Thanksgiving 2012 – Writing Prompts Summary

by disperser

In March of this year I came across the blog A Side of Writing.

Part of what Conrad, the guy who writes the blog, offers up, are writing prompts.  Without knowing much about him or the blog, I started to write flash fiction in response to the prompts.  I liked writing them, and he liked reading them, so I continued.  

Since Dark Jade opened up Thanksgiving Day for us to write whatever we wanted, I collected all of my contributions to the prompts into one long . . . long . . . long post.  

Some will ignore it.  Some will enjoy it.  Others will hate it (prompting the question, “Why did they read it?”).  Whatever your situation, here they be, in chronological order.  They are as published on my blog, but they reference back to the original writing prompt on Conrad’s blog.  Some are quite small (5-10 minutes worth of writing).  Others are more involved, but still relatively short.  Some I corrected/tweaked, others I left as they were written.

With each, I purposefully skewed my interpretation of the prompt, to give it my own flair . . . and here, I did not even know I had flair.

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A prompt about interrogations.

We have ways of making you talk… (Writing Prompt #32)

“Do you love her?” My monotone concealed the tension; emotionally I was as a coiled cobra, ready, even willing, to strike.

“Yes sir, very much.”

Damn! I had hoped for some stalling, hesitation, or another excuse to pounce. But wait! I know the question to ask.

“How do you know?” I asked, narrowing my eyes, and willing them to appear as daggers piercing into his very soul.

“Because I think of her more than I think of myself; because she takes my breath away when I see her; because each minute we are apart is as if a giant shadow is cast on my world.” He paused . . . “How did you know your wife was your soulmate?”

Damn! For being only 18, this kid was good! Maybe he was The One, after all. I eyed him in silence for a few minutes. How long had it been since I had felt that kind of passion? Carried those same feelings for my wife? . . . about two minutes ago.

I stood, extended my hand, and as he shook my hand I said. “OK. You may have my daughter’s hand in marriage.”

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A prompt about trying to leave work.

Almost out of here! Time for the weekend! (Writing Prompt #33)

Scott watched the big hand slowly make its way to the twelve; the 11th, and last time, today he would watch that hand complete a revolution as it slowly, excruciatingly slow, marked the time of his daily sentence. Thinking there must be a better way to live, he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye.

The door . . . it was opening. There could only be one reason, and dread descended upon him like a raptor on a mouse; silent and swift. He had nowhere to hide, no escape, and as he watched his boss approach, he saw what would be an extension to his sentence . . . twelve of their popular metal inserts in need of some filing.

Because of the custom orders they received, they had to be done by hand. He hardly listened to his boss as he grabbed both the rasp and detail files he had just cleaned. God, how he hated filing.

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A prompt about seeing someone in the distance.

Figure in Landscape(Writing Prompt #35)

Out walking, I see him. Too far to see his soulless eyes, his pallid complexion, his humorless features, but I know it’s him. He is back in town; my town.

I consider taking a shot, but the distance is too great for my snub-nosed .357.

No hurry; I will find him. I will hunt him down like the animal he is, and reclaim the pen he stole from me.

My name? My name is Justice. My name is Vengeance.

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A prompt about breakfast. (note: I corrected a few things from the original)

Stopping off for breakfast (Writing Prompt #37)

Scott had just tied his bed-roll behind the saddle when he heard them. His hand drifted to rest on the handle of his Colt as he looked toward the approaching wagon.

His annoyance would never show on his near-wooden features, but he thought about the coffee that had just finished brewing . . . and the grits sitting there, waiting for his rumbling stomach to come a’calling.

A woman was driving the oxen, while two children walked beside the wagon, not fully appreciating the life-and-death way of the prairie.

“Howdy,” her voice was strong, ringing of confidence, “the name is Marcie. These here are Mary and James.”

“Howdy.” Scott replied, and offered no other encouragement toward conversation as he glanced at the kids climbing on the wagon.

