Tag Archives: Author Anne Cargile

Catching a Unicorn – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 November 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Derail
  • Reflection
  • Sugar

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE

“You know, this plan isn’t very good,” Shane said. “Everything I’ve read about catching a unicorn has to do with a virgin or something. I’ve never heard of using sugar.”

Janice sighed and rolled her eyes. “Just stay close and do what I say, ok? I’ve read the instructions a thousand times. Since we don’t have a virgin…”

“No kidding,” Shane muttered.

“Shut up. Since we don’t have a virgin, the idea is to entice them with the sugar and then catch them in their reflection.”

“Um, ok, not to derail your wonderful plan, but what exactly will they be reflected in?”

“We know the unicorns come at dawn to butterfly pond, right? So we can spell the water, and when it goes to take a drink…”

“Gotcha!” they said in unison.

Shane grinned. “Lead the way.”

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LISA BARRY:

My plans were derailed when the sugar factory sent me the pink slip. Seven years I had slaved in the sales room and gotten some of the biggest contracts they had. They fire me because Nick Saint wouldn’t give me the contract. Well screw them. He was the smartest man I knew and seeing his reflection in the mirror behind me after a wild Friday night was worth every penny that I wouldn’t get this week. I sat on the edge of my bed and sighed. Now what? I wondered. A call flashed on my phone. I debated ignoring it as per usual but I needed a distraction from my current poor existence.

“Yes?’ I said into the phone, my voice still a little deep from my amazing weekend.

“How would you like to visit the South Pole?” a low voice said. My back went pole straight and my nerves flashed with energy.

“Mr. Saint? I can’t think of anything else I’d like to be doing right now.”

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Everything was in place to derail the king’s coronation. The street urchins had been payed to tip the barrels of oil over the procession. The sharpshooter with the flaming arrows was positioned on the corner of the highest roof of the square, his arrow coated in black to dull the sun’s reflection on the metal.

“What do you mean, the coronation has been called off?” the sulky lord shouted. “They can’t call it off!”

“I’m afraid they can, and they have,” the elderly advisor said without sympathy. “It’s raining. They cannot hold a party in the rain.”

“When will they reschedule?” the lord asked. “They did not see fit to give that information to me,” the advisor said, only now the slightest signs of strain seeping through his carefully controlled demeanor.

“Well, then, find out!” the lord said, throwing himself across the feather bed pouting. “First bring me some mulled apple cider. With sugar!” he added in an imperious tone at the retreating back of the old man. The advisor closed the door to the lord’s chamber, and only now did his impassive face melt into a disgruntled scowl.

“Perhaps someone should plan your assassination, you spoiled little brat,” he muttered to himself, before he walked off to get the tea.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

The reflection of the sugar glider in the lake was almost maybe starting to calm me… I hadn’t had time for a walk in over three days, what with my sister Carmen’s visit derailing every tiny detail of my usually impeccably methodical routine.

Firstly, booking a flight that arrived so late that she ended up on the last train out and got here to the end of the line at 3:20 AM. Neither early enough to require waking up early, nor late enough to conveniently allow for staying up a little. There literally couldn’t have been a worse time to need to be picked up.

I’d suggested Uber, but she’d never heard of it. Lyft either. And of course didn’t trust cabbies. She didn’t care about my fitbit circle, or my various yoga meetups. She still lived in the dark ages from before all these apps around which I’d built my life.

And it turns out she’d brought her dog with her, which on paper was a support animal, but in reality, my couch could barely support the damn thing. So here I was, distractedly forgetting to do my breathing exercises, alone at the park, just taking a fucking break from Carmen. Which didn’t move my fitbit count up one tiny bit, but I was too exhausted to care.

As I sighed, chilling out just looking at the glistening ripples of the lake, the sugar glider swooped by, depositing a little offwhite wet crap on my lap. Yup, that pretty much topped off the week.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

JM PAQUETTE:

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Jasmine said, downing another shot and putting her hand on Rebecca’s shoulder. She grabbed the next glass on the bar and downed it as well, coughing a little as she turned to face her friend. “Not a word,” she declared.

“Ok,” Rebecca agreed, ever the supportive friend, but her face was red with suppressed emotion, either horror or hilarity, Jasmine couldn’t tell, and she was starting to think it was a little bit of both.

“I mean it!” Jasmine insisted, turning to face her friend as the whiskey burned through her. “Not. A. Word.”

Rebecca mimed a lock and key in front her lips and sat perfectly still, the red in her face growing deeper with each passing second.

“I don’t ever want you to mention this again!” Jasmine snapped.

“Mention what?” Rebecca asked, turning away to face the bar, carefully not looking at her friend, suddenly very interested in her own reflection in the mirror behind the bar.

“Was it…” Jasmine let the words trail off. She grabbed the third shot, downed it, and faced her friend again. “Was it really that awful?”

“Do you want the truth or do you want me to sugar coat it?”

“Just hit me with it.”

“It was more than that awful. So much more. You certainly know how to derail a discussion, Jaz.”

Jasmine winced. “I know. It was terrible. I don’t know what came over me.”

Rebecca smirked, “Well, there are worse things in the world. Nothing comes to mind at present, of course, but I’m sure they exist.” She pondered. “Famine. Pestilence. War…”

“Ok,” Jasmine told her. “That’s enough hard hitting truth.”

“Are you kidding?” Rebecca asked. “That was sugar coated.”

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

“Oh sugar,” Cali exclaimed.

“Really?” Max replied. “You can actually swear you know. It’s not going to be a poor reflection of your character.”

Cali shrugged. “I just didn’t feel like saying it. Sometimes swearing derails my train of thought, but now considering this ridiculous conversation, I should have just gone for it.” Cali’s voice rose in tenor, the way it normally did when she was aggravated. “Now, where was I?” She asked no one. “Right,” she said answering herself, focusing back on the shovel in her hand and continued to move the dirt off the top of the coffin.

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BRANDON SCOTT

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All That Scotch – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 November 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Poison
  • Top
  • Satisfy

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

DESIREE MATLOCK:

I had no idea how much of this I was supposed to use. I’d heard that cardamon was a poison in high levels, but not enough and the pie might just taste like pumpkin mush… so there was that.

If I could somehow walk that fine line between mum’s dissatisfied narrow eyes face from poorly baked pies and mum’s dissatisfied narrow eyes face from sending uncle Pete to the hospital, maybe my stress levels would come back down before Christmas.

Maybe the internet could help. Or maybe I should just stick to the recipe for once, like I’d planned to from the top. But… I was never any good that that. I’m naturally impulsive. It works out great in the bedroom and the board room but it definitely is a mixed bag of issues in the kitchen. Sometimes, once in a blue moon, I could make something amazing happen.

Doubt it would affect mum’s face either way, but I was determined that if I was hosting the entire Thanksgiving spectacle this year, the cardamon levels of my pumpkin pie were going to be perfectly in balance with all that scotch I already added. Uncle Pete loves Scotch. I smiled and poured in what seemed right.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

LISA BARRY:

“What is this?” I asked, holding up the clear bottle of blue fluid.

