Mysterious Glass Invitation

I walked up the noisy gravel driveway, coat pulled up against the pervasive chill of the night. I checked my watch to see how late it was, and was surprised by how bright the moon shone, reflected off my cracked glass watch face. I looked up at it and was struck by just how large it was in the sky – not the first time I’d had such a thought since touching down in this strange country.

My fingers grazed over the watch face, and I let a deep sigh escape – I really did have to find a good glass repair company in Melbourne, on my return.

‘Hello?’ a voice called out from the darkness immediately behind me, attached to a young blonde woman, her apologetic smile more apparent as she jogged into the moonlight. ‘I didn’t mean to startle you!’

‘No matter,’ I said, returning her cordial smile. ‘Are you also on your way to the Baron’s mansion?’

‘Afraid so,’ she sighed, and I detected a faint American accent. ‘You got his cryptic invitation too?’

I nodded. ‘Do you have any idea why he’s gathering us? Or even how many of us there will be?’

‘No clue,’ she said, as we began to walk up the immense driveway again. ‘Probably just wants to show off some fancy new glass stair balustrade he had imported from Australia or something.’

‘Oh,’ I frowned. ‘Rather not the macabre evening I had hoped for.’

She laughed at my expression, hooking her arm around mine in an overtly familiar gesture. ‘You’re funny,’ she declared. 

‘Thank you,’ I said, stiffly. ‘And you are…’

‘Abigail,’ she told me, with a curt nod. ‘Judging by those specs and that truly terrific hat… you gotta be the scientist, right? Rennings?’

I nodded, impressed with her deduction. 

‘Look,’ she went on, ‘don’t get your hopes up about tonight. It’s just as likely that he needs witnesses for some legal signing than that he wants to actually show you something… interesting.’

‘I shall do my best to keep my hope in check,’ I said, as we approached the door. ‘Shall we?’

Pier Toenail Thoughts

I sat on the pier, watching the sun dip below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of orange and pink. The fish were playing in the water, jumping and splashing, carefree and content. But I was not like them – I was burdened with pain. 

I was wrenched out of my thoughts by a sharp stabbing pain from my big toe, and quickly dipped it back into the water. The cold shock wiped away most of the discomfort, and the thoughts wandered back in. I reflected on my life: the choices I had made, the paths I had taken. 

I looked down at my feet, at the discoloured, thickened nails that were a source of my pain – fungal nails, the podiatrist had called them, as she’d chided me for my carelessness. I couldn’t help but think of all the times I had neglected my health, all the times I had put my work and responsibilities before my well-being.

The wind picked up, blowing my hair into my face, and I closed my eyes, letting the fresh sea breeze wash over me. I thought of the people I had hurt, the relationships I had damaged, and the opportunities I had missed. Had I really been so focused on the future that I had forgotten to live in the present?

The sun gently disappeared behind the horizon, and the cold night rushed in to take its place. I made a resolution, in the growing dark – I would no longer be a victim of myself. No more failing relationships, no more metaphorically-significant toenail conditions – treatment near Cheltenham was the only way forward, for both.  

I knew that I couldn’t change the past, but I could choose to make the most of the present. I vowed to take better care of my health, to be more mindful of the people I loved, and to live each day to the fullest. With a lighter heart, I stood up.

The fish had stopped jumping, and the pier was silent except for the sound of the water lapping against the wooden posts.

Steps of Sustainability

My five-step plan for world domination a worldwide utopia:

  1. Move to New South Wales, where they are going to have an election sooner than Victoria. There, I will amass enough popularity that I will be put in a position of power. This is essential, as I will need to have worldwide influence within a few years.
  2. Ensure that my business is known as the most sustainable in Australia. It’s good PR, and people will be willing to support me for my incredible efforts to save the environment and build a utopia. Make sure that the results of our commercial energy monitoring are made public, which will build goodwill with the population.
  3. Run for Premier of New South Wales. Most importantly, win. This will likely be in 2022. I need to build up plenty of support and align myself with a party before then, ensuring my victory when the election comes. Once the victory is mine, I shall enact laws requiring businesses to become completely sustainable within one month, otherwise, they shall be severely punished.
  4. Become Prime Minister of Australia. Whether by revealing the scandals of everyone in front of me or by winning a legitimate election, it doesn’t really matter. Run a platform of professional commercial energy management being done across the entire country, so that we become the cleanest, most powerful nation on Earth.
  5. Claim world domination. This is by far the easiest step, as I will have so many supporters at this point that they will be an unstoppable force. Other countries will have to join my new empire or be completely destroyed. Conquer Asia first for the reinforcement bonus at the start of each turn, like in a game of Chance. The plus two troop bonus from Australia is handy, but if we want to make the entire world run on sustainable solar energy, we’ll need a bigger force. From there, just sweep through the other countries until we live in a complete utopia ruled by yours truly.

Tinted Band Battle

I never thought I’d enter a battle of the bands’ competition, especially since I don’t play any instruments. I mean, I’ve always wanted to learn to play the guitar or the drums, but I just never had the drive to actually do it.

Given I don’t play music, most people would probably think it was a stupid idea to enter the battle of the bands in order to impress a girl. I’m sure that this is totally going to work, though. My best friend Robert and I ordered these cool t-shirts online that have our band name (even though we don’t actually have a band): Frosted Window Tinting Friends. I’m aware that this is possibly the worst band name ever, but we picked it super late at night and weren’t really thinking. We’re stuck with it now, so whatever.

Anyway, I figure it can’t be that hard to learn an instrument. Robert and I will just practise the guitar together until it looks like we know what we are doing. We’ll play that single by Concept Artists about office tinting close to Melbourne. At least our band name will make some sort of sense that way. And yes, I’m aware that Concept Artists aren’t really that big anymore, ever since the band had all that drama, but hopefully, people are in the mood for a throwback.

Now, I know that it’s going to be basically impossible to learn an instrument well enough in a single day, which is why we’re only practising to look like we can play. We’ll have the original song play through the speakers, and hopefully, everyone just thinks we’re a really good cover band. That’s right, we’re going to be lip-syncing. It’s genius! Nobody will even realise, we’ll win first prize and I’ll get to go on a hot date with the girl of my dreams. At the end of the day, I’ll have only Concept Artists to thank for recording such an awesome single about window tinting.

Little Guy’s Agent

I like to consider myself a hero to small people. Like, the literal small people. I’m a buyer’s advocate, you see, and I have marketed my business around helping people who look like they aren’t old enough to buy a home do exactly that. After all, it’s not their fault that they have the face of a child when they are actually a fully grown adult. Why should they not be able to buy a home?

My story begins when I was just a junior buyer’s advocate. Melbourne was a crazy place at the time, back in the 90s. I was working for this big agency, taking my lunch break on a warm summer’s day. I saw someone enter through the front door, looking like three little boys stacked on top of each other in a trench coat. I knew better, though, because nobody would be stupid enough to actually try that. Therefore, it stood to reason that they were not actually three kids in a trench coat, but merely a fully grown adult who just looked oddly suspicious.

So, you can imagine my horror when the receptionist calls over the boss, and he tells this, unfortunately, suspicious man to get lost because he isn’t old enough to buy a house. I thought my boss was a buyer’s advocate in the Kew area that treated everyone fairly. It turns out that was wrong. Like, did he just assume that person’s age? 

He was just a judgemental monster, so I quit right then and there, swearing to start my own buyer’s advocacy that stood up for people like Mr Business, my unfortunate friend and first-ever client. I can’t even describe the pride that went through me when he bought his house. I shook his hand, which because of his birth deformities looks and feels like a broom, and told him to enjoy the rest of his life.