“We got us a problem,” the woman stood, and he could see her gunbelt sported a holster with a pearl-handled Colt. “You’re camping on my land, and I don’t recall being asked for permission. I’ll be taking your breakfast as payment.” Marcie spit over the side of the wagon, and looked back at the tall stranger still standing behind the horse.

She registered the slight movement of his shoulder as he started his draw. Her own gun fired twice before Scott’s gun cleared his holster; one bullet for each eye.

Moments later Marcie and the kids were ladling out the grits in equal portions. Marcie sipped on the coffee, and then tasted the grits. “Men!” she thought, “They can’t cook worth a darn!”

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A prompt about getting a good night’s sleep.

What would you pay for a good night’s sleep?(Writing Prompt #38)

Nick had never understood addiction. Booze, cigarettes, women, drugs, he had tried them all, and never felt compelled to pursue any beyond the moment’s enjoyment.

“Not predisposed”, the doctors had said. They had explained the mechanism; mambo-jumbo regarding dopamine, receptors, DAT-something-or-other, but all Nick heard was blah-blah-blah.

Tonight he was attending a very private, and exclusive, party. A party with Dreamsleep. You had to be invited, and the entry fee was steep, but Nick had heard a lot about it, and curiosity got the better of him,

A couple of background checks and $15K later, and he was about to receive a text of where to meet. No one was told until the last minute, and everyone was paired with a stranger as another layer of security. With death as a punishment, Nick kept an eye on his partner to make sure he made no calls or signaled anyone of their destination. The text would come through a dedicated device, itself subject to felony arrest if caught with one. It was both a receiver, and following the text, a jammer for any would-be tracer a person might be carrying.

His device buzzed, immediately followed by that of his partner. They looked at the address, and walked toward the subway.

Thirty minutes later he entered a plush penthouse suite. He’d passed through layers of armed security; unsavory types who had no problem holding off any would be raid to give the guests time to escape. Not that any raid was forthcoming; the people who might order such a raid had been bought-off long ago.

Men and women in formal attire were mingling among the guests. Each carried glasses with little amber vials hanging from them. You broke the seal, poured the content in the water, and drank up. Nick did not waste any time, and did just that.

His winged horse, black as coal, shiny as polished glass, landed just in front of him, and waited. Nick adjusted his scabbard, and turned the jewel-crusted hilt of his sword so as not to interfere while mounting. A small hop was all that was needed as his muscular legs easily propelled him atop the 22 hands horse. As soon as he was on, the powerful wings started to beat, slowly lifting Nick and the horse. Nick grabbed the mane, and marveled at his chiseled forearms and strong hands.

In no time they were above the clouds, soaring through puffy canyons of suspended water. He swore he could hear music; a beat, keeping time with the powerful wing-beats of his horse. There, there she was . . . the white winged horse was on an intercept course, but at the last moment rose up and looped over and around him, ending up next to him. Fiona was such a show-off, but she had a right to be. Nick could hardly look at her without forgetting to breathe. Tall, strong, but well-proportioned, this was no fair maiden. She was a warrior as fierce as any of legend, and she carried two scimitars that interlaced behind her. Their ivory hilts were well worn, and showed the scars of many battle.

She did not; her skin was perfect, dark hues swirling in amazing contrast to the white of her horse.

They smiled at each other, and urged the horses to their destination.

He could smell the blood before he could see the battle field . . . there, a rag-tag army of peasants valiantly holding off the orderly lines of the King’s men. With a mighty yell, he and Fiona dove into the front lines, dismounting with swords in hands, and felling the bewildered Elite Guards of the king. It was short work . . . soon they broke and ran, the peasants shouting a cheer, and some giving pursuit.

He turned to Fiona, and grabbed her waist with his free arm. The blood made their bodies slide against each other, and the smell of it mingling with her scent was intoxicating. He leaned over for a kiss . . .

The man in the tuxedo was holding a portable charge card reader in front of him . . . Nick struggled to understand what he was saying.

” . . . half dose for $8K, or a full dose for $15K. Or is the gentleman done?”

