Tag Archives: Author Erika Lance

That One’s Marked – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 18 October 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Marked 

  • Butterscotch 

  • Grime 

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

Sully licked the butterscotch from his fingers and sat heavily into the stool. He looked over the small pub and smiled, his missing teeth making Fitch, who was standing nearby, flinch. The room was covered in grime and old beer but the night had been a good one and even the grime couldn’t keep Sully from his joy. He tossed a copper to Fitch who barely caught it.

“Get some’in to clean it, eh?” he said. Fitch nodded and pocketed the coin.

“What about ‘em?” Fitch pointed toward the far corner.

Sully’s lip curled down and he frowned. “That one’s marked, he is. I don’t know if’n we should leave ‘m there or kick him out.” He jingled the coins in his pocket. “Feeling lucky today. Let’s leave him to dry out, yeh?”

Fitch nodded and patted Sully on the shoulder before heading to the stairs toward his room.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“Who are you?” Tim stammered, clutching the turkey to his breast as if it would protect him.

The second man smiled wider. “My name is Toppam.” The man bowed and touched his hat.

Tim started. No one had ever bowed to him.

“And who do I have the pleasure of addressing?” The man had a pleasant smell reminiscent of butterscotch hanging around him, and his fine clothes seemed to repel the grime of the dirty alley they were standing in.

“My name is Tim. Tim Calloway,” Tim nodded, and raised his hand to his forehead though he had no hat to tip.

“Mr. Calloway, it is an honor to make your acquaintance,” Toppam said. “Would you walk with me this evening?”

Tim didn’t think he had a choice, so he nodded and fell into step beside the tall, sinister man.

“You are probably wondering why I came to seek you out,” Toppam continued in the same dignified voice that hinted at a private joke.

Tim nodded. “Yes, Mr. Toppam, sir, the thought has crossed my mind.”

“No, it’s just Toppam,” the man corrected, flashing pointed teeth again. “And it is a simple enough answer Mr. Calloway. You’re a marked man, sir, a man marked for greatness, if you would only allow me to assist you in that endeavor.”

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ERIKA LANCE:

“I don’t think that is butterscotch” she said as she pointed to the grime on the cookies.  

 

“What do you mean?” He replied. 

 

“Well, for one, it is green.” She said, and when he seemed unconvinced she continued “and then there is the smell.” 

 

She realized then, although first mistaking him for human he had none of the senses.  

 

“Why were you marked?’ She asked as she dumped the tray of cookies covered in green slime into the trash. 

 

At first she could she he was going to be defensive. Then before he uttered a word his head dropped, no longer meeting her graze and said “Twice. This year and the last.” 

 

She felt some pity for him. When a fay lost their senses, sight, smell, hearing, they became more and more human losing any identifier of their race. 

 

“What did you do?” She asked. 

 

“I fell in love and then wouldn’t give up on her” he replied. 

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Axton wiped the grime from his brow and then popped another butterscotch morsel into his thin-lipped mouth. He’d been trapped in the tomb for at least a day, he calculated, based on the remaining number of morsels in his bag of candy. Axton had followed the instructions marked on the worn map he’d found on a dig in Giza. It had promised the riches of one of the wealthiest dynasties of Egypt, but so far, he was met with nothing but death. The natives had warned him of the curse, he didn’t listen and now he was in serious trouble.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“Uh, no, well, I would not appreciate it,” Henry replied, and took a step away as it waddled toward him, still disturbingly glistening and now somewhat tainted by the floor’s grime.

“Oh, well, hypocrisy and a butcher then,” the bird said, his voice taking on a grim tone. “We can’t have that. Perhaps I teach you how we serve humans on Bird’s-Giving then.”

“You made that up,” Henry commented, stalling for time. He looked for some sort of weapon—but it was dead already, so he had no idea what would help.

“I did. Yes.” The turkey made the inside of its hollow neck produce a sucking sound. “But, then, since I did, I get to decide the traditions. How about you are drowned in butterscotch, or lit on fire with brandy. How about I stuff you with cactuses?”

Henry did not like the sound of any of that. A deep sense of confusion was also making the whole thing odder. How had he gone from a cook making his soon-to-arrive family a meal to a marked man fighting a demon turkey?

“Gobble, gobble,” the creature said, his voice slow and menacing. With one leap, he flew into the air—not actually flying, his wings were plucked—and slammed into the face of poor Henry.

Henry let out a shout but still managed to grab the demon by its leg, and hang it upside down. The bird suddenly, and comically, had no real way to deal with this.

“Oh,” Henry muttered. “Right.”

Strength or no strength. It was still tiny.

“I guess you’re not done cooking yet,” Henry said. “I guess some more time in the oven might be in order.”
Noooo!!!!” the turkey roared.

