Night at the Museum

You hide in the museum bathrooms until the building is closed and everyone is gone. What is the first thing you do? Do you touch everything you possibly can or go exploring in the back rooms? Don’t forget to watch out for security guards!

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

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267 thoughts on “Night at the Museum

  1. Kingboo

    I cautiously stepped off the toilet lid and unlatched the door, placing each foot down with care. The bathroom was dark and empty, hazy orange light filtered in through the window at the end of the small room, not really helping at all if I was to be honest. My heard leapt into my mouth as I kicked something on the floor, a figurine of some sort, the plastic clattering against the tiled floor, echoing around the empty room. I froze and watched the seconds tick by on my glow in the dark watch face, relaxing as it ticked to the one minute mark.
    Really all I was doing was just precautions, I had long since decided the security in and around Landshark General Museum was useless. They cameras no longer worked and they had one old security guard that drunk himself to sleep every night.
    I picked up the figurine. Iron Man. And he’s my favourite Avenger. Go figure.
    I shoved Iron Man Jr in my breast pocket so his head poked out, patting it fondly before opening the door into the corridor outside.
    It was empty and pitch black, usefully.
    I flicked on my torch and started to slowly make my down the sparsely decorated corridor, wincing at the little sounds my shoes made against the smooth, stone floor. I growled as I accidentally put my foot down too hard and the noise echoed through the building. I sat down and laboriously look them off so I was left in my socks. I left them in a vase and started sliding down the vacant hallways, the floor providing an excellent skidding surface. As I round the corner that lead to Superhero area, something odd caught my eye. Bright, white light filtered under the tall, oaken doors, lighting up my panda socks. I switched my torch off and crept over the double doors, slowly opening one a little.
    What I saw was kinda weird to say the least.
    The floor of the exhibit had been raised to reveal a staircase leading to a massive room below. People walked around in lab coats, holding test tubes and various pieces of technology all with one word printed across the breast pocket. SHIELD.
    If Iron Man Jr hadn’t suddenly decied to ditch me and fall out of my pocket, I could of shut the door and slinked away into the night, my tail tucked between my legs and my belly pressed to the floor, but again, Iron Man Jr clattered to the ground, bouncing down each stair painfully.
    Everybody looked up at me, including the guy with one eye who I remembered from somewhere, that somewhere I didn’t know the location of.
    “Hello Miss Bartholomew. We’ve been expecting you”. He spoke calmly.
    “What the fu – ”

  2. Speterson14

    I checked my watch for the third time in the past five minutes. Not much longer now. I’ve been sitting cross legged on the toilet for the last fifty-five minutes, patiently waiting for the lights to shut off and envisioning the web of security lasers spilling out across the main floors of the museum.

    I’ve always fancied myself an explorer. This grand vision of myself had pushed me. I’ve reached the first base camp at Everest; I’ve seen the caves of Vietnam; I’ve climbed the Irish Cliffs of Mohr. Though I’m not sure that the Museum of Natural History after hours necessarily is on par with some of my other adventures, who am I to judge?

    The bamboo watch on my wrist reads 9:56. It’s been roughly an hour since the last guests filtered out of the museum and according to my acquaintance, Buckley, a previous employee of the museum, the security guards should be finishing up with their nightly routine before closing-time. Ten o’clock should mark a strict clock-out time for the main detail, at which point a team of three guards will split between the floors and settle in for an uneventful night of Candy Crush and streamed Sports Center on their smart phones.

    9:58. I stretched my legs out in front of me as quietly as I could and reached for my toes. Muscle cramps had set in within the first twenty-or-so minutes. My size 11.5’s just reached the door of the stall. My feet are of disproportionate size to the rest of my body. That’s what makes me such a gifted climber.

    Taking the crudely drawn map out of my pocket I surveyed my route for what had to be the forty-second time this evening. A quick succession of left and right turns out of the restroom should keep me clear of the guard’s desk within moments and I would be on my way up to the attic.

    Having “cased” the place several times of the last week I had gotten my fair share of the main exhibits on display. There are only so many wax cavemen and dinosaurs that a man can see before starting to wonder about the treasures behind the scenes. There had been plenty of time to start dreaming about the wonders that I would find removed from sight in the backrooms of the museum. Though Buckley had never been privy to these sights as a custodian at the museum, he assured me that they existed. I would just have to trust him. My gut told me that he was right.

    9:59. I picked my legs up under myself and crouched on the seat of the toilet. I began measuring my breath and cracked a smile as I imagined a black-clad gargoyle ready to spring out over a city for its nightly patrol.

    10:00. Lights. I reached for the lock and slid it back, leaned forward and sprung forward, landing face first as my size 11.5 lodged in the toilet behind me.

  3. PGS

    I know this is last weeks, but….

    The fourth time entering the museum I was disguised as an old woman. I wasn’t the security camera’s I was worried about, there probably weren’t any anyway. However, the same person entering the small Missouri museum four times in two days surely would be recognized. I never stole anything in my life, unless you count cookies, but if I didn’t get the brooch 6 years of searching would be wasted. I was not about to let it go just because Leila would not sell it to me. My plan was to hide in the museum until dark take the brooch, replace it with the one made from horse hair, then go back to Ohio. As it turns out it was easier than I thought. My plan worked perfectly. Sort of. Visiting the museum there were no cameras. No security guards, motion detectors or alarms. Apparently in Missouri they are not worried about thieves hiding out in bathrooms after closing. I suspect steeling from hair museums is not really a big problem either.
    Promptly at 4:00 Leila locked the door, never noticing the tape I jammed in. I had a long creepy wait till dark, surrounded by wreaths, jewelry and other things all made with human hair! It didn’t matter if it was Elvis’s hair or just someone’s baby’s hair, it was creepy! Creepy or not I had to do it. I discovered my birth grandmother was from a small town in Turkey, and moved to Missouri as a young woman. As the story goes, she was in love with Chez, a potter in Avanos. When her father discovered she was pregnant he sent her to America. Before she left she cut off a lock of hair for him to remember her by and he cut off a lock of his for her. Carrying his hair to her unfamiliar home in Missouri, she used it to craft the broach she wore every day until she died. My birth mother, not wanting to throw it away and not wanting to keep it either, donated the broach to Leila’s Hair Museum.
    By 6:00 it was not yet dark, but thoroughly creeped out, I was ready. I put on my rubber gloves, switched the broaches and… The door would not open! Yanking harder was no help! Taking a deep breath, and telling myself the hair wasn’t conspiring to trap me, I examined the deadbolt lock. Unable to fully engage because of the tape, I could push it to the unlocked position. Not sure, or caring, if anyone saw I left the museum. Surprised not to find a single cop came after me, I found my rental and barely made the flight back to Toledo. My disguise now in the airport trash. I used the three hour flight back to contact Dr. Kroger and schedule the DNA and genetic tests. The hope was we would discover a clue to the cause and a cure for Little Mark’s metabolic disorders.

  4. Critique

    Please forgive me for not getting around to responding to the wonderful imaginative stories coming up on here. I hope to get back into that as soon as I am able.

    Night at the Museum

    Ciara chose a different stall the second time and climbed onto the toilet seat just as heavy footsteps paused outside the main door. Pressing the cellphone to her chest with one hand and the other against the wall for balance, she held her breath as the security guard entered the bathroom, the beam from his flashlight spearing the ceramic floor.

    Methodically he banged open every stall.

    Perspiration ran down Ciara’s back soaking her tank top and her bare feet slipped a little on the toilet seat. The stall door next to where she was hiding banged open, he slapped the flashlight three times rhythmically in the palm of his hand while whistling tunelessly through his teeth. Then he walked out.

    Ciara’s cellphone lit up and her trembling fingers fumbled the buttons. Another text from Lenny.

    “How’s it going? We need to leave.”

    She typed in a reply.

    “A psycho guard is on to me. I’m coming out.” She hit send and the cellphone slipped from her grasp. She scrabbled desperately for it but it fell hitting the rim of the seat with an echoing clunk and into the bowl splashing water onto her feet.

    Frozen with fear her ears strained for any sound.

    He was coming back!

    Why did she ever agree to this crazy scavenger hunt. The team thought she was a shoe-in for the last item on the list – getting a selfie in the closed museum – because she’d toured the place recently with her Aunt Martha who was visiting from England.

    Measured footsteps approached the outer door then passed and faded into silence.

    Lenny and Robyn were waiting in the truck two blocks down and they might do something stupid – like leave her. Scavenger hunt be damned. It was time to split.

    Feeling her way across the dark bathroom she cracked open the outer door then sped on silent feet down the dimly lit hallway to a wide staircase that led to the front entrance. Halfway down she heard his whistle then the powerful beam of a flashlight splashed on the floor below. Ciara flew back up the stairs, slid behind a pillar, pressed back against the cold marble wall barely breathing while her heart threatened to jump out of her chest.

    To be continued.

  5. txgirltanya

    A little different and long, so bare with me, lol.

    She could hear them. In the midst of the snow falling down all around her, she could hear them calling out her name.

    “Stephanie, STEPHANIE! Where are you?”

    Running, and panting, a barefooted, scared, scrawny, young girl kept searching. For a door, anyone, anywhere to run, or just to hide. Dodging trees, bushes, along the terrain, her bones ached from the cold. Shivering, she stopped to hide beneath a pine tree when she saw her foot bleeding. Bending over to tend to it, she heard them calling for her again.

    “Stephanie! We aren’t going to harm you! We just want you to come home! STEPHANIE!”

    Stephanie knew she must keep on the run. Just to be able to get away for five minutes was well worth it from those waiting to take her captive again. Scanning the horizon she finally saw relief in sight, a museum.

    The sun was setting, and it would be frigid soon. Stephanie needed medical attention and to get there quickly. Looking over the area with her eyes, she found the best route and decided to take it. Leaving a piece of cloth behind as a decoy to lure her captors, she began to run.

    Making sure to stay out of the public’s view, she stayed near the wooded ground, stopping every few minutes to make sure no one was following. As she progressed it began to snow heavily as the temps began to fall, when she heard a scream. Gasping and standing still, she heard her name.

    “STEPHANIE!”

    They found her piece of clothing. Perfect. Without delay, she knew there was no time to waste. Avoiding trees, stepping on branches, leaving bloody footprints through the snow, her feet began to become numb. It seemed like hours had passed before she reached her destination.

    Stephanie saw the back entrance of the museum and ran for the door. Peeping in the windows, seeing no one there, she tried the door, and amazingly it opened for her. Going inside and closing the door behind her, Stephanie stood still until her eyes got adjusted to the dark. Being careful not to trip any alarms, and avoiding all security cameras, Stephanie headed down the hallways until she saw a restroom in sight. She walked over to it and opened the door.

    Inside, she found a first aid kit, along with several toilets, and shower stalls. A perfect hiding place, she thought to herself. She turned around to see if the restroom’s door had a lock. It did. She walked over and locked the door and began to search for towels, washcloths. She found them nestled in a corner beneath the first aid kit.

    While cleaning her feet, an alarm tripped, and she could hear several security guards running down the hall. Hiding herself in one of the stalls and locking it, she could hear her captors screaming her name and the security guards wrestling them to the ground. Would they eventually find her? Time would only tell.

  6. cosi van tutte

    Sorry about this one’s length!

    If I had to blame someone for what went down that night, well. I wouldn’t blame anyone. Yes, you might say that it was my fault and you might be almost right. But no. Not really. What happened that night happened because of the signs.

    Oh, the signs. They were everywhere.

    “Do NOT touch the exhibits.”

    “Do NOT stand on the exhibits.”

    “Do NOT sneeze near the exhibits.”

    “Touch the exhibits with your eyes. NOT with your grubby, filthy, germ-ridden hands.”

    “NO touchie.”

    And on and on and on.

    And the exhibits beckoned to me. They wanted to be touched. They wanted smeary fingerprints all over their pristine selves. So, of course, I tried to touch the Iron Man suit in the Super Marvelous Heroes exhibit.

    A guard popped out of nowhere and slapped my hands. “Do NOT touch the exhibits.” And, just like that, he just POOF! disappeared. Out of stubbornness and morbid curiosity, I tried to touch it again.

    A different guard appeared and slapped my hands and the back of my head. He left without even saying a word.

    I looked at the Black Widow costume.

    Another guard shoved me away from it before I could even try anything. “NO touching.” He snapped to attention as a bored teenager with runny black hair kicked Batman’s shins. He shoved up his sleeves and marched over to the teenager.

    I watched as he grabbed the teenager by the collar of his shabby Blink-182 sweatshirt and dragged him out of the room.

    And the exhibits still called to me. “Touch me.” “Touch me!” “TOUCH ME!” But how could I touch any of them with such a militant group of guards around?

    A woman’s posh voice announced over the speakers, “Ladies and gentleman. The museum will be closing in five minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in five minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and get the heck out of here. Thank you.”

    Five minutes. Five minutes…I grinned as I hit upon an excellent plan.

    ***

    As soon as I entered the bathroom, people rushed pell-mell crazy into the room and hogged up every single stall.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in four minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. You do not want the guards to use unnecessary force. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in four minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Do not hide in the bathrooms or in any of our sarcophagi. Thank you.”

    Four minutes. And all of the stalls were in use. I ran into the other bathroom. Just as a large black woman was leaving it. “Ohh, so you’re one of them perverts, huh?” And she smacked me with her beach bag-sized purse. “Well, I don’t take kindly to no perverts.” She smacked me again. I swear she had half of a brick courthouse in that thing. “You’d better get yourself lost before I call the cops.”

    “I’m sorry, ma’am.”

    “Who you calling ma’am? I ain’t no ma’am.” Another punch with the purse sledgehammer. “I am a missus.”

    “I just had to go bathroom real bad and—”

    “Uhh-huh. That’s what all them perverts say.” Another punch.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in three minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Do not leave any valuables behind because we will sell them on E-Bay. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in three minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Any loiterers will be taken into custody. Thank you.”

    “Anyhow, there’s one of them unigender bathrooms over there.”

    “Oh, thanks.” I ran to that bathroom as fast as I could. I didn’t want to get hit by the big old bag of justice again. I entered the room and discovered a flaw in this plan.

    There were no stalls. Just a toilet, a sink, a baby changer board thing, and a hand dryer. “I might as well just stand in the doorway and wait for the guards to haul me away.” I opened the door and contemplated returning to the men’s room.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in two minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. The museum will not be held responsible for any and all abandoned children. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in two minutes. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Do not litter on the way out. Thank you.”

    Two minutes. Two…

    I ran to the men’s room. Just as a whole crowd of teenagers were leaving it. “HA-HA! Someone had to go real bad.” “Heh-heh-heh. Yeah, real bad.” “Better watch out. He might explode.” “HA-HA! Good one. HA-HA!”

    I ignored their taunts and ran into the handicapped stall. I decided to leave the stall door open. No sense in drawing attention to it.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in one minute. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Right now or else. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum will be closing in one minute. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Do not force us to use force. Thank you.”

    I sat on the water tank and set my feet on the toilet seat. It made me feel uncouth and awful, but where else could I put my feet? On the floor where everyone could see them? Yeah. Right.

    “Ladies and gentlemen. The museum is closing now. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. We hope to see you again tomorrow. Unless you’re a vandal or a purse thief. Then, we hope you never, ever come back. Ladies and gentlemen. The museum is closing now. Please collect your children and significant others and leave. Please do not doidle on the way out. We museum workers have lives that we want to return to in a timely fashion. Thank you so much for coming. Go away now. BYE!”

    ***to be continued***

    1. cosi van tutte

      And here is the continuation/conclusion. Again, sorry about the length:

      I waited.

      And waited.

      And waited.

      No one came into the bathroom. Not a single customer. Not a single guard.

      I counted to 564.

      No one came in.

      “All right.” I whispered. “I think I’m safe.”

      I left the bathroom and found myself in perfect darkness. “Great. How am I supposed to find the Super Marvelous Heroes exhibit in the dark?” I shrugged and decided to try my best.

      The darkness was thick and consuming and unnerving. I felt blind. “Wait. Maybe I am blind. I don’t feel blind, but maybe the guard hit me with a ju-jitsu stick when I wasn’t looking and blinded me. No. That’s ridiculous. I would certainly know if I were hit by a—Ahh!”

      There it was in glowing blue letters: Super Marvelous Heroes. The words hung there, all disembodied in the dark. It was creepy and wonderful all at the same time.

      I stumbled and fumbled towards the exhibit. The blue letters beckoned to me. “Come. Come! COME!”

      I stepped into the exhibit room. The lights turned on by themselves, which startled me and blinded me in one fell swoop.

      “So.” A woman’s sultry voice. “You’ve come.”

      “Of course, he did.” A man’s voice. Not at all sultry. Snarky as all get go. “He wanted to get to know me better.”

      “Hmm. That’s what you think. I saw how he looked at me.”

      “Oh, get over yourself. I’m more awesome than you will ever be.”

      “Awesome doesn’t count for anything. You see these hot curves? That counts for everything.”

      “Yeah? Well. You can keep them. They would look all wrong on me.”

      My eyes adjusted to the light, but the sight before me would take a lot more adjusting to get used to.

      All of the costumes on display had stepped out of their exhibits and stood before me. Somehow or other, they had all acquired bodies.

      Batman and Lois Lane loitered in a dark corner, discussing politics. Superman flew around the room, shouting, “Wheee! Look at me. I’m not a bird nor a plane. I’M SUPERMAN!”

      Supergirl and Wonder Woman looked bored as Ant-Man kept changing his size from large to small. “Impressive, right? Huh? Am I right?”

      “No, bozo.” said Catwoman. “It is not impressive. It’s dull.”

      Wonder Woman glared at her. “Sorry, but you aren’t part of our clique. Go pester Dr. Doom.”

      Catwoman stomped her high-heeled boot. “You know full well that Dr. Doom isn’t here.”

      “He never is, sweetie. So, go talk to Spiderman. He looks lonely.”

      “Spiderman? Yuck. He’s just a little boy.” She winked at Ant-Man. “Unlike you.”

      Ant-Man shot up to regular size. He linked his arm around Catwoman’s arm. “Come. Tell me more.”

      “Oh, gladly.”

      Iron Man shrugged. “She always goes for him. I don’t get it.”

      I didn’t have anything to say to that. My mind was stuck on WHAT THE HECK?

      Black Widow arched an eyebrow. “I think you scared the new guy, Stark.”

      “Nah. He’s just overwhelmed by my awesomeness.” He waved a finger in her face. “Very few people can witness my awesomeness and be underwhelmed, you know.”

      “Whatever.”

      “Whatever, nothing. It just isn’t possible. So, new guy. You want to touch me, huh? Can’t blame you. I am one touchable guy.”

      Black Widow shook her head. “You are unbelievable.”

      “I know!”

      She shook her head again and walked over to Captain America.

      “Are you…” The sound of my own voice startled me. “Is this real?”

      “Tell you what. I’ll let you decide.” He punched me in the face.

      I fell like a wimpy movie extra.

      “That was unnecessary.” A man’s voice. Sneaky. Somewhere behind me.

      “So, new guy. Did that feel real enough to you?”

      I sat up.

      “All you heroes. You’re all the same. Meatheaded. Unintelligent. Unlike me.”

      I turned around.

      Loki.

      He was the only one still locked up in his glass case. He looked at me with his hangdog expression.

      I walked over to him.

      “If you let me out of here—”

      Thor ended his conversation with Gwen Stacy and ran over to us. “DO NOT RELEASE HIM!”

