The Rough House: The place where you can submit to the prompt. Then decide whether to take your rough draft to the next level.
"Yeah, we play around in here. But you can still get hurt.' 'House' carries an implicit dedication, because all houses are dedicated. 'Yeah, we play around in here, but we don't fuck around. Keep your nonsense posts to the nonsense threads." -Utah (All Around LitReactor Badass.)
1. You can either submit a story to the workshop labeled "The Rough House: Weekly Prompt".
2. You can submit a 500-1000 word story on here.
This is like a more directed 'Flash me' - but I'll play along.
I just wrote this - like a 25 minute explosion - so forgive the roughness of its character
And I did to a little Combo - I used the picture as my inspiration, but I used another bend for my writing style. If you want to know what that is, just ask. If not, I'll keep it under my hat.
Here it is. All 567 words of it.
Took it out - gonna try to submit it.
What was the bend?
Very strong words and well written. I liked this.
The lamp flickers. It's eight o' clock and she's late. I've been waiting for at least an hour, maybe more.
My hands are snuggled in my pockets and I feel like lighting a cigarette. I smoke, not because I need to calm down or to get a high. I smoke because it gives me something to do. It makes people around me less suspicious. Me occupying myself instead of just standing around like a thug gives them ease of mind.
My mind is racing with the plans for the night. What should we do together? Where should we go? Should I pick a place that's subtle or extravagant? These thoughts bounce around in my head like ricochet bullets, not one of them hitting anything good.
My legs are tap, tap, tappining away. I'm nervous, but I don't know why. This isn't any big deal. It shouldn't be, because I'm confident. Not overconfident, but just enough so I feel comfortable.
A lady walks by me, glances in my direction, and smiles. I can't tell if it's an easy smile or a forced one. By that I mean when you're in an awkward situation and you smile out of nervousness. The other type of smile is sincere and friendly. She's not who I'm waiting for either.
The lamps dies out with a pop*. It'll be weeks before that light is replaced.
I'm shrouded in shadows.
I feel the lint in my pocket and play with threads. The ridges from the thread between my fingers keeps me busy, for the time being.
A moment later my hand bumps into something. What is it? An item I may have forgotten. It feels leathery and moist. Then I realize what it is.
It's the woman I had killed earlier, the one who I was supposed to meet.
"Joel, you up?"
I hear that mousy voice in my head, and for a minute, try to ignore it.
"Joel, you up, buddy? Today's the day."
He hadda go and remind me. And here I been tryin' not to think about it. Actually managed to grab a few hours of shuteye last night.
"Yeah. Yeah, Clarence, I'm up." I tell him.
I roll my big ass over and toss off my shabby old blanket. It doesn't look like much now, but this blanket was once a comfy swaddle. My ma used to drape it over me when I'd come in from the cold, after school. Always put a smile on my face.
But these days its lookin' just like me. Ragged. Filthy. Washed up. Barely held together by threads. Guess time'll get us all, someday.
Sun's been up a while, and so has Clarence. Already folded his tarp and blankets neatly, and tied them with twine. He's just finishin' up a pudding pack, scrapin' every little bit of vanilla out of the bottom. He wipes his spoon clean with an old handkerchief and places it neatly in his backpack. What the hell kinda life is it where this passes as a man's breakfast.
"You think you're ready for this today, Joel, old pal?” he says. “Y'know I been thinkin' a lot about it, and I'm not sure you should be doin' this."
"Ah, don't be such a worry wart," I tell him. "It'll be over before ya know it."
He's been my best buddy for years now, Clarence has. True blue, that guy. Rare, out here, to find someone that'll watch out for ya like that. But that's how its been. I got his back, and he's got mine. Ever since we first met over on 14th. Little guy, looked like he could barely hold on. He hadn't eaten for almost two days, just skin and bones. But I got him back on his feet pretty quick. Showed him my secret spot behind Mr. Lo's. Nuthin'll get you feelin' ship-shape again, like good Chinese.
I get myself to a sitting position and inhale a deep breath, which gives me quite a coughing fit. Old lungs ain't what they used to be. But, I just spit that glorious mouthful of morinin' phlegm into the grass, and I'm good to go.
