Downtime Stories

Short stories for when you have time for a short story.

Saturday Night, De de dooo de dooo de de

“I can say unequivocally and without a shadow of a doubt that I am indeed sitting in my own living room. This is my television and these are my Doritos. Yes I’m naked, but why not? It’s my house! And the fact that you two are just stood there, staring at me, you sir looking angry, and you madam crying is making the whole situation feel quite odd.”

The middle-aged couple didn’t say anything. They just kept staring.

What could they say? At first they’d screamed in fear upon getting home and finding the naked man on their couch, watching Buffy and eating Doritos.

The man had yelled, the woman had yelled.

They’d threatened to call the police, and they’d asked nicely but nothing would make the intruder budge.

They’d even started bringing over different pictures of their friends and family they had framed around the room, but to no avail.

“A trick” the man had screamed, whilst looking at a picture of the middle aged couple’s trip to Disneyland.

“A particularly cunning trick in which you have clearly broken into my house previously and removed any pictures of myself and replaced them with you two individuals. A cunning trick indeed. I will be reporting this to the police and demanding all my pictures be returned.”

“We’re not burglars” the middle aged woman replied, her voice shaking.

“Well that’s what you would say isn’t it. And if I’m being honest with you it might seem like the truth, had it not been for the fact that I can’t remember what I was doing before I was here, and where any of my clothes are. What have you cunning con artists done with them?”

“We haven’t done anything… And I don’t want to sound rude but you do seem quite drunk, so maybe that has something to do with you not remembering?”

“You could be right. I do feel quite drunk. But that doesn’t explain why I’m naked and you’re here staring at me.”

“Well the thing is, it might actually.”

When the man didn’t say anything the woman continued drawing confidence from the fact that the he appeared to  be seeing some reason.

“We actually recognise you, you’re the young man from 15. It’s the apartment next door. Sometimes we hear you screaming things at 3am.”

“Screaming things, what sort of things?”

“Well, there was the time it seemed you thought you were in Harry Potter and were screaming ACCIO followed by different objects around your house. That was a Sunday night, I remember because I kept falling asleep at work on Monday… it was a bit hard to sleep you see.”

And then there was the night you had some of your friends back and listened to that ABBA song on repeat for 3 hours. We were actually quite impressed that you managed to keep listening to it for so long.”

“And then there was another time when you were on your roof screaming “I’m the cherry on top, the sweet, sweet little cherry on top of the cake.” But you got down that time because the police came and sprayed you with that hose.”

“Ahh.… well that does sound like me…”

The man paused for a moment, thinking.

“Your house did you say? Well I’m terribly sorry, would you mind pointing me in the direction of my clothes? I’ll get out of your hair.”

The next day the young man walked out of number 15 and the middle aged couple from next door smiled and waved at him.

“They’re nice.” he thought. “People in London don’t say hi to strangers enough.”

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The Microwave Conundrum

Time goes slower when you’re waiting for a microwave.

That’s why I always take a microwave with me when I do something really important or really fun.

I first noticed this theory when I was at work in the kitchens. There was a man in there waiting. He had 1: 16 on the microwave to go so I thought I’d wait. Surely we could make small talk for that long.

I smiled reassuringly as if to say, we can do this. We’re two guys that must have something in common, we do the same job for fucks sake.

He on the other hand seemed a bit nervous. Looking back now it must be because he knew about the microwave conundrum.

How’s your day going I ventured.

He paused for what a person that was not near a microwave would say was about 30 seconds.

Oh fine he said, with a look of desperation which I now know is because I was moving too fast, way too fast, not respecting the laws and times of the microwave conversation.

I looked back at the clock. 1:15. I couldn’t believe it, surely 30 seconds had just passed.

We continued talking while I did some calculations.

Much on for the weekend?

Another 30 second pause

Y E S   M Y   W I F E   I S   H A V I N G   A   B B Q 

Why was he speaking so slowly?

I looked back at the time. 1:14, and I understood. It seemed that for every 1 microwave second it was 30 seconds in real time.

That meant me and this man were going to have to get through another 2,220 seconds. That’s 37 minutes of conversation, or risk losing my place in the microwave line.

And then another horror thought struck. Once my food is in someone else will come along and wait for their turn. Another potential half an hour.

