Why Did You Do It?

At work, you’ve been getting a post it note on your desk every morning that says, “Why did you do it?” You’ve talked to your boss, the night cleaning crew and your co-workers. No one seems to know who is putting the note there, or why. You decide to work through the night one evening, in hopes of catching the person. Write this scene.

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252 thoughts on “Why Did You Do It?

  1. Kiah

    Why Did You Do It?
    Those five words individually have no meaning, but together they could make anyone feel guilty. Those five words, that one sentence, kept showing up on my desk, written in crayon on a pink sticky note. It has been happening for weeks, and each time I see it my heart beat picks up and I feel like I can’t breathe.
    I had asked every one of my colleagues if they had put the note there or if they knew who did. But the answer was always in the negative. No one knew who was tormenting me like this.
    Today would be a month since the first note showed up and I decided I was going to stay late to see who the culprit was. I needed to know who knew. I’d gotten through the entire work day, and now I was just waiting until the culprit came.
    When it reached 11pm, I had officially done everything I could do for work. So I sat and watched the clock.
    10 minutes… 20 minutes… 45 minutes… until finally it was midnight. I closed my eyes just wanting to rest them.
    Then there was a noise.
    I jerked up from m slouched position and glanced at the clock. 12:23 it read. I glanced around and saw her. There was no way she could be here. She was dead.
    My little sister was 5 and I was 16. I wanted to go to the town pool and my mom forced me to take my sister with me. I was annoyed; I didn’t want to hang out with the kids in the younger section. I wanted to go to the 6ft section and hang out with people my age.
    When we got there, I set up a place to put our things. I told her to go ahead into the kids section and call my name if she needed me.
    I remember I had been flirting with this guy and he was hot, but his name isn’t something I remember. I was interrupted mid-sentence when my sister came over.
    “Sissy, that boy over there keeps dunking me.” I looked over to where she pointed, and then turned back to her.
    “What am I supposed to do about it? Tell him to stop,” I said, shrugging like it was no big deal.
    “I did, but he won’t listen.”
    I shrugged again and turned my back on her. I heard her “hmph,” and walk away.
    Not even 10 minutes later there was screaming and the life guard was jumping into the pool. I eyed over trying to see who was stupid enough to drown in the kiddie section of the pool.
    I was expecting to see some baby the parent hadn’t held on to, or some kid playing a joke on everyone. What I wasn’t prepared to see was my sister being out of the water. I was out of the pool and at my sister’s side in less than a minute. The life guard was giving her CPR, but she wasn’t breathing. She wasn’t coming back to me.
    Pulling out of the memory, I gawked at my sister, who looked exactly the same as the day she drowned. She was in her pink one piece and was dripping wet. The smell of chlorine, sunshine and freshly cut grass could still be smelled on her.
    Her mouth opened and the first words out of it were those five words I hated. “Why did you do it?” I gulped not able to answer her. “Why did you do it? Why did you ignore me? Why did you let it happen? I was your sister; your baby sister. You were supposed to protect me. Instead, you ignored me.”
    I stared at her wide eyed unable to form words. “The last time he dunked me, I didn’t have the strength to fight back to the surface. I started breathing and drinking gulps and gulps of water, until I stopped.”
    My eyes glistened with unshed tears as I stared at her. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I should have done something. I’m sorry. I didn’t know. Please…”
    My sister gazed at me, and the last thing she said before she disappeared was, “Why did you do it?”

  2. witweaver

    Why did I do what? Not again!
    “Keshav, is this another prank of yours?” I asked my colleague.
    “What are you talking about?” he answered with his characteristic demeanour of rolling his swivel chair back lazily.
    “This!” I pointed at the note pinned on the board above my desk that read “Why did you do it?”.
    He shrugged and shook his head, sniggering contemptuously.

    My schizoid behavior had earned me much notoriety at the office. “Do you live in the office?”, “Are you crazy?” , “You are a negro!” (Well that has nothing to do with a solitary lifestyle, but mockery doesn’t stay in the confines of its original subject, does it?) and all that jazz were comments I shook away like a man enjoying a peaceful nap would shoo away flies – disturbed but not bothered.
    But – and there is always a thorny but in the butt of hope – this, this note was different. Different how? Different creepy. This note had been greeting me to a rather intrusive welcome for days. How many – I didn’t count but it had to be more than 11 days.

    The first 2-3 days, I quietly threw away the note, thinking it must be somebody’s juvenile attempt to poke me. I did not wish to feed their amusement by so much as asking anybody about it. Ignoring it was the best way to disappoint them. Why would somebody pin this note, this same note on my desk everyday. Whoever had the answer was not going to just give it to me. I had to extract it, inconspicuously. I decided to stay in the office for the night.

    After fidgeting restlessly in anticipation of coming face to face with my adversary at night, I moved to hide in my manager’s cabin, as it was the only room that offered a perfect view of my cubicle. The time was 8 ‘o’ clock and everybody had retired for the day. Perfect, I thought. I knew, somewhere very close by, that is exactly what my adversary must also be thinking. Only, I couldn’t have guessed why.

    The wait was tiring, just as I had expected. I patiently gulped down my 9th cup of coffee. I greeted the red sun with eyes red from having stared at blackness for the last 10 hours. I gave up and went back home to catch an hour’s sleep. I was too tired to be scared. The freak must have taken a day off, I sighed hopefully.

    When I returned at 8 ‘o’ clock, a few fire police officers were chatting leisurely about a small fire they had just finished dousing. The fire didn’t seem so small to me when I saw my manager standing outside his burnt office. The walls were black, the files had turned to ash and the computer was just a piece of electronic junk. He dashed towards me the moment he saw me and gripped my arm hard. He darted his eyes, burning red, into mine and spoke through gritted teeth.

    “Why did you do it?”

    And that’s when it struck me.

  3. snuzcook

    I toss my jacket toward the hook on the wall above the trash can. When it stays, I know it will be a good day. When it falls into the can, I know my day will suck. Today will not be my best day.

    On my desk is another of those annoying yellow Post-it notes. “WHY DID YOU DO IT?” is printed across it in black ink. I pick it up and turn to address the other cubicles in my area. “All right, this has been going on long enough.” A few people ‘prairie dog’ and curiously look my direction. “Who’s putting these notes on my desk?” The heads disappear, uninterested.

    Marilyn walks by, passing out Monday reminders. “Hey, Marilyn. Can you tell whose handwriting this is?” I hold up the note like a miniature sign. She shakes her head. “Forget it.”

    “No, really, it’s bugging me.”

    “You’ve got other things to worry about. Mr. Harris wants your report for the meeting tomorrow morning, third item on the agenda.” She pushes the memo toward me and walks away. I take the mug from my desk to the break room to fuel up.

    It is late by the time I finish preparing for the next day’s meeting. There is only a handful of people still working on the floor. I realize this may be my chance to discover who has been leaving those notes.
    I make a conspicuous show of getting up and going to the break room for coffee. Once there, I duck behind the doorway and peek back toward my desk. I see a familiar figure enter my cubicle. I decide to confront my visitor.

    “Uh, Doris,” I begin, making sure she has heard me. “What are you doing?” Doris is the company librarian. It is an honorary title she has held since she retired some fifteen years ago, but refused to just stay home “waiting to die.” She knows the most trivial details about who, what, where and how of the company’s operations over the past 60 years, but has a reputation for being eccentric, territorial, and capable of holding a serious grudge.

    “As you can see, I am leaving you yet ANOTHER note. I want to know why you did it.” She looks up at me, practically sneering at the coffee cup in my hand, at my confused look. She squints malevolently through her trifocals.

    “What did I do?”

    “That!” She jabs a knobby jointed finger at my coffee cup. “That is MY CUP. EVERYONE knows it is MY cup.” She is walking toward me and I am back pedaling toward the break room, holding the cup in front of me to ward her off.

    “Not ONLY did you take MY CUP from the break room two weeks ago and never returned it, but you CHIPPED it!” She takes the cup out of my hands and points to a half-moon nick out of the rim.
    “Now, young man, WHAT are you going to DO about it?”

  4. LadyPondofTardis

    I don’t know if anyone is reading this far back but this prompt snapped my years long writer’s block so here goes.

    Why did you do it? The words stare at me from the yellow paper of the post it stuck to my computer monitor. The handwriting is small, feminine, I daresay, almost meek in its strokes. Every day, as if regulated by the hands of a clock, this question is here to greet me when I sit down at my desk each morning. The language changes but the question and the hand that writes it never does. I’ve already spoken to my boss, my cube mates, even the janitors but no one knows why this question appears at my desk and my desk alone. I’ve even gone so far as to review the security tapes with HR only to find myself back at square one with no answers and more questions. Most days, I simply toss the post it in the waste basket but today, of all days, I have had enough. “That’s it!” I roar, furious that the trick has gone on this long. “I don’t care who you are. I honestly don’t care why but enough is enough. I am not someone’s plaything to be manipulated like some Goddess forsaken puppet. I am a person with feelings. This has got to stop! These notes have to stop!”
    Everyone in the office is staring at me as my words carry across a now eerily silent room and I feel a flush start to work its way up from my collar to my hairline. Normally, I don’t lose my cool in front of everyone but the strain of this question being posed to me day in and day out is wearing on my nerves. Between the persistent notes and the sensation of being watched no matter where I am, the stress is getting to me. My boss recommends that I take some time off, “to regroup,” he tells me. I know what he really means. He wants me to get my shit together or I’m out the door. The entire situation is making everyone profoundly uncomfortable.
    They have no idea how ‘uncomfortable’ it is for me. The notes are coming more frequently now. Instead of the entire question, they’re now truncated, a single word. ‘Why?’ The handwriting has gotten larger, more insistent in its questioning of me, all capitals and underlines greet me instead of the meek strokes that had been my erstwhile companion these past few weeks. They’re not just at the office anymore. They’re following me everywhere, the grocer, the post office, my doctor’s office, the little coffee shop where I get my morning latte. It’s even inscribed on the cup the barista hands me. Everywhere I look, ‘why?’
    It’s a question that shouldn’t need an answer. I know why. Why I did it. Why she died and I didn’t. Why I hid the body. Why do they keep asking me? Why?

    1. snuzcook

      You’re not the only one looking at old prompts!
      I liked your story. Nice acceleration toward the final line as the MC slides down the slippery slope of paranoia. Good and creepy visualization of the notes appearing everywhere and your MC’s panic.
      Congrats on the release from The Bock! A nice comeback.

  5. ctyi

    It has been the 14th note I have found since 28th June. No one has got any idea about who put this on my desk every day. Strange as it may seem, I was the only one to get this note in the office.

    It was Friday’s night. I finished my work one hour before. Feeling depressed, I didn’t want to go anywhere after work. Deep down I knew how stupid I was, staying at the office until 11pm tonight to avoid having arguments with my dad. I hoped that by the time I got home, he was asleep. At the same time, I would like to figure out who put these notes on my desk every morning.

    Tick Tac. Tick Tac. Tick Tac. I looked up at the clock, 9:53 pm. It was so quiet that I could only hear the ticking sound of the clock in the office. Only the light in my cubicle was on.

    What are my parents doing at home? Are they sleeping? Why do they always look down on my boyfriend? Do they really care about my feelings? Why do they ask for having more domestic expenses? I give them $10, 000 every month but they still blame me! I have sacrificed a lot for my family! How come they never appreciate what I have done for them? …

    Being alone in such a quiet office, my mind drifted back to yesterday’s argument and tears spilled over the corner of my eyes. As I was looking at the yellow post-it note, the letters swirled around in front of me and became blurred.

    ‘Why… did … you … do…it? Why … did you ….do it?’

    Suddenly, a croaky voice coming from the far end corner of the office brought my mind back to reality. The voice was so low that I wonder if it was an auditory hallucination.

    ‘Is anybody here? Who are you?’ I asked in a shaky voice.

    Feeling frightened, I stood up, looked around, walked to the other end of the office and tried to figure out where the voice was from.

    Someone tapped on my shoulder.

    ‘Amy, you scared me! Why are you here?’ I jumped, turned around.

    ‘Maggie, don’t you hear my footsteps? I have finished dinner with my friends nearby. I came back to take my mobile phone. You are still waiting for the one who gives you posit-note every morning? ’ she smiled mischievously.

    ‘Hm… no… perhaps I am too absorbed in my own thoughts. ’ I wiped my tears with tissue paper, hoping that she did not discovered I had been crying. I told her I stayed here to wait for the ‘mysterious person’.

    ‘You idiot, you look very tired. Go home early and take a rest. Stop bothering with those silly notes!’ she said with a concerned look.

    ‘You go home first. I will stay here until 11pm.’ I walked back to my desk.

    ‘Are you sure?’ she looked at me in disbelief.

    I nodded.

    As soon as she was about to leave, there was a loud cracking noise coming from our boss’s office.

    ‘What happened? It seems something has fallen down.’ I said.

    Amy and I sneaked into Mr Chan’s office to find out where the noise is from. We shone the dim light on the floor. There were two big hard cover books.

    ‘Maggie, you see! There are lots of posit-notes here! ’ Amy yelled, as she was waving a piece of note.

    I stared at the pile of post-it notes in surprise. There were more than 30 notes on his desk, each with the same beautiful handwriting, same question ‘Why did you do it?’

    ‘Do you think Mr Chan is the one who give you notes every morning?’ she gave me a quizzical look.

    ‘Is he angry with me? Why does he give me notes every day?’

    ‘Don’t worry. Maybe you ask him directly tomorrow.’

    Leaving the office at about 10:05pm, a lot of questions were racing through my mind.

    1. snuzcook

      Nice suspense! I can’t help wondering if Mr. Chan is a recipient instead of the writer of the notes. And what might the MC have discovered if she stayed to 11 pm?

  6. Lorensomething

    The morning went by in a blur like always. The alarm, the groan, the clothes, the coffee, the bus yadee yada. The days are always the same.
    “Hey Linda, you look great this morning,” Lies, always are well except on Fridays.” Frank’s conference is at 8 sharp.”

    I carry on to my cubicle and set my bag down, organize my desk quickly and situate my day. File these papers, call this person, oh and this one, flirt with Meea and Kurt, get Frank’s coffee, ugh ,ugh, ugh.
    My desk gets crammed with papers and folders, my computer has numerous tabs open, while my phone blinks religiously. It’s not bad but it’s not exactly what I wanted for myself, I could definitely do worse that’s for sure. It takes up my day, sure it makes me a bit of a pessimist but I can live with the salary. My rented home could be better furnace but it works, I don’t have time between work to stroll through ikea or enjoy the looks of it. I’m not wooing anyone so if i have a night off to bring someone home , they won’t be prompted to stay the morning. The thoughts and rants go through my head as I do my routine tour around the floor, distributing items to those who need them.


    There it was, that little sticky note that always clung to the wall facing me from my chair whenever I sat back down. Why did I do it? Why did I do what? Why, Why did you do it, sticking annoying shit in my area. I wasn’t bothered by it at first but over a length of time things get ridiculous and irritating. I’ve asked around the office, I even asked Linda thinking she found out about my insincere compliments but no. No one had any idea, or so I was led to believe about this sticky note. I’ve done some damage in my life but none that could follow me here, well who knows maybe a one night stand found me and “sticks it to me” because maybe they wanted something more. I don’t know, I don’t need this routine missed amongst my other.

    “Hey, You can’t be spacing out right now. Get to the conference room.” I look to the opening of my cubicle. Morgan. Fucking James Morgan. He’s polished and obviously higher in the ranks than me but not by much. He takes pride in the fact he can talk at conferences and I still have to just sit and take note. He’s not a suspect at all, if he had something to say to me , he would.
    “Yeah, sorry. I was about to head in, no need to be eager.” I said with a short sharp laugh. That made him just give me one lingering yet quick stare and carry on across the floor.
    I gathered my items and strutted to the room, I wouldn’t call it intimidating to be at a big table with serious discussion that lets you know what the hell you’ll be doing for the next little while but I would at the same time.

    I couldn’t even tell you what the discussion was about to be honest, today all I had on my mind the sticky note. WHY DID YOU DO IT? I don’t get why it’s bothering me so much, I mean it’s little, literally. I’m consumed by curiosity today, maybe this is some prank that someone’s pulling but either way I just want to find out the meaning behind it.

    As Frank was leaving the room he told me to transfer some files tomorrow bright and early, I don’t do much else with my life so I told him I’d stay late and do it in the evening.
    There’s always people in the office in the evening , at least 3 after midnight. I never really was one because I’m a slacker maybe who knows. As I was transferring the files I noticed a brunette who I hadn’t seen around before. She was wearing a black and grey dress, professional yet extremely flattering, her hair medium length with bangs that sat at her strong jaw. She didn’t look overly busy with what she was doing so I decided to leave my spot and make an acquaintance.

    “Could I get you anything, a coffee, a stapler, my number..?” She laughed,” i’m quite fine thanks, just finishing up.” She turned her head away from me quickly and back to her work.

    I rocked on my heels, ” Could I ask you a question, I haven’t seen you around before. Do you work nightly always or …what’s a gal like you do?” I have to say I was interested but I was also becoming obsessive about the note.
    “I’m just an assistant to Frank. Well almost” She added quietly.
    ” Oh, I see, I’m filing information for him, which I should go back to. Have a nice night.” I turned and went back to my area, I felt that she was ready to spill some information about her life to me, maybe some juicy gossip but I don’t know, I doubt she wrote it.

