Lipstick Message

You get a message, it is obviously for you, but it is scrawled in lipstick on a mirror in a public restroom. It’s unexpected, but now you know exactly where the killer is hiding. It’s time to find him and, hopefully, your friend (and hopefully your friend is still alive). Write this scene.

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

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317 thoughts on “Lipstick Message

  1. l24y

    I slowly pushed open the bathroom door, only breathing through my mouth to avoid the stench radiating from the toilets in the back. I trudged my way to the sinks to reapply makeup, my eyes closing slowly. I guess my coffee hadn’t kicked in yet. I reached into my purse and pulled out my mascara, uncapped it, looked up into the mirror, my eyes slowly opening. And what met my eyes, that odd sight, made me gasp and drop my mascara wand in shock.
    The mirror was long; know this. It stretched from one side of the bathroom, wrapped around the room, and went halfway around the back wall. I stood between two sides of mirror, one in the back of me, and one in the front of me.
    On the bit of mirror that I was using- out of all the mirror here, this is where it was written- were four words, in dark, pink lipstick.
    ‘Come and get me.’
    My heart stopped in my chest. My eyes didn’t move. I didn’t know who had written this, or why, but I knew it was for me. I just knew it was. Intuition, you could call it.
    Out of the corner of my eye, I saw feet. Feet were moving beneath one of the bathroom stalls. My head whipped around to look at them, but I had been wrong. Nothing was there. I supposed it was just my mind, playing tricks on me. However, I was still spooked from the mirror. I rushed out of the bathroom, my hands shaking. I let out a breath when I reentered the coffee shop- other people were a comfort.
    However, I had ‘spoken too soon,’ as the saying goes. The coffee shop was empty, save for the small old man that worked at the counter.
    I cleared my thoat and made my way to the booths at the counter. I sat down in front of the man, who payed no attention to me and continued staring at the cash register.
    “A mocha, please,” I said in my business voice, sitting up straight. I looked around the shop. Plates were still left at the tables, food on them, drinks half full. Drinks had spilt to the floor, as well, and napkins were scattered about. A few chairs were tipped over. How had I not seen that before?
    “A mocha, please,” I said a bit more sternly when I realized the old man hadn’t moved. “Excuse me?” I said, getting annoyed. I waved my had in front of his face. Absolutely insulted, I tapped the man’s shoulder, not exactly gently.
    The man, this time, moved. But not exactly the way I had expected. He fell face first onto the counter, and I was able to see his back for the first time. Sticking out of it was a knife, and blood trickled down his shirt and into his pants, leaving a pody-like stain in his trousers. Horrified, I stood up, backing away slowly. I turned around, my heart beating a mile a minute.
    Then I realized yet another mind-blowing happening. On one of the tables next to me, the only one that had seemed clean at first glance, more things were written.
    In blood.
    ‘One down. Two more to go.’ At the top of the message was the first initial of my name, and at the bottom was the letter ‘Z’. Which made me think long and hard- who did I know with a name that started with ‘Z’?
    Then it hit me.
    I sprinted out of the shop, into the vacuous road, and kept running. ‘Two more to go. Two more to go.’ Tears came to my eyes, caused by the wind, my hair flinging out behind me. I stopped in front of the car shop, panting. The blinds were closed, the lights seemed to be off. Yet the sign said ‘open’. I pushed through the door, prepared to see another murder scene, or a message.
    Yet the only thing I saw was a man, sitting in a chair. He smiled widely. “Hello,” he whispered. Behind him, I heard a small sound. I didn’t dare look.
    But I didn’t have to, as he the man stood up, and grabbed the thing, lifting it into view. It was a girl, about fifteen. I knew her, I know I did, but I couldn’t think of who it was. But then she turned towards me, and I got a clear view of her face. She was the girl I used to babysit, back a long time ago. Written on her face, in the same lipstick as the first message on the mirror, was the number two.
    She whimpered again, and the man dropped her. He smiled at me and said, “And you’re number one. Two to go.”
    “What do you want?” I asked desperately, not understanding. “Why these people, Zack?”
    “Why not these people? They’ve all affected you one way or another, haven’t they?”
    “They all kept you alive, every time I had tried to kill you. Every time, they saved you!” Zack shouted angrily, kicking the girl.
    “Leave her alone!” I shouted, finally understanding. Zack, you see, had always hated me, and often told me he would kill me. I had never taken it seiously. But now, looking back, all those crazy accidents that I brushed off as being… well, an accident, now made perfect sense. It had all been Zack.
    Before I could move, Zack had kicked her head, and I heard a moan, and then she was gone. I looked up at him in horror as he said slowly, “Two down. One to go.”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hey 124Y: I enjoyed the story. It was clear how frightened the woman was. You came in over 900 words – could probably cut some of the descriptions that aren’t necessary to moving the story forward. For example, the stench of the toilets and the time spent on describing the bathroom isn’t necessary, and it makes it surprising that she would actually order a drink in a filthy place like that. Why didn’t she leave right away? That was the question that ran through my mind.

      A lot of time was spent on the first shop that stalled the action between when she saw the writing and the feet in the bathroom, and when she finally leaves the place. Once you set up the action with her running out of the bathroom, everything stops. From everything I’ve read and learned about writing action scenes, you never want to stop the action unless the stop itself is critical to the action.

      All that is time that you might have used to have her think about Zack – their inevitable meeting, and why he hates her. At the end, we’re left with her stating that he hates her, but we don’t know why.

      Anyway, just my humble thoughts. You’re descriptions were really good, by the way. It’s difficult in a 500 word story to know what to keep and what to ditch.


      1. l24y

        Thanks so much Anne!
        Sadly, that’s one of my habits. In the beginning, I spend too much time on detail, then it just disappears. Thanks for pointing that out, I’ll definitely work on it. Also, the word limit… yeah, I always go over the maximum. I hate having the limit. I’ll have to work on that, too.
        Thanks again!

  2. free durian

    A perfect imprint of a feather was marked in red upon the mirror. Below it, a long line stretched across to where an opened tube of lipstick lay inside a basin.

    I checked its colour against the marks on the mirror. They matched.

    A smile crept across my face. The galah was a lot smarter than he looked. Not quite smart enough to not get caught in the first place, of course, but smart enough to let me know where he was. Later I’d have to investigate how, exactly, he’d gotten hold of my lipstick, but for the moment I was just happy to see proof that he’d survived this far.

    To the right of the mirror, a long corridor stretched into the distance, flanked either side by toilet cubicles. That horrid beast must have taken Alex down there, where he would be trapped. 

    A loud and high pitched yowl suddenly pierced the air, followed by a vicious hiss. I could hear sounds of a struggle coming from the end stall, punctuated by the sound of a ringing telephone. 

    The sound sent a shiver down my spine. The creature that had caught Alex wa vicious beyond all compare. Wherever its kind went, destruction and extinction followed in its wake. And now my poor little Alex was at its mercy. 

    I sprinted to the stall and flung the door open. Before me was a terrible sight. The beast was huge, twice the size of most of its kind, and its tail swung from side to side in a mad frenzy. The hairs on its back stuck up in a warlike mohawk, and its large eyes shone brightly with the joy of the hunt. In its mouth Alex struggled valiantly, blood staining his pink and grey coat. The sound of a phone came from his mouth. 

    “Scat!” I said, waving my arms in a vain attempt to scare the beast away. My only reward was a low growling sound that rose within the beast’s throat. Alex kept on ringing. 

    I stood there, unarmed against a beast armed with vicious claws, who held in its mouth a friend who I prized as much as my own child. I could see only one option. Without a moment’s hesitation, I rushed in and tackled the beast. 

    The beast yowled again and scratched me with its wickedly sharp talons. I found myself with four matching gashes along my arm, but I was successful. My attack had forced the beast away, and it had dropped Alex as it fled.

    Alex continued to make the ringing sound as I picked him up. “That’s right, my clever galah,” I said.  “I always come when the phone rings, don’t I? Well, I’m here now. Let’s get you to the vet, and I’ll make sure no cats get anywhere near you in the future.”

    Alex stopped his ringing and looked at me with all the love a little galah could muster. “Hello, Mummy,” he said. 

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Free Durian – I wasn’t sure what a galah was, so I looked it up and then reread the story. Then I got the idea of “scat!” as the narrator’s means of challenging the beast. It was a cat? The pink and grey coat was the bird’s feathers? It had a cell phone in its mouth? Hers?

      I enjoyed the tale, but I had to do a lot of work to understand it. Galah is probably not a word that the average reader would know. You might want to consider using the more common name than galah, such as Rose-breasted Cockatoo, so readers like me can understand the context. I originally thought is was a science fiction story.

      Anyway, I did very much enjoy the reaed. Your descriptions were great, and I especially enjoyed the scene when the narrator confronts the cat. nice job!


      1. free durian

        In Australian English, “galah” can mean either “a silly person” or the bird. Cockatoo doesn’t have the same double meaning. I intended for the story to be ambiguous up until the end.

        I probably should have left the phone sound out. It was based on the pet galah that my cousin had when they were young – it had figured out that people always came into the dining area (where its cage was) when the phone rang, so it learnt how to make phone sounds whenever it wanted attention. On reflection, it was probably a bit obtuse to put in the story though.

        1. annefreemanimages

          Actually, once I knew that we were dealing with a cat and a bird, I like the phone idea a lot. It made sense to me that the bird swiped phones. I understand your point about the story being ambiguous intentionally, but you always risk losing readers that way. If this weren’t a posting page with the purpose of reading and commenting on each other’s work, I probably wouldn’t have made the effort to look up galah and figure the story out. It’s especially risky when your readers aren’t from your culture. But those are the artistic choices we all have to make. Enjoyed the story a great deal. Nice job.

        2. Ishmael

          I definitely loved your spin on this, and thoroughly understand about keeping things a little ambiguous until the reveal. I would’ve clarified it to be a bird down at the end, though, because I still wasn’t sure what a galah was, and there was no need for ambiguity at that point (perhaps, “That’s right, my clever cockatoo.”) Clarifies his ability to make phone noises too. Hmmm…I wonder why all the birds belonging to people I know only spit out cusswords… 🙂

  3. Ishmael

    Wow! Nice! I hope other folks make their way back to read and enjoy this as much as I did. I really like the way you peppered her thoughts through the story as she reviewed her case file. The end was pure evil…loved it! His line, “I can’t wait for you to see how this all ends…” must be meant for ME, because I’m definitely panting for more. Felt like I was watching a real crime show in my head.

  4. Aaron Graham

    I watch him through the slightly cracked bathroom door. The look on his face resembles that of a child trying to learn math for the first time. I find it to be a tad entertaining. Would it be so horrible of me to laugh at him in this moment? He just can’t fathom what he is reading. Yes my dear friend, what the mirror speaks to you is quite true I am afraid. Now let’s see if you can figure out where she is.

    I like to keep where I work nice and tidy. If it’s too cluttered I can’t stay focused and well I just don’t have as much fun when I can’t pay attention. How about you? I tied her to the radiator behind my workshop. It’s quiet back there. She just wouldn’t stop screaming, “Help! Help! Somebody please help me!” I laughed at her for a bit. I mean how could I not? Her voice was so broken that she sounded like a cat crying through an artificial larynx. It’s just so useless where she is, but as time went on it began to annoy me so out she went. The tools that I have prepared for this evenings entertainment are my trusty hammer and a hack saw. If there is one thing I have learned throughout the years is that you don’t mess with success.

    Her photographs were beautiful. When I saw her in the magazine I knew I had to have her and lucky for me she lived so close. The commute barely used any gas and who doesn’t like saving some money? Gas prices right? Oops, pardon me I have gotten off subject. Please forgive me for getting sidetracked there for a moment. I promise it won’t happen again. I loved her hair and pouty lips. In fact, I plan on keeping those lips when I am done. When I found out her husband was the police detective in charge of looking for me I just couldn’t resist. I wanted him in on the game. I just don’t know what I am going to do with him. Not a fan of killing the fellas. Women are much more fun to play with. Yes, I am a serial killer…guilty.

    I have her sprawled out on my cutting table. Her eyes are so large. She is scared and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My hammer will be first. I want pain to be her fist sensation with me. I want to break her ankles. They look so weak. I bet when her bones break it will sound like a soothing lullaby. Oh, what is this? Are those police sirens I hear outside my workshop? I am not entirely sure (bad memory…sue me), but I think I told him to come alone. That’s a downer. I never get to have any fun. Oh well, there goes my game. He loses.


    1. annefreemanimages

      Whoops! I think you mistakenly posted your story between the story above by Bridee and the comments meant for that story, which are below. Anyway, this comment is for Aaron Graham’s story. Creepy reading the story from the killer’s point of view. The last paragraph was especiall chilling. I’m assuming that he’s going to kill the detective’s wife without torturing her? Wasn’t clear at the end. The narrator stayed in character nicely.


  5. Bridee0809


    Julie walked down the hallway to the bathroom. She stopped at the door and leaned on it, expecting it to be locked and occupied as it had been most of the night. She found herself suddenly fighting gravity when the door swung open and she tripped into the small room. After regaining her balance, she threw her purse on the counter then hiked her skirt up and sat down on the toilet.

    Too bad Adam is sick; he would love this place.

    A sour look crossed her face when she remembered her mother worried when she stayed out late. She looked at her watch, 12:32 a.m. She couldn’t remember what time she got there, only that happy hour had turned into happy hours.

    Mom will understand, especially after the hell I’ve gone through since Bill died. Has it really been two years?

    Julie shivered, goose bumps breaking out on her skin. Her stomach lurched and she lowered her head into her hands. When her stomach settled, she raked her hair out of her face with both hands.

    Frowning, she ran her hands through her hair again, it felt dirty and her hands were covered in grit.

    I must be drunker than I thought.

    She finished then stood at the sink and washed her hands. She reached for the paper towels but stopped, noticing something on the mirror.

    Adam’s nice, just like Bill. Surfs up.

    It was written in Julie’s favorite shade of lipstick. Her heart leapt into her throat and she covered her mouth muffling a scream. Shaking, she opened her purse, found her cell phone and pressed the icon labeled “home”.

    Two rings later a sleepy voice said, “hello?”

    “Mom, she has Adam!” Julie said, barely able to breathe.

    “Julie?” said her mother.

    “Janie’s back,” Julie said.

    “Come home right now,” said her mother, her voice shrill.

    “I can’t do it again Mom, don’t let that black-eyed bitch destroy me,” Julie said, starting to cry.

    “Listen, I’ll come and get you, we’ll call Dr. Craig and…”

    “No! He’s useless.” Julie sobbed.

    “Where are you?” her mother asked, her voice sounding small and far away.

    “A bar,” sniffed Julie.

    “Where is Janie?” Her mother asked slowly, as if she didn’t want to know the answer.

    “The beach house.”

    “Focus Julie, if Janie is at the beach house, then where are you?”

    Julie stared into space. As if in a dream, she saw Janie walk out the front door of a familiar wreck of a house. She was naked and drenched in blood. She walked across a deserted beach and dove into the surf.

    “Julie? Baby?”

    “Mrs. Patterson, nice to speak with you again,” Janie said flatly.

    “Janie don’t. Please let her go.”


    Janie put the phone in her purse and looked in the mirror, her eyes moving over her face as if reacquainting herself with her own features. She looked into her eyes and watched as the blue color of Julie’s eyes was replaced with black.

  6. Scott B.

    The cell phone on her left hip began to vibrate as she pulled in to the latest crime scene. It was Tyson, her husband, calling. The fight they had the night before was monumental, but now she needed to focus on work. She let the call ring through to voicemail and exited her unmarked cruiser. Detective Roberts motioned to a patrolman who gave her a quick rundown of the situation.

    “Same story Jess; it looks like your guy. Left a note, this one on the mirror, but it matches the MO. And yes, there’s a souvenir. But no prints, no blood, no additional trace…and Detective…he made this one personal. The note’s addressed to you.”

    Roberts thanked the officer and knelt down in the doorway of the exterior restroom, closing her eyes. She knew this case inside out and was running through the files in her head before she absorbed the latest scene.

    “…patterns suggest an organized perpetrator…male, 25-35 years of age…socially competent”

    Inside she would find just two things: a message and a body part, usually a limb. The lab guys believed the cuts are made by a type of masonry chisel. This was the first piece located from victim number five.

    “…well-planned scenes suggests highly intelligent/educated…”

    She whispered to herself, “So, you want to play games and get inside my head? Well, I’m already in yours. Tell me something I don’t already know.” Roberts ducked under the yellow tape and was taken aback by the stale odor of urine wafting out of the stalls. It reminded her of the stuffy portable toilets you find lining the back lot at a county fair.