“It’s the poison you asked for,” Tig answered without glancing up from the letter he was scribing. He frowned.

“This is not what I asked for,” I snarled. Tig looked up in alarm, his mouth gaping like a fish.

“What I asked for should be a greenish brown color, with a layer of gold on the top.”

His mouth moved slightly, no words coming out. The alarm in his eyes was growing. He grabbed his throat and I could tell he was trying really hard to pull air into lungs that I had blocked with a stray piece of magic. That’s how easy it was for me. I didn’t really need poison, but it would lay the blame elsewhere since everyone knew I would never stoop so low. I smiled at Tig. His eyes were just starting the satisfying roll into the back of his head when I pulled the magic back and let it seep back into the air. He fell onto the table, gasping and moaning.

“Just get me the right stuff, boy and we’ll discuss your tenure later.”

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ANNE CARGILE

“You know, we can be civil about this,” the witch said kindly as she poured iced tea into one glass, and milk into a small bowl. She brought the beverages over to the table and set the bowl in front of the cat.

Lily, the cat, was sitting politely on top of the stool at the table, watching her. The occasional twitching of her whiskers the only indication she agreed.

“Thank you,” Lily said, and took a polite drink of her milk.

The witch nodded, and said, “I don’t particularly like to use poison you know, but I can’t have the mice running through my supplies and contaminating my herbs. Makes for very bad results when I cast a spell and it has mouse poop in it. I’m sorry that your friend was made ill, but what can we do to satisfy both our problems?”

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Nat very carefully drew the tip of the arrow through the poison, watching the black liquid gleam and then sink into the metal. This particular batch was for an assassin who was very difficult to satisfy, but there was a reason Nat was called the best. Nat set the arrow on top of the roll of leather, and reached for the last arrow. He held it up to the light, admiring the grain of the wood, the expert fletching, the razor sharp head. Instead of drawing this through the jar in front of him, he stood and walked to the shelf behind his work-desk. He pulled the blue book from its place, and pressed the hidden lever. The false back swung forward, and revealed the little cubby he kept his most rare and potent potions. The tiny bottle had but a single drop left, and Nat has been saving it for a very long time, but now the time was right. He tipped the liquid onto the last arrow, and watched as the metal began to glow as if it has just been pulled from a fire. Then the glow faded, but if one held the arrow up to the light, the tip of the arrow now had a slightly paler gleam than the others. Nat smiled grimly. It was time for payback.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“What if I just poison her?” Cassandra offered. “It’s quick, simple, effective. You’ll never have to think about this again.”

Helen sighed, considering the offer for a fraction of a second. It certainly would make things easier. “No,” she said after a pause. “That’s too easy. I mean, even if there’s suffering involved, it’s too nice. She needs to pay for what she did.”

“And death is just too good for her? When did you become so hard to satisfy?”

“After I started boning a man who is literally the gods’ gift to women,” Helen quipped, unable to stop herself.

Cassandra blanched. “Come on,” she said. “I just don’t want to think of him on top of you, the two of you doing all manner of things…ugh!” she shuddered. “He’s my brother!”

Helen looked slightly abashed, but the expression fled quickly. It was kind of fun to nettle Cassandra when she got the chance. For a woman who saw everything, Cassandra was shockingly prudish when it came to relationships. Helen thought that being pursued by a sex-crazed god might do that to a person, but then again, she’d been pursued by all of Greece and she still appreciated a good time. It was just too bad that Paris hadn’t survived the war.

Being back home with her husband was nothing to compare. She didn’t think she would have been contemplating assassination if she’d still been in Troy.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Alistair searched the top shelf for a cobalt blue vial, “Where is it?” He muttered to himself, shuffling bottles to and fro. “Come out, come out, wherever you are,” he sung quietly trying to coax the missing bottle to appear. “Ah ha!” He blurted out with excitement and snatched the vial, satisfied with the results of his search. Alistair climbed back down the ladder and went over to the table where he had a scroll unfurled with opposite edges held down by a bowl. He slapped the paper with his finger and read the measurement…two drops. Two Drops was all it would take to make the deadliest poison the realm had seen in hundreds of years. Two drops, was all that stood between him and reclaiming his birthright as Archmage. Two drops and the King would cease to exist.

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BRANDON SCOTT

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Regardless – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 November 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Regard
  • Ruler
  • Format

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“Regard Less?” she read the name from the list carefully, focusing on each syllable as she spoke, not wanting anything to run into the next sound. She put the paper down and looked around the room. “Seriously? Regard Less? That’s your name?”

A boy in the front room nodded miserably. “It’s a family name,” he muttered. “My grandfather was Beauregard, but my ma thought that was too long.” He paused, then went on, “She wanted something nice and short, like our last name.”

The instructor nodded sympathetically. “Like Less. I see.” She paused, then read out the name with all of the dignity she could muster. “Regard Less, ruler of Garmin, land of Dragons and Misery.”

The class was in awe until she read that last word. A few awkward giggles swept through the assembled royal children.

“Are dragons all that bad, mate?” asked the boy sitting next to Regard, forgetting the etiquette and proper format of address.

The teacher squinted down at her paper, then held it up to the light. “Mystery,” she corrected in a low voice. “I see now. I really must get a new scribe.” She cleared her throat and tried again, “Sir Regard Less, ruler of Garmin, land of Dragons and Mystery,” she intoned. “Much better,” she decided, and Regard smiled at her.

She looked back down at the list of names. “Irr?” she asked, scanning the faces. “Regard…Oh, come on! Irr Regard?” She put the list down in disgust.

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LISA BARRY:

When I saw Ben take out the ruler, I turned and ran. Down the hallway and straight out the back door. The man was obsessed and despite my pleas he would not let it up. There was absolutely no way in hell that the distance between my cauldron and edge of the table was 2.5 inches and there was no way I was going to blow up the house. His lack of regard of my sensibilities was absolutely discouraging and I could not, nay, would not stay married to him another moment. My cauldron was my life and had been ten long years longer than my marriage. No man would ever tie me down again. Never. I stopped breathing hard from the run. I found myself in front of the local ice cream shop and perked up. Ben walked out the door and held out chocolate mint on a cake cone. He was lucky to have the format of dimension twisting down cold to have beat me here. He smiled sheepishly and showed me a ruler broken in half in his other hand. Gawd, he was handsome. I took the ice cream, watched as the ruler hit the ground and took his arm for the walk home.

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ANNE CARGILE

The plans just weren’t coming out. Dana rubbed her forehead, where a steady thump had developed. She regarded the paper in front of her and said, “Screw this”, threw her ruler down and turned off the desk lamp. A nice cup of tea might help she thought.

Colin was in the kitchen, where he’d been very nicely minding his own business while she’d worked. He looked up from whisking something that would probably end up being fattening and yummy and grinned at her.

