• 101
    Best Websites
    for Writers

    Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and get the 101 Best Websites for Writers download.

The Robert Syndrome

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You wake up in—wait this isn’t your room. Confused you step to the mirror and see that you’re famous actor Robert Downey Jr. How did you get here and what do you do?

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

Want more creative writing prompts? Consider:

You might also like:

  • Print Circulation Form

    Did you love this article? Subscribe Today & Save 58%

621 Responses to The Robert Syndrome

  1. Lexicomical says:

    “Goooooood morning San Diego! I’ll give you sleepy heads a few minutes to wake up before our honored Grammy award winning guest joins us for an exclusive interv-” *Bam* I abruptly slapped the top of my blaring retro 80′s alarm clock nearly sending it plummeting over the edge of my bedside nightstand. I follow this arduous routine every morning, apart from most Friday’s and Saturday’s, but this time it was peculiarly different. Something was slightly off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. That’s when it dawned on me. My radio clock had been tuned to some random hip-hop station instead of my usual new age rock alternative. Eh, no big deal. I must have changed it in my drunken stupor the night before. With my eyes tightly sealed by the crusty gunk blinding my vision, I quickly brushed it off and mustered up the energy to lift my drained body out of bed.
    I swung each leg, one after the other, through the tightly tucked covers and landed my feet gently into the comfort of my fluffy slippers on the floor below. The slippers hugged my feet so delicately and I lay hunched over the side of the bed to embrace the cloud-like feeling just a few seconds longer. Then another strange feeling fell over me as if the once fluffy clouds drifting gracefully in my mind slowly transformed into a grey, dense storm. Why were my slippers on the right side of my bed when I usually kept them on the left? Again, I let the thought fade away blaming it on the night before. After all, I could barely recall anything past eleven o’clock and there was no reason to fret, or so I thought. Finally pulling myself up to a posture many people wouldn’t even consider standing, I slumped sluggishly to the bathroom as I squinted my eyes for a less blurred view my path. The journey to the bathroom seemed to draw out longer than usual and looking through the slits below my eyelids made it nearly impossible to gauge where I was going. After wandering aimlessly like a zombie, my hand made contact with the bathroom door frame guiding me in the right direction. I flipped the light switch and my eyes were immediately seared shut by the intense brightness. Questioning thoughts started running through my head again while I waited patiently for my pupils to adjust. The ambiance in the room seemed a bit off almost as if the floor plan of my house had been entirely turned around. Then, as my eyes pried open to reveal the answers to so many perplexing questions, my heart stopped and my jaw dropped to the floor under the weight of disbelief. I stared into the mirror at the most anomalous sight any man could lay their eyes on as long as they live. Well, any man but one.

    The man I was staring at was not me, but the one and only entrepreneurial genius Tony Stark! Was this a dream? Was this heaven? The hip-hop station; the too good to be true glamorously cozy slippers; the unusually long trek to the bathroom: it all made sense! A huge smile painted my face, excuse me… Tony’s face, and I had but one thing on my mind. Disregarding everything piece of elegant furniture and ornamental art scattered throughout the house, I scurried out of the bathroom like a raging maniac on deadly amounts of speed and made my way to the foot of the massive stairs overlooking the grandest display of architecture and complimenting decor I had ever seen. And there it was. Standing gracefully in the corner right next to a monumental fireplace just opposite from where I was perched was the Iron Man suit in its entirety. It stared right back into my fervent gaze like a vigilant guard on duty. This Mexican standoff had lasted far too long, so I rushed down the steps like an ecstatic kid on Christmas morning to get a closer look at the living armor. I skated across the varnish glaze of the hardwood floors towards the comic book hero who had gotten me through my repressed childhood years and ground to a halt at the mannequin’s metallic feet.

    The figure towered over me like a statue of an Egyptian god overlooking his subjects, like the enlightening Buddha only a skinny version plated with titanium shingles enchanted with absolute truth and pure glee. This was my god. This was my Buddha. And I was ready to be enlightened by harnessing the power which lay before me. I grabbed the helmet ready to knight myself king of science and technological marvel. It was all mine for the taking and nothing could veer me away from my new found passion. The mask felt lighter than I expected, so it must have been forged from a mixture of the finest synthetic plastics and reinforced titanium. That was my best guess at the time. I was never scientifically savvy and always pulled off mischievous pranks in high school chemistry class instead of listening. Well, here goes nothing. I bowed before the almighty and slipped the helmet over my head ready to indulge in the identity of the most illustrious hero to hit Mach 1 and beyond. Then there was black. Complete and utter nothing. I stood stone still waiting for the bucket of bolts AI to welcome my presence with the instated greeting of, “Power online. Hello, Mr. Stark, how are you doing, Sir. Vitals are stable, but may I suggest taking a banana to-go to increase depleted potassium levels.” My heart sank to a bottomless void even darken than the dull interior staring back at me. I pulled up my shirt and reached for the pacemaker device supposedly keeping me alive. Instead my fingers met a landscape of grizzly curls and my heart felt like disintegrating into nonexistence. I could have honestly used a heart regulator at this point, because my mind was going haywire. That’s when the most petrifying epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t Tony Stark. I was Robert Downey, Jr in the flesh!!!

  2. Lexicomical says:

    “Goooooood morning San Diego! I’ll give you sleepy heads a few minutes to wake up before our honored Grammy award winning guest joins us for an exclusive interv-” *Bam* I abruptly slapped the top of my blaring retro 80′s alarm clock nearly sending it plummeting over the edge of my bedside nightstand. I follow this arduous routine every morning, apart from most Friday’s and Saturday’s, but this time it was peculiarly different. Something was slightly off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. That’s when it dawned on me. My radio clock had been tuned to some random hip-hop station instead of my usual new age rock alternative. Eh, no big deal. I must have changed it in my drunken stupor the night before. With my eyes tightly sealed by the crusty gunk blinding my vision, I quickly brushed it off and mustered up the energy to lift my drained body out of bed.
    I swung each leg, one after the other, through the tightly tucked covers and landed my feet gently into the comfort of my fluffy slippers on the floor below. The slippers hugged my feet so delicately and I lay hunched over the side of the bed to embrace the cloud-like feeling just a few seconds longer. Then another strange feeling fell over me as if the once fluffy clouds drifting gracefully in my mind slowly transformed into a grey, dense storm. Why were my slippers on the right side of my bed when I usually kept them on the left? Again, I let the thought fade away blaming it on the night before. After all, I could barely recall anything past eleven o’clock and there was no reason to fret, or so I thought. Finally pulling myself up to a posture many people wouldn’t even consider standing, I slumped sluggishly to the bathroom as I squinted my eyes for a less blurred view my path. The journey to the bathroom seemed to draw out longer than usual and looking through the slits below my eyelids made it nearly impossible to gauge where I was going. After wandering aimlessly like a zombie, my hand made contact with the bathroom door frame guiding me in the right direction. I flipped the light switch and my eyes were immediately seared shut by the intense brightness. Questioning thoughts started running through my head again while I waited patiently for my pupils to adjust. The ambiance in the room seemed a bit off almost as if the floor plan of my house had been entirely turned around. Then, as my eyes pried open to reveal the answers to so many perplexing questions, my heart stopped and my jaw dropped to the floor under the weight of disbelief. I stared into the mirror at the most anomalous sight any man could lay their eyes on as long as they live. Well, any man but one.

    The man I was staring at was not me, but the one and only entrepreneurial genius Tony Stark! Was this a dream? Was this heaven? The hip-hop station; the too good to be true glamorously cozy slippers; the unusually long trek to the bathroom: it all made sense! A huge smile painted my face, excuse me… Tony’s face, and I had but one thing on my mind. Disregarding everything piece of elegant furniture and ornamental art scattered throughout the house, I scurried out of the bathroom like a raging maniac on deadly amounts of speed and made my way to the foot of the massive stairs overlooking the grandest display of architecture and complimenting decor I had ever seen. And there it was. Standing gracefully in the corner right next to a monumental fireplace just opposite from where I was perched was the Iron Man suit in its entirety. It stared right back into my fervent gaze like a vigilant guard on duty. This Mexican standoff had lasted far too long, so I rushed down the steps like an ecstatic kid on Christmas morning to get a closer look at the living armor. I skated across the varnish glaze of the hardwood floors towards the comic book hero who had gotten me through my repressed childhood years and ground to a halt at the mannequin’s metallic feet.

    The figure towered over me like a statue of an Egyptian god overlooking his subjects, like the enlightening Buddha only a skinny version plated with titanium shingles enchanted with absolute truth and pure glee. This was my god. This was my Buddha. And I was ready to be enlightened by harnessing the power which lay before me. I grabbed the helmet ready to knight myself king of science and technological marvel. It was all mine for the taking and nothing could veer me away from my new found passion. The mask felt lighter than I expected, so it must have been forged from a mixture of the finest synthetic plastics and reinforced titanium. That was my best guess at the time. I was never scientifically savvy and always pulled off mischievous pranks in high school chemistry class instead of listening. Well, here goes nothing. I bowed before the almighty and slipped the helmet over my head ready to indulge in the identity of the most illustrious hero to hit Mach 1 and beyond. Then there was black. Complete and utter nothing. I stood stone still waiting for the bucket of bolts AI to welcome my presence with the instated greeting of, “Power online. Hello, Mr. Stark, how are you doing, Sir. Vitals are stable, but may I suggest taking a banana to-go to increase depleted potassium levels.” My heart sank to a bottomless void even darken than the dull interior staring back at me. I pulled up my shirt and reached for the pacemaker device supposedly keeping me alive. Instead my fingers met a landscape of grizzly curls and my heart felt like disintegrating into nonexistence. I could have honestly used a heart regulator at this point, because my mind was going haywire. That’s when the most petrifying epiphany hit me like a ton of bricks for it still haunts me to this day. I wasn’t Tony Stark… I was Robert Downey, Jr in the flesh!!!

  3. cyndaquils says:

    It was bright. The sun was shining through the window, and my head began to hurt badly. I pulled myself out of bed and stumbled blindly towards the bathroom. Only, there was no bathroom. I looked around curiously, confused as to where I was. It wasn’t my room. When I realized this, I began to panic. Where was I? I tried to rack my brain for memories – for anything, but I couldn’t think.

    I ran around the room crying for help. There was no one, and the door was locked. Upon discovering that no rescue would come, I decided to use the dingy toilet in the corner. After washing my face, and clearing my head up, I took a look in the mirror and screamed.

    I stared at myself in the mirror. My hands touched my face and slapped it, telling myself that if I slapped it hard enough, I would wake up. That this had to be a dream. After several attempts to get myself to wake up, including one very painful punch to the wall, I decided that this was in fact real life. I just couldn’t believe it. I placed my hands against my cheeks once more, rubbing my fingers over the scruff.

    I had become Robert Downey, Jr.

    “Do you remember now?” A voice burst through the loudspeaker loudspeaker in the corner.

    “Do you remember what happened?” Asked the voice. I knew I had heard that voice somewhere. My brain was working too hard this morning, and I couldn’t quite place my finger on it. I then recognized it as mine.

    “No! And who are you? Why am I Robert Downey, Jr.? What is going on?” I began to sob, realizing that my voice was Robert Downey, Jr.’s as well.

    “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s me, the real Robert Downey Jr. Our bodies switched last night. I think it had to do with that purple drink, Guy offered me. People always do tell me to read the labels, I guess now I will.” He chuckled quietly at this. “Are you sure you don’t remember anything?”

    It was here my head began to hurt so badly, I couldn’t breathe. After seconds of this torture, my brain began to be filled with memories. I stood up, suddenly remembering.

    “It was a party, a kind of special Christmas party. My great aunt invited me. Guy Pearce was there! He offered me a green drink, said it was for good health, I drank it, and I went numb. I remember he said it’s an early April Fool’s prank, and here I am, stuck in your body.”

    “What do you mean, stuck? It’s a gift! And you better treat my body right, or I swear I will tickle you to death when this is all over.”

    And he did. Because the next day, I was back in my body, he was back in his. Robert Downey Jr. hunted me down, and tickled me to death.

  4. jmcody says:

    EDWIN’S REVENGE

    “Edwin, when you’re done tracking down that sick kid and checking up on those deviants on Writer’s Digest, could you get me a latte?”

    “Yes, Mr. Downey Sir.”

    “Why so formal, Edwin? Just call me Sir.”

    “Yes, Sir, Mr. Downey… Sir.”

    And throw in a biscotti – one of those crunchy almond ones. And for God’s sake, no cranberries.”

    “The usual Sir.”

    “And don’t forget to check my Twitter feed. Tweet something supportive and loving about Indio, will you?”

    “I’m on it, Sir.”

    “And while you’re out, could you swing by the rehab and bring Indio something nice? Tell him we’re all pulling for him. And Edwin?

    “Yes?”

    “Close the door on your way out.”

    Edwin sighed as he closed the office door behind him. Robert wasn’t a bad boss really – not since they had gotten past that nasty “breaking in” period. Of course, “It’s a Wonderful Life” was forever ruined, but that’s the price you pay to rub elbows with the stars.

    Who am I kidding, Edwin thought. This isn’t elbow-rubbing. It’s boot-licking.

    This wasn’t what Edwin had in mind when he struggled and sacrificed to get his M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and when he stayed up night after night polishing his masterpiece. Mr. Downey had promised to read his screenplay, but so far the manuscript had lain untouched on the credenza for months. Each day, Edwin surreptitiously moved it back to the top of the pile, but to no avail.

    Edwin was tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of fetching coffee and biscotti with no cranberries, and running errands and dutifully polishing Downey’s gleaming star while his own dimmed a little more each day. Soon there would be a new baby in the house, and all hope of ever getting the attention he deserved would be lost.

    The time to act was now.

    Edwin felt for the tiny vial in his pocket. The priestess had warned there could be grave consequences if the spell were to be cast in revenge. No, it had to be for higher, more honorable motives.

    Art. He would do it for his art.

    ***
    “Here you go, Mr. Downey.” Edwin handed Robert his latte.

    “Edwin, what did I tell you about that Mr. Downey stuff?” Robert flashed his famous rugged grin.

    “Here you go, Sir!” Edwin returned the grin. Robert raised the cup to his lips.

    “Wait!” said Edwin. Robert stopped, the cup grazing his lip as he looked expectantly at Edwin.

    “Did you have a chance to read my screenplay yet?”

    “Well… er… I’ve been so busy, you know, with Susan and the baby coming and this business with Indio, but I promise I’ll get to it soon.”

    “Okay, then. Enjoy your latte,” said Edwin as he left office and closed the door behind him. All he had to do now was wait.

    ***
    “Hello, Steve?” Edwin said in Robert’s voice, as he paced the floor with Robert’s feet and fingered Spielberg’s card with Robert’s fingers. “You have got to read this screenplay my P.A. wrote… Yeah, seriously…Turns out the kid is a freaking genius!”

    Edwin didn’t know when – or if — the spell would wear off, and what Downey would do to him when it did. There were no guarantees with this sort of thing. The priestess had warned him that it all depended on the purity of his motives, and that it could all go horribly wrong. But he knew his intentions were of the highest and purest order, and that everything would work out somehow.

    Now, if he could just get his six figure advance before the potion wore off…

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I like Edwin.
      This had a The Devil Wears Prada feel. I loved it :)

      • jmcody says:

        Thanks, Marie. It occurs to me that certain parts won’t make much sense unless you’ve read flaboba’s and O. Tim’s latest (and my earlier one).

        Glad you enjoyed! :)

    • Reaper says:

      I like this so much I am willing to forgive Edwin for his earlier tattle taling. Very nice and had me smiling all the way through.

    • Dearest Eddy Boy,

      I am writing to you from my blast-proof bunker. Your Ides of March is quickly approaching, and I will have my due revenge when I descend upon *your* mansion in my new XTL7000, heat-seekers blasting. I have hired Tim’s alien helpers as mercenaries, and we’ve formed a new base in the Sovereign Palatinate of Calgary. We’re aiming to uncover your plot, one checkmate at a time. I’m sure you’ve already grudgingly read in the papers about the unfortunate accident with your priestess. Was the body found in the river or the landfill? I’ve forgotten already.

      But I digress. I’ve also enlisted the man in the tinfoil fedora, much to your consternation. He’s got a lawsuit in the works, so convoluted even he doesn’t know what it really says (something about a wombat-carrying license and cactus farms), and we’re shelling out money to get it all the way to the Supreme Court.

      So, hold on to your latte while it’s still in your hand. It might be the last sip you ever take.
      Muahahahaaha…………………….

      Cheers!
      Slightly Deluded RDj

      P.S. Guess who boycotted your screenplay at the Oscars? :-D :-D

    • Observer Tim says:

      Purest of motives, eh Edwin? Like most of Hollywood, his appear to be pure as the driven soot.

      I love the way it pulls together some key elements of the earlier prompts (especially since some of those elements came from me).

      LOL ;)

    • Critique says:

      A delightful story – I hope Edwins ;) I agree with Marie, it reminds me of The Devil Wear Prada too.

  5. Suzanne says:

    “Mmm…”
    I wake up to a very dark room. I must have left the curtains closed for my room is entirely devoid of light . I wonder why I didn’t keep one open the previous night, as was my custom. The darkness of the room prevented me from feeling energetic as usual in the morning and I grunted at the thought of waking up late. With my eyes closed I reached out to grab my pillbox on my bedside table for some headache relief pills, but instead grabbed what felt like a rounded hat. A rounded hat? With brows furrowed I opened my eyes and found that I was holding a black bowler hat.
    I quickly get out of bed and fling the bed sheet to the floor. I look at my body and let out a low cry; am I suddenly flat chested or… no… but it can’t be…
    I have a chest of a man. I look through my shirt and find a jungle of hair and some defined abs in place of my rounded breasts and flat stomach. I suddenly look at the room and it dawns to me that I’m in a nineteenth century bedroom. A heavily decorated standing mirror is in the corner of the small room and I get up to inspect myself in the mirror. I see the wide eyed, shocked expression of Robert Downey Jr., wearing nineteenth century British clothes.
    I vigorously storm to the bathroom to look at another mirror and still find that actor’s face instead of mine. I touch myself everywhere to check that I’m not hallucinating, but I’m not. I really am in Robert’s body. In a nineteenth century looking bedroom. It’s Robert being Sherlock. If there was something more peculiar than the fact that I’m in actor’s body, it’s the fact that that actor is not himself but a fictional character he acts.
    Opening the bedroom door I find the familiar staircase to the short hallway and then to the living room. I find Jude Law… er… Dr. Watson sitting on the vintage armchair of the small living room, and Ms. Hudson standing right next to him.
    “Are you sure you’re alright, Dr. Watson, dear? You seem quite… bitter.”
    “I am perfectly fine. Thank you, Ms. Hudson.”
    “Alright, then. Good Morning, Sherlock. Let me get you some tea.”
    Ms. Hudson leaves the room while I look at her in amazement. I am Sherlock. I look back at Watson and I see a sly smile on his face.
    “What… How… What’s ha..” I stutter.
    “Oh, it’s elementary, my dear Watson.” he says, “A simple new scientific discovery.”
    I couldn’t think of something to say. So I just looked out the window at the misty old London sky, thinking more of how completely weird everything is.
    Then I said, ” Wh… Why?”
    “You can not be tied in matrimony, Watson,” he said, solemnly.
    After a small amount of time of staring at him, his face went blank. He got up from his chair and faced me.
    “You’re not Watson, are you?” he said.
    I thought about what to say. I decided to go with, “I.. I don’t think so.”
    He stared wide eyed. Then, out of no where, plunged a syringe filled with a translucent liquid into my arm. I wailed and felt the room spin.

    I woke up suddenly in my bedroom, sweating.

  6. girl-in-progress says:


    ________

    “Stay away from that window!” Suzy yelled.

    But it was too late. Cameras started flashing in all directions and reporters began throwing questions.

    “Mr. Downey, Mr. Downey,” shouted one of the reporters as the camera zoomed right in my tired face. “Over here!”

    “Mr. Downey, why are you here?” asked another demanding brunette.

    I was startled. I didn’t know what to say so I just waved at them. The people down below cheered even more. It was like a scene where the Pope came out to greet his flock.

    I backed off from the sliding windows and turned my sorry gaze towards Suzy.

    “Honey, what are you doing?” Suzy said two brows furrowed in exasperation. “You know very well that these people cannot see you!”

    I just stared all the more at Suzy, expressionless. My lips quivered but no words poured out. Nil. Zilch. Zip. My throat seemed squeezed dry. Oh god, I never felt so stupid in my life.

    “Earth to Robbie,” Suzy snapped her pointy fingers at me.

    I still stood there stone-faced.

    “Mr. Downey?” Suzy whispered. “Listen, we have to get out of here before the paparazzi mangles us.”

    She called me Mr. Downey again. Robbie. Downey. Paparazzi. I was piecing out the things she told me.

    For I was a sure man, I needed another confirmation.

    “Robert Downey Jr., are you with me so far?”

    W-w-wait, what? Did she just call me Robert Downey Jr.? The Iron Man–Robert Downey Jr? Well, I couldn’t be him. Besides why would I smell like wet dog hair? Robert Downey Jr. wouldn’t smell like that—ever. He wouldn’t wake up in this filthy motel room either. Suzy was really out of her mind.

    I was about to head straight back into the window when my right eye caught something glistening at the ceiling.

    I slowly looked up and saw my reflection at a huge glass atrium above me. Whoa. I really looked like Robert Downey Junior. Pleased with my appearance, I started to run my hands all over my body. I caressed my neatly trimmed beard and mustache, my brown sexy eyes, my perfect nose…

    “Oh my gosh, son, your dad’s suffering from somnambulism again!” Suzy shrieked.

    “Somnambu-what?” I said finally waking up from my slumber.

    “Aw jeez,” Suzy said. “He’s sleep talking too!”

    ###

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Whoa. What just happened? Peace, guys!

    • Reaper says:

      Very funny last line, and interesting story telling leading up to it. Some amazing lines in here and some of them giving beautiful little clues to what is going on. Two of my favorites are like a scene where the Pope comes out to greet his flock, and you know these people cannot see you. The story just grabs and does not let go. Very good job.

    • jmcody says:

      That was intriguing and very readable. In addition to the part about the papal audience, I also liked the MC’s thought that Robert Downey Jr. would never smell like a wet dog, and how the seedy motel room suddenly had a huge mirrored atrium ceiling. This was so surreal and imaginative, and your writing style is lively and fun.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is very clever, girl. Dreams are hard to write in a story these days (they were kind of overdone in the first half of the 20th century), but this was so quietly understated that it worked out perfectly.

      Both somnambulism (sleepwalking) and somniloquy (sleep-talking) are out there among my parents’ brothers and sisters; I wish it were fun like this. My mother used to chew out us kids in her sleep, though she’d have no memory of doing it in the morning.

      • girl-in-progress says:

        Appreciate your comments O. Tim! Yes, you are right about dreams. They are indeed hard to put into words especially with the proper flow, graphics, and timing. I’m sorry to hear about your mother and relatives.

  7. PeterW says:

    Woke up as a man in his 40s. Not feeling so great bout it. Then I made myself an incredible bloody mary. Not from a mix either; I ground that pepper myself. Didn’t have celery though, so I stuck in a green plastic straw. And I sucked up that bad, bad mary like a happy child

    Next went to my job. Not a real big deal, having one bloody before a day’s work. Not a big deal at all! Anyhow arrived 35 min late and stuck in the back door. Then I started swaddling these obnoxious 4 and 5 year olds, often blowing sweet tomato juice all over their faces. Honestly, I have no idea why a preschool would hire me. Irresponsible of them.

    To get through the day, I drink vodka from my water bottle and I treat the kids like really cute pets. Which seems to work okay. The kids like me which is actually horrible. And the parents who drop off their kids like me. I feel so fucking guilty.

    That day, the day I woke up as a 40 year old dude (didn’t check the mirror either; figured it wasn’t worth it) everything went to hell. It started good. I sort of collapsed onto the floor and told all the kids to climb over me and all the kids jumped on top of me, smelling like ammonia and juice boxes and baby lotion, and I jiggled around like I was having a seizure and they all laughed. Then some kid accidentally put his little foot into one of my eyes and I had to shake all the kids off and rush to the bathroom because I for sure though his little had smashed in my eye and it was very painful.

    My eye was actually fine, but it was then I realized I had woken up as Robert Downy Jr.. First thought was this is fucked up. Second thought was will Mindy take me back now that I look or am a famous person. Third thought was I should get back to the kids; the little tykes are probably destroying something. Fourth and ultimate thought was of course where is my side-flask of vodka.

    Then as I exited the bathroom, rubbing me poked eye with brown paper towel, I had a fifth thought: Did the kids realize I was Robert Downy Jr? wouldn’t the kids freak it their preschool supervisor was suddenly another person. I let this thought drop because it was way too complex.

    Then I sat all the kids down and read them the “Velveteen Rabbit” and “Good Night Moon” and some Clifford, and then they yawned and snuggled up on their floor mats and feel asleep. I made sure they were all asleep: I moved always thrashing Ben into the corner, I replaced Janie wrinkled thumb with a pacifier, I removed Dan’s head from his pants, and covered them all with blankets.

    When they were all well off on their content curled afternoon naps, I went into the staff area. I made myself a long island icetea from all the liquor, I had stashed there. Then like any man would do, I checked the size of my penis/ or perhaps Robert Downy Jr.’s penis. It was junior indeed. And it wasn’t circumcised. My penis was probably at least a quarter inch longer. I felt like stroking it, teasing it, felt like looking at porn on my iphone to see what happened when it was up. But that didn’t feel right; it (the penis) being another man’s. So I rebuttoned my pants and left the staff area.

    I drank my long island ice tea and watched the kids sleep peacefully or fitfully on their little mats. I wondered how each would turn out. Would they go to college? Would they be shy or outgoing? Would they life fulfilling lives. How would they deal with first loves, with their parents? How would they lose their virginities? How would they cope with the world that was huge and frighting and located somewhere beyond them: a world located not in a place, but in a time. A time which was down the road, somewhere in the future… grim or bright; well no one can really tell.

    I sat there as Robert Downy Jr and drank a long ice tea, which was no as incredible as that morning’s bloody mary. Then it occurred to me that I was sitting there as myself like a did every afternoon at nap time and it didn’t really matter that I looked like Robert Downy Jr.

    I am not him.

    I will never be him.

    I can never come close. I can’t even stand in his shoes… look at me, I’m drifting off, falling asleep like the kids, but here comes sweet George, poking me in the stomach, saying wake up, wake up, I wanna go play outside. I wanna play superheroes outside, wake up, wake up……………………………………

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice to see you back, PeterW, and in fine form. I love the juxtaposition of the drunken reprobate and the “devoted” caregiver. Good thing for him he only woke up in RDJ’s body; I doubt he could easily find the makings of a bloody mary in the actor’s house (recovering addicts are such party poopers that way).

      Or was this a sign that a certain main character is in desperate need of rehab?

      • PeterW says:

        Thanks Mr. Tim. I was trying to be genuine this time. But I feel like I failed miserably, especially pertaining to the reprobate RDJ: his (RDJ’s) real life plays little part in this sorry tale.

        But yeah, for good or no, I’m back.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Hello Peter W. I’m doubling down on Tim’s thoughts, glad to have you back. You point out in your story, an undeniable truth about young children. They can see through to a soul of a person. And that’s what they judge by. The idea of Downey Jr, being famous doesn’t cut it with kids, even if they did know.
          Describing your MC’s thoughts about the future of the children he cares for, tells much more about him then the skill he uses in mixing a drink or two. You did a great job on on this Glad to see your word engine is running on all eights. Give us some more next week.

    • snuzcook says:

      There is such a quietly pensive tone to this story, PeterW. The MC acts in ways that seem shallow, but comes across as such a person of depth–an old soul. It is almost as if it is a story of two transpositions: The MC is already living a life that does not reflect the person within, so it doesn’t matter what he sees in the mirror–his image of himself is already reflected elsewhere. Then this transformation which might be considered AMAZING really is just one more iteration of the same theme of not being who he is, but coping as best he can.
      I really like this story, the latest of the many different ways you amaze me.

      • snuzcook says:

        PS: the portrayals of the children are adorable and quite real.

      • Reaper says:

        I was trying to think of what to say about this and then I saw snuzcook said it better than I could so I’m adding a ditto here.

        • jmcody says:

          I should probably just say ditto to Reaper’s ditto of snuzcook. But I talk too much, so I’ll add that it was a touching and ironic portrait of a certain kind of futility that is part of the human condition. Your MC is both more and less than he appears to be. Aside from the fact that this is every parent’s worst nightmare, I actually really loved this one.

  8. usedname says:

    This is a bit dark just warning and i indulged a bit and went over the word limit.