      Iron Man strolled over to Thor’s side. “Yeah. You have no idea what a pain it was getting him in there.”

      “I only want to enjoy everyone’s company.”

      Thor scoffed.

      Iron Man snirked. “Riding the T-Rex into the Eskimo village is sure a weird way to go about it.”

      “I was younger then.”

      “That was three months ago.” snapped Thor.

      “And I was three months younger then.”

      “Ugh! The sight of you sickens me.” Thor turned to me and pointed in my face. “If you release him, you will taste the wrath of Asgaard.” He marched back to Gwen. His cape swung dramatically with each step.

      Loki gave Iron Man his most woeful look.

      “Hey! Don’t look at me. I was the one who had to stuff your sorry self into that thing in the first place. Nearly ruptured my spleen.”

      “Does the term wrongful imprisonment mean anything to you?”

      “Nope. I got to go beat up Hawkeye. See ya.”

      He left me alone with Loki.

      Loki looked at me. He blinked and tears trailed down his pale face. “Can you not see the grave injustice? Look at them having fun while I. I must stay in this cage. This prison. Will you not set this right?”

      “I probably shouldn’t.”

      “But you should. For mercy’s sake. For justice.”

      “But you’re Loki.”

      “But I can change my ways. If only someone would give me a fair chance. If only someone would show me mercy. I know I could change my ways. I could become the greatest hero the world has ever known. If only you would set me free.”

      I walked around the glass prison. “I don’t see a way out.”

      “Touch the glass.”

      “This feels like a bad idea.”

      “But you know it isn’t. Touch the glass.”

      I raised my hand, hesitated only for a moment, and spread my hand on the case.

      The glass melted like water and spilled all over the floor.

      “FREEEEEE!” Loki raised his fists to the ceiling. “AT LAST, I AM FREE! AHHH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” He grinned at me. “Thank you so much for your assistance. Now, I can dominate the human world. AHHH-HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAAAA!” He ran out of the exhibit room and disappeared into the darkness.

      “Oh, shoot.”

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Literally grinned all the way through. More tongue-in-cheek than the characters from the comics/films are maybe, but superheros in nananananananana-BATMAN!-style beat po-faced Captain Americanism every time. Thumbs up, Cosi, and thanks for sharing!

  7. benhli38

    I remember the night it happened. Talk about embarrassing. I entered an art museum to view a couple of paintings I heard about. Five minutes being there the lights went out. “You got to be kidding me!” There was no warning, so I stood there stunned. No notice of any kind of closing either. “Hello? Is anyone there?” a chill ran up my spine as I felt eyes all over me.

    “Well, you did come here with five minutes to spare.”

    “Who said that? Who’s there?”

    A grinning cat came out from the shadows with a malevolent, mischievous smile. “It’s still on you, Alice.”

    “How do you know me?” Again, that chill went up my spine.

    “You don’t recall do you? You thought you woke up after the fact you ran after the white rabbit as a little girl?”

    No, it was impossible! I do recall going to sleep under a big oak tree as a little girl, but when I woke up, my cat Charlie was next to me waking up too. He loved on me and gave me soft kisses on my leg.

    “Meow!”

    I shot up drenched in sweat in my own bed. Whew! It had been a dream, but it felt so real. I got up and went to my mirror, expecting something strange and weird to happen. Nothing. Not a blink, not a sigh. Nothing. As I turned to go back to bed…

    “And you thought you were getting away?”

    Ugh. Not that ugly cat again. “Why are you stalking me?”

    “Alice. Come on. We’ve been through this game of cat and mouse once before.”

    He said cat and mouse. What? Am I a mouse? So I walked back up to the mirror in my bedroom and sure enough I was a mouse with blonde hair. How in the? What in the? This has to be a nightmare.

    “Alice. Alice? Alice!”

    I felt a hard shaking upon my arm. “Come on, girl. You fell asleep here in the museum. We have got to go, girl, before it closes. This place gives me the creeps.” Thank goodness for my good friend, Shawntae, for waking me up so we could leave.

    1. Observer Tim

      Alice has a very vivid imagination; too bad it’s out to get her… 🙂

      Clever story, Benhli. Like many people I’m tired of “it was a dream” stories, but yours is refreshingly strange and doesn’t use that as its main point.

      My red pencil says in the first paragraph you should probably use “After five minutes there…”, though the wording as is fits the character’s style.

  8. ReathaThomasOakley

    Yesterday my husband and I met for the first time with the Bear Lodge Writers in Sundance WY, and I mentioned this venue, and the weekly poetry prompts, as great places to visit. I also said folks here are most generous with comments and suggestions, and so very much can be learned. Thanks everyone, for the time taken to read, encourage, and support others. Your efforts are appreciated.

    1. Observer Tim

      I’ll put in a word with the Council to have Miss Behaviour beam down some “be nice” rays from her mind control satellite… 😉

      By the way, it’s cool that you went to the writer’s group associated with a piece of American folklore and history. For those who don’t know, google “Sundance Wyoming”.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        The Sundance Kid, Harry Longabaugh, was arrested on June 22, 1887 on the charge of grand larceny for stealling a horse. He was tried on August 4, 1887 and sentenced to 18 months in the Crook County Jail in Sundance. After being released from jail, he met and became partners with Butch Cassidy. His alias, the Sundance Kid, came from the teasing he received for spending all those months in the Sundance jail. The County jailhouse at that time was the little building behind and attached to the old courthouse.—
        From the Crook County Museum website.

        A few years ago I worked with that museum staff and was told some folks didn’t appreciate that their lovely little town was only known as the place The Kid got his nickname.

        Have your picture taken with the Sundance Kid on the courthouse lawn.

  9. Craig the Editor

    I must warn you. The 500 word limit was brutally exceeded. I had too much fun writing this piece. Sorry.

    A Night in the Museum of Torture

    Mark knew the moment that his eyes opened that something was wrong. He had fallen into his nice, soft, comfortable bed and now he found himself sitting on a commode in a darkened bathroom. A surge of panic ran through him. He remained very still, straining to hear any external sounds that would help identify where he was.

    While he sat there, hoping his heart wouldn’t burst, he assessed his situation. He was in a bathroom stall, wearing navy boxers. It was pitch dark and he could hear the hum of the ventilation system. Beyond that he was clueless.

    After about thirty seconds he decided that he was going to have to open the stall door and try and figure out where he was. Taking a deep breath and burying his fear, he opened the stall door.

    Two things happened almost simultaneously. The lights came on and a woman screamed which prompted Mark to close the stall door and lock it. Lights were good, but a screaming woman was bad, very bad.

    “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to do it!” he immediately apologized although his inner voice wondered why.

    “No, no, it’s entirely my fault. I was just startled by the lights. I didn’t realize anyone was here.” stated a female voice.

    “Jennifer? Is that you?”

    After a brief pause, “Possibly, who’s asking?”

    “It’s Mark. Do you have any idea where we are?”

    “I believe we are in a restroom”

    “Yes, the commode I am sitting on kinda gave it away. Do you have any idea where the bathroom is located and please don’t say a building.”

    “I have an idea but you’ll have to leave your stall and open the door.”

    “Why me? Is it dangerous? You know I don’t do “dangerous”. Why don’t you leave your stall and open the door?”

    “No, its not dangerous. Not that I know of. I’d check myself but I am slightly underdressed for the occasion.”

    “I’m in boxers. How much more underdressed can you be?”

    “Just trust me, I am. Mark, you recall how earlier we were searching for a way to break the vampire curse that infected your father when he was in South America?”

    “Yes and we decided that the new exhibit from South America at the Museum of Torture in San Diego might have a clue. A spell or some hint on the back of an old painting of some deposed dictator.”

    “Right and I was trying to get us teleported into the museum to save on time and air fare but nothing happened. Well, apparently I forgot to figure in the time change and the spell kicked in after we each went to bed.”

    “Okay, I am leaving the stall. I am guessing the lights are on a motion sensor that kicked in when I opened the stall door the first time.”

    Mark opened the stall door and for the first time looked around and saw a typical restroom setup. Two sinks, two soap dispensers, two paper towel dispensers, two stalls and one door. He carefully opened the outer door.

    While the lights were out, the full moon and large windows provided adequate, if somewhat spooky source of illimuniation. He gingerly stepped into the hallway and looked both ways. He could make out a sign directing him to some artifacts used during the Spanish Inquisition . They were definitely in the Museum of Torture.

    He became aware of a low humming sound that was growing louder. It suddenly occured to him that there might be security guards. He turned heel and ducked back into the woman’s bathroom where Jennifer remained in her stall.

    “First, the good news. we are in the Museum of Torture. The bad news is that there is a security guard robot out there.”

    “Okay, that’s good actually. My brother, Alan, Mr. Techie, was telling me about them. The museum was replacing its human guards with these high tech robits that would patrol the museum after hours. He said that the flaw was that they could only detect movement in front of them and not behind them. And they only shoot when they detect motion.”

    “When you say shoot, do you mean like laser beams or a death ray?”

    “No, don’t be ridiculous, the museum couldn’t afford that model. This one takes your picture and sends it to the authorities. If you just stay behind it you should be okay. Just follow along until it gets to the painting we need. Flip the painting over, memorize it, flip it back, and get back here as soon as possible. Rember the clock is ticking. You have less than half an hour to pull this off.”

    “But why can’t you come along? It’s a big painting and you are so much better at memorizing then I am. I just don’t want to screw up.”

    “Mark, when it’s 90 degrees and 90% humidity I sleep in the raw.”

    “Oh….so you’re naked in there? How long do we have before the return spell kicks in?”

    “Being naked in a toilet stall in the women’s restroom in the Museum of Torture I can assure you is not a turn on so get those ideas out of your boxers right now.”

    “What ideas?”

    “You’re a man. You have ideas…none of them are happening, understand?”

    “Okay, okay, I get the message. Some people just don’t know how to have fun.”

    “We can have fun when we get back home with the information we need. I am just worried about getting caught or not getting the information from the painting. Our time here is very limited. The robots make rounds every fifteen minutes.”

    Mark waited patiently until he heard the robot guard roll past the restroom door. He eased the door open and tiptoed behind the guard-bot. Eventually he reached the painting and he let the robit continue on. The painting was large and unwieldy and of some guy that Mark had never heard of. Not that it really mattered. What mattered was on the back side of the painting.

    Mark was preparing to memorize some rambling curse written in ancient Summarian but instead he found just one word. Roanoke.

    Jennifer was about to make an outfit from toilet paper and go in search of Mark when he returned.

    “Roanoke? You are sure that’s what it said? There wasn’t anything else?”

    “Yes, I am sure. That’s all there was. Were you expecting something different? Maybe you should have a look?”

    “Even if I was inclined to traipse naked through the museum we haven’t got enough time. To be honest I’m not sure what it means. I’ll have to do some more research, but I believe we are on the right track. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.”

    A feeling deep in their respective guts told them they were about to go back home. Everything seemed to be growing larger when in fact they were growing smaller. Then they were gone.

    1. Penney

      The core of your story has some potential. There is a lot of time getting out of a “pitch dark” bathroom with continuity issues. I’m sorry but there might be a problem with technology that conveniently can’t see behind itself. The story could go far, why a spell is needed,yes, a sick person but why, are they wizards or time traveling? Anything Roanoke legendary is bad jew-jew so especially interesting to see tie in.

    2. Observer Tim

      Very interesting, Craig. I am curious to see where this goes from here. I assume the museum is not very well-endowed given that they have cheap security robots and no alarms on the paintings. Either that or the MC’s are being played. The interaction between the characters is well-played, though I am wondering about their ages. The voice is young, but some of the actions imply a higher age – I’m guessing middle to late teens. I’m not sure what the connection between Roanoake and vampires is, but I’m sure if you took this further it would be explained.

  10. njensen

    “Don’t touch anything. They have alarms.”

    “I know.” Charlie caught his brother’s arm and pulled himself out from behind the display case.
    The room was movie-theatre dark and shadowed by the jagged rock formations that lined the walls. In a corner of the ceiling, a motion-detector light winked red.

    “Watch out” said Sam. He led Charlie away from it and out into the hall. “The Dinosaur room?”

    Charlie nodded. The museum had been his idea. They’d been staying with their father’s sister, but Sam had rescued them both from that and now they were waiting for their uncle to get back from Europe. Sam was sure he’d let them stay with him instead. They’d slept in the botanical gardens for a week until the rain started, and then they’d spent two nights in the public library. Now they only had a week left. It was all about finding the right waiting-place – in this case, behind the meteorite display, where the heavy velvet curtain covered the space between the wood and the wall. Sam was the one who found it. He always knew what to do.

    Charlie hopped a pattern over the mosaic floor, and then froze suddenly, feeling the shadow above him. In the center of the room, an enormous dinosaur rose onto its back legs, bending its neck so its great jaws opened above Charlie’s head. It had curved, yellowing teeth as long as Charlie’s arm, and it’s eyes, glowing, were fixed on him. They followed him; and the mouth was smiling. Charlie suddenly couldn’t feel his brother behind him anymore.

    “Sam?” He said, and then, a little louder, his voice squeaking up in panic “Sam!”

    Sam’s arms wrapped securely around his shoulders.

    “ Look” he said. He was grinning. He reached and pushed one hand straight into the dinosaur’s mouth, between the knife-teeth and right into the cave of its throat. Charlie squeezed his eyes shut in horror.

    “There.” Sam removed his arm, still whole, and led Charlie down to the dinosaur’s middle. He linked his fingers to make a step with his hands.

    “You said no touching.”

    “It’s only a statue. This is the kids’ area. They won’t bother with security.”

    Charlie prodded the cold, lumpy skin tentatively. The dinosaur did nothing.

    “Go on.” Sam boosted him up; higher, higher, so that Charlie could pull himself onto the dinosaur’s back, and then dragged himself up behind him.

    Charlie had never ridden a horse, but he thought this must be much bigger. The floor was far away, and the thick neck twisted up in front of him, disappeared in shadow, and then bent down again into the terrible head.

    “Shhh” said Sam. Footsteps were coming down the opposite hall. Sam was right about most things, but he was wrong about security. The guard walked right into the room, his flashlight bouncing over the walls and all over them, where they sat in plain view, like two spikes on the dinosaur’s back. The eyes of all the smaller dinosaurs glowed worse than ever. Charlie felt something between a scream and a terrified laugh bubbling up inside him. He had to bite his cheeks to keep it in; but he wasn’t scared, not really, because Sam had just winked, and behind the finger he’d put to his lips he was grinning his crazy, gap-toothed grin. The guard stomped out again.

    “You’re a natural” Sam said, when the footsteps were gone.

    Charlie glowed with pride, and slid down the little slope in the dinosaur’s back. Sam caught him. Way above them, on the ceiling, the little crystal light fixtures looked like stars. All the smaller dinosaurs seemed to be bowing to him. And the big dinosaur’s smile didn’t look quite so evil. It looked like it might wink, too.

    “I love you, Sam” he said impulsively.

    Sam smiled, rubbed Charlie’s hair into a mess, and sat him comfortably in the dip in the dinosaur’s back. “Wait ‘till tomorrow” he said. “We’ll do the mummy exhibit.”

    1. Penney

      This made me smile. The relationship of the brothers came through strong and special. It’d be interesting to find out why they ran away from the aunt but await the uncles return

    2. Observer Tim

      This is engaging in a Huckleberry Finn kind of way. I’m curious why the boys ran away from their aunt, and why there were no signs of a hue and cry to find them; I think that says quite a bit about the family dynamic. You did a great job showing the camaraderie between the two brothers. 🙂

      I don’t recognize your name, so welcome to the site. Hopefully we’ll see more of your writing in future.

  11. JRSimmang

    MUD DUCK
    THE INVERSION, PT 2

    Clark never acted up when he was a kid. His mother looked after him and his brother, and he felt a sort of chivalric pride in never being the reason his mother raised her voice. His brother was the mischief maker. His brother also moved to Canada when he was seventeen and hadn’t talked to them since.

    Clark pulled up in front of the Dixon. He’d been on the road for ten hours, which was about the same amount of time it took his mother to get there when he was ten. She loved flowers, peonies in particular, so the summer road-trip that year was stop after stop of the central US “flower-powered beauty.” Clark learned the trees of Memphis that summer, and it’s the one place his mother requested to see one last time before the lymphoma suffocated her.

    It was 1:15 am, and the breeze was just as stagnant here as it was in Norman. His ex-wife’s house was empty, and he hadn’t come to terms with that yet. He knew his son was still out there. He knew he was alive.

    The moonlight sifted through the Camellia japonicas, dulling their natural reds and pinks. He walked up to the front door and remembered holding his mother’s hand as they did so long ago. His brother ran past them into the courtyard.

    “Dammit, Ronald, slow your ass- Hi, Darla,” Clark’s mom let go of his hand and embraced her friend. “How are you!”

    Darla had known Clark’s mom since high school, both of them graduating from Douglass High School. She worked the reception desk when she wasn’t coordinating exhibits.

    “Oh my god, Nat, is this your son?” She tousled Clark’s hair.

    “One of them. The good one,” his mother said through a chuckle. “The other one’s probably digging up the peonies by now.”

    Clark squeaked, “I’m gonna go find Ronny.”

    “Okay, dear.” His mom turned back to her conversation with Darla, and he let go of her hand. The butterflies were out, stopping to touch the flowers briefly before they flitted off, disturbing only as a kiss would the petals of another flower. He wove in between the trees of denim and stalks of lycra, looking for the shock of blond hair that played unruly on his head.

    “Umm, excuse me,” he asked a nice looking lady on a bench. “Have you seen my brother?”

    She pursed her lips and tilted her head. “I think,” she said slowly. “I think he may have gone to the bathroom.”

    He glanced behind him to where she was pointing. “Thank you, ma’am. Have a pleasant day,” he recited, hearing his mother’s voice in his head telling him how to be polite.

    He trotted off, opened the door, and was hit by a wall of silence. Except for soft, almost inaudible crying. Clark checked under the stall doors until he found his brother’s blue and orange tennis shoes. The crying was coming from his stall.

    “Ronny?” he whispered. “You in there?”

    “Go away, runt!”

    Clark stumbled backward, then tentatively tiptoed forward. “Ronny, what’s wrong?”

    “I said, ‘GO AWAY, RUNT!’” He hit the door, and Clark stumbled back again. He sat down on the courtesy chair he’d seen old men use to retie their shoes. He sat there for a few minutes. “Dad’s not coming back, Clark.”

    Clark had never known his dad, truly anyway. He knew of his dad… through pictures and stories. But he didn’t remember shaking his hand, pretending to shave with him in the bathroom mirror, sitting in his lap while he drove. But Ronald did.

    “I know, brother.”

    “No you don’t. Shut up.” Ronny sniffled and whimpered. “He’s not coming back, Clark. And, he’s never going to smile again or laugh again or anything ever again!”

    Clark didn’t feel sadness for his father. He did feel for the first time what it meant to yearn. It was in his stomach, then spread to his fingers, and he cried. He cried because his brother cried. He tried the door to the stall with tears streaking his face. It wasn’t locked, and his brother looked up, opened his arms, and they cried together.

    Clark stood across from the reception desk. His memories surfaced in his cheeks, and he could feel them pulse with flames of recollection.

    This place is a terrible place, he thought, and the guestbook caught his attention. He wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his shirt, pulled out his cell phone, and turned on the flashlight. His fingers ran down the list of names, signatures, well-wishes and they stopped.

