College Introduction

It’s your first day of college and, in your first class, your professor does something unusual—she has you all sit on the floor in a big circle and introduce yourself, as if you were in kindergarten. When it gets to be your turn, you say, “My name is _____. Every day I like to _____ in purple and yellow______.” Amused, the professor asks you to explain. So you do.

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498 thoughts on “College Introduction

  1. HCDaria

    You look around. Everyone is staring at you in expectation. Nervous, you clear your throat.
    “Hello,” you say, “My name is Rachel. Every day I like to…”
    You blank. You start to sweat. This is NOT how you wanted your first day of college to start!
    “Every day I like to… polka dance in purple and yellow lederhosen.”
    You can’t believe that came out of your mouth. It looks like no one else in the class can either. Some people titter; others outright guffaw.
    “Well that’s… interesting,” the professor finally says after a moment of trying to quiet down the class. “Care to explain?”
    “Sure,” you answer, though at that point you have NO idea what you’re going to say.
    “It all started when I was a girl,” you begin, pausing for emphasis (and more time to formulate an answer). “I was adopted, and I had no idea about my heritage, so I decided to try out different heritages basically – Italian, Spanish, Chinese… The Chinese one didn’t work out so well because I’m clearly not Asian.”
    The class laughs, but this time with you instead of at you. Emboldened you continue.
    “I ended up on German because of my blonde hair, hence the polka dancing and lederhosen. Now get this…” You lean forward conspiratorially. “I actually LIKED it.”
    Another pause for emphasis.
    “Do you know how fun it is to shake your booty to an accordion? It’s quite freeing actually.”
    More laughter ensues, but it’s genial.
    “Now about the purple and yellow, that’s more because those are the colors of LSU – the great university we are currently attending. Go Tigers!”
    More laughter. You let the laughter die down before continuing with a smile.
    “Now that’s total BS of course, but I am a writing major, so that’s my excuse. We lie for a living.”

  2. PeterW

    “My name is Maya Formica. I’m from Charleston, Virginia. I think probably I’m going to major in pharmaceuticals or premedicine. Every day, I like to valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreate in a purple and yellow bikini.”

    “Excuse me. Could you repeat that?”

    “My name is Maya…”

    “No, the other part.”

    “Oh okay. I’m from Charleston, Virginia.”

    “No, the big word.”


    “No, no. What you said before ‘purple and yellow bikini.’”


    “Yes. That.”

    “What about it?”

    “Um. What is it?”


    “Yes what is valagrour…”

    “Um. You don’t know what valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreation is?”

    “Yes. Yes. What is it?”

    “Well it’s hard to explain. You really don’t know what valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreation is?”

    “No, please explain it.”

    “Um… ok. So it’s like phrashicabilifouraturation just with more favotassholegalitiving.”

    “I have no idea what you just said.”

    “Like phrashicabilifouraturation with more favotassholegalitiving?”

    “Yes. What in god’s name are you talking about?”

    “No offense, ma’am, but I don’t know how else to explain it. It’s rather common.”

    “It is? Common?”

    “Yes, I think so, I mean I assume so.”

    “So no one else is confused now. No one? Really? No one.”

    “It is rather common. It could be that your just, well…”

    “Just what? Just old?”

    “Yeah, no offense. But just old.”

    “I’m not that old.”

    “Ha. Um. Well.”

    “Well humor me and my old age and explain vagaling and phrashing and assholing.”

    “You mean valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreating and phrashicabilifouraturating and, hem, not assholing, but favotassholegalitiving.”

    “Yes those things.”

    “So it’s like when you have hole and lightning rod and you— ”

    “Is it something sexual?”

    “No not at all.”

    “Alright keep going.”

    “So you have a hole and lightning rod and then you phrashicabilifouraturate on the warm sand while you— “
    “Stop, stop what is phrashibillifornicating.”


    “Yes, for godsakes, yes, what it that?”

    “Well to phrashicabilifouraturate is to exitemporationviscitticate softly, sort of like when you have a bruise.”
    “I must be going out of my mine.”


    “I must be going out of my fucking mind. Did you just say exitempulchritudinous-vivasectionate? What in god’s great name is to exitempulchritudinous-vivasectionate?”

    “Ma’am I said exitemporationviscitticate not exitemporalpoultri-us-viva-sex-on-the-knees-anate. I have no idea what that is.”
    “Excuse me, excuse me. I think I can help. Per se I like chitheelchickicollaborate not valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreate. But, professor do you know what cocking is.”

    “Well yes. I do know what cocking is.”

    “Well if you cock with a pulse-hammer and rigid-plyometric-orgasmic-deviator and a shrood at the same time you are basically valagrourdriniskivancecormpacreating.”

    “Oh okay. Thank you. What your name again?”


    “From Los Angeles?”


    “Majoring in Women’s Studies.”


    “Okay, didn’t mean to lose my temper there. Thank you Peter. But in a purple and yellow bikini, Maya. I don’t mean to judge or be prejudiced against any of my students, but isn’t the purple and yellow bikini a tad excessive.”

    No responses are necessary for this entry =D

  3. thetelleroftales

    I know I already answered the prompt, but a second take was nagging me. So, here it is, and sorry, but I never seem to be able to get even close to the word limit.

    I faded into the background like a moth on a tree, and for that I was glad. No one noticing me was something I was used to, something I knew how to deal with. And yet…. At the same time, there was an unaccountable yearning to be acknowledged.
    Be acknowledged, not be the centre of attention.
    But here I was, sitting in a circle of college students, and everyone was looking at me. I could only stutter out the first thing I could think of: “I am Kayla Evengrel, and I dance with my shadow and race my dog every night under a purple sky and yellow lights.”
    There was silence around the circle, then, as I knew there would be, titters. Prof. Lily Bittencourt looked at me with a kind smile.
    “Would you care to explain?”
    I turned a couple shades darker than crimson and shook my head. Then, thankfully, faded once more into the background as soon as a few of the others cast amused glances my way.
    A darkly handsome boy to my left spoke, and even the last glancers forgot me. “I’m Daniel Arnovich, and I enjoy etymology, the study of word origins.”
    Finally, Culture and Lit officially began.
    After class, Ms. Lily pulled me aside. “Kayla, would you mind explaining what you said in class? I found it extremely interesting.”
    I mumbled something under my breath, clutched my books, and tried to move away. She laid a caring hand on my shoulder and looked me in the eyes. “Sometimes one needs to talk.”
    I looked into her brown-green eyes, and trusted her. She was right. Just there had been no one who would listen. So, half-delighted and half-terrified, I sat down in a chair and propped my chin with my fists. Ms. Lily drew a chair next to mine and smiled at me. I realized she was closer to my age than I had imagined.
    There was no reason to beat around the bush. “My mom died from pneumonia when I was thirteen. My dad passed away exactly a year later. Doctors put some sort of fancy medical name on his death, but I know he died of grief. He loved Mom better than his own soul. And his death was especially hard, because he wasn’t a Christian. Mom was, so I knew she’d be happy. But Dad… he was hard and crusty. I’m a Christian, too, so I was afraid for him. He was softening towards the end, but I don’t know if he ever made a commitment.”
    Ms. Lily reached out and patted my shoulder. It was good to feel I was being understood.
    “Then they sent me to an orphanage. It was horrible. Kinda like in Oliver Twist. But I found a way to escape, and get outside. Outside was one long street, leading to the city, with nothing about it except streetlights. So every night I crept out and ran along it, for exercise, and to relieve the stress. When I was far enough away, I would yell, cry, and talk to myself, alone at last and lonelier than ever. The security guard knew, I think, but since I always came back, he didn’t stop me. I never left, because I had nowhere to go. No relatives that I knew.” I smiled. “That’s when I found Trista, the courageous puppy with the broken tail, whimpering under the streetlamp. I adopted her. I even saved food for her out of my own small meals. As she grew, we raced together. I found my shadow was a wonderful dancer, and I danced with it, pretending to try and catch it. So it, Trista, and Jesus were my only friends. But I always dreamed of going to college, and I’m finally here.”
    “What are you going to do now?” Lily reached out and took my hand. I shrugged. “When you spoke in the circle, it was strange and beautiful, like poetry.”
    I looked at her appraisingly. “What are you trying to say?”
    She scanned me like an X-ray machine assessing my vitals. “That you should pursue Creative Writing.”
    Ms. Lily was either a prophetess or an angel. Here I am, ten years later, penning these words from the top story of a house bought with royalties from my third book, inspired, like the others, by her. Trista, ancient and blind, licks my hand. I’ll never forget that first day at a college I wasn’t even supposed to attend; being introduced to my best friend, future, and husband. All because of purple skies and yellow lights, and the guidance of a loving God.

  4. rle

    This is not a response to the prompt, but rather just a short note to express my gratitude to everyone else who writes here.

    Back in mid-March when I started answering these prompts, I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for. I read responses for a couple of weeks before I posted my first, trying to get a feel for what really went on here. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure I could still write anything that anyone would want to read. In high school and college I spent a lot of time writing and even did some freelance work for a couple of trade journals, but I felt so out of practice that I wasn’t sure I could measure up against the fine talent that graces this board.

    Although lately, my time has been very limited, it is important for me to post here each week. I’ve accepted these prompts as a personal challenge. If I can do at least fifty of these in fifty-two weeks and still feel as strongly about this craft as I do now, I think I’ll dive back into writing again in earnest.

    I just wanted to thank each and every one of you for your encouragement and kind words over the past several months. Hopefully, in the coming weeks as my work begins to slow down, I’ll be able to become a more active participant in the commentary and discussion department.

    Again, thank you all.


    1. Augie

      I didn’t want to be the first to respond to you, nor the last. Once I read this, I backed up time and read your prior post.( I enjoyed them very much) I am a person that firmly believes, there’s no place like home. Like you, I found a place I call home. Fair Winds rie!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        rhe, I found this site a year and a half ago. I was upset with all the rejection letters and stepped in the forum. I’ve posted over seventy prompts. I have noticed inprovement. I’ve still a long way from where I want to be, and at my age, I better hurry up. I’ve enjoyed your responses and when someone suddenly stops posting, I feel like I’ve lost a friend.

        So keep writing and critiquing. This is ingrained in my brain to write each week. To put it mildly, I love it here. Kerry

    2. Observer Tim

      rle, you’re quite welcome and in good company. I am also extremely grateful for all the critiquing and encouragement on this site, including that provided by you. I’ve been here since August 2013; I don’t even remember how I stumbled onto the site. It is invaluable to be part of a writing group, especially one with so many talented writers in so many genres. It encourages us all to stretch ourselves. Keep on writing!

      I try to read everything when I can, and to answer as much as I can. I got behind this week due to my pacemaker replacement surgery, but that just means I’ll have to read more to catch up. 🙂

    3. Reaper

      Thank you for being a part of this. I have heard most other places like this are brutal so I count myself lucky that I happened onto this one while looking for writing contests last year. This place and you guys have helped me hone my craft and I would have given up on a place that was nothing but negativity. I am glad everyone found it and love the people who come by and am always happy when they stay.

      I understand you are verifying your interest and ability in your own mind. I can tell you from my point of view, you are publishing ready. Publishers may not agree, but as Kerry found out these days they are not looking for what is good but what is safe. So afraid of changes in the market they reject a lot of things that are amazing. It has become like the music business, is it like this thing that sold a lot? No? Pass. And the damage it does to the confidence of amazing writers is terrible.

      So I guess my point is, I would buy anything you wrote. So I hope you meet your goal and continue down the path until I can.

    4. agnesjack

      I’m index finger typing this on my cell phone on my commuter train to work because I wanted to respond to your wonderful post before the next prompt pops up.

      The writers in this community are very special, because they are not only talented in unique and individual ways, but they are kind, encouraging, inspirational and very astute in their critiques and comments.

      I found this forum at a very difficult time in my life and it has been a real blessing. So thank you, rle, for your unique contribution to the ongoing creative conversation that makes this forum so special.

    5. Critique

      rle, I stumbled onto this forum a year ago and have thought many times how blessed I am to be a part of this special community of talented writers who take the time to read each other’s stories and offer positive thoughtful advice and encouragement.

      Thank you rle for enriching our forum with your unique and imaginative writing gift.

    6. jmcody

      I see the next prompt is already up but I couldn’t let this one get by without a reply. As usual, we seem to have much in common, from the type of writing that we want to do, to the kids who need our attention and the all-consuming job.

      We also seem to be at a similar point in our writing “journey” — testing the waters to see what we’re capable of. Unlike you, however, I never even considered writing fiction before I found these prompts. I always liked to write and did a lot of that in my career, but never thought I had much of an imagination. I was searching for fiction writing techniques for something else I wanted to write. When I saw the prompts, an idea just kind of popped in my head and I went with it. I think I discovered a whole other side to myself in the process.

      I agree we are lucky to have stumbled on this unusually supportive, friendly and talented bunch of people. I drifted away for the past couple of months due to a family crisis, and I missed this so much. But I am back and intend to continue, and I’m glad to hear you are too. I know its hard to justify the time spent, but just keep at it, to whatever extent you can. We need our creative outlets to restore the life force that the business world has sucked out of us!

      I always look forward to your posts, and have seen you grow and improve along with so many others on this forum. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

    7. Manwe38

      I agree with all of the above comments.

      I’m still relatively new here, but this forum has become a place to share my thoughts, feelings, and learn how to grow in the craft. Words have so much power, and I’m grateful to have a place where I can interact which such a great group of people to further learn how to refine them.

    8. asclepius

      I feel the same as you, and I hope to get out of this the same as you. For a long time now I have been a wannabe writer, and I would really like to finally be serious about it. The community on this website seems to be very supportive of each other.

  5. tryingtowrite


    The metal door slammed shut. I’d counted twelve.

    “Welcome to Creative Writing!” his voice boomed.

    I lowered the syllabus I’d been pretending to read, and there at the whiteboard before me was a man half my age. His name was Jaxson Rogers, according to his scribble, Professor Jaxson Rogers. He’d underscored the J-A-X twice.

    “You can call me Jax,” he said.

    I glanced around the room. Eleven students, including myself, and Jax–an even twelve. Each of us had walked through the door alone. Tension was loosening its reins on me.

    He instructed us to push the first row of desks toward the back of the room. Most of the students milled around the room, while I moved four of the six desks myself, and some football player guy moved two. This generation pissed me off sometimes.

    I started to move a desk in the second row, but Jax stopped me. “There’ll be enough room,” he said.

    For what?

    He had us sit in a circle. Everyone but me flopped down to the floor crossed legged. I eased my way down, my bones creaking and muscles pulling, getting on all fours first–which must have been a pretty sight–before rolling backwards onto my butt. I could feel my stomach sagging over the waistband of my stretchy skinny jeans. I’d gained twelve pounds over the past year and was in a holding pattern.

    “So . . .” Jax was pointing at me. I tugged on my cropped top.

    “Marissa,” I said, catching myself mid eye-roll. I was disgusted. Not with him, no, he was cute. I liked the way his eyes sparkled.

    “Marissa, let’s start with you. Introduce yourself and tell us something tweet-worthy about yourself.”


    Everyone laughed. My cheeks heated up and my body followed suit, sweat instantly beading up on my forehead and hairy upper lip.

    Damn hormones!

    Jax smiled. “Memorable,” he said. His voice was airy, softening the blow of the right hook humiliation had just pummeled me with. “Tell us something memorable about yourself. Something we won’t forget. Ever!”


    “And it can only be 140 characters long, which is what a tweet is–a couple of sentences. You don’t have to be exact.”

    I had to think about this one. “Can you attach a photo to a tweet?” I asked.

    “Actually, yes.” His eyebrows raised with curiosity.

    I took my phone out of my pants pocket. “I’m Marissa,” I said. My voice was quivering. I paused and scrolled until I found a picture of my garden. I passed my phone around. “My garden is purple and yellow,” I said, as my phone made its way around the circle. “When I was young, I dreamed of marrying a man who loved gardening as much as I did.” I paused and scrolled and passed my phone around again. “I did.” A photo of Robert. He was kneeling in our garden and up to his elbows in dirt.

    I detected a couple of yawns. My audience was bored.

    “Today is an anniversary for us. Well, for me I guess.” I paused and scrolled and passed my phone around again. The circle remained silent, though one after the other each student’s face transformed. Boredom had left the room.

    “At 36, my husband had a bleed on his brain, an aneurism. He lay in that hospital bed for twelve months, tethered to this world by those machines.” My phone had made it back to me, though much slower this time. It felt damp in my hand, and the screen was smeared. I was teetering on the precipice of Memorable.

    “It took me twelve months to find the courage to pull the plug. And twelve years of trying to find the words to express how I feel.”

    I pointed to the whiteboard above where Jax had scribbled his name. He’d also written the date. “Today is Friday, September 12,” I said. Twelve pairs of eyes were staring at the board. “Who attends a creative writing class on a Friday night? Lonely people like me, lost people?” The students looked around at each other. “I figured the class would be small, but never did I dream there would be eleven students and one professor.”

    I’d lost them.


    “I didn’t mean to make him suffer for twelve months. I hate myself for that. But even more so than hating myself, I hate this damn disease!”

    I marched to the whiteboard and grabbed a dry erase pen. I underscored the “12” twelve times.

    “I have OCD–Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–and I’ve been crippled by it ever since my husband’s death twelve years ago.”

    The circle closed in.

    “Purple has six letters in it, and so does yellow. Perhaps it’s time I plant something red. And that, Jaxson, is Marissa in 140 characters.”

    1. k.spicer

      Tryingtowrite, this was well written. Tugging at emotions is what writing is all about…whether the emotions are fear, love, hate, etc., or in this case remorse. You did it well. A bi-note; OCD is a lot more common than most people realize.

    2. jmcody

      I loved this. It was so real and involving. I loved how your underdog. MC rallied herself to tell her story in such an affecting way after being humiliated by her middle aged muffin top, creaky joints and hot flashes. You really made me feel for her, and I was glad she was able to be heard. I also loved how you worked the number 12 and the colors yellow and purple into her OCD. So many things to love about this. You’re not just trying — you’ve achieved wonderful writing here.

      1. tryingtowrite

        Thank you all for taking the time to read my spin on this prompt. It’s been about a year since I last participated in the weekly prompt challenge. Must make time to do it more often.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I have to join in with the others writers, whose comments are above mine. Your story tuched my heart and my mind at the same. This rarely happens to me. I thought your prose was powerful and beautiful at the same time. Like a velvet glove gripping my attention and not letting go.

  6. keyhonay

    “The Visit”

    It was my turn; I stood up and said, “Hello, my name is John Doe. Every day I like to meet new people when I’m dressed in purple and yellow adornments.”

    The professor giggled and said, “If you wouldn’t mind John explain to us why you wear purple and yellow when you meet new people.”

    I smiled and said, “This is really a three part question, but I will explain each in turn. First, the purple I wear symbolizes royalty. Purple is universal to all civilized organisms. This was once was true here and it is still in other places. Unfortunately you do not recognize this anymore. In fact, you beings don’t seem to believe in much anymore.”

    The students and the professor looked a little confused, but I continued. “The yellow represents the three stars that orbit the place I come from.” I said and pointed to the swatches of yellow on my uniform and read off their name, “Talus, Terus, Tamus, my world is called lunaosma, it is about 14 billion light years away, give or take a year.”

    Some of the group was smiling and two of girls giggled at me. I smiled at the group and continued, “The reason I like to wear this uniform with these color and on this avatar is so I don’t panic anyone.” A student next to me reached out cautiously to touch my arm. Her finger passed through it. She gasped and pulled her hand back as she jumped up from her chair. The exit was behind me so she ran for a far wall furthest away from me. After seeing that, the other students also jumped up and went to the fall wall looking back at me in terror.

    “See this is why I try to fit in. I hate scaring creatures like this so close to the end,” I said.

    The professor asked, “What end?”

    “Why your end and all life on this planet. You see your evolution has dragged behind the other advanced organisms in the universe, which is fine, but oddly your technologies have advance beyond your understanding. Which is the real issue; we estimate you will be able to develop warp drive travel in about 300 years. Tragically you have developed great weapons that you irresponsibly give, sell or lose to the primitive people of your planet. If you start spreading your weapons a crossed the universe as you have here, well let’s just say the same thing will happen that has happened here. This is just too risky for the rest of us so it was decided that your life forms will be removed from existence. So in about 20 seconds your planets temperature will be increased to about 2000 degrees and then this world will start over. So better luck next time.” As the class watched my image flickered and was gone. In the class, they all stared at the spot, where I had been standing and counted down silently to 0.

      1. keyhonay

        Thank you for the feedback. This was my 9th prompt; other than the pun prompt this was the hardest to start, but it was a lot of fun once it started to flow. I like the 500 word limit, keeps me focused.

    1. Reaper

      Nice story. Normally I might make a comment about a couple of word choices but here they worked perfectly to give the alien feel. If I were to suggest any one thing it would be to go the other way. Give the science nerds a thrill and rather than increasing go for -273 celsius or a conversion of that into farenheit or 0 Kelvins. It would add a chuckle for the audience you seem to have this aimed at to hit absolute zero instead of super heating the planet. Not at all necessary but that though would not leave my mind.

      1. keyhonay

        Thank you for the comment. I do like to add techy information in to most of my writings. In this one Lunaosma is about 14 billion years away which is further then the farthest discovered star from earth which is 13.1 billion light years away. In the prompt “one shot” Ceres named after the Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.


    That initial day of early childhood education class my eyes watered from embarrassment. My husband Doug had deserted his family. I didn’t have any marketable employment skills. Naively I didn’t think I needed any because I was employed in the best jobs of the world. I was a wife/mother. Interestingly, most of my classmates were the same age as my son. Refusing to participate in Professor Clifton’s juvenile circle game, I used a water fountain as an excuse to exit the room.
    “Compliments Mrs. Edwards. I appreciate a student who can think on her feet!” Professor Clifton said.
    “Please begin-.”
    “I- I’m thirsty.”
    “We’ll wait.”
    Frantic I hurried to the fountain but I couldn’t bring myself to vacate the class. I slurped the water like a dog lapping a puddle. Nervous, I felt everybody’s eyes on me then realized Professor Clifton was approximately the same age as her other students.
    “We’re waiting.“ Professor Clifton said.
    I rejoined the circle…
    “Hi, I’m Robyn. Every day I write prayers using purple and yellow ink.”
    “Those were my wedding colors. My marriage vows were forever but my husband wants a divorce. I was an excellent good wife/mother. Now I’m scared to death. Doug was my everything including my first/only lover. Now I need to provide for my kids. I’m not sure if this school is the right place but I don’t know where else to go. I’ve taught my children to create what they envisioned for themselves in life. Now I have to do that.” I was crying but my confidence was growing.
    “You should’ve beaten that skank’s ass!” Hilary blurted out.
    “Well I-“
    “You’re going to be fine Mrs. Edwards.” Professor Clifton stated.
    “I want to open a child care center and business operation-.”
    “I can’t stand psychotic bitches like that!” Hilary continued.
    “ Like what?” I inquired.
    “Idiotic women who fornicate with married men!”
    “Was she aware he was married Mrs.-?” Professor Clifton asked.
    “Probably! Please call me Rob-“
    “Ma’am, there’s a need for quality childcare entrepreneurs.” A student said smiling as someone knocked at the door. Professor Clifton answered it.
    “I believe the earlier children learn the better they’ll perform academically.”
    “You’ll make an outstanding childcare provider.” Another student commented.
    “You think so?” I asked.
    “Thank you sweetie.”
    “But you should’ve stomped that psychopath home wrecker’s ass!” Hilary reiterated.
    “Daycare facilities charge premium fees for quality services too.” Another student said.
    “My intentions and prayers are to be the best.”
    “You will.” My classmates hollered out.
    Professor Clifton moved in my peripheral vision escorting someone towards our circle.
    “You scouted any locations?”
    “You interviewed any potential staff?”
    “You researched any insurance?”
    “Not yet. I hoped this class would help-.”
    “Did you remove your husband’s testicles with wire pliers or disconnect the brake system on his vehicle or gouge his eyes out with a crowbar” Hilary questioned.
    “What?” I said staring and spooked at Hilary.
    “Everyone quiet. I’d like to introduce our new Academic Advisor.”
    My head turned, my jaws dropped then I couldn’t believe my eyes.
    “Afternoon everyone my name is Tracy Warren-.”
    “Oh God NOooo!” I screamed!
    “Are you okay Robyn?” Professor Clifton asked.
    “No I’m not!”
    “What the-“
    “Everybody, THIS IS THE MAN my husband is leaving his family for!”
    My classmates mumbled and whispered among themselves.
    “Quiet everyone! Settle-” Professor Clifton started to say.
    “KILL Him!” Hilary shouted. I don’t know what happened but evil overcame me then I-…
    “ROBYN DON’T!”

    1. lionetravail

      This was great, if a tiny bit confusing- nowhere in the beginning did the MC mention why her husband wanted a divorce, so the jump to “beaten that skank’s ass!” was a bit of a leap- we never even knew her husband was divorcing her because of a new love interest, an ill-considered affair, or the apparent twist of the homosexual relationship which the twist at the end suggests.

      There’s also maybe not enough of a buildup as to why the divorcing husband is ‘bad’- while everyone seems naturally supportive of Robyn, there’s really no lead in to why he’s a bad-guy in this, other than the MC’s internal monologue that he was ‘deserting his family’. For me, the running conversation of the students leaping to conclusions and suggestions is highly entertaining, but the MC tries to respond to Hilary’s comment about ‘psychotic bitches’, and the professor’s question about whether ‘she was aware’, and her answer was ‘probably’- this seems inconsistent with the ending. A little more to unkink all that, and smooth out the rough spots, and this is highly entertaining.

