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False Alarm by Lisa R.

Submitted by Lisa R.

My older brother, by 5 years, John, had come up from his home in LA to my home in Santa Barbara for a weekend visit. In spite of our rivalry as children, we became good friends as young adults. It was late summer. We had no specific plans, but my brother was in a hurry to get started on them.

“When are you finished-finished?” John asked. He was perched himself on top of the customer counter in the middle of the bank lobby. Marble or not, I didn’t think his choice of seats was wise.

I stood at my desk, behind the teller counter, and suggested he get down. John laughed. “How much longer? Seriously.”

My best friend, a loan officer, came around the corner.  We were the last three people in the bank.

If my brother were not pestering us to leave, my friend and I might have stayed longer. We both had a pile of papers to process. But it was a sunny Saturday and the stack of work could wait.

My brother, in the tedium of waiting, began doing what every man in my life eventually did: he started casing the joint. He started asking the same set of questions they all wanted to know. Where are all the cameras? How does the vault lock work? How fast do the police arrive? Is the alarm always silent? How much money is inside the vault right now?

Although I knew the answers, I never fueled their robbery fantasies with accurate responses. Instead, simply by asking, What do you think? I let them add layers and layers of non-existent security measures, created by their Good-Guy imaginations.

John was still sitting on the counter. I was positive the additional 240 lbs would lead to catastrophe.

Right then the lights flashed on, off, on, off. John’s eyes widen. “What just happened?!”

To save energy the bank had installed automatic timers that turned the lights off one hour after closing. The flashing was a warning that we had a few minutes until they turned off permanently. Since my friend worked late regularly, she knew how to override the system. She started to walk toward the timer. I stopped her.

“John, that was the warning that the alarm system is about to arm itself. We have 5 minutes. So, you should really get off that counter and wait by the door.”

My friend asked, “What are we doing? Where are we going?”

John asked, “What does that mean?”

“It means we need to be out of here in 5 minutes,” I said.

He continued to sit on the counter. “Or what? What happens?”

I knew John was convinced the movie makers had it right. He believed all banks, including a small community branch office, had invested in the latest technology to stave off burglars and protect the enormous sums of cash locked behind the giant vault door. “Are there motion detectors? And lasers across the floor?”

Before responding, I eyed my friend and gave her a subtle wink, “The lights go off and the alarm system turns on. If we are in here… our corporate security will know and immediately call the police. Now, where are we going? Do we want to eat? Should we go home first and meet back downtown?”

We kept talking about lunch and plans. And John kept sitting on top of the counter. And suddenly the lights switched off.

“Should I not move?! Shit! Lisa what are we going to do? I don’t see the light sensors.”

“The sensors must be in the floor!” he added.

“But only underneath the big tiles,” I responded.

“So I am stuck?”

Instead of laughing, I responded very seriously, “I’m really going to get in trouble for this. You shouldn’t have even been in the bank once we closed. And when the police come and it is a false alarm, the branch is going to be fined!”

“Seriously? Can’t you call them?”

“And say what?! I’m not supposed to have you in here!” My friend walked toward me, getting ready to leave.


“There’s no floor sensors over here. Only in the lobby.”

My friend turned her back to John and covered her mouth, laughing.

My brother looked at the floor. The pattern was a set of larger tiles surrounding small marble tiles. “You said the motion sensors are under the larger tiles, right?”

My friend stared at me with her hand still clamped tightly over her mouth. “I guess if you can stay only on the small tiles, you could make it to the door,” I said.

“You’ll have to stay on the balls of your feet!” I added.

My brother started to slither down from the counter, legs stretched wide to land on two small, green tiles, one for each foot. Already the perspiration on his forehead had beaded up and was glistening against his pale skin.

John stretched his arms out like the balancing pole used by a tightrope artist and raised his right foot in the air. Teetering a bit he landed on the next green tile that would lead to the door. He proceeded with such concentration that he never noticed my friend barreled over, laughing silently at his effort.

He moved away from the counter, slowly at first. He no longer had something to hold and steady his progress. One wrong step and the police would descend.

He started moving faster, tongue tip resting outside his tense mouth. He was only a few yards from the door. He stopped and pointed at the floor.

“Why are you stopping? You’re almost there! I’ll hand you the key when you get closer!”

“Lisa! We are totally screwed!” John whispered. “Look!” He was pointing at a black floor mat laying in front of the door. It was blocking his view of the small green tiles.

I let him stare, panicked, at this obstacle. He had to change course. He looked at me and my friend, standing on carpet, behind the teller counter, his arms still outstretched, tip toe, legs spread.

He started to turn toward the carpeted area. Slowly. Slowly. Knees bent. He started to lose his balance, arms circling forward, then back the other way. He crouched. Toes up, avoiding his heels touching the dreaded big tiles. He sucked in his breath. His fingers wiggling. Then no movement at all.


He looked up with a huge smile stretched across his face.

My friend and I both had tears streaming down our face. We each had both hands smothering our laughter. My friend kneeled down on the ground. Then she was on all fours and the snorts escaped from her mouth.

“You’re shitting me? There’s no alarm?”

I just smiled.

