let me know at once (please).

    All entries that wish to retain their first rights should post in the LM Workshop Thread.

    All Judges scores will be PMed to bdcharles

    All anonymous entries will be PMed to bdcharles

    Lastly, why not check out this ancient text on how to best approach this task.

    Rules






    • All forum rules apply. The LM competition is considered a creative area of the forum. If your story contains inappropriate language or content, do not forget add a disclaimer or it could result in disciplinary actions taken. Click here for the full list of rules and guidelines of the forum.
    • No Poetry! Nothing against you poets out there, but this isn’t a place for your poems. Head on over to the poetry challenges for good competition over there. Some of us fiction people wouldn’t be able to understand your work! Click here for the poetry challenges. Play the prose-poem game at your own risk.
    • No posts that are not entries into the competition are allowed. If you have any questions, concerns, or wish to take part in discussion please head over to the LM Coffee Shop. We’ll be glad to take care of your needs over there.
    • Editing your entry after posting isn’t allowed. You’ll be given a ten minute grace period, but after that your story may not be scored.
    • Only one entry per member.
    • The word limit is 650 words not including the title. If you go over - Your story will not be counted. Microsoft Word is the standard for checking this. If you are unsure of the word count and don't have Word, please send your story to me and I'll check it for you.







    There are a few ways to post your entry:






    1. If you aren't too concerned about your first rights, then you can simply post your entry here in this thread.
    2. You can opt to have your entry posted in the Workshop which is a special thread just for LM entries. You would put your story there if you wish to protect your first rights, in case you wish to have the story published one day. Note: If you do post it in the workshop thread, you must post a link to it here in this thread otherwise your story may not be counted.
    3. You may post your story anonymously. To do so, send your story to the host of the competition. If you wish to have us post it in the workshop thread then say so. Your name will be revealed upon the release of the score.







    Everyone is welcome to participate. A judge's entry will receive a review by their fellow judges, but it will not receive a score. Please refrain from 'like'-ing or 'lol'-ing an entry until the scores are posted.

    Judges: In the tradition of LM competitions of yore, if you could send the scores one week after deadline it will ensure a timely release of scores and minimize the overall implementation of porkforking. Please see the Judging Guidelines if you have questions. Following the suggested formatting will be much appreciated, too.

    This competition will close on:
    Saturday, the 16th June at 11:59:59 PM, BST time.

    Scores would be appreciated by the last day of the current month, at the latest, pretty please, cherry on top, mmm?

    Click here for the current time.
    Last edited by bdcharles; June 2nd, 2018 at 09:27 AM.




    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





  2. #2
    A Winner

    On October 4th, Jonah sat on a bench at Loyola beach along Chicago's north shoreline. The skies were gray, as was Lake Michigan, with gulls swooping and cawing over the rough waves, looking for their meal.

    The place was deserted, as he knew it would be. He remembered being a boy, sitting on those very benches with friends. They would ride bikes from all over the neighborhood back then, gathering at the beach in late fall. It was tradition. Too cold to swim, but a place to go nonetheless; to smoke, to tease one another about spindly whiskers appearing on upper lips and chins. One by one, however, they fell under some girlie's spell and gathered no more.

    He had done his tour, married the girl and had the family. He had worked hard for them, too. An uneducated man, Jonah had always toiled with his hands and been proud of his skill, like his father before him. Eventually, however, over the years a despair had crept in without notice or warning. He spent more than he earned, and in the end everything was gone, even his ability to create magic with a piece of wood. Now all he had was this beach, his memories and the sound of the gulls overhead.

    Feeling a heaviness in his chest, Jonah drove to a nearby gas station for a fill up. He went in to chat with Tommy, the owner.

    "How's it hangin', Tom?"

    "Not bad, Jones, not bad."

    "Gimme a lottery ticket, Tommy. Make it a winner, okay?" They both chuckled, like it was the first time Tommy had heard that request.

    "Hard times?"

    "The worst, Tom. Really the worst. Lost it all, I did, and I don't even know how."

    "You got your own numbers, Jones, or just random?"

    "Why don't you give me some, buddy. You were always good with numbers."

    "Okay, let's see. We need six, right?" He looked toward the ceiling in thought. "Let's go with four, ten, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, and forty-six for the ball. How's that?" Jonah wrote them down as Tommy said them.