I’ve been standing up for the adults who look more like children ever since. It’s a really rewarding job, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Mountain Foot Pain

I stood, panting in the light of the setting sun, checking my watch to clock my heart rate and oxygen stats. It was getting dark quickly now, the last of the afternoon being smothered by the dripping night. Breath coming easier now, I began to trek back down the mountain, taking it much slower than my frantic run up.

I came to a juddering, hopping stop almost immediately, hissing in pain as the muscles in my feet rebelled against my steps. I half-collapsed, steadying myself against a convenient boulder and grasping my foot through the shoe.

My doctor had been recommending that I see a foot specialist near the Cheltenham area for over six months now, every time I came in for a sore throat or a medical certificate. ‘That’s going to grab you one day,’ he’d say sternly, nodding down at my foot.

He’d given me a rudimentary diagnosis, some sort of deep-muscle issue in the foot’s architecture that needed correcting, but he didn’t have the foot expertise to fully treat it.

‘I’ll get to it,’ I’d said to him, an accidental lie, but a lie nonetheless. I was just so busy, constantly moving around, meeting with clients and going for my runs.

‘So this is how I die,’ I grunted to myself, looking up for the now-gone sun. ‘Stranded on a mountain I was able to run up, but can’t even crawl down.’

Stupid. It probably would have only taken a custom orthotics fitting – how long could that have been? An hour? And now my foot wasn’t working, strong lances of pain shooting up my leg as soon as I put any pressure on it.

A low rumbling sounded from the bushes to my right, and I twisted to peer into the darkness – my tight running clothes suddenly leaving me feeling incredibly exposed.

Not like jeans would have helped you if you’re getting mauled by a bear.

I decided that I did not, in fact, want to die, and snapped off a big chunk of bush to use as my walking stick. Slowly, slowly…

I began to make my way down the mountain.

The Black Rock

So, I’ve got a random question for you, dear reader. Totally random. Definitely has nothing to do with what happened to me yesterday. Anyway, so what would you think if you knew someone who looked like a scorched black walking skeleton with the power to control the earth itself? Because I definitely think I’d want to be that guy’s friend. Sure, he might look like a complete monstrosity that would commit acts so terrible that they can’t be mentioned here, but I’m sure he would be a good guy.

Like, I know this is all hypothetical, but imagine this guy, this man, this poor man, who was just going about his business. Imagine he walks into his bathroom one morning and just feels the urge to call a bathroom design business within Melbourne because he feels that a renovation is in order. But as he turns to leave the room, he notices that one of the tiles is out of place. He moves it aside and sees a dark stone pulsing with energy. Curious, he shrugs his shoulders and touches the rock. Suddenly the earth beneath him gives way and a sinkhole opens up beneath his house.

You’d feel sorry for that guy, right? You’d want to be his friend still? I definitely would. Sounds like he’s had a rough day or two and could use some support. All he wanted was some bathroom renovations. He didn’t ask to be turned into a strange creature. He didn’t ask to get weird powers he can’t control. He didn’t ask to look like a Bionic Cool or something. 

Alright, I’ll level with you guys. It’s me. I’ve been turned into this horror. I’m feeling really vulnerable right now, so if you have it in you to leave some positive comments, I’d really appreciate it. For now, I think I’m going to just make myself a cup of tea and hope nothing else breaks around me. That said, I’m not sure I even can drink tea anymore.

– Earth Man Tyrone

Fortune Competition Results!

Recently I posted about a competition being held on this website, where the winners would receive a free fortune, valued at $500 dollars each. We had over six thousand people submit their entries, telling us all about their future ambitions and goals. Today I’m proud to announce the winners and publicly post their fortunes here. Without further ado, let’s get started. Congratulations to Charlie, our first winner.

Charlie, you told us all about how you were looking for new options to liven up your office space and increase the morale of your team, as they continue to sell hotcakes like… well, hotcakes. We’ve consulted the stars and found that the answer to your question is in commercial office design. Around Melbourne, that’s the hottest thing at the moment. Given that your star sign is Virgo, we feel strongly that you should use a bright and pink theme for your office. Have a pancake party every day!

