Busted

You went to bed like any other night and were out like a log in minutes. But when you woke up, you weren’t at home. You were in a car (that wasn’t yours), wearing clothes (that weren’t yours), and holding a bag full of money (that wasn’t yours). Suddenly, a police car turns on it’s lights to pull you over. What do you do?

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298 thoughts on “Busted

  1. Mya

    Where am I? I’m driving a black van but to where? Who were these people counting a large sum of money? The sound of sirens finally reached my ears and I cast a glance at the rear-view mirror. Police cars, and not just that, but police choppers aiming their lights through the darkness at the car I’m driving. I started breathing heavily, I instantly forgot how to drive a car, and keeping my hands on the fighting wheel and foot on the unbalanced gas was a battle. “Myra, look at all this doe!” The man in the passenger seat erupted with laughter after finishing his statement. The broad figure leaned over to my side and pecked my cheek, “Great work everyone. Let’s do it again in another week.” Heat rose to the tips of my ears, the man clearly spotted this when the red and blue from the police sirens flashed across every other second. I just now noticed the two other humans in the backseat. “You alright Myra?” I nodded, thinking he was talking to me.

    “You should rest when we get back to the base; you’re not acting like your usual self.” I nodded again, not knowing what to say. I just kept going straight, unaware of where to turn or when to slow down. The police cars started to thin out and the chopper left about an hour ago after we left the city. “Alright Myra, I’ll take the wheel after another mile or two.” The only other female in the van spoke in an energy level deflating voice. “Yeah.” People are starting to suspect me, am I not acting like one should? Oh hell, I don’t even know what’s going on anymore, just yesterday I was in middle school worrying about my grades, and now I have large breast and a taller figure. Who am I? I am Mya, not a Myra; did they get my name wrong? And I am 12 years old, but now how old am I?

    “You can pullover now; Lien is ready to take the wheel.” Lien, I guess is the red head who spoke to me earlier. How do I pullover? Be like mom, be like mom. I slowed down and pulled over to the curb, completing to a smooth stop. “Man, you must not be feeling well.” Words solely directed at me from the last member to be mentioned. Pushing aside the door, Lien jumped out and I followed her lead. We switched roles and I was in her spot in the back seat while she was in mine. Miles passed and there were no signs of live other than us as we continued to drive down the single road. I checked the digital clock in between the driver and passenger seat, 2:41 A.M.

    I closed my eyes and placed my head against the window, the scenery passing by was entrancing. I nudged my foot a bit and could feel the money through my leather boots, I don’t wear boots. But whoever took away years of my life did. I have a hunch it is the ever unpleasant Mia. Whenever she comes into the picture, a world of war starts; if that isn’t enough then killing my parents was. But why would Mia take hold of my life? I know she’s practically part of me but this is going too far. Tears swelled in my eyes, thinking back on the years I could’ve had a life I missed out on due to another’s wish. But there was another problem at hand; did Mia create another split personality named Myra? Mia enjoyed taking the task of a trouble maker, being the devious side of me and all but was it necessary to create one more..? “Myra wake up, we’re here.”

  2. davidnelson1999

    “Mind Snatch”

    My alarm clock read 11:59 p.m. when I finally got home. I snuck in through the back door, gently closing it behind him. My parents weren’t exactly strict about my curfew if I came home late, provided I was sleeping in my bed when they woke up. If I woke them up while entering the house, they were a bit less lenient. Thankfully, there were no grunts or calls of my name, only steady snoring coming from my parents room.
    I breathed a sigh of relief and snuck over to my room. Typically, this would be when I spent about another hour doing homework and “studying,” which was essentially my excuse to keep up on TV shows and text friends. Tonight, though, was a Friday, and I had just come from a party with all my friends. All of my homework wasn’t due until Monday, and it was kind of an unwritten rule of high school students to finish all the homework sometime late on Sunday night anyway. Plus I was dead tired, and all I wanted to do was close my eyes and play log until sometime on Saturday afternoon. I laid down in my bed and curled up in my covers, plunking straight to the bottom of a sleep ocean.

    People don’t typically go straight from the bottom of the ocean to the surface. I’m pretty sure that causes things like decompression and lung explosion and eye popping, bad stuff like that. Usually they slowly float upwards to the surface, and, as long as they can hold their breath long enough, they’ll make it safely above the water. Waking up from a deep sleep is a lot like that, minus the breath holding and innard explosions. Typically, people wake up gradually, coming into consciousness little by little. People don’t typically wake up as a member of the opposite gender either. That’s not exactly “normal” as far as I can tell.
    Well, my experience in waking up wasn’t typical or normal in the slightest. In fact, in my opinion, it was just about as far from normal as waking up can get.
    My eyes snapped open, instantly alert. My body was pumping with adrenaline. I looked down, disoriented. I was sitting down. My hands were clenched on a steering wheel, my foot pressed on the gas pedal. I looked up in time to see blinding headlights through the windshield, the sound of a semi horn blaring in my ears. I swerved to the right. The semi clipped off my left rear view mirror as it passed.
    No, not my mirror. This wasn’t my car. The bag of money sitting in my lap wasn’t mine, although from the weight of it I really wished it was. That 9mm handgun sitting on the passenger seat and the body bag in the backseat wasn’t…body bag?
    I glanced in my mirror. Oh, crap. That wasn’t just an empty body bag.
    I looked back at the road, checking the speedometer. I was going 88 mph and gaining speed steadily. I loosened my foot on the accelerator, then tried to clear my head and get my bearings. Last thing I remembered was sneaking into my house, then crashing in my bed. As far as I remembered, I had fallen asleep, then…
    Were those my hands? I examined them, loosening my death grip on the steering wheel. They looked soft, the nails painted a kind of scarlet color. They looked extremely feminine.
    I looked in my rearview mirror again, this time focusing on my face and ignoring the dead form in the backseat. My hair was just about three times longer than when I had fallen asleep. I was wearing makeup, and my face was smooth and rounded. I looked down at myself, adjusting my position on the seat so the bag of money shifted from between my legs and slid off the seat. I was wearing a tight, low cut shirt, and from that I could tell that I had…well, I could tell that my body was a bit curvier than I remembered it.
    I directed my attention back to the road. Where was I even heading? I was surprised to find that I actually knew the answer to that question: I was heading to an abandoned shack about fifteen minutes from here. There would be a trapdoor in the shack that lead to a crawl space beneath, where I would put the money. The plan was to then crash the car in order to hide the body.
    Hm…what else did I know about this person I had become? I ran through memories that popped into my head. My name was Mia Longsam, I was 19 years old, a high school dropout, my favorite food was spinach and broccoli salad, and I had just tracked down a drug lord, killed him, and took his money along with his stash.
    I know, right? Who’s favorite food is spinach and broccoli salad? That’s just wrong.
    A siren behind me caused me to jump, and I saw flashing red and blue lights in my rearview mirror. I looked down at my speedometer. During my exploration of Mia’s head and memories, I had accelerated to well over the speed limit.
    Crap, I thought, going to pull over. Then I remembered something: I had a body in the backseat, a bag of drug money next to me in the passenger seat, and a stash of methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana in the trunk. Now was just about the worst time imaginable to be pulled over by the cops.
    I put pedal to the metal, cranking the speedometer up to 103 mph. We were on an open highway, so I didn’t have to worry about hairpin turns anytime soon.
    The cop behind me matched my speed, keeping close in hot pursuit. I kept my foot on the accelerator, steadily picking up even more speed. Strangely enough, I felt like a thousand bucks. My adrenaline levels were so high I felt like I was floating on air. I turned the radio on and cranked it up, classic rock blaring in the confines of the car. I threw my head back and laughed like a mad man.
    That was when I saw the construction zone directly ahead. It was too late to do anything about it. I crashed right into a bulldozer, the car flipping and skidding across the broken roadway.
    The last thing I heard was Freddie Mercury’s voice singing “Another One Bites the Dust.”

    Mia found herself in a darkened room. She sat up cautiously, looking around her. Had it worked? She’d tested it on hamsters and mice, but it was honestly hard to tell if one mouse had switched minds with another mouse. They didn’t exactly have distinct personalities, and it was hard to ask rodents whether or not they were still themselves.
    The last thing she remembered was narrowly escaping a police pursuit after tracking down a bunch of drug dealers and taking their loot. She’d done this before multiple times, but this was the first time she’d had to kill someone. Mia had panicked, and decided to try a crazy new escape tactic she’d been working on. It had either worked or she was in a heaven of some sort.
    There were posters on the wall, most of them for bands that were popular decades ago: Queen, Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd. Some called them classic. Mia considered them to be old person bands. If this was the music she’d be listening to for eternity, she definitely wasn’t in heaven.
    There was a dresser with a mirror to her left. Mia stood up and walked to the mirror to examine herself. She was a muscular young man, with messy black hair from just waking up and piercing blue eyes. She was wearing Spiderman Pajamas, of all things.
    Mia looked at herself a little while longer, then grinned, exhilarated. It had worked! Her experiments in the transfer of consciousnesses had paid off! She had successfully switched places with another human being!
    Mia quickly searched through her new host’s memories, figuring out who she was now. Her new name was Lewis Fritzman. She was a junior in high school, had a girlfriend named Hannah (that was going to be weird), loved classic rock (gross), played guitar in a band, and played football, wrestled, and ran track. She’d come home late last night from a party, but had escaped punishment from Mom and Dad, who’d been sleeping when she came in. As long as she checked in with them before heading to school, punishment would be avoided entirely.
    “Goodbye Mia Longsam,” Mia muttered to herself. “Goodbye years in prison, farewell criminal record. Hello Lewis!” Even if she was doomed to be a male jock and rocker in high school for now, it was better than having to continue life as Mia Longsam.
    Mia got herself dressed in her new clothes (a button up shirt was the only thing she could find that didn’t have old person bands on it) and continued through Lewis’s memories. After five minutes of this, Mia was confident that she knew all of the essential things about Lewis’s life that she would need in order to live as him.
    A look at the alarm clock on the nightstand told Mia it was 6:15 a.m. Lewis needed to get to school to practice with his band until 7, then have a “study group” with his buddy Zach, Zach’s girlfriend Jenny, and Hannah.
    Mia gathered up all of her textbooks and grabbed the guitar leaning against the wall, then peeked into her parents room.
    “Lewis,” Mom said tiredly, rolling over to look at Mia. “You made it home.”
    “Yup,” Mia said, shocked by how deep her voice was. That was going to take some getting used to. “I always do.”
    “Good, good,” Mom said, rolling back over in bed. “Remember to fill up the car before you come back home.”
    “Will do,” Mia said, then closed the door and ran out of the house, thrilled that her experiment had worked.
    As she pulled out of the driveway to the school, she thought of something she’d neglected to consider in her excitement. If she was in Lewis Fritzman’s consciousness, he must be in hers.
    “Sorry, Lewis,” Mia said, feeling slightly guilty. The feeling soon passed, though, and Mia drove off to begin her new life.

    “Ugh…”
    It was the only sound I could really make once I came to. I opened my eyes and blinked, then tried to sit up.
    “Ack!” That was the second sound I managed to make. I grimaced and laid back down, trying to relax. Where was I now?
    I was laying in a hospital, on one of those rather comfortable beds they have. I tried to turn my head, but my neck was in a brace. Instead, I looked around with my eyes. My entire body was a cast. An IV was hooked up to my arm, and I had a severe headache. Heck, I had a severe body-ache. Everything hurt, and I was pretty much helpless to do anything about it.
    I looked down at my bandaged hands. The nails were still painted red. I was still Mia Longsam.
    How did that even work? One minute I was sleeping in bed peacefully, grateful that I had managed to sneak back into my house. The next, I’ve killed a drug lord and stolen his loot. I’d say I was dreaming, only people typically wake up from dreams after they’ve crashed or fallen off the cliff or whatever.
    Then again, nothing about this whole ordeal had been very “typical.”
    I laid in the bed, utterly wasted and unable to do anything. I felt like a Philosophy or Art History Degree in college: completely worthless.

    Mia had been surprised by how well Lewis’s body had remembered to play the guitar. She had nailed solos, played complex loops perfectly, and felt good about the rehearsal as a whole.
    Now it was time for that study group. It started in about ten minutes, so Mia hurried to pack up all of the band stuff and started for the Library.
    When she arrived, Zach, Jenny, and Hannah were already there waiting for Lewis.
    “There he is!” Zach said, grin spreading across his face. “Ready to ‘study’ for that book report?” Lewis’s memories revealed that neither Zach or Lewis had read the book, but Jenny and Hannah had.
    Mia took a seat next to Hannah. Hannah put her hand out for Mia to take it. Mia hesitated, then took Hannah’s hand. Being Lewis was definitely going to be weird.

    I suddenly heard Zach’s voice in my dizzy and aching mind. “…study…book report…”
    “Zach?” I said, regretting it as soon as I did. My jaw was probably broken, and speaking really didn’t feel too good. I waited to hear more voices, but none came.
    I had just gone back to my Philosophy Major state when I hear another voice. It was Hannah’s. “You feeling ok?” I wanted to say “Yeah, life’s just peachy here in the ER,” but thought better of it. My body hurt enough already. She was just a voice in my head, anyway, so it’s not like she could hear me.
    Or could she?
    When people talked to you while you were sleeping, couldn’t you hear it in your dreams? If that was true, maybe I really was having a dream. An incredible, hard-to-wake-up-from, messed-up dream.
    I focused on the voices, trying to pull out of the dream. “Hannah?” I grunted, trying not to move my jaw. It didn’t matter, the pain still came. “Zach? Jenny? Can you guys hear me?” I decided to just ignore the pain. I was going to be waking up later anyway, right?
    “Zach!” I tried to yell, causing excruciating pain in my face. “Hannah! Somebody? Just wake me up!”

    Mia started developing a severe headache. She used her free hand to pinch the bridge of her nose and closed her eyes.
    Hannah squeezed her hand. “Lewis? You feeling ok?”
    “Yeah,” Mia said in Lewis’s voice, opening her eyes. “Yeah, I’m doing fine.” Not really, though.
    The headache was spreading to the rest of her body, affecting her jaw, her arms, and her neck. What was going on? Lewis was a jock, she remembered. Maybe he was just feeling the effects of yesterday’s workout. Then again, what kind of coach had you work out your jaw as part of the daily workout?
    Mia blinked, her vision blurring. She blinked rapidly for a few seconds to clear it.
    “Dude, are you sure you’re alright?” Zach asked, looking at Mia quizzically.
    “Sure, don’t worry about it,” Mia was getting agitated. What was with this pain? It just didn’t make sense. “Do any of you guys have any ibuprofen?”

    I suddenly caught a glimpse of something else: the school library. I was sitting with Zach, Jenny, and Hannah. Hannah was holding my hand. It seemed like we were doing our study group before school.
    The image started fading. I focused on it intently, clearing my mind of anything else. I imagined the school library in as much detail as I could remember. I thought of Zach, Hannah, and Jenny, the feeling of Hannah’s hand gripping mine. I was going to wake up, and I was going to wake up now.

    Mia jerked back, releasing Hannah’s hand and pressed both hands to her forehead. The pain had increased and spread to her entire body. She opened her body, but things were changing and getting weird, Instead of a table in front of her, she was seeing what looked like a hospital bed. She looked down and saw that her arms were wrapped in casts.
    What the heck was happening?

    I was almost awake, almost free from this dream. I could feel it. The image of the library was getting clearer, although I hadn’t paused to think of why I was in the library waking up and not my room. I probably fell asleep during study group or something.
    I felt my limbs getting less and less sore, my mind clearing. This was how normal people woke up, not at all like waking up in my dreams.
    I concentrated harder, feeling the casts leave my body and injuries heal. I was getting close now. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends all about my dream.

    Mia opened her eyes in excruciating pain. She tried to turn her head, but found the movement restricted by some kind of brace. She let her eyes roam about, taking in her new surroundings. She was in what looked like a hospital room, laying on one of the sickbeds.
    She looked down at herself. Even though most of her was covered by casts and bandages, she could see enough to know that she was once again Mia Longsam.
    She glared at the ceiling, realizing what her position was.
    Well crap, she thought to herself. Now I’m screwed.

    I came to my senses laying on the floor, Hannah, Zach and Jenny standing around me in a kind of circle, staring at me with concern.
    “Dude, what’s going on?” Zach said, concerned. “You sure you’re alright?”
    “Of course he isn’t alright, genius!” Hannah snapped, then turned back to me. “Oh my gosh, Lewis! What’s wrong?”
    I sat up, putting a hand to my head and shaking it to clear my thoughts.
    “I just didn’t get much sleep last night, I guess,” I said, not entirely sure what had happened myself. “I’m really feeling fine now, though. Man, I had the craziest dream last night…”

  3. keyhonay

    “Close”

    I closed my eyes and counted backwards. At zero I felt my mind shift and for a short time I was surrounded by darkness that seemed limitless. Then I opened my eyes and there where headlights coming at me. I realized as the lights sped towards me that I was in a car, I jerked the wheel to the right and swung out of the lane of the on coming traffic. A trucks horn blew as it passed me within inches of the driver’s side door. Then I was push back, but not physically but mentally pushed away from the controls of the body I was now in.

    It had worked, some how I had projected my self in to the driver of this car and I knew everything about him. His name was Kurt and he was high on methamphetamines. Kurt looked at a duffle bag lying on the passenger seat. I knew inside the bag was money and two kilos of meth. He had just killed two dealers and took their money and drugs. A 9mm handgun was under his right thigh.

    Two burps of a siren and a flash of red and blue in the night broke Kurt’s concentration and he looked up in to the review mirror. I saw a face different from mine, white, ratty blond hair and icy blue eyes. I push my self forward and the eyes became mine, a deep brown. Then I was pushed back, and the eyes changed back.

    Kurt pulled to the right and took the 9mm from under his leg and held it to his waist. I could see his thoughts. He would wait tell the cop was at the door and shot. The cop got out of the patrol car and walked up to the driver’s side door.

    “License and registration,” the cop was saying and I felt Kurt start to squeeze the trigger. I pushed my self forward inside Kurt’s mind and pushed the gun down. There was a flash of light and a loud bang in the car. I was pushed back again and Kurt screamed in pain. I felt a distant pain like someone was pushing a burring rod in to my leg. Kurt looked down at his leg a dark spot was forming on his jeans where the bullet entered his thigh.

    The cop had her gun out and was yelling something but I couldn’t make it out as Kurt’s ears where ringing. Again he raised his gun towards the cop, but the gun barley made it above the door when the officer opened fire. I could feel the each bullet burn as it entered his body.

    Then I sat up wide awake back in my own bed. Sure it was a dream, but latter I read the story, ‘Cop kills, murderer’ and it was just like I remembered it. One part that stood out was the cop’s statement, “When I first approached the driver I swore he had brown eyes when he shot himself in the leg, but they where blue.”

  4. soochybee

    One minute I’m snoring peacefully in my warm bed, content, with the rain dribbling rivulets down the window pane. Next minute I’m a deer in headlights. One blink, and everything familiar is gone. This isn’t my car, and I’m not wearing my well-worn old Beatles sweatshirt and tattered pajama bottoms, although this form-fitting black catwoman-esque suit certainly is flattering. Still not mine, though. Oh, and this heavy bag of money certainly isn’t mine….!!!!!

    Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe if I go very still I’ll fall back into the dreamless oblivion I’d been hoping for when I first took that sleeping pill tonight. I lean my head back against the rough material of my imaginary getaway car, and will myself back to my bedroom, curled up in bed with some hot cocoa and a book…

    I’m rudely disturbed by a sharp rapping on the window. I twitch and blink into the harsh glare of the policeman’s flashlight. Oh, and his urgent insistence that I get the hell out of the car and put my hands above my head. Not dreaming, then. I’m in too much of a daze to insist on my innocence, so I pretty much fall out of the car, big money bag and all.

    Questioning is a blur. I’m still groggy and tongue tied. Words still seem to evade me, so all I can do is watch them wheel in a ’40 inch plasma TV screen. The police officer seems all too pleased with himself as he expertly presses the remote and I get to watch myself rob a bank on the surveillance camera. Except I still have absolutely no recollection of any of it. Since I still have nothing to say, I am hauled off none too gently to a holding cell of my very own.

    I am sitting on a rough cement bench with my head in my hands, wondering how I got here, when a man in a suit walks in. I assume he’s my lawyer, so I scootch over and watch him settle down next to me. Something about his demeanor calms me, and I can finally speak. I look at him pleadingly.

    “Would you believe me if I said I didn’t do it?”
    I say, expecting him to laugh in my face. But there’s no laughter in his face when he looks at me. Instead, he opens his briefcase and hands me a pile of papers. I rifle through them and gasp. There are dozens of pictures of people who look exactly as I did earlier tonight, caught in the act of robbery, dazed and confused. There are headlines, too. Quite a few stating the suspect did not know how he/she got there. I look over at the men next to me questioningly.
    “This runs deeper than you think”, he says gravely.
    “We think that someone may be capable of controlling people who have taken this pill. And we need your help stopping them”.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a new twist; very clever idea, soochybee. It’s also well-told with a very good slow reveal.

      The only thing that would have helped (IMO) is a mention of the weather when the MC is driving. Is it still raining, or have things cleared up? I ask because you went to the trouble of mentioning it in the first sentence.

    2. lionetravail

      Work and deadlines have kept me away from most of last week and the weekend, but I’m going to work through all I can today. I agree with OT- love the take, and how succinct it is. I think it’s ultracomplete, and well done without a lot of un-needed explanation. Well done here!

      I also love the feeling of the the sentence: “Maybe if I go very still I’ll fall back into the dreamless oblivion I’d been hoping for when I first took that sleeping pill tonight.” Such a world-weariness expressed in a single phrase.

    3. Reaper

      Love the imagery in this. You did such a great job with describing the details. I didn’t notice until I saw Tim’s comment but that would be a nice touch. The story is interesting and leads to being a wonderful beginning of something very good.

  5. Pete

    I’d gone to bed last night in my usual spot in the backseat, using my jean jacket for a pillow and sharing a blanket with Collin as the radio hummed with the traffic. The Buick was parked around back with the trucks, and Dad smoked a cigarette, gazing out the window as cars swept in and out of the rest area.