    Am I gonna' win, Tom? It's my birthday today." Tommy smiled and winked at Jonah as he handed him the ticket.

    "Of course, Jones. You are a winner."

    The house was empty when Jonah got home. He took off his coat, turned on the TV; sat down in his easy chair. He soon fell asleep and began to dream about his family. He saw them, sitting around the dining room table and looking at him, like it was Thanksgiving and he was carving the bird. Everyone looked happy. His oldest son Michael stood up suddenly and Jonah smiled at him with love and pride.

    Michael raised his glass and said "Forty-six!" Jonah felt confused, but was still smiling when he woke up. His eyes fell on the TV screen.

    "So there you have it, folks. Let's see if there is one winner or several in our historic lottery of one billion dollars!"

    Jonah knew the numbers by heart. 10, 4, 19, 46, 20, 18.

    He never took his eyes off the screen as the camera panned the numbers that had been drawn. Jonah jumped out of his chair and began yelling.

    "Tommy was right! I am a winner! Tommy's a dang gas station prophet! Hurrah for me!"

    Jonah was excited; a lethal excitement as it turned out. The pain started in his left arm, spread rapidly to his heart. The crushing weight on his chest threw him to the floor where he lay for several minutes gasping for air. Later that evening, Michael found him quite dead, clutching the valued lottery ticket in his hand.

    No one noticed the ticket held the exact dates of Jonah's birth and death.

    After that, his family never remembered he had failed in life. On his tombstone, the words "A Winner" said it all.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  3. #3
    WARNING: Profanity is used within this entry, so if you do not approve of stronger language, this may not be best for you to read.


    The Devil Godsend

    “Woah, Addie, slow down,” said Jess. “You’re driving like a maniac.”

    “I can’t Jess,” I said. “I’m out of gas.”

    “There’s a station right up here.”

    “I know,” I said. “But I’m on the ‘E’.”

    We pulled into the gas station. I quickly scanned around. “Shit, they’re all taken.”

    “No, wait, there’s one over there.”

    “Right,” I said, revving the engine and racing to the spot. This place was packed, which made sense since it was the only gas station off the highway.

    “Looks like that guy is going to take it,” said Jess looking at a blue vintage sports car lining up perfectly with the pump.

    VROOM!

    “Addie, what are you doing?” asked Jess.

    The sports car was driving casually as it rolled into the pump. I knew I had to book it. I slammed on the gas and cut in front of that sports car.

    BEEP! BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

    “You fucking bitch,” yelled a guy from the car.

    “Oh my god, Addie,” said Jess. “I can’t believe you just did that…”

    “Me neither,” I said.

    Jess and I just looked at each other and started smirking. We were certain the guy could see us, but thank God we had sunglasses on so he couldn’t see our faces. He ripped open the door to his car and started marching toward us.

    “Oh shit, here he comes,” said Jess.

    “Damn, what do we do now?” I asked.

    “Just stay calm,” said Jess.

    What at first was a fun joke, now had me scared on the edge of my seat. I was shaking all over. I didn’t turn to look at the guy, just him in my rearview mirror, coming closer, closer. Long hair, black sunglasses, a leather coat with the short sleeves ripped out, a gold chain necklace, baggy jeans halfway down his ass.

    “What’s your problem, girl?” he approaches me at the car door and puts his head close to mine. Pulls off the sunglasses. I could see a tattoo of Jesus on his shoulder. He was probably my age or a bit older.

    “Look mister, my friend and I are running late and we needed a quick pit stop, okay?” I said. “Now please go back to your vintage sports car and wait your turn.” I knew I shouldn’t have said that, but I did.

    “But you cut me off,” he yelled. “It was my turn.”

    “Please don’t yell at me, mister,” I said.

    “Then move your car. Let me go, NOW!”

    “But I’m already here,” I said. “Look. Can my friend and I just get some gas quickly then leave? I’m sorry I cut you off, okay? I’m having a pretty shitty day and I’m running really late.”

    “Uggh,” said the guy. “If you weren’t a girl, I would hurt you so bad right now.” Aww. How sympathetic.

