The 24-Hour Challenge #2

Offered by Debra DeYoung (deydeal) - the Answering Machine challenge:

Here is my challenge. Any AU (Yes, I know the old west didn't have answering machines, but I trust you guys to be creative). The answering machine: Write either one (or any number) of the boy's messages on their answering machines. You can include their out going message and whoever calls them during one night.

(NT here... I suspect you can write in OW or another AU that don't have answering machines by using notes that the guys leave for each other).

Find Your Prize By  - Sunhawk

(And yes I made up everything in this fic so there's no correspondence to real life geographical features anywhere.)

Chris Larabee was angry, confused and worried.  It was not something he appreciated.  He decided to try again.

"trunk" **Beep**

"God damnit Nate!  What the hell are you guys playing at?" Chris bellowed at his innocent phone.

The guys had said that they would arrive at his house at 7am this morning.  It was now 9 and no-one had arrived.  Well he'd expected that from Ezra but the rest of them?  And now the greetings on their answering machines.  Elephant's.  At.  Trunk.  The.  To.  11am.  Maybe it was some kind of code.  Elephant's trunk. At 11am.  The.  To.

"I hate mysteries." groused Chris to himself since he was all alone with no-one around like they were supposed to be.

The elephant's trunk at 11am.  To. 

"This makes no sense!  There's no verb!"  Chris was really getting irritated.  "Wait each guy had one word on their machine.  And I'm missing one word."  He turned towards his own answering machine with great suspicion and dialed his number on his cell phone.

"Come." **Beep** said Ezra's voice.

"Sneaky bastard.  Come to the elephant's trunk at 11am.  They're in on this together.  All I wanted was a nice day working on the fences and drinking beer.  Is that too much to ask for?"  Chris asked plaintively as he got into his Ram to drive to the famous landmark.

He checked his watch when he arrived. 10:45.  Great that left 15 minutes to stew, um, spare.  At exactly 11 his cell phone rang.

"You're half-way there Old Dog.  Can you go the distance in order to win the prize?"  Buck hung up before Chris could say anything.

Chris immediately called Buck's cell back.

 "Drive for ten minutes at 47 mph." **Beep** 

"When I find 'em I'm gonna kill 'em.  In order to win the prize.  If I have to call them all again to find out what order to call their cells…" The threat trailed off into nothing as he began the tedious task of re-calling everyone and listening to the messages again.  10 minutes later he had the correct order to call the cell phones written down on his notebook that he kept in the car.

"Okay so it's first: call Ezra. Second, Josiah. Third, Buck. Then, Nate. Fourth, Vin. And finally, JD." Chris dialed the first number as he started the engine.

"Drive 3.2 miles down the goat path masquerading as dirt road." **Beep**"Always have to have the last word don't you Standish?" Chris' smile was almost affectionate.

"Now, Brother, turn towards the rising sun." **Beep**Chris shook his head.  "Josiah you can be as bad as Ezra sometimes with your damn metaphors." But his smile was a smidge bigger.

"Drive for ten minutes like your Grannie's in the car. Three miles per hour under the speed limit." **Beep**

That was Buck all right everything related to women.  He would never change.  Chris was starting to feel sorta happy inside.

" Turn right onto the gravel road and the stop point will wave you through. The dust kicks up something awful so you should probably turn your AC on to keep it out.  It's bad for the lungs y'know." **Beep**

Nathan was forever worrying about their health.  As far as Chris could tell he was fighting a losing battle.  But still, to have someone concerned for you was nice.

"Go 5.4 miles. Take the left fork.  Right side of road."  **Beep**

Chris was flat out smiling now.  "Vin, outwardly you seem to be the opposite of Ezra, yet you two are actually exactly the same.  You just express it differently."

"Park your car and go over the fence. Ow! -mumbling- Okay. Okay! Go around the fence and past the trees to the clearing where you'll find your prize. Buck leave my  hat  alone  its…"  **Beep**

He couldn't help the grin as he finished listening to JD's message.  "May your love of life never die Kid." he thought and rounded the corner and saw the sign.

Happy Birthday Chris!!!!

"We wanted for this day to be a happy one for you, filled with family and friends."  said JD.

"So we figured out a way to get you to come." continued Buck.

"An' 'vited everone we could think of." finished Vin.

Chris stood there with a strange look on his face.  In someone else they'd think it was a grin.

"So, do you find the fête to your taste or should we commence in fleeing now?" inquired Ezra.

"Naw.  I've decided to not kill any of you today.  I'd hate to ruin a good day with bloodstains." Chris stated and then winked to everyone's surprise. "Let's party."

