Featured Author: Desiree Matlock

FEATURED AUTHOR

Désirée Matlock

www.DesisTwoCents.com

Every time the Ink Slingers meet, we do two to three writing exercises that must include three to four specific words that were unknown to the author prior to hearing the loud “START!” command and then getting to it! We love sharing the end result with you.

Sometimes the author will have three unique shorts and other times the author will write a continuing story from one exercise to the next. These continuations can be tricky to create but this Ink Slinger killed it with this fun story.

Enjoy!

 

____________________________________

Silver, Spin, Birthday

The seventh time it happened, I really had somehow convinced myself over the course of the year that it had all been a figment of my imagination the previous six times. But, no. Here it had gone and happened again.

Just as I was preparing to blow out the candles, time froze, yet again, and a crack opened up in the world, right next to the ground. Just as the year before, and the year just before that, the world honestly felt as if it had just stopped spinning like every atom was wrong. Trapped even.

Every prior year, I’d just closed my eyes in panic, wished for the world to go back to normal, and blown out the candles. I’d kept them closed until I heard the simple sounds of reality again. The ones you don’t realize you need until they’re gone.

This time, instead, I held my panic at bay, took a deep breath and walked away from my party-goers. As I approached the crack in the world, I could swear it was growing a little. Seemed like it was more of a sliver now.

“Hello?” I asked. There might have been slight movement there, or it might have been a trick of the eye. If things inside the crack could change, had the world started up again? I looked out the window, but nope. Time was still. Everywhere.

I looked down, and the crack had become a proper hole. And there was definitely movement.

____________________________________

Ghastly, Tea, Crunch

Without thinking, I repeated myself. “Hello?”

I shouldn’t have done it, I realized too late. Did I really want to meet whatever terrible creature could respond from beyond time?

Out of the hole popped a hand, and at first, I imagined a ghastly manifestation, some kind of spider snake thing. But no, I quickly realized it was just a normal hand. I watched as it was followed up by an arm, a shoulder, and shortly, the robed midriff of what looked like a somewhat confused person. He was holding a cup of tea in one hand, a pencil in the other.

“What are you doing here?” he pointed the cup of tea at me accusatively.

“Um, shouldn’t I be asking you that?” His eyes suddenly widened, and with a yelp and a crunch, he fell back into the hole.

I knelt down and yelled after him, “I demand an explanation!” more out of curiosity than anger. Before the hole completely closed, a scrap of paper floated up and out, landing in my hands.

“Response for petition of redress: Appearance before council on 38th March 113492.784. Compliance mandatory.”

I shoved it into my pocket. I had no idea how I’d make it whereever that was whenever that was.

____________________________________

die, technology, mouth

“Redress of WHAT?” I thought. But, there was suddenly no one to ask. The hole closed up. I walked back over to my guests, looked down at my cake and time started up again.

And, back to miserable reality. I blew out the candles and put cake in my mouth, pretended engagement in boring small talk about other people’s weddings, babies and, promotions. I nodded and smiled. After they left, I opened up my presents, leaving a small one with no tag for last. I looked at it, silver wrapping paper glistened strangely. Curiousity got the best of me, and  picked it up. It immediately fell open, disintegrated, and left only a gleaming die in my hand. Not proper dice, just one. And not a fancy D&D style die either. Six totally normal sides. Totally normal except that I had no idea what technology could open, evaporate and otherwise nullify wrappings. Nice touch, though. No clean up.

I inspected the die, bringing it up to my eye. The die was perfectly normal, but when I looked at the pips, they appeared to contain too much mass. I twirled to the one side. Looking at the single black dot hurt my eyes. I felt dizzy, like the impossible was in front of me, but couldn’t quite put my finger on why exactly.

“Okay, now what?” I said, sitting down on the couch. Nothing at all happened, no reply.

Was it weird that I found that disappointing?

 

~~*~~

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Coming of Age – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 9 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Sliver
  • Spin
  • Birthday

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Victor was dreading his birthday, but to everyone else, it was a time to celebrate. This year marked his coming of age, the moment when he earned his voice in the issues that affected them all. It didn’t seem like a celebration to him though, he wasn’t looking forward to the numerous council meetings, the votes, but worst of all he wasn’t looking forward to…his mind drifted and the dark room, in which he was locked in, began to spin. The pain racked his body and he could feel muscles twist, snap, and take a new form. As he dropped to the ground he caught a glimpse of the sliver of the full moon, through the metal shutters that were meant to keep people out as much as to keep him in. A howl tore loose from his throat as he lost control and all human thought fled his mind.

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LISA BARRY:

There was just a sliver of birthday cake left and Hal eyed it, one hand on his belly and one hand on his throbbing head.

“Don’t do it,” Spin’s gravelly voice said before coughing up a particularly disgusting hairball and spitting it into the fire.

Hal’s stomach churned and he looked up to the moon.

Spin took a long slurp of water from a bowl and started up again. “She’s not coming, you idiot. She just told you she would because she wanted you to leave.”

“She’ll come,” Hal stated. He relaxed into the lawn chair and swatted a mosquito away.

“Dude, you camped outside her back door for 2 days. Trust me on this. She wanted you to leave.”

Hal sighed. Perhaps Spin was right. He picked up the remaining cake and tossed it into the fire before standing and stretching his sore muscles.

“Ok then. I’m ready to get a good night’s sleep in my own bed.”

“Thank god,” Spin said and jumped into Hal’s arms.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

A sliver of moon peeked briefly through the dark clouds and then disappeared again. Jess turned in a circle with her eyes closed, the slow spin getting faster and faster as she tried to pinpoint the source of the disturbance. It moved constantly, flitting here and there, always just ahead of her or behind her.

A howl rose into the night, and her skin prickled with gooseflesh. She gripped the long iron knife tighter, her ears straining for any sounds in the woods that were out of place even as she continued to feel out the black pulsing that drew her on even as it repulsed her. Ever since her sixteenth birthday, this had been her gift and her curse. A twig cracked sharply, and her eyes flew open to meet gleaming red eyes in the rustling leaves in front of her. Her breath caught in her throat, and she brought her weapon up, but the creature did not come forth. The eyes stared at her, then blinked once.

Over the thundering of her heart in her ears, the darkness sang to Jess, calling her, but something was wrong. She stood still, waiting for the creature to make the first move, but then the eyes blinked once more and disappeared, and she was left standing alone in the cold, silent forest with only the wind for company.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

The seventh time it happened, I really had somehow convinced myself over the course of the year that it had all been a figment of my imagination the previous six times. But, no. Here it had gone and happened again.

Just as I was preparing to blow out the candles, time froze, yet again, and a crack opened up in the world, right next to the ground. Just as the year before, and the year just before that, the world honestly felt as if it had just stopped spinning like every atom was wrong. Trapped even.

Every prior year, I’d just closed my eyes in panic, wished for the world to go back to normal, and blown out the candles. I’d kept them closed until I heard the simple sounds of reality again. The ones you don’t realize you need until they’re gone.

