Well, here's the thing I came up with. It's 4 in the morning right now and I'm too tired to do anything else. I had to tone it down a bit, since this IS graded, after all. Have fun reading.
A Clever and Witty Title
“I’m tellin’ ya, Markus, there’s no way I’m going to pull this off without your pollen coupon!” I begged the large Swedish man standing in front of me. “C’mon, I’m in the seat in two hours! Help me out, man!”
Before I get ahead of myself, lemme explain. I’m one of the few engineers that helps maintain the Machine of Death. Maybe you’ve heard of it? If ya haven’t, basically it takes your blood, turns it into a buncha numbers, and somehow by those it’ll give ya a card with how ya die on it. Problem is, we kinda messed up a little bit. It’ll tell you how ya die, alright, but the Machine has a twisted sense of humor. It said someone would die from cancer, once. The poor sucker died from getting hit by a crab truck. Yeah.
Not sayin’ the Machine is defective or anything, of course. It usually works like a dream, but that’s not the point. What people don’t know is that the engineers behind the scenes- all ten of us- had to come up with nearly every single possible type of death. Not pleasant.
And then there’s guys like Markus. They’re the last few guys that keeps the Machine working. In case the Machine wasn’t completely right, Markus and his coworkers would make sure the Machine was right.
Now, the next part is kinda weird to explain. Since all the hard work is all done, and since we’re contractually obligated to never leave the company, the higher-ups decided to keep us busy with the ‘Card Games’. Every week, we mash a random string of 65536 numbers into the root program and it gives each of us a method of death. Another machine that we’ve dubbed ‘The Black Market’ spits out ‘coupons’ for three to five objects and a time period that we’ve gotta include.
The point of the game is to kill your target. Whomever crafts the best murder or ‘accident’ gets a bonus or sometimes one day of paid leave, if the boss is being generous. We’re free to exchange coupons and stuff as we see fit, as long as we don’t exchange methods of death.
I’d pulled a very interesting death card that I was having a very difficult time with. That also brings me back to my current predicament.
“No.” Markus flatly told me.
“C’mon, man! I’ll give you my Keg of Wine coupon and I’ll buy you lunch tomorrow!”
The large man had to think about it. “Dice coupon, and I pick.”
“Fine, within reason!” I blurted, very scared that he’d try to make me buy him lunch at the four-star restaurant a few blocks away.
“Machiavelli’s.” Damn. He did pick it.
“You know I can’t afford it.” I groaned. “How about Coal’s Coffee for a week?”
Markus thought about think about it too. “Two week.”
“Week and a half. That’s reasonable.”
Finally, Markus handed over the coupon. “Bring double latte, extra chocolate syrup.”
“Ugh, fine. “ I snatched the Pound of Pollen coupon from him and gave him my Handful of Dice coupon.
Next, I needed to get rid of this Five Heads of Cabbage coupon, because it was completely ridiculous. I dashed down the row of cubicles and across the hall to a small office and politely hammered on the door.
I poked my head in the room. “Hey Ky, want a Five Heads of Cabbage coupon?”
My supervisor, known colloquially as Ky (We don’t know her name. We assume it’s short for Katie or something), looked up from her laptop. She adjusted her bright red glasses while brushing her beautifully blond hair out of her eyes and opened a drawer to retrieve something. She fanned out her assortment of coupons in her hand and inspected them.
“Want a Sleeping Bag? Or how about a Fire Starter?” She suggested, showing the two coupons in question to me.
I wouldn’t say no to a fair trade. “I’ll take the sleeping bag!” I darted inside and snatched the coupons out of her hand. I was halfway to the door before I realized I’d taken two coupons instead of one. “Whoops, sorry!” I did my best to toss the Fire Starter coupon back at Ky, but I didn’t stick around to see where it landed.
“Don’t get stabbed!” She jokingly warned me.
“I’ll try!” I called back, nearly back to the cube farm where my office was.
Now all I had to do was put together all my coupons together in one big mess that would get me that bonus. Apartments didn’t pay for themselves, ya’know. I spread out my collection of five coupons on my desk and stared at them. The American Revolution. I had a sleeping bag. I had a pound of pollen, a keg of wine, and a shoe box. What the heck was I going to do?