    I asked a few others I seen around the office but it was all “Go get some sleep” or ” I have work to do, thanks.” Which neither are helpful but I suppose it did get me off their backs. When I got home that night or morning more so, I felt different for some reason. Maybe it’s the fact I hadn’t stayed that late in a long time or because I had that sticky on my mind.

    That morning was less of a flury, I awake before the alarm, I added things to my usually bitter coffee, I had a morning smoke (what a treat) and got on the bus. Work wasn’t on my mind this moring, neither was ranting about things I hate either. The bus was full of people with tired, drained faces but there were a few who looked lively, who looked eager to go to their destination. I long to be one of them.

    “Hey Linda, You look lovely today.”
    “Why, thank you” She giggled. Why does she still giggle.

    My desk piled on the weight, I planned my routine which I already know and have known everyday to a T. Then I grabbed a sticky note, wrote down WHY DID YOU DO IT? and stuck it in front of me. I got up and left to distribute files around the floor.

  7. julianna.evans94

    It’s 9:30 PM, June the 3rd, 2013. Tonight I am staying late at work in order to find out who has been putting these notes on my desk every morning and why. Being alone in this office building should probably scare me, but it doesn’t. I welcome the night and the entrancing mysteries that will unfold with it.

    Ten little yellow post-it-notes stare at me from their resting place on my desk. The letters swirl around in beautiful calligraphy to spell out five haunting words: Why did you do it? Sighing, I spin around in my comfortable ergonomic chair that supports my back and neck perfectly. Everyone from work is long gone; clocking out at 5:30, just like every other day. I decided to stay late though; the notes are getting more annoying by the day. They are always the same font, always the same size and color, and always the same message. The thing is; I can’t think of any reason why someone would send me these notes every morning.

    I check the clock again, 12:56 AM. I must have dozed off for a little while, no sign of any note yet which I’m very happy about. Suddenly I hear a sound coming from my boss’s office. I push myself out of my chair, that isn’t feeling so comfortable anymore, and start walking towards the office, flipping lights on as I go. Usually when I walk I look at the floor the entire time, but something red in the corner of my eye encourages me to look at the walls.

    Why did you do it?

    Big red letters forming those same five words span the entire wall leading to my boss’s office. I start shaking. Surrounding the words are vibrant pictures of a young girl, laughing and playing on a playground. I recognize her instantly, her blonde hair blowing in the wind, her blue eyes sparkling. Memories flash back, one after another; all in the playground, all with the girl. I can’t remember her name, but I can remember how much fun we had. She was my best friend at that park; we would always play cops and robbers.

    “I didn’t mean to!” I yell. “It all happened so quickly! And I was only seven!” I continue walking, my hand guiding me along the wall and also holding my shaking body up.

    That day was one I will never forget. It was sunny and warm, the perfect kind of day to go to the park. She met me there, as she always did. I was adventurous though, as most seven year old boys are, and she was quite reserved. The park was split into two sections, one for younger children, and one for teenagers or adults. I was bored with the children’s park and wanted to explore, maybe play some Lewis and Clark this time. I knew she would follow me without hesitation, so when I ran away from our parents and looked back, I wasn’t surprised to see her blonde pigtails bouncing up and down behind me.

    I feel tears welling up again, I haven’t thought about that day in quite some time. I knew I shouldn’t have walked away from our parents, my mother told me not to, but I refused to listen.

    She and I went to the swings, the big kid swings. We were only there for a few minutes before I noticed the man standing against a tree. I was seven though; I didn’t think anything of it. Ten minutes went by, we were having fun running around the basketball courts. The man was still watching us. Five more minutes, we were back at the swings. Three. Two. One.

    “Watch me jump out of the swing!” I yelled as I got higher and higher from the ground. I didn’t look back at her, I just jumped. When I landed, she wasn’t there, and neither was the man watching us. I panicked and scanned the park. There she was, being carted away by that man; my best friend, gone. All I could do was stand there, mouth agape. I couldn’t even scream.

    I get to my boss’s office and see the silhouette of a woman.
    “I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” I manage to whisper.

    “Why did you do it?” She asks, her voice the sound of agony and despair. “Why did you let him take me? Why did you lead me away from my mother? Why?”

    I just stood there, eyes swollen, mouth agape. I couldn’t even scream.

    And everything went black.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Nice take on the prompt. Crispy written, internal dialogue is very realistic. Nice tension build. It leaves the reader wondering though. Is the woman his boss that he didn’t recognize or is his boss male and if so, what relationship does the woman have to his boss? I always like an ending with “And everything went black.” Looking forward to your thoughts on the next prompt.

    2. don potter

      Wrongs of the past have a way of popping up in the present. If our hero doesn’t find a way of letting this one go, the past will dictate his future. Enjoyed your story.

  8. 43pcblue

    “Why did you do it?”
    I stared at the green post it note on my desk as I drummed my fingers in utter annoyance. I’d been getting this post it for the past few mornings and I’ve talked to everyone (even my mean boss), and no one knew who it was or why he or she was placing it there. I sighed and booted up my computer in an effort to work while I figured out the mystery. A sudden spark flared from behind the computer.
    “Great,” I groaned, leaning back against my chair. Now my computer was down. I stood and walked out of my office and into the empty hallway. I made my way down four halls before coming to the water cooler. As I took out the little cup and filled it, a hand touched my shoulder. I gasped and whirled around. “Hunter!” I breathed with my fist over my heart. “Jesus Christ, you scared the living daylights out of me!”
    “Sorry,” said my overprotective brother. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
    “No big.” I finished my water and crushed the cup, tossed it in the metal trashcan. “What are you doing here?”
    “Mom told me to come check on you.”
    I rolled my eyes. “She checks on me every five minutes when she calls on desk phone. I’m fine. When is she going to realize that?”
    Hunter shrugged his shoulders. “Rose, you know how she worries. You’re her only daughter. She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
    I crossed my arms. “You’re her only son. Does she check on you like an untrustworthy delinquent?”
    “Now that was uncalled for. I’m an adult. You’re not, it’s completely different.”
    “Look, I’m only here because of some stupid note.”
    “What note?”
    “I get it ever morning. It says ‘why did you do it?’” I sighed. “I decided to camp out tonight to catch the culprit.”
    Hunter nodded. “Well, if you’re camping out, so am I.”
    “Hunter,” I began with a sigh.
    “Don’t even try it. I’m your big brother, its my job to protect you.”
    I rubbed my eyes, awakening from a deep slumber. I don’t know how long I was out, but many hours had gone by and my brother and I were still at my office, waiting for the culprit. No one came. I glanced at the wall clock. It read eleven forty-four p.m.. “Thank goodness it’s a Friday,” I mumbled.
    Sighing, I glanced at my brother who laid on the floor, out cold. I stood from my chair and nudged his side with my hand. He didn’t move. Leave it to my brother to sleep when he said he was going to be my bodyguard and catch the culprit himself while protecting me if he proved to be dangerous.
    Rolling my eyes, I walked out the office and headed toward the bathroom with my cell phone in my hand. Once there, I leaned against the wall and dialed home. My mom answered. “Hi, mom, it’s Rose.”
    “Oh!” she hollered in hysteria. “My baby! Where are you?! Where’s Hunter? You two aren’t hurt are you? Oh God please don’t—”
    I hit the end button. My mother was such a nuisance when she worried like that. Couldn’t she see that I was fifteen and an adult? Or at least halfway there? When the heck was she going to start treating me like an equal?
    Ignoring my questions, I fiddled with my cell. After checking my Facebook page, I checked the inbox for my email; nothing new was there so I signed off and shut off my phone, sliding it in my back pocket. After using the bathroom and washing my hands, I walked out. My cell, in my jeans pocket, began to vibrate. I raised a brow. “I swore I shut you off.” I said. But then again, it was a Smartphone, and those things honestly had a mind of their own.
    Pulling it out, I gasped. One the screen was a picture of a dead girl. She laid on a mattress in her own pool of blood that spilled from her slit neck. Her face was horrifying: her eyes bulged and glazed over as her mouth hung open. Her skin was extremely pale and I could see that her lips were blue. She wore a white see-through nightgown and below this picture was the words WHY DID YOU DO IT?
    On my knees, I shook Hunter violently. “Hunter!” He didn’t move. “Hunter! God damn it! Wake up!” I slapped him repeatedly. “HUNTER!” I cried frantically. “Come on, this isn’t funny anymore! Wake up!”
    “Your dear brother isn’t going to awaken child.”
    I yelped and whirled on my heel to find a man towering me. He wore a gray janitors uniform and had long dark brown hair that was in a ponytail. His eyes were a beady black and his skin was pale. He smiled evilly, teeth sharp as knifes glinting with danger.
    “Wh-who-who are you? And what did you do to Hunter?”
    The man kept smiling. “Don’t you recognize death when you see it?” he beckoned at Hunter. “You’re brother is dead.” he knelt down, eyes narrowed. “Why did you do it?”
    I shook my head slowly. “No… my brother… he isn’t dead”
    “Why did you do it?” he repeated. When I didn’t say anything, he grabbed my wrist. I bit his hand. He yelled and I shoved my foot into his chest. He fell backwards. I stood and fled down the hall.
    I had to get away. No, I had to get out of this place. I fled down so many halls and steps I made myself dizzy. Once I got to the last set of stairs that lead to the ground floor and front doors, I heard the metal door I’d fled through bang against the wall.
    The man was on my tail.
    Without thought, I clambered over the railing and let go. I fell a long way. Landing on my side extremely hard and rolling over onto my stomach. My shoulder screamed in pain, but I ignored it. On my hands and knees, I whipped my head back to see the man rushing down the stairs, his eyes narrowed into slits. My eyes wide in horror, I leapt up and ran forward. I got to the doors. Only to discover that they were locked.
    Locked. Why did they have to be locked? Of all the times.
    Glancing around, and noting that this man was straight in front me and stalking up to me fast, I spotted a flashlight. Grabbing it, I raised it, staring angrily at the man. “I have a flashlight and I’m not afraid to us it you killer!” I growled.
    The man laughed wickedly, still coming to me. “A flashlight? How effective.”
    I threw the flashlight, but the man caught it lightning fast. And with that same speed, was at my side. He grabbed my hair and I screamed. “Let me go you creep!” I screamed.
    He didn’t. he slammed me up against the doors. “Why did you do it?”
    “Do what?!” I hollered.
    He punched me in the gut and I coughed up blood. “You killed my daughter!” he yelled. “You killed her and you don’t care!”
    What? “No I—” I began wearily.
    He punched me in the gut again and I whimpered. “Shut up! Why would you do it? Why would you kill her?” his grip tightened and my hair pulled harder at my scalp. I gritted my teeth in pain. “Tell me!”
    I narrowed my eyes, glaring at this man. I didn’t even care about the post it anymore. I didn’t care if my coworkers had said that I was being silly, getting frustrated over some note. I didn’t care if my boss had threatened my job if I didn’t stop with the questions about the note. This man had killed my brother. And that was something he was going to regret doing.
    I jabbed my elbow into his neck and he released me, grabbing his neck in pain. I charged into his side. We sprawled to the floor. Me on top of him. I began to punch him all over. He spat in my face and I screamed, standing. He shoved me off and was now on top me.
    He chuckled evilly as he pulled out a knife from his pocket. I tried to get from beneath him but it was no use. He had me pinned tightly. He leaned close to my ear, hissing, “Why did you do it?”
    I felt pain at my neck.
    And a curtain of black took over.

    “Why did you do it?”
    I stared at the green post it note on my desk as I drummed my fingers in utter annoyance. I’d been getting this post it for the past few mornings and I’ve talked to everyone (even my mean boss), and no one knew who it was or why he or she was placing it there. I sighed and booted up my computer in an effort to work while I figured out the mystery. A sudden spark flared from behind the computer.
    “Great,” I groaned, leaning back against my chair. Now my computer was down. I stood and walked out of my office and into the empty hallway. I made my way down four halls before coming to the water cooler. As I took out the little cup and filled it, a hand touched my shoulder. I gasped and whirled around. “Hunter!” I breathed with my fist over my heart. “Jesus Christ, you scared the living daylights out of me!”
    “Sorry,” said my overprotective brother. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
    “No big.” I finished my water and crushed the cup, tossed it in the metal trashcan. “What are you doing here?”
    “Mom told me to come check on you.”
    I rolled my eyes. “She checks on me every five minutes when she calls on desk phone. I’m fine. When is she going to realize that?”
    Hunter shrugged his shoulders. “Rose, you know how she worries. You’re her only daughter. She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
    I crossed my arms. “You’re her only son. Does she check on you like an untrustworthy delinquent?”
    “Now that was uncalled for. I’m an adult. You’re not, it’s completely different.”
    “Look, I’m only here because of some stupid note.”
    “What note?”
    “I get it ever morning. It says ‘why did you do it?’” I sighed. “I decided to camp out tonight to catch the culprit.”
    Hunter nodded. “Well, if you’re camping out, so am I.”
    “Hunter,” I began with a sigh.
    “Don’t even try it. I’m your big brother, its my job to protect you.”
    I rubbed my eyes, awakening from a deep slumber. I don’t know how long I was out, but many hours had gone by and my brother and I were still at my office, waiting for the culprit. No one came. I glanced at the wall clock. It read eleven forty-four p.m.. “Thank goodness it’s a Friday,” I mumbled.
    Sighing, I glanced at my brother who laid on the floor, out cold. I stood from my chair and nudged his side with my hand. He didn’t move. Leave it to my brother to sleep when he said he was going to be my bodyguard and catch the culprit himself while protecting me if he proved to be dangerous.
    Rolling my eyes, I walked out the office and headed toward the bathroom with my cell phone in my hand. Once there, I leaned against the wall and dialed home. My mom answered. “Hi, mom, it’s Rose.”
    “Oh!” she hollered in hysteria. “My baby! Where are you?! Where’s Hunter? You two aren’t hurt are you? Oh God please don’t—”
    I hit the end button. My mother was such a nuisance when she worried like that. Couldn’t she see that I was fifteen and an adult? Or at least halfway there? When the heck was she going to start treating me like an equal?
    Ignoring my questions, I fiddled with my cell. After checking my Facebook page, I checked the inbox for my email; nothing new was there so I signed off and shut off my phone, sliding it in my back pocket. After using the bathroom and washing my hands, I walked out. My cell, in my jeans pocket, began to vibrate. I raised a brow. “I swore I shut you off.” I said. But then again, it was a Smartphone, and those things honestly had a mind of their own.
    Pulling it out, I gasped. One the screen was a picture of a dead girl. She laid on a mattress in her own pool of blood that spilled from her slit neck. Her face was horrifying: her eyes bulged and glazed over as her mouth hung open. Her skin was extremely pale and I could see that her lips were blue. She wore a white see-through nightgown and below this picture was the words WHY DID YOU DO IT?
    On my knees, I shook Hunter violently. “Hunter!” He didn’t move. “Hunter! God damn it! Wake up!” I slapped him repeatedly. “HUNTER!” I cried frantically. “Come on, this isn’t funny anymore! Wake up!”
    “Your dear brother isn’t going to awaken child.”
    I yelped and whirled on my heel to find a man towering me. He wore a gray janitors uniform and had long dark brown hair that was in a ponytail. His eyes were a beady black and his skin was pale. He smiled evilly, teeth sharp as knifes glinting with danger.
    “Wh-who-who are you? And what did you do to Hunter?”
    The man kept smiling. “Don’t you recognize death when you see it?” he beckoned at Hunter. “You’re brother is dead.” he knelt down, eyes narrowed. “Why did you do it?”
    I shook my head slowly. “No… my brother… he isn’t dead”
    “Why did you do it?” he repeated. When I didn’t say anything, he grabbed my wrist. I bit his hand. He yelled and I shoved my foot into his chest. He fell backwards. I stood and fled down the hall.
    I had to get away. No, I had to get out of this place. I fled down so many halls and steps I made myself dizzy. Once I got to the last set of stairs that lead to the ground floor and front doors, I heard the metal door I’d fled through bang against the wall.
    The man was on my tail.
    Without thought, I clambered over the railing and let go. I fell a long way. Landing on my side extremely hard and rolling over onto my stomach. My shoulder screamed in pain, but I ignored it. On my hands and knees, I whipped my head back to see the man rushing down the stairs, his eyes narrowed into slits. My eyes wide in horror, I leapt up and ran forward. I got to the doors. Only to discover that they were locked.
    Locked. Why did they have to be locked? Of all the times.
    Glancing around, and noting that this man was straight in front me and stalking up to me fast, I spotted a flashlight. Grabbing it, I raised it, staring angrily at the man. “I have a flashlight and I’m not afraid to us it you killer!” I growled.
    The man laughed wickedly, still coming to me. “A flashlight? How effective.”
    I threw the flashlight, but the man caught it lightning fast. And with that same speed, was at my side. He grabbed my hair and I screamed. “Let me go you creep!” I screamed.
    He didn’t. he slammed me up against the doors. “Why did you do it?”
    “Do what?!” I hollered.
    He punched me in the gut and I coughed up blood. “You killed my daughter!” he yelled. “You killed her and you don’t care!”
    What? “No I—” I began wearily.
    He punched me in the gut again and I whimpered. “Shut up! Why would you do it? Why would you kill her?” his grip tightened and my hair pulled harder at my scalp. I gritted my teeth in pain. “Tell me!”
    I narrowed my eyes, glaring at this man. I didn’t even care about the post it anymore. I didn’t care if my coworkers had said that I was being silly, getting frustrated over some note. I didn’t care if my boss had threatened my job if I didn’t stop with the questions about the note. This man had killed my brother. And that was something he was going to regret doing.
    I jabbed my elbow into his neck and he released me, grabbing his neck in pain. I charged into his side. We sprawled to the floor. Me on top of him. I began to punch him all over. He spat in my face and I screamed, standing. He shoved me off and was now on top me.
    He chuckled evilly as he pulled out a knife from his pocket. I tried to get from beneath him but it was no use. He had me pinned tightly. He leaned close to my ear, hissing, “Why did you do it?”
    I felt pain at my neck.
    And a curtain of black took over.

