It’s freezing across the United States, and with the cold has come snow, ice, and wind chill. Grab some hot chocolate, or perhaps some ice wine if you’re so inclined, and use the time you’re not digging your way out to get your creative on.
Want to swap prompts? Email firstname.lastname@example.org – give a prompt, get a prompt.
|Cedar Sanderson||One scientist says to another, “you know what this means? According to the data, time is running out.” The other: “For what?”||nother Mike|
|Fiona Grey||“My lady, there appears to be a dragon invasion underway.”||Becky Jones|
|AC Young||Someone arrives at court to find that the lawyer they’ve hired is a talking cat.||Leigh Kimmel|
|nother Mike||When the wine steward served the wine and pulled the cork, there was a message inside the bottle…||Cedar Sanderson|
|Becky Jones||Why did the cat send you a text?||Fiona Grey|
|Leigh Kimmel||You’re digging into a snowdrift to make a snow cave, and it opens into *somewhere else.*||AC Young|
Prefer to peruse? Find your inspiration by picking up a spare.
|Spare||After a moment of confusion, the dust cleared. There, lying next to the fallen tree, was a gigantic…|
|Spare||Magical carrier pigeons|
|Spare||“Once upon a time….and they all had tacos. The end.”|
|Spare||Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.|
|Spare||In the new suburb, the burglar broke into houses and left cupcakes in the kitchens.|
|Spare||There was a jar of plastic ants in the kitchen cupboard.|
|Spare||When you opened your front door, the duck in front said “I apologize for the intrusion, but we seem to have lost our way. We’re supposed to be at the fountain in the Peabody Hotel by 11am. Would you be able to direct us?”|
See you in the comments. Stay warm!
Header image by Wild0ne, Pixabay.
You’re digging into a snowdrift to make a snow cave, and it opens into *somewhere else.*
This reminds me of the time we were skiing in Mammoth and my dad stopped on the hill and pointed to a small (maybe 15’x 15′) area that was cordoned off with caution tape. “Where do you think it goes?” he asked. My brother and I stared at him. “Well, into the volcano!” It was a vent for the volcano that was the mountain we were standing on. And, yes, there was steam coming out of it.
This week the prompt came from Leigh Kimmel: You’re digging into a snowdrift to make a snow cave, and it opens into *somewhere else.*
Some sort of portal, but permanent or temporary? Permanent portals would be known by the locals, even if not believed by anyone else, but some random outsiders would go hunting for it anyway. Temporary portals give more freedom as to who and why, so that’s what I went for.
Sabrina and Mike were travelling through the snow-covered mountains. They had set out from one village intending to make their way to another by late afternoon. Unfortunately, neither of them had checked the weather forecast for today – the snowfall had been much more serious than either had expected, and consequently their passage through the pass was slower than intended. Now, mid-afternoon, it was clear that they weren’t going to make it down to their destination by the time darkness fell.
Hiking down to the next village through the snow in the dark was not particularly safe, so the most sensible option was to call it a day and fashion a shelter for the night in the snow. Both Sabrina and Mike extracted the various parts of their snow shovels from their backpacks, put them together, and started to make a snow cave for the night,
A short while later they had dug out a short tunnel into the snow. It was Mike’s turn to dig out some more of the cave, when he suddenly vanished from Sabrina’s sight. She immediately went in after him, made her way swiftly to the end of the tunnel, reached out, and a short period of extreme disorientation later she found herself in a cave, lit by some unknown source. Mike was by her side, also extremely confused.
Behind them both was the smooth rock wall of the cave – the tunnel they had dug through the snow was nowhere to be seen. Even weirder was the company. Before them both were a centaur and a unicorn.
The unicorn spoke, “Thankyou for answering our call for help.”
This confused Mike and Sabrina even more, for they hadn’t heard any such call. Before they had any time to process this or even come up with a sensible response the centaur spoke.
“We need your help with an ice dragon.”
