Personal Challenge #1: Short Stories (Day 4)

Well, it’s day 4. I don’t want to stop writing these stories, so I might start another blog page dedicated to writing. Ill let you know by next week.

In the meantime, we have a story to enjoy!

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“What a night,” said the ostrich, Mr. Gray. He stretched his neck and slowly sat up in his bed, “I feel like I’ve been hit over the head with a rock.”

“Close,” said a voice from the other side of the room, “It was actually a coconut.”

Startled, Mr. Gray didn’t immediately notice his surroundings, “What are you doing in my room?”

“The correct question, Mr. Gray, would be, ‘Where am I?’ to which I would reply, ‘Why, you are in a desert island of course!'”

The ostrich looked around and saw that he was indeed in some sort of cave. As his vision came into focus, he could see that his room was furnished with only the basic luxuries—a small desk and chair, a small bathroom stall, a sink, and the bed he was on.

He looked around for the source of the voice, but there was only an intercom in the corner. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Who I am is of little importance.”

“Okay, why am I here?”

“You are here for a competition of sorts. It’s a simple game, really. It just has severe consequences if you fail.”

“What do you mean? I didn’t sign up for this. I don’t want to be in any competition,” Gray protested.

“That’s unfortunate for you. You’re here now, so you should probably start wanting to be here. It’ll give you a much better chance at success.”

“Okay,” Gray forced a smile and sarcastically replied, “I am so excited to be here. How can I use this opportunity to become a success?”

“Better. Still not that great, but it’ll work,” said the voice, “As far as the competition is concerned, I’ll fill you in on the rules:

First, the door opposite you will open in about five minutes, so I would use that time to prepare.

Second, you will have one minute to exit and make your way to the Arena. If you get lost on the way, you don’t deserve to win in the first place.

Third, arrive at the Arena ready for anything. And I mean anything. I don’t even know what they’re going to ask you to do.

Finally…Win.

“Any questions?” asked the voice.

“Um, yes. I do—”

“Good! Enjoy your next couple of minutes. Like I said, I’d get ready for anything. This is so exciting!”

“Excuse me. I said I have questions,” the ostrich objected, but he was only answered with silence. Confused and groggy, Mr. Gray stood up and headed over to the sink. He gazed at the tired ostrich in the mirror, “What have you gotten yourself into?”

A buzzer sounded and the room was suddenly bathed in a purple glow. “Curious,” said Gray, “I would have expected red or no light at all.”

“Our last red light bulb burned out on the last contestant,” the voice announced, “We thought about the darkness thing, but the insurance on that is ridiculously expensive. Purple was all we had. It was left over from a party last year.”

“Hey! I thought—“

“And that’s where you should stop,” the voice laughed, “Don’t think. Just go.”

The door slid open to reveal a hallway that led straight to another door about twenty paces away. Gray followed the voice’s command and walked through the door. It immediately slid shut behind him.

“I guess I’m in it ‘til the end now,” said the ostrich. He walked toward the next door. It opened when he was a few steps away. On the other side was a large triangular room with a table and chair in the center and an empty swimming pool to the left.

“SIT!” a voice, different from the voice he heard earlier, commanded. He quickly walked to the chair and sat. The voice continued, “VERY GOOD! YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT YOU ARE—What?…He got the message?…Oh, the volume, yes. Ahem. Sorry about the volume. The last contestant was hard of hearing, which didn’t help her at all. If she had been able to hear the—Sorry, I tend to ramble when I’m excited.

“Anyway, you are about to participate in a competition. It may or may not be easy. It may or may not be fun. BUT! You will most definitely win or lose.”

“That’s not very reassuring,” Mr. Gray mumbled.

“Right you are! It’s not supposed to be reassuring,” the voice laughed, “if you want reassurance, you have already completed three tasks: you made it to the arena, you sat down at the table, and you haven’t stopped breathing.”

Mr. Gray was only slightly reassured, “I have a question.”

“It better be a good one.”

“If this is a competition, where are the other contestants?” Gray asked.

There was an audible sigh, then the voice replied, “Obviously, they failed the first test.”

“So does that mean I’ve won?”

“No.”

“I don’t get it. I made it further than everyone else.”

“Yes, they would have made it more entertaining, but this competition is not about beating others. It’s about completing your own tasks. So here’s your next one: place the object under the table on top of the table.”

Mr. Gray looked under the table and saw a knife taped to the bottom. He grabbed it with his beak and placed it on top of the table.

“Very good! Now answer me this: who was the first Pharaoh of Egypt?”

“Uh…” Gray could only think of one name, “King Tut?”

“Wrong! You lose,” the voice announced, “You must now suffer the consequences of your mistake. Pick up the knife.”

Mr. Gray’s heart was in his throat, “But…please. This doesn’t seem fitting—“

“Silence! You have failed the test. Now you must pay for your mistake. Pick up the knife.”

Gray unsteadily picked up the knife with his beak, thinking about all the different ways he could be commanded to use it. None of them involved him leaving the arena alive. A hidden door to his right opened and a well-dressed lemur stepped out, carrying an object. He quickly bounded over and placed the object on the table.

“That is an onion. You will cut it into little tiny pieces. And when you are done, you will get another. This will continue until you fill the pool.”

Hearing this, Mr. Gray began to cry.

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