No Happy Ending by Featured Author: Erika Lance

At our meetings, we often do 5-minute exercises using 3-5 words to create a short-short story. Sometimes, those stories are continuous from exercise to exercise. Here’s one of those from Erika Lance!

• Graham cracker

•Bookmark       

• Limp

Clara was sitting on the large overstuffed chair in her grandfather’s library looking out at the thunderstorm raging outside. She heard a plop as the now limp graham cracker she had been dipping in her tea broke off and was now what her brother would call a “floater”.

She looked down again at the book she was reading. It had actually been a perfectly sunny day until about ten minutes ago when the hero in the book was thrust into a perilous storm. The moment it happened the lightning cracked right outside the window.

She looked down and decided to turn some pages to where there was an old tasseled bookmark. She flipped open to the page “The creature slithered between the shelves as a cold mist rose from the floor.” Looking at the words again she closed her eyes and sighed. The air around her began to cool and when she opened her eyes again there was a dark grey mist around her. “They didn’t mention the color of the mist in the book” she mumbled to herself just as she heard the sound of movement from the shelves behind her chair….

• Post-it             

• Sulphur           

• Stolen

After hearing the noise, she decided to flip further into the story, which at this point she was sure was amazing, but also might end up not being something she could walk away from. She smirked at her joke.

There was a post it that she flipped to the new page that started with “The breeze carried with it the smell of jasmine and he could hear the sound of a bubbling brook nearby” …. This is much better she thought. “Then he felt the stinging burning pain as the red-hot blade was laid against his skin again…”

“What in hell” she exclaimed. Looking around for something the book had yet to describe holding a red-hot blade. She did not see or hear anyone, so she flipped again to the end of the book. She was hoping to find the happy ending but there were pages torn out.  She looked to the last line on the remaining

“The creature held the fate of the hero in his palm that he had stolen….” She sighed and looked up to see a demonic figure standing in front of her smelling of sulfur.

“Looking for these?’ he said holding up pages.

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Unexpected – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Post-it
  • Sulphur
  • Stolen

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

The smell of Sulphur wrinkled Allie’s nose against her will. She was doing her best to be at ease in this hellish place. All for a modelling shoot that would rocket her career to the next level.

“Relax, honey,” the photography said as she turned her head away from the water emitting the noxious spell.

“I’m sorry this smell has stolen some of my ability to think.”

”You’re from the corporate world, right?”

“Yes,” she answered lightly as she posed, her barely-there bikini fitting in all the right places.

“Imagine your sniffing a new post it. You corporate types like that right?”

“Some do but there’s a reason I’m working with you instead,” she smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. The photographer clicked again. Step back few feet and that will be the last of it,” he said.

So she did. The cliff drop was unexpected and sudden. The photographer looked over the edge and watched Allie fall, listening to her screech the whole way down.

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ANNE CARGILE:

Paige looked at the pile of Sulphur and then she looked at Len. “Are you sure about this,” she asked, unable to keep the disbelief from her voice as she held her hand to her face at the smell in the warehouse.

Len shrugged in a rather irritating manner she thought.  He obviously wasn’t taking this as seriously as he ought to be.  “Yeah, I wrote it down. See?” He handed her a post-it note with some illegible scribbling on it.

“The magician wanted us to get him Sulphur, you’re sure,” she asked again.

“Yeah, I told you. He said Len, my boy, you’re the only one I know who can do the job.  Go and get me some Sulphur for the spell and I’ll pay you good.”

Paige’s skepticism was not laid to rest by her friends’ story.  She looked at the pile of stolen rocks and shook her head. “So, now what?”

“Now we got to take it to him.  That’s why I called you. I need your truck.”

“Len, I own a smart car, not a truck. I haven’t owned a truck in over ten years. And all of that – she waved at the rather large pile of smelly rocks, “isn’t going to fit in my car.”

Len scrunched up his face. “Oh,” he said.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The tapping intensified.  Peter held up his cane as if he meant to attach someone, his eyes narrowed intently. “What is going on?” Hildy demanded. “They’re here!” Peter snapped. “Grab something to defend yourself girl, unless you want to die!” Hildy had no particular desire to die, but there wasn’t anything particularly dangerous or threatening that she could use as a weapon. “Wait wait wait!” Peter’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Sulfur! Get the sulfur!” Hildy looked around, but she had no idea what sulfur looked like. “There there, on the shelf!” She dashed to the shelf, and saw that in place of the mistreated books, little vials of colored powder were now lined up in rows. Post-it notes with weird symbols were behind each, but none of them said “sulfur”. “Which one?” she asked. “The yellow one!” Peter yelled. “Damn it, girl, we don’t have all day!” Hildy realized he had forgotten her name, but the urgency in his voice banished the sadness. She pulled the jar with the yellow powder and put it in his eagerly outstretched hand. The liverspots were new, as was the faint tremble when he pulled out the stopper. The room filled with a pungent smell, and the tapping at the window stopped at once. A grin of pure glee spread over Peter’s face, then the window exploded inward in a shower of glass shards, ripping the curtain off the wall. The sunlight was blocked by a monstrous shape, claws digging into the frame. Hildy mouth dropped open, her scream frozen in her throat. Peter threw the yellow powder in the air, thrust his cane after it and muttered something. Lightning sparked and then dispersed in a giant crash. The darkness in the window was obliterated, and an eerie silence enveloped the apartment. “What was that, and why is it here?” Hildy whispered, her eyes wide. “They came for what was stolen,” Peter said quietly, and then sank down onto the sofa.

