Unforgiving Sun – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Drought
  • Slippery
  • Bird

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Marcus looked up into the sky, the unforgiving sun beating down on him. He sneered at the yellow orb, as he silently cursed it for bringing the drought upon his people. It had been a long summer, in fact the longest ever recorded, and in the last three years of this unending heat, there had been no rain. Many of the villagers began to think it was a curse brought down upon us by the two sisters that lived in the castle on the hill. Marcus turned his attention in that direction and observed a flock of black birds diving amongst each other above the turrets of the stone castle. From here, he could see the slippery surface of its rock walls, slick with a dripping red liquid.

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LISA BARRY:

The drought had chased away most of the animals but it was the birds Sharn missed the most. Their pleasant song in the morning always helped to shake away the cobwebs of the night and bring a joy to the day that no song maker could quite duplicate.

Stepping into what once was the garden, Sharn let the sun surge into her skin and revitalize her form. This planet, this little village had been her peace for so long she hated to leave it but the drought had taken too much and she would not let it take her too. Lips curved downward for the first time in months, Sharn went to pack up the treasures she had collected and prepared for the four-day hike to her vessel.

As she closed the first sack, the house darkened and the air smelled like ozone. Sharn smiled and leapt to the window. The walkway outside would soon be slippery with rain and the animals would return. Her world was hers once more.

 

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“The birds all disappeared with the rain,” the old man’s voice was ominous, and sent chills sliding over Tam’s skin, like cold, slippery snakes.

He tried to edge around the dirty, hunched figure at the side of the road, but fate had other plans for Tam, and the sound of pounding hoof beats made him lunge for safety out of the path of the frantic rider. Coughing and choking on the dust left behind, Tam saw the old man’s bright eyes trained on him, and gave him a fright. He could’ve sworn the old man was blind.

“Do you remember before the drought?” the man asked.

Tam shook his head. He was only five and thirty and the rain had been gone since his father was a little boy.

“I remember,” the man said, a wistful look in his eyes. “I remember green.”

Tam nodded, and stood up. He dug around in his pocket for a coin, figuring the man had shared his little spot on the side of the road so Tam didn’t get trampled, and that was worth a penny or two. He held out the money, and the man stared at him for a long time before reaching out. Bony fingers closed over Tam’s wrist, and the man pulled him down so they were nose to nose.

“Only the black can bring back the rain, but first he must be found,” the man said in a fierce whisper, then pushed Tam away.

Tam stumbled back, and when he looked at the man again, he was hunched over his begging cup, white, sightless eyes staring out at the dusty street.

 

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ERIKA LANCE:

Malcom walked towards her with the cube as it shrunk until he held it up.

“It looks like a bird” Heather said.

Malcom shrugged. “It is one you don’t want to hear sing”.

He slid the cube in his pouch.

“Were done here then?” Heather asked desperate to get home to try to wash the glitter veins off her skin.

“No and they won’t come off” Malcom said walking past her.

“How did you….?” She began.

“It is what I thought when it happened to me” he said and scanned down the hallway.

Heather wanted to say something more but there was movement up in front of them.

Malcom started to move forward but before he took a step Heather grabbed his hand and pointed at the slippery substance coating the floor in front of them.

Malcom shook his head.

“The fairies ignoring the drought huh?” Heather said pulling some sand from her pouch smiling.

Malcom just sighed pulling out his own sand.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“Dude, you just need to get some,” Sam told him.

The vampire turned to his roommate, face dead serious. “You do not get to say such things to me,” Thomas told his companion. “And I am not a dude.”

“Duuudde,” Sam let the word trail off. “Seriously. You need to leave this apartment, go out into the city, do your voodoo charm thing on some hot sexy thing, and let off some steam.”

“I do not need to let off steam. I am not remotely steamy,” Thomas defended himself.

“Exactly,” Sam snapped. “And you need to be. You are intolerable.” Sam walked across the living room, then turned back to his friend, face more concerned than teasing now. “How long has it been?”

“It has been…” Thomas let the words trail off.

“Yes?” Sam prompted. After another moment with Thomas scrutinizing the ceiling for some kind of clue, Sam burst out. “You don’t even remember!”

“Of course I remember,” Thomas snapped. “I was just doing math.”

“Doing math? Come on! I thought this was a dry spell, but no, man, this is a literal drought. You need to just relax and let loose.”

