Books and Characters

Write a story that begins with the title of the book you’ve most recently read and ends with the name of your favorite character that you’ve written.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

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177 thoughts on “Books and Characters

  1. BaitedBreath

    The arctic incident. That’s what they were calling it. Not first contact. I suppose the ship we found frozen in the ice meant that it really WASN’T first contact at all. If we were reading this right, this ship had been in the ice for nearly five million years. That means at best this was second, or even fiftieth contact.
    This discovery had basically guaranteed us Nobel Prizes. It was a total game changer in the scientific community. Magnetic North was off center from the physical North Pole for a reason. That is because this ship WAS Magnetic North, and if THAT was true, then there was a similar ship at Magnetic South!
    “You realize this is a nail in the coffin of everything we previously thought, right?” I shouted over the buzz of saws cutting away the surrounding ice. “Even Evolution! We can consider it completely defunct now!”
    “I, eh, I don’t quite follow,” Dr. Stattler, my research partner, said.
    “Think about it!” I exclaimed. “Two extraterrestrial ships, forming magnetic North and South, possibly even using the earth itself to amplify the magnetic field. The magnetic field blocks harmful radiation, allowing life to form. That is completely bulletproof evidence of terraforming!”
    The crew was almost done clearing what looked to be a hatch. In a matter of minutes, we would be the first people in five million years to step aboard an alien vessel. My inner child was giddy with delight.
    Once the ice was cleared, the hatch responded to the lightest touch.
    “Astounding,” I said. “Millions of years later and buried in ice, and it is as if it was oiled yesterday.”
    Breath crystals created swirls and eddies in the prehistoric air. The interior of the ship was actually still lit by emergency lights! I gave Dr. Stattler an ecstatic glance. They would have to invent a whole new award just for us. Even the Nobel Prize was not BIG enough for the scientific importance of this discovery!
    Deeper into the craft we went, searching for a control room of some kind. The walls were covered in what seemed to me to be a hieroglyphic language.
    “Look!” I pointed to a stylized hand on a corner of the wall. “That symbol is identical to the one on the Kish Tablet! Whoever these people were, they influenced our very earliest forms of writing!”
    About to burst with glee, I gave the pictogram a high five.
    In an instant the lights turned on. Pictograms glowed, sensors warbled, and a deep, reverberating hum permeated the air as what I can only assume was the main drive kicked in.
    Then the voice. Seemingly feminine, and coming from everywhere at once. It uttered naught but a single word. A singular question, or perhaps a name.
    “Vespin?”

  2. Vampire1025

    “Curtsies and Conspiraces? Is it about curtsting while making a consipiracy?” He asked, mocking the book that she was reading.
    “No, it’s the second book in the ‘Finishing School’ series. The first one is called ‘Ettiqutte and Espionage’. Honestly, the books are amazing.” She said. She placed her book down and looked up at him as he sat across from her.
    “Care to explain what it’s about?”
    “The books take place in the Steampunk version of the Vitcorian era. A wonderful era if you ask me. The main character is taken to a finishing school called ‘Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finnishing School For Young Ladies Of Quality’. I wish I could go to that school.”
    “You know, you should really stop talking.” He said.
    “You were the one who asked what the book was about, Jace.”
    “Too bad, I don’t care anymore. Anyway, you are going on a date with me tonight. I’ll see you at the park at six.” Jace said. He got up and started to walk away. “Oh, and Ro, don’t bring a book with you.”
    Jace walked away as Ro sat in silence staring at his retreating form.
    She couldn’t understand why Jace, of all people, would want to go on a date with her. She’s pretty, yes, but Jace never liked Ro. He always teased the crap out of her. Especially when she started dying her hair a bright red. She never understood why he was always like this around her.

    ********************************************************************************************************************

    Ro was sitting at the park waiting for Jace to show up. She didn’t bring a book with her, but she did bring a notebook instead. So, technically she listened to Jace, but also didn’t.
    As Ro sat writing some random story down, Jace approched her. He was dressed in his typical black skinny jeans, and combat boots. But instead of a band shirt, he was wearing a nice dark red plaid button down. When he saw Ro hunched over her notebook, he notice how she was dressed.
    She was wearing a pair of black skinny jeans, a black band shirt, combat boots, and a black beanie. Jace noticed the beanie first, because of the contrast with her hair. The black on the red was very noticble, especially when the red is super bright.
    “Ro, what did I tell you about bringing a book?” Jace asked as he sat next to her. He leaned back and had his arms on the back of the bench.
    “I didn’t bring a book, I brought a notebook. There’s a difference.” She said.
    “You’re so weird.”
    “Whatever. Why am I here?”
    “To be on a date with me. Why else?”
    “Jace, you hate me.”
    “No I don’t. I love you, Rosella.”
    “And, I hate you Jace.”

  3. BookwormTunnel

    ” This star won’t go out,” Madeleine said softly to Bentley, ” Audrey will never be forgotten.” It wasn’t fair. A teenaged girl wasn’t supposed to bury her 6 year old sister. ” It should’ve been me.” It was after the funeral service and Madeleine sat, dressed in black, in her home, sinking into the couch. Her best friend, Bentley, sat besides her. ” No it shouldnt’ve. Audrey’s illness wasn’t your fault.”
    That triggered something dark.
    A memory.
    Audrey.
    Dead.
    Gone.
    Sinking
    down
    down
    down
    into the dark pit of the ground,
    trapped in a box
    locked
    away.
    It was too hard for Madeleine to handle.
    And she withdrew from the world.
    Running from Bentley, hiding in her bedroom, locking the door. Like Audrey was locked in a box.
    Crack. Bang.
    Her life fell apart.
    Audrey shouldn’t have gotten sick.
    ” It should’ve been me,” Madeleine whispered again, ” Never Audrey.”

  4. NOPE

    The Summer Wind swirled around her; it was comforting, like the embrace of an old friend. With a sigh, Kate set her book down next to her bottle of water on the blanket and leaned back against her favorite tree. Staring out across the dry field with its yellow patches in the areas that were in the sun for most of the day, she tried not to think.

    To actively not think is complicated. One cannot even think about not thinking or they are doing it wrong. Even if the only thought in a person’s head is ‘stop thinking’, the mind is still active.

    She wasn’t sure how long she sat there trying not to think. At first she had to actively fight back the memories of the recent events that haunted her. Soon though, even ‘stop thinking’ faded from her consciousness.

    It was the shapes of the clouds that brought her back. First she was blissfully sitting beneath the tree enjoying the simplicity of the sun, and the breeze, and existence. Then her mind awoke.

    ‘That cloud looks like a pair of rabbits mating,’ the thought was quiet, as though far from the surface, like she wasn’t actually in control of it. For a while after that she was content to remain in her position, squinting as she gave slightly more attention to the shapes and the movements of the clouds. The pair of rabbits became a racecar. The racecar became a popular fast food logo.

    ‘I wish-’ the thought was front and center, and she didn’t want to allow herself to finish it. It finished itself anyway, though as a faint whisper in the back of her mind.

    She sat with her back against the old tree and her arms wrapped around her knees as a big gust of wind jostled the leaves and blew her hair into her face.

    ‘Now my back is starting to hurt.’

    ‘This position is uncomfortable.’

    ‘I need to fix my hair.’

    The moment was over.

  5. cosi van tutte

    Pelin showed up in the Letter to the Author prompt and Reatha had asked when I’d let you guys meet him. So, ta-da! Here he is. 😀 He and Prince Daniel are from one of my off-line stories. And this is them just having a quiet moment.

    I kind of cheated. 😆 The book “Navigating Torrid Seas…” is totally made up.

    *****

    “Navigating Torrid Seas: The Art of Tactful Negotiation.” Prince Daniel flipped through the tome, hoping to find a light, comic tone. He found dry words, thickly stacked paragraphs, and deep, deep boredom.

    His bodyguard, Pelin Corean, noticed his bleaked-out expression. “Maybe it won’t be so bad, Your Majesty.”

    “How can you say that? Have you even read this block of tedium?”

    “No, I haven’t, Your Majesty.” He smiled. “I trust that it’s as bad as you say.”

    “Oh, it’s horrid. This class is going to make me die!”

    Pelin laughed, only to look apologetic afterwards. “I’m sorry. Maybe your tutor will find a way to liven up the material and spark your interest in it.”

    “I highly doubt it. He’d have to bring in a completely different book.”

    “Still, you have to hope for the best.”

    A short, scrawny man dressed in severe black and a pinched expression entered the room. He carried a stack of books over to the teacher’s desk and set them all down.

    Prince Daniel looked at his bodyguard. “Please don’t tell me.”

    The man rearranged the books into his idea of order and sat in the teacher’s seat. “Good morning, Your Majesty.” His voice was a soul-draining monotone. “I am Reginald Franorth, your new tutor.”

    The Prince slouched. “I am going to die, Pelin.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Hello, Pelin.

      You’ve brought out a lovely servant/master dynamic here, Cosi, the closest I think that a prince can likely have in real life. It’s too bad the book is so horrid, as diplomacy is one of those qualities that stand between a ruler and a war, or between a prince and a shiv in the dark. If that’s what they’re learning from, Pelin has real job security. 🙂

      As a side note, this made me think about Euclid’s adage. Contrary to what he said, there is a royal road to learning: it’s every bit as treacherous and muddy as the commoners’ road, but you’re surrounded by people more interested in teaching the crown than the person who wears it.