    Natalie Goodman and Jared Heffler. His ex. His son.

    “What the hell,” he said out loud, and he felt his knees go limp. He slumped back onto the floor of the atrium and started to laugh. “She was here two days ago!”

    He laughed for several minutes before his laugh surrendered to a snigger which died out to a sigh. He looked out the window up to the moon, and his breath caught in his throat. He heard the watch alarm first, then his eyes focused on the fedora, then the shoulders. Someone was standing among the flowers.

    – JR Simmang

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a very emotional and atmospheric piece, JR; you did a great job integrating the flashback sequence with the story. I’m still wondering where everybody’s got to – it makes a very interesting sort of apocalypse with no bodies around. 🙂

      My style advisor suggests that the first paragraph (only) should be in the perfect tense (Clark had never, brother had been, etc.) to more effectively establish it as part of the scene-setting.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        It was an emotional ride for me also. The atmospheric touch of color was marvelous and intergrated well with your story. You know how to spin the words JR.

  12. TheAwkwardLlama

    A bit nihilistic, would love feedback!

    The best thing about being homeless in Washington D.C., the capital of this PIECE OF SHIT country, was all the free shit to do.
    The worst thing about being homeless was everything.
    Charlie surreptitiously swiped some little fucking crap tourist shit in the gift shop, folding it into his palm and casually putting his hand into his jeans pocket in a normal gesture kind of way. He didn’t want or need it, he just liked being able to do it. He watched a gaggle of high schoolers, the same age as him, picking through t-shirts and laughing. He sneered. Fucking posers.
    He walked past the White House twice. The second time he clung to the bars of the fence and stared at the mansion. A cop hit the bars with the back of his hand a couple times and woke him out of his reverie. “Move along, buddy.”
    Charlie sauntered away muttering, “Fucking pigs!”
    The Smithsonian, now that was a nice place. He liked the Museum of Natural History. He stood staring at the giant T-Rex in the foyer for a while. When he was maybe five, he loved dinosaurs. He used to make them crawl all over his dad, “Roar! Roar!” and they would pretend to bite his dad’s ears.
    Fuck his dad.
    Charlie went to the bathroom to calm down and splash some water in his face. He stared into his unfocused eyes in the mirror. He was very tired.
    He went into one of the bathroom stalls and climbed up on the toilet tank, balancing with his feet on the seat. Moments after closing his eyes he was asleep.
    The endless parade of museum-goers in and out did not disturb him, and when he woke he was alone. He sat very still, listening to the ambient noises of the museum outside the restroom.
    Charlie crept out. The halls were dark, lit only with the red glow of various exit signs. Somehow, however unlikely, he had been overlooked when the museum closed for the night.
    In the darkness, in the quiet, Charlie knelt down and began to sob. He was completely alone in the world.

    1. JRSimmang

      Llama, this story is a timeless one: Society’s outlier skirting in and out unnoticed by any and all. There’s great characterization here. We get a sense of who Charlie is quickly and we develop an overall impression of his perceptions. The story paces well, leaving little gaps between action. Thanks for using elevated diction, by the way.

      Housekeeping: As a matter of cursing, I come from the school that less is more, where the curse words work as punctuation.
      Rephrase “…normal gesture kind of way.” The old adage “Show Don’t Tell” holds true.
      The interaction with the cop at the White House fence could be ramped up. Have the cop use his or her truncheon. Also, combine that sentence with the one before. Alone it’s a sentence fragment.
      There’s a shift in narrative after “Fuck his dad.” There’s less anger and more subtlety. There’s more hopeless desire. There’s more struggle for understanding. The second part is where we truly develop our relationship with Charlie.
      Make sure to separate the paragraphs with a space.

      Thanks, Llama! The story works well!

    2. Observer Tim

      I see what you mean about nihilistic. You’ve created an interesting and distinct voice for Charlie. His disdain for the world is almost palpable. All in all a good story.

      I think JR’s advice pretty-much sums it up, so I really have nothing to add.

  13. ndokken

    (sorry, it’s a little over 500 words.)

    I should have picked truth from the game Truth or Dare I thought as I pushed through the revolving doors at the art museum. There was a distinct smell of old books and dusty newspapers that lingered in the air as I stopped at the foot of the grand marbled staircase and gazed up towards the main lobby. I couldn’t move. My legs were locked, my heart pounded like a cannonade and sweat dripped off the tips of my trembling fingers. I was about to commit a crime by spending the night. I was a good boy. I was raised with ethics and morals. What was my mother going to do with me if I got caught? I wanted to go home, but I could hear my friend Samantha who dared me cackling in my head while calling me a pussy.
    The struggle was real. I clasped my right hand around the cold polished brass railing and climbed the stairs, but each step that carried me closer to paying my admission fee was a step closer to my admission of guilt. But when I landed at the top I took a deep breath and stumbled towards the cashier who was an older woman with a boxed-shaped face. She reminded me of a pimply toad but with long silver hair that jutted out in every direction. Her eyes appeared to bulge out of her head as they watched me through the glass lenses that magnified them. She cleared her throat.
    “Museum closes in an hour,” she said with a raspy voice.
    “I-I know.”
    “You seeing the Monet exhibit?”
    “Um—“
    Her eyes twitched. “I take that as a no. Admission’s ten dollars!”
    I handed her a ten dollar bill. She cleared her throat again as her fingers punched away into a keyboard. Her eyes traveled into mine every other keystroke like she could sense I was going to do something. I stood there and waited for what seemed like an eternity before I heard the receipt print from her computer.
    She handed me the receipt. “There’s information at the bottom to register to win seasonal passes. Good night!”
    “Thank y—” I began to say but she spun around on her chair so her back was facing me before I could even finish.
    I wandered deep into the Chinese exhibit and admired the intricate details painted onto massive ancient scrolls encased inside glass until the PA system alerted patrons that the museum was closing in five minutes. I looked over my shoulders to ensure there weren’t any security guards or curators around before scurrying into the bathroom. I locked myself into the last stall I could find, but just as I stood on top of the toilet so my feet would remain hidden, the door squeaked open.
    “Sir, you need to leave in three minutes!” A man said in a thunderous tone. “The museum’s closing!”
    I thought maybe if I was silent he would think nobody was in there but he never left. I could feel him standing inside the doorway and I envisioned him resting his hand over a holster, ready to whip out his baton
    “Sir!” His voice echoed as his fist whaled against the stall door. “You gotta leave, now!”
    “Sorry. I’m almost done!” I said.
    “One minute!”
    I lowered my feet to the floor as softly as I could so they wouldn’t make a noise and pretended to throw my jeans up as if they were wrapped around my ankles. I took a deep breath and opened the stall door.
    He was standing there, tapping his black boots against the floor peering over my shoulders.
    “What,” he said, “too good to flush?”
    “Uh—“ I paused and looked behind me.
    “No need to! Any idea why you may have been crouching on top of the toilet?” He asked but gave me no time to respond before motioning his head towards the door. “Just get the hell out of here! Museum’s closed!”
    I darted out of that bathroom so fast that I didn’t even have to think twice about looking back. I just ran. I ran for my life!

    1. Observer Tim

      Very clever, Ndokken. It’s rare to see a guard in one of these stories who’s capable enough to catch the main character beforet they even get out of the bathroom. And the MC’s reactionis perfect for someone who really doesn’t want to be there in the first place. 🙂

      I don’t recognize your name, so welcome to the site! I hope we see more of your writing in future, and feel free to comment on others’ stories.

  14. Kerry Charlton

    ONE TOUCH OF VENUS

    Brian and Bill Douglas had planned this for weeks, Brian had made a sketch of the

    museum’s interior, being careful not to draw attention to himself. The brothers owned a

    commercial air conditioning firm and had a maintenance contract with the San Antonio

    Museum of the Silver Screen, located across the plaza from the Alamo. Their company

    had access and alarm codes to the building and were responsible for contracting the repair

    and maintenance needs of Silver Screen..

    Both brothers were legendary among the fairest San Antonio had to offer. Their

    plan was simple, Steal the replica of the most famous goddess ever, and bring her back to

    life. As far as sharing the beauty, both were accustomed to it.

    “ Laying in a cramped vent shaft is not my idea of fun.“ Bill said.

    “You want the finest, you have to work for it,” Brian answered. “It’s almost

    closing time, quit your damn complaining.”

    At one AM, they slid through the vent and dropped down on the floor of the

    mechanical room. A moving dolly sat in a storage closet as Brian decoded the alarm

    system, the body sensor and laser scanner. The service elevator sensor clicked off after

    Brian’s key was turned.

    “Look over there,” Bill said, as his eyes rested on Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra.

    “Do you think we ……”

    She can’t compare to what we’re after,” Brian answered.

    They arrived at their destination, Bill dropped to his knees, embracing her torso,

    “One night with you and I’d be ready to die.”

    “Quit being dramatic, we’ve work to do.”

    The boys worked furiously to release her from the floor,

    “Bill, there’s a steel shaft, buried in her feet. I think she’s bolted to the ceiling

    below, can you check it out for me?”

    “You can’t break her loose?”

    “Are you serious, idiot?”

    “Don’t ever call me that again, remember the last time.?”

    “You broke my noise, granite head. Get the hell down stairs or I’ll tell your

    secretary, you’re two-timing her.”

    Brian was alone with her, he kissed her cold lips, not once but twice, his arm

    slipped down to her breast automatically. He whispered an ancient Latin incantation in

    her ear and slipped a hand made Ouija board under a flowing toga that wrapped her.

    “If only you would come alive, I’d worship you for the rest of my life,” he said.

    ‘If this works, I’ll never tell Bill, let him get his own Venus’, he mused.

    The elevator silently opened,

    “Damn Brian, it’s a one inch bolt strap welded to the concrete ceiling. Can’t we

    wedge her off?”

    “We can’t risk it, we need to get out of here and come up with plan ‘B’.”

    Reluctantly, they left the store, at least Bill did. Brian lived downtown overlooking

    the River Walk in a three bedroom condo. After his brother left, he ran through the streets

    of San Antonio. Reaching the entrance, breathless, he slipped his key in the lock and

    opened his door.

    From the master suite, “Is that you Brian?”

    His heart soared as he answered,

    “Yes darling.”

    “Bring the wine and hurry.”

    “I’ll be right there Ava.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tim. I put myself in Bill’s shoes when I wrote this. I didn’t want to make too much of a fool of myself. My older btother’s name is Bill and he’s kind of like the Bill in the story, always present but rarely gets the good stuff in life.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you JR for stopping by. It is indeed the fabulous Miss. Gardner. Good catch. The clues were the title, the fact she was an actress who played Venus [1948 movie] and of course her name at the end. In my lowly opinion, there was only one other actress in the forties and fifties that stood in her league, we can’t foget Rita Hayworth.

        1. Penney

          Dear Mr. Charlton,
          Good day to you Sir. As always your stories are a pleasure and this is no different. Respectfully, I have questions. The story; the characters, the questionable use of, I assume, a manican, and brotherly competition was well worth the smile left on my face but, what was the use of mentioning a random dolly in the corner? Why if they have full access and codes must they crawl through the duckwork? I don’t know how short Ava is or how tall the men are but “falling to knees to wrap arms around torso”, I thought a child or miget. Did they leave a museum or a ” store”? In the end, Brian got what he wanted but it seemed as though it ended too neatly. Your description of San Antonio was good, I could so picture it, like all your locations of choice. Thank you

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Hi Penny, Mr. Charlton was my Father, please use Kerry. I love getting construcive critiques. I should have been prepared more on this story, for if they managed to steal Venus, all clues woud point to the brothers. There are two clues the statues were marble and full sized, the mention of the freght dolly in the mechanical room and the cold kisses.

            If I dropped to my knees and stood straight from there. I could wrap her torso from there. Being across from the Alamo, it would be more likely a store. There is a House Of Wax across the plaza or I would have used the reference.
            Also, I like your thoughts about the ending. Think how funny if Ava Gardner and Brian had an argument and she left to look for his brother. Thanks so much for the review.

            We’re celebrating here, The World Heritage has selected the Alamo and her four sister missions as a part of World Heritage. Come see us!

  15. Pete

    I was in the stall waiting for the museum to empty when I made the mistake of checking my email.

    Two new messages. Ugh.

    The last thing I needed as I sat there, knees to chest in a surprisingly pleasant smelling bathroom was rejection. But there it was, glaring back at me at my most desperate moment.

    The William Charles Randolph museum is located just off of Route 58 in rural central Virginia. Best know for the novel, “Kemper Place”, Randolph was a Virginia boy who spent his childhood in the tobacco fields dreaming up stories under the unrelenting summer sun. Stories that would lead him to a place amongst the greats. Fellow Virginian Woodrow Wilson quoted him during his inauguration. Mr. Randooph’s words were buried in the archives. He’d done okay for a farm boy.

    But enough with the history lesson. This was about me. And it was in the old barn where he’d penned most of his popular work that I’d planned to make my mark. Sure, the plank boards had been tightened, concrete poured and polished, and ducts had been cut in to provide the ample chill that now ran up my back, but it was still this place. I could feel it.

    Silence. I killed my phone and made my move. My steps echoed, out of place at this tranquil hour. There were so many reasons to question whatever I was doing, but I’d written myself mad. Now rejection and desperation were clicking at my heels.

    I’d read an interview, of how Mr. Fuller found a barn owl in the rafters. He named it Redford and claimed that he often hooted his thoughts as the famous author clacked away at greatness. Hearing the hoots now, I nearly hopped out of my pants.

    So thoughtful, these people, who’d piped in Redford over the sound system, and apparently left him on to call into the night. I swallowed hard and collected myself. This was no time to get skittish.

    The plan had seemed so masterful in plotting. Stay overnight, work on my novel at the cherry wood desk were Mr. Fuller hammered out Kemper. But now, stepping over the velvet rope proved more difficult than I anticipated. The metal pole hit the floor with a clang, and I froze, mostly expecting to be taken by my own devices.

    Only Redford’s hoot steadied my nerve. I set up on the desk. I had some notes and what was left of my frazzled mind. I didn’t know what I expected to happen. A spark of inspiration. Divine intervention. A story to tell my critique group. My own novel was the seventh in a series of unhealthy perseverance. I’d been rejected by so many agents and publishers that I could wall paper my apartment floor to ceiling several times if I ever dared to be so reckless as to print them off.

    I got cranking. My laptop fired up and my fingers got moving. I was struck by a rod of brilliance, and just as I’d hoped it came gushing. I typed, at warp speed. Words became paragraphs, pages became new pages. My heartbeat became one with the hoots in the night.

    “Delete it.”

    I screamed. Then spun around so fast that I fell out of the chair. My foot caught the velvet rope and the other pole collapsed on my head. I moved it and screamed again. Because I was staring at William Charles Randolph.

    “Please,” he said, gesturing to the chair. “Try not to damage it. It served me well.”

    “Oh, Mr. Randolph. I mean…of course. But…how?”

    “Shall we drag this out or produce something worth reading?”

    I hopped up, looking back once more to the apparition before me. He wore a white shirt, gray vest. Pants and boots. His wire framed lenses hung delicately on his nose. But a desperate writer can be a fool. And I was as desperate as any fool who’d ever taken up with such a tormented endeavor. I did as I was told.

    “Okay, ready?”

    I nodded.

    “In the days of regret that followed the incident I was never…”

    The first agent basically begged for my manuscript. From there a bidding war ensued. Regret and Surrender went on to sell over a million copies. The film adaptation was a blockbuster hit. It won an Oscar for crying out loud. The rest was a breeze. I sold my series and it did well.

    Two years later, I returned to the museum to do the tour and pay a silent thanks. A chill came over me as I passed by that desk. Redford still hooted away. Some fans recognized me and I signed autographs and posed for pictures. When I turned to leave I felt a stare pull me back

    “So things are going well?”

    A security guard smiled like he knew me. He was old, balding. Looked like a plumber. I nodded, my picture-posing confidence melting into a sheepish shrug.

    “Yes, thank you.”

    Wait. I spun around again. The guard produced a pair of wire rimmed glasses. My mouth fell open. He smiled, and with a cock of his head, he said, “Here, take this down. I want half.”

    1. Penney

      Pete, this was enjoyable but sorry, a little jumpy. There is a spot I believe needs quotation marks, a word or so that needs fixing, and a question or two. I am assuming the ghost was a guard or vica versa? Also the text at the beginning is a publisher rejection not relationship rejection? Does the museum really exist, if so sounds interesting. Thank you for a nice read

      1. Pete

        Hey Penny, thanks for reading, sorry if it wasn’t clear but this was all about writer rejection. A struggling writer and a desperate plan. The security guard was the “ghost” And no, I made up the famous author and the museum. Just pure silliness…Thanks!

    2. Reaper

      This was a brilliantly modern take on things authors used to do that we can’t really anymore. I imagined this as your MCs version of hopping a train to find inspiration. The twist was just so smile worthy too.

    3. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely and gentle “ghost muse” story. I love the way the ghost tells him to delete what he’s already written and then talks him through something better. 🙂

      One question: who is Mr. Fuller? I’m guessing he’s a werpo, but otherwise the reference is lost on me.

    4. JRSimmang

      Pete, I’d like to echo the other sentiments thus far. This is an easy-reading piece, the MC instantly likeable. HIs frustrations are readily apparent, and I think we can all relate to the struggle of inspiration. Nice twist at the end, by the way.

      Housekeeping: “I typed, at warp speed.”- Would be more powerful as two separate sentences.
      Is the velvet rope at the desk, or is it blocking off the entire writing area?
      The “history lesson” didn’t fit the narrative for me.

      1. JRSimmang

        It submitted before I was finished.
        The “history lesson” didn’t fit the narrative for me. Perhaps, the history could be interspersed through the action

        Overall, I was a satisfied reader.

  16. jhowe

    She thought I’d been hiding in the bathroom and she said I was in deep trouble. I squirmed a bit while I sat on a wooden chair in the security office. I wasn’t about to tell her I fell asleep on the toilet. I took a peek at her blue green eyes.

    “Can I ask your name?” I said.

    She pointed at the name tag on her blue uniform shirt above her badge. It said M. Slate. She looked up a few times as she filled out the paperwork. I decided to play it cool.

    “I’ll confess to having an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.” I said.

    “How’s that?” she said dotting an i and crossing a t.

    “The boomerang collection; it’s second to none.”

    “And how many boomerangs were you hoping to steal?”

    “I just wanted to touch one, to throw one in the great hall and catch it as the aborigine’s did.” I looked directly into those eyes. “Is it Mary?”

    “No.”

    “And the coal mine exhibit,” I said. “How many people can say they were in a genuine coal mine?”

    “It’s fake,” she said.

    “Is it Molly?”

    “No.”

    “Your eyes are a very unique shade of, hmm, I can’t decide if they’re aqua green or teal blue.”

    “They’re blue. Just plain blue.”

    “Plain is not an adjective I’d use to describe them,” I said running out of ideas.

    She looked at me. Was there a bit of a spark there, just a hint? “Are you trying to get yourself out of this mess you’re in?” she said.

    “Is it working?”

    She went back to her paperwork.

    “Is it Melody?”

    She looked up sharply but said nothing.

    I should have known she’d have a musical name. “Well Melody, I wouldn’t object if you asked me to accompany you on your rounds. Just for a little while.” She was so very pretty. “That way you’d be assured I wouldn’t try to escape.”