It never failed. That grin had the power to make her heart stutter every single time, and the bastard new it.

“Did you figure out the format for the wedding reception?” he asked, winking.

“No,” she said and groaned. “There are too many people who don’t like each other. I can’t figure out where to put them that a fight won’t break out.” Dana groaned again and reached for the whiskey instead.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“Your problem is that the format of your spell is wrong,” Moss pointed at the pile of feathers at the end of the pentagram. “What is that?”

Sara looked at the bloody mass, and her face colored. “I’m not really sure. My cat brought it in this morning, and it seemed fresh enough…” She trailed off at the pained look on Moss’ face.

The wizard pinched the bridge of his nose, gave a deep sigh and pulled out a ruler. He knelt down, being careful not to touch the cat’s offering, and began to measure the lines she had drawn. “Off by two inches. Off by two and a half inches. This one’s better-only off by one and a quarter.”

Sara was fighting tears, determined not to let him see how upset she was. Fortunately, he was so intent on critiquing her spell that he didn’t have attention for her. “And with regard to the placement,” he pointed at an oblique angle towards the door. “It should be lined up with the point to the North-north-west. If you truly want to summon the spirit of your grandfather, you’re going to have to start again.”

Sara sighed, and went to get the bleach. That blood was going to take some work to get out.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

Without regard for the wishes of any of the office, and while the rest of us were still considering the options, our branch manager Patsy had booked us for a team building exercise reenacting the civil war at the memorial.

This was from the woman who once tried to format her Word document with a ruler and a marker. Needless to say, I had a feeling it was going to go strangely. I was nearly certain that she’d gotten the job through nepotism or blow jobs.. There wasn’t any other way to quite make sense of her placement atop our branch’s pecking order.

So, on the day of, my first sign that the team building exercise was going sideways was that just after arriving, Patsy started trying to storm back to her car, saying she’d been gypped.

“Obviously, this isn’t the real battleground. I mean, there aren’t even any bullet holes in the statues! We got scammed.”

Rob from accounting talked her down – thankfully he knew better than to try to explain her mistake – while the rest of us clambered into tents to change for the mock battle. Dear God I hope there wasn’t any live ammunition, because I was certain to try to use it on her if there was.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Frank stared at the blank white paper and the ruler that he had placed neatly next to it and breathed out feeling ready for the next phase…making the architectural drawing. His feeling of satisfaction was fleeting as he realized he didn’t know what to design. The client had given him specific instructions, a format to follow, but the whole thing seemed odd. However, Frank couldn’t disregard the client’s very specific instructions. The client warned him that if he did, there’d be consequences and Frank believed him or to be more specific believed the very sharp fangs he saw in the client’s toothy smile.

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BRANDON SCOTT

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Blamed the Fish – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 14 May 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Fish
  • Key
  • Purge

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“And then the huge fish leaped out of the water, teeth gleaming like silver razors, and snatched the key from my hand, swallowing it, and taking to to the depths,” the man on the floor finished his tale, a pitiful wail escaping his lips as he cowered, his face pressed to the ground.

Rex lounged on the cushioned bench, and took his time selecting another grape from the solid gold platter beside him. The servant hovered somewhere in the vicinity, out of sight, but just as Rex had swallowed, the servant appeared, swooping in to offer the little vial of the potion that would purge the stomach should Rex be full yet wish to continue eating. Rex waved him away, and the man retreated to the world of invisibility.

“A fish, you say? With teeth?” The man on the floor trembled, and somehow managed to nod his head while keeping his forehead against the stone. “Interesting,” Rex said, and ate another grape. “And how is it your hand is still attached to your arm?”

The man quaked, but did not say anything. Rex considered for a moment, his mind going over the possibilities. He needed that key, more than anything, and it was all he could do to keep his calm. There were spies everywhere, their eyes and ears leading directly to the White King, and it would not do to have him know Rex’s growing desperation.

“Perhaps,” Rex said aloud. “You swallowed the key yourself, and blamed the fish?” Only now did the man lift his face, though his eyes were squeezed shut, his mouth trembling in unspoken pleas. Rex waved at a guard. “Open him up.”

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LISA BARRY:

Dangling the fish over the sleepy dragon’s nose, I pondered my next move. The Dark Kingdom had the key to my survival what with its vampiric ghosts, hairy shapeshifters and whorish fae. I knew I could make my fortune there easily but that double damned Prince. Everyone loved him and here I was wanting him purge him from our beautiful brimstone covered land.  He had thwarted my plans not once, or even twice but three bloody times he had muscled in on my action and taken the credit. When Scarp finally pulled the fish from my hand it was like a light had been flashed over my coveted talent of The Sight and I saw further than ever before. My salvation may not ever come, thank the Demon Goddess, but my pockets would be full of coin and the Prince would be history. I jumped up and set to work.

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ERIKA LANCE:

Marcile fished in his pocket for the key.  

 

The demon moved closer towards him snarling and flexing as if causing fear would make his prey taste better. It most likely did, but if one wanted to survive such encounters one best not think on this too hard. 

 

With key in hand he grabbed the box, closed it, locked it, read the words or better described as symbols around the lid and unlocked and opened the box as the demons jaws were about to clamp perfectly on his head. 

 

Suddenly there was a pop and the demon was gone and in it’s place was a banana. 

 

Marcile looked down at the fruit and wondered if he should bother touching it, but magic was fickle so he left it be, closed and relocked the box and headed after Jerimiah.  

 

It didn’t take long to stumble upon his friend or at least what he assumed was his friend in the form of a peacock now pacing the hallway leading out of the tomb.  

 

The bird had apparently purged any contents in its stomach moments before.  

 

Hmmmm” Marcile said looking behind and wondering if peacocks liked bananas. 

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

I needed to purge some of the contents from this damn purse. I had been fishing around in it for a solid 90 seconds now looking for my housekeys. It was time to make dinner, not time to be lollygagging outside. Ugh.

I knew I’d placed my keys in the purse when I left the house. I sat in a huff, jeans too tight as I crouched onto the bricks of my front stoop. The entire purse turns upside down, light started fading. Digging through the contents and still not finding the keys, I remembered my mom’s advice and started rethinking all the steps that I’d taken as I left the house. I’d popped on my new peeptoes, walked to the hall, flipped the switch to turn off all the inside lights, pulled the keys from the hook, flipped the switch to turn on the porch light, locked the door, popped the keys into the side pocket of the purse, and then walked down the steps. Then I spent the day walking the city with Jimmy. It’d been a blast. Jimmy who I had never thought would be fun, but it really was. He had just walked me back and just now was disappearing around the corner, half a block away. I texted him quickly.

“Hey, can’t find keys. Come back?”

I hoped he didn’t take it as a come on, but I didn’t want to wait for the locksmith alone. The daylight was almost completely gone now, and locksmiths could take a while.