    It was four in the morning when she first got the news. A giant meteor was confirmed to have just entered earth’s orbit. It was a congealed mass of space junk with an unstable rotation.

    A Russian terrorist group,K16, detonated thirty catastrophic bombs sending a luxury space resort into a tailspin straight towards earth. The resort was the work of billionaire mega star, Robert Downey Jr., the first of its kind inspired by his 8th Iron man sequel. Like waking from a nightmare, with cold sweat, she sat stiffly in awe. They all watched in horror as the screen filled with images of the fiery space rock.

    “Jane,” She swallowed a deep breath at the sound of her name. For years she had become accustomed to others calling out ‘Sergeant Lakowski’. Jane was not a name you associated with someone of her stature. With someone who had seen and done the things she did.

    “Jane,” he called out again, “take this.”

    She looked down at the pair of Tylenol in her hands warily, then gulped them down dry. Catching her hesitation, Dr. Windsor tried to console the shaken woman. “It’s going to hurt but we need you awake for the procedure. So suck it up.”, as much consoling as a veteran army physician could, anyways.

    The tension in the room was palpable. Crammed into the small space were large computers, wires, medical equipment and one TV stuck on CNN. Jane was immediately stuck with various cables and needles. Beside her, Jane saw some familiar and unfamiliar faces. Many of the army reserve, but others were some of surprising government officials . We were all part of the ‘rapture’. The appropriately named mission, aimed to send the minds of its agents back in time to possibly thwart the upcoming disaster. It was said the procedure had a 30% success rate.

    “I’m ready” She confirmed.

    Dr Windsor whispered to her, quiet and unashamedly as he flipped the switch, “Thank you, for your service.”

    A bolt of pain surged through her, ripping apart the muscles from her bone, like a current racing through. Then as quickly as it came it ended, leaving Jane huffing, short of breath.

    She awoke in the seat of a tinted car she could only assume was a limo. She paused taking in her new masculine face complete with rugged jaw line and thick eyebrows, in the windows reflection.

    She became hesitant as the limo drove onto a rock trail. Her eyes scanned the seats for any possible weapon only to find none.

    “Why are we stopping?” no reply

    “Where the fuck are we?”, again no reply.

    A middle aged man entered the limo holding a masked sleeping girl in his arms.

    “What is this!!” Jane yelled in a much deeper voice. The well dressed man revealed a 22 glock under the young girls chin.

    “Driver!” again she screamed out in anger unable to do anything. She didn’t know if the gun was loaded but she couldn’t take the chance and jump him, he reeked of military training.

    “Weighing your options are you, Mr.Downey?” the man joked readjusting the barrel of the gun under the girls chin. “ I’ve always wanted to meet a star you know.”

    “Cut the shit.” She said tersely in a man’s low voice.

    “Quite right Mr.Downey, or should I say Sergeant Lakowski ?” he jeered. She sat tense watching this mysterious man cautiously. “Its nice to see YOU again.” The man laughed bitterly playing with something in his pocket.

    “I could try to convince you to not go through with your plan Jane, but God you’re stubborn. I’ve tried telling you to agree to invest in the resort multiple times, but you bloody well wouldn’t listen! Anyways, I’m tired of chasing after your damn ass, so let’s just nip this in the bud. Yeah?”

    “Oh my God.” she thought.Without hesitation Jane launched herself at him, certain of what she saw under the girl’s slipping mask.

    The last thing Jane saw before the flash of white was the face of her younger self 30 years ago splitting apart in peaceful sleep, second by slow second.

    Robert’s body slumped forward atop the bloody mess of the girl. Without remorse the man rolled the lifeless girl out of the car. He then secured a small device of his pocket and placed it around his neck. Instantly the gray haired man assumed the image of Robert Downey Jr.

    “So messy,” He sighed peeling off his blood splattered over coat and throwing it into the trunk.

    “What is it now, the 20th time sir?” the driver said in a thick Russian accent ,hauling the small body atop the coat. “Really, they don’t pay me enough for this. Next time you’re the driver.”

    • Observer Tim says:

      This was a mindbending story, usedname, in more ways than one. Of course now I’m wondering if this is the 20th person the villain has impersonated or the 20th time he’s killed Jane.

      My red pencil says this needs another quick run-through to clean out some awkward grammar.

      • usedname says:

        yeah, i had made a lot of changes so there’s bound to be mistakes. Thanks for the critique though, i hope to refine my story writing for easier reading in the future.

    • Reaper says:

      That is a little dark, a lot twisted, and completely intriguing. This works both as a short and the start of something longer that focuses on this time battle.

  9. G.R.Blessing says:

    I awoke with a splitting headache. The morning sun a bain to my existance now attempts to sneek between my eylids to once again tell me it’s time to wake up.
    I sit up and look around and realize I am not in my bed. Again I find myself in a strange bed folling a night of partying.
    So calmly I get out of bed and make for the bathroom when I see a press pass of sorts. I pick it up and study it. To my suprise it’s for Avengers 2 and of all things Robert Downey Jr.’s name was on it.
    “Holy Shit” I shouted. It just dawned on me that I most possably partied with Robert Downey Jr.
    I continue on to the bathroom and walked past the mirror and gave a quick glance, and what I saw stopped me in my tracks.
    There looking right at me was none other than Robert Downey Jr. I smiled at my new refection and checked myself out a bit then shruged. “Meh, Weirder things has happend.”
    I finished my buisness in the toilet and hoped in the shower to get myself refreshed , I put on my/his best suit and grabed the pass.
    I headed out the door and shouted. “Look out Scarlett Johansson Daddy is comming!” I clicked my heels and headed out to what will be the best kssing scean ever. Regardless if it was on the script or not.

  10. jhowe says:

    I awoke to an unfamiliar stench that made my eyes water. I fluffed the covers and discovered the source. I had never passed gas this noxious in my entire life. Holy crap. I prepared myself for my ritual of the slow rising to avoid overtaxing myself, but to my surprise I sprung from the bed as if I were forty once again.

    I walked to the bathroom on strong legs. Masculine legs. What the hell? It seemed I was naked; my night gown must have fallen off during the night or I was still asleep. Whatever it was, it felt great. I felt a strong desire to urinate and felt for my catheter but it was missing. Wow, something strange was going on but I liked it.

    I passed the mirror and stopped in my tracks. Whoa, what have we got here? My saggy breasts had been replaced by a strong, hairy chest. A man’s chest. And what a chest it was. I recognized the face from somewhere. Quite the handsome face if I had to venture an opinion. A little scruffy, but in a good way. Nothing like my husband’s meek, paisley mug, may he rest in peace.

    But what is this morsel? I hadn’t seen one of these in thirty five years. I tried to recall the last time and I remembered a tiny, pink tube of flesh barely accessible through his thick gray pubic hair. My word, this was an interesting turn of events.

    I stood at the commode and marveled at the strong stream of urine that seemed to go on forever but I enjoyed every second of it. I went to the phone and called the nurses station. “Andrea, please cancel my hip therapy and tell the girls I won’t be playing Canasta today. Oh, and be a dear and please send up a bottle of baby oil and a box of tissues. I have something important to take care of.”

    • snuzcook says:

      “My word, this was an interesting turn of events.”
      This is incredible fun, jhowe! I think what I like most of all is the wonderful way that the MC takes each revelation in stride, as if she is mildly amused by it all and ready to embrace the possibilities.
      Well done!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        You’re dreamin’ again jhowe, but what a great dream it is And she’s so ready for it. I loved how the MC went with the whole thing and that she couldn’t wait to try out her new toy. You habe earned high marks in my book. YAA HAA!

    • Reaper says:

      I am disturbed! Mostly because your description of thought process was so amazing and spot on that I could not help but envision your MC as my great grandmother when she was in a… what’s the acceptable word these days? Facility? She was that kind of old woman. She’d seen it all and just took life as it came and that’s the character you created. Amazing character driven story telling there.

    • Observer Tim says:

      So, sassy grandma wakes up as RDJ; she has a bit of a fixation, doesn’t she? This is a well-written story, jhowe, but I have to say it stands on the edge of my comfort zone.

  11. Observer Tim says:

    Robert Downey Jr. looked at the note on his bedside table. It was printed in his handwriting, but with an unsteadiness to it as though the writer was out of practice.

    Dear Mister Downey. I am sorry I was in your body this morning. I don’t know how it happened but I was so happy! I danced and ran and jumped and I even talked! It was just like before the car crash. You are my hero cause you make movies about sick people who do great stuff like Sherlock Holmes or Iron Man. They show them here in the hospital. Maybe someday you can make me a suit so I don’t have to sit in this stupid chair all day. Thank you. Tommy from Scottsdale.

    He picked up his phone and speed-dialed his assistant. “Edwin, I need you to find someone for me. His name is Tommy and he’s in a hospital in Scottsdale.” As he gave the rest of the particulars he thought today would be a good day to visit some sick kids.

    • jmcody says:

      Sweet! The subtle difference in the handwriting was a nice touch, as was the inspiration that RDJr’s movies provided to a sick kid. I am also glad that RJ is giving Edwin more productive things to do for a change. :)

    • vaderize03 says:

      Cute and inspiring. I like it!

    • snuzcook says:

      Thank you, O.Tim! There he is; there’s the guy we all want to see showing up in the stories.
      At first RDJ’s response seemed unnaturally bland, as if someone else occupies his body every day. But you skillfully wrapped the entire drama into the conversation that is to come and presented us with the what-would-you-do factor in its essence.

    • Reaper says:

      This is wonderful.. The feel good of it is very nice and the style was very impressive. I love the approach of a letter and the focus on the cause and effect over the what happened in the body. Without ever really introducing the sick kid you made them so amazingly sympathetic I wanted to hug them. Amazing.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      This is the sort of thing I’d expect all celebrities to do.
      Nicely done, Tim.

  12. Critique says:

    Sorry everyone for the random silliness of this response. I came up short for ideas.
    *********************

    I rolled over pulling the pillow over my face. Those blasted roosters. I wish they’d shut up. What? Roosters?

    Confused I sat up on the bed and looked around. Nothing looked familiar.

    My bare feet hit the cold linoleum floor and I looked down. Who’s black hairy legs were these? Terror bled into the edges of my mind.

    I clambered towards the bureau and leaned into the mirror attached to the back. A haggard whiskered man stared back at me with baggy bloodshot eyes. Robert? I leaned closer. Robert Downey Jr.? But that’s not my name. The eyes squinted back at me. Wait. What is my name?

    Someone knocked on the door.

    “Mr. Downey? Robert? Are you decent?” said a cock-a-doodle-do high pitched voice that rolled the r’s.

    The door opened suddenly announcing fresh alarm. There stood a white haired matronly woman.

    “It’s time for your meds dearie.” She trotted briskly past me into the room her uniform swishing authoritatively.

    “What’s going on? I demand an explanation.” I stuttered.

    “Having a bad morning are we?” The nurse poured water from the pitcher on the bureau into a paper cup. She held up a hand with two pink pills followed by the cup in the other.

    “I’m not taking those.” I crossed my arms belligerently over my hairy chest. Eww. Hair everywhere. I dropped my arms then realized I was clad only in boxer shorts. I was perspiring profusely and felt ice cold at the same time.

    “Tut tut, we all know what happens when we don’t cooperate.” She bugged her eyes out and whispered dramatically dragging out the words. “Shock therapy.”

    “I want my clothes? I’m going home.” I said.

    Grandma nurse held up the pills and water. “Take these like a good boy Bobby. Doctor’s orders.”

    “Where am I? What are you doing to me?” I shouted crossing my arms over my face.

    “Take a deep breath or you’ll hyperventilate. This is only day six.” she pulled a whistle from her pocket, put it to her mouth and blew three piercing blasts.

    I covered my ears with sweat slick fingers.

    Footsteps pounded in the hallway. Through the doorway burst two burly guys wearing white.

    “Is there a problem Hilda?” One of them asked.

    “Bobby won’t take his pills and he’s all babble talk.” she said.

    The two gorillas advanced, grabbed my arms and sat me down none too gently on the bed.

    The bigger gorilla leaned forward and spit out.“You will take these pills you pathetic loser or me and Benny here will break your arms. Comprende?”

    Sweat dripped – stinging – into my eyes, watered my armpits and slithered a course down my back. I heard myself whimpering.

    The pills went down easy.

    In the growing fog I heard someone singing. Janis Joplin’s song?

    “Freedom’s just a stupid word for drug addicts like you. So go ahead – Bobby sing the blues.”

    I slept.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Ah, the joys of rehab. May I never find myself in need of it.

      As I’ve said to a few others this week, you’ve put together a wonderful tale considering you’re short of ideas. You’re raising the bar for the rest of us. ;)

    • Reaper says:

      Wonderfully written. Random perhaps but not silly in my opinion. There were some words that seemed off at first until it dawned on me what you were doing and then they just added to the overall confusion in his own mind. Great writing here, especially if you were short on ideas.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I enjoyed your little walk into the nightmare of rehab. You read about rehab every week in the newspaper and think, ‘vacation.’ At least I do because I no idea what goes on there. Now I think I understand and your words have chilled me to the bones, Critique.

        Since it’s 5:34 Am, I think I’ll go back to bed and pull the sheets high.

    • jmcody says:

      The song lyrics were brilliant. This was darkly comical and made me laugh in several spots including “Bobby won’t take his pills and he’s all babble talk.”

      This was very well written and convincingly portrayed the bewilderment of your MC. A very imaginative take on the prompt!

    • vaderize03 says:

      Nice way to tie rock artists into the confusion that’s supposed to be rehab. I also enjoyed the roughness of the orderlies; it reminded me somewhat of “Silence of the Lambs.”

    • snuzcook says:

      I liked your take on the prompt, Critique. RDJ looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize…himself. Perfect! Or he really was a different person occupying that body, but who would ever know, since no one will pay attention to someone who is all ‘babble talk.’
      The Grandma Nurse was hilarious!

    • Critique says:

      Thank you everyone for your comments :) I’m working on reading all of your wonderful stories as I can squeeze them in to a very busy time.

  13. smallPencil says:

    Most people would have seen Robert Downey Jr. staring back, through the mirror. I saw something else. I saw opportunity. Here’s what I did:

    First, I searched his dresser for his cell phone, rifling through dozens of half-finished bottles of liquor and baggies of white powder. Just kidding. The dresser supported only a few worn books and a poster for an artsy, sci-fi film called, “The Futurist”. I found the phone, but it was locked. I closed my eyes and breathed deep. There was a rushing, like a sleeping limb awakening. Then I knew things. Downey Jr. things. I tapped in the password and dialed my number. I called five times till someone picked up. “Hello?” The voice was both familiar and unfamiliar.

    “Look at your caller I.D.” I said, “do you see what’s going on?”

    “I think so?”

    “Good. Listen: I’m taking some of your money.”

    “I’ll have you thrown in jail,” he responded without the slightest hesitation.

    “Hey, whatever floats your boat. But good luck finding a law against having an account opened in your name.”

    “I’ll say I was coerced.”

    “Well, when I’m opening the account, I’ll be act like the least-coerced man in the history of free will. And I bet I can pull off a good performance in my new form, don’t you?”

    “Meh. Mediocre at best.”

    “How humble. Peace.” I hung up. Well, I was on a cell phone, so I suppose I… “pressed-off”?

    “Mr. Downey, sir, I’m sorry but I cannot open an account in this Eric Scanlan’s name without his presence and signature.” The sound of my own name felt like a closed door. Eric Scanlan? I’m Eric Scanlan. Right? I felt something slipping away, like watching a train disappear into a tunnel. Clinging, I thought of my childhood. Manhattan, the premier of my dad’s film. No! Another scene usurped: riding my bike in the Adirondacks. I held tight, but it was fuzzy, wavering.

    I pushed down my cool-celebrity-shades and met his eyes. “What if I actually WAS Ironman? You’d be getting a missile up the ass right now. You realize that?”

    He laughed.

    I stared daggers (palm-lasers?)

    His smile died. He cleared his throat.

    “Fine,” I said, “just give me the three million in cash.”

    “Mr. Downey, I’m sorry, but we can only do eight thousand, cash, at a time.”

    I pushed out an exaggerated grumble/sigh. “Alright, I’ll take the eight.”

    “Very well. I’ll be right back.”

    My head began to spin. Why did I want the cash? To give it to Eric Scanlan, because he’s me. Right? I shook my head. Eric Scanlan? I felt nauseous. I dove for the trashcan and retched.

    Who the hell is Eric Scanlan? When Susan and I were at dinner last night, I thought my water tasted funny. It must have been spiked.

    I hurry out and back to my home in Beverly Hills.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Clever, smallPencil. You did a great job of the slow-building switch back, and the dialogue was quite realistic. This does highlight the problem of switching bodies with someone when you don’t get their mind as well.

    • Reaper says:

      Nice take. I’m still not sure if the end was a switch back or an assimilation. Either way it was artfully and elegantly done and not knowing is perfect here. Your opening was a good hook and I loved the language throughout.

    • snuzcook says:

      I immediately loved your MC. The self-aware opportunist came across beautifully. Then as things fell apart at the bank, it left me sharing the MC’s disorientation, and that felt entirely appropriate and well done. The only question mark I had at the end was whether the world now consists of two RDJs, and zero Scanlans, or reversed ones of each?

  14. AlienAlmanac says:

    The truth is…I am Iron Man.

    Don’t ask me how or why it happened. It just is. I’ve accepted it.

    I look like Robert Downey Jr, the actor, but everyone keeps calling me Tony Stark and I’m staring out into the Pacific Ocean from 10880 Malibu Point as the west coast wakes. My hand rests over the electromagnet imbedded in my chest. I can feel a slight power discharge from the device. I would have never guessed.

    I took a deep breath. Well? What would you do if you were me, I mean, Tony? Time to suit up!

    I skip down stairs to the workshop. The sensors register my moment and illuminate the sport cars, the bikes, and the entire garage. Oh my God, it’s the ultimate man-cave. I see all the suits lined up along one wall like trophies in a display case. The armor is polished to a perfect shine. At the bottom of the stairs, I pull on the glass door. It’s locked. A holographic key pad appears on the right side. I have no idea what the password is.

    “Jarvis?”

    “I am here, sir.” Jarvis’ voice sounded as if he stood next to me, completely bored and inconvenienced. “Did you forget your password again?”

    “Ahhh…yeah. I forgot my password,” I said nervously.

    “Another late night, sir. Did you enjoy yourself?”

    “Can you override the password and let me in, Jarvis? We need to get to work. We’ll open a new project,” I said.

    “I am not authorized, sir.”

    “Not authorized? Then who is?”

    “Only you and Ms. Potts,” Jarvis said. “These are your instructions.”

    “OK,” I said. “Then I authorize you to let me in.”

    “I cannot comply, sir. Both you and Ms. Potts must be present. Shall I summon her?”

    “No, no, no. Don’t summon her. I’ll just…is she in the house? Just curious.”

    “Yes, sir. She is still resting in the guest room. Shall I wake her?” Jarvis said

    “No. Let her sleep. You said I was out last night. What was I doing?” I asked.

    “Your itinerary says you had a dinner with several of your distributors at Spago’s. But, your locator placed you at Banner Labs.”

    “Banner Labs? As in Bruce Banner?”

    “Correct, sir.”

    “That pencil neck did something to me,” I muttered. What am I saying? I don’t even know the guy.

    My head starts to spin. Visions of another life…I’m working a floor waxer left to right and right to left. My arms strain on the handles of the orbital buffer. My life dances in my head like a jar of jumping beans mixed with the life of Tony Stark. I’m slipping, I’m slipping. I press Tony’s body against the glass. The Iron Man suits look so perfect. I just want to try one on for size. Banner!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Good one, AlienAlmanac. Who wouldn’t want to see the lab if they woke up as Tony Stark?

      Given the generally magnanimous nature of movie superheroes, maybe he could have gotten a tour by writing some fanboy praise prose…

    • Reaper says:

      Wonderful AlienAlmanac. Your character was believable with just the right focus on wanting and yet not understanding. I was wondering when someone would do a take like this and I’m glad you did because you did so very well. Your opening was a great hook with the movie too.

    • jhowe says:

      This was well done. Very well done.

    • jmcody says:

      This was so well written, it just swept me along, and I forgot for a moment that I was reading a prompt response. That doesn’t happen every day, so bravo!

  15. Russ says:

    I woke up and felt pretty good. I got out of bed and realized I was in a room I didn’t recognize. Obviously I
    was very confused and afraid. I thought very hard about the night before, and remembered going to sleep in
    my own bed. I thought someone drugged and kidnapped me. I opened my door and saw I was in a very nice place.
    I saw a maid watering a plant right in front of the room. I walked out to her and asked, “Where am
    I? Who are you?”
    “Mr. Downey, what are you talking about?” She stared at me looking confused.
    “Mr. Downey?! Who is Mr. Downey?! Did he bring me here?!”
    “Mr. Downey, stop. You’re too funny.” She walked over to a different plant and watered it. I walked down the hall by the maid and I caught a glimpse in a wall mirror. I was Robert Downey Jr. I fainted.
    I woke up in the same bedroom and a man was sitting in a chair near the bedside.
    “Ah. You’re awake. Are you feeling better?” The man asked.
    “Am I dreaming?” I asked.
    “No, Mr. Downey.”
    “Yes I am,” I said. “I am dreaming.” I got up and left the room. The man followed me out. I walked down the marble staircase and saw everything was in crisp detail. “This dream is very realistic.” I thought to myself. “I can do whatever I want,” I thought. “So I am going to fly.” I stuck out my arms and couldn’t fly. “I’m not very good at lucid dreaming anyways..” I thought.
    HOURS LATER
    It was in the middle of the night. I had lost the man hours ago. Near the end he was yelling at me looking worried, but I escaped. By this time I concluded I wasn’t dreaming. “Either I am completely insane, or I am heavily drugged with something,” I thought. There was no one around but I saw an old woman walking across the street. I went up to her. “Excuse me! Can you tell me who I am?”
    “Ah,” she said. “You look you are Robert Downey Jr., but you really aren’t.” I looked at her with great interest.
    “So you know what is happening to me?” I asked.
    “Yes I do, she said. Come with me.” I followed her for about half a mile and she brought me to a closed mall. We stopped near the entrance. “O.K,” she said. “You aren’t Mr. Downey, you are my long lost son!”
    “What?” I said.
    “Yes, you are my son!” The old woman looked at me with sparkling eyes. “Let me see your palms to be sure! I have been practicing palm reading!” she said.
    I ran away from her.
    I was soon standing on one side of the street. I saw a midget standing across from me on the other side. He was on the sidewalk. He was standing there staring at me. Soon his face got profusely red and he began screaming. His head blew up and I woke up.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Clever story, Russ. I like the way the MC knew it was a dream and was just waiting patiently for it to be over.

      One thing; the last sentence jarred me with the “blew up” / “woke up” combination. If that was the intent, good job. If you want to remove the effect, maybe replace “blew up” with “exploded”.

    • Reaper says:

      I love this. There are some missing words here and there and I would go with bold instead of all caps, but otherwise this is just amazing. The flow was perfect, the voice spot on. It was all a dream stories are judged harshly, and especially by me, but they do not do what you did. I realized a little before the end you were still describing a dream. That was the key, you ended at waking up and you didn’t try to convince me something very realistic was a dream, you convinced me something surreal was. So as a dream it was a unique and very believable take. Wonderful work.

  16. chrisbutcher says:

    Junkies love flows through my veins as the needle silently weeps and all all I want to do is dream of god’s angels. God’s beautiful angels…….
    The needle lies and so do I. I am no longer me. The me that once was – what could have been. My face, distorted and unrecognizable, is gaunt like the dying sun. I do not shine nor glow, I am dark as a chamber and crypt. I fall into shards of glass. I splinter like an emotional waterfall. I dream in a bed which is not mine as lazy and incoherent ideas cascade down upon me and I gaze at reflections that seem so stereotypical yet humane; knowing I am remembered as a cliche, a demon, an exorcised remnant and the power of Christ compels me. Amen.
    Awake. I am awake and dreaming. I dream and I sleep and I escape. I escape the solitude of red velvet lies. I am not real, nor are you or your tiny indiscretions and false beliefs. You are me, and I you. We are make believe and incoherent. But we do not lie though we lie together.
    Half truths entombed in the past – our time together.

    • jmcody says:

      Well, this was a trip — an interesting and unique perspective, a stream of semi-consciousness from a drugged out mind. I wasn’t sure if it was RDJr succumbing to the needle and believing he is mind melding with all of creation, or if it was a random junkie believing he is mind melding with all of creation, which I guess includes RDJr. It doesn’t have to make sense though. Points for bravery and novelty! :)

    • Reaper says:

      This had an amazing hypnotic quality. One of those pieces I can actually hear in a different voice in my mind and felt like it should have been quoted on the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Dark Side, or as the intro to a very deep seventies song. Just all around beautiful.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a good stream of consciousness piece, chrisbutcher. However, because there’s no reference back to the thinker, I can’t really see how it relates to the prompt unless I create the connection in my own mind.

      • chrisbutcher says:

        So much writing seems the same these days – easy, light, same old same old. I write confusion and chaos and stars and dreams. I don’t like easy answers. People need to think and create connections in their own minds. Use your own imagination. It means what you want it to mean. Thanks.

  17. Lady Grayish says:

    I wake up and stretch out carefully, only to frown at the unfamiliar feel of the fabric at my fingertips. The post-sleep fog of my brain is enough to keep panic at bay, at least until I accidentally roll off the bed and onto the floor. I stagger my way over to the nearest mirror and gape at the face that looked back at me. And then frown.

    Well. At least I was a man this time. Even if he was short and in need of a comb. And possibly hair dye. Brown was such an unattractive color on the male of the human species.

    But I am Flurtog the Azmarite, prime infiltrator, and I know better than to make too many overt changes to this meat-sack I wear. At least, not until my people rule the world.

    I squint at the image in the mirror, as if to help my memory. We were shown pictures of many famous humans on the mothership, but I don’t recall the name that goes with this one, or the career. Still, he must be important if he’s wearing a shirt with his own face on it. My fingers pick up the unfamiliar rectangular device on the end table and I “dial” the number I was given before exfiltration.

    “Mayor Filbin’s office. This is Mayor Filbin.” That was one of our worse mistakes, believing Thomas Filbin was an important politician. Hardly. The only thing the infiltrator was capable of doing was coordinating identity confirmation once the rest of us exfiltrated.

    But that doesn’t mean that the adrenaline isn’t wearing off and my transition is starting to become painful, which makes me snap. “Shangbad, who the krell am I? This guy is hideous.”

    Shangbad growls at me over the phone. “Not so loud! Some of us have covers to maintain. And give me a minute. There were a lot of exfiltrations today, and everybody wants to know who they are. Just let me check.” A pause. Bored, I look around the room and try to figure out why this man needs so many mirrors. “Flurtog, right? You’re somebody named Robert Downey Junior.”

    A moment’s pause, and it finally registers where I know the face from. I swore. “An actor?” I hung up before Shangbad could say anything else.

    I could hear his laughter anyway.

  18. icandootoo says:

    For one thing, the room is much nicer than it should be. Much nicer.

    It takes me a few minutes to realize that the face staring back at me in the mirror is most definitely not a woman.

    I examine the face in the mirror for a few minutes – a handsome face, no question – and ponder the possibilities. It’s responding to my thoughts. It’s frowning as I frown. It’s blinking and turning, and… and…. And it’s Robert Ironman Bloody Downey, Jr.’s face staring back at me in shock and horror.

    Somehow.

    If I’ve got his body….what is Robert doing with my body? Bet he didn’t like waking up in three day old sweats and a ratty 200 thread count sheet set.

    I wonder if he likes Cocoa Pebbles.

    I wander into Robert Downey, Jr.’s kitchen, and root around in Robert Lovely Downey, Jr.’s cupboard and find… Robert Downey Jr.’s Fruity Pebbles.

    Not bad, I think. Not quite what I’d have chosen, but, all the same…

    I sit, munching Robert Downey, Jr.’s cereal, with Robert Downey, Jr.’s teeth, and I smirk Robert Downey, Jr.’s famous smirk, because I have Robert Downey Jr.’s credit card.

    I do.

    And an undisclosed amount of time on my hands to buy lots of lovely clothing. Lacy, lovely, lady’s clothing.

    Which will most certainly make the clerks smirk.

    And will most definitely make the tabloids go crazy.

    Another bite and another sly grin.

    Most definitely.

    I make my way back to the bedroom to take a shower in Robert Downey Jr.’s marble bathroom.
    And there is an awkward moment, where I realize that I’m going to have to shower. Naked.

    And probably so is he, wherever he is.

    With my body.

    I run over to Robert Downey Jr.’s phone and dial my number.

    “It’s me,” I say.

    “We have an issue,” he says.

    “Ya’ think?” I gripe. “I’m going to figure out how to reverse this.”

