Fifty/Fifty: 2.zero

The short-awaited sequel to 50/50…

Fifty stories in fifty words with a nod towards the Good Book.
But which bit?

 

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1: Big-bang

In the beginning darkness.
Silence.
Emptiness.
Despair.
Then bang! an explosion.
Light, life, movement, sound.
A new world begins.
And one man sits up on a rock slab.
Shakes off the clothes of an old universe.
The new evolution begins.
Life morphing from death.
Hope from despair.
Purpose from pain.

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2: Finished.

Knock the last nail in and it’s done.
A strange kind of ending.
Things go on as normal.
Yet not normal.
Blood and fluid courses down flesh and wood.
A stream of consciousness.
Life, knowledge, truth, being.
All rebooted.
Because a man hangs like a picture.
Life in all fullness.

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3: Everything

From the outside it looks nothing.
Just another two coins.
But she knows and he knows.
She knows because it is her life.
Two coins are all she has.
Everything for another day.
Given away.
He knows because he cares.
They are soul mates.
Both giving till it hurts.

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4: Prayer

She’s learning a new language.
Trying to speak in prayer.
Not easy.
Knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door.
Bashing till her knuckles bleed.
Expecting results.
Calling out in her pain.
Loneliness, fear, doubt, anger, trust.
Exercising those muscles.
Faith. Hope. Love.
Amassing reserves.
Patience. Kindness. Self-control.
Opening a window on another world.

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5: Ouch!

He nearly died three times.
The storm smashed their bodies.
Then the soldiers wanted to slice their throats.
Then the boat split and sank.
Thank God. They’re safe now.
Soaked but alive.
Ouch! What’s that?
Jaws locking – his hand’s on fire.
Death’s got him in the end.
Or has it?

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6: Manifesto

He knows himself.
Knows the potholes that will send him sprawling.
So he plans ahead.
He’ll dump the cynical slander.
Destructive behaviour.
Detrimental practise.
Bin his arrogance, vanity and pride.
Consume a cocktail of healthy alternatives.
Integrity. Honesty. Hope. Justice. Compassion.
Knowing him he’ll have to do it every day.

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7: Changes

He can see clearly but they still guide him to his seat.
She’s not haunted anymore but they still offer therapy.
He’s been dancing but they carry him to bed.
She’s not contagious now but they won’t come close.
They have no idea.
He, she, him, her.
Just met Jesus.

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8: Questions

Where were we?
When it all kicked in.
When that voice thundered across the universe.
Before there even was a universe.
When it told the daylight to appear, the sea to ravage the shore.
The dawn to rise in the newly-furbished sky.
Us?
A crystal vision in his mind’s eye.

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9. Arriving

This is embarrassing.
Who told them to come?
She didn’t imagine this.
She’s supposed to be surrounded by women.
Fussing, helping, being useful.
Instead she’s got men.
Gawping and smelling bad.
She feels so, so tired.
Can’t they go back to their sheep?
They’ve woken him.
Now he’s crying.
Thanks.

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10. Leaving

He walks around the circle.
It gets harder with each goodbye.
Some of the guys look down, kick the ground.
Now he’s crying.
Can barely get the words out.
It’ll be a while, before they see each other again.
He steps away, melts into nothing.
They stare, wait.
Still waiting.

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11: Drunk

They look well plastered.
Staggering around the streets.
Shouting at the passers-by.
Laughing, disturbing the peace.
Just like any Friday night crowd after the clubs have closed.
Just one problem.
It’s not Friday night.
It’s Sunday morning.
And no club has closed.
But a new one has just opened.
Welcome.

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12: Lingo

Chaos in the streets.
Fighting on the terraces.
Neighbour yelling at neighbour.
Yesterday there was peace.
Everyone was communicating.
Talking about the tower.
How well it was going.
How we’d soon be knocking on heaven’s door.
Now, anarchy.
Can’t understand a word.
Great plans destroyed.
By lack of communication.
Babbling.

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13: Contradiction

Awesome.
Tiny.
Sower.
Seed.
Hands big enough to harness a hurricane.
Mouth wide screaming for food.
Fingers with the power to flick stars into space.
Too much milk makes him sick again.
Forever awake, intensely interested.
Must have his sleep, fractious if not.
Omnipotent.
In a cot.
Designer.
Dependant.
2-in-1.

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14: Call-up

He does the job all wrong.
Looks like a cowboy.
No proper qualifications.
No decent reputation.
Can’t wait for people to approach him.
So he goes to the people.
And all the wrong ones.
Won’t wait for them to choose him.
Chooses them instead.
Totally back to front.
And humble.

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15: Heroes

Abel. Noah. Abraham.
Sarah. Enoch. Isaac.
Jacob. Joseph. Moses.
Rahab.
Gideon. Barak. Samson.
Jephthah. David. Samuel.
Ruth. David. Jeremiah.
Esther. Joanna. Salome.
Mary. John. Paul. Andrew.
Tabitha. Miriam. Susan.
Julie. Dan. Steve. Mike.
Melissa. Matthew. Ruby.
Laura. Luke. Fred. Alan.
Skye. Blake. Grace. Theresa.
You.
On.
And on.
The never ending story of faith.