“Oh dude, you have a shoe box? I need that!”
“Tom, I don’t need anything you have. We’ve been through this.” Don’t make eye contact and maybe he’ll just leave.
“I’ll give you a Gold Bar Coupon and a Cookie Coupon for it.”
Begrudgingly, I took the deal. “Fine, fine. Gimme those coupons.” Two for one was always a good deal, I guess.
Now, what would I do with this? I stared at the small business card sized prediction that the Machine had given me. Of all the possible things, it just had to be that one. Maybe I just needed a nap.
“Achoo!” The red-coated British officer pulled out a small embroidered handkerchief and wiped his nose with it. “Curse these large rolling plains!” He sneezed again, and nearly screamed in annoyance. “To be home once again!”
Beside him, a much more extravagantly dressed red-coated British officer approached him on horseback. “Lieutenant, I expect your mind and sinuses are clear? I’m going to need your tactical genius for the next battle with these cowardly colonists.”
The Lieutenant hastily saluted, shoving his damp handkerchief into one of his many pockets. “Of course, Brigadier!” He fumbled among his belongings that his manservant was keeping watch on. Dutifully, his manservant set up a small folding table as he found his map of the area. “Our scouts ran into resistance here-” The Lieutenant said, pointing at a grove of trees on the map. “-Here, and here” He pointed at two more locations along the country road they were on.
“An ambush, then?” The Brigadier asked.
“Probably” The Lieutenant sneezed again. “Curse this god-awful air!”
Dismissively, the Brigadier waved his hand. “Gather the Third Artillery Company and have them advance with the Seventh and Ninth platoons in the morning. We’ll just have to bomb their little ambush into submission. What say you, Lieutenant?”
“Seems like a great idea, sir.” The table was packed and the map rolled up very quickly.
The night was fast approaching. Hundreds of men were already setting up camp and other living necessities, such as a bar, as evidenced by the drunken singing coming from somewhere. The Brigadier wandered off after issuing his orders to go yell at a pair of soldiers who were obviously not working on digging latrines like they were supposed to.
The Lieutenant and his trusty manservant searched for where the bar tent had been pitched this time. Knowing how the Quartermaster operated, he’d be distributing and selling drinks. Exactly what the Lieutenant needed, given his seasonal allergies.
“Make way for the Lef’tenant!” Someone shouted the second the Lieutenant walked into the bar tent. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, soldiers moved out of the way for him. The only kind of respect he got, he thought to himself as someone accidentally splashed some ale onto his sleeve.
A large old bearded man with his uniform already unbuttoned greeted the Lieutenant warmly. “Welcome to Midas’s Touch, sir! What can I fetch for you?” The bar itself was simply a wooden contraption pained a gaudy bright golden yellow propped up on whatever happened to be on hand.
“I’ve got half a mind for some burgundy, Quartermaster.”
“A very good choice! Good thing I requisitioned more for your fancy spoiled pansy bums.” The Quartermaster rolled out a large keg from under a canvas tarp. “Can I interest you in the entire cask?”
That got a smirk out of the Lieutenant. “Just a few glasses, I’m afraid.” He dropped a small column of shillings on the gold-colored table surface. “Try selling to the Major General.”
“I’m a right old nutty bastard, but I’m not that mad!” The Quartermaster chuckled. He carefully picked up one of the few polished wineglasses behind the bar and filled it by pouring directly out of the cask.
The Lieutenant swirled the sanguine-colored liquid around in its glass. “What do you have in the way of nibbles?” He asked, relishing the taste of the wine as much as he could.
“Hardtack?” The Quartermaster held up a very dense-looking distasteful brick.
Lord knew how much of that stuff every British soldier had eaten on the boat over to the colonies. “Anything proper? Crumpets, perhaps?”
“Ah, I’ve got just the thing. The chef baked something right interesting. It’s like a biscuit, but not really.” The Quartermaster opened a crate and pulled out a small round biscuit-like object. “The boys are calling them the Cookie’s mistake. Extra sugar in ‘em and whatnot.”
The Lieutenant stared at it. “What’s in it?”