It's gorgeous out here. Early summer, in Memorial Park, nothin' like it. Trees lit with morning glow and adorned with song birds, piping out to a brand new day. Guess I should enjoy the peace while I can.
"Looks like its gonna be a beauty today, Joel." he says, lookin' up at the sky. "Guess we outta get goin' soon. You know how these things go."
"Well Jee-zuss, Clarence, yer startin' to sound like Janey now, God rest her soul." I say, and struggle up to my feet. "Nothin's gonna happen without us, ya know." He nods his head, looking at the ground.
"I mean, old Gunner will wait, that's all. Don't worry so much."
Ch'... Gunner. They called him that cuz of his years in the military. ... Now he's just an ol' vet who landed himself out here on the streets, with the rest of us. Guys got brass balls though, I'll give him that.
"Alright, old buddy, I'm ready, let's get movin." I say, and hoist my pack over my shoulder. We're off.
"Hey Joel, you ever wonder about just givin it all up? You know, just movin on to somewhere else? There's plenty of nice places around. Actually, I hear Newton is a pretty nice town." he says.
"Yeah, sure, I'll give it all up... just before they ship me off to the morgue!"
Moving on?? That's crazy talk. He doesn't seem himself today. A little nervous. Unsure. He says something else, but I can't really hear him. I'm busy throwin' lefts and rights, jabs and hooks. In my head, I got the fight of my life goin' on. A full ten-rounder. Nah, I ain't movin' anywhere. And ain't anybody gonna take this turf from me, not even this Gunner clown. He may have done his time in the service, but I did mine at Sal's Gymnasium. Lived and breathed that place. Worked my way up through the amateur ranks pretty well too. So what if that was 30 years ago, I still got it.
"Well, here we are." I tell Clarence as we round a small hill, coming into a secluded area. "And look, he's on time. Guess he does know how to tell the little hand from the big hand."
This spot was a good choice. A place I could really cut loose, without bein afraid of the cops comin' around. Gunner's standin' over on the far side, by a cluster of trees, just him and Roy, his second in command. It was part of the agreement that we'd only bring one other person, just in case things got out of hand.
"Nice of you to show up, old man!" yells Gunner. Always was a loudmouth. And what's this "old man" crap. He's 47 fer chrissake, he's only got 11 years on me!
"Well, someone tries to chisel Memorial Park away from me, it gets my attention." I tell him. "You that eager to eat some dirt today, wise guy?"
"Actually, Grampy, it's funny that you think that, but there's been a little change in plans. See, I decided I like this park so much, I'm just gonna take it."
As he says that, several ragged figures step out from behind the surrounding rocks and trees. It's his crew. That rotten coward!
"Sometimes it's better to use your brains." he says, flipping open a knife, and motioning his buddies in my direction.
"Son of a... ya lousy cheat! I'll murder ya!"
"Cheat? Don't you know there ain't no rules out here old man? You take things, however you gotta." he says.
"Better buckle up, Clarence, looks like this is gonna be a tough one." I say, looking over my shoulder.
Then I hear that mousy voice of his. "I'm real sorry, Joel. This is one battle I can't help ya with, old friend. We're both gettin' too old for this. I had to throw my hat in with the stronger team. It's a survival thing."
I feel my heart drop, lookin' into Clarence's eyes. Seein' my oldest friend, slowly backing away.
And then I feel the others closing in on me.
Ol' Sal never prepared me for anything like this.
Oh, the extra bend. I though it was cool. You may not. I would like to write a few shorts using it to see how it would play out on a larger scale. It has to do with audience. We write for specific people, right? Well, i wanted to play with the focus. So, i tried to write something monsters would like to read. Now, for variance, you can change the type of monster. Like - 'i wonder what the creature from the black lagoon would think was a good story?'. Jack the ripper? Bundy? Bigfoot? You name it. The skies the limit. The little blurb i wrote - i was thinking of the type of monster grendal's momma was. When i saw all that light coming through the trees with the street lamps still on i thought two things. 1) an alien ship is landing with the hi-brights on. 2) I'm a cave dwelling monster and all this light is freaking me out.