      1. cosi van tutte

        Thanks, OT!

        Just so you know, I really like this -> “…diplomacy is one of those qualities that stand between a ruler and a war, or between a prince and a shiv in the dark.” I might have to steal it for my story. 🙂

    2. JosephFazzone

      The relationship between the Prince and Pelin is quick to relate to that it’s amazing! You immediately feel a genuine brotherhood between them. You made something as simple as a prince about to get his school into something to enjoy laugh at, and then look forward to reading more. Great job, man!!!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Amazing pace you set from the first words that you wrote. It doesn’t slow down until the last sentence is read and the reader says…. “Where is the rest of it?” Marvelous job Cosi, thumbs up.

  6. Kerry Charlton

    WUTHERING HEIGHTS

    “Wuthering Heights”

    “So that’s what the fuss is all about, an old book and how much did you pay for it, Jeremy?”

    “Twelve.”

    “Twelve what?”

    “Twelve thousand, Elizabeth.”

    “You better be joshing me, an old ragged book.”

    “Not an old book, a first edition, dating to 1847.”

    “So what, it’s still an old book.”

    “Where is your brain dumb ass? Look at the signature on the cover page.”

    “’Emily Bronte‘,” so what, who is she?.”

    “Damn Elizabeth, you have the mind of a wart hog.”

    “I thought you said that’s why you married me.”

    “I lied, it was your old man’s twelve gage.”

    “I can’t believe I let you in my pants, your pecker’s the size of my thumb.”

    “Ask Marilyn across the street, she doesn’t think so.”

    “You are disgusting you know. How do you like the salad I made you?”

    “Not bad, it’s kind of crunchy though.”

    “It should be, it’s full of glass shreds.”

    ‘Thank you for waiting ’till I was finished with it. How’s your ice tea?”

    “I was going to ask you about that. Why is it so cloudy?

    “Arsenic usually makes tea cloud up. If you had a brain, you’d eat it.”

    “Did you really poison me, Jeremy?”

    “Do you think I’d really do that to you? What about the glass in the salad? I’m surprised Elizabeth“

    “ It’s only baked coconut shreds. “Why, you said you hated me.”

    “ That after you melted my bowling ball in the oven. How would you feel?”

    “About the same when you Mohawk’ed me while I was sleeping.”

    “Is that lust I see in your eyes Elizabeth? Would you like me slap your face?”

    “Oh would you please?”

    “Don’t be ridiculous, would you like to look for my house keys, right pocket.”

    “It’s not the keys I feel it’s Willie Winkle, he all upset.”

    ‘Oh is he now? Lock the front door Elizabeth. I wanna ’you know’”

    “Come a little closer a minute.”

    “Damn it Elizabeth, did you have to hit me so hard? You knocked a tooth loose.”

    “What about Marilyn across the street?”

    “Forget about her, she‘d rather have you then me.“ .

    . “ I already knew that. Now take me, even if you’re not Lawrence Oliver.”

    “Who’s talking, what makes you think you’re Merle Oberon?”

    “To me you’ll always be Heathcliff. Now hit the sheets big boy”

    “I’m ready Merle. Please be gentle.”

    “Don’t count on it.”

    1. Observer Tim

      I can just see something like this happening among the mature folk (one step down from the elder folk and one step up from the wee folk). The twists and turns of the conversation left me not quite knowing whether to smile or cringe. Good to see a happy ending for Merle (you know). 🙂

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Kerry!

      I love the back in forth in this story, but especially in this part:

      “Do you think I’d really do that to you? What about the glass in the salad? I’m surprised Elizabeth“
      “ It’s only baked coconut shreds. “Why, you said you hated me.”
      “ That after you melted my bowling ball in the oven. How would you feel?”
      “About the same when you Mohawk’ed me while I was sleeping.”

      😀

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Cosi. Sometimes during a long marriage, good or bad, I think most of us make up conversations back and forth in our minds about our significant one, especially when we go into a childish funk. Okay, I admit I do, how about the rest of you?

    3. Reaper

      This is disturbingly good. To a level that I need brain bleach because, despite them not having this in them, my mind put this coming out of the mouths of my grandparents. While it is nasty and almost mean it is also comfortable and loving. So well done, and for you very, very dark.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Joseph, I started to think what would happen if a third party tried to intervene. They would have turned him/her into chopped liver! I was quite amused mysef by melting his bowling ball, even if I did write it.

  7. ShamelessHack

    To kill a mockingbird is no easy feat if you’re a worm.
    But I am a worm, and let me tell you, it’s no fun.
    I mean, what do I do all day? Go to work? Trade stocks? Take selfies?
    No. None of the above. It’s just dirt, dirt, and then some more dirt.
    (Kind of like the presidential primaries a little…)
    My wife is a slug. Literally. I love her as much as a worm can love another
    mushy subterranean life-form, and I think she loves me back. In her own way.

    All right, getting back to the mockingbird. It’s my mortal enemy, but you probably
    figured that out by now.
    But I have a plan. I alone of all the worms have the power, granted to me by the
    invertebrate god Can-Nah-Bis to rise up and defeat the bastard bird.
    The other worms have begun to rally around me and they have named me
    as their savior, as their last and final hope.
    From this moment on, to the final defeat of my bird enemy, I will be known as–
    BATWORM.

    (Don’t miss Shameless Hack’s new novel, “Batworm Rising” on Kindle Direct. It’s free because
    no one would bite at $2.99, or $1.99, or $0.99…in fact I’m having a hard time giving the damn thing away.)

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating excerpt/blurb, Hack. When will the complete novel come out (I tried KDP and it wasn’t there – maybe those bastards are hiding it from the search engine!)?

      I can just see a stoned mockingbird as a result of this… 🙂

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Hey Larry, I got news for Batworm, he better not try it. It’s just one more meal for the State bird of Texas. But it was a fun read, always enjoyed.

    2. JosephFazzone

      Look up in the sky! Oh wait, I mean Look down to the ground. Way down, no further…You see that rock? No the bigger one, yes that’s it. Now pick it up! Okay that’s him right by the earwig…It’s Batworm, well he’s sleeping, for in the middle of the day if he ventures out from his shelter he dries up like a potato in a fryer, and then his heroic days are over. Personally, I think he’s better off staying under the rock, he’s no match for the mockingbird, hell he’s no match for a hummingbird. Dananananana BATWORM!!

  8. Bushkill

    It hurt to cut this to 500. The nuance lost a little luster, imo. The intent and intensity is still there, though more of it will play through the mind of the reader as opposed to the pen of the author.

    The Earth Afire.

    Forests to the east glowed orange with it as he padded over the hilltop and down to the river. The smoke clung to his fur, toying with his sense of smell. The thought of the chaos around him drew his lips back in a snarl and, growling, he dipped his head to drink. The river’s roar drowned the sound of the flames and he let the water rush over his snout.

    On the opposite bank, something flashed. Caleb crouched, staring intently. He could see her in the the trees moving with ethereal ease. Every time he saw her he lost himself, doubly so as the wolf. He could scarcely control himself at all as the wolf.

    He rocked back from the river and lifted his head into the wind, uttering a single lonely cry. There was no echo. He shifted to human form. There was only her.

    She was always there.

    Images flashed through his mind. He knew she loved him, yet she sought sanctuary beyond his reach. Why would she hide?

    It had been four days since she had left him alone in the world to answer to the war god. He hadn’t wanted to return to Tysira. Caleb had hoped that love would shelter him from war and conflict. His grey hair fluttered in the wind again. He did not like the act of subjugation. It was a wolf thing.

    Movement on the far side of the river drew his eye and attention back to the present. From underneath the protective canopy of greenery stepped his reason for being here, his reason for being, if he were inclined to the dramatic.

    She was unparalleled beauty, exquisite. Her black hair fell like a waterfall about her ebony shoulders and flowed down her chest and over her back. The silk gown she wore was of pale blue and played marvelously against azure eyes. Her skin glistened in the mist of the river, splintering the moonlight.

    She looked at him, one hand on a tree branch the other curled around her midriff, “Hello, Caleb.”

    He smiled and bowed, always formal for her, “My lady. Why do you hide? Come to me.”

    “Dear one, I cannot. I am your equal, not your plaything. We are gods. Our kin kill each other and conspire to be mightier than the rest, but you and I have a different path. You and I have a higher purpose.”

    It was confusing. He didn’t understand her words, her meaning. Of course he respected her as a goddess. Couldn’t she see that he was protecting her from the rest of them? Was it so hard to let him be that for her? She turned.

    The light caught her differently and the meaning of the hand across her midriff changed. It was that of a mother protecting her unborn.

    That could not be! The gods had no children. The gods could have no children.

    She disappeared into her wood and he called after her, “Vo Ahn!”

    1. Observer Tim

      Fascinating bit of neo-Celtic mythology you’ve created here, Bushkill. Now you’ve got me wondering: if Vo Ahn is a goddess, is the child spontaneous? Or is the child a result of some secret tryst with another (e.g. the main character). The depth and symbolism of this cries out for expansion. Hint, hint. 🙂

      1. Bushkill

        Well, yes, the child is Caleb’s. Hopeful to self publish the rest of the story soon. Two edits done. Vo Ahn is a goddess and the main character of the novel. First novel I’ve put together so plenty of nerves to go around about the process. Thanks for commenting.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            This is beautifully written Bushkill. I was so drawn into it, I started watching it as a movie, not a book. Loved the description of Vo Ahn.

