Thursday, October 31, 2013

Okay, your turn.

I've been posting stories here for a while, and never thought to do this before. But now I have.

Write a story in the comments to this post, using three or more elements from the writing prompt box at the right. 500 words or less. And there will be a prize; my favorite will get a paperback or hardcover book in the genre of their choice (within reason!) randomly chosen off my rather extensive bookshelf.

You have 'til 11:59 PM ET on Friday 11/8. Enter by posting a story as a comment. If you want to include the prompt box text at the end of the story, that of course won't count against the wordcount.


  1. “I know, I know, it sounds like a good deal on paper. Job security for life? Three square meals? Room and board? Plus, you've got your boss, your parent, and your creator god rolled up into one. Think of the time we save on existential dread alone.” Dust giggled, but she kept her gaze on the radar screen. “Hey, you listening?”

    The reporter edged towards the radio. “Just taking notes.”

    Across the room, Dust and Stain exchanged grins that were identical, right down to the creases under their eyes. Stain shooed the reporter away from the battleship's consoles with a few jabs of her rifle butt.

    “Let's see.” Dust snatched the notebook from his hands.

    “They're just jottings. Unfinished thoughts. I hope you won't--”

    “Names: Dust, Speck, Stain. Political message in choice of names? Clones as refuse?” Dust howled in laughter. “You think you're some kinda shrink?”

    “I'm just trying to understand.”

    “You're not meant to understand,” said Stain. “You're here to record.”

    Dust returned the notebook. “Now, where was I? Right. The realization. I think the problem was, they let us watch TV. It was supposed to contribute to our, you know, socialization. Cheaper than hiring thousands of nannies, I guess.”

    “And on television, you saw a world that was out of your reach?”

    “I was getting to that. Actually, we watched a million shows about destiny. You know, the typical stuff. The pair of lovers who were cloned in the same facility, designed to be the perfect couple, separated by the slip of an evil bureaucrat's pen. But, wouldn't you know it, they find each other anyway.”

    Stain made a gagging motion.

    “But every show had a bad guy, the guy who thinks he can outsmart his programming, the one who doesn't do what he's told, so he goes through that door marked 'Originals Only' and starts up a whole lot of trouble. And you know what? Maybe they were wrong, but the bad guys just seemed to be having a hell of a lot more fun. And I got to thinking, what would a defect like S5-044 do if he had to scrub rust off a submarine, weld without goggles, and go to bed at 6PM? There'd be special effects, for sure.”

    “To clarify, you're going to ram a nuclear-powered battleship into downtown Vancouver because you think it would look cool on TV?”

    “Forget the ship,” said Stain. “We're stealing these bodies of ours right now, just by being here.”

    “You read our contract yet? Check out the fine print.”

    Lights flashed on the console, and a proximity alarm rang.

    “Hey, I think that's your ride,” said Dust. She inclined her head, and Stain shoved him towards the door.

    “You won't get near that city. You know that, right?”

    Dust giggled again. “Haven't you been listening?”

    “Just play your part,” said Stain. “Everyone knows how this ends.”

    Word Count: 481

    Writing Prompts:
    Subgenre: Tragicomedy
    Include this Sensory Input: Melodiousness
    Include This Character: Journalist
    Include this Element: Cloning
    Conflict/Problem: Noone's Taking Me Alive
    Setting to Include: A battleship.
    Them Family to Include: Free Will
    Blended Genre: Psychological Horror and Workplace Tell-All

  2. His fingers played with the small rosary beads in his pocket. He did not pray the rosary, nor was he Catholic. But he kept the strand of fake pink pearl all the same. He liked to count the beads, it wasn’t an even number, fifty-nine, but the number sat well with him, made him feel solid.
    It could be hard to feel solid in this room, but surrounded as he was by many people in their twentieth recitation of a Hail Mary, Paul’s rosary made it easy to blend in. No one really cared if you were wispy like a ghost if they were all too focused on their own redemption in the eyes of their god.
    The poor sod in the wooden box was more wispy than Paul, but he had the advantage of not needing to move. Plus all the makeup the funeral home coated on the body really lent the groundedness that people had come to expect of corpses at a wake. Paul didn’t care about the sod in the box, he only kind of knew who he’d been. George Something. A banker or insurance agent.
    Paul held his hand up in front of his face and waggled it, watching the age spots blur back and forth in his vision. He could see the chair and the head of the person in front of him through his hand.
    “You have my condolences.”
    Paul straightened in his chair, prayer pretense forgotten. That was her voice. Aged for sure, but definitely hers. He’d know it anywhere. He stood, stretching creaking bones out of habit and shuffled to the edge of the aisle, careful not to bump knees in the process, not because of damage he might inflict, but because of what the owners of those knees wouldn’t feel.
    She was standing near the entrance, gaze fixated on Gerry the corpse. Or was it George? It wasn’t important. Her white hair was covered in a kerchief with a bit of clear plastic on top. Maybe it was raining out. Her wrinkled hands gripped a wooden cane with rubber tip and she was bundled up in a rain coat.
    She was talking to George’s wife. The lady was young, maybe it was his daughter. Paul blinked and gripped the beads harder. Focus. Steady. She hadn’t noticed him yet, surely she must have been expecting him? He reached out and took her hand, pressing the rosary beads into her palm, deftly wrapping a strand around her wrist.
    Her rheumy eyes looked through him wide and unseeing,. “How did you...?”
    “You came without a rosary,” he smiled at her, “I thought I’d return yours to you.”
    He released her hand and watched as she faded, her mouth open in a silent scream. She would learn, just as he had, how to be solid, how to be. It would just take fifty-nine years.

    Word count: 479

    SubGenre “Weird”
    Include This Sensory Input Leathery
    Include This Character The One Who Got Away
    Include This Element An ancient curse
    Conflict/Problem Medical Issue
    Setting to Include A funeral home
    Theme Family to Include Self-Acceptance
    Motif to Include A phrase