Our second winner is Derek from New York. Derek’s family is having some issues, so he wanted us to do a tea-leaf reading, revealing the pathway forward. Uh oh! Looks like there’s great woe ahead for Derek and there’s nothing he can do to help the situation. That’s a real shame.

Congratulations to Rex, our third and final winner. Rex works in Melbourne. Office fitouts are his jam, he says. Well, isn’t that a great coincidence! Rex wanted to know where he could find a client for his business. As it turns out, we don’t have to do any psychic consultations at all. Rex, meet Charlie. Charlie, meet Rex. Charlie needs someone to make her office space nicer. Rex needs a client for office design and fitouts. It’s a perfect match! I can’t believe we’ve done it again.

Thank you to everyone who submitted their entries for this competition. We had a truly wonderful time running it. A big congratulations to our three winners, Charlie, Derek and Rex!

Playing Terra Area

The other day I bought a new game on Smoke, the best marketplace for video games online. They’re always having these great sales, so I bought the 2D explorer game Terra Area. It’s a bit like Craft a Mine but with more to do. I hesitated to buy it for a long time because I honestly wasn’t sold on it, but when it’s on sale for fifty cents, how could I say no?

And I’ve got to say, I made a real mistake waiting this long to buy it. The first thing the game asked me to do was name my world. I live in Tasmania, so I wrote the first thing I thought of: Hobart. Maybe that’s a bad name for a fantasy video game world, but I don’t think it matters. Then I made my character and got into the game.

When my world was completely loaded, I was given my first mission: find the man who can complete a transmission repair. Hobart needs a working transmission in order to make any real progress, apparently. It wasn’t the kind of mission I was expecting. In fact, I’m not even sure what a transmission is in this sense. Maybe it transmits radio signals to outer space? My hope, though, is that by finding the transmission repairman, I’ll be able to get a working car and travel around the 2D sandbox world of Hobart faster. That would be pretty cool.

So I set out on my quest, armed with only a brass dagger and a set of leaf armour. For in-game days I walked across the world, seeking the repairman. I travelled through desert, tundra and jungle to find him. Eventually I came to an ancient ruin and found a man who offered auto electrical repairs across Hobart. He also said that if I build him a house, he’ll move into it, meaning I won’t have to travel so far to talk to him again. That’s pretty cool!

Of course, I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t pay for his transmission repair service at the time. I walked back to the middle of Hobart and started building houses for my NPCs. Now I just have to get some money and I’ll be on my way to beating the Sun King boss!

Zebraman’s Laundry Panic

I can do this. I can totally do this, right? There’s no need to panic. Sure, I’m trapped in a room with twenty-four hours to create the perfect laundry design. Sure, I cheated on the last challenge and have no idea what I’m doing. But I can get out of this. I have to. I’m Jack Zebraman. You’ve probably heard of me because I am very famous. Famous people don’t get put in situations like this. I’ve got to be like the protagonist of Black and White and find a way out of this.

Oh man, why couldn’t they have just asked me to do a kitchen installation instead? I could have done that. Okay, just breathe, Jack. You’ve got this. Don’t panic. You’re a movie star. You can do literally anything you set your mind to. No, you don’t know the first thing about making a laundry, and it’s true that it was probably a mistake to go on Next Top Office, but you can do this. I know you can because you’re Jack Zebraman.

I think I’m feeling a bit better now. I suppose it’s time to sit down at my desk and get to work. At least I don’t have to physically build the laundry. I just have to design it. I would have preferred to create the a kitchen design concept, Melbourne style, but that’s all right. It’s probably not even that different. Yeah, just put the sink in a different position, add a few driers and washing machines where the dishwasher, refrigerator and oven would be and you’re done. See, how easy was that?

Now that you’ve got the idea in your head, it’s time to draw it out. Never mind the fact that your high school art teacher called your drawings a crime against blind people. It’s been years since then. You’ve improved. Just put the phone down and stop typing up a blog post to put on the internet later. There’s work to be done.