Snowdog1967 t1_jcbmn9c wrote

<Part 2>

My brain was racing the entire night. I'm not sure if I slept more than a few minutes, but I jumped out of bed a few minutes before the alarm went off and I wasn't even upset about it. With new focus, I quickly showered and got ready to go to work. I grabbed my laptop that I normally never brought and ran down to the bus to take it to work instead of driving. Once on the bus, I opened the computer and started typing up a business plan. I dashed through it, and started working on financials, something I left up to my mother usually, and realized that we were leaving money on the table in several places. I pulled examples over to the business plan and finished up right at the stop in front of our business. There were several of our employees on the bus with me and they watched with fascination as I powered through the work I was doing.

"Hi Mom, Dad, we need to talk about this place." I said as I went up to their offices. We overlooked the factory floor in a very traditional arrangement.

"What now son? Are you quitting again to find yourself?" My father used air quotes around the last bit. He had heard numerous excuses from me over the years, and I totally deserved the remark.

"No Dad, I FOUND something. And I think it will turn this business around. Take a look. Come to the conference room. Get the line managers up here too. They can tell the others." I didn't even wait for an answer and walked into our conference room with a huge projector hanging from the ceiling. Today, it warmed up right away instead of the 5 to 10 minutes it usually took. I started projecting from my laptop and began my speil.

15 minutes into my presentation, my father, who had been transfixed the entire time held up his hand. "Where did you come up with all of this?"

"Last night. I couldn't sleep" I responded. I wasn't going to tell them about the Wishmaker's Key yet. Them knowing the source could actually make this backfire hard.

"uh huh..." he nodded. "And, you say we can do this now, and give our workers raises and better benefits?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, it's kind of imperative that we start there with the other changes too. Those changes drive the efficiencies. It was on slide 5."

A line manager raised his hand, "If this kicks off like this in the spreadsheet, you guys are going to get rich."

"No, we ALL will get rich, because of the profit sharing platform. Again, Before we weren't in the same boat. I am putting us all in the same boat we will all build together, and this will work." I couldn't believe I was able to form the the presentation and then give it to all of these people. Because, I was a fuck up. Or, I had been.

Within 6 weeks, the business was going gangbusters, and I was able find resolution to the problems of a growing business. And, I had 2 wishes left.


What next?


Snowdog1967 t1_jcb70bf wrote

The old man shuffled over to the counter with a cloth wrapped around something in his hand. When he placed the cloth on the counter, he slowly unwrapped it, careful not to touch the item inside. It was a brass skeleton key, approximately 5 inches long with a Skull at one end, and a very ornate key head at the other. It looked like it was generating its own light, but it was the end of a long day, so I can't trust my memory in some ways.

"This... This is what you came here for." The old man whispered.

"No. I don't think it is. I thought you were the last owner of the Monkey's paw. That is what I need. I can make the wishes and not screw it up." I was desperate, and he knew it, even if I didn't at the time.

"The Paw, everyone wants the paw, everyone thinks they can outsmart the paw. You cannot. I could not, and look at me, I'm OLD, and allegedly wise." He coughed for a moment and I thought he was actually going to die in front of me before continuing after spitting out a glob of lung butter the size of a dollar coin. "This is the Wishmaker's KEY!", he stopped like I should know what that meant. He continued, "Nobody appreciates a good intro. Look, this will provide you with the best way to get what you want. 3 wishes, but they are, opportunities, not gifts, so you have to work for them once the wish is made."

"I've HAD opportunities, everything I touch just turns to shit! I need the Paw!" I paced in front of the counter, barely able to keep from staring at the key.

"The Paw is no good. Besides..." He looked away, "I used it to create this, it is no more"

"What? How is that possible?"

"I bought the Paw for a single penny. It must be sold for less. I used the last of it's magic to create this. " He motioned at the key. "I will sell you the key for 100 Dollars. You can sell it for..."

"Yeah, I know, $99.99, I get it. Okay, I'll buy it." I handed him a hundred dollar bill.

"Take your merchandise."

