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Snow Day Surprise – Your Brother’s Top Secret Job

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

The snow is coming down and school has been canceled. Your brother, who has an important government job, has asked you to watch his kids during the day so he can go to work. While watching his kids, they reveal something top secret about your brother’s job—and it’s something, for the sake of your family, that you need to stop.

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

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405 Responses to Snow Day Surprise – Your Brother’s Top Secret Job

  1. Amyithist says:

    The morning was crisp and hazy sunlight filtered through the dark clouds hovering above the quiet village. I came into the barn, wrapping my coat further over my shoulders. My breath steamed out in front of me as I approached Lady, my dearest cow. She nuzzled me softly as I approached and I returned the affection with a gentle rub of her nose. I slid my gloves from my calloused hands and bent low, resting my backside on the iced over stool. I found myself longing for the days of warmth; the gentle caress of the summer breeze wafting over the alps.
    Lady bellowed as my frigid hands encompassed her tit. I grumbled an apology; cursing the frozen grounds and flurries of snow starting to swell over the still air. The sound of the milk propelling to the bottom of the tin bucket seemed to echo the emptiness of the quiet morning. I shivered and leaned into Lady’s warm coat.
    “Hans?”
    My brother’s voice startled me. and I sat upright, turning slightly as he stepped onto the soft dirt floor. My eyes shifted slightly and I felt an overwhelming sense of embarrassment come over me. My barn wasn’t in the best of conditions; the old slats that I had been to ill to replace last summer hung about and lapped over one another with sloppy disregard; the loft above my head had holes through it and bit of snow fluttered in through the wide-set boards of the sinking roof.
    “Heinrich,” I stammered, struggling to my feet. “What-what are you doing here?”
    He slid his hat from his head and stepped in closer. “I’m sorry for the intrusion,” he began, inching in a little further. I noticed two small shadows behind him and my eyes shot back up to my brother’s ragged face. “I need to leave Henry and Olga here for a time. I have a special assignment and I can’t have them whilst I’m there.”
    I studied his clothing and I frowned at him as I stood, pulling my gloves back on. “Where is this place you go to,” I asked.
    He hesitated. “Auschwitz,” he murmured.
    I nodded at him, looking up at the bit of sky I could see between the boards. Somehow it looked even darker than before. “Is it true what they’re doing there,” I asked.
    He didn’t reply. He kept his eyes on the ground and I knew the answer. “How could you go there knowing what they’re doing? You-you don’t buy into what is being said, do you?”
    Heinrich looked back me. His jaw was set. His eyes were glazed over with determination and a hint of shame; but I knew from the look that he was going and there wasn’t anything I could say to deter him.
    “How long are you going to be gone,” I asked, defeated.
    “A year or more,” he replied.
    Silence settle between us for a long while. I thought about my mother who had married a man who raised my brother and I from the time we were very young. I wondered if the man that stood in front of me now would kill our father because of his bloodline. I suddenly saw a stranger before me; a man I wasn’t sure I ever knew. I thought about my brother as an old man and if the faces he was to see in the coming months would haunt him during his last stretch of life. I felt a weight and a sorrow for him that I hadn’t felt before and I found myself uncomfortable.
    I made the decision in such a haste I wasn’t able to consider the consequences. I didn’t think about the men waiting for my brother to report to them. I didn’t think about the terror and incapacity for understanding why I made my choice glaring back at me from my niece and nephews’ eyes… But I didn’t see that I had another option. Heinrich was my brother. I was his keeper and I knew that one day the things he did for his country would haunt him and puncture his heart like the jagged edge of a knife.
    I shot him just as he was about to climb back in his car. He fell to the snow. The blood flowing from his wound smattered against the powder with such contrast that I could hardly tear my eyes away. I watched as my brother lay there; gasping and staring up at me; no doubt wondering why I’d done it. I bent, grabbed his hand into mine and offered him what comfort I could muster. His grip was weak. He gurgled at me. I shook my head as tears splashed down my cheeks. “It’s better you die a young man without blood on your hands than an old man with thousands of souls haunting your every day,” I choked.
    After my brother died, I gathered his children. Olga was afraid of me. Henry glowered at me with such anger I thought I ought to keep one eye open until I could explain myself better. I felt for them. Their mother was dead. Now their father. And at my hand. But I ask you… What other choice did I have?

  2. Loneanimewolf says:

    Ella was screaming. Jolting up, my body was moving before i could think, my legs tangling in the thick blankets, sending me sprawling into the wall, arms flailing. The rebound launched me backwards and i landed on my back, slamming my head onto the wood floor. Hard. Still, my body was moving on auto-pilot, its destination set. Ella. Crawling, i managed to stumble to my feet and fling the door open. Bolting, i head toward her screams, slipping down the stairs, i froze. The scene that greeted me would haunt my dreams until the very last breath i took. Thirteen year old Ella was covered in blood, screaming at the top of her lungs, and her 3 year old baby brother Drew had his mouth locked on her wrist, shaking his head back and forth like a rabid dog, snarling. Frozen, i watched him gnawing her wrist, heard the greedy slurping noises he made. Ella’s weak “Au-aunty Mae-” snapped me out of my trance. I lunged, wrapping my arms around his body, and ripped him off. Ella screamed even louder, then cut off. Drew began struggling harder, an animal sound pouring from him. I held him away from me, turning in frantic circles’s looking for something…There! The dog cage! Walking slowly, trying to not trip on the blood, i got right in front. Then i saw my Black Lab Ernie. Or what was left of him. He was lying on his side, and at first glance he looks fine. But you can’t miss his whole stomach ripped open. You can’t un-see his insides. I vomited. But i tossed Drew in the cage, first, i locked it before i added vomit to the blood on the floor. I trying to figure what the fuck was going on, everything was fine when i put Drew in his crib and kissed him goodnight. What was wrong with him? Turning toward him, i gasped when i got a good look at his face. It was like someone had meshed his sweet baby face with a pit-bulls, i shivered when he opened his mouth and flashed bloodied fangs, his eyes were still the warm chocolate brown, but they were crazed. He wasn’t in there anymore. Tears pooled out of my eyes as i sobbed, he turned, then i started hearing a sand that made my hair stand on end. “Drewie…?!” I could hear it. I could hear my little three year old nephew eating my fucking dog. “Aunty Mae” Ella gasped. Spinning, i checked her wrist, my breath coming out in small, hurried pants. “Do-do you know…” I trailed off. Her baby blue eyes filled with tears as she nodded. “Daddy said-he said that he needed to do something-somethin’ to do with ex-ex-exper-” She broke off, clearly frustrated. “Experiments?” She nodded, “To-uh-make p-people stronger-or somethin’ like that.” Her brows drew together “I th-think he said someth-thin’ about finding a way to sup-prise China, cause’ America is China’s b-b-bitch, or something like that-Aunty Mae?!” My.god. My god Mygodmygodohmygodohmygod! What in the fuck did Boe DO?!

    • Loneanimewolf says:

      Wow…that’s dark…Oh, and, i’m not really following the word limit (my bad) but i’m really enjoying my self!! It was really hard to remember the part about him being a government guy, i really got caught up with the whole, 3 year old baby gnawing on a 13 year old arm. *guilty grin*

  3. AmeliaPond says:

    “Aunt Amy, can I play on the computer?” Called Lilly Jane from the dining room.
    “Uh, Sure!” I called prying Joe’s fingers from my dress.
    “That’s not Fair!” Screamed Tammy, Lilly’s older sister. “You said I couldn’t.” Tammy was eight, Lilly was six and Joe was eighteen months and just learning to walk. I had told Tammy no, I forgot.
    “Take Turns!” I said running over to the stove to turn off the boiling water.
    “NO! Her games take longer then mine.” Shouted Lilly running in. “She always gets to play longer.” I ran my fingers though my hair.
    “Can’t you play the same game?” I asked feeling frazzled and confused. My Brother had called me over, asked me If I could watch the kids and left before I could say ‘No, I’m sick.’ or ‘no i’m busy’ or ‘no I have work later.’
    “Lilly Always plays baby games.” Said Tammy crossly.
    “Well can’t you JOE STOP!” I shouted dropping my spoon and grabbing the baby’s shirt as he started a head first roll down the stairs. Tammy and Lilly raced each other into the other room. I continued with the posta till I heard a crash a sharp intake of breath and then silence.

    “Tammy? Lilly? What did you do?” I called turning off the stove and looking down the hall.

    “Tammy, you are going to be in so much trouble. I heard Lilly whisper.

    “Girls what did you do?” I asked picking up Joe and walking into the room. Tammy’s and Lilly’s little red heads disappeared round the corner and I heard two doors shutting. Curious I pshed open the door to My brother, Harry’s study. The big fancy computer was whizzing and a light was playing around the box. I walked over and squinted at the screen. A small emblem was revolving slowly in the center of the screen. Wondering what the big deal was a I clicked on it. The emblem vanished and three words appeared on the screen. -Operation Aruba- And below that was. -Targets-
    A whirl of photos flashed across the screen and arranged them on the right side of the screen. I clicked on the first one. It was an elderly man with a name I don’t know how to pronounce. A long list of digits typed out below the picture, which was rimmed in read. Above his name was written death by bomb. Confused I clicked on the next photo. I young dark woman named Aminou Elisha. The numbers flashed by again and the stats above the name read. Eradicate first. Her picture was rimmed in blue. I flipped through the photos. Kill in Bombing was the title above most of them. Others were eradicate first, but none of them said spare.
    Eyes wide I clicked the Title of the Operation. The first thing that came up was a diagram of a missile, the second was a list of Names. I spotted Harry’s at the top. The Third thing that flipped on the screen was just a timer. 134:19: 04. As I watched it changed. The number now read. 134:18:58.
    “Harry Your Bombing Aruba?” I said Shakily Squeezing Joe a little.
    “Yes.” I heard behind me. Harry put his hand on my shoulder. I Jumped I hadn’t heard him come in “How did you find this information?” He asked. I ignored his question.
    “Harry, we have family in Aruba.” I said quietly staring at the timer.
    “Amy don’t you think I know that?” He sighed rubbing over his eyebrows. I turned to look at him. The light from the hallway barely showed his face, maybe it as the sghadowing but he looked exhausted.
    “But Jackie, and Pete.” I said shocked, they were his god parents. “Harry, Rose is getting married in March.” Harry sat down in the chair by the table and leaned his elbows on the desk. Behind me I heard the clock ticking the seconds. Precious seconds until more than half of my mothers family was murdered.

  4. swatchcat says:

    The snowflakes started to grow into huge clumps on the windshield as the wipers pushed more to the sides. John bent forward and squinted to see through the quickly forming whiteout.

    “You kids still belted, right?” He asked nervously.

    “Yah,” they replied in unison.

    John dropped his kids safely at his sisters for the afternoon. When it came to John’s work, there was no time off even during whiteout conditions. He ran the situation through his head as he drove through the ice and snow. The glow of his headlight barely making any difference, all he could think about was his mission.

    Angie, grabbed her coat and gloves, snatched her purse from the wall and ran to the garage. “You’ve got everything, right?”

    “Yah mom, don’t worry. Just call me.” Julie, Angie’s teenage daughter waved as the SUV peeled out of the garage. Julie pushed the garage door button and went back to the warmth within.

    Angie new there was a chance to catch up with John. His old Studebaker was no match for her Ford Excursion. She was already in 4 wheel drive sloshing through the snow as she reran in her head what her nephews said.

    “He’s never coming back,” said Jake.

    “He said it was a matter of national security, something about duty,” Tayler continued.

    She kept driving. Duty, honor, God, Country, yah it was selfish of her to expect her brother to stay out of it but she understood his patriotism too. But what about her, what about her family. Her husband, John’s best friend had already given more than enough, his life. Now John, the only family she had left was at it too. “God and country my ass,” she mouthed as she pressed the gas.

    John could see the headlights in his mirror. They had been there for a while. He was being followed. He slid the gun from under his seat, and pressed the gas. He dialed his sister. “Angie, wait, listen, no, listen.” He was nervous.

    “John, what’s going on? No, I won’t.” She was agitated.
    “Listen Angie, I’m being followed. Listen damnit! There’s a chip in Jakes baby shoes, don’t give it to anyone but Bill McKay.” His tail was closing. He swerved and hit a curb.

    “John, what is it? Where are you, I coming now, probably not too far away.” She was panicking.

    “No Angie just guards the chip.” The phone went dead.

    She threw the phone on the seat and drove faster. She knew the route he took. He shouldn’t be far. Then she saw a glow of light in the distance. A couple of cars and people were standing around. She slowed and stopped, got out and went over to see John’s old Studebaker in the ditch engulfed in flames. He was gone.

    She turns and went home. Made at God, and country, she damned duty and honor. This country had taken enough from her. No one would get whatever it was that John had, no one.

    Several months later, “Yes, is Bill McKay there please? I have important information regarding a past agent, John Stark.” Angie fettled with the microchip as she waited.

    • swatchcat says:

      Among a few obvious problems and the second to last paragraph and spacing, how is it generally?

    • rainiemills says:

      Great story line… I would be interested to see where it goes from here.

    • snuzcook says:

      That was good, Swatchcat. I had some uncomfortable moments when I was afraid that the headlights John saw following him were Angie, and that he might in the blind whiteout shoot at her without knowing. It actually added to the suspense, and to my engagement in the story.
      I think the repetitive plot elements (Angie’s linking of past and present) were very well placed, keeping the story tightly cohesive.
      The resolution was satisfying. Only after rethinking it, did I wonder why she had to seek out Bill McKay. But then, there is also a hint that she might have been unwilling to cooperate ["no one would get ... it...] if he had approached her immediately after John’s disappearance/demise–perhaps she might even have denied having anything to share.

      Okay–those were specifics. Generally? I liked it!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I loved the story, swatchcat. Full of tension, mystery. [What the chip contained] God and country, a patriotic take on the prompt. I to wondered about the time spacing between John’s death and her contacting Bill McKay. Perhaps she didn’t trust him and had already discovered what was on the chip.

        • swatchcat says:

          Thank you everyone for your comments. I am sorry for the confusion. The Angie doesn’t give the chip up right away because she is resentful of the consequence/penalty she and her family had to pay “multiple” times for these men’s patriotism(duty, honor etc). It is the wives perspective of loss, that she refused to give up the chip to anyone. It is only after time, that she realizes her own responsibility to her brother/husband and what they lost their lives for that she returns the chip.

          • swatchcat says:

            Please forgive me, I am better then what is spitting out of me. I have thoughts and am trying to write but difficult. I just turn 45 and now I battling the FUCKING SHINGLES!!! I love to write and try, try, try but pain killers and antibotics abound I read over what I just submitted and feel like a drug addict with a gin slur….I could…no I have cried many times, all I can do is try to come up with ideas to write and keep my mind going

  5. TheDalek says:

    At first, I didn’t want to believe what Jake had told me, what he showed me. I couldn’t. It made no sense. I had known Brendon , my brother, since we were kids too young to walk. He would never, ever do something like that. Then, as I looked at my Jake and my niece, Cherice who were gulping down spoonfuls of fluffy vanilla ice-cream, I could deny it no more. The signs were there…

    All those weekends he went missing, note left at my door asking me to look after his kids. “Conference”, Brendon would say upon his return. Then, there were the occasions he brought in large black boxes. Tight-lipped he remained about those. And finally, the strangest of all. Not two months back, an odd man in a black hat and dark coat knocked on Brendon’s door. My brother answered the door and let him in, out of the autumn rain. I did not see him leave but when I went over the following day, the stranger was nowhere to be seen. He must have left in the dead of night.

    Why Brendon?! I screamed in my head. I thought you had a desk job in immigration, pushing papers or something. Then something clicked. Brendon was good at biology. Excellent in fact. And he had a thing for microscopes, I remembered but this… This would’ve required years of study and advanced training to even begin to understand.

    “Uncle Tim, can you take us to the park now?” said Jake, snapping me out of my reverie.

    I looked at the two, unsure of what to say just yet so I blurted, “Yeah, Jakey. You guys put your dishes in the sink first, ya?”

    Off Brendon’s kids went, racing each other to the sink. Their bowls landed with loud ‘clunks’, accompanied by the metallic clatter of spoons.

    Then, they came up to me. I had to make a decision now. Brendon would be back soon and I couldn’t confront him. Not with the children around. So, I grabbed them, once in each hand and made for the door. I would drive them away. For a while ‘till I got Brendon’s side of the story at least. To Aunt Mariah’s, I thought. Before I could reach the door though, there was a knock.

    I froze.

    “Is that daddy?” Jake and Cherice asked in unison.

    As my lips parted to answer, the wooden door shuddered as a fearful beating befell it. The kids hid and cowered behind me though I was as frightened as they. Jake began to cry. I wasn’t far from tears myself.

    “Open up!” a loud, gruffy voice demanded. It wasn’t Brendon’s. I told Cherice and her brother to run, run out the back door. All the way to Melanie’s two blocks away. “I’ll come find you later,” I promised, pushing them away. Out they scampered, frightened.

    With a deep breath, I opened the door.

    The odd man with the black hat and dark coat stood before me.

  6. Mick0712 says:

    Ever had one of those dreams in which the sounds you hear in it correspond to a sound you’re really hearing and the only reason you wake up it because the dang sound persists? Well maybe not, but it happens to me. In fact, it was happening to me this very morning.

    I crack an eyelid and look at the clock. Christ, it’s 11 AM!! Who is it out there treating my door like a piñata?
    I’m tempted to place the pillow over my head and ignore the discourteous individual when I hear the unmistakable voice of my brother hollering

    My internal monologue demands I tell him to hit the road, but some form of sibling loyalty induces me to holler back, “All right!! I’m coming!!”

    I was still hung over, and not really in any mood to do anything. But as I sat there and pondered the small possibility of slumbering a few more seconds, Bro started making like the little drummer boy on my door again.

    Promising myself my next house was going to be surrounded by a fence, with a locked gate and guarded by lots of large mean, underfed, dogs, I finally arose.

    Stumbling down the hallway, I grabbed t-shirt and slipped it on during my trek. Took me three tries, but I finally unlatched the chain and opened the door.

    “WHAT?!!” I shouted as calmly as I could.

    My brother was unperturbed, “I need you to watch the girls. School is closed due to snow and I’m running late!”

    My bro knew how to ask for a favor.

    Turning to address his ankle biters, Bro said, “Get in the house before he can shut the door again!”

    The girls seemed to believe him because they darted in before I could close the door. In the meantime, my brother was already making his way back down my drive and waving cheerfully at me. He seemed to take great amusement from me flipping him the bird.

    I closed the door and looked at my two new guests.

    “Shuck your jackets. I can’t make out who is who.”

    The girls began to follow my instructions and soon I could tell them apart. Each holding their bundle looking at me expectantly. They looked like orphans standing there. Cute girls though. I told my bro he made pretty kids.

    Taking each bundle from them, I tossed their gear on a nearby chair and asked, “You two hungry?”

    They both nodded. Of course they were hungry.

    “Go watch tv. I’ll get us something.”

    I made my way into the kitchen where I found the Captains Morgan and Crunch waiting; the former for me and the latter for them.

    Breakfast fixed, I made my way into the living room when I heard the girls talking.
    “Daddy says this assignment will be his last!”

    Assignment? He swore he was done with that type of work. Said once the girls were born it was too risky! And now he’s going on another? Screw that!

  7. Mick0712 says:

    Ever had one of those dreams in which the sounds you hear in it correspond to a sound you’re really hearing and the only reason you wake up it because the dang sound persists? Well maybe not, but it happens to me. In fact, it was happening to me this very morning.

    I cracked an eyelid and looked at the clock. Christ, it’s 11 AM!! Who is it out there treating my door like a piñata? I’m tempted to place the pillow over my head and ignore the discourteous individual when I heard the unmistakable voice of my brother hollering

    My internal monologue demanded I tell him to hit the road, but some form of sibling loyalty induced me to holler back, “All right!! I’m coming!!”

    I was still hung over, and not really in any mood to do anything. But as I sat there and pondered the small possibility of slumbering a few more seconds, Bro started making like the little drummer boy on my door again.

    Promising myself my next house was going to be surrounded by a fence, with a locked gate and guarded by lots of large mean, underfed, dogs, I finally arose.

    Stumbling down the hallway, I grabbed t-shirt and slipped it on during my trek. Took me three tries, but I finally unlatched the chain and opened the door.

    “WHAT?!!” I shouted as calmly as I could.

    My brother was unperturbed, “I need you to watch the girls. School is closed due to snow and I’m running late!”

    My bro knew how to ask for a favor.

    Turning to address his ankle biters, Bro said, “Get in the house before he can shut the door again!”

    The girls seemed to believe him because they darted in before I could close the door. In the meantime, my brother was already making his way back down my drive and waving cheerfully at me. He seemed to take great amusement from me flipping him the bird.

    I closed the door and looked at my two new guests.

    “Shuck your jackets. I can’t make out who is who.”

    The girls began to follow my instructions and soon I could tell them apart. Each holding their bundle looking at me expectantly. They looked like orphans standing there. Cute girls though. I told my bro he made pretty kids.

    Taking each bundle from them, I tossed their gear on a nearby chair and asked, “You two hungry?”

    They both nodded. Of course they were hungry.

    “Go watch tv. I’ll get us something.”

    I made my way into the kitchen where I found the Captains Morgan and Crunch waiting; the former for me and the latter for them.

    Breakfast fixed, I made my way into the living room when I heard the girls talking.

    “Daddy says this assignment will be his last!”

    Assignment? He swore he was done with that type of work. Said once the girls were born it was too risky! And now he’s going on another? Screw that!

  8. MaryWonder says:

    “Moves Like Jagger…yeah it moves like Jagger” sang 6 year old Nicky as he danced across the hardwood floor in my apartment. Music from my stereo poured into his ears, and his face was pinched as he tried to look like his favorite singer. He turned to me and smiled that smile which is a mirror of his Dad, my brother Nicholas Ford. A smile that could charm and sometimes deceive.

    It had been a few hours since Nicholas had burst through my front door with both of his children in tow. I had slept right through three of his attempts to reach me by phone. Late nights working on my latest sculpture left me passed out in my art room, numb to the outside world.

    “I need you Piper, I need your help with the boys!” Nicholas begged while standing above me. I stood up in a semi stupor saying “Sure, whatever, it’s fine!” Tired as I was, those two boys are always a welcome sight. I grabbed them both, covered in snow from the storm outside,”It’s okay, I’ve got this.” Nicholas kissed my cheek and I looked in his eyes full of fear-as if he were being chased.

    “Are you OK? You seem upset” I asked, pulling on his sleeve as he turned to leave.
    “Thank you sis, I’m good. See you tomorrow night.” He pulled his parka hood up over his head and moved back out into the cold morning air. Here and gone, like so many times before, and I shivered deeply as I watched him leave. Why did you leave in such a rush? What are you afraid of?

    “This dance party is great Aunt Pipe” Joey exclaimed as he dropped breathless onto the futon bed I had made up for them. I kept the bed ready and their gaming console in the corner of my living room just in case I had them over.

    “You are tired already? You just got here!” I grabbed Joey up onto my lap and kissed his head. He smelled like a mixture of sweat and soap bubbles.

    “You want a drink, or are you hungry like a hippo?” The boys loved my cooking-especially the blueberry pancakes dripping with butter and syrup.

    “Im a hippo-feed me!” Joey answered lowering his voice trying to sound like a large animal and not a 3 foot tall four year old.
    Thirteen pancakes later, all three of us were lying together on the futon bed watching Adventure Time Adventures of Finn and Jake.

    “Betcha Finn has a gun like Daddy” Nicky said as he pushed his fingers into the shape of a gun.
    “What do you mean- did you see your Daddy with a gun?” I asked, and held my breath waiting for a response.

    “Yes he has a gun and he shoots it like this- Pow pow Pow”.
    Not Nicholas,a chemical engineer who wears a lab coat, with a plastic pocket protector, name badge, single Dad, responsible, and yes he can be occasionally self centered with a bit of a temper.

    “When did your Daddy shoot his gun? ” I asked.
    Nicky answered ” I saw him shoot it on the TV; he was shooting it alot.”

    Why would he be shooting on TV? It’s a video of a class he is taking, or possibly one of those reality shows wants him to try out? My mind fills with unlikely scenarios and the realization that I am here with two boys whose Dad is someone I love but I don’t know. I had to know about the gun, and this secret about his life.

  9. Kendra147 says:

    I watch the car pull away, that old car with the stickers on its bumper and the dent in its side. I feel like a little kid again, watching him go away in that same car, off to his friends’ house.
    But it isn’t his friends’ house anymore. Its a job, probably an office job, a job he doesn’t like to talk about.
    I’m the one with a PHD in molecular biology. I don’t blame him for being ashamed. I, the little sister, have gotten my revenge. Except I never wanted it.
    I shiver in the freezing snowstorm. It’s cold.
    I’ve found that I love only the theoretical idea of it being winter, that I hate the reality of it. Just as I love the idea of biology, love genetics, but hate the reality of blood and guts.
    I’m the only vegetarian in the lab.
    I walk back into the house, where the gas fire warms me up in moments. Seth’s kids crowd around the fireplace, fascinated. Jack and Cassy. Normal names. There’s an older one, Andrea, but I don’t know where she went.
    It’s funny, how Seth ended up divorced, living in a little apartment with his three kids and second wife, and I’m living alone in a five bedroom house.
    “Do any of you, um, need anything?” I don’t know how to do this. I’m a scientist, not a form of childcare.
    “No,” Jack says. Cassy shakes her head, her pigtails slapping her in the face.
    “Do you know where Andrea went?”
    “No,” Cassy says. They turn away, stare at the fire.
    I remember when I was a little girl, wanting twin girls. I’d name them Estle and Liesrl. Fancy names.
    I find Andrea in the dining room, staring out the window at the snow. As I approach, I see her reflection in the glass. Tearful.
    “What’s wrong,” I say in my best sympathy voice. I’m not good at this stuff, at people stuff. I can deal with molecules, but humans, no way.
    “Nothing,” she says, sobbing.
    “What’s wrong.”
    “Everything.”
    “What?”
    “Seth is hurting people.” A particularly loud sob sounds from her throat, a sound of fright and sadness.
    “What?” Is this all I can say? Is there something I should be doing? She’s calling him Seth. Aren’t kids supposed to call their fathers Daddy or something?
    “He hurts and kills people. For his job.” What?
    I am silent. I call Seth, and he does not pick up. Unsure, I hug Andrea awkwardly, then we go to the kitchen and bake some awful cookies. I think that’s what people do on snow days.
    I’ll deal with this when Seth gets back. I’ll figure this out.

    • snuzcook says:

      Good story, Kendra147. You did a good job keeping the MC’s thoughts and actions consistent with the characterization you created.
      I was a momentarily confused by the comment about Andrea “There’s an older one, Andrea, but I don’t know where she went.” It seemed as if you were talking about someone who had been gone for a period of weeks, months, years; then she showed up in the dining room.
      Good response to this prompt. I look forward to your future posts.

  10. (Please forgive my 800+ word count. This is my first prompt!)

