^ Someone's on a roll...
Booyah! This thread is so rad. There's something oddly liberating about being limited to three paragraphs.
Prompt from last entry: Go See Janis
Haha, I couldn't think of a new prompt, and my mom was telling me to go see Janis, our neighbor, to bring her some mail that got put in our mailbox. She kept saying it over and over, so I put it as the next prompt.
Ahh, I couldn't resist doing another, forgive me. Kind of rough. I'm still figuring out how to write.
Mommy's Little Sidekick
He tugs at my sleeve, stretching out the wool, pulls it down past my hand so that he can cling to it as we walk through the almost empty parking lot. My little boy, Mommy's little angel, the apple of my eye. He looks up at me with those eyes, a deeper blue than the star speckled sky above our heads. Eyes like his father, my husband. He looks up at me and says, "Mommy?" Lit up neon letters buzz, saying, NO-TELL MOTEL. In front of the word VACANCIES is a darkened NO. "Mommy," my son says again, "Are you angry at Daddy?" And I smile down at him, glad he's holding my sleeve so he won't feel how my hands are shaking.
"Of course not dumpling," I tell him. "We're just going through some stuff right now." I pull up the strap of the purse falling off my shoulder, brush hair out of my eyes. "Mommy's going to fix everything real soon baby-doll." We walk past the front window, the pimply young guy behind the glass watching television, something with explosions and gunshots. We walk past room 1A. His tiny fist still clutching at the stretched out sleeve of my left hand, we walk past room 1B. We walk past all the numbers, and stop between doors 12 and 13.
My son, the apple of my eye, he looks at me with those big old blues of his, and for a moment, the shape of his face, I can imagine, is that of my husband's, but filled with innocence and youthful naivete. I crouch down until my face is level with his, my green eyes meet his blue, and I whisper, "Baby boy. What number did you hear Daddy tell the pretty lady while I was at work?" I'm snapping open the clasps of my purse. And he lets go of my sleeve, leaving it too long for my arm. He mutters something, and I tell him to speak up. He says, "13." I reach into my purse, saying, "Good boy." And I pull out my husband's gun. "Let's go visit Daddy, shall we?" I aim at the Do Not Disturb sign on the doorknob and put my finger on the trigger.
New Prompt: Behind This Mask
For the record, I'm really not a poet...
Behind This Mask
Behind this mask I wear is where you'll find the real me.
But no, you won't find it, I won't ever let you see.
Behind this mask I wear is where I allow myself to feel
The world is so dynamic, so phony and yet so real
Behind this mask I wear is where it's muscled and sinewy
Because the mask that I wear looks exactly the same as me
Hobbits and Aliens
I have to admit, I have no ideas for that prompt! Doing some serious brainstorming.
Tortilla Chips, Microchips
Wires and cables lie looping around the legs of tables and shelves. A few rounds of caseless ammo stand next to a plastic handgun and an array of vaping units. Jinx, Enid and Bill continue their discussion.
"We're like Hobbits, you know? We eat, smoke, do our thing. Just chill."
"Nah. We're like aliens. Invaders from another galaxy. We're not like these people."
"Maybe we're like hobbits and aliens."
"Nah. Alien hobbits, man."
Outside, across the street in the panel truck, the Feds compose themselves after a laughing fit and prepare to enter.
prompt: Lightning Nuts & Bolts
Wow, this is really all I could make outta that. Hardly counts as a story, but so be it!
The first thing anyone ever notices about Marky is his feet. That's what he told me, and it's gotta be true. Even through the combat boots he wears, you can just tell they're too dang big for his body. "It's not my f-f-fault," he told me the first time we met on the side of Hollywood Boulevard while I rubbed lipstick off my teeth. Marky looked down at his over-sized clown feet and said, "It's genetics. And my mom told me to n-never be ashamed of who I was born as."