The moment my fingers touched the key, I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the store I had just been inside. However, this building was burned out. I wasn't sure how this happened, but I knew I wanted to leave, to get home and make my wish.



"I wish my family's business was thriving and had never failed." Similar to the paw, the key had markings and one of them disappeared as I felt a shock through my arm. I was suddenly imbued with knowledge of how to revive my family business. But that was it. "Well shit, I still have to do the work? That sucks." I decided to get in bed and start in the morning....

Little did I know...


Snowdog1967 t1_ja7lgsw wrote

Thank you.
I love prompts like this where it can be self contained and doesn't need a part 2.
As a parent, all we want is for our kids to be safe and healthy. When they aren't, we would do ANYTHING to make it easier on them. This mom was glad someone could help their biy go easier.


Snowdog1967 t1_ja528aa wrote

"With you?" Death was confused for a moment.

"Son, I know you are very ill, but I normally play games AGAINST my ..." he thought for a moment, "friends, whom I lead to the next life, than with them."

Life was cruel and to this boy in front of him, it had been exceptionally so. Cancer beaten 3 times, only to have caught a simple virus that killed his liver. Because of previous illnesses, he wasn't a candidate for transplant, if they found a donor in time.

Death knew they wouldn't. He heard the uneasy snores from the parents in the bedroom across the hall. He was a little bummed they wouldn't get to say goodbye as the boy passed, but sometimes, it was easier to find someone who passed peacefully in the night, as would this boy, Kenny.

"Look, I've never beaten the game, I just need some help. Can you help me beat the game, together I know we could, then.... Well, I know who you are. If Mom and Dad came in, they wouldn't even see you, would they?"

"No, they would not. How do we play this game?"

"Well, we start off, well, I had already started a world, so we have a bit of a head start,"

"Good, we don't have a lot of time here." Death interjected.

"So, I have my Mom's laptop. I was trying to teach her and she didn't get it, but she tried. So you can play her character."

Over the next few minutes, Death learned how to maneuver, mine and well, craft items. Kenny and Death worked in mostly silence, with occasional comments from Kenny regarding things to get, or how to craft certain items. Occasionally, he would ask a real question of Death.

"How will you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Kill me?" Kenny, seemed to tremble at the words being said.

"Oh, dear boy, I am not the one killing you. You are dying because your liver is failing. I am here, not to kill you, but to take you on to your next destination, your soul, that is."

"What about the giant blade you use I see in all the pictures?"

"Ha, look out for that creeper, well, I have been pictured as many things over the years. So, yeah, that scythe is one thing people associate with me, but mostly, I take my charges by the hand or with a gentle arm on the back, and we walk into the next world together." Kenny seemed satisfied with that answer. "Are you warm enough?"

"yeah, I'm kind of feeling hot now. I know that's probably from the liver thing. Okay, the next room we go in, that's where we have the final battle. Are you ready?"

"Are you?" Kenny knew what this meant, and for a moment he had a scared look in his eyes. Death put his hand on his back and said gently patted him. "Let's make this a little more, fun. I believe you deserve a little more fun this last time."

With that, they were not staring at computers but in the world of Minecraft. Ready to defeat the Heart of Ender. Kenny gasped at first, and then said excitedly, "Let's Go!"

It was an amazing battle between the two heroes and the final boss. When it was done they were back in Kenny's room. Kenny was exhausted and voluntarily went into his bed.

"This is where Mom and Dad will find me?"

"Yes. it's time, you know."

"I know. What happens next?"

"Well," Death said to Kenny's spirit now standing next to him still in front of the computer, "Now we go. I have enjoyed playing this game with you. Would other children play this game too?"

"I'm sure, I know grown-ups who play it."

"Interesting. Take my hand, it's time."


The next morning, Kenny's mother came in to find him so peacefully on the bed. She sat silently next to him amazed at how he just looked asleep instead of passed. As she turned to look at the computers, she could tell that he had finally beaten the game. She then noticed that logged into her Minecraft account was 'Death'.

"Thank you, wherever you are."