    But now I was in a van, thumping along the interstate as the morning sun washed over the wet concrete. “Good morning sweetie,” Dad said to the rearview mirror. His voice was cheery and light, even through something like five state troopers were right on our ass. I peeked over at my little brother who was still sleeping like a lump. I was relieved and jealous that he always seemed to sleep his way through all of our little life-scarring adventures.

    It wasn’t until I grabbed for my jacket that I noticed I was wearing a dress. Or the sack of bills on the floorboard. Or that Mom had joined us after all and was sitting obediently in the passenger seat, staring out at the blur of trees like we we’re on the way to freaking Disneyland. Then she turned back to me.

    “I love that dress on you, sweetie,” Mom said, kind of creeping me out. I would ask why she changed me but I knew better. We were always changing. Cars. Hair. Schools. Clothes. Dad’s eyes appeared in the rear view again, then trailed off to the convoy behind us.

    “Oh yes, I do too, good choice, Rebecca.”

    I was maybe ten before I realized that other families weren’t like ours. Most people lived in houses, with beds and toilets and their fathers had jobs and attended church. Or something like that. My dad scoped our banks. I’d even gone with him before, when I was Collins age. I remember wearing pigtails and asking for a lollipop. Dad would smile and slide a note across the counter. Then we’d hustle out of the building and find Mom waiting to drive off. Talk about career day.

    But now I was wondering how I’d slept though the carjacking. But there was no time to dwell, especially as one of the cruisers inched up close to the van. I rolled my eyes.

    We can’t choose our parents, and those two fucking lunatics were as beautiful as they were deranged. Where my dad couldn’t work an honest day if he tried, that twinkle in his eye had always made me feel extra special. My mom couldn’t tell a frying pan from a mixing bowl, but she’d never once told me that she didn’t have the time to listen.

    But time was fleeting, because these next few minutes would be our last as a family. I looked over to Collin, sleeping so peacefully, his curly blonde hair falling over his ears. Hopefully they wouldn’t split us up. But then again, I sixteen, he was only seven.

    Dad slowed the van. Up ahead I saw more lights and a line of stopped traffic. He reached for the glove box, but Mom took his hand. Something in her face said that this was the end. Then Dad nodded. He surrendered.

    “Kylie, you know that we love you, right?”

    There was so much that I could say, but this wasn’t the time. “Yes Dad.”

    Streaks of blue lights surrounded the van. Dad shifted into park. Troopers took position, guns drawn on. Soon Collin wake to a new bed, with new clothes, and a new hope.

    I wiped a tear from my eyes. One day I would look back and maybe I’d hate them. Maybe I’d blame them for whatever mess I was sure to make out of my life. But right now, as the police moved closer and my Dad sat staring into my mother’s eyes, I wanted to stay in that van forever.

    1. jmcody

      This is some tight, focused and insightful writing. I would emulate this if I could figure out how. I don’t know how you come up with these heart wrenching and thoroughly original stories week after week, but keep at it, Pete. You are a gifted writer.

    2. cosivantutte

      Great story! I could feel the connection between the family members.

      I especially loved these two paragraphs:

      “Dad slowed the van. Up ahead I saw more lights and a line of stopped traffic. He reached for the glove box, but Mom took his hand. Something in her face said that this was the end. Then Dad nodded. He surrendered. ”

      “I wiped a tear from my eyes. One day I would look back and maybe I’d hate them. Maybe I’d blame them for whatever mess I was sure to make out of my life. But right now, as the police moved closer and my Dad sat staring into my mother’s eyes, I wanted to stay in that van forever.”

      They say a lot without diving face first into melodrama. Just perfect. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Pete, I just thought I knew how to write an emotional story but what I love about this forum is all the beautuful writers laying stories down for me to read and to learn from. Your’s is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. For you see, The word gifted, fits you to a T.

    3. Reaper

      A family as dysfunctional as the story is beautiful. As was said before, heart wrenching and so original. I’m a little envious of you right now. This is one of those stories that could have easily tipped into over the top and yet you kept it just perfect so it remained fascinatingly believable. Just, wow.

  6. cosivantutte

    This is a continuation of my previous story for this prompt. Sorry in advance for abusing the word “like”. 😀

    My life is a bouncing bowl of cherries all of the time. Most of the time. Well, certainly not right now. My life, right now, is like a slimy salad – wilted lettuce, squashed tomatoes, shriveled cucumbers – sludging everywhere. Dis–gus–ting.

    Why is it so bad you ask? Well, hello? Look at me. I’m dressed in this horrible GRAY sweatsuit. Like, ugh. Gray is so not my color. Gray isn’t anyone’s color. Except for those people who live in black and white movies, but seriously. Who in their rational mind wants to look like them? Not me.

    So, like, there I was sleeping away in my silky peach pj’s and this weird alien lady in gray leather bursts into my room and tells me to put this outfit on. She didn’t give me any 411. Just “Put this on and come with me.” Hello? It’s the middle of the night. I need my beauty sleep. Otherwise, I’ll wake up looking like Dr. Smith from Lost in Space. And I don’t mean the Gary Oldman Dr. Smith. Not that I’d want to look like him. Duh. I’m a teen-aged girl. Why would I want to look like a middle-aged man with a beard? I told weird alien lady what and she told me what right back. Only her what involved a gun in her hand.

    I tried to put my make-up and perfume on, so I could look somewhat decent. But nooo. She pointed her gun at me and ushered me out of MY room.

    So, now. Here I am sitting in an alien’s car. My hair is all undone. No make-up. No perfume. No jewelry. Ugh! I might as well be naked. Actually, being naked would be twelve million times better than wearing this dowdy get-up. I hope there aren’t any cute guys at our destination. Because that would be devastating.

    I look at my abductor. She has large eyes like those Avatar aliens. Only hers glow in the dark. She has gray skin, which is THE worst skin color ever.

    “We will reach our destination in 40.5 ekezas.” Like I know what that means. She looks at me. “I am sorry.”

    “Why?”

    “I haven’t told you much about our mission.”

    I scoff. “Much? Like, you haven’t told me anything. Just go rob this bank and come back to our tricked out wood burning Volkswagen.”

    “Driver, stop.”

    The driver stops the car.

    She turns in her seat and faces me. “I will tell you now. Tonight, a member of the rebel group Bazinga came and retrieved Lord Deama from his exile. We must stop him from reclaiming the fiefdom.”

    I wish I had grabbed my nail polish. Because this is a prime nail polishing moment. “Sounds like this would be your problem. Not mine.”

    “But Lord Deama is evil incarnate.”

    “Not my problem.”

    “If he reclaims the fiefdom—”

    I plug up my ears and tune her out with a steady singsong of “Not my problem. Not my problem. La la la. Not my problem.”

    She shuts up and sits there all lumpy-loggish.

    I smirk and unplug my ears. “So, now that we’ve established that your problem is not my problem—”

    “Lord Deama has been living here under the assumed name of Jack Jilhouse.”

    My mouth like totally drops open. “Jack Jilhouse? The Jack Jilhouse who told me ‘Oh, no. I can’t come to the prom with you. I have to WEED MY FREAKIN’ GARDEN!’?”

    “Uhhh. Yes?”

    “Ooo! Give me a sword and I’ll whack his freakin’ head off.”

    “Driver, you may continue.”

    As the car started up, I kept on going, “It’s not like that’s the only offensive thing he’s done. Oh, no. He’s done worse things than that. Why, just last week—”

    A police car appears behind us, flashing lights and screaming sirens.

    “Driver, faster please.”

    The driver stomps on the gas pedal.

    “You know, there’s a legal term for this sort of thing.”

    “I know.”

    “It’s like called evading the law or something like that. Anyway, it totally is illegal.”

    “So is robbing a bank.”

    “Hey! That was your idea, not mine.”

    The police car pulls up next to us. “Pull over now.”

    “Driver, now.”

    The car speeds forward insane crazy fast until it launches up into the night sky.

    ***

    Officer Greyfuss stops his car. He steps out and watches the car fly away. “Darn!” He takes off his hat and throws it on the ground. “Second one tonight. The boys at the station will never believe this.”

    1. Reaper

      This is so over the top and just kind of awesome. I kept laughing and could completely buy your MC. She was like, a totally real caricature. That last bit reminded me of the cruising aliens form Douglas Adams who buzz people that nobody will ever believe. A very enjoyable read.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is really cool, Cosi. I love the voice of your MC! Good thing there was something that made it personal. I’m curious about the grey, but maybe the aliens don’t see colour the way we do.

      I wonder what’s going to happen when she meets up with ‘Jack’.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks! I was worried that her attitude would come off as too flippant or too callous. As for why she had to change into the gray sweatsuit thing…Maybe it will help her blend in on their home turf? Maybe bright colors hurt their eyes?

    3. jmcody

      I went back and read your first response before reading this. I love the turn you’ve taken with this campy teen scifi sendup. I could like, totally see this on the big screen two very good looking Disney protégées.

      The dialogue in both installments was snappy and colorful. I think you have a new saga in which to invest your displaced Edwin/RDJ energy. Your writing is always lively and fun, Cosi.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks for the compliments, jm!

        I don’t know if she and Jack will take over the Edwin/RDJ saga, but I really enjoyed writing in her voice and attitude. I will definitely write another story with her in the lead. Maybe once she catches up to Jack. 😀

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      The most realistic take on the prompt I’ve read so far- which Barbie pink, smartphone-addicted teenage girl wouldn’t be pissed to leave the house without the protective cover of make-up and rob a bank to get one over the guy who dumped her with such a lame excuse? Enjoyed it, like, really a lot. Sympathize fully with Offier Greyfuss.

      Thanks for posting, cosivantutte!

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        As I was coming to the end of this story, I knew two things: I wanted the cop to be the same one that chased Jack’s car. And, I wanted to end the story from the cop’s point of view. To be honest, I was thinking about the original The Shaggy Dog movie where the cop had to report a car stolen by a large shaggy dog. 😀

  7. Bilbo Baggins

    WATCH THE EAGLES

    The first thing I notice is the ice, spread all along the road in thin sheets interspersed with grey stripes of dirt. Fog hangs around the night sky, trees rising like stolid giants from unplowed fields. My hands are clutching a wheel, guiding around a vehicle more responsive and enclosed than a cart. Plus, I have no idea where the horses pulling it are.

    “Stupid snow. Now I’ll be late for sure!”

    What the…? The voice is not my own, ringing around my head like a ricocheting bullet. The floor rumbles underneath me, and I struggle for control, can feel the entire mechanism sliding dangerously towards the grass.

    My foot tilts downward against my will, onto a pedal, and I leap forward, fences flying by. It dawns on me I must be inside one of those old enginees, it has the same gears and pedals. But, only rich councilmen can afford them. And I’m not in their flowing red robes, but a blue cloth shirt with a hood.

    I’m believing this is all a dream, a fantasy until a shrill siren opens up behind me. My, I mean the other guy’s hands adjust the rearview. I can see flashing blues and reds on top of what looks like a pent cap’s farget. But my host doesn’t slow down, keeps barreling over the ice.

    “Shit! Gary’s not going to be happy about this.”

    Finally he slows, needles winding down on the carsill. Pulling over onto the side bunk, my seat shudders again, tires crackling. It’s also only then that I notice the bag opened loosely on the other side of the cabin, filled with thin sheets of green paper.

    I, I mean he, lets the window slide down. A bearded officer’s there, glaring at me with a flashlight, huddled in the cold.

    “Do you know how fast you were going?”

    “Around 60… But there’s no one else around,” the driver responds in his lilting tenor. I try to recognize the voice, piece together what’s happening, but it’s out of reach.

    The officer sees the sack, straightens with suspicion.

    “You are aware all paper money is to be confiscated under the orders of the council?”

    My head’s turned to the seat and back again. Suddenly our hearts together are beating so fast I feel like I’m in bed once again, reaching for mother’s arms. But it goes on.

    “Certainly, officer.” He takes one hand off the steerer.

    The enginee accelerates rapidly, a roaring sound that grows like a beast to encompass me. The lights bounce off against a bridge, tall stone towers. A jarring pop from a back wheel turns the vehicle around into a spin. Green papers fly about the cabin as the remaining tires skid off the snow and into the empty air.

    A plate flies onto the window, EAGLE 02, before chilled bubbles burst into view. In the wet darkness, my stomach jumps and then it’s all over.
    ___________________________________

    It takes me longer than usual to crawl out from my tear-stained sheets and go downstairs. Father’s in the kitchen flipping eggs from our chickens in a pan. I enter silently, place my hands on the wood counter.

    “Does the license ‘EAGLE 02‘ mean anything to you?”

    A yolk lands with a sizzle, and he stands there in silence, peering at me for a few moments.

    Without warning, he takes me from the house across the whitened yard to the workshop. Coughing from the smell of gunpowder and smelting metal, I watch as he throws back a tarp. Revealed underneath is an old enginee, the doors and frame rusted.

    “Is this what you were in?”

    My eyes notice the dull ornament on the hood– an eagle with outstretched wings as it had soared over the bridge. That thick sense of fear returns again, but father puts his rough hand on my shoulder, leads me out the door. I can hear water, a river, and the birds scatter from the frosted limbs, give us space.

    “Let me tell you about the Switch.”

    (For those of you who remember, this is the prologue/backstory to my response for the One Shot prompt a couple months ago. Just decided to tie this in with it.)

    1. jmcody

      This seems to be an interesting blend of future dystopia and rural middle American nostalgia, which is a pretty good formula (ahem, Hunger Games). There were some things I didn’t understand, so I went back and read the “One shot” prompt (which was beautifully written, by the way). I even googled “Enginee” but I couldn’t figure it out. (Google insisted it was “engineer.”) So I’m a little mystified, but hooked enough to read on to find out the answers. Intriguing writing as always, Bilbo.

      1. Bilbo Baggins

        Thanks, jm. As you can tell by my miniature plotline I wrote out earlier, this is set in the future, so I made up some of the terms, like enginee (a fancy name for a vehicle with a self-propelling combustion engine), a pent cap (a police officer), and a farget (a police cruiser). It was totally fun writing this, I might have to do a sequel.

    2. Reaper

      Now I have to go back and read the other story. Intense and beautiful writing Bilbo. The jump from the removing of the hand to the end of the dream caught me off guard but I feel like you meant to do that. Some of the words also seem specific to your story, which creates a wonderfully unique world. Honestly most of them made sense from context and the ones that I wasn’t sure about just made me want to read more. Great story.

    3. Observer Tim

      I love the way you built the world, the suspense, and the backstory all at the same time. I’ve gotten used to your historical takes, but this one is even more up my alley than those.

      I thought the universe seemed familar, and your comments confirmed it. Now I have to go back and read the One Shot prompt again, too. Feel free to keep this story going (like you need my permission, ha).

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m jumping in with Tim here and plead his case for a cotinueous sequel At first I thought it might be a horse draw sleigh you were describing skidding along along fresh fallen snow. I can’t think of a better word to describe this than beautiful. Great one, Bilbo. .

  8. jmcody

    WHAT VIOLET WANTED

    Lizzette dug the toe of her boot into the damp carpet of fallen leaves, their fiery hues already moldering to late November brown. This was the spot. She knew it. She had seen it, clear as day. She raised her shovel, hesitating for a moment before plunging it into the soft, yielding earth.

    ***

    Lizzette couldn’t remember the last time she had gotten a decent night’s sleep without waking in heart-pounding, sweat-drenched terror. Each time, the dream would fade as soon as she woke, leaving her with a sickening sense of having done something unspeakable.

    “But I’ve never done anything really bad,” she lamented to her therapist. “Free floating shame” Dr. Eckleberg had diagnosed, caused no doubt by her overly critical parents. She prescribed Xanax for Lizzette’s anxiety.

    But still the dreams came and Lizzette slept less than ever. And when she and Adam moved from Manhattan out to Long Island, the dreams became a waking nightmare.

    At first the sprawling Tudor cottage perched on a bluff over Long Island Sound charmed Lizzette with its romantic Gold Coast history. It had been the carriage house to a mansion that had long since succumbed to a crumbling economy and a wrecking ball. But Lizzette could picture the parties that must have happened there, the Gatsby-era roadsters and speedsters lined up across the gas-lit cobblestone floor of the carriage house. Sometimes she could swear she heard familiar strains of music wafting over from the big house, glasses clinking and laughter. It was comforting somehow. It felt like home.

    At first the flashes were like snapshots, fleeting images: A Packard with a rumble seat. A beautiful dark haired girl. A Tommy gun with a polished burl handle. Bathtub gin and wads of hundred dollar bills. Dr. Eckleberg called them “micro dreams” and said they were the result of sleep deprivation. She prescribed Ambien to help Lizzette sleep.

    The still photos began to run together into silent movies, and then into talkies. Always there was the girl, with her smoldering, kohl-rimmed eyes and perfect cupid’s bow mouth. Damn, that Violet is one gorgeous dame, Lizzette heard herself think one day, and then she understood: She had become the star of the movie. But she was not Lizzette, high strung Manhattanite lately of Long Island; she was Henry, of the Packard and Tommy gun, lover of the smoky eyed, ruby lipped, slim hipped Violet.

    “You are overwrought,” Dr. Eckleberg said, and wrote Lizzette a prescription for Valium.

    Lizzette could feel Henry’s passion for Violet – violent and intense, but tinged with fear. Violet wanted too much. She knew too much. And worst of all, she talked too much. The movies grew darker, brooding and angry, until one day Henry slapped Violet, knocking her ornate pearl and ostrich feather headband to the floor of the Packard.

    “Baby, I’m sorry…” Henry/Lizzette looked at the floor where the headband lay, its art-deco marcasite pin glimmering in the moonlight, and then at Violet’s precisely placed finger waves and pin curls, and she remembered: She had seen these images – all of them — in her dreams. She knew exactly what was going to happen next.

    “Something awful is going to happen – or has happened…” was all she could bring herself to tell Dr. Eckleberg, who promptly wrote her a prescription for Prozac.

    ***

    Lizzette dug in the spongy earth until she felt the clang of metal against metal. Kneeling, she clawed at the dirt with her hands until she could make out faded yellow letters on a rusty black tin: “Astor Coffee.” Prying the lid off the ancient tin Lizzette pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills. There had to be tens of thousands of dollars– a fortune in 1923. She tossed it aside as something else caught her eye, a gleam of metal and rhinestones in unmistakable art-deco style. Images flashed before her as she brushed the dirt off the marcasite pin: a fight, a slap, a struggle, the polished burl handle of a Tommy gun against Violet’s delicate skull…

    The police arrived without sirens as Lizzette had requested. She didn’t know what she was going to tell them. She couldn’t tell them about the dreams, but then how would she make them know the truth about Henry and Violet? After all, it’s what Violet wanted. And that’s what it was all about, what it had always been about – what Violet wanted.

      1. jmcody

        Thank you Bilbo. I love historical fiction too. Hard to imagine that someday the age that we’re living in now will take on the nostalgic patina of time and distance and will seem interesting or romantic enough to tell stories about. Actually I think so many stories will come out of our age, but they won’t be romantic.

    1. Amyithist

      If you could see me, I am giving you a standing ovation! This is priceless and superb and magnificently written. Your descriptions painted across my mind’s eye; like a canvas at the hand of a truly gifted artist. I could see the imagery, feel the anxiety and desperation of Lizzette as Violet tugged at her psyche. No matter the drug prescribed, the past discrepancies of Lizzette/Henry could not, would not, be forgotten. This could go so many ways. It could flow into a truly heart wrenching and awe inspiring novel. Sometimes these prompts offer a gateway for something more and I think…NO, I KNOW this is one of those prompts for you, JM. Very well done. Thank you for the nice read on an otherwise bleak lunch break.

      1. rle

        And then she came roaring back!! Wow JMC, I think I speak for many of us when I say I’ve really missed your responses to these prompts and this one illustrates exactly why. As Amyithist said your descriptions on this one were fantastic. I particularly liked ‘…leaves, their fiery hues already moldering to late November brown.’ and ‘…lover of the smoky eyed, ruby lipped, slim hipped Violet.’ BTW, where did you come up with the name Lizzette? I don’t recall ever having heard that one before, very unique.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          We’ve missed your talented writing JM. This is a perfect example why. Again, i echo the descriptive art you use. My favorite, “the headband lay, it’s art deco marcasite pin glimmering in the monlight.” This story has so much packed in it, you can take it anywhere.

          1. jmcody

            I have missed you too Kerry! What’s a week without a Kerry story in it??? But I have been reading a bit, so I haven’t totally missed out. I’ll still be around even if I’m not posting. Life just gets overwhelming once in a while, but I am thinking this is my happy place.

            Thanks for the kind words.

        2. jmcody

          Thanks, rle. I’ve missed being here too. Life gets in the way, as you know. But there is something about this that is hard to give up, whether it’s the positive feedback or just the sheer joy of creating something and sharing it with appreciative others. Thanks for always being so encouraging.

          I got the name from someone I work with named Lizzeth, which to me seems so distinctive. I googled it and found out that it is actually a common name in Latino families. I didn’t want my MC to have any particular ethnic identity because that was not important to the story, so I changed it to the slightly more bland Lizzette. But I still think Lizzeth is interesting — sort of a cross between Lilith and a Lizard, or maybe Thin Lizzy if they had been around in Shakespearian times. Or whatever. 🙂 I like to play around with names, obviously. Thanks for noticing!

      2. jmcody

        Thank you so much for this enthusiastic and gratifying response, Amyithist. I have been wondering what the heck I am doing here and thinking that I have been wasting my too-scarce time — time that I should be spending on kids, work, etc. But you make me want to continue. I never considered the fact that I might be able to write a novel, or even a short story, but comments like this make me want to try.

    2. cosivantutte

      I love the descriptions in this story. I especially like the pattern of “the smoky eyed, ruby lipped, slim hipped Violet”.

      The ending is nice and thought provoking. How can she tell them about Henry and Violet without mentioning what she saw in her dreams/visions?

    3. Reaper

      I think this may be perfect. Everything everyone else has said were thoughts I had in one form of another. The imagery and the wording were so amazing I can’t even pick a favorite line or image. I loved them all so much. You sucked me into this story so completely and perfectly it left me breathless. I also loved the commentary through the doctor. Spouting psychological cliches and prescribing drugs instead of trying to get to the heart of the matter. So deep and lovely.