Nick glanced at his watch, now fully awake and alert. He felt good . . . no, he felt excellent! Eight hours! He had slept eight hours. He now remembered the other dreams. Swimming with sharks, diving into Jupiter’s giant storm, surfing the rings of Saturn, majestically trampling prehistoric vegetation as a dinosaur.

And of course, there was Fiona . . .

“Full dose, please”, he said, handing over his credit card. Even as he said it, he told himself it was just one more, to say goodbye to Fiona.

Almost without realizing it, he did a quick mental calculation . . . he had enough for a month. After that, he would figure something out.

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A prompt about incorporating a known lullaby into a story.

Not your mother’s lullabys (Writing Prompt #39)

The Hunter

Denise softly closed the bedroom door, and made her way to the kitchen.  The bottle of wine sat open next to the two Waterford Crystal wine goblets.  She poured wine in each, carefully measuring out equal portions.  She capped the bottle, grabbed the glasses, and made her way out to the deck.

She sat both glasses on the table, pulled the ottoman close, and sat on the Adirondack chair.  The other chair sat empty, unused now for nearly five years.  She swung her legs over the ottoman, and leaned back.  The angle was right, and she could see it as clear as if it were hanging on the deck itself.

She grabbed one of the glasses, and tipping it slightly she clinked it to the other.  “To us!” she said softly.  She drank as she looked up.  Then gently put the glass down, and folded her arms against the chill.

Five years before she had picked up the phone to hear her husband’s labored breath at the other end.

“George! Are you alright?  Where are you?”

“Hey, hon . . . I’m hurt . . . truck hit me . . . “

“George!  George!  Answer me!  Where are you?!”

“. . . I’m here . . . I’m trapped.  Firemen on their way, but  . . . I’m hurt bad hon.”

“I’ll come right . . . “

“NO! . . . no . . . walk outside . . . “

“I don’t understand . . . “  she was looking for her car keys.

“Please, hon . . .  just go out on the deck . . . please.”

His voice was softer.  Denise walked out, tears blurring her vision.  “I’m on the deck,” she said.

George coughed once, then said “Look up.  . . . Do you see it?  The Hunter, Orion?”

Denise wiped her eyes to clear her vision.  “Yes,” she answered, “I see it.”

“I’m looking at it as well . . . I’ll always love you . . . “  those had been his last words.

Denise eyes had closed at the memory, and as Betelgeuse twinkled above her in silent vigil, she drifted off to sleep.

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A prompt about rescheduling a meeting

Writing Prompt #40 What do you do when your meeting gets rescheduled?

Maybe Next Time

The President waited for the translator to finish.

“What do you mean ‘reschedule’? Most of the world’s leaders are here to meet him!”

The emissary looked uncomfortable as the message was relayed back, then it was the President’s turn to wait as the reply once again came through the translator.

“I’m sorry, but Grfthh Hrrgajr was called away on a pressing matter.” The translator paused to listen for additional information from the emissary.

“Grfthh Hrrgajr will come this way again in 860 of your years.”

With that, both the translator and emissary turned and made their way up the ramp, and into the shuttle. In moments it shot up toward the orbiting mother-ship.

The world’s leaders looked at each other in stunned silence.

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A prompt about coming up with a tag-line for your protagonist.

Writing Prompt #41 Tag you’re it… What is your character’s tagline?

The Gift

“No, you can’t. Dinner is in one hour.”

“Well, if not ice cream, how about a popsicle? They’re mostly water.”

“No; that’s too much sugar. Have a glass of water; that will tide you over.”

“OK, I can have water, but can I have a couple of cookies to go with it?”

“Billy, stop asking for food before dinner! It will ruin your appetite.”

“We eat bread while we wait for our order at the restaurant. Why is it different at home?”

“Do you want a piece of bread?”

“I suppose . . . can I have the cinnamon-raisin bread?”

“Wheat. I can give you half a slice of wheat bread.”

“Can I have peanut butter on it?”

“No; just plain wheat bread.”

“How about a little butter, just like at the restaurant?”