Snowdog1967 t1_j9lkt6a wrote

It didn't happen exactly like the Bible said it would. Funny that way, right?

It took time to figure out what had happened. There were rolling blackouts overnight that "day". People who were left behind had hours of time they couldn't place where they were. Of course, many were home, in bed, but some others were in their cars driving, or even on planes. The cars were stopped, the planes resting various places that were not airports.

Billions were missing. There, then gone. Some were the only ones left behind from families, some homes completely emptied, others everyone passed over.

Those left behind had a weird tattoo type mark on their foreheads. The Mark of the Beast it was called. That was a somewhat joking description of it. It had odd circles and lines that looked like no human language, even the ancient ones. And ALL who were left had it, branded into their forehead. No traditional removal techniques would make it go away. Skin grafts would slowly bring the language up. Makeup wouldn't stick to it.

In the years afterwards, some babies were born with the mark, others not. With such a small section of the language to try to decode it, it was so difficult to figure it out.

Scientists worked day and night to decode the simple mark. And one day, after years of AI and Human intelligence alike, it was decoded...

"Not fit for Consumption. Do not Harvest"

It could have said other things, of course, but it didn't.

Now, we worried in fear, you see, approximately 200,000 babies had been born since the first incident who didn't have the Mark. They were on the menu. We needed to figure out something, some way to prevent the next harvest, whenever it might occur. This is what rallied humanity together like nothing else.


Snowdog1967 t1_j5kay0o wrote

So, it's weird how I ended up here. I have memories, like a dream almost, but one that I have on a recurring basis. Big battle, I have some magical abilities, my enemy banishes me to Hell, and I wake up in my apartment. Which, isn't Hell, but some days, my job feels like it.

The woman had to be six and a half foot tall. She towered over me by a foot almost. She waited in line at the print shop and stared at me the entire time while I waited on secretaries getting stationary, grandmothers getting pictures printed off of SD cards or worse, their phones, and people needing help with the self service scanning and copying services. I did all of this cheerfully, I enjoyed the job. Even when there were frustrated or rude customers, my manager was quick to come out and diffuse things. It was great. When the woman stood in front of me, she stared at me with a smirk on her face silently for a solid 30 seconds after I asked how I could help her. Finally she spoke.

"it was wrong of me to banish you from our world after your defeat my evil nemesis. Please come back with me so we may relive our glorious battles of the past!" her voice was booming and filled the entire store like she had somehow gotten on the PA system. The store manager bolted out of the office and almost ran over to my counter.

"Yes Ma'am, how can I help you?"

"Let this one leave so we may continue our battles." Her eyes never moved away from me.

"Corporate doesn't pay you enough to deal with this Mark." I said while rolling my eyes. "I don't know this woman."

"Of COURSE you know me! It is I who sent you here to this hellscape!"

People around us were starting to look around. I saw panic in some of their faces. I noticed that the woman was armed with a wicked looking dagger and sword hidden under her designer over cloak. I'm sure some of them were worried she was going to start swinging.

"Hey, Um Mark, I tell you what, it's time for my lunch, let me just go OUTSIDE and talk with this customer and you can have agent 99 come take over for me." I didn't take my eyes from her gaze while saying it.

"Are you sure, about going outside? I am sure about having agent 99 come to cover of course."

"Yeah, it's not like she's going to behead me here. Right?" I pulled off my apron and set it on the counter shelf. "I'll be back in an hour, boss." I walked out from behind the counter and noticed Mark dialing the phone. That would be for the Police who are 'agent 99' in our retail code.

I walked to the bench in front of the store and sat down. I waited for the obviously crazy person to join me. "Please sit. I don't bite."

There was hesitation, then she sat down beside me. One hand on her dagger hilt.

"Don't worry, I won't give you a reason to use that. So, you found me." I sat looking at the cars driving by, pigeons in the parking lot, and just the general calm of the late morning.

"I was wrong..." There was a pause. I know it took a lot for her to utter those words.

