Contest #186 winner 🏆

258 comments

Bedtime Funny Kids

(This uses a triangular sequence to determine the number of words per line, and per paragraph https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_number. A couple of the longer lines seem to wrap as well - not clear how to resolve that with this editor.)





Mouse!





In

my house.





I

know not

whence it came.





Eyes

beady eyes

glare at me

and whiskers chuff away.





“Shoo!”

I shout

and heavily stomp.

“Get you gone now,

beast, and forever hie away.”





“No,”

it squeaks;

its nose twitches,

“It cannot be done,

I’m so sorry to say.”

And I’m perplexed and ever vexed.





“What?”

I wonder.

“How dare you?

What insolence is this?”

Such a cheeky little mouse

defying me in my own house,

I simply cannot stomach this at all.





“Cheese,

please sir,

I beg you,”

says the fluffy runt.

“I am poor and famished,

and you have so much bounty.

Just a little nibble, tittle, and jot,

a slice of yellow heaven, a pungent triangle.”





Cheese,

of course

it’s always cheese.

I feel pity swell.

I cut a cheddar chunk,

an orange sliver, crumbly and sharp,

and hand it to the starving rodent.

“There there, of course, a triangle is fair.

And now you’ve had your fill my friend, adieu.”





“Thanks,”

it says,

and then: “But.”

But? Is there more?

“What of my wife, sir?

She’s dwindling fast, the poor lass,

and dearly needs a bite as well.”

A hungry wife? Well that’s certainly no good.

I grab my knife and measure the cheddar anew.

“Camembert, sir, if you please. Her tastes are quite refined.”





Again

I slice,

and give away.

“Is that all then?”

The mouse pockets the cheese

and squeaks, “I’ve two children also.”

I sigh and raise my knife again.

“Gouda for my girl Eileen, her favourite kind,

and brie, my boy Maurice – he can’t do without.”

I cut again and once more, my cupboard running bare,

my plans for French soup abandoned, and my toast left unadorned.





“More,”

he squeaks.

“I’ve cousins some,

arriving from all over,

and aunts and uncles too.

A mouse-ish wedding we will have

so cut and cut more triangles, sir,

of edam, feta, parmesan, and gruyere and blue,

and for the kids, a queso sauce, and cream–”

I scream! My shaking hand cramps from the endless cutting.

“How many more?” I fretfully ask. “How many kin have you?”

“Oh more, sir, a great deal so, from countries far and wide.”





Squeaks

and chitters

fill the air,

a thousand tiny feet.

Around me are a legion,

a million mice carpet my home

and drape the walls with beady eyes

and swishing cobra tails. They sniff and whisker

and debate which cheeses are best, and argue ceaselessly.

Then I hear my guest, “Keep cutting sir! More cheese!

We need halloumi by the load and much Havarti and Swiss.

Cottage by the bucket, and Muenster by the barrel. And above all

we need the cheese – that glorious, sumptuous, blissful cheese – that everyone calls cake.”





Sweat

drips into

my sorry eyes,

I hack my knife

so hard the counter splits.

The mice, they cheer and jeer

and hurry me along. Each new cheese

I cut into a slice and then again

diagonally; two perfect triangles filling the mice with glee.

“More!” they shout, their squeak a roar, a deafening tide

of joy. “More, sir, don’t lag behind! We hunger ever so!”

They pass me a new, bigger knife, and tip my fridge over,

and produce a better cutting board – big, industrial and made of stainless steel

– and shout “Our appetite keeps growing! Just cut and cut again, another cheesy triangle!”





Another

cheesy triangle!?

What to do?

My arm goes numb

and my back aches so.

I cannot keep this pace up,

but my guests do goad me on.

I fear what happens when I run out

the last of all my cheese. Will that sate

the little beasts? Or will their hunger just keep growing?

Each time I blink there’s even more mice by the dozen.

They walk on stilts and fill the air, hanging from tiny ropes,

a million million eyes on me. They bet each time another triangle’s cut

to see who gets the prize; and those who don’t just roar their ire:

“Cut faster, man, and harder! More triangles for us today! You’ve done okay so far.”





“Mouse!”

I cry.

“How much more?”

“More and ever more,”

he says, and they cheer.