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ERIKA LANCE:

After hearing the noise, she decided to flip further into the story, which at this point she was sure was amazing, but also might end up not being something she could walk away from. She smirked at her joke.

There was a post it that she flipped to the new page that started with “The breeze carried with it the smell of jasmine and he could hear the sound of a bubbling brook nearby” …. This is much better she thought. “Then he felt the stinging burning pain as the red-hot blade was laid against his skin again…”

“What in hell” she exclaimed. Looking around for something the book had yet to describe holding a red-hot blade. She did not see or hear anyone, so she flipped again to the end of the book. She was hoping to find the happy ending but there were pages torn out.  She looked to the last line on the remaining

“The creature held the fate of the hero in his palm that he had stolen….” She sighed and looked up to see a demonic figure standing in front of her smelling of sulfur “Looking for these?’ he said holding up pages.

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JM PAQUETTE:

I took a sip of my tea, the liquid tasty and satisfying, but there was a moment where I wondered if it would be better if I had chosen the crackers and had the best food in the world. Then again, considering the loopholes I had discovered, it probably wouldn’t apply to drinks anyway–just food. And then I’d have great food and disappointing-in-comparison drinks.

No, I had made the right choice with the book mark.

I stared at the book on the table before me, the slight smell of sulphur wafting from the pages. I wondered where it had been stored to smell like this. I didn’t think the Pearl poet would have been making deals with demons, but I could never be sure. I frowned before touching it. I was fairly sure that the Lost Tales of the Pearl poet hadn’t been hidden away in some museum archive, but I did not want a repeat of the last fiasco when I’d been happily reading the First Shakespeare Folio to be interrupted by a news story about a theft at the British Museum. Luckily, no one thought to search the house of a simple barista in Chicago for the stolen manuscript, but if they had, I didn’t know how I would explain how the book got here.

I looked at the post-it note stuck the wall above the table, reached out, and put a check mark next to the Pearl poet. Eventually, I’d work my way through all of the pre-Christian Dark Ages and move on to the Middle Ages.

All that French, though, I thought. Good thing the bookmark lets me understand the book, no matter the language it was written in. I was having fun with the Old English names in Pearl, no doubt butchering the pronunciation enough to make Tolkien roll over in his grave. One of these names would conjure a demon if I wasn’t careful.

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JACKLYNE BARD:

Sulphur. She smelled sulphur, the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. He was back, and had come for the thing she had stolen. Luckily she did not have it here.  She smiled slightly in that comfort. He would never find the location. She had written iit on a post-it note and placed it haphazardly in with all of her other ones. She would never reveal its location, even if he killed her. But she had a plan, grabbing her purse and the piles of sticky notes, she bolted out the door. He was right behind her, she could hear the scuffling of footsteps at her back, she dodged left and sprinted down the hall. “Lyza! Come back here!” He screamed in terror, her blood ran cold and she stopped. There was a high pitched laugh that made her sick to her stomach.

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They’ve Come Back by Featured Author: Nicole DragonBeck

At our meetings, we often do 5-minute exercises using 3-5 words to create a short-short story. Sometimes, those stories are continuous from exercise to exercise. Here’s one of those from Nicole DragonBeck!

• Graham cracker

•Bookmark       

• Limp

Hildy walked into the room, and surveyed the mess. Graham cracker crumbs littered the table, next to a glass of milk with one sip left. The pillows were thrown willy-nilly over the floor, and the rug had been pushed into a heap in the corner. All the books had been pulled off the shelf and stacked in random places. Some of the ribbon bookmarks had been pulled out and pinned to the wall like prizes or party decorations. The curtains were closed, and a smattering of burning candles gave a dim light.

“Peter?” Hildy called out.

“I’m right here,” a gruff voice snapped at her, and her heart rammed into her throat.

“Peter, what’s happened?” she asked. “Why does your place look like…” she waved her hand inarticulacy around.

“What?” Peter said, and blinked.

“Let me open the window, get some light and fresh air-”

“No!” Peter barked. “You’ll let them in.” 