    “…socially adept, but egomaniacal…likely to follow media coverage of investigation…”

    The killer had scrawled a single word at each initial crime scene: Logos, Aponia, Hexis, Pneuma – all philosophy terms, but none of them getting her any closer to solving the case.

    She turned the corner and saw a man’s left hand and forearm sticking out of the sink. She looked next at the mirror, expecting the note to fit the pattern. Instead she found written in lipstick “Dear Detective” followed by four numbers on the cracked, greasy mirror.

    “Oh my god,” she thought as she reached for her phone in a panic and called Tyson. No answer. She dialed into her voicemail. She ran her palm across her forehead, waiting for the message.

    The voice on the recording was not Tyson’s. “Jessica. Such a pity you would not answer; I looked forward to hearing your voice.”

    She felt sick and slid to the floor.

    “Before you go rushing off to save him you should know it’s too late for that, but you’ll be seeing more of him soon enough.”

    She stood and threw up in the sink.

    “I want you to catch me Jess. I do, but not just yet. I can’t wait for you to see how this all ends. I’ll be in touch.”

    The numbers written on the mirror corresponded to her home address.

      1. Ishmael

        Never be nervous here. Creation is a subjective thing, and this is the place to find out what’s working and what’s not. We’re all putting our babies up for show – the pretty ones and the ones with twelve toes.

        Oh, by the way, minus two points for the wrong use of “compliments.” 🙂 Just joking! (Your choice of complements is when, for example, a necklace complements an outfit…sort of adds to it to make it better).

  7. mwahl

    The air, laden with sweat and cigarette smoke, enveloped my senses and burned my eyes. Wiping away a salty tear from my cheek while simultaneously smearing my mascara, I weaved through the crowd of twentysomethings to the bathroom. Might as well fix my makeup and see how Clarissa’s doing.

    None of the stalls were occupied. Odd. Didn’t Clarissa say she’d be right back after she went to the bathroom?

    I applied eye drops and blinked to clear my vision before looking in the mirror. It had a message written in smeared lipstick: never odd or even.

    It was in her favorite shade – pink popcorn. The shade she wore tonight. My fingers massaged my temples. Ok, think. The killer knew we were here, at the club. The message was meant for me, and it was in code.

    I traced the message with my fingertips; it was still wet. They must have left right before I entered the bathroom. What could it mean? I stopped pacing.

    It was a palindrome.

    Clarissa loved them, and so did her ex-boyfriend. We used to play word games together. Boggle. Scrabble. Even Apples to Apples. That’s all in the past.

    But why that particular one? I bit my lower lip and walked the perimeter of the bathroom, my heels clacking against the floors.

    Fourteen. There were fourteen letters in that palindrome. 1441. Neither an area code nor a date. Address?

    There were two restaurants and a car dealership at that address. Cars? Clarissa hates cars, why would the killer bring her there?

    Never odd or even. Clarissa was a math teacher – it made perfect sense. Infinity is a mathematical concept and can never be odd or even because infinity never ends. Infinity. Infiniti. Another play on words.

    Suddenly thankful I was the designated driver, I ran to my car and sped to the dealership, not caring that I had just received a ticket last week. I gripped the steering wheel, knuckles white.

    The roads were empty. All the lights green.

    Screeching to a halt, I killed the engine and leapt out, screaming, “CLARISSA! CLARISSA!”


    I exhaled, my air ragged like shredded clothing. I started to check the cars. The red 2012 convertible. The black 2011 sedan. Nothing underneath the cars. Nothing on top of the cars. Where? Where would he take her?

    Then everything around her seemed to slow. Seconds dissolved into minutes.

    There were no lights. My eyes adjusted soon enough.

    The back door was ajar.

    Taking a deep breath, I pushed the door open and peered around the corner. Goosebumps raised on my arms.

    Tires screeched and a car sped away. The killer’s car. Panic coursed through me – was I too late?

    A muffled yell.


    She was thrown into a closet, an afterthought. I untied her hands and removed the cloth from her mouth and we cried in each other’s arms.

    There was a lipstick message next to us: next time.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Whoops! I think you posted your story between Chaz’s story, above, and his commenters, below. This comment is for mwahl: You wrote the following:

      “I applied eye drops and blinked to clear my vision before looking in the mirror. It had a message written in smeared lipstick: never odd or even.

      “It was in her favorite shade – pink popcorn. The shade she wore tonight. My fingers massaged my temples. Ok, think. The killer knew we were here, at the club. The message was meant for me, and it was in code.”

      You took the reader directly from her see lipstick on a mirror to her thinking about a killer who was leaving a message for the narrator. There was no transitional sentence that set the scene, for example, no emotional shock at seeing a message from a killer who probably has kidnapped her friend to use as bait to get to her. It if were me, I would be shocked and panicky. Then, she can rub her temples to try and get herself back into control and think things through.

      Without the emotional response from her, I have no emotional response to the story. A thriller is heavily dependent upon emotions. Just some thoughts you may want to consider. Otherwise, and interesting approach to the prompt.


      1. mwahl

        Hi Anne,

        Thank you so much for your constructive feedback! I don’t normally write thrillers but thought to take a chance on this prompt. Next time I write a thriller (if I do, anyway) I’ll definitely include more emotional responses from the protagonist.

        As far as posting, I do apologize for being caught between William’s story and his comments (great story, William!). Maybe it had to due with the moderator? Who knows.

        Thanks again for your feedback 🙂

  8. William Chaz

    Lipstick Lover

    In my opinion, I thought the date was going well. Looking at my watch, I grew more and more anxious. My date had been gone for quite a while. Either her ravioli hit her stomach the wrong way, or this was her way of saying “Get a clue.”
    As the gentleman I am; I decided to go check up on her. I gave the restroom door a few hard knocks, with no response. “Kendal, sweety, are you ok?” I whispered through the door, trying not to gather too much attention to myself. Again, I received no response.
    I took it upon myself to walk in, ignoring the gender sign. As suspected, there was no Kendal, but there was a message of some sort that caught my eye, on the mirror closest to me. After getting a closer look, I noticed that it was written in makeup. Lipstick, to be even more precise, and to further the clarifications, a very familiar shade: Cherry Red.
    Without jumping to conclusions, I figured it would be wise to at least read what it had to say. It read, “Hey darlin! I know you were hoping for a good night, but I’ve decided otherwise. I’m going to make this pain you gave me mutual. If you want to save this girl, meet me in OUR spot. If you haven’t caught on to who this is by now, give this message a lick.” It was signed with a winky face.
    I didn’t have to lick it, but if I did I’m sure it would have tasted just like the lips I’ve been kissing for the past five years. It would have tasted like my crazy ex-wife. She always wore cherry flavored lipstick.
    Without wasting any time, I rushed to what used to be our spot. It was an area right beneath an underpass, that had a great view of the sunset, that only her and I knew of. It’s where I took her on our first date and where we had our first kiss.. It’s where I proposed to her, but that was ruined when she became a psychopath.

    “Oh there you are sweety! Just in time to see your chloroformed little girlfriend wake up.”

    “Are you mad woman!? She has nothing to do with you and I.” I screamed.

    “Doesn’t she? She is the reason you divorced me, ISN’T SHE?!” She pointed towards Kendal, and her face turned red with anger.

    I walked towards my ex, and went in for a hug. In our relationship, that seemed to be the only thing that calmed her down. She pushed me away and pulled a small pistol. She aimed it towards Kendal. Her eyes started tearing up.

    “If I can’t have you, neither can this trash. I will always love you.” She mumbled.

    “Sto-” But before I could finish my sentence, she had already fired and turned the gun on herself.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi William: I think some of your comments got bounced to below the next story. This comment is for William Chaz’s story.

      Nicely told, but missing emotion. He doesn’t express what he’s feeling. The set up at the restaurant provides some good opportunities for him to run through different emotions: Impatience at how long she was taking, worry that something might be wrong, embarressment that she might be dumping him, caution when approaching the bathroom, decision when entering the bathroom, etc. See what I mean? That rollercoaster would be great when he finally slams into reality – she’s been kidnapped by his crazy ex. Then you can spring from there. Some great lines: I didn’t have to lick it, and get a clue. Like the story, but it’s hard in 500 words.


  9. nuckles85

    The pulse of my heart echoed, loudly, throughout my body. I stared in horror at the message on the mirror. He had been here just minutes ago, and I had been completely oblivious, no more than a yard away within the restroom stall.
    Written in dark red lipstick on the restroom mirror were the words, “Congrats! You’re the next star!”
    My thoughts slithered from the depths of my nauseous stomach. Amanda. Outside. Alone!
    Without further hesitation, I threw myself through the restroom door, the soles of my shoes slamming against the tile floor of the lobby as I ran out of the restaurant.
    On the ground, against the base of a lamp post, was Amanda’s coat, shivering in the cold air of dusk.
    The image of the mirror’s cryptic message flashed in my mind again. I knew what he wanted.
    You’re the next star!
    “I don’t want to!” I screamed. “You sick bastard! You hear me? I’m not your fucking star!”
    The images of his past victims swam in my memory’s eye.
    I jumped in my car, and sped to my house where he’d be waiting.
    The lights were on at my house. I could only imagine what grotesque act he had planned for me.
    He stood in the kitchen, watching me enter. His arm gestured to his left, where Amanda sat. She didn’t blink or move a single muscle. I could barely make out the slight rhythmic lifting and falling of her chest as she stole shallow breaths.
    The kitchen was clean, as I’d left it, with the exception of the kitchen sink that was covered in a thick layer of coagulating blood. Amanda’s left hand was covered in a thick bandage. Though, nothing physically restricted her movement, she remained listless and frozen in deep shock.
    “I was forced to restrain her,” he said, his eyes never wandering away from me. “Let us begin.”
    “Fuck you, piss ant,” I responded.
    He moved, quicker than I would’ve thought possible of an old man like himself. Before I could fight back, he’d twisted me around into a chokehold with his right arm and forced a small vial of liquid into my mouth with his left.
    I spit it out in disgust, as he pulled away. I rushed towards the kitchen sink, determined to rinse out the LSD before it took effect. It was already too late, invisible insects began to crawl along my spine.
    Anger shot through my veins, and I turned around snarling like a beast. I reached for the knife holder, grabbing the first knife my fingers touched.
    Colors swirled across my rocking vision.
    I deciphered his figure from the madness; he sat before me-taunting me. Pulling a knife from the knife holder, I rushed him and forced the knife deep into his eye socket.
    Then, for a moment, I saw clearly. Amanda’s torn body lay at my feet, drenched in her own blood.
    “No,” I whispered. “I stabbed him. Where’s Amanda?”
    I was grateful when the madness returned.

  10. nicmac3546

    “Sickko!” I said directly into the mirror as I saw the disgusted look on my face through the lipstick that had been scribed on it. It was bad enough that Anthony had killed my best friend now it seemed as if he wanted to torture me as well.

    I backed out of the restroom slowly. My hands were shaking and the urge that had sent me there slowly faded. I was terrified. If he had done something so cruel to the person he proclaimed he loved then my life was surely at danger. I rushed out and launched into the hallway. My heels hitting the floor with such anxiousness that if someone were looking to find me all they had to do was listen. I braced myself at each doorway I passed in expectation that he could be hiding in the recesses. Panic seized my body and I no longer felt like I was in control.

    “Why does he want to meet me?” I thought. His message read: Meet me on Water Street tonight. “What possible reason could he have for wanting to talk to me?”

    My mind was racing as fast as the kids outside on the playground. I remembered Anthony’s face at the funeral. It was that of a clown to me. Happiness masked by misery. There was no way that Lisa killed herself…no way! He put on a marvelous show for Lisa’s parents. I don’t know if anyone saw but as I stood in my black dress that day and watched him clench her mother and cry, I clapped.

    “Bravo” I wanted to scream across the room “You son of a bitch! Everyone believes you.” I thought as my face clenched and my eyes glared through his soul. He raised his head and looked over at me, our eyes met and it seemed as if he had telepathically received my thoughts. He smirked slightly then went back to his charade.

    My thoughts of that day were disturbed by my name being paged. “Ms. Anderson to the office, please. Ms. Anderson to the office”

    I sat at my desk for a moment. I needed to pick the kids up from the playground and I was scared of the purpose of the summoning. Nevertheless, I had to go.

    The office had an unusual brown envelope for me that was marked urgent. I opened it in view of the school secretaries too scared to be alone. Inside the envelope were a card, keys on a ring with an address, and Lisa’s wedding ring. The card read:

    We did it. Now we can be together. I purchased that house you love on Water Street.
    Meet me there tonight to celebrate. I’m bringing your favorite food. Don’t forget that black
    piece I like. I promised you a ring and here it is. I hope you’re not mad at me because it took so long. I’ll spend my whole life making it up to you. I love you, Anthony.

    1. Ishmael

      I know she’s got to be wrestling with her conscience: “On the one hand, he DID kill my best friend, but on the other hand, I really, REALLY like that house on Water Street. Hmmm…did I ever get that little black dress out of the cleaners?”

      🙂 Nice story.

  11. filmguru86

    My face had a small red mark right above the cheek, the first evidence of my exposure, it looked like my skin had boiled in this small spot. It was distracting me as I was staring in to the dirty mirror of an old BP truck stop bathroom. It was a little strange to know that just a few hours ago, my wife stood in this very same spot. A pile of her clothes tucked in the corner let me know that they had forced her to strip and change clothes. They weren’t taking any chances and they were right. She had tucked one of our gps tracking becons in her pants. 

    We bought them last year, just to be careful. Jane had gotten a professorship at Columbia that left her with a lot of extra free time, and the nature of my security consultant career left us with the ability to travel. We figured that we would go camping and climb mountains. Instead, I’m here in this bathroom wondering what the next course of action to take. The trail was cold. 

    I needed to vomit. It wasn’t the first sign of what the next few days had in store. The cold shaking had started a few hours ago and of course there was my face. The mirror didn’t do me any kindness. My eyes were sunken in and the shades of blue and purple that hung like drape below my eyes looked more like a scene from the Walking Dead than what I remember my face to be. But now, I needed to vomit. 

    I crashed through the first stall behind me, and didn’t come back up from my hands an knees for a few minutes.  I stumbled and dragged myself back to a standing position, and turned the squeaking, rusty faucet. Cold water rushed out and I splashed it across my face and mouth. I looked again in the mirror. I was weak. I could see that ever so clearly. I searched over my face in the mirror looking for my resolve, and that’s when I saw it.

    On the door of the stall, a message written in lipstick was scrawled large and hurried. It was Jane’s shade. It read:

    Pier 57

    It was the best, the only, thing I had. They had to get the material into the states somehow and this made sense. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and dialed up Garrett, the one connection I still had in homeland security. As the phone rang, I sclerotically walked to my car. I searched through my glove box.

    “Hey Danny, haven’t heard from you in months. What’s up?” Garrett sounded like he was shaving a good day. It hurt a little to know that I was about to ruin it.

    I found my gun and checked to see if it was loaded, safety off. 

    “Garrett, there is a dirty bomb at Pier 57. I’m on my way there. They have my wife.”

  12. Eli_13

    ‘Hide n see not for the weak’ was the first thing Amy saw in the picture message. Nora was the second thing. She was bound, gagged and bloody. The message was scrawled on a dirty mirror in garish pink lipstick. Nora’s painfully battered face reflected in that mirror. Amy stared at the picture. Something seemed very familiar about the place Nora was but Amy couldn’t put her finger on it.

    Nora and Amy had been best friend since childhood. They had similar upbringings. Coming from broken homes. Mother’s who partied too much, spent more time looking for a man and not enough time looking after their daughters. But the similarities stopped there. Amy worked hard not to be her mom, was successful and didn’t need anyone. Nora became her mother. She was always in trouble, had no one but Amy so she was the one always bailing Nora out.

    Now she needed Amy – again. Staring at the picture, staring at her tortured best friend, Amy noticed that the door to the room was open. Trees in the background, she was near the woods. That’s when it hit Amy. She was near the woods where they played as children. There was an abandoned rest stop near those woods!

    The rest stop was off of hwy 69. With stun gun in hand and a flash light from the glove compartment Amy made her way to the door facing the woods.

    Pushing open the door Amy shined the light in the restroom.


    A whisper. “Amy. Oh god Amy, I’m here.”

    Amy could hear the fear, the hours of crying in her voice. She rushed toward the last stall.

    “Amy, please help me.” Amy opened the door to see Nora but something was very wrong with what Amy was seeing. She dropped the stun gun and flashlight.

