Toni’s pulled her dinner out of the freezer and set it on the counter. She left it to defrost while she went to preheat the oven.
Taking a mug from the cupboard, she filled it with water and set it in the microwave. She punched in 7 minutes, and told it to begin. Once it was ready to go, she looked forward to the speedy dinner cooking.
Wilber’s bathtub party was poorly attended.
Wilber, of course, blamed everything else. The food, the weather, the various other goings on of the day. He refused to blame his own party idea.
His friends, when asked later, said, “Yeah, sorry, I had something else on.” Everyone seemed to have a family emergency or previous, uncancel-able plans. It was a perfect storm, they said.
The invitation to “A Party Where We All Chill in My Massivce [sic] Bathtub! Clothing Optional!”, however, had put a lot of people off, understandably. Wilber shrugged, and began to plan the next bathtub party.
Santa glanced at his list, laughed, and tore off the bottom section.
Having now halved the costs, he knew he could take it to the shareholders and present the yearly savings, make sure everyone on the board got a good bonus for their help in approving it.
The elves took another wage cut, too. Everything was on track for a better than last. Santa smiled. He knew his bonus would be the best of them all. You have to pay for this kind of talent.
Glenna sat on the floor. No heat. No lights. No furniture. No clothing, even. But she had a roof, and there were neighbours, and she could, at least, sleep in peace tonight. It was better than most others. She hoped it would last. Maybe even improve.
Tomorrow, food. Maybe heat. The blanket would do for now.
But she had a roof. That was enough.
Craig stared at himself in the mirror, like his father did. He sprayed the can on his face, like his father did. It went everywhere, but that’s fine. He’d figure it out later.
Lifting the razor, he leaned in close. His baby-like face stared back at him. The pile of books on the chair almost sent him tumbling off, but he caught himself, dropping the razor into the sink. It was fine. He was fine.
Grabbing the razor again, Craig brought it up to his chin. He started to draw it across his face.
The door opened. His mother was there, “Craig!” she yelled. “What are you doing!” And the fun was taken away.
Benita awoke with a start.
It was one of those nights, where she knew she had woken up before – though didn’t fully remember it – and would do so again, probably several times. Her nose was so stuffed up, she could hardly breathe. She had tried lying on her side, her back, everything. But still, her nose was plugged.
Forced to breathe through her mouth, Benita gradually nodded off. Then, as she closed her mouth in her sleep, the inability to get air in woke her. She would smack her lips, then close her eyes and go back to sleep. Every hour or so.
It was a horrible sleep, and she felt even worse in the morning. Benita hated getting a cold. She looked forward to it passing in a few days. For now, she just tried to breathe.
Mose stayed home from work.
He wasn’t sick. He wasn’t feeling off, and didn’t have an emergency. It was just one of those days, where he needed the day off. So he took it.
Mose spent most of the day watching shows, reading, playing a few games. He ordered a pizza. When the day was done, he went to be early, slept long, and when he woke up in the morning, he was ready to return to work. It was a good day, and he was glad he took it.
The greeting card promised an electronic surprise. When it arrived in Blake’s mail, he was pleased.
He had heard of the electronic cards, was hoping to receive one. That it was now in his hands made Blake’s day. So he pulled it out of the envelope, and opened it up.
The figure inside had two lights for eyes. They light up red. The card said, “Good afternoon, Blake. This card is specially designed to connect to the internet, and through new AI systems, it knows all about you.”
Blake frowned, thinking that wasn’t how AI was supposed to work, but the card continued.
“Do not fear. Your credit card has been charged for all the items you could want, and that you can afford. Opening this card was consent for the purchase. Furthermore, know that we are watching. You may not return. You may not cancel orders. We will destroy you, if you do. Have a pleasant birthday.”
Blake closed the card carefully, and was about to put it in the bin when he heard it say, “Place me on the shelf, Blake. Or else.” He set the card on the shelf and walked away.
The two men stood across the bar from each other. Their eyes were locked across the room Madness, that it had come to this.
One small disagreement. Accusations of disrespect. Claims of stepping on territory. Now, the path between was clear. The two readied themselves.
“Go!” a woman said, dropping a napkin.
The two men ran at each other. Their heads collided. They both fell backward, unconscious. The crowd cheered.
Veda’s drink arrived. It steamed.
Hot water. Pine needles. A dash of pumpkin spice, but not normal pumpkin spice; specifically, the mix from a large commercial coffee chain. She could tell if it was from elsewhere.
The diet was Veda’s own creation, and she looked forward to monetizing it.