The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World, Part 1

Strong coffeeAbout 2 months ago I wrote a blog post explaining how I want to write fun short stories (preferably silly or comedic in some way) based on ideas that you, my readers, come up with and pass on to me. Not because I’m lazy – I always have a million ideas buzzing around (which actually gets annoying sometimes) – but because I think it could be a fun new way to interact with my readers and also actually get back to creating more on this blog (which does, to be fair, have the word “creation” in its title). Anyway, if you haven’t seen that blog post, or would like to suggest an idea or want to see the sorts of ideas I’ve received already, have a look here.

The first story I’m going to write is based on a suggestion by CricketMuse, another writer/reader/blogger/teacher who has been blogging at least as long as I have and who has managed to retain far more focus than I ever could. This blog is a must for anybody interested in books, writing, and well just words pretty much!

The story suggestion is: “Suppose aliens swoop in with a coffeebean emp– how will the world cope being caffeine free?” As a coffee drinker, this idea terrifies me. Let’s see what this terrible imagination of mine does to this perfectly great idea (sorry in advance)! This will be in at least two parts but maybe three (just to break it up for you readers (okay, fine, to break it up for me too))!

The Horrific Tale of The Decaffeinated World

Part 1

by the considerably caffeinated Matt Watson

I stared out the window motionlessly as the morning cup whirled down my throat and into my body in a desperate yet routine attempt to bring me back to life enough to drive to work and pretend to be a normal person, just like everybody else pretends to be. We all have that drug of choice to help us achieve this – for some it’s smoking, others it’s alcohol, for some weird people it’s something even vaguely healthy like tea or juice or even water. But for a large amount of us, all around the world, it’s coffee that enables us to feign functionality in a world that is set to drain us until we are nothing left but a mechanical husk of what we once were. It was coffee that had provided me with a means of being an adult for the last twenty years.

My hand moved, without thought, to lift up my coffee cup to my mouth, only something was wrong. I nearly threw the mug into the roof with its lack of weight that I was clearly not prepared for, but being quite sure I had not gained any superpowers in the previous moments of contemplation and window-staring I found myself surprised at the possibility that I had already consumed all my coffee. I looked into the mug only to see desolation and crushed hopes.

I put the mug back down and rubbed my eyes. “It’s too early for magic tricks,” I mumbled to anybody who would listen.

“What magic tricks?” she retorted from the other room.

“My coffee is gone but I swear I didn’t drink it.”

“Oh darling…you just need another coffee. Make yourself another one.”

She was right. Of course she was right. She always was. I had accepted that a long time ago – I think it was in the marriage contract or something. I stood up after a couple of attempts and reached into the cupboard for the coffee, but again the coffee jar was not as heavy as I had been sure it was only moments earlier. I looked at it in my hands – completely empty, not even the coffee dust on the sides. It looked like as if somebody had cleaned it. But…nobody had been in the room since I last looked at it a few minutes ago. I put the jar backed and checked the cupboard properly. Then I checked the entire kitchen.

“Are you okay in there?” The noise had intrigued her, but not enough to actually come and see what was going on.

“Erm…yeah. The coffee has just…disappeared.”

“Well maybe you ran out, dear. Get one on your way to work or something.”

“Yes…yes that’s a good idea. Of course.”

I finished getting ready, with only a few sips of coffee struggling to keep me conscious I was quite certain. I felt like I was losing my mind, which was something that usually required more than ten coffees to occur, not just a few sips. But maybe I hadn’t slept well. I had no reason to worry about it just yet.

No, the moment when I felt I was more justified in my all-out-panic was when I pulled out of the fifth consecutive fast food drive-through window without a coffee. All of them, much to their own surprise, had been entirely depleted of their coffee stocks in what seemed to be the first time ever. I drove to a nearby supermarket, but the same thing had happened there. After two more stores that yielded the same impossible results, I drove to work with a sudden fondness for armageddon.