That's an interesting take. I've never thought of that. If you can could you submit another?
Want anything in particular?
No feel free unless you want me to post another prompt?
OK. No prob. Let's see how long it takes me
OK Panda - Here's another - not as good as the first in my opinion. I feel like I scratched the surface of a much bigger world here. Read it. I think you'll agree.
I put my origin thought at the end so as not to spoil the story. Enjoy - 510 words.
The First... Again
It sucks having eyes in the back of my head. Well, I don't mean really, but not really figuratively either. I took that picture up there, you know. Took it and developed it. All by myself. You may be impressed. People here in Kumtara sure are. Where I was born, up in a land the natives called Acumda, they aren’t impressed. Of course, they're a little different.
My father's name is Ira Gould. You probably don't know him and that's a pity. You see, he's one of the original man. At least that's what he says. To hear him tell, his stories of wars, of devastation, of sickness, of the new ones; they'd make a believer out of you. It doesn't matter if you don't believe me. Go up to Acumda. Take one of the icy boats. Peek around. When you see him you'll know.
Yeah, Dad looks different than everybody else. But so does everybody else, so, so what. The thing is you won't see another that looks like him ever again. There's something fundamental about him, like we all came from that mold, like he's some basic design everybody living today at one time agreed upon.
The Acumda. The name means 'Icemen.' Yea, it's cold. They are white and got skin like lobsters with little black freckles that make them hard to see in all the snow, moving or no. They're short, arms longer than legs. But, it's the eyes that's the real tell. They got little clear light bulbs on either side of their head with a pair of eyes on each, once facing forward, one back. Nothing can sneak up on them.
Pretty different when you consider what my Dad looks like. Now me... I honestly don't know how Dad did it. Maybe the Acumda had a procedure. Probably. The Acumda are scientists. You see. I'm a mix.
I look like Dad in most ways. Skins a little tougher, got less of a tan, got a few black spots, am a little shorter than most. But the eyes. Yeah... I've got two holes just like most. They face forward like some. But, each home has two 'eyes', like only the Acumda. Dad says that great, says, 'got the eyes of prey in the head of a predator.'
You'd think, Wow - that's awesome, and mostly you're right. Since traveling down here to Kumtara, people have looked at me sideways, have gave me a pretty wide berth, have cast those cautionary looks you give a wild animal that's a little too close for comfort. But, they worry, you worry, for the wrong reasons.
Like I said. Dad was from the old time, way before the war. He said he was frozen, said the Acumda thawed him out. He knows things. Things he calls Tech. He built the camera that took that picture. He built the two guns on my hip. You don't know what a gun is, I know. Wait and see. And don't forget, I've got four eyes to better see you.
This monster is post apocalyptical mutation with a twist. And again - the question I'm seeking to find a good answer to is, 'Would a monster want to read this?' I may try to write an official short story on this bend instead of a flash. hmmm.
LOL. Love the title. Nice work.
I like that one more Fritz Wolfe. It's really cool and interesting. Especially the descriptions. It feels so nonchalant when the narrator talks, but at the same time authentic.
Thank you Panda. Any particular reason why you wanted another? Enjoyed it. Fun idea.
I liked the style. I felt like I was really in someone's head which is interesting.
I've only written one short story in that style. Still new to it. I've been a basic 3rd person POV story writer mostly. Gotta love all those nuances out there.
It reminds me of Notes From the Underground. I never finished it, but from what I read it reminded me a lot of it.
Nice work, Fritz. I am becoming a fan of the bend. It's particulary amusing if you could hear the voice in my head that accompainies the reading.
Love the kudos - warms my heart and keeps that greedy muse fed.
What did I step in - as it relates to Voice and POV?
Review: we got:
Objecive POV - 1st person - 2nd person - 3rd person - and their variants (variant omniscient levels vs. limited) (combinations) (plural observers and collective observers) (streams) (shifting) - and everything in between
I'd like to call the style some variant of epistolary. hmmm.... writing letters to monsters? IDK. - how to expand and bridge?