    FOR THE KIDS

    At 5:45 AM thundering booms jar me awake. I roll over blinking the fog from my mind as I read the green glow of the clock.
    BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
    I realize it’s my door being pounded on. I sit up alarmed, as I wonder who would be knocking. My phone rings to life and I see that it is my brother calling. Instinctively I answer.
    “Hello?” I grumble.
    “Wes, wake up. Let me and the kids in. It’s freezing out here,” my brother Scott pleads.
    I’m moving for my door before I even think, and find myself unbolting the lock. I swing it open as the blast of cold shocks me awake in spite of my budding hangover.
    “Uncle Wesley!” squeal my niece and nephew as they spill through the door and each wraps themselves around one of my legs.
    “Because of the snow Dad says we get to play with you all day!”
    I look up at my brother with eyes full of betrayal.
    “Wes, you know I wouldn’t ask you if I didn’t absolutely need it. School is closed today and I need the kids with someone I trust,” he explains. “I can’t take the day off and I know you need the money anyway.”
    He stuffs a few hundred dollars in my hand. I look at my older brother and see the determination in his eyes. His mind was made up before he ever got here. I know his job in the service is important, and he knows that I’m in between jobs. I’m not sure who is doing who the favor here.
    “No problem. I can take care of the munchkins today. I mean they can be pretty self sufficient,” I assure both my brother and myself.
    He gives the kids a hug and tells them to look after me with a wink. If I’m ever a father I hope I’m like him. He leaves quickly and I’m left staring at Aubrey and Jackson. They size me up and I realize I’m going to need coffee.
    “You two hungry?” I ask as I fill a coffee pot.
    Jackson doesn’t answer, he is fixed on my Xbox but hasn’t the courage to ask. Aubrey on the other hand is full of energy. She smiles at me with gleeful eyes.
    “I will have some coffee.”
    “I doubt that Aub, how about some cereal?” I counter offer.
    She concedes and I make the same for Jackson. I set Aubrey’s down on the table and Jackson’s on the coffee table. His eyes light up as I turn on the video games for him.
    “I could use some help on my gamer score Jackson. Just don’t tell dad.”
    He just snatches up the controller while Aubrey happily eats her breakfast. It occurs to me that it isn’t even 6:00 AM and these two are wide awake and beaming. I pour coffee into my mug and sit next to my eight year old niece. I take a long sip off the scalding liquid and use it to chase an aspirin.
    “You seem awfully excited. You this happy to be off of school?”
    “Daddy is helping Mommy be happy in heaven,” Aubrey squeals.
    I nearly drop the coffee.
    “What did you say?”
    Jackson looks up, and in the sternest five year old voice I’ve ever heard tells his sister to hush. She blushes trying to hold her excitement back. It’s like trying to turn a river off with a sink faucet.
    “It’s okay,” I nudge her. “What do you mean?”
    Their mother was murdered three and a half years ago. It was a random act of violence that shocked a community. The killer was never caught, and my brother has never let it go. For a brief time he had seemed almost happy again, but lately a bitter Scott was leaking through. He had been working a lot lately, and now I finally wanted to know on what.
    “Daddy says he found another bad man, and he is going to make it fair again,” she explains as she stirs her milk.
    Behind me I hear gunshots as Jackson plays a violent game. I’d pause to rethink that if I wasn’t so rattled about what Aubrey had revealed. I snatch my phone and disappear into the other room. I’m frantically dialing with shaking hands. The phone rings for an eternity until Scott picks up on the other end.
    “Are the kids okay?”
    “They’re fine; except for they think you’re going to kill somebody. What are you doing?” I demand.
    “They don’t know anything and neither should you.”
    “Scott, killing somebody isn’t going to bring her back!”
    “What do you know? I see her every time I look at my kids. They deserve to know that whoever took their mom away has paid for it. I’m going to make sure this time. This has to be the right guy.”
    “What do you mean this time? Scott stop it. You can’t do this.” I plead.
    “Take care of my kids until I get back. It will be over soon.”
    The line goes dead.

  11. qwertykiller says:

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him. And the electric bill was too much for him. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyway, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car.

    Before Kell could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.” Ken frowned.

    Once again, the annoying official walked out of Kell’s house. Would be better if he did not come again. Kell thought to himself as he continued towards the kitchen. As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy?” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister. Kell found it amusing that Kelly’s name was so similar to his but yet did not like him quite as well, but he did not take offense from her comment. He never liked to speak. It had always brought a chill to his heart.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother any more.

  12. Qkiller says:

    532 words.

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him. And the electric bill was too much for him. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyway, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car.

    Before Kell could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.” Ken frowned.

    As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy?” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother any more.

  13. Qkiller says:

    A lot over the word limit, but I just felt like typing and couldn’t stop. I’ll admit that if I added a lot of useless stuff in, but it just doesn’t feel good if I took some stuff out. My first piece of work here. Enjoy. :D

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him anyway. And the electric bill was too much for him anyway. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyway, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car. Weird, Kell thought to himself. A government official, an important one, driving a car like that. With that, Kell closed the door and headed to the kitchen to get the girls some drinks.

    Before he could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.” Ken frowned.

    Once again, the annoying official walked out of Kell’s house. Would be better if he did not come again. Kell thought to himself as he continued towards the kitchen. As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy.” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister. Kell found it amusing that Kelly’s name was so similar to his but yet did not like him quite as well, but he did not take offense from her comment. He never liked to speak. It had always brought a chill to his heart.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother any more.

  14. PGS says:

    Jack called at 7 asking me to watch the kids. A chemist for the CWP Jack worked long hours, and often on weekends. Julie walked out four years ago, leaving him with the twins, so I help out whenever I can. The kids, a mess after she left, now were busy with friends and sports, are much better. Jack, however, seemed to have no reaction. I just figured he shut down, avoiding the whole thing. You know how men are about their feelings.
    Coming into the kitchen, they seemed unusually quiet drying and putting away the dishes. “What are we gonna do, Aunt June?” Sally asked, as the last glass was put away. “Sam wants to make a snow fort for tomorrow.” “Your dad may have other plans for the weekend.” I said, trying to be diplomatic. Spending the day wet and cold was not my idea of fun. “Dad won’t care, he won’t be h….” Sam clamped his hand over his mouth, Sally kicked him. “Your dad didn’t tell me he was out of town!” I said looking at the two shocked and guilty faces. Neither said a word. “All right, out with it.” “What’s up?” After some prying and a few false starts the tears came. Through sobs I gathered Jack told them he had to go to England to supervise a job. The job, a big secret, no one was supposed to know “…but we know he’s lying” sobbed Sally, they started crying again. “Ok” I said, gathering them up for a hug. “We’ll get to the bottom of this” I tried to sound calm. Getting my cell phone, I had one text. “Take care of Sally and Sam and don’t let them eat the vanilla ice-cream.” Not sure what to make of it, but not to ready to share this information, I asked the kids to check out the study. I looked for vanilla ice-cream. Sure enough there was a half-gallon in the freezer. The note on the inside of the lid read, “Janet, I have to leave”. “Take care of Sally and Sam.” “Sell the house. Take the money move to Utah with your mother.” (Funny he said “your mother” not mom.) Taped to the note was a small key. Sending Sam and Sally upstairs to check the bedroom, I called Jack’s office. The mechanical voice “this number has been disconnected”! Calling the FBI I asked for Jack MacAntie, “I’m his sister and need to find him.” Immediately a new voice came on the phone demanding to know where I was, ordering me to stay put. Ten minutes later two big black SUV’s skidded up the driveway, six men jumped out, guns drawn, beating on the door yelling “FBI, Open up!” Looking at the scared faces, I opened the door, all 6 men pushed in at once. As the other 5 went through the house searching for whatever they thought they would find Mr. Jackson told me about Jamal, or Jack as we knew him.

    • snuzcook says:

      Good, creative take on the prompt, PGS. It was fun following the weirder and weirder revelations as you doled them out. I found I wanted to read more, partly to find out how the MC could possibly have a brother with a false identity.
      A tip: When you cut and paste or post direct on this site, it is helpful to insert an extra space between each paragraph for ease of reading.

      • PGS says:

        Thanks for the complements! Initially this story was much longer. The brother, I had in mind, to be some sort of spy infiltrating the USA!!

        Also, thanks for the tip. I will make a point to leave spaces between paragraphs!

  15. Lyrical says:

    “Mommy, mommy, the man on the TV said there’s no school!” screamed my eight- year- old daughter as she burst through my bedroom door. Still in bed, buried under the covers, I’d been fighting with the alarm clock for about about ten minutes, my finger on the snooze button ready to tap it again.

    “What”? I said sleepily, and opened my eyes just enough to peer out the window. From where I was laying, I could see large snowflakes falling quickly, the tree branches laden with white.

    “Good, you can watch some cartoons then. I’ll be down in a few minutes to fix breakfast”. I rolled over and sighed, stretching out a bit, thinking of all the plans I’d had for the day that would need to be cancelled.

    I had just put my feet over the edge of the bed when the phone rang, the pitch unusually shrill so early in the morning. “Hello”? I said tentatively. I knew my husband was out on the west coast on a business trip and wouldn’t even be up at this hour.

    “Hey sis”, the voice spoke on the other end. “I got a favor to ask you”.

    “Hmmm.. let me guess.. it’s your turn with the kids, and it’s a snow day… and hmmm.. you can’t miss work because you’re in the middle of something important for the government head honchos. Did I get it right?” I tried to sound jovial.

    “You got it”, my brother says quickly. “There’s something going at work that I can’t talk about. You know how it goes”.

    “Bring them over. We’re here.” I answered, trying to sound more than happy to help, but dreading the long day with my five- year- old neice and nephew. The twins had been a real handful since my brother’s divorce a year ago, and the kids were acting out a bit.

    So there I was with the twins and my daughter, the snow falling, and the prospect of the long day loomed ahead of me. As soon as my brother’s car had left the driveway, the twins began to whine. “we’re bored… we don’t have our toys and we want something to eat!”

    I pleaded with my eight- year- old to search her closet for some things they could play with while I scrambled some eggs and put some bread in the toaster.

    “Sit down at the table.” I said, as I put some blank paper and some crayons in front of them. “Breakfast will be ready in a minute”.

    The twins took the bait quickly and went at drawing some pictures on the blank paper. When the eggs were done, I buttered the toast, and placed a child portion of the breakfast on their plates.

    “Here you go” I said cheerfully, and began removing the paper and crayons from the table.

    As I picked up my nephew’s picture, my eyes were riveted on his illustration, depicting a scene so violent in nature that I gasped out loud. I then glanced over at my niece’s artwork and saw a similar drawing. Both revealed frightening looking alien- type creatures with various types of weapons attacking humans. My jaw must have dropped as I studied their creations.

    “Do you like them Auntie? Daddy said if we ever see these aliens, we’re supposed to run into a special room he made in the basement” my neice reports matter-of-factly.

    Hearing my daughter’s footsteps, I quickly secured the two pieces of gruesome artwork on top of the refrigerator, away from her young eyes.

    “Mom, I found some dolls, and a couple of games, and a puzzle I had when I was little.” She carried a few things in her hands and plopped them on the kitchen floor. “The rest are in the family room”.

    I was too stunned at the horrific pictures to say a word. I mumbled a “thank you”, proceeded to pour myself a cup of coffee, and sat down across from the twins.

    “So, tell me again what your daddy said?” My eyes searched their two little faces for anything that would offer a clue as to why they would draw such terrible scenes. I found it hard to believe that my brother would put such notions into their young heads and wanted to get to the bottom of this quickly.

    My little neice, in her child-like innocence gave me a sarcastic smirk. “Well he didn’t really TELL us, we listen through the vent sometimes when daddy talks on the phone at night. He’s buyin’ us lots of toys and stuff so we won’t tell about the room he made, and the aliens and… Uncle Mike!”

    At the mention of my husband Mikes name, I shot her a stern look. Upon seeing that, she piped up again “ well ok….I’ll tell you though, but don’t say I did!“

    My nephew interrupted. “Shhhh.. your not supposed to!”

    I looked at both of them quite seriously now and asked my daughter to go find something for them to watch on TV as she had just finished with her breakfast. She left the room and I began to question the twins.

    “You can tell me.” I said as kindly as possible, hoping that my niece would continue to talk.

    “Well, I heard daddy say to somebody on the phone that Uncle Mike is
    training for something like bein’ a spy or somethin’” my 5 year old neice recounted to me between bites of her toast. “Daddy says the aliens are gettin’ closer and he needs everybody to be ready to help”.

    My eyes open wide in disbelief and I look at my nephew for validation of this bizarre revelation. “Is this true?” I just about screamed.

    My nephew nods and says “yup” with his mouth full.

    I could hardly hear the children’s voices then, my heart pounding so loud as I moved across the room to the phone. I dialed my husband’s cell phone number. “Hello?” said a strange male voice on the other end.

    Thinking I had the wrong number, I quickly apologized and hung up. As soon as the phone was back on the hook, it rang.

    “Hello? “ I said tentatively.

    “Honey, did you just call. One of the guys picked it up.”

    “Where are you???” I shouted.. “What are you doing? And did my brother put you up to something?” I was nearly in tears at this point. The twins were looking sheepish, and quietly climbed out of their chairs and ran into the family room to join their cousin.

    “I’m afraid I can’t answer that. “ He responded frankly and with an unusual tone I had never heard him use before.

    “I want you to come right NOW!” I begged. “ Whatever it is, you don’t need to do it!” my face was red with anger now, and I was furious.

    “Please believe me. This is important and involves the safety and security of our country. “ I heard him say, this time with more authority than before.

    Just then the phone went dead, the lights and the TV go out, and the children come screaming into the kitchen.

    THE END

    • don potter says:

      Why would the brother allow his children to be away from the “safe room” if he suspected the aliens were about to invade?

      • Lyrical says:

        Good point. It isn’t clear is it.. hmm.. .I was writing under the assumption that the alien invasion was a ways off and wasn’t an imminent threat. The power outage at the end could have either been from the snowstorm or an unexpected invasion :) Thanks for reading. This was my first post.

    • snuzcook says:

      I like the many ominous elements you introduced to make the MC squirm and to make the reader squirm along with her. They were not all believable, exactly, but they were introduced at such a pace as to make that fact almost a factor in itself, putting the story on the edge of a comedy-thriller though I don’t think you intended it that way. The power outage was a nice touch for a classic shock ending.
      A few minor issues that a few more pass-throughs would catch, like verb tenses and other editing bits.

  16. Qkiller says:

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him anyway. And the electric bill was too much for him anyway. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyway, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car. Weird, Kell thought to himself. A government official, an important one, driving a car like that. With that, Kell closed the door and headed to the kitchen to get the girls some drinks.

    Before he could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.” Ken frowned.

    Once again, the annoying official walked out of Kell’s house. Would be better if he did not come again. Kell thought to himself as he continued towards the kitchen. As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy.” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister. Kell found it amusing that Kelly’s name was so similar to his but yet did not like him quite as well, but he did not take offense from her comment. He never liked to speak. It had always brought a chill to his heart.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother any more.

  17. Qkiller says:

    Cold

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him anyways. And the electric bill was too much for him anyways. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyways, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car. Weird, Kell thought to himself. A government official, an important one, driving a car like that. With that, Kell closed the door and headed to the kitchen to get the girls some drinks.

    Before he could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.”

    Once again, the annoying official walked out of Kell’s house. Would be better if he did not come again. Kell thought to himself as he continued towards the kitchen. As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy.” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister. Kell found it amusing that Kelly’s name was so similar to his but yet did not like him quite as well, but he did not take offence from her comment. He never like to speak. It had always brought a chill to his heart.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother anymore.

  18. Qkiller says:

    Cold

    Cold. Always cold. It had always been cold for him anyway. And the electric bill was too much for him anyway. Working at 3 part time jobs did not help his situation at all. Putting down the book in his hands, Kell walked towards the heater. Not that it keeps me warm anyway, he thought to himself as he slowly edged towards the machine. Just as he was about to press the red “OFF” button, the doorbell rang.

    He walked towards the door, and peered outside. It was Ken. And his daughters. Tsk. Now he had to keep the heater on. Kell opened the door, only to be greeted by a warm hug by his brother. After prying apart his warm hands, he lightly pushed his brother backwards. He hated proximity. “As cold as always, huh, Kell?” Ken commented while grinning.

    “Hell of a weather outside huh?”

    No reply.

    “Heard school’s been canceled, no?”

    No reply.

    “Well, I’m gonna need to go to work now, so could you watch for my daughters for a bit?”

    A moment of silence.

    “I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

    “Be good, girls!”

    With that, Ken spun around and headed towards his run-down car. Weird, Kell thought to himself. A government official, an important one, driving a car like that. With that, Kell closed the door and headed to the kitchen to get the girls some drinks.

    Before he could make another step, Ken walked into the house again. With his boots on.

    “Oh, and Kell? You sure you want to continue like that?”

    Again, the silence greeted him.

    “Tch, fine. Bye.” He frowned.

    Once again, the annoying official walked out of Kell’s house. Would be better if he did not come again. Kell thought to himself as he continued towards the kitchen. As he boiled the water over the stove, Kell heard his nieces converse.

    “I don’t like it here with Uncle Kell. He rarely speaks. Why couldn’t Dad leave us with Aunty Macy.” It was Kelly, that voice. The elder sister. Kell found it amusing that Kelly’s name was so similar to his but yet did not like him quite as well, but he did not take offence from her comment. He never like to speak. It had always brought a chill to his heart.

    “She’s out, Kelly. You know that.” Carol. Kell thought to himself.

    “Argh, why did Dad had to leave us just to play with corpses in his office!” Kelly sighed with frustration. “All he ever does is bringing those damned undead into the office, and sometimes even home.”

    “It can’t be helped you know, Kelly. Hopefully Dad will be faster and find out how to kill zombies.”

    A sigh. “Yeah, I wish.”

    Undead. Zombies. Kill. These words flashed through Kell’s mind. Now that he thought about it, wasn’t Ken working in the biology department? They could not have. They could not have moved him to the Undead department. Or did he volunteer? No way. Kell panicked, putting down the cup he had in his hand, dashed past the two sisters, dumbstruck, and headed towards the road, phone in hand, trying to contact his family.

    No way. No way. He was the one who opposed the most. But this? No way. No way in hell would he try to kill his family.

    The car crash. Blood everywhere. The injection. His family. The memories flashed through Kell’s head as he ran down the lane, to find his brother. If he would even call him his brother any more.

  19. SNOW DAY
    =========

    Ellen loved her brother, of that there was no doubt. He worked hard to provide for his kids despite the long hours threatening to destroy his marriage to Kate. Gary tried and Auntie Ellen was always there to pitch in with the boys.

    She scrapped at the frost on the window and peered upon the newly frozen wasteland. Her cell rang and Ellen rolled her eyes to the empty kitchen.

    “Hey, Gary,” she said then paused. “Sure, I’ll watch ‘em. See you in a few.”

    Ellen dressed and crammed in a couple cigarettes, shivering on the back stoop. She put on a fresh patch and chugged the rest of her tea. A long day loomed before her; the twins were awesome, but five-year-olds were still perpetual motion machines. She sighed and readied for the onslaught.

    The explosion of sound made her laugh. At one moment it was just plain Ellen, the cat and a ticking clock; the next she transformed into Auntie, famed superhero to Ethan and Jayne.

    They scurried past her and chased the cat in an ad hoc game of hide and seek. Socks would emerge victorious… eventually.

    “Thanks for this, El,” said Gary, looking more harried than usual. “Kate’ll pick ‘em up after work. She’s dropping me off at the airport on the way.”

    “It’s a typical snow day. It’s sticky so I imagine snowmen and forts are the order of the day. They’ll be okay. When will you be back?”

    “I dunno.”

    “A deployment?”

    “Yeah. I can’t tell you where. The Outfit hasn’t even told me yet.”

    Ellen blanched. This wasn’t a normal trip. Usually, the Outfit missions were public, often political. She’d see his face on TV and the feeds. Diplomat. Negotiator. Peacemaker.

    But, sometimes they were secret; the mission necessitated a different skill-set, and a Gary neither she nor Kate knew. Lawman. Warrior. Assassin.

    He talked in his sleep afterwards said Kate, a fact she only shared with Ellen. If the Outfit knew, their quaint little life might change. As it was, the Gary that returned home wasn’t the same Gary that left.

    She trembled with red eyes. Gary hugged his sister and held her for a moment and said, “It’s okay. I’ll be safe. See ya later, sis.”

    Ellen watched the four-wheel-drive pull away, Kate at the helm, as the boys cozened up to her for cookies. She banished them outside while it was somewhat mild. There would be plenty of time for movies and treats later.

    All in all, it was a good day. Kate was late so Ellen fed Ethan and Jayne, then tucked them into the spare bed. It always struck her how much they looked and acted alike yet still managed to be different. Ethan led like his dad while Jayne’s impulsiveness was more his mom’s trait.

    Kate came in quietly and the ladies sat at the kitchen table drinking tea. Ellen watched as Kate absently stirred her cup and stared at the tablecloth. The wind was picking up again, rattling the windows.

    “He’s not coming back, is he?” she said, not looking up.

    “I don’t think so. Not this time.”

    Sister and wife sat in silence, their cups never empty, and waited for sunrise and the storm to pass. It would be another snow day. Maybe they’d have pancakes for breakfast.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Amazing story line, dialogue and descriptive prose. This story is so good, don’t touch it. Continue on with it into a novel. I’m sure you’re working on other projects but I’d like to convince you to carry forward. I do believe it’s the best piece of prose, I’ve read from you and considering your posts, that’s quite a feat to accomplish.

      Sounds like a suicide mission. Kerry

    • snuzcook says:

      Great, Doug!
      The last four paragraphs tell an entire story. Well done.

    • agnesjack says:

      I was intrigued by this story, Doug, and the underlying sense of sad resignation. As Kerry said, there is much more of a story here.

    • don potter says:

      Throughout history families have faced the possibility that those going off to serve their country may never return. Your tale made this all too real, Doug. Great job.

  20. snuzcook says:

    [I wasn't going to post this time. Had a hard time warming to this prompt, and as it is I had an even harder time paring down my word count. I am l-o-n-g, so I know not all may take the time to read it. But couldn't bring myself to sit this one out. Aside from length, would enjoy feedback if you choose to give it.]

    JEOPARDY

    “I don’t want them alone today.”

    “But where’s the nanny, what’s-her-name.”

    “Gretchen? Something came up and she’s not here. Look, Syl, I need you to do this for me. It’s not like I ask a lot of favors.”

    He was right. My big brother almost never asked me for any favors. He was the one I always ran to, my brother the FBI man.

    “I’ll be there as soon as I can get my car out of the snow bank out front.” When I got to the house, my brother was already in his SUV. He just waved and sped off down the street. He had said he was in a rush to leave, but still I thought that was rude.

    I found the kids in the kitchen, They were dressed in layered pants and shirts, matching red boot-socks on their feet. A bowl in front of each contained cold cereal in unnaturally vivid colors. “You look like you’re ready to tackle the North Pole.”

    “We’re going to build a snow fort.” Sara said.

    “Dad was going to show us how.” Michael said, “Do you know how to build a snow fort?”

    “Sure, your Dad and I used to make ‘em all the time. We had some great battles. But first you got to have a decent breakfast. I tell you what, I’ll make you my famous bacon, cheese and jelly waffle sandwiches. How’s that sound?”

    “Yay!”

    As I located all the things I would need, I nearly tripped over the dog’s bowl by the cupboard.
    “Hey, where’s Pirate?” Their golden retriever was usually the first one to the door when I came in. But there was no sign of him today.

    “Gretchen took him yesterday to have his teeth cleaned or something.”

    “Oh, yeah?” I asked. A premonition prickled my shoulders. My sister-in-law, Missy, told me once that he had almost died when she took him to a groomer because of a heart condition. She cleaned his teeth herself.

    “When is your mom coming home?” I asked.

    “She was supposed to come home last night. She called and said the weather was too bad.”

    “You talked to her?”

    “Sure, she sounded funny, like she had a cold. She talked to Dad. He closed the door in his office when he talked to her.”

    “Yeah, he only closes the door when it’s work, or when he’s going to yell at someone.”

    “But we didn’t hear any yelling.”

    “And he was awful quiet when he came out.”

    I busied myself at the stove, my back to the table. My mind was going a mile a minute. I carried the plates with messy breakfast sandwiches to the table.

    “You know what else?” Sara said. “He didn’t go to bed last night.”

    “How do you know?” I asked.

    “Because I got up real early to look at the snow, and he was in his office.” She lowered her voice. “He was cleaning his gun.”

    “Oh, he does that all the time, doesn’t he? He has to.”

    “No, not his hand gun. His big gun, the one with the microscope.”

    “’Scope, silly. And it’s called a rifle.” Michael corrected his sister, then to me he added. “He told me once he would never use that gun again. He said he wasn’t ashamed of anything he ever did, but he would never use it again.”

    That’s when all the pieces fell into place. I didn’t know why, yet, but I was absolutely certain that Missy was not on a business trip, and Pirate would not be coming home today. More than that, I knew that my brother’s world was crumbling around his ears, and he was about to do something desperate. Somehow I had to find a way to stop him.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Oh, that was good, snuzcook. You left the reader to finish his own story. I had all kinds of thoughts running when I finished your last sentence. I don’t know if Syl killed the dog first and then was traching his wife down and her possible lover but whatever you had in mind, you need to finish it somewhere!

      Your story was well written, building tension after each set of dialogue. You’ve nailed this prompt.

      • snuzcook says:

        Thanks Kerry!
        So many parings left on the floor with this one. Spoiler alert: Missy is being held hostage by a political group to force the former FBI sniper to carry out an assassination. Gretchen was an infiltrator for that group, and she got rid of the dog so he wouldn’t raise the alarm when they snatched Missy. I should have been able to put all this into 500 words, but this week it just wasn’t working for me.

    • don potter says:

      The story offers lots of ways for my mind to run with. PTSS is a scary thing. Many of those serving in Vietnam came home with it. And, now those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with it. There’s no reason to believe that ex-FBI agents are immune from this kind of stress. Your post brings this problem to light.

    • Great PTSD piece, snuzcook. I was pretty freaked out by the time I got to then end.
      So. Many. Questions. :)

    • frankd1100 says:

      Snuzcook, you give just enough information to allow a reader’s imagination to fiill out the story which, I think, is more enjoyable than being fed every detail.

      A well structured tale that left me wanting more.

  21. stoked says:

    “There go my plans for the day” I think too myself as I watch my brothers car pull out onto the snow covered street. My wife had taken our kids out to breakfast and a movie so I could get some work done, but now that wasn’t going to happen.

    He called me last minute asking if I could watch his kids. School was cancelled due to the snow and he had an urgent situation at work. He worked for a top secret government agency, doing some sort of highly classified work that he wasn’t allowed to discuss.

    “I’m starving what do you have to eat?” Veronica, the oldest, asks.

    “Dad didn’t make us breakfast” chimes in Robert, his youngest.

    “Lets see what we can dig up” I tell them as I walk towards the kitchen.

    Scouring the cupboards I overhear them talking about Daddies big adventure.

    “What’s your Dad up to now?” I ask them.

    “We can’t tell you, it’s a secret!” Veronica tells me with a devious smile.

    “Yeah we aren’t even supposed to know” chimes in Robert.

    “Well if you aren’t suppose to know how did you find out?” I ask.

    “We heard him talking on the phone last night” whispers Veronica.

    The kids look at each other for a second, I can tell they are dying to give up their secret, they just need a little nudge.

    “How about I whip up my world famous hot dog flavored french toast?”

    “Yes!” They scream.

    “First you have to tell me the secret, don’t worry I wont tell anyone.”

    “Daddies getting some bad guys” Robert blurts out.

    “What bad guys?” I ask.

    “The bad guys that are making the cakes” Veronica says in a hushed voice.

    “What!” I gasp. The words hit me like a bat to the stomach. I feel light headed and the room is spinning. The government had outlawed cake as part of their war on obesity years ago but there was a don’t ask don’t tell policy on the illegal cake trade.

    I’m no criminal and I know the evils of baked goods, but once a week I stop by the underground bakery and buy a small cake for my family. There was no way I could let cake time be ripped away from us, it was the one thing that held our family together. Sure I suppose we could learn to bake, but it would take years to achieve the level of cake mastery the crew at the bakery had, plus where would I find all the outlawed ingredients? That stuff could only be purchased from the blood thirsty gangs that controlled the illicit baking goods trade, the type of people you didn’t want to deal with under any circumstances.

    I rushed for the phone, I had to tip off the bakery, let them know a raid was coming and give them time to clear out of there. I knew what I was doing was illegal but dammit I need cake!

    • agnesjack says:

      Hot dog flavored french toast? Ewww. Anyway, this had a surprise twist that I found very entertaining. God forbid that we citizens should make lifestyle choices, good or bad, for ourselves, eh?

      (little nit: there were some tense shifts, which I’m sure you would have caught with one more read.)

      • stoked says:

        Thank you for the feedback! I’m still new to this whole writing thing and I know I have a ton to learn so I appreciate the constructive criticism. I’m going back to make some revisions now.

    • don potter says:

      Good job. You might consider losing the affirmations and/or descriptions after each piece of dialogue in order to allow the conversation to flow.

      • stoked says:

        Dialogue is something I really need to work on, getting the conversations to flow naturally has been a bit of a struggle. As I write it I feel the need to point out who is saying what and how they are saying it. Hopefully it gets easier with practice.

    • frankd1100 says:

      A creative angle on this prompt. Well done.

      Dialogue done well, carries the story. I’ve learned from the technique of the more experienced writers in this site. You’ll find those most helpful for your syle and then just continue to write as much as possible.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Save Cake Time !!!

      • Silver Sister says:

        Oops. That posted before I was done. I liked your idea for the prompt. It reminded me of how certain foods are important in different families. For example, a bowl of black olives is always present at our big family dinners. Kids like to top their fingers wth them and eat them that way. Adults just like the taste (maybe because of the fun memories attached). Other families probably have more sane ones like Grandma’s chess pie or Aunt Theresa’s hasbrown casserole. That’s probably not exactly what you were going for, but it made me smile all the same.

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      First there was the War on Drugs, then the War on Terror, then came the most hideous villain of all… the War on Obesity. Nice twist, I personally can’t imagine giving up eating cake.

    • Qkiller says:

      nice. totally different style from what the others. humorous in fact. well done. :D

  22. jamesroderick says:

    Eleven year old Elsie wasn’t sure what she was seeing from the back seat of her parents car. Her brother Jimmy was fast asleep in his car seat, head hanging sideways, the oblivious luxury of being 3 years old she thought to herself. She wiped the condensation from the window to look again.

