Week 17 of Odd Prompts


Hello from quarantine! Calling all those snarling at staying in one – more – day! Would you like to be distracted? Can we interest you in some tasty, intriguing, inspiring, splendid writing prompts?

If we can’t go anywhere but our imaginations, we might as well venture into intriguing places, no? Telling tales is a traditional way to while away the time. Trade a prompt, grab a spare, and share, share away. More friends, more fun, more stories!

Let’s get started, shall we?


Prompter Prompt Promptee
Cedar Sanderson You are a big game hunter stalking something. What is it you are in pursuit of, and why is it so terrifying? Fiona Grey
Kat Ross Double Moon (see images on site) Leigh Kimmel
Becky Jones Your daily walk has been along the same route for months. Today, you notice a side trail up into the woods that’s never been there before. On a surprising whim, you decide to take the new path. Where does it lead you? nother Mike
nother Mike When he opened the special delivery box, all that was inside was a key.
Cedar Sanderson
Fiona Grey On a whim several years ago, you began inviting everyone born on the same date as you to join you at your house for cake. This year, they take you up on it. Misha Burnett
Robert Evans Lions have tails similar to a dandelion that’s gone to seed: a long stalk/shank basically bare, but with a tuft of hair/ball of fluff at the end. This prompt is to draw a lion in a dandelion field with his tail held aloft, looking sad as the wind, or perhaps a mischievous smaller animal, blows the hair off his tail as if it were a dandelion. Kat Ross
Misha Burnett The supernatural creature rampaged through the crowded store, killing everyone but you. Why were you spared? Becky Jones
Leigh Kimmel A world with too many rules. Rules for everything, and some rules purely for the sake of following rules. The inhabitants seem to live primarily on the points they get for following the rules, and for attending classes on all the different types of rules and how to properly follow them. Robert Evans
Double Moon, by Kat Ross

And here are your spares this week:

spare At the 10 year, 20 year, and 50 year high school reunions, almost everyone changed. Joey, though, was still the same teenager they had graduated with so many years ago…
spare When Dr. Winkler left his pet alligator tied up outside the grocery store, he always hated to find extra leashes lying on the ground when he came back out. The other pet owners made such a fuss! (inspired by https://www.thefarside.com/2020/04/19/0 if you want to see it!)
spare The blacksmith and the pirate stared at each other, intent on…
spare Everything was going swimmingly on Jake’s first date until she let a tentacle slip.
spare Describe–without naming it–a common item in your workspace through the eyes of someone who has never seen it before.
spare If your home had a spirit–a genius loci–that manifested in a physical form, what would it look like?
spare Write a pitch to attract investors in startup company that makes magical goods of some kind.

No genre restrictions, no word counts, no intimidation. Put your wonder tales and links to adventures in the comments, and don’t forget to send next week’s prompts to OddPrompts@gmail.com.

Header image by Fiona Grey, Cincinnati Zoo.



  1. Spare prompt (sort of)

    People Potpourri

    “Well, I thought it would be FUN to have a birthday party and invite all those people who had the same birthday as mine! Why do you have to be such a party pooper?”

    “Sure, I hear ya. But isn’t it important for the guests to have similar interests? THIS one,” he said, tapping his pencil on a name halfway down the list, “this guy here–Sergius what’s-his-name. Radonesh. I don’t even know how to PRONOUNCE it. A 14th-century Russian SAINT, for heaven’s sake! How is HE going to fit in with the rest of this crowd? And what about language…”

    “Well, he’s invited, anyway. Should be interesting…hmmm…wonder what he’s going to think of Brooke, this Miss America candidate from Idaho?” Her eyes sparkled. “You know, I think I’d like to come back in a few centuries to see how things have changed…let’s see…Arthur Sullivan, you know, that Gilbert and Sullivan guy; d’you think he might hit it off with Stevie Wonder? Maybe they could sing us a duet.” She giggled. “Oh, this is going to be SO much fun!”

    “Well,” he said with a resigned sigh, “I really do think you should take some of these guys off the list. How about those two ball players? Sirotka, the White Sox pitcher; and this other guy. What could they have in common with the Empress of Austria, for Pete’s sake?

    She danced giddily around the room. “Oh, it’s going to be SO much fun! Don’t you see? They don’t have to think alike, or act the same! It’s like a People Potpourri! Stimulating conversation, everybody dresses differently, acts differently…some are from different centuries…what do you think of those two Sci Fi authors, Steven Donaldson and Robert Zelazny? Wasn’t it a stroke of genius, to invite them?”

    He looked further down the list.

    “OMG! BRI!” he thundered. “You’re inviting JIM JONES? The guy in Guyana that poisoned the kool-ade and killed over 100 people…”

    “Oh, stop sputtering,” she said dreamily. “I just won’t let him in the kitchen. Say…did I tell you…”

    “Tell me nothing! This party is cancelled right now!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I modified the prompt a little. I’m dealing with end of semester whining, attempts to gaslight me about assignments I created, and general angst that college students bring no matter what. That’s probably what gave me this little scenario.

    Here’s the prompt: The supernatural creature rampaged through the crowded store, killing everyone but you. Why were you spared?

    And here’s my response:

    Rampaging Beasts

    The noise was deafening. Between the shattering glass, crashing shelves, and screaming customers and staff, the store was chaos.

    The rampaging werebear wreaked unimaginable havoc. It was roaring incoherently and throwing itself around the store like a toddler having a massive temper-tantrum. Nobody seemed capable of or willing to stop him.