This time, instead, I held my panic at bay, took a deep breath and walked away from my party-goers. As I approached the crack in the world, I could swear it was growing a little. Seemed like it was more of a sliver now.

“Hello?” I asked. There might have been slight movement there, or it might have been a trick of the eye. If things inside the crack could change, had the world started up again? I looked out the window, but nope. Time was still. Everywhere.

I looked down, and the crack had become a proper hole. And there was definitely movement.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

 

BRANDON SCOTT

coming soon!

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Best Flavor – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 19 July 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Quest
  • Bathroom
  • Dazzle

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

I was on an important quest to find the best pralines and cream ice cream ever made. So far, of the nine places I had visited, only six even carried the flavor. It was a disappoint in humanity that a store wouldn’t carry the best flavor ever made. I was pretty sure at this point that Baskin Robins was going to win but I had one more place to go and was glad to have arrived so quickly as I needed a bathroom bad. After breezing through the front door and freshening up I walked out and went straight to the counter. The tall server’s back was to me but when he turned I was as frozen as freezer burnt steak. He dazzled me with his smile, teeth shining bright in the manufactured lights, eyes shining and blue, looking straight at me.

“What can I get you?” he asked, his voice a mellow and soft breeze.

“One scoop of pralines and cream in a sugar cone,” I said automatically. He smiled again.

“Best flavor,” he said as he reached for the cone. Now I now knew the meaning of love at first sight.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

There are a few things that one generally doesn’t take into consideration when one is planning an arduous quest, and there are things that one does take into consideration. Food, of course, in a necessity. As are horses. Weapons are a top priority, arrows for goblins, swords for trolls and ogers. Any magical implements that could protect from sorcerers and witches, while expensive and hard to find, are more than worth the trouble to procure. Fire is important as well, and a well stocked tinder box is always brought along.

Most questers would consider themselves well  prepared with the above taken care of. Burdock had certainly thought so, but now as he trudged beside the beautiful princess of the Upperlands, he was painfully aware of the one thing that he had not thought about at all. The bathroom. He was getting desperate to relieve himself now, but they were still trying to escape the flat, barren lands with no rock or tree to break the monotony of the terrain.

Each time Burdock thought his plight severe enough to muster up the courage to ask for a momentary rest, and if she might look away, she would turn her dazzling green eyes on him, and words failed. This was the fourth time this had happened, and he was going to have to figure something out soon, or risk soiling himself.

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DALIA LANCE:

She was on a quest to find the mythical bathroom that was located somewhere in this venue. 

 

So far she had found four “lounges”, which seemed to be large closets with chairs forced into them, two separate bars hidden behind silver palm trees and a dazzling monument made out of fake candles. You know the kind that light up with batteries.  

 

None were the same kind and more then a third didn’t light up. 

 

When her friend Stephanie had told her she had found the perfect place for her wedding she knew she was in for something interesting. What she hadn’t realized, was that she was going to be required to show support in a place that looked like where all the terrible wedding decorations went to die. 

 

“The Island of mis-fit wedding favors” she mumbled and laughed.  
 

She finally found the door that must be the bathroom with “Private” on the door. She turned the knob and opened the door to find the groom in the arms of the best man.  

 

This place just keeps getting better.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“I’m confused,” Kelli (with an I) said, raising her hand as she spoke, not bothering to wait for the instructor to call on her. Kelli (with an I) never waited for anything in her life. Why on earth would she start now? All she had to do was dazzle them with her perfect smile and all would be forgiven. Such was the story of her life. Well, most of it.

“What are you confused about, dear?” her instructor asked, the elderly gentleman leaning forward on his ancient elbows, creasing the stack of yellowed parchment from which he was lecturing.

“These quests. I mean, do you really mean that these knights and whatnot just went roaming around the country on horses? Seriously? Like where did they sleep? What if they had to use the bathroom?”

A few titters greeted her questions, but the instructor only smiled benignly at her. “They relied on the generosity of their fellow humans,” he explained. “They slept in strangers’ beds, ate strangers’ food, and no doubt used strangers’ facilities when nature called.”

“That sounds hideous,” Kelli (with an I) commented. “I mean, what if the other people didn’t want the knights to come in their house and eat all their food? Isn’t that why the Americans, like, had a revolution–for quartering troops or whatever? And, like, strangers using your bathroom? Gross.”

“Well, the knights generally wore armor and carried swords, sweetie. I don’t think the local villagers had much say in the matter.”

“Well, I would have plenty to say in that matter. And just so you know, when I inherit my armor and get my mythical sword back, I will not be tramping about town sleeping in your beds and eating your food.” She looked around at her classmates, future subjects, face serious. “And I certainly won’t be begging to use your bathroom. As if.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

“What?” Jarvis asked, too caught off guard by the woman’s dazzling smile to have heard her question.

She looked at him perplexed and a little annoyed, “The bathroom,” she said a little more slowly. “Where is it?”

This time Jarvis did his best to concentrate on the words coming out of her mouth, “Um yeah,” he said as if shaking himself out of a stupor, “it’s just down the corridor to the left.” She swung her black straight hair behind her as she turned around and sashayed her way toward the direction she was told. So much beauty and so much attitude, he smiled to himself. Being a bartender at the only tavern on a common route for those pursuing quests, definitely had its perks.

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BRANDON SCOTT

The quest, her quest, was to visit the bathroom. Long had she traveled, long had she gone forth. Many battles she had faced. The snake with two heads, the demon who played the drums, the pit of sorrow. All now behind her. Finished and defeated.

But, this, this final thing, this was the hardest challenge yet.

For the man, the man could dazzle with but a look.

She’d come upon the outhouse, and the joy in her heart had nearly floored her. She glanced down at the plastic bag in her hands, and whispered to her dead goldfish, “It will be okay, it will all be okay.”

But, as soon as she’d taken a step in the direction of the place, a man appeared there, and his very gaze stopped her breath for a second. She’d shut her eyes closed then, realizing that, despite his odd beauty, that was not a metaphor. It quite literally stopped her ability to breathe.

So, now, she hid somewhere away, behind a bush, still holding her little dead fish friend, who deserved a proper burial for all the companionship he’d given over the years.

The man stalked back and forth, in front of that door, and she thought harder about how she was going to deal with her newest challenge, how she would slay the dazzling man.

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This Type of Irregularity – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 19 July 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Smitten
  • Science
  • Recycle

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“Look, I know you’re pretty smitten with your little recycling science project here,” the inspector observed over her clipboard, “but I think there are some factors you definitely didn’t account for.” As she spoke the last word, a hand went flying past her face, fingers brushing the edge of her nose, and she stood up straight, instinctively backing away from the extra limb. “I thought someone with your promising statistics would have known to prepare for this type of irregularity.”

“You’re cataloging this as an irregularity?” Jessica, reaching out idly to snatch the flying hand from its path and popping it back into the shoebox she held. She slammed down the lid with somewhat more force than she was accustomed to when catching the extra pieces, but she was always nervous on inspection day. And to think, they had to come by right when that ancient creature was giving up all of his limbs. What did they call them again–the ones with the hundred hands? Her assistant would know. She dropped the box on a nearby table and caught another hand just as it whizzed past. Her reflexes were definitely improving from this project. She’d be catching two or three at  time by the end of the day. The original creature was still strapped to the machine, all of his original hands regrowing nicely, so that was good, at least. One less thing to worry about.