“You do not want me to let loose. Believe me. That is a dangerous slippery slope. I don’t know that this city would survive it.”

“Well, you’re a vampire. You can’t survive without human blood. I know you love your birds and cats and rats and whatnot, but come on already. Eat the damn Snickers.”

 

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BRANDON SCOTT

John stood, alone, in his bathroom, looking at things which only he could see. Or, rather, any faerie could see, but if there were in his bathroom to do so, they were in some serious trouble with him.

These thoughts moved around his head for a moment, before he shook them loose like he’d seen his wife do in that odd, but rather cute, human way, and cast out his hands. The room had some tinges of trickster’s spells on it, though they were small and slippery—not liking to be looked at for more than a few seconds in their green sparkling form.

He squinted though, finding one that was caught on some tile. The exposed minerals oddly the right combo to hold magic in place. With practiced fingers, he brought forth a small shape in the air and breathed it toward the spot.

The spark, though, did not like this idea and blinked a few times. The spell summoned a bird, a blue bird to be exact, instead, and it chirped with a panic around the room.

“Everything okay in there?” Heather asked, off somewhere. John yelled back an uncommitted confirmation and went back to his work, deep-frying the bird out of the air with a quick spell.

The smell was not great.

“Alright, you little…” he said, revving up another spell aimed for the small green dot. At that moment, it again blinked out a spell in retaliation.

This time nothing was obviously gone wrong until Heather ran into the room and asked why and how he had managed to make California have another drought.

 

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Featured Author: Brandon

FEATURED AUTHOR

Brandon Scott

Brandon’s Website

Brandon’s Facebook

 

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!

____________________________________

Fingers, faerie, bathtub

“You found what?” Heather said, looking at the now-empty bathtub, with the rings and the rust.

“A finger,” replied John, almost as a question.

“And, you didn’t tell me sooner? You didn’t, I don’t know, scream or yell or anything?”

“Um, no,” John said, sitting down on the toilet. He folded his arms over his chest. Suddenly annoyed that she was annoyed—he’d meant it to be a funny thing to tell her. But, ugh, human sometimes.

“Did you even question who it was from?” Heather asked, peering down the drain, though with some hesitation, as if she expected something to poke up from the silver hole and waggle at her.

“No, why would I? It’s just a finger?”

“Just a…” Heather said, her voice quiet before she trailed off into her own head for a moment. She shook her hair back and forth as if the action would somehow deal with the unusual thoughts swimming there.

“Is that something that happens often to faeries?” she asked, casting a side eye at him. “Because I feel like that should have been something you told me before the honeymoon.”

John shrugged. “It’s not abnormal. Trickster magic can cause all sorts of things to happen like that. It might not even belong to a real human hand if I’m being honest. Or, if it did, it was likely not a person in this plane of reality.”
“I’m not sure that makes it better,” Heather said.

____________________________________

Burn, history, random

“It doesn’t?” he asked, still sounding a bit offended. Heather, for a moment, wanted to snap at her husband, and his weird, weird ideas of normalcy, but she held back—she’d known, as everyone with a non-human spouse did, that some arguments were not worth having.

But, knowledge often does not stop something from happening. And, in this case, though delivered much gentler, as if flirting or teasing or just ribbing, she said: “Not if it’s random.”

“Oh,” John said, seeming to get it. “So, if it was someone you had a history with, you might be more okay with their fingers being off? Like, say, an old bully or something?”

John, as he finished that sentence, grew a look in his eyes. A look Heather recognized and panicked internally upon seeing. Not this again—oh God not this again. The house continued to burn for three days after the last time.

“No, no, that is perfectly fine. I just…I don’t…humans don’t like body parts showing up like that regardless. Could you…I don’t know, but up some kind of charm—”

“Charms are not for preventing things, that’s not how they work,” John interrupted, pleased he could give a lesson in proper magical theory. “Now, if we were talking about wards, that might be another matter—”

“Okay, how about wards? Could we block out the random magic, then?”

“I guess,” John said—perhaps a bit hesitant.

“Thanks,” Heather said, glad she’d managed that much. “Get to it then,” she said and pecked him on the forehead before leaving him there.

____________________________________

Drought, slippery, bird

John stood, alone, in his bathroom, looking at things which only he could see. Or, rather, any faerie could see, but if there were in his bathroom to do so, they were in some serious trouble with him.