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I Warned You – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 18 October 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Turkey
  • Narrow
  • Messy

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Jordan narrowed his brown eyes as he stared down at the messy wooden table. “Not again,” he muttered as he watched a turkey with green and red tail feathers peck at the food. “Max,” he said in a scolding manner, “how many times have I warned you about using my wand?” The turkey looked up at him with human green eyes. It was a bit disconcerting to see those eyes in a turkey’s body, but Jordan shook off the eerie feeling as he went about looking for his wand. He was walking about the table trying to dodge over-turned dishes and chairs when he heard a crunch. Jordan swallowed hard as he gingerly stepped back to reveal his wand lying on the floor in two pieces. He caught Max’s gaze, who human eyes now held a worried look.

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LISA BARRY:

As I skimmed down the narrow alley trying to be as quiet as possible I thought about the coming events. A duel. I’d never been in a duel before. I was fast, sure, but I’d never needed to really know how fast. I always thought I would eventually be in a duel but not for something like this. I ran into a gentleman. Completely by accident. Messy business that. Not in a million years would I be so foolish as to do something like that on purpose. I gnawed the last bite of my turkey leg and carefully placed it on the ground at the end of the alley. I looked around the corner hoping… but there he was. With an entourage too. I pushed my shoulders back and, head high and walked toward them. As I passed the first man I was taken aback as I was flung to the ground, my knees hitting hard. I bit back tears, pulled in a breath and stood. Then I realized my hat had been dislodged. It toppled to the ground. My heavy long mane spilled out and a hush took over the crowd.

He is a girl,” someone declared. I cringed.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

He walked down the narrow alley, the dead turkey swinging at his side. They would eat well tonight, better than they had all winter. The dead bird was scrawny, and had not been plucked, so it would be a messy preparation, but still his mouth watered at the thought of hot, roast meat. His stomach gave an answering grumble. Shadows moving behind him pulled him from his lovely fantasy, and he groped for the rusty knife in his belt. He turned to look, but the alley was empty. After a moment spent searching the darkness, he convinced himself that he had been imagining things. He shrugged and turned to continue home. He ran into the tall man standing in front of him, swinging the silver topped cane with a smile that bared pointed teeth.

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ERIKA LANCE:

This was going to be a complete disaster. 

 

Monica looked out at the motion that was her living-room; parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren all crammed into a tiny space. All were waiting to gorge themselves on more food than they ever needed to eat in one meal. 

 

She looked back in the kitchen to the messy island that the now thoroughly burnt turkey was sitting on. Monica weighed her options. 

 

On the one hand she may be able to come up with an excuse and a horrific story that involved a narrow escape of some life-threatening incident that caused the further demise of the afore mentioned turkey. Or possibly she should use option B. 

 
As she watched grandma Ethel pull out her dentures to show Mikey, Monica’s seven-year-old nephew who immediately went screaming towards his mother who was engaged in a conversation with her sister’s husband that looked way to flirty for a family event she made her choice. 

 

She turned, removed her apron, grabbed her coat and left through the back. 

 

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BRANDON SCOTT

The table could be called several adjectives, each more extreme than the last. But, for the sake of avoiding rude language, Kevin went with the simple go-to of “messy.” Smeared in gravy, doused in tiny pieces of bread, and containing a long trail of yams and cranberry sauce like some massive snail had gone through the area.

All of this paled though, from the thing standing on the table, on its’ hind legs, wielding a carving knife with supreme hostility.

“You…you butcher!” the thing cried, and Henry flinched. Not because he was insulted—he was a literal butcher, after all, that was kind of the whole reason the creature was here actually—but because he could not fathom how or why a headless turkey would be able to talk to him.

It glistened underneath the lights, the golden-brown skin of a perfect roast only increasing the surrealist nature of the proceedings.

“Um…I’m sorry?”

“Sorry!?” shrieked the bird, and Henry flinched again as a knife missed by a narrow margin his ear. He glanced back as the implement stuck out of the wall, still vibrating.

So, the bird was super strong, too. Great.

“I am very sorry?” Henry ventured. “I did not…well, it’s Thanksgiving and all. It’s the custom?”

“And you expect me to care?” the fowl said and jumped down off the table. “I suppose, then, if it were the right holiday, it would be okay to cook and eat you?”

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It’s a Bug! – an ISG Writing Exercise

On October 4th, these three words were chosen:

  • Busy
  • Crisis
  • Bug

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

“Stop it” he said as he watched his little sister flail around the room. 

“It’s a bug… It’s a bug…. AAAAHHHHH” she was screaming. 

He stifled a laugh, she would not be happy in her moment of crisis if he was chuckling at her expense. 

There had to be a tactic to getting her to stop running, so if she was in fact being plagued by an insect he should be able to remove this creature and rid himself of the noise she was making. 

He had been busy reading up on Poe for his literature class final, which was sure to be loved by every emo girl in his class when the ruckus had started. 

“Hold still” he said grabbing her arm as gently as he could.  