We pushed through, and 37 minutes later we finished, dishevelled, stressed, my hair falling out and my phone out of battery from opening as many apps as possible to pass the time. I closed with

H O P E F U L L Y   T H E   W E A T H E R   H O L D S  F O R    T H E   B B Q

Bing, we were done, it was horrible, but it opened my eyes up to the possibility, the new power at my finger tips.

That’s why now I always do anything really important while I’m next to a microwave.

Toasters work too, but they can be a bit unpredictable. Microwaves are definitely the best bet, because you get an accurate formula on how much time you have.1:30

I used to microwave all the time. In the morning when I woke up to get a few extra minutes sleep, on the weekends, in the bath.

You know I spent the first night with my wife next to a microwave? The most special day of my life, which I didn’t want to end. I set the timer for 24 hours and we just lived, and God it felt like the perfect bit of forever.

I noticed that I was aging faster than everyone around me. I went to a doctor and he calculated that I was now 36 when I should have been 30. And that I’d greatly increased my risk of cancer from all the radiation. It’s tough, you know? It’s like I’ve found this amazing gift but it’s slowly killing me.

Now I use it sparingly. I have a young daughter so sometimes I get the microwave out over family holidays just to relish the time I have.

To everyone else I’ve lost a lot of years from my life, but I’m not sad, you know? Because you know what they say, a life lived next to a microwave is a life well lived.

The Great Australian Camel Threat – A thriving hair trade or total warfare?

Somewhere in Canberra there is a government department dedicated to coming up with solutions to basically any conceivable problem or national threat that could happen. Anything.

It’s called the Crisis Co-ordination Centre and provides whole-of-government situational awareness to inform national decision-making during a crisis.

They sit there and brainstorm a threat, and then solve it, just in case it happens, so we are ready.

(I feel it’s important to note that this department also comes with a caterer.  I met her once. It seems the Australian government too is also aware of the universal truth, that no strong solution can be created on an empty stomach.)

I imagine the department works something like this:

“OK Paul, this week it’s your turn, what’s the threat?”

“Erm aliens invade?”

Aliens invade – we’ll do this. Aliens with grenade launcher hands – hmm a bit tricky, maybe this will work? Aliens with grenade launcher hands with impenetrable armour and strobe light eye blinding crotches– we’re ready. All because Paul and the guys sat there figuring out exactly what to do, and because their caterer made sure they had sandwiches.

It’s also important to consider why most don’t know about this team, and why these plans are not often released to the public.

One popular theory is because I’m making most of this up.

Another, possibly weaker in facts, is because most of the solutions to different problems probably include Paul pressing a red button that encompasses Canberra in a protective dome so that he, his colleagues, his family and his caterer live long happy lives inside the dome whilst the rest of us are mercilessly killed by aliens with flashy crotches, but that’s probably why they’re not released, so no harm no foul. Amirite Paul?

There’s a problem that I think we all need to know is being addressed.

What’s the plan for when the wild camels of Australia unite and overthrow the current Australian government.

I was recently told that there are twice as many camels in Australia as there are people.

This came as quite a shock to me having never seen evidence of it. Sure I’ve seen the odd camel parading around Rye foreshore after a break from the carnival. And yeah I know they are associated with deserts, which we in Australia have plenty of,  but still you’d think we’d be aware of their masses and their potential revolutionary tendencies.

It’s the very fact that I haven’t seen them around that makes me think that they’re up to something worthy of investigation by the Crisis Coordination Centre.

If they were living normal lives, commuting into work like me, spending time with their families in parks, Barbecuing, enjoying Australia’s unhealthy and semi racist attitude to sport then maybe I wouldn’t suspect as much, but it seems to me they’ve gone underground… It seems to me that they might be different to us, and growing in numbers at what I can only imagine is a dangerous rate.

It’s for that reason in my completely uneducated opinion that our current peace can only last so long. So we have to do something about it, and the way I see it we have two options.

We send out a peace convoy offering the straw of friendship, we set up trading agreements with them stating they trade milk, meat, some of their hair, transport in their pouches etc. and see how they respond. Perhaps they could tell us why they have two humps? What’s inside their humps…Perhaps we can build a bright new future together?

