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Frozen Solid

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

The phone rings. It’s your mother and she’s upset. “What’s wrong?” you ask. “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.” You pause, knowing two things that your mother doesn’t: 1) This is your fault and 2) you’re the only one who can fix it. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” Write this scene.

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649 Responses to Frozen Solid

  1. Vicky says:

    The thick chill of magic sweeps her head to toe and really, it takes all of her will not to shiver. Across from her, her twin doesn’t look that better off; frost clinging to his hair and his hands are cracked from the force of blocking raw magic with his bare hands. She knows it will hurt when he starts thawing out. Seeing her glancing at him, Noel glowers from beneath frosted bangs and Ash winces at the stare. Noel looks angry and Ash knows that she screwed up big time today. And the evidence was staring right at them — or rather, what remained of the circle stared at them; the ground caked with so much ice that it rendered the area impossible to stand on. Ash looks at it and swallows thickly, fumbling about with numb hands when her phone buzzed and rang in her pockets. Noel makes a grunting sound and tries to stand, hissing when he started feeling pins and needles in his legs and hands; his extremities starting to warm up slightly at his moving.

    “Hello?” her voice shakes with the cold and hopes the other line doesn’t notice. Clearly not because there’s a muffled sob likes sound and Ash’s brows rose. “Mom?” Noel looks up and he reads Ash’s expression. His brows furrow and Ash can barely make out what’s being said on the other end. She does catch a few words though and her body stiffens, a chill that had nothing to do with the cold sweeping her body before settling uncomfortably in her stomach. Noel comes up behind her and Ash’s voice tries not to tremble as she says, “It’s okay mom. Don’t worry about it. Noel-Noel and I will take care of it. We’ll head into the embassy and find a healer. It will be okay. Don’t worry.”

    Noel’s brows are furrowed and the slightly older girl turns, eyes wide as she slides her phone shut. The boy raises an eyebrow in question, not saying anything (not that Ash expected him too – Noel rarely said anything to anyone) and Ash twiddles her thumb, a hand starting to move to mess with a beaded bracelet on her wrist. It’s a nervous habit and Noel’s eyes narrow. He takes a step forward and Ash flinches. She pauses, waits as if she’s gathering her thoughts and Noel frowns deeply at her. The older of the twins licks her lips and Noel was lucky he grabs a branch to steady his slipping lower body when Ash squeaks, “Mom just called. Dad’s frozen solid. We messed up somewhere.”

    • WriterDana says:

      Very detailed, descriptive, and good use of terminology! I read this and can imagine the details of what is happening in the scene. I love this! Keep up the good work!

  2. sealskin says:

    The phone rang. It was my mother and she was upset.
    “What’s wrong?” I asked.
    “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid!”
    I paused, hissing a curse under my breath. “I should have known not to trust that bitch, damn her!”
    “Hello? Did you hear me?”
    “Yes, I heard you. Don’t worry, Mom. I’m going to take care of this. And Mom…? As you guessed this is magic, so don’t try to thaw him out because it won’t do any good. I’d hate for anything to catch on fire.”
    After my mother hung up I immediately called my travel agent to book a flight to Gatwick – London and then to Oxford by rail. “Not a good time for this,” I muttered. “Not at all convenient.”
    On the way to the airport I dropped by my parents’ house. There was Dad, just as he had been when he was flash-frozen: his pipe jutting from his mouth, his glasses opaque from frost, his hands in front of him holding a newspaper that was no longer there.
    “Mom, I have to go to England. It’s the only way I can resolve this situation, and that’s really all I can say. I should be back in three days, four at the most. Be careful not to let Dad fall over or he might break into several pieces. You might want to prop him up in a closet, or maybe a corner in the basement.”
    “Be careful, son.”
    On the plane, I gazed at the vast expanse of the Atlantic and remembered that summer in London. Could it have been twelve years already? Yes, but even twelve years was a short distance to open between now and that time of bewitchment, because that’s exactly what it was, though I didn’t know it at the time. We seemed to share everything in common, we laughed at the same jokes, we noticed the same things when we would take those late night strolls. Even our coffee – half teaspoon of sugar and no cream – was the same. It was almost too late when I learned the truth.
    She was, in fact, a witch.
    Not just any witch. She who I knew by the name of Polly Sutcliffe, a girl from Holborn, was actually one of the great necromancers of this age. And she seemed so sweet and so guileless. The well-tended farms and pastures of Buckinghamshire slid past my window as I thought of how easy it had been to fall for this tall, slender woman, how sharp my disappointment when I learned the truth of how she had used me, and how arduous the coming to terms was – the striking of a bargain that kept our relationship from erupting into a bloodbath. Admittedly I had slipped once. I admitted it. But wasn’t freezing my father a bit out of proportion? I thought so, and I was prepared to let her know it.
    I got off at the station and quickly walked to the Professor’s house, situated on a twisting lane right outside of Oxford. He was in his garden when I arrived. I waved at him and shouted: “Hallo, Professor! I can’t talk right now as I have urgent business with… her. I should be back by tea time. I’ll see you then?”
    “I understand completely.”
    “I bounded up the stairs of the rambling old mansion and quickly entered the room – empty but for the wardrobe standing in the corner. I opened the wardrobe and plunged in. Woolen coats turned to tree branches against my face, wood floors became snow crunching under my feet. Then I was in the clear. The lamp shone several feet away. A frosty breath of air. I called out, loudly: “Your majesty!!! We need to have a talk!”

  3. jopgespn says:

    Teleportay!, The world flips upside down and inside out and there I am standing before my mom and an ice cube that is my father, “What happened?” I ask knowing I’m truly responsible.
    “He took a bite of that popsicle and, BAM, he froze,” she slaps her hands together imitating the function of the spell, “but I took a bite of it too and, obviously, I didn’t turn to ice.”
    “Yeah, well, that’s because the spell didn’t come from the popsicle, mom.” I sigh and motion for her to sit on the couch. It’s Monday night, mom and dad always go buy ice cream in some form or another and back home to watch one of their favorite shows. The TV is on and their show is on but dad is out of commission, mom is concerned, and I’m about to tell her that I did this, “It’s tough to explain, but do you remember that magic set you two bought me a couple of years ago?”
    “Yes, I do, but what’s that got to do with this,” she raises a hand to my father who is slightly dripping at the elbow where his raised arm is holding the popsicle up to his mouth, it’s hard to tell what flavor since the entire cast of the ice has a dark blue tint.
    “It’s REALLY magic, like, magic-magic.” I say as I produce a black wand with white tips from my sleeve. Usually magicians pull flowers out but the flowers aren’t the answer to reversing my mistake. “The truth is, I cast a freezing spell, but it wasn’t intentionally meant for da—“
    “Briton, stop. This is serio—“
    “No, mom, I’ll show you.” I swish the wand around in a concentric circle and visualize butterflies coming out of the tip and then point it away from her causing a group of Monarch Butterflies to flutter out. Her jaw drops and her eyes twitch around following slight movements of her head as she tries to figure out the trick, “You see? Like I said, the spell wasn’t meant for dad.”
    “That is unbelievable, so, who was it meant for if not your father?”
    “I never meant for the spell to involve ice, but this guy keeps trying to one up me in front of my girl, so I was going to freeze him in his tracks,” I pause and look at up at my dad for a second, “the thing is, he has the same name as dad, and I think when I cast the spell, I may have thought of dad instead, and the fact that he was eating ice cream may be why he is now a block of ice.”
    “Fix it! Briton. I need you father, you need your father! Fix it!”
    I stand up and face the dad-berg, his eyes focused on the popsicle, mine on his eyes. I see him as his old self and unharmed, I point the wand. ”Dethaw!”
    Dad’s color returns. He’s safe.

  4. ofwait says:

    It is late and I was sound asleep when the jarring sound of the telephone made me jerk awake. I covered my head hoping that whoever it was would just go away, but I wasn’t that lucky. The ringing stopped as the caller was sent to voicemail only to start again as they called back. I heaved a deep sigh, and answered the phone.
    “Hello” I answered the phone rather waspishly. My tone of voice didn’t deter my caller though.
    “Randall! Oh, Lord! Randall I need you at home now!” My Mother’s voice cut sharply through the last vestiges of my sleepiness.
    “What?! Mother, what is going on!” I am quickly alarmed, because my mother is not normally an excitable person. She is the most level headed person I have ever met, for her to be in this state meant something huge I was sure. I swallowed thickly “Mother!” she didn’t answer “Mother!” I practically yelled, “What’s going on?”
    “It’s your father!” She sobbed into the phone “He’s frozen! This woman barged into the house and she froze him! I don’t know what to do other than call you!”
    “I’ll be there in 20 minutes Mother. I will take care of this!” I hung up before she had a chance to say anything else. I sat for a few moments on the edge of the bed racking my brain for answers and carding my hands through my hair making it stand on end. What were my options? I quickly decided that calling Robert was probably my best option at this point, he was an ass, and I didn’t want to owe him any favors, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I sigh and dial Robert’s number.
    “What!?” is the surly answer on the other end.
    “Robert” I sigh, “this is Randall, I need your help.”
    There is a muffled snort from the other end “The Great Randall needs my help? You must be pretty desperate.” I hear the glee in his voice, it nearly makes me hang up.
    “Astrid broke into my parent’s house and froze my dad. I don’t have the skills to reverse that, but you do.”
    There is silence for a few moments and then a sigh. “Alright, you ass, I’ll help you, but only because it’s your parents, they are good people. You owe me though, big time.”
    “I know, believe me, I know. See you at my parents in 10.”
    “Right, see you there.”
    I hung up and then started to quickly get dressed. As I got in my car and drove over to my parents, I felt relief. I knew my Dad would be alright, and that was worth any price Robert might ask.

  5. Saeboran says:

    “Don’t worry mom. I’ll take care of it.” I must have said it a little too flatly because she was suddenly hushed i think i could hear her on the verge of tears when she asked

    “Josh?”

    I hang up before she can ask anything; it was just much easier not to talk about it to her right now.

    “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

    The specter was listening over my shoulder turning the very air cold and giving me goosebumps. His expression changed from the feigned innocent curiosity, to a smug asshole. I despised it.

    “I wanted him to feel what felt not fucking freeze!”

    “Whoa there, such language isn’t ideal for a young gentleman such as you! Besides, isn’t that what you felt?”

    “What?”

    “Don’t interrupt boy” He snapped, his voice suddenly much louder then it was before and his figure now towering over me.
    “This is exactly what you felt, all those years when he wasn’t there, even when he was he didn’t care about you. He didn’t care about you or your mother, leaving you for a cheap whore when it sufficed. What you felt was hurt, betrayal, hate, and jealousy, the very fire of souls.”

    I was surprised, to say the least, I didn’t think he was really paying attention, but i guess he was waiting for a moment like this.

    “But in the end you turned cold, stolid. You pretended he didn’t even exist in your life, and now he’s feeling that, the very cold in your heart. At least i didn’t just set him on fire” He seemed quite pleased with himself having figured this whole thing out, his eyes prodding for a response from me and his grin showing o so well. He disgusted me in all his little ways. I wasn’t willing to let him have his pride though

    “How do I fix it?”

    He frowned, He knows he was right. I’m almost willing to let him keep my father that way but i can’t. Something he obviously didn’t understand

    “Well you should at least give it_”
    “No”

    He let out a long sigh, which did nothing but irritate me even more, putting a bite to my words

    “Well”

    “It’s simple” he grinned a toothy feverish grin again, with those sharp white teeth. The kind that would make little kids hide behind their mothers.
    “It requires a trade”

  6. LiveOakLea says:

    Mom kept asking the same question, “What shall I do?”

    I reassured her, hiding the fact that I was trembling, “Mom, it will be okay. Don’t panic. Fix yourself a stiff drink, and this will be over before you know it.”

    At my suggestion of a drink, Mom seemed to get a grip and in a calmer voice she said goodbye. I held the phone for an instant, picturing Mom as she made her way to the liquor cabinet, pour two whiskey doubles, one for herself and one for Dad, in the same way she’d done every day for the past forty years, then imagining her face crumble as she remembered that Dad was sitting, frozen, in the wingback chair in front of the study fireplace. In my mind’s eye, I could see her downing both drinks. She would be fine for a couple of hours. Hopefully that would be long enough.

    First, I had to reach Ron, but in my hurry I dialed a wrong number. The man who answered, coincidentally also named Ron, might never forget the call he received from a crazy woman screaming at him to ‘get his ass over here’ and bring the sorcerer’s cigarette lighter, that her Dad was frozen, and there was no f’in time to waste.

    After I reached the right Ron, for the next half hour there was nothing more I could do except pace the floor, cursing myself with every step for being so stupid. Only an f’in moron would try to get away with taking a sorcerer’s cigarette lighter. Giving it to your boyfriend for his birthday wasn’t an excuse.

    Thirty minutes was enough time to finish berating myself, and then begin rationalizing what I’d done. After all, who could have known the guy was really a sorcerer? Maybe he just liked wearing a black robe and pointy tall black hat. And any slightly freaky dude can leave a note on your front door saying that the cigarette lighter you found in the laundry room was his and that if you didn’t return it within twenty-four hours, he would start turning your family into human popsicles.

    I saw Ron’s car pull up at the same instant I heard someone rattle the front door handle. I ran to the door, gluing my eye to the peep hole, and there he was – the sorcerer.

    I flung the door open just as Ron jumped out of the elevator. He ran in an odd way that would have been laughable in a different situation, with both arms outstretched and his hands together, clasping the sorcerer’s cigarette lighter.

    The sorcerer’s laugh filled the hallway as he plucked the gleaming silver lighter from Ron’s extended hands. He flicked it and laughed louder as the flame shot up.

    I heard my cell phone buzzing, and I knew that Dad was thawed out and he was probably calling worried about finding Mom passed out.

    That, I decided, was their problem.

  7. thatbillguy says:

    I am Winter

    ____________________________________________________________________________________________

    I awoke to a deep chill.

    Breath rose from me and disappeared as the last bits of heat fled from it. I wiggled down into the covers trying to find a warm pocket. The chill remained. I needed to pee, but getting out of bed was not an option.

    What happened to the heater?

    Then, the phone rang. I grabbed the cold chunk of metal and plastic and touched it lightly to my ear.

    “Hello,” I whispered.

    “Son.,” It was my mother. I was rare for her to call. She preferred to wait until I finally called her, and then complain that I never call her. “It’s your father.”

    “What’s wrong?”

    “A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.”

    “Um, what?”

    “We’re not sure what happened. The Council can sense his life, but it’s fading. Come quickly, there may not be much time. I love you.” The line died.

    I sat up and threw the covers off. A snowy cloud swirled from them. I swung my bare feet to the floor. A burning cold chased the blood from the extremity, to places my body deemed more vital. I recoiled from the cold floor with some effort, tearing my frozen sole from the sheet of ice.

    I looked around the room. Familiar surroundings looked alien beneath layers of solid cold. Long, icy spikes reached out of the air vent high on the wall. The ceiling fan lolled to one side from the weight of icicles gripping the blades. The sterile smell of cold rode on each breath.

    I shivered in disbelief. In the oppressive cold, I remembered a dream. The dream, actually. The dream of my manifestation. The dream where the world was white and cold and desolate and I was at its center driving the heat away as one would scatter stray cats from a porch. The cold freed me from the heat of mortality and the world suffered for it.

    For thousands of years there has always been a mage of seasons; Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.

    I am Winter.

    Each of us manifest at adolescence with a significant event. The last Winter was responsible for two ice ages. It is thought that power of that magnitude no longer exists. Technology, and its proliferation in society, interferes with the harmonious nature of magic, diminishing its flow. That, in and of itself, is a part of the natural order. People rely on technology for the things that magic used to provide. It is inevitable for evolution to weed us out.

    Right now, however, my power surged into being. It threatened the lives of everyone I knew and loved, and everyone else in the world. I had to gain control or become the creature of apocalypse from my dream.

    Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care it.

    I stood on the burning-cold floor. I exhaled foggy breath. The cold flowed into me. The patter of rain filled the room, as the ice returned to water.

    I am Winter.

  8. ouamish says:

    I pressed the button to end mom’s call and immediately dialed David’s number. I felt enraged, almost homicidal. The fact that David could do such a thing to my father? The fact that he thought he could get away with it? Insane.
    The phone rang once, twice, and David picked up.
    “Hellooooo?” he said in a sing-song voice.
    “I’m going to kill you,” I growled.
    David laughed. “Aw, babe, don’t be mad! I asked you for something, you didn’t give it to me. I told you there would be consequences.”
    “David,” I said, working hard to keep my voice even, “Break the spell. Now.”
    “That sounds like another threat,” David replied, any trace of humor gone from his voice. “That’s two in the last couple seconds. I’m a pretty calm person,” he lied. “I like to keep things cool, but I don’t like being threatened. Especially by someone who works for me.” I closed my eyes and shuddered, remembering all the “work” I did for David. “I might lose my temper.”
    My anger faded. This was my relationship with David in a nutshell: he was the dominant person, the boss, and if he wanted something you gave it to him, with no questions and no complaints. He had half the city working for him, and the other half afraid of him. He protected himself with powerful magical wards. He was untouchable.
    Almost.
    I pulled the doll from my desk drawer, followed by a case of long needles that glinted in the light. I had attached David’s picture to the head of the doll, and a small nest of David’s black hair to the top. Hair collected from his bed after long, vicious nights spent under his fat, sweaty body, his thick hands wrapped around my throat or threaded through my hair, pulling, wrenching it out by the roots. If it didn’t seem like I was enjoying myself, he would beat me. He didn’t care about bruises, blood, or concussions.
    I traced David’s face with the first needle, slid it down to the doll’s stomach, and jabbed.
    “Urgh,” David said on the other end of the line. “Damn enchiladas.”
    “David,” I said, sticking another needle into the doll’s arm. “Break the spell.”
    I heard his breath hiss through his teeth. A needle into the other arm. Two into the doll’s knee, followed by a sharp scream from David.
    “What the hell…” David whimpered.
    “Break the spell,” I repeated, rubbing the tip of another needle around the doll’s face. I knew David could feel it, like an urgent itching.
    “Bitch…”
    “NOW.”
    David went quiet. After a few moments, a text came through from mom. he’s ok!
    “There,” David snarled. I knew he would have something particularly nasty for me in a few seconds, something far worse than being frozen. We were finished, one way or another.
    I took a handful of needles and drove them through the doll’s head. On the other end of the line, David screamed, screamed…and fell silent.

  9. Kerry Charlton says:

    Music Trivia Question, while we’re wailing for a new prompt.

    What three recording artists had five of the top ten selling albums on Billbord at the same time?

  10. PromptPrincess13 says:

    Am finally catching up with these prompts! I struggled with an idea for this one all week but finally just decided to write and see where that led me, with a vague memory of something in a Sabrina, The Teenage Witch episode. Thanks Salem for the inspiration! Advice always welcome!

    ————————-

    “Mom, what’s wrong?” I stood braced against the wall of my hallway, closing my eyes against the emptiness of my apartment. The weight of dread hung above my head like an anvil, awaiting the words that were sure to come to cut it loose and crush me.

    “It’s your dad. Something awful happened to him.” The wretched panic in her voice harpooned its way through my heart, causing tears to bud in my eyes with fiery heat. I gritted my teeth and slid down the wall, none of the plushness of my furnished apartment screaming to me that I was safe in my home. This place was my abode, my lodgings- nothing else.

    My mom’s voice hardened, icing into stone, bitter. “He’s frozen.”

    All I could do was hug my knees to myself, my echoing breaths, short and forced, mocking me as it dispersed through the empty rooms. Why had I asked?

    “I know.”

    “What the heck do you mean you know?!?” I cringed at the sound of my mother squawking her disbelief on the other end of the phone. I fought the urge to hurl the phone at the ceiling, knowing this was my own fault. My own failure.

    I could hear my mom pacing on the other line as I leaned deeper into myself, shrinking my limbs and rolling into a rigid ball on the cold floor, seeking any form of comfort I could find. Comfort I didn’t deserve. I deserved to suffer like this; all of my mistake were finally catching up with me, the habit that had turned addiction now eating at the only parts of my life I’d thought were sacred. Honesty was the only thing that could save my blackened heart now.

    “Mom…I lost a gamble.” I heard my mom take a breath that might’ve steadied her but rattled me even more. I had to say it all now, everything, before I lost my nerve. “I was playing against Darrick Frost and I-I-I thought I had it. It was practically guaranteed mom. But…I messed up. I-I lost.” I paused then, forcing myself to straighten and stand. I balled my fist and gathered my courage; no going back now. “I lost everything mom – my apartment, my money, my reputation…I had nothing left. And I lost my mind mom, I didn’t know what to do…so I did something stupid, so, so stupid. I bet you guys. I bet the house.”

    I heard my mom let something out between a sigh and a gargle of anger. She said nothing, not a word, as I stood alone in my apartment. I held the receiver away from my mouth and cried quietly. The tears kept coming, feeling like flakes of fire against my skin, burning me with shame. “Don’t worry, mom. Please don’t worry. I’m going to fix this.”

    “No. We’re going to fix this. Come right away.” I held onto the notes of forgiveness in her voice, the ones hidden behind the tenseness just close enough to the surface for me to hear. I didn’t say a word, just hung up, got in the car that soon wouldn’t be mine, and drove to the one place where my wrongs could be righted. I drove home.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      This is a beautiful story of a mother’s love for her child. It’s hard for a man to understand, but I do from watching my daughters as they stand by their children, trying to save them from a world inhabited by drug demons. They don’t give up and neither has your MC’s mom.

      It was worth the wait, Prompt Princess.

    • Breezybealle says:

      I guess I’m confused. Unless I’m missing something I don’t understand the jump between betting her parents and her father being frozen? And if it involved betting both of her parents, why was only the father affected?

  11. Breezybealle says:

    Bob Marley’s jamaican accent floated across the room as my cell phone rang. Don’t worry… ‘bout a thing… ‘cause every little thing… gonna be alright…

    I looked down and saw my mother’s number. Such a pretty song, I told myself. I’ll just listen to it a minute longer. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was her calling. Right. I sighed and readied myself for the upcoming conversation.

    “Hey, mom” I answered quickly, trying to make myself sound as rushed as possible. “I’m late for class. On my way out the door as we speak.” I picked up my keys and rattled them as loud as I could, hoping she’d take the hint.

    Silence. That response was unexpected and I stopped rushing about.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked, completely serious now.
    .
    “It’s your father. A spell has been cast on him and he’s frozen solid.” It was such an odd statement to hear over the phone that it took a second to register. I sucked in a deep breath then let it out in a woosh, knowing my day was not going to go the way I had originally planned.

    “Don’t worry mom, I’ll take care of it.” I pushed the end button before she had a chance to say anything else, looked down at the keys still in my hand, and walked out the door.

    ****

    Loud music greeted me as I walked through the front door and I knew immediately that at least one of the twins was home.

    “HELLO?” I called out as I searched the bottom floor. “Mom? … Connor? … Cassie? …” Not a sign of anyone. Figuring they must all be upstairs, I climbed the wooden steps to the second floor. Pictures of the five of us lined the wall, reminding me of how close we all were. Sometimes I still longed for the creature comforts of living at home. Being with them every day instead of the bits and pieces of time I got to see them between classes and staying at the dorm.

    I caught mom at the top of the stairs, basket of laundry in tow. A frown furrowed her brow, replaced with a flood of total relief as she noticed me.

    “Tori, thank God you’re here,” she sighed, pointing in the direction of her bedroom with her chin. “Your father’s in there.”

    I followed her into the spacious master bedroom and immediately saw my father, frozen mid-stride, presumably on his way to the bathroom.

    “Have you talked with the twins?” I asked. “Tried to figure out which one did it?”

    “And how exactly was that conversation supposed to go?” she asked as she set the basket on the bed. “By chance have either of you frozen your father with a new magical ability you both didn’t know you had but should have received when you turned 16 last week?” She began to yank the laundry out, piece by piece as she folded it and flopped it on the bed, undoing her already sloppy work.

    “Mom,” I said slowly. “Calm down.” I stopped her from demolishing the remaining clothes by grabbing her hands and holding them in my own. “We all knew this day was coming. We just didn’t know when. They’ll be okay, just like I was when I found out about our family.”

    [I'm planning on continuing the story by trying to incorporate the next writing prompt if possible....]

  12. seliz says:

    Question for those users who have a profile picture/linked webpage. How exactly do I add those? I tried updating my profile but to no avail. Google and the FAQ’s were no help either.

  13. JessCheney says:

    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” The words sounded hollow, even to me as they tumbled out of my mouth automatically.
    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” The words sounded hollow, even to me as they tumbled out of my mouth automatically.
    My eyes began to lose focus. Mom’s hysterical cries through the phone fell on deaf ears as my heart was racing at triple speed.
    Think. Think! How did she find him? How did anyone find him? I was like a drill sergeant that night, checking all the possible outlets in that…that place. There were none. There was no way he could have escaped, and no way anyone could have gotten in. So how—?
    How did this happen?” Mom had began uncontrollably sobbing now. “Who would do this to my Deeeeky? Hmm? Who? WHO?”
    My insides froze for a frightening second. Did she know? She couldn’t possibly know. “Mom…I’m going to have to call you back.”
    I quickly hung up the phone, my mind blasted by a million memories of that night. Of Deacon. My mom must have been crazy to have married him. Smoking some of that stuff only mortals smoked. Marijuana perhaps. I laughed out loud. Deacon, my dad? Her
    Deeky, she called him. If only she knew what Deeky had drunkenly tried to do to her daughter that night. If only she knew how he’d unexpectedly turned up at my self built cottage in the woods, just stood there, his too large silhouette outlined in the dim moonlight. I was surprised to see him, as he’d never come to my workplace before in all the three years I’d had the privilege of knowing him, yet there was my mom’s husband, standing only a few yards away from my little sanctuary. At a quarter to midnight.
    “What are you doing here, Deacon?” I had asked, hoping he didn’t notice my voice waver. I could tell he’d been drinking by the way he couldn’t keep still. He seemed to be swaying slightly even though there was no breeze. I began growing increasingly alarmed when he still hand’t answered me.
    “Deacon…?” I tried again.
    His yellowing teeth flashed briefly, as he made an attempt to smile. Only it didn’t look like a smile at all. It looked more like a snarl.
    Then he started forward towards me.
    Lurching towards me was more like it. Then all at once, it hit me. All the reasons why I hadn’t liked him before, and why I never could place my finger on the reason. He’d always been a little too…comfortable around me.
    I felt my throat close up, and the magnitude of just how scared I was kicked into overdrive. I started to panic, and a million thoughts flooded my mind. It was just the two of us, alone, in the woods at night. Great idea, Lilly, I scolded myself. Great idea for not even keeping a knife here—
    Then it hit me. The potion. The potion that I’d always worn around my neck…but where was it? And was it really necessary?
    But looking into the hungry, empty eyes of my step father, I knew it was. He was already in a state beyond words, and he didn’t need any, his eyes said it all. He wanted me. He wanted me now. And even through all my blind excuses for his being here, I knew it. And he knew I knew it.
    I put my hand casually in my pocket and desperately willed it to close around that small glass vial. Where was—? Yes. It was there. I closed a tight fist around it, never taking an eye off my enemy. He was slowly getting closer and closer.
    Quick! Think. How was I going to make him
    drink it, though?
    I groaned inward, coming to the only conclusion a tired, sleep deprived 18 year old could think of: I’d have to seduce him.
    “Um, Deacon, would you…like to come in for a glass of wine?” I asked. My throat felt like it was incapable of holding any air. “I’m 18 now, you see.”
    His eyes had widened in surprise, and his snarl became even more grotesque.
    Inside, after I’d slipped the potion into his glass, I made sure he’d come to regret wandering into my woods that night. His facial expression as he watched his feet start to turn to ice, then his legs, and soon his entire body, encased in a block of ice…was priceless. I almost laughed so loud I was afraid Boxie, my baby dragon would wake up.
    I thought I’d locked him up in my secret place for good. But now I had a new problem. Someone knew my secret. Someone had broken him free and somehow gotten my mother to discover him. Someone was close to me. Very close. And now that someone would wish they were someone else. Very soon.

  14. soochybee says:

    The first time my mom called, I slammed the phone down. Regrettably, she didn’t take the hint. Six calls later, I picked up the phone in a huff. “WHAT?!?” I yelled. “You have to come over here, Alexa!!” I sighed. “Mom, you know I won’t. I can’t be around you people and your magic anymore. My mother’s voice was grating as it came through the speaker. “Get off your high horse. You’ve used just as much magic as we have.” I squeezed the phone, willing it to turn to ash and crumble in my hand. “Mom, I’m not getting mixed up in any more witchcraft. Not after what happened last year. Now stop calling me!!” Before I could slam the phone down yet again, my mother’s voice turned pleading through the phone. “It’s your dad. He’s been frozen solid! Alexa, if you won’t do it for me then do it for him. We all know you’re the most powerful one of us all.”

    I closed my eyes wearily and said nothing. My mother took my silence as me yielding, and 3 seconds later I was zapped back to my parent’s house. “Ugh, I hate it when you zap me.” I muttered. “Where is he?” I asked, my eyes scanning the room. “In the freezer” said mom, then seeing my expression, “What? He turned into ice, I didn’t want him to melt!” I pulled open the industrial sized freezer and hauled my dad out. He had a remote in his hand, must have been watching TV when he got frozen. I grasped his free hand. “We need a power circle”. Some of my siblings filed into the room and my mom beckoned to them. We joined hands, my brother grasping Dad’s remote hand as best as he could. I scanned my mind for the spell and took a deep breath. The chanting began, and I felt the long dormant magic trickling its way back through my veins. As the spell reached its climax, I felt the power surge through me. Sparks swirled in the midst of the circle dramatically, and a cloud of smoke surrounded the statue. When the smoke cleared, my dad was cracking his knuckles. “Man, that really messed with my arthritis.” He groaned. My family was clamoring at me, singing my praises all at once, but I didn’t hear any of them. I flexed my hands, relishing the feeling of the magic in my blood. I’d forgotten how good it felt. Right then I forgot about all the consequences. All I could think was:
    I’m back.

  15. INITIATION DAY (cont’d from last week’s prompt)
    ===================================

    Brother and sister sauntered along the sidewalk. Dorian asked her about school and Samantha asked him about being away. He kept steering the conversation back to her. The conversation turned back to the mystery of the hour: Initiation Day.

    “Really, Dor. Why does Dad always have to be like that all the time? Sometimes I wish he would just s–”

    “Don’t, Sam. Don’t finish that thought.”

    Too late, she thought. “What are you talking about? Your’re still so melodramatic, just like him.”

    Dorian’s phone rang and he put his finger in front of his sister’s lips as he answered. Their mother yelled frantically, but the only thing Samantha made out was “Hurry, Dor.”

    “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll take care of it,” he said and ended the call.

    “What’s going on?” asked Samantha. “Is Mom okay?”

    “Yeah, she’s fine. It’s Dad.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and looked her straight in the face. “Think, Sam. Where you just thinking about when you were ranting about Dad?”

    Samantha face blanched then flushed. “I don’t know. I just wanted him to…”

    “To what? Sam, it’s important.”

    “I wanted him to stop and keep his trap shut.”

    “Okay, we gotta run. We need to fix this.”

    “What? What’d I do?”

    “Hurry.”

    Dorian took off with his long stride. Samantha sprinted after him, thankful for the year in cross-country running. She ignored the stitch in her side as she rounded up the driveway to the side door, almost slamming into her brother as they rushed inside.

    Irene stood over her husband’s unconscious body. She looked up at her children, her eyes wide and glassy. “Who?” she asked.

    Dorian answered. “Sam. I couldn’t stop her. She’s so strong. I can feel it.”

    “Stop me from what?” asked a bewildered Samantha. “What’s wrong with Dad?”

    Irene said “We were talking and, just like that, his mouth clamped closed. He started thrashing and then passed out, like he couldn’t breathe. I can’t open his mouth. I tried every cast I could think of.”

    Dorian bent down on one knee and examined his father’s frozen eyes. The pupils twitched but otherwise he was stiff and lifeless. He placed his hand over Phil’s face and closed his own eyes. Samantha heard him muttering some strange gibberish. After a minute, he stood and both Dorian and Irene looked at Samantha. She saw a mixture of fear, sadness and excitement on their faces. It confused her.

    “Mom, I don’t understand. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean for him to…”

    “Listen, Sweetie,” said Irene. “Take our hands. It’s okay. We’ll show you.”

    The three stood in a circle over Phil’s prone body and joined hands.

    Dorian’s voice was low and even. “Close your eyes, Sis and concentrate on Dad being okay.”

    She did and Samantha felt her hands get warm and her feet grow cold. The static behind her eyes flashed gold and rust electric against a black canvas. She pictured her Dad pushing her on the swing-set. Samantha, a little girl in pigtails, laughing. Her daddy strong and alive. He laughed strong and she loved him.

    “That’s it, Sam. Just like that. Hold that image,” said Irene.

    Their hands burned hot but there was no pain. Then it was gone. The heat, the cold and the electricity all vanished with the kaleidoscope of her mind’s eye.

    Samantha dropped her hands to her side and opened her eyes. Her father stood in the center of their circle, smiling. His voice held the same strength as her memory.

    “Happy Initiation Day, Sam.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      What a great follow up sequel, Don. writing is so crisp, it almost scorches the computer screen. It’s amazing you can put two prompts together and have the story line flow that well. Your two lines, “Dorian bent down on one knee and examined his father’s frozen eyes.The pupils twrtched but otherwise he was stiff and lifeless.” These two lines are perfect horror.

  16. enzobalotelli says:

    “What’s wrong?” I asked.
    “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.” I paused, knowing two things that my mother didn’t: 1) This is my fault and 2) I’m the only one who can fix it.
    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”
    Dawning a pair of black frame aviators I slowly scaled down the ladder to my secluded loft. The apartment was quaint but living in the loft section provided enough room for me to experiment with temporary stabilizers. My second hand moccasins scuffed lightly on the tarnished wooden floor, kicking along bits of dirt and spilled chemicals with each lazy step. On the cluttered computer desk by the door a long box containing at least 20 hypodermic needles lay open. I poked through each one like a shopper carefully avoiding the rancid clothes in the discount bin at goodwill, just looking for a gem.
    “Ah, there you are” I whisper to myself, finally coming across a medium sized needle filled with translucent grey liquid. Capping the needle, I put the concoction in my jacket pocket along with a pill bottle with 2 rattling blue circles in the bottom. I was going to fix this problem alright.
    The drive over to my mother took all of ten minutes. No one was on the road, Sunday afternoons were like that in Lewisburg. The warmth of the setting sun relaxed me, the cold wind from the brisk early March day woke me up. Interesting how the balance of opposites can make you feel so grand. Lost in a daydream I rolled upon the curb of my mother’s late 1800’s two story town home. The white paint had given way to age and the blue shutters were chipping away to brown. I plugged in my headphones and cranked some death metal, I couldn’t listen to my mother panic.
    Opening the door revealed a ballet scene of unmatched words as my crazy mother frantically screamed about magicians and spells (at least I assume) as her voice was drowned out by the sounds of Bring me the Horizon. I immediately walked to the den where my father lay motionless except for blinking eyes on a lazy boy. I see the new serum is just what I was looking for I thought to myself as I dissolved the two blue tablets into a glass of water. The Columbian government will pay out huge amounts for darts tipped with immediate setting – and non-damaging- tranquilizer/paralyzer blends.
    With one swift motion I jabbed the needle into my father’s arm. With a huge gasp of fresh air he began listing off a string of inexplicable curses. I still couldn’t hear him over the Screaming Serenade of “Suicide Season.”
    “DRINK THIS” I yelled, my commands were followed promptly and after 5 minutes of watching him slowly lose the ability to scream, I finally took my headphones out.
    “…if this spell stays for ever with your witchcraft and wizardry I swear…”
    “Shut up ma.” I spat.
    “Dad has pain relievers and adrenaline pumping through his veins now, make sure he eats in an hour and gets a full night’s sleep. He’ll be fine.”
    “What about you?” she asked curiously.
    “I’m going to go make a million.” I said and the door clicked shut behind me.