“OK! Fine. Give me a minute, and I’ll make it for you.”

William The Nagger smiled. He liked this game. He was good at it.

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A prompt about a dentist visit.

Writing Prompt #42 Waiting at the dentist

Pearly Threats

Eric was torn.

On the one hand, it was the opportunity of a lifetime; the opportunity to advance human progress by hundreds of years. On another hand, this would be painful, and would impact many facets of his life.

The Lirolei had a genetic phobia of them, and as ambassador from Earth he could not effectively perform his duties if they saw him as a threat.

“Pull them all, every last tooth!” He finally said while leaning back into the dentist’s chair.

As he drifted off, a funny thought crossed his mind . . . his bark would be worse than his bite.

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A prompt about . . . well, it’s self-evident.  One little tidbit for them who might not know it. Much of what I write, I write for my wife.  Maybe not directly, maybe not overtly, but nearly every story I write, I think of her.  Or think about how she will like it.  If she will like it.  It tinges, as the story implies, everything I do.

Writing Prompt #43 The colors of your world

The Grey and The Color

The Grey . . . Ed could barely stand it! Everything he looked at was tinged with it. Red turned into dark gray, yellow to very light grey, most other colors blending into each other as shades in between.

He walked with his gaze fixed to the concrete before him. It looked normal, since it was always grey. For a moment, it let him forget the lack of life that surrounded him. But, eventually he would have to look up. Buildings, cars, people . . . nothing but shades of gray, literally sucking the joy out of him, what little he had left.

Ed’s heart beat a little faster at the memory from what seemed eons ago. He, softly closing the door as he left. She, asleep next to the still-warm spot he had occupied. He hated to do it, but he could not do otherwise . . . the time had come for him to go. She would wake to an empty bed, and empty house.

He looked up one more time . . . and then he saw it. A spark of color; intense, almost burning, chasing the gray away even as he watched, his heart soaring at the sight. Suddenly the world seemed to explode with color; the dull was pushed back, the light of thousands of colors chasing it from memory.

His face broke into a smile, as it always did when he saw her . . . the color in his life.

“Hi, hon.” She said. “How was work?”

“You know,” Ed answered, “if they did not pay me for it, I would not do it.” She smiled at the old joke.

“Sorry about leaving early this morning,” Ed continued, “but I had a report to finish. Hope I did not wake you when I left.”

“I was awake.” She replied. “I can’t sleep when you’re not there. Even after, it’s as if the color goes out of my life, you know?”

“Yes.” he replied, smiling. “Yes, I do.”

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A prompt about the joy and apprehension of changing jobs.  Except, I channeled the day when my business partner and I had closed the doors of the business we owned.  Of course, it did not work out like I thought.  Life never does.

Writing Prompt #44 Changing job… what a scary prospect

The Change

Ed took one last tour of the office, the emptiness amplifying his footsteps into a faint echo. As he passed each room, he remembered the people who had occupied them. Friends. After traveling the same road for so long, it was strange to think them as traveling different paths.

There was sadness, but relief as well. Their futures were dependent on someone other than Ed. He had not realized just how much that burden had weighed on him.

He closed the office door one last time, and left the building. Outside he stopped to look around; he was sure he would not step into this parking lot, nor see these surroundings, ever again. He looked up . . . a flock of birds were flying South, their formation an arrowhead pointing to destination unknown.

He had no arrow to point his way. No one was seeking him out, as they did when he graduated from college. Worse yet, he did not feel the drive he did back then . . . he was tired, his mind completely blank.

Many had asked about his plans; he had no answer . . . when you can do anything, you tend to do nothing. If there are no demands, if there is no drive, one is hard-pressed to take that first step onto a new path . . . impossible, even, when one cannot see any path to step into.

A body at rest tends to remain at rest until an outside force acts upon it . . . he was the body at rest, with no forces in sight.

. . . photography, writing, reading, music, exercise, travel, and many more interests had each looked like holy grails for his retirement . . . they still were, but not yet.