Or total and unrelenting warfare. The war to end all wars, we spare no expense, and no camel survives to continue the line of camels that may one day seek revenge.

I pay my taxes (I think?) and I hope that pays the Crisis Co-ordination Centre to look out for me here  and make sure we’re ready for the above courses of action.

camel war

Things

Things.

Feat some words from @erikageraerts

There are so many great things. Great. Things.

Things that when you notice said great things, you can’t help but stop and just say, holy shit. THAT. THING.

Yes, for every great thing there’s a bad thing. But for all the bad things that happen: horrible stories, horrible people, horrible news shoved down our throats, there are things that just flaw you with their simple, great beauty.

Nils Frahm. Nils Frahm- You... You started this thing.

Feelings.

Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Douglas Adams. Remember this sentence? “There were about three other customers in the place, sitting at tables, nursing beers. About three. Some people would say there were exactly three, but it wasn’t that kind of a place, not the kind of a place you felt like being that specific in.” Oh man. Thing !

Kissing people. Kissing someone you like. The smile you get after it happens. It’s a little hidden but it’s yours, you know? It’s your thing.

Her freckles. + + +

Simple, really great things that can happen. That aren’t connected, and that don’t quite mean a thing.

Old buildings.

Quiet.

People rushing around a city.

The smell of coffee. What the hell are you meant to do when you smell that?

Piano. Listening to someone play that thing. Have you had much of that? My mother is a pianist so that’s just normal for me, but when you just stop and that thing that makes noises just from someone’s fingers hitting small wooden pieces and it is floating through you wherever you are and it’s almost. too. much. That thing that makes noises.

Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s hard not to get caught up and carried away. Don’t you think?

Tea. Making a cup every night that you won’t drink, but instead that will sit at your feet, waiting to be the optimal temperature, before you forget about it and the moment is gone. Leaving 3/4 filled tea cups all around your apartment.

The whole Count of Monte Cristo thing.

Just books in general.

I’m just trying to say books.

The feeling you get when you know you should be going to sleep but that book thing is just too good. And you’re falling asleep rereading that one sentence that you keep falling asleep over, willing yourself to finish the page even if it takes you the rest of the night. “All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope”. Well played Dumas, well played indeed.

Steak.

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The Day I Accidentally Proposed

OK so this is a tough one to write about.

Have you ever lied about something by mistake and then sort of just had to go with it?

No? Well that’s lucky. I have.

It’s because of a freak accident. A series of events that culminated in something too hard to take back.

It turned into me accidentally proposing to my girlfriend, now wife. Well sort of wife. We’re separated.

You’re probably wondering how you can accidentally propose. Well I’m going to tell you, and without a word of lie this is what happened.

I had been with Rachel for 3 years. We didn’t live together yet, but I was seriously considering asking her to move in. We already spent most nights with each other and were forking out money for rent on two places, and that seemed silly.

Things with us were good, and yeah it wasn’t exciting all of the time, but it was good. You know what I mean? The sort of good where you spend 90% of the time thinking about what you guys will do the following weekend, and 10% wondering whether you still had it, and could pull the pretty bar tender serving you beers.

Rachel hadn’t explicitly mentioned that she wanted to get married and we’d never had a serious conversation about it. At 25 it’s not something you think about too often, but I did know that she idolized her parents relationship and they had married early. They were one of those weird couples that are so in love that they fall asleep together every night on the couch watching TV, and are completely content you know?

So how did I end up accidentally proposing?

We were out for lunch. We were eating on Collins Street, the Paris end which is a wanky way to allude to the fact that there are some expensive clothing and jewelry shops up there. Rachel worked at 101 Collins at that point, and we would often have our lunch breaks together.

It was a beautiful day so we were sitting outside at a table on the street. The sun was shining and we were having a nice time. We’d just been talking about how we actually met at a bar on Collins Street after work one night. We were sitting about 100 meters from where it had all began.

It was just a normal lunch, a normal day. And here’s where the freak accident happened.

Now I know parts of this story because I found out afterwards, from the other guy that was involved. We pieced it together sitting dumb struck at a bar a few nights later after exchanging details when the smoke had cleared.