  17. shampton says:

    I pace the floor nervously after hanging up with Mom. That bastard. That absolute, complete bastard. I should have never let him back. If I didn’t let him back this would never have happened. I feel panic rising in my throat until I choke. I close my eyes and stop pacing. Steady breathing calms the panic. I don’t have time to think of a long-term solution, but I know a short-term one. I sigh and snap my fingers. A coat appears around my body. I flick my wrist. The door swings open.
    As I trudge up the street, the snow is now falling in earnest. Conversations from open doors of coffee shops and busy bus stops tell me that everyone is surprised by the heavy snowfall on the doorstep of April. But, I am not surprised. The weather is frequently affected when he is angry. I don’t miss the connection between the heavy snowfall and my father’s current state.
    I reach his building and stare cautiously up at the bay windows that provide him with a bird’s eye view of the street. Does he see me through the drawn blinds? Who am I kidding, he knew I was coming the moment I decided.
    I put my finger on the bell for his apartment, but before I press it, the main door buzzes softly. I open it. I make my way up the staircase to his third floor home. The door is already cracked. I don’t bother knocking.
    Randall is sitting on the couch, a coffee in hand. He is facing away from me, no sign he even acknowledges my presence until he speaks. “I know why you’re here,” he says. I walk over to him, anger and rage burning inside my chest. My hands are clenched, my teeth gritted. I close my eyes for a beat and breathe. I relax. And sink to my knees in front of Randall. The tears come easier than I could have imagined.
    “Please, baby, I made such a big mistake, I can’t live without you.” Only now Randall turns his eyes to me and they are full of confusion. He places the coffee mug on the table and I know he wants to touch me, but he is uncertain. Doubt colors his expression. I grab his hands instead.
    “But what about your father,” he begins staring into my eyes. He’s still cautious.
    “Screw my father,” I spit. “They have been calling me all morning. But, I don’t need them anymore. Randall, we only need each other.” I see his guard instantly drop as his repulsive mouth finds mine.
    Exactly an hour later I step outside. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. The snow is melting into the city drains. Surprised, but happy, residents are strolling, laughing, and enjoying the happiness only a spring day can bring. Happiness is not an emotion I am experiencing. I am only focused on revenge.

  18. lori k says:

    “What’s wrong?” you ask. “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.” You pause, knowing two things that your mother doesn’t: 1) This is your fault and 2) you’re the only one who can fix it. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”

    “Yeah, I’ll be sure to take care of it,” Sammi said to herself as she dropped the phone back into it’s cradle.

    The spell had misfired. The man that she had been raised to call father was not supposed to be frozen, he, along with his wife, was supposed to be dead.

    Samantha began to pace around her cold dark kitchen frantically replaying the words of the spell in the back of her mind. She had gone over the ingredients just as the tome had instructed but something had gone wrong. If she didn’t figure out how to fix the spell and kill the man before he unthawed she was afraid that she would be the one that would end up dead.

    The story began long ago when Sam was no more than a few weeks old. The couple had stolen her from her real parents, leaving them dead, their bodies so burned that they were unrecognizable. The man had been behind the entire plan. His wife had no more magic in her veins than a wooden pole that was used to hold telephone wires. He had been the one, he was the great wizard, Zohar. He had felt the presence of Samantha when she had come into the world and he stopped at nothing until he found her.

    The woman that took the role of the small girls mother did his bidding. She raised the child to be mortal, to look mortal and to do as all good children did…to listen.
    When it was time he would take her under his wing and teach her the true ways and that would be Zohar’s downfall.

    Samantha began to soak up magic quicker than a sponge soaks up blood. It came naturally to her and it made Zohar proud and yet, in a small core of his black soul, it made him afraid. The girl showed signs of power, power that matched his own. It wasn’t until the day that he showed her how to read the minds of others that Zohar made his first true mistake because that was an ability that Sam did well…very well.

    It only took one look into her foster mother’s eyes to see who the woman really was and what had happened to her real parents and that was the day that Samantha began to plan her revenge.

    Would she be able to get to Zohar before the spell set him free? He would be sure to kill her because he would know that she planned nothing more than to kill him first.

  19. Congau says:

    I am my father. When mother called and told me that father was no longer present, I knew it already because his presence is now in me. His body is motionless, his eyes are empty and she can’t make contact with him, she moans, but little does she know that at this very moment she is talking to him. She is talking to me, and I am my father.
    You see, I decided to take control of my own origin. We humans are sheer products of our parents. At birth we were forced to receive what we inherited from them, and therefore we are born without freedom. But I want to be free, and therefore I had to become my own ancestor.
    I’d rather not disclose the details, but the hypnotic process was relatively simple. I stared into my father’s eyes and sucked his person into mine. Thus I captured my father to become free myself, and now I can do everything.
    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it,” I say confidently. Then I add: “Maggie, meet me yesterday in 1985.” I hang up before she can answer.

    I, the son, am 28 years old, born in 1986.
    I, the father, am 28 years old in the year 1985. I’m on my way to meet Maggie in a café. It’s our third date. I think I like her, but I’m not sure. Tonight something must happen. Either I’ll take the next step or I’ll give up this woman.
    She’s already there waiting for me and I sense a slight blush on her cheeks the moment she sees me. She may become mine.
    I sit down and enter into a light conversation. She laughs at my jokes, but then she suddenly becomes serious and looks straight into my eyes.
    “You are a cheerful and light-hearted guy, she says, “but you do have earnest goals in your life, don’t you?”
    I do. I sure do! Am I not a promising young man at the stock exchange? No doubt I will soon get some really big money in my hands, and then I sure will perform heroic and liberating deeds.
    I’m about to elaborate on my prosperous future, but then suddenly I’m gripped by a strange feeling: It is as if I see my father. He is a respectable grey-haired man who is sitting in an office leafing through documents. His entire being is a monument of dutiful decency, but there is no trace heroism and freedom.
    Was that what my father wanted? Is that what I want? I no longer know what I want.
    I lose confidence and start stuttering. Maggie looks at me in surprise. She is staring at me. She has eyes from the future and I can’t stand her look.
    “No,” I mumble. “No!” Then I run out of the café. I run away from her.

    This was the story about how I was not born.

  20. wells2683 says:

    “Take care of it, how?” say’s my mother with suspicious sound in her voice. “I don’t know what planet you come from, but on this planet we worry when people cast frozen spells on other people.” “This is your father, and you should be as worried as I am.” I said, “I am worried mom, I just need to explain to you what is going on, I’ll be there as fast as I can.” I hang up the phone and gather my thoughts on how I will explain what I have done to my father.
    It’s about seven o’clock in the evening. I’ve just gotten home from work, and wasn’t able to shower and change cloths. I smelled like Jupiter ate Saturn and had a bowel movement because I work with manure from Mars. I arrived at my mom’s house ten minutes from when we had ended are phone call. “How can you possibly explain to me what’s going on with your father,” says my mother with tears streaming from her eyes.
    “Mom, everything is going to be ok.” I said, “Last week we were watching the earthlings, and noticed that their scientists have figured out how to make cars fly.” “We bought thought that was very excited since their tiny little brains can’t discover that there’s life on other planets.” My mom says, “What does that have to do with the reason your father is frozen right now?”
    “We thought it would be a good idea to wager a bet,” I said. “Daddy and I both have powers that you’re not aware of.” “I can instantly freeze and unfreeze entities, and dad can see the future.” “I bet dad that a million flying cars will crash into each other by the end of the week.” “He betted me that two million cars will crash into each other by the end of the week.” “If I win, I get to freeze him, and if he wins, I get to freeze you.” “Dad said to tell you that he can see the future, and knew exactly how many flying cars were going to crash.” “He lost the bet on purpose because he loves you so much and wanted to make sure that you knew that.”

  21. Silver Sister says:

    Sister . . . Silver . . . Sterling. . . call me anything but late for dinner. (Sorry, that’s my dad’s joke:) )

    Thank you for your incredibly generous comments. For me, as a reader, a story is just as much about the character as it is the events. Think of the ‘perfect’ people you know. Nobody likes them. :) I know I have flaws, so I like the people I hang with (real or imagined) to have a few, too. As for word choice, I remember reading the advice, ‘never say red when you mean crimson. Never say tree when you mean elm’. That stuck with me.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Yikes! That was a reply to jmcody’s kind comment on my story. Whoops.

    • lori k says:

      How do you get your story submitted here

    • mlmoore says:

      The buzz of my phone sent a rush through my palm, down my right side to my foot, causing it to press harder against the accelerator.
      “What’s up mom,” I answered in a camouflage of calm and casual as if I hadn’t been expecting her call.
      “Adam, I need you home,” she shouts. “Your father’s finally done it. I told him to stop with those experiments but no, he insisted on turning our basement into a science lab. ‘Well, look at you now Albert – frozen solid from head to toe, covered in ice crystals, looking like a freezer burnt Popsicle. Go ahead; smile – I have half a mind to leave you this way.’”
      I stifled a laugh, picturing mom; one hand on the hip, the other attached to a finger wagging it in dad’s defenseless frosted mug which she thought was taunting her. While the image was amusing, I couldn’t allow dad to be thrown under the bus.
      “Mom this one’s on me,” I confessed. “I was working on a cryogenics project using liquid helium and dad accidently got blasted.”
      “Where did you get liquid helium?”
      “Ebay,” where else?
      “Well, you better have something from ebay to unfreeze your father or…”
      “Mom, I’m on this.” I sliced her or before she threatened to do the same to my reproductive existence. “I’m pulling in Professor Brimstone’s drive now. If anyone can fix this it’s him. So, chill out with dad until I get there.”
      “Adam Burke that’s not funny. Your father’s chilled out enough for the both of us and…”
      I hung up, adding another strike against me. I’d heard mom rant for hours over experiments gone wrong and yesterday, Brimstone said he was leaving town today at noon to attend a conference. It’s half-past eleven – I was cutting it close.
      I sprinted up the walk hoping the Sedan in the drive was an indicator he hadn’t left. At Brimestone’s door, a familiar pair of argumentative eyes greeted me.
      “This bromance with dad has to stop. Why are you always here?”
      “Cage it Emma.” I pushed passed her, trying for once not to allow her presence to distract me. “Something’s happened with my dad – I need the Professor’s help.”
      “Mom took him to the airport,” her finger twirled the end of a blonde curl “Try his cell.”
      “He’s not answering.” My hand took my hair hostage.
      Her brown eyes caramelized at my hopelessness. “Can I help?”
      I gave her stunning face a doubtful look but handed her my phone anyway revealing the pic I’d taken of dad to show the Professor.
      “Nitrogen or helium?” she asked, handing it back.
      “Helium.”
      Impressed and confused, she left me standing there as she took off up the stairs. Minutes later, she returned carrying a huge bottle of hand sanitizer.
      “Dilute this with water.” she slammed the bottle into my ribcage “Start with a heavy concentrate then slowly decrease the solution. The component of ethanol will act as antifreeze and water will reverse the dehydration process. It’ll take about forty minutes but your dad should begin to defrost.”
      My palm latched to her face and I finally did, what I’d thought a million time before of doing. The respondent touch of her lips created a current throughout my body, way more intense than the earlier buzz of my phone.
      “And that Harper,” I say, tucking her pink bear in bed beside her “is the day daddy found the courage to show mommy how much he was in love with her.”
      “Tell it again daddy.” Her innocent eyes struggle against sleep as her finger finds a curl.
      “Tomorrow night,” I promise, kissing her forehead.
      At the doorway my wife greets me with a loving smile then hands me the phone. “It’s your mom.”
      “Mom?” I’m cautious to say.
      “Adam, your father’s done it again. ‘I told you Albert…”
      I pull the phone away as mom continues her rant. “Is this us in twenty-five years?” I ask Emma.
      “I hope so,” she kisses me, placing my car keys in the palm of my hand.
      (New to this, so sorry if I posted it in the wrong place and for the upped length. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.)

  22. mykidsareasleep says:

    On the best of days my relationship with my mother is, well, difficult. I’m a loner and she’s a clinger. She wants too much from me and respects me too little. We’ve never really gotten along, but we pretend. It’s what you do for your mom, right?

    She’s panicking. This is not new, she panics if she doesn’t hear from me for a day and a half. I never call her more often than weekly. She panics about her Kindle not turning on and expects me to drop everything and fix it. I don’t own a kindle. I have no idea how they work. She panics … well, you get the picture. No, I’m not the greatest daughter on earth. But I try far more than I’d like to.

    Perhaps I’m not being fair. Dad is, apparently, frozen. She said I’ve got to fix this. You should know this about me: I’m in sales. I know not the first thing about bodies or why people freeze up. Why is she not calling a doctor? In her world, I’m the only one who can fix anything. I honestly have no idea what she means when she says he is frozen. She was so panicked she couldn’t explain. So I said I’d go over and I hung up. I was looking forward to taking my dog to the park this morning.

    I’m on my way over there. I am hungry, too, and I haven’t had breakfast. I’m going to go through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. I can’t face her on an empty stomach.

    I pull into my parent’s drive way. I shove the last bite of my bean and cheese burrito into my mouth and chew quickly. She’s been eyeing my thighs lately and I don’t want a conversation about my eating habits. Mom answers the door, an unusual look on her face, but then she is always dramatic. She once faked a heart attack and called an ambulance because she didn’t like the guy I was going out with that night. The ambulance driver called it. He said, “I think she’s just emotional.”

    “Mom, where’s Dad?” I ask as I walk past her, trying not to make eye contact. I am sure if I look at her I’ll hear how this is my fault- I should have stopped by to see them over the week end. It’s not like I have a husband to spend time with.

    Holy shit. He’s frozen. As in … frozen. “Mom! Why didn’t you call an ambulance?” I yell. I touch him. Ice cold. How did this happen?

    She hasn’t uttered a word. I want to shake her and make her tell me what is going on. I see hot breath. It is coming out of his mouth. Through wordless horror she slips around me and points to his back. There is a note stuck to him: “Katherine Gahl, if you want to save your father, do exactly as I say …”

    • Reaper says:

      Intriguing intro. I like the character study here, that you made me sort of dislike the MC, but at the same time want to like her and hope she grows on me when I see her outside of the relationship with her mother. Though I also liked the way that you showed that she dislikes things about her mother but has many of those same traits, I see a drama queen in the making as much as she resists it. I definitely want to see where this goes.

  23. mykidsareasleep says:

    On the best of days my relationship with my mother is, well, difficult. I’m a loner and she’s a clinger. She wants too much from me and respects me too little. We’ve never really gotten along, but we pretend. It’s what you do for your mom, right?

    She’s panicking. This is not new, she panics if she doesn’t hear from me for a day and a half. I never call her more often than weekly. She panics about her Kindle not turning on and expects me to drop everything and fix it. I don’t own a kindle. I have no idea how they work. She panics … well, you get the picture. No, I’m not the greatest daughter on earth. But I try far more than I’d like to.

    Perhaps I’m not being fair. She’s panicking for a reason. Dad is, apparently, frozen. She said I’ve got to fix this. You should know this about me: I’m in sales. I know not the first thing about bodies or why people freeze up. Why is she not calling a doctor? In her world, I’m the only one who can fix anything. I honestly have no idea what she means when she says he is frozen. At first I thought she meant he was having a stroke, but she insisted that’s not it. Maybe his back gave out again. She was so panicked she couldn’t explain. So I said I’d go over and I hung up. I was looking forward to taking my dog to the park this morning.

    I’m on my way over there. I am hungry, too, and I haven’t had breakfast. When I was in college she used to call at 7 a.m. to make sure I had spent the night in my dorm, ostensibly by myself. I am 35 now and she’s still calling way too early, I think to see if I’m spending the night at home. I get the feeling she’d be happier if I wasn’t home. She is panicked about not having grandchildren, too- yet another thing that I have to do for her. I’m going to go through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. I can’t face her on an empty stomach.

    I pull into my parent’s drive way. I shove the last bite of my bean and cheese burrito into my mouth and chew quickly. She’s been eyeing my thighs lately and I don’t want a conversation about my eating habits. Mom answers the door, an unusual level of terror on her face, but then she is always dramatic. She once faked a heart attack and called an ambulance because she didn’t like the guy I was going out with that night. The ambulance driver called it. He said, “I think she’s just being dramatic.” Those were his exact words.
    “Mom, where’s Dad?” I ask as I walk past her, trying not to make eye contact. I am sure if I look at her I’ll hear how this is my fault- I should have stopped by to see them over the week end and helped with the weeding. It’s not like I have a boyfriend to spend time with or children to take care of.

    Then I see him. Holy shit. He’s frozen. As in … frozen. Like someone stuck him in a freezer kind of frozen. “Mom! Why didn’t you call an ambulance?” I yell. I touch him. Ice cold. How did this happen?

    She hasn’t uttered a word. Yelling at her is my first instinct. I want to shake her and make her tell me what is going on. Through silent tears she slips around me and points to his back. I see breath. Hot breath, like hot breath in the winter air. It is coming out of his mouth. There is a creaking sound. I think it’s coming from his chest He is breathing. Nothing makes sense. I look at his back, where Mom is pointing. There is a note: “Katherine Pierce, if you want to save your father, do exactly as I say …”

  24. THE UNLIKELY TEAM

    It was just another normal day- and by that I mean that I had a few socks missing, I dropped my toothbrush into the toilet and had to rush to the store, and conveniently forgot about the road work and had to wait in line while men in yellow vests leaned lazily against road signs.

    The phone rang, and I dug it out of the cup holder.

    “Yes, Ma? Okay, just calm down… frozen, really? Okay, whatever you say, he’s frozen. Have you tried the hair dryer? Not working? I’ll be home right away. Bye, Ma. Yes, love you too. Bye.”

    That was the daily debacle that I got for it being the weekend. I looked up from the phone to see that we were still in deadlock. The worker had changed shifts with another bulkier guy and he swung his sign towards a dirt road branching off. It seemed an unusual spot for a detour, but I didn’t ask questions. As long as I could console her crazy mind five minutes sooner.

    “Where in the world is this even going?” I asked myself. I went under a hill into a tunnel, but I could see that downtown was just a mile away, so I would be fine.

    Believe me; I was jolted out of my boredom when, in the dim light of the tunnel, I noticed the dead end at the end. Automatically swinging into reverse, I was about to rev back with all the power my foot could muster when a guy stepped behind, waving his cane.

    “Man, meet pavement,” I breathed, and was about to make my getaway when I noticed his outfit.

    “What the—“ My foot left the pedal, and he rushed over to the side of the cab, motioning for me to roll down my window.

    “Okay, where’s the costume contest?”

    “Nope, it’s me, laddie,” he assured with a toothy grin and a stab with his pipe.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me. He is a fictional character, for crying out loud!”

    “You mean I’m a fictional character.”

    “Okay, whatever, just tell me to get out of here.” I tapped the wheel.

    “I’m sorry, but you can’t leave yet. Your father is in desperate danger,” said a musky voice from behind him.
    The English chap turned around and my mouth flew open so big his fist could’ve fit in there.

    “Oh, sorry, I don’t think we’ve met properly. The name’s Bruce.”

    “Um, yes, I think I know you already.” I tried to secretly pinch myself, but Sherlock noticed and chuckled.

    “The earth’s not what it seems anymore. Do come inside. We’ve got some sleuthing to do!”

    I reluctantly popped open the car door and followed the duo into some rear room, where Watson was waiting under a lamp with a bulky folder.

    “By the way, did you go to Hawaii last summer, do you play baseball in your spare time, is your favorite color yellow, and did you have a banana before you left?” Holmes nonchalantly sat.

    “Yes to all of them.” The creep must have inspected my car. I slid into the wooden chair.

    “Well then, now we know you a little better.” Watson sat up straight. “But, getting down to brass tacks, your father is in desperate danger. He has been frozen by a force of—“

    “Well, what he’s trying to say,” Bruce interrupted, “is that he has been frozen by a force of—“

    “Snow monsters,” Watson finished, with a glare at Batman. “And so, the next logical step would be to rescue him.”

    “So, why don’t you… just rescue him? And I can go to the store.”

    Holmes bit the end of his pipe, thinking, and then set it down. “I’m afraid you don’t understand quite yet. We need your specific… talents to unfreeze him.”

    “Excuse me?”

    I heard the door burst open behind me, and their expressions changed to alarm. Swinging around, I saw two evil monsters raise their clubs and lunge for our gathering.

    Sherlock grabbed an umbrella from the corner and fired twice. Both of them collapsed in a heap of snow with a puff.

    “Always loved the umbrella gun. Grab the rifles from the closet! There’s more bound to come.”

    Watson threw two rifles at each of us, the barrel landing awkwardly in my arms. I had never known how to use a gun, but when confronted with an enemy my instincts made me learn. Within a few minutes, all of their frosty attacks had been beat off, and we cleared out the garage outside.

    “I think we got them all. Pretty close one, though.”

    I wiped my sleeve, but looking up my expression paled at the empty parking spot.

    “My car!”

    “Don’t worry about that,” Batman said. “We’ll just take mine.”

    I paused. “Wait, I get to ride in the Batmobile itself?!” He nodded gruffly.

    “Shotgun!” Watson ran for the curb as if pursued by demons.

    “Wait up!” Holmes called, hobbling along. “And, by the way Bruce, does the tea maker in there still work?”

    (Ladies and gents, my weird side is officially back. GH)

    • Reaper says:

      Mr. Baggins, I don’t really know what I just read but I enjoyed every second of it. I keep hearing this in my head.

      You can’t make me look! I’ll just shut my eyes.
      Oh, you’ll open them. You have to breath sometime.
      No, I – Wait… What do eyes have to do with breathing?

      I love Invader Zim and that is the rabbit hole I just followed you down.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Hello, Bilbo. Reads like you had one to many before you went to bed. I thought it a lot of fun running with Bat, Watson and Sherlock. The killer to the whole story and summing up your delirious insanity was,
        “And by the way Bruce, does the tea maker in there still work?”

      • Reaper- I don’t really know what I just wrote, either. It’s just… something. But, glad you enjoyed it nonetheless.

        Kerry- Hello again to you as well. Thanks, I can spot a few mistakes in it, but altogether glad it put the insanity across. The idea of Sherlock battling snow monsters just popped into my head, and wouldn’t leave.

  25. john godfrey says:

    That’s Super!

    I sighed as I put my phone back into its cradle. My mother had just finished telling me my father had been frozen, as in encased in a block of ice. I told her, hiding the reluctance in my voice, that I would take care of it. Unfortunately for me, that would mean I would have to deal with…her. It was something I had been dreading since the words of encouragement had come out of my mouth.

    We all have bad ex-lover stories, don’t we? The crazy cat-lovers, the uptight religious-types…the list could go on and on. Well, I think I’ve topped the list with my worst ex-girlfriend: a superheroine with the power to do practically anything. Think of Superman, except with breasts and a bitter attitude about heartbreak.

    She claimed I had broken her heart, but how could I? It was freakin’ impenetrable, that was one of her powers. Ever since our bitter break-up, she had been striking back at me: two weeks ago, she melted my cat with heat vision. Last week, she lifted my car from the ground and flew it to Tokyo (leaving me with a hell of a lot of unpaid parking tickets). Now, she had frozen my father with her freezing breath. What could possibly be next?

    I grabbed my car keys, found a sweatshirt to cover my Batman t-shirt (also a former boyfriend, she claimed he was too moody) and set out to confront my former girlfriend. Driving my parent’s minivan, which I knew would not get me any phone numbers from cute girls; I drove north of the city, where I knew her headquarters were. At its highest point, it went above the clouds, something I saw immediately as I turned on to the narrow road that would lead me to it. It was made up completely of crystal, and in the setting sun, it was beautiful.

    Suddenly, a large piece of crystal came flying at my car, and I narrowly dodged it with a yell of surprise. Another followed, and after it was thrown, I could see my ex, hovering 100 feet above the ground, chucking them at me. I realized she had seen me coming with her heightened vision, and prepared an attack. I stopped my Volvo with a screech, and hopped out of the car, waving my arms towards the sky.
    “Sara! Please! Stop, I just want to talk!” I screamed to the sky desperately. I saw her slowly begin to drift towards the ground. However, she still launched a final piece of crystal at my car, crushing it with a pitiful crunch.

    Head in my hands, I heard her land on the ground with a powerful thump. The landing sent me flying to the ground. She began walking towards me, boots drumming on the concrete.

    “What do you want, Mark?” she said, her eyes turning red with the approaching heat vision.

    “Sara, please, calm down. I’ve come to ask you to unfreeze my father. This silly revenge against me has to stop. We broke up, like, a month ago.”

    “You left me, Mark! I came home after a ferocious battle with Mister Fist to find all of your stuff gone, your comic book collection missing and a note on the table with a quick “You were super!” scrawled on it. That wasn’t even funny.”

    “I never meant to hurt you, Sara.” I said, suddenly noticing that she had lifted me up into the sky and had one muscled hand clenching the collar of my shirt.

    “Well, you are almost as good at doing that as the Hulk. You know he wasn’t the most gentle of lovers.”

    “I know. Listen, Sara…maybe we could try it again. I miss you, and I know you miss not spending your nights terrorizing me, you’d rather be saving the world.”

    Her face lit up. She was so beautiful when she wasn’t throwing chunks of crystal at me.

    “Really?” she asked hopefully. “You won’t leave this time?

    Noticing us gently falling to the ground, I nodded. “Cross my heart.”

    We got to the ground, and we embraced. I lost my breath for a moment because of the super strength, but regained it once it was done.

    “Let’s go unfreeze my dad, okay?” I asked hopefully.

    “Sure.” she said with a grin. Suddenly, she frowned. “I have something I’ve been meaning to tell you, Mark.”

    “What is it, baby?”

    “I’m pregnant.”

    I said the first thing that came to my mouth, which wasn’t what came to my mind: “That’s super!”

    “Actually, he is.”

    Flying off into the sunset with my girlfriend, all I could do was curse myself with those famous words: Without a condom comes great responsibility.

  26. lionetravail says:

    “Cthul Who?”

    It was December 13, 1923, the year Coolidge conveniently succeeded to the Presidency after Harding had conveniently died while in office. My mother had called in a panic, and it took 3 tries to calm her down to get the message in the clear: dad had been frozen solid while out turkey hunting on their farm in rural Connecticut.

    Not only was that sort of thing not supposed to happen outside of H.G. Wells stories, it shouldn’t have happened even in one of them- not to my father.

    My name is Glade, Gordon Glade, and I’m a gumshoe in Manhattan, and I knew about stuff like that. You might not think it to look at me: I’m a tall drink of water, brown hair graying at the temples prematurely, and I look pretty ordinary and conservative in my working suit. But I’d been around the block, been in more than my fair share of fisticuffs, and ate trouble for breakfast as long as it was washed down by Joe, Black.

    And among the things I’d run across was a possible- scratch that- a definite cause for what had happened to my father. I hadn’t expected it: maybe I should’ve.

    I’d been hired by a client to snoop for his disappeared daughter. I’d done 3 months on the case before finding out she’d joined a cult, and the whole thing had smelled worse than 4 day old mackerel. I’d broken her out, but she hadn’t thanked me for it. In the course of that caper, I’d stashed her at my folks’ place for a few days while I worked the cult. I’d learned that they were so off the level that they worshipped some kind of ancient god whose pictures looked like giant with red, glowy eyes, who seemed to walk among the clouds.

    I’d finally gotten the client’s daughter back to Daddy Warbucks, and was back to tailing wayward husbands. Just the other day, however, I’d read the client’s obit in the Times: I figured the Jane hadn’t ever got her act cleaned up and was maybe back with the cult and looking to even up with me.

    I thought about what my research in the weeks after the job had turned up: a whole lot of zilch except a novel by a guy named Blackwood from 1910, which had described a supernatural figure of evil called “Ithaqua”, whose main shenanigans were to do with cold in his incarnation as the “Windwalker”.

    I poured 2 fingers of scotch and drank. Maybe this cult had some real power, beyond explanation; the attack on dad would suggest it, and make it my fault into the bargain. Maybe I owed them a big fat lip, I thought. Maybe, just maybe, I’d have to get a little dirty on this one.

    If the daughter was nasty in this up to her eyeballs, she needed to be zotzed; maybe a whole bunch of cultists needed to be zotzed.

    I strapped my .38 special to my belt, and a holdout .25 to my ankle, and knew the usual rules were going to have to take a long walk off a short pier- this whole eclair had just gotten personal, and those cultists had better have access to a whole bunch of wooden kimonos if they knew what was good for them.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Great opening in a Sam Spade way, It was a treat reading though the forties. I was there, but only as a kid. Still, it rings true and is a refreshing trip to the world of gumshoes, dames and gats. You left me at the bridge however and you better bring forth the sequel if you know what’s good for you. Do you dig me on this?

      • lionetravail says:

        I read you like a dime novel, Kerry. And I’m an egg who really knows his onions- I’m all over this, like a lush on the giggle water!

        (I really appreciate the nice thoughts… I’m working on something along these lines, and could use a test reader at some point, if you have any interest.)

    • jmcody says:

      Lionetravail, I always like your stuff, and this is no exception. You stayed convincingly in the voice of a 40s New York gumshoe, which I is think is what you intended. When I saw the 1923 date at the top, I thought I was going to hear something more Fitzgerald/Jazz Age. (I got kind of excited about that because I recently went through a big Fitzgerald phase.)

      No matter, it was still great. Maybe you’ll write something jazz-age next??? (Do you take requests?) :)

      • lionetravail says:

        You are too kind, jmcody! Thanks; I’ve been doing research, actually- most of that slang and detective work really does go back to the 1920’s: Dashiel Hammett wrote a bunch of novels between 1929 and 1934, and most of his stories took place in the bootlegging days of the 1920’s, including the world famous “The Maltese Falcon”.

        On the other hand, I’d have to do some research to do justice to the jazz-age, but I absolutely take requests! How immensely flattering- thank you so, so much.

    • Reaper says:

      This was a thing of beauty. Then it comes to Cthulu I am always iffy because I love the mythos but always find myself wanting when I read Lovecraft or someone who imitates him too closely. So the way you went with this got me hopping around and loving it. I could clearly hear the narration from movies that have a similar voice for the gum shoe. Just gorgeous. As soon as I read the line about H.G. Wells stories I imagined people jumping off buildings because they though aliens were coming and realized I better strap in for the ride. Glad I did because you set my expectations high with that, then delivered even better than I was hoping for.

      • lionetravail says:

        Wow, thank you so much for the compliments! From the talented community here, it means so much. And yeah, I’m going to explore this one a little further :) Lots of fun to write in this voice, since I, too, can hear it in my head so clearly.

        And thank you, Silver Sister!

    • Silver Sister says:

      The language in this story had a tempo and vibrancy that is impressive. This truly took me to another place and time. Thanks for the trip!

    • madeindetroit says:

      Loved the Chandler-type take on the prompt.
      Your story details are vivid.
      Loved the choice of name for MC: Gordan Glade.
      I could read more!

  27. Silver Sister says:

    I flipped, pushed off the wall, and slithered through the water. As I raised my head to snatch a breath, my husband appeared. He squatted as I approached the shallow end. “Your mother called. She said Dad’s frozen.”

    I recoiled into the warm water. “How did she sound?”

    “Mostly fine. Slightly rattled.”

    I waded to the steps. Zachary enveloped me in a warm towel. “We can be there in, what, forty minutes?”

    “Yes.” I kissed him. “Thank you.”

    We found them in the kitchen. Dad’s right arm extended to the cabinet, reaching for a juice glass. His image was frozen in place.

    Mom’s shoulders sagged with relief. “Lila! Thank God. You can fix him, right?”

    “I’ll run a diagnostic, but I’m confident it’s nothing serious.”

    “Is this because of the upgrades you did last night?”

    Irrational guilt crowded me. “Yes, but I will fix it.”

    “Maybe we shouldn’t do those anymore.”

    “His files will deteriorate if we stop.”

    “All our files deteriorate, hon. Sooner or later.”

    I looked to Zachary. He touched Mom’s arm. “Let’s sit on the porch and let Lila concentrate. You haven’t told me about your plans for Aunt Martha’s visit, yet.”. He guided her toward the door.

    “You’re the best,” I mouthed. He nodded.

    A few keystrokes later, I found the glitch. It would take about twenty minutes to get Dad running again.

    This is my life’s work. I started a company which creates holograms of substance. My patented holograms include matter, so one can touch, feel and fully interact with them. Most of fortune derives from medical applications. Med students hone their surgical skills with my holograms. I figured if I could enable a surgeon to heal a fake heart, maybe I could heal my mother’s real one.

    My father abandoned us during Mom’s second trimester. She worked three jobs to put me through college and grad school. She encouraged me to start my own company instead of fattening someone else’s wallet. Just when she could relax and her life could be her own again, Mom suffered a stroke. Her speech is good, but she walks with a cane. One side of her face droops, which makes her self-conscious. She’s always been shy, anyway. So it surprised me when she once admitted her biggest regret was not marrying.

    “It would’ve been nice to know someone on that level. And have them know me.”

    Because of Zachary, I know that security. I met my husband when he consulted on the neurological hologram. I have my amazing career because of my education. And I received my education through Mom’s sacrifices. It felt wrong to enjoy my embarrassment of riches while she had so little. So I decided to share the wealth.

    Mom was skeptical at first. Now, she’s happier than ever. I know it’s unconventional, but their relationship is actually healthier than many 100% human couples. Besides, nobody has lost perspective. We all know who and what Dad is.

    I restarted him. His eyes lit with a smile when he saw me. It was a trick if light – triggered by facial recognition software. Still, I smiled back.

    “Hey, kiddo! Didn’t hear you come in.” He widened his arms. “Everything going good?”

    I walked into his hug. “Everything’s just fine, now.”

    • Critique says:

      Med students honing their craft on holograms? I liked the emotional warmth permeating the story and generous heart of the daughter.

      • Critique says:

        A novel idea for med students I should add :)

        • Silver Sister says:

          Thanks! Because I had already blown past 500 words I couldn’t explain her ‘holograms of substance’ feel like real patients. Or that she programs them to have the complications that arise during surgery. That’s why she’s so wealthy and can build a hubby for mom with all the expenses that entails.

          Yeah, kinda lame. I already sat out two prompts, though and absolutely refused to make it three. :)

    • snuzcook says:

      Wonderful story, SilverSister. The hologram premise is delightful and if only it were already possible! I think my very favorite part was the last line. To me it clearly showed that she had build herself a father that she needed as much as a husband for her lonely mom.

      • Silver Sister says:

        So glad you said that, snuzcook! In the beginning, I think Lila truly meant for it to be just about Mom, but gradually took the opportunity to have what she missed, too.

    • lionetravail says:

      What a compelling MC, SS! :) I think her sweetness is manifested most in the last line, when she walks into her hologram, computerized father’s hug, considerate of his programmed feelings.

    • jmcody says:

      Sister (may I call you sister?), you are one of my favorites here because your stories always have a shimmering thread of humanity running through them. You protagonists are always very real, flawed but highly sympathetic people that I would like to know. Your writing is very thoughtful, down to the smallest word choices. (I noticed “slithered” and “snatched” in this one.) Nice job, as always.