She mostly stopped and looked up at him and that is when he saw it. A huge centipede looking creature that was presently burrowing into his sister’s neck.  

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LISA BARRY:

I calmly watched the huge bug make its way from the tree branch to the window. It was pretty cool to see it’s underside and the stinger from this angle. My sister flew past me from the bathroom to the closet. I continued to watch the bug. It stung a good-sized ant and proceeded to bite its head off.

“Where is my yellow top?” Blair half yelled, half cried from the closet.

I thought about becoming a scientist. This shit was pretty interesting.

Blaire stuck her head out of the door, face red. “Since you’re so busy, how about helping me!”

“What is your crisis?” I asked, back to watching the bug devour the ants middle section.

“This is important! I have a business meeting and then lunch with Dave!”

I looked at her. Really looked at her as she tore up the closet. Dave was mine. I rose from the window bench and walked in. She stopped still and looked at me, backing up a step or two.

“Not the Dave you’re thinking of…” she whispered and dropped her eyes.

I backed up.

“Good, next time use a last name.”

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Just when she thought things couldn’t get any worse, the bug showed up. It was a hideous things with too many legs, mandibles that clicked with a hungry sort of questioning repetition, and glossy wings that rustled against its back. It was also the size of a cat. Kella had been busy trying to avert the crisis brewing in her cauldron, but now she was on the table, her heart hammering in her chest as she watched the monstrosity crawl through her kitchen, praying to the gods that it couldn’t climb the furniture.
Out of the corner of her eye, the witch noticed the purple froth begin to flow more energetically over the rim of her cauldron, pooling on the the kitchen floor like luminescent fog in the wee hours of the morning. The flames spluttered, but clung stubbornly to life, which made the purple mist pour out faster and faster, and soon the floor disappeared under it. Kella could still tell where the giant insect was, by the way the mist moved, and the pair of antennae that hovered above the blanket of mist, but then even those were hidden.

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

I was wrapping up the quarterly report when Jenny walked up, and I didn’t look up from my screen, instead opening the next set of spreadsheets and starting my review.

“Hey, Jenna.”

“Hey, Jenny. What’s up?” I was too busy for this. But, in typical Jenny style, she thought having nearly matching names meant we were destined to be besties. And she couldn’t see me busy without walking over to air whatever minor melodrama was occurring in her life at that moment. And since she was my boss’ personal assistant and most-favored plaything, I had to humor her, no matter how much she bugged me.

“So, my friend’s cat’s funeral is tomorrow, and I need to know if I can borrow your car in the morning to get there, since mine is being used by a friend of Mr. Jenkins. He asked me especially last night.” She beamed, as though a boss requesting inappropriate personal favors in off hours was a good thing.

“You got a morning off for a cat funeral?”

“Um, no I got the whole day off, silly. It’s in Topeka, and I’ll have to drive four hours there and four hours back, and then maybe I’ll need to sleep in the day after because that’s exhausting, right? You’d really be doing me a solid.”

“This isn’t really a crisis, Jenny. Can you borrow someone else’s? I need my car. You know, to go to work and stuff.”

She pouted. “Mr Jenkins said you’d be a sport.”

Damn. My boss assuming inappropriate things again. I finished working the spreadsheets and opened the next project.

“Okay, sure, but make sure he knows I won’t be here tomorrow or the day after, since you have my transport. You can get that approved, right?” She frowned, but sighed and flounced away.

Jenny, the walking drama. My fingers flew as I wrapped up the project notes. I knew just what I was going to do with my two days home.

www.DesisTwoCents.com

ALANNA J. RUBIN

Jared simultaneously wiped the sweat from his brow and shooed a bug away. He always felt tense when planting explosives due to the thought that one wrong move, and “boom”! He pushed the thought from his mind as he busily added the fuses. He wished he could be as calm at Thomas, who was standing guard at the doorway to the vault, not a hint of worry on his face. Nothing seemed to bother him. He was the perfect person to be on a mission with. No crisis seemed to ruffle his feathers.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“Son, I am having a crisis,” came over the phone, and Charley hopped into action without a thought. His phone dropped on the ground and his feet flew along the hardwood floor. Out he went from his house, stopping briefly to see the busy street in front of him.

“Crap,” he muttered, before taking out his keys like one might pull out a switchblade, and stabbing the lock, then the ignition. The car seemed to be in on the excitement because it roared with him as they both screamed down the road.

Or, rather, moved up to fifty, then back to ten at the nearest light. The traffic atrocious. His eyes bulged out of his head from the sudden stress of it, and then he decided.

This decision managed to upheave a large amount of the day for several thousand people and made him a more hated man than some political figures, but he did it anyway.

He got out of the car. Just leaving it sitting there. Several horns blared at this, but track team had been good to him in his youth and he was already about thirty feet from his vehicle.