These thoughts moved around his head for a moment, before he shook them loose like he’d seen his wife do in that odd, but rather cute, human way, and cast out his hands. The room had some tinges of trickster’s spells on it, though they were small and slippery—not liking to be looked at for more than a few seconds in their green sparkling form.

He squinted though, finding one that was caught on some tile. The exposed minerals oddly the right combo to hold magic in place. With practiced fingers, he brought forth a small shape in the air and breathed it toward the spot.

The spark, though, did not like this idea and blinked a few times. The spell summoned a bird, a blue bird to be exact, instead, and it chirped with a panic around the room.

“Everything okay in there?” Heather asked, off somewhere. John yelled back an uncommitted confirmation and went back to his work, deep-frying the bird out of the air with a quick spell.

The smell was not great.

“Alright, you little…” he said, revving up another spell aimed for the small green dot. At that moment, it again blinked out a spell in retaliation.

This time nothing was obviously gone wrong until Heather ran into the room and asked why and how he had managed to make California have another drought.

 

About Brandon Scott

Hey, my name is Brandon Scott (though I often go by the name coolerbs). In 2014 I became a professional writer and it has been the ride of my life. I’ve met so many incredible people, and created more than I thought I ever could. And I am so excited for the future.

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Fairy in my Bathtub – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Burn
  • History
  • Random

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“Did I ever tell you about that time there was a fairy in my bathtub?” Frankie said, the words completely random in the midst of the normal tavern talk, and the three bored faces at the bar turned simultaneously to stare at her, interest seeping through the alcohol-fueled expressions.
“Huh?” the closest one said, the dwarf actually putting a hand to his ear as if he hadn’t heard what she said.
“True story,” Frankie continued. “Came home after a long trip, you know, one of those slay-the-dragon-get-the-treasure-win-the-princess deals–and there he was, just sitting there all perfect and shiny.”
“He was taking a bath in your tub?” the elf at the end asked, face incredulous.
“No. He was just sitting in it. He didn’t even know there was supposed to be water in it. He thought he was waiting for me where I slept.”
“Damn fairies,” the dwarf in the middle commented. “No wonder our economy has gone downhill. They don’t understand anything about the rest of us.”
“He said he was educated,” Frankie continued, “went on and on about how he had read all the history books in the castle, and knew that the only thing to do was to wait for a fair maiden in her resting place to snag himself a wife.”
“That kind of thing was outlawed ages ago,” the elf said. “No more snatching brides–they can get their wives the same way everyone else does. Talking to them!”
Frankie shrugged. “Well, this guy was very upset about the whole thing. I tried to explain it, but his face just turned so red. You know those red-headed fairies catch fire at the drop of a hat.”
“How’d you get him to leave?” the middle dwarf asked.
Frankie shrugged. “I told him I was already married to a pixie. He burst into flame and that was that. Burned away to nothing.”

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LISA BARRY:

“The history of the submergible cufflink is actually quite fascinating,” Cullen stated as he twisted his mustache thoughtfully. Lauren panicked at the idea of having to sit through another of Cullen’s random and likely completely made up stories of a historical nature in some universe she wasn’t living in. He was droning on when she caught a glimpse of smoke through the window. At first it seemed a neighbor might be doing some debris burning until she remembered that she was in the city. No one burned debris in the neighborhoods. She popped from the settee and ran to the window. Cullen stopped, glanced and then continued his dissertation.

“On no!” Lauren cried, “the house across the street is burning!” She called to her butler and ordered him to tell the fire station at once then ran outside herself. Large billowing clouds drifted up and she saw a slim, handsome man staring forlornly at the house. She went and took his hand. He looked at her for just a moment before giving her hand a squeeze and then watching his house once more.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“There is nothing random about this,” Henna told the inspector. “This was a deliberate act of premeditated arson.”

The inspector glared down at her over his clipboard, and made a note before walking away without a word. Henna sighed, and looked around for someone who would be able to help her. She tried not to notice the still burning house, but it was hard as it was right in front of her and in flames. Flames edged in green.

“Random, my foot,” Henna muttered.

“I’d have to agree,” a voice behind her said pleasantly, but she jumped as if they had shouted. She turned to find a handsome man with silver hair and piercing blue eyes standing there, looking at her with the hint of a smile on his lips. He wore a jacket, but there were no marking to identify his position or rank.

“Who are you?” Henna asked.

“A watcher of worlds,” the man told her, and a shiver ran down Henna’s spine.