    2. Bushkill

      Thanks, Kerry. She’s my favorite character. The book, when I get it done, will describe so much more about her and her journey. Her struggle and her victories, too.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Bushkill!

      Wow. This was a wonderful story with great characters. I would gladly read more.

      The whole thing flowed so well I can’t even see where you cut anything out. 🙂

  9. Reaper

    A Transcendental Mediation

    The Awethology Dark… I held it in my hands, hushed reverence issued from my body until it surrounded me. In the placid plasma of my nether universe I allowed my mind to focus on things left unsaid and words undone. This book was a wonder, in more than one sense of the word.

    One wondered why this, of all books, survived the culling. The answer was the same as always. A dedicated fan base who squirreled it away. With other non-precious valuables. So it survived when the great works fed the flames.

    Despite all that, these stories gave me hope in my darkest hours.

    It is difficult to say if the book had any cultural value in the old world. In this new desolation, a place where people no longer had to desperately seek battles to fight, it was as good as the bible. Freedom, equality, thought and creativity. All these things echoed from the book.

    Perhaps that could be said of all tomes. I am sure everyone with a bit of tattooed, dead tree felt the same about theirs. It was, after all, why we hid them from the reclaimers. Those charged by our so called government with collecting all art of “worth” for homes of those with power and influence, and destruction of all the others. The subversive works were sought even harder than those most desired.

    We risked death, and worse, to keep our prizes safe. They could never undo the damage. Hell, they could not even act as a panacea for the plague of those ruling us. They were like Ritalin for our troubled minds though. They were all the same.

    But this one was mine.

    During the day it eased my fears. It reminded me that there were worse worlds, many of them in the past, even if only in the imaginations of others. It quelled the terror of the men and women seeking the very thing itself. In the darkened hours it cloaked me from the consuming silence. When evil edged into my mind and I waited for the sounds of more bombs dropping it stilled the voices inside. With louder voices and worse violence.

    I knew. I knew beyond a doubt. I must take this to him. It could help him even more than me. I must risk it all, as these writer’s had, and travel roads unknown. The man who might lead us out of darkness. The one who could teach us to overthrow those keeping us in cuffs and ignorance. I would take the first steps tomorrow and bring my book to him.

    Swift.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is lovely and very human, Reaper. I love the implied dystopia as well as the sense of hope that Swift brings to it. I also love the perspective on what books do for us. It seems complete in itself, but would also stand as part of a larger narrative. 🙂

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Well, I can’t hold it in my hands, since it’s on my iPad, but I am 26% through The Awethology Dark. I do believe books have to power to save humanity, but, they must be read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        This is very powerful Reaper. Makes one wonder why the future of the world would choose to play video games of violence, rather than nuture their own mind reading a book. It doesn’t matter what they read at first, only their eyes need to rest on the printed word. Later, hopefully they’ll turn to quality. You’ve painted a bleak, lonely world here, but the human spirit can only be slowed down, never stopped. Your story is a reat illustration of this.

        1. Reaper

          It is sad that we seem to have lost a love of reading. Honestly? I get video games, they have a story to them that you get to be involved with. I even get TV and movies, what I don’t understand is why so many people close themselves off to the beauty that is the original that many of these things came from. But, as you say, the human spirit cannot be stopped, but sadly it can be coopted.

      2. Reaper

        I think that and enhancing our lives are their sole purposes. Let me know what you think about the Think Drug. There’s also a holiday edition that’s free too. My story in there is the short I’m proudest of ever and I owe a lot of skill I had for writing it to this group.

    3. Bushkill

      I liked the dark tones and theme u have moving through the whole piece. It was very well done. Doom seemed imminent and made the whole thing seem heavy. Loved that and the writing. Nicely done .

      1. Reaper

        Thanks Bushkill, the point in the larger narrative where this takes place, doom has already come for the world but more should always seem imminent so I’m glad that came through. Thank you for your lovely thoughts and words.

    4. JosephFazzone

      This is a great story. I can see this story the beginning of some post apocalyptic story of a great man rising up through the ashes, and bringing humanity to a better place. The culling is such a great and terrible concept, and you say so much with so few words. Amazing!

  10. Kerry Charlton

    THE LEGEND OF MARY CATHERINE COBB

    CONCLUSION

    Miss Sarah and Cathy waited patiently in her secret room. Sarah felt an overwhelming gloom strike her while they waited for John and the knights to arrive. When the portal opened, Cathy rushed to the opening and broke in an uncontrollable state as she saw John being carried into the room. Mary had made herself invisible so as not to draw attention. Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad were laid next to John as Sir Percival spoke,

    “Were it not for John, none of us would have escaped alive. We fought demons from hell itself.”

    “And how did he die?” Sarah asked.

    “He saved Miss Mary from a hangman’s noose, defeated Chester Cobb and threw him into a fire even though John was severely wounded. At that moment, a devil pierced his chest with a sword. John had no weapon to defend himself.”

    “Where is Mary?”

    “I think she’s in a spirit form and here with us. I can sense her presence.” Percival answered. “Is there any way Miss Sarah, we can bring them back?”

    “We shall ask Merlin.”

    Mary kept her distance as she watched as Cathy cradled John’s head in her lap. ‘Amazing,’ Mary thought. ‘She resembles me more than I could have imagined. I’m not sure John can be revived because he is mortal but perhaps Lancelot and Galahad can.’

    Mary kneeled next to Cathy so as not to disturb her. Cathy’s tears bathed John’s face as she stroked his forehead,

    “You can not die.” Cathy said. “You are too honorable a man. The holy one will come, I know he will. I have prayed for you..”

    Miss Sarah retrieved the crystal as Merlin instructed and placed it upon Galahad’s chest. A brilliant light shone through the room as Galahad’s eyes opened. She placed the crystal upon Lancelot. The light returned and Lancelot rose to his feet. They both gathered around John in mourning.

    “Merlin,” Sarah said, “is there any way to bring John back?”

    “I’ve never retrieved a soul from one who has died and not become a spirit first. I will try though“.

    Carefully the crystal was placed on John‘s chest along with Excalibur.

    “It is not for us to understand God‘s ways completely, we must have faith,” Miss Sarah said. She sat across from Cathy who continued to hold John. Mary sat on her knees next to Cathy and became visible. As she prayed to God also, Cathy and Sarah looked on in quiet amazement as they listened to Mary’s prayer. A few minutes went by and Mary gently removed the crystal and handed it to Miss Sarah.

    “I owe you so much, my great, great niece. Were it not for your help and also John’s, I would have felt father’s wrath into eternity. Now I shall take John with me as there is no way to restore a human life unless God plans it. We have much work to do where we are headed and I will never leave his side for a moment.”

    Mary hugged her niece, and then Cathy,

    “You have so much to live for child. Do not despair for we will be in God‘s hands helping him. Dry your tears and continue the honor as keeper.”

    At that moment Mary touched John’s hand, his spirit arose and joined her. Both disappeared into the darkness surrounding all.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reatha, I came to the idea, that if I brought John back, his sacrifice for Mary would have little influence in the story. But an eternal love in the here after would not bad for either of them. This segment really drained me to write it. I hated saying goodby..

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a very satisfying ending, Kerry. At least Mary and John will be together in a wonderful eternity. I can see where the alternate ending (John + Cathy) was also hinted at, and that would have made a satisfying ending as well. I love this tale from start to finish. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim, you know you had a big part in this story as you guided me through a great deal of it. Thank you for all your support and interest. With your help, it made a better read.

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hey, Kerry!

      I feel awful for saying this, but good. You kept him dead. Like I said before, it was the inevitable and right ending. (Sorry, John.)

      All in all, this was an excellent ending. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Cosi foe hanging in there through 12 chapters. I took your advice on the ending. Maybe in the future, they will reappear in real life to continue to fight evil. I tried to leave that open when Mary mentioned the work they needed to do.

    3. JosephFazzone

      I’m so sad. This was so many weeks of reading, and now it’s done. What a great story, Kerry! I am happy to have been able to take part in the weekly chapters. Thank you so much for your work, and for keeping us entertained. It was an epic story, and I’m a little sad that it is over. Great great job!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Joseph for all your support. You weren’t any sadder than I was. I became a real part in this story. It hurt me to write the last chapter. I do appreciate your thoughts in this response.

    4. Reaper

      I still have not kept up on this. I think you need a blog so I can go read them all in the same place. But getting you on one might be more difficult than just finding them all here. Very sweet ending and fitting for the bits I have managed to read.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reaper, does that mean you are willing to teach me to open a blog? I’ll take you up on it. It won’t be any worse then teaching a hippo to ride a unicycle. Are your nerves in good shape?

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I do have a gmail account.I’ll email it to you. I am real excited about gettng a blog.

            Thank you!

  11. JosephFazzone

    “Absolution by Murder seems an appropriate way to right the wrongs, don’t you agree?” Kipner drawled. His brow was furrowed, his mouse grey moustache stained coffee brown by cognac and pipe twitched mildly, but the crack in his voice told her everything.

    “I most certainly do not agree” Lilei spoke with a whisper as she held her carriage in a manner ardent and austere, the subtle proclamation; it’s unwise to aggravate the matriarch. She gently held the cup of tea to her lips and sipped gently. “I summoned you for the manner of your overdue account, sir.”

    His thick grey eyebrows tweaked upwards ever so slightly as he received intended insult in her tone. Stared at her equably as he volleyed with his own malicious tone by stating, “I do not recall a problem with my balance, ma’am.”