    “I’m certain that wouldn’t be allowed.”

    “Can I be frank?” I said.

    “Please.”

    “I fell asleep in the bathroom. You know, in the stall.”

    “What about your thirst for knowledge?”

    “It’s more of a general curiosity really,” I said.

    “Is that so?” The set of her jaw seemed a little softer.

    “I came here to see the King Tut mask but it was kind of lame so I had some lunch and walked around and went in the bathroom and fell asleep from sheer boredom.”

    “This place has been known to do such things.” She picked up the report and sent it through the shredder beside the desk. “You’re free to go.”

    I didn’t go. I told her, “I actually enjoyed this encounter in a weird sort of way.”

    She stood and adjusted her gun belt. The holster rested on her slim hip. “It’s required that we carry guns.” She shrugged. “I hate them.”

    “Thank you for not shooting me.”

    “Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.”

    “Can I maybe call you some time?” I said.

    “What would you say… if you called?”

    This threw me a bit; I had nothing. “Are there security cameras in here?” I said.

    “The place is loaded with them.”

    “I figured.” I regrouped. “So, Melody, if I were to call, I’d probably see if you were free for coffee or something.”

    “And if I said yes, would you call me Michelle?”

        1. Kerry Charlton

          jhowe, a real winner here, dialogue is masterful. The story line is wam, and fuzzy. One of your best, because it is one scene and done beautifully.

    1. Observer Tim

      I love it, JHowe. Your MC is cool as a cucumber; it’s nice to see it pay off. The natural flow of the dialogue is very well rendered, and I can easily see this sort of conversation happening. 🙂

      1. jhowe

        I forgot about your aversion for semicolons, or at least their misuse or overuse. I’m glad I got lucky with this one. They’re so hard to get right. And while we’re at it, can I use ‘their’ when referring to a semicolon?

  17. cosi van tutte

    “Four hundred and ninety-eight. Four hundred and ninety-nine. Five hundred.” Sarah Wellins took a deep breath and exhaled. “Gracious Peterson.”

    A cool, rough hand touched her shoulder. “I am here.”

    “Is it safe?”

    He held onto her shoulder. “The guards are upstairs right now.”

    “No one else is down here?”

    “We are alone.”

    “Good. Let’s go.”

    He released her shoulder. “Sarah.”

    She looked back at him, even though the bathroom was too dark to see anything or anyone. “I have to do this.”

    “I know.”

    “You can’t stop me.”

    “I know.”

    “Good. Come on. Let’s get this done before it turns to day again.” She opened the door and stepped into the hallway. The overhead chandelier had been dimmed. So, there was light and there was dark.

    Sarah walked down the hall towards the Main Exhibition Room. Gracious followed her in silence.

    ***

    They entered the Main Exhibition Room. The central fountain was dark and dry. “Are we still safe, Gracious?”

    “Yes. Sarah, if I may—”

    “You may not. I know what you’re going to say.”

    “Then, you should know that I am right.”

    “Wrong. Come on. I don’t like standing still. It makes me feel uneasy.” She followed the signs to the Fabulous Gems Exhibit.

    She stopped outside the open entrance. “Is it safe?”

    “No.”

    “What?”

    He flared out his leathery wings in frustration. “None of this is safe, Sarah.”

    She folded her arms across her chest.

    “It’s a trap. You will be caught and captured and you will never see your homeland again.”

    “Is this truth or are you trying to frighten me?”

    He smiled, but he didn’t look happy. “Nothing frightens you.” His wings flattened against his back. “I know you, Sarah. But they know you too. They know that you will do anything to go home. Even steal the Myst Heartache Ruby.”

    “It will open the portal and I will go home. They promised.”

    “So, they did. But, Sarah. A promise for me is a binding thing. I must keep it and I will keep it. They have no bindings. They can and they do break their promises. Trust me, Sarah. I know.”

    She unfolded her arms. “I know.” She looked into the darkened room. “So, what should I do?”

    “We should go home.”

    “No!”

    “We should go home and find a better way. A way that doesn’t involve dancing to their tune.”

    “But…” She glanced back at the opened doorway. “I want to try.”

    He took her hand and held it tight. “Sarah. We will find a better way. You and me. Believe me. Trust me.”

    “But if I don’t bring it to them…”

    “I’ll protect you. I promise.” He shot a nervous look down the hallway. “The guards are coming. We have to get out of here. Now.”

    She held onto his hand. “Then, let’s go.”

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a lovely story of a teen princess lost and her guardian critter (daemon, imp, faerie?). I hope Sarah follows Gracious’s advice, or at least escapes the trap. This strikes me as a scene carefully excised from a YA series or a Magical Girl story. Either way the story and the characters have real potential. It would be a good one to run with. 🙂

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m with everybody here, it’s fascinating to read and the visual effect I had, absolutely amazed me. I was right there, willing to help. Wonderful….

  18. WritingKittenOfLoki

    Hey everyone, I hope you all are used to me randomly disappearing for a weeks every now and then.

    Bad Idea

    When I was young – well, younger – I was desperately curious, and would get these really bad ideas. Like the time I tried to rob a gas station, because I wanted to know what the inside of a jail cell looked like. Yeah, stuff like that.

    Anyway, the reason I’m bringing this up is because, right now, I am hiding – hunkered down, if you will – in the bathroom of the local Ancient History Museum. The doors have just been locked behind the last visitors of the night; and I am about to go explore. For a very long time I have wondered what museums were like at night after everyone is gone. So tonight, I finally going to find out!

    Ok, here I go. It’s dark. It’s a good thing I brought my flashlight! Ohhh, the shadows are so eerie.

    Thankfully, the town is so small and trusting that there are no guards; just cameras that are only checked after break-ins and such. Why does such a small town have such a huge museum?

    Ok. First, the Dinosaur Hall. Wow, look at the T-Rex! The light goes right through him.

    Oh! I know. I’m gonna go to the Ancient Egypt room!

    Look at Anubis! It’s almost like it’s moving. Ok. Spooky. I’ll head over to a different room now.

    Why is my heart beating so fast? I’m n-not s-c-ared.

    I think I just heard something coming from the Ancient China room.

    W-ha-at w-w-as t-hat!?

    I’m gonna hide behind the pillar!

    What is it? Is it gonna get me? Is it real? Maybe it’s just my imagination.

    Wait! It’s just me! Sometimes I forget that I have delusions – or illusions – or whatever it’s called.

    Ok. I’m good now.

    Umm… did that wolf just blink? It definitely just blinked. It did it again! Ok. I’m officially freaked out! Ok. Just back away slowly. Ow! Oh it’s just the pillar.

    Um, the T-Rex was not standing like that earlier… and it for sure wasn’t moving – but it’s moving now!

    Run! Run! Run! Tyrannosaurus Rex can’t run very fast! So I just gotta run faster, right?

    No! I won’t make it! I can hear it behind me! Help! help! No one’s here! Oh no! This was a really bad idea!

    Y-y-eah. B-bad Id-d-dea.

    1. cosi van tutte

      😀

      “Like the time I tried to rob a gas station, because I wanted to know what the inside of a jail cell looked like.” <- Yep. That counts as a bad idea.

      I love the young voice in this one. It made me smile.

      1. WritingKittenOfLoki

        Thank you Cosi! 🙂
        I had fun thinking of other “bad ideas” that he/she (I’m leaving that up to the reader) might have had.
        I’m glad it made you smile. 🙂

    2. Reaper

      Oh Kitten. Used to, but we still don’t forgive you for it. 🙂 This was amazing because it did have a young voice, and the jail cell line was awesome. It is also the reason I don’t do things like this, because my mind starts telling me exactly these things.

    3. Observer Tim

      I love the visceral sense of immediate fear that you created here, Kitten, with the character standing on that knife-edge of panic. Great job capturing it, and a really fun scary story. 🙂

      For some reason (probablly age-related) this reminded me of Don Knotts, who made a career out of being scared in this way.

  19. jkharrison

    I awoke slowly. Everything fuzzed and blurred before me for several long moments. I reached to clear the sleep from my eyes, but my hand would not obey me. I tried again, and again not so much as a finger twitched.

    Panic crept in. Something in the back of my mind warned this felt familiar, and the warning only fed the panic into a fury. I ordered my arm, hand, fingers—anything—to comply, but the rest of my body seemed careless of its crisis.

    I wanted to scream, and terror blotted everything out as I realized I couldn’t do that, either. I couldn’t so much as draw breath.

    I couldn’t know how long I lay there, my body unmoving and my mind paralyzed by fear, but as nothing happened, I slowly fought my way out of fear’s grip. What to do now? Not even my eyes would move about in my head. I could see the darkness wrapping around me was not complete. There was a pale light coming from several directions, making strange shadows of my surroundings. I caught shines of something around me from my peripheral vision. If only I could turn my head—at least roll and eye.

    Steps brushed along the floor, closer, closer. A young dark head appeared directly over mine. Hair hanging around her face, dark eyes shining, a young woman stared down at me. She was bent over at an odd angle, her hands floating before her.

    No, not floating. They were resting on something.

    A case, the insistent voice in the back of my mind offered.

    Yes, that sounded correct, familiar. I was encased.

    “Xin Zhui.” The woman above me whispered my name with an odd accent. A peasant, perhaps. “What are your secrets?” Her face softened as she peered down at me. “What has kept you so—“ She glanced up, spit out something that had the tone of a curse and darted back into the shadows.

    “Stop!” A man’s voice called and two more sets of steps thudded past me.

    As the steps faded away, I was left to the silence and confinement of my own body. Why was I in some kind of encasement? Even as I could not fathom an answer, I felt the truth of it. I felt that I’d been here before. Yes. I’d been encased before, imprisoned in my own unmoving body before. Yes.

    The cold dread followed in the old wake of panic. I had a feeling that every time I awoke it was encased and paralyzed. Despite the new terror sinking into me, I realized my chest was not filled with a quickened breath or nervous pulse—no, my chest was hollow and still.

    Approaching voices pulled me from my horror and despair.

    “That’s the second one this week. Fifth one since we opened the display.”

    “They hide in the bathroom. I told Gan he needed to be more thorough after closing.”

    The two men who chased the young woman stopped beside me. One peered down, curiosity edging back the disinterest on his face as he examined something. “ ‘Lady of Dai. Han Dynasty. Died 163 BC’. What do they want with her?”

    “They think her preservation is the answer to eternal youth or afterlife or she’s magic…something. I’ll tell Gan again.”

    The man studied me for another moment and then they walked away, their voices fading, leaving me to the silence of my prison.

    1. Reaper

      This is both creepy as hell and well done. I figured out the perspective early but that made your MC so sympathetic that I forgot to breathe. Wonderful stuff and choosing to tell it from that point of view was kind of inspired, worked so well for the prompt and the story.

    2. Observer Tim

      This story ties into one of my greatest fears: so-called “locked in” syndrome, where one is fully conscious but unable to interact with the world. It seems the MC (Main Corpse) has been doing it so long it is only frustrating. I think that would literally drive me insane, only nobody would know because I couldn’t cry or scream.

      Fantastic job creating the atmosphere, and a very clever concept. 🙂

      1. jkharrison

        Thank you. I thought the re-realization each time might stave off the insanity a little. It’s definitely not something I ever want to experience.

    3. JRSimmang

      JK, you’ve forced me to do some research, and I’m glad you did. What an interesting tale! The POV serves the story well, capturing some of the essence of a perpetual prisoner. Lady Dai lived an opulent lifestyle, from what I can gather, and this certainly wouldn’t be an easy fate for her to accept.

  20. Observer Tim

    WANDA’S STORY

    “Calm down, Eric. You’re safe.”

    After a while he stopped shaking and started sobbing. Jenna looked at me, concern clouding her features.

    “It was just a movie, Wanda. What happened?”

    “It was Night at the Museum, Jen. I should have warned you not to take him there.”

    “Why? Doesn’t he like Ben Stiller?”

    “No, not that. Eric freaks out at museums; so do I. Do you remember when I told you about Uncle Roger and Aunt Steffie?”

    “Yeah, that was pretty horrible.”

    “Well this is how that story ended…”

    It was Eric’s and my seventh birthday; we’d been with Roger and Steffie for almost a year. They decided to take us to the museum, mostly because we’d been bugging about it for a couple of weeks.

    It took a while but we found a spot with a big crowd and promptly got lost in it. That’s where we ditched them. Not long after they had the staff turning the place upside-down to find us, but nobody thought to look in the employee bathroom. In the cabinet under the sink.

    We stayed hidden until the big lights went out and only the emergency lighting was on. Then we snuck out to try and find a guard.

    A museum is a pretty spooky place at night, and Eric was especially nervous. He kept saying the animals were going to come to life and eat us.

    I had to drag him away from the room of statues of naked people; he just stood there whimpering and I can understand why. He said Roger was in there and coming to get him.

    It was worse when we got to the Pleistocene exhibit. We’d learned on the tour that that was caveman times, not Play-Doh times. The little tiny horse was cute, but the big animals were scary, especially the saber-tooth tiger.

    We were doing okay until I heard a snorting sound from behind us. I looked back and there was a pair of big shiny eyes, just staring. And then they blinked.

    Eric started turning but I stopped him. I told him to hide while I picked up a rock. He did as he was told for once and soon I was bravely facing down the monster.

    I threw the big rock; it got about halfway to him and hit the floor with a crumply sound like cloth. The monster jumped back, then came forward and sniffed at it. Then he looked up at me.

    I wet myself.

    He took advantage of my fear and jumped at me. Before I knew it I was lying on my back crying while his big sloppy tongue licked my face. Then a light shone onto us and I could see he was a big shaggy dog.

    After that came a woman’s voice, saying “Who’s there?” It was followed shortly by “Down Shep!” and the dog got off me.

    The woman was the guard, and she was nice. She helped me up, then got Eric and me some ice cream from one of the vending machines. When I told her about Roger and Steffie she made some phone calls and the police showed up and we got taken to the hospital, and that’s when we knew we’d really escaped.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Great story Tim, written with precison, entertaining and lots of imagination. Especially liked the shaggy dog and wet pants bit. I’ve been there but not in a museum doing it. Have you noticed anything? I’ve got my user name back. Goodbye Geezer Muse!

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Kerry. This is a follow-up to “Wanda’s Letter” from Letters to a Lost One in January.

        Don’t say goodbye forever to Geezer Muse; you may yet need him again. But it’s really nice to have you back in your own suit… 🙂

      1. Observer Tim

        You’re very welcome, Nicki. I enjoy writing about Wanda and Eric, but it can be hard because the storyline is kind of odd and there is still at least one reveal that’s been hinted at.

        I want to bring in Silent Stalker, but the last few prompts haven’t really hit those characters right, either. And I’m still looking for a way to bring in the pirates, too. Almost did it on the Karaoke prompt, but hospitals and drugs got the better of me. 🙂

    2. WritingKittenOfLoki

      Wow O.T. I think my heart rate sped up considerably when they heard the snorting.
      I’ll have to go back and read “Wanda’s letter.”
      I found this really powerful. I know what it’s like to live with someone you want to escape from (Though my story is different than theirs) so I was able to really relate to the characters.

    3. Reaper

      That’s a powerful story. I had forgotten the first part and this hit me right between the eyes when I suddenly understood what they were hiding for. I have to admit, my bad reactions to Night at the Museum are Stiller based. So that line killed me.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reaper. I wanted to make sure I mentioned the older prompt because the story taken separately has a different feel from the combined one.

        I didn’t mind the first Night movie, but like so many I wish they’d stopped there. I’m glad I changed the Stiller line; it was originally going to reference Robin Williams’s suicide but (a) that was too long and (b) he had a relatively minor role in the movie.

    4. JRSimmang

      OT, the turning point for me was the single line: “I wet myself.” I spent an inordinate amount of time pondering the significance and the stark loneliness of it, and I can’t say enough how powerful it was for me. Don’t know why.

      At any rate, I would like to see this as a longer piece, diving further into the beauty of deliverance (and I’m not talking about Burt Reynolds).

  21. ReathaThomasOakley

    Night in the historic house museum

    “For the family,” she’d told herself night after night as she waited for the security guard to make his rounds outside, huddled in what the docents called the upstairs privy. “They most likely used a chamber pot pushed under the beds,” she’d tried to tell the crew of elderly ladies who volunteered every afternoon. After her first few attempts at correcting their stories, she’d given up and let them say whatever they wanted. The house would never be an accredited museum, and the board, the people who hired her, were content to perpetuate the myths associated with the big yellow house, once the home of the First Family of this tiny central Florida town, content to pride themselves on saving a structure with no historical significance, its gardens and groves now a city park.

    Tonight she’d boldly left all the downstairs lights burning and busied herself as she waited for the guard. Tonight she didn’t need to hide, she had a reason for being here hours after the house, and even the park, were officially closed.

    She’d waited for this time since before she’d been hired nearly a year before, this job part of an elaborate plan she’d promised her mother on her deathbed she’d put into action. Preparing had taken longer than she imagined, years longer, but she was close to finally having answers to questions that plagued her family for generations.

    Until her mother’s death she’d had no knowledge of her extended family, of her grandmother, her Aunt Myrtis, or her cousin, The Girl. She also hadn’t known about Homer D. Hightower, the man who’d built this house in 1885, and his great sin. She was here to right a terrible wrong.

    She pretended not to hear the security guard walk up the wooden front steps and open the front door.

    “Miss?” She jumped at his voice. “Oh, didn’t mean to scare you,” nice man she thought, retired grocer she’d heard, “I just seen the lights and…”

    “Oh, I’m so sorry. I owe you an apology. I should have let someone know I’d be working late. Trying to get the house ready for the holidays. We’re doing a poinsettia theme this year and I just don’t seem to have time during the day.” She held up an armful of artificial red branches. “What do you think?”

    “Looks nice, but you really should lock the doors if you’re working late.”

    “I guess I got caught up in what I was doing and time slipped away. Did you know poinsettias are from Mexico, got brought in by the ambassador named Poincett, aren’t really the right thing for the house, Mrs. Hightower wouldn’t have even known what they were, but they’re just so lovely…”

    “That’s mighty interesting, but I gotta go. You lock this door, and if I see lights again, I’ll know it’s you. Night.” And, he was gone. She’d learned people tended to leave when there were too many facts floating around. Now, everything was perfect, no more hiding between his rounds, no more midnight searches for what she knew must be hidden in this house. As she quickly gathered up the ribbons and fake flowers her smile was so huge that had the guard been looking, he would have seen two tiny scars where her extra teeth had been.

    (As a former history museum director, I was excited about this prompt, and about reintroducing The Girl’s north Florida cousin. 550 words.)

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, this story is great Reatha, and a wonderful tease. Now I’m wondering what dark southern secret she’s going to find. I especially love the line “people tended to leave when there were too many facts floating around.” I’ve seen that too. Nice to put that experience as a museum director to good use. 🙂

      My red pencil says “…questions that had plagued…” (It’s very rare to find any errors in your stories, so I figured I had to point it out).

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      I agree with Tim: you’re baiting us! You cranked the tension up well bit by bit and set an interesting premise- for what? What’s the secret? Arrrgh,,,,

      Last sentence was best. Awesome!

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thank you, I’m hoping next week’s prompt will work for continuing this. The extra teeth are a tie back to some earlier stories about a Girl and her extended family.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Reatha!

