Among the Humans – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 21 March 2018, these three words were chosen:

  • Sugar
  • Incongruous (doesn’t match/fit) not in keeping with the surrounding
  • Plague

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



“All I’m saying is that sort of reaction is entirely incongruous to a normal human reaction.”

Skreet raised his eyebrow in annoyance. “And?”

“And, if we want to go among the humans, we are going to need to not do stupid things like eating someone’s head.”

Skreet was about to say something in his defense, but burped, and looked around for a moment as if being told something from off-stage in a play. “Okay, I can see how that might have been an overreaction, but he was pissing me off.”

“Sugar works better than acid,” Hew said to him. “Human’s are rather egotistical creatures.”

Skeet nodded to the wisdom and bent down to drag away the body that he had made in anger. He winced a bit as his hand touched the skin—disguise suit or not, he did not want to catch a plague from these filthy little meat apes.

“Fine, fine,” Fleet added as he shoved the body into a closet and sprayed a thin stream of acid onto the corpse. He hoped the smell would not be much of an issue, as it could potentially give him away. “But, please, let’s get on with it—I don’t want to spend much time on this freaking planet.”

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Martin put another spoon of sugar in his coffee. He stirred, lifted the cup to his nose, took and long inhale and then put the cup back down. He went for another spoonful of sugar.

I was here, in this odd diner decorated with medieval influences of the plague and hoping to hire an assassin. Martin had come highly recommended. I was impressed with his attire. Sharp, custom suit in a navy blue, bold yellow tie. His green combat boots were an incongruous addition, but it worked somehow. His red hair was cut short and neat. I thought it odd that his eclectic dress would be conducive to being an assassin but since my father had recommended him, and my father pretty much thought everyone was incompetent, I overlooked the appearance.

After two more scoops of sugar Martin seemed happy with his coffee and took a sip. I was thinking that perhaps he was half-fae. I had lost count of the total sugar added but it seemed like it may have been half a cup or so.

Martin’s bright blue eyes met mine.

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She walked into the old shop, assaulted by the smells of dust and mould and time. A bell chimed, but it sounded far away, and she didn’t think the store was that big. “Hello?” she called out, her voice tiny in the dim space. This was the right place, she had stood outside and checked the address written on the scrap of paper a half dozen times before working up the courage to come inside. She didn’t know what she was afraid of. It wasn’t as if she were going to catch the plague or anything horrible like that. “Hello?” she called out again. This time her voice bounced back to her from several different corners, making the hair stand up on her arms. She wished she had brought a jacket. As she kept walking through the shop, her eyes taking in the myriad of objects and furniture on display to the non-existent customers to keep her mind off why she was here, she noticed something that made her stop in her tracks. At first she thought it was the incongruous nature of the object – a shiny and immaculate tea set complete with sugar tongs and silver tray, sitting among such dusty and forgotten objects, but that wasn’t it. She stepped closer, and saw clearly what it was that had caught her attention from the corner of her eye. The pattern along the dishes was a repetition of the same symbol on the paper that had brought her here.

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She eyed him suspiciously over her modern history book. “I do not think that there was ever a plague caused by sugar, or the lack there of.”

“Of course there was” he replied not daring to raise his head.

“This is what you intend to have our project based on?” her tone was somewhere between annoyed and the ooze of distain.

“Yep” he replied and began to scribble notes.

It was now time for her to assert her superior knowledge “That is incongruous to the subject of pivotal women in history which is the topic we are supposed to focus on.”

There was a brief silence and then from the other side of the book “of course it isn’t. A woman of history caused the great sugar plague of 1983. Her name was Strawberry Shortcake it is on page 384 and will done on the use of the word incongruous.”

She started turning the pages before it hit her what he had actually said.

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Dee was motioning with her arms ferociously, really getting into telling her piece of tonight’s flash fiction exercise, way too overzealous, but since she’d eaten the entire delivery’s worth of sugar donuts while the rest of them worked on their Moo Goo Gai Pan and General Tzo, it made sense.

“It was then that a plaque of zombies descended on the peaceful villagers, and our noble hero was fending them off with his bat, when-”

“Wait wait – you mean a plague here, right?” Jess interrupted. “A plague can descend. Plaque doesn’t descend, well maybe, but very very slowly from the upper teeth.”

Dee looked confused, answering at a mile a minute. “No, I mean, it’s plaque, right? ”

“Unless your hero is a dentist, no.”

“Argh. Again?” Dee had apparently learned all her words from books, which made for some hilariously incongruous uses and pronunciations.

“We’ll wait while you look up the difference between these two words, love.” Jess said kindly. The rest of the group nodded. It had happened to them all at some point, although perhaps not at quite the same level.

Dee deleted, edited and continued on. She really was quite a good writer, as long as the rest of her friends were there to catch her misnomers. But, that’s what a writing group is for.


Jeremy was watching her as she fixed her coffee. His voice was bland when he spoke, “You want some coffee with that sugar?”

She glared at him, allowing the stream of white grains to trail slowly off before grabbing the stir stick to slowly, deliberately, mix her drink. “I don’t think you’re in a position to judge,” she commented, taking a small sip and closing her eyes in pleasure at the sweetness filling her senses.

“I just think if you’re going to have the pleasure of actual coffee, you should be able to taste it, to appreciate it.”

She took another small sip, the heat nearly taking the skin off the roof of her mouth, but totally worth it for the slice of heaven that exploded against her taste buds.

“I am absolutely appreciating it,” she told him. “More than you ever could.”

“What do you know?” he snapped. “You don’t appreciate anything you have.”

“Look,” she said, turning to face the ghost directly, his faded shape incongruous against the bright lights of the convenient store. She knew no one else could see him. She’d gotten good at having quiet conversations no one else noticed. “Just because you died during the Black Plague does not mean you get to judge me for every modern convenience.”

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