Right now he would savor the lack of a schedule. He would let himself forget the name of each day, and the time within each day. Bedtime would be when he tired, and waking would not be from any alarm other than the one inside him.

A realization hit him . . . he was free from the shackles of a schedule. A momentary panic was followed by a strange elation; it grew from within, spreading from his very core, and finally pulling the corners of his mouth into a shit-faced grin.

He took off his watch, and put it in his pocket. From now on, he would be the master, and time would bow to his bidding, serve at his pleasure, and no longer rule is life.

Nice.

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A prompt about having only one hour to get out of town.  This happened to coincide with the availability of a full lunch hour at work.  Hence, it’s a tad longer than most.

Also, there was a mistake, and two prompts had the same number, 44.  They link to different posts, if anyone is interested.

Writing Prompt #44 One hour to get out of town…

Ganged Up

It happened again . . . different city, same story.

He had moved from L. A. because of this very thing . . . the exact same thing. And now it was happening here all over again.

The first day here, he had noticed the gangs. He saw the drug deals going down, money exchanging hands, the shake-downs of the local merchants, the casual way the gangs pushed people around, secure in their complete control of the neighborhood.

He minded his own business.

Then it happened. A puppy ran off from its inattentive owner. The owner, a young girl just shy of her teens, ran after it, but stopped short when she noticed where the puppy was headed. The puppy thought it a game, and ran on, stopping just short of the five young men loitering at the edge of the playground.

The puppy looked up, tail wagging, stepping from one leg to the other as it looked at the men. One of them threw a can at it. It was not a playful throw, and the can was not empty. The puppy moved too slow, and the can caught it on the hind leg.

Letting go of a surprised yap, it jumped aside, eyeing the can with some resentment. Another young man walked up behind it, and kicked it to send it sprawling some ten feet. All the young men laughed, even as Joel walked up to the puppy. It had struggled on its feet, and tried to get away as Joel picked it up. Joel checked for broken ribs and bones. It had been more of a push than a kick, and the puppy seemed shaken, but unhurt.

The five approached Joel.

“Hey, man; we want our dog back!” Said the one with the most tattoos.

“Not your dog.” Joel replied, as he continued stroking the puppy. He did not look at them.

Tattoo-guy motioned to one of the others. The man approached and made to grab the dog from Joel. A second later he was on his ass, on the ground, nose bleeding. He had not seen Joel move. Hell, the others hardly registered Joel’s palm driving the nose cartilage into the cavity behind it.

A few seconds passed. Tattoo-guy recovered first. He took two steps toward Joel, leveling his gun at the impertinent fool as he did so. The impertinent fool reached out, twisted the gun from his hand, and used it to dislocate Tattoo-guy’s jaw. Before the others moved, the gun was pointed in the general direction of the others.

“You should get your friends, and leave.” Joel’s tone held no edge. He still held the puppy, and his features were as relaxed as his stance.

The other three helped their fallen comrades up, and shuffled off, all the while yelling vague threats of retribution.

Joel walked back to the girl, and handed her her puppy. “You should keep him on a leash,” he said with a smile.

“Mister,” said the girl, “they will come after you for what you did!”

Some of the people who had witnessed the events came over.

“You know what you did?” Asked one. “They’re going to tear this block apart to save face! We’re all going to suffer because of you!” The man was visibly shaken, and kept looking toward where the gang members had retreated.

Joel looked at the worried faces. “I don’t think so.” He turned and headed back to his apartment.

As the sun set, Joel got ready. Machete, tomahawk, Taurus Judge loaded with .410 buckshot, his two .45, and six clips. As darkness spilled deep shadows around the buildings, he headed out.

They all heard it. Shooting, some close, some far away. Sometimes, a scream. It lasted all night. The cops were called, but cops did not venture into this territory at night. Come dawn they would be there in force, but for now they stayed away.

Joel returned to his apartment a few hours before dawn. He had counted 47. Two he let live . . . word would spread; stay away from the dead zone, or it would spread.