“I’ve given you an inch already–”

“–and we’ll have a mile. You see,

we like your home and we’d simply hate

if we had to chew the walls. You agree?”

I don’t want them in my walls, yes, I concur

that cheese is the better of the two. “And,” he says,

“a small known fact: that mice, though small, are fond of meat.”

Of meat? I wonder what they mean. What next? A slice of ham?

Or chicken drumstick, turkey leg, bacon rasher, sausage, steak or big tin of spam?

My fridge is nearly empty as it is, and held little more than my cheese.

I may have a can or two of sardines in the basement, or tuna and beans.





Silence,

I note

all around me.

Not a single squeak,

peep, chirp, snuffle, or twitch.

All ten billion eyes on me.

“Meat,” says the mouse, “my good sir.”

And all their mouths drip with fresh saliva.

“No hard feelings, sir, but we’ll have our fill.

Keep the triangles of cheese coming, and cut them well,

or we’ll gnaw the cutter who’s surpassed his purpose. It’s recycling.”

My throat’s gone dry, I swallow hard, and get back to slicing.

I feel their eyes crawl on my skin and hear their slobber drip.

How did I get into this mess? How did the day turn so awry?

The sun was nice this morning and I never feared that today I would die.

I ponder all the plans left unfulfilled, as I cut another triangle and toss it to

the mass of mice. Another dozen slices of smooth mozzarella, another score or two of crumbly asiago –





Out.

Of cheese.

I swallow hard.

The tense mice shift,

my fridge a barren void.

“Thank you, sir,” says the mouse.

“You’ve done quite well, but that’s all.

We’d love more cheese, but now we’ll feast–”

“Wait!” I cry, interrupting the beast. “A moment please.”

“Well?” he arches an irritated eyebrow. “What is it then?

Hurry now, for our stomachs rumble so, and our young hunger.”

Think fast! I think I’ve done my good deed for the day

and don’t relish ending up a mousy meal. But what can I do?

There’s a billion billion of them, stacked so tight they run floor to ceiling.

If only I had more cheese for just another triangle or two. But that’s it!

“Mouse!” I say. “There is more cheese!” He frowns and scans the fridge, empty and lifeless.

“Not here, but at the store! I’ll grab my wallet and drive down, and return with more!”

The mice agree, and I flee across the sea. And the house, I put up for sale, as-is.

February 18, 2023 22:56

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258 comments

15:12 Mar 03, 2023

CONGRATULATIONS MR. P …ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ …ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ …ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ …ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ…ᘛ⁐̤ᕐᐷ

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Michał Przywara
16:20 Mar 03, 2023

Heh :) Thank you, Deidra!

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Hirum Jamiel
23:47 Mar 12, 2023

I keep finding your stories nice

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23:37 Jul 17, 2023

mice?

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Michelle Oliver
11:55 Feb 20, 2023

This was so much fun to read. It looks like visual art too. I like the triangle pattern being part of the story in the imagery of triangles of cheese. Writing it must have done your head in, counting words each time. I’m not really a numbers kind of person so that would have irritated me. I’m interested in how you worked through the challenge, your process if you will. I totally admire the way you are able to make the bizarre so accessible for us mere mortals who enjoy your stories.

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Michał Przywara
02:06 Feb 21, 2023

Thanks, Michelle! Once I settled on the pattern, counting was easy - initially. First is just a single word, then 1+2, then 1+2+3. Things fell apart on paragraph 7 or so onward, where I kept forgetting which paragraph I was on, and therefore how many lines I needed and how many words per line. Counting them was still easy in principle, but it was also boring (and confusing, while simultaneously trying to write an actual story) - which is a recipe for human error. So I got around it by writing a little Python script to validate the text for...

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Michelle Oliver
18:56 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations on the win!

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Michał Przywara
19:18 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you :D

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Lily Finch
15:50 Feb 19, 2023

Michał, the role reversal happens quickly in the building of triangles, one from the next larger each time, just like the mice who multiply each time. I am fascinated by the mice taking on a very human trait of strength in numbers and threatening/demanding what they want or doing something to the MC's home or him. The tone and voice of the mouse change in triangle 10. “I’ve given you an inch already–” “–and we’ll have a mile. You see, we like your home and we’d simply hate if we had to chew the walls. You agree?” I had a "Willard" mome...

