Weekend Writing Challenge: Take your fiction to the skies (and win some books)

After spending some time in New York with the awesome John Moir—the writer who won our 78th Annual Writing Competition—and dropping by The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times and Audubon, I’ve landed back at WD headquarters. (More details on that to come, plus some of John’s insights on meeting with editors.)

But, before arriving home, I had to hit the skies. Hard. Most people who know me (or have had the entertaining experience of flying with me) are well aware that even though I’m constantly doing it, I hate flying and maintain a hearty nervousness, not to mention a vice grip on whatever magazine or books is unlucky enough to be in my possession, for the duration of the flight.

This time around, my irrational aviation fear was on high alert as I waited to board the plane and watched a spectacularly apocalyptic lightning theater roll toward the city. Trapped on the runway in a stuffy plane for a few hours while Mordor came and went, I eventually escaped into a series of plane-infused prompts, one of which follows below.

When I arrived back at the office, I couldn’t help but notice the towering stacks of books at my desk. They feature everything from writing texts to fantasy novels to literary fiction, and before they fell me, I think it’s high time for a Promptly swag giveaway. Post a response to the prompt below any time between now and next Friday, and I’ll pick four random writers next week to each win five books and a copy of the latest issue of WD magazine.

Happy (jet-free) weekend! (And a special thanks to Jessica Strawser for holding down the Promptly fort.)

* * *

Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
(If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, please feel
free to e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at
writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.)

Write a story that takes place somewhere extremely high—space, an airplane, a tower—but that features two characters doing the lowest things for what they believe is a worthy cause.



Why not award your writing with some fresh fuel? Save big with these great new bundles of books to help you one your craft:

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11 thoughts on “Weekend Writing Challenge: Take your fiction to the skies (and win some books)

  1. Reggie Manning

    ‘Tower 2’

    Tower guard in Afghanistan was painful when you knew you weren’t qualified to be there. I was Air Force but attached to an Army infantry division. Some over paid suit in congress thought it would be cute to get the Air Force involved in combative operations alongside with the Army. Avoiding pointless G.I. Joe action was the main reason I joined the Air Force. Now here I was, choked with irony, sitting in a fifty foot tower staring into the night beside an overly anxious to kill Army soldier.
    "Get on the radio!" He said in a loud panicking whisper. I stood up to see what he was referring to, and panic swept me off my feet like drunken charm. There were a group of men, well judging from their height and animated agility, teenagers, climbing over our camps fence. I was nervous and fumbled for the radio.
    "Call it in!" Enriquez shouted.
    "S.O.G., this is tower two, over." I waited for a response before I began; none came.
    "S.O.G, this tower two. We have a group of kids climbing the fence.” I could tell Enriquez was becoming impatient.
    "This is life or death!" I frowned at Enriquez’s choice of wording.
    "That fool is probably sleep! We have to take matters in our own hands!" Enriquez said as he charged the machine gun. Without thought I leaped towards him and moved his hand away from the trigger. He looked up at me with a puzzled look.
    The most important briefing we received was the one on Rules of Engagement. This preached on the negativity of war crimes. Basically the worst thing you could do in this situation is ‘take matters into your own hands’, especially if that involved an unauthorized slaughter of mischievous kids.
    "What are you doing? This isn’t training. There is no pass or fail here!" Enriquez ministered his Army jargon.
    "Those are just kids man! Kids! We can’t open fire on unarmed teenagers." I pleaded.
    "Kids? You think bullets know age? You think that the trigger has a security mechanism that requires a birth date like a porn site? No" Enriquez shoved me back and refocused on his task. I tried S.O.G. again received nothing. There was nobody to stop Enriquez. I put my hand on his shoulder to try and get him to wait a second; hopefully S.O.G. would wake up in time, but Enriquez snapped and grabbed me like he demanded lunch money.
    "Look you coward, you can climb down the tower and go stop the kids with verbal kindness if you want; just beware that I’m shooting. I’m not dying here because some Air Force vagina has a heart…" thankfully Enriquez was cut off by S.O.G’s sluggish voice.
    "Tower two, this is S.O.G. you do not have authorization. I repeat, do not fire!" I was saved, well not me, the lives of a group of daring kids were. I will never forget the look in Enriquez’s eyes as he released my collar.

  2. Adam Sparrowhawk

    James sank to the couch of his eighth-floor apartment. A flick of a button and the TV leapt into life, as if it had been waiting eagerly to tell him the day’s news.