The End

By Libby (mmrrph)

Buck scrubbed at his wet hair with the towel thrown around his shoulders and padded into the living room.  The answering machine had 7 messages.  He rescued the towel that was slipping from his waist then reached out and hit the ‘playback’ button.



::breathy voice::

Ooohhhhh Buccckkyy honnneeey!  Are you free for a date tonight?  I’m soooo needing to see you…::twittering laugh::  And I think you know exactly what I’m needing to see!  ::twittering laugh::  Call me back, sugar.  Hugsandkisses! Jennie




Buck…are you there?  I thought you were going to be home this afternoon.  ::pouty voice::  Have you forgotten about me already?  Did you say we were going out tonight?  I can’t remember!  ::giggle::……..



::husky voice::

Buck dah-rling – I thought you and I could enjoy some time together this evening.  I’ve managed to get……..



::talking and laughing in the background::

~I am going to ask…shhhhh~  ::clears throat::  Buck?  This is Stephanie - about tonigh....



::raised voice::

Buck Wilmington!  You scoundrel!  I thought we'd go out tonigh…….



::slight moan, whispered::




::noisy background::

Hey Buck!  It’s JD.  I’m calling from the grocery.  Was thinking about the ice cream, and thought to see if you had an idea of what to get.  ::muffled ‘excuse me’::  Oh- hey!  Edy’s is on sale.  Two for five…I’ll get four.  ::sound of seal/door opening - freezer 'whirrrrr'::  Oh – I also wanted to say the video store had all three of what we wanted.  I got them all…was gonna ask if you wanted anything else particular to munch on…::sound of cart hitting display unit – then mumbled::  ~Damn.  Some people shouldn’t be allowed to drive those things.~  Anyway, you’re probably in the shower or something.  I’ll just pick stuff out.  Should be home in 15 or so.




Buck grinned, his finger finally stilling from advancing through the other messages he had no interest in at hearing JD's voice.  He patted his flat stomach.


“Best be ready down there.  Four kinds a’ ice cream.  Hear that?  And you’re getting 'em all.”  He headed for the bedroom, flinging the towel near the bathroom and went to pull on some sweats and an old and soft tshirt.

By Setcheti (LS Christopher)

Note left on Ezra's table in the saloon the day after a 'discussion' about his accuracy and Chris' speed, accompanied by a hole-shot ace of spades and five obviously used bullets: "I don't use blanks"

Note left on the jail desk ten minutes later, accompanied by the same ace and five more used bullets: "I leave nothing to chance."

By Debby Gerl (sable cain)

Beep! “Not home, leave a message.”

Beep! “You’ve reached 555-8321, please leave your name, number and a brief message after the tone.”

Beep! “You’ve reached voice mail for,” pause… “Chris Larabee.” Pause… “please leave a message after the tone or press one for further options.

“Good evening, this is Ezra Standish’s messaging service, how may I help you? Hello? Hello?” Click.

Beep! “Either I’m not here or the fates have led me to simply ignore the phone for the time being. Leave your info after the beep and I’ll meditate on getting back with you.”

“JD would you quit calling everybody? Nathan and Josiah will be back any minute with the pizza and movie.” Chris cut in as JD reached for the phone again. Dunne paused and pulled his hand back away from the phone.

“Yeah, Kid. I hate it when someone calls and don’t leave no message!” Vin glanced over from where he slouched on couch, watching Buck and Ezra play JD’s latest play station game.

“Well, its no wonder no one says nothing. You guys have got the lamest messages I’ve ever heard.” JD protested, standing and stretching before moving to check out the window for any sign of Josiah and Nathan. “There’s not a creative bone in any of you.” He accused.

“And what, pray tell, do you consider creative, Mr. Dunne?” Ezra asked without looking up from the video game.

“No, JD. Don’t…” Buck dropped the controls and tried to intervene but JD was already to their machine. With a grin he punched the button, chuckling as Buck sank back into the chair in defeat.

JD’s voice sounded tinny as the recording played. “You’ve reached JD Dunne and Buck Wilmington.”

“Sounds creative so far.” Vin cracked sarcastically, earning a chuckle from Larabee.

“Leave your name, number and message and…” there was a slight pause before JD began to sing. Slightly off key and to the tune of ‘we will rock you’ “We will, we will…call you back, call you back.”

“If you’re lucky!” Buck’s muffled voice interrupted from somewhere in the background.

“Buck!” The recording ended with JD’s indignant protest.

Chris covered his mouth in an attempt to hide his smile. Vin just shook his head.

“We’re changing that thing tonight.” Buck declared, even as he seemed to sink further into his chair.

“Aw, come on Buck. It’s unique.” JD defended.

