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She looked Adorable – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 13 December 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Telescope
  • Stickler
  • Beard

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

DALIA LANCE:

“I can’t see a thing” Marcia said seeming even more frustrated then before.

Chris smiled a little because she looked adorable looking out of the telescope into the night sky.

Since he spent most of his time studying the stars, when he had met Marcia and saw her joy and wonderment it renewed his passion for his work.

He got up and walked towards her “Let me help you.”

As he came up behind her putting his hand on her waist she turned and at first gave me a small pout on her lips and then smiled reaching up to his face. She put both hands on the side of his chin, running her fingers through his beard and pulling him in for a kiss.

After a few moments on simply enjoying each other Marcia pulled away and smiled again “fix it please.”

Chris of course couldn’t resist and looked out of the telescope and sure enough there was something blocking the view. He moved around to the front of it, not wanting to leave her embrace and looked at the lens. There was a sticker on it that had hearts and said “I love you”

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LISA BARRY:

 

I scratched my short beard and thought about the best plan of action. If I went over there, the little witch might be able to do something foul to me too, but I was stickler for punching bullies where it counts. Carson was human, so he wouldn’t be very useful except…

“Hey Carson, let’s go have ourselves a chat with some little hotties.”

Carson stood nervously from his chair, but he was totally into it. As soon as we got over there, Pink met my eyes and gave me a smile that would have stopped a normal mans heart. The witch frowned but when Carson finally got the courage to say hello, her concentration dropped and Pink girls words, to me I noticed happily, were heard halfway through her sentence.

“I wondered when you would come same hi,” she said. I sat down and asked if I could get her another coffee.

“Get lost,” the witch said to Carson.

“I think you may need to rethink your friends,” I said softly to Pink even though I was a little scared to telescope in to her friend like that. She frowned but knew I was right. I girl that looked exactly like the witch came from the back of the coffee shop and blinked her lashes at Carson. He immediately started talking to her. The witch huffed and left the table. Carson and I smiled at each as we realized that we had actually scored some decent babes.

 

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

 

She swallowed, and edged to the side. The wolf’s eyes followed her, and when she had almost made it around the the chair, when the wolf backed around and cut her off. “Can you call him away?” she called to the man behind her. A sharp whistle made the wolf pad past her and back to its master. “Come sit with me.” She sighed. “I really don’t have time for small talk.” “Then we won’t talk small. Sit.” Something in his voice couldn’t be argued with and she sat. His beard was thick and neat, his face worn. The wolf sat with its head in his lap. An open satchel on the table showed an array of impressive tools, a knife, a telescope, a crystal ball, and other things that she didn’t recognize. “I’m sorry for the informality, I’m not a stickler for pomp and circumstance,” he said, and chuckled. “I suppose I’ve been out in the Wilds for too long to be fit company for civilized folks.” “Whatever made you go out there?” she asked. “The question is what made me come back,” he replied, the jovial expression falling from his face.

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BRANDON SCOTT

Henry’s gaze was like a telescope on Little Timmy, growing closer and closer. And despite the weak protests of Kyle, so small beside him, he moved forward almost automatically. Flowing forward on his feet and with eyes wide.

“I am sorry,” he said, his voice weak. For that moment, with the darkness of his fetish in his soul still bared, he looked frightening. His beard, though mostly managed, was a scraggly thing, reddish-flecked but mostly brown.

Little Timmy looked up with wide, tear-colored eyes. So full of reflected light, it contrasted with the red puffy skin beneath. “You blew out my birthday candles. You blew out my candles!”

Henry did not flinch, did not react much beyond the darkness in his eyes growing more powerful, more pronounced, as he stalked forward. This talk of candles was doing things to his body. And he was doing a poor job of controlling that.

“Oh, don’t be such a stickler for this. Don’t be so that way, okay?”

Little Timmy sniveled but still looked at him with disdain. Some things, it appeared, were not so easily forgiven. And, to a kid, that may have been the greatest crime ever committed.

