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A Few Sips Off

Categories: Creative Writing Prompts Tags: creative writing exercises, creative writing prompts, writing prompt.

You take a sip from your drink and feel different. That may be because your torso has an extra arm protruding from it. Another sip, another arm. Then a wing. What happens if you finish the drink?

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561 Responses to A Few Sips Off

  1. WaterfallLady says:

    ok, here’s my first attempt at the writing prompts!

    Drink the Kool Aid

    I reached for the Kool Aid, knowing in advance how it would affect me.
    “Mmm….”
    I closed my eyes as the liquid ran down my throat and coursed throughout my body. A rumble came from deep within me.
    “Grrr.”
    My body began to twitch. I opened my eyes and scanned the room.
    “Who’s there? Who’s come into my chamber?” I bellowed. Suddenly, an extra arm popped out of my side.
    “Ha, ha, ha!” I repoured another cup and knocked it back. I fell on the floor as my body jerked with the birthing of a fourth arm. The small eyes stared at me and the face went round and still.
    “Come here, little one!”
    “No.”
    “Yes!”
    “No!”
    “What’s the matter? Do you not like my extra arms?”
    “No.”
    “Ah, watch this!” I refilled the glass again. Wings sprouted from my back. “Shall we fly to my castle, my dear?”
    “Ok, mommy!”
    I scooped up my precious child and together we flew off to our castle in the sky. Inside, I was so grateful for these moments that I knew would pass too soon. Too soon, my little one would grow, not imaginary arms, but bigger, stronger, and less needful of me. I knew that this little dear one was rooted so deep within my heart that someday, she would burst forth like these imaginary parts and become a full grown person apart from my sheltering wings.
    “Don’t cry, mama!”
    “No worries, little one. Mama just loves you so much.”

  2. Only Human

    Can I hold myself to a higher place than anything else in this universe? I thought as I sliced through the thin layer of skin of the paralyzed woman supine on the cold metal table.

    Cynthia lived in a house with her six-foot-five, dark, and handsome husband and her gorgeous daughter. They had a peach picket fence, and she did Bikram yoga every morning. She liked to walk the family Pekinese, and she went out on the weeknights while her husband worked late. She would meet men, and let them flirt with her. Sometimes, she would stop by their place for a nice warm cup of Joe—or Mark or Frank, whatever his name happened to be. Some might call her a cheating whore or a monster, but she’s only human—an animal among animals no different from other creatures that cheat on their partners: elephant seals, hedge sparrows, even some insects.

    I often wondered what really made us different. Is that we can talk? Is it that we can walk on only two legs? Is it that we supposedly have a higher mental capacity or that we can build giant machines while simultaneously destroying the earth? Is it some ability to know right from wrong? Do animals not have these qualities, too?

    She blinked hard every time I cut into her. The skin parted as if I’d cut through a warm round of ham, only she bled. A lot. With the new hole in place, I quickly attached another arm—one of two I harvested earlier from a homeless woman—just below her right one. Not long before this, I attached the other just below her left. Now she had four total. With each prick of the needle to close the wound, she blinked.

    I thought about what I might do when I arrived home later that evening. I might play some Call of Duty or perhaps read a book or two. I might make some dinner or take my dog for a walk. Perhaps I’ll go out and meet a woman instead of staying inside, I thought.

    When I finished attaching the arm, I took a step back and gazed with amazement at my art. She didn’t look happy, and I didn’t blame her. She was, after all, in a very serious position in her life. One she might remember if the police found her before she died of infection. However, my art would put a smile upon someone’s face. Probably many faces. Sure, some might call me a monster, but no different am I from the many murderers of animals like lions that kill to rule the jungle, murdering a whole family—cubs included—and taking the lion’s wife hostage to enjoy and rape at his pleasure. After all, we’re all just animals; it only happens that I’m human.

  3. jhowe says:

    Even though the day was warm and humid, Jarvis wore a light jacket as he waited for the bus. There were no seats available and Jarvis stood and kept his eyes averted downward. A woman wearing very short shorts and a halter top twenty years out of style sidled next to him and said, “Hey stud, you looking for some action?”

    Jarvis was not, and he ignored her.

    “Don’t I turn you on big boy?”

    She did a little, but he still ignored her. The woman slid her arm beneath his jacket and let out a small scream. “What was that you freak!”

    Jarvis attempted to move away from her but the bus was too crowded. “I said what was that? Do you have a dog or something under there? It licked me.”

    Two rough cut men came up to them. One of them said, “What’s shaking baby?”

    “This freakazoid has something under his shirt. It licked me.”

    “Let’s take a look.” One of the men held Jarvis by the arms and the other unzipped his jacket and tore open his shirt. There was another scream and much commotion ensued from the passengers. A malformed head and two limp arms hung from Jarvis’s torso just below the ribs on his right side. The small mouth was wet with saliva, the miniature pink tongue darting about.

    “Meet my brother.” Jarvis said with a hint of venom.

    The hooker and the two men backed away and pushed through the crowd. Many of the riders got off when the bus stopped. Jarvis held his brother and stroked his head as he adjusted his clothing.

    There were now plenty of vacant seats and Jarvis took one. A middle aged man in khaki shorts sat in a seat opposite. “Conjoined twin?”

    “Yeah, I was the lucky one so it seems.”

    “I don’t mean to overstep my bounds, but there are surgeries available for this kind of thing.”

    “Oh yeah, I know all about them.”

    “But yet you decided not to go through with it?”

    “That appears to be the gist of it,” said Jarvis.

    “I don’t feel you’d be doing the wrong thing if you decided to consider surgery.”

    “He’d die.”

    “We all die son, some of us sooner than others.” The man got up. “This is my stop.”

    “Thank you for not being afraid of me.”

    “Son, if I was that brother of yours, I’d want you to at least talk to someone. For his sake as well as yours.”

    “I have talked to someone. You have no idea what something like that would cost for someone with no insurance and no job that lasts longer than two months. ”

    “Oh but I do know how much it costs.” The man gave Jarvis a business card. J. Paul Land, General Surgeon. “Please call me. I’m willing to help you.”

    “Why would you help me?”

    “I know a good man when I see one. And I also know that your condition can be improved if you are willing to let go.” The man started to walk away, but turned around. “Son, your brother has virtually no quality of life, but you can start again. You would both be better served.”

    As the bus continued on, Jarvis sat alone and stroked his brother through his shirt as he studied the business card.

    • lionetravail says:

      Very inventive take, Jhowe, and lots of great emotions, visceral reactions, humanity at its cruel/disdainful worse and its kind best… and all in a succinct package. Nicely done :)

  4. pinkbamboo says:

    Ok, I’m back with a weird story. This time I let my imagination went sideways lol

    ****

    This was exactly what I wanted. I touched my drawing with my original left hand and looked at it. It was a drawing of a man with wings, two arms and a scorpion sting. That’s going to be me. I took another sip and my claws appeared. I lashed forward and scratched the mirror as it broke into a thousand pieces.

    Smiling to myself, I thought of my plan. I’m going to cut a hole behind the bank and crawl in. Hey, this was not my fault. I did not kill her on purpose, I was only defending myself but they won’t believe me. Nobody believed me so I had to go. I had to get out of here. I looked at the clock. 10 pm. Time to get what I needed and get the hell out of here before the police dragged me to court again for something I did not do. Let me finish my drink.

    I turned around and the edge of my wings knocked the cup to the floor. I fell to the floor, desperately licking the carpet before the remainder of the potion seeped in. Frustrated when the claws only appeared on my right foot, I hit the floor repeatedly until I was exhausted. How could I have been so careless!

    Sweat was dripping down my face and my potion had run out. It was only then I remembered my mission.

    I grabbed my duffel bag and ran to the window. My wings wouldn’t hold me up and I hit the wall in anger again. Calm down, there’s no time to lose now, I need to hurry, I whispered to myself. These wings just needed some time to get used to. Ran to my bike and cycled down town to the national bank.

    Everything worked so smoothly, I avoided the alarm trigger and cut myself a nice hole to the safe. Four arms worked simultaneously and the duffel bag was filled up within seconds. As I exited the premise however, I was surrounded by the police.

    “Roy, put down the duffle bag” I heard one of them.

    “No! You can’t do this to me! I did not kill her!” I shouted at them.

    There were about 3 police cars with their lights on and 4 policemen pointing their guns at me while another one was holding the hailer. I could see the astonishment and shock when they saw my arms and wings. Disgust too maybe.

    “I look like a freak don’t I?” I laughed as I lifted the duffel bag up high with my arms.

    “Don’t make us shoot you, whatever you are now”

    I looked around and tried to escape. I couldn’t use my wings yet and even if I do, they might shoot me down. I looked at the policeman nearest to me. Suddenly I grinned for I have the best escape plan now. I might not be able to fly or scratch them but I can use my tail to grab the nearest one and threaten the rest of them.

    I was already convicted of killing a girl, why not add some other colorful records as well? A police officer would be a nice addition. I turned sideways and used my mind to control my tail.

    No movement. I turned around and my duffel bag dropped. I heard the controlled laughter from the police force and I shouted as I punched the walls repeatedly. What the fuck! What the ..

    In place of my desirable scorpion tail was a rabbit’s bob tail.

  5. Reaper says:

    This is completely off topic and way, way, way, over the word count. However I am posting it for McKevin. If you hate long and preachy stories please give this a pass. But McKevin here you go. This is my completely non traditional telling for the three little pigs since you asked.

    Wolf’s Clothing

    U’tana’ Waya was a warrior of his people. The men of his family had been hunters since the times when land and sky were one. Once the sons of the chief had chosen their brides the men of the Waya line had their choice of the most beautiful women amongst the tribe. They always had. Hunters had been revered and loved. It was when the soft men came that the role of his family had changed.

    The soft pink men destroyed everything they touched. They ravaged the land, burned the trees, and slaughtered the animals of the forest with no thought towards leaving enough to breed and prosper to provide food for the children of their children. Witness the absence of buffalo after their arrival, a thing that had never before been a danger. Worst of all these pigs violated and defiled the women of the tribe.

    The tribe was naught more than animals to the pigs. Their women were property to be stolen, used, destroyed, and then returned in a tarnished state or worse left lying in their blood and shame; forced to survive on their own if they were able, which many were not. The tribe must then attempt to set to right whatever devastation had been most recently visited upon those women after the soft pink men had departed. They did what they could but as the pigs also slaughtered members of the tribe; man, woman or child; when the urge or strong drink was upon the interlopers the tribe had a difficult time of it.

    If the natives resorted to extreme measures such actions could be understood could they not? They were necessary. What brave would wish a violated squaw? If one claimed or spoke for the woman she was left in peace. It made U’tana’ ill when one was disposed of. Avoiding such a fate for as many as possible was why he had taken one of the defiled for his own wife. It was also why his eldest daughter was not of his blood.
    U’tana’ was thirsty for revenge. The tribe was hungry for blood and satisfaction. First the explorers came and some of those did not survive, though most passed through too quickly and the vengeance was much as ashes in the mouth of the tribe. Next the cavalry arrived and the tribe flowed their wrath upon the men in blue. Some of the soft men passed with the attacks. The losses to the invaders were not enough to hide that those attacks did more to leave the tribe broken and depleted of warriors than they did to stem the invasion. With U’tana’s people “broken” and depleted the government of the soft pink men declared the land tamed. The three brothers came to the acres they had purchased despite the fact that the tribe had never sold it. Finally the tribe saw the chance to balance the scales.

    The brothers Porc had purchased the land at an amazing price from the government. They had no qualms about what had happened there, though that was part of the reason for the discount. There was still some concern that the efforts to drive off or exterminate the savages that inhabited the land previously had not been entirely successful. The official that had signed papers with them had been emphatic that he told them of the danger only because it was required. In his professional opinion there was no longer cause for concern. The cavalry had seen to that.

    The brothers were divided in their acceptance of that assurance. Andre, the eldest and most morbid of humor had complete faith that the Lord and his rulers would protect him. Benoit, the middle brother and shortest of temper believed that God was on his side but that human officials were full of lies if it brought them the ends they sought. Pierre, the youngest and most nervous of spirit knew that all men deceived and believed that the Lord only helped those that helped themselves. Thus they were arguing.

    “We should mock these savages!” Andre insisted in his gruff and boisterous tones. “We will build our homes from grass and mud in honor of their huts and in the manner of their teepees!”

    The time had long passed that the younger brothers caved instantly to the bleetings of their elder. Both shook their head. Andre was hard to take, though his brothers could do so with more ease than others. Pierre would not look upon his brother. Benoit was more benevolent. He spoke in calm, soothing, reasonable tones when he offered his own opinions.

    “While I believe that we are safe there is no reason to be cruel to the animals. Moreover it is wise to take precaution and avoid tempting fate by mocking them. I advise that we build cabins of log as we had back home.”

    Andre laughed off the suggestion. Benoit had skin thickened by a lifetime of jibes from his brother and shrugged off this newest one. Pierre then offered his own advice. He seethed the words out in a sibilant hiss that was positively serpentine and brooked no argument.

    “We must defend ourselves. We shall build a fortress of the sturdiest stones we can pull from the land and fill it with soldiers and men at arms.”

    Pierre’s tone brooked no argument and yet the other brothers did so. Under open air and then in their tent to protect from morning dew the siblings raged and bickered. The disagreement knew no surcease. At the end they declared they were no longer family and would see each other no more. They divided the plot in thirds. Each would abandon the others and do their own will upon their private land.

    Andre went north and built his mocking hut of grass and mud. Benoit cut down trees that had been sacred to the tribe and built his log cabin on the ground where he had lost his brothers in symbol if not fact. Pierre rode south to build his outpost after gathering the largest and mightiest of stones from the hills that existed there.
    For a time the brothers knew peace. It was the peace that only one that lives without danger and with enough distance from his family that they might visit but not happen upon him can know. For a time solitude and peace brought with them happiness. That time was less than a week.

    U’tana’ had watched the brothers argue from the top of a hill. He understood their language but was unable to hear the word from the ground on which he stood. When the soft men parted ways U’tana’ sent scouts to follow the two that departed the area. Then he gathered the surviving warriors of his tribe. The land, their women, and their brothers that had gone to the happy hunting grounds would be avenged.

    U’tana’ led his band first to the north. Rage filled his heart when his eyes landed upon the mockery of his people that was the hut of the eldest brother Porc. It was only due to the respect the other braves held for him that he was able to still them before they fell upon the hut too early. U’tana’ made his way to the door of the hut and rapped upon it. The eldest of the soft men called from inside.

    “Who comes to my home uninvited?”
    U’tana was ready for such a response. He knew more of the ways these men held than they did of his people. He replied in a voice that was strong and proud. He spoke for his people.
    “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
    “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” Came the reply from inside.
    “Then I shall huff, and I shall puff, and I shall blow your house in.” U’tana’ informed the soft man in challenge.
    U’tana’ let his tribe do as they wished. The dwelling was shredded with ease. U’tana’ stepped through the wreckage and took his revenge with blade and might. He left the body in the sun as a warning to those that would dare defile his people in the future.

    The band rode south. It was a day’s ride between the two homesteads. When they arrived anger still filled the braves. The man they sought was on their land, his brother had chosen to mock them and while this one did not he had tarried here; his people had brought disease and death to the tribe and the land. Still they might have been convinced to show mercy. Then they saw the stumps of the trees that had been used to construct the home, the sacred trees. Mercy left their hearts. They were warriors.

    Again U’tana’ knocked upon the door to the home. The cabin was of sturdier make than the first and yet it was weak and the man was alone. Once more the man spoke as U’tana’ expected of him.

    “Who comes to my home uninvited?”
    Once again U’tana’ spoke the traditional phrase for Porc’s people.
    “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
    “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” The words, it seemed, ran in the family.
    “Then I shall huff, and I shall puff, and I shall blow your house in.” U’tana’ cried out with rage and pain.
    U’tana’ had shed the life’s blood of one enemy. He allowed the other warriors to do their will unto this one. At his signal flaming arrows were loosed upon the wood from which the cabin was constructed. The structure caught with ease and avenging smoke filled the air while purifying flames lit the land. The tribe was patient and required surety. It was not until the squeals and screams of the middle brother ceased filling the air that they moved south once more.

    There would be no mercy for the youngest brother. The warriors knew that these soft men were no different than the others that came before them. Respect and compassion were absent from the hearts of the Porcs. The decimated tribe saw the fortress of stone in the style that cavalry soldiers built before going to war with the natives and they knew that the soft pink men intended no mercy for them either. Still they would not cease. They knew no fear and their cause was just, righteous. They had come too far to fail. What they were unable to see were the soldiers that had gathered at Pierre’s request.

    The warriors dismounted and followed U’tana’ to the gate of the keep. U’tana’ pounded upon the larger door. He was greeted from inside, the youngest brother also the boldest though he could see those outside.

    “Who comes to my home uninvited?”
    U’tana’ raised his voice to the sky to be heard by the man within. He cried for his people.
    “Little pig, little pig, let me in.”
    “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” There was a taunting laugh to the words.
    “Then I shall huff, and I shall puff, and I shall blow your house in.” U’tana’ responded in a shout. This last time would bring peace.

    The braves stormed the keep. Some climbed the stones of the wall but only attained half the height of the structure. Others flew in rage at the door, the weakest point of the fortress, attacking wood with their blades. There was commotion inside and at first it seemed the inhabitants were afraid.

    Then the doors flew open. The soldiers flowed out with swords and rifles in hand. They bent to the attack with joy that all of the soft pink men seemed to share for slaughter.

    The warriors on the wall dropped into the fray. Soft men fell and died, others were injured to a point that they would no longer be of service. The tribe was outnumbered. Their weapons were strong but no match for those of the soldiers. U’tana’ and his brothers gave it their all, bringing a good fight to the invaders but in the end they were slaughtered. To a man they died with their eyes to the sky. They perished knowing that the remaining soldiers would kill the women, children and elders without compassion to put an end to what had happened here.

    U’tana’ passed from this life knowing that he had done what was right. He died knowing that he had failed, that he would be vilified by the soft men. His field of vision was eclipsed in his last moments by the body of Pierre Porc. That man held a torch that he used to set the ground around U’tana’ aflame. That was not enough. Pierre put his torch to U’tana’s clothing before jabbing the burning end against U’tana’s skin.
    The warrior smelled his flesh burning away. U’tana’ never cried out with the pain. He was stronger than the Porcs and he would not give his murderer the satisfaction. He died a warrior as did those that had followed him.

    The area was cleared and the ground stained red with the blood of heroes. The soft pink men had their way. The savages were removed by whatever means necessary.
    And the land wept.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very nice story, Reaper. You did an excellent job capturing both the indignity and callousness of the white invasion and the single-minded resistance that turned retribution into revenge. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      And the land still weeps Reaper. I think Paul Stokey, Peter Yarrow and Mary Travers said it best.

      “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”

    • Augie says:

      I wonder.. If the charts from Amerigo Vespucci were never found of the “New World’ Or… If the foolish Christoforo Colombo sank prior to naming the natives, ‘Indios’ What did the inhabitants call themselves, in their very old world.
      Beautiful story reaper, you knew I would like this.

    • lionetravail says:

      Wonderfully done- a GREAT retread, much more adult, and with all the heartache one could ask for :)

  6. Kemter says:

    A tinkling ‘patta’ laps clear seawater against the glittering marble step as I breathe in the mixed aromas of salt and the ambrosia flower in bloom. Another cloudless day has graced this cursed island, a refreshing wind coming off the bright water to dance between the pillars of shops and alleys in the Acropolis rooms. I bring the chilled bronze chalice to my lips, but wait a single moment for doubt to bare its fangs.

    Long ago, I washed onto this pavilion where marble and sea meet, sleeping a dangerous sleep against the chest of my lover in the leaking dregs of a fisherman’s boat. I saw the glowing Maidens of the Isle and rejoiced in finding the paradise of the gods. To my weary hands they brought a chalice such as this: the altar for the sacrificial goat.

    “You may live immortal but never leave or you may leave and die a mortal. Such is the choice offered to all who find the Isle.” They sang joyously, procuring saucers of plump fruit and savory meats to tempt us.

    Oh what a fool a young woman can be, trusting a man. For my lover looked into my eyes as if I were Aphrodite, and bode me to drink from the Maidens cup. Oh what a fool a young woman can be, trusting a man. For I watched him sail from this cruel pavilion, and lay shackled to a broken heart since.

    A thousand years of grief I’ve lived, bereft on an island of beauty. Yet pain has no concern for appearance, and I have suffered greatly. The deceptively warm nectar thickens to choke, a symbol crash as the cup meets the ground. From my abdomen arms reach out and poke.

    With the ‘patta’ of the gentle tide come the Maidens of the Isle’s cries. Out come the legs, torso and thighs with a torturous tugging on my insides. They discovered too late why exultant tears fill my eyes.

    There is only one way for my soul to be free, only one drink to restore mortality.

    • Reaper says:

      This was just plain gorgeous and thought provoking. Amazing story Kemter.

    • snuzcook says:

      Beautiful prose, Kempter, and at the same time such bitterness. I thought on the first read that she bore a child, but the thousand years of grief made that unlikely. Did the chalice contain a poison, or a potion that disfigured and tore her physically?

    • Observer Tim says:

      Very nice, Kemter. You captured an older style of writing (like a Victorian-era translation of a Greek fable) and deftly portrayed the underlying tragedy. I find myself hoping the MC achieves her peace, even given its cost in lives.

      My red pencil says “bade” not “bode” and “cymbal” not “symbol”.

    • lionetravail says:

      Very well done- I agree, it has many of the wonderful elements of a classic fable, inverted to pitch it from the monster’s view. A very possible book opening, I would think :)

  7. lionetravail says:

    Deva Rising (part 2- the conclusion)

    I move towards the cluster of robed, singing monks, and their faces are suffused with adoration, with revelation, and with selfless joy. I see their ranks part to reveal a blindfolded child with a cloth-wrapped bundle across his arms. He stands trembling- it is because he is weak, and I read the gnawing illness in him through the lines of his flesh. His nostrils flare, his head twists first left, then right, as if to get some sense of my approach. As I come close, he holds the bundle up to me, and his breathing speeds up as his arms shake with the effort.

    Dēvatva, svīkāra karēṁ!/ Divinity, please accept!” he says, in a thin, gasping voice. I take it from him, and the rough cotton wrapping it falls away to leave my hand clutching the shaft of a trident.

    My trident.

    The monks fall silent. The boy waits, chin up, trembling. I raise the weapon in my fist to point it at the child. It is now so quiet that I can hear the beating of a dragonfly’s wings in the grass by the water’s edge. I know what I am supposed to do- I am The Destroyer.

    I gently thrust the sharp spikes on the end of the trident into the boy’s chest. His mouth forms a perfect O, but not even breath escapes. The monks, too, make no conscious sound, though I hear them exhale softly, together, as if they were one creature.

    But I know that I am also The Transformer, and so, when I pull the trident back out, there is no longer a boy standing there, but a short bilva sapling. The monks murmur to each other. The oldest one, he who led me here from where I awakened, is again smiling. “Divinity has seen that this one made a poor boy, but will make a much better tree,” he says to the others.

    “He will grow into adulthood now, when he would not before have made it a moon,” I say. “He will provide for you and those who follow you in the years to come, paying back joyfully the food and care he received from your hands. Finally, one day, a hunter who flees a tiger will climb up into his arms and make an offering of his leaves, which will break him free from the cycle of life and death.”

    The monks hush, and bow to me as if they were again one being.

    “Come disciples,” I say. “We will ascend to the mountains and you will help me.”

    Help you in what way, Master?” the eldest asks.

    “To learn a new dance,” I respond, and begin walking. They follow, voices by ones and twos rising into song, full of wonder, and we leave the boy-tree behind. He will be a part of the next story, the next dance; but for now, I must consider the shape of the next age. The music of the monks surrounding me calls for peace, contemplation, and joy.

    Those seem a good place to start.

    • Reaper says:

      Very nice lionetravail. A wonderful continuation and again you managed to avoid all of the western stereotypes and still present a face of Shiva different from but completely complementary to the one in your first story. This is amazing on so many levels.

    • I had to read both before commenting because I apparently missed the first one. Part one is a good self-contained story, but this continuation seems to complement it well. While I’m not particularly fond of these kinds of stories (I know, I know) I enjoyed it nevertheless. Just out of curiouslty, which kind of nut where you referring to (in your imagination) when you wrote the first type? Like light pine nut or a darker hazelnut or like a reddish peanut brown?

      • lionetravail says:

        Um, like the dark, rich brown skin tone of natives of India?

        I was basically trying to reference this to India, from the elephant ride, shave-headed monks in saffron robes, to the skin tone of the natives… so, er, that kind of “nut brown”. :)

      • Augie says:

        “dat one!, dare all nuts anyway!”

        Seriously, I loved your story but couldn’t help myself with the nut comment.

        Great story Liontravail! I am always amazed at either the research/self learned knowledge you write with. When I see your name in bold, I grab my mouse and get ready for the research game. I only hope to become a ‘story-teller’ with your skills. What an honor it is for me to read your stories each week. Many can learn, few can teach. Great job!

    • Manwe38 says:

      I’ve always been a fan of ancient legends, and you capture their tone exactly as I would imagine something like this happening.

      I also enjoyed how you addressed the concept of a cycle of life and death.

      Well done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      The first story seemed complete and satisfying in itself, but this addition builds on it perfectly and seamlessly. The two parts definitely belong together.

  8. keyhonay says:

    Buzzed

    “This will be my last one,” I told myself this as I pulled open the door. Beyond the doorway was a deep black void. The music of a forgotten era could be heard, from deep with-in. The smell that waffled out was a mix of split drinks, vomit, sweat and denial. With a quick pause, I took a deep breath of the outside air and walked in. Once inside, the door closed behind me in a shuuush. For a moment I was immersed in the void and I feared that I would never see again. Within seconds, objects around me started to take shape, seeming to fade into being. These objects glowed with their own ethereal light. With this light to guild me I made my way to the bar.

    The bartender was smiling but after a moment I noticed it never faded, the smile stayed as he asked, “What can I get you?”
    “Rum and coke and here is 100 if you can keep them going,” I replied.

    His smile never faded as he stepped away to make my drink. I turned and glanced around the room. A body sat slumped near the end of the bar in the last stool. The two tables in the middle of the room sat bare and by the visible dust I could tell they had not been used in a while. Out of the 4 booths I could see only one that held a body. This shape also sat slumped over the table. I heard something behind me and I turned back to the bar. The bartender had sat my drink down and was walking towards the body at the end of the bar. I looked down into the dark amber liquid. I could smell oak and the thick syrup of the coke coming from the glass in front of me. In my mind I could taste the drink in my haunted memories.

    I put the glass to my lips, paused just long enough to feel the rum numb my bottom lip. With regret and shame I threw back half the drink. I felt the icy fire burn down in to my soul as the drink infected me. The change was instantaneous, it always was. The first leg pushed out through my shirt just below right arm. What will become my left wing ripped the back of my shirt up the side and fluttered slightly. As the other changes took hold and I could feel my mind start to fade. I slammed the last of the drink and fell to the floor. Spastically I jerked and kicked out as the transformation was completed.

    Then there was silence. After a few moments there was a bussing sound and the bar-fly that I now was flew up onto the bar. The bartender set another drink next to me on the bar. I flew up on to the lip of the glass and began to drink. Smiling the bartender turned away.

    • Reaper says:

      Nice take here. I like the commentary and you going a route that when I look at it seems obvious. A couple of words that could use another editing pass here and there, and the second his smile never faded might benefit from a reword. However those are things noticed because your story transported me deeply into the world of this MC. The wording was rich and artistic and quietly very powerful.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an enjoyable take, keyhonay. I honestly had never thought of a barfly, but it’s obvious now that you’ve written it. That is one of the signs of a genius idea.

  9. jhowe says:

    Pay this no mind. Trying to figure out how to do Italics. I’ll look kind of daft if it doesn’t work.

  10. Augie says:

    I wish I had a brain……

    The godfather falls out of his chair in fear, crawling under his desk.

    The creature’s translucent wings flap vigorously around his office. The godfather carefully removes his gun from the drawer and stands facing the monster.

    “”What the hell are you?”

    The creature dressed in a pink Lycra jumpsuit lands in front of the godfather’s desk.

    “Its me boss, Tony.”

    A voice from below shouts, “And me, Mo!”

    The boss walks around his desk and backs up in shock. The ugly three foot tall bird with a long neck flaps its tiny wings, “Let us explain boss.”

    The godfather sits in his chair and pours a glass of scotch, “Ok stupid’s, let me hear it.”

    The ugly bird leaps on the godfather desk, “ ya see, we went ta gather da protection money like ya said. Well, that gypsy gal kicked us out of her place. So, Tony shot one of dem fancy bottles on her shelf.” Mo smacks tony in the back of his head with his tiny wing.