  9. Kerry Charlton


    [Part one is below in this prompt.]

    Brian recognized most of the news media; quite a collection for five in the morning. Charles Noble of Fox News spoke,

    “Good morning general. Do have any comments for us?”

    “Chuck, I do have something to say and Deputy Director Williams might also.”

    “Good morning everyone,” Lauren said.

    I want you to know,” Brian said, “how heartwarming your reception is this morning. We have no further comments at present.”

    Lauren and Brian entered the building. They were met at the door by a courier.

    “From the President,” he said.

    Brian read the brief message.

    “Please inform the president we’ll be there in thirty minutes,” Brian said.

    “It’s about to start,” Lauren said.

    The wo embraced in a darkened hallway, feeling no regrets in their love for each other, gathering strength from each other.

    President Dan Moriority’s pressure packed personality had labeled the Oval Office as ‘Mr. Sweat Box.’ Brian felt little pressure with dan as having been classmater at West Point together. Their meeting however, revolved to high tension.

    “With your resignation Brian, you’ve created critical political issues. I expected more from you,.” Dan said.

    “And I anticipated a loyal, dedicated leader, Mr. President,” Brian said.

    “Who in hell do you think yor are, using that language with me?”

    “An old soldier who loves his country. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about?”

    “The people love me. I’ve been good for the country.”

    “You’re delusional, inept, pompous and a disaster, Mr. President.”

    “Get out. Get out of my sight and take your whore with you.”

    Uncoiling like a cat, Brian landed a checked chop to Dan’s neck. As the President fell to his knees, Brian and Lauren left the White House to their waiting limo and traveled toward Arlington National Cemetary. Lauren lay prone in the back seat,crying silently with Brian’s arms around her.

    “You can’t take the President down by yourself. You’ll need help from the congress.”

    “There isn’t time; he’s positioned the country toward total war in the middle east. He’s working for Russia directly.”

    “Are you absolutely certain?” she asked.

    “Undeniable proof and I’m having it delivered today to Charles Noble at Fox News.”

    Sliding the privacy window back, Bill said.

    “Three Hummers are approaching at high speed behind us, general.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      {Computer cut me off in the middle}

      “Turn the limo around, raise the crash shield and drive through the middle of them. Twelve thousand pounds of titanium and eight thousand of limo; they’re not going to risk a head on,” Brian said.

      Twelve hundred horsepower under the hood, brought the limo hurtling directly toward the vehicles. Bill saw a flash from the front Hummer, anticipated a rocket launch, eased left and watched it blast by. Only three hundred feet separated the four vehicles. Brian’s limo registered ninety five on the instrument panel.

      At a hundred and twenty feet, the middle Hummer swerved left crashing into a second Hummer, causing both vehicles to vault and spin. Both crashed, exploding on contact. Bill brought the limo to a screeching halt.

      “It’s one on one boss, Bill said. What’s next?”

      “They have rockets,” Brian said. “We can’t outrun them. We’ll fight on our terms.”

      Bill turned the limo sideways and the three gathered AK’s, clips and two grenade launchers. They crouched behind the lino and waited. The remaining Hummer stopped at seventy yards. Another flash of light. Bill pushed Brian and Lauren to the dirt, covering them with his body.

      The force of the blast, sent all three flying. Bill lay dead on the ground, having absorbed the shock. Lauren and Brian struggled to their knees.

      “You okay,” Brian asked.

      “Nothing I can’t handle,” Lauren said. “What about Bill?”

      “He’s gone baby. He saved us.”

      “I know.”

      “Crawl behind the limo,”Brian said. “They think we’re dead.”

      Brian’s legs bled profusely from shrapnel and a grievous wound on his left side, soaked his coat.

      “Can you handle an AK?” he asked.

      “I remember from basic.”

      The Hummer started creeping toward the limo.

      “Wait until I launch the grenades,” he said.

      Lauren nodded.

      “Now,” Brian said.

      Lauren emptied both AK’s into the Hummer,stopping it dead. Two grenades landed under it and blew the gas tanks. Flames licked the sky. Lauren slumped to her knees. Brian held her and felt her weak pulse.

      “I didn’t know baby,” he said.

      It’s okay, did we get them?”

      “All of them.”

      “One last kiss, darling.”

      Her head slumped to his chest. He felt for a pulse. His hands cradled her face and he kissed her, tenderly.

      “One final kiss, angel”

      Brian’s wounds continued to bleed. He lay beside her, his arms holding Lauren’s body. The skies darkened for him.

      ‘Why?’ he thought……..


      1. smallster21

        Wow, you packed a lot of action in such a small space. Do Hummer’s have rockets? Lol, I’m assuming I’m missing something. I don’t know anything about cars. There is a lot of story here, so great start & I sense some interesting backstory with the whole sleazy scumbag president bit. A tragic ending 🙁 Sounds like he’s dying too. I don’t know why, maybe I’m weird, but I like when both die. I cry and it’s sad, but they will be together in Heaven or whatever comes next 🙂 Some of the last words I heard my dying great-grandfather say to great-grandma were “One last kiss”. Love that line in your story.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Thank you for your kind words, smallster. Those rockets were hand- held launchers from the side windows of the Hummer. I imagine they coould be retro-fitted to the Hummer roof.

          Dan is a sleazz-bucket president. The last word Brian says before his daath is “Country”. I’m depressed as hell after finishing this. Kerry

        1. Kerry Charlton

          That’s a nice compliment, Doug. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I went into automatic on this one, especially about the president and his miserable personality. Got carried away in the battle also. Kerry

  10. Clairon_bk

    *a bit long and possibly the start of a longer story, but it’s my first posting so all feedback welcome!*

    “No, no, you don’t understand. I didn’t do anything! My life is really boring. I am really boring!”
    “Mr. Phillips, can you explain to us again why you were in the office after hours? From what the manager told us, no one is allowed to be here after hours.”
    “But I have told you already. It is true. I was trying to find out who has been leaving notes for me.”
    Detective Marshall held the yellow post-it notes, “sticky notes” he had always called them. There were maybe a dozen of them, each with the same precise handwriting, same question, “Why did you do it?” Marshall took a look at the character in front of him and wondered what exactly the fellow was capable of. Middle aged, thin, receding hair line, black wire frames that stayed far away from fashionable and rested instead in ‘functional’ and ‘unnoticeable.’ He glanced down again to admire the writing. If only he could get his 3rd grader to try as hard. The letters looked straight out of one of those teacher-manual-thingies.
    Marshall looked back at Mr. Phillips, Stanley, Stan. Noticing things is what he got paid for, was second nature to him, and he looked at Stan’s long thin fingers, nervously entwined, plucking at real and imagined fuzzies. H wondered if Stan’s precise little fingers could write such precise little letters. He had also learned the art of silence. Great tool, that was. So he sat silently, and waited.
    Stan saw the detective looking at him, patient as forever. How was he going to explain things? He had been getting those damned notes for a couple of weeks now. Maybe more. Of course he had counted them; there were 13 – horrible number – but even in his own mind he could not bring himself to confess his obsession. He hadn’t lied, though, when he said he didn’t know where they had come from, or even more specifically, why? He was an accounting manager for a no-name firm. His main and only subordinate was the numbers he so carefully kept in order. The title of manager was a joke, but it didn’t bother Stan any. He was a loner and used to it. He got to work at precisely 8:00 every morning, and left promptly at 5:30. He had been with the company for seven years – this was a lucky number – but still did not have any friends or even real acquaintances. People were just faces, just as he was a face to them. Like the coat in the closet; always there when needed and completely unnoticed when not. But that was okay. He imagined the detective wondering the same thing he was. If he was so unnoticeable, whose attention had he drawn? He hadn’t done anything for christsake!
    “Look, Sir, like I told you,” Stan began, “I’ve been getting the notes for a couple of weeks now. I didn’t think they meant anything at first. I figured it was just a joke. Maybe a newbie in the office who didn’t know me, you know, someone having some harmless fun. I didn’t mind too much, really. It was interesting the first few times. But then when I kept getting them, I started, you know, to get a little nervous, but I didn’t say anything because, and I had to ask myself,” Stan continued nervously, “why didn’t I say anything before? And then I became convinced that whoever was leaving them knew the same thing.”
    “But you still haven’t explained why you broke into the building this evening, Mr. Phillips.”
    “Yes, well.” Stan’s hands were twisting so fervently that Marshall almost felt bad for the guy. Almost. He could tell Stan had never been in trouble with the law before. He would put down money that Mr. Phillips had never even gotten a traffic ticket.
    “I didn’t exactly break in-“ Stan looked up at the shock of his own words. He froze and stared at the big man in front of him. “I, I mean – I diidddd’nt,” he started to stutter, “I did-didn’t, exactly… I ju.. just didn’t leave. At 5:30. I..I…I attached my badge to someone’s purse as she walked by. I-I-I don’t know who it was. I just knew I needed my badge to show as having left the building!” Stan practically wailed this last part, so aghast at himself for his errant behavior.
    Marshall glanced over at one of his men who quickly flipped through the security log of employee activity. He walked over.
    “What do you have?”
    “Well, it does show that he left at 5:35 PM last night, but his records don’t match what he told us earlier. He always arrived at 6:07 AM and leaves at 6:07 PM. Every day.”
    “Thanks.” Marshall walked back over to Stan and wondered if he had a Tyler Durden on his hands, after all. He started his questioning over.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Your story line is excellent. You’re at a thousand word, approximately. This is your first post and others have written longer stories. A suggestion; Break out you doalogue so it stands alone. Paragraph when you can. No one ever complains about paragraphs being too short.

      It helps the reader flow through your story easier. You have given such a detailed pictue of Stanley [no one would call him Stan], I can picture his nervous, bony structure. Good job there.

      Welcome to the forum. We look forward to new writers and to my knowledge, no one has bar-be-cued any writers on the site, although some characters have been cooked and eaten in the stories here.

    2. smallster21

      Nice dialogue. It doesn’t seem forced, and it seems to flow nicely. However, there are a few things that don’t make sense to me. It sounds like all Stan has done is stay after work late, or break-in, so why would a detective be questioning him? Sounds like a job for the cops on call…unless a more severe crime has occurred. So, this makes me believe that something else has happened that we haven’t been told yet, so I was waiting for the big reveal at the end, which didn’t come.

      I love Chuck Palahniuk–one of my favorite authors–and I like that you wanted to play on a split personality, but I think you can punch this up a notch. Pump it up with conflict and tension. I think the story could benefit from putting in more hints in the beginning in regards to continuity errors in Stan’s explanation to show that he is either lying or–as we find out–he might have another personality. I would also show evidence of a more severe crime if a detective is going to be present. Also, the notes never seem to fit into the storyline. One more thing, if Stan is showing up at work at 6 am and leaving at 6 pm everyday, that is a 12 hours day. That is a lot of overtime racking up. I think whoever his boss is would have said something to him by now about this.

      All that said, I enjoyed your writing style. It is easy to follow along with the narrative, and I liked your ability to utilized 3rd person omniscient. I usually stick with 3rd person limited or 1st person, because I struggle with omniscient. There is always a balance needed when jumping around from head to head, so it doesn’t jar the narrative, and I think that was one of the strengths in your story–you were able to do this without throwing me off track while reading. Welcome Clairon 🙂

      1. Clairon_bk

        Thank you both so much for your comments! Kerry, just over 800 and that was with me cutting down!! Smallster, I definitely see what you are telling me. I did have a bigger crime scene in mind and with it all in my head it is good for me to hear it wasn’t quite there (visible). Again, thank you for the warm welcome and great comments!!

  11. Chuckles2013

    I can’t believe I’m missing the Big Bang Theory show for this. Silence accompanies me as I watch the last cleaning crew shut the door behind him, still perplexed about how anyone can be such a workaholic to stay at the office at such ungodly hour. Little does he know that I am perplexed too, confused about how dedicated I can be at figuring out my mysterious ‘stalker’. Perhaps the term ‘stalker’ may be a little too strong, reserved only for those who pretend they don’t use Facebook or Twitter but actually contribute several cups of coffee to the art of online ‘friendly following’. Perhaps not. I took out that note from my folder again, identical in all ways to the other ones I’ve collected. Why did whom do what? One simple question, three variables, and all targeted towards me. And the handwriting…well, I had to piece together several notes to ‘decipher’ what the author was trying to convey. Yes, I’m sure I can find several of my pre-law friends to justify my suspicions for this anonymous author. Such questions seems to be more appropriate from my stance; why did this person –
    “—do it?”

    I jumped. “Why did you do it?” I looked around, and stared into void. Luckily no background music like in the movies. I realized I was looking in the wrong direction, and turned downwards. A little girl dressed in ruggy whatever-it-is was ‘looking up’, or rather she was facing towards me to be more accurate. I waved my hand in front of her.

    “Please don’t hit me.”
    “Oh, sorry, that’s not what I meant to do—“

    “Yes, I’m blind.”
    Have I seen this girl before?

    “I’m from the orphanage in the next block.”
    Oh. “What can I do for you?”

    “Why did you do it?”
    Oh, right. Almost forgot why I’m still at work like a fool at such ungodly hour. “Uh, you’re gonna have to help me here, little miss: what did I do?”

    “Visit us. Why did you visit us every Friday night?”
    For some reason, I’m more perplexed now; am I being interrogated for a persistent, non-criminal act? “Uh, I suppose if you wish, I can stop bothering you guys every –“

    “No, no, no, please do come. I’m just wondering why you’re willing to come.”

    “Uh, well, it’s not much—“

    “My parents only visit me once a year.” Wait, I thought I was visiting an orphanage.

    “My dad’s the CEO of the company across the street, so I know the whereabouts of this neighborhood fairly well, even without sight. Even all the guards around here know me. I’ve been sent there since they found out I was born blind,”
    Wait, what century is this?
    “and I’ve always been thankful for occasional visits by strangers. Of all visitors, you’ve been the most persistent, and I’m curious why you are doing it. Sorry for the notes; I do not want to skip classes, and I can only sneak out for a bit at these times, and I didn’t want you to see me like this, but I still wanted to ask you in private.”

    “Uh, well, haha, I guess I’m just a nerd and have nothing else to do on Friday nights…I dunno, it seemed to make sense for me to pay you guys some visits; I can’t imagine it’s much, at least not monetarily.”

    “It’s the most valuable riches we can ever get.” Oh dang, she has such grown-up tone. “Yours and others’ visits have reminded me that having sight in the dark is better than being blind under light*.”

    “Well, little miss, you’ve been much more encouraging to me than I to you.“
    — end —

    *Quote from a candidate from TV show Chinese Idol.

  12. smallster21


    The hands of the clock spun so fast, Bernard wondered if there were really hands on its face. Maybe it was an illusion—another form of torment, he thought, time was taunting him. Hundreds of post-its covered the cubicle walls, slapped haphazardly upon one another. By now, Bernard understood. The color of the post-it represented the severity of the sin—from grey to red to black. Candlelight flickered around the room, illuminating the words written on each post-it—“Why did you do it?” followed by a date.

    A redhead—with cleavage spilling out of her black dress—sat on the other side of the desk waving a red slip of paper, glaring at him through her black eyes. He remembered her. It was his ex-wife’s sister, Anita.

    “Speak!” Anita growled, but the voice was not hers; it was the demon’s—a deep howl that resembled what Frankenstein might sound like if he smoked three packs a day for twenty years.

    Bernard shrugged. “I don’t see why you’re bringing this up.”

    “Adultery is a sin. Now recall every detail now, or I’ll dig my fingers into your skull again and rip the memory out.”

    Bernard touched his forehead, his fingers slipping into the hole from earlier. The blood had stopped, but his brain was still exposed; he winced when his fingers grazed its surface.

    “How is it a sin?” Bernard spat. “That fucking harlot I was married to cheated on me first. How come she ain’t down here answering for this shit?”

    “The little bitch went to church and confessed.” Black smoke shot out of the demon’s nose.

    “So, what? She didn’t fucking mean it.”

    “Doesn’t matter. The priest absolved her whether she meant it or not.”

    “That’s bullshit.”

    “I don’t make the fucking rules. Stop your damn whining…or else.” The demon’s nails grew, and it clicked them together.

    “Goddammit, all right.” Bernard slapped his head realizing what he’d just said. A new red post-it appeared on the wall. He glanced at the date. I’ve been here for 112 years already, Bernard thought.