“An ice dragon?” They spoke at the same time, expressing the same surprise and shock at this additional element to the scenario before them.
“Yes. Blue scales; four legs; flies; breaths snow and ice; radiates cold. Just your standard ice dragon.”
“I’m sorry, erm, Messrs Unicorn and Centaur, but we’re more than a little lost. We were trying to build ourselves a shelter for the night when we were yanked here.” Mike had found his voice, and was trying to be polite.
“I’m sorry, we haven’t introduced ourselves. I am Phachenus, and my unicorn friend is called Moonbeam.”
“As Phachenus has mentioned, we have a slight problem with an ice dragon. It has decided to stay on one of the peaks at the side of our valley. Normally, we would be able to drive it off with a heat lantern, but this particular ice dragon is very clever. It has breathed enough snow and ice around its chosen peak that we can’t climb near enough on four hooves.
“So we used our magic to call for help, and you made your way through the portal to answer it.”
“So, erm, Moonbeam, why doesn’t this – what did you call it? – this heat lantern melt the snow for you?” Sabrina was trying to be practical.
“Physical heat has no effect upon an ice dragon, they just overpower it with their cold. To drive it away with physical heat we’d need something at a temperature far beyond what we’re capable of generating. So we use a magical heat source, but this has no effect on snow and ice.”
“Can’t you just wait until it flies away again?” Sabrina again.
“No. The longer it remains on its peak the colder the valley gets. Eventually the grass will die and we’ll be forced to move elsewhere.”
“Do you mind if we discuss this between ourselves for a bit?” This time it was Mike who spoke up.
The unicorn and centaur agreed and trotted out of sight.
Mike and Sabrina looked at one another. “Does this make any sense to you?”
“No, but I don’t think there’s any way back without their help. I think we’re going to have to do as they ask.”
Mike grimaced. “I think you’re right. Let’s hope they can send us back when we’re done.”
It was Sabrina’s turn to grimace. “I missed that they didn’t promise to return us, but if they created a ‘portal’ to bring us here they should be capable of creating one in the other direction. We can but hope.”
The decision agreed, the pair passed further into the cave. Passing round the corner they found the unicorn and the centaur.
“We’ve agreed to help you with your ice dragon problem. What equipment can you supply us with? Our packs are still on our side of your portal.” Sabrina was as ever very practically minded.
“I believe we can supply you with all the equipment you will need,” said Phachenus. “Inanimate objects are easier to transport through a portal than living things, so we’ve collated quite a collection of things you may find useful.”
He led the way to another chamber in what the humans now realised was a cavern complex. There they found a decent supply of cold weather and climbing gear. On a pedestal sat an old-fashioned looking lantern. No-one needed telling that this was the magical heat lantern that was needed to drive off the ice dragon.
A few minutes later Mike and Sabrina were better equipped for the challenge ahead. The four-legged pair guided them to the main entrance to the caverns.
Moonbeam pointed with her horn at one particular peak above them. “The ice dragon is up there. We will be praying for your success.”
Mike and Sabrina said their goodbyes and headed up the slopes. It was difficult going but they persevered, helping the other as and when needed. It took two hours of hard going before they heard a whimper of pain from above them. As they continued the hard slog of climbing the peak the whimper grew into a high-pitched scream. Then the scream faded into the distance, almost as if the creature making it had flown away.
An hour later the pair finally reached the top, to find nothing there. The scream had been the ice dragon unable to bear the heat radiating from the magical heat lantern that they had stored in the pack they had collected from the cavern store, and which Mike was now wearing on his back. The fading of that scream had been the ice dragon giving up its place and flying off.
Making their way down was even harder than going up. Fortunately it seemed as though time was different in this world than in their own – here it was still about midday as they stood on the peak. Finally they made it back down to the caverns.
Moonbeam awaited them at the head of a herd of unicorns. Phachenus likewise headed a herd of centaurs. All welcomed the return of their heroes.