    At that moment, the news was a political rally a little under a mile from the city.

    On the television screen, thousands of faceless, mindless drones of people cheered and screamed and waved banners at the rectangular podium in front of them, laden with red and blue – dutifully patriotic and ironic. Meanwhile, atop the podium, Senator Samuel Taylor strode back and forth, fist raised, notes forgotten. His speech was unbridled passion. Completely spontaneous, but still everything the crowd wanted to hear.

    Because all they wanted to hear was Change.

    The current president was well-liked, but no matter how popular the leader, there were always people that wanted Change. Thought it was needed, regardless of how things were, or would be if they were just left alone. Taylor represented these people. Represented the people that would follow any leader as long as he wasn’t the leader they already had.

    James allowed himself a brief smile as the camera panned around and his apartment building came into view in the background. He moved to the window and looked out, careful not to upset the delicate equipment resting on the windowsill. Leaning down, his hands shaking slightly, James focused on the cluster of people gathered around the podium some nine hundred metres away. Taylor’s figure stood out plainly against the red and blue of the podium.
    * * *
    Arms held high, feet wide apart, Taylor bellowed the end of his half-improvised speech into the crowd of blind followers. He towered over them and rejoiced in the silent moment – the millisecond before their cheers erupted anew – when their awestruck faces stared up at him, blankly, not knowing how to respond to his accusations and promises.

    In that brief instant, Taylor knew they were his to be shaped and sculpted. Knew that they would carry him as far as he needed to go. Knew that they would be the ones to speak out when his manipulation became apparent.

    But what did that matter? He didn’t need to be a popular ruler; he just needed to be a ruler.

    Everything would change when he reached power. But that was exactly what they wanted, wasn’t it? Change.

    As his advisors moved in, crowding around him to protect him from the adoring masses swarming below them, the tiniest flash of light exploded at the top of a building far behind them. The senator did not hear the sound that accompanied it, or feel the impact. He merely watched in mild confusion and horror as his followers so far below seemed to suddenly soar upwards to crash against him.

    * * *

    On the screen of James’ television, Samuel Taylor was thrown forward, a trail of blood following his flight through the air. The cheering finished abruptly and chaos broke out among the crowd.

  3. Laura M. Campbell

    "A Heartfelt Lie"

    “You want to lie to her?” Delaney asked.

    “Did you tell her where to meet us?” asked Ida.

    Frustration building, Delaney looks at two rock climbers grabbing equipment out of the trunk of their car. They make their way through the gravel parking lot to the state park.

    “Yeah, she’s hiked here enough times, Mom. You’re avoiding the question.”

    “Listen, I don’t want to lie to her, but the past year caused a tremendous amount of stress, and she’s falling apart.”

    Delaney silently walked next to her mom, stopping at the overlook at the end of the path. A lone climber secured his ropes.

    “This is one of Mallory’s favorite places to come. The green goes on forever, and you can hear the Tohikon winding through the trees,” Ida said.

    “She’s doing better. She is meeting us here, isn’t she?”

    “Oh, honey. Of course she’s doing better. She’s off in the summer.

    “You honestly think she’ll believe you’re having a hysterectomy?”

    “Well, I plan to say abnormal cells were found during my recent gyno visit. Then, at the follow-up, they discovered it was a tumor.”


    “I’m going to tell her the surgery is scheduled for the end of August.”

    “Have you lost your mind?”

    “She’s my baby. I won’t see her in pain.”

    “I know Mallory is struggling right now. Lying is not the solution.”

    Delaney leans over the fence as she watches another set of climbers ascend the cliff. In the fight against gravity, one slips. The climber takes her time regaining her grip.

    “Your sister would do anything for this family. She’ll understand you need to be home with your husband and daughter, and come home to take care of me.”

    Delaney throws her hands up in irritation, “Oh, yes, recovery for a nonexistent surgery. What do you think she’s going to do once she finds out your surgery’s been canceled due to a miraculous recovery or worse, that we lied to her?”

    Ida’s nervousness whips her towards the parking lot, looking for Mallory. “Keep it down. She’ll lose her mind if we don’t help.”

    “Shouldn’t Mallory reach this conclusion on her own?

    “What time did you tell her to meet us?” Mom asked looking towards the parking lot again.

    “You are unbelievable. If she found out that you lied about the surgery just to get her to quit her job, she would never forgive us.”