I leaned back, resting the butt of my leather pants against a palm tree, looked down at all of the stars on the floor, and stuck a cigarette between my lips. The cars rushing by in the street made a city breeze that threw my bright red bangs into my eyes, and I had to push my long hair back before bringing a lighter to my face. The filter of my cigarette stained black from my lipstick. Some buzzcutted fucking guy in a tank top walking past yelled, "Nice makeup faggot!" And I gave him the finger. Marky looked through his taped eyeglasses at me, said, "W-why do you w-wear all that...all that shit anyways?" He pointed at the bullet-belt on my waist. At the chain and padlock locked around my neck. My tattoos.
And I let my sunglasses slip down to the end up my nose, looking over the top of them to stare him straight in the eye. The end of my cigarette glowing cherry, twin jets of smoke streamed from both my nostrils.
"The way I see it," I told him. "You shouldn't be ashamed of who you become either."
New Prompt: Up my sleeve
Hahahah! I really dug that JYH.
Me too, amusing.
I'm sure this can be improved, but screw it.
Lightning Nuts & Bolts
It was at that age when everything becomes about getting off. That's when I made probably the biggest mistake of my life. It's just the simple progression for a kid that age, you storm out of the house into the windy dusk to find somewhere private, faraway, to clear your head. Then, staring at the boiling bruised purple sky, waiting for the branched forks of surging electricity to cut down through the black clouds, I'd whip my dick out and start jerking off.
After that it just became a thing for me I guess. The same way people like to have sex in public bathrooms, or get undressed with their curtains open, I loved to go lay on my back in some field, or on some hill. A silhouette of flattened grass underneath me, my pants unzipped, I'd watch the sky rage as my hand went up and down up and down, my Senior-class ring reflected almost black against the white skin of my dick. I always hoped someone would come along and find me, a voyeur, a cheerleader from my high school, anyone really, but on days so dark and rainy, everyone locked themselves indoors and pressed their faces to the windows, watching for that flash and counting for the boom. Which left me alone, masturbating in the wind.
I never would have guessed, what turned me off my fun wasn't an angry neighbor who saw my erection stabbing up over the layer of grass from his window. It wasn't a spider crawled up my buttcrack, either. What killed my fun, and nearly killed me, was the branching fork of light, a white-hot flash of radiance reaching down to touch my pumping fist, the metal ring on my finger.
New Prompt: Blood From Where?
"Me too, amusing"
^ How 'bout that?
Very good! Haha
Let me sit on it a bit.
Me too, amusing
"So what do you think?" He says this to me but keeps his eyes on the screen, the lenses of his glasses playing everything in miniature, a man tied up with a rope, a woman in a bathtub, splashes of red and flashing silver double projected over his eyeballs. It's not everyday he actually talks to me, so I cough and say, "Very g-good sir. Your best yet." Of course I say that, there's always the risk he'll snap and put me in one of his movies.
"Yeah? Is that what you think Carver?" He actually looks at me. Even when he talks he never looks at me. But he turns his head to the corner where I'm balled up with my arms around my knees, and the frames of his glasses go dark as they move away from the screen. The movie keeps playing, a dull thudding noise over and over, the muffled humming wails of screaming and crying behind duct-tape, and I'm looking at my dirty feet. I'm looking at the cracks in the concrete floor. Anywhere but his dark eyes. Carver's the name he gave me, like an assistants' title, which is what I guess I am at this point despite the chained leash around my neck tethering me to the wall.
Onscreen, his voice is saying something about his little angel, his filthy little angel. Onscreen, his voice barks, "Carver! My power saw." And I flinch in real life. I'm curled into a ball, as far into the corner of the room as I can be without being on the other side, outside, and there's just not a chance of that anymore. Not with all this blood on my hands. I stare at the dried blood, rusty brown wedged under my nails. Who knows how many people's DNA stained on my arms and clothes. He knows how many, he's filmed them all.
"You know what Carver?" he says, turns his head back to the movie and on his lenses a woman gets her leg ripped off just above the knee. He smiles at the screen. "Me too. Amusing."