“Pumpkins, I think? Some of those newfangled chocolate things? Here, one free of charge.”
Worst case scenario, the latrines would get visited very soon by the Lieutenant. He threw caution to the wind and took a bite. It was a bit burnt, strangely flavored with spices (Which had probably been stolen from some officer’s personal stash) and sweet. Not bad, the Lieutenant thought to himself.
“It’s interesting.” The Lieutenant mumbled, washing down the pastry with another mouthful of wine. “Not bad.”
A few glasses of wine later, plus a lot of socializing and a lot more pence spent, the Lieutenant retired to his tent. There was not much for him to do, other than last minute organizing of troops and checking in with his various Sergeants to make sure things were prepared for the morning.
The Lieutenant took off his jacket, his tall officer’s hat, his sword belt, his pants, and carefully draped them over the chest that held the rest of the belongings that he had brought with him. He unrolled his sleeping bag and slid himself inside, hoping for a good night’s sleep and not too severe of a hangover.
Cannon fire and screaming caused the Lieutenant to abruptly wake up. Something was wrong! He shrugged off the slight pounding in his head and took a swig of slightly old ale from a bottle on the ground. On went the pants, jacket, sword and hat.
“Sir! The rebels are attacking from the southwest!” A soldier yelled at him, reloading a musket.
“Reorganize! Make firing lines! Get those cannoneers on a hill!” The Lieutenant shouted, looking for a higher ranking officer.
The first order of business, besides dodging musket fire, was to locate as much of his platoon as possible. Lacking that, a single company would have to do. The cowardly colonists were hiding in the trees and taking potshots at the British camp, except for their one cannon that was in the middle of the field.
“Lef’tenant! Over here!” Excellent, most of second company was still alive and mostly in uniform. Thanks to their regimental training, they were already lined up and ready to fire.
The Lieutenant located the nearest clustering of colonials in the trees. He drew his sword and pointed it at them. “First rank! Ready!” Rifles raised to shoulders. “Aim!” The first row of soldiers performed final adjustments. “Fire!” Ten rifles fired all at once, the smoke obscuring everyone’s vision for a moment. The first row of soldiers reloaded their muskets as the second row prepared to fire. “Second rank! Ready! Aim! Fire!” Ten more rifles fired. Someone fell out of a tree, and another colonist dropped to the ground, dead.
“Incoming cannonball!” The cannonball fired from the treacherous colonist’s single cannon flew wide, wrecking a tent and the wagon behind it.
“They fire without aim nor skill!” It sounded like the Major General had regained control of the situation for the moment. “Destroy them and show them the wrath of the King!”
A scattered cries of “For the King!” and “Down with the rebels!” went up from everywhere.
The Lieutenant ordered his single company to fire at the offending cannon. The first salvo of shots were ineffective, as all it did was delay the cannon team from reloading while they took cover behind their cannon. The second salvo managed to kill the loader, but not fast enough to prevent him from doing his job.
Slowly, the cannon turned to point at the Lieutenant’s company. “Fire!” He shouted, hoping that someone would finish off the last two members of the cannon team.
Too late, the cannon fired. Everyone ducked and scattered, trying to escape the path of the heavy iron ball. Once again, the cannon didn’t hit anything but another tent. The Lieutenant stood up and yelled his entire squad back into formation.
What the Lieutenant didn’t notice was about half a tent careening at him at high speed, freed by the cannonball and launched by rope tension right at his back. One of the tent’s spikes impaled itself in his back. As he laid in the dirt and chaos in battle, he imagined the letter his family would receive in two months.
Dear Mrs. Larkness,
We regret to inform you that your husband, Lieutenant Huey Larkness, was slain in an ambush on the morning of the 23rd of March, 1778. We are obligated to inform you that, in a moment of poor timing, your husband was slain by a standard issue tent spike in the midst of combat…
I stopped daydreaming and sat up. I stared at the coupons on the desk in front of me, wiping a bit of drool off the Cookie coupon. Maybe… “Nah, that’ll never work.” And with that, I decided to peruse some other idea. Maybe if someone here had a Fish Hook coupon…
EDIT: OH SHIT I FORGOT TO CHANGE THE TITLE BEFORE I TURNED IT IN