“What do you want with me?” she whispered. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I know that,” he nodded. “But the others won’t. They’ll just see this -” he jutted his pointed chin towards the smoking ruin, “-and the rest will be lost in history.”

“But you’re going to help me?” Henna asked, clutching desperately at the straw he left hanging so tantalizingly close yet unspoken. “You’ll help me find out who did this and get back what they stole?”

His smile widened ever so slightly. “For a price.”

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ERIKA LANCE:

The dust came towards them and although they both tried to move out of the path it followed Heather. 

 

The shimmery substance hit her. The dust that coated the skin on her arm and hand began to burn. She looked down to see what appeared to be small worms made of glitter burrowing under her skin. 

 

She screamed out and Malcom ran to her side. 

 

“Try to slow your breathing” he said with some urgency. 

 

“What?” Heather managed to say as she was writhing. 

 

“They move deeper based on the flow of blood. More blood, more burrowing, less blood…. Well you get it.” He said. 

 

Heather tried to slow her breathing. When she managed to do so and the burrowing began to slow then they simply lay on her skin. 

 

“They look like glitter veins” she said finally “How do I get them off?” 

 

“You don’t” Malcom said approaching the cube. 

 

“What?” She tried not to sound like an upset child. 

 

With a sigh he said “I know you do not remember much from the history I taught you as you slept through most of it but that is an essence spell. Not some random trick.” 

 

Heather wasn’t pleased. 

 

“Not to worry. They will seal themselves to you soon.” He said trying to comfort her, although didn’t meet her gaze as he gathered their prey. 

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

The events that had occurred this week had all seemed unconnected, but at this moment it was clear that they were far from random. The pitbull that kept crossing Eric’s path, the bus that was late, even the fact that his wallet was stolen…all of these things led him to right now, where history would be made. Eric’s mind burned with curiosity as he picked up the crystal staff the pitbull was now sitting next to, his wallet laying by the dog’s feet. His surprise at finding his wallet, was displaced with concern as the staff began to grow warm and an intense white light shown from it, nearly blinding him.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“It doesn’t?” he asked, still sounding a bit offended. Heather, for a moment, wanted to snap at her husband, and his weird, weird ideas of normalcy, but she held back—she’d known, as everyone with a non-human spouse did, that some arguments were not worth having.

But, knowledge often does not stop something from happening. And, in this case, though delivered much gentler, as if flirting or teasing or just ribbing, she said: “Not if it’s random.”

“Oh,” John said, seeming to get it. “So, if it was someone you had a history with, you might be more okay with their fingers being off? Like, say, an old bully or something?”

John, as he finished that sentence, grew a look in his eyes. A look Heather recognized and panicked internally upon seeing. Not this again—oh God not this again. The house continued to burn for three days after the last time.

“No, no, that is perfectly fine. I just…I don’t…humans don’t like body parts showing up like that regardless. Could you…I don’t know, but up some kind of charm—”

“Charms are not for preventing things, that’s not how they work,” John interrupted, pleased he could give a lesson in proper magical theory. “Now, if we were talking about wards, that might be another matter—”

“Okay, how about wards? Could we block out the random magic, then?”

“I guess,” John said—perhaps a bit hesitant.

“Thanks,” Heather said, glad she’d managed that much. “Get to it then,” she said and pecked him on the forehead before leaving him there.

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What is That? – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Fingers
  • Faery
  • Bathtub

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“What is that?” Tipsy wrinkled his nose as he peered into the small washroom. The smell assaulted him like a hammer swung by a troll, and his bright blue eyes began to smart and water. “Lindy, are you in there?”

“Don’t touch anything!” a flustered screech greeted him, and then Lindy’s small frame came rushing through the colored smoke, clearing enough of a path so that he could see the bathtub, which was filled with a red liquid that looked horribly like watery blood.

“What is that?” Tipsy repeated.

Lindy glanced over her shoulder, and shrugged. “Strawberry juice.”

“Oh. Why is it in there?”

“Because that’s what the spell book said,” Lindy announced, and marched past him, peeling off her long leather gloves. Her fingers were raw and burned. Large, white blisters covered her right palm.

“You shouldn’t be touching that,” Tipsy said, following her and waving his hands, though she couldn’t see her distress. “You don’t know the first thing about spellwork.”

At this, she rounded on him, and he realized he should have chosen his words more carefully. He quailed under her hot glare.