    Gripping the fence, she stares back down at the rock climbers. They continue to cheer each other on; they’ve almost made it to the top.

    “It’s for her own good.”

    “She hasn’t asked for help. She needs to learn how to pick herself back up.”

    “Do you love your sister?”

    “What is wrong with you? Of course I do.”

    “Well, I need you to make up your mind. Here she comes.”

    As Delaney waves to her little sister, the rock climbers reach the top. She thinks for a moment as Mallory walks towards them. She’s made her decision.

  4. Erin Miller

    Gavin’s butt was numb. He shifted as much as space allowed, igniting an attack of pins and needles. “Pain in the ass,” he muttered.

    “Did you say something?” Jen perched with her back toward Gavin. Her jutting elbows said the binoculars were still glued to her eyes. “Oh, did you see that? I think that was a red…a red something or other.” One hand came loose from the field glasses and flapped over their rucksack. “Look it up in the birdwatching guidebook, Gavin. It was small and reddish.”

    “That should help narrow it down.”

    Jen tacked a growl of disapproval onto her exhale. “You’re not even trying.”

    “You have got to be joking,” Gavin said. “For the last two days, I’ve been sitting on a postage stamp of wood at the top of a damned pole.” He repositioned himself again and winced. “And I dare you to tell me I wasn’t trying when you’re taking the splinters out of my—”

    Jen gasped. “Eww, I will so not be doing that.”

    “You know, of all the crazy ideas you’ve had, this one is the worst. Really. The worst. And that’s saying something.”

    “Crazy ideas?” Jen’s hair whipped back over her shoulders as she twisted to face Gavin. “That’s what you call my ingenuity?”

    “Aw, come on, Jen. You have to admit—”

    “At least I’ve generated a few ideas. I don’t recall you coming up with anything.”

    “I was the one who said we should get married. That was an idea.”

    “That was six months ago. You’re overdue for another one.”

    “One good big idea in six months trumps four screwy schemes.”

    “I’m starting to think getting married isn’t such a good idea after all.”

    “Okay, okay. Look, I’m trying.” Gavin sat up straighter and peered past the other couples in crow’s nests of their own. “Is that…? No, it can’t be!”

    “What?” Jen leaned forward, following his line of sight.

    “It is! It’s a blue something or other.”

    Jen slapped Gavin on the side of his arm. “I hate you.”

    “Sorry,” he chuckled.

    Jen scowled. “Pull it together. We came so close at the Win-a-Wedding contest last month. If you’d just kept your hand against the wall for another six hours—”

    “It’s not like I let go on purpose. I passed out.”

    “That’s no excuse. You—” A fat droplet of water splashed onto Jen’s face. She looked up at the darkening skies. “Crap!” Jen dove forward, rummaged in the backpack, and withdrew two bright yellow wads. “Here.” She thrust one at Gavin as she shook hers out into a flimsy poncho.

    Gavin wrestled the plastic rainwear over his head. “Hey, maybe we’ll get lucky with this pole-sitting contest.”

    Jen smiled. “You think we could win the honeymoon in the Sahara?”

    “No, I think we’ll be struck by lightning and get to end this gig.”

  5. Mark James

    Zac, planes are big. . and scary. . and how does all that metal fly through the sky, anyway?

    Top of the New World Trade Center, December 31, 2011, two minutes to midnight . . .

    Jason knew the thousands below him weren’t willing to pay the price for what would come. He’d trained most of his life to design the ball that hung a mile above. He knew every circuit, every bulb that would light up and spell ‘peace’. The wind blew echoes around his ears, but not loud enough for him to miss the scuffle of steps behind him. He spun around.

    “No,” he said. “You can’t be here.”

    “But I am,” Michael said. “And you’re going to Hell.”

    Jason had trained all his adult life to be a scientist. “You’re a delusion,” he said quietly. “Angels don’t exist. And even if they did,” he swept his eyes up to the sky, “your wings are impossible.”

    “All right.” The archangel settled onto the roof’s rough surface. “I’m a delusion. When I push you off the edge, you can pretend you tripped.”

    Jason swept his hand at the crowd. “They don’t know what they want,” he said. “None of us do.”

    The winged creature drew a flaming sword from the sheath across his back. “I have to say this before I kill you.” He cleared his throat. “Jason, I command thee to yield or die.”

    Twin rings of fire wrapped around Michael’s wrists, like handcuffs. Lucifer walked out of the shadows, stood behind Jason. “You can’t simply cut him down.”