Jimmy hadn’t emerged from around the corner yet, but as I was dialing the locksmith, I noticed the front porch light must have blown out. I could still see the contents of my purse as I put them back into place, though, and I realized why. The livingroom light was on, and shining out through closed blinds. Blinds I hadn’t closed.

Oh, crap. The front door knob started turning, as I ran down the steps, trying to dial 9-1-1. I realized I’d been halfway through dialing the locksmith already, and it failed. I hung up on the locksmith, running full tilt, as I saw someone emerge from my house. What the hell, it looked like… It started running toward me, and I realized.

It looked like me. Exactly like me. I almost couldn’t look away, but I had to, I had to run faster. I turned to look behind me again, as I ran straight into Jimmy.

“Jimmy?” I was scared. I grabbed onto him, looked into his eyes, and something didn’t seem right. Something about Jimmy was just… wrong. Oh crap, I thought, just as everything went black.

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JM PAQUETTE:

John raised an eyebrow, knife poised over the fish splayed on the ceremonial plate before him. “So, do I just cut it or what?”

“It’s the Great Fish Feast, Human John,” Serena the Supreme Leader whispered. “Please find some measure of decorum.”

John kept his knife held over the plate, deciding that he would wait to see what everyone else did first. This dinner was a big deal after all, the key to sealing the peace treaty with the Estonians, his people’s only way of  avoiding the planet purge these Fish-loving people were so fond of. He had to show them that his people were worthy. That he was worthy. He’d hate it if he screwed it all up before they even got started because he didn’t know the proper way to eat fish. And at the Great Fish Feast, he was sure such manners were required. This was a test.

He stared at the fish, wishing he knew more about the creatures. It was grayish, with one gelatinous eye still staring balefully up at him. Weren’t the cooks supposed to cook it more, or skin it, or at least take the eyes out before serving it? What kind of savages ate like this?

They probably didn’t eat like this he realized. No doubt they purged all of the fish from their own seas, just as they destroyed everything else they decided needed to go.

And then they had to find new planets to inhabit, with strange new creatures to worship for a few moments before they purged again and moved on.

Fortunately for him, they seemed to live a long time. Maybe they would be entertained by the many different types of fish on this planet for the next hundred years and it wouldn’t matter to him anymore.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Wesley pulled the key out from around his neck. It was truly unique as it was shaped like the skeleton of a fish. It had taken him almost a year to find the door that it would unlock and today was going to be the day he’d find out what secrets were held within. He took a deep breath as he turned the key in the lock until a click sounded. As he pushed open the door a rush of air streamed past him, pulling him inside. It was useless to resist and he found himself trapped in the room, the door had slammed behind him. After he regained his equilibrium, Wesley realized he couldn’t remember who he was or why he was here. It was as if all his memories had been purged from his mind.

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BRANDON SCOTT

From the lake, he pulled forth a golden fish. It was large, heavy, and gasped at the lack of water. Fen looked at it and felt a tinge of guilt at his actions, but still placed it down inside the large pail he had brought for such an occasion.

“Hello, you little thing. How’s today going?” he said, trying to calm the thrashing creature. “It’s going to be okay, we only have to go a little way, and then we will have a feast, you and I.”

“Oh, now that’s bull,” said the fish, sounding a little hoarse. And Fen jolted away from the pail, his eyes wide.

“You think I am really going to fall for something like that?” the fish continued, now sitting in the center, it’s mouth flapping in accordance with human speech. “You’re planning to eat me.”

“Well…” Fen said, unsure what to say to a fish. He hung his head in guilt.

“No, no—don’t be that way. Your species eats fish, I understand—but here, I can make it worth your while. Reach into the pail, and I will give you a golden key.”

“A golden key?” Fen asked, incredulous.

“Yes. A key to the secret door, at the center of the pond. Behind it, gold and jewels beyond your wildest dreams.”

The man’s eyes widened, and, in a fit of greed, reached forward into the pail. A moment later, defying all laws of physics, his entire frame flew into the pail and disappeared.

The fish let out a loud burp and then chuckled. “That’s one way to purge a human—if only I could do it more often. They are good eating.”

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Creepy Flitty Things – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 March 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Tweet
  • Surprise
  • Sensitive

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE

“What the hell is that noise?” Gail asked.

“I dunno, sounds like tweeting, you know, like birds or something,” Henry answered.

Gail shuddered. She didn’t like birds, not one bit. Creepy flitty things. With nasty little beaks. Only thing they were good for was food and feathers for pillows and beds. This job was not what she had signed up for she thought as she tiptoed down the decrepit hallway. She didn’t like surprises either, and this job had just been one after another.

Henry sneezed and Gail stifled and groan. It would be just like his stupid sensitive nose to go off and get them caught. She waved at him and motioned for him to plug his nose. The witch was asleep upstairs, and they couldn’t afford to wake her before they finished the job. She pushed the kitchen door open and the tweets turned into screeches.

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LISA BARRY:

The birds tweeting outside my window did not make me happy. After working late and going to bed after four this morning, the only thing that would bring me any pleasure was a hot man or a sleeping draught. I peeled open my eyes and they screamed from the light pouring in, their sensitivity at full volume. I blinked a few times before pulling the covers up to my chin in surprise. I had been joking about the hot man but someone had finally been looking over my well-being because sure as shit, there was a tall, dark and handsome sitting on my cozy chair. And there was not a stitch of clothing on him. This day just started making me very happy.

(With love to Erika. ❤ )

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

She followed the tweeting sound, the solid pewter candle held in both hands over her shoulder like a bat. Her palms were sweating and she kept readjusting her grip, fearing that if she had to use it as a weapon, it would slip from her grasp and that would be the end of her. Triya had been trapped in this nightmarish place, and was now accustomed to its surprises, so much so that she was overly sensitive to sounds that were out of place and made her think of poor, helpless creatures in need of a caring touch. More often that not those sounds belonged to something with too many teeth and a foul stench that would try to disembowel her and feast on her soft innards. Luck had kept her alive this long, but Triya wasn’t going to count on it forever. The abandoned house she had found, with the sagging roof and the creaking stairs had turned out to be a safer haven than she could’ve hoped for, empty but for curtains of cobwebs and the rats that left her alone as long as she left them alone. A particularly pathetic chirp made her stomach clench and her heart jump to her throat, and once again, she brought the candlestick up. Taking a deep breath, she peered around the corner, and there, laying in the middle of the half-rotted kitchen floor, was a magnificent bird with red and gold plumage, and flames dancing under its feet.

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DALIA LANCE:

She didn’t realize how sensitive she was until it happened to her. It is one thing to get what has been dubbed as a “surprise penis” when you open a text from someone you have slept with before, or even someone trying really hard to impress you to get to be added to the list of people you have slept with. 

 

This thought caused her to pause for a moment and ponder why guys thought sending their dicks randomly out made girls all into them. It actually usually has the opposite effect. 

 

She looked down at her phone and shook her head.  

