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A Streetlight Story by A Panos A very depressing story. Don't judge it by that though. The ending is up for interpretation... [2,216 words]
The Small Black Object by Michael G Barbieri A soldier in a battle fatally wounds an enemy, only to realize the family his opponent l... [1,256 words]
Wine And Owls by Zdravka Evtimova A woman is left by the person she loves. her reaction to that. [2,804 words]
We Attack At Dawn! by Gregory J Christiano Toward the end of WWII, an army platoon encouters German resistance. [1,391 words]
The Wars Of Belfast Part 1. by Sasu A story about a city searching for hope through war, based in the late eighties. Co... [1,221 words]
The Final Statement. by Bradley Grimes A man about to be executed makes his final statement. [1,221 words]
The Braided Belt by Michael Lowell A man learns about love and its loss one summer. [501 words]
Stranger Underneath by Keivn Luk Have you ever heard the sound of heavy breathing? Imagine it, the noise of someone or somet... [1,123 words]
Shadow Walker by Albert Davis This is a short story for the warrior in you or anyone, the mentality needed to be a destroyer an... [837 words]
Scenes From A Memory by Michael Armstrong Stefan Kaufmann reflects on his past. [1,064 words]
Nunnada'utsun't'yi - The Trail Place Where They Cried by Desi Williams It is about a white girl and her father during the 1800s ... [1,675 words]
Nothing But Touch by Rae Haven't had inspiration lately, so I picked ten random words and wrote around them. [239 words]
Melanchony by Vodka Ryuki Mint The title says it all. [620 words]
Lottery Ticket by Kid Mercury A man goes on a quest in search of the unthinkable: a hot date. [2,658 words]
Life Is Full Of Virtues by Brodie J Hughes Read the title again. [226 words]
His Wings by Vodka Ryuki Mint I've always dreamed of this scene, don't know why, somehow it gives me an indescribable feeling. not ... [553 words]
Here Today, Gone Fishing Pt.1 by Sullivan Of The Sea A little after-drug-deal excitement. [1,105 words]
Fixing A Broken Heart. by Keivn Luk What you seek is hidden in the shadows. [234 words]
First Meeting by Charity B Baez Erotic tale of a man and woman who met online, and are meeting face to face for the first time. [2,501 words]
Fading Away With The Rain by Desi Williams I wrote it based on the cover of "Fallen" by Evanescence. [137 words]
Fade Away by Vodka Ryuki Mint About a father and a son. [650 words]
Drop Dead Gorgeous by James C Bernthal A very light-hearted horror short. [875 words]
Discovering Truth by Kelley Rose This is a story about a girl who tries to find the truth about her sister's death. [5,089 words]
Anthropomorphia by Jeff Hunt A short story about people and animals. [1,754 words]
And You Thought Today Was Going To Be A Good Day by Michael Spiegel A day in the life of a very strange indvidual, written in 1st ... [4,840 words]
... And She Would Tell Her Story by Animesh Kar A fairy tale with a twist! [1,915 words]
Alexander Khri'pher by Draco Streaver As a young child, a Bengal tegal looses his father/mentor in a battle to save their village... [26,332 words]
A Soul Sold For Ten Seconds Of Heaven by Lithium - [479 words]
A One Night Stand by Animesh Kar A young single working lady and a piece of her mind. [4,101 words]
10:34 by Danielle You describe it. [276 words]
The Teen Girl Suicide Story by Riot This is satire. Keep that in mind. [575 words]
The Sob Story by Riot Alchohol does not equate responsibility. [1,116 words]
Walking The Road by Keivn Luk Two strangers, with no recollection on how they got there meet each other in a strange place w... [2,166 words]
Unexplained by Trax A man and his dog go on a walk they will never forget.... [430 words]
Undefined by Josh Anderson What do you tell yourself when you don't know the answer? [408 words]
The Way Life Is... by Vanessa Moya - [285 words]
The Radical. by Amit Shankar Saha - [589 words]
The Lady And The Train by Michelle Lynn Clements A tragic short story about a woman running away from her husband and troublesome daughte... [1,980 words]
The Closing Of The Eyes by Steve Deutsch A man has to overcome his fear and destroy a part of his life. My first real descriptiv... [1,175 words]
The Assassin by Susan Brassfield Cogan What lurks in the chill of the night? [440 words]
Sue Aside by Andy Kim May not be suitable for children. [255 words]
Step Three by Steve Deutsch A boy sets up his camera and wants to tell his story. This is the beggining. [657 words]
Slipping Away From Me by Josh Anderson The 7th part of Serra's swamp, suspense filled, and back on track… I hope. Theres another... [1,145 words]
Self Defense by Naya Renee A'Janae is a young mother caught in a relationship she can't seem to get herself out of. Determine... [5,202 words]
Q by Don F Vaccarino A story about the man who created James Bonds "toys" when he was in high school. [18,783 words]
Project Chyooryooku Akiraka by Josh Anderson Sci-Fi, about how the world has a Chi and how the people who inhabbit it are linked... [1,157 words]
On Her Way Home by Bancy Mwihaki A partly romance and partly drama short story about a young lady and her oddyssey in conjugal l... [2,785 words]
Of Bikes And Boys by Ali Rizvi A tragic memoire of a young character that reveals a story of loss of innocence. [1,965 words]
Nothing Here by Ally K - [2 words]
Not Without My Future by Steve Deutsch A group of boys pertake on their weekly tradition of figuring out what to do next in thei... [926 words]
Much To Do About Nothing
Mexican Soul by Steve Deutsch Elementary students enjoy their favorite part of the day--lunchtime. However, today is extra speci... [1,074 words]
John Nikolaus by Tim Gorichanaz The story of John Nikolaus's journey from Croatia to America in the early 1900's. [1,589 words]
Jessie's Friend by Mike McWade A strange visitor warns Jessie of impending danger. [2,370 words]
Hunter by Hayden Woods Story about a female werewolf... [1,833 words]
Homeland Ssecurity by Firsttime Story When the moment comes that people realize that government can only give its citizens what it... [19,563 words]
Hi by Gary R Hoffman This is a true story of a dog my family once owned. [1,444 words]
Fine Weather For Ducks by Josh Anderson Love Short Story in poetry form. Inspired by the meeting of a friend of mine, I had a re... [1,683 words]
Empire Park by Aaron Er Lozier Carl finds himself lost in "Empire Park" late one night, chased by a glinty-eyed monster, and assau... [588 words]
Effects by Kevin Costello EFFECTS is an existential story which delves into the psyche of a college professor who just lost his w... [4,079 words]
Behind These Eyes by Vanessa Moya - [884 words]