      1. jmcody

        Perfect, no, but the fact that you liked it this much makes me very, very happy Reaper.

        You know, it’s funny, I keep saying I’m probably not going to be able to write much any more — because of, you know, life and all — but this story just kind of materialized for me. I literally dreamed part of it, if you can believe that. It’s like my subconscious is saying “Oh no you aint goin’ nowhere, lady.” (Finger wag.) 🙂 Thanks for giving me this gigantic smile that I am wearing right now.

    4. Nicki EagerReader

      Great piece of writing. I love how you structured the story by using the therapist and her prescriptions- it infused the story with just the right shade of back humor. The balance between what you said and what you left cowering between the lines was also just right. Very well done.

      1. jmcody

        Thank you Nicki EagerReader for your thoughtful feedback. I hadn’t thought of the prescriptions as being humorous, except maybe in the sense of being ironic or even pathetic. But I guess it is sort of funny in a dark way. I thought of them as kind of a sad statement on the times in which we live, the lengths to which we’ll go to avoid taking responsibility for our lives and our choices and our denial of the shadowy, mysterious side of life.

        I looked for a story from you but didn’t see one. I’ll be on the lookout for one from you!

    5. lionetravail

      This is a wonderful, luxurious, ghost story: the pacing of it is wonderful, the personal toll on Lizzette is cynically presented as she is misdiagnosed… but of course there is no ICD9 code for “spooky, supernatural revelations”. Though it is a ghost story about Violet and Henry, it’s absolutely a very personal, human tale about Lizzette. Delicately done, JM!

  9. Amyithist

    The lights of the police cruiser flashed wildly in my rear view mirror. Already a bundle of nerves, the sight sent my anxiety soaring through me and I suddenly found myself struggling to stay conscious. “Fuck,” I muttered, glancing around the cab of a car I didn’t recognize. I still hadn’t been able to determine how I’d ended up in the damn thing; let alone what I was doing in the expensive silk gown hugging my curves or the Manolo Blahnik heels clinging to my frozen feet.
    With chattering teeth and trembling limbs, I turned to gape at the officer as he approached the side of the BMW. His eyes seemed to rake over me with mild disgust; the words Rich Bitch practically dribbled from his lips as he forced a smile. “Good evening ma’am. License and registration.”
    Something about his voice sent a firecracker of fear through me; so familiar, yet, I couldn’t place him. His face was hard but handsome and his muscular frame gripped the polyester blend of his uniform as though it were a wetsuit. The raw animalistic attraction I felt toward him caught me off guard. I wasn’t the type of woman to swoon at just anyone. There had to be something there; something beyond mild familiarity…
    “Just a moment, officer.” My voice sounded as smooth as honey, despite the near seizure I was having on the inside. I reached across the console and flipped the glove-box open, gasping as a gun clattered into the leather seat beside me.
    Panicked, I looked up to the officer, waiting for him to draw on me. The smile he offered was not only a complete, albeit welcoming, surprise but it was also disarming. Confusion and gratitude mingled through the fog of anxiety and I returned the smile. “I’m not going to lie, officer. I have no idea what’s going on here.”
    The man cocked a brow and dropped his notepad to his side. “Don’t worry,” he replied. His tone was soft and willowy now. “The serum will wear off in a moment and you’ll remember everything.”
    He took a step closer and my heart leapt into my throat. “What’s going on?” I asked breathlessly. The anxiety gripped me harder and I felt as if I were going to pass out. “Wh-who are you?”
    The door clicked open and the icy night air shot over me. I gasped as the man pulled me from the car. His arms gripped me close to him and the scent of aftershave and mint chewing gum enamored my senses. “You thought you could just get away from me?” He cooed. The words were dangerous, but they sounded so alluring…
    “Jack?” His name suddenly found its way to my tongue. His eyes lit with gratification. His grip tightened as memories started to flood through me. The asshole I knew Jack Phillips to be suddenly pulsed through my mind. “What the hell is going on?” I cried. The vulnerability and fear suddenly melted away. In its stead was the steady, coolheaded spy I knew myself to be. An image of me next to the newly appointed head of security flashed through my mind…
    The gala had been a magnificent veneer; every scum sucking politician from Washington State to Washington DC had been stuffed into the room. My only focus was Senator Wellington of Pennsylvania; a confirmed informant for the Russian government, my orders were to take him out. With whatever means necessary.
    I slid my hand down the length of the silk cocktail gown, smiling as the tips of my fingers touched the syringe dosed with a powerful sedative. I slipped from the lingering glares of old money and stale agendas. Striding gracefully toward the buffet table where Wellington was parked, I could feel the familiar surge of adrenaline slice through my gut. This is it, I thought. Don’t fuck it up…
    But I did. Somehow, I’d gotten so focused on Wellington that I hadn’t seen Jack…or his own syringe tucked carefully into the sleeve of his tux. My eyes sharpened on him as he squeezed me tighter. “You sonofabitch,” I seethed, wrenching my body. His grip was too strong.
    “A mixture of scopolamine and propranolol,” he said, referring to the serum he’d plunged into my upper shoulder at the gala. “Also known as Missing Memory X; still under investigation but showing great promise for its classified capabilities.”
    “What about Wellington?” I spat, still struggling to get free.
    He grinned deeper. “He still has one more thing to do. New orders, Vivian. Came down minutes before the gala started. Don’t take it personally,” he said, smiling wider.
    I wanted to hate him. I wanted to slap the taste out of his mouth; but as his hands softened around the curves of my body, I found another emotion taking over me. Passion and lust snaked through me. I moaned as his lips found mine. “Does this mean you forgive me?” He breathed between probing kisses.
    “We’ll see how the rest of the night goes,” I muttered. I smiled slightly, hating myself for allowing my loins to override my logic yet again. I knew I’d wake up alone tomorrow morning. I knew Jack Phillips would always put his career ahead of whatever the hell this thing between us was…but there was only one thing I was ahead of a spy. And that was a woman.

    1. rle

      This feels a lot to me like the foundation for a really good thriller. As seems to be the standard with you, I found the writing clean, crisp and engaging. Another great job!

    2. jmcody

      I agree with RLE — You definitely have the beginnings of a great spy thriller here. It made me think of “True Lies.” The tension and attraction between the antagonists was palpable and entertaining. I wanted to read more! Nicely done.

    3. Reaper

      Well, Amyithist, I have to say. This is very different for you and still has all the raw emotion and visceral storytelling that make it your own. Loved the story, loved the wordplay. From Washington state to Washington DC and I slipped from the lingering glares of old money and stale agendas being two of my favorites. Beautifully written and disturbingly hot. Great job as always.

    4. Observer Tim

      Wow. This reads like a middle chapter in a steamy spy thriller, while at the same time being a story in itself. You did an excellent job with the slow reveal of the story and the tension.

      I’ve just been reading a book called “Dangerous Women” (edited by George RR Martin & Gardner Dozois). This story belongs in it more than some of the entries that are in the book.

    5. lionetravail

      This really did feel like a different direction for you- nicely done! This line is the most provocative, evocative, and awesome line of the great story (at least IMHO): “I slipped from the lingering glares of old money and stale agendas.”

      I think you’ve got something here, and applaud you for taking the risks with this! If I have one suggestion, some of the transitions through the story felt a little like you were forcing it to align with the prompt… something we all do here. If you explore this story further, I’d recommend loosening those restrictions so your narrative flows even more smoothly.

      I love the feel of the strong female character who recognizes her own flaws and just rolls with them 🙂

  10. originalalchemist

    Highway Hypnosis
    I sat in the diner eating my late breakfast of over easy eggs and slightly burnt wheat toast. Just the way Sarah used to make. Between bites I took sips of black coffee and cursed myself for waking up late. I needed to be on the road or I’d never make my meeting in Chicago for my grant proposal. I signaled the waitress for the check as an older gentleman sat down in the booth. His hand flicked the crumbs off his table with a delicate and nonchalant wave. I raised an eyebrow as he held my gaze.
    “Do you ever wish you could do it all different?” he asked still with eye contact.
    “Um…I’m sorry I don’t know you.” I answered unsure of myself.
    “It is a simple question Ryan. Do you ever wish you could do things differently?”
    He knew my name. How the hell did he know my name? I looked around the diner searching for the waitress. I didn’t want to be here anymore.
    “Just answer the question young man. Do you wish you could do it all differently?” he repeated as the waitress strolled up to the table.
    “Oh hey Nick, when did you get in?” she asked with familiarity as she placed my check down.
    “Only just a moment ago Maggie. Didn’t know you were working today too,” he replied warmly as he picked up my check. “Let me take care of this for our friend here.” He placed a hundred dollar bill and the check in Maggie’s apron pocket and told her to keep the change.
    “You are just the best Nick!” She gushed with Midwestern warmth, and then pranced away.
    “Hey thanks, but I don’t really know what you mean. I um…should really be going. I’m already going to have to make up some time on the road. I really appreciate it…Nick was it? Anyway, I will make sure to pay it forward or whatever.” I said hurriedly while grabbing up my coat.
    The old man stood up rather quickly and blocked my exit. He placed his hands firmly on the table and top of the booth and leaned in close.
    “You still need to answer me Ryan. Do you ever wish you could do it all differently?”
    “Jesus, man! Yes! I do I really do. Is that what you want to hear? I do. Now can I go?!” I snapped.
    “Have a nice drive.” He smiled and casually walked away.
    I composed myself as he walked out the door. Nobody in the place seemed to have noticed our strange interaction. I made my way to my car as I looked around the lot for the old man. I found no sign of him. Getting into my word down old compact car I had to tell myself to shake it off. I needed to be focusing on my proposal. I tried to but that old Nick guy kept creeping into my thoughts. I couldn’t stop thinking about the whole thing as I passed the sign that said I had 50 miles until I reached Chicago. My mind drifted again as I turned on the radio.
    I came to as I passed a sign informing me that I was leaving the Chicago city limits. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes as I tried to clear some of the fog. As the focus came back I realized the steering wheel was different. What the hell was a fancy logo like that doing on my old piece of…..wait the whole car was different. Stained cloth seats were replaced with rich leather. The instrument panel and radio were now impressive looking touch screen displays. I then noticed that my wrinkled second hand suit had turned into a fine three piece with cuff links and a silk tie. My left wrist was weighted down by a fancy looking watch. In the passenger seat was a bag overflowing with hundred dollar bills. What the hell? I don’t own anything remotely nice. Where did I get a bag of money? I caught a glimpse of myself in the rear view mirror and swerved to the side of the road and stopped. My hair was back. A full, thick head of black hair had grown in from where it once had been receding. My eyes were no longer baggy and I had youthful smooth skin that was devoid of the five o’clock shadow that resulted from waking up too late to shave that morning.
    I opened the bag of money and realized it was stack upon stack of hundred dollar bills. There had to be almost a million dollars in there. I closed the bag and set it back in the seat. I realized there was a newspaper on the floor board in front of the seat and reached down to pick it up. The date read November 16th. Wait that was two days from now. The cover story was a picture of police standing around a car that was identical to mine. Yellow tape partitioned it off from a crowd. The head line read “Mystery Man Found Dead in Diner Parking Lot”. What is going on? As I kept reading the article revealed that an older man had been found dead in the trunk of the car. Police were reviewing camera footage for a person of interest. So far no leads have developed.
    I dropped the paper. This was all too weird. Glancing back at the radio display I saw that it said the date was November 17th. Had I truly lost three whole days? Suddenly a ringing sound came out of the speakers and startled me out of my thoughts. The center display said incoming call from unknown. Maybe I shouldn’t answer it, but I really need some answers. I push the phone button on the steering wheel. I don’t say anything, but just listen.
    “I’d say this is different. Wouldn’t you Ryan?” the old man’s voice asked from the speakers. “No doubt, you have some questions. I’m sure you’d like me to answer them. Well my boy, you’re going to have to earn that.”
    “What did,” I began before being promptly cut off.
    “No. No I will not answer any questions now. As I said you will have to earn your answers. Now I have set the navigation in the car for you. There are several points. You may wish to carefully consider the order in which you visit them. At the very end of your journey you will meet me, and if by then you still have questions I will certainly answer them. I have provided you all the tools necessary for your task, everything from money to something a little more direct in the glove box. I look forward to seeing you soon. Have a nice drive.” The phone hung up.
    Curiously I opened the glove box. Inside were a pistol and a box of bullets. Fine, let’s see where this goes. I shut the glove compartment and pulled up the navigation screen. Several points showed up and I randomly clicked on one and began the drive. I was ready for my answers.

    1. Reaper

      This promises to be intense. I’m not sure if Nick is the devil or not but since you referred to him as old Nick at one point I assume that’s where you’re going. Either way this is a wonderful beginning. Some tense changes in the middle but very minor. Lovely writing.

      1. originalalchemist

        It has been so long since I’ve had time to write for fun, but this prompt really worked for me. Half way through it I decided to go back and change the old man’s name to Nick. I thought a nice nod to a deal with the devil would be fun. I can tell where I made several tense shifts and also a few spelling errors now that I’ve read it with fresh eyes. Thank you none the less Reaper!

    2. james.ticknor

      It is a very well developed, plot driven story. I was entertained. However, there were a few things I noticed that I think are worth mentioning.

      The first thing that stuck out in my mind was how you exaggerated the uncomfortable feeling in the beginning. I could tell by the character’s speech he was nervous. Also, the waitress’s attitude wasn’t conducive to the feeling you were trying to establish. I’m not a big fan of adjectives, but you used the same one twice in a short period of time (warmly). Lastly, you said the newspaper date was the 16th, but then shortly after said it was the 17th.

      Again, great story and a great warm-up writing session.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is an excellent teaser; I can easily see it expanding into either a thriller, a horror story, or something mind-bendingly SF. You did a great job setting the atmosphere, and old Nick is an interesting plot driver.

      Very well done!

    4. jmcody

      Thus proving the old adage that there is no such thing as a free lunch, or breakfast either.

      Speaking of breakfast, opening lines are so important, but yours only served to make me queasy and did nothing to whet my appetite for the rest of the story, which was so much more interesting than greasy fried eggs and burnt toast.

      Once I got past the unappetizing breakfast, the rest of the story was quite tasty and left me wanting more. It definitely sounds like something sinister is going on and your MC is in for the ride of his life. Imaginative and interesting, Al.

      1. lionetravail

        I liked the story a lot, and agree with JM’s comment about the breakfast… but your second sentence “Just the way Sarah used to make” totally made it work for me. I found it set the tone for a nostalgic guy at a depressing state in his life, who is ripe for the “offer” which comes along.

        I think the sad picture of this guy slumped over a crappy breakfast- and yet it’s a breakfast which prompts the positive memories of Sarah and evokes happier times- is a perfect intro to the story. Nice!

  11. rle

    Not sure how I feel about this one, but I thought I’d run it up the flagpole anyway.

    ———————————————————————–

    Jamie Martins right foot pressed down hard on the accelerator, so hard in fact, he actually thought there was a reasonably good chance he might push it clear through the firewall, but he didn’t dare ease up. This was desperation. His legs felt peculiar and almost exposed in the pair of tan slacks he wore. Where had he even come up with slacks? He was more of a blue jeans and tee shirt kind of guy. Then there was this car. Where in the hell had he commandeered a jet black Dodge Challenger? He drove a Chevy pickup. However, his primary concern was riding shotgun; a red and black duffel bag filled to the top with stacks of hundred dollar bills. He usually barely had enough to make next months rent.

    Jamie scanned the midnight highway ahead of him; not another car in sight. He stole a quick glance in his rear view mirror. Every state trooper, sheriffs deputy and one stoplight town cop in three parishes were strung out behind him in hot pursuit. Jamie continued pushing the Challenger to it’s limit. He had to try to figure a way out of this, whatever THIS was. With each passing mile, the chances of a positive outcome were becoming increasingly bleak. How had all of this started?

    * * *

    Jamie Martin had never been able to handle his liquor so by and large, he just avoided it altogether. But once or twice a year, he’d gather up three or four buddies from the bayou and they’d all go out on an epic bender. Tonight had been one of those nights, or at least that’s how it had started.

    Jamie distinctly remembered arriving at their favorite bar, a little hole in the wall joint called The Gaping Gator. He remembered ordering atomic hot wings and drinking beer. He recalled singing Toby Keith’s ‘I Love This Bar’ on the karaoke machine and drinking more beer. Then he tried grabbing the waitresses ass and continued slamming down Budweiser drafts. As the night wore on and the haze of intoxication infiltrated his mind, Jamie’s thoughts became broken and fuzzy.

    He remembered a bouncer tossing him out of the bar, he remembered hitting his head. He recalled his buddies laughing at him, squealing tires and a car almost hitting him as he stumbled aimlessly down the street. His last recollection before he passed out was being grabbed from behind in a bear hug by a man much larger than he was.

    When Jamie came to a couple of hours later, he knew something was seriously askew. Although he was at least still half drunk, he had enough of his wits to know he didn’t belong in this car, wearing these Godforsaken tan slacks, or sitting next to this gargantuan bag of money.

    As Jamie frantically fumbled for his phone(of course it wasn’t in the pocket of these damn slacks)blue lights flashed in the rear view mirror nearly blinding him, not to mention scaring him shitless. Without giving a second consider the consequences, he did the only thing he could think of. He started the car, dropped it in gear and nailed the gas.

    * * *

    Jamie knew it was only a matter of time before this all came to an end. He’d either run upon a roadblock, drive over spike strips, blow the engine, or crash and burn. None of these conclusions appeared particularly appealing. Suddenly he felt sick. His stomach churned, beads of sweat rose on his brow, and his vision blurred. Then, just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, at 125 miles per hour, he passed out.

    He awoke with a start seconds(or maybe it was hours)later. His mouth felt as though someone had shoved an entire bag of cotton balls inside. He rose from the bed and ambled to the bathroom where he bent down and took a long drink straight from the tap. He splashed his face with water and took a long look into his hungover eyes. “What a bizarre dream,” he yawned as he slowly strode back into the bedroom. His relief was short lived however, because when he entered the bedroom the first thing he saw was a neatly folded pair of tan slacks and a red and black duffel bag side by side on the foot of the bed. He raced to the window and looked into the driveway. Sure enough, a black Dodge Challenger sat where his pickup should have been. Before he had time to think, there was a loud rap on the door followed by, “State Police, we have you surrounded! Come out with your hands where we can see them!”

    “Aww no!” Jamie exclaimed as he sank to his knees. If he could somehow come out of this and not end up in prison, he vowed he was never going to drink again.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      What a romp. rle. Poor Jamie’s headed for the midnight slammer. The Chllenger and the C notes aren’t going to help either. Grabbing asses in a bar sounds like fun but the moral to your story is, don’t mix Budweiser, ass and hot wings together.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice take. I liked the juxtaposition in the first paragraph of what is with what normally should be the case (e.g. “Where had he even come up with slacks? He was more of a blue jeans and tee shirt kind of guy.”) Keeping the reader (and the MC) poised in uncertainty as to how the MC got from bar-unconsciousness-car and back ino his home via another bout of unconsciousness is a nice tease that works well for me.
      However, you might still try and tighten your story up to better fit the pace of your narration (e.g. “Aww no!” Jame sank to his knees.” instead of “Aww no!” Jamie exclaimed as he sank to his knees.” and nicknack like that- but again, just my personal preference).
      Glad you ran this up your flagpole!

    3. jmcody

      I hope you’re feeling better about it. Here’s how I feel about it: You are really expanding your horizons as a writer. This is grittier than I’m used to seeing from you, to great effect. My eyes tend to glaze over during car chase scenes, but somehow you managed to write a car chase scene that had me on the edge of my seat. I was practically pressing the imaginary accelerator to the floor of my living room. This is high praise, as I truthfully can’t stand car chase scenes, so excellent job, rle!

  12. M'Óv

    One scientist and a Fiat 500,

    „What the?…oh no, not again, it happened again! Where am I now?”

    „Accostare il veicolo, subito!”

    „What the fuck am I doing in Italy?”

    Don was a scientist from Virginia who, during one of his experiments, got control of another person’s mind using only electrical signals. His discovery was regarded as one of the most important achievements of our century. But, as any other crazy scientist, he didn’t stop; he kept going and one day, during a thunderstorm, still connected to his apparatus, his lab got struck by lightning and he switched his connection to a telecommunication satellite orbiting Earth. Since that night, every now and then, when he goes to sleep, he’s transported in someone else’s brain, via the satellite, through any mean of modern technology and cannot get back to his body until the host either goes to sleep or…dies…

    „Hello, yes, this is him…I guess!”

    „Michelo, you have one hour to get the money to Porto di Livorno, otherwise partenero dies, ok?”

    „Accostare il veicolo subito!!!”

    „Wow, this is an intense one…fuck this, I’m not stopping! Avanti little car, avanti!”

    From Florence till Livorno it normally takes one hour, but considering the two police cars which were following young Michelo, the timing might vary…as he left Firenze and reached Montelupo Fiorentino, there were already three cars following the little Fiat, plus a helicopter which was filming the entire car chase. As you don’t see these things every day in Italy, people started gathering on the sides of the road and started cheering either for the sprinty Fiat, or for the law.

    As he got into Empoli, the main roads were filled with road blocks and police cars. He decided to turn to secondary streets and try to lose the cops. But the narrow streets of Empoli proved to be more challenging than any police car and as he closed up to the highway and out of the small town, a law-enforcement car came out of nowhere and hit the little vehicle in the rear right-wing, projecting it into a brick wall.

    Without even thinking, Michelo switched into first gear and floored the pedal, managing to squeeze on the high-way. Up there, the little Fiat, now in a really bad shape, was chased by an entire fleet of police cars, while two helicopters were tracing him from above. Right ahead, you could see the road blocks stretching on the entire width of the road…the phone rang: „trenta minuti left!”…it seemed like it was game over for young Michelo, but, as insanity strikes hard when in desperation, he suddenly pulled the wheel and headed towards the railing. Bullets started flying by, a few of them hitting the car and breaking the windows and a helicopter came down almost to ground level, groaning from above as the gentile Fiat flew off the suspended highway and into the abyss…

    „I swear to God if I get transported one more time, I’m going to kill myself, I can’t take it anymore!!!”