    Elsie loved coming to the White House where her dad worked. The security check ins, going through the gates, she felt so important. But it was unusual to be here after 9 pm. Another late night for him and his car wouldn’t start. Snowstorm Hercules was fast approaching and her mother wanted to get him home safely. So there Elsie was, with mom and Jimmy, the car running, heater on full blast. That was part of the problem. Outside spit would freeze before it the ground, inside you’d think you were in the Florida Keys. Can’t stop the condensation. She smears a circle on the window to look out.

    There he was, in a full navy colored jumpsuit, pulling at a large container. Elsie looked harder, what was he doing… Just then a blast of cold air intrudes on the tropics. “Charles, how long will you be?” her mother shouted from the open car window. “Two minutes,” her father replied.

    Charles peered into back seat of the car, Elsie’s eyes are seen through a port hole of condensation. “Did you bring the kids, I asked you not to wake them.”

    “I couldn’t leave them,” her mother replied. He seemed angry, Elsie thought to herself. A few minutes later a tsunami of freeze washes in as her father, still in jumpsuit swoops into the car as if he surfed in on the cold.

    Elsie was pretending to be asleep. She squints and can see her father looking at her. “Does she know?” he asked her mom. “No. I didn’t say anything,” she replied. “I don’t want her to know her father is a no good custodian who cleans and takes out the trash, but I can’t lie anymore. I have to tell my parents the truth tomorrow night.”

    Elsie woke the next morning and looked outside, last night still on her mind. A foot of snow on the ground as she watched her mom and dad in his usual suit get into their car and leave. She went downstairs and found her uncle William sitting on the couch cycling through the Roku channels. “Hey kiddo, you parents left for work early, school’s closed so he asked me to come over.”

    “I don’t get it, why’d he have to go to work, it’s just a stupid job,” she said. “Elsie, your dad protects the president.” “From trash,” she replied angrily.

    William looked at Elsie perplexed as she said “I heard him tell mom that he is going to tell grandpa and grandma the truth tonight.”

    “Are you sure you heard right?” he asked her. Kids see things differently, don’t understand the world the way they should he thought to himself. But what if she’s right, he can’t tell ma and pa, they’re in their 80s, who knows how much time they have left. It’d break their hearts, pa brags about him all the time at the VFW. He’s the poster child of our family’s success. How could he keep this charade going? Did his sister-in-law Marcy know? The scenarios wouldn’t stop coming to him.

    Elsie watched William, lost in thought wander into the next room. She followed him and peeked around the door jamb to see him on his cell phone. “Charles, it’s me, we have to talk about something Elsie said. If it’s true, I’m going to do everything in my power to convince you, to stop you from telling the truth to ma and pa.”

    • don potter says:

      So tell me, what is the truth?

    • Silver Sister says:

      I feel compassion for Charles. To discount the civil service exams, psychological tests and strenuous criminal and background checks to even be considered as a White House custodian, his must be a rather snobbish family. Plus he provides his kids with regular access to the White House – something most Americans can’t say. So, chin up, Charles.

      One nit – the POV change from Elsie to the uncle was a bit jarring for me.

      Many well written passages here. I especially liked the contrast between the temp in the car and outside.

  23. cmariee says:

    Oklahoma’s Oh What a Beautiful Morning woke me as it does every morning my husband gets the text that says we don’t have to teach today.
    Snow days in New York are better than Christmas. On those mornings you don’t feel compelled to grade, to make sub plans, to feel guilty about a day off… Snow days are Mickey Mouse pancakes with real maple syrup and a Keurig carrousel full of snuggly options.

    I jumped up to check the news. It’s a compulsion not to believe Ben or even the news at first. Confirmed. Life is good. Facebook posts say the roads are awful and I’m okay with that. And then, another text—a colleague perhaps? A friend telling me I suck? Mom asking if I have work? No it was Patrick.
    “Kris, are you home?” Uh-oh. I hate texts with loaded questions.
    “Yes.”
    “Can you watch the kids?
    “Okay” I say reluctantly. I can’t likely say I had plans, but I know he is taking a mental health day away from me and replacing it with two six year olds.
    “You are a life saver. Could you meet us here? I can’t be late for work.”
    “Yup.” I turned towards Ben. He’s huddled in my favorite blanket watching Sherlock Holmes on Netflix and I know he will not be joining me.

    Twenty minutes later and I’m at Pat’s. Vivian left for work early judging by the covered tracks—probably worried about her commute.
    “Hey sis, there’s some cereal in the cupboard and I poured you a coffee. I’ll call you.”

    As soon as he closed the door Eric and Emily were dragging their blankets into the living room. It was only 7am.
    “Hi guys.” I gave them a quick hug and kiss on the forehead and joined them on the couch.
    “Is Uncle Ben here, too?” Emily asked.
    “No” I replied, sensing their disappointment. “He stayed home, probably watching more Sherlock or The Mentalist, I sighed.
    “Sherlock Holmes”?
    “Yeah.”
    “Mom won’t let us watch that because she says we are not old enough to know about Dad’s work.” I smiled. So cute to exaggerate Pat’s importance.

    “Haha. Oh really? Well you know your dad is pretty important.”
    “Yeah, like Sherlock, mom says. And sometimes we have to be real quiet and not let people know if he’s home. And sometimes we might have to wear wigs or pretend we have different names soon too.” I paused and listened more closely to what Eric was saying. He wasn’t making sense.
    “Have you ever had to live in another country, Aunt Kris?”
    I jumped up. Immediately, I dialed Pat’s work number, then cell. No answer. I turned back to the kids.
    “I don’t want to move,” was Emily’s pouty whisper. Vivian’s phone went straight to voicemail too.
    “Aunt Kris?”
    “Yes, Eric?”
    “Can I have some cereal?”
    “Sure. I’ll go get you some.”
    “Aunt Kris?”
    “Yeah.”
    “There is a letter here on the table. I think Dad left it for you.”

  24. cmariee says:

    Oklahoma’s Oh What a Beautiful Morning woke me as it does every morning my husband gets the text that says we don’t have to teach today. Snow days in New York are better than Christmas. On those mornings you don’t feel compelled to grade, to make sub plans, to feel guilty about a day off… Snow days are Mickey Mouse pancakes with real maple syrup and a Keurig carrousel full of snuggly options.

    I jumped up to check the news. It’s a compulsion not to believe Ben or even the news at first. Confirmed. Life is good. Facebook posts say the roads are awful and I’m okay with that. And then, another text—a colleague perhaps? A friend telling me I suck? Mom asking if I have work? No it was Patrick.
    “Kris, are you home?” Uh-oh. I hate texts with loaded questions.
    “Yes.”
    “Can you watch the kids?
    “Okay” I say reluctantly. I can’t likely say I had plans, but I know he is taking a mental health day away from me and replacing it with two six-year-olds.
    “You are a life saver. Could you meet us here? I can’t be late for work.”
    “Yup.” I turned towards Ben. He’s huddled in my favorite blanket watching Sherlock Holmes on Netflix and I know he will not be joining me.

    Twenty minutes later and I’m at Pat’s. Vivian left for work early judging by the covered tracks—probably worried about her commute.
    “Hey sis, there’s some cereal in the cupboard and I poured you a coffee. I’ll call you.”

    As soon as he closed the door Eric and Emily were dragging their blankets into the living room. It was only 7am.
    “Hi guys.” I gave them a quick hug and kiss on the forehead and joined them on the couch.
    “Is Uncle Ben here, too?” Emily asked.
    “No” I replied, sensing their disappointment. “He stayed home, probably watching more Sherlock or The Mentalist, I sighed.
    “Sherlock Holmes”?
    “Yeah.”
    “Mom won’t let us watch that because she says we are not old enough to know about Dad’s work.” I smiled. So cute to exaggerate Pat’s importance.
    “Haha. Oh really? Well you know your dad is pretty important.”
    “Yeah, like Sherlock, mom says. And sometimes we have to be real quiet and not let people know if he’s home. And sometimes we might have to wear wigs or pretend we have different names soon too.” I paused and listened more closely to what Eric was saying. He wasn’t making sense.
    “Have you ever had to live in another country, Aunt Kris?”
    I jumped up. Immediately, I dialed Pat’s work number, then cell. No answer. I turned back to the kids.
    “I don’t want to move,” was Emily’s pouty whisper. Vivian’s phone went straight to voicemail too.
    “Aunt Kris?”
    “Yes, Eric?”
    “Can I have some cereal?”
    “Sure. I’ll go get you some.”
    “Aunt Kris?”
    “Yeah.”
    “There is a letter here on the table. I think Dad left it for you.”

  25. john godfrey says:

    The Ugly Duckling Becomes Beautiful

    The snow, which had been falling thickly and consistently for two days straight since the nuclear winter had erupted from the fallout from the battle with the Russians, had forced all of the schools to close. Warren’s brother, who he had not spoken to in almost four years, had called him earlier that morning (waking him out of a drunken slumber) and asked if he would watch his kids. Warren had never really had any contact with the older one, and didn’t even know the younger one existed until a Facebook post had alerted him to her presence. But, as was common among Warren’s family, he was always left on the outskirts of family business. He was the troubled child. Warren just continued to make his bad decisions and live his awful life while his brother had a fancy house and a hot (recently deceased) wife and kids while his younger sister lived out in Oregon with her doctor hubby.

    While driving to his brother’s house, trying to keep his 1999 Mercury Mountaineer from sliding off the road into a ditch or something, Warren considered letting go of the steering wheel and letting the car follow its natural course. Ultimately, though, Warren decided that he shouldn’t do such a thing to his nieces, leave them without a sitter for the day, and drove to his brother’s house without incident.
    When he got there, the snow had forced his brother to try and push his fancy Mercedes out of a snow bank, and Warren helped his older brother do so successfully, later waving a curt goodbye as he sped off down the street, late for work. He got his tattered old copy of Moby Dick, which he was reading for the billionth time since his stint in rehab, out of the Mountaineer and walked into the house.

    He chatted with his nieces for a time, and found that he had something in common with both of them. The older one had a fondness for old horror movies and the younger one liked to read (even though she was four). When the news report came on about the threat of nuclear war, Warren did not bother to look up from the Dr. Seuss book he was reading to the younger one. Yertle the Freakin’ Turtle and his thirst for power were more important than the warning to stay away from windows and go into cellars. Warren listened as the older one told him about her father’s job, about how he would sit in a meeting with Mr. President himself and talk about nuclear war with the Russians.

    Warren then saw a spokesperson for the government saying that they were, without another option, prepared to launch a missile at Russia, who also would surely retaliate again, but with deadlier consequence. Warren decided to help his nieces pack clothes and necessities, and would go and get his brother from his office downtown, and leave DC behind them and simply drive. With his nieces behind him and next to him, Warren drove down the street, feeling like Ahab going up against a red, white and blue whale, feeling scared and excited, thinking about how after everything was over, after all that he would do would happen, he would still be considered an ugly duckling amongst his rich, neglectful fellow swans. Warren decided he had become a swan when the missile was launched.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      This is a moving, intimate reply to the prompt. A reflection on life itself and the avenues man chooses to take. Sometimes those who stray from the norm are the real heroes. I would call it a beautiful essay on mankind and his futile efforts to live as his maker asked him to.

    • agnesjack says:

      There are many thought-provoking ideas in this story, john godfrey. Your “ugly duckling” MC, with the history of issues and substance abuse problems, is more sane, rational and human than the idiot, self-selected “swans” of self-annihilation in Washington.

    • don potter says:

      Lots to ponder in your post, an interesting read.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Yertle the Turtle was a brilliant choice for story time. I love small details that are rich with meaning. Well done.

  26. mkmjjmmom says:

    “I really appreciate this, Nikki,” Max shot me one of his charismatic grins.
    “Mmm-hmm,” I replied, not at all excited about the prospect of spending the day with his offspring. “But I swear, bro, if they ruin anything this time, you are going to replace it.”
    The last time they were here the girls had rummaged through my brand new stash of makeup, smashing a $30 lipstick and ruining my Egyptian cotton bath towels by painting “zebra stripes” on them with my new mascara. This all had happened in the three minutes I had taken to change the baby’s diaper which, of course, my brother had failed to change before escaping out the door. His babysitter was sick and I was his only other option right now until he and his ex-wife worked out the custody arrangements.
    Max kissed me on the cheek, and muttered “Of course,” as he turned to go. The sound of the door closing behind him reminded me of a prison cell door shutting in its unwilling inhabitants. I put my hands on my hips and looked down at my fellow inmates.
    “So what do you guys want to do today?” I asked, praying they would ask to watch T.V. and color all day, even though I knew it was a long shot.
    My mom had been on my case lately about getting married, settling down, and having a family, like a good little Catholic girl. Hanging out with Max’s kids did anything but make me want to have a family of my own. Still, I thought I would do it someday. Having grown up in a large Catholic family, I knew that eventually I would feel empty without a large family around me.
    Four-year-old Anna bit her bottom lip and said, “I wanna watch T.V.”
    ‘Oh, yes there is a God,’ I thought to myself.
    I hit the power button on the remote and the T.V. flipped on to CNN, where a journalist was reporting on the one-child policy in China. Sophia, my eight-year-old niece, began to fidget and sat down on the couch, tucking her legs under her chin.
    “What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked.
    Sophia played with her shoelace for a minute and then looked at me. “Will you take me or will you take Anna when it happens?”
    I raised an eyebrow and knelt down to meet her eyes, “When what happens?”
    “When the police come to redistribute the children,” she said.
    I was dumbfounded.
    “What do you mean?”
    “We’re Catholic. Lots of us have big families. And they don’t like it that way. Daddy says that the baby will go to live with Mama, one of us will stay with him, and one of us will have to live with you. He works for the people who decided to do this. I saw his email the other day. Someone said that if we couldn’t go live with family, they would send us away. So which one of us will you take?”

    • agnesjack says:

      A not so farfetched idea for the prompt, mkmjjmmom, which makes it quite frightening. And it was nicely told. I wonder, however, why the brother would tell his children in such a seemingly nonchalant, resigned way.

      • mkmjjmmom says:

        Thank you. Yes, that was fairly nonchalant…not a lot of room to develop the idea in under 500 words, but it probably was an important detail to address. Thank you for the feedback!

    • don potter says:

      You, along with others posting this week, have suggested that Orwell’s “1984″ is a reality. I enjoyed your take on this frightening possibility.

    • frankd1100 says:

      MKM, interesting and spookie treatment of the prompt. I, as the oldest of fourteen, remember my Mother’s dismay at snide comments about our family. Once at an afterschool function, (I might have been 10 or 11), a teacher said to my mother, ‘Mary, your children will never go to college… you have too many.’ Probably made my her more determined. In the end we all went to college though my parents worked awfully hard. (I have two grown children.)

      • mkmjjmmom says:

        Big families are definitely a challenge. I have six of my own and cannot imagine being without any one of them. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and respond!

    • Silver Sister says:

      This reminded me somewhat of Sophie’s Choice. How can somebody actually be expected to decide such a thing? Having Sophia ask her aunt this makes it especially touching. I like the added conflict that if she takes one of her nieces, she gives up the right to bring her own child into the world. Brutal choice.

      Great portrayal of the kids’ destructiveness and aunt’s ambivalence toward having her own children.

      • mkmjjmmom says:

        I have actually never seen Sophie’s Choice, but now I guess I’m going to have to find it on Netflix!
        As for the destructiveness, it comes from personal experience…haha. Thank you for taking the time to read and respond!

  27. DMelde says:

    595 words. (I was very wordy this week.) I hereby disqualify myself from the weekly prize money competition.

    GROWLY

    Marvin stood by the big bay window and watched as the snow fell outside. The snow was fat and wet. It didn’t dance in the sky and fall gently to the ground. Rather, it came down hard and fast, pushing itself to ever and ever greater speed, like a runaway train without brakes on a steep mountain grade. Marvin thought for a moment about going outside and shoveling the walkway. Then he considered the sheer volume of snow falling and the heavy weight of the snow. “Heart attack” he thought, and he decided it wasn’t worth it. He didn’t mind coming over to his brother’s house, and babysitting his brother’s kids, but he didn’t want to die doing it. Why his brother ever decided to go into work in a raging blizzard he couldn’t even begin to understand.

    His brother worked for the government, but where and doing what, Marvin didn’t know. All Marvin really knew about his brother’s work was what his brother’s kids had said earlier that day.

    “Daddy brought home a pet from work.” the younger one had said.

    “He calls it his growly.” chimed in the other.

    During the course of playing a game the children had told him more about this pet.

    “Daddy never wants us to play with it.”

    “We can’t go in the basement. Daddy says we’ll get hurt.”

    That was several hours ago. The children were now fast asleep taking their nap. Marvin decided to use this opportunity to go down into the basement. He wanted to see this growly for himself. Maybe he’d learn a little bit more about his brother.

    In the basement against one wall was a workbench and on the opposite wall stood a closed door. Marvin guessed that was where the growly was kept. He tried opening the door and almost immediately he heard a loud crash, as if something on the other side had thrown itself violently against the door. The door was locked and he was about to leave, because his curiosity had dimmed considerably, when he heard a small child’s voice call out.

    “Feed me.”

    The voice was muffled and it came from the other side of the door.

    It was then that Marvin noticed an old refrigerator off to one side. He opened the fridge door. Inside, in cake pans, white lab rats, fur and all, were marinating in chicken broth. A chill ran up Marvin’s spine. He looked again towards the locked door. Hanging on a hook beside the door was a key, and hanging beside the key was a welder’s apron and a pair of heavy welding gloves.

    Marvin put on the apron and gloves and he picked up the key. He went to the work bench where he grabbed a pair of pliers, and he used them to pick up one of the lab rats. Then, unlocking the door, he stood off to one side.

    Out of the room ran a small boy who attacked the lab rat. He started ripping its body apart with his teeth, all the while watching Marvin with pale yellow eyes. The boy’s head was shaven. Thick and misshapen surgery scars crisscrossed his skull. Marvin tried asking the boy what had happened but the boy ignored him. The only sound the boy made was a soft growl as he ate the rat. Halfway through the boy’s meal Marvin coaxed him back into the room, and he closed and locked the door.

    Shaken, but determined to learn the truth, Marvin went back upstairs where he waited for his brother to return.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      High quality gross tale of mystery and terror. I loved the narrative way you handled the prompt. God only knows what kind of experiments the government was up to but I did have one thought. The boy was most likely from a republician life style and was slowly being turned into a ………………

    • agnesjack says:

      AND????? Great opening to a longer story. You definitely piqued my interest. What on Earth is that brother up to and who, or what, is that poor boy?

    • don potter says:

      A gruesome tail well told. If I were Marvin, it is time to consider splitting the scene.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Whoa… pale yellow eyes, a small boy with scars on his skull… gruesome, vivid description..

      I thought the rats marinating in chicken broth was interesting.

      You caught my attention…

    • Silver Sister says:

      You got me hooked. I would definitely read on. Having the family refer to the boy in the basement as a ‘pet’ inspired my sympathy for the boy, after the child was revealed.

      Excellent description of the boy. It was vivid and searing; I could definitely pick him out of a crowd. Good story!

    • super-shady government departments. I really love the tone of this piece, DMelde. Nicely done!

  28. suyidavies says:

    The kids were yelling at the TV while I whipped up some hot cocoa in the kitchen. Playing Call of Duty again. I poured the brown stuff into two steaming cups and stirred.

    “When’s your father returning?” I yelled. They obviously didn’t hear over the sound of gunfire. I walked in the room and muted it.

    Lezo, the cheeky nine-year-old with the controller, groaned.

    “Uncle, turn it on! I can’t hear the captain!”

    Tote, his wiry six-year-old sister who spent too much time with him, urged me on with her eyes. I ignored them.

    “When’s your father returning?”

    Lezo kept his eyes on the TV, uninterested. It was Tote who answered.

    “He’ll be late. He always late.”

    I smiled and patted her head. The clock said 3:35PM. Still a few hours of babysitting my brother’s kids. Their day off from school had come at a bad time; on the exact day his office at the Federal House of Reps had called him in for impromptu work.

    It was chilly outside and some of it seeped in the house. I led Tote to the kitchen and gave her some cocoa. Lezo had turned the sound back on. I shook my head and took his cup to him.

    “Pause and warm up before you freeze,” I said, placing it by him.

    “You’re not the boss of me,” he replied without looking. “Tell that stuff to Chuk.”

    I frowned at him. Chuck was my five-year-old son Bem and I had adopted.

    “Hey. That’s disrespectful. I’m your Uncle.”

    “Not for long,” he said, eyes still on the TV.

    I was taken aback. “Excuse me?”

    He shrugged. “After 14 years, I probably won’t know you no more.”

    I blinked rapidly.

    “Lezo!” Tote complained. “Daddy say we mustn’t talk about that.”

    He scoffed and continued the game. I turned to Tote.

    “Talk about what, sweetie?”

    She shook her head. “Daddy say we mustn’t say nothing about anything to you people. He say you’ll be gone soon enough.”

    My eyes widened. “Say nothing about what, Tote?”

    She shook her head again, and sipped on cocoa. “He always in the book room upstairs, talking to them people. He talk to them about it all the time.”

    I patted her head yet again and went up the stairs. The study door wasn’t locked.

    I entered the small cluttered room and picked up random document after the other, scanning for anything. Then, I moved to the trash can and found something in one of the balled up papers.

    It was a bill passed by the House, to be signed by the president in a week. Random phrases jumped at me from the paper.

    …marriage or civil union…persons of the same sex…invalid and illegal
    …existing same sex marriage contract…14 years imprisonment

    I dropped the document in horror and dialed Bem’s number with trembling hands. His gruff voice answered at the other end.

    “They’re signing a law against us! Get Chuk. We’re leaving at once!”

  29. rainyk says:

    There was two feet of snow already, and it was still coming down when my older brother Ahmed showed up at my door with his twins in tow, bundled up in thick layers.

    “School’s cancelled,” he explained. “Snow day.” He saw my look and rushed to talk over my objections. “It’s just until one o’clock, when Marissa gets home. I can’t miss work today. An important project is wrapping up.”

    I sighed. I had a project of my own due tomorrow, a communications strategy for a local aerospace company. “Fine.” I looked down at their shining eyes—no doubt thrilled about the snow—and forced a smile, wondering what I had in the fridge that would be suitable for six-year-olds. I’d been eating nothing but cereal and take-out for a week.

    “Thanks, sis. I owe you.” Ahmed gripped me in a fierce hug before running back to his idling Suburban. The twins, Malika and Yasmine, dashed past me into the house, giggling.

    “Can we play in the snow? Please?” screamed Malika.

    It was going to be a long day.

    By noon we’d made a snowman and snow angels, sledded down the “hill” in the backyard on a garbage can lid, and whacked each other in the face with snowballs. I practically had to drag them inside to sit at the counter and warm up while I made hot chocolate, which I was grateful to find stashed at the back of the cupboard.

    “So what do you two want for Christmas?” I asked as I stirred chocolate into the pan of hot milk on the stove.

    They both spoke at once.

    “Dollhouse! Jewelry making kit!”

    “Bunny slippers! Lalaloopsy Mango Tiki Wiki!”

    I didn’t have the faintest idea what that was, but the girls clearly had the holiday all worked out as they rattled off long, overly optimistic lists that included a Golden Retriever puppy and matching iPads.

    “Oh, and Daddy says we’re getting a baby brother for Christmas. We’re going to call him Elmo.”

    “No, I already picked the name. It’s Zelda!”

    “Zelda’s a girl’s name. I told you!”

    “Elmo is stupid! Who wants to be named after a muppet?”

    “Girls, girls…no fighting.” I poured the hot chocolate into mugs, topped each with a mound of whipped cream, and shoved them in front of the twins, hoping it would shut them up. Then what they’d said started to sink in. A baby brother? Ahmed had told me that Marissa couldn’t have more children. I hadn’t heard anything about fertility treatments, and she certainly wasn’t showing. Maybe adoption? Had he been keeping this from me? Or were the twins just making stuff up?

    “Girls, what do you know about your baby brother?”

    Yasmine answered. “Daddy says the baby is coming from work, but he’s not ready yet. He’s still in a lady’s belly. Just like we were.”

    Malika pushed her sister, almost toppling her from the stool. “We’re not supposed to tell anyone. Remember?”

    Yasmine guiltily looked down at her hands. “It’s only Aunt Maryam.”

    “You mean, the baby’s in your mom’s belly, like you were?” I asked.

    The girls looked up at me uncertainly.

    “Don’t worry, I won’t tell Daddy you told me. It’ll be our little secret.” I smiled, as if we were having a fun adventure.

    This time Malika answered. “Not Mommy’s belly. A lady at work. Where all the babies are waiting to be born. But first they have to get checked out to make sure they’re bible.”

    “Hm. Do you mean viable?”

    She nodded, her black curls bouncing. “Just like us. And Mommy. We’re extra special. We were made from science.” She grinned proudly. “But we aren’t supposed to tell anyone.”

    “It’s a secret,” Yasmine added.

    Made from science. Ahmed had been working on top secret government projects for years now and couldn’t tell me anything. But his background was in embryology and somatic cell nuclear transfer processes. Cloning.

    “So you and Mommy and your baby brother were all made from science? At Daddy’s work?” I was trying to get a handle on what this meant. Parents tell all kinds of stories to make the world make sense to little kids.

    “Yeah,” said Yasmine, “ ’cause other babies are made when two people love each other and the man puts the baby in the mommy’s belly, but we were made by science.” She pointed a finger at her chest. “Me, and Malika, and you, and Elmo—”

    “Stop calling him Elmo!” Malika interrupted. “It’s stupid!”

    A cold weight had settled in my stomach. Most people would have written the revelation off as a creation of two imaginative little girls, but a lot of things were suddenly settling into place. The sudden appearance of the twins, Marissa’s miraculous recovery from that car accident…and my own strange patches of amnesia, entire years I had to have explained to me by others. By my brother and his neurologist, to be precise. Memories that seemed to slide in and out of place, like the acts of a play I was watching, shuffled and re-cast according to the director’s whim.

    When Marissa arrived to pick up the twins, I examined her face, her mannerisms, her voice for anything unusual. But it was the same Marissa as always, with that tinkling laughter and a smile that lit up a room. Late that night, when Ahmed pulled into their driveway, I was parked on the street, waiting. He leaned into the window curiously. “What’s up, sis? Wanna come in?”

    “We need to talk. Alone. The girls had a lot to say today about your work. And the family.”

    He smiled. “Oh, did they? They’ve been watching a lot of TV, let me tell you. They–”

    I put up my hand. “Don’t lie to me. I want to hear the truth. I deserve it.”

    His face grew serious, and he slid into the passenger seat. I knew, as he opened his mouth to explain, that my world was about to change. I didn’t know if I was ready.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      It’s good, rainyk, very good, imaginative, gritty and realistic. There’s been a lot of new people created on the forum this week, so you’re not the omly one. But your story is so well conceived and written, I wonder.

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      Very good, I liked the characters and the cloning perspective. With the possibility of bringing anyone you want “back to life”… anything can change.

    • don potter says:

      Great concept and well told tale. You really made watching the kids the key to the story.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Well done. The bickering between the girls about the name was great. This was a gritty story with a lot of heart. Ahmed must’ve really loved his wife and sister to bring them back as clones. Good read.

    • wynryprocter says:

      There needs to be a like button on these, then again- people probably wouldn’t leave comments then eh? Anyway, I really did like this story. The children were believeable, I also loved the names and transitions you did through the story.

  30. frankd1100 says:

    He sat for a minute shivering in the cold morning air. Marcy slept comfortably beside him hogging the blankets. Maybe it was time to start using his sleeping bag in bed. His cell phone began to vibrate as he pulled on a gray hooded sweatshirt. Marcy barely moved.

    “Jack…It’s Will, your favorite brother!”

    “Hi Will … Far as I know you’re my only brother.”

    “Sounds like I woke you. I thought you might be shoveling Marcy’s car out so she can get to court on time.”

    “It’s 5:30 in the morning, Will. Marcy’s asleep beside me and the Cahill brothers are plowing the driveway as we speak.”

    “Well, I just finished shoveling my own driveway and a path to the front door for the mailman.”

    “Next storm I’ll send the Cahills to your house,” Jack said. “They can use the business.”

    “Thanks Jack but since Beth left, I’m getting used to doing things by myself.”

    “Look Will, I…” Jack paused taking care with his words. “You have your hands full with little Jack and Molly. If I can do anything to lighten the load…”

    “There is something you can help me with. That’s why I called.”

    “Well, good,” said Jack. “What can I do?”

    “With all the snow, preschool’s been cancelled for the day and…”

    “I remember snow days,” said Jack. “Like being furloughed from prison … the joy of the morning gradually fading to depression as the day wore on.”

    “Jack, I need you to watch the kids for me today.”

    The line went silent for a minute. Finally, Jack said, “All day?”