“Suck it,” Timmy said, drawing upon the strongest swear he felt comfortable to use—even if the meaning was lost on him slightly. Suck what?

“It’s all over, okay? I don’t have any more candles; can’t you protect me and forgive me?”

Protect?” Timmy spat back, and then his eyes widened. Henry was still stalking forward, but that was not what he was looking at, what he was gawking at right then.

Henry got it too late, and turned, only to have a flower pot explode on his face, and the water wash over his skin. His eyes swam, and the kick to the groin dropped him into unconsciousness.

Kyle panted, and stood over him, eyes wide in a different way. He was not aware he could be that violent—it had not occurred to him.

“I’m calling the police,” he muttered.

“Yeah—the cops will get him for my birthday,” Little Timmy said.

Kyle pursed his lips and bopped his head. “Sure…yeah. That is what he’ll go to prison for. Right.”

He let out a sigh and looked up at his son. “Tim, buddy, could you maybe wait upstairs?”

“I want to see the police,” came the immediate request.

“I’ll buy you a new cake,” Kyle said, his voice flat.

Timmy was pretty sure he did not have to give into demands on his birthday but went along with it.

 

 

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Someone was Watching Her – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 13 December 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Candle
  • Black
  • Wax

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

She made her way down to the tavern. The streets were rapidly emptying as everyone scurried to their homes. She adjusted the basket of bread on her shoulder, and went through the wide doors. Warm golden light and the smell of ale greeted her, and she relaxed. Walking up to the counter, it was several moments before she realized someone was watching her. It was several more before she found him, sitting in the darkest corner, his eyes glittering like gems. A single candle flickered in front of him, the wax oozing down the sides. She was disconcerted when she saw it writing and looping on itself to form the likeness of a beautiful flowering vine.

“Do you like my work?” a voice issued from the shadows.

She averted her eyes, and dropped into a shallow curtsy more as a reaction rather than a gesture of any respect.

“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean, sir,” she murmured, and though she was no longer looking in his direction, she could plainly see the wax dripping into a perfectly normal puddle in the saucer.

“I’m sure you don’t,” the voice agreed.

She turned to continue to the bar to drop off the bread for dinner, and found herself confronted with a massive black wolf, its golden eyes level with hers and a pink tongue lolling from its mouth.

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LISA BARRY:

Carson’s love interest reached deep into her bag and pulled out a black candle. I couldn’t help but raise a brow. Where I’m from, that it not generally a good indicator. But since we were on Earth’s plane, I found it hard to believe that the pretty dark girl could do much more than stink up the quaint coffee shop we were situated in with random herbs and scents of burning waxed. I wondered if the proprietor would even allow for burning candles. I took a sip of my coffee and realized that it had gotten cold while I drooled over the pink girl. In a lovely accent, she kept chatting away at her dark-haired friend who seemed bored really, as she set the candle on a napkin between her and Pink and lit it. She leaned in to the candle whispered some words tossed an herb on, saw that coming, and then smiled at Pink who kept talking. I realized that there was now no sound coming out of her mouth. I sat straight and took a better look at Carson’s girl. She nodded and smiled at Pink but I knew damn well she couldn’t hear anything. I glanced around but no one else seemed to notice that lack of noise. Well, hell.

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DALIA LANCE:

Mari realized talking Cara down from this euphoric high she had from Brad’s spell wouldn’t happen without real proof. Brad was presently in the part of Man-of-her-dreams after-all so breaking the spell before he broke here was going to be tricky.

 

Mari picked up her phone and texted Brad: Can we meet?

 

She thought about being more subtle, but again, time was of the essence. 

 

Although Brad had told Cara he was busy with work and that is why he couldn’t see or talk to her now, Brad replied almost immediately: What were you thinking?

 

Mari looked at Cara and then responded: I will be at your apartment in an hour. Be ready.

 

He replied with a thumbs up emoji. Boys are dumb.

 

Making a bad excuse, Mari left Cara at the bar and headed home. She needed to grab one thing to be ready for the encounter.