    From my hiding spot towards the back of the store I kept an eye on the beast and tried to come up with an idea. Abruptly, the werebear made a gesture towards the front door as if it were throwing a ball. All the remaining customers were flung out the door. Some went through what remained of the front window.

    I knew that move! Suddenly confident, I stood up from behind the back counter. The werebear turned and started toward me.

    “Goddammit, Brian! I told you not to experiment in the mall!” I stood my ground, arms out as if to hug it.

    The werebear came to a sudden halt. It stood panting and drooling about ten feet away. Slowly, its form appeared to flow and a disheveled young man about 19-years old stood before me, still panting and drooling.

    “I-I’m s-s-sorry, d-d-Dr. Jones. I didn’t think…”

    “Clearly you didn’t think! I warned you about this several times in class. Congratulations, you have just failed this exam. And, don’t even get me started on the damage and injuries. You’d better hope there were no deaths! If you are going to be successful in this class, you need to pay attention when I’m lecturing!”

    Brian hung his head. “I’m sorry.”

    “Good grief. Start cleaning this mess up.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well, drat. I went to put this up on Dreamwidth, where I usually post things, and they have upgraded (and broken their Rich Text editing, apparently). So… Here’s the whole thing.

    This week my prompt was:

    Your daily walk has been along the same route for months. Today, you notice a side trail up into the woods that’s never been there before. On a surprising whim, you decide to take the new path. Where does it lead you?

    Hum… I decided to just do some freewriting, and see where we went… here’s what I ended up with. Not finished, but… you might enjoy it?

    Into the Woods (800 words)
    By Mike Barker

    Fred loved walking through the woods along this old path. Sometimes he jogged, sometimes he ran, but today he was just taking a slow walk. Letting the quiet seep into his soul. Sometimes life was just irritating, so boring and tame. Day after day, the same old same old. But the woods always had something new, whether it was the green vibrant growth in the spring or the slowly disintegrating brown of fall, like today. Insects and birds busily at work, sometimes a rustling in the leaves. You never really knew what you might find.

    He was about to take the right hand twist in the path at the old oak when he noticed the gleam hanging in the air. What was that? He slowed down, and looked closely at it. It almost looked… well, sometimes at night you saw a reflection of a light along a metal edge. Or perhaps a nightlight, glowing under the edge of a door? He reached out, and slid his finger down the glimmering line.

    Suddenly, the air split, and there was a whole new branch in the trail there. It had always twisted to the right at this point, bending around the oak rising beside the path. But now there were two branches, the right hand one that had always been there, and a left hand branch that he had never seen before.

    He glanced along the well known path, and then grinned. He had just been thinking that life was boring and tame, hadn’t he? So…

    He stepped onto the left hand branch, and kept going. He didn’t notice that behind him, the temporary warp in the air quietly vanished again.

    The air smelled fresher somehow as he walked along. Then he shook his head. Wait a minute. That bush had green leaves, and it’d been fall… He glanced up at the trees, and they were gleaming green new growth, too. What happened?

    He stepped into a field. Tall green growth stretched across it. And on the other side, near a pine tree, a… He blinked and gasped. Then he rubbed his head. It must be a deer, right? Or someone was playing jokes. It looked like… Well, a unicorn. One shining white horn, flowing mane, if it weren’t for the horn, he’d call it a pony, but… It lifted its head, and soft brown eyes, big like a deer, looked at him and blinked.

    Then it… It strolled across the field. He reached out, his hand trembling. It lowered its head and tapped his knuckles, then moved forward so that his hand was on its shoulder. He stroked it, and the unicorn gently laid the horn across his shoulder.

    He had to be dreaming. But… His fingers caught in a knot in the mane, and he gently teased it loose. No, dreams didn’t have things like this. He could smell the flowers, smell the unicorn. The sun beat down on his shoulders, and he gently shook his head. This was no dream.

    After several minutes spent stroking the unicorn, he shook his head and looked around. He really should get back to the path, and home. He turned around, and started back. The unicorn pushed up beside him, and trotted alongside as he walked.

    He frowned. There were his footsteps, he could see the tracks, but… they just seemed to start in the middle of the path? Where was the old oak, and where was the well-worn path that he always walked?

    He looked around, and felt a cold shiver run down his back. He remembered that bush, and the trees, but… he couldn’t see anything that looked like the old path. Well, his home must be over there, right?

    He turned, and jogged a little bit. The small unicorn easily twisted through the woods with him.

    After a while, he stopped. He looked at the sun, the clouds, the trees, the unicorn. Then he nodded, slowly, and blew his breath out. He took a slow, deep breath, and held it, then let it go to the count of three.

    He didn’t know where he was, but there was no sign of … well, of his world. Of his old life.

    The unicorn tapped his shoulder with its horn, and he leaned against it. Then he knelt, and cried. Yes, his life had been boring, irritating, not exciting. But… it was his life! He really didn’t want it to go away.

    The unicorn let him cry, gently rippling its shoulder as he let go of the old life.

    After a time, he rubbed at his eyes, and shook his head. Then he stood up, and gently hugged the unicorn.

    “Well. I suppose I should give you a name? What about Friday? I sure feel like Robinson Crusoe, castaway in a world I never knew was there. Or should I say here?”

    The unicorn blinked at him, then nodded.

    “Thank you, Friday. Oh, and I’m Fred, in case you care. And what should we do now? I suppose I should find shelter?”

    He looked around, then walked into the woods. A lean-to shouldn’t be too hard to put together. Gather some dry wood, too, and see if he still remembered how to make a fire from those long-ago days in Scouts? And he would have to think about what he could eat, too.

    A new beginning?

    Liked by 3 people

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