    “Yes. I have a meeting at State today. An important meeting. I have to be there at eight, so I need you here by seven. I wouldn’t ask, Jack, but it’s a matter of national security.”

    “OK Will, I’ll be right over.” He was up and headed to the shower when the cell buzzed again in his hand. “Will, I’m on the way… What’s up?”

    “Jack, it’s Beth.” She was breathing hard like she’d been running. “Are you on the way to see Will?”

    “I am Beth… Is that okay with you?”

    “No, it is not!” she answered. “And it’s not okay for little Jack and Molly or you and Marcy or your Mom…”

    “Look Beth, I don’t want to be in the middle of a thing with you and Will so…”

    “Jack, he’s going to pull a Snowden and thinks he can get away with it. I’m at the airport getting a flight. I’m coming to take Jack and Molly,” she said and hung up.

    He spun around punching a number into the cell as he yelled, “Marcy get up!” She came running from the bedroom, all mussed and foggy in her flannel nightgown in time to hear Jack say, “Mom!…No, Marcy’s fine. Look, you should come over right away. Will’s chasing windmills again.”

    Looking up he said, “Get dressed, Marcy. Will needs a lawyer.”

  31. abhijit jiwa says:

    (Couldn’t help it, but the word count goes a little above 500)

    They were stepping up the attacks. Humans were being replaced by portals. Ultra sophisticated Bio-robots that looked , talked and behaved the same way as the host-replacements did. It was like a photo-copy machine, the way they did it. A human went in on one end , and a portal came out of the other, looking just the same as the original host. You could shake their hand and you wouldn’t know a thing. They normally kept the hosts under coma, but some they killed off. It had been a rough day at the lab. We had identified at least three new portals and already the department had sent personnel to track them down. All available staff were being assigned to hunt their operating ship. The lab I worked for was a wing of the Army Biological Research labs. Our wing was ultra hush-hush as we dealt with top-priority areas that dealt with national security. These were trying times, and I felt overworked. Luckily I got a break and Pete my superior asked me go home.

    I was looking forward to a quiet evening. There was so much to think about. In a way I was glad that things were still ‘normal’ in my life. It could have been wrong. So wrong. I was glad for the peace so far. And nothing I would have liked better than a quiet wine and some music until sleep crept up on me. The snowstorm we had yesterday had blanketed everything under smooth mounds of white. I ploughed my car through the drive-way and parked my car .

    It was while I was still in the lab, that Clint, my brother had called me. He had received a call and had to go away for the evening to the office. Clint worked for the National Geo-spatial-Intelligence Agency, a combat-support agency of the DOD. So these sudden urgent departures were pretty common, and I usually had to do baby-sit duty for him. My nieces , Mike 10, and Lorene 7 liked having me around. They were always curious, and asked me a lot of questions. The door opened and the duo came hopping out. After the hugs and kisses, I bundled them into the house, made a quick dinner and spent the evening washing up while they watched tv. Later I made hot-chocolate and sat on the couch. “Did Clint call you guys?” I asked wondering when my brother would return.
    “No” Mike said.
    “He said he would come late” Lorene chipped.
    Great, I thought, so I would be able to sleep on my bed after all.
    “Did he say anything when he left? About his work? I asked.
    “No. He doesn’t talk much about his office.” Mike said.
    “Mike was shooting all evening” Lorene said.
    “Shooting?” I asked
    “On his video cam” Lorene said. “He was video taping when daddy left”
    “Do you want to see it?” Mike asked, a sudden gleam in his eyes.
    “Sure” I said. Clint didn’t mind Mike playing around with the video cam. “Its old” Clint had said when she had asked him about it. “I have to get a new one anyway, so might as well let him play with it.”
    Mike brought his video cam over to me, flipped over the LCD screen, and pressed the button to start playback.
    “There is daddy getting ready to go” Lorene said, pointing to the screen”
    Mike pushed Lorene’s hand away. “Let her watch it dumbo..” he said.
    I watched as I saw Clint gather his coat. “Laurie will be over in a while. I want both of you to behave “ Clint said on screen.
    I saw him grabbing his cap, and reach for a brief case, wave to the kids and open the door. Mike had followed him to the drive way. The screen showed Clint getting into his car and drive off. “Wait!” I said. I thought I saw something.
    “Reverse it back a little” I told Mike who pressed the rewind button . There was Clint grabbing for his briefcase, opening the door and stepping out. It was then that I held my breath. I asked Mike to rewind it again. There it was. All the blood in my body froze. There was a flicker on screen. The image of Clint had faded and flickered for a brief second. The form beneath was, to a trained eye, ………unmistakable.

    They’d got Clint. That thing that said goodbye to the kids was not human. It was not my brother.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      An expression from the fifties, abhijit jiws, ‘NEATO’. I really liked your tale.. So many things going on but you kept everything on course and fun to read. That isn’t easy, especially with all the story line here. Would you think about expanding this later on, possibly tieing it in to another prompt?

      Your writing voice is concise and easy on the eyes.

      • abhijit jiwa says:

        Thanks for the comments Kerry.I agree. Keeping the whole story concise and to the point is not easy, given the word limit. I would love to expand this. There is so much you want to fit in. Tying it with a future prompt is a good idea.
        Again, I appreciate your encouraging comments.

      • PromptPrincess13 says:

        Even though I was “debriefed” about the portals, I didn’t see the end coming, so I was pleasantly surprised. Great writing on this one.

        • abhijit jiwa says:

          Haha PromptPrincess, on the de-breifing! Thanks for the nice words.
          I did very little editing, so now I see that a few mistakes went through. Repetitions, change of the pov pronouns. I need to spend more time editing.

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      Really cool, abhijit jiwa. Definitely was not expecting that ending.

    • Critique says:

      The ending was unexpected. I enjoyed your story and now want to know more abut portals – are they evil, good – are the children in danger etc.

      • abhijit jiwa says:

        Thank you Critique. Portals, in the story, would be alien. They would a danger to humans, in that they serve the alien agenda, not ours. These robotic portals are part machine, part organic. They are called portals because they are controlled from another place, and their bodies can manifest the intent of their controllers. Hence ‘portals’. An opening into another world. Yes the children would be in danger, but our MC would take care of them and they would be safe in the end. :)

    • frankd1100 says:

      ‘Another brick inthe wall.’

      Great story idea… Lot of work here, weaving the normal family into the portal threat.

      ‘That thing said goodye to the kids…..’ I love that line.

      Nice work.

    • calicocat88 says:

      Futuristic with a sort of retro vibe. I like it :) The way you showed Clint’s “new self” through the characters watching a video was a great way to wrap up the ending. I think you could go somewhere awesome with this story. It’s a perfect set-up for furtherance, in my opinion. I’d like to read more–it fits with the trend in dystopian/sci-fi novels these days too…that may be just a trend in YA fiction, but either way, this was really good.

      *And it is super difficult for some writers (including myself) to keep their excitement from creating too long of a post. I didn’t find yours daunting so I don’t think anyone will stone you ;)

      • abhijit jiwa says:

        Thanks Calicocat. Your comments are nice,and indeed , I feel safe. Lol.
        Yes, there is a lot of scope for taking that upto a novel isn’t it? But I’d have to work out a lot of details,plan the story more and figure out what exactly the aliens intend to accomplish, maybe add a surprise ending in there too.
        Thanks for the comments.

    • don potter says:

      Lots going on, but you pulled it together in a well written story.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Oooh, this was good. All those agencies sounded plausible and real. I too was caught off guard by the ending. I can never write a good surprise ending so I’m always appreciative of writers who can. Great story!

  32. wynryprocter says:

    Note: First time posting and kind of rusty, I generally write science fiction/ fantasy. Also, I’m horrible with word counts, I only kind of hint at the problem at hand here. On another note, the misspellings are on purpose.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    “I’ll only be gone until tomorrow evening, thank you for coming on such short notice Lyra. I left my card on the counter for whatever you may need. Please make sure Kassie get’s her grooming done too.” Xander dictated as the front door shut behind him. Adjusting hermy glasses, She walked to the kitchen and started preparing dinner.

    “I don’t even know what to make his kids… I can’t even keep human kids happy let alone… his.” She began thinking to herself out loud while pulling out some raw chicken and began cubing it up. “I mean, what do they even eat. I’ve had cats before, do I feed them cat food? Or the raw deal. I guess I’ll just make this chicken.”

    “Yeah, tha’ soundz good. Mmm, chickin! Kah-ssie! Lyra is makin’ chickin!”A small voice peeped from behind her, startling her. Connor had apparently been standing near her the whole time but now he bounded off into the bedroom, tail flicking around the corner. Gone as suddenly as he was there.
    “Well, I suppose that answers my question…” Lyra finished up the meal thinking about her brother. He started working for the Bureau of Animalia Welfare back in 2273. They needed his experience with genetic anomalies and throwback codes. Since then, he has worked his way up to heading the research department. He created new intelligent beings, just as smart as humans. Homo Sapian Chimera. Most of his co-workers adopted many of the subjects, he adopted two of them. She just wishes he’d have told her how to take care of them.

    “So,” she rummaged around her brain for a topic while setting up the table for dinner, “how has school been for you two?”

    Connor was first to reply as he ran to the table, “Da said we didn’ hav to go aneemor’”
    Lyra felt that was suprising, the Bureau was usually very adamant about their learning.

    “Why is that? Did he tell you?”

    “Da say, it didn’ mattar aneemor’. He say, work is worreen’ ’bout the quarenteen mor’ so he tryeen to help with that.”

    This news shocked Lyra even more; quarantine? Maybe it was about the fires lately. More and more fires were in the news. People were dying in them as well. Some people say that it was the people creating the fires, just exploding. Sponaneious Internal Combustion is what they called it. But why would it involve her brother? She inquired further. “Why is there a quarantine?”

    This time Kassie spoke up. “Da’ said that the fir’s on the news were made by humans. Made insid’ them. He said it waz like a bug got insid’ em an made em sick. Made the human body make more heat all the time. Da told us not to worree thou cuz the bug didn’ like us. He say that humans woold hav’ to hide tho’. Da was sad an he cri.”

    • don potter says:

      The misspellings and dialect made the story difficult for me to read, yet there was something about it that I found fascinating. I look forward to reading your future posts.

  33. bilbobaggins321 says:

    THE COMING STORM

    It was 7 in the morning and I had on my bunny slippers. I clicked on the news station as I poured my decaf. The hit and run, the school gun tragedy, nothing good to say, except for the Oval Office. “ObamaCare is saving our nation,” one newscaster spewed out into his mike. “Our president’s approval ratings are reaching new highs… our economy is rebounding…”

    I groped blindly for my laptop along the cluttered table until I found it buried amongst some papers and magazines. I popped it open, and I felt the mini-tornado from its battery as it started up. My mouse had just clicked on the Internet Explorer tab, when, on cue, the phone rang. The TV was off in a flash, and I lunged to the receiver.

    “Hello?” I anticipated some telemarketer, but not my brother’s almost breathless voice.
    “Hi, Mark, I’m really late for work, can you come over and watch the kids for me today? I-“
    “Wait, why? Doesn’t the babysitter come over?” I cut him off, but he jumped right in again.
    “Babysitter’s sick, look, can you just come over? Thanks, bye.” I never even had a chance to say goodbye before all I heard was dial tone amplified into my ear.

    Left without a choice, I clapped the laptop lid, and slipped on my shoes. No doubt my whole plans for the morning would have to be shelved, but I was willing to put them aside for the children. As far as I knew, he had two boys, 6 and 9, although that was based off of the last Christmas pictures that I had received, and it was already pushing on May. I had to wonder why he never invited me to his house except when radically necessary, even though we lived only ten miles apart.

    Those worries were cast aside as I popped open my Camry and shoved myself into the seat. It smelled subtly of French fries and that masked scent of spilled Dr. Pepper from that time I’d somehow tipped it over in the cup holder in my haste to gulp down my McDouble. I wrenched it into gear, and it crunched back into the flakes, until I revved away with all I had.
    I reached the house inside of ten minutes. I pushed the doorbell, and I heard socks on carpet.
    “Let me open the door, Jonny!” The younger boy’s voice. “No, me!”

    The door swung open to reveal the two youngsters, who welcomed me in and continued to get me a juice box from the fridge, which I playfully accepted. Under my careful supervision, they played throughout the afternoon.
    It was around four that that icicle went up my shirt. I knew that my brother would be back so I began to tidy up the kitchen’s perpetual juice stains. The kids looked up at the clock, Legos strewn all over.
    “Daddy’s going to be home soon,” the younger said. “You’ll like meeting him, even though he’s so busy. At dinner he always talks about these nuclear weapons and stuff…”

    I immediately tensed. The older seemed to peer at the other with a look of derision, that he had said too much, and they quieted up, unusually quiet.
    I spoke up slowly. “What… what about nuclear weapons?”
    The older stopped what he was doing for a second. “He keeps talking about codes, and prisons, and how we may be going to war soon, and the nation will be destroyed.” He seemed too placid, too calm for such a situation as this, as if talking about some distant event.

    The room spun once, and I stood. Just then, I heard the unlocking of the lock, and I clutched blindly for my bag. There he was, surprised to see me, in his black professional suit. He must have “leaked” some Cold War-ish stories to entertain the kids. He’d told me in one of his truthful moments that all he did was a desk job.

    “Daddy is it okay if we told her about the civil war?” the younger said as the door closed. At once his eyes sharpened, and he slowly set down his suitcase. A pitiful smile took over his face.
    “What civil war, little man? Just sit and enjoy your blocks, now…”
    But as soon as I led him by a tense arm into the secluded kitchen, he was another person entirely. His countenance flashed demonic.

    “What was that about civil war? The kids were spouting tales of nukes, and, who knows what else-“
    “Mark, you weren’t supposed to know about this.” He leaned on the counter. “But since you’ve heard some, I might as well tell you.” He paused for dramatic effect, sighing once with finality. “Not all is peaches and cream in the nation. Obama is getting ousted. The stocks and economy are just weeks from collapse. Underground movements are gaining traction. Weapons, batteries, are disappearing. The military is preparing to completely put the country under martial law.”

    The words had an avalanche effect, ripping all sense from the ground. I lost words for a few moments. “But, I thought that—“
    “Forget the media; it’s all lies.” He slammed down his fist. “Operation White is already posted for one more month. And—and I’m afraid that only certain people are going to survive this. The rest are going to be scooped up into “re-education camps”, the conservatives, Christians, radicals…”

    I was fuming. “Oh, I suppose this is just a nonchalant thing you keep secret,” I burst. “So, am I going to be dead in six weeks or five?” Remembering the kids suddenly, I lowered my voice to a harsh hiss.
    “Tell me! What will survive?! Will another world war happen or what?”
    He solemnly lowered his head. “No, not World War Three. But, unfortunately, only the select few will be running the show, including… including government employees, politicians, and soldiers. The rest can expect to be forced into submission under a dictatorship. It was their plan all along.”

    He waited, gauging my reaction, before continuing. “Maybe I should not tell you this, but two of your best friends will be hauled out of their dorm and shot on the 26th for participating in the picket last month. As for Mom and Dad…” he halted now, and turned to his side.
    Finally he broke. As one solitary puddle built up in his left pupil, he crumpled a Franklin from his wallet and set it on the counter.

    “Take it. You’ll need it for food once inflation starts coming in. Trust no one, especially those who you thought you could trust, those who now inform the higher-ups for bread and a cot. Run without stopping, and don’t spend the night in a town with a population over 5,000. The biggest underground hideout within a day’s walk of here is in a field outside of Scranton. Tell them to get the hell out, because a Patriot is scheduled to hit there on the night of the 25th, zero hour.”

    I soaked all of this information down on my mental pad. I grabbed the bill. I knew what I had to do. As I looked upon my brother for the last time, I felt the floods. I barely remembered hugging his broad shoulders, going out the door, and starting up the car, the rest of the nation blissfully aware of the coming storm.

    (Extremely sorry about the length. I had to cut off a couple paragraphs, but apparently that did little for the overall length. I will try harder next time. Go hobbits!)

  34. Critique says:

    Enormous snowflakes buffeted my windshield wipers as I drove slowly across the slippery bridge to my brother’s house in the suburbs. He’d called this morning. I had just come off of a twelve hour shift at the General Hospital.

    “Coleen, could you come? The school buses aren’t running and I need someone to watch Morgan and Julia.”

    Their mother abandoned them a year ago and was travelling in East Asia with her new lover.

    Sliding to a stop at a red light I mused. Jeremy was lucky I was such a wuss when it came to my niece and nephew. I babysat them often and loved it. I was also convinced he was spending too much time working and not enough time with his kids.

    By noon a blizzard raged outside and we finished watching Ice Age – Continental Drift.

    “Aunty Coleen, I saw a beheading.” Eight year old Morgan spoke through a mouthful of grilled cheese.

    I sputtered and set my tea down. “Morgan. Where did you see that?”

    “Daddy thought I was sleeping but I was going to the bathroom and I saw it on his computer in the study.” Morgan slurped milk from his glass. “It was gross.”

    “Me too.” Six year old Julia said in a small voice. “I saw it. It was scary.”

    “Guys when did you see this?” I felt sick.

    “There’s lots of other stuff I saw.” Morgan helped himself to a dill pickle and took a crunchy bite. “Dad leaves his computer on sometimes. I’m pretty good and I know how to find stuff.”

    Julia held up three stubby fingers. “I saw three things. A guy had his head chopped off. Some girls were crying and they didn’t have any clothes on.”

    I was furious. How could Jeremy be so careless.

    “Dad doesn’t know. He would be mad.” Morgan looked troubled. “Julia sleeps with me ’cause she’s scared. Dad doesn’t know that either.”

    Julia’s eyes were big with apprehension. She hadn’t touched her lunch. I pulled her onto my lap.

    “You don’t need to be scared about anything.” I used a napkin to wipe Julia’s tears. “This happened far away from here.”

    “It said “Afghanistan Operation” on the top of the page.” Morgan said. “I hope Dad’s not going there.

    ************
    The kids were sleeping when Jeremy came home.

    “Oh my God.” He sat stunned after I told him. “I can’t believe I was so stupid. What should I do?”

    “I would suggest a good counsellor.” I felt helpless. “You’re too busy. They’ve lost their Mother. They need you more than ever.”

    How would these horrifying pictures affect Morgan and Julia?

    ************

    Jeremy phoned yesterday. He’s taking steps to cut back his work hours. He found a paediatric counsellor through work and their first appointment is on Tuesday.

    I am proud of my single parent brother. He’s a good man.

  35. PromptPrincess13 says:

    IT’S NOT NICE TO KEEP SECRETS

    It’s a sad day when you get happy because someone calls you psychotic.

    “Nutty Nat!”

    I caught my screaming niece and nephew as they leaped towards me, grimacing even as I fit them onto my lap. I glared at Jax’s pacing figure, watching as he dug around in his coat pocket.

    “You seriously taught them that nickname!? What is wrong with you?”

    Jax didn’t answer. Looking up from Kelly, my giggling niece, I realized something wasn’t quite right about my brother. He looked…frazzled. Jax never gets frazzled. Never.

    “Are you okay?” Kelly and Benny had gotten very quiet and still.

    “What? Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just couldn’t find something.” Jax laughed nervously and shook his head a little. I started to rise from the sofa but he waved me down. He pinned me with a look so deep I felt a flutter of panic somewhere deep in my gut. I’d seen my brother in all forms; happy, sad, heart-broken, annoyed… but I’d never seen him like this. I felt a swell of concern as I named what was making Jax seem so unfamiliar… so different: My big-brother looked scared. No, that’s not right; he looked down-right terrified.

    I hugged the kids a little tighter, feeling a million years away from the day of fun snow-day activities I’d planned for us. “Just, take care of the kids, alright? I know I can trust you.” I had the weirdest urge to cry as he hugged the kids and me.

    All three of us watched him, holding onto each other like the other knew what to do. Jax froze on his way to the door. He turned back slowly, almost hesitantly, like he was afraid of what he would see. “I’m going to fix this, okay? Just don’t open the door. To anyone.” He took a breath and his features hardened, set colder than ice. “Whatever you do.”

    With that he was gone. After a while of silence, Benny, tugged on my sleeve, his little sister quiet on my other side.

    “Auntie, we have a secret about daddy. It’s something bad.”

    I didn’t want to pry and normally, I wouldn’t have, but something was up with Jax.

    “It’s not nice to keep secrets.” I told the kids carefully.

    “He made an oopsie at work.” I knew my brother worked for the government only because that’s what he told me. I found myself hoping he’d lied; I didn’t want to imagine what happens when you make a mistake in the government.

    “And?”

    Benny was about to answer when I heard a knock at the door. We all turned to it.

    “Go!” I yelled at the kids and they ran off. I heard doors slamming as I made my way to the front door and prayed that the kids were okay. No screaming is a good sign, right?

    I wasn’t going to open the door, of course, but there was no way I wasn’t going to lock it. The knocking got louder but as I locked the door, it stopped. I heard a low growl and then the door combusted, burned into non-existence within a second’s time. I gaped at the little green man holding an oddly shaped, cucumber-resembling object at my chest.

    “Hello Earthling.”

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      ALIENS!!! :D
      Nice one. Definitely wasn’t thinking about that.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Green aliens are the worst ever. They are a level two, only to bested by the ice aliens who freeze your soul and then melt it in hell. Seriously , your story builds the tension very nicely. the reader is concerned about the MC and the children, Benny and Kelly. You leave an interesting cliff-hanger.

        What happens next?

    • Critique says:

      Nice story. The ending was a total surprise.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I thought the part where the MC gets on to Jax for teaching the kids that nickname rang true. It such a siblings thing to do that it drew me in and made me care about the characters.

    • agnesjack says:

      Finally, someone who didn’t open the door when she was told not to open the door – and it didn’t matter.

      I loved the first line, PromptPrincess and how the reader follows the MC from an day of anticipated fun to one of dread.

    • don potter says:

      Your last line came as a complete surprise. Nicely done.

      • PromptPrincess13 says:

        Thanks to you all!! I’ve been on an alien kick with these prompts lately (poem about a UFO…don’t ask), so I’m glad you enjoyed it. @Kerry…your guess is as good as mine!

  36. wynryprocter says:

    Note: First time writing for this site and within a word limit. Sadly, I only slightly touched base on the problem at hand in the story. But hey, it got me writing again. :/ So rusty.

    “I’ll only be gone until tomorrow evening, thank you for coming on such short notice Lyra. I left my card on the counter for whatever you may need. Please make sure Kassie get’s her grooming done too.” Xander dictated as the front door shut behind him. Adjusting hermy glasses, She walked to the kitchen and started preparing dinner.
    “I don’t even know what to make his kids… I can’t even keep human kids happy let alone… his.” She began thinking to herself out loud while pulling out some raw chicken and began cubing it up. “I mean, what do they even eat. I’ve had cats before, do I feed them cat food? Or the raw deal. I guess I’ll just make this chicken.”
    “Yeah, tha’ soundz good. Mmm, chickin! Kah-ssie! Lyra is makin’ chickin!”A small voice peeped from behind her, startling her. Connor had apparently been standing near her the whole time but now he bounded off into the bedroom, tail flicking around the corner. Gone as suddenly as he was there.
    “Well, I suppose that answers my question…” Lyra finished up the meal thinking about her brother. He started working for the Bureau of Animalia Welfare back in 2273. They needed his experience with genetic anomalies and throwback codes. Since then, he has worked his way up to heading the research department. He created new intelligent beings, just as smart as humans. Homo Sapian Chimera. Most of his co-workers adopted many of the subjects, he adopted two of them. She just wishes he’d have told her how to take care of them.

    “So,” she rummaged around her brain for a topic while setting up the table for dinner, “how has school been for you two?”
    Connor was first to reply as he ran to the table, “Da said we didn’ hav to go aneemor’”
    Lyra felt that was suprising, the Bureau was usually very adamant about their learning.
    “Why is that? Did he tell you?”
    “Da say, it didn’ mattar aneemor’. He say, work is worreen’ ’bout the quarenteen mor’ so he tryeen to help with that.”
    This news shocked Lyra even more; quarantine? Maybe it was about the fires lately. More and more fires were in the news. People were dying in them as well. Some people say that it was the people creating the fires, just exploding. Sponaneious Internal Combustion is what they called it. But why would it involve her brother? She inquired further. “Why is there a quarantine?”
    This time Kassie spoke up. “Da’ said that the fir’s on the news were made by humans. Made insid’ them. He said it waz like a bug got insid’ em an made em sick. Made the human body make more heat all the time. Da told us not to worree thou cuz the bug didn’ like us. He say that humans woold hav’ to hide tho’. Da was sad an he cri.”

    • agnesjack says:

      Welcome, wynryprocter. You had my interest with this story from the very beginning. Some very intriguing ideas that could certainly be expanded into a longer story outside the prompt.

      Just a few nits: (a) there are some typos that would easily be fixed with another read, I’m sure, and (b) if you put two returns between paragraphs, it makes it easier to read (Word paragraph spacing doesn’t convert).

      • wynryprocter says:

        Thank you very much for the welcome and the nits! Yeah.. I noticed reading through it again this morning that it really could have used another read though. The dialogue is supposed to be as it is though. They are kids after all and not only that but language is very strange to them as well. The mouths have a hard time dealing with the sounds unlike us humans. I also noticed the format issue. Now I know though! :)

    • don potter says:

      Welcome to the neighborhood. I responded to the post in the one above.

      • wynryprocter says:

        Thanks! Also, I’m glad you were fascinated with it, that was my main goal. I’m thinking of taking prompts in the direction that this story is. I’ve had this story in my head for a very long time, and perhaps I can play with my characters in the senario’s the prompts pose, in their worlds during their events. It may help me get to know my characters better and help me develop their own personalities and reactions and whatnot more-so.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Very creative take on the prompt. I like that the kids weren’t traditional kids. Welcome back to writing. Looks like a good start to me.

      • wynryprocter says:

        Thank you for the kind words :) I love being creative, I just lack the ability to “Flow” well with my writing. Hoping to tackle that problem more and more here. On a sidenote- I really like your stories as well that I’ve seen.

  37. hipsterdesign says:

    “Pinkie promise you won’t tell daddy I told you!?” Andy trembled as the words murmured out his mouth, his bottom lip shaking while his eyes watered up. I grabbed him and pushed him close to me as he hugged the side of my leg. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my skin turn as white as the snow outside. I didn’t know what to say, the words were all in my head they just weren’t arranging themselves properly. How could that even be remotely possible? I mean it always seemed suspicious how my brother served the government- the black Range Rover with black rims and tinted windows, the suit which I thought came straight from the Blues Brothers set. I even nick named him ‘Dan’ because of it.
    “Is this the truth Andy?” I picked this from my brain amongst all the other questions fishing around my head.
    “I heard him talking to mummy about it this morning before they called you. He said it was because ‘one was loose’” He stopped tearing up.
    “Loose!?” I raised my voice looking around to see if she heard. “Does Jennie know?” I whispered kneeling now at his height.
    “No she was asleep.” He got serious and started acting more manly for an eight year old. She is only six. I stood up and peeked in the living room- she was playing with some Barbie dolls while the television played ‘Playschool’.
    “Listen to me very carefully Andy. Do not breathe a word of this to your sister. Pinkie promise!?” We linked pinkies before he ran to the living room to play with his sister.
    I stood straight and looked at myself again. Sweating. I could see the beads forming on my forehead before dripping down my cheek into my mouth. Salty. I walk to the kitchen cautiously before sinking my face in the sink and washing it as if it’ll cleanse me from the troubling information I’ve just heard. How could it be? I straighten before turning round and leaning on the sink edge. I need a drink. Something. I found a glass and went through his liquors to find half a bottle of red label. I down a couple before dialling Jack’s number on my cell.
    “Hello. Rich? Is that you? Kid’s alright?” he seemed flustered and rushed in his words.
    “Yeah they’re good.” I turned to look out the window into the back yard. The gardens were now covered in a blanket of whiteness.
    “Well that’s good- argh, what do I owe the pleasure of the call then?”
    “Andy-“
    “What about him.”
    “He heard you talking this morning with Amy.” Breaking a pinkie promise. I wonder what the penalty is. Death probably.
    “What did he hear?” The words were slow and affirmative
    “Enough.” The questions started bubbling up again. There are so many. I’m a volcano. Burping up words before I break down- eruption. “Where are they?”
    “Umm, I don’t think we should be having this conversation over the phone.”
    “Just tell me- where are they held?”
    “Beneath you.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “The tunnels beneath the town- they are filled with them.”
    “Are the dangerous?”
    “They have tendency towards becoming violent.” I poured another drink as I cocked the phone up between my shoulder and ear. I chug it down me quickly. “Come to airport on the outskirts of town, come now! Amy will be home soon to take care of the kids.” I was left with a dial tone and then silence. The wind whispered to me as it pushed against the window. I wonder if it’s one of their voices. Voice of a creature.
    I drove like a maniac. The icy roads made me feel, at a couple of times, like I was going to slide right off it. I told Andy to take care of his sister. He seemed so confused like he didn’t want me to leave. “What if it comes here?” the thought that a creature in Pete’s home with the kids sent venom through my heart. I shook the thought from myself. Spat it out.
    I entered the airport car park to see my brother and group of others out on centre runway. The small regional town only needed a small airport like this. I got out to be greeted by him.
    “You shouldn’t be here, I’m going out on limb to show you this- completely confidential.” We walked and talked.
    “I want to see it.”
    “You’re one of few. Trust me on that.” We walked onto the runway in still silence. The chill of the frozen air pierced against my face. I was given curious stares before being completely disregarded as a human being by the others in the group. “Well… there it is.” Pete stated gesturing down the bottom of the runway. I turned to see.
    It was definitely human but not completely. It had arms, legs and a head but everything was distorted. The arms and legs were slightly too long for its body. It hunched over like a slave. It was bald, naked like one of those shaven cats. It was pasty white.
    “What the…“ I said in disbelief.
    It was motionless. Still.
    It then perched its head up. Like a machine it moved. Red. Red eyes. Blood red eyes. It camouflaged itself amongst the twilight sky and snowy landscape but the eyes revealed itself. They terrified me. It was definitely looking right towards me. It was around 100 yards away from us. Contained. Hopefully. I took a step back. And then I heard it. It howled like a wolf but then more like a lion but then more like a zombie? It looks at us again.
    Then charges towards us.