“Honestly, Jessica, didn’t you think the pieces would be mobile?”

Jessica snatched another two hands and placed them in their boxes before turning to the inspector. “No, Madam, I did not anticipate mobility when recreating the hands of a thousand year old mythological beast. I realize now how foolish and short-sighted I was.”

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LISA BARRY:

I thought I would be helpful and take the recycling out for my mom. That’s not a normal thing for a teenage girl to do, especially one who avoids science and nature as much as the nerd section of the cafeteria. But I really wanted to go to the party at Cynthia’s house on Saturday night and so I was working diligently at my brownie points. I was counting on the fact that mom was smitten with a new guy who she met at the car wash and would want some time alone with him but doing some extra chores would be icing on the cake of my nice self this week.

So here I am innocently helping my parent with a household chore when I find the big green bin. It was tucked back a few feet behind the recycling center she had put together in her environmentally conscious stage a few months ago.

When I looked into the bin it was dark so I flipped on the flashlight app on my phone and took a look. I was kinda hoping for some new pool toys or something but no. A face smeared with blood and bent in a shape I was unaccustomed lay inside the bin.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“I know that you’re totally smitten with this new idea of yours…”

Hadden was cut off by a feverish voice. “It’s not a ‘new idea of mine’,” Carlee told him, brushing by with two vials of bright green liquid, both smoking and bubbling in an unfriendly way. “This is science. This will make things better.”

Hadden looked nervously around their small home, once upon a time it was cozy and enough for them, but now it was just cramped and smelled like burning and rotting things, filled with too many tables and contraptions. Hadden didn’t want to recycle all of the arguments and discussions they had gone through for the weeks since that strange man had shown up in town, with his trunks of artifacts from some place far away. Carlee had heard his loud speeches and that was the end. She took all their gold, and bought as much of the man’s questionable wares that she could carry, and began doing this thing called something that Hadden had forgotten for the twentieth time. “Maybe we could move…”

Once again Carlee interrupted him, her tone short. “No, I have to follow the instructions-”

The explosion cut her off with as much force as she had cut off Hadden.

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DALIA LANCE:

“You’re telling me she is actually smitten with him?” Jay looked across the field to the bleachers where sure enough a buxom blonde was talking to a scrawny nerd. 

 

Jay turned back to Mark “Who is he?”  

 

Mark shrugged, picking up his helmet “Some science nerd”. 

 

Jay slid his helmet on and headed towards the other players at practice “I still don’t understand. I mean look at him and look at her.” He said pointing “She is practically cooing over him. What did he do that made that happen?” 

 

“What is your issue anyway?” Mark said stopping “Did you break-up with her?” 

 

“Yeah, Sorta.” Jay looked down then back up again “It was a both of us kind of thing.” 

 

“So, she dumped you” Mark smiled and patted his friend on the shoulder. 

 

“No… whatever… what the hell does he have that I don’t?” Jay seemed almost frantic. 

 

“Maybe he recycles?” Mark said, ducking avoiding Jay’s swinging fist. 

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Marcus took the plastic recycling bin and walked down the end of driveway for pick up. He was about to go back in, when he noticed his neighbor walk out of the white house with brown shutters from across the street. He was instantly smitten. Her red hair accentuated her creamy skin tone and he couldn’t stop himself from staring. That’s when she turned toward him, her smoky green eyes locking onto his. Marcus suddenly couldn’t move and his pulsed quickened as she approached. His years as a teacher in the biological sciences taught him that his physical reaction was a sign that danger approached. Marcus’s mouth went dry as her smile turned into a toothy sneer.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“I am smitten with science,” announced Kathy to the entire room. A sea of heads turned to her.

The bride to be, and the groom to be, took a second to look away from each other—they were about to kiss, after all.

A cough rang out through the room, and the silence continued to hold, like a sticky film over the entire area.

Kathy was not perturbed by this. With jubilation, she announced it to the world yet again: “I am smitten with science! I am in love with it. I want to have children with the concept of science! I want to, twenty years from now, convince science to get up off the couch and take out the stuff we plan to recycle, and then don’t, to the garbage. I want to find it lying there dead at the ripe old age of like eighty!”

Again, the room was quiet. Someone, some brave soul, finally managed to raise his voice and talk—despite the smothering awkwardness.

“Okay…does that mean you don’t want these two to get married?”

Kathy looked at the guy with wide eyes, clearly shocked. “No…no, of course not. I’ve known Jeremy and Justine for years now—they are perfect for each other. I just love science so much!”

Another person cleared their throat. Someone, an older woman, debated calling the police.

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Digging up the Flower Beds – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 5 July 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Surprise
  • Flower
  • Bungalow

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

DESIREE MATLOCK:

Marnie did a quick three-point turn, sliding the car back out into traffic, as I directed her where to go. “What kind of place is this? Are you sure it’s completely abandoned?”

Well, yeah, no one’s been out to my uncle’s bungalow since -” Jack started.

“Wait!” Marnie sounded irate. “There are no fucking bungalows here, Jack. Those are for cute little beach towns in Florida. This is A-las-ka.”

“Well, yeah, but that’s what he called his shack. It’s tucked out of the way, and as I was saying, we’ve all left it alone since he died.”

Marnie huffed again. “Don’t fucking talk to me. You’re making this so much worse.”

Jack didn’t mind silences, he was used to them. So, he idly stared out the window while Marnie huffed, except when occasionally directing her where to go. Obviously, they couldn’t use GPS since they’d left their cell phones behind. Duh. Rule one of disposing of, well, mistakes.

They spent the two hours north to the “bungalow” in relative silence and pulled their cargo out.

Marnie found a shovel in the garage, and Jack started digging up the flower beds.

“Uh oh.” Jack said after the third shovelful. “We have a problem.” This was turning into a really crappy day.

“What? Marnie rushed over.

“Surprise!” he said, apathetically. She looked down at the human skull he’d unearthed.

“Oh crap! It’s a crime scene. Now what?”

“We find somewhere else and we call this one in.” Jack said. “Can’t let this random person just go uninvestigated, can we? It could be a missing person!” He’d spoken without thinking.

Marnie looked at Jack with narrowed eyes. “Are you trying to be ironic?”

He was getting a little sick of her attitude about his trying to help her.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

LISA BARRY:

Shorlin looked at the flower in surprise. He was intending to wash his heads and did not expect the yellow bloom to be coming from the drain. He touched it briefly and its scent filled his small bungalow kitchen with a strong greenish smell. He had lived here for going on nine years and never had a flower growing through the pipes. He went the bathroom only to find one in the sink there and two from tub spout, a thin grass lining its bottom. The most peculiar problem was that it was the middle of winter, nothing should be blooming at all. He had anticipated scraping ice from his car windows before heading into work.