At the office, it turned out, we had also run out of coffee. I don’t want to sound melodramatic or anything, but I am quite certain I fell to my knees and screamed “nooo” at the top of my lungs for a few seconds before rolling over into the foetal position.

***

Meanwhile…

“So like…do they talk or what?” The long, bony, surprisingly ungreen (it was more a light pink) finger of the alien known as Boll poked one of the dormant beans.

“Don’t touch it you idiot! We still don’t fully understand them yet.”

“Oh, sorry Boss.” Boll stood up properly after being reprimanded by the creature he called Boss, but who was otherwise known as Ocks. Ocks was elected boss not by any sort of mental or emotional aptitude he possessed or had displayed, but because of the fact he was only 97 centimetres in height. As Boll stood at an appallingly tall 189 centimetres, his career prospects looked pretty dim. Such was the way of life for the Floating Nobulas, a curious nomadic people of unknown origins who travelled around the galaxies causing minor mischief normally by accident.

“And yes, apparently they do talk. They are alive after all.”

“But some of those human people said that most living things on Earth don’t talk, that only they do.”

“Yes, Boll, but just because some human told you that you’re going to believe it? Trust me, they’re not the brightest pack down there. These beans can talk,” and Ocks paused to look, no, stare, at the coffee beans, before pointedly asking “can’t they?”

The silence was mostly humiliating. They had come a long way to pick up these beans, to save them from the evil humans who kept grounding them up. They had agreed not to mess with the human affairs other than to remove all coffee beans and place them onto the several hundred ships that waited patiently outside the solar system in which the Earth existed. They already had a few issues to solve, such as where they would actually put these beans in the long term, but this silence was not assisting the situation.

Running out of ideas, Ocks finally played his blackmail card. “Fine, if you don’t talk, I’ll just send you back to Earth and you know what ha-“

But Ocks didn’t need to finish his sentence, as thousands of tiny eyes sprung open. One tiny bean finally hopped forward and bowed politely. “I apologise…we do not know how to handle such kindness as that which you have poured upon us.”

“Yes,” started another bean, “usually we just have boiling water poured upon us.”

“Sh!” The apparent leader of the beans didn’t want to give the aliens any ideas. “We are at your service, so long as you spare our lives.”

Ocks and Boll looked at each other, before Boll exclaimed “Awesome! We have a tiny army!”

Boll’s gigantic and quite hideous grin quickly disappeared with a knock to the top of the head from Ocks. “We have plans to make.”

***

By lunchtime, it had been declared on the world news that coffee no longer existed. It had completely disappeared, not just the stuff in the shops but also the actual plants themselves. It was as if the human race had been hallucinating the stuff, the entire concept, for the last few centuries. Except that when they checked books about it, it was still in there. There were still websites dedicated to it, there were still bad bumper stickers on the backs of cars referring to it, there were still shops and cafés whose business depended on it even if those shops and cafés suddenly looked like victims of a really huge theft (which, to be fair, they were).

It was declared an international emergency. Wars were temporarily brought to a ceasefire, political squabbles were put aside, natural disasters politely asked to take a hike for a short while. The 7 billion inhabitants of the planet needed to put their minds together to find a solution. Which would have been a great idea if it wasn’t for the withdrawal headaches from which large amounts of the human race were beginning to suffer.

However, despite my headache, even though I was emotionally volatile, I realised that this was my moment to shine! This was when I would become a hero, the hero that saved the world’s coffee supply! Today, I would be the biggest single cure for a headache ever! Because while the planet searched itself for something it no longer possessed, I turned my eyes to somewhere entirely different…

To Be Continued….

Camp NaNoWriMo, done in 12 days!

As you might know, I attempted to do Camp NaNoWriMo this month even though I’d be away camping for half of the month (camping while camp is on, hmmm). Somehow, despite knowing the obvious stupidity of it, I didn’t write every single day I was at home, either. As a result, this happened:

Camp NaNo July Graph

 

You can quite clearly see in the graph above the half of the month I went camping. Then I attempted a desperate comeback towards the end of the month, before deciding I couldn’t be bothered doing it every day. So, at just under 19000 words, I waited until today to finish it in one day, forcing out 11350 words of utterly rubbish short stories in order to reach my goal. BUT I DID IT!