    “Oh my god Nor-.” Amy heard the cracking sound before actually feeling it. Not knowing what happened Amy found herself the one bound, gagged and bloody.

    “I’ve always hated you Amy.” Nora whispered in Amy’s ear in a wickedly sweet voice. “Thinking you’re better than me. Thinking I’m the weak one, always needing to be rescued by you. You come running like a puppy, every time!”

    The glint of steel flashed across Amy’s face then the blood ran red and thick from Amy’s neck.

    Nora kissed Amy on the forehead and walked out of the restroom and into Amy’s car.

    Finding Amy’s cell phone she found the contact labeled ‘work’.

    “Hi Betty, it’s Amy. I won’t be in today; I’m a little under the weather.”

    Looking in the rearview mirror “Try to find me now bitch.”

  13. Ishmael

    ROFL! So Paw Paw is a chubby chaser, huh? That was a funny play on all those military acronyms! Being an ex-military brat myself, I find the details in your stories quite accurate and interesting. You always have a great take on these prompts.

  14. rob akers

    A Captain Bill Rimes Story
    Baghdad April 2003

    Bill commanded the shutdown of all four engines of the mighty C-130 transport aircraft. “Boys, follow me, stay together, get some pictures, see what there is to see and then we will get the hell out of here.”
    Two hours later, following an impromptu tour of the Baghdad International Airport terminal, a photo op in front of a 50 foot tall picture of Saddam Hussein that was adorned with graffiti from the American occupiers, Bill and his crew gathered in front of the nose of the airplane for another picture before departing. The crew chief snapped the button on the disposable Kodak camera as a fleet of HUMVEEs tore across the massive concrete ramp at breakneck speeds.

    One of the unarmored HUMVEEs stopped in front of the crew and the 19 year old Specialist who manned the 50 caliber machine gun ordered the six men to get inside. The crew obeyed as they were ushered to the heavily fortified command post. Once safe they gathered out of the way, as the command post buzzed with activity. Bill got the attention of the Senior Enlisted man who was working a momentarily quiet radio.

    “Who can give me permission to take-off?”

    The Sergeant pointed towards a back room office. “Staff meeting.” Bill excused himself and entered the staff meeting.

    “Captain Rimes, Aircraft Commander of the Herc on your ramp Sir. Requesting permission to get my airplane out of harm’s way.”

    Colonel Michaels returned the salute. “I don’t think that is wise Captain. My men found evidence that your Herc may have been tampered with and we have multiple reports of enemy infiltration here in Camp Victory.”

    “What evidence?”

    “We found seventeen red stickers with black lettering. The letters were PLLF.”

    Before Bill could speak, the Colonel was corrected by a Major. “Sir, it is PPLF.” The Colonel nodded his head. “We don’t know what it means yet, but there was a sticker on the door of your airplane and another on the fire bottle next to the airplane. 15 others across the base and even in the terminal on the other side of the field and on the oversized picture of the local fat action hero better known as Saddam; I have a bomb sweeping team heading to your aircraft now.”

    Bill ran his fingers through his sweat drenched hair. “Sir, I need to talk to my crew.” He went to find the crew and he returned three minutes later announcing to the room. “Sir, I found your insurgent.”

    The seven officers in the room all turned in unison as Bill continued. “This is Tracy Thompson, my Loadmaster. Airman Thompson is the one responsible for shutting down the Camp. A retired Chief Loadmaster earned those initials over his 25 years and my young Loadmaster is continuing the tradition of honoring him with a sticker.”

    The Colonel looked at Bill. “It doesn’t stand for Palestinian People Liberation Faction?”

    Bill shook his head no. Not quite, Sir. “Paw Paw Likes em Fat.”

  15. aikawah


    Another cipher. Somewhere in the city of Nairobi, a prominent public figure was about to die. This gibberish was the name of the victim and the location of the murder scene and the bitch had scrawled it on the bathroom of the fucking Norfolk Hotel, right next to the Central Police Headquarters and even worse, where the cabinet was holding a meeting today. The OCPD had almost shot me when I walked into his office to explain that the meeting had to be stopped. That the country’s most wanted criminal, its first woman to hold that dubious honor, might be in the hotel right now.

    This case had been the worst blow to the image of the Kenya Police since independence. The fact that we could not capture the murderer, six victims later; the fact that the murderer was a woman, one lone woman; the high profile nature of her victims, most of them poisoned in the most ingenious ways, and the fact that her messages had been decoded after a press photo not by one of us, but by a university student. A spoilt brat who admired more than loathed the murderer and made no secret of it and even worse, a brat we were still forced to rely on.

    My walkie crackled to life, “Constable Kimani come in, over!”

    I raised it to my lips, “Progress report?”

    The policeman on the other side continued, “Tumeweka the cabinet ministers kwa honeymoon suite, over.”

    I spoke again, “Mko wangapi hapo? Over.”

    “Tuko four of us, lakini wengine wanaenda kufanya room to room search, over.”

    “Stay there!! I want two inside and two outside! Nobody goes in or comes out without my permission, unasikia!!” I roared.

    “Yes sir!” came the terrified answer.

    I clicked off the walkie and put it back in my pocket. The kid had arrived and was being led to me through the crowd in the adjacent lobby. I could hear him asking for cake as he entered the ladies room. I turned, scowling in disapproval at the hotel waitress who was handing the kid a slice of cake.

    “Hello Julius, sorry to disturb you…” I began.

    “I figured out some things already” interrupted the kid, chewing as he spoke. “Today is the anniversary of Caesar’s murder. Whoever she kills today, she’s going to stab to death.”

    I paused for a moment to write it down, and then I looked up, “Can you make anything of the cipher yet?”
    The kid was staring at the lipstick scrawl in horror.

    “What’s the matter Julius?”

    He threw the slice of cake across the ladies room and began to stick his fingers into his mouth, clawing at his throat, trying to make himself vomit. It took a moment for me to understand, then I jumped over the kid and into the lobby scanning around for the waitress who had brought the cake.

    ‘Caesar’ was the kid’s nickname.


    1. Ishmael

      Loved the use of the foreign language in your work. I don’t know if it was an actual language or not – didn’t matter. You intermingled English exactly when needed in order to let me know enough. I enjoyed this.

        1. aikawah

          That’s Swahili, I live in Kenya and Nairobi residents do mix english with local languages in speech. Its a slang called ‘sheng’. Thank you for the compliments.

          1. Ishmael

            I can never lakini wengine find my “Sheng to English” dictionary when I need it, but I thought it was wanaenda kufanya incredible! Seriously, a nice touch.

  16. Imaginalchemy


    Weeping Screaming Thrashing
    Turn on the sink
    Red Smeared Scribble
    Fragmented Me
    Running Bleeding Aching
    Door opens wide
    Dark devours room
    Only you know.
    Not me
    Fragmented me
    Red Smeared Stain
    Not her
    Not me
    Weeping Screaming Thrashing
    Running Bleeding Aching
    Not me…
    Not mine
    River opens wide
    Dark devours sight

  17. Daisylove13

    I backed away from the mirror. I knew this lipstick all too well, because it was Candy’s. It was her favorite, Lightning Bomb Sparkle. She used it on Friday nights whenever the men from the big corporations came in to see us dance. Candy always used it to get the attention of the guy chaperoning, it was her niche.
    No wonder she hadn’t been in the stupid cage with me. I reached into the waist band of the golden frilly outfit. A five dollar bill, pretty cheap coming from my panties, besides it was Thursday. I wiped away the lipstick unsuccessfully. I knew where she was…
    I stormed out of the club, even though I looked ridiculous, with the tassels hanging from my bra, and the multicolored feathers coming from my behind. I took off my shoes and waved them to the rode, praying I’d get the attention of some sleazy guy…
    To my luck a black van pulled up and the man rolled down the window, he was chubby, and had a gold band shoved around his finger. It was disgusting. I reached to my garter and pulled out my ‘gun’. I kept it there for show but I had shell in my bra, it reminded me of Candy, because she taught me of the tricks.
    “Hey sweetie,” he said but stopped when he saw me holding the gun,“W-where too?”
    “Golden Heights,” I hissed. It sound cruel, but a girl’s got to do what a girls got to do. Candy was my best friend, and I wasn’t having it yet, not now.
    “Miss we’re here…” He mumbled.
    I kicked open the door and turned to thank him, but a wicked grin was on his face. It scared me.
    The door slammed in my face, and he let out a silent laugh. I heard a familiar scream from the van.
    The chubby man in the suit, the slicked back hair. Him tossing aside the band while Candy applied her lipstick.
    The van moved foreword at a rapid rate. I tried to slam the side open, I tried running but I fell. Now on my scuffed knees, tears streaking colorful lines down my cheek I reached out.

    1. Ishmael

      I really liked the stripper concept of yours. The story was told in a matter-of-fact style, sort of the way I envision a street-smart lady of the red-light district to tell it. Loved the lines, “I reached into the waistband of the golden frilly outfit. A five dollar bill, pretty cheap coming from my panties, besides, it was a Thursday.”

      1. Daisylove13

        Thank you much. It would’ve been better, since i had actully been writing a book called ‘Sisters’ about strippers. Yeah, I had one girl go missing and had writers block, so when i saw this I was like, “Finaly!”. It would’ve been longer but you know the 500 thing….But thanks!

    1. rob akers

      As always you prove that you are a master of the written word. I have trouble keeping a story straight for 500 words but you can so effortlessly bring a post back and have it make sense. That is tough and you are a star!

      It is always a pleasure to read your work and something that I look forward too every week.

  18. Icabu

    This story references events in my post for the March 3, 2012 prompt: ‘Best Friends Need Your Help’


    Captain Sandra Walker sat at a corner table in the West View Diner off Route 28 studying the photo on her phone. The waitress poured coffee. Grateful, Sandy sipped the warm brew. She’d stopped here needing to refuel and rethink. Entering the restroom when she’d arrived, a hastily scrawled note on the mirror over the middle sink shocked and sickened her. The killer of her two best friends was playing with her now – and enjoying it. She’d nearly caught him as he stalked another of her friends, but he’d grabbed Gwenlyn as a shield and escaped. She’d been tracking them for two days.

    The note was written in lipstick – Gwen’s flashy red. Not wanting to alarm other customers or employees, she’d photographed the message then cleaned it. It had been dark and the killer, and now kidnapper, wore a concealing hoodie when he’d grabbed Gwen. Sandy couldn’t identify him then, but with this note she was nearly certain she knew now. That made her stomach knot.

    ‘You will never find us. My cover is deeper than you can ever imagine. Diving into the darkest depths of hell won’t help you. When I’m done with your precious Gwen, I’ll spit her out and you can dig another grave.’ The message was personal. It gave her the clues she needed.

    Sandy and her second ex-husband had enjoyed caving for the three months of their marriage. Then a bad side began to surface in Blake Bishop. As a cop, she didn’t have the evidence to put him away, but she had more than enough to know to get away from him.

    It made sense to Sandy now – in a horrifying way. Blake had always been jealous of her friends, evilly so. Now two were dead and she hoped to hell a third wasn’t.

    The waitress returned to refresh Sandy’s coffee.

    “Are there any caves or caverns around here?” Sandy asked in a touristy tone.

    “Well … you’re the second person to ask that today,” the waitress said.

    “Was the other person a man, about six foot, gray eyes, dark hair?”

    “Yeah,” the waitress nodded and smiled. “Those eyes did things to ya.”

    “A friend of mine,” Sandy lied, repressing a shudder. “We’re meeting to go caving.”

    “Well, ya just missed him by, like, only twenty minutes.”

    Sandy stood at the mouth of the old mine shaft that the waitress had innocently told Blake about. The ‘deep, dark, depths, and dig’ from the message had given Blake away. Stepping into the twilight zone, she readied her pistol and crept ahead, praying that Gwen would be alive when she found them and that Blake would give her reason to repay for the friends she’d buried.

  19. Rebecca

    It was written in blood red lipstick, boldly claiming his right to her. The nine words screamed across the bathroom, hitting me square in the chest. Its horrible truth brought me to my knees even as it sucked the breath from my body. “SHE IS MINE! COME GET HER IF YOU DARE!” The challenge in words was evident but to what purpose? As I kneeled there on the floor the seconds streamed by me, endlessly pushing me towards action, relentless in their driving need to get me to do something. Strength from inside pushed me across the apartment and out the door to begin the misguided quest, I knew who wrote the message and I knew that he was challenging me to come and fight. What I didn’t know was if I would win…perhaps this was a game he set up in order to get both of us.

    I entered the warehouse that housed his offices, feeling as if I had stepped into a lion’s den. Surprise would be on my side but would it be enough to secure victory? I felt the hot breath of failure brushing against my back, warning me to not even attempt to go further but the blood red message would not leave my mind’s eye, constantly taunting me, daring me to take another step or turn another corner. He knew I never passed up a dare not even one as scary as this. Even as I acknowledged to myself that he had set up the perfect game with my best friend as bait I felt the thrill of taking the dare, committing myself to the chance.

    Once I found myself in front of the door the strength that had got me to this point seemed to desert me. My knees went weak and my heart dropped to my stomach, fear’s primordial screams ransacked my mind in a lightening blitz of fury and incompetence. He would be stronger, he would be smarter of that I had no doubt yet despite all the reasons fear told me not to I reached out to grab the knob. It was now or never.

    Pushing open the door I rushed in not knowing what I would find or what to expect. Would she be alive? Behind the desk was his empty chair, its profound vacancy filled my mind. Where was he? I surveyed the room, finding nothing of interest. As I stepped back to leave blood red letters on the desk caught my eye. The message was written with the same lipstick as before but the words were what caught and held me still. I knew in that instance I was too late, I had failed and he had won. Even though fear held me still, the blood red words “TURN AROUND” was just enough of a dare to seal my fate. My dying screams fell on the silence within the warehouse and just as death was closing my eyes for the last time I saw her. She was laughing.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Rebecca – Here is a suggestion. The narrator did a lot of describing rather than doing. It’s difficult to build tension in a scene with so little actual action. Your descriptions are great, but in an action scene, you may want to experiment with a lot more doing and less describing. Just my humble opinion.


    2. Rebecca

      Thanks for your comments everyone… for a story of 501 words written in less than ten minutes I think I did well or at least I hope I did 🙂 …Anne I will take your suggestion under advisement for the next prompt…

  20. peetaweet

    The amusement park was muggy and overcrowded. What better way to honor those who died for our freedoms than going to the amusement park and spending half the day waiting in line? On our way to yet another impossible line, I tell Kate that I’ll be right back and head over to the restrooms near the funnel cake stand.

    I arrive at the restrooms, which were surprisingly near empty. I decided on a stall and after stepping in a puddle, complete my business. Finishing up, I situate myself and make my way towards the sink. It was only when I’m at the sink that I notice the message on the mirror freshly written in lipstick.

    Kate will leap with me from the tower of love.

    To anyone else, it may have just appeared to be a silly prank. For me however, it was horrifying. I run out of the restroom looking in all directions for Kate, pushing my way past irritated patrons. She’s gone, but I had a feeling where she was.

    I look up and spot the Eifel tower. The tower is located in the middle of the park, and at although it is only 1/3 the height of the actual tower in France, it’s easy to spot. I begin to run towards it, weaving my way through families and thrill seekers. My mind races as I think about Kate, up there with her ex- boyfriend, whose stability, if ever in question, has proven to be quite shaky. Now the letters and the late night phone calls have proven to be much more serious than suspected. She ended it over two years ago, and has been through hell since.

    At the tower, I rush into the elevator, breaking in line but explaining that it is an emergency situation. The look on my face must convey the message because I am allowed to proceed. As we begin to ascend the tower, children stare at me as I’m breathing heavily and drenched in sweat.

    The door opens and I hop out of the elevator, looking around in all directions before spotting them. I’m about to sprint over and save Kate from falling to her death when they embrace and kiss. I stop in my tracks, confused at this odd sight. My heart sinks as I watch Kate kissing another man. I decide to get some answers and begin walking towards them just as Kate thrusts her knee into his genitals and he collapses to the floor. I run over to make sure he stays down.

    Security arrives and Lance is taking into custody. Inside his backpack was a pistol, a knife, various bottles of prescription pills and of course, red lipstick. After authorities have a few words with Kate we are allowed to leave. A crowd has formed around the tower as news of the madman has spread throughout the park. On the way down I put my arm around her and ask if she’s okay.

    “I’m fine, do you have any gum?”

    1. Ishmael

      Deja Vu! This was great the first time I read it, but I see what you did…breaking up the paragraphs made it easier to read. Thanks. Good story.