Frowning, he stepped outside the front door and breathed in the lush greenery and colorful flowers. It was a paradise.

“Do you like it?” a sultry voice asked.

Shorlin turned and met the gaze of a Goddess wrapped in thin vines. His heart leaped into his throat.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“It’s just here,” Sarah whispered, pushing through the bushes with Robbie on her heals.

“We’ve been walking for hours,” the boy complained.

“We’re close, just a few more….there!” Sarah pointed, and waited for Robbie to crawl up beside her.

They peered through the bushes, one face eager, the other grumpy.

“So what?” Robbie finally said. “It’s just a bungalow.”

“It’s a fairy house,” Sarah insisted. “See the lights around the edge? They’re just floating there.”

“Fireflies,” Robbie said.

“In the middle of the day?” Sarah gave him a look. “and see the flowers?”

“I see the stupid flowers,” Robbie rolled his eyes.

“Did you see them change color?”

“They’re just moving in the wind,” Robbie started to say, then he stopped and peered more closely at the flowers around the little house.

They winked in the sunlight, changing from yellow to pink to blue. Robbie’s mouth dropped open, and Sarah smiled triumphantly.

“I told you so,” she said with a smug toss of her hair. “What do you think we should do?”

“Get out of here, of course,” Robbie said, nervously starting to back away. “Didn’t you listen to any of the stories?”

“Yes, but-” Sarah turned back to the house and found herself staring into a hideous face with lumpy teeth and tiny eyes.

“Surprise,” the face said, and reached for her.

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ERIKA LANCE:

He was all ready for a surprise weekend. He was going to pop the question and it would be perfect. 

 

He found the perfect bungalow on the beach, he had flowers placed all around including leading from the dock. 

 

You had to arrive by boat. She would think this was a perfect romantic weekend. 

 

He had left her a little treasure map to find the place. She loved it when he was so thoughtful. He looked around one more time to make sure everything was perfect. It was. 

 

He headed to the dock with a bouquet in hand. She was supposed to land in less then thirty minutes and he wanted to be ready. 

 

He arrived and waited.  

 

Thirty minutes. 

 

Forty-Five minutes. 

 

An hour. 

 

He pulled out his phone. There was no service here. He sighed. He was worried now. No boat had come back at all. 

 

Two hours. 

 

He was panicking. 

 

Three hours and finally he saw a boat pulling in. He got ready in case she had difficulty he didn’t want to make it worse. 

 

The boat pulled up with the original steward that dropped him off and no Christina. 

 

He was confused “Umm..” Before he could finish even forming the sentence the steward handed him a note.  

 

“Dear Jack, Were done. – Christina” 

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JM PAQUETTE:

“You call this a surprise?” Catherine asked, staring at the bungalow in open-mouthed shock. She turned to her fiance. “No. This is not a surprise. Flowers after a long day at work are a surprise. A weekend getaway to the beach is a surprise. Picking up dinner on the way home so I don’t have to cook is a surprise.” She turned back to the house, the cracked edges of faded white paint catching the last rays of the sunset.

“I…” his voice faded, then he rallied. “I thought you’d like it,” he said, turning her around so that instead of the dilapidated beach cottage, she could see the view. “You love the water, Cathy. Just think of it. Getting up and drinking your coffee and getting to stare at this all of the time.” He gestured to the admittedly amazing vista of sand and sea and sun, all things she loved, all things she longed for when she sat at the small table in their tiny apartment in the city.

“I do,” she agreed. “You know I do.” She completed the turn around, facing the old building again with the sun at her back. “But this house…is it even safe to go inside?”

“I didn’t want to go in without you,” he said, reaching in his pocket and withdrawing an old brass key. “I wanted us to do this together.”

“Together?” she asked, voice cracking a little bit on the word. “How about we decide together to buy a house?” She turned back to him, grabbing hold of the ancient key and holding it up. She didn’t think they even made old keys like that anymore. She had a vivid image of them turning the key and the entire house collapsing around the lock. “You don’t honestly mean to tell me that you bought this thing without even actually going inside it, do you?”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

“Denise…what are you doing here?” He asked in surprise in his lilting English accent. “You should be asleep with the other staff. Are not the rooms in the bungalow next door comfortable?”

“No, sir. I mean, yes sir,” she quickly corrected, “I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized in a voice that always seemed to cast a spell over him. In the soft light of the candles her skin shown like porcelain and transformed the demure corset of her subtle flower pattern uniform into something more tantalizing. He had been smitten with her the moment she arrived. But Denise was more than a pretty face, she was also a shrewd business woman, though she wasn’t aware of it yet. It gave John pleasure to think that he could foster her talent.

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August in Florida – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 5 July 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Snow
  • Glow
  • Tenure

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” She asked a little panicked. 

 Jarod pointed out the window “It is beginning to snow”. He did this without looking up from his book in almost a bored tone. 

 “Snow?” Mirra said again as a question which was actually rhetorical but Jarod nodded anyway and then flipped to the next page of his book. 

 “It is fricken August. In Florida. It doesn’t even snow here in the winter” now her voice sounded panicky even to her as she ran to the window. 

 Sure enough, big white flakes were floating lazily to the ground. 

 “Are you seeing this?” Again stating a question she knew the answer too. Jarod didn’t even nod this time. It seemed when you had tenure as an English professor at a private expensive college like St. Catherine’s then you didn’t need to fake interest in anything. 

 Mirra opened the window and the smell of sulfur hit her hard. She looked in the distance across the lawn and saw a bright red glow.  

 “I don’t think this is snow” she said closing the window. Jarod finally looked up. 

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LISA BARRY:

Rachel’s tenure was up next month and she was just a little bit nervous. The last time she had played in the snow behind the office, when she thought no one was watching, she allowed her native glow to come through about one quarter percent.

“Percent.” She pronounced to the white board in her office. She loved the sound of the words. Her native tongue was not known to man and sometimes the new words brought her great joy. Her father, he who could not be named, at least not if you wanted to survive, ensured her position at the busy school to teach mythology and some ancient history. Since she was an ice Princess with a much longer personal history than the humans, it wasn’t hard to teach and she enjoyed the sound of her voice.

“Tenure,” she said out loud and remembered that her tenure was soon up. She had thought no one was watching but when she started back to the build those many weeks ago, a shadow had disappeared down the hall. She followed but only the smell of wild flowers and mint hung in the air.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“You can’t kick me out. I have tenure!” the short man in the grey suit shouted as he jumped up and down, still not managing to come any higher than the elbows of the four burly men in uniforms, standing with impassive faces as the short man ranted.

An elderly gentle man also watched, stroking his long beard, which seemed to glow with a silver light. Eventually he held up a hand. “Now, now, my dear Gindel, must you make your parting so dramatic?” The little man called Gindel stopped and shot a glare up at him.

“Don’t you dear Gindel me,” he said. “Where’s your loyalty? What about all the time we spent building all this together?”

“True,” the other said with a sad smile. “But you seem to forget that it still needs care and attention.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Gindle demanded with a suspicious look. “It means you never come out of here. You just tinker and meddle, you don’t even know what effects you create with your activities.”