Several people, close to a hundred, stopped what they were doing and looked at him as he sailed across the ground. His mouth hanging open and air spilling forth from his urgent lungs.

A final shuddering turn got him in front of the house. The final dash sent the flowers in their pots swaying.

Charley did not bother to knock. Instead, finding the hidden key under the doormat and opening the door with a bang.

His mother opened her eyes wide as he stood there. She stood, frozen, with a fly swatter in her hand.

“What’s the crisis?” Charley demanded, practically shouting.

“A… bug,” his mother replied, her eyes still wide.

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We Needed a Distraction – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 20 September 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Popcorn
  • Fox
  • Hustle

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The queen sat on the makeshift throne, the silver cape lined in fox fur thrown over the stump. Her face was rigid, and her eyes were cool as she gazed out at the motley assortment of woodland folk in front of her.

“What is the meaning of this?” she demanded, her voice as regal as her expression.

The gathered creatures shuffled and looked at the others on either side of them, hoping someone would step up and take charge. No one did. “I do not have all day,” the queen said, her voice hardening further.

“Tell me what is the meaning of this?” She threw her arm out and pointed at the mounds of fluffy white material that covered the fields for as far as the eye could see.

A small fairy with blue wings stepped forward, bowed hastily, and then again as if this would buy him time.

“Well, your majesty, you see, it went like this,” he began, and then coughed nervously.

“They stole it from us first!” an angry voice shouted from the back, and a chorus of agreement sounded out.

It disappeared immediately when the queen raised her hand. “You’ll have to start at the beginning.”

“Those humans stole our magic jewels,” the blue fairy said in a bolder tone, now empowered by his fellows. “We just wanted to get them back. So we came up with this idea, for a hustle, you might call it.”

“That doesn’t explain why the farmer’s crop is now popcorn,” the queen said.

“We needed a distraction,” the little fairy told her, and glanced at the red dragon at the other end of the group. “Ember flew overhead and set the field on fire. We thought it was just going to burn, we didn’t think it would do that.”

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LISA BARRY:

“You’d better hustle, doll, the show starts soon.”

I glanced at my watch and panicked. Why is he always right? My roommate lounged carelessly on the oversized couch skipping through channels while I tore around the apartment to find the ticket. The stupid ticket that made my blood absolutely boil. Whose parents have a Harry Potter wedding and require you bring your invitation? Seriously. I love my mom but this is just weird. I glanced at the image of a fox on a chest and stopped. I opened the small box and sure enough, my ticket, invite whatever, was nestled inside.

“Can you stop for popcorn on the way home,” my roommate asked. Before I could tell him there was some in the pantry, he coughed out, “I ate the other bag already.”

That had been mine. Typical. “Hustle, doll.” He commented and I grabbed my bag. After today, I was finding a new roommate. As I drove a little too fast, I prayed that my Hermione outfit didn’t look too ridiculous and that whoever my parents had gotten to be Ron would be hot so I could at least have something tasty to hang on to as I walked down the aisle.

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ERIKA LANCE:

“God you’re a fox!” The guy said and then whistled. What year are we in? She thought as she continued to move through the crowd. Trying to add a little more hustle in her step lest that fine specimen of a man think she was interested. 

 

She began covering the movie premiers because of the free popcorn combined with her delight in watching celebrities watch themselves on the screen. 

 
Regardless of what they said in interviews, watching their reactions to their own acting or their co-stars on screen spoke volumes. 

 

I mean when your leading man makes a cringing discussed face during a kissing scene, he most likely didn’t enjoy his co-stars abilities. 

 

She grabbed her popcorn from the stand and made her way into the theater finding the perfect vantage point for this little thriller. 

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DESIREE MATLOCK:

I’d had to hustle to make it to the audition on time, and yet here I’d been, waiting for two hours with a dozen other women who could fit the bill for a “foxy older woman” that the casting call needed, while the casting agent took his time. He was probably not even working. He was probably doing lines of coke off one of the girls from yesterday’s casting call for “fresh-faced nouveau”, the one my agent had bluntly told me there was no way I could still pull off.

I rearranged myself in the pleather seat, uncomfortably stuck at the thighs to this hideous hollywood chair. Like most things in this damn town, the chair was all about how it looked, damn the comfort.

A beautiful young thing that I could have played ten years ago sat behind the reception desk and tapped a pen against her manicured nails in a rhythm waiting to be told which of us to send in next.

The fresh-faced idiot behind the desk picked up a phone and then called out, “Joyce Weathers?” At least this meant they were actually doing the auditions now.

The leggy woman sitting next to me stood, pulled her mini skirt down, and went into the room. Was she prettier than me? I sighed deeply and tried to give myself a pep talk while I stared up at the popcorn ceiling. But all I could think about was that all of these casting companies must use the same construction crews. If it isn’t fiberboard tile ceilings, it’s slightly sparkly popcorn ceilings, as though sparkles change how drab a low ceiling makes an office building. I tilted my head side to side to watch the sparkled on the ceiling, and to kill time.