    1. Reaper

      This is an intense little story with an interesting premise. I have a weakness for mad scientists though. The tense change to present in the middle was a bit jarring but overall it was an entertaining and read almost like a news report with the character thoughts breaking into something more intense.

    2. Observer Tim

      Great story, M’Óv. I’m guessing you’re from Italy, considering (a) the quotation marks, and (b) the casual familiarity with places I had to look up on a map. But all that shows is that the ability to tell a captivating tale crosses all borders. Great job! 🙂

    3. jmcody

      I happen to be in love with the Italian language, and (almost) all things Italian, so I will just say molto bene e grazie per questo viaggio divertimento. I think Reaper gave you some good tips about grammar and flow. I would also advise cutting back a bit on the “telling” (that newspaper reporting quality reaper mentioned) and trying to work the backstory into the action a little more though.

  13. Observer Tim

    CONTORTIONS

    The first thing I notice when I wake up is someone’s knee against my face. The leg attached, both parts, runs down my chest; the groin pressed into my hip is female. It’s pitch black and it’s cramped, and my body is twisted in directions it hasn’t bent in years. The clothes I’m wearing don’t quite fit. I can feel the rumble and shake of a moving car.

    “You’re awake, Kat? Good, take this.” The handle of a large gun is pressed into my hand.

    “What’s going on?”

    Last night is kind of a blur. One, maybe three, too many Mai Tai’s and a sexual marathon with a gorgeous and very flexible girl. My mouth feels like I accidentally ate my lipstick and the headache’s so bad I can’t think straight. I was upset about something, but what?

    “You said you wanted to work with me. We’re on the way to a job.”

    “A job?” That was it! I lost my job yesterday!

    “Yeah. You said you needed work. When we stop I’ll pull the release and the trunk will open. We’ll be surrounded by cops, so you have to come out shooting.”

    Shooting? What have I gotten myself into? We hang a hard left and her leg squishes my breast for a moment. She kisses my shoulder. I wish I could remember her name.

    “We’re nearly there. Two more turns, about ten seconds. Remember, once we’re out we’re silent. No talking whatsoever until we’re done. We do this right and nobody gets hurt.”

    “Uh…” Nobody gets hurt? But we’ve got guns!

    The car slams to a stop and suddenly the trunk opens. Except the trunk is on the front and the stopping motion throws us both out onto sawdust in a shower of oversized greenbacks. I sit up and pull the trigger.

    There’s no boom, only a loud ‘thwut’. A white splat appears on the hood of the old-style VW bug we were riding in. People are closing in around us. Grossly distorted police officers.

    As I jump to my feet my head screams for Advil, but I keep firing anyway. Anything in blue is a target. The first guy I shoot does a full backflip as the white glob stains his chest. The next guy takes a splat to the knee and drops.

    The whole place smells of stockyard and whipped cream and grease. Roars of surprise and agitation and laughter nearly make my head explode while nightmare images of ghost-white faces fill my vision. I get a few more, but eventually the police subdue me with rubber clubs. Giant, but surprisingly light, handcuffs are placed on my wrists.

    I’m hauled to my feet beside Sophie –that’s her name– and the cop in the big hat with the brass badge on it faces us. Out comes Charlie Brown adult speech.

    “Wha-wha-wha-WHA wha-wha-wha-WHA-wha.”

    We’re pushed into the back of an old-style paddy wagon. Sophie sticks her face out between the bars as we start moving.

    The noise is starting to die down when she turns back to me.

    “Great job, Kat! I told you everything would be okay.”

    Her lips find mine and I carefully tilt my head so she doesn’t knock the nose off. She’s right; my attempt at ‘normal’ life was a total failure, but now I’m home. Once a clown, always a clown.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Cool response Tim. I had no idea what in hell’s gate was going on but it was a fun read. And thenthe whammer. I became suspicious about the paint guns and thought it might be some kind of fraternity prank. You wrapped it nicely and it was one hell of a ride. Great job.

    1. jhowe

      I was with Kerry on this one. I kept womdering what was going on and didn’t get it until the nose comment, though the giant handcuffs produced a little spark. Great story. It’s not often you read about lesbian clowns. Simply fantastic.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks jhowe; I only threw in the lesbian thing because I realized too late that I’d made both of my primary characters female. At that point it was either rewrite or go for it. I’m glad I can still occasionally surprise seasoned readers like you and Kerry.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Great twist! The first thing that tipped me off was the “white splat” on the VW and the police officer; up to that point I was expecting a robbery.
      Language descriptive and fulfilling as always.

    3. Reaper

      Wonderfully written with amazing images as always. So your twist took me by surprise and I agree with the lesbian clowns comment. Nicely done. When I was young I ended up watching a movie about gangsters but all the roles were played by kids. They used pies and squirt guns instead of real weapons but still died when hit. Your story had a connection to that until the end, and so even though it felt surrealistic and intense it was also keeping me smiling.

      1. rle

        Tim, I loved the line about Charlie Brown adult talk. That seems to be what I hear when a lot of people talk to me. The older I get the worse it becomes. Go figure!

      2. Observer Tim

        Ah, Bugsy Malone; it’s amazing the things that shape us. That movie came out when I was about the same age as the actors; it viewed to me like a big game being played for our enjoyment. The 13-year old me was totally smitten with Tallulah (Jodie Foster) at the time, though looking back now it’s a little creepy remembering those feelings. And now I can’t get that Paul Williams music out of my head!

    4. jmcody

      Tim, your stories are always mystifyingly unique and this was a prime example. The lesbian thing has been a common thread in a few of your prompts now, so that didn’t surprise me, but the clown thing completely caught me off guard. I loved the MC’s conclusion about the futility of a normal life, which was ironic and deadpan funny. I also loved the reference to Charlie Brown’s teacher and related to it because I’m pretty sure that’s what I sound like to my kids. Wacky good fun, Tim.

  14. Cynthia Page

    Holiday Horror

    Our manager went off the deep end, dripping sarcasm from his fat flappy lips, soiling our workday. After work: holiday season traffic on slick snowy roads; crowded grocery store full irritated moms with unruly toddlers; burnt garlic bread with canned spaghetti; nothing but reality shows and holiday tripe on TV. Two Aleve and an Ambien knocked me out at ten o’clock. I should have expected what happened that night.

    I came to awareness behind the wheel of a car. I was driving down a dark two lane road at fifty five miles an hour as blue flashing lights spun in my rear view mirror. I pulled over and waited, not sure what to expect. A cop approached with a flashlight, and I activated the window switch, taking it all the way down to indicate trust, though I had none. The cop stepped back away from the car and shined his flashlight in my face.

    “What you doing out here this time of night, boy?” Belligerence hit me like a punch in the gut. I responded, in a voice that was scholarly and patient.

    “I am on my way to see family in Macon for the holiday, officer. I was hoping to find a motel for the night, but turned off the interstate too late. Will this road get me back to Augusta?” As I spoke the specifics of my surroundings solidified, and I became hyper-aware in milliseconds.

    I sounded like an educated Midwesterner. My hands, still on the steering wheel, were dark brown with pale palms. I wore white long sleeves with cufflinks under a navy blue suit coat. The car I drove was a luxury model with all the bells and whistles that indicate a successful career. I waited to see what would unfold while thinking I didn’t seem I warranted the title of boy.

    “You own this pimpmobile? License and registration. Keep your hands where I can see them.” The southern drawl sent chills through my scalp.

    I replied, “Officer, my wallet is in my suit coat pocket. I will have to unbutton my coat and reach inside the breast pocket.” I became aware of extreme caution with my words and movements as I continued. “My registration is in the glove box. I will need to lean over and open it. I do not have a weapon in there, just my registration and insurance papers.”

    The cop’s irritation with my patience and caution came through in his next words. “You bein’ uppity, ain’t you? You got you’self a ed-u-ca-shun, boy? Fine. Use two fingers on your left hand to get your wallet out.”

    I complied, though unbuttoning my coat proved difficult with my left hand. I handed him the entire wallet, and then leaned over toward the glove compartment, reaching with my right hand. For a brief moment my shoulders were turned away from him, though my left hand was back on the steering wheel.

    Wha-chu doin’ boy? Get your hands back on the wheel…Jack, he’s reaching for a gun.”

    I heard a snap, the familiar sound of a holster being opened. I froze. Another flashlight shined through the passenger window at my right hand reaching toward the glove box. The passenger window shattered as a blast rang out. A split second later I felt a searing punch in my left shoulder, then another near my spine as I collapsed sideways. A hot red flash passed before my eyes, then nothing…

    I woke soaked in sweat, with my temples pulsing. Mother said I had The Gift. Father called me The Witness. For me, knowing injustice through the experiences of those wronged is both a blessing and a curse. I would find out who he was through news reports from that area, and tell his family what happened to him. At least they would know the truth, even if they could not find justice.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This was a tragic read Cynthia. But so true about the south in the 1930’s thru the fifties. It’s taken a long time for progress and sometimes I thing we’re heading backwards. But I think it’s the nature of the beast. You a beautiful job illustrating injustice and pain for those who have no defense.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you, Kerry. This scenario has been on my mind lately, and it takes me back to the bad old days, unfortunately not over as we once thought. We should never forget that attitudes change little over time.

    2. jhowe

      Beautifully written story Cynthia Page. I liked the way you mixed your dialog and prose. It worked well. However the MC was getting into the heads of these victims was amazing and very compelling. I enjoyed this a lot.

    3. Nicki EagerReader

      What a page-turner (or scroller)! A very suspensful story that climaxed in a shocking twist. I liked how you framed the “orignal” story (i.e. the prompt) with the story of the MC, the Witness. You fully succeeded in conveying the vantage point of the MC as a guest or observer inside the victim’s head, and yet the MC didn’t intrude so far into the story as to interrupt its flow.

      You dealt very gracefully with a delicate topic (1950s? I fear this sort of stereotyping is all too present even in overall modern societies across this planet) by putting more meaning between the lines than in the lines, and it worked. I’d also like to praise your eye for detail “[…] I activated the window switch, taking it all the way down to indicate trust, though I had none.”- nice bit of observation.)

      Minor typos like an omitted inverted comma, but otherwise I don’t think anythin could be improved. Thanks a lot for sharing!

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you, Nicki. Typos plague me. I need an editor, since as much as I try to catch them, I still miss a few. Thank you for the praise. I’m so glad you and others liked this one. I want to work with this type of MC on a longer story sometime in the future. It’s difficult to avoid cliches, or the appearance of too-convenient escapes, in a plot with psychic MCs, though. Even plausible escapes are questioned by skeptics. I get questions like, “how did she…,” or “why did he…,” or statements like, “I don’t believe this,” and “that was too easy” which have made me shy away from psychic MCs. But the prompt fit so well, I gave it a shot.

    4. Reaper

      Wow. What Kerry said was pretty perfect. Your imagery was amazing and you did capture the feeling of powerless people so well. In addition your idea of the witness is perfect. I could read a book based on this but worry your poor MC would go insane with having to see that constantly and being powerless to stop it.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you, Reaper. Knowing how it feels to be powerless makes it easier to write about it. My concerns in using such an MC in a longer story are cliches, and criticism by people who do not understand psychic experiences. Normal people tend to not believe. There are ways of coping to prevent a constant onslaught or sensory overload, though they are not given much credence by the ungifted. Ce la vie.

    5. Observer Tim

      This is really amazing, Cynthia. I love the blend of imagery and story, and of adventure and social commentary. You balanced all the elements perfectly. I can see it as the set-up for a great mystery story.

      My only issue was your waking up comments (both of them). “came to awareness” seems a bit awkward to me, and might be more simply “found myself” or “became aware”. In the last paragraph, “woke up” ore “awoke” would scan better, at least to me. That’s it.

    6. jmcody

      Cynthia, I could totally see this becoming a series of short mystery stories or even a television series. True, not everyone likes stories about psychics, but nt everyone likes horror, scifi, chick lit, etc. I think your psychic MC story works because of it’s deeper message about empathy. Your ability to portray empathy, powerlessness and other human conditions would offset any tendency toward triteness that you seem to be concerned about. I agree, though that you should steer clear of easy answers and one-dimensional characters in this type of story. I really liked it and would love to read more.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you jmcody. A series is a bit ambitious at this stage, but thank you for the vote of confidence. Keeping it fresh might be a problem, though there is no lack of injustice to write about in this world. Maybe I’ll sit down and come up with a list of victim-types that might lead somewhere. Not all of them need to die for a psychic to pick up on their pain. Searching for them could be intriguing. Hmm. Have to think on that a bit. Thanks.

  15. Red Hadan

    I don’t know exactly what it was that set me off when I woke up. Maybe it was the sent of new car when I knew that my car was overwhelmed with the smell of dog and year old baby food. I sat up in the back seat and saw in the rear view mirror a face of a worn middle aged man. Who I had no recollection of. He glanced up and saw that I was awake.
    “You should probably get up and outta here.” He said simply giving me a quick nod.
    “Wha-?”
    “Take this with you” He tossed me a sack of something. It landed open in my lap, and few one-hundreds came out. I stared down at it contemplating whether or not to take it. Some where distant a siren sounded. “GTFO.” He yawned like he’s done this before and was getting bored.
    “B-but the police!” I stuttered. He looked at me and raised his eyebrows.
    “You don’t say!” The man shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out a gun and pointed it at my temple.
    “get out, or my gun’ll take you out of this world and you can burn in hell.”
    “Uhh, sure bro!” I stumbled out of the car clutching the money bag like my life line and ran down the road. What the hell did I get myself into?

    1. Reaper

      One small error in the first paragraph, scent instead of sent. Don’t you hate it when a great beginning doesn’t tell you where to go with it? This could turn into such an amazing story.

    2. Observer Tim

      Great beginning, Red. And you literally can go anywhere from here. You’ve taken a prompt and written its transformation into another prompt. That’s wonderfully cyclical.

      My style advisor thinks you might want “tipped me off” (i.e. made me awarre) instead of “set me off” (made me angry) in the first sentence. It’s subtle, but people like me notice it.

  16. jhowe

    I wake up in the dark and think nothing of it until I feel the car I’m driving lurch off the road. Branches scratch at the side window and I jerk the wheel to the left as a police car with flashing lights comes toward me, veers to the side of the road and pulls a U turn as I go past. Whosever car this is it’s a piece of shit. I think it’s an old Dodge Dart but I’m not sure. I step on the gas pedal and not much happens. I look down and see top end in this baby is about seventy five.

    I want to take the time to think about this but the rattling steering wheel keeps my attention on events at hand. I see a clear plastic bag with money in it on the passenger seat and check it out. It contains a small wad of fives and tens, maybe three hundred bucks. I sure as hell hope this paltry sum isn’t the reason for this dilemma. I stuff the bag under the seat as the cop car catches up with me. A short blast from the siren is enough to tell me I’m sunk.

    The officer cautiously approaches and motions for me to roll down the window. “License and registration,” he said.

    I pat my empty pockets and check above both visors. I open the glove box, see a hand gun and quickly close it. “I’m afraid I don’t have them with me.”

    “Do you know how fast you were going when you swerved off the road?”

    “Not exactly.”

    “I had you clocked at seventy five miles per hour in a fifty mile per hour zone.”

    “I apologize for that.”

    “I’m sure you do.” He produced a small flashlight and shone it in the car. “Have you been drinking tonight sir?”

    “No.”

    “Could you please step out of the car?”

    I open the door and step out knowing I have no choice. I wonder where I am and what jail I’ll be sleeping it tonight.

    “Nice pants,” he said.

    I look down. Pleated wide rib corduroys with cuffs. What the hell? And what’s this color? Fuchsia?

    “Thank you,” I said.

    “It wasn’t a compliment.”

    “I gathered.” Where did I get these pants?

    “What is your name sir?” the officer said.

    “Uh, good question.”

    “This car is registered to a Mr. Bradley Pitt.”

    “And you buy that?” I said.

    “That’s what it said on my screen.”

    “Brad Pitt… you think this is Brad Pitt’s car?”

    “I have no idea who Brad Pitt is sir.”

    “He wouldn’t be driving a car like this.”

    “But you would it seems.”

    “That does seem to be the case,” I said.

    “Now what do we do?” the cop said. “The dumbass writer has written us into a dead end.”

    “It’s a freaking stalemate.”

    “Maybe you could be a robot.”

    “Nah, too lame. How about I was hypnotized?”

    “Or maybe you were taking part in a training exercise for would be assassins.”

    “That would explain the gun in the glove box,” I said.

    A car pulls up and a shapely woman gets out and runs to us. “Ted, thank God; here’s your medication.”

    “I’m in the middle of a procedure here ma’am,” said the cop.

    “But officer,” she said through pouty lips. “This man needs his medication.”

    I look up at the writer and say, “This will do for now Jhowe, but next time consider the ending before you get too far along. Oh, and thanks for making the girl hot as hell.”

    1. madeindetroit

      Great first paragraph.
      Superb dialogue with an ending that me by surprise.
      Brad Pitt’s car! Wow.
      This story could have gone in a thousand different directions.

      Awesome.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      A very creative and entertaining take on the prompt. “Now what do we do? The dumbass writer has written us into a dead end.” Best line- that’s how I feel about this prompt.
      One glitch in tense- you tend to write “said” instead of “says” although the rest of the story is in present tense (or did you do that on purpose? You pull it through so consequently it actually might be intentional… if so, forget what I said).

        1. Kerry Charlton

          What a fun read, jhowe, most amusing. I love the idea Brad Pitt might be driving an old Dodge Dart. Could have introduced the hot girl a little earlier and have her join in with the insanity.

    3. cosivantutte

      Great dialogue!

      The second half of your story cracked me up. Especially since I think my characters have had these kind of discussions when I’m not looking. 😀

      1. cosivantutte

        And for the record,I can totally imagine Brad Pitt driving a heap of junk car. I don’t know why. Maybe it has something to do with that long period of time that he had that ugly, scraggly beard.

    4. Reaper

      I had this flash of Stephen King in the Dark Tower series with the note that said here comes Deus Ex Machina! Wonderful imagery and amazing dialogue here jhowe. I don’t know why but it being Bradd Pitts car or even a fake version of it cracked me up so much. Thank you for this one.

      1. rle

        A friend of mine in high school had a Dodge Dart. We all called it the ‘Terd'(yes, that’s how we spelled it). It really was a POS. What fun we had cruising around in that beast. Thanks for the memories J howe!

    5. jmcody

      Brad Pitt wearing fuschia wide ribbed pleated corduroys and driving a Dart. It’s bizarro land. I bet RDJ shows up in this somewhere.

      That was a fun way to write your MC out of a sticky situation. Love it, Jhowe!

  17. madeindetroit

    AMBER LYNN AND THE CHERRY SLURPEE

    The doctor sitting on the other side of the desk paged through a thick green file folder. His eyes darted back and forth between the pages while his face remained void of expression. He appeared to be in his mid-thirties with an aura somewhere between macho chic and grunge; his eyes were gun-metal gray and black stubble covered a square, chiseled jaw. His dark hair was coated with a greasy men’s product and combed straight back. I reminded myself to invite him to my next poker game—if I could keep my stupid ass out of jail.

    When he completed his review of the contents, he closed the folder. “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Glanz,” he said exhaling deeply, “this is quite a story—”

    “Call me Harry,” I said.

    My wife of twenty-two years sitting next to me interrupted. “They call crap like that ‘fairy tales’ doctor,” Thelma said, her voice oozing with sarcasm.

    I glared at Thelma with one eyebrow cocked and contorted lips. I turned to the doctor and smiled. “Have you come to a diagnosis, doctor? Am I a sleepwalker? Is it Narcolepsy? Do I suffer from night terrors?

    Thelma rolled her eyes. “God, you are delusional, Harry. The only medical conditions you suffer from are an enlarged prostate and a fever for a twenty-three year-old floozy with fake breasts.”

    A confused look spread across the doctor’s face, the kind you see on people when they whiff a fart in church. “Whoa…I don’t know yet,” the doctor said shifting in his seat. “If you could Harry, I’d like you to take me back through the night of the incident.”

    This was my last chance. If I couldn’t make it convincing then it was…prison for sure. I stared off at a row of fancy framed diplomas that hung on the wall and shrugged. “Well doctor, I said, “it was like this…”

    “Take your time Harry,” the doctor said, plucking a pen from his pocket.

    “Here we go again,” Thelma muttered, “Amber Lynn and the cherry Slurpee.”

    I shot Thelma the look. She ignored me. “As I was saying, it was like any other day. I was exhausted from working extremely hard…”

    “Yeah, on a twelve-pack of Budweiser and a stupid HBO movie,” Thelma said, anger pulsating through her voice. “Outlaw Biker Chicks my—”

    “Please, Thelma,” the doctor said holding up his hands in mock surrender, “let him finish.”

    “I turned in after the movie ended around midnight and faded out as usual.”

    Leaning forward on the desk the doctor asked, “What happened next?”

    “When I woke up, I was in speeding car with our new neighbor Amber Lynn Jenkins. She was driving and we were barreling along a wide, dimly lit boulevard, Eight Mile Road, I think. Anyway, I was wearing a pair of black jeans a size too small, pointed boots, and a black leather vest, you know the kind bikers wear. Oh, and I had a flaming red skull cap on my head.”

    “Oy,” Thelma mumbled, shaking her head. “More like three sizes too small. That explains the lack of oxygen to your.…”

    I cut Thelma off. “I had a sack of cash in one hand and a cherry Slurpee in the other. The next thing I know, red and blue flashing lights pulled up behind us.”

    “What did you do next?” the doctor asked.

    “I begged Amber Lynn to stop but she turned into the alley behind the Frisky Kitty Strip Club—”

    “Her place of employment,” Thelma blurted.

    “The next thing I remember, the two of us were hauled from a dumpster, cuffed, and thrown in the back of a squad car.”

    The doctor pulled a paper from the file. “Hmmm,” he murmured. “It’s all here in the police report. He looked up from the paper. “You have no idea how you ended up in Miss Lynn’s car, wearing clothes you didn’t own, with a sack of cash stolen from 7-11?”

    “Nope,” I said. “It’s all a blur. All though, I do remember paying for the cherry Slurpee.”

    “You’re hallucinating Harry,” Thelma huffed. “I told you alcohol and Viagra didn’t mix….”