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Michał Przywara
01:54 Feb 20, 2023

Oh, that's a great take! But yeah - while we can absolutely live in harmony with other kinds of animals, it behooves us to remember they *are* different, and have their own ways of going about things. Thanks for reading this triangular story, Lily :)

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15:56 Feb 22, 2023

Michal! This was honestly a delightful read. It actually made me think of an episode of "Cabinet of Curiosities" or the "Twilight Zone". While it's quite humorous, it also dances in the realm of horror. I really enjoyed the format! The triangle structure of the story matching the theme of cutting triangles of cheese was a brilliant and creative take on this prompt! Well done my friend! <3

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Michał Przywara
21:49 Feb 22, 2023

Thanks, Hannah! Yeah, I can see some horror vibes :) The story is definitely a product of its form - I'm glad it worked out! A very unusual experiment this week.

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Laurel Hanson
12:43 Feb 19, 2023

Bravo sir for rising to this prompt. The lengthening sentences with verses building as they do actually works to create tension in this "kids" story. It's funny and foreboding at the same time. And a twist on the "cut off their tales with a carving knife" one might have expected!

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Michał Przywara
02:33 Feb 20, 2023

Thanks, Laurel! It was hard finding a workable pattern for this prompt, but it was so delightfully weird I had to give it a shot. Glad to hear the story works! I'm not convinced it's my best prose - and there was a tendency to go to something more lyrical, except the constantly inceasing word/syllable count kept throwing that - but it was nevertheless fun. If anything, it underscored for me that paradox, where more constraints can free us creatively. Maybe it's because it changes the question from "what should I?" to "how should I?"

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Laurel Hanson
12:41 Feb 20, 2023

Yes! My first thought when I read the prompts was, "Uugh!" It felt so restrictive. Then suddenly, I had ideas for a bunch of different ways to do three of them and may still do a second story for fun (just not the math prompt. I leave that in more capable hands than mine). From my perspective, it was fun to do. I am not sure how well they read. Perhaps not the best prose or plots, but I know someone will produce a dazzler this week that will leave me in awe.

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Athena Granados
04:17 Mar 04, 2023

Hello Michal! Hola Michal! Greetings from the Philippines! First off, congratulations on a well-deserved win! The triangle format is quite a romp. At 71, I have only come across 4 kinds of cheese in my life. My cupboard of cheese vocabulary could not have accommodated more! As neither could my wallet. I am afraid that the rodents could eat me out of the house and home! The humor jumped at me like a weird guest who later became a welcome intruder! It reminded me to set more mousetraps tonight!

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Michał Przywara
04:59 Mar 04, 2023

Hello Athena! Greetings from Canada :) "a weird guest who later became a welcome intruder" - that's a great description! Thanks for reading :)

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Story Time
17:26 Mar 03, 2023

Congratulations Michal. Not just a good story but a massive achievement from someone who cannot do math to save his life!

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Michał Przywara
18:15 Mar 03, 2023

Heh, thanks Kevin :)

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Susan Catucci
17:02 Mar 03, 2023

Hahaha! And that's just for the subject matter! I had Coraline in the back of my mind as I read this hip hop romp of yours. The construction was incredibly well-done; for me it was like taking in an entire world made up of Lego pieces all fitted together. I'm just not sure how you managed it, but I do know how much I enjoyed it. Great.

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Michał Przywara
17:56 Mar 03, 2023

Thanks, Susan :) Now a story as Lego, that's a fascinating idea :)

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Kerry Batchelder
02:20 Mar 04, 2023

I absolutely was lost in this story. What imagination!!! Spectacular! Fantastic job of drawing the reader in with anticipation and suspense.

