Week 3 of Odd Prompts

It might remain the thirteenth month of 2020 in some ways, but according to the Interweb, we’ve made it past “quitters’ day.” That’s the day when people are most likely to give up on New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve made it this far in your creative journey, success and felicitations!

Besides, we could use all the distractions we can get. So let’s get to the prompts. First up, our direct trades. Interested in joining? Email oddprompts@gmail.com and submit your offering, easy peasy.

PrompterPromptPromptee
Misha BurnettYou encounter a vendor at a flea market who is selling old toys and household goods. Everything on the table for sale is something that you once owned.AC Young
Fiona Grey“I’m telling you, that elf is stalking me!”Cedar Sanderson
nother MikeThey were picking skulls out of the yard when they found it.Leigh Kimmel
AC YoungThe wizard found himself trapped in the tigers’ cage.Fiona Grey
Cedar SandersonThe man in the skull mask slowly held up his gun, and his other hand, empty. Then he dropped the gun…Kat Ross
Leigh KimmelThree hats for three lionsBecky Jones
Becky JonesUm…no, I wouldn’t push that button if I were you. The gorgon doesn’t like it.nother Mike
Kat RossPrivate Investigator is hired by a wealthy family to find their daughter, whose arranged marriage to a man of comparable wealth and position is pending. Is it kidnapping or did she runaway? [“borrowed” from Whatdunits, edited by Mike Resnick]Misha Burnett

Forget to send one in? Want to play but have more choices? Welcome to the spare prompts section, created with you in mind. Send prompts in to the same address as above, but put “spare” in the subject line. Check out this week’s below.

SpareI was waiting for her, but she never came out again. What did come out was….
SpareEverything looked enthusiastic and sprightly this spring, except the people. Probably because of that caffeinated rain.
SpareThe headset dropped over his eyes. A burst of static and color made him wince. When he opened his eyes, he saw…
SpareThe psychic called me on my private line, told me my credit card number, and then asked me if I really wanted to know my fortune or not…
SpareThe vampires started to run through the bank of fog. Then they realized it was generated by a machine loaded with holy water…

Share your work or links to creations – prose or verse, watercolor or digital, baked goods or symphonic melodies – in the comments. Until next week, cheers! …and stay sane, everybody.

21 comments

  1. Misha Burnett prompted with: You encounter a vendor at a flea market who is selling old toys and household goods. Everything on the table for sale is something that you once owned.

    A flea market aka a car-boot sale aka a jumble sale aka etc. Perhaps I could combine a jumble sale and the regular fund-raising events of schools etc. Lets see how the following goes…

    It had been in the diary for weeks, the annual School Jumble Sale. I’m not sure why, because I rarely go and browse the stalls and associated tat looking for something to buy.

    But this year I had nothing better to do on the Saturday on which it was held, so I went – more for something to while away the hours than anything more serious.

    I browsed my way through the various offerings in the Assembly Hall, and found nothing that persuaded me to part with my cash. I would have felt very bad about leaving without spending any money so I decided to browse the stalls in the classrooms.

    The first few were more of the same, and I was starting to wonder if I might have to swallow my pride and purchase some random rubbish just so that I could head home without feeling ashamed when I made my way into Classroom 28.

    There was just one stall in the room, manned by an old man with long white hair and a very strange taste in robes. I glanced at the eclectic mix of crockery, toys and so on. An old stuffed tiger caught my attention, so I picked it up and took a closer look.

    Suddenly, it was Stripy! Stripy, my very first stuffed toy as a young boy, a toy that I’d loved so much that my parents had to arrange for him to go into the local Stuffed Toy Hospital for medical attention. (My parents admitted years later that they’d made the story up. Stripy had got so badly worn that he couldn’t be repaired any more, so they’d got a brand new replacement and used the ruse to swap them around.)

    But it couldn’t be! When I’d moved out of my parents’ house I hadn’t had the space to take everything with me, so I’d crated the rest up and put them all into storage. It had been a terrible mistake. A few months later a freak fire had destroyed the storage unit, and all my stuff had gone up in smoke.