    2. annefreemanimages

      Good story. A few suggestions: Words like genitals are too formal for someone who is in a panic. The comment in the bathroom about a prank: again, this is a person who is starting to panic – he wouldn’t be having that type of internal conversation with himself. Similarly, including facts like the tower being 1/3 the size of the real tower and it being easy to spot. Not needed. You just have to have your narrator scan the horizon for the highest ride. You get the idea. Have him “do” rather than explain what he is going to do. Just my suggestion on how to increase the tension and the speed of the story. otherwise, good story and idea.



  21. Amy

    The lipstick was Tutti-Frutti pink, Yaz’s favorite shade. For some reason, it really pissed me off the creep had used it in this way. The message had been scrawled with a heavy hand; chunks of the expensive balm hung from the mirror like bad punctuation, emphasizing the twisted mind of the author.
    ‘Touching land but crossing the sea,
    Spanning the decades,
    It’s where we’ll be.’
    As if the lipstick weren’t confirmation enough, now I was positive he had her and he couldn’t be too far away.
    He must be watching me. I backed up and sat down hard on the toilet, bruising my legs.
    The guy in the hoodie in the food court; I’d just been passing through when he’d bumped into me, dumping the scalding contents of his venti latte down my front, soaking me. Knowing I’d go into the bathroom to clean up, he was leading me on.
    I re-read the message. A bridge! The one that spanned the Mississippi was close by. Why had he gone there?
    My sodden attire would be a hindrance in my race with death. I pulled off the ruined blouse, kicked off my stilettos and peeled off my stockings. Leaving my things on the floor, I left the restroom wearing my soiled camisole and ruined skirt, drawing stares from passersby.
    I ran up the River Walk, leaving the safety of the crowd and lights behind. Damp mist rolled in from the river, enshrouding the bridge. I felt exposed as I approached.
    They were there, on the catwalk following the outer edge of the bridge. Damn my fear of heights. This creep must know me well indeed. Hurrying up the incline, I heard a scream.
    “I knew you wouldn’t let me down!” A familiar, raspy voice shouted. “You couldn’t leave things well enough alone, you interfering bitch!”
    “Let Yaz go. This isn’t her fault,” I shouted, my voice surprisingly steady.
    “You women are all alike. You suck a man dry and then dump him for a fatter wallet.”
    Realization struck. This wasn’t the first time my soon-to-be-ex-husband had tried to eliminate what he thought of as the competition. Anyone who captured my attention for a nanosecond was on his hit list. My parents’ automobile accident, my brother’s suicide, the abortion of our unborn child. All were engineered by him. Hatred coursed through my veins. I reached into my pocket and felt the reassuring steel of the gun.
    Closing the gap between us, I tried to ignore the dizzying height.
    “Say goodbye to your BFF!” Percy taunted, holding a beaten and bloody Yaz like a shield.
    But Yaz wasn’t through yet. She moved her head enough to sink her teeth into the hand holding her jaw. Percy pulled away and gave me the opening I needed.
    Pulling out my gun, I fired, weeks of target practice paying off with a kill shot. He spun with the impact and plunged into the river below, leaving a trembling Yaz on the precipice. I rushed to comfort her, feeling relief instead of remorse.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Nice job, Amy! Some good scenes and descriptions. You got a lot of backstory in quickly. My only comment is in the beginning. “The lipstick was Tutti-Frutti pink, Yaz’s favorite shade. For some reason, it really pissed me off the creep had used it in this way.” You pulled your punch with saying “For some reason.” It DOES piss her off. Just jump in with “It really pissed me off …” No punches pulled in a thriller. I like that Yaz wasn’t passive. Good ending scene. Not sure why she would feel remorse or have to justify her feeling of relief at killing a killer. Like at the beginning, don’t pull the punch. She felt relief. Nice job – really like the fog rolling scene.


  22. peetaweet

    The amusement park is muggy and overcrowded. What better way to honor those who died for our freedoms than going to the amusement park and spending half the day waiting in line? On our way to yet another impossible line, I tell Kate that I’ll be right back and head over to the restrooms near the funnel cake stand.
    I arrive at the restrooms, which are surprisingly near empty. I decide on a stall and after stepping in a puddle, complete my business. Finishing up, I situate myself and make my way towards the sink. It’s only when I’m at the sink that I notice the message on the mirror freshly written in lipstick.
    Kate will leap with me from the tower of love.
    To anyone else, it may have just appeared to be a silly prank. For me however, it was horrifying. I run out of the restroom looking in all directions for Kate, pushing my way past irritated patrons. She’s gone, but I have feeling where she is.
    I look up and spot the Eifel tower. The tower is located in the middle of the park, and at although it is only 1/3 the height of the actual tower in France, it’s easy to spot. I begin to run towards it, weaving my way through families and thrill seekers. My mind races as I think about Kate, up there with her ex- boyfriend, whose stability, if ever in question, has proven to be quite shaky. Now the letters and the late night phone calls have proven to be much more serious than suspected. She ended it over two years ago, and has been through hell since.
    At the tower, I rush into the elevator, breaking in line but explaining that it is an emergency situation. The look on my face must convey the message because I am allowed to proceed. As we begin to ascend the tower, children stare at me as I’m breathing heavily and drenched in sweat.
    The door opens and I hop out like a mad man, looking around in all directions before spotting them. I’m about to sprint over and save Kate from falling to her death when they embrace and kiss. I stop in my tracks, confused at this odd sight. My heart sinks as I watch Kate kissing another man. I decide to get some answers and begin walking towards them just as Kate thrusts her knee into his genitals and he collapses to the floor. I run over to make sure he stays down.
    Security arrives and Lance is taking into custody. Inside his backpack was a pistol, a knife, various bottles of prescription pills and of course, red lipstick. After authorities have a few words with Kate we are allowed to leave. A crowd has formed around the tower as news of the madman has spread throughout the park. On the way down I put my arm around her and ask if she’s okay.
    “I’m fine, do you have any gum?”

  23. danmcgrath

    “Stay Fresh and Clean,” I read.

    “Is that for you,” my partner asked.

    “I think so, you hear anyone come or go?” I asked.

    “No, “ my partner responded as he took a picture of the writing with his cell phone.

    “Right, you stay here, wait in case someone comes back, I’m going to go fetch the car and circle the block,” I ordered.

    “Ok, be careful man,” he said as he began to search for a weapon of some sort.

    “I will,” I said as I eased my way out of the bathroom. My job, building inspector, wasn’t easy in the best of times. Crawling around old and new buildings looking for problems had bought me trouble in the past. Over the last two weeks nearly half my fellow building inspectors had dissappeared or been brutally murdered. “Has it finally happened?”

    No answer replied as I went down the stairs and into the lobby of the new Panasoma Towers in Chicago. So new, piles of wood and wire littered the lobby. My memory told me the lobby bathrooms were called the “Freshing” rooms for some strange reason. As I approached the doors, I realized one was empty and one wasn’t.

    “Hello Daniel,” the killer said as he motioned me into the bathroom.

    “Hello, I’m here,” I replied.

    “Your friend, tied up in the last stall, per agreement,” the killer replied.

    “Thank you.”

    “Will you require me to do anything else?” he asked.

    “Yes, upstairs on the 4th floor, my coworker is waiting for me. Kill him,” I replied.

    The killer left the bathroom without another word and I went to the fateful stall door and opened it to find my so called best friend tied to the toilet. He looked up at me as his eyes bulged in relief as he must have thought he was going to be saved. I bent over and looked into his eyes carefully before saying, “This is going to hurt a lot.”

    He screamed with his eyes as I drew out my knife and set to work. Piece by piece I cut away from him like a picky little boy of some sorts picking away at his chicken on his dinner plate. I finally looked down and said, “I bet you are asking yourself why this is happening. It’s simple, I just had my coworkers slaughtered, I’m bound to be promoted. I am going to kill you and take your wife and daughter as mine as well. I want a new job and a family to go with it. Sorry, but can’t make it look quick or clean. That would be out of character. Don’t worry, I’ll be at your wife’s house soon, someone has to comfort the widow and all.”

    1. Ishmael

      Nice twist, hiring the killer and controlling him instead of him controlling you. There were a couple of stumbling blocks while I was reading, but nothing so severe that I didn’t understand exactly where you were going.

      1. jincomt

        Good story and creepy — not a good guy. I actually had that “ick ” feeling when I realized the direction you were taking. If you remove some of the “I said ” and “I replieds ” it would move more natually, I think. Your writing is clear enough that the reader knows who’s speaking.

        I left a note about my mistakes after my post as well. As Ishmael reminded me, eh, don’t bother, they’re not distracting.

      2. danmcgrath

        Yeah, I was painfully tired last night when I posted it. Should have waited till this morning to run through it again. The story works at least even with me being in a semi-coma.

  24. Jeanie Y

    I had to reach out and touch it to make sure it was real and not a “bennie-induced-production” brought to you by the local shrink assigned to my case. Yeah, the message in the mirror was real enough, but “what the hell?” When was this going to end? Did I really think that I would find any place that was safe?

    It was the first time in months that I had summoned up enough courage to venture out of the house. Being a rookie cop was hard enough, but being a rookie cop whose partner disappeared on a routine traffic stop the first week of work, well, like I am fond of saying, “what the hell?” Now, when I say “disappeared,” I mean “Poof!” “gone” “into thin air” kinda-disappeared. They say I blacked out, low glucose, or something like that, but that’s not entirely true. I know better now.

    Thelma and Louise. It was inevitable. Did you think that all that testosterone in the department could resist that moniker? Well, being the only two women in the police department, added to the fact that these guys had maybe one ounce of originality amongst them, I guess I should have seen it coming. But, that was harmless enough. What wasn’t harmless was the messages, and how they worked on me. Oh yes, they did their job well.

    The first message was delivered on my first night of work, on the favorite canvas of choice, the bathroom mirror. All it said was “You,” and of course was done in magenta lipstick; as all the messages were, which used to be my favorite crayon-color in the whole 64-count box. “You” didn’t put too much fear factor into me until it was paired with “will,” “die” and “bitch” the following nights. At that point, have to say, I was a little rattled. But the big, tough rookie-cop in me reasoned I was being hazed, new kid and all. Swallow that inner-chicken, woman-and move on! Well, move on I did, until the next night; the night of the disappearing partner.

    Jessica usually drove, but that night she wasn’t feeling up to it. The previous girl’s night vodka-fest was to blame for that. The Buick we pulled over didn’t have any plates and it was Jess’s job to handle the call since she was riding shotgun. Last thing I remember was the surprised look on her face when I swatted my neck, goddamn bee. “Johnny is not going to like the looks of me with a big old welt on my neck”, my last thought before the black hole swallowed me up. When I awoke, both Buick and Jessica were gone.

    Johnny and I broke it off soon after, too much pressure dating one of your fellow cops anyhow. Besides, Jessica always kept telling me how wrong it was since he was married. Now that I think on it, the group picture on Johnny’s desk…Jessica, her boyfriend, Johnny’s wife…her bright magenta lipstick color…

    1. Ishmael

      I really liked this, Jeanie…just now stumbling across it in my random reading. Nice command of the written word. The first line was a good grabber, with great descriptions. My only trouble was with the quotes. Not the mirror messages or dialogue ones, but the others. I didn’t think they were needed. It made me feel like I was listening to one of those obnoxious people who always raise their rabbit-eared fingers to quote things they’re saying. Unless, of course, that’s what you were trying to accomplish – but I didn’t see that fitting in with your character’s behavior.

      Excellent read, though! Seriously!

      1. Jeanie Y

        Thank you Ishmael and Anne. I appreciate your feedback! No, I wasn’t going for the obnoxious character and didn’t realize that was how it read. I will take the advisement…thanks!

    2. annefreemanimages

      Jeanie – very nicely done! I enjoyed the story, and was interested in what happened. Loved the ending – how she suddenly recalls the photo. Really good! I like how she attributed the problem to hazing, and then a dawning realization that something worse was going on. Good pace, too. Good work! I agree with Ishmael – the quote marks can be distracting other than when you were highlighting the words on the mirror.


  25. sprattcm

    “Three snowboarders strayed out of bounds at a ski resort in Oregon in the past two months. They all died of exposure. A fourth is missing and presumed dead – I’m telling you it’s Yuki!” Sharon stabbed her finger emphatically on the wall map. A multicolored array of pins stretched from the tip of South America to northern reaches of Alaska, including one lonely pin in Cheboygan.

    Lori studied the map, searching for patterns, trying to see it with fresh eyes. The small cluster of pins in eastern Oregon did seem compelling, but no more so than half a dozen other similar clusters scattered across the western hemisphere. She silently cursed Melinda for her impetuosity.

    “Melly should never have gone after Yuki alone.” Lori reached for her cold cup of coffee and absently backhanded it, knocking it over.

    “Oh hell!” Lori exclaimed in dismay as the collection of newspaper clippings spread out on the desk quickly wicked the coffee from one end to the other.

    “I’ll grab a towel,” Sharon said as she dashed into the bathroom.

    Lori slid the few clippings that were still dry away from the danger zone and tried to salvage a few that weren’t too wet.

    “Lori come here – hurry!”

    She burst into the bathroom to see Sharon pointing at the mirror with a shaking finger. At first nothing seemed unusual, but as she watched it seemed to shimmer. Numbers began to appear in a hastily scrawled script that Lori knew well, but they seemed backward. She snatched a makeup compact from the counter and turned her back to the mirror.

    “Sharon, write this down: 45.34454, -121.7095”

    “Those are coordinates!” Sharon ran back to the map and searched the fine lines that indicated latitude, “Forty five, forty five…that’s North America. I told you it was Mount Hood!”

    Melinda knelt by the stream and searched for that calm that would help her with what should have been a simple spell. She’d fumbled through her purse looking for the tube of Sharon’s lipstick that she’d swiped on her way out of the apartment. After a deep breath, she leaned down until she was nearly touching the water. She whispered a few words to the stream that hadn’t been uttered in over a century. Almost imperceptibly, the water seemed to slow. Then quite suddenly there was utter silence as the flowing water simply stopped.

    Using the lipstick, she scribbled a series of numbers on the surface of the water. A slice of eternity seemed to pass before the stream sluggishly began flowing again. The slowly building current began to carry away the numbers before Melinda realized how much trouble she was in.

    Even though Melinda had released her spell, the stream stopped moving again. The crystal clear water turned a cloudy white as a draft of breathtakingly cold air washed down the gully. A small series of staccato booms sent jagged cracks racing through the ice as sudden expansion from the freeze heaved the streambed upward.

    “Too close! I’m not ready yet and she’s too close!”

    1. sprattcm

      I hope it’s not poor form to do so, but to place this in context, may I refer you to my post in a previous prompt? This is something of a continuation from “Best Friends Need Your Help”. Even now, this seems like a clunky bad idea, so I shan’t do it again.

      1. Ishmael

        Thanks for clearing that up; I did get a little confused. It felt a bit like I walked into the middle of something, then right back out again. I’ll have to look at the other story another time.

    2. annefreemanimages

      Thanks for letting us know. I really enjoyed this, anyway. The writing was clean and crisp. Nice little details to make it real, especially the banter between the two women in the beginning scene. Melinda’s scene was interesting, too. Loved how you described the “Back end of the spell” that the women saw on the mirror. I would like to read more of this story. Do you have a blog/website where you are posting this?


      1. sprattcm

        Thank you for the feedback, Anne. I’ll be honest – I hadn’t intended to call back to the previous story, and I’ve never suffered from the notion that anybody would want to look up my work. I appreciate the encouragement…I’ll have to ruminate and see where this story goes (including where the extended version gets posted).

        1. Ishmael

          The way you describe things is excellent, though! I couldn’t find the other story, but I really did like the backwards mirror, too. I just wasn’t able to figure out how she got there or why the stream hardened again. My understanding is that the staccato booms are her friends trying to break through from the other side, but I’m really having to reach for that. I know – that pesky word limit!! I would love to be able to put the two stories together!

          1. sprattcm

            Very useful feedback, Ishmael, thank you. The stream stopped the first time because Melinda stopped time for it so she could write her message. When she released her spell, it started flowing again, but then the approach of Yuki-Onna caused it to freeze, as in turn to ice. The difference between freezing time and freezing ice was difficult to convey economically 😉 That leads to the booms: they were supposed to represent the sound of the bedrock cracking because of the incredibly rapid freeze.

            Here is the link for the other segment, Best Friends – You can search for sprattcm on that page and it’ll take you to it.