    “I’m sorry,” I said as I walked over to pay at the pump. I could tell he was still fuming. He just glared at me as I pumped gas. I locked onto his gorgeous green eyes for a split second. He even looked like Jesus. Right then, I was in love. But I forced myself to look away.

    I could see he wanted to pound me, but was holding back. I couldn’t help but smile. He went back into his car and repeatedly beeped the horn, purposefully being an asshole just because I took his spot.

    I finished pumping, not looking at the guy but just walking back toward my shitty Ford Focus. I started it up. Still more horns.

    “Let’s go,” I said to Jess.

    “Yeah, lets,” she said as I revved up and left the station.

    I thought about his beautiful green eyes. As much as I hated him, I loved him and his bad ass attitude. He was a godsend. Even though I wanted nothing to do with him.

    No, I won’t forget my gas station prophet boy.

  4. #4
    A Little Brown Man in a Little White Town by Bob Brown 641 words

    We are a little town in rural America. The quality of life is good, but money is tight. The little gas station sat vacant for years and was just purchased by someone from out of town. As a town councilman, this is good news; our town gets a percentage of the state sales tax, and we need the revenue.

    Today was my day to meet the new owner and welcome him to the town.

    The boards are off the windows and they have been washed. The parking lot has been cleared of grass and litter, and it is starting to look the way it did used to. It was not open for business yet, so I figured it was a great time to stop and visit.

    “Hellooo… I hollered into the empty store.”
    From the back came, “I’ll be right there.”

    Out from the back, stepped a middle aged… and a very brown man; not something you see around here except on TV. I am now flashing back to the TV show the Simpson’s. I stick out my hand and introduce myself.

    He quietly replied, “I am Hari Kondabolu.”

    I was caught off guard and not sure what to say. I look at him and ask, “So are you an Indian with a dot, or a feather?”

    Completely surprised, he gave me a broad smile.

    “Let’s just make this easy.” I say. “You can call me Homer and I will just call you Apu.”

    We both chuckled. The tension has been broken, we both seem to have a sense of humor. It is also obvious that as the only non-white guy for miles, he is nervous about running a business here. We chat about the town and the people here. While I am glad to have him here, there may be some that aren’t.

    I wish him luck and bid him fair well.

    “See you later… Homer!” He merrily calls out, as I turn to leave.

    I stop. Don’t you mean, “Thank you… Come again.” We both smile.

    Back at the town hall we have one of those big portable signs that you can write whatever you want on, just collecting dust. I had an idea. Sometimes the best way to put people at ease… is with humor, it has broken down many barriers.

    I wanted Hari to do well. The town needed him to do well. Opening day was just a few days away and I had a plan.

    In the early morning as the sun rose I dragged the sign into place in front of the gas station, it reads.

    Shop at Kwik-E-Mart. I need to feed the octuplets.
    Squishy half price today only



    I waited that morning in the diner and listened to the regulars who had all seemed to notice the sign this morning. While it was lost on a few of the locals, most of them picked up on the Simpson’s reference.

    That night when I drove by the sign it was still up. Hari had a sense of humor.

    Early the next morning I was at it again, this time it was.

    Ban pre-shredded cheese
    Make America
    Grate again.


    That day, the buzz in the diner was all about the sign at the gas station.

    The following morning, I made my final offering.

    If attacked by a mob of clowns
    Go for the Juggler


    At noon that day I stopped for gas. The place was packed. The locals must have figured that even though Hari and his family looked different, maybe they had more in common than they thought.


    I smiled as I place my little box of letters on the counter and pushed them toward him. As I left that afternoon, I knew that the gas station would be profitable and a success.

    Hari smiled back and without pause said,
    “Thank you, come again.”
    God hates a coward Revelation 21:8

    “Good writin' ain't necessarily good readin'.”

    Ken Kesey,

    To encourage and facilitate "me"

  5. #5
    Global Moderator H.Brown's Avatar
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    I should have listened.

    I should have listened.

    You can hear his horse voice, echoing behind you as you walk away. Everyone knows that one crazy fool, shouting about the end of the world, that is always just around the corner. You chuckle and mutter "crazy fool" under your breath, walking a little faster. But what if, just what if that gas station prophet was right?