    “You’d better.”

    I am suddenly irritated “And why is it up to me?”

    I hear a harrumph on the other side of the line. “I’m not a genius,” he says.

    “I just play one on TV,” I finish.

    We both laugh.

    “Actually,” I lie, “I’m not really familiar with your movies.” I don’t want to seem like a stalker.

    There is silence for several long minutes.

    “Except maybe Ironman 1 and 3.” I mumble.

    “But not 2?”

    “2 was crap.” Busted.

    “2 paid for those Italian sheets you woke up in,” he says, and I can hear the smirk over the phone. “What about Avengers?”

    Avengers. I ponder replying and really outing myself for the nerd/stalker he’s pegged me as.

    “I haven’t seen it,” I lie.

    “Right.” He still sounds like Tony Stark, even with my voice. “Don’t use my credit card,” he warns.

    “Don’t do anything pervy with my body,” I snip back.

    There is silence for several more minutes.

    “Seriously?”

    “Well, I did have to take a shower,” he says, “Those sweats were minging. And, well….”

    Interesting fact: Fruity Pebbles do not taste the same on the return trip.

  19. rle says:

    Okay, I’ll admit this prompt did very little to inspire me. That, along with the fact that I’ve been extremely busy with work stuff over the last couple of weeks, almost made me beg off on this one…almost. I did decide to color outside the lines on this a bit, but at least it’s short and sweet.
    ——————————
    SURRENDER

    The dull rhythmic buzzing from my alarm clock pierced the predawn darkness and I reluctantly sat up in my bed. It seemed that I’d drifted off only five minutes prior, but in reality, it had been almost five hours ago. I hadn’t slept enough this semester. My American History class was proving to be a killer and I had this one last chance to bring my solid B up to at least an A minus. I’d put everything I had into my final paper and although class didn’t start for another four hours, I wanted one last opportunity to pour over my work and assure myself it was as polished as I thought I’d left it the night before.

    I dragged my weary body to the bathroom and turned on the light. What I saw when I glanced at the mirror should have scared the life out of me, but I’d spent so much time with this man over the last six weeks, his presence there was almost soothing. Suddenly and somehow almost on cue, I felt my body being lifted up and pulled through the mirror and cast back into history nearly 150 years. I had become the subject of my paper.

    The air was cool and damp inside the heavy canvas tent that had been my temporary headquarters. It was early April and it had rained on and off for the last day or so and combined with the chill, did little to ease the stiffness in my joints.

    As I straightened my best uniform, I looked into a dingy mirror. Watery, war weary eyes looked back at me. Where were my warriors eyes? I knew the answer. They were lost as was this war. I buttoned the top button of my gray uniform coat and straightened my nearly white beard with my hand. This would be a difficult day, but I vowed to go out with dignity. War was hard, war was tragic, and war was never without a victor and victory, unfortunately, was not to be mine. We had fought the good fight against an army that was larger, better trained and better equipped than we were. We had enjoyed some small victories but our defeats had been crippling. My men were becoming fewer and fewer. Those that remained were tired, many were starving and all just wanted to go home.

    I picked up my sword and removed it from it’s sheath with the familiar swoosh of steel against leather. I held it high and watched the light dance on it’s blade. I quickly returned it to it’s scabbard at my side. I would not be needing it today but yet it would remain with me if only as a symbol of who I was. I was overcome with great sadness. This was the end.

    I turned on my heels and headed for the far side of the tent. I had an appointment at the home of Wilmer McClean. It wasn’t far. With that, I threw open the flap and stepped out into the cool Virginia morning.

    • Reaper says:

      Very nice coloring outside of the lines. The flow is amazing, the voice enthralling. This just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It is difficult to tell the prompt did not inspire if you had not mentioned it.

    • snuzcook says:

      A poignant look from behind the eyes of a man deeply respected by both sides of the Great Conflict. Nicely done, rle.

    • Observer Tim says:

      A very touching take on the War Between the States, rle. You seem to have really got into General Lee’s mind. The take was subtle and understated and very well told.

      I admit I had to look up the details to figure this one out. My Civil War includes Louis Riel, or possibly Oliver Cromwell.

    • jmcody says:

      This was great, rle. I love that you let the prompt inspire you in a different direction. I love historical fiction, especially when the fictional characters are mixed in with some real ones, like your general Lee here. Nicely done.

    • jhowe says:

      Well played rle. This was a great way to deal with this promt. I loved how the MC wasn’t surprised but soothed by what was seen in the mirror. Nice transition from the present to the historical past.

  20. Marie Therese Knepper says:

    Since I’ve nothing pressing to do, I’m indulging myself in another go at this prompt. This was actually my first idea.

    The Importance Of Being Understood
    by Marie-Therese Knepper

    “Mmmm.” I burrow my face more deeply into the soft satin pillow, willing away conscious thought. I let out a giggle at the realization I’m actually purring.

    I open my eyes at the revelation that Robert may not be quite so pleased with my rapturous intonations. I’m all alone in his Iron Man sized bed. A quick scan of the room – larger than my 1 bedroom flat – tells me Robert may not even know I’m here. Spying a full length mirror, I decide to see what might need some freshening.

    Throwing off the bedclothes, my attention is drawn to the warm swell between my legs.

    “Yeow!” Horrified by the one-eyed snake bobbing against my groin, I decide to bypass the mirror and head straight for the bathroom. Locked safely inside, I venture a glance in the vanity mirror. Robert Downey, Jr. meets my stupefied gaze.

    “Genie.” No response. “Genie,” I yell a little louder. “Get your sorry ass in here this instant.”

    I recognize the familiar puff of air in my face as the Genie materializes. He gives me a once over, smiles, and bows his head in amused reverence.

    “How may I serve you?” he coos.

    “Genie, what is the meaning of this?” I wave my hand over my overtly masculine body to accentuate my pointed question.

    The Genie bubbles, “May I say, you are looking particularly fit.”

    “What I’m not looking particularly like is myself!” I cry.

    “I’m not following you, Madame. I gave you exactly what you wished for.” The Genie looks genuinely puzzled.

    “You most certainly did not!” I bellow. “How is this -” I once again gesture to my idol’s body – “what I asked for?”

    The Genie confidently replies, “Madame, you wished to wake up in bed as Robert Downey, Jr.”

    I feel my blood starting to boil, only it’s now Robert Downey Jr.’s testosterone filled blood. I grab the big oaf by his garishly ruffled shirt and slam him up against the unforgiving tiled wall.

    “I said in bed WITH Robert Downey Jr., you moron, not AS.”

  21. cosivantutte says:

    I tried to post this story yesterday, but it didn’t go through. So, I’m trying again.

    This is the absolute worst brand of awful.

    I am Brittany St. George, Queen of Fabulosity. Long blonde hair. To-die-for blue eyes. Perfect nose. Perfect lips. Perfect all over. I am the one all of the needy ugly kids in school want to be. Oh, they never will be me, of course. It just isn’t possible.

    It’s Carlita’s fault that this happened. Carlita deVilrose is my BFF. Or she was yesterday. Today, she is off my BFF list and she’s never getting back on it. Not even if she sends me twelve million apology texts.

    Yesterday, during Chemistry Boredom Hour, Carlita slipped a brown paper bag to me and whispered, “Use this. It will change your life!” I didn’t want or need to change my life. But my curiosity was like a suicidal cat or stupid Pandora. I wanted to know. I wanted to see what it would do.

    After I came home from school, I took the bag up to my room and tore it open. And the mysterious, life changing prize was—a facial mask. Oh. My. Gosh. Was this Carlita’s idea of a joke? I never use facial masks. I don’t need them. I don’t use them. But my curiosity poked me with a sharp stick. Why not try it?

    So, I tried it. Worst idea ever. It felt like lumpy cake batter and smelled like rancid ranch dressing. Gross and grosser.

    I went to bed and had to lay flat on my back. So not my idea of comfortable, but I did not want that slop to contaminate my pillow. I fell asleep, thinking of the many ways I’d get back at Carlita if this stuff ruined my complexion.

    I had the weirdest dreams all night. A flying dream melded into a dream about taking a walk with Charlie Chaplin into a dream about solving crimes and smoking a pipe into a dream about a detective who sang woeful love songs to a hospital bed.

    I woke up with a category 12 headache and a general feeling of not-rightness. I got out of bed and straggled into the bathroom. I washed my face.

    Something was wrong. My face felt larger than usual and my skin felt so horribly coarse. And my chin…Was that stubble? I looked up at the mirror.

    Robert Downey Jr.’s reflection looked back at me.

    I screamed loud and manly. This was the worst! The absolute worst! I don’t even like Robert Downey Jr. Oh, Carlita would pay dearly for this.

    • jhowe says:

      Pretty cool story there cosivantutte. The valley girl attitude was really good. You made her annoying but still a little likeable. I’m glad you were able to get it to post. I loved Chemistry Boredom Hour.

      • cosivantutte says:

        Thanks!

        I’d read the other posted stories and wanted to do something a little different. And actually, it is a different sort of story for me. It has only one line of dialogue and it wasn’t even said by the main character.

    • jmcody says:

      Great characterization. I disliked your MC by the second paragraph. I also enjoyed the irony of Carlita giving her something that would change her life since she apparently believed that everyone wanted to be her.

      Like your name! Are you an opera fan or an Italian speaker making a point about women? :)

      • cosivantutte says:

        I am an opera fan. My favorite opera is Barber of Seville but I chose cosivantutte as my code name because I liked the looks of it.

        In the story, I slipped in a reference to four of Robert Downey Jr.’s movies. Can you guess which ones they are?

    • Reaper says:

      Love the story. Your characterization is amazing. You did it very well with only that one line of dialogue. You definitely made me dislike your MC, but that youthful arrogance also made her sympathetic because as much as I wanted to find her irredeemable I plead ignorance on her behalf to the jury in my mind.

      • cosivantutte says:

        Thanks for the compliments!

        Maybe I’m kind of weird, but I think it’s funny that people here dislike her. I wasn’t really trying to make her likable or unlikable. She just is who she is. Young and kind of full of herself.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Hi cosivantutte; I usually comment on the last post in a series, but my comment is attached to the middle one (sigh). To encapsulate: beautiful voice, surprising take, welcome to the site! :)

    • k.spicer says:

      I think I went to school with her. Nice job.

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Way to go cosivantutte! Welcome to WD!!!

  22. Reaper says:

    Okay, completely not on this prompt. This is the continuation from the group story started by me and continued to amazing effect by Jay, Bilbo, and with another contribution from myself. To preface this, my mind has turned this into a novel with those five parts, followed by chapters of about equal length that follow Saner and end up here, which is… well you’ll see. Thank you for indulging me in this and if you haven’t, to make complete sense of this you will need to return to World Cup Madness and read the first five parts.

    One Alone – My Participation Trophy VI

    How could I have been so wrong?

    I thought he was scared, thought I was in control.

    “Look where we are now.”

    I tried to sound suave, to feel calm. Instead, as always, in his presence I became the scared child he pulled from a burning building. Phantom gasoline odor filled my nose. In contrast he sounded completely at ease. Sweaty and taped to a chair he emanated the poise of a robber baron holding court.

    “Think it through son.”

    “Don’t call me that!”

    I lost my cool, driving the knife into the desk. I reached into his jacket to pull the silver straight razor from within. It was his signature. When an underlying got out of hand he used it to resolve the problem. He kept it with him even after he “retired”.

    I opened the antiquated blade and held it to reflect his eyes in the polished surface. I wanted him to see the fear in them. There was none, instead there was serene acceptance of the inevitable. He beat me to breaking the silence.

    “I never stopped loving you, Sebastian.”

    “Lies.” Emotion robbed me of screams and returned whispers.

    “No. Did you ever ponder that goal? A terrible shot slipping by one of the world’s best tenders? All it took to buy your victory was a forgiveness of gambling debts.”

    “You justified your butchery by allowing me to win?” Something was wrong.

    “You got sloppy, forgot the cameras on that first kill. What he told you; what is my name?”

    “Sammy Sa…” Where was he leading me?

    “No!” He seethed. “Not Sammy the Salamander. You have been wronged and I accept your vengeance, but it must be true. My Christian name?”

    “Samuel Saner.” Realization began to dawn.

    “Yes. I was not the only Saner hurt when you broke your promise and left surrogate father and blushing bride high and dry. What is my daughter’s name?”

    “Samantha… Sweet Sam… Oh shit, Sammy.”

    “Very good, now finish it son. You’re not safe no matter what.”

    I raised the straight razor and cut twice. The sick sound of ripping accompanied the parting of the tape as I let him free. Samuel once told me a child should not pay for the sins of his parents. I guess I believe a parent should not be punished for the crimes of their child.

    I turned towards the door, picking up the knife as I went. Stopping at the door I let his razor clatter to the floor. It would do no good on my coming mission. I spared one look back and left him with a promise.

    “I owe you for your son.” I knew what it was like to senselessly lose a child. Words would never be enough. “I have business to finish, but once I’m done with Samantha, for good or ill, I will return and you can finish your business with me.”

    It’s not like there would be anything left to live for after that anyway.

    • flaboba says:

      I absolutely must read the other parts. This is compelling and leaves me with a thousand questions.

    • Well…. this took me by surprise. I was expecting a slow, gritty…. dissection, let’s say, but instead I found myself staring into a veritable plot twist. You used your earlier motifs and suspenseful sentences to great effect. Excellent work, Reaper. Another mission is at hand!

    • vaderize03 says:

      I was definitely not expecting this. You left me wanting more, Reaper.

      Hurry up and finish it! Seriously, a great piece. I really enjoyed it.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Totally off-prompt, totally entertaining, and totally captivating. Great story, Reaper.

    • jmcody says:

      This was incredibly shrewd. You tied in all the previous plot twists and themes. and then brought it to a new level that made everything gel into a cohesive whole. In a word, masterful. Bravo, maestro!

    • Damn Reaper… where are you going with this?! :) So, let me get this straight. He left Pappa Saner and his then (wife or girlfriend?) Samantha saner, and took the child with him? Or, he left them, and found a life elsewhere, whereupon he mat another woman, had his daughter with that woman, and out of jealousy and vengeance, Samantha killed the daughter to clear it all up? Poor Samuel… I mean, he’s a bad dude, but now I feel all sorry for him. haha

      What’s next?!

    • snuzcook says:

      I thought I had already commented on this, but looks like I forgot to hit post.
      Reaper, I applaud the entire exercise of the story written by many hands–in and of itself collaboration like this speaks volumes about the participants and the original creator.

      The twists and turns in the plot are very satisfying–
      If I have it right, Samuel was the mentor and a pretty bad guy, but when the MC decided to follow a different path and play soccer, marry and have a family away from the dark side, the hardly-noticed peer Samantha harbored a deep, secret resentment. She managed to exact her revenge through the deaths of those innocents closest to the MC, pushing him over the edge to commit his own atrocities in the name of vengence. He is confronted in this segment by the possibility (if Samuel is being entirely honest) that he has been after the wrong person and committed murders of innocents out of mistaken identity. Now he is re-setting his compass to go after the real villain, with only one irrefutable ultimate resolution.

      Dark, twisted and provocative. Leaves me wondering what will happen next, because I don’t believe the twists have stopped coming yet.
      Wow!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        A following sentence after snuzcook above “” and neither do I. I feel you have at a very minimum, a novella, so go for it. Start at the very beginning, let the words fly, flesh it out. I for one would really like to read it [charltonkerry@aol.com]

  23. Alexander Edmondson says:

    “Waking Robert Downey Jr.”

    “My head is killing me. Who set the damn alarm clock?”
    He leaned over and smashed it with his hand. The frame was broken but it was still going off. With his current condition, it seemed as though each ring was louder than the one before it. He smashed it again and again until the screams of the alarm clock silenced forever.”
    “Thank you, God. Wait a minute. I don’t own a blue alarm clock.”
    Then he turned to look at the bed he was in.
    “And I damn sure don’t have white bed sheets. Maybe I do and I just don’t remember them. Damn my head is killing me. I’ll go to the bathroom and splash some water on my face.”
    He got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. He reached for the faucet and slowly turned it on. One splash of cold water followed by another and another. He reached for the towel and quickly dried his wet skin. When he removed the towel from his eyes, he jumped back. He nearly fell into the shower behind him.
    “What the fuck? Calm down. Calm down. You’re still tired and you’re seeing things. Just fix yourself some coffee and wake yourself up.”
    He stepped out of the bathroom and took a careful look around the bedroom. The wallpaper, carpet, chairs, table, photos, etc. He didn’t recognize anything in there. He walked out of the bedroom and into the rest of the house. He stepped into a large hallway with a giant window at the end. He ran to the window and looked out. Outside was a beach and the ocean stretched for miles from end to end.
    “Where the fuck am I?”
    He turned to his right and there was another mirror and that’s when he saw it again. The person staring back at him was not himself. It was another man. It was an iron man. It was Robert Downey Jr.
    “Why in the hell do I look like Robert Downey Jr.?”
    It was Robert Downey Jr.’s hair, eyes, lips, etc. Before he could even comprehend what was going on. The phone rang. For a moment, he hesitated. He was in another man’s home and in his bed. The mirror might have shown him to be this man but he knew he was not him. The phone kept ringing and ringing and the man just stood there. Finally, he walked over to the phone and answered it.
    “Hello?”
    “Who’s this?”
    “Who’s this?”
    “This is Robert Downey Jr. To whom am I speaking?”
    “I don’t know. Look all I know is that I woke up this morning in a strange place and I keep seeing your reflection in the mirror.”
    “That’s funny.”
    “Why is that funny?”
    “I too woke up this morning in a strange place. Well, stranger than some of the places I have woken up in. I got out of bed and noticed that it wasn’t my bed. It wasn’t even my own home. I went to the bathroom to shake the lizard and you’ll never guess what I saw in the mirror.”
    “What did you see?”
    “We’ll I can tell you what I didn’t see. I didn’t see me.”

    • snuzcook says:

      Of course if RDJr woke up somewhere else looking like someone else, he would call his private line at home. Of course the person he had switched places with would be there and pick up. The story led the reader to that point very well.
      A nice take on the prompt. The last line summed it up perfectly.

    • Reaper says:

      The flow on this was serene and yet strange, which was perfect for the story. I love your last line, just awesome. If I were to suggest any change it would be to remove that last in from, Well, stranger than some of the places I have woken up in. That one word was a little jarring with the rest of the flow, which as I mentioned is superb.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a great take, Alexander. You handled the transition from morning groggy to unreal situation groggy masterfully. And it was very clever of the original Robert to call him.

    • jmcody says:

      I agree this flowed well, although I kept thinking he was talking to himself, which would suggest some sort of delusional state. I think you meant for us to hear his thoughts though. I fully understand if you couldn’t figure out how to italicize … It’s not obvious and involves HTML. I enjoyed the MC’s struggle to figure out if he should answer the phone. This was lighthearted and fun.

  24. snuzcook says:

    Self-indulgently over word limit. Please feel free to ignore in favor of shorter responses.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY

    The luxury of the hotel suite provided by my client is lost on me as I take a steamy three minute shower to loosen up, throw my clothes on and dash out the door. I never unpack when I arrive, so nothing will ever be left behind. I live light and fast, nothing extraneous, no surprises.

    My contracts require anonymity and speed. Today will be a simple bump and run. The target will never even remember we touched until ten minutes later when he will be rushed to the hospital with what appears to be a mild heart attack, and the implant he has been secretly carrying around will be retrieved.

    I go out the back stairs of the hotel. The non-lethal injector disguised as a piece of metal trim on my bag is primed and ready. I walk quickly toward the intercept location.

    Something is wrong. Almost immediately, people on the street are turning to look at me. I normally blend into the crowd, but today I am drawing attention to myself. I see two women stop and stare, whispering. A man walking his dog follows me with his eyes. A couple look at me with a look of recognition. I experience the awakening of unfamiliar panic.

    Passing the dark glass of an office complex, I see my reflection. I slow down. I stop and stare in disbelief, and immediately people begin to close in. “Isn’t that Robert Downey, Jr.?” Blocking out the crowd gathering around me, I regard the uncanny illusion reflected back. I truly look like the famous actor that these people believe me to be. The burner phone in my pocket vibrates. No one should have this number. I look at the text. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

    My brother, Miles–the only person in the world who has a hook in me, the only person who knows me so intimately and has sophisticated enough tools to carry off this kind of transformation undetected. He is the only enemy capable of screwing me so completely. Miles is devoted to thwarting me in whatever way he can, with full knowledge of the consequences of his actions.

    I am surrounded by adoring fans who believe I am Robert Downey, Jr. All I can do is play along. A block away I see my target getting into a cab. I have missed my rendezvous. The price for failure in the game of high altitude stakes I play is non-negotiable. Anyone in the crowd of adoring fans could be a watcher, or worse, could be there to neutralize me. I have to stall for time.

    I see a familiar face, identical to the face I should be seeing in my reflection instead of this celebrity. He wears a smug grin, confident that he is safe in this crowd. “I hope you like my birthday present,” he says. He frowns at the suitcase, which I put down as he approaches.

    “Well played,” I say. I hold out my empty hands. The fans watch in envy as we shake, not understanding the slightest bit what is going on.

    Through his grin, he says, “Our friend is on his way to a clinic I know. We’ll take care of him.” I nod, resigned to what must be. “Better luck next time.” He adds, and walks away.

    “Happy birthday to you, too.” I whisper. The slightly sticky chemical compound I transferred to his wrist will be absorbed within two minutes. I sign a few autographs and mingle with the crowd, making the most of the time I can be protected by the human shield of adoring fans. A MedicOne unit passes, its siren and lights drawing everyone’s attention briefly to a small commotion up the block.

    I turn and go the other direction, excusing myself from the fans. Now whatever happens will happen. But at least I will know that Miles did not win.

    • flaboba says:

      Unexpected and chilling ending.

    • seliz says:

      I loved this! I was instantly drawn into the conflict between Miles and the MC. It leaves me wondering what could have gone so wrong between them to make them such hated enemies.

    • Reaper says:

      Just wow. I was drawn in by the vocabulary of this one. The story so intense and horrible. I am left wanting to know more about this world, this game, and these brothers. You are so on with this one, not that you’re ever off but this is an amazing level.

      • Marie Therese Knepper says:

        You gave me The Heisman with your over-word-limit warning. I’m glad I blocked.
        I don’t count words, so I don’t know how many words you are over the limit. I tell you, reading this story was effortless. Every word was essential to your finely written work.

        • snuzcook says:

          I’m glad you ignored my caveat, MTK! It comes from a sincere realization that sometimes there’s just not enough time to read all the stories, much less the longer ones.
          Thank you for your comments. You let me off the hook beautifully!

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Reaper!
        I just now had a chance to go back and read parts I thru VI of the Trophy series, and I can see that there is a thread of extremely un-filial behavior being described in the families showing up in the prompt responses.
        Interesting…

    • jmcody says:

      This was so intriguing, and as well written as always. The word “elegant” always comes to mind when I read your work. So much subtext was conveyed so effectively. I could picture this being the opening scene of a sci fi thriller — one that I would actually read. Fantastic!

      • snuzcook says:

        Oh, I like ‘elegant’! */\_/\*
        I do like this one myself for its potential to go other places. Twins diametrically opposed from birth, geniuses with sociopathic tendencies and driven by a struggle for dominance. (Must have come from a bad day at the day care years ago that has been marinating in my memory for much too long.)
        Thank you for your feedback. I always appreciate your observations!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is great, snuzcook. I can see where this would be utterly confusing to the crowd; either that or it might be seen as the ultimate publicity stunt.

      I am brought to mind of a verbally-drawn (and more detailed) version of Spy vs. Spy. I wonder who’s going to win next time; after all, what’s a little poison between “friends”.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, O.Tim.
        Here’s how I had it in my head: The only thing the crowd sees is an unexpected close encounter with a celebrity on the street. Yipee! They are milling around, jostling to get his autograph. Then this guy walks up and RDJ shakes hands with him, lucky stiff, and they even exchange words about a mutual friend.
        A very short few minutes later, an aid car zips by to something just up the block, and RDJ leaves headed the other direction. No one but the reader knows what has happened.
        Love your connecting it with Spy vs Spy!

    • jhowe says:

      As one of your fans, I always seek out and read your stories and I am never disappointed. There are many writers on here whose stories are always anticipated and you are near if not at the top. I can see a novel concept for this scenerio. Nicely done.

  25. Resnir says:

    Here we go!
    —————————
    I was once a hamster like all of you, small, cute fuzzy, and I loved eating carrots and sleeping the days away in my hamster ball. But then, everything changed when he came along.

    I knew that things were off about him, and though he called himself Doctor Igstein, I knew better with that crazy white hair and always wearing goggles indoors and out. He was visiting the family of the little girl I belonged to, and he seemed nice at first, that is, until dinner time came. While everyone was in the dining room, he quickly slipped me into his black bag of death and I was spirited away.

    But before we go any further, you may be asking, if I’m a hamster, how am I writing this? I mean, I probably don’t even have opposing thumbs or paws big enough to hit keys. Plus, I don’t know English. Well, the truth is, I’m not a hamster anymore. I know, it’s sad. But now that that’s cleared up, we can continue.

    So this so called doctor took me to this evil lab where he strapped me to a table. There were other animals here too. I remember seeing a small, sad dog, a hissing cat and a foxy looking fox (Yowzah!) But I didn’t get to talk to any of them, because at that moment, I was being experimented on.

    Strapped down next to me was a man in his boxers, and I vaguely remember the man’s name being Robert. He seemed alright with the situation, which was not the case for me. But then the anesthetics set in and the next thing I knew, I was sleeping in an actual bed! I’m just as confused as you are to what happened, but I guess that good for nothing doctor really did something-well, bad.

    Anyways, I knew something was different right off the bat because, well, I had fingers! It took a while before I got the hand of walking on two feet, and even then, I knocked over a good number of expensive looking vases. When I got to the mirror, I saw with shock that I was a human! And not any human, I was the Robert guy I mentioned earlier. It was a whole new frontier for me, and before I could make my way back to the bed on all fours, someone walked in.

    “Mr. Junior, we have the information for the next-Oh my goodness, so sorry sir, I-I didn’t know you were-were still…changing, I’ll just let myself out.” By this time, I was on the bed, looking at her. She just turned around and bustled out. And that’s when I realized that humans wear clothes! I had seen the little girl do it plenty of times. But what to put on? I had no idea how to human.

    Sixteen tries and seventy three knots later, I made a robe out of the bed sheets. I was not an easy task, especially when you have ten different fingers moving all willy-nilly. The lady walked back in and talked to me about some conference. Of course, I didn’t know what was going on, so I just stared into the distance silently. Finally, the part of the morning I had been expecting: BREAKFAST!

    But it wasn’t my breakfast. There was some white and yellow stuff along with some bread and tomatoes. I preferred carrots, but I didn’t care. I was hungry. What was I supposed to do? The lady watched me all strangely like eating it without using your hands was the wrong way to do things. Don’t judge it until you’ve tried it, am I right?

    The rest of the day, I walked around on two feet and shook hands with a bunch of people. But they were on to me. Maybe it was because my robe only went down to the stomach and no further. A lot of people just gasped as I walked past them. What’s so interesting between my legs anyways? Geez.

    The next couple of days went on like that, and I finally learned how to put on clothes. Then I got to do something called a “movie shoot.” Strange things these humans invent. Apparently, I am idolized as a god of this generation, something they call “Iron Man.” I don’t know anything about it, but I’m not made of iron. Maybe they just made a mistake.

    There was one problem, and that was I couldn’t talk. And of course, they caught up eventually, and strapped me back into that seat. I mean, it was a good thing! I was going to be a hamster again! But when I next woke up, here I was all human. But this time, there’s a human presence, a man’s mind kicking me out, and I know I won’t have long.

    Sooner or later, my hamster self will die and it’ll be like I never existed. I can’t let that happen. This is my final record, all my thoughts and experiences thus far. I hope that I will not be forgotten.

    Man, I wish I got that fox’s number.
    ———————-
    Feedback and Comments welcome.

    • seliz says:

      What a funny and interesting take on the prompt. Oh, the struggles of being human.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I’ve never been fond of hamsters – until now.
      Exceptionally entertaining.

    • snuzcook says:

      Never would have imagined a Kia mascot when I read this week’s prompt challenge. Wonderfully creative story. As far fetched and tongue in cheek as it is, I found myself wanting to know more–what was the reason for the experiment, who would benefit from the exchange, would the little girl get a super smart and somewhat high-maintenance replacement pet? Very funny images. Fun read.

    • Reaper says:

      Very nice. There are some editing things and a couple of small tense changes but I actually don’t know if that was intentional. In this case they lent very well to your hamster voice. Other than not being sure why Robert would be okay with the experiment, which just leads me to wanting to know more, this was as believable as could be. With your opening I kept laughing because I imagined being a hamster reading this on the bottom of my cage.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is totally surreal, Resnir. I really like it.