New prompt: Where is everyone?
Bump! Come on people, play with me! Haha
I need to stretch my word muscles before I sit down and keep working on the second draft of my story.
I have to have one! I must! Oh, look at those wrappers, so shiny, so smooth, so perfect. I run to the stand and grab a candy bar. But I can't open it, not yet. Mommy has to pay for it. Oh, Mommy might not let me have it. I'll have to sneak it into the cart. That'll work, she'll never see.
Now where's the cart..? Mommy? Hey, where'd you go? Where's sissy? Daddy? Where is everyone? Oh no... I'm lost! I can't believe this is happening again! I knew I should have kept holding the cart, now what do I do? I'm on my own. I'll have to stay here forever, drop out of school, maybe even get a job!
Oh, there you are, hi. Why are you looking at me like that? Hey, hey- HEY! That's my candy bar! I want it I want it I want it! Noooo. Waaaahhh!!! Give it back! Waa- ooo, my toy monkey. Hey, this thing's fun, look, it's climbing up the cart. Where's my binky? Oh, okay, sure, I'll sit up here. La dee da...
Play with Me! (see what I did there?)
Haha nice! Good to see some life in here! I thought I drove everyone away.
Play with Me!
My baby girl's never been more full of life. Every night when I'm up late with my glass of whiskey she comes and finds me and begs me to play with her. Haven't had a good night's sleep since last winter. But I play with her. She's my sweetheart and I love her to death.
She always wears those pajamas with the little purple airplanes flying around on them. She loves those pajamas. I bought them for her for her last birthday. She always wears them. They're getting kind of dirty, the knees are torn, and you can still see the tear on the shoulder and leg from her accident last year. Maybe I should get her some new ones before she goes back to sleep again.
I wish she could stay. The best part of my night is when I look out the slats on the window to the front yard and see her limping across the lawn, her bare feet leaving muddy footprints as she comes up the front steps, and her voice, the voice I remember, the voice that'll never get any older, saying, "Play with me Daddy! I wanna play!" I wish she could stay. The worst part of my night is when the sky starts to lighten. When the whiskey bottle runs dry and my hands shake too much to go find another. And I have to take her by the hand, her little rotting hand, and walk her back down the street with a shovel to the cemetery where I always bury her.
New Prompt: Back on top
Nah, it's more of a comes-in-phases thing with this thread.
Makes sense. I tend to go underground a lot. Keep getting pulled back into here though. This three-paragraph stuff can be so much fun.
you'll want some vit D if you don't surface for a while...
Plenty of sun. Too much of it.
Hell is a closet, really. Walls that inch closer every day and a ceiling that sinks into me every night. The bed is a bench, and my mattress yesterday's clothes and a soiled rug. Everything here is coated in villainy, even light from the window - even me. From my hell, I pour out into the day, connecting one step to another til they are blocked by a timeclock.
Punch in. Don some goggles and earplugs and mask and someone's spare gloves because mine got caught between some gears the day before. Eat the baloney and cardboard bread with black handprints. Drink water from a spigot and spit gravel all afternoon. Nod to the foreman, throw away the mask and the earplugs. Goggles and gloves get shoved into my pockets along with two gnarled, heavy hands. Punch out.
Back in my hell, the radio reminds me of everything I left, everything I could not afford because the accounts of my conscience are not flush or overdrawn. They're closed. But someday, with enough penance even I can be back on top and my ledger can once again be bathed in black, instead of all this dark and dripping red.
new prompt: paper bag people
C'mon people, this is always fun and takes so little time. What writing exercise takes less time than this? Plus, with three paragraphs, you have enough room to possibly find the seedling of a best-seller.
newest prompt (again): paper bag people
I've been mulling your prompt over. I have an idea, but I'm trying to figure out how to execute it.