“I do too!” Gindle countered.

“Did you know there was snow last August?” the elder man said calmly. “Or that the Tuesday before all the fires in the kitchen suddenly exploded and demolished that wing of the building to rubble? Don’t shake your head at me Gindle, you know your experiments can have far reaching effects.”

“No,” Gindle was still shaking his head. “Listen, Tobble, I was visiting my mother in the city last Tuesday. I wasn’t even here!”

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

“I can’t drive in all this snow!” Marnie gestured at the road ahead, although there was really only a sprinkling on the highway.

“There’s always snow here. Do you want me to drive?” Jack was worried, Marnie’s eyes were buggier even than usual. It made sense, considering the stress lately. She was up for tenure this year, but so was another professor who had seemed to have a better shot. As a side-effect, she’d been sounding like what could best be described as a lemur with a clothespin stuck on it’s tail for weeks.

Her voice was even higher now as the glow of brake lights suddenly swooped onto the road in front of them, cutting her off. They stayed on as the driver started going about ten miles an hour slower than they’d already been driving. “Oh, c’mon, man! If you’re going to cut me off and fail to use your turn signals, you could at least speed!” Marnie’s voice was getting even more high-pitched. She’d exceed the audible sound spectrum if she kept this up.

Jack said, “You know, there’s nothing to worry about now. I mean, with what we just did, you’ve got tenure for sure.”

Marnie huffed, “There’s far from nothing to worry about, don’t molly-coddle me. But, at least there’s one silver lining to this shitstorm cloud”, before she turned on her turn signal before having to slam on her brakes. The landfill gates were shut.

Jack wondered why the fuck the place was closed on a tuesday.

“So… What now?” Jack said, shrugging. It was her plan.

“You come up with something, genius! This was your idea.”

She had a point.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“Just ignore her,” Maria said, tugging Julie aside and walking away from the cluster of administrators. “She’s been a total bitch since she got tenure.”

“But why would she say that about my research?” Julie wondered, body still turned towards the group of would-be academics.

“Just ignore her!” Maria insisted. “Benson wouldn’t know a good research study if it bit her in the ass. Remember: this is the woman who thought having counselors make little hatch marks when students mentioned hunger as a stress factor qualified as field research. She doesn’t understand data collection, and she never will.”

“But she’s probably going to be on my committee when I go up for consideration,” Julie moaned, allowing her friend to pull her away, back to the solace of the small office they shared. “I need her to like me.”

“No, you need to have enough paperwork showing everything you’ve done for this place that she doesn’t need to like you. Remember when you thought Suzanne hated you after that textbook debacle? That bitch wrote you a glowing recommendation that year. It’s fine. You will be fine. Stop worrying.” Maria plunked down on the couch, resting her feet on the coffee table.

“Maybe I should send out my cv anyway, just in case. Maybe look somewhere with seasons. I kind of miss the snow.” Julie looked out the small window to the Florida sunshine.

“You won’t miss it when you’re shoveling your driveway. I lived in Montreal before I got this gig. Don’t talk to me about weather.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Denise looked out the window of the store and, though her tenure as a shop assistant had been short, she loved the store and being surrounded by the glow of the candles as she worked on the window display felt nothing short of magical. The snow from the ongoing flurry laid just beyond the glass and formed a soft looking blanket free of any imperfections, as would be the case at this hour in the morning. The street was softly lit by the gas lamps and the snow sparkled. As she was about to put the finishing touches on the display, her heart leapt as John, the store owner, entered the display and smiled broadly at her.

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Waiting to Surprise Him – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 June 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Whisper
  • Forgetful
  • Moist

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

DALIA LANCE:

She was not happy Mark was so forgetful. She was quiet as a whisper waiting to surprise him with the treats placed across her naked body.  

Laying across the dining room table she was literally a dessert bar. Well she had been a dessert bar, but as the time ticked on she was becoming basically moist, soggy and sticky in a number of places that would be ok if it wasn’t melting food causing the issue.  

She wrinkled her nose as she realized using whip cream may not have been the best idea.  

She was about to sit up when she heard the door open and he put on the most sultry look she could as she heard footsteps approach the dining room.  

“Honey?” Mark said. 

“In here” she replied, trying to sound sexy and not move at the same time. 

“Brian and Jay decided to come over to watch the fight” he said as he entered the kitchen with the afore mentioned friends in tow.  

The awkward silence that held that moment in place was movie worthy considering there was not way to unsee her presentation. 

“Surprise” she finally said. 

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LISA BARRY:

Tanna wiped the moist towel across her brow, the sweat continued despite her attempts to cool down. The run from the warehouse to home in the incredibly dry heat of the Denlark realm was a dumb move and her forgetfulness was making her pay. She drank another bottle of water, her stomach now swollen, and sat heavily on the couch.

“Help me, Sebastian,” she whispered. Thought was starting to become difficult. Oh, she really had screwed up this time. The heat exhaustion was bad. She had barely recovered from the last time.

Where was Sebastian?

Darks spots were starting to appear in her vision. Blinking was making them worse. The water was threatening to come up when she heard him.

“Lovely Tanna.”

“Sebastian – please!” she begged.

“Now now, it’s your time, love.”

Tanna’s eyes closed and the moment Sebastian the wraith had been waiting for came. He slipped in and gave her spirit an easy boot. Now he would live once more.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The thought stopped Jedrin cold. Now he was going to have to rethink his entire plan from a whole new perspective, wondering if his steps had been predicted and planned on, or not. He spent several moments going over this, before he remembered to stop himself. The witch had told him that death was forgetful, and if he wanted to make sure his plan came to fruition, it was crucial that the other man’s face remain clear in his mind.

Jedrin was just going to have to carry on with the plan, but he was going to be more cautious. Cautious and intelligent, we’ll make a good pair, the other’s voice whispered to him, and Jedrin smiled a savage smile. When he emerged fully into the Overworld, into the moist air just after a storm, it became easier to move. He floated, almost flew, and it was easy to find the other, as he had kept the jewel with him, as Jedrin had known he would.

Jedrin watched the other man for a long time, savoring the imminent revenge, and was surprised that when he tried to move forward, some invisible force held him in place. He struggled, and it was that which drew the attention of the other man, who came over and smiled the same cold smile he had when Jedrin died.

“I wondered when you were going to be turning up again,” he said, his voice very polite.

Jedrin remained calm despite this small twist. He had a great advantage over the other man – one couldn’t die twice.

“Are you very sure about that?” the man said, his eyes gleaming.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“You shot me,” Mark whispered, voice quiet moreso from shock than pain. He’d been through far worse.

His man-servant nodded, oily smoke leaking from the barrel of the gun as he cocked his head to the side, confusion creeping across his face. This was clearly not how he’d expected the next few moments to play out.

“You actually shot me…” Mark paused, hand reaching up to touch the hole in his chest, already feeling the skin healing up, the bullet hole barely moist with the few drops of blood that had escaped before his body did its miracle trick. “Over Shakespeare?”