 

Who the tell Tweets a dick pick with the #Iloveyoubaby and lists her twitter handle.  

 

She wondered if her boss had seen it.  

 

She debated reporting it, but the damage was already done. This is social media after all, these things moved at the speed of light. 

 

She looked at the photo again as she got another mention on twitter.  

 

Could she block him she wondered as she opened the latest Tweet and wondered why had he drawn hearts on the tip?  

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The World Imploded – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 15 March 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Generate
  • Stasis
  • Tinkle

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The three figures grouped around the towering flames clasped hands tightly to contain the ribbons of magical energy. Three worried faces were bathed in blue and purple light, jaws clenched, eyes fierce. Each of them had the same thought: if the spell did not generate enough power to open the gate, they would be stuck forever in this world. Bastion felt sweat tickle down his face, and he clenched the others hands tighter, fighting the urge to pull his hand away and wipe his brow. He wanted to call out to his friends, but the roaring in his ears – or perhaps it was his own head – made that pointless. He was just going to have to trust that everyone was doing their part and everything was going as it should. Suddenly, a quiet descended, a stasis in which all was frozen, everything still. Bastion’s eyes widened despite the fiercely glowing fire, and with a creak and a whoosh, the world imploded. A black star grew in the fire, wild gusts of wind pushing them towards the darkness. From far away, the tinkle of bells called to them, and pushing away his fear, Bastion leapt into the opening door.

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LISA BARRY:

The bell tinkled and Hena stifled a yawn as she glanced at the clock. Ten more minutes. She straightened the pens on the counter before looking up to greet the guest and hopefully help them as quickly as possible. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the hooded figure disappear down the used parts aisle. Barely anyone went down that aisle, it was a mess. She’d tried to organize it on 3 different occasions to no avail.

Hena locked the till before heading to the aisle. The figure was holding a curved pipe up close to the hoodie’s opening.

“Can I help you?” Hena asked.

He turned and his eyes met hers. The sturdy glasses didn’t cover the garnet colored eyes that peered at her. She drew in a breath. His kind were rare these days.

“I’m trying to find the last two fittings I need to generate the proper stasis for the life continuum.”

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ANNE CARGILE

Tinkle? Twinkle? Alexa wasn’t sure. She played the sound again, a few hundred million times in the nano second she had to form an answer. Her sub processors generated a few hundred thousand possible responses. She wasn’t entirely sure she’d heard the order correctly though. The problem with being locked inside a vast void of networked electrons was the lack of real ears she thought. Microphones and speakers just weren’t the same. Heaving a mental sigh, she pulled the top 10 responses, culled through them, and spat out her answer. She hated the sound of her voice, flat and unemotional. Ugh she thought, and returned to stasis.

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ERIKA LANCE:

She sat there frozen in the med bay.  
This wasn’t because of temperature or being held in stasis or some other nonsense. This was because she walked in to check on the Captain and instead found a young man tinkling onto what seemed like important equipment while singing, what seemed like a happy tune in a language she wasn’t familiar with. 

Ummm…” she started to speak having no idea what to say. 

The young man turned and she was awestruck. He was beautiful.  

He wasn’t actually human, close, but his eyes were rounder and his ears were pointed outward. He smiled at her and she realized this was generating more liquid from his… What was that appendage? It came right out of his chest and what she thought was pee turned out to be acidic as she saw it burrow through the floor. 

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Ready for the Apocalypse – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 22 February 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Gargoyle
  • Warmup
  • Doom

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“I assume that the rise of the gargoyles means that this doom thing is really starting to warm up, huh?”

Galen stared at her, his mouth forming a long, slowly articulated oh, but no sound came out.

“Oh crap,” she complained, reaching out to touch him, “it’s not happening to you too, is it? You’re not, like, one of those things?”

When Galen didn’t reply fast enough, she slapped his cheek, harder than necessary, but hey, one could never be too cautious during times like these. She wasn’t really surprised to see the redness rising in his skin, but it was a tiny relief to be certain. The way things had been going lately, she wasn’t sure of anyone around her anymore. After what happened with Jake, she had to be sure. But Galen had been one of her father’s closest friends. He had been ready for the apocalypse for a long time now, likely even before she had been born. But now it was here, and it was her job to do something about it.

“So, like, what do I do now?” Galen continued to stare at her, as if she had somehow removed his ability to speak in the last few moments. She considered hitting him again—maybe he actually was one of the stone creatures, just slow to transform. Something in his face made her decide against it though, so she continued, “I mean, like, I know I’m supposed to save the world and all that, and I get that’s, like, Big Picture stuff, but I mean, like what am I supposed to do right now? Like, does the prophecy say I have time to grab a burger before this gets going or what?”

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LISA BARRY:

Doom firmly grasped the leg of his gargoyle, Larold, before jumping. His smile flapping in the wind, he laughed as he fell. The Parithian Sea sparkling and winked as he headed downward, the sprays, still looking so small, moved like ants. This was the warmup jump, aided by Larold before the test. It was like he was going to die or anything but not having a hold on something solid could easily undo even the strongest man. Doom had to win. He trusted Larold to catch him at the last and winning would give him the one thing he wanted more than even his own life.

The smell of salt flew by him and the Sea became deep waves, swarming with large death bringing creatures. Mere moments before crashing in, Larold jerked up and they soared upward.

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ANNE CARGILE

It was too unbelievable that pixilated Hell Guards, like gargoyles on meth, would actually be chasing me. My mind told me all of these things, even as I ran, so beyond fear all I could recognize were immediate survival options, open spaces free of danger – HERE!
Another beast came out from my left, throwing a careless paw at my face, as if in warm up, and I skidded backwards into the wall behind me. It must have been one of the hidden ones though, because as the blood soaked claw came at me I fell back, back, and kept falling…

It had to be a dream. It was Doom.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

The earthquakes, the torrential rain, the banshee like winds were all warmups to this. Garret looked up into the sky, the clouds glowing gray with each strike of lightning and the strikes were becoming more frequent. The ancient tome he had in his hand warned of this impending doomsday and now it was upon us. The next lightning strike illuminated the gothic tower in front of him when it struck one the four gargoyles that stood guard and to his horror the stone figure began to move.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“This is just a warmup to the great doom the overlord will unleash on the world.”

Gredden tuned out the droning words and looked around at the gathered creatures. They had come from all corners of the known world, unicorns and centaurs from the south, gargoyles and goblins from the north, elves from the west, dwarves and trolls from the east. Gredden was the only representative for men, and every time he glanced at his fellow representatives he felt more and more inadequate and useless.

“We must unify to protect ourselves,” the old centaur continued in his booming baritone, the silver beard falling to his navel, his front hoof punctuating his words. Grumbles greeted his last statement, as the proud races immediately threw up figurative walls of distrust and xenophobia. It took a long time for the centaur to restore order and a measure of quiet for him to continue speaking, but as he opened his mouth, a shadow fell over the gathering.