“I may not know anything about spellwork, but at least I’m trying! While you’re off trying to become human, I’m here trying to get us back to faerie, where we belong!” Somewhere during her tirade, tears had leaked out of the corner of her eyes, and as Tipsy was trying to come up with something that would make the tears disappear, the bathtub gave an ominous gurgle.

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LISA BARRY:

Sharon stared at her swollen fingers. When the door had slammed it had hurt but not near as much as her fingers were showing. She had decided not to play the piano at the evenings event but this? This could seriously destroy her career. This was not anticipated at all when she slammed the door early. The swollen was starting to be quite painful as she ran into the forest to find a faery to help her handle this mess. She glanced at her now throbbing hand and felt her foot scream in agony before she went airborne. She threw her hands out, touched the ground and rolled. Jumping to put her back to a tree she searched for her foe. An old-fashioned bathtub stood out, gleaming white, hand painted roses covered its sides, silver claw feet shined in the sun.

“Looking for me?” a seductive voice smoothed over her like caramel.

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ERIKA LANCE:

Looking around the abandoned bathroom very little seemed out of place. The dust that coated the floor was un-marred with the exception of their footsteps. 

 

“I don’t think she in there” whispered Malcom. 

 

Heather’s eyes scanned the room and then nodded in the direction of the overturned bathtub. “You’re right, we should move on” saying the words but gesturing to remove the item hidden in his pouch. 

 

They turned slowly and began to back out of the room as his fingers wrapped around the small box shaped item. 

 

“Now” heather whispered. 

 

Malcom tossed the cube. He would only have one shot because once the attempt was made he would be linked to that location until something was trapped there. 

 
The bathtub flew back exposing a small winged creature that was unleashing some dust of its own a split second before the cube surrounded her. 

 

“Crap…. Duck” Malcom said as the fairy-dust came flying at them. 

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JM PAQUETTE:

“I’m sorry,” I said, digging my fingers into the spot on my forehead that had started to throb, “but did you just say that you think the entrance to Faerie is through your bathtub?”

Jessie nodded enthusiastically. “Crazy, right?” She was nodding so fast I was afraid her head might spin off into space if she didn’t slow down. “But it’s true! Seriously. It’s there.”

“I’m sure it is,” I told her, using my best calming voice as I tried to recall what the therapist had said about delusional spells. Just accept her version of reality, they said. Don’t upset her by challenging things. She will get through this faster if we work with her instead of against her.

“You don’t believe me,” she said, calling me out immediately. “You think I’m crazy again.”

“It’s not that,” I told her, scrambling for another angle. “It’s just…”

“It’s just what?” she demanded.

“It’s just that if there were an actual doorway to Faerie, a way for you to get back to this home you keep speaking of, then I don’t think it’s going to be found in a bathtub!”

“And why not?” Jessie was indignant now, chin pointing up. “It’s not one those modern contraptions you call a tub. It’s the real thing, with claw feet and everything. A proper bathing vessel. Where else would the entrance be?”

“I don’t know,” I mused. “Maybe a closet?”

“That’s Narnia,” she snapped. “Please get your magical realms straight. I have no intention of visiting a realm of talking animals. What do I look like–a crazy person?”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

It was a warm day in the Faerie realm, the sky an unusual shade of blue, streaked with pale yellow rays of the sun and the air smelled of lilacs. The beauty of the landscape lulled its visitors into a false sense of safety, but Aldin was a trained assassin and knew the dangers well. Carefully, he walked the well-worn paths, careful not to stray into the brush. As he approached a lake, he saw one of the Fae preening herself in the water as if she were in a bathtub. She ran her long slender fingers through her fire red hair and Aldin’s breath caught. His training didn’t prepare him for this.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“You found what?” Heather said, looking at the now-empty bathtub, with the rings and the rust.

“A finger,” replied John, almost as a question.

“And, you didn’t tell me sooner? You didn’t, I don’t know, scream or yell or anything?”

“Um, no,” John said, sitting down on the toilet. He folded his arms over his chest. Suddenly annoyed that she was annoyed—he’d meant it to be a funny thing to tell her. But, ugh, human sometimes.

“Did you even question who it was from?” Heather asked, peering down the drain, though with some hesitation, as if she expected something to poke up from the silver hole and waggle at her.

“No, why would I? It’s just a finger?”