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Much To Do About Nothing
A short story.
[1,496 words]
Science Fiction
Armand Waksberg
[January 2007]
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The Genome Paradox (Short Stories) A short story: What else is hidden in the Genome Code? [9,721 words] [Science Fiction]
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Much To Do About Nothing
Armand Waksberg

It was Sunday evening at 8 PM- The Press conference was about to commence- Most TV networks had canceled their regular programming to transmit this special event that was anticipated by many viewers - What was all that fuss all about?

Well, it all started a few months back, on a nice spring Sunday afternoon when a tall man, rather wiry, standing on a corner of Time Square, was offering small colorful balloons attached to a string to all kids who wanted them until he ran. What was different about these balloons is that they were small, about four inches in diameter, felt hard to the touch and yet would float like helium balloons. It would not take long for the lucky kids who managed to get them to become fascinated by these new toys. They boasted in front of all their envious friends and the news spread like wild fire to other kids throughout the city. Having these balloons became the pride of the owners. Since nobody knew the source and there was no new supply, the kids started to trade them at an ever increasing price. Kids being kids started to steal or fight over them. They found out, to their chagrin, that bumping them hard by accident, resulted in their being smashed into thousands of pieces somewhat like glass but without the sharp edges. There would go their investments. Quickly they learned to take good care of them.

A few weeks later, the same man appeared out of nowhere, without warning, in the Boston Common, but this time he sold the balloons for a nominal price and then disappeared from sight as soon as his limited supply was gone. This occurred a number of times in different cities without any pre-warning, so that very quickly, all the newspapers of the nation had an amusing byline discussing those mysterious balloons, as well as the elusive man behind them. They even attempted to guess his next appearance. Without any other explanation, a rumor quickly developed that these balloons were pushed up by a new antigravity gas.

Obviously, these balloons became the concern of a number of parents. Not knowing what they were made of and the fact that they could break easily sounded warning bells as to the possible harmful effect to their kids.

Some of these balloons were handed over by parents to scientists who, like everyone else, were intrigued by their characteristics. They were asked many questions by the public such as, were they dangerous to kids, how did they work, and so on...

In order to answer these questions and to satisfy their own curiosity, scientists carried out a large number of tests on the very limited supply they had. They weighted them, measured their upward force and performed the many other tests that could be done without destroying them. Then, they sacrificed one and broke it down to do further tests, such as physical and chemical analysis of the gas inside as well as that of the material of the balloon itself...