    She smiled prettily despite her tea stained teeth. “Again, I most certainly do not agree, sir’, her brogue went rogue as the veil dropped from the insult. She continued, “If you would indulge me.” She snapped her delicate well manicured fingers.

    Sharp and clean, a young man entered. He was well dressed, black coat to tie, with well kept black hair, acutely contrasted by the longest scraggly beard he’d seen on anyone since his cousin Rip. He carried a stack of papers held together by some twine. He handed it to her without a word, gave a quick nod, and left.

    “I never caught that fish in my imaginary world”, she licked her thumb daintily as she began to untie the string, and sort through the papers.

    Kipner stood still, stoic, steady. He politely nodded, looked at his drink and sipped the fine spirit. “Nice body on this one, robust, and oaky”, he commented licking his lips to kiss the flavor.

    “The girl or the booze?” Lilei asked as she grinned mischievously, “Is that how you like your fair, oaky? Or Sporty? Yes, sporty seems to be the current trend. Our poor dear, your jockey, Paula flung across the room, laid up with a swollen knee. The doctor’s bill was exorbitant.”

    “This is indignation”, he cried indignantly. “Added charges?”

    “Rein in your tongue”, she retorted her blue eyes ablaze. “You are fortunate she was insured, or we would be putting your steed down. You are also very lucky we’re not charging you for the money we’re losing while she mends.”

    He cowed under her now malevolent countenance, a wilted rose in an opulent garden. Its fragrance soured her nose.

    “Oh, please, pay me the three hundred, and be on your way” she waved him off irritably, “I hear you have a derby later this evening. It would seem a challenge to enter the race if you’re banned from the stable. Let’s put this behind us, and continue our amicable relationship.”

    He slumped in defeat. “Fine.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills. “Three hundred?” He counted it and handed it over.

    “Yes, dear”, she answered sweetly sipping her tea with demure detachment. “We have a new girl for you tonight.”

    “I heard about her. Killed two in a bar fight.” he raised his hands in supplication, “No thank you.”

    “My dear, Kipner, I thought you liked a little sport.” She laughed lightly. “I’m sure she’ll tame the wild stallion, and her name is Jadowyn.”

    1. seliz

      I loved the descriptions of your characters. The imagery was great. But more than that, the mannerisms and dialogue came together to tell a great story! And can I just say, that Lilei was the perfect antanonist? She reminded me of Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Read this, thought about it a lot, came back and read again. The dialogue is great, and the stained teeth and mustache are delightful details. The backstory hints make me want more. Well done.

    3. Observer Tim

      I love the mix of horse racing and (apparent) organized crime here, Joey. This reads like a middle chapter in a much larger story of deception, sport and treachery. The characterizations are short but clear; I’m a great fan of economy of words. All in all, fantastic. Please write more on this. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You know, the mannerism of your writing is a litle different and 65 years have gone by but you remind me of Mickey Spilliane. Your characters are marvelous. I would love part two as a back story chapter and then go for it.

      2. JosephFazzone

        Thanks Tim, admittedly, I wrote this piece for the prompt. I’m going to have to sit down, and sketch it all out, and continue with it. Certainly had a great time writing it. Who knows. Thanks so much. I really feel that this prompt site has been the best thing to read some great writing, and play around with my chops. I believe I have improved so much thanks to you guys, and I can see how much more I can grow. It’s humbling, and awesome.

  12. Observer Tim

    Valentine’s Gift

    “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes?” Brenda yanks the book out of my hand and pushes me against the wall. “I don’t think so, Mike; you’re nothing like Robert Downey Junior.”

    “Neither is Holmes. These are the real stories.”

    I reach for the book but Brenda passes it off to Kim. Even if I could take Brenda, her boyfriend John would crumple me up and toss me in the recycling. I don’t want to antagonize her; I wish the feeling was mutual.

    “So that’s your Valentine’s Day gift for Weird Wanda?”

    “No, I picked it up for my dad. He deals in antique books.”

    “What’s so special about this dumb old book?”

    “It’s an 1892 Harper Brothers; in good condition it’s worth a fair bit.” Maybe they’ll respect the book if not me.

    Kim cracks it open, releasing the odor of dried mould into the hallway. “This one’s water damaged.”

    “It can be used to repair another copy. Now may I have it back please?”

    Kim starts to pass it to me but Brenda blocks her with a hand.

    “Not yet. What are you doing to Wanda on Valentine’s Day? Not that I care about lust among the losers, but it should be good for a laugh.”

    I don’t want to say; if they saw my gift there would be no mercy. “I haven’t decided yet.”

    “He’s lying.” Thanks Kim. She’s one of those inscrutable Korean girls who seem to be able to read minds. Her boyfriend Sam is a pre-operation trans guy, which is slang for ‘physically a girl’; I know the secret and I think she appreciates that I keep it. Kim’s nice to me except when she’s with Brenda the Bitch; I don’t hold being a social chameleon against her.

    Brenda pivots me around and pushes my face into the wall. Some of the guys watching the scene snicker. Someone starts fondling my backpack; it’s Kim, judging by the lingering trace of sandalwood. At least she’s the one violating my privacy, not Brenda.

    “Nope, nope, nope, powder blue paper with white lilies? Is this a Valentine or a funeral? Nothing here. I guess he’s not carrying it.”

    Kim’s warm whisper caresses my ear. “I put your book in. If Wanda doesn’t want the other one, I’ll buy it from you; Sammy would love it.”

    Kim pushes my face into the wall, then gives me a quick grope and turns to Brenda. “No meat here.”

    The audience is laughing as the girls strut away.

    Once safely in my room I take the books out. Holmes, the decoy book, goes in the box for Dad and I clear off a flat space to wrap Wanda’s present.

    I hope she likes romantic poetry. If Not, Winter is considered to be a really good English translation of Sappho. The girls would think of her as ‘that lesbian poet’, especially since she’s the one lesbianism is named after, but the truth is more complicated. Just like Wanda Watson.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Ah, more books within the story. I’ve been thinking Sherlock since I started with Annie, and, thanks to Amazon, now have a copy of my first book.

      1. Observer Tim

        I was originally rereading Adventures as research/reminder for the throwaway comment about Irene Adler in the “Killing Clichés” prompt (she’s from “A Scandal in Bohemia”). As usually happens to me, I ended up reading the whole book; luckily it’s not long.

        Glad to hear you’ve been pulled into Holmes’s influence. He is and remains the quintessential scientific detective. 😉

          1. Kerry Charlton

            I really enjoyed your fascinating characters, Tim. I dying to ask you a question? Are you a professor in some university? Your brain power sprinkles all over this website. If you’re not you should or should have been. If you don’t wish to answer, leave a hint and I’ll make my mind up.

          2. Observer Tim

            Thanks, Joey. I’ve always been interested in the effect of seeing things from different angles. I’m with you on the book; the thing about using old volumes to repair damaged galleys in other copies is one of the secrets of the bookbinding trade. Old books, especially those with a provenance, are one of the few “let” items I allow to take up weight in my life.

            (P.S. Dear WordPress – STOP HELPING ME!)

          3. Observer Tim

            Thanks, Kerry.

            In answer to your question, I’m a university dropout with obsessive tendencies; that is I know a little bit about nearly everything. I work as an admin assistant (Boss’s flunky) in a government office with a bunch of Ph.D.’s and CPA’s.

            I’m told I have the gifts of (a) knowing and retaining lots of disjointed useless information, especially in the sciences and history, and (b) being able to explain it in language normal people understand. That’s not something you can learn or teach in university, so I’d rather be here where the Dean won’t yell at me. 🙂

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Tim, since Annie is semi autobiographical, I did get my first taste of Holmes after my tonsillectomy and was hooked. I’ve read everything at least twice, even have a strange book by his father, Sex in the Garden, a horticulture tome.

    2. Observer Tim

      THE OTHER SIDE OF THE VALENTINE

      “Kim, hold this.”

      The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? This brings back memories. Brenda just took it from Mike, then handed it to me. I start paying attention because I’m supposed to hang on her every word.

      “So that’s your Valentine’s Day gift for Weird Wanda?”

      “No, I picked it up for my dad. He deals in antique books.”

      “What’s so special about a dumb old book?”

      “It’s an 1892 Harper Brothers; in good condition it’s worth a fair bit.”

      1892! This is the first US printing! I crack it open, but the inside isn’t the heaven of old literature I’m hoping for.

      “This one’s water damaged.”

      “It can be used to repair another copy. Now may I have it back please?”

      I close the book and start to hand it over but Brenda stops me.

      “Not yet. What are you doing to Wanda on Valentine’s Day? Not that I care about lust among the losers, but it should be good for a laugh.”

      “I haven’t decided yet.”

      I have to answer, “He’s lying.” He’s a bookworm; it’s got to be a book. And he’s obviously on the way back from a bookstore.

      Brenda pushes Mike’s face into the wall and he puts up with it. I’d love to kick her in the V for that, but she’d just beat me up. Or worse, hand me over to her pet pig John. At Brenda’s motion I start going through Mike’s backpack.

      Principles of Calculus, Intro Astronomy, and… Sappho? I keep going. “Nope, nope, nope, powder blue paper with white lilies? Is this a Valentine or a funeral? Nothing here. I guess he’s not carrying it.”

