The Lit.cat is a daily reading quiz and literary journal for a wide variety of playful writing. Scroll down to read today's reading quiz. Returning visitors are encouraged to instead read the weekly issue, which contains the newest writing published by this journal. If you want something lighter to read, check out our collection of quotes about writing.
I figured out the best way to relieve some election stress and anxiety. As I know that a good many are experiencing the same, I thought I would share. Here are the step by step instructions:
I hope these instructions will help others.
Doctor Home emerged from the stairwell onto the roof of Sacred Lung Hospital. He looked around at the small crowd gathering at the far side. High above a crescent moon posed menacingly, like a diamond scalpel waiting to drive down on its foe. Doctor Home stepped out into the cool night, felt the gravel crunch beneath his feet and tasted the earthy tones of autumnal air. Fight night, he grimaced, 'Bout time.
The crowd turned to him as he approached. Home scanned their faces. Tonights crowd was composed of nurses and orderlies he recognized, there was even the weird giant of a janitor present. Standing in the corner the man looked more akin to Mary Shelley's monster than the man who cleaned the bathrooms. Doctor Stephan from obstetrics had decided to show up as well, his face still black and blue from last weeks fight. Home reveled in his handiwork. From the edge of the roof an announcer with a megaphone introduced him, "Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the Prescriber of Pain, the Defender of Dialysis, your Crazy Colonoscoper, Doctor Charles Home!"
Whoops and hollers filled the night as Doctor Home waved at his fans. His white coat billowed behind him. He decided to add a little flourish to his entrance by raising up his titanium stethoscope and pumping up the crowd. Home approached the arena in a swagger. Crudely made, the arena was a circle defined by glow in the dark paint and intersected by a single line that cut through its diameter. Doctor Home took up residence at the far side of the circle, nearest the edge of the roof. He waited patiently for his opponent to appear.
"Home! Home! Doctor Home!" The crowd chanted. He'd have home field advantage tonight and Doctor Home always loved a good match on friendly turf.
From the far side of the arena a male nurse appeared and signaled to the announcer. Silence fell upon the crowd as the door opened. Through the dark threshold stepped Home's opponent. The crowd gasped. From his perch the announcer introduced, "That's right ladies and gents. We got a surprise fight tonight! Standing against my homeboy Doc Home is none other than the Fearsome Physicist, the Newtanic Necromancer, Doctor Haytham Ford!" The announcer paused for effect, then; "That's right folks tonight we're giving you a double dosing of the doctorates!"
The crowd was ecstatic. Almost instantly Home saw bets exchanged in the audience. Lines were being drawn and odds calculated. The finance dweebs calculated fiercely on their TI-89's. He scowled. Home had known his fight would be against a fellow Doctor, he however did not realize that meant this doctor. It was an inside curveball, a nasty trick. He made a mental note to berate the dean of medicine about it tomorrow morning.
Doctor Haytham Ford, graduate of MIT with degrees in physics and aeronautical engineering, was a force of nature. With a win-loss record that match Home's own; 32-nill. Ford stood at the top of the underground NASA bracket. This would be a cross-league match then, very well.
Ford approached the ring and dropped his heavy peacoat. Beneath he wore an argyle sweater vest over white button down, complete with corduroy pants. A classy, yet nimble outfit, Home had to respect the decorum. He was equally ready to teach a 400 level class as he was to throw down. Likewise Home dropped his white coat. Beneath he wore his iconic mismatched pair of blood stained scrubs, still unwashed from his first fight. His raiment of terror, Home smiled as Ford look at him appalled. This would be an easy victory, Home thought to himself with a fearsome grin.
The announcer began to initiate the fight. He spoke, "Place your final bets now. Place your final bets! This is a league match and as such will follow league rules; no genital mutilation, no trash talking of alma maters, no using of the belt, or Oxford shoe, or prescription glasses, and finally absolutely no tearing of degrees. Are we clear?"
"Yes!" The two doctors replied in unison.
"Then let this rumble on the rooftop begin!" He sounded the blow horn on his megaphone and the two doctors sprang into action.
The fight started slow at first, with the two circling on another measuring each other up.
"You look well Charles." Doctor Ford said sardonically. "How long has it been?"
"Four years I believe, since Sawgrass." Home replied casually, yet carefully watching for his moment to strike.