“Just a…” Heather said, her voice quiet before she trailed off into her own head for a moment. She shook her hair back and forth as if the action would somehow deal with the unusual thoughts swimming there.

“Is that something that happens often to faeries?” she asked, casting a side eye at him. “Because I feel like that should have been something you told me before the honeymoon.”

John shrugged. “It’s not abnormal. Trickster magic can cause all sorts of things to happen like that. It might not even belong to a real human hand if I’m being honest. Or, if it did, it was likely not a person in this plane of reality.”
“I’m not sure that makes it better,” Heather said.

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Featured Author: Erika Lance

FEATURED AUTHOR

Erika Lance

www.ErikaLance.com

Erika’s Facebook Page

 

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!

____________________________________

Fingers 

Fairy 

Bathtub 

 

 

Looking around the abandoned bathroom very little seemed out of place. The dust that coated the floor was un-marred with the exception of their footsteps. 

 

“I don’t think she in there” whispered Malcom. 

 

Heather’s eyes scanned the room and then nodded in the direction of the overturned bathtub. “You’re right, we should move on” saying the words but gesturing to remove the item hidden in his pouch. 

 

They turned slowly and began to back out of the room as his fingers wrapped around the small box shaped item. 

 

“Now” heather whispered. 

 

Malcom tossed the cube. He would only have one shot because once the attempt was made he would be linked to that location until something was trapped there. 

 
The bathtub flew back exposing a small winged creature that was unleashing some dust of its own a split second before the cube surrounded her. 

 

“Crap…. Duck” Malcom said as the fairy-dust came flying at them. 

____________________________________

Burn 

History 

Random 

 

The dust came towards them and although they both tried to move out of the path it followed Heather. 

 

The shimmery substance hit her. The dust that coated the skin on her arm and hand began to burn. She looked down to see what appeared to be small worms made of glitter burrowing under her skin. 

 

She screamed out and Malcom ran to her side. 

 

“Try to slow your breathing” he said with some urgency. 

 

“What?” Heather managed to say as she was writhing. 

 

“They move deeper based on the flow of blood. More blood, more burrowing, less blood…. Well you get it.” He said. 

 

Heather tried to slow her breathing. When she managed to do so and the burrowing began to slow then they simply lay on her skin. 

 

“They look like glitter veins” she said finally “How do I get them off?” 

 

“You don’t” Malcom said approaching the cube. 

 

“What?” She tried not to sound like an upset child. 

 

With a sigh he said “I know you do not remember much from the history I taught you as you slept through most of it but that is an essence spell. Not some random trick.” 

 

Heather wasn’t pleased. 

 

“Not to worry. They will seal themselves to you soon.” He said trying to comfort her, although didn’t meet her gaze as he gathered their prey. 

____________________________________

Drought 

Slippery 

Bird 

 

Malcom walked towards her with the cube as it shrunk until he held it up. 

 

“It looks like a bird” Heather said. 

 

Malcom shrugged. “It is one you don’t want to hear sing”. 

 

He slid the cube in his pouch. 

 

“Were done here then?” Heather asked desperate to get home to try to wash the glitter veins off her skin.  

 

“No and they won’t come off” Malcom said walking past her. 

 

“How did you….?” She began. 

 

“It is what I thought when it happened to me” he said and scanned down the hallway. 

 

Heather wanted to say something more but there was movement up in front of them.  

 

Malcom started to move forward but before he took a step Heather grabbed his hand and pointed at the slippery substance coating the floor in front of them. 

 

Malcom shook his head.  
 

“The fairies ignoring the drought huh?” Heather said pulling some sand from her pouch smiling. 

 

Malcom just sighed pulling out his own sand. 

About Erika Lance

I would say I was fortunate, some would say otherwise, to have a chance to live across the US. Originally from Minneapolis, MN I spent most of my formative years in Hollywood, CA, then NM, CO, GA, WI and FL. Moving around a lot meant I got to see so many interesting parts of our country and the cultures that are all around us. All through my life I was lucky to have many artists; writers, actors, painters, poets and musicians. It made for a very wild upbringing. I grew up as an elusive female nerd. My head was either buried in a book or playing RPGs (if your cool you know what that means), it made for an imaginative existence. My love of writing started at a young age and although I wrote a lot for myself, it took hitting that certain moment in my life to decide I wanted to share my universe with the world. With that said, it will most likely be an amazing ride so hold on tight.