            Again, thank you for the feedback and the fortitude to read through something so frustratingly poorly represented 😉

  26. DMelde

    Written on the cracked bathroom mirror beneath the Iberian Gate was a jagged message in cinnamon red lipstick. The public restroom was empty and rarely used, except during the large military parades that took place in Red Square. James recognized the cinnamon red as Svetlana’s, who wore it only when she was off-duty. It was a message meant for him, and it read like a riddle—“When it’s halfway up, she’ll be fully dead.”
    James knew that Svetlana was at Kubinka, to the northwest of the city. A public test of the Oblast Torch engine was scheduled for that afternoon inside of the air base. The Torch was a new payload rocket that flew halfway up into low Earth orbit. “That must be what the riddle means.”James thought, “If Svetlana is there when the Torch is tested, she’ll roast in agony before being mercifully killed.”
    He saw General Domashev’s ruthless hand in all of this. Domashev had lusted for the beautiful Svetlana for a long time, and she had rejected him. Domashev wanted revenge, but she was from a powerful family, and hence, she was untouchable.
    The week before, James and Svetlana met and became lovers. This is what pushed Domashev over the edge, into madness to seek his revenge. Svetlana hadn’t cared that James was a foreigner, and the attraction between them was instantaneous.
    “Nyet, James,” Svetlana had scolded him, “gin is toilet water. Vodd-ka is the only drink for making martinis.” She added ice and vermouth. “Then you shake it.” and Svetlana shook suggestively too, much to the delight of James. That was last week, before she was taken.
    Getting on base was easy for James. A stolen uniform and perfect timing at the checkpoint, and he was in. On the way from Red Square to Kubinka, James had imaged the air base using Google Earth to plan his assault. He approached the launch pad through a small service corridor. The rocket was ringed by four tall metal cylinders containing water to cool down the heat of the rocket upon blast-off. Something else was there too, a small, metal, trunk-size container. “Odd that I didn’t notice it on the map,” James thought. He cautiously moved to the container and broke open the lock. Inside was Svetlana. They moved off to the side and disappeared down the corridor.
    General Domashev felt a great deal of satisfaction as he watched the launch. True, he had her family to deal with, but that would be later. Right now he intended to enjoy his revenge.
    James and Svetlana found getting off base was much easier than getting on. James turned to Svetlana and said, “Call your father, have his men come for you.”
    “What are you going to do James?” Svetlana asked, with tears forming in her eyes. Somehow, she knew she would never see him again.
    James checked his Walther PPK and saw it was fully loaded.
    “I have a date with the General, and I don’t intend to be late.”

    1. Ishmael

      I try to come in and randomly pick stories that I haven’t had the pleasure to read through yet, hoping to get to them all. Glad I jumped into this one today. Very well written, concise, and interesting story. I loved the name choices, too…gave it that air of authenticity.

    2. annefreemanimages

      Hi DMelde – This story would benefit from expansion. I felt, when I was reading it, that it was compressed, like a jack-in-the-box, straining to burst out and fill the space. It was almost too big – no space to include a few details that would bring the scene to life.

      Example – when he finds Svetlana – there is no time to veiw how he opened the box, how he got her out, what condition she was in. Did the kiss? Etc. That could have been a 500 word scene in an of itself.

      I would suggest for these exercises that you pick one part of this story, such as when he finds and releases her, to focus on. Then you can charge up the story with the emotions and details it needs to really shine in such a small format. Just my humble thoughts. Nice work!


  27. Justine_Lois

    Before the dessert menu could be thoroughly looked over, I excused myself from the table to find the restroom. I used the first stall that housed toilet paper. The hair at the nape of my neck stood up, but for only a moment.

    I turned the faucet and rusty brown water sputtered from the spout before running clear. It wasn’t until I looked up in search of towels did I see it. Deep ruby lipstick, the color of ripened cherries was scrawled across the mirror. “He will never be yours. NEVER!” No one had come in or out. I was alone.

    I steadied my hands, for they had started to shake. I made my way back to my table. Brian was gone. His chair was pushed under the table, as if he were never there. I rushed out to the valet, “He’s already left ma’am. He had some guy with him, said there was an emergency at the hospital.” A silver sedan pulls up and he gets back to work.

    Brian isn’t a doctor.

    He’s a veterinarian.

    I start walking, hoping for a bus stop close by. I check that I have some cash on me and cross at the corner of Main and Dunlop. I anxiously wait for the slow rumble of a bus engine, the hiss of air as the driver applies the break. I put my $1.10 in the cash box and take the nearest seat. I don’t hear anything, I don’t see anyone. It’s all a blur as the blood rushes in my ears and my heart pounds violently against my chest. I found myself hunched over, breathing heaving, swallowing to keep the bile at bay. I had no control. Whoever took Brian had it all and I was at his mercy.

    The bus came to a slow halt and I exited quickly, pushing my way through the other patrons more patient than I. I walked a few blocks south and came upon a familiar car, Brian’s. The windows were down and considering the clear night, it wasn’t all that unusual. However, the potent smell of gasoline, anywhere near the car was suspect enough.

    The lights were off, the clinic was quiet. A few of the overnight patients lay asleep in their kennels; unaware and unassuming.

    I swiftly made my way to the back room. Brian was on his back, a concoction of some kind dripping from an IV. Beads of sweat pooled on his forehead. He was sedated and luckily still breathing. “He won’t stay like that for long.” A voice hissed from behind me. I jumped out of reflex and fear. The man’s body pushed up against mine and everything inside me stiffened. Fight or flight! My hands turned to fists.

    He came around to face me and pulled off the ski mask, blonde hair tumbled over her shoulders. “I told you, he will never be yours.” And then she lunged toward me.

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Justine. I enjoyed the story, especially when I got to the last three paragraphs. I really liked the scene of him laying on the what I assume was a table.

      I find it difficult to write in present perfect. “I run” is not nearly as powerful to me as “I ran”, for example. I find it hard to get engaged in present tense. No umph behind it. But that’s just me. The tense changed when the bus came to a halt. It is easier to write with tension in past tense, and you may have changed without realizing it.

      One last comment on structure: the scene in the bathroom: her hair standing up was cool, but then suddenly she was at the sink. There was no reaction: she didn’t wonder what made her feel that way. You might want to tinker with the opening a bit. It was good and could be even better.

      All of these comments can be ignored, of course. Just my humble thoughts.


    2. Ishmael

      GOOD story that left me wondering, “Who is she?” (Or he? I guess that’s a typo at the start of the last paragraph). You definitely ended at a spot that makes me want more! Yeah, the mixing of tenses was a little problematic, and I would’ve combined a few of the shorter sentences. And it’s hard, but show your story – not tell (at least most of the time). For instance, these sentences: “I steadied my hands, for they had started to shake. I made my way back to my table. Brian was gone.” Sorta lays there, yeah? But something more like, “My trembling hands were so unsteady, I could barely open the door and, stumbling past the sea of tables, I made it to our empty two-top. Brian was gone.” Paints a fuller picture, don’t you think? But I thoroughly enjoyed this and look forward to more from you.

  28. Ishmael

    HIGH NOON-ish

    When I ducked into the hallway, the big, black hand on the white-faced clock ticked a tock and came to rest on the nine; the little hand pointed to the twelve. It was 11:45.

    Only fifteen minutes left to rescue Emma from the kidnapper.

    Only fifteen minutes until he planned to kill her.

    Only fifteen minutes until noon…High Noon.

    But this was no little boy’s game of cowboy gunslingers. I was a cop. He was the kidnapper. And Emma…Emma was my girlfriend.

    The sound of approaching footsteps and hushed whispers around the corner told me I was not alone. Had he sent thugs? This building was supposed to be empty, but as the ominous click-clacks of heavy-heeled shoes drew closer—and two shadows loomed larger—I stealthily slipped into the nearest unlocked room.

    It was a bathroom—the girl’s bathroom, no less.

    Crouching when I entered, I didn’t see the sign on the door, but there were no urinals and it smelled like Hello Kitty just squatted in the corner. The footsteps passed, and breathing a sigh of relief, I started to head out when a flash of red caught my eye.

    Actually, it was Bubblegum Pink, the shade Emma preferred on her cupid-bow lips, and it spelled out the message, “Some Pig.”

    Any other cop would think that the kidnapper was taunting him, laughing at his inadequacy; however, I knew that this message was not from him, but from her.

    Emma must have convinced him to let her go to the bathroom, and when safely alone, hastily scribbled on the mirror, hoping against all hope that this cryptic code would find me. It was pure luck—some may even say destiny—that I happened in here and discovered it, because now I knew exactly where she was.

    Cracking the door ajar, I scouted both ways and proceeded to the room where that villain held my heart ransom. The big hand was now on the eleven, allowing a mere five minutes to save her, but I made it there before my next exhale.

    Ever so slowly, I crept to White’s Aisle; the location Emma’s note directed me. The sound of stifled breathing assured me this was the spot, and I drew the gun from my waistband, readying myself for the final showdown.

    “Drop it!” I commanded, rounding the barricade and aiming squarely between his eyes. He pulled Emma close to him, his own gun positioned point-blank on her right temple.

    The bells of St. Ignatius pealed across the street, alerting all to the midday hour.

    “It’s High Noon! You lose, Sucker!” He squeezed his trigger and scarlet life poured down Emma’s cheek.

    “Nooooooo!” I cried, emptying my chamber.

    Emma and the kidnapper collapsed to the ground…giggling. “That was much funner than regular hide and seek!” she squealed.

    Charlie and I agreed. But for now recess was over, and with our Kool-Aid water pistols safely stashed, we skipped out of the library and joined the rest of our third-grade classmates.

    1. jincomt

      Totally not what I expected, which of course, is what makes it. I reread the first line three times–I liked how it sounded so much. A couple lines made me laugh out loud (truly LOL) . The Hello Kitty line was great. And, of course, the twist at the end was very unexpected, kind -of warped! The only part that confused me was that I didn’t get the connection of the message on the mirror and the location. Maybe I just missed it. Great, as always.

      1. Ishmael

        Yeah, I had to leave that part up to the reader (the message/location connection)…I wanted to clarify it a little better, but couldn’t with the word limitation (Arg!), and believe me, I tried. It’s a stretch, but here was my logic: “Some Pig” is a quote from “Charlotte’s Web,” which is a favorite book of most elementary children. E.B. White is the author. Thus, “White’s Aisle” (the location in the library where she and the book are). I didn’t want to disclose the fact that they were in a school. And it was a kind of warped ending, wasn’t it? A little creepy, so I tried to make sure they ALL left the library gleefully, to indicate that this was just a little game kids play. Things are different from when I was a kid, though. Kids have gotten a little more dangerous. Thanks, ALWAYS, for your feedback!

          1. Ishmael

            Like I said, it was a bit of a stretch. Words, words, words…like a junkie, I needed more! But there’s an art in saying much with little. I just need to become a better painter.

      1. rob akers

        I like what you are doing. Great twist and spins everywhere. Great tension and well written.

        I especially liked this: “The sound of approaching footsteps and hushed whispers around the corner told me I was not alone. Had he sent thugs? This building was supposed to be empty, but as the ominous click-clacks of heavy-heeled shoes drew closer—and two shadows loomed larger—I stealthily slipped into the nearest unlocked room.”

        I felt like I was right there on the search for Emma and I loved it.

        I have never read Charlotte’s Web so the pig thing didnt work for me. When I was Cequendly’s age I was more into skipping school than reading the classics. But this is all about you and you did a great job!

        1. Ishmael

          Thanks you guys. I tried to style the wording as if coming from the POV of a kid – “big hand, little hand of the clock,” “no little boy’s game,” (they’re 3rd graders now!), but not be obvious about it to let the reveal make the reader say, “Oh, I see it now,” and possibly feel compelled to read it again.

    2. metaman321

      Very enjoyable. Just when I expected to be grossed out you twisted it and made me smile. I read it two (or three) times just to appreciate all the clues.

    3. Icabu

      Fun read! Great story.
      ‘Bubblegum Pink’ and ‘Hello Kitty’ references had me thinking Emma was a kid, then it turned out ALL of them were – great twist and a happy ending.

    4. annefreemanimages

      Ishmael – My earlier comment doesn’t appear to have made it, so here I go again. Terrific story. Absolutely loved it! I was totally convinced they were adults until the very end. Then the reference at the beginning about cowboys made me laugh. Great opening scene. the action was great, and the descriptions a delight. Just loved the last scene where the kids collapsed to the ground … giggling. Couldn’t have been a better transition. Love to read your writing.


      1. Ishmael

        * Blush * Thanks. All of you. 🙂 And thanks for taking the time to re-post, Anne. Some folks wouldn’t worry about it. Quite thoughtful!


    I noticed paper stuck to my right shoe. I tried to remove it using my left foot but I had no luck. If I had used the bathroom before I left home I wouldn’t be standing here waiting to get to use a basin. I removed the paper turned around stood up and the following was sprawled on the bathroom’s mirror.
    “Cardell is gone don’t be blue he’s with the others far away from you.”
    I hadn’t seen Cardell in three years when Tony Hump asked me about him at Michael’s funeral. I looked around and nobody was there. I washed my hands grabbed my cell and called John but got no answer. I called Thomas’s mom and she said he was at Phillip’s funeral. I forgot his funeral was today. Oh my God, my friends are dropping like flies. Who could be so cruel to do this? I Googled Cardell’s name and got a hit. The link led to a specialist named Dr. Chen at Rush Memorial in Washington DC. I called the number and got an answering service.

    “Hello! This is an emergency. I have to talk to Dr. Chen NOW!”

    The Indian lady put me on hold. Piped organ music broke my concentration. I yanked the bathroom door open only to find a brownish black canine mutt staring at me. It was three feet tall cloudy eyes with mangy fur and smelled like fresh cut roses.

    “Please continue to hold for Dr. Chen.”

    The dog started barking nonstop and ran in a circle. Eventually, it wobbled threw up and fell over on its side. The lifeless eyes were still open as bloody foam drooled from its mouth. I slammed the door shut praying that whatever got the dog wouldn’t get me.

    “Yes Dr. Chen?”
    “No .Are you holding for Dr. Chen?”
    “Please hold.”

    I flipped back to the website and discovered it was a death index and that Cardell died last year in November two thousand eight. Dr. Chen was a special coroner.

    I closed the cell phone and found my seat again. The room was fuller than it was when I left. A short stout balding man approached the podium. He pulled papers from his inside jacket pocket unfolded them and put glasses on to read.

    “There is a southern myth that says “When a dog barks at your door someone just died.” Today dogs are barking at doors everywhere. Tony Hump the deceased has a special message from Cardell he wanted me to read. Friends if this note is being read, I too have left for a better place. Don’t cry for me because now I’m free. Look for me in a smile, in a tear or in your reflection in the mirror. One day we will see each other again. There is a cure for AIDS out there and Dr. Chen is leading the way. I love you all. Cardell.

    1. Ishmael

      Interesting! Sometimes the punctuation needed a little help (commas), making it difficult to read, but you have a unique style about you.

      1. MCKEVIN

        If I said it was intentional I would be lying but I am glad you stuck it through. I must have wrote something that held your interest and maybe just maybe, I got that part right. Thanks for your comments and Stay tuned.

    2. annefreemanimages

      McKevin – an interesting take on the prompt. I like the last scene a lot. It was touching. I got a little lost when the narrator stopped being in the bathroom and was suddening in a seat. I didn’t catch what that place was and why he was there. A little more info would have helped there.

      A tale with eeriness. Nice job.


      1. MCKEVIN

        I wrote this on a whim and jotted the ideas down as they came into my head. The extended version explains “Tracy” (the narrator) leaving a restroom at a funeral home and returning to the funeral to hear “Dr. Chen” speak.

        Thank you for your comments and sticking with the whole story. Stay tuned.

      1. MCKEVIN

        Thanks for the encouragement and I promise easier flows on all future submissions. This isn’t easy but I love the pains of doing what I love. Stay tuned.

  30. metaman321

    A stiff cross wind buffeted the single engine plane as it landed on the grass airstrip behind the hanger. The late afternoon sky threatened rain as ominous dark clouds rode on the wind. The flight from Davenport had been rough. John had a tension headache and an upset stomach. He hated flying, but as President, and owner, of a small chemical company, he found it cost effective and hassle free.

    The pilot deplaned and immediately began his post flight routine.

    John said to him, “I’ve got to stop in the office for a minute, see you tomorrow.”

    “Good night, boss,” the pilot grumbled.

    The company airstrip and hanger were across a narrow country road from the office and plant. There were only two cars in the parking lot, the pilot’s old Chevy and John’s Lincoln. The company was a one shift operation and the other employees had gone home for the day.