 

She made it to his door with exactly five minutes to spare and when he opened the door his apartment was lit with only candles and he was wearing a black robe. She looked down as it was hanging open and asked “Did you wax for me?”

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JM PAQUETTE:

“Like a candle in the wind!” I was singing along to Elton John, sitting in my office, staring at the computer, lines of words streaking across the screen, wishing that finals week was over and I could just listen to music without using it as crutch to get me through the day. “Never knowing who to cling to…” I continued, bopping my head in time and leaning forward, trying to find a thesis statement amid the seemingly random words of the student essay I was grading.

            “Uh, miss?”

            I jerked upright, words falling silent as I looked at the door. A student stood there–well, I thought she must be a student. She had the right look for this time of the semester–harried, uncertain, nervous but desperate enough to venture into the professor’s office for one last chance to plead her case. She ran her hands through her black hair, a nervous gesture, and I swung my chair around to face her while reaching out to lower my soundtrack.

            “Yes?”

            “Are you Dr. Paquette?” She looked around the office, back to the door with the nameplate on it, then down at the stack of papers on my desk, my name clearly printed on the upper left hand corner of the top one.

            “I am,” I admitted, waiting for her to lay into her plea.

            “Oh,” she said, standing there nervously.

            “You can sit down,” I gestured at the chair opposite my desk, and slid the stack of papers away from the edge so she could lay down her notepad.

            She stood there for another long moment, and I wondered if she was expecting an engraved invitation, complete with a wax seal. “What can I help you with?”

            She sat, shoulders slumping heavily, eyes wet with desperation. “Well, you probably know that I never came to class this semester but…”

            I leaned back to listen to her story.

 

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BRANDON SCOTT

“But, truly, you do not understand,” Henry said, again managing to push his will into the world and standing up to his full height. He was taller than Kyle by a good foot, and Kyle took a step back in alarm. A child was upset, but he did not want to be decked for defending him.

“Okay, then…explain it to me.”

Kyle regretted this almost immediately as a gleam came into Henry’s eyes. Something not wholesome in the slightest. Something almost dark in him, or at least shaded.

“Well, it’s like this…” he began, his face more and more animated. “The wax—the smell of it. That’s what goes for me to do it, okay? I can smell the heat and—”

“Okay. Stop,” Kyle said, looking a tad green. “That’s enough—I did not want to know. It’s a candle though. Like, it’s not like we are talking about even ears or feet here. Don’t you see it’s just wrong…”?

“Wrong?” came Henry’s question. “It’s a burden, yes—and I am sorry for Timmy. But it’s not like it’s morally an issue.”

“That’s not the point. You stole a child’s wish.”

“Oh, like that’s real,” came the snappy retort.

Off in the corner, quiet and sulking, Timmy began to sob uncontrollably.

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Brandishing his Sword – an ISG Writing Exercise

On 13 December 2017, these three words were chosen:

  • Blow
  • Infatuated
  • Streak

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

FEATURED AUTHOR

JM PAQUETTE:

“Only a word?” he recited. “Why not couple it with something? Make it a word and a blow!” At this, Christian stood up, brandishing his sword at Bryan, who was supposed to leap back in a display of cat-like ability. Bryan was playing Tybalt, after all, prince of cats, and he needed to show that he deserved the title. The audience would need to see it.

Of course, Bryan’s reflexes were more dog-like than feline at the moment, and he stepped back awkwardly, knocking over the table where Christian had been resting his feet, lounging as his character Mercutio was supposed to do until he jumped up and Romeo arrived and the real fight started.

The table fell with a crash, a few drinks spilling and bouncing around on the floor. Marie made a note to not fill them with anything on the night of the performance. Bryan may be adorable with his lean limbs and long brown hair, his face offset by the streak of white blonde just down one side. He swore it was natural, but Marie doubted it. The line was just too perfect. No doubt he went to the hair salon each month to get it colored. She just couldn’t picture him doing it at home, standing over the bathroom sink with a strip of foil scrunched up around his face, waiting for the timer to ding so he could rinse it off.