      • Silver Sister says:

        Just didn’t want you to you to think I ignored you. My reply posted at the top. Neither my smartphone nor I are very smart in the wee hours of the morning. :)

    • Reaper says:

      Mom breaks my heart. I was expecting a very different MC because of the reaction to everyone’s file’s getting corrupted. That was a lovely bit of wording by the way. This is just beautiful, and maybe it’s because I watched a lot of Red Dwarf but the image of the holograms with substance needed no explanation for me. I assumed they were like the hard light holograms in that show, but where you could access their insides. I’m with jmcody on the humanity and your inspired word choices.

      • Silver Sister says:

        Ahh, thanks for commenting on the files! I must say, I liked that, too. As for her reaction, I see the MC as not ready to face further decline on her mother’s part or the eventual loss of her ‘dad’. Maybe there’s a little bit of she’s brilliant and doesn’t like to be second guessed – but mainly the other. Thanks for the shout out to humanity & word play. I’m still feeling my way around, but I’m learning a lot here! :)

    • agnesjack says:

      The idea of the holograms of substance was fascinating and creative, but what I really enjoyed about this story was the fact that it was so full of kindness and love. Very nice.

    • madeindetroit says:

      What a great take on the prompt. Holograms!
      Wish I’d thought of this story.
      Your MC is a creative genius with a heart.
      Love reading these kinds of stories.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Great take on the prompt! Loved it!

  28. AlienAlmanac says:

    T-minus 20 minutes

    “Mom? What’s wrong?” I can hear her sobbing on the other end of the phone.

    “Your father is…frozen,” she sniffled. “They froze him.”

    “I know, Mom. But you were supposed to be with him.”

    “I just couldn’t do it. I’m sorry…I just couldn’t.”

    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it. I’ll be over in a moment.”

    T-minus 16 minutes

    The door to my parent’s apartment slid open automatically in a rush as I approached. I found my mother locked in the bathroom crying. I quickly checked the lifepod and looked through the thick poly-glass. My father’s eyes were closed as if resting peacefully. I touched the glass and a screen showing all his vitals appeared. Everything was normal.

    I knocked on the bathroom door. “Mom, it’s me. You have to do this.”

    “I can’t do it, Jeremy. It’s not right.”

    “Mom, it’s perfectly natural to have second thoughts. Please come out. There isn’t much time.”

    T-minus 12 minutes

    The door finally unlatched and she shuffled out of the bathroom. Her eyes were swollen and red. She wore the silver and blue thinsulate suit. She must have backed out at the last moment. As soon as she came out, we hugged. I felt her trembling.

    “What if I don’t wake up?” she asked.

    “Mom, we’ve been through this a million times. It’s perfectly safe like taking a nap,” I said.

    “People are saying it’ll fail and are choosing to stay. They say awful things about you.”

    I chuckled. “I’m sure I’ve heard them all.”

    T-minus 8 minutes

    “Mom, look at me.” I fought back the tears as best I could. “You were the one that encouraged me to find a solution. You had faith in me. You trusted me then. Trust me now. I want to know that you’ll be there when I wake up.”

    Tears rolled down her cheeks. Her blue eyes glistened and she finally nodded.

    T-minus 4 minutes

    I led her by the hand and helped her into the lifepod. She leaned back as I secured the straps over her shoulders, around her waist, and through her legs. The straps locked into a round buckle at the center of her torso. The hatch closed softly and sealed her inside.

    T-minus 2 minutes

    I jumped into the third lifepod. I fumbled with the straps and buckles as the timer dropped under a minute. I thought I’d have more time. The hatch closed over me. I pressed several virtual buttons to initiate the sequence. There was no turning back now.

    10…9…8…7…

    Suddenly, my mother’s face was at the polyglass looking at me with tears. “Mom!”

    She mouthed ‘I love you’ then stepped away.

    “Mom!”

    6…5…4…3…

    A value released a priming gas and filled the capsule. I couldn’t stop it. I was instantly asleep.

    2..1..

    …Cryogenic Sequence Complete…

    • Dennis says:

      Really liked this, a new twist. I liked the countdown. Felt the urgency of the moment.

    • I have to admit, this was an idea I hadn’t thought of. Good job.

    • Kemter says:

      Woah, hello! From the beginning your countdown had me hooked. And I recently read a thing about writing (I don’t remember what) that said backstories shouldn’t be just laid out there because the audience would lose interest. Well I wondered how else you could bring in a complicated backstory and then Boom, this piece. Muy bien compadre, very well done

    • jmcody says:

      Very clever response. Unlike me, you stuck to all the conditions of the prompt — it was your fault, and you knew how to stop it. In this case, you just chose not to. Well conceived and plotted story, with a nice twist.

    • Amyithist says:

      Have you ever read Blake Crouch’s book Pine or Wayward? This oozes the same grab-you-by-the-entrails creepiness. Very well done. I wasn’t sure I was going to read prompts, but you managed to pull me in and keep me glued to the story. I enjoyed your take! :)

    • Silver Sister says:

      Wow, this was good. The story moved along with urgency and tension. I could clearly see the mom’s face in the glass. All around good read.

      • snuzcook says:

        Wonderfully well crafted to contain a suspenseful story within not only a short word limit but an imposed short time limit. I hadn’t expected the twist at the end. Nicely done.

    • lionetravail says:

      Very cool, as others have said. Effective character development under the gun of the story’s clock- I really got the sense of mom’s dilemma, and the MC’s personal tragedy, and in such a short answer to the prompt. Nice work!

    • Reaper says:

      Like others I love the count down and how you used it. Very creative take. I am curios what the solution is to. It is not missing but I want to know. I feel bad for the MC and while I understand kind of dislike the mother for the lack of faith. That’s going to be a terrible waking if it happens. Beautifully written.

      There is a moment in here when mom is wondering about what if she doesn’t wake up. It reminded me in a round about way of the kid in “The Jaunt” if the motivations and lead up had been explored.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Interesting take on the prompt! Great post!

  29. snuzcook says:

    This was my thought when I read the prompt, and I afraid someone else might take it before I got a chance to post. Just a light-hearted approach this time around.

    CONSEQUENCES

    “What’s wrong?”

    My step-mother was sobbing into the phone. Even after a decade in the Pacific Northwest, her Gillikin accent was strong as she choked out the words: “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.”

    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”

    “But what can you do?” She was still crying as I ended the call.

    I felt sorry for her. Dad should have revealed his condition to her long ago and saved her the surprise. But this episode, I knew, was entirely my fault.

    I stepped over the luggage I had left in the hall when I got home last night. I had been gone too long this trip.
    I thought it would be all right, but I had clearly been gone a day too long.

    The key on the chain around my neck fit into the hidden lock of the cabinet by my bed. A breath of winter poppies exhaled from it as I opened the doors, and I was momentarily distracted. I reached in and pulled out a cloth-wrapped bundle.

    Mom opened the door when I arrived five minutes later. Her eyes were puffy and her nose was red from crying. “Oh, Dee, it’s terrible.”

    “I know. Where is he?”

    “He’s in the shower. I…I put a robe on him. I couldn’t budge him. “

    She followed me into the bathroom. Dad was there, one arm outstretched toward the nozzle, the other clutching a bar of soap. His robe was cinched around him.

    I climbed into the shower stall with him, turned on the hot water faucet, and held the bundle I was carrying under the tap. Mom sat on the rose-colored toilet lid cover looking miserable.

    “So, Mom, what makes you say this was a spell? Did you see something, or did he say something to you?” My mother blushed the color of the toilet lid.

    “Well, you know how your father is. With the house to ourselves, we were… well, in the shower together…you know. And suddenly he made an odd, moaning sound. I didn’t realize there was anything wrong at first.”

    I found myself wanting to giggle despite the situation, but I focused on the task at hand.

    “He started saying ‘That witch! That witch!’ and I didn’t know what he meant. Then he said ‘A spell’ and those were the last words he spoke.” She unwound a handful of toilet paper and dabbed her eyes.

    I turned off the hot water and unwrapped the antique oil can. I began anointing my father’s neck bones, the base of his skull and his jaw with honey-colored squirts of the special formula Glinda had provided.

    Realization hit my mother about the time my father began to move his jaw slightly. “Oh, Dee!” she said.
    “Those massage treatments you give him every couple of weeks were never for his arthritis, were they?”

    “Maw mouf,” Dad squeaked rustily. I squirted his jaw again. It was just like being back in Oz.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      This is a fun and extremely clever response to the prompt. I can visualize the daughter crammed in a three by three shower with her Father, while the Mother looks on. All three of them soaking wet, The mom from tears and the daughter and dad covered in hot water and icky magic stuff from the can. The last line is a treasure. What fun.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Kerry. Looking back, I see so many opportunities missed to deepen the story. The water could have been woven into symbolism of the theme–which unfortunately I never thought about until I read your comment; Gillikins are supposed to be all about the color purple, which I didn’t use at all.

        Glad you enjoyed it!

    • jmcody says:

      Can I just say it: “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

      Very clever, and well written, with so many small clues. I like that you called the MC “Dee.” I learn something new on this forum every week, and today I found out what a Gillikin accent is.

      I got excited about the paragraph with the key around her neck and the locked cabinet and the “breath of winter poppies exhaled from it as I opened the doors.” It sounded like something magical was coming.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, JM! I wasn’t sure if anyone would do a search on ‘Gillikin’ so I was taking a chance with that huge clue so early in the story. But the prompt’s verbage was so awkward and I decided to keep it verbatim, so I felt compelled to explain her turn of phrase. (PS I just did a quick search on the phrase ‘Gillikin accent’ and was shocked to find that my story showed up! I guess the rarity of the phrase put it at the top of the search heap. Interesting to know that our stories can be accessed that way.)

    • Dennis says:

      Another fun take on the prompt. Well written with lots of subtle clues.

    • Ha! :-) Nice idea, snuzcook. I liked the poppies part too.

    • Kemter says:

      Haha this take on the prompt was brilliant, I honestly didn’t see the Oz reveal coming until the end, at which point the whole story clicked for me. And along the way I was sorry for the MC, I loved her quirky mother, I blushed at her explanation of what happened, and then I had to read it all again seeing all the Oz hints along the way.
      Loved it

    • Amyithist says:

      This was a great story. Humorous and serious all at the same time. Well done.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Fun idea! You did so much with the word count. This one made me smile.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, SS! BTW–it’s interesting that I have had three totally independent Oz references pop up in other people’s comments to me this week. Must be something in the air…

    • lionetravail says:

      I love the inventiveness that saw an opportunity in a classic story, and took it somewhere new. How else did “Wicked” become the hit it did? Fun stuff, Snuzcook, and nicely done with the reveal!

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, lionetravail. In my earlier posts to this site it seemed like most of my stories were firmly planted in cultural icons–the Easter Bunny, Santa, etc. Sometimes the prompt just resonates for me in those classics and this one clearly did.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was so imaginative. I must have seen the Wizard of Oz movie a million times, but some people aren’t aware that there were many Oz stories and that Dorothy went back and forth. I like how you put that in the beginning — when she says she had been away too long this time. You had so many wonderful hints throughout: the poppy scent, Gilliken, of course, but I didn’t really catch on until the lines about the witch. I really liked this, snuzcook.

    • Reaper says:

      I am sitting here applauding in a room by myself. Thankfully I’m alone so I don’t look completely insane. I missed every clue until the oil can and then I got it. When I was a kid my grandmother used to loan me books from the Oz series so I should have caught it but it has been years and this was well done. I was thinking what agnesjack said about the number of books, and the staying away too long. That you managed to include so many small details like the unwinding a handful of toilet paper when you put so much into the clues, your attention to detail never ceases to amaze me. I have to make special mention of loving that you placed this in the Pacific Northwest, nice way to work in the Emerald City without ever saying it outright.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks, Reaper! (Love the image of you sitting in a room by yourself applauding!) Great catch on the Emerald City reference. Living in the shadow of the Space Needle, that’s a given.
        I was also going for the very obtuse hint that everything rusts easily in the PNW, but then the shower kind of overpowered that hint.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Oh, this was such a cute and original idea! Loved it!

  30. Kera says:

    A keening screech sets in over my morning haze, I groan and open myself to the world outside of my closed eyes and mind. I was having a dream about my hands being cold, painfully cold.
    The cell phone releases another repulsive sound, it makes my ears pound and the dryness in my mouth smart for whatever reason.
    I don’t look at the caller ID.
    “Hello?”
    A sobbing voice howls in pain and despair, I look at the caller ID and nearly punch myself in the side of the head when I read who’s on the other line.
    “Mom? … What’s wrong?”
    For a moment I feel the world go quiet as she draws in a heavy quaking breath, I can picture her at the kitchen counter with the wall phone pressed to her cheek as her left hand wavers above her chest, coaching those lungs in her chest to do their job. But then I remember I’m only seventeen and boyfriend du jour took me out last night to get heavily intoxicated at a friends house. I look over at the sleeping boyfriend. We’re at his place.
    That’s why she’s crying, because I didn’t come home and wasn’t answering the phone. Before I even start spewing facts about a friend needing help cramming for a test Monday she speaks with a tiny voice.
    “Lindi, it’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s frozen solid.”
    There’s another moment of worldly silence. My thoughts go to the first time I froze a door knob with a single touch, and then to all of the other times I tested the ability out and managed to somehow curb it and control it. But wait… a spell? Why in the world would it be a spell, and how would my mom know?
    In a deeper, hopeful, and probably wayward portion of my head I know I can somehow reverse it.
    I mean, if I can freeze shit I should be able to unfreeze it right?
    Jace squirms when I sit up and start pulling a pair of pants on.
    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”
    Standing up I draw in a heavy breath, the air grows crisp with a shuddering freeze that radiates off of my skin. The telephone screen collects a thin film of ice over it as I stare curiously at it for a moment. I focus on pulling the ice into me.
    Nothing happens.
    “Well crap.”
    “W-what?”
    “Nothing go to sleep.”
    The doorknob makes a sad cry when I grab and pull, leaving an iced over hand print on it.

    • Kera says:

      Re-reading again I realize there are holes in the story, for example I left out where it would be questioned how she managed to freeze her father even though she was being a no good teenager all night. Thanks for reading if you did!

      • gamingtheblues says:

        First, as the resident big mouth, I would like to welcome you (if you are new, and a huge apology if you are not) to our little corner of the writing interweb.

        Secondly, you are beating yourself up in terms of holes in the story over nothing, especially for the one you mention. The “how’ is immaterial, especially in such a short format. I found your voice, so to speak, to flow naturally and you have some nice moments of semi-humor that help keep the reader’s attention and interest.

        That being said, this story could stand for a small amount of editing. Nothing major, but a few words that create awkward phrasing here and there.

        I hope that you, as well as all new members to the prompts will keep posting new work, take any criticisms and compliments alike in good spirit as everyone here only wants to help, and don’t forget to comment on stories that touch you either good or bad. I enjoyed reading this story and look forward to more of your work.

    • snuzcook says:

      I like the premise for your story, Kera. And I did wonder at her freezing him even tho she was absent, but I was willing to suspend my questions to see what would happen next. After all, if your MC could freeze things, maybe someone else could too. Or maybe she could freeze things remotely in her dreams? She appears to have lost control of her ability as she gets dressed and leaves. You left a good question–will she be able to undo it?

    • jmcody says:

      You’re off to a great start. This is engaging and makes me want to know more, which is an accomplishment. Handled properly, holes in the beginning of a story are an effective way to get people to keep reading. Great job!

    • Dennis says:

      I enjoyed the descriptive language. I too agree the hole didn’t affect the story, only made me want to know more. That could be a bigger piece of the story that will be revealed later. I also like that we are left wondering what will happen.

    • Nice work. GTB has already done the welcoming, so no need for me to. And, yes, he is the resident big mouth. :-) As for the hole, I actually didn’t notice it the first time but now re-reading I can see it. No worries there, however. I just want to see what happens next…

    • agnesjack says:

      Always love to see a new participant here. Welcome.

      I thought your story was very engaging and I was curious, also, about what would happen next. I thought you had some nice turns of phrase. The fact that you reread after posting and had some qualms just showed that you cared about what was presented and wanted your story to be clear. Looking forward to your next post, kera.

    • Reaper says:

      Welcome Kera. I’m going to say it even though GTB did. Seeing people say he already did it makes me think if I invite this crowd to my birthday I’m only getting one gift. I mean everyone will show up with one but see gamingtheblues put his on the table and take their back out to the car. ;)

      I agree that this wasn’t a hole. I assumed someone else did it or she lost control of her power and we’d find out which if the story continued. If not we see the focus of the story which is the girl who is still learning about her power. The father and what happened to him was a tool for her story so it was well done.

      I noticed the words that GTB did as well, despite that your voice is amazing. It was defined for me by the line “But then I remember I’m only seventeen and” as I thought, who the hell remembers they are their age? Then a second later, oh right, teenagers do that. Your character was well developed and I wanted to see more.

    • stoland1999 says:

      You did a fine job! Good detail that lends the reader a sense of the characters and background within the word limit. It’s supposed to be a snapshot of a greater story and you did well in giving the reader that impression. Get them hooked in the beginning and then leave them wanting more.

  31. Kemter says:

    Ahh! sorry everybody the first post of this story went through before I could fix all the formatting. Just ignore that one please! Rookie mistake

    this is the one that’s easier to read

    Alexandra hung up and threw her cell phone at the dorm wall, not caring when the screen shattered into crystalline pieces on her floor.

    “You’re a jackass Sam!” she shrieked at the ceiling in her empty room.

    A cool laughter drew her attention to her roommate’s previously vacant bed.

    “You’re adorable when you’re angry baby,” Sam leaned against the wall, resting his hands behind his short, snowy spiked hair. His dark Levi’s contrasted with the sheets he had kicked both legs up onto while a green long-sleeve shirt accentuated his pale, chiseled form.

    “Unfreeze him now,” Alexandra’s mane of fiery curls quivered with building fury.

    Sam shrugged, “not my department babe, you know that.”

    He was up in a second; dodging a mug full of pens he’d given Alexandra for Valentine’s Day as it smashed into the wall by his head.

    ‘You Melt My Heart’, it had said.

    He looked at the pieces on the floor with frank disappointment.

    “I don’t know what’s more upsetting,” he complained, “the fact that you broke this or used it as a pen holder. I’m better than a freaking pen holder aren’t I?”

    Sam smiled cockily up at her, walking around her roommate’s bed to stand at the foot of her own. He raked his eyes over her wire-thin build covered by a midnight blue tank top and red Soffe Shorts. Screeching in frustration as all control she had over her temper burnt to ash, Alexandra dove for him.

    Sam caught her around the waist in the air, his hands sizzling as they touched the bare skin under her scrunched up shirt. At this temperature anything she touched would burst into flame.

    Besides him of course
    .
    “You’re so hot, you’ll set the room on fire,” he chuckled in her ear, planting a kiss on the base of her neck that sent ice shooting through Alexandra’s veins, “why don’t you use all this pent up aggression to fix your father?”

    “I hate you,” Alexandra sighed, relaxing against his frosty frame as Sam’s kiss cooled her boiling blood, “I told you I didn’t want to learn how to control this—this whatever. I don’t want any part of it.”

    He continued to bring down her temperature by tracing a line from her ear to the corner of her mouth with his nose.

    “And I told you that was impossible. And then you burned down my apartment—consider this payback baby,” Sam retorted softly.

    Alexandra couldn’t help but laugh, turning quickly within the circle of Sam’s arms to look up at him. She folded her hands behind his neck, venting just a little heat to thaw his chilly demeanor and throw him slightly off-balance.

    “You’ve scared my mother half to death,” she smiled into his crystalized blue eyes.

    Sam moaned as the only being in the world that could make him feel warm radiated in his arms, “then let’s go tell her there’s nothing to worry about.”

    Alexandra’s peal of laughter hung frozen in the air long after she jumped, wrapping her legs around Sam’s waist as he evaporated them both out of the room.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      This was amazing. My hand feels scorched from the mouse. Very realistic depiction of the passion between two… elementals? people? This is gutsy to write on this forum where most people eschew romantic passion for whatever reason. Very much a bravo.

    • jmcody says:

      Talk about opposites attracting! That was some volatile, scorching passion that you just know isn’t going to end well, but is going to be that once in a lifetime relationship against which all future relationships will be judged. This is the kind of couple that is doomed to go down in flames. The intense forces that drew them together will be the same ones that destroy them. Hot stuff! Phew!

    • snuzcook says:

      You story has a wonderful energy and movement to it, very seductive in a sensual rather than sexual way. Well done!

    • Dennis says:

      Definitely like the opposites attracted theme (living in the same room, whew!). I like that Sam causes the freezing to get Alexandra to start dealing with who she is and to learn to work with her “talents.”

      • Kemter says:

        Thank you all for reading this one! It was so much fun to write (not because of the romance and you know…stuff). At first I didn’t even think Alexandra and Sam would like each other, I thought they would be cranky X’s. But then, as I wrote each to mirror their respective element, this attraction showed up that I couldn’t ignore and it took the story in a whole new direction! So again, thank you for reading it, I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was to write

    • agnesjack says:

      Very engaging read, full of energy, so to speak, and passion.

    • Reaper says:

      I have to conditionally agree with GTB. This took guts, not because it’s a romance story though. I see a lot of romantics on here, just usually in the background. This is racy and passionate and to write that is always risky no matter the forum you present it in. That passion so raw and intense that attraction exists even in the moments of fighting. You did it well and it is a hard one. Refreshing take on this prompt and your writing fills a void because of that risk. I also think jmcody is probably right. This romance will burn hot then cool off and melt to steam. However the interplay was so perfect that I find myself rooting for these star crossed lovers, because they are so opposite, so intense, that there is a one in a million chance that the elements combine and rather than exploding slowly come together in a love that is like tempered iron. That I presume one but can see both makes this story very touching as well as passionate.

      • jmcody says:

        Wow, that was incredibly romantic! You are a man of surprises, Reaper. Now I feel my comments were so jaded by comparison! :)

        • Reaper says:

          *looks around quickly to make sure noone heard that* Shhh. No romantic here, just blood, pain and darkness! I do tend to hope for the best when people write love outside of romance novels though, because I know any romance in my stories is doomed.

  32. Kemter says:

    Alexandra hung up and threw her cell phone at the dorm wall, not caring when the screen shattered into crystalline pieces on her floor.

    “You’re a jackass Sam!” she shrieked at the ceiling in her empty room.
    A cool laughter drew her attention to her roommate’s previously vacant bed.
    “You’re adorable when you’re angry baby,” Sam leaned against the wall, resting his hands behind his short, snowy spiked hair. His dark Levi’s contrasted with the sheets he had kicked both legs up onto while a green long-sleeve shirt accentuated his pale, chiseled form.
    “Unfreeze him now,” Alexandra’s mane of fiery curls quivered with building fury.
    Sam shrugged, “not my department babe, you know that.”
    He was up in a second; dodging a mug full of pens he’d given Alexandra for Valentine’s Day as it smashed into the wall by his head.
    ‘You Melt My Heart’, it had said.
    He looked at the pieces on the floor with frank disappointment.
    “I don’t know what’s more upsetting,” he complained, “the fact that you broke this or used it as a pen holder. I’m better than a freaking pen holder aren’t I?”
    Sam smiled cockily up at her, walking around her roommate’s bed to stand at the foot of her own. He raked his eyes over her wire-thin build covered by a midnight blue tank top and red Soffe Shorts. Screeching in frustration as all control she had over her temper burnt to ash, Alexandra dove for him.
    Sam caught her around the waist in the air, his hands sizzling as they touched the bare skin under her scrunched up shirt. At this temperature anything she touched would burst into flame. Besides him of course.
    “You’re so hot, you’ll set the room on fire,” he chuckled in her ear, planting a kiss on the base of her neck that sent ice shooting through Alexandra’s veins, “why don’t you use all this pent up aggression to fix your father?”
    “I hate you,” Alexandra sighed, relaxing against his frosty frame as Sam’s kiss cooled her boiling blood, “I told you I didn’t want to learn how to control this—this whatever. I don’t want any part of it.”
    He continued to bring down her temperature by tracing a line from her ear to the corner of her mouth with his nose.
    “And I told you that was impossible. And then you burned down my apartment—consider this payback baby,” Sam retorted softly.
    Alexandra couldn’t help but laugh, turning quickly within the circle of Sam’s arms to look up at him. She folded her hands behind his neck, venting just a little heat to thaw his chilly demeanor and throw him slightly off-balance.
    “You’ve scared my mother half to death,” she smiled into his crystalized blue eyes.
    Sam moaned as the only being in the world that could make him feel warm radiated in his arms, “then let’s go tell her there’s nothing to worry about.”
    Alexandra’s peal of laughter hung frozen in the air long after she jumped, wrapping her legs around Sam’s waist as he evaporated them both out of the room.

  33. Arazimith says:

    Even before the second ring of the phone, I knew something was afoot. The caller ID was for my mother, and so I played it cool when I picked it up and said, “Robert Cassidy. Grove Capital Investments. How can I help you? ”

    “Bob, it’s your father. He’s been frozen!” said my mother Linda.

    “Wait. What? Frozen!” This did not augur well.

    “Yes. Some weirdo in a blue leotard and funny sunglasses came up to us at the mall and waved a plastic icicle at him. Now he’s frozen. What the hell is going on?” my mother’s panic reached me through the phone.

    “A villain in blue you say. Don’t worry, mother. I know someone who can help. He’ll be right there, ” I said and promptly hung up the phone.

    The Weather Mage! My arch-nemesis had somehow discovered the identity of my parents. I would need to take care of him straight away, but first my father. I stood up and and went to asked my office manager if I could go get lunch. He was intent on whatever was on his computer screen and he waved me off. I headed out the back and walked behind the Chinese place next door. I used my math based magic to don the red and green uniform of Math Wiz.

    Scribing the ancient formula for distance traveling with my trusty number two wand into the air before me, I was instantly transported to Billings Park. I found my parents near the fountain with my father frozen in a light blue pose of terror and my mother wrenching her hands in concern.

    “What seems to be the problem here, citizens?” I asked assured of my secret identity even with my parents.

    “Are you fricking kidding me? My husband is frozen. That’s the problem. Are you blind?” my mother seemed a little agitated.

    “Never fear. I can save him,” I stated as I use my number two wand to scribe the heat transfer formula in the air between me and my father. Beginning with an almost glacial slowness, the color returned to my father and he began to move. With a cracking and a popping of polar icecaps, he freed himself from foul state the Weather Mage had put him.

    I grasped his shoulder and asked, “Are you okay, sir?”

    “What the hell?” apparently my father was a little disoriented.

    “If all is well then I must be off to round up the villain who did this dastardly deed,” I said.

    My mother looked intently at me and I expected her to thank me. Instead, she said, “Wait a minute. Bob? Is that you?”

    I was only flustered a moment, but recovered and relied, “Bob? I’m sorry. I do not know this Bob person of which you speak.”

    I then promptly teleported away to begin my search for the Weather Mage.

    • snuzcook says:

      Chuckling all the way. I love the way the super hero had to ask his office manager if he could go to lunch. The whole thing is hilarious and very like a feet-on-the-desk daydream.

    • Critique says:

      This hit my funny bone. Liked “with a cracking and popping of polar icecaps, he freed himself from the foul state”. Thanks for a fun read Arazimith :)

    • Dennis says:

      Loved the Sunday comics kind of feel with the hero and arch villain. Liked the little bit about the mother recognizing the MC, as if a costume is going to fool a mother. Nice job.

    • Kemter says:

      Hahaha, this one was so entertaining! I liked how you got away from the heaviness of the prompt and went with a lighthearted approach. Everything from the way he talked, to the fact that he’s a Math superhero had me laughing to the very end.

    • agnesjack says:

      And thus, began the adventures of Math Wiz! Smiled all the way through this.

    • Reaper says:

      This was fun. Much of it has already been said. There is a change in the voice that begins with the line, Beginning with almost glacial slowness… at first that seemed out of place but then you sped up the train and it was perfect. There was a super hero on Reading Railroad or one of those kids shows they had us watch in school that this reminded me of. Very different but it was a lie detector character that spoke a lot like your MC so this brought back happy memories. I could see this as a series of children’s novels.

      The other nostalgia piece for me was because this is fun and light but also intelligent. You mention the nemesis and as soon as you did I hear Neil Patrick Harris saying, “Dude. You’re not my nemesis. My nemesis is Captain Hammer, Captain Hammer, corporate tool.” and I just couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the way through.

  34. jmcody says:

    I tucked one last sprig of sweet-scented lilac and a fat, lazy white peony into the arrangement and stood back to admire my work. It was glorious — balanced, but not restrained, like a sudden, wild burst of springtime. I loved being a florist. I traded in happiness, in the beauty of nature tied with a pretty ribbon. And, aside from the occasional prick of a thorn or paper cut, hardly anyone ever got hurt.

    My fragrant reverie was interrupted by the electronic trill of my cell phone.

    “What’s wrong?” I asked when I heard my mother’s voice.

    “It’s your father.”

    “What’s he done now?”

    “He’s gone and frozen himself solid!”

    “Of course he has,” I sighed. “I’ll close up the shop and be right over.”

    In my parents’ kitchen, my elderly father sat cross-legged and frozen on the chipped linoleum, wearing the same black-rimmed glasses he had worn since the 1950s. Surrounding him were tools, books, a slide rule and piles of melting food.

    Mom shuffled over on her walker. “He was trying to put in some thermostat thingamajiggy.”

    “I’m guessing he didn’t follow the instructions?” It was a rhetorical question.

    An electrical engineer during the race-to-space era, Dad had designed electronic components for all kinds of top-secret government initiatives. Somewhere there are still missiles stockpiled and satellites floating around bearing his mark. Which scares me. I’m pretty sure one of these days some of his space junk is going to fall on my house.

    The circa-1972 avocado green Frigidaire should have been scrapped decades ago. There was no point in asking why he didn’t just call an electrician, or better yet, go down to Sears and pick out a new one. Dad had gone to MIT; he should be able to do a simple thing like fix a freezer, or upgrade his own electrical service, right?

    Right???

    Yet, he never could fully explain why when the toaster pops, the doorbell rings. Or why when you plug in the coffee maker, the east side of the street goes dark. Mom and Dad switched to tea years ago.

    One time he melted the driveway installing garden lights, and another time he set the neighbor’s fence on fire with his ridiculously complicated electronic lightning rod invention. And then there was the time he decided to build his own ham radio kit and both the FBI and the kind folks from SETI showed up on our doorstep.

    It was not easy being Dad’s daughter. “But Dad,” I remember whining, “there are no integrals or derivatives in third grade math!” I studiously avoided math, much to Dad’s disappointment.

    “What are we going to do?” whimpered Mom.

    I thought for a moment. “We should save the food.” We started piling mushy bags of frozen vegetables on top of Dad, who was humming along nicely at an even 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

    “What’s this?” I picked up the scrap of napkin that lay on the floor next to Dad. It was covered in calculations in his familiar chicken scratch.

    “Uh huh…” I said, scratching my head. “I see…”

    I glanced down at the advanced calculus book that lay open on the floor next to Dad. “Seriously, Dad? Vectors? To fix a freezer?”

    I sighed heavily. “I know what to do.”

    I dumped a soggy bag of frozen strawberries in the blender and turned it on, and then proceed to the bathroom, where I plugged in Mom’s hot rollers. I flipped the switch for the attic fan and got the jumper cables out of my car. Affixing them to the electric meter, I started my car and then went inside to check on Dad. Sure enough, there were cracks in the ice, and a puddle was forming on the floor around him.

    I must have paid more attention to those grueling homework sessions than I realized.

    “You did it!” Mom sang, doing a little dance with her walker. “You were always so smart. You should have been an engineer.”

    Which reminded me –I needed to get going. Across town, there were roses opening without me.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Literary heaven. What should we do? We should save the food. I almost died that was hilarious. I LOVED this story. One of my favorites from you actually. The writing was crisp, the dialogue sharp and well written. The humor perfectly balanced with the need to tell the story. So many times the comedy takes over the writing and the entire story itself becomes a joke. Instead we have this perfectly blended comedic story, with some fun math through out. {I really like math)

      9/10 (On the off chance you pull out something even more brilliant I need a buffer to go up)

      I think you were channeling your inner consciousness for this one. The first paragraph sounds an awful lot like an artistic description of your own writing.

      • jmcody says:

        Thank you, GTB. What a lovely thing to say about my writing style, I think. :) I was actually looking at a photo of what I thought was a particularly beautiful flower arrangement when I wrote that.

        It’s unusual that someone loves both math and language. You are a renaissance man, my friend! I took calculus in college, and I cannot overstate how much I hated it.

    • Dennis says:

      This was awesome. Quite hilarious and so well thought out. Great writing.

      • rle says:

        There isn’t a whole lot that makes me laugh, I mean really really laugh. You did it here. Awesome!!!

        • jmcody says:

          Thank you Dennis and rle. I have to admit I was giggling like a little girl writing this, probably because this is a thinly disguised caricature of my actual father. My family would no doubt enjoy this.

    • snuzcook says:

      Lovely! The absolute absurdity of the science worked so very well in your story. Nicely done, JM!

    • Critique says:

      This was hilarious. Realistic mix of dialogue with fun – well done – story telling. The daughter seems to have an affinity with math after all :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Hello jm, I’ll do GTB one better. I have a 98 percentile in math, [we didn't have SAT's then], love writing and am an avid gardner. Thst aside, your story is a fresh breath of spring laced with laid-back comedy that doesn’t over shadow the story.

        What’s expecially good,is your relaxed, confident style of writing and I have a feeling it follows your personality. You are one of the best jm.

        • jmcody says:

          I am very flattered, Kerry. Thank you.

          You are a man of many talents yourself. I admire you for having the courage to start writing at 71, as you have said. I only recently started, at an age that I will optimistically call mid-life, after a lifetime of resisting the urge and thinking that I would not have much to say that anyone would need to hear. Maybe some of us needed to do some living first before we could write with any confidence.

          Your comment kind of made me smile, because I am anything but relaxed!

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            It doesn’t appear in your writing. K.

          • rle says:

            “Optimistically mid-life,” I love it!!! I too am in that mid-life stage with maybe a hint less of the enthusiastic optimism. I also believe that when we start writing a little later in life, we have so much more experience to draw from that it makes the whole process much easier. I personally feel that I’m tenfold better at forty something than I was at twenty.

          • Dennis says:

            Wow, I don’t feel so bad now really starting my writing at forty something also. I started to in my twenties and then got distracted with life.

          • Silver Sister says:

            Harriet Doer, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frank McCourt . . . Just a few writers who were over sixty when they first published. Guess it turned out all right for them. :)

    • Silver Sister says:

      Without giving him a word of dialogue, you made me like this father. His daughter is no slouch, either. It just goes to show that the smarter someone is the more they complicate things! Lol.

    • agnesjack says:

      I could picture the father so clearly in this, despite the fact that he was temporarily frozen. Many funny lines here, but also some poignancy because this family, with the eccentric scientist father, was obviously very close and devoted to each other. The fact that the daughter chose the beauty of nature rather than the beauty of science was a nice touch, too, jm.

      • agnesjack says:

        p.s. I am not-so-optimistically between midlife and senior life, but the alternative to aging is, well we all know that. But, whatever age we all are, isn’t it just wonderful to be able to express and share our creativity in this wonderful forum. It’s a blessing for me, I can tell you that.

        • jmcody says:

          I couldn’t agree more, and I can’t believe how much I’ve gotten out of this in the few weeks that I have been doing this. I think I’ve discovered a whole side of myself I’ve known only tangentially (ugh… more math talk!) and never fully reckoned with. A blessing indeed!