    He finally spoke, describing how he’d flirted with Anita and invited her over one night when his wife was out. After he finished, the demon changed back into its true form. Its long, yellowing nails tapped the desktop as it regarded him through its black eyes. Its red face was marred with charred, burnt skin that was constantly flaking off onto the floor. It opened a drawer and pulled out an instrument.

    Bernard gasped, “I told you everything!”

    “You did.” The demon held the cigar cutter in one hand, clicking its fingers at Bernard with the other. “But, that is all you did. You only told me. Now give me your hand.”

    When Bernard didn’t move, the demon sprung up onto the desk, grabbed his arm and held his forearm down with its foot as it thrust his ring finger through the cigar cutter. The sharp edge sliced through his skin. The bone-crunching sound filled Bernard’s ears, and he screamed.

    The demon placed the red slip against the wall—with the severed finger on top of it—then drove a nail through the flesh and paper. “We’ll come back to that one,” the demon said. It ran its nails across the walls before plucking up a black slip and sat back down. “Now,” it held the paper in front of Bernard, “speak.”

    Bernard watched as the demon transformed into his mother. He groaned. Tears welled up in his eyes as he thought about the day he put his mother to sleep.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is so dark and demonized, it’s sensational. It’s the best post I’ve read in the five months I’ve joined the forum. I can’t say enough about it, wonderful, inventive. I’ll never look at a good-lookin-woman when she walks by me again…… Well, maybe.

          1. smallster21

            Lol, ya right Kerry. That’s what they all say. No man can resist a fake set of gravity-defying melons. I grew tired of smacking my boyfriend in the back of the head and have now accepted him and his male weaknesses…Kidding! 🙂 *holds hand out as a peace offering* Thanks for your kind comments, those were really nice things to say. You made my day!

    1. Pattypans

      Smallster, the meaning (if I got it right) didn’t click for me until I came back a bit later and reread the title. And now I have a question: Why would the devil/demon/whatever you want to call him/her care about a person’s being remorseful?

      1. smallster21

        I believe mental torture is far worse than physical. If someone doesn’t feel remorse/guilt about what they’ve done to others, how can they truly suffer. I don’t think the demon really cares whether he feels remorseful or not, but Bernard isn’t broken yet, and it’s the demon’s job to make him suffer in hell, so the demon will make him remember and recall every single sin over and over, torturing him until he starts regretting his actions. At the end, his mother immediately causes a emotional response, which is what the demon wants–mental anguish.

      2. smallster21

        And, Pattypans, as always, thanks for taking the time to read. Appreciate your comments and feedback 🙂 You did make me think again on the motives of the demon. I want to make sure they are clear, because I do like this story.

        1. Pattypans

          Smallster, thanks for answering my question. What you’re saying makes perfect sense to me, especially if the idea is for the person to feel remorse and not be able to do anything about it–not to be able to apologize, seek forgiveness of the person, try to rectify and reconcile–all that would truly be a torment. What an interesting concept to explore in a longer story, or novel! So many questions! Would God forgive someone who became sorry in Hell? Wouldn’t that be a slap in the demon’s face…in a way, with the above tactic, he’d be playing right into God’s hands, and actually helping the person in the long run, if the person did eventually feel remorse but then was able to receive God’s forgiveness….

          If you write more on this, do please let us know! And thanks again for answering.

          1. smallster21

            Thanks Pattypans 🙂 It is an idea to contemplate. I’ve struggled with my religion. I was going to become a nun after high school. Didn’t happen, and I sometimes feel like God is mad at me. I get confused. Writing helps me discover answers and see the world differently. So, here’s hoping I’m hit with an epiphany and do this story right! You’ve certainly given me some things to think about. You raised some questions I hadn’t consciously thought about.

    2. don potter

      I have stood in front of the “Gates of Hell” at the Rodin Museum in Paris. The sculpture depicts the artist’s impression of the torment of Hell. You captured in 500 words or so a glimpse of what it must be like. Great job.

    3. Tigger987

      Hmmm WOW probably isn’t very helpful as a review but this was truly very well done and a wonderful example of out of the box thinking at its best! Thinking of expanding this prompt into something more, it would make an amazing novel.

  13. JR MacBeth

    “Father Abbot, this is the third time in a fortnight! It’s clear one of the brethren has something to say, but prefers cowardly insinuation to honorable discourse.”

    “Lower your voice Brother Augustine! Give me that.”

    “What is almost worse is the wanton waste of precious parchment,” Augustine added.

    “Not to mention the costly golden ink,” said the abbot. He looked at the note. “Beautiful calligraphy. Which is why I question that it is one of our own.”

    Augustine dropped his eyes. This again. His superior would stare him down, as usual. Was it sinful to suspect a superior in such a matter? After all, the golden ink was strictly kept, and only the abbot had access to it.

    “Yes, Father. The golden ink.”

    “Why did you do it?” the abbot asked.

    “Excuse me? Father?” Augustine’s cheeks were getting warm now.

    “It’s what the note says.” The old man gave a slight shrug.

    Once again Augustine realized he was crossing the boundary between mere dislike, and sinful hatred. But why deny it? The abbot had always hated him, and the feelings, were undeniably mutual. But the man was his superior. What could he do?

    “Father, once again, I have done nothing!”

    “Lower – your – voice!” The abbot was the one who looked angry now.

    “Augustine, where is your humility, and trust in God? If you are innocent of whatever this is about, then there is no question that the truth will come out in the end. ‘For nothing is hidden that will not become evident…’”

    The young monk hung his head. This was a scripture verse he knew too well. Had he not copied it a thousand times for the abbot? He was weary of the game, but he would not let the abbot win.

    ”Of course, you are right Father. As before, I will pray for this person; for surely this game is beneath a servant of God.”

    The abbot winced slightly, setting his jaw, a small frown forming.

    “Get out. Now!”

    Augustine left the abbot going straight to the chapel. There he knelt, devoutly crossing himself, a look of anguish on his face.

    Dominus meus. Oh Lord! How can he know? It isn’t possible. But part of him felt that it was possible. Somehow.

    It had been almost four years since that calamitous night. That wonderful night! He hadn’t planned it, but it happened.

    And God forgive me, it happened again, and again.

    What had happened to Gabrielle? He didn’t know. One day, she never came again. Their sinful clandestine meetings, came to an end.

    Then one day at the market, he saw him.

    Red hair.

    It was quite rare in these parts. Augustine was the only one who had it. Then he saw her with the child. My son? But she did not see the monk. He had quickly turned, pulling his hood over his head.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I hope I was allowed a laugh or two on this. I don’t know why, but the dialogue between the two reminds me of a superior [at least he thought he was] I worked for while in college.

        I thought the dialogue was great and I agree with Pattypans.

    1. Pattypans

      JR, I forgot to mention that I thought these lines were wonderful:

      ”’Of course, you are right Father. As before, I will pray for this person; for surely this game is beneath a servant of God.’”

      “The abbot winced slightly, setting his jaw…”

      Now I have two tiny suggestions. First, there are at least a couple of unnecessary commas, and those can be distracting and interrupt the reader’s flow. (I realize that some commas are discretionary, but I’m talking about commas that in my opinion simply shouldn’t be there.)

      Second, I think these lines could benefit from a slight change: “Then one day at the market, he saw him.
      Red hair.
      It was quite rare in these parts. Augustine was the only one who had it. Then he saw her with the child.”

      One reason is the repetitiveness, “he saw him…he saw her with the child”. If in the first line, it said something along the lines of “Then….he saw a tyke” (don’t know if that word fits the time period, but you get the idea), I think it would be better. Not only to avoid repetition (which of course isn’t always necessarily to be avoided), but again to help keep the reader in the flow. Then, the last line of the section could be slightly changed to make it less repetitive.

      Please forgive me (and tell me!) if I’ve been overly nit-picky, and if making such specific suggestions is a bit over the top.

      I still love your story, and agree with the poster who praised your dialogue. You also did a fantastic job of evoking the time period in every way possible.

      1. JR MacBeth

        Thanks Patty (and everyone) for the feedback.
        I agree, a bit of a mess at the end. I also noticed the repetitiveness, after posting it. I still struggle with that paltry 500 word limit, and run out of word-count (usually) before I really finish. It’s also too easy to rush at the end, especially with the time constraints most of us face in our “real” lives.
        I sure appreciate your thoughtful input!

    2. Tigger987

      What a wonderful read. Certainly something that could be taken further where there are no limits. I can only imagine what you could do then. Loved it.

  14. codrin dreit

    A bit too long, but I couldn’t cut out any more passages without ruining completely the flow of the narrative (assuming it actually had one).

    Jard was never one to get scared. In fact, fear has always found him unbreachable and instead, if it got the chance, wiggled itself up the nervous systems of those who witnessed his unique smile. It showed a confidence which questioned his humanity and a wisdom that made it clear he’s just something else. However, there are always narrow gaps between fortitude and astuteness that are especially created to allow the entrance of novelty and puzzles in the life of any conscious being.
    One such event happened not long ago, when Jard saw the note hidden inside his working bench. For the first time he felt his smile wavering for a moment. No one can pass his security system, yet alone touch his devices, without having his hypothalamus adjusted to such extent that he would immediately be admitted, on emergency grounds, in the world of some guardian of slumber. At least until he, himself, shuts down the wave modulator protecting each of his belongings. Yet no trace of trespassing, no body on the floor, just a note with a ridiculous question.
    For one fleeting moment, he thought of asking Tovy about it. He was up all night working on his new inter-dimensional shortcuts, even though everybody knew he was just pretending to be able to see the bridges between the artificial branes. The one talent he really had was secluding the obvious. However, Jard didn’t need Tovy’s inexistent skills; his basic senses would have sufficed. So what was a fleeting thought at first, turned into a lingering one and finally into a conversation.
    ‘Tovy’, Jard started as cold as usual, silently opening the door to Tovy’s office, ‘I need access to your memory. Everything you experienced in the last 7 hours.’
    Tovy startled and scraped his right ear with a pair of wiry and improvised headphones (such unlikely mishaps can only be found in an area which has him as epicenter).
    ‘Damn it, Jard. You.. well..’ He was stumped. He didn’t hear Jard’s request, but he quickly realized he couldn’t stand up. Connecting all the wires to the space resonator, he managed to curl them around his legs, connecting him to, what he liked to call, “a contraption that distributes one’s weight quite homogeneously at low elevation” (or simply a chair, as everybody else would call it). ‘I was just listening to the background noise behind the rupture of space and I’m sure there is a pattern everyone has omitted.’ He started talking about it only to deflect Jard’s attention from his conundrum, but he quickly gained momentum. ‘I’m sure I have finally found the means to go upstairs, Jard. You know what this means?! I will be granted access to the truths inscribed on the…’
    Tovy.‘ It just wasn’t the moment for him to be dragged in such frivolous matters. Tovy was blocked in an idle state, adequate for the transfer that was quickly done by the skilled mind of Jard and his masterful use of the encephal-current calibrator. He then left him, knowing he will eventually wake up in his own trap of clumsiness with the usual panic that follows such a procedure.
    Going back to his lab, Jard immersed himself in the memories that he stole and immediately realized the true significance of Tovy’s cause of excitement. Not only was it related to his mysterious message, but to all those that would follow. Notes of despair, signs of torment, pleas for amnesty, all addressed to him, all sent from different times in the history of humanity.
    He should have thought about it more thoroughly, he should have taken into account the inevitable temptation to alter. One does not just try to invent the device that controls the segmentation of reality. One does not just allow passage through time while submitting causality to one’s will.
    And furthermore, the existence of these messages forced him to face the unveiled shape of his soul and answer the initial message with the unavoidable truth, ‘I haven’t done it, but I will nevertheless.’
    After that, fear still found it impossible to smear Jard’s composure. However, his smile has never been drawn ever since. Gods can no longer do it once they know what they are.

    1. Pattypans

      It may just be me, and I’ll admit I’m not a big science fiction buff, but this is over my head. I really don’t understand it. I don’t mean to be discouraging; and who knows? I may be the only one.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I’m not sure myself, but I believe Jard has been appointed a listening post to the torment existing in the past. What the story is about, in my small opinion, is Jard needs to fight the temptation to change the past. Maybe I’m off couse here. Can you help, Codrin?

        1. codrin dreit

          Ok. It is true I decided to end it a bit more cryptic than I wanted, due to the limited length, offering just enough information to understand the idea, but I didn’t expect it to be so confusing for the reader. I have to be more careful in the future.

          It was all, more or less, mentioned or suggested. Jard realized that the message he received was only the first of many others, coming from people who have suffered because of the changes he has brought to their lives, to their world. However he didn’t yet do all that he was about to be accused for, because at the time of the story he was only working on his project: a device that can manipulate the space-time fabric of our universe. It was implied he already thought about the repercussions and the effect that this power will have over him and over humanity, but now he has the definite proof that he will be the cause of a great amount of suffering.

          So the messages prove he will succeed in creating the device, but also that he will become immune to the pain of the entire humanity, allowing him to alter reality according to his callous whim. And he knows he’s going to become this cruel being, because otherwise his ‘future self’ would have already dealt with all the issues (or would have avoided them) and there wouldn’t have been any message for him to read right now (thus explaining his final answer to the note).

          What I thought would have required more explanation is how is the pattern in the background noise connected to the physical manifestation of the note he has received (and not just take in on faith). Or why is the first message under the form of a post note and how was it sent. Or simply what exactly did he do to the writer of the note. All these have explanations, but they were not necessary. The point of the story was what I explained earlier.

          I tried to carefully re-read the ending pretending I don’t know the story. I must have failed, because I still think it was visible. However I’m here not only to write for my own sake, but also to improve. So I will use this general sense of confusion to learn something.

  15. JakeC

    I took a writing course to bone up on writing skills before reentering college. My instructor pointed out that it is a good idea to write your thoughts down without worrying about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and such. Like you commented, “…write out all the words in my head without any pauses or breaks.” Worrying about all the appropriate criteria often results in losing your train of thought. Then go back and make all the necessary correction. Enjoyed your post.

  16. buffalois

    “why did you do it?”
    What the frig is this supposed to mean? I do “its” all the time. If by “it” this weirdo means cleaning litter boxes, freshening water bowls, filling up dry food dishes, laying out fresh blankets, letting the dogs out, and picking up poop, all while on my third cup of joe, well then, yeah, I do “it”.

    And what’s with the “why”? Simple – love of cats and dogs. And the “did”- past tense – I do “it” every day. And what the heck does “it” mean anyway. I can feel a twinge in my left temple.

    I’ve really got to cut down on the overtime. Paperwork around here doesn’t seem to end – but we need the grant money. Overtime is the only quiet time I have to get it done.

    Anyway, it’s just that Walter, love of my life, is working late again – later than me again – the third night in a row. And Walter’s excuses for skipping our lunch dates are getting stranger.

    On top of everything else, no one around here seems to know anything about the notes. Well, that’s just icing on the poop-y cake (a little animal shelter humor).

    This is the fourth post-it in the last four days stuck right in the middle of my computer screen. Now it’s starting to piss me off.

    But this note has something different – an arrow followed by the letters Lu–Me.
    I turn to my left in the direction of the arrow. A tall stack of oak library index card files, antique, useful, and beautiful, stand tall and wide in front of me. I scan the drawer fronts for the Lu-Me drawer – funny I don’t recall that particular label. Then I see it – all the way up on the top middle drawer – figures. I position the wooden stool and step up. I open the drawer and find a post-it note with the words “You made me love you” written on it.

    Just then, our favorite rendition of our favorite song, You Made Me Love You by Patsy Cline, starts to play softly from atop the oak files. “What the???” I hear footsteps stop directly behind me. I spin around balancing carefully atop the wooden stool, to see Walter looking up at me with arms up stretched holding something. Then he gently opens the royal blue velvet box with his fingertips, revealing the sparkling vintage diamond and emerald ring, and says with a wink, “Rebecca, will you marry me?” I float off the stool and look deeply into his eyes. “Yes” I say deep in bliss as I throw my arms around him, hugging him hard. Suddenly the whole room erupts with shouts of “Congratulations!!!” All my coworkers and friends, all guilty as sin! My heart is warmed and with a big smile I say, “This is “it”! “

    1. Kerry Charlton

      I like the story and the originality you’ve used. I empathize with the poop issue, only mine is cat poop. I have indoor cat that 24’s inches long, eats five meals a day and is still growing. What goes in, comes out.

  17. Doug Langille

    Over length again. Sorry.


    Herb was delusional. He fancied himself a ladies man and a friend to all his peers in the office. He was his boss’s trusted lieutenant and the only one who was Getting Things Done’. His car was the first to arrive and the last to leave. He should know. He checked with regularity. The laughter in the breakroom always stopped when he entered. All eyes were either on him or downcast in deference to his power. He was a force that demanded recognition. He worked hard to ‘Awaken the Giant Within.’ Ah, yes, Herb was a spectacle of awesomeness. Every trip to the staff bathroom had its mirror to remind him.

    So, it was to his great surprise and torment to see the note on his chair on a Monday morning. ‘WHY DID YOU DO IT?’ it read. He picked it up gingerly by the corner and popped his head outside his cubicle. He looked left, then right. He was the only one here. Herb put it a folder and wrote ‘Evidence’ across the top. He was weird like that.

    On Tuesday, there was another note. ‘WHY DID YOU DO IT?’ it read. The same message, the same block writing. The maintenance guy was in. He didn’t remember his name. It wasn’t important to remember the names of the custodial staff. He couldn’t be expected to keep track of everyone.