Fuck this, I thought, ready to stand and leave. Just then, a greek god sat next to me. “Are you Denise?” the god said.

“Why, yes.” I jolted upright but was too stunned to say more. Or to pull out my headshot, as I’d trained myself to do.

He smiled, “Ah. I’m Stephano Morphopolous, the director. Let’s skip all this. You know, I saw you in “Vesper Court”. Dear god, no one had seen that historical drama, my best work. A total dud at the box office, though. No one except this guy, apparently. “I’ve got the perfect part for you.”

I must have looked startled because he laughed. “Come.” I peeled myself from the pleather and followed him, curious.

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JM PAQUETTE:

Seth put the popcorn in his mouth slowly, face uncertain as he considered the new flavor. She watched the curiosity morph into delight as he began to chew. “This is marvelous!” he exclaimed, a wide grin crossing his face as he grabbed another handful.

“I’m glad you like it,” she told him, glad as always that he was so accepting of this world, so excited about every new thing he saw or heard. Last week, he had grabbed her hand when she got home and showed her the new dance he learned from the television. “I think it’s called The Hustle,” he had said, swinging her this way and that as he moved his feet. Seth could adapt anywhere. It was why she loved him. That and the certain way he had of looking at her when he thought she wasn’t watching, that sly fox gaze that still made her stomach tighten and her legs giddy.

“Where does it come from?” he asked before shoveling another handful of glistening pieces into his mouth.

“It’s corn heated up,” she explained. “It bursts with the heat. Then we add butter and salt.”

He finished chewing and reached for another handful. “And the peddlers sell it in these special bags for the micker wave?”

She nodded, loving the way her words came out of his mouth. He had spent the first two days heating things up in the microwave, delighted at the ease with which food was made ready. “If you’d spent your life waiting for water to boil or a fire to kindle,” he had told her grinning face, “you’d do the same thing.” When she had laughed at him, he reminded her of her reaction to the first magic spell she’d seen. “You nearly fell right over,” he told her.

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Maryn wandered the lush green grass letting her sense of smell lead the way. Her master had ordered her to hustle, but what did humans know. They didn’t understand what is was like to be a fox and the sense of freedom the outdoors held. It had been years since the human had placed Maryn into servitude and she cursed every day for breaking into the human’s house lured in by the smell of popcorn. The human had caught her in the middle of her snack and promptly cast a spell that bound her to him. Foxes were considered good luck in the Village of Castille, but Maryn was going to do her best to change that starting today.

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Hold Your Tongue, Woman! – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 20 September 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Hate
  • Dissension
  • Leather

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

DESIREE MATLOCK:

The ship creaked, and she nearly tipped off his lap, already teetering toward the floor before the ship hit a sweel. She could not believe it had led to this, to being thrown over his knee as she was in his quarters. He held her firmly against his leg as she struggled uselessly. She knew it was coming, but it still filled her with fresh hot hate when the leather strop slapped her behind. It stung more than she’d like as it hit, but she bit her tongue to keep from crying out.

“Hold your tongue, woman, and take your punishment honorably, or I’ll tan your hide again.”

“I did nothing wrong!” She protested. Another smack of leather spoke otherwise.

His eyes widened in disbelief at her words. “Nothing wrong? Nothing? First, you pretend to be a man for three weeks, pretend to be “Ben”, my first mate, no less, and then second, you Ninny, you sass me in front of the crew at shift change. I won’t have you creating dissension on top of all the superstition! A woman on board!” he yelled once more, and threw the strap at her, stood and walked away, letting her fall to the floor.” He looked momentarily guilty and she took advantage, arguing her case.

“So what I’m a woman? So. What? You would have let ‘Ben’ dress you down. You would have let me help you argue out your plans. It was working for us, for the whole crew! We were a great team. Does it have to be so different now?” She stood quickly, and smoothed the skirts the crew had found for her.

“Damn ye, you’ve got a sharp tongue on you.” His eyes softened, but he still looked cross, “I need Ben here, and not this shrew you’ve turned into.”

“I’m no shrew, no ninny and I’m right here!” She stood in her usual way, boldly, without feminine artifice. “If you need to argue out your plans, call me Ben or Jim or Saint Thomas for all I care. I’ll still find the way forward with you.”

He sighed deeply and sat. He glowered for a moment, then a sly grin creased his tanned face, and he nodded toward the door out to the deck. “You know what they think we’re up to right now?”

So what if they are? she thought to herself, while huffing. Out loud she said, “So what’s the plan?”