    Tony stares at the boss with his elfin features, “Den da lady ran out of da room screaming. Next thing ya know a plume of smoke rose from da broken bottle and a very pissed off genie shouted at us!”

    Mo jumps in, “Ya, apparently stupid here, Mo smacks Tony again, Shot da genies house! Now he has ta move in with his mom.”

    Tony swings his wing, knocking Mo off the desk. “ Well it got worse when Mo asked em if he ever dated dat chick from I dream of Genie, en how he dreams of er too!”

    Mo jumps back on the desk, “How would I know she is his sister!

    Den da genie gave us dis little bottle and asked if we would like a wish. He said he would give him great pleasure ta grant us one wish dat would last for a year.

    I told him I would love ta be a bird of Prey, and drank from da bottle.”

    Tony slaps Mo with his wing, “Stupid, you’re a freaking Dodo bird dat can’t fly!”

    The godfather looks at Tony, “Stupid, what did you ask for?”

    Tony turns red, “I told em I’d like ta be a godfather.”

  11. dsjarvis says:

    Hell Bound

    This entire experience showed me just how selfish I was, and my fate was well deserved. My brother Rick, my girlfriend Ashley, Rick’s girlfriend Tatiana and I drove up to Rick’s cabin deep within the Rocky Mountains. When we arrived, there was a massive hole in the roof, the front door was kicked in, blood spattered all over the place, and several vermin were feasting on the remains of some creature – a creature I later realized was human.

    When Rick first bought the place the previous year, it was in pristine condition. When we arrived, it looked like an abandoned home and wreaked of death. Why we didn’t just get back into the car and leave, I’ll never know. Instead, we walked down into the basement, gagging on the horrific smell.

    A monster grinned and glared at us from the other side of the basement. He appeared rather hungry, even though six other human corpses laid before him. The mutant resembled an eight foot tall human with a contorted face. I think the mutant’s parents smacked it with two-by-fours as a child, and they probably suffered for it.

    When the monster first revealed itself, Rick confronted it. His bravery was greeted with a large claw through his heart. Tatiana stood frozen and screaming, and I grabbed Ashley and we ran towards the steps to escape the basement. As we ran towards the basement door, which had somehow shut and locked on its own, we heard a blood-curdling scream and a crunching sound. Then silence.

    I shook the door handle and thrust my body against the doorframe, but it wouldn’t budge. “Johnny” Ashley said, her voice quivering. The monster sneered at the bottom of the basement steps, and slowly walked in our direction. Rotted wood formed the stairwell railing. Ashley ripped away a large plank of wood with rusty nails protruding from it, and smacked the creature in the skull.

    “Help me Johnny!” Ashley screamed, but I focused on my own survival by fiddling with the door. Ashley’s severed head rolled down the stairwell at the exact moment I opened it. The creature clawed off a chunk of flesh from my leg, and I hobbled towards the front door, but it was also locked.

    A small, round bottle sat on the kitchen table only a few feet in front of me. The label on the bottle read “Salvation.” Ah fuck it, I thought, and gulped it down just as the mutant reached me. The creature backed away astonished.

    Two arms with fierce claws extended from my chest, and my face twisted and turned. I looked in the mirror in the corner of the living room and realized I was a mutant as well. The creature led me back down to the basement. Rick, Ashley and Tatiana’s flesh smelled like fresh steak, and we both feasted until we were full.

    Surely we are hell bound, but until then we await the next group of hapless souls who stumble upon our cabin.

    • jhowe says:

      Gruesome: Perhaps
      Well written: Yes
      Enjoyable: Definately

    • Augie says:

      WOW! What a dark tale you have written. I can see your next story about ‘the ones that lock the doors’. (that is where my focus was drawn) Surely someone intends to continue feeding these beast? Good story.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Ewww… “Loved it! Flesh smelled like fresh steak.” Really liked that line. Lol.

    • dsjarvis, this is an excellent freshman attempt at horror. I think you have a fantastic plot here, one that doesn’t end happy (my favorite!). My suggestion would be to ditch the cheap horror trope of “four people go into a forest whereupon horror ensues” and find a really clever setting to use it. The last person to do the “four people and a forest” thing well was Whedon with Cabin in the Woods, and even he got a ton of eye-rolls. What I suggest is take your story somewhere no one expects it. A family’s home, the office… somewhere you can really make it work for you but a place where the the reader is not likely to think to themselves: “Four people going into a forest? Here we go again.”

      Keep on writing, work on those descriptions, avoid passive voice, and you’ll really bring something to life here! I look forward to seeing some good horror from you in the future!

      • dsjarvis says:

        I appreciate the feedback. The horror plots in the woods are overplayed, but I couldn’t help myself :). I do want to expand this story, and your suggestion helped me consider some different options, such as a nice neighborhood or a business.

    • Reaper says:

      dsjarvis, I liked the tone and the ending of the story. That line about flesh like steak is amazing. While I don’t have much against the in the forest thing something Jay said struck a chord with me. For me, if this was longer it would have been a good cast of characters. However for a shorter work I would cut it down to just the brother or the girlfriend. Mostly because this is so action packed I did not feel the loss of each character. With only one the horror of your MC letting that one person die and then feasting on them could be focused in on for that true gut punch of horror. This is a good chiller but you have the talent and the focus for real mind bending horror that sucker punches your reader on a psychological level of there but for the grace of God go I. With all of that said I loved this and was hooked in from start to finish.

      • dsjarvis says:

        Thanks for the feedback, Reaper. 500 words or less does limit the amount of character development allowed, so that is a great suggestion. I do plan on taking this story and building it into a novel or a long short story, so those characters will gain more substance.

    • Observer Tim says:

      You’ve written a wonderful “slasher movie” story in a small space, dsjarvis. The gruesomeness is very well depicted, as well as the foolish attitude that makes people think “Ooh, that guy’s been decapitated! Let’s go see what did it!”

      The only thing missing was the sex scene. Or maybe we learned something else about the monster as well.

  12. k.spicer says:

    When my partner and I arrived on the scene we saw a small crowd gathered around a table in the rear of Sam’s bar-and-grill. I looked at Sam, the owner-bartender, who was pointing in that direction. “What’s the problem Sam?”

    “Darnedest thing I’ve ever seen Sergeant.” Sam said. “That guy back there started growing extra body parts. Every time he took a drink of whatever it was he was drinking something else would pop up. I told him that if he didn’t buy it here he couldn’t drink it here…but he won’t listen to me!”

    I looked at my partner. “Let’s go check it out.” We turned and walked toward the crowd in the back of the room. “What’s going on here?” I said as the crowd parted and let us through.

    “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Someone in the crowd said pointing to a man sitting in a chair.

    When I looked at the man in the chair I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The man was completely naked and he had three legs and three arms. When he turned to look at me I gasped at the sight. He had three eyes and three ears as well. “Mister, where are your clothes?” I asked him.

    “I’m not wearing any.” He said.

    “I can see that, but you can’t be out in public without your clothes on. I’m going to have to arrest you for indecent exposure.”

    The man smiled and took a drink from the bottle he held in his hand. I stood in amazement as a bulge appeared on his forehead and seemed to stretch and pull at his brow. In a matter of seconds a fully formed penis appeared from the knot and stood straight out from the man’s forehead.

    “Alright, I’ve seen enough; you’re under arrest!”

    The man jumped up and started swinging at me and my partner. I grabbed him and spun him around twisting his arm behind his back when with a sickening suction sound his arm came off in my hands. I stood there holding the man’s arm as he turned and ran for the door. My partner ran behind him diving and grabbing his leg. With a sudden jerk the man pulled loose leaving my partner holding his leg as he ran out the door and disappeared into the darkness.

    We stood in silent disbelief staring at the man’s body parts in our hands. “What are we supposed to do with these?” I asked.

    “Bag them up for evidence.” My partner said. “The Chief’s never going to believe this.”

    When we got back to the station we walked up to the Chief’s desk and tossed the evidence bag on the table before him. “What’s this?” He said.

    “It’s what’s left of the man we tried to arrest.”

    He stood with a shocked look on his face starring at the body parts. “What happened?”

    “The dickhead got away.” I said. “But it cost him an arm and a leg!”

  13. MCKEVIN says:

    Stepmother tried to watch SCANDAL but Rella’s crying irritated her. She’d gulped another shot of Rock Gut hoping to drown out Rella’s crying but it just grew louder. Stepmother’s head began to hurt so she pause the DVR.
    Knock! Knock!
    “Oh Stepmother…“ Rella said sounding like Shirley Temple in Heidi.
    “Rella-“
    “Oh Stepmother, I don’t feel like talking right now.”
    “But I can’t hear SCANDAL.”
    “Oh stepmother, don’t you even want to know what’s wrong?”
    “No!”
    “Oh stepmother, I’ve labored long around this house and I just want to go to the ball-”
    “It’s not like you paying rent. You should be glad to clean the house Rella.”
    Silence.
    Later back in her media room stepmother heard Rella crying again.
    “Rella, please don’t make me hurt you today okay? I can’t hear SCANDAL!” She hollered.
    “Oh Stepmother, the ball you just don’t understand.”
    “I’m not trying to understand I’m trying to watch-.“
    “Oh stepmother, you-.”
    Rella didn’t finish her sentence because she heard stepmother’s heavy footsteps coming and she quickly deadbolt the ten locks on her door. When stepmother got to Rella’s door she pulled another bottle of Flyagra from her bosom and lit another joint.
    Knock! Knock!
    “Oh Stepmother, go away please! “
    “Open this door Rella!”
    Silence…
    “You promise you won’t hit me with a hammer like you do my two stepsisters?”
    “No Rella I won’t hit you with a hammer.”
    “You promise you won’t stick a hot fireplace poker to my face like you did last time?”
    “No Rella I won’t.”
    “You promise you won’t-“
    Irritated now stepmother screamed.
    “Rella open this door before I break it down!”
    “Oh stepmother-“
    “You want to go the ball don’t you?”
    Her words made Rella happy for the first time that day. She stopped crying and started undoing the ten deadbolt locks while stepmother pulled one last drag off her joint. Rella slowly opened the door and when she could fit her fist through the opening, stepmother snatched Rella out by her hair.
    “Oh Stepmother-“
    “I told you I can’t hear SCANDAL with you making all this damn noise!”
    She slammed sister’s head into the wall leaving an imprint. Sister became unbalanced and fell to the floor losing a front tooth in the process.
    “Oh thepmother, the ball-”
    “You still want to go to the ball Rella?”
    “Oh thepmother, yes.”
    “Here drink this.”
    Sister sat up wiping salty blood from her busted lips. She took too long and stepmother grabbed her neck, yanked her head back and poured the Flyagra down her throat. Sister gagged and choked but like the two of us she eventually got the stuff down. Also, like us an arm sprouted from sister’s left side and then another from the right. I know Sister felt dizzy when a pair of wings sprung out of her back. She tested them by flying around the room and Stepmother smiled.
    “Oh Thepmother, now I can go to the ball. Thank thu.”
    Sister grabbed her gown and shoes and flew out a window.
    Stepmother watched her disappear behind the moon, relit her joint and continued watching SCANDAL.

    • Manwe38 says:

      An interesting take on the “evil stepmother” story.

      I liked how the abuse led to fulfillment of the MC’s ultimate goal.

      Nicely done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Um.

      This story does not just have a touch of strange, it seems to have been grabbed and fondled by strange. I have the impression that Rella is turning into a fly. It is so casually surreal that I find myself wondering about reality itself. Excellent job, McKevin!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Hello McGevin. Wecome to the Grisley Fairy Tale Room. Not that you’ve tortured Cinderella, what’s next? I hope the prince beats the holy crap out of stepmpther and the prince and the fly live happily ever after in Grisley Land. Me thinks Walt Disney’s turning over in his grave right now. Good manic thriller.

        • MCKEVIN says:

          What’s next? I have a story about Pinocchio working at a brothel. I trying to mix old with new, passion with violence and odd with whimsical. You know Snow White is known as the cocaine princess in some circles? Think about who she hangs out with Dopey, Sleepy,Sneezy, Doc etc. These are street names for drugs effects. I learning and reading more about Walt everyday. Did you know Steve Martin used to work at Disney and Walt Disney had a phobia about mice. Kinda makes you wonder how he and Mickey found each other doesn’t it? I hope I do him proud in the future. Thanks for reading.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Haha OT, you think my story is strange but you don’t think a prompt about growing extra limbs because you drank something isn’t? Lol. I think updating fairy tales and giving them an odd spin would be fun.

    • jhowe says:

      Cinderella on steroids. Very imaginative.

    • Augie says:

      Damn MCKEVIN! You are a character! If you weren’t born, Disney would have created you! I loved your story and laughed. But once I read your comments I held my gut in tears. Awesome!

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Augie you make me wish I had posted the original. Lol. I thought it was too over the top and I know some people hold their fairy tales near and dear. I’ll share this with you… In my original, the step mother died of cancer, the two step sisters opened a brothel and Rella planted a Weed garden to make much needed money. Jack Sprat occasionally brought cat, Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum was always up for some fun. I can’t tell you about Little Boy Blue horn being blown. Dirty Red Riding Good sold crack near the yellow brick road. Oh it was something Augie. The wicked witch bought some bad crack and turned a different shade of green and ordered her flying monkeys to kill Dirty Red. Finally, did you know Rella’s father was a wizard? Lol I’m ashamed to tell you the rest.LOL.

    • Augie says:

      please come out to play again!

    • Reaper says:

      McKevin I will say I am one who holds fairytales very dear and I loved this. Often people hold the Disney versions up as what they should be. I think you did what Uncle Walt did and modernized the Brothers. This was wonderful and having read some of the comments I think your original would have been amazing to read. This is however from the guy that as a writing exercise rewrote the three little pigs with the Wolf as an avenging Native American hero. So take that for what it is. I did notice you switched Rella to sister and that confused me until you mentioned the other two were at the ball already.

      • MCKEVIN says:

        Reaper you and the others comments means a lot because I don’t usually approach the prompts believing there will be a happy ending or that things will end in ribbon tied bow. My stories are sexual, violent and I hope mostly humorous. At least that’s the type of writer I’m striving to be. I like gun or bat toting senior citizens, fearless gay people and women who are not afraid to teach a man how to satisfy them. I like cigarette smoking nuns, horny preachers and sexually active ministers or church mothers.These are my peeps and I hope to make them my readers peeps also. Lol. The switch from “Rella” to “Sister” was intentional. 1.) I wanted to see who was paying attention. 2.) The narrator is one the stepsisters. The point that she identifies with “Rella” is when the stepmother inflicts pain and punishments. 3.) The narrator is talking to the prince explaining how the three sisters arrived to the ball. That I didn’t make as clear as I wanted. Lol. I’m glad you enjoyed it and maybe you’ll post your 3 little pigs story. I sure others as well as myself would love to read it. Thanks again for reading and commenting. I think I’m going to start a blog. Lol.

  14. snuzcook says:

    Hi Brian, or anyone else who might be having this problem:
    I find that when I try to post a comment, maybe once out of six, the bottom of the screen ad banner seems to be blocking the “post comment” command from taking, so I have to scroll up the screen a little further and try hitting ‘post comment’ again. But when I do, I get the message that it appears to be a duplicate comment.
    BUT the comment never posts.
    When hit “reply” again, the same comment is still in the box, waiting to be posted. I can only post it if I delete part of it or change it, so it no longer looks like a duplicate of a comment THAT HAD NOT POSTED.
    Since I have limited time to read and comment, it is inconvenient to have to try repeatedly to post so my compatriots know I am paying attention.

    • snuzcook says:

      Okay, now it looks like my duplicate posts are posting. Guess it’s just me. Argh!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I know that effect. It hits me more rarely, mostly when there are up over 500 comments to a given prompt. I react to it by (mostly) trusting the software – only a few posts have actually disappeared. On the other hand, I sometimes have to refresh the page a half-dozen times before my comment puts in an appearance.

  15. snuzcook says:

    This one was inspired by other stories and anecdotes posted earlier–you may recognize your influence as I recognized my own family members in yours. (Warning–a tad preachy and self-indulgently long)

    DRINK DEEP

    The family sat around the table that had been for them the anchor and the millstone for all their lives together. The meal was over, and the bottle stood in the center of the table, and it passed from hand to hand as each one spoke.

    It was a game practiced and perfected through generations, and the adult children had never known its origins, only its familiarity.

    The mother told a story of years ago when her adult daughter at the table had been an awkward and selfish child. She poured from the bottle and passed the glass to the daughter, who held it in her hands. Everyone looked in silence at her. “Well, isn’t it true?” asked the mother. Finally, the daughter drank. A misshapen hand wormed its way out of her collarbone, hanging there limply. The young woman glanced at it through the corner of her eye, her head hanging as limply as the hand.

    The bottle was passed to an Uncle, who told his own tale, this time a story involving the father and a grown son. The three of them laughed, and the bottle was passed to the father, who drank and laughed at the extra nose that appeared on his face, and passed it to the son, who drowned his hollow laugh with a drink, and coughed slightly when a foot emerged from his shoulder.

    The son then, with a resentful tone, told a story on the other brother—the younger, the favorite. It was a story of unfair privileges given, and older brother took another drink before passing the bottle to the younger. A second mouth erupted from the older brother’s forehead, sticking out its tongue. The younger brother threw back his drink in irritation, and felt his head as a pair of long, pointed ears grew behind his own.
    The daughter snatched the bottle and told a scathing story of her mother. She took a drink again before passing the bottle across to her parent, and another hand flopped out of her shoulder. She watched defiantly as the mother held the bottle.

    “Drink, Drink” they all cried, but instead the mother shoved the stopper into it and carried the bottle out of the room.

    The table was soon deserted. It was late, and time for the grown children to go back to their own homes.
    Out in the cool evening, the brothers and sister walked to their cars. The sister tossled the younger brother’s extra ears, and kissed his cheek. The ears shrank to only half their size as he got in his car and drove away. The older brother teased his sister about her extra hands, and the sister teased him about his two mouths and his extra foot.

    “Why do we go along with it,” she asked. He shrugged, his extra mouth making raspberry sound.

    “I guess it’s just who we are. Deep down inside, we’re just freaks like all the rest of them.” He turned to go, his shoulders slumped. She stood, absorbed in her own shame. Then she raised her head and called out.
    “You’re wrong. You are so much more, and so am I.” She said. “Have I told you recently how proud I am that you’re my big brother?”

    He straightened, his shoulders broadened, his head held erect. He turned, his body once again whole and unmarred. “You, too, Sis. You’re a good person. Don’t forget that.”

    She crossed her only two arms, strong and graceful, across her chest to contain the full heart she felt, and watched him drive away.

    Late at night in the silent house, the mother went to the cupboard. She took down the bottle and poured a generous serving. It was a needful thing; she could not sleep without it. In her robe, the outline of her unbound, misshapen body could be seen. Each drink awakened a fully grown miniature being, chattering and gesturing, whispering of wrongs to be avenged, and lies to be uncovered.

    Asleep at the other end of the house, the father dreamed of his youth with his pretty wife and his happy children, when love had been enough to share.

  16. rle says:

    Shelly Mitchell sat exhausted under the meager shade of a dying oak tree. Her children, eight year old Chris, and six year old Meghan, lay quietly beside her, welcoming the opportunity for a light nap. Shelly sifted the powder dry earth beneath her hands. She watched he offspring peacefully slumber, their little chests rising and falling in unison. She let her mind wander back three years to better times, before the drought, before the famine, the looting, the riots, the running, the death. The thoughts of life as it was did little to stifle her sadness. The only peace she found was knowing that the memories of their former life could never be taken away.

    Shelly knew that one tiny sip is all it would take to end the misery for all of them. She had been struggling with this horrid thought for days, trying to push it into the farthest recess of her mind. However, with each passing day, it crept closer and closer to the forefront of her being. How much longer could they bear the starvation, dehydration, and heat? How long could they keep running? How long before they were tracked down by a gang of thugs, raped, murdered, and then eaten? She knew without a doubt that eventually she and her children would meet a gruesome death.

    As the searing summer sun sank low in the western sky, Shelly used the massive tree trunk as a brace as she slowly tried to stand. Her strength was quickly waning and she knew this would be her last trip to the tiny water puddle they’d discovered several days earlier. Would her body let her make the 200 yard round trip? Would her mind let her carry out the deed in which she was about to partake?

    Just as she reached the river bank, Shelly stumbled and cascaded fifteen feet down into the bone dry river bed. She crawled thirty feet upstream to the rocky outcropping that partially concealed the precious hole from which they had been drawing water. When she first discovered the hole, the water had been nearly two inches deep and relatively clean. With each day that had passed, the water level had dropped and today all that remained was a mere quarter inch of brackish, piss warm liquid. By tomorrow, there would only be mud and the next day just another parched indentation in what used to be a beautiful flowing river teeming with life.

    She removed the cap of the water bottle she’d brought along and used it as a dipper, careful to get every drop inside the flimsy plastic bottle. When she’d poured in enough to give each of them one swig, she stopped. She puled two clear capsules from her front pocket and carefully emptied their contents into the bottle. “Dear God forgive me,” she whispered.

    When she returned to the tree, Chris and Meghan were awake, their malnourished bodies leaning against one another. Shelly crouched beside them and opened the bottle, “one drink,” she croaked weakly holding up her index finger. After they had each had their turn, Shelly took the last muddy sip. She tossed the bottle and took her children in her arms, squeezing them as tightly as her weak body would allow. Seconds later, they were all still.

    When Shelly opened her eyes, she found herself looking down on their lifeless husks. She heard her daughter squeal with glee, “Mommy, mommy, look, we have wings, we’re angels!”

    Shelly watched Chris as he tried out his own wings. They all joined hands and focused on their bodies below as their angelic selves rose higher and higher. One by one, they began to weep. On the barren baked earth where they had been, it slowly began to rain.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      That was heartwarming… Good job!

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is tragic and heartwarming, rle.

      My mind can’t quite place the time setting, whether a modern drought, post-apocalype, or the 1930’s prairie dust bowl. It’s probably not the 1930’s because back then marauders were less of a concern than bankers. That said, the story itself works in any time setting.

    • jhowe says:

      Tragic, sad, compelling and Magnificent. Well written story with a punch.

    • Reaper says:

      Wow. This is a story in the form of a mostly lost art. Tragedy bringing redemption and happiness. People pushed to extraordinary acts that we see as callous but know in our hearts are necessary and kind. The writing on this is amazing and you made me feel every second.

    • rle, as much as I love me a good bad ending, you had me up until the angel transformation and rain. You can end it at “[...]they were all still.” and I believe you’d have one hell of a masterpiece here. The exploration of the mother’s torment is excellent work. The second you go an inch further than the ending, I feel like it begins to tarnish your story and message. The same way I felt when I watched the end of “The Fog.” (Admittedly, I haven’t read that story yet, but my feelings stand just the same.)

      Other than the ending, great job throughout, rle. I’m glad I stopped in to read some stories today or I might have missed this treasure.

      • Augie says:

        Ohhhhh, Jay! Lets be kind to John Carpenter. A successful man that would never bother with the small people on this forum. While he might have been a ‘hater’ when it comes to other peoples works, he never filled the rank of “gladi-hater’. I agree the movie (Fog) had its perks, but hey, who are we after all?

        This was a well told story, and I love the way you produced it Rie. Well done….

  17. Matthew says:

    Part Three: (This came out to be just under 900 words)

    “Battle stations!” I heard my father call out.

    This is the moment I have been waiting for, to test myself in combat. I did not know what we would be facing.

    “We got a full legion of demons approaching the castle with mages behind them. I need every one of you up and moving now!” John Redcliff ran through the barracks.

    A legion? I could turn this into a fun competition. My heart raced as I packed up all my gear, knowing I would use most of it in battle tonight.

    Outside the sky was dark, setting an ominous battle scene. I started to run down the stairs and heard part of the north wall collapse. The demons were using magic to break apart the wall. I was the first out to the broken part of the gate; I had 3 other crimson elite right behind me.

    They took up position next to me and I pulled out my wand and ward.

    Protect me in battle. I said to myself. There was a mage to my right with a staff and a singularity as an orb. Another on the left was using a book and wand. The final mage behind me had a staff with an orb.

    “Incoming!” the mage to the left said.

    I put up my ward just in time to break up a fire attack that was aimed right at me. I felt the heat from the attack but I came out untouched.

    “Shadow,” I called out, “Send this demon back to where he came from.”

    With a flick of my wand, a mass of shadow energy moved towards the first demon. The demon had no time to react. It was hit with the shadow spell and collapsed to the floor, fading out of this realm.

    One down, only about… 50 some to go.

    We saw more reinforcements come, including my father. They went out the front gate and closed it. For every demon we knocked out, another one seemed to take its place. I looked over towards one of my friends, Della and motioned her over here.

    “There’s no use in attacking these demons, we have to get to the mages. I said to her.”

    “I can get a group to relieve your post and you can take a team to the mages.

    “Go quickly. I want you to come with me. Grab Matt also.”

    She ran off and I yelled to my small group.

    “We are going to take out the mages, may strength be with us.”

    I watched a group come over to my post. One of them was hit on the way over here and his arm was scorched. I could tell he was wincing, but he was a strong elite.

    I threw off a few casts of smoke to disorient the demons in front of us so we could sneak around the side.
    “Matt, Della, you three, come all with me.”

    Matt, Della, the other three mages and myself flanked left. We continued to throw smoke spells to disorient and weaken the demons.

    Della called shadow to surround us and keep us hidden. This idea would work for the mages, not the demons.

    The demons numbers were lessening, but then so were our troops. There was still about 30 or so demons out. I judged from the number of demons, there would be about 5 mages. While moving in the shadows I put the ward on my forearm and secured it there, then pulled the singularity out of my pocket.

    After a few minutes the first mage came into sight.

    We were far behind enemy lines. Unless the group that relieved us kills off the demons and heads straight for the mage, were all alone. I had confidence in my team.

    We got as close as we could.

    “On three, all of you fire a spell at the mage, mix it up, use a bit of everything.”

    “One.”

    “Two.”

    “Three.”

    I pulled significant strength out of my orb and threw a shadow spell towards the mage. This attack should overwhelm the mage, then the various sets of fire smoke and air spells should finish the mage. One thing I did not anticipate the mage had quick reaction time and a ward.

    I watched him take the full impact of my spell onto his ward, shattering it. The next few spells that hit him sent him to the floor as dead weight.

    Three crimson tinted, humanoid demons with curled horns and leathery wings came over and threw fire spells over at us in an attempt to protect its fallen master. I took an impact with my shield, Della and Matt cast up a shield to block the second attack, and the mage with the staff and orb took the full impact of a fire spell and disintegrated.

    It was our turn for an offence. I threw another strong shadow spell and made it split between two of the demons. It successfully eliminated one while the other was injured. Everyone else followed up my spells, dispatching easily of the demons.

    There was a still in our section of the battle.

    “Everyone okay?” I glanced over everyone and noticed we were missing one.

    “Ken got hit by a fire spell.” The mage with the singularity as an orb spoke.

    “Let his death not be in vain.”

    We continued to move to the next mage.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a nice action scene, Matthew, and it ties in nicely to part two. It’s good to see your talent and to see it exercised.

      My only point of criticism on here is that some of the actions are a bit wordy. For example, the “Protect me” paragraph could have a bunch carved out on a second editing pass. This is what I feel is essential to the actual paragraph (you of course are welcome to disagree).

      ‘Protect me in battle,’ I told myself. The mage to my right had a staff and a singularity orb, to my left was a book and wand, and behind me a staff with an orb.

      It’s about ten words shorter, but carries the same information; your reader knows the MC and her allies are going to be mages unless you say otherwise. The goal in action writing is to keep the words and sentences short while conveying as much information as possible. My first takes at action scenes are usually about 1.5 times final length before I begin carving, but the carving is definitely worth it to ramp up the tension.

      At least, that’s my two cents on the matter. Great story.

      • Matthew says:

        Thanks so much for the comments. I seem to have defeated the block I was experiencing and can now follow through on a story. I have other stories I can post parts of later, but id like to finish this one first. Then go through it and edit it. As you said I need to look at some parts in my latest post and carve some out. I want to wait for next weeks prompt to see if I can make it tie in. If I can’t ill continue with this one.

    • Reaper says:

      Matthew, this continues to be an interesting story and a good read. Tim covered amount of words, a thing I struggle with constantly. There are three things I would suggest looking at in the future.

      Word choice, with action you want quick hitting words. You have this great flow and voice carrying from your earlier exposition and a slight change would draw your reader in. Example. You have this “I put up my ward just in time to break up a fire attack that was aimed right at me. I felt the heat from the attack but I came out untouched.” and I would suggest something more like this. “I threw up my ward at the last second. Heat from the fire spell left me singed but unharmed.” Or something like that.