    “Hey, buddy!” said Herb. “You know anything about this note?”

    “Nope,” answered the custodian as we carried on with his errands. The quick dismissal annoyed Herb.

    Wednesday brought another note. Herb showed up at the office extra-early despite not getting more than twenty minutes shuteye. ‘WHY DID YOU DO IT?’ read the yellow sticky as it loomed at him from the seat of his specially-ordered-by-HR ergonomic chair. That was a hard fought battle. He had to call his union rep and everything. He asked his boss, Mister Randall, about the notes. He waved his folder around like a man desperate for answers. Of course, his boss didn’t have any.

    “Sorry, Herb. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll send out an email to everyone to ask them to stop.”

    Herb nodded and turned to leave. Mister Randall stopped him. “You look like hell, Herbert. It’s time to use up some of that vacation time you keep saving.”

    The day came and went. Herb went home to his apartment and paced the floor. He couldn’t figure out what he did. Did someone see him pilfering coin out of the coffee jar? Jane always kept a jar of peanut butter in the fridge. Did she figure out he was skimming some in the evenings to put on Harry’s crackers? He had a reputation to maintain. He worked harder than anyone else. Why shouldn’t he take a few liberties? He was Herb. They loved him. They owed him. There was no sleep for him that night either.

    When Herb landed at work Friday morning, the note was there in all its menacing glory. ‘WHY DID YOU DO IT?’ He stomped in to the breakroom where most of the staff were queuing up for their caffeine fix. As was typical, the room turned quiet when he entered. That wouldn’t last. Nosiree.

    “Whoever is leaving these notes better stop!” he yelled. Poor Herb was losing control. To hell with his reputation. It was time to catch the perpetrator in the act. He marched back to his cubicle, huffing and puffing in crazed fury. Not much work was going to get done that day. Herb had his mind set on one thing. He was going to stay the night and catch the son-of-a-bitch who thought this was funny.

    He was extra careful. Herb set his watch and fired up a YouTube playlist of his favourite tracks. Soon, Alan Parsons Project filled the empty office. He tucked in to Jane’s peanut butter with a spoon and thought of ways to punish his quarry. Despite all his planning, the reality was that he was tired. Not sleeping for several days will do that to a guy. Herb drifted off. He slept like the dead.

    Saturday morning, Herb woke at his desk with a start and panic. He slept through the alarm. This wasn’t good. On his computer monitor was another note. It was different. There was one on his keyboard, another on the cubicle whiteboard, one on his favourite stapler. There had to be dozens of these notes. The message had changed. All the notes read ‘WHY DON’T YOU DO IT?’ Herb tugged at fistfuls of hair as he yelled to the empty office.

    The following Monday morning was not terribly unlike any other. The staff arrived and went about their duties. Herb was notably absent. No one complained. It was a good day. Jane had to go to the supply room for some toner. The copier was out, no big deal. When she opened the door, she was greeted by a pair of fake leather shoes at eye-level and a foul stench.

    So long, Herb.

    1. don potter

      Chinese water torture in post it forum. Your writing made me travel into the the realm of insanity with Herb. One other thing, peanut butter left in the frig loses its taste and is too hard to spread. Having to face that would drive me crazy.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your story had a word rhythm like little soldiers marching across the page to a crescendo ot torture and torment. Boy, when you set out to write this story did you realize you could have had a drum roll, a bugle call and words marching in a rhythm of frenzy.. ? I think I have to go to bed and rest now. Kerry

    2. Pattypans

      I think the strongest part of this piece is its beginning, and the way you show us Herb’s relationship with others and his grandiose ideas of himself. I think you pulled that off really well. But the end…well, maybe I’m the only one, and maybe I’m just dense, but it took me several re-readings of the last couple of sentences, and some head-scratching, before I understood what happened.

    3. Tigger987

      You did an amazing job building Herb’s character. He really stood out larger than life, in his own mind. Things ended abruptly for me. I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle so I read the story again and still felt the same way.

      1. Pattypans

        For me, it wasn’t that the ending was abrupt; it just wasn’t clear enough for me. I think probably with the same number of words, or close to it, it could have been clearer. (Of course, maybe I’m just slow on the uptake!)

    4. smallster21

      Oh, goodness, how creepy! Nice story. I immediately understood what happened at the end, though I agree with others it was abrupt. I do wonder who was leaving these notes, but I can assume people in the office were just annoyed with him and I knew right away that the note ‘Why don’t you do it?’ was saying ‘Why don’t you kill yourself?’ or that is how Herb interpreted it.

      Just one critique comment. In the paragraph “Wednesday brought another note…” I feel like the mention of the special chair disrupts the flow of the narrative. Also, I would start with a new paragraph at “He asked his boss…” since it switches from the chair back to the notes.

      Great read!

  18. JRSimmang

    Today’s breakfast: black coffee and a bagel.

    I’ve been told that I need to overload with protein in the morning, pile my plate high with eggs and bacon. FDA guidelines and all that. I’ve also been told that sunlight is good for me. Truth be told, I work on 18 cadavers a week, and the people who have coffee and bagels for breakfast look just as dead as everyone else.

    People don’t understand the work of the undertaker. Usually, when the wine is served, and the hors d’oeuvres have been laid so pretty on the table, I wind up eating by myself. But, my clients don’t complain. Well, at least until recently.

    I like to do my work during the day time, because no matter how used you get to draining blood from the veins and pumping in a preservative, there is something about the night time. There’s a time where the hearts in the cold bodies pump blood just one more time. Sometimes, I think I hear laughter, coughing, pleading, love.

    I’ve been coming into the shop with a Post-It note stuck to the ledger. I work alone. So, naturally, my first thought was, “they’ve finally done it.” Obviously, someone was playing a trick on me. We have a cleaning crew that comes in once a month to make sure we’re compliant. But, they wouldn’t go this far to play a joke. I don’t even know their names. My boss, the owner of the place, only comes in every couple months.

    My brother, Carl, is a huge jokester. But, Jack, my other brother, was always better. Carl would get so angry. Perhaps, one of them was in town, but again, to go two weeks, just dropping in after hours to leave a note on my desk, both of them are too lazy for that.

    Inscribed in the note is the message: “Why did you do it.” No clue.
    I stayed late one night.
    In my chair.
    And I fell asleep. I’ve never been good at stake outs.

    The light came in through the window shades, casting a criss-crossed pall over the office. I yawned, silently cursed myself for not pulling through, and in my hand I found a pen. In front of me was the Post-It note with that same damn message. “Why did you do it?” Scattered across the desk were a hundred more Post-It notes with the same message, “Why did you do it? Why did you do it? Why did you do it?”

    I felt dizzy as I stood up, and I started tearing the Post-Its from my desk, crumpling them into tiny balls, throwing them at the walls, ripping up the ledger, ripping the drawers from the desks.

    “Because I had to,” I shouted to the cadavers. “I had to. She was going to die! I had to!” And I fell to my knees.

    I stood up after what seemed like an entire morning. I poured myself a cup of coffee, grabbed a bagel from the complimentary beverage and bagel stand, and walked to the locked closet. I pulled out the key, my secret key, and unlocked the door. “Hello, Rachel. How are you today.” And I put my hand on her cheek.

    1. Amy

      A well-written, dry peek into the undertaker persona. Your first few paragraphs were spot on and very crisp, pulling me deep into the story instantly. The middle was not quite as crisp, but still held my interest. Love the ending, except I’m confused why there is a beverage and bagel stand every morning… who stocks this for him? A minor detail, though in the whole scheme. Loved it.

    2. JRSimmang

      @Don, wouldn’t that be amazing!?
      @Amy: I agree. I got excited because I realized what my ending should be. I’m rewriting this on my blog. I think I would do well to explain the funeral home complimentary cart at the beginning and lengthen the middle, perhaps through revising the fifth through seventh paragraphs.
      @Doug: thanks. I’ve grown partial to the not-so-glamorous jobs and seemingly creepy people.

    3. smallster21

      Great story. The narrative is so seamless. I feel like I’m in the narrator’s head watching him go about his day. Loved the light narrative. It contrasted very well with the creepy setting/revelation, making it that much more disturbing.

  19. Kerry Charlton


    On a rainy Monday at four twenty in the morning, Brian McCarthy’s government limo pulled into the driveway of an eighteenth century, colonial in Georgetown, NSA Deputy Director, Lauren Williams’ home. Brian looked anxiously through the early mist until he saw her by the front porch, waiting. Every weekday morning they rode together to the headquarters of The NSA.

    His driver of twenty years, Bill Johnson opened the rear door for her. The classic beauty of Lauren’s face, showed her flame of passion as it did whenever she saw him in private.

    “It’s been such a long weekend without you darling,” Brian said.

    He gathered her gently, kissing her on her swan-like neck, his tongue traveling across the side of her face, entering her left ear.

    “You drive my insane when I feel your touch,” Lauren said.

    Their kiss that morning, as the limo made it’s way through Washington’s strrets, lit a torch between the lovers, who despite their age difference, heated the back seat of the limo with a self consuming flame.

    “Have you told Frank anything?” Brian asked.

    “Only that I was unhappy now that the children had left home and that I wanted a divorce.”

    “And what was his answer?”

    “Not in a million years. You’re stuck with me.”

    “Do you think he knows?” Brian said.

    “I’m sure by now he does. But with you as director of the NSA, he’s not about to do anything that woulld put him in the spotlight.”

    “Then who do you think is putting the notes on my desk?”

    You mean the hand written one in green ink, asking, “Why Did You Do This?”

    “How did you know they used green ink. I never showed them to anyone, even you.”

    “Can’t you guess darling?” Lauren said.

    The limo had arrived at the underground security parking area. The engine purred like a large cat under the hood, waiting for command. Bill Johnson knew to allow them time until he heard a knock on the glass divider. Brian had rescued Bill off a blood-soaked jungle floor in Viet Nam along with twelve other men in his unit, so many years ago. He would never forget the deed nor did the country when President Johnson had hung The Medal Of Honot around Lieutenant Brian McCarthy’s neck.

    Brian cradled Lauren’s face in his right hand, kissed her tenderly, slipping his left hand through her blouse for one last caress.

    “It was you who wrote the notes?” he asked.

    “I wanted to know how much you loved me.”

    “Enough to have turned my resignation into the president yesterday.”

    “You did that for me?”

    “I did it for both of us. I love you more than I can ever tell you.”

    “What will happen to us?” Lauren said. “It’s going to hit the fan.”

    “We’re up to it baby. I’ll never leave your side after today”

    One last lingering touch of two lover lips and Brian and Lauren stepped into a host of reporters, television cameras and general chaos.

    1. don potter

      So true love does exist in Washington, even if it is kept behind closed doors. Wonder if the lovers will retain their passion once the story is out? Whatever happens, the moments you shared with us were special. Nice dialogue.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Don. As you can tell from the title, when I started to write this, it had a violent ending. But when I got into the dialogue, I just couldn’t go through with it. True love is the most powerful force on earth, in my humble opinion. Thank you for your words.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Doug. After last week, I wanted to concentrate this story on dialogue. The deadly part got pushed in the background. Out of words as usual.

    2. Amy

      I was wondering where the “Whistle Deadly” part was going to come into play- a shame you dropped it. This was a little too sweet for my taste; I was waiting for something to pull them apart, but that could just be my morbid desire for conflict in a story. That’s not to say the writing wasn’t good; it was. Not sure I’m on board with how the notes proved their love for each other. Sorry this sounds so negative; I’m being over-critical today. I really did enjoy it 😉

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Amy, I always enjoy your reviews on this forum. I originally intended for the lovers to be murdered on the way to work that morning; coundn’t bring myself to do it. I felt so attached to them.

        They’re going to be in enough trouble when they face the cameras. However, I did run out of words and decided to write dialogue iinstead. I’ll be ugly on the next write. [Maybe]

        1. Amy

          Be bold Kerry. It is my humble opinion that conflict, tension, and obstacles are what make a story compelling. Shoving a beloved character under the bus, either literally or figuratively, will only make us love them more and feel compelled to keep reading. I look forward to your next [possibly] ugly write! Haha.

          1. Amy

            And you’re way too kind, by the way… It’s ok to tell me if I’m being obnoxious! I just hope everyone else is as honest when they review mine. After all, that’s what I’m here for- opinions and pointers for honing my skills.

          2. Kerry Charlton

            Amy, I would never think that of you. I love your sentence, “Shoving a beloved character under the bus”. I’ll put a small piece of bamboo under a finger nail, when I write the prompt next week

      2. smallster21

        Lol, I love Amy’s candor regarding her ‘morbid desire for conflict’. Amy, I’m with Kerry. I appreciate your comments, and don’t ever hold back.

        Kerry, I enjoyed your story. You do have a gift with dialogue, which can be a difficult aspect of storytelling for writers to master, so I’m impressed with how easily I fall into the conversations of your characters. With this story, the one thing that stuck out to me was the importance of the notes. By the end of the story, I had totally forgotten they were even mentioned. When I reread the story, the motivations behind the notes still didn’t seem to fit. So, just pointing that out. From your other comments, it sounds like you have more story here to tell, so maybe it will come together later. Again, I enjoyed reading. My heart jumped and swooned; I’m a sucker for forbidden love plots.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Thank you smallster. I got heated up when I wrote this story. Did you pick up the age of Brian and Lauren? Brian in his middle sixties and Lauren in her late forties. The passion of forbidden love falls through all age brackets. I’m flooded with so many ideas to follow this story, it’s tempting to spread it to a novella. One other thing, I’m also a sucker for forbidden love. The more forbidding, the better. Smoke and mirror story coming.

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Smallster, I also thought the notes didn’t fit the story line. Goodbye notes in the rewrite. Kerry

          2. smallster21

            I figured there was a large age discrepancy there. The story mentions an age difference, but I don’t know if it specified. I guessed she was around 40, having kids just out of high school. You and Doug have been really into exploring the forbidden love plot lately (his Darcy, Alice, Bobby triangle from the past few weeks). I love reading them! Your stories always end on a somewhat happy note (which is great, because I hate sad endings), but what about trying a tragic ending? Can you make us cry 🙁 Sounds like you set out to do that with this one. If you want to try that out and post it here in the comments, I would read it.

          3. Pattypans

            Kerry, those were great clues about their ages; I started figuring in my head as I read and came up with something within the range you mention.

    3. Tigger987


      Great dialogue and I love the contrast going from the private setting of the limo and into the crowd of reporters and photographers. What i am having trouble with is the detailed information of the limo driver, the two main characters positions, why he resigned and what was the true motivation behind her leaving the notes. When these questions come up, you know you have created a story where we the readers want more. You hooked me and I think this prompt has the ability to be a wonderful short story or the beginning of a mystery novel. I hope you choose to do more with this.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Tigger. The characters intrigued me. I will follow through on this and Bill Johnson will have a key part in the story. His complete devotion to Brian and now to Lauren is needed for the problems the three of them will face.

        Your intuition into this story is the same as mine. Once I created the characters, I wanted to follow them in a story. Kerry

        1. Pattypans

          Kerry, I understood the importance of the backstory about the limo driver right away; in fact, if I remember correctly, it answered a question I was already asking about why somebody as careful as the male protagonist had to be would trust him with that potentially damaging ‘information’.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Smallster, intriging idea. I’ll try to write an ending before the end of this week and post it here. Thanks for your interest in my writing as always. Kerry

          1. Kerry Charlton

            Hi Everybody.

            I’m posting the conclusion to Whistle Sweet, Whistle Deadly, early tomorrow morning. Kerry

  20. tryingtowrite

    Cell Block 5

    “Is this it?” I fumed. “Twenty-two years, three promotions, and I’m still working graveyards dealing with mundane crap. I signed on to help people, make a difference…save the world!”

    Cynthia rolled her eyes. “So what about the downed air conditioning system in Cell Block 5?”

    “Call Facilities,” I said, already envisioning my memo to Division–In an effort to conform with Title 15 and mitigate any potential threat of disturbance… Blah, blah, blah. And the return email I’d assuredly receive, questioning my decision-making skills, experience, authority, what I’d had for dinner that night in the officers’ dining room, and ultimately, my emotional well-being, though that part would be cleverly disguised between the lines. Approving overtime had become much more stressful than managing 150 employees and 4,000 prisoners.

    Half walking, half limping my way to Cell Block 5, I stopped at a fountain and popped a couple pills that I’d stashed inside my pocket. Working graves was taking a toll on me. I was grumpy, achey, and always had a pounding headache.

    As I entered CB5, my senses were assailed by the musty, testosterone filled air. Officer Daniels, one of my best and favorites, was already posted at the security gate.

    “How’s the baby?”

    “Awesome, Ma’am! Took her first steps yesterday!”

    “Wow! Sounds like she’s gonna be a marathoner like her dad.”

    “How about you, Ma’am? Feeling better?” He sounded cautiously optimistic. I put my hand up to stop him, and gently nodded my head yes. Daniels knew me well and didn’t press further. He opened the gate, as I stood there choking on the malignant lump of emotion growing in my throat.


    Eddie McMaster was 24 years old and only three years into his life sentence. I’d met him a while back as he lay in the infirmary with deep, self-inflicted lacerations to his wrists. It was his birthday. He told me all about his life and, surprisingly, his crime. He said he’d shot his girlfriend and brother at point blank through their hearts after finding them together in bed on his twentieth birthday.