    2. k.spicer

      McKevin, the story was good, but there were too many places were I had to stop and reorient myself as to what was happening and who each person was. After slowly processing the text I did manage to figure out what and who and why but it did take a bit of re-reading to get it straight.
      Having said that, I thought the story line was good and over all I did like it. Thanks.

    3. Reaper

      I am agreed with the fact that we needed to know the cheating bits, because maybe the other student is jumping to a conclusion but it seems like information they had from the MC. Otherwise I really liked this. The chaos worked for me because I mean what else is going to happen when you let a class run wild?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I was right in the class with Robyn and when she pulled the gun, I ran for cover, jhowe. I do agree with the other thoughts but you have an extremely powerful story here. Should be an easy tweek. When I get advise like this, I run to the story and work on it. That’s why I love this place. KC

  8. Observer Tim

    This follows after SADIE’S CLASS, and represents one possible answer.

    “Alright, everyone sit in a circle.” We’re five weeks into the semester and still in this freaky course. Some of the students had signed up for a Psychology class, others for Chemistry, one for Sociology and one for English; somehow, we’ve all ended up in the same class. Our goal for the semester is to find out what course we were in.

    At this point the students have divided into informal groups. Mine consists of Ariel (lives in a world of her own– literally), Barry (does genetic manipulation for fun), John (plugs himself in overnight), Quinn (has a programmable tattoo) and me, Iridia the wall-crawler. We’ve already worked out that we sit in order in class because Victor has OCD and uses his subconscious mind control to make us do so, and I think I know why most of us are in the class. That’s why I’m the group leader.

    “Okay guys, I have a theory about why we’re in the class and why we’ve all found recording devices hidden in our stuff several times. I’ll tell you, but we’re all going to have to be honest. Where are you really from, and why are you here?”

    They all look at one another. Nobody else is going to start, so I do. “I’m from Cliff Mesa, Arizona. My world is nearly overrun by demons and I’m scouting to see if we can relocate the population here.”

    Ariel sighs. “I was created by Me-Space so it could find out about Earth.”

    Barry looks nervous. “I’m from Garrida, here to determine if this planet is a threat.”

    “I’m from the… the future, for reasons I can’t talk about.” If Barry was nervous, Quinn looks like she’s on the verge of a panic attack. I put a hand on her shoulder to reassure her. I’ll have to figure that out later.

    “I’m from Silicon Valley. I’m here to… to… to…” John looks confused.

    Quinn takes his hand. “It’s okay, John. I’ve disarmed the bomb. You can’t detonate it.”

    “But my mission…”

    “Is over. Would you like me to reprogram you so you can continue data gathering?”

    “I… I… yes.”

    “Okay. Shut down for now, and I’ll do it. It may take a day or two.”

    John slumps forward, asleep. I guess his problem’s solved. For now.

    “Now, everyone except John, here’s my theory. The course is Xenology, the study of aliens. Everyone in it, including Sadie the TA, is an alien of some sort. The College signed us up for the course so they could study us. We’re not students, we’re laboratory specimens. What happens when the experiment is over?”

    “We’re released into the wild?”

    “You haven’t spent a lot of time around humans, have you Barry? No, we’re more likely either stuffed and mounted, or put in a zoo somewhere. I don’t know about you guys, but I have no intention of letting either of those outcomes happen.”

    Now all I have to do is come up with a plan.

    1. MCKEVIN

      What an entertaining take on the prompt OT. Your first paragraph is a prompt in itself. Good job. If I used your lst paragraph as a prompt, my lst paragraph would start like this.

      On the first day of class, Dr. McKevin observed the group of aliens through a one sided mirrored glass. When he heard of their plan to ruin the end of his lucrative award winning research, he smiled and pressed the abort button. The observation room filled with Sarin gas causing the odd creatures to bleed from their eyes, nose and anuses. He laughed as he watched each of them keel over and die.”

      1. Observer Tim

        Quinn stopped at the door. Her temporal destabilizer had dropped her fifteen minutes in the past along the same timeline. While her instructions had been not to cut classes, something about this one gave her a bad feeling. She turned and headed for the cafeteria instead.

        “Sadie, what is wrong with the other students?”

        “I’m not sure, John. I think there’s something wrong with the furnace.”

        “My sensors suggest a neurotoxin of some sort is present in the air.”

        “Yeah, like I said. Something is wrong with the furnace.” She looked at the large mirror. “Nice try, Doc. You got most of them. Now we have to disarm the nuke in the robot ourselves. Thanks.”

    2. lionetravail

      This, and the follow-on response, are wonderful, OT. I like the possible answer, though it seems almost glib compared to how intense and subtle the first one was.

      I’m waiting for the other 2 alternate endings, like for the movie Clue. 🙂

    3. k.spicer

      OT, I knew it all along! Barbie was an alien and was trying to mate with Ken. Ken wasn’t actually gay he just couldn’t stand the grotesque smell of Barbie’s alien flesh! It’s all so clear now!!!
      Of course you know I’m kidding! This is right up your alley with the sci-fi twist. Sounds like an on going project! Good job OT.

    1. Bilbo Baggins

      Hello, chap! 🙂 My name’s Mr. Baggins of the Shire! Perhaps you’ve heard of me? Care for some tea and crumpets? Come, come, inside my hobbit hole, the wind bites coldly outside. You’ll find this place quite pleasant, indeed.

  9. Augie

    This is definitely creepy.

    The Perfect Match

    “My name is John Foe, every night I travel to different cities wearing a protective purple mask and yellow Tyvek chemical suit.


    The creepy kid smirks, “ I’m searching for the perfect match for my mother.”

    The cab pulls up to her house as she tries to shake the memory of the strange freshman. She relaxes seeing her husband’s patrol car parked on the street.

    She walks into the kitchen and closes the freezer door. “Jim! Everything is going to defrost. Do we have an extra set of car keys? I lost mine today and had to get a cab home.”


    The contents of his wallet are scattered across the floor. His driver license is smeared with blood.


    Goosebumps cover her body; she rushes into the bedroom and screams…

    His lifeless body lies still on the blood soaked mattress. A row of surgical clamps spread apart the two halves of his breastbone. His heart is gone.

    One mile from the border

    The officer approaches in yellow rain gear, shinning his flashlight into the vehicle.

    “Do you know why I pulled you over son?”

    “Yes sir, I was speeding. My mother is waiting for me and will die if I’m not on time.”

    “What’s in the ice chest?”

    The radio attached to the officer’s epaulet screeches, All available officers, please respond to 411 North Haven Ave, officer down. Repeat, officer down.

    The squad car races away…

    1. k.spicer

      Augie, I smile every time I see your posts because I never know what is going to come out of your head. This was surprising and yes, creepy. Truth is this sort of thing has been known to happen…especially in third world countries. That’s one reason I’m against this DNA storage bank the government has been pushing. Can you imagine what could happen if a corrupt elite had access to something like that? Sounds like the plot of a good novel to me! Good job Augie!

      1. Augie

        Thanks everyone! K.spicer, I had no idea about the DNA storage bank! Crazy! In terms of a novel, did you guys see how short this is? I don’t think I could keep the creepy gear engaged that long! HA! Have a great week!

    2. lionetravail

      This is great- it’s a little awkward here and there, like the jump from “what’s in the ice chest?” to “Officer down, screeching from the epaulet”; even a quick line: “Son, keep it under the limit- you get off lucky this time,” and then he speeds away.That would give you the opportunity to show your character’s reaction to that bit of providence: thankful, twisted, sinister, whatever.

      Also, most civilians probably would not recognize that the heart was gone from the corpse of their loved one, so you might want some background in something medical or forensic which would give her that perspective.

  10. Jakelong

    Hi All,

    This is my first dig at writing, ( Please at least read it and let the opinions/comments galore )


    In an extremely tight dress of purple with yellow stripes, I entered the college campus. Not the best outfit one would pick out for the first day in college, but then characters like me
    never classified as normal. I went to my class, I stood at the door and politely asked my teacher,
    “Can I come in”.
    The whole class stared me in wonder,
    “What the hellll…” said one,
    “Freak” said another,
    “Take a seat,” said the surprised professor. More than surprised she looked confused, as if she didn’t knew how to react.
    But then I don’t blame her, because the confusion was not regarding my attire, it was how to react to such a grotesque image.

    The whole class was sitting in a circle. The professor didn’t seem that cool to let people play “truth and dare” games.
    Reluctantly few of my fellow colleagues adjusted themselves to give me some space. I sat and gave one quick look around.
    People were still staring at me,
    “We were introducing ourselves, good that you have joined us. Care to Introduce yourself” she said,
    “Hello, My name is Bart. Everyday I would like to wear purple trousers and a yellow shirt”
    “Why!!” quipped the professor.
    Suddenly I stood up and started jumping up and down,
    “What the hell are you doing” she shouted, “Stop it, Stop it I say”
    I stood still, then I started picking my nose,
    “Are you crazy” she blurted,
    “He is weird” said a pretty little lady in pink sitting right opposite to me.
    A pungent suffocating smell created by my fart seemed sort of reply to her remark.
    “Thats it, DETENTION, Out you go” she shouted
    “You are cute” said another pretty young lady
    “Oh so you like him, then you can join him too”
    the pretty young lady rose up and stood beside me, “coming darling” she said,
    “Professor” I asked
    “WHAT!!”she yelled
    “I was wondering would this affect my attendance, you know my detention,
    “GET OUT!!!!” she yelled.
    We both ran out of the class and went straight into the detention room.

    The pretty lady then pulled up a cool $20 and gave it to me
    “Not bad” she said,
    “Yeah!! I don’t know what its really gonna cost me for this stupid bet”
    Why did I take up such a bet, even the gods could not fathom

    1. Reaper

      Welcome Jakelong. Can I assume you are one of our younger community members?

      The reason I ask is because of detention which I don’t believe is in many colleges but rings of earlier schools.

      So, there was some rough wording, twisted tenses and missing words in a couple of places that chopped up the flow. Also your ending left something wanting. I liked that it was a bet but I think we need more. Was the bet the dress, the fart, to get sent to detention? It has the elements but is missing just a little something.

      Now, with all of that said I see talent and hope to see more from you. Your interplay was very human, the characters believable once we understood why the MC was doing what he was. This is something I could see as part of hell week for a frat as much as a bet. So I liked it, just needs an edit pass and remember that at the end of your story, unless you are intentionally leaving the reader in the dark they like to be in on the joke.

        1. Reaper

          Okay, let me go back and find a couple here. For example…

          Not the best outfit one would pick out for the first day in college, but then characters like me never classified as normal. – The beginning has a strange cadence to it, seems to be Not the best outfit for the first day of college, then the last bit there seems to be a missing are, characters like me are never classified as normal. In next line you have the whole class stared me… should have an at between stared and me.

          Another on the rough, said the surprised professor. More than surprised she looked confused, as if she didn’t knew how to react. Something like… the surprised professor said. I saw her confusion on her face. She didn’t know how to react. I am not the kind of student professors are trained for.

          It could all just be artistic and that’s cool if it is. I tend to bend words into shapes that are not normal. So in some ways that works for this story because you are telling the tale of something odd, but it comes and goes which kind of bumps the reader out of being there with you.

          Hope that explained it.

    2. k.spicer

      Jake, first of all welcome, this is a place where we all learn from each other, so don’t get down if someone corrects (or attempts to correct) something that you write. We are all here to get better at this thing called writing. Even the best writers make mistakes and misuse words (I call it getting caught with your pants down).

      Having said that, the first thing I’d like to say is your intro was done well except for the last sentence of it. You broke the flow by saying: “I went to my class, I stood at the door…” This just feels stiff and doesn’t flow with the rest of the opening lines. It would have flowed better if you had said something like: “I stood at the classroom door and politely asked my teacher…”

      I won’t go any farther because Reaper already covered the rest. By the way, Reaper is a good source to glean from because he knows what he’s talking about. The reason I brought out this example for the flow of your writing is that you can get away with a lot as long as your flow is good. If your flow is stiff or choppy it causes the reader to stop and stare at the words because they don’t feel natural. If your flow is good the reader will usually look right over other mistakes without interrupting his or her train of thought, and it makes the story more enjoyable to read. The other things will come with practice.

      Best advise I can give you is to read other stories that people post and the ones that you enjoy the most…stop and study them and see what it is that makes them work so well. Look at word structure, look at tension and how it is built up and released, and one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is how closely related writing is to music. Writing like music, builds tension and then releases tension…builds tension and then releases tension, and the building of that tension is what drives the reader to keep reading. Again, watch how others use this tension and reveal to build a satisfying scene.

      Your scene was not that bad actually. It does need editing and work in some areas but I agree with Reaper that it shows raw talent. The question is…are you willing to put the effort into your writing to learn and get better? If so then keep writing and you will get better and better. This is a good place to learn because people are very gentle with new writers and can even be rough on the well trained when need be. Just keep at it. We will all be looking forward to your next post. Good luck!

      1. Jakelong

        Hello Reaper,

        Thanks for your suggestions. I would really like more elaboration on you inputs on rough wording and missing words.

        Hellos k.spicer,
        I got it when you meant by choppy sentence and yes I will make sure it wont happen again and as for getting bogged down, nah, I am in the learning phase where any suggestion that I get will be thought, analyzed, accepted and worked upon. Like everyone else I do have a dream to publish my own “Best selling” masterpiece or disaster peice :D.

        Hellos Kace,
        I hear you, when I started writing I concentrated a lot on the idea and rather than the word formation, tense and all. I believe that a person can work his butt off on word sentense, tense, flow and get better at it but creating a scene or an idea idea is like as k.spicer said Music where you do need creativity.

        Yeah, will try to post more 🙂 Thanks for your encouragement.

    3. kace

      Welcome, Jake. No worries (I’m glad to see that I’m not the only newbie around here).

      Just a quick note. Might I take the liberty of assuming that you have not yet been to college? Neither have I, but in general I feel that its better for us younger ones to write what we know. Not to discourage you from trying new things…empty word documents are out safe zone, after all.

      Hope to read more from you next week!

    4. Jakelong

      Hi All,

      Thanks for your opionions and comments. My main intention was to convey that the boy and the girl had a bet to get kicked off the classroom on the first day itself. So the boy tries his very best to achieve it. If this thought was not conveyed clearly then I really need to work a lot. Having said that this is my first stint in writing so i will really try to improve on my work.

      1. Augie

        Jakelong, I liked your story and intended message. You will find this an extremely user-friendly environment. The longer you hang out here reading and writing, you will naturally develop your skills and personal style. I read you comment of how you will really try to improve on you work. Well, I think the skill set you desire will come with time and I cannot think of a better audience than here.

        Hemmingway, one of my favorite authors said something like: It’s more important what we leave out rather than what we put into a piece of writing.

        So yes, make us WORK a bit! If you spend a lot of time making sure ‘we all understand’, it can become long and boring. Hang out here, write, and find your balance. Peace…

  11. lionetravail


    (The original story under my name, here: – click control f to find and type in Win Ston to find it in the page)

    I watched the new class sit on the floor via the security monitor, three weeks past their final moulting. Nominally they were all mature, but reversions were a real possibility, however rare. Confining the risk to a single clawful at a time, and their past-breeding instructor, was protocol.

    Not to mention, in this case, especially prudent: one of the new adult males had been one of the traumatized students at the Win Ston Waters-High School breach. In it, a number of the young had been lost to their fellows’ cannibalism and the incompetence of their teachers in containing the incident promptly. The instructors had already been recycled to feed the newborn of the People.

    On the screen, I saw the the suspect male shift his front claws and tail, and I turned up the volume to hear what he had to say in answer to the standard psycho-emotional exercise.

    “… And every day, I like to daydream, losing myself in lignor and tuliya pools which spread across the floor around me…”

    I saw saliva start to fall from his jaws as the instructor sent a panicked look directly at the camera. I wasted no time striking the large button on the panel before me, and watched the student leap to his feet with a roar, the other students scrabbling away, even as the yellow gas filled the room from the vents. He fell, even as he rushed for his nearest neighbor, followed closely by the rest in the room.

    Later, I accompanied his unconscious form onto the Battlecruiser heading to the frontier, and I was there when he woke in his cell.

    I pressed the intercom as I watched him assess the small room in which he found himself.

    “You have been removed from the school,” I said.

    His head jerked around, looking for me, but I was outside. “What is happening?” he said.

    “You have been removed from the school,” I answered. “For the safety of your classmates. We have failed you, and your trauma as a juvenile has made you unsuitable for any life on the World.”

    “It’s not my fault,” he hissed.

    “No,” I agreed.

    “What will happen?”

    “You will serve your people in the only life for which you are suited,” I said. “You will assuage your need for violence by fighting to exterminate the native race at Colony Site Five, with whom we are at war. You will mate on board this vessel as often as you wish and are able, to father as many young for the People as possible. You will revel in the carnage you cause, the lignor of the ichor you will spill, and the tuliya of the digestive juices as you slaughter.”

    I watched his breathing speed up, and hit the button beside the intercom. The inside wall slid up to reveal a female in estrus. He was on her in seconds.

    I turned off the intercom and activated my throat communicator. “It’s done,” I said.

    “Very well. Take your shuttle and return to the World- the next suspect class will be ready for your return.”

    I glanced once more at the ferociously mating pair on the monitor, and left.

    We all had our duties in service to the People.

    1. k.spicer

      Lion, this is why you’re a master of sci-fi and fantasy. You create these strange but believable scenes and then fill them with beings that haunt us…all in service to the People! Well done!

    2. lionetravail

      Thanks everyone. As always, I could always edit more… and I have! I think the ending could have been even stronger, but I only considered it in review and retrospect. I post it here, in the interest of any reader.

      “Very well,” came the reply. “Take your shuttle and return to the World- the next suspect class will be ready upon your return.”

      I glanced once more at the monitor, and, not for the first time, wondered if this were the best we could do for him, and the others like him.

      I shut the monitor off and left, before I had any other dangerously subversive thoughts.

  12. k.spicer

    If I hear one more cheery-bimbo-cheerleader story I think I’ll throw up. This is the reason I hated high school. You had to sit in class with these empty-headed-blond-bimbos and watch them cheer for everything. I once saw one of them start a cheer because she got a “C” on her report card. Another girl named, Wanda Sue Mitchel, would break out into a full on cheer every time the bell would ring at the end of each class; it was liked someone programed her or something.

    But the worse one of all was Jennifer Mathews; the one everybody knew was going to be homecoming queen. She loved to brag about her wonderful life with all her wonderful friends who enjoyed all the wonderful things that their wonderful parents bestowed upon them. She flaunted her expensive clothes and gaudy jewelry and would make sure that she rubbed it all under my underprivileged nose. I hate that word; “underprivileged.” If they are going to point a finger at me I’d rather them just say “poor.” Underprivileged sounds like something you’re born with that you can never change.

    I’ll never forget the day that Jennifer Mathews threw her hands up and started a cheer as I was being escorted out of the room for shooting paperclips at one of the other blond-bimbo cheerleaders. It didn’t bother me till I heard the rest of the class join in on a choirs of what seemed to be Jen’s favorite cheer of all; “Patty, Patty, she don’t care, she don’t care she lost her hair…hey Patty, hey Patty.” Could I help it that the chemo treatments made my hair fall out?

    I somehow managed to survived high school and I thought those days were behind me until today when I saw Jennifer Mathews sitting in the circle our professor placed us in to tell everyone something about ourselves. I was never very good at that sort of thing but when Jennifer made a comment about how glad she was that her tax dollars were funding the underprivileged so they too could go to college, I gritted my teeth trying not to say anything, but it seemed that all the air came out of me when she cornered her eyes toward me and told everyone that she knew a really great cheer that she would teach them. At that moment I felt my insides knot-up and I wanted to run out of there crying, but instead I sucked it up and decided to stick it out.

    When it was my turn I didn’t know what I would say but I knew that whatever it was it would have to be the truth and not harmful to Jennifer even though I wanted to blast her right out of the room. I took a deep breath and looked around at the group. “My name is Patty…and this is a wig I’m wearing.” When I looked up at everyone I pulled it off revealing my bald head. “You see, I thought the days of my wearing wigs were over with when the doctors told me that my cancer was in remission. But two months ago I was told that it had returned and that I had, maybe if I was lucky, three to five years to live.” All eyes were on me which is something I’ve grown accustomed to but never really liked.

    “My parents, who have given up everything to pay for my treatments, asked me what I wanted to do with the little time I had left. I told them that I’ve always dreamed of going to college and earning a degree. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow they managed to fund my college as well. You see, my mom and dad both work and make too much money for me to get any assistance for my school. But the medical costs have always taken nearly everything they could ever make. I don’t know what they did to pay for my classes but I’m not going to let them down…I’m going to work hard and earn this degree so they can be proud of something that I’ve done in my life. All I’ve managed to do so far is get sick and eat up all their money.

    “We used to have a summer home in the Florida Keys but my dad sold it to pay hospital bills. It was the same thing with nearly everything they owned…my medical bills just ate everything.” I looked around at the group and smiled. “You see, that’s why I need to get this degree…so I can earn enough money to pay them back for everything they gave up for me.”

    I put my wig back on and did my best to smile to ease their obvious discomfort. The rest of the kids said their names and that was about it. At first I thought this circle exercise was stupid, but it actually felt good to talk about what I was going through if only for a moment. You know, I may have been wrong, I think I might actually like this college thing after all.

    1. Reaper

      Augie has this one right. Loved the switch in tone in this. Lovely story and the lack of any focus on the cheerleader and her reaction made it a wonderfully uplifting tale of redemption rather than revenge. It played well with your MC not blasting her adversary.

    2. jmcody

      You know, this one really touched a nerve in me and I’m not sure why. It was a tale about the conflict and misunderstanding between the haves and have-nots in life, but it was more than that. Maybe it just reminded me of how thin the line is between those two groups, and what an artificial division it is. When a thing like cancer or unemployment or any other disaster strikes, it has a way of upending everything you thought you knew about life. The perky blonde cheerleader could just as easily find herself in a similar predicament tomorrow, except she lives blissfully ignorant of that fact. It reminded me also of all those annoying people on Facebook who are constantly bragging about how wonderful their lives are, oblivious to the rampant suffering around them.

      A wise writer friend of mine recently told me that good writing produces a reaction in the reader. So congratulations, because you did that here.

  13. Manwe38

    Okay, so I’m going to post after all. First off, let me preface this by saying none of what’s described below has actually happened, it just represents an inner conflict that’s being dealt with. Of course, drama makes for great writing, so I hope everyone enjoys it.

    It’s a bit of a painful read, though.


    He glanced around the circle at the cornucopia of faces. His new classmates were a motley bunch; young and old, thick and thin, their stares contained both experience and innocence. The instructor sat, head cocked, inches from where he was comfortably perched. The air was warm, almost stuffy, a smelly blanket of lysol and heating duct that tickled his nose like an invisible feather. The others had spoken, given their names, and now it was his turn. His turn to smile, his turn to speak.

    His turn to confess.

    He faced the teacher and bared his teeth. They had several stains, but he didn’t care. All that mattered was that he cleansed his soul. He’d broken his vow, and now the world would know.

    “My name is Evan,” he said. “And I’m not an alcoholic.”
    Silence. Well, it was worth a shot. The glances were still neutral, maybe even a tiny bit curious, but not hostile. Not yet.

    The instructor returned his grin. “I’m glad to hear it, Evan. Welcome to Creative Writing.”
    “Thank you.”
    “Your welcome.” She smoothed out the top of her tie-dye shirt. “Now that we’ve finished-”
    “Actually, I haven’t.”
    Her eyes narrowed, the midnight-black pupils shrinking to the diameter of a heroin addict’s. “Oh?”
    “I need to tell you.”
    “Tell me what?”
    “What I do everyday.”
    “Which is?”
    “Wear purple boxers and yellow socks.”
    There were muffled giggles, and she held up her hand. “I see. And why do you do that?”

    He took a deep breath. “It’s my penance.”
    “Care to explain?”
    “It’s what I was wearing the night of the party.”

    Now the silence was a physical thing, a lead weight that matched the choke of the air. His heart was beginning to pound, and he felt a fine sheen of sweat erupt from his skin, as if his body were trying to molt off the memory. He closed his eyes, the blood pounding in his ears like an adrenalized drum, and the words tumbled out in an unwelcome avalanche.

    “I didn’t mean it,” he said. “It just happened.” He swallowed. “We were sitting on the couch, both pretty buzzed, and she put her head on my shoulder. It wasn’t even a romantic song–I mean, Alanis Morissette isn’t romantic–but the next thing I knew, we were both making out.”

    The instructor frowned, canyons dipping in her lightly-tanned forehead. “And you feel guilty about kissing her.”
    “Because I’m married.”

    There, he’d said. He’d cheated on his wife. After eleven years of marriage, he’d crossed the line. Some of his friends had done it, at least three that he knew of, and now he was part of an infamous club. Around him, murmurs filled the air as his fellow students digested this news, but the instructor’s face remained as blank as a canvas.

    “Have you told her?” Her voice was blander than a piece of white bread.

    “Why not?”
    “I can’t.” Now the pressure was building, a wall of rage like a pent-up dam. “I don’t have the strength.”
    “Well, maybe you should-”
    “No!” His voice was the sound of rushing waters, the surge of a storm on a sleepy shore. He rose to his sheet, hands shaking, and glared at her. Around him, the rest of the circle began to move back, their eyes glinting in the overhead light. “I cannot! I shall not! I am a liar, a cheat, a fraud!”

    The instructor backed away, palms raised like a surrendering soldier. “Calm down, Evan!”

    “I can’t! I won’t! I name myself Baseborn, Oath-breaker, the Scourge of the World!” With both hands, he ripped open his shirt, his gut flopping out like the hairy tongue of a Saint Bernard. Now there was laughter, and even some screams. He heard a flurry of faint clicks, and looked up to see a line of smart phones, capturing his meltdown to share with the world. He smiled, and flipped them the bird.