“I was on the stage at the Globe Theatre,” the servant replied, voice steady but his hand had started to shake. “I know the Bard. But you are always,” and here the hand on the weapon steadied, “you are always correcting me.” He fired again, this time the look on his face was  as familiar to Mark as his own reflection. He’d seen that kind of passion before, many times. He really was getting too old for this kind of thing. That is, he would be too old, if he ever really aged. He’d stopped doing that hundreds of years ago. How many was it? He’d grown forgetful over time. Certainly more than eight or nine hundred. Hell, maybe a thousand? It was so hard to keep track of things.

“What…what are you?!” the man-servant shrieked.

Mark turned his attention back to the man-servant, gave a meaningful look down at the second hole in his shirt, and his expression turned grim. “I wouldn’t have to correct you if you’d learn the damn lines properly. Obviously, you weren’t worthy to stay on the boards at the Globe.” He touched his chest, “And speaking of the famous theater, this suit was tailored for me by a rather famous man, and now you’ve gone and ruined it. That’s two classics you’ve destroyed this evening, young man.” The servant raised the gun again, but this time Mark caught his hand. “You will not be destroying anything else.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Garrick wiped his brow, moistened with sweat from the fear that ran through him. The whispers grew louder in the dark forest and he realized too late that he wasn’t alone. How Garrick wished he wasn’t so forgetful and had left his hat back at the cabin, then he never would have left his friends to go back and retrieve it. Now, the thick night air closed in around him. He felt like he was suffocating. The whispers grew more intense, as if more voices were being added to their sad song. He could feel their pain resonate in his being and it brought him to his knees. Garrick did not think he would survive to see another sunrise.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“I’m forgetful, so sue me.”

“I am suing you!” Charlie said, waving his hands around to the courtroom. “That is the whole point!”

“Oh…” Will said, looking around at the room, “And you are?”

Charlie face-palmed so hard it bent his glasses a bit. This had been the last hour. His forgetful ex-friend going around in circles. Not recalling, then recalling.

“I am Charlie,” Charlie said, “And I am suing you because you let my house burn down, when I said to watch the fucking roast so it would be just cooked enough to be moist!”

“Oh, did I?” Will said, placing his hand on his chin. “Well, that does not sound like something I would do—not really. Though, I suppose, I could have—may I ask you a question actually?”

Charlie could see this one coming and prepared his mind for it, so it might maintain some stability. “Yes, what is the question?”

“Who am I?” Will said.

Charlie, from pure stress, had a blood vessel in his eye pop, but he did not hit him, he did not take the urge he had and send it into the man’s face with reckless force.

“You are—”

The judge, having been watching this entire exchange, as had the entire room of people (all enraptured by the odd scene) snapped out of his amusement, and cleared his throat.

“Have you to come to some agreement, or are we continuing with this case?”

“Who’s he?” whispered Will, leaning forward.

Charlie hung his head—and turned to address the judge. “I take it back—just…can I have a restraining order.”

“If that even works,” he added underneath his breath.

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Touched His Fangs – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 June 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Pale
  • Tired
  • Sharp

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Fenric pulled himself out of bed, still tired from the activities of the night before and padded over to the bathroom to take a shower. Out of all the innovations that had developed over the centuries, he was still particularly grateful for hot running water. Fenric took great pains to make sure he washed off the blood that had dried onto his pale skin and chastised himself. No matter how careful he was when eating, he always seemed to get some on his clothes. He touched his fangs to make sure they were as sharp as they should be thinking maybe they’d gotten a little dull and was making it more difficult to pierce the skin of his victims. But no, as usual, they were not at fault. He sighed, he’d just have to resign himself to the fact that he was a messy eater.

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LISA BARRY:

Henner’s skin shone in the moonlight, pale and stark. He was tired of running but it didn’t stop him from continuing a dizzying speed through the mountains and forests of the Dionish realm. He just had to make it to the Restrick lands and he would be safe. It was only another hour he guessed. He had two until the sun would start to rise. The sharp pain of a tree branch tearing the thin skin on his arm caused him to come fully awake once more. The hint of blood on the wind was fleeting as his arm healed even during the duress of his race to freedom. The guardian of his last meal, a beautiful dancing girl, would be able to run almost at his speed. Henner had been incredulous when the odd shifter had given chase seeing as how the girl was very alive. Apparently he had crossed an unseen boundary and only reaching the home hills of Restrick would keep him safe.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Jedrin opened his eyes, his body feeling strange and heavy. He looked down, and saw the pale form, but when he touched it, it seemed solid enough. A smile grew on his face. The spell had worked. He stood up, a wave of tired dizziness threatening to send his flying to all corners of the room. This was going to take some getting used to, he thought to himself.

He looked around at where he found himself, and for a moment he was disappointed – he had hoped that with a bit of luck, he would have remained near the overworld, close to his now dead body, but no spell was that powerful. This was undoubtedly the underworld, dark rock, and a whistling wind that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once. Sharp clicks sounded here and there, and glowing balls of a tired sort of light bobbed, disappearing as others appeared.

Jedrin started up, feeling the pull of the underworld as he ascended, his eyes burning, his mind fixed on one thing – the face of the man who had killed him. Jedrin didn’t mind so much – there was a plan, and being dead was part of it – but it irked him that the other had thought him so foolish and easily betrayed.

As he started planning the man’s unpleasant end, another thought occurred to Jedrin – what if he wasn’t as smart as he thought, and not the one doing the playing, he was the one being played?

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ERIKA LANCE:

The sun was rising and the blue of the sky was paler then normal. 

 

There was a chill in the air that caused him to shiver. He was tired. He had stood watch on the porch all night and the creature had not come. 

 

He had been promised it was this night. That this would be his once chance to protect her, his sister Mirra. She could hear it call to her, pulling her spirt toward it. She even told him she had seen it once. He didn’t want to believe her at first but the markings were all too real. 

 

He held up the dagger he had been given by the sage. In the morning light you would still see the tint of green. The salve that coated the blade with a promise of banishment.  

 

Jacob stood up. He wouldn’t be ready again tonight. He wasn’t sure what to do, or who to ask. The sage had left a fortnight ago. Tonight was the night. As he turned to head into the house he heard the sound of a twig snap and spun in time to see the open maw coming towards his throat. 

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JM PAQUETTE:

“With looks so pale and tired, you are sure to have some misadventure–” his man began, but Mark cut him off.

“Don’t you quote Shakespeare at me, you silly little man. Just because you know a few lines from your days as a failed actor does not mean you can tell someone like me what to do.”

“Sorry, sir,” the underling replied, clearly annoyed that he had not been able to finish the line.

“Besides, it’s ‘pale and wild,’ not ‘pale and tired,’ though I thank you for managing to insult me while also appearing to look out for my welfare. You think I’m heading toward some misadventure?”

The man squirmed again, but this time there was something else in the gaze, something Mark had not expected to see in his servant, something he should have noticed at once.

“Of course, my lord,” the man said, and turned aside, rummaging in the jacket hung on the back of the chair for something.