    McMaster walked to the front of the dorm. “What’s up, Boss?”

    “Listen, Eddie,” my voice low enough so no one could hear me address him by his first name, “maintenance is responding, and large fans are being brought in. Any foreseeable problems, tension?”

    “No, we’re good, Boss.”

    “Okay, if anything changes, let Officer Daniels know.”

    As I turned to leave, Eddie stopped me. “Boss…did you get the post-its?”

    “Post-its?” I’d been finding post-its on my desk all week from, I’d assumed, the day shift commander; he enjoyed harassing me about overtime.

    “Yeah, I had the cleaning trusty leave ‘em on your desk.”

    “Why would you do that?”

    “Word on the Block is you submitted your retirement papers. Why’d you do it, Boss?” Eddie’s hardened exterior softened. “You’ve always treated us like people, and you listened that night, when I thought even God had stopped listening.”

    I held up my hand. “I have Parkinson’s Disease, Eddie.” I turned and walked away, mouthing thank you to Officer Daniels as I passed through the gate, feeling–for the first time in twenty-two years–unashamed of the tears streaming down my face. I’d made a difference.

    1. Pattypans

      Tryingtowrite, I agree with the poster who suugested last week that you should change your screen name. This story is very well-written and riveting, in my opinion. I like it very much. You have a great way of imparting information without resorting to ‘information dump.’ In this short, short story you gave us a well-rounded portrait of an amazing woman. Kudos! Please keep writing! And—you’re not just trying to write, you are writing!

    2. JRSimmang

      I’ll have to agree with PattyPans, this is a well-written piece. I would like to see this extended beyond the 500 word maximum. I think there’s more of a story here than the word limit will allow.

      1. tryingtowrite

        I played myself like a fiddle, too, Doug. I never know where my thoughts will take me. Glad it worked for you. Thanks.

        Thank you, Pattypans, Don Potter, and JRSimmang, for your input. My screen name, like most things I do in life, was created on a whim, though, quite honestly, it does represent how I feel about myself. I am not educated in the art (skill) of writing, my vocabulary range is dismal at best, my grammar is even worse, and like my main character, I figure if I just stick to the “trying” part, perhaps I’ll make a difference.


      1. tryingtowrite

        Thank you, Amy. I edited about 200 words from what I felt was a solid story–so the apprehension to post the final product was definitely there. I’m very happy to have found this forum and look forward to learning the craft.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          And I look forward to your next post, Kristie. You’re very talented at laying down words. It seems your writing goes into auto-pilot. Am I right about that? I can feel the flow of your story. Great job on the post.

          1. tryingtowrite

            Thank you, Kerry. I think you correct. My mind is constantly spinning tales lately and I’m not quite sure why.

    3. Pattypans

      Re your post below, “My mind is constantly spinning tales lately and I’m not quite sure why.” (which seems to have no way to reply to it): The ‘why’ is most likely because you’re supposed to write them!

      1. tryingtowrite

        Thank you for the vote of confidence, Smallster. Pattypans, I totally get what you’re saying, but I feel like I’m losing my mind. It won’t go to sleep at night. Case in point, I posted my story at 2am. Loser! ; )

        1. Pattypans

          Maybe if you get enough writing in a bit earlier, your mind will let itself shut down for the night, ha! Or you could mentally put your story people to bed, tell’m you’ll see’m tomorrow, and say good night.

  21. cecoburn

    I looked up at the clock, it’s already closing in on midnight, and nothing out of the ordinary yet. This is seriously a waste of my time. I thought. I looked down at my desk. I’d gotten a hell of a lot of extra work accomplished, along with some heavy duty internet browsing. But still ultimately clueless about who keeps leaving those goddamned post it notes on my desk. I suppose I’m being a bit of a drama queen, it’s just some stupid office prank no doubt. People here can be so friggen immature. I guess I have to hand it to them though. One post it note every single day for the past week. It’s rather impressive. I bet it’s one of those clowns from engineering. There’s a plethora of mouth breathing nerds in there that would be just lame enough to do something like this. Although I don’t see how they could be that stealthy. Even so, why me? Rick, my boss, said I was the only one who had complained about getting these kind of notes. Oh well, I guess I’ll just pack up my stuff and go home. Shit, it’s so late I think the grocery store is closed and my fridge is totally empty. I’ll go snag something from the vending machine real quick.
    So I ran down the corridor past the bathrooms to the vending machine. Reese’s pieces! oh this is happening, I thought. $1.25 for candy seems seriously overpriced but it’s worth it for chocolate covered peanut butter. So with my newly plundered loot I walk back to my desk to gather up my things and head home. I grabbed my bag and began clearing of my desk. I picked up my planner to throw it in and saw another one. A post it note. I dropped my planner and jumped back. My heart was racing as I spun around in circles looking behind me. I hollered out “HELLO” into dark room. The only light was from my computer and the dim emergency lights in the hall. The red glow of the exit sign on the far side of the room made it look creepier.

    “Is anybody there?” I yelled again, crossing my fingers that no one would answer.

    I looked down at the post it again, “Why did you do it” it read. Why did I do what? I hadn’t thought about what I would do if the note appeared while I was here when I decided to work late.

    This is ridiculous I thought. It’s just a fucking post it note! I crumpled it up and threw it on the floor making a statement that I would not be battered by a square of yellow adhesive paper and sharpie. I packed up the rest of my stuff and slung my bag over my shoulder and march defiantly across the room towards the door. Feeling more at ease once I reached the dim light in the hallway I went to open the door.

    It was locked.

    Locked? From the inside! How the hell, how is that possible? I frantically searched for a lock, but found nothing. The fluorescent flickering light offering little help. I grabbed the door handle with both hands and violently began shaking it. I pounded on the door.

    “Hello! Please, some body, open the door!”

    I started at the handle again jumping up and down, and yanking hard until my hands began to hurt. With one big jerk of the handle I lost my grip and my bag flew off my shoulder and it’s contents spilled out all over the floor. I knelt down and began to hurriedly shove everything back in. I stood up to try the door once more. My jaw dropped I gasped. Slowly stepping away from the door in shock.

    There was a small, yellow square in the center of the door. With black sharpie that read;

    “I’m right behind you”.

    1. Amy

      A good lead-in; I could see a cheesy horror flick playing out, with everyone yelling, “Don’t turn around!” at the narrator. It needs another edit, though. Shifting tense, punctuation, fragments, and some spelling errors. Entertaining, though, for sure. I am also one that balks at the price of chocolate-covered peanut butter and then buys it, anyway.

    2. don potter

      I enjoyed your story. It was scary entertainment, just like those old horror films – the ones where you didn’t see all the gore, because anticipating what was going to happen was more frightening than anything that could be put on the screen.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          It’s hard to write horror without grisly details, but you,ve done it here. A very good post. Let it sit a couple of days and read it out loud. It will surprise you and hone your craft. What you already have, is natural talent for storytelling and not eveybody possesses that

          On another thought, the king of horror movies was called ‘The Cat Woman’ released in the lare thirties. The ultimate horror thriller made with shadows, music and the viewers imagination. Rent the movie and see for yourself.

  22. calicocat88

    Tried to keep it shorter than my usual…I think I almost got there, lol! Also thinking this story may be written too confusing :/

    Iris ran down the streets of Manhattan, the baby tucked inside her jean jacket. At three in the morning all the club goers had disappeared into yellow taxis. The once luminescent lights bouncing off the buildings had dimmed to a faint gold that filled the empty streets with an eerie mythological glow. Iris shivered. Somewhere in the woods the pixies were dancing in their glory.

    Fall was coming with a vengeance, it seemed, and ice specks stung at Iris’s cheeks and eyes as she ran against the wind. The baby girl squirmed in the downy blanket, scratching at the pendant hanging between Iris’s breasts. It was passed down from many powerful Seers in the Rosewood family. Her daughter would never get to wear it.

    She caught sight of a shadow looming out from the nearest ally between two old apartment complexes, strategically letting the hem of a dark coat float out in the heavy wind like bats fluttering and scraping at the brick. She slowed her pace as she approached the ally and held the baby close.

    “Cody,” she let his name drip from her tongue. “Did you bring anyone with you?”

    A tall man in a black trench coat and curling black hair stepped from the shadows. “I’m having Rae meet me back at Central Park. We’ll handle everything from there. You don’t have to worry. She’s as loyal to the Clan as you are.”

    “And you still trust her?” Iris said, stepping deeper into the ally under the seclusion of shadows. “We can’t risk the Clan finding out about this. We need to—“

    “It’s just you, Iris. There is no we,” Cody lifted his hands as if he were about to pull Iris into his arms, but let his hands fall. “There never was. You’re on your own this time.”

    “You’re my guardian,” she said.

    “Exactly,” he said. “I’m you’re guardian.”

    A mixture of rain and sleet began to fall, pieces of ice landing on Cody’s dark lashes. Iris cradled the crying baby against the harsh winds. Human children were so susceptible to illness, so weak to the elements. “I have to get her to shelter,” Iris pleaded with her eyes. “I will never ask you for another thing as long as I live.”

    “What you’re doing is unforgivable,” he said. “After I leave you, there’s no coming back. My oath will be broken.”

    “Sacrifice,” she said. “Human parents are willing to die for their children. Why wouldn’t it be the same for us?” After a moment she said, “How’d you know where to find me?”

    “I could sense you,” he said. “It’s easy to find the abnormal among the conventional. I left you notes–“

    “They nearly got me killed.”

    Cody stared at the baby. “Do they know she’s missing?”

    “There was a fire. The man and woman are dead,” she said. “The bodies are ashes. No one will know the difference between two and three.”

    Cody ran a hand through his hair. “Humans may not believe this was accident.”

    “They believe anything they’re told if by the right people with the right words.”

    “The Fay never was a gullible race,” he said. “They’ll send out a search party for me and the girl.”

    Iris heaved the squalling baby onto her shoulder, cooing soft noises as she rocked her gently. She turned her gaze to Cody, her eyes burning as they blazed through the icy mist. “I break the bond that connects us through blood—“

    “Iris, no!”

    “Cody Whiteshallow you will turn the life sentence you swore to me and give it to my daughter. By the power of my blood I command you as my birth given guardian to watch over and protect Kaelie Rosewood.”

    The rain pattering gently on the streets came to a stop. The dying winds made the air suddenly too thin to breath. Even the street cats were huddled away in their hiding places instead of scavenging through trashcans. Nature was silently watching.

    “Go to her,” Iris said, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper and sticking in Cody’s hand. “Follow the directions. You’ll find her hidden in a grove. The trees will be protecting her, but only for a short while. Be quick.”

    Cody stuffed the note in his pocket. “Rae is taking care of the details. My death should look sudden and clear of any evidence that may lead the Clan to you,” he stared hard. “You don’t have to go. We can leave together. Raise your own daughter.”

    “Kaelie will have you and Rae and I’ll have this one to raise,” she hid the baby’s head under her jacket once again and stepped out into the rain. “I don’t want to be contacted.”

    “You expect the Sage to believe this human child is your daughter?” Cody laughed without humor. “Your mother is too perceptive to think that her granddaughter would be anything less than an exceptional Seer. A human child could never pass off as a Rosewood, let alone a Fay child.”

    “She won’t have a choice but to believe me,” Iris said and looked over her shoulder. “They’re hunting me already. I can’t stay this still for too long before they catch up.”

    “What am I supposed to tell her?” Cody said, squeezing the piece of paper in his pocket. “When your daughter realizes she’s not normal?”

    “Anything but the truth,” Iris said, and disappeared into the rain never looking back.

      1. calicocat88

        I took the details of the prompt and slipped them in bit by bit, but didn’t want to make the entire story obviously revolving around it. Iris got the notes on her computer before from Cody. She knew what she had to do to begin with and him letting her know he was still on her side by way of post it notes led her to assume that he was possibly the one who was sending them and therefore pushing her to stay late that night, do her dirty deed, and then search him out where she found him in the ally. I figured I was straying a little. Hope this helps clear some of it up and give a little insight of how the screws were working in my head 🙂

    1. JRSimmang

      I’m certainly intrigued and curious as to how this story began and ends. Iris is an interesting character, choosing a mortal’s life, raising a child like everyone else. Words of advice, if you don’t mind: be careful with “your” and “you’re”, and I assume you meant to type alley. Just those quick changes and I think you’ve got one heck of a story.

      1. calicocat88

        Thank you, thank you, thank you! JRSimmang, I’m so glad you pointed this out to me. I went through it so fast that my first over editing was my only check. Usually I have to go over the story five or six times before I’m positive it’s error free. I was afraid I would miss some things. Glad you liked it though 🙂

    2. Amy

      I really liked your story- very engaging and different. Not the typical office mystery. I would like to point out, though, that your story is almost double the word limit and I am still confused as to who these people are and what is happening to them. Iris’ motives for leaving her own daughter and raising a random human baby are unclear, and I had to go back and reread to figure out that her daughter was not the baby she was carrying inside of her jacket. Props for creativity, but with that many more words, it should be crystal clear in my opinion.

      1. calicocat88

        Amy, Guys– would you mind giving me some suggestions about how I could have made this clearer? I knew I was risking it :/ It’s difficult to see this from another’s perspective when I see it with all the backstory in my head.

        1. Pattypans

          Calicocat, have you tried reading it out loud? Sometimes that can help you see problem areas or gaps. And I guess it helps to remember that you’re the only one with the backstory in your head; if you don’t show us or somehow impart it to us, we don’t know it. And since what we post here is supposed to be short, it seems we need to take that into consideration both when deciding what kind of story to write, and then, when editing, what to leave out or add.

          I’ve only taken one actual creative writing class (online), and my teacher’s mantra was ‘Rewriting IS writing!’ It’s amazing how thoughtful, serious self-editing can improve a piece! (I’m not suggesting you didn’t self-edit, though.) No matter how much something flowed as I was writing it, I always find ways to improve it each time I go over it.

          Sorry this is so long, but…you asked for it, ha!

        2. Doug Langille

          Like pattypans, I think printing it off and reading the draft aloud Is the single best thing you can do. Walking away from the piece for even an hour before doing that pass helps me as well. Of course, I don’t always do this myself, but when I do, it comes out better.

          1. calicocat88

            Thanks guys 🙂 I was never too good at writing short so I’m still not sure what’s going to fit when I start writing. This is good advice 🙂

        3. Amy

          First of all, I just want to tell you that I have come back and read your story again, twice, since I commented on it. The images and characters really stuck with me.
          Onto business, in the second paragraph, you begin talking about the baby girl she is carrying and then mention the pendant that her daughter will never get to wear; this made me think the baby in her arms was her daughter. Then, Cody mentions that there is no “we”; that she is on her own. But he is her guardian and apparently helping her with something…? That suggests a “we” to me. It was unclear to me exactly where the two characters in the scene were going from there; Cody mentions something about his own death, which felt out of left field, and Iris will apparently be raising a human child… why? There is nothing to suggest necessity for doing this. I also was confused about the fire and why the human child was taken in the first place. Not sure if this will help but those were the points that left me questioning what was going on.
          I know it is really hard sometimes, especially in such a richly crafted and detailed fantasy world as this, to remember that the reader knows nothing of the back story, aside from what is given to them.

        4. smallster21

          Great opening paragraph, calicocat88 with the action, tension and imagery, it grabbed my attention. I am with Amy on being confused. All the questions she raised with her comment are similar to the ones I had myself. This sounds like an interesting story! Great imagination 🙂

  23. don potter

    It was cramped in the janitor’s closet and hard to breathe. I decided to hide there, all night if necessary, in order to catch the person who keeps leaving post it notes on my desk saying, “Why did you do it?”
    Informing my boss about the problem and asking co-workers as well as the night cleaning crew did not turn up any answers. So I decided to do a little sleuthing on my own. After all, such shenanigans, though childish, are disturbing – maybe even dangerous. The only way to put an end to this mind game is to nail the perpetrator in the act.
    I did not tell a soul I’d be working late. By six, I was alone. When the janitorial crew finished their nightly routine, I asked the supervisor to leave the closet door open. He agreed.
    My desk clock read twelve o’clock when I stationed myself in the closet, ready to catch the secret post it person red-handed. With the air conditioning on standby mode, my hiding place was becoming more and more uncomfortable, but the door was ajar enough to give me a view of my work area and provide some much needed air.
    I must have dozed off, because I was startled back to the moment by a noise but could not determine exactly where it came from. This is it, I thought.
    Footsteps seemed to be coming my way. They belonged to a man, probably a large one. I panicked. Was I about to be found hiding in the janitor’s closet? I groped, as quietly as I could in the darkness, for something to protect myself. When my hand touched a mop handle, I knew this would not be an effective weapon. It was too late to come up with a plan B. My heart continued to pound, and each breath felt as if it might be my last.
    The person was in front of the closet. What next?
    He wiggled the knob, eased the door shut, and walked on.
    Once his footsteps trailed off, I breathed a sigh of relief and reached for the knob so I could let myself out. There was no inside knob and the door was locked shut. Suddenly, I had difficulty breathing. What had been an uncomfortably warm hideout was now a sweltering tomb. I faded into unconsciousness knowing I was going to die.
    “Are you alright?” I heard a voice ask.
    Crumpled in the corner, still holding onto the mop handle, I opened my eyes and saw the supervisor of the janitorial crew.
    “I came back to get some supplies. That’s when I found you locked in the closet,” he said as he reached for a bottle of glass cleaner.
    After thanking him, I went to the restroom and splashed some water on my face.
    Refreshed, I returned to my desk only to find a post it note saying, “Why did you do it?”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I think it’s one of the funniest stories I’ve read in a long time. Reminds me of Laurel and Hardy. Did they ever accomplish anything except make people laugh.
        Oh yes, they became icons and multi millionaires.