    • jmcody says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting everyone. Silver Sister and Agnesjack — I think my protag chose the florist profession precisely because it doesn’t seem to be something that can be over-engineered. In her case though, the chaos of her upbringing does show up in her floral designs, but in a way that works for her.

    • Reaper says:

      Oh jmcody, you make my day any day I read your writing.Being a person who was always good at math and hated it because it meant being in the hard classes when math stopped being about anything I would use without years of college but being told I had to keep taking it even after I had fulfilled the credits to graduate, and someone that loves flowers and gardening, I think I might want to woo your MC. But then I don’t because her father reminds me of a cross between the absent minded professor and Tim Allen. Hmmm. Always a fatal flaw.

      There is not much to be said that has not already. I hope you take this as a complement but part of what I loved was this did not read like a comedy to me. It was a happy story, and it had it’s funny moments but it was much closer to light hearted drama for me, because you didn’t forget the characters for those moments. That set it apart.

      Also because of how you write, and the music conversation I started looking up the meanings of your flowers. Both flowers being associated with transformation, Peonies being associated with honor and happy marriage, and lilacs being a foreteller of spring and white ones a sign of youthful innocence. I assume that was intentional and a nod at the symbol of the family and possibly that the arrangement being a cause in the father’s transformation. I could be reading too much into it but being that it’s you I’m doubtful that I am.

      • jmcody says:

        I only wish I had thought of the meanings of the flowers when I was writing this. It was Anthony’s story below, with the Coriander flowers, that got me thinking about that. I was really describing the arrangement, more than the individual flowers, which reflected the conflicting forces of order and balance on the one hand, versus unpredictability and wildness on the other. (I was looking at a photo that I had chosen for these characteristics.) Despite her desire to have everything be pretty and tied up with a neat bow, the MC knows full well that chaos is in her DNA, and entropy will always be a force to be reckoned with. But I like to think that she has found a way to effectively channel this into her art. I hope that makes sense. Regarding our music conversation, I am starting to see this as a repeating theme in my responses — how to live when no matter what you do, things tend to fall apart. Hmmm…. Thanks for your always thought-provoking responses, Reaper.

        • jmcody says:

          Also, I didn’t intentionally set out to write a comedy. It just came out that way. I definitely did intend to go down the path of absurdity though.

  35. molly.kisthart says:

    The grass stopped squishing under Valerie’s bare feet, and began to crunch. She looked down and watched the dew turn to ice. At least out here, in the field, she could not hurt anyone else. Valerie’s skin prickled and the air turned cold. She raised her eyes to the sky, as the wind whipped her hair. Storm clouds were beginning to gather. Her phone rang, dragging her attention down from the promising storm.
    “Hello,” she whispered, afraid it was Titius.
    “Val where are you?” her mother’s voice shaky..
    “I went for a walk,” Valerie explained. “What’s wrong?”
    “It’s your father a spell has been cast on him and he is frozen solid,” her mom sounded unsure of what she was saying, but Val knew all too well that it was true because it was all Val’s fault. She’d tried to get far enough away so no one got hurt, but it had not worked.
    The wind picked up nearly throwing Val off her feet. The sheer force turned her around. Celeste was standing before her. Her pupils were white, and her silver hair whipped around her head as she floated in her own wind. She looked like a ghost. Val clutched the phone and let the wind die before she continued.
    “Don’t worry mom, I’ll take care of it,” she reassured her confused parent then hung up before her mom could ask any questions.
    “He screamed you know,” Celeste hissed. “I told him his pain was your fault.” Val stared at her friend –if she could still call her that.
    “Celly, I didn’t” she began to apologize, but didn’t know what to say.
    “Didn’t what?” Celeste screamed. “Didn’t mean to fall in love with him? Don’t lie to me.”
    “You’re right I meant to, but I didn’t want to hurt you” Val answered flatly. She had turned her back on Celeste for Titus. She did it consciously. It wasn’t an accident. She meant to take Titus away from Celeste.
    “Well you did, and now, it’s my turn,” Celeste snarled. She raised one pale hand to the sky, “Goodbye Val.” A shower of ice attacked Val. She felt the shards tear her cheeks apart. The warm blood on her face was a relief in the cold.
    “Stop Celeste!” shouted a distant voice. The shower of cold ceased. Val fell into Titus’s arms. He held her. He felt warm, despite being a snow elf.
    “You’re here,” Val coughed. Titus nodded. “But I thought?”
    “You thought you scared me away?” he laughed. “I know you love me back.”
    “No. I don’t. Go back to Celeste,” Val wheezed, trying to sound serious, but she knew she didn’t. The last thing she wanted was for Titus to let go of his hold on her.
    “Never. Not even for you,” he whispered. Val stared at him.
    “She’s your queen,” Val sighed.
    “You told me once that allegiance is earned not required.” Val smiled, and Titus tightened his grip and kissed her. Then the world froze over.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      True love until the cold, bitter end. I am sure there is a parable in here somewhere. This reminds me of a Disney movie. Well written tension, love story, violence and conflict, all in a PG setting. I love Disney movies btw. Nice job

    • Dennis says:

      Fun writing. I liked the pace.

    • jmcody says:

      This was very atmospheric. I loved all the chilling details about Celeste’s appearance, and I particularly liked the first line. I felt like they were my bare feet squishing and then crunching on the grass.

    • snuzcook says:

      All the elements (pun intended) for a classic love tragedy. Clever response to the prompt.

    • agnesjack says:

      That Celeste is one scary queen. This was an inventive story where the landscape and feeling of icy cold were beautifully realized. A love story that apparently does not end happily.

    • Reaper says:

      Beautiful. This has elements of so many things I love. The snow queen feels like a member of the classic winter court of fae. Most people try to make them too kind these days. The fairy tale feel is perfect, which I think is what people mean when they say Disney. This feels like a classic Disney story to me, Brother’s Grimm modified to be modern and PG but still with that darker edge of a lesson. A beautiful love story and an ending that is natural. The end isn’t happy but you didn’t force a tragic ending you reached it naturally. I loved all of your characters, though to be honest Celeste was my favorite for the above reasons and because she’s a believable bad girl, have a thing for those I admit.

      More than any of that I love your voice and dedication to the story. I’m going to assume you’re female because of name and the MC, and I find that currently too many published female authors that write supernatural love stories turn their MCs into vanity characters. So nothing bad can happen to them and they end up getting the guy, and maybe another guy, and possibly hooking up with the queen too depending on their preference. You avoided that and made this feel real, and I thank you for not going the popular route but instead showing respect to your story and your characters.

  36. rachekma says:

    “Meredith! Meredith wake up! I know you are there.”

    “What Mom? I’m exhausted I just went to bed two hours ago.” My head was pounding. The alcohol from the night before coursing through my veins still. I knew if I opened my eyes I would vomit.

    “Two hours!? Young lady what is wrong with you?”

    “Really is this why you called?”

    “No something crazy just happened. You’re father was changing a light bulb for me and he just froze there on the ladder arm extended up. He won’t move!!”

    Shooting straight up in bed, I knew I knew something about this. I couldn’t tell her that though. My alcohol induced memory loss making the events foggy at best. There was an old woman, half hunched over, waving her hands at me. But what was she saying?

    Fucking tequila.

    “Meredith did you hear me?”

    “Yes sorry. Mom I have to go. I’ll call you later if I think I can help.” I hung up the phone and threw on my cleanest pair of jeans, stained with ketchup from a recent late night fry fest.

    The events of the night before we’re coming back slowly. I ran into my ex, he had his pretty new girlfriend hanging on his arm. I was still in the apron I was required to wear at the grocery store where I still worked two years after graduating college. As a result I detoured into the corner liquor store located under my rundown studio flat.

    After the tequila was gone I stumbled back out the door in search of something to entertain me. Missing the bar’s entrance, I walked in the local fortune teller’s front door She didn’t have any alcohol but offered me a wish, for a small price. I agreed not asking what the cost actually was.

    “I want to make my ex jealous.” She waved her hands and nodded along. Nothing happened and as the tequila started to come back up I knew I needed to escape again. The vomit didn’t wait for me to get home and I knew that was waiting for me in the alley next door.

    Replaying these events I ran out of the bathroom after brushing my teeth, which didn’t relieve the gross feeling coating entire body.

    Throwing a scarf around my neck, I ran right into the tall blond shirtless gentleman making breakfast in my kitchen.

    “Morning beautiful,” he said kissing me on the lips.

    Standings there mouth hanging wide open I found myself In my own frozen state. Recovering slightly I pulled my phone out and dialed my parent house.

    “Hey Mom I’m so sorry to hear about Dad but I don’t think I am going to be able to help you.”

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Oh my goodness, your MC is a real piece of…work! I’m sorry but I just can not be sympathetic! She is really really selfish and a bit of a mess….. BUT this is all not bad stuff, in fact I think the writing was good, with a gentle humor to it. I enjoyed the read.

    • Dennis says:

      Nice play on the the prompt. Selling out her father for beefake. Somehow that is going to come back and bite her.

    • snuzcook says:

      But, that’s it? Blow off the daughterly duty to embrace the possibility of fantasy come to life in her kitchen? Well, who’s to say we wouldn’t all be thus inclined. But the reality of human relationships tells us that she’ll have more than a pile of tequila-tossed cookies in the alley to deal with one of these days.
      Cute story, and good unexpected ending!

    • agnesjack says:

      Her hangover and recollection of her inebriated, barf-filled state of the night before was wonderfully, disgustingly realistic. I, too, couldn’t feel much sympathy for the girl, though, leaving her dad like that for her own selfish me me me reasons. A very good read, though.

    • Reaper says:

      What a bitch! I’m just going to call it out like that. I kind of hope beefcake has some herpes to pass on.

      Now with that done, the wording on some of this was throwing me off. At first I couldn’t place it, but after a minute I realized it was having a hard time finding the voice of a college educated woman in this, even one that is still working at the grocery store with I’m assuming a degree in art history. Then I read further and found a vapid, narcissistic little girl who went to college because she’s supposed to not because she wanted to and the voice was perfect. You led me by the hand to that and I did not even realize it until later. Now to be fair, we could all be misjudging and maybe dad is an abusive alcoholic and we just don’t know it, but I doubt it since it doesn’t feel like you left anything like that out. This was amazing as a story. It is hard to write an MC that is completely unlikable but keep the story so readable. Great take.

  37. agnesjack says:

    Judith’s father was a brilliant trial lawyer. His Oscar-caliber courtroom performances over the years had brought him fame and considerable wealth. In private, he could be intimidating, cruel, chauvinistic and bigoted, but if the payoff and publicity were substantial enough, he could turn all that off and argue passionately for the meek, the downtrodden, the exploited. In short, he was an egocentric, manipulative monster.

    Judith hated her father and hadn’t seen him in years, but when her mother called and told her he had been sitting in his office for hours staring straight ahead as if frozen by some spell, Judith wasn’t surprised. She knew his condition wasn’t caused by a spell or anything remotely like that. He had simply seen the Sunday paper.

    “I need you to come up to the house immediately, Judith,” her mother said. “Will you?”

    “Of course, Mother,” Judith said.

    Judith’s father had always treated her like an incompetent half-wit. If she hadn’t been shuttled off as a child to various boarding schools, she probably would not have survived his abusive criticism.

    How ironic, she thought with a smile, that I’m the only one who knows what will revive him.

    When Judith arrived and walked into her father’s office, she thought her presence might elicit some sort of shudder or flicker from him, but it didn’t. The New York Times was, indeed, on his desk. The offending headline on the front page read:

    “Judith Randall will Argue for the Defense Before the U.S. Supreme Court in the High Profile Barden vs. GrandCorp.”

    Her father had always bragged that one day he would argue a case before the Supreme Court, but it had never happened. The article mentioned him, but only once: “Ms. Randall’s father is the New York attorney, Nick Randall.” No doubt that galled him, particularly.

    She stared at him for a while before sitting down. He looked old.

    “Father,” she said and then stopped. She had never been able to talk to him without being interrupted or dismissed. For the first time in her life she wasn’t afraid of him.

    “Father,” she began again, “you’re slipping.”

    A spark flashed in his eyes, and an ember of rage began to burn, but he didn’t move a muscle.

    “You should be proud of what I’ve accomplished,” she continued, “but I know that’s not possible, so this is what I suggest.”

    He blinked.

    “Call up your publicist,” she continued. “After all, I have your DNA. You could make the case that my abilities came from your magnificent seed. Tell the cameras the lie that you having lovingly guided me in my career and are so very proud. I beg you to draw the attention back to where you have always believed it belonged — you. I never cared for publicity anyway. You would be doing me a favor by hogging the spotlight. I need to focus on the case.”

    She wanted to laugh when she saw the life come back into his eyes. He now had a character he could play, the proud father.

    Judith stood and walked to the door.

    “You can also tell them that your amazing little girl is going to win,” she said, and left.

    • Critique says:

      There is a smooth progression to this story that swept me to the satisfying finish. I really enjoyed it :) Well done.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      This was another emotionally charged story. I think I might have a bit of a crush on your main character. I have a soft spot for strong, independent and intelligent women and your wrote yours with some to spare. I thought this was very nicely written, powerful in a simple way. Excellent.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, GTB. I’m glad that Judith came off that way. My jumping off point, so to speak, was the characterization of the father, but I wanted the daughter to feel like a full character, too. She’s a survivor.

    • don potter says:

      Great read. I liked your figurative take on frozen rather than the obvious literal. And, the passing of the baton, a big moment in both their lives, was deftly done.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, don. I knew there would be many wonderful magical and fantastical responses to this prompt (which is not my forte), so when I realized that frozen could be figurative, I was relieved because that was something I could sink my teeth into.

    • Dennis says:

      Great take on the prompt and well written. Devious she is, the product of her own father no doublt. But much cleverer.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you, Dennis. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, as they say, but I wanted the daughter to come across as someone who got her intelligence and competitiveness from her father, but not his narcissism and cruelty.

    • jmcody says:

      I have a theory that everything a parent says and does to or for their child will eventually come back to them, will come home to roost, so to speak. The elder Randall’s comeuppance was the direct result of his failures as a parent and a human being. I actually though Judith was being charitable to him. Tense, emotionally fraught drama, agnesjack.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, jm. I think she was being charitable to him, too, and in a way, I felt that it showed her progress in letting the past go and moving on to her own future. She cut the emotional tether and took back her power.

    • snuzcook says:

      *applause applause* Well done, agnesjack! The writing was flawless and the story was strong and engaging. How many of us vicariously thumbed our noses at a bully in our lives as we read your MC’s proclamations!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Quite a read Nancy. How you managed to slip William Charlton into your story, amazes me. There are many reasons I was close to my Mother, one of which was my Father. This was a hard story to read, because of the memories.

        He wasn’t an attorney but the rest fit him to the T. I only hope you are not taking a page from your own experiences. The thing that frightens me the most is my resolve will weaken and the personality of my own Father will shove inside the protective shield I built to escape from him.

        Didn’t mean to write an essay here but you’ve really struck a raw nerve. So if you want to know if your story can move someone like you/ve done to me, use me for a reference. Kerry

        • agnesjack says:

          Actually, Kerry, my father was a local, small-town attorney, and although he has some of the qualities on a much smaller scale (the bravado and dismissiveness), he is not Nick Randall, thank God. However, I know what you mean about worrying that you might channel some of your father’s negative traits. I do have to watch out for that myself, but I think our awareness of that possibility is what saves us.

          That said, I have worked for big corporate law firms for most of my career (administrative, not legal), so I have come across attorneys like him. I actually had a partner say to me once, “When I say jump, you say how high.” I kid you not. Fortunately my mother (and father) brought up strong, independent-minded children.

          I’m sorry this reminded you of your father, but I’m pleased that the characterization seemed authentic. I wondered if I was making him too much of a monster. And now I’ve written an essay, too. :-)

      • agnesjack says:

        Thank you so much, snuzcook. I value everyone’s opinion here very much. I’ve learned so much from all of you (this was my 31st prompt), and I think my writing has improved as a result.

    • Silver Sister says:

      ‘You’re slipping,” is probably the worst insult to a man like Nick Randall. I’m sure Judith knows that, too. :) It’s concise and elegant, just like Judith. Reading this was truly satisfying.

      • agnesjack says:

        Thanks, Silver Sister. Yes, Judith knew how to reach her narcissistic father, and to be able to say that to him would have been wonderfully cathartic for her.

    • Reaper says:

      Damn it. Gamingtheblues saw her first. Damn bro code.

      Powerful story here. I actually had and have a good relationship with my father. He’s an old school guy but always worked to make sure his children could live their own lives and knew he was proud of us for it. Because of that stories like this hit me hard. I see some of his traits in men like this and realize how easily it could have been different, and how good I had it.

      The power of your MC is undeniable and I love seeing that darkness of the father creeping in but under control. The ending of this is very deep because I would agree she was being charitable but that in itself was not a kindness. You have written a father that deep down will know she showed him mercy and needing that act of charity, the weak little girl he raised (because he can surely see her no other way) needing to give him that hand out… well it’s going to eat at him inside. I’m sure she knows it too, though she may not actively think on it. So yeah he gets to be alive and alert again but haunted by something in his gut. Hopefully it turns into a pearl instead of an ulcer but, outside of their children, beauty rarely comes from men like the one you have written. Well done, and I have to say that is how you write revenge that does not leave the MC feeling hollow.

      • agnesjack says:

        Reaper, your thoughtful responses are greatly appreciated. Thank you. And I’m thrilled that the MC came across as a strong, attractive female character.

        Your analysis of the dynamics of the relationship between father and daughter is very astute and exactly right. Her “act of charity” will eat at him inside, and she knows this, but it also frees her. She is in control now. Of course, Nick Randall is not one to roll over, so it’s unlikely the gnawing in his gut will produce a pearl, as you said. People like him are not capable of change or the awareness that change is even needed. I liked your observation that “outside of their children, beauty rarely comes from men like the one you have written.”

    • Marc Ellis says:

      This was fun. I think I smiled through the whole thing. Obviously she was a talented lawyer and her cleverness showed in how she rubbed it in. I really struggled with the “spell” part of the prompt this week. I liked your take on it.

  38. Are You Dreaming? says:

    Great story flow! Well written! Keep on scribbling, we want your imagination!!!

  39. moscoboy says:

    Barely Breathing

    My cell rang it was my mother. “Hijo, your popi can’t get out of his Lazy Boy, he’s barely breathing. I think someone put el mal ojo on him. Please come, señor Milojos was here, but his tea potion did not work.”

    I leaned back in my chair at the community library and smiled knowing my investment had paid off. The grandee Hector Lopez, was finally getting his due. For 20 years all I heard from him was how I was a sellout to La Raza by furthering my education. He continually chided me for not working in the fields like real men such as himself. The Americano tree hugger was my moniker. To him manual labor was an honorable pursuit for all muchachos. He said he endured constant haranguing from his friends for having a white Mejicano in the family.

    “I’m taking the blue line mom, I should be home in an hour. He’s probably had another stoke or something. I’ll fix his favorite salsa and he’ll be all right.”

    It was mid August and my shirt was pasted to my back as I waited under the hot bus awning I relished his diatribes on how my futile attempt at saving the planet by riding the bus would never work. “Too many buses are killing the pollution,” he would say as he rode off in his 427 cubic inch Chevy Impala belching out noxious fumes.

    In my early teens I tired to explain global warming to him, but he said hot was good and then he would commence to bore me about his exploits in the Chihuahuan desert smuggling mojados across the border into Arizona. I remember a bitter argument during my senior year in high school when I explained to El Grandee Lopez that as the only American in the family I was his anchor to this great nation. His retort was lightening. “Ok Popeye the Sailor Man, get me another Técate from the cooler.”

    We were like ying and yang in a nine hundred square foot two bedroom casa with momma Juanita acting as referee. I was reading Carlos Castaneda’s books on becoming a nagual. Don Qudan Matus’ saying and potions infused my soul and I voraciously read every book Castaneda wrote on sorcerers and shamanism. I became one with Mother Earth and I used her fruits to suspend my father forever in an island of his own making. I tired many potions until I hit on the perfect mixture of cannabis, peyote, and goat weed with a hint of rattlesnake venom.

    “Sorry I’m late mom, every bus was packed.” I did the usual techniques any paramedic would use to try to bring back a person to consciousness and gratefully none of them worked.

    “Where is popi?” Mom wrung her hands and stuffed them in her threadbare housecoat. “Call 911 and see if los medicos can bring him back to life.”

    “Great idea.” If the medics succeeded I would continue to fine-tune my potion.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Fascinating read. My father enveloped Castaneda as I was growing up, I think it sculpted many of his views on living and the way of the world. You create a world that is steeped in mysticism and the local flavor of living near the Mexico, U.S border. While some of the references may go over the heads of some people, or require a little research, as someone who read those books growing up, I found this a compelling read. (Though for the purposes of discretion I actually enjoyed this short better than anything Castaneda wrote, I am not a fan of his style or disjointed writing, stream of consciousness and spirituality or not) ;)

    • Are You Dreaming? says:

      Wow, I am blown away on the timing of your post of your story-I am myself a lucid dreamer-at times, and I got to say, WOW! Excellent story, very well written. Keep on scribbling, you got something there. In the words of our great John Lennon:

      “Imagine”

      Imagine there’s no heaven
      It’s easy if you try
      No hell below us
      Above us only sky
      Imagine all the people
      Living for today…

      Imagine there’s no countries
      It isn’t hard to do
      Nothing to kill or die for
      And no religion too
      Imagine all the people
      Living life in peace…

      You may say I’m a dreamer
      But I’m not the only one
      I hope someday you’ll join us
      And the world will be as one

      Imagine no possessions
      I wonder if you can
      No need for greed or hunger
      A brotherhood of man
      Imagine all the people
      Sharing all the world…

      You may say I’m a dreamer
      But I’m not the only one
      I hope someday you’ll join us
      And the world will live as one

    • jmcody says:

      I was drawn into the clash of cultures that was at the heart of this story. It was an interesting perspective from a first generation American clashing with his family’s traditional values, who ironically turns to the ancient mysticism of his parents’ culture to solve the problem. Great twist, and very thought provoking.

      I also read Castenda in college but I think I’ve blocked it out, so I’m sorry if the references were lost on me!

    • snuzcook says:

      moscoboy, you write a deliciously vindictive character. I’m a little worried about the future with an man of his talents and sense of ethical entitlement on the loose.

    • Dennis says:

      I enjoyed the mix of cultures. Although not of Mexican heritage, I group in the Los Angeles area so was immersed in the Mexican-American culture. Liked the use of Castenda as the source of “magic” influence.

      • moscoboy says:

        Thanks for the read. I knew there would be a lot of frozen prompts so I decided to write something different. I remembered reading Carlos Castenda and it piqued my imagination.

    • agnesjack says:

      As others have said, the culture clash was depicted beautifully — I felt it. I read Castaneda many many years ago, so I don’t remember much, but the influence of that medicinally-enhanced spiritual world was an interesting touch. The dark ending bothered me a little, though, because the son was so cold and cruel — just like his father.

    • Reaper says:

      This is dark on a couple of level. I don’t know who’s really being punished. Often father’s are hard on their sons but proud of them, but they don’t admit it until later in life. Then again popi might just be a guy who doesn’t get it. So someone is being punished probably more than they deserve. Nice revenge angle there. I don’t know many of the references, and through that I tell you I got lost in the culture just enough to know I didn’t get it but could see the outline of the trees due to how you described this for me. That was a beautiful thing. This is another good example of certain grammar that might normally detract but in this case just pulled me into the world of a first generation storyteller. I would also despair over the lengths this MC would go to save the world if you did not have him firmly in hand.

      • moscoboy says:

        Thanks for the read Reaper. I enjoyed you reference ‘the outline of the trees’. I was rushed in composing this piece, but I still had fun with it. Thanks again.

  40. Are You Dreaming? says:

    ~Something NEW!~
    This story contain TWO Easter eggs, a word game of sorts. Have fun!

    The Spells We Cast

    I sipped coffee brew, thumbing the archaic tome of Alchemy and Sp3lls. Foggy beakers bubbled and glowed mysterious pulsing colors in the dim room. Dove’s foot brewed nearby, radiating a pungent scent. I licked my finger, turned the page Sacred Geometry and the Elements.
    Riiinnnggg….
    The antique Western Electric telephone declared a caller. I arched an eyebrow and sighed.
    A third desperate ring I rose, lifted the handle to ear—receiver against my white beard and manic hair. “Yesss,” with a reluctant hiss.
    ‘Merlin, its ya’ mutha’, somethin’ terriable happened to ya’ fotha’!” voice wavering, yet energetic in her rusty golden years.
    ‘Ma’, slow down,” my calm, deepened voice hoped to root her extreme emotions, “catch your breath, then talk. Calmly.”
    ”Meeerlin, I’m ya’ mutha’. I will be as I please! Oh, ya’ pour fotha’!” Abrupt silence held the line, she gathered herself.
    “Mother, out with it. What about dad?”
    “Heezzz, Heezzz…”
    “Yesss…”
    “Frozen…” a frightful whisper.
    I knew.
    An ice wraith, from planet Sedemichra—a world visited in my travels throughout the Cosmos the last few months—warned never return. The dimensional traveling entity threatened an attack on my spawners—my parents. I paid no heed to this apparition. I returned to the utopian planet, ice wraith be damned, to bask in curiosities it offered. I thought no more of it, but it must have thought of—or, more like, seen me, again.
    “Mom, start running warm water to soak towels, then mummify dad.” She uttered nothing, sobbed. “Mom… dad is fine, promise.”
    Growing up, I was a strange child. They knew nothing of the path of magic— telekinesis, teleportation, wizardry stuff—fated upon me by my own ancient will. After all, I chose this body to house my consciousness—an old traveler, in-and-out of existence. To my soul, old hat.
    My parents, in their end years—hell, the body I resided in, sixty years old—oblivious of magic and other-worldly travels; nor, did I desire to burden them. I felt a lifelong release¬; soon on the cusp, a secret.
    I tore into the house, “mmMMOOOTTTHHHER…” deep thunderous rumble resonated.
    “Muurlin. In heyah’ deah’,” words echoed down the corridor’s dark walls. I levitated into the room, landed in front of her astonished and overwhelmed psyche. “Whatha’? Muurlin, what givezzz? Howda’ geet heer so quickly?”
    “Long story, I will explain, but first back away from Dad.” She did. Out of sheer terror. Pinched fingers reach into the pouch that hung from my belt. My will electrified the air; a smell of ozone filled the room.
    “Muurlin, what’s goin’ awn? Mize neck hair is standin’ straight eup!”
    I summoned a solidified channel of focus, a growing red halo crackled around my head. Manna pool maxed. I scattered fluorescent blue dust into the air, and pointed an ancient wand.
    “Gaudete, et hoc carmine.
    Lorem communis potestatem habeo cosmos.
    Omnem vim esse liberi.
    Mundus est nobis!”
    He melted. Breathed. Finally, collapsed onto the ground. Ma’ rushed to cradle his wilted head. Faced me, casting her spell that overwhelmed me. Froze me solid with a contemptuous look of a stranger.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Well now that was out of left field. This was descriptively fun and entertaining. I love the accent in the beginning. For some reason I was channeling the movie “my cousin vinny” when I read it. I love Arthurian legend and Merlin included, was a bit of a passion of mine for many years as a kid. The mother’s dialogue near the end became a little campy, though…seeing as the mother turned out to be a fraud or something else, I am not sure if that was purposeful or not. Either way, I like this story and can not believe Merlin got caught!

      • Are You Dreaming? says:

        Thank you so much for the praise and critique. Left field is usually where I am observing and writing on. “My Cousin Vinny” is definitely one of my favorite Joe Pesci flicks, so thanks, I appreciate the connection there. The Sword and the Stone captivated me as a child, also. “Campy”, I gotta’ say, I really appreciate the criticism, I see where the reader could get a little lost. I had to prune the story down from 776 words to 518. For my forth published short story, I had one of my first editing challenges ever. It was great fun, but I felt the core of my story being pruned down to the roots. My idea was to twist the climax, with reality and fantasy colliding, but give the reader a nugget of wisdom. That being, how we may know someone our entire life, in this case; the mother not knowing the large extent Merlin’s being, and her casting an emotional spell back on him out of fear and betrayal. Thank you so much again for taking the time to read my story.

        By the way, did you find the Easter Eggs?
        Post it if you find them! ! !

        • Dennis says:

          Good ol Merlin. Loved the Arthurian legends which led me to play Dungeons and Dragons.

          Could one Easter Egg be a reference I found Googling Sedemichra and found a reference to a Sword of Stone Strike from the Ultima Underworld II game. (As in Excalibur). Can’t figure out the other one.

          • Are You Dreaming? says:

            Dennis,
            Thanks for making an attempt at one of the Easter Eggs, so I will spill the beans. You are on track with the planet ‘Sedemichra’. It is Archimedes spelled backwards. (I have been playing some word search games on iPhone, Word Forward to be exact, so the mood struck me to add this).

            The other egg is the translation:
            “Gaudete, et hoc carmine.
            Lorem communis potestatem habeo cosmos.
            Omnem vim esse liberi.
            Mundus est nobis!”

            meaning…

            “Rejoice, and give this poem.
            Here’s the general power of the cosmos.
            All the energy is free.
            The world is ours! “

    • agnesjack says:

      Your story posted twice. I commented on the one below.

    • Reaper says:

      So I saw Ma as Fran Drescher and that hurt my brain a little. This was definitely not what I was expecting and makes me say you have some range. Your spell makes Merlin sound like Tesla which I find kind of awesome. I appreciated the mother freezing him at the end, did not interpret it as a spell, but as a figurative thing.

      The 3 in spells and the reference to Manna Pool seemed out of place. I assumed they were intentional to mark magic as a form of leet math in a future society and a reference to Magic or another game. They seemed strange but not unintentional.

      • Are You Dreaming? says:

        Reaper,

        Yep, you are good. I heard Fran Drescher’s brain pinching voice through the mother, too. I thought I would pass it along to you. :)

        Tesla, hmmm… That is cool, I didn’t see it that way, so thanks, I am a big Tesla fan! Way ahead of his time! ! !

        Once again, you are on track with the mother freezing him with emotion; which, I think, is just as powerful as fictional magic. That was the twist at the end, and the thing I discovered with this story while writing it.

        I probably threw too many curve balls on this one with the ‘3’ in Sp3ll. I noticed after posting it, I did not put it in the title. I was trying give the story a bit of, you might say, ‘What the Bleep!’ feel. Something to ignite the reader’s imagination within just a few letters of the story. So, yeah, I like your interpretation on ‘future society’ leet speak… I love that about writing, song, and poetry… To hear the reader’s interpretation of what they got from them.

        Manna pool, I was pulling from ‘Magic the Gathering’ card game, and other games, albeit video, card, or board game. Maybe ‘With a fully summoned will…’ or something might have rang a little better for the reader.

        I want to thank you again for reading and posting. Thank you so much for the feedback!!!

        I won’t fear the Reaper! ;-D

  41. Are You Dreaming? says:

    I sipped coffee brew, thumbing the archaic tome of Alchemy and Sp3lls. Foggy beakers bubbled and glowed mysterious pulsing colors in the dim room. Dove’s foot brewed nearby, radiating a pungent scent. I licked my finger, turned the page Sacred Geometry and the Elements.
    Riiinnnggg….
    The antique Western Electric telephone declared a caller. I arched an eyebrow and sighed.
    A third desperate ring I rose, lifted the handle to ear—receiver against my white beard and manic hair. “Yesss,” with a reluctant hiss.
    ‘Merlin, its ya’ mutha’, somethin’ terriable happened to ya’ fotha’!” voice wavering, yet energetic in her rusty golden years.
    ‘Ma’, slow down,” my calm, deepened voice hoped to root her extreme emotions, “catch your breath, then talk. Calmly.”
    ”Meeerlin, I’m ya’ mutha’. I will be as I please! Oh, ya’ pour fotha’!” Abrupt silence held the line, she gathered herself.
    “Mother, out with it. What about dad?”
    “Heezzz, Heezzz…”
    “Yesss…”
    “Frozen…” a frightful whisper.
    I knew.
    An ice wraith, from planet Sedemichra—a world visited in my travels throughout the Cosmos the last few months—warned never return. The dimensional traveling entity threatened an attack on my spawners—my parents. I paid no heed to this apparition. I returned to the utopian planet, ice wraith be damned, to bask in curiosities it offered. I thought no more of it, but it must have thought of—or, more like, seen me, again.
    “Mom, start running warm water to soak towels, then mummify dad.” She uttered nothing, sobbed. “Mom… dad is fine, promise.”
    Growing up, I was a strange child. They knew nothing of the path of magic— telekinesis, teleportation, wizardry stuff—fated upon me by my own ancient will. After all, I chose this body to house my consciousness—an old traveler, in-and-out of existence. To my soul, old hat.
    My parents, in their end years—hell, the body I resided in, sixty years old—oblivious of magic and other-worldly travels; nor, did I desire to burden them. I felt a lifelong release¬; soon on the cusp, a secret.
    I tore into the house, “mmMMOOOTTTHHHER…” deep thunderous rumble resonated.
    “Muurlin. In heyah’ deah’,” words echoed down the corridor’s dark walls. I levitated into the room, landed in front of her astonished and overwhelmed psyche. “Whatha’? Muurlin, what givezzz? Howda’ geet heer so quickly?”
    “Long story, I will explain, but first back away from Dad.” She did. Out of sheer terror. Pinched fingers reach into the pouch that hung from my belt. My will electrified the air; a smell of ozone filled the room.
    “Muurlin, what’s goin’ awn? Mize neck hair is standin’ straight eup!”
    I summoned a solidified channel of focus, a growing red halo crackled around my head. Manna pool maxed. I scattered fluorescent blue dust into the air, and pointed an ancient wand.
    “Gaudete, et hoc carmine.
    Lorem communis potestatem habeo cosmos.
    Omnem vim esse liberi.
    Mundus est nobis!”
    He melted. Breathed. Finally, collapsed onto the ground. Ma’ rushed to cradle his wilted head. Faced me, casting her spell that overwhelmed me. Froze me solid with a contemptuous look of a stranger.

    • agnesjack says:

      Merlin meets Dr. Who meets Edith Bunker? This was one wild ride, Dreaming. I can’t say I got the ending, though, and the heavy Brooklynese of the mother kind of threw me out of the story a little, but there is so much imagination here. Loved the phrase “rusty golden years.”

      • Are You Dreaming? says:

        Dr. Who…

        You are good, I started watching Dr. Who for the first time last year and left off where David Tennant left the show. I am trying to get into the story with the new Dr. Who, but I haven’t found the right segue. So awesome to read your interpretations based off my influences, consciously or subconsciously, pop up.

        My intention was to have the reader see that mother freezing him with emotion, ‘emotional magic’ being as powerful as magic ‘magic'; a twist at the end, and the thing I discovered with this story while writing it. I am sorry I threw you—not my intention—so, I will be more conscious of that in my future writing endeavors. I get a bit too cerebral at times, and that is not what writing is about—it is about whatever you want to write—but there always has to be a reader on the other end, or it is a type of selfish act, in a way. It is kind of like that old saying, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear, does it make a sound?” My writing intentions are to bring an unbalanced story forward to a balanced ending, and learn something along the way.

        I am very grateful for you praise on my my discombobulated imagination. ;D

  42. gamingtheblues says:

    “I’m…sorry. I’ve done the best, and… it’s never going to be the same though…oh god help me I just want-”

    A buzzing in my ear. Mother.

    “Hello mother, what can I…what do you…it’s father? He’s not moving? Frozen? Calm down, no…no… CALM DOWN. I will be right there, don’t do anything. I know what to do. Good bye mother.”