Paper Bag People
Paper Bag People
Baby Holly starts to cry in my arms. Her face gets all red, but you can't hear her over the dinging bright flashing lights and children's screaming laughter, their pockets jingling with gold tokens and prize ticket ribbons as they run around. I pull out a pacifier and put it in Holly's mouth. The guy I met online looks back over his shoulder at me. "Let's go lady," he says. "They ain't gonna wait. You want your kid in dontcha?"
"What? I thought you said she was perfect," I say. "You said if we showed up you could make her all better. Give her her future back."
He sidesteps a merry-go-round, and as we walk into the room for birthday parties, the guy from the ad online reaches into the inside pocket of his jacket and pulls out a stack of paper bags, the sort I used to use to pack sack lunches for my husband and first baby Stevie before their car accident. He hands one of the paper bags to me and I unfold it with my free hand. It has cut-out eyeholes. "She is," he says. "She looks just like what we had in mind." He looks around the empty birthday hall. Then unfolds one of the paper bags and slips it over his head, his eyes peeking out the holes. "But my. Associates. Are very, very busy. And there are other candidates. Put that on." In my arms I can feel Holly trembling. I stroke my hand through what hair's left on her head, and then I slip the paper bag mask over my face. This guy, he just doesn't understand. I have to save my baby. She's all I've got left, and I'm not going to lose her to death too. No matter what.
We stop in front of a door that blends into the wall. He knocks on it three times, then twice, then once. Someone wins the jackpot at ski-ball and my heart beats faster than the tickets come spitting out into their hands. All I hear's the sound of running, laughing, living children from behind us and Holly coughing around her binky. Then the door cracks open and a paper bag face leans out and looks at us. "This the child?" A woman's voice. The ad guy nods, and she lets us into a room lit by candles, and in the dim light, six paper bag people stand in a circle around a table. Before I can even think, the woman grabs Holly from me. I go to follow her, but the guy from the ad stops me with a hand on my arm. She carries my baby girl over to the table where the paper-faced silhouettes stare down at the chalk-drawn star under Holly. One of the figures reaches into his jacket and pulls out a smaller bag, child-sized eyeholes. Pulls the pacifier out of her mouth. Slips the bag over my little girl's face.
They chant, "From knowledge bestowed on us by our own divine creator, death is but something we choose to concede to. By his grace we spill this child's blood and remove her from the illusion of the End. May she find infinity." One by one they each pull out a knife. I tear the mask off my face, pull away from the guy who posted the ad that made me believe in immortality and run screaming at the circle. One of them turns. And slips his knife into my neck.
Bumping up a prompt I left on the last page for someone to grab.
New Prompt: Live or Die
Someone should pass through and drop a bunch of prompts in here. I've been wanting to try some experiments, and my brain's making excuses against figuring out a new project.
Ooookay, here are some prompts for you:
Someone should pass
I've been wanting
Brain's making excuses
A new project
Try some experiments
Drop a bunch
Hahaha fuckin Thuggish! Good stuff, thanks. Someone sent me Sad Sorry Soldier, and I just wrote that, so I know it's cheating but I'm gonna stick that in here with a new prompt. Maybe someone'll grab it.
Sad Sorry Soldier
Voices shout through so much stone I can't make out the words, but it doesn't matter. I wouldn't understand them anyways. The dust in my eyes and the smell of weeks gone by without running water or a latrine remind me of how far from home I am. My shattered arm and three fingers snapped at wrong angles remind me I'll probably never get home. And that hurts much, much worse.
A cave doubles as a cell doubles as the backdrop for my second by second tug-of-war with insanity. Memories of Gina and Kevin Jr. stapled to the side of my psyche are the only thing to distract from the out of sight echoing drip of cave water that I can't help but turn into Morse code. As if Sarge and the crew could send me news of rescue through fucking drops of water. As if they'd even come after a deserter like me.
