Monday, June 8, 2015


Welcome back for another round of fun! I'm so glad you decided to join us today. Go read the prompts and write your amazing stories!

If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Start with the given first sentence.
2. Up to 500 words
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Geoff Le Pard also known as @geofflepard. Read his winning tale from last week here!  Check out his website here. Geoff Le Pard writes, walks and cooks. The dog approves two of his current career choices. Geoff has given birth to one novel, a second is on its way and he hopes for a large family.

 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #2-49 is:

"I'll tell you what you need, and that's a [rocket scientist]."

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Set your story in a war zone.



  1. Desperate times in Santa Monica
    word count: 490

    “I’ll tell you what we need,” Steve said in a hushed but urgent tone, as they lay side by side. “And that’s a goddamn rocket scientist.”
    “It’s not that bad. You should see the others. No one’s gonna make it.”
    “Not that bad? Stop being so protective! I assure you, that’s doing more harm than good.”

    “Shh… Did you hear that?”
    “The neighbors, maybe?”
    “They don’t have a dog, do they?”
    “Didn’t they?”
    “She died.”
    He sniffed.
    “You aren’t crying are you?”
    “No…” his voice was muffled and squeaky.
    “C’mon, you have to man up. A dog, man, it’s just a dog.”
    He cleared his throat loudly.
    “Shh… they’ll hear.”
    “They can’t hear us from there.”
    “You don’t know.”
    “That’s true. Everything in the papers is a goddamn lie.”

    “At least we have the view.”
    “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”
    “We can see it coming?” Jean asked in a small voice.
    “Not crouched from down here we can’t.”

    “What about the radio? Did you bring it?”
    “What, to hear more fabrications and exaggerations?”
    “Or platitudes so we won’t get hysterical and go looting and pillaging?”
    This time Steve muffled a giggle. “I have to see you looting and pillaging!”
    “Oh shut up,” Jean said.

    “Still, it will take a rocket scientist to help him pass that damn course.”
    “I know. You’re right.”
    Steve was silent.
    “Yes, I know…. it’s about time I started agreeing with you about things. We’ve been on opposite sides for far too long.”
    “Yes, we have.”
    “So, do you know any rocket scientists?” Jean asked him.
    “Sadly, no. But back to Jack, I do think he could have applied himself a bit more though.”
    “Yes, he should have.”

    “Are you agreeing with me again?”
    “You noticed?”
    “Why’d he go for that degree anyway? He wasn’t ever even into robotics and nuclear physics, was he?”
    “I thought he’d spoken to you about it?”
    “No, not really.”

    “Wait, hush. Listen.”
    “I hear it.”
    “Is it time?”

    “You really didn’t bring in the radio?”
    “I did, but I wasn’t sure we should listen to it.”
    “So we don’t know when…?”

    “But he’ll be alright, won’t he?”
    “I think he’s far enough away.”
    “Even if he fails that course.”
    “Even if he drops out of school.”

    “We shoulda stayed back East.”
    “You hated Jersey.”
    “You had to get rich and live on the beach.”
    “But it’s been good to us.”
    “’Til now.”

    “So, where are all those rocket scientists when we need them?”
    “It was pretty dumb to send them all in one plane to the conference.”
    “Yup, pretty ignoramus for such smart guys.”
    “And girls. Don’t forget the women.”
    “All gone in one fell swoop.”
    “And we’re left with our incredible view.”
    “Up the creek, without a rocket scientist in sight. And their missiles landing in our face any minute now.”
    “Any minute.”
    “Stop agreeing with me all the time, it’s getting creepy!”

  2. Um, special challenge accepted... (forgot to mention above...)

  3. Bribery
    Word Count: 294
    Special Challenge Accepted

    “I'll tell you what you need, and that's a good spanking,” Gloria said to her granddaughter. She had told Chelsea to practice her writing, and here she was again, staring out the window. She hadn't even picked up the pencil.
    Chelsea startled, cowered. “I'm sorry, Grandma. I forgot.”
    “Forgot? How could you forget? I just told you two minutes ago!”
    “I don't know,” Chelsea answered, her voice barely audible.
    “Finish your lesson,” Gloria said and stormed off into the kitchen.