      Two is mindset. There is only one place I really noticed this but your MC refers to the demon as he. In real life soldiers are taught to dehumanize the enemy so they are not stuck in a moral dilemma about killing. It makes sense that with a demon a soldier would never think he, but it.

      Last is to be careful when using a word multiple times in a short span. Some words are common and have to be reused, however see if you can vary it up. In the paragraph after your count off you use the word mage four times in three sentences. The paragraph is powerful but the one word adds chop to the flow.

      Keep in mind, just my two cents and take with a grain of salt. The main thing to keep in mind is you are good and writing to a reader that may not be me. I have people read my work and ignore half or more of their edits and suggestions and feel everyone should do the same. Good stuff and keep it coming!

      • Matthew says:

        Thanks for the comments. I’m noticing a lot of my mistakes over several rereads. Oh. I finally see what you were talking about. The demon you are referring to was supposed to be a mage, but the same thing still might apply. Usually when I write these I’m in a zone and don’t carefully reread what I’ve written. I will try that from now on.

  18. agnesjack says:

    “Did I ever tell you the story about Uncle Fergus and the ‘petulant potion of perfect profusion’?”

    “No!”

    “Uncle Fergus was the fifth of five brothers who all lived together in a house on Fontaine Street.”

    “How come I never heard of him if he was your uncle?”

    “Because, Maggie, he wasn’t really my uncle. He was the town drunk who everyone called Uncle Fergus.”

    “That’s sad, Grandpa.”

    “Not really. He actually seemed to be the happiest man in town. He accepted his life for what it was, doing odd jobs, performing magic tricks for us local kids, and if you needed help with anything, he never said no. Everybody liked Uncle Fergus because he had a special kind of heart.”

    “What kind?”

    “Full, Maggie. His heart was full. Anyway, one evening, Uncle Fergus was sitting on his usual stool at the end of the bar in Sally’s Saloon and Popcorn Emporium.”

    “That’s silly.”

    “Had the best popcorn in town. And for some reason, Sally wasn’t tending bar that night. Instead, Cyril, who had to use stilts because he was a midget, was behind the bar. Cyril had come into town with the circus but never left because he fell in love with Libby the Librarian. Anyway, Uncle Fergus had already had a few when he became transfixed by a bottle on the highest shelf.”

    That green one! Uncle Fergus said, pointing. I’ve never seen that one before, Cyril. Let me have a taste.
    But, Cyril shook his head and said, I don’t think so, Uncle Fergus. Do you know what that is?
    Aw, come on, Cyril, at least take the bottle down and let me see the label.
    So, Cyril reached up with the tongs, carefully grabbed the green bottle by the neck and brought it down.”

    “Oh, Grandpa! I know what the label said: ‘petulant potion of perfect profusion’. Right?”

    “Good memory, Mag, but no. It actually said, in very elaborate, curlicue letters: ‘PPofPP’ and in very small letters underneath, ‘Bottled with love and laughter by the Dionysus Distillery and Dinner Theatre’.”

    “Grandpa!”

    “I kid you not. And you know what happened? Uncle Fergus couldn’t resist and opened the bottle and took a sip before Cyril could stop him.
    Oh, Uncle Fergus, you don’t know what you’ve done. This is very bad. It’s a bad potion that accentuates people’s desires.
    And just as Cyril said that, an arm grew out of Uncle Fergus’s left side.
    See? As if two-fisted drinking isn’t enough. Do you see?
    I don’t know, Cyril. It kinda doesn’t have much taste, Uncle Fergus said and took another sip. An arm appeared on his right side, but Uncle Fergus didn’t seem to notice.
    You know what, Cyril? he said as he put the cork back in the bottle. All that sparkles is not gold, eh? I think I’ll just have a beer.
    And with that request, his new arms fell off with a thud on the floor and two wings popped out of his shoulders.”

    “Really, Grandpa? Really?”

    “Well, to tell you the truth, none of the other patrons saw any of this. They all claimed that Uncle Fergus let out a big laugh and fell forward dead from a heart attack, but Cyril swore to his dying day that Uncle Fergus flapped his new wings and flew, happily away.”

    “Aw, Grandpa.”

    “Goodnight, Magpie.”

    “Goodnight, Grandpa.”
    ___________

    (This is not my forte and I’m over the limit, but I didn’t want to miss another week. — Nancy)

    • Manwe38 says:

      This is an interesting cross between a deep legend and a bedtime story.

      I liked it…especially how you left Uncle Fergus’s fate open. I’d like to think that he really did fly away, and may return someday, still with wings.

      Thanks for sharing :).

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Oh Nancy, I loved this take . Even a little Music Man thrown in for good pleasue {Merion, The Librarian.] You can’t use any line from a musical that I won’t catch. Try me if think I’m kidding. Having the grandpa tell the story was the perfect setting. I especially liked the midget who worked the bar on stilts.

        Two hands to work the stilts. and serve drinks at the same time is a ‘you know’.

    • snuzcook says:

      I think you did this prompt proud, Nancy! Fun story, delivered with lost of humor and warmth. I’d love to hear more of this Grandpa’s stories.

    • snuzcook says:

      I think you did this prompt proud, Nancy! Fun story, delivered with lots of humor and warmth. I’d love to hear more of this Grandpa’s stories.

      • snuzcook says:

        Sorry for the redundancy–don’t know why cause I only posted once. Earlier on this prompt I wrong a long response to someone else, posted it, it told me I had already posted it, and then it never showed up.

    • Augie says:

      I read this three times. So well written. Thanks for the post, and I hope you have time in the future to continue sharing.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      I liked it. I glad you pushed yourself and tried something new.

    • Observer Tim says:

      One of the things I love about this site is the genuine humility of the authors. I’ve just finished reading through a tale so tall you could run a flag up it presented in a clear and fun voice, then the authour says it’s not her forte. This story has no need of an apology, and neither do you. We’re here in part to stretch ourselves, and this stretch is graceful like a cat’s.

      Of course, I also know the magic that flows when the prompt aligns with your forte, Nancy.

    • Reaper says:

      This is sheer magic. Any other word I can use does not do it justice. You have the humor and the tall tale aspect but there is so much more. The responses in the beginning are poetic perfection, He actually seemed to be the happiest man in town, and full Maggie tugged at my heart strings. There is not enough good to be said about this one.

    • jhowe says:

      Crimony, I can’t begin to say how well written and fun this is. Good job.

      • agnesjack says:

        TO ALL: I can’t tell you how happy you all have made me with your positive comments. I’ve been busy this summer taking care of some personal issues that have been draining and difficult, so your compliments are a cool, rejuvenating elixir — or, perhaps, a positive potion for potential peace? I love this forum.

        Manwe38: I agree. I’d like to think that Uncle Fergus is still out there, too. Thanks for reading.
        Kerry: Ah, you caught me! I did think of you when I put the librarian in. And the stilts part … Well, Cyril had been in the circus, after all. I can see him balancing a drink on each shoulder and one on his head. ;-)
        Snuzcook: You’ve given me a wonderful idea. Once I got into the story, I actually had fun with the characters and locale. I think I may try to write a few more and see what happens.
        Augie: Thanks so much, Augie. I’ve really missed reading everyone’s stories. I see so many new names, now, that I can’t wait to get back into participating in the wonderful conversation that ensues from the writing.
        MCKEVIN: Thanks. I love that this forum helps us step away from our comfort zone.
        OTim: Thank you for your kind words, and you are so right. We never should apologize for our work. This forum is our playground, where we may fall and scrape a knee, but that’s O.K. It is not a place to be perfect.
        Reaper: Your comment made my day. Thank you. The alliteration in the beginning was actually my jumping off point. Once I started having fun with that, and the incongruous names of the places, the story came to life. I love when that happens.
        jhowe: Thank you. I’m smiling from ear to ear.

  19. Augie says:

    When I watch the news, I miss the hunt. You can see where my mind is this week.

    ………..

    They call my wife, Seala, my daughter, “little feather.” The ferry’s car decks coming from Bainbridge Island and Edmonds is filled with Harleys and Hummers. It must have been a site to see for the ferry workers as the eyes of death stare them down.

    That evening it reminded of the movie ‘Field of dreams; as the headlights pulled into my driveway in Kingston, WA. We live on many acres in the woods, and needed every inch.

    My brothers arrive for my official retirement ceremony.

    As always, we have rules. I rented a connex box to accommodate. Each brother that arrives removes his cell phone, weapon, keys, and the shields that protect his heart and puts them in a box. Once the connex is sealed, the fire is lit.

    Not customary, but my wife and daughter are invited to share in our laughter and tears as we sit around the pit. After all, they were given call names from my brothers, earning the seat.

    We kept it light at first, but the darkness of the other world is difficult to measure.

    Once the ladies arms grew talons, gripping in anger. They soared above each tale with mighty wings. You could feel the anger in their eyes, the desire to plunge down, ripping the demons to shreds.

    Tank, a 7’2, 350 pound brother lifts them and carries them into the house. He spends the rest of the evening telling them sweet stories until their talons relax, vision restores, and wings tuck in.

    Around the pit, we soar deeper into darkness. Were the demons claimed our own.

    The other world has many demons.

    We are the hunters……

    • snuzcook says:

      The image of the ferry workers confronted by steely-eyed men on Harleys stuck with me, Augie. A great image to open this story.
      A powerful telling in this story, and revelation of the power that exists in telling. Thank you.

      • Augie says:

        Snuzcook, I thought returning to the shire would be much easier. This day I described was a wonderful day. (even though I was embarrassed during the ‘what I mean to them part’) I wrote this without concern for grammar, and hit the post button. I’m not used to this world where I can pick up the remote control and turn off where I should, and desire to be. Thank-you for your wonderful comments to this, and my prior post about Doc. He was definitely talked about around the pit. My respects…

        • snuzcook says:

          Someone in my life had the heart of a warrior and battled all his life, in the service and outside of it. He lived most of his life apart from us on many levels. He sought to live a life of honor but was raised to live in shame–and so he never inhabited his true heart until late in life. He did not find the fellowship that that you describe until months before his death. He did not find freedom except riding his Harley–which he did even in his illness. Your stories, tho of different experiences and different people, beat with a similar song, and in my mind, I place him beside you.

          • Augie says:

            Just know, this is my fiftieth response to you. I have erased all the words and spent hours with different things to say in response. He lived in honor, and now sits next to my father. Its difficult to understand us, I know. The song is the same, the beats are the same, No matter what story is told. Our past makes us who we are, and believe me, We are… I hope you sneak in some details on his story for me, so I can take the reigns.

            This story shall be told.

            Our final ‘salute’ after fire talk, welcome fallen brothers to tell their stories. I know it sounds odd, But not to us. We are of another breed I guess. I don’t want to end this it the typical bullshit thank-you, so I will say. I believe, this warrior you speak of has found a home in fellowship with those that understand.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      That was touching Augie.. Good job.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is very deep, Augie. I can feel the cameraderie born of shared honour, responsibility and trauma flowing through this. The ritual is so well thought-out and understandably selective. It’s great the way the transformation of “the girls” is metaphysical.

      Thanks for sharing this part of yourself.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks Observer. I have been a bit off this week, this morning we made a house agreement “no more news channels’ If I had the right mind, I would create my own news show. Im sure great deeds are done every day around the globe, I would like to hear those announced on news. Anyway, thanks for your comments. I will mention to you, none of us consume beverages until the fire is out. (then we party like man men!) HA!

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Wow, the way you described the ladies’ transformation, was superb. This feels like poetry.
      I feel like I say this every time you post, but I always look forward to and love your stories. Thank you for deeming us worthy of hearing your tales – true and otherwise. Don’t think that, just because I say something often, means that I mean it less.

      • Augie says:

        Ahh,,, No words go unheard . That is the magic of writing and telling. I am not a writer, Kitten, I am a person that opens up, spilling Un-Narrated words. Thank you for your kind words… (BTW, I am not am weirdo, My daughter smiles as I respond to you) Thank you! And I look foreword to your post,

  20. I wanted to write something other than humor/parody/crack stuff a shot seeing as my previous replies to prompts often were dipped in humor. Hope you guys enjoy this.

    The Vow

    “Do you know what you have done?!”

    My father raged as he whirled around to turn a contemptuous glare onto me, his eyes blazing with utter fury and a turmoil of emotions. I inwardly felt smug satisfaction at seeing the hint of frustration on his face.

    If only you could see how much you have fallen…

    “My apologies, father.” I murmured, full of sincere regret and bowing my head to let my bangs fall over my eyes. Let him think that I was contrite, that I was remorseful over what I had done. What he did not know that I had already learned, already knew how to play this game, this court where lies could be truths, and truths could be lies or both remain as they were. It was where this art, to weave deception like a charlatan of the highest order, to act seamlessly, reigned over all.

    Where I was unsurpassed.

    “Leave,” he ordered, disgust in his voice. “I have no wish to see your face.”

    Smoothly rising from my seat, I gave a brisk, apologetic nod and left the room, leaving my father to his turmoil.

    Your arrogance will be the death of you…

    I spared a glance at my watch as I made my way down the wide, familiar corridors, and couldn’t resist the tug of a smirk. It was –

    “Everything going to plan, I see,” Gabriel’s voice cuts me out of my thoughts and I shrug indifferently, not turning to look at him. Though I would never tell it to his face, but I wished that he was my actual brother.

    “Of course. Has the package arrived?”

    “What do you think?” He raised an eyebrow.

    Without replying, I just rolled my eyes and gave him a short wave as I made my way towards my chambers. The outer parts of my chambers were open to most of the household, the inner chambers a very selective few.

    I entered my inner sanctum to find it on my study table. Opening it, I took out the vial and uncorked it, smirking.

    “Cheers.” And I downed it.

    All was silent for awhile, and then –

    “Layneth.”

    “Sienna.” I turned to see her in her full demonic form.

    “Congratulations on getting your full powers back. It’s time, don’t you think?” she quirked an eyebrow, mischief and cunning in her ‘delicate’ features.

    “Indeed.”

    No more will you rule, father. This kingdom will be mine. I will succeed where you have failed.

    For mother.

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Nice. Sounds like the opening chapter to something fantasy…. Good one.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is good, theexpressivewriter. It’s an interesting take that the Layneth is intending to get the effects.

      My only quibble is that, where the Layneth’s emotions are being described, “sincere” is flat-out lying to the reader, which is an unforgivable sin. Several of them need to be recast into sarcastic form, or the she needs a moment when her internal emotions shift.

      • Thanks. I wanted to take a different twist to the previous prompts I’ve done – I’ve been writing a lot of pieces with humor these days and I wanted a break.

        Woops. Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t notice until you pointed it out in your comment. I’ll do my best to keep that in mind for my writings.

    • Reaper says:

      I feel like I am missing an important reference here that the interwebs are failing to provide me. The writing is good and the story compelling. I thought I knew the main character before the reveal but was lost it seems.

      • I agree. Some details in the prompt could have been more filled out, and a bit more background could have been provided, I feel, after re-reading it a few times.

        Thank you! I’m glad that it’s compelling enough, despite it actually being less than 500 words. Sorry, but could you explain what you mean by “lost”? I’m kinda confused.

        • Reaper says:

          What I meant by lost is it feels like I should know who the Layneth is. It feels like you are referencing something from a book of faith or culture but not one that I know. I did a search and was unable to find anything that fit. So it is entirely possible that this is completely your own creation and you just did such a good job with it that my reading makes me want to believe there is this rich legend being drawn on that I do not know. It is also possible I am reading into this and picking up on a back story you have in you mind and if that is the case it is simply amazing and I would love to read more.

          When I was reading this I started to feel it was the story of Samael’s fall from grace to becoming the light bringer, so it may just be that assumption causing all of this for me as well. I hope that clarifies as I feel like I have managed to be more confusing.

  21. lionetravail says:

    Deva Rising

    Trees splintering and slashing at my face, my arms, my whole body, as the elephant crashed through the woods with me on it, is the last thing I remember. Before that, all is a peculiar grey, like a heavy mist over perfectly still water, close-feeling, but still and infinite.

    I sit up amid soft, tall grass, and nothing hurts. My skin is nut-brown as I inspect my arms, and I seem to be naked but for a few shreds of fabric. I am, apparently, thin but muscular- as I stand, I can see my ribs, but also the bunched muscles of my chest and belly. There are scratches here and there across my body which bled, but have already clotted.

    When I put my hand to my head as I look around, I feel that my hair is matted. My first thought is blood, but my exploring fingers find no wound, and come away clean.

    Around me are the trees of some forest, with grasses and flowers in sunny spots where the sun shines through. It’s hot. I smell fresh water nearby. It all somehow feels familiar, but I don’t know where I am, or what it all means.

    “Dēvatva,, ātē haiṁ, āpa kī pratīkṣā kara rahē haiṁ… isa saphara taya.”/ “Divinity, come, come this way… you are awaited.”

    The soft Hindi words come from behind me. I turn to see an old man, nut brown like me, only old- skin wrinkled, back stooped, and shaven-headed. He’s wearing a saffron-colored robe, which I instinctively know is traditional.

    He turns to walk, and I follow him. His pace is slow, and he glances back over his shoulder at me, smiling widely and beckoning. His teeth are yellowed, with gaps, his eyes rheumy, his joints swollen. He is entirely his smile, and he is beautiful.

    Shortly, we arrive at the shore of a lake where others like him wait. They are humming, but stop when I arrive. All turn to look at me.

    The old man who led me beckons me to the water’s edge. “Drink.”

    I look at the water and can think of no reason not to. I kneel and cup the water in both hands.

    As I stand, the semblance of humanity sloughs away from me- first one arm sprouts, then a match on the other side, giving me a second pair below the first. I feel my wings once again push out from my back, and I extend them, enjoying the stretch. As I turn to face the monks, my third eye, in the center of my forehead, opens and sees them as they begin to sing.

    ~”Om Shivaya nahama”~/ ~“Salutations to the Auspicious One”~

    And I know myself again, transcended from the mortal existence in which I had found peace. I turn to the monks, who bow to me, still singing.

    I am once again Shiva, and necessity calls me back to all I am.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      This a beautiful, peaceful rendition of a spiritual transformation and it is, to tell the truth an experience I hadn’t expected from the first few words written here. I can tell this is from the depth of your heart and soul and virtually leaves me speechless in the early morning. Thank you for the soulfull trip.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a wonderfully mystical story of apotheosis, lionetravail. You painted a serene and beautiful picture of the return of memory, and the bit of Hindi really helped set the scene. I am impressed.

      • lionetravail says:

        Thank you both, OT and Kerry for sharing your very kind thoughts. Tim, I got the feeling you’ve been just aching to use ‘apotheosis’ in a sentence :) – I’m so glad I gave you the chance!

        Both of you used peaceful/serene, and beautiful, in your descriptions, and it is immensely gratifying to me that those were the dominant feelings you took away from this. I’d read through many of the earlier prompts (not much time to comment this week, but I am reading, I promise!) and loved the many ideas which came out so far. But for me, the visual of extra arms, and wings, and a transformation just screamed “Hindu” or “Babylonian” mythology, and I thought that a non-traumatic, almost natural-feeling transmogrification could be beautiful.

        And for me, the most profoundly joyful part to write (and reread) is the description of the ancient and visually unappealing monk, followed by the non-typical description: “He is entirely his smile, and he is beautiful.” I find that I am most proud of that line in particular.

    • Augie says:

      fascinating! Great story!

    • snuzcook says:

      A beautiful narration, lionetravail! The tone so sedate even through the MCs confusion. No panic, just noticing. I agree with you, that the line ‘He is entirely his smile, and he is beautiful’ is masterful.
      I worry, though, that this is the return of Shiva–whom I understand destroys ego, destroys self-deception but also literally is a Destroyer. I have the sense that this is the end of a peaceful time…

      • lionetravail says:

        Snuzcook, (as pretty much always) you’ve used your insight to cut right to the heart of the dichotomy of Shiva, and by extension, the potential end to the ‘grace period’ of peace. Having done some research into the Hindu gods (and taking, perhaps, some liberty with the wings here), what strikes me are the mixture of benevolent and fearsome forms. I imagine that these parallel nature and the universe, which can likewise be both, and you saw so clearly the potential for where this story might go.

        In one of his manifestations, Shiva is called either “The Destroyer” as you’ve pointed out, and also “The Transformer”; I have not yet really thought about what awesome things might call him from his idyllic, peaceful self to the more awe-some manifestation, but I did feel that was portending, much as you have. Thank you for stimulating me to think further in that direction… I will see if I have anything more to add :)

    • MCKEVIN says:

      Nice. Sounds like a superhero just waiting to happen. Lol. Good job.

    • Reaper says:

      lionetravail I am going to agree with beautiful, peaceful, and serene. Which is amazing to me. I have this soft spot for religions that are misunderstood in western culture and love your focus here. We have this fixation on Shiva in her form as the World Destroyer so we forget her gentle aspect as the mother and you did a wonderful job with that here. Instead of seeing this as the end of I read it as her falling out of her destroyer aspect and being returned home to her gentler nature. You have a way with this that seems natural and I love that focus. I agree that the smile line is wonderful. It is one of the two in this that really struck me, the other which was very powerful was, And I know myself again. Just beautiful.

      • lionetravail says:

        Thank you for your insightful thoughts on this, Reaper, and I am so glad that you shared them with me! For yes, even though Shiva is known in its aspect as “Destroyer”, destruction is, in some measure, part of the natural order- it is our culture that looks at that destruction as ‘bad’, such as the huge damage caused by a storm. But in many faiths, it is as much an agent of Transformation as it is Destruction, and I’m ecstatic that you felt the gentle, unhurried, unworried mortal monks, unafraid of the “Destroyer” rising in their time. For them, such an upheaval is all part of the natural cycle of their frame of reference.

        Thanks to your comments, I can look at what I’ve written in a different light, and it makes me look smarter than I am at the extra layers of meaning you’ve intuited.

        So thank you especially for that.

    • jhowe says:

      Loved the whole ride that led to the transformation and the sloughing of humanity into godhood. Very well written and enjoyable, my two favorite aspects in a story. I bet Shiva has some pretty wild yoga moves.

    • lionetravail says:

      Thank you everyone for reading and commenting so kindly!

  22. Resnir says:

    “Good afternoon, may I take your order?”

    “Just a black coffee, no cream, no sugar please,” I reply, taking off my hat and setting it down next to me. “And can I get a blueberry scone too?”

    “Coming right up,” she replied monotonously, and sauntered away towards the kitchen. There aren’t many diners Tuesday after work. Maybe the lack of tips really ticks off the waiters and waitresses.

    The window I’m sitting next to has a clear view of the street outside. But that doesn’t matter. All I see is the usual stuff anyways, crowds of people walking by, yellow cabs stuck in traffic, little children tripping adults, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, some drama. And even then, it’s only a mild argument or relationship fight.

    I open my computer bag and take out my laptop, typing in my password. Be a New York Time’s Journalist, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.

    I hate my job.

    The pay isn’t too bad, and the prestige and respect aren’t shabby either. After all, not everyone gets to be a journalist there. My main problem? The content. It seems I can’t go two or three days before the boss calls me into his office and sends me on to report about another car crash, bus crash, train wreck, or police chase. And, (oh boy) if I’m lucky, I get to take an all expense paid trip to the prison to hear about the recent shanking (I think that’s what they call it) that happened in the showers.

    Forget all these wrecks, the biggest wreck of all is my future.

    There doesn’t seem to be a way out of this. Want to quit? Everyone else hiring majors in English and Journalism don’t pay as well. I’m trapped.

    “Here’s your coffee and scone sir.”

    “Thank you,” I mutter absent-minded, taking the tray and cup. My computer was still loading. Free wi-fi has its draw backs.

    “Anything else I can get you?”

    “Oh, uh, no thank you,” I stutter. Zoning out is my only other talent. The waitress nods and walks away. I take out my notepad from my pocket and pull up an empty word document. The story for today was yet another attempted prison breakout. The warden wasn’t too “intelligent” and I didn’t have much to go by.

    “The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has seen quite a few ups and downs in its past years…” I breathe, typing the few words. “…with budget cuts and lack of staffing, it seems that the security surrounding the facility has fluctuated more in the inmates’ favor…”

    The sun was shining. Children were laughing. Some lucky guy out there is getting laid. And I’m writing about a guy in an orange jumpsuit who jumped a fence, shanked and guard and almost made it through the checkpoints before he was stopped. Good on me, good on me. Without this, who would’ve known?

    Coffee’s cold by now. Again, that’s the way I like it. All my friends keep bugging me, “Gavin, you gotta try this iced coffee!” Nope. Never again. Too cold, hate it. Regular coffee’s too hot, and I don’t like that either. Cooled coffee is just right, even if it tastes worse. One of the many things I have to live with.

    Holding the cup up, I drink it all in one gulp. No use taking sips to prolong the agony.

    “The inmate, identified as Corey Willingston, was able to jump over the fence and stabbed a guard with a sharpened plastic knife, after which he made it through several checkpoints before being stopped just in front of the main gate…”

    The brightness is really stinging my eyes. I check to make sure it’s turned down, and continue. Of course, life just keeps getting worse and everything starts going blurry. Glasses. I have glasses in my bag. If only I could…

    Rumbling. My stomach is rumbling, and I know where this is going. Getting up, I run into the men’s room and lock the door behind me, pray to god I don’t have gas.

    Everything’s growing dim. Were there drugs in that coffee?

    Something’s pounding on my right side. I stumble over to the mirror, my muscles spastic. Lifting my shirt, I nearly shit myself.

    An arm.

    An actual, functioning arm was hanging off the side of my body. What’s worse? I CAN FEEL IT. My heart’s pounding in my ears, and I step back, shaking. Shit shit shit. This is not what I had planned for my Tuesday.

    Another arm pops out the other side, then, (and I’m not kidding) a wing pops out of my back, ripping my fairly expensive coat. Then another. Guess what comes next? Yup! A freaking tail between my legs. And to top if all off, another pair of wings!

    Now I look like the devil, and feel like one too. What now? Someone’s pounding at the door. What do I say? “Sorry, I’m turning into a mutant in here, could you hold it?”

    “I’m Busy,” I reply, though it’s not my voice. I now officially sound like an orc (ha ha, world of warcraft reference, that’s partially what I spend my hard-earned money on). There were no windows, no methods of escape.

    “Hey! Hurry it up in there!”

    I raise my head and let out a mighty roar. Tearing down the door, I pick up the man and rip him in half.

    I hate it most of all when they knock.

    ———————————————————–
    I toss the paper on the ground and massage my eyes. Of all the crappy papers and half-assed essays I had to read today, this has got to be the worst. Teaching college English is the worst.

    “What do you think?” The kid asks me. The kid has the nerve to ask me my opinion. What do I say? It sucked? I wish I had never read it? What were you thinking? Are you high?

    “In my most honest opinion,” I reply, controlling all my hate and rage at such a poorly written, ridiculous paper, “I think you need to get out of my class. Now.”

    The kid shrugs, takes his work and swaggers to the door, pants sagging and eyes half-lidded. I take out my grade book and make a mark next to his name. Next time he comes in here, I’m giving him a drug test.

    The girl behind him hands me her paper, and rushes out the door. Putting on my glasses again, I read the title.

    “The Economics of Porn.”

    I toss the paper in the trashcan and take out my computer. It’s never too late to start a letter of resignation.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a lovely reflexive take on the prompt, Resnir. I’m a little suprised the MC doesn’t resonate more with the hero of the inner story. I guess some blindness is self-inflicted.

    • Reaper says:

      I think Tim nailed this one. There is a mild but not large shift in voice from the paper to the MC so I am also surprised there is not more sympathy. Ah the horrors of being a teacher. Love the title of the second paper.

  23. Prairie Dog says:

    I’m new to this so here goes…..

    AN AUDIENCE WITH THE KING

    The King of the Northlands looked at the wizard standing before him. The stranger had come into the kingdom performing feats of magic and proclaiming his desire for an audience with the King. The King had obliged.

    “So Wizard, what do you desire from an audience with the King?”

    “My lord, I would offer my services in return for some consideration.” replied the wizard with a respectful bow.

    “And what services have you to offer me?” asked the King.

    “What are your wishes, my lord?”

    The King stared at the wizard, considering the question.

    “It would be of service to me, Wizard, if your magic could make me invincible in battle, could enable me to know the movements of my enemies, and to know their thoughts and plans. Can you do this for me, Wizard?”

    “My lord, the first two I can deliver, but the last I cannot fully control.”

    “And what consideration would you have in return, Wizard?”

    “My lord, I would sit at your right hand and gain great wealth and power from our victories.”

    The hint of a smile appeared on the King’s face. “If you truly can deliver these powers, the whole world could be ours. Do your magic, wizard.”

    The Wizard reached into his travel sack and retrieved a vial of blue liquid. “Take one small sip, my lord, and wait for the magic to take effect.”