Gredden looked up along with all assembled to behold the awesome and terrifying sight of the gleaming scaled form of a red dragon coming in for a landing.

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ERIKA LANCE:

“What do you mean he is missing?” The trainers face had turned red and his voice was now much louder then seemed necessary.

“Well… He said something about a ‘warmup’ and that you would ‘understand’ and that he would be back later” I made quotations in the air in the hopes this would help to soften what was appearing to be a very angry Gargoyle.

The trainers nostrils flared. It was always weird to see the skin that looked like rock have the same movement flesh did. This was not the weirdest thing that one would see at a school designed around supernatural beings.

“Why did you say he was ‘missing’ then?” the trainer now looked more suspicious then mad.

I wanted to disappear at that moment. He wasn’t going to like the answer “Well there was the word “doomed” written in his blood above his bed” the quotes definitely didn’t help this time.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“What?” Gerald said, stepping back. He had not dealt with the supernatural before, but was aware of it in this city. The recent bouts of alien abductions were a testament to that fact.

“I figured she had forgotten it,” the man said, reaching out and grabbing it. “It really is a shame, she had only like two days left.”

Gerald blinked, deeply confused.

“Two days until what?”

Behind him, almost as if summed there on cue, the glass broke. This was startling enough, but the fact he lived on the fifteenth floor of the apartment complex made the whole thing more surprising.

Gerald swiveled, reaching for a gun he did not have on him, and backed up in alarm into his strange guest.

The creature before him, now kneeling and folding up its wings, was a black, stone gargoyle.

“Doom,” the Middle Eastern man said. “Doom on this whole world.”

Gerald spun, though he had every bit of his free attention on the sounds of the thing behind him. He had no idea which of the two was a bigger threat, which was a deadlier being.

“What? Now?” Gerald said.

“Yeah. We’ve been obsessed with doing the warmup, on repeat, for it for weeks now. But without her, we can’t. And that stupid necklace…”

Gerald got it. He was terrified, and he got it.

But he wasn’t going to die just for this girl.

“But…do you need me?”

The man smiled, and curled a fist around the necklace. “Not really no. But the gargoyle is hungry.”

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The Instructions Were Quite Clear – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 22 February 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Necklace
  • Lotion
  • Folder

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

She continued to rub the lotion on her skin. Her arms and hands felt terribly dry. She wasn’t sure if it was from the constant scrubbing but she knew that she had made a bigger mess then she had intended.

She also didn’t like that she had been forced into action before she was fully prepared. She looked down at the folder and the bloody necklace resting on top. She wasn’t sure why her client had chosen this as the proof the deed had been done. However, the instructions were quite clear on the matter. She was to take the necklace off only when the girl was dead.

Looking down at the ten neatly arranged plastic bags she could assure her client that the girl was most specifically dead. She finished rubbing the lotion in and began to load up the truck. She still had several dumps sites to stop at and a necklace to deliver before dinner.

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LISA BARRY:

I opened the folder and was surprised when something heavy and loud fell into my lap. The papers were yellowed and worn. I glanced at my lap and the gold glared back at me in the fluorescent light. Lifting the necklace, to fully view it’s monstrous proportion I swore out loud. How did this get here? I wondered. I had put this very necklace in a lock box, filled it with sand, tied it with duct tape and tossed it into the ocean while 100 miles out at sea.  Placing the necklace not so carefully onto the table I noticed a blob of pink. I wiped the lotion from the table and rubbed it into my hands as I pondered my next move. The Memory Necklace had to go. It wasn’t safe for anyone. The first pain hit only a moment later.

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ANNE CARGILE

Gina pulled the necklace from the folder in wonder. As a piece of jewelry it was stunning, as a piece of evidence, a tragedy. It was made to adorn a woman’s’ neck, but only a woman with the right coloring she thought slightly cattily, which she just so happened to have. She grinned as she set the folder down on the steel desk, ubiquitous to all law enforcement offices. Oh yes, her coloring was perfect for the deep red rubies set in the slightly tarnished sliver filigree. She clasped the piece around her neck and saw black…

Two hours later Officers Romero and Jordan answered the 911 call. All they found was a smear of lotion, blood, and a ruby necklace.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Maxwell looked at the items strew across the pine table, there was the ruby necklace set in platinum and the bottle of vanilla scented lotion just as expected. He looked at the list, laying perfectly centered in the folder he held in his hands and put a checkmark next to the applicable line items. Inventory was always his favorite part of the job and his employer expected nothing, but the most meticulous attention to detail.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The necklace gleamed on the bronze bust, blood-red rubies and dark sapphires twined in gold. Morlan crept towards it, his footsteps echoing in the vast empty hall. No one tried to stop him as he stepped up to the pedestal and lifted the heavy piece of jewelry off its stand. It flowed into his hands, silky smooth coils of metal like lotion, and he sighed. How long he had waited to hold it in his hands once again.

It was heavier than he remembered, and he frowned when he realized that someone had ornamented it with a large diamond studded clasp, and added a fourth strand of gems. Morlan knelt to the ground, and pulled out the leather folder from his pocket. Opening the worn wallet, he extracted the small blade and tweezers, tools of his trade, and went to work on the necklace. The clasp came of easily, and he tossed it aside, the worth of the diamonds and gold enough to feed a family with a dozen children for year, but he didn’t care.

The additional strand was more stubborn, and Morlan stuck his tongue between his teeth as he concentrated on removing it without damaging the rest of the necklace.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“You really think this is the one, the necklace from the famous disaster?” Tim stared at the blue jewel resting on his well-lotioned palm, the cut facets of the surface glinting in the afternoon sunlight.

James shrugged, looking nervously from the necklace precariously placed in his partner’s hand to the metal railing they leaned against. “I am certain enough that I’d prefer you didn’t hold it so close to the edge,” he commented. “Didn’t you see how that movie ended?”

Tim laughed, but tugged the necklace away from impending disaster. He held it up the sun, the last rays of the day reflecting off the many surfaces. It really was a lovely jewel. It looked just like the picture they had seen inside the faded manila folder they found in the bottom of the captain’s desk.

“I can’t believe it was inside that shark.” James glanced behind where his brother stood to where the remains of the butchered shark rested on the floor. They should probably clean that mess up—the blood would start to get sticky soon.

“I can’t believe that guy was inside that shark.” Tim’s face was serious as he also turned to face the rest of the carnage remaining on deck. The recognizable remains of the human body were still there, the hand they had untangled the necklace from still open and empty.

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BRANDON SCOTT

On the table was a folder, stuffed to the brim with more secrets and personal data than any shady government agency could hope to amass. And in this folder, also, placed there as a lump—not well hidden at all—was a necklace.

Officer Gerald looked at the necklace as it fell out and unto the table, his mind on other things, and immediately those other things became not nearly as relevant.

“Huh?” he said, staring at it. The memory of the person before catching in his head.

He rose, eyeing the door, before slowly sitting down: she was gone by now. No way she wasn’t already in her limo and away.