He was walking down Collins Street. He had a hop in his step and was smiling. He’d just picked out an engagement ring for his girlfriend. He was ready, they were ready. He’d been working up to this point for months, he’d asked her father, taken her sister ring shopping for advice, stolen one of her rings to make sure it would fit and they were flying to Noosa the next week. He had just picked up the ring.

He just kept getting it out and looking at it and smiling. Pulling it in and out of his pocket and admiring it. As he got it out a man bumped into him and he lost site and control of the ring, and it, and the box it was in dropped to the ground.

It landed right next to my foot, and I bent down to get it.

“Hey” I called out to him trying to get his attention to let him know where it landed.

But it wasn’t only his attention that I got. Rachel turned around too. She turned around to see me, holding a beautiful engagement ring looking between her and something off in the distance, off in the direction of the bar that we first met 3 years ago. And she burst into tears.

“I…” I said… I couldn’t say anything. I was looking between her, and the guy standing on the street who was taking in the scene, me seemingly proposing to my girlfriend with his ring.

He was looking between us as though about to say something but didn’t. He was looking at Rachel crying with her hands over her mouth and understood what had happened.

My mouth was open, his mouth was open, and he sort of shrugged in a what the fuck can we do sort of way.

And then my attention turned back to Rachel.

“Yes” she screamed and the tables around us started clapping. The waiter brought out Champagne, the guy walked over and shook my hand and said congratulations, slipping me his business card. The rest I hardly remember, it was phone calls, and Rachel putting photos on Instagram, it was my parents calling, it was her parents calling.

A few days later I was sitting in a bar with the guy, his name is James and he was informing me that I owed him $10K. I told him I’d need a bit of time, and he was really cool about it. I actually ended up inviting him to the wedding, we’re still mates. His marriage is still in tact.

Anyway, that was years ago. Recently Rachel and I were having some problems. She suggested marriage counseling and they said it was a safe, open environment where you can share anything. I shared that story… It wasn’t a safe environment.

As I said I’m separated. We’re working it out, but it seems even white lies can cause massive issues.

Anyway, life can be funny sometimes. Thanks for listening.

Code Names

A normal everyday story can be made a lot more exciting when people’s names are swapped out for code names.

I was talking to my friends Sam and Rob. I think they’re real cool guys, and I think they’re very funny. The other night we gave each other code names… Well Rob didn’t really, he was in bed because he’s in New York so the time difference meant when he woke up he had a code name, which in its own small way is quite an achievement.

He went to bed as a normal guy from NZ, trying to make his way in a big bad city, and woke up with a code name.

Anyway, to prove my point, first I’m going to tell a really normal, everyday story, and then I’m going to re-tell it with the code names, so we can see which one is more interesting.

Melbourne, August 2013 – A cold winter’s day

Rob Dickens and Sam Knowles approached Burke Street, walking past the various car parks, graffiti filled walls and cafes.

The morning haze was wet with mist that moistened Sam Knowles’ hair, his top knot hanging to the side.

They were on their way to meet David Toussaint at Kiss and Fly, the place they deemed the best coffee, within a reasonable walking distance to their office.

On their way Rob Dickens was telling a story about a girl he’d met over the weekend.

She had skin like milk that the Gods would drink, you know? You know when their skin is like that?”

Sam knew. He knew it well.

At that moment a guy from work that they didn’t like that much walked past. He got Rob stuck in a pretty boring conversation.

Sam was worried, it didn’t look like they were going to get their coffee any time soon, but then David arrived and said Hey, we’d better get our coffee now.

You know, just that usual Monday stuff.

Now, to make that boring Monday story a bit more interesting using code names. Last night we decided that our code names were:

Rob Dickens = Rip Dickens

Sam Knowles = Thor Hardcock

David Toussaint = Tyson Iron-Thighs

Melbourne, August 2013 – A cold winter’s day

Rip Dickens and Thor Hardcock approached Burke Street, walking past the various car parks, graffiti filled walls and cafes.

The morning haze wet with mist that moistened Hardcock’s hair, his top knot hanging to the side.

They were on their way to meet Tyson Iron-Thighs at Kiss and Fly, the place they deemed the best coffee, within a reasonable walking distance to their office.

On their way Rip Dickens was telling a story about a girl he’d met over the weekend.