@PandaMask - Didn't mean to butt into the thread. I've greatly enjoyed the stories by you and Dulouz. Awesome stuff. Worth developing. Guess I need to break down and spend 9$ a month and get it over with. I am so f'n cheap it is not even funny.
Yes. You are fucking cheap.
You pinch a penny so hard that Lincoln cries.
No, it's fine. As long as you post I don't mind haha.
The old man slouched on the park bench was a study in wrinkles – from the argyle socks crumpled around each brown loafer, up his crinkled trouser-legs, up his clusters of crows-feet that was his button-down shirt, to the ridged lines of his face, perpendicular to his corrugated forehead. Draped over all this, a waterfall of winkles cascading down each shoulder of what had to be a 100% cotton khaki raincoat. He looked the survivor from the epicenter of an implosion.
Jim’s bow-legs bowed themselves into an “O” as he lowered himself onto the bench. He settled back and crossed one ankle over the other.
“Been here long?”
“Ten or fifteen.”
Jim pinched the downturned brim of his woolen fedora and tipped the hat forward into his lap. He slapped both pockets of his long gray overcoat and patted their length and width until he heard the crackle inside the left pocket. Out of that pocket he lifted a brown paper bag. He dropped it inside the upturned fedora.
“Salted or not?”
“They are salted...”
“Well...hell. Sure. What’s it matter.”
The crackle and rattle as Jim poured a handful of peanuts into Carl’s upturned hand is the cue that brought the squirrels running each morning. From all points surrounding they converged: scampering, hopping, and chattering. They arranged themselves in a wide semi-circle before the bench and hopped and twitched in anticipatory agitation.
“How you feeling, Carl?”
“Just as I look. Don’t tell me I look good.”
“All things considering...you look just as you should.”
“Well,” says Jim, “How good did Ali look after his Frazier fights? You look better than that. Ali said the Manila fight was the closest he ever came to dyin’. That Frazier. Tough fucker. He was the man to beat – the heavyweight to beat.”
Carl harrumphed. He pulled a crooked hand-rolled cigarette out from inside his raincoat. Puh-chink, and a whiff of hot flint and butane. A green, woody aroma with hints of Jim’s late wife Joanne’s spice-rack carousel, one of the spices of which Jim knew the taste but never retained the name.
“Smoking that whacky-tobaccky again?”
Carl held his inhale for a moment, said “Yeah. Takes two real cigarettes to get rid of the taste of this shit.” Around ‘taste of this shit,’ puffs of smoke came out with the words. After ‘shit,’ a lung-emptying gray exhale. “You feeding them rodents again?”
“Yeah. Little scavengers. I like their capers. They do their dance for me, I pay them peanuts. I never thought I’d end up one of the old men feeding squirrels in the park,” Jim says, flipping an arc of peanuts wide and to the right. “But I’ll never be one of those old men sitting in the common room watching the game show channel.” Jim flicked peanuts wider and farther, giving the squirrels on the bottom-squirrel social order something to chase down, away from the alpha squirrels. “When we were kids we used to come to this park when it was twice the size it is now...”
Simultaneous with Jim, Carl says in chorus “Years ago...”
“Ha ha! Yeah, I was about to go on a nostalgia trip. Years ago, when swimmin’ in the pond was still allowed, we came to girl-watch. When they were sun bathin’, we could stare all we wanted with no dirty looks. In the water up to our chests, we could really watch - no one the wiser.”
Carl let another long gray cloud mushroom out. “Yeah. We did too. I remember. My brother used’ta grab me from behind and hoist me up outta the water, up over his head by my leg ‘n’ armpit with the tent in my shorts pointed at the sky. Jackass...”
“He’s not with us anymore?”
“Nah. Ninety-four. Went in for a backache he had for months, wouldn’t go away. Tumor in his lung the size of an orange. Surrounded by a bunch’a cherry-sized ones. And cherry-pit-sized ones ‘round that. X-ray looked like someone used it for target practice. Doctors gave him a year, and for once they were right. One year later, ninety-four. He smoked to the end. His wife tried to get him to quit. But why should he? That wouldn’t a been a good last year.”