"You played a good game that day, though if I recall you never quite mastered that slice of yours." Haytham teased. A childish tactic, he meant to goad Home into an attack, but the MD of Orthopedics was smarter than that.
"Helped me out on the 18th hole if I remember correctly. Beat your ass." Home replied easily.
"By one stroke, I'd hardly call it a victory." Ford replied.
The two launched at each other simultaneously. Locking together Home tried to swing his leg beneath Ford's, but the master of physics batted him away with a knee. In an instant Ford was behind Home and with the momentum of two bodies they tumbled to the ground.
"Newton's first law old chap." Ford grunted.
"You think you're so clever." Home hacked through an armbar. "But you never learned Newton's fifth!"
"Newton's fifth?" Ford said confused. Then Home swung him over in a perfectly executed Japanese wizard motion. Ford landed hard on his back.
"An object in motion tends to go fuck yourself." Home said separating himself from Ford. The crowd cheered wildly. Home paced around his foe as Ford hobbled back to his feet.
The two squared off again and began to pace in a circle. Home smiled with Colgate-Dazzling white teeth. "I know you Haytham. Do you forget I was there when you dislocated your hip. I know about your broken pinky, how it causes you chronic pain, and oh I know about that prostate. I know all about that shit, motherfucker."
"You think you've got me beat?" Ford snapped back, "Bitch I'm about to take your ass to the moon."
The two collided, roaring. Punches were thrown, kicks exchanged, beautifully executed wrestling moves traded. The scrap went on for a good ten minutes before Ford started to weaken. Home still going strong, forced his way through Haytham's defenses and caught him in a stiff chokehold. Behind them the edge of the roof mere inches away. The crowd gasped in anticipation.
"This is it, Ford." Home grunted. "Yield now and I won't humiliate you in front of all these people. Think a fall from this height'll kill you?"
"N-never." Ford hacked.
Gravel shifted underfoot and in a blink, Home felt his weight shift off the balls of his feet. Air whooshed past his face as he was swung around. Home felt his body accelerate rapidly as he spun around the planted Ford. Next thing he knew he was facing upward, staring at the crescent moon. He half expected the gravel rooftop to come up and meet him, but it never did. Instead rows of windows passed through his peripheral faster and faster and Home realized all too late that he'd been thrown clean from the rooftop.
Back on the roof the crowd watched aghast. Doctor Haytham Ford stepped up onto the precipice and looked down at the bloody scene below. He spit a wad of blood in its general direction and said,
"It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden change in momentum."
From behind the janitor approached. The freakishly tall man gazed over the edge at the mess that was Doctor Home and winced. "Yeesh," He said as a cold chill passed over him.
Haytham turned to the janitor and looked him up and down. The man's gray jumpsuit looked quite lackluster compared to his own ruffled attire. "Best get to cleaning that then." Haytham said, nodding his head down.
The janitor shrugged, "Eh, guess its still not as bad as that jerk that lodged a penny in one of my doors."
A sigh escaped her lips as she stared, eyes glazed, into the cafe dining room. She had a college degree. She was smart. She was in massive debt. Strangely, she sometimes enjoyed serving customers, felt pride in knowing she could work for hours on her feet with a smile plastered on her face. Mentally, it was exhausting. But physically, she loved feeling drained at the end of a shift. It made it easier for her to go to sleep at night.
She was mentally restless. She had nothing to stimulate her, and friendships were few and far between. This was not to say that she was without friends; she had one or two that she loved dearly. She was simply tired of constantly starting over, answering the same questions, explaining the same things about herself, her past, her family. It was nobody’s fucking business, she thought. She’d been through it, lived it. Anyone curious about her life at this point was just a nosey asshole, she told herself. After all, she often found herself curious about a coworker’s life or circumstances, and then would realize that she was only curious because she was being nosey. Wanted to feel like she wasn’t the only one with her life in pieces. Wanted to have someone else to talk about, because there was nothing in her life worth mentioning.
She felt so small and mean here. Customers were chatting and smiling to each other, some she figured were on a date. Others might be like her, alone and trying to look not so alone, so as to remain unbothered by strangers and well-meaning types who themselves only wanted to go to bed at night feeling like a good person for making the lonely looking girl smile.