  38. hipsterdesign says:

    “Pinkie promise you won’t tell daddy I told you!?” Andy trembled as the words murmured out his mouth, his bottom lip shaking while his eyes watered up. I grabbed him and pushed him close to me as he hugged the side of my leg. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my skin turn as white as the snow outside. I didn’t know what to say, the words were all in my head they just weren’t arranging themselves properly. How could that even be remotely possible? I mean it was always seemed suspicious how my brother served the government- the black Range Rover with black rims and tinted windows, the suit which I thought came straight from the Blues Brothers set. I even nick named him ‘Dan’ because of it.
    “Is this the truth Andy?” I picked this from my brain amongst all the other questions fishing around my head.
    “I heard him talking to mummy about it this morning before they called you. He said it was because ‘one was loose’” He stopped tearing up.
    “Loose!?” I raised my voice looking around to see if she heard. “Does Jennie know?” I whispered kneeling now at his height.
    “No she was asleep.” He got serious and started acting more manly for an eight year old. She is only six. I stood up and peeked in the living room- she was playing with some Barbie dolls while the television played ‘Playschool’.
    “Listen to me very carefully Andy. Do not breathe a word of this to your sister. Pinkie promise!?” We linked pinkies before he ran to the living room to play with his sister.
    I stood straight and looked at myself again. Sweating. I could see the beads forming on my forehead before dripping down my cheek into my mouth. Salty. I walk to the kitchen cautiously before sinking my face in the sink and washing it as if it’ll cleanse me from the troubling information I’ve just heard. How could it be? I straighten before turning round and leaning on the sink edge. I need a drink. Something. I found a glass and went through his liquors to find half a bottle of red label. I down a couple before dialling Jack’s number on my cell.
    “Hello. Rich? Is that you? Kid’s alright?” he seemed flustered and rushed in his words.
    “Yeah they’re good.” I turned to look out the window into the back yard. The gardens were now covered in a blanket of whiteness.
    “Well that’s good- argh, what do I owe the pleasure of the call then?”
    “Andy-“
    “What about him.”
    “He heard you talking this morning with Amy.” Breaking a pinkie promise. I wonder what the penalty is. Death probably.
    “What did he hear?” The words were slow and affirmative
    “Enough.” The questions started bubbling up again. There are so many. I’m a volcano. Burping up words before I break down- eruption. “Where are they?”
    “Umm, I don’t think we should be having this conversation over the phone.”
    “Just tell me- where are they held?”
    “Beneath you.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “The tunnels beneath the town- they are filled with them.”
    “Are the dangerous?”
    “They have tendency towards becoming violent.” I poured another drink as I cocked the phone up between my shoulder and ear. I chug it down me quickly. “Come to airport on the outskirts of town, come now! Amy will be home soon to take care of the kids.” I was left with a dial tone and then silence. The wind whispered to me as it pushed against the window. I wonder if it’s one of their voices. Voice of a creature.
    I drove like a maniac. The icy roads made me feel, at a couple of times, like I was going to slide right off it. I told Andy to take care of his sister. He seemed so confused like he didn’t want me to leave. “What if it comes here?” the thought that a creature in Pete’s home with the kids sent venom through my heart. I shook the thought from myself. Spat it out.
    I entered the airport car park to see my brother and group of others out on centre runway. The small regional town only needed a small airport like this. I got out to be greeted by him.
    “You shouldn’t be here, I’m going out on limb to show you this- completely confidential.” We walked and talked.
    “I want to see it.”
    “You’re one of few. Trust me on that.” We walked onto the runway in still silence. The chill of the frozen air pierced against my face. I was given curious stares before being completely disregarded as a human being by the others in the group. “Well… there it is.” Pete stated gesturing down the bottom of the runway. I turned to see.
    It was definitely human but not completely. It had arms, legs and a head but everything was distorted. The arms and legs were slightly too long for its body. It hunched over like a slave. It was bald, naked like one of those shaven cats. It was pasty white.
    “What the…“ I said in disbelief.
    It was motionless. Still.
    It then perched its head up. Like a machine it moved. Red. Red eyes. Blood red eyes. It camouflaged itself amongst the twilight sky and snowy landscape but the eyes revealed itself. They terrified me. It was definitely looking right towards me. It was around 100 yards away from us. Contained. Hopefully. I took a step back. And then I heard it. It howled like a wolf but then more like a lion but then more like a zombie? It looks at us again.
    Then charges towards us.

  39. don potter says:

    The lousy winter weather in the nation’s capital continued with another six inches of snow overnight. My office was closed, but my brother, Richard, was on some kind of special assignment with the FBI and had to show up for an important meeting. His kids were home from school that day and neither of our wives was available, so I got the job of watching them until someone else could take over.

    I trudged the few block to my bother’s house figuring we’d be inside all day, but his kids had other ideas. We spent a couple of hours having fun in the white stuff until we were wet and exhausted. The kids changed, but I had nothing to wear. My brother and I are about the same size, so I went upstairs to find some dry clothes.

    While rummaging through his closet, I came across a file cabinet and felt compelled to look inside. There was an entire drawer devoted to my wife, Shara. Pictures of her doing all kinds of things – shopping, meeting people in restaurants, and walking or seating in various parks and museums around DC with people I have never seen before. This is crazy. What’s going on? I’ll ask the kids.

    “Did you know your daddy has a bunch of pictures of aunt Shara?” I asked, figuring a direct question might produce a direct answer.

    “Oh, he has more than that,” Ashley replied.

    “Yeah, he has videos and stuff in the basement,” Tyler said.

    “Lots of them,” Blake added.

    Rather than show too much interest, I changed the subject and decided to wait for Richard to come home so I could confront him with what I had learned. He arrived about three. I spirited him away from the kids as soon as I could.

    “I saw the photos. Do you have the hots for Shara or what?” I asked.

    “No, she’s under surveillance,” Richard said.

    “For what?”

    “Terrorism. She was a suspect before you met and ended up getting married a few weeks later.”

    “Why didn’t you tell me?”

    “I wanted to, but the Bureau labeled this Top Secret.”

    “If you don’t want to destroy our family this has got to stop,” I said and left in a huff.

    Shara didn’t get home until midnight. I told her what happened at my brother’s house.

    “It’s nothing for you to worry about. Go to sleep,” she said.

    I woke up with a needle in my arm. She had injected me with something.

    “What are you doing?” I asked.

    “Nothing to worry about.”

    I tried to get up but could not. My mind was swirling and my body seemed to be shutting down. In the dim light I saw my beloved Persian Princess strap on a suicide vest. The phone rang. She spoke in her native Farsi, but I understood when she said, “It is done.”

    I felt myself slipping away when the phone rang again. It was Richard. His message said, “We’re on our way. Shara’s in custody. It is done.”

    My world faded to black.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wow, this is a dark tale, Don. I feel sorry for the main character being used like that.

      My suspicious mind gets thinking – all this classified data stored in an unlocked file cabinet in an unsecured location. I don’t think Shara was the only one playing the main character. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the FBI also had a weather control machine to create the snow day…

      • don potter says:

        I was thinking about involving the MC in a scheme to manipulate him into unknowingly work for the FBI, but word count considerations tossed that idea out the window. In order to fold the kids into the plot, I purposely played the discovery of the files a little loose. I liked you suggestion of the government having a weather control machine. Maybe I’ll find a way to use that idea in the future.

    • zmiley says:

      Wow, Don Potter. That was a well spun tale. Love the moment he confronts Richard– priceless.

    • Silver Sister says:

      His nickname for his wife was a poignant touch. It’s a simple detail that speaks of his love for her. Tragic without being melodramatic. Well done.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Intrigue at it’s max You’ve done a very concise job with this story, Tension builds nicely and waking up with a needle in your arm is very scary. Too bad about the 500. But I don’t stop my writing and expand them I post this site.

        The one I wrote, Footprints At Avalon, I expanded to 800 words and it’s being published in the Storyteller Magazine this coming March.

    • Critique says:

      They say love is blind – the MC was blindsided – and loved her anyway. A trusting individual. Sad ending.

    • agnesjack says:

      Oh my, don. Such a frightening tale with a very unsatisfactory ending for the poor MC. Well written.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Crazy situation but I’ll bet stuff like this happens.

      So, is he fading to black permanently?

    • Man, your narrator can’t catch a break! I found this very realistic and terrifying, Don. The dialog was perfectly tense.

  40. zmiley says:

    Did I forget to mention that the MC spent years in Russia deciphering codes for the KGB?

  41. Silver Sister says:

    Spaghetti sauce simmered on the stove. While I sliced, Laynie smeared garlic butter on the bread. “Your dad just texted. He’s headed home.”

    Fortunately, it was between snow showers. When I agreed to babysit, my brother suggested I bring an overnight bag. Good thing, too.

    “I wish I could visit Daddy’s work. The boys go all the time.”

    That meant Darren probably pointed out the high-security building to the twins when they drove past. Sections of the building required special clearance. No way they’d chance two kindergarteners roaming free.

    “Adam say it’s waaaay awesome.”

    I nodded. He thrives on pestering Laynie. Then, she added, “I wouldn’t like the blood part, though.”

    “Blood part?”

    “They pull blood out of ‘em with a needle. Like at the doctor’s. Adam says there’s juice and cookies after so even that’s okay.” Her forehead puckered. “Then Asher overheard us. He got real mad. Asher says they’re not supposta talk about it. Not even to you or Nana or Pop.” She frowned like a disapproving teacher. “But it’s mean to keep secrets. Right, Aunt Cara?”

    The kitchen’s savory smells upset my stomach. There’s a logical explanation, I assured myself. I’m majoring in social work. I volunteer at a shelter for abused women and children. If something sinister was going on, I would know.

    Darren lives for those kids. Especially Asher and Adam. Maybe because they’re boys. Or the youngest. Or because their late mother was an identical twin, too. He’d never jeopardize them.

    Still, I watched my brother that night. He surprised us with ingredients for S’mores. The kids love making them in the fireplace. I watched Darren enjoy their fun. How could I possibly suspect him?

    Dr. Mengele gave twins at Auschwitz chocolate. The fact popped to mind. He laughed and played with them until he trucked them off to gruesome experiments. I shivered. Why did I have to remember that now?

    I stayed by the fire long after Darren put the kids to bed. Later, he asked, “Are you busy tomorrow?”

    I like busy Saturdays, but the weather dampened this one.

    “Can you watch the kids in the morning? I have a presentation Monday that needs tweaking.”

    “Sure.” I considered mentioning Laynie’s story. Instinct demanded I watch and wait. What I was watching and waiting for, though, I had no idea.

    Until I awoke around 3 a.m. Light leaked from Darren’s study. I crept closer. “Now is not the time to get squeamish.” He must’ve been on the phone because he paused. “All the more reason not to let their deaths be in vain. . . This breakthrough will change mankind. . . Would I risk my sons’ lives for anything less?”

    I recoiled.

    “We initiate phase three on Monday. I’ll have the twins there by seven.”

    I fled to the guest room. My teeth chattered. I clutched the quilt but couldn’t get warm.

    Darren left before dawn. I moved quickly. I called my contact at the shelter. Ramona dictated specific instructions. Before the kids woke, I unearthed and thawed my car. I packed for Laynie and was nearly finished with the twins when Asher stirred. He spied me stuffing his Spiderman hoodie into my suitcase.

    “Aunt Cara, that’s mine.” He yawned. “Why are you putting it in your bag?”.

    What did the other women Ramona helped to disappear tell their trusting, bleary-eyed kids? I did my best. “We’re going on a trip, Asher. It’s ‘our’ bag now.”

    • thatbillguy says:

      First, I love stories that start with a smell! I smelled that spaghetti throughout the whole story.

      Dr. Mengele gave twins at Auschwitz chocolate.

      I like the idea behind this, and the bigger story hiding in it.

      Great job!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Frightful story because of the danger to the children and the high probability Cara won’t have much of a chance excaping from Darren. Now, she’s also at risk. Lot of tension in your writing and the characters are sharp and realistic.

        You can expand this into any avenue you wish. Be sure and let us know if you do, so we can follow along.

    • don potter says:

      Good concept and well told. I, too, liked the “Dr. Mengele gave twins at Auschwitz chocolate” phrase.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great story, Silver Sister. You did a really good job building tension and making me care for Cara. I hope she gets away, though it could turn nasty if Asher wakes his dad…

    • Critique says:

      I enjoyed your story. The Dr. Mengele phrase was prophetic. Now I’m wondering. What happened to Aunty and the kids?

    • Silver Sister says:

      I just want to thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I haven’t been on here long, but I am thoroughly enjoying it.

      Thatbillguy: Thanks! I like to use smell because it’s such an evocative sense. I was trying to go for homey and comfy so Laynie’s revelation would be all the more jarring.

      Kerry: Thank you for your generous comments, especially about characterization. I quite like this little family. I’m glad others do, too.

      Don: I actually debated using the Dr. Mengele line for fear it was too heavy handed. But it conveyed so many concepts I wanted to express that I couldn’t cut it. Thanks for validating I made the right call.

      Observer Tim: Building tension is not one of my natural writing strengths. It’s something I’m actively working on. Your comments were a lovely confidence boost.

      Critique: So glad you enjoyed it. Technical skill is important to me, but I truly want readers to have fun reading my stories.

      • PromptPrincess13 says:

        I really, really enjoyed this and I agree with Kerry. I would really encourage you to make this into a short story, or at least to tie into another prompt. It’s a strong, strong story and the Auschwitz phrase was definitely the right choice. It brought a new level of depth to the story. Definitely one of my favorite prompts.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very good story, Silver Sister. Makes me want to read the next chapter. Loved the kid’s dialogue, and the description: “She frowned like a disapproving teacher.”

    • frankd1100 says:

      Sinister! The contrast between the homey fun stuff in the kitchen and the Dr.Mengele like activities of Darren brings it home.

      Neat transition from the relaxed, warm, family setting to the frantic attempt to escape and save the kids. What would Cara’s fate be if caught? I’m thinking similar to whatever happened to the Mom.

      Good Story!

    • suyidavies says:

      Silver Sister, your stories are always well written and relatable. Quite easy to get into the flow of the family here. The kids are real realistic. Another good one.

    • DMelde says:

      Good idea for the prompt Silver Sista. Love your screen name, and pasta is one of my favorites!

  42. agnesjack says:

    My eight-year old niece, Julie, was rather precocious. She loved making things up just to see how people would react. So when she told me that she heard her dad telling his boss on the phone that the deal was in place for the money laundering, I decided not to give her the satisfaction of a reaction.

    The schools were closed because of the blizzard, and since I could work from anywhere with my laptop, I didn’t mind babysitting. Ralph and Anna’s house was so much nicer than my mess of an apartment anyway. I’d stayed the night and was still in my pajamas.

    “No, really, Uncle Roger. I’m not making this up, I SWEAR!”

    “Whatever you say, Jules,” I said, yawning.

    “Well, if you don’t believe me, ask Jimmy!” she said with a pout, “and don’t call me Jules!” Then she stomped off to her room and slammed the door.

    I wasn’t sure if my nephew Jimmy, who was four, was in a position to corroborate Julie’s tall tale, but I decided to ask him anyway — just for fun.

    Jimmy was in the living room watching one of those annoying high-pitched, sing-songy kiddy shows.

    “Hey Jimmy. Come here for a sec,” I said from the kitchen.

    “’K” he said, but he didn’t move, so I grabbed my coffee and went to the doorway.

    “Did you hear Daddy talking on the phone this morning?”

    “Un huh.”

    “Do you remember what he said?”

    He shrugged. His eyes were glued to the TV.

    “Think, Jimmy,” I said. “Did he mention money or something?”

    “Un huh” he said.

    “What did he say?”

    “He said money was wandering.”

    “Wandering? Or laundering?”

    “Un huh,” he said.

    I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out how my older brother, who was the straightest of straight-arrows, could be involved in something like that. I was the troublemaker in the family. He worked in building maintenance and security, or something, and had a lot of big government contracts, but his job seemed boring when he talked about it.

    He got home before Anna, so I figured I’d better just come out and ask.

    “Hey Ralph. Julie said something interesting today and I didn’t really believe her, because you know how she is, but then I asked Jimmy and he kind of said the same thing, so…” and I told him what she had said.

    At first Ralph looked puzzled and hurt, but then he got this big grin on his face and started to laugh — a big, full-out belly laugh.

    “Oh man, Roger.” he said, when he settled down. “You know how there are all those plants in the lobby and offices of the main courthouse downtown? The maintenance company who had the subcontract went out of business, so we had to hire a new one. They’re scheduled to come in on Mondays to do the watering.”

    He paused, grinning.

    “Roger, I told my boss the deal was in place for the Monday watering, dummy.”

    He slapped me on the back and said, “Guess I’m gonna have to have another talk with my little mischief-maker. Julie!”

  43. thejim says:

    Well I lamented on whether or not to write one this one I was not sure if I needed PeterW to tear me a new one.
    ——————————————————————————-
    Alex and Brent scurried in from the cold shaking the snow from their coats. Steve waved from the SUV and quickly drove off.

    “Hello you two, Where’s your hat”? Dave said as Alex shook his snow covered head.

    “He could not find it and Dad was in a hurry so we left without it.” Brent said

    “You two eat breakfast yet”? Dave said

    “We’re not hungry; can we go outside and play in the snow?”

    Dave nodded and the two boys ran out the back door.

    Dave sat sipping a hot cider watching them from the comfort of his warm office when it happened.

    Alex froze and did not move. Dave stood up at first thinking it was a game but when Brent stopped throwing snow balls and walked over to Alex, he knew something was wrong. Brent took off his gloves and un-zip Alex’s jacket. Holding the gloves in his mouth Brent began to do something to Alex’s chest. Dave could not make out what he was doing and then with a swift precise movement Brent smacked Alex across the side of his head. Alex’s head swayed to the side for a moment. Brent zipped up Alex’s jacket put his gloves on and then reached back and with a full swing hit Alex across the head again. Suddenly Alex began to move as if nothing happened he dove and tackled Brent and the two boys laughed and played as boys do in the snow.
    After an hour or so Dave yelled at the two and told them it was time to come in.

    The two boys laughing and pushing each other entered the house, they stomped their feet and brushed their coats, snow flew in all directions.

    You guys want some Hot chocolate?

    Yeah! They both shouted.

    All three of them sat at the table sipping the hot chocolate when Dave asked.
    “What happened out there with Alex? What were you doing Brent?”

    Without looking up from his drink he said” Well when it is cold and if Alex gets too wet sometimes his main breaker pops.

    As soon as the words were out of his mouth Alex piped in “What are you talking about Brent, circuit pops, Ha… that’s a good one.”

    “Yes Brent, what are you talking about?” Dave asked

    Brent looked up into his uncles eyes; you see Alex is an android.

    Alex shouted, “BRENT!”

    “Alex, it is ok, it is time for him to know”

    “I think this is a bad idea.”

    Brent went on, “Alex and I both are androids our Dad made us, in fact he is has been working on a sister for us, her name is Callie but it is taking a long time.”

    Dave stood up and said you two have a vivid imagination stop playing with me, what happened outside?

    Brent looked over to Alex and said “Show him,” Alex opened his shirt and touched a birth mark and his chest slid open to expose a cluster of wires and moving mechanical parts.
    Dave just stared, his mouth dropped open. His eyes slowly moved back to Brent.

    “Yes, I am one too, we are twins. Well not exactly twins, Alex was first, I was second. I have a few up grades. We should tell you something else.”

    “Again I think this is a bad idea” said Alex

    Brent looked back at his uncle, “Dave, are you listening to me.” Dave with a dazed look on his face nodded.

    “You are an android too.”

    With a small chuckle and a forced smile Dave fell backwards and hit the floor hard.

    Alex looked up from his uncle’s body, “See, I told you it was a bad idea. You remember how mom reacted when we told her she was one.”

    Brent grabbed his hot chocolate and said “Well I’m gonna go play Zombie Attack on the Game box, you wanna play?”

    Alex retorted, “You’re going down this time looser!”

    “You wish!”

    • Silver Sister says:

      The scientist MADE his entire family! Love it. A nice take on the prompt. The brothers have a good rapport. I like how their androidness is no big deal to them. ‘Yeah, so we’re androids. . . Let’s play!”. Even though they’re androids – and fictional – the boys feel authentic to me. I like that Mom apparently flipped out, too. Your story entertained me.

      P.S. Never let anyone keep you from writing. Or participating here. That’s too much power to give to another. Besides, how can one get better without writing?

    • thatbillguy says:

      This is a great story!

      The pacing for it is very well done.

      “He could not find it and Dad was in a hurry so we left without it.” Brent said.”

      –this line, immediately clued me in that something was different about the boys, without giving anything away. I like how you–seemingly–purposely avoided contractions in their speech (until the second-to-last line). That, made the reveal that they are androids really hit home. That very little hint of back story really solidified everything after the reveal.

      I think this is a very legitimate story that could grow into something bigger. Great job!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I was waiting for “the kids are robots”; you pulled it off, and you pulled it off well.

      This was great, theJim, I’m glad you posted it. The story was imaginative and the end got a definite chuckle from me. Steve must be a hell of an inventor.

    • PGS says:

      A fun story to read!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        I would only have one problem with android children. They would never grow up and it wouldn’t be worth the effort unless they could be programed to carry out the trash and clean the cat’s litter box. [only joking.] I enjoyed the story, lots of imagination and interplay between the two children/androids.

        Is it possible to re-boot Dave or will he be dis-assembled for spare parts?

    • don potter says:

      The problem with making a family to your own specs is they tend ho take on your characteristics, which you will tire of sooner than later.

    • thejim says:

      Thanks everyone for the kind words, here is a little thought that was going through my brain
      Alex – First Android – Brent Second – Callie – Third but having issues with her – David is fourth

      A- B -C -D-
      Not sure if people would catch that.
      I think his Wife is Ellen.
      and of course Fido the dog.HA!

    • Critique says:

      This is a fun imaginative story. The kids were cute – the dialogue was realistic.

    • frankd1100 says:

      It felt bad that Alex hadn’t received the upgrades. Then again, the sense of being left out was most likely removed from his hardware. Or software, I’m not sure…

      I enjoyed your story. The android theme doesn’t overwhelm the relationships and interaction.

      Clever twist on the prompt.

    • calicocat88 says:

      This was a GREAT take on the prompt. It was happy (only a little disturbing) and light, the dialogue simple and easy to read. The idea that the scientist created a family for himself–classic. I want to know if any of his created family members ever turned on him? You know you have a good story when the readers can ask a bunch of questions (the good kind) and want to know more. Oh, and one thing I’d like to point out that I liked is that you had a good attention getter at the beginning. It was slight, but it made me want to figure out what was going on : “Alex froze and did not move. Dave stood up at first thinking it was a game but when Brent stopped throwing snow balls and walked over to Alex, he knew something was wrong.” It wasn’t at the actual beginning, but it still works. Great job!

      *Great writers in history have broken rules and ignored many negative criticisms. Writing is an adventure and nobody gets anywhere in an adventure when they’re too afraid to make mistakes and let people control them and tell them they can’t. Some lines were drawn as a challenge to see who is brave enough to step over them and who is willing to work hard enough to prove that done right, you can do anything in writing. Keep writing and listen to YOUR instincts and not everybody else’s. Don’t be afraid to take risks with your writing either. Writer’s are the silent leaders in the world.

  44. lovelauren says:

    I had missed my niece and nephew for the last few months. My husband and I loaded the car with our 3 boys, to go to my brother’s house to babysit while Nathaniel went to work on this snow day.
    We were met with kisses and hugs from the small children who were growing so quickly. I chatted with my brother while Mark unloaded the car. He ushered the children down over the high step of the minivan and directed them up the steep hill of Nathaniel’s front yard. The boys struggled to be the first to the top of the hill.
    Nathaniel was in a rush for an important meeting with a few other big shots; it’s a pissing contest with these characters. They always have some highly classified files that pertain to the demise of many people, were they to fall into the wrong hands. He patted me on the arm, brushed past me, making eye contact with Mark before reaching for the front door handle and turning it swiftly as he gave it a mighty pull. Cold winter air swooshed inside and I hurriedly attempted to close it.
    We spent the day doing homework and sledding. We set up camp on the floor of the den and put movies on. There was popcorn in a kettle on the stove and the smell of zesty seasoned, popped kernels filled the air. We were having a seamlessly perfect evening.
    Rosemary and Julk began to call me Maryann and told me to put my clothes back on, making faces. I had my clothes on, you see! It was preposterous that these young children would be saying such a thing. Rosemary began to cry as she hasteningly insisted I put my clothes back on. Julk walked slowly behind me and told me that Rosemary was upset that Daddy had hurt the last babysitter. He made her take all of her clothes off before he sliced her to pieces. I jumped up and almost threw Rosemary to the floor in horror. Julk was closing in on me and told me that Daddy’s boss made him do it. Daddy’s boss needed a specimen for the high-class investigation (he pronounced it “in-fest-ick-ation).
    Somehow, hours had passed. I heard keys jingling at the door. Mark entered the living room just then, holding two large bowls full of popcorn, a goofy grin spread across his face.
    Nathaniel finally got the latch open, and walked into the house, glancing with a knowing look at Rosemary and noticing her quivering lip. He began to rage and his face twisted in anger and embarrassment.
    “You little wench. Don’t you realize how important this is? Don’t you know what you’ve just cost me, our family?”
    I tried to get up from where I was sitting on the floor. Please, look at me, I begged Mark with my mind. Nathaniel took a step towards me, he reached for something shiny inside his jacket. I opened my mouth to speak as he loomed over me…. BANG…

  45. lovelauren says:

    It was so good to see my darling niece and nephew again. I had missed them so much over the last few months. It had been a few months since my brother and I had traveled to see one another due to the cold weather. My husband and I were loading up the car with our 3 boys, getting ready to go to my brother’s house to babysit while Nathaniel went to tend to some important work business on this snowy day.
    Upon arriving at their house, we were met with kisses and hugs from the small children who were growing quickly with each passing week. It was such a treat to be able to spend the evening with them. I chatted with my brother for a few moments while Mark unloaded the car. He ushered the children down over the high step of the minivan and directed them up the steep hill of Nathaniel’s front yard. The boys struggled to get to the top of the hill before each other, no one wants to be the rotten egg, you see.
    Nathaniel filled me in on the kids’ schedule; bedtime and books, etc. He was in a rush so as not to be late to an important meeting with a handful of other bigshot wise guys; it’s a pissing contest with these characters. They always have some highly classified files that pertain to the demise of many people, were they to fall into the wrong hands. He patted me on the arm and brushed past me, making eye contact with Mark before reaching for the front door handle and turning it swiftly as he gave it a mighty pull. Cold winter air swooshed inside and I hurriedly attempted to close it, keeping the bitter, brutal, frigid air out.
    We spent the day doing homework and sledding, and when nightfall came, we all settled into the living room. We laid blankets on the floor and turned on the tv. There was popcorn in a kettle on the stove and the smell of zesty seasoned, popped kernels filled the air. We were having a seamlessly perfect evening.
    Rosemary and Julk started making faces at me. They began to call me Maryann and told me to put my clothes back on. I had my clothes on, you see! It was preposterous that these young children would be saying such a thing. Rosemary began to cry as she hasteningly insisted I put my clothes back on. Julk walked slowly behind me and told me that Rosemary was upset that Daddy had hurt the last babysitter. He made her take all of her clothes off before he sliced her to pieces. I jumped up and almost threw Rosemary to the floor in horror. Julk was closing in on me and told me that Daddy’s boss made him do it. Daddy’s boss needed a specimen for the high class investigation (he pronounced it “in-fest-ick-ation).
    Somehow, hours had passed. I heard keys jingling at the door. My brother had just returned from work and was about to enter the house, what was I going to say to him? Mark entered the living room just then, holding two large bowls full of popcorn, a goofy grin spread across his face, unaware of what had just unfolded.
    Nathaniel finally got the latch open, and walked into the house, glancing with a knowing look at Rosemary and noticing her quivering lip. He began to rage and his face twisted in anger and embarrassment.
    “You little wench. Don’t you realize how important this is? Don’t you know what you’ve just cost me, our family?”
    I tried to get up from where I was sitting on the floor, I was caught among the blankets and pillows, and Julk was tangled up with me. I wanted to motion to Mark that we had to leave. Please, please, look at me, I begged him in my mind. Please gather the kids, we have got to get out of here, I pleaded in my head, hoping somehow he could hear me, hoping he could sense the desperation and panic that was swelling within me. Nathaniel took a step towards me, and another, reaching towards the breast pocket of his left side and drawing a pistol. I opened my mouth to speak as he loomed over me…. BANG…

  46. Leroymerrill says:

    POLAR VORTEX

    Even when Carter and I were kids, he never seemed to be able to do much without my help. When he refused to take the time to learn to tie his shoe, my job was to do it for him. My spending allowance was cut when he didn’t finish his chores. If I won a trophy in sports, Mom had to buy him one too. If another kid was picking on him, I had to handle it, but Carter would cry if I were too rough on the bully. I’m not sure why I was surprised when he called me to watch HIS two girls. Standing on his front porch, I took in a deep breath and knocked on his door.