    As she washed dishes in the warm, soapy water, Gloria pondered how to keep Chelsea on task. Gloria had been home-schooling Chelsea for only two weeks, and she was losing patience quickly. She found she could not leave the girl alone, even for a minute, to complete a task. If she did, Chelsea would be staring out the window, playing with her pencil, or doodling on the paper. Gloria thought Chelsea needed some good discipline, but her mother had strictly forbidden corporal punishment.

    The only subject where Chelsea seemed able to focus was art. When Chelsea was drawing or painting, she was totally absorbed in her art. Just like when she was staring into space, she was hard to distract.

    Gloria turned to look at Chelsea. There was one word on her paper, and the girl was looking out the window again. Gloria looked at the pile of dishes, and said, “I'll tell you what. If you finish that page before I finish these dishes, we'll paint.”
    “Can I paint now, Grandma?”
    “No, but after you finish this page.”

    Five minutes later, her assignment finished, Chelsea helped Gloria dry dishes. Soon, she would pull out Chelsea's smock and the paints. Gloria could kick herself for bribing the girl, but she was already getting desperate.

  4. Rowena Newton
    Word Count: 499 words
    Special Challenge: accepted.

    Man and His Shed
    “I’ll tell you what you need, and that’s a rocket scientist.”
    Margaret had had more than enough of George’s endless tinkering on his almighty invention ever since he’d retired.
    After all, for at least the last ten years, whenever Margaret had mentioned doing anything at all, George’s stock standard response was: “when I retire”. This list had grown from caravanning around Australia to replacing the threadbare carpet, pruning the hedge and even to mowing their lawn, which had now metamorphosed into a veritable jungle. Indeed, the yard had become such an embarrassment that Margaret now parked around the corner and had acquired a PO Box. She was officially “of no fixed abode” and thinking about making it permanent.
    Sick of nagging and his feigned stubborn deafness, something of a cold war had broken out at No. 15. While there was no masking tape dissecting the house, they kept very much to themselves. Their only common ground was the dog.
    Yet, Margaret knew too well that at her age, a man in the hand was something to hold onto. After all, although well-preserved, she was hardly a dolly bird anymore. Moreover, all the men “of a certain age” (with the exception of George, of course) were dying like flies creating a “man drought”. Mary didn’t help things either when she complained: “all they want is a nurse or a purse”, as she bid 3 no-trumps.
    Still, Margaret could be fiercely independent in her own way, reminding herself that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
    All she needed was a good book…and the dog!
    Besides, if she ever got stuck, there was always Audrey’s bloke…a young uni student who did a bit of mowing and repairs around the house. The talk was that he “had talents in other areas” and that his lifesaving skills extended way beyond the beach.
    Quite out of character, Margaret had requested his card. It was carefully tucked away in her purse but she hadn’t quite plucked up the courage to call. She’d make herself a cup of tea and as she walked towards the phone, the cup rattled in its saucer, betraying her inner torment. She felt like an anxious school girl again. Only back in the day, she’d never called a boy. Oh no! Man was the hunter! It was her job to sit by the phone and wait but she’d never had to wait long.
    She still doesn’t know why she picked George. Good, reliable George who was an up and coming accountant but Margaret couldn’t see any future in a Beatnik.
    For no particular reason other than the extreme heat, Margaret waded through the grass and flung open the doors of the shed. She couldn’t make head or tail of what George was working on but it was out of her world.
    “I’ll tell you what you need and that’s a rocket scientist.”
    It was clear they no longer needed each other.

    But then there was the dog…

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  6. Title The first Rocket Scientist
    Word count 500
    Special Challenge accepted