    Michael tried to raise his sword, but he couldn’t. “I’ll burn it away,” he said.

    Jason shuffled toward Lucifer, then toward Michael’s blazing sword. He felt caught, like an iron filing between two magnets. Magic wasn’t science, and anything that wasn’t science wasn’t true. “You’re both in my head,” he said between clenched teeth.

    “Hardly,” Lucifer said. “I gave up gutter crawling for Lent.”

    “It stops now,” Jason said. “No more wars. World peace.”

    “How can there be peace when everyone’s dead?” Michael shouted. “You’re crazy.”

    “Oh,” Lucifer said. “That’s going to help.”

    “I have to roll myself under the ball,” Jason said.

    Michael struggled to raise his sword. “You can’t keep me bound forever, brother, and when you let me go, I’ll come after you.”

    “The plague is in his blood. If one of us ends the world,” Lucifer said, “mortals don’t have a chance. If one of them does it, we can try to turn back the clock, like we did with the first atom bomb.”

    A split was running down the middle of Jason’s mind, like a fault line in an Earthquake. He pressed both hands to his head, squeezed. “Maximum dispersion is at midnight, when the Gulf Stream sweeps down.” He ran past Michael toward the tower that housed the ball.

    Michael gritted his teeth, strained against his brother’s bond, screamed Lucifer’s name.

    They both heard the ball rushing toward the man under it. The crowd below chanted numbers backward . . . 10, 9, 8.

    When the man under the ball screamed, the crowd screamed back “Happy New Year!”

  6. Jo O’Connor

    The sky continued to roar its anger and unleash it, lighting up the sky. The tattered remnants of my dress were a testament to our long journey and our proximity to it all. Khüovolt’s summit no longer seemed the best choice for this spell. No, not a spell, this was damnation.
    “I cannot go through with this!” I shouted terrified. His eyes quickly went to mine, fury darkening the cerulean into dark cobalt. He grabbed my arms and forced me to look at him.
    “You have to call on him!” He pleaded, “He took her from me, and I will not allow him to keep her!”
    The rain was now falling so hard it felt as if needles scored my skin where D’Arkhan’s body did not shield mine. I realized he was as frightened as I was, yet he would call on the demon himself if he could. Still, he was willing to trade his own soul to ensure his sister’s eternal salvation.
    “She bargained herself into his servitude,” I said and I pulled myself from his grip once I felt it loosen. “She possessed abilities that you do not. There is nothing you can offer him.”
    “My soul should be enough,” he shouted over a rolling thunder, “A soul is only a soul to a demon. They do not care who it belongs to, as long as they get what they want from it.”
    I saw resolve overcome his fear, but mine only swelled. I looked behind me at the forested area we had emerged from. I wondered if I had enough energy to attempt an escape, but when I spun back to face him, I met the tip of his sword instead.
    “Call on him.” His voice was calm, accentuating his anger and determination.
    “Please, do not make me do this,” I implored him. He lowered his sword and reached for my neck too swiftly for me to react. He was but a breath away from me and my heart faltered a moment. I felt my own power rise against my will as it prickled my skin. I knew he felt it as well when I saw hesitation mar his features. It quickly passed and his fortitude increased alongside the involuntary spell I was about to unleash. The demon would hear my call and come for us. My aura would be forever tarnished. D’Arkhan would be slave to a demon, or a dead man with any luck, and Aerlana would finally rest in peace. Whichever path the night took, I knew when I saw its gargantuan wings rise behind D’Arkhan. Everything was about to be over.

  7. Shaylon Hutchins

    "The War of Ted’s Head"