“Let who in?” Hildy wondered, watching the old man limp around the piles of books, leaning on the worn cane he never let out of his hand.

“They’ve come back, and this time, they’ve brought friends.”

Hildy frowned. “Are you having nightmares again?”

Peter stopped beside the couch, wheezing. He looked like he was a hundred years old, but Hildy knew that he was only a dozen years older than she was. A tapping at the window drew both their eyes.

“They’re here,” Peter whispered.

• Post-it             

• Sulphur           

• Stolen

The tapping intensified.  Peter held up his cane as if he meant to attach someone, his eyes narrowed intently.

“What is going on?” Hildy demanded.

“They’re here!” Peter snapped. “Grab something to defend yourself girl, unless you want to die!”

Hildy had no particular desire to die, but there wasn’t anything particularly dangerous or threatening that she could use as a weapon.

“Wait wait wait!” Peter’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Sulfur! Get the sulfur!”

Hildy looked around, but she had no idea what sulfur looked like. “There there, on the shelf!” She dashed to the shelf, and saw that in place of the mistreated books, little vials of colored powder were now lined up in rows. Post-it notes with weird symbols were behind each, but none of them said “sulfur”.

“Which one?” she asked.

“The yellow one!” Peter yelled. “Damn it, girl, we don’t have all day!”

Hildy realized he had forgotten her name, but the urgency in his voice banished the sadness. She pulled the jar with the yellow powder and put it in his eagerly outstretched hand. The liverspots were new, as was the faint tremble when he pulled out the stopper. The room filled with a pungent smell, and the tapping at the window stopped at once. A grin of pure glee spread over Peter’s face, then the window exploded inward in a shower of glass shards, ripping the curtain off the wall. The sunlight was blocked by a monstrous shape, claws digging into the frame.

Hildy mouth dropped open, her scream frozen in her throat. Peter threw the yellow powder in the air, thrust his cane after it and muttered something. Lightning sparked and then dispersed in a giant crash. The darkness in the window was obliterated, and an eerie silence enveloped the apartment.

“What was that, and why is it here?” Hildy whispered, her eyes wide.

“They came for what was stolen,” Peter said quietly, and then sank down onto the sofa.

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The Creature Slithered – an ISG Writing Exercise

On DATE, these three words were chosen:

  • Graham-Cracker

  • Limp

  • Bookmark

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

Clara was sitting on the large overstuffed chair in her grandfather’s library looking out at the thunderstorm raging outside. She heard a plop as the now limp graham cracker she had been dipping in her tea broke off and was now what her brother would call a “floater”.

She looked down again at the book she was reading. It had actually been a perfectly sunny day until about ten minutes ago when the hero in the book was thrust into a perilous storm. The moment it happened the lightning cracked right outside the window.

She looked down and decided to turn some pages to where there was an old tasseled bookmark. She flipped open to the page “The creature slithered between the shelves as a cold mist rose from the floor.” Looking at the words again she closed her eyes and sighed. The air around her began to cool and when she opened her eyes again there was a dark grey mist around her. “They didn’t mention the color of the mist in the book” she mumbled to herself just as she heard the sound of movement from the shelves behind her chair….

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LISA BARRY:

Ryan stepped gingerly around the graham crackers crushed and spread across the floor. His limp from the fight earlier in the day did not help the fact that he was trying to avoid making any noise as he made his way to his room through the kitchen. He stepped around a particularly large pile of crackers when his knee failed.

Hitting the tile, the cracker crunched, and he froze, partially from the pain and partially to strain his ears for any evidence that he had been heard. White noise was all he could make out so he stood on wobbly legs and continued.

A soft chuckle came from behind. Ryan stopped and turned around. Lorna stood with a thick volume in hand, a bookmark on a string dangled from her fingers.

“The faeries aren’t back yet but they’re coming. Better hurry.” She encouraged though the smile on her face said differently.

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ANNE CARGILE:

Kimberly tucked the bookmark into the magazine and sighed mournfully. Stretching out on her chaise she pet her cat as she daydreamed of the royal prince. The magazine had an exclusive set of pictures of him on his yacht and he was just dreamy she thought, with that black hair and dark eyes. Hercules, her cat, didn’t bother twitching an ear as she pet him, one paw hung limply over the side of the couch.

“What do you think Herc? Would I have a chance with the prince if he saw me?”

Herc just yawned. She grabbed another graham cracker. The cat lifted his head and looked at her.

“You won’t catch anyone if you keep eating like that,” he said snarkily.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Hildy walked into the room and surveyed the mess. Graham cracker crumbs littered the table, next to a glass of milk with one sip left. The pillows were thrown willy-nilly over the floor, and the rug had been pushed into a heap in the corner. All the books had been pulled off the shelf and stacked in random places. Some of the ribbon bookmarks had been pulled out and pinned to the wall like prizes or party decorations. The curtains were closed, and a smattering of burning candles gave a dim light.