"Yes, I heard inside. But why are you here. You WON. To me, this was all dreams that played in my head over and over, by the way, but this world, for all it's faults is so much better than the one you banashed me from."

"Better? You have no magic. You toil, daily for the common folk. How is that better?"

I took a deep breath and thought about how I could begin to explain how much I liked this world better than that last one.

"Have you heard of indoor plumbing? How about refrigeration? Supermarkets? Cars, PLANES?" I had only recently taken my first trip in a plane. It was scary but amazing. Everyone in the flight crew talked about how brave I was to fly for the first time at my age. Because, well, I looked like I was in my 90s. I'm closer to 300, I suppose.

I noticed the police car rolling up slowly. I knew the officer behind the wheel. He looked very nervous. I waved at him with a big smile. I nodded in the direction of the giantess next to me and smiled with a thumbs up. Hopefully, he wouldn't escalate things.

"Hey, is everything okay here?" He got out of the car and adjusted his night stick.

"Everything is great. This is my, well, she's a friend from my old town. She just came by to see if I wanted to move back home." I started to stand up to shake his hand, and he quickly motioned for me not to get up. Everyone here thinks I frail, I think.

"Friend? Does your friend know that carrying swords makes her look dangerous?"

"I am dangerous..."

"What she means is that she knows. But a lady can't be too careful these days, you know."

"Are you sure you are alright? " the officer asked. I nodded yes.

"Absolutely. She was going to show me her Ren Faire getup. I guess she forgot to put the peace knots on them. It's fine. Would you let Mike know everything is okay please? I know he worries about me. He thinks I'm OLD!" and I laughed.

With the officer gone, I turned to look at my old adversary. "Is it boring here? Yes, quite often. But I am not conquering the lands, my magic would get me noticed, and I am loving my retirement. Thank you. Why do you want to fight anyways?"

"It's BORING at home! "

"Oh NONSENSE!" I couldn't believe she would say such a thing. "You won! You have the love of the people, countless slaves to do your bidding, more gold than you can count."

"I have the fear of the people, slaves who conspire for freedom, and that gold just keeps moving out to pay for the people, safety and other things. How did you do it?"

"I treated the slaves like people. They might have had the title of slaves, but they were my people who lived under my rule. Mistreating one would get someone lashes. They worked the land, yes, they paid taxes to me but it was more often than not in food. I managed hunting on my lands to keep from harvesting too many deer, but I had them farm cattle and sheep for food, too."

"But... you have none of that now?"

"Sure. YOU have it. You defeated me, remember."

"I'm offering you a chance to go back."

"I am declining. This particular afterlife agrees with me. Besides, I'm dead there. How could you explain it? That you went and brought me back because you need someone to focus the people's ire on?"

"But... Your magic. Don't you miss your magic?"

"Not a bit. They have science here. Works great. Plus, I work my magic in other ways. I want for basically nothing. I have a nice apartment with hot and cold running water! I am a little old man here, and well, that suits me. It's been a lovely chat, come back and visit again sometime, but leave your swords at home, you won't need them."

"What if I force you to come with me?" there was a threat in her tone.

"Mbaraick!" I pointed out at a light post in the parking lot in front of us. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, but a giant bolt of lightning struck the pole drawing from the blue. The thunder was instantaneous and shook the windows. Car alarms went off throughout the parking lot.

I turned to her and smiled. "Run along now. But do come back if you want to be civil about it. Learn how to lead the people, not just the military. I'm sure you can do it."

She scowled and pulled out a wand opening the portal back home. "I'll never understand you." and she stepped through to disappear.


Snowdog1967 t1_ixzn7v8 wrote

Jonas Salk wanted to create a cure or at least a treatment for diabetes.

Maria Curie wanted to learn more about radiation.

I was trying to concoct a better way to get high. Yeah, I said it. I was experimenting with "magic mushrooms" and cross breeding them to be able to grow them in my basement instead of having to run out to cow pastures and fight off hippies and curious teens. What I discovered was a migraine cure. Take one milligram at the onset of the stars, and within moments, it all goes away, and no skull splitting headache either. I never should have started selling it over the Internet.