    “Well, what do you think doc? I asked. “Am I a good candidate for your Sleep Disorder Study?”

    His reaction was thoughtful as he drummed the surface of the desk with his pen. Under all the whisker stubble and mousse, he was a hard man to read. My freedom hinged on his decision. “Your case does intrigue me Harry. I think it does warrant further study. I’ll alert the proper authorities you’ll be joining my study.”

    “I knew it! You won’t be disappointed, doc. I’ll prove to be a worthy case study.”

    I looked over at Thelma, a smirk plastered across my face. Her cheeks flushed red and blue veins bulged out of her neck. She’d really blow a fuse if she knew what Amber Lynn whispered in the backseat of the scout car the night of our arrest. Amid all the chaos and confusion, the only words I heard were cooking oil, handcuffs, and a cape. Now that sounded like an adventure!

    1. jhowe

      Good crisp writing. I enjoyed it. You’re a good dialog writer. You put me in the position of choosing between the scheming husband and the obnoxious wife. Good job.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Very nice description of the persona of the doctor, though possibly just a tad to long for a minor charcter in a short story (I enjoyed it anyway). Here and there you might scrape a superfluous word to tighten the story up just a little more (“Oy,” Thelma mumbled, shaking her head.“More like three sizes too small” → maybe jut “Oy,” Thelma mumbled. “More like three sizes too small.” But that’s also a matter of taste- I like as few “stage directions” as possible in good dialogue).
      Overall a fine piece of writing with interesting characters and dialogue that gave me the feeling I was eavesdropping at the door. Good work!

      1. madeindetroit

        Thank you for the comments, NikiEager Reader.
        I struggle with with finding the right balance between character descriptions, settings, and moving the story along, especially in such a short format.
        Thanks for tip on stage directions within the diologue.
        I alreadys seem to want to “pile it on”!

        Thanks you again.

    3. Kerry Charlton

      Loved the dialogue also. I think Harry’s in for a hell of a lot of trouble. I see a large iron skillet swinging toward the back of his head from sweet, little Thema. That’s what silicone breasts and a slurpy lead to. A real fun read.

      1. sperye

        Thank you for the kind comments Kerry.
        I have followed this forum for over a year, sometimes contributing and sometimes not. I have read all your work and it is always fresh and fun to read.

        Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment.

    4. Reaper

      Very nice. Being a lover of literary writing I liked the added touches. You created a story where I want to know more. The wife I sympathize with but also found obnoxious. The husband I was unsure of until the end and then disliked him intensely. The doctor did not seem minor to me at all. He seemed ominous and creepy. I get this sense that the sleep study is a very bad thing.

    5. Observer Tim

      This was definitely a laugh, madeindetroit. It started out kind of confusing, but as things cleared up it became obvious that neither narrator of the tale-within-a-tale was that sympathetic. Now I’m curious what the cape is for…

  18. Kerry Charlton

    A HAIL OF DEATH

    Denford Worthngton III had litigated GM and the federal government for seven straight hours and had fallen in bed exhausted. His last thoughts before falling in a deep sleep, ‘It isn’t worth the million and a half a year, I’m too old for this.’

    He awoke refresed but as his eyes focused, he was sitting next to a plain looking girl driving a Ford down a back road.

    “Why are you drving so fast?”

    “Don’t you see the revolving gum ball following us?”

    “Why are they interested in us?”

    “Look at your feet, love.”

    Three canvas bags he opened,

    “Where’d this money come from?”

    “Okay tease, I’ll play along. The Monroe Second State Bank we heisted.”

    He listened to the rumble of the 85 horsepower V eight, as the police car faded in view.

    “You sure know how to handle this baby. What year is it?”

    “Thirty four.”

    He noticed his hands were young again. ‘The honey blonde brunette isn’t bad looking, nice legs also. What the hell, what’ll I have to lose?”

    “Where are we heading now”

    “To our cabin, love. I’m a little horny after seeing you finish the guard and two customers.”

    His eyes fell to the arsenal sitting between them. He picked the 38 up and smelled gun powder. ‘I feel like I’m in a play. Is she serious about the sex? I guess I’ll find out.’

    “Want a smoke love?”

    He reached over and took the Camel. Took a long drag and blew smoke rings back at her.

    “I’ve never seen you do that before. You do have a talent beside what’s between your legs.”

    He felt his stiffness as they pulled up to a small cabin off the two lane. It wasn’t bad inside. More guns, a plie of ammo, a doubke bed and small kitchen. A side porch looking into a forest.

    She ripped the shirt off his back. “Are you anxious doll face?”

    “Where did ‘doll face’ come from? I like it. Lay down love, I want to ride you.”

    ‘I guess she was serious,’ he thought as she straddled him. ‘Good God, she’s good at this.’

    Twice more in the evening, they made love and cuddled through the Louisiana night. Dawn brought mocking birds, cardinals, thrush and scrambled eggs. He stepped out on the porch, smelled the soft pines swaying in the morning breeze.

    “What are you thinking about this morning?” she asked.

    “How pretty you look in the sunshine.”‘

    “Want to run through the woods naked?’

    “Of course,” he answered, stripping down.

    “You’re a little thin, you’re not eating enough.”

    He smiled at her, “Between robbing banks and making love, there’s not much time for anything else.”

    “I miss Dallas, she said.”

    “So do I but you understand we can’t go back now.”

    “I know, well we better hit the two lane.”

    “Okay.”

    The ’34 Foed model 730 deluxe sedan left the woods and travelled east through Bienville Parish on a small unpaved road. The soft wind whispered through the rolled down windows, ‘It’s good to feel alive again,’ Denford felt. ‘what an adventure.’

    As the car slowed for a turn in the road, a host of law enforcement officers appeared on either side of the road. The girl hit the brakes to turn…………

    Tommy guns and rifles from the officers sprayed the car and two lovers. Ninety seconds later, both were dead, the car having been riddled by 137 bullet holes. Mocking birds still called their mates that day but an era of violence in American history had ended.

    1. Manwe38

      This was great, Kerry.

      You captured the tone of the period very well; I found myself rooting for them to get away. The ending was almost harsh, but it fit.

      Nicely done!

    2. Reaper

      This is very visceral, which is an interesting combination with an almost slice of life approach. Beautifully written. Your MC seemed to slip more into the persona and memories as the story went on. A tragic ending with a bit of happiness to it for the feeling alive again. Am I reading correctly that you are basing this on Bonnie and Clyde? Everything seems to fit with that.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Congrats Reaper, The clues, ’34 Ford, Bonnie smoking Camels, “i miss Dallas” And then the ambush, The 137 bulletholes. I had the MC slowing dissolving into Clyde Barrow. From research, there no evidence that Bonnie Parker ever shot anyone. The famous photo we’re used to seeing was done at their hideout as a lark. Thank so much for the read and the compliments.

        1. rle

          Kerry, you have a knack for painting a vivid picture in my mind. I wish I could set stories in the distant past as well as you do. Each week I find myself looking forward to what you’re going to come up with next. Keep it up.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Thank you rle. Sometimes I’m thinking in the past. Most of the time, when I’m not working. Of course Bonnie and Clyde was before my time, I grew with Abbott and Costello. I appreciate your wonderful compliment. Looking forward to reading your response on the next prompt.

    3. jmcody

      I also was thinking of Bonnie and Clyde as I was reading this, and I agree that you captured the time and the tone very well. It left me wanting to know the whys and wherefores of how this seasoned corporate attorney suddenly found himself in another reality. It struck me that he was fed up with his life, and he was either having an escapist fantasy, a twilight-zone type episode, or he had suffered some kind of medical event. In any case, his alternate reality supplied what was missing in his life — adventure, freedom and a carefree spirit. So this was both exciting and action packed, and sad and touching. Nice way to play the emotions, Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank, jm. I thought it might be fun to have my MC slowly dissolve into Clyde Barrow, not his conscience but his physical. The time of death of Barrow and Parker releases the MC back to his high corporste mundane life. I am thinking of continuing with the MC as a dedicated and driven crusader to bring those to justice that needed to be stopped, sort of a live changing goal instead of climbing a corporate ladder.

        For a love interest, he might run into a gun moll tha the falls in love with. What do you think?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Tim. I like the thought my writing reminded you of pretty candy. Wow, that’s quite a compliment, especially coming from you. On to the next one!

  19. Alexander Edmondson

    Hey Mr. Pinstripe Suit

    My head is killing me. I shouldn’t have had that last drink with my roommates. I probably shouldn’t have been drinking at all but I didn’t want to think about Samantha after she lied to me. Why did she have to fool around with my brother? I need to get home and get some sleep. Thank God it’s a Saturday. At least I think it’s a Saturday. What the hell? How did I end up in the backseat? Those guys must’ve left me here as some kind of joke before they took off. What a minute. What am I wearing? I don’t remember much about last night but I was not wearing a black, pinstriped suit. I was wearing one of my tracksuits. Come to think about it, something else seems off. My car doesn’t have leather seats or tinted windows. It doesn’t have fuzzy red dice hanging from the rearview mirror. This isn’t my car. I need to get the hell out of here. This doesn’t feel right…what’s this? I’ve never seen this blue bag before. I probably shouldn’t look inside. Then again, maybe it can give me some kind of clue as to how I got here. Oh my, God. Oh my God! How much money is in this thing? Why do I even have this thing? Just put the money back where you found it, get out of the damn car, walk away and try to figure out where the hell you are. What’s that? Is that a siren? Oh no. It’s the cops. Calm down. Just calm the hell down. What am I saying? How the hell am I supposed to calm down? I just woke up in a car I don’t recognize in a suit I don’t recognize with bag of money that I don’t remember having. For all I know, I could’ve stolen this car, suit and bag of cash. Man I’m going to jail.
    “Sir,” said the officer.
    I slowly rolled down the window.
    “Yes,” I said.
    “Can I see your license and registration.”
    “License and registration?”
    “Yes. License and registration please.”
    I reached into my suit to try to find my wallet and I did find it in a jacket pocket of the suit.”
    “Registration please.”
    “My registration? Um…”
    “Is there a problem, sir?
    “Problem? No. There’s no problem. Let me get that for you.”
    Now I know I’m going to jail. Once she sees that my license doesn’t match the registration, I’m screwed. I accepted my fate and handed it to her.
    “Everything looks to be in order. What are you doing out here?”
    “I…I…I wasn’t feeling so well, so I decided to pull over and get a little rest in the backseat. I apologize. It will never happen again.”
    “Make sure it doesn’t sir. Have a nice day.”
    “You too.”
    She gave me back my license and the registration of the car. Then she got back into her patrol car and drove off. She let me go. This car isn’t mine and she let me go. What the hell is going on here? I put my license back into my wallet. Then I checked the name on the registration. It had my name on it. I was stunned. I don’t remember buying a new car. I decided to look through the rest of the car and my clothes for a clue. I found something else inside my suit jacket. It was a piece of paper with a card inside. On the card, it said, “Royal Elite Hotel and Casino.” The sheet of paper said, “Room 421.” I could’ve driven myself home and try to forget all about this but I couldn’t. I needed to know what happened last night and I have a clue right here in my hand. Besides, if I’m in some big trouble, I can’t bring my roommates or anyone else into this. If I was going to try to piece together the events from the previous night, I had to do it my own. Well, I guess my next stop is the Royal Elite. Maybe it ends there and maybe it doesn’t.

    1. Reaper

      An interesting beginning to a mystery to be sure. There were some tense switches at the beginning and the end. That may have been stylistic to indicate thought over action. Some of them came across that way, others were a little jarring.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a great beginning; the story could of course go anywhere from here. It’s an interesting technique, rolling the time POV through the last paragraph (going from past to present), but this does kind of force the rest of the story into present tense. Either that or it throws the whole story into flashback.

  20. justindavid7

    “What the hell?” was the first thing I said when I woke up to the sound of a siren behind me.
    I quickly averted my line of vision all around me in order to figure out what was going on. The last thing I remember was going to sleep last night in my warm bed at home. But now I’m driving a car? As I glanced down at the steering wheel, I noticed my black Batman styled wheel cover was missing along with the air freshener that hung from my rear view mirror. After a few more seconds of confusion, I stumbled upon a horrifying realization.
    This was not my car.
    The sound of the whooping siren still echoed through my ears. I looked up to my mirror and saw red and blue lights blinking back and forth. What have I done?
    I put on my right turn signal and began to veer off to the shoulder of the isolated road. My location was fuzzy at first, but I recognized the familiar smiling of my town mayor on a billboard above me. I was on a road just a few miles from my home. How I got here, I still don’t know.
    I slowed to a stop followed by the police officer, who kept his lights flashing in order to warn oncoming traffic. I wiped off a drip of perspiration from my forehead, then rolled up my sleeves. I don’t wear long sleeves. The clothes I was wearing did not belong to me either, and I have no idea how they got here. I closed my eyes to lift up a short prayer when the police officer knocked on my window. I pressed the button, and the window rolled down. I took in the countenance of my predator and noticed his graying goatee and stone cold eyes. His dark hair had a patch of white on his bangs, a birthmark that was not easy to miss. And something about it seemed oddly familiar.
    “Sir, I’m going to ask you to step out of your vehicle.”
    I unbuckled my seatbelt and exited the car, only to be tackled to the ground. His strong body took me down with ease and I felt a lot of pressure as his knee was driven into my back. He swung my arms around and handcuffed them as tightly as he could, causing me to cringe in pain.
    “Officer, I swear I have no idea what’s going on,” I pleaded. “I just woke up as a completely different person.”
    The officer grabbed me by the arm and flipped me around as his angry eyes stared into my soul. Where have I seen this guy before? “You don’t remember me do you?”
    Then it hit me.
    This officer was in fact a police officer, one that I had known many years before. He tried to frame me for fraud in my own company. He was winning the argument, too; we had several days of court trial and no matter how much I pleaded, the judge and jury stood on his side. Then, I came up with a striking piece of evidence and proved him wrong. He was stripped of his job as the head officer of the town and was demoted. I learned later that he was struggling financially especially after his wife divorced him, so he needed some extra money for winning a huge case. I’m still not sure why he picked me to accuse, but I had nothing to do with that psychopath after the court.
    But he was currently kneeling over my handcuffed body with hands in a fist.
    He blasted down on my cheekbone hard with his fist. I felt the taste of iron in my mouth and I spat some red onto the concrete. He set me up, I thought. He must have drugged me last night and dragged me into this car. I’m not exactly sure why it was part of the plan, but he thought it was necessary for vengeance. This guy was insane.
    I suffered another blow to the left side of my face then one on my right. My eyes started to go fuzzy and I felt a ringing in my ears. But I could not just let this guy kill me.
    I kicked my leg up as hard as I could, striking him right in his privates. The maniac winced in pain, cupping his hands to his pants. I quickly stood up and kneed him right in the nose. After a few more gruesome attacks to his face, he was knocked out. I was a big pacifist, but I had to protect myself. I leaned down and grabbed the keys, unhooking my handcuffs. I stole his belt full of weapons and threw them into the random car.
    I sped as quickly as I could towards the police station, leaving the assailant in a bundle of blood.

  21. tydra

    a tiny bit longer, but i really really needed the space O_O sowwy! word count: 1016

    by the way, i have a few things in here that i had written in italics to distinguish sounds and effects and inner thoughts. but copy pasting into this text box destroys my formatting. how can i make things italic in here?

    ———————

    The first thing he noticed when he slowly regained his consciousness was flashing light. He drew in a deep breath and opened his eyes. His eye lids felt heavy and followed his command only sluggishly.

    Red, blue, red, blue.

    Like a lens that had been zoomed out way too far he brought his sight back into focus gradually. He found grey ceiling and the back of some grey chairs around him. His mouth felt dry like a cardboard and there was a mild throbbing in his right temple.

    Red, blue, red, blue.

    He had been using sleeping pills often enough in his life to recognize the aftermath of a chemical knock-out. A realization that made him frown since he didn’t remember taking a sleeping pill the night before. He propped himself on his elbow to get a better view of his surroundings when he noticed a piece of paper sliding off his chest and fluttering to the floor. To the footwell of a car, actually. It landed next to a crumpled paper bag.

    Red, blue, red, blue.

    He stared into the footwell uncomprehending. What am I doing lying on the backseat of a car? He leaned forward and picked up the piece of paper. He turned it around and bolted upright with wide eyes. He was holding a printed picture of his daughter. Tightly bound rope was cutting into her wrists, her mouth couldn’t close properly for the gag propped into it, and there were plenty of wet streaks running down her cheeks from her watery eyes. Lilly! His chemical haze was forgotten immediately as adrenalin started soaring throughout his body.

    Red, blue, red, blue.

    Cold sweat dampened the back of his neck. Her swollen fingers were holding a sheet of paper towards the camera, and he sniveled as he read the note: “Bring the cash to the great oak by midnight”. He knew exactly which oak was meant in the message. There was only one oak in the area that was distinguished enough to warrant no further explanations. His heart was thumping up to his throat as he regarded the paper bag in the footwell. Then he realized that it was dark outside.

    Shit! He scrambled between the front seats to get a glimpse of the dashboard. It was 11:30pm. He only had half an hour to get there!

    Knock, knock, knock.

    He jumped at the sudden sound and bumped his head against the ceiling, dropping the picture into the footwell. Rubbing his skull he turned to the window, seeing a police officer motioning for him to get out of the car, the red and blue flashing lights of his police car illuminating his face alternately. Shit! I don’t have time for this!

    He opened the back door ajar and asked, “May I help you, officer?”

    The uniformed man looked him straight in the eyes as he replied, “Please step out of the vehicle, Sir.”

    He sighed and pushed open the door to get out reluctantly.

    “Sir, please keep your hands where I can see them.”

    He raised his hands slightly, palms facing outwards, shuffling from one foot to the other. “What is this about, officer?”

    “Sir, have you been drinking?”

    “Of course not!” He snorted impatiently. The police officer looked him up and down with a stern glare, glancing at his restless feet and the drop of sweat running down his temple. Finally, the officer told him “Sir, I will need you to come with me to the station for some testing. Please place your hands on top of the car.”

    Are you kidding me?! Not now! He could hear the blood rushing in his ears as he desperately tried to calm his nerves. Should he explain the situation to him? But no, what was he going to tell the police? I’m sorry, officer, I have no idea how I got here or whose money this is, or come to think of it, whose car that is, but hey, unless I bring the cash to the oak by midnight I-don’t-know-what is going to happen to my kidnapped daughter by God-knows-who. It sounded absurd just thinking it. And it would play nicely into the hands of his suspicion of alcohol abuse. Or worse.

    He turned towards the car slowly and rested his hands on top of the roof, his eyes darting back and forth, trying to come up with something he could do, his heart racing in his chest. He bent down to sneak a peek at the dashboard: 11:32pm. Then he heard the metallic click of handcuffs he knew too well from countless cop movies on TV. A mental image flashed before him, his daughter in the picture, her disheveled hair, the tears, the snot, the pleading eyes…

    As the cuffs reached for his wrist his mind suddenly snapped into crystal clear determination. He jerked his arm back violently and drove his elbow into the officer’s face with all the strength he could muster on such a short accelerating stretch. The officer’s head yanked back and he heard a satisfying crunch. He screamed at the top of his lungs, pushed his body back against the officer and rammed his elbow into his bloody face again. And again. Off-balance, the officer tripped and fell to the ground, groaning softly as his arms lifted to his ruined face.

    Breathing heavily, he contemplated briefly what he had just done. He stared blankly at the handcuffs lying next to his feet, the red and blue flashing lights reflecting off the shining metal. Then he looked up sharply, trying to get a bearing in which part of town he was. It was dark and deserted all around, but he seemed to recognize the small bridge just down the road. He hauled the driver’s door open and flung himself into the seat. Finding the keys already in the ignition, he started the engine. 11:35pm.

    Hang in there Lilly. Daddy’s coming to get you!

    He jammed the shift into first gear and gunned down the empty road, the roaring of the engine echoing into the night as he picked up speed.

    1. inkfire

      I love your story. You captured the MC’s emotions perfectly–and indirectly. It can be distracting when a writer says something to the effect of: he was really stressed out, or he was suddenly very scared. But you avoided this and used words that drew me further into your story. Good job

    2. Reaper

      Interesting story. You did a good job of showing instead of telling. It is a bit longer but I only saw a couple of places where there were things that could be tightened down into less words. So Great job. Fascinating character who I’m not sure if I like or not yet, which means I could definitely read more of this.

      For italics, hard to explain in the body here so best I can do is tell you it is html code and you can find how on this page. http://pd.clcillinois.edu/docs/basic_html.pdf

    3. Observer Tim

      You did a good job getting inside the MC’s head, tydra. I think breaking the story with the ‘FX’ paragraphs (red/blue, knock) were a really great technique.

      As for the italics, put <i>before and</i> after them, but you have to be very careful to balance the marks. HTLM is utterly unforgiving.