At this point, the sun's a childhood fantasy. As out of reach as Santa and the Tooth Fairy and Uncle Sam. All my training, all that rifle-assembling and 8-count pushups, none of it prepared me to see a kid half the age of my son put the end of his AK to my bunk-mate's stomach and spray his guts all over my face like red pudding in a fan. And as the voices in some other language get closer and louder, and start to make less and less sense, I realize that drop of water, the Morse-code stay-of-execution from above, is actually ticking away the last moments of my life, and I could count them and maybe that would make some difference. But instead, I cling with every last drop of blood to the memory of the last time I ate supper with my wife and little boy.
New Prompt: Dig a Hole
Brain's Making Excuses
The passing whine of a car horn pulls me out of the argument with myself and I take a wave of gutter water to the face. A light turns red and the ocean-sound of the city rushes from another direction. Jump. Jump in the street. Do it now. My foot slips off the wet curb into the the litter floating in the tiny urban river headed for the sewer down by the crosswalk, and the light turns green.
Wait, wait. Don't do it. Car. Car. I step forward and back at the same time, my heel slips, and I fall. An orange bus drives over the spot where my body woulda been if my feet had kept going instead of tripping backwards onto the sidewalk, and I get the ghost-feeling of glass, metal, and 30 people plus the driver flying past with one steering wheel twitch crushing all of me under all of it. Another unfulfilled possibility.
"I can't believe the city just lets these people run around the streets. Keep walking Jill, don't look at him."
I look around for the voice that came from outside my head, but everywhere I look people are staring down at their shoes. I look down at mine too and notice I'm not wearing any. Barefoot except for one sock the same color white as the paper cups and flattened styrofoam boxes in the gutter. When I try to stand, something from behind shoves me into a mailbox, and I hear kids laughing. Kids. Male. Man. My brain coughs up a memory from yesterday, the guy from the park. Said he could help me. Gave me his card, and I put it in my—the passing whine of a car horn pulls me back to the city street. I spin to look at the cars. Jump. Jump in the street. Do it now.
New prompt: Wind, Rain, and Flies
Dig A Hole
I'm going to die soon. Very soon less than 48 hours if my math is right. That's the bad news! The good news is, I'll be the richest dead guy you ever met. At least I would be wealthy beyond dreams if, as I said, I wasn't going to be dead in two days. I've already figured out the important stuff so this is all I have left to occupy my mind. Is it better to be a rich dead guy or a live broke guy? It's a shame really, I could have paid off the squid outright with this haul and still retired with a credible fortune. Instead it's going to be an expensive casket. At least it has a window and a spectacular view of Jupiter! So I've got that going for me.
If you overlook the enormous complexity of getting here, staying here, and getting back again, it's a remarkably simple process. Pick a rock, any rock will do, one rock is as good as another. Maneuver the squid up next to it with the ion thrusters and let inertia wrap the steel tentacles around it. Then inflate the Kevlar bladders inside and you're latched on tight. After that all you do is spin up the big auger in the nose and dig a hole. It's a bit like Little Jack Horner sticking in his thumb. Except this time instead of pulling out my thumb and finding a few traces of gold or copper, I started pulling out diamonds. Big ones, little ones, in betweens ones, deep blue perfect diamonds and they just kept coming!! Thousands of them, they don't come out all cut and polished you know. They look more or less like any other rock at first, but strike off a flake and what lies underneath is the wealth of kings and potentates. I'm not exactly sure what a potentate is but it sure sounds good to me.
I got rear ended on the expressway once. Heard a screech behind me where the traffic had slowed to a crawl and looked in the rearview. Woke up a week later with what they call survivable injuries. Survivable yes, walkable no! Guess what? You don't need working legs in zero gee, but you still need to keep an eye on your rearview mirror. Or in my case not turn off the proximity radar to save a few watts of energy you didn't know you weren’t going to give a crap about paying for anyway. The rock that rear ended me was oddly enough about the same size as the truck that got me almost 30 years ago. Took off the ass end of the squid, along with all my comm antennas, propulsion and life support. So I'm going to write a little note in case the finance company ever finds what's left of their squid. Don't bother bringing the body home, just stuff it in that nice big hole and leave me the rocks in my pockets. That's all I need, you can have the rest.