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Michał Przywara
15:20 Mar 04, 2023

Thank you Kerry! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Wendy Kaminski
00:09 Feb 19, 2023

hahah! This was tremendously fun and cute, Michał! And technically demanding, but you certainly rose to meet the prompt, on this one! I also liked how visually pleasing it was. I gotta say, I wasn't a fan of this set of prompts, but the stories coming out of them are interesting and excellent. :)

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Michał Przywara
17:27 Feb 19, 2023

Thanks, Wendy! This prompt stood out to me as it had such great capacity to be weird. It took a while to actually find a useable sequence though, since the whole number=words-in-paragraph can balloon very quickly. Exponentially, we might say. I had a really neat idea for odd squares, which would have handled the story-in-a-story-in-a-story prompt too, but I just couldn't get it to work and still be intelligible. Oh well. Triangles to the rescue. I'm glad it ended up being fun :) I'm not sure the prose could stand on its own, without the st...

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Wendy Kaminski
17:35 Feb 19, 2023

Agreed, I keep eyeballing those other prompts, but there are so many good things coming out of them already, I might just stand down and enjoy the show. :)

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Wendy Kaminski
15:11 Mar 03, 2023

YESSSS! Congratulations, absolutely the right choice for the win this week. :)

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Michał Przywara
16:21 Mar 03, 2023

Thank you, Wendy :D

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Lizzy Hardy
04:55 Nov 05, 2023

I liked it and htink it was funny that the mice take all the cheese, and that the house is put up for sale with all the mice in it.

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Michał Przywara
00:24 Nov 06, 2023

Thanks, Lizzy! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Sue Schroeder
14:15 Oct 06, 2023

How charming! Well done, Sir

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Michał Przywara
02:01 Oct 09, 2023

Thanks, Sue! It was an interesting challenge :)

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Kaelyn Klaus
00:08 Aug 03, 2023

I really enjoyed this! I have many many many pet mice, and they can be quite demanding at times. Well done, congrats on winning!

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Michał Przywara
22:38 Aug 03, 2023

Thanks, Kaelyn! It was fun seeing what would grow out of that first word, and gradually there were more and more triangles :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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23:36 Jul 17, 2023

LOL, I love how this story starts low-key and funny and then slowly grows in a crescendo of anxiety until it becomes a proper horror story with the mice trying to kill the main character. Or maybe not... maybe it was only an empty threat; we'll never know. One thing is sure: the main character thought it was real. I love the distinctive voices of the mice and the man and how well the story's pacing in a way that keeps you on your toes. Excellent work!

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Michał Przywara
01:24 Jul 19, 2023

Thanks, Giulia! It was a fun one to write - definitely an interesting challenge. Funny and anxiety was certainly the goal :) I appreciate the feedback!

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23:19 Jul 09, 2023

Loved this one

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Michał Przywara
20:44 Jul 10, 2023

Thanks, Dwayne! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Liv Chocolate
19:47 Jun 10, 2023

Michal - my comment is long delayed. This story absolutely melted my heart and was a much needed reprieve from all the heavy stories I've been reading lately. And I relate to it (more on that later). I'm so happy you won. Only a talented writer like you would be able to create a captivating story without having to depend on shock-factor, R-rated themes. Nothing wrong with R-rated themes, as they have their place, but it really is a little more challenging in my opinion to get a reaction without leaning on them. I smiled and aw'ed and laughed...

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Michał Przywara
04:54 Jun 12, 2023

Thanks Liv! I'm glad you enjoyed it :) You're probably right about animals - just as we adopt them, they adopt us. Especially if food is part of the equation :) You raise an interesting point about shock factor and R-rated things too. A good gory slasher can make an excellent horror, but on the other hand Shirley Jackson made a lazy afternoon gathering in a small town truly unsettling too. More challenging, like you say, but challenges help us grow. Thanks for the great feedback!

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Kilroy _
19:33 May 30, 2023

How you wrought the story was brilliant! you deserved the win! I also really liked the mice, and the story itself, it was very interesting, and fun to read.

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Michał Przywara
20:42 May 30, 2023

Thanks, Kilroy! It was definitely a challenge, but fun to write as well. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Ausha Garcia
17:25 May 25, 2023

😍 it was a ggood book

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Ausha Garcia
17:25 May 25, 2023

Good job mr P 🥰😘🥰

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Michał Przywara
20:42 May 25, 2023

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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Friendly Dragon
12:39 May 18, 2023

Wow! It's good. I enjoy it. Oh no.. a mouse!

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Michał Przywara
20:47 May 18, 2023

Thanks Dragon! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

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