    John unlocked the front door to the office and immediately headed for the unisex restroom in the lobby. His stomach was tied in knots and his headache was getting worse. He hurried into a stall and, after losing his lunch, sat down, closed his eyes and tried to relax.

    Later, when he left the stall, he saw the writing, in hot pink lipstick, on the mirror.

    It read;
    I’ve got Eve in the boathouse. Come quick. I’m losing it. Again.

    It wasn’t signed.

    John bolted to the parking lot. The lot was empty except for the Lincoln. Night had fallen and the rain had stopped. He started the car and sped down the country lane toward home and the boathouse.

    He thought of his first wife, Jane. She had been found eight years ago, bound and gagged in their small apartment in Des Moines. The coroner said she had been dead for about two days.

    John, returning from a business trip, had found her. The only clue was a note, scrawled in hot pink lipstick, on a vanity mirror.

    It read;
    You made me do this.

    It hadn’t been signed either.

    Afterwards, he had thrown himself into his work, believing it to be the best therapy. For seven years his life had been devoted to his company.

    Then he had met and married Eve.

    He reached his estate and raced down the long drive toward the back of the property and the lake. A single light in the fixture above the door to the boathouse guided John along the dark, winding road.

    The car slid to a stop. John jumped out and ran to the boathouse door.

    “Eve, Eve,” he yelled through the door while fumbling for the key on his key ring, “are you all right?”

    A muffled sound came from inside the boathouse, a sound of terror and panic.

    Finding the right key at last, John jammed it into the keyhole with one hand and reached for the doorknob with the other.

    That’s when he noticed the hot pink smudges on his hands.

    1. Ishmael

      Nice. Very, very nice. I especially loved the ending, but it read well the whole way through, keeping me hanging from sentence to sentence.

    2. annefreemanimages

      Loved the story. Tight writing. You got a lot of info in without a lot of hoopla. I didn’t get the connection of the smudges on his hands making him the murderer until I read the other comments. But I can be dense sometimes. i guess if there had been some mention of him forgetting parts of his life – some forshadowing that would have prepared me to make the connection, that would have helped. but, I may just be a little slow on the uptake. Nice job!


  31. penney

    Wearing glasses like the bottom of soda bottles, Jen made sure she carried an extra pair of lenses. What she didn’t let on about was her phobia of the dark. That called for a little bigger fire power, a huge flashlight that weighted down the tote she always carried. Tonight though, her best friend convinced her to leave it in the hotel for their girl’s night out.

    Bonnie and Jen had taken off to Paris on a whim. The last time Jen had been here alone on 9/11, blissfully unaware the world was falling apart around her as she trotted around the sights as if on a scavengers hunt with a deadline. It wasn’t until she was back on the train that night that she found out. This time she was determined to do Paris right, with a friend.

    The itinerary scheduled a free night and the girls were off to find a tre chic underground café. They were clad in their black on black, Jen with her little beret. As they made their way down the steps below the streets of Paris they followed the sounds through the brick walled bar, the smoky haze stinging their eyes. Some guy lead them to a little nook and set two glasses and bottle of something on the table. It was so dark; they had to lean in to see each other. The jazz slithered through the air, someone’s fingers snapping in rhythm.

    Jen leaned in, “I’ve got to pee.”

    Bonnie pointed at the beacon of light in a crack in the wall. They giggled at their impetuousness. Jen headed for Madame’s.

    As she stood squatted over a porcelain black hole, she couldn’t help but to light the Bic she slide into her bra for support in her darkest hour of need. She ran her hand along the wall to see what kind of graffiti might be in a place like this. As the light trailed along, she stopped at a small vanity mirror. Just then she let the lighter go out, it was getting a little hot, and she had to shift for paper. Barely enough light glowed from outside the stalls. She stood, adjusted, and lit the stall again. As she passed the vanity, she stopped noticing someone had written in lip stick. She leaned in closer and read aloud.

    “24 hours or she dies,” Jen could hear his voice.

    Damn how did he find her, here. Just then the light by the sink fluttered. No, no! The lights in the bathroom went out, Jen was trapped, so much darkness, she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face. She panicked and dropped the lighter.

    “No! Get me out of here! Please,” she screamed and screamed at the top of her lungs. Before she could save her friend, she had to get out of this horrible tomb. She continued screaming for help.

    “Please, American stuck in the crapper, s’il vous plait,” she was miserable.

    1. penney

      Okay, just read aloud to my daughter and I see its a bit choppy. Any suggestions? Standard disclaimer, the horrible 500. Also, I felt the need to set up the girls rather then the killer. Would more killer be better?

    2. Ishmael

      I didn’t get the feeling of “choppy” when I read it. Felt pretty good to me…good flow, good descriptions, etc. Yeah, that word limit – those last hundred come quickly, don’t they!!!

    3. Icabu

      Getting the balance between description and action in a mere 500 words is … well, hell. This prompt had a ton of requirements, too, and that raises the difficulty bar. I can only suggest what I do (for what that’s worth) – write the story out (usually around 700 words), then start trimming out what isn’t vital. It hurts and sometimes requires some rewriting … but eventually you get there.
      Good story concept (that helps a lot!)
      Keep writing!

    4. annefreemanimages

      Penny, just keep in mind when you have to trim those lovely descriptions from the story to leave more room for the action, that you can always add them back in when you repost the story on your own blog or website. That’s what I do – it helps to ease the pain of cropping! Really nice work.


        1. Ishmael

          Yeah, I just write – usually penning about 700-800 words. Trimming the fat is like being a skilled butcher…cutting the right amount of fat to leave a well-marbled steak. Enough meat to make it filling, but sufficient fat in all the spots where it could use some flavor.

  32. andrearose

    Donna left the poker table in the club house to go to the bathroom and when she did not return I went to check and found the message on the mirror, I am following the peeping man. In the Sr. park we had trouble remembering names so we used descriptions a lot.
    Ever since the body had been found in our community pool we had been watching the creepy man. I was concerned about her playing cop on her own. But I was one step ahead as I had seen him going into the empty trailer in the back and sure enough I found her there and got her untied before he came back. The police were there waiting for him when he returned.

    1. Ishmael

      Ditto. This has the makings of a good thriller, if fleshed out. I’d also capitalize The Peeping Man, to give him more of an air of mystery, and also keep that name consistent throughout the piece (are you referring to the same guy when you write about the “creepy man?” If so, but you absolutely insist on describing him as “creepy,” then I’d say, “…we had been watching the creepy, Peeping Man.” Gives it a little more umph, and clarifies who you mean.). Take this and build on it…it can really be quite something. 🙂

    2. Icabu

      Definitely use the full allotment of words to build up and then take down this creepy, Peeping Man. Your dynamic duo need more words, too.
      Keep writing!

  33. Sam. L. G

    I walked into the restroom, my eyes were tired. All day I had been looking for CJ, but I didn’t have any luck. It took me a while figure out what was smudged on the mirror. At first I thought, Great a comedic joke, just smudge some lipstick on the mirror. But after a while I realized it was a message written backwards. I quickly grabbed my notepad and wrote it down normally. It read-
    I have CJ, if you ever want to see him alive.
    Remember an Eye for an Eye.
    I thought it over… an eye for an eye. Where did I hear that? I stopped in my tracks and my blood turned to ice as I realized what it had meant. When CJ had dumped that chick at our favorite hideout, she had told me “An eye for an Eye, remember that.” First I thought she thought that CJ and I were romantically involved, which I responded with a quick.
    “He didn’t dump you for me.” But now I recognized her, she was a wanted murderer. I must have kept her from making her kill.
    Something on the ground caught my attention. It was CJ’s Dog tags, even though he wasn’t in the army, he still wore them… if he was ever lost or killed. I gasped at the blood that covered them.
    I slapped my forehead and quickly left the bathroom, pulling out my phone to call the police. “Hello 911 what is your emergency?” A lady asked as I got into my car.
    “I found a murderer; I need the police to meet me at 2413 Star lane. She has a hostage and she is armed.” I told her and she paused for a moment. I kept my hand, that holding the dog tags, on the steering wheel waiting impatiently for her reply.
    “Stand by, do not engage the murderer, please wait for the cops to arrive.” She hung up and I clutched the steering wheel in anger. I was not going to sit back while my friend, my bro was getting harmed… or was dying… or was dead. I quickly began driving.
    “Don’t worry CJ, I’m coming.” I whispered clutching the dog tags harder, the blood staining my hands.

    When we arrived, CJ was covered in a dead dude’s blood. The Murderer had committed suicide and left CJ to sit there after being tortured.
    I sat down next to him after he had cleaned himself of the blood. He was wearing a blanket and shivering, even though I knew he wasn’t cold.
    “How are you holding up?” He didn’t answer and I handed him his Dog tags. “You dropped this.” He looked at me with thankfulness. He hugged me and began to cry.
    “Thank you… Thank you…”

    1. annefreemanimages

      Hi Sam. Some good descriptions in that story. I got a little lost in the middle of the story when the narrator said something about her keeping the murderer from making her kill. Not sure what that was about. other than that, I enjoyed it.


  34. Cassy

    It was dark. My favorite song was playing but the music was so loud, it was so crowded and we agreed to stay together but she was gone.
    “Stay put! I’ll make sure she gets back safely. It gets crazy sometimes. You’ll see.”
    He offered us drinks. We had already been drinking but we accepted the offer. I waited at the bar for maybe an hour before panic set in.
    “Where are they.” As I rushed to find her, I knocked the glass out of one girl’s hand but she was to out of it to notice. I actually had to wait in line, watching frantically as everyone made thier way to the exit. It could not have taken this long.
    “Jazz? Jazz?” I looked around and under each stall before I saw it. “In the car.”
    Three women away from the stalls I noticed the message written on the bathroom mirror in red lipstick.
    “In the car. In the car?”
    “Jazz?” I called and read again, “In the car!”
    Deep into the groove of the music a girl swayed methodically in front of me.
    “This is rock baby! Serious rock!”
    “I’m looking for my friend.”
    “Jazz? Cool! but not here,” and she bobbed away. As a combed the group of people standing around I got another glimpse of the message. Even the handwriting is creepy I thought, sitting on the toilet mindless of the long line that formed behind me. It was the first thing I saw as I exited the stall.
    “Maybe she’s in the car,” the girl standing next to me said and she laughed as she exited the bathroom with her friend.
    “I should not have trusted him with her,” I thought as I made my way to the door. I looked around and exited the dark room.
    I didn’t see her but I saw him. The killer had not gotten away.
    “Get back here!” I screamed as I ran frantically to where he was standing. “Where is she?”
    “Didn’t you get my message?” He was standing next to her seated in her car.
    “We’ve had too much to drink,” he said politely. “Are you okay? What happened? You look so shaken up.”

    1. jincomt

      I like the twist– getting one meaning from the mirror note, but it really means something else. I got the feeling, as I was reading, that you could picture exactly where your story was going and what the scene looked like and tried to get it all in there, but the flow was a little hard to follow for the reader. Cool setting too.

    2. annefreemanimages

      Cassy. The beginning of the story was confusing to me – I couldn’t quite tell who were the characters. It took me a while to figure it out. You may want to make that a bit more obvious at the start. I liked how you made what appeared to be an ominous message into an innocent message at the end. That was good. I liked the club scene – it’s crowding, noise and high people. Nice job, overall.


    3. Icabu

      Nice un-twist. The crowded, confusing scene made it easy to think the worst …
      With the others on the ‘who’s who’ confusion.
      Good job – keep writing!

  35. bobp


    There it was in bright red lipstick on the men room mirror in Wal-Mart.
    I’m Jack. No one else in the washroom, and it’s three in the morning, the store in nearly empty. Who would be sending me a message, and who is Jill. After I finished my business and cleaned up the mess, I stepped over to the main door, and sure enough it was a dark and stormy night. I wonder why I hadn’t noticed when I walked in.
    Back in the toy department I go looking or one of those kids spy periscopes I’ve got to relieve my partner, and I don’t want to be too obvious. Mr. Mormotski is known to get very displeased if he thinks you’re spying on him. (I lost three partners that way, fortunately I was dating his daughter at the time). Oh yeah I nearly forgot, he has a daughter, now what was her name? That’s right Jill. I knew I heard that name before. I wonder if that’s who needs my help.
    I’ll check in with Larry when I get there, maybe he’ll know something. Later that morning:
    Yeah Moe, I did what you told me. I watched everything that happened at that red house at the corner of the street.
    Idiot I said the blue house in the middle of the block. So what went on.
    Well about 9pn there was a woman screaming, but I only saw their shadows, and he hands around her neck didn’t seem very threatening. I’m sure everything’s ok because about 5 minutes later the screaming stopped. Then a naked lady ran out the front door screaming murder, but you know how women are, always getting upset over nothing. I’m sure it was OK, because a man in a big black limo went after had pulled her into the car. Wasn’t that nice of him? She could a got arrested.
    Ouch, What did ya do that for.
    You know my eyes
    You mean this
    Ouch, yeah that, that hurts, why do you keep poking your fingers in my eyes
    Numbskull, did you follow the Limo?
    Nah. You told me to stay here, anyway it came back about an hour later, but the naked broad wasn’t in it then, he must o taken her home.
    All this happened at the Blue house.
    No the red house
    What happened at the blue house
    How do you know
    I didn’t see nothing
    Were you watching the Blue house
    Nah you told me to watch the red house.
    What time is it?
    Let me see, the little hand is on the. . . what do those dots mean,
    Never mind give me the watch
    Maybe someone is up
    By the way where is Shemp?
    As I was coming I saw he go into the blue house, but he never came out only and old rolled up rug. Funny the put in the trunk of there car. Maybe they were taking out to be cleaned up it looked really messy all covered with red stains and such
    I though you said that nothing happened.
    That’s right, nothing happened.
    Cover me I’m going over to the blue house and if I don’t come out in an hour. Get out of here and don’t come back. Got me?
    Got ya.
    Ding Dong
    May I help you.
    Is Jill awake?
    I’ll see.
    She says come up the water’s fine.
    Jill how are you, never mind I can see that every part of you is fine,
    Moe Jack. I see you got my message
    So that was you,
    Who else would write you a message in blood, the fat slob who tried to sneak in here earlier sure had a lot blood, I figured why waste it.
    Very sensitive of you
    Yeah wasn’t it.
    Well why’d you send me the note
    Well I was feeling kind of lonely and wanted some to help me move the bed.

    1. Ishmael

      This was almost like reading prose poetry, which was sort of neat (and a little confusing at times). Was that intentional? But that’s how I tried to view this when reading. If the first two paragraphs would’ve been written in the same style as the rest of the story, I think that would’ve helped maintain a more congruous piece.

  36. Leond

    I was weak. Weak and wasted, physically and mentally. I had done nothing but drive ever since Liz had disappeared. I knew that it was him. The same one who had taken John. And Jim. And Gabby. Now Liz. Now my own wife. And he had left a map. It didn’t indicate a location. Only a road. A road that I had followed ever since, stopping everywhere I could see to stop. Two days later, I had locked myself into a gas station bathroom. I was washing my face of the grime it had acquired when I saw something in the mirror.
    It was a message. In lipstick. Only two words.
    “Look Carefully.”
    And so I looked. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I looked. And then I saw it. The figure in the mirror wasn’t quite me. I was determined, set to track down whoever had taken Liz. The figure in the mirror was angry. Evil. I started to wipe away the lipstick to see him better. On the other side of the mirror, he did the same.
    “Who are you?” I whispered.
    The figure just stared back at me.
    I repeated the question. “Who are you? And where is Liz?”
    It still made no answer.
    “I know you’re there. Don’t mess with me.”
    He moved his lips to match with my words, but he wouldn’t answer me. He just kept staring at me with that same, malicious smile.
    “One more time. Who are you?”
    It stared at me for a few seconds while I waited. I could feel myself beginning to panic. It looked worried too. Perhaps it realized that I finally had it trapped.
    “Do you really think I can answer that?” it said, finally.
    “You’d better,” I said. It continued to mock me with its lips as I spoke. But it didn’t matter to me.
    “Where is she?” I asked.
    It shrugged. “Probably where you left her.”
    “No she’s not!”
    “Look in your hand.”
    He raised his hand to indicate which one. I knew she wasn’t there, but I still imitated his gesture. My fist was clenched tight around something. So tight I had almost lost feeling in my fingers. I uncurled them. Lipstick. Liz’s lipstick. I looked back at the mirror. He met my gaze.
    “How did I get this?”
    “You really don’t remember anything about that lipstick? Anything at all?”
    I opened the tube. She had worn it, I remember. But she wasn’t the only one. I looked at it. Looked carefully.
    And then I remember. John had had it on his lips a little too. Right before the thing in the mirror had killed him. And Jim. Even Gabby, Jim’s wife. And Liz was putting it on. Right before…
    I stared at him. He stared back. And then smiled. And smiled wider and wider as his mind went over what he had done.
    I punched the man in the mirror. I punched him as hard as I could, over and over. He must have had a knife or something, because the next moment, I was bleeding wildly and he was gone.
    I don’t know if I killed him or not. I haven’t seen him since. When I asked, one of the men here said that he doesn’t exist. She hasn’t tried to hurt Liz since they found her in my trunk. So maybe I stopped him. And yet sometimes, sometimes when I’m looking at the white walls and ceiling, I feel like he’s watching me from somewhere. Somewhere very near.