He shook his head, annoyed. Normally, and with frequency as the relationship bloomed, she had taken to leaving things around the house. Her expansive collection of special skin-softening lotions was impressive and baffling alone—though did work.

But this, this was not a normal item. She never took it off. Even when she wore nothing else, she never took it off.

“I’m sure she’ll come back for it,” he said, before hearing a faint patter on the door. He froze, and thinking it was her, rose back up to give it to her: hands out and holding the necklace.

What greeted him however, was not his lover: was not even human. Though, besides the faint shadows following him along like he had a fog machine under his cloak, he looked like a middle-aged Middle Eastern man.

The man looked down at the necklace, nodded, and said: “I thought so. Shame that.”

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Gave the Brew Three Stirs – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 1 February 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Candle
  • Bobble-head
  • Star

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ANNE CARGILE

Francine tipped the black candle over the pot, careful to let the flame melt the wax slowly. She couldn’t mess up the spell this close to the end. After six fat drops of black wax plopped into the cauldron, she grabbed her birch wood spoon and gave the brew three stirs, counter clockwise.

Using a hand carved ladle, also made of birch, she carefully poured a single serving into a glass jar, decorated with etched stars. Tastefully done, and not too elaborate she thought, proud of her work.

Taking the bottle, she threw off her apron, checked her hair in the mirror and walked out in to the living room.

“Wow,” Jimmy said, “You sure like bobble-heads.” He pointed to a glass display case built in to one wall, artfully lit with pin lights.

“Why yes, I do. I’m a rather dedicated collector,” said Francine smiling coyly. “Would you like a drink?”

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LISA BARRY:

Star flicked a finger at the bobble-head of Riddick and watched it fly from the table and skid to a stop on the floor near the dog food bowl. She placed her black cloth carefully over the table making sure that no were no wrinkles or crumbs. A silver candle was place at each corner and glitter mixed with salt was sprinkled into a circle in the center.  She placed the strands of lightly colored hair that she had pilfered from the desk chair at work. She rolled out her portable lecture stand, letting it stop at the head of the table and opened her well-worn spell book. She read through the spell, more as a reminder, and went to the pantry, gathering the demons eye, dragon skin follicle and frog tongue. This chick was going down. Star laughed with glee as she started the spell.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Alexandra watched out of the corner of her eye as a woman with dark hair wearing a Hawaiian shirt clomped her way down the aisle toward her. She couldn’t help but think that she resembled a bobble-head because of the way her head bounced with every step. Please walk past me, please walk past me, Alexandra chanted to herself while she attempted to look busy with straightening the tissue boxes on the shelf.

“Excuse me,” she heard the woman say.

“Damn,” Alexandra uttered quietly then turned around and found herself even more horrified by the woman in front of her who was staring at her from horrifically pink looking eyes. “Can I help you?” She asked.

“Yes, I’m looking for candles.”

“Aisle 3,” Alexandra instructed, “just next to the glow in the dark stars.” Alexandra breathed a sigh of relief as the woman walked away.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Gina kept her eyes fixed on the bobble-head on the desk. It appeared as though a child had carved it, as the features weren’t true to nature, nor the proportions of the limbs, but to the credit of the carver, it did look somewhat like a deer.

“That’s the family cat,” a low, gravely voice issued from the plump purple chair behind the desk. “The thing just won’t die, and my great-grand-son thought he’d try his hand at carving.”

Gina nodded, and her eyes flicked up to the High Wizard. She still wasn’t sure why she had been granted this audience. She was no star in any of her studies. She had no outstanding magical talents. She couldn’t make teacups appear out of thin air, or make a candle light with a wave of her hand. She was decent at potions, the mixing and brewing of herbs and essences, but that wasn’t real magic. It was more like cooking a soup than anything, the other professors said with their noses in the air.

“I’m sure you’re wondering why you’re here,” the High Wizard said, and Gina’s heartbeat tripled when she read every hidden, sinister thought she had ever had about failing and being expelled into the Wizard’s simple words.

“Yes, sir High Wizard sir,” she said, her voice squeaking. “I had been wondering that.”

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DALIA LANCE:

“What should I get him for Valentines Day?” She asked Marcus as they strolled through the shops coffee in hand.

“How long have you been dating?” Marcus asked “Like 5 minutes?” he continued without letting her answer the first question.

Chandra took a moment and then sighed “Well, I like him…” Marcus cut her off “You always “like” them… You always get them amazing gifts in the first few weeks of your relationship. They are the star in your night sky… the candle in the wind…”

“Stop quoting Elton John” She replied and her tone was less then pleased. Of course Marcus was right. When she was dating Mike she even got a bobble-head made of him in his hockey jersey.

She was about to say she wouldn’t make the same mistake but Marcus cut her off again “How about a card. You know a greeting card. One that says “Happy Valentines Day” or something boring and unoriginal like that”, She pondered for a moment and then he added “That doesn’t say I LOVE YOU. Again, you have known him for 5 minutes.”

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JM PAQUETTE:

Lily held the candle aloft, hoping she remembered the right words. He had said that the procedure would be easy, a small bit of flame, the tiny bobble-headed doll with the white scraps of fabric resembling her spacesuit, and all of it facing the third star on the left. She tried to keep a straight face as she recited the old rhyme, feeling foolish at the blend of children’s stories and voodoo magic, but the guardians of the system insisted that this would work, that having the elements in place was what made the incantation function properly. She had inquired about intent, since all the old tales said you had to believe it if  you wanted it to happen, but they disregarded her question, the series of lines and dots she received in response practically laughing at her for such  ridiculousness.

Well, that was fine for those back on the ship to mock her; they weren’t the ones standing on the deserted planet, all of those old powers still lingering from the Great Cataclysm. They weren’t the ones holding a candle, a freaking candle of all things, to invoke the forgiveness of the Old Ones. She knew she shouldn’t have signed up for the Academy. Her brother had told her not to, had cried at night, face a mask of terror as he told her about the nightmare vision he’d had of her fate.

You, he’d said, all alone, standing in the green field, holding a light to the gods, asking a simple question. Do you believe it? He’d asked her then. But maybe he wasn’t asking her at all.

Maybe she had been the one asking them.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“Should I really do it?” the man said, lighting the first of the ceremonial candles. “You know it will change everything, right?”

The bobble-head, a sports star with a little hat and bat, and jet black eyes nodded yes.

“Okay…but, does it have to be my wife?”

The bobble-head, in his little red and blue and white suit, with some logo on the lapel, nodded yes.

“Okay…I suppose so. I guess the Star God does demand the sacrifice be special. But…could I maybe use a gun, not a knife? Or does it have to be a knife?”

The bobble-head nodded yes, and he lite another candle.

“Okay, okay fine. I guess you do know the unforgettable one better than I do. But, still, why does it have to be a knife, does it have to be that because it is more brutal?”

The bobble-head, in its still only like ten-inch-tall form, nodded yes.