    “I am Locutus of Borg! I am the Eater of Man! I am the Father of Lies!” Now his hands were approaching his pants. The laughter increased, but so did the pain. He glanced around, looking for something, anything to bludgeon them with, but the smooth green grass was smooth and uncluttered.

    “Stop laughing at me!” he shouted. “You’ll all-”

    He didn’t remember the needle sinking into his flesh, or the ride in a straightjacket to the state-owned looney bin. Later, in therapy, he would face another group, this one drugged, and give the same rant…but no-one would care. Confession was supposed to be good for the soul, but they told him he couldn’t leave until he stopped, so he wouldn’t be going anywhere soon. He still had a wife, at least on paper, but she stayed far away, and so did the girl. Sometimes, when he lied awake in bed at night waiting for the haldol to kick in, he wondered if they ever thought of him, and would wake up with his face wet.

    How did it come to this, a world defined by uncertainty and pain? Would he ever be normal again, get his life and confidence back? He didn’t know.

    He just didn’t know.

    1. k.spicer

      Manwe, I like the story and thought it was written well except for a few typos that didn’t bother me except for the one where he; “Rose to his sheet, hands shaking…” Instead of “feet”. That one drew too much attention.

      The only other thing was (and this might just be me) I thought that there wasn’t enough of a reason for him to go off the deep end like that. Cheating while stressful and possibly a big issue isn’t something that usually puts someone in a hospital for treatment (not normally). If however he had driven her somewhere and was involved in a wreck where she was killed due to his drinking; that may be something large enough to push him over the edge. It just didn’t seem like cheating would have caused this type of response. (again, it may just be me).

      Having said that, I liked the story and thought it was well written. Keep up the good work!

      1. Manwe38

        Thank you my friend!

        Looks like the auto-correct on Pages got one past the goalie; thanks for pointing it out.

        In terms of your feedback, I hear you; my point is that internal guilt can exist over something that might seem (relatively) not the “biggest” deal, like a married man kissing another woman, and that for some, that can enough to drive one over the edge.

        People can snap for any reason, even ones you and I think might not be worth it.

        Thanks for reading, and I appreciate your feedback!

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I read you, Manwe38. Depending on how strorg morals have been pounded in the head of a man or a woman, a passionate kiss behind a wife’s back, can fester in a moralistic brain and be blown out of proportion. Certainly, when I go back quite a few years, an ill advised kiss did get the wheels of guilt rolling. By today’s terms, this sounds ridiculous, but then it wasn’t.

          You poured your hesrt into this tale and I certainly enjoyed it.

        2. k.spicer

          You know Manwe, I was probably over analyzing things. You’re right about this I know, it was just my overly analytical mind at play. I drive myself, as well as my wife, crazy sometimes.

          As far as typos…what I wouldn’t do for an edit button for after we post! Keep up the good work!

    2. Reaper

      Beautifully written. While I might normally agree that it seems like a too small thing I don’t think so here. You managed to make me believe this was a very moral man and this one slip ate at him when most people would have brushed it off. You also made me think keeping it from his wife was part of what was eating at him and adding to it. Glad you posted it!

    3. lionetravail

      Good story Manwe. The meltdown was a nice touch- I’m not sure I like how lucid his thoughts are at the end, waiting for the haldol- I think the tragedy is lessened with the internal conversation at the end.

      1. Manwe38

        I thought about ending it there, but it just seemed too abrupt; I wanted to capture his sense of despair at having lost everything just by being honest.

        Thank you for your feedback!

    4. jmcody

      Hmm… this one got me thinking, maybe a little too much. My first reaction was much the same as K. Spicer’s. I feel like there is more going on here than just an illicit kiss and a guilty conscience. This man must have been pretty tightly wound to have snapped over that. I almost feel like he is a man who wants to walk away from his life but feels incapable of doing so involuntarily, so creates a crisis instead. Maybe he feels trapped in his life and can’t figure out to extricate himself from it. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. I do that sometimes. (And I am not making any such analysis about the writer… I read your warning that this was fiction based on a real internal conflict, so I hope you know I am talking about your fictional MC, not about you!)

      You know, because you are such a good writer, I feel like its okay to point out a little thing like the sensory disconnect involved in feeling a sheen of sweat. A sheen is something you see, not feel. Also, when the teacher’s pupils shrunk to the size of heroine addict, I thought she was going to be the one with the problem in this story. I’m not sure that made sense, unless she was afraid of her student, and I don’t think his behavior had gotten that alarming at that point in the story.

      I loved your description of the Lysol and heating duct stuffiness of the classroom. That felt real. So did the other students whipping out their cell phones to record his meltdown. Overall, very good writing as always.

      1. Manwe38

        Thanks for your comments, especially on the sensory stuff. I tend to get carried away with metaphor sometimes, and it’s helpful to have that be pointed out.

        Thanks for reading! (and the compliments).

    5. Critique

      I enjoyed your story Manwe38 🙂
      This is an excellent place to learn more about our writing and to be inspired to keep our writing juices flowing. I read everyone’s comments on your story prior to mine and in reading them it’s helped me learn more about my own writing.

  14. thexpressivewriter

    Finally got some time off after double presentations yesterday. This is kind of long, but I hope you guys enjoy it.

    Purple and Yellow

    “My name is Raven,” said a soft-spoken girl with long black tresses and delicate features. “Raven Hart. Every day, I like to paint things in purple and yellow.”

    “Purple and yellow?” Professor David Hunter raised an eyebrow.

    What an odd girl… Still, she was one of his star pupils. Privately, he admitted that Raven was by far his best student despite her quiet and reserved deposition. She had an amazing intellect, and carried herself with timeless elegance.

    He could see the other students casting the girl varying looks ranging from curiosity to confusion.

    “Don’t you like other colors?” asked Mason, another of his star pupils. Unlike her, Mason Rivers was an extrovert with a friendly, laid-back manner and, surprisingly, chivalrous values despite his rebellious image. It had been eye-opening to the Sociology professor to see the spiky-haired male often helping others around the campus. The professor had been ashamed of himself for judging his student from his image, assuming that he would be a delinquent.

    “Purple and yellow are best, though,” Raven smiled briefly with a light shrug of her shoulders.

    knock knock knock

    The door slid open, and Mia Anders, his best friend and colleague entered.

    “Mia?” The name slipped out in surprise.

    “David,” she acknowledged with a nod.

    “Class, you may talk among yourselves. Five minutes,” David announced to his students before heading towards her direction.

    Once the door slid close, he raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter?”

    Mia grimaced; and he noted that there was a tightness to her features that he hadn’t noticed up until now, “There’s been another one.”

    Reflexively, he sharply inhaled, body stiffening, a coil of tension building up in his stomach.


    “Sara Saunders. She was found beside the railway tracks,” she said in a low tone.

    His hands fisted, fingers digging into his palms as he struggled to push down the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him.

    He had failed.

    How he hated himself so.

    Pushing the turmoil away for level-headedness, he gave a sharp, curt nod.


    He turned to face the door to his classroom, hating what he was about to do, loathing the fact that he had to inform the class of their fellow classmate’s death. Loathing himself for failing. Again.

    [Time Skip: One week later]

    The news of their fellow student’s death had hit them hard. Class had been dismissed after the announcement; the principal had addressed the entire student body at assembly the next day in which they had a moment of silence for her. Much of the student body was in shock – Sara hadn’t been extremely popular, but she did have a close-knit circle of friends and was still a fellow student.

    “Damn it!” David Hunter glared at the paper-covered wall before him. Guilt was eating away at him – he had been at this for almost a year and he still didn’t know the identity of the killer.

    The wall in front of him was strewn with numerous photographs and articles. All of them were littered with captions, and writings – some of them strung together. “Serial Killer in Lingston, Where is the Police?” one news article’s headlines screamed – another, “Johnson College Student Murdered”,”Sara Saunders Found Dead!” – it was endless.

    While it was true that he was a professor, he hadn’t always been one. He had actually been one of the best federal agents in The Agency before he quitted after the brutal murder of his mother a few years ago. He still kept himself in good shape and skills sharp, though.

    But when news of a new serial killer being near if not in his area started surfacing, the Agency approached him through Lynette Baroness, one of the founders herself. That was when he knew it was much more serious than he expected.

    He took a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down. Nothing would come out of him losing control. Once sufficiently calmed, he ran through what he knew in his head.

    There seemed to be no pattern, no link between the killings. There had been eight victims so far, of varying genders and ages – which meant the Agency could not profile the type of killer he or she was, making it a taxing struggle. Not to mention that the victims were constantly found in random places – from the darkest corner to a public place. But one thing that kept them going was the little notes they found at the crime scenes with the bodies – so far they had the letters ‘y’, ‘h’, ‘t’, ‘e’, ‘n’, ‘u’, ‘r’, ‘o’.

    “At it again, huh…” said Mia as she entered the room, eyes looking over the familiar material. “How’s it going?” she inquired. Besides being his best friend and colleague, she used to be a freelance agent before switching to her current profession. They had met on a case back then when both of them were active agents – none of them had expected to meet the other after.

    “Still nothing,” sighed the former agent as he rubbed at his eyes tiredly. “Seriously, I wished I hadn’t accepted the job.”

    A wry smile crossed the female prodigy’s face as she pointed out, “We would have eventually gotten involved anyway. Just your luck that the Agency approached you, though I didn’t expect that they’d call on me either. The visit I got from him was surprising.” She had been approached by the other founder, Caleb Denson. “I mean, a former freelance agent?” Mia shook her head.

    “True enough,” he admitted.

    “Well, let’s get started then. The Saunders’ files just came in.”


    “Shhh…don’t move,” a female chided the bound squirming individual in front of her. “You wouldn’t want to ruin my hard work, wouldn’t you?”

    “Purple and yellow, are such beautiful colours, after all.”

    1. k.spicer

      thexpress, this was an interesting take. I do think however that you didn’t mean to say, “…despite her quiet and reserved ‘deposition’.” What I think you meant to say was, “…despite her quiet and reserved ‘demeanor'”. One other thing that stood out was when you said, “…before he ‘quitted’ after the brutal murder…” Although some may say that ‘quitted’ may work technically, a better choice would have been to simply use the word ‘resigned’ it just sounds better in this instance and you don’t have to fight with yourself over using “quit, or quitted”. It was definitely an interesting story. Thanks for sharing.

      1. thexpressivewriter

        Thank you! This was my first time genuinely writing a piece like this, so I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

        Woops..thanks for pointing that out, I often mix up the two words; I should really work on that. I see your point, I’ll definitely keep that in mind best I can. No problem, I’m glad you enjoyed the piece. Thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂

    2. Reaper

      Very interesting. There were some other words in tense and placement that stood out, other than what k.spicer mentioned. However it is nothing a good edit pass wouldn’t catch. It is funny because the more intriguing the story the more those words jump out and disrupt the flow. This was amazing and while I was guessing at the student being the killer I am still left wondering about the randomness and wanting more. If you wanted that to be a bit easier to discern you did great. If you didn’t it’s mostly a word count thing and you might want to throw a little attention to other students or at least a bit more to the other best student to mislead us. However, this feels like the beginning of something longer and very good.

      1. thexpressivewriter

        Hi, Reaper, thanks for taking the time to comment.

        I just rechecked my piece and I see what you and k.spicer mean. A bad habit I have regarding writing for prompts is that I often forget to recheck. On the other hand (not that it’s a good excuse), this was a particularly long piece in reply to the writing prompt and I had had a long day.

        I’m glad you think so. It was my first time tackling the crime/suspense/thriller genre properly, so I’m pretty happy that you and others enjoy this piece.

        Fun Fact: The alphabets and number of victims were chosen very deliberately and not at all at random.

        I did want to continue writing this, but it was getting a tad too long so I cut off some stuff that I planned. I may or may not continue this (if possible, using other prompts) or set my mind to complete it properly.

        Thank you! 🙂

    3. lionetravail

      This is a pretty involved piece, and it’s got a lot of good stuff in it. The layout kind of works for me, almost like a set of scenes in a show. If there’s one critique I would offer, there’s a bit of backstory told by the narrator, like the “while it was true he was a professor”… I’d rather see it in the story happening, than be told about it.

      Overall, this is compelling 🙂

      1. thexpressivewriter

        Hello! 🙂

        Yep, there’s a lot going on in this one. I was a bit worried that there was too much content and that it would seem like an information overload at some parts, but apparently not. Phew.

        Hmm, more show and not tell? Will keep that in mind for future use – depending on what type of piece I’d be writing, though.

        Thank you very much, I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

    4. jmcody

      I kept wondering how the girl with the purple and yellow paints was going to figure into this story. I immediately thought of her being the killer but then dismissed it because I thought it would be too obvious, so I was actually surprised when she did turn out to be the killer, if that makes any sense. So you succeeded in messing with my mind. This was very intriguing. There is one thing that would have made it more satisfying though — if you had given some indication of what the colors purple and yellow had to do with you killer’s psychosis, if it was something other than just a random quirk. I would like have some clues about her motivation. (Sequel?) I know, word count makes that tough, especially when you get into such an involved story as this. Very interesting!

      1. thexpressivewriter

        Hi, jmcody 🙂

        Haha. Well, there’s actually quite a bit of hidden things in this piece. Feel free to try and figure it out. Thank you, I did my best to not make it so obvious.

        Regarding the colors, here’s another fun fact: they actually symbolize/mean something.

        I initially thought about revealing it, but decided not to at the last minute to keep people guessing. So yes, there may or may not be a potential sequel for this.

        Thanks you! 🙂

    5. Augie

      No matter what I read or who the author is, I read it twice. Why? Because I know that a person selected the journey they wish to take me on as a reader. I look in every corner, finding pieces in the shadows. Thats what you ‘made’ me do. I consider that, great writing! Bravo!

  15. Cynthia Page

    (Begun in medias res for word count restrictions.)

    Cultivating Friends

    “My name is Naomi and every morning I draw purple and yellow demons in a notebook.” I tried to stop the words by clamping my hand over my mouth, but they got out anyway.

    “Demons used to surround me most of the time, but they’re worse when I first wake up, hissing at me, and taunting me. When I was ten, I found out they’re fascinated with their own images because they can’t see themselves in mirrors. I make them fixate on the drawings so they’ll leave me alone.”

    Professor Patrick smiled, and said, “It’s okay Naomi. There’s no need to cover your mouth. Let it out.”

    Oh, God, I knew it was a mistake to take a psychology class my first semester. Confession is NOT good for MY soul. In fact, confession could get me busted back to demon third class. I opened my mouth to offer an explanation, but things just got worse.

    “My overlord has me watched night and day, and if I get out of line I’ll be sent back. But if the watchers fixate on the page with their images, they can’t follow me around. When I discovered this, I thought I could be myself again, the me that didn’t want to go to hell. But the demons still get out at night while I sleep, and they plastered my drawings all over the house. Now I have to see a shrink twice a week to explain my habit of drawing demons, but I can’t stop drawing them. The penalty would be constant surveillance.”

    Professor Patrick continued to smile. He thanked me, and moved on to the next person as if I had not dropped a bomb on him. My classmates giggled and whispered to each other. At the end of class, as everyone was packing up, Professor Patrick asked me to stay and speak with him. When the students had cleared out, he put an arm around my shoulder and said, “Come to my office so we can talk in private.”

    I kept my head down and followed like a grumpy gnome, blue dyed hair hanging over my face, brand new Nikes slapping the corridor like clown shoes. In his office, I started to speak, but he waved me silent until the door was shut. I’d heard they aren’t supposed to do that.

    He went behind his desk, opened a drawer, and removed something I could not see clearly. He came back around his desk, put the thing against my chest, and said, “This one is mine. Prior claim.”

    The whole world became brighter. I could see sunshine through the window, and sunshine on the floor and the corner of his desk. I hadn’t seen sunshine since I took this body over. In fact I had not seen sunshine since the day before my first death. The silver pentagram in his hand had a small gold cross in the center. What the hell am I getting myself into?

    1. k.spicer

      This was pretty cool Cynthia. I kind of thought that the professor was “one of them” when he asked her to stay after class. Although I thought he would be one of them that she was trying to avoid! Well done!

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you. I love it when a story surprises me. It means I’m letting the story tell itself. I was not expecting the twist, either. The professor’s strange nature came unexpectedly. I still don’t know what he is, but I’m trying to let him tell me without prompting.

    2. jmcody

      This was not what I thought it was going to be, which I liked. It started out with what I thought was a maladjusted misfit and turned into something much more interesting. I liked your descriptive details like the blue hair and the Nikes slapping like clown shoes. The only thing I’m confused about is the pentagram with the cross in it. Forgive me if I am being a dolt, but I don’t understand that reference, and why the world became brighter, or anything else after that. I must have missed that day in Demonology 101. Even so, I liked it a lot because you took me on a trip and surprised me.

      1. Cynthia Page

        Thank you, jmcody. As for the (penta-cross?) I’m not sure either, but I think this is not your usual rescuer/crusader or bad guy/good guy. I think he is some kind of cross between character types, and I kind of think he has an agenda. I’m not even sure Naomi is the MC. I think the penta-cross is a tool from some twisted genre somewhere between Christianity, Wicca, Warlock/Wizard or rogue Demonism. Like I said, I don’t know yet.

  16. rle

    Oh dear…

    Aimee Akers was already pissed and this utter stupidity only added to her agitation. What sane professor made college sophomores sit on the floor like children around a campfire? What was next? Was this idiot going to make them hold hands and sing? Aimee reluctantly plopped her meager buttocks on the cold, freshly polished tile, but that is where she was going to draw the line. She wasn’t about to join hands with anyone and she wasn’t going to sing shit.

    Aimee’s sights had been set on Penn State but somehow she ended up here, at Central Appalachian Community College, aka Clampett University. She hated it here and knew she’d never fit in with these people. After a whole year she still hadn’t made a solid friend. People here were nothing like her. Most of the guys were shallow and unshaven, reminding her of folks she had seen in an old movie called Deliverance. Most were covered in more ink than thy’d ever used writing term papers and many she surmised, had probably fornicated with a farm animal at least once. A surprising number of the girls were already mothers and a few had probably become aunts on the same day their sons and daughters were born, leading Aimee to believe they’d fornicate with just about anything. As near as she could guess, she was smack dab in the middle of downtown Hell.

    After they had all sat down, they’d been asked to introduce themselves and tell everyone something they liked to do. “This ought to be good,” Aimee mumbled as she crossed her legs and cradled her chin in her palms.

    First up was a tall clumsy looking boy who wore a John Deere tee shirt and a pair of faded blue jeans with fresh patches on the knees. “Uh… my name is John Boy Ledbetter and uh…”

    Aimee stifled a laugh by pretending to cough. Something about the name itself thoroughly amused her. She wondered if he had ever been called Fairy Boy Bedwetter.

    One by one, each student introduced themselves, each one more boring than the one before. When it was finally Aimee’s turn, she had been nearly completely lost in a daydream.

    “Next,” she heard the nasally twang of the professor. She sat up straight and tried to act like she’d been giving each one of her classmates her undivided attention. “My name is Aimee Lynn Akers,” she said sarcastically, “and in my spare time I like to dance with pink and purple circus elephants.’

    The class chuckled in unison as the professor approached Aimee. “Would yo mind elaborating a bit for us Ms. Akers?” he asked as he tapped his pen on the clipboard he was carrying.

    Aimee looked up at him and forced a smile, “I would, but it’s a rather long story, maybe another time if that’s okay.”

    The professor sighed, “Very well then, next.”

    Finally, class ended. It was her last class of the afternoon and she looked forward to holing up in her little apartment. She hated this place, but somehow she’d found ways to cope, none of them good, but all were effective.

    After a hot shower, Aimee headed to her bedroom. She lifted the mattress and removed a small metal container. She opened the lid and extracted a small square piece of paper with her thumb and middle finger. She placed the paper under her tongue and leaned back in bed. She closed her eyes, reached out her hands and anxiously awaited he arrival of the pink and purple elephants.

    1. Reaper

      Amazing. The disdain and venom of the voice through the focal character was intense. It was sad and funny at the same time. The ending was tragic and this was one of those stories that does the reveal perfectly. Just before I read it I knew where the story was going but not completely. The flavor was still unknown. So I got to feel smart for catching it and yet still be surprised.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Only a sentence or two went by before I binded with your MC. A life of broken dreams hadforced her to unwanted school and she took her misery out on she fellow students who had no idea where she was coming from. I;’ve seen this elementary school, middle school college and even grad school.

        I didn’t consider consider her unpleasant or rude, by desperate. You’ve written this well anf I felt involved not only with the MC but the whole class. So she needed to escape, who wouldn’t?

    2. k.spicer

      rie, I can relate to this one. I was forced into a school when I was a kid that was full of gangs and I wasn’t brought up around that sort of thing so I struggled to survive…and found myself doing a lot of things I never thought I would do just to make it through those years. You brought out some emotions through this MC. Well done!

    3. jmcody

      Hey, rle! Did you get edgier since I saw you last? Your MC in this one was so steeped in anger and disappointment that I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her, but at the same time wanted to kick her in her meager butt. You did a great job conveyed her disdain for “Clampett U” and her farm-animal loving classmates, as well as the overall tragedy of her situation. Nice work — I feel like you stretched yourself a bit for this one. (Hence the “Oh dear…”?)

    4. lionetravail

      very cool reveal, and i agree with earlier commentors’ adjectives: edgy, the characgter’s disdain, all very strong. one hopes that this very shallow and self-centered MC gets her eyes opened to reality and gets her choice for an ‘aha’ moment of growth.

    5. agnesjack

      To be so cynical and lost at such a young age was heartbreaking. I did not like the MC at all, but the last paragraph was so well done, I felt truly sad for her and wondered how she ended up in such a hopeless state. The image of her reaching, like a lonely child, for the hallucination of the colorful elephants was tragic. Nicely done, rle.

  17. Augie

    Ok, I’m really reaching with this one! I have the day off…

    Harvesting Weapons

    My name is Ed, “I cleanse souls”

    Mrs. Smith races her car through the pounding rain down a long dirt road, remembering the first day she met the creepy freshman.

    “What is a soul? Most consider it a separate existence that survives death from its host body. You know, the spiritual part of us.

    Lightning strikes above, the treetop explodes crashing across the road. “You can’t control nature asshole!” The body in her trunk bounces as she drives over the inflamed debris. Her mind shifts to the creep rotating a flashlight in class that day.

    “Pulsar radiation is similar to a lighthouse, I capture the star beams and route them through a series of yellow lenses creating a purifying radiant energy.”

    The body kicks in her trunk; lightning flashes around the house on the top of the hill. Hundreds of conical rods glow on the roof.

    “ It’s simpler to cleanse souls if the person is alive, their Solar Plexus Chakra responds better to the therapy. But, I have developed a method to capture wandering souls. It requires more energy from a form of matter called plasma. You know this by the name, St. Elmo’s fire.”

    Mrs. Smith fights the howling wind to the trunk as ghostly figures dive at her. Pointing a shotgun to his head she shouts, “Get out!”

    The students laugh at the pale geek. Mrs. Smith smiles, “ Soooo, if you can clean souls, am I to believe you can also make them evil?”

    His black eyes scan the group of giggling students as he pulls out a mason jar. “ Yes, controlling them is vital. I captured this one last night. Care to take a look? Careful, it hasn’t been cleansed yet ”

    The door is reduced to splinters after several blasts from her shotgun. She marches the prisoner into the house, remembering the demons face in the Mason jar.

    Hands shaking, she looks at the trapped purple fog. The ghostly form stops swirling, staring at her with sunken black eyes then screams.

    She drops the mason jar…….

    “Where are you asshole?” She forces her prisoner up the stairs into a large room illuminated with flashing yellow lights.

    “What is that thing that escaped?”

    The purple spirit circles the class room howling in anger. The creepy kid puts on a pair of odd yellow glasses and smiles, “ooops!”

    The students point to the window in horror as thousands of purple forms swarm outside.

    In the center of the room is a large glass tank filled with thousands of wailing forms. Their evil faces bash against the glass as she approaches.

    She points her shotgun at the giant glass tank.

    “Everyone in town is killing each other! What are those things?”

    Armed soldiers rush into the room pointing assault rifles at the terrified woman.

    “Mrs. Smith? I am General Hopkins, please come with me.”


    Lying on the table, she test the restraints strapped to her body.

    The General paces the room.

    “You say she is immune? Find out why she doesn’t need these glasses! She is the key to protecting our troops once we drop the weapon.”

    “What about her husband sir?”

    “Kill him and Recycle his soul into weapon grade.”

    “What about the town sir?”

    “We are dropping bombs in order to isolate a rare disease that killed them all, the public will buy it.”

    1. Augie

      Ahhhh! I erased a critical sentence where Mrs. Smith shouts, ” What has possessed my husband that makes him want to kill me?” Ohh well, Thats what I get for trying to shorten it! Have a great weekend!

    2. jmcody

      Woah. This was intense. I could see the whole thing playing out before my eyes. I loved the way you told the story be flipping back and forth between the earlier scene in the classroom and the wind- and rain-soaked scene that was unfolding. This had cinematic magic.

    3. Reaper

      I was caught up, and that line makes it even more amazing. You had me in goosebumps through the whole thing. I kept wondering what was coming and then your ending made me shiver. It went from scary to scary as hell in less than a second. Great read. I agree with liking the back and forth style too. It kept me off balance and gave your story even more punch.

      1. Augie

        taymace, I threw a bunch of ideas on a note pad the other day, this one won. Originally his opening statement was “I collect purple souls and cleanse them with yellow light”, but that gave away too much of the story. Imagine a weapon that possesses enemy? Crazy!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hello Reaper. What the hay, I’ll go for it. I’m no competition for you and it’ll be fun for me. I do have one advantage, I’ll push bamboo splinters under my finger nails before I write It YO!