Mark leaned back in his own chair, wanting to focus more on that look, but unable to really make himself care. Really, it was just another servant. He’d had hundreds over the years. Still, one who could quote the Bard was different. He hadn’t heard so much Shakespeare since that season in London when he’d taken up with man himself. But then he’d gone and gotten himself involved with Lord Henry, and Mark had had to dip out of there quite suddenly. Lord Henry was not a forgiving man. There would have been consequences.

Unfortunately, Mark was thinking of better times and not paying attention to his man-servant, so when the sharp boom of the gunshot echoed through the chamber, he opened his eyes in shock, staring down at the bullet hole piercing his chest.

Oh not again, he thought with a sigh. Now I need another suit.

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BRANDON SCOTT

Jimmy was exhausted, tired, and perhaps even other words for not feeling awake, or energetic. He could not, of course, think of such words—as that required more mental energy than he had in his system.

But, even still, he was not so tired as to not notice the sharp teeth piercing into his leg, and the slimy liquid moving down from that spot.

“Oh…” he mumbled, glancing at the pale creature with lidless black eyes hooked around his feet. He shook his leg with a little feeble jerk, and then just walked along to his destination, dragging the creature along with him.

As he continued, going along with a stumbling, now rather weighted walk, he passed the remains of the city, his city. The one he grew up in and always resented. But, he did not appreciate the current destruction of it as much as he would have liked—since he was so tired and all.

With little grunts of awareness, more of the pale creatures—once people, before the meteor came with its payload—crawled out from various places where they’d hidden from the sun, and from what remained of humanity, and from the much worse hunters now on the planet.

Jimmy paid them no mind, even as they crept out further, dealing with the light, and hissing in annoyance at it.

He was so damn tired, you see, and so much wanting to sleep. And when a clawed hand knocked him to the ground, hitting him to the black of unconscious immediately, he was grateful for the excuse.

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The Magic Jewel – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 June 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Record
  • Pace
  • Test

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

He wandered through the silent halls, where the history of the world was recorded on tapestries and murals, from its beginning, springing forth from the well-spring Herdor in the realm of the gods, and its journey down the great river, where it came to rest among the stars. So absorbed in the tale of pictures that he didn’t see his contact standing in the shadows, waiting and watching with glittering eyes.

“You’re late,” a voice issued forth.

Jedrin started, and paced himself as he moved towards the other, slow enough not to seem subservient, but fast enough not to raise ire or test the patience.

“I had to make sure I wasn’t followed,” he told the other, whose name he still did not know. “Good,” the hidden figure praised. “Caution and intelligence. We’ll make a good pair.”

Jedrin nodded, knowing that he was trusted just as much as he trusted his mysterious partner. “Did you bring it?” the other continued.

Jedrin nodded, and took the magic jewel from  the pocket in his jacket. He felt the knife slide into his ribs, and he stood gaping, watching with wide eyes as the figure stepped from his hiding place, baring his face to the light. The person removed the jewel from Jedrin’s outstretched hand, nodded his thanks with a cold smile, and was walking away as Jedrin dropped. Jedrin burned the memory of the man’s face into his mind, each detail etched hard enough to carry to the underworld, and then his life force fled.

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LISA BARRY:

The test was supposed to start at dawn but finding the body of Roy Harley delayed it. He was laying right in the middle of the field where the potato sack races usually were held after the tests were done. Hanna stood leaning on a tree at the edge of the field and watched as the local witch and the medicine man from the next village looked the body over. He was pacing and gesticulating wildly, Hanna forced away a smile. She knew exactly what the body looked like. She could write the record of Roy’s death and no one will ever know. Two local teens arrived to collect the body and one of them stopped to throw up, the witch pushed him away from the body so it wouldn’t be further messed. A bell rang calling the test start in the next field. Hannah smiled this time and started to walk, happy in the knowledge that Roy would never hurt anyone else ever again.

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ERIKA LANCE:

“Why would someone record this?” Detective Mills asked as he turned away from the screen holding back from throwing up. 

 

Sarah continued to watch. The film was on loop. Every gory detail played out at pace that caused you to want to press the fast forward button. 

 

“I think this was a test” she finally said looking around at the scene. There were blood and body parts all around her. The coroner had to lay down plastic sheeting to walk on after the photos were taken. You couldn’t even recognize the parts as human except the head with open eyes full of terror staring at you when you walked in. 

 

“A test?” Mills asked as he tried to find somewhere to look that didn’t further his unsettled stomach. 

 

Sarah nodded “He or She is wondering if they will be caught, If they are, this ends, if not it will continue and get bigger.” She sighed then. She knew from scanning the room this was just the beginning.  

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JM PAQUETTE:

“This is a test. Repeat: This is only a test.” The voice had been droning on for the last thirteen minutes, the same sentence over and over like a broken record, except there wasn’t an actual record player anywhere that Shae could find to kick over, knock down, or break. No, just walls and walls of silver steel and red wires and some kind of bluish gel in rubber tubes running up and down the walls. She had smashed some of them, to no avail. They got darker, the red lights fading a smidge, but the damage only seemed to affect a single panel at a time, each smash of her warhammer only dimming the glow of a square half the size of her body. This would not do–and certainly not with that damn voice repeating over and over again loud enough to make her ears bleed. She could her heart pounding in rhythm with the syllables each time.

She’d tried cutting the tubes, but had only succeeding in getting the weird blue gel all over her hands for a second before it cut off. Apparently the system could sense a break and stopped the stuff from flooding through to wherever it was any of this stuff was going.

There had to be some kind of master panel somewhere, some computer screen that controlled all of this stuff. Shae just had to find it before she lost her mind. She swiped at her ears, not sure if the wetness there was from the blue gel left on her hands or her ears actually bleeding until they came back red. Definitely bleeding then. She would have to pick up the pace if she was going to get out of this with her hearing intact.

Shae wasn’t a huge fan of music, and there were certainly things in life she wished she hadn’t been able to hear, but it would be pretty hard to convince her clients that she was an effective problem-solver if she couldn’t hear anymore. No one wants a deaf saboteur.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

The echo of the record playing on the gramophone reverberated down the corridor, its sound haunting to Axton’s ears and it drew him in. Slowly he walked down the narrow hallway, covered in tattered red striped wallpaper. The mansion had been abandoned for some time and its neglect was apparent in every corner he looked in. As he approached the room, in which the sound originated, he peered around the edge uncertain what he may find. The question raging in his mind of, who turned on the music? From around the corner, Axton determined that the room was empty, but he still approached the gramophone cautiously, carefully pacing out each step as if testing the very ground he was walking on.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“What was that?” Bill asked, taking the headphone off his head. Next to him, Samantha lowered her own headphones away from her ear.

“I don’t…was that part of the test?” Samantha said, looking over at the freestanding microphone and camera set up, the device recording the whole room.

“No… I was…did we record that?” Bill said, rushing over to his computer, and checking a few things. “What the heck was that?”

“Did it sound to you like—”

“Yes,” Bill said, cutting her off. “It did. But please don’t say it.”