Chill out Bro
This has disappeared! Bring it back amigos! I know, I know, why don't I bring it back with a story instead of posting uselessly about how it should come back? Because shut up, that's why.
He was frozen in the block of ice for who knows how long. Was it a week, a few days? Then a sudden ray of sunlight finally melted. And he fell flat on his face into the snow. A cold wintery breeze. All as a single moment, a cough, woosh, and a sneeze.
He hobbled up, grabbed a stick. Then stared into the distance, a cold night forest. The red eyes from the many creatures of the night, was a contrast much like flames. They burned wildly in contrast with the blue that chilled him to the bones, almost as if he never unfroze.
A wolf tried to attack him, but it was no use. The canid struggled for a moment, after he skewered him. Then it's life signs gradually began to fade. Aoi wondered how long he had been frozen. The world had changed significantly, brief memories of a distant present.
Prompt: Slice of life two minutes in the future.
Yes, two minutes. Chop chop.:D
Slice of life (two minutes in the future)
Before I can forget who I am again, I start counting. In the space between the minutes on the clock shifting up to the next, I number my heartbeats, 1...2...3...4...5...6...and stare at myself in the mirror. I reach out and place my hand over my face, letting my palm cover my eyes, my nose, my mouth. I can't even remember the last time I felt a connection with this flesh, these pores and wrinkles. I can't even remember the last time my body felt more real than the questions in my head.
The 59th second changes the clock on the wall. Another minute down and I can still remember my name. If I keep this up, maybe they'll let me out of here. In my throat, the pill they made me dry-swallow left a bitter taste as it tried to dissolve. I pull my hand off my reflection's face, turn the handle on the sink, and swallow a gulp of hot water, the only temperature we've got in here for some reason. The bitter taste washes out, but as it goes down, my stomach tingles and burns as the little peach tablet dissolves along with the bite of pudding I had for lunch. Behind the mirror, behind my face, some other guy who wakes up at the same time every night, he starts to scream. Every few heartbeats, I lose my count as he slams his skull into the wall our rooms share, making my reflection shake with every thump. I hear him go, "They." Thud. "Took." Thud. "Me." Thud. Over and over. I feel his pain.
My stomach does something and I burp. A tingling crawls up the wall of my chest, up my throat, and keeps going into my head where it makes my eyelids weigh a thousand pounds. If I could, I'd panic, but I keep losing my count as my consciousness slips in and out of the sterile bathroom, blackness slipping over my eyes. My neighbor's screams melt into someone else's screams...a kid's maybe. Higher pitched. I pull myself out of it, back to the sound of the running water, the repeated crunch of my neighbor's nose breaking against concrete wall just behind my reflection. Felt like just a second, but the minute hand's gone around twice, three times, four. My eyelids double in weight, and the click of the clock turns into the metal click of a gun I once held in my hand. I dream of another time I didn't know my name, when all I did know was the feeling of the gun's barrel against my son's head, before I pulled the trigger and ended up in here.
Long, my apologies.
That's the new prompt too. ^^^
Sorry if the prompt was a little weird. I once experimented with it as a joke.
No worries, the story I made out of it's kinda weird too. I didn't know where I was going with it when I started.
Jack's hand grasped an arrow and pulled it from the quiver at his thigh. He fixed it to his bow string, drew back, took aim at his target, and let it fly. The target stood after, unscathed and untouched. Sir Richard barely contained his discontent. "What was that?" he demanded.
"Short," Jack said.
"Short?" Richard asked incredulously.
Jack squinted, shielding his eyes. "Long, my apologies."
"I was told you were the finest archer in the land. Can you even see the target?"
"Perhaps I am a little underbowed, have you anything stronger?"
"Stronger?!" Richard bellowed.
"Stiffer.Requiring more strength to draw, it will shoot an arrow farther."