“Peter?” Hildy called out.

“I’m right here,” a gruff voice snapped at her, and her heart rammed into her throat.

“Peter, what’s happened?” she asked.

“Why does your place look like…” she waved her hand inarticulacy around.

“What?” Peter said, and blinked.

“Let me open the window, get some light and fresh air-“

“No!” Peter barked.

“You’ll let them in.” 

“Let who in?” Hildy wondered, watching the old man limp around the piles of books, leaning on the worn cane he never let out of his hand.

“They’ve come back, and this time, they’ve brought friends.”

Hildy frowned. “Are you having nightmares again?”

Peter stopped beside the couch, wheezing. He looked like he was a hundred years old, but Hildy knew that he was only a dozen years older than she was. A tapping at the window drew both their eyes. “They’re here,” Peter whispered.

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JM PAQUETTE:

            I looked down at my hands, then back up at the djinni. “Are you sure?” I asked it. 

The creature nodded sagely, gesturing to my hands, “You must choose your reward for freeing me,” it repeated. 

            “What about my three wishes?” I asked. 

            “Wishes?” it repeated, clearly confused. 

            “Yeah,” I pointed at the newly shined lamp sitting on the counter in front of me. “That’s the deal with a djinni. I  rub the lamp; I get the wishes. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with either of these.”
            I looked down at my hands: my right held what appeared to be an ancient bookmark, the material glorious against my skin, and lovely with scrollwork, but still just a scrap of fabric. 

My left land held a stack of three perfectly shaped graham crackers, the bottom now feeling a bit limp as it absorbed the sweat from my palm.

            “I offer you wondrous treasures,” the djinni explained. “So great that you cannot have both. You must decide which you will have.”

            “Crackers and a place to mark my page?” I asked. “I don’t know what kind of world you’re from, but I can get crackers from my cabinet right now, three different varieties, and I have bookmarks stashed in every book I own.”

            “They are not merely food and markers,” it snapped, looking annoyed. “Clearly, the old tales have faded during my time away.” A ghostly hand gestured to the bookmark. “That marks the page of any book you wish to read in the world.”

            “Like any book?”

            The djinni nodded. “Is there a book in the world or the history of the world you’d like to read? Think of it, and that so-called scrap of material will bring it to you for as long as you wish.” I held it more carefully in my hand after that. 

            “And these?” I looked at the crackers. 

            “The finest food to be found in the world,” the djinni declared. “Think of it, and it shall be yours.”

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JACKLYNE BARD:

The faerie limped across the library floor, she was upset over slipping on a bookmark and hobbled to her desk to fetch a graham cracker. Nothing like comfort food to help ease the pain of wounded pride and a broken foot. She hated those dirty humans, always leaving stuff about for her to pick up or trip on. One day she would get her revenge on all of them, but today was not that day, unfortunately. She sniffled as a tear ran down her cheek. They were always so mean, why did life have to be so hard? She wished for the days when fairies wandered the forests and were not holed up in some stupid library or book store. That was also her dream, after the demise of all humans, the faerie kind would be free to roam as they wished. 

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Wishes by Featured Author: JM Paquette

At our meetings, we often do 5-minute exercises using 3-5 words to create a short-short story. Sometimes, those stories are continuous from exercise to exercise. Here’s one of those from JM PAQUETTE!

• Graham cracker

•Bookmark       

• Limp

            I looked down at my hands, then back up at the djinni. “Are you sure?” I asked it. 

The creature nodded sagely, gesturing to my hands, “You must choose your reward for freeing me,” it repeated. 

            “What about my three wishes?” I asked. 

            “Wishes?” it repeated, clearly confused. 

            “Yeah,” I pointed at the newly shined lamp sitting on the counter in front of me. “That’s the deal with a djinni. I  rub the lamp; I get the wishes. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with either of these.”
            I looked down at my hands: my right held what appeared to be an ancient bookmark, the material glorious against my skin, and lovely with scroll work, but still just a scrap of fabric. 

My left land held a stack of three perfectly shaped graham crackers, the bottom now feeling a bit  limp as it absorbed the sweat from my palm.

            “I offer you wondrous treasures,” the djinni explained. “So great that you cannot have both. You must decide which you will have.”

            “Crackers and a place to mark my page?” I asked. “I don’t know what kind of world you’re from, but I can get crackers from my cabinet right now, three different varieties, and I have bookmarks stashed in every book I own.”

            “They are not merely food and markers,” it snapped, looking annoyed. “Clearly, the old tales have faded during my time away.” A ghostly hand gestured to the bookmark. “That marks the page of any book you wish to read in the world.”

            “Like any book?”

            The djinni nodded. “Is there a book in the world or the history of the world you’d like to read? Think of it, and that so-called scrap of material will bring it to you for as long as you wish.” I held it more carefully in my hand after that. 