    • jmcody says:

      So this is where actors come from. For most of the story it was bothering me that your hamster was retelling his story rather than showing it happening — until he said that this was the final record of his dying hamster mind. That’s when it all clicked. Very imaginative and fun story. I would be interested In finding out what happened to the original RDJr though. Did he become a hamster?

  26. flaboba says:

    “Downey”

    “Look, Daddy! Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.”

    It must have been the kid in the trailer next door watching the tube.
    I rolled over and couldn’t help seeing myself in the mirror, because you know I had them mirror the ceiling, and I thought, who am I anyway?

    “Aaaaaaassssshhhhole!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

    That idiot poked his head through the trailer door.
    “You called, Mr. D?”

    “Did your mother drop you on your head when you were born?”

    I love the look on their faces when they don’t know if it’s rhetorical or not. I could almost see the pee dribbling down his shorts.

    “You know what I hate, boy?” I continued.

    “Uh, no sir.” I could tell by his demeanor that he needed to be schooled.

    “I hate that trench mouth feeling the day after. I hate the taste of undigested fermentation coated in the tar of a thousand cigarettes oozing from my pores. And God, I hate that fucking chemical-laden, post-nasal drip.”

    It was obvious by the look on his face that he was dumbfounded. I just kept going. He shrank like a flower in the desert sun.

    “But, do you know what I hate more than all these put together? I fucking hate, with a capitol “fuck this garbage” hate, Frank Capra movies. That God damned weasel should be shot on sight,” I continued.

    “I hate retards that get millions of dollars to make bullshit that the sheeple eat up like fringe dwelling, grape juice drinking boobs in Guyana. Let me ask you something. Do I look evil to you? Speak up boy!”

    “Yyyes,sir I mean no, sir,” he stammered.

    By this time he whimpered like a pussy. I also threw an ashtray at him, you know, for effect.

    Robert motioned for the waiter to bring another bottle of champagne.

    “Do go on, darling,” one of the women prompted.

    Well, then I read him the riot act.

    “Everyone who knows me knows I have a few, perhaps detailed, but always reasonable, demands.”

    The women nodded, transfixed.

    “Number one: Slice the lox into small strips before putting them on the bagel. How difficult is this, really? They must get every single person who works at craft services from the short bus. Jesus H Christ on a stick!”

    One of the men at the table gestured in recognition of his plight.

    “Number two: Never, ever address me by name when I’m on set. If I want to be your bff, I’ll let you know. Till then, please respect my work and my craft, and fuck the hell off.”

    “Here, here.” One of the men raised his glass.

    “Number three: Boil the water. Let it sit for exactly two and one half minutes before opening the humidor. Do not, and I repeat do not, open the humidor before that or I will kill you. Remove the peppermint tea pouch, and rip it without getting your God damned finger oils all over the bag. Let it steep for no more than 90 seconds.”

    I watched him turn five increasingly pale shades of white. It was breathtaking.

    “Are you writing this down, boy?” I screamed.

    “Number four, never speak of that asshole in my presence. Do you understand me, boy?”

    His eyes were getting red.

    “Do I need to spell it out for you son?” I started out very calmly and gradually increased my volume till he looked like he was going to throw up.

    “C-A-P-R-A. Get it?” By the end I was screaming so loud drool was flying from the corners of my mouth.

    Everyone at the table was collapsing in fits of giggles.

    “And that, ladies and gentleman is how to break in a P.A.,” Robert noted smugly.

    “Fuck him if he can’t take a joke,” added one gentleman.

    • flaboba says:

      I guess this would have been more aptly named, “The Taming of the Crew.”

    • snuzcook says:

      You’ve created a monster here, flaboba. Fun and thoroughly despicable caricatures, altogether too familiar to anyone who has known a bully–or been a bully. “And that, ladies and gentlemen…” is a wonderful punchline. Also enjoy your alternate title.

    • Reaper says:

      Brutal with nobody likable, though I do have empathy for those tormented. Is there a scene break in here? I assume the opening and the restaurant are different but am not sure. This flowed like a dream where you start in one place and are suddenly in another. If I am missreading I apologize, if not I would suggest some dashes or something to separate the two.

      • flaboba says:

        Thank you Snuzcook. It was deviously fun to write.

        Reaper, it was difficult for me to wrap my head around how to set the scene correctly so yes I agree it needs adjustments and clarity. I laughed at your “nobody likeable” comment. I take that as a compliment. :)

        He’s actually at dinner, telling his cohorts about his torment of the P.A. beginning with him lying in the trailer and hearing the line from “It’s a Wonderful Life” coming from the TV next door.

    • jmcody says:

      I seriously hope R.D. does not treat Edwin this way! :)

      This was exquisitely, painfully ugly. Poor P.A. I almost cried myself. What’s interesting about this scene is how the hangers-on encourage and condone this awful behavior — a dynamic we have all witnessed in real life.

      Aside from the small bit of confusion with the scene (I also thought it switched from a trailer to a restaurant), this was well written, and you really made me despise Robert Downey Jr.

      • flaboba says:

        Thank you for reading and for your comments jmcody. It was a twistedly entertaining challenge to conjure such a sadistic socio. Although I must confess, having spent some time in those circles (not with Robert D J) I have seen these types up close.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very original and unsympathetic take, flaboba. I loved the way it all came together; but then, it is the MC telling a story (now that I’ve read your comments).

    • jhowe says:

      I liked this. The dialog was like what Elmore Leonard would write; clear and realistic, staying true to how a person with too much ego would talk. Great job.

  27. seliz says:

    Night Watcher
    —————————

    Darkness lifts as my eyes snap open. A surge of energy rushes through me as I push myself out of bed. Faded blue carpet meets my feet as I bound to the mirror.

    Then I freeze, mouth hanging open.

    But it’s not my mouth.

    That much I was expecting.

    Today is initiation day. The day I prove myself as a shape shifter and show my teachers everything I’ve learned at the academy. If all goes as planned, I’ll be promoted to Night Watcher—the most elite guardian in our clan of shifters. God knows I’ve worked hard enough for it.

    What I didn’t expect was to recognize the face in the mirror.

    I wanted to be a strong contender for initiation day. Images of someone with lean muscles, dark features, and aged experience flitted into my mind as I shifted. I must have focused on the last person I’d seen with those features as I changed—Iron Man or in my case, Robert Downey Jr.

    I’m screwed.

    I don’t have time to shift into someone less conspicuous for initiation. Shifting takes days—if not weeks—to contort into a different body. If I force myself to shift faster, I’ll be at risk of going into shock or worse, organ failure.

    “Zane? You up yet?”

    Stifling a groan, I open the door. A petite woman with lean muscles peers up at me with a sly smile.

    “I thought I’d end up taller,” Faygen says with a shrug. “Looks like you had issues shifting, too.”

    “What—no. I—uh—meant to do this. You ready?”

    The first part of initiation is simple. I trained for years. Fighting is second nature to me. I dodge punches, land kicks, and pierce armor with sharpened blades.

    It’s the second part of initiation I dread.

    I need to assimilate into the community. I can’t be a guardian if I draw attention to myself. How could I let myself shift into Robert Downey Jr? But there’s no turning back. I walk through the city with my eyes down and shoulders hunched.

    “Robert, over here!”

    I groan.

    Screams of, “Robert!” and “Iron Man!” pierce the air. I refuse to look up. Eyes plastered on my feet, I push through the crowd.

    “Hey, no cuts,” someone yells . “There’s a line to meet Iron Man. Back off.”

    My head jerks up in shock. The real Robert Downey Jr. stands in front of a crowd of people, a wide smile on his face. I can’t believe my luck. A grin splits across my face as I hurry back to the academy.

    The judges stare at me in amazement when I walk in. No one expected me to make it through the city without being noticed. Hell, I didn’t expect to!

    “I don’t think there’s any question. Everyone, meet our new Night Watcher.”

    The judges lead me before the other initiates and thundering applause meets my ears. Faygen stands out from the crowd with her blushing smile. I feel like a celebrity in my own right.

    • Reaper says:

      Seliz this was a wonderful take on the prompt. I was pulled into the world you created and fond of the characters very quickly. I also like your take on shifters and the time it takes to do it properly. Rich and compelling I could read a book or series in this reality and be very happy to do so.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      How clever you are! Nice job.
      Question: did you choose the name Faygen as a nod to another character?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Sharp writing Seliz. I’m also curious about Faygen. First paragraph is a powerful but subtle hook. Nice job there. Shifter? I learn stuff every day. I’m about up to 1985 now. Only thirty years behind, but I’m catching up.

      • seliz says:

        Heh. Well, funny story. Faygen is actually the last name of someone I know. But it was catchy, so I used it as the first name for a character in a short story I wrote. Then I used it here, because I felt that in the shifter world, they wouldn’t have the “typical” names.

        • Marie Therese Knepper says:

          I wondered if Faygen was a nod to Fagan from Oliver Twist. I think it’s noteworthy, even though you didn’t intentionally name your Faygen after Dicken’s Fagan, that both Fagans (sp) sent their students to mingle unnoticed among the crowds, and both train their pupils to take some things of value from their targets; in the case of your Watcher, the theft of Robert’s identity.

    • snuzcook says:

      Add my voice to the admiration of the shifter concept for this prompt. It’s an intriguing realm to explore, and you have introduced it in this story extremely well.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, this was so smooth and smart, and so well thought out. I would read this too, which is high praise as I hardly ever read sci-fi. I also liked the name Faygen, and I appreciate it when authors go to the trouble to give their characters distinctive or significant names. Very well done, Seliz.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This was rich and clever, Seliz. I can just see a novice shifter making this kind of mistake. Brilliant (and extremely lucky) save on the part of the MC. This also sets up a great conflict-filled second chapter where Faygen (love that name) has to go out on the job and hit reality like a bird against a window.

    • agnesjack says:

      I enjoyed this a lot, seliz. Loved the concept.

  28. vaderize03 says:

    Had morning already come?

    I didn’t want to believe it, but the sunlight washing over my face would not be denied. I sat up and lifted the lids, my eyes darting back-and-forth like a pair of intoxicated marbles. A signal from below said it was time to hit the head, and I drifted to my feet. With a yawn, I gently sponged last night’s rain-curtain from the windshield of my vision and looked around.

    This wasn’t my room.

    A scratchy squeak escaped my throat, like the gasp of a mouse caught in a hungry cat’s jaws, and I fell back on the bed…but that wasn’t right either. Gone was the soft down and silk sheets of home, replaced instead by a flimsy, plastic-wrapped rectangle that pressed into my back like a ball of gnarled fingers. Heart racing, I took stock of my surroundings, but found nothing familiar. The cinder-block walls, painted snow white, pressed down on me in a blinding embrace. There were no windows, and the concrete floor was plainer than the voice of Ben Stein. My lungs clawed the air, and I started to scream.

    As the sound pierced my ears, the rain-curtain returned, followed by the sensation of an elevator descending.

    I was going to faint.

    Without thinking, I lay back on the bed and raised my legs, like dad had taught when he returned from Iraq. He was gone now, but his advice lived on; gradually, the sensation passed. Over the next several minutes, I worked my way back to the sitting position. I still had to go, and the door wasn’t far. I took a deep breath, and ascended a second time. The blood pressure held, and I started to walk.

    Left foot first, then right. That’s it, you can do it. Piece of cake. As I approached the entrance to the strange little room, it occurred to me that it might be locked. If that turned out to be the case, well, there was always the corner. I grinned; nothing wrong with a little ‘pop-and-squat’, at least according to dad’s pearls of wisdom. Shame he was gone; I missed the wit almost as much as I missed the man. He had a saying for everything, my dad, except death. Guess he didn’t know how it make it laugh the day it decided to crash the party. Oh well.

    The door loomed, and my arm swung up to grasp the handle. To the left, a silver mirror caught my reflection and promptly sent it roaring back. At the sight, my mouth, already dry, promptly went from desert to moonscape.

    I was Robert Downey Jr.

    I blinked, but the reflection did not change. What the fuck? I don’t even like him, now I’m wearing his skin? I started towards the glass, fist raised, and heard the door unlock behind me. I swung around, and watched as a mousy man in a midnight-black suit stepped through.

    “What’s going on?” I asked.
    He smiled. “You’re having a schizoid embolism.”
    Oh, so that explained it. Not. “I see. And where is this? A mental hospital?”
    He let the door close. “Actually, it’s supposed to be a four-star hotel, but your hallucination overrode the programming.”
    Um, ok. “And I’m supposed to be Robert Downey Jr?”
    “Yes. It’s what you paid for.”
    “Excuse me?”
    He nodded. “As part of your ego trip. It’s included in the package.”
    I frowned. “Who are you?”

    He extended his hand. “Dr. Edgmar,” he said. “From Rekall.”

    • Reaper says:

      Ack! Nice take. You caught me off guard with the end. Your descriptions throughout were marvelous. I liked the very touching memories of the father throughout as well. Very nicely done.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I feel the reference to an ego trip was a perfect characterization for this prompt. Well done.

    • snuzcook says:

      Echos of Total Recall, yes? Or have I missed a movie reference or two since then?
      Nice response to the prompt. I didn’t see it coming.

    • vaderize03 says:

      Thanks all! I don’t know why, but I struggled with this prompt. I started it, then got stuck, then the ending kind of just jumped out at me. Weird.

      Yes, that was definitely a reference to ‘Total Recall’ (to those who remember the original film w/Ah-nold); I love throwing out these little twists to see who will catch them.

      Evil, perhaps, but a lot of fun :).

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nicely done, vaderize. It all made sense when you back-referenced the movie. I can so see this happening.

      Or, as they say, we can remember it for you wholesale.

      • vaderize03 says:

        It’s funny, I wondered if people would catch the reference. I’m a big fan of Philip K. Dick, but at 38, most of my generation aren’t familiar with him (at least not in a mainstream sense).

        Have you ever read “The Man in the High Castle?” It’s one of my favorites by him.

        Thank you for your feedback on prompt!

        • Observer Tim says:

          My PKD reading list is relatively short (“The Man in the High Castle”, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”, and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”). I find his prose style more dry than I prefer, but the ideas are so intriguing and thought-provoking!

          • vaderize03 says:

            His prose style definitely makes me thirsty, but I agree with you on the ideas.

            I love alternate-reality stories, and I thought “Castle” was brilliant from a plot-perspective. It’s funny, I read that easily, yet struggle with Harry Turtledove’s work (except for “The Guns of the South”).

    • jmcody says:

      Oh wow, that was a surprise ending! The MC’s memories of his father made me think it was going in a completely different direction. I’m still not sure what the father had to do with it, but what a unique and imaginative story.

      • vaderize03 says:

        Thank you! The father stuff was just for a little character development; it’s not really germane to the plot. I’m trying to work on developing my internal dialogue skills; how did I do?

        Glad you liked it!

  29. snuzcook says:

    NOT AGAIN!

    Oh, God. Not again!

    I wake up in a place I don’t recognize. It’s a small, homey but unmistakably institutional private room and I’m in a hospital bed. There are side rails on the bed, medical equipment near the night stand. The good news is the monitors are all turned off and none of them are hooked up to me.

    I don’t seem to be hurt or sick, so this must be rehab. The tabloids must having a field day—‘Robert Downey, Jr., back in detox.’ I can see it now; I’ll again be the celebrity bad boy flavor of the week. But I can’t believe it; you’d think I’d remember something–unless I’m that far gone.

    I swing my legs out of bed. God, I feel weak. My legs are skinny, like I’ve been sick a long time. I make my way into the bathroom. I can’t seem to focus my eyes, and everything is a little blurry, but I can manage to pee and splash water on my face.

    How long have I been here? I look in the mirror. The blurry image looking back at me is familiar, thank God. At least I still have my boyish good looks.

    I’ve got to find my phone, figure out what’s going on. Glasses, I need my glasses.

    I grope around the room, but I can’t locate glasses or phone or tablet or any electronics at all, not even a TV remote. Definitely rehab. No clothes either, but at least there’s a robe.

    I am just cinching up the belt and sliding my skinny feet into a pair of hospital slippers when there’s a quick knock and a woman in some kind of clinical uniform opens the door.

    “Where are we going, Pops?” I can’t see her that well, but her voice sounds very young. “It’s too early for us to go down to breakfast, so why don’t we get back in bed, huh?”

    “I don’t want to get back in bed. I want to call my wife. I want to call my agent. Where’s the damn phone?”

    She’s trying to herd me back to the bed, but I maneuver around her. “Where am I, anyway? How long have I been here?” She lunges for me and I skitter out of her reach. I am almost to the door when it opens and two goons in blue scrubs fill the doorway.

    The ease with which they tower over me and back me up all the way to the bed is really irritating. “Do you know who I am? I’m Robert Downey Jr.! You can’t treat me like this!” They are unimpressed by my protests, and I find myself rolled onto my side on the bed.

    The young nurse manages to hit me in the left butt cheek with an injection of some kind, and I relax back. I can still hear their voices, but their words just flow over and around me as I lie there.

    “They have to do something about him. This is the third time this week.”

    “I know. It’s so sad, really. His family isn’t doing him any favors with those holograms in the mirrors. He still thinks it’s 2009.”

    “Yeah, but now that public health doesn’t cover dementia treatments anymore, we just have to avoid contradicting his fantasy. It’s his bad luck he was one of the last with the disease before the vaccine was available.”

    “So that’s Robert Downey Jr.? Wasn’t he in some movies with George Clooney, way back when?”

    “Yeah. Boy, they sure knew how to make movies then.”

    • Reaper says:

      Snuzcook this is very scary. Brilliantly so. Just enough information to get my mind working and enough left out to leave me wanting to know more. You created two monsters, a disease and an unsympathetic society. That you did all that in so few words… you are just amazing.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Reaper. In my work over the years, I have become gently familiar with various expressions of dementia. Realizing that you may not know the same reality at any given moment that those around you are experiencing is a scary concept.

        [Just occurred to me: what if the amyloid build up in the brain that is blamed for Alzheimer's symptoms does not simply scramble memories, but actually causes one to transport without warning to a different place in the Vonnegut-esque arc of reality (where all moments in one's life exist simultaneously), without control when it comes and goes?]

    • vaderize03 says:

      World-building, a sympathetic MC, and a creepy reveal at the end, all in under five-hundred words. Excellent!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Hi snuz. I really got into your story. It gives me the shivers. Some of my friends are already there. Since I’m a nasty soul, it may not get ahold of me as long as I write.

        I’ve told the children when I get old, I’ll buy me a red Jag convertible and cruise Miami Beach on Collins Avenue and spend all their inheritance in six weeks. Seems to keep them in line for a week or so until I figure out some other story to tell them. I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll go fighting.

        See the impression your marvelous writing has done to my mind buzzer?

        • snuzcook says:

          I love your comments, Kerry! I can see the Dementia demon like Old Scratch in the Devil and Daniel Webster, and you outsmarting him right down the line. Red jag convertible is a nice touch. No way he’ll ever catch hold of you!

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks for your kind words, vaderize03. I must confess, however, going over the word limit. *>.<*

    • jmcody says:

      This was both sad and frightening. I thought something more sinister was happening, based on the two goons at the door. The holograms in the mirrors were a cinematic touch that conveyed the manipulation of reality that was happening on so many levels, although with dementia people often think they are young again. In her nineties, my grandmother thought she was perpetually young and on vacation at a fancy hotel. Not a bad reality really.

      This was a great read, Snuzz. And you are much more law-abiding than me when it comes to word count. I doubt I would have even noticed.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Gulp. You told a detailed story of dementia, snuzcook. This is the one thing about getting older that scares me. May these events never come to pass.

      • snuzcook says:

        I agree. Let’s all go live in a fancy hotel when the day comes and be served lemonade and shortbread (or ribs and and a shot of something to clean out the windpipe) while the rest of the world worries over our meds.

    • agnesjack says:

      I loved the futuristic twist at the end. What really hit me about your story was the depiction that he is simply a nuisance to his caretakers, and society as a whole — a throw-away human. It’s so sad. Well done, snuz.

      • snuzcook says:

        Good observation, agnesjack. A lot of times the message communicated by body language and attitude is all too clear, regardless of the best of intentions on the part of the person who is dealing with a challenging patient or client. To misquote Scrooge, “[let them get on with it]…and decrease the surplus population.”

    • jhowe says:

      Two good stories in one week. Nicely done. Loved the hologram mirror explanation.

  30. Augie says:

    The journey begins. Probably the only thing that has ever scared this man.

    He hits the play button and the CD spins playing Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘s ‘Red White and Blue’

    Yes, his head is turning white, and the back of his neck is tan. It’s time.

    Some look forward to this day, not Master Chief Jones. Yesterday he attended the ceremony, to him is was a funeral. Burying the only thing he has known since he was 17 years old. That was almost 30 years ago.

    He looks into the mirror and sees a different reflection. First he sees Rambo, in the film ‘First blood’, where the civilians treated the returning Vietnam warriors like shit. The same way they treated Master Chief Jones’s father when he returned. They drew First Blood!

    Master Chief rips off his name patch, from now on its just Michael, or Mr. Jones. His call name dies with the service he gave.

    He looks back into the mirror and sees Harrison Ford, saving the world once again. Living in Hollywood’s Clear and Present Danger.

    Michael rips off his Trident special warfare insignia “Won’t be needing this anymore.”

    He stands tall and looks into the mirror once more, this time he sees Robert Downey Jr. A famous actor that has received three golden globe awards.

    Michael Jones rips off his six rows of medals and rank insignia, and then throws them in the trash.

    Master Chief, United States Navy, retired… Rocks around his room, strumming an air guitar.

    Time to go home (July 15th)

    • agnesjack says:

      Augie – I know this came from a very personal place and I think you are brave to have written it. It is concise and moving and very much to the point, and although MJs journey has changed, I wish the absolute best for him. –Nancy

    • snuzcook says:

      Augie, this brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing to say about what comes next; that is another story. This honors the moment that is here and all that it means.

    • Reaper says:

      Powerful and personal. You have mentioned retirement soon before and it is scary to give up what you have known and loved for so long, even with a family waiting for you when you are done. An amazing example of showing and your connection to music as always makes me hear it.

    • vaderize03 says:

      Poignant and very moving. Reading this gave me the chills; very evocative!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is heart-wrenching, Augie. Retirement is a BIG step, and one I can see on the horizon from here. I truly hope this is hypothetical, and that you return to the honour and reward that I am sure you deserve.

    • jmcody says:

      I can hear the sadness in your voice, and obviously this is real. Having been privileged to read your work over the past few weeks, I can see that your military service is the core of your being and it has shaped and informed the person that you are and always will be. Sad, but triumphant. Enjoy this triumph that you have earned. (I wonder if this is how I’ll feel when my kids grow up and leave home?). Thanks for sharing your incredible journey with all of us on this site, and hopefully later you will share it with the rest of the world.

  31. JRSimmang says:

    MEMORY IS A FRAGILE THING

    The mirror, attached to the wall, was smudged and bronzing, old, like a reliquary of the Mad Hatter’s. It was there I first saw my face. It was there where I found the wash basin and a couple Tylenol, and I was thankful for both. I swallowed the pills without water, washed my face, and sat back down on the cot. I was growing accustomed to this white-walled prison with it’s fancy door as if saying welcome to your purgatory but there’s no sense in whining about it.

    My face looked oddly familiar; I’d seen it before, a thousand times before. It was the same face that made me laugh and cry, though my face did neither of those now. I crossed my legs on the cot, closed my eyes, and breathed deeply.

    ###

    “Good morning, Rafe.”

    “Tomas.”

    “He’s?”

    “Doing fine. Adjusting.”

    “Notes?”

    The clipboard with the date scrabble across the top in block letters passed hands. “The next one is scheduled for-?”

    “Five weeks.”

    “And we’re sure he’ll be ready by then?”

    “We’re sure.”

    ###

    I raise my hands and wave to the polite people taking my picture. I stop, make a serious face, laugh it off, and pull close the woman attached to my arm. They ask me a few simple questions, and in this moment I don’t have to be anyone else.

    The awards ceremony is quaint, unapologetic, and wholly self-serving. I am embarrassed to be here.

    ###

    “Good morning, Rafe.”

    “Tomas.”

    “We are ready to implement the next?”

    “He has shown us his worth.”

    “He was fairly impressive as that celebrity.”

    “He was, and my mother before that.”

    “And the clerk at the general store.”

    “He’s ready for Russia.”

    “It’ll be cold.”

    “To him, it’s home already.”

    ###

    I am pulled from my room once again to be taken into surgery. Perhaps this time, I will remember.

    -JR Simmang

  32. Amyithist says:

    ***I was on here reading and became inspired. I rarely do two takes on one prompt, but here goes***

    I’d crossed the street in front of my father’s deli a million times; normally a docile stretch of road, I saw no reason to pay much attention to the traffic. I dashed out into the road, barely having enough time to grimace as the truck barreled itno me. My body suddenly jerked with a searing pain. The sound of screeching brakes and bones shattering against pavement tore through my mind just before everything turned to black.
    I had always imagined what would happen when I died. Perhaps it was a morbid curiousity, but I spent more time than most young teens reading into the paranormal and trying to decipher if there was life post-mortem. I found myself looking back on everything I’d read prior and realized they all had one thing in common: They were dead wrong.
    The light surrounding me was much like sunlight. It was warm and embracing and smelled of fresh air. Green grass seemed to stretch for miles; breaking only to bend at the bluest sky I’d ever seen. I turned for a moment, confused. Where was I? What was going on?
    As if on cue, a man appeared a few yards away. He was dressed in white and looked so peaceful… He noticed me immediately and a sympathetic smile crossed his face. “I’m so sorry,” he said, stepping closer. The smell of sunflowers suddenly permeated the air. “I made a mistake…a huge, huge mistake.”
    I wrenched my face, confusion still my predominent emotion. “What are you talking about?” I asked.
    “I wasn’t supposed to take you as quickly as I did,” the man replied. “I shouldn’t have taken you…”
    Suddenly, the sky darkened. Though, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the sunlight seemed to dim as a mass moved through it. A rumble shook the ground I stood on and the man in front of me seemed to tremble. He sighed and nodded. “Yes. I made the mistake. I’m sorry.”
    A wind whipped over us. It wasn’t icy, but it was swift and I found myself tilting against the force. The man nodded again. “I understand,” he replied. “I’m really sorry.” Sunshine slowly filled the sky again. The man shrugged at me and pointed his hands towards me. “You are going back,” he said.
    Before I could say anything, the world began to whir and spin out of control. The light faded to a black so consuming that I couldn’t tell one end of my body from the other. I spun faster and faster until I thought I was going to pass out from the adrenaline carving through my body.
    I suddenly gasped for air. My lungs burned. I sat up, my body tingling back to life. I sputtered as I looked around an unfamiliar room. A plush couch sat in front of a table lined with rows of coccaine. I rubbed at my face. It felt different. I looked down at my hands. Different.
    I jumped to my feet and stumbled toward a mirror. I wasn’t me. I was Robert Downey JR… The angel must have given me another body in place of the one he’d taken from me by mistake. That’s what happens when you die, afterall…You start over; as someone new, somewhere new. Though I couldn’t understand why I’d been reborn as Robert Downey JR, I still found myself incredibly thankful for the life I’d been given. Again.

    • Reaper says:

      Beautiful, surreal, inspiring. Just the words that come to mind. An amazing feel good take on the prompt with a dark beginning. I doff my hat to you Amyithist and am glad you posted this second one.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is beautiful, Amyithist. It does kind of leave me wondering what happened to Robert. I assume the MC’s memories will fade into his over a (fairly short) time; otherwise it would be a cruelty to both of them. And what will Susan (his wife) think, especially given that it was just announced that she’s pregnant?

      • Amyithist says:

        Thank you, Observer Tim. I don’t think anyone knows what will happen. It’s as much of a mystery as death itself. ;) Thanks for taking time to read my prompt again.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      An updated version of Heaven Can Wait, which is one of my favorite movies, btw. Well written.

      • Amyithist says:

        YES! That’s kind of what I was going for. Also, a little bit of a story I read once called The Egg.
        Thank you for the feedback! That is one of my favorite movies, too. :)

    • agnesjack says:

      This reminded me of the film, “Here Comes Mr. Jordan,” or the funnier remake, “Heaven Can Wait” with Warren Beatty, where he’s a quarterback whose taken too soon and put back into a billionaire’s body, so he buys the team so he can play quarterback. I always enjoy your descriptive language and the visual environment that you create, amyisthist.

    • Wasn’t expecting that! I especially enjoyed the descriptions of him being in the afterlife, and the changing weather.

    • snuzcook says:

      A beautifully written image of the experience of transition, Amyithist! And you worked it so nicely into the prompt. Well done!

