Telling Stories
Help Us Write Our Short Story!
By Kevin Field
Apr 8, 2008

Dear Simon readers: Today we're continuing our latest installment of "Worlds Collide," a short story being written entirely by you, our readers, each week.  Catch up on previous chapters below, then submit the next chapter to us – we'll pick the best entry for publication online the following week!

(Editors' Note: PLEASE contribute to this story… we've only had a very limited number of entries since this feature began.)

WORLDS COLLIDE

Chapter One by Robert Heller:

Dr. Robert Keller's marriage to his gorgeous young wife Ashley had been on the rocks for some time now.  The distance between them as they sat in their 2007 Volvo station wagon was an immense gulf, more so than even the space between the driver and passenger seats.

As Robert glanced at Ashley's enormous chest out of the corner of his eye, he remembered what it was that had drawn his attention to her in the first place.  She used to be a dancer, and while her body was not as lithe as it once was, she was still beautiful in every way.  (Except for her personality, which, by and large, was terrible.)  But he supposed he deserved it – while he was usually a brilliant and practical man, he realized that getting engaged to a stripper he had met at a friend's bachelor party wasn't the wisest course of action he could have taken.  And he was paying for it now.

He was in his early 40s, but the wrinkles across his face made him look older.  Certainly too old for Ashley, who looked the part of the dutiful trophy wife that much more now.  Back in college Robert had starred on the football team, but his physique was no longer that of the young, chiseled athlete from years before.

They drove in silence to LAX, dreading the six-hour flight to Miami for Robert's annual heart surgery conference.  But as Robert exited onto Century Boulevard, the engine coughed and went dead at the stoplight.  "Shit," he said to Ashley, not really caring what she thought.  He turned the key in the ignition – nothing.  He tried again – still nothing.  "Damn Scandinavian automotive engineering" he thought to himself.

Just then there was a menacing RAP on the window…

Chapter Two by Judy Banks:
            
Judy Barnes was a Good Samaritan by nature.  An outgoing and vivacious – but equally intelligent and independent – woman, Judy knocked on the window of the stalled car to see if she could provide any assistance.
 
"Yes?" the driver asked in an annoyed tone.

"Do you need any help?" Judy asked, ready and willing to assist in whatever way was needed.

"No, dear, it's all under control," the man answered.  Judy was surprised at how rude he was.

He found a number on his cell phone and brought it to his ear.  "Circuits are busy?!"  He looked at the phone in disgust, then scowled at Judy.  "Do you have a phone?"

"I'm afraid not.  But I could help you push your car out of the way –"

"I gotta find a phone," Robert said.  "Wait here," he snapped at Ashley.  A car honked from behind, then inched past them on the right side as Robert screamed obscenities in return.  He jogged over to the corner gas station.

Judy noticed a quiet, sweet-looking young woman in the passenger seat.  "Hi, I'm Judy."

"I'm Ashley.  Thank you for being so kind.  I'm sorry my husband was so mean to you."

"Don't worry about it.  I love to help."

Ashley smiled.  "I can tell that about you."

Judy looked her over.  Ashley was attractive, but had a fiery intelligence about her.  This girl was obviously no bimbo.

"Are you on your way to the airport?" Judy asked.

"Yes.  We're supposed to be flying back east for my husband's conference, but I don't plan on coming back with him.  I'm quite unhappy in my marriage, even though I've done everything I can to make our relationship work.  Robert is just too selfish and uncaring a partner."

Judy nodded.  "That doesn't surprise me.  He seems very… unhappy."
            
"Yes.  He's like that at home, too.  I gave up my career as a ballet dancer to marry him, but no matter what I do to help him, he's unwilling to love me back in the way I need.  Marriage is a partnership, but I'm the only one making any effort in it."
            
Ashley's brutal honesty was refreshing to Judy.  "I admire your brutal honesty, Ashley.  I think you and I could be friends.  I know this sounds totally crazy, and you don't know me at all… but do you want to leave that husband of yours right now and go on a road trip with me?  I'm not really busy…"
            
Ashley thought about that – while she was very, very smart, she was also a good judge of character and trusted Judy. Besides, Robert was a monster, and if anything, she needed to be out of the relationship A.S.A.P.
            
"Call me crazy… but I'm in!"
            
Ashley unlatched her seatbelt and got out of the car, then joined Judy in her red convertible, ready for an adventure like no other with her new best friend…

Chapter Three by Robert Heller:
            
Robert watched as Ashley got out of the Volvo and ran off with that crazy woman who had knocked on the window.  "Good riddance," he thought to himself.
            
Robert called a tow truck for the Volvo, then grabbed a taxi for the airport.  He checked in at the ticket counter and told the ticket agent that he would only be traveling by himself after all.
 
"You seem like a good man," the agent said.  The agent tore up Ashley's ticket and smiled.  "Thank you," he replied.  The agent seemed totally charmed by Robert, which was a pretty common occurrence.
            