    In all actuality, I had known this was coming. Father was getting up there in years and the world was harsh. Yet, even though Mother was getting older as well, she should really know better. A spell? The things she came up with sometimes. Perhaps it was time for her to…but, no. Not yet.

    Sighing, I wiped my eyes with my sleeve and traced the lines in the rough stone. I stood and absentmindedly brushed the red sand off the knees of my once white suit. It was unbearably hot, sweat stood out on my forehead and I made a mental note to check on the humidifiers when I got back.

    “Mother, I’m back. Where are you?” The rooms were all dark and silent and I called out when I couldn’t find them.

    Faintly through the thick walls I heard her respond. She must have brought him out back.

    “Mother! What were you thinking?? He is far too heavy for you to carry, you know that.”

    “Jeremy. I am sorry. I thought that maybe…the sun was always his favorite.”

    Sunlight shimmered through the air, glinting off her skin, the highlights in her hair. I knew that the sun was Father’s favorite because of how beautiful Mother looked in it. It was almost as if the the light existed for her alone. A sickening ache opened in my stomach as I watched her.

    Walking over to Father, I noticed that his eyes were fixed on her, as they were from my earliest memories of Mother and Father. Every time she shifted or moved, his eyes would follow. Other than that though, he could neither move nor speak. Almost no higher brain function. I think he held on for her sake alone. I leaned down and breathed into his ear. “It..It’s time Father. I will make it fast.”

    Looking into his eyes, I knew he understood. I placed my lips upon his forehead. Hard and cold as ice.

    When it was over, I got up from where he lay in the grass and walked over to mother who had been watching nervously.

    “Jeremy? How is-”

    “He’s gone.”

    “NO. NO. Jeremy fix him. PUT HIM BACK. JEREMY JEREMY I NEEEEDDD HIM. JEREMEYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY………………….” Her voice rose in a crescendo, keening higher and higher, her grief deeper and more horrifying than I could have imagined. Tears coursing down my face, I wrapped my arms around her, though she resisted.

    “Shhhhhh… Mother? Look at me.” I wanted to remember her as she used to be…not like…this.
    She quieted, her own eyes swimming, beautiful and gentle even in misery. Hazel.

    I reached behind her neck and gripped tightly. Twisted, and pulled hard.

    Thirty years ago, the first human settlement on Mars had been built. Volunteers all, my parents were prominent scientists and the first to be selected. I was six. We were going to herald the next stage of human achievement.

    The last war destroyed Earth a bare year after we began terraforming. Nuclear devastation and fallout descended and there had been no contact ever since. We were scared and sad, but hopeful at the same time. That is when people began getting sick. And dying. My mother was one of the first. My father, a genius in robotics, built Mother in secret and on the day of completion, killed himself without ever turning her on. Within two years I was the only person left alive on Mars. Having never gotten sick, I waited until there was no one else before going back to the lab. I found my father’s research notes, and began to work. Then I flipped the switches.

    • Are You Dreaming? says:

      Wow, your cadence is very nice, a little rough around grammatical and punctuations, commas and such helps with the cadence. But, I am not the grammar police, and your story was very interesting and well written and the rest is for an editor. Dark, but with a glimmer of light at the end. I dig it. A bit reminiscent of Hugh Howey’s ‘Halfway Home’, or at least that came to mind. Great imagination, my friend. Scribble more!

      • gamingtheblues says:

        Thank you for the compliments and critique. I should mention that the grammar and punctuation “mistakes” so to speak, are actually purposeful. I manipulate proper grammar to bend the flow of my stories. I prefer to think of them as narrative poetry, always searching for the feel of a story more than proper form.

        Just as an example, there is a very specific reason that the words are capitalized the way they are, and the dialogue structured the way it is.

        If you notice, when I critique others I never mention grammar or punctuation, more about awkward phrasing and word usage, wooden dialogue and the such.

        Please note that I am not so much casting dispersions on your criticisms;) More so, that as you mention it, I felt it a good opportunity to reveal a small bit of the method to my particular brand of madness so as to not be giving misconceptions. Though sometimes I feel that I am too subtle with some of my more underlying purposes to the point that I am the only one who can get it lol. Thanks again for reading!

        • Are You Dreaming? says:

          Ah…

          My apologies, I definitely feel you on “…sometimes I feel that I am too subtle with some of my more underlying purposes to the point that I am the only one who can get it…”

          “If you notice, when I critique others I never mention grammar or punctuation, more about awkward phrasing and word usage, wooden dialogue and the such.” You are absolutely right.

    • jmcody says:

      You very deftly set the tone for this piece. This whole story seemed bathed in some kind of strange light, with a peculiar heaviness to the atmosphere, even before I understood that the locale was Mars. The red sand was a subtle hint that you planted in my subconscious along the way. The termination of the parents was brutal, even after I understood that they were robots, and that your protagonist was completely and devastatingly alone. Tragic story.

      If we ever do terraform Mars, I’m not going.

      • gamingtheblues says:

        Well I took inspiration from the fact that they are currently equipping and training the first colonists on Mars for a launch in the very near future, at least they were last time I checked. Some private company funding most of it.

    • snuzcook says:

      I love the depth of your story, and the echoes of Bradbury. A good, complete, satisfying, well-crafted story. A dagwood with a side of pie.

      • gamingtheblues says:

        I’m excited you got the Bradbury that I put into this!! I see someone here who has read his short stories. His space stories were always a little dark…eclectic and rather fast paced.

        • jmcody says:

          So many people on this forum have mentioned Bradbury that I am now going to have to add him to my reading list! I just love this group.

          • Kerry Charlton says:

            I have two words for this ‘hypnotic wonderment’. I could read this every day until I had it memorized and still not be tired.
            You used the computer to display the correct amount of emotion along with your writing. A thing of beauty.

        • snuzcook says:

          I think what I love about Bradbury, and what you accomplished here, was how he can write a tale set in an small American town (Something Wicked…) or on Mars and evoke the same essential human heart that contemplates its own mortality and an unknowable future. Until the clear Mars reference, your story could just as well be set in a Colorado retirement community.

          • gamingtheblues says:

            Thank you very very much Kerry! Your response is very touching and you have hit upon the evocation that I was trying for.

            Snuz, I am very appreciative of the comparison. Bradbury has written some of the quintessential must reads. Even a mild comparison is very flattering

            And JM… you must have read Fahrenheit 451… it is almost a must have for every 10th grade English Class. If not, I suggest you start there and hit some of his short story collections. He is what I refer to as a deep writer.

            And everyone else… Never fear… I will get to your stories farther down the page. I have been offered an INCREDIBLY difficult writing job and am figuring out how to do it.

          • jmcody says:

            Congrats on the writing assignment, and more congrats on it being a hard one, because it will give you an opportunity to shine. You’ll figure it out and if your writing on this forum is any indication, you will more than deliver. Happy for you! :)

    • Silver Sister says:

      Once again you’ve told a full-bodied tale with few words. Tone, setting, character development, plot – you skimped on nothing. The result is a piece that has a lingering quality all writers strive for in their work.

      P.S. Good luck and congrats on the writing gig!

      • gamingtheblues says:

        Thanks! I have to learn the ins and outs of investment analysis to secure the job lol… I have a verbal interview on my knowledge of the subject in a few days…and I know nothing about it! I have a lot of work to do!

    • agnesjack says:

      This made me think of Ray Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles,” which is a compliment because you’ve managed to create a very human world in an alien/robotic environment. The bond between the mother and father, even as robots, was lovely. I have to admit, I was a little confused in the beginning when you said he “traced the lines in the rough stone,” because I didn’t have my bearings yet with the story, but at the end, of course, I realized it was a grave marker. Such a tragic story.

      • agnesjack says:

        Ah, now that I’ve read the other comments, I see Bradbury has been mentioned quite a bit. I absolutely love his stories, so you should be proud of the comparison, GTB.

        • gamingtheblues says:

          Yes!! Martian Chronicles was in my heart when I wrote this ;) And I am extremely proud of the comparison, though I try to temper it with a healthy dose of reality about the difficulty of getting published.

          And I have to admit to being rather pleased in a way that you were confused at the beginning! I was hoping someone would question in their mind the significance of the stone and keep it in the back of their head while the rest of the story unfolded! Thank you for taking the time to check out my story and for your gracious compliments.

    • Reaper says:

      Beautiful. I also had thoughts of the Martian Chronicles on this one, with a little pillar of fire mixed in. I saw the comment about grammar. Sometimes commenting on it is the right thing, sometimes not, sometimes it is hard to tell. You use it like an artist. You obviously know the rules then break them to fit your purpose which is how it should be. I did not even notice any of them when I went through this. Though I do find it funny that you mention the Mars Colony. I had a friend get selected as a candidate for that. They are turning it into a reality TV show to see who makes their final cut. So good times.

      Congrats on the work. Oh and in case it wasn’t clear, this was awesome.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Enjoyed the story. I read it again after getting the punch at the end. It was enjoyable both times.

  43. madeindetroit says:

    MYSTIC SNOWMAN

    After fifteen inches of snow blanketed the northern Michigan town of Mystic and made travel impossible, April and her daughters Libby and Stella enjoyed a snow day—and built a snowman.

    “Girls,” she said, “let’s dress our snowman. Get me a scarf, a hat, and—“

    Before April could finish, the girls bolted for the house. As the silence crept in, she gazed at the fresh coat of white paint splashed across the landscape. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. The wind carried the scent of pinecones and wood smoke that transported her back…. A little girl struggled to push a ball of snow, collapsing face first in the snow. The man laughed and scooped her out of the snow with powerful arms. He gave her his scarf, hat, and wool mittens. “For the snowman,” he winked. They get cold, too.” Later they laughed and sipped hot chocolate by a roaring fire. When she opened her eyes she realized she stood in the exact spot where the snowman first appeared over thirty years ago.

    “Mom, look what we found!”

    April looked inside a tattered cardboard box cradled in Libby’s arms. “Where did you find this box?”

    “In the cellar, hidden behind the furnace,” Stella said.

    April removed a red plaid scarf, a grey Fedora, and a pair of charcoal wool mittens from the box. “These belonged to your grandfather. I haven’t seen this stuff since I was…your age.”

    Libby rolled her eyes. “Grandpa doesn’t need a scarf and mittens in Florida, mom.”

    Inside the house, April made hot chocolate and lit a fire. The girls cozied under a blanket in front of the fireplace and thawed frozen toes. She stared out the kitchen window at the snowman.

    Her phone buzzed. “April!” a frantic voice screamed.

    “Mom? Calm down. What’s wrong?”

    “It’s your father. He stopped moving. We were sitting on the veranda drinking iced tea when he…just froze. His skin is cold and clammy…like snow!”

    Goosebumps trickled down her arms. April peered at the snowman and shook her head in disbelief. It couldn’t be, she thought. Could it? “Mom, I think this might be my fault. I can fix this. I’ll call you back–”

    On the brink of panic, she stormed outside sans boots or gloves and with a mighty shove toppled the snowman. April plucked the Fedora, scarf, and mittens from the snow and stumbled back to the house. The phone buzzed when she reached the kitchen.

    “April, he’s fine. He snapped out of it like nothing happened. What did you do–?”

    “Thank God he’s okay.”

    “It’s the strangest thing,” her mother said. “When he came out of it, he babbled something about building a snowman with you in Mystic…when you were a child–”

    “It’s long story mom. I’ll tell you about it when we visit for Christmas.”

    “We’re worried about you and the girls. How’s the weather up there? We heard bitter cold and fifteen inches of snow.”

    April glanced at Libby and Stella huddled under the blanket, laughing and giggling with each other. She caught the aroma the Bayberry candle burning on the counter and smiled. “It’s wonderful, mom, just wonderful.”

  44. AnthonyChrist says:

    Cyrocious Missa, Always

    Nine years. Nine years have passed since my family and I were visited. Nine years have passed since all our questions had been answered. Nine years since I had been so grateful and yet so frightened that my life has changed for the better or the worse. It had been nine years since our weird paranormal experiences came to an end. Nine years since the discovery had spilt that I had fantasies in my blood; I was special. I was not like the other girls.

    At least father told me so. Paralyzed in a fetal position I’d cry through dark nights and teasing mornings to only be cradled by my father as he’d whispered sweet nothings into my ear. Father was always on my side even was mother wasn’t. Actually I don’t think mother ever liked me. I know I may sound paranoid, but I think she was out to get me. The way she’d stare at me with those dark brown hollow eyes tempted me to believe that she always to grab me by the hair and pound my head into the metallic edges of the stove’s handle until I was dead.

    Then she could…well I don’t know serve me to my father. I don’t know; I guess I’m kind of overthinking.
    Anyway my father had always been on my side. He cared for me unlike my mother and he always made me feel like the happiest girl on the planet. He always used to come home with those beautiful banquets of Coriander flowers. He’d always ask in the most torrid and violent tone, “Who’s ass am I going to beat today?” when I came home under a murky cloud. He loved me so much; he told me I was right when we both knew I was wrong. He tucked me into bed with a cute radio on the nightstand playing childish lullabies and a delectable cup of his drink, “A Volumen in fœno.” It was a drink only for special girls he said.

    My dad was my only friend and we would forever keep each other’s secrets as if they were our own. But…when I discovered the truth about what either of my parents thought of me I had to depart. My mother thought of me as a demon spawn amongst nature and my father…well let’s just say compared to my mother I wished he would’ve had the same view.

    I sat on my couch in my small lonely cramped apartment thinking about everyone and everything. My head hurt and I would go searching through my spell book to cast a healing spell on myself though I didn’t feel like using anymore magic today.

    My phone rang. I dug it out of my pocket and answered unenthusiastically. It was mother and she was hysterical.

    “Paige! Paige! It’s your father! Please help him!” She cried a loud as if we were in different dimensions. “I think someone has casted a spell on him and he’s frozen solid! Please-“

    I hung up the phone and sighed heavily. My dad is frozen solid and apparently I have to help. My mother sounded so upset and it’s funny, because I was starting to get the feeling that she hated him. And I? She had the nerve to ask me for help; the irony of the day.

    Nevertheless I knew what needed to be done. I had to save the day.

    I went into my room to get my spell book and chanted the correct incantations that would then teleport me at the front of my old home. It was falling apart; it and the memories. I strolled up the steps blowing the strands of auburn hair out of my eyes and went into the house. It should be logical to lock the front door when someone in your house has just gotten attacked by a psychopathic magic-user. I had to remind myself that logic was primary in this house.

    When I entered I was hit by a disgusting smell of burnt breakfast and spoiled cheese. Flies scurried around in the air as if they proclaimed it their land. My skin crawled when I saw the paintings with numerous scratches and mold on them. How does that even happen?

    “Mom!” I called out making my way up the creaky stairs, but there was no answer. I looked from room to room, but I found nothing, not my mom nor my father. Where had they gone?

    “Mom!” I called out again.

    Still no response.

    Walking downstairs I found myself remembering the routes of the houses and thus I made my way back up stairs. I missed a room, the attic. I knew my dad was in there. We spent all our time together there.

    And moments later, what do you know?

    I’m standing in the middle of a cobweb infested attic staring the old man right in the face. Yes he was frozen and long past dead. I could’ve died there too. I could’ve broke down right where I stood in the fetal position hoping that once again he scooped me up in his bulky arms. He wouldn’t and most importantly I didn’t although I did feel a ping of false nostalgia hit me.

    “Throw it in the grave, he’s dead.” I muttered to myself letting a single tear run down my pale cheek. My father was the victim of the spell, Cyrocious Missa. Who would do such a thing to him? Who had the right to intrude this home and hurt this innocent man?

    “…Paige?” A frail shaky voice asked from behind me.

    “Cyrocious Missa.”

    • jhowe says:

      Wow, pretty cool. I liked how the girl had fantasies in her blood. This was so well written, and strange, and fanciful. I really enjoyed it.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      This is a very deep and dark story and it takes a lot upon itself. You show great imagination and promise. The moments relating her memories with her father are especially well written. Be careful though that as a writer, if you tend to get lost in your world as you write, to afterwards re-read, out loud if necessary to listen for phrasing. There are at least a few lines of dialogue or prose that are awkward enough to have pulled me out of the story, with either the structure of the sentence or even a missing word here and there.

      That being said, there are some truly inspired moments (fantasies in the blood anyone?) and especially at the beginning I was really there with your MC, sympathizing with her (that gets a little lost near the end as I became unsure about how she felt about her father, it seemed at odds with the beginning) In any event, I did enjoy the story, thank you for sharing!

      Oh and if I read that right… Irish whiskey and ammarrato for a bedtime treat???? That’s one heck of a dad

    • jmcody says:

      Your story perplexed me, which sent me running to google, as I sensed there was much hidden meaning here. I was particularly disturbed by the relationship between the father and daughter, which I think was supposed to sound positive and supportive, but still upset me on some level.

      Coriander flowers signify sexual attraction. I couldn’t quite figure out what the nighttime potion was, but the word foeno seemed to also have some impure connotation. (GTB, you have to tell me where you are getting your Latin translations from!) Am I reading more into this story than you intended, or is this story even darker than it would initially appear?

      I agree with GTB (as usual) that there were enough issues with grammar and word choice that it did start to interfere with the story. However, you most definitiely have fantasies in your blood, and I hope you keep working at getting them down on paper. I sense a master storyteller in the rough here.

      • jmcody says:

        Also, please, I have to know what Cyrocious Missa is. Is it made up, or does it signify something? I am in love with symbolism and hidden meaning!

        • AnthonyChrist says:

          Sorry for any confusions with grammar and word choice. I really need to practice on that. Cyrocious Missa is made up and it’s a freezing spell.

          The main character Paige viewed the relationship between she and her father as negative which is why in the line, “But…when I discovered the truth about what either of my parents thought of me I had to depart. My mother thought of me as a demon spawn amongst nature and my father…well let’s just say compared to my mother I wished he would’ve had the same view.”

          She was too gullible at the time to know her father was hinting towards sexual relations and when she found out she left. I guess nostalgia just hit her hard though.

          • gamingtheblues says:

            Anthony I give you more credit than I had given the first time. To layer that subtext into the story in such a subtle, ingrained way is inspired. Well done

      • gamingtheblues says:

        oh my god jd… holy crap. How did I miss that connotation. I just thought it was a funny little drink. But with you reading into a more….sinister relationship between the two… A Volumen in fœno directly translates into “A roll in the hay” a drink characterized by its mixing of Whiskey with some other things, sometimes soda water but I know it as Irish whiskey, Amaretto and umm Chambord. But under the context you present, a roll in the hay sounds a lot more…. well.. strange to say the least.

    • Reaper says:

      GTB is in full effect, any things I would have said about phrasing has been covered? Check. So, onto the good stuff.

      Holy crap this is deep and dark. I was sure I was misreading it, and in a way I was. I assumed the relationship with the father was active not desired, so having that clarification that it was just what the father wanted made me able to breath again. I was glad I wasn’t alone in that when I read jmcody’s comments.

      The symbolism here is deep and I love that, it is often bypassed these days and it is impressive and well done. I agree there is an in the rough aspect in form, but I agree with jmcody as usual in her agreement with gtb as usual, there is a master storyteller here.

  45. rle says:

    Arnie Miller hated his father. He always had and likely always would. Some of his earliest childhood memories were of his father cursing at him and saying things like, “look at you, You’re gonna grow up and be a sissy boy ain’t ya’? You sure ain’t gonna be no football player like your old man.” Earl Miller would hold his thumb and forefinger just a millimeter apart, “Came this close to winnin’ the Heisman trophy and goin’ pro ’till I blew out my knee. None of that for you though huh, wimpy boy.”

    Arnie’s mother, in her nasally, whining voice would always say, “Aw Earl, leave him alone, he’s just a little boy.”

    “How’s that?” Arnie’s father would bark back. Earl had been hard of hearing forever and that was his crude way of asking you what you had said.

    Mabel Miller would repeat herself, this time a little louder. On good days he’d respond with, “Aw shut the hell up woman, what do you know anyway.” On bad days she’d end up with a black eye, a bloody nose, or both.

    As Arnie grew, the ritual brow beating continued. He often wished his father would have won the Heisman and gone on to play in the pros. Maybe this way Arnie would have never been born and his mother would have had a chance to marry a decent man.

    One time when Arnie was twelve, he had a dream that his father had been stranded in a blizzard and had frozen to death. Even though he loathed his father, he hated how this dream made him smile.

    Eventually, Arnie graduated high school and college, got a job and started a family. At age twenty six, he suddenly fell on hard times. First, his job left town, then his wife left town. With no income and no place to call home, he was at his wits end.

    At the urging of his mother, he reluctantly moved back into the basement he’d inhabited as a child. Of course, instead of offering words of comfort or encouragement, the only thing his father could conjure up was, “How long you gonna be here, sissy boy?”

    “I’m not sure,” Arnie meekly replied.

    “How’s that?” Earl snorted, hand cupped behind his ear.

    “Not long!” Arnie shouted as he slammed the basement door behind him.

    That evening Earl and Mabel had a huge argument. Actually, Earl did most of the arguing and Mabel just sat there and took it like she always had. Arnie knew the fuss was all about him. It always was. After fifteen minutes, Earl was silent. Arnie knew his mother was speaking because after thirty seconds he heard a loud, “How’s that?” Then he heard a smack, then a thud, then nothing.

    In a moment he heard his mothers footfalls shuffling quickly toward the basement door, “Arnie, Arnie!” she cried, “something’s happened to your father, come quick!”

    As he bounded up the steps, Arnie secretly hoped the son of a bitch had finally given himself a heart attack but when he rounded the corner he found that something even better had happened. Sitting there in his chair, was Earl Miller, frozen solid. Sometimes dreams do come true.

    Arnie’s mother was frantic, “Do something Arnie, do something,” she shrieked.

    He approached the chair and grabbed the Louisville Slugger his father kept propped there for protection. Before he had an instant to think, he shouldered the bat and swung full force, shattering his father into a million tiny shards.

    As he stood there and watched the scattered slivers of what used to be Earl Miller slowly melt away, he felt a lone warm tear struggle down his cheek. A tiny smile formed on his lips.

    “How’s that?” Arnie whispered.

    • pinkbamboo says:

      wow powerful story. i felt the pain of the mc – grudging against his father his whole life that when he finally smashed his dad, i don’t know whether to feel horrified or glad for him. the last line – love it.

    • lionetravail says:

      Nicely told, super condensed, and a great take on the prompt. Forget mechanism of how, this cut right to strong emotion. Well done!

    • Critique says:

      Great story rle. The dialogue interspersed with the story was perfect. Loved your ending sentence. I’m cheering for Arnie and his Mom.

    • Reaper says:

      There is a lot of power here. You know how to tug the heart strings. The ending line was perfect, and you described a man who feels the little boy inside when he confronts his father, especially an abusive one. Perfect job on the characters. I’m left feeling bad for mom because she’s going to feel guilty when she should feel relieved. I also feel bad for the son because if his dream is any indication he will feel regret once the triumph fades and the hollow victory of revenge settles in. But for dad I have zero sympathy and yet he felt real and not like a throw away antagonist. Great work here.

    • jhowe says:

      I have chills. Well done.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      How’s that indeed. I thought the pacing nice, conveying back story, relationships, current situation and conclusion. With some black humor at the end I thought it was great. I agree with Pinky up there, powerful story.

    • jmcody says:

      Surreal and sad. I felt an initial small rush of victory for Arnie, following an even bigger pang of sadness. This is ultimately a tragedy, that it came to this. That Louisville Slugger making contact with the brittleness of his father’s person might have felt good for a moment, but it was sure to be followed by what will probably be a crippling sadness. Mother and son will never look at each other the same way again. Wow, this is depressing…

    • Dennis says:

      I echo the tone that the emotion was powerful. Hoping someone would finally tell Earl off, and only feeling slightly relieved at the ending with all of the underlining sadness still there. Well written.

  46. DMelde says:

    Cosmicman stood in front of the door to Hell wondering if he was supposed to knock before going in. This was all new to him, and the only reason he was there in the first place was because he needed something really hot to thaw out the Hornbloeger, a large gelatinous beast who was frozen solid. Some blamed Cosmicman for freezing the Hornbloeger, but personally Cosmicman blamed the Hornbloeger. After all, it was the Hornbloeger who got in the way when Cosmicman fired his colder-enhanced, Glacier Ice-Blaster. He walked right into the line of fire and how was Cosmicman supposed to know that the Hornbloeger would act so stupid? Now everything was a mess. The Shriek leopard, Hornbloeger’s annoyingly loud partner was on a rampage. The Hornbloeger was frozen solid. And Cosmicman was standing outside the door to Hell. It couldn’t get any worse.

    He didn’t want to knock on Hell’s door and draw attention to himself. He was only there to “borrow” some hot rocks. On the other hand, if he was caught entering Hell without permission, he wondered what kind of trouble he might get himself into. It could be a bad thing because these were the kind of thugs that you never wanted to cross. Cosmicman thought about it, and he decided to knock softly, hoping no one would hear. Then, if he was caught, he could say he had knocked.

    (Knock knock.)

    When no one answered Cosmicman snuck in.

    He made his way across a deserted room filled with large mushroom-like objects that the denizens of Hell used as furniture. The floor was covered by moss that grabbed at his shoes, trying to trip him into falling so it could devour him. Cosmicman scrunched up his face as fought the moss, and he turned up his nose at the wretched smelling room. Finally, he reached the next room where the hot rocks were. Peering inside, he saw the Shriek leopard herself standing by the rocks.

    “Curses.” Cosmicman muttered to himself. He looked around wildly for a weapon to use against the beast. Not finding a weapon, he went into Hell’s bathroom where he filled up a chalice that he found there with holy water. But was it holy enough?

    Silently he crept back into the room where the Shriek leopard was. Sneaking up behind her he threw the water onto her head as he yelled –

    “I BAPTIZE THEE!”

    The Shriek leopard whirled around.

    “CALVIN!!” The Shriek leopard shouted. “Why aren’t you outside helping your father shovel snow? GO! NOW! And don’t throw any more snowballs! IS THIS TOILET WATER?!!”

    Cosmicman ran for his life back through Hell, picking up his coat and gloves along the way. He found safety outside with the frozen Hornbloeger. Shriek leopard might have won the day but he’d be back, and next time he’d bring holier water.

    • DMelde says:

      I have mixed feelings about comparing the home of an Icon to Hell. It just doesn’t seem right somehow to me. I mean no disrepect to such a wonderful character (even a fictional one) and his family. -DMelde.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      Very unique and cool. You can tell by my name that I enjoy things with holy water and such :) Great job!

    • stoland1999 says:

      Hilarious take on the prompt! Great descriptions, I loved it!

    • Kate24 says:

      I’m picturing a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip at the very end, which made this read so much more enjoyable. Brilliant take if that is the case.

    • Kemter says:

      I may or may not be right, but what I got from this story was that the MC is a little boy pretending to be Cosmicman and letting his imagination take over. And I thought that the whole thing was adorable and brilliant for that reason because the give-away isn’t until the end, you just kind of get wrapped in this kid’s story until his mom drags you both out again. Very well done, and even if I’m not right, I still liked your story.

    • Critique says:

      Is there a tiny chance this might resemble a Calvin (Cosmicman) and Hobbes (Hornbloeger) and his mother – Shriek Leopard cartoon? A fun read and I felt from the perspective of a little boy.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I think Kemter nailed your story and in doing so, it turned to a clever and delightful tale. A young boy’s imagination can carry him to all kinds of intriguing places, mine did.

        I thought this a very clever write, DMelde.

    • jmcody says:

      Definitely Calvin and Hobbes! Love it!

      I started to get the kid vibe when Cosmicman decided to knock softly, hoping no one would hear, so he could claim that he knocked. So funny!

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Growing up I had a GIANT calvin and hobbes anthology and would read it religiously. This could easily stand right next to them and those were actually well written, intelligent comics so this is nothing but a compliment. Nice.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Totally brilliant. I really enjoyed this read.

    • agnesjack says:

      Your first line grabbed my interest immediately. I loved Calvin and Hobbes and even kept the final comic that appeared in the Sunday paper. This was terrifically entertaining and fun and scary, all at the same time, the way a child’s imagination might work. Very nice, dmelde.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      This reminds me how much I miss Calvin and Hobbes. Thanks for the story.

  47. Marc Ellis says:

    “What is that fool doing?” said James over the din of the pub.

    James and I were enjoying the happy-hour wings special, and he was watching the news on the TV over the bar.

    The laughter in the room lifted my eyes to the television. A news helicopter was providing a live, aerial view of a breaking story. Outside the town’s police station stood a man in clown makeup wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. He was frozen in a Statue-of-Liberty pose, and held, instead of a torch, a yellow purse bedazzled in rhinestones.

    My stomach sunk like I had swallowed a lead softball.

    The TV correspondent was commenting on the police officers trying to communicate with the man. “Ladies and gentlemen,” said the newsman “it appears officers found a note in the man’s handbag.”

    The airborne camera zoomed in on a police officer unfolding a red piece of paper. A reporter on the ground put a microphone in his face. “We have a reporter on the ground,” said the announcer. “Standby…we’re working on an audio link.”

    “It appears to be a heart-shaped piece of red construction paper,” said the policeman. “There’s a message that says to call Laura Baker.”

    James turned to me with a stupid, open-mouthed grin. “Dude, that’s your mom!”

    Before I could respond, I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket. The screen identified my mom as the caller. “Mom,” was all I could say over my increasing nausea.

    She was in a screaming panic. “Andrew, please help. Your dad…he just…he just vanished. The police called. They’re sending an officer and a car. I think…your…your dad…I don’t know what is going on.”

    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.”

    “I’m scared!”

    “Don’t turn on the TV. I’ll call you back.”

    James was still staring at me. “Do you remember that book I bought on spring break in New Orleans?” I asked. He responded with a quiet, affirmative nod.

    “I’m pretty sure my brother has been rummaging through my room looking for my stash. I thought the book was just a novelty, but the store owner seemed like the real deal.”

    “That dude gave me the creeps,” said James. “Andy, what…what did you do?”

    “I tried the Kleptofrigidix spell. It’s to protect your stuff. If someone touches something you want to protect, it freezes them wherever and however you want. My dad must have found it instead.”

    “Are you serious?” said James.

    “I didn’t think it would work. It just felt good imagining my brother’s humiliation. This is bad.”

    “So…is there a cure or something?”

    Facedown on the table, I covered my head with my arms. “This is bad,” I repeated. I looked up at James. “I have to ask you for a favor,” I said.

    “What it is?”

    “I was really having fun with that spell. I couldn’t think of a cure my brother would dislike any more than…to get a kiss from you!”

    “Sorry dude, the police station’s got a new statue.”

  48. Critique says:

    “Mom, what’s wrong?” Her distress was annoying.

    “S-s-something’s wrong with Dad. He’s been acting strangely these past few days.” Her voice rose. “Now, he’s just frozen like. I don’t know what to do.”

    “Calm down Mom.” I resented the guilty thought that crept into my head. “Where is he?”

    “I found him out in the barn. Should I call an ambulance?”

    “No!” I took a deep breath. “Everything’s going to be fine. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

    A pressure cooker of excitement and dread built in my throat. In a quest to bolster my research I reasoned with my father privately – so Mom wouldn’t know – to take part in my experiments. My cattle farmer Dad refused every time so I came up with a plan. During his nap after Sunday dinner, I injected him with my soon-to-be patented formula.

    The thing is he’ll never remember.

    I packed a several vials and syringes in my briefcase with trembling hands. What if the outcomes went in reverse?

    I gave myself a talking to. As a gifted scientist I prided myself on being open minded and having supreme confidence in myself and my work. Beside, this would be my gift to the world. What could be more important then that?

    Clouds of dust and gravel spewed out behind my jeep as I careened down the winding driveway of my parent’s farm.

    “Has anything changed?” I sprinted past her to the open barn door.

    “No. He feels like ice.” She noticed my briefcase and started running behind me. “What are you going to do?”

    “Mom I need you to go and heat up some blankets in the dryer.” She stopped, a perplexed look on her face. “Mom? Now!”

    My Dad was sitting upright on the tractor seat, a look of terror on his darkening face. Both hands were planted on the steering wheel. Had I gone too far?

    “Dad this will be over before you know it.”

    I took out a vial and filled a syringe with my secret formula. Rolling up the cotton sleeve of his shirt I inserted the needle into the vein in the crease of his elbow and pushed the plunger.

    The seconds ticked by. Not a twitch. His face was turning black like his Angus cows. The sweat dripped off my forehead.

    “Come. On. Dad.” I ground out through clenched teeth. “You gotta do this for me.”

    Nothing happened.

    The screen door slammed. Was mother back so soon?

    I congratulated myself for thinking to bring the other vial.

    The thing is, she’ll never remember.

    • jhowe says:

      Talk about your die hard scientist…. Nice job. The perfect blend of well written dialog and informative narrative.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      Really loved “A pressure cooker of excitement and dread built up in my throat.” I thought it was a very unique and fresh way to describe an emotion that is so often described in some trite, boring way. Really great!

    • Reaper says:

      I like the word play. I have a friend who loves this type of character, so much so that I didn’t know it was a type until she described it to me as the man of science that isn’t evil but never considers morality when they are doing an experiment. Normally we see them on TV or movies, so seeing one in print was nice, and it added depth because of the mental justifications he went through. Good story with a very subtle, scary ending.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      What’s that…I think I hear the Twilight Zone music starting. I enjoyed the story.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Your story kept me on the edge of a clift until I raced to the end and found out it wasn’t over. Talk about excitement and dedication to the cause. What’s so scary about this, is these people really exist in life, blinded to the morality of live and clouded by the fame that might be in their delusionaly mind. Shudder! Great read. Keep them coming.

    • jmcody says:

      As so often happens with scientists — both in literature and in life — your character crossed the line from supreme confidence into supreme arrogance. You did a good job of spinning a web of the MCs own creation that she (he?) couldn’t get her/himself out of. This turned out to be darker than I was expecting. Nice work, Critique.

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh dear, she’s going to freeze mom, too? Why is dad turning black? I’m scared. This was fascinating, critique. I think she thinks she more scientifically gifted than she really is, though.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      This was chilling. I found this extremely dark actually. I think your MC accidentally killed Dad and is now going to experiment on mom because she is going to “see” too much. Yikes.

      • Critique says:

        The story could go several ways – he tries the experiment on the unsuspecting Mom because it failed on the Dad, or else she is killed too. I didn’t intend for it to be so dark. The story spun in that direction with each progressive sentence.
        Thank you all for the comments I appreciate the input very much.
        I truly am enjoying this site – all the wonderful imaginative stories and the interesting/ insightful commentaries.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Last line is perfection. Part of me wonders if she sees her parents as perfect lab mice because they are but simple farm folk and she is fancy schmacy scientist. It’s an interesting dynamic.