        1. rob akers

          WOW!!!!!! That is crazy good! To me the best post so far. So much potiential there and you found it.

          It can be much more too. I can see this as a best seller. Combine these characters with a equally driven cop chasing them and you got yourself something big.

          Great Job!

  37. Cequendly

    You sit in the bathroom stall, trying to massage away the remnants of last nights beer and, most of all, trying to forget about Lindsey. Ever since her disappearance three days ago, you’ve been lost. Lindsey’s been your best friend since the fifth grade, sticking through when your parents divorced in the ninth grade, and just last year when your mother passed away and you couldn’t help but turn to alcohol. She’s always been your other half. But lately, you know she’s been hiding something from you. Canceled plans, constant texts from a mysterious source. You’re afraid it has to do with a disappearance.
    You step out of the stall, wincing at the waves of pain pulsating through your head, but only once you’ve washed your hands does it register. There’s a message on the bathroom mirror, in lipstick, no less.
    I have Charlotte. We’re at The Bakery. Just like old times, remember? -The Third Musketeer
    You blink and reread the message. Old times?! What bakery?!
    “And who the fuck is—Oh my God!”
    Charlotte is Lindsey. Or rather, Charlotte is the name you’d given Lindsey in middle school. You’d each had a fake name, kept a secret from everybody else. It was your thing. But who’s “The Third Musketeer”? You think, staring at the outrageous fuchsia color of the message. And then it hits you. Back when you’d invented the fake names; it hadn’t just been you and Linds, but Tara Bennett too. You three were the only ones who’d ever known about the names. You used to call yourselves The Three Musketeers. And “The Bakery”! Tara’s family used to own a bakery. Oh my God! It’s Tara! Tara has Lindsey!
    The bakery is abandoned; weeds grow freely, paint is peeling, and you swear you can hear rats. But no human voices. You step inside, trembling.
    “Hello?” Your voice reverberates and then slowly fades into the room.
    “Danie—“ An agonizing scream penetrates the air.
    “Lindsey!” You shriek, running in the direction of the scream.
    Lindsey’s in the former kitchen, tied to a chair. Her assailant has a hood over her head, and a knife at her throat. A knife at her throat! Tara Bennett is going to fucking kill her!
    “Tara!” You cry, your voice cracking. “Stop!” Tara pulls off her hood.
    “We used to be friends, Tara! Stop it!” Tara shoots you a look that sends chills down your spine.
    “Tell her.” She says, through clenched teeth. At first you think Tara’s lost it, but then you realize she’s talking to Lindsey. Lindsey shakes her head.
    “Tell her!” Tara shrieks. “Tell her about how you’ve been screwing my husband for months! Tell Danielle about how he’s leaving me for you!” Tara thrusts the knife into Lindseys neck, and you scream, hands fumbling for your phone.
    “911, Please state your emergency,”
    “I’m on 84 East Rutherford Street. My friend, she’s, she’s…” You burst into tears. Tara doesn’t runs but collapses, sobbing.
    “I just wanted him to love me.”

    1. Cequendly

      Hey everyone! I just wanted to say that I’m new here. I’ve read a lot of prompt responses and I thought a lot of writers on here could give me some much-needed critiques. I’m thirteen, so I have a long way to go, but I’m ready.

      And yes, the stereotype that thirteen year-olds think they know everything is completely and frustratingly true.

      1. jincomt

        Ok first, not because you are “just 13”, this is genuinely the start of a flat -out good story. It might read more clearly and be more active if you move it to first -person. In other words, “I sat in the bathroom stall…” instead of using the “you ” voice. In 500 words it’s hard to limit the dialogue and descriptions and keep the action and plot moving cohesively. Definitely KEEP WRITING. We will be seeing your name in print.

        1. Ishmael

          13? I’ve read lesser works by people twice, thrice, and frice your age! Okay, I know frice isn’t a word, but work with me. Jincomt has already mentioned the first person issue, which would clean this up completely, so other than that, I have nothing but kudos to offer. WRITE ON! 🙂

          1. Amy

            Awesome job! Although I, too, prefer 1st or 3rd person, I applaud you for using 2nd. It’s rarely done and I think you did an amazing job! Great plot line too!

      2. Cequendly

        Thanks so much! I wanted to experiment with second person because it was something I’d never done before but I’d have to agree that keeping it in first person would work better for this particular prompt.

        1. Ishmael

          It gave it that neat, Rod Serling feel. I know that’s before your time (even mine, but I’m closer). I didn’t realize you were going for 2nd person. Great spin on the prompt. You are now entering, “The Twilight Zone.”

      1. rob akers

        Wow. Great Job. I echo everything said so far. I admire your ability to write in 2nd person but more importantly your willingness to experiment with it, especially in a public forum. I can’t even think in 2nd person. Rock On!

        You are a brave soul and I salute you!

    2. chris

      I liked this story alot – very thriller-like! I agree w/ everyone on the POV of 1st person makes it easier to read but this is a great place to experiment and try differnt things so please don’t fret. we all love variety! I thought you did a great job at creating tension throughout the story and i couldn’t stop reading. Please keep writing! Good job 🙂

  38. Imaginalchemy

    “Who is the Wickedest One of All…”

    What most people don’t know is that I can view your world through any mirror. Everyone who summons my powers believes I only reside in one “magic mirror.” That old narcissistic queen who tried to poison her pretty daughter-in-law thought so; the prince-turned-beast with the enchantress’s hand mirror through so; I’m sure even that blonde girl who entered her dreamland through her looking glass must’ve thought that one mirror was special. Honestly, it would bother you people if you knew I am present in any reflective surface, rather than just one “magical” place.
    But she knows better. That’s why she scrawled her lava-red lipstick letter on a random mirror—in this case, the one in some seedy bathroom—knowing I would find it. It was clear that the message was for me, because she wrote it backwards and flipped around. For me, on the opposite side, it read perfectly straight and right side forwards:
    “Mirror mirror, everywhere,
    Come and find me, if you dare.
    I may not reach you where you hide,
    To save your friend, open the doorway wide.”
    I already knew which “friend” she spoke of. I immediately projected myself to the body-length standing mirror that my pursuer had conveniently placed in the darkened room where she and her hostage were waiting. Seated on a chair, looking very troubled and lost, was six-year-old Cassie–who never admired her reflection, because she is blind; who never asked about her future, because she was happy with the present; who never needed me to give her illusions, because all she ever wanted was the truth.
    And there was Bloody Mary, grinning crookedly as she watched my visage appear.
    “Ah, there you are,” she said, strolling over to the mirror. “You know what I want. Just open the doorway, and she is free to go.”
    “I can’t open the mirror for you,” I replied. Ever since that one Halloween night, when some children chanted Bloody Mary’s name three times into a bathroom mirror and summoned her, Mary has been trapped on the living side. She has wanted me to open the mirror again to let other spirits out to join her reckless, and often harmful, poltergeist pranks.
    She grimaces. “You know what I’ll do to her if you don’t do as I say.”
    Poltergeists like Mary are capable of far nastier things than writing messages in lipstick. Hurting little children wasn’t something beyond her.
    “Bloody Mary…”
    Mary spun around to see Cassie, who was standing and pointing at her.
    “Bloody Mary…” Cassie said again.
    Mary’s face contorted in panic and fury. She lunged at Cassie, her fingers twisted into claws aimed at the child’s throat.
    “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” I spat out as quickly as I could.
    Then there she was, on the same side of the mirror as I. Her fury at being bound in my realm was short-lived, however, as I enveloped her in my icy essence.
    “Mary, Mary, trapped in here…I’m going to teach you real fear…”

    1. CLWallace

      I very much like the play on how mirrors seem to always be a part of a fairy tale story. I really enjoyed the poems and the unexpected ending. I know that it’s difficult to sum up all one’s thoughts into 500 words, but if it were more descriptive in the way of emotion it would be easier to connect with the characters. All in all, very good, and one that I wish I thought of myself! (Snow White is the Queens step daughter – not daughter in law, unless that was changed intentionally)

      1. Imaginalchemy

        You’re absolutely right, of course…step daughter, not daughter in law…this is what I get for typing up something too quickly and not going back to re-read it (ARGH!) But that you for the feedback, I appreciate it when folks take the time to read my stuff.

    2. Ishmael

      I like it when you take the prompts into the Fairy Tale World. It’s your forté, and a popular genre to be writing these days. You really do it so remarkably well! The Bloody Mary spin on this was a great way to mix the two different types of folklore. And the moralistic representation of Cassie was touching. I loved the “life lesson” taught with the lines, “…who never admired her reflection, because she is blind; who never asked about her future, because she was happy with the present; who never needed me to give her illusions, because all she ever wanted was the truth.”

    3. chris

      i was genuinely freaked out by that last line. Great job! I remember those bloody mary stories from when i was a kid; brings back memories! great take on the prompt!

  39. Archie96

    For a long time I sat, bored, forgetting her absence. The film must have been the trashiest thing I’d ever seen – but all the same, it wasn’t until a particularly cringe-worthy moment that I turned and remembered she’d been gone twenty minutes. At the time though, oblivious to her fate, I got angry: how could she desert me at this terrible romance that I’d never wanted to see? I stormed out to find her.
    I check the bathrooms first, poke my head round the corner and shout her name. Of course I get no reply. Then I return to the front doors of the cinema, even look outside. I ask a few people if they’ve seen a lady similar to her description. Even if they have, they won’t remember. I try her phone. She doesn’t answer. Back into the cinema – definitely not there. Hang around the entrance to the lady’s bathroom for a bit, before manning up and entering. Call her name. Again. No reply. Walk further in. Some lady steps out a stall, shocked at my appearance but too embarrassed to say anything, before quickly leaving. And just before I get out myself, I see it, above the taps, scrawled in her usual cerise lipstick:

    I’m leaving, Jack. I neva 1nted you.

    I curse. My knuckles ghostly numb, clenched to the sink. Definitely her handwriting. But why would she write it like that? She always made a point of not using text lingo. A1. What could that mean? Think. Think!
    Seat A1? I’m clutching at straws here, but it’s worth a try. Back to the cinema. It’s full, but yes, there’s the closest seat, A1, empty. Perhaps some pervert followed her out… and forgot their backpack – it’s under the chair! I glance around. No one’s noticed me. All their eyes are fixed to the screen, oblivious to anything but fantasy worlds. I walk up, grab the bag, and leave. Quickly. I check the bag. Photos, young women like my girlfriend. None are smiling – pale, inhuman. There’re more. A camera, notebook, and a phone: no passcode, already logged into Facebook. It’s the account of some 16 year old girl with a sexual photo – and address. Hell, I’ve got to try. I hurry outside. Some attendant says that they hope I’ve enjoyed the film. I ignore him, but can’t help thinking he may have been the last man to see my girlfriend alive.
    I drive quickly. Closer. Faster. The sat-nav can barely keep up. Finally I arrive, pull over and sprint out. Knock. Bang. Somewhere, far away, female screams. A rough man opens the door.
    Before I know what I’m doing, I punch. He’s on the floor. The screams continue. Follow the noise.
    And there! There’s my girlfriend, and others, but they’re too weak to show emotion.
    “He’s gonna kill me!” she murmurs.
    “It’s ok! You’re ok!” is all I can muster.
    I return to give another punch, conforming my first hit before calling the police.

  40. CLWallace

    I stood standing in front of the mirror and the message spread across the dirty glass trying to figure out what I was going to do next. The message was clear, but my thoughts certainly weren’t. The one person in this world that I thought I could trust was my tormentor; the one responsible for making my life a living hell.
    With outraged realization and agonizing betrayal looming over me I planned the rescue. He thought by giving me this last piece of the puzzle I would be too distraught to function or react, giving him time to follow through with killing the only family I had left. Kady. I left the restroom with one thought playing over and over again in my mind. Revenge is a bitch.
    It didn’t take long for me deliberate a plan that I knew he wouldn’t see coming. He couldn’t; he thought I was week; thought that I didn’t have the nerve to do something so reckless and dangerous, and two days ago he would have been right. Two days ago I was the girl who had just lost her parents and her life all in the same day, and he was there to comfort me like he had done my entire life. He promised that he would make it all go away, and I believed him whole heartedly.
    There was only one place that he could possibly be. I imagine him sitting there waiting for me to walk out from behind the giant oak tree that we both are so familiar with. Every summer we would sit under it for hours on end looking out over the lake, talking about nonsensical things and waiting for the rain. It always rained for some reason when we visited the tree, almost as if the universe knew and didn’t want us to be together.
    “It looks like rain,” he would say, as he looked up into the blackening sky. “We should head out before we get wet.”
    I know that’s where I’ll find him. I know that he’s waiting for me there with Kady. I only hope and pray that he hasn’t hurt her. She’s just a little girl and the only reason that he thought to take her was because of me. Anything to hurt me; anything to make my world harder for some reason is his only motivation in life. I know this now.
    Today is May 29th, 2012. My name is Cheryl L. Wallace and if I’m not standing next to you as you’re reading this then he won. I’m probably dead, which means that he kept his promise. He did make it all go away.
    As the clouds roll in I look up and realize that they’re never going to find me. I feel the first few drops on my face and appreciate the cool breeze coming off of the water. I close my eyes, recalling the reason why I’m here. The writing on the mirror.

    It looks like rain.

    1. Imaginalchemy

      *looks around* Please say you’re standing next to me as I read this…
      This story gripped me right from the get-go. Nice touch with adding the date and your name to make this seem like it’s all happening right now, and we as the readers are involved somehow. I’m curious and a little confused by the ending…maybe that’s intentional…Excellent work.

      1. CLWallace

        The very end is the only part not in the letter. It was intended to be a little cryptic at the end, so I guess I succeeded there. Thanks so much for the nice words!!!

    2. Ishmael

      Sounds like a family friendship gone bad – real bad! This was a good, interesting read. My only piece of advice (take it or leave it) is to make sure your first line is flawless. Yours is a little awkward (“I stood standing”…”the message spread across the dirty mirror trying to figure out what I was going to do” – sounds like the message is doing the action). Perhaps something like, “I stood in front of the mirror, reading the message spread across the dirty glass, and tried to figure out what I was going to do next.” Other than that, it wasn’t bad. I like cryptic endings that cause the reader to think.

  41. jren

    “Rainey, you need to help me. I’m scared. . .someone is following me. I am hiding at the gas station on the corner of 21st and Northampton Street in Easton. Hurry please. I need you.” Rainey heard as she checked her messages.
    The message was left an hour ago. “God, I hope I am not too late.” she said to herself. Lindsey is Rainey’s best friend. She doesn’t panic easily. Rainey jumped in her car and traveled the two miles to 21st Street.
    Lindsey is not in sight. Rainey found that the station had been closed for a few years at least. It was locked up tighter than a drum. She went around back to find Lindsey’s bracelet on the ground. There were signs of a struggle. . .but no Lindsey.
    Panic was starting to take over. Rainey didn’t know which way to go. “Breathe, Don’t lose it now, girl. Lindsey needs you to stay calm.” Rainey thought. After taking a few deep breaths, she decided to continue to look and see if there was anything else she could find.
    The lock was broken on the bathroom door. As Rainey slowly pushed the door open, all she could see was darkness. On her keychain was a small flashlight. It allowed her to see well enough to know that Lindsey had been there. There on the floor was Lindsey’s lipstick. As Rainey bent to pick it up, the flashlight gleamed off of the mirror. She could see something there. “Ike” is all it said. It was written in Lindsey’s passion pink lipstick.
    “Ike—Ike. Oh No. He said if she didn’t stay with him, he would make sure nobody else would have her.” She remembers. “Damn it, Rainey, think. Where would he take her?”
    Rainey remembered that he has a hideout, but knows she will need help. She made a phone call to Cory. “Cory, get the guys. Ike has Lindsey and I think they are at the hideout. Hurry!”
    All ten of Cory’s posse converged on the hideout to find that Ike had Lindsey trussed up pretty tight on a mattress in the corner. They don’t see Ike anywhere. Cory climbed quietly through a broken window as the others kept watch.
    Cory took the gag out of Lindsey’s mouth. As he proceeded to cut the ropes that bound her, she told him that Ike left to get them some food, but should be back soon.
    After Rainey called Cory, she also called the police. They arrived just in time to catch Ike as he discovered that Lindsey was gone, safe and sound with the ones that really care about her.