    It was a dismal day when I passed Crazy Carl, screaming his usual message and shaking his cardboard sign. "The end is nigh!" He shouts at me as I pass already shaking my head.

    "Whatever Carl." I answer without thinking and walk on leaving him behind, fast. I pass him every morning on my way to work and today was not the day to humor him. I was late to my meeting and had missed my bus. I was cold and the wind had picked up blowing the protective curls from my ears and biting any inch of exposed flesh as I shivered in my thin jacket.

    Glancing at the darkening sky I wince as I remember my brolly sitting near the door at home. My thin ballet flats slap against the pavement as I hurry towards the office. I'm almost running as I see the grey building looming ahead and thunder rumbles through the air.

    I appologise my way through my morning meeting and yawn through lunch (regretting my late night,) and I'm wondering what to have for tea by four o'clock. Bored I look to the window for the millionth time hating the constant rain that streaming down the pane. Frowning I glance around wondering what everyone else is typing, when I hear it.

    A high pitch wistle that makes us all flinch in our seats and look at one another. Confussed I wonder to the window to find the source of the alarm, thinking it was comming from the building across the street. As the seconds tick by it gains in pitch, becoming painful to not have my hands clamped on my ears.

    Panic is sweeping the office now, as I stand frozen, watching the people below stare at the dark sky. I try to see what they see but can only see more building. I look for Sue my only friend in this dismal workplace but she'd not at her desk. Our collegues are streaming towards the fire exit sign and I let them drag me along, in a confussed daze.

    We're all packed in tight, in the grey concrete stairwell when the bang explodes through the air and we scream as the ceiling caves in towards our heads. i duck, flinging my arms over my hear in terror as i shake in ball, waiting for the pain and death.

    Nothing!

    I can hear poeple moaning and groaning around me, but can see nothing through the dust. I'm scared as i realise Crazy Carl was right and the end was nigh. I should have listened, I scream in my head as I cry surrounded by two tons of concrete and wishing I'd heeded the crazy gas station prophet from Baker Street corner.
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  6. #6

    False Prophet

    Thick rain-drops slowly pattered against the plastic hull of the kayak. The irregular beat and disruptive coldness of each drop frustrated the man as he rhythmically dipped each end of the paddle into the murky tannin-stained waters of the bayou. Every few seconds a stroke of the paddle left a violent vortex in the water and produced a throaty swoosh. The kayak was slowly propelled further from the pine-forested shore and closer to the twin concrete bridges ahead.

    Low-lying rain clouds darkened the sky and deepened the shadows under the bridges. The quarter-mile stretch of concrete that spanned the bayou was gloomier than its usual.

    “Just another minute and I’ll be out of the rain.” The kayaker mentally chanted this mantra of determination as he paddled.

    Finally approaching the bridges, he stopped paddling, leaned back and let momentum carry the kayak under the paralleled-twins that loomed twenty feet overhead. Multiple concrete spans bore the weight of the bridges above, and below they disappeared into the fathoms of brownish-red water.

    He was out of the rain, but still outside. The cacophony of the rain drops and water rushing from the bridge’s drain-pipes was loud and enveloping, but now it was calming, and almost musical. The man in the kayak decided against turning on his cell-phone to play music. Instead, he reached back to secure one of the two fishing poles sitting in the rod-holders behind him.

    A white plastic bucket of water with live shrimp sat inside the kayak in-between the man’s legs. Earlier at the gas station, the cashier had seemed upset that she had to manually scoop the shrimp out of the stinking tank.

    “You shouldn’t be out there. Not worth it today.” She had told the fisherman as she placed his shrimp bucket on the counter.

    The man plucked a twitchy shrimp out of the bucket and pierced its tail-end with the fishing hook. The kayak had drifted within arm’s reach of a concrete column. He released the baited fish-hook into the water right next to the column. The shrimp gave a few twitches as the lead weight on the fishing line forced a rapid descent down along the oyster-covered column. Within seconds, the man could only see his fishing line descending into the turbid water as the shrimp sunk towards the bayou bottom. After a couple moments the line stopped. The fisherman began the experimental ritual of rod twitching. Up once, halfway down, sit for a second, up and down twice rapidly. And so on, with variations.

    After a minute the man tucked the rod between his legs as he reached into his dry-bag to extract a cigarette and light it.