    “Pic, don’t do this. We can survive.”
    Nit took a shaky step forward, clutching thick strands of brown jungle grass and wishing his friend would step away from the ledge. Pic didn’t move, though. When Nit finally reached his friend, terror siezed him and he nearly fell himself.
    “ Pic, please. You do this and your dead,” Nit said.
    “And if I don’t?”
    Nit blinked. “Well… maybe you live. Maybe we all live.”
    Pic snorted. “Yeah, right. Every day we die. And most of the time, we don’t even know why! Oh, floods seem understandible. But floods of poison? Giant rakes that snatch us up, or those pink things that claw at us all the time. It’s like… Something doesn’t want us here.”
    Nit chanced a look over the ledge. The mountain, Ted’s Head as some called it, was such a strange and wonderful thing. The great, brown grass provided shelter. The ground itself was food. But it was so high. So dangerous. “Something?”
    Pic nodded, flexing his limbs, preparing to jump. “I think it’s the mountain. It sends the rakes, and the rains and the… pink things.”
    Nit put a hand to his chest, trying to look calm. “Then we should fight it! Not leave. This is our home. And has been for four generations. That’s twelve days, Pic.”
    “Fight it?” Pic was laughing now. “How?”
    “Like this.” Nit let go of the grass. With all his might, he punched the ground. It was soft and flaky, and his fist made little impact. Pic just laughed and shook his head.
    “That’s ridiculous.”
    “Is it? Watch this.”
    With all six limbs, Pic flailed the earth like a crazed beast. He knew he looked mad. But he didn’t care. He hit and kicked and spit. He even bit, drawing that precious flow of red water. The mountain shook. Pic gasped and something like the voice of God shouted “Ow!”
    And then came the rakes. And the pink things and their claws. And thus had the war begun. For generation after generation it lasted. Some said twelve days in all. Others said more. But in the end, the mountain prevailed. And the Lice of Ted’s Head were no more.

  8. Dare Gaither

    Jake winched himself up the steep path by

    grabbing on to a buckberry bush. He hadn’t realized

    he was so out of shape. He gasped for air and peered

    over the edge at the valley far below. With a shudder,

    he forced his eyes away from the perilous drop-off

    and huffed toward the small cabin ahead.

    The door opened before he could knock. A diminutive

    figure with cascading black hair stood before him.

    “We’ve been expecting you,” she said with a graceful curtsy.

    She guided Jake to table covered with a deep red cloth.

    From behind the table, an older woman gazed at him

    with an inscrutable expression. He sat down across

    from here and placed a photograph on the table.


    “Yes,” Jake replied, “isn’t she beautiful?”

    “You seek her love?”

    Jake coughed nervously.

    “Well, yes. She won’t give me a chance to show her

    how much I love her. I just want a chance, that’s all.”

    He reached in his pocket and pulled out some cash.

    Maybe money would distract her from the unwanted

    questions. He placed the agreed upon amount on the

    table and looked at her expectantly. Now what?

    The woman reached into a small velvet bag and

    pulled out a leather cord bearing a wooden figure

    carved with strange symbols. She lay the cord

    on the table and deftly whisked the money into

    the dark recesses of her skirt.

    “Wear this around your neck for three days.

    Then bury it near a place she walks by.

    Her heart will be yours.”

    Jake picked up the talisman with shaking hands.

    The rough wooden figure mesmerized him.

    “Be certain this is what you want.

    The spell will bind her to you for eternity.”

    Jake’s eyebrows shot up.

    “Eternity?” He asked in a choked whisper.

    Damn, that was a long time!

    The woman nodded gravely.

    Jake struggled to breathe, but this time

    it wasn’t from physical exertion.


    He stood up grasping the amulet and the photo of Maya.

    He stared at it in the dim light from the flickering candle.

    He hadn’t noticed how big her nose was before.

    Those lines on her forehead sure did make her look mean.

    The woman stood and offered her hand in dismissal.

    Jake shook it and followed the dark-haired girl

    to the front door. Now, she was a true beauty.

    Outside in the cool air, Jake drew a deep breath

    and let it out slowly. He walked a few steps down

    the path, thinking hard about his plan. He took one

    more look at the photo and crumpled it into a ball.

    Winding up to pitch, he hurled the photo and talisman

    into the vast emptiness waiting over the edge.

    He watched as it arched out and then bounced

    down the side of the mountain into the depths below.

    Jake sighed with relief and began to whistle

    as he started back down the mountain.

    Freedom is a wonderful thing.

  9. Lily Elderkin

    She sat on top of the tower, eyes closed, face impassive.

    And I sat next to her.

    I knew that I shouldn’t have been there – of course I knew, I wasn’t an idiot. At least, not when it came to regular, clear thinking.

    When it came to her, I was an idiot. But otherwise I was vaguely intelligent – intelligent enough to have known that getting off the building would mean the world right then.

    I stayed next to her, cold little hand in mine, fingernails bitten to a quick, blisters rubbing against blisters.

    “We’re going to do this.” Her voice sounded so thin, like it would blow away with the next gust of wind.

    It would, actually.

    “In the ancient times,” I started, my own voice strained and broken (just for her, all for her), “they wouldn’t bury people who killed themselves.