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LISA BARRY:

Cara looked around the warehouse in awe. When she was captured three days ago, this was not at all what she expected the rebellious crew of Lord Hate to look like. His was known for his hate, his torturous guards and most of all, his lack of mercy. But this? This was a den of leather covered men, happily playing poker, eating together and drinking something that smelled of honey and beer. Cara waited for the joke to end. Waited for the dissension, the leers toward her, the spitting, the…the other things she was too afraid to name. But these men, they laughed. They barely gave her a glance as she was led through the center of the busy room. At the end, more leather clad men were sharpening swords while they sang an odd but catchy tune. When the reached the other side, she was brought into make-shift kitchen where two young elves were busy doing food preparation.

“Shile,” the guard leading her called. One of the elves stopped and her purple eyes met his with a smile.

“Here’s some more help for you.” Shile gazed at Cara and nodded.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

“And what’s this?” Heather asked, pulling a bottle filled with black mist from the shelf. A red cork stopper kept the mist from escaping, but it still looked like it was pushing and fighting to get out.

“Hate,” the wizard said, and snatched the bottle from her. “Don’t touch anything.”

Heather crossed her arms, head turning right and left as she followed the irritable man through his lair. So many interesting things sat on the shelves, bones, and feathers, golden orbs, and fanged creatures floating in green liquid.

“Right,” the wizards snapped, and Heather looked forward.

They stood in front of a huge bookshelf. It towered over their heads, and disappeared in the dark gloom above them. Heather didn’t think she could read all the books on the shelves if she had three lifetimes. The books were all shapes and sizes, and piled haphazardly, like soldiers in the throes of dissension, no rhyme or reason to their placement, at least that Heather could see. Her hand reached out, fingers bushing the soft leather, but the wizard knocked her arm down.

“Didn’t I tell you not to touch anything?” he grumbled, then waved his hand and summoned a ladder which flew to him. “Wait here. I shan’t be gone long.”

He rapidly ascended the rungs, and was soon lost from sight far above her, and Heather was left alone with the books.

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ERIKA LANCE:

I don’t believe this could possibly be happening to me now she thought standing in the skin-tight leather outfit, bullwhip in hand. 

 

Mia peeked through the curtain again and sure enough her parents were sitting in the third row. She hated Chris right now. Come do an art show he said, you will be wearing a mask, no one will see you.  

 

As her anger level rose, so did her sweating. This was leading to a clingier feeling in these tight clothes.  

 

“Are you ready?” She heard a voice say behind her. Thinking it was Chris she turned around with such venom in her eyes that Tommy, not Chris actually jumped back from her. She liked Tommy, a lot, he was her favorite “cat” to tame during the show. 

 

Before she could even form the words to apologize, Chris walked up and looking between the two of them asked “Dissension between the kitty and his master?”  

 

Then her claws came out. 

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JM PAQUETTE:

“You know I hate it when you do that,” she snapped, the anger in her tone unmistakeable even as she tried to hide it. She grabbed the whip from her husband, smacking the leather loudly against her palm. “If you’re going to beat me with this, you’d better do it properly.”
“Oh my,” her husband tutted, “dissension in the ranks, and I’ve barely begun.”
She glared across the bed at him, whip tapping out a steady rhythm against her hand. “I just don’t want you to start something you can’t finish.”
He looked offended and snatched the whip from her hand, a stern look entering his eyes. “Look here babygirl,” he told her. “There is nothing I can’t finish.”
“Oh yeah?” she asked, a teasing tone entering her voice now as she turned to face him where he stood next to the bed. “You going to do this right?”
“You know it,” he whispered in what he no doubt thought was a sexy voice.
She frowned. “Nope. It’s just not working for me.” She crossed her arms across her chest, shaking her head slowly, long hair sliding this way and that across her back. “I don’t believe you.”
“Why not?” There was true concern in his voice now. He really was trying to do this right for her.
She gestured at the whip held loosely in his left hand. “Seriously?” she asked. “You barely know how to hold that thing.” She reached for it again, hopping to her feet as she did so. She pointed at the bed.
“Your turn,” she told him.
“What?”
“I’m going to show you how to use this thing,” she announced. When he seemed to hesitate, so put on her most stern voice, the one that made the nurses on the ward jump to attention. “Get. On. The. Bed.”

 

 

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

Gabriel held the black leather-bound book in his hands. Within its pages contained incantations laced with centuries of hate and dissension. To open it, was forbidden, but the current situation was dire and any means to stop Lord Dracon from enslaving the world, was worth the risk. The sun began to set, casting the sky with an ominous red glow. “It’s time,” Gabriel whispered into the air while opening the book.

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Shot or Stabbed? – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 6 September 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Blue
  • Arrow
  • Pot

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ERIKA LANCE:

The arrow was sticking out of his chest at a weird angle. 

“Were you shot or stabbed?” She asked him. 

He looked at her, his lips were starting to turn blue, she assumed due to the collapsed lung from the wound in his chest.  

After a moment she realized he wasn’t going to respond. She shrugged and walked back towards the shelf. 