    Carter opened his door. “Ron, I appreciate you coming.” I followed him to his kitchen. “Lunches are in the fridge.” Carter scanned his counters. “No nuts for Janet. I think she’s developing an allergy.”

    “Oh geeze, I hate to hear that,” I said. “Remember when we were in middle school and you dang near killed that skinny kid by insisting he eat your Snickers Bar?”

    “It’s nothing like that. Nuts just make her whiny and keep her from listening.”

    “I thought all kids got that way?”

    “I know my child and it’s the nuts.” Carter typed ‘make appt with pediatrician’ on his Iphone. “Thank goodness we live in a country with universal health coverage.”

    “Yeah, I love my new doctor’s creepy stare and cold hands…and my new premium.”

    “Everything’s always about you, isn’t it?” Carter put his Iphone in his coat’s breast pocket. “Both girls can have one low calorie yogurt for an afternoon snack.”

    “I brought them ice-cream.”

    “Not in this house,” Carter said. “Processed sugar affects Sarah’s reasoning. It’s my fault. I let her have a cookie one afternoon last week and she forgot to do her homework.”

    “That absur—”

    “It’s proven science,” Carter said. “I want Janet to take nap so encourage her to go down at two o’clock.”

    “Dad used to just tell us to get our ass in bed.”

    “I’m not Dad. She likes listening to NPR while she sleeps.” Carter retrieved a notebook from his kitchen table. He had written ‘Rewards and Encouragements’ on the cover. “If you ask them to do something and they don’t do it, I want you to record each non-listening event and discuss it with them.”

    “How ‘bout I send their little butts to their rooms?”

    “No!” Carter opened the notebook. “Here’s Sarah’s log.” He flipped the page. “And Janet’s. Score each non-listening event based on the tone of your voice. When they reach seven points, they get no yogurt. At ten points, there is no afternoon movie, and at fifteen, they lose yogurt privilege for the next day.”

    “You’ve got to be kidding—”

    “It’s not all bad news.” Carter searched for his keys under stacks of newspaper piled on his kitchen counter. “Each time they put two of their toys into the toy box, I give them three sunshine points.” Carter closed the book and placed it back on his kitchen table. “Janet has ten sunshine points right now so she’ll need to—Ron, pay attention to me—she’ll need to lose seventeen before you can take her yogurt away.”

    “And if they murder one another?”

    “Class two violations are detailed on the back page, but I caution you from recording those without considering all mitigating circumstances.”

    “How about you popping their little—“

    “We don’t teach assault and battery in my home.”

    “It’s your house, but—”

    “Got ‘em!” Carter snatched his keys from under a newspaper. “Mock me if you like, but a PHD came up with this method and you’re no PHD.”

    “Carter, you know I love you, but ever since Matalin left you for that—”

    “She didn’t leave ME, she went to find her inner self.”

    “I’m pretty sure the Seahawk’s linebacker you caught her with found what she was missing,” I said. “You’ve just been flaky since the divorce.”

    “And that means what?”

    “You drink wine, I saw you in a ‘save the dolphins’ t-shirt last week…hell, your hair’s long, and you wear sandals every weekend.”

    “I appreciate you helping me out today—it takes a village—but keep your judgments to yourself.” Carter walked toward his front door. “I’ll be home at six.”

    —————————————————————

    As I prepared lunch, Janet stared out the kitchen window at a large oak in the center of Carter’s backyard.

    “Sweetie, what are you looking at?” I said.

    “I wanta hug Pelosi.”

    “Pelosi?”

    “Daddy named the stupid tree,” Sarah said. “Sometimes after he’s smoked his medicinals, he feels weepy and hugs wood.”

    “The tree?”

    Sarah pointed to the oak. “Wraps both arms around Nancy and plants a kiss right there on that knot.”

    I clamped my lips together and tightened my chest to keep the girls from noticing my snickers. When the urge to laugh subsided, I said, “Janet…girl, it’s too cold to go outside.”

    Janet continued staring the tree.

    “So much for global warming.” I opened the fridge.

    Janet spun around and scowled. “We’re not allowed to say that!”

    “Say what?”

    Sarah sighed. “You are supposed to say,” she rolled her eyes, “‘climate change’.”

    ————————————————————————————-

    After lunch, the girls and I settled in the living room. Janet played on the floor with her plus-size Barbie dolls and Sarah with bearded Duck Commander action-figures my dad had given her.

    I checked my watch and looked at Janet. “Sweetie, it’s nap time.”

    “Uncle Ron, I don’t wanta nap,” Janet said.

    “Try saying ‘please’,” Sarah said.

    “Please…it’s time for a nap.”

    Janet stood her portly doll up. “She’s digging a water well in a village and then she’ll prepare tax-returns at the community center for no charge.”

    “I’ll give you—I can’t believe I’m saying this—I’ll give you three sunshine points,” I said.

    “That qualifies as encouragement,” Sarah said.

    Janet didn’t answer and Sarah went back to pretending her action-figures were shooting ducks.

    “Okay, no nap.” I thumbed through Carter’s stack of DVDs. “You girls wanta watch a movie?”

    An Inconvenient Truth…No.

    Roger & Me…No

    “He keeps the good movies under his bed,” Sarah said.

    “I’ll bet he does,” I mumbled.

    “They’re under the spare set of rubber sheets.”

    “The what?”

    “In case he leaks.”

    “Your father wets the—” I shook my head. “Never mind.”

    I continued searching through the movies.

    Fahrenheit 9/11…No

    Robin Hood…Yes

    “How ‘bout Robin Hood?”

    “He’s just like Daddy,” Janet said.

    “Your daddy still wears tights?” I snickered.

    Sarah sighed. “He takes from the rich and gives to the poor.”

    “He what?”

    Janet put her doll down. “Some have too much and some don’t have enough so he takes from one and give to the other.”

    “Your Dad’s no thief?”

    “They’re rich because they took from the poor a long time ago,” Janet said. “Daddy makes it right.”

    “What she’s trying to say is,” Sarah said, “Daddy works for Senator Gill.”

    “The Democrat?”

    “We’re not supposed to tell anybody.”

    ————————————————–

    During the movie, both girls fell into a deep sleep on the couch. I slipped into Carter’s guest bedroom and phoned my parents.

    “Hello,” Mom answered.

    “Where’s Dad?”

    “He’s on the front porch cleaning his guns.”

    “I need to talk to him.”

    “Your father can’t come to the phone,” Mom said. “He’s pleasured himself all morning with some of Milwaukee’s best.”

    “Mom! You know he shouldn’t be messing with guns after he’s been drinking.”

    “It’s just that he’s been awfully riled up lately.”

    “Don’t tell me, you’ve been letting him watch FOX news again.”

    “Oh Lord no,” Mom said. “You see these…I can’t say the word”

    “What can’t you say?”

    “These people moved next door.”

    “What people?”

    Mom lowered her voice. “Homos…I just can’t say it.”

    “Homosexuals?”

    “Yes.”

    “What is he going to do? Go over and shoot ‘em?”

    “Oh I hope not. It’s just incase they come over here and wanta—”

    “And wanta what?” I sighed. “Borrow a cup of flour?”

    “Fornicate.”

    “With you? And Dad?” I closed my eyes and squeezed the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. “You probably couldn’t ask for better neighbors. Tell Dad to stop drinking and put his guns away.”

    “I’ll tell him, but you know how he hates communist.”

    “It’s their sexual orientation, not their political—hell, they might even be Republicans.”

    “Your father would never shoot a Republican.”

    “He doesn’t need to shoot any—never mind.” I paused. “Mom, I’ve got disturbing news.”

    “Are you okay?”

    “Not me, Carter.”

    “Is Carter hurt?”

    “Worse.” I took several deep breaths. “Carter’s…Carter’s become a—”

    “What’s wrong with my baby?”

    “Mom…he’s a liberal.”

    The phone fell silent for a full minute. As expected, I somehow took the blame for Carter’s choices and the homosexuals that moved next door to my parents.

    • wynryprocter says:

      I really liked the voice of the characters, as well as the MC’s wittiness. This was enjoyable!

    • Silver Sister says:

      I loved this story! Non-listening events . . Sunshine points . . . Yogurt privileges, these are a few of my favorite things. I laughed out loud several times. Great portrayal of hysterical parenting. Their mom is perfectly repressed. Dialogue was witty while still being realistic. Great job!

  47. jhowe says:

    I was probably fourth or fifth on Rob’s list of people he would call to watch his daughter but as the recovering black sheep of the family I reluctantly agreed.

    Kara jumped into my arms as I walked in the back door. “It’s a snow day Uncle Rick! Can we go sledding?”

    “Of course we’re going sledding, what is this, Communist Russia?” I said. Kara giggled and wrapped her arms around my neck. I hadn’t seen her this happy since I bought her the beagle puppy a year ago last Christmas, which, from Rob’s and our parent’s points of view, went over about as big as the BB gun I bought her the year before that. The dog now resided in his crate most of the time because of excessive chewing and seemingly incurable territory marking tendencies.

    Rob came into the kitchen knotting his striped tie. “Thanks Rick, I really appreciate this.”

    “Pretty hard up, huh bro?” I said. Kara squirmed and I put her down and she grabbed her dad’s leg and rode on it as he moved around stiff legged.

    Rob poured coffee into a go cup and donned his overcoat. “Just don’t burn the place down, ok?” He was smiling but he seemed uneasy, which he likely was.

    Rob left and I told Kara to get dressed up nice and warm. I was between jobs, again, and Rob was on his way to his office where his job waited; the job he could not talk about under penalty of death to anyone he told. Yeah right.

    “I’m ready Uncle Rick, let’s go!”

    I grabbed Rob’s boots, gloves and a hat out of the closet and followed her out the door into the blowing snow. There was a substantial slope in the back yard and I set the plastic sled down and readied it. “This hill’s too small,” Kara whined. “Let’s go to Centennial Park.”

    “You got it Chicky, who’s driving?”

    Kara laughed, “I’ll tell you a secret if you drive me.”

    “Ok, let’s go.” We hopped in my four wheel drive Ranger and buckled up. “What’s the big secret?”

    “Daddy says you need a burial plot.”

    “What?”

    “He says grandma and grandpa will need one and you’ll probably be next.”

    “Me?”

    “Yeah, on account of your lifestyle and all,” Kara said. “What’s lifestyle?”

    “Never mind that. What’s with the burial plot concept?”

    “He sells burial plots now.”

    “What about his government job?”

    “Oh, he just says that to put you in your place.”

    “He does huh?”

    “Yeah,” Kara said. “He says you get all high and mighty and he’s keeping your feet on the ground.”

    “Who else knows about this?” I said.

    “Just me. Mommy knew, but um, you know…”

    “Yeah, I know.” Kara’s mom had run off with another man six months ago. It was hard on Rob but he was adjusting. It was harder on Kara. “Tell you what,” I said. “Let’s keep this as a secret, ok?”

    “I guess so.” Kara wiped a tear from her cheek. “I called Mommy last night. That Ted guy answered and said he’d tell her. She forgot to call me back.”

    “I’ll tell you what. You keep our secret and I’ll talk to your mom and Mr. Ted guy, ok?”

    “Ok Uncle Rick.”

  48. Observer Tim says:

    A triangle of snow marks the gap in the french doors leading to the motel room’s balcony. Madison is sitting on the bed with her nose in an adventure novel while I stare out the window. The weather has changed from “heavy snowfall” to “blizzard” to “storm of the century.” I’m glad we’re indoors rather than braving the weather in my Ford Fiesta.

    My cell phone rings; I pick it up without bothering to look.

    “Hello, Justin; how’re things at the office?”

    “I’m not at the office, Britt; I just got home. Where are my kids?”

    “Everybody’s safe, Justin.”

    “That’s not what I asked. Where are you?”

    “I dropped Hannah and Jake off at Mom’s. Maddy’s with me, out of reach of your goons from ‘Health’ Canada and their mind-control devices!”

    “It’s not mind control, it’s a medical device.”

    “An experimental medical device!”

    “We’re not going through this again, Britt. Play your game if you want, but make sure Madison is back in time for school on Monday. I mean it!”

    Justin hangs up on me. He used his pull in the government to get 12-year old Madison enrolled in the clinical trial of the Sleepwalker device, a headband that’s supposed to suppress her telepathy. Madison says it’s like being partially deaf, and I believe her. After all, I’ve been hearing thoughts since I was her age. It totally screwed up my adolescence.

    “Aunt Brittney, your moping is distracting me.”

    “Sorry, dear. Dealing with your dad just gets me so frustrated.”

    “I know. But he’s just doing what he thinks is best, same as you are.”

    She’s a remarkably forgiving kid. But I guess knowing people’s intentions as they talk to you makes it easier. I brush her hair back from her eyes and she smiles. This kind of tender moment is easy with Madison; we really do have an unspoken bond.

    An intense thought rises through the floor. It’s a young couple, and they are definitely in the mood.

    “Maddie, we’re getting out of here.” I will not expose her to any of this!

    “Why, what’s … eeew!”

    She jumps for her backpack while I grab our coats. But rather than grab it and run she’s digging into it.

    “Maddie!”

    “Just a second. Have you got a screwdriver, Auntie?”

    Why would I have a screwdriver? “Will a dime do?”

    “I guess. Give it.”

    The couple below are getting up to steam. I’ve overheard sex before; to me it’s just disturbing. Madison looks like she’s about to vomit. She pulls out the Sleepwalker Device, finds a screw on the inside of the headband and cranks it around three-quarters of a turn. Then she rams the thing onto her head and breathes a sigh of relief.

    When we make it to the car I relax a bit. Distance and the blizzard have cut back on the emotions I’m hearing.

    “Maddy, I thought you hated that thing. You said it dulled your mental hearing.”

    “Sometimes not hearing is a good thing, Auntie. Let’s go home.”

    Nodding, I start the car and pull out onto the highway, heading back toward Mom’s.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Very enjoyable read Tim. I liked the connection and feelings between Maddy and her aunt. Boy it really turned creepy when the thoughts of love-making rose from the floor. Me things Maddy and her aunt ought to head for high ground before they both get in trouble. I especially enjoyed the description of the triangle of snow from the french doors.

      You might want to pick this story up from where you left off and run with it. It’s a perfect start for a novella or book.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks for the compliments, Kerry.

        I’ve been seeing a lot of those little triangles this winter, mostly because we’ve had so much wind-driven snow. And yet this weekend it’s supposed to be +10 (that’s 50°F). Not that I mind, but I kind of miss seasons.

        If I did run with it the result would likely be a novella, since I tend to run out of story around 20K words. It’s in the “hopeful” stack.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Good one, Observer Tim! I especially liked where you illuminate people can be on opposite sides of an issue for the right reasons. It’s easy to paint a side as ‘bad’ or ‘good’. But the strongest opposition comes from people who truly believe they are doing the right thing. You’re right – it’s easier for Madison because she hears their intentions.

      The line, “Sometimes not hearing is a good thing, Auntie,” rings with truth, too. I enjoyed the story.

      • Observer Tim says:

        Thanks, Silver Sister.

        There are a great many morally ambiguous issues in our world, and one of the fundamental parts of the human tragedy is that people of good character can come down on opposite sides of a contentious issue. I had originally written this with Sleepwalker as a drug, but a removable device resonated better.

        There have been many times in my life when I wished my senses had an on/off switch.

    • don potter says:

      The opening scene was described with such precision, I had to read on and was not disappointed.

    • agnesjack says:

      A utterly believable family moment in a fantastical world, which you always create so well, Tim.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Well done, OT. Excellent description in setting the scene. Your prose flows well due to efficient use of words, the right words to support the mood and the flow of the story.

      Interesting twist, the mind hearing. I imagine that would get old quickly.

  49. Kerry Charlton says:

    A CHANGE OF HISTORY

    ‘This house isn’t big enough,’ I thought, ‘for rambunctious twin girls of nine even if it is for one day.’

    ‘Slow down for God’s sake,” I yelled. “Would you like to hear a story?”

    “Oh yes, uncle Brian,” they answered in perfect harmony.

    The blizzard beat against my study window, my brother Bill worked in the White House and I babysat his girls today as school had closed. I wrote mysteries for a living, lots of them and Bill had received the same gift. When President Roosevelt discovered his talent, he appointed Bill a month ago as his press secretary.

    “Your Dad and I were young boys then,” I stated, “and we had a magic place we travelled to, ‘The Land Of Proper.’”

    “What was it like?” Jessica asked.

    “It was beautiful. Fairies danced in the forests, Unicorns played in the meadows and robins sang their songs of love and peace. Butterflies would land on our shoulders and tell us secrets.”

    “What did they say?” Jessica asked.

    “To mind our manners, be polite to our uncle and not raise such a ruckes in the house.”

    “Oh uncle Brian, you made that up,” Jessica said.

    Corina’s eyes flashed with excitement.

    “We have a secret about Daddy,” she said.

    “Hush Corina, we can’t tell uncle.” Jessica scolded.

    “Oh bosh, we can to. Daddy knows things that scare us,” Corina answered.

    I didn’t know how how to handle it and listened as she continued.

    “Daddy says we’re going to be invaded by another country and no one knows about it.”

    “Maybe we shouldn’t talk about this anymore,” I said.

    The twins started to cry and I pulled them to me and hugged both of them.

    “Did he say what country?”

    “I don’t remember,” Jessica said. “It’s far far away.”

    “Was it Japan?”

    ” I think so,” she answered.

    “Come on girls, I’ll get the Monopoly board and we’ll play again.”

    The afternoon went quietly enough despite my internal quandry from the girls comments. Bill’s staff car pulled in my driveway at five thirty. I waited until he had visited with the twins, then drew him into the kitchen.

    “Do you have something you want to discuss, Bill?”

    “You’ve been talking to the girls, haven’t you?”

    “You got it. What’s going on?”

    “My press conference is at ten tomorrow. I have a pass for you. Can you come?”

    “Of course, I’ll be there.”

    The press room was packed when Bill entered.

    “Good morning,” he said. The response was deafening.

    “Before I begin, I’d like to make a statement.”

    Ant errie hush descended.

    “As of this moment,” Bill said, “my resignation has been handed to the President. I would like to speak to you this morning as an American.”

    Reporters, one and all, rose to their feet.

    “Without a doubt,” Bill said, ” immense communications have been detected by the liner, S.S. Lurline in the Pacific and are believed to be Japanese in nature. All indications point toward an imminent attach on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan.”

    • Observer Tim says:

      Wonderful and atmospheric piece, Kerry. I love the way you can weave a tale into history. I thought at first you were thinking North Korea rather than Japan, which made the final reveal a pleasant surprise.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Tim. There are many different interpertations of Roosevelt’s actions before Pearl Harbor. Six Japanese aircrft carriers parked at sea within flying range of Pearl and nobody noticed? I don’t think so.

        • Observer Tim says:

          I’m familiar with some of it too. Unfortunately the rule of thumb seems to be to lift the fog of secrecy only when the mists of time have rolled in to replace it. There’s a lot we’ll likely never know about that day, except how greatly it shaped the American character.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I never would’ve thought to do a period piece. Nice. I especially liked the butterflies in the Land of Proper. Your narrator is immensely likeable, which made your story a fun read.

    • don potter says:

      The surprise attack was not a surprise to many in the nation’s capital. Wonder what we would have known if the Internet and other instant communications devices had been in play? Of course, second guessing history is a fun thing to do, and you make it interesting.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thanks Don for your comments. As the years roll by, so many people do not understand what a privilege it was to know the miracle generation. An older friend was a captain on a B24, flew 34 missioms over Germany. Shot down on the last mission. The stories he used to tell me, were amazing tales.

        He never talked much about the war but when I got him alone, he poured the stories out.

    • agnesjack says:

      Very unique idea for the government secret, Kerry. History is such a fascinating source for a story, and you use it well.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Excellent dialogue, Kerry. Establishes a warm and patient uncle.

      The historical theme, placement of the story 72 (?) years ago with so little space is well done. And the question of how much did we know and when… It seems incredible, with the enemy fleet so near, and records of cable intercepts, that people at the top were unaware of the approaching invasion.

      My father was wounded on Iwo Jima. I asked him once if he thought we had advance warning. He couldn’t begin to think that America’s leadership would connive to send their soldiers into such a horrific conflagration. That was it. He wouldn’t discuss it because, I think, he had his doubts.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Frank. You’re fortunate your father made it through Iwo. You may have already read it but if you haven’t to need to read “Flags Of Our Fathers.” The real story of Iwo is in this book.

        There’s a reason, that generation was called miracle. My own Father missed the war. He was forty and working in Washington for Roosevelt. He vounteered for the seebees and because of his civil service ranking, might have gone in as a bird colonel. But they wouldn’t ccept him at 40. Good thing, probably….. .

    • calicocat88 says:

      I fell right in step with this story :) I especially love the “fairy” tale in the middle and the way you described it–the words were magical and made me feel like I was there. I could picture the world perfectly! This is a wonderful piece that could have almost transformed history in with a fairy tale. I like the “old timey” feel to the whole thing. I enjoyed your story, as usual :) Great job!

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Calicocat. I like to write ‘old timey’ and consider that as a huge compliment. I felt very cozy writing this story althought I didn’t consider it a particularly, worthy effort.

        But when I reread it after posting, I realized the little fairy tale may have set the mood for the reveal at the end. I’m happy you enjoyed it

    • DMelde says:

      Aah Kerry, I liked this. Way to go.

    • abhijit jiwa says:

      Lovely historical piece Kerry. Enjoyed reading that.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you abhijit jiwa. I love to mix history into my stories. I’m waiting for the right prompt of a mystery to write Charlie Chan as the MC to solve the mystery. How to do it in 500 will be a supreme challange.

    • As always, Kerry, I love your settings and descriptions. The reveal at the end was awesome– made me re-read it just for fun.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Thank you Doug. My main objective in everything I write, is for the reader to have a good time and enjoy the story. To tell the truth, I read it over just to feel the ending, myself. Isn’t that bizarre?

  50. hipsterdesign says:

    “Pinkie promise you won’t tell daddy I told you!?” Andy trembled as the words murmured out his mouth, his bottom lip shaking while his eyes watered up. I grabbed him and pushed him close to me as he hugged the side of my leg. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my skin turn as white as the snow outside. I didn’t know what to say, the words were all in my head they just weren’t arranging themselves properly. How could that even be remotely possible? I mean it was always seemed suspicious how my brother served the government- the black Range Rover with black rims and tinted windows, the suit which I thought came straight from the Blues Brothers set. I even nick named him ‘Dan’ because of it.
    “Is this the truth Andy?” I picked this from my brain amongst all the other questions fishing around my head.
    “I heard him talking to mummy about it this morning before they called you. He said it was because ‘one was loose’” He stopped tearing up.
    “Loose!?” I raised my voice looking around to see if she heard. “Does Jennie know?” I whispered kneeling now at his height.
    “No she was asleep.” He got serious and started acting more manly for an eight year old. She is only six. I stood up and peeked in the living room- she was playing with some Barbie dolls while the television played ‘Playschool’.
    “Listen to me very carefully Andy. Do not breathe a word of this to your sister. Pinkie promise!?” We linked pinkies before he ran to the living room to play with his sister.
    I stood straight and looked at myself again. Sweating. I could see the beads forming on my forehead before dripping down my cheek into my mouth. Salty. I walk to the kitchen cautiously before sinking my face in the sink and washing it as if it’ll cleanse me from the troubling information I’ve just heard. How could it be? I straighten before turning round and leaning on the sink edge. I need a drink. Something. I found a glass and went through his liquors to find half a bottle of red label. I down a couple before dialling Jack’s number on my cell.
    “Hello. Rich? Is that you? Kid’s alright?” he seemed flustered and rushed in his words.
    “Yeah they’re good.” I turned to look out the window into the back yard. The gardens were now covered in a blanket of whiteness.
    “Well that’s good- argh, what do I owe the pleasure of the call then?”
    “Andy-“
    “What about him.”
    “He heard you talking this morning with Amy.” Breaking a pinkie promise. I wonder what the penalty is. Death probably.
    “What did he hear?” The words were slow and affirmative
    “Enough.” The questions started bubbling up again. There are so many. I’m a volcano. Burping up words before I break down- eruption. “Where are they?”
    “Umm, I don’t think we should be having this conversation over the phone.”
    “Just tell me- where are they held?”
    “Beneath you.”
    “Excuse me?”
    “The tunnels beneath the town- they are filled with them.”
    “Are the dangerous?”
    “They have tendency towards becoming violent.” I poured another drink as I cocked the phone up between my shoulder and ear. I chug it down me quickly. “Come to airport on the outskirts of town, come now! Amy will be home soon to take care of the kids.” I was left with a dial tone and then silence. The wind whispered to me as it pushed against the window. I wonder if it’s one their voices. Voice of a creature.
    I drove like a maniac. The icy roads made me feel at a couple of times like I was going to slide right off it. I told Andy to take care of his sister. He seemed so confused like he didn’t want me to leave. “What if it comes here?” the thought that a creature in Pete’s home with the kids sent venom through my heart. I shook the thought from myself. Spat it out.
    I entered the airport car park to see my brother and group of others out on centre runway. The small regional town only needed a small airport like this. I got out to be greeted by him.
    “You shouldn’t be here, I’m going out on limb to show you this- completely confidential.” We walked and talked.
    “I want to see it.”
    “You’re one of few. Trust me on that.” We walked onto the runway in still silence. The chill of the frozen air pierced against my face. I was given curious stares before being completely disregarded as a human being by the others in the group. “Well… there it is.” Pete stated gesturing down the bottom of the runway. I turned to see.
    It was definitely human but not completely. It had arms, legs and a head but everything was distorted. The arms and legs were slightly too long for its body. It hunched over like a slave. It was bald, naked like one of those shaven cats. It was pasty white.
    “What the…“ I said in disbelief.
    It was motionless. Still.
    It then perched its head up. Like a machine it moved. Red. Red eyes. Blood red eyes. It camouflaged itself amongst the twilight sky and snowy landscape but the eyes revealed itself. They terrified me. It was definitely looking right towards me. It was around 100 yards away from us. Contained. Hopefully. I took a step back. And then I heard it. It howled like a wolf but then more like a lion but then more like a zombie? It looks at us again.
    Then charges towards us.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Several nice bits in this story. The part where he describes the howls as wolf, then lion then zombie indicates to me someone desperately trying to make sense of the incomprehensible. Your description helped me pictures the creature clearly.

      I did have a little trouble believing a father would encourage his brother to leave the kids alone (even if Mom is on her way) if there is a dangerous creature loose.

      I almost forgot, I liked the part about wondering what the punishment is for breaking a pinkie promise.

  51. AnandG says:

    I am not a good writer and English is not my native language. Tried to keep it the story good, but in the process, I might have glitches in grammar and tenses.

    A few days to Christmas and it was snowing heavily outside. People usually tend to stay inside their houses during this time, but John Derry must go to his work.

    “Leena, Angie, will not return until Christmas and I have to go to work. Would take care of kids?” John asked his sister who was there for Christmas vacation.

    Leena was busy texting on her phone. She didn’t respond to John’s question.

    “Leena!” John raised his voice this time, “I want you to take care of kids. I must leave to work”.

    “Ok”, Leena responded.