    The King accepted the vial and took a sip, then watched in astonishment as an arm emerged painlessly from just below his rib cage.

    “You will be invincible in combat, my lord, as you are able to wield weapons and shields beyond that of any opponent. Another sip, my lord, will complete the spell.”

    The King obliged and another arm emerged from the opposite side of his torso.

    “Yet another sip, my lord, and you will know the movements of your enemies”.

    The King took another sip and waited. A wing of glossy black feathers emerged from his shoulder blade and grew until it reached the ground.

    “My lord, one more sip will allow you to fly high above the battlefield and watch your enemies as ants on a hill.”

    The King took another sip and smiled as the set of glossy black wings was completed.

    “I am much pleased, Wizard. With this last sip I will have my wish to know my enemies thoughts and plans.”

    “Wait, my lord, recall I cannot fully control the power for some wishes. Doing magic on the mind is unsure business.”

    “Surely, Wizard, you would not offer a spell that might do me ill?”

    “No, my lord, the potion will do you no ill. The spell will either serve to grant the power you wish for, or should it fail, you will lose the wishes granted to you so far, and all recollection of my audience.”

    The King pondered before replying. “Fear of failure is for the weak, Wizard”, and with that he swallowed the last sip.

    The King was struck rigid and gazed into the distance without truly seeing. His new wings and arms withdrew back into his body. The wizard plucked the empty vial from the fingers of the King, and placed it back into his travel pack.

    The King’s awareness returned. He shook his head as though clearing it of a fog, and stared at the wizard standing before him.

    Finally the King spoke, “So Wizard, what do you desire from an audience with the King?”

    The Wizard smiled, confident the King had no recollection of the powers he had just gained and lost.

    “My lord, I ask for nothing more than your good graces as I visit your kingdom.”

    The King stood looking confusedly at the magician, “Of course, Wizard, of course. You make take your leave with my good graces.”

    “You are too kind, my lord,” said the Wizard as he bowed and eased backward toward the door.

    As the Wizard took his leave he smiled to himself and wondered whether the King of the Southlands would prove as foolish and greedy for power as this King of the Northlands.

    • Manwe38 says:

      I like this. The king was nice and arrogant–just what I’d expect.

      Interesting take on the prompt.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a well-told tale, Prairie Dog. You brought out the personalities of both characters very well through the dialogue and the Wizard’s thoughts.

      I’m a bit curious as to how the Wizard benefitted from this, as the situation was set up with no implied threat to him and there’s no indication as to whether he needed the permission of the king to hang about.

      • Prairie Dog says:

        Thanks you for the comments, which are very helpful.

        My thinking was that the wizard was not threatened, but was in search of power and wealth himself through a partnership. He does not find one with this king and plans to move on.

        Your comments tell me this was not made perfectly clear, and that a threat to the wizard would have increased the drama and interest in the story. Again, thanks for the encouragement and the helpful critique.

      • Prairie Dog says:

        Thanks for the encouragement and helpful comments.

        My intent was to show the wizard not as threatened but as seeking power himself through a partnership, but not finding one with this king, he moves on.

        I believe your comments show that this was not made perfectly clear and suggest that a threat to the wizard would add drama and interest to the story. A very helpful critique. Thanks.

    • Augie says:

      Thank-you for this, great story. I look forward to your future post.

      • Prairie Dog says:

        Thank you, Augie. I’ve really enjoyed your work, but since I’m new I’ve been shy about making comments. I’m feeling more a part of things now though.

    • Reaper says:

      Welcome Prairie Dog. This has the feel of a fairytale to it. I love it for that alone. I can see where some tension might do something for it but I don’t think it really needs that to be honest. Instead of coming across as a man looking for power your MC instead comes across as someone looking for a good king, one who will not be greedy and be happy with what he has gained. It has that sort of morality story feel to it which makes me love it even more.

    • jhowe says:

      You wrote this in a way that led me through the process with the king very well. I thought the wizzard handled himself well and I was saying to the king, ‘don’t take that last sip dummy.” But he did and the wizzard moved on. Perhaps we will see the wizzard again in the Southlands…I hope so. Well done.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      I will join the welcoming committee, and say “welcome”.
      This is a fantastic read, I think you do well to write in the fantasy genre.
      I got the impression that the wizard was being sent out as a spy, to find the weaknesses of the Kings; since he had no desire to harm the King, only to find out if he would fall prey to greed.

  24. DARKEST SPIRIT

    The stranger had come from far away, it did not matter where. He had found us, the chieftain had stressed. And more would certainly follow.

    His visit to my hut the day the white man surfaced would prove enough. I lived alone on the village’s outskirts, a silent testimony of years past, his subtle rise to power.

    “Mbeleme, you know what I want. He cannot leave.”

    His lithe fingers traced my wicker chest, my bottles of potions. I nodded darkly, sitting near the open window. The day was baking hot, and monkeys hid in the upper branches, examining our hunting parties.

    “Azothori—don’t worry,” I replied. “Tomorrow.”

    He stepped back into the doorway, his eyes hardened. “This entire village counts on you.”
    ________________________________________

    At the feast, we gave him the second-best seat around the chief’s table. The children were already enthralled with him, laughing as they touched his pale skin. I pulled Minitoka aside, my little daughter who was the summation of my hopes.

    “I don’t want you talking to the stranger,” I’d commanded. “He is bad luck for the tribe.”

    “But why, father?” After a mere look from me, she silenced.

    The women brought out freshly killed boar on platters. I sat next to Azorothi, who gave me a knowing look. There was the brew, a mixture of frog’s blood and poisonous plants, sitting in the wide cup in front of the white man.

    “This Mbeleme,” the chief said, pointing to me. “Medicine man.”

    He nodded, extending his hand out. I ignored it, staring into his eyes. They were a startling dark green, vibrant, yet fearful. He wouldn’t let go of the book he held at his side, the one with the unknown tongue. Why have you come? I wanted to say. Why disturb us?

    Instead, Azorothi gestured to the cup. Four warriors with spears stood around the three of us, and I could hear the women and children talking outside, working, playing.

    “Drink,” he said, and the stranger smiled, lifting it to his lips and swallowing. Perhaps he thought it would make us allies, or bring him into our trust. But it was neither.

    It took a few minutes, in the middle of eating, before it started. He suddenly grabbed his waist in pain as something began to burst from his skin. An arm ruptured out, fingers grasping wildly, and then another one, a third, a fourth. His mouth open, no yell came from the intense pain.

    Azorothi sat placidly, watching as he briefly struggled. Finally all was still, the white man slumped to the floor, blood covering his entire body and ripped clothing. The warriors took him and his belongings outside to the jungle, into the tall trees, where he would remain.
    ________________________________________

    At the midnight ceremony, I tossed his thick book into the bonfire, surrounded by cheering warriors and beating drums, watching as the flames eagerly devoured the treat. I never knew what it contained, but was swept up by the moonlight, dancing. For once, I was praised, but I didn’t feel like celebrating.

    For my mistake, demons would come in his footsteps, armed with guns and whips. Our old way of life, our ancestry would shatter. And yet, even more would certainly follow.

    (I wish I could’ve made this longer. My original plan was for the stranger to be a doctor as well, and have more conflict with the MC, but I think it’s still good anyways. GH)

    • Manwe38 says:

      This definitely felt like part of a larger story, but it was still very good. You’re capturing a mythos here and have a good sense of depth.

      I would like to see more.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I follow in Manwe38’s footsteps. Sometimes when I read such a tale, my wish would be for the writer to let loose with the story. So it goes to 600 or seven hundred. Sometimes I prefer it that way. Most of mine hover at 550 or less. But nothing stops from adding a part two. You could back story the doctor and why he had come. I’d like to read it and I think the others would also.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a vivid and impressionistic take, Bilbo. It echoes Victorian tales of darkest Africa without the European smugness or excessive wordiness of that genre. It’s an interesting twist to have the medicine man (witch doctor) be sympathetic to his target, though he still kills the man.

    • snuzcook says:

      I like your take on the prompt, Bilbo. I confess, I momentarily thought of ebola when the potion started to work on its victim, that somehow the stranger’s body would react differently, and the extra limbs were symbolic representations of the hemorrhaging.
      Well written and had me completely absorbed.

    • snuzcook says:

      I like your take on the prompt, Bilbo.
      Well written and had me completely absorbed.

    • Reaper says:

      This is amazing. You know how you have said you can’t do really dark? This is proof that you can. Without getting gory you gave us horror on multiple levels, social, personal, revenge, wrong choices that seem right. Just wonderful and I echo the I would love to see more crowd.

    • jhowe says:

      I found this to be very good and I enjoyed it greatly. My take is that it is the perfect length with just the right amount of hint as to who the stranger is and why he is there. I see him as a missionary as I think you do as well though you considered making him a doctor. It seems that no matter what the medicine man did, the white man was going to come anyway, but it was good for the story that he took responsibility. Good job on making us think. Well done.

  25. Matthew says:

    I am responding to a past prompt this week. This further elaborates the adventures of Melissa Redcliff.

    During your trip to Turkey, you check into an old hotel. After settling yourself you notice a weathered chest in the corner. Upon opening it, war relics from the First World War and the Ottoman Empire lay before you. What stories do you find?

    There will be a slight change to the prompt to fit my story.

    Melissa Redcliff settles into her dad’s part of the nation, which is about fifty miles south of the initiation site.

    She still remembers that day. While Damien is the leader of the Crimson Dragons, she had certainly made an impression on him, if that’s what intimidation is called.

    This area was known for frequent sorcerer attacks who summoned demons to wreak havoc. Her father, John Redcliff, take her personally under his wing to teach her about the spells she would be using in combat.

    After a long day of training, Melissa retires to her room. Something catches her attention in the corner of her eye.

    It is a wooden chest, aged by centuries of wear and tear. She curiously opens the chest.

    Inside is a dusty leather bound journal along with a newer, crimson elite book. She could distinguish between the two; the crimson elite book was made out of gold leaf with crimson pages, golden edged pages, and white writing. She pulls both of these out. She opens up the dusty journal first. The journal was written by a man named Alexander, somewhere around a thousand years ago. She was surprised the crimson elite kept documents so old within easy reach, even though it shouldn’t surprise her because the crimson elite has guarded the nation for the past centuries.

    Ready for a good read, she settles into her bed and starts reading intently.

    The journal talked about an enemy known as the Wiccan. She involuntarily shuddered at the thought of being the enemy. The Ranging guild was set up to deal with the mages. She turned the book sideways and looked at an illustration of a standard ranger’s bow. It was standard issue to the troops. Anyone could train to get into the ranging guild.

    She closes the book and picks up the crimson elite book and flips it open. This book was written by Damien himself. It looked to be a advanced beginners guide to magic. She read through it and found an illustration of a standard issue weapons for the mages.

    First there was a staff, it is usually custom made to the height of the wielder. Made out of blood oak, this was the best wood to send magic through. She notes that these staffs do not break even under overwhelming pressures, making them the best choice for stronger spells. The orb at the top can either be a standard crimson elite issue orb, or you can make a singularity to stick on top of the staff, increasing its capabilities.

    Then she looks at a picture of a wand and standard non primary hand equipment.

    The wand was also made of blood oak, generic issue for the crimson elites.

    What is different is the variety non primary hand equipment. There were three kinds. The first of these looked almost similar to the book she was holding right now. This would be the mages book, useful for new members if they don’t have the best memory.

    The second and third really peaks her interest.

    The second is a magic singularity. The singularity is designed so that a crimson elite will cast spells into the singularity to charge it, useful for those mages who wear out easy, by crimson elite standards. By normal standards they have incredible resilience.

    The third is a magical ward; a small shield with a dragon’s visage on the front of the shield. This ward was designed to deflect attacks from any opponent. Good for defensive lines in long battles.

    She immediately knew what she wanted to master.

    All of it. She could become one of the most versatile units in the crimson elite.

    She reads about the rouge sorcerers throughout the world, involving themselves in demonic rituals often in attempt of knowledge.

    She notices why war remains the same. It’s a struggle of power between two different groups. Just, one group is more advanced than the other.

    In the morning she would request a staff with a singularity, along with a wand with a spell book, a singularity, and a ward.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is an interesting part two, Matthew, but it most definitely begs a part three due to being a bit shy on conflict (emotional or physical). I’m curious what you’re setting up for…

    • Reaper says:

      Matthew, this reads like an amazing beginning for a teen or YA scifi/fantasy cross. I realized that in the last post I said something about polish but I may have been jumping the gun. As I read this I realize it has the perfect voice for that what I was thinking might be slight roughness could be completely intentional. Having said that I am not in either of those groups and would continue reading this.

  26. Matthew says:

    Here goes my second attempt, something a bit more, in my realm of writing. I know this is around 250 words over the suggested count. I even tried to slim it down too as I was typing this up, but I feel satisfied with the extra word count. What can I say?

    Initiates line the middle of the room. Two others are on either side of a giant cauldron.

    One wears crimson robes with intricate detailing along the robes length.

    The other is dressed in golden robes with a crimson dragon along the length. This elder is probably in charge of things here.

    The crimson robed man raises his voice.

    “Welcome to the 2015 Crimson Dragon initiation ritual. I am Drake, and this is Damien. The four of you have been chosen to become crimson elites because of your outstanding scores on your final test.”

    “You are within the top one percent of mages in the nation who took this test. There is one thing you the test cannot prepare for: Your final initiation.”

    Nerves were starting to get the better of me.

    Damien spoke next, “Your final initiation is to drink from this cauldron five times.” He motioned to the cauldron in front of him, which contained a dark blue liquid.

    “You mean we haven’t proved ourselves enough,” a boy behind me asked.

    “The elixir will kill those who are not fit to wield the magic we use as the nation’s defense force. Damien stated. “If you survive, you will be a crimson elite.”

    I’m one hundred percent sure I can hear a pin drop.

    “It is time to begin the initiation. First up we have Marco Longcroft.” Damien spoke.

    There were two people in front of me including Marco. Drake pulls out a special cup, divided into fifths, one for each sip. He dipped the cup into the liquid and pulled it out.

    Marco reached for the cup before it was even given to him.

    “I wish all of our initiates were as eager as this one.”

    “I was born to be a crimson elite.” Marco proudly stated as he took his first drink.
    Then before we knew it he was finished with the drink. I couldn’t see Marco from here, but if I could hear the next sound.

    Marco cried out in agony and dropped to the floor. After a couple minutes of not moving I shivered.

    Damien’s voice filled the emptiness.

    “Marco has failed the initiation, come remove his body.”

    Two black robed members I hadn’t noticed until then came to remove Marco’s lifeless body.

    “Next we have Lauren Blight.” Drake’s voice did not fail.

    “I don’t want to do this. I’m not going to die.” Lauren’s voice fails.

    Damien raises his voice to a shout.

    “You understand you will leave this area immediately and will be banned from trying to enter any other group.”

    “I don’t care. I’d rather be alive and group less than dead.”

    “You have dishonored us all. Leave. Now!”

    When she didn’t move Damien’s voice booms.

    “Are you hard of hearing Lauren? NOW!”

    She hurries out of the room, sobbing.

    Lauren had a choice. I didn’t.

    My father wants me to be a crimson elite like him.

    “After that disappointment, I’m starting to doubt these initiates. I heard Damien Say at a whisper.

    I knew then I had to prove him wrong, for my father.

    “Give me the drink.” I hear myself demanding. That voice, it doesn’t sound like my own. It is one of rage.

    “This should be interesting. You’re Melissa Redcliff, yes? Your father is a crimson elite.” Damien spat.
    “Give me the drink now!” My voice booms.

    Drake handed me the cup.

    I took my first drink, my eyes never leaving Damien’s.

    Agonizing pain rushed through my body as I felt an arm sprout out of my side, ruining my dress. I am determined to prove Damien wrong. I took a second drink; the matching arm came. The third sip brought a pain even more intense as a golden wing sprouted from my back. The fourth brought its partner.

    The fifth I could not have anticipated. Excruciating pain wrecked my body, assaulting every cell in my body, but my gaze never faltered.

    Minutes creep by.

    “Our first successful initiate. Congratulations runt.” Damien still had an issue with me.

    The extra pair of arms disappeared but the wings remained, which sent Damien and Drake into hushed whispers.

    “You. Will. Not. Mock. Me. Say it with me.”

    “I refuse.” Damien stated.

    “I’ll take my post now, RUNT.”

    When Damien didn’t say anything I said it again, but louder this time.

    “I’m watching you.” Damien said.

    “Good, you will see what real power looks like.” I mock.

    The other initiate never made it, too bad, he was good looking.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is intense and personal, Matthew; it’s a great story. I’m a tad curious what their nation needs to be defended from, but the supernatural and the magical raise endless possibilities…

      Going back to your first post, I can see how this one is more clearly inside your style zone. The prose flows like water from a spring and there’s a lot of room for imagination to show through. The word llimit whizzed by unnoticed in the wake of the well-written story.

      • Matthew says:

        Yes there are endless possibilities, id like to flush this out in a later prompt, maybe following the adventures of Melissa Redcliff and her father (Who is currently unnamed). But for right now, I’ll leave it to imagination. I was satisfied with this version of the prompt.

    • snuzcook says:

      You are clearly a teller of tales, Matthew, and this is a good one! Well done!

    • Reaper says:

      Ah Matthew this definitely has more of the flow of a writer in their element. There is a tense change or two that I noticed mostly because it was an engrossing story and those bumps become more noticeable when you’re so pulled in. You still have strong markings of a literary writer. You have this focus on details and characters that is intense. Where the last story needed edits this one has a couple of places that could be polished but do not really need them. I’m glad to see this one and love that you took the approach of showing your comfort zone rather than flipping us the bird and walking away. Welcome again.

    • jhowe says:

      Well done Matthew. I enjoyed this a lot. It was very compelling and I was able to read it without effort. Melissa kind of put old Damien in his palce didn’t she.

  27. snuzcook says:

    SOUL EATER

    “There was… an old woman… who swallowed… a fly,
    And I don’t know why… she swallowed a fly—maybe she’ll die.”

    I hummed the old song from a distant memory as I struggled to pull the wax plug out of the old green-tinted bottle. There was no label on the bottle, only a large ‘X’ in grease pencil. It was a rare brew. I managed to get the plug out, a few pieces falling back into the bottle.

    “There was an old woman who swallowed a spider…” I fished a heavy, thick shot glass out of my bag and set it on the picnic table with a satisfying thud. I poured a generous ounce of the viscous, amber liquid.
    “That wriggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.”

    I toasted the empty parking lot and the view across the water from the back end of the park where I sat. I downed the slug in a single gulp. It stung, caught low in my throat. I burped, and it passed on down.

    “She swallowed the spider to swallow the fly, and I don’t know why she swallowed the fly.” I burped again.
    The liquid was definitely starting to work already. “Maybe she’ll DIE!”

    I felt like making grandiose gestures, so I stood, threw my scarf over my shoulder and grabbed the bottle. A fastidious middle-aged woman with a manicured pocket pooch on a leash came into view on the paved path. She gave me a disapproving look and scurried off. I poured another shot, toasted in her direction.

    “There was an old WOMAN who SWALLOWED a GOAT!” Too late; she was gone. I threw this one back and it went down easier. My esophagus was partially numbed by the first drink. I stood, looking out at the water darkening as a bank of clouds foreshortened the day by intercepting the sun. A ferry passed, the thrum of its engines only faintly carried on the breeze.

    “She opened her throat and swallowed a goat…” My voice was little more than a whisper now. I laughed but it was a hollow sound; no time remained for humor. The rumblings had started. I groped my way back to the bench, my hand strangling the bottle as a spasm hit. I cried out through clenched teeth. Dozens of starlings rose as one from the tops of the hemlocks overhead, maneuvering in the reddening sky like a startled school of fish.

    There would be no more songs now until the deed was done. It was time for the Soul Eater to relinquish the souls collected to the cold, avenging creature who waited, unseen. I could sense a heavy presence, the weight of wings and the breath of purgatory unseen lurking nearby.

    I took a sip straight from the bottle. A fist, calloused and scarred, emerged from the area just below my liver. Once it was free, the rest of the man followed. In life he had been a cruel and violent man. His translucent soul burst forth and rose, only to suddenly be eclipsed by a shadow. Another sip and a woman’s arm thrust out of my belly, manicured claws piercing and ripping just like their owner. I gritted my teeth as she rent my flesh in her rush to escape, but she was yet not quick enough. The shadow found her and like a candle she was snuffed.

    Again and again the process was repeated: a sip, an emergence, a flight to escape ending in the beak and talons of the invisible predator. Last to emerge were the pearly wings of the dishonored ones, the host who meddled in the affairs of humans and used their powers shortsightedly. These, too, it had been my onus to consume, neutralizing their toxic potential until their essence could be reabsorbed.

    Beaten and weary at last, I rested. To the casual observer, I would be just an old, homeless woman sitting in her rags and bags in the park. If only I could rest the night through, undisturbed. But no, already I was being drawn to evil where it danced under the rising moon. The Soul Eater must go abroad and fulfill her role for the greater good.

    • Amyithist says:

      Honestly, Snuzcook, I haven’t seen you post a better prompt. This was chilling and fantastically prosed. Well done sounds so understated here. But you really did an amazing job. :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a fantastic story, Snuzcook, in both senses of the word. I can feel the woman’s anguish as she undertakes her duty. To endure that day after day forever (or so it sounds) would be an undying hell. I wonder whether she undertook this willingly or has some incredible sin to answer for…

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        From the first word you wrote, my mind was captured in your prose. That is not an easy thing to do to me and yet I entered the world of your Mc willingly not that I might not do so. I am in the basket along with Amyithist, only I do not have any doubt. This is a stunnung post from you.

        Reading it aloud in my mind created a hypnotic rhythm. Tell the truth, snuzcook. You knew this was special the moment you started writing it, didn’t you? Oh, yes you did, I know you did. A Mona Lisa of language you have created. I could of course, continue to tell you what I think, but I’ll stop now, for I want to reread
        and I can’t wait not to.

        • snuzcook says:

          Thank you, Kerry!
          Yes, I knew this was special–I got to mix my favorite things: a childlike perspective through the song, and mysterious unknowable beings with a hint of good and evil. Really, I guess all my stories have one foot in a child’s daydreams and fascinations. I recently celebrated another decade of life, but I fear I may never, truly grow up.

          I wonder how many readers find themselves trying to remember all the verses of “There was an old woman” this week. ;0) If requested, I would be glad to post the version I learned.

      • snuzcook says:

        Interesting observation, Tim. It struck a chord, and I have composed six different responses to your rhetorical question, and erased them all before posting. I’ll leave your comment unanswered, except to say thanks!

    • Manwe38 says:

      Whoa….I have the chills right now.

      What an amazing piece of writing, on every level.

      I’m just…wow. Awesome job.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      What a wonderful and clever take snuzcook. The regression in your MCs voice was a masterclass that tugged at so much empathy.
      So impressive!

    • Reaper says:

      Snuzcook, never grow up. This is amazing, fills me with hope and dread at the same time. It is the perfect explanation of why we cross the street from crazy singing bag ladies, not because they have done something wrong but because they remind us we have much to atone for. You took this and made it literal and captured mercy and wrath at the same time in this unending quest. I feel so bad for your MC and also wonder if she did something to earn this. Just spectacular. And yes I am running through verses of that song now. Well done all around.

    • jhowe says:

      It doesn’t really matter what you write, I seem to enjoy it. The Soul Eater was a very compelling charactrer. The woman with the pocket pooch was a nice touch as well. Maybe those homeless people you see muttering on the sidewalk know more than is apparent.

  28. Amyithist says:

    He walked into the bar, hesitating slightly in the foyer before making his way to the back booth. The waitress approached, smiling. Behind her eyes he could see the exhaustion waning on her spirit. He mumbled his drink order and watched wearily as she turned and walked back toward the bar.
    It only took a few minutes but she returned with a rum and coke, heavy on the rum, easy on the ice. His hands trembled as he reached toward the glass and pulled it into him. He took a long drink, relishing the familiar burn inching its way down his throat.
    His esophagus was eroded, his stomach was nearly eaten away and his liver was as hard as a rock from cirrhosis. Still, the drink called to him, pulled at him…made him believe for a few hours a day that everything really was okay.
    He took another long drink, holding his hand up to the waitress. Her eyes flashed with frustration but within a matter of minutes there was another rum and coke sitting in front of him. He watched as little beads of water condensed; sliding deliciously down the face of the glass. He loved that part.
    He felt his stomach pull. His face contorted as the pain streaked through him. He dropped the drink back to the table. Something was wrong! My God, he thought, grasping his stomach. His shirt suddenly began to undulate with movement.
    He gasped. Terror washed over him. He reached down, tearing his shirt open. A claw-like finger pushed through his skin. Blood began to trickle down his flabby abdomen. He screamed, drawing startled looks from the meager gathering of bar patrons.
    The claw kept pushing through. His skin tore away. Blood gushed forward. A wing suddenly slashed through what was left of his open abdominal cavity. Then another. Blood and chunks of intestine splattered against the wall.
    He gaped up as a creature rose to full stature. It was dripping with what was left of him and snarling. Its breath smelled rancid with memories of every drink he took. The beast stood over him, its forked tongue dancing over sharped, jagged teeth.
    “Wh-why am I still alive,” he stammered.
    The demon’s eyes glowed like the embers from hell. The creature grumbled, barely noticing as the grimy table crumpled beneath its massive clawed-foot. It dipped its serpent-like head and glared at him. “I am what lives inside of you,” it growled. “I am your demon.”
    His eyes widened. “What’s happening? What’s going on?”
    The demon’s lips curled. “You’re going crazy,” it replied. “Purely and unequivocally fucking nuts.”
    He swallowed, pressing his back against the sticky vinyl seat. “Crazy,” he sputtered. “What the hell…”
    “All part of the process,” the demon slithered. “You knew this would happen. Psychosis happens when you drink. You were told…yet you continued. Now you’re going to have to suffer the consequences.”
    His lips trembled. He looked back down to his abdomen, stunned to find it perfectly intact. His eyes floated to the door as paramedics marched inside; followed closely behind by two men in starchy-white uniforms.
    He looked around, suddenly noticing broken glasses and a pulverized table. “Didn’t you see it,” he screamed. He stood, running to the wall. He pressed himself against it, holding out a shard of glass in front of him. He looked toward the waitress. Her eyes were wide. She seemed frozen with fear.
    “Just…come with us,” one of the men said.
    Frank’s eyes panned over the bar. He sunk against the wall, sobbing. “It was here!” He cried. “It tore my insides out! They’re everywhere! Just look around!”
    A paramedic nodded as he plunged a syringe into Frank’s upper thigh. A little prick and a singe of heat later, Frank slumped, his eyes dipping against the sedation.
    The world tilted, blurred, and began to drift away. “Don’t worry, mister,” a voice soothed somewhere into the distance. “You’re going to have a nice padded room in no time…” A few chuckles rose up.
    He frowned. Maybe he was going crazy. Maybe that meant that he belonged in a padded cell… As his head tilted to the side, the demon slipped from the shadows, grinning.

  29. sjmca1966 says:

    Soaring High –

    It was almost dusk, as I sat at the hotel bar by the pool, my legs were shaking and the oppressive Bali heat had me struggling to catch a decent breath. Lynette had just headed to the airport to catch the first available flight home.

    The night before we’d had our first big argument and I had no idea whether I should chase after her or not. The barman looked at me intuitively and topped up my drink, “You look sad my friend. Your lady, she has gone?”

    “I’m afraid so,” I replied.

    I slugged down the whiskey and stood with all the grace of a new-born giraffe. I was going to head back to my air-conditioned room, “I know what you need,” said the barman, “Wait here.”

    He disappeared back into the hotel and returned less than a minute later carrying a bottle, “This make everything better.”

    Not wanting to offend him, I accepted, “Thank you, I hope you’re right.”

    Back in my room, I opened the bottle and singed the hairs in my nostrils when I took a sniff of the contents. Ah, what the hell, I thought, as I poured the clear liquid into a glass and took a cautious sip. I staggered back onto the bed. Within seconds I was feeling better. So much so that I’d forgotten all my problems.

    When I went to take a shower, I felt a lump in my right armpit. By the time I exited the shower and stood in front of the mirror the lump had turned into a hand. I had a third arm before I was fully dry.

    I rushed out of the bathroom and took another swig of my drink. Before long another new arm was adorning the left side of my body. I dressed concealing my new appendages and decided to take a walk along the beach. I’d only managed half the distance I had intended to travel, before curiosity sent me back to my room for more of the magnificent drink.

    Two sips later and the most amazing pair of feathered wings were protruding from my shoulder-blades.

    It was now dark and I leaped from the first floor balcony, soaring high into the night sky. I sang John Denver songs as I flew all night, and only returned to the hotel when my wings began to get tired.