“Thankyou for your help. You have saved this valley from death.”
To Moonbeam’s gratitude was added Phachenus’ “We are all deeply in your debt. We may never be able to repay you.”
The pair looked at each other before Sabrina responded. “Your gratitude is greatly appreciated, but return to our world would be even more appreciated.”
Moonbeam’s and Phachenus’ heads dropped slightly, both looking somewhat abashed. “I am sorry,” said Moonbeam, “we were so desperate that we didn’t specify the world on the other end of the portal. Any help from any world that could supply it would do.
“We can create a portal for you, but we will need to fix the world on the other side or it won’t work, and until you’re through you won’t know which world we’ve sent you to.”
“So you can’t send us home?” Sabrina was on the verge of tears.
“We can try.” Moonbeam sounded ashamed. “But we could send you somewhere else, and no-one would know until it was too late to send you elsewhere.”
Mike didn’t say anything. He just hugged Sabrina. Then he whispered in her ear, “It looks like we’re stuck here. I should have asked this a while ago: Will you marry me?”
Sabrina stood still as a statue, then broke the hug and kissed him. “Yes,” she whispered back.
Eventually Sabrina turned her attention back to the unicorns and the centaurs. “Since we can’t safely return home we have decided to stay here. We would like to get married. Can that be arranged?”
“Yes,” replied Moonbeam, “that can be arranged.”
And so the next day Sabrina and Mike were married. Phachenus officiated, with the remaining centaurs playing the role of Mike’s family. Moonbeam escorted Sabrina down the aisle, with the remaining unicorns playing the role of her family.
The groom kissed the bride, and so the next chapter in their lives began.
Cedar Sanderson prompted…
One scientist says to another, “you know what this means? According to the data, time is running out.” The other: “For what?”
First cut response…
One scientist says to another, “you know what this means? According to the data, time is running out.”
The other asked, “For what?”
“No, no, time is literally running out. The fourth dimension, time-space, the continuum is about to hit a boundary. Like, the sands of time in the hourglass are almost gone! Time is running out!”
The other scientist looked puzzled for a moment.
His lab partner groaned. “See, there went another grain of time! And we are getting way too close to…”
That was the end.
Well, okay then… (O_o)
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Haha, I expected the time *not* to run out for some reason. I thought it was a scientist joking and then – surprise! Dooooom! So well done, nother Mike!
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… And in the next Universe over some mad scientist in a laboratory somewhere secret pressed stop on his recording machine. After all, there’s no need to continue recording a universe that no longer exists.
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You know, this is very close to what I had in mind with that prompt! Well done.
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[…] Week 7 of the More Odds Than Ends prompt challenge brought me back to a prompt from late last year. I have always liked straight up […]
[…] Jones and I traded odd prompts this week. Check out her dragon invasion […]
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[…] *** This week’s prompt I adapted loosely, but still, I think I hit the spirit of it. From ‘Nother Mike, I had “When the wine steward served the wine and pulled the cork, there was a message inside the bottle…” I prompted ‘Nother Mike in return with “One scientist says to another, “you know what this means? According to the data, time is running out.” The other: “For what?”” If you’d like to read the responses to prompts (you should! So fun) or take part in the creativity challenge yourself, check out More Odds than Ends. […]
This week I wound up with a little bit of Hard SF. Since the prompt begged for fantasy! https://www.cedarwrites.com/2021/02/23/odd-prompts-glass-and-grape/
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Very nicely done!
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Mine is now up on my LiveJournal at https://starshipcat.livejournal.com/908953.html. It’s kind of fun playing around in a world that’s not exactly Eclipse Phase, but has a lot of the same features. Of course this is just one part of a larger story, so I had to slip some backfill in that will probably be removed in the final form, which will also have some of the elements that distinguish my world from that of Eclipse Phase, like the flight from Earth being the result of the rise of a violently technophobic government on Earth.
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