That's how I ended up in this windowless room in some building in a town somewhere, talking to two guys in black suits and a man wearing what looks like wizard robes.

"... Mr. Hargrove? Are you even listening to us Mr. Hargrove?" the suit on the left was waving his hand in my face.

"I might have zoned out, now that you mention it." I deadpanned. "So, I'm uh, in trouble for selling a substance that is currently not illegal, for a homeopathic migraine cure? Have you seen the other SHIT people sell as cures on social media? Do you guys work for Big Pharma?"

"Young man, they do not. Nor do I. I belong to a consortium of... Professionals, would be the best word to use, who practice some of the same experiments that you do, among other things. "

"So you're a hippy? Do you own one of the pot farms out west? Mad that you can't sell CBD or Cannabis oils to cure migraines any more? I know some of you are a little eccentric. Look, my stuff isn't illegal, and NOBODY has gotten sick from it, Heck, the current formula doesn't even get them high. It was failed experiment number three hundred and something on my way to being able to get really rich."

Suit on the right spoke up. "Mr. Hargrove, Agent Smith and I are here as part of a US Government association to limit access to unlicensed magic. The Professor with us is a representative of an alternate nation who live within our boarders, but do not subscribe to our laws. They have been here since the time of the colonies and lived in secret. "

"What does that have to do with me and my Magic Mushroom Migraine cure? Are they wanting a cut? Isn't that how the government works? Cars that run on water? Shut down by the Oil companies. What else do you have to do to keep the little guy down?" I started to get up and the robed one spoke a single word and all I could do is sit. "What the hell?", I whispered.

"Migraines are an overabundance of magical energies building up in the body with no release path. Your migraine cure allows the Manna, magical energies to dissipate without the pain of a headache or the loss of vision from the initial ocular annoyance. Now, our interest in this particular cure you have created is two fold. One, most people who get migraines are probably genetically related to our people, and we would like the opportunity to welcome them back into our fold. Two, we would like to pay you, handsomely, in gold, for your services in continuing to manufacture this cure. Finally, they," he gestured at the two agents, " would need you to sign some documents stating that you are going to work for the, IRS, was it? As a field agent. At least that's the paperwork part. "

Agent Smith spoke up, "Hey Randal, that's not the deal we discussed!"

<unintelligible phrase> and a wave of the hand later.

"Oh, my mistake. Yes, you will work for the IRS as a licensed agent. You will have a security clearance and a GS18 pay grade, but we will give you the rate for living in the Capital. That will pay enough for you to not talk about what you are doing, really. For him."

"Randal, is that your name?" I studied the wizard. "Wizards, MAGIC is real? Why don't I notice people in robes out and about?"

"Where are you going that you would see us? New York City? Down in the financial district of your town? The trailer park where you sold that failed experimental blue meth?" He grinned at that last on.

"Hey, let's not talk about the blue meth in front of law enforcement, okay?" I chuckled nervously. "That was food coloring and diet pills."

"We are, around, most of us don't participate in your perceived normal society. Some of us live on the fringes of it. You have actually met a few of us buying your cure. That's how it came to my attention. I then, contacted my friends here to have a controlled conversation. Now, I would like to introduce to some more of my friends, alchemists who would like to study with you. Plus there's the matter of your payment from us. That is, if you are willing."

"How much gold are we talking about?" I asked nervously. "I know, we aren't supposed to talk about the pay in the initial interview, but this isn't a normal job interview, is it?"

He reached into a pocket inside of his robe and pulled a leather pouch about the size of a softball, and tossed it on the table in front of me. The clink of metal coins was very loud in the room. I carefully opened the drawstring and saw more coins than I could count. I wordlessly tied it back and picked it up. It was heavy.

"You would spend those in our society. That is a LOT of money. You could rent a home and live well with us, on that bag for a month. And every month you work with us, you will get another. They will pay your in this world for your life here." He reached in his pocket for a watch and smiled. "I've got to go. They will provide you with your paperwork and take you home. I'll be in touch." With that he disappeared in a puff of smoke that smelled like sage and cinnamon.