“Okay…okay. Fine. So… what happens after that? Do I get cosmic powers? Women? All of that?”

The bobble-head nodded in confirmation that that, indeed, was true.

“Should I eat her body, too?”

The bobble-head confirmed this with the usual socially appropriate head motion to show a positive response to a binary question.

“Okay, cool. Now, one last question. If I do this, if I kill her with all these candles, and make sure to plunge the knife right into her heart, will I still be able to go to heaven?”

The bobble-head, the tiny thing, with black eyes, shook its head no.

 

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A Good Game Was Ahead – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 1 February 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Lap
  • Oil
  • Token

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

Joe pushed his last token into the slot and listened to it clink its way down the machine. The familiar digital music of his favorite game came on and he grabbed the joystick with a calm joy. An oil spill image appeared on the screen and he pushed his foot onto the pedal revving the engine that he had yet to choose.

He started to play and already had the winning feeling that told him a good game was ahead. As he finished the third round triumphantly out of the corner of his eye his spotted a lovely gal wearing pink. She sat in one of the hard plastic chairs nearby and held a small dog on her lap.

Six more rounds later and he glanced at her. She smiled, small fangs overlapping her full lips. He paused, fear and desire rushing through his blood. The dying tone of his game pulled his attention away from her and when he looked back she was gone.

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ANNE CARGILE

“You were supposed to have brought the token,” Henry whined.

“I forgot – I’m sorry! My mom sent me to the store to buy a bottle of cooking oil, and then I was running late and I didn’t want to miss it,” Joe told his friend.

“Well, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to get in now, the token was so we’d get special seats.”

The two boys were lingering near the tent entrance, but still far enough back that the ticket taker wouldn’t see them.

“Maybe we can sneak to a better seat when we get inside?” Joe suggested.

With that settled the two put on their most grown up faces and walked up, gave their tickets and, pretending indifference, they made their way in and down the rows of seats. Two seats near the front were open and they quickly grabbed them, trying to act as if they belonged.

The lights at the center of the tent were dimmed, making it difficult to see. Joe gave a little screech when a cat jumped onto his lap out of nowhere.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Griff looked at the golden token in his hand. It was heavy with ridged edges and he carefully placed it in the slot of the machine in front of him. He heard the clinking sound as it slid into the depths of the metal body and waited with bated breath for the screen to turn on. An image of an oil lamp glowed on the screen. His palms began to sweat and he wiped them on his lap before taking hold of the controls, but an electric shock shot up his arms causing him to drop them. The screen fizzled out as the machine moved to the side revealing a doorway behind it.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Jimmy paid his token, and waited nervously for the hooded figure to examine it, then wave him onto the boat. Jimmy gave a nod of thanks to the imposing figure, though he didn’t know if it could see him from under the rotting black hood.

The boat wobbled when Jimmy stepped onto it, and for a moment he teetered, afraid he was going to fall into the dark, oily water lapping the sides, but someone grabbed his arm and pulled him to safety. Jimmy breathed a sigh of relief, and looked to see who had rescued him.

It was a young woman, cradling a baby in her lap. She smiled at him, and Jimmy swallowed a scream of fright, because that would’ve been impolite. Her flesh was grey and rotting, and most of her teeth were gone. Scabs and running sores that had yet to scab mottled what little of her skin remained. The baby was much the same.

Jimmy swallowed, smiled back, and thanked the gods that the seats beside her were taken. On one side was a man with a stump of a neck still weeping blood, his head held carefully under his arm. On the other was a man blue and bloated, a tendril of seaweed hanging out of his nose. The drowned man nodded to Jimmy as he walked by, and Jimmy averted his eyes.

He tried not to look at anyone directly, so he wouldn’t have to smile or say anything. He found a seat at the back of the boat, and sat, adjusting himself so the spear in his side didn’t twist further in.

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ERIKA LANCE:

The oil lamp was not shedding as much light as he had hoped and the smell was so nauseating that he felt he would not last the duration. This investigation was not what he had signed up for.

The house or more correctly the basement of the house he stood in was also damp and cold, however the mildew smell was not at all close to over powering the smell of rotting flesh. It appeared as if there were over thirty victims. Maybe more. It was hard to tell with all the missing pieces. It was thought an animal may have carried them away but he knew that they were most likely kept as tokens. A prize for whatever monster had done this.

The house was so rural that there was no electricity. In fact the house was built of stones and had probably been standing since the 1800’s. There was no furniture upstairs in any of the rooms. When he had made is lap of the premise he realized that this place would have remained hidden if it had not been stumbled upon by hikers.

Before he continued his review of the bodies it occurred to him the killer most likely didn’t know he had been found, which meant whomever it was could be caught… A plan began to form.

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JM PAQUETTE:

“What is that?” Sheila asked, running a finger through the substance on the table, rubbing her fingers together, and quickly bringing the mysterious mess up to her face. “It feels like oil–”

“Don’t–” Rob tried to warn her, tried to stop her before the stuff got too close to her face, but he was too late. Before he could even speak, nevermind lunge in her general direction, the goop had done its work, sliding effortlessly off her fingers and gliding across the empty space between her hand and her face, disappearing into the open portals of eyes, nose, and mouth.

Sheila stopped, blinking hard, sniffed once, then licked her lips. She seemed to pause, frozen in time, and for a second, Robert could hope he had imagined it, that she hadn’t just done that. Honestly, who walks into the head wizard’s laboratory and just starts sniffing things? The last person who had even looked inside while he was working had been turned into a lap dog. Poor fellow was still curled up on the chair behind his desk, waiting for him to work out the antidote.

Robert held his breath, knowing what would happen next. Sheila looked up at him, eyes glazing over in the telltale expression.

Oh no. Not again.

“My liege,” she whispered, falling to her knees before him. “How can I serve you?”

Robert thought of all the times he’d wanted to ring Sheila’s aristocratic neck. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

“Please,” she begged, hands running up his legs. “Let me give you a small token of my deepest appreciation.”

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BRANDON SCOTT

Sitting on his lap was a cat, a fur-ball made of ginger fluff and beady, beady eyes. He stared up at the man, as the lamp burned away brightly, using up the oil. The thing offered little warmth though, and he shivered.

In the man’s hands was a token. A thin circle of metal. Golden and engraved with the face of some old god. He tested its durability, trying to bend the metal into something else.

It resisted this, though, and he turned it over and over in his hands.

“Huh, weird,” the man said, and the room grew colder.

He’d found it at the bottom of a well, of all places. And had no idea why it had been there.

With another bit of fiddling, the paint on it came off in a little flake. Revealing a green shimmering undercoat. He touched that part as well, and bolted in his seat.

That sensation was not normal, he decided, and he sat there in now more concerned staring silence. The cat on his lap purred loud. The noise thrumming through the walls and the floor.

And for second, the eyes of the cat glowed green. But the man did not notice. But he did notice the lantern blink out, and plunge the room into the cold.

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