      2. don potter

        Elaborate plans oft times go astray. I wrote this strictly for fun. Sorry you didn’t like it, but a couple of people did. Maybe it’s a guy thing.

        1. Amy

          It’s not at all that I didn’t like it, don potter. We all have different styles and voices; interests and tastes. That’s what it should always be- for fun. I think I am overly-critical today and apologize for my rudeness. Sometimes I just feel like there isn’t enough constructive criticism here to help us all grow. That said, it could very well be a guy thing… 😉

    1. Tigger987

      A good fun read. I agree the best laid plans go awry. Think of all he put himself through to only end up where he started, was a nice change of pace for this prompt 🙂

    2. smallster21

      Points for using ‘shenanigans’–one of my favorite words. I do agree with Amy on the story building up, skipping the climax, then ending. Kerry thought it was funny and Doug liked it, so it’s just a difference in tastes like Amy said. I did find the narrator’s train of thought entertaining.

  24. nelleg

    Sorry for the length.

    Carol sat down with her coffee mug dreading the long night she had before her. She was obsessed with the note and its writer. Who? Why? How? And what did it mean? She had no enemies that she knew of at the camp. She had been the assistant to the director for three years now. “Why did you do it?” That is what the note said. Every morning it was stuck right on top of her desk, just waiting for her. Now she was going to find out the “who”, the “why”, the “how” and most importantly “what did it mean”.

    Carol was deep in organizing files when she heard the quiet clicks of foot steps in the hallway. She looked at the clock on her wall its hands showed 11:35. The door to her office slowly creaked open. Carol’s heartbeat raced at the anticipation of the moment. She was finally going to put an end to the mystery that plagued her for the past month. Carol’s faced filled with confusion as she stared at the person standing in front of her. “Hazel? Is that you? What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be out of your quarters.” Carol spoke to the woman that stood there in confusion as well. Then Carol saw the slip of paper in her fragile hands. The hands of an elderly woman even though Hazel was in her mid twenties. “It was you? (the who). But how did you get out without the guards seeing you?” Carol’s eyes darted around, she realized the amount of trouble they would both be in if found right now.

    The tired looking woman spoke in an apologetic whisper, “The guards go to the far edge of the camp to smoke their tobacco around eleven thirty every night. It takes them 13 to 16 minutes until they return.” (the how)

    “Hazel why are you here?” Carol still could not believe the messenger writer’s true identity.

    “I had to get an answer to the question the had been plaguing me since I arrived (the why).” The woman sadness made her look even more weathered.

    “I’m sorry I don’t know what I did to cause such a dilemma. I thought I treated you with kindness I didn’t mean to hurt you in anyway.” Carol was now more confused than ever. She racked her brain trying figure out what her misdeed was to this woman.

    “That is what you have done. Ms. Kraus, when I arrived here with my brother Samuel he was ill, as I’m sure you remember. THEY wanted you to assign him elsewhere. I noticed you switched his file with an elderly man when THEY turned THEIR backs (the what). You have treated me and everyone else here with kindness. You are not one of us, I but yet you treat us with empathy as if you felt our pain.” The woman eyes started filling with tears as she confessed her thoughts.

    Carol was so focused on the words that came out the woman’s thinned lips that she didn’t hear the footsteps outside her door. “What is going on here? Why are you out of your quarters?” There stood a large guard in the doorway.

    Carol’s heart raced and before she knew it her mouth had opened “I asked for her help with these files. I didn’t see anyone around to bring me a helper so I went to retrieve one myself.”

    The guard, Carol knew him only by ‘Ratz’, stood there for a moment longer before he spoke. “From now on you wait until a guard can retrieve someone for you!”

    “Yes sir.” Carol spoke trying not to show her relief.

    “Are you done with her?” Ratz spoke in an irritated voice.

    “Yes, for tonight.”

    1. Pattypans

      Nelleg, I love your story. I’d suggest a bit of tightening and some proofreading. But your idea is original and very interesting. I admire writers like you who come up with such fresh ideas!

    2. Amy

      Interesting idea. I think there was a lot you could have edited out and been right in the neighborhood of the limit. (i.e. all the ‘who, what, why, how’ business. We already know there is a mystery that needs to be solved.) I don’t get the ‘hands of an elderly woman even though Hazel was in her mid twenties’ thing. It threw me. I do like all these creative, outside of the office settings, though.

    3. smallster21

      I like your take on the prompt. I would get rid of the parenthesis containing the who, how, and why. I thought they were disruptive to the flow of the story. Hazel’s motivations are interesting, and I found that Carol’s emotional layers were well-developed for the short story.

  25. slayerdan

    Nestled quietly in the rear of the office, Sanji waited patiently.The last person working, Edna in housekeeping, had just left and the door made its expected clank sound as she locked it. He stood slowly and peered across the darkened office, moonlight offering assistance as any good henchman would. Cubicle tops zig zagged across the room, their existence now as ominous as a minotaur’s maze.

    Sanji swallowed and noted nervously to himself that he would know if a minotaur were here.

    Deftly as a footpad he made his way to his own cubicle. There his desk sat as he had left it. Untouched. Undisturbed. The bait was ready.

    Neck hairs tingling, Sanji spun around as his heart began to thump. Wildly he looked side to side and down the cubicle tops. “Did I really hear that?,” he thought to himself.

    There was nothing or no one to be seen.

    “Son ova bitch”, he uttered to himself as he leaned against his desk. As he tried to compose himself, he froze, his fingers gripping the desk as he listened against the silence. There it was again.


    Dropping his head low, Sanji cut to the left side of the room and ran back to the rear of the office. Almost diving into the wall as one foot fought the other to stay in the lead, he managed to hit the light switches, illuminating the room. He squinted for a moment as his eyes accepted the brightness.

    Nothing. Still he saw nothing.

    “Who’s here?” he said, trying to seem manly without actually yelling. No reply came. Doubt filled his thoughts.

    “Did I imagine that?” he mused as he ran his fingers through his hair, shaking his head. Realizing he had blown his cover and that if anyone was here, they surely wouldn’t show themselves now, he decided to go home. One last look and listen and he killed the lights.

    Still wondering about the notes, he made his way to the door when he heard it again.


    Fear now joined the blood pumping through his body.. For a long few seconds he froze, as the possibilities assaulted him one after the other, each pleading to be picked. Hit the lights? Run? Scream? Hide? Call the police? His heart pounded as blood was bulldozed through his veins. And then he picked his option.


    Fumbling for his keys, the contents of his pocket poured onto the floor as he dived after them. As he stood, a firm, feminine hand grabbed his head from behind as another hand slowly pulled the blade across his tightened neck skin. His mouth alive with a silent scream as the form behind him pulled him closer. He felt the warmth of his blood as his adrenaline filled heart pumped it out.

    His legs began to go as his world spiraled into darkness. He felt, as much as heard, a final whisper before he was gone.
    “Seriously my dear Sanji, why did you do it?”

    (As always, the prompt is a jumping off point.Many will choose to explain why “they did do it”. I likedifferent directions. And now, more than ever, I wanna know why he did it. And who did it to him–hope you enjoyed my Saturday macabre-ness).

    1. smallster21

      The setting is laid out nicely; I was able to fall into the story with the descriptions you provided. I think it would add to the story if you described the giggling. Is it a little girl giggling or a man? A woman? A old, crazy kook? I think that would help set the mood and tone.

    1. Amy

      If you are new to the site, your post will have to be approved by the moderator before it will show up. Might take a day or two. Don’t despair; after the first one, you should be good to go.

  26. angel plant

    As I’m sitting at my desk working I start to wonder how long will it take to catch the person, that is leaving the notes. As I’m waiting I start to get bored so I watch the door but then nothing happens.

    As I wait I think of how to handle things when I catch the person. They will be surprised. Not knowing I am there. That I am going to catch them. Tension rises I am getting excited. It is getting late still no show. I wonder why? They may not come tonight. Then I have to keep coming back until they do. They can not get away with this. It is wrong.

    I have to find something to do. I just don’t know what. By now I am walking the floor. I do not want anyone to hear me. So I stop. I won’t hum that would be a mistake.

    Will they even tell me why they did it? Why their still doing it. What could be the reason? I don’t see any reason. It makes no sense.

    Now I’m getting tired. My eyes want to close. I won’t give up. I won’t go to sleep. This is important to me I have to know why and how it started. I always want to know how, where, when, why, etc., My eyes are heavy I must have dozed off because I wake with a start. I hear sound. ” Someone is coming.” Yet I hear no footsteps. Why not? This really is making no sense.

    I am being quiet so I will know when they come in. Then I hear it a rattle of the door. But how? I still heard no footsteps. What is happening I wonder!

    My mind has so many thoughts. I don’t know what to think. I wish they would hurry. I want to know. Then slowly “the door opens” I can barely see but I can feel them looking around. “Oh my,” I hear them say. My note is not here. I was thinking good gosh I forgot to put it back up. How i wish I had. Then I heard “oh well,” I will write another.

    They came to the desk to get pen and paper that was to close for me. I wish they would move a little but they didn’t. So I moved as quickly as I could. Trying to be quiet while they were writing. I got to the light and cut it on.

    Wow! what a surprise. My mouth flew open so did theirs. We started at each other and then begin to smile. There stood my boyfriend with the note in his hand. I asked him why he left notes that said ” Why did you do it”? He said I had to. I looked at him and said why? “I did not do anything”.

    So he said I know. I just want to say I love you. I did not know what to say. I was happy, angry, sad, and so much more.

    1. Amy

      It’s kind of choppy and disjointed; the flow is terribly interrupted by fragmented sentences. Your tense also changes from present to past. I think it could really benefit from much more showing instead of telling. Instead of telling me, ‘Tension rises I am getting excited,’ you could show me this is happening by saying, “I can feel the tension in the silent room as my hands shake with excitement.” Your ending is also confusing; I’m not sure how asking ‘why did you do it?’ on a post-it note tells someone they love them…

    2. Doug Langille

      Hi. Some neat ideas here and a good voice for the narrator. There are quite a few problems with this write tho. I think that an editing pass would do a world of good. My favourite trick is to read a piece aloud. Most of the errors pop out right away when you do that. Keep writing!

  27. Pattypans

    I hated working in a cubicle, and didn’t plan to for very long. I was just trying to put my life into something resembling order and earn enough to repay a bit of money I owed some friends. Then I’d launch into business for myself. I wasn’t happy about living in my parents’ attic at age 33, either.

    At first the pink post-it notes were just a nuisance. Probably a practical joke, I figured. But when they showed up on my cubicle-prison walls morning after morning, I felt spooked. “Maryanne, why did you do it?” they asked, in graceful, loopy script reminiscent of a Catholic schoolgirl’s. Nobody in the office knew anything about how the notes got there, or so they claimed; not even the raven-haired young woman who cleaned the fourteenth floor every night. Yet it seemed impossible, given the tight security in the Manhattan building full of accountants, that someone from outside could manage to sneak in every night. So I’d just have to sneakily stay in one night to catch the mysterious author.

    Armed with pepper spray and a paperback copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire, I waited. When the too-young cleaning woman came with her cart of brooms and rags and spray bottles of cleaning solution, I listened unobserved. When she got to my cubicle, one row in front of where I sat, the rhythm of her routine changed. She was doing something quieter. I stood up partway and watched her write on a little pink paper, which she stuck on my wall. So! Finally I knew who was leaving the cryptic notes. But why?

    I walked quietly toward my desk. She took in a sharp breath when she saw me. Her eyes were wide and brimmed with silent tears. She began to stammer unintelligibly, and all the while I couldn’t take my eyes off hers. They looked so familiar, yet they made the hair on my arms stand up. Slowly, by degrees, I realized where she got those eyes, and why she was confused about me, and what the it in her neatly written question was. What I couldn’t fathom, though, was how she knew who I was.

    Then I began to weep. Standing in front of me—I was sure of it—was my daughter. The daughter I hadn’t seen since the day she was born 17 years before. The baby my parents signed away to some family whose name I couldn’t know. I had held her and kissed her that wet, steely November morning, and told her I didn’t want to give her away. I had whispered that her name, at least for me, was Hope. I had asked her to forgive me, and my tears wet her tiny head as I prayed more fervently than I had ever prayed before, asking Jesus to somehow give me the chance to be a mother to her.

    Now I hoped, as fervently as I had prayed that day, that this would be my chance.

      1. Pattypans

        Thank you, Don. I’m so glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and for the input.

        Slipping in little things to characterize the people I write about is a fun and interesting part of writing for me, and sometimes quite a challenge; then at other times they seem to reveal themselves to me. This one was like that. Does that happen to others of you when you write?

    1. Amy

      Good story. I liked that she was armed with pepper spray and The Girl Who Played with Fire– no doubt stealing courage from Lisbeth to confront the perpetrator.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          This is my kind of story, full of tension, reflection and remorse. I don’t like blood, guts and gore anymore. Your story is a bright sun beam on the post. Thamk you.

    2. JR MacBeth

      Pattypans, you packed a lot into a few words!

      I particularly liked the way you painted a picture of Maryanne. Even after just the first paragraph, I was getting a feel for what was going on in this person’s life. Not always so easy to do, in so few words.

      And what’s in a name? Not just “Hope” (awesome), but even your choice of “Maryanne”, perhaps the name of a girl who once attended Catholic school, and who’s parents made sure the grand-baby went to a couple who would honor that faith tradition. It all made perfect sense! Those are the “little things” that can make a piece of writing pop.

      Great job!

        1. Pattypans

          Kerry, JR, and Smallster, thank you very much for taking your time to read and comment. Such specific comments, whether they’re about what worked or didn’t work for you, are very helpful. I appreciate yours.

  28. CK42

    It is just the two of us now – me and the kid, the snotty little intern with the needlepoint nose and the thin wire frame glasses. It’s 10pm and he’s still walking by my door every 15 minutes like he’s not sure he’ll make it to the bathroom in time. Except the bathroom is the other way, so where the hell is he going?

    “Hey kid,” I say.

    His feet shuffle as he stops, but he doesn’t come back. “What?” he says, like I’m keeping him from something.

    “What you doing?”

    “I’m busy,” he says.

    “I didn’t ask you if you’re busy. I asked you what you’re doing.”

    “A project.”

    “What project?”

    He doesn’t say anything. I can’t see him, but I know he’s standing there with his finger up his nose trying to yank out some good idea. Well, enough’s enough. I pull the post-its out of my drawer and slap them on the desk. “Get in here,” I say.

    His feet shuffle some more and he appears in the doorway looking like a deflated balloon. I make a mental note to talk to Marty about his criteria for selecting interns.

    “What?” he says.

    “Don’t what me, I’m asking the questions here. Sit down.”

    He sits down.

    “It’s 10pm. What you still doing here?”

    “A project.”

    “Yea?” I point to the post-its on the desk. “The post-it project?”

    The kid shifts in his chair, and a see the flicker of a smile creep up in the corner of his mouth as he eyes his handy work. He doesn’t say anything, so I don’t say anything. I just sit there as the silence fills the air. I like the silence. When you’re in charge, the silence is your friend. You embrace it, so when it thickens with each passing second, you can breathe it freely, while the other guy chokes on it and spits out some words he doesn’t mean to just so he can breathe again. We sit there for a good ten minutes before the kid squirms in his chair.

    “Can I go?” he says.

    “No, you can’t go. I want you to tell me what these are supposed to mean?” I said, holding one up and reading it. “Why did I do it?”

    “I didn’t write those.”

    “The hell you didn’t. I’ve asked everyone else in this damn office, except the interns.”

    The kid smiled wide. “So you took that post-it to everyone? Charlie? Sam? Even Becky?”

    I squint at him. He’s sitting upright now like someone just blew him up. “Get your damn elbows off my desk,” I tell him. He doesn’t move though. He just smiles that big, toothy smile, and his eyes squeeze together so I can barely make out his beady little pupils.

    He leans in close and I can smell the sourness in his breath. “I bet they’re wondering now,” he says. “I bet they’re wondering what you did that was so awful that someone leaves you notes at night.” He lets out a high pitched chuckle. “Maybe they’ll all find out soon.”

    “You threatening me?”

    “This is a nice office,” he says, rubbing his hands up and down the arms of the chair. “I really like it.”

    “Tomorrow, you’re out on your ass. I’m talking to Marty.”

    “Perfect,” he says, still caressing the chair.

    I tell him to go but he just sits there, looking around and nodding his head, and rubbing that chair like he’s going to propose to it. I stay for a minute and finish up some work, but the room starts to get hot, and the air thick. I tug at my tie. Then I pull it off. I tug at my collar. That doesn’t help either. I need some air.