    1. thetelleroftales

      I don’t know how good I am at freaky, but, hey, it’s worthy a try. Still, considering I have you, Kerry Charlton, possibly jmcody, and most likely others of your stripe as competitors, I’ll be extremely lucky to make it into the top fifty. Good luck all, and thanks for sharing.

  18. thetelleroftales

    This was just how Americans did things, I guess. Still, it seemed a little weird that we were all sitting in a circle on the floor. I felt like it might develop into a game of duck, duck, goose.
    We were supposed to say our names and something we did every day, outside of normal routines like brushing teeth. It was to know the other people, but it still seemed stupid. If we wanted to interact, I could think of plenty of games we could play, icebreakers that could be utilized; but I wasn’t the professor. And maybe that wasn’t the way things were done here. Not only was it stupid; I dreaded it because of my telltale accent. While I had an excellent grip on vocabulary and grammar, my accent and hesitancy in speaking singled me out as foreigner.
    I gritted my teeth and spoke up when the time came. Twenty pairs of eyes bored into me like laser beams.
    “My name,” I said, biting off the word before the automatic ‘e’ sound could be added, “Is Luciane Magalhões. Every day I paint a picture using purple and yellow and green paints.”
    It was over, but I still felt eyes on me. I didn’t like them. Particularly those of a boy opposite me; he was handsome but arrogant, and his blue eyes were too electric, as if they would shock you if you stood near him. His name, I remembered, was Kevin. Then I saw other dark eyes staring at me; eyes that looked as lost as I felt. Their owner, when she spoke, also had the slight burr of a foreign tongue. Somehow, from across the room, I could already feel a friendship being formed.
    After class, Kevin accosted me. By his side was a girl that had the same electric eyes and haughty bearing.
    “Hey,” was all he said, but his tone implied that I should feel privileged to talk with him. Creep. Was he trying to impress me?
    “Hi,” said his sister. “How do you say your name?”
    “Luciane,” I replied.
    Her Americanized tongue unwittingly mangled the syllables, and I winced.
    “You know,” she said, “That was kind of weird, what you said in class.” My cheeks burned. “I and particularly my brother were wondering what you meant.”
    I assumed she meant no ill, but I already disliked them both. “My sister challenged me, before I left home. She told me to try and paint a picture every day, using purple, green and yellow, never repeating a picture, so that I would always remember home. The green and yellow is for home, because those are the national colours of my country, and the purple is to remember my sister. It was her favourite colour.”
    “Ooh,” she crooned. “I love your accent.”
    I cringed mentally. I had said that often to a missionary kid friend of mine who had a strange accent. I thought it would help her feel better about her errors; but now I realized how empty those words were, and how alone it made one feel. To always be set apart by the way you spoke. Always standing out; as if my dark skin and raven hair wasn’t enough. I commiserated silently with my old friend.
    “Where are you from?” Kevin asked.
    “Brasil,” I replied.
    “Cool,” he said, “So that’s what your accent is. Spanish.”
    I wanted to slap him. Jerk. I kept my voice calm and friendly. “Actually, in Brasil we speak Portuguese. The accent is really quite different.”
    “Well, sorry,” he growled, as if I had snapped at him. Maybe he had read my mind.
    When they left, I was confronted by the dark-eyed damsel from the classroom.
    “Hello,” she said, “I’m Tanya.”
    I grinned. “And I’m Luciane. Prazer.” I stuttered awkwardly. “I… I mean, it’s a pleasure.”
    Suddenly, we were very close. That simple trip-up with language had demonstrated eloquently the upset we knew we were both feeling, outsiders in culture into which we had been thrust so abruptly. So we talked. She was from Ukraine.
    Our differences from the culture around us bound us together. We were different, estranged in many ways, from the American culture, and it estranged itself from us, because many people, raised in a monocultural, ethnocentric environment, simply did not understand us, or how we could possibly not be like them. True, there were some who genuinely tried to see things from our point of view, and we had many friends. We learned to love the American culture. But at the same time, we knew we longed for our own, and we understood it when the other was wretchedly homesick. Of course, we roomed together, and she didn’t mind my art gallery that I painted for my sister; she added to it. My first roommate had vowed purple, yellow, and green were now her most despised colours, and simply wrote me off as an alien. To be fair, I swore that I would never listen to country music again, and, probably unfairly, assigned her the epithet of ‘egocentrical punk’. Okay, not really. It was actually “Egoista chatoreba”, but that’s a rough translation.
    But Tanya understood about me, just as I understood about her.
    People started calling me Lucy; they couldn’t quite twist their tongues around the unfamiliar syllables. But Tanya could, and she always called me by my right name, because she understood that it was part of my identity as a Brasilian that I was struggling to maintain.
    We were the closest of friends, that freshman year. But life has a way of kicking you a mean curveball when you’re jumping the other way. Doesn’t mean game over… but it can.

    1. Reaper

      This sucked me in. Very nicely done with a very human and interesting story. Something in your opening made me think of the people I have worked with in other countries. There is always this laughing way of dealing with how they speak. We call it odd, and strange. Funny thing is most of the time it is because their grammar is actually too perfect. Rather than using the short cuts they will speak in the proper manner and we have lost it. Kind of strange that that makes them the odd ones. This one just touched me in a simple but very powerful way. I loved it!

    2. jmcody

      I could feel the MC’s homesickness viscerally. How lonely it is to be the foreigner, the one who is different or marginalized. At the same time, though, you showed the difficulty that both the Americans and Luciane had in opening up their minds and hearts to people they perceive as different. It seemed to work both ways in this story. This was interesting and thought provoking.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Heartwarmer, telleroftales. I could tell it was very personal. Funny thng you need to know. It happens often when people move around our country. When I moved to Texas after college, I still walked around with my Philadelphia accent. When I asked what chicken fried steak was, this was the response,

        “Where you from Yankee?”

    3. thetelleroftales

      Thanks for the encouragement, guys. As an TCK (third culture kid), this has happened more times than I care to count (besides it being a college introduction), though thankfully, the majority are much nicer than Kevin and his sister; and I usually don’t feel like slapping the person.
      KC, I sympathize. We travel a lot when we’re in the States, and I quickly discovered how not say certain words in the South (like pecans pronounced pe-cahns, emphasis on last syllable. Its pea-cans, emphasis on first).

    4. taymace

      You took a simple idea and made it quality content. The voice made it so relatable even though I’ve never personally experienced something similar. I went to a school with a lot of diversity on campus- countless countries were represented- and just this short tale gave me a much greater appreciation for the language and culture barriers they had to overcome.

    5. Observer Tim

      Wow. This is a great story about alienation, definitely from the perspective of someone who’s been there. I can sympathize; we moved several times when I was young, and you would be surprised how much the ‘accent barrier’ can be raised even among people who supposedly speak the same language and are from the same country. The culture barrier is no fun either.

      That said, I will consider adding you to my stereotype of people from Brazil, who in my experience have been some of the nicest, friendliest, and most creative on the planet.

      1. thetelleroftales

        Thank you, Taymace, for the encouragement and confirmation. It’s one thing to trigger a response in someone with the same experience; it’s another to impart the same message to someone not familiar with that area. I’m glad I opened your eyes in some small way to cross-cultural struggles.
        Thanks, Tim! Go, Brasil! By the way, I’ve read your blog and really enjoyed it. Great writing and stories.

  19. jmcody

    Sorry so long – I haven’t written in a while and I have a lot of pent-up words. :)

    Meg slid into the desk next to Rachel’s as the bell rang, breathless from her sprint across campus.

    “Look,” Rachel whispered, “It’s Professor Creepy from last night.”

    Meg looked up to find the teacher’s bloodshot eyes trained on her – eyes she recognized from the Terminal bar where he had shamelessly hit on her the night before. Reeking of scotch, he had all but buried his nose in Meg’s cleavage before throwing up on her shoes and passing out. Meg prayed he wouldn’t recognize her.

    “Good Morning freshmen! This class is Archaeology and I am Dr. Roach,” he said, slashing at the blackboard with his chalk. “We’re going to start today with a little exercise called ‘Excavation.’ For this we’ll need to sit on the floor in a circle.”

    Once they were seated Dr. Roach appraised the circle, a predatory smile seeming to crease one side of his lips. Or maybe it was a sneer, thought Meg.

    “In this exercise, we’re going to explore what can be deduced about a person from their personal artifacts. Let’s see… With whom shall we start?”

    Don’t choose me don’t choose me don’t choose me Meg silently chanted.

    “You there,” he said, nodding at Meg. “Nice necklace.”

    “Um… thanks.” Meg fingered the purple stone, remembering how entranced with her necklace he had pretended to be the night before as an excuse to visually excavate her cleavage.

    “Do you wear that every day?”

    “Actually, I do…”

    “And what do you think that says about you?”

    “Nothing, really. It was a gift. From my grandfather…”

    “Class, what does the necklace tell you about…” he snapped his fingers at Meg. “Name?”


    The students glanced nervously at one another, avoiding Dr. Roach’s gaze.

    “You,” Dr. Roach said, pointing to a squat fellow with a shock of blonde hair over one eye.

    “Maybe she’s, like, Goth or something?”

    Meg scowled. The antique gold medallion with the deep purple stone was ornate, but certainly not Goth.

    “Okay, what else?”

    A pretty brunette with a bouncy ponytail raised her hand.

    “She’s got style, in a sort of boho way.”

    “Okay, boho, sure. Anyone else?”

    Directly across the circle, a lanky boy stared at Meg through wire-rimmed lenses. He spoke without raising his hand.

    “It says that she’s protected.”

    A startled expression flitted across Meg’s face as she looked up and found the boy’s dark eyes locked on hers. That was exactly what her grandfather had said when he gave it to her – that it would protect her. She hadn’t thought much about it, yet she wore it every day because without it she felt, well… vulnerable.

    “Interesting,” intoned Dr. Roach. “Protected from what?”

    “It’s an amethyst, right?”

    Meg nodded agreement.

    “The amethyst is the stone of sobriety. Maybe it protects her from drunks.” The class laughed as the boy remained straight-faced and Meg avoided making eye contact with Dr. Roach.

    “And witchcraft,” continued the stone-faced boy. “Amethysts protect you from evil.”

    “Witchcraft… I see, Mr..?”

    “Fitch. Ellis Fitch,” said the boy.

    Dr. Roach made a mark in his class roster. “Let’s move on, shall we? You there,” he said, motioning to a pimply-faced boy wearing a Minecraft Creeper t-shirt. “What does your t-shirt say about you?”

    “That I’m very, very lonely…” sighed the boy.

    * * *

    “Dr. Roach sure has the hots for you, Meg” said Rachel as the class streamed out the door. “Or… something. Maybe not the hots exactly…”

    Suddenly the stony-faced boy was standing in front of them.

    “Excuse me, Meg, do you have a minute?”

    “Um, sure… Ellis, was it?”

    “Call me Fitch. I need to speak with you,” he said, glancing at Rachel, “In private.”

    “That’s pretty rude…” objected Meg.

    “I have to get to Sociology anyway,” said Rachel, wondering why everyone was suddenly so fascinated with Meg and her magical, goth-boho necklace, which truthfully was kind of gaudy.

    “I’ll see you back at the dorm, Rachel.”

    Meg and Fitch continued walking through the quad.

    “Where did you get that medallion?” Fitch asked.

    “I already told you. My grandfather gave it to me.”

    “Did he tell you anything about it?”

    “He told me lots of things,” she said, furrowing her brow. “What is it you want to know?”

    “Have you ever heard of the Stones of Fire?”

    “Well…yeah. My grandfather was a… theologian, of sorts. He told me all kinds of crazy stories.”

    Fitch was in front of her again, forcing her to stop walking. He reached inside his shirt, and Meg’s eyes widened as he produced a gold chain bearing a medallion identical to Meg’s, only with a brilliant blue stone instead of a purple one. Sapphire Meg thought.

    “We have to talk,” said Fitch.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      jm, it’s good to see you back on the forum, we’ve all missed you. And you come roaring back with a story of mystery, perhaps lurking danger for your MC. Throw in the ‘Stones of Fire’ and you have an entire book here. A lot of people are writing sequels. We need to see part two at the very least. Your little vacation from writing stoked your creative powers. This story absolutely sizzles.

    2. cosivantutte

      You should expand this story into a full novel. It’s just begging for a continuation.

      By the way, I love the fact that you named the archeology professor Dr. Roach. The name fits him perfectly. 😀 Question is, was he pretending to be entranced by her necklace in the bar? He seemed to be pretty fixated on it in the classroom. Someone better keep an eye on him. I suspect that he’s something more than an ordinary creeper.

    3. Reaper

      Wow. Welcome back jmcody. This was wonderful and definitely should be expanded into a novel. Stones of Fire sounds like a great name for a book or even a series. I sense a YA series to rival Harry Potter in this one. Loved the characters, the world seems well developed, as in you seem to have so much more built that is only hinted at here. The names were great and the minecraft shirt was wonderful especially with the I’m very lonely explanation. I also see more than just a creeper in the professor. What I can’t tell is, is he the villain or a misguided mentor in the making? This was wonderful and I want more. Your time off only seems to have sharpened your already razor edge. I echo Kerry on the need for at least part two.

    4. jmcody

      Thanks, guys! Hmmm… A novel you say? That’s a little ambitious for someone who hasn’t even written a short story yet! This was fun to write, and there is definitely a whole lot more story in my head, but I think the entire premise might be a tad ridiculous. What is the likelihood of two missing pieces of antiquity showing up around the necks of two American college kids on the same campus? Unless it’s by design… Divine or otherwise. I will give it some thought. I agree with Reaper that the teacher, and any one of these characters could turn out to be something other than what they appear to be. (Evil mentor… Hmmm, wonder where that thought, that old odd end came from, Reaper…) 😉 The grandfather obviously has a colorful past. Now you’ve all got me thinking…

      Speaking of Old Odd Ends, if you like Reaper (who doesn’t?) and you like creepy, you have to read Reaper’s book, which was a quite possibly the creepiest, most disturbing thing I have ever read. I think I may need therapy after that.

      Told you I had a lot of pent up words.

    5. thetelleroftales

      This is great! Loved the voice, the MC, Professor Creepy (aptly named), the whole stone mythology (I have a sweet spot for almost anything that uses gemology), Fitch, her friend… okay, everything.
      Funny thing; boho sounds like a Portuguese word for idiot, so at first I had trouble understanding what you were trying to say. But then I remembered the English meaning, and it made sense.
      Again, wonderful story, thanks for writing it.

      1. thetelleroftales

        Forgot to mention that I second (or is it third?) the movement for continuing the story. It seems to be falling on its knees and imploring to be expanded. And this as good a time as any to start a novel, if you haven’t yet (even if it’s about something else). Every writer needs to be ambitious.

    6. agnesjack

      And? And? Well, jm, your absence has made you come up with a very intriguing story that begs for more. I liked the description of Prof. Creepy, but I’m not sure if he really was interested in her cleavage. Next chapter, please?

    7. Critique

      A wonderful read and I feel it begs to be expanded. The ending fueled my interest for more! What are the Stones of Fire? Will Fitch and Meg be romantically involved? Etc.

    8. Observer Tim

      I got here after all the good comments were taken. Welcome back, jm.

      This definitely has the makings of a YA or New Adult story, or possibly a series if you choose to run with it. The number of directions you can go is incalculable.

    9. lionetravail

      This is great, JM. A new urban mythology is born 🙂

      I also love just how the amethyst was protection from drunkenness, and then almost as an afterthought, from evil. I’d think evil would have been the first one- the way you revealed it calls to mind the very real but subtle intimation that Professor Roach was not only guilty of clowning drunkenness, but also of real evil.

      If you take this forward, I’d imagine you’ve got that on your agenda. I’d love to see it start as something really subtle, and which is only slowly revealed to us, and even to Roach himself.

      Nice work. Now, don’t go away for so long.

  20. Manwe38

    Just a quick FYI –

    I might not be posting this week due to the religious holiday and an ongoing personal situation that continues to evolve (yes it’s based on last week’s prompt) but I will do my best.

    In the meantime, happy writing everyone!

    1. Reaper

      Hoping for the best and inspiration at the very least. This too shall pass. I am making an assumption here but as I only know of one current holiday I will hazard a guess and say, Shanah Tovah to you.

  21. kace

    (Apologies for deviating from the prompt)

    The first girl the teacher questions answers with an understandably blank look.

    “Sit on the floor in the circle and we can all get to know each other.”

    I fidget and play with the chain on my backpack. Most of the people sitting down are sitting in disbelief, some struggling to come up with an interesting sentence, some hoping that an uninteresting answer will not sabotage their relationship with this particular teacher. I focus on their faces. They pull me in with their distracted looks, bewildered yet determined to be calculating.Because we’re in grade twelve, and there are things expected of us, things that smack of adulthood and fulfillment we dreamed of since kindergarten.

    Their glances shift over to me. Curious, pointed glances, saturated with the need to judge. My mind slips, egged on by the distant familiarity of sitting cross legged in a circle. Back to my first day of Junior Kindergarten.

    “O-Orchids.” I stutter out. Exquisite purple flowers with a delicate yellow patch in the center. In the third grade I read that it symbolized luxury and love. Strength and beauty, characteristics that most of us hope to embody, but leave to be fulfilled in the fairy stories we read so long ago, sitting in a circle.

    The class has moved on. The teacher checks the name on her clipboard.

    “Thank you, Karen.” A generic response, generic smile that the kindergarten teacher pastes on for every child who walks through the school doors. And despite the first day, the days that follow will be the same as those of the year before.

    1. snuzcook

      Your short piece left me with a strong impression, kace. I had the impression of Karen holding an incredible amount of potential, worlds of thoughts that might be expressed given the right opening. She took the first step with a word that had meanings and reasons. But no one asked, no one opened the door wider to invite the fullness of her thoughts to be shared. And then the door was closed and she decided in that moment that it was hopeless. It was too soon for her to open the door herself. You story leaves me hoping that someday very soon she will.

    2. jmcody

      A lot said, and unsaid, in a short space, and such finely tuned tension between childhood and adulthood, meaning and meaninglessness. I loved that you thought of an Orchid. Made me think of “The Language of Flowers.” I also loved the phrase “saturated with the need to judge,” which instantly conjured that painful uncertainty of adolescence. Very, very nice, Kace.

      1. kace

        Thank you all so much for the comments..this is only my second post so im pretty new here.
        Originally my reason for not going straight with the prompt was the fact that college is still years away, haha 🙂

    3. agnesjack

      I have a special place in my heart for orchids, so I loved how you used those exquisite and tempermental flowers. In such a short space, as others have said, you tell a full and compelling story. The thread from kindergarten to pre-college was well done. Excellent, moving story.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is beautiful, kace. I’ve been in “sharing circles” with people who could say something in one word that should have touched everyone, but didn’t. You’ve created a crystal-clear look into the mind of one of those “forgettable” people that should never be forgotten.

  22. agnesjack

    Couldn’t let another week go by without posting.

    It never ceased to amaze Professor Woodard that the simple act of sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor for the first class always brought out such varied emotions in her freshmen students. The looks on their faces ran the gamut: the “please don’t pick me first” faces; the “I am SO above this adolescent nonsense” faces; and the “wait ’til you hear how clever I am” faces.

    To her left was a young man, however, who just sat. His face revealed nothing at all.

    “How about you start the introductions,” she said to him with a smile. “Just state your name and tell us a little something about yourself.”

    “My name is Emmett. Every night at sixteen minutes past eight I like to stand on my balcony in purple and yellow argyle socks.”


    “And nothing else.”

    There were titters all around, but Emmett’s face remained completely serious.

    “Well, Emmett,—” Professor Woodard began.

    “Summer or winter,” Emmett continued. “That’s why it was necessary for me to have a dorm room with a balcony.”

    There was something about Emmett that made the professor believe that he was not being facetious.

    “Well, Emmett,” she said, “is there a particular reason why you feel compelled to do this at eight-sixteen every night?”

    “I’m not compelled. It’s necessary.”

    Another round of giggles.

    “I’m sure everyone is as intrigued as I as to why this would be necessary.”

    “Well,” Emmett said, “when I was thirteen, a group of us were hanging out one night in the alley behind Manny’s Auto Parts smoking cigarettes, when we saw this new kid in town stop at the entrance to the alley to pull up his socks. He always wore men’s purple and yellow argyle socks that came up to his knees, but his legs were so skinny they were constantly slipping down to his ankles. He was a scrawny kid with big ears and wiry hair that refused to lie flat.”

    Emmett paused for a few seconds.

    “Anyway, one of the guys, Donny, thought it would be funny to lure him into the alley and steal his socks, so he shouted to him — ‘Hey! Wanna smoke?’ — and the kid nodded his head and came into the alley. I don’t know who jumped him first. It was probably Donny, but that kid fought like crazy, and although we ripped all his clothes off him, he wouldn’t let us take the socks. He was like a demon, possessed.”

    “What then?” Professor Woodard couldn’t help but ask.

    “Well, we took his clothes and ran out of the alley and hid just out of sight laughing, but you know what that kid did? He came marching out of the alley like he was in a parade, turned up the block and headed for home — buck naked except for the socks, which seemed to glow in the dark. His name was Benny. He was one gutsy kid.”

    He blinked twice and then continued.

    “Nine months ago, Benny’s stepfather shot him when he was trying to protect his mom. The official time of death was eight-sixteen. So,” he shrugged, “I wear his socks and try to remember the skinny, scrappy, fearless kid, who became my best friend. It helps, you know?”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Welcome back with a huge hug. Where you been, girl? I have always loved reading your tales and this is one of them. It’s poignant to the point of beauty. There are people in life who do tributes like this and it makes your story sing to me. You haven’t lost your touch and I hope you’re back for good.

          1. Augie

            Working things out… Young minds inspire me. Reading my collection by Will Durant of our Oriental heritage, Hope you are back for good.. You have been missed….

      1. thetelleroftales

        I don’t think I can much more to what has already been said, so I’ll just add to the eulogies and say this is a wonderfully written and beautiful and heartwarming story that near had me in tears. I would say that I hope you stay longer this time (and I do), but, well, I’m not one to speak, considering my attendance record.

      2. agnesjack

        Ah, Kerry, my friend, your virtual hug is greatly appreciated. Long story short: I’ve been helping my nephews get the house they inherited from their dad, my brother, ready for renting so that it is self-sustaining because they don’t want to sell it.

        I have to say, though, that I have missed the wonderful conversation of this forum and hope to get back to participating more actively soon.

        I’m glad this story worked the way it did. This forum has been a godsend for me and I’ve missed it. I hope to read most of the stories tomorrow.

    2. jmcody

      Chills! All of that from purple and yellow argyle socks! You’re as original, imaginative and moving as ever, AJ. (I’ve been AWOL for a while too — glad we’re both back.)

      1. agnesjack

        It’s funny, jm, but when I thought of the color specified in the prompt, all I could think of was argyle socks. Don’t ask me why. Anyway, it was the key to the story. I love when that happens. I hope both of us come back to the fold. I don’t know about you, but this forum has been a blessing for me, because it takes me out of myself and to wonderful, intriguing places.

    3. Reaper

      Wow agnesjack. I’m one of those that misses your stories when you’re gone. When you return you post something that makes me feel like a novice. The sheer beauty of this is matched only by the skill of the writing.

      1. agnesjack

        Reaper, thank you so much. I truly value your input because you have always been able to discern what works and what doesn’t in a story, which is so important. So, when you give me such a positive critique, it makes me feel that, perhaps, I can be a writer.

        By-the-way, I love that your username has a link now that lets us know a bit about you. It’s a good start to the next phase of your writing journey, and I wish you well in that pursuit.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is wonderful and touching, Nancy. I love the way your MC told the childhood tale without pulling any punches, then finished it up with a one-two straight to the heart.

      Welcome back; you have definitely been missed.

  23. Pete


    I quit talking because I don’t see the point. NOBODY LISTENS.

    Dad, you are so entrenched in bullshit that you would need the Jaws of Life to pull you out of the swamp of shit that is your own brain. But I doubt you will ever read this becaust you gave up on me years ago, unlike all the trivial shit you can’t seem to let go (how many years can you play fucking fantasy football?).

    Mom, you are a shell of yourself. Like a leaf that was once green and life giving, you are now just withered and crinkled and scraping down the street with the wind.

    To anyone who reads this, after it’s all over, I hope you will wake up. But please, don’t call this a manifesto; because it’s not, it’s just my chance to be heard.

    And it’s not all my parents’ fault. We all suck; we’re too self-absorbed to actually put in the tiny effort it takes to have an actual conversation. Maybe some of the blame lies with me, and that’s fine. Maybe I don’t have much to say that’s worth someone to actually STOP TAKING SELFIES AND LISTEN.

    So again, what’s the point?



    So obviously it didn’t happen. BUT IT’S OKAY.

    When I entered through the gleaming doors that first day of fall semester I really thought I was walking my last steps. And I was a lit fuse of anticipation.


    The classroom was like a theater or some shit. Seats wrapping around in a semi-circle. I avoided faces, heading for the empty seat near the back when the teacher stopped me.

    “How about you?”

    She wanted me to talk. Speak. Tell her about myself. Trickles of sweat raced down the slope of my back because if anyone knew what I was thinking they would have RUN FOR THE EXITS. But they just looked on, at me, waiting as I white knuckled the handle inside the pocket of my sweatshirt. I had planned so much and she was seriously fucking things up

    She asked my name and when I told her it was Gus she said she how she had a nephew with the same name. RIGHT. Then she asked me what my favorite part of the day was. I just stood there.


    I love to paint in my room in the mornings. Gentle strokes, mixing, trying to get the colors to streak just right. I followed along with youtube videos because my Dad won’t pay for me to paint. Lately I’ve spent every morning trying to perfect this wrinkled little postcard I have of the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. A purple sky, streaks of yellow lights in the distance. Fuck I’m lame.