Her mind raced daily, and she was tired of doing customer service. Sometimes, she would get lost in the giving of herself and feel like she had a purpose. But most of the time, she would drown in thoughts, daily, continuously. It was a bath of self-loathing; a general disgust for those around her and a deeply rooted disgust in herself.
At twenty-three, the thing she looked forward to was dying. She could finally stop acting, and just rest. Keeping up appearances was hard, and she felt like she owed it to the entire world to never look upset. She could not and would not be a burden.
She always thought to herself, ever since she was little, that she would die young. She didn’t know why; she didn’t know how. She just thought she would.
The girl cleaned up her small apartment, erased all her appointments from her calendar, and wrote “EVERYTHING OF MINE GOES TO MY MOTHER” in big, black marker on it. She’d envisioned dying, and the police walking in to find her body, and that note. She thought leaving it all to her mother would be best. She didn’t talk to the rest of her family, so who would've cared?
She felt a huge relief, but also felt restless, because she was scared. She didn’t know how she’d do it, and any easily available method to her was likely to be painful. She was afraid of pain, and deep down she knew she didn’t really want to die.
Then her ex-fiance contacted her. He still wanted to be with her. She knew he was lying, saying those things because he didn’t want her to hate him. He wanted her to be friends with him, because he didn’t want to feel bad about hurting her. By her acceptance of him as her friend, he rationalized that he must still be a good person.
He had already proven he didn’t care. She’d told him about her feelings, about the miscarriage, and he still found someone else to replace her almost immediately. She’d played the dedicated and dutiful girlfriend and fiance, and supported him financially while he struggled. What a fucking loser, she thought. I can’t believe I let him fuck me.
Then, she realized she never loved him. She just loved having a purpose.
She texted him back. Said she was giving up. To never contact her again, because he wouldn’t be able to anyway. She would force him to accept what he’d done. He frantically started calling her and texting her, pleading with her to not do anything crazy.
She looked around her apartment, turned off her phone, and decided that she might try to go to the church on campus and see a priest. She knew how she felt, but the Catholic in her was strong still. She hadn’t practiced her faith in years, but she knew she’d be damned to hell if she killed herself. She drove to campus crying, and could barely get out of her car. Shame overwhelmed her, but she couldn’t seek a priest in desperation. God either loved her or not, but right now she needed help.
She walked straight to the campus counseling center, and asked to speak to someone. The counselor called her mother, and then let the girl know that her best friend was outside waiting for her. Her friend had been contacted by her ex-fiancé, and cried uncontrollably when she saw the girl in the counselor’s office. The girl felt horrible; she really hadn’t planned for any of this. Her friend took her to the emergency room, and stayed with her while the doctors and nurses examined her body for any evidence of self-harm.
She stayed with her while the nurse questioned why the girl had no interests. The repeated “why don’t’ you think you’re good at anything? You must be good at something”. While the girl stared blankly at this woman and did her best not to bite back with “well, if I thought I was good at something, I wouldn’t be here now, would I?” Instead, the girl had again lied that yes, she thought she was good at writing, just to shut that nurse up and get on with it. Satisfied, the nurse had clicked her pin and smiled approvingly. “See,” she’d said fondly to the girl. “You just have to try harder to believe in yourself dear. You’ll be okay.” And with a quick pat on the girl’s shoulder, she walked out, clipboard in hand.
The treatment center was no help, and she left quickly. Her mother came to stay with her, and shortly after, the girl stopped talking to her mother entirely.
With another sigh, she picked up a rag and meandered over to the table with dying flowers. She pretended not to hear the happy looking couple nearby talking about their weekend plans. Tried not to roll her eyes when the table of graduate students talked about how their fourth language wasn’t nearly as hard to learn as their second, or even third.
Self-loathing washed over her again as she shut her eyes and silently, methodically, picked up each flower petal that had fallen to the table. In her palm, they looked small. Slightly curved, tinged pink, and smooth. She let them rest in her palm, then slowly made a fist, watching as the petals became crushed, twisted, mangled pieces of nature in her hand. She went to the trashcan, slowly letting the petals tumble down into the bin. Another day, another shift, she thought.
She sighed once more as she turned back toward the counter.
That was pretty good reading, right? Did you enjoy yourself? If you'd like more to read, I definitely recommend checking out our weekly issues. Want to help out? Submit your work to be published! Not a writer? Donate and I'll write you a limerick. Or buy a shirt! If anything, at least like the Facebook page. Please?