      I don’t like lying, but Brenda’s too stuck up to look for herself. I slip Holmes into Mike’s backpack and whisper another lie. “If Wanda doesn’t want the other one, I’ll buy it from you; Sammy would love it.”

      Truth is, Sammy wouldn’t want it. As he gets closer to the operation that will match up his groin and his head, he’s getting more like Brenda. Instead I give Mike a grope and lie some more. “No meat here.”

      Truth is, I want Mike to want me, but now he’s interested in Wanda Watson. How the hell do I compete with a girl who can make things she writes come true?

      It would be better if I didn’t like her. I read her story about the fantasy barroom brawl and wished I could be Sapphire. She’s strong and confident and not neurotic at all. But that’s the thing: it’s a fantasy. Sapphire’s fictional, not like me and not like the boy I want. Not like Mike Litt.

      I just hope he notices the note I snuck into his copy of Holmes.

  13. cosi van tutte

    “Emma by Jane Austen.” Gabriella stabbed her salad with a fork. “I can’t stand any of her other books, but Emma will always hold a place dear in my heart.” She fixed a flirtatious smile on him. “What about you? Do you have any books that you have memorized word-for-word, period-to-question mark?” She ate her salad as he deliberated.

    “I could be silly and say Dracula, but…” He smiled. Such a nice smile. Such very nice teeth. “In all honesty, I place that book in the same rubbish bin as all of the Buffy spin-off books.”

    “Well, then. What do you like?”

    “I don’t have one particular favorite.” He took a sip of water. “I like books where the boy meets the girl he is meant to be with. They overcome obstacles. They live happily ever after.”

    “Oh, so you like romance novels.”

    His smile faded. “I think of them as fantasies. Real life isn’t that fair. In real life, the boy may meet the girl he is destined to be with or he may not. Even if he does, the obstacles will be too great for them to overcome.” A pained expression came over his face. “She’ll find another and he’ll try to find someone to take her place.”

    She set her fork on her plate and just listened.

    He lowered his gaze. “He’ll try so many times in so many different places and he’ll fail. And every failure will hurt and burn him. He’ll try to blame her for leaving him behind, but deep down he understands her reasons. He knows that he can’t make things right.”

    She reached forward and touched his hand.

    He looked at her. “You are very kind and sympathetic. You have listened to my rambling without interrupting me with unwanted words or endless questions. I appreciate that.”

    The waitress drifted over to their table. “So, lovebirds. What’ll it be?”

    Gabriella gave her menu a quick glance. “I want a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with extra pickles.”

    The waitress wrote it down as fast as she could. “And, what about you, good lookin’?”

    He shook his head. “I’m not hungry.”

    “Do you want to hear the daily specials?”

    “I said, I’m not hungry. But you can give me another water.”

    “Right on, hon’.”

    As the waitress walked away, Gabriella smiled at him. “I can’t imagine why you got dumped.”

    He winced.

    “You’re a lot nicer than some guys I’ve dated. Maybe she just didn’t know what she had.”

    “She knew. That’s why I couldn’t be with her.”

    “I’m not sure I understand.”

    He leaned forward and took her hands. “Gabriella, I don’t want you to understand. Ever. If you did…” He released her hands. “It’s just better if you don’t know. Trust me.”

    “Can I trust you? I mean, you aren’t a convicted pervert or something, are you?”

    “No. To get back to our previous topic: If you held a stake to my chest and demanded to know what book sets my mind aflame, I’d have to say The Notebook. I love that book so much.”

    “Did you like the movie?”

    He looked shocked. “They made a movie of it?”

    She smiled coyly. “I have the dvd.”

    “I must see it!”

    She laughed. “We’ll go to my place after supper and watch it.”

    ***

    After she was all done eating her sandwich, Gabriella left to use the restroom.

    He watched her walk away. Everything’s going so well tonight. And soon I’ll be alone with her. I’ve held back all evening. Waiting and waiting. And I will be rewarded for my patience.

    Unless…He frowned. What if she knows? What if she suspects? What if she’s just like the others and she’s running away from me even now?

    He leaned his head back. I’ll have to hunt her, catch her. Just like the others.

    The heady scent of lily of the valley combined with a woodsy musk drifted into his booth and captured his nose.

    He snapped to attention and glanced around until he found her.

    A woman followed her waitress to a table with two chairs in the middle of the room. She wore a cherry red tank top that hugged her lean torso just right. Black skinny jeans covered her lower half. She smiled at the waitress and sat down.

    He quickly looked away from her. What if she saw me? What if she followed me? What if she plans to kill me tonight?

    Gabriella returned. “Hey, I’m back.”

    He scooted to the end of the booth. “I’m sorry, but I need to take care of something. I will return.”

    “You need to use the restroom too?”

    He smiled, but it didn’t make him look happy.

    “What’s wrong? Are you all right?”

    “I’ll be back in a minute.”

    “Are you running out on me?”

    “No! I promise I’ll come back.”

    He left Gabriella and walked to the two-chaired table in the middle of the room. He stood behind her chair, afraid to speak, but determined not to leave. “Hello, Elsie.”

    The menu dropped from her hands as she startled. She looked up at him. “Ambrose.”

    1. Observer Tim

      Why do I find myself pitying Gabriella even though she’s apparently a throwaway character in the larger story of Ambrose and Elsie? I love the subtle references to Ambrose’s past sprinkled in the story. All in all this is a great welcome back to these characters. 🙂

    2. Reaper

      I think I follow and it is an oddly simple story made complex and deep. Nicely done. Though she should have run out! I mean, all the hints are there. A man who insults Dracula and loves romance novels… bad new, like has to be a monster or a serial killer bad news.

  14. rayner

    (This could have been better. But I wanted to write this real quick as I’m currently busy with other writing projects.)

    O Little Town was quaint and quiet. Besides the unexpected death of a young stage actress years ago, no major crime ever passed through here. It was safe enough for the citizens of O Little Town to keep their doors unlocked at night and let their children roam the streets alone until dusk – or so they thought. The day he arrived was the day that sense of security was threatened. His arrival went unnoticed; it was almost as if he’d simply materialized. Blending seamlessly in with the unaware citizens of O Little Town, he walked the streets taking in the surrounding shops and people, inconspicuously, as if he was a tourist. – or so he’d expected to appear while searching for Toby. Of all the places he’d visited before, no one was as eager to greet him as most of the citizens of O Little Town.

    “I’m visiting my sister,” was the answer he was told to give when he was approached by someone who hadn’t seen him around before. And then he would hurry away before the could get a good look at his face or ask about his sister, not caring if they thought he was rude because the longer he hung around chatting to people, the easier it was going to be for them to describe him to police. He needed to put as much distance between him and this town fast and soon.

    On the third day of his visit in O Little Town he spotted Toby leaving school with a blond haired boy. Keeping his distance, he followed them until they parted ways: the blond haired boy turning onto a short, gravel road and Toby continuing to walk a little further down the street and entering a one story red brick house. Even though there were no cars parked in the drive way, he didn’t walk up to the front door. Now that he knew where Toby lived, he decided to come back later that night.

    And he did. It was a quarter past midnight when he entered the home. That night all feelings of security O Little Town had vanished with Toby.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is major league creepy, Rayner. I’m wondering whether the MC is a psychopath or this is some kind of parental abduction. The alternate (and more interesting to me) reading is that “he” was sent there to kidnap Toby by undisclosed others for some darker purpose. In fact, on rereading the story the alternate scenario is looking to be the most likely. You’ve done a nice job starting a thriller here. 🙂

  15. Amaria

    Ginger Part 4

    “Oddball Florida” was the title of a book Ginger found in a box filled with forgotten paperbacks. Ginger was not sure why her parents, more likely her father, would ever buy such a book. Perhaps they were looking to add some adventure to their Florida vacations. Ginger sat the book down and looked around the attic. She promised her mother she would help reorganize the place but was not aware of how big the task was. She also thought her mother would be helping, but that was not the case. Boxes sat on top of boxes, filled with items Ginger hadn’t seen in years.

    As Ginger became absorbed in a box containing frilly dresses she and her sister were forced to wear as kids, she did not hear her mother’s footsteps.

    “How are you doing up here?” her mother asked.

    Startled, Ginger looked up. “Geez mom you scared me.”

    “Sorry I thought you heard me coming up the stairs. What are you looking at anyway?”

    Ginger pulled out the purple dress with wide ruffles trimmed in white. “I specifically remember wearing this on Easter when I was seven.”

    Her mom smiled. “You looked very pretty in it.”

    “Why did you keep it?”

    “Why not? It was a lovely dress and you liked it.”

    “Uh, not really mom. I only wore it because you told me to.”

    “Well you still looked pretty in it.” She looked around. “The place looks good. It’s better than I would have done.”

    Ginger smiled. “Thanks, but I was starting to think you might have a hoarding problem.”

    Her mother looked at her in shock. “I’m not a hoarder. Why would you say such a thing?”

    Ginger reached over into another box, pulling out a tea cup. “You have all these tea cup knickknacks. There dozens of them in this box. And over here, we have old posters me and Molly made in school.”

    “They’re prized memories. I see nothing wrong with it.”

    Ginger just looked her mother. This is the same woman who couldn’t get rid of her father’s things quick enough after his death. Yet, she held onto knickknacks and old children’s clothing.

    “Well, I don’t see why I can’t keep them. I’m not like those hoarders on TV. They have so much stuff in their house you can’t even walk. And my house is impeccably clean.”

