Forty-Minute Story: Rimshot

Ben Trube’s writing challenge: Write a story in which two characters are having a conversation in a public place, and a stranger cuts in. Or conversely, write a story in which your character cuts in on a conversation between two strangers.

Quark polished a glass. “So I told him, look, Julian, the holosuite programs come on a strictly as-is basis, no refunds. You want to fight the Battle of Hastings, great, that’s exactly what you get. Not my fault if you can’t understand what anybody’s saying.”

“Mmm.” Odo surveyed the bar.

“Now the chief’s recalibrating the Universal Translator to handle Old English. I said, you’re kidding! You can talk to any alien in the quadrant, but you can’t speak your own language? Even if it is a little out of date. Not that I mind, you understand. The suite hasn’t seen this much use since Worf discovered chess boxing.”

“I see.”

“Odo, you’re looking even more sour than usual. Personally, I’m impressed. Tell me what’s bothering you.”

Odo studied him. “Why should I?”

“Because I’m your friend! That’s what friends do. Besides, I can help.”


“You forgot Kira’s birthday, didn’t you?”

The constable’s eyes shot open wide. “How did you – ”

“It was yesterday, and today you’re moping. The clues were obvious.”

“I’m not moping. Anyway, why do you know the Major’s birthday?”

“The Major? Is that what you call her on your long starlit walks down the Promenade? No wonder you’re in trouble.”

“We’re in space, Quark. Every walk is a starlit walk. And I’m not in trouble. Not exactly.”

“You’re not? What did she say?”

“She said – ” Odo looked around and lowered his voice as if imparting Federation secrets. “She said it was fine. She said birthdays are silly.”


“But she hasn’t said anything else since then.”

“Ah. I knew it. Odo, the answer is simple. All you need to do is – ”

“Pardon me, gentlemen.” The interloper wore a dapper suit with tie and trench coat. Dress and accent suggested early 21st-century England, with a touch of…something. Schizophrenia, perhaps? “I couldn’t help overhearing. You’re having lady problems, and I happen to be something of an expert. May I offer my assistance?”

Odo scowled. “And you are?”

“The Doctor, of course. Listen – Odo, was it? You’re made out of fluid? I mean, aren’t we all, but it’s a bit more fluidy in your case, isn’t it?” The Doctor’s lip curled as he looked him up and down. “Turn into any shape in the galaxy, can you?”

“That’s more or less what shape shifters do,” Odo said dryly. “Do I know you?”

“Doubtful! But listen, Constable, the solution is obvious. Here’s what you want to do. Transform into a loaf of bread. Get on a shuttle. Actually, get on the shuttle first, then turn into bread. The key thing is that you’re bread. Follow? Now, launch yourself into the corona of the Bajoran sun.”

“And why,” said Odo, “would I do anything as idiotic as that?”

“Because you, my friend, are toast.” The Doctor clapped him on the shoulder. “Cheers!”

3 responses to “Forty-Minute Story: Rimshot

  1. Reblogged this on [BTW] : Ben Trube, Writer and commented:
    Here’s a story Brian wrote for last week’s writing prompt “Excuse me”. If you’re still interested and want to send me your story, I’d love to read it! Enjoy!

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