  29. DMelde

    Chester Creakmore didn’t remember dying. He remembered buying a newspaper, and he remembered dashing across the street to go to work, and then, nothing.
    “How am I supposed to move on,” Chester wondered, “if I can’t remember how I died?”
    He kept trying to remember, and he soon settled into being dead.
    At first, death was fun for Chester. He liked scaring the TND, the Temporarily Not Dead. Sometimes, he’d lie underneath little Johnny’s bed at night and moan, until little Johnny’s eyes were as big as saucers. He’d rearrange peoples’ furniture, and make forts out of their kitchen chairs. But after a few months, Chester got bored with scaring people.
    Then he came up with a new idea. He became a superhero with a superpower; “the phantom fart” and he called himself the Mighty Fartini. His favorite location was a crowded elevator, where he would use his superpower. Everyone in the elevator would freeze, motionless. All conversation would stop, as each blamed the other for the smelly, dastardly deed. Afterwards, Chester listened as people described the smell as something “like a dead, wet skunk with diarrhea”. Then, this too, grew boring.
    In order to fight his growing boredom, Chester started hanging around his wife.
    “I guess she’s my ex-wife now.” Chester thought gloomily. “At least she seems happy.”
    She certainly had moved on quickly. She found a new boyfriend, and they were planning on getting married, until one night when his ex-wife found out that her new boyfriend was cheating on her. She confronted him, and when he confessed, and he said that he really didn’t love her, she started yelling.
    “I wish I had never killed my husband so I could be with you!” she shouted, crying, as he left her forever.
    Chester overheard this, and it all came flooding back to him. He remembered all of it now. He hadn’t dashed across the street, but rather, he was pushed in front of a bus. He remembered looking back as he fell, to see his wife standing there with a smile on her face. Chester was in shock.
    “Why?” he asked himself.
    He left messages at her work, “Why did you do it?”, and every day she came in to find one of his notes on her desk. At first, she thought it was her ex-boyfriend leaving them, but eventually she came to recognize the handwriting as that of her deceased husband, and she shook her head in disbelief. One night, she stayed late at work hoping to talk to him, but he didn’t appear.
    Anger started growing inside Chester.
    “She could have just divorced me.” Chester fumed.
    He decided there was only one thing to do. This situation called for a superhero with a superpower. From that time onward, wherever she went, the Mighty Fartini would be there too. People would shun her like they would a dead, wet skunk. Chester had found his goal in death, and he basked in the sweet smell of revenge.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        I loved the story. Chester really needs a partner on this project. He should arrange for her to adopt a rescue dog. A Great Dane with intestional problems.

    1. LizzieC

      DMelde, I thought this was a wonderful story and it really made me laugh. It shows a really twisted sense of humour – just what I like! My husband and son both read and enjoyed it. I would love to send it to my Yoga teacher but I realize that can’t cut and paste it so will be sending her the link.

  30. BL

    I was exasperated to once again find the post-it note in the center of my desk reading “Why did you do it?” This began two weeks ago and I finally made up my mind to put an end to it.

    I went to the principal’s office and told Mr. Niles that I intended to stay all night in my classroom and find out who was leaving these notes. He tried to discourage me, to no avail. I went home right after school ended for the day, changed clothes, grabbed my sleeping bag, some reading material and a few papers to grade during my all-nighter before darkness set in, fixed a sandwich, and headed back to school.

    I made sure all the windows were locked and closed all the blinds. I arranged the students’ desks so that I had several clear paths straight to the door, just in case I had to make a run for it when the intruder arrived. I pulled two large bookcases away from the corner wall and set up my sleeping bag behind them, making camp for the night, and waited.

    The clock showed 2:17 a.m., and I must have dozed off shortly after that. I was in a deep sleep and was suddenly awakened by the creaking sound of my classroom door and then footsteps coming into the room. It was pitch black and all I could see was a flashlight beam moving towards my desk.

    Startled, I realized it was the intruder! He was here and I was faced with confronting him right now. Why hadn’t I made a better game plan? Why didn’t I have a fool-proof plan of action? Why didn’t I have a buddy waiting out in the hall?

    I can’t let this guy know I’m here until I’m ready for the element of surprise. I have to wait for the right moment and then lash out with my spotlight and catch him red-handed. Then I’ll block the doorway and find out what it is he thinks I did.

    In his flashlight’s beam, I see him reach out and put the note down. I jump into action and put my light on him. “Stop!” I yell, and then recognized my old college buddy, Travis, and ask what he thinks he’s doing.

    “Remember the tee shirt incident – August, 2002?” I flash back and suddenly it comes to me. I start laughing and foolishly reply, “Are you kidding me? Is that what this is all about? That was five years ago!” Travis tells me in no uncertain terms that that is exactly what this is all about and informs me that he still gets a lot of ribbing from that incident. He starts laughing, looks me straight in the eye and tells me revenge is so sweet. His last words to me before leaving were, “You know, it’s amazing what you can do with today’s computer technology. Be sure to check your Facebook page tomorrow. There’s a tee shirt surprise waiting for you.”

    1. Amy

      I would like the tee shirt incident of 2002 to be fully disclosed… It must have been traumatic for Travis! Maybe we’re all wrong and he didn’t go far enough… Good writing.

  31. Amy

    I didn’t even hear the door open. I had been so immersed in the ‘Bradshaw’ case, sifting through a mountain of boring medical testimony, that the tiny squeak of the hinges went unnoticed. The click of the knob as it latched closed was what pulled me out of the tedium of paperwork. I glanced at the clock on my computer; 1:59am. Couldn’t the prick have come a little earlier? I was still hoping to salvage a night’s sleep out of this whole stakeout idea.

    I ducked my head beneath the top of my cubicle and slipped around the wall to Jaime’s next door. I was going to catch these bastards if it was the last thing I did. I knew who it was; Adam and his band of flying monkeys were sort of the office pranksters. They pulled the same crap on all the new paralegals. Jaime told me her first month in the office was spent peeling plastic wrap off her chair and keyboard every morning. It had to be them. When I asked her what she did to make it stop, she said she started sleeping with Adam. Since my standards were slightly higher than a Punk’d wannabe, I decided to catch them in the act.

    I waited, listening to quiet footsteps pad around the corner and toward my desk. How they could even tell one desk from another was a mystery to me; since we moved around a lot and there were quite a few paralegals in the office, we weren’t allowed to keep pictures or personal items on our desks. “Think of them more as workstations,” our boss told us. That didn’t stop us from laying claim, though. When I heard the prankster slump into my chair and the swish of liquid in a bottle, I sprang out from behind the wall.

    “Ah ha!” I yelled. The man slumped over my desk turned, vodka bottle in hand, and stared at me wide-eyed. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in days, or showered for that matter. I stopped short and frowned, recognition dawning. It certainly wasn’t Adam.

    “Steve? What the hell are you doing here?” I recognized him from the Christmas party last year, his arm wrapped tightly around Jaime the whole night.

    “I… wait, what are you doing here?” he asked.

    “I’m, working. Are you looking for Jaime’s desk?”

    “Uh, yeah. She asked me to get something for her.”

    At two o’clock in the morning? Right. “Hers is that one.” I pointed to the cubicle next to mine.

    We both stared at each other as he moved slowly to her desk and then rummaged in a drawer for a minute. I waited for him to write the post-it note I had been getting for the last week but he didn’t. He turned to me and looked like he was about to say something but then thought better of it and walked out of the office.

    I returned to my desk, grabbed my stack of post-its and wrote my own note to leave on Jaime’s desk:

    Hey hussy, your husband has a question for you. You may want to give him a call.

        1. Amy

          You are the first to point out my lack of titles, Kerry. Titles are kind of the bane of my existence. We do not get along, titles and I. I don’t know why, but for some reason I have an exceptionally difficult time putting a title on things, so all my work remains title-less. Could be some form of committment-phobia… Maybe the wonderful editors of Writers’ Digest could put together an informational article about composing a title… I know I would read it. 😉

    1. CK42

      You’re fairly active on this feed, so I decided to read yours and reply, solely with the idea in mind that I would give feedback that wasn’t unnervingly positive.

      Good idea for a 500 word post. Poor choice of approach.

      500 words is enough to create a scene. We’re already invested in your main character because of the constraints and instructions of the prompt. Any prompt of 500 words or less requires a minimalist approach. Read Hemingway’s “The Tradesman’s Return” or one of my favorites “The Killers” for how to create conflict, stakes, and characters in the span of 250 words or less.

      Dialogue. Action. Tone. Concision.

      There is conflict in your scene, but you only come to it in the last 100 words. Expand those words into 500 and see your story get some legs.

      Sorry if I sound like I lack empathy for a fellow writer…but I lack empathy for everyone.

      1. Amy

        Although I appreciate the feedback, I’m not sure why you would read solely for the purpose of giving a reply that was not positive. I will be the first to admit that sometimes the “great job” or “nice story” replies bore me to tears and are somewhat unproductive, but that doesn’t mean we should all seek to be negative.

        I also agree on your opinion of a minimalist approach to a short (500 word) story; I would preach to the choir about how continually challenging this is, but I see you have a serious lack of empathy, so I’ll keep my mouth shut on that one.

        I’m going to have to disagree with you about being automatically invested in the main character because of the constraints and instructions of the prompt; If anything, I think the constraints of the word limit create an even bigger challenge to engage a reader and make them give a hoot about the person/people you are writing about. I have read many a short story, in which I didn’t care what happened to the characters at all because they were not developed in the slightest. Hemingway is definitely the king of minimalism, but I find his style incredibly dry and I feel he can even be lacking in imbuing the reader with a concern for his characters.

        I agree that my story may not have had a ton of dialogue, the stakes were not particularly high, nor was there an intense amount of conflict, but I did my best to follow through with the idea in my head in 500 words. Again, I appreciate your feedback; it is nice to hear where I can improve.

        1. Pattypans

          Sorry, the above post was meant to be put right under CK’s comment.

          Amy, I think positive feedback is helpful in at least two ways. First, we can see that our story seemed to have worked for at least one person, or for the number of people who gave even a short, positive comment. Second, I think all of us need encouragement, and it certainly encourages most of us when we get a sincere positive comment. And when the positive feedback is specific, we learn even better what worked. Of course, specific constructive criticism can teach us what doesn’twork as well. I know we all know that, and probably wouldn’t post here if we didn’t welcome all sorts of sincere input.

  32. Tigger987

    My first submission … Looking forward to your feedback.

    I can’t say that my decision to stay at the office all night alone was one of my best ideas. Once I ran out of work about midnight my imagination seems to be getting the best of me. Everyday for a month now I arrived to my office to find a note asking “why did you do it?” That question has played over and over in my mind, in my dreams and even in my nightmares. Why did I do what? What did I do? I have always taken care to be a good person. I have done nothing that should bring about the rising terror I feel with each note. What have I done wrong and who is tormenting me like this?

    Spending the night at the office seemed like the only way to get to the bottom of this. However, now at 3:39am I feel scared, alone and very vulnerable. Too scared to even leave my office and head home for a few hours sleep. What had I been thinking. I will just have to wait it out and hope that tonight my presence will be enough to ward whoever it is off. As I reached for my iPod the ding of the elevator door broke through the silence like gunfire. My heart was racing, my palms sweaty and my breathing was erratic. Before me stood a teenage boy, who looked vaguely familiar. He was as surprised to see me as I was him.

    Before I could utter a word he whispered “please tell me why you did it?” I was too scared to speak.

    “You didn’t answer my question, tell me why you did it?”

    Breathing deep, feeling braver now that it appeared he wasn’t going to hurt me I asked “Who are you?, where do I know you from? and most importantly why did I do what?”

    The young man collapsed on the couch in my office and began to weep uncontrollably. “Why did you save her? Why did you give her back her life, my life, I need to know?”

    Nodding my head slowly, I understood now. I was told the woman who received my bone marrow was dying from leukaemia and that she was a single mom of a teenage son. I had been told that I was her last hope. I responded to a televised plea for donors. Before me stood her son.

    “your mom, is she okay?” He looked up at me with a great big smile and tear stained cheeks.

    “Thanks to you, yes. She is in complete remission but I don’t understand why you did it?”

    How do you explain to a young man why you made a decision that you don’t even understand.
    “I saw her face, your face looking out to the world with pleading eyes. The news anchor asked for bone marrow donors to come out to be tested, he said this was her last hope, your last hope. After seeing the two of you and your love how could I not at the very least try?”

    “You saved her life, our life. I would have lost the only parent I have ever known. They wouldn’t tell us who you were. Donor privacy and all that but I couldn’t let it go, I had to know why and most importantly I had to say Thank you.”

      1. Tigger987

        Don, Thank you for taking the time to read my submission and for your feedback. Your right about the ending, I ended up editing approx 250 words that I went over and edited out the explanation. I will keep this in mind when editing short stories, as I said this was a first for me. Thanks again.

    1. Amy

      A good story, but I am in the same boat as don potter- why the mysterious ‘thank you’? Some minor capitalization and verb tense issues, but otherwise, a good write.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          Heartwarming story, Tigger. Only a small suggestion, some hint from the teenager how he discovered she was the donor. It could be a vague refference.

          Welcome to the forum. Look forward to your next post.

          1. Tigger987

            Thank you Kerry. This has been a wonderful lesson in editing for me. I was approx 250 words over and I managed to edit out all explanations for how this situation came to be. Thank you for the warm welcome and the feedback. I am still slowly figuring out the site.

    2. smallster21

      Welcome Tigger 🙂 Heart-warming story. I agree with the others–I wondered how this boy found out that she was the donor and why he went about saying thank you in such a mysterious manner. Sounds like you know the answers to these questions, which you mentioned you edited out. With the word limit, we have to learn to edit our stories down and piece together what is and what isn’t necessary to tell an effective story. That said, the facts you left out didn’t make the story any less powerful in my opinion. I believe you added what was needed to build the emotional aspect of the boy’s motives, and I enjoyed reading. Should you build upon this prompt, then you can expound upon the motives and the answer the questions we raised.

      1. Tigger987

        Smallster21,Thank you so much for your feedback. For me editing has always been a challenge which is why writing these prompts is so helpful to me. I am happy to hear that you enjoyed the read, that made my night.

  33. tmcasler

    Coffee. I needed coffee, or perhaps just a small catnap. I stood up and tried to shake sleep off of my body. It was 4am and I had yet to move from my cubicle for a bathroom or coffee break. With my luck that’s when my mysterious friend would appear. I had run out of work to do about an hour before and had just been absently scrolling down Pinterest. I thought more than once about just giving this whole thing up, it was crazy anyways. Yet, the simplicity of the question presented to me each morning scraped against my nerves in a truly irrational way. At first it had the power to conjure up every single mistake I had ever made, and from there its power spread to making me question every decision ever. What was I doing with my life? Why did I eat Chinese last night? Why had I cancelled my date with that guy six years ago? I was exhausted and it had to stop. So I here I was in an act of desperation.
    I was reading 101 Slow Cooker Sensations when I heard someone enter the office. I had the sudden feeling like when I would play hide-and-seek in my youth and my wonderful hiding spot was in danger of discovery. I slowly peeked my head over the cubicle wall to look at the direction of the door. “Why?” Before I could turn around of my own volition, calloused hands grabbed my arms, spun me, and pushed me against the desk. I was staring directly at a janitor name badge that read: Micah. Looking up I saw a surprising handsome man about the same age as me. The absurd thing was that I found myself both afraid and yet strangely attracted to him with his sharp cheekbones and piercing brown eyes. He was so well-groomed that I instantly guessed the janitor uniform to be a disguise. “Wh-why did I do what? I don’t -” I was cut off by another hard shove as he hissed, “Just tell me why. That’s all.” He seemed equally angry and pained, as though the question haunted him as much as it had me. I became speechless and simply shook my head to demonstrate my lack of knowledge. He let out a grunt of frustration and began to shake me and yell, “Why?” over and over. Then in the middle of his rage he yelled, “Please, Karen, why did you do it?”I found my voice, “Karen? I’m not Karen. Do you mean Karen Whitefield?” He stopped suddenly and studied me.
    “Karen Whitefield” I pressed, “She works here. She has the cubicle next to mine. Look.” I showed him my employee ID. “See?” He let go of me and took a step back. Then without warning he rushed into the other cubicle and in another fit began tear apart poor Karen’s cubicle. His hand found a sharpie and after a brief pause he wrote in big letters across the wall, “Why?”. He stopped, panting, and turned to look at my frozen form staring back at him. He wiped a hand across his brow and gave me a slight nod as he turned and walked resolutely away. Trance broken I called after him, “Why what? Wait. Why what? You have to tell me.” No answer. I screamed at his back “Why did you do it?”

    1. Amy

      Excellent. Descriptive without being boring. I love the turn around at the end, where she is yelling the same thing at him. Love it. On a side note, paragraphs would add icing on the cake. And the hours that must be wasted scrolling on Pinterest… mind boggling, I’m sure.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Excellent write. I agree with Amy. Paragraphs bring an instant stop and a restart on the next paragraph. A page full of words looks friendlier and inviting with paragraphs.

        Putting the monkey back to him, makes a great ending.

    2. tmcasler

      Thank you everyone. I agree I need to implement paragraphs. I tend to just quickly write out all the words in my head without any pauses or breaks.

    3. smallster21

      Lol, I was laughing as I pictured the janitor going ape-shit in Karen’s cubicle. Very fun imagery. I also agree with everyone else, creating paragraphs would make the narrative flow much nicer.


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