Jim silently flicked peanuts with his thumb. Jim shook his head. Finally, said “Hmph.” They watched the squirrels chase down the peanuts, some breaking away to chase away a competitor, running in close circles and spiraling away, snapping teeth to fleeing feet.
Jim chuckled. “Run, you little varmints!”
Carl lifted his arms and stretched them up and out, over his shoulders, and let them settle outstretched on the park bench back. With his head leaned back, eyes squinted, he stared at the branches of the tree’s canopy spread out overhead. He puckered his lips around the short remainder of the joint, clenched between his teeth. He drew in deep, and closed his eyes.
After a minute of concentration on the flipping of peanuts, Jim asks, “How’s that shit doin’ for you?”
“Oh, it’s doin’ its job,” Carl says. “This blend is called A-42. Specially for chronic pain. Doesn’t screw with my head. What it does is, all the pain inside? Turns that pain to tingling. I know it’s there, but it don’t hurt.” The butt was burning down near to Carl’s lips, too close for comfort.
Jim was nodding, lips pressed together. Carl straightened his neck, lifted his head, opened his eyes. He brought one arm up, pinched the now-tiny joint between his thumb and the fingernail of his middle finger. Carl pulled the butt away, frowned at it, turned it in his hand, and flicked it away.
The smoldering butt flew in a high arc, landing ten feet away. A chattering fox squirrel broke from the squirrel huddle, straight to where the butt landed. Bent over the butt, tail twitching.
The squirrel stood up on its hind legs, with the still smoking butt of the joint poking out of its mouth. The joint waggled up and down. The squirrel dropped to four legs and ran off to the tall trees with its smoking prize, tailing a thin finger of smoke.
In sync, Jim and Carl turned on the bench until they faced one another, their eyes wide. Jim’s mouth hung open in surprise. A younger-looking face poked out of Carl’s wrinkles.
Carl stammers, “Did I...what...am I stoned?!?”
Jim and Carl burst out laughing, each right in the other’s face.
Startled, the squirrels scattered back to all points away. The explosive barks of laughter scattered the varmints for the time being.
Absolutely love your style. Can't wait to check out the rest of it..
It was just as I expected.
Boone you are:
Yay - affirmations! Seriously, thanks. Being here and reading your stuff lights a fire.
For me, it's the J. Dulouz piece.
There's a new prompt up right on top. I promise no more "parks" next week.
Yes, Boone, that story is tits.
And I agree with you on the Dulouz piece. Nice writing guys.
I'm sorry I barely just got to it. I've been distracted.
Damn it. Why did you leave it there? I want to know what follows!
I thought that ending was fine.
But I so want the MC to be, like 57 instead of 47. Or even Clint Eastwood doing an Every Which Way but Lose IV. Like this year. Eastwood should direct and act in it. An old man kicking ass.
Oh, wait. That was Gran Torino.
Gran Torino was the live action version of Up.
Haha it's from here.
Guess I will go first on the prompt. This is rough - just put it down - so take it for what its worth.
I didn't name it - will have to think about that one.
Took out - gonna try to submit
Way to roll Fritz.
Pandademic: that is fucking hilarious!
It needs a good cleaning... but oh' well
Ya know what i like about this thread? No? It is an awesome springboard. It calls for stories at a 1000 word limit. Chester have a firm 500 word limit on his flash. Most mags say 1000 is min for short. So after you write your prompt you. Can direct it to chester or workshop by cutting or expanding.
@ chester. Im gonna whittle down one of these sharp enough to stab ya.
@ workshop. Im gonna expound one enough to workshop as a short
Is an idea
Unedited n' messy, but I like it. 590 Words.
The walls are made of cheap plaster, the paint is peeling off, and most of the place is covered in water stains. The amusement park was built in the heyday of Disneyland. Back when you had parks popping up all over the states and globally. Everyone trying to mooch off the success. I come here every so often to clear my head. When I need to get away from society and escape my problems.
