Week 6 of Odd Prompts

I’m not going to say that one year has blurred into another, but this last 12 month period has been a long, strange one. None of us could have foreseen, when we started this prompt challenge at the first week of 2020, what was coming. That the world would change.

What’s stayed the same? The prompt challenge. Send in your prompt to oddprompts at gmail dot com, and you’ll be entered into the challenge and will receive a randomly assigned prompt on Wednesday. The prompt is for… anything. Writing is the most common response, but art, photography, music… it’s all good!

PrompterPromptPromptee
AC YoungThe trophy was fashioned out of silver, and had three handles shaped like snakes.nother Mike
nother MikeThere was a gun on the sink in the restroom…Cedar Sanderson
Fiona Grey“…plenty of swimming trees in the lake, as you can see,” the realtor said with a sweep of her hand toward the picture window. “They don’t bother anyone, but prefer to be left alone. Now, the kitchen is a real treasure…”Becky Jones
Becky JonesThe neighbor’s dog has been barking his fool head off for the last couple hours. Do you go check to see what’s going on, or do you reinforce the magic wards around your place and hope whatever it is doesn’t head your way?AC Young
Leigh KimmelIt started as a jocular tweak of the nose, but the aliens didn’t take it that way.Fiona Grey
Cedar SandersonThe jaguar stalked along the expanded metal grating of the corridor, the very tip of his tail twitching with every padded step.Leigh Kimmel

Of course, if you didn’t send in a prompt last week, you’re welcome to help yourself to a spare! And if you’d like to submit a spare prompt, just email as above, but put ‘spare’ in the subject line. We understand life means commitment is hard. You never know what’s going to happen in the coming week. Keep your options open… and grab a spare.

SpareWe spirits always drink spirits to keep our spirits up.
SpareThere was an empty birdcage on the balcony, with its door wide open…
SpareThe rental carriage came with a full team of golden cobras…
Spare“We’re reinstituting wars,” Linda told Mack. “One by Friday, please.”
SpareWhat happens when the rock star gives his lucky guitar away to someone reminding him of his younger self?

Don’t go! Come back this week and watch the responses come in to the various prompts. It’s amazing the variety we get, and the fun we have with these prompts. See you in the comments!

18 comments

  1. My prompt this week was from Becky Jones: The neighbor’s dog has been barking his fool head off for the last couple hours. Do you go check to see what’s going on, or do you reinforce the magic wards around your place and hope whatever it is doesn’t head your way?

    I decided to set this one in a rural area, the neighbours being farmers whose farmhouses are on opposite sides of the main road. And since there’s magic I came up with a suitable magical monster.

    I looked out of the Front Room window again. Just visible in the dusk light was the outline of Krethinan’s farmhouse. Not visible any longer were the short drive between our farmhouse and the main road, the main road, and Krethinan’s drive the other side.

    Krethinan’s dog was still barking, the assistance wards flashing that Krethinan needed help with some dangerous creature or other. But Krethinan had cried “Dragon!” too often over the past year – frequently asking for help for a stray wolf or something else that he could have dealt with by himself. None of us took any notice of his requests for assistance any more – we just assumed it was something minor he didn’t actually need us for.

    But the dog was still barking. It had been barking for about two hours. If it was some minor trouble (as before) then surely Krethinan should have been able to deal with it himself by now. Still, without confirmation that it was something dangerous enough to require my assistance I wasn’t going to leave the warmth of my home. And as long as it kept barking I didn’t think any of us would be going to sleep tonight.

    Then I saw a red glow beyond Krethinan’s farmhouse. As I continued to look the glow flared into flames. One of Krethinan’s barns was ablaze. Suddenly the situation shifted from annoying but probably nothing I needed to worry about into a potential emergency that needed all available hands in the fields. Something that could breach a farmer’s pest wards and overwhelm the anti-flame wards attached to a barn was not a minor annoyance, but a creature that needed stopping before it burned down half the farms in the neighbourhood.

    No-one else was going to answer Krethinan’s call – calling “Dragon!” had its consequences after all. But he probably needed all our help, so I set our assistance wards flashing. Our fellow farmers wouldn’t ignore my call for help, and when they got here they’d probably spot where the real trouble lay – but just in case I had a quick word with my wife – she’d direct anyone knocking on our door across the road.

    I made my way quickly to Krethinan’s house, using a light globe to light my way. Making my way around the side I saw the blazing barn on the other side of the next field. Krethinan was standing nearby. He appeared to be trying to do two things at once: Putting out the flames on his barn; and repelling a monster. He wasn’t doing either that successfully.

    As I approached I recognised the monster – it was a dragomander, a cross between a dragon and a salamander. Dragons were bad enough, with their ability to fly long distances and burn our sheep and cattle to death, but add in the salamander’s ability to set any building it touches on fire and the situation was ten times worse – and potentially a lot more financially damaging.