“I am going to try to pull the arrow out” she said. When fear flashed in his eyes she added a smile. The fear on his face turned to terror and he tried a move which only caused him to wince and almost fall over. 

Oh yes, she thought, her mother told her not to smile as it was terrifying to humans. 

She grabbed the pot off the shelf and a rag off the table and moved back to the man now slumped against the wall. He probably wouldn’t survive this, but she didn’t need him too. Placing the pot just below the wound she pulled the arrow out and let the blood begin to pool. 

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LISA BARRY:

I looked at his blue shirt and felt like I had seen that exact shirt on someone else recently. It didn’t come to me quickly so I shrugged the thought away and instead admired the muscled arms that filled in that tee. He was dark haired with light sparkling eyes. A small arrow was tattooed on his left forearm. He was hot. I looked around the rest of the room so it wouldn’t seem like I was staring. The other witches and warlocks were at their stations. Some of them were sorting through bones, others were stirring their huge cast iron pots. One of them was chasing a live frog around the warehouse. That normally would have had me in hysterics but today, I simply could not keep my eyes from the blue-shirted warlock who was leafing through a tome, probably his family grimoire, and smiling as he chatted amiably with a young boy who was alphabetizing small bottles of ingredients. It was the local annual brew off and apparently, we had a newbie joining us this year. I had won 3 out of the last 5 years, only beaten by my dad once and my cousin Sam the other. I was happy to set up shop next to the hottie.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

She hovered over the smoking pot, wringing her hands, frowning, and generally looking worried. “Is it supposed to be that color?” she asked, her eyes trailing up the thick swirls of blue. “No, we’re looking for more of a purple hue,” William told her in his best wise voice, and hid a smile when she started pacing twice as fast.

Her face was pale, and sweat beaded on her forehead, and then he noticed the unusual glow in her eye.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

She turned to him, and shook her head. He leaned forward and looking more closely, he saw the signs that he should never have missed. The arrow was nocked before she could blink, and she gazed at the weapon with something between terror and rage.

“Who are you?” he demanded, he hand unwavering. Though he knew the face, he was no longer certain what lay behind it. “What have you come here for?”

“What I told you,” she said, a plaintive ring to her voice. “I have to undo what they did.” “You told me they cast a curse on your village, and that you had to go back and save everyone,” he reminded her, in case she had forgotten her own sorry story. “You said everyone in the village was under this horrible spell.”

“That’s true,” she nodded, and she swallowed before she continued in a soft voice. “I did not mention that I was the only one in the village. Everyone else was dead.”

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JM PAQUETTE:

“Are you sure this is what it says?” Jeremiah asked, hand hovering just over the pot of boiling water, the smoke rising in multicolor swirls around the blue arrow poised on top.

“It’s true. You’ll see,” Jess encouraged him. “Just lay the wood across the top of the pot. It will stop boiling over.”

Jeremiah gingerly placed the magical artifact across the top of the pot, the tip of the arrow resting comfortably over the side, the fletching on the end only just touching the edge of the bubbles.

As soon as the arrow touched the pot, the water inside stopped bubbling furiously, the white foam and colorful mist dissipating. “See!” Jess told her lab partner. “I told you it would work. It says so in this ancient text.”

“What is that you’re even using?” Jeremiah asked, eyes never straying from the caudron. It had stopped boiling, but there was an ominous pause, as if the magic was waiting for something.

“It’s something I found in the basement,” Jess said casually, flipping the book closed so he could read the cover. Jeremiah read the title.

500 Life Hacks for the Fledgling Wizard.” He paused. “What’s a life hack?”

“I’m not sure,” Jess admitted. “It was with a bunch of other books with strange titles like 15 Ways to know if he’s the one and Become a millionaire overnight. They were really old books.”

The cauldron made an ominous sound as the bubbles reappeared, this time overwhelming the arrow in a cloud of steam. There was a horrific boom.

“I don’t think this life hack actually works…” Jeremiah observed.

 

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Jealous – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 6 September 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Cookie 

  • Popcorn 

  • Joker 

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

LISA BARRY:

“You’re such a joker,” I said as I tossed a handful of popcorn into my mouth and shoved a hip into my ex-boyfriend’s side. He really was a funny guy and a good friend. Unfortunately, he was a crappy boyfriend. So, two boyfriends since him, here we were at the school dance together, but not.  Jack had a handful of cookies and was tossing them in his mouth, one after the other, crumbs spewing as he said, “No, I’m serious.”

I stopped making my way to the nearest empty table and turned to look him full on in the face. There was no glint in his eye, or twitch near the corner of his mouth.

“You’re for real?” I asked. He nodded and swallowed. We continued to the table where he scooped up a napkin and wiped his face. I looked at his dimple as he smiled at me. Took in his bright blue eyes and shock of blond hair. I felt… I, well. Over his shoulder I saw her. Tall, voluptuous Tina Spade. And she was coming toward us.