She had skin like milk that the Gods would drink, you know? You know when their skin is like that?”

Thor knew. He knew it well.

At that moment the evil sewerage people of Melbourne ascended from their underground lairs. 50 of them, 7 ft tall with dark eyes holding metal pipes that they’d fashioned into weapons of death.

Rip Dickens and Thor Hardcock were surrounded. They started to fight their way out but there were too many of them. One grabbed Rip in a sleeper hold, he couldn’t breathe. Thor tried to make his way over to him, fighting off the sewer people as he went but they over powered him, it was over, they were going to die there alone, to be dragged down into the sewers and have their bodies used as sex vessels for the sewer people’s sick pleasure.

But no, just when they thought all hope was gone, Tyson Iron-Thighs flew in from the roof of a car park “Let go of my friends” he said, in that way that people say things in Hollywood, when the camera zooms into their face.

He fought them all off, they started fleeing. “Not so fast” he said in that Hollywood way, and totally did something cool and killed them all.

It was over, they were saved, and they went and got coffee and went back to work.

You know, just that usual Monday stuff.

See what I mean? Code names are cool. If you think you’re name is boring why not try a code name? Sign off an email to a colleague with it and you’ll see the difference.

Good luck everybody.

sewer

Just Add Chorizo

Now this might be difficult for some of you to understand because it’s quite a complex theory.

All I’ll say is if you don’t understand don’t worry.

So it’s a cook book. And it’s called Just Add Chorizo. Do you follow so far? Maybe I’m not explaining it right.

It’s got recipes,You know? Ingredients and things. All the components to make up a delicious meal just like normal. But not quite, here is where it gets interesting. At the end of every recipe, it says Just Add Chorizo. Probably in really bold, red pen. Maybe even circled or something. Nothing is finalised yet.

So picture this. You’re making something, and you’re nearly done, you’ve followed all the steps and you’re pretty excited. You wipe the sweat away from your brow and look for that final instruction from the book, and bam, there it is. Just Add Chorizo. So you do, you just fucking add it and boom, the meal is better than you could ever imagine.

I think it’s a good idea, because as we’re all aware, Chorizo is delicious. It takes your meal from a meal which has no Chorizo, to a meal that has Chorizo in it. You know? That’s the cool thing.

And the clever part, this is the part I like, and why I think it will sell. You know how clever things sell? The clever part is that the name of the book is Just Add Chorizo, and what you do with the recipes is Just Add Chorizo. Just add chorizo man.

And like a person eating something with Chorizo in it, the idea is unable to stop. I think it could be a television program. Or perhaps an internet television program, because people aren’t watching as much television you know? Maybe Netflix or something. And you have the audience, they’re sitting their in the studio watching the chef, but they’re confused because the room doesn’t smell like Chorizo yet, but it’s OK, because the chef adds the Chorizo last, just like in the book. And when he does it, the audience are relieved. Hugely relieved, and they all chant Just Add Chorizo and smile, and hug and high five, and they go home happy.

It’s nice. It’s a good thing.

Do you get it? Don’t worry if you don’t get it, you will eventually.

And if you don’t eat meat don’t worry either. Their is one for vegetarians too. It’s called just add Hummus, and it’s for vegetarians. But let’s focus on understanding the Chorizo one first.

Chorizo.

KGP_Recipe_Card

Hats

rainier-snowyriver

Hats.

You can tell a lot about a person by how impressive their hat collection is.

For me the larger the hat, the more impressive the person. I think if it’s so large that it becomes difficult for them to get through doors then they’ve basically won. Won what? Well they’ve won the hat game, the game of life.

I think if someone has their hat game sorted, one can infer that the rest of their life must be quite sorted too. Isn’t the hat the last thing you buy to complete an outfit? It’s the towel to a hitchhiker (Thank you Douglas). If someone has their hat game sorted it’s because the rest of their wardrobe is too. And if their wardrobe is, their job is. And if they’re together enough to get a job, then they’re together enough to fit into society.

The logic is there.

If someone came into a meeting with me at work, and had to be 15 minutes late because they couldn’t get through the door due to their large hat, then I would automatically submit to their demands. Like a dog bowing down to the alpha, the fact that I got to the meeting on time because my hat fits through the door means my opinion should count for less.