      Yay! Another story about The Girl’s family. You really need to collect all of these stories into one collection. That would be awesome. 🙂

    4. Reaper

      Wonderful continuation. I am glad to see this story make a return. As these always do this left me craving more. I also fell in love with the line about people leaving when there are too many facts around.

    5. JRSimmang

      Reatha, this story entranced me, the sounds of the TV disappearing into the dialogue here. I agree with OT: this is certainly a tease. I like the ramble of the two characters. Normally, comma splices drive me crazy, but here, where the intent is to scare off a guard with knowledge vomit, it’s perfect.

  22. Dana Cariola

    The sickening odor of industrial urinal cakes, took my breath away, as I fought back my gag reflex. I reached down into my backpack, searching for a piece of cloth to place over my face, while I waited for, just the right moment to spring into action. Slowly, I stretched my legs down, onto the tile floor, and listened. The nightwatchman had just checked the corridor. He’s Old Spice; still lingering behind, like a “bread crumb trail.” alerting me to his whereabouts.
    Blindly, I searched the bottom of my backpack for the bundle of Black Sharpie Ink Pens. The dare was simple. Deface as many paintings, as I could in the museum, without being caught. Do this. And, there’s $1000.00 jackpot to collect.

    “Easier said than done!” Harry mumbled beneath his breath. He pulled the heavy door open, and slide the dentist’s mirror tool, outside. Certain he was alone. Harry went to work. The rubber Hamster mask he had chosen to wear, would be a big hit on the news station coverage of the crime, the next morning.

    “The paintings were copies. Worthless, actually. The insurance would cover the cost for replacements. So, Where’s the harm?” Harry tried to convince himself, that this deed was innocuous.

    It had taken only 1 full hour to complete the task. The surveillance camera’s captured everything. Harry had went from copy to copy, and drew large Handlebar mustaches on everything, and everyone. The morning news cast, ran the video surveillance tapes, over and over. Hoping someone would call in to the station with any tips about the crime.

    The county had just opened up the museum, last week. The paintings commemorated the local hunters, that had been hired, throughout the ages, to control the population of Bucks and White Tail does, that had helped themselves to the vegetation, growing on the landscapes of the resident’s of the county.

    The headlines read: “Nature’s Hit Squad.”

    1. regisundertow

      Hah, cheeky. Very Operation Mayhem, interesting concept.
      Couple of criticisms; there’s a viewpoint switch that confused me. Until the end of the story, I thought there were two characters involved, the narrator and Harry.
      Some unnecessary “had’s” here and there. Also, I’d drop the quotation marks from “bread crumb trail”, as it makes the reader think you’re saying it tongue-in-cheek. This is not a bad thing in itself, but it tends to pull the user out of the story.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice take, Dana. The switch in perspective threw me off, as did the punctuation occasionally- I’m a real stickler for well-placed commas (first line was great, but it would be even better without the commas). Also I wouldn’t have minded more background information- what kind of dare and between whom? Who hates the pictures so much to pay grand for their “enhancement”?

      But overall, good job. Keep it coming!

    3. Observer Tim

      This is clever, Dana. I like the concept of sneaking in and defacing the paintings; given that they’re copies it’s a moderately harmless prank. All in all, very clever and enjoyable. 🙂

      The commas. There are way too many of them. I would suggest taking them all out and limiting yourself to one or two a paragraph. As it is they break the narrative flow quite severly in some places.

    4. Reaper

      regis and Tim hit all of my comments. I mean I was thinking pretty much those things. Except the comma thing. I believe they are lovely things and like garlic those who say there is too much don’t understand how to live. But that just means I’m a crack addict telling another one that we don’t have a problem. Wonderful story.

  23. ShamelessHack

    I push and the door opens. It’s been open all the time.
    Poking my head out, I look to the left and then the right.
    Nothing is moving in the semi-darkness.
    There are guards in the building–I know it. But I can sense that they aren’t close by.
    I take a few tentative steps out of the bathroom and peer down the wide gallery. I’m tempted to stop and touch many things, but my objective is clear, my goal well-defined.
    There’s little time to waste, and I hurry to the end of the corridor and make a left. There, in the center of the wide, dim hall is my objective. It towers twenty feet high and dominates the gallery. I hold my breath in disbelief.
    Then, fearing nothing, I run towards it…

    “How’d he get in here?” Morris, the Head of Museum Security shakes his head in a mixture of irritation and disbelief.
    Eddie shrugs in his newly pressed uniform. “Must have come in yesterday and hid somewhere. And from the looks of things, he’s been very busy.”
    Morris looks down and chuckles in irony. “He’s passed out. I would be too if I worked on this all night.”
    Eddie shrugs again. “Poor guy.”
    Finally Morris bends down and gently picks up the beagle, who has fallen asleep near the chewed-up left foot of the immense T-Rex skeleton.
    Nestled in his arms, the dog opens his eyes for second, licks the man’s face, and goes back to his dreams of triumph.

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Good one, ShamelessHack! You totally threw me; I hadn’t seen that end coming. Concise and to the point; a big story in few words. Thumbs up.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is beautiful, Hack. Every dog has his day, and this one managed to get the bone. It may be made of some kind of polymer, but that doesn’t blunt the success. I am thoroughly impressed. 🙂

  24. Ananfal

    People don’t understand what fear is. Not until they’ve faced the terror of complete darkness, only the gasping of your ragged breaths in your ears. The taste of metal on their tongue as fear sweats out of their pores, rank and rancid in the still air. The agonizing weakness that fills their legs, locks their knees in place until they can’t move a muscle, heart clenching and throbbing as if someone gripped it and squeezed. That’s what true fear is.

    It’s what I felt, as I heard stone scrape against stone, my blood pumping loud enough to be audible, the light of my flashlight trembling as my hand jerked and spasmed around it. I dropped it, watched the light bounce and touch the floor, rolling obnoxiously loudly until it hit something and stopped dead.

    There was a moment of stillness, of silence. Then a small shuffle, and the light moved, turning to point towards me. I couldn’t even shield my eyes from the brightness. The light blinded me, and my eyes watered.

    I tried to draw in a breath, but it only came out as a wheezing sob. All of a sudden I was shaking, the terror and adrenaline flooding into my bloodstream, coursing through my body, rendering me helpless.

    My heart was stuttering now, unable to keep a steady beat as the light grew brighter. The tears were flowing freely down my cheeks, splashing down onto my shirt. I was breathing faster now, my breaths getting shallower, each one as desperate and thin as the next one.

    My heart accelerated, my lungs beginning to give out under the strain. I was breathless, noiseless whimpers emerging as my throat closed off from sheer panic.

    Black dots were crowding my vision. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breathe.

    Darkness.

    Sheer, utter darkness.

    *Special News Break* “Last night, a body was found dead on the second floor of the Natural History Museum. The body was identified as the late Evan Roberts, a recently graduated college student who had taken the night shift at the museum due to it’s proximity to his apartment. The autopsy was done by the city coroner, who placed the cause of death as a heart attack caused by a panic attack. It seems as though Mr. Roberts had been doing his rounds on the second floor when a break in occurring, causing Mr. Roberts’ panic attack. The thief or thieves have not yet been found, and the only thing disturbed at the scene of the crime was a large stone urn that was part of the exhibit scheduled to be opened next week. The lid had been removed and was found a few feet away from Mr. Roberts’ body. The contents of the urn have yet to be released. Questions remain as to whether the exhibit will still be opening next week in the light of this terrible crime, and if the crime has anything to do with protests being staged worldwide against the theft of artifacts from foreign countries.” *Special News Break*

    1. Observer Tim

      This is good, Ananfal. I love the way you portrayed the MC’s building fear leading up to his death, and how you left it (largely) open as to what was really going on. Great work!

      I assume the emergncy lights had been disabled, either by the thieves or by whatever was in the urn.

      There are several word bumps in the “News Break” paragraph: “An autopsy”, “named the cause”, “occurred”, “an exhibit”, “scheduled to open”, “and whether the crime”

      The coroner’s report would more likely have read ‘heart failure’ rather than ‘heart attack’, since doctors reserve the second term for specific types of heart failure. Trust me, I’ve been on the receiving end of that discussion.

      I particularly loved the sentence: The contents of the urn have yet to be released. If the lid’s off, why haven’t the contents been released? It reads like just the sort of gaffe a real newscast would include. 🙂

      1. Ananfal

        Well that line was meant to say that the contents haven’t been released to the public yet, but let’s just pretend I did that on purpose. 😛

        As for the ‘Special News Break’ thing, I couldn’t’ figure out how to place the whole thing in italics so I wanted to distinguish it somehow, and the wording was off because I didn’t want to write anything too specific while also trying to be formal and repetitive like most news reports. Any tips on that would be great.

        1. Observer Tim

          Actually, aside from the few word glitches I mentioned above, the News Break paragraph was great. I read a lot of short news reports (I prefer them to the long-winded articles) and this came across just like one of them. The kind of ambiguous wording gaffe about the urn contents happens all the time, which adds to the sense of authenticity.

          As for putting it in italics, its position at the end of the story would take care of that because if the closing </i> tag got broken somehow the italics would simply end with the story.

    2. regisundertow

      I read this as a straight-forward story of someone suffering a panic attack and it worked brilliantly. The supernatural element you hint at also works, but I prefer thinking this was the news station sensationalizing the piece; in my opinion, it strengthens your story.

      I really liked you description of the panic attack and how you devote quite some space in describing its onset and the resulting heart attack. It gives it almost a philosophical quality and I could imagine the guard thinking, “is this how it happens?” I enjoyed this.

      1. Ananfal

        Thanks! I struggled with how to describe the fear, since I didn’t want to have too many cliches or purple prose in there. I’m glad you liked it.

  25. slayerdan

    Ass cheeks clenched in pure frustration, Danny stood glaring at Steve, visions of devils poking him with fiery pitchforks his only respite at this point. The only thing that seemed to infuriate him more were the yellow and black tiles on the wall behind Steve. They just screamed 1970s and of course most of all they screamed bathroom.

    “Stop staring at me like that dude, I said a hunnerd times that I am sorry,” Steve looked back at Danny exasperated, pleading silently for the devils he didn’t even know were there to go away.

    “How would you like me to stare at you Steve?” Danny barked, jumping at the chance to reply,” would you like me to make lovebird eyes? Or maybe look at you like the idiot you are?” he finished, his voice trailing away into a plethora of disgruntled mumblings.

    He felt his ass cheeks clench tighter.

    “I don’t know but I said I was sorry a hunnerd times like I said and I will make it up to you somehow,” Steve answered as he surrendered to the fact that Danny was not going to be placated right now.

    “Hundred,” Danny said.

    “Huh?” Steve replied with confusion.

    “The damned word is hundred, not hunnerd. Hunnerd is not a word. Not now. Not yesterday. Not whenever I get the hell out of the frigging bathroom in the Arthur B. Doodenberry Museum of Alligator History located in beautiful, hot-damned, Gainesville Florida!” Danny spewed in one foul breath as he leaned off the counter.

    “Fine Mister English, hundred. Are you happy? Do you feel better with your big mouth and head? Hundred, hundred, hundred, hundred, HUN-DRED!” Steve blasted back, tiring of Danny and his egotistical ranting.

    Danny slumped back against the counter as he had several times over the last few hours. He checked his watch.Two-thirty in the morning. Five hours to go.

    His cheeks clenched again until they were as one and could get no tighter.

    Danny watched in silence as Steve slow-stepped over to the door and pulled the handle. He watched in silence as Steve let go of the door and without making any semblance of eye contact make his way back to his spot on the yellow and black tiled walls and slump to the floor slowly.

    Danny’s ass was numb. He could no longer tell if it was clenched or not. He stared at Steve again as he fought off the desire to launch into another tirade. The beginning of this bathroom adventure ran through his head again and again. They purchased their tickets an hour before closing. There were just a few stragglers in the museum as he maneuvered with Steve from exhibit to exhibit. Like thieves in the dark they made their way to the bathroom and in stealthy silence hid in the last stall. Holding their breath they grinned like children when the bathroom door opened and as the security guard left and turned out the light. The door shut.

    Then in the silent darkness, the lock clicked. And for the first time that night, Danny’s ass cheeks clenched.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a wonderful bit of interaction between the MC’s. Cabin fever sets in quickly when two boys are stuck in a bathroom together. You did a great job portraying it. 🙂

      One thing which confuses me just a bit is that most lockable bathrooms have a simple latch on the inside that unlocks the door. However, if the museum has had trouble with vandals hiding there it’s no surprise that they put double-sided locks on.

    2. Reaper

      I admit it. It took me all the way through to think of cheeks clenching as a sign of frustration when I kept reading it as trying to hold it in. This is really interesting with a lot I would love to read more about. It works really well as a twisted slice of life too.

  26. Kaboosh

    It’s been about ten minutes since I heard the museum doors shut. I poke my head out the door. I know there are 8 guards in this building. I used to work here as a night guard. Now I have a different job. A better job. I had a mission today. I had to get into the “Egyptian Tombs!” section. It was “heavily guarded” by four dimwits. All the guards might look big and bulky, but they could barely say a sentence. Lucky for me, I am a master of disguise and trickery. My goal is to steal the page full of hieroglyphics and return it to Mr. E. A guard walks by, pretending his flashlight was a gun, and “shoots” the paintings, saying “Pew, Pew!” I quickly jump out and punch him in the throat.

    I take his uniform, which is almost twice my size, and put it on. The guards wouldn’t notice with their walnut brains. I quickly climb the stairs, two at a time. I make it to the exhibit.

    “Hi! Is there something wrong?” A guard asks. “It looks like you’re panting.”

    “Um… Yes!” I say in my deepest voice. “There is someone sneaking round downstairs! And… um… there are free donuts!”

    “Donuts? Yipee!” The guards say stupidly. They bounce down the stairs.

    “Okay,” I say to myself, “where is that sheet?”

    I unlock the gold encased tomb with my master key. On top of the mummified pharaoh, I see a slab with hieroglyphics. This must be it. I pick it up and examine it. In the center of the slab there was, what looked like, a sun split into 8 parts. On the wall there was the same picture except with color. By each color, there were words. I grabbed the picture and slid it into my coat. I hear the guards coming back up the stairs.

    “No donuts?” they mumbled. “I want donuts…”

    I quickly climb into a vent and wiggle my way out of the museum. I examined the picture more carefully. By each color it said the color name and a word or two. I wrote them down.

    Green: Earth
    Blue: Water
    Red: Fire
    Clear: Air
    Gray: Sky
    Pink: Life/Love
    Mood Gem: Emotion
    Black: Death
    Yellow. In the middle. Sun.

    I smile. I think this new job was going to be fun.

    1. Kaboosh

      So, I’m thinking of making a whole story out of this, but the challenge is to only use the weekly prompts to make it. I hope you guys like it.

    2. Observer Tim

      This is a clever start to a longer story. It’s interesting to see the MC in his element, but I wonder how he handles it when he’s someplace he hasn’t worked before. I like it so far!

      I do feel a need to pass on one piece of advice that I’ve heard on this site: Show, don’t tell. Right the story (especially the early bit) reads like the story is being told after the fact. If that’s your goal, great. However, readers are often better engaged if it reads more like a movie, with bits of information being revealed through dialogue, action, and interaction.

      If you want to go serial, pay special attention to any comments from Reaper. He’s been working on a single story for over a dozen prompts so far, and has been forced to make some significant plot twists to get around the different nature of the cues.

    3. Reaper

      You definitely have me curios. Doing a serial is difficult with that challenge but you have enough here that I think you can manage it. Sometimes you have to stretch them a bit but that is part of the fun. You have me wanting to know more about the MC and where things are going. You do have some tense shifts to watch out for but only a couple that I noticed. Your guards seemed a little too dumb. Now, this could be aimed at a younger audience, or it is possible you will reveal later why that is. Some explanation on that later on would be good though, since I’m wondering what kind of world this character lives in. You have captured my attention and I am waiting for the next bit.

  27. Witt.Stanton

    His hand hovered over his wand, hidden in his trench coat pocket. Muggles clogged the halls of the British Natural History Museum, gawking at their insignificant relics of history.

    The Muggles were loud, unseemly so, and rude. His dislike of them grew. In the distance he heard a voice announce it was closing time. They began to file out, much to his relief.

    Pushing through them, he made his way into one of the bathrooms. There was a network of toilets that employees of the Ministry of Magic took to get to work. He hoped this bathroom was one of these entrances.

    He ignored the small, orderly line the Muggles stood in and banged his fist against a cubicle door. “Open up! Now, you filthy Mudblood!”

    A muffled shout of protest answered his demands, so he kicked open the door. “I said out, so get out! What are you waiting for? GET OUT!”

    An old, grey-haired man stumbled out of the stall. “Who are you?” he asked, bewildered.

    Sneering, the wizard shoved him aside and stepped into the toilet. He flushed the handle. Water rushed about his black leather boots. So this was the wrong bathroom.

    This put him in a bad mood. To make matters worse, his feet were wet.

    Snickers echoed in the small bathroom. The Muggles thought it was funny.

    Anger pulsed through his body, and he spun around. His hand twitched and suddenly his wand was pointed at the old Muggle’s face.

    “HOW DARE YOU LAUGH. HOW DARE YOU EVEN LOOK AT ME!” Rage filled him, taking control.

    “KNOW YOUR RIGHTFUL PLACE, YOU FILTHY CREATURES! KNOW YOUR PLACE, BENEATH ME!”

    The Muggles screamed in terror, running to get away. With a flick of his wand, the doors locked. He grinned savagely.

    “Avada Kedavra!” The old man collapsed.

    “Crucio!” The screams intensified. He loomed over them like a god, standing on the edge of the toilet seat.

    “Bombarda Maxima!” Laughing, he blew a giant hole in the wall of the bathroom. In the hallway, chaos ruled. Muggles ran to escape. Now that would never do.

    He jumped down from his perch with a flourish of his long coat.

    “Aresto Momentum!” Everyone froze, and he strolled through them, picking them off at will. Who said this couldn’t be fun?

    “NOW YOU SEE, DON’T YOU? NOW YOU SEE THE RIGHTFUL-” He was cut off mid-sentence when a curse hit the wall above his head. More curses were fired, and he easily deflected them.

    It seemed the Ministry had sent Aurors to get rid of him. He must be close. Very close; the entrance must be in this building. The very thought excited him.

    It was time to bring in the rest of the Death Eaters.

    Jerking up his coat sleeve, he placed the tip of his wand upon the Dark Mark emblazoned on his arm.

    The Dark Lord answered his call.

    1. Witt.Stanton

      This is (essentially) a Harry Potter fanfiction, so I felt I had to add this.

      Disclaimer: All the characters and plot you recognize are from the book series Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling. The rest is of my own creation.

    2. Observer Tim

      I’m totally unfamiliar with the Harry Potter mythos, so I’m not really qualified to comment on the story matter.

      You did a great job projecting the MC’s superior arrogance and power. I assume he had protective spells in place so he didn’t get knifed by a street punk for his tirade. Nor did anybody punch him in the mouth, which seems another good solution. The fact that I wanted to see either or both of these happen to him is a good mark that you nailed the presentation. 🙂

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        WHAT? OT, we just found you your summer lecture. I was eight when I, distrustfully, cracked the cover of the first one. In the years that followed my greatest fear was to die before JK managed to pen the rest… (and they are nothing like the films- though the films stand their ground, they don’t come anywhere near the books).