    “Gus?” the teacher said again and when I opened my eyes they were full of tears. The whole room shifted to look at the freak crying and my plan changed. I turned the handle and jabbed the metal into my belly button—where I was once connected to my very disconnected mother.

    My index finger flexed. Then I felt this hand on my back. A girl’s hand. She had these big lima-bean-green eyes that were full of concern. Her skin was the color of the sand in the postcard. The teacher told the class to take a breath.

    I followed the girl out of the class and we just….talked. It was crazy. I sifted through the gold speckles in her eyes. I held death in my pocket and she was urging me to see the good in the world.


    When I got home I told my mom. Not everything, but enough. She cried. Then Dad came home and FLIPPED OUT. Then we all talked. He even cried.

    I put his gun back in his closet.

    I’m going to art school.


    But they’re listening.

    1. kace

      Wow. This is perfect. The thoughts and emotions in this are incredibly well portrayed and realistic.

      I need to stop reading other peoples pieces before I get to writing mine XP

    2. thetelleroftales

      Awesome take. I think everyone at one point feels like they’re never heard, and no one will ever hear, and no one cares. These feelings you captured perfectly. And I’m glad he didn’t commit suicide, because there is good in this world, and there are people who will listen, and I like how you connected the girl to his painting. Great writing.

    3. jmcody

      I’ll say wow too. Incredibly crisp, spare writing, drenched in genuine emotion. (You must be Peetaweet, I’m thinking.) This on really grabbed me from the start and didn’t let go. Incredible.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m chiming in with the others above me. This is powerful, I wanted to weep myself. Your particular story has affected me more than any other on this prompt. Crisp is the perfect description for this [aka jmcody].

    4. agnesjack

      There is so much to like about this story, Pete, but what I loved was how a creative pursuit can make us feel alive when our lives are otherwise difficult. I relate it to this forum, in a way. Finding the light of creativity in the darkness of the mundane, or worse, shards of indifference is a very powerful message.

    5. Observer Tim

      A desperate plea for attention is answered. This is the oft-told urban legend about one kind act preventing suicide, but you’ve told it in a new and intriguing way. This is quite inspirational, Pete, and very well written.

  24. Kerry Charlton


    Billy Powell’s excitement overwhelmed him as he walked the campus of the University Of Miami located in Coral Gables, Florida. On his way to freshmen orientation class, he passed the student union building nestled beside the edge of a twenty acre lake, lined with royal palms soaring sixty feet toward the blue sky , along with hibiscus and oleander in full bloom. His mode of dress, wearing nothing above his waist had caused concerns with the university dress code so he wore a simple tee pulled over his jeans, but walked barefoot on the grass.

    Entering the orientation classroom, every head turned toward him. His slate black hair fell well beneath his thick shoulders and muscled arms. Co-eds took a startled second glance at his chisled face and deep blue eyes that bore the look of an ancient warrior. He slipped into the circle of students sitting on the floor cross-legged and that amused him.

    ‘Am I at a ‘spin the bottle’ party or in first grade at elementary school?’ he thought.

    The professor, a well-put together brunette with slender legs, around thirty or so and with almond eyes, spoke to the students,

    “My name is Dr. Jia Yoo. I want you to introduce yourselves and tell us about your every day habits.”

    Billy noticed the girls outnumbered the men by a great percentage. He knew he had chosen the right university. When the eye-candy professor looked his way, he stood and talked to his fellow students,

    “I am called Osceola of the Seventh. I wear the colors of my ancestors, purple and canary yellow in honor of them and I walk every day with Coo-Wah-Choble.”

    The room fell to a quiet hush, broken only by the sound of a distant Mocking bird’s call, drifting through an open wndow. He noticed the subtle movements of the professor’s hips under her silk dress as she approached him.

    “”I’m sure all of us would enjoy hearing more. What is your given name?”

    “Billy Powell, the same as my ancient ancestor, a fighter for the Seminole Naton.”

    ‘Tell us about Coo-Wah-Choble,” as she pronounced the Seminole name, perfectly.

    “The creator made him wise and noble,” Billy said. “The first creature to walk the earth, a black panther”

    “Do you really have one?” The voice came from a fresh faced redhead sitting beside Billy.

    “Yes I do, I raised her from a small baby as I walked the Everglades and saw her mother had been slain by a hunter”‘

    Noticing the professor’s eyes being rivited on him, he returned her gaze and admired her delicate beauty. When Dr. Yoo dismissed the class, he waited until the room was empty of students and walked over to her desk.

    “May I have a moment of your time, professor?”

    “Certainly, Mr. Powell.”

    “There are things I could teach you about our culture.”

    “I’d like to hear them Billy. Can you meet me at the student union parking lot at three? Look for my red Maserato coupe.”

    She touched his shoulder lighty as Billy nodded to her and left. Walking across the campus to his next class, he mused,

    ‘I’m going to love this school.’


    1. Critique

      Fun read and interesting. I’ve heard about the Seminole people but know nothing about.
      Methinks tutoring the pretty prof has bumped up Billy’s love for school 😉

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Critique. My take on Billy is he’s always gotten what he wanted from women but when tries with the professor, he’s in for a ride he doesn’t want to go on. Sometimes small packages are deceiving in their power.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reaper, it’s not really a story, but more of an introduction of characrers. The real tale is how the relationship evolves between Billy and the dimunitive professor.

    2. jmcody

      You’ve created some vivid characters here. Even so, I couldn’t believe the prof went for it. I don’t know how she’s going to pay for that Maserati when she gets fired. This story could interesting FAST. There’s all kinds of trouble brewing here. I think they are going to end up on some kind of road trip (a walkabout?) in the Maserati with the panther. Cheers for higher learning.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You’re razer tuned jm. This is a prequel to the real story. Our professor lives in a facade of polite correctness. Billy will be fighting not only for his survival but also for that of coo-wah-choble and the remnents of the Seminole.Nation.

    3. agnesjack

      I like that you left it a bit up in the air, whether the prof. was in control, or Billy. She seemed aware in a way that made me feel that his charms might not work as easily as he thought. His agenda was clear, but hers wasn’t, which made it intriguing, Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Nancy. This is a very uncomplicated beginning to what may become a puzzling murder mystery wrapped around the only Indian Nation that never signed a peace treaty with the U.S. The fierceness of the Seminoles made the Apache’s look like school children.

        They were very organized in their battles and also started much earlier than the Indian wars out west. Try the early 1800 hundreds.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Hi Tim, Thanks for the read and you’re ‘always looked for comments’. Right now i’m concentrating on a ghost story for the contest. I might come back to this. See my response to Nancy above. We’ll see what happens.

  25. taymace


    “My name’s Bobby, and I like to party.”

    It was bad enough our professor had us in a trust circle- she seriously called it a trust circle- doing pointless introductions, but the overplayed cliche really took me back back to my middle school days. They weren’t good days. The next few students to speak weren’t much more original. Amanda liked soccer- just like 4 other girls in the class. Raymond liked Call of Duty. What a shocker.

    I’m not one to go for the plastic type, but I think I drooled a little when I saw the girl that was up next. Yeah, she was borderline Barbie, but all I could see was a prime example of physical perfection. Strategically messy, blonde hair, ruby red lips, tight shirt with a V deep as the Pacific- and then she had to open her mouth.

    “Alrighty, uhh, let’s see,” she giggled, her voice whinier than my sister getting tetanus shots. “My name’s Breea, and I like- ooh! My sorority!” The hot ones were always too predictable. I heard a frat guy died every time such fine looks went to waste.

    My turn was next. I thought to myself for a moment, wondering whether to go the boring route or risk starting a conversation and making this trust circle last any longer than necessary. If I was going to be stuck sitting on a floor, I decided, I might as well make it interesting. “My name’s Bromley and, every day, I like to fall from the sky in my purple and yellow uniform.”

    Quizzical looks shot around the room. “Does that mean getting stoned or are you just a freak?” someone called out.

    For the first time since beginning class, Professor Robbins spoke up. “Inappropriate, Cameron. Are you bored, Bromley, or do you have an actual explanation for your answer?”

    “Of course,” I smiled. I stood and turned my back to her, revealing the yellow logo on my purple t-shirt. The professor squinted from behind her thick glasses.

    “Countryside Skydiving,” she read slowly. “You skydive every day?”

    “Well, it is my job,” I explained. “I’m an instructor. So yeah, I jump at least a few times a day.”

    “No way,” Breea (the perfect ten) whispered, her jaw dropped. “It was you.”

    “Did I jump with you or something?” I asked, because it was clear my excellent looks and the name of my job had made something click in that pretty little head of hers. She stood slowly and took a step in my direction. Her voice still made me want to smash through a window, but when she sauntered toward me with that lovestruck expression- well, maybe I could get over her nasally drawl. Each step made her eyes grow wider, her lips grow softer, her body-

    “You,” she stated quietly. Then she said it again, this time a little louder. I’d heard rumors about sorority girls, but I definitely didn’t expect to have my own by my third class. Breea stopped, her face inches away from my own. “You killed my parents!” she roared.

    Prosthetic nails- no, prosthetic claws- tore at my face. Fingers yanked out chunks of my hair, and an outrageously high heel found itself where no heel had ever dared go.The rest of the class became chaos. A couple guys cheered while Professor Robbins screamed and rushed over to help, but I heard only the sound of my own pain. I didn’t even have a chance to defend myself. The only thought I remember having was ‘that’s one mean left hook,’ before blacking out.

    1. jmcody

      I definitely did not see that coming. Your characterization was great. The MC trash-talked the Sorority girl so much that he was becoming annoying. It was fun to see the tables turned on him. I don’t know how you made parents dying in a tragic accident entertaining but you did.

  26. Augie

    Jay, your banana phone reference gave me this idea.

    Futile fruits of labor

    Da godfather hasn’t seen the inside of a school since fifth grade. After several turns, he finds the correct door and enters.

    The professor greets the godfather and brings him to the center of the classroom.

    “Everyone, welcome to ‘the perfect crime class.’ As you know, I am a former prosecuting attorney and know quite a bit about crime bosses and their mobsters.

    The godfather reached out to me a few weeks ago about two of his employees. He has attempted to wack them for ten years, but they have found a way to survive.

    We are going to help him commit the perfect crime.

    Everyone gather in a circle, lets brainstorm ideas.”

    A student raises his hand, “Hello everyone, I’m Rick. I have a part time job wearing costumes for underwear commercials. One is bulky and purple; the other is oblong and yellow.

    The godfather grins, ”perfect.”

    Three weeks later

    Twenty silverback gorillas run through the Congo’s rough terrain chasing the two mobsters.


    “Stupid, dis camouflage outfit ain’t working!”

    The giant banana trips and falls as the bundle of grapes races by.

    “Stupid, I begged you to be da grapes! You know how important football is to da godfather?

    Now I have ta find da freaking orange all by myself before da Orange Bowl game!”

    The silver backs surround them…..One of them smiles.

    Five years later

    The godfather snubs out his cigar, tilting back the last sip of scotch. Life has been good since the two stupids have been gone.

    Relaxing in his chair, he turns on the news.

    Special report

    While being transported from Congo, three gorillas escaped custody en route to the Miami Zoo. They are considered stupid and dangerous.

    The godfather’s door opens….

    “Hello Boss”——“Hello Boss”——“Oooo Ahhh Ooooo”

    A very hairy Mo collapses on the couch. “You wouldn’t believe the crap we went through ta get back home!”

    Tony chuckles, “Boss, meet da new Mrs.”

    1. k.spicer

      Once again I started laughing as soon as I read the first two words…Da godfather. I knew the two knuckle-heads was gonna’ mess somin’ up. Funny stuff Augie.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’ve got four people within fifteen feet of me and I’m managed to stifle the huckles but now the tears of laughter are flowing. What am I supposed to do now, turn my face to a blank wall? Wacky and wonderful. I love these characters. God help the God father. One of these idiots married a real gorilla?

    2. Observer Tim

      Interesting development, Augie. These two still crack me up.

      The nice thing about the style of comedy is that you can simply ignore any plot elements that you don’t feel like continuing. Perhaps the missus is home baking banana bread. Or she might show up in a slinky evening gown at some point (great, now I can’t get that image out of my head).

      1. Augie

        I am laughing so hard right now, My wife is staring at me like I’m crazy! Ewwwwww! Now I am stuck with the vision of her scantly clad, holding a freshly baked banana bread cake!

  27. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

    Kameron’s Story

    The days turn to night, but I do not see it. The climate changes from hot to cold, but I do not feel it. The holidays come and go, but I do not celebrate them. The only thing I know is the blackness when the lights go out and the small room I’m in when the light lights go on. I know only four walls, the bed, and the three square meals a day that someone pushes through the small rectangle on the door. The extent of my human interaction is the occasional glimpse at the hand that feeds me, but other than that, nothing.

    When you have nothing but time to reflect on your life, you eventually realize that you made a mistake–or several in my case. Hindsight is the unfortunate ruler by which we all measure our regrets, and my regrets span miles. My prison is only one consequence for the actions I regret. Everything else is internal and seem numberless, which I would gladly switch with all the physical discomforts and pain in the world if only to live a moment longer without this turmoil.

    There is no clock in my cell, but after months in confinement, I know when it is time for the lights to go out. Your body has a way of becoming a biological alarm for consistency. Every day, as if controlled by machine, the lights fade. Hours later, I don’t know the exact timeframe because I make myself crazy counting past ninety minutes, the lights finally return. For now, they are on, but they’ll go out soon, and that’s my favorite time of the day.

    Seconds pass, and then darkness. There’s no click. No Ring. No anything. Lights just douse and leave in this inky blackness. This is the time I spend imagining my memories. Even though they may be a mix of good ones that I enjoy and the bad ones I’d rather forget, they are more than anything I could ask for. I’m always afraid they’ll take those away from me, too. Drug me until I can only think about this box, but for now I have a mental television box that the loss of visual sensory allows me to enjoy.

    I can’t control which memories come to me, so I begin to think about my first day in college. I recall the warm September sun on my back as I entered the building, the smell of floor wax and fresh paint, the slight goose bumps I got from being excited. I can see myself walking through the blue door, and actually feel what it was like look upon all my fellow students for the first time. I remember the professor sitting at his desk playing with his cell phone.

    My memory jumps ahead and I’m sitting in a circle on the floor. The professor asked us to tell us about ourselves, and the students, one by one, tell everyone who they are. I only remember what Victoria said, because she would later become one of my regrets. When it got to me, I said, “My name is Kameron, and every day I play with purple and yellow bacteria.”

    At first, they were all confused by me, but I explained that I love science and that it was just something I studied. Most people thought it was strange, but not Victoria. She thought it was cool, which is how we came to know each other. That night we had our first date. It was the night everything went wrong. It wasn’t the first time things went wrong, it just happened to be the moment in my life things went very badly.

    I open my eyes, or at least I think I do. I can’t really tell because it is all the same kind of darkness. I blink a few times just to be sure, and then reach up to feel them open. The feeling of my eyelashes against my fingertips is strangely sensual, and I immediately pull them away from my face. I do not like to feel things like that, because it takes me down a dark territory that I cannot fully control.

    I feel scared because I know that my memories this evening—or is it day because I cannot be certain—are going down the path of regret. I begin to think about her voice. Her laughter was musical, and she spoke wise words. I then hear her voice when tarnished with terror. I can’t recall any specific words but I know they are the kind expressing her discomfort, fear, and even a little hate for me.

    I suddenly hear the sound of shame and sadness, and when a tear rolls down my cheek, I realize I am the one making the noise. I wonder how I could be such a monster, but even as I ask the question, I can feel the tension in my pants. The stress of my shame presses hard against the fabric and pushes the elastic band away from my waist.

    It is moments like these I hate myself the most. People never understand how I feel on the inside. I don’t believe that to be an excuse, because I know they’re right in calling me a monster, but there’s much more to it than that. Everything that I feel is an action that I cannot control. Even at this moment, I want to satiate my hunger, to feel good, but I resist. I resist as I do every time it comes to me these days.

    I reach to the space between my pillow and mattress and feel around for a small triangle. The edge pokes my finger, and I grab it. I obviously can’t see it, but I know what it looks like. It has a silver polished aluminum surface, and I imagine it as I turn it over in my fingers. It was once part of a dinner plate they gave me two days ago, but now it looks and feels like freedom.

    As the warm blood drips down my hands, I lay upon the hard mattress. For the first time in a long time, I weep with happiness. Not because of the freedom that I may or may not find when my journey in this room concludes, but because I am avoiding my physical freedom. I should not be out in the world where I may find myself in the same place I was in that dorm room. I will never be able to live with the uncontrollable monster that hides deep inside me, and I truly believe that no one else should live with me. Just a disease must be irradiated from this this planet, so must I.

    The blackness around me somehow becomes blacker and…

    1. taymace

      I wish I had more context. It’s already disturbing, and then even more so because so much is left to the imagination. That’s what makes it good writing, though. I especially liked the initial paragraph. Because your voice was so distinct throughout, there were instances I thought it was lost, but this was definitely freaky from beginning to end.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        One good lesson for regret. The MC may have turned the corner away from monster to human, but I’m not sure. You leave so much to fill in with the reader’s own imagination, it makes the story real as the reader fills in the blanks. I think this story shoud be sumitted to be published, doesn’t everybody else?

    2. jmcody

      Wonderful writing, Jay. Your writing seems to constantly evolve and develop. This was just one character’s thoughts, with no action and little scene, and yet it was riveting. Masterfully done.

  28. Augie

    The best I could come up with, tough prompt for me!

    Italian Cuisine

    Tony and Mo run into the godfather’s office screaming, “Run!”

    The godfather shouts, “Why are you two stupids purple?”

    Tony tosses the moneybag to the boss as dye packs continue to explode.

    Wiping purple ink from his eyes, the godfather watches as hundreds of space ships land on the treetops outside. Strange creatures jump from their ships to the ground jamming musical instruments.

    They swung from the tree and lit on the ground
    Then they started to rock really rockin’ around
    It was a crazy ditty with a swinging tune
    Wop bop a lula wop bam boom

    “What the hell is happening? “

    Tony and Mo explain as the creatures continued to jam.

    “We were running from da cops with da stolen cash. Den stupid here dropped da bag and da dye packs exploded all over us.

    “Tony giggles, “So we ran into dis portable trailer, apparently it is a college music class. Da students were sitting in a circle around da teacher explaining how dey transform into purple creatures with yellow horns en how dey, wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band.

    You could tell da teacher was nervous, until dey told her, ”We wouldn’t eat you ‘cos you’re too tough.”

    But den, dey all turned and looked at us singing, Eating purple people sure is fine!

    We have been running ever since boss!”

    The boss looks out as the bandleader comes out of the sky; he has one big horn and one big eye.

    The leader commenced to shakin’ and Mo shouts, “oo-wee, it looks like a purple-people eater to me!”

    The band circles the jammin’ leader,

    He was a blowin’ it out and really knockin’ them dead
    Playing rock ‘n roll music through the horn in his head!

    It was a one-eyed one-horned flying purple-people eater!

    The music stops, the band leader looks at the three purple mobsters staring out the window, “ Well, bless my soul rock ‘n roll flying’ purple-people eaters, Looks like Italian for lunch!”

    If you don’t know the animated song, its here. Really cute children song.

    1. Observer Tim

      Children’s song !?! I remember when it was mainstream… 🙂

      I wonder what the boys would have done with an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikini? Which, it strikes me now, would also fit the prompt…

      1. Augie

        ha,ha! I totally forgot about that song Tim! No kidding, it would work for the prompt also! Now its stuck in my head! itsy bitsy…teenie wenie…yelllow bikini…….. HA! Thanks for the laugh!

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      lol, “Why are you two stupids purple!”

      I started thinking about banana phone, honestly, and I have no idea why! That song fit perfectly well with the story, though. Nicely told, and always a pleasure to be visited by these two bumbling characters.

    3. Reaper

      You may have been challenged but you delivered. This may be my favorite Tony and Mo story yet. Loved the trip back to the song and now I have both this and the other mentioned warring for space in my head. I also loved, Why are you two stupids purple? Classic.

    4. agnesjack

      You brought me back, Augie! I remember that song when it was played on regular AM radio. This was a fun take on the prompt and I loved the dialogue.
      (I hope this doesn’t post twice, because the internet closed unexpectedly when I was trying to post.)

  29. Observer Tim


    I didn’t expect College to be like this. I’m seated in a circle on the floor in a classroom where the desks have all been pushed back to the wall. Sadie, our professor who is really only a Teaching Assistant, has told each of us to introduce ourselves and tell everyone something interesting we do as part of our daily routine. She begins.

    “Hi, I’m Sadie; I start my day by giving myself a sponge-wash with coffee.”

    “I’d like to see that,” says one of the guys.

    “For that, you go next. After him, we go around clockwise.”

    He smiles mischievously. “My name’s Roy and I end my day by sending a text to a random phone number.”

    Sadie asks, “Does anyone respond?”

    “Occasionally. I’ve made several friends that way.” He looks at the girl to his left.

    “I’m Quinn; I change my tattoo every morning.” She shows us the ornate smiley-face on the front of her left shoulder.

    “How do you do that?”

    “It’s a programmable tattoo; kind of like a surgically-implanted e-book reader.”

    “I’m Paul; I read a chapter of classic literature every morning. Right now it’s Wuthering Heights. Quinn, can I borrow your e-reader?”

    That gets a laugh, even from Quinn. And so it goes.

    “My name’s Olivia and I kiss and greet each of my stuffed animals by name every day.”

    “I’m Nate and I make origami swans when I’m nervous.” The little flock in front of him says everything.

    “I’m Mary and I make coffee creamer explosions in the vacant lot behind the dorm.”

    “My name is Lincoln; each night I sing a mantra to ward off monsters from outer space.”

    “Call me Kylie; each morning I write a short story based on a random word in the OED. Today’s was ‘blunderbuss.’”

    “I’m John. I plug myself in each night to keep my batteries topped up, even though I can technically go three days on a full charge.”

    Now it’s my turn.

    “Hi, my name is Iridia. Every day I like to dress up in purple and yellow tights and play human fly on the outside of the dorm tower.”

    Sadie raises an eyebrow. “Human fly? You crawl on the outside of the building?”

    “Yup. And if I see an open window I sneak in and write ‘I love you’ somewhere on the occupant’s body.”

    “Isn’t that very dangerous?”

    “No, they’re usually asleep.”

    Before she can grill me further, Henry steps in and announces proudly that every weeknight he practices for his weekend pole dancing job. Several girls take careful notes.

    We eventually end at the twenty-fifth student, Thomas, who sleeps in his closet hanging by his ankles.

    Sadie sums up by telling us to look for patterns, because nothing happens by chance. Our project for the semester is to figure out what course we’re in and write an essay justifying our answer.

    Sadie asks me to stay after class. She’s probably curious how somebody wrote ‘I love you’ on her left hand. During the class.

    1. lionetravail

      Love it: from the unique stories of the students, to their bizarrely ‘usual’ habits, to the brilliant closing of the last line.

      “Isn’t that dangerous?”
      “No, they’re usually asleep.”

      Hysterical in that low-key, subtle way. Really great story 🙂

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Excellent story, and it seems like there’s a lot more story to be had here. A lot more. One thing I don’t understand is how they could possibly be in a class and not know what it is since you choose your own classes in college, but if there’s any truth in even half the things the teacher is saying, then the world is out of control lol.

      I wonder, though, if they are at all real or if this happens to be a psych ward for the crazies to come together. Strange strange strange indeed.

      Thanks for sharing, Tim. I loved reading it, and wonder if you’ll post a continuation to give us a bit more about this strange world.

      1. Observer Tim

        You are correct, Jay, there is a deeper story going on here. Consider that no direction was given to the students, yet they sat in a circle in alphabetical order. And how easy would it be for the Registrar to sneak an extra course onto your schedule, especially if they were willing to lie to you?

        What I’m trying to do now is figure out how to provide more hints without simply giving the answer.

    3. Reaper

      Hmmm. Not only do I love it but I want more. My current take, if not the nut ward, is that this is something akin to Prof X’s school but for the company. It seems like that kind of lead in. A psychic division of spies. Some of the answers lead me to this if they are true, and the test of tell me what class and why. Probably not even close but this has me thinking for something that starts out seeming just so whimsical.

    4. Augie

      I walked my mutts through the woods today. (15 pound Australian Shepherd, 45 pound ‘dog pound mix’ and 148 pound Malamute.) They only go with me, Im too afraid of the unknown and protect them. Today I stopped after 45 minutes, and I realized they are all staring at me in their very known world. Great Story Tim….

    5. k.spicer

      I don’t know why you need to go any deeper than Sadie giving herself a sponge-wash with coffee. You could do a whole book on that alone!

      However,the way I figure it; since Sadie is only the teacher’s assistant then the actual teacher would have something to do with why Sadie is giving herself a sponge bath every morning…and what goes better with coffee than donuts? So it only stands to reason that the real teacher for this class is the Pillsbury Doughboy. That being said, one would think that the class itself would be a cooking class and that would mean that this is a Culinary School.

      The fact that there are no actual ovens in the class would indicate that they are baking with an easy-bake oven which is something that girls used while playing with Barbie dolls, and since Barbie and Ken had been so close to each other for so long and never actually had a romantic relationship with each other it stands to reason that Ken was gay.
      Since Ken was gay it’s likely that he hung out in gay clubs to meet other dolls who were gay. But all the kids kept trying to put Barbie and Ken together until Ken had to see a psychologist to work out his confusions over what role he should be playing.

      Put that together with the fact that everyone in class was in alphabetical order, that leads me to conclude that this is a very orderly Culinary Psychology class.

      Either that or Sadie just likes to smear coffee all over herself in the mornings. Either way I liked the story OT.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I got it completely Tim, Sadie is a nympho and is ready to take on anybody she chooses. The coffee sponge bath laid it out for me. Of course the class is psychology 2A, ‘Adventures in Imagination’, also taught at The University Of Miami.