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16: Unexpecting

They gather in paradise for a chat.
A strange collection of women.
Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel & Liz.
Two mothers of Sams.
All of them picked to be part of the big plan.
To further the story.
Super mums.
Their boys would be world-changers.
One thing in common.
They couldn’t conceive.

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17: Architect

The bottom line.
The foundation stone.
The rock to cling to when all else fails.
He made it all.
Designed the universe.
Wired us up.
No accident.
Or twist of fate.
No freak of nature.
It’s all his.
The architect’s plans and the deed of covenant.
He holds the lot.

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18: Parable

He is like a car park attendant.
Checks the vehicles in and out.
But more than that.
Makes sure they are not stolen or broken into.
And more than that.
Cleans them while the owners are away.
For free.
He is like no other attendant.
He’ll die protecting those cars.

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19: Thud

She watches him sleep.
He was so tired.
Needs this break.
She stands guard by the door, looking out for enemies.
He’s had a hard day, fought a tough battle.
Only one decision left now.
Should she keep on watching the horizon?
Or split his skull with a tent peg?

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20: Bags

We all go in.
Happily chatting, singing.
Putting on those brave faces.
And we all have our bags with us.
And when the time comes we open them and tip them out.
Wow!
What a mess.
The great, good, bad and ugly.
It’s all in there.
And God of course.

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21: Shades

When it’s good it’s great.
He has a big appetite for it too.
Sings songs about it.
Which may embarrass the woman a little.
But he loves her.
With every bit of him.
And he’ll go down in history for it.
She wishes he’d not made the pomegranate reference though.

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22: Grey

She wakes.
Feels sick.
This has been the hardest time of her life.
The pressure is immense.
Living here is bad enough.
Serving the king.
Pleasing the king.
Now she must lay her life on the line.
And she may die.
But if she doesn’t try, death will come anyway.

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23: Critical

She’s unfair.
He’s difficult.
She’s a loser.
He’s mean.
She’s a gossip.
He’s always picking faults.
Hang on a minute.
Let me just get this speck out of my eye.
It’s messing up my contact lens.
Can’t see straight.
Wow!
That’s not a speck!
How did that get in there?

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24: Danger

A glance.
A smile.
A witty remark.
A little flirting here and there.
Repeat all of the above.
A walk in the park.
Lunch together.
A warm bed on a cold afternoon.
Can’t hurt.
The others don’t know.
They deserve to be happy.
Even if it makes them feel bad.

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25: Covert

Can’t move freely now.
Too much talk, too many spies.
Sleeps in the rough, with a rock for his head.
The valley of the shadow of death is near.
So he’ll speak in code.
Tell of life and freedom in ingenious stories.
Sketch his pictures of hope in the dirt.

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26: Déjà vu

It’s disappointing.
He knew this would happen.
‘Be different,’ he told them.
‘Don’t have a king.
You don’t need one.
Submit to God.
Kings corrupt.’
And now look.
The man he was forced to choose has fallen apart.
So he’s getting déjà vu.
Packing his anointing gear all over again.

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27: Assassin

He sizes up the room.
Cases the joint.
The bad guy sits in a pile in the corner.
A massive mound of sweating flesh.
Nearby there’s a stinking, flyblown latrine.
So – jam his sword in the big guy, prize open his glistening guts.
Out through the sewer.
Job done.

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28: Straight-up

He writes a weekly column
Likes to boast.
Brag about a few things.
All those things he can’t do.
All those mistakes.
Crimes and misdemeanours.
Errors and embarrassments.
All in print, flashing his frailty.
It wins him no friends.
But he wants to fool nobody.
Good things come from heaven.

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29: Dufresne

He has never heard of Andy Dufresne.
Never seen the story of the man who brought hope to prison.
But he does it all the same.
He’s innocent too.
Wonders why he’s behind bars.
But never stops believing.
And through his trust, dreaming and administration, turns the tables on despair.

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30: Purpose

Can there be meaning in this?
Can being lost help him find his way?
Can being blind help him see?
Can the darkness bring him to the light?
Fear, depression, stress.
They cling like mud.
Clog his senses.
He can only look up.
Fix his mind’s eye above and beyond.

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31: Compassion

She must conceal the stains.
The blood seeps through her clothes so easily.
The smell travels in the heat.
People will know.
This beggar is not just poor.
She’s contagious.
The crowd will scatter, fists clasped to mouths.
And she will not get near the man who touches dying people.

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32: Facescroll

If social media had taken off back then.
If the internet had been introduced before 1982.
If computers had been invented before those days in Bletchley Park.
If 33AD had had electricity
A guy blinded on his way to Damascus would have sent fewer letters.
And just Facescrolled the world.

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33: Truth

It costs.
It can set you free.
A currency that doesn’t devalue.
In spite of bombardment by the competing markets of ambition, greed and power.
A man on the edge looks into the eyes of another man and asks,
‘What is truth?’
And the man says two words.
I am.