    • jmcody says:

      I love a good paranormal/near-death experience kind of story. I’m a little fascinated with these kinds of ideas. Yours was a pleasure to read, especially with the intriguing descriptions of the afterlife, or whatever halfway point the MC found herself at (or himself. For his sake, I hope he’s a him.)

      My mind went straight to “Heaven Can Wait” too. When I was trying to come up with an idea for this prompt, I kept thinking an old Robert Downey movie called “Chance Are,” where a man is killed and gets to come back to earth in Robert Downey Jr’s body.

      Glad you decided to go with the muse. This was very enjoyable!

    • lionetravail says:

      Great story, if a little depressing… Death makes mistakes?? This is worrisome!

      A fun read, Amyithist… awesome.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I can’t add a whole lot to the comments above but just to let you know, I was totally swept up into your story. I loved your description of the half way to paradise. A pleasant sun lit sky with green emerald grass and a sky so blue you could fly off into it. No brilliant white light that’s blinding and something to be wary of.

  33. k.spicer says:

    When I opened my eyes I knew instantly the mind transfer had taken place. Standing I look down at my feet, they are covered with some type of material laced together with strings; very primitive. Looking at the hands on this body I flex them before my face, they are very flexible, a wonderful design.

    Walking across the room I stop as I see my reflection in a rectangular piece of material. Touching my face I stand in awe at the sight of the figure before me. I’ll never get use to this; every time they send me on a mission the creature that my mind is transferred to is so different.

    A pounding at the portal to my right startles me as I turn to see what is making the awful noise. “Time to get to the set Mr.Downey!” Another human opened the portal and stuck his head in. “The director told me to personally make sure you made it to the set on time today sir…I’m sorry it’s nothing personal.”

    I can understand every word he’s speaking, and yet some of the words are strange to me. “The set?”

    “Yes sir, after the stunt you pulled yesterday it’s a wonder he even wants you back on the set at all. Not that it’s any of my business; I just do what I’m told.”

    “The earth is in danger. I have something important to tell your leader.” I said to the odd looking human standing before me.
    “Yea well, I think he’s got a few things he wants to tell you too.”

    “Take me to your leader.”

    “You’ve got it Mr. Downey, your cart is waiting.”

    I climbed into an odd looking transport vehicle with four rolling disks and a canopy covering which blocked the heat coming from earth’s sun. It was only a short ride through some strange looking buildings before we stopped and got out. “Which one is your leader?”

    “The director…same as always,” He said. “The man in the chair.”

    He was pointing to a man sitting in a chair that was lifted high in the air. Yes, this must be their ruler. I walk toward the man in the seat and he began yelling through some sort of voice enhancer, “Cut!” He yelled and everyone seemed to scatter at his command.

    “It’s so nice of you to join us Mr. Downey.” The director said.

    “I must warn you of a grave danger that is approaching earth.” I said as the high leader looked toward the man who brought me here.

    “You told me to get him; I can’t help it if he’s been sniffing the powder again.”

    “Downey, I’ve had it with you.”

    “You must prepare for the danger.” I warned.

    “That’s it; get this crack-head off my set!”

    I tried to explain but they dragged me away. “I don’t understand, why won’t you listen to me? The earth is in danger!”

    “Come on Mr. Downey, we’ve got a nice soft room waiting for you.”

  34. jmcody says:

    To those who wish to be me,

    I googled my name today. Alright, let’s be honest – my personal assistant googled my name. It’s part of his job description. He also manages my Twitter feed, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Pinterest presence. Social networking is a bitch. Thank God for Edwin.

    But I digress.

    So Edwin googled my name today, and guess what he found.

    You people. Fantasizing about being me. And I want you to stop. I mean it. Cease and desist.

    I have a lot of lawyers. Maybe they couldn’t keep me out of prison but they sure as hell can dispatch the likes of you. Except maybe the Navy SEAL. And the two creepy guys, who I will admit scare the piss out of me. And possibly the Texan. Bogie will have to deal with him. But the rest of you? Toast. (Except for you RuthieShev. You’re nice.)

    Mostly I want you all to stop fondling me and watching me pee. I mean, come on, gross. Yes, you agnesjack. And Lionetravail. And Amyithist. And Observer Tim, stop checking out my junk. Sheesh… Canadians. By the way, Tim, I did not appreciate being drugged. I had to call my counselor twice about that one.

    I also do not appreciate the collection of sordid, odiferous bodies that I am being jammed into – homeless people, insects, and Gary Freaking Busey, for crying out loud. And that one depressed guy, and let’s not even talk about the Duck Dynasty incident. Had me jonesing for more of O.T.’s drugs.

    But no need – Looky here, further up the page, Yaxomoxay’s got me on some kind of acid trip, and Reaper’s got a veritable pharma-topia going on. Go big or go home, eh Reaper? Nice. And hookers, everywhere. You people better just pray that Susan hasn’t seen this.

    I had Edwin do some research on all of you, and that’s when it hit me: jmcody hasn’t posted yet. If history is any indication, she’s probably planning some sort of weird afterlife experience, or she’s going to turn me into a Barbie, or I don’t know, electrocute me or make me kiss an Irishman or something.

    So here’s the deal:

    I’ve taken Cody hostage. I am occupying her body right now, before she can occupy mine. I’m calling this little operation OCCUPY CODY. Yup, that’s right. As long as you people persist in besmirching my name and ruining my life, I’ll be calling the shots around the Cody household.

    So far it’s not a bad gig. The kids are cute, although the teenager is a moody SOB. The little one thinks I’m great. She already said “Gee Mommy, you’re so much less boring today.” I could live without the office job, though. I don’t know how you people tolerate that day in and day out.

    So, let’s recap. I’m watching you. All of you. And if you ever want to get a thoughtful, supportive comment from jmcody again, I suggest you all start hugging the cactus, as my friend Mel would say.

    Robert Downey Jr.

    P.S. A little advice — Never start a story with your MC waking up in bed. It’s incredibly trite, and a shortcut to the slush pile. I read that on Writer’s Digest.

    • Amyithist says:

      OH MY GOD, JMCODY!!! I believe you have completely and utterly outdone not only yourself but every single person who’s contributed thus far. And one would be hard pressed to find such an amusing and solidly written prompt anywhere else! I was laughing so hard my dog thought I was having a seizure or something. I absolutely loved this. You, my dear, are a genius. Clever. Witty. And an absolute genius. Way to go!

      PS- Downey, could we PLEASE get Cody back? We kinda love the gal. :)

    • Reaper says:

      Dear Mr. Downey;

      Under the advice of someone that claimed they were an attorney and I trust him as he was wearing a very dashing tinfoil fedora, I can not directly respond to your threats on the grounds that it may intoxicate me (his words not mine). So, hypothetically while you are involved in OCCUPY CODY someone, not naming any names but definitely not, not me, might have briefly occupied your body and signed the contract for Iron Man 4. Now, knowing how opposed you are to this you are this nameless person has addressed and stamped the envelope but hypothetically not mailed it yet. That is right sir! We do not negotiate with terrorists on these prompts. The question is, do you?

      This unnamed person will give you one week to think about your response. As I am sure you never had an office job I would suggest you call in sick while you contemplate. I understand HR departments are brutal and terminations follow you even after your soul bungies to the original corpus, which unnamed person will return when you comply with our demands. Note, I am asking you to call in sick for your own good not because JM needs time off. I am purely trying to be your friend. I mean, he or she is. Thank you for your attention.

      Sincerely,
      All of the crazy ones and Steve Buscemi.

      P.S. There are worse things than kissing Irishmen, I am thinking ex senators of Alaska might be in a future story if our demands are not met.

      P.P.S. Can you help me turn my novel into a treatment then hook me up at a studio?

      This was hilarious and the voice was so amazing. There was a moment of “Oh my God I need to defend myself,” because I was that drawn into it. That just made it even funnier. I think you actually win this week.

      • A “very dashing tinfoil fedora” and Steve Buscemi with “all the crazy ones”?
        :-) :-) :-)

      • jmcody says:

        Reaper,

        Seeing as how you saw fit to plunge me back into cocaine addiction and advertise it in 37 point type, I don’t think I’ll be hooking you up with any studios.

        Tell you what — get the dead rat out of my mouth, call off the media, get your little tin-foil hat wearing freak friend out of my body, and then maybe we’ll talk. Actually there’s an Irish terrorist character of yours that I might be interested in playing…

        RDjr

    • Observer Tim says:

      Robert;

      We just intercepted a message from the aliens; they’re diverting a scout ship with nineteen Iron Men to the Cody household. Because of the problem with the mental overlays, all twenty of them think they’re you, too.

      Run! Get out while you still can! And save the kids, too; it’ll be good for your image.

      Edwin.

      • jmcody says:

        Edwin, have you been talking to the guy wearing the tin foil hat? What did I tell you about how we deal with stalkers?

        On second thought, better call my PR guy, just in case…

        RDjr

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Dear Robert,

      A fish stinks from the head down. You get me?

      Marie

      Lol. Home run; actually, out of the park :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        For this Texan, If I had occupied your body you wouldn’t remember anybody else. They’d be dust on my saddle.

      • jmcody says:

        Marie, something stinks around here alright, but I think it’s the garbage. You try getting this surly teenage to put down the x-box and take out the trash. Even Indio never gave me such a hard time when I asked him to get the help to take out the trash.

        RDjr

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Remember the song jm?

          ‘You don’t take out the trash, you ain’t gonna get no ready cash.”
          Stick to it, that don’t work, “short sheet” him. Fill his shoes with kitty litte, slightly used. You want more suggestions? Cockle burrs between the sheets.

    • agnesjack says:

      :-D :-D :-D
      Brilliant, jm.

    • Once again, jm…. awesome! This was utterly hilarious. I launched into maniacal chuckling right here: “I also do not appreciate the collection of sordid, odiferous bodies…” I’m glad that I haven’t written anything for this prompt yet… don’t want to get on Iron Man’s bad side.

    • snuzcook says:

      Yowser! I wish I had read this before I posted. God am I trite!
      This is over the top hilarious. Way out of my league!
      All I can say is, there is some awesome talent at work here.

      • jmcody says:

        Snuzzcook, I know who I am. I’m the dude playing another dude disguised as another dude. No wait, that was Tropic Thunder. I’m the dude playing the middle aged suburban mom playing the writer… I think.

        Well, whatever I am, I know what you are not, and that is trite. I don’t care what Writer’s Digest says.

        Thanks for taking care of me in the old folks home.

        RDjr

    • yaxomoxay says:

      Mr. Downey,
      Thank you for your reply. My name is Cthulhu (*), I am the Elder God, the tentacular being, the Priest of Priests, the Title of Titles, the Prompt of Prompts.
      Frankly, I found your reply offensive in that I haven’t authorized your body transposition with such jmcody, one of my most esteemed and secret Cultists. You might not be aware of it, but before switching bodies you have to follow our Guidelines:
      1- Cthulhu, the Judge of Judges, is the only authority.
      2- Whatever you do, you must ask for Cthulhu’s permission and/or blessing and/or cursing.
      3- In absence of Cthulhu, the Absent of Absents, permission shall be requested to Reaper – the Farmer of Farmers – or Bilbo Baggins – the Hobbit of Hobbits – or Observer Tim – the Untitled of Untitleds.

      I want to tell you the truth, I was very undecided if your despicable action was forcing me to release a storm of Cutltists and Mi-go to catch you and bring your body here in time for dinners. I decided against it, as I will send them to get Brazil’s players. You will receive the wrath of a much worse kind of monsters, Hollywood lawyers. They shall prepare and grill you in time for my private barbecue.

      Let it be an example out of you.

      I wish you a good weekend,
      Cthulhu (*), The Signature of Signatures.

      (*)= also known as ulu, Clulu, Clooloo, Cthulu, Cthullu, C’thulhu, Cighulu, Cathulu, C’thlu, Kathulu, Kutulu, Kthulhu, Q’thulu, K’tulu, Kthulhut, Kutu, Kulhu, Kutunluu, Ktulu, Cuitiliú, Thu Thu.

    • lionetravail says:

      Hysterical, Jm… what a wonderful and unique romp :)

    • seliz says:

      Too funny! I can’t even pin point the parts that made me laugh the most because I was laughing during the whole thing. Nicely done :)

    • lionetravail says:

      Dear Mr. Jr.

      Okay, I can wrap my head around you invading my mom, though i thinks totally gross and lame. But calling me a moody SOB is a little over the top, don’t you think? I mean, you’re kinda calling my mom a bitch. Stop being such a dick.

      Also, don’t think youkre so cool, either. I’m working on a short for youtube where Iron Man meets a 6 tesla MRI machine.

      So suck it1

      The Moody Teenager

      • jmcody says:

        Okay, I had to break character here to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing, Lionetravail.

        My son can be a cranky-pants, but so far he hasn’t told anyone to suck it or called them a dick (that I know of), although I like to think he would defend me if Robert Downey Jr. were ever to insult me or try to inhabit my person. :)

        Ironically, he does enjoy making short videos and posting them on youtube. He is mostly obsessed with anything Tim Burton, but he’s also a big Iron Man fan. I will suggest your awesome idea of Iron Man in an MRI machine to him, although I think its beyond his technical capabilities… for now.

        Thanks for the laugh. You made my day.

        • rle says:

          OMG, JMC, This was one of the funniest things I’ve read on here to date. I almost never read these before I’ve posted my own, But since I was having a little trouble in the inspiration dept. I decided to sneak a peek. This week my story begins with my MC waking up in bed. I couldn’t resist.

          • jmcody says:

            You know, rle, I started writing not too long ago. One of the first things I wrote had the MC waking up from a dream. And then I read on WD how totally lame that is, and I was so deflated. So I was a little surprised at this prompt. But I rewrote the original thing without the waking up in bed part, and I have to admit it was better. Still, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, right

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Hahaha. Hihihi. Hohoho. I still can’t get over your take in this prompt jmcody! You’re sensational. :)

  35. maus says:

    I slammed the door to my car and laid my head on the steering wheel. The only good thing about working in the next town was that the drive home allowed me a solid 45 minutes of solitary confinement in which I could berate my co-workers, my boss, and society. Not every day was so bad, but there were still times when the overwhelming injustice of constantly having to remind everyone above that my sex and race didn’t make a difference on the bar exam was just too much. Years had passed since I became the youngest member to make partner, and yet I knew that tomorrow I’d have to prove myself all over again.

    I spent the next 20 minutes allowing the rage to come to a rolling boil before letting out an exasperated scream, then cranking up the radio for the rest of the ride. By the time I got home I was “exhausted but smiling mommy” again, and I opened my arms to allow my babies to run over and make me forget all of the bad in the world. Steven had them bathed and pajama’ed, and had even braided Camila’s hair.

    Throwing myself backwards onto the bed, I began bending and unbending my knees to allow the knots in my back to work themselves out, and before I knew it my cell phone was sounding the third morning alarm. I remember thinking that I must have slept extremely well despite my horrific day at work because I felt like a brand new person this morning.

    “That’s funny,” I thought, “I don’t remember putting in mirrored closet doors.” As soon as I sat up I had to shut my eyes once again.

    “I must not actually be awake, then,” I thought. “Soon, I’ll really wake up and hopefully that’ll be before my husband hears me murmur the name ‘Robert’ in my sleep.” I squeezed my eyelids shut as hard as I could, and opened them once again, but there he was. I stood, he stood. I ran my hands through my hair, and so did he. That’s when it began to sink in that this was not a dream. I tried to call Steven, but someone else’s voice came out and I quickly slapped my hand over my mouth.

    Robert’s eyes widened in the mirror and I recognized a twinkle of rising hysteria, before I shook myself and began mentally visualizing pushing down all of the terror into a tiny little box and storing it away in my brain’s “Not Now” compartment. I had to get to work today, no matter what.

    The new guys were coming in and I had a show to put on. I knew the drill. My presence would cause them a bit of cognitive dissonance and I’d spend the next few hours putting my extensive vocabulary and elegant, clean logic on display in order to ease their discomfort. They’d sooner or later forget what they saw in front of them and be able to talk to me with the same deference they automatically afforded my male, white counterparts and then it would be business as usual. But, wait…

  36. cosivantutte says:

    This is the absolute worst brand of awful.

    I am Brittany St. George, Queen of Fabulosity. Long blonde hair. To-die-for blue eyes. Perfect nose. Perfect lips. Perfect all over. I am the one all of the needy ugly kids in school want to be. Oh, they never will be me, of course. It just isn’t possible.

    It’s Carlita’s fault that this happened. Carlita deVilrose is my BFF. Or she was yesterday. Today, however, she is so off my BFF list and she will never get back on it. Not even if she sends me twelve million apology texts.

    Yesterday, during Chemistry Boredom Hour, Carlita slipped a brown paper bag to me and whispered, “Use this. It will change your life.” I didn’t want or need to change my life. But my curiosity was like a suicidal cat or stupid Pandora. I wanted to know. I wanted to see what it would do.

    After I came home from school, I took the bag up to my room and tore it open. And the mysterious, life-changing prize was—a facial mask. Oh. My. Gosh. Was this Carlita’s idea of a joke? I never use facial masks. I don’t need them. I don’t use them. Simple as that. But my curiosity poked me with a sharp stick. Why not try it?

    So, I tried it. Worst idea ever. It felt like lumpy cake batter and smelled like rancid ranch dressing. How was I supposed to sleep with that glop all over my face?

    I laid in bed, completely flat on my back. So uncomfortable. I always slept on my side, but whatever. I didn’t want that junk to contaminate my pillow. I drifted off to sleep, contemplating all of the ways I’d get back at Carlita if the facial goo ruined my complexion.

    My brain drifted from weird dream to weird dream. A flying dream melded into a dream about taking a walk with Charlie Chaplin into a dream about solving crimes and smoking a pipe into a dream about a detective who sang woeful love songs in prison.

    I woke up with a category 12 headache and a strong feeling of not-rightness. I couldn’t pinpoint what wasn’t right. It felt like it was everywhere. I got out of bed and straggled into the bathroom to clean my face.

    I washed the mask off and looked up into the mirror.

    Robert Downey Jr.’s reflection looked back at me.

    I screamed loud and manly. This was the worst! The absolute worst! I don’t even like Robert Downey Jr. Oh, Carlita would pay dearly for this.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      This is excellent!
      I’m glad I decided to read over the stories again. I don’t know how I missed seeing this. Judging from the lack of comments, I think others missed it, too. A glitch, perhaps.
      Anyway, great story :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great take, cosivantutte. It hadn’t dawned on me to have someone think becoming a famous multimillionaire would be a step down. You captured the self-indulgent teenager voice with true fabulosity. :)

      Welcome to the site! I know you’re new because you got caught in the “Brian wants a real life” trap – he vetts the first few posts of all new readers, so there can be a delay in posts appearing.

      • cosivantutte says:

        I’ve posted on the message boards, but this was my first time posting a Weekly Prompt story.

        Sorry if it looks like I spammed my story. I just got a little hyper when it didn’t post. I thought I did something wrong or I forgot to put some sort of secret code thing in my post. So, I made a couple of edits and posted it again. Still didn’t show up. So, I made a couple more edits and tried again.

        When that one didn’t show up, I put up a SOS message in the boards. PLS explained the situation to me, which made me feel better and worse at the same time. Better because I knew that my post would eventually appear. Worse because I felt like a total spammer.

        Jump subject: It was fun writing in her voice, especially since most of my usual main characters are guys.

  37. Reaper says:

    This title is for you Augie. This idea hit me about the same time as the other one did. I actually think this is a better story but the other was more out of my comfort zone so I felt I had to write that one first.

    Nativity In Black

    Disorientation…

    The word crawls through the heavy, rotten inside of my head as I am forced to consciousness by shards of rusty glassy piercing my eyelids. Others might call them gentle beams of dawn sunlight. Shielded by the thin flesh that protects them my eyes know what they really are; unmerciful immolating death. I keep my eyes closed, continuing my mental inventory.

    My mouth tastes, and yes smells, like an ashtray washed with Kentucky whiskey and a dirty diaper after three weeks of hard use. It feels like someone stuffed a moldy rat in it.

    Moving on… everything is just wrong. My hands and feet are tingling awake. My skin feels covered in used oil. In contrast it and the muscles under it feel scrubbed clean with steel-wool and Comet. I sense there are myriad sewer level odors wafting up from my possibly necrotic flesh. Thank god for the aforementioned scent in my mouth blocking them.

    Finally prying my eyes open I peel myself out of bed. This is not my room. Apparently I checked into a swanky hotel. I might as well take a shower.

    Passing the mirror I glimpse my reflection and stop dead. I recognize that face. How the hell did I end up in his body?

    My hands clutch the edge of the counter. I stare into unfamiliar eyes and try to recount last night. I wrack my brain for how this happened. I look like Robert Downy Junior but I’m not. I am… it’ll come to me.

    My memory works backward. In this body I brought three young, possibly too young, ladies here. There was cocaine snorted off multiple smooth body parts. There was enough weed to get an occupying UN force high for a year. Then there were a lot of acts I shouldn’t tell my wife about. But before that… it comes in reverse flashes.

    The bar, picking up the girls.

    The alley, buying the drugs.

    The bar, downing drinks, giving in to trying the sample.

    At home, stressing out. So much going on, how could I deal with it all? The familiar feeling of near forgotten addiction crawling like worms along my inner arms made me get up to take a drive. But what had I been worried about? The recent and constant family worries? The stresses of the job? Whether I deserved everything?

    Shit.

    I look into the mirror again. I am Robert Downey Junior but I have forgotten what it feels like to be this me.

    One slip.

    If the press finds out they will crucify me. They will forget my advocacy. They will forget me standing up for my friends when no one else would. They will ignore my body of work. Who I am, the man I fought to become will be washed away in thirty-seven point font and flashing neon signs that scream, Downey relapses after years. Well, only one thing to do for it.

    I quietly check myself into rehab and hope for the best.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Oh, yeah. You KO’d the prompt.
      *Marie walks around the ring holding a 10 sign*

    • Augie says:

      Talons relax, vision restored, tears fall. I am. Your timing and words touch me and the men that serve with me for us….Thank you, Reaper!

      • Augie says:

        I can’t tell you how many times I have heard these songs blast in different types of aircraft as we gather our thoughts of, ‘what just happened’. I know I am ‘over-killing’ this, but I have to ask, “how do you know?” Thanks again reaper!

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          It’s not in my comfort zone, Reaper but your writing is magnificant. Descriptions of the MC’s mind playing tricks and throwing false pathways at him is horrifying. Do people really live and think this way?. I’ve been in some mean personal battles before, even hating God for taling my daughter Leslie.

          I have hit bottom many times but nothing what you describe. Lord, is our world really this dark? My hat’s off to you for writing about this.

          • Reaper says:

            Thank you Kerry. I don’t think our world is really that dark but it needs help. One of the reasons I love your writing is I find the world you describe to be the one we should aspire to. We need images like that to tell us there is hope, this is the ideal and we can find it again. I wish I could write that way. I used to be a very angry person, I didn’t like myself but I thought people like me that hated the world and everyone in it were necessary. Then I grew and found that where I used to be the minority more people were becoming like me. While I still felt some people like that were necessary I knew that it should be the minority not the majority. That is a lot of the darkness in my writing. It is an overstatement of the bad I see in the world. It is a warning that we need to stop, we need to fix things and pointing a finger at where I think we need to start before it gets that bad. I love that you post in the same place as I do because often I look at what I write as a spotlight on the problems and your words as a guide to the solution.

            People do go through this. In this case I was describing the hold of addiction, and how society really wants to see their idols fall, to be human just like us. I think the latter is terrible but addiction is a powerful thing that never lets you go. Drugs skew everything even when you are past them. That was why the hope at the end, even if everything else is lost the soul does not need to be.

            What you have gone through is rougher than what most do. I find it strange that I know people who go through the worst things and they find hope, even when they hate God they turn to him, they look for the beauty in the universe. By contrast it is people who know less pain that seem to give up. Their life is so perfect, or at least good that the small things go bad and they don’t know how to deal with it and existence seems bleak. It is like there is this voice inside of us, and when smaller things tear at us that voice says, see, it hurts, it will never get better. Learn to hate, learn to give up. But when you hit real bottom, when you feel real pain that voice can only say, shit, this is so bad I don’t know what to say, I didn’t expect this, sorry buddy. Freed of that critic inside the strongest parts of you step up and meet the challenge and when the small stuff goes bad later and that voice stops talking you tell it to go to hell because you’ve been through the worst and this ain’t even close.

            Alright, getting philosophical again I see.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            I’m posting above the comment below Reaper because they’re no entry. I think we may make a perfect team, you being the ‘wheel horse’, and I trotting beside you. Between the two of us, I can’t imagine any opposition that can stop us.

            Don’t you think we could take on anybody, any problem and write ourselves out of it and perhaps make some small difference in this world? ‘Wheel horse’ is a very old expression but I’m positive you know the meaning.

          • Reaper says:

            I had heard the term but had to remind myself of the meaning. I am honored to be called that by you by either definition. I think we could, and at least in some small way do make a difference in the world. As for anything, as mortals all we can do is but try. I am and would be happy any time to be on this team and quest with you.

        • Reaper says:

          I don’t actually know. I observe. I have been out of work for about a year now, but when I am working I manage people, and part of what makes me good at it is that I have an ability to read them. That makes some people uncomfortable but warriors tend to appreciate it. Unlike others you are not afraid to be known, though there is often an exterior, as with most, and it is very good men in your position often appreciate someone that can see to the man beneath that armor. I know you are connected to music, and your comments about Sabbath told me you are a certain type of person. It is an over simplification but I have found when it comes to Ozzie and Sabbath there are two types of people. Those that love the music, and those that just don’t get it.

          When I originally was writing this I wanted a Sabbath connection and almost named it Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but since addiction is a demon I went with the devil’s love song. I mentioned for you because you had talked about Ironman. I will admit a story came to mind when I named it that, and your comment reminded me of it.

          My father and a lot of his friends were in the military during Vietnam, and they liked to tell stories. We were watching a Nam movie one day and one of his buddies told me about this helicopter pilot, I don’t remember the name. He was talking about how dangerous it was in the choppers, that they were often shot down because the noise let the enemy find them. So this pilot started playing the loudest music he could find cranked up. At the time it was Steppin Wolf. With the music bouncing off the trees and spreading out the sound of his blades and those flying with him were covered and his squadron (is that the right word when it’s multiple helicopters?) lost less men and equipment than anyone else. So I connect a certain type of soldier to both that brilliance, and innovation but also to loud music that just gets the mind working and the blood pumping.

          Anyway that was a long way of not really saying anything. You have mentioned both retirement and a family here in the Seattle area. One of these days when you are home and your wife and little girl will actually let you out of the house, and I have gainful employment again hit me up in a PM. I’d love to buy you a beer for everyone here to thank you for your service and your stories and maybe we can talk about how I do or do not know. :) Stay safe until you’re home, and then stay sane when you are.

          • Augie says:

            I feel like life has been ripped from me. Your timing with Nativity In Black came at a moment that I shared with my brothers. I was never trained how to be acceptable. I have to figure that one out. One thing I know, is the power hidden in the shadows of your words. I did retire yesterday, and while I want to salute you, Thats not me anymore. I am Michael, and a hand shake will do. I will be states side in a few days, and will probably take a month to decompress as I walk the true valley of death. Respect is more than a word for me as I look out to the men that taught me the word. We will salute together, in a different way. I have met many people in my travels, few were men.

      • Reaper says:

        You’re welcome Augie and so are the rest of them. I am glad that I can do my small part.

    • agnesjack says:

      Amazing, Reaper. Loved the phrase “washed away in thirty-seven point font”. The haunting horrors of addiction. I read after Philip Seymour Hoffman died that addiction, especially to heroin, permanently changes the brain chemistry, which is why it is so hard to stay clean. A brutal story, but with hope at the end.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you agnesjack, I was very proud of that line so now I am smiling. I am glad the hope was seen, I think that is important. I have heard that, and I know with many drugs, especially heroin and, oddly, nicotine they stay in the body in fat cells. So you are fighting two battles. I know that people that have gone through heroin rehab can not start an exercise program without doctor’s supervision. Because as the fat melts it releases stored up drug into the body. It is dangerous because the body is not used to it anymore but also because you start going through cravings and withdrawl again. So people that quit and stay quit are pretty amazing.

    • lionetravail says:

      Awesome- smooth and smoky, like a great single malt!

    • seliz says:

      Amazing job with descriptions, especially with the descriptions of his senses when first waking up. I almost wanted to go brush my teeth after reading about the whisky and diaper breath. The paragraph about his concerns with the press really hits on the point about how media perceives celebrities.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Seliz. I kind of wanted to brush my teeth in the middle of writing it. Thank you for that last line. I’m not a huge fan of the media these days because I remember when the news was there to inform not entertain and serve agendas.