 

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Small Bones – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 9 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Ghastly
  • Tea
  • Crunch

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

Mauri took a sip of her tea and something crunched between her teeth. Her stomach turned as the many possibilities of items possibly in her mouth ran thru her mind.

Jon took a sip and made a face.

“Oh, that’s ghastly,” he commented and put the cup down. “Mauri, darling, your tea making skills have not improved.”

“I didn’t make that pot, mum did,” Mauri complained. Then giggled. “It is terrible, isn’t it.”

He rolled his eyes and stood, taking the pot with him to the sink.

“Ghastly,” he said again and looked into the sink. He stared.

“What it is?” Mauri asked.

When Jon didn’t answer she stood and rushed to look in the sink. Bits of fluff and small bones were scattered against last night’s dishes.

“Oh no, not again,” Mauri whispered as she watched her nose expand and fur sprout from her arms.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“So, how did it go?” Tripsy asked when Nella staggered through the door.

“Uh, ghastly,” the little pixie groaned. “And the worst part is that I have to go back next week.”

“Whatever for?” Tripsy asked.

Nella looked sheepish. “Well, she asked me again, and I just couldn’t say no. What?”

Tripsy gave her a stern look. “You know she’ll just keep asking. You have to learn to say no.”

“But she’s so…” Nella fluttered her glimmering wings as she searched for the right phrase. “Large.”

“And what does that have to do with anything?” Tripsy tilted her head curiously.

“She looks like she could eat me in two bites, her teeth just crunching right through my bones, and then pick my wings out of her teeth with a sword,” Nella protested. “I can’t just say no!”

“Well, then, I guess you’re having tea every week with Mrs. Freston,” Tripsy shrugged and turned back to the book she had been reading. A gasp made her glance up, and then she was on her feet, hurrying to her friend, who had turned white and staring, her hand fluttering inarticulately. “What’s wrong?”

Nella turned glassy eyes to her. “I left my wand.”

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

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 wherever that was, whenever that was.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Samuel sat down on the cold rock in the woods and nursed the fire he had started to remove the chill from his immediate surroundings. While waiting for his friends to arrive at the campsite, he set the pot of water to boil to make some tea. If he was going to leave all the comforts of home behind for this guy’s weekend, he was at least going to have his tea.

The water finally boiled, so Samuel reached over to take the handle when a flame shot up and encircled his arm. He recoiled quickly, but not quickly enough to avoid a burn. At least it wasn’t that ghastly, he thought to himself. Samuel got up to grab the first aid kit when he heard some leaves crunch behind him. He turned around expecting to see his friends but was greeted by the toothy growl of a grey and white wolf.

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BRANDON SCOTT

Sipping his tea, Henry sat in his chair, at his table, and just breathed. It had taken a long time, as predicted, to bury those bodies. More than eight feet deep that hole by the end of it. It was a good thing he had had a ladder with his car, just for such an occasion.

But, now, as he drank, he tried to put it all aside. His wife, oh, without his wife around, he did not have to hear any noises or field any requests. Silence and calm, and all his money his now.

He lifted the tea to his mouth and then frowned when the liquid dripped down his hand. It wasn’t too warm or anything—the tea had cleared up in heat, but it was still odd.

He lifted the mug above his head, and found, at the bottom, a little-broken part. A sliver cut into the ceramic. He frowned, and then jolted when the whole structure of it broke apart with a crunch.

“What?” he said aloud, only to flinch, yet again, when a ghastly sound rang out and the entire table slide on its legs into a pile of disconnected wood. The teapot hit the ground too, shattering.

Then, the silence again. He stood up, unsure of how that had happened.

But, it was not over yet. He could tell—just from the hum in the air. The slight wind. And the peeling of the paint on every wall.

“Shit,” he muttered.

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Between Him and the End – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 9 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Die
  • Technology
  • Mouth

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

After the age of technology had died, passing in flame and ash and leaving the shape of the world changed, rivers dry and flat lands where mountains used to be, only a few remembered how things used to be. Martin reflected on this as he stood at the mouth of the cave, the dark forbidding and complete. No sound came from inside, it was as if time had stopped and swallowed whatever lay beyond. The midday sun burned down, heating the back of his neck where his cowl had slipped off his head, but even this did little to make the cool darkness appealing. Martin would have rather roasted alive than stepped foot within, but he had made it this far on his fated journey. He would continue, but only after a rest, a moment spent gathering his thoughts and steeling his will. The legends did not say what awaited him at the end, only that he must go, for if he didn’t, the silver monsters would return, and this time they would leave nothing of the world at all. A slow deep breath escaped Martin’s parched lips, and he took his first step towards his last days on this earth, no more knowing what lay between him and the end than he knew of the end itself.