  22. Hiba Gardezi

    Sweet!
    That was all I could think as I opened my eyes in the backseat of a BMW 780C .I didn’t remember falling asleep in a car especially not in a car that wasn’t mine. I looked down at the black jumpsuit and ski mask I wore. Especially not as a thief in some one else’s car. My eyes shifted to the huge bags bursting with wads of cash burying my body. Especially not as a thief with a billion bags of money in a car that wasn’t mine.
    ‘Yo ! ’I called to the guy in front of me driving this sweetheart through the cocoon of trees on either side.
    ‘Haha Frankenstein your-‘
    ‘I said we could stick with Frankie’
    ‘okai okai dun be so glum’
    ‘Yea’ Murphy peeped his head back from the front seat ‘got 98 big uns’ he grinned his toothless grin.
    ‘Yo’ I said’ why the secrecy couldn’t you wake me up I missed all the action’
    ‘Bout that’ ozzies wide smile faded ‘they ad you n ‘ n’toxicated Frankie’
    ‘What?’
    ‘Yea ’ Murphy said ‘they used our spray gas, woke you up but you were sprayed ,probly dun rember ‘
    I raised my eyebrows
    ‘Oh you shut yo mout murph you aint talkin right since…’
    ‘Murphy’s eyes started to well up….the incden dun sai iit’
    ‘Kay the incden. So Frankie they used our gas on you durin the run, ‘ad to carry yo maself you owe me twenny fo that, by the way’
    So we’d been robbing the bank like wed planned. The police had sprayed our gas at me….
    I heard that familiar blare of police cars and saw their lights in the rearview.
    …the police were after us.
    ‘Yo murph get tout an ozzie stop the car ill put tup a shaow’
    They did as I told. The last few weeks they’d been completely under my command. I sprung out of the car and jumped onto the roof.
    ‘Ahaahaah saow yo ‘ere ’I said stripping the ski mask off my head
    ‘Any adea what yo doin’ Ozzie continued pulling off his mask
    ‘Yea huuhhhuu eny adea’ Murphy said stamping on his mask ‘uhhuhhhuh’
    ‘Bea it plice you out numbered’ ozzie said . Though that wasn’t true
    ‘What are you doin ere’ Murphy said
    Luke smiled in the dark under the light of the moon and a broken lamppost a little way ahead looking like a ghost. ‘I guess now you expect me to do this…’he held up his gun ‘…frank why don’t you tell them’
    I jumped off the car hood smiling and moved towards Luke.
    ‘Tricking you’
    ‘Wai Frankie ,you dun ave broen englis’
    ‘Hahaha oh you guys… Luke will you do the honours’
    ‘Course’ he grinned ‘your Frankie ,here is actually part of the NYPD . We sent him to the alleys a few years ago to fin you two, to befriend you. And then to lead you to us.’
    ‘Frankie…’ Ozzie asked
    ‘Foge tit Ozzie he jus a bak sta ber, stay way frum im’ Murphy said putting his arm in front of Ozzie.
    ‘You bet I am’ I said
    ‘Come on’ Luke said some of the police took pictures of them ‘its jail for you’ he turned ‘to me and a party for us.’
    I grinned. But as I saw my two ex -friends stuck behind bars I felt something. Something you can only feel when you’ve known someone. When you’ve smiled when they’ve smiled, cried when they’ve cried and kick butt when they’ve kick butt. Something more then guilt. That moment I realized I shouldn’t have joined them in the first place. Because when people are thrown in together in a bad situation only one thing is born. Friendship.

    1. cosivantutte

      It took me a while to get into the swing of what they were saying, but once I did, I loved this story. I especially liked how his thought pattern differed from his speech pattern, cluing us in to his reveal at the end.

      My only catch is in this sentence -> “When you’ve smiled when they’ve smiled, cried when they’ve cried and kick butt when they’ve kick butt.” I would change kick to kicked so it matches the verb pattern in the sentence (smiled, cried, kicked).

      Otherwise, great ending paragraph. 🙂

      1. Cceynowa

        I agree with cosivantutte. The speech pattern was a little hard for me to follow, but once I realized (aided immensely by the closing paragraph) what was happening in the story, I really enjoyed the concept. Interesting and creative twist on the prompt. Keep writing! Good job!

    2. Reaper

      I will say the speech pattern was a bit hard to get into for me as well. However that was worth it because I completely understood the backstabber line and it broke my heart. Oddly I felt no empathy for your MC, even when he was feeling down. But for his partners I did. Something about them going to jail when they seemed actually downtrodden to begin with. Maybe I’m in a damn the man mood, but this spoke to me. Well written and well played.

  23. inkfire

    Kleptomaniac—sort of
    Psycologists say that habits aid in defining who we are as individuals. Me, I’d say my habit more accurately defines who I’m not. In the last year–no that’s too long a time frame, I’ve lost count. In the last month, I’ve been seventeen different people. I guess you could say I’m a kleptomaniac, sort of. Instead of stealing things, I steal lives.

    No, I don’t kill people, that would make me a serial killer, and I said I was a kleptomaniac, sort of. What I mean is, I steal identities. Sometimes the person is dead, sometimes the person is just out of town and I use their life for only a couple days, sometimes I make the person up entirely. I like variety. Which I suppose is why I got hung up on this habit to start with. You know what they say about habits: easy to start, hard to stop. And, once you’ve started, you sometimes don’t even know you’re doing it.

    The present makes a perfect example. Last night, I went to bed as Julia Smithers, a third grade teachers in a small town with almost nobody in it. However, now I’m sitting in a car that definitely does not belong to Ms. Smithers and in clothes way too expensive for her even to think about buying. None of this scares me though—when you’ve got a strange habit you grow accustomed to strange occurrences and start rolling with it. Except for when flashing red and blue lights make you stop rolling. Then you improvise.

    “Hello ma’am,” said the cop walking up to my window, “may I ask what you’re doing out at this time of night?”
    “Driving the last leg of my journey home from a business trip, sir.” The way I’m dressed, this could totally not be a lie.
    The red and blue lights highlight the suspicion in his eyes. “I think I’m going to need to see some ID ma’am.”

    You and me both buddy. “Yes sir, one moment please.” My head swivels around, looking for a wallet or bag or anything in which any normal person keeps a drivers license. A very stylish purse (also way to expensive for Ms. Smithers) lies in the back seat which I snatch up and immediately feel the weight of. Opening the purse in my lap, I don’t think to shield the contents from the cop until it is too late. Our eyes spot the green-backed bills simultaneously.

    “If you could hurry up on finding that ID Ms, I think you need to finish your business trip in my vehicle.”
    “Have I done something wrong officer?” I continue to dig through the purse hoping to come upon a small rectangular card but all I find are more and more bills.
    “This is just a precaution, you will most likely be on your way in a couple of hours.” He puts a hand on the handle and opens the car door. “Follow me please ma’am.”

    I step out of the car, the heavy purse in my hand, and follow him towards the car. He walks with his head down, leaving his neck and back of his head vulnerable. Hardly thinking about it, I swing the purse, knocking the officer, unconscious, to the ground. Make that eighteen people I’ve been this month.

    1. Cceynowa

      I’m intrigued. Really intrigued. There seems to be so much back story to your MC, and I’m wanting to know how she came to be who she is (now) and who she was (originally) and where is she going next (in the cop car maybe)? Well done.

      1. inkfire

        In your opinion, if I could change one thing about this story (anything at all) to make it better, what would it be? I love writing and want to improve, so any input would be appreciated. Thanks for the kind words you’ve already said. This goes for anyone who reads my story.

        1. Cceynowa

          I wouldn’t necessarily “change” anything. You’ve presented an interesting and engaging story here. In relation to this forum, I try (and do not always succeed) to present a story that leaves readers understanding the beginning, middle, and end of my 500-ish segment. That is how I use this forum. It is a practice spot for me to test out new techniques and the prompts give me a mini-burst of inspirational fuel each week.

          This story flows well, presents the ideas in an orderly fashion, and your MC’s (main character’s) personality shines through. Don’t change anything, just keep writing!

        2. lionetravail

          I think this is wonderful. I agree with Ccey, i don’t think any story elements need to be changed, just some editing to clean up a bit. It’s a great story!

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a thought-provoking story, Inkfire. You’ve created and developed a fascinating MC with a truly strange personality and backstory. It would make an excellent introduction to a collection of stories or about the people this individual has become.

      The only thing I can see, which is more of a style thing, is “My head swivels around,” which stands out because everything else is “I” not body parts. It would probably be better rendered as “I turn my head”.

    3. Reaper

      This was interesting. The detached voice works really well for the character you are creating. It definitely feels like an opening to something longer. If I were to make one suggestion it would be one word. You have the MC say sometimes she uses an identity when someone is out of town. I would suggest changing that to borrow. Use feels judgmental and the rest of it feels like she is just going along and doing what she does.

    4. inkfire

      Thanks everyone for your compliments and input. I’ve always been a solitary writer but getting outside ideas is helping me grow stronger as a writer. There’s only so much I can do by myself to make my writing better. I really enjoyed writing this prompt and reading the other stories people came up with, ya’ll are some really talented writers and bring up interesting points when looking at my story. Thanks again

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You pulled me inside your story before I realized. I also would love to know the back stoty here. I think you have a great MC and could point this story in any direction you might choose. I would really like to read more.

  24. Observer Tim

    AWAKENING

    Nothing wakes you up like realizing you’re behind the wheel of a speeding car. Especially when you’re a thirteen-year-old girl and don’t know how to drive. And you glance around and realize that your right arm is metal and there’s a sports bag beside you with a bunch of cash in it and you’re wearing a hospital gown that’s not done up right so it keeps sliding down. And you somehow know you’re not dreaming. That’s the kind of day I’m having.

    No time for WTF; did I mention the speeding car? We sail out of the parking lot into traffic. Dodging cars at 60 is kind of like one of those racing video games, except there’s no reset if you hit something. I lean on what I hope is the brake and the car speeds up.

    Adrenaline level spiking.

    “Who said that?” I dodge past an SUV and some cars. Horns are honking.

    Pursuit detected.

    A siren sounds and red-and-blue lights start flashing behind me. I barely avoid some guy on a motorcycle and then rip through a busy intersection. The car is still speeding up.

    Probability of vehicular impact eighty-four percent and rising.

    “Aaaugh! What do I do!?”

    Remove foot from accelerator and turn left at the next intersection.

    Only one foot is on a pedal so I move it. I turn left and the car goes up on two wheels for a moment, then comes back down. There’s honking and screeching and a car-crash bump behind me, but the traffic thins out.

    And then there’s the steady stream people crossing the street in front of me. I hope the other pedal is the brake. It is.

    The car spins to the right and flips over and a pillow explodes in my face.

    Vehicle inoperable. Suggestion: continue on foot.

    “Duh!” I push on the car door and it crumples like tinfoil. Okay, my metal arm is very strong. I manage to slide out as the siren gets louder.

    Remember the bag.

    “Yes, mother!” I grab it and stagger to my feet. My legs are metal too! I run. At like twenty miles an hour.

    Jump this fence.

    I jump the fence and plunge twenty feet into a metal container. I’m in some kind of freight car and the train is moving. Now it’s time for WTF.

    “Okay, voice. Why am I half-metal? What’s going on?”

    Personality of cadaver Rebecca Forsythe has awakened during reconstruction. Mission parameters are being recalibrated.

    “Cadaver? I’m dead?”

    Correct.

    “How?”

    Extensive heat-related tissue damage indicates combustion.

    “I burned to death? So why am I still here?”

    Doctor Vortex has reassembled you to acquire the STAG.

    “You know that’s totally meaningless, right?”

    Incorrect. Doctor Vortex desires the Space-Time Anomaly Generator, the STAG, for his own purposes.

    “Isn’t he a super-villain?”

    Correct.

    “What if I refuse to do this?”

    Mission will be completed while biological unit is dormant.

    “You’ll do it in my sleep?”

    Correct.

    And that’s how my new life begins.

    1. madeindetroit

      Very entertaining story.
      Reminded me of KIt in the old Night Rider Series.
      I can imagine we’re not to far from something like this actually happening?

      Excellent writing.

    2. Cceynowa

      Bravo OT. This easily reads as the prologue to a fascinating and entertaining longer piece (I echo, literally, the above comments because they summed up my feelings perfectly). Thanks for sharing this!

    3. jhowe

      Very cool. Loved the voice. I like a story like this that you can read easily, get a little excited about and be completely entertained. What more could a reader want?

    4. Reaper

      Amazing Tim. The voice is great. Funny that you mentioned the video game aspect because this started out like that for me, then moved into comic land, and finally into the prologue of a very strong story. I’d read this.

  25. Bilbo Baggins

    I’M SO SORRY

    “Excuse me, do you know–”

    “How fast I was going? Absolutely not, officer.”

    “Well, over 100 miles an hour on that stretch back there.”

    “You don’t say?”

    “This is a state highway, not a drag racing runway, sir.”

    “I thought police weren’t supposed to make bad jokes.”

    “Do you want to come back to the station or not? We have plenty of gang leaders to read you a bedtime story.”

    “Fair enough. How much will the ticket cost?”

    “Oh, only the meager sum of $250. But there’s something else.”

    “My left rear blinker is flashing, I know, I was going to replace it–”

    “You’re in my car. With my pajamas on. With my savings in your lap.”

    “. . . You don’t say?”

    “Just let me see your license and registration. I hope this is all one big coincidence, and I can go home, take a good night’s sleep, and forget about idiots like you.”

    “That’s not very nice. And stop shining that awfully bright beam into my face. See, officer, this photograph right here…”

    “Yeah, looks like you lost 75 pounds and changed your hair and eye color in the past week.”

    “Ahhh… sleepwalking. Still haven’t gotten over that old habit.”

    “A sleepwalker doesn‘t speed up when I pull out behind him.”

    “Do you want to see the medical records or not? I’ve had it since I was five, when I walked into a laundry chute and almost sliced my head in two. Quite a tragic story.”

    “Unless you convince me otherwise, I’ll forcibly remove you from my car and arrest you for theft. Then, depending on the unpredictable court system, you could be in jail for around three years. Enough time for you to descend fully into lunacy.”

    “I would admit that I’m a time-traveling, teleporting archangel from Venus, but you probably wouldn’t believe me.”

    “No. I wouldn‘t.”

    “Like I said. So, simply put, I travel around the known universe in an invisible spirit shell similar to a dried apricot and descend down to earth when I’m needed. Today, I’m supposed to save an old woman’s cat from falling from a tree on Julian Street so he can, in turn, kill and eat the rat that’s carrying the bubonic plague which could wipe out humanity as we know it.”

    “Sounds entertaining. Can you please step out of the vehicle?”

    “Certainly. Do whatever you want, just don’t mind the corpse in the backseat.”

    “I thought archangels weren’t supposed to make bad jokes.”

    “We don’t. It’s just part of the cover we use to confuse humans.”

    “Well, some realistic cover you got there. Not to mention you used my hunting knife.”

    “What do you mean? I was only– oh. How did that bloody body get there?”

    “I’m afraid you and your apricot have bigger problems now.”

    “You don’t say?”

    1. lionetravail

      This is artful pure dialogue, and is ridiculously surreal feeling. Nutjob or archangel? I’d have to lean archangel… the assuming different shape and appearance would suggest going beyond a mere nutjob. On the other hand, it sounds like a real eff-up of an archangel.

      Doesn’t that old saying go “Men are from Mars, Archangels are from Venus”, or something like that?

      Great job Bilbo!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m totally awe struck from the read. I’m also totally confused by this. I’m sure it’s not an archangel unless it looks like John Travolta. I thinh it’s a total nut case. Either way, it was quite an amusing trip, Bilbo. What did you eat and drink before you wrote this? Can you send the recipe?

  26. Trevor

    Please comment your thoughts below. Sorry if it’s a bit long.

    While I Was Sleeping

    When I woke up that night, I looked up to blurry scenery. I was behind the wheel of a Mustang, speeding down the highway as fast as the wind. My hands were gripping the wheel so hard that my fingers were red. In the passenger seat was a black duffel bag. It was unzipped, so I could see the contents inside.

    The bag was filled with dollar bills.

    What was I doing here? Why was I behind the wheel of a car that wasn’t mine? How was I driving while I was sleeping? Where did I get all this money? Why didn’t I remember anything? And why was I wearing these clothes? I was wearing a black V-neck sweater, black jeans, and a crescent moon necklace was dangling from my neck. I didn’t remember changing clothes.

    The last thing I remembered was going to sleep that night. I had worked a late shift at the diner, so it was almost midnight when I got home. I was so tired that I practically collapsed into bed. It was a relief to finally go to bed so early. Ever since the dreams started, they’d been keeping me up half the night.

    The dreams were always so vivid and gruesome. In one, I had seen a man grab a young girl who was walking down the sidewalk at night, drag her into an alley, and then beat her to death. In another, I saw another man run over a woman with his car. Every dream was so violent and gory. One of the dreams got so bad that I wet the bed.

    Now, here I was, speeding down the road in someone else’s car with a bag of money at my side. Just as I was about to pull over to figure everything out, I saw flashing red and blue lights in the rearview mirror.

    It was a police car.

    As I pulled off the road with caution, I quickly zipped up the duffel bag. I didn’t want the officer to get the wrong idea. The officer came over to the driver side of the car and I rolled the window down. I was greeted by frigid air, sending chills down my spine.

    “What’s the problem, officer?” I tried to sound natural, but my voice was shaky. The officer was short but tough-looking. He knelt down to the window and stared at me with his beady, squinted eyes.

    “Are you alright, sir? You were swerving a bit.” The officer’s deep voice matched his appearance.

    “Oh. Sorry, officer. I-I’m just a little tired.” I wasn’t really lying. Despite dozing off so quickly earlier that night, I felt like I had been up for hours.

    The officer looked suspicious, but he didn’t ask any more questions. “Get home safe.” The officer warned as he walked away. He got back into his police cruiser and drove away. But I stayed there, trying to jog some memories. But it was like my brain was frozen. I started to get frightened. What had I done that would cause my brain to block out the memory?

    I turned the radio on, hoping some music would calm my nerves. But as I was getting lost in the rock song that playing, the blaring music was interrupted by a news bulletin. A female voice boomed through the speakers.

    “This just in, the Moonlight Slayer has struck again! That’s right, it has been confirmed that the notorious serial killer who has been plaguing our small town is back at it. Not only did he rob three local businesses at gunpoint, but he has also shot and killed seven innocent witnesses to the robberies!” The reporter was obviously dismayed over the brutal crimes.

    The reporter continued on. “But unlike the Moonlight Slayer’s previous crimes, to which there were no living witnesses, a teenage girl witnessed the first robbery at Perry’s All-Night Pharmacy and was able to give the police a detailed description of the man. She describes him as being tall and lanky with blue eyes, long blonde hair that went to his shoulders, and a smooth complexion. He was wearing a black V-neck sweater, black jeans, black leather boots, and had a crescent moon-shaped necklace. If you see this man, please alert the authorities and do not attempt to contact him, as he is described as extremely dangerous.”

    That’s when it all hit me like a wrecking ball. I was the Moonlight Slayer! The girl who witnessed that robbery gave a perfect description of me. The money in the bag beside me was from those robberies. I had murdered so many people! Ruined so many lives! But how? I didn’t remember robbing or shooting anyone. How did I commit those terrible crimes without remembering a thing?

    The dreams! They weren’t dreams at all! I must’ve been sleepwalking! That was the only way I could explain it. That was why I didn’t have any memory of my own deeds. I had mental problems when I was younger, but I thought I was over them. I thought those pills were supposed to cure me! But I guess they were just suppressing the violence I had inside me. They didn’t help me at all.

    I looked at the bag of money and noticed something underneath the leather bag. I pushed the bag to the floor and saw the gun lying on the seat. The gun I had used to kill innocent people would now kill a weak, damaged man. Me.

    As I put the pistol in my mouth, I closed my eyes and the memories came flooding back like water rushing from a broken dam. All the dreams that were realities. All the murders. All the crimes. All the dead bodies.

    I finally pulled the trigger and all the painful memories were gone forever.

    1. madeindetroit

      This was a really good story with a twist I didn’t expect.
      Your story is intense, well written and very emotional. Suicide is never pretty.
      I look forward to reading more of your work.

      Great job.

    2. Reaper

      Good story. You always ask for comments so here are a couple. I would start with your second (one line) paragraph and move the first one into the third. Ask the questions and then answer them with your opener. It creates a stronger sense of confusion and urgency.

      There are some points where you describe clinically where artistically would pull me in deeper. An example of this is the line The officer was short but tough-looking. He knelt down to the window and stared at me with his beady, squinted eyes. I would rewrite this as something like… The cop was short and tough, built like a bulldog with beady, squinting eyes to match. Something like that.

      Your two paragraphs after the reporter talking, I would suggest eliminating the first half of them and then combining them into one paragraph. The first couple of sentences of each tells us stuff we already know. You did such an excellent job of setting it up and giving us the info you don’t need to spoon feed it to us at that point. So just hitting us with the emotional wrecking ball would have more impact.

      Last, and this is just a personal pet peeve so please feel free to ignore, your MC is a mass murdered not a serial killer. Serial killers follow very specific patterns where mass murders kill whoever is convenient or in the way.

      With all of that said I would love to see this as a longer piece. Having the darkness take over and go after the girl while the MC is screaming in his own head. Finally aware of what is happening he is along for the ride. Then have him either taken down by someone or wrestle control from his demon to end his own life in front of the girl scarring her forever. Now part of that is me liking darkness, part of it is me really liking this story and wanting more, and part of it is Chekov’s gun. Having the girl without using her more seems unnecessary as a camera would serve the same purpose.

      Wow, I sound really nitpicky on this one and I’m sorry about that. I really liked it and you got me thinking a lot.

      1. lionetravail

        This was a good story, and I agree with Reaper on all his points, especially the parts about ‘spoon feeding’ us information: that falls under ‘exposition’, and is usually unnecessary if you set the scene well. An example:

        “he describes him as being tall and lanky with blue eyes, long blonde hair that went to his shoulders, and a smooth complexion. He was wearing a black V-neck sweater, black jeans, black leather boots, and had a crescent moon-shaped necklace. If you see this man, please alert the authorities and do not attempt to contact him, as he is described as extremely dangerous.”

        That’s when it all hit me like a wrecking ball. I was the Moonlight Slayer! The girl who witnessed that robbery gave a perfect description of me. The money in the bag beside me was from those robberies”

        I’d go with the first paragraph, but change the second to make it more chilling and visceral, and less ‘ho hum, that’s me!’…. ie:

        “I felt the hairs on my neck stand up, and my eyes flicked to the rear-view for confirmation. My reflection stared back at me, as though it had been conjured by the radio announcer’s words. I was suddenly sick to my stomach, my heart was racing, and my mouth was so dry I gagged on my ragged breathing. I put my hand out to steady myself and encountered the bag on the seat next to me: it rustled, full of paper.

        Money. From a pharmacy?

        I was violently ill all over the steering wheel and dashboard as recognition kicked me in the stomach…”

        — you can make your description of the mental and physical effects on your character of the stunning and frightening realization, and show us his reaction rather than tell us- it’ll feel so much more urgent and important that way.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a dark tale, Trevor. When I first read it I was totally satisfied, but I think Reaper’s suggestions would definitely add an element of polish (and of extra length) to the tale.

      My only bit of advice goes with the handling of the clothes in the third paragraph. The expository sentences would be stronger if combined and inverted, something like “I didn’t remember changing into a black v-neck … necklace; in fact, I didn’t remember changing into anything.”