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34: Heartache

He kneels in the grime, snot, sweat and tears staining his face.
He grabs dirt with his free hand and smears his cheeks.
His other hand is not free because it cradles the head of his daughter.
Death is everywhere. His family is gone.
Life has ambushed him.
It stinks.

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35: Everything

Break out the guitars, rhythm, lead and bass.
The drums, piano and keyboards.
The ukuleles, cellos and violins.
Trumpets, flutes, horns and pipes,
Harmonicas, saxophones, banjos and kazoos.
Sitars, didgeridoos, stylophones and squeezeboxes.
Hunt them down, drag them out, dust them off.
And give the great Divine Musician his due.

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36: Blood

It’s hot.
He has too many clothes.
Weighing him down, making him sweat.
Why did he volunteer?
Well, someone had too.
Can’t work with your coat on.
Not a job like that.
They’re nearly done now.
The sounds fade.
Grunts, cries, cracks and bruising.
Then silence.
And a red stain.

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37: Floating

There’s an almighty splash and four wannabe prophets are soaked.
That’s done it now.
That axe was borrowed.
The boss comes over, strokes his chin, stares at the surface of the water.
He grabs a stick, cuts it down to size.
Raises his eyes to the sky and lobs it.

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 38: Surface

Nothing is what it seems.
Money buys you happiness.
Glamour is greatness.
Fame is worth a fortune.
Sex satisfies.
Pride is power.
Youth is everything.
And age, poverty, humility, faith, kindness, purity and peace.
What are they?
The also-rans.
The fourth division.
The scrapings of the barrel.
Or are they?

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39: AWOL

So that’s that then.
Years of training, and it’s come to this.
Hiring a couple of strangers to do things.
Paying good money to cover for his sons.
This wasn’t the dream.
This wasn’t the reason he spent years training them.
So they could swan off at the last minute.

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40: Madman

Have to do something.
Can’t have him roaming the streets like this.
Looks all wrong.
Gives the family a bad name.
Surround him, badger him, catch him unawares.
Bundle him home, keep him out of the limelight.
For his own good.
If he keeps on like this people’ll crucify him.

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41: Dubious

Believing is seeing.
Watch a miracle, experience the supernatural.
Course you’re going to believe.
The impossible.
He’s seen it happen.
Seen the dead suck air again.
Seen the limping run.
Seen those sick with fear, laughing again.
So why is his mind still kicking around amongst scraps of reasonable unbelief?

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42: Harem

Lotions, paint, perfume, clippers, scissors, brushes, liner, gloss, wigs, eunuchs, extensions.
Bathing, pedicures, massages, facials, tanning, toning, costumes, outfits.
Gossip, envy, bitching, sniping, power-play, rumours, vanity, insecurity, secrets.
Egyptian glamour.
Super State Sensuality.
However.
There are some things you can’t cover up with lipstick and powder.
Fear. Betrayal. Lies.
Marriage.

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43: Refugee

She drops in the dirt.
Today has been hard, harder than expected.
She has a bag of off-cuts.
But she’s never had to do this before.
Will life be like this now?
It’s hard enough staying optimist for both of them.
Another man leers at her.
That’s the other problem.

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44: Lust

He sees her.
He wants her.
Every day the intoxication grows.
She is perfect.
But he cannot have her.
It’s making him sick.
Can’t get her out of his head.
It started as mildly flirtatious, but now the monster is consuming him.
Need to talk.
Offload. Can’t hurt.
Where’s Jonadab?

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45: Unfair

The penny’s dropping.
The prophet can almost hear it fall.
See the effect on his friend’s face.
Watch it pass from head to heart.
That’s right.
You’ve got it.
Rich man steals from a poor man.
Now who might that be?
Whose face in the photo-fit picture?
Kerching!
Gotcha!
Oh.

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46: Three

He paces.
His hands are dirty.
Like his knees and face.
In the distance he sees the market square silhouetted.
Can almost hear the clink of the other two counting their money.
But he doesn’t care.
The world’s unfair.
God’s unfair.
So he’ll just sit it out, thanks.
And complain.

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47: Racing

His mind is racing.
His thoughts chasing each other like greyhounds round a track.
He has to slow down.
Get perspective.
He makes himself stop.
Forces himself to be still.
To know again where he has come from.
Who he is.
There is a God.
And he is not it.

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48: Mixed

She has mixed feelings.
Sometimes going back there reminds her of how good it was.
That short time.
Those few hours which changed her life.
Gave her back dignity and self-respect.
But there’s a wistful sadness too.
That well will always remind her of him.
And that fleeting, perfect afternoon.

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49: Weak

He wakes, a hand on his shoulder.
His head is cloudy from the dreams and visions.
A figure in white stands there.
Smiles.
Another vision hits him.
Olive oil leaking down in flickering candlelight.
The man tells him, ‘God’s power will flow like oil. Your own strength is not enough.’

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50: Strength

The sun is rising.
It’s blisteringly hot.
The forecast was wrong.
Rain was on the way.
Rain and flooding.
Typical summer, they all said.
But not now.
It’s a dry day, and the bricks he has made will soon bake hard for his house.
Now, where to build it?
Choices.

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