“That’s one word for it.” Ezra smirked.

“We’re changing it,” Buck repeated.

“Buck.” JD pleaded.





“Would you two shut up?” Chris interrupted. “Get the door, Josiah and Nathan are back.”


By Lady Catherine - Kelly

Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.


You have reached the residence of Ezra P. Standish. If you would leave your name and number I will return your call shortly.


Ezra. Ezra. It’s me, Vin. Ez, pick up the phone. I know you’re there. Come on Ez, pick up the damn phone. I know you’re just sittin’ in your chair drinkin’ brandy. Come on Ez. Ez, it wasn’t your fault, that young hotshot policeman was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. There was nothin’ yeah could a done. Ez. Well, I just wanted yeah to know that, was gettin’ worried ‘bout you pard. Give me a call ok Ez? I want to make sure you’re all right. OK, talk to yeah later pard.


By Katy (KT) 

Number 1
I Told You Two!  By KT
Au - ATF
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were never will be.
Note: I don't own the message on Buck and JD's machine I heard it some place a long time ago. This has not been proof read.


"Hello, the answer machine is on holiday, this is the fridge, they're not in, but if you need to leave a message I'll write it down and stick it on my door, bye."

"Buck! JD? JD pick up this minute! …Damn …look you two when you get this you call me on my cell! You two hear me, now! So help me if you are doing what I think you're doing I'm gonna … call now!"


"Um hello …yes this is Senor Vin's phone …he is not here…. Oh my name is Enrique … well er Senor Vin asked me to listen out for his phone, he paid me too… What? …Si I can take a message …FIND BUCK AND JD. Okay I have it written down. Senor? Senor Vin says I have to ask who is calling …Chris …okay …um thank you for calling Senor Vin's phone."


"Your call cannot be taken at the moment so please leave a message after the tone."

"Shit Cowboy when are you gonna get around to recording yer own massage? Anyway I found um' their at County General, don't fret none they any hurt bad - yet! They did it, I knew they would! Josiah's with them."


"Nathan and Rain can't come to the phone right now, please leave you message after the tone."

"Brother Nathan if you get this meet me at County General, you're gonna like this - don't worry no one's in ICU, just come."


"I cannot, or do not wish, to answer the telephone at this time. Please inform me of the nature of your call."

"Hell Ez your machines got more attitude than you. Ez I know you're there, get over to County General and rescue me and the kid before Chris gets here, or I'll tell him about that little account JD found on your computer - you know the one! Get here now, we are in -beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep."

"Ezra your machines got a real short answer space I can fix that if you want all I have to do is …what? Oh yeah me an' Buck are in the ER, we need a ride, and we need it now! Please Ez I'm too young to die and Buck says he's - beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep"

"This thing is getting on my nerves. Ezra I'm too handsome to die now, there are too many women who haven't met me yet, remember what I said about the account, get your butt in gear and get here!"


"The cell phone you are calling may be switched off, please leave a message."

"Got your message Josiah, I'm on my way I've got the video camera too, sounds like I might need it!"


"The cell phone you are calling may be switched off, please leave a message."

"Ok you have to turn it off in the hospital, if you get this don't let them leave, you hear me Josiah, don't let them leave till I get there."


"I cannot, or do not wish, to answer the telephone at this time. Please inform me of the nature of your call."

"Ezra your cell's switched off, did you get the message me and JD left you? We don't have enough cash for a cab, Ezra we need a lift before Chris gets…. too late….Buck! What did I tell you about … I'm scared … Get behind me kid …JD stop hiding I can see you, I told you two not to - beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep"

The End.


Number 2
One Big Family
Disclaimer: Not mine, never were never will be.
Note: Two small boys set out to record an answer machine message.


VIN> "Hello, this is the Larabee ranch, we can't …what?"
JD> "You said it wrong."
VIN> "No I didn't …okay, okay."


VIN> "Hello, this is the Larabee and Wilmington ranch, we can't …what? JD I can't hear you. Oh, alright, alright."


VIN> "Hello, this is the Larabee and Wilmington ranch, Chris and Buck and Vin and…"
JD> "JD!"
VIN> "Yes I know …and JD, can't come to the phone … What? Oh yes I guess you're right."


VIN> "Hello, this is the Larabee and Wilmington ranch, Chris and Buck and Vin and JD and Mrs Potter can't come to the phone …JD will you stop pullin' m' arm, what do ya want? No we don't hav' t' put them on as well."
JD> "'S not fair yer doin' all the talkin' I wanna have a go."
VIN> "But JD dog's an' horses don't get phone calls…"
JD> "I wanna, it's not fair…"
VIN> "Alright you can do it, don't cry, at the end, okay?"
JD> "'K."