  49. Amyithist says:

    I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Mom’s voice was frantic as she repeated herself one more time. “Jess, your father is frozen…I don’t know what to do!”
    “Okay, Mom.” My voice is nearly a whisper as I gaze at myself in my dresser mirror. I’m almost afraid of what I may see lurking behind my eyes and I turn away as tears start to form. “I’ll be over in a few minutes. Just…keep him warm, okay?”
    Mom mumbled something as I hung the phone up. I hurried down the stairs and into the foyer, sweeping my keys from the table and rushing out the door. I paused as I started my car. My heart was hammering inside of my chest as I listened to the hum of the engine. I had been so afraid that this day would come. I’d wondered what I’d do if it ever happened…and now that it was here, I felt completely unprepared.
    Sighing, I reached over and grabbed my purse. I reached in and fingered the only weapon that would combat this. It was my refuge, my savior, my rescue. I retracted my hand from the mouth of my purse and backed out of the drive.
    When I pulled up to the house I’d spent my whole life in, an unexpected feeling of sadness overwhelmed me. Upstairs, a light glowed in the bedroom. I could see Mom’s silhouette as she paced back and forth over the floor. I grabbed my purse and hurried up the walk to the front door. I twisted the knob and stepped inside. The smell of my childhood wafted up to greet me and I allowed myself a sliver of time to indulge in it. The scent of cinnamon potpourri and moth balls cloyed at my nostrils as I hurried up the stairs and down the hall. A line of light slipped through the cracked bedroom door. I caught a flash of blue terry cloth as Mom paced from wall to wall. My stomach lurched and I reached into my purse, pulling my weapon.
    I inched down the hall, steering clear of the loose floorboards I knew would tip her off that I was coming. The same fear I’d felt as a child suffocated my senses. I let my breath out slowly and drew another as deep as my lungs would allow. Here it goes, I thought.
    I pushed the door open. Mom’s head jerked up. Her eyes were wet from tears and she was sobbing uncontrollably. “Jess, thank God,” she whispered. “You have to help me. Your father is frozen solid and I think the little green men are out on the front lawn.” She dashed to the window, pushing the lace curtains aside. “Did you see them out there,” she cried.
    “No,” I said gently. “Mom, there are no little green men.”
    “Of course not,” she laughed. “They’d never let you see them. You’ve always tried and they’re just too smart for you.” She pushed the curtains further apart and pressed her face against the window pane.
    I sighed heavily and pulled the weapon up. I opened the bottle and shook two pills out. “Come on, Mom,” I said gently. “Take your medicine. This will all go away once you take these.”
    She turned, frowning at me. “Jessica, don’t be ridiculous,” she shouted. “I’m not crazy! Your father,” she dashed over to the closet and tore it open, expecting to show me my father frozen solid. Instead, an array of old, outdated suits stared back at us. “He-he was just here,” she stammered.
    Tears rolled down my cheeks. “Mom, Dad’s dead,” I whispered. “He’s been dead for years. Please, just take your pills, okay?”
    For a moment, Mom stared at the closet as though it were going to spew forth her husband any moment. Her body began to tremble and I knew that reality was starting to settle back in. She turned to me, her face etched with understanding. “It happened again, didn’t it?”
    I nodded slowly and handed her the pills. I watched as she tossed them back. “Jess, I’m-I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
    “Don’t be,” I said, gently leading her to the bed. “Everything is going to be okay, Mom.” She sighed and laid back against the flannel sheets. She suddenly looked exhausted. The psychotic episodes usually did that to her. As I pulled the blankets up around her, I cursed myself for forgetting to get her pills to her. It was the second time in as little as a month. I sighed and sat in the chair across from her bed, watching as she drifted off to sleep. I decided then and there that I was lousy at taking care of her. I hated the idea of taking her back to the hospital, but I didn’t see any other way.
    I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and a chill crept over my spine. Sometimes when I looked at myself, I would see her staring back at me, watching me. How long before I end up in a mental ward? I thought. How long before I become exactly like my mother? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Please, God, don’t ever let that happen.

    • jhowe says:

      And that, kids, is how I met a great writer. Amyithist, my God, that was perfect. This is ready for publication.

    • Dennis says:

      Really well done. Could feel the emotion of the scene.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      I really enjoyed how you kept the weapon a mystery, and I thought the twist at the end was interesting with the father not even being alive!

    • madeindetroit says:

      Excellent story. Enjoyed it very much.

    • don potter says:

      A beautifully written tale about a sad state of affairs. Your description of the mother’s condition and the fear this instilled in the daughter was solid prose.

    • Critique says:

      Loved your story – you told it so well. Wonderful descriptive words that made it emotionally poignant.

    • jmcody says:

      Well crafted mystery with all of the richness and texture I have come to expect from you. Thanks for showing me how it’s done.

    • lionetravail says:

      Poignant and disturbing, and a wonderful take on the prompt- mental illness rather than magic. Awesome!

    • Reaper says:

      As always Amyithist, I read your work and I am suddenly sitting at the kiddie table. I don’t know how you do it but your prompts get more intense every week. I loved the slow reveal of the weapon, and your descriptions are a masterpiece as always. I found myself waiting for you to describe a scent because that draws me in deeper and some part of my mind always sees it in your work and says this is where the story gets real. Tragic and deep on so many level. I am once again in awe of you.

      • Amyithist says:

        Thank you all very much for the kind comments. You are very talented as well. As writers, we all pull from our environments and you all inspire me very much. Thank you for reading my prompts. I hope to continue to entertain you the same way you entertain me! :)

    • Marc Ellis says:

      I enjoyed your story. Your vivid descriptions made reading your piece like watching a movie scene.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I’m having a hard time, responding to your story. I’ve been so moved by it and at my age, I realize the possibility of the future. I’m constantly walking through a mine field of friends, some lifetime, that fall ill and die. That’s hard enough, but when I see they struggling with the mental decline, as you so vividly portray, it brings tears for my friends as well as for my older brother.

        As jhowe said, there is no question in my mind. Submit it and do it right away. I was so touched by it and I sit on the same bench as Reaper, with my mouth open.

        • Amyithist says:

          I’m sorry that it affected you so much, Kerry. I pull from my own experience with my great-grandmother. After her stroke, she would say and do the weirdest things and I was just a little girl; the episodes left me frightened and worried for her. I tried to convey that here, but from an adult’s perspective. Thank you for the kind comments. :)

    • gamingtheblues says:

      It appears I am rather late to the party yet, oftentimes that means you get the leftovers with the fighting! You touch humanity in this story, the selflessness and then that inner selfishness that we all have and few acknowledge.

      Yes you care for your loved ones who are ill, and wish they were not, and yet at the same time fear that the same might happen to you. Its a weird dichotomy that has left better men than myself feeling grateful that they, are as of yet, not sick, yet guilty that someone around them is.

      Truly well done. Almost unfortunately too close to reality.

    • Silver Sister says:

      The mother’s moment of lucidity is heartbreaking. When you get a glimpse of the guilt she feels for her a decline she’s powerless to stop . . . it’s moving. Excellent writing. Beautiful and true.

  50. seliz says:

    ——–Normal———–

    Zoey’s mom doesn’t look happy.

    “Callie, did you tell your parents you were coming over?”

    “Yes…”

    “Your mom’s on the phone. She sounds upset.”

    With her hands on her hips, she’s making her best attempt to look angry. She’s not doing a very good job. Sadness lines her face.

    Her eyes say, “Her daddy is dying.”

    I know that look.

    I see it all the time.

    I shoulder past her to answer the phone. Cradling the receiver, I listen.

    “Callie May, come home right now!”

    “Please Mom, just a little longer. I never get to play anymore!”

    “This isn’t a joke, Callie,” Mom says angrily. “Your father is frozen. It’s like someone cast a spell on him.”

    We both know who that someone is.

    As soon as I’m home, Mom marches me to Dad.

    He’s on a cot in the living room; blankets piled high. There’s life in his eyes and his skin is a normal color; not the yellow color of sickness. His face is curled into smile and for the first time in a long time, he looks happy.

    Except for the fact that he’s frozen, he looks normal. Not sick.

    I curl up next to him, taking in the warmth of his body.

    “Callie,” Mom says gently. “Just because we have powers, doesn’t mean we should use them.”

    I stare at the threads of the blanket, tears blurring my eyes.

    “Why not? What’s the point of having powers if I can’t save him?”

    Our family has the gift of magic and Dad is still dying. Dying of bone cancer. Over the past month, he’s gone from energetic and happy to practically an invalid. And Mom won’t do anything—not a single spell to help him.

    “Everyone dies, Callie.”

    My chest heaves at her words, fresh tears warming my cheeks.

    “Not Daddy,” I whisper.

    Mom’s crying, too.

    “I don’t want to lose him either. All we can do is enjoy the time we have left.”

    I tilt my head to look at Dad.

    If I unfreeze him, we’ll only have a few days until he takes another turn for the worst. He’ll try to hide it, not wanting to scare us. But I’ll see it; the look on his face when he can’t do something he used to be able to. That breaks him almost as much as the cancer does.

    I hate it.

    “Callie,” Mom says.

    “Fine, I’ll unfreeze him, okay?”

    Placing my hand on his cheek, I whisper the spell.

    Dad’s eyes open, as if waking from a dream. He yawns and smiles sheepishly.

    “How long was I out? I hope I didn’t sleep the day away.”

    “You didn’t,” Mom says, scooting close to him.

    We lay sandwiched together. I don’t want to move.

    I’m afraid to miss a single moment with him.

    Instead, I memorize every line of his face; every glance of his eyes. I want to keep him frozen forever. The memory of Dad when he was normal. Not sick.

    • jhowe says:

      That was touching seliz. Magic can’t fix everything it seems. Nice job in conveying Callie’s feelings.

    • don potter says:

      Nicely done.

    • pinkbamboo says:

      aww this made me sad – in a good way that touched my heart. i would want to keep him frozen forever too.

    • jmcody says:

      This was a poignant and beautiful metaphor. Even if we could stop the march of time, to keep our children innocent, our loved ones from dying and ourselves from getting older, it would only stop us from truly living. The beauty of life is in its ephemeral nature. You conveyed something very profound in a very simple way. Bravo!

    • Reaper says:

      This is amazing Seliz. I seriously have nothing but good things to say about it. The daughter’s voice is amazing as it mom’s. Dad is that perfect superhero father the way kids see them and they should be. Tragic and heart breaking with two rights in conflict. Your story choked me up twice. Once for the little girl losing her childhood and wanting just a couple hours to play and then again at the plight of the family. Some powerful stuff here.

    • This made me sad. But, it was really good. The MC is certainly in a predicament.

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Nice story. How many times would we be tempted to freeze time in our lives, and if we had this power, would it ever work out for the good?

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        There’s not much I can add to the above, except that you touched my heart in a special way. This is beautifully composed and you should be very proud of this story and so should the forum to have your talent shine each week as we jump from prompt to prompt, opening our personalities and sometimes our soul to our little band of writers.

    • Critique says:

      A sweet story that captures those precious moments of time that we cling too with all our hearts, knowing all the while it won’t last. ♥

    • agnesjack says:

      Ah, seliz, you’ve portrayed so beautifully the desire to keep the passage of time and its inevitable consequences, “frozen.” I loved when the girl curled up next to her father. Having lost my sister to cancer, I know what it’s like to want to picture her when she was happy and healthy and oblivious to what was to come. Lovely story.

      p.s. I hope you don’t mind my mentioning that I was a tad confused by the opening dialogue, but it didn’t really matter for the impact of the story.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Even though I deeply disagree with the choices of your characters ;) (what can I say, I believe that eternal life would be nothing but good in the long run, reaching for the stars if you will) this was poignant and a special story. It feels like a word version of a memorial collage. Lovely

    • Silver Sister says:

      I liked her friend’s mother’s attempt to treat the MC normally and her failure because she knows what the girl is going through. The mention of that look in her eyes was particularly poignant. How is a girl supposed to be a kid and forget her troubles when it shows up on everyone’s faces?

      • seliz says:

        Thank you for the kind words everyone! I’m glad that the scene touched you guys. I was trying my best to make it something people could connect with (albeit through a sad topic).

  51. col_ingus says:

    This can’t be happening, I think, realizing I had entrapped my father with my own dreadful secret.

    Eight years ago, I was returning home for Thanksgiving when I found myself nearly out of gas.

    Sixty miles to go and on empty, I pulled into the next town.

    In broad daylight I parked at an old service station. It had an ancient hand-crank pump in front of an old brick shack. The windows were boarded up. Not quite the image of convenience. Yet, the sign on the door read, “OPEN.”

    No credit card reader, I went inside.

    “Hello!” I yelled, holding the door open.

    “Come in!” A voice replied from the back.

    I couldn’t see a register, just a tall aisle of assorted random items for which I could never imagine coming here to buy.

    I let the door shut and walked slowly around to the other side, where I noticed a feeble-looking elderly woman at a desk.

    “Hi there,” I said to the grizzled old lady. “Could I get some gas?”

    “Sure!” She grinned. “For a secret.”

    A secret? This place was super creepy, but knowing I would not make out of town on fumes, I decided to play along.

    She had a cigarette in her nearly toothless mouth and a savage smile that enwrapped her face in lines.

    “Um, what secret?” I said.

    She got to the point. “Lean over here and tell me your deepest darkest secret, and I will give you all the gas you want.”

    I was at a loss at first, but I didn’t see a knife in her hand either. Maybe if I give her too embarrassing a secret, she’ll break the charade and take my money.

    So, I told her one.

    She stood and grasped my hands, “Yesss! That’s a GOOD secret! For this, I will give you more than just fuel. I will bring a FREEZING CURSE upon you or anyone who ever perpetrates this crime a second time!”

    I pulled away, but her grip was strong.

    “I’m sorry,” I croaked, unable to break free.

    “When you’re frozen, you will THEN be sorriest!” She let go.

    As I fled, she yelled through laughter, “Only the open truth will ever thaw ye out!”

    Of course, I fueled up before I left.

    So now, as I walk again into my childhood home, Mom runs up to me in tears. Frantically, she leads me into my big sister’s old bedroom, where Dad stands his skivvies, frozen solid in front of an open dresser.

    “What’s happened to him?” She asks, terrified.

    “Mom,” I say, covering my eyes. “I think he’ll be okay. But, I’m afraid that Dad, um … must have masturbated into my sister’s panties.”

    After I explain, there is little more to say. We wrap him in a blanket and watch him slowly thaw over the next two hours.

    Dad starts to stir.

    I stand. “I’ll show myself out.”

    • jhowe says:

      Heavy stuff. The brother and the dad seem to have a bit of a problem.

    • Reaper says:

      Creepy in two ways. Never make a deal with an old woman in a ghost town. You had a surreal supernatural creep element, then a more mundane and sick version at home. I loved one twisting into the other. The last line was priceless and I laughed in spite of myself. The tense shift at the end was perfect, but there is one line where you do it in the gas station where it seems like you are trying to convey thought but I’m not sure, so it was a little jarring.

    • agnesjack says:

      I really liked the description of the old lady/witch, the dialogue in the gas station and the concept of revealing secrets, but I have to admit that the ending really creeped me out. An original story, though.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      It takes all kinds, and writers often find themselves exploring the darker/weirder side of humanity. This story was twisted and sad in the most profound of ways, even if the light tone belied the truths at its heart. The real tension is very palatable.

  52. jhowe says:

    Roscoe Williams paced anxiously on the faux Persian rug in his den as he spoke with his mother on the phone. “By frozen, do you mean frozen like ice or frozen like stone?”

    “Well, he isn’t cold,” said his mother. “But he isn’t hard like stone either.”

    “Would you say he’s alive? Is he breathing?”

    “Oh yes, I’m afraid he’s very much alive. Here, let me put you on speaker.”

    “Wait, don’t do that,” said Roscoe. Too late.

    “Hey you son of a bitch,” his father shouted. “What the hell did you do to me?”

    Roscoe winched. “It wasn’t me exactly Dad. You see I specifically told him to delay you for a few days. I didn’t think he’d render you immobile.”

    “What do you mean, delay me? Why would you want to delay me?”

    “Well Dad, let me think.” Roscoe sat at his desk and put his feet up. “You’re a mean, sick man. I’m moving Mom out, somewhere far away where you can’t abuse her any more. Would you have sat still for that?”

    “Listen to me you ungrateful bastard,” his father said. “Martha quit dusting me!”

    “Mom don’t dust Dad while I’m talking to him.”

    “Ok dear.”

    His father continued, “Listen you piss poor excuse for a son, you get whatever idiot it was that froze me and unfreeze me, understand?”

    “I’m afraid I can’t do that Dad.” Roscoe checked his watch. “The idiot in question is currently stationed in front of your house, eagerly awaiting my instructions. Would you like me to pass on that you have little regard for his intelligence?”

    “Look Roscoe, I may have been a little harsh. Why don’t you ask the gentleman to come in, unfreeze me, and we’ll talk. How’s that?”

    “Well that would be good Dad, if I trusted you.”

    “Roscoe, I swear if you don’t unfreeze me, I’ll hunt down your mother, wherever she ends up, I’ll hunt down your sorry ass and I’ll hunt down that idiot who froze me and you’ll all end up dead.”

    “Dad, the idiot, who you will meet momentarily, is a descendant of Satan himself. You see I made a deal with him.”

    “What kind of deal?” his father said with a faltering voice.

    “You’re through abusing mom,” Roscoe said. “If you try to hunt anybody down it’s quite simple. Either way, your soul is spoken for. It’s up to you when you surrender it.”

    His father said nothing.

    “Mom, why don’t you go and pack a couple of suitcases. Take your time. I’ll be there in about an hour.”

    “Ok dear, goodbye.”

    “Goodbye Mom.’ Roscoe hesitated a few beats, “Goodbye Dad.”

    • seliz says:

      I really liked this. The dialogue flowed effortlessly. I loved the descriptions as well. I could clearly see both ends of the phone during the conversation. The bit about the Mom dusting the Dad was too funny.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      Interesting! A lot of people can connect with this and just about anyone would be touched by it! I think this would make a really cool and unique YA novel. Don’t know if that’s your thing, but still…it would be a great idea :)

    • don potter says:

      Good story about a bad father.

      • Reaper says:

        I’m going to quote Don here as he has the perfect response. I am also always a little creeped out by a mythology where you can sell someone else’s soul. It fits nicely into the tone you have for this.

    • lionetravail says:

      If you build on this, JHowe, Mom needs more of a voice. She’s pretty calm about dusting her frozen husband, and then going to pack a couple of suitcases- I know the word limit is there, but, wow, I’d like to know how she’s maintained her equanimity, or if it’s just a thin veneer over resentment, hurt, panic, or take-your-pick :)

      Cool story.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I think you could build this story into a forceful message about abused and battered women. The limits of the 500, make that a hard write hear but with no limit and enough back write, it woild be far easier for you. There are many times in writing the 500, I feel encased in quick dry concrete. Sometimes I want to write sentences like this.
        “Jeet? No, jew?

    • Critique says:

      Interesting story that reveals what kind of damage is done to those in a abusive relationship. The Mom has shut down and is just going through the motions. Well done!

    • Marc Ellis says:

      Enjoyed the story. I could see this continue as a scary story or as a comedy like Little Nicky. Revenge could be funny, terrifying, or both.

    • agnesjack says:

      Whew! That was good, jhowe. You write fantastic dialogue (laughed out loud at the dusting line, which was dropped in perfectly). Yet, it was a sad, scary story. I felt the mom was just on automatic pilot after all the years of abuse — no mind of her own.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      I agree there is a more serious tone to this piece, under some of the flippant, though well written, dialogue. In fact many of the pieces on this weeks prompts have been secretly dark. I thought the dusting part was actually integral to the story and it would have been much weaker without it. It shows how little the mother really feels for her husband. I really enjoyed this piece actually, its nice to see a pos humbled.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I think the mom’s refrain of , “Okay, dear” is indicative of a battered woman and the be a good little girl and do what I tell you role they get bullied into. Nice job.

    • jmcody says:

      Hi JHowe, I’m a little slow in getting to the earlier stories this week, but wanted to tell you that this was very interesting and well done. I thought the dialogue was lively and believable, and I agree that the dusting thing was significant in a couple of ways — it added an element of the absurd to the story, which I always appreciate, and it also showed the disconnectedness of the mother. I have just one question: What was the price that the son paid for this deal with the devil???

  53. The glass sat lonely on the coaster, the sun through the blinds casting zebra stripes over its surface. My notebook was open, its edges curled up, but I didn’t reach for my pencil. The grove of trees beyond shook lightly, and ideas were miles away.

    The phone vibrated in my pocket, and I stretched and answered it.

    “What is it, ma?”

    Her voice was frantic. “It’s your father, he’s frozen solid in the backyard! I tried to call 911, but the lines are down!”

    “Sure. Bye,” I said weakly, and then allowed the phone to slip out of my hand.

    “So he has come for us at last.”

    I creaked up out of my chair and went to the window. The pane rattled, and the streets were completely empty, but something was lurking. And it was entirely my fault.

    “Look at him!” my mother was crying on her knees.

    Once I reached her, I spread my arms around her, but I couldn’t have empathy in such regret. My father was encased in a translucent prison, his arms grasping at the ice channels that had swallowed him, cracks extending out from his open mouth, his eyes wide.

    My phone buzzed again, and I felt her slide out of my grasp.

    “Let me just check,” and I went to the corner of the yard.

    “Christof, this isn’t funny.”

    “Oh, but it is to me. Especially entertaining is the fact that you thought you could get away with it.”

    “Entertaining? He is stuck inside this case with no hope of rescue, my mother is bawling within sight of the whole neighborhood, and you laugh? How sick are you?!”

    “It’s not my job to feel remorse. That’s the people’s job.”

    “You used to be different! I wish you just could have stayed that way.”

    “Well, things got a bit dicey after you tried to visit your uncle in ‘Toronto’.”

    “You can’t do this.”

    “You’d be surprised. Can you imagine it, Peter? First there is intense shivering, until it gets so cold you can’t even feel it, and then the body organs fail one by one as the ice slowly moves upward.”

    “I’m not afraid of you. Just try and destroy me.”

    “Was that a threat? It didn’t sound like it. Entertainment is my business. If you think for one moment that I’ll let you go, you’re wrong. My job is at stake. Burbank already made it- if one more escapes I’m gone.”

    He clicked off, and I lowered the phone. A sheet of gray clouds loomed over the fence posts. A Wal-Mart bag skipped along, and a solitary dog barked.

    “Mom, get inside the house. Now.”

    She ran inside. I stayed, watching the storm with a lethal fascination.

    “I guess he has a grudge against Canada,” I mused to myself, hands in pockets. I had always assumed that prior to death was always a good time for bitter humor.

    The thunder started low, and then grew to a crackle that leaped along the pitched roofs like an escaping bird. One by one, the houses had grey spread over them, icicles dangling within seconds.

    “Peter, get in here! I don’t want to lose you too!”

    My steady jaw was starting to knock itself loose. “I’m coming. Start up the car.”

    I rushed inside, hearing the gale pushing against the walls. I heard the engine start and I slid into the front seat.

    “We need to get away from here. Some bad things are going on.”

    She weakly nodded. Backing out, bits of rubble and trash flew along the driveway. The limbs of stout oaks were bent back into slingshots, and leaves made tornados in the gutters.

    “It’s not working!” She dug down desperately into the gas pedal.

    I looked back to see the entire trunk and rear wheels crystallized. “Get out!”

    We popped open the doors and ran, ice at our heels like a nipping guard dog. Mom staggered over in the wind and smacked her head against a pole.

    I picked her up and wiped her bloody forehead. “At least it wasn’t her tongue.”

    “Please help us! Somebody!” The houses across the street were all empty.

    As the ice grew just feet away, and I thought about my slow, painful death, I finally conceded.

    “Fine,” I said to the sky. “I won’t try to go near the boundary anymore! Just leave me be!”

    The cold stopped, and then retreated back until the houses were revealed again. As the sun began to beam through the clouds, I hoisted mother onto my shoulder and turned back to our place.

    “Stupid reality shows.”

    (It’s not my best, but I thought it was good nonetheless. Go hobbits.)

    • seliz says:

      That’s an intense show. I liked how you had everything freezing over, not just the Dad. You did a good job showing the thrill and suspense of running from the ice. The humor mixed in was a nice touch.

    • jhowe says:

      Well done. The story flowed well and kept my interest the whole time. Is this like The Truman Show where the guy can’t leave the set?

    • Reaper says:

      This is beautiful Bilbo. You are always talented but this took it to a whole new level. The intensity and tightness of it had me gasping and hoping they got out. The end was a relief but I still want to read more in this story. Stupid no compete contracts, stupid reality TV.

    • jmcody says:

      Your descriptive prose is growing stronger each week. I was really taken by the language you used to describe the wind (“…bits of rubble and trash flew along the driveway. The limbs of stout oaks were bent back into slingshots, and leaves made tornados in the gutters.) You are a true talent, Bilbo. I am going to stop saying you are so good for your age, because you’re good for someone twice your age. (Go hobbits.)

    • Critique says:

      I’m a sucker for imagery in writing (something I’d like to do better) and your first paragraph was fantastic. I could see it in my mind’s eye. Scary story fleeing from the breath of death on their necks.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Interesting dialogue and the conflict between the antag and MC anchored the story very well. I loved the Truman show and other “psuedo” reality books/movies (The long walk, running man, ect…) and this happily stepped in amongst them.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Your first paragraph was a beautiful beginning and the rest of the story did not disappoint. You do have a gift of imagery. This was a really a breakout piece from you!

  54. Saeboran says:

    “Don’t worry mom. I’ll take care of it.” I must have said it a little too flatly because she was suddenly hushed when she asked

    “Josh?”

    I hang up before she can ask anything

    “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

    The specter was listening over my shoulder. His expression changed from the feigned innocent curiosity, to a giddy little girl. I hated it.

    “I wanted him to feel what felt not fucking freeze!”

    “Woah there such language isn’t ideal for a young gentleman such as you! Besides, isn’t that what you felt?”

    “What?”

    “Don’t interrupt boy” He suddenly raised his voice and was now towering over me

    “This is exactly what you felt, all those years when he wasn’t there, even when he was he didn’t care about you. He didn’t care about you or your mother, leaving you for a cheap whore when it sufficed. What you felt was hurt, betrayal, hate, and jealousy.”

    I was surprised, to say the least, but he wasn’t done yet.

    “But in the end you turned cold, stolid. You pretended he didn’t even exist in your life, and now he’s feeling that, the very cold in your heart.” He seemed quite pleased with himself having figured this whole thing out, but i didn’t want to give him that pride for long.

    “How do I fix it?”

    He frowned, he might have actually been sad for a moment.

    “Well you should at least give it_”

    “No”

    He let out a long sigh, but I didn’t have time for this.

    “Well”

    “It’s simple” he grinned a toothy feverish grin

    “It requires a trade”

    • seliz says:

      I liked the character you created in the specter. He was quick witted, and seemed to get to the heart of things, even if he did trick the main character. I would be interested to read what the trade would be.

      • Cardinal Richelieu says:

        This was really cool because you packed in a really important moral truth about revenge not really satisfying anyone in such a short little bit! Awesome!

    • Saeboran says:

      Thank you for the words. This was off the top of my head so i decided to redo just with a little editing and i feel fairly confident about it now.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was a very nice variation on “careful what you wish for.” I liked the lesson imparted by the specter and am curious about the trade.

      There are some tense shifts and grammar mistakes (just something to watch out for), but it is a good story.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      I also want to know what the trade is!

    • jmcody says:

      I liked the karma of this one — how the father’s frozen state mirrored the state of his son’s heart as a result of his cruel treatment. Very insightful and affecting.

  55. thejim says:

    The Realization
    ________________

    I disconnected the call. My father now in a catatonic state; no movement, little signs of life, but not dead, only slowly dying. We had talked about this day, my 24th birthday, many times. As the years passed, my thoughts had changed. There were times I felt afraid, then sad and other times I refused to believe him. Now I am just not sure what I think.

    I recall the first time when I truly understood what he told me. I was about 17, we were fishing on the Chenatwa River. He went into great detail recounting me as a child on my death bed. He went to every doctor and no one knew why I was dying and there was no cure. He explored every option he could find.

    Then one day a spiritual shaman came to our house looking for my father. He explained that he was sent by the Great Spirit to help the boy. The boy’s inter spirit had called out and reviled himself. In return for the life of the boy one day he must surrender himself and become the MecO Padaac. My father being desperate accepted the Shaman’s terms.

    The Shaman performed the sermonic ritual and at the same time placed a curse my father that if he did not deliver me for the transformation when I reached the age of 23 he would be like the earth and become depleted of all life. At 23 I would be taken to the commune, there I would be taught and trained in the ways of the Garweze.

    The Garweze although an ancient religion fully embraced new technology. After the War of the Leaders but before the Great Reunion. The Garweze religion was formed. The chemical inconsistency that remained from the wars left the world in total deterioration. The world itself was dying. All vegetation slowly perished. It was only a matter of time that all life would end. To stay alive people consumed man produced nutrients, but it was not enough. If not for the Great Reunion when the commune between all people and planet emerged the world would have died. For the first time, all nations working together to restore the world following the Garweze Shaman’s teachings. We as a people became one with the world, but as time moved on we once again forgot the teachings and lost that connection. We have lingered too long in the fields of mediocrity and planted self-indulgence, harvesting only shame. Selfishness is a disease if not treated will destroy the soul. – The Garweze Book of Thought.

    The Garweze say if we do not provide an answer the earth will die and we will to as a race with vanish from time. All of the knowledge and hopes and tears will be gone. They say only one person can unite people and planet together again. They have been waiting over a thousand years and I am that one person. I am the MecO Padaac. I am the only one to bring back the reunion of the planet and humans. I am the only one that can lift the curse from my father. I must step into history and clam my place and fight to save this world, bringing forth, once again, the Great Reunion. I am the MecO Padaac.

    • seliz says:

      Nice piece. It was impressive that you were able to put so much in about the back story and the Garweze in such a short amount of time. I loved the last line where the main character has accepted his fate.

    • Reaper says:

      Your first paragraph is an amazing hook. The shorter sentences conveyed a slow but frantic way of thinking where they might otherwise feel stilted. There are a couple of spelling and punctuation errors Honestly I probably would have missed them if not for how important the style of writing is to this story. It has a Dune feel to it in that epic post apocalyptic beginning. The real power comes in the sociopolitical aspect. It is obvious but you don’t hammer me over the head with it so it stays an enjoyable read instead of getting preachy.

    • lionetravail says:

      It’s a very epic beginning- I think a little polish on the beginning, and some kind of explanation of the native-language title of the MecO Padaac would be cool, and make the declaration by the character that much stronger. The first reference to it could be made into a hint, like “the boy must surrender himself to serve the Garweze Padaac: the creed by which all life was believed to be intertwined.”

      I think it’s definitely the start of a cool story which would be awesome fleshed out longer (when not limited by a word count :))

    • thejim says:

      Thanks for the good words and Ideas. I know I struggle with spelling, I even looked it over right now and still can’t see them. The story just fell out of my noggin’ it took turns that I did not see coming but has the possibility to be much larger than it is. Yes with out limits more detail on who the heck these people are and what they actually did. (Which I think is not spiritual but used some sort of new technology.)

    • Critique says:

      Thought-provoking story. I liked the quote: Selfishness is a disease….
      The MC had to become unselfish for the better of all.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was, indeed, a thought-provoking story with a wonderful first paragraph. There were some punctuation and spelling errors (“The boy’s inter spirit had called out and reviled himself,” no doubt should have been “inner spirit” and “revealed” himself.), but the story still shone through. To be able to create this world within the word limit is awesome, thejim.

  56. bananas.dance.on.sundays says:

    Word count: 496
    Author’s note: haha this is a first :P

    I try to bury the world’s problems into the squishy warmth of my waffle and to pretend my chirpy Nokia tune didn’t sound ominous. I answer the phone with a shaky and muffled greeting. I can hear my mother’s nervous chatter before she even speaks.
    “Etsy, my god.”
    I know what’s wrong before I ask her what’s wrong.
    “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid!”
    I jam a piece of waffle into my mouth, using the thick cake as an excuse to stop and think. My mother goes on about worries and questions and calling the police (for all the good they would do), and I think of the things she won’t go on about because she doesn’t know:
    1. My fault.
    2. I’m the only one who can fix it.
    I promise my mother something I wasn’t willing to, letting the grains of regret fill me as my choice solidifies. I pull out my phone and dial quickly, a hiss collected at my throat.
    “Yello?” He answers.
    I try to swallow my anger. Regardless, I manage a quiet tone of mild homicidal intensity. “Garret, you dweeb, I can’t believe you froze my father.”
    I know him well enough to be able to burn the smirk I can’t see into the wall in front of me. Arrogant prick.
    “Etsy, I don’t even know how to do that. The best I can do to your father is feed him an apple. Magically, I suppose.” There’s an underlying shake in his voice, a quiver that signifies his laughter like the Satan child he is.
    “Undo it.” My knuckles clench. “Undo it, you brat.”
    “I’m two months younger than you.” His voice catches the intensive offense of a threat. “’Sides, say if I did do it, which I didn’t-“
    “You bas-“
    He cuts off my insult, just as I’m ready to cut off his arms. “Would you go to prom with me?”
    I can feel my blood rush into a fire. “The last thirteen times were no, and this time is no.”
    “Ah, but this time, your father is frozen into the world’s best dad popsicle.” My nails twitch in a desire to claw, and sadly, my frustrations are taken out on the love of my life. I silently apologize to the waffle. I stand up and walk to the closet, shifting through unused tools. I find satisfaction in the form of a rusted axe.
    “Etsy?” His voice catches uncertainly, questioning my silence. I may have had as much magical capabilities as a sock, but physical force never called for fairy garbage.
    “Butt-face, you’re a skinny little wimp.” I pocket my house keys and get into my car.
    “Did you just call me a-“ He stops. “Wait, what do yo-“
    I eagerly hang up and let the axe rest in the passenger seat. I silently promised my father the rest of my waffle once I was done with that idiot Garret.

    • seliz says:

      I really liked this. The piece flowed smoothly and the descriptions were great. Although, I’m not sure how much her Dad would want a half eaten waffle as compensation for being frozen :P

    • Reaper says:

      This could use some spacing between lines to make it easier to read. Otherwise good flow and a nice amount left to the imagination. I am personally assuming that Etsy is a troll or ogre descendant and that the waffle is important because of the fae love of bread and honey. I don’t know if that’s the intention but it adds to the fairy feel and the physical strength when lacking magic.

    • jmcody says:

      That was some saucy dialogue, and the tone of the entire piece was edgy and energetic, which I loved. I just got a little hung up on minor details, such as why she seemed to be a teenager living on her own, apart from her parents. But maybe that’s normal for her world?

      I think I might be able to spot your trail of inspiration… My little daughter wants to make a fairy garden this summer, and we were recently looking at some fairy garden stuff on… Etsy! Am I warm? :) (Love Etsy!)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I liked the set up you used and the dialogue. I’d like to be a fly on the wall when Etsy starts swingin the axe. Maybe a trol lbut then maybe she’s buff from working out and can really swing the old axe.

    • agnesjack says:

      Welcome bananasdanceonsundays (great name).

      This was a very intriguing story that took a dark turn at the end that I didn’t expect. It flowed very well and the dialogue was realistic. One grammar nit: there are tense changes in the first and last paragraphs.

      I hope you don’t mind if I say that I was a little unclear about who these characters really were. At first they seemed like ordinary, though magically gifted, teenagers (the mention of the prom), but then Etsy seemed like something else at the end, a troll or dwarf (the axe)?

      You have an interesting voice and I look forward to more of your stories.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      Hmm that’s funny, I did not get hung up on the tenses or the axe like I might have in other stories. I must have just enjoyed the Tet-a-tet between the characters. In fact all I thought was that the axe was the closest bludgeoning object.

  57. Observer Tim says:

    FX: Jungle sounds.

    GRAMS: Ringtone, “Does Your Mama Know?”

    FX: Cell phone.

    JANE (responses): Hi Mom. Wait. Calm down, Mom! What’s wrong? (pause) Frozen solid? Yeah, I get it: ‘block of ice’ solid. Okay Mom, don’t worry; I’ll handle it.

    FX: Phone call ends.

    JANE: Kerry O’Toole, you get out here right now! What have you done to my father?

    KERRY: Just what you asked, lass. You said you wanted a popsicle…

    JANE: That is *not* what I meant! You’re supposed to be helping me!