    I was woken around midday by knocking on my room door, “Sir, this is the hotel manager! I have someone from Wildlife Protection Services with me, they would like to ask you a few questions.”

    I sat up and scanned the room. The carcass of a wingless seabird lay in the corner. I reached around my back and pulled a wing away that was crudely attached with duct tape. I then ripped a human arm from my armpit that had been attached the same way.

    Lynette’s luggage was on the chair by the bed.

  30. Manwe38 says:

    Was that a scream? I wasn’t sure–my mind was still wrapped in sleep, a prison from which I clawed towards consciousness like a salmon fighting its way upstream. The sound came again, louder this time, and my eyes flew open.

    I turned to my companion. “What’s going on?”
    “Shh!” Her eyes glinted like a pair of midnight stars. “They’re here.”
    “On the plane?”
    “Uh-huh.” Sharin’s face was as pale as a sheet of fresh drywall, and her chest heaved like a horse in the Preakness. “In coach.”

    I craned my neck. Behind me, the curtain separating coach from first class had been quickly replaced by a pile of carry-on luggage. My mouth ran dry, and I felt the skin of my scalp beginning to tighten. So we hadn’t gotten away after all. Damn.

    My eyes flicked back to Sharin. “That won’t work.”
    “It worked in the movie.”
    “The plane crashed in the movie.”
    “Yeah, but they didn’t have me.” I grinned. “Or my little secret.”

    She stared at me, then started whipping her head back-and-forth like an addict having a seizure. “Don’t you dare.”
    “Sorry babe. No choice.”

    I reached into my carry-on and removed the plastic bottle. It was bright pink, and adorned with the picture of a middle-aged man. He was tall but chubby, with limp brown hair running into his eyes and a slack jaw that made him look even more overweight. In the center of his chest, a tumorous lump protruded from his chest like a lump of living clay. Underneath the grotesque caricature, on a piece of scotch tape, were scrawled two words:

    Kuato juice.

    I uncapped the lid took a noisy swig. Behind me, the screams were increasing, and now there was another sound, a deep, throaty growl like a pack of hungry dogs prowling a field in search of fresh prey. The virus was spreading, and there wasn’t much time.

    A twinge of pain ripped through my chest. I looked down, and there it was: muscular and hairy, with a set of sharp claws, it twitched and flopped like a doped-up snake. I grinned; one down, four to go. I chugged the rest dark green slime, then rose to my feet and stepped into the aisle as the eager appendages burst forth from my flesh. Behind me, the eyes of first class burned into my back. They were counting on me, these pampered denizens of wealth and privilege, and I didn’t intend to let them down. Not because I cared, but because I could charge. A lot. Once the danger had passed, they’d want my protection, and I didn’t come cheap….nor did my wife.

    The screams were almost gone now, replaced instead by snarls and the dull sound of clicking jaws. They were coming, oh yes, and they wanted to bite. Too bad for them, they’d find me instead. It had been a long time since I’d shredded dead flesh, but like riding a bike, you didn’t forget.

    I threw a quick glance over my shoulder and motioned for the rabble to put their heads down. Once all was quiet, I approached the wall of overpriced suitcases, and my arms reached out. A series of swipes brought them all down, and then there was nothing between me and the churning horde. I looked around at the sweaty cabin, and my nose twitched. It was worse than I thought, but nothing I couldn’t handle. With a grin, I raised all my arms–human and otherwise—and pointed my claws at the approaching mass. And if I failed, well, I’m sure first-class passengers tasted just as good as business ones.

    But I wasn’t going to fail. In fact, the walking dead were my specialty.

    “Greetings, douchebags,” I said. “Come and get it.”

    It was time to retake the plane.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Impressive, Manwe. I love how you wrapped the action of the story around the MC’s attitude. To him the fight’s already over, it just hasn’t been actually done yet.

      My red pencil suggests changing one of the two lumps in the bottle paragraph to something else.

    • Manwe38 says:

      Thank you kind sir!

      Yes, I wrote this one in a hurry; it’s been a crazy week at work, so I haven’t been lurking as much as usual. Hoping for a little more time later next week.

    • Amyithist says:

      Wow! What a fantastically unique take on zombies! Not sure what the man turned into (I imagine a dog/werewolf hybrid) but it’s an amazing concept. Perhaps this could take you into something even greater? A novel perhaps? Very well done! :)
      PS- You’re one of my favorites to read now.

      • Manwe38 says:

        Aw, man, thank you :) :)!

        I’m not sure what he is, just that he kills zombies (with which I am clearly obsessed, lol).

        Hmm, there are larger story possibilities here….stay tuned!

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          I’m not flying on airline with your MC. Nada, nada. This was so good, I thought about looking for a place to hide. Zombs are no match for Mc. I don’t know whether he’s going to shred them or eat them. Either way I don’t want to see it.

          • Manwe38 says:

            That’s a good question….probably both. I hear shredded zombies sandwiches are delicious, especially with a touch of mild barbeque sauce.

            Thank you for the feedback…and enjoy the Kuato Cola….hehe

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Very well done Manwe38. Great voice, some great descriptions and a nice build of tension.

    • Reaper says:

      I definitely liked the voice, the dark hero doing it for money not the good of the people. I had a dislike for the MC because of the callous way he approached the people dying in coach since they couldn’t pay, but then that read as a survival mechanism too. The mix of action and story were perfect. I could definitely see this doing well as a longer work.

  31. Augie says:

    I was advised by a doctor, (in which I don’t respect), to stay away from writing true events in my life. So, I swapped a few names and locations. After all, I always was a rebel that firmly believes every story should be told. Look at me; I have wasted 67 words with this introduction. Well, if I’m over the limit, it still needs to be told.

    This is for the Doc’s out there. My respects….

    The chubby officer walks by me, the insignia on his epaulets state he is a full bird captain. I knew better. His hands shake as he returns my salute. Yes, I am enlisted and salute all officers. He reaches out for a shake, “Master Chief, I have always admired the SEALS. I’m glad to be part of the team!”

    Yes, I feel bad for my first response to this incredible man, “Sir, I don’t have time to save your ass! You do what you do, I will hold up my end and never deliver you something to do!”

    Months passed, the once chubby officer, (civilian in disguise) warmed my heart. I watched him cry over the bodies he failed to save.

    After a couple of months, each patient had zip-lock bags stapled to the footboard of their bed filled with sand. I asked Doc, “ What the hell are those bags sir?”

    He blushes, “every patient that enters, I scrape the sand from the threads of their boots into a zip-lock bag. If I loose them, at least I can send the bag home to their family of their childs last steps. If they live, I give them the bag and shake their hand.”

    That day, I respected him.

    One evening he called me to his tent. I knew he was slightly intoxicated.

    “Augila, I want to do the crazy shit you guys do! I want to soar in the sky above the enemy! I have lost many soldiers and seek revenge.”

    I remember smiling at Doc, “Bottoms up!”

    ….

    My team heard news about the rebels attack on the medical site. We jumped from the aircraft, neutralizing the situation.

    I found Doc, or I should say, what was left of him.

    I picked him off the ground, “You wanna soar sir?”

    Blood spurted from his mouth, “Please.”

    …….

    The pilot gave us the go. I gave Doc his final drink of scotch, shoving my arms under his armpits. We dropped out of the aircraft, my first tandem drop.

    He watched below as the Apache helicopters and Marines demolished the rebel camp.

    I pulled the lanyard releasing the chute; I believe he stayed alive until my boots hit the ground.

    …..

    Mrs. Doc cried, “ Thank You for telling me the story Augila. That explains all the zip-lock bags filled with sand coming in the mail every day with thank you notes.

    What more can be said. To me, sharing is healing.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Augie, stop making me cry.

      No, don’t. Keep on writing. These stories heal you, touch others, and may someday be part of the cultural revolution that will make everyone want to try not going to war.

    • Observer Tim says:

      P.S. I would love to read your memoirs someday, even though you’d probably have to kill me just after I finished because of all the classified stuff.

      • Augie says:

        Observer Tim, I promised myself to never respond to stories true to my heart. I wanted him to be known as a man that ‘perished in action’. And he was. Before I am done, all stories will be told. A promise I made to all my knuckle head brothers out there that know Doc’s name. Thank You for understanding my struggle.

    • This is amazing, Augie. It absolutely touched me, which is kind of hard to do. PLEASE, keep writing.

    • Amyithist says:

      I am literally bawling right now. I mean, tears are dripping from my eyes and my poor little dogs are trying to understand how to help. This was so beautiful. Sad. Haunting. You touched a very raw part of my humanity and appreciate that you shared this. Thank you.

    • snuzcook says:

      Augie, I cannot respond to your story with things I know, only with things I believe. I believe there was a reason he was there, and that you were there to bear witness. I believe that every human heart fights the battles it is given to fight, and aches to soar with the eagles. There is a reason. It is in the striving that we reveal what we are made of, and in the impulsive acts of empathy that we reveal something beyond that. Your story evokes these thoughts. I know the story is about the telling, not necessarily the receiving, but the recipient is elevated nonetheless. Thank you for elevating me.

    • Matthew says:

      I absolutely loved this story. It’s so beautifully written. It’s amazing this was a real event for me. You captured it so beautifully. I think I’m going to show this to my dad so he can read it. He served in the military. This story reminds me of why I think the way I do and I’m honored to have been able to read about this event. Don’t stop writing. I would love to see more.

    • Manwe38 says:

      This was beautiful and moving. I’m a doc, but have never been in the military.

      Treating patients can be very emotional, but what your character had to do was very hard.

      Thank you for sharing!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        From what you have written about your military service,this really shakes me to the core. The fact that we have to send our finest into battle, the idea some will never return, saddens me. This is powerful and I imagine the pain you must go through reliving this hell.

        In my story ‘A Time For War’, I hope to display what the miracle generation fought for, freedom. not only for America but the rest of the allies. And also the determination to fight a war we were losing for the first year and a half.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I almost wrote of a traumatic event in my life a few prompts or so back, but chickened out. You have given me strength to reconsider, when next this event fits with the prompt.
      I hope you find writing from actual events therapeutic as it adds so much to your already inspiring writing.
      Cheers Augie!

    • Reaper says:

      Augie, I am not going to respond to the story because you know it is amazing. I will say I am guessing the doc told you that because he is worried about PTSD. Unless it is hurting you I think he should shut the hell up. I still firmly believe that is caused by the reaction of civilians more than the actions. How can we ever react better if we don’t understand?

      • Augie says:

        Thank You, I feel relieved telling the story of a man that saved four of my brothers and hundreds of young soldiers. I didn’t deliver my promise to him, But he held true to his own. I feel like I am walking in a grave yard as I respond to you, but it feels good. We are tired of not being understood. These stories, will be told.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      I have nothing to say – that would accurately say what i am feeling, or is worthy of being said – in response to this story; except that I wholeheartedly agree with you: that sharing is healing.
      Thank you for sharing Augie.

  32. A Fine Bogey Tale

    When you see something move out of the corner of your eye? Probably his tail slithering behind him back into shadow. When you hear wind roaring at night but see no wind? Probably his wings pulling him higher into the sky. When you think you hear movement outside of your room at night but find nothing? It’s not easy for him to maneuver himself with four clawed arms and four clawed feet. He roams near my home but he sometimes goes other places. He hides, he steals and he’s always there. What is he? Just another man like you.

    He held the vile in his hand. He prepared to try my first attempt to try and make a serum that stopped my evil urges. He also had similar urges. We were both bad people on the inside and, oh though we didn’t know it yet, my potions would bring our evil out. But his evil was much darker, much more evil if there is such a thing. He sipped it. He could feel himself changing. He could feel his extra arms growing out of him, his new wings bursting through the skin of his back. Blood was running down his face from his new sprouting horns, he couldn’t see anything; he could smell only the copper smell of the blood and could taste only that copper taste. He grinned new, pointed teeth.

    I awoke to my partner, who I had just seen changed in a dream, shaking me and staring at me. I had apparently been screaming and crying out for help. He thought I was having a nightmare.

    “No, not a nightmare,” I explained, “I was picturing the first transformation.”

    “Good or bad?” he asked, smiling hopefully.

    “Good,” I lied.

    Now it was happening for real. Just the same as in my dream. The red, grinning, sharp-toothed face of my assistant changed. I didn’t scream, I wasn’t surprised. My potion had failed, it had done the opposite. It had brought the evil out of him to a point I hadn’t thought possible. He looked at me.

    “It’s so good. Drink it,” he held the vile out in between his claws. As the blood everywhere on his body began to dry he looked black as night. What was I to do when I felt as if the devil himself was commanding me to drink it? I took it from him and gulped it down. I changed, but not as much. I shrunk, became hunched over, I wasn’t me anymore. Once I was finished he looked at me, still grinning. “Good or bad?”

    “Good,” I answered in my new form. I was no longer Dr. Jekyll. I was now Mr. Hyde, free to carry out all I ever dreamed of. I felt younger; I felt more of a man. And my assistant? The window was open and he was gone. He felt the same and he already decided to carry out those evil dreams. He was just another man like you.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is dark, Colonel. It’s a well-crafted tale of the descent into evil. To go into evil from misplaced intentions is tragedy; to go in without provocation is villainy. This is villainy. Too many of us harbour one or the other in our hearts.

    • Manwe38 says:

      Nicely done.

      My only criticism here is a question: did you mean ‘vial’, as opposed to ‘vile’? Just curious; otherwise, a great story.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      A well written take on the prompt Colonel Plops.
      Very thought provoking.

    • Reaper says:

      Nicely written. My only suggestion would be to move the dream paragraph to the actually transformation. Leave the dream in shadows when he is awoken and then throw it in as this is what I saw in the dream. Not necessary but leave more of that third reel feel to the story.

      • I actually agree with you Reaper. The reason I had the dream rather than the regular transformation in the first place was because the story was originally going to have to do more with this quote from Robert Louis Stevenson’s wife:

        “In the small hours of one morning,[...]I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I awakened him. He said angrily: ‘Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.’ I had awakened him at the first transformation scene.”

        But it ended up having less to do with this than I would’ve liked it too, and despite that I left the dream in rather than describing the true transformation. Thanks for the feedback!

  33. The Offering Tree

    Observer Tim once challenged me to do a fairy tale. This one hopefully does the fairy-tale telling German side of my heritage proud! (I suppose I should mention this is 100% off prompt.)

    It was an average afternoon where the hardworking bees buzzed from flower to flower. Occasionally they curiously approached a young boy named Clifford as he walked home from school in the afternoons. Sometimes, just sometimes, he would stop to say hello to them.

    One afternoon, he stopped at a gorgeous patch of lilacs and daisies. A bee landed upon one of the white lilacs as he sniffed the subtle fragrant aroma.

    “Hello there, little bee.” Clifford said as he set his books on the ground.

    “Afternoon, young man!” The bee greeted.

    “Can I ask you a question?”

    “Certainly, but I don’t want to bee here all day.” The bee said, and laughed with a deep-bellied buzz.

    “Are any of you born without wings?”

    “I can’t say that I’ve ever met a young one with no wings, but it’s possible I suppose.”

    “How would one like that get around?”

    “No idea. We have our legs, but we don’t crawl so well. I’m sure it can be done, though.”

    “Do you communicate with those tentacles?”

    “You mean my antennae?”

    “Yeah, those things.”

    “We bees communicate with them. It’s more efficient that talking.”

    “Hmm.” Clifford said, and then snatched up the bee.

    “What are you doing?”

    “Science.” The boy said, and then ripped one of the bee’s wings clean off.

    A buzz emitted from the bee as the pain from having his wing removed burned to his core. The boy laughed joyfully, and the bee began flapping his other wings with the hope that he might free himself.

    “Why would you do that?” The bee cried.

    The boy didn’t answer him, but the obvious reason was that he wanted to satiate his desire to know what would happen to a bee without wings. One by one, Clifford tore the bee’s wings off. As each fluttered to the ground like pricked feathers of a bird, he cried to his mother, the queen, for strength. Clifford finished by removing the bee’s antennae.

    “There we go.” The boy said, and set the bee upon the concrete sidewalk. “Now go.”

    “I can’t.” The bee said even though he crawled slowly along the ground. He had an effective crawl, one that any bee born without wings could be proud of.

    “No, you’re doing it all wrong!” The boy cried with rage. “You’re no fun!”

    The boy stood. The bee looked up and regarded him with a sullen smile regardless of the things the boy had done. He then returned his gaze to the concrete and continued to crawl knowing he had a long journey back home. He didn’t get far, however, because Clifford’s anger over his failed experiment led the boy to step upon the bee and smear him into the ground.

    The next day, the boy walked home on his usual route. He stopped at the flowerbed and sniffed the flower that bee had previously landed on. He looked down at the oily spot on the concrete where he had killed the bee, and smiled.

    “Stupid bee.” He said, and then continued toward home.

    As he passed a large tree, someone said, “Hey you.”

    Clifford stopped and looked around. The street was empty and no one was around for as far as he could see. He furrowed his brow, combed his hand through his red hair, and continued to walk.

    “Hey, kid. Over here.”

    “Who’s there?”

    “The tree, genius.”

    “Wow, a talking tree?”

    “You got it.” The tree said. “Hey, I got a question for ya. You like experiments, right?”

    “Heck yeah I do!” The boy exclaimed and threw his hands excitedly into the air.

    “I know, I know. That was a pretty good experiment you did yesterday. You got some talent!”

    “Awe, gee, thanks, dude… er tree-dude.”

    “What to help me with an experiment?”

    “Yes! What is it?”

    “Well, I was just curious… in school do you write a lot?”

    “Yeah, my teacher tells me to but I don’t like it because it makes my arms tired.”

    “I bet they make you read books, too.”

    “Do they ever! Sometimes I wish I could take my eyes out!”

    “What do you think it would be if you didn’t have to?”

    “That would be awesome! I could just have fun all the time.”

    Two large branches appeared from the leaves, reached down, and picked up the boy. He squirmed, but the tree held him still, and tugged hard on the Clifford’s arms.

    “Hey, what are you doing?” Clifford cried, trying to pull his arms out of the tree’s grip.

    “Science,” the tree said.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Apparently you’re very well versed in the type of no-holds barred gruesome fairy tale I enjoy the most, Jay. Most definitedly a modern-day Grimm brother.

    • Amyithist says:

      Not a fairytale I’ll be reading my neice or nephew any time soon. LOL With that being said, I love the story. I was so sorry for the bee. But…oddly enough, not sorry for the boy. :) Nicely done, Doc!

    • Manwe38 says:

      An excellent modern take on an old morality tale.

      Sweet at first, then gruesome, like eating a fresh orange and accidentally biting into the rind.

      You gave me the chills, man, but that’s why I love your writing.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Well done Mr Versatile. Nice response to the challenge.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Awesome fairy tale! I love it when the bad guys are told something good is about to happen and then they get what they deserve! You should write more fairy tales Jay!

    • Reaper says:

      I love this and think you did the German tale tellers proud. The morality of it is perfect. With that said I would call it more Aesop than Grimm. This is a wonderful modern fable which I believe is a part of the fairytale group but in my opinion a little harder to do well and you nailed it.

  34. Kerry Charlton says:

    BRIAREUS

    I was born out of Gaea, my earth mother and her son Uranus. As I suckled at my mother’s breast, the first of her milk produced an extra arm. With each sip, another arm. As I grew to two months, sips of mother’s milk produced extra heads. My brothers Gyges and Cottus followed in my footsteps. Mortals referred to me as Aegaeon.

    As my brothers and I grew from the breast milk, we were called the Three Hekantonkheries. Of course with each of us acquiring a hundred arms and fifty heads, our appetites became monstrous. But we came in handy as feared war machines. We came to the rescue of Zeus as the Olympian Gods tried to chain him. After that heroic act, he chopped my head off so I wouldn’t tell anyone he was a ‘patsy’. Big deal, it didn’t slow me down as I still had 49 heads to think with. Gees!

    Sadly, our father hated us from birth. Weren’t sure why but maybe it was because we wouldn’t clean up after ourselves and made the house a mess. I for one became confused and one time I called him father and the next, brother. When mom tried to put a handle on us, the head shrinks wouldn’t have anything to do with us. Too much work, they said. What did they know? ]What do they still know?]

    One thing you need to know, my first date was a disaster. I guess I shouldn’t have tried the groping bit or the French kissing. Oh well, live and learn. I was out to get laid but none of the girls took a shot at it. I might have been slightly large, well maybe. So I guess the stories I had heard about girls, were all wrong. Gees!

    And then we became heroes, when we were drafted. Seems like these Titan guys picked a war with Zeus and he wanted our help. My brothers and I started hurtling boulders at the Titans, three hundred a throw. Boy, we got our jollies off with that battle. For our reward, we got to be gatekeepers where the Titans had been locked up. That is, the ones we didn’t pulverize.

    It was damn uncomfortable at the bottom of the ocean, where the gates were. Thankfully, we were tall enough to lift our heads out of water for fresh air. Anyway, a giant octopus decided to cozy up to me and asked me if I wanted to play with her.

    I remembered the disaster on my first date and was very polite to Sally. But then trouble started when Gyges and Cottus started hitting on Sal. So I turned them both into giant floating turds in the ocean or as you mortals call them, banks of seaweed. Sally and I had the sea to ourselves and started fooling around a bit, Well quite a bit if you must know.

    My story ends here. That’s why the oceans are full of octopi with sixteen arms, instead of eight.

    • Augie says:

      I am clapping right now! Such a great story! You are a funny guy Kerry, I don’t know how you do it!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Neither do I Augie. The idea just came to me. I’ve always loved mythology. Seems like the Greeks and the Romans had a God for everything. I could readily turn this story into a child’s tale by reworking a few areas. Maybe I’ll try that. Thank you as always for your comments and the read.

    • Oh, Kerry… this is 100% you. lol Fun read, thanks for sharing! :D

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Jay. I started this story out in a serious vein. The further I wrote the funnier it seemed to me, so I just flipped the story, especially about octopi.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Ah, a story about … you know. This is a definite chuckle, Kerry.

      I love the mythological take, and it’s a great origin story. We don’t see much about the hundred-handed giants. Does this mean I’m going to have to go back two weeks and count tentacles?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Tim. No you don’t have to count them, there’s only eight per octopus.
        Thank you for the kind words. As always, I appreciate your read.

    • Manwe38 says:

      This was a great read, Kerry.

      I loved the part about the french kissing; your voice is always full of subtle humor.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you< Manwe38. I liked the french kissing line also. So many years ago, in high school, girls said no no. Many of them thought they could get pregnant from french kissing. That's the fifties for you, full of bumper bullet bras and innocence.

    • Amyithist says:

      This was a delightful take on the prompt. Very rich in mythical allure. Based off of the names and the content, I’m wondering if you are a mythology buff? I loved this take. Thanks for sharing! :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I’m glad you liked this one, Amyithist. No, I’m not a mythology buff. Come to think of I’m not buff at all, body wise or mental wise, but and there’s a but. I am in an unusual medical condition. My GP said at my last visit, he would retire in twenty years and should he look around for a replacement for me. Can you believe that? Social security plus 13, you do the math.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Please can I have some of what your drinking, Kerry? This was fabulous, the voice was so matter-of-fact it had me in stiches. Zeus was a Patsy was glorious.
      Super write!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you sjmca1966. I was kind of chuckling when I wrote it. As far as what I’m drinkng, it’s apple juice. My brain’s screwed up enough to add anything to it. You live a life like I have, your brain would operate in the same pattern.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry this was amazing. I saw the start in something more serious and then the trip down comedy lane. The funny thing is that you managed to keep a good myth voice through both. Some of it was a bit more modern in terms and yet it still worked. Nicely done.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Reaper. You read me right on this. I started out serious and I got thinking about y heads and a hundred arms. How can be serious about that and then switched gears. I almost passed on this prompt but I thought Tim and you would think I bought the farm, so I decided to do it.

  35. JRSimmang says:

    TWO BY TWO

    The third arm scratched my butt before I realized I had an itch, so I said thank you as if it were someone else. The fourth arm, the one sticking straight from my left nipple tipped over Roland’s water cup.

    “Dude, watch out!” He lurched forward to catch the glass before it shattered on the ground.

    “Sorry, man. Still trying to get used to this.” One arm out my nipple, the other out my back.

    He looked up at me, his lip curling upward, his eyebrows cocked. “Bro, you are messed up.”

    “Yeah. I know. Thanks.” The single wing sitting on top of my head flapped, downy raining down around my eyes. I inhaled a feather. “What the hell am I going to do with this? It could’ve sprung forth from my back, all majestic and shit, and instead an anemic chicken somewhere is flying around in circles.”

    Roland burst out laughing. “Well…” he took a deep breath. “You’re going to have to drink it all.”

    “Fuck you.”

    “Do it.”

    “No.”

    “DO it!”

    “No.”

    “DO IT!”

    “FINE!” Shit, that always worked. “Fine. I’ll keep drinking.” The stuff tasted good at least, somewhere between orange juice and bourbon. I lifted the snifter to my lips, swigged back another sip, and waited.

    “What does it feel like?”

    “Nothing. It’s absolutely painless.” Quick as the words were out of my mouth, the other wing popped out from my chin. “Damnit!”

    “Holy shit, bra!” Roland laughed.

    “Fuck you, asshat.” I sat down next to him. “Dude. This shit’s crazy.”

    “You got it from…” he snapped his fingers. “From… who’d you get it from again?”

    “That woman on the corner.”

    “And you drank it because…”

    “It was liquid, it’s my first day in the frat, and I thought I was being hazed.”

    “Dude!” Once again he devolved into a quivering mass of chuckles. My wings flapped together.

    “I’m done.” The fourth arm sticking out of my back slapped the back of my head. “Ow, Jesus.”

    “You’re… ARM!” He laughed even harder.

    I looked at him, sneered, and in one gulp downed the rest of the liquid.

    “Brent! What the fuck are you doing!”

    When I said earlier that the weird growths were painless when they popped out, I was sorely mistaken. At first, it was just a rumbling in my stomach. Then, heavy, hard gas. Then, my insides twitched, each twitch feeling like a serrated knife was twisting and turning in my abdomen.

    “Roland…” I managed to gasp, “save me.”

    His mouth dropped open, and he scrambled over the back of the couch. “What. THE. FUUUUCKK!”

    I could sense the light around me, enveloping me, burning me, invigorating me. I looked down and saw the tail of an alligator, the legs of an ostrich, beetles flying from my kneecaps. The pain was excruciating, and yet, I could feel all these animals and insects at once. I could hear the messages ants were tapping to one another. My flesh was melting into the beautiful kingdom, coalescing with the eagle and slug. The apartment was bathed in a crystalline aura, emanating from me.

    Then, one by one, the chicken sprouted from my head, the alligator from my waist, the ostrich from my legs, until all that was left was me.

    I collapsed on the floor. Roland jumped over the couch and helped me to my knees. I cried. A lot. These living things. All these living things. They were in me, and I was a part of them. A gecko worked its way out the open window. The capybara lingered on the kitchen counter.

    ***

    “Honey, what’s you starin’ at?” Seline, the farmer’s wife stood next to Farmer Wilson in the early dawn.

    “Well, Reba, that chick’n there, it’s got just one wang.”

    -JR Simmang

  36. Observer Tim says:

    This is only tangentially on prompt, but I wanted to see if I could write the story of a song into this venue. Only one song came to mind…

    The Potion

    “Let me see your hand, Billy Mitchell.”

    “How do you know my name?”

    “Would Mistress Ruth be a Romani wise woman if she didn’t?” The gypsy took his hand in hers and blew herbal-scented breath across it. Her finger traced lines across his palm, then did an elegant motion that Billy could have sworn left faint glowing lines in the air. “Now, tell madame what you are looking for.” She smiled, the candlelight of the shop glinting off her gold tooth.

    Billy blushed and looked down. “Um, I have this problem. Women don’t notice me; I haven’t had a date in three years.”

    “Yes, your romance lines have been severed. That can be fixed with a simple potion.”

    He suddenly looked dubious. “How much is it going to cost?”

    “We will discuss that later. It will not be money.” She curtseyed and spun, her arms drawing sinuous shapes in the air to the music of rippling bracelets.

    “Well, what…”

    She placed a sparkling finger on his lips to shush him. “Come over here. I will mix it in this basin, but you must watch.” As she sashayed over she tossed her raven hair, looked back and winked.

    Billy watched her work. First she mixed a small amount of three different powders, then added a few drops of oil, carefully mixing with her finger. After that three more powders were rubbed into the paste, then a tear from her left eye. Finally she scooped the mixture into a tiny bottle of clear liquid, which turned black as the two joined. The distinctive scent of nail polish remover drifted up, making Billy’s eyes water.

    “What do I do with this?” Billy dreaded the answer, and got it.

    “You drink it. Just a drop on your tongue.”

    Billy steeled himself, plugged his nose, and sipped.