I felt jealous.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

The card sat on the table, grinning its evil grin, as though it was proud of all the destruction surrounding it. The plate that held the cookies was broken in two, and half the treats were on the floor, the other half in crumbs on the table. Popcorn littered the room like confetti, and the streamers were torn and limp.

“What happened here?” Mila asked, reaching for the card.

Tam slapped her hand away before she could touch it. “Don’t you know what that is?” he barked at her.

“It’s a Joker,” she said, blinking rapidly as she tried to figure out what he was so upset about.

“Close. His name is Jester,” he nodded. “And for the moment, he’s trapped in there. But he’s a sly one, and he’d find some way to trick you into letting him out.”

Mila shuddered, and took several steps back. Her eyes darted about the room, back to the card, and away again. She thought that its black gaze followed her, but that was absurd. It was just some paper and ink, after all.

“So what are we doing here?” Mila asked, her voice filling the silence and somehow making the room sound more dead and empty.

“We have to find out where the others were taken,” Tam said, his face set in grim determination. “And if they’re still alive.”

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ERIKA LANCE:

Mikey pushed all his cookies into the middle of the table “I’m all in!” he exclaimed. 

“What?” Chris said looking over his cards and the array of popcorn that seemed to only be adding color to the table at this point. 

“He said he is all in,” Alex’s voice seemed to be dripping with distain. He threw his cards down and got up from the table heading to the mini-fridge. 

Chris looked back at his cards and over to Billy who hadn’t made a move yet. Billy kept looking at his cards and then Mikey and back to his cards again. 

“What the hell are you waiting on?” Mikey finally said. 

“How many cookies is that?” Billy said, again looking at the stack in the middle of the table. 

“More then you have,” Mikey replied. 

Chris was watching the interaction and since he went after Billy he had to wait the next three minutes for Billy to decide what he was doing. 

“I fold,” Billy finally said. 

Mikey looked at Chris. 

“I call,” Chris said and put his cards down. A full house queens and tens. 

“I win,” Mikey said throwing his cards down, “four jacks”. 

Before he could pull all the cookies Chris exclaimed, “That is a joker not a jack!” 

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JM PAQUETTE:

“You call this a reception?” The guest of honor stared at the table full of food with disgust. He picked up a chocolate chip cookie, took a small nibble from the corner, and dropped it back onto the plate. Grimacing, he picked up a handful of popcorn, only to make the same face as he spit it into a napkin. “Where did you get this food? Sam’s club? Who made these cookies? A 5-year old? This is unacceptable!”

Sara followed the star as he strutted angrily down the line of food, trying to surreptitiously pick up his discarded bites so that none of the other guests would eat them. She hated this part of the job. The prima donnas were the worst. And this guy was a supreme jerk.

“What do you think I am? Some kind of small town loser? What kind of joker sets up food like this? I’m not surprised no one is in here yet. This food is terrible!” He continued to mumble as he walked away. Sara slowed at the table, shoving a handful of napkins into her pocket and beginning to collect the next round of food.

No, she wanted to tell him. It’s not the food. No one is here because you’re a complete asshat. But she would never say such a thing to the guest of honor. She would never work in the industry again if she burned a client like that.

And it wasn’t always this bad. Sometimes it was, like the guy who insisted she separate all of the Skittles into bowls by color, but a lot of the time the guests were wonderful human beings. She considered the schedule for the next week. This man would be here until Wednesday night. It was Sunday afternoon. She could do this. It was why they paid her the big bucks.

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Unforgiving Sun – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Drought
  • Slippery
  • Bird

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

ALANNA J. RUBIN

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

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LISA BARRY:

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

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

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

 

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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ERIKA LANCE:

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

“It looks like a bird” Heather said.

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

He slid the cube in his pouch.

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

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

“How did you….?” She began.

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

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

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

Malcom shook his head.

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

Malcom just sighed pulling out his own sand.

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JM PAQUETTE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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BRANDON SCOTT

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

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

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

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

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

The smell was not great.

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

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

 

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Fairy in my Bathtub – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Burn
  • History
  • Random

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

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

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LISA BARRY:

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

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

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

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

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

“Random, my foot,” Henna muttered.

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

“Who are you?” Henna asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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ERIKA LANCE:

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

 

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

 

She screamed out and Malcom ran to her side. 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Heather wasn’t pleased. 

 

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

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

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

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BRANDON SCOTT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What is That? – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 23 August 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Fingers
  • Faery
  • Bathtub

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

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

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

“What is that?” Tipsy repeated.

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

“Oh. Why is it in there?”

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

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

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

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

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LISA BARRY:

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

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

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ERIKA LANCE:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Now” heather whispered. 

 

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

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

 

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

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JM PAQUETTE:

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s just what?” she demanded.

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

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

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

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

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ALANNA J. RUBIN

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

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BRANDON SCOTT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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