            “And these?” I looked at the crackers. 

“The finest food to be found in the world,” the djinni declared. “Think of it, and it shall be yours.”

• Post-it             

• Sulphur           

• Stolen

            I took a sip of my tea, the liquid tasty and satisfying, but there was a moment where I wondered if it would be better if I had chosen the crackers and had the best food in the world. Then again, considering the loopholes I had discovered, it probably wouldn’t apply to drinks anyway–just food. And then I’d have great food and disappointing-in-comparison drinks.

            No, I had made the right choice with the book mark. 

            I stared at the book on the table before me, the slight smell of sulphur wafting from the pages. I wondered where it had been stored to smell like this. I didn’t think the Pearl poet would have been making deals with demons, but I could never be sure. I frowned before touching it. I was fairly sure that the Lost Tales of the Pearl poet hadn’t been hidden away in some museum archive, but I did not want a repeat of the last fiasco when I’d been happily reading the First Shakespeare Folio to be interrupted by a news story about a theft at the British Museum. Luckily, no one thought to search the house of a simple barista in Chicago for the stolen manuscript, but if they had, I didn’t know how I would explain how the book got here. 

            I looked at the post-it note stuck the wall above the table, reached out, and put a check mark next to the Pearl poet. Eventually, I’d work my way through all of the pre-Christian Dark Ages and move on to the Middle Ages. 

            All that French, though, I thought. Good thing the bookmark lets me understand the book, no matter the language it was written in. I was having fun with the Old English names in Pearl, no doubt butchering the pronunciation enough to make Tolkien roll over in his grave. One of these names would conjure a demon if I wasn’t careful.

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Waiting for Dinner – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Myth
  • Glitter
  • Leather

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

Deirdre walked into the club like she owned the place. She went most places like that so it wasn’t exactly a change for her. She strode up to the bar and met the eyes of the man serving drinks.

“Jameson, straight,” she told him. He nodded and served her drink before getting back to the patron he had ignored before her. Taking a sip, she let the firey drink trickle down her throat in satisfaction.

She leaned back on the bar letting her long coat fall to the side to show off her perfectly shaped, leather wrapped body. There was glitter perfectly placed under her eyes and down her throat. Tomorrow she might change it up. Maybe hit a square dancing bar or maybe, a tinder date.

But tonight, supposedly just a myth, she waited for her dinner to seek her out.

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ANNE CARGILE:

“While I appreciate spending time with my bestie, if you really hadn’t wanted attention, maybe you could have laid off the leather,” Jas remarked.

Cynthia stretched, her boobs straining against the tight purple and black corset and then winked at her friend.  “I can’t help it.  A girls gotta have a little something, something to feel good about.  Why should the glitter and polish just be for work?”

“You know,” Cynthia commented, “it’s a myth that succubus can only have sex for food.  Take me, I’m no sex vamp.  Can’t even remember the last time I got down and dirty with someone.  True, it’s been harder since the social distancing thing took over, but at least I learned how to feed a sip at a time instead of gorging.”

Several men at the bar had turned to watch when Cynthia’s body had gone taut against the restraints of her outfit and Jas just sighed.  It was no use.  Cyn was going to sin.

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DALIA LANCE:

“You have to be effin kidding me?” Sandra looked down at the small box in front of her.  It was a leather bodysuit, a unicorn horn headband and four mason jars of pink and silver glitter.

“This is nuts. What is even supposed to be happening?” her voice filled with regret. When Tammy had asked her to take on one of her gigs tonight so she could go to a concert she assumed it was just a shift at the club.

Shrugging Tammy picked up the body suit “You’re like a magical creature. You’re a myth come to life.”

“No what I am is weirdo’s fairytale” Sandra was liking this idea less and less. “So, what is it I am supposed to do exactly?” a sigh escaped her lips as she took the leather from Tammy’s hands.

“You simply prance around and throw glitter on him” Tammy said trying her best to make it sound not so bad.

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JM PAQUETTE:

The vampire stared at her, sexy face now disappointed and bordering on frustration. “Did you seriously just ask me why I don’t glisten in the sun?” He glanced down at his pale, but certainly not shiny skin. “Does this look like glitter to you?” He scowled. “Next you will want to know where my leather pants are, right?” He rubbed his hands against frayed blue jeans. “Do you have any idea how hot leather is? I am not Jim Morrison, okay? Leather pants only work for rock stars whose groupies don’t care what they smell like!” He shook his head, years of frustrated disgust pouring out of him. “If you’d read an actual book for once instead of all of these damned romance novels, you might actually learn something true!” He picked up a paperback with a dark, leather-clad hero on the cover and tossed it across the room.

‘Do…do you mean that there are actual books with true stories about vampires in them?” she asked, hesitant but curious despite herself.