    His vision went blurry; he had to reach out and stabilize himself. His hands found the only support present: the young gypsy woman. He could have sworn he’d grown a third arm, but that was okay since that gave him two to wrap around her and a third to hold the potion for another sip.

    Billy lost track of time after that, lost in a daze of arms, wings, legs, and lips. Mostly lips. When he regained his senses he was sitting naked under a blanket in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind him. An officer in the driver’s seat was reading out loud.

    “Mister William Mitchell, you’re in custody in a police car at 34th and Vine. You are under arrest for indecent exposure, creating a disturbance, resisting arrest, public intoxication, and obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties. You have the right to remain silent…”

    Billy stopped listening; he was more interested in the police woman seated in the front passenger seat, who was looking back and mouthing “Call me”.

  37. Augie says:

    Won’t be here next week; so I wanted to get another short one in.

    The dragon’s talons rip into his flesh, propelling him through the sky. Pain surges through his body as he lunges toward the dragon again. The dragon dodges his rider’s lance, raising the spike on the end of its swishing tail. The blow penetrates the rider’s armor. Her life’s blood spills on his back. His rider, his wife, falls to the ground.

    Jason wakes from another nightmare. His wife wipes the sweat off his head, “Jason, what’s the matter?”

    Jason sits up in bed, “It’s gaining strength, gather the group.”

    …………

    The three brothers sit in a circle around the fire with their wives.

    “That is impossible! We gathered all the eggs!”

    Jason shouts, “Listen to me! I can feel the beast. We must of missed one. It mocks me in my sleep as it gains strength. We must find it and destroy it before it grows to full size. If it recovers the eggs, we are doomed.”

    Steve stands, “We are only three brother. Do not forget the strength of these beasts. What chance do we have to defeat it?”

    Jason lowers his voice, “If the dragon recovers the eggs, it will take them to the cave. We have a chance in beating one dragon, not hundreds.”

    “You have seen it in your dreams, where is it Jason?”

    Jason turns, “In the caves of Son Doong, Vietnam.”

    The group enters the underground shelter where the dragon eggs have been guarded for thousands of years.

    Jason looks at his two brothers and raises the flask, “Before the war we were thousands, now we are three. For victory my brothers!”

    The three brothers drink and the transformation begins.

    The wives enter dressed in full chain mail and strap saddles to the beast.

    Dragon lances in hand, the three griffins and riders begin the long journey.

    ………..

    Deep in the caves of Son Doong, the four dragons sharpen their talons. “They come!”

  38. foodpoet says:

    Abigail sniffed the goblet and eyed the red thick liquid pooled at the bottom.

    “What’s in it Franlin?”

    “minced eagle feathers, ground lion claw and the binder is dragon’s blood.” Replied Franklin.

    “I don’t have the money for dragon’s blood Franklin” Abigail swirled the liquid sighing at the cost. Her red hair reflected the swirling liquid.

    “under the circumstances, it’s on the house. We need you to reach the Devonshire Air Bridge in time to stop Monetfort.” Franklin grimaced. “I hate to take a lost but I make the best potions and you are the best flyer.”

    Abigail tipped the goblet and sipped. One sip a pause and she downed the goblet. Slipping out of her clothes she waited as pain gripped her body and she twisted arms branching out forming claws and talons. Wings spread out breaking free from her back. Eyes rounded to eagle sight. “Oh now I see why we needed the dragon blood. I can still communicate with you Franklin.” A mighty shake of feathers and Abigail took flight, one angry griffin hot on the trail of Montefort…

    • jhowe says:

      There’s a lot of good stuff in here. It sounds like this is part of something bigger as I think Abigail and Montefort may have met before. Nice.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Aaagh! Where’s the rest of it? What happens when she finds him? How did things come to this pass?

      More! More!

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Tell us more. :) foodpoet – nice name btw.
      This is very good, though I think, not saying Franklin so much, would improve it.

    • Reaper says:

      Nice and gripping. This reads like the beginning of a story with some nice back story worked in later, or the beginning of a chapter in the middle of a book. Either way it leaves me wanting much more.

      • foodpoet says:

        oops my post went away. This is a departure for me in that I mostly write poetry. Reading all the semi connected plots with these prompts made me want to try more non poetry. Good call on the to much Franklin. I struggle with dialogue. I am using the prompts to see what will happen with these three.

  39. jhowe says:

    The shy timid one named Serene lingered with her elixir as the others proceeded to their posts. The concoction had been created by the mythmaker to bolster Serene’s condition for as far as femmes fatales go she was more than somewhat lacking.

    Serene was the daughter of Helen who had ruled the sirens for many cycles, how many is unclear as sirens live forever and none of the others recalled another leader. Serene considered pouring the elixir on the ground but Helen would know and would not be pleased. She took a small drink and immediately felt a quiver in her third arm. The other sirens called this third arm their dagger arm. The idea was to seduce the men with their eyes and their voices and with the fingers on their two normal arms while the third arm swooped in for the coup de grace. Serene was always misplacing her dagger though, much to the chagrin of the others.

    She took a second drink and her wings began to shudder and her third arm withered and began to shrink. A third drink caused more of the same and Serene felt an intense tingling discomfort in her shoulders as the wings continued to shrivel and melt away, feathers dropping to the ground. Could this be pain?

    Serene lifted the cup to her lips and Helen stayed her hand. “Be aware Serene, that the final drops of the elixir will send you to live among the mortals.”

    “What do you mean mother?”

    “Face it my daughter, you are not meant to seduce in the way of the sirens. It is not in you. Karkin is here with the antidote though if you would prefer to stay.”

    The mythmaker was a small, hideous man with wispy gray hair. He stood with a small leather pouch and a wretched smile on his face.

    “What is it like in the mortal world mother?”

    “As a mortal you will grow old, you will feel pain, you will eventually die, but you will love and be loved. The choice is yours.”

    “As a mortal you will feel pleasure on occasion but happiness is not always abundant,” added the mythmaker.

    Serene looked into the impossibly green eyes of her mother and felt herself being drawn into them. She looked to the mythmaker and considered asking for the antidote. She swirled the last of the concoction in her cup trying to avoid the deep green eyes with their powerful pull. In a nearby chamber Serene heard the voices of the sirens so melodic, such a beautiful chorus. But then she heard the mournful cry of a man and she quickly rose the cup to her lips and drank.

    Her mother’s face began to fade and the mythmaker’s maniacal grin twisted and blended with his distorted face. Serene winced as her wings disappeared into her body, the new sensation of pain almost unbearable. But then all went still and she felt herself floating, descending into her new existence, into the world of mortals.

  40. Cynthia Page says:

    The gypsy said to wait, but I couldn’t. She told me if I left the forest too soon, my life would change beyond fixing. I wish she had warned me about the bridge.

    It was October of 1856 the night I walked into the forest to watch the gypsies dance. Getting caught had not been in my plans. The beautiful dark haired lady who found me crouched in the weeds near their campsite grabbed me by the ear and dragged me before their council. For intruding on their privacy, I was told to stay inside the forest for two weeks, living off the land. They pulled out the next morning while I slept. Perhaps they had practice leaving in a quiet hurry, or perhaps they were really fairies in the guise of people. I wish I had listened.

    When I woke I dismissed their warnings. My parents would be furious at me for not getting the milking done before sunrise. I ran to the edge of the forest. There, I hesitated for a few seconds, trying to gauge the direction of home, before plunging on into a field of weeds so tall I could not see the horizon. Without directional references, I lost my way, thrashing through tall saw grass that cut through my clothes, and skin. I ran for so long, it seemed I would never reach home.

    When the sun was high overhead I came to a road, but it was not my road. I saw a bridge nearby. I assumed it was the bridge on the opposite side of our village. I ran to it, over it, and stopped as I became dizzy. The sun spun in the sky, and wind howled around me. Banshees shrieked from somewhere unseen, and the insane gargling laughter of harpies came from the grassy fields on either side. I fell to my knees, as a powerful thirst came over me. I crawled to the stream beneath the bridge and cupped handfuls of bitter water into my mouth. The first sip brought a vague ache to my sides, but I kept drinking. No sooner had I slaked my thirst than my ribs began to throb. I passed out from the awful pain in my sides.

    When I woke, I was as you see me now. Two arms, four legs covered in fur, claws for toes on my four feet, and talons in place of fingers on my forward upper arms, a snaky tail with a rattle at the end, and these huge wings on my back. I’m not exactly a griffin, but that is the nearest mythical creature I can think of that comes close to my current shape. It is no comfort to still have my own head, because my teeth are like razors now. And I can’t die. I have lived in this forest for over one hundred and fifty years with nobody to talk to. Instinct kicks in every time, and you all end up as my dinner.

  41. Observer Tim says:

    Emergence

    The coffee was a special blend of Arabica with some spices that I’d gotten as part of the settlement of my gran’s estate. When I first tried it I had a warm feeling all over and a vivid dream of my last… you know.
    In order to explore the effect, I put a small pot on at work and gave espresso cups of it to some of my best customers. Mary was a bit upset for some reason and Ted turned beet red, but the others just sort of quietly smiled.

    Then there was Jack. When he sipped it a hand reached out of his chest and started fiddling with the buttons on his shirt. A second sip brought a second hand. The female hands, small and delicate, were kneading and tugging at his shirt. Finally they splayed themselves on his chest and started pulling, as though the person behind them were climbing.

    Jack started shaking and staring down at himself. He reached down to push the cup away but instead somehow picked it up and drank it. He tried to spit the coffee out but ended up choking on it and then swallowing most of it. The hands on his chest kept pulling and a set of feathery white wings began emerging from his torso. After that came the crown of a head with long brown hair.

    By then everyone was staring. Jack fell backwards from his chair and started trying to push the apparition back into himself. It wasn’t working. Inch by struggling inch the creature dragged itself out of him. Jack was still grabbing at it, sobbing ‘No’ repeatedly in a low voice.

    It was a girl with wings. She was about ten years old and wearing just a tee-shirt, with a length of rope tight around her neck. A trail of dried blood ran down her leg. She looked around the room with soulless, measuring eyes. When I got a good look at her face I blanched. I’d seen that same face on the side of the milk cartons for the past week.

    Jack lay on the floor whimpering. She stared down at him, any traces of little-girl innocence long banished.
    “Mister Jack, you were right. I did come back as an angel. But angels aren’t all sweetness and light.”

    He screamed.

    “Don’t be afraid of me, Mister Jack. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just here to talk. I just want to tell these nice people that me and all the others are under the big flagstone in your back yard. You know, the one that looks heavy but actually moves.”

    As the girl faded away, two of the regulars, guys who’d often shown me pictures of their little girls, moved toward Jack.

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m ba..ack! A cruise ship is an excellent place to absorb ideas and stories, but kind of miserable for finding a quiet place to write. Now I have to go back and read last week’s prompts and this week’s.

    • Cynthia Page says:

      Wow! That was eerie. Excellent work. You had me on the edge of my seat with the hands, and the end was fantastic.

    • DMelde says:

      You survived! Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit. I thought this was a great story that was very well written. Welcome back.

    • Augie says:

      welcome back! What a great story Observer Tim!

    • jhowe says:

      Nice job OT. That was great. Suspenseful with justice added. You will be well served by reading last week’s prompts. You made several appearances.

    • lionetravail says:

      I hesitate to suggest you go cruising more often, OT- well written as always, but hugely imaginative. Awesome work!

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks for the praise, people. I’m glad I didn’t get rusty while I was away (or at least that the rust could be abraded off with an SOS pad). This one was weird in that the story sort of popped into my head whole cloth.

    • Welcome back, OT. Glad you enjoyed your vacation despite the noisy environment. This was a good start for your return. :) I think you did a great job here, but the angelic wings and light emphasized a clean visage of a girl, so adding the noose and blood seemed out of place. I feel like if you went either all dark with her (muddied skin, cataract eyes, bruises around her next, etc) or all clean (seraph wings, soft bloom of light, a subtle smile of forgiveness, etc) it would be a lot crisper without conflicting ideologies of angels or demons. It is, after all, your story, though. So, that’s just how I would do it. haha

      Well done, brother, and again, welcome back!

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks muchly, Jay. I did enjoy it, partly because it rained every day and we did get to encounter “seas” at least once. I love the ocean.

        I appreciate your advice here; I did have some trouble with the description of the girl. My first thought was for something more zombie-ish, but then I realized the angelic would be more in keeping with my hope to make her seem freshly killed. I accidentally edited out the line where she mentioned she was killed that morning. I’m adding your comment to my “how to write horror” tips.

        I didn’t really need the rope around the girl’s neck; finger-mark bruises would have sufficed.

    • Pete says:

      Yikes, well done sir, that was impressive!

    • snuzcook says:

      Great take on the prompt, O.Tim! I actually started down a similar path with this prompt, but couldn’t pull it off. You did it so well and with your usual effortless and powerful prose.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I’ve missed you Tim. Your stories set the mood for my day.This one is extremely powerful and expressive. I liked the angelic approach you used with the little girl for the tradegy became greater, realizing she had been killed. Your getting good with horror. I’m trying but still have no clue as to how to proceed.

        • Observer Tim says:

          Thanks, Kerry; I’m glad that I can help you start your day. I tried to respond to this a couple of times before but tossed them. They either got too smarmy or too personal.

          For a child to experience this is horror in its truest sense; to make it out alive and even somewhat intact is the ultimate in bravery. If I had a time machine I’d go back and try to stop every occurrence.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, snuzcook. After we got back from the cruise we had a long afternoon visit with the relatives, which meant a few people’s sins got rehashed and brought back to the surface. I’m not sure whether their stories make me sad, angry, or both; probably both.

    • Amyithist says:

      This was so creepy!! Very well done.

    • Manwe38 says:

      Sorry it took me so long to see this.

      It’s a masterpiece, Observer Tim. You build tension, slowly at first, then it just rockets up ’til the end.

      Emotional and disturbing, which is why I love it. I’m also never going to drink vintage coffee again, lol.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      I knew coffee could catch a murderer!

      Silliness aside.

      Mister Jack is in a heap of trouble for what he has done.

      I liked the image of her being white, clean, and angelic, with the subtle trail of blood… it makes for a gentler image than a gory one.

      For some reason the most heart breaking line is the last one… maybe it’s because I can see the pain etched in the father’s faces – with hatred pushing it’s way to the surface – but mostly pain.

      Great, wonderful, touching, marvelous, magnificent, heart-rending – I need a mixture of these words to say what I think.

      Glad you’re back!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Welcome back Tim.
      This was chilling and a great take. I liked the way the drink brought pleasure to the good and pain to the bad.
      A nice re-entry to the world of WD prompts.

    • Reaper says:

      Welcome back Tim. This was lovely. Powerful with darkness and light in the same blend. It is nice that you chose coffee for this because it is a metaphor to the blend of your story. I disagree on removing the noose and the blood. I was going to say the noose was enough but I changed my mind. The noose is the hint to the murder that allows us to understand and follow along with her. I assume the blood on the leg was a symbol of sexual assault that occurred before hand. That allowed you to leave it unspoken and still make the antagonist a much worse man. Maybe not necessary but as symbols if you leave the angel as the angel and the other two as symbols of her trials I think they are a nice mesh.

  42. Reaper says:

    Unremarkable

    Once upon a time my dad told me, “Be wary the Ashford Grove.” It was a place of evil not to be trusted. Anything offered by one amongst those trees came with a hefty price tag. I was six when, as my mother put it, the angels took him.

    Once upon a time my mom told me, “The Ashford Grove offers untold blessings.” It was a place of wonder that gave the hearts every desire. That was where she met my father and gifted him with her love. I was twelve when, as Mr. Cardihan said, the demon drink stole her away.

    In their time they were star performers. The greatest attractions in Cardihan’s Ten in One. My father was the worlds shortest man and able to advise the worthy on where fortune could be found. My mother took center stage as the bearded lady, with the added attraction of having a haunting voice that could often predict death. Unfortunately I did not fit in.

    Despite being like the marks rather than the attractions Mr. Cardihan let me stay on after both my parents passed. We travelled the country so it was inevitable we would return to Ashford of the legendary grove one day. When we entered the town I begged leave to wander and spent the better part of the day finding the mythical spot where my parents had met.

    I entered near dusk to find the area illuminated with a soft white glow. To anyone raised among normal people it likely would have seemed strange. I, on the other hand, approached the willowy figure in the center without fear or regret. He offered me a beer, his equinox gift to me he said.

    Upon my first sip I found I had a second right arm below the first. The second swallow brought a second left. I gulped again and grew a feathery blue wing. Drink four brought its mate. I guzzled the rest to find myself growing tall and thin like my companion.

    “Jesus! What’s in that?”

    He flinched away. “Say not that name.”
    “Am I an angel?”

    “You know better, a man can never be an angel.”

    “Perhaps a Nephilim then?”

    He snorted derisively. “You are neither and both. You fulfill an ancient prophecy.”

    “How ancient?” I might have been drunk since I almost believed him.

    “Before the being you mentioned we were the ancient ones. Then came heaven and hell and we fae were cast aside. Born as human to a lucky wee mated to half-breed pookah and harpy are thee. Destined to lead us to victory against both demon and angelic host.” He danced excitedly from foot to foot.

    “Well I’m going back to the show now.”

    “Wait! You must lead us.”

    “Must I? I’m a freak now, I’ll finally fit in.”

    “Do you not wish to avenge your parents?”

    “Nah.” I sized him up then turned around. “They’d want me to be happy.”

    Last I saw of him he looked pretty pissed.

    • Cynthia Page says:

      I like this. He takes what he gets and fits it into his life. He doesn’t cave in to pressure and expectations. It was a great read.

    • jhowe says:

      That Asford Grove sounds like a pretty wild place. Great fantastical elements and very fun to read. Well done once again.

      • Reaper says:

        Thanks jhowe. I was going for the idea of a fairy circle where nothing comes without a price and in general you should avoid the food and drink. The same rules not applying to the creatures of fairy though.

    • I love how the MC is just like, “Meh, whatevs.”

      I honestly thought the Ashford Grove was just going to end up being a bar, one that the mother visited all too often and that his father specifically steered his son clear of the place that was destroying his mother.

      That said, it wouldn’t be too hard to manage that anyway. You have a father who says say away from a bad, and a mother who absolutely condones it.When the son comes of age, he seeks out this place to find out for himself, whereupon he finds that there is nothing special and does not succumb to the drink like his mother did. It can’t control him, so it, in a way, isn’t as evil as his father put it. The “thing” in front of him can represent human desire, be it of human or creature or deity.

      *shrug* Who knows, though, I tend to read far too into things. :p

    • snuzcook says:

      This did not go where I expected, Reaper, and I had to chuckle at the ending. Count on someone who grew up in a ‘freak show’ to have a different perspective on things. It’s wonderful how someone else would have perhaps leapt at the chance to be a mythical hero once he had been transformed from the common place, but this guy just wants to fit in. Well done!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Oh, the pains we will go to in order to fit in. I loved the reversal on the “monster” take, Reaper.

      For some reason, I can’t get Marilyn Munster out of my head.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        There are so many thoughts that entered my mind as I read this. It is written in parable form isn’t it? I never tried writing in that manner. The way you went about this, led me into a maze of thoughts. When I read it a few times more, I’ll try to come back with my own translation of your story. It’s layered and layered and has to peeled back to reveal.

        • Reaper says:

          I would love to see your translation on this one. Honestly part of it is parable. I had about eight different ideas come into my head. I didn’t like any of them but as I thought about it they all kind of resolved into this one. Not my favorite story but it was something different than my norm.

      • Reaper says:

        She got stuck in my head too.

    • Amyithist says:

      Reaper, this was awesome. I like the “devil may care” (pun intended) attitude the MC takes on. This was a good take on life: Do what you want and don’t bend to the will of anyone. Including Fae. :)

    • Augie says:

      As always, I break out my tools when reading your post. Right clicking my mouse for google to explain the deep depths you are taking me through. I pull out my pen taking notes, like any good archaeologists would do. Then I read it again, learning more. I am a reader, a student, that truly enjoys the ride of this incredible author. Thanks Reaper!

    • Reaper, your stories are a certain brand. They make me laugh, think, and shiver all at the same time, but mostly think. From the garden gnome to Sammy Saner, you’ve been an awesome part of this little website.

      But, lavish praise aside, this story was.. odd. A freak show, “half-breed pookah and harpy”? Come on! I also liked how the MC just calmly shrugs off his quest, doesn’t even care.

      • Reaper says:

        Mr. Baggins, first of all thank you for the lavish praise. That is a wonderful thing to hear. Honestly I was not very happy with this one and you caught an editing error that I went back and fixed in the original. The half breed was supposed to be pookah and banshee, the shape changing animal explaining the beard, and the banshee the voice that predicted death. I spaced and typed harpy instead. Thank you for pointing that out as I would have blithely continued on without you bringing it up.

    • Manwe38 says:

      This was very unique, Reaper.

      I’ve always been fascinated by ancient myths, and this really got my attention.

      I hope you’ve got a sequel planned somewhere, and even a prequel.

      I want to know more.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Wonderful Reaper. I love the MC’s carefree attitude.

      At first I was picturing the mother as a pretty woman, then when you mentioned she’s a bearded lady, I was suddenly seeing the bearded lady from “Spaceballs”; It seems even more fitting because the woman in “Spaceballs” calls a normal guy – Dark Helmet – a freak.

      Great story as always!

      • Reaper says:

        Haha. Now I have that image stuck in my head. I imagined her as a pretty lady at first aside from that and now the other image will forever be stuck in my head.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I loved the way you took a polar switch to the ending Reaper. Your wordsmithery in the build up and ability to entice, were as always perfect.
      Always a pleasure.

    • jmcody says:

      You certainly do make a reader work, but then anything worth having is worth working for, no? So, lets see — Mix up some Angels, Nephilim, Harpies, Pookahs (or maybe Phookas?), circus freaks and wee folk and what do you get? Here’s what I got: More than one of these are bringers of both good and bad fortune, or good and evil, as was your Ashford grove. What I am taking away from this mixed-heritage freak show is the relativity of good and evil, and how its not so much your circumstances that determine your fate as your interpretation of those circumstances, as well as your freedom to accept or reject the legacy contained in those circumstances. Am I even close?

      Weird and wild, and crazy cool, Reaper. Which means I liked it a lot. You never cease to amaze and captivate.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you jmcody. Shit, stupid words that don’t fit in the dictionary. I had to correct phooka. You and Bilbo have saved me with the editing this week.

        You are closer than I would have expected anyone to get honestly. I had this idea come into my head about a man talking to a servant of heaven wondering if he was an angel or a nephilim. I had the idea of the Fae and how they cringe at the name of God and wanted the idea of a mortal tricked in a fairy circle. Then I had the idea of a circus freak who had always felt outside and when cursed with deformity saw it as a blessing. There were a bunch of other stories that rattled through my head to combine into this as well.

        So everything you say is an aspect that was placed in here. Kerry caught the parable as I also had the idea of political commentary about the two parties fighting a war where they want us to choose and see the other as evil. Throw in the fae in the role of those that want to undo those powers but only for their own ends to replace them. Add in most of us just trying to be happy living our own lives as the unfreaky freak who never fit in and you have most of what was in my head.

        It has been a strange week around here and confusion led into something that seems to have become an onion of my mind. Thank you as always for the kind words and deep thoughts. You do seem to have amazing insight into my writing.

  43. dsjarvis says:

    All I want is a Red Bull from the local Seven Eleven, but Bobby Joe insists that we go to the seedy grocery store on the other side of town where cheap hookers and drug dealers make a living. Somebody robs the place at least once a week, but after a lot of convincing from Bobby Joe, I drive us there. He has a way of persuading people because I’m pretty certain I read in the paper that a customer took a bullet in the sternum last night. Knowing how lazy the staff can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if a dried up puddle of blood greets me as I enter the store. Quite a difference from the old fogies at Wal-Mart…

    Instead of entering the store with me, Bobby Joe walks around back to smoke a cigarette with some disheveled hobo named Trippy Fred. And that’s not a nickname. This guy’s mom was so baked when she birthed him in their bedbug ridden dump of an apartment that she gave him the first name Trippy. Apparently he didn’t cry because he joined the party in the womb.

    I buy my Red Bull from the apathetic cashier Cassandra – who is actually pretty hot in a slummy white trash sort of way – and join Bobby Joe and Trippy Fred behind the grocery store. As I expect, they are both smoking weed and laughing uncontrollably because Trippy Fred’s bare ass somehow resembles the Little Dipper. I immediately wish to punch Bobby Joe in the throat, but I abstain since he’s my best friend.

    For some reason, Bobby Joe slaps my half full can of Red Bull out of my hand, which sends Trippy Fred into a laughing fit. “Here maaaaaaan, I gotchya covered.” Trippy Fred hands me an unopened can of Red Bull.

    I guzzle down my new beverage and start to feel a little funny. Suddenly, an arm protrudes from my chest, then my back, and then my left arm turns into a bat wing. Bobby Joe’s face resembles a crying monkey, and Trippy Fred’s head morphs into an exploding watermelon.

    High as hell on acid in a bad part of town with your idiot best friend and a psychotic man named Trippy Fred is a frightening experience. The hookers shape shift into rabid zombie beavers, but my fourteen additional limbs fight them off. I steal a can of spinach from the grocery store, rip it open, chug it down, and watch it strengthen my arms like Popeye.

    One, two, three, four rabid zombie beaver hookers go down! The entire store becomes a giant video game, and Trippy Fred is the final boss. I use my wings to fly above his head and use a hammer from aisle four to knock him out, but his legion of demon cops forces the “Game Over” message to flicker above me.

    I wake up in a jail cell next to Bobby Joe. “What happened?” I ask.

    “Trippy Fred happened” he responds, smiling.

  44. pulp says:

    There she lay with her wings sprawled upon the satin sheets on his bed. The blackness of her naked flesh oozed out and inundated the room. Her long frizzled hair swam like serpents in the sea of satin as he moved towards her voluptuous breasts protruding from which was a wrinkled white nipple.

    The toxicity of the room made him nauseous. The ceremonious induction had begun with a romance. Her silvery red tongue swiveled in the air, peeking through those grey fangs.

    He gently climbed the bed grazing her navel and rested his mouth on her nipple.He slowly caressed it with his tongue until he tasted an acidic bitterness on his tongue. Her loud moans mingled with intermittent fits of diabolical laughter pervaded the room. As the notes of Chopin filled the air, he ravenously sucked her nipple and the acerbic fluid flowed out which he scrupulously drank.

    With each gust of drink, the color of his flesh swam through the shades of grey into the blackness it aspired. The hideousness of his flesh mirrored the monstrosity of her’s. The feast raged for hours until he had been transformed to a spitting image of her.

    Such was the fear that arose that even the rising sun shyed itself to sleep hoping its nightmare will end in time.

    • jhowe says:

      That was quite the impressive bit of prose. I for one never breast feed from someone with gray fangs but I must admit I’ve never tried it so… Really nice writing style.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Please give me this woman’s address.

      You put together a wonderfully languid description, pulp. The atmosphere of this is fantastic. You created a character who is both monstrous and enticing without her doing anything more than existing.

    • Reaper says:

      Your writing is as tight and high end as ever. I honestly have to say the thing I like most about this is it is gutsy. Thank you for posting it.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      This is so surreal pulp. I’m wondering how you manage to leave me satisfied while using so few words.
      I hope to see a longer piece from you in the future, I think it could be someting very special.
      Nicely done.

  45. Matthew says:

    Bear with me for this one. This is my first writing prompt I’ve done. I appreciate any feedback on how I could do better.

    I glanced at the drink, giving the bartender one of those looks. The look he knows to be, “What the fudge is this.”
    “You’ll love the drink man. I mixed it up just for you.”
    The thought that the bartender made this just for me put me on edge.
    “What’s in here Jack?”
    “You know the usual.” Jack responded. I noticed he said something under his breath.
    “What was that last part, about some chemical?”
    “Oh don’t be silly, I didn’t say anything, now, take a drink.”
    I swirled the blue liquid around in the glass, then brought it up to my lips and took a sip.
    A creepy sensation filled my throat, and I could hear Jack laughing. This is where I would have been concerned. If the drink weren’t so tasty.
    “Blue-Raspberry flavored ale? Huh I never thought I’d like that.” I spoke and bent my head back to look up at the light. However I could not do this. I looked behind me to see what was blocking my way but I could never see it. I thought I saw a hand behind my head. The drink had dulled my reaction to this.
    I started to chug the drink.
    “No no Louis, don’t drink the whole thing.” He tried to warn me, a smile on his lips.
    It was too late; I had already drunk the entire thing.
    I could hear Jack laughing so hard.
    “What so funny?” I asked him, that’s when I noticed I had gained two new eyes, one on the palm of my hand, which was firmly planted on the table, the other on my shoulder.
    I flipped the table and could now see from all four eyes. I caught myself in a mirror. I looked like a disfigured mess, with an arm behind my neck, and another out of my chest, and two wings protruding from the middle of my back, only they weren’t pointed in the right direction; they were sideways.
    “What’s your problem Louis?” Jack smirked. “Drank too much?”
    “Yoush set me up; I want thisssh to all go away.” I demanded.
    “Red bull didn’t give you those wings; I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny to watch Louis squirm.’ Then I thought ‘Yea it would.’ So I devised this drink just for you. Its effects will wear off in about an hour. Have fun till then.”
    He shoved me out of the door into the bright sun and everyone on the street began to freak out. I ran for the closest place that I could be alone in to wait the hour out; unfortunately, there was nothing around.
    In the end I finally figured out why he did this. I broke his sister’s heart. Why does revenge really bite; or in this case, give me wings, arms and eyes?