        1. Witt.Stanton

          I agree with your assessment of the movies in comparison to the books. While they are good in their own right (actually I think they’re really well done, but that’s just me), the books go unparalleled. Glad I found other HP fans. 🙂

    3. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice job, Will. I don’t dig HP fan fiction, but this was well executed. I hope your MC is your own creation- kidnapping characters I find sort of, duh, but hijacking the entire world… well, now, that’s up for grabs, right? 😉

      Loved the scene with the Death Eater standing in the toilet. Wonderful.

  28. rav maneesh

    i know what everyone must be thinking…rav maneesh? what type of a short pointless story is this genevan wierdo gonna write.I have decided to come clean… i wrote on one prompt a long time ago but forgot my password and left writers digest i was rafay(aka percy jackson) i made this account to make one prank promt(my first) and then come clean (like i just did) and start writing again!… i hope you people forgive me…here is the REAL ME

    I am in a beautifully scented museum bathroom,The place has closed down for the night and what do i do…I PEE OFCOURSE.
    Then i wash my hands and walk out, What am i, an 11 year old extremely cool bmx bike lover doing in a boring museum with artifacts that make me want to puke?
    The answer is a simple one:A dare.
    Yes a dare… i remember it perfectly well my class and i were gone to this very museum for a field trip and everyone sat in a circle playing truth or dare.
    It,s your turn now Josh.I remember nancy saying
    i think for a moment and say
    Dare.
    Oooooooo.I remember all the kids say
    Nancy thinks for a moment and quickly snapps
    Stay in this museum for one night and take 19 selfies to prove it AND one of your selfies must be…you and George Washington sitting on a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
    WHAT!?!?? I say
    another Ooooooo was sounded from the class.

    I dont want to get into any details since you must have understood what happened and to make a long story short:It was this or 8 attomic wedgies from the school bully so i had to choose it.
    Lets make this quick.I say to myself as i walk to the American History Exzibit.
    I smile to myself :just 18 selfies with the wall and one with George Washington and then BAM…i am done and i can go home,but i was wrong terribly wrong.

    I walked to an article about the Decliration of Independance and smile.
    KA-CHICK
    I hear the camera say.
    I walk forward and look at a sculpture of an American Freedom fighter on a horse.
    I grin to myself and sit on the back of the horse and pull the plastic tail.
    KA-CHICK
    I hear the camera say.
    i get of the horse and look around.
    I THINK HE IS IN HERE TOMMY.I hear a man with a texan accent yell.
    I gasp as i hear two men fast walking into the room.

    I run and hide behind a full body sculpture of Theodore Roosevolt.
    I see to men come in they take a quick look and one man slaps the other.
    You said you saw the little punk go in here.He screams in a Mexican accent.
    The other Texan accent guy puts his head in his hands and cries.
    They walk slowly out of the room.

    This is getting serious.I say to myself.
    Did ya hear somethin Tommy?The texan accented man says.
    I hear footsteps coming back and before i could go back to my hiding spot they see me.
    Hahahahahahaha.They both laugh in unision.
    I couldnt help but to snicker…A Mexican and Texan laugh sounded REALLY funny.

    They stop laughing(after a minute or two) and put there atention on me.
    They split to either sides of the room and slowly approach me with taser guns.
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.I yell as i run out of the room.
    I took my camera out and started running really fast while taking a few selfies once in a while.
    I counted the remaining number of selfies after each picture and the security gaurds cought up with me when 3 selfies were remaining.
    Tommy threw a taser gun at me and i cought it.
    Thanks Tommy.I say in my best texan accent.

    I run with the taser gun(for 5 seconds)
    until Tommy catches me from the back of my shirt.
    i quickly turn around and smash the butt of the taser gun in Tommys face.
    he crumples to the floor and i begin running(this time it lasts for 2 seconds).
    The mexican accent guy kicks my butt(literally).
    I fall to the floor as an explosoin of pain erupts on my backside and the maxican accent guy slowly walks towards me with his taser gun before he could do anything i kick his leg and quickly taser his chest.

    I suddenly hear the familiar police car sound of
    TEE-ROO-TEE-ROO
    And when i look i see alot of police cars parked outside the door.
    I look at Tommy and realise that he was unconsious or worse…his nose was bleeding badly.
    Plan B. I say to myself as i run back into the bathroom.

    I go inside and opened stall number 3 and see my bmx bike!
    I had kept it there incase of an emergency an this was one i took it out and made sure my camera was with me.
    I put the taser gun in my pocket and quickly started paddling out of the area.
    I see an human bone.I went close enough,smiled and
    KA-CHICK

    I paddle further and notice a few police men walking in with guns!
    I paddle real fast and go to the American History room.

    I take a selfie with a native american and suddenly trip.
    Owwww.I moan as i stared at a bottle of glue that made me trip i quickly wipe it of my hand and go to a sculpture of George Washington.
    I wipe some dirt off his mouth and go for a kiss.
    I quickly take my selfie.
    And try to move away.
    WhaT!!!!!!!!!
    my mouth was glued to George Washington!
    the glue must have got stuck.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I try to say but it came out like.
    OOUROERRURERERPOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    I guess it must have looked wierd as the police found me mouth to mouth with the founder of america one week after men mariages were legalized in america.

    1. rav maneesh

      the only truth in my last prompt was that…My pet turtle did die it was a red ear slider girl named taylor swift, yes i am a 11 year old swifty!! and it feels gr8 to be back on writers digest

  29. rav maneesh

    i know what everyone must be thinking…rav maneesh? what type of a short pointless story is this genevan wierdo gonna write.I have decided to come clean… i wrote on one prompt a long time ago but forgot my password and left writers digest i was rafay(aka percy jackson) i made this account to make one prank promt(my first) and then come clean (like i just did) and start writing again!… i hope you people forgive me…here is the REAL ME

    I am in a beautifully scented museum bathroom,The place has closed down for the night and what do i do…I PEE OFCOURSE.
    Then i wash my hands and walk out, Why am i, an 11 year old extremely cool bmx bike lover doing in a boring museum with artifacts that make me want to puke?
    The answer is a simple one:A dare.
    Yes a dare… i remember it perfectly well my class and i were gone to this very museum for a field trip and everyone sat in a circle playing truth or dare.
    It,s your turn now Josh.I remember nancy saying
    i think for a moment and say
    Dare.
    Oooooooo.I remember all the kids say
    Nancy thinks for a moment and quickly snapps
    Stay in this museum for one night and take 19 selfies to prove it AND one of your selfies must be…you and George Washington sitting on a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
    WHAT!?!?? I say
    another Ooooooo was sounded from the class.

    I dont want to get into any details since you must have understood what happened and to make a long story short:It was this or 8 attomic wedgies from the school bully so i had to choose it.
    Lets make this quick.I say to myself as i walk to the American History Exzibit.
    I smile to myself :just 18 selfies with the wall and one with George Washington and then BAM…i am done and i can go home,but i was wrong terribly wrong.

    I walked to an article about the Decliration of Independance and smile.
    KA-CHICK
    I hear the camera say.
    I walk forward and look at a sculpture of an American Freedom fighter on a horse.
    I grin to myself and sit on the back of the horse and pull the plastic tail.
    KA-CHICK
    I hear the camera say.
    i get of the horse and look around.
    I THINK HE IS IN HERE TOMMY.I hear a man with a texan accent yell.
    I gasp as i hear two men fast walking into the room.

    I run and hide behind a full body sculpture of Theodore Roosevolt.
    I see to men come in they take a quick look and one man slaps the other.
    You said you saw the little punk go in here.He screams in a Mexican accent.
    The other Texan accent guy puts his head in his hands and cries.
    They walk slowly out of the room.

    This is getting serious.I say to myself.
    Did ya hear somethin Tommy?The texan accented man says.
    I hear footsteps coming back and before i could go back to my hiding spot they see me.
    Hahahahahahaha.They both laugh in unision.
    I couldnt help but to snicker…A Mexican and Texan laugh sounded REALLY funny.

    They stop laughing(after a minute or two) and put there atention on me.
    They split to either sides of the room and slowly approach me with taser guns.
    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.I yell as i run out of the room.
    I took my camera out and started running really fast while taking a few selfies once in a while.
    I counted the remaining number of selfies after each picture and the security gaurds cought up with me when 3 selfies were remaining.
    Tommy threw a taser gun at me and i cought it.
    Thanks Tommy.I say in my best texan accent.

    I run with the taser gun(for 5 seconds)
    until Tommy catches me from the back of my shirt.
    i quickly turn around and smash the butt of the taser gun in Tommys face.
    he crumples to the floor and i begin running(this time it lasts for 2 seconds).
    The mexican accent guy kicks my butt(literally).
    I fall to the floor as an explosoin of pain erupts on my backside and the maxican accent guy slowly walks towards me with his taser gun before he could do anything i kick his leg and quickly taser his chest.

    I suddenly hear the familiar police car sound of
    TEE-ROO-TEE-ROO
    And when i look i see alot of police cars parked outside the door.
    I look at Tommy and realise that he was unconsious or worse…his nose was bleeding badly.
    Plan B. I say to myself as i run back into the bathroom.

    I go inside and opened stall number 3 and see my bmx bike!
    I had kept it there incase of an emergency an this was one i took it out and made sure my camera was with me.
    I put the taser gun in my pocket and quickly started paddling out of the area.
    I see an human bone.I went close enough,smiled and
    KA-CHICK

    I paddle further and notice a few police men walking in with guns!
    I paddle real fast and go to the American History room.

    I take a selfie with a native american and suddenly trip.
    Owwww.I moan as i stared at a bottle of glue that made me trip i quickly wipe it of my hand and go to a sculpture of George Washington.
    I wipe some dirt off his mouth and go for a kiss.
    I quickly take my selfie.
    And try to move away.
    WhaT!!!!!!!!!
    my mouth was glued to George Washington!
    the glue must have got stuck.
    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I try to say but it came out like.
    OOUROERRURERERPOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

    I guess it must have looked wierd as the police found me mouth to mouth with the founder of america one week after men mariages were legalized in america.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is wonderfully strange, Rav. You captured the 11-year old voice of the MC perfectly, and the reasoning behind why he’s doing it is exactly what I’d expect. I also like the way he’s trying to take all the selfies at once (which violates the spirit of the dare if not the letter). I really like it. 🙂

      There are a few structural things in your writing style that you’ll need to work on. The big one I see is quotation marks. Sometimes it got a little confusing telling what was the MC’s internal dialogue and what he was saying out loud.

      P.S. Welcome back; I fell for the prank and it is worthy of a good laugh. Sorry to hear about your pet turtle.

  30. turtles88

    Alu opens the bathroom door and pokes her head out.

    “I think we’re good.” She motions for Rai to follow.

    Rai walks closely beside Alu and whispers,“Are you freakin’ insane?!”

    “Slightly, I suppose.”

    “That security guard almost knocked your skull loose. If it wasn’t for me, you could’ve died! I COULD’VE DIED! I could have freakin’ died.”

    “Yelling is bad for your health, you know. Careful.”

    Rai stutters, “Bad… bad for my… breathing the same air with YOU is bad for my health!”

    “You’re yelling. Stop doing that.”

    “Let’s steal a few paintings, she said. It’d be fun, she said. ”

    “Hey! You two! Freeze!”

    “Oopsie.”

    Alu grabs Rai’s arm, “Run.”

    “I said freeze! Put your hands up where I can see you.”

    “If we do this correctly, Rai,we might successfully escape. You ready?”

    “The man said to freeze though.”

    “He also said to put our hands up right after – the dude’s not the brightest bulb in the bunch, Rai.”

    “I heard that!”

    Alu whispers, “Look, I’m gonna run this – a – way and you run that – a – way. He can’t chase both of us. Unless he called for backup, which wouldn’t be surprising if he did. I’m gonna-”

    “Wait, run AT the security guard?! You want me to run at the security guard, are you nuts?!”

    “Trust me, you’ll be fine. Just remember your training. I’ll finish loading the van and meet you out back.”

    “You ladies are in big trouble. Thievery, resisting arrest, breaking and entering, damaging private property….”

    “You won’t leave without me, right?”

    “Uh, maybe. It depends really on the weather and the wind…”

    “What?!”

    “Run, run now!”

    1. Observer Tim

      There is no honour among thieves, eh Turtles? This reminds me of the old saying – “I don’t have to outrun them, I have to outrun you.” I sense the partnership is not going to fare so well after this…

      Great story!

    2. Reaper

      I get the glorious bastard vibe from this. Anyone who is honest enough to tell you he might leave you behind will usually get you out. At least in a story. I smiled all the way through this one. Good job turtles.

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, turtles!

      Just so you know, this whole part made me laugh -> “Rai stutters, “Bad… bad for my… breathing the same air with YOU is bad for my health!”
      “You’re yelling. Stop doing that.”
      “Let’s steal a few paintings, she said. It’d be fun, she said. ”

      😀

  31. Reaper

    Okay, part fifteen and this got weird on me.

    In the Beginning – The Third Sign

    Father O’Reilly sat with a corpse in a stall in a bathroom that echoed of silence and smelled of industrial cleaner rethinking his relationship with Jack. Not the association itself but taking such a servile role. Why couldn’t the cop dispose of his own bodies?

    The priest waited impatiently. Midnight was late for him, for most museums as well. This was a special case, an extreme situation. The poetic justice of the refuse disposal soothed him. The fact that unlike most museums this one employed no guards set him at ease as well.

    When the museum closed he waited an extra half-hour for the employees to clear out. He gripped the corpse under the armpits and dragged it from the bathroom. A beatific smile crossed his face as he looked around. The wing of the wax museum dedicated to religious figures surrounded him. It made his soul sing, one of the reasons he chose that particular rest room. Another being that it was the least visited section.

    The museum radiated out from the dark chambers. In the center that house of horrors held the greatest attraction. Other exhibits radiated out like the spokes of wheel. Each section connected to an appropriate portion of murder’s row. The third reason his hiding place was appropriate. Father O’Reilly dragged the body into the inky shadows.

    Like many Catholics before him, those from a different time, O’Reilly dragged a heretic’s limp body into Torquemada’s chamber. He let the body slump on the floor and shuddered. This point in the history of his faith sat like original sin on the priest’s conscience and soul. Still, it served his purposes well enough. Oh, he thought, how many men, well intentioned or not, damned themselves with such thoughts?

    He shuddered violently and hardened his heart. His eyes cast about for the piece he needed. The dead, glassy eyes of the exhibit leered back at him. He imagined himself the main course at a cannibal super hosted by the Manson family with those terrible eyes bearing down on him, demanding a confession. Amongst these monsters he found what he needed.

    Retrieving the body once more the priest dragged it to the iron maiden. He positions the corpse so one of the spikes rested its tip against the bullet wound in the body. Then Father O’Reilly slammed the device closed. He uttered a prayer of thanks for attention to detail, that only the figures were made of wax, and escaped this secular shrine to the past.

    Jack should be happy and they could move forward with stopping this prophecy. He stopped at the first door, almost perishing of a heart attack. He saw the heads of the inquisitors, had they turned? Were they watching him? He could swear he saw wings on Torquemada himself. Then words came to him on the wind, whispering. He heard the other tortures welcoming the corpse home, as one of their own. Father O’Reilly screamed and fled hastily; unaware of the signs he did not know he had just witnessed the third.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very nice, Reaper. I can see Father O’Reilly is going to have an interesting confession when this is all over, assuming there’s a world left to confess in.

      My red pencil spotted a few things for the cleaned-up version: murderer’s row, cannibal supper, positioned the corpse.

      My theology advisor says the event probably sat more like Cain and Abel than the original sin. The original sin was done in ignorance, while the first murder was definitely an act of malice.

      1. Reaper

        Thank you Tim. If there is a world left and he is in it he will have much to confess. Thanks for those catches. As for the theology advisor I can see that but it doesn’t fit with the feel. The action is more equatable yes, because while biblicaly speaking it was not ignorance that was lacking but intent to do harm. So it relates better to the first murder. The reference I was going for was it is a sin staining the soul and that he is judged by that he had nothing to do with. Wondering how I can make that clearer now.

    2. regisundertow

      The stories in your cycle have obtained a very clear, very exact sense of purpose, Patrick. I keep trying to guess the endgame, but I hope it’ll be quite some time before that happens.

      1. Reaper

        It will. Even when I try to get more time on this story my other projects or job hunting interfere. I finally have a job again starting later in the month but that means work eating up the time that job hunting was taking up. This will definitely continue through at least the next six months though.

    3. Nicki EagerReader

      Great description and setting, Reaper. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep up with Jack and Father O’Reilly- you haven’t got a websites with all pieces nicely lined up, do you? I wouldn’t have minded if you had expanded the last paragraph and built up the horror a little more slowly- this week, I give a hoot for word count 😉 .

      1. Reaper

        Reatha got back to you before I could. Thank you for asking. I agree, it could be expanded on, though honestly it was less word count and more lack of inspiration this week. Not for this story but in general. Life is getting interesting and has me floating through the good and the bad and all my writing is suffering from a bit of just going through the motions.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Oh wow, I’m down at the bottom again, but one thing I did notice, I am beginning to like Father O’Reilly. I believe I understand him now. One thng else, I think this chapter is the best of the series.

  32. SheepCarrot

    I watch from the shadows as each light in the museum shuts off, every one in sequence until the only lights are from the glowing EXIT signs. They had unloaded the truck yesterday, brought out the special display that was only for this weekend, opening tomorrow. That is why I am here. I have to see it when there is no one around, and before anyone else.

    I can hear the guards in their office, their mindless chatting about their wives and petty issues at home. I have heard such things many times over the years. The specifics change, but it is all the same. I push them from my mind and move silently to the featured exhibit, where I once again lay my eyes on what is rightfully mine: the athame my mother had given me when I had entered the Sisterhood.

    The blade glints as I circle it, and the crystal in the handle begins to glow. I smile and reach out to it. The crystal shines brighter as I trace the pentacle on the hilt. “Hello, precious,” I murmur, and finally close my fingers around the handle.

    Once I lift the dagger from its velvet-lined display the alarm bells sound, the motion sensor lights flick on. It is only a minute before one of the security guards comes running, and I see the disbelief in his eyes as he skids to a stop. I can imagine how I must look to him: a young woman in colonial dress…transparent and holding a knife.

    He pales until his skin is the same shade as the pristine white tile floors. “That’s…..that’s not possible!”

    I smirk at his words, spinning the blade in my hand. “I assure you it is, although no one shall believe you. Do you know what this is?”

    He swallows nervously, and I can feel the waves of fear rolling off him and feeding my strength. “A….” He licks his lips and tries again to speak. “A knife.”

    I shake my head. “So much more than that,” I say. I open my hand to release it, but rather than falling to the floor it floats over my palm. “It is an athame. A ceremonial dagger. Many witches have them.” I can see his eyes bulge, and with an abrupt sweep of my arm I knock him from his feet. “Stay where you are,” I warn, as he immediately moves to get up. “And turn off that dreadful noise.”

    The pathetic guard reaches for his radio mic. “Hey….hey George, shut off the alarm.” The bells quiet, then George’s voice crackles across the speaker.

    “E-ry-ing o–, Henry? What’s g-ng on?”

    I lace my fingers together and try not to laugh as Henry’s radio starts dropping the transmissions and refuses to cue. That was just one of many tricks I had learned over the centuries and it was always useful. I can taste his panic now, steadily increasing. “Let me tell you a story, Henry.” I gesture to the exhibit surrounding us: a summary of the Salem Witch Trials. “I was murdered in 1693, by the very people I called my neighbors and friends. All because of their fear.” My gaze returns to my athame, hovering, spinning slowly, point down. “There was a ‘trial’ to judge me, after I had given herbs to the Governor’s daughter who was deathly ill. She recovered and they decided I was evil and had to be put to death. ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.'”