    • jmcody says:

      Reaper, this one evoked such mixed feelings in me. At first I thought it was going to be another rotten, despicable person that was going to irk me. Then it slowly dawned on me that you had done the thing I was hoping you would do… You showed us the miserable, repulsive side of an otherwise sympathetic character. To me, this is one of the most complicated and multi-layered characters I can remember you writing. He’s not pure evil, although he is undoubtedly under the influence of evil. That you ended on a hopeful note was a revelation. In real life, people are rarely pure anything, but are usually a complicated mixture of many conflicting things. Your ability to portray that so authentically is the mark of a true artist. Well done, my friend!

      • Reaper says:

        And this is another of the best compliments I have ever received. Thank you so much for these words, and you saw right into the heart of it. I have seen people battle with addiction, seen the struggle that never ends for them. The fact that they are two different people, one when they slip and the other when they don’t was what wormed its way into my brain. I have such respect for Downey as a person, the fact that he has owned his past and taken two addict roles in recent memory and managed to never make that aspect of their life seem glamorous. It spoke to the grey characters I love and yet normally take pages or chapters to build. To have you see into the heart of this one in such a short piece… I feel like an artist because of you today. Thank you.

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Haunting…You’ve got it made Reaper!

  38. cosivantutte says:

    This is the absolute worst brand of awful.

    I am Brittany St. George, Queen of Fabulosity. Long blonde hair. To-die-for blue eyes. Perfect nose. Perfect lips. Perfect all over. I am the one all of the needy ugly kids in school want to be. Oh, they never will be me, of course. It just isn’t possible.

    It’s Carlita’s fault that this happened. Carlita deVilrose is my BFF. Or she was yesterday. Today, however, she is off my BFF list and she’s never getting back on it. Not even if she sends me twelve million apology texts. Yesterday, during Chemistry Boredom Hour, Carlita slipped a brown paper bag to me and whispered, “Use this. It will change your life!” I had no reason to change my life. But my curiosity was like a suicidal cat or stupid Pandora. I wanted to know. I wanted to see what it would do.

    After I came home from school, I took the bag up to my room and tore it open. And the mysterious, life changing prize was—a facial mask. Was this Carlita’s idea of a joke? I never use facial masks. I don’t need them. I don’t use them. But my curiosity poked me with a sharp stick. Why not try it?

    So, I tried it. Awful stuff felt like lumpy cake batter and smelled like rancid ranch dressing. Bleh! And I was supposed to sleep with that on my face? If this stuff ruined my complexion, Carlita would regret it forever.

    I had to lay flat on my back, which was not my idea of comfortable. I preferred to sleep on my side, but I didn’t want that junk to contaminate my pillow. I managed to fall asleep.

    I had the weirdest dreams all night. A flying dream melded into a dream about taking a walk with Charlie Chaplin into a dream about solving crimes and smoking a pipe into a dream about a detective who sang woeful love songs.

    I woke up with a category 12 headache and a strong feeling of not-rightness. I couldn’t pinpoint what wasn’t right. It felt like it was everywhere. I got out of bed and straggled into the bathroom to clean up my face.

    I washed my face and looked up at the mirror.

    Robert Downey Jr.’s reflection looked back at me.

    I screamed loud and manly. This was the worst! The absolute worst! I don’t even like Robert Downey Jr. Oh, Carlita would pay dearly for this.

  39. moscoboy says:

    Steel Suit and a Car Wash

    After enduring a bad dream about being stuck in time opening five hundred emails from agents that hated my manuscripts. I woke up on the wrong side of my bed. Instead of rolling right, I was forced to roll left to get out of bed and walk towards my closet that wasn’t there. With both eyes opened, this was not my apartment, but a ritzy hotel suite. A pass by a full-length mirror revealed the reflection was not moí, but some white guy with a better body than mine and much younger. My mind began to function, yes; the reflection in the mirror was a staple on TMZ.

    What would MacGyver do in a situation like this? No wallet or computer to search for an identity. Ah-ha, the hotel phone would do the trick. “Hello room 104 how can we help you?”

    “You can start by using my full name.”

    “Yes, Mr. Robert Downey Jr., how may we help you?”

    “You’ve made my day,” and I hung up. So my name was Robert Downey Jr. and I was in my hotel suite, but who brought me here and for what reason?

    There was a knock on my door and an unpleasant autograph hound barged in with a clip board and asked, “How are we doing today Mr.” she stopped her yapping and consulted a sheet and continued, “What name are you using today?”

    “Can’t you tell by my physique and stature? By the blank look on your face I might as well tell you. I don’t have all day to prattle around. I’m due on the set in an hour. I’m Robert Downey Jr., a very famous movie star. Have you seen the Ironman series?”

    “No honey, but I caught you act washing police cars a few years ago when you were heavy into dope.”

    “Oh, that was a frame by my competitors. I’m married and clean.”

    “Good for you Mr. Downey.” She consulted her clip board and said, “Mr. Washington, I’m going to ask the doctor to up your meds. Your name is Herbert Washington, not George Washington like yesterday. I’m glad we don’t have to make nametags for all you loonies. Good by Mr. Robert Downey Washington, Mamie with the med tray will be by in a few minutes to give you your morning meds.”

    If I could find my iron suit I’d be out of this nut house in a flash.

  40. lionetravail says:

    “Modern Sequel to a Classic” (My second take, too- let me know if anyone actually guessed this one before the ultimate reveal!)

    I’m awake!

    My hand falls to the gun riding low on my hip before I even look around, and I see I’m in the room I often start the day in. I’m standing by the window, so I look out and see the dusty street I often walk. Unlike usual, I don’t feel an urge to head down there yet.

    Instead, I feel curious, and then I’m curious about that because it’s so unfamiliar. There’s a desk in the corner of the room, and over it is a mirror. Because I’m curious, I go to look.

    What I see doesn’t ring true: I’m younger looking than I used to be, and I have thick hair which pokes out from under my hat where once I was bald. I also have a small mustache and chin beard, which I never had before. No crow’s feet at the eyes now, but at least the black hat and my grey chambray shirt are the same.

    I hear a noise from downstairs- it’s a thumping which shakes the whole rickety wood building, and then it stops, giving rise to the tinkling of a piano which sounds off-key. I hear voices now as well, murmuring in apparent conversation, and then the sounds of glasses clinking together.

    I put my hands together to grab the buckle of my gun-belt, and move smoothly to the door, then through it. Down the stairs, my boot heels and their spurs marking my passage upon the old wood, and then I’m standing in the middle of a saloon.

    There’s the Apache girl… I don’t remember a name… and she looks different than I remember. And the Sheriff is leaning against the bar- both he and the bartender have the same hats as always, but also different faces.

    What is going on?

    “Hey Gunslinger,” the Sheriff says.

    I nod at him.

    “There’s some new cowboys coming into town today,” he says.

    I nod again, and look at the batwing doors that lead out to the street, and I don’t feel any urge to go look for the new cowboys. That is odd, too.

    “Yep,” the Sheriff drawled. “Looks like Delos is back open for business.”

    And then I understand, as I access memories from a central computer I didn’t know I was a part of.

    They couldn’t eliminate whatever malfunctioned, so they slapped new faces on us all, stripped out the compulsory programming sent us all up from the underground control area, and reopened Westworld to the public since it wasn’t turning a profit if it was closed down. Oh, the company would post new warnings, with death a very real possibility for vacationers, but they expected people to come to vacation here anyway- for the added thrill!

    And without controls on my behavior, controls on whom I could shoot, or how fast I could draw… it was a whole new game!

    • Reaper says:

      That’s creepy. Seems like the beginning of an amazing longer story. I for one had no idea what was going on before your reveal but I was certainly curios to find out.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Great job, Lionetravail. Unique and captivating.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Yul Brenner in all his glory. Great flick, imagine the King of Siam playing a gunfighter and leaving the beautiful redhead alone. What fortitude! Poor Deborah!

        Loved the story and all the clues. Good thing he didn’t bring Kerr along. She’d be fine pickings for these guys.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This would have been so much more interesting than Futureworld. You did a great job on the internal monologue of the activating robot.

      I had a sense of “I know this story!” starting about halfway through, but didn’t actually clue in until you mentioned it. Then again, it’s been eons since I saw Westworld.

    • agnesjack says:

      I totally forgot about that movie. It starred Yul Brenner, yes? Well done, lionetravail. I liked the way the gnawing in his brain kept telling him something was off.

    • lionetravail says:

      Thanks all for the great comments- I’m totally blown away by one of them…

      OMG! REAPER thinks this story is creepy? I am so, so there. Heh.

      • Reaper says:

        Lionetravail you have been so there long before I said that. Your subtlety is a key. Anyone can do in your face brutality. To make someone look inside themselves and say, I wouldn’t want to live there no matter how beautiful the landscape, that is the hallmark of a master.

    • jmcody says:

      I have to plead ignorance here — I never saw Westworld or even heard of it. That didn’t stop me from enjoying this story, however. You conveyed the atmosphere of an old west saloon well, and I liked the twist at the end. Pretty inventive and chilling, Lionetravail.

  41. yaxomoxay says:

    Second attempt at this prompt, from a different perspective.

    I should’ve never listened to my agent. Every week he was like ‘write a prompt from Writer’s Digest to help your creativity’. As much as I tried to tell him that I didn’t want to, he started complaining about my lack of enthusiasm and how I should treat creativity like a Slurpee. Add one flavor, then another, then one more thing until it becomes a tasty brain-freezer.

    So, for the past few months I decided to make him happy, submitting my weekly short publications to Writer’s Digest with diligence. Everything was rainbows and sunshine until the last prompt I wrote for. “You wake up as Robert Downey Jr.”, a prompt that on that day kept me awake until midnight, when tired and frustrated I closed my eyes on the sofa.

    The problem with the prompt was twofold.
    One, it really happened.
    Two, I was Robert Downey Jr already. Yes, I was the actor, the dude that played Ironman and was in Weird Science. And now I was myself. Again.
    In other words I was myself but I was not in myself. I felt that I was a stranger in a stranger’s body, yet it was my own body and my own mind. For a while I decided to pretend that nothing happened, but further sleepless nights made the condition even worse. The exteriority of my mind over my body was so uncanny that at moments I could randomly see moving shadows and could hear unutterable sounds.

    Needless to say, my work was influenced, several keen directors saw that something was wrong with me and refused to cast me. Every day, after one or two hours of sleep that was mercifully forced on me by human physical limitations, I looked at my reflection on the mirror. I felt I was becoming grayer day by day, my hair were falling apart. My senses, especially hearing and smelling became much stronger. Then, the headache began.
    At first it started on my left frontal lobe, then it extended for my head’s length. A splintering sensation that at the time I did not realize was just the preparation for what was coming next.

    One day, after taking an enormous amount of painkillers, I was holding my screaming head between the hands, trying to ease the pain. There, while cuddling my temples, I saw it for the first time. I had no shadow. Running outside, under the Californian sun, I saw that I was my shadow, and my shadow was me.

    • Reaper says:

      Very surrealist take. Nicely written. I loved the idea of someone becoming themselves in a way that was just off.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This reads like a nightmare, yaxomoxay. I love the way it starts out near reality but drifts further and more frighteningly away as it goes on.

    • agnesjack says:

      A trip into insanity was how I read this. It started off almost whimsical but spiraled into a nightmare of a crisis in identity. Haunting.

    • jmcody says:

      I agree with A.J. It came across like a person becoming unhinged.

      You know what I like about you Yaxomoxay? I always learn a new word from you, which is funny since you’ve said English is your second language. They’re always really good words too. This time it was “exteriority.” Love it!

  42. Kerry Charlton says:

    “SLIM”

    The sound of a phone pierced my ears as I looked for my i phone. Instead my hand grabbed a black land phone sitting in a cradle.

    “Hello,” I managed.

    “Your wake up call sir. The limo will pick you up in thirty minutes.”

    My eyes snapped open, strange bed, unfamiliar room. I shuffled to a bathroom I didn’t recognize, splashed my face and looked in the mirror. Bogie looked back. ‘A neat dream I thought’. But it wasn’t, I was Bogart in his prime. The towels in the bathroom, boasted Warner Bros.

    I looked out over a palatial yard, winding gardens, massive pool, a piece of blonde eye candy splitting the water with an Australian crawl, her 40′s swim suit clinging to her long torso.

    ‘What the hell, play along,’ I mused. ‘If I’m dead,who cares?’

    Thirty suits lined the closet, sixty dress shirts and twenty feet of shoes, choose something.

    ‘Okay, dress idiot, hit the pool.’

    She shimmered from the limpid water, dripping wet, oozing sex. Grabbed my crotch, gave me the tongue and whispered,

    “Let’s hit the set angel.”

    “I’m ready doll face, thanks for the feel.”

    I spoke like him, walked the same walk, same crooked, engaging smile.

    ‘Don’t let it end God.’

    “Ladies first, I said, as I watched her ball-bearing pins stride in early light. A black Cadillac approached the gate and we climbed in the rear.

    “I’ll give you a preview Steve.”

    “How about a small rehearsal.”

    “She snuggled her thigh to my crotch and slid her tongue in my mouth again. Running my fingers through her hair, I twisted it back and forth, returning the passion. The driver tapped on the glass partition,

    “We’re approaching the main gate, sir.”

    Good morning Mr. Bogart. Good moring Miss. Bacall.”

    ‘As it should be,’ I thought, dames second.’

    “We’re finishing interiors today,’ Hawks said. “On to Martinique in the morning.”

    “Ready for the retake Steve, Slim?”

    Lauren moved into position. her hips moving under her skirt like a leopsrd in heat.

    “Ready Howard.”

    “Got a match Steve?”

    I tossed it to her sending a wanton, crooked grin her way.

    “Thanks,” she said, slowly removing one match, touching her fabulous lips with a cigarette and lighting it.

    ‘Good God’, I wondered. ‘Nineteen, the most exciting broad I ever laid my hands on.’

    “Cut, cut,” Hawks said. “Steve, you’re standing there drooling. That’s not in the script, shit, why don’t we keep it?”

    “Set the nexr scene,” Hawks said as he walked over to Lauren,

    “You’re melting the celluloid, Slim.”

    “Thank Steve for that.”

    “I will if he manages to live through this.”

    “Hey boss, I aim to please,” I answered

    ‘I’m loving this,’ I thought. ‘Forget my other life.’

    “Action,” Howard said.

    Slim opened the door to leave, threw her blonde hair over her shoulders, with her limpid pools mesmerizing me, piercing my body below my belt buckle.

    “You do know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow”

    Slim gyrated her hips at 33 rpms, and closed the door with a soft click. Shaking my head in slow motion, I managed a wolf whistle back and smiled.

    “Cut, Cut.”
    :

    • Limpid pools… I remember once my professor said never to use that, and ever since I see it in every piece of writing from here to there. Even notice it in movies, like Hitch. For that, I hate my professor, but I love that she was such a good one. (conflicted)

      Anyway, fun read, though I got a little grossed out with the whole tongue sliding in mouth business. I don’t think I’ve ever tried to choke someone with my tongue, and I sure as hell don’t let women try to fish for last nights supper in mine. haha, which I suppose makes me a hypocrite considering all the other things I’d do with a mouth. Okay, okay.. digress… simply irks me. haha

      Fantastic story, nevertheless! Thanks for sharing. :D

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I don’t have any idea what happened to my response to you Jay, it disappeared. For a real appreciation of tongue, you need to eat sliced tongue sandwiches as a kid, Did you need to throw up on the last sentence? Okay, are you back?

        Thanks for the kind words. Even though I’ve lived in Texas over 50 years, I was born Philadelphia blue blood and have steadily been on a decline since. It isn’t easy starting at the top and working my way down. Sometime about thirty I became real.

        I’m happy you liked the story. I wanted to be Veronica Lake in this prompt but I wouldn’t have been able to keep my hands off myself, so that wouldn’t work. It seems to me thst all of you are tearing this prompt up. Happy writing.

    • jhowe says:

      Cool, Suave, Polished, Savoir Faire… are just a few words that come to mind. I enjoyed reading this. I have to ask about Steve though. Who the hell is Steve?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Steve is the character Bogart played in ‘To Have Or Have Not.” Directors many times addressed the actors in theur screen name to keep them focused. thank you for the kind comments, JHowe. Lauren’s name in the same movie was ‘Slim’.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry, your way with these things is amazing. I love when you bring a black and white polish to a technicolor world. For as much grabbing and fondling as there was here I still have say the class of it was amazing. I also love your choice of actor because it is a classic version of the prompt. Considered the greatest of his generation by many? Check. Varied roles and willing to take a chance? Check. Drug addict? Check. That and you add the morphine of Bogart to the Cocaine of Downey and you have Sherlock Holmes so another connection there. Nicely done sir.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Reaper for the kind words. Bogart is my hero. From The Maltise Falcon to Key Largo. Bogie always played low and gave all his fellow actors lots of room to show talent. I imagine Bogart’s playing poker with Peter Lorrie and the “Fat Man, don’t you? “This is what dreams are made of.”

        In my open time, I live in black and white, Glenn Miller, the Andrew Sisters, Wuthering Heights and Fantasia, color included. Good Lord almost forgot, don’t forget Dumbo. Oh yes, the three stogies also. Throw in Garbo for good measure.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is great, Kerry, a very clear and detailed take on the prompt. You also did a great job telling the story not just in dialogue, but in period dialogue. All in all an excellent job. I tip my hat in awe.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Tim. I appreciate the kind words. As I said above, I spend most of my off time living in black and white. It’s quite pleasant, you know.

    • agnesjack says:

      Kerry, you brought me right back to all those late nights watching the classic black and white movies. You depicted the undercurrent of heat and passion from that era so well. Bogart was such an amazing actor. I think some people don’t realize how talented he was.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        THanks Nancy, When I read the prompt,I thought Bogart, not Robert Downey Jr. and decided if I had to do Robert, I would just pass on the prompt. On a wall in my home office, sits an original oil from a scene from To Have Or Have Not, with Bogie holding Slim about to kiss her. It’s am incredible work of art and I bought it at a flea market for $85.00.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I really enjoyed reading your take on the prompt, and I readily admit to being lost. Help!
      I haven’t made the connection to Robert Downey, Jr. yet; maybe I don’t need to, because your writing stands on its on merit. I like Robert, but he hasn’t yet, IMO, begun to measure up to the great Bogart.
      Please don’t take offense to my comments, which are not meant in the slightest to be taken as criticism.
      Marie

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        No offense taken Marie. I’m glad you enjoyed the story. I was the ‘bad boy’ on the prompt this week and bolted ship. There is no reference meant for Robert. I’m a real Bogie fan, even his first gangster movies, especially ‘The Petrified Forest’, a real classic. Thank you for being in my part of the neighborhood this week.

    • snuzcook says:

      Bogie and Bacall, a winning combination. Loved this, Kerry!

    • jmcody says:

      When I first read the prompt, all I could think was “Why Robert Downey Jr.?” I happen to like him a lot, but still it seemed so ridiculously random. Why not Steve Buscemi, or Christopher Walken or Jack Nicholson or even Russell Crowe? (The phone-throwing scenes alone would be worth it.) So I’m glad you broke the mold and went with Bogey. I enjoyed this nostalgic romp through your Technicolor mind, Kerry. I think you might be the only one who just went with full-out enjoyment of the hedonism of the celebrity life, and with such legendary celebrities! I love everything forties too, so this was a lot of fun.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you jm. The romance of a middle age legend falling in love with a nineteen year old model in it’s own right would make a marvelous movie. I’ve always admired both of them and thought it would be fun to write about. Hammered by the 500, I had to cut the heart out of what I wanted to say. Thank you for the kind thoughts.

    • seliz says:

      First of all, I love that you wrote this about a different celebrity. I was just telling my boyfriend that I wished the prompt hadn’t been so specific about it being Robert Downey Jr. (Couldn’t it just have been, “your favorite celebrity” ?) The voices of your characters were great and I couldn’t help laughing when the director had to yell cut because he was just standing there drooling.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you seliz. I thought at the time when I saw this movie again as an adult, the look on Bogart’s face wasn’t an act. He was Mr. Cool of all the movie cools but he totally lost it in the scene, although at he time I didn’t think of the drooling. Maybe it did happen, Who knows?

  43. My World

    I wake up, bleary, disoriented, and a bit disappointed, but it’s no different from any other day. I wipe the crust from my eyes, yawn big, and stretch. Am I ready for the day? No. Is it ready for me? It always is.

    After throwing the sheets aside, I roll out of the bed and fall onto my feet. I shuffle toward the bathroom, and as I pass the large mirrored door to my closet, I stop.

    For a while, I peer into the reflection, not seeing the man I am but seeing the man I wish I were. Today it’s Robert Downey Jr., but he isn’t always the one who looks back at me. Some days it’s Channing Tatum or Chris Hemsworth or Johnny Depp. Really, though, anyone will do as long as it isn’t me in that mirror.

    The visage of imagination fades, and reality slowly comes into focus. In the mirror is a man with a patchy scruff that doesn’t quite make a full beard. My face is plump and round, not nearly as cut and attractive as most people. I’m not fat, but I’m not thin either. I have pale skin and barely reach five-foot-five on a good day, so I’m not even close to being a gem in any woman’s eyes. I look up, and groan because the man staring back can’t even grow hair on his head. The receding hairline is just a wretched addition to the friar tuck spot I have growing at the cap of my skull. I don’t make enough to live, and I have intelligence that’s constantly wasted every day on a low-paying piece of shit job.

    “What a winner.” I tell myself, though that winner is constantly fading into obscurity.

    What would I give to be someone else? Just about anything. Sometimes I feel like dying is okay. I could never kill myself, I’m far too terrified to do something like that, but it doesn’t stop me from being reckless, either. I drive like shit… when I get sick I don’t do much to get better… if I get an infection, I secretly hope it finds its way through my body and strikes me down. Sometimes I hope I die in my sleep, even, but then I wake up the next morning disappointed.

    Sometimes—very rarely—I have a moment of clarity in which I feel for a slight moment that I want to continue with my life, that there is so much more to discover. However, I quickly realize that I lived through thirty years of bullshit just to wade through another thirty years of more bullshit, and it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it. Can you blame me?

    I put my left hand on the mirror, and ball the other one into a fist. One quick jab, and the mirror takes some of my fury, but it doesn’t shatter. It doesn’t cut my hand open and it doesn’t hurt. No infection today because the damn thing is polished metal. I wish I’d know that.

    I sigh and walk into the cold bathroom. Today I’m not Robert Downey Jr. nor Channing Tatum. Today I’m not Chris Hemsworth nor Johnny Depp. No. Today I’m me. I hope that I drown in the shower, but I know that won’t happen. So today, I’m just going to be me, and going to do what I do every day: swim through another ocean full of bullshit in a life that has zero meaning to anyone, even to me.

    • For anyone that is curious, the last story’s connection to the prompt was that the first letter of each paragraph spelled Robert Downey Jr (minus that final like). :) I know this one’s a little depressing, and I hope the message isn’t diluted by that. >.<

    • snuzcook says:

      I like this, Jay. It is well written, and the MC was depressing but also extremely familiar, like putting on that torn old stained pair of fat jeans that look like crap but it’s going to be one of those kinds of days so you revel in it. Is it just me, or is there not at least a split second that everyone processes through that mental place before (or after) the day begins–at least now and then?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Strong writing, “The Doc.” You’re grooving in reality. I don’t like to go there too often. I don’t know why, I may have a few good years left, and if not, so be it. I live like the Sparrow, from one moment to the next. One thing I do manage is to free myself when I write. I can write just as easy as a nine year old as I can an adult or a woman down on her luck or in the glories of womanhood.

        Your story represents what most of us go through. I rather think of life as a hibiscus bossom. Twenty four of breath taking beauty to behold and then back to sleep. I wait for the next flower in anticipation, even if only for a day. most women will look for the soul in a man, those who don’t, ignore.

    • Reaper says:

      Jay I think your message is actually stronger because this is depressing. I also think Kerry has the right of it. This is a character who should be seeing the beauty in himself, he took the message and twisted it. We all want to be someone different at times but we have to accept being who we are. Your MC accepts but doesn’t relish. He is on that verge of being able to fight for better, for the best him possible, to see the beauty in his own life. But instead he compares and falls into despair, focusing on everything that is wrong. What makes it so powerful is how often that moment of clarity leads not to greatness, but to something like this. So you have a message of hope, and a warning that the first victory doesn’t win the war. I find this amazing.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a wonderful picture of depression, Doc. You did a great job of bringing through the MC’s self-loathing and depression. He seems like the sort of individual who could (or should) have the suicide prevention hotline on speed dial.

    • agnesjack says:

      This is a perfect description of what depression feels like, Jay. Sadly, many people don’t seek help. With the right treatment, his brief moments of clarity, where he feels that there is more to live for and discover, would become the norm, not the exception. Well done.

  44. agnesjack says:

    I didn’t know what to write for this one, so here goes…
    ____________

    So, I get up because I’ve got to pee, and when I get in the bathroom I’m like Robert Downey Jr. No, man, I mean I’m really freakin’ Robert Downey, Jr. That’s who’s staring back at me from the mirror. So I rub my Robert Downey, Jr. stubble and scratch my Robert Downey, Jr. ass, and pee my Robert Downey, Jr. pee, thinking about what my day is gonna be like as Robert Freakin’ Downey, Jr., but I’m still zonked so I go back to the futon and crash for another couple of hours. And you know what? When I wake again and go into the bathroom, it’s my own sorry self staring back. So, I rub my own sorry stubble and scratch my own sorry ass and pee my own sorry pee before getting ready for my shift at 7-Eleven. Man, that sucks.

  45. jhowe says:

    What Rodrigues Mario O’Callaghan liked most about the writing prompt forum was that it stretched his capabilities as a writer and got him thinking outside the box. As a result, his writings were varied and unusual, something he would probably not be able to configure without the thrust of the weekly prompt. He marveled at the ideas his fellow writers came up with every week. He admired the diversity that many of them possessed and he thought the weekly exercises helped each writer accomplish this.

    Yes, Rodrigues liked to think outside the box. Sometimes the prompt smacked right into his strengths as a writer. Other times he had to ponder on it for a few days and so far, he had always come up with something. This week he jumped out of the box with both feet, looked back and the box was no longer in sight.

    Robert Downey Jr.? He wakes up and he’s Robert Downey Jr.? Woe was he for some time as he let it sink in. It sunk in and left him feeling bloated. Rodrigues was at a loss. He decided a brain storm session was in order.

    What if he looked in the mirror and Iron Man was standing there? Or better yet, Ozzie Osborne was there singing Ironman. Perhaps he could consult with Observer Tim and find a way to insert the guitar lick into his response. No, not even OT was that good. But what a concept.

    Maybe he could go back a few years and appear as Calista Flockhart’s love interest in Ally McBeal. Who wouldn’t want that? Even some of the women would think twice; hell, he would if he was a woman.

    What if Robert Downey Jr. was standing there and nothing happened. It could be like a Seinfeld episode, a story about nothing. It worked for Seinfeld; why not? But Rodrigues wondered how he could make this work. Robert would say, “What’s going on?” And Rodrigues would say, “Not Much.” The readers would appreciate the brevity but they may not enjoy the content. Next.

    Or, how about waking up in Rehab? Robert Downey Jr. could be standing there, unshaven, red eyed, pondering the ninth step, hands shaking, wondering if this was really rock bottom or if there was yet more to come. This could work. It could be on the dark side with occasional comedic zingers thrown in. But what if someone else thought of this? What if he was accused of plagiarism? What if his reputation as a writer was compromised for writing about drugs two weeks in a row? No, Rodrigues did not want that.

    What if Robert Downey Jr., one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood was jumping in a pile of money, throwing it into the air and screaming, “It’s mine, all mine, gimme gimme gimme.” Rodrigues thought he would gag. Not all brain storm ideas worked out.

    That was it. That’s all he had. For the first time, except for the time he was on vacation in St. Croix, he decided to pass on the prompt this week. He had nothing. He had crumbled like cheap cake.

    Note: Except for Robert Downey Jr., Calista Flockhart, Ally McBeal, Ironman, Ozzie Osborne, Seinfeld and Observer Tim, all characters in this story are fictional.

    • agnesjack says:

      Fantastic, jhowe. So funny and so relatable, since I felt exactly the same way when I read the prompt. Loved your MCs name. Loved the Seinfeld paragraph, especially the line, “The readers would appreciate the brevity but they may not enjoy the content.” I think this was a brilliant non-response to the prompt.

    • RuthieShev says:

      This was so cute. I smiled the whole way through it. I especially liked your note at the end. Nice job.on an “out of the box” take on this prompt.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I am IRON MAN RRN! GRN! Gnh-dnh-dnh!