They could answer only a very limited number of questions: The gas inside could not be identified, the broken pieces did not have antigravity properties. The material, however, was particularly hard and extremely light but was also unidentifiable.

These answers posed more questions than they answered- many articles in newspapers and scientific magazine allowed themselves to speculate on many aspects of these intriguing balloons. For example, could it be that the antigravity properties could only be exhibited on whole balloons- and as soon as they were broken, that property would disappear; or had the gas inside antigravity property; or was it the combination of the gas and the inside wall of the balloon that would produce this miraculous property?

As time went on, more and more people got into the act- especially venture capitalists who would see many fantastic commercial applications for these balloons, such a floating vehicles, weight reducing device, etc... They could not wait to form new companies in association with the inventor. The big question was still where and who was He? He had not appeared anywhere for the last few months.

A search was undertaken by government agencies, including the FBI and CIA, the military who did not want that such a fantastic invention should fall into the hands of an enemy, venture capitalists, toy makers, journalists and so on; all this to no avail.

Finally a newspaper with more initiative offered a huge reward if the inventor would contact one of their journalists. That last strategy paid off for the journal quickly announced that contact had been made with the elusive inventor and that he had promised to reveal himself and his invention. The journal would obviously have exclusive rights to his story.

After hard negotiations, the eccentric inventor was finally convinced to divulge his secret. He finally agreed, but only under the following conditions:

1)The divulgation would be done in the form of a press conference

2) Only journalists could attend and could ask questions. He would select at random a journalist
for each question.

3) Only five questions could be asked and would be answered.

4) None of the questions should be so specific as to divulge trade secrets that would jeopardize
                   patent applications or his future business.

5) Finally, he would be given five million dollars for submitting to this press conference.

That last condition was the easiest to satisfy as TV network were ready to pool their resources to provide the money. The first condition was obviously acceptable. The second condition coupled to the third and forth were more problematic. Of course journalist could be helped by scientists to formulate the questions, but in the press room only journalists could readjust the subsequent questions based on the previous answers. Also, if the questions were interpreted by the inventor at his own discretion as too specific, they would lose one question.

In spite of the very stringent limitations imposed by these conditions, the opportunity was there to satisfy the curiosity of so many people not to mention the ratings that would be provided for the media. Those conditions were accepted although reluctantly.

In less than a month the big event was organized. The actual day chosen was on a Sunday evening at eight, obviously to fit prime time TV. The room was filled to capacity with journalists from all over the world.

That evening, after the usual advertisement, a build up from the commentator, a brief introduction and a welcome to the inventor, the floor was opened for questions. Hands were raised and the inventor picked a man for the first question which was:

“Why are the balloons climbing?” The question was too obvious but had to be asked.

“Well they are obviously lighter than air an therefore rise like a cork in water.”

A woman reporter was then chosen, she asked, “Is the material made up of antigravity matter which seems to lose that property when shattered?

He replied, “A definite no. Next question from the man with the curly hair”

“Is there a new type of gas lighter than helium or hydrogen or with anti-gravity properties?”

“No. Question four from the woman over there”

“What makes them go up then?”

“I told you the weight of the displaced volume of air is greater than the total weight of the balloon. The difference in weight is the force that makes it go up; in fact it uses the same principle as an ordinary helium balloon.”

Many hands were raised for the last and final question.

        The inventor chose a man way in the back of the room. “Well how come physicists and chemists could not detect any gas in the balloons since you said yourself that they are like helium balloons?”

He replied excitedly, “ That is because there is NO gas inside the balloon. The big difference between an ordinary balloon and this one is that in the former, its inflated shape is provided by the helium under pressure which is pushing against the skin of the balloon and the pressure of the atmosphere. In this case, the material making up the skin of the balloon is extremely strong for its weight and thus can maintain its shape against the pressure of the atmosphere trying to collapse it. No inside gas is required, therefore reducing the total weight of the balloon.” The last journalist, very frustrated, continued without permission.

“You mean to say the secret lies in the strength of the very light material, not on a magic gas and, in fact, there is NOTHING inside the balloon?”

He answered condescendingly, with a smile, “This question makes it more than five, but I will answer it anyway- YES you are right”

At this point the inventor left the press room without further comments, having fulfilled his commitment.

The next day the headlines of a national newspaper could be read as:



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© 2005 Armand Waksberg
January 2005

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