Sir Richard grumbled as he turned from the stranger. Jack waited as he paced to the cart, a good fifty yards away. Richard threw the cover off and examined his inventory, muttering to himself that this so-called archer couldn't kill a half-dead, three-legged dog even if it were asleep and tied to a tree. He tested several bows and determined the strongest. Only then, as he turned back to his patron, did an arrow fly through his chest, pinning him to the wooden cart behind.
He fought for every breath as the young man who called himself Jack approached. "You wanted an assassin," Jack said, "and you found one. But I fear my services were already paid for. So sorry."
Hold my drink.
"Pass me that glass would you? No, no, the scotch glass. Does this feel like a martini sort of night to you?"
I pass him the empty scotch glass. Shards of light from the chandelier reflected off the glass dance across the top of the bar as I slide it over. Behind him, a man comes in, sits in a booth by the window. Other than the two of them, the place is empty. I cough once into my fist. "Um. Ice?"
"Nah," he says. "Just pour." And he reaches into his coat, pulls out a cigarette and sticks it between his lips. So I tip the end of the bottle and a line of amber starts rushing up to the brim. As I pour, I look him in the eye. "Yea you might NOT want to light that," I say. He looks up at me, and for a moment the only noise is whisky pouring into whisky. Then it starts to overflow onto the counter. I curse and grab a rag, start mopping it up. He leans his face into the amber glass without lifting it, slurps a good inch off the top, and slides it over until the light catching in it reflects what's behind him.
"That him?" he mutters. Instead of answering, I cough once, twice into my fist. The sign.
So he grabs his whisky and slugs down half of it in a single gulp. Then he slips his left hand into the sleeve of his right, and I see the glint of his knife. I reach under the bar, ready to flick off the master light switch. I nod.
"Alright. Hold my drink," he says. "I'll need it." He stands up, and I hit the lights.
Get out. Now.
Prompt: Get out. Now.
Alright, alright... The teenager helped with this one...
My lungs burn. Too many cigarettes tonight. Swiped them from my mom's purse, she was too drunk to notice. Or care. It was a bad idea, they're slowing me down. Should have taken the neighbor's car, I got my license now. Feet hit the pavement behind. Clothing rustling in pursuit. Breath panting louder. "Stop!" Yeah, keep shouting, that'll convince me.
The wind is knocked from me. I'm blindsided, tackled to the ground. The cop lands on top of me, elbow in my solar plexus. My stomach clenches. I wheeze. Lungs won't open. Try to get up. Fat chance, boots on my wrist, one finds my neck. Fucking pigs. One shouts to his buddies, I look up as they roll me on my stomach. Trevor's slipping out of the fat cop's grasp. He's going to get away. Lucky bastard. Why couldn't I get the fat one?
The entire ride home, the back of the squad car smells like piss. Teenagers and bums, guess they can't catch any real criminals. They march me right up to the front door of my shitty apartment. Mom's still drunk, but she knows how to hide it. I try to tell her it was for Tommy. Diapers aren't cheap, she's always saying that. She knows I'm full of shit, even if she did spend the money for his food on booze. Get out. Now. That's what she says. The cop who had his boot on my neck, he was almost going to let me go after the sob story I fed him. He ate it up. Mom knew better. The door slams. Fucking bitch. Hand on my shoulder, turn around. Back to the squad car. Cuffs back on, in front this time. Maybe I'll get a private cell.
Who is that?
I've never done one of these before but I figured I'd try. I've been reading Carver lately. I think this story is a reflection of that.
My son asks, "Who is that?"
"Who?" I ask, following his finger to a crowd of people gathered in the town's commons.
"That man," he says, still pointing. "The man in the circle of people."
I look at my son, eight years old with whispy blond hair, jeans and a jacket because it's November. He takes my hand, pulling me forward, and I catch glimpses of the man between the bodies of people moving in the crowd. The man wears a tuxedo.