  27. Manwe38

    This is a mixture of several different themes; hopefully, it doesn’t come across as too jumbled.

    ***

    The officer leaned down, sending the conflicting odors of spearmint gum and smokeless tobacco roaring up my nose like a just-launched missile. I smiled, still unsure of how I got here, and handed him my license. His brow furrowed as he scanned it in silence, his expression unreadable behind the fake aviator shades. Finally, he spoke.

    “Mr. Grey?”

    Was that my name? It hadn’t been when I’d gone to bed last night, but like the wrinkled skin and grizzled beard, many things had suddenly become unfamiliar. Like what the hell I was doing here, and how did I end up in these hideous robes? Inches away, the cop tilted his head, the gum cracking and popping as his jaw got a workout. Despite the dry mouth and jackhammer in my chest, I decided to play along.

    “Yes, that’s me.”
    The cop frowned. “For real?”
    “I don’t understand.”
    “Gandalf the Grey. It says it right here.”
    “Um…” I hadn’t looked at the license before handing it over. Perhaps I should have. “Yes, yes it is!”
    The cop smiled. “I loved that movie!” he said. “You were the bomb!”
    I felt the corners of my mouth twist. “Uh, thanks.
    “I mean wow, your fireworks, and the way you fought that Balrog…awesome!”

    My lips parted, but no sound came out. The cop didn’t notice. “Here.” He handed me back my license. “No need for this. We’re good.”
    Now it was my turn to smile. “You sure?”
    “Absolutely. I love wizards.”
    This was stranger than strange, but who was I to tempt fate? “Thank you.”
    “No problem.” He began to straighten up, then stopped. “Only one thing.”
    “What’s that?”
    “I need to know what’s in your bag.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    He pointed to the passenger seat. “Your bag. Open it.”

    I turned to my right, where a gnarly little sack perched on the worn leather seat like a sleepy brown cat. “This?”
    “That’s what I said.”
    As I reached for the lump of knotted cloth, a wave of ice shot through my chest, and my hand froze in midair. “You know,” I said, “maybe this isn’t such a good idea.”
    “Why not?”
    I turned to face him. “Whatever’s inside does not want to come out.”

    “What a pity.” The cop put a hand on rim of his glasses. “I was hoping we could do this the easy way.” He ripped the shades off, revealing two orange globes blazing with fire. “Guess not.”

    “What the-” I shrank back, but only for a moment. Inside my head, I felt a click, then understanding suddenly surged through me like a tsunami flooding an unsuspecting beach. Without even thinking, I reached inside my robe and emerged with a twisted wooden staff; with a flick of my wrist, it grew to almost two feet in length.

    “The Shadow shall never triumph!” I shouted as I threw open the door and rose to full height. “The Jewel is mine, and so shall it ever be! Go back to the Abyss, foul servant of Morgoth!”

    The blazing eyes grew, melting the face around them into a river of fleshy wax. “Your doom is nigh, old Greybeard. Prepare to die.”
    I raised my staff, the air around me crackling like a sheet of old plastic, and charged. As the battle was joined, a strange thought flashed through my head, something about choosing a red versus blue pill, but then it was gone, and the fight was on…

    ***
    The tech looked up from his iPhone 12. “Heart rate’s high.”
    Next to him, the neurologist shrugged. She’d stopped caring when she’d lost her old job, and it showed, but hey, at least this gig paid the bills. “So give him a shot.”
    “You don’t want to see?”
    “Nah. Don’t want to get up.”
    “What if he codes?”
    “The pads on are; just push the button.”
    “It didn’t help the last guy.”
    “Then shut it down.”
    The tech shook his head. “I’ll get in trouble for that.”
    “Stop complaining, then.” She yawned. “I’m trying to nap.”

    The tech reached for a syringe. “Can I give five of lopressor?”
    “Sure. Just let me sleep.”
    “Okay.” The tech sighed. Trips to Mars he could handle, but these Tolkien freaks were just plain weird, not to mention adrenalin junkies. This was the third one this week, and they had all nearly managed to die in the simulator. But they’d signed a release, and it was their money, so he was obligated to follow the rules. If he didn’t, he would be out, no questions asked.

    His contract with Rekall was clear on that point.

    1. cosivantutte

      This was awesome!

      This part in particular cracked me up -> “What a pity.” The cop put a hand on rim of his glasses. “I was hoping we could do this the easy way.” He ripped the shades off, revealing two orange globes blazing with fire. “Guess not.” It’s just so over the top it makes me happy.

    2. Cceynowa

      Wait… whaaat??? Excellent reveal to, um, make it make sense? Seriously, this was great. I had no idea where you were going with this, but I loved it. If only there was a simulator. I’d totally sign up. Legalos, here I come!

      1. Manwe38

        Lol, I came up with that one on the fly, while my seven-and-five year old sons were fighting each other for use of my iPhone. The neurologist, well, she’s a little burned out.

    3. lionetravail

      What a totally fun choice for this one, Manwe! I love it- it’s like a song mash-up of LOTR and Total Recall, and it just works awesomely. I’m not sure where this should be published, but it’s impish, well-told, and should be. Nice, nice job!

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully twisted story, Manwe. It makes total sense that fantasy junkies would turn to a service like Rekall to live out (and die in) their genres. Mine would be … an idea for a story (not the one I posted today).

      THANKS! 🙂 😉

  28. cosivantutte

    Rocking. Rocking. Rocking. The maternal motion kept Jack Jilhouse subdued and endlessly asleep. A hard jolt startled him awake. Darkness. Complete darkness. Power outage? he wondered.

    Rocking. Rocking. Rocking. He frowned. Why is my bed moving?

    The scent of burnt wood curled down to his face. Smoke. Smoke! Something’s on fire. My house!

    He sat up quick. Only then did he notice the darkened world rushing past his windows. Windows? I have only one window in my room. Why is everything rushing past me? Where am I?

    A four-fingered hand caressed his hand. He shot a panicked look to his left. In the darkness, a pair of cat eyes glowed, staring at him.

    He rescued his hand and scrabbled backwards until he bumped into something hard. A door? Is it a door?

    “Don’t be afraid.”

    “What? Where?”

    “It doesn’t matter, my lord. We’ll be home soon.”

    “Home.” He thought of his bungalow – a home for one, cozy and snug. He looked at her cat-like eyes and wondered what or where she considered home.

    “When we return, you will have to face Lord Eina. It will not be easy. This land, this air, that water they call beer has changed so much about you. Many of your serfs and vassals will deny the truth of your identity. But Lady Vlan’s blood still flows through your veins. I can hear its soft melody. That is how I found you. That is how I know that you are you.”

    He shook his head. “I’m sorry, but you have me confused with someone else. I am Jack Jilhouse.”

    “No. You are Lord Deama.”

    Snapshots clicked, clicked, clicked in his head. Each picture was inhabited by creatures with large cat-like eyes and flat noses. Fangs and claws. Slender bodies and long limbs. Gray skin mottled with black spots and soft stripes. Joy and sorrow. Betrayal. The picture show ended with Jack looking at himself in the mirror. His reflection was not human.

    He could feel the blood drain away from his face. “That is not me. I’m not. I’m not…”

    “You are.” She cleared her throat. “I brought you a change of clothes. You will change into them when we return home. I don’t know how well they will fit you, but they will have to do until we can get you to a tailor. I brought money for the border fees. I had to rob a Mom and Pop Bank to get the money—”

    “You robbed a bank?” he exclaimed.

    Red and blue lights disco danced on the ceiling and the back of the front seat – fireflies in Halloween costumes dancing to a siren’s wail.

    “The cops! What are you going to do?”

    She plopped a heavy sack in his lap. “Hold on to this.” She leaned forward and spoke softly to the driver.

    The police car pulled alongside them, whoop-whooping at them to pull over.

    Jack’s law-abiding nature wanted his driver to obey, but then he looked at the bag of loot in his lap. “Hey, can you drive a little faster?” It sickened him to say it.

    She sat back and grinned a fang-baring grin at him. “Buckle up. It’s going to be one fliniga of a ride.”

    The police car whooped at them again and started to swerve into their lane.

    Jack buckled up his seat belt. He had no idea how they were going to get out of this, but he was ready. More or less.

    The car accelerated, shooting well past the police car. Jack clutched the money bag and held on for dear life. Please don’t let the cop shoot us. He prayed it over and over until the words jumbled into utter nonsense.

    The police car flanked them again. “Pull over now or I will shoot.” The cop’s voice boomed through his car’s outside speaker. “Pull over now.”

    “Now!” she said.

    The car sped even faster until it was airborne, flying far off into the starless night.

    1. lionetravail

      Wow, nicely written, and a jarring cross-genre scene that worked really, really well. Vampires, flying cars, borders and what sound like fiefdoms… yeehah! Great job here Cosi… it comes across like the beginning of a new mythology where worlds slipped somehow.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      What an intruiging story, and I really liked the language. The imagery and the onomatopoeia dovetailed great witht the atmosphere and the MC’s own disjunct train of thought. Maybe you could try and put the MC’s inner monologue in italics (no idea how to do that myself, but I’ve seen it done so somehow it’s possible 😉 ). The car wasn’t by any chance a Ford Anglia, was it?

    3. Observer Tim

      Very nice, cosi. Ain’t it a bugger when people from your homeland (homeworld) come to take you back?

      I love the extremely poorly-chosen human name and the way you did the slow reveal of the aliens’/monsters’ appearance.

      One thing slightly confused me: were the snapshots in his head memories or external projections? Just curious.

  29. Sophia K

    “Shut up!”

    My eyes shoot open and strain to focus in a moment’s notice.

    “I said shut up!” A man screams furiously.

    Is he speaking to me?

    I’m already sitting up straight, and my mind is going a mile a minute. I don’t know what I’m thinking about, but it’s stealing away my energy. I look around to find myself in a car, next to a man, with the world running past me. What is happening?

    “We’ll get through this, just a bit further and we’ll lose them!” The man yells again.

    He bends over the steering wheel in anticipation. Nothing is stopping him now.

    “What?” I yell back.

    He doesn’t acknowledge my stump of a question.
    Suddenly a blue light flashes through the car window. In a millisecond it turns red. The light’s reflection changes in that fashion continuously.
    The sirens flood in.
    As if the police siren has truly woken me, my senses come alive.
    The sirens pierce my ears.
    The smell of grain alcohol penetrates my nostrils.
    The taste of salt overwhelms my tongue till a pint of saliva rises.
    The dirt path in front of the car window becomes abundantly clear.
    And in my hands I feel a plastic bag full of dollar bills.
    The last thing I remember is lying down in my bed with the lamp on a dim setting.
    I look to my captor besides me with a faint hope that he has a plan.
    His eyes quickly dart to see me, and then back to the road. He begins to laugh like a psychopath.

    “I don’t know what I’m doing.” He chuckles.

    His right eye twitches and his tongue hangs over his lower lip and flutters about.
    He lets go of the wheel with his right arm. I notice a small growing bruise on the other side of the elbow. This man has taken heroin.
    He continues to chuckle as his eyes acquire a tint of red coloring, the color of madness.

    “Pull the car over, now.” I mumble with a small rush of courage.

    His head shoots to face me. His pupils are dilated to a point where I know he’s going to doing something bad.
    Something worse than whatever we did to get this money.
    He chuckles a bit louder now and continues to watch me. I feel the car speeding up.
    The cop’s siren gets a bit fainter as the flashing recedes to the back of the car.

    “Did I not tell you,” He giggles, “to shut up?”

    He continues to watch me. I try my best to look away from his gaze.
    I look through the front car window to see the road curve to the right. We’re turning left.

    “Look at the road!” I scream.

    He laughs louder than before, keeping his eyes focused on me.
    I look back towards the road, which seems to have disappeared. A series of trees stand before us.
    This isn’t supposed to happen.
    Whose life is this?

    “Look at the-”

    1. lionetravail

      This story echoed the confusion of the main character for me, feeling as choppy as her thoughts seemed to be as she woke to find herself in the middle of whackoland, her mind going “a mile a minute’- it felt like that. What sold the whole thing was the perfect line at the end: “Whose life is this?” Great job with this.

      One or two constructive points- not sure that ‘my stump of a question’ was what you intended? Did you mean ‘stumper’, or something else relative to the story which i missed? The other point is your word choice “captor”… is he her ‘captor’? There’s nothing in the story to that point to suggest that he took her by force… it telegraphs a certain mood which I’m not sure if you mean- the question of whose life it is means that maybe he’s not a captor. At least it’s a point to clarify, I think.

      Overall, the style here is great. Nice job!

      1. Sophia K

        Thank you for the feedback and I’m glad the feeling of confusion was so well expressed. I wanted to say something basic like “I asked.” The problem was that the question “What?” is so plain and small that I decided to relate it to something small and incomplete, like a tree stump. I had a lot of trouble with the word to place for the man and ended up with “captor.” I was going to say companion or partner, but seeing as the main character has no comprehensible relationship with him I decided to use the word “captor.” I think it may fit in some way, because if I were to wake up in some person’s car I would immediately assume the other person has kidnapped me. Also, I kind of hinted at the fact that she was captured with the line “The taste of salt overwhelms my tongue till a pint of saliva rises.” The date rape drug put in drinks to knock somebody out has a distinct taste of salt, which may help relate to the term “captor.” This was too subtle, and I will focus more on the words I use. Thank you 🙂

        1. lionetravail

          Cool- I did not know that about the date-rape drug (I assume rohypnol?), so I learned something tonight! Thanks for that. You may be right about it being subtle if you don’t know that little fact- easily adjusted.

          Again, thanks, and nice work.

    2. Reaper

      This was confusing in a lovely way. It is not often that I feel a story does that to me intentionally but I did here. That Whose life line brought it all home for me. I will say for me that stump was a perfect word. While I might have agreed with captor I thought it put a terrifying feel to the story that felt intentional. Seeing your comments I see we are of an accord there. This was blazing fast and so well written. The only part that bumped me out was going to doing which is a simple edit.

      1. Sophia K

        Thank you for the feedback! I’m glad that in each one of these prompt stories someone mentions a phrase or sentence that they appreciated. Some may think of this as a small compliment, but for me it brights up my day. And I’m glad you understand my wording. Thank you so much for your compliments and I will look a bit closer for minor imperfections next time. Again, because I can’t say this enough, thank you!

    3. Observer Tim

      This is fantastic, Sophia. You did a great job building that sense of confusion; normally my red pencil would ask about the structure of the ‘paragraph of impressions’ in the middle, but it appears to be an artistic twist and it was very fitting. I could tell that both of them were feeling the effects of mind-altering chemicals – given her use of the word ‘captor’, not willingly in her case (your response to lione confirmed that).

      I am truly intrigued by the last three sentences. They hint at the presence of a broader and stranger story begging to be told…

      1. Sophia K

        Thank you for the feedback! I always seem to have trouble with my sentence structures, so I just indent when I feel as though it fits. For all these prompt stories I do leave the endings for the reader’s imagination. The trouble with all these prompts is that you can only submit a story of 500 words, so I write a scene that the reader chooses if it ends or continues. Thank you for reading my comments to get all the information because the last thing I want to do is repeat everything. Again, thank you for the compliments/feedback! 🙂

  30. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    I went to bed that night alone even though I was with a nameless woman from the bar I frequented all too often. When I woke, I was somewhere else.

    I looked around. It wasn’t my bag of money sitting next to me. It wasn’t my clothes nor was it my car. It wasn’t my smell nor was it even my heartbeat. The gun on the passenger seat, well, that wasn’t mine, either. However, I recognized all of it.

    The horizon ahead disappeared into the blackest of nights, only brightened intermittently by the alternating lights of the police cruiser. As the officer approached the blue sedan, he kept his hand on the hilt of his sidearm and he stepped cautiously. When he reached the window, I rolled it down using the cheap crank near my knee.

    The officer leaned down, and peered through the window. He kept his lips tight, and his stance bold. He studied not only my appearance but also my reactions to his appearance. After a moment of an unsettling stare, he used his flashlight to look around the car and said, “Do you know why I pulled you over.”

    “I have no idea, officer.” I said, and as he opened his mouth to explain whatever crime he committed, I interrupted, “You should know, I have a bag of money in the passenger seat here. Under it is a gun.”

    He tilted his head, slightly confused about my confession. When that short moment ended, he said, “Sir, keep your hands where I can see them and step out of the vehicle.”

    “I can’t.”

    “What?” The officer said, further confused by my actions. “I said step out of the car and keep your hands visible at all times.”

    I reached to the passenger side of the car and grabbed the hilt of the gun. I said, “I really can’t do what you ask.”

    The officer pulled his gun, and even though I didn’t look at him, I could feel the weapon pointing at my head. Instead, I looked up at the rear view mirror. As the shadows danced around the car in blue and red satin strobes, I saw him looking back at me. Those sunken eyes, that unruly beard, and the matted hair were all too familiar.

    “Sir, I asked you to step out of the car and keep your hands visible at all times.”

    Visions of the man’s dark smile and murderous eyes filled my memories from what would happen the following day. His wicked laugh as it echoed through the lobby, orchestrating the hushed cries of people lying about the floor, could be heard as clear as if he was laughing just then. I remembered him pointing the gun at the room, and I recalled each shot as they rung out and each bullet as they struck my wife. I remembered how the news said a lazy police officer let him go the night before, which would have stopped his bank robbery spree all that happened to all those people.

    I remembered all of it, and I cried. He cried, too, but they weren’t his tears to shed even though he produced them. It’s important to make that distinction.

    “Sir, I’m going to ask you one more time!” The officer screamed more forcefully, but before he could repeat his command, I lifted the gun toward the window.

    The officer didn’t hesitate. He opened fire, and I felt each bullet strike me. The pain was intense albeit fleeting, and then darkness consumed me.

    When I woke, I was in my bed. My wife slept next to me, and our unborn child rested silently in her womb. I turned toward her, and she opened her eyes to reveal those emerald gems I fell in love with more times a day than I could count. She smiled, and only I smiled in return.

    1. lionetravail

      That was really great, Jay- it was a nice, slick little story that could be just one of dozens of experiences your MC has…. with unveiling the underlying reason or cause being the thrust of a longer one. It’s almost like a superhero story, where the guy’s power is to enter evil people while he’s sleeping and stop them, somehow, from doing evil.

    2. Reaper

      I got lost in this, in the best ways. Only one part really confused me. In the beginning your MC mentions going home with a woman from a bar. Is that the MC stepping out, or is it a mingling of the thoughts of the the MC and the guy who in the previous future killed his wife? I’m assuming it is the latter but just want to make sure.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderfully mindbending take, Doc. I had to read it through twice to figure out what was going on. Part of me thought it was a dream sequence until the inconsistencies slapped me around and told me he was starting another life. Hopefully not, but probably as short as the one before.

  31. Anyanwu Butler 3

    My first time posting here…

    DOWNEY!!!
    Not my car, but a sports car, Downey’s sports car. Clothes I’d never wear on a bet, and a paper bag full of cash, from “The Judge,” I sincerely hope.
    Am I wearing his face or mine? Whose id do I have? No time, here comes the officer.
    Do you know why I pulled you over?
    No officer, switching on the camera on the i-phone plugged into the dash, because civilians, even movie stars, can’t be too careful around cops, lately.
    You rolled through a stop sign, Mr. Downey.
    Well, at least I know who I look like.
    May I see your license and registration, Mr. Downey?
    Look, reading the name on his badge and turning on the Downey charm I’ve only seen onscreen, Officer Thompson, it’s 3:15 in the morning. I’m just going home after a long night of filming. I live two blocks away. If I give a sizable donation to the Beverly Hills Police Benevolent Association, can this all go away? My wife will kill me if I get another ticket.
    You haven’t been using?
    No, sir, not for several years.
    All right then, go on home. Make a full stop at stop signs. Have a restful night.
    That’s not very likely, if I stay in this body. Why do I keep switching bodies with Robert Downey, Jr.? What does he need that I have or vice versa? There’s got to be a reason for this happening, doesn’t there? Last time it was right before a meeting with Joss Whedon about making a biopic about me, based on the play “The Great Stone Face.”
    I go to Downey’s house, park his car, let myself in, with his keys. Go to sleep on his couch and hope I wake up as myself in my own bed.

    1. lionetravail

      Ooh, is this a continuation from the body switching prompt? If so, nicely done!

      The main constructive comment I’d offer is to put anything the characters say inside quotation marks, so we know it’s an out lout voice and not just story narrative. Like “Do you know why I pulled you over?”, then “No officer.” I switched on the camera….

      Very entertaining and nice connection all the way back those weeks!

    2. Observer Tim

      Very clever, Anyanwu. I love the way you tied it back to the RDJ prompt even though it is your first post. Welcome aboard!

      I agree with lione about the quotation marks. Also, for the sake of aging eyes like mine, it doesn’t hurt to put an extra blank line between paragraphs.

    3. Cceynowa

      Welcome to the club Anyanwu! This was a fun and engaging read. The “tricks of the trade” (quotations, spaces between paragraphs, etc) will come in time and with experience posting, so don’t worry about that aspect of this forum. I really liked how you brought up the idea of RDJ initiating the switch, makes me wonder what in your MC’s life RDJ is needing, since it obviously isn’t your MC’s want to keep switching bodies. Great job!

      1. Anyanwu Butler 3

        Thanks Lione, Observer Tim & Cce,
        for your constructive ideas and very nice welcome. I’ve been writing on these prompts for a long time, yes, I wrote a response to the original RDJ story, too. It seemed like it was time to join the fun!

    4. Reaper

      Welcome to posting Anyanwu Butler 3!

      This is nice and makes sense that you go back there now that you mention that you have been writing without posting. Loved the story and the throwback.

      Mostly what I would have said has been covered and is just basic stuff. Which means you have a lot of talent when it comes to crafting the story. There is one, and only one, flow of story issue for me. You mention the bag of money and hope it’s from the judge. Then you say, at least I know who I look like, then you go into how this keeps happening. So one of three things seems off to me. Either he shouldn’t know it’s from the Judge because he doesn’t know who he looks like until later. Or, he shouldn’t be surprised by who he looks like. Or, he’s switching bodies with multiple people which is something we would need explained a bit further.

      Keep posting these and I’ll look forward to reading them!