I am now exhausted and feel like I need to sleep for a day, but it’s nice to know I still have it in me to write a crazy amount like that in one day when I have to.

After I’ve rested a bit, I’ll get on with all these other blog posts I’ve been wanting to write for ages! For anybody out there still working on their Camp NaNoWriMo projects, good luck with getting them finished. And if it feels hopeless, just look at my graph – hopefully that’ll serve as a reminder that anything is possible with enough coffee and crazy (I had 8 cups this morning, just so you know).

A new villanelle and the end of NaPoWriMo

Well, it’s official – on the last morning of April I have finished NaPoWriMo – I have written 30 poems in 30 days (in reality in about 15 days but anyway), and so I can now tick off both writing challenges for the month (the other being Camp NaNoWriMo which I talked about here).

I find I learn a lot about myself writing poetry this way. I’m not the sort of person who spends hours on each and every poem. Some poems come to me in minutes. Some of my poems also suck, but some are kind of okay and sometimes the okay ones can be the quick ones too. I definitely think being in Sweden has affected my poetry this time around, with many of them revolving around the seasons (and hence being haiku), in particular Winter and Spring. But some of the themes I have touched upon in my poems have come from who knows where.

Anyway, I only wrote one villanelle this month, but they are my favourite kind of poem so I figured I’d share it. If you want to read about how villanelles work (and some better examples of the form), I wrote about it a couple of years ago in this post here, otherwise read on to see my latest villanelle:

Strong coffeeYou take your coffee extra strong tonight
It’s been a long and lonely day
But you’re going to come through alright

You look exhausted, a terrible sight
You’re unsure how long you’ll stay
So you take your coffee extra strong tonight

Because you don’t want to sleep this night
You have only just run away
But you’re going to come through alright

It took so long for you to see the light
To realise you shouldn’t exist that way
That’s why you take strong coffee tonight

You never tried to put up a fight
But you couldn’t hide from his violent display
You never thought you’d come through this alright

But never again will he give you such a fright
You’ve reclaimed your life, come what may
You take your coffee extra strong tonight
Because from now on everything will be alright

I won’t explain it much, because I feel it’s fairly self-explanatory what it’s about. I often find myself drawn to sad themes when I write villanelles, often of people trying to escape from some kind of pain or suffering, or sometimes about them not managing to escape but simply hoping to one day. I just find the circular nature of the poem forces me to really think about what I’m writing more, to really hone in on a singular moment and dig as deep as I can.

Anyway, with two writing challenges out of the way, it’s time for me to go rest, read, and think of all the blogging I’m going to do in May – I’m going to aim for three posts a week minimum, so stay tuned!

The Coffee Machine

When I moved into my new home in Sweden, I pretty quickly went out to the shops (including the biggest shop I’ve ever been into, Ullared – but that’s another post on its own) to buy all the things I really need, like kitchen utensils, basics for my pantry, snowpants and…uh…a coffee machine. What? It’s a necessity, okay?

The totally-worth-it-coffee-machine.

So anyway, it’s a Nescafé Dolce Gusto, a machine that works with those little pods that you put into it and it does everything else for you. Well, I mean, you have to put water in the back, and change the size of the drink to suit your needs and wants and the rough guidelines of each type of coffee you can make, but otherwise you don’t do much. It can make all your standard coffee drinks, plus different flavours of some (there’s more than one caramel flavoured drink), hot chocolates – it even makes tea (though I find myself reluctant to try that). Not only that, but the thing is fast – it’s warmed up and ready to go within about 30 seconds, so basically you can have a decent coffee in under a minute, all with the press of a couple of buttons. See, totally worth it and necessary, right?**

Here’s my favourite three drinks I like to make with it at the moment:

