100 WORD SKITTLE // The Supermarket Algorithm

Shoebill was clacking her massive beak in Capybara’s face again.

“I. Said. One. Carton. қымыз. You. Are. Stupid. Mammal.”

She was always clacking in Morse code. You know, instead of communicating normally and just saying shit. Normally.

Anyway, Capybara was rather embarrassed now, like any man in the face of tough woman’s logic. Had he not followed her request, step for step? “Can you go down to the store for a carton of қымыз?” she’d clacked. “And if they have coconuts, get four.” So, what was the problem? The store had coconuts, so he’d gotten four cartons of қымыз.


© All rights reserved 2021

ABSURDIS EXTREME // Case Study #571 [01/04/2043] by B.A. Loney

This is the story of three cabbageheads: Cauliflower, Romanesco and Kale.

Cauliflower was the most effeminate of them. Most people had him pegged as being gay, but they were wrong. He simply wasn’t your typical manly man type. He openly enjoyed high teas, cross-stitching and frothy, scented bubble baths with rose petals. Oh, and he liked to wear pink in public.

Romanesco, of course, was the one most prone to flummadiddle. On a whim, he’d visited a couple of lectures about equiangular spirals, Fibonacci and determinism, and made absolutely nothing of it. Nevertheless, he was fearfully proud of his learnings. Also, he loved to wax lyrical about the wonders of nature, naturally identifying himself as one of them.

Kale was the serious one. He was a fan of lukewarm tea, Meccano, and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He also owned the world’s largest collection of abacuses which he dusted daily. He would never smile, preferring to nod slightly whenever something pleased him—which wasn’t often. He also slept on a wooden slab because mattresses were too soft and would always mess with his back.

So, as you can see, they were vivid persons; each in their own way. Maybe they weren’t the best persons in the world but they’d sinned in good company at least. But now to the main question. A question of cabbage salad.

Firstly, what is cabbage salad? Is it a salad made purely of cabbage? Does there need to be more than one cabbage involved or can it just be the best bits of the one cabbage? Can other salady things such as corn and tomato slices be included? Can the cabbage salad be nude or does it need dressing?

Secondly, is cabbage salad better than other kinds of salad? Is it more regal than, say, Caesar salad? Is it more worthwhile eating than fruit or bean salad? Is it superior to potato salad because it can be eaten during even a famine? If only the scientists had known.

Speaking of such, science is the study of observed phenomena. While we were preparing this scientific content, a very irresponsible goat came along and gobbled up our central subjects of study, Cauliflower, Romanesco and Kale. So, we’ll need to stop the experiment here and make another trip to the supermarket.

© All rights reserved 2021

GUEST POST // The Mural by Mark Renney


illustration by Christine Renney

Edward visited the supermarket at least two or three times a day and sometimes as often as five times. It was a habit he had acquired quite unintentionally and it had been gradual. But since losing his job he had started walking to the store on the other side of town. And frequently he found himself compelled to buy only what he needed or whatever it was he wanted at that particular moment in time. If this was an apple and a banana, he would just buy those, one of each and carry them home. And later, when he needed a drink and found himself wanting for a Coke or Fanta, then he would simply go back.

Edward had time on his hands and his days now lacked structure and form and walking to the supermarket was something at least.

In order to reach the store he was forced to make his way alongside a lengthy stretch of the busy dual-carriageway that divided the town. Edward followed the curb, barely raising his head until he had reached the underpass.

In the basin beneath the road the walls were covered in graffiti. The work of many hands, a mix of tags and styles. Some of it had been scrawled quickly and was crude and naïve. But most of it was intricate and carefully planned and was obviously the work of artists who had nurtured and honed their skills elsewhere. And now it was all connected, like a mural and for Edward the message was not I WOZ ‘ERE but WE ARE HERE. But it was fading and down there in the half light, unless you stopped and really looked, much of it was already lost.

Edward lingered scanning the walls, searching for something he might have missed or even something new. Evidence that one of the artists had returned and was still working on it, keeping it alive. But, always disappointed, he made his way up and back into the light.

The housing estate on the other side of the underpass was big. At first, to Edward, it had seemed impenetrable but somehow he had managed to find his way and after all the months of to-ing and fro-ing he, and it, were intimate. He knew every inch of it, every path and all the shortcuts.

Crossing the courtyards and the communal area (the places where people were supposed to gather) Edward was always surprised, even shocked, by how quiet it was. The estate had an air of abandonment, as if everyone had simply left, deserted their homes. On a whim perhaps, or in fear, like something that might happen in one of those old black and white science fiction films or an episode or the Twilight Zone.

Edward imagined that behind the doors and the windows of the houses and the flats the tables were set. The food laid out but uneaten and untouched. That televisions and radios were still playing but no-one was watching and no-one was listening. And if a telephone were to ring in one of the public call boxes only he would or could answer it. But then suddenly he would stumble upon a group of youngsters, hanging around on a corner, or a dog walker crossing his path, and Edward’s daydreams would be interrupted.

Edward visited the supermarket at least five or six times a day and sometimes as often as eight times. He stalked the aisles and scoured the shelves. He didn’t carry a list and was determined not to have any pre-conceived ideas about what he might buy. But this proved difficult, impossible in fact. If, for instance, Edward needed to wash his clothes and discovered he didn’t have washing powder then of course this item was lodged in his head. And so to suggest that no pre-planning was involved would be misleading.

How could he not notice when the soap was nearly done or if the coffee jar was almost empty, likewise, the sugar bowl and the salt and the pepper and the milk. But Edward searched for the smallest available items, whether it be can or carton, box or bottle. He ignored the special offers, the ‘buy one get one FREE’ and the ‘buy one get one HALF-PRICE’ deals. He sought out the single sachets and the tiniest tins and, if he could, Edward would have reduced it even more. A spoonful of coffee and a splash of milk and a cup of water.

And not just the shopping but everything, all of it, just one tiny little step and then another but only as and when he needed to take it, as and when he wanted it.

© All rights reserved 2015