    KERRY: You’re lucky I didn’t turn you into a drug-sniffing dog.

    JANE: No, instead you zapped me to God-knows-where in South America so I can find you some type of weed that hasn’t been grown since my mother was in diapers.

    KERRY: Columbian Gold! My favourite. The real stuff’s very rare these days. And faith, lass, it was sure an’ you that burned my stash!

    JANE: Come on, Kerry! Most leprechauns hide a pot of gold at the rainbow’s end.

    KERRY: I did! The pot was more… metaphorical. A bit o’ blarney to confuse the curious. How was I to know some slip of a girl would come along and destroy it? You’ve earned the wrath of the wee folk!

    JANE: I get it! Now I can’t cross the Eighth Street Bridge without some troll popping out and demanding a tribute, and every night you reset my computer clock to 20 years in the future. And what you did to poor Rachel!

    KERRY: That was her fault, Janie. She’s the one that said I was truly one of the wee folk!

    JANE: Well you shouldn’t have made a pass at her! She’s a lesbian!

    KERRY: And I turned her into a fairy! Verisimilitude of the spirit; outies match innies, if ye get my drift. And I was drunk at the time.

    JANE: You’re always drunk, Kerry.

    KERRY: Guilty as charged, yer honour.

    JANE: Yeah, I know. And the sentence is twenty years hard liquor. Are all magical creatures substance-abusing perverts?

    KERRY: No! Only a few. And they fair an’ give a bad name to the rest of us!

    FX: Thrashing plant noises.

    JANE: Look! Here’s some cannabis. Is this what you want?

    KERRY: Begorrah! That’s the stuff! Now the other part…

    JANE: What ‘other part’?

    KERRY: It has to be harvested by a naked virgin.

    JANE: You just made that up!

    KERRY: True, but now that I have…

    JANE: I’m not naked!

    KERRY: Easy solution, love.

    JANE: And I’m not a…

    KERRY: Billy Peterson doesn’t count. Now hurry up, your father’s probably melting.

    FX: Sound of clothes being dropped onto plants.

    KERRY: You have lovely insteps.

    JANE: I’m surprised you’re not commenting on something else.

    KERRY: I’ll work my way up.

    FX: Does Your Momma Know?

    JANE (responses): Hi Mom. He’s better? Great. I’ll call you later Mom, I’m incurring roaming charges here. Love you, bye.

    FX: Pulling and cutting.

    JANE: There! Now I’ll get dressed and we can go home!

    KERRY: Actually, love, I sent your clothes on ahead. Lovely spot for a picnic, isn’t it?

    FX: Slap.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Sorry, I’m a bit over the word limit. I blame the speaker tags. Note that FX is a cue for sound effects, and GRAMS means music (gramophone). I just noticed I tagged the ringtone wrong the second time.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I be a holdin’ to ye Tim to be in your story. I want ye to know, even at my age, the ol’ popsicle’s working fine and never melts when I see a pretty lass, especially with red hair and nice insteps. You’re not the only one who likes to work their way up!

        I loved this story, so whimsical and funny. The format’s so real and those who don’t believe in the little people will never have thee wind at their back. I’d love to see some more of your story. I wanna know what troubles ye have laid out for me lad. Kerry

    • lionetravail says:

      Fantastic, and the script format worked so very well, right down to the face-slap at the end. Very enjoyable and refreshing, not to mention tongue-in-cheek fun!

    • seliz says:

      What a great, creative piece. And I’m not just talking about the script format. The idea of little people and all of the innuendos were priceless. The slap sound was the perfect ending.

    • jhowe says:

      Great wit abounds in this one. I loved it.

    • Reaper says:

      At first the format threw me, then I actually started picturing this as a one act play. Nice. I love the innuendo and the tossing of PC out the window. But I can tell ya’ for sure and certain that Kerry is not always drunk, wee or big when you descend from the emerald yer not always drunk, yer just Irish.

    • don potter says:

      Fun piece using a fun format. Nice read.

    • jmcody says:

      That was a cheeky bit, OT. Pot of gold indeed.

    • agnesjack says:

      I’m visual, so I loved the format, Tim. Cheeky and full of wit have been used in previous comments, so I’ll just say that I enjoyed the romp and loved the ending.

      • gamingtheblues says:

        Oh my what a saucy little blighter that green fellow is. I am Irish myself I want you to know that this is 100% accurate, in fact it was almost like you were just typing out the lines of the last Irish Documentary I saw. Luck-o-the-Irish indeed!

    • Silver Sister says:

      I agree with what’s been said above and can’t really expand on it. But I liked it too much not to tell you so. :)

  58. Kerry Charlton says:

    RING RING, RING RING, RING CLICK

    “”Hello Mom.”

    “How do you always know it’s me, Brian?”

    “‘Cause it’s seven o’clock.”

    “It’s eight in Miami.”

    “Dallas is an hour behind. Everything okay?”

    “It’s the same every morning. Your Father’s mind froze again.”

    “What’d you tell him this time?”

    “That I didn’t like Old Spice.”

    “How many years has he been using it?”

    “That’s not the point. He knows I don’t like it.”

    “Mom?”

    “I know, I know. My mind’s frozen also. He used to treat me like a princess, but it all changed last year. Do you know why?”

    “Where did he go this time?”

    “Where do you think? To play golf.”

    “He plays every day, Mom. Why are you so upset?”

    “Because he told me.”

    “What’d he say?”

    “That you told him to stand up to me. Don’t you love your Mother?”

    “Of course I do. I’m just trying to help.”

    “You’re killing your Mother.”

    Click.

    Ring ring. Ring click.

    “Mom?”

    “I’m sorry I hung up on you. It’s just that I’m upset today.”

    “Do you want me to come on down?”

    “You’ve got your own live, with Carolyn and the girls.”

    “It’s okay, I can still come.”

    “Oh no, I’ll be all right.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “I just wanted to hear your voice and tell you I love you.”

    “I love you too, Mom. Call tomorrow?”

    “Are you sure I don’t bother you?”

    “Of course not. We’ll talk tomorrow.”

    “You know how proud I am of you.”

    “Sure I do. See you in the morning.”

    “Okay.”

    Click

    Ring ring, ring click.

    “You’re an hour late Mom.”

    “Giggle, giggle, I know I am.”

    “What happened?”

    “You’re not gonna belive this.”

    “Probably not, but tell me anyway.”

    “When he woke up this morning……”

    “Go on.”

    “I kissed your Father and told him I loved Old Spice. Giggle, giggle.”

    “What’d he do?”

    “I’m not telling you… giggle, you’re my son.”

    “Come on Mom, did you do the number?”

    “Brian!”

    Click.

    Ring click.

    “You all right Mom?”

    “Never felt better, just dropped the phone.”

    “Of course you did.”

    “Are you teasing your own Mother?”

    “What do you think.”

    “Brian, I can’t diddle daddle today. I’m cooking your Father’s favorite pot roast. He said he’d be home at two.”

    “Good luck, you deserve it.”

    “You are a mess you know.”

    “I know I am. See you tomorrow.”

    “Brian?”

    “Mom?”

    “You’re pretty smart, you know.”

    “Thanks. I get my brains from you.”

    “Oh, for heavens sake, good bye.”

    Click.

    Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring. ring ring, ring click.

    “Who is this?”

    “It’s me Mom, where’ve you been?”

    “Why are you calling at this ungodly hour?”

    “Because it’s noon.”

    “It is not.”

    “Oh, yes it is. Where are you?”

    “Giggle, giggle, in bed.”

    “Mom?”

    “Do you wanna speak to your Father?”

    “Of course……..not. Chuckle, you’re busy.”

    “Brian, we';re leaving for Bermuda. Want to come along, you and Carolyn?”

    “Thanks fo asking but I don’t think so.”

    “I knew you’d say that. I also know something else.”

    “And?”

    “You’re a genius.”

    “I know I am, I get it from you.”

    “Thanks foe everything. I love you.”

    Back to you Mom.”

    Click.

    Dedicated to Elva Beauchamp Charlton

    • seliz says:

      The family dynamic in this was sweet. I loved that Brian and his mother were able to talk so openly, and that he was able to help her work through her issues. The dedication at the bottom was a sweet touch too. Family is important. In writing and in life.

    • jhowe says:

      A truly wonderful display of dialog. Well done.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Coming from you jhowe, I consider that quite a compliment. The writers on the forum are writing some of the best stories I’ve ever read. And I don’t think it’s my imagination.

    • Dennis says:

      Ditto on the use of dialogue. Great relationship between mother and son and great take on the “freeze” issue.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Dennis. I appreciate your thoughts. I had to bend the prompt because I had no idea what to write, especially realizing my Dad had consumed enough bourbon during his life, it would be impossible to freeze him, despite being a wizard.

        Dad, if you’re reading this up there, I know you’d find this amusing.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      It shows a lot of skill that you were able to communicate everything just using dialogue. Very impressive and important!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you. What’s funny is, if I had talked to my Mother in this intimate way, it would have shocked her into the next world. We had a great relationship, regardless of the formality of it and I owe a lot to her patience and understanding.

    • Reaper says:

      Kerry, I feel you actually had this conversation with your mother. Nicely done. The characterization was masterful, the relationship well developed, especially since you dropped us in the middle of it and instead of building it up just showed us. Creepy sex talk but I love the open nature of the relationship. I about died laughing at the don’t you love your mother? and so many other great moments like it. Just all around a thing of beauty, thank you for sharing this.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Reaper, that’s a lot of nice things to say. I wished for this relationship, but coming from Philadelphia, I settled for formality despite the love we had for each other. She started writing when she was fifty and was published weekly with her columns, titled “Elva’s Corner.”

        Not that I’ve come close to her but I started at seventy one and am still trying to learn how to write.

    • don potter says:

      Loved the stream of consciousness conversation. If we prepared for a conversation with a loved one, it might go faster but would hardly be any fun.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Good point Don. I never know what my older sister’s thoughs are, but when I get her on the phone, we always have an hour to say what pops into our heads. Thanks for your thoughts as always. As soon as I see you post, I stop what I’m doing and dive into it, they’re so good.

    • jmcody says:

      Sweetness! If this is really based on your relationship with your mother (who you have mentioned was a writer), it explains a lot about you, Kerry — your zest for life, spontaneity and unique outlook. This made me happy just to read it.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you, jm. My very first memories of life, are sitting in a dormer window with my Mother, while she described the clouds drifting by. I wrote a story about it, “Castles In The Sky.”

    • Critique says:

      Telling a story through dialogue that is realistic is difficult. You did a wonderful job Kerry.

    • agnesjack says:

      This dialogue was wonderful, Kerry. It showed the dynamic of the relationship so well, even the moments when mom would hang up. It also showed the love in a realistic, honest way — warts and all.

      p.s. Your mother had a beautiful name, Kerry.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Nancy. As for my Mother’s name, it matched her beauty. Not only in looks but personality. I truly miss her. “Five foot two, eyes of blue.”

    • gamingtheblues says:

      My parents were almost asexual in their attentions to each other so this was a little weird on a personal level but excellently written. I really have to remember to do an all dialogue, first Tim and now you are pumping out some amazing ones the past couple weeks. The family dynamic was sweet and sensitive. Warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream for breakfast type of love.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        THank you GTB. I found the dialogue story easier than I thought it would be. I’m mystified by Tim’s format he used this prompt, but hesitate to jump in and try it. On the other hand, by my age, why not?

    • Silver Sister says:

      I admire the risk taking you do in your writing. Nothing about your writing is ever stagnate. This story is a perfect example. Hooray for Old Spice. Giggle, giggle giggle. :)

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you sterling. While in college, I used Old Spice, then went to Canoe. Had to stop all of it tho. Left me no time for anything else. [In my dreams.] Giggle, giggle back to you.

    • Nicely done, Kerry! Dialog only pieces are tough. Who needs tags anyway.

      I love the interplay between mother and son. It read and felt authentic.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Doug. I’m glad you liked it. I wasn’t sure when I posted it because I doubled spaced and it took up three pages. I’m going to shoot for a follow up if I can make the prompt fit. I love sequels. Take care. And Don hasn’t bothered me since you came in to help.

  59. “Ok Mom, I’ll take care of it!” he hung up, on his hysterical mother, dumbfounded. His father had actually been frozen through, or over. He knew exactly what must’ve happened, but he couldn’t believe she had actually been able to do it. He dialed her number, without even a clue as to how he would broach this situation.
    “Hello my love! How are we tonight? Are you coming over?”
    “Hilda, quit playing. You know why I am calling.”
    “Awwww, does someone have daddy issues?”
    “Undo it now Hilda. My mom is over here freaking out, while my dad is a friggin’ living, breathing popsicle.”
    “I thought you were tired of being the only twelfth-grader with a curfew. I thought you were tired of being the only 17 year old in the city who still got spankings. When I asked you to come see you, you described your home as purgatory, and told me to come nowhere near it.”
    “Yeah but-”
    “But what?”
    “But I never fathomed that you would or could freeze my father solid!”
    “So admit it then.”
    “Admit what?”
    “That you’ve been playing with my emotions. That you really don’t like me as much as I love you. That you are only my friend because I actively seek you out, but deep down you want no parts of me in public because of how I dress. My long dress creeps you out, you think my hat looks stupid, you hate my cat!”
    “I don’t hate your cat. I’m allergic. And I talk to you on the phone. I come to your house. We spend time. We text.”
    “But you won’t follow me on Twitter!”
    “So what?”
    “So what? So what? You are worried about people seeing that we are friends, but you are invisible. I am the only one who sees you. Who cares about you. Who even wants to retweet you! And you shun me because I am not one of the cool kids? You say you are miserable at home, but you won’t be happy with me. And I know it is about how I look, how I express myself. I am not gothic. I just like black. And I love you. So I gave you what you said you wanted. I listened to your terms, and acquiesced.”
    “Ah-kwee-what?”
    “I asked you if you would ever go to the prom.”
    “Yeah but you didn’t ask me to go with you!”
    “You knew what I meant. And you know senior prom is around the corner. Who else would I go with? And what did you say when I asked you if you would like to ever go to the prom.”
    “You know I hate dressing up! You know I would never-”
    “What did you say?” He knew he was beat. He knew exactly what she she meant. He remembered the smugness of his reply. He knew what she had been intimating at the time, and had answered accordingly. “What did you say?”
    Barely audible, he mumbled, “When hell freezes over.”

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      I really like this a lot. I hadn’t read any prompts and posted above you, using the same format. You must be a genius. Chuckle, chuckle.

    • Dennis says:

      Great use of dialogue. Liked the use of the last line, made it all tie together nicely.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      I really liked the mention of Purgatory! It communicates a ton and was an awesome allusion. Totally agree with Dennis about the last line!

    • Reaper says:

      Beautiful dialogue. The Twitter thing made me want to strangle both characters. You kept me on a rollercoaster here. At first I love the witch and dislike the MC, then the witch gets creepy and I worry for your MC, and then by the end I’m back to wanting to strangle them both but feeling bad for them at the same time. You made me your puppet for this one.

    • don potter says:

      I love good dialogue and yours was terrific. Nicely done.

    • Critique says:

      Methinks this relationship lists fatally to one side. Great use of dialogue. I enjoyed your story.

    • agnesjack says:

      The dialogue flowed beautifully in this piece, and I liked how you revealed she was a witch without actually saying so. If I might suggest: it would help if there were extra returns between the paragraphs (Word para. spacing doesn’t convert). It makes it easier to read. Nice job, though.

      • gamingtheblues says:

        Hilarious in a weird sort of way. I loved the last line, and the best thing was, even with all the build up and hints…I did not get the joke until the reveal so even more so, well done.

    • jmcody says:

      Wow, I’m glad I finally read this one! This was very, very clever — a crash course in sensitivity training for an oblivious and shallow teenager. I thought the twitter references were actually a pretty astute commentary on the social life of the average teenager today. Excellent job, Wally! Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  60. pinkbamboo says:

    just a quick piece. hope you guys like it =)

    ****************
    I pushed the door open and marched straight to his table.

    “You did this!” I pointed at him accusingly. He looked alarmed.

    “Did what?”

    “Don’t pretend. My mother called me up and told me my dad is frozen. I don’t know what voodoo hocus pocus thing you did but I want him back to normal”

    I was afraid but I was determined not to show it. Rick got up and walked to his bookshelf, pretending to look for a book.

    “I’m not magical, Ashley. I don’t know what you’re talking about”

    “I saw you back in Lucky76″ I told him calmly.

    Rick turned to me and he knew what I was talking about. I met Rick at a club three weeks ago. He was average looking but he was charming, funny and witty. We talked for a while before I excused myself to the dance floor. Later that night, as I was leaving, I looked for Rick. I found him at the back alley swinging a bat and smashing an ice sculpture. That ice sculpture was the man who was dancing with me. I ran home and threw up, ill for 3 days.

    Rick smiled at me. “You saw that huh?” he walked towards me.

    “I’m a wizard Ashley and I need your help” I backed off from him with a frown.

    “What wizard? Go back to your tower then” I rolled my eyes.

    Rick let out a hearty laugh. “Oh Ashley, what bullshit is that? Who lives in the tower? You have to help me, you already accepted my gift”

    I was about to call him crazy but he gestured to my purse. I opened it to find a small black box.

    “I do not want this” I said firmly as I set it on the table. The box flew into my hand. No matter how far I threw it, it kept appearing in my hand.

    “What is this? A button to destruct the world?”

    Rick smiled. “You’re funny Ashley. Do you think I’m some cartoon villain? I’m a wizard, a powerful one”

    I sighed “Can you just unfreeze my dad?”

    “Only if you agree to help me”

    “What do you want from me? I’m only 17. Why me? I barely knew you” I screamed.

    “I chose you. I saw you and you’re the chosen one. The one I need, you stupid girl. You’re the puzzle in my plan” he shouted back at me as he gripped my shoulders.

    I looked away, feeling the pain but not willing to show it.

    “What do you want from me?” I asked slowly.

    He smiled and leaned forward to sniff my hair. “Baby … I” he mumbled.

    I put both my hands on his chest and shoved him.

    “Don’t touch me. I’m going to figure this out on my own” I turned to head out.

    “What are you going to do? Swing a bat at the old man?”

    I turned to glare at him and he ran his fingers through his hair.

    “I’m telling you Ashley, if you’re not helping me, daddy goes bye bye”

    My heart nearly stopped and looking at Rick’s confident smirk, I knew this was not an empty threat. I have no idea what he wants but anything to keep daddy safe.

    “Fine!” I spat out the word.

    Rick made a movement with his right hand as if he’s grabbing an invisible bar of slippery soap then blue smoke appeared and he waved it off. I pulled out my phone just as my mom called. She informed me that dad is okay now.

    “Wow, wonder what happened. I’ll talk to you guys later” I smiled but quickly wiped off my smile when Rick walked towards me again.

    “What do you want me to do? I need to get home soon”

    What do wizards want anyway? Dominate the world? Steal from a gallery? He grabbed my wrists and whispered in my ear. It took me 5 seconds to realize what was going on.

    ********

    I only heard mumblings, I only see the little black box in front of me.

    I need an heir .. he whispered.

    “.. your lawfully wedded husband?” that’s all I heard.

    I looked at Rick and he had that stupid smirk. 10 seconds of silence and Rick replaced the smirk with a stern expression as his hand started to move.

    “I do .. ” this time I let my tears flowed freely, soaking my black dress.

    • Reaper says:

      You keep pushing your writing in interesting ways. The forced “romance” of this was chilling. My heart is breaking for poor Ashley. As much as I hate Rick you did a good job of making him more than a two dimensional villain in a small number of words. There is no question he is a bad guy, but possible love no matter how twisted it is and having a reason humanized him. I never like shallow bad guys and you did an great job of keeping away from that. Your MC also had a nice believable youth to her while the antagonist seemed much older.

      I was going to say phew, no mangled corpses. Then I had to wonder, do ice sculpture love interests count? Did you force me in less than a week to need to brush up on the romance writing? I think I may have been bested here.

      • I don’t know though @reaper. I cannot say i interpreted romance as much as I saw utilitarian means to an end. He needed an heir. I didn’t think he needed her; only her womb.
        But you obviously are more familiar with this author than I am, so I relent to the possibility that you could be more tapped in than I.

        But it was definitely interesting, and the antagonist is way more interesting than the MC.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          I thought it walked a fine love betwen need, horror and love. I was intrigued by your story, there’s a lot of depth to it, wonderment and reality all at the same time.

          • pinkbamboo says:

            Reaper, oh no.. I don’t consider this as the mangled corpse prompt, never even thought of it so our deal is still on lol. What exactly is two dimensional villain? I still need to push out of my comfort zone, was planning to make the villain a dirty old man but I felt bad for my mc for being in a forced marriage, the less I can do is give her an average looking husband

            Wally, reaper knows me as a romance heart candy writer. I was trying to make rick attracted to Ashley a little but more so because he chose her to carry his spawn.

            Kerry, perhaps down the road Ashley might fall in love with her husband hmmm..

      • Reaper says:

        For Wally. I tend to interpret characters in a deep and positive light. While the antagonist was slimy and creepy if he only wanted a womb he could have found any “I’m sorry daddy, please hit me” girl who also happened to be a goth. There was something drawing him in. Romance is in the mind, so while we see it badly in his own way I believe he felt love, though a controlling, Stockholm syndrome will eventually set in, my one rule is don’t open the door with the bloody egg kind of love. For me it is more how pinkbamboo makes me feel with her stories than knowing her. I’m sure that a lot of the interpretation is not what she meant, but that is a sign of good writing, that our own inner voice adds to the story things that nobody else saw and the writer meant in a similar but not exactly the same way. I would never accuse of her of writing a love story with a monster, but since I love them my reading manufactured it. But then I saw her Ashley might fall in love comment and maybe I wasn’t too far off.

        For pinkbamboo. Whew, no candy and roses for me yet then! :) Your writing is evolving so don’t push yourself too fast because it would be a shame to sacrifice what you have for something that is just as good but different, the combination will be great as you get there. I think sympathy for your characters is good. When we write a strong story with fleshed out characters we get involved in their lives and that emotion shows through to the reader. Though I would have loved a dirty old man. A two dimensional villain is one that is a bad guy just because one is needed. There is nothing likable about them and they throw children off buildings because the child and the building are there and they have no reason not to. Basically they never have understandable motivations and are only in the story because the protagonist needs someone to fight against. You never get to know them and nobody likes them but they don’t really hate them either because there isn’t enough meat to them to cause any emotion at all. I hate to use this reference but if you have every seen Titanic the antagonist in that is a two dimensional villain. All of his lines could be replaced with “I’m a bad guy because, I’m a bad guy.”

        • pinkbamboo says:

          I never liked two dimensional villain either. Each character in the story needs to serve a purpose, be it just an appearance or for long term.

          Also, wow long essay lol. I do agree that this has a bit of romance spice in it because while Rick could just borrow her, he chose to marry her which is his way of owning her. It’s a little bit more than just borrowing the womb. I tried to hint earlier in the story that this could be “what he wants from her” when he called her baby .. double meaning .. sort of ..

          • Reaper says:

            Sorry for being so spammy. You are inspirational in interpretation. I didn’t catch the double meaning originally. Nicely done on that. Your antagonists tend to be very believable which makes you fun to read.

    • Dennis says:

      The characters felt real and you really had me guessing what he really wanted with her.

      • pinkbamboo says:

        the prompt for this week got me jotting down points first before writing it out as there was a string of dialogue involved in the middle. i tend to think of the end line before i go for the middle – just to keep the suspense. thanks for reading :)

    • jmcody says:

      You talk to the wrong guy in a club, and next thing you know you’re married to an evil wizard and carrying his spawn. A cautionary tale…

      I agree that you did a great job of humanizing these characters. I would keep reading to find out why the Wizard chose Ashley. I’m sure it would turn out to be some deep-seated reason, some mark of predestination. I also liked how well you staged this. I could picture it as if I were watching a movie. I was thinking of an episode of “Charmed” or something like that. Very dramatic.

      • pinkbamboo says:

        yeah, i figured if i kept writing about it, it would have been some predestination type of thing at the same time admiration and the feel to owning her.

        now that you mentioned it, charmed does come to mind.

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      Sort of creepy, but still great! I definitely wasn’t expecting an archaic forced marriage! Nice job!

    • don potter says:

      I like the way you push yor posts. Keep ‘em coming.

    • Critique says:

      Blackmail at it’s worst. I want to know if Ashley can find a way to free herself from Rick’s spell.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      I have a deep seated dislike for the type of person Rick is. In fact I would go so far as to use the word detest. I would be sorely disappointed if Ashley gave in to him. I should say first, that this was an well written story with good use of dialogue and tone. I would love for Ashley to take something long and pointy or heavy and blunt to her suitor’s extremities. Wow I don’t like Rick!!

      • pinkbamboo says:

        wow, i’m happy that you hate Rick if my writing manage to portray him to that point lol. i did consider the blunt thing but it’s a bit tricky to handle .. knowing that Rick is an evil wizard ..

    • Silver Sister says:

      Oh, poor Ashley. Rick puts the ‘sin’ in sinister. I always appreciate when a writer can create this kind of character because that is not yet within in my realm. Good job.

  61. jimmieg says:

    Garrett ‘s pocket began to tickle his side, a charming spell he cast on his cell phone because he was tired of missing calls. It was his mom. Shit. She knew his schedule to well for him not to answer. “Hey mom, what’s up?” Garrett couldn’t resist the “vulgar” greeting.

    Silence hung in the air. Garrett felt like shit. “Sorry mom. I know you don’t like that stuff”, Garrett offered. Fear clung to his mothers words when she finally spoke. “Its dad” she said, someone cast a spell and he’s frozen solid”.

    Garrett was now the silent one, although his teeth were a symphony of cracking knuckles as his molars ground against one another. “Mom”, he asked, “is dad holding anything at all?”

    “Yes, a small box with an open lid. What is it Garrett? Can you help?”, his mother asked.

    I’m the only one who can help. “Yes, I can fix it. I need you to get as much of the family gathered as possible, especially the cousins. As many as possible mom. Its very important”, Garrett stressed.

    Garrett had jinxed his brother’s jinx. Epic fail obviously. He had put a glamour spell on the box, making it look like a small hinged box of black velvet. The kind of box in which one might find a ring. His brother’s girlfriend was the intended target. She was meant to be frozen solid. There was only one way to break the spell. Laughter.

    Not just any type of laughter. Garrett had labored three months crafting this jinx. The only laughter that could melt this ice was humiliation.

    He started by letting everyone now that dad was okay. The disappointment in the room hung in the air like a fart in a car. Its gonna be a tough room. Garrett readied himself as though he were inviting someone to punch him on the nose.

    “Uncle Ronny is staying in the guest bedroom, where he likes to wear, well, nothing. A couple of weeks ago Beth walked into his room and saw what a prodigious man Uncle Ronny is. I tried to side track talk of how endowed he is by chastising Beth for walking in on people. It didn’t work”.

    Garrett explained how just this morning his little daughter Beth, only five years old, walked in on him peeing. She din’t offer an apology, nor did Beth hurry to leave. Instead she stood looking at her father a moment and gave him that punch to the nose by saying, “Daddy. You have a baby penis”.

    Waves of laughter melted Dad in torrents,as the gurgling sound of wet laughter came from his father. Beth’s laughter was like a desert sun over winter Alps.

    That was Garrett’s last jinx and the last time he told the Baby Penis story. Though he would hear it for the rest of his life.

    • Dennis says:

      I was laughing along with them. Hilarious way to undo the jinx. Also liked your analogies, such as disappointment hung in the air like a fart in a car. Priceless.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      A light hearted and fun story. This was nicely written with some interesting analogies that were very evocative.

      • jimmieg says:

        Thank you for your kind appraisal of my story. Bigger thanks for all the reading and comments you leave for many of the posts here. Seeing feedback inspires me to write and get better. Take pride knowing you are helping writers get better just by taking the time ti acknowledge the effort.

  62. Reaper says:

    Snow King, Gypsy Queen

    Louisiana to New York is a long distance to call, especially for eleven on a Saturday morning when there are lawns to be mowed. Mom was hysterical when she placed the call.

    “Calm down mama. What’s wrong?”

    “It… it’s… it’s your father…” She choked out between heart shattering sobs. “He’s been frozen solid as,” his cold and murderous heart “a block of ice.”

    “Get hold of yourself. Have some tea and I’ll deal with it. Everything is going to be okay now.”

    I knew my father’s condition was my fault, and I could actually fix it. Mama didn’t know either of those things. I went through my contacts as I stepped into the kitchen. Maybe I’d have a beer to help.

    Isadora was a voodoo queen, a priestess of the Loa. She had also had a thing for me since long before I moved to the big city. She made me wait a full five jingles before she picked up. Who doesn’t have a cell phone these days? Or even voicemail? When she did answer it was in that sweetly seductive tone that made me consider moving her to New York with me.

    “Mon cher, I was expectin’ your call laytah.”

    “The Baron feeding you bad information?”

    “Non, he jes’ fine. You the one normally be sleepin’ in.” She gave a throaty laugh.

    “It happened just like you said it would.”

    “Well you know tha price for my help.”

    “You can fix it?” I was worried, I admit it.

    “Non. Only you can do tha’ an’ you acted rash mon cher. There is risk, he may be harmed by the coming back.”

    “But you think it can be fixed.”

    “Oui.”

    “I’ll call you back when it is.”

    I opened the freezer before dialing mama. This was a high price.

    The phone only rang once when I placed the return call to my mother. She was sniffling but the wailing cries had abated. That, with the comatose way she slurred her words told me she had listened to me about the tea then chased it with a valium.

    “Okay mama. I can fix this. Put the phone to papa’s ear for a second.”

    “How lawn…guh?”

    “You’ll know.”

    A moment of silence, then the clink of the phone against ice and I was talking to my dear father. I seethed the next words quietly, only for him. Cold stung my hand, funny how I only felt it then.

    “All right you son of a bitch. I’m going to put the poppet of you in cold water. You should unfreeze in about two hours. This was a warning. Mama ever calls me crying with a black eye or a bruise again and I’ll hit it with a hammer instead of a nice warming bath. You better understand.”

    I raised my voice both to hurt my father’s ear and to let mama hear me.

    “I’m hanging up mama; this will take a little bit. Just stay chill. Everything is going to be okay now.”

    • thejim says:

      Oh my a Hammer. – “Just stay chill” – I chuckled at this line. Nice work!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Nice work Reaper. I’d of strangled him if he ever hit my Mother and he knew that in advance without ever my mentioning it. You got me all stirred up with this. It’s extremely realistic in nature. Personally, I’d have unfrozen him a little quicker to slow him down in the future.

        • Reaper says:

          Thanks Kerry. I would have used the hammer, but then maybe not because I wouldn’t want to cause my mother pain. I thought about warm water to do some damage, but since I hit the limit exactly I wasn’t sure how well that would translate without explanation.

      • Reaper says:

        Thanks thejim. I added the just stay chill line at the last moment and wasn’t sure if the humor would go over.

    • jmcody says:

      This is what I am starting to recognize as classic Reaper, with its exquisite tension between good and evil, darkness and light. This time it’s evil in the service of love. Masterfully done, Reaper. I felt your fury, and was transported from New York to some dark alleyway in the French quarter.

      “Even angels have their wicked schemes.”

      • jmcody says:

        [In case you decide to google that, it's "Love the Way you Lie," the Skylar Grey version -- please not the Eminem/Rihanna version! :)]

      • Reaper says:

        First I’m Ed Norton then I have a classic. JM, run away with me. ;) Thank you for that. Most of what I go for are grey and to have that I feel you need a strong distinction between the two sides. I’m smiling at transporting you, that is high praise. I will admit I’m old fashioned and have a lot of fury for a man that would hit a woman unless he was being attacked, so the fury shining through means a lot to me. Evil in the service of love is a great line. In this case and a lot of others what I’m trying to write is a grey protagonist, one that is either a good guy but not a hero or a hero but not a good guy.

        • jmcody says:

          I loves me a complicated character.

          [And now you're Edward Norton with a Lou'siana drawl.]

          • Reaper says:

            I aim to please. Does that make me Gambit?

          • jmcody says:

            God I hope not. :)

            Sorry, you lost me on that one. I had to google it…

            Let’s just go back to Edward Norton, shall we?

          • Reaper says:

            That’s okay. Good, cause Gambit has a stupid power. I’ll happily go back to Edward Norton, though in truth I’d much rather be the ripped up Ed Norton from ‘American History X’ then the closer to every man Norton of ‘Fight Club’. Physically, mentally and personality I don’t want to be either of those effed up bastards. And I’m glad to lose the Louisiana accent because I’ve been down there once but never lived there.

    • Dennis says:

      Great dialogue and tension. Sometimes using voodoo can pay off.

      • Reaper says:

        Thank you Dennis. I love these prompts. Dialogue is difficult for me, so they are forcing me to work on that, and keeping the word count down. Well in the story at least, next I need to work on not writing novels in comments.

    • don potter says:

      The mention of Voodoo always gives me a chill. Nice job.

    • agnesjack says:

      I thought your Louisiana dialogue was believable and gave a nice spice to the story. Your use of the long distance between the MC and his abusive father helped raise the tension, and the son’s cumulative rage came through loud and clear at the end. The “just stay chill,” line was a nice touch.

    • gamingtheblues says:

      I was happily surprised when I saw someone reference reaper in the comments (I never look at who wrote a story before I read typically unless by accident) This was wonderfully written, with a really big surprise (to me at least) I was not expecting your MC to have been the one directly responsible..and for the reason he was. I am right there with you on anyone taking advantage of someone, especially in a violent destructive rage. It sometimes makes reading some of the other prompt stories that have dominating evil characters difficult to read objectively. So to see that SOB get some come uppance was very gratifying.

      JM… I have not heard of Skylar Grey so that was interesting to listen to. Her demo of the song is haunting and lovely. Though it should be noted that she wrote the song with Eminem (watched an interview with her after reading the comments) in mind and loves the version ;) she even sings with him on at least one of his other songs. Not to derail but actually the lyrics of the Eminem version are quite haunting in their own right, as someone who has watched that type of relationship up close and personal, the…words and even the explicit nature of them fit the mood too well.

      • jmcody says:

        I hope you listened to the one recorded in a hotel room — just Skylar and her piano… gorgeous and heart wrenching (to me anyway). Anyway, the phrase about the angels and their wicked schemes just popped into my head reading Reaper’s story.

        • jmcody says:

          And… I see your point about the Eminem version, but he just makes me mad… ;)

          This is not the first time music and writing have intersected on this forum. There’s an interesting conversation to be had about that, but I will stop hogging Reaper’s real estate now! Some other time…

        • Reaper says:

          I listened to both versions. I like Eminem, I used to love him but then he lost the rage and now I think he is better but not as entertaining. I listen to real music for good and rap for entertainment cause I’m old enough to just not understand. The music was haunting on the Skylar version and powerful on the Eminem one. I’m happy when my writing makes music pop into people’s heads. I’m not surprised that they intersect here, I have heard of a number of authors that listen to music as they write. When I’m working on a novel I often create a playlist that fits the flow and mood that I’m going for.and then listen to it on repeat as I work through. For short stories I will either pull up something on youtube that has a feel I want, or I plug in Black Aria by Glen Danzig as it has a classical feel but modern power and is great for writing deep and emotional things. If you haven’t heard it I strongly recommend giving it a try.

          As for the hijacking, it stops being my real estate and becomes a mindshare after the by line.

          • jmcody says:

            As I expected, this has turned out to be an interesting conversation.