    "I'll tell you what you need, and that's a rocket."
    “What!” Snapped Wellington, “Why on earth would I want a dammed firework.”
    Two other officers smiled, the Duke was notoriously short tempered with anyone who wasted his time.
    “I’m serious Sir.” The aide continued, “Major Congreve’s rocket artillery. There is no other way we can destroy the fort, and it’s impossible to take it by direct assault.” He paused.
    Wellington was silent, he looked up at the French fort. It was brilliantly positioned to command the pass. If he couldn’t take the fort, he couldn’t take his army through the Pyrenees. He decided quickly.
    “Get Congreve, have him take his Rocket Artillery onto that ridge, I want that fort destroyed.”
    Two hours later a mule train crawled up the ridge, when they reached a small plateau overlooking the fort, the engineers began to set up a wooden frame. As they did so two officers took sights on the fort whilst Major Congreve carefully put his rockets together.
    The rockets looked like massive fireworks, the head was two foot long, fitted to a wooden stick as tall as a man. One of the officers ran over with the range of the fort, the Major nodded and screwed a fuse into the base of the first rocket. Two men carefully laid it in the frame, the angle was adjusted again and the fuse lit.
    Everyone stepped to one side, the rockets were notoriously unsafe, occasionally exploding on the launch frame. There was a cloud of smoke and the rocket shot skywards. The Major watched its flight, stopwatch in hand. It exploded high over the fort.
    He turned back and made adjustments to the launch frame, then he picked out another fuse and the rocket was launched. This one went wild, veering off at right angles, Congreve quietly got the next rocket ready.
    “I think they’ve spotted us Sir.” Said the young officer who had been watching the fort through a telescope. “Then we must be more accurate than them.” He replied.
    Before they could launch another rocket the cannon in the fort fired, there was an explosion a little below them and to the left.
    “Good for a first shot.” The major commented, as he lit the fuse on the next rocket.
    This one’s flight was perfect, it shot from the frame in a plume of white smoke, made a gentle arc right onto the gun platform of the fort, where it exploded. As the smoke cleared they saw that no one was left standing by the cannon.
    Wellington watched smoke rise from the Fort.
    “Excellent, the army marches tomorrow, the road is good until we are past those hills”
    He pointed with his cane.
    “But aren’t we going through the pass?”
    Oh no, far too rough. But now the French will think we are coming that way and defend it, we will take them by surprise.”
    Three weeks later the British Army entered France u

  7. Title: The Grown Ups Are Gone
    @Sacha_Black (
    Word Count: 395
    I completed the special challenge too.

    “I’ll tell you what we need, Lara, and that’s twelve squadron.”

    Her grey eyes popped as stared at me. Her jaw slackened and her hair rippled in the wind. Dust and fragments of broken buildings drifted into her locks and clung to the curls like spiders on webs. I leant back onto the remains of an old redbrick bank we were hiding behind. I couldn’t even tell which bank it was anymore; like so many of the town’s buildings it was a carcass.

    “You’re sure, Joe?”

    Her eyes flicked to my hand and back to my face. She bit her lip and pulled me into a hug, “you know what this means don’t you?”

    I gritted my teeth, patted her on the back and tried not to let the warmth of her body rush over me. She squeezed and the fight left me. I closed my eyes and breathed in so deeply the smell of her would cling to my soul forever. She smelt sweet, despite being caked in a weeks worth of dirt and blood.

    It was the first time I’d been touched since the grown ups disappeared. The last week felt like an eternity, and this was the first time I’d felt safe. I wanted to stay in her arms forever.

    “I’m sure,” I nodded.

    She peeled herself off me, leaving me cold with only the faintest trace of her sweet skin left on my grubby shirt.

    “Fine. But I’ll go. I’m older, and faster, and I know who we’re looking for. I’ll be back before sundown, ok?”

    I opened my mouth to protest.

    “Promise me you’ll stay safe. Cover me,” she pressed her soft lips onto my filthy cheek and ran.

    I knelt down, still feeling the rouge in my cheeks and picked up the sleek black rifle. I fired as she pepper potted her way across the path and onto the street. Two tiny faces smeared with green and mud appeared from behind a mound.

    I rounded my gun. Fired.

    Thud. Thud. Thud.

    Lara halted. Frozen in the middle of the street.

    “RUN, LARA,” I screamed. Firing again and again at the faces.

    She turned around to face me.

    “Joe,” she whispered.

    A single line of red oozed from her mouth and ran down her chin. Her eyes roled into the back of her head and she fell to the floor.

  8. Army of Ineffective Badness
    499 words, Challenge Accepted
    “I’ll tell you what we need, and that’s a sweet young hostage.” The Dark Lord scowled at his skeleton troops. “The Hero has a Love Interest, they always do. Send a batwing patrol immediately and bring her to me.”