He looked at the clock. The cops would be here by dawn. He had an hour to leave town. More than he usually had. He headed toward the shower. As he did, Joel grabbed his little notebook. He crossed off a name, and looked at the next one. Cleveland. Sounded like a nice place. Lots of gangs there . . .

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A prompt about hooking the reader.  I got some flack for this, primarily because of what appears as unwarranted violence.  It turns out I had, and still have, an idea to expand this story, but the prompt was to hook the reader.  

Writing Prompt #56: Where is your hook matey?

The torn shirt and exposed shoulder drew Nick’s eyes. More important, the visible machinery beneath the torn skin had Nick miss her plea.

“Pardon?” He asked, lifting his eyes to her perfectly formed face.

“Please, help me.” The flat voice contrasted the intent of the plea.

She turned as a car braked hard to stop just short of Nick’s garage. Standing at his front door, Nick could only see two of the three men who got out. The girl, or whatever it was, backed against the wall to the side the door frame, speaking another “Please” as she did so.

The third man came into view, and advanced toward machine-girl, reaching a hand out as he did so.

“Please step back, sir. We’re from the government.” His words were practiced, and he hardly gave Nick any consideration.

The man’s hand grabbed the girl’s elbow, and pulled. She resisted. With obvious anger and a snarl, he pulled her roughly from the wall. Nick noticed one of her nails broke against the wall she was trying to hold on to.

“Let her go.” Nick spoke calmly.

The man turned toward him. “This does not concern you, old man. Get back in the house.”

The other two men were reaching inside their jackets. Nick was faster. The Ruger Alaskan, the gun he carried on hikes, appeared in his hand. “Don’t!” he said, as he pointed it in their direction.

The man let go of the girl, who dropped to the ground. “You are making a big mistake!” His voice was almost a growl, and Nick could tell he was judging the distance between them.

“Maybe, but you are on my property, showed me no badges, and are assaulting my guest.” Nick had moved slightly back and to the side. He could see all three men, and they were all tense. Understandable, given the cannon pointed their way. “I’m within my rights to shoot you right now”.

The man relaxed a bit, and stood straight. “I don’t know who you are, but as of this moment you’re a dead man.”

The three shots echoed against the hillside, the sound dispersing in the trees. Only one set of human ears heard the echo fade away. “Not by your hand.” Nick’s words were spoken almost with regret, but his face showed no emotion.

He turned to the girl, now standing. Her face too showed no emotion.

“What’s your name?” Nick asked.

“Prototype G-1A”

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A prompt about . . . oh, another self-evident promt.

Writing Prompt #57 Interview with your imaginary friend

“Tsk-tsk! Fifty-nine, and what have you accomplished?  How about this year?  Anything? . . . this week?”

“F**k-off”

“Oh, touchy, aren’t we?  Is it because you’ve gained weight, or because every day that goes by, yet another great plan gathers cobwebs?”

“Look, I’m busy.  Besides, I’ll get in shape . . . eventually.  And I am posting stuff at least once a week.”

“Oh, sure . . . eventually.  And what did you post this week?  A few photos?  What, did you pass them off as involving work?  Come on!  We both know it was a few seconds with the camera, minimal processing, and a half-ass attempt at clever writing!”

“People seem to like them.”

“They are being polite.  Your stuff has been as sterile as . . . can’t think of anything clever, but it’s sterile.”

“Don’t you have something better to do?  How am I supposed to accomplish anything with you badgering me?”

“Don’t use me as an excuse!  . . . and what are you working on accomplishing?  Don’t tell me . . . fleshing out any one of those hundred of great ideas for short stories and novels.  You know, the ones that have yet to see word one put to paper.  Oh, wait, wait . . . all those neat photograph ideas!”

“I don’t use paper any more.”

“Asshole.  You can pass that smart-alek stuff on others, but we both know it’s just a stalling tactic.  What’s the matter?  Too insecure to face facts?”

“Look, I don’t want to do this now.  And you could help sometime, you know?  I would love to hear even a little praise, something to boost my confidence, give me some drive to go to the next level.”