            I know that one of GTB’s pieces had lyrics in it, and one of mine (the Mystery Writer one that I called “Cairns”) was heavily influenced by the song “House of Cards” by Radiohead, which if you don’t know it, is about how easily things can fall apart, even things we thought were solid. (My story was about the same, plus the things that are left when everything else falls apart.) I had it in my head for days while I was writing that, and even listened to it a couple dozen times, much to the annoyance of my children. :) The mysterious, haunting tone of it helped set the tone for my response, which had a paranormal aspect to it.

            I did go and listen to Black Aria, and I can see how it feeds the type of writing that you like to do. It was darkly intense (or intensely dark, I’m not sure which), to the point of being a little scary. But I guess you don’t call yourself Reaper for nothing.

            Still, I don’t think you’re quite as dark as that (reference our previous conversation). Please don’t be mad at me for saying this — I respect what you do, I just think there’s an underlying humanity there that adds a slightly different (and in my opinion, better) flavor. Please take that as a compliment!

            Fascinating discussion. Thanks for hosting it! :)

          • Reaper says:

            How could it not? I need to go back and look at some of these. I know a couple of mine have been heavily influenced by music. When I wrote the Elevator prompt a couple of weeks back I was listening to “Think I’m Fixing To Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish, great protest song if you’ve never heard it, and “Eve of Destruction” on pretty continuous repeat which was what put the Daisy Girl commercial in my head. Until I looked it up and found out Country Joe was still alive I was thinking of making him the main character on that one but instead used him as inspiration. Then there was the prompt about being in a band and traveling around the country. The name for that Welcome Home Blues was a combination of the subtitle of Metalica’s “Sanitarium” and Mr. Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”. I was going for a feel of those two songs combined which is surreal, but remember actual making a reference to the action happening east of Omaha, Nebraska. Which is of course a nod to the line from “Turn the Page”. All of which is an expression of understanding. Music moves some of us, and we are all inspired by something. Good music tells a story in words and melody so it should inspire us and open our minds. Now I have to listen to radiohead.

            I would say Black Aria is darkly intense, Black Aria II which exists is intensely dark and not as good. :) It can get scary but as it is music inspired by the battle and Lucipher’s fall from heaven I think that was his point. Mostly I listen to it not because of the darkness but because it opens my mind.

            I will never be mad at a compliment. I am aiming for grey and intense and that often becomes dark. Art imitates life and since I am often commenting, intentionally or not, on something and I see a lot of things in the world that need fixing. Most of what I am saying is this is how it is, in metaphor at least, but not how it should be. So hearing an underlying humanity is nothing but a compliment.

            I don’t know about interesting but it’s a long conversation at least!

      • Reaper says:

        Oh gamingtheblues. I have been waiting for you to comment so I can tell you. I keep trying to send you messages then having to delete them. For some reason you are the only person I can’t send them to and have to delete so others will go through. Short version, sorry you’re living it, keep the faith, and you are a talented sumbitch.

        I admit I’m conflicted on happy surprise. I hope it was mostly the tone which is different for me that caused the shock. Thank you for the comments. I am glad I could surprise you. As for the music I think I will comment on that down below.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Gotta love a man of action. Especially when its creative action. Yes, this was pure pleasure to read.

      • Reaper says:

        Silver Sister, thank you. You have a way of saying beautiful things with economical words. You make them all count and this response has me floating.

  63. lionetravail says:

    “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take care of it.”

    I closed the connection, distracted by the thought of how unlucky could one normally lucky guy be. I mean, how could the same crazy thing happen to the same person twice in the same life?

    And who did it this time? That was not going to be easy to figure out. First off, Dad was famous. Some people talk about celebrity status, but my father was head and shoulders above the rest. Most people loved him, and thought him heroic, while others hated him with the blind rage of the eternally damned. That meant he had plenty of enemies.

    I sought for calm by closing my eyes and beginning a slow inhale-exhale exercise. I felt my mind quiet from the storm of distress that began with the call from Mom, and let my thoughts range where they would go.

    I found my thoughts flirting with the last time my father had been frozen, well before I’d been born. I’d heard the stories, from both parents and my Uncle, and everybody’s version was slightly different. To hear Dad tell it, the whole thing was his idea, but my Uncle told me that this was just bravado, which my father had in abundance. That freeze, so long ago, had been accomplished by technological means, but that hadn’t happened this time, apparently. For one thing, a lone person with a visored helmet simply didn’t have the cryo technology to safely freeze a person and then carry him away.

    I chased that thought, feeling my intuition freed with my slow breathing, forming connections. Enemy. Single person. Non-tech methodology. Visored helmet to hide looks. Hide them because…?

    Because they weren’t human, and would stand out too much to get close enough!

    Oh. Oh my. An enemy, non-human, with motive and ability! There was only one person I knew who fit that bill, and he hated me as much as my father. And why? Because my Dad had killed his. Ask who shot first, and you’ll get different answers depending on who you talk to.

    I felt myself come awake, focused in mind and purpose, and called Mom.

    “I know who did it,” I blurted. “It had to be the one person who’d fallen from light to dark and left the Academy who had reason to do this to Dad!”

    “Who?” came the reply.

    “Needo,” I said. “I’m leaving now to go find him and rescue Dad. I’ll call when I can.”

    “Ran Organa-Solo, you be careful going after Greedo’s son!” Mom said with irritation. “After all, your father is much older now than last time. I don’t want him to come back with pieces broken off- he’ll just be crabby because he won’t be able to win at Sabaac without all his fingers, and will probably act like a pissy nerf-herder again. And for who knows how long, this time?!”

    No kidding. May the Force be with me, for Pete’s sake.

    • QuiverPen says:

      Very well done, lionetravail – you introduced the hints and clues to the final ending at just the right pace to keep be guessing and enthralled. Very well executed. May the force be with you, always.

    • Reaper says:

      I admit that I’m not normally a big fan of fan-fiction but this hooked me and I didn’t throw down the computer when I realized what it was. Nicely executed, and the clues were well done. The wording on the second line felt awkward but otherwise I love the style of this.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Ah, the force is strong with this one! Terrific idea! I share tidbits of the stories I read on here with my husband and I know he’ll appreciate this one. I loved the description of how some people loved him and others hated him. The pace was great and even though you dropped subtle details, I was still surprised at the end. Great post!

    • Dennis says:

      Very clever premise. It kept me guessing.

      • lionetravail says:

        Thanks everyone! This one just came to me as I was going to bed, and made me laugh when it came fully formed. It took about 40 minutes to write and tweak, and I really should have slept instead, but it was just so much fun to do this little send up of the classic. :)

  64. don potter says:

    “My God, I can’t believe what just happened to your father,” my mother screamed over the phone. Her voice trembled with emotion and the words were separated by long pauses interspersed with labored breathing.

    “Did he have an accident, a heart attack, what?” I asked trying to help her focus on what she was trying to say.

    “No, worse than that,” she said and broke into tears.

    “Mom, please tell me exactly what happened. I can’t help you unless I have the facts.”

    “He ah, he’s frozen,” she sobbed.

    “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” I immediately knew who was responsible for this. So I hit the end button on my smart phone, then scrolled through the phone list until I found the number I wanted, and pressed call.

    “Swifty, it’s me Larry.

    “So what do you want, a medal?”

    “No, I want to know what you did to my father.”

    “Nothing.”

    “Look, I know I owe you money, but this is no way to get it.”

    “You called me didn’t you? That’s easier than chasing you all over the place.”

    “My father didn’t do anything to you.”

    “And you didn’t do anything about paying off your debt.”

    “I’ll make payments. Anything.”

    “Now you’re starting to make sense.”

    “First I need to know how you froze my father.”

    “It doesn’t matter.”

    “Well it matters to me.”

    “Okay. If you must know my cousin, Lefty, invented a portable instant freezing spray.”

    “Never heard of anything like that before.”

    “Guess that’s why he invented INSTA-FREEZE.”

    “You even have a name for it.”

    “Yeah, everything needs a name.”

    “How does it work?”

    “Simple. Shake the can and push the button. Next thing you know whatever you sprayed is frozen solid.”

    “What happens next?”

    “Nothing until you use the ANTI-FREEZE spray. Then things get back to normal.”

    “You have any of this at your place?”

    “Sure, but it’ll take payment-in-full before you get any.”

    “Mom will give me the money. I’ll go over there right now.”

    My folks live halfway across town. When I got there, my father was sitting on the front porch looking as if nothing had happened.

    “How did you get unfrozen?” I asked.

    “Your mother used her hair dryer. Worked pretty good, huh?”

    “Yeah, I need to borrow it.”

    “What for?”

    “With all the money I owe there’s no telling when I might need a hair dryer.”

    • swatchcat says:

      Nicely written, conversation flowed nicely to keep interest going. MC must owe a great deal of money

    • seliz says:

      Funny piece. I loved the quick banter between characters. The bit with the hairdryer was a nice touch at the end. I had to laugh when the MC was borrowing something yet again.

    • keringk says:

      nice one buddy.love it and laughed a lot

    • Reaper says:

      I thought you were going for the magical mafia here, the invention was nice. Very amusing closing line. As always you have great dialogue and distinct character voices. I loved the line Guess that’s why he invented INSTA-FREEZE. because I could hear it dripping with sarcasm.

    • Yes, I was entertained. The lovable mooch, who welches on his debts. I thought he would predictably pay up. Nice twist at the end.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        You’re the top, Don. Your pointing out how ‘Minnie The Moocher’ travels through life without any regard for others. Mama’s boy to the core. He better start drinking anti-freeze and wait for the freeze-over. Very well done, as always.

        Did you research my brother for this story?

    • peetaweet says:

      Quick and funny, that was a good read!

    • agnesjack says:

      Your dialogue is great, Don, and I smiled all through. I think Larry needs to pay his debt, though. No telling what invention Lefty will come up with next.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Very clever antidote – ANTI-FREEZE! Banter was great. You created a clear character with your MC. Liked the read.

    • jmcody says:

      I liked the lighthearted tone of this. I could almost picture an infomercial for Insta-freeze. (“Freezes on contact! Make ice cold frosty beverages! Amaze your family and freeze your enemies! Then when you’re done, just use a hair dryer, and presto, the freeze is gone!”)

      Swifty needs to work on the formula, and Larry needs to get hold of himself.

  65. stoland1999 says:

    “I’ll be right there, Mom.”
    I tucked my cell in my pocket and made sure everything I needed was in the bag. Definitely not the time to forget something. Drawing on my heavy coat and gloves, I braced myself for what awaited me.
    “Hey, Tommy! I’m running over to mom and dad’s for a while. Don’t eat all the Cheetos!”
    “You’re crazy, dude. What the hell’s so important?” he asked while licking the orange crusted goo off his fingers.
    “Gotta fix something,” I mumbled. He smirked.
    “Again?”
    “Yeah… again,” I sighed and opened the door. The wailing howl of white death burst through the opening in a hungry gust that threatened to envelope us both. Tommy cursed at me and stumbled back into the living room.
    Leaning into the wind, I put one hand at eye level to try and keep the snow and ice from hitting my face. One of the worst snow storms yet this season. Weatherman said it would be the first of many. Hooray. Normal walk time to my parents’ house is five minutes. It took forty-five today. And I lost a boot.
    “MOM!!” My pounding at the door was finally answered.
    “Thank gracious you’re here. I can’t do a thing with him,” she grumbled. Taking my snow encrusted outer layers, she wrapped a warm blanket around me and thrust a mug of hot chocolate into my hands. I smiled my thanks.
    “Where are they?”
    “The den. Heaven help the one responsible. When I find out who…” her mutterings trailed behind her as she headed back into the kitchen.
    I grimaced into my mug. With a little luck she would never know it was my fault. I stepped down into the den and absorbed everything in a glance. Dad, Uncle Marty, Fred and Joe were there. I finished my cocoa and started rummaging through my bag.
    “Who invited the pipsqueak?” Joe’s nasally tone had always irritated me.
    “That pipsqueak will clean your clock these days,” my uncle retorted.
    “With what army?”
    “Mom called,” the mention of my mother made Joe snort. He was a self-proclaimed loner, but only because no woman wanted him.
    “You need anything kid?”
    “Nah, Fred, I came prepared,” I carefully arranged my papers and books. The last item I sat down on the table was a velvet drawstring bag.
    “Look at Mr. Fancypants,” Joe taunted.
    “What’s the price?” I ignored Joe and directed my question to Fred. He did a few calculations and then handed me a piece of paper. Looking over it, I nodded. We made the necessary notations on our papers.
    “Don’t worry Dad, I’m going to fix this,” I reached into the velvet bag and pulled out the item I needed. Holding it close, I said a quick prayer and threw it. It tumbled and rolled before finally coming to a stop. Everyone’s collective held breath was released. Joe groaned.
    “Dispel magic has succeeded,” Fred intoned. He smiled.
    “That’s my boy!” Dad cheered.
    “Dad, you gotta stop rolling zeros.”

    • Dennis says:

      I like all the various family characters and their dialogue. I can almost picture them. I’m not quite getting the ending yet, but it’s also the end of a long day. Godd work.

      • stoland1999 says:

        I should have went over the limit and added a bit more to make it easier to understand. I’m tired too and realized it after I posted (isn’t that always the case?)
        They are playing old fashioned Dungeons & Dragons. I wracked my brain trying to find something that could fit within the prompt but not be the norm. At the possible expense of some of my dignity (ha ha), I played when I was in high school. I was trying to make it so the kid had introduced his dad and friends to the game, thus being the cause of him being ‘frozen’ by a spell someone else had cast.
        Oh UGH! I just realized I shot myself in the foot. I am smacking myself in the head now. You can’t roll a zero on the dice, but my friends used to tease me that with my luck I could because I had such horrible luck playing. The lowest (of course) that you can roll is a 1 and that means you fail, miserably. Usually the person running the game gets to pick how your spell misfired, etc. Yes, I am definitely sounding geeky now!
        Anyway, I apparently need a refresher because I actually wrote it wrong in the end on my own story. Ok, no more writing after a long day!
        I hope that made some sense, my apologies if it didn’t!

        • Dennis says:

          Ah yes, D&D. Played it myself. Great idea!

          • stoland1999 says:

            Thanks! I wish I hadn’t jumped on it and written it so quickly. I’m still sort of giddy at seeing the prompt posted and want to do something immediately instead of giving my idea time to percolate. Once again, I resolve to do so in the future… hopefully it will work!

        • Observer Tim says:

          Yes youo can. You can roll “double-zero” or 100 on percentile dice. If he was rolling for magic resistance, that’s an auto-fail. At least it is under Original, Basic, Advanced, and 2nd Edition rules; don’t know about 3rd or 4th Ed because it’s been a while.

          • stoland1999 says:

            That is true! I had forgotten about that. Wow, this prompt is taking me down an unexpected memory lane! Very cool mention, thank you!

    • lionetravail says:

      D&D (or some other RPG) for the win! I love this ‘real life’ take on the freezing prompt, the fault of which was the MC’s failure to brave the snowstorm for adventure gaming night! I was having trouble coming up with a realistic situation, but without dad saying anything, the reveal that it was an in game frozen is just, so, freaking, awesome!

      • lionetravail says:

        BTW, I posted this before I saw your reveal, and yeah about rolling 0’s instead of 1’s, but it’s great great great even with that.

        • swatchcat says:

          Definitely a neat idea for the prompt. I agree with Dennis about the ending but see you caught it. That’s cool as I am guilty of it sometimes too.

        • stoland1999 says:

          Thank you! I was kicking myself going to sleep last night after I realized my mistake. I have yet to get to tell my husband about this one, but I think he’ll find it neat as well. He used to play and if I’d had him proof read he would have caught my last line!
          He still teases me about how many bad rolls I had during one of the last games we played so long ago. I was always a cleric and he was the DM that night. In the middle of a fight with me surrounded by my party to protect me so I could heal… I rolled horribly several times in a row. He ended up having me swing my quarterstaff above my head and I knocked all the other party members out cold. Somehow, miraculously we survived… but I never lived it down!

      • stoland1999 says:

        Thank you! I too just loved the thought of dad sitting there refusing to say anything because he was ‘frozen’ – talk about hard core D&D player! And mom thinking, whoever introduced him to this game… I’m going to kill them!
        I really love getting to write these and feel the characters come alive. Reading through everyone’s is such a joy as well. I’ve been taken down paths and introduced to different characters that I might never have experienced.

    • seliz says:

      I loved the descriptions in your piece. Too funny about loosing a boot (but believable after this winter)! I didn’t get the D&D reference either, but then again, I’ve never played. Either way, nicely done.

    • Reaper says:

      I caught the reference but missed the error. Maybe dad has a negative modifier on his roll. Stick with that instead of admitting the mistake! Oh, too late for that. This took me back because I actually played in those games where everyone braved the weather, called in sick to work, got grounded, whatever it took to be at the game.

      • stoland1999 says:

        Oh so true, I should have gone with that! Last night, I was just so aggravated with myself (and laughing at the same time) that I posted what I was thinking. Back before we could drive in high school that was how we spent our study halls. I remember thinking… I should write some of these sessions down because the dialogue and what happens is hilarious.
        I had the chance to read through the stories on here the other night where the first line was put out on twitter and then each person would add the next sentence to keep the story going. I loved how each person would try and twist the story and the funny stuff that happened as each reacted to what the others were doing. It’s such a unique experience. I wish they still did that here!

    • agnesjack says:

      I thought this was a difficult prompt to come up with something original, but so far (reading up from the bottom), I am amazed by the variety. I really liked your crusty characters, your description of the snowstorm (brrrr) and your unexpected ending (although I had to read the responses to get what game they were playing).

    • jmcody says:

      I’m with Agnesjack. I didn’t understand what the game was, but I still enjoyed the writing. I loved that your MC lost a boot in the snow trying to get to the game.

  66. QuiverPen says:

    I hung up the phone, mashing down on the little red symbol with far more force than was necessary. So he hadn’t come out of it yet. I sighed and sat down hard. The threadbare sofa creaked and threatened to cave in when it received my weight. Passing a hand through my unkempt hair, I let my eyes wander across the room.

    The single lamp flickered, casting an uneven light about the cramped quarters. A lopsided table reclined next to the seemingly pleasant kitchen. A kitchen was generally a place of warmth and familial bonding over food, but it became much less so when one opened the cupboard doors and found that the cupboards were bare. Then it was just a taunting mockery.

    Mom thought that Dad was under some sort of spell. Well, she was partially right. Indignation and disbelief so often leave people spellbound. If only he’d taken the news differently. So what if I didn’t have any money. So what if being a writer had “no future.” It’s what I loved. Med school was simply not for me. He could stay frozen.

    I shifted in my chair, which squeaked threateningly beneath me. As I did so, my eyes fell on the sign my mother had given me when I’d moved out of the house two years ago. “Families are forever.” It said.

    I sighed. “Fine, mom.” I muttered, “I’ll do what I can.”

    I picked up my phone and flipped through my contacts perhaps a little too quickly. The little green call light lit up before I could find him. It was dad calling. I swallowed hard. Maybe he’d listen this time.

    Maybe…

    I answered the phone.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Very interesting serious take on the seemingly whimsical prompt. There is a well rounded full feeling to the story despite its length. Good post!

    • Dennis says:

      Really enjoyed this very different take. Great writing.

    • lionetravail says:

      Agreed- as I mentioned above, I was having trouble with a real life take on this one (as I have generally done myself with past outlandish prompts). Well done!

    • seliz says:

      You conveyed so much in such a short amount of time. The description of the kitchen summed up the meager lifestyle of the main character. The family issue were believable and relatable. Nice job!

    • Reaper says:

      I despair for starving writers based on this story. Another literary take from you, and I love it. Your descriptions and the little details take my breath away. The only jarring thing was the double use of cupboard in one sentence. Something I’m sensitive to because I have been strongly chastised for over using words in a short span. It’s okay though, if it’s good enough for Twilight it might make us some money right?

      I also liked that you took frozen in a very figurative manner but did not beat your reader over the head with it. You let us come to it in our own time and played the guide so well.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was simply a lovely story, quiverpen. I went for a realistic take as well (I never read the other stories before I post), but yours was kinder and sweeter.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Kitchens come with many connotations and yours is perfect. Your MC’s hope is beautiful. I hope it will be rewarded.

    • jmcody says:

      This is a little gem. I LOVE how you broke out of the confines of this prompt and went your own way. Your approach was subtle and artistic — as others have said, you let us come around to the revelation slowly and naturally. Wonderful!

  67. Dennis says:

    Jared drove as fast as he could. He just got off the phone with his mother. I can’t believe Maroc did it. He actually cast the freezing spell on father. He thought Maroc was only bluffing. He decided not to give his mother any of the details. Now he needed to think quickly as he knew what Maroc wanted.

    Jared climbed the hill to Maroc’s gothic mansion. Even seeing it from a distance gave Jared the chills. So suiting for such a slime ball. Always putting himself above the rest, that was Maroc’s specialty.

    Jared parked in the circular driveway. Before he could rap on the door with the large, gargoyle headed knocker, the door swung open. There stood Maroc, six five, chiseled features, staring back at Jared with those piercing eyes.

    “Jared, you arrived quicker than expected.”

    “Release my father!”

    “Did you bring the book?”

    “You can’t have it.”

    “I warned you what would happen if you didn’t hand it over. Just tell me where it is and I’ll pick it up myself.”

    “Can’t do that. The spell book belongs in our family as it has been for generations.”

    Maroc’s face grew red. “That book should have always been ours. We were the correct lineage.”

    “But it was foreseen what your family would have done with it and that could not be allowed.”

    Maroc began to laugh. “If you are worried about an imbalance in power, it’s too late. Your family is growing weaker while mine grows stronger. I don’t need the book but it rightfully belongs with us.”

    Jared looked at Maroc with disgust. “All your family does is misuse its power.”

    Maroc gave a perturbed look and began to close the door. “I’m done dealing with you.”

    “Wait.” Maroc paused. “Release my father from the spell and I’ll get you the book.”

    Maroc closed his eyes for a moment. “Done. You have three days to bring me the book or your family will writhe in pain for eternity.” Maroc slammed the door shut.

    Jared could feel he was shaking. He hopped back in his car and took off. He verified with his mother that father was alright. He told her he would explain later. But what was he going to do to stop Maroc? No way could Maroc get his hands on the spell book. Maybe the answer was contained in the book itself. But first, he had to convince his father to tell him where it was hidden.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Good dialogue between the characters. A nice twist at the end that made his father an integral part of the greater story.

      • Dennis says:

        Thank you. I have done what you do and try to put it down quick to make my creativity flow more. Doesn’t always work but though. I think I am going to let it percolate a bit more to see what develops.

    • seliz says:

      Interesting take on the prompt. I liked the tension between the characters and the background story woven into this piece.

      • Dennis says:

        Thank you. I was amazed how the back story just came together as I put it down. I don’t always include it in the prompts but felt it needed it for my scene.

    • Reaper says:

      You have a slip into internal monologue in the first paragraph, it is hard to tell at first that it is more than a tense shift. It would flow better if that were better indicated as a thought.

      I like the story and love the definition of the father and the son by the reveal at the end that your MC had no idea where the book was but too much honor to give up that only the frozen man knew.

      • Dennis says:

        Yes, I see what you mean about the first paragraph. The bit about not knowing just emerged as I was finishing it and thought it a great hook. Thanks

    • Cardinal Richelieu says:

      This is great! I don’t know what sorts of things you like to write, but I think that you could definitely work this out into an amazing YA novel!

      • Dennis says:

        I’m beginning to edit my first novel which was specifically written for YA with the intent after that that I would switch to Adult Lit. Now you got me thinking. Thanks for the feedback.

        • Cardinal Richelieu says:

          You’re very welcome. I didn’t want to sound creepy with my first comment, but I actually got an account just to comment on this story! Seriously! I think this would make an absolutely terrific YA novel. (I kind of wish that I had come up with this idea.) Sigh :) Hope you do pursue turning this excellent bit of work into a YA novel, and I would really love to see it on the shelves of Barnes and Noble!

          • Dennis says:

            Wow, thank you for that, especially since I’m fairly new to this site as well. As I thought about it, the story could definitely by stretched out into a series. It would be fun working out all the backstory and what the spell book is realy about. Good luck with your writing as well.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was a very intriguing story and I liked the idea of the families jockeying for the ultimate power. I was a little confused by the father’s sudden recovery at the end, however, because you had so specifically stated in the beginning that the spell had been cast. Nice twist about the son not really knowing where the book was, though.

      • Dennis says:

        Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. Jared pleads Maroc to release the spell, which is when I have Maroc close his eyes and then says Done. This was to signify that he had lifted the spell I could have added maybe, Done, spell has been lifted. Thanks for the feedback and glad you liked it.

    • jmcody says:

      Dennis, my fellow late bloomer, I did not see you all the way down here! I agree with the others that this is a fantastic story idea that would work well for a YA audience. I would love to read this myself, as I am not above an occasional guilty YA pleasure. (I recently completed the Hunger Games trilogy — borrowed it from my son! :))

      This is well written and compelling, and I agree that I could see it in novel form. Congrats on a great job!

      • Dennis says:

        Thank you for your kind words. I’m still getting the hang of this and not really sure where that story line came from. I’m not up enough on YA novels so will need to read a few to get a better sense of them. Unfortunately I read the Twilight novels a couple of years ago. Bad writing. I’m really enjoying these prompts and they work on getting the creative to proces to flow, not to mention all that I learn from reading everyone elses.

  68. itsdomoo says:

    I grasped Carters hand quickly with my right, while my left was applying pressure to the hole I had just created in his stomach.

    “How bad am I bleeding?” Carters eyes were slammed shut, he knew his wound was bad- too much blood had been spewing for too long for him to not realize he was bleeding out. “And is Jostle still in that corner saying absolutely nothing?”

    “Not that bad…” I whispered. “She is simply staring at me, not even trying to help me!” I tried scolding towards her, yet she laughed it off with a shrug.

    “You leave witch craft to the witches please.” She spun her long black hair with her fingers as she did a faint smile. “And stick to doing your makeshift magic.”

    “My magic is not makeshift!” I quickly let go of Carter wound as he groaned in pain.

    “Ladies please, I just had an ice particle shot through my stomach- somebody say a reverse spell or something! Jostile, you are the only witch here- please.”
    Jostile simply laughed and nodded.

    “Its not magic at all…” She flicked her finger towards me as a large blue and silver book flew off the shelf and next to Carter. “When you’re done, then leave it with the rest of the element books you must avoid.”

    I rolled my eyes and pulled the ton book towards me, “Open me to a page, I’m shade not a witch, i have no idea how to work this book.”

    The book quickly shot open to a page. I watched as Jostile did a devious laugh- she was enjoying my pain.
    “Read it.” Carter gasped for air. “Please.”

    “Uh- this is in Latin… sorry I only took Spanish in school.”

    “Try.” Jostile did another devious laugh.

    “Uh-Congelo supra Frigidus cito… hmm that didn’t sound good.”

    Just then the phone rang and fear jolted through my body. The last thing I needed was for someone to request to come to my apartment with Carters blood all over my floor and witch near my bookcase.

    “I’ll get it.” I whispered as I slowly walked to the phone. I could see my life flash in front of my eyes.
    A crying woman was on the other side.
    “What’s wrong?” I hesitated.

    “It’s your father. A spell has been cast upon him and he’s been frozen solid.”

    I froze as I looked at Carter with confusion.
    “Don’t worry, uh- Mom. I’ll take care of it.” I whispered as I hung up the phone slowly. “You gave me the wrong spell.”

    “No right spell, wrong person doing it!” Jostile finally moved from her corner and slid of the floor next to Carter.
    The words that flowed through her mouth were sheer perfection, and I could understand why she took pride in the craft in which she does.
    Once Carters wound healed, she looked at me.

    “What did that lady want?”

    “She told me I had froze my father because a spell had been cast upon him.”
    An eerie silence wondered around all of us.

    “But I thought your parents were dead?”
    Me too…

  69. Ahsuniv says:

    Mort felt his eyes droop as the late afternoon sun filtered through his window. His mobile’s ringtone echoed through the hall making Mort jerk awake. Everyone in the office turned their heads in his direction in response to the ringing. He grabbed the phone from his desk in a hurry and answered it in a whisper.

    ‘Hey mom. What is it?’

    ‘Mort, It’s your father. He’s frozen!’ Said the panicked voice of his mother from the other end.

    ‘Not again’, he thought, as he buried his face in his hands.

    ‘Don’t worry mom, I’m coming right over…’

    Mort slapped his forehead for his stupidity. He couldn’t believe that he had forgotten. He was supposed to go to the old age shelter in the afternoon break to pick up his father.

    ‘Perhaps it’s mom’s amnesia running in my blood’, he thought.

    He rushed out of the office, grabbed his jacket and car keys and drove to the shelter.

    His mother being an amnesia patient had to be shifted to an old age home a couple of weeks ago. His father visited her twice a week. It was Mort’s job to drop him there while going to work and pick him up in the noon.

    If he delayed picking him up, his mother and father often picked up an argument that led to his mother’s inner genie coming out.

    It is unintentional on her part as she doesn’t remember in the slightest that she is a genie. For some reason, the genie in her only emerges when dad is around.

    Mort went into his mother’s room to find her sitting in a couch, watching tv, while his dad stood frozen near the doorway. He looked like he was about to storm out and got frozen mid-step. He looked like an ancient melted candle, with his wrinkled skin hanging stiff from his face.

    ‘Mom…’ he said, hugging her crumpled form.

    ‘Mort honey. What are you doing here in your office hours?’

    He pointed to his dad’s frozen form.

    ‘Oh! What is that man up to now?’ She said shaking her head in exasperation.

    Mort sat down next to her in the couch and explained to her that she was a genie. He told her how she had frozen dad and how she alone could undo it.

    After some cajoling, his mom agreed to lift the spell.

    ‘I am never visiting you again, old woman. And, this time, I mean it,’ said his dad storming out of the room as he got back to normal.

    • lionetravail says:

      You had a few tense switches during the story, which was otherwise very entertaining- I love the idea of an amnestic genie (it just tickles). The description of the frozen dad was wonderfully concrete!

    • Dennis says:

      I like that it wasn’t actually the main character’s fault and the reason why only he knew.

    • stoland1999 says:

      Nice original take on the prompt and an entertaining read!

    • Reaper says:

      I was going to mention the tense switches but you already saw them. Otherwise this was light and made me smile. I kept imagining an elderly Barbara Eden, still in the harem outfit in an old folks home. The I’m never coming back, and this time I mean it had the feel of an oft spoken line, including the last bit of it. So the father was beautiful, a man in love still and frustrated by it while driven by duty. You painted him as well as you did both mother and son but did it in one line.

    • peetaweet says:

      I liked the melted candle line, good stuff!

    • Critique says:

      A fun read. My favorite part was the descripton of the Dad trying to flee – he’d been there before :)

    • agnesjack says:

      A forgetful genie in an old age home — now that’s original. I, too, liked the last line and the fact that it seemed like part of the routine.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I like that she asks what that ma’am is up to now, when she’s theme one who has been making the mischief.

      • Ahsuniv says:

        Thank you so much everyone! I am still totally embarassed about the tense switches… But, I really enjoyed writing this story and your replies mean a lot to me.

  70. amsecre says:

    I didn’t mean for it to go this far. In hindsight, I probably should have stopped while I was ahead, but I couldn’t stop, and now I was going to pay.

    “Don’t worry Mom, everything is going to be fine. I’m going to take care of this.” I tried to soothe her as she cried hysterically into the phone, even when my own heart was beating out of control. I dropped the phone and ran to my car. Shaking, I drove to the familiar nondescript building five minutes from my house. Terror always hits close to home.

    I parked illegally, and ran to the side door, swiped my entry key card…nothing. The yellow error light flashed mockingly at me. I tried to swipe again, same result. I bashed my fist into the metal door, and panted in panic. Suddenly, I heard a soft beep, and the door opened. On the other side stood a small man, dark skinned, bald. Wordlessly, he took my arm and pulled me inside.

    “I know why you’re here. But you can’t save him.” the man said softly. His voice was calm.

    “I have to. I’m the one…this is my fault. I have to try, please…” I begged. This man knew where my father was, and he had the power to keep him there…or not. I saw him considering, reading the undisguised hurt in my eyes, measuring me. Then he turned and began walking, and I rushed to follow.

    The hallway we walked that had once seemed modern and cool now seemed stark and empty. Familiar doors passed by: ‘Incubation’, ‘Examination’, ‘Containment’. I always thought I was powerful, using my gift in a place doing so many good things. Only in that moment, I realized I had no power. I had a curse, and I foolishly tried to bind it with technology, something no one had done before, for good reason. Tears welled in my eyes.

    We turned down a corridor, and came to a door marked ‘Testing’. The man turned to me, his eyes dark and unreadable. “I’m sorry.” He said. I thought I detected regret, but then he unlocked the door, and I rushed past him, the moment gone.

    My father stood in a clear box, small wires coming from his head and hands. Temperature readings and vital signs flashed on a screen to the left of the case. His skin was pale, but otherwise looked unremarkable, and it almost appeared like he was sleeping, except for his core temperature reading: 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

    All of my life until that moment had been focused on taking whatever this power was inside me, and using it to prolong human life. I thought, I KNEW I was doing good with this strange power. But everything has a cost. The system I had created with my own hands and energy had backfired in the worst possible way, and now it was killing my father, slowly. I turned to the short man, standing silently behind me. “How long…?” I started, but I couldn’t finish.

    “We’re not sure. But we thought you might want to be here…” and he trailed off. So I sat down to wait.

  71. peetaweet says:

    I hung up the phone and held my head in my hands. The dark walls of my apartment felt like a tomb as my mom’s voice rattled around in my head.

    “Your father’s frozen.”

    And I knew why. I’d tossed the brunette for a blonde, but she was the wrong brunette to mess with. I shut off the Nintendo 64 and picked up the phone.

    “Natasha, you’ve got to undo this thing.”

    “What thing?”

    “Look, I know you hate me, but…”

    Click.

    She stopped answering the phone. Then she changed her number. A restraining order followed. And finally she vanished. This is why I told my friends, never date a witch.

    Out of guilt, I moved home and we tried make things work. Dad wasn’t dead after all. In July, we carted Dad outside to the front lawn in hopes that he’ll thaw. The neighbors stared. I felt terrible, I’d brought Natasha over for dinner when her and Dad butted heads. But Mom wouldn’t hear it, instead sitting with him and watching Jeopardy every night, setting her vodka and cranberry on his lap to keep it chilled.

    Five years passed. Mom talked to him as though he were a few degrees away from responding. She was losing it, asking me if I thought he was smiling when the Cubs were on. I hired an investigator. Natasha had dropped off the planet. I got engaged to a sweet girl, but waited to tell her about my dad. Maybe he’d come around.

    By year ten, Mom was still going strong. Both of us were excited about the whole global warming thing. I’d introduced Julie, who after fainting, stuck it out with me, even when we bought the house next door. There was no progress on the Natasha front. She was gone.

    Twenty years. I was 42 and had a nine year old son. My poor dad’s face still frozen in time, which was weird because time and worry had crinkled my mom’s pretty face. But she still held hope, making more than one inappropriate joke about his stiffness.

    A local news station caught wind of a frozen man and I thought the lid was going to blow. A neighbor had come over, screamed bloody murder and ran off telling anyone who’d listen. Mom fended them off, but the sharks were swarming. So when my phone rang I braced myself for another journalist sniffing around.

    “Hello David.”

    The husky voice prickled my ear. “Natasha?”

    “Long time.”

    My blood charged, rippled through my veins and I fell to the floor. Julie watched with a hand clinging to her mouth.

    “I’m getting married and I feel it’s time I let you off the hook.”

    I dropped the phone and Julie dove to my side. Then we heard the shriek.

    I bolted out of the house and to my parents’ house, rushing inside to fin