    • I don’t like beating a dead horse, but you just need to practice… a lot. lol :) Come by here ever week and post a story for the new prompt. Join in the community, comment and read others variations of the same prompt. You’ll likely learn a lot here. Pay particular attention to Observer Tim, Reaper, Snuzcook, and a couple of other writers here, you’ll get some good exposure to showing and not telling. This is good for your first attempt, but you tell a lot more than you show, and coming from a man who is big on mixing showing and tell instead of just showing.

      One more thing, remember that you’re the author. You are the one telling the story, so you have to be the one to tell the reader what you want him or her to see. I became a little confused a couple of times throughout because some of the descriptions are flat. If your really simmer on your images and choose your words carefully, you can craft a compelling image that will keep us IN the moment instead of us scratching our heads wondering where you planned to go with it.

      Oh, right… one more thing. :) Consider putting the character into his actions instead of observing his own actions. So, he might tell us he could hear Jack’s laughing, but why would he do that when he might as well just spit it out and say he heard it?

      “I could hear Jack laughing.” consider instead “I heard Jack laughing.”

      This is also a good place to use imagery for showing instead of telling: “I heard Jack erupt with laughter so sinister I began to tremble.” Maybe that fits with your story, maybe it doesn’t.. only you can know that… the point is–and going back to what I said earlier–choose your words very carefully on how you want to tell your story for your readers. King once said don’t write for us, write for you, but when you truly write for you and explore all the things you truly want to explore in your writing, you’ll come out with something that really shows the reader what you meant to show them in the first place. :)

      Hope to see you next week, and keep on practicing!

    • snuzcook says:

      ‘What he said.’ Jay has given you some really great observations and suggestions.

      I think you have some really good stuff in your story, Matthew, and the premise was solid. Nice submission!

      I think the parts that I wanted to read a little differently were where your characters revealed something about themselves. Example: The Main Character revealed something about himself when he went ahead and drank the concoction, even tho he clearly realized he had reason to be suspicious. How should I feel about him at that point? I wasn’t sure, so I had to step out of the story and withhold engagement. When the bartender explained his reason for doing this, it was still not quite clear–was the bartender just sadistic or was there a solid motive behind his actions? I didn’t know whether to have sympathy for the bartender, or for the MC. The final lines clarified what was going on, and it all made sense. But at that point I wasn’t really rooting for anyone, so the effect was not as strong as it might have been.

      There could be ways to direct me to have solid sympathy for the character without showing your final twist, and that is a real challenge–something you might play around with.

      I look forward to reading more of your stories!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Welcome aboard, Matthew! You have a great concept and its fairly well executed. Some work is still needed though, and remember – you asked for it. ;)

      My first suggestion is visual. If possible, separate your paragraphs with an extra blank line; this makes them easier to separate and read, especially for people with fake eyes like me.

      Second, be careful with initiating actions. If you describe the whole action, you don’t need to mention finishing it later. Here is a sample recast (your word choice may vary):

      I chugged the drink. As it rolled down my throat the bartender lazily intoned, “No Louis. Don’t drink it all.” Then he gave me half a smile, knowing his warning was too late.

      Third, if you’re slurring, be careful of the position of the slurs (e.g. You shet me yup;…). This is one of my many unpatented tips on dialogue.

      That’s all for now. I can see a lot of talent and creativity in your writing, which practice will polish up and bring out. As Jay says, keep writing and keep posting. And definitely listen to snuzcook on bringing out the character traits. I’ve learned a lot from her, too. There are lots of great people here – feel free to hijack any parts of their style that you can. And never ever EVER let people discourage you.

      Keep on writing!

    • Matthew says:

      This story doesn’t seem like me. I’m working on a rewrite to something more my style, ill take all the advice into account.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Hey Matthew,

      Welcome… to Writer’s Digest! [horns and other musical instruments play vigorously]

      Observer Tim, Snuzcook, and Jay, have covered most of what I was thinking.

      There were a few places where the wording felt a little redundant: “[D]on’t drink the whole thing.” “It was too late; I had already drunk the entire thing.”
      Perhaps a better phrasing would be: “Too late; I had already emptied the glass,”

      And I was a little confused here: “Red bull didn’t give you those wings; I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny to watch Louis squirm.’ Then I thought ‘Yea it would.’ So I devised this drink just for you. Its effects will wear off in about an hour. Have fun till then.”
      It took me a second to figure out that it was Jack talking.

      But don’t let this discourage you! You and your story show great promise, and I can’t wait to see your talent bloom. One of the best things you can do to help your writing, is to read. Read everything you can, in all genres.
      And I’ll repeat what Jay said, pay particular attention to Observer Tim, Reaper, Snuzcook, Jay, and others. I’ve learned a lot since I found this place, and started reading all the responses.

    • Reaper says:

      Matthew the first thing I wanted to say is welcome. We can be a little rough, especially when someone asks for input so please don’t be scared off. I see a lot of raw talent and stories that want to be told. Those are the two most important things for anyone trying to write. I know you said this is your first time posting here but I do not know how long you have been writing.

      I saw one of your comments and look forward to seeing a story that feels more like you too you. One of the most difficult things is finding your voice and letting it flow. When you hold yourself back the story feels off to you and will then feel off to others.

      I see some earmarks here of a literary bent, and as that style is not as popular right now it can cause some rough edges. It is also harder to do in the word limit. You have a focus on characters that calls to me because I am the same way. Mostly I look forward to seeing more from you.

      The advice given so far has been good, so I am not going to repeat it. What I will say is remember this is your story. There were some parts that were confusing because you seemed to get lost in the words, but there was more good here than points in need of polish. Take every bit of advice you get here and elsewhere with a grain of salt because you can go too far in trying to please other people. While we will be helpful the one thing you do not want to do is become a clone of someone else. This is already too long so I am going to stop here and let you know I look forward to reading your next post.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Welcome aboard Matthew. I won’t repeat the wonderful advice you have been given, but I will just say that there is a lot of potential in your voice. I liked some of the images you painted. I will offer this and I hope it makes sense, trust your reader more and you will end up trusting your writing more. You’ll find yourself not having to over explain your scenes thus freeing up more words to unleash your imagination (especially in this situation, where there is a word limit).
      Anyway, nice first effort and keep it up.

  46. snuzcook says:

    ENGENDERMENT

    I held the bottle over her glass, my eyebrows suggesting.

    “No, really. I think I’ve had enough.” She struggled to rise wearing a self-conscious, tipsy smile. “I. . .I think something’s happening.”

    She awkwardly bumped her chair against the wall, holding her swollen body rigid like a woman 9-1/2 months pregnant.

    Here, let me give you a hand.” I knew the potion was working.

    She looked down at the flimsy, mesh fabric clinging to her torso. Something was moving under the fabric between her ribs, as if it were trying to get out. The shape forced outward against the fabric until it parted, exposing a fully formed hand and graceful wrist, followed by an arm. No sooner had this hand emerged, but another sprouted from the other side of her body completing a symmetrical, matched pair of limbs.

    “A leg would be more helpful,” she giggled. “I seem to have an overabundance of hands.”

    “I would give you one if I had one to spare.”

    She glanced up, then blushed. “Oh, that’s right. I’m sorry.”

    I waved her apology away.

    “Golly! Will you look at that?” She twisted to look behind her as a long set of diaphanous wings emerged behind her shoulder. She flittered it, and another identical set emerged from the other side, lying down the length of her back like the wings of a termite and crossing slightly somewhere below her tailbone. Together they flittered again, as if they had a will of their own. She giggled.

    “Sure you don’t want so more potion? It can make you more…comfortable.”

    “No, I’m fine. In fact, I’m fabulous.” She was stretching and moving her four graceful arms like a Hindu goddess, moving across the room in an intricate dance. With great sadness, I realized the room was already too small for her. In a moment, she realized it, too.

    She went to the French doors at the miniscule lanai and pushed them open. She stood, her eyes closed, leaning her body into the breeze. The sheer drapes, billowing around her, blended with her new wings, creating the ultimate illustration of restlessness arrested at the moment before flight.

    Breaking the spell, she turned. “Well, I gotta go. Thanks for everything.”

    I nodded, unable to speak. I was already forgotten. She belonged to a different world now.

    I lumbered to the open doors. The moon glistened on the incredibly fast beat of her wings as she darted away into the night. Other transformations were happening across the city, and she was soon joined by other shapes in motion above the oblivious rooftops.

    I allowed myself a moment of self pity. I had loved her, perhaps more than the others. But I knew it had been doomed. In our kind, the male is forever fated to live a long life in the bloated shape of an oversized grub, while the females, within only hours of mating, fly toward a different destiny. She will not eat or sleep until she has laid her eggs at a safe house somewhere out in this alien world where her young will be reared by our kind. Then within a day and a night, her wings will drop off and she will die. And the cycle will begin again.

    Me, I must straighten up the apartment and prepare. I will receive new young to rear before moon has set.

    • dowritenow says:

      What a interesting take on the prompt! You’ve described her emotions so well I can actually *see and feel* her dreamy delight. Can even hear the giggles. Just charming, charming. Thank you.

    • Augie says:

      you definitely got me snuz! Awesome take on the prompt.

    • Thanks for sharing, Snuz… another pleasurable read! :) Is it just me, or did anyone else think of The Land Before Time when they read “diaphanous” or is it just me? lol

    • jhowe says:

      The females do seem to get the advantages in metamorphisis dealings. Us poor male grubs have to cope. I don’t know how you think of these things, but I’m glad you do.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is lovely, Snuzcook! The strange thing is, despite the bug people I still get the impression of Paris. I can almost hear the concertina playing its soft lilting melody from here as she flies off into the moonlight.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Oh snuzcook, so creative. This is a very classy piece.

    • Reaper says:

      This is so serene and beautiful. You captured just the right hind of hope and sadness mingled together. I think both sides of this would both pity and envy the other. I mean yeah the females get to transform but at least the males don’t have to die after mating.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Another beautifully written story from you snuz, mystical, symbolic and beautiful. Not all males have a cake walk. In the case of the Praying Mantis, the female tears the head off the male and then they mate. Guess what happens to the male. Yep.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, this was so moving in some kind of subconscious way that I can’t quite verbalize. A lot of your writing seems to have a keen awareness of the natural world, and you have a unique ability to see and convey the poetry in it. (I would guess that you must work in a biological or natural science field.) This had the sadness of love and loss that is inherent in the natural cycles of life. It put me in mind of the kind of loss that men sometimes feel when their wives become mothers, and find that their relationship is forever changed. Even though it’s a natural progression it can still feel like a loss. Your writing always has such depth and feeling. It goes without saying that I really liked and appreciated this.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, JM (and welcome back–missed you ;0))
        Great observation about the sadness of loss when roles change. I think it is your ability to communicate these cycles and relationships that I have found so compelling in your stories.
        Would you believe I spent my early life studying bugs and critters, but when I tried to pursue entomology in college, I couldn’t stay awake through chemistry. After changing my schedule three times I finally switched to archaeology. Imagine, blood sugar fluctuations after lunch dictated my destiny! But I can still write about my little friends!

        • jmcody says:

          Ha ha, my career decisions were based on my stomach too — In my case, a queasy one. Bio major, declared myself pre-med, and then figured out that the sights and smells were too much for me. Plus the cafeteria meals always seemed to follow what we were dissecting that day — pork when we were dissecting a fetal pig, seafood when it was a crawfish, etc. The smell of agar and formaldehyde made me want to puke. I used to make deals with my lab partners — you cut, I’ll write. Most of the time it was a wn-win. Not knowing what else to do, I listened to a lot of very bad advice and defaulted to business. Still regretting it today. Sigh.

  47. DRINK RESPONSIBLY

    Announcer: Tired of feeling like tasks around the house or job never end? Need to lend someone a hand, but just don’t have the time? Well, your struggles are over!

    (Sound of cornets blasting)

    Announcer: Introducing, the all-new Add-an-Arm Formula! Carefully tested by numerous scientists at our Copperopolis Labs, and marketed to a small number of the public, this revolutionary new drink is now available nationwide!

    Bill Gibble: I was so excited to get my package of Add-an-Arm, I waited all night until the UPS guy delivered it. It works like a charm, and now my writing career has taken off. Already, I’ve had calls from major publishers looking for copies of my manuscript “Life as a Human Spider: The Early Years”. I even bought another computer so I can write two novels at once, four arms for each. Thank you, Add-an-Arm!

    Announcer: Simply flip the patented lid, measure out the correct dose, and swallow. Within five minutes, the magic will happen. It’s that easy! Take as many doses as needed to add more arms and legs. It’s completely harmless, all for the amazing price of $39.99!

    Kathy Prettrige: Add-an-Arm has changed my life. Now folding the laundry’s a breeze, and washing the dishes takes barely a minute. My husband, who lost an arm in a hunting accident, was finally able to get it back. It’s not exactly in the right place, but the smile he had as it popped out of his waist reassured me I was doing the right thing. Thank you, Add-an-Arm! (Bursts into tears)

    Announcer: So, call now to receive this groundbreaking scientific treatment. The number is 888-674-ADDARM. I repeat, 888-674-ADDARM. The first 50 callers will receive as a prize our recently introduced Add-a-Wing. Now, you can fly, for up to 30 seconds at a time!

    Announcer: So, if you call now, you’ll receive our Add-an-Arm formula, as well as our new Add-a-Wing! If you call now, we’ll add in a second Add-a-Wing, to give to a friend. That’s a savings value of $79.99! Supplies won’t last, hurry before they’re all gone!

    Bill & Kathy together: Get Add-an-Arm! You won’t regret it!

    (Cliché jingle with taped singing group: “Limbs Incorporated, Established 2014”)

    Announcer (extremely fast voice): This formula is not approved by the FDA in its present format. If entire can is drunk at once, immediate morphing into a fly will result within 24 hours. We are not responsible if you are swatted. Do not use if pregnant, under the age of 18, or living in Madagascar. Side effects include headaches, nausea, vomiting, involuntary flapping/kicking, internal bleeding, and death. Have a pleasant day.

    (From whence came this silly affair? I know not where. Just pretend it’s not there. GH)

    • Augie says:

      Hilarious! Such a great take on the prompt!

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Awesome ‘Add’ Bilbo! I love hearing side effects! Great response :)

      • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

        P.S. could I at some point make this? As an actual video, I would of course mention you in the credits. ;) But in all seriousness I think it would be a lot of fun to make… if i can get your permission.

        • You do have my permission, WKOL. But, please, do not portray our product negatively. It will hurt sales.

          “The Announcer”

          • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

            Of course not, I wouldn’t dream of damaging your sales. Thank you for your cooperation.
            I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s finished! :) (I am serious about doing this, some friends and I are trying to get into film.) Thanks again! :)

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            This is a lark in the park Bilbo, you should be in advertising. A lot of money there, writing jingles to music, just ask Barry Manilow. A fun romp and stomp.

    • Stupid consumer question: if you consume two different add-a-wings, will that give you wings? Are you infringing on red-bull Bill Gibble!?

      • Jay “The Doc” Wilson:

        Yes and no. If you consume two add-a-wings, you will grow two wings, but… not in the exact places needed to fly. One unfortunate fellow… well, I won’t get into the details. Please hush up about it, though. We can’t afford court losses.

        “The Announcer”

    • seliz says:

      Very funny. I particularly liked Bill Gibble’s testimony. If anything was going to convince me to take Add-an-Arm, that would be it!

    • usedname says:

      Loved it. I love a good add parody

    • Matthew says:

      This is my first appearance on writing prompts, I absolutely loved this take on the prompt, I wouldn’t have thought to make it like an ad. The testimony was great. Bill’s testimony was the best. Nicely done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is hilarious, Bilbo. I can just see the message: “operators are standing by” showing a telephone drudge holding four wired handsets.

      Go hobbits!

    • snuzcook says:

      Brilliant, Mr. Baggins! Is it just me, or did last week’s prompt have a ‘hand’ in it? Well written, extreme silliness and all. Bravo!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      This was cool fun to read Bilbo. I like the way your mind works.

    • Reaper says:

      Mr. Baggins, if it were not one in the morning and if this had not made me laugh so much I would tell you that you should stop staying up late enough to see the infomercials this is based on. However this was amazingly silly and your disclaimer at the bottom reminded me of Puck at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    • Thanks everyone, I really appreciate it! It was absolutely fun writing this. And, Reaper, I don’t watch them at all, my parents haven’t even had TV for 8 years. It’s just that people make fun of them so often I know how they go. :-)

      • jmcody says:

        Wow, no TV for eight years… That explains a lot. Maybe it explains how you came by your incredible imagination. I’m guessing you did a lot of reading during that time. Also the fact that you were able to parody the tone and substance of this type of infomercial without actually having seen any shows what an incredible ear you have. I so want to throw out my TV right now.

        Well done as always, Bilbo.

  48. cosivantutte says:

    I borrowed a couple of ideas from jmcody courtesy of The Robert Syndrome prompt. I feel like I should apologize for some reason. :)

    Robert Downey Jr. contemplated the friffy pink martini in his hand. Sparkling salt crystals lined the rim while candied kewpie doll heads cluttered up the bottom of the glass. “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I hate Mondays. Hey!” He waved the bartender over.

    “Is there a problem, Mr. Downey?”

    “Maurice, my amigo, my compadre. We’ve known each other for what? Fifteen? Sixteen years?”

    “Seventeen, Mr. Downey.”

    “We know each other like butter knows bread, right? Tight. Close. BFF’s and all that crud. Right?”

    “Yes?” Maurice shot a nervous glance at the pink drink.

    “You know what I like to be poisoned with, right?”

    “Straight up whiskey with a little something on the side, Mr. Downey.”

    “Lovely. I’m glad you remember.” He pushed the martini towards Maurice. “So, tell me. What the flang-doodle-heck is this?”

    Maurice shrank back. “Please don’t kill me, Mr. Downey. It wasn’t my idea. That one-armed man dressed up like Dumbledore or Gandalf told me to do it. He told me to tell you that this martini is a little something from an old friend.”

    Brad Pritt and other actors of our caliber get legions of faithful, screaming hot babes. Why do I attract all the freaks? Robert shuddered as he remembered the horrible things his fans did to him a month ago. He had them banned from his fan sites after making sure that they would pay his psychiatric bill for the next six years.

    “A one-armed man dressed up like Dumbledore or Gandalf.” Robert shrugged. “Sounds like George Clooney. He’d do anything for a practical joke. That sick, sick man. Is there anything in that drink that will make me sick or die?”

    “No, Mr. Downey.”

    “No one’s going to steal my body if I drink this, right?”

    “No, Mr. Downey.”

    He picked up the glass and gently swirled it. The candied kewpie doll heads smiled their pudgy smiles even as they clonked against each other.

    “It’s perfectly safe, Mr. Downey. After all, I made it.” Maurice’s shifty eyes belied every word he said.

    Robert lowered the glass. “I won’t turn into a kewpie doll, right?”

    “No, Mr. Downey. You won’t.”

    “Well. That’s reassuring.” He picked up the glass and took a sip. “Mmm.”

    A scaled arm sprouted out under his left arm, but Robert didn’t notice.

    “Mmm. Tastes like raspberry tart.” He took another sip.

    A scaled arm sprouted out under his right arm.

    Maurice watched in wordless horror as each sip added something new to Robert’s body.

    A wing – large, powerful, and leathery – on his back. Another wing. Scales all over his body. Claws.
    His head transformed last – wedge-shaped and reptilian.

    Robert set the glass on the counter. “Mmm-mmm. That was good. Get me another.”

    “I’m sorry!” Maurice dropped to his knees and bowed his head. The bar counter separated him from Robert, ruining the effect he was aiming for. “Edwin put me up to it.”

    “Edwin? What?” And that’s when he noticed his transformation. He roared orange flames, which set off the water sprinklers, which made him wet and furious. He roared, “Forget tank missiles. I’ll fry him!”

    Maurice cowered. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Downey! He said he wanted to pay you back for ruining his screenplay.”

    “That screenplay was the most banal, insipid, asinine piece of flying horse manure. And he tried to connect my name to it and ruin my reputation.” He marched clumsily to the door. Dragon legs were not designed for dramatic marching. “I’ll bite his head off and then I’ll fry him till Friday of next week.”

    “It will wear off in an hour, Mr. Downey.”

    Robert snapped a sharp glare at him. “Well, then. I’d better hurry.”

    • Augie says:

      Would the phrase, ‘Thats the way they do it’ mean anything to you? This is the way to do it! Great story and thanks for submitting it!

    • seliz says:

      I loved this. The voice of Robert Downey Jr was great, especially his sarcasm. I liked the bit about the drink wearing off in an hour, too.

      • cosivantutte says:

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun with this one. I had no idea where it was going or how I was going to end it.

        As for his voice, I just thought “What would Iron Man say?”

    • For some reason I see RDJ handling his anger over something like that a little differently, but good descriptions, I don’t know exactly what you kiped from the previous writer, but it was a fun read. Thanks for sharing.

      • cosivantutte says:

        If you read the posts for The Robert Syndrome, you’ll understand why he lost his cool so fast. :) Poor man’s had only a month to recover from all of that. I felt bad making him the lead for this story, but I figured, “Ehh. Why not?”

    • jhowe says:

      I loved the dialog in this one. Very crisp and unforced. I’m still smiling.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a fine sequel to the Robert Syndrome, Cosivantutte. I can see where Robert would be in need of a little “revenge time” after his treatment at the hands of the real and ficitious people in his life.

      After all, actors are like that. ;)

    • snuzcook says:

      Great last line, cosivantutte! Very visual read, and using RDJr just aided that aspect of it. Building on the previous prompt gave more power to it without adding a lot of words. Well played, and well done!
      Love the bit about ‘must be George Clooney’ and I felt myself scuttling for cover along with the bartender when the truth was revealed.
      Great fun!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I think RDJ had to play the lead in this one. Nice job cosivantutte, a really enjoyable read.

    • Reaper says:

      That was a wild ride when taken as a follow up to JMCody’s story on that prompt. Well done and a wonderful voice. I’m not normally one to smile at that kind of ending but you managed to make me smile and want to hide at the same time.

    • jmcody says:

      Cosi! No apology necessary. First of all, I am grinning from ear to ear that my silly Edwin saga actually inspired someone else. Second, I am in awe of what you did with it. You nailed RDJ’s voice, and brought poor, delusional Edwin to the next logical level of insanity. Maybe I am biased, but I think this is flat out brilliant. :) LOVE it! You made my day.

      • cosivantutte says:

        Aw! Thank you so much for your kind words.

        Poor RDJ. Who knows what Edwin will do next if he survives this?

      • cosivantutte says:

        jmcody,

        I added one more episode to the RDJ and Edwin saga in the I Think I’m A Clone Now prompt. I think it’s the last episode this time because it feels like an ending/new beginning. I hope you like it.

  49. Augie says:

    The man raises a flask, sipping his ancestor’s blood as his replacement watches with horrified eyes.

    The replacement trembles, witnessing the transformation. “What are you?”

    The creature glares at the man with flaming red eyes.

    “Son, guard it well. It has brought our family riches for a thousand years. Read the book in the west tower for answers. I will watch over you.”

    For months the new watchman attempts to escape the magically sealed castle. Once a week a carcass of a cow or goat is placed on the highest tower along with fruit filled baskets.

    The watchman had lived a life of luxury for thirty years until the beast appeared. One evening off the coast of Mexico the creature ripped him off the deck of his yacht carrying him to this castle.

    Eventually, the watchman climbed the twisting stairs up the west tower, discovering a book resting on a podium in the center of the room. Instead of paper, each page is a large armored scale from a beast resembling the one that carried him here.

    The symbols represent a strange language; oddly enough the watchman understood.

    You are the blood of Kinte the blue.

    Welcome!

    Your son is safe and will be well cared for.

    Kinte the blue protected the riches of this castle for hundreds of years until the day the great hunter arrived.

    They battled for hours until Kinte came to an agreement to end all hunts and share the gold. They became brothers of blood, beast and man.

    Since then, the tradition has continued on the original agreement. For thirty years you have indulged in riches, for thirty more you shall watch over it until your son arrives.

    Then, you will watch over him until relieved.

    You must guard the castle, if needed drink from the flask of blood. But don’t travel far.

    Make sure to replenish the flask while you are still the beast.

    The watcher raises the flask to his mouth. His body trembles as the transformation begins. He leaps from the castle, flapping his mighty wings.

    Kinte, the great blue dragon would have been proud.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Very interesting. The first sentence captured me. :)

    • seliz says:

      I really liked the concept of this. It seems like something that would be well fitted for a longer novel or story (I know I’d read it!)

    • Huh, interesting. I like how the text very awkwardly blurts out “Welcome!” as if he’d just walked into a department store full of salesmen. This is a very withdrawn story. You don’t get to close to any of the characters involved, leaving me wondering about a main character and how he feels about the whole thing. Anyway, good descriptions and a solid start to what seems like should be a longer piece of work. Keep up the good work, Augie.

      • Augie says:

        I remember the day a stout man wearing camouflage shouted, “welcome” (followed by the words ‘to hell’) Almost 30 years later, I transition from active duty to retired, I realize how important it was not get close to anyone, and most importantly, don’t be an MC if you want a longer story. So, thank-you getting it. The awkward transition from beast-to-man (or reverse) is not easy, and requires a definite withdraw of emotion.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Okay, I’m hooked. You are going to have to run further with this, Augie. I’m a sucker for stories about responsibility, tradition and honour.

      I can see the guardianship going off the rails in so many ways, each of which would be a fine story of how it was restored.

      • Augie says:

        Thanks Observer Tim. I have several ideas for this, just no time. Hopefully I can figure something out for future prompts. (feel free to run with it if you wish) Good to have you back! I wrote a story about Tony and Mo bumping into you on the cruise ship and stealing your red pencil. Ill find a prompt in the future to post it. Thanks again!

    • sjmca1966 says:

      Augie, the way you wrote this to stay within 500 was perfect. I agree with the rest of the gang, that there could easily be something bigger here. The way you project legend is. . . well, legendary.

    • Reaper says:

      This gave me chills and I was also thinking it would be a great beginning to something longer and epic. There was a sense to this of being lost, afloat in an unfamiliar world of family duty. I could tell it was coming from the heart then as I read the comments and saw the one about a daughter changing the rules it clicked home. As I read further it made even more sense. You have a powerful way of writing from the heart that makes us see even when we don’t fully understand.

    • jmcody says:

      Well, I’ve had the advantage of all this insightful commentary above, but what did strike me was the jarring and even painful transition from one kind of life to another, and the heavy burden of inherited responsibility. Yet the MC drinks willingly of the flask anyway, which is in itself a comment on duty. You’ve got the bones of an epic story here. Marvelous, Augie.

      • Augie says:

        jmcody! “he stands with his hands on his hips’, where have you been?!?! Its sooo nice to hear from you again! I hope you have time to continue posting. I wrote ‘The Second Feather, (the story about the boy in the cave reading the stories painted on the caves wall) and thought about you the entire time. If interested, its on the Captain off deck prompt) I certainly hope that you are back for good! I was in a funk the last two days, seeing your response this morning brightened me up!

        • jmcody says:

          Hi Augie, I will definitely make sure to read “The Second Feather” very soon. The first part of the story made such an impression on me — I wouldn’t miss it!

          Thanks for these kind and lovely words. It is nice to be missed. I actually have an excellent excuse for my absence — my young(ish), healthy husband had emergency open heart surgery! Life is still pretty chaotic but starting to settle down a bit. I don’t have much time to write in between taking care of everything and everyone, but I will try to keep reading and commenting when I can. I promise I’ll get back eventually though — I have really missed this and all of you! Glad my response brightened your day, and now I can say the same thing about your response to me! :)

          • Augie says:

            I am sorry to hear that and send my best wishes. Take care jmcody. You really do brighten up this site.

  50. Kerry Charlton says:

    A TIME FOR WAR,
    A CONTINUATION

    PART FIVE

    DANGER IN THE ARAFURA SEA

    May 13, 1943, 7:14 PM. Location: 512 Nautical miles from Sydney, Australia.
    Destination: Port Moresby, New Guinea, 1187 nautical miles from present location.
    Australian Hospital Ship, Centaur. 332 aboard, including medical personnel and crew.
    Mission: Transport critical wounded to Sydney. Full hospital facilities on board.