    If you killed yourself, you weren’t worthy.”

    She smiled at that, and her eyes opened slowly. Big, green, catlike – reflecting a pain so much deeper than mine. “So you’re saying we don’t get funerals?”

    “No, just that we’re getting cremated.”

    “I always wanted to get cremated, since I was little. It was so much more expensive to be buried.”

    “You always were the realistic one,” I said, and there’s no humor behind the words, meant fondly.

    “You’re just afraid.”

    “I’m really not.”

    “I believe you,” she said, her voice changing from steadfast and sure to regretful. “You are so much better than I am.”

    I blow my air out, hard. What will it be like when I have no air? “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “I do. Don’t you think I’ve thought about this? It wasn’t supposed to be a partner thing. It was supposed to be me, protesting life.”

    “Protesting life? That’s what all this is for? What’s your alternative?”

    She laughed. “Death.”

    She did not shy away from it like I did. She said it like it was a fact.

    It was a fact, just one I didn’t want to believe.

    “How did you not know protest was the goal here? We’ve been together forever, it feels like. You’ve always known how much I hate life.”

    “I have.”

    “Why are you doing this with me?”

    “Because I love you. And it matters.”

    “The protestation of life? I’ve never heard that before. It doesn’t, really. Really I’m just doing this because I’m selfish.”

    “I’m doing it because I’m in love with you.”

    “You’re lowering yourself for your love.”

    “You’re lowering yourself for your hate.”

    She nodded. She was. So was I. We both knew each other so well. And what was there, besides that knowledge? There was this high tower, and there was the end waiting below.

    I stood and kissed her hand.

    “You know I love you too,” she said, almost last-minute, almost forgetting.

    “Yes. You know I hate this too.”


    “Let’s go.”

    And the air rushed past my ears until the only thing left was her cold hand in mine.

  10. Nathan Honore

    Tommy and Joe sat in a tree. This familiar spot boasted a fantastic vantage point. The pair had been scouting their target from the tree for weeks and had finally chosen to execute their plan. Tommy and Joe’s target came by every weekday at 5:34 PM. Each night he would get out of his car, wave at his neighbor, grab the mail, and go inside his home. He always looked intently at the day’s mail, despite most of it being junk. Tommy and Joe decided that would be the time strike. The target would be completely unaware of what hit him, thus they would make a clean get away. They had loaded the tree with all the necessary weapons; guns, grenades, and a large balloon shaped bomb in case things got out of hand.
    “You ready Joe,” Tommy asked with a smile.
    “Roger that, Tommy.”
    “Remember, I shoot first. Then it’s anyone’s game.”
    “Roger that.”

    Tommy cocked his weapon, his finger hovering over the trigger. The target was due in minutes. Joe was a bit larger than his partner and though they’d been working together for years, Joe would always sweat buckets. He was sweaty, but reliable.
    The target arrived, right on time. A Caucasian male, mid forties approached in his ’97 Ford Taurus, a workhorse of a vehicle. The rust under the rear-wheel wells matched the target’s hair, both remnants of their former glory. Unusual that the target was not clean-shaven today, though. For a moment, Tommy considered calling off the maneuver. Something didn’t feel right. But he pressed on, waiting patiently for the right moment.
    The target waved to the old neighbor, who perpetually sat on his decrepit porch. Mail in hand, he turned toward his house. Everything was a go. Tommy fired first, as agreed. A stream of fury unleashed from the nozzle. A direct hit! Joe followed with a grenade, engulfing the target in its wake. The target dropped to his knees, but got up quickly. This had not been in the plan. The target’s eyes turned red with fury. He threw down the ruined junk mail and pointed up at the two assassins.
    “Tommy! Joe! Get down from your tree-house right now!”
    “Abort! Abort!” shouted Tommy as he dropped his super-soaker to the ground and climbed down the ladder. He was out of ammunition. But Joe was not so quick to admit failure. They had a back-up plan for just such an occasion, after all. With a monstrous grin on his face, Joe lifted the bomb above his head, like Quasimodo.
    “Do we get a pool now, Dad?”
    “Come down this minute Joseph Tyler.”
    “I bet you’ll wish you had gotten us a pool after this!” Joe yelled. But the gigantic water balloon couldn’t hold anymore. As Joe was about to let it loose, it collapsed, drenching the young soldier.
    The target couldn’t help but laugh a little, but regained his composure saying, “We’re definitely not getting a pool now.”