My son is still pulling me, looking back, excited, telling me to, "Hurry up."
My son has let go of my hand and burrows through the crowd and I yell out his name, trying to get past the people, but he is small, able to weave in and out between their legs. Pushing, and yelling, trying to get his attention. The crowd stops suddenly and it becomes air quiet.
The man says, "Here he is. We've been waiting for you. Why don't you tell everyone your name."
"Scotty," my son says. I go to yell out, but am immediately hushed, the man is going to do something amazing. "But that's my son," I say, but no one seems to hear.
The man says, "On the count of three." He takes my son's hand
"Your son is in good hands now," the man next to me whispers, patting my shoulder. I believe him.
The man starts, "One. Two. Three."
There's a bright flash of light, then nothing. The man and my son are gone. But I'm at peace with this. I know he is in good hands.
Pushing through the crowd, I come to the front and see a small patch of torched earth. It still smokes.
"Where did they go?" someone asks.
"The work of the devil," someone else says.
After several minutes the crowd grows restless and bored and begins dispersing, everyone off to their respective homes. But I stand, watching the burned spot sizzle out, finally extinguished. There is a park bench that I sit on. For some reason I am not sad. But I continue to wait. The man who patted my shoulder earlier sits down next to me.
He says, "You can go home now."
"I'm not ready," I tell him. "Not yet."
The man turns, facing me. "He will be well taken care of. You need not worry."
I look at him, a sudden sadness falling over me. "My wife?"
"They are together now," he says, standing. "They will be waiting for you."
"Why me?" I ask.
"There is work to be done. You've been chosen for the job. There must not be any distractions in your life."
He walks toward the sunset, then disappears.
Nightfall comes and I go home. The house is empty now. I wonder how long I'll leave the pictures of my wife and son out. I wonder if I'll ever have another son. Another wife. I wonder why I was chosen.
I was duped
This is longer than I wanted it to be...
I clicked a bright blue hyperlink on my computer screen and followed it to freedom. The ad said: "Writer Wanted" in big, curly font. Underneath it, smaller, it said: "12 months of your life, for the rest of it." I should've stopped before clicking and wondered why no one else had commented on it already. But a thousand bucks and the guarantee to be published pulled my arrow over to the link before I even realized the mouse was moving on the mouse pad. I had bills and rent. Debt to pay. No kids.
They liked the submission I e-mailed in. They wrote back: "good eye for detail. decent character development too"
When I showed up at the place--a three-story farmhouse in the middle of god-knows-where hick country--a bunch of smiling men wearing eyeglasses met me at the front gate and introduced themselves as former editors. In the distance I could see hundreds of tables set up, families eating at them, kids chasing each other around stalks of corn. Then the men sat me down in a room with no windows and asked for proof I was me, the same me from online. They said, "Write us a hero." So I wrote a story about myself the way I always wished I saw me. I gave good reasons for every character flaw, every bad choice, and by the end of that short story, I was half in love with myself, and itching for a sequel.
The men took that packet of papers--"Good eye for detail. Your character development is improving"--and asked for another. And another. And for the next 10 months, I sat in that room with no windows, making worlds out of paragraphs.
By Halloween, I was out of ideas. The tip of my pen could get no closer than an inch from the paper. And forget about my laptop. I haven't fired that thing up in three years. They took the stories of that first year and made it all into some kind of scripture. It was when I was turning in some final revisions that I saw. A class of kids sitting cross-legged under an apple tree, listening to their teacher read about the creation of things that never happened, things I made up for a thousand bucks. They praised the Lord and recited lines of my prose, finding meaning I didn't even know was there. So I couldn't leave. They needed more, a second volume. I still see them, when I pound on my door to be let out for the toilet, or when I manage to finish a new draft. On the walk from my windowless room down to the outhouse around the side of the three-story farmhouse, I still see them all kneeling there like that. Their hands squeezed together, praying to the man in the attic with his pen and paper for answers.
New prompt: Make something up.