And this does not suggest that we should all go out and buy large hats and have competitions to not get through doors. This wouldn’t work. Society would crumble under the weight of all our hats. It would be chaos, cars crashing, people blowing away in the wind. It suggests we should just keep chipping away as we are, collecting hats as and when we deserve them, hoping to one day have the biggest hat in the hat store.

That’s what it’s all about really.

Notable people that have worn hats:

Pharell Williams: In 2014 notably baby faced singer songwriter Pharrell Williams was awarded a large hat for his years of dedication to the global music industry, and generally looking quite young for a 40 year old

The Man From Snowy River: The man from snowy river was known to wear quite a large hat which came in handy when trying to keep balanced when riding down steep mountains,.

The Queen of bloody England: The Queen of bloody England has been seen from time to time wearing a fancy hat with jewels on it, known as a crown in special situations, and is referred to as Late Lizzy because she simply can’t get through any doors.

Indiana Jones: Duh

For more information on hats, visit http://www.hats.com, or just ask a complete stranger.

Stop Animal Abuse

All throughout history there have been horrific cases of mankind’s cruelty to animals, but no category of animals has suffered more under man’s oppression than the noble, yet tragic Pokemon.

So much so that the popular tag line associated with these once free and majestic creatures is now “Gotta catch them all.”

However society has pushed forward, not only content with catching them anymore, but now making them fight, to do vicious battle against one another for man’s own gain.

The Oxford dictionary defines a Prison as a building to which people are legally committed as a punishment for a crime. If only Pokemon were so lucky. The modern day Pokemon would most likely see a prison, or even a building as a five star holiday compared to the small, spherical Pokeballs in which they are confined for more than 23 hours of the day. And for no crime other than being what they are.

Ethologists have made predictions that our treatment of the Pokemon will cause a fundamental shift in the species, perhaps causing irreversible effects that will more than likely lead to their extension. Yet nothing is being done.

A simple look into the nature of Pokemon shows us that they once lived in harmony, with Grass, Water & Fire Pokemon working collaboratively for the greater good of the whole species. Today however their numbers have more than halved, and their relationship now resembles more that of a United States maximum security prison yard, split by “type” and controlled by the will of others.

It’s unknown just who or what will bring about the change required to save this species, but we do know it requires a large cultural shift. Away from catching them, away from making them fight, and away from glorifying those most responsible for this, the famous trainers like Ash, Misty & Brock who have made their living and fortunes off this horrible practice.

And we need to do it before it’s too late.

sad-pikachu

Hi Hello yes, God?

Go for God

Hi Hello yes, God?

You got it

Oh really? It’s just that I’ve been on hold for a really long time I was about to hang up.

Sorry about that. It’s pretty busy you know? Especially on Sundays.

Yes I can imagine… That’s actually sort of why I’m calling. I’m feeling a bit existential

Big weekend pal?

Yes… It sort of got a bit out of hand. And it’s just, like, I’m going to be OK right? Like really OK? I’m not going to die or anything am I? I’ve felt a bit like I’m going to die today. Sort of like I can’t take a deep breath and that my body could just shut down at any second. It’s causing me a bit of anxiety actually.

Hey, guy, relax! You’re going to be fine. Well eventually you’re not going to be fine and you’re going to die, but not today. I don’t have you on my list for today, so take it easy my friend. 

Phew. I mean, I didn’t think so, really, but you never can be sure can you and jeez, it could just be the weekend I had but I was actually worried for a minute there. Silly of me!

Well yeah maybe a little bit silly of you, but seriously just take some time off the marching powder you know?  You know that stuff is no good for you, gets you all out of whack with the world. And the packet of noodles you had for dinner? That really didn’t do you any favours. Eat healthy this week exercise laugh more for fucks sake. We’ve got this… Just calm your farm a little you know? Settle your fish my special friend.

You’re right God. Thanks, I appreciate the time – really. And I’m not going to do anything big this weekend. Like you say, just settle my fish a little, maybe stay in, read a book, visit the country side or something?

Well… Do your best. All good my friend.. 10 out of 10 for effort, but try a little harder next weekend. Oh and just to let you know I’m off next Sunday so you might want to organize a different friend to check in on you. 

Toodles.

 god-04

Click.

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