Vin> "Hello, this is the Larabee and Wilmington ranch, Chris and Buck and Vin and JD and Mrs Potter."
JD> "And Sam and Pony and Peso and Beau …is that right?"
VIN> "Uh hur …can't come to the phone right now so please leave us a message."
JD> "You did it real good Vin."
VIN> "Thanks."


The End

By Enola (jennytork)


*You know what to do. So do it.* BEEEEEP!

"Chris, hey it's Buck. Got a lead on the Taggert case, need to talk to you ASAP. All righty, you know my number."


"Chris? JD. Hey have you seen Buck? Last I knew, he was trying to track you down and I was wondering if you'd seen him and... and... aw, hell, I'm worried. It's nearly seven, and you KNOW he's never late for Candy. She just called, looking for him. Call me, please?"


"Chris? Vin. Taggert's made Buck. We gotta move NOW. Please tell me you're back! Chris? ...Cowboy?... f****g hell...."


"Chris Larabee? This is Sarah Cole, Denver Memorial. We have an agent Wilmington in serious condition here and you're listed as his contact reference. Call us, please -- 555-1334. Thank you."


"Chris, where the F*** are you?"


"Chris, it's Nate. Buck's in ICU and he's not responding. Will you PLEASE pick up the damned PHONE!"


"Christopher Larabee if I find out you've been deliberately ignoring my calls, I swear I will rip your balls off and feed them to you by way of your ASS! PICK UP THE DAMNED PHONE ***NOW!!!!***"


"Chris? Josiah. The retreat's going wonderfully, and I'm assuming everything there is as well, since you're not answering the phone. I'll be back in Denver Sunday night. God be with you, brother."


"Chris, it's Nate again. Please, PLEASE, pick up the phone! Buck's calling for you and for Sarah and for --- G-d, Chris! Please!"


"Chris, Vin. On the off-chance you headed home and never got these messages till then, you and Ez need to get your asses down to the hospital RIGHT NOW. Buck's been shot and he's real bad off. *Sigh* You two picked a hell of a time to go jettin' off."


"Chris? It's Ezra. I'm calling from home and wanted to know if you got the same disturbing messages on your machine that I've been receiving on mine--- never mind, I just saw you pull up and you're beeping that damned horn. You did. *faintly* BE RIGHT DOWN! *back into the phone* When you check these messages, if I don't have a chance to tell you face to face, remember -- he'll be fine."


*raspy voice* "Chris?....Buck.... thanks, pal. Got here ... just in time."


After Hours  By TwylaJane

"You've reached the home of Chris Larabee please leave a message after the tone..."


"...'Ey Cowboy... sshit..." The phone clatters and the dial tone cuts in.

"You've reached the home of Chris Larabee please leave a message after the tone..."


A scraping sound comes across the telephone line and the call abruptly cut off.

"You've reached the home of Chris Larabee please leave a message after the tone..."


"... dammit..." The soft Texas drawl comes over the line.
"Por favor twehty de depósito cinco pesos..." A taped voice of a telephone operator cuts in.
"Yo Ez ya got some more of them coins?..."
"Por favor twehty de depósito cinco pesos..." The recorded message plays again as a muffled voice in the background interrupts.
"Mr. Tanner... let me..." the caller's voice is replaced by the steady dial tone.

"You've reached the home of Chris Larabee please leave a message after the tone... Vin and Ez tell me where the hell you are... never mind call me on my cell....."


"Now that was rude..." An indignant southern drawl huffed into the receiver.
"Play nice Ez, otherwise they won't come bail us out...."

Chris smiled as he replayed the message, he'd have to buy JD lunch for saving the digital message off his answering machine. He wasn't going to let those two live this little incident down.

Letter to the Judge  - By - NotTasha

Honorable Judge Orin Travis:

Dear sir, I am writing at this juncture in order to obtain funds to replace or repair personal items lost or damaged during a recent escapade in which I participated as part of my current occupation at the backwater town that I've been hired to protect.  One wool blazer, imported - blood stained, torn and soiled by one less-than-savory outlaw whom I managed to restrain after a Herculean scuffle.  Boots requiring professional care subsequent to scrabbling over rocky terrain after another of his kind who was intent on ending the life of one Mr. Dunne.  Trousers muddied by last ditch effort to cover Mr. Willington and save such from being driven through with a knife (my goal was accomplished at the sacrifice of personal belongings).  Costs associated with reblocking of hat which was crushed when outlaw of colossal size attempted to relocate my cranium (unsuccessful).   Ammunition - a considerable amount was expended.  Food and Sundries -- I do require a better standard of living than the others.  One Bag of Horse Feed and cost of re-shoeing - the journey to reach said outlaws was arduous and my steed required sustenance of the highest quality and replacements for his horseshoes at journey's end.  Gold Cufflinks, one recently acquired Watch and Fob and one Ruby Ring  required to bait the outlaws and draw them from their lair, after which the aforementioned altercation commenced.  Items disappeared and I was unable to locate them despite an intense but short-lived search, which was rudely broken off by another of our forces.  Medical Expenses associated with scratch received from scuffle mentioned previously. Please note total sum and reimburse poste haste.  