    “Yes sir.” Captain Fodder set the plan into motion.

    Dark Lord began to pace. This was obviously the Training Sequence, when both armies made their final preparations before the Big Climatic Battle. It bought time to raise and arm more skeletons, but it also gave the hero more time to train his peasant army with the use of basic spear and archery techniques. At least this sequence didn’t particularly favor either side.

    “Fodder, we need to get the troops marching on the castle well before dawn. If we can arrive before their Clever Traps are set up, it will save a lot of pain in my arse.”

    “Of course sir, I’ll start them marching at by two. It’s not like skeletons need sleep anyway.”

    “We’ve got to get over the wall and retrieve that Nercronomicon before the Hero ever takes the field.” Dark Lord had several flaws as a speaker, including soliloquies and belaboring the obvious.

    “Why don’t you just send the air force in, Sir? Snatch the thing and run?”

    “I’m not sure. Whenever Dark Lords have superior air power, they never seem to use it sensibly. I suspect it would shorten the plot buildup too much. No, we’re contractually required to move in by land.”

    Fodder sighed, “Of course, your Badness.”

    At that moment, the batwings returned with the Sheila.

    “Give me some sugar, baby,” the Dark Lord delivered the standard misogynistic magic words, and negotiated the evil kiss despite her ridiculously ineffective struggles. In a few moments, she was bound to Darkness as his new Evil Queen.

    Black magic rocks that way.

    “That’s the last thing we need, get the army moving, Fodder.”

    Well before sunrise, the undead army quietly surrounded the tiny, sleeping castle. Neatly avoiding several Standard Pitfalls, Fodder moved his army in quietly while hidden in the darkness, unseen by the sleepy wall guards. No reason to get the Hero out of bed before Evil is set up.

    The scaling ladders went up on all four sides of the castle and armed skeletons poured onto the battlements. The screwhead human forces were quickly butchered, the gates opened, and the Dark Couple strode triumphantly inside.

    “Still no Hero?” the Dark Lord paced the courtyard, perplexed.

    “Not a sign of him, sir.”

    “I just don’t understand. No Necronomicon either?”

    “No sir.”

    Bad Ash had considered every contingency, covered every plot twist, and prepared for every trap. There just wasn’t any way he could lose this time. He hadn’t even Monologued to inform the enemy of all his plans. What power of good hadn’t he guarded against?

    “Sir…” Fodder spoke with great reluctance.


    “Are we… Is this the right castle, sir?”

    Nooooo! Overcome by the greatest and most ridiculous of all Good Guy powers, Unrestricted Serendipity!

  9. Title : After the Electricity Died
    Word Count 500
    Challange accepted .

    "I'll tell you what you need, and that's a [rocket scientist]." with that Simon turned on his heel and slammed the lab door.

    Sitting in the ensueing silence Dan srugged his shoulders and said to to no one inparticular " Well good luck with that they are all dead and with them their knowledge" Seconds passed and the low buzz of hushed voices and the scratching of pens on paper once again began to fill the room.

    Dan was tired and he was desparate for a cup of coffee, sadly he thought to himself there had been none left for at least 5yrs now. Just like everything else he had loved and held dear, electricity, flying , technology , gone all gone. Everything was harder now , keeping warm, keeping knowledge even keeping from being hungry.

    The most asked question: where were you when electricity died? Everyone over five remembered exactly, though for the first few days they though it just a fluke. Sadly it was not people died in their millions, planes fell from the skies hospitals just stopped working, freezers thawed. There was no petrol unless you could crank it up by hand. Things just got harder and only those who were willing to pull together and work hard survived.

    Nothing was the same and it was amazing how quickly things ran out , how knowledge was forgotten. There was no internet , no google, everyone and everything became insular. Dan had met Simon in a library where he was defending the books... people were actually taking the books and burning them for heat and cooking! They had both seen how short sighted that was and had decided to pool their knowledge. Simon had been in the army after growing up on an arable farm, Dan had been a Scientist working in genectics. They realized that their skills were of no use unless they could find more people with other knowledge to impart.