        1. Observer Tim

          No worries, k.spicer. I’ve been there, except that my strange zone hits around 10 or 11 p.m. Anyway, the commentary is priceless; it reminds me of the logic from the old Batman TV series. (It happened at sea – ‘C’ for Catwoman!)

  30. jhowe

    As the owner of The Bawdy Bramble; Vegetarian Grill and Brew Pub, I am mostly immune to the excitement and commotion of operating a restaurant in the heart of Boston’s entertainment district. If you enjoy long hours, working nights, weekends and holidays, high turnover from employees, patrons that love you until the next big thing comes along and a constant struggle with all things monetary, then owning a restaurant is for you. It does have its moments though, like the time Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish came in after a Celtics game and closed the place down; paying a healthy nineteen hundred dollar tab plus tip on their way out. Then there was the time a drunk seventeen year old girl with fake ID backed her car over the sidewalk and through the plate glass window, pinning the maître d against the service desk, which was kind of poetic in a way since he was the one who allowed her to drink despite the blatant non-resemblance on her driver’s license photo. A few stiches though, and he was back on the job, until six months later when Luxurious Crab offered him more money and he bolted.

    I often look back to my college days, well over twenty years ago, when the idea struck me. It was the first day of the fall semester of my sophomore year. I had put the liberal in art while trying to declare a major the year before. Philosophy sounded interesting and it proved to be just so if not a tad unusual. Ms. Fox, and the name suited her nicely, had us all sit in a circle and introduce ourselves. There was some enthusiasm and some grumbling but mostly indifference to the task. I was so enthralled with Ms. Fox (I later found out her name was Tina and she was single) that I joined the enthusiastic minority when my turn came.

    “My name is Anthony and I sometimes fantasize about seeing my name in yellow and purple lights.”

    “Is that so?” said Ms. Fox. “Do you see yourself as an actor or maybe a sports personality?”

    “No, nothing like that.” I felt my face flush as she smiled. “I was thinking of a business of some kind.”

    “Yet here you are taking a philosophy class.”

    “Yeah, well, I’m still not sure.”

    “Ok, let’s move on now. Anthony, please see me after class.”

    The rest of the time flew by without me hearing a thing. Finally Ms. Fox ushered the last student out the door and turned to me. “Anthony, what type of business do you dream of with yellow and purple lights?”

    “Uh, I don’t know. I like to cook, so maybe a restaurant or something.”

    “That’s good. What kind of restaurant do you think Boston needs?”

    “Just the normal kind I guess.”

    “No Anthony. You’ve got to be different. You’ve got to have a niche.”

    “A niche?”

    “Yes Anthony. There are hundreds of restaurants in Boston. You have to stand out.”

    “Well,” I said. “What kind of food do you like?”

    “I’m a vegetarian actually.”

    “Are there any good vegetarian restaurants that you like?”

    “There’s a few, but they’re kind of lame. I like unique dishes, not just glorified veggie burgers. And I love Samuel Adams on tap. And I hate it when people smoke while I’m eating.”

    “That’s it then,” I said. “A vegetarian restaurant with good draft beer and no smoking. Do they have any of those in Boston?” I was getting revved up now.

    “Not that I know of. We should check it out.”

    And that’s how it started; and now, in 2014 it’s Anthony and Tina Bramble, proud owners of The Bawdy Bramble, one of Boston’s premier vegetarian eating and drinking establishments. But here’s a little secret Tina doesn’t know about: I often sneak over to Luxurious Crab when I want real food.

    1. lionetravail

      This is SUCH a perfect, ‘human’ tale, Jhowe. It’s wonderfully written, nothing extraneous to detract, and it’s so, so personable and compelling. Great job.

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      Good story, jhowe. Down to earth, and as Lionetravail said, it’s human. I walked through that world expecting something to happen, but it was nothing more than a tale told by one person to another over coffee, and that’s all right. It works. Nicely done.

    3. k.spicer

      Good story jhowe, I have in-laws in Boston, some work on the police force. Maybe they would like to eat at the Bawdy Bramble. But I think you’d be more likely to see them at the Luxurious Crab. Nice story.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        You know I love these kind of stories, jhowe, up my comfort zone. The non-pretentious style of writing you used in your story was perfect and like another comment, someone telling a story to a friend over lunch. The last line is a human interest zinger. .

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful love story, jhowe, condensed into a tidy little package. The voices are perfect and I especially like the dialogue sequence. The “happily ever after” hit dead center of the soft spot in my heart.

    5. thetelleroftales

      Last line was quite the disclaimer. I would, too, if I were him. I mean, I like vegetables, but there’s something about having them all the time, solely, that doesn’t quite appeal to me. The names were fun and descriptive, as was the writing, and the characters were well done and believable. Neat take.

  31. snuzcook


    My students complied with my instructions and shoved the desks aside to sit in a circle on the floor. There were giggles, groans, rolled eyes as these young adults took their places in an arrangement they may not have experienced since their early years of elementary school. I wanted them to be uncomfortable, to reduce them to the perspective of children, and then quickly replace the discomfort with the intimacy and security of a closed circle. It was crucial in this writing class that everyone begin to see and feel at a level below the veneer of college freshman posturing.

    The verbal ‘fill in the blank’ I suggested for their self-introductions proved to be less forthcoming than I had hoped. “My name is ___ and every day I like to _____.

    Some were reticent to share anything more than a boring morning routine in a few words. Others tried to be creative and funny, wanting to impress their peers, or me. I was a little disappointed. I realized I had expected revelations more than introductions. I was only half listening when it came to the fat girl.

    She was the obligatory misfit. She was obese, and like so many like her, she attempted to camouflage her shape in layers of fabric. She wore an long, teal-colored crepe skirt over butter yellow socks and sandals, a pink turtle neck and a flowered hoody zipped halfway up. Her dark blond hair was long and shapeless, pulled behind her ears by a headband and left to find its own way down her back. Her classmates had already dismissed her. She hesitated when it was her turn. I thought it was shyness; I was wrong.

    She waited just long enough to have her audience’s attention. In a clear but soft voice she said, her eyes on the void in the center of the circle.

    “My name is Sylvia. Syl. Every day I recreate myself in circles of purple and yellow.” She stopped.

    Everyone waited. I smiled. This was interesting.

    “Tell us more.”

    She pulled up her long skirt to show her pudgy thigh. There was something about the way she exposed herself that quelled the snickers born among her classmates of unresolved adolescent fears.

    The top of her thigh was decorated with small, round bruises, most of them fading to shades of purple and yellow, some more vividly colored as fresh insults.

    She herself gazed at the bruises, like a bed of miniature pansies, coloring her flesh. Her expression was not self-pity or even irritation, but adoring wonder. Then she flicked the skirt back again. The show was over.

    “Every day I decide to inject myself so I can function another day. Every morning I think, maybe not today. Maybe I will just let it go and let my body chemicals battle and spin out of control. I did that once. I ended up in the hospital. My parents were devastated.

    “So every morning I create another bruise, play with my blood sugar and save my parents from worrying. Personally, I don’t care. But for now, I let their caring be enough.”

    And in the silent exhale that followed, we all knew it. In the seated circle a transformation had begun. Old emotional bruises had been touched for each person sitting there, and we all began that morning, that term, in shades of purple and yellow.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      You speak in a beauty far beyond what most of us try to accomplish. This was so elegant in prose ans so totally unexpected and powerful, I felt ashamed of ever feeling sorry for myself. I’ve for many years known that my thoughts about myself should have turned to other’s needs. My grandmother instilled the creed in me. But as usual for me and I supose many others, our priorities in life are interrupted by personal needs and wishes.

      You brought me back to my grandmother’s lap. Thank you.

    2. Critique

      An engaging beautifully written scene snuzcook. I had a picture of the circle of students in my mind, the fat girl, and thought the conclusion was very satisfactory.

    3. lionetravail

      Aw, Snuzcook, what a completely humanistic story, wonderfully written. The teacher’s reactions to the revelations made her so compelling; the kind of teacher who was involved with more than grades and showing up, who was involved with helping us to grow (and grow up). She reminds me of my 10th/11th grade English teacher, who encouraged me to find my own voice (no matter what she thought), who read sci fi/fantasty books I suggested which might fulfill certain lesson plans she had, and who made me a better person and better writer back a hundred or so years ago when i was young.

      Really, just beautiful, from the obese girl’s revelation which transformed everyone (as it should have), to the teacher’s embracing of the revelation and the growth opportunity it provided. Awesome.

    4. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      What a sad story about hollowly living a life you don’t care about. That idea right there goes beyond any of the words you laid before us, one that tells us that among groups of people there are all kinds, even the ones that only exist because they believe someone else wants them to, not because of their own desire to continue.

    5. Reaper

      My mind went immediately to abuse and then you hooked to something even more powerful. An empowering and hope filled story. You left me breathless. Beyond what has been said I loved the flawed voice of the teacher. The use of the fat girl, followed instantly by the description of obesity showed a hiccup in her thinking track. Where she did seem like the helpful and inspiring type you showed that even she judged on appearances she just caught it and tried to correct quickly.

    6. Observer Tim

      This is powerful, snuz. Low self-esteem plus diabetes is a nasty combination. It’s nice to see the story of someone who can express it in such a straightforward and graphic manner. I knew a girl who deals with it by the more common combination of bluster and exaggerated sense of privacy, and a guy who does so by writing strange stories. 😉

      I think this girl would be in heaven if she were able to get an automated insulin pump.

    7. agnesjack

      A full and satisfying story, snuzcook. You’ve depicted the power of honest vulnerability so well. Your MC opens a door and says, “Look,” and they all recognize what’s on the other side.

  32. Pete

    Mack staggered into freshman orientation griping to anyone who would listen about the lack of paper towels in the bathroom. His complaints fell on deaf ears, faces blank under the glow of cell phones and tablets. He fell into a seat in the second row, beside a pimple faced boy who rolled his eyes and slid to the end of the desk.

    When Professor Pendleton strode in, a coffee in one hand, her deep brown curls and a business suit clinging to her slender yet athletic figure. Mack let out a low whistle.

    “Welcome to Harrison College,” she announced, looking the group over.

    “Class, I’d like you to all come down to the front. I’d like us to get to know each other.”

    They squeezed in tight. Only Mack remained in his seated, huffing and shaking his head when the professor asked him to join in. He ambled down the steps, standing and grumbling over the class like a cranky old mallard.

    “Okay, Candice, let’s start with you,” Professor Pendleton said,gesturing towards the perky blonde. Candice launched into her greeting, her background, and how she spent her weekends at the humane society, giving back to all of those cute little puppies and kittens. Mack squawked

    Jake was next, with his lazy posture and arrogance. Mack openly glared at him as shrugged and grunted through a day of lacrosse practice. Mack shook his head.

    “Uh, Mack?”

    “Yeah,” he said in a way that one would answer a foreman or a crew chief. He rubbed his splotchy beard, his fingernails held pockets of dirt and grit.

    “What about you. What do you do?”

    “What do I do?” he said mockingly. “What is this Kindergarten class?

    “Please, uh Mack. Let’s keep things friendly,” the professor said evenly.

    “Friendly. Okay, wel lI haven’t had the fuzzy life that all these little snowflakes have had,” Mack said before clearing his throat–which sounded remarkably like a suction hose at the dentist office. “And secondly,” he said, looking to spit, “those mutts down at the pound? Yeah, try going door to door selling magazines and getting bit in the ass by a Rot Weiller named Fluffy.”

    Candice crossed her arms, cringing as Mack picked up the trash can and let a dollop of his hackings hit with a thud. Then he wiped his mouth. “So every day I wake up, curse God, my ex-wife, and Obama, in that order. Then I put on my purple and yellow Price Slasher Troll costume and hit 234 Business so people can throw drinks and trash at me. All for eight bucks an hour.”

    Muffled laughter fell over the room. Mack snarled. “Sure, laugh it up,” he said, stomping towards his desk and grabbing his one composition book and number two pencil. “I don’t need this , bunch of know it alls, sitting around talking, just like that fast talking social worker who got me in here. You can have your college, your book smarts, and Miss Fancy Pants here,” he said towards the Professor. “Kiss my ass.”

    Candice flinched again as Mack kicked the trash canto the wall and then hobbled out the door, leaving the students looking at the proffessor with wide eyes and careful grins. Out in the hallway Mack heard the professor restoring order. “And that is why you go to college. If you’ll excuse me I’ll be right back.”

    She found him near the vending machines and cut deliberate steps towards him, “Fluffy? Well that was a new twist,” she said, unable to suppress her grin.

    Mack, or, Professor Malcom Pendleton, head of the MFA Theater program, shrugged humbly. “Thought it was time to change it up. Did you see that girl’s face?”

    “You’re awful,” Professor Pendleton said, leaning in for a quick kiss. “I’ll see you tonight.”

    “Can’t wait honey,” Malcom said, hobbling off, still in character.

    “Oh and Mack?” she called. “Lose the beard.”

    1. lionetravail

      Very clever, Pete! I, too, liked the twist- it was easy to fall into the ‘what you see’ trap, and I didn’t know where it was going to go, so the ending was a great surprise.

      Very entertaining!

    2. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

      I have to say, I expected the twist, but it was a good story either way. I actually expected there to be different moral laced within the story, one in which it was a test to help them to understand something about human nature… really and facet dripping from that idea.

      That said, it’s still a good story. One question, though… how did the professor know their names already at freshman orientation? Well done, you opened a line of story that has a lot of potential to be expanded!

      Thanks for sharing, Pete!

    3. Reaper

      I like the twist. I felt something off with the character. His actions made me want to hate him but some of his actions and such made me sympathetic to him. So the reveal that there really was something more was wonderful. I was also expecting a different moral but was not disappointed in the one that showed through.

    4. k.spicer

      Good story Pete. I thought it was a simple case of anger over the economic down turn. I’m living through that as we write these words so I could have related to the MC and his feelings if that were the case. But since he was only lying to the kids I think he sucks! That being said you wrote a nice story…after all you got me to say the man sucks. That means you succeeded at producing a character that evoked emotion. Well done!

    5. taymace

      One of my teachers actually did something along these lines once. Even so, I didn’t expect the twist in the writing. I wondered where you were going with this and thought the direction you chose was charming. What I respect most is that it was unexpected yet absolutely realistic.

  33. onaway

    Everyday I sleep. Everyday I float up the road. Face up I drift over the grey gravel and tan sand and I slowly sail, eyes wide open and soundly asleep. I stare at the thin white clouds in the sunny sky or look to my left and my right into the shady woods of the tall, tall evergreens or across the rolling wild fields at the blue crystal lake in the distance. I stretch my legs out wide and loose and hang my arms down until the tips of my fingers gently glide across the ground. I run my fingers through the purple and yellow wildflowers lining the meadow on the sides of the road. This upsets the bees. I run my fingers through the blades of tall wild grasses and see the grasshoppers launch away to another. I feel the warm sun on my neck and under my chin and across the tops of my arms. And just as the sun slips down into the woods, I worry about where I am going and how long I have been here. The light fades and the sky changes to purple and red and I wake up in my bed, and I want to go back.

    1. snuzcook

      Beautifully written, onaway! You drew me into the poetic descriptions with few but well chosen words. You created a dream and I floated with it, right through to the ‘want to go back.’ Very nice.

  34. k.spicer


    If nothing else my first day of college was educational; not so much for me, but for the uninitiated and unbelieving. It wasn’t like I didn’t stand out already. The minute I walked into the classroom everyone was staring at me. Several people asked if I was Goth because I wore black, even though I wore a large silver pentagram around my neck. I simply smiled at them and nodded; I figured I’d let them think what they wanted…they always do anyway. The way they stared at me you’d think they’d never seen a Warlock before.

    Mrs. Snooty seemed nice enough and didn’t look at all like what I pictured a psychology professor to look like. I thought by sitting in the back and minding my own business I could get through this class without drawing undue attention to myself, but when Professor Snooty had us all sit around in a circle and tell everybody about our personal lives I knew there was going to be trouble.

    When the wimpy guy on my left had finished speaking about his boring summer job it was my turn to share with the class. Once the pleasantries were out of the way Mrs. Snooty looked at me as someone would look at a puppy that had just pooped on the carpet. “So tell us Samuel, why are you screaming out this way for attention?”

    I was wrong; Mrs. Snooty was exactly the type of person I envisioned teaching a psychology class. Her flippant attitude and snide questions were the ones usually spent on the Christian kids who they supposed would remain silent and take their condescending bull crap…but I was no Christian.

    “Well Mrs. Snooty,” I said looking her in the eye. “Unlike people like yourself, who have to wear low-cut tops with gaudy-looking jewelry to draw attention to your wrinkled and overly exposed breasts, I wear black to fade into the background and I would rather not discuss my life with fake and disingenuous people.”

    “Well,” She said. “If you have something to hide I certainly wouldn’t want to embarrass you by asking you to share with us.”

    “I’ve got nothing to hide and I’m not embarrassed about who I am.”

    “Then why don’t you share with us?” She said. “Why not explain to us why you wear that pentagram around your neck? Is it your version of a Christian cross; some sort of religious crutch that helps you to cope with life?”

    I knew the routine; I had seen them do this same thing to other kids who held religious beliefs. “So you think that crosses and pentagrams are crutches?” I looked around at the others who sat wide-eyed waiting to see what would transpire. When I stood to my feet all eyes were on me and when I had retrieved a piece of chalk from the blackboard everyone was in stunned silence.

    I drew a pentagram on the floor large enough to encircle the entire group of students. I then told everyone to close their eyes and concentrate on the enter circle. I then sat in the center and recited the ancient chants evoking the spirits of the underworld.

    At first Mrs. Snooty seemed amused at the prospect of me making a fool of myself but within minutes everything changed. A cold damp breeze began to blow and the door to the classroom slammed shut. Mrs. Snooty jumped and gave a slight whine as she looked around the room. A dark shadow appeared just outside the pentagram and began swirling around the room and quickly zeroed in on the Professor who began screaming and throwing her hands around as if swatting at a swarm of bees.

    Falling to her knees she began screaming and tearing at her breast as if trying to dislodge something creeping on her skin and as the wind inside the room began to increase one of the other students stood to their feet and screamed at the top of his lungs, “In the name of Jesus…I rebuke you Satan!” The wind stopped and the room grew silent.
    “I was wondering when you would speak up.” I said to the young man standing before me. “I was beginning to think I was wrong about you.”

    He stood there staring at me as if he wanted to jump me and beat me to a pulp. “Okay,” I said. “So I got a little carried away; but you have to admit, she deserved it.”

    When I looked around at Mrs. Snooty she was kneeling in a puddle of her own urine and whimpering. I never had any more trouble in that class and as far as I know everyone in the class received an “A”. Even though Mrs. Snooty couldn’t explain what happened that day she never questioned anyone’s religion after that. I’d say that’s progress.

    1. snuzcook

      I couldn’t resist loving your MC, k.spicer. What a wonderful scenario of having power in a situation where people often feel so vulnerable. Loved the interaction between Samuel and the student who de-spelled the demon. Poor Mrs. Snooty–let that be a lesson to self-righteous professors!

    2. lionetravail

      That was a fun and satisfying take on the prompt, K. Spicer! Mrs. Snooty might have to get a name change if she actually grew up at all.

      I liked the tension-breaker of the religious christian kid dispelling the swirling evil.

      It just begs more story to explain why/how Satan came into it for a warlock who really does not strike me as any shade of ‘evil’. I’d almost like the tension between the christian kid and the MC to be based on a more secular version of magic, like the ‘suffer not a practitioner of magic to live’, and leave Satan (as the ‘father of lies and all evil’) out of the tale, but this could be the start of a great urban fantasy short story or novel. Cool!

    3. Reaper

      I liked this. I was back and forth on your MC but ended up liking him. Practitioners of “left hand paths” of which santanism is the darkest and farthest left are often portrayed as completely evil but I didn’t get that here. This was a strange middle of the road between goat sacrificing bring the world to and end, and calling it devil worship but really just rebelling as a teenager. It really had a feel of an older religion or gnosticism more than what we traditionally think of. I personally applaud you for the approach and blurring the lines. I can agree with Lionetravail on going a different route. If you want a connection to both Satan and the character you could go with casting out Samael instead. All just random thoughts because I really liked this and you made me get past the labels which I think was part of your point.

    4. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating take, k.spicer. I love the messages (respect not dismissal, faith has power), and the pre-Renaissance European form in which they were presented was very entertaining. I was kind of hoping for more pryotechnics from the Christian kid, but your presentation more accurately reflects the mythos.

  35. Reaper

    Circus U

    My girlfriend and I have a deal. When I meet people she has any association with they are not informed of our relationship up front. It works better that way. It makes living the dirty secrets of my life less complicated. In return I follow her advice in the other parts of my life without question.

    Sometimes I hate the deal.

    Like when I ended up in Women’s Studies. First year, first day, first damn class. Stupid deal.

    I knew professor Kirst was insane when I walked into the class. In her three tone muumuu, hipster glasses, and wild hair she looked ready for Woodstock. Her voice was nasally and repellent. As if all of that weren’t bra burning hippie enough, she wore a homemade perfume composed of equal parts patchouli, red wine, and body odor. It was going to be a long semester.

    So she sat us down in a “drum circle” and presented her getting to know you exercise. The class was small enough. I guess I’m not the only one that thought the subject was outdated and the name not at all politically correct. Anyway, she got us set up like a kindergarten class and introduced her ice breaking exercise. At least that part would prepare me for corporate America. She told us her script and where to fill in. I was on her left and it never got past me.

    “Wait a minute, wait one minute.” Kirst whined in her migraine inducing tone. I already hated her.

    “Yes professor?”

    “Okay… your name is Jasper.”

    “Yes professor.”

    “You do this in a purple clown outfit and a yellow wig?”

    “Correct professor.”

    The rest of the students still looked stunned at my revelation. They were not reacting. This conversation was just between us. Well, all but one of the students were still, silent, and covered in looks of horror but we’ll get to the last one later. The professor continued.

    “And, every day you like to go to the park and kidnap a small child?” She was suppressing a smile, assuming I was joking.

    “Correct professor.”

    “Then what do you do?”

    “I find out what they enjoy and give them the best day of their young lives.”

    “Then you return them home?”

    “Oh, no professor.”

    “Then you…”

    “Kill them professor.”

    “Why would you do that?” She seemed like she was starting to believe.

    “Well, I anesthetize them so they feel no pain. Then I slit their throats and dispose of the bodies. I do it so they die with a happy memory and don’t have to grow up in this screwed up world. It’s better for everyone.”

    “You’re sick.” She was still trying to laugh it off.

    She went for her phone then. I tackled her. The other students made a run for the door. The herd was stopped by a loud click as my girlfriend, who had moved into position, locked everyone in.

    It was going to be a long semester.

    Sometimes I love the deal.

    Okay, I found the dark place again. All it took was getting a terrible temp job for eight weeks that is graveyard and doesn’t pay nearly enough. If I get less active in responses going forward that is why. Hopefully book sales will pick up so I don’t ever have to take a job like this again.

    1. k.spicer

      Reaper, this was so good I don’t know what to say. I was not expecting this outcome at all (how could I?) The description was excellent, the reveal was perfect and even after you revealed you kept us wondering if it were so all the way to the end. Well done! I certainly hope you can sell every book you print.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you k.spicer. Your words are wonderful. Though I think you may have Chinese cursed me, like may you live in interesting times. I only say that because I went the print on demand option. 🙂

    2. jhowe

      Damn Reaper, I don’t claim to know a lot about writing but I know when I’ve read something extraordinary. I see elements of Old Odd Ends in here, but completely different and unique. I highly recommend Old Odd Ends by the way. I guarantee nobody has ever read anything like it. You can purchase the book by clicking on Reaper’s name. You won’t be sorry.

      1. Reaper

        Okay. I will come back and comment on the others when I reach the top up there. However I had to respond to this. Thank you for the comment on the story, it means a lot and I think you are just too humble about what you know.

        How far in are you jhowe? Because I am panhandling for reviews and have to say when/if you have finished it I am wondering what I have to do to get you to post that as a customer review. With an appropriate number of stars for your experience. I mean I would put five but I might just be a little biased. 😉

        1. jhowe

          I’m only 49% into it. Reading it on Kindle so I only read at night with the lights out, which is sometimes a mistake considering the content. I’m really enjoying it. I’ll give a review. I’ll try to read a little extra this weekend.

    3. snuzcook

      You always amaze me with how entertaining and ironically funny you turn the dark side. I don’t want to chuckle, but, dang, you do it so well. That said, I hope you get work that allows you to write whatever and whenever you want. Well done!

      1. Reaper

        Thank you snuzcook. Right now I am taking this to have any money coming in. I appreciate the good wishes. I also very much appreciate the comment. I’m glad the black humor came through here.

    4. lionetravail


      This is such an easy to picture scene, with the followup scene being Jasper and his girlfriend sitting in the cafeteria at lunch, gnawing the meat off bones… heh.

      And I love how the MC recognizes the professor, Kirst, as ‘Insane’… one could argue it takes one to know one 🙂 Nice job Reaper, and welcome back to the dark side!

      1. Reaper

        Thank you lioneravail, it is good to be home. 🙂 That is a rather fitting next scene since I do believe the two of them are headed for a steel jacketed shower after that first class.

        I agree on the takes one to know one. I was personally chuckling at the serial killer calling the hippie crazy.

    5. Amyithist

      Wooo. You are on point with this one, Reaper. How deliciously creepy! The characters are dripping with malice for this world and you painted their disdain so perfectly… I have goosebumps all over.