“But, I mean, it was perfect—the pace, the rhythm. I don’t…I don’t know what else it could be.”

“I’m sure there’s something else to it,” Bill said, now moving over to the camera and adjusting the angle and seeing the old images. He ran it back a few second, seeing him and her move around in reverse order. The cup she dropped going back up marked the images as going too far.

“I don’t see anything. Here, let’s try that again.”

Samantha nodded, though obviously hesitant, and placed back on the headphones, pushing them to her head.

Bill nodded. “Okay, let’s start the—”

Samantha’s scream cut him off. She threw the headphones to the ground and stepped away.

“I swear to god I heard it,” Samantha shrieked, “I swear to god it was that sound.”

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Relinquish the Magic Item – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 7 June 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Thug
  • Hoodie
  • Relinquish

And these blurbs were written within five minutes….Enjoy!

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“You know you look like a thug in that hoodie,” Tina told him as they tiptoed their way down the back alley. “Seriously. We’re supposed to be avoiding attention, not screaming out ‘Up to No Good.’ Who dressed you?”

“It’s not a hoodie,” Seth argued. “It’s a sweatshirt that has a hood. I’ve pulled it up to hide my face. Aren’t we supposed to be committing a felony here?”

“Yes,” she snapped, “but part of succeeding at this venture involves not getting noticed and not getting caught. That thing stands out a mile away.”

“It does not!”

“It does!” she insisted.

“It’s magic.”

Tina stopped dead in her tracks. “Did you just tell me that you’re wearing a magic hoodie?”

Seth nodded. “It’s a long story. But it works. Trust me. This is going to be perfect.”

Tina stared at him, hands on her hips in her furious stance. “You have a magic hoodie and you never told me? What does it do?”

“It makes me harder to see.”

“No,” Tina told him. “I see you just fine.”

“But you know me. You expected me. This only works on people who don’t know me.”

“So what do they see?”

“A guy in a hoodie.”

“That’s it,” Tina snapped. “Hand it over. You’ve lost your damn mind.”

Seth tugged his hood closer around his face. “Not me!” he tried to explain. “They see a guy in a hoodie, but he doesn’t look anything like me.”

“So what about me, your memorable companion?”

“Ummmm…. I figured you had something for you figured out.”

Tina pulled her dagger from her belt. “I just did.” She gestured at him. “Hand over the magic hoodie.”

“No.”

“Give it here.” The dagger moved menacingly in her talented hand. “You will relinquish the magic item to me, Seth. Now.”

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LISA BARRY:

Hoodie stared into the wide hole, one foot at the edge and one foot poised to run. His heart beat a bit faster than usual. He felt confident that as a thug he should not be concerned about what might come out of the hole but the fact that it had appeared out of nowhere, kind of like that sinkhole that took his mom’s house two years ago. He had relinquished every dollar he’d had to her to replace that house only to lose her, the house and the cat to a fire three months later. A soft moan like the wind swirled around him. A coolness coated his bare skin. He tightened his namesake around him and started to step away from the hole. A fear like he’d never known crept up his legs, halting his retreat slowing his breath. The smell of mildew came lightly and then grew like the salty air when you approach the sea. A darkness emerged from the hole and Hoodie let out a scream that no one would ever hear.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Jesper walked down the dark alley, eyeing the thug in the black hoodie walking towards him, stubbornly unwilling to relinquish his right to walk at night. The young man with the greedy glint in his eye began to wander closer to the middle of the alley, and Jesper tried with all his mental power to convince the unfortunate man to just pass him by. No such luck. With a movement that was quick and graceful from too many hours spent practicing, the would-be mugger pulled out a knife and waved it in what he thought was a threatening manner at Jesper.

“Gimme your wallet!” the boy demanded.

Jesper tried to think of another way to do this, but the kid had asked for it.

“No,” Jesper replied calmly, his nonchalant manner calculated to irritate his assailant.

It worked perfectly. The mugger stepped towards him, knife up at a dangerous angle, and was now close enough for Jesper to grasp. He used a light touch, his fingers closing around the kid’s wrist with a whisper, hardly any pressure brought to bear on his flesh, but it was all Jesper needed. The will went out of the criminal young man, his face going slack, his eyes blank. It only took a moment for Jesper to drain the body of the curious life force that propelled it through time towards the nebulous goal of the future and an eventual death. When Jesper removed his fingers, the body slumped to the ground, the knife clattering sharply on the cement, and Jesper walked on, feeling invigorated.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

It was time to relinquish my title as the world’s least thuggish thug. Well, they say that, but not once they meet me.

Sure, I was running a criminal enterprise, but I didn’t start it. And sure, I was known to occasionally relax the laws and cause a person or two in my way to disappear, but never unless it was important. I was the cutest teenager you ever saw. Check my instagram if you don’t believe me. #nofilter

As my father’s only child, I’d seized his entire enterprise when he died in a totally cliche hail of bullets last year. Sure, I’d been forced into graduating from posh sparkly hoodies to real-life hood, really, but it seriously wasn’t my fault. Sure, I had an unusual enthusiasm for it, and a ruthlessness almost unmatched in organized crime. But like, look how adorable I always was. Especially in these boots! I mean, come on! You can’t stay mad at me when I smile, this lip gloss is just too convincing. I got it at the mall.

Except here I was, meeting the absolutely most adorable mob boss in the world! Apparently, the triads had been suuuuper smart. They’d sent over the grandson of the chairman, and like, I could totally see what they were doing, but omgomgomg he was so cute! He works a freaking adorbs punk rock style suit and had totally manga hair. Like, I half expected him to super sayam on me. He smiled as we made our plans. We were totally going to cooperate, maybe even join our families someday. Or I’d just have to kill him in his sleep.

I could go either way. I smiled at him as I ordered the head of my western dealings decapitated. He was the only capo not interested in working with the triads. Served him right for mixing checks and stripes. So totally lame. Like, how did you survive without fashion sense? Well, I guess you didn’t.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“Relinquish thy firearm you ruffian,” said Wigglesworth, adjusting his monocle. “I will not stand for any of your tomfoolery.”

Gus, in his hoodie, and with his gold pistol—held at a sideways angle—tilted his head in confusion. “What are you getting at mate, I don’t understand you.”

“I said, you thug, to give me your weapon.”
“You want my gun, why would I give you my gun?” Gus said, looking more and more confused, and debating on just shooting the guy and taking all his stuff.

“Because, I am older and wiser, and this is unbecoming of someone in this town. Please, do not shame your forefathers, and your next of kin, with such devilment.”

Gus again had almost no earthly clue what this man was saying. He gestured out with his gun. “Just give me your fucking cash.”
“And now you soil your mouth, heathen!” Wigglesworth said and then fell backward as the bullet tore through his collar bone.

“You fancy-talking little…” Gus mumbled, annoyed that he had to hurt someone. He needed the money, didn’t like the blood as much. “Why not just give me your freaking wallet?”

Gus picked up the leather wallet from Wigglesworth’s jacket and found it empty.

“What? You got no cash.”

“Spent it all…on the monocle…” was Wigglesworth’s last words.

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