    He was not frustrated… yet.

    This was a preemptive smoke that he figured was needed on a day like this. He took the first puff and felt the lightness in his head with a soothing of his nerves. Simultaneously, he went to stow the lighter in the dry-bag, and thought he felt the rod twitch. Figuring that he must have bumped it or lost grip with his legs, he continued closing and stowing the dry-bag. He twisted in his seat and stretched to the fullest. Grunting with a cigarette in his lips, smoke rising into his burning eyes, he placed the dry-bag under the bungee cords behind him.

    SSSPPPPZZzzzzzzzzzz! The fishing rod between his legs suddenly jerked as the tip of the rod bent sharply, reaching toward the water. A fish was hooked and racing away from the kayak, pulling line off the fishing reel as it forcefully swam away at the worst moment.

    Regaining composure, the fisherman secured the rod and played the fish to the surface over the next five minutes and finally saw the golden-red hues of massive red drum fish.

    Carefully, he pulled the fish into the kayak and gave an exasperated, “WOOOHOOoooO!”

    He thought to himself, it was worth it.
    Last edited by AphoticN; June 11th, 2018 at 06:41 AM. Reason: error with title
    -AphoticN

  7. #7
    Member DeClarke's Avatar
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    The Seventh

    THE SEVENTH



    The heavens, once blessed with a clear blue had been robbed of its vitality. The optimistic and early summer day had been taken away, and this brought the towns peoples’ curious sets of brown, green and hazel eyes to the sky. The sparse clouds were not happy with this abrupt change, but at this moment, they were not bound by the will of mother nature. They were under the control of something much more powerful. And this omnipresence exercised that almighty will, forcing them to swirl about the now darkened heavens until a small opening had formed in the center.

    From this opening, there were armies of them, all fitted in white armor which covered their whole body. Upon their heads were golden helmets, and attached to the top of each side were white feathers. In their hands were golden hilts but it was not fortified with any steel blade, instead, a white light extended from the base, and up three feet. Their eyes were filled with fire. Their wings extended four feet from each side, and they flapped furiously against the wind to keep them stabilized.

    The time had come. They all denied it but sitting in that cardboard box outside the gas station was Azazel, and he did not. His hand combed through his disheveled shoulder-length hair in a sporadic manner. His clothing was of the cheapest quality, and was burdened with a few tears at the shoulder, and one by the upper thigh. His hands were dirty and oil-stained from his constant offers to repair the car that needed refueling.

    When fortune allowed him the pleasure of fixing the random driver’s car, he would delight in it, for it gave him time to tell them of the impending judgment. The passengers never offered their concerns in what he had to say. Their eyes was fixed upon their smart phone, checking the latest celebrity news, or the recent trend in the fashion industry. He told them the angels would descend upon them and they would judge those who had closed their hearts to the creator, but the glaring screen of the blackberry was too enchanting for some. The ones who did not submit to the distracting nature of the smart phone, responded to his warnings with half-curious and elevated eyebrows. Soon, a dismissive smirk followed, and some even played along with him, offering patronizing gestures and tossing him a few dollars for his work.

    But those who ignored his warnings; the regular patrons who reveled in their mockery had now gathered in the street across from that very gas station, and their gazes were arrested by the screeching roars from the heavens. The high pitched sound was layered with a low rumbling, giving the observer that gut wrenching feeling one gets when they know the ominous is soon to visit their doorstep. Fingers pointed to the skies and the townspeople cried out in fear. A few of them turned to the homely man who had crawled outside his box with jerky and frantic motions. He managed to stand to his feet, and when he had done so, walked to the crowd. He pointed his free hand out to them, while the other scratched at his cheek with the kind of jittery rhythm akin to a drug addict.

    “They –s—s—said… I”
    “But. --- The seventh--- the seventh is here!”
    “Lord, I tried-I tried, I tried! Lord forgive them,” said Azazel, his palms joining together and his head lifting to the skies.

    And in this moment, the ground below the townspeople rumbled; the yellow dashes upon the concrete distorted and opened, sending the unjust into the scorching fire.
    Azazel dropped to his knees, his palms against the ground that had been untouched by hell’s fire, and he said,
    “The seventh seal has been opened. It is done.”
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  8. #8

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