“The next level?!?!  I got news for you buddy; you’re barely on this level.  Smoke and mirrors, is all I see.”

“OK, I get it! . . . I know it hasn’t worked out as I hoped, and I know it’s because hopes don’t count for squat if not pushed by actions.  . . . I’m tired, and yes, a little disgusted with myself.  I know I could have accomplished more, and I know I can be doing more than I’m currently doing.  But what’s the use?  People don’t care; they have their own lives to live, their own interests to focus on.  Besides, you know all that stuff I flesh out . . . I like it.  It keeps me occupied, and if no one ever sees any of it, I’ll still derive pleasure from thinking about it.”

“Sounds like you are talking yourself into mental retirement.”

“Maybe . . . we both know I do better with deadlines, or a challenge . . . even a writing prompt.”

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A prompt about imagining thoughts carried like seeds, in the wind, and affecting those they landed on.  I chose to assume it would be good thoughts, but it could have been written the other way as well.

Writing Prompt #61: Thoughts like dandelion fluff

Joe’s mood had not improved with the two beers he had downed. Stopping at the bar was a reflex action, and no longer served to calm him.

That bastard supervisor had it in for him, and it was all he could do to keep from hitting him. It would not do to lose this job as well; money was tight, and he saw the way Angie looked at him. It made him mad, the anger overpowering the shame of having failed as a provider.

. . . his eyes defocused for a moment, his mind wishing, almost wanting it to be different. He kept promising he would stay his hand, but something always drove him over the top. And when he did let go, when flesh met flesh and left bruises . . . Damn it! He deserved better!! He saw others, what they had, and it made him angry he had to work so hard for what was seemingly handed to others on a platter.

He pulled into the drive. She had left the door open, and his irritation magnified into full-blown anger.

He slammed the car door shut, and stepped inside the house. Two suitcases sat in the foyer, Angie hastily trying to remove her coat. He took a purposeful step toward her, hand already raised, just as the fragile seed that had floated in through the open door settled on his neck.

His hand raised, he saw her . . . she cowered against the corner, her arm up. He really saw her. Her head downcast, but her frightened eyes focused on his fist, tears beginning to form in their corners. One eye had the faint remains of a bruise.

“She slipped and hit a chair.” they had told the neighbors.

He saw the bruises on her arms, the welt on her calf.

He really saw her. His Angie. He loved her more than life itself. What had he done?

He lowered his arm, and reached out, even as she made herself smaller against the corner. His own eyes misting, he slowly reached around her, and sobbing, he hugged her. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he softly murmured as he held her gently.

He could feel the tension in her body. He rocked gently, and said “No more.” And it was so.

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The prompt: “Write a story where for 24 hours anyone that dies rises within an hour or so. And those newly risen dead people aren’t very happy and want to beat anything living to death.”

This was a Halloween prompt.  I liked the prompt, but carried it a bit further.

Writing Prompt #62: Stop… zombie time

The Mission

She screamed. Or tried to. Dirt pressed in on her, and something heavy was sitting on her chest. She willed her arm to move, and slowly forced it through the soil.

Slowly, but she got it almost vertical before the dirt gave way fully, and she felt cool air on her hand and wrist. She brought the other arm up as well, and with both free, she pulled herself up, the heavy rocks that were holding her down now rolling to a stop a few feet away. It was nearly dusk, the shadows chasing light away from the treed area surrounding her.

She stood, looked down, and screamed again. Or tried to. An unfamiliar wail rose from somewhere within her. It escaped from her throat, which she grabbed with both hands. She had screamed because of the cut on her chest; a deep cut, showing the bones of her rib-cage, some broken and at odd angles.

Now she wailed again, as a few of her fingers went past the boundaries of her throat, and into the cut that spanned a quarter of her neck.

She remembered. He had grabbed her as she walked home from her friend’s house. He had pushed her into the woods. He . . . she wailed again. She cried, but no tears flowed from her unblinking eyes. Standing there, shaking, she was slowly flooded with anger. Her memory now included a face . . . that of her neighbor, around the block from her house.