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LISA BARRY:

“Die! Die! Die!” Connie yelled at her little brother. He sat curled in the chair where she struck him over and over again laughing his head off.

“What is wrong with you?” she screamed and backed away pointing at him. “How can you do such a thing!”

Rory was laughing so hard tears streamed down his face, wetting the front of his shirt.

Connie ran to her room, tears of anger threatening her burning eyes. She slammed the door and found herself in front of her monitor. Her mouth was pressed together so tight her teeth were starting to hurt.

“Damn technology” she finally whispered to herself. Then slumped into her chair. The screen blinked at her. A picture from her birthday party three years ago was on the page, repeated over and over and over again. She was just wearing underwear, boys Spiderman underwear no less and she was laughing at something. Her brother must have taken the picture and now her life was ruined as it was spread across the school’s blog. A ding sounded and the first text rolled in. The tears started to fall.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

“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. Curiosity got the best of me and I 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 cleanup.

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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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Samuel’s eyes grew wide and his mouth went slack, looking into the eyes of the creature in front of him. The only thought running through his head was, I’m going to die. He stood motionless as the saliva dripped from the wolf’s mouth and wondered if it would hurt. As the seconds ticked by, Samuel’s fear began to subside and was replaced by curiosity. Why hadn’t it attacked? That’s when Samuel noticed it, a collar around the wolf’s neck. Except it was no ordinary collar. It looked like a piece of technology since there was a glowing green dot emanating from it. He began to approach slowly and the wolf remained still, but when the light turned red, the wolf lunged, and Samuel let out a scream that could wake the dead.

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BRANDON SCOTT

Next up in Henry’s new problems was the sudden and annoying malfunction of every piece of technology in his house. Just all of it at once blowing out and going dark.

And, thus, in the dark, he said, in the same intonation as before. “Shit.”

Then, he looked around in the dark and waited for something to appear. He had, of course, during the planning of the murder, thought of this as a possibility. But, he still did not want the word for what this was to come out of his mouth.

So, instead, he just said: “Hey honey. So, I take it God did not want you? I thought at least the devil would be willing.”

No response came, and he added underneath his breath: “Of course she would still be doing this even after I made her die.”

Only then did the next step in the supernatural process begin and the air in the kitchen took on a progressively warmer quality.

He sighed, knowing then, as everyone knows, that, in this specific circumstance, she would be right behind him. He had, at least, wanted to play around—maybe some poker—with her life insurance money, but, it appeared that moment of bliss with his tea was all he was getting.

That was until a revolutionary idea occurred to him. So inspired, in fact, that he would write a book on the subject and make millions.

He, without looking back, without exploring the meaning or the method of the horror, just walked out his door. His wife never bothered to lock it. It was one of the annoyances that had driven him to kill her in the first place.

He laughed hard as he walked to his car, already opening new property listings on his phone.

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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

Under the sliver of the moon, he could see the pile of dirt he had made. Next to the pile was a body. This body, believe it or not, had already been there before Henry arrived, carrying his own corpse to hide from the authorities.

And, while this did put a new spin on the situation, Henry was not one to leave a mess uncleaned. So, he had dug a deeper hole. It was really the only correct thing to do after all.

But, as one might imagine, digging a hole deep enough for the space of two bodies took a bit of time. It took a lot of time. And, as he dug he would check his watch to see what time it was.

At the stroke of midnight, he peeped his head up from the hole, glanced around at the almost cliché foggy night, and concluded that no one was around, and would probably not be around for at least the next few hours.

And, so, knowing that he had privacy for whatever he felt like doing, he climbed back out yet again, pulled down his bag into the hole with him, and fished out a small conical hat adorned with yellow and red and blue balloons and a grinning armadillo.

As he cleared the last few inches of dirt, throwing it up above his head with muscle-aching motions, he sang something to himself.

“Oh, it’s my birthday, oh, yes indeed. It so nice to be. Older and wiser, yes, I am. And no longer tied down to my goddamn…”

He frowned, realizing he’d ruined the rhyme, but still finished off with a lame addition of the final word.

“Wife.”

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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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