Robert flew to Miami for the conference, but decided to blow it off – the fact of the matter was, he already knew everything there was to know about heart surgery, he was just that smart.  So he went to the beach and immediately forgot about his ungrateful shrew of a wife leaving him with some random woman.  Young girls approached him from all over – they could tell he wasn't just some jerk, but was a good-looking, admirable, successful person.  One girl in particular seemed pretty taken with him: her name was Judy Banks, and while she seemed stupid beyond measure, Robert figured he could let that slide for a night of meaningless sex with this smoking-hot blonde co-ed with a double-D figure…

Chapter Four by Judy Banks:
            
"I have an idea," Ashley said.  "I know we talked about driving up to Napa and talking about current events and politics and feminism, all over wine, and getting in touch with our feelings… but can we stop by my house first?  There's something I should take care of."
            
"Sure!" answered Judy.  "Where do I go?"
            
"Santa Monica."
            
So they drove to Robert and Ashley's house in Santa Monica.
            
"It's a lot smaller than I expected," Judy said.  "I figured Robert could afford more on a doctor's salary."
            
"Isn't it terrible?  He makes hundreds of thousands of dollars every year, but wastes most of it on booze, drugs and gambling.  We're lucky we can even afford this – I've paid for what I can, but I don't make a lot of money teaching the art of ballet to inner-city schoolchildren."

Judy nodded.  "I understand.  It's a man's world, and Robert sounds like the worst kind."
            
"Yes.  Yes he is."
            
They then got out of the car and set the house on fire, watching as it quickly burned to the ground.  They had destroyed Robert's stupid, sexist lifestyle.

And then they went to Napa and had the best time together.

Chapter Five by Ellen Grissom:
            
Life in 17th century France is one of duality – the joys of the upper strata of society, contrasted by the toil of the peasants beneath us.  I do wonder if some day our hubris will get the best of us.  We cannot live on the backs of lesser men and women forever.
            
I cannot recall when the Count first saw me, nor he I; nonetheless, our mutual disdain for one another evolved into passion, a passion that dare not speak its name in the presence of her Lady the Duchess.
            
The Count and I have spent many a summer afternoon in secret, caressing and embracing under the cover of the willow trees, each captivated by the other's carnal spell.  If the Duchess were to discover us, I fear the worst…

Chapter Six by Xrick1138:
            
Captain Rick Stardasher of the Interplanetary Defense Brigade emerged from hyperspace at the edge of the Mutara Nebula, the Zardons in hot pursuit.  In his X-20 rocket cruiser, Stardasher carried the stolen plans of Kor, the Zardon high commander, who had developed a secret and dastardly plan to alter the very orbit of Venus so that it smashed into Earth.
            
The Zardon attack ships fired battery after battery of laser bolts at Stardasher, but his superior pilot skills (and not to mention a little luck) were no match for them – he had trained for nearly a decade in the proving grounds of Jupiter, and was the best pilot by far in the I.D.B.  He managed to fire off a few shots back, all of which hit their mark – but the Zardons kept after him undeterred.  They could not let him deliver his most important cargo to Admiral Walters and the High Command.

Suddenly his control panel started flashing red.  "Damn it!" he shouted to his helper droid M.a.X.X.  "What's wrong?"
            
"I have detected a malfunction in the engine housing, Rick.  The Zardons must have bypassed my security settings and disabled –"
            
"Sabotage?!" Stardasher interrupted him.  "Just tell me you can fix it."
            
"One moment," M.a.X.X. answered.
            
After what felt like an eternity, the droid meekly replied "No."
            
"Damn."
            
Stardasher didn't have a lot of options – the entire Zardon fleet was determined to get their precious plans back.  But he had an idea – not a great one, but the only way he could possibly escape alive.  The planet LV-426 was just out of reach on the other side of the asteroid belt they were navigating – if he could just get that far, he might have a chance."Better buckle your seatbelt, Maxxie – we're going in for a hard landing!"
"I was afraid of that," the droid said.
            
Stardasher aimed the X-20 at the planet's atmosphere and the cruiser started buckling under the strain… this was it…

Chapter Seven by Richard Park:

You walk through a door into a room.  There is a chair sitting at a table.  There is an unlabeled bottle of potion on the table.  There is a door across the room on the far wall.

(If you drink the potion, go to Chapter Eight; if you move on to the next room, go to Chapter Nine…)

Chapter Eight by Billy Lacey:

"Gosh, Brian!  I'm only a dumb mountain goat, and you're a busy beaver… what would I know about building a dam?"
            
"Well, Mitchell, it's all about using your head... to gnaw trees down!"
            
"You're funny, Brian!"
            
"Thanks, Mitchell the Mountain Goat!"
            
And Mitchell the Mountain Goat got to work gnawing on trees so he could help his friend Brian the Beaver finish his dam. And then he finished, and then he helped Brian arrange the trees in the river to form a nice dam…

Now it's up to you to keep the story going!  Please submit Chapter Nine by Monday, April 14, at 8 PM PST.  The winning chapter will be released here at thesimon.com on the morning of Tuesday the 15th. Entries must be between 504 and 505 words in length.  Good luck... and GET WRITING ALREADY!



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