    The priority had to be to drive the dragomander off so that it couldn’t burn any more farm buildings, but if the barn fire spread too far it could be as dangerous as the dragomander.

    “Do you want me to focus on the dragomander, so you can damp the fire?” I yelled as I jogged up to Krethinan’s side.

    “You might have come earlier, but better late than never. That sounds a good plan.”

    I didn’t bother responding to his jibe. Every other farmer for miles around knew why Krethinan had been left to deal with the monster on his own for two hours – and until Krethinan figured it out for himself nothing I could say would change anything, but saying the wrong thing might make working with him much more difficult.

    I left Krethinan to damp the flames – not easy given their magical origin – and focussed my magical energies on creating and maintaining a new pest ward to keep the monster from forcing its way to any other building. I didn’t have the magical strength to drive it off on my own – I had enough experience with the dragons that tried to eat the region’s flocks or herds every few years to know that much – but I could hold it off for long enough for the rest of our neighbours to assemble.

    It took another hour to force the dragomander to fly back to its home in the mountains. By then I was exhausted. Thankfully the neighbourhood had rallied at my summons, otherwise all of Krethinan’s farm would now be ablaze and mine would probably be next. And now that the monster had flown off the dog was silent again.

    I invited all six of the assisting group back to mine for a mug of tea before they made their way back to their own farms – Krethinan hadn’t bothered, not that I was surprised. We left him to deal with what was left of his barn.

    The seven of us spent an enjoyable hour conversing around the kitchen table with each other. My wife joined us, and refilled our mugs with more tea as needed – I for one was so tired I couldn’t imagine getting up to refill mine for myself. Then it was past time for my friends to go back to their homes, so we said goodbye.

    My wife and I went upstairs to bed. As for Krethinan, I might see him tomorrow, and if he asked for help rebuilding I’d consider it.

    Liked by 2 people

      • My thinking is that the farming culture in the above story is one of do what you can yourself, ask for help when you need it (and only when you need it), and help others as needed because you’ll need their help sooner or later.

        So ‘my farmer’ will be expected to assist if asked unless he has a reasonable excuse. But he could play with his excuses. If anyone else asked for help he’d probably think through what he had planned for the day, and if anything had to be done that day go “Sorry, I need to do [something/multiple things] today. Do you mind if I come round in about four hours/tomorrow?” And then he’d make sure that he would be able to help as proposed. He wouldn’t need to consider helping them, only when he’s actually able to do so.

        With Krethinan it will be different. I think he’s more likely to remember that a dry wall has needed rebuilding for a couple of weeks and needs doing within the month, and claim he needs to deal with it today as a reason for not being able to help – with no reference as to when he’ll be available.

        Krethinan might suspect, but as long as he’s actually working on the dry wall (or whatever else he uses as an excuse) there’s nothing overt about the ‘help avoidance’. I suspect that most of the other farmers in the area will use the same trick to avoid helping Krethinan out for the immediate future.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I think this story should be used in orientation classes for new employees, when we tell them to ASK QUESTIONS IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! Well done!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes it takes a while for something to click on a prompt. Near the end of last year, I was completely stymied by a prompt about elves coming out of the hills. I had a setting and one interesting character, but no actual story. Then last week I was reading some historical materials and thinking “what if the Underground Railroad were a literal railroad, except it’s magical and running underground along the ley lines between the old Indian mounds?” Then everything started falling together about a parallel immigration in faerie, with al the attendant problems, and the mortal and fairy realms being pulled together by a common cause, to both gain and peril. So far I’ve only got the first scene, and I have a feeling that I need to do a whole bunch of research both on fairy lore and on the years leading up to the Civil War, but it’s a project that may actually happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. AC Young prompted…

    The trophy was fashioned out of silver, and had three handles shaped like snakes.

    A quick look at a trophy with snakes…

    I should know better than to ask Google about a trophy with snakes. Rugby? England and Scotland? What… Aha! Apparently, in ages long past, there was a rugby club in Calcutta. While they enjoyed the sport, the club slowly failed as other sports overtook the field, and players went off to play those other sports. However, the club gathered their silver rupees (yes, real silver money) and had it made into a trophy, with three rampant cobras as handles, and an elephant on top! Then they sent it to England, with the provision that the teams there should vie for it annually. And indeed, there is an annual Calcutta cup tournament! However, the original trophy is no longer handed around. Instead, a replica is used, while the original rests in a museum. So, when the rugby players of England and Scotland play for the Calcutta cup, they are honoring that long-gone club of rugby players in India, who loved the game enough to put their money into a trophy that still calls teams into the scrum, and to try, try, try!

    I may (or may not) figure out a story, yet. But at least I know something about a trophy with snakes… and you do too!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, it was fun finding out about that trophy! And thinking about those club members, who decided to put their money into a trophy for folks in England to vie over. Interesting background!

        Liked by 1 person

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