Blend In and Bide Our Time – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 4 Jan 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Chain
  • Math
  • Petticoat

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



“What is this thing?” Trina grumbled as the mounds of fluffy white entrapments were pulled over her head and down to her waist.

“They call it a petticoat. It goes over the knickers and under the skirt,” Berra said as she thrust a pink monstrosity with too much lace at Trina.

Trina took it and held it out as far as she could, as if she could avoid the humiliation if she didn’t let it touch her. She preferred chain mail and leather. What had her life come to?

“Why are we doing this?” she asked in a petulant voice as Berra found a pair of soft slippers, and something that looked like a tadpole, with a curved tail.

“Do the math,” Berra replied, her voice patient, though her wary eyes kept darting to the door, fearing to be found out at any moment. “This is what people wear in this realm. If we were to stand out, or look out of place, Lord Blackthorn and his usurping thugs would have us in an instant. Instead, we have to blend in and bide our time. Make friends, secure our position, and then, when it suits us, we will make our move…”

“And cut out his still beating heart from his chest and send his head on a pick to that ogre in fair form that sits on our father’s throne,” Trina finished with relish.

“Yes, but don’t talk like that, I don’t think they’ll like it, and you have to wear your hair like this, or they’ll be able to see your ears,” Berra had started fussing with Trina’s blond tresses.

“What’s wrong with my ears?” Trina demanded as she managed to unfurl the tadpole and found it to be some sort of lacy shield. “And what is this?”

“It’s called a parasol, and there’s nothing wrong with your ears,” Berra assured her. “But have you seen what their ears look like here?”

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Gale looked at the petticoat on the hanger with disdain. The confounded thing was such a pain when she was trying to sneak around. She patted the slender fit skirt and took a step in her ankle boots to test her footing. The dress was loose enough that she could run but no so loose that if someone were to see her she wouldn’t show anything inappropriate. She walked to the balcony and grasped the rope ladder that Doyle had left for her. She gazed into the dark garden, looking for a sign of him without luck. If she had done her math right, the draught she’d fed the dog would last until sun up. She would have at least four hours to search for the missing girl.

Her feet silently hit the grass and Gale quickly moved to a bush to stay hidden and get her bearing.

“I’m not sure this is a good idea.”

Doyle’s voice caused her jump. She turned to him and saw his fanged smile. She slapped his arm.

“Don’t be an arse. Help me find this girl. She’s stolen the Chain of Alora and I need it back to walk in the day, you idiot.”

He just grinned further and held out an arm to her.

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Sasha smoothed her petticoat and straightened her green top hat before she walked into the white building held up by Grecian pillars. To the ordinary eye, the building would look like nothing more than a bank, but Sasha wasn’t ordinary. A man dressed in a white shirt, a brown leather vest, and equipped with a clipboard stopped her just inside the door. “I beg your pardon, madam,” he said “but you must answer a chain of questions before you’re allowed in inside.” Sasha nodded, confident that she would be able to answer anything thrown her way. She answered the first three questions without breaking a sweat. “Excellent,” the man said, “now for the last one. What is the circumference of a standard sized dirigible around it’s center?” Sasha paled. She was ready for anything…anything except math.

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“Do the math Mark” Amy’s tone was a combination of mad and scared. We are not going to live through this she said and emphasized the point by rattling the chain the was holding her arms above her head.

She was right of course.

Mark tried, again, to pull on the chain but it wasn’t budging.

The ad they were answering was for a really good deal on a motorcycle. The deal was actually too good. They should have known there was a problem based on that alone.

He knew now that the seller had thought he was coming alone. The surprise on his face and indicated that but he recovered and Mark blew it off but he should have run.

The Seller had offered them a drink, lemonade that was “fresh made”. This was a series of stupid mistakes. Now they were here, chained in room awaiting whatever horrible fate was coming. Amy started to cry.

Some time later the door finally opened again and the seller was fully dressed in a dress, corset and even petticoat included “Who’s ready for the feast” he said and the tone made Mark begin to shake.

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The building, what remained of it, was dilapidated and dusty and dirty and just an unpleasant place to enter. It had a smell to it. Something I could not place. Somewhere between the stink of rotting fruit and the slow degradation of meat and milk.

My nose wrinkled as I entered, keeping quiet. I had to go. I had to see. The others would call me a coward if I did not, but that did not mean I needed to bring down whatever was here on my head.

The fact they’d made me go at all was annoying. I could have done their math for the next year. But no, this place.

The first room, as the place seemed segmented by doors on all sides and entrances, had nothing wrong with it. The second, was where it was a problem.

Mannequins are scary, just are. Mannequins in petticoats, with crude drawings on the plaster, with an otherwise expressionless face, were even worse. And I could swear this one was staring at me with its simple eyes.

I walked past, and placed my hand on the doorknob, and heard a chain. A rattling thing. Like a prisoner desperate to escape. The sound was below. Down in the floorboards.

But I turned around anyway, and glared at the mannequin. Expecting, well, you know what I was expecting.

It had not moved. And I sighed a sigh of relief. Until I noticed the crude eyes blink.

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Filed under Creative Writing, Writers Group, Writing, Writing Exercise

2 responses to “Blend In and Bide Our Time – an ISG Writing Exercise

  1. Dalia Lance

    Reblogged this on Erika Lance – Author and commented:
    Here is a fun short by me. And by fun I mean: be careful with craigslist

  2. Reblogged this on Author Lisa Barry and commented:
    My writers group is awesome!

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