    My eyes turn on him, this weak and spineless man, and my anger builds. The lights in the room flicker as I stalk toward him. “My friends,” I spit the word out, “condemned me, and burned me at the stake.” I crouch beside Henry, nearly touching….that is if I was able and not just a spirit. “Men such as you, who had been selected to be fair and stand for justice tied me to that stake. You built piles of sticks below my feet.”

    He scrambles back. “Not me! It wasn’t me!”

    “You set me on fire!” My voice echoes down the hallways, and I hear George come running. He draws his revolver upon seeing me, fires until the hammer falls on a spent cartridge. The bullets pass through me without pain or resistance; mine is a joyless laugh, full of hate and anger that have been ruminating in my soul for over three hundred years. “Your kind cannot hurt me any longer!” My dagger shoots through the air at my command. A simple point of my finger and George falls to the floor, clutching the blade buried to the hilt in his stomach. Henry screams, clumsily tries to get up and run away, but he cannot escape me. He falls forward, dead before he hits the ground.

    The gem shines as I pull the athame from his back, wipe the blood on his shirt before I reverently place it back on its pedestal. I look back over the bodies. I had my revenge this day, and in three days the exhibit moves on to the next museum, and I with it. They will pay for their ignorance and fear. I retreat from the room, that thought firmly in my thoughts.

    They shall all pay.

    1. Observer Tim

      Very well done ghost story, SheepCarrot. You did a great job portraying the venom in the creature’s soul. Her utter lack of remorse is something not often seen in stories from the ghost’s perspective and makes a refreshing change of pace.

      My reality advisor won’t stop complaining that of the 20 ‘witches’ tried in Salem, 19 were hanged and one was trapped in a burning building. But that doesn’t matter against the collective consciousness.

      1. SheepCarrot

        Very good point. Now it’s bugging me, so I’ll have to go tweak my blog version of it. 🙂 As always, thank your for your words. It was a lot of fun writing from her view, once I decided which way I was going with it.

    2. Reaper

      Nice story here. The unreasoning hatred of people who did nothing but share traits with those who did speaks to a lot of what is going on today, which all good horror actually does. There are so many lessons in this style of writing that get missed it is astounding. My suggestions are to go through and look at your hads. There are a lot of them and they change the voice of the ghost by keeping them but outside of it most of them work better in the straight past tense, such as my mother had given me could me my mother gave me. The other think is when she says your kind cannot hurt me any longer, it is a break with how you have her seeing things. You build her up as blaming these men, I’d say switch it to you cannot hurt me any longer, but that’s a simple style thing and may not be what you are going for. I would also say stick to the burning. Burning witches is a time honored tradition and most people think it happened that way. I stick to believing it because I”m one of those people that screams revisionist history when the lessons I was taught are updated. Plus, death by fire causes more sympathy for your MC than hanging does. We all relate to the pain of being burned, hanging is a theoretical for us and doesn’t cause the same connection.

      1. SheepCarrot

        I do have issues with my hads. I really need to brush up on my tenses and when best to use them. In my blog version, I did keep the burning; I just changed the exhibit to being one about witch trials in general, as they started back in that 1300’s in Europe, and there they did in fact burn them. Also, nice catch on her speech pattern. That does mess up her consciousness about it all. Thank you for your input!

  33. regisundertow

    DOWN IN A HOLE

    I had the strangest dream. Its memory lingers on my fingertips and numbs my mind. It refuses to be another half-formed thought, lost the moment I wake. This one persists and whispers in my ear. It caresses my cheek with its sandpaper hands. Its hot breath on my nape makes me shiver.

    I was floating in salty water. Warm. Pungent. Full of resonance and vibrations, their source just beyond my reach. My eyes were useless, but I wasn’t scared. There was nothing in there that could have hurt me. Her inky tendrils embraced and comforted me, promised to protect me. She became everything, her presence absolute. There was her and nothing else. I curled up in her and she curled up in me. I became nothing.

    I slept for centuries, no way of telling time. Only a black blur. Only her for company. And then…a bud of a tremor. One that grew, slowly, inexorably. Unyielding. It became as all-encompassing and absolute as her. Only, the darkness couldn’t hold it back. It crumbled, falling into exploding pieces all around me. I clawed at it, bit into it, I begged it not to leave me. She slipped away. As nothing gave way to a numbing, cold radiance, I gave a scream that ripped the chords from my throat and collapsed my lungs.

    I was once young and I have become old. My insides started shutting down a long time ago. My bones can no longer support me. They don’t have it in them anymore. And the beast that eats at my brain has finally devoured everything that I am. All I’m left with are flashes of the past, ensconced in their glass cases, frozen dioramas in mockery of better days.

    Now, all those years later, I can feel a familiar presence just beyond the edge of my view creeping in. Her tendrils probe gently, afraid to insult me, unsure if it’s their time, though I welcome them. As I lay motionless, with no feeling left in me, with my bitter lips giving no breath forth, they slither. They read the map of my skin and taste its salt. They squirm through hair made of snow and entwine themselves between my fingers. My glassy eyes follow their movement. They have returned to this body, pilgrims to their temple. They have come to pay their respects and carry me forth.

    The ground opens up and I’m softly lowered down. I can taste salty water. Its warm. Pungent. Safe. She holds me in a tight embrace, promising to never let me go again. I curl up in her and she in me. And I close my eyes. Time to become nothing again.

    1. Observer Tim

      Wow, very creative Regis. Unless I am totally off base, this is being told from the perspective of one of those mummified corpses that museums so long to display. The impressions are wonderfully graphic and beautiful. 🙂

      1. regisundertow

        Cheers, Tim! You’re not off-base, not at all. I had a mental image of someone dying and viewing fragments of his life as museum pieces, as the peace of burial is trying to claim him. I was very conscious this can be taken literally, e.g. with a mummified corpse. I doubt their owners are particularly happy about being paraded.

    2. Nicki EagerReader

      I second Tim, Regis. This was bizarre and beautiful and bobbed my mind along on currents of alien thought. I really like our style. The absolutely only thing I can point out for correction is the “its warm” in the last paragraph (should be it’s warm), and that’s so banal I’m almost ashamed to mention it.

      Kudos, and thanks for sharing.

      1. regisundertow

        Thanks Nicki, and no worries about the correction, I was kicking myself when I spotted it.
        I’m glad you liked it. I’ve wanted to do a piece from the POV of a corpse for some time (blame it on As I Lay Dying).

    3. Reaper

      This is wonderful. I started off with Tim thinking it was a mummy talking. Then I started seeing a sailor or a pirate longing for the sea and losing it only to be buried in it. Your words fit both and just the idea of someone seeing their life pass before them. Very well done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m joining in the chorus, this is spectacular prose. I loved the idea of the sea and the tentacles coming back at the final moment. Truly an inspired piece of work. Great job!

      2. regisundertow

        Thanks Patrick. If you know any divers, ask them if they’ve ever taken their breather off while underwater. Being down there messes with your brain in the same way astronauts become awed by space.

  34. Observer Tim

    MANIFESTO

    The Museum of Urban History is Cassidy’s favourite. She likes all the bright colours on the costumes of the superheroes and villains. She especially likes the exhibit about me; I’m glad the other parents think she’s calling out ‘Mommy Mommy’ to get my attention.

    But I’m not here to sightsee tonight. My sister Linda is home watching Cass and I’m skulking about the place in my civvies. At least the security here isn’t tight; it was child’s play (for me) to trick the cameras into showing an empty building and to use hunter-seeker drones to put all the guards to sleep.

    My mission should be a simple one: all I have to do is switch out the copy of Malefacto’s Manifesto in his exhibit with the fake I’m carrying. Apparently the Council wants to make sure Miss Tyree doesn’t steal the original, since it contains clues to where he hid something that belongs to her.

    I hate being out of costume. Iron Maiden could tear through this place in seconds; Miranda Sumner had to hide in the third floor ladies’ room for over four hours. At least I should be done shortly.

    Finding Malefacto’s exhibit is simple; it’s right where it was when I cased the building this afternoon. I step over the unconscious body of a guard and pull out the fake Manifesto. Even the swap itself goes without a hitch.

    One of my rules of life is to double-check everything. The consequence of not doing so is at home with her auntie. So I open the book to a random page and read:

    There once was a girl from Atlantis,
    Who couldn’t stop dropping her panties; …

    This is a fake! Somebody has already made a switch, but I know who. I recognize her handwriting.

    It takes almost an hour to find the Foxwagen, even with the tracker I put on it. I needn’t have bothered driving around, because it’s parked at the museum. With all the police cars.

    I call Vixen’s communicator. “What are you doing here?”

    “Somebody pranked the museum; we’re working with the police to make sure nothing’s been stolen.”

    “Where is the book?”

    “What book?”

    “You know damn well what book. I have your copy right here.”

    “Then what’s in the display?”

    “The other fake. The one I put there earlier tonight to get the original out of harm’s way.”

    “Oh crap. Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “It’s a secret mission. I have to make sure Miss Tyree doesn’t get her hands on that book. Where is it now?”

    “Just a sec.” An agonizing minute passes. “Wallflower couldn’t make the switch; the whole exhibit’s disappeared.”

    “So you two still have the original book.”

    “Yup.”

    I let out a long sigh. “All right. I’ll trade you your fake book for the real one. And your father does not hear about this. Capeesh?”

    “Okay.”

    That’s one mission down; now for the other one. I call home.

    “Did everything go well?”

    “Yup. Cassie’s tucked in and sleeping like a six-year old angel.”

    “And you?”

    “You are one manipulative bitch, Miranda.”

    “Guilty. Have you made up your mind?”

    Linda sighs. “Yeah. I’m not going to have the abortion. If you can raise a good kid, so can I.”

    Second mission accomplished. It’s a perfect night.

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Just want to let you know how much your superhero cycle brightens up my day- I’m always thrilled to find a new segment waiting here for me. Also, in case I haven’t said it yet, I love the Foxwagen.

      Thanks a lot and please keep them coming (though I wouldn’t mind hearing from Wanda again- how is she?).

    2. Kaboosh

      I just want to say, all your stories are incredible. Oh, and I like the Miss. Tyree: Mystery thing, if that’s what you were going for.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Kaboosh. Yes Miss Tyree is another in the line of super-villains with one-word two-word names, like Mr. E (DC/Vertigo, Timely), E. Nygma (DC, the Riddler), and so on. I hope I’m allowed one… 🙂

    3. regisundertow

      Hah! The plot thickens…
      I think you’ve hit a very exact stride with the narrative surrounding your characters. It feels like there isn’t a single extraneous word in there, the stories are precise and clear. Honestly, you need to do something about this cycle, Tim. It needs to get out to more people.

      1. Observer Tim

        I am planning to put together a bunch of short stories into a ‘vanity book’ when I can make the time to do the editing/assembling. The superhero cycle (with some extra stories that I’ve been working on) will definitely be in there.

    4. Reaper

      Maiden is becoming my new catwoman. When I was a kid I loved catwoman even though she wasn’t a good guy and I knew I wasn’t really supposed to. Kind of set the tone for the grey characters I love to this day. So well done, and the second mission was wonderful as well.

      1. Observer Tim

        Thanks, Reaper. That is truly a great compliment. I fell in love with Catwoman watching Julie Newmar play her on the old Batman TV show. I was too young to know what romantic tension was but for some reason she was always fascinating. That probably helped shape the character at a subconscious level.

        I was hoping the second mission wasn’t too heavy-handed on the social issue. Miranda/Maiden did it mainly because she wants a cousin for her daughter…

        1. Reaper

          For me the second mission was a hit. Mostly because there was no preachiness to it. I did not feel that either the writer or the character was saying abortion is wrong. Though, on that one mileage may very depending on where you stand on either side of the spectrum I suppose. I got the impression this character wanted her sister to have a baby so it felt natural and not judgmental.

    5. jhowe

      What crisp delightful writing this is. You pull me along for the ride every time. One question: when I type colour or favourite, they show up as a misspelled words. How does the computer know I’m not Canadian?

  35. Nicki EagerReader

    Hey guys,

    apologies that I haven’t come round to commenting lately- I’ll try and remedy that. More apologies for the post- I think I might have even bested Jay (1730 words) but this just came flowing and I thought, hey, 500 words PER PROMPT and I haven’t posted in weeks… well, cheating with Maths, I guess. Fell free to skip it and tut because you have to scroll so much.

    Stepping Out

    It was half past eleven when I finally crawled out of my stall. I’d spent four hours picking lint and bits of grit off my clothes and looked halfway decent again; what remained of the grey smudge should pass unnoticed in the murk. Thank God for creating me “petite” and all His architects for designing ventilation shaft wide enough to accommodate anorexic teenagers, though they could dust them more frequently.

    Now I was traipsing through empty halls under the eyes of Puritanical Dutchmen and trying not to shin myself on the rare outgrowth of a bench that occasionally arced from the floor. The toilets back at the euphemistically entitled “Learning Gallery” were furthest from the main entrance, but they also happened to be empty when I tried to dodge Clem.

    I wished I could have seen his stupid face when he finally lost his patience standing guard outside and came in to take the ladies apart, his bewilderment mounting into panic when he realised I wasn’t there. I’d heard the argument he’d had with the security guards, who were drawn in by the shrieks the elderly ladies had emitted in response to two hundred pound of suited male dropping in on them during a private moment. Hard to say if with fright or delight; if they were like my mother it would have been latter. I could imagine that stupid whore enjoying a quick fuck with my bodyguard in the confined space of a toilet cabin; ever since I caught that cunt screwing the interior designer on our coffee table I could picture her basically everywhere with everyone and in every position. At least my father had the decency to exercise his affairs where other people didn’t put their cups and cakes.

    I wondered if Clem already had the guts to tell my parents he lost their precious daughter; if my mother was going into fake hysterics while my father rent his hair and wagged his big belly at the cops in the threatening manner of collapsing jelly.

    At the thought my face pulled into a sneer that was nearly a smile; the muscles that pulled up the corners of my mouth smart from the unaccustomed exercise.

    My plan was simple: find a guard and get them to let me out. Tell them I’d suffered a bad attack of the stomach flu and dozed off in a toilet stall. Retrieve my backpack from the cloak room and get the hell out. Edinburgh, Dublin, Paris- anywhere.

    Just away.

    When Clem asked me why I lugged a backpack into the museum I said I needed it for “lady’s stuff”, which not only shut him up but also doubled as an excuse while I scouted for a toilet that would serve as a hiding place. It would have been nice to stash my belongings at a friend’s -some clothes, some change, and that part of my mother’s jewellery that could be easily pawned- but the truth is I didn’t have that sort of friend. “My kind of people” purchased as many friends as they pleased whenever they needed them, and unfortunately those crappy connections were worth shit for anything beyond luncheon, fawning, and tennis.

    But I was through with that- for ever.

    My steps squeaked forlornly on the floor. The lights were sparse and dimmed, but it wasn’t dark enough to put the pictures to sleep. Ocean grey twinkled at me from a seascape; orange highlights sparkled on brown hair; unmoving eyes tracked my progress from door to door. The rooms were all annoyingly Rubens- for such a small country the Netherlands had churned out an amazing crap load of dead-faced people.

    Also annoying was the fact that I still hadn’t found one bloody guard. I could have given the Madonna a breast tattoo, and not a single fucker to stop me. Wasn’t this supposed to be one of the most prestigious museums in the world?

    A commotion -a flicker- in the periphery of my vision caused me to snap my head around. I stared hard at the grey dullness, and then a vicious red light winked at me- the diode on some alarm no doubt.

    I couldn’t even hear the air conditioning.

    I turned and my face brushed against fabric and a scent cloud of jasmine. I uttered a strangled scream and stumbled backwards until the hollow of my knees struck an obstacle, and I sat down heavily on the bench I had struck.

    “Bit dusky to appreciate the Van Gogh’s unique paint stroke, isn’t it?”, said the man. He switched on his torch, and in the light from the beam that danced around my feet I could make out a bit of his features. That’s when I knew I was in deep shit. Though his uniform said “Security”, everything else about him said “for show”- if this guy was an actual security guard he’d been recruited from some prison hell hole.

    Then I remembered what I was doing here and put on my best frightened little girl expression.

    “Oh, I am so glad I found you, sir; I fear I fell asleep and-”

    I broke off. The man had ambled to of one of the pictures and was inspecting it with great interest, not paying me the slightest attention whatsoever.

    I cleared my throat.

    “As I was saying, iI fell asleep, and if maybe you could just let me out-”

    “You want out?”, he asked, still gazing at the face of some seventeenth century merchant.

    This was the point I probably should have started feeling worried, but I didn’t- if he pulled any crap, I had a couple of razor blades tucked under the waste bands of my jeggings, and I had enough practise how to draw a clean and painful cut.

    His eyes gravitated ponderously towards me.

    “But not just out of the building, isn’t that so?”

    He stapled his fingers gently against the canvas in front of him. I expected the alarms to shrill off their batteries, but nothing happened.

    “What if I could offer you to get out of your life?”, the man said softly- and pushed.

    The canvas didn’t bulge or tear or stump his fingers; instead his entire hand -his arm, his elbow- just vanished until it looked as if a one-armed man was leaning against a priceless oil painting. I stared at him. Then he stepped away and the stump grew its missing extension back.

    It should have felt more surreal. It should have sent me screaming and frothing. But this was London, this was a museum in the dead of night, where paintings lived without life- everything was possible.

    I narrowed my eyes.

    “Sorry, pal,” I said, “but I only just managed to prise my soul from the clutches of two demons; the next devil interested in it will have get his balls past my foot first.”

    “What a sharp one you are.” The man’s eyes travelled towards my upper arm, where the long sleeves of my sweater concealed a pedestrian’s crossing of scars that guided shoulder into elbow. Strangely, the idea that he might turn his x-ray vision onto other body parts bothered me more than the fact he seemed to have x-ray vision at all.

    “But don’t worry,” he said. “I’m not interested in your soul. I don’t even wish to contract your service. All I ask of you is to be yourself.”

    I snorted.

    “Myself? You sure have no idea what you’re asking for.”
    His eyes gleamed.

    “Don’t worry. It takes one to recognise one.”

    “And where exactly would you like me to unfold my wonderful self?”, I asked.

    He strolled through the room and towards one of the doors.

    “That’s up to you, really,” he called over his shoulder. “It’s your pick.”

    He disappeared around a corner, and I jumped from my seat and followed him. It would have been my chance to break into a full run toward Trafalgar Square; instead I found myself tailing him into a room with paintings from Turner and Claude.

    “Dreamy, aren’t they?”, said the man. “So august and idyllic.”

    “Sure are,” I hissed. “My ass. Bet there’s turds floating in the harbour and a stranded whale being broken up just around the next dune, where it couldn’t distract from the sunset. I know all about perfection- it’s just a sore festering under layers of expensive make-up. Reality’s slutty little sister.”

    The man turned his stare back on me.

    “Interested in scarring the marble complexion? To wander the depraved alleys of that slick city and dig your fingers deep into its hidden wounds?”

    I considered the man. I considered the picture, the elvish sailing boats, the fictitious Ancient Greek splendour of its buildings. I considered my life.