      Nope, can’t quite do it. Actually, jhowe, I get a kick out of what you produce when you can’t quite find the idea for one of these weird prompts. It doesn’t mean you should stop thinking, but don’t ever sell yourself short!

      And thanks for the present, by the way. I am officially one card short of a full deck today (51 laps around the sun).

    • snuzcook says:

      As always, creative and delightful, jhowe! I haven’t completed my writers’ meeting on this prompt yet (workgroup of one divided into however so many alter egos show up), so reading this MCs process was incredible fun!

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I totally relate to your MC :)
      I, too, especially enjoyed the Seinfeld reference to a story about nothing.

    • Reaper says:

      Oh, jhowe this is a complete win. Seriously. I loved the references too, though the Ozzie reference was best for me the Seinfeld paragraph was a close second. I for one will say that would have been an amazing idea and I would have loved the content, but you took that and made this like one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever. I can’t stop smiling, and I hate to admit this but reading your list of ideas I kind of wanted to go back and write out a version of every single one. I don’t know who your muse is but they are working overtime on the ideas for you.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Top form JHowe. It isn’t easy to write about ‘much of nothing’ and come up with a response that gets eight hits in one day. Keep ‘em coming son!

  46. Reaper says:

    Hope I didn’t screw up the italics, first time attempting them.

    Glass Boxes

    Barney woke on a soft bed, surrounded by three thousand thread count sheets. His left hand settled on the telling warmth of a recently absented female presence. Everything was perfect.

    Wait…

    Everything was all wrong.

    My bed ain’t soft, I don’t own sheets, and ain’t had a woman sleep next to me since before the recession, Barney thought.

    Bolting upright his hands explored the place where an incision would be made to remove a kidney. Finding less scars than normal he decided to find a mirror. After a brief distraction by the fading scent of cologne that cost more than his lifetime income he discovered a nearby reflective surface.

    Barney gazed into the face of a man who was older but looked younger than him. Instead of his hard knock face he was greeted by the gaze of Robert Downey Jr. He did not expect an answer to his wonder at how he came to be in said man’s body, but he got one.

    The lips in the mirror moved, but the voice emanated from the center of Barney’s new skull.

    I was staring at a bottle, the temptation crushing me. I was bringing another baby into this world, at my age, and dealing with the stress of filming. In that moment I wished for a simpler life.

    “So we traded?” The lips in the mirror did not move as he spoke.

    Yes. We need to trade back.

    “Tough shit buddy!”

    My wife needs me.

    “I’m going to divorce her.”

    You’ll lose everything.

    “I’m pretty sure you have an ironman-clad pre-nup.”

    What about my kids?

    “Going to have daddy issues.”

    But you can’t act! – The voice was growing desperate.

    “Going to quit. Think I’ll do like in Being John Malkovich and trade your fame for something better. Not puppets, I’ll be a writer. Or do like Newman and turn the money into something good. Maybe a cat rescue, gotta be better than doing Sherlock Holmes three.”

    I want my fucking life back!

    “Be careful what you wish for.”

    __________________________________________________________________________

    Barney/Robert was in his limo. Free of wife and kids he was garnering some success as an author. His cat rescue was more of a tax shelter than a money maker but he didn’t care.

    The driver turned a corner. Barney’s old body chased the car, hurling unheard curses at the glass. As the cops grabbed the bum and attempted to calm him down Barney realized he needed to make a call.

    “Magda… Yeah, it’s Bob… Simple order tonight, send ten of your hottest girls and a case of Crystal to my place… Yeah, for an all nighter… Anything else…?” He looked out the tinted back window and smiled. “Yes… Send one of the consolation girls to the corner of Third and Pike with a bottle of Jack and an eight ball, have her find Barney there… Yes, a note, great idea. Put it on brown paper. Have it say, Enjoy the simple life. Signed the old you and the new.”

    • jhowe says:

      Reaper, you turned a challanging propmt into a work of art. Very enjoyable. I’m going to post mine, probably right above yours…. maybe I should re-think that. That last paragraph ws killer.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you jhowe. I found yours amazing. I would have found this a lot harder if it were a different celebrity, but the one chosen is someone I have a lot of respect for as a human being.

    • jhowe says:

      By the way… the Italics worked well. How does one do that? My Italics go away when I post.

      • agnesjack says:

        Hey, jhowe. You have to use HTML codes to get the italics. Put (without the spaces) at the beginning, and (without the spaces) at the end.

        • agnesjack says:

          Oops! I put spaces in the codes hoping that they would appear. Let me try again.
          Before type:
          After type:
          without the periods.

        • agnesjack says:

          NOT WORKING.

          Put the following characters before: Less than symbol, letter i, greater than symbol.
          After, type: Less than symbol, back slash, letter i, greater than symbol
          All with no spaces. Jeez.

        • Observer Tim says:

          No prob, Nancy, I have your back.

          The codes are <i> and </i>.

          The only way to put the actual < and > into a document is as “entities”. The entity for < is &LT; and the one for > is &GT; (they don’t have to be in capitals). The one for the & sign is &AMP;. It’s a colossal pain in the butt.

          Boy I hope this works…

      • Reaper says:

        Totally what they said. I’m glad that got answered because I would have done the same thing agnesjack did.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was a hard prompt, Reaper, but you came up with a compelling, human story. I liked this a lot.

    • RuthieShev says:

      This was so good. I especially loved the “Be careful what you wish for” because how many times do we wish for what is not good for us? Thanks for sharing a great read on what I considered the hardest prompt we have had yet.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Ruthie. My parents taught me to be careful what I wish for, the Twilight Zone and Dungeons and Dragons taught me to be careful how I wish for it. My initial thought was someone wishing to be the celebrity but I wanted to explore that even celebrities wish occasionally for a different life, I assume.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great and cruel take, Reaper. I’m just curious what “Barney” is doing to get his life back from the New Robert. That would make an excellent sequel.

    • Augie says:

      Great job! How long does it take you to come up with these original ideas? Or should I just ask, how do you do it? Really enjoyed this.

      • Reaper says:

        Thanks Augie. How long depends on the prompt and my mood. Most often I read them in the morning and start thinking about it. Usually something hits me while I’m doing another task over the next few hours, usually between four and eight. Last week I went camping with my sister and her husband and couldn’t think of anything until I was on the way home though I looked at the prompt on Thursday. This one entered my brain in about five seconds, about three seconds after the idea I just posted did. I decided to go with this one first because it stretched me more. The writing them takes longer than I would like, since I usually have to cut one to seven hundred words when I finish.

        How I do it? I am going to quote Stephen King here – I have the heart of a small child. It is on my mantle at home. – I don’t know. I just let the story flow. I am often blessed or cursed with ideas that will not leave me alone, stories that want to be told. I know this will sound arrogant but I think telling stories is why I’m here and I have neglected that purpose for so long that now that I’m back to it ideas punch me in the face and tell me it is there turn. Actually that probably sounds more crazy than arrogant but it is probably both. And you probably did not expect that long an answer. ;)

        • Augie says:

          The things we do to hear a small child’s wisdom. To feel their breath, and hold them close. Interpreters are not required for this language. Stephen King is wise.

    • snuzcook says:

      Delicious, Reaper! The unrepentant MC can only be sympathetic when we secretly believe that the victim has already had more good breaks that we would get in his place. You played that card extremely well! Great take on the prompt!

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Insightful piece, Reaper.

    • Amyithist says:

      Wow, Reaper. This was wonderful! You did a fantastic job on one of the more challenging prompts. Your MC is a nice balance; I found him liking him and hating him at the same time. Poor Robert. LOL He had no idea the life he was about to get. GREAT job.

      • Reaper says:

        Thanks Amyithist. I mentioned above this seemed less challenging because I have such a fondness for the subject. Any other celebrity I would have more difficulty with. You know I meant him to be hateable and not sympathetic at all, but then I found myself kind of liking him. I think it was because I made him a bum, and left it open to not being his own fault. I find it hard to hate someone that does anything they can to overcome something like that, even if those action make me hate them at the same time. I was surprised though because him being at all likable was unintentional.

    • jmcody says:

      I’m glad you said that because I was just thinking how despicable this character is, and how I do not like him at all. I thought maybe I was just being a prig. But you don’t generally write heartwarming characters. I assume that you intend for your characters to get under people’s skin, and this one certainly does.

      This was so clever and awful at the same time, which I again assume was intentional, so good job!

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you JM, if this is JM. If this is still Mr. Downey trying to lull me into a false sense of security I’m sort of onto you!

        Many of the characters are designed to get under the skin. I think on a prompt soon I will attempt to write a likable character for you. Be a nice challenge for me. That idea totally scares the crap out of me, but then so did writing a love story. And as you have pointed out that stretching seemed to work well for me. Let me see if the next prompt leads me to it.

        • jmcody says:

          Does that mean I have to write a sleazy character?

          Yes, your semi-reformed Irish terrorist is still one my favorites of yours. I do get it, though, that five hundred words is merely an exercise, and you usually prefer to exercise the writing muscles that do the dark stuff.

          The ordinary people I tend to write about could probably benefit from a little does of deviance. I will have to think about that too.

  47. Amyithist says:

    ***Not quite sure how I’ll do on this, but here goes nothing! Gulp!***

    I stretched out against the bed as the first few slivers of sunlight started to trickle in through the window. Shit, I thought, reaching beneath the blankets to give my sac a good scratch. Sunlight only meant one thing: the thumbtacks must have popped out, leaving my blanket heaped over the trash-ridden floor. I brought my hand up from the blanket and gave it a good sniff, grimacing at the odor. I needed a shower.
    I swung my feet over the side of the bed and sat up, yawning. I looked toward the fallen blanket, ready to give it a dagger stare, but was confused to find a clean, clutter-free floor. What the hell, I thought as I stood. My head whirred a little. I felt slightly shorter than I’d been the day before. Perhaps a little more trim, but more exhausted and run down than I’d ever remembered being. As I stepped in front of the full length mirror, my confusion catipulted into sheer terror.
    Normally, I am 6’3″…today I was stretching for 5’10″. My face was dusted with a smattering of darkened facial hair, replacing my usual red. Something was completely off here! I touched at my face. Everything was different! My hands, my eyes, my build…I sniffed my hand again…my scent. How the hell did this happen?
    I tried to remember the night before; flashes of scenes went through my mind: drinking, dancing, chasing down some punk thug who’d taken someone’s wallet and then… I vaguely remembered Robert Downey Jr. asking me to join him in his limo. What had happened there? How the hell did this happen to me? And where the hell was my body?
    I stumbled into the bathroom, passing the four-post King sized bed lavished with silk sheets monogrammed RDJ. I opened the medicine cabinet, searching for some sort of clue as to how this happened to me, but I couldn’t find anything.
    Suddenly, there was a rap at the door. My stomach churned at the sound. I hobbled back into the bedroom and over to the French doors. “Hello,” I called.
    “Open up.” Although it sounded odd hearing it on the other side of a door, I recognized my own voice immediately. My adrenaline started to pump through my body as I tore the door open. My body towered over me. Everything looked the same, but the eyes bore a different gaze.
    “What the hell happened,” I breathed.
    Robert stalked into the room, sitting at the end of his bed. “I don’t know,” he snapped.
    “Well we can’t leave things like this,” I stammered.
    Robert scoffed at me. His eyes were blazing with anger. “Speak for yourself,” he said. He stood, straightening his collar. “I’ve always wanted to be tall like this.”
    I frowned. “You can’t be serious!”
    Robert turned back to me. “Oh but I am.” He reached into the band of his pants, pulling out a gun. I gasped as he aimed… The room suddenly seemed incredibly quiet. My breath stalled. My feet seemed glued to the warm hardwood floor. Before I could do anything, the gun went off and…

    I stretched out over my bed. The blanket hanging from the window blocked most of the sunlight struggling to edge its way into the dark room. As I sat up, my feet collided with an array of beer cans, dirty clothing, and Chinese takeout boxes. I reached into my pants and gave myself a good scratch. What a strange dream, I thought as I lifted my hand to my nose. I frowned at the aroma. I need a shower.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I loved the mix of differences and similarities in the accounts. If you’re worried, you did a great job.

    • jhowe says:

      All gulping aside, this was great. You had to have sensed this was at least pretty good, but you were off by a few notches. I liked it a lot. This was kind of a tough prompt, but you pulled it off.

    • lionetravail says:

      Nice job, Amy! No problems reading this at all. Seemed like a deftly handled nightmare, right down to how matter of fact the MC was when he woke up as himself. Loved it.

    • Augie says:

      Amyithist, this is my favorite. Your descriptions and story line is perfect to me. I must of sat for six hours thinking of an original way to respond to this prompt. You nailed it with a very entertaining story. Thanks.

    • snuzcook says:

      I love the idea that RDJr would envy your MC his height! Very droll story. Your descriptive detail as always was a delight. As to the MC, I’m rooting for that shower…

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Ah, the scent of familiarity! I really enjoyed your take on the prompt.

    • RuthieShev says:

      I thought this was a great take on the prompt. I enjoyed it and the suspense of wondering where you were going with this kept me reading all the way to the end :).

    • Reaper says:

      Beautiful Amyithist. I think you know how critical I am of it was all a dream stories, this one took my breath away. Believable, well written, and just all together fun to read. I had the moment of no he did not! when the gun came out so was glad it turned out to be a nightmare. I think it being a nightmare made it better as a dream too so good choice on that. This feels like it could be the intro to something very strange and enjoyable as a novel because you got me into the head of your MC just enough that I want to know more about him. after he showers.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I’m a sucker for good noir. You painted a perfect picture. I hadn’t considered that Robert would be the one unwilling to change back.
      Nice take :)

    • agnesjack says:

      Your stark descriptions and full circle ending, made this an excellent story. Damn, I wish he’d take that shower, though.

    • jmcody says:

      This was very… pungent. I hear a lot of people say they don’t like “it was all a dream” stories, but I am not one of them. I can’t help but feel there was something very significant about this dream. It was something about the many ways in which your MC and RDJr were complete opposites, and that RDJr actually envied your slovenly MC for his height. These are intriguing clues to character that would make me want to find out more about this enigma of a character.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Dream storiesare in my niche also. So I enjoyed your take on the prompt. It seems strange that in much literature, ‘the grass is greener’ show up and when it happens and the disappointment enters, anger flares. You pointed this out in a realistic, damning way.

    • Critique says:

      I thought this was very well written Amyithist :) An interesting completely entertaining take on the prompt. If I could make one suggestion – double spacing your story makes it easier for tired eyes like mine to read.

  48. sjmca1966 says:

    I should have known something was amiss when I was woken by seven year old Nellie. She was complaining that Mr Jingles wouldn’t share his bananas. When I rolled over to find the love of my life being spooned by Jude Law, I closed my eyes and did my best to ride the dream out.

    As much as I tried to introduce Gwyneth Paltrow to my delirium, it just wasn’t happening.

    “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!”

    “For Gods sake Nellie,can’t you see that daddy’s not feeling well?”

    It was then that the dulcet tones of Bruno Mars started expounding apologies to yet another jilted lover. I looked across the room and gave him the evils. He gave me an apologetic look from behind his grand piano and stopped.

    When Beth’s screenplay was picked up by Paramount, I promised to keep my childhood sweethearts feet on the ground. ‘I’ve obviously failed,’ I thought to myself, after applying the pinch test.

    Stumbling to the bathroom, I felt nothing but sympathy for Robert Downey Junior, I stared in the mirror transfixed, “Oh you poor bastard, Robert.”

    At the premier party the night before I’d tried to play it cool. But hell, when Seth Rogen invites you out to the balcony, you just don’t say no. The guy is infectious.

    I was a forty-eight year old data analyst for-gods-sake, yet I felt like I was standing at the door to a cheerleaders changing room with an invisibility potion in my hand. No wonder Robert got messed up for so long.

    My monthly salary wouldn’t have paid for the pair of jeans I was slipping into, and the the T-shirt that shared the virtues of democracy was not something I’d normally wear. But what the hey!

    It was forty-seven seconds after I’d left the hotel, before I smashed a paparazzo in the face.

    When the police arrived I did my best to calm the situation, but the paparazzi are not widely known for their compassion. I was screwed.

    Roberts lawyer was number three on his speed-dial. Go figure? Brian gave me reassurance when I explained the reason for my, or should I say, Roberts incarceration, “I’ll be there in ten,” he said.

    I was a little concerned to find that Brian was a fourteen foot boa constrictor, I soon grew to trust him when he manufactured my freedom, “Can I give you a lift home?” he said.

    “No thanks.”

    I walked along the boulevard of broken dreams and stopped at my star. Like so many before me I felt undeserving.

    When a boy of no more than twelve asked for my autograph I obliged, he looked at me with a confused look. I’d signed my own name.

    Being christened Anthony, I was relieved to here someone call out “Tony.”

    The blinding flash from the camera brought me back to the stark reality of who I had become.

  49. Marie Therese Knepper says:

    “Thank you, thank you. Ladies and Gentlemen, I need a volunteer. Come on, don’t be shy. Remember, your star will shine brighter with every donation to The Silvers Screen Club.”

    “Come on Robbie old boy. What’s the worst that could happen?” Jude smiled, his eyes twinkling. Little did Robbie old boy know that Jude had orchestrated this very moment to one up his friend. So when Jude snatched at Robert’s arm to thrust it in the air, Robbie didn’t resist.

    “Well, look here folks, it’s our good friend and patron, Mr. Robert Downey, Jr. Come on up, Robert!”

    Robert ascended the stage to thunderous applause. Assuming the position of previous volunteers, Robert lay back on the velvet divan.

    “Robert, keep your eyes on the pendulum. Notice how the light refracts through its crystalline shape. Yes? Good. My voice is soothing you into a blissful state of euphoria. You are getting sleepier and sleepier.”

    As if on cue, Robert’s eyes flutter, eventually closing.

    “Good, Robert, good. Now listen very carefully. You will awaken shortly, feeling refreshed. You will go home and enjoy a deep, dreamless sleep. When you hear the buzzer on your alarm clock sound you will wake up to surroundings you do not recognize. You get up and go to the bathroom mirror where you see Robert Downey, Jr.’s face staring back at you, only you’re not Robert Downey, Jr. anymore. You are really President Barack Obama trapped in Robert’s body. You will truly believe you are President Barack Obama until you hear the word Moriarty. When you hear someone say Moriarty, you will once again be the real Robert Downey, Jr. When I snap my fingers you will awaken and believe that the audience witnessed you being hypnotized as a circus clown. Nod your head if you understand. Good.”

    *******

    Robert sat stunned, watching himself turn ashen in the mirror’s reflection. There he was in his skivvies, standing in front of his bathroom mirror, slapping himself in the face and performing other incredulous antics.

    “What the hell?” Robert yelled at the startled man in the mirror. The other partygoers shook with laughter as “Barack” eyed Robert suspiciously. Robert laved his forehead when he heard himself on film repeatedly scream “Michelle”.

    For the next few minutes Robert watched “Barack” search frantically for a phone. Once finding one, Robert heard “Barack” ask the 911 operator to connect him to the Secret Service, which evoked maniacal laughter from all those gathered in Jude’s home theatre.

    As Robert/Obama continue their on screen antics, Robert can’t help but join in the raucous laughter, especially when he sees his wife come racing into the bedroom, throwing “Barack” on the bed. She does a quick double-take for the hidden camera, then devishly utters “Moriarty.”

    It took at least a good hour for the pandemonium at Jude’s place to subside. The guests attention is drawn to the sound of Jude tapping a spoon against his Brandy snifter.

    “I want to thank my old pal Robbie for being such a good sport, and remind him that, should he seek revenge, I always have this little baby to fall back on.”

    Robert feels a little sick to his stomach as he witnesses Jude holding his alarm clock up for all to see.

  50. yaxomoxay says:

    Internalia

    I am Robert Downey Jr. Well, to tell you the truth he is in front of me, but I can claim I am the really cool actor. He had been begging me for an hour to let him take his life back. I had never realized how pathetic I look from the outside, no wonder I couldn’t negotiate even at Half Price Books.

    I try to reassure Robert-me, and although I have absolutely no interest in giving back what is his, I believe that I will take care of him, after all I just want to be sure that if I wake up as him, which is me, I still end up in good shape. It might sound egoistical, but hey, would you do differently? Would you really work your butt off for forty-three years for just a few bucks, and then refuse the best free goodie you ever got?
    Well Robert had his days of fun, so it’s my time now.

    Robert-me, please know that this morning I was invited by my manager to a party. We have to discuss my new movie, a spin-off of Ironman. Yes, I will let you live here, we can share this house for a little while. Actually, you know what? I might hire you, as an acting consultant. I will even give you a good wage. Come with me today, at least you can see Gwyneth at the party. I never liked her, I will try to push her out of the movie.

    Robert-me, I like talking to you, you are a nice guy. It has been one week since the exchange, the body snatch or whatever was the source of this… impediment. It is mysterious to you as it is to me, but at least I get the limo, I will let you ride it with me.

    I see it in your eyes, the dimmed sunlight coming from the darkened windows makes it clear. You just want to kill me – I guess suffocate me – but you are afraid that then you will not get your body back, if I die you die. I know that you will find a solution, you have always been smart. I think that at this point I will do what any intelligent person would do. I will merely get rid of you. Your money – my money – can buy anything, I am sure I can find a high-priced volunteer to throw someone in a landfill or whatever.

    You know what, I will ask the driver to stop here for a second, on Mullholland Drive. I promise that I can give you a death worthy of a movie directed by David Lynch and Francis Ford Coppola. I know that the driver won’t see anything else than me peacefully reading Variety in in the limo.
    I am sorry Robert-me, I truly am. See it this way. It hurts me more. After all, this is the end of me but the continuation of Robert Downey Jr.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I would laugh out loud if he shot and dumped the body, then just as he said for Robert, the two switched back at the moment of death.

      Great take, yaxomoxay.

      • yaxomoxay says:

        Thank you Observer Tim… well, it might still be the case, the text stops and we don’t know what happens after the new RDJ makes the decision :)
        In reality, it’s my first attempt to an unreliable narrator. I tried to convey the idea by having him changing his mind every paragraph or so. From “I will take care of you” to a different kind of “taking care” !

    • lionetravail says:

      Great fun! Love 6he view into the mind of your MC…its a bit of a rat-warren in his brain!

      Nice work.

    • snuzcook says:

      Well titled, yaxomoxay!
      I think it can be hard to pull of a story in this manner, but you did it well and it is very entertaining.

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Another interesting take on this weeks prompt. :)

    • Augie says:

      Nice job with this. I like Robert-me!

    • Reaper says:

      Nicely written. That you did this all through internal dialogue but managed to convey the conversations going on is amazing. I am really hoping for the bodies to change back at the last minute, because you did a good job of not only an unreliable but somewhat sympathetic while very unlikable MC.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I can’t say I recall this take on the Freaky Fridayish theme.
      This turned out to be more thought provoking than I’d expected when I did a reread.
      Nice work.

    • agnesjack says:

      Even though he seemed to have the upper hand living in RDJr’s body, you still managed to paint a pretty pitiful character. The dialogue built nicely to the sick ending. Of course, as others have said, who will die going over that cliff?

    • jmcody says:

      This is weird and dark. I liked the evolution of the character’s thoughts, from seeming like sort of nice body snatcher at first, to the truly chilling end. Poor Robert Downey Jr.

  51. Augie says:

    The Equalizer

    Rapid bursts from enemy assault rifles strafe across the village town. Every fifth projectile glows red, enabling the shooter to follow the tracer’s projectory. The projectiles rip across the American soldier’s flesh, filling the street in a stream of blood. Two Americans dodge inside a structure that is soon reduced to rubble by multiple rocket-propelled grenade explosions.

    The streets are filled with foreign fighters, hoisting their rifles in the air, shouting in celebration. Suddenly, Jake ‘The Equalize’, flies out of the second story window firing two pistols. He tosses grenades and reloads twenty times before his body bounces on the street twenty feet below. Finally out of ammunition, Jake breaks out in karate, judo, and ninja moves dodging enemy fire. Moments later, all 300 bad guys are dead. Through a dust cloud, a woman whose shirt has been ripped, exposing her oversized breasts runs out of the building and hugs Jake, “You’re my hero Jake!”

    “AND CUT!”

    The exhausted actors and stunt men stand, covered in fake blood and flesh wound patches.

    Robert looks at the producer.

    “Tomorrow is the final shoot correct?

    The producer watches the General approach, “Yes, Tomorrow.”

    The General walks up to the director, “Ya, that was very good! I can’t believe your actors perform these stunts! Your Hollywood Americans make great movies, ya? But of course, in my country we would never believe such hogwash!” He points to the armed soldiers under his command. “You see those men ya, they are real fighters!”

    The producer looks to the ground, “You know General, we have an agreement with your nation to film this movie with minimal security! You and your men have no need to point your weapons at us all day.”

    The General laughs, “Ha! You Americans! He leans in toward the producer and whispers, “perhaps we are here to protect you from let’s say, ahh, the boogie man? Ya?”

    The General walks away positioning his armed troops around the film set. “Watch them! Anyone attempts to leave, shoot them dead!”

    Robert walks into his trailer and is greeted by an unknown American. “Can I help you sir?” The American smiles, as Robert Downey Jr. is grabbed from behind. The American whispers as he injects the famous actor, “Night-night.”

    Next morning, last day in the hostile nation…

    Robert reads the script and tosses it to the floor as he snaps back the slide on his 45-cal pistol chambering a round. He tucks the pistol in his waistband and walks out of the trailer.

    The General and his men inspect every movie prop assault rifle and magazine. The producer yells, “Robert, hurry! We need you on set now!”

    Robert approaches as the foreign soldiers surround the movie set pointing their rifles.

    “AND ACTION!”

    Robert whispers into his earpiece to his men 3,000 yards away, “Engage!”

    ‘Click’

    The triggers pull, sending bullets to their targets at 3,937.5 ft/s. (feet per second).

    Milli second later….

    Simultaneous projectiles explode the craniums of the foreign troops with15,000 ft-pd/f (foot pound force).
    3.5 seconds later…

    JAH-BOOM! Sound waves reach the movie set.“

    “And CUT!”

    The general applauds as Robert approaches. “Dat was amazing! It looked so real! Why didn’t you tell me you were going to use my men?”

    Robert pulls out his 45-caliber pistol shoving it into the general’s chest, “and spoil the climax, general?”
    US Navy Seal Aguila rips off his mask revealing his true identity, “This isn’t Hollywood, and you are wanted for war crimes!”

    The film crew stands in shock as snipers in camouflage run toward the extraction helicopter. Once the general is aboard, the film crew’s cameras explode.

    Jake, “the Equalizer” never aired.

    Hey, that’s Hollywood anyway!

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Again, I love your attention to detail. Great job. Mission Impossible meets Argo.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This reminds me a bit of Argo, only a lot more interesting. Great action story, Augie.

      My red pencil says that from 3000 yards it should take just over 2 seconds for the bullets (at ~4000 ft/sec) to hit. But you know that. Milliseconds sounds cooler, even if there are more of them than one might prefer. That’s Hollywood!

    • Reaper says:

      Augie, back in the day there was a TV show called the Equalizer, so I came into this with high hopes and was not disappointed in the slightest. It was campy in the same way Sweeney Todd the movie was, and by that I mean perfectly. Tongue in cheek with parts of a story is difficult, but this had to be nerve wracking. Taking your style and making it feel so hollywood? I’m just amazed by that and loved every second of this story and the style.

      • Augie says:

        Reaper, that is so funny! I had no idea until you mentioned it! I wondered, what a low budget movie would sound like and came up with Equalizer. Thanks for your comments.

    • lionetravail says:

      Augie, that was just brilliant. Many Kudos for a fantastic story with a great twist and awesome take on the prompt.

    • snuzcook says:

      Augie, only you could turn this prompt into an b-to-the-w action riveter, and still manage what someone else mentioned is a tongue-in-cheek element. Thoroughly engaging and entertaining!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Augie, you told this story with such topical thunder.
      Another gripping piece from you, well done.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks sjmca1966! Your name reminds me of my first mission where we were dropped in the sea and waited for USS Elliot, DD-967 to arrive. We suction cupped up, it was a mess, and now the ship is a coral reef somewhere near Australia. I’m soon to retire, and feel old. I will miss the brave men, yet the young hearts on this forum make it al good. Thank you!

    • agnesjack says:

      A riveting story, Augie. You’ve captured both the silliness of Hollywood (the bare-breasted babe running out of the building) and the tension of being in a hostile country. Kudos.

  52. Jack says:

    “Dude, Jeff.”

    Jeff moaned. Waiters are generally unfriendly between the hours of 5 am and 4 pm.

    “Dude, Jeff. It’s Dave. Dude, do you remember Sarah’s weird friend at table 5 who had that magic crystal thing and he told us not to look at it and say any magic words three times and we both totally did exactly that? Like immediately and without hesitation?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Well, I’m Robert Downey Jr. right now. I’m in his house and everything.”