While I walk I usually picture what this park used to look like. Bustling with families, tourists, couples, and every other type of person imaginable. Kids tugging at their parents to buy them useless junk. Tourists taking pictures in front of some a nice scenic backdrop. Everyone dropping their worldly problems for just that day. A “live in the moment” kind of place. You're there for a time frame and you're someone else. You're free.
Now it's dead. Nothing but faded memories, dusty shops, shattered windows, and scrap paper drifting in the wind. It's like a ghost town.
It's almost evening as I notice the shadows stretch over the walls. The sun is setting and soon enough I'll be enveloped in the night.
I think about what led to the park's downfall. Maybe it was the cheap Disney rip-off mascots.
Mick the Irish Mouse. Or perhaps one of the coasters went off course. There was a story about some kid finding Mick the Mouse porking Poppy Pig behind some bushes. Supposedly the sexual act wasn't what confused him, it was the fact that Mick the Mouse was missing a head that lead him to the park authorities. What gets me is that Disney never had a pig for a mascot. That was always Looney Tunes.
It's night time now and it's completely dark. I'm not afraid. I know which spots to avoid.
If you smell stale beer and piss, you stay clear. The Haunted House is another place I avoid. It's not scary, but there's a crack fiend lurking in there. There's a key difference in danger when you have a plastic skeleton pop out at you or a deranged man with tract marks trying to kill you.
I decide to sit down on one of the benches and light up a cigarette. My eyes have adjusted to the darkness and I just glance over the area. Nothing new as always.
I'm about to get up when I hear music start to play. Soft at first, crackly, low, with a slight hiss. Then it builds up to a full orchestrated musical piece. It's happy and soothing. The kind of music that sets the tone for any theme park. But in this environment it doesn't fit. In the pitch black of night, when this park has been abandoned for decades, it's not good.
My muscles tense a little and I wonder if the crack fiend or anyone else got to the electrical room. How does this place still get power? I get up quickly, hug the walls, and am heading out when the lights come on. I hear the lights click in one section, then another, and finally mine.
The music is deafening and the lights are blinding. My eyes haven't adjusted.
I feel like running out of here.
I start walking fast, making sure my footsteps don't make too much noise. From behind me I start hearing click click click. They sound like footsteps.
I wheel around and one of the lights pops. I can't see anything, but someone is there.
There was an edit.
Instead of 750-1000 it is now 500-1000.
I'm going to post new prompts every Thursday.
If there are any suggestions let me know.
I currently am considering Cyberpunk prompt.
I like said 500-1000 for reasons stated above - in fact - I did what I said I'd try - I edited one of my stories for chester and am going to send a new 1400 word short based on my last submit to workshop - just for kicks - love this venue - is good.
Panda - I didn't read yours yet - I will soon.
so Whittle or Widen? that is the question - cool
Got u some suspense Built there. Setting and pace good, just enough of the internal to make us care about this dude. Good stuff
@Fritz: Geez, man, how old is that picture? It looks like we were both 75 pounds lighter.
Think that one was christmas the year of the cliff. . 96'. Ha
Good times. It does appear we were feeling Christmas-y.
Figured id give it a 24hr airing - plan in pulling it back into antiquity tonight
Don't let too many of these animals see how cute we were together!
*gives Fritz a sloppy smooch on cheek*
What the hell! I love Christmas pictures.
@Panda and Fritz and everyone else, well I increased the Flash Me to 1000 as you guys probably saw because I realized that people might produce something thanks to this fine thread and be like, schucks, I could submit this over there but Chester is so stingy with his word count that taking that aggressive of a knife to it would just flay it of its essence.
Anyway, good shit in here.
@chester. I loved the 500 word limit. Makes you accountable for your words. I kinda see this prompt thread as a rough draft creator. Afterward you decide - flash or short. Then u have to revise up or down depending on direction. Then its off to try to publish. Am i making myself clear? Idk. Im happy either way. I will continue to post roughs here based ob the prompts. Then i will whittle or widen , stab or expand. I think its a neat process. Im going to try it out for awhile