  32. Pete

    “This isn’t good, Nichols,” said Wills, Director of Media Relations and resident do-gooder.
    “Well, thanks for the insight, Wills,” the Mayor growled. Wills scoffed into the phone, leaving little mystery to what he thought about this latest transgression.

    “Just cooperate. I’ll handle the press.”

    Mayor Nichols tossed the phone and stared out through the streaky tint of the driver’s side door. Two cruisers sat, one on each side, doors opened and guns drawn. Not an ideal way to win a reelection campaign. Even in Cleveland.

    The car was facing a row of warehouses, covered with scaffolding, all part of his downtown revitalization effort. After rehab and the public apologies, he’d been so determined to get his shit together. How could this happen? The Mayor’s eyes fell to his lap and he gasped. Not at the pile of money or even the fucking Glock on his lap, but at the dress he was wearing.

    Well shit.

    “No, no, no no….,” he mumbled, looking into the rearview mirror. Smeared mascara, lipstick. He checked his nostrils for signs of blow. He was clean. But just when he began to put together an exit strategy something moved in the back seat. “Holy Mother of God”

    “What is it, baby?” came a deep voice from under cheap blonde wig. Oh God. Please don’t let it be a….

    It was a man wearing some very revealing women’s clothing. Well at least I’ll get the gay vote now, he thought, as the figure sat up and tossed her hair back. Definitely a man.

    “Oh don’t act like we didn’t have fun last night.”

    Words failed the mayor.

    “Oh come on Dougie, every time we have some fun, the next morning you get all, ‘Oh I’m Mr. Mayor, fighting for traditional family rights.’”

    “PLEASE STEP OUT OF THE CAR WITH YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”

    With Blondie in the back, the mayor had somehow forgotten about Cleveland’s finest.

    “Well, you heard them, I guess we better…”

    The phone hummed. The mayor fished it out from between the seats. “Yeah.”

    “The Monte Carlo belongs to a one Rafael Burgess, a pre-op hooker with a string of drug and solicitation charges. And, by the way, are you wearing a dress? And if you are, let me ask you a follow up question, Mr. Mayor. Are you trying to see how hard you can make my job?”

    He reminded himself to fire the pretentious jerk. After all, the good voters of Cleveland had proven to extremely understand. That or dangerously uninformed.

    The chopping in the sky got louder. Rafael peeked out the passenger window. “You know, this is kinda like Thelma and Louise. You’re definitely Thelma though, because—“

    “Please! I’ll give you this bag of money if you just please SHUT UP.”

    “Mr. Grouchy.” Rafael moaned, crossing his arms and pouting. The mayor put she phone back to his ear.

    “Is that….the hooker? Dear God, Nichols, is she, with you? Because Jesus…”

    The mayor returned the phone to the folds in the seat. In a way he found it fitting, that in that whirl of commotion, sitting in the foul smelling Monte Carlo, his life combusting in spectacular fashion that his thoughts could come so clearly. He thought of is family. How he’d shamed his kids and how his wife had stuck by him through the elections and public thrashings. He looked to the police officers, guns drawn and lights swirling. This is how he repaid her.

    The mayor eyed the Glock. How could the voters ever see past what he’d done?

    Rafael put a hand on the mayor’s shoulder. From the back he heard the pull of the door handle, inviting the chaos outside into the car. “Well, Thelma, it’s time.”

    Mayor Nichols nodded. He exhaled a shaky breath and then reached for the gun. He lifted it to his temple. Then, with the police shouting and the helicopters and the press and the shame, he pressed the gun hard to his skull. Soon it would all be quiet.

    “Mayor no! It’s all just a joke!” Rafael grabbed the gun. His wig was gone as was the sultry baby talk. It was Paul, an advisor from the office.“None of this is real,” he pulled the empty clip from the gun, his face pale with shock.

    “It’s just….Happy Birthday Mr. Mayor.”

    1. lionetravail

      Hahahaha! Not an ideal way to win a re-election campaign. Not even in Cleveland. Awesome!

      Though I think the practical joke just might have been taken too far. Just saying.

      Inventive story with some wonderfully funny/ironic bright spots. Great take, Pete!

    2. Observer Tim

      Whoa, that was a ride, Pete! You caught me totally off-guard with the reveal. Excellent job, though I think the pranksters behind it might not have excellent jobs any more…

      Why is it practical jokers never quite know when to stop?

    3. Reaper

      I loved the line, even in Cleveland. It set such a tone. The end was definitely a blindside. Loved the Thelma and Louise reference and was expecting the end to be based on that. In some very good ways this reminded me of The Game.

  33. jhowe

    The clerk at Heidi’s Hideaway was shocked to see a naked man burst through the front door and run into a dressing room. There were no other customers in the small store on Division Street in Chicago and she felt very vulnerable at the moment. A few passersby stood at the window looking in and she considered calling the police and joining them on the sidewalk.

    A voice from the dressing room said, “Can you please help me?”

    “What do you want?” she said shakily. “I’m calling the police.”

    “Please,” Jack Pierce said. “Can you loan me something to wear?”

    “What are you doing here?”

    Jack cracked the door open and stuck his head out. “Anything please; I just need something to wear. I have no idea what’s happening to me.”

    The girl backed away but something in the man’s eyes stirred a feeling of compassion. “Uh, what size do you wear?”

    “Thirty two pants, large shirt. I don’t care what.”

    She selected the items and draped them over Jack’s outstretched arm. “Thank you so much,” Jack said closing the door. A minute later he walked out wearing jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. “Not bad. Do you happen to have any shoes? Size ten.”

    The clerk chose a pair of brown Rockport loafers and handed them to him. Slipping them on he said, “What’s your name? I’m Jack.”

    “It’s Wendy. What’s going on?”

    “I wish I knew,” Jack walked to the door. “I’ll come back and pay for these clothes as soon as I can. Thank you so much for your help Wendy.”

    Jack ran through the door and the onlookers parted. He had lied to Wendy about not knowing what was going on. The one thing he hadn’t considered was arriving naked. Jack looked at his wrist and was not surprised to see his watch was gone. He found a jewelry store and looked in the window at a display featuring a miniature grandfather clock. He had nine minutes to make the transfer.

    At the Fifth Third bank on Michigan Avenue, A black Lexus idled at the curb. Two hooded men ran from the bank and threw cloth bags into the back seat as three police cars with sirens blaring closed in. The robbers drew guns and started firing. The cops exited the vehicles, staying low and returned fire. The hooded men ran behind an adjacent delivery van. As a third police car arrived and skidded to a stop behind the van Jack walked to the Lexus and opened the driver’s side door and got in. He put the car in gear and drove past the melee quickly. The rear window shattered. Jack did not know if the police or the robbers had fired. As he knew would happen, a fire truck pulled up to the scene and Jack managed to maneuver the Lexus around it before it blocked the street.

    On the other side of the city Jack sat in the Lexus in a covered parking structure. He had at least an hour to kill before the portal opened. He was facing a major dilemma that he had not accounted for. If his clothes and his watch did not transfer through the portal it was inevitable that the money would not return with him to the year 2019. He was either stuck here with piles of stolen cash and a price on his head or he would return empty handed. All his years of research and looking for the Oracle’s Den would be in vain. Madame Veldez had granted him one round trip ride to an exact time and place exactly five years into the future. It had taken him months to find the perfect opportunity and it had worked almost flawlessly.

    Jack removed four hundred dollars from one of the bags, locked the car despite its missing rear window and walked away. He considered hiding the money which theoretically would be waiting for him on his return. But where to hide it was the question and Jack did not feel he had the time or the gumption now. He hailed a cab and rode back to Division Street. He walked into Heidi’s Hideaway and paid a bewildered Wendy for the clothes. He went in a Radio Shack and bought a pre-paid cell phone and walked two blocks to the portal location. Looking at the clock on the phone, Jack called 911 and told the dispatcher where the Lexus was parked, noted he had a little over a minute to wait and stood in the arranged spot. He was not looking forward to returning to the future dead broke and stark naked.

    1. Cceynowa

      Have you seen the commercial where the genie is too literal? A wish for “a million bucks” is granted with a million male deer standing around? I know that have absolutely nothing to do with your story, but I couldn’t help thinking how there is always a catch when dealing with the “supernatural wish granters for profit and gain.” (Great reference to the prompt a couple weeks ago, btw.) This was a fun read all the way around!

    2. lionetravail

      Heh, this was totally inventive, Jhowe; I think you wrapped in, what, definitely 2, but it feels like 3 prompts? The story had a bit of chop to it- I’m guessing haste to post crept in, and it could be smoothed a little?- but it’s a fun story.

      This is what I’d consider a romp, and I just love the last line 🙂

    3. Observer Tim

      Wonderful time travel story, jhowe. I love it. Too bad the MC couldn’t find a way to hide to the money. Given an hour I probably could, though I would probably end up giving in to honesty anyway.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

    4. Reaper

      Nice writing. This is one of those stories that falls into an odd place for me. While fantastical and impossible it is so real. You have created in few words a world that is complete with its own rules and way of being. Amazing that you were able to do so. The story was a lot of fun to read.

  34. lionetravail

    Way to go, Reaper! Was hoping to sneak in as the first, but you got me- and with a wonderful, surreal take which is so disjointed it’s incredibly visceral. Great choice of format for this: it’s quick, action, and with bang on dialogue. Love it.

  35. Cceynowa

    It’s Time to Play
    Word Count: 535

    Gregory had insisted that they hide on the ground this time. Last time, their first time, they had been in a tree and Brittney had been so excited when the cop opened the trunk that she moved and caused a couple of birds roosting in the upper limbs to fly in panic. Gregory knew that they would have been busted if the dead bodies hadn’t demanded the cops’ attention. Their player, a man dressed in Gregory’s blood soaked overalls, had stare intently in their direction though. It was almost enough to make Gregory reconsider his and Brittney’s game; almost, but not quite.

    This time, they had decided to choose a woman to play. Brittney had insisted on equality, saying that women could be killers too. Gregory had found this ironic since she had made it clear that she didn’t want to do any of the actual killing. She was perfectly happy to steal the cars and to dress the players, but she refused to help kill and disassemble the bodies stowed in the cars. Regardless of who did what, together they accomplished the game’s goal: blame the killings on the player.

    Gregory had been worried when the woman had woken up before the cop had responded to Britney’s anonymous tip. They had had to run alongside the road in order to have a good spot to watch when the cop finally arrived and pulled her over.

    They were following their rules, playing only once a year, never killing in the same way, and choosing their player wisely. No one was going to ruin their fun. This woman though, gave Gregory a bad feeling. He had only agreed on her because she was the perfect candidate. She lived alone, worked a high stress job with long hours, had no close family, and virtually no personal relationships.

    He had watched her for over two weeks, studied her, and found her behavior strangely disturbing. Breaking into her house had been easy, drugging her had been a challenge. She was a small framed woman but her strength had surprised him. Brittney had asked if he wanted to help her dress the woman, and he had declined. He enjoyed the bodies he put in the car trunk, this time it was a couple of newlyweds hiking the more remote trails, but the woman made him uneasy.

    Britney drew his attention back to the scene on the road with a nudge to his ribs. The cop had the woman out of the car and she was casually leaning against the driver’s side door. The cop was looking skeptical to whatever she was saying, and who could blame him? The woman was dressed in heavy working clothes, obviously not her own, she had a bag full of money that she couldn’t explain, and was driving a stolen car. The woman should be panicking, Gregory thought, and yet she seemed to be in control of the situation. She pointed towards the forest and when the cop looked she easily drew his gun and shot him three times in the chest.

    Brittney and Gregory fled into the forest as the woman shouted, “My turn to play! Come out, come out, where ever you are.”

    1. lionetravail

      what a brilliant take on this, Ccey! nicely done story, and with a super twist. i’m so glad that it seems like at least one of these sociopaths is gonna get killed. this could be an amazing film teaser, where No one is a good guy 🙂

    2. Cceynowa

      Thanks all! I feel like this one isn’t very well polished, but I was writing it between meetings and wanted to finish it before I forgot where I was going with it, which can happen sometimes… oh look, a wayward paperclip…. hmmm… ideas dissolving. Thought lost. 🙂

      1. Cceynowa

        Thank you OT; your praise and encouragement mean a lot to me. I wasn’t sure about this one when I started it, but I liked the psychopaths accidentally kidnapping a psychopath. What are the odds?

    3. Reaper

      I was going to mention polish. Since you did I won’t. This could be a film teaser, I agree, but it is really a beautiful beginning to a book I would intend to read for an hour or so and finish in a night then suffer for it the next day at work. Very few books do that to me, but I can tell this would if expanded. Wonderful writing and such an intense and interesting story.

      1. Cceynowa

        Thank you Reaper. I’m humbled by your comment, and encouraged to continue with my writing. Please never hesitate to “red-pen” anything I submit. Though on this one, I’ve beaten myself up quite a bit… way too many errors. *hangs head in grammatical shame*

  36. lionetravail

    Leap Of Faith

    It happened again, but this was the first time I found myself waking up in the passenger seat of a moving car hurtling down a highway. After that first hitch in my breath, I glanced over at the driver. I caught the speedometer on the way over, and was shocked that we were going over 90.

    “Don’t you think we better slow down?” I said to the young woman- maybe a teenager- in the driver’s seat.

    “You’ve been yellin’ at me to go faster and faster, Clem!” she said, without looking at me.

    “Okay,” I said. “But now you’re scaring me.”

    “Better me than the police,” she said. She jerked her thumb over her shoulder.

    I looked back and saw the black and white sedan, lights going, pulling onto the road almost a mile behind us.

    “Um, why are we running?” I said. I pulled down the visor to look in the mirror. The curly red hair, freckles, and green eyes of a teenaged boy met my own.

    “Because you’re holdin’ about a hunnert thou we just took from First National back in Addison,” she said, and giggled.

    “What?!?” I said. I looked down to see a plain linen sack in the floor well, the neck of which I held tightly without having noticed it.

    “Jeez, Clem!” she said. I glanced over at her: she was now looking at me with quick, furtive looks while the barely-controlled car flew down the road. I saw that the police were still a ways back, but they’d gained a little. “What’s wrong with you?”

    “Uh oh, Sam,” came a familiar voice from the back seat.

    “Uh oh?” I said.

    “Uh oh?” the girl repeated. “What are you talking about?”

    “Sam, this is 1974. Ziggy says you’re Clem Johnson, and that you and Shelly Clark just committed a bank robbery. You’re on your way to your hideout- an abandoned house on the western side of Lake Michigan. It looks like Shelly Clark dies in a shootout with police in 37 hours. Looks like you have to prevent her from dying or going to prison.”

    “Great Al, just great,” I muttered.

    “Who’s Al?” Shelly asked. The car jumped forward as she mashed down the accelerator.

    I didn’t answer as we careened down the road, the cops in hot pursuit. Instead, I asked myself how many more leaps would it take to get back home.

    1. Cceynowa

      “Quantum Leap” is one of my favorites, and leads to such interesting stories! This is a great bit of fan fiction, well written and well told. It brought a smile to my face today. Thanks!

    2. jhowe

      Well, it looks like I’m going to have to watch Quantum Leap now. I can’t believe I missed it. Regardless, I was able to enjoy this story without the benefit of seeing the show. The action was very crisp and the dialog was tight. Good job.

    3. Reaper

      Okay. Normally I don’t comment on fanfic, but… This was one of my favorite shows and I still miss it. I think the only thing you missed was the mandatory “Oh boy!” Definitely a fun read that brought back some very feel good memories.

    4. lionetravail

      Thanks everyone for the fun comments and for indulging some off-the-cuff fan fic! We’ve been watching a bunch of the episodes (my wife and me), and it’s been a fun revisit to (as others have said) a great show, so when it popped into my head as the first idea for this prompt, I just ran with it.

  37. Reaper

    Making the Man

    Red and blue flashing lights brought me to consciousness. I remembered slipping off to dreamland in my own bed. So either I had developed a case of sleep driving or some weird shit was going down. I had a couple seconds to assess my situation while I pulled over.

    I was driving a Model T… not my car.

    I was wearing a finely tailored zoot suit… not my clothes.

    In the passenger seat was a crumpled paper bag filled with blood stained bills… not my money.

    If the copper sees the money from the bank job I’ll pull the Thompson from under the blanket in back and resolve him. …Not my thought.

    You prefer to use the twenty two in the shoulder holster? It’s a harder shot and you’re not a gangster… yet. Still not my thought, what the hell?

    I slipped the bag onto the floorboard as nonchalantly as I could. To cover the action I plucked a smoke from the pack sitting next to the sack. Not my brand, actually, I didn’t even smoke. My lungs took to it like an old friend though, and that thing inside my head let out an audible sigh.

    A nightstick tapped insistently on the window and I rolled it down.

    “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

    Because you’re a pig who knows what I did. It will be your last mistake copper!

    “Honestly officer, I have no idea.”

    “You were weaving back there, son.”

    Get the goddamn gun! Riddle him with holes. He’s stalling; I can see how he’s looking at the passenger compartment.

    “Sorry officer, I think I was trying to doze off there.”

    “You been drinking tonight?”

    Yes! Out of your mother’s navel. That whore will give it up to anyone, including your father you bastard whoreson!

    “N-no, officer! Just tired.” My arms had started to reach for the back seat. I forced them still by clutching the wheel. My muscles strained and my neck creaked with the effort.

    “You okay son? Anything you want to tell me?”

    I’m fine officer, but you’re about to have a very bad day.

    “I’m just not feeling like myself.”

    “We all have days like that.” The cop laughed. “Get home safe.”

    Part of me heard it right, but that other thing in my head, well it heard, ‘step out of the car.’ The cop was part of the real world though. He was from a place where people did rational things. Pulling out the Thompson and firing it empty was pretty far from rational.

    Put on his clothes.

    The sports car flying by at over a hundred miles an hour brought me back to consciousness. I had a couple of seconds to assess my situation as I pulled in behind the maniac.

    I was driving a police charger… not my car.

    I was wearing a peace officer uniform… not my clothes.

    Make sure the strap is off the sidearm, this punk has to pay! …Not my thought.

    1. jhowe

      Bravo. Loved the delivery method for the MCs thoughts… not my words. Well, they were my words, but I was trying to make a point. Loved his inner struggle with his thoughts or whoever’s thoughts they were. I enjoyed it.

    2. Manwe38

      This was mind-bendingly awesome…I’m trying to imagine what it would be like, being inside your MC’s head, which means you drew me seamlessly into your world.

      Nice!

    3. Bilbo Baggins

      For some reason I felt like laughing when I read Model T and zoot suit… reminded me of those black-and-white robbery films from the 1910s where the criminal hurries to crank up the car after holding up the bank and the policeman catches up to him on a bicycle.

      But, beside that off-the-wall comment, good as usual, Reaper. I can only imagine where this chain of events will leave our MC. Did he time-travel from the past to the present when he dozed off? Just wondering.

      1. Reaper

        Haha. Off the wall or not that is kind of awesome. Thank you. I’m not sure, honestly I’m not sure it is the same MC. The chain of thought that triggered was about the clothes making the man and how it would be if that were literally true. The bit with the cop kind of added itself at the end and I decided to keep it.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is very Twilight Zone, Reaper, and beautifully written. You used the “… not my (whatever)” device flawlessly and to great effect. Now I’m curious what’s happening to the MC and why he’s jumping from body to body.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I HAVE NO IDEA HOW YOR MIND WORKS. BUT I LOVED YOUR STORY. THE INNER ACTION WITH THE MC WAS FABULOUS. QUITE A TRIP REAPER. YOU WENT MODEL T, I WENT ’34 FORD. GREAT MINDS YOU KNOW. WHY IN HELL IS THIS WRITTEN IN CAPS?

        1. Reaper

          The greatest scientific minds can not figure it out so you are in good company Kerry. 😉 Thank you for the comments. I thought it was in caps because you were shouting. Wasn’t sure why though. I love the connection between the cars and the gangsters. I caught your reference in your story because that era is one of two golden age of criminals for me. Where you look and have to wonder who the real bad guys were, or if there were any good ones. So that clothing and those cars are amazing to me.

      2. Reaper

        Thanks Observer Tim. You know I’m going to love any comparison to the Twilight Zone. Your comment on the device makes me very happy. I’m glad it worked well. See the above reply to Bilbo. I’m not entirely sure what is happening honestly. Some of this just came out and it was one of those stories spun from one specific thought.

      1. acre19641

        Busted: You went to bed like any other night and were out like a log in minutes. But when you woke up, you weren’t at home. You were in a car (that wasn’t yours), wearing clothes (that weren’t yours), and holding a bag full of money (that wasn’t yours). Suddenly, a police car turns on it’s lights to pull you over. What do you do?
        I would pull over the car and explain.
        Officer I must have been sleep walking and what did I do?
        He said step out of the car and put your hands on top of the car. I keep trying to explain what did I do. He say put your hands on the car and has his weapon drawn on me. The more I talk the madder he gets at me. I said officer I really don’t know what’s going on here. He says if you don’t clam it up I will put a bullet in your kisser. So I shut up and they take me away and put me into a cage. I ask them what did I do they say you robbed the mayor and took his suite at gun point. You also called him all kinds of names like momma boy, tooth pick boy, and a suck up to president. Then you drove away in his car so you were easy to find dummy. I told them I don’t remember anything and I just woke up in the front seat of the car with a bag of money and a suit on. They said sure likely story book him.
        So now I wait my day in court and hope for better results.

    5. Amyithist

      Reaper, this was fantastic! It’s like a nightmare replaying, over and over. I loved the way you presented the thoughts; it was as if another entity was living inside the MC. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you for another magnifiently written prompt! 🙂

    6. jmcody

      The flow and pacing of this were impeccable — something I am starting to become more aware of because of writing like this. I though it was the clothing doing the talking, which was well illustrated by the MC’s physical struggle against his jacket’s attempt to reach for the gun. I could feel the seams straining against his shoulders. I just wonder what the driver of the speeding sportscar will be wearing and where it will take him. The mind wanders…

      Tight, effective, personality drenched writing as always, Reaprr.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you jmcody. You do have a way of seeing to the heart of the story. Interesting idea. I had not even thought of what the speeding driver would be wearing. Thank you as always for the comments and compliments. I for one am glad that writing has not let you go.

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