He gave her a look as if she were a simpleton. “Have you ever heard of myths?” he snapped. “Where do you think all those old stories come from?” He snatched her phone from where it sat on the edge of her nightstand and started swiping angrily.

“What are you doing?” she asked, sitting up, but not daring to take the phone from him.

“I’m ordering you a copy of some Edith Hamilton, for starters, “ he snapped. “What’s your CVC code?”

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JACKLYNE BARD:

The little girl was covered in glitter, and her boots were made of fine leather, though they were very worn out. Her shirt was pink and had Myth written in bold letters on the front and back. The cat watched her skip around to the gate of the garden. Something was not right. The boy shifted a little but didn’t change his position. His face grew very pale when he finally caught sight of the girl. “Myth.” He breathed in horror and pointed his gun straight at her chest. The cat heard another noise from beyond the wall. Three more guys were walking in their direction.

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Bearing Witness – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Lamp
  • Cold
  • Convertible

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

Jerry sneezed again, and Mara looked over at him, “Do you want me to put the top up?”

He shook his head no, wiping his face with a handkerchief, and she gave him a longer look. There were a few things she had learned about her traveling companion in the last 24 hours since she had found him wandering along the highway, like his unnerving tendency to stare at her when she was trying to sleep instead of watching the road, but she hadn’t thought he was the type for allergies. Then again, they had left the desert behind now, the convertible driving up into forested areas with ancient trees bearing witness to their journey.

Mara wasn’t sure how much farther Jerry would want to go with her. She considered stopping at a motel, imagining the scene as she grabbed a snack: Jerry wasn’t bad looking, if a little travel stained. His face was scruffy, his skin weathered from a life outside, though she wondered what he might actually look like under civilized light somewhere, a lamp to shine some UV lights and reveal his flaws. Other than the occasional cold feeling in the pit of her stomach, Mara was fairly sure this relationship was going to last another night.

He sneezed again, and she gave him another look.

Maybe she was wrong, after all. If he was going to sneeze his way through Tennessee, Mara decided, she might have to eat him sooner.

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JACKLYNE BARD:

The cat suddenly felt really cold, the boy was so still one might mistake him for a statue. It was twilight and the street lamp flickered on. There was the sound of the neighbor’s convertible revving to life in the silence. Still the boy waited. Finally, there was a faint scuffing sound like boots on the pavement. The cat looked to the source of the sound which was coming from the other side of the wall. This was an odd little girl skipping down the road. This was out of place since the plague. So much so, it made the hair on the cat’s back stand on end.

LISA BARRY:

Laura stood by the lamp post and watched the traffic wain. Devon should have arrived by now. She pulled her pink designer sweater closer. It was one of those convertible styles, she currently had the smooth silky side on the inside and wished it was the soft fuzzy side instead. The temperature was dropping quickly, getting to be downright cold.

She pulled the phone from her pocket and looked at it again. No incoming calls, no texts. She had already left two messages and sent four texts. She gave up and clicked on the uber app. Her driver would arrive in thirteen minutes.

When Marcus arrived to pick up his fair, the only thing waiting on the sidewalk was some fancy pink thing that he probably couldn’t even trade for a cold dinner.

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ANNE CARGILE:

Jasmine looked at her friend and gave her a wry smile.  “That was cold my friend.”

Cynthia sniffed.  She didn’t really care.  She wasn’t on the market and had zero interest in dealing with another human in her life in that way. Besides tonight was her night off. She reached over and adjusted the lamp next to their table.  Whoever had designed the lighting at this restaurant should be shot she thought.

Jasmine shook her head.  “You know the guys we meet out here are potentially convertible to clients.  It wouldn’t do you any harm to be a little nicer.  He thought you were hot.”

“I am hot,” Cynthia said disparagingly.  “That’s why I get paid the big bucks, but sometimes a girl just wants some time off, and I’d rather visit with you, enjoy several of these margaritas, and have to call an Uber.”

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ERIKA LANCE:

It was cold in the Convertible as it drove down the highway. The wind was stinging and the only light she had was the from the radio. The sky was dark with very few stars. She tried to remember how she got here. It was late when she finally had called it a night at the office. That was a familiar situation. She found herself being the last one to turn off her desk lamp. The overhead lights would shut off soon after most people left the office as they were triggered by the motion of someone moving. Typing into spreadsheets apparently didn’t cause much motion. She closed her eyes as her head throbbed again. She had to focus, or she would not have a chance to make it out of this. She assessed what she knew. Her hands and legs were bound and then bound together. There was a gag in her mouth to stop her from screaming. She was placed on her stomach and was able to move her head, but not enough to see who was driving. The song playing on the radio was a country song, it had changed a few times and they hadn’t passed a streetlight in the time she had been awake.