    They set about this and anyone who wanted to join them was welcome. They all worked hard at keeping the old knowledge alive and made sure the children learned as wide a range of skills as possible. It had been so hard at first everyone had become so soft, life was too easy everything at peoples fingertips. It was snatched away over night ... well in one afternoon actually.

    Everything was so hard , keeping warm , growing food, keeping comunications open, travel even the simple things like getting through the day were hard, god forbid there would be a medical emergancy or even a birth! Even keeping peace with themselves and the neighbouring settlements was hard then there were the itinerant travellers who always caused trouble.

    Simon returned to the lab, everyone stopped working and looked at him expectantly ! Dan got up and walked across to to meet him ." Is it as bad as you thought," he asked? "Worse" replied Simon "they are coming and they mean war! " That's why I said we we need rocket scienists ! " Dan hung his head this means war..........

  10. Title: Mad Dash Escape
    Word Count - 500

    "I'll tell you what you need and that's a gun.”

    An alarm went off, echoing throughout the residence hall corridor.

    John turned towards his wife. She had a gun in one hand and an expression on her face he had never seen before now. It was a mix of shining pride and tentative fear.

    “Why would I need a gun, Emily?”

    “Well, see, the thing is,” she was picking phantom lint off her uniform. She only fake picked at things when she was about to deliver uncomfortable news. “I may have killed the Captain.”

    There it was. John actually felt his jaw drop. “You may have?”

    “Well, no, I most certainly did.”

    As far as he knew, his wife had never killed a person but her hand was steady on the gun, an experienced hold. He tried to catch her eye and prayed it wouldn’t be the gaze of a stranger.

    Emily sighed dramatically as if John’s caution was unfounded. When she met his eye she at least had the decency to look abashed. “Don’t you at least want to know why I killed her?”

    Footsteps were coming down the hall, heavy and united – a squad looking for their target. Their target was his wife.

    “Where would I find a gun?”

    “We’ll probably have to disarm a guard.” She beckoned him to her side of the corridor with a two finger motion. He followed the order immediately. “It was for a good reason.”

    John wanted to believe her and as they dipped into a nearby empty room he decided that he would believe, at least until they got out of this mess.

    “They’ll be checking each room individually. Let’s hide behind the door.”

    “This isn’t a movie, Emily.”

    “Trust me, it’ll work.”

    So they waited behind the door, his breath caught in his throat. They heard a nearby door open, then another, then their own. Like in the movies, the door swung open and concealed them. A single guard searched the room.

    Emily jumped forward and onto the back of the guard in a single movement. The guard, caught off guard, stumbled backwards and onto John. It was easy to twist the arm and disarm the man, easier still to use the side of the gun to knock him unconscious.

    “Let’s head to the escape pods.”

    “We need a code –”

    “A code I have, John, since I manage pod maintenance.”

    They ran down the path that led to the lower decks. “Why is the ship still moving?”

    “Auto-pilot. I doubt they want to alarm anyone.”

    She went down the ladder, John followed. At the base the room was empty, for now.

    “Why did you do it, Emily?” He needed to know before getting in the pod with her, before soaring straight to Earth. He’d either be traveling with a vigilante or a psychopath, but he needed to know which.

    Her smile twisted then, eyes widened with lunacy. John stepped back in fear. “Because I wanted to and I could.”

  11. Enemy at the Door

    "I'll tell you what you need, and that's a shot of vodka.” I loathe Vikram’s nonchalance in the face of the bleak outlook.
    “What I need is the black curtains to block the windows.” I raise my voice in frustration.

    The dusk has crawled around us, and a few stray birds linger on the overhead wires crisscrossing the grey landscape. Sun hasn’t shone in days. The blanket of snow soiled with dust and blood, is spread at my feet. My ears are perked up to pick up even a faint whirr of the bomber in the distance.

    At nightfall, I go inside and switch off all the lights in the room, and tightly shut the curtains. Vikram follows me unwillingly. I fiddle with the radio knobs. No orders are forthcoming. We just have to wait. Wait is what kills me. Unlike Vikram, I’m not able to relax during these lulls. I need action to keep my mind still.