    But there was Stripy in my hands. And on the table next to where Stripy had sat was Spotty the cheetah, Leo the lion and Night the panther.

    Next to the toys was a set of crockery. It couldn’t be the set that used to belong to my grandmother, that she gave to me on my 21st? But it was, the exact same pattern!

    My eyes roamed the table. Every single item matched something that I’d lost in that storage fire. There was that series of novels I’d loved as a teenager. There was the chess set my uncle and aunt had given me.

    I tore my eyes away from the wonders before them and focussed on the strange man behind the stall. His face contained the most enormous grin. “How?” was all I could think of asking.

    “My gifts are rare. I have great power but it is circumscribed by many rules and regulations. Lost and Found is one of the few ways that I can help my fellow men without falling foul of the law.”

    “I don’t understand,” I said. And I didn’t. It sounded as if he was claiming magic as a basis for the scene before me, but magic didn’t exist. Everyone knew that stage magicians used smoke and mirrors and the like – not genuine magic – for their tricks.

    “You don’t need to understand. You need only accept my gift to you today. All of these things can be yours again. I ask nothing for myself.”

    “But they were all destroyed!”

    “Those with enough power can restore what was lost. Again, these can all be yours again.”

    I gave up trying to understand what had happened. The strange man was clearly not going to explain how these things came to be in his possession. (Yes, it sounded like he was claiming magical powers, but that wasn’t possible – and once you have deduced the impossible and all that.) But the offer was one that I couldn’t turn down.

    Yes, I know he said he wanted nothing for himself, but I couldn’t just take the lot without some recompense. So I gave a donation to the school – more than I have ever given at one of these things before. The strange man helped me box everything up, and carry them out to my car.

    When I got home I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening figuring out where everything went. Stripy, Spotty, Leo and Night were found places on the windowsill in the bedroom, and I went to bed that night with a large grin on my face and much joy in my heart.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Becky Jones prompted…

    Um…no, I wouldn’t push that button if I were you. The gorgon doesn’t like it.

    A quick simmer, and this popped out…

    In The Heart of The Magic Kingdom (300 words)
    By Mike Barker

    Harold watched Mike as they stepped into the seldom-used alcove in the Greek Fantasy World, buried deep in the Magic Kingdom. They didn’t like to clean it, but there weren’t very many visitors, so it didn’t really need cleaning every day. Except…

    “Dang it!” Mike yelled. “Those darn kids have moved some statues in here again!”

    Harold had just started working with Mike a few days ago, but he had already heard the complaints. Apparently someone liked to move statues into this alcove, and Mike really hated it. He said he had asked the security people, but they told him they didn’t see anything like that in the security videos. He was sure they were laughing at him, since whenever he went to clean up in here, he found several statues.

    “So, what’s this display?” Harold asked.

    Mike turned away from the two statues and waved at the darkened window.

    “Ah, it’s some mythological thing. Gorgons? Gorgonzola cheese? Something like that. Here, I’ll push the button and it’ll turn on the light and you can see.”

    Harold licked his lips.

    “Um…no, I wouldn’t push that button if I were you. The gorgon doesn’t like it.”

    Mike laughed.

    “What are you talking about? It’s just some animatronics thing, you know?”

    He pushed the button. The lights came on behind the window, and the gorgon turned, its snake heads thrashing. The eyes… the eyes seemed to blaze, and Mike glared at it.

    “See! Just a stupid…”

    His voice trailed off, as he turned into stone.

    Harold looked at the floor. He could see a faint reflection in the black polished floor. After a long moment, he heard a grating laugh.

    “Well, you seem to know better. Don’t push that button!”

    He waited. After a moment, the light went off, and he glanced up, carefully.

    Then he sighed, and started moving the three statues out.

    It was going to be a long night cleaning by himself in the Magic Kingdom.

    The End

    Liked by 3 people

    • And they’re both interesting! The moral challenge in the first one… what should I do? And then there’s the strange new world… Thanks! I’ll take what’s behind either door!

      Liked by 1 person

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