      While I’m glad that you’ve found something to help with money, I hope you don’t have to work much longer. I hope your book takes off and you can tell “The Man” to go to hell. LOL Thanks for a great take!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Reaper, I’m glad I got to read this in broad daylight. I feel the same as I did at thirteen seeing ‘The Thing.’ It scared the poo out of me and I don’t have much poo left at my age. The writing was brilliant even if it wasn’t in my comfort zone.

        Writing the way you do dark, it’s my guess you are a mild-mannered person who doesn’t want to hurt anyones feelings in real life. I nailed you, didn’t I?

        1. Reaper

          Kerry, I am glad you did too. I seem to have a way of terrifying your morning or setting you up for nightmares. It is nice to have good timing for once. 🙂 Thank you for that comparison, hmmmm. Now I might have a business idea. Reaper’s verbal laxatives, approved by “distinguished gentlemen” everywhere. Million dollar idea?

          Hmmm. I wouldn’t say mild mannered. I am quiet because I grew up in a loud house. I don’t usually want to hurt anyone’s feelings but also think we are too concerned with politeness over truth these days. I usually regret hurting someone’s feelings after the fact but if my passion is up I don’t think about it when I’m arguing. I have this weird conflict. I think we are so politically correct that it borders on suppression of free speech and makes me think we are approaching the age of thought crime. I think that makes us have a little too much concern over what people we don’t know think of us and get our feelings hurt a little too easily. The other side of that is I don’t see any reason not to be kind and gentle. It is possible to be honest and blunt without being an asshole. So I don’t know about mild mannered as that depends on your definition. However yes, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings unless they make me believe they deserve to have them hurt. Someone has to be a jerk for that to happen. I just find it harder and harder every day to avoid doing so and keep speaking my mind.

      2. Reaper

        Thank you Amyithist! You know it is a point of pride when I give you goosebumps. You just made my day.

        Thank you for that. I want to say something about writing being work, but as with any job you love it doesn’t seem like it. So thank you for the support and… Damn the man! Save the Empire!

        1. Dennis

          I don’t know Reaper, I’ve never met you but I fee like you have lots of heart. It feel like it just pangs you with all of the pettiness there is in the world which I totally get. I always had a had time with expressing anger so don’t have the stick it to em style in my writing. I think I’m like Luke Skywalker trying to find the good in all and not sure if that is a bit futile. And so the journey continues.

          1. Reaper

            Thanks Dennis. It was definitely a joke. My friends tell me I have not heart and no soul. I don’t know if it’s the ginger thing or just that I will say some weird stuff. I get away with saying things to my friends that they laugh about but would be upset if anyone else said it. Then a few minutes later I’m called heartless. However yes, you have to have a heart to write, passion drives us.

    6. Dennis

      Sorry to hear that the impetus of the story was the temp job, but sometimes we have to take the muse when it shows up. First I like the title. I think there are many a campus that could earn that title. I love the matter of factness of the MC and that the class had been reduced to a herd. Definitely entertaining in all of it’s evilness.:)

      BTW, I’m enjoying your book so far. I’m not a fast reader and don’t always get lots of time to read but I’m trying to push so I can post a review for you. If I had the time I could definitely read for hours as the story has got me hooked now. Good luck with the sales.

      1. Reaper

        Oh the job is more a driving force behind me begging for sales on social media. 🙂 The story just kind of came. I like writing comments and reading on here and worry it will have to drop off some for the next eight weeks. Hoping it won’t but I wanted to say I’m not sure how active I’ll be. Mostly I say it for me so I don’t feel guilty. Silly huh?

        I’m glad you’re enjoying it and look forward to your review! That is such a nice thing to hear. Keeping my fingers crossed.

    7. agnesjack

      Dark, yes, but also ironic and humorous. The description of the perfume made me laugh out loud (patchouli oil all by itself makes me gag). Then you move on to the story of the children, which is sweet AND horrifying. Amazing, Reaper. Really. The ending did seem like we needed the next chapter, but that just made it more intriguing.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you agnesjack. I have the same reaction to patchouli. I know there are exceptions but I have found it is usually enjoyed most by those covering up the odor of pot. You have this way of seeing right into the heart of what I was feeling. That story was horrifying to me because it was sweet but twisted by terrible darkness. Thank you for all of that. I would offer a next chapter but I am not sure on the time. Maybe when I get back early tomorrow morning, though I have so many projects I’m trying to keep up with right now. For you I will try.

        I have missed your comments almost as much as your stories.

  36. Amyithist

    I didn’t know exactly what to expect my first day of college; but sitting in a circle Indian style, holding hands and running through introductions like we were five years old wasn’t it. My special arts professor was a tall, gangly spectacle of a man; with weathered skin that looked as though he’d been left to wither beneath the sun and stark white hair that frayed out about his face. His eyes drooped heavily and he smelled of cannabis and sandalwood.
    “Okay class,” he droned, “let’s all sit together and learn more about each other.”
    The introductions were varied; Kenya from Boston liked to read palms and play around with potions that she created, Derek from Albany liked to read from Liber AL vel Legis and attempt to conjure spirits, and Regina liked to experiment with voo-doo dolls.
    My turn. I swallowed as I thought about what I could say. These witches and Brujas were serious. “Well, my name is Paige and I like to bask in purple and yellow auras all day,” I said, smiling slightly.
    Dr. Crowley arched his bushy brow. “Explain yourself,” he said lowly.
    I took a deep breath. My stomach clenched. These people were not to be handled lightly. Their passions for their cause were unmeasurable. “Auras are like windows,” I replied. I studied Derek for a moment. He shifted slightly, clearly uncomfortable at my prying. “For example, Derek here has a blue aura. I know that he’s calm. Peaceful. And completely full of shit when he says he fools around with the Liber AL vel Legis.”
    Derek’s face flushed and he frowned. “Be careful, Miss Paige,” Dr. Crowley smirked. “That statement could be misconstrued as a challenge.”
    I nodded. My eyes flitted to the floor. “Or Kenya over there. Her aura is as pink as a virgin’s nipples. To suggest that she is powerful is comical at best.”
    Crowley’s face lit with amusement. I continued. “And there’s Regina. Her aura is yellow. So I’d take it that she’d be the coward of the group.” I smiled and rose from the circle. My body was lit with electricity. I raised my hands. The lights in the room flickered and dimmed. Crowley’s face glimmered with excitement. He knew.
    “You’ve waited for me,” I said. My voice was low and lilting. “You’ve waited nearly 150 years. And this…” I looked around the group, my sense of disgust lighting me with putrid disdain, “this is what you come up with?”
    Crowley lowered his head. His aura was as black as night. He was sheer evil. His works were nearly legendary but he hadn’t been boding very well in this digitally enhanced age. These disgusting excuses for human beings. They had no idea what life was about. My feet left the ground as I rose above the group. Audible gasps filtered through the air.
    Crowley’s eyes filled with tears. “Lillith,” he sobbed. “Is it really you?”
    I arched my brow, a bemused smile crossing over my face. “You tell me.” And before any of them could realize what was going to happen, I spread my arms…and took their pathetic little lives.

    1. k.spicer

      Okay Amyithist, The only thing missing here is Beatles music playing in the background (Dr. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). Resurrecting Crowley was brilliant. I think we were thinking along the same lines on this one! Well done.

    2. lionetravail

      Amyithist! You naughty, naughty, wonderful writer! Nice job, especially the last line.

      I loved Lilith’s slow, measured, confident reveal. And, of course, incorporating Aleister Crowley into the story was just genius 🙂

      1. Amyithist

        Thank you lionetravail! I didn’t realize Crowley was such a popular guy! LOL Creepy, yes. Ahead of his time, perhaps. But popular? Nah! Thank you so much for reading my prompt. It’s appreciated! 🙂

    3. Reaper

      Okay, using Crowley was brilliant and adding Lilith was even better with him in there. So vile and wicked and wonderfully dark with that ending. The only thing missing here is a student with a purple aura because it would have explained the other half of why she liked to bask in them.

      1. Amyithist

        Thank you Reaper! A purple aura indicates magic tendencies… I didn’t want to include a purple aura because I felt it would take away from the true disgust Lillith felt with Crowley’s haul of souls. As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read my prompt!

    4. Observer Tim

      I like this take, Amythist. This venture into the Golden Dawn mythos is nicely done and very atmospheric. You’ve painted the style incredibly well.

      You’d be surprised how many people know about Crowley. Personally, I’m not one of his fans. I find his work too derivative and reactive, and his “evil” lifestyle so overdone that he should have been a rock star. My personal preference was for Eliphas Levi’s more scholarly approach (but then, I can be a bit of a party-pooper in mysticism).

  37. cosivantutte

    First Day

    “Hi! My name is Tabatha and I like to grow strawberries and miniature lemon trees.”

    “My name is Patrick. I don’t like to do anything.”

    “My name is Roxanne, but you can call me Roxie. I paint kittens wrecking mayhem on Miami.”

    The other students were a blur of uninteresting blather connected to uninteresting names. And then it was my turn. I didn’t understand why we had to do this. It was stupid and lame and it made me feel like I was at a drinkers anonymous meeting.

    Everyone stared at me, waiting anxiously for my contribution. Roxie took to tying the ends of her red hair into knots.

    I sighed. “My name is Jo-Jo Finnechee. Every day I like to—No.” I stood.

    Professor Marie Unimellow looked very concerned. She rose to her feet. “Are you all right?”

    “No. No, no, no, and big capital letters NO! I paid this college big money so I could learn all about Chinese samurai.”

    “Samurai were Japanese.”

    “See? That’s the sort of thing I want to learn. I don’t want to sit around in kiddie circles, exchanging names and favorite colors. I did that junk when I was in kindergarten. This is college for cryin’ out loud!”

    My words stressed Roxie out so much she tried to knot her bangs.

    Tabatha stood and got into my personal space. “I don’t like what you’re saying.”

    “Boo-hoo. Cry my brook into a flood.”

    She slapped me.

    The other students chorused, “Oooooo!”

    “Everyone else did their introductions.” Tabatha grabbed my polo shirt’s collar. “You’re gonna do yours too.”

    “Or what? You gonna pound me?”

    She grinned. It was like a jack-o-lantern grin. Scared me to heck and back.

    “Okay! Okay! I’ll do it!”

    She released me and settled back on the floor.

    “I’ll do it, but I’ll do it on my feet.” I plastered on a fake smile. I couldn’t see it, of course, but I could just feel the insincerity. “Hi, my name is Jo-Jo Finnechee. Every day, I like to dig holes in purple and yellow

    Professor Unimellow steepled her hands. “Explain yourself.”

    I shrugged. “Maybe I was a dog in another lifetime. I get up early every day and patrol the neighborhood with my trusty Stanley stainless steel shovel. If I find a yard with purple and yellow flowers, I get to work digging nice round holes in it. I toss dirt and flowers left and right, to and fro, hither, tither and yon. It’s hard work, but it satisfies me for reasons I just don’t get.”

    Tabatha got up again. “So, you’ve been digging up my hydrangeas.” She punched me in the face.

    “Wait.” Patrick stood. “I thought a dog did that to my tulip bed.”

    “And I thought rabbits were nesting in my pansies.” said Roxie.

    The other students rose to their feet, muttering about their assorted flowers. I just couldn’t believe it. There is such a thing as coincidence and then there’s just plain contrivance. How could I have dug up all of these people’s flowers and wound up in the same class as them?

    Professor Unimellow unsteepled her hands and stood as well. I backed up. I didn’t like the look on her face. “My rare hermitage daisies.” She cracked her knuckles. “Prepare to die!”

    “Nope.” I ran out of the classroom as fast as I could. Darn it all! I just wanted to learn about samurais.

    1. Reaper

      This is amazing. It is well written and funny in a way that I think of as a voice for a slightly younger audience. Yet I would read it again and again. I could see parents reading this one to their kids every night, if they were okay with the fighting bit. Just wanted to learn about Samurais is priceless.

      1. cosivantutte

        Thanks Reaper, Critique, and k.spicer! I’m glad you guys enjoyed it.

        I love the idea of parents reading this to their kids as a bedtime story. Just imagining it makes me happy 😀

        And k.spicer, if it’s any consolation, I think I have a weird sense of humor too. I don’t know if it’s warped, but it certainly is a weird one.

    2. Observer Tim

      Sounds like this class would benefit from aerosolized Thorazine. The people’s stories start out strange, but the MC seems to have managed to top them all. 🙂

      I’d like to meet Roxie. Any girl who paints kittens wreaking havoc on Miami must be interesting…

    3. Dennis

      I loved it, so wacky. I agree that some of those kids might need to be wacked with a stick, including the professor. I loved the bit about Roxy trying to tie her bangs into knots.

      1. cosivantutte

        I wouldn’t wack Tabatha with a stick if I were you. She’d probably snatch the stick out of your hands and wack you back. She’s kind of intense that way. 😀

    4. jmcody

      You know I am a fan of quirky in general and your quirky in particular, and this was pretty quirky even for you, so…. Great job! Roxie twirling her hair and then moving on to be bangs really established the nutty tone, as well as the Chinese Samurais that your MC wa so fascinated with. I was rooting for your MC and impressed with her gumption. Too bad about all those ruined flower beds and the angry mob. What am I saying? I don’t know but I enjoyed it.

      1. cosivantutte

        I’m glad you enjoyed it. This was one of those stories that I went into a time vortex as I was writing it. I was so determined to get to the end I missed supper and I didn’t even realize it. 🙁

  38. Jay "The Doc" Wilson


    The first day of class line-up started like any other. I stayed out drinking too late the night before, and had a wicked hangover first thing in the morning. Classes lasted far too long, and I spent three hours in each one getting to know the people I’d forget by the weekend. However, when things started in my fourth class of the day, things really took a turn for the strange.

    The professor, a young woman who probably had maybe ten years on me, waited patiently at the head of the class until everyone finally settled down. When nothing remained but soft murmurs between friends who for some reason needed to talk, the professor said, “Okay, class, I’m Miss Szychowski. I want everyone to stand up.”

    I looked around the room, and everyone else seemed just as bewildered. Of course, everyone followed directions because that’s what people do in college rather than learn any actual skills.

    Good start, I thought.

    Szychowski said, “Okay, now I want everyone to come up here and sit in a circle. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle…”

    Good band.

    “…just as long as you sit in some sort of round shape and face each other.”

    We, again, follow her directions and I found myself facing people I’d spend the next few weeks getting to know. I’d probably sleep with the one wearing the thin pink spaghetti strap and pajama bottoms. She probably didn’t notice me noticing, but I saw her look at my crotch and sizing up my arms. I let out a soft chuckle.

    Alright, starting with you,” The professor said, and pointed to a young man with a patchy beard and a nervous look on his face, “I want you to tell me a little bit about yourselves.”

    Oh God, I thought, I knew this was coming. It’s like we’re in kindergarten, why couldn’t we just sit in our seats and do this shit?

    Everyone was short, sweet, and to the point. It was actually kind of nice. The first guy just got out of high school and it was his first day at college. He wanted to be an engineer, but it struck me odd he would bother with a creative writing course for something like that. Options, I supposed.

    The next girl, the one wearing the pink spaghetti-strap shirt, wanted to be a poet. Apparently, she believed, in her words, that the world is a beautiful place and that she wanted to tell the world. I guess that made sense to her, but I couldn’t figure it out.

    Everyone else was somewhat boring. They told stories about how they took the class for some one reason or another. One was a business major, a degree where the only real job upon exit was fast food or retail management. Four years well spent, but at least he’d come out with the ability to write a good story.

    Finally, it was my turn. I said, “My name is Dillon Richards, and I’ve been working my way through college at a dance studio that requires me to wear a purple onesie with a yellow tutu. It isn’t my dream, but I came to be in this life not by choice but by a strange set of circumstances.”

    “Oh, really?” The professor asked with a smile of amusement decorating her face. “Please, explain.”

    “It all started when I was ten. I didn’t grow up in a rich or even middle class family, so both of my parents had to work. That crisp summer morning, it was ’92 I believe, my parents drove me out to a house I had never visited before. Surely, it couldn’t be bad, I thought. I mean, my parents were my protectors so they would just drop me off at a place they didn’t think was safe enough for me, right? Oh, how very wrong I was.

    “Like a piece of dirty laundry or trash, they dropped me off at the end of the driveway. They didn’t even spend half a second of their time doing a quick ding-dong-ditch. It was at that point I should have realized something was amiss, and I might have if it wasn’t for the wonderful blissful ignorance of adolescence.

    “When the cloud of dirt from their quick departure thinned, I stared into the distance while sitting on my tush, and I wondered why they would do that to me. I didn’t have much time to ponder, however, because a moment later I heard a strange scraping sound. It came closer and closer, and finally was nearly on top of me.

    “What is that, I thought, and then looked back. At the head of a large cloud of dust, was a ventriloquist’s dummy. It stared at me with its cold dead eyes, and grinned its false smile that ended in deep cuts down its chin. Its wooden hair remained still, and the painted suit should have seemed innocuous, but like the living doll coming after me, it also had a feeling of evil.

    “I didn’t want to stick around. I mean, what kind of kid would? Except for the most ridiculously clueless children, I knew it wasn’t a good thing, so I booked it. Took off running as if I’d just stole a lunch box. Where did I end up? Well, in a place I fear was much more diabolical than the clutches of a living dummy.

    “I got lost in the forest near that house. Day turned to night, and I was still out there. The weather turned cold, and I needed to find a place to hunker down before I froze to death. So, I found a small tree with a knot large enough for me to fit into. It didn’t have any kind of heating, but it would certainly block the frigid breeze.

    “I climbed into the tree, and I felt warmer than I thought I would. In fact, I felt hot. My skin began to sear as if I was standing in the sun, and a moment later the night turned to day. Outside the tree, it was no longer a forest but a lunchroom in a school.

    “Bizarre, I thought as I stepped out of the tree. I looked back, and the tree had gone. Where it had disappeared to, I’ll never know. I’ve searched for that tree since, and haven’t been able to find it. I suppose it was a one-time deal, and given what I experienced when it transported me, I’m damn glad my curious self hasn’t been able to locate it again.

    “I surveyed the cafeteria, which was white and clean, almost clinical like a hospital. Oddly, on the right side of the room, I found dozens of students pressed against the wall. The fear on their faces spoke words I should’ve heeded, but instead I remained planted in my spot. That’s when I heard it.

    “From the left side of the room, a scream as dark and as sinister as the aftermath of beer and Taco Bell, broke the strange silence. It called again, and the hair on the nape of my neck stood on end. I looked over, and there it was, coming after my like a train with a giant slobbery mouth—except it wasn’t a train. It was a giant angry meat monster.

    “Before I could run, it gobbled me whole. The thing didn’t have teeth, so as it chewed me, it merely tumbled me around as if I was in a giant washing machine. I rolled and fell, rolled and fell. Finally, I fell against the ground, which was covered in snow.

    “I began to shake violently from both having been transported twice and also from the freezing environment. I stood, and I felt much taller. When I looked down, I had grown! I don’t know exactly how, but I’d grown nearly two feet. I was the size of a full-grown man, if you can believe it!

    “Anyway, I started walking, and hypothermia started to set in. I became sluggish and tired. Eventually, I blacked out. I woke several hours later in a home and wrapped in several layers of blankets. The house I was in had been constructed with snow—ice blocks to be precise. Upon the wall, I found several pictures of a family, and they were all snowmen, women, and children.

    “I had no idea where I’d gone or who had kidnapped me, but I had to clear my head. The cold wasn’t helping me do that, so I searched the walls to find a thermostat. When I found it, I turned it up to a toasty ninety degrees.

    “Now, I had no clue what to expect. No, I am not a murderer despite what snowmen these days will tell you. I was merely a human in a place not fit for survival. Also, had I know the heater would melt the house and the family sleeping in it, I wouldn’t have turned it up that much. Probably.

    “Needless to say, I murdered the family, and when I heard the snow patrol coming to throw me in the pokey, I booked it out of there. As I ran down the street, a snowmobile stopped. Inside was a snow criminal who had been trying to kill that family for weeks. Because I unintentionally succeeded for him, he offered to help me. I wasn’t going to turn down his offering, even if it was born of a criminal act.

    “So, we escaped, and I fell asleep in the car. When I woke, I was in a room with three men who claimed to be from the mob. They were regular people, and I honestly had no idea what happened to the snow people. All I knew is that there was a man standing in front of me with a lead pipe who told me I had two choices. Become one of their enforcers or die. Was it really even a choice?

    “So, I became an enforcer for them, and over the course of two years, I became close with the family. In particular, I grew incredibly fond of the Godfather’s daughter. She was a lovely woman, though she had her downsides. For one, she was a human sized Jalapeño. I don’t mean that she was a hot kind of sexy (although she was), because she was literally a giant spicy vegetable. I don’t know why or how, but I fell in love with her. Proof that love knows no boundaries.

    “We ran off to get married, and the chief mob soon warmed up to me as family. Later on, we had a kid, a little Jalapeño popper. My little pride and joy, but it wasn’t enough to keep his mom and me from fighting. So, I told her I wanted a divorce, and she ran off and told her daddy. The result? Witness protection.

    “Ever since then, I’ve been hiding out in this city among millions of others to keep the mob from finding me and doing evil mob things to me.”

    The teacher and the students just stared at me, some of their mouths dropped low. My teacher shook her head in disbelief, and I said, “I know, right? I don’t know why they make me wear that, but at least I look fabulous while cleaning the floors.”

    1. lionetravail

      Heh, that was so, utterly, bizarrely hysterical! It reminds me of the kind of black humor of “Fight Club”, in the way it was so matter of fact a story for the MC.

      It was, in a phrase, about as funny, yet “dark and as sinister as the aftermath of beer and Taco Bell”. Great take, Jay 🙂

    2. cosivantutte

      This cracked me up. Especially the part about the little Jalapeno popper. It’s like one of those dreams you wake up from, wondering What the heck was that all about? 😀

      Great job!

    3. jlh4210

      Delightfully weird. That’s pretty much the only way I can describe this story. It was also extremely well-written, which makes me even more likely to heed your advice in critiques in the future. As a point of order, 10-year-olds aren’t adolescents, that starts at around 12-13. That might matter more to me than others though. Awesome story!

    4. k.spicer

      Jay, I have to question whether you had eaten a few magic mushrooms before writing this! This is one wacked story but it was so well written that I loved it! This would have come out a jumbled mess with a lesser writer. My hat goes off to you for keeping it all together and weaving it together as one complete scene. In one word: WOW!
      At this point I hate to mention this but a jalapeno is technically a fruit, although I too still consider it a vegetable. This made me smile and the writing made me envious…but in a good way. Well done Jay!

    5. Reaper

      “One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives you don’t do anything at all.” Seriously got that Jefferson Airplane line stuck in my head over and over again. A cross between many off the wall hysterical things come to mind and yet this is so unique I can not compare it to any of them specifically. Wonderfully written and amazingly entertaining in a way that few can accomplish but you are a master of Jay.

      On a side note. Did you know your link is not working? I was going to stop by your page and drop you a line but get a page is not available error.

    6. Observer Tim

      Your MC definitely belongs in a creative writing class. However, unlike the other students, he has to be there to bring his flights of fancy (or memories, I’m not sure which) under control. I found the story incredibly disorienting, most definitely in a good way. 🙂

    7. Dennis

      I was waiting for there to be some line about how he said all that just to liven up the ever boing stories he had to sit through. I agree also that he definitely belonged in that class.

  39. JRSimmang

    Another, if you’ll indulge me.


    Speed detected, 0.27 km/m
    Location, unknown… forest of undetermined longitude/latitude
    62% positivity, Olympic National Forest
    Flora: green mosses, grasses
    Fauna: Pandion haliaetus, Buteo jamaicensis
    Reassessed: Location: Northern Redwood Forest, Northern CA

    Inference, enjoyment… unintended

    … 0815… ALARM… 0815… ALARM…




    C.O.L.L.E.G.E. (Continuous Operations for Limited- Life Expectancy Geoforms and Elements):
    Begin 0830

    “Beginning State 0013: transcribe a circle with diameter 5.44 meters.”



    “Unit 6.” Unit 6 location: beginning of arc 14 degrees. “Maintenance. Center Sector.”

    “Unit 8.” Unit 8 location: beginning of arc 22 degrees. “Security. Center Sector.”


    “Unit 12. Repeat.”


    “Unit 12. Repeat.”



    Speed: 0.27 km/m
    Location: Northern Redwood Forest, Northern CA
    Flora: Brook, watercress, stones of varied sizes
    Fauna: Varied water birds
    Speed: 0.01 km/m

    … Dialogue:
    This… this… must be… strolling…
    … I… Unit… must sit.

    The brook… water rushing… purples and yellows pillowing into a mist… sunlight refracting under the surface… calm… trusting… I am home…




    “Unit 12. Repeat.”

    “Unit 12. Every day. I like to dream. In purple and yellow brooks.”



    -JR Simmang

    1. lionetravail

      Very clever, very cute- I love the sci fi take. (For me it was a toss-p for my first 2 ideas; I think I have a sci fi one in the back of my brain, somewhere.)

      Sounds like the birth of AI, though it may not compute to its monitoring station.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is very nicely done, JR. You captured the thoughts of an opening mind in a beautiful and imaginative wey. When wondering if robots dream, the first latin name that came to my mind was ovis aries. But then the MC might have gone into hibernation mode, especially if it tried to make an accurate measurement of the quantity.

      As a half-century sci-fi buff, I think I can tell you where you’re going right. Science fiction is the same as any other type of writing, except that (a) the jargon is stolen from technology rather than mysticism and folklore, and (b) the minds, societies, and situations explored are of a type further removed from the “normal” world, usually a result of something within or near the realm of science. Otherwise the story is a normal one and the technology becomes an excuse for introducing a few “I wish” elements. That’s why there was a movement a few years ago to rename it “speculative fiction”.

      A couple of centuries ago, the story of a world leader who is driven mad by amphetamines (plus a pre-existing disposition) and nearly destroys Europe would have been science fiction; now it’s history. The line can be quite blurry.