    Ginger replied, “True, maybe you’re just an organized hoarder.”

    When her mother gave her a look, Ginger could only shake her head. Ginger then asked, “I’m surprised you don’t have anything that belonged to dad. Did you get rid of it all?”

    Her mother looked away from Ginger before answering, “I’m sure there is a box up here with some of his things.”

    “I haven’t come across any.”

    “Maybe it’s a box you haven’t come across yet.” She then stood up, rubbing her hands across her jeans. “I have to go back downstairs for something.”

    Ginger watched her mother exit the attic, once again avoiding any talk about her father. As Ginger stood up, her foot kicked a box over and spilled papers all over the floor. As Ginger began picking up the items, she saw an envelope addressed to her father. It was from the university where he taught. Ginger opened the envelope and began scanning the letter. She then read a sentence that made her stop.

    Due to the ongoing investigation into your matter, you are hereby placed on suspension without pay until further notice.

    She then heard he mother call out, “I need you downstairs for a minute Ginger. Ginger?”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Good job using the prompt to continue Ginger’s story. I think you are developing the mother in such a way that my feelings are becoming more positive toward her.

    2. Observer Tim

      Ginger and her surrounding people grow more interesting with each prompt. I can see that her mother is terrified of something in relation to her father (and his death), but that’s still not quite enough to make me sympathetic to her. On the other hand, Ginger’s enigma is unfolding nicely and I’m really curious where you’re going to take it.

  16. Trevor

    Word Count: 456

    First Date

    “What’s taking her so long?” Brad thought as he checked his watch for the fifth time that night. His date for that evening had told him that she’d be at the restaurant by 9 and it was already nearing closing time. Brad was the only one left in the restaurant and waiters were being to clear tables.

    “Bitch.” Brad bitterly mumbled under his breath as he got up and walked away, not even bothering to pay for the martinis he had ordered while waiting for his date to arrive. Saving that money was the best thing that had happened that night. Brad walked across the empty parking lot toward his car-

    And then everything went black.

    “Brad….” He heard a voice calling his name as he slowly opened his eyes. He tried to get to his feet, but his wrists were restrained. After the blur finally fades from his eyes, Brad realizes he’s on a bed, his hands tied to the metal frame. The room is dark and cold, the only light coming from a small window at the far end of the room. The darkness obscures the face of the man standing above you.

    “I’ve been watching you for so long now, Brad. But you never noticed me before now.” The man speaks again. His voice is gruff and raspy, like the voice of a heavy smoker. Brad tried to break free from his restraints, but the ropes remain tightly wrapped around his wrists. The man leans in close to Brad….

    And gave him a passionate kiss. His breath reeks of cigarette smoke, explaining his grisly voice. It’s enough to make Brad want to gag. When the man finishes, he rubs his lips, obviously enjoying the forcible kiss. Then, the man walks over to the side of the room and opens a door, revealing a set of stairs.

    “Wait! What are you doing?” Brad calls out weakly. The man turns around and stands in the doorway, staring directly at Brad.

    “Don’t worry, babe. I’m coming back tomorrow. And then the REAL fun begins.” The man replies in his snarl of a voice. Then, without another word, he shuts the door, leaving Brad alone in his dark prison.

    Brad’s mind immediately turns to the dark. He has no idea who the man is, but he can tell from what he was saying that he’s been stalking him for a while and has become obsessed with him. Now he’s kidnapped him and is going to keep him hostage in this cold place. He cringes as he thinks as he imagines the events of the morning. What will happen then? What will the man do to Brad?

    And what will he do when he grows tired of him?

    1. Cceynowa

      Definitely a compelling start. This could easily lead down many roads, from psychological thriller to a redemption novel to even fantasy. You did switch point if view by asking “What will the man do to Brad,” but other than that, your writing was good. Thanks for sharing!

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating story, Trevor, and with a definite tease of something more intense (and possibly scary) coming. I’m not entirely sure what it has to do with the prompt, but that’s no biggie. You did a great job with the psychological tension; of course, someone like me is wondering what happened to the original date? Did she stand him up or get waylaid? The second way opens up even more avenues in regard to the psychodrama. 🙂

    3. Reaper

      Interesting and intense. The story could get very involved and hold that edge all the way through. You did have a lot of slips into past tense. I got that for the beginning bit but then it happens throughout the rest. Also, in the last paragraph or so there are too many hes and hims that switch between the characters. Most of the time they are obvious but a couple confuse me for a moment on who you are speaking of and the fact that it goes on makes the ones that aren’t confusing a little more so. Still, even without that changing I’d read more of this.

  17. Cceynowa

    Tradition

    Novel: “The Birth House” by Ami McKay (2007) / Word Count: 643

    This submission has absolutely 0 reference to Ms. McKay’s fabulous novel, but does provide an interesting history to a character that’s been wandering around my mind.
    ____________

    “The Birth House” longed to be abandoned. Its aged paint blended with its darkened windows making the whole a hole of emptiness in the night. The young woman waited nervously on the uneven porch. Her knock had been soft, but she knew her arrival had not gone unnoticed: her ever increasing bulk had made the weather worn boards groan and creak under foot. Through the door’s frosted window she saw a flickering light approach. She stepped back when Ms. Mathers opened the door.

    The old woman was as dark as her house. She wore a flower printed nightdress stretched tight over her ample girth. The lines around her eyes were deep set and plentiful. Raising her kerosene lamp she said, “You here for the Rights?”

    “Yes ma’am.” The young woman’s voice was a soft whisper. She realized she was going to start crying at any moment. The long walk had tired her and the knowledge of what she was about to do scared her.

    “Speak up now. I’m a bit hard o’ hearin’.”

    The young woman tried again but found that her voice had abandoned her entirely. Instead she nodded and allowed the tears to flow freely down her cheeks. Her tears were answer enough. “Good. Good.” The old woman stepped back and motioning her inside.

    Once they were in the kitchen, Ms. Mathers lit more lamps and took a proper look at her guest. “You almost waited too late.” There was a mild reproach in her voice. No mother of Jacks’ Hollow waited too long to see Ms. Mathers. It was law what would happen if they didn’t, therefore she was surprised at this one’s tardiness. Most came as soon as they found themselves pregnant for the first time. And most were far younger than this one. Girls tried to get it over and done with before finding the man they wished to marry. “You wait too long, it don’t work. Got’s to be done before the babe turns.”

    The young woman sat at the small kitchen table writing her baby’s chosen name in the ledger Ms. Mathers kept. She tried not to read the other names, named penned by some of her own childhood friends, but failed. She asked, “What if I refuse?”

    While gathering supplies from her cupboard, Ms. Mathers answered, “You thinkin’ of doing just that?”

    “No. Yes.”

    “Why?” Ms. Mathers sat several jars on the table and then settled herself across from the expectant mother. The wrinkles in her face seemed to deepen with concern. “Girl, you know what happen if you don’t. Don’t you?”

    “How long has it been law? Do you know?”

    “Aye. My mammy’s mammy was with the group that came to the Understanding. The first born of any woman belongs to the forest. Keep your first babe and you will be killed. There is an old magic in these woods girl. Has always been. We don’t want to go messin’ with it.”

    “Old magic,” the young woman repeated the phrase. Her voice couldn’t hide her disgust and disbelief. “When was the last time you saw any magic?”

    “Can’t say I ever have, but that proves it. Don’t it?”

    “So what? You just give me the drink and when my baby is born with no will to live… you what?”

    “I wrap ‘em in the finest of cloth and lay ‘em down for the forest to claim.”

    “How many have you killed?”

    “Now see here girl, I ain’t never done nothing that I ain’t had to. This been going on for three-hundred-years.”

    “I won’t do it.”

    “Then you goin’ to die.”

    “Maybe.”

    Ms. Mathers didn’t see the young woman out her door. She remained at her table, her hand resting above the newest name in her ledger. “Please,” she prayed, “please let enough blood been paid. Let the babe live– don’t take Hayden Parker.”

    ###

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      First, welcome back. I’ve missed your stories. And, this is great, a glimpse into a world I want to know. Both characters are very real and engaging. More?

    2. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Cc!

      Just so you know, I love your beginning line: “The Birth House” longed to be abandoned.” It sets the tone perfectly and it’s just an awesome first line. 😀

      The rest of the story is very well-written and feels like the beginning of a published book. I would gladly read more of it.

        1. Cceynowa

          Hey Kerry! Thank you for reading. I’ve been busy for sure… hopefully my life has settled a bit that I can start writing more. I’ve missed all y’all… (That’s Texan for everyone. 🙂 )

    3. Observer Tim

      Welcome back, Ccey, it’s been a while. You definitely came back strong; I’m hoping this is the prologue to an intriguing neo-fantasy adventure with lots of chilling twists and old faerie magic. I’d read that. 🙂

  18. seliz

    A FEAST FOR CROWS littered the forest floor. Decomposing bodies of human and contaminated alike were juxtaposed against trees. In the center of the clearing, he sat. Blood poured steadily from a hole where his ear had been.

    “Just kill me already,” he grunted.

    I glanced at Evan in alarm.

    “How could this happen? We’re out of the quarantine zone,” I whispered.

    Evan looked as disquieted as I felt, but he didn’t respond. Instead, he stepped into the clearing.

    “We’re not going to hurt you,” Evan said as he approached the man. “Put down your weapon.”

    The man glanced at the weapon as if he had forgotten it were there.

