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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Game of Life (09/11/08)

TITLE: Oob Darnok's Low-Luck Day
By Jan Ackerson


Oob Darnok played nervously with his breakfast, watching the Slot on the wall. Any minute now, today’s card would be expelled with a gentle whoosh and he’d find out the fate of his new novel.

He fiddled with his silverware, then took a sip of coffee—just as the Slot activated. Oob jumped, splashing his last clean shirt. He pulled the card out and read it with his heartbeat strong in his throat:


Intelligence—5! Oob felt smarter already. Yesterday’s intelligence number had only been 3, and Oob had struggled to accomplish the most mundane chores. But his joy at receiving a high-intelligence number was diminished by the 1’s on his card: he had an important meeting with his publisher today, and could really have used a 5 in luck.

With trembling arms, Oob managed to exchange his coffee-stained shirt for yesterday’s slightly-worn one, cursing as a button popped off and rolled under a chair. He glanced at the clock—late already, and he hadn’t taken out the trash.

Oob looked again at his card; maybe he’d mis-read the numbers. He scoffed at LOVE—0; his love number had been 0 for months. Women usually pitied him—Oob Darnok, marginally successful author--bald, paunchy, myopic. But the bad numbers were still there: only 1s, despite Oob’s wishing them otherwise.

While planning a brilliant speech to plug his new book to his publisher, he bagged the trash and carried it outside with sticky fingers. As he hoisted the bag, a large bird dropped a deposit on Oob’s bald spot. Sighing, he wiped his fingers on his trousers and trudged heavily to the bus stop.

As Oob panted slightly on his bus seat, he felt slightly encouraged—apparently, most of the riders were having low-luck days, too. The woman to his left was wearing mismatched shoes. The man sharing his seat had forgotten his pants altogether. Oob smiled and rehearsed his speech.

At the first stop, the Card Slot at the front of the bus signaled three “beeps”—someone was getting a Bonus Card. Against all hope, Oob wished desperately for the card to be his. All eyes were on the Slot as the card shot forth. The driver caught it deftly and called out the name on its front: Thone Erbly. At the sound of his name, the pants-less man jumped up and took the card, then read it aloud with a grin.


With a pang of jealousy, Oob watched as Thone exited and approached a beautiful woman, who handed him a pair of slacks. She gestured him into a waiting luxury car. Oob sighed.

Several stops later, Oob dragged himself into his publisher’s office. Mag Lukis sat at a table with half a dozen cohorts, Oob’s manuscript parceled out amongst them. The men were all speaking animatedly when Oob stumbled into the room, tripping over nothing. Mag stood and greeted Oob with unusual heartiness.

“Oob! Come in, come in!” But just as Oob took a step toward the table, a Slot whooshed and a card fell at his feet. He picked it up; his name was on the front. Turning it over, Oob read:


Hanging his head, Oob flashed the card at the executives, who murmured condolences. Oob found the Penalty Niche at the far wall and slouched into its seat, knowing that he’d be constrained for fifteen minutes. While soft restraints covered his wrists and ankles, a secretary entered the room carrying delicious treats, and a parade of masseuses rubbed the necks and shoulders of the lucky men.

Finally the masseuses left—just watching them, Oob felt his neck muscles tightening—and the restraints fell from his arms and legs. He leapt up and eagerly approached his publisher.

“Well?” said Oob, forgetting his prepared speech, “have you read the manuscript? Do you like it? Do we have a deal?”

Mag cleared his throat. “Well, Oob, this just isn’t up to your usual standard. I don’t think there’s an audience…I mean, a world where a benevolent Supreme Being cares about the lives of the people? A world he decides to visit, and actually participate in for a while? Oob, Oob—everyone knows fantasy doesn’t sell, and there’s nothing in life but The Game. Nice imagination, buddy, but we’re going to have to pass.”

Behind Oob’s head, a card Slot quietly whooshed.

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This article has been read 1295 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld09/18/08
What a whirlwind of creativity! So sad that so many in our own world view the living God as fantasy.
Deborah Engle 09/18/08
Totally creative and interesting read.
Marijo Phelps09/19/08
Makes me SO thankful for my Lord! Very fun and insightful look at things through the eyes of those who have no home. I enjoyed coming along.
Shelley Ledfors 09/21/08
I like this! Very creative and cute. It's so sad that there are a lot of people like the editor; they look on the Truth as a fantasy, and see their own little version of "the game" as truth.
Chely Roach09/21/08
Wowzers...how mind boggling creative! Loved the guy with no pants, lol, and although I liked the ambiguous ending, I WANT TO KNOW what the card said!Excellent!
Dee Yoder 09/21/08
With his luck, I just know that card is not gonna be good! Creative and fun to read...poor Oob,I have days where I can totally identify with him. (I like the way you slip the message of God's love for the world in there.)
Yvonne Blake 09/21/08
SMILE...love your names. How do you think of them? This is closer to reality than we like to think. Well done!
Karen Wilber09/21/08
Love the irony in this. I give it a 5 for intelligence. Poor Oob.
Kristen Hester09/21/08
I have come to expect nothing less than creative, well-written, out-of-the-box entries. You delivered once more! This is great on topic. I was thinking he was inside some video game and was sad it was his "real" life. Wow. This really made me think...and be thankful for God's love! Excellent!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/21/08
Your creativity is worthy only of being "best." I couldn't wait to see where you were going with this.
You've demonstrated "irony" perfectly. A wonderful story!
Karlene Jacobsen09/21/08
Clever. I like the names. They are quite inventive.
Scott Sheets09/22/08
I love the ironic twists in the end like "everyone knows fantasy doesn't sell."
The first paragraph through me a bit, because I was thinking it was a mail slot and he was receiving an editor's reply to a submitted writing. But I quickly caught on and enjoyed the great creativity. Excellent entry!
Leah Nichols 09/23/08
Very creative! I had a feeling it was you....just the kind of fun you'd pop out of your imagination! :)
Gerald Shuler 09/24/08
Whoosh... all 5's for this one. Oob is the perfect person help us understand the truth. That last card could easily lead into an entire sci-fi/fantasy book.
Kristi Peifer09/24/08
Fascinating! I loved this! I agree, this could be a great full-scale book...
LauraLee Shaw09/24/08
Oh my, I am boggled by your brilliance. Wowzer.
Valarie Sullivan09/24/08
Outer Limits! That's just what I was thinking when I was reading this. Great job, very insightful and unique. Loved it!
Joshua Janoski09/24/08
What truth you spoke here! People think that God is a "fantasy" character. They will fall in love with elves and wizards, but when it comes to God, they want no part of Him, even though He is 100% real and can change their lives in better ways than any imaginary Gandalf or Legolas can.

There are many other things I like about this piece too. I felt like I had the stats of your MC when he drew the first card. Intelligence 5 but love with the ladies a big fat 0. LOL. Good one as always, Jan. :)
Lori Othouse 09/25/08
This is excellent!! I love how the characters just play along, as though helpless. Don't we all do that sometimes? This story speaks volumes and was superbly told!
Judy Meyers09/25/08
You are so inspiring. I love to read your stories.
Pamela Kliewer09/25/08
What a great take on the topic. I love this! Congratulations on you EC. :)