She fell to her knees, near the rocks that had held her down, and without realizing it, she picked one up, smashed it onto another rock, shattering both into pieces. She grabbed another, and did the same. And then another.

She stopped, her hand holding a rock high above her. She lowered her arm, and used the other arm to get up. She turned toward the familiar power lines that bordered the edge of the subdivision where she lived. Had lived.

One foot, then another, shuffled toward what used to be home. But that was not her destination. She gripped the rock tighter; she had a mission.

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This prompt was about writing a villain that is not a traditional villain.  Someone you would not think is a villain, but nonetheless does criminal things.

I had written this stopping before the words “Hey, Slick!”  Did I mention I write for my wife.  She did not like the story as written because it did not end well for the protagonist.   I then added the second part.  I only copy this revised version here since the original is contained within it.

Writing Prompt #64: The Good, The Bad and The Downright Criminal

Criminal – Redux

Bill looked at his paycheck. He mentally added the bills he had written checks for last night. $80; there would be $80 dollars left over. That was the third surplus in the last four checks, but more important, the debt that had strangled his family was nearly wiped out. They would be able to to save a bit of money, perhaps even splurge.

Maggie had wanted new shoes, and Allan definitively needed a new coat for the winter. And he really should get something for Julie, his wife. She worked hard at her second job, just like he did, to get them back on their feet. Perhaps a weekend without the kids, somewhere up the coast.

Bill reached his car. His good mood evaporated when the car’s engine did not turn over. Getting out, he mentally checked off the maintenance he had let slip on the car. Nothing major. He had taken care of all the stuff needed to keep the car running.

He opened the hood, and peered in the engine compartment. Modern cars . . . not much to check. He looked at the battery, and grabbed one of the leads to jiggle it. The port came loose, spraying acid on his hand and arm. One drop found its way to the corner of his eye.

The angel, unobserved, watched the man fall to the ground. The time off from work and medical bills would ensure he and his family would see difficult times ahead. For good measure, the angel waved his hand, and fused one of the cylinders to the engine block. It had not kept up with the current rates, but last it remembered, that would run multiple thousands to fix. They might even have to scrap the car altogether. It smiled.

This had been an easy one. It checked the list; the next assignment looked a tad more difficult. It studied the file. The young daughter . . . some rare disease, perhaps?

“Hey!  Slick!”  The voice was low, and sounded like gravel going through a wooden trough. 

The angel looked back at the ordinary-looking man standing not ten feet away.  He then noticed Bill, a few people helping him up.  There were no burns on his arm, and his eye seemed fine.

“Who are you, and how dare you interfere with me?!”  A glow formed around the angel.  A glow that swirled and snapped, like an angry animal.

“Well, slick, I’m someone who is tired of taking the blame for the stuff you guys do.”  As he spoke, the ordinary-looking man’s features slowly changed, his stature growing.  

The angel looked away from the figure as he heard a car’s engine turn over.  Bill, a terrified look in his face, was frantically trying to put the car in gear, and once he managed it, he took off.  The angel raised its hand . . . but a clawed hand wrapped around its wrist before the angel could swerve the car into the concrete pylon.

“No.” It was not yelled.  Just spoken with a finality that caused the angel to snap its head back to the figure, now towering and dark.

Angry, the angel gathered its strength, light swirling about him, pulsating with great brightness.  The light had no effect on the dark shape.  The other clawed hand reached out, and as the angel incredulously watched, it buried itself in the angel’s chest.  The hand closed, and the light and angel both ceased to be.

The dark shape dissolved, leaving behind an ordinary-looking man.  The six figures that had helped Bill now approached, stopping in a semi-circle as the ordinary-looking man turned toward them. 

“So it begins.” 

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So, here we are.  All the writing prompts collected in one post.  Remember, I never said they were good.  I just said they were quick.

Don’t know if this brightened anyone’s Thanksgiving, but I sure hope so.  Happy Beginning of the Holiday Season!!

ejd (disperser)

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