    John left home. It was a villa with a lawn surrounding, followed by boundary wall. Neighbors certainly cannot track about the things or people inside, unless they have CCTV fixed inside or use binoculars to peep. There is utter silence in the house. Kids were in their room and Leena, who is 16, was in the drawing room couched and eating grapes. She could hear the seconds of a clock, the pendulum working its harmonic motion and sounding tick tock, and the rest is the blank noise.

    Leena found it somewhat scary as if she is in a situation similar to the prelude to the horror in a horror movie. It just resembled the situation which sets horror in a horror movie or a Stephen King novel. To distract from it she went to the kids’ room. The kids, Jack and Jillian were sitting and staring blank at the window, watching the rustle of leaves of trees, though they cannot hear anything from the soundproof glass window.

    “Jack and Jill went up the hill, to fetch a pail of water…” Leena sung the rhyme, but the kids did not respond with excitement. They turned their heads to Leena, but their expressions were still blank.

    “What happened to these kids? They were not like this last time when I saw them” Leena thought.

    “You alright kids?” Leena asked casually.

    They just nodded their heads.

    “Ok, let’s get up and do something. Here are the crayons and paper. Let your imagination loose and draw whatever you like”, Leena said.

    The kids without saying a word took the crayons and paper and started drawing.

    “Ok, let’s see what you are drawing”, Leena said after sometime and took papers into her hand.

    “Wow, Jillian you drew a lady, that’s nice”

    “It’s mom”, Jillian said.

    “Great Jillian, you drew your mom”, Leena said and kissed Jillian on her cheek.

    “Let’s see what did Jack drew”, Leena said while taking out Jack’s paper.

    Leena could not understand what Jack drew.

    “What is this Jack? It looks like a closet” Leena said.

    “This is where mom is.” Jack said.

    “What? Wild, but terrible imagination. Why would your mom be in a closet? You can draw better things. Just get your imagination good. You can draw open sky and birds flying or…” Leena was saying but stopped when Jack started moving out of the place.

    “Jack, Jack, wait…I did not mean to hurt your feelings”, Leena said.

    “Come with me and Jill” Jack held Leena’s hand and walked.

    “Where are you taking me Jack?” worried Leena questioned.

    “Dad got a serious work these days. He is not speaking to us much and he stays in his room for hours together” Jillian, who was youngest of both, said.

    “I understand dear, he is a scientist and he must work like that to get his research completed.” Leena said.

    “This is dad’s room”, Jack said.

    “I know”, Leena said.

    Jack then climbed the ladder and went up.

    “Climb up aunt”, Jack said.

    When Leena went up, she did not know that there was a secret that John kept from her. He was working from home, not on official research but altogether a different one. Leena saw the papers of thesis that John was writing all the days. There was an artificial code that can be passed into the genome code of a human and provide it with dark powers. But the record of results showed that he failed to do so and something dark and ugly had happened. The human turned to a grotesque creature and died instantly.

    Jack went near a closet and opened it and said, “Aunt Leena, here is mom”

    Leena was utterly shocked.

    The next thing on the paper was a list of persons who were going to be the goats of John’s work. And they were his kids and Leena herself.

    Leena quickly packed bags, took the kids and left the home permanently and she never wanted to face or talk to her brother again.

    “Science is good, but the people may turn it bad. Sometimes messing up with Mother Nature can cost greatly. Greed for sophistication and reputation takes man to great heights, but it’s the man that can turn it into good or bad. The mind is the game player. My brother, with immense knowledge, chose to be on the bad side and he lost his wife, yet he did not remorse and wanted his kids and sister to be his subject. That’s why he suffered.” Leena wrote in her diary.

    Well, last thing Leena did was she called up 911 and informed of John’s doings and he was arrested.

  52. PeterW says:

    He had a Clydesdale’s of a penis: really massive, thick as a prc tubing, powerful, monstrous etc. etc. My brother did, does. He didn’t mind showing it off, especially in his younger years. I saw it all the time at home. It was such an abnormality: everyone was both drawn to it and repulsed by it. Even the guys in the locker room at football during high-school. He would just let it swing. Toss it around just about everywhere with any kind of female: virginal and sixteen (my prom date), the entire cheerleading team and even the 40-something mom of one of his girlfriends. That’s my older brother, and from what I heard, a huge penis is not something to complain about; more like cherish.

    He is forty-five now. He does important government work. He still plays the field with that stallion of his. Problem is, his ways and cock have wrecked 2 marriages now, so when his kids can’t go to school, he calls his me, who works at home as a software consultant. Can you imagine, we still live that close by.

    It was a snowday and he pulled up in his Lexus SUV, headset on, voice mumbling from it, and his two kids jumped out with their backpacks w/o saying bye, and he gave me a nod before pulling off and disappearing into the greyness of the city-scape filled aerially with morning snow. I stood in the doorway of the Boston brownstone and the kids (no coats) dashed up the stairs and inside.

    I went back to the kitchen and the coffee and my wife.

    “You can take care of all the kids?” she said.

    “Yeah. Careful on the roads,” I said.

    “Of course, honey.” Then she handed me the baby, ours, our only, little Sophie. Then my wife was off to downtown on I80, Boston Medical, surgical unit, anesthesia.

    I rocked baby Sophie and she burbled, and soon the younger of his kids, Kenzie, 12, was there, fawning over the baby, all excitement and coos and eager eyes.

    “She so cute, isn’t she, Uncle Tom?”
    “Yeah, she is beautiful.”
    “Can I hold her?”
    “Okay, careful Kenzie.”
    “Oh baby, oh baby,” patting the back—onesied and pink.
    “What’s your brother doing?”
    “Umm. He got his laptop up already. His video games, I think.”

    Kenzie would certainly be as pretty as her mother. She already had that sense of entitlement. She already carried herself as if she was beautiful, though she was skinny and short and only 12. She even had the smile: “Baby Sophie, we are gonna have such a fun day…aren’t we, sweetie, aren’t we,” and my daughter gurgle and giggled. Then it seemed all of Kenzie buzzed. “Oh uncle, take Sophie,” and she reached into the pocket of her too-tight jeans, brushed back her straightened blonde hair (not from my side of the family) and pulled out an enormous phone. Her little fingers flew across its screen… “Can’t you believe it Tom? It’s a boy. Well, huhp, me and Sophie have a date today, he can just wait.”

    My brother has a massive penis. Mine is a little less than normal.

    I said hey to Jason, 14, dark, dark haired, from the 1st, more eastern wife. He was indeed into his video games, and not wanting to be distracted. So the day continued. I, at my computer; Jason at his computer; Kenzie with Sophie and the blocks and balls until Kenzie was bored and Sophie was tired; then me changing Sophie and Sophie falling asleep and Kenzie watching, then to her phone and its endless entertainments, connections, interactions, and sleepy Sophie to her crib, and me at arm’s length to both girls, back at the computer, and business. Then at 1p making everyone grilled cheese in the kitchen, Kenzie helping and setting the table, and Jason coming in, and indulging in a small bit of conversations about school and the soccer team, and even then, Jason, helping feed Sophie baby mish (smiling too)until Kenzie begged her brother to let her give Sophie food. Then Sophie back to crib, Kenzie back to her phone, Jason back to his computer, me back to computer and the day wearing from grey to winter darkness; and the snow softening and wind growing weary and me, seeing that it was already 5.30p getting up to tell the kids there dad will be back soon.

    I asked Kenzie where Jason is… and she gave me an upturned nose: “He is being a nasty boy. Boys are so nasty.”

    He was in the guest room, at the desk, back to the door, earphones in. He was watching porn, high-def, full-screen. It was a close-up shot of the genital region; then the camera ran up the body of the girl, blouse pulled above her hips, below her bobbing breasts, to her face, twisted in agony, twisted in divine pleasure. And he guy was just a body, continuously thrusting. The girl though, she was young and fresh and smoothed-skinned: getting torn apart, ram-rodded out of her mind, and Adam had his hands down his pants and his eyes were transfixed. The girl arched, moaning high, in the exquisiteness orgasm. As her mouth formed the scream, suddenly the penis was instantly recognizable. I would’ve said something, but I was too, transfixed, aroused. Then the cock-thruster’s face came into view. My brother. Jason’s dad.

    Jason jerked away; his right hand flew out from his pants. But then he turned back to the screen—peering into infinity, destiny, heredity? Then his hand began to sneak back down. His mouth nearly gasped, surprised (?) and he was looked—eyes heavenly; mouth agape, drool ready— into his father’s grimaced face …was he, Jason, somehow, proud? No, no, no, he didn’t recognize, he didn’t recognized the sexually twisted, groaning parental face… he didn’t…

    I knocked on the door, as if I was just entering. Jason hit the off-key manically. I fake-entered. I felt there should’ve been a moment between us, but he ripped out the earphones and glared at me, and said, “What???”

    I said softly, “Your dad is coming. He will be here soon.”

    A sick thought entered my head… Adam’s penis… how big…

    Their dad, my brother, turned out to be late at his downtown office. We put Kenzie and Adam on a cab. It was normal, and the night was clean… no snow, but an empty sky, pocked with stars and dulled by city lights.
    ………………………………….
    Later that night, long after Sophie had fallen asleep, soon after my wife dropped off, I searched for porno sites using the word ‘secretary+big dick ,’ both words that I had seen from the guest-room doorway that day. I found the girl. I recognized the face though it wasn’t agonized. The site was called “Work Fuck Live:—Horny, sexy girls, Lucky-ass guys.” Her name was Jade Lawrence-Clide. She was a “professional” porn star. It said she usually posed fictionally as a secretary or a dancer or a mentally-disabled nymphomaniac. I looked through her archives. I found it right away: the top one.

    It was called “Snow-Day Fuck.” The notes had said: “this guy was charming and smooth, and even though he was probably in his late fifties, he had an enormous cock and it was awesome…a must watch… I came almost six times in less than 15 mins.” The ‘fuck’ had been live. Adam had been watching it live. Was I tempted to watch it again………

    I am not a stranger to my brother’s penis. It is huge. It is a fucking fire-hose, the big juicy, a Great Dane, a dildo sized much larger than ‘African American,’ a Clydesdale, the Statue of Liberty thick, masculine, a shaved Wooly Mammoth, a Matt Damon, the pulsing Grizzly-Giant Sequoia singled limbed, the entire state of California thrusting, the penultimate cock (only God’s bigger), the hymen-ripper, pussy-shredder, vag-decimator, the cunt-eviscerator, the sperm-rocket, the leaking, drooling, maststiffed, sewage pipe, gusher, splasher, spurger, a storm-surge-explosion over a New Orleans levee…

    But the rest of my brother’s body was…. Old.

    That snow-day, as I watched the kids leave, I felt guilty, and I wanted to tell them…well, their dad had a large penis. But does it really matter… size……….

    • Observer Tim says:

      “Um, yeah,” he said, shifting uncomfortably. A bit of the MC’s penis envy is showing. It’s a gripping story, PeterW.

      This is one seriously disturbed family, but they do seem to be holding it together after a fashion.

      • Kerry Charlton says:

        Within your romp PeterW, you left several clues as to your theme of this story.
        First, “In the doorway of the Brownstone and the kids [no coats] dashed up…..
        Second, “Can I hold her? Okay, careful Kenzie.”
        Third, “No, No, No, he didn’t recognize…..parental face.”
        Fourth, ” I said softly, “Your Dad is coming home……..”

        The MC’s just an old mush-pot that cares a lot about his own child as well as his neice and nephew.

    • DMelde says:

      and when he peed, he peed like a German built race horse…
      (sorry, first thing that came to mind when I read this.)

  53. lovelauren says:

    It was so good to see my darling niece and nephew again. I had missed them so much over the last few months. It had been a few months since my brother and I had traveled to see one another due to the cold weather. My husband and I were loading up the car with our 3 boys, getting ready to go to my brother’s house to babysit while Nathaniel went to tend to some important work business. It was a snow day but being teachers, my husband and I were off of work and subsequently available to babysit my brother’s kids.
    Upon arriving at their house, we were met with kisses and hugs from the small children who were growing quickly with each passing week! It was such a treat to be able to spend the evening with them. I chatted with my brother for a few moments while Mark unloaded the car. He ushered the children out of the high step of the minivan and directed them up the steep hill of Nathaniel’s front yard. The boys struggled to get to the top of the hill before each other, no one wants to be the rotten egg, you see.
    Nathaniel filled me in on the kids’ schedule; bedtime and books, etc. He was in a rush so as not to be late to an important meeting with a handful of other bigshot wise guys, It’s a pissing contest with these characters. They always have some highly classified files that pertain to the demise of many people, were they to fall into the wrong hands. He patted me on the arm and brushed past me, making eye contact with Mark before reaching for the front door handle and turning it swiftly as he gave it a mighty pull. Cold winter air swooshed inside and I hurriedly attempted to close it
    , keeping the bitter, brutal frigid air out.
    We all settled in to the living room. We laid blankets on the floor and turned on the tv. There was popcorn in a kettle on the stove and zesty seasoning alla round. We were having a seamlessly perfect evening. Rosemary and Julk started making faces at me. They began to call me Maryann and told me to put my clothes back on. I had my clothes on, you see! It was preposterous that these young children would be saying such a thing. Maryann began to cry as she hasteningly insisted I put my clothes back on. Julk walked slowly behind me and told me that Rosemary was upset that Daddy had hurt the last babysitter. He made her take all of her clothes off before he sliced her to pieces. I jumped up and almost threw Rosemary to the floor in horror. Julk was closing in on me and told me that Daddy’s boss made him do it. Daddy’s boss needed a specimen for the high class investigation (he pronounced it “in-fest-ick-ation).
    Somehow, hours had passed. I heard keys jingling at the door. Mark entered the living room just then, holding two large bowls full of popcorn.
    Nathaniel finally got the latch open, and walked into the house, glancing with a knowing look at Rosemary and noticing her quivering lip. “You little wench. Don’t you realize how important this is? Don’t you know what you’ve just cost me, our family?”
    I tried to get up from where I was sitting on the floor, I wanted to motion to Mark that we had to leave, Please, please, look at me, I begged him in my mind. Please gather the kids, we have got to get out of here, I pleaded in my head, hoping somehow he could hear me. Nathaniel took a step towards me, and another, reaching into breast pocket of his left side and drawing a pistol. I opened my mouth to speak…. BANG…

  54. bilbobaggins321 says:

    Okay, is the title purposefully misspelled or not?

    • PeterW says:

      No… Brian A Klems makes at least 3 digit figures, has 6 or 7 proof-readers, and is a professional writer, a PROFESSIONAL…

      So if secret is spelled secert, then it is certainly not a mistake.

      It absolutely means that “secert” is an allusion to some past text that you obviously haven’t fucking read… and even if you have read it, you clearly don’t understand it… THIS is an allusion to a master by master…mother-fucker… so maybe you just need to get an education and shut-up and try to fucking understand it…duhhhh…

      #dumbpeoplewhohaventreadnothingandarebitchesforbeingalliterateandquestiongreatwriterswhoarethegreatwritersofourgenerationssuchasBrianAKlemsandshouldiefornotunderstandingtheirgreatness………………..noob!!!

    • Observer Tim says:

      I’m guessing the title was put on in haste; I make those kinds of typos too, though usually not two in so short a space.

      Of course, if you took “Borther” and “Secert” at face value, it would probably make for a hilarious hillbilly take on the prompt …

    • Observer Tim says:

      And now they’ve gone and fixed it! Aw shucks, we never get to have any fun…

  55. ilovecupcakes says:

    Ugh- babysitting was one of the things I wasn’t expecting to do. I guess babysitting Jenny and Julia, my brother’s two 6-month old twin daughters wasn’t so bad after all. I unlocked the front door and went in. There was a note on the fridge listing emergency contacts, foods to feed the two girls, and when to put them to sleep. I climbed up the stairs and peeked into the girls’ room. Both were sleeping soundly. Curious, I started to explore the house. I started at the basement. It was divided into 3 rooms. Naturally, i ventured into the most mysterious of the three. Yanking open a closet door, I peered inside and stepped in. It was unusually large for a closet. I fumbled my hand around the wall until I flipped a switch. The room glowed a fluorescent eerie yellow. I was disturbed to hear the loud screeches of hawks trapped in large cages dangling from the ceiling.
    I was horrified, stunned to the core. Wandering in a daze to the office table in the back, I saw a daunting sketch of something that looked like a half- human, half- bird. I immediately thought “sirens”. I was just SO surprised. Scientists around the world had sent plans of creating bird mutants and we’re sending plans to the governments. But why? What was the point? I had to find out.

  56. calicocat88 says:

    The wrongness crept over her skin like frozen eluding ants. Shane was dragging the cat by its tail—he kept insisting that “Daddy has a secret hideout” and that’s where Carmine had left his cat food. Josie watched her nephew struggle with the yowling cat with a kind of odd detachment. Only her brother was sick enough to name a cat “Carmine.”

    “Let him go,” she took Shane by the elbow and stood him upright. By then the wrongness was pounding at her temples. “What do you mean Daddy’s hideout? He made you a sheet fort or something?”

    Shane had her brother’s icy grey eyes. They bore into her forehead like shards of slate. “I didn’t make it up. I know you think I did, but you’re wrong.”

    “Okay,” Josie knelt to his level with her hands balancing on her knees. She pushed back the pin-straight black bangs from Shane’s face. “I believe you, but you’re going to have to show me.”

    No, it’s didn’t make her any different, any less manipulative than her brother tricking a child. Josie glanced up at the ceiling. She had brought her sister’s daughter, Zoe, with her since snow was packed along the highways like glaciers. She couldn’t leave her to freeze to death at the apartment. Josie was given custody of the seven year old before she had even made it to college. Not that she had the choice to go. Everything was quiet upstairs; Zoe was probably absorbed in her drawing.

    “It’s just right here,” Shane pointed at the wall covering the huge staircase. There was an air vent on the floor and Shane squeezed his tiny hand through the openings, hitting a switch. There was a groan and then the sound of thick boards rubbing together as a square indention the size of a closet door appeared in the wall. “Do you believe me now?”

    Josie tried to hide the shock from bulging out her eyes. “I don’t know…”

    Part of her knew her brother was up to something. Nobody works for the government and doesn’t have something to hide. Medical research was the most dangerously cryptic area of government study and her brother was a master in his art, if not obsessive.

    Shane sighed dramatically, kicking aside a mewing Carmine, and shoved through the door.

    There weren’t any elaborate, croaking staircases or frothy spider webs leading into an opening of decay and mildew. Josie found herself standing in the middle of a beautifully clean laboratory with a small kitchen and a bathroom. There was a bed and book case off in one corner of the room and then in the middle two heavy metal lab tables holding up dozens of crystal vials of different sizes. There was another shelf that reached the ceiling and took up most of one wall that housed thousands of multicolored fluids and materials. Everything was perfectly normal and smelled of blood and sterility.

    “Okay, now what?” Shane had his chin in the air and his arms crossed over his chest. He was his father all over again and that wasn’t saying much for the future.

    Josie smiled down as kindly as she could. “I believe you. Hey, I think I hear Zoe calling you…”

    He darted out the lab faster than poor Carmine could move his tail from under Shane’s tennis shoes. If her brother showed his son the “secret lab” it couldn’t have been anything terrible, right?

    Josie slouched into one of the chairs at the modest kitchen table with her head in her hands. Maybe there was nothing wrong. Maybe the weird “off-ness” she was feeling was really about herself. Lunacy was a growing trait in her family and her two older siblings didn’t exactly dodge that bullet.

    Her stomach growled. She hadn’t eaten since the nuked egg she scarfed down for breakfast and didn’t finish because her brother had called frantic for somebody to watch Shane. Apparently, his wife was “taking a break” somewhere in the country. The only thing they had to eat in the house was nuts, berries, and meat. They were those kind of people. Josie slit her eyes over at the fridge. Her brother was addicted to sugar–he had been his whole life. There was bound to be something decently edible he kept in the lab.

    Josie leaned against the fridge door and scanned the contents. Milk, yogurt, cheese—snickers! She reached in to grab the candy bar and accidentally knocked over a white container spilling its contents all over the beige cement floor. She stared at the floor and the dark red fluid filling the cracks and running over her boots.

    “Oh…God—“ Suddenly her eyes were seeing everything she had missed. Shoved in the back of the fridge were iced human body parts, all severed and grotesquely angled toward her like her eyes were magnifying the gruesome scene so it could reply over and over in her head.

    She gagged, slammed the fridge door shut and dug through the drawers until she found a towel and fell to her knees scrubbing up the wasted blood from the floor. Josie now understood what her sister-in-law was doing—why she was always gone. Angelica was the only other person who knew what her husband was doing. Josie had to find her. She had to find Angelica.

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      Those final paragraphs definitely made it a whole lot creepier. I have to wonder what will happen.

      • calicocat88 says:

        I’m glad the creepy factor got in there. I’m never sure if it’s too much or not enough. These are some characters I’ve been playing with for quite some time and the prompt seemed perfect for them.

    • Kerry Charlton says:

      Your descriptive prose is the key to your story. It is so real it caught me by the collar and pushed me into the lab. And once there, your detail on the lab is awesome as are the iced body parts and the spilled blood. Me thing the body parts are what’s left of poor Angelica. Chilling response. BRRRR.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks, Kerry :) I think I’ve said it before, but I’m always concerned about getting the “picture” across. I can see it in my head, but I’m never sure if I get it down with words. Glad you got it ;)

    • PeterW says:

      If you have no ambitions to become a published writer, don’t read what follows, Ms. Calico.

      Please think of your reader.

      WtF… even after the first paragraph I have no clue which character is which…(sure this is came from a different prompt or some bs)….

      Characters need to be introduced, they can’t just appear…

      Look your writing is fine, if you remove ‘thought’ sections…and only have the ‘action’ sections, then your writing becomes much better, for instance, if you remove paragraphs 13, 14 from “…terrible, right?….to…”her stomach” you would lost nothing in the narrative.

      If you think you can put characters from other prompts into these prompts then just quit writing… Writers Digest Prompts are much too specific!!!!!! If you want to keep using characters (perfectly valid) check the prompts from pw.org, but you got to be smart enough to know that Digest Prompts are made only to be used once.

      Yes, harsh…. but true.

      • calicocat88 says:

        PeterW, I appreciate you giving the good and ugly on these prompts. Writers will not grow if everyone pats them on the back all the time. I like that I actually have the option of having a reader point out what they didn’t understand or what distracted from the story. Sometimes there needs to be harshness, but not in an insulting, childish way. Some people give their opinions and advice that way and it makes them sound ignorant even though they may know what they’re talking about. If you don’t mind me asking, have you ever gotten anything published yet? You seem very knowledgeable in the area of editing and what all readers are wanting in novels, especially what agents and editors will be looking for. I’d like to hear about your experience with it.

        • PeterW says:

          Hey, calico, I’m sorry if I seem rude. I only want the best for you and sometimes I just get carried away when trying to write critiques.

          The reason you should switch characters is that sometimes writers can get lazy, complacent when writing with old ones. Writing with new ones gets you more involved, especially your imagination: when picturing these new characters, you pay more attention to them, you pay more attention to the details/settings/development/ as well as they why/how/ (?) the characters are there.

          Even if writing about ‘old characters’ is not an act of complacency or an adherence,’ writing about new characters forces you to image new things/settings/etc… Exercise your mind. Realize that they are a million undiscovered characters up there.

          Expansion not constriction.

          I’m not trying to hinder what you have with your characters, but you need to realize that the prompts here are force you to have a plot-based narration…. Stories need character-based narration. Continue to write about Josie, Shane, etc,

          … but use these prompts to branch out.

          This is only my suggestion, and it is not backed by any publication or teacher, but by me…
          if you disregard it, well it will probably bother me, being me.

          Mostly Calico I want to see you step out of your comfort zone… writing is all about stepping out of your comfort zone… think of the last novel that thrilled you….

          I only wish you the best of luck…

          • PeterW says:

            Hey cc you’re established characters are compelling and well written and good but the prompts here put them in situations that are unbelievable. I believe you could easily write them into a longer piece of work. I can give some better prompts for this if you’d like.

            For example: your character loses her keys. How does she react, what does she do.

            Sorry about the crassness of my posts. I get really passionate about the writing and then mess things up instead of helping people. Sort of a big problem with me

          • calicocat88 says:

            Thanks for you concern, PeterW :) If I haven’t told you before, the first time you commented on one of my stories you told me to branch out (not in those exact words, lol) and when I did I came up with a completely new and amazing world and a great set of characters. So, if you wouldn’t have said anything, I would have never discovered it. So thanks :)

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a nice piece, Calico. I loved the description and the flow of the action. The number of characters was a bit large for a story this size, but not unmanageable. I was only left with one question, and it was a weird one: Did Josie eat the Snickers?

      I think there’s not much gained from mentioning the re-use characters here, especially given how much that seems to stick under PeterW’s craw. The story is short enough that they can remain just names, and the personalities (where needed) came through well enough.

    • don potter says:

      You took awhile to get there, but the last couple of paragraphs made this a grisly tale.

    • Mittens1326 says:

      Everything about your story made me want to read more. I loved your descriptions and the details you included that gave glimpses of the family’s deeper dysfunction. The opening hooked me right away – the way Shane treated the cat throughout the story gave me chills, and the fact that his demeanor echoed his father’s was very effective in creating a mounting sense of dread.

      I didn’t have any trouble at all picking up on who was who – in fact, if you hadn’t revealed that these were pre-existing characters, I wouldn’t have guessed. I thought you did a great job painting Josie’s character – I could feel the stress of her life, the burden of caring for Zoe, her distaste for Shane (and her guilt over it). And yikes, I was afraid for her at the end.

      You’re really talented – thanks for sharing your story!

    • agnesjack says:

      I almost didn’t make it past the cat being dragged by its tale, calicocat :-(.

      BUT, you have a very interesting, creepy story here. If you will allow me to say that I think some of the back-story could be eliminated, such as the child, Zoe. In a longer story, that relationship would be developed, but in this story it is unnecessary for the plot. Since these prompts are supposed to be limited in length, it’s best to stick to one story. In this case, that would be the lead up to and discovery of the room with it’s grisly contents.

      I always enjoy the read, though, calicocat.

      • calicocat88 says:

        agnesjack, I cringed at the poor kitty too :( I’ve always observed that children just don’t know how to handle cats–it seems they all like to rough house with them. And like you said about the eliminating “Zoe paragraph” I believe it should have been 100%. It would have done perfectly fine without it and it served no purpose for this particular story. So, I was aware unfortunately, and left it in anyway. Kind of like looking in the mirror and seeing dirt all over your face but not washing it off before going out in public. It isn’t going to kill you, but it certainly makes you look yucky.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I, too, found Shane’s treatment of the cat to be a great glimpse into his character. With his cruelty to the animal, I thought, “Now there’s a future serial killer in the making.” After reading further, now I know why! Great way to set the tone.

      I also liked the part where she first comes through the door and says what it’s not – creaky staircase, cobwebs, etc. For me, calling out the preconceived notions both gave a moment’s false sense of security and an ominous foreboding.

      • calicocat88 says:

        Thanks Silver Sister :) Sometimes I try to grab at things that really bother me (cruelty to cats) and put them in stories/scenes. This was the first time I described a setting for what it wasn’t first instead of what the character was really seeing. Glad it wasn’t a total failure and happy you liked it :)

    • Damn, calicocat! This piece sent shivers up my spine. Nightmares later I guess. :)

  57. Silver Sister says:

    You’ve written realistic kids, here. Sometimes writers make their kids sound like pint sized adults. Kyle copying his brother’s shirt lifting, Harrison needling Kyle’s crying and his fumbling over his father’s word were golden – in my opinion. I enjoyed the read.

  58. Reaper says:

    Project Giant

    We have always been special.

    We’re WASPs so my younger brother Jasvit had it rough in school. At home dad was always stricter with him as well. Might be why he’s more successful than me. He had some secret government job to save the world. I switched dead end jobs often. I also look younger but am the older brother.
    I couldn’t talk my way out of watching my nephews during the snow storm. Jasvit needed to go to the lab and his wife was needed at the hospital. I was dozing on the couch when Joey and Jared started playing their game. It caught my attention because it sounded too real.

    “I’m daddy!” Jared shouted.

    “I’m daddy!” Joey shot back. “You’re one of the saccifices to the better good!”

    It might have come to blows if I hadn’t gotten in the middle of it. The boys were eager to talk about it. Daddy’s project was going to save the world but some people were going to have to die. They were telling the truth. I had to stop my brother. I felt bad about leaving the boys alone.

    I wondered why I got in so easily until I saw the tanks. My brother’s lab was filled with dozens of giant glass tubes. Twelve of them were empty. The others were filled with green liquid and… well, me. I was being stared at by dozens of clones of myself when my brother hit me from behind.

    We were brothers and our fights could get savage. He got the upper hand on me. I was pinned to the wall with his arm against my throat. I had to think fast.

    “I’m telling dad. He didn’t send you to school for this!”