Review by Julie

I like weird stuff. If something can be described as strange or bizarre, there’s a good chance that I’ll like it at least a little bit. So, when I read the description of Weirder Than Marshmallows- “Stories that are, like marshmallows, strange, mind boggling… hard to explain, impossible to ignore”- it appealed to me.

Weirder Than Marshmallows contains true stories and essays by the author, Dan Fogg. Most of the essays are humorous, but some are more serious and personal. Much of the humor is based on human stupidity. Fogg addresses topics such as seemingly unnecessary warning labels (i.e. “highly flammable!” on lighter fluid), technological malfunctions, and people who don’t know the difference between “lose” and “loose”- that’s a pet peeve of mine, so I can relate! The more serious essays deal with issues such as the aftermath of Columbine and the 2000 Presidential elections.
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Review by Erin

As everyone knows I love to read. I love to read books about everything and anything. When asked to review Weirder than Marshmellows, I was amazed to learn the author is disabled (just like me)! I was also saddened to learn that the author had passed away, meaning this would be something I would truly treasure because I wouldn’t be able to read anything more by Dan Fogg!

The reason I was drawn to this book is because not only is it full of funny (TRUE), interesting, and abnormal stories but because it gave Dan’s account of living life in a wheelchair. It gave his honest approach to life as a person with a disability, his message is simple “Everyone would like to be included and treated like a human being” (my words not his).

I truly believe this book would be great for any person, it make lights of several things that people think but rarely speak about.
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Review by Brandy

I recently had the chance to review this book published by NightFire Publications. This book is a great easy read about those little things in life that are like “duh”. . . In the book it says “Weirder Than Marshmallows showcases tales of stupidity and ignorance in the hopes of making people laugh.”

Once I started to read this I couldn’t put it down. It was so funny reading some of the stories in the book that I found myself busting out and having my kids give me a strange look. Some of the things written are like “DUH” or “DINK DINK DINK, we have a winner”. It’s those stories you hear online or see on TV that just makes you think about what were they truly thinking when this happened.

I love reading books like this that just real easy reads that I can pick up through out the day and it doesn’t matter how long it was since the last time you read it, you can pick it right back up. I would recommend this book as just one of those funny little books that would be great to read anytime or anywhere.
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Review by Alice

“Ignorance, lack of common sense, and downright inhuman stupidity
run rampant in this country and around the world.
I watch people, and I hear stories,
and they beg, beg, beg to be mocked and ridiculed.”

I had the opportunity to review the ebook entitled “WEIRDER THAN MARSHMALLOWS” written by Dan Fogg. This ebook is actually a compilation of essays about the author’s observations on just about every random thing.

Those lines that I quoted from the book perfectly captures the overall tone of the book. It, not necessarily celebrates, perhaps highlights, the bizarre things around us that we probably just ignore. Say for example, a sign that says “Do Not Stop On Tracks” pertaining to railroad tracks. The author pokes fun at the fact that there are people who actually stop on railroad tracks that a sign had to be put up for something that should actually have been really obvious.
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Review by Zabrina

My opinions of the book:
First of all I want to say, I absolutely loved this short book. I laughed so hard at some points. I am sure there are those who would not like the profanity through out, but I am open to however someone wants to express their self. I found myself chuckling and enjoying the humor he found in the situations. I also enjoyed the situations that were true to life, about Daniel’s feelings and outlook on certain things. There is definitely a great message through even the sarcasm. It is truly sad that his life was cut short, and we are unable to receive more writing from him. I recommend this read to anyone of a mature nature that would be understanding to the sarcasm, not offended by a few cuss words, and willing to be open minded.
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Review by Marilou

A serious take by the author about weird senseless things around him… stupid warning signs. Seriously funny! Take precaution and read those signs. The marshmallows doesn’t have to do about it!

This book is published by NightFire Publications. I had just read it and it makes me laugh! I had been seeing stupid warning signs about it, then telling myself if those signs are really needed. If you see some warning signs are stupid, then you’re on Dan Fogg’s side. Dan Fogg (1980 – 2002) is the author of Weirder Than Marshmallows. He died young.

Actually, useless warning signs should be for children, because children are somewhat still senseless. But would children read the signs? No. Then these warning signs are for adults? Useless warning signs for adults?
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Review by Karla

I recently received the book Weirder than Marshmallows to review and can highly recommend it. It reminds me of the books that kids love – Goosebumps, but even better it is true stories. It reminds me a lot of the show 100 Ways to Die or the World’s Dumbest shows that are currently on television. It’s currently available in Kindle format.

My son is looking forward to reading this book next. I love when kids get excited about books and spend their time reading instead of in front of the television or playing computer games. My middle son is great about taking a book everywhere! This book is filled with great non-fiction stories that will make you stop and think.
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Review by Lindsey

Weirder Than Marshmallows. What comes to mind when you say that? Marshmallow. Look at the word over and over again and it becomes a lot more than just a fluffy puff of sugary goodness. Marsh… Mallow… Break it down and realize that it is not what it seems at first. At first glance it is something we love to roast around a campfire, but with more contemplation it’s something a lot more. It’s weird.

Daniel Fogg made this discovery a long time ago, so I’m glad I am not the only one who feels this way about the primary ingredient of a chocolate S’more. Fogg’s compilation of essays and observances in the book is almost like a marshmallow. It’s weird, but there is more underneath the cover than what first glance may hold.
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