  1. CappuccinoThe Cappuccino – a classic coffee, I have already gone through nearly two boxes of pods for this one (and frankly I need to slow down). It’s tasty and warming on these cold winter days, and my only real complaint about it is that it’s a bit weak – this is easily fixed up by adding an espresso shot to it, but then you’re using a third pod and those pods aren’t super cheap.
  2. ChococinoThe Chococino – I’m 99% sure this has no coffee or caffeine in it – it’s just a really intense, well made hot chocolate. It feels like you’ve been punched in the face, only with a chocolate fist, and not so much punched as gently caressed and…is this getting weird? I think this is getting weird. Anyway, chocoholics will love this. Non-chocoholics will probably also enjoy this. Chocolate haters will be sad and jealous of this.
  3. Caramel Espresso and NesquikHot Nesquik mixed with a Caramel Espresso shot – the Nesquik hot chocolate flavour isn’t as good as the Chococino, but it does only use one pod to make each drink, instead of two, so it is cheaper. But I find sometimes, especially in the afternoon, I feel like hot chocolate and coffee at the same time and I’ve found this particular combination is great. It’s tasty but also perks you up very quickly. Yes, I was drinking one while writing this. Yes, I am considering a second one.

I still have instant coffee because I just can’t afford to drink this stuff all the time (at least not until I’ve landed stable work), but it is nice and I don’t regret buying it at all. It’s great for guests, or for when I just want something a little bit nicer, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to sitting down at my laptop and writing for a while.

Do you have any kind of coffee machine at home? If so, what kind of machine? What are your thoughts on these pod-based machines?

**I think I should be paid for such generous marketing of this product.

Mugshots (dedicated to coffee)

When I say “close friends”, I am not referring to actual people, but am in fact talking about mugs. Why? Because let’s face it, if you’re going to be a writer, you probably need to take up coffee drinking at some point (or at the very least, tea drinking), and even if you don’t write but enjoy reading, you’ll probably know nothing beats the feeling of sitting down with a good book and a cuppa.

However, the purpose of this post isn’t to discuss any deep and profound philosophies of drinking coffee, but rather to show you some photos of some of my favourite mugs from which I drink this life-saving liquid. It has occurred to me recently that I collect mugs (it takes me a while to realise I’ve started collecting something else, as I tend to collect collections of things), and this revelation was mostly caused due to a distinct lack of space in my kitchen cupboards. At any rate, I won’t show you all of them, but just a few of my favourites (and I’ll explain along the way why I like them so much).

Enjoy! And maybe make a cuppa for yourself while you’re at it…

A mug of George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four. Readers who have followed my blog since the early days (i.e. January, February), will remember I also have a similar one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

On the left, a mug of The Beatles, with the pattern from the album A Hard Day’s Night. On the right, a mug of Led Zeppelin, featuring the cover of their first, self-titled album (the back of the album cover is on the other side of the mug), along with the four symbols along the bottom that featured on later albums. Both of these bands share the prestigious position of being my favourite band.

On the left: “Keep Calm And Have A Cuppa”. On the right: “No coffee, no workee!” Two good philosophies to live by, I think. Yes I have used the mug on the right at work before, just for a bit of fun.

On the left: “D’oh for it” with a picture on the back of Homer running. On the right: “I couldn’t agree more with whatever you said!” also with a picture of Homer. What can I say – I like The Simpsons. Always have, too.

Yes, this is a mug shaped to have bits of liquorice allsorts decorating the outside and sticking out. This photo doesn’t show it, but this mug is actually enormous, so I tend to use it for hot chocolate mostly.

To finish off this post, some coffee quotes I like:

“The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

“As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move…similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.” – Honore de Balzac (1799-1859)

“Coffee makes us severe, and grave, and philosophical.” – Jonathan Swift

“Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.” – Author Unknown

“Deja Brew: The feeling that you’ve had this coffee before.” – Author Unknown

“Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.” – Alex Levine

Are you a coffee or a tea drinker? Do you depend on it for reading/writing, or is it just a nice way to relax?