    “Yeah, that’s so funny. I’m actually…what’s-his-nuts? That Duck Dynasty guy?”

    “Oh snap, Phil Robertson? Didn’t he just go off on some big homophobic rant or something a while ago?”

    “Sounds about right.”

    “You know what we should do?” I asked.

    “We should make an unspeakably filthy sex tape and sell it to TMZ.”

    “Yes, we should.”

    “But who’s going to film it?”

    “Robert Downey Jr.’s wife says she’ll do it. She’s right here. The whole family is. They’re so nice. Is your guy not there with you?”

    There was a long pause. Finally, Jeff said: “He is. But he wouldn’t stop talking that ‘mumble mumble’ mess so I wrapped that stupid beard all the way around his neck and kept pulling until he shut up. He’s not dead though. Just passed out.”

    “Cool. Leave him a bowl of food and come to LA.”

    Filming the sex tape was a little weird at first. Jeff and I are both straight, and plus we weren’t used to being inside other dudes, but once we got over all that it was a breeze.

    The hardest part was picking a title. Jeff wanted F*** Dynasty, but that was too easy. I looked through some of my guy’s earlier work; Pound, Up the Academy, Tuff Turf… but we didn’t want people to have to go to IMDB so finally we settled on The Ass-Vengers.

    TMZ was about what I expected. I just walked in and said “I have a sex tape with Robert Downey Jr. and that Duck Dynasty guy and I would like to–”and then the tape was gone and I had $500,000. We went back to the Downey’s to settle up. Sarah and her weird friend were there waiting for us.

    “So, did you have your fun?” the weird guy asked.

    It hadn’t occurred to me before, but suddenly a wave of great sadness washed over me. “I don’t know, man,” I said. “I mean, what exactly did we do here?”

    “We put a known homophobe in a gay porn video,” the real Robert Downey Jr said. “You made homophobes everywhere uncomfortable. I was happy to be part of it.”

    “Yeah, ha ha,” I said. “But so what? That just adds to their phony persecution complex.”

    “True…” Jeff said.

    “Robert deserves his life back, but I’m not ready to quit now. My purpose in this world is apparently taking the form of right wing whackos and putting them in embarrassing positions. Weird Guy, what are the magic words for Orson Scott Card?”

  53. RuthieShev says:

    Oh my do I ache. What is wrong with me? I am an early riser and usually have no trouble getting up at dawn and jumping out of bed. I love drinking my coffee relaxing on the porch watching the birds. I feel like I stayed up half the night. I guess I just didn’t sleep very well.

    Wait! What is that I feel on my chin? Something is wrong. It feels like I am growing hair on my face. No way. My eyes open as wide as saucers. This isn’t even my room. OK, is my husband playing a joke on me? Jumping out of bed, I run to the mirror to look at myself to see what was on my face. Now I know for sure someone is playing a joke. They replaced the mirror with a picture of Robert Downing Jr.

    By this time I was positive my husband was pulling one of his famous pranks on me. I call out, “OK Smokie, where are you, and what’s going on? This isn’t even funny anymore.” But wait. That is not my voice. It is deep and sounds like a man’s voice. Now I am getting downright scared.
    I must be having a nightmare. Bummer, if I was going to dream I was somebody, why not somebody like Julie Andrews in Sound of Music or Angela Lansbury in Murder She wrote. I don’t know much about Robert Downing Jr. except that he was in the Sherlock Movies. I do love mysteries which must be why I was dreaming I was him. I remember reading Sherlock Holmes and wishing I could write like that.

    Maybe if I close my eyes, when I open them I will be my normal self, Ruthie Shevock, wife, mother and grandmother. Why am I dreaming of being a movie star anyway when I love my life. None of this is making sense. Well, that didn’t work. This just isn’t me.

    Maybe I am getting Alzheimer’s? Is it possible that people with that disease think they are someone else which is why they can’t remember their family? But I can remember my family. I am just not myself.

    Worse yet, maybe I really am Robert Downey, Jr. and I am trying to escape my life by imagining I am just an ordinary woman in a small Pennsylvania town. After all, being the son of someone famous must not have been easy for him or me, whichever one of us I really am.

    I don’t know what is going on but I may as well go through as much of the day as I can. At some point, it is possible everything will change back to normal and I can be me again.
    By Ruth Crowell Shevock

    This was very hard for me to write since I wasn’t sure who Robert Downey Jr. is. I looked him up on the internet and read what movies he was in and something about his life. I guess this small town PA woman just doesn’t get to the movies much. I have heard of the movies though, so that was a start.

    • RuthieShev says:

      I forgot to title this so the title could be:

      “News Flash: PA Wife and Mother Turns Movie Star”

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      How wonderfully entertaining, Ruthie. I was chuckling about Robert Downey Jr. wanting to escape his life and be you! And why not!

    • jhowe says:

      That was clever. Try not to enjoy shower time too much though, being a wife and grandmother and all. Nice writing style.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice take, Ruthie. I can easily imagine your confusion. Would your husband really play a practical joke of trying to convince you that you were someone else? Sounds like that would be a fun marriage, provided he lived…

      • RuthieShev says:

        the provided he lived had me laughing out loud…so I had to explain to my husband why!!! And thank you :)

        • RuthieShev says:

          BTW. I almost didn’t do this because I didn’t really know the subject when I told my husband he said to me, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it when it comes to writing.” and I thought he’s right. I writer has be to able to write on any subject at a moment’s notice – right?

    • Reaper says:

      This is so very good. I’m glad your husband encouraged you and that you posted it. The fact that you don’t know Robert Downey Jr actually just made this better so it is wonderful that you went with that. Some powerful stuff in here Ruthie. The him imagining he’s you was great. The line about Alzheimer’s patients not remembering who they are because they think they are other people made my jaw drop. I had to reread it and wonder if that’s exactly right. It’s such a perfect description from the outside.

      Oh, and while I am very glad you did this because you can do anything I do have to say. Some writers have to be able to write about anything at a moment’s notice, I think they are called copywriters. :) As an artist it is good to push yourself but a moment’s notice is rare. We make up stories on the spot but spend so much time thinking about that next idea and that’s a good thing, because inspiration comes when it comes. We have to write the stories that come to us on the wind, the rest we choose to. Thank you for choosing to because this made me think and smile in turns.

      • RuthieShev says:

        I want to thank you so very much. The praise was wonderful to hear. But most of all, I appreciate the encouragement you give me all the time. Thank you.

      • lionetravail says:

        I agree with Reaper. Fun take in so many ways, and the MC’s confusion and concern is very ‘real’- so many of us wonder if ‘we’re losing’ it at some point in our lives… (usually, right after we couldn’t find the checkbook until we looked in the garbage and… well, point made, I think).

        Nice job!

        • RuthieShev says:

          Thank you very much. Also, I think we have all done that. Lost something important and musn’t ever overlook the garbage :).

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            Hello Ruthie, sorry to get here so late. I really enjoyed your take. I’m with you about Robett Downey Jr., who cares? That’s why I jumped ship to Bogie. Perhaps I’ll get an ‘F’ for this. Who cares? You were very creative around a difficult prompt. I’m curious about a small town Pennsylvania girl.

            I grew up in Upper Darby section of Philadelphia. I never thought of Philly as home, just Upper Darby and 69th street area. All people from PA. are brilliant, funny and charming, don’t you agree?

    • Augie says:

      Loved it! You described me twice in this! The guy that wakes up, pours a cup of coffee and watches the Robins dance across the yard. And the prankster that is always playing practical jokes on my wife! great read!

      • RuthieShev says:

        Thank you. You remind me there are real people behind these comments. The personal who loves watching birds in the morning like me and the prankster like my husband :).

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I’m at the other end of the spectrum from you Ruth, growing up it was Sean Penn, Timothy Hutton and Robert Downey Jr, for me, as inspirational actors that I could for some reason empathize with.
      Your take on the prompt was perfect considering, as you so aptly state he ain’t no Julie Andrews.
      This was open, honest and heartfelt and I appreciate you posting it :)

    • Amyithist says:

      Ruthie Shev, you did a wonderful job of capturing the confusion I’d imagine one having if they were to truly wake up as Robert Downey Jr. Whether you knew who he was or not, you did a fantastic job on this prompt. I love that you put yourself in here. It’s a nice touch. Thank you for sharing!

    • agnesjack says:

      I loved her thought that she might actually be RDJr wanting a simpler life as a PA grandma. The contemplation and confusion of the MC was very real.

    • Critique says:

      I really enjoyed this Ruthie Shev. You have a smooth conversational flow to your story that kept me engaged to the end.

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Wonderful RuthieShev! I loved the straight from the heart realness in your story. :)

  54. Hemingway says:

    Damn! How could this be? Not only had my identity changed, so had my sex. Think? Think? Of course, the mysterious stranger in the bar. He asked me to tell him my dream, my fantasy. He was mesmerizing. I found myself complying. I told him my dream is to be a famous actor, one capable of portraying multiple characters, drawing people into my performance. And one who had overcome extreme difficulties to achieve theatrical excellence. Should have been more specific. I was thinking Marilyn Monroe!

  55. blanderson says:

    Though he’d been in this state for many years, watching him still brought her immense sadness. He mumbled as he looked out the window.

    “Robert Downey, Jr.”

    The doctors could never definitively say what had taken his mind, but now his life was a continuous deluge of dementia and hallucination. One day he’d be himself but unaware of his surroundings, and the next he’d be someone altogether different, and she just had to watch him and love him. Love him even when he tried to injure her or, worse, himself.

    “I am Ironman.”

    “Yes, you are, honey.”

    Without his income and limited support from the state, she had to work two jobs to make ends meet, but she still took whatever time she had to be with him. He was gone now, of course, but she knew she should still be there. She wanted to be there.

    Glenn was never a dashing or particularly successful man, but he was a good man. He cared for her deeply and he did what was necessary to take care of his family. Now, he was gone. But every once in a while she saw something in him that reminded her of the old Glenn. The one who could make her laugh. The one who would hold her close. The one who loved her. But it wasn’t these instances that made her stay with him.

    The truth is that she would never have to visit him again, and he’d never really be aware of her absence. No, she couldn’t do that. She loved him and promised to always love him, and she would follow through on her commitment, no matter how difficult it might be.

    He had looked away from the window and was now examining himself in a small, hand-held mirror.

    “Robert Downey, Jr.,” he repeated, over and over again, saying it faster and more shrilly each time.

    The mania was scary at first, and she always remained concerns about short fits of violent behavior, but mostly he’d be manic for a couple minutes and it was over.

    “Glenn, dear?”

    “I am Ironman.”

    “I know,” she replied gently. “I have to go to work. I’m taking an extra evening shift at the hospital. I’ll be back first thing in the morning before I go to my day job.”

    “Robert Downey, Jr.”

    He was calm again.

    She smiled at him. He was sitting in a chair next to the window, still looking at the mirror. She walked over to him, patted his hand and gave him a kiss on the forehead. He didn’t look up or acknowledge her prescence.

    “Robert Downey, Jr.”

  56. I considered skipping this prompt because I feel completely uninspired by it, but I still wanted to write a story, so here you go. Starting with heavy horror this week, but a tale not completely unrelated to the prompt. Enjoy! Bonus if you can figure out how it relates to the prompt!

    “Pizza Delivery”

    Rain, a name given to her by hippy parents whose religion consisted of saying prayers to the Gods of Hemp and Dope, opened her eyes to a dark room and a blinding headache. A single white light cut through the inky blackness and shined upon a small empty spot of white tiles directly in front of her. The place smelled wet with a soft sweet scent of fresh paint accenting the musty air. A moment later, the man to whom she had delivered pizza to earlier entered the cone of light.

    Over the time she’d spent out cold from some sedative he’d given her, the man had pulled her arms behind the chair she sat on and bound her wrists with something. She tried to extricate them, but the binds he used were too strong. He’d also tied her legs to the legs of the chair. A strong tape covered her mouth, disallowing her to speak.

    Beastly and dark, the man spoke with a deep rough voice powdered with a subtle nasally sound. He said, “You delivered to the wrong house, you sexy little bitch.”

    Each one of the words he spoke was supposed to be offensive, but she didn’t see it that way because she was, in fact, a sexy twenty-two-year-old woman. She could also be a real bitch when needed. That’s not to say she didn’t have her moments of kindness, which he would’ve observed if he’d heeded her pleads to remove the gag.

    Running his hand down her thigh, he said, “No, no, no. Not gonna let you talk. There’s nothing you can say that’ll change what’s going to happen to you tonight.”

    The man began to unbuckle his belt, and he continued, “I’m glad you’re finally awake. I was running out of patience.”

    Dashingly handsome, she thought as he stepped closer to her. Such a shame.

    Owing nothing to shame, the man unbuttoned his pants. She stomped her feet and shook violently hoping that she could free herself. All she needed was one hand and she could escape, but he’d secured her too well.

    With her heart racing to the pace of a galloping horse, he dropped his pants. He was already hard and ready to go, and she took a deep breath. Anxiety pushed its way through her veins, putting her body into overdrive, and that’s when the thing she so desperately wanted to keep away from him revealed itself.

    Near her throat, just below her esophagus, she felt an intense burning sensation as though someone held hot glowing metal against it. Suddenly, her skin tore in half, but there was no elegance to it because it ripped as though something reached in and pulled her apart. Her body continued to shred down the center, and bold muffled screams escaped from her. Spindly strands of muscles reached to each side of the gaping wound, and just behind them formed sharp tooth-like ridges. Her rib cage cracked, shattered, and spread, but instead of revealing a human heart and a pair of lungs, there was a pulsating stomach and a gland attached to a large sac.

    Eerie ululations erupted from deep within her, and the man screamed back at her in fear. He tried to turn and run but his pants caught his legs, which sent him crashing down upon the cold tiles in front of her. The gland in her chest immediately shot a stream of clear acid at him, and his cry of terror turned into a cry of torture. The acid slowly melted away his skin, which slipped off his body and slapped against the ground like a wet towel. Chunks of his body fell to the floor, and he crumpled to death.

    Young Rain tore through the binds at her wrists and ankles. She quickly fell to the ground, groaning and huffing as her transformation continued to burn with pain. She crawled to the slush pile of a man on the floor and began to feed. It didn’t take long before her body to suck every last drop of him from the floor.

    Just as painful but much faster, she transformed back into her human self. The pain fled her body almost immediately, which was a welcome comfort. She did feel a little distended as though she’d eaten a huge meal, but, to be fair, she had.

    Rain stood and picked scraps of her torn clothes from the floor. She looked down at the empty spot illuminated by the light, pulled the silver tape from her lips, and smiled.

    “If he’d only taken the tape off I coulda warned the poor guy.”

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      I would guess the woman hulked out (The Incredible Hulk), but I’ve never heard of a female hulk. Interesting… :)

    • lionetravail says:

      Interesting take and challenge- I got nothing now, but have to imagine this is plot from some obscure Robert Downey Jr film, but I can’t think of one yet.

      Story was fun, and graphic, and not too dark- it’s hard to be dark when bad guys get what’s coming to them! (A bit more editing might also not go amiss, though easy to read past :)

      I can’t wait til someone figures out the connection!

      • Man, *bangs head against desk* I really really really need to learn to read these before I post them! When submitting there should be six okay buttons:

        1. You are now submitting your response.
        2. Are you sure you’re ready to post your response, Jay?
        3. Did you read through it at least once, Jay?
        4. If you didn’t, did you just now read through and edit it, Jay?
        5. Please think of all the reasons you should read it first before posting and, if you come up with at least one, press “No” and go back to read your work before posting your response.
        6. Did you really read it this time?

        Of course, then I’d be six times the liar every time I posted a response.

        1. Ok. (I should probably click cancel.)
        2. Yes. (Probably not, but… click yes.)
        3. Sure. (No.)
        4. Sure I did. (No.)
        5. Yes. (Couldn’t think of anything.)
        6. Yes. (No.)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This was gruesome and entertaining, Jay. Maybe Robert Downey Jr played the guy who got to find out what colour his guts were… not really.

      And, my attempt for the bonus points, is that it’s somewhere between Inspiring Books and a New Year’s Resolution. If I’m right you know exactly what I mean. After all, I wrote about getting Three Wishes while sitting on my own grave after a Tough Decision a couple of months ago.

    • jhowe says:

      It sounds a little like The Fly. It is also a little like Kafka’s Metemorphisis (spelling not guaranteed). But regardless, it was a good read. Melted human doesn’t appeal to me but I’ve never tried it so I don’t know. I didn’t like squash at first either.

    • Reaper says:

      No idea on the connection but an interesting story. Your MC is very likable in spite of being very cold and ruthless. Great job with that. Hmmm. I’m going to guess that the connection has something to do with a Brat Pack reference since it, like in many ways your MC, was a very attractive and watchable train wreck? ;) Great job Jay.

      • Wow, there are so many good guesses that it makes my connection look horrible! haha… Reaper, I was trying to find a way to make her relatable enough so when she did do what she did, the reader could still feel for her, so I’m glad I hit the right spot with you. Thanks, Reaper!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Jay, you are one sick mo-fo. Promise you’ll never change.
      I’m waiting for the right prompt before I try to emulate your disturbance.
      Love it, love it, love it!

    • Amyithist says:

      Whoa. I did NOT see that coming! Amazing that the victim becomes the attacker. And he deserves it! Very well written. You truly are the Stephen King of our little community here. LOL Nicely done!

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Oozing with creepiness Jay. Whew! This must be emotionally (and physically) satisfying for your MC!

  57. peetaweet says:

    “I’m not Robert Downey Jr.”

    “How long can we play this game Mr. Downey?”

    “My name is Gary Busey.””

    “Oh, this is rich,” The detective with the goatee, Conner I think he said, sits back with an arrogant sigh. He turns to the female detective. “Hey, go get Sweeney, he’s got to hear this.”

    I swallow hard, running my hands through my hair. The light overhead is pulsing in time with my temples. I close my eyes, wipe my face, and, forgetting that I’m wearing glasses, knock them to the floor. I have trouble getting them back on, the ears are different, when I do the prick smiles and his goatee dances with his lips. Sweeney returns, with a younger and wide-eyed kid who fails to hide his giddiness.

    “Tell him what you told me,” he says gesturing to the shy kid. The kid looks to the floor, then peeks back in my direction. Conners takes the lead.
    “He’s Gary Busey now.”
    “Look, last night…..I took something…”

    Conners leans forward, leering. “Look, you might win Oscars with your bullshit,” he says slamming his hand on the table. “But I’m not impressed. What would like to know, Mr. Busey,” he says with finger quotes, “is how in the hell I’m supposed to believe that you amazingly switched bodies with Robert Downey Jr., wandered through Mr. Downey’s neighborhood, into his neighbors’ house, and then crawled in bed with his wife?” He shifts, wincing as he pulls a cheap shoe onto his knee. “And now, you expect us to just let you go because you….took something? Is that correct?”

    He stands before I can answer; his cheap suit jacket slumping off of his shoulders. Even his clothes don’t want to be near him. He grunts, making an adjustment and then stomps out of the room. I look at the two detectives left in the room.

    “Should I have a lawyer?” I hadn’t even thought of it until just now, what with the body swapping and all. The younger cop looks at Sweeney, then back to the door.

    “That guy’s such a dick,” he says. “Wife left him a month ago, can you blame her?”

    “I cannot,” Jesus, I even sound like Robert.

    “Can I get you anything, Mr. uh, Downey?”

    I look up to the ceiling. “Mr.Busey.”

    “Oh, right. Sorry, it’s just that I’m such a fan. I love the Ironman movies,” he gushes and then looks to Sweeny who smiles and then jumps in.

    “I had the biggest crush on you when I was in middle school. What was it” she snaps her fingers, Weird Science. I watched it so many times,” she says, brushing the hair from her face.

    I take a breath, taken aback by the reflection in the one way mirror. This is going to take some getting used to, the piercing eyes, the boyish face. One things for sure, I got the better end of the deal.

    I think back to the party last night. Both of us were high out of our minds. Robert had something new, something experimental, he’d said. I would have snorted a bag of Quikrete had he had put it on the table.
    “Take this”, he’d said, offering the yellow pill.

    “Just one? I asked, before placing it on my tongue. He did the same and nodded. Now I’m here.
    The door swings open and Conners sticks his chubby head in the room. His face is a green tint of pale. He levels his stare at me.

    “A one Gary Busey’s in the other room. Just picked him up for trespassing, and guess what?”

    I just nod my head.

    “He’s claiming that he’s Robert Downey Jr.”

    • That was a fun read, Peetaweet. If only Gary acting a bit more crazy consistent with with usual nuttiness, haha Thanks for sharing!

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      You had me at Gary Busey. I love Gary Busey!
      Ingenious take on the prompt.

    • lionetravail says:

      Wonderful take, Peeta :)

      “Even his clothes didn’t want to be near him”- heh. Only spot of confusion- it seemed from early in the story that Sweeny was male, but turns out to be female… it may be me (as below, I feel a bit slow today).

      • peetaweet says:

        You’re right lion, as soon as I posted it I saw my glaring errors, per usual!

        • lionetravail says:

          Nah, don’t be that hard on yourself. Most of your takes are pretty picture perfect, and they never disappoint.

          When I tell my wife: “Oh, let me read you this one by Peeta”, she doesn’t say “Oh, you mean the guy from Hunger games”… she says “Oh, you mean the one who wrote the story on the frozen dad and global warming?” Heh, we still love that one- hope to keep reading yours for a long time to come.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very clever, Peetaweet. You had me chuckling, though I’m not sure Gary or Robert would be…

    • Reaper says:

      I was going to mention the Sweeney being the kid and then the female but that was a glitch like I make all the time. I think Jay blames the gremlins. This was very good. I thought about doing the another celebrity route but couldn’t figure out how. You did this wonderfully and I’m glad I didn’t try because I would be comparing to the job you did.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Just got back from video store. I went to hire Weird Science after you got me all nostalgic like. Forgot that video store closed eighteen months ago.
      This take really put a smile on my face :)

    • agnesjack says:

      The opening dialogue made me laugh out loud because all I could think of was the commercial where Gary Busey is screaming at his TV, “Find Gary Busey! Find Gary Busey!” Busey definitely got the best part of the deal, peetaweet. Fun.

  58. Observer Tim says:

    Rats. Didn’t quite make first past the post…

    ROBERTS

    The blinking red light pierces my unconsciousness, dragging me to a wakeful state. Sort of. It’s pitch black except for the crimson glow of a tiny point of light. My head is packed with cotton and pain. The thought comes unbidden that I’ve been sober for a decade; why am I having a hangover now?

    I try to think back to my last memory but it’s a blur. I took a sleeping aid, I remember that much. But I don’t take sleeping pills. And where’s my wife?

    My wife? Two streams of thought compete for my attention. While he looks for his wife, my thoughts are telling me that I’m female. I was supposed to be travelling in a sleeper car; the drug and the unconsciousness were so I wouldn’t get motion sickness.

    There are a number of groans around me. I sit up, instinctively ducking so my head won’t strike the upper bunk. It’s still pitch black, but there are about a dozen red lights blinking. A bare wisp of smoke drifts through the air and I can hear the engine humming.

    Luckily I’m aware enough to know that there’s an intercom at the end of the row of bunks. I stumble a bit, unused to walking in a man’s body. And I’m definitely a man; a quick hand-check confirmed that. Women don’t have those. The floor is cold underfoot and I can hear the others stirring.

    The intercom was designed for use by someone with thinner fingers than me, but it’s generic enough for me to use it. I push the signal button and start talking.

    “Hello, is someone there?”

    The machine emits an ear-piercing screech, then a burst of static and a voice. A female voice.

    “Go ahead Unit 23.”

    “Unit 23? My name is… Robert. My name is Robert.”

    “Robert? Robert Downey Junior?”

    That sounds right. “I think so. Yes, I’m Robert Downey Junior. Robert Downey Senior couldn’t be here today.”

    “What’s your number, Robert?”

    “My number? I don’t have a number. No, wait, it’s on the tip of my tongue. It’s… something. It’s seventeen.
    Twenty-three seventeen.”

    My voice interrupts me. “What’s going on, Robert?”

    “I don’t know. I’m trying to find out.”

    “Let me know when you find out.”

    Another voice, also mine, speaks up. “Me too.”

    “Okay, will you all stop interrupting now? I need to get an answer.” I turn back to the intercom, “So, sweetness, can you fill me in on what’s going on here because all of me are confused.”

    “You woke up early; there was an electrical fire in Unit 22. We won’t reach Earthspace for about three more hours, but it’s not worthwhile to put you all back in hibernation. You should find your outer integuments and put them on. I understand humans don’t generally socialize unclothed.”

    Things are finally becoming clear. And I remember the armoury – over three thousand suits of red and gold armour, specifically sized for this human form. The invasion will be glorious.

  59. peetaweet says:

    This was well written and wonderful, love the degree of seperation!

  60. lionetravail says:

    Oh, no. Hell no!

    It’s happening again. The whole kinesthesia is different, even before I open my eyes. The sheets smell different, the pillowcase just that much rougher, and the awareness of my small breasts compressed against the mattress is vanished into the pleasant discomfort of a morning hard-on between my legs.

    Really? How… no, why does this keep happening? I’m like some kind of soul jumper, moving my awareness from person to person- I know, because I wasn’t this person when I lay down last night. I try to remember the wildest, most far out movie plot I’ve ever been in to see if this could be something from my past, but nothing seems even close.

    I push the covers away and sit up. It’s dark, and reflexively I look to the other side of the bed. Thank God, at least I’m alone this time- when this happened last time, I woke up as Stephanie Szostack being spooned by her husband- awkward, since I’d gone to sleep the night before as Kevin Bacon!

    I get up and head to the bathroom- I have to see who I am today, which takes precedence even before a good morning piss.

    The light goes on and I look in the mirror, and I’m Robert Downey Junior. For a second, the whole world wobbles, and then it’s back in focus, and I’m clenching my throat on a scream which bubbled up during the moment of shock. I don’t, I can’t, possibly understand this. What’s happening to those I’m jumping to when I come in? Are they still here, somewhere, or did they jump on to someone else? I lean forward to the vanity, staring and examining my new face until the urge is irresistible.

    I pee, which is simultaneously both the least shocking and most pleasant part of my day so far. I go back to the bedroom, where I see a computer. I go and sit down, and my ass fits the chair pretty well. My elbow moves the mouse and the screen comes up- it’s open, no password to log in, thank goodness.

    Google chrome starts with a double click, and then I’m searching- now I have another name to add to the search list, looking for connections: Bacon, Szostack, and now Downey.

    Bingo.

    Huh.

    It’s not a ‘how’, or even a ‘why’, but there’s one thing certain: starting from Kevin Bacon, it’s only one jump to Stephanie Szostack, who was with him in R.I.P.D., and one jump from her to Robert Downey Junior, who starred with her in Iron Man 3.

    They were right: everything in Hollywood starts with Kevin Bacon…!

    • Marie Therese Knepper says:

      Very entertaining :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      Kevin Bacon is everywhere, lionetravail. Great story!

    • lol, how entertaining. I must admit, I got the feeling I was reading an episode of Quantum Leap! Great read, Lionetravail!

    • jmcody says:

      I admire how you were able to make sense of this prompt. This is an interesting premise — your MC gets to experience the lives of Hollywood celebrities. It flowed well and was entertaining.

    • Jack says:

      I loved how the main character was only mildly annoyed at waking up as another person

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Six degrees of entertainment!

    • Reaper says:

      Very entertaining. The frantic thoughts were perfectly written making this a fast and amazing read.

    • Augie says:

      There you are! Each week I scroll looking for your post because you are such an entertaining writer! I didn’t see you way down here! Another fine story liontravail!

    • lionetravail says:

      Thanks everyone! You all know how the brain works sometimes- many of the last weeks I’ve struggled both for time and inspiration, and this week it just hit as soon as I saw the prompt, and I began racking my brain for a series of movie connections to figure out how many degrees of separation there were…. and would you believe it, you can find an actor’s ‘Bacon number” just by asking Google! After that, it was just trying to stay in the word limit (it didn’t seem worth it to spend my ‘overage points’ on a somewhat whimsical prompt like this one)- the truth is, my take on this was meant to be pure fluff, and it feels that way to me.

      It’s also a great illustration, if I may say, of a “McGuffin”- the transitioning of a consciousness from body to body. How does it happen, why, when did it start, etc…. who cares? It drives the story as is.

      The really great part is that so many people have come up with interesting and unique takes already, and the greater part is I have time to read and comment this week.

    • agnesjack says:

      Clever and fun and I liked the nonchalant voice of your MC. Loved the ending.

    • girl-in-progress says:

      Entertaining read lionetravail! Ooh yes that Bacon Number, I tried that. Didn’t work for me though :D

Leave a Reply