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Everyone’s Dead – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Radio
  • Shotgun
  • Steinway

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“Why are we in here again?” Sheila whisper-shouted at Randy as they raced back through what had once been the sales area to duck behind a counter. “This was a bad plan!”

“I told you!” Randy whisper-shouted back as they hid, still hearing the inevitable shuffle of pursuit coming behind them. “We need a radio!”

She glared at him. “For what? You want to listen to some music? They would hear it and come running,” she argued, sliding her head around the side to see if anything had breached the front doors yet.

“Not that kind of radio,” he growled, “a radio to talk to people.” He was rifling through their backpack now, clearly searching for something to use as a weapon.

“You don’t even know if there are any people out there,” she grunted in response, turning to scan underneath the counter. “Everyone’s dead.”

“What are you doing?” he squealed as the sounds of entry made their way passed the door and into the room and she continued to shuffle things around in the cubbies.

“I’m looking for a shotgun!” she told him. “This place must have had something in case it got robbed!”
Randy stopped his rifling to stare at her. “Rob them? This place sells pianos. You think people pay in cash for that? Just hand someone $15,000 in a stack?”
“Well, someone could steal something!”

“How? You think  you’re running out of here with a Steinway on your back?”

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JACKLYNE BARD:

Something was amiss in the garden, there was a young boy with a shotgun, listening to the radio. He had a shirt that said “Steinway” with a picture of a piano. He was pulling up weeds and tending to the garden as though it were his own. The cat watched fearfully from her distant perch on the garden wall. He sang along to whatever song was being played on his radio. Every now and then he would look up fearfully, as though someone was watching him. A clattering sound in a nearby house caused the boy to bolt from his task and hide behind the patio furniture, gun drawn and ready.

LISA BARRY:

The soft strains of a radio could barely be heard down the long hallway. Amelee walked slowly yet purposely toward it. Her heart skipping a beat before returning to normal was the only sign of her apprehension.

Just before she rounded the corner, the radio sound vanished and a soft song started to play in the unmistakable sound of a Steinway. Amelee entered the room with her shotgun raised.

The woman sat on the bench, her wrinkled fingers moving over the keys like magic. The gray hair piled on her head was unkempt though her clothing was immaculate and matched the time period from whence the woman was born.

“You’re early, dear,” the woman said.

Amelee pulled the trigger.

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ANNE CARGILE:

“Something tells me you’ll be fine,” Ginger said dryly.

There was a loud bang and both cats whirled, ears flattened and hissed at the sounds.  Ginger recovered first and bounded through the garden. Lily wasn’t far behind her, and soon they were joined by several other cats.  In a smooth flow of feline intention, they came upon a rather shocking sight.  A human boy was sitting on a porch, a shotgun across his lap, drinking from a jug. Even from across the yard Ginger could smell the fire water the child was imbibing.  She hissed low to her compatriots, warning them of the potential danger.  A radio sat on a table and was playing what sounded like piano music.  Ginger tilted her head. The boy was moving back and forth in time to the sounds, then abruptly stopped.  He lifted the gun and fired at the bushes opposite Ginger and her pack.

“You won’t get my grandma’s Steinway you beast!” he shouted. A loud growl was the only response.

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The Plague – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Cat
  • Garden
  • Plague

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE:

The plague hit and Ginger wasn’t sure what to make of it.  She walked through the rose garden, stopping now and then to examine some of the finer specimens of the Royal collection that had been planted last spring.  They were doing nicely, having rooted well and their buds were just beginning to open.  There were no signs of pests, and Ginger was pleased to see that. Coming to the end of the path she met up with Lily. Lily oversaw the koi pond and was coming back from her morning check.

“So, what do you think?” Lily asked Ginger nervously. Ginger was the head cat on the property and all the felines looked to her for guidance.

“I think they brought it upon themselves,” Ginger replied indifferently. She began to clean her paw delicately reaching her tongue in between each claw, purposefully extending each one to show how sharp they were.

“But what are we going to do?” Lily whined. “We won’t be able to get our treats, and the food bowls will go empty soon.”

Ginger yawned and then looked pointedly at Lily’s heavy gut.

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JACKLYNE BARD:

The cat wandered her way through the garden, completely uninterrupted. A lot had happened since the plague. She remembered the time before, when the mean old lady at the other end of the garden would yell and throw things at her for being in here. The cat had consulted her owner who told her that it was perfectly fine for her to be there as long as she didn’t knock anything over. Her owner had died during the plague, and the cat sorely missed her. But she was still careful not to knock anything over when she walked through the garden. The mean old lady had died first though, so the cat had some nice quiet time with her owner before she passed as well.

LISA BARRY:

I watched the cat outside the sliding glass door. He was rolling on his back in the garden with the most relaxed look on his furry face. It was annoying really, when I thought about it. They just did their thing, had nine lives to spare and relied on no one for their wellbeing.