    “I don’t think I could survive this without you help,” Delores said.

    “Is it the danger?” Sister Ellen Savage said.

    “No, it’s the boys, some of them I know won’t survive until we return to Sydney.”

    “We’re surrounded by death all the time,” Merle Morton mused. “We have to get used to the horror if we want to help.”

    Three army nurses huddled close on the dank, dark hospital ship as it cut through the cruel waters of the Arafura Sea, the ocean between the two ports. The war in the Pacific had raged a year and a half with Anerica fighting to regain territory lost to Japan.

    Delores Black looked back on gentlier times, working with her best friend, Nancy Ferguson at an insurance company in Washington. Threat of war surrounded them at all times then, but it seemed so far away. And now, she was in the middle of the fray, trying to save America’s finest from the hells of war. So many wounded and dying, so few to answer the call for help.

    The three girls talked toward midnight. Accommodations aboard the Centaur at best could be described as sparse, damp and uncomfortable. Unknown to the nurses, danger lurked sixty miles north east of the ship.

    On patrol, a Japanese submarine of the I-176 class, patrolled the seas in search of allied ships. Sub commander Hajime Nakagawa stood on deck, looking, always looking for the American infidels Time, 1:32 AM, May 14th. He was well aware of the Geneva Convention. Although the Japanese rarely gave quarter to the rules.

    2:17 AM, May 14th——–

    Perhaps less than a minute’s travel Nancy and Tom had travelled back, yet the stress played havoc with
    Tom’s mind. And then it was over. The steady rise and fall of the ship’s deck greeted his senses.

    “Do you know where we are Tom?” Nancy whispered.

    Shaken from his vault backwards in time, he answered.

    “Delores’ ship?”

    “Yes, the Centaur.”

    “And the date?”

    “May 14th.”

    “That’s the day Delores drowned. How on earth can we change history?”

    “I don’t know but I don’t want to lose her, she precious to me.”

    “We need to find the commander of this ship.” Tom said.

    The couple knocked on Colonel Manson’s cabin. Dressed in full uniform, he opened the door.

    “Lieutenant may I help you? Come in please.”

    Tom introduced himself as a freelance war correspondent. The colonel listened politely as Tom relayed the warning, but he knew the issue had been lost from the look on the colonel’s face.

    “You expect me to believe both of you?”

    “Yes,” Nancy said. The ship will be torpedoed before dawn.”

    “So you want me to change course to avoid the sub, lieutenant?”

    “Yes, in God’s name.”

    “I do think you’re sincere, I’ll tell you what I will do. I’ll place the ship on full alert, awaken everybody, place them in Mae West’s and station all on deck. ‘ll call it a practice raid.”

    “Thank you colonel, you won’t regret it,” Tom said.

    “Can you tell me where I can find Delores Black?” Nancy asked.

    “Second level down, turn right, second door. The nurses are bunked out there. She’s the best nurse on the ship. Is she a friend?”

    “Yes. God bless you colonel”

    “I certainly hope you’re wrong lieutenant.”

    • Augie says:

      The unstoppable Kerry! I just applied for my teachers certificate, guess what I want to teach? History! Yeaaaa! You are always dead on with true facts and wonderful story telling. I cant wait to tell stories to young hungry minds. Great read, as always!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Augie. I think you will amaze yourself when you start to teach. And your students will feel the same way. As far as history goes, there is nomore fascinating subject. Good luck on your pursuit.

    • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

      Keep this up Kerry!

    • I really ought to go back and read the others before I start this one… if only I had a reminder… my strange Dory-like memory makes it hard to follow up with it!

      Good piece, even though I only have part of the story, lol.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Jay, high praise coming from you. Here are the other parts:
        1. Wrong bathroom prompt
        2. Where does the tunnel go.
        3.Captain off deck
        4. PUNch out

    • Observer Tim says:

      This continues to excel, Kerry. Of course, just back from being at sea I’m reading out of order. Now I have to find out how we got from there to here last week.

      Keep up the good work!

    • Man…. this is the good stuff here. I am, safe to say, enthralled. You portray history with startling realism, focusing on fallible characters stuck in the middle of national crises. Write on!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you BB, it’s nice to have a cheering squad when you’re writing chapter to chapter. I’m trying not to lose the tension and the time period. [1943]. War was so vastly different then. And I want to make sure everybody that reads this, is aware of the times.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I really look forward to each new installment Kerry. You’re onto a winner here.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you sjmca1966. It’s funny you mention looking forward. So do I, as each chapter unfolds, I’m as surprised as a reader is, where this is going. I concentrate only on the chapter I’m writing. See you at part six.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry, I said it when you were doing the Copper Scrolls and I will say it again here. You are amazing. Every time I think I know where it is going and that it can’t get any better you change gears and leave me back in the land of wonder on both counts. This continues to be something I look forward to every week.

    • jmcody says:

      Hey there, Kerry! I have been AWOL, but I’m happy to see Tom and Nancy and Delores are still at it. I am just loving this series, even more than the Copper Scroll, as enthralling as that was. There’s something about this time period that seems like the perfect antidote to the times that we are living in. People seemed much more… purposeful, disciplined and even more humble back then. Maybe it was the combined effect of being in the midst of the biggest war the world had ever seen, and having just come off of some seriously hard times. But I guess that’s why we call them the Greatest Generation. I am hungry for a story like this, and I’m betting I’m not the only one. Keep going!

      • jmcody says:

        Also, I did not know what a Mae West is, but I think it may be self explanatory. I love all these little historical flourishes!

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          Thank you jm. I will keep it up and am working on part six. It isn’t easy to write harsh reality and then mix time travel and a love story with it, but I’m giving it a shot. I don’t want to veer to much one way and the reality is the scene setter, not the real story.

          I need to keep reminding myself of that. I also appreciate all the support. Writing is a one man, lonely business and the forum gives me the boost to keep going.

  51. usedname says:

    This is not what you expect when you die, at least it’s not what I had expected. To end up in an enclosed room ,that smells a little bit like grandma’s house minus the fresh baked cookies. This room was by no means small but cramped, filled with a variety of people all ages and sizes, sitting blankly in front of screens.

    I sat down automatically on the smooth white tiled floor and a screen of my own appeared. With no obvious sign of origination it floated without any supporting strings or wires.

    It was strange, I knew I had died, but I couldn’t bring myself to remember any details about it. Maybe it was so horrendous I mentally blocked it. Or maybe someone up there just decided to screw with me. Or is it just here? Is this heaven? Wow, my expectations are all ruined.

    No, wait- Actually, the strangest part was ,perhaps ,my blatant lack of clothing. I suppose you die the same way you’re born, in a birthday suit.” Ugh, I can see all the folds in that guy’s back.”Some suits more worn than others.

    I got over my new nudist community pretty quickly as I noticed the screen before me, come to life. It flitted with images of my life and oddly enough my parents’ and grandparents’ and some people I had never even seen before. I felt myself being drawn more and more into it as my life flashed before my eyes. My mouth became so dry and I instantly craved water. “i wish there was something to drink here.” I murmured under my breath, my eyes never leaving the screen.

    “Hey.”

    “Hey, you new here!” I spun around quickly as a hand descended on my shoulder. It was a man beside me, I had never noticed him. He was in about his mid fifties, but he still held some boyish charm in his crooked smile.”Me too. I’m Keith”

    “John.”

    “Take one, ” said a stewardess dressed in a white flowing dress. Her face remained hidden by the halo of light above her head. She held in her arms a tray filled with ornate crystal glasses.

    “Thank you-” I barely uttered overcome with thirst. John gripped my arm shirking the glass from my lips.

    “Hold on there sport, ” he said, his eyes filled with sadness. ” Let’s cheer first.”

    “You got one too?” I said marveling at the sparkling liquid in his glass.

    “I’d got mine ‘fore. But I ain’t in no rush to drink it, ” he paused and smiled,”Never thought I’d go like this.”

    “You remember how you died-” I asked too late. He had already drunk the whole of the glass. He kneeled over as two transparent arms reached out of his back. Then the rest of his transparent form tumbled out his body. His spirit floated upwards with wide, majestic wings through the ceiling.

    “Wow,” I too quickly downed my drink in one go. I shut my eyes, waiting to fly up and join with him in the great unknown.

    When i opened them, i found myself very far from heaven. Loud sirens blared and the air was filled with smoke and fire. I sat up, thick blood soaked bandages rapt around my head. Despite the officer’s demands to stay still and wait for first responders, i still reached out. I reached out to the man they lowered into the body bag. I reached out as they hauled him from the smoldering car crushed under the collapsed wall of a building.

    “That man-” i stuttered my tongue thick in my mouth.

    “Yes,” the officer started as he forced me back to the ground,”Keith Noel, he pushed you out of the way o’ that car.”

    “W-what are you saying?” I asked desperately clutching onto his shirt.

    “That man just saved your life, sir.”

  52. Monsters Beget Monsters

    The summer melted the day into a warm malleable evening, which bled into Harvey’s den making it sticky and humid. The stench of the amalgam he created from the recipe he found on the darkest edge of the internet was sour, not quite rotten eggs and not quite rotten onions but a not-so-lovely average of the two.

    A cup, three-quarters full of the nasty brew, stood upon the wood table in front of him. The black liquid had a slight purple tint and a thick head of yellow foam. It could’ve been the bastard of a failed Kool-Aid experiment, only it smelled too horrible and probably tasted just as awful.

    He took a deep breath and thought about all the reasons he had gone sour. Two weeks prior, a drunk driver ran down his wife and son as they walked home from the nearby fair. Heather died on impact when the vehicle crushed the upper part of her body against a tree. Charlie, however, had been thrown twenty-seven feet from the accident. He fought long and hard in the hospital, barely waking long enough to ask for his mother’s comforting embrace, which the driver effectively denied until the poor boy’s final breath.

    It was obvious the driver drank far too much, but in an odd act of disservice to the community—one judge’s swore to protect without bias—the courts freed the man with only a warning and an exorbitant fine. Apparently, the judge felt that because the driver had grown up in a rich family and therefore didn’t have the same street education as someone who might otherwise be somehow more exposed to wrongdoings, he wasn’t technically at fault for the things he’d done. Three days after his son died, the murderer walked.

    That’s what they all are when they drink, drive, and kill someone, he thought. The rich, the poor, the weak, the strong, and anyone else. The monster comes in all shapes, sizes, and religious beliefs. What do they get for their crimes? Prison for a couple years? To walk? No!

    “No!” He screamed through clenched teeth as spit shot between them.

    Harvey’s hands gripped the side of the table, his arms flexed and thick veins slithered just below his tight skin. Anger seethed from his eyes, raining his madness upon the surface below. He couldn’t let them get away with murder. He just couldn’t.

    He snatched up the glass, and some of the contents spilled over onto his hand and the table. The fluid stung his skin as he placed the cup against his lips. From there, he chugged. Three large gulps and the brew disappeared with a searing burn down his throat. Deep inside it went to ferment and create the thing he could use to make them pay. Whatever the result might be, he was ready.

    A sharp piercing pain grew in his stomach, and trailed back up his esophagus. He retched once, twice, and then vomited the brew onto the table. Some of it managed to catch in the cup. He retched and heaved until nothing but traces of yellow acid drooled from his lips.

    Suddenly, the skin at his side, near his abdomen, and just below his ribs began to hurt. He quickly reached back, and felt something wet. When he looked down at his shirtless body, a claw pushed its way through his skin. He threw his hand over it, and could feel himself clawing out as if whatever grew inside him was now a part of his consciousness. As a razor-sharp claw escaped his body, another began at the other side. He fell to the ground, writhing and screaming in pain.

    From his back, black slick flaps of skin shot out and a spray of fluid speckled the hardwood floor. Bones snaked through them until the flaps formed bloody wings, and when the bone reached the end, they pierced through the skin resulting in sharp, wicked points. He turned over and coughed, and several of his teeth blasted out of his mouth and spun across the floor. Blood pooled next to the teeth, and his hands trembled as he reached up to touch his gums, but instead found that sharp jagged fangs replaced his teeth. He flipped over once more, and clawed at his chest. His skin burned, as if someone had doused him with fuel and lit him ablaze. He scratched and clawed, and finally dug his fingers under his skin and ripped away his flesh, which revealed a scale-like armor.

    All he could do was utter a soft cry as he continued to transform, and when the pain stopped, he used the table to climb back to his feet. He lumbered to a mirror and looked upon a monster. From the inky-black wings and the sharp teeth to the extra arms and the new exoskeleton, he was not himself. Yet, he was himself. Nothing had changed between his mind and soul. He felt stronger and moved faster, sure, but he tasted the same thing in his mouth that he’d tasted long before he ever transformed: the blood of those that wrong the world.

    • Cceynowa says:

      Oh my. How very dark and delightful. Excellent work.

    • Augie says:

      Jay, I have always admired your writing abilities. Great story once again.

    • seliz says:

      I loved the gritty, darkness of this piece. Your descriptions were great, particularly the descriptions of the transformation. Nicely done.

    • snuzcook says:

      Unleashed! Awesome descriptions, touching justifications. Are we witnessing the birth of a new avenger-type monster-hero?

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wow. I love the transformation sequence, Jay. I could see it in my mind and feel the tortured soul of the protagonist. In this case, more “agonist” than “pro”. I could almost pity his future victim, if I were willing to suppress my sense of justice.

    • jhowe says:

      Revenge is near. Well told tale with lots of action and suspense. You ably showed us how painful transformation can be. Nice.

    • Reaper says:

      Jay your horrific descriptions are always spot on and affecting. What struck me here was how quick and hard you hit me with the sorrow. Your opening had me tearing up and with the MC in his agony especially as the boy was denied his final request. Then you slipped into this perfect horror story that mirrored Batman and the Punisher in a supernatural way. That madness, that connection and obsession is perfect. I have no sympathy for his first victims but I do have sympathy for your MC as he is on a path that will never bring him peace but drive him darker into being a monster he wanted to fight. I got all of that in this short space and it was amazing. I also loved that he found the recipe on a dark corner of the internet.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      This prompt was screaming out for classic Jay and ended up delivering way more. The back story and build up were perfect. The transformation was so well done.
      Brilliant!

    • Matthew says:

      This is great Jay. My first time reading a response from you. You had me captivated from the very beginning to even after the story ended. That transformation was so painful. I was so in the story I felt like it was happening to me. Agonizing pain, great descriptions, right justifications. I want more.

    • jmcody says:

      My thoughts were similar to Seliz’s — Your description of the transformation was particularly vivid and visceral. I also agree with sjmca that you raised the bar on this one. You went beyond the usual horror and accessed a much fuller range human emotions. Very well done.

  53. Pete says:

    “It’s a pig.”

    “It ain’t no pig, Willie, its got, wings….or something…”

    “Well it ain’t no bird.”

    Shielding the relentless evening sun from my eyes, I could have told both squinting Willie and Mr. Herndon that it wasn’t a bird. It was Dana Moyers, crouched in a cross bar section of the Daleville water tank. But now the crowd was growing by the second, as the county fair had been abandoned to see the flying pig sitting up on the water tower.

    I turned away when she squealed. It served her right, the way she walked around in her tiny little cheerleading skirt, laughing and giggling with Paul Mays, who was probably sleeping off the numbness on his brain from having to lend an ear to her blathering.

    Walking against the current of onlookers, I adjusted my apron and shuffled clear away from the crowd and over to the concessions, grabbing a double order of funnel cake and sitting on the picnic table where I still had a good view of Princess-Dana-turned-prize-pig.

    It was hard, because I wanted to smile like a goat in a briar patch. I didn’t even feel a smidge of regret, especially after she’d made that “Flabby Gabby” remark at the Tastee Freeze.

    That had been it. I decided then and there that I was through crying. I’d been fighting with one arm tied behind my back and now it was time to unleash a little bit of force, all in the form of a free milkshake from the concession stand.

    Genetics, I guess. Well that and an ancient family book and vials. But Mom would kill me if she’d known what I’d done, and now that the whole town was gathering around the water tower I was getting a little worried. Because Princess Dana still had nearly an hour until nightfall.

    Finishing off funnel cake number one I heard the sirens, followed by the blaring horns of the trucks. The crowd scattered to make a path, as Daleville’s lone fire truck barreled onto the scene, adding a hint of diesel to the bouquet of smells swirling over the fairgrounds. Mr. Beckman hopped down from the truck, looking happier than a tornado in a trailer park as he tossed a quick wave to the bystanders.

    I stood up, taking a delicious, grease bursting bite of funnel cake number two when I felt her hand on my shoulder.

    “Mom?”

    “Gabby,” she said, in that serious tone like she used when I used to turn Max into an elf. “What have we talked about?”

    Denying the freakshow job I’d put on Dana was about as useless as a pogo stick in quicksand. My shoulders fell and I looked away, shaking my head at God and genetics and fairness.

    “I couldn’t help it Mom, she’s so…mean. She’s always calling me names and the whole school thinks she’s perfect.”

    “And Paul?” Mom said softly rubbing my back. The ladder was nearly at the cross section. Mother rubbed my back. I could only nod my head. “How many times to I have to tell you it’s what’s on the inside that counts.”

    “But that IS her inside,” I said, but when I turned around Mr. Beckman was helping Dana,–blonde Dana, all long and golden legged and perfect— down the ladder. The crowd started cheering. The news people snapped pictures. She was Dana again, already. I must have miscalculated. I chomped on the funnel cake.

    “Let’s get you home sweetie,” Mom said, setting the funnel cake down and inching me away from the crowd. That’s when I came face to face with Paul, out of breath and perfect.

    “Gabby, hey,” he said, looking to the commotion but then back to me. Right into my eyes even. “You look…different.”

    “Thanks,” I said, as Mom tugged me away.

    “I’ll see you at school,” he stammered and I felt Mom give my shoulder a squeeze. Then she gave me a quick double take. “Did you have a little drink yourself?”

    “Funnel cake.”

    • Haha, that last line made it for me. I thought her mom was dull up until she insinuated her daughter was chubby, and the MCs reply is priceless. “Funnel Cake.”

      Thanks for the entertaining read, Mr. Pete!

    • Cceynowa says:

      Funnel cake makes everything better, no doubt. Very entertaining read. Thanks for sharing!

    • usedname says:

      It feels like this is part of a novel, very good writing.

    • Augie says:

      HA, HA! Very good story. Love the funnel cake! Thanks for the smile.

    • snuzcook says:

      Very cute! I agree that this could be a part of a very enjoyable novel or collection. I like your similes, and the very small-town feel of this piece. What lurks behind closed doors–and cupboards.
      Well done.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is fantastic, Pete. I love the way you brought Gabby’s distinct voice as narrator in and provided clear descriptions of all parties involved without actually saying anything. It’s a wonderful, subtle tale of (witchcraft? mad science?) that held me in its grip from start to finish.

    • jhowe says:

      “Gabby, what have we talked about?” Loved that exchange between mother and daughter. Sometimes witchcraft works out ok. Well done.

    • Reaper says:

      You know I keep reading the last line and haven’t settled on which interpretation of the end I like most. It is nicely open and yet completely finished. I had images of the Circe witch because of the references to beauty, pigs, and a family book of magic. Nicely done.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      I enjoyed this the first time I read it. Loved it even more after I wiki-ed Funnel Cake and read it again.
      Well done Pete.

    • jmcody says:

      This was such a well fleshed out scene, with the small town carnival atmosphere complete with funnel cake and milkshakes, the teenage angst at not fitting in or measuring up, and the twisted solution (witchcraft?) in the middle of all this banality. Very, very well crafted and written. Kudos!

  54. Cceynowa says:

    blood•suck•er
    noun \-ˌsə-kər\

    At Holden Legal Company there are three unwritten, though widely accepted, rules regarding the company’s annual Christmas party. These rules were given to me in confidence when I mentioned that I would not be attending. I had been hired less than a month prior and my shy nature rebelled at the thought. Pam, my immediate supervisor, kindly explained that:

    1. Employees aren’t exactly obliged to go (for instance if you had a wreck on the way to the party) but making an attempt counts for something.
    2. Attending the holiday party guarantees an audience with the Big Boss. Holden will speak with every employee in attendance. Dress appropriately.
    3. Those who made a good impression at the party are always on the top of the Spring Promotion list, so, unless I wanted to be sorting mail forever, I needed to attend.

    Yielding to her three years’ experience in the mail room, I dutifully dressed in my best, applied ample make up, and made the extreme effort to keep a curl in my hair. On Friday night, I entered the Twin Oaks Community Event Center. Mr. Holden’s assistant met me at the door, offered me to check my coat, and directed me to the back conferencing area where the party was being catered.

    I was uneasy. Fresh out of college, and seeing my usually prim colleagues dressed in party attire was disconcerting to me. Pam found me and helped me blend in by offering me a clear plastic cup filled with a golden liquid.

    “What is this,” I asked.

    “The Boss’s favorite. We drink it at every party. Be warned, it is pretty strong stuff, so go easy…” She hesitated, pausing as if she wanted to say more, “Just go with the flow and you’ll be fine.”

    She disappeared into the crowd, leaving me alone again. For lack of anything better to do, I drank. The liquid was sweet and left a tingling aftertaste on my tongue. I could feel the sensation in my abdomen as well. Glancing down I was startled, but surprisingly not concerned, to see an extremely long and hairy mosquito leg sticking out of my stomach.

    I scanned the room for Pam, hoping to share this discovery with someone, and saw many more legs, plus veined wings, antennas, and more than one proboscis. I took another drink. The tingling continued. I could feel my back splitting. Overall I felt rather nice, but my drink was now empty. I went in search of the refreshment table and found Mr. Holden instead. He looked completely normal.

    “Miss Jean, is it,” he asked.

    “Yes sir,” I had the urge to giggle.

    “You haven’t been with the company long have you?”

    “No sir. I started after Thanksgiving.”

    “Indeed. Well, I am pleased to have you on board,” he was looking around, obviously bored with me.

    Pam’s warning surged to the front of my buzzing brain. I needed to make a better impression.

    “I know this is probably not the best time to ask,” I said, “but have you thought about adding a document solution software to cope with the increased flux of mailings from the recent merger?”

    He refocused on me. Smiling was surprisingly easy considering my elongated lips. “No. What kind of software?”

    My wings hummed merrily as I described in detail Pam’s recent proposal she had given me to proofread. The next morning I felt wretched, but, when spring came, my name was at the top of the Promotion List.

  55. WritingKittenOfLoki says:

    Okay, this is my fist time using html’s bold and italics, so let’s see if it works. And this is actually 707 words.

    Writing Help

    You type away at your keyboard hoping to get something good out of this latest writing prompt.

    “I used to think that nothing could get me drunk, but when I saw the extra arm protruding out of my chest, I knew I had finally found something strong enough to mess with my brain.” You write quickly, but stop with a frown.

    “No, that wouldn’t work…” You backspace all the way, then start again:

    “The pain was strong, as Alan felt the lump in his chest grow…”

    “Better? But still bad,”

    The doorbell rings, and you hesitate before rising and stalking towards the door. You peek out the peephole and see a delivery man in a red and green uniform, looking very much like a jolly elf.

    “Strange,” You think. You had ordered Chinese, not a Christmas present.

    You slowly open the door, to see a young, smiling face. He holds out a small package, and a clipboard with a sheet of salmon colored paper.

    “Sigh here please,” He bows, causing the bells on his pointed hat to giggle.

    You search your favorite, many pocketed, vest in search of a pen.

    “Oh!” he exclaims and pulls a sparkling blue feather pen out from behind his ear, “Soorry,” he apologizes as he passes you the pen.

    You nod in acknowledgement, without fully knowing why, and sign your name in the proper place.

    “Have a lovely day,” he says, grinning even more, and he begins to trot away.

    “Wait,” you call, “you’re forgetting something aren’t you?”

    He turns and jogs back to you, “Oh, my, yes. I would be in a large pickle if I forgot to bring these back,”

    “Are you in the habit of forgetting things?” you ask. Handing the clipboard, paper, and pen, to the thin, funny boy.

    “Oh, my, yes. Very much so. It’s a quirk in my character,” his eyes twinkle, and he twirls down towards the street, “oh, and be sure to read the manual,” he shouts over his shoulder.

    ”A charming, endearing, amiable, curious, enchanting, and altogether delightful fellow,” you say to yourself, as you smile at the rapidly vanishing figure. You go back inside, locking the door tightly behind you—as such is your custom—and amble back to your desk.

    You extract a large, sharp, gold painted knife, out of the secret compartment in the middle left-hand drawer, and split the tape on the camo cardboard box; inside, encased in bubble-wrap, is a wine bottle, labeled: “Describing Pain; Feel It, And Then Make Better Word Choices”. Underneath it sits a manual, titled: How To Use “Describing Pain…” And What To Expect.

    “Instructions.” you read aloud. “Step one (optional), remove bottle from bubble wrap.” You do so, and read further. No more steps revealed themselves, so you read the next heading. “What To Expect: We don’t really know just what will happen, since we don’t know your story, however, no matter what, YOU WILL NOT DIE. You will just feel the pain you are trying to explain, (haha it rhymes!) and then better word choices will come to your mind. Only consume three ounces – for best results (we like to use medicine syringes!) Have fun!

    “Must be a prank from one of the other writers. Very funny.” You say, not feeling humored at all.

    You set the bottle on your desk and begin typing: “the lump grew further and began forming an arm, right in the middle of his chest…”

    “No. That sounds amateur.”

    You glance at the bottle; it’s cherry red liquid, looks so appealing.

    You sigh, grab the bottle, and waltz to the kitchen, where you pluck up the medicine syringe – that has been in your utensil drawer for quite some time and you don’t know why – and fill it with three ounces of the bright gleaming drink.

    “Here goes nothing,”

    But it wasn’t nothing that speedily produced a third and forth arm out of your chest. You collapse onto the hard tile floor and the promised words commence to saturate your mind.

    Throbbing, excruciating, agonizing, burning, piercing, sharp, unbearable, acute, razor-sharp, jagged.

    You crawl en route for your desk and the additional limbs slowly shrink into oblivion. You stagger to your feet and into your chair. You take several deep breaths and place your fingers to the keys.

    • Cceynowa says:

      I didn’t think I would be able to enjoy the second person, but you pulled me into the story and I loved it! A great use of the prompt, and well worth a few extra words.

    • jhowe says:

      I enjoyed all 707 words and would read 1000 more if they were here. You did this well. Very cool.

    • I really dislike second person, but your story made it bearable! Very unique… now if I could only get my hands on some of that stuff to expand my vocabulary!

      Thanks, Kitten… gonna go read it again. :)

    • Augie says:

      This is good writing! I was completely stumped by this prompt and anxiously waited for the first brave person to post. You delivered! Great job!

      • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

        Thank you so much, Augie, Jay, and jhowe! I get positively jubilant when people like what I do. :)
        I was stumped by the last few prompts and was quite happy that I had ideas for this one.
        I must admit that I used a thesaurus for rapidity’s sake.
        I am considering running with this – especially since I like my delivery elf. :)

    • lionetravail says:

      Very interesting and brave to try.. and to make it work :) Nice take!

    • snuzcook says:

      You really created such a unique world, Kitten! The story premise itself showed an incredible degree of imagination and it was well written, but the context in which you set it was incredible. It had such a … lilting quality, and invited the reader to suspend playfully all logic and go along for the ride. I am fascinated. Eager to read more.

    • Reaper says:

      Ah Kitten, I see you got the bottle we sent you! I was going to say I stopped reading at exactly five hundred words but to be honest there is no way I could have if I tried. I liked the second person for this though it is difficult to pull off. You have a tense shift in the middle of your instructions paragraph but that was the only thing I caught. Wonderful writing, I was wondering when we would see more from you, glad you’re back in on this one.

      • WritingKittenOfLoki says:

        Aha! I was wondering just who sent the bottle! :D
        It’s good to be back!
        I read this countless times, both before and after posting to look for such an error! Ah me… incorrect tense is the curse that tries to plague me… that and mispronouncing words because I’ve never heard them said.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is strange and wonderful, WritingKittenOfLoki. Like others, I am thrown by the second person voice, but it works. If only we could get a drinkable thesaurus!

      My red pencil says it should be commence saturating in the third-last paragraph. Or you might consider dropping commence to since saturate is a strong enough word to stand on its own.

    • sjmca1966 says:

      This was a quirky little number from you WritingKittenOfLoki. I found the POV quite refreshing. A well written take on the prompt.

    • jmcody says:

      Hello, Kitten! This was “charming, endearing, amiable, curious, enchanting, and altogether delightful.” I loved that you used the second person. I thought it enhanced the quirkiness and enchantment of the piece. This was so creative and I loved it.

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