    “No ammo,” he said, tossing the gun aside. “It’s bloody useless.”

    Evan crouched next to the man and examined him. The man’s clothing was splattered with blood and dirt alike. His grey hair and wrinkled face conjured images of a kindly old man, but the carnage surrounding him suggested otherwise.

    “Can you tell me what happened? How are the contaminated out of the quarantine zone?” Evan asked.

    “He’s clearly in pain. He needs medical attention, not questions,” I said, the words bursting forth before I could stop them.

    “And whose going to help him? You’re not Mia,” Evan snapped. Then, realizing what he said, he turned to give me a remorseful look.

    “Nessa, I’m s-”

    “Don’t,” I interrupted. I wasn’t ready to talk about Mia. Not when I couldn’t save her. There’s something haunting about watching your little sister turn into a contaminated, a cannibalistic monster in human form. Her turning was a nightmare I couldn’t wake up from.

    In more ways than Evan knew.

    For the millionth time since I set out with Evan, I found myself wondering what he would do if he found out that I couldn’t kill Mia. If he found out that I had left the contaminated that had been my sister at our old refugee camp, with a promise to return when I had answers.

    The hiss of blood bursting from the man’s neck as Evan slit his throat was answer enough.

    He would have killed her.

    My eyes must have revealed my pain, because Evan looked confused.

    “You know I had to. He was contaminated.”

    I looked at the body of man that lay still in the clearing, and the bodies propped against the trees.

    “I know,” I said. “But don’t you ever wish that you could save them?”

    Evan gave me an easy smile that made my heart flutter.

    “As long as I can save you, it doesn’t matter.”

    His words twisted like a knife in my chest. I grasped my arm, thinking of where I had been bit—contaminated. Would he even let me get the words out to tell him how long I’d survived the bite?

    Probably not.

    So instead of telling him, I forced a smile and followed him through the woods.

    “Seriously, just a little bit longer and we can put the contamination behind us, Nessa.”

    1. Cceynowa

      And then what? You’re going to continue this story, right? Right? 🙂 I would really like to see where it goes…. You drew me in completely. You wrote Nessa’s inner turmoil beautifully, making me want to keep her safe from Evan and hoping she has the chance to explain. Compelling read. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        First sentence captured me and pushed me into the opening with Even and Nessa. You must continue this, could be an epic for you. Tough read for me, bu tintensely enjoyable.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a well-told chapter in what is obviously a longer zombie apocalypse story. Is Nessa going to be the key to immunity, or is she going to slowly descend into the growing madness? I’m with the others in asking to know more about this story. 🙂

    3. Reaper

      Definitely wanting more of this. I’m pretty anti-zombie and love that you have some of the good elements of that with a lot of not that. There is nothing of what I dislike in those stories here. Compelling, rich, actual story, I’m amazed and humbled by this writing.

  19. Pete

    “NAPALM STRIPPERS saved my life.”

    He caught me by surprise, just after that disaster of a workshop. Nothing got through to them. And how could it? I was old, a relic, trying to teach memoir writing to a generation of Twitter posters.

    The worst part was that I didn’t know shit about memoir writing anymore. Never did.

    Now, late for lunch and having fulfilled my obligations, I looked up to find this guy. Obviously deranged, his eyes drilled me with an unhinged intensity. Overweight, with a splotchy beard down his neck, the obligatory spaceship t-shirt stretched around his gut. When he reached into his filthy coat I imagined John Lennon.

    His gnarled hand wrapped around a paperback. The pages yellow as his fingernails. He pointed to a hole in the cover. I swallowed.

    “Is that from a bullet?” I said, only half joking. His raspy laugh made me cringe.

    “Hell, could be, that’s how I bought it.”

    “Okay,” I said, already looking over the dandruff dusting of his shoulder. Phillip, Dawn, and the others were at the door, headed for the cafeteria. Carla looked back at me and laughed. Yeah, I had a clinger.

    “You see, I bought this book at a yard sale three years ago, he said in a way that told me I was in for the long haul. “Got it for a quarter. Up until then I wasn’t doing shit, but this,” he thumped the whitened bind against the desk. “This made me want to be a writer.”

    I straightened my worksheets, set them in a folder and the folder in my bag. Two tours in Vietnam, a lifetime of nightmares. Seven years to write my first novel. This guy paid a quarter. Fair enough.

    “…I been writing some of my own stuff. Got three ebooks on Amazon. I’d love it if you…”

    He scratched his hand as he spoke, I wasn’t sure if it was nerves or a rash. I clipped my bag and glanced at the clock.

    “I think they’re pretty good. I know if I could just breakthrough than…”

    This poor guy had snowball sized chunks of dandruff in his hair, smelled like a dog collar. What could he possibly be writing, The Audacity of Soap?

    “Anyways, I was just hoping maybe I could get you to take a look, maybe get a blurb or…”

    “Um, look, I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”

    “Willie.”

    “Okay, well thanks Willie,” I said, heading for the door. Willie didn’t take the hint. Just stood there, frumpy and wrinkled. I took a step back to the room. “Look, thanks for sitting in on my class. You want me to sign…that, or,” I motioned out towards the lobby. “I have a display of my newer books.

    “I don’t care for them.”

    “I’m sorry?”

    “Your new books. The self-help stuff. I don’t like them.”

    I bit my cheek. Willie, the Amazon writer could not have understood that the new books paid the bills. NAPALM STRIPPERS was out of print and out of mind. Done, I was lucky to buy a six pack of good beer with the royalties. The new series, about recovery and focus were well received and plugging along at a good clip. The audio versions especially.

    Willie pocketed the yellow rind and shuffled past me. “Well, I just wanted to let you know what this book means to me. Take it easy.”

    Take it easy? That night I climbed into my attic and reread NAPALM STRIPPERS, turning pages, gripped by the intensity of my own faraway writing. It wasn’t me who wrote that book. It was a kid. A terrified, drug-addled, hippie soldier. There were no chapters and no tomorrow for that young writer. Without rules, commas, or any inclination to hold back. It was completely raw, freshly derived out of brain rot, trauma, and my old friend Agent Orange.

    The next night I started on Willie’s stuff. Even with a deadline looming I finished all three of them. He was good. I laughed. The frumpy bastard could write. I made a few notes and decided that I’d call my agent in the morning, have her take a look. Then I inquired about another memoir. She advised against it.

    So that night I let her rip. I sat down and started typing, just like Willie.

    1. Cceynowa

      That’s like, deep, you know? 🙂 Seriously, this hits so many subtle, and not so subtle, points about the struggles of not only writing but of living. Thank you for bringing Willie’s plight to my mind. I empathize and sympathize with both him and your MC.

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Very nicely done. I’ve heard many stories about second books and the frustration of trying to repeat success, but I think your MC might get it done.

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nicely done, Pete. I think all of us as writers would like to meet someone like Willie (despite the personal issues); someone with ability who was inspired by our work. The tale is both touching and inspiring, and you painted Willie with enough details to bring a cringe. 🙂

  20. ReathaThomasOakley

    West Augustine
    Part 3

    “The Bible, Annie, that’s in the Bible,” Miss Jimmie Mae’d got all her peas shelled and we’d talked about Mr. Sherlock Holmes for a while, I didn’t know he was in the movies, I couldn’t go to movies, then she up and said, “Behold, I show you a mystery!” and laughed.

    “Mysteries are everywhere, Annie. You just gotta keep on looking. Just remember to look before you leap…”

    “I ain’t leapin’,” I tried to say.

    “…before you leap to conclusions. Now I gotta get these peas washed and cooked up. Miz Noda’s coming to supper. You run on home, Annie. Give your folks my regards.”

    I walked over to Mrs. Small’s house and watched for a while, but nobody stopped by. I got bored and didn’t want to do any more detecting, so I headed back through Aunt Violet’s yard and was under her kitchen window when I heard her talking, and it sounded very interesting.

    “I’m just sayin’ Helen what ever body’s thinkin’, and it ain’t no laughin’ matter.”

    Aunt Helen, from Palatka, was real funny, and I was tired, so I sat down to listen.

    Later, I was glad I got home before Mama, so I could hang up my plaid skirt and put on my dungarees. I hoped Mama wouldn’t notice the grass stains. Maybe Mr. Sherlock Holmes wore his cape to keep his good clothes clean.

    Next morning, on the way to church, Daddy said dinner was gonna be at Granny’s and he thought I was gonna get to sit at the big table. No body got saved so church let out on time.

    At Granny’s not only did I get to sit with the grown ups, Brother was still in the kitchen, but I was asked to say the blessing. That hadn’t never happened at Granny’s, so I was kinda nervous, but all of a sudden I knew just what to say.

    “Dear Lord, bless this food to our bodies,” that’s what everybody said, “and our bodies to thy service. And, by the way, please help Aunt Vera get through that change thing quicker or Uncle Dee’s gonna leave again.” I thought I heard something, so I hurried. “And, keep that baby inside Florence at least four more weeks or folks are gonna talk,” a chair moved. “In Jesus’ name, amen.”

    I opened my eyes and everybody was just staring at me, Daddy looked like he was holding back a sneeze or something, but I was hungry.

    “Could somebody please pass the fried chicken?” I asked in my best grown up voice, but nobody moved, they just looked at Mama ’til she finally opened her mouth and just kinda wailed.