      1. rob akers

        It is real tough to have multiple characters in a 500 word post. I can’t do it but you did it and it works. Nice job and I agree with jincomt, this would be a fun ride with the posse.

  42. Mandy

    “The divorce has been very difficult,” I moaned
    “Aren’t they all,” snicker Angela. She wiped the grin off her face, noticing I didn’t find it at all funny.
    “Last week was absurd; he actually came to the house in the middle of the night and murdered all our plants in the garden and spray painted the white picket fence with neon green paint. Sometimes I feel like he’s watching me even though I got a restraining order.” I looked over my shoulder and of course he wasn’t there.
    “Caroline, you’re just paranoid.” Sheila put a hand on my shoulder. “He’s upset that he lost the house in the divorce. He’ll get over it and move on.”
    “He’s probably mad that you burned his Armani suit too,” commented Jenny. All the women at the table stared at her. Jenny shrugged and sipped from her straw. I looked down at my lap. It was true; I could have been a little more mature myself. I sighed and excused myself from the table and went to the restroom. I walked into the restroom digging in my purse. My fingers dug around in my purse not able to find my lipstick. I looked up and my eyes widened with shock. Scrawled across the mirror spanning the entire wall was a message written in red lipstick saying, “Our place, meet me or Percy is gone 4ever”. The tube, completely used up, laid abandoned on the edge of a sink. It was mine. I ran out of the restroom, past my alarmed friends, and to my car. “Our place” most likely meant the veranda at the public park where he proposed to me. I arrived there in minutes and sure enough I saw him standing hunched over the wooden railing. I took a deep breath and marched right up to the veranda. I looked up at him and growled, “This is not funny. Where is Percy?” He was drunk; there was an undeniable slur in his voice.
    “Not until you give me the house.”
    “We settled this in court, remember?” He didn’t respond. He just stared at the ground sadly. I heard barks coming from the woods. It was dusk and I could barely see. I followed the sound of the barks and I found Percy, our Jack Russell Terrier, tied to a tree and happy to see me, completely oblivious to what was going on.

    1. Icabu

      Good nasty divorce story. Knowing the ex got the lipstick out of her purse, I was expecting something a bit more dire – but almost felt sad for the ex at the end. Glad the dog was ok!

  43. slayerdan

    It was 120 degrees outside, yet there I had stood frozen in place, unmoving except for my pounding heart and trembling hands. I must have stared at it for 10 minutes before taking the picture with my phone and leaving. Even a roadside dump like that had to have someone else use that fly infested shithole once in a while. I couldn’t have been more than a few minutes behind. It was meant for me. Had to be. The only other person I had seen for 40 miles was the stupid blonde woman waving at me as we passed a couple of miles back.
    The bastard was playing with me. Why else make me drive this far out into nothingness?
    I felt the adrenaline and fear rush leave me as I slumped into the drivers seat. Still bathing in sweat I had stared at my phone, over and over reading those lipstick words— Hot isn’t it Johnny Boy? So close….
    The scrawled message was right-the heat was almost malevolent. Having grabbed week old pastries from the attendant, I sluggishly stuffed one in my mouth and started the car. Then it hit me like a meteor.
    “Johnny Boy!!” I screamed to myself as I hit the steering wheel, the door, and the console several times, pounding out my epiphany as I tried to come to grips with the reality of my discovery. Only one person in my life had ever called me Johnny Boy…only one.
    I hit the gas and aimed the car in the direction I had just came from. The car. The blonde woman waving. I feel so stupid. No one just randomly waves to strangers at 60 mph on desert roads. It was her. It had to be. The bastard playing with me was actually a bitch.
    A bitch that hated me enough to take away that which was close to me.
    She had a good twenty minute lead on me and unless she stopped, I doubt I would catch her. I didn’t see Angie, the true love of my life, in the car with her. She could have been tied up.
    Or worse.
    I let those thoughts go as I pushed the limits of my car. I had to get back to town. Goddamn no cell service in this hot ass hell. I hit the steering wheel again, damning myself for being so slow witted.
    There, on the side of the roadway as I rounded a bend, sat the car of the waving woman. I slowed down as I saw no one behind the wheel. On the door of the car, scrawled in the same lipstick, was one word.
    I slammed on the brakes and jumped out, running to the trunk of her car. It wasn’t closed all the way. My heart pounding to escape my chest, hands trembling, I lifted the lid, half expecting an explosion.
    Empty but for a folded piece of paper. Frantic, I read the words, again in lipstick.
    Not my trunk Johnny Boy.

    1. slayerdan

      I trimmed it to 503, best I could do. The paste didnt observe a couple of the spacings I had put in–the paste box kept scrolling up so I just left it as is. There are at least 3 spaces in that first big blob looking of a paragraph, but all in all I liked it. The 500 does keep you alert. Thanks for any and all feedback.

      1. rob akers


        Just a few comments from a very new and inexperienced writer. First of all I like your story and a great twist at the end. Good Job.

        I have read and constantly remind myself to show and not tell when I write. I felt that you did a lot of telling in your work. For example: “It was 120 degrees outside, yet there I had stood frozen in place, unmoving except for my pounding heart and trembling hands. I must have stared at it for 10 minutes before taking the picture with my phone and leaving.”

        This isn’t a great example but it could be written: “I couldn’t focus on anything except the words on the mirror causing my heart to jump out of my chest and my hands to tremble with fear. My sweat stung my eyes as I took a picture with my phone.”

        I hope you’re not offended by the suggestion, just repeating helpful comments from others and what I have read.

        Finally, for a post or a long comment like this one, I write it on word then cut and paste onto the website. Seems to help me get the spelling and spacing right. You are doing a great job. Keep up the good work and please take my comments with some salt. I have only been writing for a short time and I have never made a dime off of anything written. I am an amateur with big dreams.

        1. slayerdan

          Rob–if someone writes on an open forum, they need to be able to take things such as criticism along w praise.So no harm done. I have been writing for over 20 years and have hundreds of stories, poems, and other things here and there. While your example works for you, to me, it kills what i was trying to say—despite the heat, he was frozen in place—i needed the comparison and think the word frozen–or a similar one–was what i needed. Im sure there are a 1000 different ways to do it–some better, some worse. But none mine. The best point to keep in mind for these weekly projects is this: my story was 900+_ words. I then had to shave it down to 700. Then 600. Then the 503 i was happy with. With that constraint, something is invariably not going to be perfect. I accept that here as the projects are fun . Glad you liked it.

          1. rob akers

            You Da Man! Amazing that you started at 900+. I did read where you said it earlier and while it registered, I didn’t correlate it, to your lines. The most I have been over was 650 once, but never 900. Great job of getting it to 503 while keeping a good flow and the plot intact.

            Yes, these projects are fun! And isn’t that what this should all be about.

          2. JennY77

            Slayerdan I liked all the stories I’ve read thus far but yours was the best. I think participating in these writing prompts is a great writing exercise for writers. I like the way you contrasted his feelings with the outside heat. By doing that, it draws the reader into the scene as well as provides background details to really put readers into that moment you captured. If you finished your story I’d read your book. Keep up the good work.

    2. slayerdan

      Thanks to everyone–and to the hundreds that post after. The last couple of weeks, the prompts just didnt grab me, and it showed. I guess when it does grab you, it is much easier to discern. Thanks again.

    3. Icabu

      Enjoyed the descriptions and Johnny Boy’s thoughts as he figured things out … then the wonderful twisted ending. Blondie is a formidable foe.

  44. jincomt

    I’d never been a cop for the money. It’s always been about catching the bad guys.

    I was taking my daily break at the local donut shop, “Hole in One”. I know, I know, it’s stereotypical, but they really did have the best coffee and sugar donuts. But coffee has a way of running right through me.

    After relieving myself in the ladie’s room, I washed my hands and noticed a note on the mirror in fuscia lipstick—probably some little punk teenager leaving graffiti, you know, for a good time call…

    But when I read it, a chill ran through me:

    Roses are Red
    Violets are blue
    But the orange flower
    Is just for you.
    Love, Bennie

    Bennie is the nickname I gave my best friend Belinda back when we were in middle school and played on the boy’s hockey team. She was still my best friend and my sounding board for all my cases. I could feel the bile rising in my throat. This wasn’t good.

    Walking out I glanced at all the tables—they each had a vase with a single fake flower of blue and red in them, except one table. It had an orange flower. I quickly walked to the table dumping out the flower. Sure enough, a piece of paper fell out. “If you want to see Bennie alive, come to the old McFlannigan’s warehouse on 86th by 2:00. Bring the COMPLETE Poppy File.”

    The Poppy File was a case I’d been working on for a year. It started out as petty theft but the last robbery had led to murder. At each crime scene a fake poppy flower was left behind. I knew I was getting close to solving it.

    I threw money on the table and head back to the station. I quickly grabbed the file from my locked desk and copied a couple random pages. I grabbed a folder and jammed the rest of it with paper from my waste basket.

    When I got to the warehouse, I approached a bolted metal door and knocked.

    “Drop your gun, Reynolds.” Little shit knew my name. “Show me you got the file. Slide it under the door.”

    “No way you get the whole thing until I know Bennie’s okay.” I slid the top sheet of the file under the door. Finally, the door opened to a short little fat man, a poppy stuck in his button hole, a gun pointed at me. I could see Bennie behind him on a chair, her hands tied behind her back. I looked at her and, damn if she didn’t wink at me. I breathed a sigh of relief.

    “I didn’t mean to kill him,” the little twerp said.

    “I know,” and I did. Something had gone wrong with the last robbery. I even wrote that in my report and pulled out the page to prove it. “Look,” I said.

    Bennie slowly moved her hands as the rope holding them fell to the ground. Damn, she was good. She reached for a metal bar on the ground as I kept Fat Man busy. “I know it was an accident. And no one cares about stupid robberies. Petty shit.”

    I stalled pretending to flip through the file and almost cracked a smile as Bennie landed the pipe on the side of his head. We both watched him slide to the ground. “Not bad,” I said appreciatively.

    “See? I’ve been listening.”

    I smiled and dangled my handcuffs from my index finger. “Here, you can do the honors.”

    1. jincomt

      The type A that I am…. should be “ladies’ room” and not “ladie’s room” and should be “I threw money on the table and headed back to the station” not “I threw money on the table and head back to the station.” There. I feel a bit better. 😉

    2. Imaginalchemy

      I really like these characters…Bennie and Reynolds make a great duo. I’d almost think they’d plan the whole thing in order to catch the Fat Man (except Reynolds has that moment of fear when she first sees the message, which indicates she wasn’t in on it). Very enjoyable story.

      1. jincomt

        This group is so great about offering supportive feedback. Thank you. The stories here humble me with their creative and original plots and every contributor on here encourages me with a “yay, go us!” feeling.

    3. Ishmael

      Great story, as usual. I’ve come to expect that of you! Love the opening lines. And the closing ones. And the middle ones, too. Oh, and don’t worry about being a type-A…let the few typos go…what the heck. We know what you meant, and it’s not gross negligence. I look forward to your next one!!!

      1. Ishmael

        P.S. And I wanted to say how much I loved the first two lines, too! I even read them to my nephew when I started your story and said, “See? I told you jincomt’s good.” I guess I’M being the Type-A personality now, but I couldn’t let it go without this addendum. 🙂

      1. jincomt

        Shhhh don’t tell anyone; it’s just a wee bit over 500. Fist time I’ve broken that rule. The original attempt was almost 900 words and it felt like I was cutting off my child’s limbs to get it to “almost” 500. Thanks for the feedback.

      1. rob akers

        Great job. I agree with everyone hoping that these two can make another post.

        Like you and the others I am a realist and type A so I must make one small suggestion. The line about Reynolds throwing the money on the table and heading back to the station is not realistic. Everyone knows that the police get their donuts for free. ha ha.

        Again very nice job.

          1. Ishmael

            He has a way of sneaking those in on ya! Gave me a chuckle earlier when I read it.

  45. jeffreyaustinellis

    Seven hells…
    Grace stared at the words scrawled in ruby lipstick across the mirror over the bathroom sink. She washed her hands and pulled several brown paper towels from the dispenser. Her eyes hadn’t faltered from the red message. It was clearly meant for her, which meant that she was clearly going in the right direction.
    She had rolled into the old gas station just as the sun had been setting behind the black fingers of the wooded hills. It was cold, and lonely, and despite herself she had wanted only to be back in her bed. To give up this stupid chase and let the police find Ben. It was their job – their trade – and she was as likely to get herself killed as save her husband.
    Yet here she was, miles into the countryside, in a dusty old gas station, washing her hands and staring at a violent red sign to keep pushing. She had thought she was going in the right direction, that the killer was heading for the old church in the backwoods, and this confirmed.
    As she finished drying her hands she took one last look at the lipstick on the mirror and realization dawned on her: She was expected.

      1. slayerdan

        Very good opening. To me, this is where the 500 words is a crutch—to me your whole story is hook, now i wanna know whats next. Well done.

  46. Fedoraman94

    I slammed the door so hard it shattered the mirror. I needed to get out of the restaurant and find Mary, who was no longer at our table.
    I looked around the restaurant for her, but to no avail; she was already gone. I was furious. A man approached me, saying something I didn’t comprehend. I punched him in the face and bolted out of the door, my jacket flapping in the wind. I called a taxi and told him to drive to my hotel.
    The entire ride I couldn’t stop thinking about the message I saw on the bathroom mirror. It had been written in lipstick, Mary’s lipstick to be exact. IT was the same color she had on and I clearly remember her saying she had lost it, probably in the taxi on the way to the restaurant.
    The message that was written on the mirror scared me more than Mary’s disappearance: “You will never c Mary again”.
    I kept looking at the napkin that I had written the message down on. Something caught my eye that I hadn’t noticed until now. He said “never C Mary”. Not see, but C.
    I thought about what that could mean, and then it hit me. I tapped the driver on the shoulder and told him to go to the park. We were in New York, what else could it have been? It must be Central Park, Mary’s favorite place in NYC.
    I debated calling her on my phone, fearing that the man who had taken her would kill her once he heard the phone. Frustrated, I crumpled up the napkin and threw it on the floor of the taxi. I noticed something else. There was something written on the back of the napkin. 8:45. I never wrote that!
    This meant that the man who had taken her was not only in the restaurant with us, but worked for the restaurant as well. He must have written it there before we were seated. I glanced at my watch. It was 8:21. I urged the driver to hurry up, but we had run into a lot of traffic. I paid him, then got out of the car and started running.
    I felt like I had been running for hours when I got to Central Park. I glanced at my watch again. 8:43. I looked around frantically for signs of Mary’s presence.
    To my right I saw drag marks in the ground in the shape of a person. I followed them, sprinting. They suddenly stopped a few feet before a lake. I was shocked. Had he really thrown her into the lake?
    “Oh my god,” I muttered. I sat on the ground, feeling defeated. I put my head in my hands and began to sob. I stopped sobbing and that’s when I heard the sound of muffled screaming coming from right underneath me. I used the light from my phone to see. Yes, the dirt had been moved. A few minutes later I unearthed Mary and we went to the cops.

    1. Imaginalchemy

      That was very intense…the ending was a little abrupt, but I know that’s probably due to the 500 word limit. Too bad we never find out what scumbag was behind it, or why he abducted and buried poor Mary. You should go ahead an expand on this, it’s a good start!

      1. Fedoraman94

        I’m glad you liked it. Yea, the fact that the ending was very abrupt and i didnt say who the guy was was due to the word limit, which i still wen slightly over. i’m glad you enjoyed it, though. thank you, i think i will expand it and make it into a complete story. thank you for ur input, greatly appreciated =)

    2. jincomt

      This plays on such a big fear: being buried alive. Gives that ending a creepy twist. The 500 word limit really cuts into how it could be developed, doesn’t it. I agree, you should use this as a spring board and run with it.

    3. Ishmael

      I guess Mary ordered the mud pie for dessert. 🙂

      I like how you kept us in tune with his emotions and carried us along for the frantic pursuit of her – glad it had a happy ending.

    4. kelcylane

      This was good. I like how she thought he had thrown Mary into the lake.

      I like how its kind of open ended. It lets the reader decide what happens next.


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