    The thump on the door startles me. I rise to check. “Don’t," Vikram whispers and holds me back. The thumps don’t go away; the tempo rises to a frantic pace. We lie breathless, not emitting a peep, utter darkness washing over us. We will have to move stealthily when the moment calls for it. Meanwhile, better not alert the intruder.

    The thumps cease, and slowly the footfall retreats. “At ease, soldier,” Vikram ribs me. “Go to hell,” I reply fumbling in the dark trying to locate the tiffin. We barely begin to eat the stale rice and dal in silence, barely chewing the flavorless pulp, when I hear the choppy notes from a mouth organ. The chopping sound soon turns into a smooth soulful melody. I know the words by heart. “Hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga.”

    Against my better judgement, I hold the door ajar and step out in the chill of the night. Snow crunches under my feet. The organ player sits under the abandoned shed, moonlight streaking through the crack in the roof shining on his shoulder. “Good evening, dost,” he greets me as I near. His smile is friendly, but his eyes wince in pain. He tries to get up and collapses like a bag of beans. The snow under his perch dark under the moonlight.

    We carry him inside and apply all the gauze we have in the room to his festering wound and pumped some Demerol through our last syringe. “Better not hurt yourself until we get a fresh supply,” Vikram winks at me. “At least he’s one of us,” I say, glad not to have wasted the last bit of it on the enemy.

    “This is war,” Vikram reminds me, “everyone is an enemy.”

    I hold the silent vigil for the stranger. Vikram dozes off. In the faint light drifting through the cracks, I notice the stranger’s taweez. A picture of Neelu, my wife, locked inside, smiles at me.

    “Everyone is an enemy,” Vikram’s words ring in my ear, burn a hole in my heart.

    500 words
    Challenge accepted.

    Dost – Friend
    Taweez – Amulet, locket
    Hoke majboor mujhe usne bhulaya hoga - She must have been forced to forget me.

  12. Always The Scientists
    446 words
    Special Challenge Accepted

    “I’ll tell you what you need, and that’s a strong drink and a nap.”
    “But…” Oliver rubbed his forehead several times and glanced at his keyboard.

    Captain Marsala’s eyes were sharp enough to cut glass. “Janus. Get ahold of yourself. There are letter imprints on your face. Do you really believe you’re of any benefit with your face planted on the keyboard? Perhaps you’ve developed a way of controlling the interface through osmosis?

    Oliver’s face scrunched. “Ma’am, er, Sir, osmosis is actually the process…”

    “Janus!” Oliver leaned slightly away and swiped at the tiny bits of spittle decorating his cheek. The officer continued. “I don’t give a rat’s puckered anus what osmosis actually is. What I want to know is why you’ve been awake for 36 hours instead of utilizing your team of highly-paid scientists so that you can get some rest!"

    The echoes of ongoing skirmishes bounced across the ceiling. The scientist rubbed his neck. “But, sir, the Dayuhan…”

    “For the most part are still twelve hours away. My men are capable of handling forerunners. Your job was to get planetary weapons online and shields up for all the major cities. You’ve done that, yes?” Oliver had been contemplating the poetic movement of her eyebrows while she was speaking. He shook his head, trying to clear it.

    “Yes, sir. I think so. But we’ve never used planetary weapons....” Oliver turned to start another simulation.

    “Yes, and we won’t be using them for at least another 11 hours. Get your hairy, wrinkled, hindous off that piece of crap you call a chair…”

    “What’s a hindous?” Oliver’s mouth sometimes operated without his permission. Maybe a nap was a good idea after all. He jumped off his chair, barely missing the swing of the officer's arm, and rushed towards the door.

    He was in the process of shouting orders to the nearest scientist when a loud explosion echoed down the hallway. The world stopped for the count of two breaths. Then screams and banging feet erupted from every direction. Alarms blared. Talkies tripped over orders and requests for medical assistance.

    Janus flung a look at his team and received sharp nods from several of them as they raced to lockdown the building and set guard on the weapon’s control board. As a first responders, Janus and several others raced to the scene, nap all but forgotten. Nobody cares about sleep deprivation when people are dying.

    One of his team turned to him mid-stride. “So, up for another 36 hours?”

    Oliver spared him a grim smile while he yanked on gloves. “Always up for a rocking party,” as he bent to help halt the rising body count.