    “Annneee Lou-eeeeze…”

    1. Cceynowa

      You have no idea how this made me laugh, cringe, and relate to today! My 12-year-old step-daughter has finally come to live with us (hence my long absence from you dear people), and I have been fascinated by her personality and observations. Kids really do say the darnedest things. Great read. Fun story all around.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, muchly. As I write above, welcome back. This is part 3 of a new saga following Annie Louise Porter, ten years old in 1955. I’m having fun with her.

    2. Observer Tim

      Once again you’ve captured the ten-year old’s innocence and voice so wonderfully. I can almost hear Granny sitting quietly in the background stifling a cackle at her granddaughter’s revelations. I can also hear the gears grinding in her mama’s head as she tries to find a way to stop the whole detective thing.

      Also, the tiny lines and fragments that paint the setting in exquisite detail are beautiful.

      All in all a great take! 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        What a wonderhul little jewel of a story. Since I’m Baptist, there is a line in here that I treasure, “No body was saved so church got out on time.” I can remember thinking after an overextended preachin, ‘ wishin’ no body please walk down the aisle, I’m hungry.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      From “Behold, I show you a mystery!” all the way to “Annneee Lou-eeeeze…”, this was a joy to read. Especially that blessing. 😆

      Annie is a great character. She ranks up there with The Girl. I can’t wait to see more stories about her. 😀

  21. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

    The book of portals is an ancient legend, so ancient it turned into a saying. “Don’t ever marry, Carac,” fat Harry says. “Your wife’ll pluck you like a pigeon. You bring money home one day, you’ll have better luck finding the book of portals next day.” I laugh and drink, but inside I’m taking the matter very seriously.

    My brother, Tobias, disappeared a few long years ago. Extraordinary boy he was. I’d used to think I had some good brains in my head for an 18-year-old, but then mother got lost in the forest and came back after two days with an orphan kid who, at the age of ten, seemed to the world better than I did, or all the villagers together.

    “Meet your new brother,” she said to me, ruffling the tousled hair of the kid. “Tobias here saved my life.”

    The boy gave me a long stare of compassion and pain as if I were struck by plague and dying. I was, however, struck by something else—our resemblance. Three years that he lived with us were enough for me to start feeling like he’d always been my brother, and then he was gone. Mom said he was his own master and he went on the road again. I didn’t believe a single word of that. He would have told me. My brother and I had been so close we could have been one person.

    We’d sit at the river for hours talking and fishing.

    “See those little whirlpools over there?” he once asked me. I watched the water rushing and swirling between shiny boulders. “Never go into the river where those are, it’s not safe. Remember that, a’right?”

    I nodded.

    Another time we were waiting for a bread horse cart to arrive. “You shouldn’t be a blacksmith,” Tobias said out of the blue.

    “I wasn’t going to—“

    “Never a blacksmith. Remember that.”

    He told me all kinds of stuff like that and always finished with “remember that”. And remember I did. Ever since he disappeared I’d chanted his strange prophesies every morning and searched for him every other day. No trace of him found, no word of him spoken anywhere.

    If anything should happen to him, he used to joke, I’d have better luck finding the book of portals. I laughed, as you would, but now I’m thinking it might have been no joke.

    My plan is ready, I know where to go, who to ask. The only thing missing is money, and that’s what fat Harry is for. He starts weeping and singing a lonesome sailor song—my cue to ask him for a bag of silvers. My mouth opens when a peasant girl runs into the tavern and cries out my brother’s name.

    I turn around with a battering heart, but Tobias isn’t there, and the girl is looking at me. “Tobias,” she repeats.

    “I’m Carac,” I say. “What do you know about my brother?”

    The stubborn girl presses on. “Tobias, you need to go with me.”

    “Are you here to mock my grief?” I stand up, almost knocking the table over. “Who sent you?”

    “You did.” Her lips freeze in a half-smile. “And believe me, your name is Tobias.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is mind-bending. I can’t tell whether Tobias (the first one) was a spirit, an alternate, or an echo of the Carac’s future (or past). I sense in the longer work it will be one of the big reveals at some point. This leaves an endless stream of possibilities open to expand. Great one, Bez! 🙂

  22. thatbillguy

    We were soldiers.

    There was inevitable violence in our youth that led us to our eventual end.
    We lived in a war-torn part of the world, high in the mountains, under constant assault from the creatures and evil rampant in the Great Northern Wastes.

    The toothy, hunched beasts in the wilds of the North became synonymous with daily life. They were a part of nature we had to address during the course of a typical day. Like gathering wood or eating or breathing. Most days we survived. Other days the persistence of the World Mother would triumph, and she would embrace her children and carry them home.

    The constant threat of the beasts was one thing, but the palatable wind of evil was something else. It was doubt and fear and temptation and death and no matter how one girded one’s self, it was always there at the edge of thought looking for weakness, seeking residence deep in the unconscious mind of the people. Everyone felt it. It was always there. Prodding and growing stronger each year. No thinking person wanted to accept that it a living and destructive force, but its effects were hard to deny. As terrible as this entity was, it could not venture far beyond the boundary of its wasteland home. In my lifetime, we moved the village South on three different occasions to survive the expanding border.

    Then, in our 25th summer, after many years of quiet, there was an unprecedented surge from the North. Wasters, as we called them, flowed like detritus from a wind-chewed mountain over our village. Worse, the living evil was with them, presumably, it had discovered a way to spread its influence further from the Great Wastes.

    This was how I lost my brother; rather it was the start of how I lost him.

    We survived the attack and again moved the village South far enough that the winters were milder and the summer air was sticky with moisture. It wasn’t home but, hopefully, it was safe.
    Over the course of the following year, I began to notice oddities in my brother’s personality. He would spend his days alone. At first working for the better of the village, as we all did. Other days he would disappear until late into the night.

    It was a late fall night of that same year when I learned the true nature of what happened to my brother. He wandered off for several days and upon his return, I saw that he had changed.
    A dark visage sat on his face and he moved with a hunched, but energetic gate. He was becoming one of them.

    He killed three men in the darkness before I showed up.

    It’s a terrible thing to kill a brother, but the World Mother gave me little choice. I took his life that night, and I mourn his passing to this day.

    No matter what he had become, to me he would always be my brother. Alessandro.

    1. Lucretia_BezBawni_Amstell

      This is an atmospheric tale, with an end at that! Applause to making a short story instead of a scene. I was pleasantly surprised to see another story about two brothers, since I posted one about a similar subject too. Guess we think along the same frequency 😉

      Anyway, you’ve managed to give sufficient info to let us into your fantasy world, you very skillfully incorporated the age of the characters into the narration, you also maintained the mood throughout the whole piece. I see a good-written story with all elements in place and the talent of the author clearly showing in more than a couple of lines. Great job, thatbillguy.

    2. Cceynowa

      You write very well, and engaged me from the start. For some reason, after I finished reading, I thought, “Hmmm… wonder what the story would be from Alessandro’s point of view?” So then, naturally, I thought about that thought and decided that you had created such a world that I wanted to know more about the beasts. Are they men gone made by viral disease? Are they physiologically afflicted some how? Are they men corrupted by some society that the MC doesn’t understand? You’ve definitely created a world I find interesting. Great job.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully dark and atmospheric piece, filled with the imagery of encroaching darkness. The writer’s philosophical voice is very well portrayed.

      My red pencil says palpable (touchable/invasive), not palatable (tasty/nourishing). My style advisor says the construction “Most days we survived” needs clarification, since the only other outcome to this is “we all died”, which is probably not what you intended.

      Still a good story though. 🙂

    4. Reaper

      Love the immersion this creates. The details are wonderful. The latter half has a lot of repeated words that are a bit jarring because of how well the story sucks the reader in. Beyond that though, I really enjoyed the sense of the World Mother as an antagonistic force. Even with so few words you built the relationship in such a way that I felt the loss of the brother deeply.

  23. CDyer

    The Prayer of Jabez might lead to answered prayer for some people’s requests, but there was no way on this day it was helping Bree. The main thing increasing in her life was stress. It seemed everyone she knew needed something from her, and her patience was stretched thin.
    Bree had always been the calm one in her circle of friends and colleagues, the reasonable one, the reliable one, the one everyone else could count on for advice and solutions. Even her boss recognized that quality in her and stationed an extra available chair near her desk for other employees who needed to vent and come away with an improved attitude. Some would even walk in and place a nickel on her desk asking, “Got a minute, Lucy?”
    Bree was always happy to help – unless she had a deadline to meet and the constant traffic threatened her ability to complete her work. This was one of those times. Expanding her screen for the third time, she stared at the confidential payroll information and tried to concentrate on w where she left off.
    “Oh, God,” she began, “could you please reduce my field a little bit, just for a few hours? Please, bless me a little less!”
    Jabez would not be pleased.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is the classic prayer of the overextended. It doesn’t help that her boss (the same one who demands the urgent work) sets her up for distraction. It sounds like her wish has been granted after the manner of the proverbial monkey’s paw. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You have no idea how this hit home with me. In Dallas I worked for a large company in the music business. i started out okay and could polish the job in an intense morning’s work. Then all hell broke loose. They gave me two offices, two jobs and two secretaries. I would walk across the hall back and forth all day, wearing two hats. When they hinted about me also being advertising manager as well, I walked.
        Thwy hired two people to replace me and I moved to San Antonio. Six months later they called “We need your help for one week, can you come.”
        I came anyway, they had fired both people ad wanted me back. Before I could open my mouth, my wife said,
        “I don’t think so.” God bless red heads.

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