No, surely Bryan didn’t do such mundane things as stand in front of bathroom sinks. But as she thought about it, she decided that maybe he did. And he would be adorable as he stood there. Everything he did was adorable, even knocking over tables and spilling drinks. That’s what happens when you are infatuated with someone.

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LISA BARRY:

She had a streak of pink down her hair on right side and I couldn’t tell if it was natural or not. People here might think me dull by that comment but honestly where I’m from, her hair colors could easily be natural. I thought about blowing from this hang, but she was just so cute. And she had these little fangs sitting on her lips. I wondered if those were real too. If they were, she would be a really fun time.

“Check her out,” my friend Carson said and pushed his long jaw toward my pink girl. I was about to growl at him when he continued, “she’s got that thick dark hair that I would love to wrap my hands in.”

“I glanced over and saw that pink girl was sitting next to a raven-haired girl with rosy cheeks.

“Oh yeah, for sure,” I commented. I think it would be easy to be infatuated. I wondered if other people were curious about my pointy ears. Did they think I got plastic surgery? Or did they know with certainty that I was born with them. Pink glanced up and met my eyes. She smiled and those teeth, man, fake or not, I’d like to play with her.

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NICOLE DRAGONBECK:

Ever since she could remember, she had been infatuated with the stars. She would sit for hours just watching the skies, with the glittering diamonds streaking and falling. And then one day they were just gone. All of them. She went out every night and waited for their brilliance to return, but all she had for company was the chill wind blowing through an empty sky. The others were scared, and set alight huge pyres to appease the gods, but the stars did not return. She was not scared, but she was sad to lose her sparkling friends. For a long time, she wondered where they had gone, and continued her nightly ritual though it was a cold and lonely time without the stars. After a while, she no longer went out every night, and then not every week. Finally, she no longer noticed the flat black sky that was left when the sun disappeared behind the horizon, and her childhood wonder never entered her thoughts. That all changed when the man with the silver eyes arrived in the town, at his side a massive wolf.

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DALIA LANCE:

As Mari looked across the table at her friend she could tell she was totally infatuated with her new beau Brad.
Cara’s look could only be described as swooning and it was making Mari nauseous. Honestly Brad was a player. A horrible flirt and Mari knew that Cara was just the latest in his long line of conquests. 

Brad, for whatever reason, like the thrill of the hunt. Making the girl fall head over heels so when he merely entered the room you could blow the girl over like a feather because the only life raft was him.

He was on a real streak too. This was his third girl in less than a month. Mari usually didn’t care because the vapid airheads he normally chose to pray on were better gone from the circle but this was actually one of her friends. 

“… and then he told me his heart beat only for me…” Cara was finishing looking even more wistful. Mari decided she had to do something.

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BRANDON SCOTT

“I am infatuated with it, yes,” he said, sitting there, his face only slightly red. “I mean, everyone’s got something right? Don’t shame me.”

Kyle shook his head slightly, working words he could say around in his head until they fit what he thought was a good way to put it. But, none came to fruition, so he just went with: “Yes…sure…but most people don’t do that…most people do not have a streak of ruined parties.”

“It wasn’t ruined,” he protested, his voice somewhat shrill.

“Will they ever speak to you again?”

“Some of the kids did…” He trailed off and looked out the window, trying to find a counter-argument to the accusation.

“The parents?”

“No,” came the flat answer.

“Well, alright, so you admit that you should not blow—”

“Now wait,” he interrupted, standing up and raising his hand. “That’s not—that’s not…I need to, don’t you understand.”

“Then get help.”

These words seemed too heavy for him, as he fell back down into his seat without much defense. Eventually, he mumbled out: “It’s not like it is hurting anyone really. What’s a few…people make exceptions for your eccentricities all the time.”

“Yes, but I am allergic to cats and I am afraid of knives—different entirely. You can’t do what you do.”

“But—”

“Henry, you cannot blow out every birthday candle you see in sight. Little Timmy will never get over this.”

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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.

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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

Coming soon!

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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.

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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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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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