"I hate it when he does that." Agent Smith complained as he waved his hand around. My ex used to sage the place before we divorced. Said she was trying to get rid of bad spirits."

I laughed. I knew what spirit she was trying to exorcise. "I think it worked then."

"Ha ha, very funny. We are going to take you home now. This week you will receive a FedEx package with your new hire packet. Meet your new manager, Agent Jones." he pointed to his partner who was extending his hand for a handshake.

"What next?"


Snowdog1967 t1_ixungi1 wrote

Buck's Pawn was the place you could find about anything. I mean, I usually went in once a month or so to see who had sold their dreams of rock stardom in exchange for rent money, food, or much more likely, meth. Saturday was a day that while trying to decide if I could part with my hard earned $200 and change for that undervalued Tama drum set, I heard something an isle over that totally changed my life.

"... I threw my back out and I have to sell these until my disability checks start." I could hear the sob story but not see the owner of the voice. It was a story I had heard on more than on visit to the store. Buck was a good businessman and a better human. So he generally figured out how to give more than fair prices on some items and still turn enough profit to support his family.

"I can give you this much for the lot of them. Maybe your back will get better, so I won't put them out for sale for 90 days. I know you're a hard worker and won't want to sit on your ass for long, so I'm only gonna charge you 8% for the vig." I heard the cash register open and Buck counting out some money. I waited until his customer exited the store before walking around to see him. It was often embarrassing for those who were selling their dreams just to survive.

"I'll be with you in a moment." Buck called out as he carried the tools to his back room. I turned around and pretended to be interested in the hand tools on the shelf behind me. That's when I saw it.

Right across at eye level was a hammer like I had seen the blacksmiths use at the county fair as they demonstrated a craft that had been long since taken over by the industrial revolution, or so I believed. The wooden handle was seasoned by the heat of years of use. There was a leather wrap around the lower third of the handle. I reached out before I even realized I was doing it, and picked it up. I began to study the head of the hammer. It had a slight mushroom shape at the end where you knew it had shaped tons of metal over it's lifetime. The wedge at the other side had a few nicks in it, but mostly it was just smooth. For some reason, holding this in my hand and studying it, I knew I was not buying a drum set today.

"Hey Buck, Do you really want..." I looked at the price tag taped to the bottom of the handle, "... $50 dollars for this thing?"

Buck reappeared from the back and was amazed to see me holding the hammer. "Why would you want an old blacksmith's hammer? I thought you were taking that drum set off my hands today?" The look on his face seemed to suggest he was actually worried more about what I would do with the hammer than him not offloading some drums in his inventory that had been there too long.

"I don't know, it kind of called out to me. It's old, right?"

"You have no idea. I didn't even want to take it from the guy who sold it to me. He kept insisting that I would find the next person who needed it to earn a living. Complained that people didn't make things any more and his craft was dying out." Buck studied me for a moment. "What would YOU do with it? If you are going to say anything dumb like mount it in a shadowbox and display it on the wall, I'll kick your ass right out of here."

I laughed a moment at that comment. Not that he couldn't kick my ass, but I did consider displaying the hammer. I didn't know why I wanted it, but now, it felt like maybe it, and I needed each other. "Hey, I just... Maybe this starts my new hobby. One that can make me a little money instead of annoying my parents with a drum set. Do you still have that portable forge?"

"Yes I do. It's in my warehouse. Too big for in here sometimes, so I leave it in the back. I tell you what. I will sell you the Hammer and the forge for $200 together. You don't know the beating I will be taking on this deal, but I want to see what you make with it, okay?"

I silently handed over the $200. Buck helped me load the portable forge in my car and even gave me the tongs and a small anvil that were part of the forge set. He told me I could try to use lump charcoal, but I would probably want to find a source for actual coal to get the heat I needed, or I could cheat and get a gas furnace source. Away I went.

"Now what?" I said to the hammer. Imagine my surprise when in my mind I heard an old voice respond.

"Now, you learn from the best."