    “This is dad’s idea. Once the perfect version of you is ready we will help it rule the world.”

    “You won’t get away with this.”

    “I’m not meant to.”

    We watched Jasvit snap the neck of another failure. We are not sure which will be next. I hope it’s me. I’m ready.

    Father allowed James to party until he died at twenty-five. We are cloned from his material at death. Our brother was a good son and stored the material in a freezer until he was done with school. Father and Jasvit insist that our wasted life will come to mean something. The first dozen failed.

    Jasvit is ready to give his life to allow us to bring peace to the world and prosperity to our country. Most of us forget most details of our previous lives when that one dies. I remember every death.

    The project will end with me. When I am pulled out I will flush the others and be the only option. I will be a success. After them I will visit my nephews and eliminate them. They’ve caused too much trouble. Jasvit will understand as they are not meant to survive. His family will die with him.

    Necessary sacrifices.

    I have always been special.

    • Silver Sister says:

      Nice way to bring the story full circle. It left me with a chill. Nicely done.

      • swatchcat says:

        It was good but toward the end, it got a little confusing. I sort of get the direction you were writing but the switch in perspective still let questions. Who is the final son? A clone of which one or is it at all? Sorry, just don’t know who is in the last line.

    • calicocat88 says:

      I got a little confused as well, but this is good :) Definitely set up for some furtherance here. I would love to hear more! Great job!

      • Reaper says:

        I seem to have this problem recently. I get really inspired and tend to be very wordy. So I finish a story and end up cutting about three hundred words to make it fit and lose some of the sense of the story.

        I am trying to figure out how to make that shift smoother. The perspective is changing from one clone to another and I wanted a little confusion because of that but not enough to cause questions as to which brother is speaking. Trying to figure out how to make that work.

        • Kerry Charlton says:

          A little tip I use on editing a story. While writing the story in first draft, I stop and mark the story at 100 words, continue writing and marking each hundred as I go. After 300 you need to plan the final 200 before you write.

          When you finish the first draft, words will tell you what your count is.
          The first edit should be light. Only eliminate useless words. You may find one in every sentence.

          Recount and start over. Sometimes a whole paragraph can be deleted without tearing the story apart. But the guide of each hundred will keep your word count lower. Remember just because you wrote it, doesn’t mean each word is gold. Brutal isn’t it?

          • Silver Sister says:

            The saying “Murder your darlings’ leaps to mind. If you like a particular phrase – even if you love it – you must cut it if it doesn’t serve the story. It’s a ruthless process.

            I, personally, suck at this. If you master it, tell me how. Lol.

          • PeterW says:

            absolutely do not do this……………………….

            You should not worry about the word count until your story is told…….Tell the story to the end. If doesn’t matter if the story ends up being 400 words or 15000. Do not let TRIVIAL things like word count guide your stories.

            However that is not to say that paragraphs shouldn’t be clipped out entirely; it is not to say words, phrases cannot be taken out!

            The sacred rules of thumb (not dealing w/ stupid fuking wordcounts) state something like: each sentence should progress the story, and each sentence should not be repetitive, and each sentence should tell something new and intriguing, and each sentence should be coherent and linked to the last, and each sentence should act as both plot and revelation…..

            When you write a out a story,prompt, draft, even for a Writer’s D thing, you should never ever stop, hesitate or stunt your work because of a word count. Use as many words as you need. Words are free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            And as far as I’m concerned the prompts here, to be written well, should use way over 500 words, because the prompts here contain way too many people, details, actions, to properly expressed in a measly 500.

            I like you Kelly, baby, so you gotta learn this… If it will make you listen, heed, let me say I’m not just another amateur. I’m for real… I suppose this is not provable, but every prompt I have wrote on this site has taken me less than an hour. If I edit hard, it takes a bit longer, but no prompt has been posted more than 2 hours after I started it.

            As far as I’m concerned a prompt like… “It was dark and particularly cold,” could end up anywhere between 500 and 1500 words depending on how you write.

            Fuck word-counts up the fucking ass, I hope someone bans me from this site for this shit!

            I hope this helps…yes, mostly you Kerry, cause you usually respond well to what I write, even though the only 500 word prompt was the New Years ReSos and the rest were way longer

            GLGL

            PeterW

          • thatbillguy says:

            I have to disagree with ya boy Peter…

            The fundamental purpose of the 500 word limit is to change your mindset and force you to be less wordy. Its a great exercise. If you can distill 14 words down to 4 and not lose meaning, you have accomplished something great.

            After all, some people use 1,371 words to produce a rancid sack of literary fecal, while someone like you uses 499 words to create something interesting that people can enjoy.

            Using the same word economy, you could later build this into a longer short-story or novel.

          • PeterW says:

            thatbillguy… well you counted the words in my story… okay…

            1371 words and a “rancid sack of fecal matter” (wow, thanks you are a nice guy) is clearly an attack on me. Most people who attack are insecure about themselves… not very helpful….

            The point is… why cut yourself off when you are on a roll, when you see a story infront of you… why cut yourself when you feel like the story can continue?????????????

            yeah, boi, boi, boy, I’m sure your shit is literary and you are some big-shot, and that George and Clooney is, like, very clever but really… i hope you didn’t take more then 20 min to write a story that is well…

            yoBillyBoyDude… The Twilight Saga. I could add the same lines in after my fifth paragraph or anywhere…

            I hope you realize that published pieces in magazines and books that are not flash-fiction, and that they’re are over 500 words and yes, submit your piece, I really bet it get published…

            And to the rest of the forum, I’m sorry, my piece is too long, my criticism is too harsh………………………………

          • thatbillguy says:

            Well… Pete…

            The story took about 15 minutes and it never entered any kind of revision. I would never even consider submitting my little entry for any kind of publication. That’s not what it’s for.

            This was never a contest to be published, its a challenge to create something entertaining and concise within a 500 word limit. We’re all learning here.

            If this is some attempt to get published, please submit yours and keep us posted with your success.

            Sorry if my critique seemed too harsh.

    • Observer Tim says:

      Nice story, Reaper. It took me some extra thinking to get through the end part, but it was worth it. Very imaginative.

      You asked for advice, here’s my 2 cents (which rounds to 0 in Canada, so take it for what it’s worth):

      My advice, since word count is one of the parameters of the prompt, is to do as much of your editing/cutting near the beginning as you can get away with.

      Personally, I write in waves, much like Kerry suggested, though I tend to go more by story elements than word counts. By the time I’m done I’ve gone over that first bit at least three or four times, and sometimes have to scrap it altogether so the ending works. I know others who write the story through then edit; if this works for them, great.

      If you skip or devalue the editing, you’re shortchanging yourself and your audience.

      One trick I’ve found to radically shorten a scene (especially one near the beginning) is to shift it into flashback. That way, a lot of the details of the scene can be omitted in favour of the key items you want to extract from it.

    • don potter says:

      I got confused. Maybe the three sons having names starting with the same letter added to this. Nonetheless, I liked the concept and the overall readability of your story.

    • agnesjack says:

      This was fascinating, Reaper, and, like the others, I would like to know more. It seemed very cinematic to me.

      That said, the difficulties with the word count, I think, has to do with how we are used to writing. This prompt requires a different kind of writing. For me, personally, I find it challenging to attempt to tell a story in 500 words (I don’t always make it, either). It can be done, and the practice of having to be concise has helped me a great deal with my other writing. I think of it as a snapshot, rather than a movie.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Complex treatment of a tough prompt… Good work.

  59. thatbillguy says:

    “You sure?” Thomas asked. “These two can be a handful.” My brother—the agent—says his kids are a handful. I knew my niece and nephew, but that worried me.

    Outside, the flurries were increasing. Only twenty-minutes and it was already ankle deep. The school’s preemptive strike against the weather was a good plan.

    “I got this.” I said with some degree of confidence. The beginnings of a look started to form on Thomas’ face, as Georgia and Clooney smirked and looked at one another.

    “Okay, then.” Thomas hugged his children and kissed them on their respective foreheads. They were still young enough to appreciate affection from their dad. He gave me a brotherly hug before he left. We watched him leave. His black SUV stood out against the snow.

    “Alright guys,” I said once Thomas had driven out of sight. “What do you guys want to do first?”
    Their faces lost the mischievous demeanors and turned serious. I wasn’t sure what to think. Maybe I wasn’t qualified to babysit.

    “Let’s play in the snow,” Georgia said.

    “Yeah!” Clooney agreed with a little series of jumps.

    “Get your coats!” A collective ‘yay’ from all three of us—mine only half a beat behind—filled the kitchen. The kids surged through the house to retrieve their coats from the foyer closet.

    I surged through the house—in a refined, forty-two year old way—and met them by the door, where they were whispering to one another. They stopped when I approached.

    “What’s the big secret?” I asked adding a bit of mysterious flair. It seemed lost on them.

    “Nothing, Uncle Bill.” Clooney said. Georgia’s eyes rolled.

    “Way to blow that.” She said.

    “I didn’t!” Clooney protested.

    “Alright. Out with it,” I said.

    “Daddy would be upset,” Georgia said. I considered this a moment. Maybe had Thomas let something slip. Maybe it was something bad. Maybe something really bad, considering his job. I was curious, but I decided I didn’t want to know.

    I opened the door. The yard was unprepared for the mayhem about to be unleashed. They ran and screamed and jumped and threw, altering snowy landscape in their wake.

    After a solid hour of this cold and wet, we went inside. The kids changed into dry clothes while I made a round of hot chocolates. I tried to forget the secret. Curiosity kept nagging me like a girlfriend wanting you to share feelings.

    The kids ponied up to the bar and waited for their mugs of sweet warmth.

    “Guys,” I said, “I have to know the secret.”

    They looked at each other, and at the steamy hot chocolate.

    “Daddy is transporting something. Something important.” Georgia said. She paused and took an experimental sip of the hot beverage.

    “It’s data or something…” Clooney said fishing a marshmallow from the cup with his finger.

    “Data?”

    “It’s a special release of the Twilight saga… with fourteen hours of additional footage.” Georgia said. My mind raced. What the hell has Thomas gotten himself into?

    “Get your coats. We have to stop your father!”

  60. zmiley says:

    What to do, what to do? Bored kids are no fun and my niece and nephew are no exception. They tend to resort to whining to pass the time. Jamie and Jack kept knocking my ideas of things to do. I suggested they could:

    1) Watch the snow fall
    2) Think about how cold it is outside
    3) And write a poem about it all

    But at the age of seven and five, Jamie and Jack were in no mood for quiet time. They wanted to do something exciting and as they kept reminding me, “Aunt Jane, you’re no fun”.

    “How about you draw a picture and tell me a story about it?” I finally proposed. “Is that fun enough for you guys?”

    “I guess”, came Jamie’s blah response. She couldn’t even muster enough excitement at that suggestion. What is wrong with kids nowadays, I think as I get out the crayons and paper.

    While Jamie draws a picture of what resembles a princess, Jack draws something of which I cannot discern. So I ask him about it. And I get the weirdest answer.

    “It’s daddy. He’s spiderman. He told me himself. He climbs buildings and peeks in the windows. He spyders on them.”

    Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, I think, someone’s got a wild imagination. Or a tad confused about is daddy’s job in the government.

    “Here, look at what I drew yesterday, Aunt Jane”, Jack sticks a paper so close to my face I can barely make out anything.

    I take it from his little hand and hold it a distance away and really look. It’s a whole bunch of pictures stapled together. He had drawn them on scraps of ripped paper then stapled them forming a book. Interesting pics. But even more interesting is the confidential information on the underside. It’s hand written in Russian. Huh? I’m quite fluent with Russian due to having spent a few years there way back. So I interpreted what was written and noticed it was in code. Red flags went up.

    “Can I take this home with me, Jack? I want to show Uncle Tom what you drew.” I ask him and he seems so flattered I almost feel guilty for deceiving him.

    That night I spend hours and hours researching different types of codes and finally get a hit. I almost wish I left good enough alone for I have revealed the US government’s confidential information coded and sent to Russia.

  61. Amyithist says:

    I just realized I used Ted at one point… His name is Tom dangit! LOL Sorry. :(

  62. Amyithist says:

    I stared at my nephew for a moment, trying to determine whether or not he was being truthful. His big blue eyes were wide and penetrating, as if he was trying to plant his thoughts into my head. “It’s real, Uncle Wayne. It’s really happening.”
    I cocked my eyebrow at him. “When?”
    His eyes sifted over to my niece, who was shaking her head fiercely. “We aren’t supposed to know,” she hissed. “We aren’t even supposed to tell anyone!”
    I frowned and crossed over to the PC sitting on my brother’s desk. I typed a few words and BINGO the screen opened up to his personal desktop. Sarah’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
    “How did you do that,” she demanded, scooting off of the bay window’s bench. She sidled up to me and glared at me from under long lashes.
    I grinned at her. “He’s my brother,” I replied. “Nobody knows him better than me.”
    She folded her arms over her chest, a deep frown embedded on her little face. I scanned an email with the subject line: Operation Welcome Home. I clicked it open and began to read. I felt my pulse racing as I read through. I turned to Jason. “This is happening tonight,” I asked. My voice was high and tight. Clearing my throat, I asked the question again.
    Jason looked up at his sister again. I wheeled myself in between them, blocking his view. “Jason, it’s very important that you tell me when this is supposed to happen.”
    He lowered his eyes to the floor. “Tonight at six pm,” he murmured. “Daddy told us to get to the basement so we’re all safe.”
    I felt my body trembling. “What was supposed to happen to everyone else,” I asked. My mind flashed to my wife and daughter back at home. They would have no idea…
    Jason was sobbing as he replied, “It’s supposed to be a peaceful meeting,” he cried. “Nothing is supposed to go wrong!”
    I dashed past the little boy and ran to the kitchen. My eyes darted down to my watch. 4:45 pm. I lifted the receiver and dialed my home number. After the third ring, my wife answered. “Grace, I need you to get Lilly and bring her to the house,” I demanded. “Don’t ask questions just get here now!”
    Before Grace could say anything, I slammed the phone down and turned back to my niece and nephew. Sarah was coddling Jason. Both of them looked as scared as I felt. I approached them, opening my arms. “It’s going to be okay,” I soothed.
    After ten minutes, Grace arrived with Lilly. She looked frazzled and scared as she stepped into the foyer, clutching our daughter to her chest. “What’s going on,” she asked urgently. “Is Tom okay?”
    I didn’t answer as I hurried up the stairs and into my brother’s room. I fished his Glock from the top drawer of his bureau and then hurried back to the living room where my wife was waiting. She looked at me, her face etched with worry. “Wayne, answer me! What’s going on?”
    “I can’t tell you,” I replied shortly. “I just need you to get to the basement with the kids and stay there!” I gripped her face in my hands and looked at her intensely. “Do you hear me?” She nodded as tears splashed down her face. I kissed her deeply before turning and running out to my car.
    The drive to Ted’s lab was frantic. I kept flicking my wrist to glance down at the digital numbers, groaning as the time crept closer and closer to 6 pm. Was he out of his ever loving mind? What did he think this was going to do? I pressed on the gas pedal and flew through the streets, praying silently that there weren’t any patrolmen out tonight.
    I finally made it to the lab after what seemed like forever. I jumped out of my car and ran to the building, tearing the door open. I’d been to the lab to visit Ted several times, but I’d never been beyond the front entry. The guard behind the desk gaped up at me with weary eyes as I approached. “I need to see Tom,” I said.
    He yawned, scratched his belly and moved with sloth-like speed toward the phone. He punched a few numbers, muttered to someone on the other line, and placed the receiver back in its hook. “He’ll be here in a sec,” he said, yawning again.
    Five minutes later, Tom appeared in the doorway. He looked wired and worried and I felt my stomach lurch at the sight of him. I wanted to hurt him. I couldn’t believe what he was doing. For what?
    “You shouldn’t be here,” he said lowly.
    “Do you know what you’re doing,” I spat. My chest heaved.
    “It’s necessary,” he replied. “We have no choice, Wayne. Things are just not going the way they should.”
    My face felt hot as I approached him, ready to kill my only brother. He held his hands up and looked over at the behemoth behind the desk. “Charlie, escort my brother out of the building, will you?”
    I pulled my gun from the waistband of my pants and pointed it at Charlie. Tom’s eyes flashed and he frowned at me. “This is going down with or without me,” he said. “You can kill me if it’ll make you feel better. But it’s happening.”
    I closed my eyes. “How many will die, Tom?”
    He smiled thinly. “About 80 percent of the population worldwide.”
    “And my family? What were you planning on doing?”
    “I was going to call Grace and have her go to my house. I wouldn’t let you or your family die,” Tom replied smoothly. Something told me he was lying. My hand trembled uncontrollably as I looked down at my watch. 5:15. I thought about shooting him right there but the look in his eye told me: He was already dead.
    I turned, ran back to my car and slid into the drivers seat. I raced back to Tom’s house. I rushed down to the basement where Grace had a movie playing for the kids.
    I held her and closed my eyes as I waited for what was about to happen. At 6:00 PM the ground began to shake and then… Nothing.

  63. Icculus89 says:

    Sorry for the grammatical and tense mistakes, everyone.

  64. Icculus89 says:

    “Unc, can we make a snow-man?” Asked one of them.

    “Nope.”

    “Unc, can we have a snow-ball fight?” Asked the other, or maybe it was the same one. A show on the biography on cats was on, and I didn’t want to miss a second.

    “Nah.”

    “Unc, can we watch cartoons.” I didn’t even merit this with a response. Apparently the Egyptians praised cats as semi-gods, which made complete sense to me, as I was still, at that point, trying to rationalize the large tattoo of the cheshire cat I had had made on my bicep. Granted, it wasn’t that hard to rationalize, as I had always loved cats. I had always loved them since recognizing my brother’s love of dogs, even before I could walk.

    “Unc, can we talk with Roger?” It was at this point that I realized that they weren’t going to stop talking until I answered them in more than one syllable – though indulging them with even a complete sentence felt fraught with danger for me. Dan and Dave, or whatever my brother’s children’s names where, would not stop once I indulged them. Like all children, they’d pounce on even an ounce of attention and never let-up. They’d ruin my whole snow-day.

    “Roger? Your dog?” I asked, trying not to excite them. I had done a really great job of avoiding any type of enthusiasm the whole day, which was impressive because they were both 5 or 6 or something, and they were both already filled to the brim with energy because of their snow-day, and because their killjoy of a father was on a Government errand.

    “Yeah!” One of them said. The other nodded in agreement

    “Sure.” This seemed harmless enough. “Just as long as your quiet. Do you promise to be quiet?”

    “Sure, but Roger has trouble keeping down his voice.” His “voice.” Kids are weird, but at least they weren’t asking me to change the channel anymore

    “Where is he?” As if sensing this question before it was even asked, Roger was already at my feet, ears pinned back, tongue drooped to the floor.

    “Can we take it out, Unc?” Both of them seemed to ask at the same time.

    “Take what out?”

    “The gag!” They both seemed to say this at the same time as well. If I wasn’t so taken aback by the realization that the dog was gagged up with what looked to be a solid metal ball between its jaws, I probably would’ve been more creeped out by the way the two boys seemed to share the same mind. Of course, I took it out. Of course, I did, because it was a conspicuously bright metal ball, that the longer I looked at it lodged between those two slobbery lips, the brighter it became. And of course I took it out, because it was par for the course for me to stumble upon my older brother’s cruelty and not only shine the light of justice upon it, but bring it to a screeching halt. So I took out the gag.

    “Yes!” screamed the dog. I heard the dog say it. I saw his lips even form it. I felt the breath of each syllable. I told myself it didn’t happen..

    “Roger!” screamed the boys.

    “Yes! I smell cheese!” The dog said.

    “There’s no cheese here, Roger!”

    “I smell cheese, and car exhaust, and urine for Walfred. Take me to the urine so I can mark my territory and kill that wretched feline, but first, take me to the cheese!”

    “There’s no cheese, Roger!” the boys gleefully yelled again.

    “What?” is all I could manage.

    “Take me to the cheese! Take me to the great metal treasure box!”

    “Do you mean the fridge. roger?”

    “To the fridge!” screamed Roger, and one of the kids jumped on his back as the great sheepdog galloped to the kitchen.

    “What?” is all I could say once again.

    “Unc, we can’t let Roger get to the Fridge! Or he’ll eat everything!” Said one of the kids again, or so I thought, but I didn’t trust anything at that point – certainly nothing my ears were registering.

    “How?”

    “Daddy!” one of them screamed. I heard my brothers foot steps in the door. From the kitchen, I heard Roger yelling, “To Walfred! Let us take revenge on that horrible beast!”

    “James?” is all I could ask my brother.

    “Wyn.” Is he all he said back, a dark glimmer in his eyes. “You weren’t supposed to see this.”

    “James – wh- what the hell is happening?”

    “The end, Wyn.” The corners of his mouth were lifting.

    “The- the end of what?”

    “Of cats.”

    It was then, sitting Indian-styled on my brother’s couch, with the snow falling slower than the speck of respect I had for my brother, that the war began.

    • Silver Sister says:

      I especially liked the part where Wyn describes a full sentence as fraught with danger. I’m not sure I’d let someone who didn’t know my kids’ names and ages watch them, but then again, sacrifices must be made when ridding the world of cats. I adore the description of the fridge. Great metal treasure box – it sure is!

    • Observer Tim says:

      Great story, Icculus. You had me chuckling.

      But what happens after the cats are taken care of? What’s next? Mailmen? Fire Hydrants? Cars? Don’t be too proud of this biological terror you’ve created, Admiral … (with apologies to Darth Vader).

  65. jamesroderick says:

    Sorry, wrong post for prompt…

  66. jamesroderick says:

    Thup…thup…thup… Becky tapped her index finger on her laptop touchpad. Thup…deleting email after email. “It’s all garbage, how heck did I get on so many email lists,” she thought to herself. “Employment Status.” Thup… she opens and reads the message from her employer.

    She hadn’t been to work in 4 weeks. No excuse, no communication from her as to why she decided to stop going. She figured who’d care? The thought of ringing up another lottery ticket, pack of cigarettes, beef jerky, canned tuna or milk just didn’t fit with her image of what her life was supposed to be. So, she stopped showing up to the Wawa.

    Becky scans the body of the email to the end, “You’re fired. Last check is in the mail.” Thup…delete. Just like that, deleted like spam.

    “Green smoothie revolution?” Becky looks at the desperately needing dusting wall mirror next to her desk. Sigh. She leans back, her stomach now has room to breathe.

    Becky opens her desk drawer, a slew of empty prescription bottles. She searches and searches, fishing for her meds. Ding. Her attention back on her monitor.

    “Everything you know is a lie.” She squints and leans forward. Thup. “Act calm as to not alert anyone, but everyone around you is not who they say they are.”

    Becky smiles, looks around her empty 300 sq ft studio apartment. Snort. Giggle. She grabs her laptop and jumps on her bed 3 feet a way. Pillows fly as her sleeping cat flees the scene. Rrrrowwww, her cat howls. “Shut up Oxford!”

    Crash. Oxford has knocked over a picture frame of Becky and her sister from the window sill. “Oxford, get away from there, we might be under surveillance.” She grabs him, looks out from her second story window. The boy selling Kit Kats for team uniforms on the corner for days sees her. She quickly draws the blinds.

    She reads more of the email. “You need to quietly get out of there and meet me at the spot where you had your first kiss. You know the place. My name is Mark.” Snort. Giggle. Snort.

    “I knew it!” she exclaimed. “I knew it!”. At that moment all the years of therapy that didn’t work have proven useless because she knew she was right. Her parents weren’t her parents. Damn Dr. Cox. Her friends weren’t her friends. This apartment, it’s not hers. Her weight, her body. “This isn’t mine either,” she says as she pinches a roll from her stomach.

    Ten years, ten years of weekly meetings, one month “away at a resort.” It was all for nought for all of Becky’s suspicions were proven real.

    Mark, the name she remembers…the orderly from the resort. “How did he find me?” Must be my blog she thought. “He must have found my blog.” In the address bar Becky types “IllusoryDays.blogger.com” She searches her posts and hones in on a cryptic comment left months ago on her post ‘The Mailman Reads Your Mail.’ Comment reads, “You’re closer than you think – M.”

  67. peetaweet says:

    Some errors with the tense, sorry.

  68. peetaweet says:

    With school cancelled I agreed to watch my nephews, Harrison and Kyle. They were six and four, and calling me meant that my brother was desperate. His wife Heather mentioned something about big time donor being in town for the art gallery that couldn’t be missed. They were busy people, my brother and Heather. Carter had government clearances, with top secret files and war games. I worked at a bookstore.

    Heather picked me up at the metro station and navigated the Range Rover through the snow globe conditions, dropping us off at the two-story Colonial. Inside, I ransacked my brother’s coat closet and put on a baggy ski suit that was two sizes too big for me.

    “Who wants to make a snowman?”

    We flopped around the front yard, without regard to nap times or snack times and I quickly realized that my nephews had been seriously deprived of fun.

    Inside I made soup and sandwiches.

    “This is what we used to call sick soup.”

    They both looked on with amusement.

    “What?” I ask, stirring.

    “We don’t get sick.”

    I smiled at their naivety. But when I turn around I realize that they were smiling at mine.

    “Of course you get sick.”

    They looked at each other, Kyle searching Harrison’s face for direction. Finally Harrison piped up.

    “Dad says that pretty soon, only certain people will get sick. The ones that….the ones that don’t really matter…”

    It was the hesitation in his voice that sent me reeling, a slight glitch before the kid found his footing on the shaky foundation of his father’s words. I stuttered through a response, but Harrison lifted up his Monsters Inc. t-shirt to reveal a tiny stamp sized scar under his left bicep. Kyle mimicked his brother.

    “Kyle cried when he got his.”

    I cast my eyes to the pot on the stove, where minutes ago, in another world, I’d made the tomato soup. I didn’t know what exactly my brother did within those government walls–he often hinted with a wink and a nod at some kind of patriotic solution to hunger and homelessness that I’d shrugged off as madness. But staring back at the two pair of effulgent blue eyes before me gave me a shiver.

    Ten inches of snow fell. I was marooned. After dinner, with the kids tucked away I had two glasses of wine at dinner in the den.

    “The boys have quite the imagination.” I told Carter about the shots.

    When I was finished he looked at Heather and then nodded. “Some things are going to happen, Noah. Soon. I can schedule you for a immunization or you can take your chances.”

    I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

    “Some things?”

    “Life, Noah. Illness. God’s way of cleansing the earth of the dregs. Once again, I can help you but you need stay silent.”

    He let me in on the secret. I threatened to go to the police. He exchanged glances with Heather as though this had been expected. I felt like a kitten in a box.

    “Noah, listen…”

    It was that conversation that went through my head when it all started. The weight went first, then my hair. Then my skin. By the time the networks picked up on the global plague, I lay in a hospital room with rows of beds containing the half dead. I thought back to my nephews’ eyes, steeled and conditioned and now seeing the fruits of their father’s labor.

    • bilbobaggins321 says:

      Nice. I like the mention that the soup was in “another world”. Keep up the good work.

    • Reaper says:

      I was stuck on this prompt until I read your story. That could be good or bad I suppose. I doubt you meant him to be but I found your brother sympathetic. Going to far but trying to do the right thing. Though I might swap the names. With a biblical basis Noah wins.

    • zmiley says:

      Interesting take on the prompt. although, I don’t understand: why should immunization be a secretive and selective matter?

      • swatchcat says:

        Same reason our military requires certain inoculations of our men without telling them what it’s for and if they “choose” not to, they will be discharged. Or, hmm, WWII, or a million conspiracy theories or just as peetaweet has written; “God’s way of cleansing the earth of the dregs”. I would say sicko’s way, not God.
        Nice story peetaweet.

    • thatbillguy says:

      I like this!

      The notion of the plague–in a sense– was left ambiguous; we didn’t know if it was God’s will or some god-like, apocalyptic engineering on man’s part.

      The line “…the ones that don’t really matter…” seems to point to an organization of man deciding to eliminate what was designated as the “dregs.” The fact that there is an immunization for it, also seems to support this… Unless the brother was some sort of prophet, and was tasked with determining who were, or were not dregs. The kicker is that Uncle Noah was included in the impending death, and he chose to die (Or just chose not to believe, until it was too late.) I’d almost like to see the brother’s name be Noah, and the immunization be the “ark” that saves the chosen. That’s just take on it.

      Overall, I really enjoyed it and would love to see a polished, published version.

    • Observer Tim says:

      This is a gripping story, peetaweet. I think I can see an entire novel hiding between the last two paragraphs. Either that or you’re going to have to find a new MC.

    • agnesjack says:

      That was an excellent idea for this prompt, peetaweet, and very scary because it is not all that unbelievable. Well done.

    • don potter says:

      I bought the premise. Well told story.

    • frankd1100 says:

      Scary stuff… I hope we’ll never see this but experimenting with segments of the population has occured.

      Good job with a tough (I thought) prompt.

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