  40. Kerry Charlton



    Through the twilight and into the darkness of the Pacific night, the destroyer Mugford cruised the dark waters looking for other survivors. Around one in the morning, three were discovered clinging ro a small metal drum with chains upon it. Pulling the last remaining crew and medical division on board, a tale of horror revealed itself.

    Where once fourteen had surrounded the life-saving drum, four had slipped to a watery grave from exposure and burns, while seven more had been torn from their grip on the floating piece of wreckage and eaten by ferocious sharks.

    By some twist of fate the man-eaters had left the remaining three unharmed as if to demonstrate their power over life or death. As one of the remaining three stood on deck and realized she was finally safe, she screamed in shock, the sound of which permeated the entire ship. A few of the sailors rushed to her side while others prayed for her.

    I’ve seen enough, Tom,” Nancy said. “We couldn’t save Dee, not now or ever.”

    “Don’t be so hard on yourself. How many would have survived without being on deck? From what I’ve heard we’re heading to Brisbane. We can find a place to stay and regroup.”

    “Are you tryng to ……?”

    “Yes and more yes.”

    The ship’s crew of 363 offered sleeping arrangements to the rescued, but Tom and Nancy politely declined. Walking to a rail for privacy, they were joined by the ship’s commander,

    “Lieutenant, I’m on duty all night. Why not use my quarters to rest?”

    “Thank you captain,” Nancy said. “That’s very kind of you.”

    “I’m a total mess,” Nancy said, staring at the small mirror inside an even smaller bathroom included in the captain’s quarters. Barely able to squeeze inside with her, Tom looked over her shoulder and stared at both reflections,

    “You are magnificently gorgeous. Do you think it’s possible both of us could squiggle into this shower?”

    “I’m willing to try if you are.”

    Sounds of giggling and laughter bounced off the walls. Both had shimmied in together, facing each other but neither had a hand loose that could reach the shower handle.

    “Doesn’t matter anyway,” Tom said. “Now that I’ve got a hold of you, I’ll never let you go, but I can’t get my hand free to caress you.”

    “Should we call for help to get out of here?” Nancy smirked.

    “Wait a minute, I think I’ve found a way to move the handle.”

    “I’m afraid to ask with what.”

    Tom moved his hip sideways and made a small forward movement. A stream of water emitted from the shower head, “I told you I was talented, didn’t I?”

    “You never talked about that kind.”

    Outside the captain’s quarters, the world rose in flames and nightmares from globel conflict but inside, two lovers who as yet had not consummated their deep love, managed to put those nightmares aside for a few moments. The Mugford plowed through the treacherous seas toward Brisbane while Nancy and Tom wrapped their arms around each other, their souls and minds inner-locked together. Time, space and distance, life or death had no power over either of them as they had fallen into a magnificant aura of eternal love.


      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you, jhowe. I appreciate your comments. I didn’t want to end it here, but I thought I mighten weaken the love story. Nancy and Tom will be back, somewhere in time on another adventure, hopefully very soon. I like the characters as much as anyone.

    1. lionetravail

      Very nice, with a (what Jhowe perfectly captured with the phrase) ‘light-hearted’ touch. The “I’m afraid to ask with what” interlude was perfectly humorous, suggestive, and yet appropriate.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Amyitist. I’m happy you enjoyed this story. Be prepared for another adventure with Tom and Nancy, somewhere else in time. Perhaps witch craft in Salem? K.

    2. Reaper

      Kerry, there is a large part of me that wants to scream NOOOOO! This can not be over. However that is a sign of a well told story. One of the duties of an author is to know when their story is done and wrap it up. Once I got over the shock of seeing the final part I got into this. It is heartwarming and yet another layer to the onion of style this story has brought. You pulled us to the hope that was so elusive throughout the rest of this.

      With that said, does this mean we get more Copper Scrolls soon? 😉 Well done once again.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Reaper, always. It was difficult ending this tale but then I thought ‘series’. There’s no reason I can’t do a set of stories on Tom and Nancy, just introduce the characters and some prior structure to new readers and then off on another adventure in time.

        The Copper Scrolls, hmmm, maybe I’ll cut my work hours down, I’ve been working 5/10 since 1958. Maybe I ought to slow down a bit. K. Suggestions?

        1. Reaper

          Kerr that sounds amazing. Just because you reached the end of this story does not mean you are done with their story. I know I would read it. Could see them traveling in time through historic events and possibly other wars too. Man I would read that.

          I know I think about that story fondly and often. That seems like way too long to have been working so much. However the guy in me that has been unemployed for nearly a year and a half and just took a temp job I didn’t want also drools at the idea of doing that hourly. Of course when you work that many hours it is usually for yourself or salary and not as awesome as it sounds when you think overtime. I do know that if anyone deserves some downtime it is you. Just depends on if you consider writing downtime or not. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim for your kind words. Believe me, they will be back somewhere in time. I want to formulate a complete story line before I start. It was too hard this way writing chapter by chapter.

    3. Dennis

      I enjoyed the adventure Kerry. That would be a sight to see those to in the shower (well, at least Nancy anyway) I’m with Reaper and now want more Copper Scrolls.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Okay, you’re going to get it. The first piece will need to be set as back story so those that haven’t read the first five parts, will be able to fit with the continuation. Give me a week to get back in gear and then off we go! KC Thanks for the comments and the read Dennis.

    4. Critique

      And so a wonderful love story ends 🙁
      Great writing here – suspense, calamity, humour and love. One of my favourite kind of stories 🙂
      On another note. I’m wondering if I missed the Copper Scrolls? Or is it still in the works?

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you MCKEVIN for your wonderful comments. I am thinking of submitting this but I’ll have to tweak it first. It’s too choppy in ten parts, don’t you think? Maybe not. I’d like anybody’s opinion on this thought. Thank’s guys for all the encouragemsnt. KC

  41. Critique

    The prof clapped her hands and the low murmur of voices and rustle of moving bodies ceased.

    “Welcome to Creative Works 101,” she said in a high singsong voice. “Let’s start with introductions shall we. My name is Odell. I’d like you all up front – now please – sitting in a circle facing one another.”

    Like programmed robots we shuffled into place.

    Glancing covertly at the sixty or so students – ranging in age from the late teens to late middle age – it was hard to tell. Occasionally it was the least likely.

    The prof clapped her hands again for silence. “I’d like us to take turns, state your first name and say one thing that’s special about yourself.”

    We had two Kevins and three Michelle’s in our class.

    The third Michelle, sitting next to me said. “My name is Michelle and I adore Stand-up comedy.”

    Then it was my turn.

    “My name is Bonnie.” I looked at the ceiling. “Every day I like to levitate in purple and yellow orbits.”

    “Thank you Bonnie.” Ms. Odell smiled uncertainly. “Could you clarify that a little?”

    I allowed myself to drift above the classroom, my legs crossed and my eyes still heavenward.

    I could hear gasps and cries of disbelief from the group. Glancing down I noted Ms. Odell had turned white and was swaying on her feet.

    She asked didn’t she?

    Adrenaline pumping, I pulled the antimatter guns out of my backpack, aimed and spewed the purple and yellow gas over the students. The fumes did their work and the entire class froze – the blood stopped flowing in their veins – not even an eyelid twitched.

    The room was eerily quiet. You could have heard a tear drop.

    Quick as lightning I landed on my feet, went through every wallet, purse and backpack in the room and hit pay dirt with the Kevin number two. Seven hundred bucks tucked in his zipped hoody pocket.

    Then before the spell wore off I raced out of the room – only the bright ones would miss me – pulled the wig off my head, stuffed it in my backpack was soon walking across the campus grounds.

    The boodle from this easy haul would grow my funds nicely for xenoarchaeology. I stopped myself from skipping.


    Ms. Odell and the student body came to life as one.

    “Who’s next?” Ms. Odell compressed her lips. She liked to be organized.

    “Excuse me. Ms. Odell.” A student gestured to the empty spot beside her. “Bonnie? Where’s Bonnie?”

    One other student and Kevin with the hoody looked puzzled and nodded in agreement. The others simply stared blankly.

    “Michelle isn’t it.” said Ms. Odell.“Your the one who likes jokes?”

    Ms. Odell giggled unexpectedly and clapped her hands. “Good one.”

    1. lionetravail

      Fun story! apparently your MC didn’t get the memo about great responsibility coming with great power. Very cool- oonly suggestion is that i think your first part was the really effective story, and the epilogue almost took away from the surprise twist of your MC going through everyone’s pockets. i think the perspective switch from it being about your MC, then what happened when she was off on her next stuff, is what threw me.

      i love how cool the MC was, and would rather the story finished with her than with the classroom full of losers 🙂

    2. Reaper

      This was a good read. Scifi really isn’t my thing and yet this one pulled me in nicely. Maybe it is because it is not yours either. Your reference to the Bright ones had me curios and wanting more. I felt like that was where you were going with the second bit. So while I do agree that the first part is the punch for a short if you were taking this to a longer format I felt the second was a great intro into Michelle who seemed like she would be the foil for your MC.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is good, Critique. Sci-fi is my thing (as if that wasn’t bloody obvious by now), and you’ve told an excellent “slice of strange” tale. I love the fact that the MC is an alien juvenile delinquent.

      There is a bit of weakness in the second scene (after the asterisks). It strikes me that a little more focus on one of the smart ones (Michelle) would set the mood better. Perhaps tell the last part from her perspective, or an epilogue where the MC sees her come out of class and look around (which can still be left unresolved).

      If this story went further, a full thread could be introduced around Michelle trying to find and prove that ‘Bonnie’ exists.

    4. agnesjack

      I agree with the comments about the second part seeming unfinished, but I loved the first part. It completely took me by surprise and was so imaginative. Great word: xenoarchaeology.

    5. Manwe38

      This was a timeless tale of an ordinary, flawed person with an extraordinary ability (or in this case, weaponry) living it up at the expense of others.

      Great ride!

      1. Critique

        Thanks Dennis, agnesjack and Manwe38 for your comments. I appreciate every one of them 🙂
        Rushing to submit a prompt (I try not to go over the 500 words) has consequences. I agree the second part of my prompt could have carried the story in a stronger direction if I’d taken the time to think it through.

  42. hibahasangardezi

    My eyes were fixed on the delicious blue cupcake in my cupped palms.
    “Tell me the truth Cups, how are you so” I flipped my hair” Delicious”.
    “Wake up “It yelled at me.
    “No, no…darlin’ if your love is a dream…” I licked my lips”…don’t wake me up…”
    “Wake up or you’re going to be late for-“
    “No …no baby, I love you .With you I’m not late for anything.”
    I felt a rough hand slap my face sat up my eyes opened. The cupcake wasn’t there any more instead in front of me stood my beautiful mom her red hair done in a braid and her eyebrows arched high above her sea green eyes.
    “Get up, Liam! You’re going to be late for your first day! You know how hard it was to get you into Harvard”
    * * *
    I leaned against my car staring at the colossal building
    “So I said I’m here aren’t you going to invite me inside for a cup of tea?” I grinned at this dream come true.
    For so many years I had visited this building but merely as a guest. Now I was here as a student…I closed my eyes and sniffed the air the sweet smell of success .a few steps away a girl vomited .second thought: not so sweet…
    * * *
    Just in time…I slipped into a seat and looked around the class I had dreamed of for so long. Not bad I thought though the one in my dream had a TV.
    I watched the tall brunette, our professor walk in “welcome students” she said “My name is Miss Miranda and I’m your sociology professor, now first of all I want you all to sit down on the floor in a big circle”
    “I’m sorry…what?”
    “You heard me”
    Slowly all the students slipped out of the seats and we sat on the floor in a circle like the professor had told us to. I remembered sitting in kindergarten like this. Hey! Maybe the professor was going to give us cookies and milk like Miss Kane the kindergarten teacher had, back then. I licked my lips.
    “Now she said I want you all to introduce yourselves “she said touching her palms to each other. Man! What about the cookies and milk? I was so looking forward to it…
    I heard the people introduce themselves:
    Brittany, Gale, Zhang, Nina, Aiela, Logan, Mary, Xian, Umber, Martins, Jade… I was last.

    “My name is Liam Bauer I said every day I like to eat cupcakes in purple and yellow pants.”
    “WHAT? “Miss Miranda said laughing,” Please explain Mr. Bauer.”
    “I’d been truthful, not so she’d ask for details…”
    “You know what?” I said I think you forgot to ask his name pointing to a guy who’d introduced himself first of all.
    “He’s done “she said
    Ugghh fine! I thought you want to know? Just fine.
    As I explained the story to the class I lived through it.
    “I remember that starry night running through the woods feeling the juicy green foliage break to make way for me.
    I ran and ran Hades was behind me. Finally I tripped over a log and he caught up riding on that three headed dog Cerberus with his staff, he wore a hooded robe, the black threads made of death itself. I could only see his black snarl on that cocoa skin, it rimmed jagged bloody teeth.
    “Ha! Mortal you thought you could out run Hades? You’ve made a mistake…return the pomegranate seed or ill make you one of my subjects.”
    I remember how I’d felt the air being sucked out of my lungs. I felt my skin stretch and wither away with every minute I resisted. Hades was killing me.” Here” I said my voice sounding like an old man’s “take it” I held out the seed.
    “Yes! He whispered now for your punishment…”
    “What? No! “I said I gave you the seed .My body back to normal, I sounded young again.
    “BUT YOU DID TAKE IT!” He roared.
    The ground shook. I was in his realm now. Without my weapons. Without my powers. I had to take whatever punishment he gave me.
    “Let’s see” he said
    “Please” Persephone materialized next to him.” Don’t punish him, husband. He has given it back.”
    “I have to punish him. He stole food ill punish him with food “he said “Every day you will eat cupcakes in purple and yellow pants “he said
    “No!” I hated cupcakes, the colors yellow and purple!
    “No Hades” Persephone said “Please “I knew why she was helping me, she loved me. This was why Hades hated me even more. The stealing her seed thing was to get her over me. Apparently it hadn’t worked.
    “Yes “he said
    Persephone got angry “if he will have cupcakes in purple and yellow pants everyday he shall like it, too “she cast the spell on me. Now I liked cupcakes, the colors purple and yellow.
    “PERSEPHONE” Hades shouted he hit her with a staff and she fell to the ground.
    “But Liam, whoever hears about this will die!”
    When I finished my story the whole class laughed. Of course they laughed, but those were their last laughs. Because the story was a true one.

    1. lionetravail

      Good story! I’d like to suggest you’ve got a bit too much going on for the short nature of the prompt, though. There are a lot of elements to this, all of which are solid, but some of them almost don’t fit together without more story to explain it.

      I like what you did here, overall 🙂

    2. Reaper

      Loved this story. It flowed between multiple tales, all of them working together. I agree that it needs to be longer to do it justice. There are bits I would love to see explored more, and the back story in front of in the middle would be amazing. As it stands I felt like I was back in boy scouts, sitting around a campfire and trying to scare the crap out of each other. Every once in a while someone would step up and tell an intense tale that sucked as all in as we listened silently, barely daring to breathe in fear of shattering the moment. This was one of those and I can inhale again.

      1. hibahasangardezi

        I love that you loved it ,Reaper .I have only posted three stories till now but I always appreciate your comments. I will work to make my writing better.:)

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a fascinating take on a little-visited portion of Greek mythology, hibahasangardezi. I find it oddly compelling and very entertaining.

      My only disjoint was the last bit; it’s a lovely thematic link to Hades that everyone will die, but tends to lessen the relevance of the story. If they’re going to die, why should I be interested in them? And why would the MC be worried, other than an otherwise unmentioned ethical dilemma about telling his story versus letting them live?

      But then, Hebrew mythology says people shall surely die, but uses the terms only to indicate that they are now mortal versus immortal, not that death will be immediate (Genesis, ch 1-3).

  43. JRSimmang


    College, they told me, would be the greatest of many milestones, past, present, and future, that I would pass on my way to the Great Country Inn in the Sky. I believed them when they told me, and while I stood on the precipice, I couldn’t help but smile.

    Dr Anna Wheeler-Purvis was my Histrionics professor. Her hair greyed only at the temples, but leeched into her irises. Her lipstick was an unidentifiable shade of red, somewhere between twitchy adolescent and social smoker. Aside that, it was her hands that struck me. Not literally, of course, but viscerally. They were powerful with a wistful split between the ring and pinky fingers. Her index fingers were languorously long, pitching the perfect distance from wrist to cuticle. They were a statement of authority. On her left hand, the thumb was missing its nail.

    For this, I was not surprised when she asked us to “gather ’round, kiddies.”

    “The floor,” she began, “is the only thing between us and the ground.” She threw her hands in the air. “I want you to feeeeel the ground, the soil, the fermenting grasses and mosses. Only then, only through them, will you discover your true identity.” She then plopped down on to the floor, and looked expectantly at each of us, holding eye contact for longer than was comfortable.

    “Now,” she continued, “Tell us your name, YOUR UNIVERSE NAME, and something about you that no one, and I mean no one, else knows. For example: My name is Anna Karenina Amelia Delilah Wheeler- Purvis and I lick my cats to clean them, just like their mothers did, so they feel like they haven’t left home.”

    A couple students gagged, and she continued to get lost in her reverie, her tongue sticking out, then in, then out, then in again.

    She motioned to me next, or at least I thought she did. She more or less waved her hand in my direction.

    It was my first day, and my palms were already sweating. I cleared my throat. “My name is Roy. Every day I like to vanish in purple and yellow crowds of umbrellas.”

    Her face contorted, as if she were about to sneeze a nose-full of pepper, then finally gasped. “Yes. YES! Tell me more, young paduwan. I want to touch your air!”

    And she did. She reached right out and touched the air around me, which I felt was an invasion of my privacy.

    I began again, “From a bird’s eye, I am a shadow of multiple colors, each one confusing itself for another. Purple and yellow are opposite each other on the color wheel, and these two colors serve the spectrum. I can run from one end to the other, vanishing and disappearing in the blues and reds and greens.”

    The class wore on, each person elucidating their reasons for being. Then, we shuffled out the front doors. It had just rained, and the ground was seeping a light fog. I found the first purple umbrella, held by a young woman who was pretending the rain continued to fall.

    I lifted my yellow umbrella to the sky, opened it, and joined her. Her name was Cecilie, and she mixed into the purple of the mid-morning.

    -JR Simmang

  44. Cceynowa

    A Muse-d Learning
    Words: 496

    By accident or design, he sat directly across from me. I assumed he had taken care to enter well before me and wore a hooded jacket to hide his distinctive golden hair. I had entered the room late, hoping to sit towards the back unnoticed, but this new-age “College Life 101” professor had us sitting in a literal circle, effectively ruining both our strategies.

    “Let us begin by learning about one another,” she said. “I would like you to state your name and share a habit that you do daily.”

    She pointed to a girl in pajama pants. “Hi, my name is Sara and I work third shift. I don’t get home until three or four most mornings,” the girl seemed defensive and embarrassed.

    “Excellent! I admire your dedication. And you, sir?”

    The professor worked her way around the gathered freshmen, each showing various degrees of discomfort. Finally, she stood before me. I had been thinking about his eyes, cleverly hidden in his hood’s shadow, wondering if anyone had seen their silver glint. Part of me marveled that he would risk his Decent Privileges to keep an eye on me. “And your name young lady,” the professor prompted.

    Startled out of my thoughts, I said, “My name is Clio. Every day I like to bathe in purple and yellow light.” My hand jerked towards my mouth, covering my traitorous lips. Frantic at my mistake, I scanned the room for some sort of explanation. There! The hippy professor was wearing an aquamarine stone necklace. She smiled at my obvious distress.

    “That is interesting. Please, explain further.” It was not a request. The back of my neck tingled and I felt panic growing in my stomach. What if she suspected what I was? The Council would never let me Descend again.

    “I, um,” I could not lie, not as long as he was wearing that necklace, “you see, I find inspiration in those colors.” That was true enough. “They help me remember.”

    “Remember?” Everyone in the class was staring at me. I could feel my eyes heating up. I shut them tight and called on every moment of my training to keep the power growing in me under control.

    “Yes. The world’s history can become cluttered in darkness.”

    “And, so you bathe in colors?” I could hear the confusion behind her voice. I breathed a sigh of relief, she simply thought I was crazy— Master Raziel was right, mingling with the humans I was supposed to inspire, would teach me to control my emotions and my suspicions.

    “Yes,” I managed after a steadying breath.

    “Interesting,” she said again, “How about you?” She mercifully moved on.

    When she stopped before him, his melodious voice spoke easily, hiding everything, “My name is Raziel, and daily I take a multivitamin high in fiber.”

    The professor laughed, “Yes, I do too. People our age need all the help we can get!”

    He winked at me, showing I still had much to learn.

  45. lionetravail

    Hah! First Today!

    I had come to college with high hopes of leaving the immaturity of high school- once and for all- far, far behind me, only to have them dashed on day one of Psych 101, aka as “Touchy-Feely Freshman Bullshit”. Some days, it was really challenging being a superhero with a secret identity.

    Droning, droning, droning, I kept looking at the lecture hall clock, but it moved with a slowness that was triply agonizing to my alter-ego: ‘Kidd Zipp- fast as the Flash, but twice as hip’.

    I even had that on my business card.

    Then one of the stories intruded on my conscious mind. “… And every day I go out to the river, where the footbridge crosses it. When no one is looking, I climb down the bank and go under the bridge where these beautiful white flowers grow, and I sit there and cry like a baby,” said this humongous kid with a crew cut sitting next to me.

    I glanced over as some of the students laughed, and saw him clap his hand over his mouth and color, violently. What the…? I thought, and looked at the prof. She had what looked like an evil curl to her smile, and a furrow in her brow. “Yes, go on Frank,” she said in a honeyed voice. “Tell us why you cry.”

    The big kid- likely a freshman offensive lineman if ever there was one- kept his hand over his mouth even as he began to speak, almost like it was against his will.

    “Please take your hand away, Frank, and tell us all again,” the teacher lilted, and he did so as tears streamed down his face.

    “The flowers make me cry because they remind me of my sister’s dolls, which I used to play with when…”

    My first thought was about why this guy would be telling all this stuff when he was obviously upset, almost like it was compulsory or something. I looked around the faces of the others in the class, and saw a few in a similar state to Frank, and my second thought hit: compulsory?

    A memory tickled, and unfolded as I struggled to recall it… a police bulletin from maybe a year ago, about a female villain who had committed a number of armed robberies, blackmail through some insane power of persuasion. She’d never been caught, had gone underground…

    And then it was my turn. “Now, tell us what makes you tick, David,” she said with that same amused sneer to her lips and furrow between her eyes.

    And I felt an awful compulsion which I fought, but to no avail. To my horror, I began to speak.

    “My name is David Hathaway, but when I’m out saving the world they call me Kidd Zipp. Every day I like to dress in purple and yellow spandex to go out and fight crime at superspeed. I chose those colors because I thought they looked cool when I saw my dad’s Viagra and Levitra pills all mixed up together. I stole a bunch of them one day to try with my girlfriend, because I’m not only fast on my feet, but a little too fast in other ways, if you know what I mean. I…”

    I couldn’t stop myself from speaking, even as everyone burst out into laughter, including the offensive lineman beside me. The supervillain professor was now laughing hysterically, tears running down her cheeks.

    Shit, I thought, even as my mouth continued to spill every embarrassing, dirty little secret I had to the roaring hysterics of my classmates.

    And that’s how I earned my first super-Nemesis: Seductress.


    1. Cceynowa

      In a world of criminals who operate outside the laws of common man….. I simply adore superhero stories. 🙂 This is great Lionetravail. An excellent, well written, first response to the prompt.

      1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

        CC, I’d argue that the law of common man is the law of criminals, and the uncommon law of man is of virtue. I’m probably wrong, though… I usually am. haha

        Enjoyed this, Lionetravail! Thanks for waking my ass up… it’s been a sluggish morning.

        1. Cceynowa

          I’d argue physical law versus supernatural powers… 🙂 I agree with your stance on legal law for criminals, and am left pondering the question as to its existence at all if not for the definition of criminal activity.

          1. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

            Well, I suppose that’ll always remain one of the most argued points of philosophy. 🙂 One cannot exist without the other, they say. Me? I choose to believe that anything can exist without a counterpart, including criminal activity, it just won’t be known the way we’ve come to understand it. I’m not a science fiction (or hard fantasy) writer, but if I was, that would be a good subject to look into, yeah? How another people would understand something outside of ours. Huh, maybe I will look into it.

          2. Cceynowa

            Watch “Serenity” (film: 2005) for a failed attempt at Utopian society, when you have the time for a jaunt into the sci-fi world of a western space odysseys.

          3. Jay "The Doc" Wilson

            I’ve seen it, but it’s totally based on our culture’s (or rather a mixture of cultures’) understanding of the way the world (in their case the universe) works. If you have an example, a book preferably, that explores how a culture understands something if all they knew is one or the other but not both, then I would love to read it. That to me would be an awesome read.

    2. Reaper

      Nicely written lionetravail. The voice was great from the very beginning. The internal dialogue was very nicely done and the powers as well as the catch phrases were wonderful. Very funny stuff.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is classic superhero, lionetravail. I hope later episodes explain why she’s called Seductress. 😉 Of course, unless she’s seriously messing with all the student’s minds (rather than just some of them or using the class for information gathering), he’s going to have to find a way to regain his secret identity…

    4. Kerry Charlton

      Really funny David. Purple and yellow spandex at the speed of light. I love super hero myself and had a thing for Superwoman comics. Later I decided it was strickly a matter of cleavage.

    5. lionetravail

      Thanks everyone! It was a ton of fun to write this one… I read the prompt, and ‘superhero’ was the first thing which came to mind- then it went quickly sideways when I came up with the viagra and levitra and superspeed connection.


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