At your service, Mr. Ezra P. Standish 


Orin held the letter for another minute, rereading and smiling to himself before shaking his head and placing it carefully in the pigeonhole of his desk with the others.  'Prices have gone up since last time,' he thought.

(this idea came from me due to a story Eleanor T wrote, where she mentioned that Ezra sends these sorts of letters regularly to the good Judge, and I thought it was pretty fitting.)

By Katherine Lehman (kls70)

Chris Larabee quietly sipped his beer while suspiciously regarding the machine JD Dunne was playing with. He pursed his lips. He despised modern appliances. To his way of thinking, anything that lit up and smiled at you was not to be trusted. //Technology. Hah. Just more bullshit if you ask me.//

"Tell me again what this thing is?"

"An answering machine." JD answered, his tone clearly relaying his impatience, and exasperation. He'd already answered that question several times.

"And why do I need it?"

JD sighed heavily. "Because you are never home."

Chris glared at the younger Immortal. "I fail to see how this..." He pointed one finger toward the machine, "contraption will be of any benefit."

JD shot him a look of annoyance. "You really need to join the twentieth century, Chris. EVERYONE has an answering machine these days."

Chris snorted. "Vin doesn't have one."

"Does too. Got if for him last week."

Both Chris' eyebrows rose. "And he uses it?"

"Well, I set it up for him." JD answered before shrugging. "Showed him how to use it."

"Which doesn't mean he actually uses it." Chris pointed out.

Undaunted, JD continued. "I set up one for Josiah, and Nathan too. Buck got one the second they were invented. Didn't want to miss any o' his dates calling."

Chris glared, still not convinced. "Notice you didn't mention Ez having one."

JD rolled his eyes. "That's cause Ez has an answering service. He thinks talkin' to a machine is uncivilized."

Chris found himself agreeing whole-heartedly with that sentiment. Machines were not supposed to talk or be talked to. It was just plain eerie to have an inanimate object behave as if it were alive. There were days when he really, really missed the time period he was born in.

JD plugged the answering machine in. "Okay. All you need to do is record a message."


"Yes." JD huffed. "A message. So when people call they know they got your place."

Chris pursed his lips, thinking. He had no idea what the hell he was supposed to say. "What did you put on Vin's?"

"Well, since I know he ain't home, we can just call him." JD picked up the phone and began dialing. "Then you can hear it for yourself, and see how it works."

:Ring, ring, ring, Click:

"Tanner. Not home. Leave message."

Chris chuckled. "There some kind word limit on this thing?"

JD shook his head. "Nah. You know Vin. Just the way he is."

"Call Josiah's. Wanna hear what he said."

JD obligingly dialed again.

:Ring, ring, ring, Click:

"You have reached the residence of Josaih Sanchez. Please do not feel as though I am ignoring you, I am simply unable to answer the phone at this time. Your call is very important to me. Please leave your name, and number so that I may return your call at my earliest convience. Hopefully that time will be convenient for you as well. Until then, be well and happy."

Chris sighed. He wasn't leaving a message that damn long. Something longer than Vin's but shorter than Josiah's was what he needed. And he'd be damned if he was going to be nice about it.

Squaring his shoulders, Chris put his beer down, and approached the machine. "Okay. What do I have to do?"

"Just press this button, and talk. It'll record your message."

Chris touched tentatively touched the button JD had indicated. He spoke gruffly. "This is Larabee. I'm not here, so just leave a message. IF I feel like, I'll get back to you."

"See...was that so hard?" JD grinned.

Chris glared at him. This was absolutely the last thing he was going to have in his house that plugged in, lit up, or spoke. The younger immortal blithely ignored his look.

"I hear they are talking about making some kind of portable phone one of these days. Won't that be neat? And they are working on making computers smaller. Hear tell that everyone will have one in their house some day."

Chris hung his head. God, but he really, really missed the time period he was born in.

Please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions in regard to this site, or if you have a challenge story that you'd like to have listed (I think we're missing a few of the earlier stories).  Let us know if you find any broken links or anything else that's wonky.   Thanks for stopping by!

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