    What the fuck. I wanted change. I wanted dirt and despair and people fucking and dying under the open sky; I craved the refreshing honestly of blatant depravity in place of the nauseating lies concealed under icing and pearl studs and expensive furnishings.

    “How do I get there?”, I asked.

    The man smiled and bowed slightly as he invited me to go ahead. I hesitated only for a fraction of a second, but as I hadn’t gotten any bad vibes from any of the paintings – he’ll trick you, he’ll banish you into paint and paper, make you one of us – I was willing to take the risk. Couldn’t be worse than anything I might run into in a backstreet in Soho.

    Leaning forward, I placed both hands onto the canvas. It didn’t ripple, and it didn’t feel cold or hot or gusty either.

    Because it wasn’t there. The room just extended into the painting, convex and distorted around the edges, but distinct and real at the end of what looked like a tunnel of glass. I could hear the sounds of a market, a gull’s nagging screech, smell fish and salt and freshly baked bread…

    And with two more steps, I was out. Out of my life, out of my world. I imagined the museum falling back into its hush, the paintings vegetating in their dreamless stupor, the cloakroom staff eventually handing my backpack over to the lost and found when nobody came to claim it.

    But I no longer cared, for I had finally exited into the real world. I felt it tremble under my arrival, and rightly so.

    Time for me to shatter some illusions.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is definitely worth the length, Nicki. You created a world of atmosphere and despair and desperation alongside the fantastic. While a sequel isn’t necessary, it would be welcome. 🙂

      I especially love the first paragraph. It’s a work of art on its own.

    2. regisundertow

      Probably one of the most interesting stories I’ve read here in quite some time. Definitely worth the 1730 words, though it didn’t feel as long. The more I read, the more I got hooked. It feels like the coke-snorting nihilist cousin to “Where the Wild Things Are”. I imagined one of my teenage nieces talking and acting like that and my blood boiled, but, from a literary point of view, I’m completely mesmerized by the beautiful car-wreck your MC is. This would be a difficult pitch to sell, I imagine, but it’d have at least one reader willing to buy the book.

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thank you, regis! I’m glad and relieved the story felt shorter than it was- nothing worse than a read that just won’t come to an end 😉 yeah, the MC definitely has issues. I was surprised myself when I scratched her surface and found all that ANGER underneath…

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Thanks a lot, Reaper! My “problem” (if you can call it that) is a thousand and one beginnings and no time to pen the rest (though I decided to make a list and then just work them off one by one). Yeah, the MC also really impressed me. Difficult person but one of the most interesting characters I’ve met in my head so far- wonder how she got in…

        1. Reaper

          It is a good problem to have. I have a list of ideas that I update from time to time. The problem is the stories come faster than the writing. Though once in a while I go back through the list and can back burner some because I either think what the hell? That doesn’t appeal anymore or can’t figure out what the idea really was. So I guess I think lists are good but I know some don’t.

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        You make me blush, ShamelessHack (seriously), but in a very positive way. I really set great store by the forum’s members’ opinions. So thanks a lot!

    3. cosi van tutte

      Hi, Nicki!

      I’ve been a kind of slacker too in regards to commenting, which makes me feel bad. ;( But I am here, commenting now. So, it’s all good.

      On to my comments:

      I really liked this story. Especially this line: “Strangely, the idea that he might turn his x-ray vision onto other body parts bothered me more than the fact he seemed to have x-ray vision at all.” Also, given your MC’s attitude, I suspect that she’s going to get herself into some interesting adventures in the other world. 🙂

      1. Nicki EagerReader

        Hey, cosi, no worries- we’ll be slackers together! Anyway, ploughing through that much text and then still finding the energy to comment on it definitely makes up for a lot of non-commenting 😉 .

        Thanks!

  36. Trevor

    Word Count: 631

    Laine Reed: The Museum Mystery

    My name is Laine Reed, and I’ve always loved mysteries. It started in 5th grade when I helped my best friend, Stephanie Collins, figure out who stole the brownie her mother always packed in her lunchbox on Fridays. After noticing a familiar red-and-green mitten by the cubbies, I deduced that the culprit was class troublemaker Jacob Little. After that day, I was obsessed. I began devouring Nancy Drew novels and even started writing my own. By the age of 16, my two passions in life were mysteries and writing.

    One September night, I got my first REAL mystery. I was at the museum, about two hours after closing time. I’d gotten there about five minutes before closing time and hid in the bathroom until I heard the janitor lock the front doors. There was one exhibit I just HAD to see.

    The new Famed Writers section.

    Recently, thanks to a fundraiser from the elementary school, the museum had enough money to add a new exhibit. By popular demand, they chose to dedicate one to great writers. I walked into the room and gasped at how realistic the mannequins were. Every writer I had heard of was there. Dr. Suess. Mark Twain. Edgar Allan Poe.

    I jumped when I heard the thudding footsteps. They were coming from outside, as evident from the sound of boots thudding against linoleum. Thinking it was a security guard who had discovered me, I hid behind the mannequin of Mark Twain. I waited until I heard the front door open and slam shut. I breathed a sigh of relief as I stepped away from the mannequin.

    Right into something wet. I looked down and saw a dark puddle at my feet. Unsure of what I had stepped in, I reached down and dipped a finger into the liquid. When I saw my finger in the dim light coming from the light sconces on the wall, I gasped. The tip of my finger was a dark red. I looked back down-and realized that the footsteps I heard weren’t from the security guard.

    Because he was lying dead at my feet. He was lying on his stomach, his head appearing to have been bashed several times with a blunt object. Blood covered his shirt and the floor around him. His eyes were frozen in a look of fear. My heart wanted to run, but my mind wanted me to stay and look for evidence. In the end, the detective in me won out and I looked more closely at the dead guard.

    The only thing I could find on the body was a red strand of hair. Thinking it would hold clues to his killer’s identity, I unhooked the cell phone he had clipped to his pants. His inbox was empty except for one message. But it gave me everything I needed.

    Brian: Peter, you fucking traitor. I helped you keep that dump of a house of yours and you kick me out? You’re gonna regret this.

    I knew Brian had to be the culprit. In an act of revenge, he snuck into the museum and murdered Peter in a jealous rage. I called the police and I showed them the text and the hair strand on Peter. They tested the hair and found it belonged to that of Brian Haggard, a drug addict with a long history of violence. When they tracked the message back to his phone and found the bloody bat used to kill Peter in his garage, they had all the evidence they needed to arrest him.

    “We shouldn’t have snuck in here, but you really helped us out.” The head officer told me. “You could be a great detective someday.”

    Little did Officer Douglas know that this wasn’t going to be our last meeting.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is a nice prequel to what could easily be a set of detective shorts, Trevor. I like the way you slowly built the mystery. 🙂

      My consistency checker is wondering why the cop didn’t chew her out for contaminating the crime scene (while still praising her for finding the body and calling them). The cell phone message would definitely be a better clue than the hair.

  37. Not-Only But-Also Riley

    Dear Family,

    I am gone now. Do not look for me because you will not find me. Besides, I do not want to be found and therefore I will make sure of it that I never am. But that is not why I am writing this letter. You already know I’m gone and already know you won’t find me. What you don’t know and didn’t count on, was that I’d leave this clue. I leave this just to mock you, just to poke fun at you inability to understand your son, brother, or whatever else I may be to the reader. While I did leave a clue, it is not one you will never understand, no matter how many times you read it, how many times you read it, how many different family members read it, or whatever you do with it. Because I am gone. And I do not wish to be found.

    I began that day, the day I knew I’d disappear, with a trip to the museum. A trip to the museum that I knew would be like no other, for on this trip, I’d disappear. Museum tour guides pointed at things. Boring monotone voices bombarded what I’d normally find fascinating with the unpleasant voices of those who thought facts could be trained into a person. Even with the commentary, I walked pleasantly through the museum and took it in. Harboring the secret that what I was truly doing was scouting out my hiding place. I know you, cousin, uncle, mother, are jumping up and down believing that to be the clue: that I am hiding in the museum. No, you are wrong. Despite me revealing a crucial piece of information to finding me, that is not what I’m trying to tell you. Gazing at the gorgeous works of wax men living behind glass, and the dinosaurs behind bars, and the many other masterpieces in frames and cases, I continued my search. Luckily, I’d decided soon where I belonged, among the faces in that museum that looked the most like mine would surely be the best place for me to hide. As soon as a booming voice made us aware the museum would soon close I slipped into the bathroom, where I would wait out as lights were turned off and my hiding place prepared. So, I believe that is it. Surely you caught my hint, hidden somewhere within this paragraph?

    Well, that is all I have time to write as I sit in this bathroom. Away I go to hide and cross my fingers guards do not catch me. XOXO (hugs and kisses), to mom and dad and whoever else feels they deserve them.

    1. Observer Tim

      This is an intriguing story, Riley. The concept of writing it in a “dear everyone” letter really works here, giving a sense that something is up without an actual reveal. I’m curious why the MC is choosing to disappear and where he/she is actually planning to hide, but revealing that mystery would spoil the charm of the story. Nice.

    2. regisundertow

      Well, that’s just going to bug for the rest of the summer 🙂 I think I’ve found a clue, but part of me thinks this is one big red herring.
      The tone is spot-on, for someone about to play the game of his life. I can almost hear the calm, mocking voice of your MC.

    3. ReathaThomasOakley

      Just my interpretation, but I feel a great sadness in this letter. I think your MC really wants to be found, wants the family to search. Nicely presented story.

  38. Hiba Gardezi

    I wake to the dusty sweet of midnight, the watery darkness swims on the cubicle door before me. It comes in through an opening…on the wall.
    Near the ceiling.
    Where am I?
    My eyes scan the place.
    I look below.
    I sit on a toilet.
    A toilet.
    Man, did I go to sleep in the bathroom?
    Oh no, no, no.
    This is bad
    This is very bad.
    I push open the cubicle door, leaving th bathroom… But stop.
    I stop before the mirror.
    I have always loved mirrors.
    I see this room washed with the blue canals of Venice dancing all around.
    I’m a tourist.
    That is all… Really.
    I just lost my flight.
    Nothing wrong.
    Nothing wrong.
    I look at my face now.
    This face marked by innocence.
    If only the owner were as innocent as it seems.
    But, no.
    This girl.. She lost this innocence.
    It is something foreign to her.
    After that… This girl has been through all sorts of stuff.
    But you?
    You don’t want to know.
    But enough talk of this girl.
    I am this girl.
    And she is I.
    And that is all there is.
    I wish my hands in the sink and slip out of the bathroom.
    Before me, it’s all just plain dark, long corridors.
    There’s a coolness to the air.
    Exhilarating.
    It scares me.
    I keep one hand in my pocket.
    Oh you know, just everyday stuff…breaking out of locked up museums. At night. In Venice.
    Its cool.
    My thing.
    Just one thing…I can’t see.
    There is an elaborate alarm system, for us…never mind.
    I can not just walk around not knowing where I’m going…
    I could turn on my eyes.
    But that would only tell them.
    My phone…was taken outside.
    My eyes.
    On.
    I walk in a dim light before the first one catches up. A looming figure… Jagged terth, torn lips … Bloodshot eyes.
    I can tell he’s old.
    The second however, comes out of a statue in the second hall. He’s strong.
    I get him against the wall.
    ‘ You disgusting…’
    It bellows and struggles but I have it.
    ‘Tell me where the are’
    It doesn’t speak.
    I bring out my knife test and cut him … Slowly.
    A huge chunk falls off.
    Oh he’s gonna be talking.

    1. Nicki EagerReader

      Nice stream of consciousness, Hiba. I’m not sure I got everything (or was supposed to get everything) but I got enough to know there’s a fascinating backstory (why was I thinking ZOMBIES!!! 🙂 ?). Typos: “wish” instead of “wash”, jagged “terth” instead of “teeth”. Otherwise a really good job!

    2. Observer Tim

      Whoa, poetic and dark. This is an interesting stretch for you, Hiba. I find myself wondering whether the POV character is a non-human or a career criminal. Either way, it’s not going to work out for the guard.

      Nice story! 🙂

    3. rav maneesh

      i have always enjoyed your work hiba all your storys start so fast with the reader extremely inquisitive and you end it with a cliff-hangar and you leave all the questions unanswered 🙂

    4. Reaper

      Wow, this did go dark for you. Intense and interesting. I’m hooked and want to know more about this apparent hunter of ancient ghosts and or demons. The one thing I caught was the sweet of night that I believe was meant to be sweat in your opening line. An amazing story that grabbed me by the throat.

    5. jhowe

      Very interesting and thought provoking. Your poetic style is fun to read (is that what you would call it…poetic style? Or is it ‘stream of consciousness as Nicki referred?). I was wondering, do you ever experiment with other or more traditional writing styles? It would be cool to see this type of prose in paragraph form and see what you could do with it. But I loved this just the way it is.

      1. rav maneesh

        Thanks …Call it what you will 😉 I really should try something else, should n’t I? This just comes so naturally, I do it every time. But I will try something new soon. Thank youuuu!

  39. TGray

    Finally, freedom. The last usher has passed through the exhibit halls to presage the closing doors. The last lights have gone out. The last air agitated by visitors has settled.

    Roderic cautiously cracks open the broom-closet door and peers out into the darkened hallway. He listens for a footfall, a voice, a creek of a chair-leg bearing the weight of an indifferent guard. He hears nothing more than a faint rumble, perhaps the traffic on the busy street outside, or maybe the whisper of the ventilation systems.

    Roderic opens the door a little wider, and looks both ways along the hallway. His eyes are accustomed to the dimness, after an hour in the closet, and he knows which way to go. He proceeds slowly, carefully, clutching the cloth duffel containing his costume in his left hand, hugging the wall on his right, acutely aware of the sound of his footsteps, as lightly as he’s walking, deafened by his need to gulp in air, as shallowly as he’s breathing.

    The crash door at the end of the corridor will be his first major obstacle.

    Before he tackles it, he puts his hand in his pocket for the hundredth time. The ring is still there, but he will check another hundred times before this night is over.

    Roderic has already been through the door many times today. He has traced and re-traced the route he is following, memorizing it, establishing alternates, testing out potential sources of noise and exposure, and determining techniques for minimizing both. The crash bar has to be pushed with the gentlest, yet firmest, of touches. As many times as Roderic has practiced, the bar gives with a clang that penetrates the still museum night and sounds like it must surely wake the dead who sleep in it. The door begins to swing open alarmingly fast. Roderic grabs at the retreating handle once, twice, then grasps it just before the door would have boomed into the wall. His heart is suddenly pounding, and he fumbles in his pocket again for the ring.

    After a pause to listen for guards rushing to the scene, Roderic proceeds down the corridor toward the Hall of Dioramas. Bypassing the opening to the hushed Hall, he quietly opens the next door. Now the third door on his right opens into the back of the Plains Indians exhibit, and he slips in and gently closes the door behind him.

    He has arrived. Now the long wait for morning begins. Roderic changes into his costume, faux leather leggings, a chamois shirt, a headband decorated with feathers, some paint for his face. He checks again for the ring, drinks the water he has brought, and settles in, ignoring the slowly growing discomfort in his bladder.

    It will all be worth it when Marie brings her school class to the museum in the morning. Roderic hopes the children won’t scream too loud when one of exhibit models suddenly comes to life, and asks their teacher to marry him.

    1. Observer Tim

      Okay, you got me with the reveal on this one. Marriage proposal then mischief charge but hey, it’s worth it for a gesture this romantic. Beautiful, TGray.

      My red pencil says you have too many commas in your sneaking sentence, which is a bit of run-on as well. To keep the length, lose the commas before “as lightly” and “as shallowly”, though it might be better to recast it as a couple of sentences.

      My red pencil also says “creak” not “creek” – spell check won’t catch that one.

      1. TGray

        Thanks for the feedback. The run-on was a choice, but maybe too jarring. I probably took the word limit too seriously, which cramped my style a bit in the few minutes I gave myself for editing. Thanks again.

    2. Reaper

      This is very sweet, loved your reveal. I was expecting something nefarious. In your sixth paragraph there is some awkward phrasing. Just a little chop in a smooth narrative flow. That’s one I’d suggest reading out loud and possibly revising but it may just be me.

      1. TGray

        Thank you for the feedback. I thought I was giving the game away with the multiple ring references, but I suppose my protagonist could as easily been a wannabe necromancer or something. I felt that “chop” you mention too, but I also thought maybe it was just me. I’ll take a little more time next go around. Thanks again.

    3. jhowe

      I liked this a lot. When he carried a costume, I had to keep reading. And then he checked for the ring, and I had to keep reading. So I kept reading and I wasn’t disappointed.

  40. Christopher Allen

    The summer of 1987 was a blistery one, every friend I had looked like raw crab meat. We quickly ran out of things to do, mom said we couldn’t play outside past nine o’clock in the morning because we might get a heat stroke and die. So we invented little games to play around the house, the kitchen table chairs became horses that pulled wagons across the wild west, and we’d get in gun fights with savage Indians, I took an arrow in the chest once and you had to pull with all your might to get it out. We both had pretty vivid imaginations.

    It wasn’t but two weeks in to the summer break and we were plum bored, mom saw a television commercial about the museum downtown, due to the extreme heat and hundreds of kids who couldn’t play outside, kids under twelve could take a tour for free. The idea of the museum didn’t sound like much fun to us, but it was that or help Dad in his car repair shop sweeping floors, or dragging barrels of oil from one end of the long warehouse to the other.

    Mom dropped us at the curb with a kiss and a promise to whack us raw if we broke anything. We climbed the long stone stairway to the grand entrance where a line of youngsters stood, some with their moms and some by themselves. I saw a side door that was slowly shutting after a suited man walked through it, I yanked your elbow and hissed at you to follow me. We skirted the line and made our way inside.

    Whoa! The T-Rex skeleton towered overhead, we pretended he was alive and we had to hide from him or else be ripped to shreds. We ran behind a waste basket next to the restrooms, you made your hand into a ray gun, popped up over the top of the wastebasket and fired two shots of ionized plasma, clipping him on one of his short arms.

    ‘Quick! Duck into the bathroom!’

    Boredom’s evil genius touched us again and we decided we would hide out until the place closed and slay the monster when he least expected it. Nightfall came, the museum was empty and dark, objects took on a sinister look here at night. The stuffed wolf looked like a blood thirsty werewolf with its curled lip and haunched back, instinctively we walked quietly elbow to elbow, nervously hugging the wall. The T-Rex was playing dead, he wanted us to come check to make sure, then he would snap his ferocious jaws and splinter our rib cages and paint the ceiling with our blood.

    We ran screaming towards the front door, banging loudly on the glass, begging for help. The T-Rex was awake now!

    ‘Please! Someone help us! Hurry!’

    I pounded so hard on the glass that my knuckles began to bleed, smearing the dark red all over, the T-Rex smelled my blood, smelled my fear; we were as good as dead.

    1. Reaper

      This was good, and the young voice worked well. I was wondering fantasy or reality by the end. The one thing that threw me at all was the sudden use of you. I looked back and saw this was second person all the way through but it started with we which could also be third person. I’d suggest throwing that you in there sooner to not cause the mental hiccup if you’re going with second person.

    2. jhowe

      This was an original little gem. I loved it when he clipped the T-Rex on his short arm. I pictured a Calvin and Hobbes type of relationship between the MC and the ‘you’ in the story. That probably wasn’t your intent but it’s wonderful that the story lets that happen in a readers mind.

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