I snorted and then regretted it. The pain in my chest and stomach was almost more than I could handle. I had thought it was the plague until a certain someone showed up to correct my thinking. I was too tired and too much in pain to turn and look at the man sitting on my couch and waiting for me to die.

The pain showed me that it was most certainly not a dream. The bleeding bite marks on my hand agreed with that intelligent sleuthing. My throbbing neck and the taste of pennies in my mouth would have been the final clue.

I glanced out the door again and found the cat sitting right in front of me. His face was pressed again the glass, his pupils were full. He licked his lips and winked right before I died.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“I don’t mean to be rude,” Mark said, pushing aside the curtain to get a closer view through the old glass window pane, “but there seem to be a lot of cats in your garden right now.”

Lady Cottonly gave him a prim glance down the length of her nose, and Mark replied with a rakish grin. “Whatever are you suggesting, Mr. Darwin?” the old dame asked, voice a study in manners.

“Nothing untoward at all, madam,” he said formally, his words not matching the look he knew was still on his face. He was not surprised that he was discussing cats or gardens with the duchess, but putting the two together made him feel like he’d just asked her what color her panties were.

“It’s just the plague,” the Lady offered, sniffing delicately.

“I’m sorry?” he inquired, not sure what to make of her reply.

“Oh, you know–the plague,” she said again, waving her hand in dismissal.

“Like locusts and frogs plague?” he asked, curious now.

“Oh dear!” she said, excited, “I hope not! Why? Have the cats been joined by such creatures?”

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Your Hair is Like Fire – an ISG Writing Exercise

These three words were chosen:

  • Stumble 

  • Lime 

  • Fire 

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

DALIA LANCE:

As he stumbled closer, she noticed he had something in his teeth or his teeth were … green?  

 

Oh god she thought. Shayna had the same thought but hers was out loud. As he pulled up to high-top table leaning on it for support, he slurred the words “Your hair is on fire.” as a lime fell out of his mouth.  

 

“What?” Tabitha asked him as her hair was not on fire. 

 

“You hair…” belch “is like a fire” belch again “in my eyes”. 

 

“Wow Romeo” Shayna began “You really know how to make a girl all tingly.” 

 

The man looked at her and then back to Tabitha and then back again. They both could tell his eyes were trying to focus. He opened his mouth to speak but before he could he slid off the table to the ground. 

 

“Your hair is like fire” Shayna said to Tabitha teasing as she flipped her off. 

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LISA BARRY:

Just when Rory thought his life forfeit the dragon sneezed and then Rory was falling. He couldn’t tell you how but he had somehow managed to be tossed to the groves. As he fell, branches full of ripe limes wracked him at every turn. He landed with a thud on the ground.

The pain wrenched through him but seemed to fade a bit and he was shocked to find that nothing seemed to be broken though he felt a cut on his foot and his temple dripping his rich green blood. Panicking, he stumbled to his feet and moved away from the noise of the pubs destruction. The screams and fire was nothing compared to what the villagers would do to him if they found out his heritage.

The Fae were hated and feared above all other creatures in this sector. That was the very reason Rory had made it his home. The Fae were not known for their patience and kind ways and not a single one that he knew was interested in Rory breathing on the same plane.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“There, before my helpless sight, I see him stumbling, like a man in fire or lime,” the teacher recited the poem, and Bridget elbowed her classmate, leaning over to whisper in her ear.

“This is why I hate poetry,” she groaned. “What the hell is that? How do you stumble in fire or lime?” She leaned away, her face annoyed.

The teacher looked at them and paused in her recitation. “Do you have a comment, Miss O’Neil?” she asked, a finger pushing her horn-rimmed glasses up her long nose. “Something you’d like to share with the rest of us?”

Bridget shuffled uncomfortably in her chair, but then squared her shoulders. “Actually, yes. I do have a comment for the class.” She paused, clearly steeling herself for some big revelation. “Why can’t they just use normal words?”

The teacher tilted her head, face curious. “‘Normal words?’” she repeated. “What about these words are not normal?”

“Well, that fire or lime bit,” Bridget tried, latching on to the last thing she remembered. She hadn’t actually read the poem before class like they were supposed to, but she did have good recall of the teacher’s voice saying the words. There was a brief moment where she prayed that the next lines weren’t something really obvious, like fire or lime green fog. Then she’d feel like more of an idiot than she normally did when reading poetry.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Faron ran through the dark woods as quickly as he could – the branches tearing at his clothes that were already tattered and covered in dirt, his muscled arms and legs sliced by thorns. The roots that lined the ground made it almost impossible not to stumble, but he had to keep going – he had to get to the fire. He looked down at the lime green stone he clutched in his hand, the one he had stolen. The one he had promised to return to her, no matter the cost – even if it cost him his life. In the distance, the trees began to open as if they were beckoning him in deeper.

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