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As Time Goes By

This week's challenge from Terrible Minds was labelled as a game of aspects. We were given three columns of prompts: the first, sub-genres, the second, an element to include, and the third, a theme/motif/conflict. We were to pick, at random, one from each column. 

Here were the choices.

Subgenre Element to Include Theme/Motif/Conflict







Sword & Sorcery


Body Horror

Romantic Comedy


Serial Killer



Climate Change

Hotel Bar





Love Triangle




On The Run

Fated To Die

Man Versus Himself



Ticking Clock

I used a random number generator, and ended up with Subgenre - Dystopian, Element to Include - Hotel Bar, and Theme/Motif/Conflict - Ticking Clock.

Here's my story - for Chuck's Terrible Minds, and for Pat, a fan of Casablanca. It's around 700 words, the limit was 1000. BTW - I know I've a popular misquote in here. 

As Time Goes By

The sound of jackboots faded into the distance.

“I'm popping out for a smoke,” said the bartender. “You OK here?”

“Sure Sam,” I said. “I'm in no hurry.”

She slid out behind the bar, then stumbled and swore. “Damn, I keep whacking this box every time I go by it. Wish the Cons would send someone to pick it up.”

“The Cons?” I said.

“Yeah, their victory party is upstairs tonight. This is addressed to there but for some reason got left in my tiny bar instead.”

I went to get up. “Want me to help you move it?”

“No, don't bother,” she said. “Weighs a ton. The delivery guy had to use a handcart. I'll call again after my smoke.”

I watched her walk out, then sipped at my beer. At least we still had that – for all the cutbacks and controls they'd done, the Cons still made sure we had our beer. Made in Canada of course, heavily taxed, and definitely not on the menu if you were in one of their many prisons. The juke box had finished playing and I sat for a while in the emptiness, enjoying the quiet. The victory party,  carefully scripted and planned months before the election by the only party running, obviously hadn't started yet. The street was quiet, with the sound of rain dripped from the eaves. I could hear a clock ticking somewhere in the bar.

Sam came back in, stomping her feet. “Whew, wet night out there. It's like a tomb in here – mind if I put on a tune or two? You seemed to like the last one – didn't know you could sing.”

I smiled. “Sure, play it again Sam.”

The familiar words from long ago floated through the room. I listened for a while, then sang softly,

“It's still the same old story,  
A fight for love and glory 
A case of do or die. 
The world will always welcome lovers 
As time goes by.”

“Nice voice,” said Sam. “And a nice song. Were you in the resistance in the old days?”

“Back then we were called the Official Opposition,” I said. “Voice of the people, grassroots support, full of vision but always a little naive. Gradually, over the years, we all let the Cons whittle away at everything, bit by bit, while they kept talking about stability and security and traditional values, until here the two of us sit, an old fart -- “

“You're not that old, and definitely not a fart” she said. “I'd say a mature and pleasant gentleman.”

I nodded my head and smiled. “I've only been here a few times, but thank you for the perception and the compliment. I was going to say an old fart and a young revolutionary.”

She looked at me warily. “What do you mean? I'm just a young - well, youngish - bar owner, minding my own business.”

“Sneaking out for a smoke?” I said.

“Well, yes, they have been banned for a while, but I was dying for one.”

“All these tunes from the old days on the jukebox?

“I like them,” she said. “I change the mix depending on the crowd, but you seemed OK.”

“TV's all turned off, even though the big victory party is about to start, beamed nationwide by our beloved Conservative Broadcasting Corporation?”

“Cable feed must be out.” She shook her head. “OK, maybe a bit of a rebel at heart, just keep it quiet.”

“No problem,” I said. “It's a relief to talk to someone with a brain of their own. Got any bourbon back there? Let's do a shot.”

I raised my glass to hers and clinked. “Here's looking at you, kid.”

She smiled back. “To Jack.”

The music had stopped again. We just looked at each other. She blinked, then pulled back.

“Wow, too quiet in here for a bar,” she said.

“I know,” I said. “When you were outside I could even here a clock ticking somewhere in here. Old style. Part of your decor?” I looked around.

She paused, then said, “The clock is digital.”

We listened, breath held, heard the ticking and turned to follow it to its source.

As we both stared at the large box, it stopped ticking for a few seconds, then started to buzz.

“Run!” I yelled.







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Good story - great twist.
Got the references and the misquote.


Thx - glad you liked it.

Gary Weller

Nicely done.

Great elements in the entire Casablanca theme. You used enough of them to really put me back into Rick's Cafe after a late night and having a drink and a smoke while the creatures of the night run their errands.

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